We want our ZEV

A chap using the handle “vin7619″ sends some advice to Nissan on how to market the Leaf, an all-electric zero-emissions vehicle:

Don’t be afraid to market to the mainstream by emphasizing handling, acceleration, and comfort. However, to appeal to this much bigger market, you have to make an economic argument and forget the save the world nonsense. Stress lower fuel costs and lower maintenance costs. Fund a survey that compares the costs of an EV versus ICE and throw lower maintenance costs into the equation (I haven’t seen this mentioned yet in comparisons sponsored by the traditional auto makers).

To some extent, Nissan understands this: the most recent print ad I saw for the Leaf was all about torque. (As rival Mazda is wont to say, “Zoom zoom.”) Suggestion: a pitch containing the phrase “fewer moving parts.” Heck, my car has two dozen presumably-pricey valves. Nobody likes replacing parts on modern-day Incomprehensimobiles.

Further suggestion: Since the Leaf is considered a zero-emissions vehicle — yeah, I know, all that electricity comes from a power plant somewhere — the main reason for the infamous Malfunction Indicator Light (aka “Check Engine Light”), failure to meet emissions specs, ceases to exist. If you hate the MIL as much as I do, you’ll see this as a sure-fire selling point.

As for our writer’s motivation, he’s up front about it:

In offering this advice, I’m not being altruistic. I want to see electric cars take over the world so we can tell the loose collection of mental patients in the Middle East to pound sand. I also want to make a lot of money on Nissan stock.

Works for me, at least until my next road trip. Maybe by then they’ll have chargers every few miles.

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She’s on a horse

This is Guinevere van Seenus, a name not even Thomas Pynchon could concoct, in a fairly modest shot:

Guinevere van Seenus

She’s done some decidedly less-modest stuff, such as a Daniel Jackson shoot for Dazed and Confused last October designed, it seemed to me, for maximum levels of creepiness. (Not safe for work, home, barn or basilica.)

If you care, she’s thirty-two and just shy of five foot ten.

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It was the big picture that got small

The shrinking of American education, as seen by Charles Hill (no relation):

When students come to a great university they want to answer big problems. Then they find that the social sciences, especially political science, reduce any problem to a small corner, only taking questions that can be addressed in a way that’s scientific and replicable. “You can only work,” students are told, “on this little thing over here.” That’s not the way education was in the Victorian era or in America in the early part of the twentieth century. But during the upheavals of the sixties, when the curriculum was changed, things got smaller. So as American involvement in the world got larger, our education was shrinking.

I expect to be starting on his Grand Strategies: Literature, Statecraft, and World Order (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010) soon. Those seeking an overview of the man are directed to Molly Worthen’s biography The Man on Whom Nothing Was Lost: The Grand Strategy of Charles Hill (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2005), which I found invaluable.

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Nor can this be unseen

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And speaking of coddled youth

Xavier Henry, drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies this summer, didn’t see any Summer League action:

Henry, on the command of his agent, Arn Tellem, decided to sit out summer league because he couldn’t come to terms on a contract. NBA rookies are slotted into a salary — a number that can be negotiated between 80 and 120 percent.

The Griz are offering Henry 100 percent of the rookie salary and have proposed that the additional 20 percent be earned through bonuses. Griz brass contend the incentives are easily attainable.

However, it has been customary for NBA lottery picks to receive 120 percent of the slotted salary without hurdles to leap.

I suspect this will be addressed in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The Griz want to pay him $1,683,500, with the possibility of $336,700 in easy bonus money; Henry wants it all up front. Either way, he’d be pulling the eighth highest salary on the team. And be it noted that Greivis Vasquez, the #28 pick, for whom rookie scale is a mere $863,300, was present and accounted for in Vegas for Summer League, despite not having signed his contract yet. (Another thing: Vasquez played four years of college ball at Maryland; Henry departed Kansas after one. Make of that what you will.)

Not that Grizzlies management are blameless: if the other 28 first-round picks are getting 120 percent, why are they quarreling over what is, by NBA standards, chump change? It’s hard to imagine that $336k makes that much difference, unless Memphis is fearing the luxury tax. (And given the deal they made with Rudy Gay, they might be.) But Henry can’t hold out too long: if he’s not signed by the 10th of January, the scale is reduced a bit each day thereafter. And if Grizzlies management want to make a fuss, they can renounce him, making him a free agent. Maybe someone else will want him — or maybe not. I dunno. OKC’s Sam Presti, probably even before this incident, would have docked Henry a couple points for attitude, and the fact that he played high-school ball at Putnam City and presumably has a built-in fan base here would count for exactly nothing.

