Doesn’t sound like Germans to me

Rob O’Hara meets up with the Anti-Destination League:

Twice this week I’ve ended up stuck on I-270.

Not a road I’ve ever spent any substantial time on, I admit.

It always starts well. The ride from where I’m staying to Germantown isn’t bad, but that’s where the problems begin. The people of Germantown have a propensity to pull on to the Interstate and just park. Seriously, that’s what it looks like. (The part where it goes from four lanes to two doesn’t help, either.) There are only a few exits to Germantown, but I sat stationary for almost 20 minutes.

And while you’re not moving there are plenty of signs to look at, like the ones that say “Trucks: No Changing Lanes”. Trust me, trucks are not changing lanes. Just like the rest of us, they’re not moving side-to-side (or forward for that matter).

And because there’s always a punchline:

Then there’s the speed limit sign that warns you about speeding. “Speed Limit: 65mph. Your Speed: 7mph.”

Geez. What’s Montgomery County going to do for revenue?

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Quote of the week

Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert, possibly expressing dismay at The Twilight Saga: New Moon, released this month:

The movie includes beauteous fields filled with potted flowers apparently buried hours before by the grounds crew, and nobody not clued in on the plot. Since they know it all and we know all, sitting through this experience is like driving a pickup in low gear though a sullen sea of Brylcreem.

Ebert gives the film, in lieu of stars, a little dab.

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Plan 2 from Bentonville

You have to figure that there has to be something bothering retail management besides them bad ol’ unions, and sure enough, there is:

One of the videos during “Orientation” concerned that litigious devil, “Sexual Harassment.”

Did you know that just by having a vagina, all you females out there are guilty of sexual harassment? Did you know that you males of the species, just by continuing to breathe, are equally as guilty? Did you know the Pope himself is guilty on a daily basis of it as well? Did you know that by using the pronoun “him” to speak of the Pope in the previous sentence I am sexually harassing you?

Do you feel the need to smoke a post-coital cigarette or have a nap now? Then my work here is done.

If you aspire not to talk to coworkers, this is the environment for you:

Basically, in the Gospel According to Sam, if I ever touch another employee other than a firm but non-aggressive handshake, I am a pervert. If I compliment another employee in any way, I am a pervert. If I look at another employee, I am a pervert. If I tell any joke above a third-grade level, I am a pervert and will never make it on Star Search.

I dunno about that last bit: a lot of perverts competed on Star Search.

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Sure happy it’s Thursday

Francis W. Porretto warns, in suitably stentorian tones, of the coming Acronym Shortage:

There may be lots of possible acronyms if one doesn’t care about mnemonic quality or pronounceability, but with those two features factored in, the space shrinks dramatically. Why, at some unforeseeable time in the future, we might have to go back to calling things by their original names!

I dunno. I don’t think I’d be too alarmed by this looming catastrophe, given this reaction from a couple years ago:

I am not hopeful about Senator Jim Inhofe’s not-necessarily-new immigration bill, partially because, well, it’s Jim Inhofe’s, but mostly because it’s called ENFORCE: The Engaging the Nation to Fight for Our Right to Control Entry Act.

Stupid acronyms contribute to stupid governance, and this particular example is flagrantly ugly, charmlessly kludgy, insipidly, nonsensically, grotesquely stupid.

(Title thanks to Triticale, may he rest in peace.)

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Somebody’s lovin’ it

And why shouldn’t McDonald’s have an Obama Value Meal?

Especially with a deal like this.

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Scrutinizing yet another insurance bill

You may remember this from six months ago. Let’s see what they’ve done to me this time around:

  • Liability (injury): up $1.90.
  • Liability (property): up $10.30.
  • Uninsured motorists: up $0.90.
  • Comprehensive: up $6.20.
  • Collision: up $15.90.
  • Road service: unchanged.
  • Rental reimbursement: up $1.30.

For a change, this isn’t the fault of those unblinkered, Philistine uninsured motorists.

And this isn’t quite final either: after the bill was issued, they discovered a couple more factors that had changed in the last few days. For one, I now carry three different policies from these folks, which fact will erase most of these increases; for another, there’s no longer a lienholder, which may or may not matter. Given the implied increase in parts prices, I am loath to drop collision coverage, even though the car is now paid for.

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Hide the candidate

A common — and manifestly ineffective — tactic by Republican strategists, says Stacy McCain:

It’s supposed to be about “message discipline,” but it always seems to backfire by turning the media against the candidate. My theory: Most GOP “media strategists” have never worked a day as a reporter, and thus can’t see things from the reporter’s perspective.

