Extra empty

Now this is just sad:

Thursday the nearest Popeye’s had no Spicy chicken except for thighs, and neither Coca-Cola nor Dr Pepper. Still, a workable meal could be had with judicious substitutions. But being totally out of chicken? That’s truly sad. In terms of sadness, in fact, it’s right down there with this scary story from six decades before:

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Destined to repel

Fashion bloggers are not meek: they’ll style something and double-dog dare you to object to it. The lovely and talented Wendy Nguyen was sporting these shoes this week:

Fringed sandals from MR by Man Repeller

Of course, what I wanted to know is where the heck did these shoes come from. They’re part of the MR line by, um, Man Repeller.

Now I’ve read Leandra Medine’s Man Repeller blog now and then, and her fashion sense is based on this apparently inarguable premise: “Good fashion is about pleasing women, not men, so as it happens, the trends that we love, men hate.” I mean, she’s not repulsive or anything.

I had not noticed, though, that she’d introduced several garment lines, including those ineffably wacky shoes. (Yes, that fringe moves when you do.) I went back to Wendy’s Lookbook, contemplated them in the context of the rest of her outfit — a polka-dot top worn over barely visible shorts — and decided that this could be lived with, though Net-A-Porter expects you to fork over $485 for those shoes, which might be harder to endure.

As for the Man Repeller herself, she gave birth to twin girls last month. She and her husband of five years are delighted.

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Half a sack

Apparently I don’t understand American football (known as “football” in the US) as much as I used to, if I ever did.

ESPN is carrying an AP wire story about Marcus Williams, a cornerback just signed to a one-year deal by the Arizona Cardinals. The obligatory stats paragraph:

The 5-foot-11, 196-pound defensive back has 10 interceptions, 20 passes defended, 107 tackles (92 solo), 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in his career.

They split the credit for sacks these days?

I checked the local newspaper, and there was the same story — except that stat was listed as “2½ sacks.” Stylebook differences, I suppose.

Still, “half a sack” could describe any number of American politicians. As could “forced fumbles,” now that I think about it.

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I swear

Oath is the Verizon subsidiary which is tasked with breathing some life into AOL and Yahoo, previously thought to be moribund at best.

This is what I think of them:

Feel free to look at said splash screen. I don’t think it presents a threat to epileptics, but I could be wrong.

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Bank error in your favor (4)

It wasn’t so long that a giant Korean conglomerate inadvertently paid out billions in “accidental” dividends. The Germans, perhaps miffed, figured they could do the same:

A routine payment went awry at Deutsche Bank AG last month when Germany’s biggest lender inadvertently sent 28 billion euros ($35 billion) to an exchange as part of its daily dealings in derivatives, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The errant transfer occurred about a week before Easter as Deutsche Bank was conducting a daily collateral adjustment, the person said. The sum, which far exceeded the amount it was due to post, landed in an account at Deutsche Boerse AG’s Eurex clearinghouse.

The error, which took place in the final weeks of former Chief Executive Officer John Cryan’s tenure, was quickly spotted and no financial harm suffered. But the episode raises fresh questions about the bank’s risk and control processes, which Cryan had boasted of improving before his ouster.

As they say at Fark, we need one more for the trifecta.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)


Taken for granite

Lynn has a list of Bad Decorating Ideas, and most of them are just about this terrible:

5. Concrete Countertops — Concrete belongs outside as sidewalks and driveways. I don’t care what color you stain it, if you have a concrete countertop it just looks like you have a sidewalk on top of your kitchen cabinets.

Okay, one more:

9. Painted Brick — This is my number one pet peeve. Brick is a beautiful, low maintenance material. One of the best things about it is that you don’t have to paint it. Also, it can last for generations and since paint is hard to remove you are ruining it not just for yourself but for future owners.

So there.

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This could take a while

There was much hilarity based on the fact that the IRS Direct Pay site was down on the annual tax deadline. The real punchline, though, was in the government’s Official Notice:

IRS Direct Pay is down

Now that’s a serious maintenance period.

(Via American Digest.)

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Bomb bursting in air

The Oklahoma City National Memorial is a place like no other; no one who has seen it — around 300,000 visitors a year — has been unchanged by it.


Charge right down the street

This isn’t too much of a surprise:

Volkswagen’s ongoing penance for its diesel-emission scandal includes a serious investment in the United States’ EV charging infrastructure.

