Your basic tiny roadster departs

Not quite five years ago, I tried to argue a case for the Daihatsu Copen, a Japanese kei-class roadster which was getting some traction in the UK after the kei-standard 0.66-liter engine was upsized to twice that. The thrill, however, seems to be gone:

Daihatsu is reportedly discontinuing the line, with no apparent plans to replace it. Before it does, however, a 10th anniversary edition is reportedly in the works, with production limited to just 500 units.

I’d never have been able to shoehorn myself into a Copen, but I’ve always had a fondness for tiny cars, perhaps because I tend to think of them as crafted with jewel-like precision, even when they’re from a budget brand like Daihatsu.

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Narrower narrowcasting

Perennial D-Lister Kathy Griffin returns to Bravo this month with a primetime talk show called simply Kathy, and as you might expect, institutional print advertising for it contains Facebook and Twitter icons.

But the Twitter icon doesn’t mention a Twitter account for the show, or Kathy’s own account (@kathygriffin); it lists a hashtag — #kathy.

Given the growing tendency for hashtags to be hijacked, this may not be such a swift idea.

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Just watching the show

Here’s one of those “I ought to do something with this picture” pictures, from Sunday’s Academy of Country Music Awards show: Faith Hill and Carrie Underwood, (mostly) smiling for the camera.

Faith Hill and Carrie Underwood at the 2012 ACM Awards

I’m not quite sure what made me think of this, since at the time I wrote this up I was listening to Bach’s Mass in B Minor.

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Whippersnapper tax

The Germans, faced with a declining population and having already obliged themselves to pay humongous benefits for old people, now propose to tax younger people:

Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats have drafted proposals that, if law, would require all those over 25 to pay a proportion of their income to cushion Germany against a looming population crisis.

The German Chancellor’s ruling party is seeking extra sources of revenue to pay for soaring pensions and bills for social care costs as Germany’s “baby boomer” generation ages amid a decline in the birth rate.

In defense of the Germans, they’re at least admitting what they’re up to, which is more than American politicians would have the stones to do:

Instead we get more calls for taxing “the rich,” but there aren’t enough rich people to cover all of the promises the government is making.

The working Congressional definition for “the rich” seems to be “anyone who makes more money than a Congressman,” adjusted for graft.

(Seen at Daily Pundit.)

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For very special hooves

I didn’t have a shoe to feature this week until last night, when I happened upon this gladiator sandal from El Naturalista:

El Naturalista N403 gladiator sandal

And by “happened upon,” I mean “discovered that Tabitha St. Germain considers this her favorite shoe of the moment.” St. Germain — also known as Vancouver-based stage actress Paulina Gillis — is on my radar because she’s the speaking voice of this lovely lady:

Rarity is best pony

And for that matter, until Hasbro lapsed into Backlash Paranoia Mode, she was also the voice of Derpy.

Inexplicably, that sandal color, which to me looks red, is called “Tibet.” It’s also available in “Optical,” “Vaquero,” and “Black.”

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The undead are uneasy

Are you disturbed by the possibility of the Zombie Apocalypse? Trust me, your anxiety is as nothing compared to that of the “Haitian American Vodoo Association,” which reportedly sent a cease-and-desist letter to a gun-club site that was discussing the matter. Excerpts therefrom:

HAVA has become aware that you have engaged in spreading false, destructive, and defamatory rumors about Zombies. Your defamatory statements involved the article on the website (actionpistolclub.com) dated 11/11/11 called “Zombie Apocalypse”. The article portrayed Undead Haitian Americans (A.K.A Zombies) as dangerous flesh eating monsters that pray on humans and other living creatures during the night. This image of a Zombie is completely inaccurate.

There is, of course, the slight chance that HAVA is engaged in the intra-Americas chain pull:

Modern Zombies are honest hard working undead people. They are just like the rest of Americans, but do not have any pulse nor brain activity. They are productive members of society and have been very successful in the local, state, and federal government. They have become model bureaucrats, and have continually worked toward building a positive reputation.

On the other (grey) hand, if they’re occupying the bureaucracy, that’s an even better reason to give them, um, ungrief.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man, who finds it risible.)

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Hence the journalistic term “grabber”

This is a news article, but its opening sentence is worthy of the Bulwer-Lytton Contest:

Zot L. Szurgot allegedly walked out of her house naked, turned to five of her neighbors and started wagging her penis.

