Now this takes brains

What sport-utility vehicle do you want to be driving during the Zombie Apocalypse? Hyundai hopes it’s their Walking Dead Special Edition Tucson:

This Tucson features an Ash Black exterior with a subtle red accent graphics package and Special Edition exterior and interior badges. Roof rack cross rails provide additional room for hauling necessary survival gear while mudguards and custom floor and cargo mats help keep the vehicle clean. The vehicle will be offered only in AWD to assist drivers when off-roading away from the undead. Within the Tucson’s black leather interior, passengers will find a custom Zombie Survival Kit — a Walking Dead 72-hour survivalist’s backpack, a necessary item for any zombie “prepper” — and a Walking Dead Tucson Quick Reference Guide, to help utilize all the features in the Special Edition vehicle. In addition, for true enthusiasts of The Walking Dead, this Tucson will offer vehicle decals for the four factions featured in the series: Hilltop, Kingdom, Saviors, and Survivors, so owners can proudly display where their allegiances lie.

The only way they could make this better is to offer, you should pardon the expression, a lifetime warranty.

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Draft resistance

Green Canary is hoping for something resembling heat — preferably from the actual sun, which doesn’t cost so much:

I’ve been keeping my thermostat at 68, which isn’t my preferred indoor temperature during the cold winter months. During the cold winter months, I prefer the balmy warmth of the upper 70s. But since I am still getting to know my house, I didn’t want to press her too hard right out the gate. Also, I was afraid of a ginormous electric bill that would break my tough gal exterior and turn me into a quivering mess of unset Jell-o.

Month one’s electric bill was a lovely $13.05.

Month two’s electric bill was a hideous $178.97.

Explanations were not hard to find:

My house is not large, so there is absolutely no reason why my electric bill should be so high. Except that my not-large house is also not-efficient, what with the 33 year-old wood windows with the cracked seals, the uninsulated basement walls, and the odd draft coming from the doorknob on my back door. All of those very logical heat-sucking factors aside, there is also the much bigger problem that I have barely scratched the surface of: I think the problem is the heat pump itself.

The nice thing about hardware problems, in general, is that they can be addressed by writing a check. Then again, I know something less than squat about heat pumps; I can just about comprehend my gas furnace (expected gas bill for December: $95), and I’ll have been here ten years come Tuesday.

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From the “Yeah, right” files

This strikes me as eminently guffaw-worthy:

Questionable Twitter pitch

I mean, yeah, I can do a face in the crowd, but so can everyone else; there’s no reason to play on my vanity.

This is a screenshot rather than an embed because frankly, I expect this account to be deleted before the weekend’s up, if only because there are at least 42 accounts using that same ID avatar, though Twitter is not inclined to delete artificially created accounts unless they’ve actually done something against the rules — like spamming people.

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Two generations of smartass

I learned a long time ago that both my children carry my Wiseguy gene, and it’s almost a certainty that they passed it on to their kids.

Last night, my son did one of those Foursquare checkins at a place called The Scene, prompting the following exchange:

Becky Carson: This ain’t a scene. It’s an arms race?

Russell Hill: Lots of good bands tonight. You should come out.

Charles G. Hill: Am I supposed to be concerned that my daughter is making gratuitous Fall Out Boy references?

Becky Carson: More importantly, where is the concern for the father that knows a Fall Out Boy reference.

Russell Hill: Well, this is concerning.

(The reference, slightly expurgated.)

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Beating a dead llama

AOL has officially killed Winamp. However, an unlikely interloper is apparently trying to keep it from going on the cart:

Techcrunch has learned that AOL is [in] talks with Microsoft to sell Winamp, along with Shoutcast, a media streaming service also developed by Nullsoft. We have also learned that AOL has been planning to announce the closure of Shoutcast next week.

From what we understand, the deal is not yet finalized, with AOL and Microsoft still working out the price. It could also be very wishful thinking from those intent on trying to save both services.

Microsoft, so far, has declined to comment.

(Via Fark.)

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Curious statistic

I cleared away seventeen examples of comment spam yesterday, and sixteen of them were using bogus Gmail addresses.

Does this mean anything?

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She’s not good, she’s just written that way

If I’ve learned anything in the incredibly long, yet pitifully short, period between Then and Now, it is this: Francis W. Porretto does not toss out throwaway lines for the purpose of being, well, thrown away.

Consider this item, tucked into the midst of a post called “Marginalia”:

Do other fiction writers dream about having an affair with a female protagonist? And when it happens, do they admit it to their wives?

