Split that lane!

Well, maybe you shouldn’t, but maybe it shouldn’t be illegal either:

Lane-splitting, for the uninitiated, refers to the practice of going between cars when you’re on a motorcycle. It is legal here in California, and in not too many other places. I must admit that if I was on a motorcycle I’d probably not exploit this.

But here’s the justification, kinda sorta:

While this stupid suicidal practice remains legal, there is a layer of insulation separating California from the brink. It is the one way you can use your resourcefulness, and your drive, and your rugged individualism to get ahead of the crowd. It’s dangerous. California allows it and not too many other states do. We need more things like that, not fewer.

In 1988, when I made a perfunctory effort to become a resident of the Golden State, I was informed that on average, freeway traffic in and around L. A. moved at 33 mph. I quickly discovered that this figure was derived by averaging the speed during half the day, which was 66 mph, with the speed during the other half, which was zero. (Technically, this is not the correct mathematical approach, but work with me here.) I figured that no one felt the need to split a lane at 66, and it couldn’t possibly do any harm if the four-wheelers were sitting still.

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Expressing oneself

My younger sister, by a considerable margin, was the family hotshoe, and once upon a time she possessed the speediest production vehicle from these here United States:

In 1978 The Dodge Lil’ Red Express was the fastest American made vehicle from 0 to 100 MPH as tested by Car and Driver magazine.

Because of a loophole in the emissions regulations the 1978 Dodge Lil’ Red Express Trucks did not have catalytic converters, what the Lil’ Red Express did have was a special High Performance 360 C.I. 4-barrel small block engine code (EH1) which was a modified version of the 360 police engine (E58) producing 225 net horsepower @ 3800 RPM. The package also included Hemi style mufflers with a crossover pipe breathing through 2 chrome stacks located behind the cab, a special 727 transmission and 3.55:1 rear gearing.

I drove this thing a couple of times, and found it slightly intimidating. And nowadays 225 hp is no big deal; my semi-sedate sedan sports 227 ponies, albeit at a comparatively-stratospheric 6400 rpm, a couple of scratches below the redline. Still, I always wondered why Dodge didn’t revive this beast after we’d gotten through an energy crisis or two.

And maybe now is not the best time, but what the hell:

The new RAM 1500 Express [offers] a 390-hp HEMI, the coil-sprung platform which supposedly offers better dynamic qualities than the competition, and some youth-oriented features like 20-inch wheels, at an out-the-door price around $23,830.

Of course, that’s the price for the regular cab variant. It’s been a long time since that body style ruled the roost in pickupville. The RAM excuse, er, reason is that this truck is aimed at young people.

She’d have been 49 this summer. But I’d bet you a pair of Mopar valve covers she’d be on the waiting list for this truck.

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Dunham right

Some of you Fringe fans will recognize FBI agent Olivia Dunham, played by the lovely Anna Torv:

Anna Torv circa 2009

Some of you who are not Fringe fans will recognize Anna Torv from an earlier Rule 5-y post this week at the Rio Norte Line, which demonstrates, I suppose, that most people participating in this particular scheme are thinking faster than I am.

Torv has an unofficial and almost scarily-detailed fan site at annatorv.com.

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He’s no clown, that Charlie Brown

Peanuts, 25 percent off:

Charles Schulz’s Peanuts comics often conceal the existential despair of their world with a closing joke at the characters’ expense. With the last panel omitted, despair pervades all.

It’s scary how often this works, though I don’t see it being as life-changing as, say, Garfield Minus Garfield.

(Via Pop Culture Junk Mail.)

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No, you can’t have cereal

“Which seat can I take?” sounds trivial until you think about societies that insist on telling you where you can sit, ostensibly for your own good. Libertarian writer/editor Jeffrey Tucker weighs in on Rebecca Black’s “Friday”:

And where is she headed? To catch the official, tax-funded school bus, which, though it is not shown, we know is painted yellow today just as it has been from time immemorial since there is never really progress or change in the state-run system. The tax-fueled machine comes to your door to snatch you away from home, where you are loved and valued, in order to transport you to the cement structure that teaches you about the glory of fitting in and believing what you are supposed to believe.

But then the protagonist experiences a foreshadowing of the liberation at hand. Arriving before the school bus is a car with “my friends.” They are smiling and inviting her to join them on the ride. And it is in this context that she confronts that glorious institution that is otherwise denied to her and every student in government school: human choice.

