And as I still walk on

One small item from the Wikipedia article on the Traveling Wilburys:

[Jeff] Lynne and [Tom] Petty co-wrote a song with Del Shannon for Shannon’s album Rock On! (1991), which Lynne produced. This spawned rumors that Shannon would join the group.

Downside of this: that album appeared posthumously, Del having taken his own life in 1990.

That said, Lynne probably knew the Del Shannon oeuvre as well as anyone; the 2001 reissue of the Electric Light Orchestra album Discovery featured a suitably ELO-ized cover of “Little Town Flirt.” But before that track was pulled from the vault and completed, the Wilburys took a shot at the greatest Del Shannon song of them all:

“Runaway” was my favorite song 55 years ago, and you’ll have a tough time dislodging it today. And tomorrow would have been Del Shannon’s 82nd birthday.

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What’s more, it almost scans

This would seem well-nigh unassailable:

(Via Tony Woodlief.)

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Which explains the Ho, Ho, Ho

Some apparently would even pay for the privilege:

Although a pound and a half seems, um, er, never mind.

(Via @Smatt.)

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Barely better than clubs

The diamond industry (think De Beers) would have you believe that synthetic, laboratory-created diamonds are somehow inferior to those dug out of a mine. Actually, there’s not very much special about any diamonds regardless of provenance:

Don’t believe a word of the hype from the diamond industry about how “natural” gems are somehow “better” than synthetic gems. They’re lying — and, what’s more, they’ve been living a lie for generations. You see, there are parts of the world where diamonds are common or garden items. If it were allowed (it’s not), I could take you for a walk in the so-called Sperrgebiet — “Forbidden Area” — in Namibia, and literally pick up diamonds off the sand as we walk. I know. I’ve done it on an escorted tour, near Oranjemund. (Of course, the area has long been stripped of most of its best diamonds, at enormous profit to the local diamond industry but giving virtually nothing back to the local population or the country.)

But there is a difference, right?

Put two identical gems next to one another, one natural and the other synthetic, and you probably won’t be able to tell them apart unless you examine them microscopically. (Indeed, the synthetic gem may well be “superior” to the natural one, in that it’ll probably contain fewer impurities.)

What price mystique? Ask the poor shlub who spent student-loan-level fundage on a solitaire for his ladylove.

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And they call it puppy love

“2016: The Year in Dog Sex” is Robert Stacy McCain’s title for a roundup of alleged humans who couldn’t keep their hands (or worse) away from Fido. The first story was disturbing enough:

Jesus Gutierrez, 39, lived with his 43-year-old girlfriend and her pet Maltese dog, Princess, in a New York City apartment. One day in April, when the girlfriend left for work, she set up a video camera to record what was going on in the apartment during her absence. She was certainly correct in suspecting that Gutierrez was up to no good. Prosecutors in New York say Gutierrez “assaulted the dog for a half hour, sodomizing the dog with his fingers … The dog was visibly distressed in the video, prosecutors said.” Gutierrez was arrested “and the traumatized dog was taken to a veterinary hospital,” the New York Daily News reported.

I think I take this personally because I used to date someone who lived with a Maltese, and while I would occasionally chide the little furball for yappiness, this seems like an awfully cruel thing to do to an awfully small dog, especially an awfully small dog who isn’t in a position to consent to such.

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Decaf for CAFE

Everybody except your friendly neighborhood treehugger — the ones who live near me are downright jovial, but your mileage may vary — can find something wrong with the government’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy scheme. So far, though, only Jack Baruth has figured out a simple solution:

Two weeks ago, the EPA announced that it would “finalize” its 2025 regulations earlier than expected. This action has no force of law; it’s merely meant to enshrine President Obama’s desires in writing before President Trump takes over. There is no reason that Mr. Trump could not change these regulations as he desires. Early indications are that he’s not terribly impressed by the EPA in general. He might choose to lower CAFE targets a bit. He might choose to abolish them altogether.

I have a different suggestion, one that will probably manage to enrage both the tree-huggers AND the red-state conservatives. I think he should set ambitious CAFE goals that apply to both cars and trucks equally. Instead of 60mpg for cars and 30mpg for trucks, how about 45mpg for everybody? Let’s stop playing favorites and picking winners. There should be one CAFE for everybody.

