I’m gonna be a troll some day

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My placement in “google” is just fine, thank you very much.

Apparently the comment-spam bot is evolving toward the imitation concern troll — as if genuine concern trolls weren’t exasperating enough.

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It’s what they do

“Imported from Detroit” was the tag on the very last frame of one of this year’s better Super Bowl ads, a two-minute scowl by Eminem featuring the Chrysler 200 sedan. A few detractors argued that this was a slim, perhaps shady, claim, inasmuch as the 200 is actually assembled in Sterling Heights, Michigan, whose boundaries start about six miles beyond 8 Mile Road, and besides, all the shots at Chrysler these days are being called by Fiat, which is about as American as bocce balls, and furthermore, they’re all using those damn Chinese parts anyway.

It therefore falls upon me to check it out, and fortunately, I have just the tool for it: the April Car and Driver has a three-page feature (at this writing, not yet on their Web site) called “Domestic Bliss,” which identifies every automobile assembled between Baffin Bay and Belize that’s offered for sale in the States, and the domestic content thereof. “Domestic content,” says writer Tony Quiroga, has a legal definition:

By Uncle Sam’s reckoning, if 75 percent (by value) or more of a car’s parts come from the U.S. or Canada, it’s considered a domestic product; less than that, and it’s not.

So it was a simple matter to turn to the Michigan section, look up Sterling Heights, and there’s the 200, which has a domestic content of, yes, 75 percent. I’d say Detroit can claim this one as one of their own.

Smack that, haters.

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Crossing a very high bar

In the comments that followed this Robert Stacy McCain piece on contemporary feminism, McCain and Roxeanne de Luca found themselves talking about the pole vault, an event that hasn’t been always open to women. “The powers that be,” said de Luca, “told us that it was bad for our uteruses.” McCain, not too surprisingly, called for an investigation into this claim once he gets an NIH grant, possibly to steal a march on noted amateur gynecologist Andrew Sullivan.

I, of course, have no idea as to whether this is true or not, but I am reasonably certain it’s not a factor as regards external appearance:

Mary Sauer is an American pole-vaulter; she appeared unclothed in the September Playboy [2004] “Women of the Olympics” pictorial. I of course had checked out the fine print, and had found this little gem:

“I’m afraid of heights. But when I pole-vault I can’t tell how high in the air I am. I’ll go driving down the freeway and see an overpass sign that reads CLEARANCE 14 FEET, 10 INCHES, and I think, Wow, I’ve jumped over that.”

She continued to vault through 2007, at which time she was in her early thirties; I rather suspect that if something horrible had happened to her internal workings, we’d have heard about it.

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Support your local sports-car industry

What if the speed limit on UK motorways could be raised to 80 mph?

Her Majesty’s Government is evidently considering such a move:

Motorway speed limits could rise to 80 mph to shorten journey times and boost the economy under a radical review of road safety, Transport Secretary Philip Hammond signalled [Monday].

He is concerned that anti-car campaigners have for too long used ‘road safety’ as a convenient excuse to both stymie raising speed the limit on motorways from the current 70mph, and to push for more 20mph zones in urban areas — even when they are inappropriate.

Britain has some of the safest roads in Europe, and within that motorways are by far the safest.

Other European speed limits: 75 mph (Ireland, Spain, Portugal), 81 mph (France, Italy), none whatsoever (a few sections of the German Autobahn).

Disclosure: When I put this piece together, I was listening to Kraftwerk’s “Autobahn.” Yes, all 22-point-something minutes of it.

(Via The Truth About Cars.)

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Try this cap on for size

Tulsa County Assessor Ken Yazel wants you to know that if the legislature passes one of its property-tax limitation measures, it doesn’t mean your taxes will quit going up, which regular readers of this site know already.

That much is pretty well indisputable. But then he comes up with this:

Yazel said lowering the cap on property valuations wouldn’t benefit poor or middle-class homeowners because it does not address the real issue — the growing demand for property tax money.

“If I constrain a taxable value for a home in an area that is going up 14 or 15 percent a year, I no longer have as much value in that rising neighborhood,” so the millage rate — which affects the entire area — will have to be increased to raise the funds needed, Yazel said. “So we’re shifting the fair share, if you will, to the people who live in the neighborhoods that do not go up.”

