The sourest of grapes

A TTAC article about a line of “Prius fighters” to be built by Ford drew this surly comment:

Ford will never be able to compete with the Toyota hybrid. Consider the difference between the two companies. Ford is big on workplace diversity. This means Ford managers are often selected on the color of their skin rather than their IQ. Toyota promotes the best and brightest.

Many times, a white guy, who graduates from a top college with high SAT scores, is passed over for promotion in favor of a minority who gained entrance to a comparable college using affirmative action policies and lesser SAT scores. So, the smarter white guy has no career opportunities at Ford while less smart minority is steadily promoted. The smarter white guy leaves the state of Michigan. Result? Ford can not compete with Toyota.

Go ahead Ford. Keep up the workplace diversity. Then, wonder why your vehicles continue to score black dots in Consumer Reports.

It never occurred to this “smarter white guy” to apply for a position at Toyota? They do have, after all, a technical center in Michigan, and if he’s among the “best and brightest,” shouldn’t he be a shoo-in?

Since it’s likely not the policy of any automaker, foreign or domestic, to introduce an applicant to the person who actually got the job, I have to figure that this chap is hoping someone will buy him a hat so he can talk through it.

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Broaden the product line

Today’s consumers are demanding, and the one-trick pony seldom gets a second ride. Whenever possible, diversify. Here’s what we mean:

Ruth's Video and Seafood

Okay, maybe that’s not exactly what we mean.

(Via Bad Newspaper.)

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Meet the (Chinese) beetles

Jack Baruth tells you the horrible story of Agrilus planipennis:

The Emerald Ash Borer is scheduled to kill eight billion trees in North America in the near future. As a country, we had no defense against it. The predators which hold the EAB under control in China haven’t made it into an iPhone crate yet. Every ash tree in this country and Canada will die. Eight billion trees. Eight billion, most of them mature. The Nature Conservatory says they will plant a billion trees by 2025. Well, for every tree you plant, the Chinese beetle will kill eight. We’re told that the rainforest is disappearing at a staggering rate. It’s something like two or three billion trees a year. In other words, this beetle is kicking the ass of the Global Corporate Rainforest Destroying Bush-Hitler Machine, all by itself.

And yet you’ll never hear about those eight billion trees outside of a special-interest magazine because it’s critical that we not pay too much attention to what we actually suffer as a country by sending all our manufacturing and applied science to a country full of people who, as a rule, view us as uncultured, depraved monkeys. It’s critical that the manufacturing keep leaving this country so the power and the influence shift to the politicians and the major blogs and the thought leaders in Silicon Valley. Once upon a time, the wealthiest county in the United States was Oakland County [Michigan], where the auto executives and the $100,000-a-year blue-collar overtime workers lived. Now it’s #61 on the list. Four of the five wealthiest counties in the nation now directly border Washington, D.C. You see how the power shifts when money stops coming from commerce and starts coming from quantitative easing.

But then, this isn’t necessarily about trees — or commerce:

When the trees crashed down I thought about some other things, some other people. You can love someone and have a relationship with them but the beetles can get in there, they can burrow, they can leave the bark untouched but the damage beneath is enough to kill. Then one day the bark falls off and you realize how long it’s been dead, how long you’ve been ignoring it, how long you’ve been hoping that spring would come and you’d see leaves, knowing in your heart that you would only see branches.

When I moved here I had twelve trees, a pretty fair number for a quarter of an acre. Now I have thirteen, but three of them are standing only because neither saw nor wind in adequate quantity has been provided, and, as Jack says, “Having trees cut down is more expensive than having them planted, by the way, the same way a divorce attorney is more expensive than a justice of the peace.” Yep.

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Recapture clause

Freshly spammed my way: a method to get one’s ex back.

No, really:

My system is rooted in behavioral psychology. By combining this with text messages to deliver the message, the result is a system that is so powerful, it has worked for more than 10,000 people!

Text messages are direct, non-confrontational, and can be responded to when it is convenient to the person you sent it to. They are especially effective when dealing with the situation in person, could be too risky.

Let Justin Sinclair, personal relationship expert, show you exactly what messages you need to send your Ex, and how to send them. You’ll be blown away when your Ex starts talking to you again and eventually asks to see you.

Believe me, if Jimmy Webb can’t do it, nobody can.

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Add a thin shiny veneer

Uber, up to now, has positioned itself mostly as the Anti-Taxi Service, but Instapundit pointed to this Wired piece as evidence that their ambitions are greater:

On Tuesday, Uber announced a pilot program for what it calls Uber Corner Store, a service that would allow Uber users in the Washington D.C. area to get staple items like toothpaste and bandages delivered from local stores. According to a blog post, the program will only last a few weeks, but it hints at CEO Travis Kalanick’s long-term vision for Uber, which is to transform the company from a pure transportation play into a full-fledged logistics company.