Cars are becoming increasingly trucklike, just to meet that lower standard: the late, unlamented Chrysler PT Cruiser had just enough truckitude in its design to allow the Pentastar to include it in the truck average, and newer vehicles from FCA and others don’t even pretend to be cars anymore. I don’t know about you, but I am weary of these so-called “crossovers” with jacked-up height and visual bulk.

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A defiring moment

Francis W. Porretto’s been hanging around that Plutarch guy again. Here he evokes the tale of the Ship of Theseus:

At this time, the Obama Administration is, for all practical purposes, the State that governs the U.S. However, as of the coming January 21, that will no longer be the case according to our Constitution. But what if every single component of the federal executive branch as it stands today were to “re-assemble” somewhere after 1/21/2017 and assert that it’s still the government of the United States?

FWP concludes that this can end in only one of two ways:

Clearly there are only two possible outcomes to such a development: raucous laughter and civil war. Hope for the former.

I suspect it at least partly depends on the impostors’ (as I assert they would be) fear of the latter.

I’d be willing to bet, though, that Presidential advisor/string-puller Valerie Jarrett has at least thought about it.

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Four or more on the floor

The Truth About Cars put up this Question of the Day yesterday: “What keeps you in a stick shift?”

Of the first hundred or so answers, this one struck me as particularly on point, despite its politically-incorrect undertones:

I live in Detroit. A manual is a darn near mandatory anti-theft system, what with staggeringly few people able to drive it.

Of course, this viewpoint is just as valid outside the Motor City.

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Interim scrutiny

As usual, I had my auto-insurance premium billed to a card; not as usual, the amount billed was substantially less than I had been led to expect. We’re talking $24.70 less for the six-month period, which is nothing to sneeze at. I pulled up the online version of the policy, and each of the coverages has been repriced downward a smidgen. Compared with the actual November bill:

  • Liability (injury): down $5.40.
  • Liability (property): down $4.90.
  • Uninsured motorists: down $5.30.
  • Comprehensive: down $3.80.
  • Collision: down $5.30.
  • Road service: no change.
  • Rental reimbursement: no change.

I don’t know what brought this on — the actual amount of coverage is unchanged — but for some reason, last week they decided they were overcharging me, and the sensible thing to do when you’re overcharging someone is to not do that.

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Win chill

The Miami Heat have had problems this season, winning only ten of their first 31 games, and Goran Dragic is sidelined, which doesn’t help them. Still, it would not have been wise for the Thunder to take them too lightly: guard Josh Richardson is a legitimate threat, and the Heat have two Johnsons on the bench. And then there’s Hassan Whiteside, who can kill you if he’s given the opportunity. OKC, accordingly, worked on not giving Whiteside the opportunity, holding him to 12 points and seven rebounds. Richardson was as good as his reputation suggests, rolling up 22 points, and the Johnson twins (James and Tyler, who are not related) combined for 33 of Miami’s 39 bench points. Still, they couldn’t fend off a Russell Westbrook triple-double — 28-17-11 — and the Thunder reserves continue their transformation into a viable second unit, picking up 46 points, led by Enes Kanter (natch) with 19. That’s 2-0 against the Heat for the season, with the Thunder winning 106-94, starting this road trip on the right foot. Then again, I was kind of hoping to see Dion Waiters, dealt to the Heat this past summer, but he drew a DNP-CD.

There was one statistical area where Miami proved superior: the steal, ten of which they pulled off against the Thunder. (OKC executed only four.) And there was one amusing tidbit to be found among the Thunder numbers: Alex Abrines went 4-7 from the three-point line. The rest of the team: 1-12. This is not to say that Double A will be inheriting the mantle of reserve sharpshooter while Anthony Morrow is starting. Then again, A-Mo was 1-5 from downtown.

Next up, on Thursday: the Grizzlies. Memphis is right behind OKC in the Western Conference standings, and they’re 12-7 at the FedEx Forum. Not untouchable, but not a patsy, either, and they failed to subdue the Celtics in Boston tonight, losing 113-103, though that was the second night of a back-to-back. Then again, they also lost the first night, 112-102 to the Magic. Can the Thunder beat them by ten? We shall see.

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Visit historic Savannah

Savannah Guthrie, co-host of NBC’s Today Show since 2012, turns forty-five, um, today. What you might figure: she has the requisite eye-candy quality for broadcast TV. What you might not have figured: she has her J.D. degree — magna cum laude, at that — from Georgetown University Law Center.

