Corn squeezings

Venture capitalist and biofuels fan Vinod Khosla has soured on corn-based ethanol fuels:

[T]he tragedy is that corn ethanol has lead to a general perception in the media that all biofuels are the same, and has soured the nation on all biofuels to the point where we are ready to throw the baby (cellulosic next-gen fuels) out with the bath water.

Damn shame we can’t run cars on bath water. But a bigger shame is this:

[A]n Iowa State report estimates that allowing the [subsidy] to expire would result in the loss of approximately 400 jobs; preserving it means an estimated annual cost of $15M a year for each direct job.

A better use of $15 million: fixing engines ruined by the stuff.

This is just one more reason why I continue to believe that the proper place for ethanol is in one’s shot glass.

(Via AutoblogGreen.)

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We have a wiener

Once in a while it pays to read those little Legal Notices hiding in the news hole:

In accordance with Title 37, Section 527, Dicks Entertainment Investments, Inc., 7901 S. Eastern Ave., a Corporation, hereby publishes notice of his intention to apply within sixty days from this date to the Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission for a Mixed Beverage License under authority of and in compliance with the said Act. That it intends, if granted such license to operate as a Mixed Beverage establishment with business premises located at 7901 S. Eastern Ave., Oklahoma City, OK 73149 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, under the business name of Little Dicks Halfway Inn.

Subtle. Also not exactly unique.

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Confirm or ignore

National Review Online’s Michael Knox Beran, on Time’s selection of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as Person of the Year:

Electronic community has its virtues, but the morbid craving for it evident in the success of Facebook reveals the degree to which actual community has collapsed in much of the West. A multitude of causes have brought the civilization closer to Tocqueville’s prophecy of the last democratic man, shut up in “the solitude of his own heart,” but among these the war a number of our elites have waged against traditional town-square culture is surely not the least. Social planners have gradually eviscerated the agora sanctuaries which once brought people together in face-to-face community: they have replaced the rich artistic culture of the old market square with Le Corbusier-style functionality; they have marginalized its spiritual traditions; they have supplanted its charitable institutions with dehumanizing social bureaucracies; and they have made its schools, the transmitters of its ancient civic culture, ever more morally and culturally vacuous.

But, you know, they’re social, and that’s all that counts. It explains why they rail against homeschooled children: “insufficiently socialized,” or some such nonsense. And their apparent goal — a society where everyone, black, white, red, yellow, brown, and presumably paisley, can all meet at an upscale cafe and complain about George W. Bush — strikes me as more than a little bit unambitious.

Still, that’s the charm of Facebook: if you want to appear to be taking a stand, which these days is far more important than actually taking a stand, all you have to do is Like something. I keep bugging Zuckerberg to add a Revile function, but so far he’s ignored me. Fine way to treat a fellow Person of the Year winner.

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Swine waste and noxious weeds

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Rockets glared at

The Oklahoma City game plan, it seems, was to give the Rockets, on the second night of a back-to-back, an opportunity to fizzle early. Houston declined: they fought to a 31-31 tie after the first quarter. So the Thunder slowly ratcheted up the defense, holding the Rockets to 25 points in the second quarter and 20 in the third. Houston recovered a bit in the fourth, but didn’t gain any ground, and the Thunder won it 117-105.

Telltale statistic: Rockets guard Kevin Martin made seven of 14 shots — five of seven from beyond the arc — but bricked three out of six free throws. That’s pretty much the kind of night Houston had: things would work for a while, and then they wouldn’t. The Rockets didn’t lack for offense firepower, what with five players in double figures and twenty-two trey attempts, but they pulled down only 28 rebounds. And Shawn Battier, normally able to thread his way through anything the Thunder can throw at him, was held to five points.

When the Thunder can shoot, they win, and tonight they could shoot: 57.7 from the floor, seven of 11 from the outskirts. Add 28 free throws (in 29 attempts), and you have the makings of a near-blowout. Kevin Durant hit 12 of 18 for 32 points; Jeff Green added 21 and Russell Westbrook 17 more. But the real delight was seeing Thabo Sefolosha knocking down a season-high 15 points to go with his nine rebounds.

Mullens Report: Byron played five minutes. He did not score, but he reeled in four boards, two off the offensive glass, and committed no fouls.

The Kings will be in town Friday night. The ailing Tyreke Evans is ailing no more: he rang up 22 points in a loss to the Hornets tonight, so we’ll have to deal with him.

