What’s your sign?

Probably not STOP:

I can sort of understand city dwellers not understanding how four way stops work. I mean, they’re still dumbasses, but at least we can understand why. It’s not a part of their everyday driving experience.

Nearest four-way stop: either end of my block. I can’t drive much of anywhere without encountering one. I do in fact understand how they work, though I figure I probably have some compensating dumbassery elsewhere.

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Tiff time

Tiffani Thiessen is on my mind again, and this time there are plausible reasons why: yesterday USA began airing the five remaining episodes of season four of White Collar, and today she turned thirty-nine.

Two rationalizations, so how about two photos?

Tiffani Thiessen courtesy Spoiler TV

Tiffani Thiessen in Esquire

That latter photo is from a “Me in My Place” piece in Esquire.

(Suggested by McGehee, who reminded me that White Collar was still on, last time I had anything to say about Tiffani Thiessen.)

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Where all your time has gone

And by “your time,” I suspect I really mean “James Lileks’ time”:

Every day I encounter some site I like, but rarely promote to the daily bookmark. I find this interesting. Why wouldn’t I? Because it’s a peripheral interest, and I really don’t need to check up on someone’s vintage kitchen remodel for a month. If ever. So the list of secondary bookmarks grows and grows, until weeded out six months later after a cursory revisit. Each of these pages usually has a Facebook page. Never go there. Why would I?

I am something like that, though you should probably figure that if you read it here, I don’t consider that interest “peripheral.”

What I don’t like about all of this: the fragmentation of presence. If you just have Facebook, lucky you. If that’s what you want. But if you have a blog, you should tweet, and if you tweet, isn’t there a Facebook account and a Google+ account you might want to link to that? Ought not the Tumblr be chained as well, so all updates everywhere are sprayed across all possible platforms?

Short answer: no. Slightly longer answer: there are different audiences, at least in my case, for each of these platforms. (I don’t have a presence on Tumblr.) And nothing I say is so gosh-darn important that I have to push it out to everyone who’s ever heard of me.

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For the analog diehards

As I get older — which I intend to continue to do for some time — I’m becoming increasingly persuaded that while our immediate future is digital, it’s got to be analog for the long haul, if only because whoever explores the ruins of our civilization will be able to comprehend the analog stuff without enormous difficulty, while bits are just, well, bits.

To that end, the Lomography community, which introduced a new B&W 110 film (dubbed “Orca”) last year, has now brought forth color film in 110, called “Peacock.” The new film is ISO 200 and sells for $7.90.

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Staples? That was easy

Okay, it wasn’t that easy, and both Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups were conspicuous by their absence, but the Thunder finally found a way to beat the Clippers in Los Angeles: don’t miss a lot of shots. The Clips weren’t going to give it away, and OKC harshed their own mellow by two consecutive moving-screen fouls — didn’t we see this in Denver day before yesterday? — but the Thunder held on for a 109-97 win.

A lot of shots were indeed not missed. OKC shot 53 percent, and hit an implausible 15 of 27 treys. That’s an Academy a franchise record. The Clips, however, shut down the Thunder’s free-throw machine by the simple expedient of not fouling: OKC attempted 14, half their average, and made 12. Both Kevin Durant (12-19, 32 points) and Russell Westbrook (9-19, 26) had good nights, but the man at the top of the plus/minus tower was glue guy Nick Collison (+20), who played more than 40 minutes, largely because Kendrick Perkins rolled up four fouls in less than seven minutes.

In the absence of their major playmakers, Blake Griffin assumed a lot of the load for L.A., and he racked up a season-high 31 points. The Clips kept their hands on the ball, generally — only 10 turnovers — but Eric Bledsoe, good as he was (12 points, four assists) just isn’t CP3. The L.A. bench did outscore the OKC reserves, 38-25.

The West Coast swing continues tomorrow night at Golden State, the team that beat the Clippers on Monday. It’s not going to get any easier.

