Like it’s really that hot

Not that you were going to or anything, but if you pointed at my car’s dashboard and asked me “What’s the least-accurate display here?” I’d tell you, without hesitation, that it’s the gas gauge: the last time it bottomed out, the subsequent refill took just under 15 gallons — for a 70-liter (18.5-gallon) tank.

But people don’t post pictures of their gas gauges on Facebook, so this is the complaint:

When the mercury hits the levels we’ve seen in recent days it’s inevitable — someone will post a photo of their car thermometer on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. But how accurate are they?

“They’re parked on hot blacktop; there’s going to be residual heat from just the engine itself, the car may not be moving,” said Bill Linsenmayer with AAA Ohio.

He estimates they’re about 5-10 degrees off from the official temperature measured by the National Weather Service.

Which is specious, unless you happen to be driving past the official National Weather Service weather station. In Oklahoma City, you’re not; it’s tucked away into a corner of Will Rogers World Airport. Out where I live, just off the heat island that is Penn Square Mall, being five to ten degrees off is routine.

Besides, Nissan thought of these objections years ago, and set a delay circuit into the HVAC system I have. This time of year, it’s typically in the middle 80s in my garage at sunrise, and the car’s thermometer will so indicate; if it’s, say, 75 outside, the reading will slowly drop, a degree at a time, until it’s reached 75, somewhere near the mall. (At which time, it’s probably 70 at the airport.) In general, the little display is more accurate than the few remaining time/temperature signs around town: it was 96 degrees yesterday when I passed by a local church that claimed it was 105. (Hellfire and damnation, indeed.) And the only time I’ve ever seen it have problems was when the temperature was about -5, and it kept bouncing between -3 and -4.

Now how Nissan can get climate-control gizmos to do this and yet can’t build an accurate gas gauge to save its Qashqai is beyond me.

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What a day for a daydream

My workaday life contains sufficient dull, repetitive, I-can-do-this-in-my-sleep-and-probably-have activity to support a whole lot of daydreaming, though this is not necessarily a Good Thing, since I have been known to venture off into areas I probably should have shunned, occasionally into areas I literally have shunned. (Several months into the brony culture, I was making a point of avoiding getting lost in fanfiction, but that was a couple of months and a couple of million words ago.)

Which suggests, I suppose, that the marginally rebellious kid I never did quite suppress still crops out from time to time and, once given the instruction “Don’t go there,” promptly goes there. When the prettiest girl in Philadelphia put this picture up on Instagram, I had to slap said kid silly, especially in view of the fact that earlier that week, the lady in question had made the following offhand — maybe — observation:

The good news is my mojo is working. I wish I knew the power of a miniskirt back when I was in my 20’s.

I must point out here that I’ve never seen her in a miniskirt — the night we met for dinner, she was doing that Mary Richards not-too-tailored pants thing — and that this is a hell of a time to act regretful.

And if you regret not owning retro-ish saddle shoes with a stacked heel, Bass, purveyor of Weejuns, will sell you some for $69 or so.

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Green tech, red ink

Purveyors of green technology have not, in general, had an easy time of it of late. This should not surprise anyone, really: despite the Obama administration’s willingness to provide subsidies, the hoped-for product demand has not yet materialized. And rather a lot of these companies are startups, and startups, as any venture capitalist can tell you, tend to fail.

A123 Systems has long since departed startup status, having been in business since 2001. You may already be using one of their products: they make batteries for Black and Decker’s DeWalt line of power tools. And they’re on the edge of the power grid, supplying reserve-storage batteries for power plants. But electric cars may prove to be their undoing:

A123 Systems Inc on Friday told investors it has about five months of cash left to fund operations, adding to woes for a sector short on results and long on government loans.

The company, which received a $249 million grant from the Obama administration as part of a program to develop advanced lithium-ion batteries, said in documents filed with U.S. regulators that it “expects to have approximately four to five months of cash to support its ongoing operations” based on its recent monthly spending average. Its shares fell almost 11 percent despite A123’s announcement of moves to raise $39 million.

The problem, though, seems to be less low demand and more damage control:

“Five transportation customer production programs … have received products from A123 that potentially have defective cells. We are working with these customers to develop a schedule to get them replacement packs and modules to quickly remedy the situation.”

One of those customers is Fisker, which is having troubles of its own.

The recall is costing A123 Systems $55 million, which otherwise could have supported ongoing operations for another two or three months.

(Via The Truth About Cars.)

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Aural timelessness

The composer/musician known as BT has been, if not on my radar, not far below it: Trini, a few years back, showed me “Somnambulist” and his remix of the Doors’ “Break On Through,” and Glenn Reynolds, I seem to remember, was happy to recommend the early (mid-Nineties) single “The Moment of Truth,” back when the label still read “Brian Transeau.” I later hunted down his “The Rose of Jericho” single, but hadn’t yet found a compelling reason to grab a whole album’s worth.

Then last night, Octavia of Operation VR, a band I’ve mentioned here once or twice, sent this into the tweetstream: “Tonight, I am clearing my head from some stress with ‪#ThisBinaryUniverse‬ by @BT as well as his two new albums.”

