Not that anyone is asking anymore

“Don’t ask, don’t tell?” Smitty don’t care:

While I’m essentially done with my military involvement, I’m confident that my opinion is mirrored by a huge chunk, if not the overwhelming bulk, of people in uniform: we don’t care. Specifically, no one really cares about anybody else’s junk. Sure, we live and conduct personal hygiene in some relatively immodest ways. Yes, the transcript veers a bit into the graphic from time to time. Indeed, there was some historically reactionary attitude offered toward the alternative lifestyles crowd.

Yet the military is first and foremost about rounds on target in support and defense of the U.S. Constitution. It has never been about being a dating service.

My own military involvement ground to a halt several decades ago, during a period where you could be drummed out of the service just for looking crossways at the wrong time, but I suspect — admittedly, it didn’t occur to me to ask — that most of us 1970s-vintage grunts really didn’t give a flip one way or the other, occasional bouts of OGA* notwithstanding, and if the NCOs and the officers were doing their job morale-wise, none of us were likely to rat on a suspect unless he’d slipped from latent to blatant, and possibly not even then. There was a war on at the time, after all, and we might have been thinking that if our unit drew too much of the wrong kind of attention, it might mean an unexpected billet for one or several of us in, um, a less-desirable duty station somewhere down the line. Of course, we wouldn’t say that out loud, either.

* Organized grab-ass [a term poached from the Marines, who, well, organized it].

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It was a Valiant effort

TTAC’s Jack Baruth goes back in time to review Steven Spielberg’s Duel, and the hardware comes in for some scrutiny:

[T]he [Plymouth] Valiant simply cannot escape the truck. There’s a bit of a hand wave about why the Peterbilt is so fast — it has a “special engine or something” — but more importantly, the Valiant is slow. It can’t run steadily at ninety miles per hour, the way any Kia Rio or Hyundai Accent would easily do today. It’s mechanically fragile, yet because there’s so much slack in the old designs, a cooling system failure doesn’t totally disable it. (As I found out while driving a 500ci Cadillac, the old iron-block American engines can be remarkably heat-resistant.) Mann can’t even out-handle the truck. On the positive side, the Valiant easily handles bad roads and obstructions that would probably stop a GMC Envoy dead in its tracks.

Hollywood being, as they say, Out Of Ideas, I have to figure that sooner or later somebody will have the unfortunate notion to remake Duel. (I hope it’s blatant enough that they have to pay Richard Matheson, whose short story birthed the original.) If you’re wielding the Evil Peterbilt, what presumably-helpless automobile are you chasing down?

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Van hailing

OK Foster Wishes is looking for a van. Specifically:

Needed: a 12 passenger van for a growing foster family! We can accept thru okfosterwishes as tax deductible donation!

If this is maybe beyond your capacity, as it is mine, there are many ways to give.

(Tweeted in my general direction by Steve Lackmeyer.)

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“Will he call?” has apparently been superseded by “Will he text?” And this is the rule of (slightly calloused) thumb:

Texting a girl the day after a date (even just “great time, call u soon”) says a guy’s interested. Texting two weeks later says he’s explored every other option, including hookers and suicide, and settled for her. Unless this guy followed up his text by calling from a hospital bed and explaining “A dog ate my iPhone — and part of my arm,” he should no longer be in the running.

Will dogs actually eat iPhones? Apparently so.

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Another mystery solved

I remember asking this myself when I was a kid and crayons were an essential part of my existence: “Why do they have both ‘green-yellow’ and ‘yellow-green,’ anyway?” I mean, yeah, they looked a little different, but not that different.

To my delight, the extent of the difference has now been quantified, at least so far as the current 24-count box of Crayolas is concerned. I am not in a position to testify as to how they looked in the late 1950s.

(Via this Syaffolee tweet.)

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Around twee o’clock

My absolute first reference to Fox’s comedy New Girl, from the end of May:

I’ve seen the promo, and it bothers me for some reason. And what’s with this “eccentric charmer” business? … It’s not like anyone expects Zooey Deschanel to play Margaret Thatcher.

