Rubber repossessed

I winced when I wrote the check for those tires the other day — the wrong side of $700, it was — but I take comfort in the fact that I could have done a whole lot worse:

Rent-to-own tire shops are among the newest arrivals to a sprawling alternative financial sector focused on the nation’s economic underclass. Like payday lenders, pawn shops and Buy Here Pay Here used-car lots, tire rental businesses provide ready credit to consumers who can’t get a loan anywhere else.

And, just like those other operations, they work on massive margins:

[A] couple last September agreed to pay Rent-N-Roll $54.60 a month for 18 months in exchange for four basic Hankook tires. Over the life of the deal, that works out to $982, almost triple what the radials would have cost at Wal-Mart.

Still, if you have to scrape to get $14 a week, and there have been times when I have had to, what else can you do? Used tires? Bus passes?

(Via Outside the Beltway.)

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Which way is it going?

This came out last year, but things haven’t changed all that much except for a few more bright pixels:

Tornado tracks through 2012

Notes from John Nelson of IDV Solutions, who put this together:

Got this data from NOAA via the spectacular It tracks 56 years of tornado paths along with a host of attribute information. Here, the tracks are categorized by their F-Scale (which isn’t the latest and greatest means but good enough for a hack like me), where brighter strokes represent more violent storms.

Also from Nelson: earthquakes since 1898, major fires since 2001, and hurricanes since 1851. Obviously we need to get off this planet entirely before it kills us all.


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To those emerging from darkness

Smitty has advice. He who has ears, let him hear:

[T]o all of the new Tea Party folks, let me pass on a warning: the two ears, one mouth rule applies. There is much to learn about the sordid realities of our government, as it’s deviated well off course. Relax. Focus the passion on sober, positive deeds that advance the Constitutional ball. Screaming about Barack Obama’s Martian birth certificate and obvious status as a High Priest of Cthulhu is ONLY ABETTING HIM.

I have no idea if mentioning Doug Mataconis, who is cited in Smitty’s post title, will cause him to suddenly materialize, in the manner of Kibo or Dave Sifry or even Conor Friedersdorf, but we shall see.

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In defense of education spending

Miss Cellania says she spotted this on Buzzfeed:

Sign about school levies

I’m just going to assume the poster of the original sign wasn’t Jewish.

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And still stylish:

Archer Hosiery ad from late 1930s

This is generally believed to be a 1956 advertisement. (The fact that it’s on page 56 is presumably a coincidence.) Archer Mills had merged with Wayne Knitting Mills (which in turn was owned by Munsingwear) back in 1940. And Vanity Fair was shut down and incorporated into Vogue in 1936, only to be spun off again in 1983.

About 2007, I flipped this and used it for a CD cover.

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Striver’s license

The Bodacious Beaters series by Phil Coconis hits both Phil and me close to home this time around:

This time the subject is the very first car I ever owned — and it was one of these: a 1966 Chevy II Super Sport with 283 cubic inches of Bowtie Smallblock under the hood, and the venerable two-speed aluminum Powerglide under the SS console shifter!

Now step down a level or two and you have the very first car I ever owned: that selfsame Chevy II without the Super Sport credentials or the console shifter, but with the Powerglide, shifted from the column, and with Chevy’s boat anchor 230 straight six.

Still, this much we had in common:

Yes, it wasn’t particularly quick or fast — that Powerglide definitely not helping the cause in either department — and it didn’t handle anything like a sporting-type of car — although the lame “mono leaf” rear springs did provide a rather “jouncy” and otherwise unbalanced ride — but I just contented myself to crank up the in-dash stereo and cruise it.

Which I did, once I’d added a proper stereo — though I eventually mounted it on the hump where the shifter wasn’t, leaving the factory AM in place, and cut a hole for a second speaker. And the interior of the II, in Nova trim, wasn’t too unpleasant, although the seats were slicker than owl snot and the dash was liberally festooned with things to puncture you if something hit you head-on.

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Not a laughing matter

The Guardian’s Sam Leith doesn’t see the humor in LOL:

In the last decade it has effortlessly overtaken “The cheque’s in the post” and “I love you” as the most-often-told lie in human history. Out loud? Really? And, to complicate things, people are now saying LOL out loud, which is especially banjaxing since you can’t simultaneously say “LOL” and laugh aloud unless you can laugh through your arse. Or say “LOL” through your arse, I suppose, which makes a sort of pun because, linguistically speaking, LOL is now a form of phatic communication. See what I did there? Mega-LOL!

Bonus points for “banjaxing.” As it happens, “banjaxed” is an Irish term for “broken or unusable, usually by result of violent damage.” (Admittedly, I JFGI’ed.)