If The Stars Are Eternal Then So Are You And I by BTI allowed that I’d somewhat lost track of BT, and she filled me in on his later releases. Mostly because of its title, I betook myself to iTunes and picked up If The Stars Are Eternal So Are You And I. (I am, in case you hadn’t noticed, a sucker for that kind of outer-space — or, for that matter, that kind of romantic — metaphor.) It is wholly unlike old-school BT. That little stutter edit he invented is in evidence here and there, but If The Stars… is slightly tilted toward the ambient edge of electronica; BT’s Web site describes it as “a post study to BT’s critically acclaimed 2006 IDM/Classical masterpiece This Binary Universe,” which of course goes onto the want list. (IDM, for the unlettered, yours truly included, apparently means “Intelligent Dance Music.”) There are seven tracks, though they flow into one another so well that separating them seems like an exercise in brutality. Best example: “Hikari,” synth yielding to guitar and piano, followed by “Our Dark Garden,” a simple guitar figure underlying a river of glistening, undulating sounds and, starting about halfway through, a repeated vocal figure. It all slowly fades away, and then drops you into “The Gathering Darkness,” which takes its sweet time getting to danceability. It’s so lovely you won’t care.

Incidentally, another BT album was released more or less simultaneously with this one: Morceau Subrosa (“Undercover Piece”?), which is one long track running 46 minutes or so. If it’s anything like this, it’s a must. Then again, if it’s nothing like this, and apparently it’s not, it’s probably still a must.

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Step, sisters

If you saw the last pair of glass slippers reviewed here and thought “Nice, but they’re not exactly Louboutins, you know,” you’re going to have to think up a new excuse:

Glass slippers by Christian LouboutinFairy tales do come true for fashionistas: Cinderella’s glass slipper is one of film’s most iconic images.

Now Walt Disney Studios — the filmmaker behind the 1950 animated classic — and A-list designer Christian Louboutin have debuted a modern-day stiletto inspired by Cinderella’s famous footwear. It’s all part of a campaign to kick off Disney’s global release of the Cinderella: Diamond Edition on Blu-ray this fall. The design features two sparkling butterflies, crystal covered heels and Louboutin’s signature red soles.

I suppose it’s too much to hope that they’ll put Fats Waller on the disc’s Extras menu.

(Tweeted at me by Jeffro.)

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Fenn for herself

Sherilyn Fenn doesn’t do that sexpot thing anymore, she’d like you to know:

[I]n the process … I lost a lot of myself. Or maybe, it’s not that I lost myself, it’s that it did not allow me discover myself in an organic way as all of these “stories” were put onto me to tell. My choice … no pity party … I am grateful and thankful for my opportunities and memories but this is a look back at it all with different eyes.

I can share that even now I have moments of losing it after having been a “working woman” for SO many years, feel lost, listen to the dogma… But those moments are far outweighed by deep joy in the seeming mundane.

Since “the seeming mundane” often seems to be the very theme of this site, I couldn’t pass that by.

Or this:

Sherilyn Fenn at 46

Biographical note: Sherilyn’s mom was keyboardist Arlene Quatro. If the name “Quatro” rings a bell, well, it should.

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As well they should

Actual headline:

Screenshot: Adidas gives Andy Murray new shorts after balls pop out

Legit story behind it:

Adidas has provided Andy Murray with a new pair of shorts after his tennis balls repeatedly popped out of his shorts during his victory against Marcos Baghdatis.

Murray lost two points during Saturday’s (30 June) showdown with Baghdatis, after a tennis ball fell from his pocket mid-point. Adidas has attributed the faulty shorts to human error, because the pockets on the hand-made shorts had been made too shallow.

Now that’s just nuts.

(Via Christopher Johnson.)

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Gogole, perhaps

Sucuri Security, which keeps a close watch on this site of mine, has found in the wild (though not here, not yet) some malware masquerading as Google AdSense, using the dubious domain google-adsens.com. The purveyors thereof are counting on your not noticing the spelling. This is an old and established Sneaky Trick, as anyone who’s ever gotten an email from paypaI.com can tell you, but it still works often enough to be given a fresh lease on life every now and then.

Also floating about: operaupdatenow.in, msnupdateserver.info, and firefoxstabs.com. The latter might persuade some people: who hasn’t wanted to stab Firefox lately?

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Calling Mr Darwin

I’ve said before that striving for inconspicuousness is highly useful when driving at extralegal, and especially extra-extralegal, speeds.

In other words, don’t do this:

Investigators are trying to track down a driver who filmed himself speeding along Highway 15 in the town of Mirabel [Québec] at speeds of 190 kilometers per hour — about the equivalent of 118 miles per hour in the United States.

The brazen driver cackles and laughs while swerving through law-abiding traffic and passing along the shoulder several times. Police in the area say they have noticed an uptick in drivers filming their own illegal maneuvers and posting the videos online.

There are, most assuredly, more efficient ways to wind up dead, but this is a pretty good one in its own right.

