But is it safe?

Under certain conditions I suspect neither one of us would prefer to contemplate, nothing whatsoever is safe. Absent those conditions, and we hope we are, it’s possible to estimate, but watch that methodology:

Which car is safest to drive, you may wonder. How will you find out? You could simply sort the number of fatal crashes by model of car and then compare the totals. The car with the fewest fatalities must be safer.

But is it? By simply sorting and counting fatalities, you have decided to ignore lots of other variables that may play a role, and according to psychology professor Richard Nisbett that means your analysis may be so flawed as to be useless. He uses the car safety study as his own example, pointing out that drivers with unsafe driving habits may gravitate towards certain automobile types and thus skew the results. If all the leadfoots (leadfeet?) suddenly switched to Volvos, that vehicle model’s safety record might be quite different than it is. And if little old ladies started buying Dodge Challengers, their record might improve. Although you might have to select out the ones from Pasadena, at least when they are driving on Colorado Boulevard.

Dean — and Jan, were he still alive — would support that latter premise.

Incidentally, the Pasadena contingent had rivals off to the east, who drove Pontiacs.

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To the nines, or at least the sevens

Samantha Brick, four years ago, stirred the pot with the suggestion that women resented her because she was pretty, and that, well, they are wrong and they ought not to do that.

Today, she has more advice for women, and it’s decidedly harsher:

My, my how I chortled into my café au lait this week when I read that British mothers had plummeted to yet another all time low.

Yes, I’m talking about wearing pyjamas, which have become such common clobber at the school gate that a headteacher at a school in Darlington this week was forced to ban them. More worryingly, she caused such uproar for doing so one mother turned up wearing her nightclothes in protest.

Women what on earth are you thinking? The first crime you have committed is wearing clothes that should be left relegated to your childhood. Second of all, you’re wearing said saggy-bottomed, elastic-waisted, passion-killers in public.

She probably could have stopped there, but she didn’t:

Is it any wonder that your other half is sneakily logging on to Facebook in search of another lover, constantly volunteering to go overseas on “essential” work trips, and going to bed much later than you in a bid to avoid your could-try-harder, overweight self, encased in a sweaty man-made fibre outfit.

Samantha herself would never, ever do such a thing, but then she’s currently living in France, where such a thing is Simply Not Done.

Let me tell you, no French mother in possession of all her senses would ever dream of lounging around at home in a pair of pyjamas or even putting a pair on in order to go to bed (that’s what negligees are for).

As for sporting bedwear to the school gate? It would never ever happen in France.

Let us hope no one ever sends her a link to People Of Walmart.

And for the sake of completeness, here’s what she looks like today.

(Via Fark.)

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Once more, the power of cheese

Apparently it goes straight to your brain:

Researchers from the University of Michigan have revealed that cheese contains a chemical found in addictive drugs.

Using the Yale Food Addiction Scale, designed to measure a person’s cravings, the study found that cheese is particularly moreish because it contains casein.

The chemical, which is found in all dairy products, can trigger the brain’s opioid receptors, producing a feeling of euphoria linked to those of hard drug addiction.

Oh, great. Before long we’ll have regular hydrocodone and hydrocodone with cheese.

Scientists studying dairy products found that in milk, casein has a minuscule dosage. But producing a pound of cheese requires about 10 pounds of milk — with addictive casein coagulating the solid milk fats and separating them from the liquids.

As a result the super-strength chemical becomes concentrated when in solid dairy form, so you’ll get a higher hit of addictive casein by tucking into a cheese sandwich than you will in your morning bowl of cereal.

The management will not be responsible for anyone who reads this and then orders a pizza.

Note: “Moreish,” as a word, was new to me.

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Quote of the week

Roberta X on the folks charged with dealing with disasters:

It’s easy to gripe about government, especially at the bureaucrat level and even more so when it’s a wrestling-smoke job like managing emergencies. Even the description borders on an oxymoron! Maybe in An-Cap Libertopia, there’s a market solution to disaster; maybe all your neighbors will pitch in (just as they often do in emergencies in this world). Here in the world of what is, these government agencies do exist. They’re not going away and given that, I would rather see them in the hands of competent folks who think the job is worth doing than some tired, cynical timeserver.

For the people who moan, “Where were the Feds? Where was the state?” when things go wrong, here’s how it works: emergency response happens from the bottom up; first response is coordinated and supported at the county level if it needs it. If the county finds it too big, they get help from the state. If the state needs help, they yell for the Feds. FEMA — the good handing-out-water-and-blankets side, not the tinfoil hat fantasy seen in YouTube videos of rail yards — is by definition the last on the scene.

