Now with distraction control

Porsche Platinum wheelThis image turned up in a Porsche Cayman review, and I couldn’t figure out why I liked this wheel color so much. I was then, of course, compelled to read the actual review, and discovered that there’s a functional reason for it:

Credit Stuttgart for not submitting to customer demand for less brake dust and thus, cleaner wheels. Fade-resistant stoppers produce a lot of dust; there is no way around it. If clean shoes are high on your OCD meter, Porsche will, for $845, paint your wheels the same as ours, in a near-brake-dust-matching shade it calls platinum. It’s a small price for wheels that thoroughly camouflage filth.

This shade would have been perfect for my second Mazda 626 in “Mojave Beige Mica,” which masked dirt better than any other car I’ve driven. Then again, I bought the stripper version with steelies and plastic covers.

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A slight Caribbean breeze

When green enterprises fail, it’s pretty much for the same reasons any other enterprises fail: insufficient planning up front, insufficient capital behind, or good old-fashioned incompetence. Acolytes of the Church of Environmentalism, of course, prefer to blame the Demon of the Day: the Koch brothers, J. Random Republican, ExxonMobil, or your brother-in-law with the Yukon Denali. It’s hard to see any particular demonic presence here, though, unless you want to count the personification of Bad Luck:

The Santa Isabel [Puerto Rico] wind farm was shut down for a month and a half due to equipment modifications Siemens Energy had to make following malfunctions in the B53 blades at wind farms in Iowa and California. The blades are 170 feet long and weigh 10 tons apiece. 36 out of 44 aerogenerators are now functional.

Pattern Energy, which owns the wind farm, loses $1.5 million each month it can not sell electricity to the local utility, Autoridad de Energía Eléctrica (AEE).

Well, yeah, I suppose there was some incompetence involved. This is the money quote:

[La] eficiencia del proyecto ha sido cuestionada, no por su tecnología, sino porque se instaló en un lugar que no produce el viento necesario para garantizar una generación sostenida.

“[The] efficiency of the project is questionable, not because of technology, but because it was installed in a location that does not produce the wind needed to ensure sustained generation.”

You’d think somebody would have thought of that beforehand.

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And that was the end of that story

Word got out Thursday night that Stage Center was doomed, and the death warrant was signed Friday:

The Oklahoma City skyline is set to grow again with plans set to build a high-rise tower topping 20 stories on the current site of the long-troubled Stage Center theater.

Rainey Williams, president of Kestrel Investments is set to buy the 3.15-acre property Friday morning from the Kirkpatrick Center Affiliated Fund of The Oklahoma City Community Foundation for $4.275 million.

The tower, which will front the Myriad Gardens to the east and the new John W. Rex Elementary to the west, will likely include retail on the ground floor and space for an anchor tenant and potentially other occupants on the remaining floors.

The one saving grace in all this is that an amazingly tedious 5400-post thread on OKCTalk that’s been grinding on for nearly a year and a half will finally screech to a halt.

From a different thread comes this observation:

Williams is a good guy and will do a good job, and prefers the background, but he’ll now forever be known as the guy who tore down Stage Center. Give him a chance.

Fair enough. Let’s see what happens.

Meanwhile, a friend of mine weighs in:

Design isn’t about appearance or beauty. If you want to create art, you can concern yourself solely with beauty or expression. If you want to design something, you need to solve a problem. In this, the designer of the Stage Center has failed. He has failed to solve the very first challenge of building — protecting the contents from the environment. He failed to design a building that could withstand the environment; he has failed to design a building that could be maintained by its owners.

It was a pretty good forty-year run, I think.

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Waiting at the gate

“Zombie fop” Terry McAuliffe is running for Governor of Virginia, and since his main talents are fund-raising and fund-shrinking, not necessarily in that order, Smitty doesn’t think he has much of a chance against Ken Cuccinelli.

Of course, I had this bozo’s number back in ought-four, and in a dream sequence no less:

Sunrise on the prairie. I’m awake for once, and I have time to kill, and as the fellow spins around with my breakfast, the little bell in the back of my head emits the faintest hint of a tinkle, reminding me that I shouldn’t have had the large orange juice.

And then it hits me: “Don’t I know you from somewhere?”

“I’m sure you don’t,” he says, and turns away.

The girl from the checkout counter catches him in mid-turn. “Terry, I can’t read this. Is this the short stack or the full stack? You didn’t write down the price.”

I looked at him again. “Aren’t you Terry McAuliffe?”

No response.

“I know I’ve seen you on the news. Terry McAuliffe. Head of the Democratic National Committee all those years. What in the world are you doing slinging hash in Snake’s Navel, Kansas, fercrissake?”

His voice dropped to a whisper. “Not so loud.”

“It is you, isn’t it?”

“That goddamn John Kerry,” he said. “I worked my ass off to keep him within reach for the whole year, and in the last week he pissed it all away. Didn’t get the electoral vote, didn’t get the popular vote, didn’t get squat. We damn near lost Connecticut. Somebody had to take the blame.”

He didn’t say anything more, and I wasn’t about to ask. Besides, the eggs were runny.

