Caddy remarks

What does Jack Baruth want from Cadillac? Some actual Cadillacs, dammit:

Since the last real Eldorado died in 1985, you’ve built spacious cars, fast cars, plastichrome Tahoes, economical cars, and even somewhat reliable cars. You just haven’t bothered to build any Cadillacs. What is a Cadillac? It is, simply, a vehicle that is exemplary and desirable.

Now we have the ATS. Aren’t you ashamed of yourselves? Do you really think anybody wants this car? Do you really think anybody is willing to pay more for it than they would for an equivalently-powered BMW? Is this vehicle exemplary and desirable? The answer to these questions: Of course not. This car, along with every other vehicle you sell, should be summarily discontinued and replaced with actual Cadillacs. You’d be better off buying the tooling for the 2003 LS430, welding fins on said LS430, and selling that. It would be closer to the idea of “Cadillac” than anything you have now.

Then again, Lincoln these days can scarcely be bothered to come up with anything that couldn’t just as easily have been done as a Mercury. Maybe we can talk Sergio Marchionne into building a few Imperials for Chrysler Group.

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Music from the hearts of ponies

I tend to be somewhat fidgety by nature, but it’s by no means necessary that I sync my music to my nervous system: there are times when what I want most is a slow, and I mean barely moving, ambient background for what I’m doing, or sometimes for what I’m not doing. (Hearts of Space? Yes, please.) I’m not especially familiar with the genre, so I take it more or less as I find it.

Where I did not expect to find it: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Some smart guy came up with the idea of taking “Love Is In Bloom,” the upbeat closer to the two-part Canterlot Wedding story arc, and slowing it to about one-eighth speed while retaining pitch. This is not particularly tricky, technologically speaking, but it never, ever would have occurred to me. The video is similarly slowed, but you don’t need the visuals: it’s bouncy and appealing at a minute and three quarters, but at fourteen minutes and three quarters, it’s weirdly — but beautifully — atmospheric. I have no idea what composer Daniel Ingram thinks about this sort of thing, but I’d like to thank him just the same.

(Found in a nightly roundup at Equestria Daily.)

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More summer shorts

Who writes short shorts? I write short shorts.

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Fly the friendlier skies

And those would be, um, the skies of Hello Kitty:

Eva Air Hello Kitty jet

This isn’t the first time Taiwan’s EVA Air has paired with Sanrio — they had two such jets in 2005 — but they’ve ordered up new Airbus A330-300s to celebrate their 20th anniversary, and who better to invite to the party?

If travel with Kitty appeals to you, start here.

(From Buzzfeed via Girls of a Certain Age.)

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Call her Red, and then stop there

Otherwise, you’ll just encourage more of the same:

Dawn McManus, 41, promised to change her name to encourage fundraising for her charity, Red Dreams, which was set up after the death of her son.

She believes her new name — including the charity’s name and people it has helped — could be the world’s longest.

Suppose it’s not. Is she going to amend the deed poll to tack on a few extra letters?

Oh, you wanted the gory details. Fine, then:

The former Mrs McManus is now called Red Wacky League Antlez Broke the Stereo Neon Tide Bring Back Honesty Coalition Feedback Hand of Aces Keep Going Captain Let’s Pretend Lost State of Dance Paper Taxis Lunar Road Up Down Strange All and I Neon Sheep Eve Hornby Faye Bradley AJ Wilde Michael Rice Dion Watts Matthew Appleyard John Ashurst Lauren Swales Zoe Angus Jaspreet Singh Emma Matthews Nicola Brown Leanne Pickering Victoria Davies Rachel Burnside Gil Parker Freya Watson Alisha Watts James Pearson Jacob Sotheran Darley Beth Lowery Jasmine Hewitt Chloe Gibson Molly Farquhar Lewis Murphy Abbie Coulson Nick Davies Harvey Parker Kyran Williamson Michael Anderson Bethany Murray Sophie Hamilton Amy Wilkins Emma Simpson Liam Wales Jacob Bartram Alex Hooks Rebecca Miller Caitlin Miller Sean McCloskey Dominic Parker Abbey Sharpe Elena Larkin Rebecca Simpson Nick Dixon Abbie Farrelly Liam Grieves Casey Smith Liam Downing Ben Wignall Elizabeth Hann Danielle Walker Lauren Glen James Johnson Ben Ervine Kate Burton James Hudson Daniel Mayes Matthew Kitching Josh Bennett Evolution Dreams.

