Flashers everywhere

Rear-mounted turn signals in the States can be amber or red, at the discretion of the automaker. I’ve always leaned toward amber, mostly because, well, there are enough red lights back there already, but while my current ride (which has amber lights) was in the shop, I noticed that the car they lent me for two days had the red ones.

I’m not sure that this matters a whole lot. A 2009 NHTSA study of vehicles that had switched from one color to the other [pdf] suggests that amber is a tad better at reducing rear-end collisions, although it seems to me that this data will inevitably be skewed by the fact that generally you have to slow down to make a turn, and brake lights are always red.

And this presents another question: is it better to have a colorless bulb and an amber lens, or an amber bulb and a colorless lens? (I have the latter.)

Outside North America, the turn signals are always amber, which tends to suggest that Detroit likes red because it costs less. I don’t know about that, though it seems that you can’t actually get red bulbs: it’s always a colorless bulb behind a red lens.

Do you have a preference one way or another? If so, why?

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Groomed to perfection, sort of

Complaints about “fake” pop stars go back at least half a century, though the Frankies and Bobbys of the era did have one thing going for them: actual corporeal existence. Japanese singer Aimi Eguchi, not so much:

AKB48 is an all-female “idol” group — one of many comprising nubile young women who are idolised by Japanese geeks mainly because of their flawless looks.

Earlier this month Aimi Eguchi was announced as the newest member. ChannelNewsAsia reported that Eguchi received reams of publicity “because of her flawless looks and her uncanny resemblance to other AKB48 members”.

That uncanny resemblance, it turns out, is due to the fact that Eguchi is nothing more than a computer composite of half a dozen other group members, given virtual life via CGI.

Aimi Eguchi hawking candy

AKB48 hardly needs virtual members — last I looked, there were 58 girls in the group — and it’s not like J-pop isn’t highly artificial in the first place. Still, this is the sort of thing that happens when a style becomes an Industry. And while I admit to a certain fondness for this brand of ear candy, I’d still rather listen to, say, Shonen Knife.

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Let’s drive over for a free lunch

Nobody was particularly happy with GM CEO Dan Akerson’s call for a higher gas tax, especially since he couched it in decidedly self-serving terms: “We ought to just slap a 50-cent or a dollar tax on a gallon of gas. People will start buying more Cruzes and less Suburbans.”

This is, of course, a crock, and I told you so in Vent #729. This doesn’t mean, however, that the gas tax is fine where it is, thank you very much: at some point, it’s going to have to go up, simply because the Highway Trust Fund, where all those 18.4-cent imposts end up, is severely depleted, and as I said at the time, “Adding a few cents to the gas tax is a much more sensible approach than monitoring everyone’s mileage via GPS and charging them accordingly.”

TTAC’s Ed Niedermeyer conveys a bit more urgency:

Though in many ways a more fair system than a gas tax alone (as it apportions costs based on use of the infrastructure, without filtering it through the efficiency level of each individual car), the [Vehicle Miles Traveled] tax scheme is an Orwellian nightmare waiting to happen. Though privacy is not at the height of its popularity at the moment, those who oppose any increase in the gas tax would do well to consider the implications of this alternative (Who does the data belong to? Will law enforcement get access? Will others be able to track you by piggy-backing onto the system?), especially since no other alternative is even being seriously considered.

To put it bluntly, says Niedermeyer, “If we don’t pay for our gas with more money, we will do so with our privacy.”

And he has some words for Lieutenant Dan at GM:

Corporate leaders like Akerson who claim the policy is in their best interests need to stop throwing up their hands at the political challenge and start putting their money where their mouth is.

Glenn Beck, meanwhile, needs to stop throwing up, period.

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No warranty is given or implied

Men, we are told, live in paralyzing fear of getting involved with The Wrong Woman™, as though Big Brother might be keeping her in Room 101, just waiting for you to show up. At least part of this, suggests Robert Stacy McCain, is that the emptors just aren’t caveat-ing enough:

Everybody knows some unfortunate guy who is bitter about his ex-wife, but even after hearing the detailed (and often quite justifiable) complaints of these guys, it is sometimes a struggle to resist responding, “Yeah, but nobody forced you to marry that crazy two-timing evil vindictive bitch, did they?”

We will set aside, for the moment, the possibility of shotguns having been involved.

