Is “hybrid” the new black?

What happened when Nancy Friedman asked about renting a hybrid car:

She: Oh, yeah. We have lots of hybrids. But not full hybrids.

Me: [silent, puzzled]

She: You know, they still need gas.

Me: [not sure I heard correctly] But … isn’t that what a hybrid car is? Gas and electric?

She: I mean, they’re hybrid but not completely electric.

Are there varying stages of hybridity out there? Not that I’m aware of, but then I’m often the last to know.

I wondered whether for her, and maybe for a whole cohort of younger drivers, “hybrid” had lost its original “combination-of-two-things” meaning and now signifies “less than 100 percent gas-powered.” Or, perhaps, just “nontraditional in some nonspecific way.”

I haven’t rented a car in about half a decade. Maybe next time I’ll wander into the storefront, point to something Mopar, and ask “That thing got a Hemione?”

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Fog at Clear Channel

There has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth regarding Reed Mullins’ departure from KTOK, and perhaps a bit less of it regarding the apparent conversion of KTST “The Twister” into an automated jukebox for some dayparts.

Lest you think this was a local phenomenon, however, you might want to check RadioInsight, which has been documenting scores of Clear Channel layoffs in markets major and minor — just within the last week.

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Do you need that much Stuf?

If you haven’t checked your Oreos lately, be advised that the Double Stuf variety falls short of its denomination:

Math teacher Dan Anderson, who runs the blog A Recursive Process, did the math for us.

He weighed 10 regular Oreos, 10 Double Stuf Oreos, 10 Mega Stuf Oreos and 5 wafers, then performed some basic calculations to determine the creme content of the aforementioned cookies.

Anderson discovered that the Double Stuf contains, not 2.0 units of Stuf, but a mere 1.86. And you should not be surprised to hear that the Mega Stuf doesn’t even qualify as a Deka Stuf.

Says Walter Olson at Overlawyered:

[W]ho would like to predict whether some law firm will file an intended class action over this problem within the next twelve months, on a scale where zero indicates “completely confident that there will not be such a lawsuit” and 10 indicates “completely confident that there will be”?

Put me down for 8.14 (which, incidentally, is 10 minus 1.86).

You know, we never had these problems with Hydrox.

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The screwing you’re getting

If we must tax things because of externalities, why aren’t we taxing sex?

If individual choices and behaviors should be taxed if they add to health care costs (a proposition [Kevin] Drum sees as so self-evident that Republicans are Neanderthals for opposing the idea), then why isn’t anyone suggesting a tax on sex? I can’t think of any discretionary behavior that has more implications for health care costs than sex. There’s contraception, abortion, STD’s, pre-natal care, birth, and at least 18 years of juvenile health care with no taxes being paid. Not to mention a new future Medicare recipient who, by current law, will pay in far less to the system than he or she will take out.

Then again, the most influential person of the second half of the 20th century might have been Hugh Hefner, since he (1) advised guys that casual sex was okay and (2) irritated enough women to help trigger a countermovement which demands that everything men get, women get, only more so. Copulation is the new national religion, and woe betide he (or, for that matter, she) who seeks to separate its churches from the State.

If we must have a new tax, let it be a tax on bullshit. The take from the 2014 mid-term campaign ads alone would pay off half the national debt.

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Not a girlmobile

Just when I think the vehicle/gender question has grown stale, somebody throws me a curve, and when that somebody is Jack Baruth, I listen. The car in question is the ’13 Dodge Charger in poorhouse SE trim, and it’s definitely for boys:

[T]here are a few of you out there who will love the Charger, as I do. Because it’s a road warrior, because the bones of it feel heavy, because you can throw the tail out on rainy city streets, because it looks like Mike Tyson in some sucker’s rearview mirror, because it’s a man’s car in an era where just writing “man’s car” in this review will upset some people and probably rightly so, I can’t apologize for how I was raised and what I believe. I suppose a woman could own and love it but she’d have to be a bad-ass herself, Anne Hathaway in a black leather outfit or that one girl from Sleater-Kinney who screams all the time. This Canadian automobile is meant to serve a declining number of traditional Americans, that cool dad who swears at dinner then winks at you and who owns Snap-On tools and who holds the door for old people and who has a preference between Ozzy and Dio. If you’ve ever seriously thought about font choice or identity politics for more than thirty seconds, this may not be the car for you. But if you want the toughest car twenty-seven grand can buy, if you want to know what it was like to open the throttle on a 360-powered Fifth Avenue in an era of ninety-horsepower Accords, step right up.

