Finally, some economies of scale

The Chevrolet Volt goes national this fall — dealers in all 50 states are now taking orders, though most of the country won’t see the car until November — and GM has announced that the $41,000 base price will be reduced to $39,995. (The $7500 Federal tax credit continues.) A Volt tricked out with everything on the option sheet will creep into the $46,000 range, assuming the dealers don’t slap a few thousand worth of “market adjustment” onto the sticker, which is a lot to assume.

What no one knows so far is how much real demand there will be for Chevy’s plugmobile once the floodgates are opened. Worst-case scenario is something like what happened with the US version of the smart fortwo: everybody who wanted one got one early, and then sales tanked. About the only thing we can be sure of is that Glenn Beck won’t buy one.

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Heat diffusion

John Hawkins continues to compile these 20 Hottest Conservative Women lists, and while I am not one to turn up my nose at pulchritude generally, there’s one problem built into all such photographic compilations: even if the judges are taking other factors into account, the presentation is so purely visual that the reader, by default, tends to assume that contender #A is better-looking than contender #(A+9).

Neo-neocon, tongue in cheek, noted that she didn’t make the cut, and asks: “[I]s the entire enterprise a heinously ageist and discriminatory plot?” Nothing so complicated as all that. This is standard male sports-bar stuff, on par with “Would the Celtics have sucked so bad in the playoffs if they hadn’t traded Kendrick Perkins?” Since Boston did trade Perk, there’s obviously no way of knowing for sure.

And we don’t know what criteria the judges were using. I suspect Sarah Palin, #9, lost a couple of points for being too close to 50 and for sounding like Hubert Humphrey on helium, but it’s not like they’re going to disclose the methodology or anything. If you gave me the choice of any of them for a dinner date — let’s not presume beyond that — I’m going with Ann Coulter, #17, because I believe the table conversation, once begun, will never flag, and because there’s not a chance in hell she’ll show up in a peasant skirt. Your mileage, of course, may vary.

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In a hurry or something

A little reminder that they make those laws for us, not for themselves:

The N.C. Highway Patrol said Thursday that it will be difficult to investigate an allegation that state Sen. Don East, R-Surry, was driving 145 mph on U.S. 52 during a joyride with state Sen. Stan Bingham, R-Davidson.

Troopers typically must see a driver speeding, and a state law gives legislators immunity from prosecution based on anything they say in the General Assembly, a spokesman said.

Bingham said Monday on the Senate floor that East had taken him on the joyride in East’s muscle car, a Dodge Charger SRT8, according to a report by the News & Observer of Raleigh.

One could argue, I suppose, that East wasn’t even trying that hard. Still, were you or I to hoon around at high velocity and insane enough to say so, well, acceleration has consequences.

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Where is your cod now?

I take back all the horrible things I muttered when I spent seven bucks for a box of fish sticks yesterday:

Biomass of Popularly Eaten Fish

When they say “overfished,” this is what they mean.

(From the Guardian, filtered through GraphJam.)

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Junk under wraps

As I said before this Weiner thing came to a head:

I am reasonably certain that no one has seen it; I am equally certain that no one wants to see it.

[“I often quote myself,” said George Bernard Shaw. “It adds spice to my conversation.” Obviously GBS was meant to blog.]

A reasonably-representative reaction from an eminently-sensible woman active in social media:

Early in my tweeting days, there was a guy who started chatting with me. The conversation moved to DM (direct message, supposedly private) and then to exchanged cell phone numbers and calls. Before I knew it, there at 9:00am one morning came the triple-chime announcing picture mail. I clicked to open and there was naked genitalia winking at me. In unsolicited and ungroomed high definition. Hold up, playa. I don’t know your middle name, your street address or your city of birth yet but I now know more about you than some men I’ve dated! No. Sir.

I suspect this reaction is far more common than “Oh, goody, a picture of a Yugoslavian crotch bugle.”

I mean, come on, people:

At least let me get an adult beverage and half an impure thought going.

It’s only fair.

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He said, somewhat gingerly

Lore Sjöberg finds a yummy metaphor for his CMS travails:

I keep hearing that Drupal can do things that WordPress can’t, but I haven’t reached that point yet. I’ve just reached the point where Drupal can do things WordPress can, but in an incredibly more obtuse and somewhat less reliable way. If Blogger is a pre-assembled gingerbread house, and WordPress is a set of pre-cut gingerbread panels, frosting, assorted decorative candy, and an instruction manual, Drupal is a bag of flour, two eggs and a map to the nearest grocery store.

