Feature not featured

I have entirely too much reason to trust Jack Baruth on this matter:

Like most cars built in the past 60 years or so, the VW Phaeton has a movable driver’s seat. Like the vast majority of the cars built in the past 30 years or so, the VW Phaeton has a center console. Now pay attention, because this is the important part. In pretty much every car I’ve driven since the day I got my license, ranging from raggedy old Escorts to brand-new Rolls-Royces, there is a small gap between the driver’s seat and the center console. If you are sitting in any of those cars and you are holding your phone, or your keys, or your wallet, or anything else that is less than an inch and a half wide, and you drop that item, it will fall between the seat and the center console. At that point, you will discover that, although the gap between the driver’s seat and the center console easily accommodates a smartphone or, say, an ex-West-Berlin-Police Walther PP pistol in caliber .32 ACP, it does not accommodate the hand of an adult male. Not without scratching and/or cutting it into ribbons.

For example: there was the time I dropped my phone during World Tour ’08, and the retrieval of same unearthed a wallet belonging to a teenaged girl, which had been hiding in the gap for over two years.

The gap also attracts coins; I think I’ve lost about $30 in change over nine and a half years.

So maybe I should have opted for the most expensive Volkswagen in creation, huh?

In the VW Phaeton, however, there is a thing. It’s a velour-covered molded piece and it fills in the gap between the driver’s seat and the center console. It’s made to flex a bit so even though the relationship of the seat to the console changes a bit throughout its range of travel, that piece still prevents anything from falling between the seat and the console. If you drop your phone or your keys or your Walther, it will land on that piece and there it will stay in easy reach of your hand.

This would not seem difficult to replicate in less-costly models, but so far nobody, not even Volkswagen, has seen fit to do so.

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And then you wane

Or perhaps you whine. I’m just going to put this up and pretend I never, ever saw it:

If your daily life is riddled with manspreaders, consider showing them this article. They will clasp their knees together with the sort of speed you would normally associate with Star Trek.

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Unearned earnings

Believe it or not, there are those who will simply not accept such things:

I expect some readers to have to tweak their Suspension of Disbelief glands to be able to grasp all this.


The medley lingers on

Why, of course you can do mashups of classical music. They might sound something like this:

I admit to being amused by the presence of the Star Wars Imperial March, and at exactly the right time, to boot.

Still, I can’t help thinking that Professor Peter Schickele was first.

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Rather than detail

I admit, I would not have thought of this:

[Y]ou can shine your hubcaps in the dishwasher. Simply load the hubcaps into your dishwasher with a cup of white vinegar (if you’re also cleaning the lug nuts, place them in a mesh bag before loading them into the dishwasher) and they’ll come out squeaky clean.

Reasons I would not have thought of this:

  • I have actual aluminum wheels;
  • I don’t have an actual dishwasher.

These conditions have prevailed for nine and twelve years, respectively.

(Via Fark.)

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Let’s get rude

It’ll take about four minutes:

Note: This song is not approved by the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association.

(Fishersville Mike will explain.)

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Phake phederal phish

This oddball item didn’t pass the first-level spam filter, but I fished it out just to see what it was all about:

Phony US Postal Service message

There is, as indicated, a .doc file attached, the sort of thing one clicks on only if one has a death wish, or if one’s picture accompanies the definition of gullible in the dictionary.

Oh, from the footnotes:

Please do not reply to this message. This email message was sent from a notification-only address that cannot accept incoming email.

The nerve.


Remaining decent

Lynn reports on an online petition:

Fifteen-year-old Cassy James has started a petition requesting that American Eagle Outfitters, Urban Outfitters, and Forever 21 start selling “modest, but fashionable clothing.” I really wish I could speak to and be heard by this young lady and others like her. Of course, even if I could she wouldn’t listen. I’m “too old”; I just “don’t get it.” But I have things to say and I have a blog and I’m calling on my three readers to make this go viral.

Inasmuch as I now have a teenaged granddaughter, I am happy to endorse this effort.

Also, last week someone uploaded a class picture from the distant past, which included somebody I was once horribly in love with. She’d have understood this, even then.

And Lynn makes a sensible suggestion:

When you know what you want you need to start voting with your purse. Do you really have to shop at the three stores you mentioned? You say they are your favorite stores but why is that if they don’t have what you want? Look around. Try other stores. Try Amazon. You can find anything on Amazon. Also, you can improve clothes by the way you accessorize. If a garment is “too old looking” for you add some young jewelry. If a shirt or dress is too low cut add a scarf. If a shirt is too tight just buy the next larger size. That’s the easiest problem of all to solve.