My credentials as a fiction writer are the slenderest possible, but here’s my call:

  1. Yes, definitely.
  2. If the wives are paying attention, they already suspect it.

Substitute gender references as needed.

And remember: that and $5.99 will get you a combo meal at participating locations only, for a limited time, local taxes not included.

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Ever so slight

Weather in these parts was generally terrible yesterday, and I fled the office an hour and a half early to beat (some of) the desperation traffic. I didn’t realize how terrible it was, though, until I pulled up the Mesonet last night:

Mesonet screen shot - wintry mix

When an 80-percent probability seems “slight,” you have definitely had a bad day.

Oh, and it’s supposed to snow tomorrow.

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No better than a number-two choice

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood — like there’s a chance of that these days — annually selects the worst toy of the year for the probably-not-coveted TOADY (Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young Children) Award. Most of these, as expected, are fairly humdrum examples of ordinary capitalist exploitation, the sort of thing that probably pays your salary, directly or indirectly.

iPotty by CTA DigitalBut one of them strikes me as remarkably horrible, even by the relaxed 21st-century standards for horribleness:

iPotty by CTA Digital
Price: $34.99
Recommended Age: 18 months+
Would your little one rather lie around in a poopy diaper than miss a second of his favorite show? Than you need the CTA Digital 2-in-1 iPotty with Activity Seat for iPad. No more struggles to get little Bobby or Susie to use the potty — with all the mesmerizing apps and videos, they’ll want to stay on there all day! Start them learning early that there’s a screen for every occasion.

The target audience here, suggests Consumerist, is “parents who have no problem not only putting a $600 piece of electronics in a toddler’s hands, but who have no issue putting that device and the toddler together on a $35 piece of plastic intended for the collection of human waste.”

Then again, the youngsters probably learned it by watching you.

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This feeling of fakin’ it

It is said that you will be perceived as much more desirable if you are perceived as taken. I’ve never noticed any such thing, but then it’s been rather a long time — about half a lifetime — since I’ve been taken. And I don’t really see myself as a customer for this particular service:

A new app to change your relationship status. “Invisible girlfriend” will call you, leave you voicemails and even give you gifts. All for a price. Just $9.99 per month for “talking” and $49.99 for “almost engaged” status.

How much to leave me the hell alone?

Manti Te’o, call your service. Or this one.

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Where it all goes (’13)

Two things are notable about this year’s property-tax bill: the millage is up by a smidgen, and the value of the palatial estate at Surlywood is not exactly climbing. End result: the outlay drifted downward a bit. From the treasurer’s report that comes with the bill (last year’s numbers, as always, in [brackets]):

  • City of Oklahoma City: $126.58 [$133.46]
  • Oklahoma City Public Schools: $478.05 [$494.54]
  • Metro Tech Center: $122.50 [$128.87]
  • Oklahoma County general: $94.52 [$100.43]
  • Countywide school levy: $32.77 [$34.53]
  • County Health Department: $20.50 [$21.60]
  • Metropolitan Library System: $41.16 [$43.37]
  • Total: $915.88 [$956.80]

Last year’s write-up is here. The actual millage is 115.70, up from 114.71; highest millage on record was 117.58 in 2011.

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Quote of the week

What is this I don’t even — oh, okay, it’s a defense of the language used on the Internet, by Tia Baheri (as distinguished from “the language used on the Internet by Tia Baheri”):

[W]e’re taking a group of people who have insider knowledge of the English language (or at least a good grasp of it) and placing them in a new, unfamiliar, virtual space. This space introduces visual aids to language in the form of photos and gifs, the ability to comment on someone else’s text in a reblog and the ability to communicate a lot of information in very few words using hashtags. We also see the creation of tone in a toneless medium. In order to simulate conversational patterns in writing we SHOUT WHEN WE’RE SUPER EXCITED or *psssst whisper when we’re pretending to tell someone a secret while perfectly aware that anyone on the internet can read what we’re saying.* slash the coolest bit tho is that u can like ironically forgo all capitalization and punctuation just write in a weird speech pattern its ok everyone will still understand maybe it even helps read the text more quickly because nothing is interrupting the flow of words

In short, this dialect results when people who already share a language are given new tools. The result isn’t a butchering of English language but a creative experiment with it. Am I claiming that the Internet as a whole is operating on a level of postmodernism that would make Joseph Heller, Kurt Vonnegut and Thomas Pynchon seem like novices? maybe i am maybe im not u punk wut of it like who r u to tell me otherwise

I don’t always get a QOTW from Twitter, but when I do it’s from Nancy Friedman.

