Now they tell me

Magazine ad

From Modern Mechanix, October 1936, page 148.

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A test of my own personal greed

Even if they are giving me a hell of a price break, I’m still annoyed by their presumption:

To prevent an interruption in service, you must return the attached renewal form by the May 2 cutoff date.

As part of the preferred subscriber continuous service program, you will receive uninterrupted delivery of [magazine name redacted] unless you tell us to stop. You’ll never miss an issue again and your savings are locked in.

We’re “preferred,” of course, because it’s presumed we’re too lazy to cancel.

And no way will I fill out the handy renewal form on your Web site, either: I’m not giving you a credit card number to reuse.

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Is that a real tree?

Jeffro meets up with a stand of Pacific Albus:

It is actually a hybrid poplar and is kinda considered a “junk” tree — good for chip and fiber production. Apparently, that was the original intent for planting these trees — they’re a quick growing variety, and it was thought that they could be harvested before they achieved full growth. However, markets didn’t cooperate — it turned out that the normal sources for chips and fiber — residue from harvesting lumber at sawmills — was cheaper.

So, with no market and no reason to cut them down, the forest continued to grow. Now, however, they are big and tall enough to harvest for boards.

The Collins Companies, which developed this mutant, are pitching it for various utilitarian uses:

Pacific Albus is a hardwood species ideal for a variety of uses including moulding & millwork, cut stock, furniture applications, edge-glued panels for door core and hobby panels, pallet stock, recreational vehicle parts, landscape timbers and much more. Because it is plantation grown, the quality of the product is consistent, uniform, and — importantly, always available. It is FSC “Pure” certified (SCS-COC-001855) under the principles and criteria of the Forest Stewardship Council.

Which is not to say that the greenest of the green have given it thumbs up:

[P]oplars like the Pacific albus create environmental problems of their own. They demand a tremendous amount of water and are picky about the type of land on which they are grown. [The Washington Department of Natural Resources] found that only about 2 percent of the land owned by the state would be suitable for the poplar. Many of the lands where they can grow are near dams where irrigation water is available. Given the battles over water and the presence of the dams, increasing the demand for water for poplars is a questionable environmental trade off. Who wants more water for trees and less for fish?

Sure, blame the tree for being picky. Actually, everything environmental is a trade-off, pretty much by definition. And you have to figure they’re not going to put up a tree plantation on the outskirts of Tucson.

This is, to be sure, a tree of limited utility. But that, too, is a trade-off of sorts:

Pacific albus represents a step beyond red alder — another former trash species now valuable for use in furniture. Like alder — even more than alder — Pacific albus won’t bear a lot of weight or take much wear on the edge of a counter or pool table. But it will look just fine, and it will take a nice cherry stain.

I figure, so long as it doesn’t break loose from the plantation and turn invasive, this development falls on the plus side of the equation.

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Regal sonata legacy

So-called luxury brands of automobiles tend to denote individual models, not by names, but by alphanumerics: 328i, LS460, E550. Sometimes they even skip the numerics: MDX, CTS-V. I’m not sure why they do this, but actual names aren’t so hot these days, according to P. J. O’Rourke in the June Car and Driver:

[T]here’s banality even in the model names. I made fun of Jeep for calling itself Rubicon, but at least Caesar’s road trip provided Rome with a little excitement. It’s better than Toyota’s fake Latin: “Corolla Yaris Venza Matrix.” Or Ford’s New Age babble: “Focus on your Fusion, Taurus.” Or Honda’s e-mail from the local zoning board: “Does the Civic Insight Fit? We’re in Accord.”

It’s things like this that make you wish Studebaker were still around and producing the Dictator.

Addendum: Joe Sherlock is waiting for the “Panther Thunderass 9000.”

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Strange search-engine queries (221)

This weekly exercise involves (1) accumulating a week’s worth of logs and (2) finding the handful of search requests that were at least marginally amusing. So far as I can tell, it has never had any effect on seismic activity.

can google do algebra?  I dunno, but I do remember Bing did “White Christmas.”

bible verse containing yogurt:  Is this the bit about Dannon in the lion’s den?

where do you get underwear that won’t rip and when someone gives you a overhead wedgie it won’t rip:  Say the secret word: Kevlar.

sonic drive in hominy asshole:  And hominy assholes did you see?

Did Delaware her New Jersey to the dance?  No such luck; she got stuck Washingtons of laundry that night.

am i too hairy for a teenager:  Yes, Gramps, you are. Now put down that photo of Dakota Fanning and take your pills.

