And the front seat rules

Some things I was wondering about, answered by the California Department of Motor Vehicles:

You must:

  • Be at least 16 years old.
  • Prove that you have finished both driver education and driver training.
  • Have had a California instruction permit or an instruction permit from another state for at least six months.
  • Provide parent(s) or guardian(s) signature(s) on your instruction permit stating that you have completed 50 hours of supervised driving practice (10 hours must be night driving) as outlined in the California Parent-Teen Training Guide (DL 603). Visit the Teen website at or call 1-800-777-0133 to request this booklet.
  • Pass the behind-the-wheel driving test. You have three chances to pass the driving test while your permit is valid. If you fail the behind-the-wheel driving test, you must pay a retest fee for a second or subsequent test and wait two weeks before you are retested.

Once you have your provisional driver license, you may drive alone, as long as you do not have any collisions or traffic violations.

Which explains how it is that Rebecca Black, aged sixteen years, six months and six days, drove herself to the KTLA studios on Sunset this morning to appear on a news-like show.

Also discovered this morning: “Saturday,” her duet with Dave Days, has made the Billboard Hot 100, charting at #55 — three positions higher than “Friday.”

And for laughs, RB turned loose four minutes’ worth of outtakes from her last six months’ worth of vlogs. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of reading the comments — you never read the comments — and happened upon this:

Rebecca, do you know what a brony is

Oh, dear God.

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Post-Russ 2.0

This probably says as much as anything else:

Russell Westbrook’s third knee operation set things in motion for a Thunder collapse in Charlotte, and OKC’s meager 62 points through three quarters suggested that they might do exactly that — except for the fact that the Bobcats only had 60 at the time. And the ‘Cats, down eight with two minutes left, pulled to within one; Josh McRoberts just missed a trey in the waning seconds, and two Thabo Sefolosha free throws sealed the deal for the Thunder, 89-85.

By no means was this a display of offense: Charlotte hit 30 of 80 shots (37.5 percent), OKC 33 of 80 (41.3). The ‘Cats missed four free throws; the Thunder missed nine. Charlotte put up 23 treys and made nine; OKC tossed up 25 and made eight. Still, four of the five Charlotte starters reached double figures, led by Kemba Walker with 18; stalwart Al Jefferson delivered 16 points and collected 11 rebounds.

It definitely wasn’t Reggie Jackson’s night. Starting in place of Westbrook, he hoisted brick after brick, 4-19 in all. Still, that’s 10 points, the same as Temporary Sixth Man Jeremy Lamb. Kendrick Perkins didn’t hit a shot all night, but he knows how to guard the likes of Jefferson, and he wound up with ten boards. And then there’s Kevin Durant. Radio guy Matt Pinto had mentioned earlier that KD scored, on average, fewer points against the Bobcats than against any other NBA team. Durant promptly knocked down 14 in the fourth quarter for 34, making me wonder if he’d heard. (Oh, he knew. KD always knows.)

Still, bigger challenges are coming, starting Sunday against Houston; in a severely twisted twist of fate, the Rockets will be missing Patrick Beverley.

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Once again, we behold the power of cheese:

The state of Wisconsin has developed a way to use dairy products to actually unblock something: Icy roads.

State highway departments will combine cheese brine, a salty water mixture left after cheese has been processed, with their rock salt to help melt ice on roadways.

I figure it can’t be any worse for the undercarriage of your ’92 Civic than the existing road curd crud.

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The unintentional hypermiler

McGehee is trying to give the impression that he’s being lulled into submission by a dashboard fuel-economy gauge:

It shows an accumulating average MPG since the last reset, as well as an estimated range on the current fuel level (this after almost ten years without a fuel gauge in the Bronco) and a realtime graph displaying the current MPG based on current fuel consumption and actual motion, with a marker showing where the current average is so you can see whether you’re improving your average or undercutting it.

I famously eschew these things: I figure, not unreasonably, that if I start paying attention to such matters, it will affect my driving, and not in any positive way. This is why I reset the B trip meter every time I gas up — and then switch back to the A meter so I don’t have to look at it. (I usually use the A meter for Miles Since Last Oil Change, which is currently about 730.)

Besides, I’m not the only one who doesn’t necessarily benefit by the standard fuel-saving techniques:

I am also finding that my idea of best driving — conditions and practices both — seems to be about the thriftiest way to drive there is. I wouldn’t have expected this, mainly because my idea of best driving is solely a matter of temperament rather than conscious frugality.

I’ve beaten the EPA numbers on my last three vehicles, by a small margin according to the original stickers, and by a hell of a lot according to the 2008 recalculations. Gwendolyn, say the Feds, should get 17 in the city and 25 on the highway; I think I’ve had two tanks under 20 mpg in the last seven years. Keep in mind that this car is 13 years old and has run nearly 150,000 miles. Then again, I am not known for stinting on maintenance.