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Strange search-engine queries (384)

Monday morning means another batch of weird search strings received here at the site, scrutinized by the National Security Agency, and published in the hopes of garnering cheap laffs.

cross stitch patter song notes sexy sadie:  Everybody’s got something to hide except for me and my knitters.

upholstery downholstery:  All around the townholstery.

a c an e-flat and a g walk into a bar. the bartender says sorry, but we don’t serve minors:  And that’s when all the treble started.

extend nissan leaf range:  Go downhill a lot.

netgeo I didn’t know that. Johnny About bra images:  Johnny was just like the rest of us: he’d give a year’s pay for a peek under there.

Suppose that nine-digit Social security numbers are assigned at random. If you randomly select a number, what is the probability that it belongs:  Ask the NSA. They’ve probably already looked it up.

dodie smith klothes that klank:  Made of some new mirakle kloth, I suppose.

BMW 750IL does not go in reverse:  What do you care? You didn’t buy it to drive; you bought it to be seen in.

emily brooks contortionist:  Oh, she left a message for you: “Get bent.”

beastly squirrel porn:  You mean like this?

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On the road to Ponyville

Not quite the same as being on the road to Damascus — but perhaps more similar than you might think.

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I don’t want to imagine what’s second

This appeared in my tweetstream identified as “Best book review ever.” No way could I ignore a claim like that. I assumed the book was probably not so good, and, well, let’s put it this way:

I took one for the team, so the rest of you would NEVER have to be subjected to this beast. I beg you, don’t let my selflessness be for nothing. Heed my warning. This is the worst book ever written.

And in 1400 words he makes a case for it being exactly that, though the book’s 1.8-star rating suggests that somebody must have liked it.

The author in question wrote another novel and a collection of short stories, which latter drew this response from a different reviewer:

This is a collection of gory, violent, chaotic, obscenity-laced, essentially plotless short stories about worthless, self-destructive people who like stabbing and torturing each other. They read like they were scrawled on the walls of a crack house, but hey, structurally at least, they’re an improvement over [his] other books.

(With thanks, I guess, to Julie R. Neidlinger.)

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Meeting the road

Now that I have the correct size in place, I got to put some test miles on those new tires, and so far, they’re performing as expected. You may remember this particular experiment:

The ramp from I-44 eastbound to I-35 southbound, which I use five days a week, sometimes six, is about a 75-degree curve that I routinely take at 60 mph unless it’s wet or the 6:30ish traffic doesn’t permit. (I’m going from a road where the speed limit is 60 to a road where the speed limit is, um, 60, so 60 seems like the most logical speed.) In fact, I consider this a test of car and/or tires: if there’s any squeal, it’s a fail.

As fast as I was willing to go on those old Dunlops was 66 mph, and the results were just this side of scary. The first trial of the Coopers yielded a satisfactory 61-mph run; I think they might go 62, maybe 63, but I won’t know that until tomorrow morning at the earliest. The Traction rating is A, which sounds good enough, though the Dunlops were AA. (I don’t touch anything with a B.)

In terms of noise, the nod goes to Cooper, but only slightly; I wasn’t carrying a sound-level meter, but my seat-of-the-pants estimate — I was wearing pants — is about 1.5-2 dB quieter. (By which I mean, it’s more than 1, which is barely noticeable, but less than 3, which is obvious to everyone.) And now I can quit wondering if maybe it was the wheel bearings making all that racket.

The major gain, though, is in ride quality. The Coopers carry an H speed rating (130 mph), suitable for the mission of this vehicle. (The first Car and Driver review of the model contained a top-speed figure of 131 mph. I have not tried to get within, um, let’s say 20, of that.) The Dunlops were V (149 mph), which might have been overkill; certainly the sidewalls were stiffer, and every slight, or not so slight, irregularity in the road surface was duly transmitted to the interior. The upside of that was the creation of some artificial steering feel; the helm has now returned to its original factory numbness. Then again, my personal benchmark for steering feel is my old Toyota Celica, which actually had some of it, what with its complete lack of power assist; I have recorded no seat time in, for instance, an early 911.

So for now, I’m content, and will probably remain so until my bank statement comes out, a couple weeks from now.

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They responded with Snickers

Three firms are being charged by Canada’s Competition Bureau with illegal price-fixing:

The bureau uncovered evidence suggesting that Nestlé Canada Inc., Mars Canada Inc. and ITWAL Limited, a network of wholesale distributors, conspired, agreed or arranged to fix prices of Canadian chocolate products — a criminal offence under the Competition Act.