Powertrain: the newish Pentastar V6 (292 hp), the oldish Daimler 5G-Tronic autobox. Twenty-nine miles per gallon. And oh, my daughter could drive this thing. Then again, as she’ll readily admit, her lead foot extends upward to just below the knee.

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Know thine audience

Or at least don’t assume too much about them. I caught this banner last night on Equestria Daily:

Banner ad for Tractor Supply Co as seen on Equestria Daily

I can just see Rarity turning up her nose at such mundane morsels.

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Welcome to 403

Rather a lot of Yahoo! Answers users in the computer-related sections turn out to be people wanting to circumvent bans from forums — which were, of course, totally unjustified. The answer is always the same: get some sort of proxy to fudge your IP address.

And oh, prepare to go to jail for it:

Changing your IP address or using proxy servers to access public websites you’ve been forbidden to visit is a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), a judge ruled Friday in a case involving Craigslist and 3taps.

The legal issue is similar to one in the Aaron Swartz case, in which there was debate over whether Swartz “had committed an unauthorized access under the CFAA when he changed his IP address to circumvent IP address blocking imposed by system administrators trying to keep Swartz off the network,” law professor Orin Kerr wrote yesterday on the Volokh Conspiracy blog.

Word to the unwise: if you’re under the banhammer, assume you deserved it, and get another hobby. I suggest stamp collecting: while philately may get you nowhere, it also won’t land you in Hotel Greybar.

(Via this Adam Gurri tweet.)

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A worthy neologism

Scarcely a day goes by that I can’t find some use for this term:

Just imagine that emphasis is added on the appropriate word, because Twitter doesn’t know how.

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Meanwhile at the Student Union

Robert Stacy McCain picks up this year’s numbers from the Princeton Review:

Auburn University has the most conservative student body of any college in the nation, according to the Princeton Review’s annual rankings, released [Aug. 5]. In contrast, Bennington College in Vermont is the nation’s most liberal school, according to the study.

Rounding out the top ten most conservative schools for 2013 is Texas A&M, Grove City College, Hillsdale College, College of the Ozarks, University of Dallas, Thomas Aquinas College, the United States Military Academy (West Point), Hampden-Sydney College, and the United States Naval Academy (Annapolis).

The most liberal student bodies, according to Princeton Review, are Sarah Lawrence College (NY), Warren Wilson College, Bard College, Marlboro College, New College of Florida, Macalester College, College of the Atlantic, Vassar College, and Skidmore College.

Interestingly — at least to me (your mileage may vary) — two of those schools, one from each list, tried to recruit me while I was a high-school student in South Carolina. (Hint: Sarah Lawrence wasn’t one of them.)

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What have I done?

Too often, we assume that it’s Just Not Enough:

[T]here’s something very insidious about the idea, which you sometimes hear, that someone who isn’t famous or hasn’t amassed a lot of money or who hasn’t written books or stuff like that doesn’t matter. I know I have said to myself on occasion, “You’re wasting your life” when I think of people who were born in the same year as I was and who have done much more well-known things with their lives (directed movies, written books on Proust) or when I think of people who have devoted their all to the single purpose of research and, as a result, have more or better-known publications than I do.

And I need to stop it. Not just because being jealous of another person blinds you to the blessings you do have … but because I do have something to contribute. Even if it’s something small. Even if it’s just baking a batch of jam bars and standing by the punchbowl serving people punch.

When I was younger, I got a whole lot of “Some day you’re going to be Great,” often with a Tony the Tiger inflection, because I was allegedly smart as a whip and highly motivated. I’ve spent much of the rest of my life demonstrating otherwise. I have, however, done my part to sustain the species, having passed down the genes to two offspring of, if you ask me, entirely too much fecundity, and I have a teensy but genuine fan base. Small accomplishments, maybe; but if they haven’t gotten me into Wikipedia, well, they haven’t gotten me into The Smoking Gun either.

