Niche marketing

Motor Trend’s Jonny Lieberman, on a vehicle I have yet to see in the flesh sheet metal:

I was in New York when Caddy revealed the CTS-V Sport Wagon last year. I remember popping my head inside the vehicle, spying the six-speed manual, turning to a P.R. flack, and saying, “A manual? Are you nuts? You’re going to sell 17 of these.” His straight-faced reply: “Oh, 17 would be great — we’re projecting four.

This wouldn’t be the lowest-selling version of a production model by any means, but it seems just slightly disheartening — until it dawns on me that if the supply is that limited, more than perfunctory demand will force the transaction price up a bit.

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Make mine a double

Mark Alger proposes a most timely new drink:

The Osama: two shots and a splash.


What, too soon?

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Decidedly off-center

Sister Wolf finds some Tumblr profiles in which people describe themselves as “eccentric,” and that’s just wrong:

My feeling is, you don’t describe yourself as eccentric. That’s a conclusion made about you by someone else. It just seems unseemly. Like calling yourself ‘classy,’ it’s kind of a self-negating word.


Naturally my husband failed to see the problem. I explained that actual eccentrics would not describe themselves as such. They tend to take no notice of how odd they are, but rather to find others baffling. The most eccentric people I’ve ever known would never describe themselves that way. Therefore, almost by definition, these self-described eccentrics are just being pretentious.

Now while I was growing up — perhaps this was a regional variation — people were dubbed “eccentric” if (1) they met the criteria for eccentricity and (2) they were tolerably well-off; “eccentric” plus “impecunious” equaled “weird,” or worse. Describing oneself as eccentric, however, was simply not done; instead, the, um, wackjob would point to his “eclectic interests,” and if he invoked the old square-peg metaphor, his intonation would drip with contempt for those mundane old holes, round as they were. So “pretentious” does seem to fit.

Which leaves me without a word for me, but I figure that if I need one, all I have to do is ask.

Update: Minor insertions here and there, but mostly there.

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Doing that scrapyard thing

So the game plan seemed to be this: confine Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, and otherwise let the chips fall. Inasmuch as Z-Bo and Marc came up with fifty-odd points on Sunday, this made a whole lot of sense on paper, but the hard part would be actually delivering. Not a problem: with six and a half minutes left, the Thunder were up by 21, and while the Griz weren’t about to let that go unanswered — Memphis went on a 22-7 run to close to within six — Randolph and Gasol were held to 28, mostly from the charity stripe. (Between them, they shot 5-22.) So the Thunder even the series at 1-1 with a 111-102 win, with God knows what kind of street fight looming at the FedEx Forum Saturday night.

Mike Conley, noting that he wasn’t getting much attention, responded with a barrage of treys and long twos, finishing 10-15 with 24 points. And O. J. Mayo, apparently becoming used to his new sixth-man role, led the Griz bench with 16. Memphis did some serious rebounding — 38, 13 offensive, versus 34/7 — and collected 17 points from 16 Thunder turnovers. But they had sixteen of their own, giving up 20 points.

The Thunder somehow shot 52.8 percent, despite taking seven fewer shots than the Griz; even more inexplicable, they hit eight of 14 treys. (Eric Maynor got three of them; the only one he missed was a midcourt last-second shot to end the first half.) Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook showed a little more efficiency tonight, 17 of 38 for their 50 points, but the bench picked up 48 points, about three times what they got on Sunday. James Harden, despite not hitting the long ball, still rolled up 21.

So there will be a Game 5 at the Round Barn. But two games in Memphis come first, and Memphis crowds, now that Memphis has crowds, can be quite intimidating. We shall see.

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Should you hanker for an anchor

María Celeste Arrarás hosts a daily Telemundo program called Al Rojo Vivo, which means, more or less, “Red Hot.” It’s technically a reference to the news being covered, not the person covering it, but you couldn’t prove it by me:

María Celeste Arrarás

At eleven, she won three medals at the seventh Central American and Caribbean Swimming Championship; a case of mononucleosis kept her out of the Olympics. And that’s the 1976 Olympics; she was born in 1960. You can do the math if you like.

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Andrew Ian Dodge, declared candidate for the Senate, knows he can’t just breeze into the seat — which is a shame, since the title of the current Carnival of the Vanities, the 419th, suggests that there’s a gale going on.

Far from Dodge’s perch in Maine is the Roanoke Valley of Virginia, where Lewis Gale Physicians operates a clinic on Route 419.

(Sorry to disappoint those of you who were expecting aspersions to be cast upon Nigerian scammers.)

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Abdication postponed

The Sacramento Kings, next year, will be called — the Sacramento Kings:

The Sacramento Kings will remain in town for at least one more season to give Mayor Kevin Johnson a chance to follow through on his promise of a new arena.

