A dubious anniversary

It was on this day in 2006 that I restarted the Movable Type database. (This was the last post in the first MT database.) And it was two years and one day later when I washed my hands of it and switched to WordPress.

From that first post in the second MT database:

The most maddening thing, of course, is that during the Quiet Times, my traffic went up about twelve percent. Obviously I should post less.

So why start again? Well, for one thing, the old database, with seven thousand and odd items, was getting cranky. For another, it’s not like anything is missing: all the old posts are still archived and are available at their original URLs. And the last time I ran an export of said database, it clipped off at the 18-MB point for some reason, meaning that if I reimported it, I’d have to port over a couple months’ worth of entries anyway, and I’ve already put enough work into this thing.

The Quiet Times, incidentally, lasted less than 36 hours, and didn’t interrupt my run of Consecutive Days With Posts.

But this almost did:

For some incredibly-stupid reason, I decided to try to update Movable Type from 3.21 all the way up to 4.21 on 6 September 2008. It took four hours, and not everything is in place just yet: the comments popup doesn’t work, for one thing. (It may never work again; they said they were dropping support for it, and while I’m looking for a workaround, there’s a limit to how much I’m willing to put up with just to retain a feature.)

Also, until further notice, any comments that do come in will have to sit in the moderation queue until I have that rearranged to my liking.

But it’s late and I need some sleep and I’m not going to work on this mess any further until I get some. Sleep, I mean.

That was about one-thirty on the morning of the 7th. About 13 hours later:

There is a limit to how much I’m willing to endure, and some time today I reached it. We are now running WordPress 2.6.1. All of the old posts remain in their original locations; posts for this month were imported to WP and can be read here. It will be a while before I have links up to everything else, the way I used to.

Eventually, I moved all the posts from those two years. (The stuff from before 6 September 2006 is still where it used to be.)

I’ve had some scary moments in these six years, but I’m still on WordPress — now version 4.0.

Comments off




Now that’s total recall

It’s seldom that an automaker has to recall 100 percent of a model year, but it’s happened to supercar maker Koenigsegg. Not that this is a lot of cars, of course:

Koenigsegg Automotive AB (Koenigsegg) is recalling one model year 2013 Agera vehicle manufactured in December 2012, equipped [with] a BF1 Systems Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). The affected vehicle may experience the TPMS system not illuminating the TPMS malfunction indicator light when the vehicle is restarted. Thus, this vehicle fails to comply to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 138, “Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems.”

One. Apparently this car is the only ’13 Agera actually sold in the States. I don’t know how many of them were actually built, but “planned volume is 12 to 15 cars per year,” most of which probably went to Dubai or some such place.

The bf1systems (to give it its proper stylization) TPMS is very popular in the supercar market:

bf1systems’ Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems can be found as standard fit on cars such as the Bugatti Veyron, Lamborghini Aventador, Pagani Huayra and all Aston Martins.

Not a slouch in the bunch.

Comments off




This doesn’t Pétain to you

Nancy Friedman spotted this display in Walgreen’s:

Store display for Vichy brand cosmetics

What were they thinking? L’Oreál, which has owned the Vichy trademark since 1955 — the original Vichy company dates to 1931 — evidently hopes you have a short memory, or only the sketchiest knowledge of World War II. On my finely calibrated Effrontery Scale, this is a couple of standard deviations beyond, say, vending Appomattox Ale from a taco truck in Charleston, South Carolina.

Friedman suggests alternate slogans; I recommend the note-perfect “Your Beauty Collaborator.”

A fine kettle of fish soup, guys.

Comments (4)




Added to the colander of saints

“Lose the glasses,” they told me when they took the picture for my driver’s license. “Too much glare.” Good thing they didn’t shoot the top of my head.

Then again, I’m not a Pastafarian:

It may sound like a joke but an Enid woman says her Oklahoma driver’s license features a unique symbol of her religious freedom.

It may even prompt a giggle, but for Shawna Hammond, the spaghetti strainer is a symbol of freedom.

“It doesn’t cover my face. I mean you can still see my face. We have to take off our glasses, so I took off my glasses,” Hammond said.

Letter of the law, doncha know. And this is the law:

According to the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety’s rules, religious headpieces cannot cause shadows on your face and the photograph must present a clear view of your face.

Hammond declares herself to be an atheist, her manifest devotion to the Flying Spaghetti Monster notwithstanding.