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Quote of the week

Use the Independence Day holiday as a jumping-off point for political snark? That’s not Tam’s way:

Since I spend the other 364 days a year feeling doomed and teeing off on the sack of bastards that cling leech-like to the body politic and making 2012 American suburbia sound like 1972 Karl-Marx-Stadt in the DDR only with more cable channels, I took one day off to feel like an American: I rolled around in a pile of 30-round magazines like Scrooge McDuck and did some snapping-in with an AR-15; I mooned a picture of the queen of England; I read whatever the hell I wanted to, even a few pages in a book printed by the CPUSA wondering if they could beat the Army in a guerrilla war; I sang “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”; I ate a delicious beef filet about the size of my head, fresh off the grill, with a ‘tater to match.

I went to bed feeling pretty darn ‘Murrican, let me tell you.

About the only thing she didn’t do was unleash a crapload of Chinese-made incendiary devices, though the McCains were there, or at least somewhere, to take up the slack.

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Getting live if you want it

We mentioned last week that Rebecca Black was at Vidcon, signing autographs and such, and somewhere along the way she recorded her weekly Ask Rebecca video, in which someone asked about her set list at her Wildwood concert. In case you were wondering:

“For sure, I’ll be doing ‘Sing It,’ ‘Friday’ and ‘My Moment,’ and then there will probably be a couple of new songs that I’ll be doing that you guys haven’t heard yet.”

No “Person of Interest”? Shucky-darn.

Were I closer to the Jersey shore, I’d give some thought to attending this little semi-extravaganza, but then, were I closer to the Jersey shore, I’d have gone to BronyCon last weekend.

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We got Thabeet

The Thunder front office’s most recent act of Prestidigitation perplexes me somewhat. Hasheem Thabeet, whose major distinction, apart from being seven-foot-three, is being the highest draft pick (#2) ever sent to the D-League, has found his way onto the Oklahoma City roster. Clark Matthews at The Lost Ogle has opined that Sam Presti has “gambled on … big men with weak motors hoping his team can give them a tune up.”

Royce Young of Daily Thunder analyzes the situation:

Thabeet isn’t being added to play major minutes. He’s essentially moving into the Honorary Cole Aldrich Role of capping off blowouts with an obligatory dunk. But at the same time a low risk, potentially high reward talent to have on the bench.

Which means that Aldrich is now, by default, the #2 center behind Kendrick Perkins, Thabeet sliding into the #3 slot, though Scott Brooks’ enthusiasm for small-ball may limit minutes for both those guys.

My own thinking runs like this: Brooks just signed his new deal, which gets him a major raise, a long-term gig, and a whole lot more pressure. At some point during the negotiation, Brooks, while cracking a smile, may have pointed out that he is, after all, a man of infinite patience. Hasheem Thabeet may be Sam Presti’s way of testing that patience.

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Diagnosis: CDO

Lucy Mangan, writing for Stylist, describes the origin of her obsessive-compulsive disorder:

My OCD came on when I was six and accidentally drank some weedkiller. My mother rushed me to the sink and my dad made me swallow salt water so that I was sick. It was dramatic and frightening but better, of course, than dying. From then on, I became obsessed with germs. Germs that wanted to do me a deep, personal and quite possibly fatal wrong. They were everywhere, but especially in crowds, on things in shops and on carpets. I refused to go barefoot anywhere, even at home. I edged round shops with my arms pressed fiercely against my sides, like a miniature hyperventilating guardsman. Any strange speck or mark in or on anything — especially food — could be toxic and was spurned by my ever-alert infant self.

Soon I began something which I now know is common in OCD sufferers, “catastrophising” — that is, instantly envisaging the worst possible outcome to any given situation, no matter how innocuous.

I do that latter myself. Rather a lot of it, in fact. I couldn’t tell you how it started, though.

A commenter under the name “Carbon” says “Good story,” then adds: “But it would be better if the first letter of each paragraph were in alphabetical order.” Yes indeedy.

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But it looked so good on the lot

We call it “sold as-is,” the Brits call it “sold as seen,” but the result is pretty much the same either way:

Car bought sold as seen, 30 mins later, breaks down. Where do i stand?

By the side of the road, with the bonnet raised. (Do not stand in the road: you will present a safety hazard, to yourself and to others.)

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Sorceressence

It is a measure of — well, something, surely — that the next variation on the theme of Sleeping Beauty will be an origin story for the presumably ever-villainous Maleficent, currently in production and scheduled for release in early 2014. (Any structural similarity to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked stories is, of course, entirely coincidental.)

Nancy, chronicler of baby names, asks, reasonably enough: “Do you think we’ll see baby girls named Maleficent when the movie comes out?”

I have my doubts. The name doesn’t lack for mellifluousness, but there’s going to be someone out in the Teeming Milieu who’s going to pronounce it “MALE-fiss-unt,” and that would kill it right there.

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Born on the fifth of July

It’s the 75th anniversary of Spam, which is well worth noting but which means nothing in the context of Rule 5, so here’s a picture of Brazilian model Gianne Albertoni, who’s 31 today:

Gianne Albertoni

In February, Albertoni lost her gig as co-host of the Brazilian magazine show Hoje em Dia, though she will continue to contribute occasional pieces to the program. She’s also a busy little Tweeter. I have no idea what she thinks of Spam.

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