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First Stahl to the left

There exists a poster of some sort, popular in right-of-center circles, which argues something to the effect that Our Babes are more babelicious, or something, than Their Babes.

I’ve never quite bought into that particular premise, though I’m willing to entertain theories why it might be so, or not so. At the moment, I’m leaning toward P. J. O’Rourke’s argument (in Parliament of Whores), quoted here:

[T]here were hardly any beautiful women at the [Housing Now!] rally. I saw a journalist friend of mine in the Mall, and he and I pursued this line of inquiry as assiduously as our happy private lives allow. Practically every female at the march was a bowser. “We’re not being sexist here,” my friend insisted. “It’s not that looks matter per se. It’s just that beautiful women are always on the cutting edge of social trends. Remember how many beautiful women were in the anti-war movement twenty years ago? In the yoga classes fifteen years ago? At the discos ten years ago? On Wall Street five years ago? Where the beautiful women are is where the country is headed,” said my friend. “And this,” he looked around him, “isn’t it.”

That said, there are women associated with the left who are aging gracefully, thank you very much, and here’s one of them:

Lesley Stahl in 2008

This is 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl, at a New York confab shortly after the 2008 election, shortly before her 67th birthday. And without the blur filter turned on, either.

Addendum: On the other hand, Valley of the Shadow would rather see her sacked.

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Hey, I just work here

There exists a LiveJournal called “Customers Suck,” dedicated to the proposition that customers, um, suck. One of the less-anguished plaints therein, from a barista:

I am a tall, blue-eyed, curvy, freckled, white with an extra helping of pale, Scottish/Irish-descended, Canadian-born young woman.

In light of the above, please stop shouting at me in Mandarin.

For some reason, this reminded me of Steve Martin’s ancient tale about American tourists in France who, in an effort to make themselves understood, spoke English with what they thought was a French accent. Amazingly, this did not work; it’s like those French have a different word for everything.

(Plucked from the Booth Babe’s blogroll.)

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+6 Brazen

As seen on Yahoo! Answers:

I need to make a fake copy of an webpage via source code so I can edit my grade.?

I jus want to go view source and then save it in notepad as a .html file so that I can open it and it can look like a real webpage and so I can print it out and show my parents my improved page. I tried it but the pictures didn’t come up. Someone please help or tell me if theres an easier way. Thanks..

Best answer so far:

It never fails to amuse me how much work someone will do to avoid doing work.

Technically this isn’t plagiarism, I suppose, since he’s presumably not supposed to turn in a Web page as an assignment, but it’s reprehensible enough for me to believe that this guy will have a highly-successful career in American politics.

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Priced accordingly

Aaron Robinson’s preview (Car and Driver, 1/11) of the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport — as though the original were insufficiently sporty — contains the following factoid:

A set of the Super Sport’s special Michelin tires cost $42,000 and may withstand 10,000 miles if you’re careful, though they last only 15 minutes at the car’s [258-mph] top speed (at that pace, however, the 26.4-gallon tank is sucked dry in just 10 minutes, and there’s no place on Earth to safely go that fast that long anyway, so no worries). At the third tire replacement, Michelin requires that you also swap out the $69,000 wheels — coincidentally, the only wheels that fit these tires — to insure a proper bead seal.

Actually, this doesn’t seem disproportionate; the Veyron costs about 80 times as much as my car did when it was new, and those tires cost about 80 times as much as I paid for my current Dunlop SP Sport Signatures. On the other hand, they’ve lasted about 30,000 miles so far, and they’ve never (well, hardly ever) been run at triple-digit speeds.

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O Taonenbaum

Fed up with the whole “holiday” season? It’s a yin-yang conflict:

Taoist philosophy conceptualizes universal balance in terms of yin and yang, complementary forces that govern the universe. Yin characteristics are cool, wet, slow, feminine, and quiet, whereas yang is the opposite: warm, dry, fast, masculine, extroverted. Winter, the yin season, is a time for storing and conserving energy in the way a bear retains fat by hibernating, or a farmer stores food for the cold months ahead.

In agrarian cultures, people spend the shortest, darkest days indoors by the fire, eating warm, slow-cooked, nourishing food and sharing stories with their families. The incongruity between winter’s restful, introspective, yin nature and the frenetic way many Americans spend their holidays can contribute to seasonal affective disorder, depression, exhaustion, and other manifestations of what is known in [traditional Chinese medicine] as shen (or spiritual) disharmony.