Now I am not bitter about my ex-wife, and I’m pretty sure she’s happier with Spouse #3. (Spouse #2 was given his walking papers after revealing that his primary goal in life was controlling the US balance of trade, to the extent that it was affected by the importation of Peruvian marching powder, and is now deceased; beyond that, I can say only that he had, um, a certain not-precisely-visceral appeal, or so I am given to understand.) Two-timing simply wasn’t on her agenda; one-timing was tricky enough. But enough about that.

And, in McCain’s words, it’s a freely-chosen transaction:

The FDA does not require a surgeon general’s warning label on crazy two-timing evil vindictive bitches. (“CAUTION: Her Butt May Look Kinda Cute in Cutoff Jeans, But She’s a Cruel Selfish Whore Who Will Make Your Life a Living Hell Some Day.”) It is up to the individual to avoid these hazards, and your failure to heed the warning signs does not make you a victim.

Then again, there’s a lot to be said for the Lewis Grizzard approach: “I don’t think I’ll get married again. I’ll just find a woman I don’t like and give her a house.”

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How badly do you want this?

If life often seems to be an endless series of trade-offs, that’s because it is:

Last night, I really, really craved ice cream. I don’t have any in the house, but I could easily have obtained it with a ride to the corner store that would have taken less than a minute. However, that would have necessitated me locating my bra, putting it back on, and actually leaving the house, getting into the car and driving. I ate watermelon instead. I’m not sure if big boobs just saved me from gaining a pound, or if I should further develop the idea as a new diet. I can see it as a headline on a supermarket rag tabloid: “Sloth Leads to Better Food Choices”.

To me, this sounds like a good argument for, you guessed it, watermelon ice cream.

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Hiding in plain sight, as it were

Also known as Carmella SaldanaThis photograph was used to illustrate a story in yesterday’s Oklahoman; the person portrayed therein was charged with felony abuse and neglect by a caretaker, a refiling of a 2010 charge that was dismissed over “witness scheduling conflicts.” (Adult Protective Services director Barbara Kidder says there were over 17,000 abuse reports last year, the most APS has ever seen, though the state apparently does not track actual deaths of abused adults.)

Ms Saldana, one must conclude, was relatively easy to find; it’s not like she’s been living somewhere under an assumed name.

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Drizzle is not an unusual phenomenon, so seeing it in Andrew Ian Dodge’s “while it drizzles” title on the 427th Carnival of the Vanities, I thought, might make my obligatory semi-deft reference to the number a whole lot easier.

Not so. Drizzle is so ordinary, in fact, that nothing about it makes it sufficiently noteworthy to make the history books. I looked up the ill-fated USAir Flight 427, which crashed just outside of Pittsburgh in 1994, but apparently drizzle did not contribute to the rudder failure that took down the plane.

I can tell you, though, from a blog entry this past spring, that there was plenty of drizzle in Janesville, Wisconsin on 4/27.

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Let there be cake

Birthday greetings to some of the musical greats of the rock era that was: Jeff Beck (67 on the 24th of June), Arthur “I Am the God of Hellfire” Brown (likewise 67), Colin Blunstone of the Zombies (66), Mick Fleetwood (64), Patrick Moraz (63).

None of them are cute enough for a Rule 5 picture, though, so here’s a shot of Petra Němcová (32), from her campaign for lingerie manufacturer La Senza, circa 2007:

Petra Nemcova in La Senza

Perhaps you can hear music playing?

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Many Fridays ago

Rebecca Black turned 14 this week and marked her third month eighth year in showbiz.

Ya, rly:

Darn near the same hairdo, too.

(Source: Who else?)

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What’s forever for?

The argument against Everything Digital goes something like this: you can pretty well figure out what a book is, and after inspection, you should be able to determine that a phonograph record contains a representation of sound — an “analogue,” if you will. In the year 9595, or whenever, the civilization that drops in to view the ruin of ours would have no trouble identifying those two artifacts. But show them a DVD, and in the absence of a working player, they’ll think “poorly-made saucer.”

My kindly Web host has a backup-storage offering called Files Forever. It appears that the name was entirely too ambitious:

Unfortunately we have some lost some files hosted within the file forever server. We have tried to recover as many files as possible however some have been permanently lost.

