Further out of stock

NASCAR is cutting carbs left and right:

What’s this newfangled techno-wizardry we’re talking about? Fuel injection.

For the first time since the series kicked off in 1947, the so-called stock cars that travel full-throttle around tracks all across America will abandon their carburetors in favor of an Engine Control Unit sourced from McLaren and a computer processor from Freescale. That tandem reportedly beat out eight rival bids.

Note: “an” ECU and “a” computer processor. This is, of course, consistent with recent NASCAR practice:

[O]nly approved software can be run and [NASCAR] will have special electronic tools at its disposal during every event to ensure the legality of all ECUs.

Any bets on when full Robo-Drivers® will be deployed?

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Not a pyramid scheme

I caught this thread on Fark earlier this week:

Ok. I’m an ass. But, I haven’t watched the news in about month. Who can summarize the Egypt thing in one paragraph?

The departure of Hosni Mubarak — not to be confused with “Hose me, Mubarak,” which really should have been a Falco song — would seem to necessitate a second paragraph. But I admit, I’m just as much overtaken by events. I put this up on Facebook Thursday night, and it’s already obsolete:

Hosni Mubarak, demotivationally

Still, three minutes in Microsoft Paint (!) for a brief jape? I’m okay with that.

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Quote of the week

Once in a while, I should probably point out that selection for QOTW doesn’t necessarily mean I endorse whatever it is I’m quoting: occasionally, though admittedly not that often, I’ll put up something with which I have a problem, which thereby gives me the excuse to kvetch about it.

That said, the Friar and I are very much in agreement on this one:

If we’re going to have this many snowstorms of the century during my lifetime, I expect to have at least that many centuries of actual lifetime. To whom do I address this request?

Along those lines, a story once — well, rather a lot more than once, actually — told by a family member:

So I loaded the truck bed with snow and started driving south. The first time someone yelled, “Hey, mister, what’s that white stuff in the back of your truck?” that’s where I settled down, and I’ve been here ever since.

Guess it’s time to move.

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The perils of single source, revisited

You may remember this from a couple months ago:

Since this machine and its support were spun off to Infoprint, the quality of OEM ribbons has dropped dramatically: they’re severely overinked and tend to leak onto the paper. Infoprint alleges that no one else is having a problem with these things, implying that it’s Somebody Else’s Problem. Yeah, right. If I call in a tech to examine the situation, about 15 seconds at most will elapse before he notices the droplets of ink oozing out of the fabric.

Sooner or later, excess ink will do pretty much what you think it will do, and I did indeed call in a tech from Infoprint. He stared at the machine in disbelief, as though I’d asked him to restore some hulking relic from a back-street bazaar in Mozambique. We’re talking filth flarn filth. [Not even slightly safe for work.]

Amazed that this could be caused by OEM ribbons, he dialed up Level 2 support, and they said, probably laconically, “Yeah, all the production run, June, July and September twenty ten, it’s overinked.”

So now I have to hunt down a box of ribbons with the Proper Date. I am, however, vindicated.

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Whir art thou

Brian J. Noggle is positioning himself as the Nigel Tufnel of baking:

The authors use the mandate tense and order me to do a lot of different things to the poor ingredients, but I am a simple man, with a simple Oster hand mixer that goes to six. As such, whatever the verb in the recipe, seriously, they can’t mean anything but “Mix at 6,” can they?

  • Cream the eggs and butter? Set the mixer to six.
  • Fold the nuts into the batter? Set the mixer to six.
  • Combine the flour and spices? Put on a dust mask and set the mixer to six.
  • Chop the walnuts? Set the mixer to six and chase them around the bowl until they’re small.

Alas, I can only aspire to this level of Tufnelity, though my five-speed mixer — unless OFF counts as a speed — has, yes, 11 little descriptive labels along its slide switch, although two of them are “WHIP,” which suggests an imperative of its own.

And contrary to popular belief, I did not select this model, which is almost exactly the same age as my toaster, on the basis of Lickable Beater Surface. Though, you know, I could have.

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What’s up, Doak?

Newly-hatched Commissioner of Insurance John Doak wants you to know that “Valentines Day’s Life-Changing Moments Prompt Several Insurance Questions.” At least, he wants me to know that: one of his underlings sent me an email to that effect, accompanied by a Microsoft Word file, two pages, over 600 kb.