In other news, there are supposedly areas in Tulsa County that are increasing in value 14 or 15 percent a year.

(Via Mike McCarville.)

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Don’t look, Ethyl

Nancy Friedman’s Word of the Week is “octane,” properly an alkane with eight carbon atoms (C8H18), more typically used to describe that quality which the last tank of gas you bought didn’t have enough of.

When I took chemistry back at the dawn of time — there were only 40-odd elements then — one thing we covered in excruciating detail was how to tell an alkane from an alkene or, even weirder, an alkyne. (Short version: alkanes have single carbon bonds only, alkenes have a double bond somewhere, alkynes a triple bond.) This was almost, but not quite, as amusing to us as the difference between “alkaline” (pH over 7) and “Al Kaline” (#6 for the Detroit Tigers).

About 90 percent of octane talk these days, I suspect, is along these lines:

Q: Do I have to use premium gas? I have a [fill in make/model of car that says it requires premium gas].

A: Why would you ask such a thing? Modern cars have computers to evaluate what fuel is being used and can adjust accordingly. Of course, your mileage may vary. And if you hear a steady knock-knock-KNOCK from under the hood, well, that’s why they put those megawatt stereos in those fancy luxury cars. Besides, you’re saving almost a quarter a gallon. After about 2500 gallons you’ll have saved enough for one-tenth of a brand-new engine, which is good, because then you’ll only have to come up with 90 percent of the repair bill, your warranty having (1) expired 2,000 miles ago and (2) been voided because the computer has been logging all the crappy gas you’ve been buying because you wanted to save a quarter a gallon.

(Title reference: “Ethyl” was the trademark of the Ethyl Corporation, founded as a joint venture of General Motors and Standard Oil of New Jersey. It denoted their fuel additive, tetraethyl lead, now banned for health reasons. Boogity, boogity.)

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As the pollwatchers doze

Well, okay, they weren’t actually asleep, but there wasn’t a whole lot for them to do for the first ten hours of the election: right about 5:00 I shoved ballot #202 into the maw of the machine. Things seemed to be picking up as I was leaving, but not by so much that they’re going to fall hopelessly behind in their work.

Then again, this is about what Steve Lackmeyer predicted in terms of turnout, or lack thereof.

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For reference purposes only

Where I work, March seems to go on for forty, even fifty days, without so much as a breather. It’s a difficult proposition at best, and motivation is in decidedly short supply. The least I can do for myself, therefore, is give myself something to look at. However, it’s not especially wise to have pin-up pictures hanging around the office, so I’ll put one here and then bookmark it for later. In fact, I may put it after the jump, just in case someone walks in.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Maybe he likes it here

Kendrick Perkins, who reportedly wept at being told he was being traded by the Celtics to the Thunder, has now signed a contract extension with Oklahoma City.

This, mind you, before he’s ever played a single game in the Big Breezy. (He’s expected to be out for a couple of weeks with a knee injury; Thunder medical staff, who set the league standard for “finicky” — they once sent back Tyson Chandler for toe jam, or something along those lines — have apparently given him a clean bill of health once the knee clears up.) So Perk knew what he wanted: a place on a contender, at a price higher than Boston, mired in luxury-tax land, would be able to pay. Said price was not disclosed, in accordance with all the unwritten laws, but $34 million over four years seems to be the magic number; Perk had declined a $22-million extension from the Celtics. For a big man with plenty of good years left in him, this still sounds like a bargain.

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Last time I had the plumber out here, he observed the toilet in action, and pronounced its flush “good.” On the downside, it uses, if not a literal ton of water, certainly more than would be permissible in eco-conscious San Francisco. Then again, they’re having some unexpected issues these days:

Skimping on toilet water has resulted in more sludge backing up inside the sewer pipes, said Tyrone Jue, spokesman for the city Public Utilities Commission. That has created a rotten-egg stench near AT&T Park and elsewhere, especially during the dry summer months.

In response, they’re taking a time-tested approach to de-stenching:

[O]fficials are stocking up on a $14 million, three-year supply of highly concentrated sodium hypochlorite — better known as bleach — to act as an odor eater and to disinfect the city’s treated water before it’s dumped into the bay. It will also be used to sanitize drinking water.

There are drawbacks to this approach — chlorine oxidizes organic contaminants, which have to be screened out before the bleach goes in — but let’s face it, they’re not going to issue a Please Flush Twice order.