And if I’m bothered, Hank Stuever is downright incensed:

Deschanel plays the same character that has endeared her to a specific kind of mainstream/alternative market. She capitalizes on a lot of tee-hee and emotional fragility, with eyes as big as a kitsch painting of wildlife. It’s that whole flowery sundress, nerdy horn-rims, bicycle basket, put-a-bird-on-it tweeness of the forever child. Also, she records indie rock albums and makes a point of singing a lot in the new show — tra-la-la-la — which only makes it more awful.

Regarding that latter: they should have hired ZD’s partner in She & Him, M. Ward, whose twee filter is surprisingly effective. (And oh, here’s a bicycle basket.)

When her character, Jess, answers an ad seeking a roommate in a houseful of bachelors, I started looking up the ages of the actors playing the characters: Although they are bestowed with lives and situations resembling 23-year-olds, their average age tops 30.

Well, of course. The 23-year-olds are all playing high-school students.

Maybe she should play Margaret Thatcher next time around. At least it would be more of a stretch.

(Suggested by Nancy Friedman. The article, I mean.)

Addendum: Smitty suggests a duet with Katy Perry. Hey, if it works for Rebecca Black…

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Thanks for the tip

I have been known to complain about Caller ID spoofing, though I have to say that once in a very blue moon it delivers amusement value: yesterday the interceptor picked up a call from 567-248-4400, which was identified as “PHONE SCAM.”

Which I’m sure it was. Others report similar findings.

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Properly justified

If you really, truly want to buy something, you’ll come up with some way to explain it to that still, small voice in the back of your head that keeps trying to talk you out of it. This is one of the more sensible explanations I’ve heard of late:

My 2002 VW Jetta (that was totaled last year by hail) has seen better days. Rather than keep the Jetta all to myself, I would prefer for it to spend the remainder of its time on earth in the hands of a 16 year old that just needs a running vehicle to escape her boring parents. That was a nice way of saying, “I want to get rid of it as soon as possible and drive a shiny new car instead.”

I note here that my daughter drives a Jetta, but sixteen was half her lifetime ago. (Actually, more than that, since she turned 33 last month. I forget what year Vee Dub it is.)

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Located near all major amenities

The late Mr. Adsit was evidently an astute judge of location:

Newspaper clipping from

In case you care, SCI Cambridge Springs is a minimum-security institution.

(Via, which never seems to run out of stuff like this.)

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Meanwhile, far from Samaria

Marcel is wary of “misapplication of a correct principle,” in this case one formulated by Thomas Aquinas:

It’s one thing to say a starving man doesn’t sin by taking bread to keep himself alive for another day. It’s another to say Question 66, Second Part of the Second Part means the US federal government in normal circumstances may take as much of anyone’s income as they please for redistribution.

I jump here to Luke 10:30:

And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

Examples follow, and then in 10:36:

Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?

You may be certain it was not the one who called for the organization of a task force and the hiring of a phalanx of specialists, assistant specialists, and deputy underassistant specialists, to be paid for by every second person between Jericho and Jerusalem.

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The right to bare everything (junior division)

I have no idea what caused it, really. I’d always been something of a prude up to that point. But shortly after my fifteenth birthday, I came to the conclusion that if no one was going to be around, there wasn’t much point in my getting dressed, though I clearly wasn’t in any position to do anything about it. (It should be noted, though, that when I was packed off to college, I made a point of not bringing along any pajamas.)

So I felt a little twinge when I happened upon this kid with evidently the same idea I’d had at about the same time in his life:

i do it when no ones home i just watch tv play xbox go on my computer.. even do hw.

Ah, the (not especially common) joys of the latchkey child. (And housework in the nude is a lot less annoying, unless you happen to be dealing with Dangerous Household Chemicals.) But then:

im 15.. what do i say to my MOM?

And I froze. I never did tell my mom. The only family member who knew was my younger sister, who apparently had seen me one morning, and then decided to bring it up later when I wasn’t expecting it.

But I had to tell this poor kid something other than “Wait until you get your own place,” so I agonized for a moment, and then came up with this:

I assume you already sleep in the nude. (I started that at 15 myself.) You might try not coming down for breakfast some morning, and when the parental units come up to see why you haven’t come down, they’re bound to see that you don’t have any clothes on, and they’re very likely to ask why.

I’m still debating whether that qualifies as passive-aggressive behavior. Then again, it did get me 10 points for Best Answer.