It’s very difficult for reporters to cover a campaign if all they get are press releases, scripted speeches and statements from campaign staffers. If they never have a chance to get spontaneous fresh quotes from the candidate, reporters begin to resent the campaign they’re covering and that resentment will inevitably come out in their coverage.

Of course, they can always resort to the time-dishonored tactic of making crap up.

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A high-decibel blast from the past

In my erstwhile capacity as a gadget freak in this part of the world, it was probably inevitable that I would someday meet Linda Soundtrak, the TV face of the electronics chain that bore her name. (Well, actually, she took the store’s name as a stage name, but that’s not important.) Not everyone was as crazy about her as I was:

Linda Soundtrak was the most annoying pitch person alive at a time when being an annoying pitch person was an art form. But don’t you miss her?

Well, yes. And while people still revile her, I’m looking forward to her return: when she wasn’t being Linda Soundtrak, she was calm, almost demure, and incredibly focused, and she occasionally had time to chat up some of us wandering about on the sales floor. She won’t be doing that this time around — she’ll come in once in a while to record a few spots for the reopened store’s new owner, sort of like Tom Park — but sixteen years without Linda is quite enough, thank you very much. (And if nothing else, this should demonstrate that no, that’s someone else doing the far-more-annoying 1-800-2SELLHOMES ads.)

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Embrace the hardware

Have you hugged your assault rifle today?

As always, mind the fine print.

(Seen here.)

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Sounds like a plan

Little Miss Attila has deemed herself insufficiently little, and is taking the appropriate actions:

1) Lecture everyone around me about their eating choices.

2) Make sure no one is looking when I consume empty calories.

3) Lobby for legislation that will force fast-food restaurants to state calorie counts for food right on the menus.

4) Check on those menus to ensure compliance.

5) Super-size everything I order while I’m there.

For some reason, this reminds me of David Letterman’s infamous cholesterol test, on which he scored somewhere in the Forbidden Zone above 250. He responded the next night with a Top Ten list, of which Number One was this: “Use my wealth and power to pressure the A.M.A. to dangerously lower their standards.”

Letterman needn’t have exerted himself, though: had he waited long enough, the government would start lowering as many standards as possible in the holy name of cost control.

Unfortunately for LMA, the government probably won’t regulate jean sizes, and I don’t feel comfortable urging her to wear more skirts instead.

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Magical payback

Ten days ago, the Thunder thrashed the Magic 102-74, at the Ford. Tonight in Orlando came retribution, swift, solid and sure: the Magic held a thirty-point lead after three quarters, but with lots of garbage time available, the Thunder reserves bedeviled the backup Magicians enough to make things look a lot closer than they were: 108-94 at the horn.

The absence of Jameer Nelson didn’t slow down the Magic any: both Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis posted double-doubles, and Howard did it in less than 18 minutes. Vince Carter led Orlando with 18 points. And they kept calling long-distance: the Magic put up 31 three-balls, connecting on 13 of them.

The Oklahoma City starters didn’t shoot particularly well; it took the reserves to bring the team up to 41 percent. The Big Three — Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Russell Westbrook — managed only 12, 11 and 10 points respectively. The one hot hand from OKC was backup guard James Harden, who in 31 minutes scored 24 points, including six out of seven treys. Mostly-unseen Kyle Weaver and D. J. White got playing time; Weaver dropped in 11 points, White 8. The Thunder were outrebounded, but not by much: 47-42.

So the Thunder are back to .500. On second nights of back-to-backs, they’re 1-3. Fatigue factor? Maybe. There won’t be another until December 13/14 — but three more follow before the end of the month. The Wizards are next.

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Go placidly amid the noise and haste

It would have to be an improvement over this guy’s plaint:

Someone, using some technology, is destroying my life. Which technology & how, they are using to disturb me?

More specifically:

It appears to be pure technical misuse for spoiling the life. It is really some technical matter. In last 2-3 nights, someone has been using some technology. When I was sleeping. I found. I was completely in WIFI-like- covered (total body) area. Someone has done something in such a way that they can not only see me in my house but also make me feel as if they have got me on their computer screen and when they touch there any part of my body. I feel movement and shivering and pinching.

One night, when I was lying in my bed,someone moved one’s fingers to completely move on my palm. It is really horrifing, now, whenever I go to my house and try to sleep, immediately, I get the feeling as if someone using the computer screen starts disturbing me. I am also getting pinched every now and then. At the moment, I am almost 1/2 km. away, here too, I am getting pinched and shivered.