Somewhere, Al Bundy is snickering.

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The soul of the city

Remember when City Council elections were non-partisan? Oh, I know there’s no actual label on the ballot, but just the same, labels have been handed out left and right — and with this bunch, I’m inclined to veer toward the left.

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You will not see this on a Dodge Viper

P. J. O’Rourke drives a Fiat 500 for Car and Driver (April), shows it to the journalism class he teaches at Hillsdale College, and he has some good news — or is it bad news?

[What] I think is the 500’s best marketing point [is] its appearance. This came from my star pupil, Ms. B. On one hand, she was referencing an international design icon that drives sales in more than 4000 retail outlets in the U.S. alone and generates half a billion dollars in annual revenue. On the other hand…

When Ms. B saw the Fiat 500, the first words out of her mouth were “Hello Kitty.”

Not just hers, either, I suspect:

Fiat 500 Hello Kitty

Compare to, for instance, this Kitty-oriented smart fortwo.

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Motley crew cab

One of my Cardinal Rules of Driving is “Do not attract undue attention to yourself.” Sooner or later, someone with a badge will take note, and you will probably not like the results:

Officials said a sheriff’s deputy responded to a report of a suspicious pickup truck east of Lincoln [Nebraska]. The deputy said he stopped the truck to question the driver and found everyone in the vehicle was unclothed. The deputy said their clothes were in the bed of the pickup.

Definitely unwise. If you’re going to drive without any clothes on, you need to be able to pull something on in a big hurry Just In Case.

Officials said there’s no law against driving naked on county roads as long as no one is alarmed. But authorities said the driver, Nickolus Borgman, 32, was cited for third offense aggravated DUI, open container, no seat belts and for having too many people in the front seat of the pickup.

Yet another example of how drinking impairs the driver’s judgment.

And if there’s a sudden increase in nude driving in Nebraska, well, I had nothing to do with it.

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Been there, run that

State representatives hiding out beyond state lines? Believe me, this is anything but unprecedented:

In the interests of full disclosure, I must confess that, during my time in Evanston, I too crossed the Illinois-Wisconsin border from time to time to further my avoidance of certain residency-based requirements. In my case, these requirements were age-based and involved something known as “Blatz.” You need not know more, except that the cheeseheads across the line soon matched the oppressive, fascist and un-American restrictions of both my adopted and my native state. At least, that’s how I saw it at the time.

Some Blatz background, should you be interested.

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Pure poplets for now people

This audio concoction contains, per the description, “5 Seconds Of Every #1 Song Ever,” and by “ever” they mean roughly 1955-1992. It went viral last week, and I decided I’d hold off listening to it until the weekend.


  • From the beginning up through the middle Seventies or so, I have just about every one of these records.
  • Sound quality is decidedly limited, which helps to keep the bandwidth down, but a lot of these sounded much punchier in those old mono mixes than they do in “New Improved Full Dimensional Stereo” or whatever.
  • Chubby Checker’s “The Twist,” uniquely among this bunch, made #1 in two separate chart runs: summer 1960, on its first release, and at the very end of 1961, after Checker sang it on The Ed Sullivan Show. And yes, it’s in there twice. I was most pleased.

American Digest has a brief explanation of where this collection came from in the first place.

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Strange search-engine queries (265)

In days of old, stuff like this was kept in a mayonnaise jar on Funk & Wagnalls’ porch. Today, you (well, I) find it in the records dutifully kept by Site Meter and other chroniclers of site activity, and hope it gets something resembling a response.

475.00:  “What is the average ticket at your typical Spee-D-Loob place?”

once a day man:  The sixty-minute man can’t do sixty no more.

stepped on sweetgum seed pods:  A compelling argument for shoes.

synthetic stucco disclosure law Indiana:  Victory for the operators of several small stucco mines near Evansville.

paul mccartney 226 maintenance company fort sill ok:  He thought the Major was a little lady suffragette.

how did franz joseph dispose of his bodily waste:  Haydn it in other people’s manuscripts.

are grackles edible:  I suspect they taste something like chicken.

movie quote “I reject technology”:  Well, that lets out James Cameron.

trees strike back:  See? They don’t care if you hug them.

can an impotent man emulate?  He might even be able to simulate. But he’d better do something.

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