Zoom it yourself

Kids on Yahoo! Answers are prone to questions like “What should I study in college? I need to make enough to afford a Lamborghini.” Not going to happen, of course, but they persist, until you ask them “Why don’t you build your own?”

Ken Imhoff spent 17 years building a replica Countach, with a Ford 351 Cleveland sitting amidships, fed by more carburetors than most people have seen in a lifetime.

As early as 1980, the Countach was selling new for over $100,000. Imhoff surely spent more than that to hand-build his. And once he was done, he realized he had no place to go.

Then he looked skyward:

“It was an exercise of human self-centered, egotistical, selfishness that just about ended my marriage and losing our home. As my faith begins to grow, I realize God gave me the talent to do what I do and there is nothing wrong with that; my only mistake was not using it to glorify Christ.”

So he hit the road with his homebrew ministry.


Reelin in the years

This Rube Goldberg-esque glycoprotein is called reelin:

Crystalline structure of reelin

It’s named for the reeler mouse, a mutant with really terrible motor skills.

Reelin is a complicated chemical found floating around in your body. Near as I can tell, it has some influence over the central nervous system. I got onto this from a Reddit link to a Wikipedia passage about schizophrenia, one of my least favorite diseases.

It’s a busy little substance:

Reelin has been suggested to be implicated in pathogenesis of several brain diseases. The expression of the protein has been found to be significantly lower in schizophrenia and psychotic bipolar disorder, but the cause of this observation remains uncertain as studies show that psychotropic medication itself affects reelin expression. Moreover, epigenetic hypotheses aimed at explaining the changed levels of reelin expression are controversial. Total lack of reelin causes a form of lissencephaly. Reelin may also play a role in Alzheimer’s disease, temporal lobe epilepsy and autism.

A mere 3,461 amino acids go into this stuff, which sort of reminds me of why I never became a chemist:

I’m not very good at chemistry. Oh, I understand the basics well enough, water is made of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, but once you get past the basics there is an endless profusion of chemical compounds and I quickly become lost. It’s almost like the English language, you can stick words, or atoms, together in a limitless number of ways. If you use it every day, those combinations will become familiar to you, like the books you have read. But if you don’t immerse yourself in this sea of arcane knowledge it will always be gibberish.

And even then, I suspect, you’re always going to be at least somewhat behind the times.

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Credulity in the 21st century

Patrick Nonwhite, one of the two wise guys behind the DPRK News Service, billed as the “Official News feed of Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea,” has learned that some people simply have to believe in things, no matter how absurd. He relays this tale:

Our first big media mention, in which Greta Van Susteren, then at Fox and now at MSNBC, quoted us in her Fox blog as proof that North Korea was behind the hacking of Sony Pictures at the time The Interview was released. Plenty of people, including me through another account, told her she might be wrong about this, then she doubled down by stating that while “some say” the account is a parody, she believed it to be true. Then I predicted what the account would tweet ten minutes in the future. My prediction was correct. She took the blog post down and sent it to the memory hole. (I should add Ms. Van Susteren is a very nice person.)

Just don’t try to tell her she might be wrong.

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Strange search-engine queries (607)

Monday morning, as usual — for 11 years, anyway — we open up the big machine in the far corner and look around for things that people were searching for that, purely by coincidence, happened to be here. If they’re at least marginally amusing, so much the better.

iyambo chwo:  I’m guessing this is not something like Purina Klipspringer Chow.

devon dietary disagree dispatch:  I’m guessing this is also not something like Purina Klipspringer Chow.

if we use the analogy that some u.s. families have an income that could be represented by the height of mount everest, then the average american family has an income that is:  Halfway down the Mariana Trench.

dumpster rental thoreau:  I’m pretty sure Henry David Thoreau never rented a Dumpster.

protect adult brief 32 42 medium white disposable sold each quantity per 1 ea category undergarments product class undergarments:  Price includes air freight via Incontinental Airlines.

jenny scordamaglia birthday:  Not sure when it is, but she’ll probably be wearing her birthday suit.

lobotomy corporation rule 34:  Which lobe responds to visual stimuli?

how to remove shrink wrap from febreze small spaces:  Use small scissors.

stereo stone:  Actually, there are two stones, one on each side.

moab base jumping accident:  Landed on a stone. (Actually, two stones, one on each side.)

everything’s a rich man’s trick snopes:  Lately, Snopes hasn’t exactly been rolling in it.

bullet dealer missouri:  Often, they sell bullets in the same place they sell guns.

which way does the sun rotate:  That way. [points]

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No longer a young man

From earlier this month:

Rick Stevens, the former lead singer of Tower of Power, died Tuesday [5 September] after a battle with cancer. He was 77.