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Give ’em enough trope

TV Tropes may be the most effective time suck on the entire Web; it’s the pixel equivalent of those potato chips you couldn’t eat just one of. I’ve spent hours, sometimes consecutive, wandering through its endless collection of schemes, plans, plot complications, clichés, and whatnot, and I never know quite what to expect.

I most especially did not expect to find a page titled “Fanfic Recs: My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic Humans,” which is really digging into deep obscurity, though some of the legitimate greats of the genre are listed and recommended: Anthropology, Project: Sunflower, and yes, My Little Dashie.

Why I would be on this page, I have no idea; yet somehow I am.

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Uncomfortable flats

BoingBoing was passing around this variation on a theme: R.E.M.’s downbeat classic “Losing My Religion,” retuned, the minor keys replaced with major keys. It was startling, especially for someone like me who wallows in mournful songs until all hours of the night.

The same audio wizard has similarly reworked this classic from my past:

Major Scaled #3: The Doors-“Riders On The Rainbow” from major scaled on Vimeo.

It’s like they’re almost happy to be going.

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Taking it personally

I’ve encountered a few folks like this, and they’re not really all trying to mess with Robert Stacy McCain — but McCain understands that their motivation is something other than idealism incarnate:

Whether or not [John] Tiessen is really a danger to me, he’s fairly representative of a certain type of personality that is attracted to anti-social protest movements. Tiessen has a lot of frustration and resentment of a strictly personal nature, and his interest in “politics” is not really about electing candidates or advancing specific policies so much as it is about symbolic vindication of his resentments. Amorphous ill-organized protest movements offer opportunities for disgruntled misfits to Be Somebody — to be applauded by their fellow misfits for “speaking out” against their commonly hated scapegoats — without having to do anything to establish their credibility in advance. It’s the Moment of Glory fantasy.

Of course, I live in Oklahoma, so the windbags I’m likely to encounter aren’t necessarily going to be #OccupyMyShorts types; still, the nature of ill winds is that they blow nobody good. Or, I suspect, well.

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That’s Jack’s Q

I have been properly agnostic about Infiniti’s switch to an all-Q lineup, and decidedly skeptical about the Official Explanation. What I was waiting for, evidently, was Jack Baruth’s response:

Because it is part of my job to know, I will eventually put away my disgust long enough to internalize the ridiculous new naming convention employed by the not-really-autonomous luxury arm of Nissan. What I know offhand is this: the G37 successor will be called the Q50. This arrant stupidity is roughly equivalent to Rolls-Royce introducing a new small car and calling it the Phantom Eight. Or calling the new Acura ILX the Legend Plus Five. Or calling the swoopy 2014 Lexus IS the Lexus LS510hL. I could go on, and I encourage you to do so when you are wasting time with your work buddies at lunch (“Hey! I’ve got one! The new Mercedes CLA coulda been the S650!”) but you get the idea. The just-unveiled Infiniti Q-ship system has the previously unknown-to-science ability to make the utter marketing dolts at Lincoln and Cadillac look like geniuses just for not calling the MKZ and ATS the Continental Mark XIV and Fleetwood Talisman Brougham Eldorado, respectively.

And counter-threaded pot-metal dolts at that.

But what’s worse than a whole line of Q? A whole line of QX:

[T]he trucks all take a nomenclature cue from the QX56, a vehicle so unspeakably crass it depresses the space-time curve around it for kilometers and causes cordovan Alden penny loafers to spontaneously evolve into Chinese-sewn Kenneth Cole white-trash square-toe monstrosities as all notions of human decency are shattered beyond hope or recognition in its lumbering, cetacean wake.

All this and they still don’t have a proper follow-on product for the original Q45. I’m aware that 85 percent or so of automotive marketing consists of ripping off the competition; what I can’t fathom is why Nissan thinks the competition is Lincoln, which still doesn’t have a proper follow-on product for either the Continental or the Town Car.