Oh, and in case you missed the point:

A child-like dream of Friday and what it represents for kids trapped in public school, kids who are transported around on tax-funded buses and ordered around by tax-funded propagandists for the state, is a plausible allegory for the plight of all people imprisoned in state-controlled environments.

It’s no accident that there’s no Federal Department of Fun, and it wouldn’t be worth a darn if there were.

(Previous Rebecca Black coverage.)

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They may never know Y

One of the books I’m reading this week is Adam Carolla’s In Fifty Years We’ll All Be Chicks … And Other Complaints from an Angry Middle-Aged White Guy.

If Carolla is seeing things correctly, these guys are about forty-nine years ahead of their time.

(Via KingShamus.)

Addendum: Breda suggests an alternate title: “I don’t care how sensitive you think you are, you’re still not getting in my pants.”

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A very small man indeed

A true — and disturbing — story from Dawn Summers. Who knew hell was two and a half miles above the ground?

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The remains of several days

The 3-Word Commentary feature, which survived here for five years — this was its introduction — has fallen into desuetude, as most of the quick-and-dirty stuff it was intended to highlight seems to have migrated to Twitter.

Rather than delete the stuff, though, I’ve migrated it all to this post. Keep in mind that the oldest links by now may have rotted away to 404ness. And because this is very long, it’s below the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

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And of course the occasional cat macro

Andrea Harris, in a thread at Rand Simberg’s place, explains what the Internet is for:

Providing a place where big city liberals can pretend to reach out [to] the unsophisticated rubes, and get back some of that special feeling they lost when their meatspace experiences are always like this: “I ate at that new Syrian-Tongan fusion restaurant the other day. It was superb!” “Well, my eldest daughter, Fuchsia, came back from a year’s volunteer work in Lesotho with Doctors Without Borders. They tell me she was instrumental in saving three villages from an epidemic of beri-beri and typhoid! She’s in care now, but they tell me she’ll be able to walk again in a year, and will regain almost all movement in her right arm! On the other hand, Philip Junior’s cd of world music with the Fijian Deaf-Mute Choir just entered the charts at number 4!”

This is venturing perilously close to Family Christmas Card Updates.

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Beverage omitted

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Grudge rematch

After the Clippers thrashed the Thunder in Los Angeles Saturday night, you might have expected a certain urgency this evening. The first quarter, which ended with the Clips up 31-21, didn’t show a whole lot of it. OKC began battening it down, and worked their way to a twelve-point lead in the fourth quarter. But The Other L. A. Team always does well against the Thunder, and they put together a 10-2 run at the end, topped off with a Blake Griffin dunk, followed by some excellent harassment on the inbound. But it wouldn’t go beyond that, and Oklahoma City officially clinched the Northwest Division title with the 112-108 win.

I think by now we’ve learned that the Clips are a bit more than just Griffin’s backup squad. The Blakester did knock down 35 points, a game high, but five of his teammates broke into double figures, and Los Angeles shot just over 50 percent for the night. And if Griffin has perhaps too much ham in him — the man hangs on the rim like he’s glued there — he works his tail off. (And DeAndre Jordan, who normally doesn’t hang on the rim, lingered a bit too long once and got T’d up for it. Go figure.)

The Thunder offense, as usual, was mostly Kevin Durant (29 points) and Russell Westbrook (26); Serge Ibaka made it to 15. Meanwhile, Kendrick Perkins was pulling down 17 boards, 10 off the offensive glass. While OKC didn’t shoot especially well — 43 percent — they hit 25 of 29 freebies for 86 percent. If you pay attention to plus/minus, the Thunder bench was plus, and so was Westbrook, but everyone else was on the wrong side of the ledger.

So it’s a 2-2 split with the Clips this season. I get the feeling that they’re one season away from contending for a playoff slot — and that they always will be. For now, though, we have to sweat the second rematch of the week: against Denver, albeit here in the Quarter-Mile-High City, a friendlier milieu by far.

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Geographically incomprehensible

I am not fond of tech support via chat, which seems unbelievably slow at times, but at least it’s generally in something recognizable as English, and it’s usually possible to keep a transcript for future reference.

