Inversion layer

Bertel Schmitt discloses one aspect of selling cars in China that barely resembles the American model:

People who know the world’s largest car market will tell you that “Chinese want big cars with small engines.” They want roomy cars that signal that the owner has been prosperous; the engine however should be small enough to deliver a miserly consumption of gas, or “oil” as they say in China.

Meanwhile, we cram 650 ponies into a lowly Chevrolet (née Daewoo) Aveo.

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Overfed need not apply

Jersey City has attempted to define that nebulous term “starving artist”:

Artists interested in the affordable housing [set aside for those meeting the following criteria] must be certified by the city Artist Certification board that has certified nearly 500 artists citywide. For more information, call [em][number redacted].

1) Commitment to the fine arts as a career
2) Need for a large loft space
3) An arts education
4) Current body of work
5) Exhibition record
6) References from other artists or art professionals

How many of those “affordable housing” units does Jersey City have for these nearly five hundred artists? Seven.

I’m reasonably certain none of the “artists” from those loud TV commercials who end up painting stuff like geese playing Yahtzee for the benefit of buyers who select their artwork on the basis of whether it can cover both the cracks in the living-room plaster will ever end up in one of these lofts.

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404 from the 212

This nifty little drawing of a newsboyperson appears on the 404 page from nydailynews.com:

404 image from the New York Daily News

Then again, I was a fan of the original Newsies, so make of that what you will.

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Rebuked beneath his eye

Tony at the Lost Ogle finds a particularly egregious example of the Digital Divide:

[A]m I wrong or is the very next thing Congress needs to do is pass a rural broadband bill? Or at least an “Affordable Google For All” Act. What the hell. Can you believe there are people who still have to write in to Walter Scott to ask their celebrity questions, and then wait until Sunday for Parade Magazine so they can get an answer? This should be a national outrage!

It’s hard to believe that there are people who still believe there’s such a person as Walter Scott.

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Say unctuous

The following was left as a comment to this post, which is now close to setting a site record for Most Comment Spam Per Word.

Can I just say what a relief to seek out somebody who really is aware of what theyre speaking about on the internet. You undoubtedly know methods to carry a problem to light and make it important. More people must read this and perceive this aspect of the story. I cant believe youre not more well-liked since you undoubtedly have the gift.

I can’t believe it’s not buttering me up.

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Pattern detected

Yeah, it’s pretty much like this:

Gun Legislation demotivational poster

(Snagged from American Specialty Ammo’s Facebook page. With thanks to Jeffro.)

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Scan this, pal

You already know what I think of supermarket self-checkout:

I am not fond of this particular implementation anyway: the scanning zone seems to be wildly variable, and it may refuse your can of tomato sauce right in front of its frickin’ laser beam because it’s worried about something it thinks you tried to sneak into a bag without scanning at all. After that, finding out it’s running on some form of Windows merely elicits a “That figures.”

Still, apparently they’re popular enough to merit a Consumerist survey:

Are they intended to be used for small purchases of just a few items — or is it perfectly fine to get in line with a full week’s worth of groceries?

At the only places I’d be likely to use them, there’s no room for a whole Cart Full O’ Stuff: there are only three bagging stations, and if you’re lucky two of them will be cooperating. The Homeland store I patronize on occasion has a flat 20-item limit. Does the machine cut off at 20? Um, no. Don’t ask me why I know that.

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Take that, Ralph

You gotta love this:

1964 Corvair Monza rear view

A sight to see at the Corvair Society of America’s convention, last weekend in Sturbridge, Massachusetts: a shot across Ralph Nader’s bow. The caption thereupon:

Kevin Willson of Juneau, Alaska, sports a license plate meant to mock the quirky car’s reputation for being deadly.

Willson’s car appears to be a ’64, which also sported some rear-suspension improvements over the original: Chevy softened up the rear coils and added a Corvette-like transverse leaf spring, which did wonders to tame the tail-happiness that so disturbed Nader. (In ’65, a new independent rear suspension, arguably better than Corvette’s, eliminated it completely.) If you told me I could have any late-Sixties sled I wanted, I’d probably ask for a second-generation Corvair.

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Where’s my stuff?

Contents magazine has proposed “standards for the care and feeding of user-generated content,” something which matters if, for instance, you had to rescue a site from GeoCities before Yahoo! turned it into a ghost town. One of those standards, as recounted by Jeffrey Zeldman:

If you close a system, support data rescue. Provide one financial quarter’s notice between announcing the shutdown and destroying any user-contributed content, public or private, and offer data export during this period. And beyond that three months? Make user-contributed content available for media-cost purchase for one year after shutdown.

The only time I’ve really had to deal with this myself was the closing of Photoworks, which sent me an email to warn me to retrieve my stuff within two weeks, though technically they’d been closed for nearly a year. The export system, fortunately, was the same one they’d had all along.

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Ask me again in fifty years

“Do people with fall birthdays live longer?” asks The Week, and, as you’d expect from an article with a question mark in the title, the answer given is at best a qualified Maybe:

[R]esearchers studied the lives of more than 1,500 people who were born between 1880 and 1895 who lived to be 100 or older. They found that most of the people who enjoyed extraordinarily long lives had birthdays in September, October, or November. By contrast, a slight majority of people in the non-centenarian population were born in the first half of the year. In fact, three birth months — March, May, and July — had 40 percent fewer centenarians.

I might be more persuaded by this were it not for the fact that both my siblings with fall birthdays are gone.

