Quote of the week

Jamie Kitman, New York bureau chief of Automobile Magazine, writes in the February ’14 issue about the difficulty of being a left-of-center car buff:

Many of my more extreme fellow travelers on the left end of the dial disdain any interest in cars, much less full-blown habits like mine. Automobiles, they’ll tell you, are vulgar, polluting mechanical expressions of the will to power and male sexual insecurity, hence emblematic and highly beloved of the patriarchal, capitalist war machine.

“Well, duh!” I reply. But cars are useful, sometimes essential, and often a lot of fun.

Critics on the right brand me and my kind as freedom-suffocating communists, because we like cars but believe the law ought to require that air and water be clean, that cars be safe, and that manufacturers who break those rules or are found guilty of gross negligence in the design and manufacture of dangerous machinery and fuels ought to be held accountable.

The tricky part here is coming up with a definition of “safe” — or, for that matter, of “gross negligence.”

Okay, there’s one thing trickier: finding a suitably female counterpart to some phallic sports job like Jaguar’s original E-Type.

Then again, in my neck of the woods, both men and women tend to drive humongous trucks or cars that try their darnedest to look like humongous trucks; there are, of course, parts of the country that find this practice somewhere between inscrutable and inflammatory.

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Future hate

Canadian author Sheila Heti has spoken (or tweeted, anyway) positively about Her, the Spike Jonze film about a fellow who falls hard for the disembodied voice in an operating system. I’ve been avoiding the film, officially because it hasn’t opened locally yet, but really because I know I’m susceptible to this same sort of crush and I’d just as soon not be reminded of myself, though of course I’ve never looked anything like Joaquin Phoenix.

Then she sent this up:

What did he mean by that? I suggested that this merited further thought, to the extent that what I do can be considered “thought,” and she replied:

by “this” I’m pretty sure he meant the scenario in the movie. Kill so many so only computers are left to love? Who knows?

It looks to me, down here in Third Hand Alley, that the chap really doesn’t want to kill anyone, but fears that the film might lead him — or, perhaps more likely, someone else of a type he recognizes with a different set of values — to bring about this binary dystopia. Then again, guys in love do some incredibly foolish things at times.

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Respect my butthurt

Once again, we have someone unclear on the concept:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Find a anonymous ask.fm ip address?


Someone asked me a question on ask.fm and its pissing me off because i don’t know who it is.. I know how to find IP addresses and all but I don’t have a computer that can download programs ( I have an Acer C720 Chromebook and It only runs on Google Chrome software so..) I know how to find IP addresses but I need to know who this person is. I also know about the whole “block them and in a few days you’ll see the user” but I don’t want to wait and I don’t want to block anyone. Is there a way I can find out who the person is by only using Google Chrome?

It occurs to me that if you don’t want to be asked things, you probably shouldn’t be hanging around ask.fm, but maybe that’s just me.

And what are the chances that this character actually knows “how to find IP addresses,” or what to do with them once they’re found? I mean, if you consider this some sort of Vital Skill, it’s ludicrous in the extreme to confine yourself to a machine that you think won’t do it.

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Teetering on the edge of damage

Lynn takes exception to a recent television commercial:

The worst of the car commercials are those for Lexus. This year they had one in which they showed a woman using a treadle sewing machine. They showed a quick close-up of her feet and she was wearing stiletto heels! I cheer the use of a treadle sewing machine but in those heels? Not happening sweetie.

Besides the implausibility of that little scene, it greatly annoys me that that style of ridiculous, uncomfortable and possibly even dangerous footwear is considered an essential part of the standard Attractive-Female Uniform. While it’s certainly not as extreme as the old Chinese custom of foot binding it comes from the same mindset.

I must give her props for consistency. I occasionally report on shoes in this space, and she happily denounces anything with a sufficiently high heel.

Girls, you can’t call yourselves modern, liberated women as long as you are slaves to fashion. It is hard to find shoes that are both comfortable and attractive but they do exist and if you buy them shoe designers will respond by making more. Do us all a favor and stop stuffing your feet into overpriced torture devices.