This includes three iterations of “James,” two of “Jacob,” two of “Davies,” two of “Miller,” and two of “Rebecca.”

There is no indication that Red will be appearing as a guest on a Fiona Apple album, but she should have no trouble ousting long-standing Silly Party candidate Tarquin Fin-tim-lin-bin-whin-bim-lim-bus-stop-F’tang-F’tang-Olé-Biscuitbarrel.

(Via CBC.)

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By whom it was dealt

According to protocol, that’s also by whom it was smelt. In the meantime, let’s blame the dinosaurs, shall we?

Dinosauras may have been partly to blame for climate change in their time because their diets meant they emitted vast clouds of methane, a powerful global warming gas, scientists say.

The key culprits were the giant plant-eating sauropods, which spent 150 million years plodding around the planet eating ferns and burping and farting methane.

I have no personal (or reptilian) experience to cite here, but if a fern fart is anything like a broccoli fart, then it might be the gas itself that killed them, not the alleged warming. I’ve seen people drop like flies after a trip to the salad bar.

Professor Graeme Ruxton of St. Andrews University and his colleagues have calculated that the animals collectively would have produced more than 520 million tonnes of methane a year. This, they suggest, would have easily been enough to warm the planet.

Squirrely has his doubts:

The planet is very marginally able to support a few billions of 150 pound (plus or minus) human beings and Doctors Ruxton and Wilkinson tell us that there were billions of 90-ton reptiles roaming the planet during the Cretaceous. Seriously?

In the absence of actual humans, it’s standard procedure to bump up the Quality of Life numbers by a couple of orders of magnitude, inasmuch as Homo sapiens is pretty much defined as an evil little organism that won’t do what it’s told by its betters.

Me, I tend to be a bit less fatalistic: I give thanks to those 90-ton reptiles, whatever their number, every time I pass a Sinclair station.

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Dispatch from Ponyville

Far as I know, bronydom is not organized in the manner of, say, the Merry Marvel Marching Society, but I feel I’ve gone up a level just the same:

Facebook conversation between Twilight Sparkle and me

(Click for a Big Macintosh-sized version with actual context.)

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Reservations may be justified

Then again, if this won’t work in Florida, it won’t work anywhere:

When times get tough, the tough get naked. At least that’s what a Florida motel owner hopes, as he turns his 32-room property into a potential magnet for nudists.

The Fawlty Towers Motel in Cocoa Beach, Fla., is set to go clothing-optional May 1, after years of declining business and increasing competition from larger chain hotels, its owner told Florida Today.

There’s no chance the business went into a downward spiral because of its name, is there?

And yes, local laws still prevail:

Hodge’s nude guests, however, may still face criminal charges of indecent exposure if they set foot — or technically, their naked private body parts — outdoors.

If you’re going to grope a girl, have the gallantry to stay in the room with her while you’re doing it.

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Nerd-prom dressing

Tamron Hall at the White House Correspondents DinnerAfter Angelina Jolie’s right leg upstaged the rest of her at the Oscars — we made some vague reference to it here — for some reason I started noticing (or maybe just noticing more) women in the same general stance, not that anyone seeks to emulate La Jolie, or at least, I don’t think anyone does. That said, the combination of deep slits and the laws of physics must necessarily produce photos like this one of NBC News Babe (and MSNBC host) Tamron Hall, who attended the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in something else, and then later turned up wearing this to the network’s post-dinner party. I mean, it’s not like this was deliberate or anything.

Oh, wait:

Hall at first appeared demure, stopping to pose in a silk green gown.

All of the sudden, Hall whipped out her right leg and said “I’m going to pull an Angelina!” referencing actress Angelina Jolie’s infamous Oscar dress and leg pose from earlier this year.

Advantage: Hall, based on the following criteria: (1) that’s a really nifty dress; (2) she doesn’t seem to suffer from Jolie’s desperate need for a sandwich; (3) she’s five years older and I never would have known had I not looked it up just now.