As to why this should be so at all:

“Childhood living conditions may have long-lasting consequences for health in later life and longevity,” says Leonid Gavrilov, one of the study authors. For example, in the late 19th century, when these men and women were born, their mothers might have had access to better nutrition at different times of the year. Similarly, seasonal infections might have affected fetuses in the womb, hitting those conceived in different months at significantly different points in their development. Also, the milder fall weather might have helped babies born then to grow up stronger by protecting them from extra stress.

Of course, by the time they have all the numbers for those of us born within a few ticks of 1950, I’ll be in no position to post an update.

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Strange search-engine queries (339)

It occurs to me that if I did this only once every four years, it would be just as much work, and you’d probably read it five hours late.

friday related song:  I think we can safely eliminate “Manic Monday” and maybe “Ruby Tuesday.”

kirk “i will destroy it”:  This was Plan B. (Plan A was “I will date it.”)

fictional Governor Preston:  You know, we should start electing more fictional governors. Eventually one of them might become a fictional President, which might be an improvement over the last few real ones.

what nissan car cost $120,000:  The GT-R, if you include tax, license, and the cost of insuring the driver who bought it after thinking he could use it for drifting after watching The Fast and the Furious too many times.

reset the server to its dreamhost-approved configuration:  Hosed up your Web site, did you?

can you get chlamydia from trying on bikinis without underwear:  Write the word “moist” on the blackboard 100 times, and stay out of T. J. Maxx for a year.

why did joan blondell’s breasts wobble when she walked:  Never seen any actual breasts, have you?

oge wind power downside:  It’s called “July,” when it’s 103 in the shade if you have any shade, and the wind is deader than a snow-cone shop in Tierra del Fuego.

burrito cheapest gas in town:  Yeah, but the octane rating isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

what qualifies as a nightmare:  Watching campaign ads in an election year.

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Wafting from the pages

Last year I declared at least temporary loyalty to the old-fashioned book, as distinguished from the new electronically-distributed variety, prompting this comment from a reader:

For me an e-reader, obviously, will never replace the tactile pleasure I receive from the printed pages of a book, its cover and binding, fonts and all the rest, the sheer physicality of its existence.

Part of that sheer physicality, apparently, is its scent:

Gerhard Steidl was first alerted to the importance of the smell of a book by Karl Lagerfeld, prompting a passion for paper and the composition of a scent on the pages of a book. To Wallpaper* magazine the pairing of the publisher with the perfumer seemed a natural partnership and so the idea for Paper Passion was born. Wallpaper* magazine commissioned master perfumer Geza Schoen to create a fragrance based on the smell of books to be part of the Wallpaper* magazine Handmade exhibition in Milan.

This is an opportunity to celebrate all the gloriosensuality of books, at a time when many in the industry are turning against them.

Paper Passion, the book and the scent, is out now for $98.00. I know just the fictional character for whom I’d buy this.

(Via kottke.org.)

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We were all completely aghast

I don’t make a habit of going ranty at the office — which is not to say I never have, not by any means — but I’m not above mocking ill-conceived ideas, of which we have always had an abundance. Earlier this year, bits and pieces of a scheme were disclosed to me through, let us say, an informal channel, to which I responded something along the lines of “Are you shitting me? These people couldn’t schedule a fart after a trip to Taco Bell.”

In view of this, I am perhaps rethinking that judgment. [Warning: Probably not safe for anywhere.]

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Whole lotta analysis

Willie Dixon used to say that you can’t judge a book by looking at the cover. (And, speaking of covers, Bo Diddley covered that song to such great effect that Dixon’s version is mostly forgotten. Dixon, at least, got paid for that one; it wasn’t until the 1980s that Willie saw any checks from Led Zeppelin’s expropriation of “You Need Love,” which Robert Plant probably remembered from the Muddy Waters cover anyway.)

Oh, right. “You can’t judge a book by looking at the cover.” Well, actually you can, if you’re six years old, though your interpretations might be just a hair askew:

“I think this book is about a sprite that lives in the forest. And she meets a lion, a tiger a bear and a mouse. She also meets a leaf and a tree, it’s a magical book but for teens.”

Which, come to think about it, sounds exactly like One Hundred Years of Solitude, especially if you’re college-age and, um, import certain substances from Colombia.

(The Friar found this first.)

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And a yo-ho-ho to you too

Apparently if you killed off every single illicit download site, every online file-sharing scheme, and every single torrent, music piracy would decrease by, oh, a measly 19 percent:

A leaked report from the music industry shows that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which heavily lobbied to pass the Stop Online Piracy and Protect IP Acts (SOPA and PIPA), reported that digital piracy accounted for only 19% of illegal music acquisition in 2011.

Even more damning, under the heading “SOPA/PIPA debate,” the report admitted that “legislation [was] not likely to have been an effective tool for music.”

The report, dated April 26, is credited to RIAA Deputy General Counsel Vicky Sheckler and was obtained by Torrentfreak.

The major source of, um, unpaid file distribution remains SneakerNet: you carry a copy of the original to a friend’s house. The RIAA’s next move, apparently, will be to require people to stay home.

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Unsealed for your distraction

There were guns for hundreds of years before there were such things as “gun safes.” In fact, Bill Quick, not far from my age, never saw one when he was growing up:

When I was a kid growing up in the midwest back in the 1950s, there were a lot of guns around, but very few actual gun safes.

Parents trained their kids from a very early age how to treat firearms, though. They did this weird thing called “taking responsibility for the safety of their children.”

This latter practice, I’m guessing, slid into desuetude some time after my adolescence. I was marginally skittish about firearms as a teen, but I had reason to believe that my peers would not actually shoot me, since they seemed to know what they were doing. And indeed, I didn’t get shot even once.

My son once caught a BB on a hair-parting trajectory. Then again, nobody I know keeps a BB gun in a safe.

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