Not at all incidentally — I am a firm believer in second opinions — I brought up that same commercial to a friend yesterday at lunch. Her objection was different: “If you can afford a Lexus, you can afford an electric sewing machine.”

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Liquid admiration

One of the Time blogs pulled this out of Craigslist, presumably to let it dry:

You — 5’8 scruffy, glasses, wearing a blue hoodie outside the Vid and I asked you for a lighter. You lit my cigarette and we talked about our wishes for the new year. We heard the countdown starting and decided to stay outside. I started to cry and you kissed me, and then we started to make out. After a minute I felt something warm and realised that you pissed yourself. I pushed you away and that’s when you ran but I wish you had stayed. You peed on me but it’s OK! I just want to know who you are! Please reply and when you do tell me why I started crying so I know it’s you — if you remember.

I shudder to imagine those two taking a shower together.

(Via Voodoo Princess Daintyhooves, aka Erin Palette.)

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It’s all about the canines

Two copies of this showed up yesterday, from the same source, less than 60 seconds apart:

Dentofacial and orthodontics orthopedics: facial or tooth deformities owing to intentional damage, accidents and also birth defects are treated by such specialist.

For further information, to see photos of the dog, and to follow the dog’s fate in the news, check out the October 17, 2012 Sacramento Bee article by Cynthia Hubert, “UC Davis vets have tough job treating snoutless dog. Pupils enrolled in an on-line program can teach in places like:.

No snout? How does it smell?

(I know, I know: “Terrible.”)

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Tangled up in black and white

If ever you thought the Nets were snakebit, Tuesday night in San Antonio would have provided a valuable data point: with 24.2 seconds left, the Spurs, leading 113-92, decided not to shoot again, the shot-clock violation was duly called, and the Nets got possession for those last 0.2 seconds — except that they’d already left for the locker room. Coach Jason Kidd had to call a timeout and go find some players for that last smidgen of time.

Kidd apparently made a point about time utilization, because tonight with 0.9 seconds left in the third quarter, Paul Pierce put up a lovely fadeaway from about 16 feet to bring the Nets to within 14 of the Thunder — and then Deron Williams stole the ball from Jeremy Lamb and sank a trey at the horn. Nine seconds into the fourth, Williams, assisted by Andrei Kirilenko, dropped in a jumper. Seven points in ten seconds! Brooklyn kept pressing, and took a two-point lead with 2:01 left on, yes, a Williams trey. Oklahoma City tied it up at 93-all at 0:058; Joe Johnson got off a 20-footer at the buzzer to win it for Brooklyn, 95-93.

So how about those Nets? When they stay focused, they can win. They brought their mid-30s shooting up to 44 percent at the end. They pulled off 13 steals. And they did most of this without Kevin Garnett at Maximum Mean; KG took only four shots all night, making two. It didn’t hurt that Kevin Durant played most of the fourth quarter with five fouls, although KD’s line (24 points on 8-13 shooting) wasn’t too awful. Serge Ibaka logged another double-double, with 10 points and 11 rebounds. And here’s a first: Perry Jones III (!) led the bench with 11.

But there was just no stopping Deron Williams, who came up with a season-high 29 on a mere 17 shots. Paul Pierce bagged 18, and Alan Anderson topped the reserves with 13.

If nothing else, we’ve learned this from the last two games: you can’t let up in the fourth quarter. Will this lesson carry over to Saturday night in Minnesota? Beats me.

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In lieu of an Equal Tweets Amendment

So now this is a thing:

Twee-Q, or Twitter Equality Quotient, is a simple score derived from how often you retweet men or women. We index the latest 100 tweets of a Twitter user and check the names and gender of those retweeted against our database (Swedish SCB, U.S Census 2010). Twee-Q is brought to you by Swedish organization Crossing Boarders, with support from Comviq. Crossing Boarders works to promote equal participation in associations, organizations and businesses. Based on successful experience from gender issues Crossing Borders has developed a practical guide that opens shut doors, introduces female role models and through robust methods, strengthens young women’s confidence and self-esteem. The goal is equal right to an active leisure.