That was Tuesday. On Wednesday, the other shoe dropped. Kalanick again:

Earlier this year, I made it a top priority for Uber to find a leader who could help cities and citizens understand the Uber mission — someone who believed in our cause, who understood how to build a meaningful brand, who knew how to scale a political campaign, and who knew how to get the support on the ground to win. We needed someone who understood politics but who also had the strategic horsepower to reinvent how a campaign should be run — a campaign for a global company operating in cities from Boston and Beijing to London and Lagos.

So today we are pleased to announce that David Plouffe will be joining Uber as our Senior Vice President of Policy and Strategy. Starting in late September, David will be managing all global policy and political activities, communications, and Uber branding efforts. I will look to him as a strategic partner on all matters as Uber grows around the world.

David fricking Plouffe. Apparently what Kalanick thinks he needs is an experienced turd painter.

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It is, after all, legal

Microsoft delivers lots of hotfixes — there are, after all, lots of things that need to be fixed — but you might think they’d back away from a scenario like this:

  • You have the uTorrent client (or other high speed file transfer applications) installed on a computer that’s running one of the following operating systems [list in original];
  • You use an RNDIS USB device which implements the Remote Network Driver Interface Specification (RNDIS) 6.0 driver version.

When you download uTorrent content through the RNDIS 6.0 connection in this scenario, you receive Stop error 0xD1.

Some of us may react reflexively: “Ewww, torrents!” Redmond, not so much: they’ve issued a hotfix for the Microsoft RNDIS driver, although they caution that you shouldn’t install it unless you’re having that specific problem.

(For those of you who wondered why I was following @SwiftOnSecurity, it’s for stuff like this.)

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It’s all about the fractional Benjamins

The Tax Foundation, seemingly never without a map, has issued this one, which illustrates “value of goods that $100 can buy” in each state, compared to the national average, which is presumably $100. The closest match to average seems to be Illinois, where your C-note will buy $99.40 worth of stuff.

Tax Foundation cost-of-living map

Worse than any state, perhaps unsurprisingly, is the District of Columbia, where $84.60 worth of stuff will cost you $100. That same $100 in Mississippi will fill your basket to the tune of $115.74.

Curiosities:

  • Oklahoma and Kansas: identical ($111.23).
  • South Carolina and Tennessee: identical ($110.25).
  • Pennsylvania and Rhode Island: identical ($101.32).
  • Oregon and Florida: identical ($101.21).
  • 680 x 680 PNG version of the map: 164,900 bytes. 480 x 480 PNG version to fit this theme: 165,950 bytes.

The Tax Foundation dates to 1937, at which time $100 worth of 2014 stuff, according to the BLS inflation calculator, would have cost $6.04.

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Now entering the afterlife

Darn few songs mention the late Don Pardo, NBC announcer since 1944. You can actually hear a lot of him in this one, and besides, it’s great on its own merits:

He married Catherine Lyons in 1938, the year he got his first radio job in Providence; they stayed together until her death in 1995.

Thanks, Don. And you too, Al.

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You can practically see the wagging finger

This “Peter Carter” fellow claims in his subject line that there are “issues” with my Web site. The major issue, apparently, is that he’s not getting paid:

I thought you might like to know some reasons why you are not getting enough Social Media and Organic Search Engine traffic for dustbury.com.

1. Your website dustbury.com is not ranking top in Google organic searches for many competitive keyword phrases.

2. Your company is not doing well in most of the Social Media Websites.

3. Your site is not user friendly on mobile devices.

There are many additional improvements that could be made to your website, and if you would like to learn about them, and are curious to know what our working together would involve, then I would be glad to provide you with a detailed analysis.

Our clients consistently tell us that their customers find them because they are at the top of the Google search rankings. Being at the top left of Google (#1- #3 organic positions) is the best thing you can do for your company’s website traffic and online reputation. You will be happy to know that, my team is willing to guarantee you 1st page Google ranking for most of your targeted keyword phrases in our six month ongoing campaign.

Bite me, Pedro. Your Google ranking is going up just from this mention. I’ll send you a bill when I get around to it. That was “Peter Carter,” right?

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Flying in an ever-decreasing radius

Eventually, you fly into your own backside, which is pretty much what this guy seems to have done:

The co-authors of Miami Dade College’s main communications department textbook have been embroiled in accusations that some of the text may have been plagiarized.

One of those sections, ironically, deals with the very definition of plagiarism.

It’s there on page 37 of The Freedom to Communicate textbook: Plagiarism is taking someone else’s work without giving them credit. It is, the textbook states, “a serious problem in today’s society.”

