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.

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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.

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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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Van Haiku

Might as well jump in and pass this around:

This sort of thing is why I don’t have 837,000 followers.

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On the war-torn road to Damascus

Dave Schuler leaves you no doubt where he stands:

The opinion pages of the major news outlets today are filled with op-eds, the gist of which is that the only thing wrong with the illegal, immoral, and counter-productive attacks on Syria of late last week is that they weren’t nearly damaging enough and there should be many more of them. I won’t even both to link to them or name their authors. They are mostly from the same people who have been urging us to war for the last two decades. We have very little to show from taking their advice than dead or permanently wounded Americans and the vast number of dead in a dozen countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and West Asia. This is supposed to cultivate friends, increase our credibility, and make us more secure. It has done none of those things.

I demur to this extent: were they “damaging enough,” there wouldn’t have to be many more of them.

I don’t dispute that Assad deserves a Tomahawk up his backside. But no technology we’re likely to have any time soon can deliver such a surgical strike with scalpel-like precision.

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And while we’re all judicial and everything

Christine Sullivan was the public defender in seasons three through nine of Night Court. Marjorie Armstrong “Markie” Post made this role something more than merely memorable, and it wasn’t because she was easy on the eyes:

Markie Post stretches a point

Markie Post looks the other way

Markie Post on the red carpet

Although, yeah, it helped at times:

The man writing the check is Pat Corley.

From her later Hearts Afire series, with the late John Ritter:

Most recently, Markie appeared on Chicago P.D. as the mom of Detective Lindsay (Sophia Bush).

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There goes the judge

Because I have to, this scene from season three of Night Court, a wondrous juxtaposition of pathos and punchlines, with John Larroquette and the late Harry Anderson:

You may remember that Harry Stone got his judgeship by accident: the outgoing mayor of New York made a crapton of appointments on his last day in office, and Harry was the only nominee for judge who was actually at home when the phone call came. You tell me life isn’t like that.

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In lieu of a trip to Naples

It’s been at least 15 years since I even saw a carton of Neapolitan ice cream, and I never saw a tub of the stuff until this week’s shopping extravaganza.

And since memory fails me, I turn to you guys: Is there a canonical arrangement for the flavor sections? (This one has chocolate in the middle.)

I suspect that in Italy, if they actually serve this in Italy, they use the colors of the Italian flag, which would imply a section of pistachio in place of chocolate. (I’ve actually been in Italy less than 24 hours, and had no ice cream during that period. What was I thinking?)

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But is there Danger?

McG finds fault with that Lost in Space reboot:

[T]he idea of a cast of regulars numbering in the dozens is also a consequence of 21st-century sensibilities, in that a plot line without a large (and of course diverse) variety of social entanglements seems too far outside the range of experience for the half-mythical millennial viewers who inhabit Hollywood’s stereotype factory. How can you relate to characters who aren’t constantly sidetracked from grubby issues like survival by trivial interpersonal drama? Who could live like that??? At my age, I’m more inclined to sympathize with the robot.

There is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a market for trivial interpersonal drama, albeit not a particularly discerning one.

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It was inevitable, of course

It’s a theological and philosophical dilemma you’ve surely encountered before:

Guys like Luther and especially John Calvin had a problem: God’s omniscience implies predestination — if God knows everything that will happen (which is the definition of “omniscience”), then obviously He knows everything you’re going to do, which means He knows, and has always known, whether you’re going to Heaven or Hell. But if that’s true, then what did Christ die for? Dying for our sins is pointless — the slate is wiped clean for that second, and only that second, because we’re just going to go on sinning, as God Himself knows full well. For Christ’s death to have done what it did, we must have free will … which means God doesn’t know what we’re going to do minute-to-minute, any more than we ourselves, His poor creatures, do.

There’s an answer for this, of course* (read it later), but it only applies to God. For everyone else selling a Determinist philosophy — Marx, the Stoics, even my beloved Hobbes — the problem is insurmountable. If the Revolution must happen, comrade, then what’s the point of all this “activism”? Y’all are, as the man said, like a group of astronomers who know with mathematical certainty an eclipse is coming… but who immediately form a Party and start murdering people, to make sure it comes. The very foundation of your philosophy has a crack, and all the ugly neologisms in the world can’t fill it.

Still, as they gaze into the abyss, what they’re seeing is not the abyss staring back at them, but a receptacle for more ugly neologisms: imagining a demand, they hasten to provide a supply. And they have no concept of Christ dying for their sins; their priority is making sure that you die for yours, and their idea of generosity is making sure that you know what those sins are, by telling you at every available opportunity.

And now to solve the aforementioned predestination issue:

Read the rest of this entry »

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A heart most ancient

Peter Grant’s music roundup yesterday spent some time on British singer/songwriter Tanita Tikaram and her biggest hit, the mysterious-sounding “Twist in My Sobriety”. Says Grant of this 1988 song:

I think it reflects her eclectic mixture of genetic and cultural heritage, which has endowed her with a secular sort of mysticism that’s sometimes impenetrable, but definitely appealing.

Ancient Heart, the album who made her world-(semi)-famous, never got into the American Top 50, and subsequent recordings drew fewer buyers. Still, it was a gem. “Twist” was her second single; the first, “Good Tradition,” sounds like it might be happier if you could figure out what the heck she was talking about:

From her 2016 album Closer to the People, the song “The Way You Move”:

It’s a love song. (I think.)

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