The thing about used cars

Some of them can be used for quite a long time, as Matt can testify:

I get a call from Rob Ferretti of Super Speeders, who is also the devil when it comes to fun ideas. He found a 1996 Lexus LS400 in Tampa, Florida, with 897,000 real, verified miles on it, and thought I would like it. Those who know me, or at least know my taste in cars, would agree: if it checked out, I had to have the car. You see, I don’t crave a Ferrari, or really any of your traditional choices in cars, because I’ve seen them all a million times before. I crave the obscure; the interesting; the weird; the story. And buying a 900,000-mile version of my first car for basically no money and taking that bitch to seven figures myself, well my friends, that’s a story.

I don’t think the odo will show that seventh digit, but no matter. It will obviously be a million, because nobody will believe two million, and it certainly isn’t new:

A reasonable amount of money changed hands, and I now own real, tangible evidence of the durability of what is possibly the most important vehicle of the late 20th century, as well as a much more interesting example of my first car. These photos are the actual car I’ve bought, and though it’s had a medium-quality respray, the shift knob looks like crap, and the driver’s seat leather has been replaced, the overall condition is staggeringly good. Every. Single. Accessory. Works. Air Con blows cold, heat blows hot.

Much more than that, you cannot ask. Still, Matt wants to see that million without having to drive a hundred thousand miles all by himself, which explains this:

For reasons that I will make plain to you as soon as they are plain to me, I’m driving a Lexus LS400 with 902,700 miles from Los Angeles to Columbus, OH. My co-driver is the infamous Alex Roy. Our plans to cover a thousand miles a day have been undone by closed interstates and worse travel conditions than anything I’ve ever experienced on the East Coast. Nevertheless the big Toyota is running strong and sure.

I’m starting to think I should look for one of these big Lexi when Gwendolyn (vintage 2000, 156,000 miles) decides to retire. Her shift knob, incidentally, looks great.

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A life less simple

Nicole Richie’s ambitions once extended far beyond being Paris Hilton’s TV sidekick for five years, although things have not always worked out for her: she’s had the occasional brush with the law, and her two novels (The Truth About Diamonds, 2006, and Priceless, 2010) weren’t earthshaking, though Diamonds, thinly veiled autobiography that it appeared to be, did manage to climb to #32 on a New York Times fiction bestseller list.

The camera, at least, has been good to her:

Nicole Richie in Glamour, 2012

By the time that Glamour photoshoot came out in 2012, she’d had two children, Harlow and Sparrow, and married their father, Good Charlotte frontman Joel Madden. (In that order, if you care.)

Still, she runs up against the Rodney Dangerfield Syndrome every now and then. Last night on Facebook:

Screenshot from InStyle's Facebook page featuring Nicole Richie

What’s more, the link was borked.

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The thing with feathers

Halfway through the fourth quarter, the Hawks had outscored the Thunder 15-4, and things hadn’t got much better a couple of minutes later when radio guy Matt Pinto almost totally lost it, incredulous that Kent Bazemore could foul Kevin Durant, protest loudly, stick a fist into the air, and not draw a technical. It didn’t matter so much, perhaps: at the three-minute mark, Atlanta was up 13, and the writing was on the wall. The final was 103-93, the 15th straight win for the Hawks and the end of a four-game winning streak for the Thunder.

Atlanta didn’t do much wrong: they rolled up a lot of turnovers in the first half, finishing with 18, but they absolutely dominated the glass, 47-36, and hit all 13 of their free throws. I strongly suspect that the OKC game plan here was to keep Kyle Korver from doing anything; that, at least, worked, with Korver making only two of five shots. But the four other Hawk starters nailed double figures, led by Paul Millsap with 22 and ten boards. Al Horford collected 12 boards and 14 points; Jeff Teague had 17 points and nine assists. Dennis Schröder paced the bench with 13.

