Whatta heap

This doesn’t seem so unreasonable:

I have this dream of buying a car made in 1967, the year I was born. I’d drive it across country meeting up with Gen Xers along the way. I’d be like a circuit rider!

Hmmm. Never thought about that much myself. Let’s see. In 1967, the second-generation Buick Riviera was one year old: it wasn’t the game­changer that the ’63 had been, but it was almost as gorgeous, and it consumed highway miles with wild abandon. (Unfortunately, it consumed gasoline the same way.)

But I was fourteen in ’67, so I don’t get to play with the Riv: it’s gotta be a ’53. And no way on God’s green earth anyone is going to let me have a Skylark, despite my manifest desire to have people ask “Where are the portholes?”

I suppose I could go look for a Nash like Ruben’s, but I’d be afraid someone would hurl my best white shirts with the Mr B collar onto the lawn. Besides, all those Nashes had skirted front wheels, which gave them a turning circle slightly smaller than that of a school bus.

So I’d keep an eye peeled for any of the ’53 Studebakers, although the Starliner hardtop was the best-looking of the lot.

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The tire’s only flat on the bottom

Pundits predicted that when Rupert Murdoch got his paywall erected at The Times, traffic to the newspaper site would drop by 90 percent.

Well, it dropped — it dropped a lot — but not that much:

The data from Experian Hitwise, which monitors internet traffic, showed that in the week following the introduction of the paywall on 2 July, visits to the Times site fell to 33% of its pre-registration level.

So instead of losing nine-tenths of their online readers, they lost only two-thirds. Pyrrhus of Epirus, to the white courtesy phone, please.

Murdoch may argue that hey, this model works for the Wall Street Journal, but:

[I]t is accepted that readers are readier to pay for the kind of specialist data the WSJ produces.

The Times, I suspect, does not enjoy quite such a distinction.

(Via Norm Geras.)

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Certs to you

Found on the shelf this week: the Keebler (née Sunshine) Vienna Fingers cookie, with chocolate filling. I’ve been almost afraid to open the package, lest I undergo some variation on die Flabbergast.

And speaking of strange hybrids:

Alli by John Fluevog

It’s a Mary Jane! It’s a wing-tip! It’s two, two, two styles in one! There are, um, less-jarring color schemes, but at this level of WTF, you don’t much care. John Fluevog sells this little darling as “Alli” for $185, which is probably what you’d pay for two, two pair of shoes. Me, I think three straps would have been plenty.

(Via happy owner Phlegm Fatale.)

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Seven O

“How very strange to be seventy.” — Simon and Garfunkel, “Old Friends,” 1968.

“In my mind, I’m still 35 or so. Then I look in the mirror and realize the road behind is wider than the road ahead.”Mike McCarville, on the occasion of his 70th, 2010.

Cheer up, Mike. You’ll probably outlast all of us. In the meantime, have a cold one on me.

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Spare that pathetic sleazepuppy’s feelings

Now why in the flying fark would I need something like this?

ToneCheck is an email plug-in that checks the content of your emails for tone and alerts you to language that may be misunderstood or interpreted as particularly negative.

Let’s face it: Sometimes you send an email that you fully intend to convey anger or annoyance. But text communication is rife with misunderstandings, and often an email with perfectly pleasant intentions can lead to a lot of upset coworkers. That’s what ToneCheck aims to address.

How weird. Normally my email is considered to be utterly devoid of personality.

Besides, do I really need software to tell me that “Blow me, you pathetic, cringing toad” might be taken as “particularly negative”?

(Tweeted, presumably not at me specifically, here.)

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Oh, and how are the kids?

That film by Lisa Cholodenko, “in theaters now” as they say, is called The Kids Are All Right, which echoes, but does not precisely copy, the title of a classic song by the Who.

It was apparently the working title all along, and it stuck. Says the director:

I never thought we’d end up with it, but it just kept feeling resonant, so I thought, “You know, stick it on there and see if it passes, and if The Who is not going to sue me, then we’ll use it… [W]e liked the double entendre of it.”

Which suggests that “alright” and “all right” don’t actually mean the same thing:

What additional meaning does “all right” provide that would have been absent from “alright”? I don’t think it’s that “all the kids are right” in the film. After all, there are only two kids in question: the children of a lesbian couple who go in search of their biological father. Rather, as Cholodenko told the San Francisco Bay Guardian, “it’s sort of an ironic title, in the sense that the kids are kind of doing better than the moms.” She also suggests that it’s a form of social commentary responding to those who worry about gay people raising “psychologically healthy children”: “The kids are fine. Don’t worry about them. They’re just right.”

In case someone asks, there exists a good example of “all the kids are right,” in a song of that very title by Local H:

all the kids, they hold a grudge
their minds are logged onto the net
and all the kids, they hold a grudge
you fail them and they won’t forget it
all the kids, they’re tired and turn away
they saw what you did
you’re all wrong and all the kids are right

(Inspired, if that’s the word, by this Nancy Friedman tweet.)

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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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