Dr. Z administers euthanasia

In May, exactly four Maybach automobiles were sold in the States, which means that you could have seen this coming:

Daimler AG will shut down the super-luxury Maybach brand to end almost a decade of losses from an auto that sells for more than $350,000 when a revamped version of the flagship Mercedes-Benz S-Class comes to market in 2013.

“It would not make sense to develop a successor model,” Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche said in remarks confirmed by Daimler spokesman Marc Binder. “The coming S-Class is in such a way a superior vehicle that it can replace the Maybach.”

Daimler hasn’t made a profit on the Maybach after deciding to reintroduce the 1930s-era marque in 2002, Zetsche said.

The upcoming S-class wouldn’t have to be that much superior, given Jack Baruth’s dismissal of the current Maybach:

It seemed like such a wonderful idea: build a car that combined the styling of the Hyundai XG300, albeit without some of the more tasteful details of that model, and the interior of the thoroughly-reviled W220 S-Class, albeit with carved-wood buttons. Drop a twin-turbo V-12 and some retractable curtains in it. Paint it in two-tone schemes that wouldn’t have passed muster of a ’78 d’Elegance, and charge three hundred grand for it. Oh yeah, name it after a car nobody remembers, just to make absolutely certain there’s no brand equity.

Come to think of it, who in the world actually bought a Maybach? Besides Rush Limbaugh, I mean.

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Quote of the week

Senator John Thune endorsed Mitt Romney for President, citing among other things Romney’s work at organizing the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, prompting this analysis from Smitty:

[H]aving led the Olympics may be the optimal pro-Mitt argument:

  • The Olympics and the U.S. government both claim to be about some idealized notion of humanity, yet mercilessly exploit the youngest segment of society.
  • Both organizations are ruled by a core elite that re-distributes wealth wherever they go.
  • Neither outfit seems to produce anything of actual economic value.

And both tend to produce the maximum level of pomp and circumstance in even-numbered years, now that I think about it.

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M is for Miffed

I was thinking about the BMW 5-series this week, inasmuch as my son owns one from a couple generations before, and since the major motor mags decided to run simultaneous features on the newest version of the M5. Not that I’m really keen to own one of these stern Teutonic sleds, but to the extent that they serve as an automotive benchmark, attention must be paid.

Anyway, Car and Driver had a sidebar on earlier incarnations of the M5, and a throwaway line therein led me to this odd little factoid:

When BMW of North America first announced the E28 M5 in late 1986, production was said to be limited to 500 cars. But by the time production ended in November 1987, however, almost triple that number had been produced. Thus, a class action lawsuit was filed against BMW by E28 M5 owners who claimed that the collector’s value of their cars was diminished by the greater volume. The company settled the case by giving these owners a rebate on the purchase of a new BMW.

Inasmuch as the collector’s value of their cars was diminished by actually driving them, the aggrieved owners — at least, the ones who didn’t seal them up in a bag with a DO NOT OPEN BEFORE XMAS 2012 label — also should have sued themselves. (Other verbs lending themselves to reflexive action suggest themselves.)

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Muskogee on the Hudson

Okay, that’s not happening. However, I do remember this aside from a 2009 thread:

I’m thinking eventually it will all be on the Tulsa grid anyway; several years ago on Route 66, just outside of Bristow, I caught a sign for South 545th West Avenue.

Tulsa, schmulsa. What if it were on the New York City grid? ExtendNY.com calculates the correct Manhattan address, or at least the correct cross streets, for any spot on the globe.

I had no problem locating the palatial estate at Surlywood on 6,915th Avenue, though I wondered how they’d count the east-west streets, since they don’t exist in Manhattan anywhere south of Houston Street. To take care of this little problem, they simply declared South 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and so on, so there are no missing spots in the grid. You’ll find me on South 16,071st Street.

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Zooeypalooza 13!

So I asked myself what I wanted for my birthday, and after many, many microseconds of narrowing it down, I figured I’d knock out a nice, fresh, extra-large (10 pictures!) Zooeypalooza.

Zooeypalooza 13!

Embiggening requires only the merest click.

Paloozas aforethought: ZP 1, ZP 2, ZP 3, ZP 4, ZP 5, ZP 6, ZP 7, ZP 8, ZP 9, ZP 10, ZP 11, ZP 12.

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Pharmville games

The Pre-Death Panel at CFI Care [not its real initials] has been known to express, sometimes quite loudly, its preference for cheaper drugs over more expensive ones — whether or not the cheaper one actually works. I do yell back at them, though:

I paid your absurd five-times-the-price-of-generic copay because this stuff works and there are no generics. Simple as that. Ninety days from now, I’ll be happily paying six times the price, just so I don’t get any more phone calls from you addlepated schmucks.

I am, of course, not the only person who has to deal with this sort of thing:

“We’re declining to pay for that specific prescription because we do not feel it is effective for treatment.”

“The same medication that I have been taking to help control my seizures for the last ten years? That exact same medication? The one you have decided with my excellent medical care in mind is not effective for treatment of my medical condition?”