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Sterility ensues

I am actually a fan of universal contraception, not so much because I think Sandra Fluke deserves a ride now and then, but because some people simply don’t have any business reproducing, and this, assuming she actually exists, is definitely one of them:

Boys should not be breastfed because feminism

Then again, I could be unnecessarily alarmist here: what the hell kind of self-respecting male would allow his seed in the same room as this person, let alone sow it there? I concede that there are males who lack self-respect and will consider themselves fortunate to be allowed on the premises, but this is the exact point where Ouroboros gets his first lick of tail.

(First seen here.)

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Snip-a-dee doo-dah

I concede the truth of Robert Stacy McCain’s title: “Two Words You Probably Never Want to Think About: ‘Botched Vasectomy’.” Apparently someone on the receiving end of same went berserk and shot three people, one of them (a urologist) fatally, before turning the gun on himself.

McCain — who, incidentally, has six kids — states the following for record:

  1. Nobody’s getting anywhere near my scrotum with a knife; and
  2. If you decide to undergo “an inhumane medical procedure from hell,” you’ve got to be prepared to deal with it.

I offer two additional bits of guidance:

  • Pay cash;
  • Have this done when you’re young enough to shrug it off after a few days. (I was twenty-eight; Mr. Grieved here was in his late forties.)

Otherwise, well, you can buy a hell of a lot of Trojans for the price of an outpatient visit.

Aside: Why can’t we train these people to shoot themselves first? It would do wonders for the death toll.

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Not the best idea ever

Still, there will always be someone to ask:

Yahoo Answers screenshot What happens when you delete C:\?

On the other hand, if this be trollage, it’s pretty seamless.

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Meanwhile in Ponyville

I’ve spent a lot of time plugging my own stories, occasionally noting connections that somehow exist between that world and this one. (And possibly other worlds as well: a reader told me yesterday that I’d somehow evoked the tale of Aragorn and Arwen from The Lord of the Rings for him.)

But this is someone else’s story, and I’m urging you to read it because — well, just because. It’s about 13,000 words. It’s called There Is Love Beyond What Lingers, it came out late on Christmas Day, and I’m hoping that none of you have ever been in this situation, or ever will be.

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They’re not very filling

Then again, I can’t imagine they have much in the way of calories:

Grapeless grapes

(Via Miss Cellania.)

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A report from Mister Tallyman

No, we have no bananas. Minnesotastan of TYWKIWDBI contemplates his traffic after six years:

By the end of the year, this blog will have accumulated about 14 million pageviews of about 12,000 posts, but as I look at the metrics, it’s obvious that the traffic is decreasing — in part I believe because more viewers are accessing the material via RSS feeds, but also because my own productivity (in terms of number of posts) has decreased each year since the peak in 2009.

I know the feeling. Actual visitors to this place peaked in 2005 at about 800 a day; it’s now down to 300 or so. Then again, in 2005, I probably had ten feed subscribers; as of yesterday, I had 740, though the number fluctuates wildly — since Labor Day, it’s been as low as 195 and as high as 1,030. Current pageview count is a hair under four million.

The drop in productivity is not so noticeable: the yearly volume of posts has slid from 2,126 in 2006 to an estimated 1,872 this year. This is attributable almost entirely to increasing attention to, um, side interests.

Minnesotastan isn’t too perturbed about the numbers, though:

The drop in traffic actually doesn’t distress me, because I derive no income from the blog, so I reflexly (and repeatedly) dismiss offers to “trade traffic.” Visitors and viewers are important and relevant to me only insofar as they contribute to the content of the blog, via informed comments and interesting personal observations, and I am recurrently amazed by the variety of expertise and insight that readers here bring to the table. I’m always delighted when a previously silent “lurker” pops up to offer a piece of information or a viewpoint that had never occurred to me. That feedback reinforces my motto that “you learn something every day.”

Besides, he says, he has about a thousand items tucked away for future use, which exceeds my usual reserve stash by a factor of twenty.

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Because you have all day

I have no idea how many Repositories of Downloadable Files there might be out there, but I have to figure that none of them are actually having to compete for anyone’s business. One I’ve just recently seen offers the usual monthly and yearly subscriptions (the latter around $75); but if you’re not a paying customer and just happened on their site because you followed a link, you get to wait a bit more than a minute and then fill out a CAPTCHA form before they start sending you the file at slightly above Commodore 64 speeds. For all I know, subscribers may be getting these faster; but am I willing to spend $12 to find out? (Hint: no.)

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In which I am triangulated

As has probably everyone else between Lake Superior and the Rio Grande, I’ve taken that dialect test which the New York Times calls “How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk,” and I admit to expecting answers somewhat less than definitive.

Sure enough, the three towns most similar to me, speech-pattern-wise, were very far apart: Madison, Wisconsin; Jacksonville, Florida; and Springfield, Missouri. Then again, I was born in the northern suburbs of Chicago, grew up in South Carolina, and now live in Oklahoma — so what else could it have said?

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One of your safer bets

General Motors has announced that Holden, its Australian brand since 1931, will be reduced to a sales-and-parts facility: actual production of Holden cars and utes will be moved offshore after 2017.