And no, I’m not expecting any invitations to breakfast in Richmond.

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Ten hands, no waiting

Have you ever been up all night to get Grieg?

You will now.

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Just in time for dinner

From Syaffolee’s travel notebook, somewhere in the Mekong Delta:

There was a lot of seafood, some of it live, still flopping about in narrow metal pans filled with water.

This doesn’t happen quite so often on Classen, if you know what I mean.

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A scare for you

Of the five Spice Girls, perhaps the least heard-from of late is Scary Spice, otherwise known as Melanie Brown, seen here partying only moderately hearty:

Melanie Brown summer of 2013

Where has she been? All over the map, but her current gig is the judging panel of America’s Got Talent, alongside Howard Stern, Howie Mandel, and Heidi Klum.

While poking around the stacks, I turned up something of which I was not aware: Mel had done an episode of Coronation Street. My first thought was “Big deal. Corrie’s been on for fifty-odd years. By now, everyone in Britain, plus a handful of Tunisians, must have done the show.” The whole pre-Spice story:

The intention of the writers was that Andy McDonald and Amy [Nelson] would marry in what would be the first mixed-race wedding of the programme but actress Louise Duprey found the pressures of fame too demanding and soon after the recording of Episode 3601 (1st October 1993) suffered a nervous breakdown. It became clear that she would not return and the next — and final — time that the character was seen was in Episode 3609 (20th October 1993) when she was played by Melanie Brown (later better known as “Scary Spice” of the Spice Girls pop group) although she was only seen in a short scene set in a darkened room in which the cameras concentrated on Nicholas Cochrane. Louise Duprey was found dead of a drugs overdose in Liverpool in 2000. Her body had lain undiscovered for several weeks.

Now that’s scary.

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Sluts by mail

Something billing itself as “pua4done” tagged this “urgent” and dropped it into the maelstrom that is my inbox:

whats up!

I am not going to sit here and waste your time..

If you have ever wished you could pick up any girl YES i mean any girl with just a few simple words or body gestures then your DREAM is now a reality!…

I’m guessing that “pua” is a reference to “pick-up artist,” a phrase recently in vogue. And I’m also guessing that the sender isn’t going to do me any favors if I click on his link, which is anchored to the following text:

watch my free video and you too can pick up any girl at your leasure.. Or how about make the next girl you see want to tear off your clothes and suck YOUR dick!

What I really question, though, is that emphasis on that final “YOUR,” as though … oh, never mind.

From a different email address, but addressed to the same mailing list — you guys don’t spoof very well, do you? — was something titled “Looking for NSA Hookup.” I assume, of course, that NSA has already read this.

Wait, what? Oh, really?

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You can tell the difference

I am of, or perhaps from, an age where learning to shine up one’s shoes was a routine ritual of boyhood. There were two competitors, I knew: Kiwi, which came in a flat can, and Griffin’s, which came in a tall bottle. (If I’d looked, I’d find bottles of Kiwi and cans of Griffin’s, but I never looked that hard.) There was, however, a third, which was well on its way to oblivion, colloquial speech having established, or at least claimed, that it was largely indistinguishable from fecal matter, at least to some of us.

The trademark fell into desuetude, as trademarks will; but this one was revived, for a line of wholly different products. From earlier this month, in beautiful downtown Detroit:

In all honesty, we had no idea how many people would turn out for the grand opening of the Shinola Detroit Flagship store (441 W. Canfield St.) last weekend. So you can imagine how pleasantly surprised we were to be greeted by a long line of beaming Detroiters.

We had our full assortment of American-made products on hand, including men’s and women’s watches, leather goods, bicycles, and journals. But I think we surprised some people with the array of collaboratively-produced and curated items we also have in our store, such as leather-covered bike locks (a collaboration with Map of Days), jeans by Detroit Denim, Shinola bike bells, ceramic vessels by Local Portion, and a curated newsstand.

The stuff is pricey — watches start around $400, bicycles at two grand. Still, I have to believe there exists a market for this kind of thing, and if the conversation must open with WWII-era snark, well, at least Shinola v2.0 has its shiny-shod foot in the door. Meanwhile, Griffin and Kiwi soldier on.

(With thanks to Nancy Friedman, who offers her own analysis of the name.)

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A fitting legacy

How will we remember the Obama administration? What single act encapsulates the entire experience?

If you ask me, it’s this one:

Federal wildlife officials plan to dispatch hunters into forests of the Pacific Northwest starting this fall to shoot one species of owl to protect another that is threatened with extinction.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday released a final environmental review of an experiment to see if killing barred owls will allow northern spotted owls to reclaim territory they’ve been driven out of over the past half-century.

The two other non-owl players in this scenario are not at all pleased:

“Shooting a few isolated areas of barred owl isn’t going to help us as forest managers, nor is it going to help the forest be protected from wildfires, and catastrophic wildfire is one of the big impediments to spotted owl recovery,” said Tom Partin, president of the American Forest Resource Council, a timber industry group.

Bob Sallinger, conservation director for the Audubon Society of Portland, said saving the spotted owl is of paramount importance, but the focus must remain on protecting habitat. “To move forward with killing barred owls without addressing the fundamental cause of spotted owl declines, from our perspective, is not acceptable,” he said.