Dakota Fanning-panty-pics:  Those too, you old perv.

will sierra mist shrink your penis?  Pour some on there when it’s cold, and see for yourself.

trunk space measured by dead bodies:  There’s a reason you see mobsters with Lincoln Town Cars.

how ofen does a chameleon need to be fed:  Two meals a day, plus a picture of a third, just to screw with its little brain.

is a massive gastrointestinal bleed a peaceful death?  Compared to being drawn and quartered, perhaps.

get paid to get laid by lonely older weman:  They’re not that lonely.

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Booth babes by brand

There’s a perfectly good reason for surrounding the cars at the Auto Show with hotties:

Human nature dictates that we, male or female, would rather deal with an attractive person than an average or unattractive one. We will spend more time talking with them, we will believe more of what they say and we will walk away with a more positive impression of the interaction than if we had the same one with someone we found less physically attractive. This crosses gender lines and is not an issue of sexual preference.

On the other hand, “Know thine audience” still counts for something:

By the same token, a mom of three in the market for a new minivan does not want to be confronted by a bikini model draped across the hood of the vehicle. (Sex toys don’t seem to be an issue, though.) That’s why for the most part at a consumer auto show we are dressed in business suits or stylish yet somewhat conservative clothing. (Even the Fiat twins were sporting high necklines and a knee-length hem.)

Someone in the market for a mom-mobile would likely recognize that “sex toy” as yet another Branded Character for the moppet market.

Beyond that:

Each brand also has a “type”: Porsche has a lot of fashion-model-looking types, Toyota and Nissan have the girl/guy next door, Scion is young and hip. The Ford team looks like they wouldn’t mind if their hair got messed up when you dropped the top on your Mustang convertible. The presenters for higher-end brands like Acura, Infiniti, Cadillac, Lincoln and Lexus tend to have a more refined, classic look. Our looks and wardrobe are all aspirational brand messages and tell consumers, albeit subconsciously, what that brand is all about.

Which makes me wonder what anyone could say about Chevrolet, which last week dropped (like a rock, you might say) its long-time Detroit ad agency in favor of a tonier French firm. On the one hand, Dinah Shore has passed on; still, you know they’re not turning in the general direction of Juliette Binoche.

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Wedge issue

The Shoe Girl, about a week ago, said she was considering this wedge:

Cork wedge by Stella McCartney

If you can stand the dizzying height — that’s a four-inch rise back there, over and above the one-inch platform — you’ll find this particular Stella McCartney shoe is decidedly summery, and that little hint of neon pink around the periphery is sweet; I consider it another blow against the “Neutrals Are Boring” crowd.

Incidentally, I committed the perfect typo while pounding out the preceding paragraph: I rendered it as “you’ll fund this particular Stella McCartney shoe.” Spellcheckers, of course, won’t find anything wrong with that. And you will need serious funding if you like this wedge: you’re looking at $735 for it.

They do look pretty nice on the Shoe Girl, though.

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Until it’s time for you to go

Okay, you two, time’s up.

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Apparently this crap is good for you

I don’t even like the sound of this, but apparently it works:

Before she got so sick with a Clostridium difficile infection, Vicki Doriott would have been as disgusted as anyone at the idea of a fecal transplant. Infuse her gut with someone else’s stool? Through a tube in her nose? No, thanks.

But in June 2004, Doriott was actually relieved to show up at a Duluth, Minn., clinic, where doctors sent samples of her husband’s excrement sliding into her stomach — and apparently cured the infection that threatened to ruin her life.

Small colonies of C. diff are no big deal. However, the bacterium can quickly gain the upper hand if the gut flora are substantially altered; antibiotics, usually the first line of defense, tend to wipe out competing bacteria first, leaving C. diff firmly in command of the intestines. Hence, a probiotic approach. The fecal transplant was first documented in Norway in the 1990s; it remains relatively low on the list of recommended treatments, perhaps partially for aesthetic reasons. Besides, no one has ever told anyone to eat that stuff and not die.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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A series of tubes

Dallas-based retailer Woot.com is not, as a general rule, your most reliable source for sharp social commentary, but once in a while something comes up in a product pitch that’s worth mentioning.

For instance, this:

Television takes a lot of grief, have you noticed? “Television is poisoning politics!” “Television is coarsening the culture!” “Television is making our children stupid!” (The next time you hear someone say that last one, take a good look at her and evaluate whether her kids’ stupidity might not have a genetic component.)

And then there are those people who are always telling you they don’t have one. “Oh, I don’t watch television,” they say, as if they’re living some monastic life of the mind, and spend their free time sitting quietly, reading Herodotus in the original Greek, or listening to the birds and learning their songs, when really they just mean they watch all the same crap as you, but on Hulu.