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Unsubscribe yourself, Chuckie

Jeffro gets an early example of a new comment-spam pitch:

After I initially left a comment I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now whenever a comment is added I receive four emails with the same comment. Is there an easy method you are able to remove me from that service? Appreciate it! Feel free to surf to my web page on [redacted].

Oh, no, you didn’t, says the lucky recipient:

Mmmmkay, let’s look at this right here. Y’all commented anonymously, so no email address was required nor given. So, you ain’t been getting any damn emails. Kinda tough to do that. Plus, if you did comment logged in, the “notify me” controls are all on your end, oh spammer genius.

You’d think these bots could tell Blogger and WordPress apart by now.

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Maybe a little spite

What’s different between Clippers at Thunder and Thunder at Clippers? For one thing, the likelihood of a Flagrant 1 being called on Chris Paul in Los Angeles is vanishingly small. For another, there’s the incredible speed with which Loud City can change direction: Blake Griffin, homeboy, got lots of applause — until the tipoff, at which time he became Blake Griffin, enemy. I always marvel at that. Regardless of venue, though, these two teams always mix it up: the Clips have definitely earned their position as No Longer The Other Team In Los Angeles, and the Thunder will never run out of “Beat L. A.” stuff. It helps, of course, if you actually beat L. A. once in a while, and the Thunder got a measure of revenge for their loss at the Staples last week, pounding the Clippers, 105-91.

What the Clips did really well was finding shot opportunities: they put up 13 more shots than the Thunder, including a 29-shot barrage in the second quarter. What they didn’t do was cash in those opportunities consistently: those 29 shots brought only 21 points. It didn’t help that they only got 15 foul shots in the whole game — and missed eight of them. Still, the stalwarts lived up to their billing, with CP3 (17 points, 12 assists) and Griffin (27 points, 10 rebounds) collecting the only double-doubles for the night, and DeAndre Jordan bagging 12 boards. Jamal Crawford anchored the bench with a solid 18.

The Thunder’s newfound 3-ball prowess got lost on the way to the arena, or something: OKC went 4-19 from long. Russell Westbrook hoisted six of those bricks all by himself. Still, Russ was there when you, or Kevin Durant, needed him, and KD logged a game-high 28 points. Serge Ibaka showed some more of that offensive stuff: 17 points on 8-10 shooting, and oh, three blocks, just in case. Jeremy Lamb led the reserves with 11.

So 1-1 against the Clips. Not too shabby. The second rematch of the season comes Sunday against the Jazz.

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Melissa displays it all

I have occasionally expressed discomfiture over the appearance of Hervé Léger’s Bandage dress, which to me suggests really stylish mummification. On the other hand, Melissa Joan Hart seems to grasp the Zeitgeist here, and by “here” I mean at the premiere of Disney’s Frozen:

Melissa Joan Hart in Herve Leger

Or maybe she’s the only one who managed to get it in the correct size.

Random stumbled-upon biographical bit: Apparently MJH is named for an Allman Brothers song.

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Zapruder than ever

The guy I feel bad for is William Henry Harrison, who caught a cold three weeks after his inauguration; he wound up with pneumonia, which killed him on the 31st day of his term. Everyone, of course, explained that it was because he gave the most godawful long inaugural address on a raw March day without benefit of overcoat. But that’s what everyone does: coughs up an opinion.

This week, we’re getting all manner of JFK-related, um, nostalgia, and frankly we should knock it the hell off, or at least back off from the crushing volume of drama:

Once again, we’re told that it was the worst, the most terrible thing that ever happened to a U. S. President, in all of history —

And that, as H. L. Mencken might’ve said, is utter buncombe. While no President — or any other law-abiding citizen — deserves to be shot down, especially as long as there’s an independent press and the process of impeachment available, it’s an amazing coincidence that the only one they’ve got on film and tape is somehow the very worst.

The press isn’t as independent as it used to be, or for that matter as it thinks itself to be, but that’s not what’s at issue:

Consider Lincoln, who was assassinated in the actual (defective) course of an actual conspiracy, for which eight people were eventually convicted and four were hanged. Consider James A. Garfield, suffering though eleven weeks of increasingly dire infection before dying in agony, or William McKinley, lingering for days before succumbing to gangrene. If there’s a scale of terribleness, someone else is going to have to rank these untimely deaths — but not on the basis of which one offers the most compelling video.

Yeah, but this society has declared itself proudly ahistorical: unpleasant details are left out of the textbooks, and we’re awash in wannabe revisionists with political axes to grind. I can think of no better way to honor Mr Kennedy’s memory — or, for that matter, mine, once the time comes — than to hang the lot of them.

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