I once (and once is enough) built a blog on Lotus’ Domino platform, which, extending the metaphor, includes a picture of the old Nutrition Pyramid and a Jack in the Box store-locator app. Trini, more talented than I, actually managed to build one using a WordPress theme in less time than it took me to regrow the hair I pulled out trying to get the variables to work.

And you’ll notice nobody dares mention TypePad.

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Enough to burn your Sedgwick off

Clipped from the National Weather Service’s 3-day history at Wichita, Kansas:

NWS screenshot

This would seem to call for a WTF, but no, it’s not a typo:

[T]he temperature as 1 a.m. neared on Thursday had climbed to 102.

Readings surged 17 degrees in 20 minutes — from 85 at 12:22 a.m. to 102 at 12:42 a.m.

As if 85 after midnight wasn’t bad enough. What the fark happened?

The spike was the result of a heat burst, which occurs when dry air plummets to the Earth’s surface as a thunderstorm collapses, meteorologists said. As the air nears the ground, it heats dramatically.

They’re not kidding about “dry air,” either. That column next to the temperature is the dew point, which dropped from the middle 60s to the upper 20s. That’s a relative humidity on the order of seven percent. You might as well send your sinuses to Arizona.

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Ed Kelley moves on

Will the Black Tower ever be the same again?

Ed Kelley, a veteran journalist and award-winning editor and reporter, has been named the new editor of The Washington Times.

Mr. Kelley, who is leaving his post as editor of The Oklahoman in Oklahoma City, will oversee both news and opinion content for Washington Times Media, a multi-platform news organization focused on exclusive reporting and compelling conservative opinion. He assumes his duties July 1.

I tweeted the Oklahoman article on Kelley’s impending departure to Robert Stacy McCain, who spent about a decade at the Times; McCain deemed it “a good ‘heartland’ choice,” presumably suggesting that the last thing the #2 D.C. daily needed was Yet Another Beltway Insider in charge of the newsroom.

What I’m not clear on is what the #1 OKC daily needs. My initial thought was “Where is Stan Tiner when you need him?” (Answer: He’s running the Sun Herald down in Biloxi.) Tiner was named Executive Editor of the Oklahoman in 1999, prompting this remark from me:

From the looks of things, Tiner has issued two commands: “Make this paper look less like a throwback to the 1950s,” and “Get this paper’s perceived politics out of the 1850s.”

Those things eventually became the rule, but not on Tiner’s watch; Edward L. Gaylord, after all, was still alive. And maybe that was the problem: for most of its existence, the Oklahoman has been run by someone named Ed, and Stan Tiner, through no fault of his own, was not named Ed.

So OPUBCO can’t fill this slot in-house, unless Mike Shannon changes his name by deed poll. I’m pretty sure Ed Driscoll isn’t interested in the position, though it’s an even safer bet he won’t be asked.

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It gets me every time

I might adore this dress even if it were being worn by someone other than Shania Twain, but this image, to borrow a phrase, impresses me much:

Shania Twain at 2011 Juno Awards

Though I must include this quip by Heather of the Fug Girls:

This looks a bit like it rained caviar on her. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Especially, you know, if she were going to be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Which she was.

For those who keep track of that sort of thing, the dress is by Zuhair Murad, the jewels by Mark Lash.

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It’s the Flashing Sky Carnival of the Vanities, the 425th in the series.

I couldn’t tell you about the atmospheric conditions when Raban Gamliel VI, the last head of the Sanhedrin, shuffled off this mortal coil in AD 425, but given the nature of their contribution to Biblical history, a flashing sky might not be all that inappropriate.

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I’m not gonna crack

And don’t credit the drinking water for that, either:

Researchers from the Medical University of Vienna compared the suicide rates in different regions of Austria with the natural lithium concentrations in the drinking water.

The study, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, analysed a sample of 6,460 lithium measurements and then compared suicide rates across 99 districts. In the 10 most lithium-depleted regions in Austria, the suicide rate was 16 per 100,000, but in the 10 most lithium-rich regions the suicide rate was just 11 per 100,000.