It was a good first quarter for Durant, who rang up nine quick points, but he struggled for most of the rest of the game and finished with 21, just behind Russell Westbrook, who recorded one of two Thunder double-doubles (22 points, 11 assists). Serge Ibaka got the other, 13 points and 10 boards, though he seemed to have trouble with, and from, Millsap all night. Beyond that, nobody with as much as 10: both Dion Waiters and Reggie Jackson shot 3-8, not much worse than the team’s 41 percent.

This road trip ends with a Sunday matinee in Cleveland, and the Cavaliers, who stomped all over the Hornets tonight, would like to even up the season series. Besides, there’s that LeBron fellow. A brief trip home to welcome the much-bloodied Timberwolves, and then back East to Madison Square Garden and a chance to say hello to Knicks coach Derek Fisher.

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Your coordinates had better be exact

Because we have a transporter now, kinda sorta:

In case all of the recent talk about artificial intelligence wasn’t enough of a technologically-driven existential crisis for you, we now have a 3D printer that will “teleport” objects by beaming their specifications to another printer and then destroying the original object. But why destroy the original? Well, we don’t want any Thomas Rikers running around, do we?

Not multiple Rikers, no.

The 3D printer, which was named “Scotty” by its inventors at the Hasso Plattner Institut because of course it was, is like Star Trek’s transporter in that it doesn’t teleport so much by moving matter as it does by accurately reconstructing it in another place. 3D printers aren’t capable of reproducing living creatures (yet), but Scotty can already easily transport simple objects.

Don’t think Starship Enterprise; think Ship of Theseus, as discussed here and here.

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Gaia, you stupid bint

The WaPo Wonkblog counts up all the federal disaster declarations in the last fifty years, and declares the most dangerous counties in the land:

The award for most disaster-prone place in the U.S. goes to Los Angeles County, CA, which has experienced 53 disasters in that time period — on average, a little more than one disaster per year. These include 35 fires, 6 each of storms and floods, 1 hurricane-related (Katrina evacuees), 3 earthquakes, and 2 deep freezes.

In fact, Southern California counties account for four of the top 5 disaster-prone counties in the U.S., driven primarily by the frequency of fires and floods there.

How could any place compete with that horrifying record?

Oklahoma County, OK comes in at number 4, on the strength of its severe storms, fires and ice storms.

Oh, that’s how.

We’ve had 39 such declarations in that half-century. Don’t even think of counting state disaster declarations.

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BlackBerry wants affirmative action

At least, that’s how this reads to me:

Unfortunately, not all content and applications providers have embraced openness and neutrality. Unlike BlackBerry, which allows iPhone users to download and use our BBM service, Apple does not allow BlackBerry or Android users to download Apple’s iMessage messaging service. Netflix, which has forcefully advocated for carrier neutrality, has discriminated against BlackBerry customers by refusing to make its streaming movie service available to them. Many other applications providers similarly offer service only to iPhone and Android users. This dynamic has created a two-tiered wireless broadband ecosystem, in which iPhone and Android users are able to access far more content and applications than customers using devices running other operating systems. These are precisely the sort of discriminatory practices that neutrality advocates have criticized at the carrier level.

Watch for the announcement of a Federal Bureau of Apps.

(Via Farhad Manjoo.)

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I think this might hurt

Maybe it would work with half a 100-mg tab. Then again, this is an antihypertensive, and I’m not at all sure how it would affect one’s eyes.

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If there’s a rustle in your hedge fund

You have every right to be alarmed:

A hedge fund manager told clients he is “truly sorry” for losing virtually all their money.

Owen Li, the founder of Canarsie Capital in New York, said Tuesday he had lost all but $200,000 of the firm’s capital — down from the roughly $100 million it ran as of late March.

“I take responsibility for this terrible outcome,” Li wrote in a letter to investors, which was obtained by

“My only hope is that you understand that I acted in an attempt — however misguided — to generate higher returns for the fund and its investors. But even so, I acted overzealously, causing you devastating losses for which there is no excuse,” he added.

I’m guessing this was not from 90-day oil futures at $200.

(From Zero Hedge [!] via @SwiftOnSecurity.)