If that seems slightly, um, contradictory:

According to the First Kingdom Church of Asphodel’s website, “Zot Lynn Szurgot is one of those magical people living between genders; born and raised a boy, she lives part of eir [sic] life as a masculine union-supporting electrician and part as a feminine spiritual being.”

Um, okay. If you say so. It’s not like this has never been heard of before.

Whoever submitted this to Fark, incidentally, evidently thought that first line was better than any conceivable headline, and I wouldn’t disagree with that either.

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Heady Pacers

The Indiana Pacers hadn’t yet had a shot at the Thunder this season, but they knew what to do: run up a big lead and then hold on. By “big,” I mean 12 points after the first quarter, 24 points midway through the third. The OKC never-say-die drill, had it started earlier, might have paid off; but the closest they would get would be three, and they lost it by five, 103-98.

Neither side shot especially well — OKC 44 percent, Indiana 41 — and both were fairly blah from the three-point line (6-19 each). But the Pacers snagged 50 rebounds, 18 offensive, versus 40 and 11 for the Thunder, and seemingly as always, the OKC turnover number, this time 17, was alarming. The usual suspects got most of the points for Indiana — Danny Granger 26, Roy Hibbert 21 (with 12 boards), David West 14 — but perhaps the biggest thorn in OKC’s side was second-year guard Paul George, who before fouling out picked up eight points and a career-high 16 rebounds. (And he played nearly as much time as Granger, which meant that Frank Vogel decided to leave the kid in while he was on a roll. Good call, Frank.)

While the Pacers were spreading the offense around, the Thunder was relying on the All-Star contingent, and they got All-Star worthy numbers — eventually. (Russell Westbrook had only three points at halftime, yet finished with 21; Kevin Durant went off for 44.) Your telltale statistic, though: Derek Fisher was +12, tops on the team, despite scoring zilch and accumulating five fouls. The OKC bench contributed only 18 points, ten from James Harden, eight from Nick Collison, but they had at least some success keeping the Pacers from running up the score even more.

And now follows a trap game: Sunday at the ‘Peake against Toronto, a team with a miserable record, but which had a miserable record last year and still swept the Thunder. Even the Easter Bunny might have his doubts about this one.

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Keep your snoopy eyes on the road ahead

The May issue of Automobile has a three-page article on distracted driving, which features in a sidebar a paragraph from a 1930 magazine article that anticipates our current Nanny State to a remarkable degree:

In some quarters, the argument has been advanced that a radio set in an automobile must necessarily act as a distraction to the driver. There has even been some discussion of the possibility of adverse legislation, or at least legislative control of the use of radio in cars.

Substitute any number of components for “radio,” and this could be a 2012 article.

The title here, of course, comes from “Seven Little Girls Sitting in the Back Seat” by Paul Evans and the Curls, in which said girls are having fun with Fred. Either these girls are a lot littler than I think, or this must be Fred Schneider’s Chrysler, which seats about twenty.

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Over my head, evidently

Some of you may remember the utter ineptitude exhibited by yours truly a while back when I was confronted with a bad bulb in the track-lighting array in the kitchen.

On the off-chance that you were curious, it’s a 50-watt MR-16 halogen bulb, running on 12 volts and casting a 40-degree beam. And apparently they last, at least in this installation, a bit less than four and a half years. (I had three spares on hand last night, because … well, because.)

Tangential note: These particular bulbs cost about five bucks apiece. I looked at one of them and wondered how it compared to automotive headlights, about which I know zilch these days since I haven’t had to change one since the days of sealed-beams. Gwendolyn, says the service info, takes an HB2 bulb, 55 watts (low beam) or 60 (high), for which the dealership will charge me $36, which is probably only about twice what I’d have to pay for the non-OEM product. Not that Nissan makes any of their own light bulbs, mind you. (I do not have the HID lamps, bulbs for which cost somewhere in the low three figures.)

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Inspiration for a Friday

In case you’d like to hear some Friday-related songs besides the one we promote here seemingly every week, Delaney McDonough of Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk High School, south of Albany, New York, has a small playlist for you, complete with videos.

The one song she mentions I hadn’t heard before was NSYNC’s “Just Got Paid,” from their album No Strings Attached, which opens with this line: “Thank God it’s Friday night and I just-just-just-just-juuuuuuust got paid!” Things evidently were happening faster in 2000 than in, say, 1956, when Little Richard announced that it was Saturday night and he just got paid.