Not such a huge difference, really. It would be easier, I suspect, to bring back Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda, a drink sold in the US from 1929 through the 1940s, at which time the government ordered the removal of lithium from soft drinks. By then, though, the name of the product had been changed to the less-unwieldy “7Up.”

(Via Hit Coffee.)

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I am only an egg

Donna has sworn off online dating and such:

The one thing I need to determine is where do healthy, well-adjusted, single men in the 38-42 age range, who are not afraid of commitment, congregate? Grief Counseling for Widowers? Single Father Support Groups?

This was always my problem in the past. They are out there … but where? And before anyone suggests it, I am going to hold off on online dating until I have to do it. The men on those sites are jerks and if there is a good one in their midst, I don’t have the patience to sift through the garbage. Besides, I am questioning my ability to tell good eggs from bad eggs.

Before you ask: when I met her, I was coming up on 52. And there’s that whole thousand-miles-apart thing, not to mention my occasional tendencies toward jerkitude.

Still, I continue to ask: “Why aren’t the guys lined up at her door yea deep? Did beautiful, smart and funny suddenly become disqualifiers?”

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Faster than unleaded

It seems to me that a lot of the so-called “range anxiety” associated with electric cars might be due to the fact that it takes so long to recharge them: There’s a quick (30-minute) charger for Leafs (Leaves?) at Nissan dealerships in Japan, but it costs a dealer upward of $15,000, so it’s not really an investment for civilians. Besides, at the slowest gas station I know, I can fill up my current car in nine minutes or so.

Which statistic, if this pans out, won’t impress (or depress) anyone with an electric car anymore:

Mr. Kanno of the Japanese company Energy Use Technology Research K.K. has reportedly received a patent for a system that can charge a typical electric vehicle in about five minutes. Five minutes, you ask? Yes. Five minutes.

Mr. Kanno’s breakthrough idea … came when he realized recharging was ultimately limited by the capacity of the electrical cables. Therefore, Mr. Kanno’s patented technology constantly collects electrical power from the grid and delivers it to plug-in vehicles in a five-minute burst.

Must be some humongous capacitors in there somewhere. (Or not; “electrical engineer” is yet another position for which I am not qualified.)

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Quote of the week

We’re just totally bifurcated this week, so we’re nominating two pieces, one of which was short enough to be a tweet.

In the longer item, Sonic Charmer predicts the Presidential election:

I fully expect President Obama to still be President Obama in 2013 and will be surprised by any other outcome. In fact the thought of him losing re-election is almost (not quite, but almost) inconceivable to me. Why would he lose? Economy etc. aside, President Obama is doing precisely what the country elected him to do, which is to be President while being a slick, photogenic, skinny guy with a darkish skin hue. That is the only reason he was elected and therefore, empirically, that is what the country wanted him to do. And in no way shape or form has he fallen short of that mandate, nor does he threaten to any time in the foreseeable future.

And in a related issue, Dan McLaughlin, @baseballcrank, offered the following wisdom:

I do not believe today’s news changes the odds that Newt Gingrich will be the next President of the United States.

You heard it here — well, twenty-ninth or thirtieth, actually, but certainly not first.

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It’s not Friday without R.B.

Katy Perry knows the importance of Friday; in an April concert, she broke into an acoustic version of Rebecca Black’s hit song, and to my knowledge didn’t get a single death threat from the audience.

Rebecca Black in Last Friday NightWhich doesn’t mean that it was inevitable, exactly, that Katy, in her guise as unblissfully geeked-out “Kathy Beth Terry” — remind me to ask Chris Gaines how that works out — would put out a song called “Last Friday Night,” but you have to figure that she could hardly resist the idea of giving America’s second-favorite thirteen-year-old girl a cameo in the teaser video.

Then again, said teaser video contains both a barf scene and a digitally-blurred wardrobe malfunction, because, after all, this is Katy Perry, who was last seen shooting whipped cream from her bazoomage. You could call it PG-13 — parental guidance suggested for viewers the age of Rebecca Black — and maybe you’d be right.

Meanwhile in Durant, Oklahoma, the local Walmart set up an endcap display of cereal and cereal bowls. Gotta have ’em.

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Fark blurb of the week

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