Meanwhile under the hood

Jack Baruth has discerned the one connection between that 1970s automotive excrescence, the Personal Luxury Coupe, and the 2010s automotive excrescence, the neither-car-nor-SUV crossover:

Only two things separate the crossover phenomenon from that of the PLC. The first is sex. Or gender, if you insist on using the wrong word. Forty years ago, most purchase decisions were made by men. No surprise, then, that personal-luxury-coupes are basically dicks on wheels. Remember that the artificially long hood is the defining characteristic of the PLC. Crossovers, on the other hand, are exclusively purchased by women and the men who can’t stand up to them. No authentic man has ever had any genuine feeling for a modern crossover, any more than he would have a settled opinion on a panty liner. Women buy the things and therefore they are cocoons that suggest height and protection and safety and capability in reserve.

This may explain my fondness for the Infiniti QX50, née EX35; it’s never been advertised as being safe, and it’s not jacked up several inches for the sake of, um, height.

Oh, and I’ve owned a PLC: a 1984 Mercury Cougar. It was a very nice ride when it wasn’t digesting its head gaskets.

The second difference between 1976 and 2016 is something I can only call give-a-damn. Nobody gives a damn about cars any more. It is understood by the reader that the “nobody” to which I refer includes him, the same way that if I wrote “Nobody truly cares about Twilight Sparkle” on a “subreddit” it would be generally true no matter how many thousands of “bronys” there are in this country.

It’s even understood by this reader, who is not at all bothered by “nobody” caring about Twi; I don’t need the competition, and I have better things to do with my life than hang around [insert name of subreddit].


Who was that improperly masked man?

@SwiftOnSecurity presents a true tale of woe, as told by Lee Hutchinson of Ars Technica:

If you have a competent network person — by which I mean “a network person who will tell a clown like this to go pound sand” — don’t let him (or her, if applicable) get away.

Comments (1)

Personal logiene

As distinguished from “hygiene,” which is apparently not a factor here:

For those of us who are unhappily single, it can sometimes feel we’ve tried every trick in the book to find that special someone. If connecting over movies, books, or coffee has never panned out, there’s still one more thing you can try: smell.

Smell Dating is the creation of artists Tega Brain and Sam Lavigne, and works to match people up based on smell. Specifically, their smell after having not showered for three days. Really.

While the process may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it’s probably the most basic measure of attraction that exists. For $25, the participant gets a t-shirt, wears it for 72 consecutive hours, and sends it back. They’re then sent the t-shirts of ten other participants who also haven’t showered, and sniff away.

One might think that common sense — or common scents — would discourage potential participants.

Give the creators credit, though: they have the temerity to bill the service as “the first mail odor dating service,” and they’re actually using a .dating domain, the first such I’ve seen. So far they haven’t expanded beyond NYC, but it’s just a matter of time — hot, sweaty, crammed-into-close-quarters time.

Comments (3)

Eight of nine

Warren Meyer on a side effect of the post-Scalia vacuum:

[T]he very fact a Supreme Court nomination is so politically radioactive is a sign of a basic governmental failure in and of itself. The libertarian argument is that by giving the government so much power to intervene in so many ways that creates winners and losers by legislative diktat, we have raised the stakes of minute points of law to previously unimaginable levels. In a world where the government is not empowered to micro-manage our lives, a Supreme Court nomination would be as interesting as naming the postmaster general.

Speaking of which, can anyone actually name the Postmaster General? I couldn’t. (It’s Megan Brennan, appointed last year by the USPS Board of Governors. Thirty years ago she was a letter carrier in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.)

Comments (1)

Mere preference

I have been known to annoy Yahoo! Answers’ bevy of unpaid cultural critics — and if ever there were people who deserved to be unpaid, it’s those people — by restating their original statement: “Shorter version: How dare you like something I don’t like?”

Expand this beyond mere entertainment choices, and you have something like this:

I do think “virtues” — which are often things that require effort on a person’s part, and are often things that go unnoticed and unsung — are harder, and are not as visible in our culture right now — as “morals,” or at least the sort of “public morals” that allows a person to snark at another, unknown person because that person is fat. Or because that person smokes. Or because that person dresses badly. Or whatever. It can even devolve into true stupidity — Lynn talked the other day about “how everything becomes a little war” and it is, exhaustingly so, like that. Even down to the “best” flavor or brand of ice cream. Or what television shows (if any — and that’s a whole OTHER Western Front) are worth watching. And again: it’s easy for a person to justify their choices in life by running down someone else’s, or telling that person they are bad, stupid, or wrong for the choices they make. And I just want to wave my arms around like a demented Kermit the Frog and scream “STOP IT! STOP. IT.” Because it just makes everyone feel worse, and doesn’t actually solve any problems.