This drew more anguish in the Australian press than the similar move announced earlier by Ford, perhaps because Ford is, well, an American brand at heart, perhaps because the Australian government has turned rightward since then and therefore the political left, fond of anguish as a motivational tool, can now blame it all on the government.

One Victoria Rollison, described by Telegraph columnist Tim Blair as a “caring leftist,” sent an open letter to Holden chairman Mike Devereux which ended with “Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help keep Holden here.”

Blair scoffed: “Buying a new Holden would help.” And then he offered to put his money where his mouth is:

Readers are invited to speculate in comments about the car Victoria currently owns. If she provides proof that it’s a non-secondhand, locally-made Holden, I’ll walk into my nearest Holden dealer and hand over a $250 donation.

“Caring leftists,” after all, don’t buy big rear-wheel-drive sedans. (Well, Barack Obama did, once upon a time, but he decided that his Chrysler 300 was a campaign liability, and he went out and bought a hybrid.) No chance Tim Blair has to part with a single Australian dollar on this one.

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From the beginning at Madison Square Garden, there were exactly two factors that made a difference:

  • Carmelo Anthony always finds a way to beat the Thunder;
  • Carmelo Anthony was out with an ankle injury.

So the only real question turned out to be “How badly would the Knicks be thrashed on national television?” The answer was “Badly enough”; OKC led by six after one, by 14 at the half, by 20 after 3, and didn’t bother to bring out the starters for the fourth en route to a 123-94 rout.

With ‘Melo, Raymond Felton and even Metta World Peace sidelined, the most interesting story for the Knicks involved a couple of reserves: Tim Hardaway Jr., a rookie trying to prove himself worthy, and Amar’e Stoudemire, a veteran trying to prove himself still worthy. Both of them acquitted themselves well today, Hardaway tying his career high with 21 points and Stoudemire dropping in 22 on a mere 16 shots. (Sporadic sharpshooter J. R. Smith had 20, but it took him 22 shots, and he was basically done halfway through the third.) What the Knicks don’t do, mostly, is rebound: Andrea Bargnani, who started at power forward, and Stoudemire, who spelled him at the four, had a total of four between them. And Chris Smith, J. R.’s younger brother, made his first NBA appearance in the last sixty seconds.

The OKC starters were their usual shiny selves, with Kevin Durant knocking down 29 points on 16 shots and Russell Westbrook into triple-double territory in the third quarter: 14 points, ten assists, 13 rebounds. Serge Ibaka, seeing no need to play defense, collected the ball at the basket and stuffed it in, with 24 points on a pretty efficient 10-14. As usual, the bench was led by Reggie Jackson (18) and Jeremy Lamb (13), and not as usual, the Thunder was hitting for distance, nailing 13 of 24 treys. (The Knicks were 6-23.)

Still, I have to wonder, with the Knicks and their crosstown rivals the Nets both floundering at 9-19, if maybe Jason Kidd ought to come over from Brooklyn, and Mike Woodson might be happier working for, well, anybody other than James Dolan.

Next Thunder outing: Friday, against the Charlotte Soon-To-Be-Former Bobcats.

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Fueling concerns

If you think things here are being run into the ground, you might want to keep in mind that there is incompetence and venality beyond even the Washington standard. Look, for example, at Caracas. Leopoldo Martínez, leader of the Venezuelan opposition, wrote in the WSJ this week:

According to his government’s own figures, inflation currently stands at 54%, the highest in the Americas. Much as Chávez did, Mr. [Nicolás] Maduro has plundered Venezuela’s oil industry, which accounts for 95% of export earnings, by providing billions of dollars in oil subsidies to Cuba and other regime allies. Despite the regime’s much trumpeted commitment to wealth redistribution, the country is plagued by shortages of basic goods like cooking oil, milk and corn flour, while concerns over a government debt default have led Standard & Poor’s to downgrade the country’s credit rating to B-.

B-minus? Even Illinois is better than that.

(WSJ extract courtesy of Fausta’s blog.)

One of those oil subsidies is reserved for the Venezuelan public:

The idea of Venezuelans paying more for gasoline was first floated in early December, when Vice President Jorge Arreaza said it was time start discussing raising gas prices. Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said that the country having the world’s cheapest gas wasn’t a point of pride. Finally, last week Maduro himself said he favored gradually raising prices over three years.

“As an oil nation, Venezuelans should have a special price advantage for hydrocarbons compared to the international market,” the former bus driver told newly elected mayors on Dec. 18. “But it has to be an advantage, not a disadvantage. What converts it into a disadvantage is when the tip you give is more than what it cost to fill the tank.”

There are “special price advantages,” and then there is this: a gallon of gas costs about 90 cents in Kuwait, about 50 cents in Saudi Arabia — and about five cents in Venezuela, a price which has remained relatively constant for a decade and a half. There is, of course, a reason for that:

In 1989 the price of gasoline was raised, prompting deadly rioting that went on for days and killed over 300 people.

“Well, yeah,” some will cry, “but they have free health care.” Not so fast, Chucky.

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So this is Christmas

Remember when the holidays weren’t politicized to a fare-thee-well? Well, I do.

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