French neoclassical

Evgenia Peretz writes in the December Vanity Fair:

In [François] Hollande’s quest for the presidency, a certain woman would come into his life who would prove very useful: one Valérie Trierweiler, a young, drop-dead gorgeous reporter from Paris Match who had been assigned to cover the Socialists… Her icy, Hitchcock-heroine looks were useful currency.

V.F. provided one photo in which Trierweiler did not look much like a Hitchcock heroine to me, so I Binged my way through a stack of news photos and came up with this Reuters picture:

Valérie Trierweiler

Joan Fontaine in Suspicion, maybe.

Trierweiler’s detractors call her “Rottweiler,” perhaps a nod to her perceived ferocity. She was apparently seeing Hollande in early 2006, while she was still married and while Hollande was still living with Ségolène Royal. Royal managed to keep her split with Hollande under wraps until after the 2007 presidential election, which she lost to Nicolas Sarkozy. (Royal would run again in 2011, but she finished fourth in the Socialist primary, far behind Hollande.) Trierweiler didn’t make a public announcement of the relationship until after her divorce became final in 2010, presumably for legal reasons. She and Hollande have announced no plans to wed, and she’s kept her Paris Match gig.

Feel free to complain about that word “young.” At forty-seven, she’s young compared to me, anyway. (And in case you wondered, Hollande is about nine months younger than I.)

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Here stay the judge

If you looked at my Ballot Picks in Vent #795, you will note that four judges of the state Supreme Court, running on a retention ballot, are conspicuous by their absence. This is consistent with my practice of long standing:

Once in a while an interest group will try to stir up opposition to a judge who has issued a ruling unfavorable to them, but seldom does it make any difference: judges are routinely returned to office with about a 2-1 majority. Before I took up the mantle of Sort of Political Blogger, my own rule of thumb was to vote against anyone I’d ever heard of, on the basis that if the judge had somehow gotten into the news, it likely wouldn’t have been good news.

Meanwhile, there’s no State Question 761 this year, as I explained already:

SQ 761 … “would define ‘person’ under the Constitution as any human being from the beginning of the biological development to natural death.” An initiative promoted by Daniel Skirbitz, head of the group Personhood Oklahoma, it was rejected by the state Supreme Court for conflict with Planned Parenthood of Southeast Pennsylvania v. Casey.

Comes now a robocall in which an individual identifying himself as a pastor notes said rejection, points out that the wicked ACLU is pleased by that rejection, and recommends that those four judges, as punishment, not be retained. He didn’t have time in those thirty seconds to mention the fact that SCOTUS declined to hear an appeal.

This is only the second mention of the retention ballot I’ve encountered this year, the first being a half-page ad for retention that ran in The City Sentinel and presumably other papers, paid for by a group called “Yes for Fair and Impartial Judges,” with an office in the Oil Center building on the Northwest Distressway. Patrick McGuigan has seen more, including a clumsy effort by John Miley of the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission — and by “clumsy,” I mean that he was enough of a klutz to use his state-assigned email address — to drum up support for the four judges, presumably because he’s married to one of them. Miley argued that it’s a nonpartisan ballot, therefore his actions were nonpolitical. If anyone deserves to be denied retention, it’s Miley, but of course he’s not on a ballot.

For the record, the judges seeking retention: Noma Gurich, Yvonne Kauger. Doug Combs and James Edmondson.

And if you’re not in Oklahoma but in Indiana, you might consider this.

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From both sides now, as it were

Sony was quick to assure its UK customers that this French ad for the new PS Vita would not be running in sanitary British media:

Ad for Sony PS Vita featuring woman with four breasts

“Twice the tactile faces, twice the sensations,” indeed. And you can be absolutely certain this won’t run in the States either. Me, I’m just thinking about the possibilities for slow dancing.

Meanwhile, Eccentrica Gallumbits was not available for comment.

(Via Fark.)

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Refusing information

I have always been a big advocate of RTFM. However, there are entirely too many instances of TM not being worth an F, and this is one of them. Vehicle in question: Volkswagen Passat. Information sought: location of fuse panel. Result:

Due to ongoing development of the vehicle, configuration-dependent allocation of fuses and the combined fuse protection of multiple loads with one fuse, an up-to-date overview of the fuse location per load is not possible at the time of printing.

They do tell you to find out “why the fuse blew and correct the problem before replacing a blown fuse,” but obviously you’re not going to replace that fuse if you don’t know where the heck it is. Is this a ploy to get you into a VW dealership? What do you think?

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Still not a flying car, though

It was five years ago that Honda started taking orders for the HondaJet plane, and after a protracted period of gestation, the production line has now been started at Honda Aircraft in Greensboro, North Carolina.