I have, more than once, defended my stance by saying “I’m sixty years old and don’t have to give a ruddy rat’s ass about anyone else’s opinions.” Which is true enough; the tragedy, perhaps, is that it didn’t occur to me to say something like that at twenty-two.


As opposed to those scary sedans

I found this comment at TTAC, and the more I looked at it, the more sense it seemed to make:

I believe one of the biggest reasons for SUV and crossover buying is this era’s subliminal fear of crime.

I compare it to the sense of peace we feel when we’re at the water’s edge. I’ve heard it suggested that we feel that peace because it’s biologically programmed into our simian ancestors to relax near the water because there’s only 180 degrees from which we could be attacked by a predator, not 360 as in the woods or tall grass. In fact, the water presents its own set of hazards, from drowning to waves to undersea predators, but we feel safer.

Similarly, we’ve been bombarded with media telling us we’re under siege. Statistics say there’s actually less violent crime per capita in most parts of American than decades ago, but whether that’s true or not, we FEEL besieged, so we’re reassured by the sensation of a commanding position seated safely above the fray, whether that “fray” is motorists hitting us or pedestrians assaulting us. Like the sea, the tall vehicle in fact brings its own hazard — in this case, greater risk of one-car accidents — but the psyche trumps the rational. And we’re all generally much more irrational buyers than we think.

I definitely believe that last sentence. In 2006, the last time I went car shopping, I wound up with something almost too big for my garage that got 3 mpg less than its predecessor and cost quite a bit more to maintain, mostly because the interior was so incredibly coddling compared to what I was used to. (And it still looks pretty good today, though the leather on the driver’s seat is starting to wrinkle a bit.) This is, I suspect, the experience of a lot of people: due diligence before hitting the lots, and then buying something that steals away the heart, facts and figures notwithstanding.

And siege mentality is all around us, due in no small part, I think, to the omnipresence of TV news, the heir to the old newspaper adage that “if it bleeds, it leads.” Lots of bleeding going on out there, and if it’s not actually in your neighborhood, as it’s not in mine, it’s still too close for comfort.


Definitely not a bozo

Roberta X reports on the Hoosier economy, and it’s not good:

The economy is still nasty and a large HVAC manufacturer here in Indianapolis has, after lavish grants, tax breaks, a personal massage* from at least one Governor and other enticements, decided to absquatulate for Mexico, where the bribes are cheaper, nobody minds a little lead or carbon tet, you can beat up the workforce and pee right in the river. The United States has priced itself out of the manufacturing business; this is not a new story.

* That’s what they’re calling it. Polite people do not inquire.

Come to think of it, absquatulation was how the Colts came to Indianapolis.

But that reference to leak-taking immediately called to mind this Firesign Theatre bit:

If you’re keeping score, this is from I Think We’re All Bozos On This Bus.

Comments (3)


Unix/Epoch time starts at 00:00:00 UTC, 1 January 1970; as far as the various Unices are concerned, time did not exist until that moment.

Some operating systems take it more seriously than others. You set any current iPhone to that date and you have Carnation Instant Brick:

iPhone users discovered that changing the date of the phone in “Settings” to January 1st, 1970 causes the device to “brick,” or essentially turn off without ever turning back on again.

The good news is that it’s highly unlikely you could ever do this by accident. Manually changing the date of the iPhone to a time 30 years ago is pretty tedious.

And a time 46 years ago is perhaps more so.

Needless to say, this went viral rather quickly, with the usual scum-sucking geeks promoting resetting the time to reveal some iOS Easter egg. (For Windows folk: this is the equivalent of deleting the System32 folder, an instance of bad advice that never seems to go away entirely.) Apple has vowed to fix this bug — which, it says, applies to any date May 1970 or before — in the next software update.

Comments (1)

Corporate insecurity

It has long been my contention that surveys suck, though I regret to report that complaining about this level of suckage has not been enough to deter the pollsters. Bad enough that it’s an election year, but even the most routine contact with Corporate America these days seems to require a questionnaire the size of the decennial Census.

It wasn’t that long ago that my bank noticed I’d been on their Web site. Now I do this rather a lot, partly because I like to keep an eye on my finances, and partly because I know rather a lot of our customers at 42nd and Treadmill can’t be bothered to see if they have any money before trying to spend it, and it’s important to me not to be like them. In and out in 45 seconds, and that’s not even using their new smartphone app. And Gallup, freaking Gallup, sent me a stack of multiple-choice questions that took 15 minutes to answer. “Yes, I checked my balance. Yes, I was happy with the way it displayed, and the speed of the display.”

Now a second one has arrived. I’m not even going to look to see if it’s identical to the first.