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Traveling country breacher

The Oklahoman has been moving this week, to their new downtown digs in the old Century Center. This unexpected email notification almost certainly has nothing whatever to do with the move:

Dear Subscriber,

We have detected an unauthorized attempt to extract logins and passwords from our digital registration system. While we can’t confirm that your email and password were compromised, no access to your financial information occurred nor did this create an exposure for The Oklahoman systems. However, if you use this combination of email and password for other sites, we recommend you update your password on these sites to avoid any potential risks. If you used your Facebook credentials to login to, we can assure you that your Facebook information has not been compromised.

Which is better, I must admit, than getting a notice that my credentials had been compromised. And no, I don’t use that particular password anywhere else.

Addendum: This statement also appears on page 2A of the Thursday edition.

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The man must love his work

Just the same, this is a sucky idea:

A constitutional amendment filed [Wednesday] by state Rep. Paul Wesselhoft would ask voters whether or not they want to replace current 12-year term limits with 16-year term limits.

Wesselhoft said House Joint Resolution 1007 would give Oklahomans a chance to cultivate more experience in their state legislators.

“Each time we term out we lose good people with a great deal of knowledge and leadership,” said Wesselhoft, R-Moore. “This empowers the lobbyist and the directors of agencies, which gives them too much influence over government.”

Or we lose terrible people who exploit the position for their own gain and self-aggrandizement, which also empowers the lobbyist and the directors of agencies.

The rule, says Wesselhoft, would not apply to current legislators. (Guess who hits the wall at the end of 2016?) And if we really want to cut the hangers-on out of the loop, we need something like Glenn Reynolds’ “revolving-door surtax.”

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There’s no face like Noam

The downside, of course, is having to explain him to visitors:

Though the descriptor sounds like something generated by a game of Mad Libs, Just Say Gnome is a purveyor of artisanal garden gnomes. Their flagship product, Just Say Gnome sculptor Steve Herrington explains, was first thought up over a decade ago but is newly getting attention online. Gnome Chomsky The Garden Noam, named, naturally, for linguist, philosopher, and political activist Noam Chomsky, runs between $75 and $195, plus shipping, depending on which of two versions a buyer wants and whether it’s ordered unpainted or painted. Gnome Chomsky sports its namesake’s appearance, but the proportions, cap, and boots of a standard-issue garden gnome.

You’ll have to wait, though:

Both versions are currently out of stock, though Herrington says on the Just Say Gnome website that interested buyers can e-mail him to see about getting one once he prepares more.

Buy one for your transformational grandma.

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Setting a fine example

Someone else is pleased to tell us we’re in deep doo-doo:

Billionaire Jeff Greene, who amassed a multibillion dollar fortune betting against subprime mortgage securities, says the U.S. faces a jobs crisis that will cause social unrest and radical politics.

“America’s lifestyle expectations are far too high and need to be adjusted so we have less things and a smaller, better existence,” Greene said in an interview [Wednesday] at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “We need to reinvent our whole system of life.”

And by “we,” he means “you,” but not himself or the other jerks in the Davos circle:

Greene, who flew his wife, children and two nannies on a private jet plane to Davos for the week, said he’s planning a conference in Palm Beach, Florida, at the Tideline Hotel called “Closing the Gap.”

Perhaps “Closing the Yap” would be more apropos.

(Via Lachlan Markay.)

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Counterspells effective

When a team that’s been getting 70-point first halves gets a 38-point first half, you tend to suspect something is wrong. The Thunder shot just over 30 percent in those 24 minutes; the only reason they were trailing by a mere twelve is that the Wizards were nearly as awful, at 36 percent. And whoever suggested they try to make up the difference with the long ball was out of his gourd: OKC put up ten in that half, and not one of them made it into the net. The only saving grace for the Thunder was Steven Adams’ 13 rebounds.

