The new sucking sound

Keystone XL vs. wind power:

The Keystone XL pipeline would have provided 900,000 barrels of oil per day, roughly equivalent to 1.53 billion kw-hr per day. A typical wind turbine is 2MW nameplate capacity, but at best actually produces about 30% of this on average. This means that in a day it produces 2,000*.3*24 = 14,400 kw-hr of electricity. This means that the Keystone XL pipeline would have transported an amount of energy to the US equal to the output of 106,250 of those big utility-size wind turbines.

Looked at another way, the entire annual output of the US wind energy sector was about 75 terra-watt-hours per year or about 260 million kw-hr per day. This means that the Keystone XL pipeline would have carried energy equal to over 5 times the total output of wind power in the US.

Of course, converting that oil to electricity would involve losses of efficiency as well, no one in the administration (or on T. Boone Pickens’ speed-dial list) having yet figured out a way to suspend the laws of thermodynamics, but hey — the Chinese won’t be complaining.

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Crossing the mainstreams

Tavi, wise beyond her years (she’ll be sixteen in April), takes on the oft-misused term “hipster”:

[M]ost people who like more obscure music or wear vintage clothes don’t think of themselves as artsy, they’re just exploring and trying to define their taste instead of being someone who likes whatever is handed to them so they’re not mistaken for pretentious. I don’t like the term hipster — I think it’s become so broad as to apply to basically everyone — but the defining quality is that a hipster thinks and cares about what their tastes say about them, instead of just liking what they like. And so there is nothing more hipster than a person who decides that the only reason another person is wearing a colorful dress is that they’re concerned with what that dress means for their image. It’s hipster to give a shit if other people are hipsters or not; this is why people who claim they’re not hipsters are the most hipster of all, because they’re thinking that hard about it, and caring that much about what other people think.

A little meta at the end there, but I suppose it’s a hipster characteristic to use a term like “meta” in this context.

The article, I note, is titled “How to Not Care What Other People Think of You,” which is a useful skill not all of us develop in a timely manner.

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Which side of the lens?

Model decides to become an actress? Not news. Model who became an actress later decides to go into photography? Meet Fiona Xie:

Fiona Xie

That’s the story, anyway:

Singapore actress Fiona Xie has announced that she will leave MediaCorp for Hong Kong to pursue a career in photography.

This revelation quashes rumours that she is leaving because she was pregnant or has become a kept woman.

“The rumours are so ludicrous that I don’t even feel hurt. If I wanted to become a kept woman and leave the business, I would have left eight years ago,” she said, explaining that she had gotten a number of sleazy propositions when she was fresh in the business.

That I don’t doubt.

Koolcampus, from whom I swiped the above photo, is perhaps a bit cynical:

What price security?

FIONA XIE made an exceptional claim that she earned SGD 500,000 annually (of course Miss XIE should also mention that this amount should factually include her collective product endorsements for her best years), that she has found love in a rich boyfriend in Hong Kong, and that she is giving everything up for love and “peace of mind”.

“What is the point of being in a place that brings out the worst in you?” was her bold departing statement.

This spells out a thousand woes for the remaining surviving artistes in the Singapore film factory, as nobody can be that fortunate to find viable alternatives.

Not at all related to the photo: Fiona Xie’s first film appearance was in the soccer comedy One Leg Kicking in 2001, though she’d done some television the year before. Oh, and she just turned 29.

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Beater preservation

The Consumerist had a piece yesterday on keeping “that old, embarrassing car chugging along,” noting that “from the frugal perspective, you’re always better off investing in your current car’s well-being rather than dumping payments into its replacement.”

A commenter took exception:

Completely not true. There are many scenarios where the cost of maintenance and repair is so high they are not worth doing because replacing the car with an equivalent used one is less expensive.

This might be true if you drive around in $1000 beaters. I have no idea what KBB thinks my car is worth, but I’m reasonably certain it’s more than, say, the cost of rebuilding a Jatco transmission. (I’m not actually needing a transmission rebuild, but given the hard-to-kill nature of the Nissan VQ engine, I figure that would be the costliest repair job I could face.)

And another commenter offers numbers:

Considering car payments can be $400/mo easy, it’s rare that a car breaks down so often that you’ll spend $4800/yr on repairs.

And if you own something that can reasonably be expected to require $4800 worth of maintenance and repairs in each of several successive years — well, you’re not going to find much of an “equivalent” [seriously expensive brand name] for $400 a month.