Stevens replaced Rufus Miller in the R&B band in 1969 and three years later, their album Bump City put Tower of Power in the national spotlight, including hit single “You’re Still a Young Man.”

In 1976, Stevens, who had left the band shortly after their big hit, was now addicted to drugs and shot three men to death during a deal gone wrong. He was sentenced to life in prison, where he kicked his addiction before being released on parole in 2012 after 36 years behind bars.

I heard about this, and thought: Some of the Tower of Power guys have been together for nearly 50 years now. Wouldn’t it have been great if Rick Stevens got to sing with them one more time?

He did, and it was:

And hey, the hippest threads and the bad boogaloo will never, ever die.


As Her Majesty turns away

Fortunately, we were left some nourishment:

Majestic ass biscuit

And also fortunately, we can get our hands on something that costs less than butter.

(Frighteningly, via a Tweeter of the same name.)


Fa-la-la-la-la, such folderol

Mention of the mostly forgotten Dunwich Records label today usually brings either puzzlement or H. P. Lovecraft references. (Before you ask: Dunwich’s in-house publishing unit was called Yuggoth Music, which should clear that up.) The label charted only four records, all of them by the Shadows of Knight, best known for a relatively sanitary cover of Them’s (Van Morrison’s) “Gloria.” But a lot of their vault stuff was interesting, including this weird little mashup of a Christmas carol and a Dave Brubeck hit:

Issued as Dunwich 144 in late November or early December of 1966, “Deck Five” never even got close to charting.

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But hey, it’s not a tax

“We didn’t come to the State Capitol to start raising taxes.”

Um, there’s a budget hole you could steer an aircraft carrier through, and the state constitution forbids deficit spending.

“Listen up, goddamn it. We didn’t come to the State Capitol to start raising taxes.”

And so it came to pass that this came to pass:

Letter from Child Support Services announcing a new fee

After all, those custodial parents are just rolling in extra cash these days.

Aren’t they?

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Fall flowers can really hang you up so much

Middle of the week, I spotted this newly opening bud, and thought it was awfully odd.

End of the week, I got a picture of it, and was further surprised:

An unexpected white rose

I mean, I’ve seen lots of shades of pink, but this isn’t going to pass for pink anywhere.

About 18 inches away from it, on the very same bush, this one’s coming in:

An expected pink rose

Matches the house pretty well, in fact.

(Click to embiggen: the larger sizes are for now stored on Flickr.)

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Not at all down at the heels

They’re slick enough to make finding an exact match out there trickier than I expected. The shoe this most resembles is “Skipper,” which is pretty sharp for $119.

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Yes, Ketevan:

Cover art for Ketevan by Katie Melua

As it turns out, Katie Melua’s birth name was “Ketevan,” a perfectly reasonable name for a female of Georgian descent, and I don’t mean Macon. The last time she hit these pages, a couple of years ago, was due to a small controversy regarding her enormous hit “Nine Million Bicycles.” We’re bringing her back because it’s her birthday. (She’s thirty-three.)

Katie Melua joins the discussion

Katie Melua is all kinetic

Katie Melua on the couch

Ketevan, the album, came out in 2013; instead of the usual music video, the lead single, “I Will Be There,” written by her then-producer Mike Batt, came out with this full concert version.

Speaking of concerts — well, you must see this 2004 live set. She doesn’t come in until about 3:15, and this is arguably the most eccentric version of the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins original:

(That’s Mike Batt on the piano; I suspect that he came up with this arrangement.)


I imagine it’s kinda chewy

My Saturday-night scraping through the Walmart grocery-shopping site yielded up this surprise:

Goodyear F70-14

Definitely cheap, even for a non-radial, but I shudder at the thought of the taste, not to mention the idea of having to look for a four-foot-wide slow cooker.