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At 19 she was the queen of the countryside

Okay, I changed Emily Brontë’s line slightly, mostly because this isn’t a 15-year-old:

Kaya Scodelario at photocall for Wuthering Heights

Kaya Scodelario, shown here in a shot from the photocall for Andrea Arnold’s new film version of Wuthering Heights, is in fact nineteen; she’ll be playing Catherine, opposite James Howson’s Heathcliff.

But wait a minute. What’s the deal with those shoes?

Kaya Scodelario at photocall for Wuthering Heights

Not being a household name just yet, she’s still buying on the High Street: she says the shoes came from River Island (£55) and the dress is from Topshop (somewhere under £100). Somehow that’s something of a relief.

(Previous Scodelario shoe coverage here.)

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Now at popular prices, we think

In his description of the Edsel debacle, Michael Kaplan makes a point that might seem obvious to you or me, but which never quite dawned on the Detroit auto moguls:

Detroit has always been as doctrinaire in the matter of marques and price points as the Vatican is on dogmatic truths. Lincoln must line up with Cadillac, Mercury with Pontiac. Between these, therefore, gaped a critical $700 price gap — suitable, not just for a new model, but a whole new division with new dealers. Ford, always embarrassed by its dearth of brand names, would now have a genuine stable of them. The thing is … people outside Detroit had never really understood this subtle cherub-to-archangel ranking of the badges; they simply bought as much prestige or sportiness as they could afford. The Edsel was not a bold new departure as far as they could tell; it was simply a confusion.

Both Mercury and Pontiac, you’ll note, have recently been euthanized. And Ford, which bought a bunch of brand names — Jaguar, Land Rover, Volvo, and Aston Martin — in an effort to cover all conceivable price points, wound up selling them off for a comparative pittance to keep the wolf from the door. If Lincoln lines up with anyone today, it’s not Cadillac but Acura: both vend dressed-up versions of lesser cars with incomprehensible, indigestible alphabet soup for badging. Yet Ford is, we are told, the Smart Guy in the Room, for managing not to go bankrupt alongside GM and Chrysler.

In the future, we will all be grateful to Fiat’s Sergio Marchionne, for selling exactly the same car as both Chrysler 300 and Lancia Thema — and for having enough sense not to send them to the same market areas.

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Until inconvenience us do part

In which I declare that this is no time to stand Pat, and I’m not all that crazy about Newt either.

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Blame it on the staph

This can’t be good. Mike McCarville has had a dickens of a time getting past this summer’s open-heart surgery, and it turns out that he’s had an unfortunate encounter with the methicillin-resistant flavor of Staphylococcus aureus, and about the only antibiotics that stand a chance against this stuff are served up via a peripherally-inserted central catheter, aka a Picc line.

Let us hope that they indeed will work this time.

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A whole lot of blinker fluid

Gwendolyn has now been semi-comfortably ensconced in my garage for more than five years now, and while she’s generally well-behaved, keeping her in condition is pricey: I figure that some time in year seven, maybe eight, I’ll have spent as much on maintenance as I did to buy her in the first place.

Then again, as Ezra Dyer points out in the October Automobile, I should probably consider myself fortunate:

My Saab’s leather shift knob became frayed, so I ordered a new one from the dealership. The dealer quoted me $165 — borderline criminal but worth it for a leather knob that would probably last for the remaining life of the car. I went to the dealer to pick it up, and to my surprise, the parts guy arrived at the counter with a rubber shift knob.

A rubber shift knob for $165? Was this the work of the famed rubbersmiths of Börgflappen, a hand-hewn piece crafted from virgin stock carefully chiseled from the secluded Arctic-rubber mines of Gnorkflug, predistressed by the calloused hand of Stig Blomqvist himself? No. It was a piece of crap with nasty flash lines and a shift pattern glued on top. If I’m paying $165 for a piece of rubber, it better be a Catwoman costume containing Michelle Pfeiffer.

Similarly, Doc Searls on a ’00 VW Passat wagon:

Bought for $5k from a friend who was moving out of the country. Put another $3k into it, to bring it up to top shape. Wish it was a stick, but otherwise it’s a great little car. [Summer 2009 update: I have since put another $10k into it. I've never known a better-made yet more repair-intensive car.]

Which sums it up nicely. And even when Gwendolyn’s repair bills equal her purchase price, she’ll still be $5k below her original sticker. Depreciation — when someone else has to eat it, anyway — is your friend.

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