And since this ought to be repeated:

I do not believe that allowing a computer generated data program to decide that one drug is more effective for treatment than another drug just because it costs twenty five cents less per pill is the best possible treatment for anyone.

We can expect more of this as the government adds its own cost-savings schemes into the mix. In the meantime, she’s paying the inflated price routinely charged to the uninsured. I am minded of P. J. O’Rourke’s dictum: “If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free.”

Disclosure: The stuff I was on eventually went off patent, so I can actually get a generic, about which they don’t fuss in the least. Imagine that.

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Gotta make my mind up, which store shall I shop?

Kohl’s apparently found the composite “Rebecca Black Friday” too hard to resist, and conjured up a commercial that rewrites “Friday” from the point of view of one of those Industrial Strength shoppers who goes straight from the Thanksgiving table to the parking lot outside the store. (They’ve since pulled the video, so this is a Non-Official Copy, for those of you who are concerned about such things.)

The response from the media (and on my Facebook wall) was generally not enthusiastic, though the International Business Times picked it as one of their five best Black Friday ads. And someone landed on Rebecca’s blog asking “OMG CAN THEY ACTUALLY DO THAT?” Um, yes, they can.

Two weeks ago, RB herself dropped in at Google HQ to face an audience of YouTube staff, where she answered questions and generally acted like the bubbly teenaged girl she is. Revelations therein:

  • The main reason she did the “Friday” video in the first place was to get one more item on her CV before eventually going to college.
  • Yes, she does have “Friday” on her iPod, plus a couple of remixes and covers thereof.
  • She’s doing a small voice appearance in an animated film.
  • “Friday” views, even today, spike every Friday:

Friday statistics

For the latter, I blame people like this:

And with the ritual playing of “Friday” by @MsRebeccaBlack, I pronounce this week Over and Done With. #wesoexcited

Meanwhile, tomorrow is Saturday.

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A number of no great importance

Here is the 750th Vent, but that’s not the number I came to talk about.

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Rebel Alliance eludes Death Star

The AT&T/T-Mobile merger isn’t exactly dead, but it’s definitely coughing up something. Oh, wait, that’s dollars:

AT&T will continue to seek antitrust clearance for its merger with rival T-Mobile USA, it said Thursday. However, to reflect the break-up fee it will have to pay T-Mobile’s owner Deutsche Telekom if the deal does not get regulatory approval, AT&T expects to recognize a $4 billion accounting charge in the fourth quarter.

Deutsche Telekom and AT&T have withdrawn the license transfer applications they filed with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, and will instead concentrate on defending against a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice in August to block the deal, AT&T said.

For T-Mo, which would get $3 billion in cash plus a billion worth of spectrum, this might be enough to keep going, though Deutsche Telekom would really, truly, like to unload its American cousin, mired in fourth place in the market and showing few signs of growth — though I have to figure that much of the turmoil at T-Mo of late has been pure merger-based FUD.

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Metadata yesterday

I noted in my review of the Dr. Smith album earlier this week that the CD was too new to be in the Gracenote database, and that I’d semi-laboriously keyed in all that stuff. While I think I got everything correct, I can’t swear to it, and I have to figure that even if I didn’t goof something up on this album, somebody else goofed something up on another.

In several versions of Winamp there is an Auto-Tag function tied to the Gracenote database. Vikram describes it thusly:

Auto-tagging is a feature which was added in Winamp 5.5 and later versions couple of years back. It tags your mp3 files using the Gracenotes CDDB server, doesn’t relies on any kind of meta-data present in file, neither it does uses the file name for this purpose. It can even tag a file correctly even if you rename the file… The feature renames the ID3 tag information of mp3 files automatically with details like Title, Artist, Album name, Year, Genre, etc.

I hadn’t used it before, and I wasn’t planning to use it yesterday, but I got clumsy with my mousing. I had scissored out — some of you may want to cover your eyes — the closing theme from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, all 27 seconds of it, with the idea of evaluating it for ringtone potential. While filling in the blanks in Winamp’s tag editor, I inadvertently hit the Auto-Tag button, and this is the song the database thinks I have. Makes me wonder just what criteria it’s using.

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In for a penny

Remember when penny loafers were more or less flat? Here’s a small change:

Night by Boutique 9

“The wild night is calling your name… Will you be ready? These precocious pumps were made for the deviant diva!” So says the Zappos blurb for “Night” by Boutique 9, which takes the classic look to an unexpected (by me, anyway) height. Deviant? Well, maybe not so much: a four-inch heel, even stacked, isn’t that big a deal anymore, and there’s ¾ inch of platform underneath. All colors, at this writing, are marked down from the original $180, the green — well, it isn’t that green — the most of all. In terms of poundage, figure 0.75.

(Suggested by an InStyle tweet pointing to several such shoes.)