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Your expectations may vary

My late-Sixties route to school: ride with the lady next door, who worked downtown, and walk the remaining three or four blocks.

My late-Sixties route from school: walk half a mile to the city bus stop, take the bus as far as it would go (about seven miles), walk the rest of the way (0.7 mile more).

Okay, it wasn’t uphill in the snow both ways, but it was enough, and occasionally I envied the handful of classmates who actually had cars. And one of them somehow possessed a ’63 Lincoln Continental. He gave me a ride in it once; I don’t think this was the circumstance which led me to whine at God “You know, it wouldn’t have hurt You to have made us rich,” but it could have been.

Which brings us to a more contemporary scene:

Boy: Mom — can I have some money for gas?

Mom: What? I gave you $35 earlier this week.

Boy: But this car needs premium!

I’d say something, but my car usually takes about $35 to fill up. With premium, yes.

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How full is that glass?

Finally, some kind words for the Dodd-Frank Financial Whatever Bill, from Mike Shedlock:

In sharp contrast to medical reform, I cannot come up with any financial reform provisions that make matters substantially worse.

Given the absolute best we could ever expect out of a major piece of legislation supported and promoted by Obama is nothing, and given that nothing was accomplished with no major detriments making matters much worse, the financial reform bill must be considered a stunning success.

Indeed, we should all be thrilled by it.

This is a bit more exuberant than I might expect, but hey, it’s positive, kinda sorta.

(Via Dave Schuler.)

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How to deal with the dealer

Cammy Corrigan tells the story of a friend of hers in the UK:

His mother bought a brand new Honda Civic and in the final month before the 3 year warranty ran out, the alternator gave up. The mother wasn’t angry that such a failing had happened, she just wanted it fixed. But the dealership had other ideas. They weren’t convinced that it was the alternator and they couldn’t look at it until next month. The mother told her son (my friend) this story and the son though it was a bit of a coincidence that the dealership couldn’t look at the car until next month, which happened to be the month that the car came out of warranty. The son bypassed the dealership and wrote a very strongly worded letter to Honda UK (It could have been “extremely worded”. In the first draft, he threatened to run over their testes with a steam roller). Strangely, a week later, the mother received a phone from the dealership saying that they could look at her car, fix whatever needed to be fixed and throw in a free service.

As Ms Corrigan says, “a story with a happy ending.” And all it took was a simple threat to the twig and berries.

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The booze that dare not speak its name

Says so right there on the vodka bottle:

35% Alc. by Vol. (70 Proof)

The numbers may change, but the abbreviations seldom do. Are we too squeamish to spell out “alcohol”? And why do we shorten “volume”? So “alcohol” won’t stand out by being the only word abbreviated?

Note: If I understand things correctly, and there’s always a chance that I won’t, the term “table wine” implies alcoholic content of 7 to 14 percent, the latter figure selected because the Federal excise tax goes up at the 14-percent threshold, though some wine labels give the actual percentage instead.

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Strange search-engine queries (233)

More scrapings from the server logs. We are not, however, planning to tag each of these items with the Body Mass Index of the person who created it; we figure it’s none of your farging business.

transmission failure after service:  But would you have felt better if you’d let it fail and then had it serviced?

How can i start puberty:  Don’t rush it. Hormones will drive you crazy, and frankly, shaving sucks.

chubby gross angels:  It’s those damn cherubim. So anxious to start puberty, they were.

How did GM acquire Cadillac?  Same way most of us do: used.

people who aren’t what they say:  On the Internet? Surely you jest.

cheap magnetic vortex wormhole generator for sale:  It is a measure of how far we’ve come, that the most disturbing word here is “cheap.”

people who puff themselves:  A major source of inflation.

george steinbrenner illuminati:  This explains Billy Martin as well as anything else.

what kind of pantyhose diane chambers wear cheers:  I think we can safely assume that (1) it was pricey and (2) Sam didn’t care about that.

montgomery ward catalog penis:  I think you had to go to Sears for those.

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Spice slightly less old

The überstudly Isaiah Mustafa has done wonders for Old Spice, so much so that even Hitler wants to get into the act. And you know deep in your heart — look into your heart, now back to the screen — that subsequent riffs on this same theme will almost certainly have to suck.