I don’t know how they are doing and which technology they are using to disturb my life.

Were this happening to me, I’d blame Ambien.

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The Judas ratio

A phrase I’d not seen before, it shows up in this comment by Enoch Root:

[I]t is the contention that in every human creature — and therefore every group comprised of human creatures — there is approx 8.5% corruption. Something I have been toying with for years, but wonder if there is any “there” there.

Judas represented 8.3 percent of the Apostles, though one should not forget Peter’s denial, which surely counts for something.

Of course, there is upward pressure on that 8.5 figure. Consider the Oklahoma county-commissioner scandal of 1981, in which 69 of 77 counties had at least one commissioner involved, and 13 had all three. Or, for that matter, consider Chicago of just about any year.

And does anyone believe there are only 45 practitioners of skullduggery in Congress?

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The replacements on tour

There is no shortage of musical groups which contain no original members, perhaps an inevitability if a group lasts long enough. For instance: the Dixie Hummingbirds have been a working singing group since 1928; founder James B. Davis died in 2007 at ninety-one. Then again, the Britpop group Sugababes, which dates only to 1998, has no original members remaining, though apparently they’ve always been a fractious bunch.

Regarding the latter, Andrew King muses:

Which mythical hero’s conveyance links the Sugababes with a river and George Washington’s Axe?

The river in question is the one mentioned by Heraclitus, the one you can never step into twice because it’s never exactly the same river. The vessel, of course, is the Ship of Theseus, as described by Plutarch:

The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned [from Crete] had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their place, insomuch that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same.

Where this gets convoluted is in a later analysis by Thomas Hobbes, who wondered: if you gathered up all the original, discarded planks, and built a ship from them, can it legitimately be called the Ship of Theseus?

Until Starfleet Command can reassure me on these matters, I’m not setting foot in a transporter.

(See also this contemplation of Washington’s axe.)

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No names mentioned

More-or-less normal people drive more-or-less normal cars that have more-or-less normal names: Focus, Civic, Malibu. Get into the higher price class, and suddenly you’re faced with alphanumeric soup: 335i, E350, G37, TSX.

Is this going to happen to shoes?

MPS108 PC014 pump by Roberto Cavalli

This grey-suede pump by Roberto Cavalli definitely qualifies as “higher price class” — it’s a startling $984 at Zappos — and for some reason it’s given the prosaic designation “MPS108 PC014.”

Then again, the reviewer at ShoeBlog is okay with that:

I think it is refreshing to see this line named with an alpha-numerical code and not with a silly name like thisissilly. Who names shoes anyways? If I were in charge of a shoe names department, they would be called “cute boots with studs” or “dorky looking gladiator sandals.” I think you all know why I am not in charge of naming shoes.

Pictured at this link: cute boots with studs, but no dorky-looking gladiator sandals.

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But that was yesterday

And yesterday’s gone, says Jeff Shaw:

We used to love listening to AM radio. Everybody I knew had a pocket radio powered by a 9 volt Ray-O-Vac battery that would go dead in about a day and a half.

I had one of those back around 1961: an actual Japanese Transistor Radio with, as the late Allan Sherman said, “a wire with a thing on one end that you could stick in your ear, and a thing on the other end that you can’t stick anywhere because it’s bent.” I still have a radio that runs on 9-volt batteries, but it’s a VHF weather-band unit. (If the Sherman reference seems familiar, you may have seen it here.)

Since my music tastes have evolved, I don’t listen to much radio anymore, so I’m not familiar with any top forty hits. Also, I got weary long ago of hearing the same song over and over, everyday. So much for programmed radio. If it’s Friday at 4:45 pm, I’ll bet you can turn on the radio to some local station get BTO’s “Taking Care of Business.” For the 4 millionth time. After I hear a song 500 times, I sort of lose interest.

I tend to duck stations playing current stuff. Yesterday, zipping down US 62, I caught these guys playing Herb Alpert’s “Rise,” followed by an edit of Steely Dan’s “Do It Again,” in which the infamous plastic organ competently fingered by Donald Fagen was excised.

On the other hand, I’ve already picked up a copy of “Meet Me on the Equinox,” a Death Cab for Cutie single from the New Moon soundtrack, released this past September. It will be a while, I suspect, before it gets its 500th playing.

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Warming to the Heat

It wasn’t really clear which Miami team we’d see tonight: the one that won seven of its first nine games, or the one that beat the lowly New Jersey Nyets by one. On the basis that it’s never safe to bet against Dwyane Wade, I figured it would be the former. The Thunder had other ideas, holding D-Wade to 6 of 19 shooting on the way to a 100-87 victory.