Yea, verily.

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Lamp unto thy feet

Yes, this Taiwanese structure is a church, and yes, it’s supposed to look like a giant high heel:

There is, of course, a perfectly good reason for this:

In a bid to attract female attendees, officials in Budai have finished work on a 55-foot tall glass pump-slash-church. It is ridiculous. It is amazing. It is very, very shiny.

Set to open before the Lunar New Year on February 8, the non-denominational church structure was created in just two months. Despite the fact that its design strikingly resembles that of Cinderella’s famous glass slippers, the shape and material actually come from a wedding tradition in which the bride steps on and shatters ceramic tiles before entering the groom’s family home. (Shattering things is a crosscultural wedding thing.)

And for God’s sake, I implore you, don’t go Googling “foot worship.” Not now, not ever.

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It’s a madhouse down there

Surprise number one: Rick Carlisle decided to sit four starters tonight, including, yes, Dirk, after a tough overtime game last night against Cleveland. Surprise number two: The Mavericks came out in a 2-3 zone, and mostly stuck with it. Surprise number three: All hell broke loose in the second quarter, starting with a J. J. Barea/Russell Westbrook tiff which ended with five technical fouls assessed. Charlie Villanueva got two of them and was escorted to the locker room. Before the half ended, Barea and Westbrook were at it again, and Westbrook was thumbed. Surprise number three and a half: Westbrook had been fouled before being tossed, and Carlisle, under the rules, got to pick any active player to make those free throws. He chose Mitch McGary, who made one of them.

After all that, the game itself was almost anticlimactic. Oklahoma City led Dallas 65-43 at the half; the Mavs crept to within a dozen or so several times, but the high point in Loud City seemed to be the opportunity to boo Barea, the Mavs’ leading scorer with 18, who committed four personal fouls. Most interesting to Mavs watchers, perhaps, was an extended look at Salah Mejri, the 29-year-old rookie center from Tunisia, who collected 17 points and nine rebounds in just under 25 minutes. Without Mejri’s 7-8 shooting, the Mavs’ dismal 39-percent shooting would have been about five points worse.

Westbrook’s unscheduled departure left him with a very odd line: no points — he missed three shots from the floor and four from the stripe — but seven rebounds and eight assists. This left scoring opportunities for Serge Ibaka (20), Dion Waiters (18) and Cameron Payne (10). (Kevin Durant had a modest, for Kevin Durant, 29 points.) Billy Donovan even saw fit to bring out D. J. Augustin, who’d been epoxied to the bench all month; he went scoreless in eight minutes. Still, this game, askew as it was, answered no questions, and managed to propose yet another:

And either of them, I think, more than James Harden.

What? Oh, yes. The score. Oklahoma City 108, Dallas 89. OKC leads the season series two-zip.

Addendum: On the front page of the Oklahoman the next day:

Thunder tops Mavs in fiesty game

So, like a fiesta, then?


Bulbs for the future

And they’re incandescent, as God and Tom Edison intended:

Scientists in the US believe they have come up with a solution which could see a reprieve for incandescent bulbs.

Researchers at MIT have shown that by surrounding the filament with a special crystal structure in the glass they can bounce back the energy which is usually lost in heat, while still allowing the light through.

They refer to the technique as “recycling light” because the energy which would usually escape into the air is redirected back to the filament where it can create new light.

“It recycles the energy that would otherwise be wasted,” said Professor Marin Soljacic.

You’d get your colors back, too:

Traditional incandescent bulbs have a “colour rendering index” rating of 100, because they match the hue of objects seen in natural daylight. However even “warm” finish LED or florescent bulbs can only manage an index rating of 80 and most are far less.

And you might even get the goddamn Gaians off your case, too:

Usually traditional light bulbs are only about five per cent efficient, with 95 percent of the energy being lost to the atmosphere. In comparison LED or florescent bulbs manage around 14 percent efficiency. But the scientists believe that the new bulb could reach efficiency levels of 40 percent.

No estimated price was given, but my immediate reaction was “Twenty bucks each? Gimme a dozen.”

The research was published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

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The cervid economy

The upcoming Volvo S90 has a feature I wish had existed, oh, several years ago:

Important for some parts of the country is “Large Animal Detection,” which, unsurprisingly, detects and warns of roadside deer, moose, and other large animals to minimize collisions.