And this is worth repeating:

[Y]ou never do know where your influence will take other people… Maybe you don’t find a cure for cancer … but maybe you teach someone who becomes a doctor who helps people recover from cancer. Or someone who helps them cope with it emotionally…

I have no idea if I’ve been a particularly positive influence. I do, however, strive to avoid being a negative influence. The question of whether that’s enough is left as an exercise for the student.

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This ought to be Badenov

But this trick always works:

New Hampshire license plate Moose and Squirrel

(Found in this Elle Armageddon tweet.)

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Perhaps a trifle too fast

I am told that this is the artwork for Sara Evans’ yet-unreleased single “Slow Me Down,” due out after Labor Day:

Slow Me Down by Sara Evans

This is not, I hasten to add, the same song as Emmy Rossum’s “Slow Me Down,” released about six years ago. Apparently Sara debuted the song here:

And as long as we’re talking about six years ago or thereabouts, Sara’s management sent out this little standup thing to promote her for a Country Music Association award back then:

For your consideration for a CMA award

A copy of that little standup thing, at this writing, was for sale on eBay.

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Upon further examination

Did you ever go back and reread something you wrote several years ago? And if so, did you feel compelled to make excuses for so doing?

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Beneath the sneeze guard

In my younger days, I used to scoff at All You Can Eat deals: “They’ve never seen me eat.” I still wonder how they manage to survive:

I had wondered the same, but thought that the answer was pretty straightforward: restaurants have high fixed costs and lower marginal costs. Drinks at restaurants are usually bottomless, because once they have the fountain, it’s cheap to refill. This is less the case with food, but there’s still something to it. It’s one of the reasons that portion sizes tend to be so large and why “full” servings are such better values than “Half servings” much of the time. I suspect this is particularly the case at buffets, which often do not use the most expensive ingredients. So the goal is to simply get butts in seats and get them to shell out a certain amount of money.

And no, I can’t eat that much anymore. Just as well.

(See also “The Economics of All-You-Can-Eat Buffets.”)

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The last VW Microbus

After 56 years in production, the Volkswagen Type 2 / Kombi / Microbus is finally being phased out: one last run of 600 will be produced in Brazil, and then it fades into history, killed by safety regulations.

I learned to drive in one of these contraptions, fortysomething years ago, and while I’ll readily concede that one’s knees don’t provide a whole lot of crash protection, driving the living whee out of something incredibly slow is a bit more emotionally rewarding than owning something that will easily do somewhere in the high triple digits if you had some place to do them, which you don’t.

The venerable flat four has been enlarged over the years, to a whole 1.4 liters, and power is now up to 78 hp. The one and only gearbox is, as always, a four-speed manual. Oh, and there’s a radiator now. They’ve installed MP3 capability and that sort of thing; but you’ll have to supply your own shovels, rakes, and implements of destruction.

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Standing tall-ish

I admit up front that seeing My Little Pony: Equestria Girls was not a priority with me: I didn’t make the trek to Stillwater, the only place in the state where it actually played theatrically, and while I’d pre-ordered the DVD, which arrived last Tuesday, I didn’t watch it until the following Sunday. (Let it be said that this dawdling tactic is not at all unprecedented.) And besides, the basic premise and I did not get along: if I wanted to watch a cartoon about teenage girls, I’d go hunt up reruns of Daria or something.

That said, I must admit, the deponification of ponies went far better than I’d anticipated. I could argue that all these girls — and all but a couple of the boys — looked like they weren’t getting much for lunch, a cafeteria scene to the contrary notwithstanding, and besides, I’ve already seen Mean Girls; but for the most part, the story holds up, the characterizations make sense, and the songs, in MLP:FiM fashion, are ridiculously catchy, even the one I’d vowed to hate. (That would be, um, this one.) My inner 9-year-old girl pronounced herself pleased, though I was put off by a Bonus Item on the DVD in which some Hasbro suit in an Original Penguin shirt declared that they could just as easily do, say, My Little Flounder.

Ultimately, I have to say what I said on Twitter when I’d finished watching it:

It’s like coming home and finding someone painted the house: it looks wonderful, but it’s not something I wanted done.

Season Four, with actual ponies, starts in November. This will have to do for now.

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