This is not the first time the Feds have come up with a plan like this:

Between 2000 and 2006, wildlife officials captured and removed more than 40 golden eagles from the Channel Islands off Southern California to protect the island fox. They also hired a company to kill 5,000 feral pigs on Santa Cruz in a controversial program to restore the island’s ecosystem.

For some reason, they couldn’t persuade the eagles to dine on the pigs rather than on the foxes; large signs containing mandatory nutritional information, I suspect, might not have worked.

Still, they’re overlooking the most obvious solution: relocate the spotted owls to Detroit. One more predator there will scarcely be noticed.

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The old one-two to the 313

Bill Quick modestly proposes a solution to both illegal immigration and Detroit’s insolvency:

Let’s roast two birds with one stone. Are you an illegal alien? Would you like to become a legal resident? Fine. All you have to do is emigrate to Detroit, pledge never to join a union, and agree not to accept any welfare or other government support payments whatsoever. In turn, Detroit will become a free economic zone with no federal, state, or local taxes, and no government regulations.

This might even encourage some of the 700,000 remaining residents to stick around, assuming the deal was offered to them.

How would this work? Cutting off benefits in that zone could be seen as a violation of equal protection; but they’re not technically being cut off, only being refused by the would-be beneficiaries. I’ve seen thinner hairs than that being split. (It is assumed for purposes of illustration that reneging on that deal would presumably, once the benefits application was received, get you a one-way trip back to wherever.) And truth be told, I like the idea of this purely as an experiment. Surely it can’t be any worse than what’s in Detroit now.

See also this Michael Bloomberg proposal.

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Further and future tweaks

I was working on the back end yesterday, so to speak, and started wondering if maybe I should move up beyond PHP 5.2.x, inasmuch as WordPress is now recommending 5.2.4 as the absolute minimum.

The host now sends new accounts by default to 5.3 and FastCGI, so that was the package for which I opted. It sped things along a bit, but they were also offering 5.4, so after a decent interval (about eight hours) I bumped up to the 5.4 level; with 5.4.11, I’ve cut my RAM usage by a third.

As it happens, 5.5 is out now, and 5.5.1, released last week, is the latest stable release. When that’s available to me, I’ll grab it.

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To cheat the wind

Lest you think that electronic musicians are just happy hedonists, allow me to pass on the following news:

State building codes do not require that schools provide safe rooms, leaving the decision to individual school districts. FEMA distributes grant money to states after major disasters to give communities an incentive to rebuild smarter and to avoid costlier disasters in the future. But support is limited, and local school districts still must come up with around a quarter of the costs for storm improvements.

Shelter Oklahoma Schools was created with the purpose of providing storm shelters in and around Oklahoma schools and communities. World renowned producers have banded together and donated tracks for a special release on the PIN23 Net Label as a fundraiser release for the Shelter Oklahoma Schools project. ALL SALES will go to

Says compiler Jack Acid: “Amazing to see so many artists outside of Oklahoma, and outside of America even, wanting to help.”

Here’s the full scoop and the track list. The album — 38 tracks, 320-kbps MP3 — is a measly ten bucks, and all proceeds go towards getting storm shelters for Oklahoma schools.

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The fuller portfolio man

Stockbrokers are now peddling their wares door to door. Or at least one of them is: Edward Jones, the St. Louis-based investment firm that maintains strip-mall offices, each with a single counselor, dropped by the palatial estate at Surlywood this morning, while normal people are at work. Upon receiving no answer at the door, the chap left a booklet whose middle pages incorporated a table containing about 180 widely held stocks and their one-word advice (BUY, HOLD, SELL) on each.

I did like the disclaimer:

The Edward Jones Research department typically recommends industry-leading companies that appear reasonably valued. A well-diversified approach is typically used without significant over- or under-weighting (in comparison to the S&P 500) in any one sector. An index is not managed and is unavailable for direct investment. Performance results do not represent actual trading and may not reflect the impact that material economic and market factors might have on our decision making if we were actually managing clients’ money.

For an investment firm, this seems unusually forthright.

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Sunset over England

It’s truly the end of an era:

David “Slightly Less Insane” Payne presumably will fill Gary’s slot, if never, ever his shoes.

Update: TLO’s full story.

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Funny threads on this screw

Two months ago, Yahoo! bought Tumblr and promised “not to screw it up.” And then last week, they screwed it up, only to attempt hurriedly to unscrew it:

Friday, it was revealed that Yahoo’s Tumblr brand had exiled its “Adult” blogs separately from its “NSFW” blogs into a non-searchable ghetto where they were de-indexed from both internal and external search — making an estimated 12.5 million blogs unfindable.

Within 24 hours Tumblr has quietly returned the blogs back to internal and external search, and folded its “Adult” blogs into the wider “NSFW” category.

See also Tumblehead David Karp’s statement, which indicates that a lot of blogs which were neither Adult nor NSFW but tagged with various LGBTQ terms were caught in the undertow, requiring Karp’s minions to develop better filters.

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