In the second half, Oklahoma City got busy. With five minutes left, the Thunder were up 87-80; the Wizards, however, answered with a 9-0 run, and at :34, Washington led 92-90 on the strength of a Paul Pierce trey. Russell Westbrook tied it up with a quick bucket; John Wall burned up 24 seconds and tossed up an air ball, giving the Thunder one last chance with two seconds left; Kevin Durant’s trey did not fall, and overtime ensued. With :35 left, Kevin Durant’s trey did fall, and the Thunder were up 103-101; an Andre Roberson goaltend of a Nenê air ball tied it at 103 with :22 left. With Durant seemingly quadruple-teamed, Westbrook scooped up the rock and spun it in; the Wizards’ last salvo fell short. OKC 105, Washington 103, and something unheard of: a season sweep.

The numbers, as you might expect, are close all around: OKC shot 40-102 (39.2 percent), Washington 38-100 (38 percent). After majorly failing at the three-point circle, the Thunder eventually got six to fall out of 29; the Wiz sank seven of 30. Rebounds: Wizards 58, OKC 57. Turnovers: Wizards 12, OKC 10. Assists: Wizards 23, OKC 21.

All five starting Wizards collected double figures, led by Nenê with 24; Pierce had 14 points and 12 rebounds; Wall had 18 points and 13 assists. Bradley Beal, harassed by Roberson all night, went 5-21 but still ended up with 14 points. Marcin Gortat, anchoring the middle, produced 10 points and blocked three shots.

As usual, it was the Durant-Westbrook Show, KD coming up with 34 points in a whopping 44 minutes, and Westbrook knocking down 32 with eight rebounds and eight assists in 42 minutes. Only two sets of double figures otherwise: Anthony Morrow, with ten points, and remember Steven Adams’ 13 first-half rebounds? He finished with 20.

Having beaten the second-best team in the East, what do the Thunder do next? Why, they take on the best team in the East: Atlanta has won 14 straight. This epic clash will be Friday night.

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The spirit of 76 octane

Bill Quick saw this before I did, and asked: “Remember when filling stations actually filled your tank for you?”

Gas station in Lincoln 1933

For a few days in my adolescence, to help out a friend, I played pump jockey. I wasn’t especially good at it, though I was dead reliable at checking tire pressures.

And yes, E10 was around in those days. (Under that “10% Blend” verbiage: “Development Means Cornbelt Prosperity.”) It never really caught on, and purveyors of the stuff eventually sought antitrust action against Ethyl, manufacturer of another, far nastier, gasoline additive.

Interestingly, this photo was taken in Lincoln, Nebraska in April 1933, eight months before the end of Prohibition. I have to wonder how much of that ethanol was diverted before it got to the gas station.

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Meanwhile in the ladies’ room

No, I wasn’t there, but we have a reliable narrator:

Well, I push the door open and I hear someone talking. At first I think she’s talking to someone still in the stall (which is also a personal no-no to me: I do not like carrying on a conversation while in the loo).

Nope. She was on her cell phone. Standing in front of the sink, at the mirror, just talking.

I backed right back out of the room and waited until after my class — but to me, that’s like a who DOES that? situation.

At least she wasn’t eating — which happened in one of the rest rooms at the shop, though it wasn’t the one with WOMEN on the door.

And should we be grateful that she wasn’t taking a picture of herself?

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Everywhere appeal

My younger brother (48 today), perhaps half in jest, is trying to crowdfund a vacation. I thought the idea was nutty, but I threw in a few dollars, on the basis that it might be easier for someone else to do so if there’s already something in the kitty.

Now comes this chap who’d like you to pay for his dates:

My name is Tom and I’m a 26-year-old hopeless sarcastic romantic.

I like reading as much as going out with friends, I find thunderstorms relaxing to listen to and can easily lose myself in a good film. I like sitting in busy cafes writing poetry and people watching. The problem is I don’t have a lady/partner in crime/personal femme fatale to share all this with me, teach me new things and put me in my place every now and again.

Tom calculates that it will take 13 dates to find The One, and so he’s asking for £1300. At this writing, eight contributors have anted up £222.

Update, 26 January: Things are not going well for poor Tom.

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