Which, if you ask me, is precisely as it should be: take care of things on the local level, and if those things get out of hand, go up a level. There’s a reason most disaster declarations are made by states, and it’s not just because the Feds expect it to be so.

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A new crease in the black hat

Anyone who owns a domain has likely received a “bill” from a third party offering to renew that domain at some ridiculous multiple of the actual registration price. Enough people have caught on to this scheme that now the scamsters are having to pretend they’re offering a service:

SEO pitch for wendex.net

Obviously the most important thing here is “SECURE ONLINE PAYMENT.” Amount of said payment: $63.00.

In the fine print down below:

You have received this message because you elected to receive special notification proposal. If you no longer wish to receive our notifications, please unsubscribe here or mail us a written request to US Main Office: SEO Domain Registration Company, Los Angeles, CA 90036, Email: seodomainregservice@mail.com or Asia Main Office: SEO Domain Registration Company, Shenzhen Futian, Email: seodomainregservice@mail.com. If you have multiple accounts with us, you must opt out for each one individually in order to stop receiving notifications notices. We are a search engine optimization company. We do not directly register or renew domain names. We are selling traffic generator software tools. This message is CAN-SPAM compliant. THIS IS NOT A BILL. THIS IS A NOTIFICATION PROPOSAL. YOU ARE UNDER NO OBLIGATION TO PAY THE AMOUNT STATED UNLESS YOU ACCEPT THIS NOTIFICATION PROPOSAL. This message, which contains promotional material strictly along the guidelines of the CAN-SPAM act of 2003. We have clearly mentioned the source mail-id of this email, also clearly mentioned our subject lines and they are in no way misleading. Please do not reply to this email, as we are not able to respond to messages sent to this address.

I want to see how a “written request” gets to the SEO Domain Registration Company without a street address in Los Angeles, CA 90036 (near Hancock Park and the Miracle Mile) or however the Chinese sort these things out in Futian district, Shenzhen.

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Fear the flame

Everyone in this part of the world eventually learns the subgenre of “fire weather,” a phenomenon that comes with dry air and high winds. Even the slightest spark, from whatever source, suddenly turns into a Major Blaze, and if the conditions are going to persist for a while, you’re likely to see a burn ban.

I was never quite sure how they actually quantified it, but this NWS graphic reveals the scale:

I’ve been here about forty years, and I don’t remember “historic” being used in this context. Which is probably a good thing.

The standard NWS term for those Texas counties is “Western North Texas,” the sort of description you’d need in a place the size of Texas; if you say “northwest Texas,” I start thinking the Panhandle and Amarillo.

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Slipping somewhere

Regular readers long ago noticed that I tend to put up a lot of pictures of women with nice legs. This is of course due to the fact that I tend to notice such pictures, and having noticed them, I find it relatively easy to generate some sort of text narrative. (Ah, the power of inspiration.) With that in mind, here’s singer Carly Rae Jepsen, a favorite in these parts — “I Really Like You,” from her E·MO·TION album, was my favorite single of 2015 — showing up on the red carpet at the People’s Choice Awards:

Carly Rae Jepsen at the 2016 People's Choice Awards

Tomorrow, she’ll appear as Frenchy, one of the Pink Ladies, in Fox TV’s production of Grease! Live. For the occasion, Billboard circulated this photo of the Pink Ladies in costume:

Carly Rae Jepsen as a Pink Lady

Either I’m going blind, Jepsen is playing Frenchy as an amputee, or some foolish, feckless Photoshopper deleted her right leg.

Note: Per @SwiftOnSecurity, Adobe objects to the term “Photoshopper.”

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It’s scam-tastic!

There are times when I think the criminally sneaky aren’t even trying anymore, and this is one of them:

When Robert Kleven switched on the news for his drive to work two weeks ago, he had no idea he was about to sink a high-profile lawsuit against General Motors Co. and embarrass one of the best-known plaintiffs’ lawyers in the U.S.

The news anchor described a long-awaited trial starting in federal court in Manhattan that day, the first over a deadly defect in millions of GM ignition switches. The plaintiff was a 49-year-old postman named Robert Scheuer. Kleven, a real estate agent in Tulsa, Oklahoma, knew that name. Two years earlier, he said in an interview, Scheuer had pulled a fast one on him.