Let’s hope this catches on and is replicated through less expensive makes, so that either I or Robert Stacy McCain will have a chance of getting it.

Note: Title changed since original publication.

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No Arial photography available

However, an emergency call was placed to the serif’s office:

(Via Dodd.)

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No boys allowed

No, they really do mean it:

To help women find somewhere to indulge their geeky hobbies in a welcoming environment without feeling self-conscious, a cafe which caters to only female Otaku has opened recently in Osaka. It’s called Ataraxia Cafe, and although there’s no membership fee required to enter, you do have to take a test to prove that you’re Otaku enough to be there and be over the age of 18. If you pass the test, you’ll be allowed entry into what sounds like a total haven.

There’s free WiFi, bookshelves filled with manga and magazines, work stations with sewing machines and mannequins where cosplayers can work on their costumes, a cosplay wig trimming service, and plenty of power outlets for keeping laptops and portable gaming devices fully charged. Plus, you can order food and drink to keep you going through whatever geeky activity you decide to take up that day. Why would you ever leave?

From what I know about my half (more or less) of the species, I have to figure that this place is going to do land-office business or better.


If you’re able to read Japanese and you’d love to know if you’d pass the Otaku test, you can find it here and visit the website here.

Something like this might even work in the States for women hobbyists, Otaku or otherwise.


Wolves being fed

The wrong thing to say at the end of a road trip is “Well, at least it’s only the Timberwolves.” Granted, Minnesota trailed by 11 after the first quarter. But from then on, the Wolves played the Thunder better than even up, largely on the strength of their bench. Yes, really. Oft-injured Shabazz Muhammad played like he’d never had so much as the sniffles, bagging 20 points on 8-15 shooting. Slumping Zack LaVine suddenly came out of his slump, going 7-10 for 21 points and retrieving eight rebounds. And while Gorgui Dieng didn’t score, he blocked six Thunder shots. Oklahoma City didn’t help itself by going nearly five minutes in the fourth quarter without a field goal. Royce Young said it best: “The Thunder have been trying to just coast to this win since the first quarter ended.” With three minutes left, the Wolves, who had been down as many as 18, pulled within three at 89-86. (Telltale Statistic: it was 60-48 at the half, which should tell you how feeble OKC’s offense really was.) Finally Kevin Durant called a halt to this sort of thing and connected on four consecutive shots plus four free throws, giving the Thunder a 101-96 win that they very nearly pissed away.

Maybe I’m wondering why Sam Mitchell started the five he did, scoring 41, more than half of which came from Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins, when he got 56 out of his bench. Maybe he’s no better a prognosticator than the rest of us. But his frontcourt is older than God: Tayshaun Prince and Kevin Garnett, who knocked down one shot between them. (Prince got it.) On the upside, everyone got a chance to look at Karl-Anthony Towns, who posted a double-double (14 points/10 boards) in the middle. He’s got some potential.

Durant, doing that Durant thing at last, finished with 30 points, though it took him 25 shots to get there. Russell Westbrook double-doubled again: 22 points, 11 dimes. But the only other Thunder player in double figures was Enes Kanter, whose 18 points was 62 percent of the bench total. And you have to figure that Billy Donovan was hoping not to play any of the starters more than 30 minutes tonight, what with a game against the Mavericks tomorrow night. File that hope under “dashed.”


Rams to roam

The Cleveland/Los Angeles/St Louis Rams are the Los Angeles Rams once more [warning: autostart video];

NFL owners in Houston voted 30-2 to ratify the Rams’ relocation application for an immediate move to L.A., where the team will eventually begin play at owner Stan Kroenke’s proposed stadium site in Inglewood in 2019. It’s a seismic decision that returns the highest level of professional football to the country’s second-largest media market after a 21-year absence.

The Rams could be joined by the Chargers, who have a one-year option to decide if they want to relocate and join the Rams in Inglewood. The window creates the possibility — however slight — that the Chargers could remain in San Diego. The city is hosting a June vote for $350 million in public funding toward a new facility to replace Qualcomm Stadium. It is possible the Chargers put off a final decision until that vote takes place.

Naw. They’re outta there. (Unless, of course, they accept Roger Goodell’s offer of $100 million to stay put.)

The Raiders, however, will stay in Oakland; they withdrew their application for relocation. And they will cash a check from Goodell.

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