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I can tell by the pixels

Of course, in 1966, we didn’t know pixels from Pixy Stix:

Hudson Invisi-Dots

The nominally New York-based Hudson brand, dating from 1926, had its manufacturing facilities in Charlotte, North Carolina; in 1968, it merged with Chadbourn Gotham, and was ultimately acquired by the old-line German firm Kunert, founded in 1907. The brand is still in use in the UK.

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It goes around, it comes around

Henrik Fisker might think there’s a curse on his car company, what with recalls, fires, and the occasional flood. It’s been six months since the last Fisker Karma was built, and the company wants to explain why:

Valmet [which assembled the first Karmas] traditionally shuts down for Scandinavian summer break from mid July to mid August. When they returned, our new management team wanted to renegotiate the contract with them and during this period, A123 started to enter bankruptcy. We took the prudent decision to conserve our battery stock and we already have sufficient supply of Karmas through Q1 of this year. By that time we hope to have renegotiated our battery supply with A123’s new owners Wanxiang.

In fact, they might get a handful of battery packs coming back to them, thanks to, of all people, Maximum Bob Lutz and his idea of Destiny Destino:

[T]he VL Automotive Destino that was just unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show was certainly a surprise, even to long-time Lutz-watchers… the Destino is a Fisker Karma with a 638-horsepower supercharged LS9 V8 transplanted from a Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. Plug? Gone. High-tech lithium-ion battery? Sold back to Fisker.

Lutz says he has twenty orders for the Destino, and explains why it might actually be viable:

“I just heard so many people say, I love the Fisker Karma but I’m not going to buy it because I don’t want that electric drivetrain with the four-cylinder engine… Here’s this ultra-luxurious, super-low, super-sporty, beautifully designed four-door sedan. Probably ten percent of the possible customers want that in an electric form with a four-cylinder.”

Fisker has built 1900 Karmas so far, and has sold eight to Lutz.

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IP too freely

Beyond Akismet and my security company, there’s a gizmo here that bans individual IP addresses, or ranges thereof, without having to rewrite .htaccess for every single example. I added two more this week, and decided to take a look at the logs. Since installation, this plugin has sent 94,263 requests by known spammers and such to the bit bucket.

Single worst offender: (6,013 attempts).

Worst network: 96.47.225.xxx (25,881 attempts).

I think it’s safe to say that no worthwhile traffic will ever come from these addresses.

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Nice C-pillars

Ronnie Schreiber’s day job requires that he check out the auto shows, but there are, um, distractions that must be dealt with:

To be honest, I’m a bit ambivalent about the distracting presence of beautiful women at big car shows. I once asked Andreas Serrano, who does marketing for Maserati of North America, why they have beautiful women on their stand. Serrano, a native Italian, looked at me like I was crazy and said, “Beautiful cars … beautiful women, they go together, no?”

“True,” I replied, “but you like cars and I like cars. You like women and I like women. If you had to pick one to look at, the car would lose.”

The least obvious statement here, I’d say, is that Maserati actually has an Italian fellow hawking their cars in the States.

And on his own site, Schreiber furnishes 3-D pix of the cars — and of the women. At least he’s consistent.

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Strange search-engine queries (364)

Somewhere around a third of this site’s traffic comes, not from the regulars seeking just whatever the heck it is they seek around here, but from random Googlers and Bingers and such, looking for information or edification or, yes, it is true, stimulation. Inevitably, they leave a trail behind them, and on Monday morning we take a little stroll.

i saws Little Feat in 1972:  Cut ’em down to size, didja?

they had so much:  And the Lord saith, Let them be taxed.

Houston nursing positions in Houston:  You probably might want to start looking in, oh, I don’t know, how about Houston?

how to keep people from stealing your pens:  Keep them someplace no one would want to touch them, like, say, in MC Hammer’s pants.

guy with nice thighs:  MC Hammer, maybe?