Scheuer had altered a government check stub to make it look like he had hundreds of thousands of dollars in the bank, Kleven said. On the strength of that stub, Kleven had let Scheuer and his wife, Lisa, move in to a new house in suburban Tulsa before they had paid for it.

Said Kleven: “I didn’t want them getting away with another scam.” Let’s look at that check stub:

Check stub allegedy faked up by Robert Scheuer

Of those six digits before the decimal place, only the last three were legit. You’d think this would have been obvious after a cursory inspection.

Scheuer’s attorney, Robert Hilliard, was apparently readying a strategy to portray Scheuer and his wife as the All-American Family whose lives had been ruined when their Saturn Ion went berserk and crashed into a tree. Unanswered: the question of why someone with 400k to toss around would be driving a Saturn Ion, fercrissake.

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Tacos 101

And really, it shouldn’t be a surprise:

At the University of Kentucky, taco knowledge is power.

And why wouldn’t it be? In a time when tortillas are outselling bread and salsa is outselling ketchup in the US, the last thing anyone wants to be is ignorant about tacos — especially in the state of Kentucky. The state has one of the fastest-growing Latino populations in the country.

This semester, the university is offering an undergraduate course called “Taco Literacy: Public Advocacy and Mexican Food in the US South.” Led by Steven Alvarez, an assistant professor in the university’s Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies department, the class aims to teach students about Mexican foodways in Kentucky and the broader South.

Asked about the syllabus, Professor Alvarez answered:

You can find everything you would like to know at our website. We’re examining transnational community food literacies and how these connect the stories of people and food across borders. We explore the history of networks of Mexican and Mexican-American food in Kentucky by writing about recipes and rhetorics that deal with things such as authenticity, local variations and preparations, and how food literacies situate different spaces, identity, and forms of knowledge.

And at least it’s not called “Chalupa Studies.”

(Via Cameron Aubernon, who notes: “Sonata Dusk will be enrolling ASAP.”)

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More useless advice

Recently arrived in the spam trap:

Have you ever thought about adding a little bit more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is valuable and everything. However think of if you added some great visuals or video clips to give your posts more, “pop”! Your content is excellent but with pics and videos, this website could undeniably be one of the very best in its field. Very good blog!

This might have carried a little more weight had the sender been identified as something other than “Free porn XXX Slut MILF.”

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High ferocity

It is a measure of the sort of game this was — “chippy,” said radio guy Matt Pinto — that when Dwight Howard was thumbed for his second technical foul, the first thought that came to mind was “Aw, crap, who do we get to foul now?” Howard’s lack of prowess from the stripe is legendary: he was 4-15 tonight. But the man can defend, and without him, the Rockets’ 12-point lead totally evaporated and an endless barrage of three-point shots failed to yield many points. Not that the Thunder minded: they hadn’t beaten the Rockets in almost two years, and when Houston called timeout with 3:25 left, OKC was up by 14 and the Thunder were actively mocking them. Seriously. After old nemesis Patrick Beverley bounced one off the backboard at the shot-clock buzzer, Russell Westbrook gave him a side-eye you would not believe; said Royce Young, “That needs to be GIF’d into eternity.” The Rockets rallied, as the Rockets will, but the Thunder prevailed, 116-108, evening the season series at 1-1 with two to play.

Houston did not help itself with lousy shooting from the floor: 38 percent overall, and nine of 39 (!) treys, 23 percent. James Harden was, of course, James Harden-like when possible; his 33 points came from 8-22 shooting and 15 of 17 free throws, including four of five in the last two minutes. And generally, the Rockets’ defense was at least plausible. But this was a night for the home team: Kevin Durant logged another double-double (33 points, 12 rebounds) and Westbrook picked up yet another triple-double, 26-10-14. What’s more, two other Thunder players had 10 rebounds — Steven Adams and Enes Kanter — and Kanter, who’d scored only two points in the first half, bagged 20 in the second.

There were, of course, too many turnovers, particularly late when that 14-point Thunder lead started to erode. There will be time, though, to discuss that: the Wizards won’t be here until Monday, and the Magic two days afterwards.

Addendum: No GIF yet, but Bleacher Report captured it on Vine.

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New anchor at the Zombie Mall

Old trademarks must be going for peanuts these days:

Back in 2009, the medium-box consumer electronics chain Circuit City closed. Systemax, the owner of TigerDirect, acquired the brand’s website and customer list, and kept it going until 2012. Late last year, Systemax decided to shut down its technology business, and that included selling the twice-defunct Circuit City brand. Now yet another company has acquired the brand and wants to make a go of it as physical retail stores.