As a TV person, though, she is expected to be on camera a lot. This first picture is from 2014, a couple months before the birth of her first child — she’s married to Democratic political consultant Michael Feldman — in which she gets to show off her “baby bump.”

Savannah Guthrie shows off her baby bump

Savannah Guthrie takes a seat

Savannah Guthrie gets her kicks a seat

I have no idea what the heck is going on here, but Natalie Morales (I assume) seems awfully amused, and for Matt Lauer, I have to assume this is in character.

And then there’s this, with Idina Menzel and Ryann Redmond:

I wonder what Gretchen Wilson thinks.

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Potential seizure warning

If Nine Inch Nails sounded any more industrial than this, they’d have to be inspected by OSHA. “Burning Bright,” the closer from the Not the Actual Events EP, sounds very much like a throwback to the Downward Spiral and Fragile days, and the video will hurt your face so much I’m not even embedding it here. (Here’s the link.) At the very least, Atticus Ross, now credited as a full member of NIN, grasps the original NIN Zeitgeist, and on this particular track, Dave Navarro adds some delightfully discordant guitar work.

In terms of Halo numbers, Not the Actual Events seems to be number 29, with 30 reserved for an extended instrumental version of The Fragile, currently scheduled for early 2017.

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If it’s so smart

“It’s a Smart TV,” we are told. And yet it does dumb things like this:

The “letter,” ostensibly signed by FBI head James Comey, warns you about your wicked ways and imposes a penalty of $500, payable however they so specify. (Hint: It’s not going to the Feds in any way, shape, size or form.) If this be ransomware, it’s cheap; but I suspect it’s just intended for the lulz, not for the Bitcoin.

(Via @SwiftOnSecurity.)

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Deep pockets, were there pockets

Somebody somewhere is making money off naked people:

Social nudism/naturism is presenting investment opportunities, according to a lite article on a site called Clapway.

Some of the numbers it cites are encouraging, if not overwhelming evidence of the investment potential of social nudism/naturism: “50 million Europeans visit a nudist beach at least once a year.” And “the industry is worth $400 million worldwide.” And “major holiday (vacation) companies include nudist-oriented activities,” including the top three in Britain.

You may have noticed that the places mentioned are not in North America, where there is an industry, but not much of one. Or maybe “not much of two” might be more appropriate; there’s the Old Guard at the traditional resorts, and there are some youngsters looking for something less, well, traditional. There are times that I think both sides view the other with suspicion.

And then there’s that whole “American = puritan” thing. You never quite know where it’s going to strike, but you know it’s never far away. It even divides families: there were five of us growing up, and two eventually embraced life in the nude, while three were horrified at the very thought. Certainly neither of my kids have ever shown any interest in the subject. I have friends who would happily doff their duds, but aren’t about to start until [insert far-off event, usually something along the lines of “when the kids move away”].

Vacation facilities in the States, by and large, seem to be indifferent to those of us without swimsuits. I say “seem” because there’s always the chance that I might be wrong. A friend once told me that a local water park had one heavily-unadvertised clothing-optional event each season. “Should we go?” I asked. For some reason, we never did; I tend to believe this was because she was married at the time and didn’t want to upset whatever applecarts might be parked around the home.

The Old Guard, incidentally, has a tendency to close ranks against one particular subgroup: single guys. This is one reason I haven’t taken advantage of its facilities; besides, I would much rather have someone go with me, even apart from the Rules. (I even hate going to dinner alone; it seems like such a waste of a potential good time.) Maybe someday, if I survive this current series of health crises.

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The Age of Trump

To hear some people tell it, it’s the end of the world as they know it. We should be so lucky.

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And Manhattan yields

Three in the morning on the 6th of December in the City of New York, and here’s a guy who makes 240 green lights in a row:

Noah hits 240 green lights. from Shawn Swetsky – Post Producer on Vimeo.

Which says something about NYC, too:

The fact that this feat is possible at all say a lot about the New York City system’s efficiency. Fewer stops means quicker travel times and better fuel mileage. Yes, [Noah] Forman’s drive happened during off hours in order to avoid traffic, but sometimes those are the best times to get out and drive.

I don’t think I’ve ever made ten in a row here in the Okay City.

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