That’s what Isabel del Pino-Allen, a communications professor at MDC, charged that her colleague and co-author Adam Vellone did with a handful of passages — including lifting language nearly word-for-word from a paper defining 10 different types of plagiarism produced by the anti-plagiarism software company Turnitin, without providing proper credit.

The school’s own investigation didn’t go so far as to charge Vellone with plagiarism, but did identify several passages as needing clarification, and suggested that the book’s publisher may have contributed to the matter by reformatting citations. In this particular instance:

None of the references at the end of MDC’s textbook refers directly back to the Turnitin paper but there is a trail — albeit circuitous — that does link back to the original source: The textbook cites an MDC library guide, which does not contain the actual original text but does link to the website plagiarism.org. Although that link itself is defunct, plagiarism.org does link to the original Turnitin paper.

The head of the faculty union — one of the five co-authors of the text — says that the matter should be considered closed.

Isabel del Pino-Allen left the following comment on The Chronicle of Higher Education’s article regarding this matter:

More important than the plagiarism in the book, which Jason Chu [education director at Turnitin] labels “sloppy scholarship” and “unethical and improper,” there were several test questions that Mr. Vellone appropriated from other books and used in his chapters’ test bank. An example of one of this questions is: “A speech on how to assemble the electrical circuitry in a basic refrigerator motor would likely use which pattern of organization?” (this question came from Judy Pearson’s and Paul Nelson’s An Introduction to Human Communication). Mr. Vellone slightly altered the question to: “A speech that explains how to assemble the electrical circuitry in a basic refrigerator motor would likely use which pattern of organization?” In other words he substituted “on how” for “that explains.” As I wrote to another colleague today, what Mr. Vellone did is “the type of vulgar plagiarism that we would expect from a marginal student,” not from a college professor. The MDC administration, in its report, stated that because the test questions were on-line, they would most likely be “in the public domain.” I disagree!

You’d be surprised — or maybe you wouldn’t — how many people think that something is fair game just because it’s on the Web.

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Also not available in dark

We regret to inform you that this does not actually exist:

Perry's Chicken Wing Ice Cream

It was, in fact, Perry’s April Fool joke for 2013, recently recirculated through the Web in someone else’s attempt at reprankage.

However, the idea does seem to stick in one’s mind:

We asked seven Capital Region chefs to play a game called “Can You Make It into Ice Cream?” When they agreed to participate, all they knew was that they’d be randomly assigned an ingredient — one not usually associated with summer’s favorite treat — and tasked to make ice cream with it.

Rachel Fleischman Mabb of Troy’s The Ruck tried her hand at chicken wings:

Ice cream: Two versions: one with an egg-custard base the other with cream thickened with xanthan gum; one with sharper blue cheese and the other a mild brie-style blue. Served with chicken-skin cracklins and a glass of imperial porter.

How she did it: Mixed braising liquid from chicken thighs into the cream base for chicken flavor; there is no actual chicken in the ice cream.

Okay, I’ll stop now.

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You may have already heard this

Dan Longerbone addresses the national media:

We don’t have anything distinctive like the Empire State Building or Independence Hall. No Gateway Arch, no Sears Tower (sorry, Willis Tower), a serious lack of beach and certainly no mountains. It’s easy to understand that someone who’s never been here might be at a loss to picture the place; rust belt, corn, something something football. That’s because people who come here aren’t after photographic memories and never have been. No, a lot of people who visit end up staying here because of quite another type of memory.

Sounds like something we’d say in the OKC, doesn’t it? (Except maybe for that stuff about corn.) Actually, it’s about Columbus, Ohio, a place with maybe a smidgen more of a national image, but which is earning respect.

And stop me if you’ve heard this one:

The public-private partnership is such that the rather conservative editorial page of our daily paper backed an income tax increase on people working in the city; that half-percent increase was approved by voters during the recent economic downturn.

The three and a half stages of MAPS were sales-tax increases — the city doesn’t have an income tax — but the rather conservative editorial page of The Oklahoman has been very supportive of MAPS over the past two decades.

And there’s this:

The construction of the interstate highway signaled the arrival of rapid suburb development in central Ohio. In order to protect the city’s tax base from this suburbanization, Columbus adopted a policy of linking sewer and water hookups to annexation to the city. By the early 1990s, Columbus had grown to become Ohio’s largest city in both land area and in population.

And now, it’s the 15th largest city in the nation. (We’re 27th, though we have almost triple the space.) They must be doing something right.

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Life without pockets

The American Association for Nude Recreation answers a critic who questions their overall strategy:

We have a clear view of the goal … acceptance of social nudism as a mainstream choice among ways to live in this country. This vision includes the ability to be nude in your home and on your property … even within view of others. It includes the ability to drive in your car nude, take your family to a nude beach or even to a grocery store nude. While everyone may have a different idea of what the future vision of nudism in America looks like we certainly want the “tent” to be large enough to include the full spectrum of living and recreating nude. The question of the strategy we use to get there is often the debate. Some accuse us of not moving fast enough, or of not recognizing that sensuality or sexuality are a part of nudism. Believe me, we recognize those realities. When and how we choose to overtly advocate for these elements to be accepted today by a public still largely unaware or understanding of our cause calls for intentionality and thoughtfulness.