Now few things on earth will get you into my spam filter faster than sending me a Word .doc, especially a copy of something that should be on your Web site at … no, wait, I’m not seeing it on the site at all.

But I am seeing this:

Attention Users: This site is best viewed in Internet Explorer 7 at 1024 by 768 resolution.

If you do not have Internet Explorer 7, you can download it here for free.

As though I wasn’t already irritated by the guy.

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Snow has a decidedly-unpleasant effect on me, as does winter generally; among other things, it causes me to turn inward, meaning I miss some of the things around me, such as last week’s Carnival of the Vanities, the 411th in the series, which was titled “CoTVing in 2 feet of snow.” Which is a figure you don’t see often in Oklahoma, except over the last ten days.

By the time this is up, #412 will likely be ready to go, so to cover both these numbers, here’s a Volkswagen Type 4, which first appeared in 1968 as the 411, replaced by the 412 in 1972. I assume that, like pretty much all rear-engined VeeDubs, it was good in the snow.

Volkswagen Type 4

(Photo from Wikimedia Commons.)

Update: And now, #412.

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Where is the love?

And how often do I get to do two Black Eyed Peas references in semi-rapid succession?

ESPN SportsNation screen shot

I gotta feeling New Mexico just doesn’t give a damn.

(Via FAIL Blog.)

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Al Sharif don’t like it

Apparently there is a protocol for assigning names to camels:

“Ibil” and “Hijen” are the most common names given to both genders and camels of all sizes. From these, new names branch out according to the size, development stage and characteristics of the camel.

Seems reasonable. More specifically:

“Al Mataya” or “Al Rahila” is a name given to a young camel that people can ride. “Al Shamlal” is for a camel that is light and fast, and “Al Sharif” is for a camel that is old, tired and slow.

Me, I’m just grateful that no one mentioned “My Humps.”

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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Why you don’t want a flying car

Or, at least, why he doesn’t want a flying car:

Lets say, I have a vehicle that is 20+ years old. Should I be driving it one day, and something happens to make it stop running, I simply pollute the air with some appropriate words, and coast off the side of the road.

If, however, my FLYING 20 year old car should stop working, it’s going to fall.

Actually, this would also happen were it 20 hours old, but the point is clear.

That said, some perfectly-wonderful people fly aircraft, and seem to survive.

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You could call it a spending reduction

The First Lady goes on NBC’s Today Show, and somehow it’s news-y:

The first lady donned a navy polka dot knee-length day dress with a ruffled collar by Swedish retail chain H&M. The dress is part of their current collection and retails for $34.95. She paired the dress with a thick red belt and yellow kitten heels. It appears she did not wear the red sash that accompanies the dress.

Let’s take a look:

Michelle Obama with Matt Lauer on the Today Show 2-9-11

Now there are those who think Mrs O should strictly Buy American, but this is a pretty good look for her, although the belt, seemingly as always, hits her at the wrong place — and hey, she saved a few bucks, which in contemporary Washington is something which should be encouraged.

(Found in the tweetstream.)

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Into the blend wall with you

I’m starting to think that education is the new ethanol: there’s always some legislative tool on hand to try to give the gravy train just a little bit more acceleration.

This year’s bludgeon is Senator Jim Wilson (D-Tahlequah), who ran against Dan Boren in the OK 2 primary last year, presumably outraged by Boren’s insufficient leftishness. His instructions this year: do something about those damned homeschoolers.

Both SB 393 and SB 394 are nominally about “school attendance,” though all 393 does is delete the existing homeschool exemption from truancy laws, and 394 requires that parents of homeschoolers report to their local districts, once at the beginning of the school year, and once every semester after that to report on “academic progress.” (Text in Rich Text Format for any Oklahoma senate bill can be had here.)

I must point out that this isn’t some nifty new idea cooked up in the back room of the OEA: last year Mary Easley (D-Tulsa) introduced a bill very much like Wilson’s SB 394, prompting Brandon Dutcher to respond:

I happened to notice some empty parking lots at an Edmond public school this morning as I was driving in to work. Apparently the public schools are closed today due to inclement weather. So I was thinking you might want to consider a friendly amendment to your bill: If ever the public schools would like to notify me that they are not educating children on a given day, they could contact me at my office. It’s best not to call our home phone, as my wife is busy teaching during the day and doesn’t like to answer the phone.