Not that Wade was ineffective: he knocked down 22 points and delivered six assists. But Oklahoma City in general, and Thabo Sefolosha in particular, pestered him into half a dozen turnovers. Jermaine O’Neal was good for a double-double (19 points, 10 boards), and Daequan Cook paced the Miami bench with 17, including four from beyond the arc.

The Thunder outshot the Heat, 48 to 43 percent, and had a slight advantage in rebounds, 41 to 36. Where they shone was at the charity stripe, hitting 21 of 22, and in the sheer timeliness of their defense: whenever Miami put together a run, the Thunder shut it down. Kevin Durant had 32 points; he and Sefolosha pulled down nine boards each. And this was one of Russell Westbrook’s better nights: 24 points, seven dimes. Radio guy Matt Pinto noted that the Thunder outscored the Heat 55-45 in the second half, quantitatively the same thrashing they administered to the Spurs last Saturday.

Tomorrow will be interesting. It’s the second night of a back-to-back, a condition that has not been favorable for the Thunder of late; on the other hand, it’s at Orlando, and OKC has already thumped the Magic once this year, which tends to build confidence. And the Thunder, 6-5 overall, is 4-2 on the road but only 2-3 at the Ford. It’s almost enough to make you hope they don’t hurry home.

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A 2010 campaign ad

Scripted by R. Anderson:

A crew of hardened thugs right off the set of OZ, all comparing notes — “What you in for?” We get the favorites; murder, kidnapping, rape, etc.

Last person to answer’s a nervous college-aged kid, who replies “I, uh, didn’t have enough money to buy health insurance.”

Hardened thugs stop, look at the kid, and smile as widely as they possibly can.

In happier times, they’d all be together on the Group W Bench.

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Skid Marxists

Smoky burnouts? A tired old movie cliché, says Jeffro:

Every car ever made can burn rubber like a dragster. All the movie cars apparently have limited slip or locking differentials, because they can fry both tires with abandon. I dunno about y’all, but in my younger days, I always had to test about any car I drove to see if it could “peel out.” The best way for an automatic was to power brake — because most cars can’t break loose just by stomping on the gas, unless you’re “cutting kitties.” At any rate, if the car in question could overcome the brakes and static friction of its weight — the right rear tire would fry. That is how standard differentials work. If it was a manual, then you could wind ‘er up and dump the clutch, but if it didn’t have the power, the tire might chirp. No long stripe on the pavement. I guess another way to break loose the rears with an auto tranny would be to pop it in neutral, wind it up and slip it into drive. For some reason, this method would shorten the life of said transmission considerably, perhaps even killing it at that particular moment. Not to mention stressed universal joints.

Actually, this seems to work better on FWD cars with lots of ponies, because they’re susceptible to torque steer, and this moves the front tires’ contact patches around quite a bit if you’re not careful; I remember having to adjust the jackrabbitude of my starts after going from a car with 130 hp to a car with 227 hp. Then again, a lot of stunt cars are not exactly stock. (I always wondered about Melina Havelock’s 2CV in For Your Eyes Only.)

They apparently have some really, really noisy tires. When the car slides through a corner, we always get to hear the tires squeal with anguish and pain. Even on gravel. “Laying rubber” on gravel makes a lot of noise in the movies.

I figure the noise is added in post-production, because I’m not hearing it in real life; if I’m hearing tire squeal through a corner, I’m usually about to roll over on the door handles. The tires I have are admittedly kinda noisy, but it’s not a squeal: it’s a grumble. Maybe even a bellow, on some of our Third World-quality freeways.

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Reboot to the head

Donna B. finds a painfully-apt metaphor for the politics of today:

A closed head injury is one of the most bizarre things one can experience.

So … maybe — since our politics have certainly become bizarre, maybe our society has suffered a closed head injury — that being defined as an injury that does not allow the inflammation and excess blood to escape, thus it kills vital cells.

Perhaps we might learn from the emblematic symptoms of closed head injuries: first is a skewing of personality. When one awakens from a head injury, things do not align the way they once did.

This — emphatically — does not mean they do not align in a logical manner, just that they do not align with what society™ … deems proper.

The scary part is that in the absence of external evidence — there’s no visible bleeding or swelling — the damage may go unnoticed for surprisingly long periods of time.

Is it possible to restore the original alignment? Maybe, maybe not. If there’s one thing medical science has learned about the brain and its container, it’s how little is known about the brain and its container.

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