I did not, however, see this coming:

Electrify America (a subsidiary of Volkswagen Group) has announced it will be partnering with Walmart to install electric charging stations at 100 stores in 34 states across America. That way you can help save the environment while you’re stocking up on plastic cups and single-serve coffee pods that will end up being dumped into the ocean.

However, you can’t fault VW for that. It’s not the automaker’s fault citizens of the world think they can offset rampant consumer waste by purchasing an electric car. Besides, this is a wildly shrewd move on the part of both Volkswagen and Walmart. The store wins because the sites will be located near highways, encouraging low-charge automobiles to pull over and spend time shopping while their vehicle takes on electrons. Volkswagen wins because it has to do this in the first place and has a lot to gain by building a relationship with one of the biggest retailers in North America — if not the whole world.

Plus there is untold value in setting up charging stations in a place people are likely to frequent. That takes away some of the fears associated with range anxiety, and might just convince some shoppers to go electric. It’s a genius-level play, at least until e-commerce gets to a point where none of us ever leave the house.

And if there’s anything at all to those stories about Walmart’s checkout staffing, or lack thereof, you’ll almost certainly leave the store with at least 50 percent on the battery meter.

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Sibling revelry

Ah, siblings. Mine have checked out from this world, but I begrudge no one their inclination to celebrate theirs, even if they happen to be, as the phrase goes, sold separately:

But you knew that, right?

Barbie’s full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts. In a series of novels published by Random House in the 1960s, her parents’ names are given as George and Margaret Roberts from the fictional town of Willows, Wisconsin. In the Random House novels, Barbie attended Willows High School; while in the Generation Girl books, published by Golden Books in 1999, she attended the fictional Manhattan International High School in New York City (based on the real-life Stuyvesant High School).

And she looks pretty good for 59, wouldn’t you say?

(Via HelloGiggles.)

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Geared toward dishonesty

I don’t know that I’d admit to even thinking about this sort of thing: Can I pretend I m the original owner to take advantage of a non transferable warranty on a transmission?

I have to wonder which he’d prefer: a $3,000 repair bill or free housing courtesy of John Law.

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And it’s payback time

The Jazz, it was clear, were not about to be swept, but I don’t think anyone figured they’d claim Game Two with such aplomb. For that matter, the Jazz hadn’t won in Oklahoma City for more than seven years, and, well, when in doubt, you predict that the trend will continue. Not this time. Utah was utterly dominant in the fourth quarter: 28-16, which sounds pretty utter to me. Perhaps more to the point: OKC’s power triumvirate, Playoff P, ‘Melo and Brodie, scored exactly zero from the field in those 12 minutes. The Jazz survived a 19-0 run by the Thunder in the third to win it, 102-95, sending the series to Salt Lake City for Games Three and Four.

Once again, Donovan Mitchell sparkled; he wasn’t particularly efficient (10-25, 0-7 from three-point range), but he kept it up for more than 42 minutes and finished with a game-high 28 points. Ricky Rubio and Derrick Favors, neither much of a factor in Game One, were good for twenty or more this time around, and Favors added 16 rebounds as lagniappe, even more than Rudy Gobert, who had 15 to go with his 13 points.

The Westbrook-George-Anthony axis scored 19, 18 and 17 respectively, not enough to keep the Thunder afloat. Steven Adams? Well, he did what he could, until he collected that sixth foul and retired for the evening with 9 points. Scarier: the Jazz outrebounded the Thunder, 56-46. Rotations, unsurprisingly, were shortened by both coaches: each team played only nine men. Perhaps related: neither bench scored a whole heck of a lot, with OKC picking up 21 from the reserves, the Jazz only 16.

Games Three and Four will be played in Utah on Saturday and Monday. A whole lot of yammering about home-court advantage will be heard. Feel free to ignore it.


The “Semper” part of it

The Grim Reaper, that scythe-wielding son of a bitch, may have met his match:

The shoulder straightened as the bony finger touched it. It and its companion squared, and they rotated as their owner turned, his own eyes shaded under bushy brows and boring into those same eyeless sockets that stilled dissent. Brows furrowed, a chin thrust forth like a weapon. Death hesitated, unaccountably faltering, but then asserted itself and raised its hand again, beckoning with its finger.

“Come with you?” the man said, and sneered. Sneered! At Death! “I don’t think so, Skinny. Now why don’t you drop that toothpick. And. Give. Me. 20!”