Nor is this restricted to Oklahoma, either: Senator Edward D. Maloney (D-Chicago) has introduced a bill in the Illinois legislature which would require all students not in the public-school systems to register with the State Board of Education.

And none of this is a surprise, after all: if government is willing to compel you to spend money for questionable schools, it’s certainly willing to compel you to spend money for questionable fuel and questionable health-care coverage.

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There can be only, um, several

The Hill reports on Rep. Allen West’s upcoming appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference:

By choosing West, CPAC sends an interesting message. The Florida freshman hasn’t been afraid to clash with the GOP leadership in the House, and he enjoys a unique status as just one of two black Republicans elected in the House.

Robert Stacy McCain is not enjoying this particular grammatical construction:

Uh, that word “unique” has an actual definition. If there are two of something, it’s not “unique.”

I fear McCain may be fighting a losing battle here: the grammarians will back him to the hilt, but ultimately usage rules.

By coincidence, last night I finished up Origins of the Specious: Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language, by Patricia T. O’Connor and Stewart Kellerman (New York: Random House, 2009). On the question of “unique”:

I think there’s a case to be made for using qualifiers with some absolute terms. Think of the expression “a more perfect union,” from the Preamble to the Constitution. The Founders weren’t talking about improving on perfection, but about striving toward perfection. So something that isn’t perfect can still be more perfect than something else. But the essence of “unique” is its uniqueness. I’m a strict Constitutionalist on this. I won’t qualify “unique,” and I certainly won’t use it to describe something that’s merely unusual, like a hole in one or a triple play. I know the horse is out of the barn here, but I wish it would come back home. In the original sense, there’s just no other word like “unique.”

O’Connor and Kellerman also operate the Grammarphobia Blog.

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Perhaps a salty public official

There is a tradition in American cities, large and small, of naming municipal buildings after former city officials. Fort Wayne, Indiana is definitely an American city. They are not, however, inclined to name their new facility after their longest-serving mayor:

Despite garnering far more support in an online poll than the thicket of other suggestions, residents shouldn’t expect Fort Wayne’s new government center to be named after the city’s longest tenured mayor.

Deputy Mayor Beth Malloy said naming 200 E. Berry St. the Harry Baals Government Center was “probably not” going to happen.

Harry W. Baals served three terms as Mayor of Fort Wayne, from 1934 to 1947, and a fourth beginning in 1951. (He died from a kidney ailment in 1954.) Maybe they think he has enough of a memorial at Johnny Appleseed Park, located at Coliseum Boulevard and Harry Baals Drive.

Addendum: Noting that in an unofficial city Web poll, Eugene Johnson was running second to Baals, JammieWearingFool asks: “So they could still name the building after a guy named Johnson, but not Baals?”

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And for goodness’ sake, stand up straight

Former NCO and current fashionista Erin offers some ways to polish up your look:

After 8 years in the military, I learned that your boots CAN be too shiny. The right jacket can always pull an outfit together. It is dorky to wear a cap completely straight on your head. All hats look better tilted somewhat rakishly atop your noggin. A little metal and shine on your outfit is almost always a good idea. Keep a little bourbon in your desk drawer. (That’s not really fashion advice, but it’s just good life advice in general. In case of apocalypse, you can trade it for ammo.)

Probably wouldn’t work on zombies, but hardly anything not involving high-velocity projectiles does.

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Hang a right at Normandy

Joan Baez’ hilarious “Time Rag”, from 1977, contains this bit of fantasy:

I scribbled it down on the wall calendar
And wondered about my interviewer
Maybe he’d be just a real nice guy
Bright and sympathetic with a roving eye
We’d forget all about the assignment due
Formalities, photos, and the interview
We’d hop on into his big rent-a-car
Go for a lovely drive, not far … maybe France

Oh, yeah. Right across the Gulf Stream. Fortunately, we have good tires.

And yet the idea still has resonance:

I said, “I’m taking you out to dinner.”

“Great!” he said. “Where?”

“My favorite restaurant,” I said.

“GREAT!!!” he said. “Where?”

“It’s in France,” I said.

He was silent for a moment. “Oh … I guess we won’t be driving.”

“Actually,” I said, “we will.”

Admittedly, I’m still lame enough to think proposing on the Jumbotron is cool, but what the hell: why not drive to France? (They flew to Paris, rented a car, and drove six hours to a little Breton village called Dinan.)

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