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The June Consumer Reports has mostly kind words for the Mercedes-Benz ML350 they tested, awarding it 76 points out of a possible 100. (If you insist on buying your next sport-utility vehicle from der Vaterland, the Benz outscored the BMW X5 xDrive35i, or whatever the hell it’s called, by seven points.) To be properly Consumer Reports-y, they had to find some things to grumble about, and most of them are minor, but this one baffled the hell out of me: “The rear-view camera displays an image only when the radio is on.”

Now I admit to having driven only one car — an Infiniti G25, for one whole day — with a backup camera, and I wasn’t aware that it had one until I actually had to, um, back up, and the image flashed on the little rectangular screen at the top of the stack. And when it did, it overrode everything else on the display.

One is usually safe in assuming that any idiosyncrasies in a Mercedes are somehow safety-related: they want you alive to buy another one, after all. But I can’t figure this one for the life of me, unless they just cheaped out on a connection from the shift lever to the display screen.

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Life on Level 7

For those who may be curious, these are the sections of Yahoo! Answers I usually hit, and the lame questions I expect to find in each.

Under Cars & Transportation:

  • Buying & Selling: “I bought a car a week ago and it broke down. Can I sue?”
  • Car Makes: “Which is faster?”
  • Maintenance & Repairs: “Which fuse do I change to get my car to go? I shift the gears and nothing happens.”

Under Computers & Internet:

  • Programming & Design: “Could you tell me what’s wrong with my code — FAST?”
  • Other—Computers: “How do I get unbanned from [message board]?”
  • Internet/Other: “How long is the waiting list for Pinterest?”

Under Society & Culture:

  • Etiquette: “Is it ok to leave a turd in the punchbowl if it’s clean?”
  • Other: “How come [members of ethnic group] always act like that?”

You can see what I’m up against.

(Appearances in other sections are usually responses to keyword searches.)

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Strange search-engine queries (327)

The recipe for this Monday-morning breakfast feature: Select eight to 12 particularly silly search strings from the previous week’s system logs. Add snarky commentary as needed. Present around 7 am, give or take half an hour. Goes well with: cereal, sausage, that first desperately-needed cup of coffee. Does not go well with: dachshunds.

is it friday:  No. It’s Monday. Now move along.

a sedan anvil:  This attempt by Acme metallurgists to produce an anvil that could be carried by four men, thereby making it at least theoretically portable, failed when they couldn’t find four men who could carry it.

what does tote that barge mean:  Obviously asked by someone whose body has never been aching and/or wracked with pain.

what does it mean “i have scaled these city walls”:  I managed to climb up one side and down the other, only to be with you, and now my body is aching and wracked with pain.

Girls hunting with bow in undergarments:  How the bow got into their undergarments, they’ll never know.

zooeymania:  How we’re supposed to get into her undergarments, we’ll never know.

what is faith hill’s inseam measurement:  How generous of you to offer to make pants for her.

what looks nice with orange shoes:  Faith Hill in flared pants.

hell no button:  Something sorely lacking in most dialog boxes.

paranoia is good:  Which one of my enemies sent you here with that?

which vehicles have dip sticks:  At any random club on a Saturday night, probably all of them.

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Charged with compliance

Technologies notwithstanding, there are really only two types of electric cars: real cars, which the manufacturers hope to sell in mass quantities, and compliance cars, which the manufacturers hope will get California off their backs. Green Car Congress explains the difference:

We’d suggest that any plug-in car has to meet the following criteria before it can be considered real:

  • It’s sold outright to consumers, not only leased; and
  • It will sell at least 5,000 or more a year in the U.S. or reach total global sales of 20,000; and
  • It’s offered outside the “California emissions” states, or will be within 18 months

Any car that doesn’t meet those tests at a minimum isn’t a serious volume car; it’s either part of a test fleet or it exists just to comply with the [California zero-emissions vehicles] requirement.

The Nissan Leaf, for instance, has achieved Real status: it will sell in five figures this year in the US and can be had for purchase at pretty much any Nissan store you can name. Honda’s Fit EV, not so much:

Honda obligingly revealed that it would lease the Fit EV for $399 a month (on a base price of $36,625), but not offer it for sale.