Every time I think “Yeah, wouldn’t that be great?” I think about popping open the door of a frozen-food cabinet at the supermarket, which is likely to be kept around zero (-18°C). And then I think maybe I’m not quite ready for that step.

Disclosure: I have been an AANR member for nine years. I have never been to a nude beach, beaches being, shall we say, few and far between here on the prairie.

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Unfrosted Scandinavian

Let’s say you’re a single mom in her late twenties with a four-year-old boy. What are your dating prospects? If you’re Mette-Marit Tjessem Høiby, evidently pretty good, because you met up with Crown Prince Haakon, next in line to the Norwegian throne, and now you’re the Crown Princess.

After writing that, I couldn’t resist passing this on:

Mette-Marit at church

Here, Mette-Marit is attending a service at the Norwegian Seamen’s Church of New York, on the upper West Side. Her Royal Highness is forty-one today; she and the Crown Prince have two children with titles. (Her son from her wild single days is acknowledged, but of course carries no title.)

One more for good measure:

Mette-Marit at the podium

Reportedly, HRH is subject to wild weight swings, and other rumors persist. Then again, what would royalty be without rumors?

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That’s all I can Stanley

From these pages eight years ago:

In the context of Oklahoma City, David Stanley Ford is an automobile dealership at 39th and May.

Elsewhere, David Stanley Ford is a playwright, who has written an American historical drama I’d love to see: The Interrogation of Nathan Hale, in which the man who regretted having but one life to lose for his country reveals the last secrets of that life.

Since then, David Stanley the Ford dealer has sold out and acquired a Chevy store across town; he has long owned the Dodge dealership in Midwest City, which now carries all four Chrysler Group brands. And, reports the Lost Ogle, he’s been in deep doo-doo of late:

David Stanley Chrysler Jeep Dodge agreed to pay a $350,000 fine in March of 2014 for allegedly violating eight state regulations designed to protect consumers from misleading advertising practices.

According to this document that is just hanging out on the server at BartlesvilleRadio.com, the violations include deceptive, inaccurate and bait-and-switch forms of advertising.

The commercials in question ran in January 2014 and offered eye rolling, too-good-to-be-true, only-Grant-Long-would-fall-for-this deals that offered to pay $18,000 in the car buyer’s credit card debt if they bought a car.

If you have $18,000 in credit-card debt, why are you even thinking of buying a new car? Not that anyone at the dealership is ever going to ask you such a question, of course.

This story got no local coverage until TLO broke it, which just goes to show you:

That’s actually some delicious irony right there. While our TV news channels send their “In Your Corners,” “I-Teams” and “Consumer Watchers” to track down the contractor who didn’t finish a flooring job and ran away with some old lady’s hard-earned $1,000, the car dealership that advertises during the commercial break is using bait-and-switch advertising gimmicks and other deceptive tactics to lure consumers into high interest, ripoff, life-ruining auto purchases and loans. I guess never forget who the for-profit media really serves.

If you’re the audience, you’re the product: the station sells you to an advertiser. Your role is to shut up and keep watching and keep buying.

Perhaps David Stanley Ford ought to write a play about that.

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By the yarbles, downwardly

No one, I assume, has ever ordered one of these in January:

The husband, who is pretty good with this sort of thing, checked out the air conditioner and discovered that it had a bad capacitor. Just so happened we had another one from an old air conditioner so he installed that one and it worked. Yay, we’re cool again. But, not knowing how long that old part would last he looked up a new one online and asked me to order it. The total, with standard shipping, came to $19 and change.

This seemed to me like something we might want in a hurry. If the air conditioner quit completely with temps in the upper 90s we might think an extra $30 or perhaps even an extra $50 would have been worth it.

Which makes sense to me — and dollars for the vendor:

There are not enough curse words in the world to express my feelings upon seeing the price for two day shipping. Keep in mind this part is slightly smaller than a 12 ounce soda can and not exceptionally heavy for an object of that size. Total cost for 2 day shipping: $276. Or something like that. It was definitely 3 digits starting with a “2” and I’m pretty sure there was a “7” and a “6” in some order. Sorry, I’m a bit traumatized by the experience. I mean, what the hell? Are they going to hire James Earl Jones to bring it in a limo and deliver it personally to my front door? (Yeah, I’d pay $276 for that.)

It works the other way, too. I bought my Big Nasty Snow Pusher from Amazon one summer for $50ish. Same device last December: $109. (Shipping, at least, was free.)

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