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Threadbare essentials

I probably shouldn’t admit to being familiar with this situation:

I think these trousers are ready for the dust bin. The backs of the cuffs are frayed and front pockets both have holes in them. I could have duct taped the cuffs and the pockets. Duct tape carefully applied to the cuffs might have started a new fashion trend, at least among unemployed seniors. Of course, if my wife found out she would kill me. However, fixing the button would have meant getting out a needle and thread. Actual sewing, that’s beyond the pale.

However, I do keep needles — and several colors of thread — on hand for just such an emergency.

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Challenge accepted, as it were

The opening volley went like this:

Why, yes, I did hang a picture of #DerpyHooves on my corkboard at work.

This drew an almost-immediate “Pictures or it didn’t happen.”

Um, it happened:

Corkboard with photo of Derpy

It’s a position I’d often like to assume at that time of day.

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Onsite viewtician

Something I hadn’t noticed until now: if I go into the Comments section and hover over the URL proffered by the commenter, WordPress goes out and fetches a screenshot of what’s there at the moment — provided, of course, there’s something there; various alphabet-soup URLs showing up in the spam trap produce nothing at all.

I tell you, there’s nothing quite as hazardous to your train of thought as the sudden appearance of a window in the middle of the screen which displays, oh, let’s say,, a site which sought to glom a single-line blurb onto a piece about funny Wi-Fi names. And it occurs to me that “Urinary Tract Infection Home Remedies” might actually make a good name for a Wi-Fi network, if only because you’d expect something like that about as much as you’d expect the Spanish Inquisition, which of course nobody does.

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Compression test

Remember when the Detroit Pistons were a smoothly running, highly efficient machine? Sure you can. You may have to go back a few years, but you can do it. Now, the jalopy that showed up in Oklahoma City tonight — well, there’s a reason they call it a “rebuilding” year; it’s almost pointless to imagine them getting a new set of rings. At one point in the second quarter, the Pistons were down 32; they fought back, so to speak, to within 27 at the half, and lost it by 20, 99-79.

Which is not to belittle the Thunder’s accomplishment, but this is one of those games that they were supposed to win. (Then again, they were supposed to win against the Wizards last Wednesday, and we know how that worked out.) Still, the numbers were good: 53.2 percent shooting (7-16 on the long ball), 51-38 rebounding edge, and ten blocked shots (half by Serge Ibaka). That’s good enough to offset a startling 19 turnovers. (Detroit took better care of the ball, when they could get their hands on it.) Both Russell Westbrook and James Harden contributed 24 points to the cause, and Kevin Durant kicked in 20 more. I won’t even mention that Kendrick Perkins is on pace to record 1,329 technicals this season, for which he will be fined a sum equal to the sovereign debt of Greece.

Props must be given, though, to Pistons rookie guard Brandon Knight, who led all Detroit scorers with 13. He’s had better nights — his average was 12-ish coming in — but he managed to look a lot less confused than some of his teammates. (What happened to Rodney Stuckey? He rolled up six points in three minutes, and took twenty minutes to get six more. Blame Thabo.) Then again, the Pistons did beat the Trail Blazers this season, something the Thunder have yet to do.

Nick Collison may be out for a while, or he may not: all we know is that he exited after about nine minutes with an apparent ankle problem, and did not return. I hope he’s well for the arrival of the Hornets on Wednesday, since he normally makes life difficult for them.

Update: Collison is now listed as day-to-day.

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Those shiftless kids

How to keep your teenagers’ minds on their driving and their driving on their minds? Make them stir their own damn gears:

Some local parents say they chose a stick shift for their teen drivers in hopes of keeping them occupied with driving rather than texting.

Britt Hurley is a 17-year-old driver and says she was less than thrilled when her parents gave her a car with a stick shift for safety, but after a few days learning, she’s become comfortable with the manual transmission.

Now the economic strata I’ve straddled over the years tend to be occupied by people who say “You bought her a car?”


While this is hardly empirical or scientific, it’s a novel approach to a pretty serious problem among teens, and flies in the face of the constant push for smartphone integration in new vehicles.

And in a year or two, the kids will have figured out how to time-slice, so that they can continue to juggle the wheel, the stick, the iPhone and the Big Gulp. (Or they won’t, and they’ll drive up the side of a telephone pole.)

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Sounds like “hormones”

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I want my status markers, dammit

I am not one of those people who believes that Prius owners, as a group, are necessarily smug. However, I’m hard-pressed to come up with any other adjective for this character, and not because he drives a Prius either:

The KBB value of my car went WAY down…WTF!!!?

A few months ago I checked the KBB value of my 2006 Toyota Prius and it was valued at $18,500. I just checked now and it is valued at $15,000. Is this because the new 2012 models came out? This seems like way too much of a decrease. What happened?? It has nothing to do with the mileage, options or zip code.