Comments (5)




Once burned, ice shy

The late Lou Gehrig, an eminently sensible man, would probably not have encouraged people to dump water on their heads for the sake of research into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. But being an eminently sensible man, he also wouldn’t have attributed the phenomenon to Beelzebub:

A WorldNetDaily writer can’t fathom why anyone would willingly dump ice water on themselves, so she did some digging and has now concluded that the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a satanic ritual.

“I began to think about the IBC,” Selena Owens explains in the piece. “Whose idea was this? Why would people so easily agree to being drenched in icy water? Who participated and who didn’t? Why do people feel obligated to take the challenge if offered to them? What’s the purpose of calling out three other people to take the challenge?”

It gets sillier after that, believe it or not.

Says Lynn:

I don’t even know what to say about this, folks, except that it’s really, really effed up. Someone please go dump a bucket — no, a trash can — full of ice over Selena Owens’ head. Maybe the ritual will reboot her brain.

And since it’s Friday, here’s Rebecca Black on the receiving end:

To the guy who said she should have been wearing white: give it a rest, why doncha?

Comments off




A branch at a time

Sustained winds of 30 mph or so yesterday knocked down another piece of the same sweetgum tree that tried to take out my phone line about 90 days ago. Inasmuch as the tree is now too short to hit the line, there were no issues other than the need to haul away yet another piece of dead wood.

Yeah, I know: I should have it chopped down. Of course, at this rate, it will have taken itself down by next fall.

Comments (2)




256 shades of grey

For as long as I can remember, the back page of the Oklahoma Gazette, the local sort-of-alt-weekly, has been purchased by the local BMW dealer to showcase the current lease deals. After a while, they start to blur: all those Bimmers look pretty much the same. Jack Baruth is happy to explain one of the reasons why:

Let’s put aside for a minute the staggering historical ignorance in thinking that German cars have always been limited to non-colors. After all, the Porsches of the Sixties and the Audis of the Seventies came in colors from lime green to light tan and at no time was the integrity of the German people harmed in any way as a result. Trabants were always wacky colors and that was despite East Germany being pretty much a collection of unheated concrete buildings. The monochromization of the Fatherland’s automobiles didn’t start in earnest until it became possible to lease them cheaply and all the newbies wanted a silver BMW with the lowest possible payment. What can you do about that? It sucks and that’s why when you drive by your local Bimmer dealer the colorful Bavarias and 320is of yesteryear have been replaced by a line of grey blobs with BMW Financial’s preferred package of auction-friendly equipment.

Well, this week they have an X1 sDrive28i in actual red for $359 for 36 months, and while this is the Bimmer toward which I am most favorably disposed, I refuse to pay actual money for anything with an asinine label like “sDrive28i.” (MSRP, if you’re asking, is $36,650.) And apparently this ad is updated piecemeal, when it’s updated at all, because some of these deals expired on the first of August, the rest on the first of September. Cover date is the third of September. (The bottom-feeder 320i, offered for $309, is indeed in silver, or a very shiny grey.)

Comments (9)




Mutant Slinky

Next Wednesday, an exhibit called Killer Heels opens at the Brooklyn Museum, and this is what we should expect:

Killer Heels explores fashion’s most provocative accessory. From the high platform chopines of sixteenth-century Italy to the glamorous stilettos on today’s runways and red carpets, the exhibition looks at the high-heeled shoe’s rich and varied history and its enduring place in our popular imagination.

So far, so good. Now to get right down to the real nitty-gritty:

As fashion statement, fetish object, instrument of power, and outlet of artistic expression for both the designer and the wearer, throughout the ages the high-heeled shoe has gone through many shifts in style and symbolism. Deadly sharp stilettos, architecturally inspired wedges and platforms, and a number of artfully crafted shoes that defy categorization are featured among the more than 160 historical and contemporary heels on loan from designers, from the renowned Brooklyn Museum costume collection housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and from the Bata Shoe Museum.

At least one of the shoes on exhibit defies not only categorization but recognition:

Zaha Hadid X United Nude shoe

Seriously.

The prospectus is admittedly impressive:

Guided by her 30 years of experience working with complex structural principles on all scale levels, [Zaha] Hadid has developed an innovative cantilevered system that allows the staggering 16cm (6.25 in) heel to appear completely unsupported.

The rhythmic, articulated transformation of the shoe’s composition encapsulates the seamless integration of materials, inventive engineering and highest standards of comfort. As Hadid’s most recent expression of this symbiotic association, the NOVA shoe design transcends the disciplines of fashion and architecture.