The ideal Twee-Q, they say, is 10: your last 100 retweets were from 50 men and 50 women. On this basis, I rated an 8:

I assure you, I wasn’t keeping count or anything, though if you’d asked me to guess, I wouldn’t have been too far off.

Note that had the proportions been reversed, the score would still have been 8, which is as it should be.

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December here, has anyone seen May?

I was just about to type “Twenty-nine, of course” as an answer to this:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Men .. What age is a female most attractive in terms of sexual appeal?

She (I assume it’s “she”) continues:

You know how they say that older men in their 40’s and 50’s, in general, prefere younger women for sex/relationships?

Well how much younger do they tend to prefere if they could have any?

If you were a man in your 40’s / 50’s and could have any age woman who was childless what age would be your ideal?

Or would it depend on whether you just wanted sex or a relationship?

Out of interes please state your age?

No longer being in my 40s/50s, I stopped typing. And despite being 60, I still have a memory, so I recalled once — actually, more than once — having pointed out before that someone 31 years my junior should not be on my romantic radar.

Someone did point out to the questioner the existence of the standard rule in such matters: “half your age plus seven.” I am not sure, however, if this applies equally to men and women; is a 50ish woman on solid social ground if she aims her sights on a chap of 32? At one level, I want to say “Of course she is, you moron,” but I have a feeling that she’d be skewered by society for so doing, while a guy robbing the cradle never comes close to getting probation.

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All I dare give you is the description:

Little Maddie is a Cthulhu-themed My Little Pony designed by Bigshot Toyworks for Friendship is Maddness, a project encompassing a series of animation shorts and toys.

I assume this was approved by the estate of H. P. Lovecolt.

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Not the coolest approach

Says Gael, “The International Packaged Ice Association is a little delusional about the meaning of the word ‘food’.” It would so seem:

Packaged ice bag

On the upside, it’s a beverage — eventually.

Maybe they can use that great expanse of space at the top of the bag for nutritional information.

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An unusually powerful year

If your world is binary, that is:

The twos have been doubled!

Look for this again in 2046, when they won’t have to leave out 32.

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While the ball drops

It is a tradition in parts of South America, says Fausta, to wear fresh yellow underwear to ring in the New Year:

Among the traditions, is wearing yellow underwear at the moment when New Year arrives. According to beliefs, doing so brings wealth and prosperity in the coming year.

Venezuela, the country with the least prosperity, had difficulty following the tradition:

Agencia Carabobeña de Noticias (News Agency of Carabobo, ACN) reported that this year, Yellow Underwear is Rare and Costly, with panty prices increasing by 73% and 185% (depending on the shop) since 2012. Bra inflation was worse, with prices increasing by 300% to 500%. Men’s underpants doubled in price (the article doesn’t specify jockeys or boxers). ACN also itemized the rise in prices in the foods traditionally served on New Year’s Eve, with similar results.

The Venezuelan government, still emotionally wedded to the halfwit Marxism of Chávez, presumably blames gnomes.

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The wheels on the bus restart

Nothing’s graven in stone just yet, but it might be too soon to bury the Volkswagen Type 2, which supposedly died on the 20th of December:

Just days after the production of the Kombi ended, news comes in that the van could get a second lease of life.

Guido Mantega, the Brazilian finance minister is investigating whether there is a possibility to exempt the Kombi from the new safety regulations. His argument is that the original design could not include these features, as in 1950, airbags or ABS were not available, at least not to passenger cars.

This argument, of course, wouldn’t play in the States, where they create standards and then expect you to invent products that meet them. But VW Brazil has this going for them:

The VW Kombi is the sixth best selling commercial vehicle in Brazil, and is the quintessential mode of transport for local businesses.

Good luck, Sr. Mantega. You’ll need it.

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Unfinished business

If I understand things correctly — and who says I do? — it won’t actually be finished so long as I’m breathing.

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Your turn

For the New Year, I proclaim an Open Thread, mostly because I can, and because a few of you will actually use it. I mean, I’m not exactly providing Ace-level material, but hey, it works for me.

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