Let’s put the brakes on this disdain train and remember some of the wonderful things television has given us: The ability to watch events unfold live all over the world. A forum for nationwide debate and exchange of ideas. Pamela Anderson in a swimsuit, running in slow motion.

Incidentally, the product being pitched was a small (22-inch) Vizio LCD HDTV. I own a similar set in a slightly smaller size — for which I paid $80 more, now that I think about it — and it’s been a gem.

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So how do you like the 405?

Pointed observation from Daily Thunder proprietor Royce, posted at The Lost Ogle:

We used to welcome in Shreveport and Wichita for the postseason. Or the Redhawks maybe had the Nashville Sounds in a playoff series. Now, it’s the Los Angeles Lakers. Think about that for [a] second.

And if there’s anything more fun than playing the Lakers, it’s beating the Lakers. Blowing them out, in fact: 110-89. (Aside: The Lakers haven’t won in the Ford Center since the third of November.) At one point, the Thunder were up by twenty-nine.

You want more startling numbers? OKC outrebounded L.A., 50-43. And the Thunder took forty-eight foul shots, making 42 of them. (The Lakers made only 17 of 28.) The Thunder gave up only ten turnovers. And game high for Los Angeles? Not Kobe, but Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, each with 13. (Meanwhile, Thunder reserve point guard Eric Maynor had 13 points in a mere 19 minutes.)

“We might be able to beat ‘em twice out of six,” I said before the playoffs began. Well, we beat ‘em twice out of four. The series now goes back to L.A., where OKC has never won and the Sonics last scored a win in the spring of ’06. If the Thunder can pull off a win Tuesday night, they might as well start printing tickets for the second round.

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Waiting on the wrecking ball

Steve Lackmeyer is all over the SandRidge dustup and the ramifications thereof. If you haven’t been keeping score, here’s where things stand:

You already know what I think of this plan, so I’ll just quote this bit from William H. Whyte (hat tip: Aaron Renn):

It is significant that the cities doing best by their downtowns are the ones doing best at historic preservation. Fine old buildings are worthwhile in their own right, but there is a greater benefit involved. They provide discipline. Architects and planners like a blank slate. They usually do their best work, however, when they don’t have one. When they have to work with impossible lot lines and bits and pieces of space, beloved old eyesores, irrational street layouts, and other such constraints, they frequently produce the best of their new designs — and the most neighborly.

Any fool can hire a bulldozer, and many do.

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Twits and giggles

Twitter is known for a bird and occasionally a whale. Now it has a phish:

Twitter spam

(Click to embiggen.) “You have 3 unread message(s),” indeed.

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Where have all the dipsticks gone?

No, not those clowns in Congress. We know where they are. I mean, the metal rod that tells you you’re a quart low:

In an effort to find out who exactly is responsible for the dipstick-abolishing movement, Autoblog contacted Audi, BMW and Porsche — three respected German automakers who have embraced the technology for several years. All three gave us the same answer. Contrary to Internet rumors, the elimination of an inexpensive metal rod is not a cost-cutting measure, nor is it an environmental issue (word on the web said each check of a dipstick introduced ounces of polluting dirty oil into the ecosystem).

Quite frankly, the automakers point out that we simply don’t need dipsticks anymore. Why? Because owners don’t use them. While they don’t specifically say it, those who engineer and assemble our new cars (and guarantee new vehicle warranties) are much more comfortable knowing that a silicon chip is monitoring the oil level — not a consumer who hasn’t checked tire pressures (or even opened the hood) since the last time the Vikings won the Super Bowl.

Should anyone care, the last time I pulled the dipstick on my ride was Tuesday evening, during halftime of the Thunder-Lakers game. (Level’s fine, and the oil doesn’t look too bad; last oil change was 2700 miles ago. I have no idea what the Vikings were doing at the time.)

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Cheddar homes and gardens

Wisconsin has named Lactococcus lactis its official state microbe, beating out both (1) that green stuff that grows on brats if you leave them out too long and (2) Russ Feingold.

L. lactis plays a vital role in the production of cheese, the Badger State’s second largest export after cheesehead hats.

(Tweeted by Syaffolee.)

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370

“CoTV really?” asks Andrew Ian Dodge in the title of this week’s Carnival of the Vanities, the 370th in the series.

I know whereof he speaks. I haven’t had to update my résumé lately, but people who’ve had to look at the damned thing will often notice that my experience with IBM iron goes all the way back to the System/370, and look at me with great puzzlement: “Really?”

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