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Nunavut works

Auto repairs can be problematic, even if the automaker is footing the bill because of a recall:

When John Fawcett and his wife, Sandra, learned that they were pregnant, he got down to work. He had never owned a car before. In Iqaluit, Nunavut, where the Newfoundland transplant had lived for 12 years, and where a cab any which way costs $7 per trip, owning a car never seemed essential.

But now the 33-year-old was going to be a father.

Fawcett settled on a red 2014 Jeep Cherokee with about 22,000 km on it, and went to the bank to negotiate a $22,000 loan to pay for it. The car was serviced. It was clean, and its new owner was thrilled, until mid-August, when the four-wheel drive with the grey interior abruptly shifted into neutral while he was driving home from work.

This is what your dealership service department would delicately refer to as a “known issue”:

[The Jeep was] under a manufacturer’s recall for four different issues, including what Transport Canada describes on its website as “an unexpected shift to neutral which could result in a loss of motive power, which in conjunction with traffic and road conditions, and the driver’s reactions may increase the risk of a crash.”

Unfortunately, there is no Fiat Chrysler dealership anywhere near Iqaluit: the nearest is in Ottawa. He might as well go to Greenland, which is closer.

The cost of a return flight was $24,000 for a car that cost $22,000. The cost to ship the vehicle, by ship, was closer to $8,000, but came with the caveat that if Fawcett shipped in August he wouldn’t see the Jeep again until the ice broke next spring.

What would you do? This is what Fawcett did:

Iqaluit may not have much in the way of roads or foliage, but it does have wireless. Sick of paying for pricey taxis and left with few good options, Fawcett took to harassing the automaker on Twitter, then formed a petition calling on all northerners to boycott FCA products. What followed was a “promising” phone call from a sympathetic-sounding FCA representative named Jessica.

The National Post confirmed Thursday that FCA, Fawcett, and his local garage have struck an agreement. The automaker will fly a certified mechanic to Iqaluit, where winter is closing in fast, to fix that wiring harness and get Fawcett’s life back in gear.

Not that September is all that warm: the average daily high is 41°F and the low is just below freezing.

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Score one for the Timese machine

I mean, she’s just not the fellow we used to know:

(Via David Edward. That “Timese machine” stuff was ripped off from Joan Baez.)

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Behind the scene

Two weeks ago, I tossed out the following thoughts regarding Rebecca Black’s Not Then But Actually By God Now Out EP RE/BL:

Of course, the selling point for the EP is that it’s an actual EP, a proper CD with five tracks on it and some sort of case. Very few of these are likely to be pressed; she’s never sold anything but downloads before, and her youngish audience may not be able to come up with the premium price.

I’m assuming the last two singles, “The Great Divide” and “Foolish,” will be on the disc. That means two new tracks. And no, I don’t think “Friday” will be on there as a bonus track.

Spot on, with one exception: there are six tracks, with both original and extra crispy Crash Cove remix of “The Great Divide” on hand. (Can’t blame her for that: it’s the remix that got into the top half of Billboard’s Dance Club chart.) The two new songs are pretty decent: I liked “Satellite” better than “Wasted Youth.”

Those who pre-ordered through Pledge Music, as I did, have already received the downloadable version; I was delighted to see that FLAC copies were available.

And to justify the “Behind the scene” title, here’s an outtake from the RE/BL photo shoot:

Outtake from the photo shoot for Rebecca Black's EP RE/BL

I’ll report in when the actual disc hits my mailbox. In the meantime, the iTunes Store AAC version is $6.99; each individual track goes for $1.29, an unusually high price point for Rebecca Black.


A miner for a heart of zinc

Step right up and take a chance:

Some people have gotten so serious about it that they are building a computer farm in Iceland for the specific purpose of mining Bitcoins. I gave them $100 to see if they can make any money for me. Some people might want to call it an investment, but to me it’s more like gambling. It’s just enough money that I should remember to check on it occasionally to see if it is producing any results. It’s entirely possible they have faked the video and have taken my money and spent it [on] lattes for all their friends. We shall see.

This is the video of which he speaks. The actual value of bitcoin varies, like every other currency, “real” or crypto. (Possible exception: the Venezuelan bolívar, which has been worth pretty much nothing for some time.)

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