The HondaJet has two GE/Honda HF120 turbofan engines, mounted on top of the wings. Cruising and top speed are 483 mph; fuel range exceeds 1600 miles. The one thing we don’t know is the delivery date, which has obviously slipped a bit. Anticipated sales: 70-100 per year.

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Rose City plucked

If you remember last year’s Trail Blazers, as Scott Brooks surely does, you might figure that neutralizing Nicolas Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge would be enough to secure a win. And you’d be almost correct: Wesley Matthews and Damian Lillard did good work on the wing, though Matthews faltered in the second half, and the Thunder really didn’t put this one away until the fourth quarter, when Portland’s barrage of treys — they put up 26 of them — started failing to connect. OKC 106, Portland 92, and suddenly things look a lot nicer than they did last night in San Antonio.

Aldridge didn’t stay neutralized — he finished with 22 points and 15 rebounds — but he shot 8-22, which is actually right about the team average (36 percent) for the night. And after hitting seven of ten for distance, the Blazers went 2-16 from beyond the arc for the rest of the night. Batum was held to three points; J. J. Hickson, in the middle, put together a double-double with 14 points and 12 boards. Radio guy Matt Pinto said early on that this wasn’t an especially deep team, and the meager 15 points contributed by the bench corroborates that assessment. (And the return of the Telltale Statistic: Portland blocked exactly zero shots tonight.)

Meanwhile, OKC got major bench production from Kevin Martin (19 points) and Nick Collison (12), and rookie Jeremy Lamb, brought in for garbage time, promptly sank a 27-footer for his first three NBA points. Up front, Kevin Durant flirted with a career high, but just missed: he had 17 rebounds to go with 23 points. And we got to see the Good Russell Westbrook tonight: 13-24 from the floor for 32 points. Downside: Kendrick Perkins went down late in the fourth and did not return, and the nature of his ailment was not immediately disclosed.

Next up: Eastern Conference teams. The Hawks will be here Sunday, the Raptors Tuesday, followed by a trip to Chicago Thursday and a home game against Detroit on Friday.

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Terminal jerks

What do these anonymous-sounding firms have in common?

  • Treasure Your Success
  • Ambrosia Web Design
  • A+ Financial Center, LLC
  • The Green Savers
  • Key One Solutions, LLC

Answer: according to the Federal Trade Commission, the infamous “Rachel from Cardholder Services” and her clones work at these joints, and this is the bill of particulars:

All five companies are charged with making misrepresentations to consumers, along with multiple violations of the Telemarketing Sales Rule for misrepresenting their services, making illegal robocalls, calling numbers on the Do Not Call Registry, and collecting up-front fees.

We have been told that for legal purposes, corporations are the equivalent of persons. Fine. Let these five get the death penalty, and let their owners be fed to New York City rats, who I understand have been a little antsy of late.

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Dead lines

I’d already decided that I wasn’t doing National Novel Writing Month this year, and now I have something resembling an excuse:

3,000 words a day, I figured, accounting for holidays and so forth. Easy enough.

And then day five hit and I didn’t have any ideas left. It was an ugly month, and ended, on November 30th at 11:50 p.m., with my mom and dad pacing back and forth in the dining room while I frantically pulled words out of the air and pounded them into the laptop, hoping that the internet wifi would hold and allow me to upload my novel for the official word count.

I’d consider myself fortunate to have any ideas left after day three. And before you bring up my 40,000-plus words of pony tales, 95 percent of which constitute a single continuous narrative, please remember that (1) writing that took two months and (2) I technically had to make up only one character.

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Here we are now, come and drown us

Roger reports from Albany, 150 miles inland, that the MegaGigaSuperStorm delivered less than a glancing blow:

[W]e got a little wind and a little rain, but nothing substantial. They closed our public schools in the city for two days due to an abundance of caution; the new superintendent is from New Jersey and I think she was taking her lead from the mayor, who had proclaimed a state of emergency for a day or more.

So yay for that. And a very loud boo for these people:

And because it wasn’t a big weather event HERE, I’ve heard people calling it a “dud”, that they were “cheated”, which frankly ENRAGED me. (I referred to such people as “idiots” on Facebook; maybe I should stay off Facebook. Someone else called them “callous douchebags”, which I suppose is worse.)

There are always reasons to stay off Facebook, but the need to denounce idiots and/or callous douchebags perhaps overrides those reasons.

In the meantime, I recommend that such individuals be parachuted into the very center of the next MegaGigaHyperSuperStorm, that they may reach the Nirvana they desire.