They are doing one thing differently this time:

Their launch plan, as described to TWICE, the publication that broke this story, will begin this summer with a website and one location in Dallas, and as many as 100 stores across the country in major yet affordable metropolitan areas over the next year.

I’m reading this as San Antonio, probably; San Francisco, probably not so much. And hey, at least they’re not subletting Radio Shack stores.

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Not so much shade

Two things happened yesterday: I contracted to have dead tree stuff removed from the back yard, in the interest of making it a more pleasant place to soak up the sun once temperatures get less wintry, and the AANR Bulletin arrived in the mail, with a cover story about drones.

Drones? Drones:

Since [the] Supreme Court’s 1946 decision (United States v. Causby), it has been generally accepted that the property rights of a homeowner end 83 feet above the ground — the height of an eight-story building. In a world of drones with telephoto lenses, this ruling now seems useless for protecting our privacy rights.

This decision held:

Cujus est solum ejus est usque ad coelum et ad inferos (“Whoever owns the soil, it is theirs, all the way to Heaven and all the way to Hell”) has no legal authority in the United States when pertaining to the sky. A man does not have control and ownership over the airspace of their property except within reasonable limits to utilize their property. Airspace above a set minimum height is property of the Masses and no one man can accuse airplanes or other such craft within of trespassing on what they own.

Then again, Google Street View can catch you even without going airborne.

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Bring your own flux capacitor

Otherwise, it’s almost as it was before:

Thanks to the wonderful-but-flawed low-volume “Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act” (H.R. 2675) , it’s now legal for the company that bought all of the old leftover DeLorean parts to start putting them together to make new DMC-12s. And this time it seems like it’ll actually happen, starting early next year.

Stainless-steel body panels? Check. Doors that rise to meet the sky? Check. 2.8-liter Peugeot-Renault-Volvo V6? Not a chance:

They’re looking at three possible suppliers, two domestic, one foreign. There’s one favorite though, and the engine that’s the frontrunner is a normally-aspirated V6 making between 300-400 hp.

As opposed to 130 hp from that old European boat anchor. And really, this is to be expected, says the company:

The vehicles must meet current Clean Air Act standards for the model year in which they are produced. The new law allows the low volume vehicle manufacturer to meet the standards by installing an engine and emissions equipment produced by another automaker (GM, Ford, etc.) for a similar EPA-certified vehicle configuration or a create engine that has been granted a California Air Resources Board (CARB) Executive Order (EO). This reasonable regulatory reform will also spur innovation, including advances in alternative-fuel and green vehicle technologies.

Said boat anchor wouldn’t come close to meeting contemporary standards, for emissions or for anything else.

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Not the original recipe

At least, I assume it isn’t:

But can you see the Russian Tea Room from there?

Note: 0161, if I remember correctly, is around Manchester.

(Via Liz Mair.)

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Presumably at premium prices

Wefuel is an app (iOS only so far) that enables the stranded or lazy (or both) driver to have gasoline delivered to wherever his vehicle happens to be, assuming that it’s in their service area. For now, it’s strictly a San Francisco Bay area thing, but if it finds customers, it’s sure to expand.

I’m not quite sure what I think of this. I am far more often lazy than stranded, but I have a schedule structured enough to hit up a Shell every other week. (Road trips aside, I drive maybe 7,000 miles a year.) On the one hand, I have to agree with Pete Bigelow of Autoblog:

There are two kinds of people: those who like to save money and those who like to save time. Wefuel will appeal to the latter. The app lets workers fuel up while sitting at their desks rather than adding time to their commutes. It allows them to plan for the road trip without making a special trip to the gas station to fill up.

Then again, I can also see the point being made by Sebastian Blanco of Autoblog:

Wefuel is the epitome of Silicon Valley nonsense. No one needs this (emergencies excluded), but now some people will want it. Silicon Valley wants us to think that our phones will solve all of our problems, but when that “solution” means that you get lazier and someone else does your work for you while adding extra pollution to the air, that’s an easy pass. Still, it makes someone else do your work for you, so Wefuel will undoubtedly be a tremendous hit.

Wait a minute. Our phones won’t solve all of our problems?

I’m thinking, we don’t flinch at paying $3 (plus a tip) to have $30 worth of pizza delivered. I’m pretty sure we won’t flinch at paying something comparably nominal for $30 worth of gas. And now I wonder if they can do custom octane blends.

If this premise has any possibility of hitting it big, there should be a rival, right? Here it comes.

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