Comments (2)

More of the pre-post-Hef era

You already know what I think of the new, somewhat more buttoned up Playboy. Vice asked some collectors what they think, and, well, what you see is what you get:

“Whether it’s desperation or not, I don’t think it’s a great move because you expect nudity in Playboy. Now, maybe parameters need to be clear because I understand Playboy Brazil and Germany are keeping the nudity. Without the nudity you could argue it’s like French fries without ketchup. There’s a magazine here, Horse and Hound, you’re not just going to call it Hound magazine. People expect it.”

There are, I must point out, people who dip their fries in mayonnaise, and I’m not the one to tell them they’re wrong. (They are wrong, of course, but I’m not the one to tell them that.)

“I feel that it’s time at this cultural moment. The value of the magazine was never entirely about the nudity; it was always a major part of it, you know, founded to be that. But the way that things have evolved, with print giving way to digital, it’s the time to make that transition if you’re going to make it at all. And there’s enough merit in the magazine over the years to make it possible. The new editorial direction they’ve taken in the last couple of years has been a lot more progressive. I stopped my subscription in the 90s, but now I sort of wish I was still a subscriber. During Hefner’s Viagra years, it was sort of like, Jesus Christ. But now it’s a home for a lot of good, progressive writing.”

You can get a lot of bad progressive writing for a whole lot less than $7.99 a copy.

“Good for them. Not having to take your clothes off to get somewhere in LA? That’s great. One more reason not to take your clothes off to get somewhere.”

And if it were really an integral part of the star-making machinery, we’d remember more than a handful of the Playmates’ names, wouldn’t we?

Not sure how many issues the last two collectors have, but that first guy, the one who knows Horse and Hound, has 866, which implies the presence of a few duplicates, the magazine being only 63 years old and now down to ten issues a year. (Before you ask: I have just over 400.)

Comments (3)

No more Mosaic

After all, this is 2016 fercrissake:

Screenshot of tweet by Sarah Withee recommending IE or Netscape Navigator

Get with the program, people. And not that program, either.


Fark blurb of the week


Rudest intrusion

Some hackish types are in it for the lulz; some others, I am told, for the advancement of knowledge. Then there are the ones who are in it for the money:

The computers at a Los Angeles hospital have been down for more than a week after ransomware ended up on its internal network. Patients at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center have been transferred to other hospitals because of the outage, and connected medical devices and portals are offline, as well. The attackers have reportedly asked for more than $3.6 million to decrypt the system and the hospital’s files, CSO reports. Staff are now having to turn to fax machines and landline telephones to get work done, and medical records are being kept on paper.

The hospital didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment and hasn’t elaborated on how far the attack has spread, what kind of ransomware infected its network, or how it was even infected in the first place. According to CSO, the incident was random, likely meaning a hospital staffer clicked a malicious link or attachment that ultimately spread the malware throughout the network.

Reportedly the LAPD and the FBI have been called in.

The invaders, CSO says, aren’t asking for dollars: they’re asking for bitcoin, to the tune of 9000 BTC. Last I looked, 1 BTC was worth just over $406.

(Via Emin Gün Sirer.)

Comments (4)

Words that gladden the heart

Or maybe some place a bit lower down. Francis W. Porretto, linking to this collection of Utterly Romantic verbiage from stage and screen and story, offers a sampling of “well-proven romantic lines that really ought to have been considered” but somehow never seem to be. I’m at least partially sure that “Yes, I do have five large, empty closets. Why do you ask?” would have worked with some women I know.

Allegedly this will draw the attention of the male:

Axe print ad featuring double-jointed therapist

Although I do think it needs the visuals as much as the quotation.

(Yes, I have posted this before.)

Comments (1)

Swiftly played

Several kind folks live-tweet red-carpet events, so I got several looks at this slightly strange garb worn by Taylor Swift at the Grammys yesterday:

Taylor Swift at the 2016 Grammy awards

The dress, such as it is, comes from Atelier Versace, and those are Stuart Weitzman heels affording her a four-inch lift she hardly needs. Add to that the Sia-sideways bob, and TS is giving us the full WTF. Said the ever-bristly Quinn Cummings: “Why is Taylor Swift wearing a fluorescent censor bar?”

So I moved in for a closer look, but by then she was guarded by squad members. In this particular case, it’s Selena Gomez:

Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez at the 2016 Grammy awards

You might want to keep these pictures in mind, just in case Vogue’s Anna Wintour ever becomes a zombie: she’s gonna look exactly like Taylor, give or take several grams of makeup.

Comments (1)

For when you have to pour it on

Presenting new, or not so new, Liquid Trump:

Advertisement for Liquid Trump

The “EL” logo in the corner represents Economics Laboratory, Inc., which also produced a home dishwasher product called Electrasol. (Electrasol was eventually renamed “Finish”; after several mergers, Finish is now part of the giant Reckitt Benckiser group.)

Choice comment comes from Gerard Van der Leun, who ran this picture with the caption: “For when you’re out of Solid Trump.” Well done, sir.

Comments (6)