The Canadians, you may be sure, do things differently:

Three individuals were also charged: Robert Leonidas, former President of Nestlé Canada; Sandra Martinez, former President of Confectionery for Nestlé Canada; and David Glenn Stevens, President and CEO of ITWAL.

Said individuals face up to five years in le slammer and/or fines up to $10 million. American corporate types engaged in such things generally get a slap on the wrist, and often as not, they get their choice of which wrist gets slapped.

And if one big name in chocolate is missing, there’s a reason for that:

A fourth company, Hershey’s Canada, has also been implicated; however, because it cooperated in the investigation, the bureau is recommending it receive lenient treatment.

That concept, at least, the Americans understand.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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The boy who would be Queen

Elizabeth I, on the occasion of her accession to the English throne:

And as I am but one body naturally considered, though by His permission a body politic to govern, so shall I desire you all … to be assistant to me, that I with my ruling and you with your service may make a good account to Almighty God and leave some comfort to our posterity on earth.

This is in accordance with the political theology of the time, which called for the monarch to be both an individual person and the embodiment of the aspirations of the nation.

An American author is now suggesting that there’s a wholly different body involved:

The bones of Elizabeth I, Good Queen Bess, lie mingled with those of her sister, Bloody Mary, in a single tomb at Westminster Abbey. But are they really royal remains — or evidence of the greatest conspiracy in English history?

If that is not the skeleton of Elizabeth Tudor, the past four centuries of British history have been founded on a lie.

Steve Berry, author of The King’s Deception (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2013), suggests that the real Elizabeth died at age ten, and was replaced by a stand-in:

[T]here was a boy, from a local family called Neville. He was a gawky, angular youth a year or so younger than Elizabeth, who had been the princess’s companion and fellow pupil for the past few weeks. And with no time to look further afield for a stand-in, [Thomas] Parry and Lady [Kat] Ashley took the desperate measure of forcing the boy to don his dead friend’s clothes.

Remarkably, the deception worked. Henry [VIII] saw his daughter rarely, and was used to hearing her say nothing. The last time she had been presented in court, meeting the new Queen Catherine Parr, she had been trembling with terror.

Noting that a DNA test had been run on the remains of Richard III, found recently under a car park in Leicester, Berry wants the joint tomb popped open and the bones analyzed. I suspect he will not get his wish.

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For those who think younger

I knew next to nothing about Kidstock, which is an annual fundraiser for the Scholars Program at One Voice LA. (I did wonder if they licensed the -stock name from the owners of the Woodstock trademark; they did.) But Angie Harmon mentioned being there, and, well, there’s always a good reason to check out what Angie Harmon is doing.

In this particular instance, she’s wearing something you might conceivably see on someone one-third her age:

Angie Harmon at Kidstock June 2013

And, I submit, rocking it.

On her own, she posted this shot, which reminds me that she’s bringing up three very lovely girls. (There’s even video.)

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Quote of the week

To set this up, here’s a WaPo headline: “Baby boomers are killing themselves at an alarming rate, raising question: Why?”

Now if you look at that URL, you’ll discover that in place of “raising” is the word “begging,” which is not what’s being done here, although “begging the question” is seriously misunderstood as a concept of late. As to “Why,” though, I can quote you the opinion of Vox Day:

The generation that has had to put up with the vagaries of the Baby Boomers for literally its entire existence knows very well why they are killing themselves at an unusually high rate. It is because Baby Boomers are disproportionately inclined to be narcissistic, selfish, short-sighted, superficial bastards who don’t give a damn about anything except themselves, and they are psychologically incapable of grasping the basic concepts of mortality or graceful old age… The realization that 65 is not, in fact, the new 18, and they really and truly are not cool anymore, is simply proving too much for them to bear.

Having never been cool, I’m having less trouble with the concepts of mortality and/or graceful old age.

Still, there’s an upside, according to Day:

Now, I wouldn’t want anyone to think Generation X is actually inclined to celebrate these rampant Boomer suicides. It doesn’t fill us with glee to know they are offing themselves en masse, merely a modicum of appreciation for the first positive and non-selfish consequences their generation’s actions have ever produced. Say what you will about them, but at least they are saving us an amount of effort.

Although I have to look at this in connection with a popular whine among Boomer kids, many years ago: “I didn’t ask to be born!”

The proper response, of course, is “If you had, the answer would have been No.” Day, I think, could appreciate that.

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I’ll be working on my maintan

Autoblog posted this item on Thursday:

Autoblog screenshot

Whatever “maintance” is, apparently you get two years’ worth on your new Impala.

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