At first, I figured the Reaper might report this as a major malfunction, but on reflection, it occurred to me that silence might be the better choice.

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Get back to where you once belonged

Or forget about keeping a seat in the Oklahoma House, I guess. This came in email:

A contest of candidacy has been filed by Nick Mahoney against Rep. Kevin McDugle, claiming Kevin has not met his residency requirements to file as a candidate for State House District 12.

Nick Mahoney, who is running against McDugle for the GOP nomination for House District 12, explained the basis for the challenge, “We have been made aware of evidence that strongly suggests Kevin McDugle has not lived in District 12 for at least the last six months. In fact, court documents show that McDugle vacated his residency that he claims in his filing for election in April 2017.”

The Oklahoma State Election Board requires candidates filing for State Representative to have lived in their district for the previous six months before filing. “From what the court documents show, Kevin has not fulfilled the requirements for residency set forth by Oklahoma law,” said Mahoney.

Nick Mahoney is a Republican running for House District 12. To learn more about Nick Mahoney, visit MahoneyforStateHouse.com.

Obligingly, Mr Mahoney sent along some pertinent links, one of which is a petition [pdf] by Mrs McDugle to cease being Mrs McDugle, which contains a statement to the effect that he moved out of the family home on the east side of Broken Arrow last April.

Amusingly, the Mahoney campaign doesn’t seem to be all that familiar with the ubiquitous mailing-list manager MailChimp. This was found near the bottom of the missive:

Generic MailChimp footer

I mention this because I can, being a member of the media and all.


Fill ‘er up with irregular

There are basically two ways to calculate octane ratings, both based on the arbitrary assignment of 100 to pure iso-octane. The European de facto standard is something called Research Octane Number, and it’s determined by comparing engine-knock resistance of a fuel to the known resistance of iso-octane. On the Continent generally, gasoline (diesel is different) is generally a minimum of 95 RON.

Just different enough is something called the Motor Octane Number, which uses a more complicated test regimen and produces numbers typically 9 to 12 less than the RON. Inexplicably, North America splits the difference and calls it the Anti-Knock Index; this is the number you see on US and Canadian pumps.

This matters because the auto industry wants to switch to a single fuel, rated at 95 RON:

On Friday, Dan Nicholson, General Motors’ vice president of global propulsion systems, told the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s environment subcommittee that switching to 95 octane would align the U.S. with Europe and is one of the most affordable ways to boost fuel economy and lower greenhouse emissions.

Well, they can afford it, anyway. Most of the stuff sold in Europe as RON 95 is 90 or 91 AKI, and Joe and Susan Sixpack will not be happy to hear that 87 AKI, which we laughingly call “regular,” might be replaced by something half a buck per gallon more expensive.

Which is not to say that Detroit is unaware of this situation:

David Filipe, vice president of Ford’s powertrain engineering, joined Nicholson to say 95 octane fuel must become more affordable for this strategy to work. “That’s been something that has been important to us. How do we do this without having a big impact on the customer?” he said. “We don’t want to put the burden onto the customer.” Filipe explained the cost must not add more than 5 cents per gallon.

Yeah, good luck with that. Selling only one grade doesn’t cut costs that much: as it stands, they sell only two grades, highest and lowest, and mix and match as needed to come up with intermediate grades.

Straight ethanol, incidentally, runs 99 RON. However, the loss in energy density offsets, and then some, the higher octane rating.

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Neutering PET

It’s always been a mouthful: polyethylene terephthalate. Understandably, it’s been shortened to PET. Unfortunately, its lifetime is as long as it ever was. But maybe it doesn’t have to stay that way:

Scientists have improved a naturally occurring enzyme which can digest some of our most commonly polluting plastics.

PET, the strong plastic commonly used in bottles, takes hundreds of years to break down in the environment.

The modified enzyme, known as PETase, can start breaking down the same material in just a few days.

This could revolutionise the recycling process, allowing plastics to be re-used more effectively.

The tricky part of this is that this particular bacterium, Ideonella sakaiensis, actually evolved, over about half a century, to dine on this plastic. The scientists are just improving on the original design:

A high definition 3D model of the enzyme was created, using the powerful x-ray beamline at Diamond Light Source in Oxfordshire.

Once they understood its structure, the team noted that they could improve the performance of PETase by adjusting a few residues on its surface.

A more efficient shape. And the best part is this: the plastic it eats isn’t going to evolve in the slightest. (We think.)

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