Fortunately, we have that word “almost” to allow for the possibility of a good riff on this theme:

(Via Fritinancy.)

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You got to pick them up just to say hello

Apparently Napoleon had a sister, or something like that:

It’s long been recognised that small men have a greater need to make their mark than tall men but, says psychologist David Lewis, director of research at Mindlab International, height has just as profound an effect on a woman’s character.

“The relationship between a woman’s height and her character is often overlooked and is perhaps more interesting than the more commonly cited ‘Napoleon complex’,” he says. “In evolutionary terms, small women are as favoured as tall men: females between 4ft 9in and 5ft 1in and men who are 6ft 1in or more are the most likely to marry and have children. But the downside of this is that men — and society in general — will often infantilise petite women, underestimating their intelligence, their strength and their ability to perform even the simplest task. Men, it has to be said, do like to be looked up to by their women.”

You can almost see him patting her on the head and saying “There, there.”

Actually, I suspect that the infantilization process is also visited upon women who aren’t short: it’s that whole Weaker Sex thing again, and man will not give it up easily, even after he gets his ass kicked by a girl.

[Lewis] believes that this infantilising of small women can breed a sense of resentment and rebellion that makes them more ambitious and more flamboyant than average-sized females. “It’s likely that being small could result in a woman developing a Tinker Bell complex. Certainly it explains why we have so many famous examples of tiny women who are larger than life,” says Lewis.

If I were resentful, rebellious, and 5’7″, I think I’d be more so, at least as regards those two R words, after being told that my shorter sisters got their own pop-psychology syndrome and I didn’t get squat.

They have something to prove? What, exactly? A couple of decades ago, I briefly dated a woman four foot nine, and while she presumably qualified as “feisty,” a word never applied to anyone over six feet tall except in the National Basketball Association, she didn’t seem particularly disturbed by her height, though I did learn rather quickly to lay off the dwarf jokes already.

And it may even be true that short women are not taken seriously in some circles, though I suspect that average and tall women might not be really taken seriously there either.

Kathy Shaidle, who writes at Five Feet of Fury, dismisses the article as a “puff piece,” and I believe she’s being overly generous. And the not-exactly-towering Andrea Harris notes:

I’ve been short all my life, but I can’t recall anyone ever treating me like an infant. Maybe it’s because once I grew out of my baby fat “adorable” phase I was as thin and straight as a pencil — I notice that tiny women who are treated like dolls have retained certain “cute” features that I did not — and also maybe because I always had my nose in a book.

I was never adorable, but I was never a girl either. (Not biologically, anyway.)

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Activity in the bullpen

I’d file this under “Why didn’t I think of that?” even though, well, I couldn’t even imagine it:

Jason Phillips spotted a woman at Safeco Field last May and knew he had to make a choice: Be bold or be ignored. As the Mariners bullpen catcher, Phillips is used to anonymity, used to spending half the year tucked away in a box with pitchers. It’s a thankless job that he does well and without complaint. But this time, he needed to stand out or risk eternal regret.

He shared a few stares with the woman, who was entertaining business clients. Then he made a promise to the fellas in the ‘pen.

“If we go extra innings, I’m gonna make a move,” Phillips said. “If we go to extra innings, that’s gotta be a sign.”

I suspect he was met with snickers, or worse.

Then came the top of the tenth, and Phillips was good as his word:

Phillips grabbed a baseball, scribbled his number on it, got the woman’s attention and tossed it to her. And for the rest of the game, he was left to wonder how she’d respond. He couldn’t wait to return to the clubhouse and check his messages. Naturally, the game would drag for 15 excruciating innings.

But by then, she had sent him a text message: “My name is Molly. Nice to meet you.”

They got married this summer — in that same bullpen.

(Via GirlHacker.)

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Besides, Avogadro wasn’t picking up

For math help...

(Title explained here. Via Epic Win FTW, which seems a little redundant and/or superfluous when you think about it.)

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More songs in the key of me

These tunes mean a lot to me for reasons you might not have anticipated.

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After drizzle last week, it appears CoTVing in the fog has been decreed by Andrew Ian Dodge for the 382nd Carnival of the Vanities.

And if you’re in Britain and need an automotive fog light, you’ll likely take a type 382 bulb. (We call it the 1156 here in the States for some inscrutable reason.) Try one with LEDs instead of the usual incandescent bulb.

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