The Kings had been considering a move to Anaheim, Calif., after several failed efforts to build a new arena in Sacramento, but they decided to give Johnson one more shot.

“The mayor of Sacramento has told the NBA relocation committee that he will have a plan for a new arena within a year,” co-owner Joe Maloof said Monday. “If not, the team will be relocated to another city.”

State government has no money, but announced they’d step up to help:

Four California lawmakers, including the leader of the state Senate, sent a letter to NBA Commissioner David Stern last week pledging to work with local leaders over the next year to try to build a sports and performing arts complex to replace the Kings’ outdated arena.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, a Democrat from Sacramento, said he would use his clout to make sure his district gets its share of state bond money that could go to build the complex.

Personally, I think Lakers owner Jerry Buss ought to kick in a few million: the longer he can keep the Kings from moving to Anaheim, the more his cable-TV contract with Time Warner will be worth.

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Let there be extra napkins

Young Naturists and Nudists of America will be holding a Booze N Schmooze on Saturday night, May 14, “9:30pm-2ish,” in the Financial District.

The dress code:

Enough clothes to get yourself there! Just make sure you don’t go naked on the subway. They don’t like that.

The thought of being nude on any form of mass transit, with the possible exception of a private rail car, tends to push my squick buttons. Still, I have to wish them well, and I hope that wherever they land, the A/C isn’t cranked up to the max.

(From Refinery29 via this TravelingAnna tweet.)

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And don’t call them techettes

When it gets down to zeroes and ones, X and Y don’t matter:

Computer Science is about the flow of information, especially as represented in binary form. There are precisely zero hormones involved. If it happens that fewer daughters are inclined toward the study, Then So Be It. If I ever have a daughter who wants to hack, I’ll cheerfully do a Linux From Scratch project with her.

Having hung out a lot on Slashdot before drifting into blogging, I can say that the gender bias actually favors any interested women. Actual skillz demonstrated will crush the occasional bit of chauvinism.

Having seen such skillz in action, I must concur. When Trini left us for warmer, or anyway more sanitary, climes, she won a promotion over several hardware guys for the simple reason that she was better at it and could prove it. For that matter, she was better at it than I was. And being more interested in getting the job done than in finding ways to prop up my ego, I had no problem deferring to her judgment. I suspect that the men she passed on the ladder have gotten used to it by now — and too bad if they haven’t.

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Toward a post-TSA world

Will the peasants finally be revolting?

I wonder if public support, such as it ever was, for the more intensive security practices at airports and courthouses, will begin to evaporate altogether after this. You and I know bin Laden’s now-documented assumption of room temperature doesn’t eliminate the danger, but the checkpoints and scanners and patdowns are 99% theater anyway and the improvement to safety isn’t anywhere near proportional to the extent to which it annoys people and makes them less likely to subject themselves to it.

The airlines, of course, can go perform various unnatural acts with my blessing, and perhaps yours as well. But government buildings are a different story:

A free country in which people are discouraged from attending public trials or the meetings of legislative bodies, isn’t a free country.

Normally this is where one inserts the “or the terrorists have won” boilerplate, but I’m going to exercise a modicum of restraint. I might even refrain from sending a Maxim gift subscription to Ayman al-Zawahiri.

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Blown away

A reader sends a question to Glenn Reynolds:

I just do not get it. For how long have Americans known about Tornado Alley? For how long have they known that a typical house would not withstand a once-in-20-years tornado, much less a worse one?

And yet houses are still built of clapboard and a couple of two-by-fours. Just like New Orleans is being rebuilt just where it used to be, because that worked out so well the first time around.

To which the Instant Man replied:

Even in Tornado Alley, the likelihood that any particular house will ever be hit by a tornado in its lifetime is pretty low. (Also, brick and stone construction, while good for tornadoes, is bad for earthquakes; wood-frame buildings actually do better there.) And basically nothing except quasi-fortified structures will withstand an EF4 or EF5 tornado.

The most significant storm of the 1999 Oklahoma outbreak, which sent funnels as far east as Tennessee, was a single F5 that started near Amber and didn’t lift until Midwest City, still packing F4 winds. (By the time it got to my neighborhood, I think it had just barely dropped into the F3 range.) The storm took out about 8,000 buildings, which sounds like a lot, but that’s over a sixty-mile stretch.

I am reasonably certain that another F5 would scrape my little frame house right off its slab. As it stands, though, the worst I’ve seen so far was from a hailstorm last year, which caused about $10,000 damage to the roof but left the house pretty much intact. Certainly nothing that happened then would have motivated me to move away.