“Singularly in unilluminating”:  Working title for Karl Rove’s next book.

has anyone ever thought 105 vickie dr in del city was haunted:  No. Never. Not once. Now move along, nothing to see here.

hey can you run a joule thief someone with epilepsy:  You kidding me? Some days I can hardly run the dishwasher.

wad file decals.wad doesn’t have wad id steam:  Wad are you talking about?

emily deschanel bigger boobs:  Doesn’t need ’em.

refusing information:  I should tell you?

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And the Oscar goes to…

When radio guy Matt Pinto starts grumbling about “histrionics,” you know it’s been a rough night. Not that the Pepsi Center is particularly friendly to visiting teams anyway, but there were a couple of instances when you had to wonder if the Nuggets have been taking acting lessons during their none-too-copious free time. (Even George Karl overplayed his hand, and was T’d up for it.) The Thunder trailed most of the second half, then pulled to within one after a 10-0 run. Danilo Gallinari drew a foul from Kendrick Perkins and sank both free throws; Russell Westbrook, in the waning moments of the shot clock, splashed a 27-footer over Wilson Chandler’s hair to tie it up at 109 with 22.9 seconds left, and a Ty Lawson isolation came up empty.

It went back and forth during overtime, though three called offensive fouls (moving screens) for the Thunder proved to be their undoing. Two Andre Miller freebies put the Nuggets up 119-116 at 5.4; half a second later Kevin Durant knocked down two free throws to pull within one; Chandler matched that to make it 121-118, and when a Durant trey fell short, that was the final.

If Denver had a secret weapon tonight, it was bench strength: the five Nugget reserves came up with 57 points, 26 by Corey Brewer. (OKC had 18, all of them by Kevin Martin.) As usual with the Nuggets, the shooting from the floor was good (48 percent), from the stripe not so good (23-34 for 68 percent). But they dominated the boards (50-39) and kept the Thunder out of the paint as much as they possibly good.

Durant-Westbrook Overdrive ground it out, as they will do, splitting 73 points between them. There wasn’t a double-double to be seen, though. (Denver had two, by Kenneth Faried and Kosta Koufos, though Koufos fouled out in 20 minutes.)

But enough. Our condolences to Scott Brooks, who lost his mom this weekend. Will he miss the Clippers game on Tuesday or the Warriors game on Wednesday? I wouldn’t bet on it.

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The deferens is vas

If I were going to design a method of contraception, I would insist on the following:

  • No complicated daily regimen;
  • Infinitesimal failure rate;
  • No massive hormonal adjustments;
  • Effectiveness for a duration of years rather than hours;
  • No TV commercials reeking of imputed fertility.

Such a method, of course, already exists, and has for some time; it is not popular, however, because (1) it gets no television promotion and (2) men resist the idea of blades in the general vicinity of The Boys. Besides, it’s more or less permanent, and people do change their minds, so someone has come up with Vasectomy 2: Non-Surgical Boogaloo, which goes like this:

A doctor applies some local anesthetic, makes a small pinhole in the base of the scrotum, reaches in with a pair of very thin forceps, and pulls out the small white vas deferens tube. Then, the doctor injects the polymer gel (called Vasalgel here in the US), pushes the vas deferens back inside, repeats the process for the other vas deferens, puts a Band-Aid over the small hole, and the man is on his way.

This gel, incidentally, doesn’t do what you think it does:

The two common chemicals — styrene maleic anhydride and dimethyl sulfoxide — form a polymer that thickens over the next 72 hours, much like a pliable epoxy, but the purpose of these chemicals isn’t to harden and block the vas deferens. Instead, the polymer lines the wall of the vas deferens and allows sperm to flow freely down the middle (this prevents any pressure buildup), and because of the polymer’s pattern of negative/positive polarization, the sperm are torn apart through the polyelectrolytic effect [pdf]. On a molecular level, it’s what supervillains envision will happen when they stick the good guy between two huge magnets and flip the switch.

“No, Mr. Sperm, I expect you to die!”

Apparently there is no upgrade path from the, um, earlier version, which is just as well as far as I’m concerned.

(Via two hawt neighborhood women, both of who are spoken for, so don’t assume anything.)

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