And, it said, it plans to offer only 1,100 of them from 2012 through 2014, starting in California and Oregon this summer, expanding into six East Coast markets next year.

The very model of a modern for-compliance car.

(Via The Truth About Cars.)

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Final rolls

Reports of the death of East Coast session drummer Buddy Saltzman left me wondering how to give him a proper send-off. Saltzman is justly famed for his work with the Four Seasons, especially on the hyperpercussive “Dawn (Go Away),” where he’s all over the kit. And it’s Saltzman who was pressed into duty when Tom Wilson got the idea of turning Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” into a folk-rock number.

But the first thing that came to my mind is this wondrous bit of Shadow Morton-produced teenage angst, from Janis Ian’s first album:

“Janey’s Blues,” track 11, is a full album and 180 degrees away from “Society’s Child,” the hit on track 1; it starts out as gently as you’d expect from something released on Verve’s folky Forecast label, but as Janey’s story unfolds and the perfidy of both parental units is bared, the music escalates, until Artie Butler, representing Janey on the organ, seemingly flees to Wherever, Saltzman marking every step of the way with sheer ferocity. It’s listed with a playing time of “5:84″ in the original LP’s liner notes, which doesn’t matter, since you won’t be noticing.

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A mere factor of two

Kevin Drum does some vague noodling on energy matters:

[V]irtually every form of energy seems to be almost as efficient as burning oil, but not quite.

For example, on either a power/weight basis or a cost basis, batteries are maybe 2x or 3x bigger and less efficient than an internal combustion engine. Not 50x or 100x. Just barely less efficient. And you see the same thing in electricity generation. Depending on how you do the accounting, nuclear power is maybe about as efficient as an oil-fired plant, or maybe 2x or 3x less efficient. Ditto for solar. And for wind. And geothermal. And tidal power.

I’m just noodling vaguely here. Maybe there’s an obvious thermodynamic explanation that I’m missing.

Let’s give everything the benefit of the doubt and say that it’s a straight 2x across the board. (If we were being rigorous about the whole thing, we’d never say “2x less efficient”; we’d say “half as efficient,” which is at least as accurate and a lot less clumsy.) Now: based on six years’ experience with my current ride, I have determined that I can drive to and from work, one round trip, on one gallon of gas, which as of yesterday at the Shell station at 36th and Portland was $3.64. (V-Power, you damn betcha.) I will be the first to tell you that internal-combustion engines are not particularly efficient, for which there’s an obvious thermodynamic explanation. However, I cannot, and will not, feign any enthusiasm for any technology or policy which increases my costs to $7.28 or beyond.

Warren Meyer attempts to explain how Drum could come up with this sort of thing:

[I]n engineering, a 2-3x difference in most anything — strength, energy efficiency, whatever — is a really big deal. It’s the difference between 15 and 45 MPG. Perhaps this is Moore’s Law corrupting our intuition. We see electronic equipment becoming twice as powerful every 18 months, and we start to assume that 2x is not that much of a difference.

Our “energy policy,” and I use the term loosely, is seldom if ever left up to engineers: instead, the task is farmed out to policy wonks with a capacity for vague noodling and an enthusiasm for evangelizing beyond anything you’ll ever find in a young-earth creationist. I’m surprised the two groups haven’t combined their efforts yet: “It takes many thousands of years for organic matter to turn into oil, and, well, the Earth is barely six thousand years old. No wonder we have no oil.”

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Invasion of the Smaller Fry

I’ve already sent these up to Facebook, but the overlap between my readership there and my readership here is gratifyingly small, so I’ll put them up here as well.

Background: daughter Becky, her mom (my ex) and all three of her young’uns showed up on my doorstep, which gave me an opportunity to show how much better a photographer I am than any of them were.

Yeah, right. This came out well:

Where the girls are

Shot by me in my living room. But the ex shot this one in my driveway:

Hedging a bit

And she was so worried that it wouldn’t come out. Note le visage du canard on grumpy Gramps there.

Oh, and we hit Italia Express for lunch. Everyone was favorably impressed.

(Click-to-embiggen works; it will take you to Flickr.)

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