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Not an endorsement per se

NPR reporter Ari Shapiro tweets live from the Mitt Romney bus:

It is not yet 7 am, and Rebecca Black’s “Friday” is blasting through the Romney bus. FOR THE LAST TIME.

Which, of course, suggests that it’s happened before.

I keep telling you: permanent feature of the culture. And even if Mitt Romney disappears into the abyss after Tuesday, we’ll still have Rebecca Black.

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Coming up empty

Based on last season, it might have been reasonable to expect the Spurs and the Thunder to be rattling the heck out of the scoreboard. Surely I wasn’t anticipating an 86-84 grinder with fifteen lead changes; but that’s what we got, with Tony Parker floating a trey at the 28-second mark to tie it up, and then popping a jumper right at the buzzer to give San Antonio the win.

Of course, what everybody wanted to know tonight was “How well does Kevin Martin play the role made famous by James Harden?” The answer, at least for this evening, is “Not bad at all”: 15 points, five assists, and only one turnover. In fact, K-Mart was +6 for the night, higher than anyone else on the team. Still, the Thunder shot only 38 percent for the night and turned the ball over 18 times, and not even a Kevin Durant double-double (23 points, 14 rebounds) and darn near from Russell Westbrook (18 points, eight rebounds, five assists) would push OKC over the top. Still, that 70-footer by Eric Maynor at the third-quarter horn was pretty, wasn’t it?

The Spurs landed five in double figures, led by the iron horse Tim Duncan, who at the age of 92 (or whatever) still can get 20 points and eight boards in 34 minutes. Parker was no slouch either, with 14 points and 11 dimes. And somehow Pop got 35 good minutes out of Boris freaking Diaw, with ten points, seven boards, and a game-high +11. It must be in the water down there or something.

So 82-0 is out. And 0-1 will last for only one night; tomorrow the Thunder return home, and the perhaps-improved Trail Blazers will be waiting for them. I’m not even going to make a prediction, despite the fact that Portland has already beaten the Lakers. (As Tramel said this morning, both Kobe and Steve Nash are over the hill, having been born in the Seventies, fercryingoutloud. Thanks for nothing, Berry.)

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A multi-limbic system?

A curious artifact from the Sixties, with a surprisingly enduring image:

Berkshire hosiery ad from the late 1960s

This is not the Lakshmi I remember. (And ethnic stereotypes die hard, if they die at all.)

This Berkshire, still in business today, is not related to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate.

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Guide for the indifferent voter

Or, as Doris Day never said, my secret ballot’s no secret anymore.

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Tastes great, less filly

It’s all in how you look at it:

I’m doing my interpretation of the DASH diet (“Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension”) — lots of fruits and Rainbow Dashvegetables, low salt, careful amounts of lean protein, moderate amounts of whole grain, limit sugars and less-healthy fats. But I’m thinking of it as the “Rainbow Dash diet” instead. Because that amuses me a lot more. And most of the stuff I eat (oats, vegetables, sweet potatoes, stuff like apples) is probably stuff Rainbow Dash would eat. And it makes me feel better about “diet” to think of it as “Rainbow Dash diet.” Brains are funny things.

If it helps, it helps. (Though not even Otis Spunkmeyer, I suspect, would recommend a Derpy diet.)

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And I was griping about the tinworm

Morgan, the UK’s largest independent automaker — they sold about a thousand cars last year — is under attack:

Morgan’s wood-framed sports cars are facing an existential threat: a species of fungus that infects ash trees, which are the source of wood used on Morgan’s legendary sports cars.

Ash has been used for over a century, but the situation could necessitate a switch to other kinds of wood. Ash dieback, as the disease is known, has been ravaging ash trees in the UK, and usually kills 90 percent of trees that become infected.

The fungus in question is Chalara fraxinea. Symptoms:

Initially, small necrotic spots (without exudate) appear on stems and branches. These necrotic lesions then enlarge resulting in wilting, dieback of branches and particularly in the death of the top of the crown. The disease is often chronic but can be lethal. It is particularly destructive of young ash plants, killing them within one growing season of symptoms becoming visible. Older trees can survive initial attacks, but tend to succumb eventually after several seasons of infection.

And there’s no point in chopping down the afflicted trees, either:

The infective material is all on the forest floor and cannot be removed or eradicated with fungicides without destroying countless other forms of forest life.

This stuff evidently sleeps even less than rust. Fortunately, Morgan doesn’t seem to be worried. Yet.

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The world today in a nutshell

Despair mode ON:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Is there any website that gives free stuff without doing anything?

Ladies and gentlemen, a Member of the Future (and possibly the Present) Electorate.

We are well and truly doomed.

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