Now I’m just trying to imagine suitable accessories.

(Via InStyle.)

Comments (2)




Finally a (second!) use for Comic Sans

Two days after the first one, here’s an even better one:

There’s another scandal doing the rounds on the web and it has nothing to do with leaked nude pictures of celebrities.

A decision by the Sydney Morning Herald to use the much-maligned font Comic Sans on its front page has made it the focus of much attention, and ridicule, on social media.

The 183-year-old newspaper, known as Granny, placed comments by Independent Commission against Corruption witnesses Eric Roozendaal and Chris Hartcher in Comic Sans speech bubbles.

Response on Twitter was along these lines:

Mr Stott is the morning editor at News Corp’s news.com.au, which has long been fond of poking fun at Fairfax Media, which owns the SMH.

And come to think of it, #smh is a pretty common hashtag in its own right, quite apart from Fairfax.

Still, if we’re going to have Dueling Douchebags on the front page, Comic Sans accords them the seriousness they deserve.

(Via Fark.)

Comments (2)




Barrier on the side of the road

The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard in question is Number 214, and the Feds will not yield:

FMVSS No. 214 incorporates a new test that replicates the scenario where a car slides sideways into a tree or pole. Finalized in 2007, the test began being phased in to new cars starting in 2010, but automakers that produce fewer than 5,000 units have been exempt from the phase-in period. That is until September 1, 2014 when all vehicles (excluding convertibles) are expected to be compliant; convertible have until September 1, 2015.

According to the petition [by several US Aston Martin dealers], the coupe and convertible models of the DB9 and Vantage will not meet this regulation within that timeframe, and claims that Aston Martin would require an investment of $30 million (€22.4 million) to make the necessary changes to the vehicles, which the petition says that automaker doesn’t have. Even worse, the next-generation models of both cars have been delayed with no specific time table for their arrival.

Feds: “Drop dead”:

So that would seem to be that. Formal statements are expected shortly.

Comments (1)




Dynaflub

I have occasionally grumbled about the four-speed automatic that sits behind Gwendolyn’s engine: the big(gish) V6 is happy to rev, but getting the slushbox to do a downshift when called upon occasionally tries my patience. This is done, I am told, to preserve fuel economy. I, of course, find this argument specious: we may or may not run out of oil some day, but I will definitely run out of time.

Still, however lethargic this Jatco unit seems to be, it’s way speedier than Dale Franks’ description of the Hydra-Matic 6T40 (I think) the General bolts into the Buick Encore:

As near as I can figure it, the engine writes out a 5-page shift request form in longhand, then walks down to the mailbox to send it off. When the transmission receives it, it properly logs the request — in longhand, of course — then proceeds to shift. You can speed the process up, as the transmission has a manual option, with a shift switch on the shifter handle. Don’t do that. You won’t like it.

And that’s a six-speed.

In the long run, it might be easier just to get the damn knee replacement and a car with an actual stick shift, while such contraptions still exist.

Comments (3)




Flesh tone

I’ve already said my piece on For God’s Sake Don’t Call It Nakedgate, but I couldn’t pass up this blast from Bark M.:

This has, undoubtedly, been the best couple of days ever for some incredibly disparate groups of people. The first group? Duh. The Cheeto-stained, white t-shirt wearing, involuntarily celibate basement dwelling males of the Internet. Up until now, if they had wanted to try to see Jennifer Lawrence naked, they had been reduced to watching X-Men: First Class frame by frame in high definition.

The other group having a field day with this? I bet you thought I was gonna say Feminists, right? Nah, too easy. It’s the Sensies… Sensies are those men who … just can’t wait to throw their full support behind any and all feminist cause, regardless of the merit (and of course, there are many, many serious and legitimate feminist causes). Sensies were the first ones this week to say “How DARE YOU!” when Redditors began posting galleries of nude photos of women that, frankly, men have been wanting to see naked for years.

“YOU VIOLATED HER PRIVACY!” Come on, this couldn’t have played out any better for dear old JLaw. She gets to show the whole world how smoking hot her body is, and yet, instead of being called a skank, she gets to be a victim.

I side with the “How DARE YOU!” guys, not so much because I have veiled feminist tendencies — I’m ultimately way too insensitive for that — but as a simple application of the Golden Rule. (To borrow a phrase, some of my neighbors are women.)