Of course, the only person who ever got all his work done by Friday was Robinson Crusoe:

Perhaps we should leave it at that.

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She shoots, she scores

In fact, she dunks, and some people have a problem with that:

Last week Baylor University’s Brittney Griner set the basketball world on fire with 2 dunks in the NCAA tournament. Not that women haven’t always had the ability to dunk, but it was informally forbidden for being “masculine.” When Candace Parker won the dunk contest back in 2004 it set off all kind of outrage from asshats like Jason Whitlock, who, not coincidentally, reaffirmed his opinion on ESPN a few days ago, exclaiming how much it offended him that a girl would do a man thang.

Part of said asshat’s opinion:

And while it might be exciting to see Vince Carter hang on the rim and growl after an alley-oop dunk, I can guarantee you that no one wants to see Candace Parker do it. Consider it another one of those ugly double standards that you’re better off embracing rather than fighting.

Truth be told, I don’t particularly want to see Vince Carter hanging on the rim; I have a limited appetite for that sort of showboating generally.

But here’s (yes!) your telltale statistic: For the last quarter-century or so, the average NBA player has been six foot six, maybe 6’7″. Brittney Griner is 6’8″. She could posterize rather a lot of guys.

And there’s this:

When Griner and Baylor failed to reach the Final Four [in 2010], an ESPN poll was taken before the Stanford-Texas A&M semi-final basketball game saying that 63% of Americans were disappointed that Griner and the Baylor women’s basketball team did not make it past the quarterfinals. Many of the people who participated in the on-line poll said they would very much like to see women dunk in NCAA basketball.

I note that her Wikipedia page is now locked. I blame asshats.

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It’s a turn-down day

Occasionally — not too often — a publisher or a publicist will offer to send me a book or an electronic version thereof, in the hopes of bagging a review. As a rule, I’ll accept these if there’s at least a reasonable chance, in my judgment, that I’ll get something worth reading out of the deal; otherwise, no thank you.

Roberta X, however, is a bit stricter with her standards:

“Get a free review copy of my book!” (No. Tell me where I can buy it and if the price is within my budget, I will review it; I think getting a freebie instead of paying for it affects my ability to give a fair review. I’ve done so once and I lucked out, it was a good book, but I’m not chancing it again. If you shy away from that, then maybe you need to sit down and do some editing.)

This is, pretty much by definition, the no-compromise position, and if she feels that getting the freebie influences her judgment, she’s doing exactly what she ought to be doing.

Which suggests the obvious question: does getting the freebie influence my judgment? At some level, I suspect it must; there’s a lot to be said for not actually parting with $24.95. And I do work to minimize that influence. That said, though, “minimal,” as a general rule, does not equal zero.

Disclosure: I bought her book.

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Imagery 101

LeeAnn’s brand of subtlety is like no other:

It is possible, I learned, to put on a hospital gown the wrong way.

My limited experience with such suggests that it’s not only possible, but likely.

Of course, she can still bring out stuff like this:

I have an appointment with my tiny Scottish doctor tomorrow and he’ll likely turf me out to some gastrowhatchacallit and then the real fun will begin and oh yeah, babies, more riveting “I puked like Pat Robertson at a Courtney Love roast” stories.

Not so subtle, perhaps, but I defy anyone to paint a more vivid picture, even with twice as many words.

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Meanwhile at the Coaster Factory

The standard advice for burning audio CDs for use in old-school CD players — the one in my car, for instance — is to burn at the lowest speed available. (See, for instance, this old Tom’s Hardware thread.)

The last Nero update I installed doesn’t allow for speeds under 8X, so I’d been using that, with mixed results. While I was reading up on something else, an idea occurred to me: what if my burner, which is supposedly capable of doing DVDs already and has had one firmware update, just doesn’t like being slowed to 8X?

So on the next disc, I said the hell with it, and cranked it up to 32X. No problems. Encouraged, I did one at 48X. Halfway through playing Track 2, the player errored out and did not recover; it had to be shown a new disc and given a promise that it wouldn’t have to look at such things anymore.

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Polyglotunsaturated

I have no idea what this means:

Bilingual Corn Oil

Reminds me vaguely of the Holy Corn Oil used in an old Firesign Theatre sketch, which was obtained (of course) from the corns of a holy man.

(Via Criggo.com, which keeps finding this weird stuff in the papers.)

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