Besides, the alternative usually works out to being something like this:

I broke down and called my cable company’s technical support somewhere in New Delhi and as soon as “John” picked up I cried a little inside because I could barely understand him. Seriously, it was that bad. I kept saying “WHAT?” then “YES” loudly because I could only understand like every fifth word and when I can’t understand someone I usually just agree with them like an idiot. So, either someone is coming to replace my modem later today, or I accepted a proposal and I need to fly out this afternoon to India. I’m not sure.

Then again, the next-to-last time I called tech support for an office product, I wound up connected to a cheerful Scottish lass. I was sufficiently giddy to contemplate a proposal of my own, but managed to recover in time to avoid embarrassment.

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Your mom might not wear these

“Granny sandals,” they say:

The Sherry by Worishofer

“Am I stylish or simply a Sasquatch?” asked the not-all-that-old woman who actually bought these. The former, of course:

[W]hile most young European trendsetters still shun the shoes, Americans have taken to the Wörishofer. According to Bernie Richfield, the national sales manager at Laurevan Shoes, the only Wörishofer wholesaler in the United States, the sandals have exploded in popularity among the under-40 set. The president of Buddy’s Shoes Inc., John “Buddy” Banyas, says that he’s tripled his sales since 2009, and he attributes this jump to the brand’s popularity among young women.

Ms Not-A-Sasquatch indeed bought hers from Buddy’s. And apparently younger buyers are thinking more gin-and-tonic than Geritol:

[A] 25-year-old can wear an orthopedic sandal without fearing that she looks like she’s preparing for the nursing home, while the same shoe might cause a 50-year-old some consternation.

Besides, there’s a lot to be said for not being in pain.

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And then there was one

Last man standing in the Ward 2 runoff was Dr Edward Shadid, who will now take his position around the horseshoe at City Hall. I congratulate Dr Shadid, and I trust he will be as accessible as his predecessor, Sam Bowman, who was always willing to take a question, even from the likes of me.

About five thousand votes were cast in the runoff. (Approximate population of Ward 2: 70,000.) Remarkably, something like $200,000 was spent on getting to this $12,000-a-year position. Which, I guess, means we’ve reached the big time in terms of campaign spending.

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Baddest bird in the whole damn town

Lisa recounts the Legend of the Phantom Chicken of Sonoma, and even has pictures of the mysterious bird:

[F]or the past month or so, I’ve been fretting about a rooster who seems to have been abandoned in some wild land across the road from our back pasture. This is an area that, unfortunately, has been used for a long time for dumping, for teen partying and other nefarious activities. It’s also an area overrun with foxes and coyotes — who are so bold as to come out and sit there staring across at the terriers behind the fence. So, when I heard a rooster crowing from over in that area, I immediately assumed that he’d last about a day and a night before being torn apart by wild canids.

He lasted a day and a night and several weeks more. Clearly his sense of timing is nonstandard:

Instead of crowing at dawn, he crowed continuously day and night. Since chickens are flock animals, I assumed he was desperately calling for his hens. To dump off a rooster in the wilds like this is tantamount to sentencing him to solitary in Guantanamo. Except solitary confinement would come with the added danger of evisceration by wild animals. I began cursing the creep who couldn’t find a new home for the poor avian — or at least give him a merciful and meaningful end as Coq au Vin.

Still, he’s avoided that evisceration for a month now. For all we know, the Phantom Chicken may be the avian equivalent of The Shadow, clouding the minds of predators. Or maybe it’s just that coyotes have become leery of unusual birds after all these years.

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It’ll take time, I know it

Goldmine’s annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame issue duly profiles this year’s inductees, and then spends three pages arguing that Donovan ought to have been among them.

It is undoubtedly true that Donovan turned out some transcendent records, though “Mellow Yellow” really isn’t one of them. And the article trots out the old myth about three-quarters of Led Zeppelin playing on “Hurdy Gurdy Man.” John Paul Jones, who was there, and who, in his capacity as arranger for producer Mickie Most, had actually hired the session musicians, begs to differ.

Still, the man did have a unique vision, broad enough to include the wispiest folk and the jangliest blues-rock. (For a sample of the latter, see “Barabajagal,” which he cut with the Jeff Beck Group.) And if he occasionally veered off into the twee — or, in the case of “The Intergalactic Laxative,” the pee — well, his influence remains considerable, even if you don’t count being Diane Court’s dad.

So one of these days, the call will come in from Cleveland: “Good morning, Mr Leitch, are you having a busy day?” Heck, they might even get around to Rush. Or Paul Revere and the Raiders.

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