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Although her account wasn’t in arrears

There is plastic surgery, and then there is plastic surgery:

Oneal Ron Morris, 30, was arrested by Miami Gardens police on Friday in Fort Lauderdale and charged with causing bodily injury and practicing healthcare without a license… According to the charge, Morris, acting without a required medical practitioner’s license and starting in May 2010, injected substances into the buttocks of a woman client to improve their “shape and cosmetic appearance.” Morris was allegedly paid $700 for this.

And what was Morris using for this, um, booty enhancement?

“Initial laboratory analysis conducted by medical personnel determined the foreign substances injected into the victim consisted of a host of household and automotive products including superglue, mineral oil and “Fix-a-Flat” (a tire repair material),” Jennifer Hirst, deputy press secretary of Florida’s Department of Health, said in an email.

Fix-a-Flat? No wonder he got nailed.

More victims have come forward since the original charge was made public. I think we can be reasonably certain that Sir Mix-A-Lot was not getting medieval on any of their, um, behinds.

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Vintage cool

Lynn never gets gushy, really, but she seemed rather enthusiastic about this 1956 refrigerator, so I figured I ought to take a look at it:

Kelvinator Foodarama

(Original by Shelf Life Taste Test on Flickr.)

I have to smile at this color, which is something called “Lagoon Blue.” (“No dull earth tones,” notes Lynn.) As you might expect, the Foodarama (and don’t you love that name?) is just packed to the gills with every feature known to civilized man, up to and including a freezer-wrap dispenser (in the freezer door, far left).

Kelvinator isn’t the brand it used to be, and I admit to not knowing a whole lot about it, or about the mysterious process of kelvination. I did know that there was a brief period where automakers and appliance makers were desperate to hook up with one another, Ford with Philco, General Motors with Frigidaire — and Nash with Kelvinator. By 1956, Nash had already been merged with Hudson into American Motors; a decade later, AMC and Kelvinator would go their separate ways.

What I didn’t know, of course, was “Who the hell is Kelvin?” There’s only one Kelvin I’ve ever heard of. Turns out, that’s the guy:

In 1914, engineer Nathaniel Wales introduced his idea for a practical electric refrigeration unit for the home to Edmund Copeland and Arnold Goss. With their help, Wales built and distributed his refrigerating mechanism with great success. Two years later, they changed their company name to Kelvinator in honor of the brilliant British physicist, Lord Kelvin.

Take that, you Sub-Zero snobs! This is the man who gave us absolute zero.

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Social insecurity

You’ve already heard me gripe about Facebook and Twitter. I haven’t mentioned LinkedIn because I know nothing about it other than that a friend of mine can clean up your profile in a matter of — well, actually, I don’t know how long it takes.

Doc Rampage, however, despises LinkedIn:

The site is filled with little traps that make it almost impossible to use it to look for a job without letting your current employer know that you are looking. Add a head hunter as a contact? Your current employer gets an email about it within the week. Ask someone for a recommendation? When you get the recommendation, it shows up on your profile and your boss gets an email about it. You can, if you know about it, hide recommendations that you receive, but the guy who sent you the recommendation can’t hide it from his side. It shows up on his profile also, and if your boss is connected to him, your boss gets the email.

They don’t tell you this stuff. And they keep adding things about you to the list of public information without telling you that they are doing so.

So: Facebook on steroids, basically?

Disclosure: I’ve received a few invitations from Trusted Individuals to sign up, but I really haven’t felt the need to add one more social network to the quotidian mix. This didn’t help.

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Festival of light distilled spirits

Wodka billboardThe Anti-Defamation League, you may be certain, did not find this billboard for Wódka brand vodka all that amusing:

“In a crude and offensive way of trying to make a point that their vodka is high quality and inexpensive, the billboards evoke a Jewish holiday to imply something that is cheap and of lesser value when compared to the higher value of a Christian holiday,” said Ron Meier, ADL New York Regional Director. “Particularly with the long history of anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jews and money, with the age-old notion that Jews are cheap, to use the Jewish holiday in dealing with issues of money is clearly insensitive and inappropriate.”

The vodka distributor later announced that the ads were being pulled.

There has been no announcement from Blavod, which produces an unusual black vodka, regarding any Kwanzaa-themed advertising.

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Insert “controller” joke here

A Utah woman who couldn’t distract her husband from Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare put him up for sale on Craigslist:

Kyle Baddley, a 22-year-old war veteran from Logan, learned this the hard way: After “Modern Warfare” took over most of Baddley’s day, his wife, Alyse, “got tired of waiting” and posted him for sale on the free advertising website “just for fun.”

The wording:

“I am selling my 22-year-old husband. He enjoys eating and playing video games all day. Easy to maintain, just feed and water every 3-5 hours. You must have Internet and space for gaming. Got tired of waiting so free to good home. If acceptable replacement is offered, will trade.”

And were there any offers?

“We didn’t think we would get any responses at all, but we’ve gotten so many,” Alyse said. “Someone even offered a blue bag of Skittles.”

And you know, those blue ones aren’t easy to come by in some places.

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