And I demur slightly on that bit about “women men have been wanting to see naked for years,” not because I question the existence of that want, but because historically men have wanted to see pretty much every available female naked, with the exception of Aunt Tillie and the girl who works the late drive-thru at Taco Bell, and I’m not so sure about her.

Comments (3)




Not too much monkey business

You could point a finger at Justin Timberlake for lack of originality, says Jack Baruth, but in fact you’re missing the point:

The second guy to use a bottleneck on a guitar wasn’t being original but today we recognize it as a style to itself and we can discuss the masters of that style without worrying about originality. Half of the licks on Appetite For Destruction are stolen from Chuck Berry — check out “Think About You” if you doubt that — and nobody doubts Slash’s standing as a guitarist and musician.

I suspect that half of the licks everywhere can be traced back to Chuck Berry: rather a lot of British Invasion stuff, for instance, relied on Chuck’s back catalog. Also about this time, Berry and Brian Wilson (!) “collaborated” on “Surfin’ U.S.A.,” a blatant rewrite of “Sweet Little Sixteen.” Then again, Chuck’s own “No Particular Place to Go,” also about this time, was a blatant rewrite of “Sweet Little Sixteen.”

For extra credit, hunt down “Licks Off Of Records” from Martin Mull and His Fabulous Furniture in Your Living Room! (Capricorn, 1973), which is best known for the parody “Dueling Tubas”; “Licks” features a session guitarist who prefers not to be lionized, inasmuch as everything he does comes from somewhere else.

Comments (7)




The emetic in your refrigerator door

I am not fond of mayonnaise. (Then there’s McGehee, who is really not fond of mayonnaise.) Still, your go-to person for mayo hatred is Amelia:

When is it appropriate to use mayonnaise?
@BrianFaughnan

Dear Brian,

Never. Well, never as condiment, anyways. Mayonnaise is acceptable if you’ve ingested poison and need to induce vomiting, but only if other means are not available and time is truly of the essence.

Amusingly, this is the top of the Wikipedia page for “Vomiting”:

“Vomit” redirects here. For other uses, see Vomit (disambiguation).

“Emesis” redirects here. For the butterfly genus, see Emesis (genus).

“Heaving” redirects here. For the up-and-down motion, see Heave.

“Puke” redirects here. For other uses, see Puke (disambiguation).

When the aliens come, as they must, I’ll remind them that this world of ours is so incredibly diverse that there’s a disambiguation page for “Puke.”

(Typed while eating a ham sandwich. No mayo.)

Comments (13)




The last Saab story ever?

Maybe. The company that makes Saab cars — except, of course, that it’s not actually making any cars right now — has won protection from its creditors, but at a dear price:

China’s National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS), which bought bankrupt carmaker Saab in 2012, won protection from creditors from a Swedish court on Friday while it concludes funding talks.

The decision gives the company, which has not built any cars since May because of a shortage of money, breathing space from creditors to whom it owes some 400 million Swedish crowns ($57.56 million).

There’s just this one minor detail:

Separately, Saab AB, the defense firm from which Saab Automobile was created in 1990, added to NEVS’ troubles on Friday by saying it had withdrawn its right to use the brand name Saab.

Swedish business daily Dagens Industri quoted a Saab AB spokesperson as saying NEVS’ application for creditor protection gave Saab AB the right to cancel the brand agreement.

So there will be cars from NEVS, maybe, but with a new brand name — unless they can pull off something miraculous like persuading General Motors to sell them Pontiac or Saturn. Fat chance of that.

Comments (2)




But the flash is weak

One of the advantages I have as a person of indifferent — or worse — appearance is that there is little or no demand for pictures of me in the altogether, though you may be certain that on those rare occasions when there was a demand, I saw to it that there was a supply.

I find it highly curious that guys, the same half of the species that collects pictures of unclad or marginally-clad actresses, might suggest that “Hey, maybe you shouldn’t do that sort of thing.” This translates, without much difficulty, into “We are assholes and cannot be trusted”; the fact that this may well be true does not impose an obligation on the starlet wishing to show off — after all, she’s not doing it for their benefit.

This is not to say that precautions should not be taken before — and after — the photo session, but you probably ought not to rely on mere technical advice:

Well, of course it’s unsafe. Almost anything worth doing is: “Speedboats, racecars, fine shotguns, whiskey, and love are all very dangerous.”

Noted for reference: The picture source I tap most frequently, SuperiorPics, has refused to accept any of the leaked nudes, consistent with their ongoing policy, and will block any attempts to post them on their forum.

Comments off