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As I take my cootie shot is the project of these three excellent babes:

Founders of Hello Giggles

More specifically:

Founded by actress/musician Zooey Deschanel, producer Sophia Rossi and blogger/web personality Molly McAleer, is the ultimate entertainment destination for smart, independent and creative females. Everything hosted on the site will be lady-friendly, so visitors need not worry about finding the standard Boys Club content that makes many entertainment sites unappealing to so many of us.

There are moments when I revel in fratboy humor, and moments when I am utterly appalled by it. (And sometimes, yes, those moments are adjacent to one another.) Their first piece, a three-minute spot for Teleflora, is cutely whimsical, and I have a high tolerance for whimsical cuteness, which gives me another excuse to keep an eye on HelloGiggles.

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You don’t know me

In fact, they won’t even let me tell you who I am:

An Arab banquet waiter at the legendary Waldorf-Astoria hotel says he was forced to wear different name tags at work to prevent guests from being frightened by being served by someone named Mohamed.

Mohamed Kotbi, born in Morocco, has worked for the Waldorf for twenty-six years, and this apparently wasn’t a problem until shortly after 9/11. After complaining to the EEOC, he was given a tag with his last name: “Kotbi.” And then:

This past November, however, he was given a name tag that said, “Edgar.” Kotbi said he complained and was told by a manager, “It’s better to be Edgar than Mohamed today.”

You’d almost think the Waldorf was outsourcing their banquet work to Bangalore, home of Steve and Debbie and a whole lot of other people who don’t sound like they’d be named Steve or Debbie.

Kotbi is now suing, charging that the hotel’s finagling has created a “hostile work environment” in which co-workers are regularly mocking him.

(Via Fark.)

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Accept no substitutes

It’s a “customer-service nightmare,” says danah boyd, but it’s also the harbinger of something that has the potential to be far nastier:

I threw a public hissy fit when I found out that Tumblr’s customer service had acted on a trademark request from a company called Zephoria who had written them to ask that they release my account to them. (Tumblr has since apologized and given me my identity back.) In some ways, I feel really badly for Tumblr — and all other small social media companies — because brokering these issues is not easy. In fact, it’s a PITA. Who has the legitimate right to a particular identity or account name? What happens when the account is inactive? Or when the person who has the account is squatting? Or when there are conflicting parties who both have legitimate interests in an account name? Or when the account owner has died?

Trademark law, of course, is an impenetrable thicket in and of itself, and J. Random Blogger, or whoever, is not likely to be able to thread her way through it. And the result is fairly predictable:

There are all sorts of people roaming around the internet, building their reputations and associating them with nicknames, handles, and pseudonyms. They aren’t necessarily building businesses or engaging in commercial acts, but they are building a public reputation no less. And there are also all sorts of companies out there operating as individuals to give their consumers a sense that they are “authentic.” And these two practices are colliding online. When is a Twitter/Tumblr/Facebook/YouTube account an individual? When is it a company? When is it an individual at a company? They’re all meshed into one TYPE: account. So then who has precedence?

Time was, I wrestled with the temptation to register on every new service that pops up, just to reserve the name, or more precisely to keep it out of the hands of Someone Unworthy, lest said someone’s antics tar my reputation. This thinking almost certainly informed my decision to set up my official Backup Blog at But I eventually figured out that there’s no way I can keep up with everything that comes along, and I really don’t want to go through life with the ™ — or worse, the ® — affixed to everything I say and everything I do.

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Always wondered about the North Shore

This won’t make me feel any better about it:

House in Swampscott

Must be all that botulism.

(Via Criggo.)

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Strange search-engine queries (274)

It’s time once more to thumb our way through the week’s logs and see what the search-based community thinks is important. As is the case in real life, the weirdos get all the attention.

muskrat bit dogs tongue:  And yet people insist that there’s something called “muskrat love.” Dogs know better.

is 2001 mazda 626 the same as 2002 mazda 626:  Most of the time, the only part that doesn’t match up is going to be the one part you need.

“the injection” panties:  Much easier to take them orally.

can a humvee climb a mountain:  I do hope you’re not in a hurry.

nudist resorts for african americans:  Good luck persuading them that they’d look better with a tan.

“we sell bladeless knives without handles:”  It’s like carbon credits, only more substantive.

how to get checkers to stop a naked indian induced trance:  Jump three rows, receive your king, and then throw a bladeless knife with no handle.

smart man smattering woman affair:  I can’t help you there; my experience with affairs is a smattering at best.

pat robertson donated out of personal wealth:  Mostly from funds donated from other people’s personal wealth, I’d expect.

how is climate change detected:  There are two accepted indicators: (1) when the weather seems different; (2) when the weather seems exactly the same.

Bizarre Search Engine Searches:  You’re soaking in them.

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