Nothing like a bit of hubris to bring on Nemesis.

(Title snatched from Rafe Van Hoy.)

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They like their java waxy

“Java Waxy,” surprisingly, is not a Starbucks rival financed by Madame Tussaud, but the color of this here Dansko sandal:

Serena by Dansko

“Serena” is dearly loved by Zappos customers — 75 percent of respondents to their survey gave it five stars out of five — and by at least one Facebook friend, which is why it’s here. The other colors are equally Waxy: black, brandy, chino, sangria and turquoise. The heel doesn’t quite look 2¼ inches tall, which I attribute to the judicious shaping of the one-inch-high platform. And no, that’s not real wood. Zappos sells this for $115, maybe: some of the colors cost less than others. (The sangria version right now is a mere $89.)

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Now with 20 percent less blur

I’m not sure how I should feel about this:

Ford will bold and thicken characters on many interior controls across its lineup beginning with the Ford Edge and Ford Explorer next year, making it easier for people of all ages, particularly aging Baby Boomers, to read display fonts.

The letters and numbers that form words and convey other information on the center stack display on the next-generation vehicles will be slightly thicker, with an approximately 40 percent wider stroke width.

First thought: “They think of this after they kill off the Lincoln Town Car?”

Here’s what I’m up against in an eleven-year-old car: utterly lovely backlit gauges, adjustable with the usual rheostat when the lights are on. High noon, you can still see the dials, but the odometer (little green rectangle, six LCD digits on each row) washes out at almost any angle. Nissan fixed this in later models by going to an orange background, though the G25 I buzzed around town earlier this week had cyan-on-black, and I couldn’t tell you if that was the standard or if it was changeable in the six or seven dozen menu items on the stack screen. (In a borrowed car, I set the A/C temperature, the radio, and things related to the seat position; everything else I leave alone.)

Incidentally, in the initial production run for the second-generation I30, there was a separate rheostat for adjusting the backlighting during the daytime; it was stripped out before they got around to building my car. (On the other hand, about the same time, they added side air bags.)

As to whether Ford was unusually deficient in matters of this sort, I couldn’t tell you; I haven’t driven a Ford lately.

(Swiped from American Digest.)

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You’d think I’d find this more helpful

Studliness, apparently, is not as advantageous as we’ve been led to believe:

Attractive men don’t make the best husbands, according to researchers. Guys who are rated as the most masculine — a billboard for a man’s good genes — tend to have more testosterone, and men with higher testosterone levels are 43 percent more likely to get divorced than men with normal levels, 31 percent more likely to split because of marital problems and 38 percent more likely to cheat. In other words, they may be better cads than dads.

We’d be smarter if we sought out guys who are uglier than we are because researchers have found that couples in which the woman is hotter than the guy are happier than if the situation is reversed.

As a solid 3.5 on the traditional 1-10 scale (up from 2.75 a few years back), I suppose I should be grateful for all those 4s through 9s lined up on my porch none deep.

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The linguists are becoming more cunning

This cat can evidently speak fluent dog — so long as those pesky bipeds aren’t watching:

I’ll worry when it starts ordering stuff by phone from QVC.

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This is why we can’t have nice landlines

A company that actually values your business will not call you six times a week for three goddamn months trying to sell you more stuff.

Yes, Always Trying & Trying, I’m looking at you. I don’t want to go through the hassle of rewiring my security system, but everything has its price, and I’m coming very close to reaching “I no longer have any of your services, please perish in a vat of acid, and don’t even think about calling here again.”

For the benefit of Googlers and such: the offending number each time of late has been 936-671-7869. If they ring you for anything, feel free to tell them to go fart up a flagpole — or simply put them on Permanent Farging Ignore.

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Didn’t try the heater

One of the motivations for scheduling Gwendolyn’s spa day(s) was the seeming inability of the A/C to deal with 100-degree days on anything resembling a consistent basis. As it turned out, the A/C was in decent shape, but one of the engine-cooling fans was hors de combat, which doesn’t make life any easier for the compressor.

I should probably quit whining about it, though, given the plight of this fellow:

I brought a new car — Nissan Sunny — if the outside temperature reaches 45 deg centigrade, A/C not working, compressor trips. How to solve? any technical answer?

Before you ask: 45°C is 113°F. And oh, yes, he lives in Qatar.

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