I suppose I could argue that I have no trouble retaining fat during the holidays, but I’m actually down about 10 lb from this summer, the intrusion of Thanksgiving notwithstanding.

Still, there’s always been something a trifle disquieting about this whole Get Happy, Dammit exercise, which up to now I’ve been willing to ascribe to good old S.A.D. I’d much rather blame it on mass psychosis.

And I’m apparently not the only one who sees something askew here:

Dark months = rest and recharge … and American holidays SOOOO go against what we’re programmed by NATURE to do. Now that I think about it, I don’t know anyone who feels any better, or more peaceful, or more whole, or recharged, or fulfilled after the Turkey Day-Xmas-New Year’s blitz. Do you?

Not me. We’ll say we do, for the sake of appearances, but I suspect rather a lot of us resent the hell out of having this whole cavalcade of conviviality shoved up our yin-yangs.

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You’re throwing away those genes?

Robert Stacy McCain, in the process of providing coverage, if you will, of the unraveling of The Playmate Formerly Known As Angela Dorian, adds this supplemental commentary:

I’m pretty sure she’s not anybody’s mom. It’s a familiar tragedy of Hollywood, which draws in these stunningly beautiful women who, due to the pressures of the industry or the medical consequences of the hedonistic lifestyle, so often end up childless. Thus whatever hereditary factor there is in such remarkable beauty (and it is substantial) reaches a Darwinian dead-end and the future of humanity becomes slightly uglier.

Let’s face it: The poor and ugly are always going to make their fair share of genetic contributions to the future. If the rich and beautiful don’t keep pace, we’re on an inexorable slow-motion descent to universal ugliness and poverty.

A veritable Socialist Heaven. If nobody is wealthier and nobody is prettier, nobody has anything to complain about, ever again.

Were such a society actually to exist, you’d give it six months, maybe, before good old Human Nature reasserted itself and knocked it to its knees. Which, now that I think about it, is precisely the right location for it.

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Don’t try this with a basilica

“Separated at birth?” asks Marjorie Ingall. Let’s take a look:

This is the Quadracci Pavilion of the Milwaukee Art Museum, completed in 2001:

Quadracci Pavilion - Milwaukee Art Museum

Architecture buffs may recall this as Santiago Calatrava’s first project in the US.

Calatrava doesn’t usually work at this scale, though:

Shoe by Tea Petrovic

The shoe is by Tea Petrovic, and it is indeed inspired by Calatrava. Dezeen has a gallery of Petrovic’s designs for your perusal.

How well this sort of thing holds up, I couldn’t tell you, though the Quadracci has been standing for nine years without incident.

(Dick Stanley sent this along. Thank you, sir.)

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I’m calling Muad’Dibs on this one

Not that I think it would actually work or anything:

“Is that Shai-Hulud, the life-giving spice-producing god-worm, in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?”

This has been just one of more than a dozen SF/Geek Pickup Lines from Miss Cellania.

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Epic faille

I have yet to see Black Swan. However, I would not be particularly astounded to see Natalie Portman dance her way into an Oscar® nomination, possibly even a win, simply because of all the historical precedent:

Portman’s the subject of a lot of Oscar buzz, perhaps because Academy members realized that while it’s OK to nominate an actress for playing a well-adjusted, compassionate and strong woman character like Sandra Bullock’s Leigh Ann Tuohy now and again, the actual Oscar is supposed to go to a woman who’s losing her mind, already lost her mind or is a prostitute or stripper. They need to get back on track, and although Portman doesn’t hit the Theron trifecta, [director Darren] Aronofsky included several scenes with Portman as well as Portman and costar Mila Kunis that offer plenty of titillation for the discerning Oscar voter.

I am told that a few such actually exist.

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Presumably WTF was taken

It’s a file format called WWF:

The WWF format is a PDF that cannot be printed out. It’s a simple way to avoid unnecessary printing. So here’s your chance to save trees and help the environment. Decide for yourself which documents don’t need printing out — then simply save them as WWF.

On my last day at the office, I should probably set that as the default. There would be wailing and gnashing of teeth on a grand scale. (In fact, any day I might do that would be de facto my last day at the office.)

One of Tim Blair’s readers isn’t taking this lying down:

If I ever get a file like this, I am going to screenshot it, print in triplicate, take a few photos of it, print out the photos, put them in a large envelope and airmail the envelope to the person who sent it to me.

Postage due, I assume.

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Meanwhile in the red-light district

Up to now, very few Christmas songs have had much Sting to them.

(With thanks to Deb S.)

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