Now why would someone be checking in regularly with Kelley Blue Book for the same damned car? There’s no indication that he’s thinking of selling it, which is the only practical use for the number, so what we have here, apparently, is an example of Smugfuckery In Action: he wants people to be impressed with how much his six-year-old car is worth. I’d suggest that he drive off a farging cliff, but I’d be willing to bet his estate wouldn’t get more than twelve grand for the car.

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Aggressively inarticulate

Yesterday I was making noise about finding patterns in blank verse, on the basis that if they’re not there, you might as well be reading, um, something else. I perhaps should have pointed out that reading it out loud often helps.

Along those lines, here’s a critique of today’s quavering, indecisive vocalizations passing themselves off as speech:

If you’re not keeping up with the text for some reason, here’s the whole thing, like, you know, statically.

(With thanks to Fillyjonk.)

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Strange search-engine queries (312)

This feature is presented once a week as a public service, largely because we don’t think anyone could stand it more often than that. (Those of you in charge of scheduling Republican debates could learn something from this level of restraint.)

“zooey deschanel” “sneezes”:  Well, yeah. She’s only human. Though I can’t explain the multicolored spray.

“brown bunny” swallow “three times” gallo:  No way in hell am I doing a “multicolored spray” reference here.

mule won’t:  Take it up with Hari Seldon.

speaking with flight attendants:  It’s got to be more pleasant than speaking with airport security.

on rainy nights my nude neighbor does not close her curtains:  And this is a problem — why, exactly?

mlp fim valentines chocolate:  Over to you, Pinkie Pie.

rainbow dash car seat covers:  Rarity can have that stitched up for you in no time, provided you promise not to help.

kirsten vangsness’ favorite food:  A neatly-sliced section of your heart, braised in liquid.

feigned nonchalance:  I used to do that, back when I gave a damn.

audrey hepburn physical features:  Go to sleep. Dream. Now imagine the woman you dreamed about, only better dressed.

i need a damn business idea!!!  Might I suggest — well, something that doesn’t require a blog.

can you change shift points on my ford escape:  Not right now. I’m trying to make some money off a blog.

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Applied Derpytology

Rather more truth here than we had any reason to expect:

Derpy gets hit with a stick

What? You’ve never seen anyone making a point with slapstick before?

(Found in the Smosh Pit.)

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Watts all this, then

In the course of explaining a Great Truth, Gagdad Bob brings out a lesser truth about which we give little thought:

In a painting, the boundary, or container, is the canvas and frame; in a poem, the meter or rhyme scheme; in a song, the rhythm, harmony, and melody; in a play, the stage. Remove the “limiting boundary” and there is no way to even perceive the work of art, because it is not set off from the rest of reality.

I note here that when those boundaries are obscured or seemingly absent, we will seek them just the same: blank verse may not have an obvious meter or anything resembling a rhyme scheme, so we look for internal rhythms and patterns, something that will tell us that this is a poem and not just a rewrite of a newspaper article, formatted funny.

Note also that this explains how the work of the true artist “spills over,” beyond the confines of its container. It is somewhat like the phenomenon of “headroom” in audiophile lingo. If you want to get the best performance out of a good pair of speakers, you need to have much more power than they technically require.

This is especially true if you’re playing music with substantial dynamic range. Recordings today tend to be highly compressed and limited, a response to a perceived — or imagined — audience demand for convenience at the expense of high fidelity. Even so, a brief high-level transient might be 15 dB louder, which requires 31.6 times as much power. As Bob says:

In my case — at least since I splurged on a new Luxman integrated last year — I barely have to turn up the volume in order to power my speakers. The distance between this and the full capacity of the amp is the “headroom.” A less powerful amp will still power the speakers, but you will be able to detect the “strain” at high volumes.

Most of your listening requires little actual amplifier power: a watt or two, maybe. But if you’re cruising along at 2W, and suddenly one of those 15-dB peaks shows up, the amp has to figure out some way to deliver 62W. Easy for a 200-watt amplifier; not so easy for a 20-watter.

The Institute of High Fidelity used to quote a “dynamic power” rating for amplifiers. My own vintage-1974 receiver carries a rating of 280W, distributed among four channels, which is About Enough. (The amp does four channels at once, so figure 70 watts per channel. The so-called continuous-power rating — it can do this much all day long — is 42.) I have so far managed not to damage my equally-old speakers.

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Come see the softer side of Kalimdor

World of Woolcraft

(Obtained in a quest to FAIL Blog’s WIN!)

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