Somewhere between Bel Air and Fairlane

One day in the early 1990s, I was standing in a shopping-mall parking lot, failing to get Deirdre, my ’84 Mercury Cougar, started. As I glared at the vast underhood space only marginally filled by the crummy Ford Essex V6 of the era — “central fuel injection” (meaning they stuck a single injector in the same old carburetor-era intake) and a pathetic 120 hp — a couple of Chevrolet fans yelled a few mocking phrases at me. I shrugged and went back to persuading Deirdre to stir, which she eventually did.

So I’m at least somewhat sensitive to this issue:

As a child, I was told that it was impolite to mention religion or politics at the dinner table, because such discussions tended to elicit irreconcilable differences between guests who would otherwise be perfectly compatible. Many years later, as an itinerant observer of the Midwestern street racing scene, I learned that there was a dinner topic that combined the worst aspects of religiosity and partisanship in its prospective combatants, and that topic was known to all and sundry as “Ford vs. Chevy.” It’s the third rail of car-guy discourse, and you’ll touch it at your peril. People take this stuff seriously; the bowtie and the blue oval were common tattoos back in the days before every size-12 Millennial female womens-studies graduate and her bewildered, low-testosterone life partner routinely got full ink sleeves as a way to ensure that they were exactly as different as everyone else.

Did you ever notice that all those non-conformists look alike?

For what it’s worth, while I was married, we bought one car: a Chevrolet. Once we split up, she became an ardent Ford fan. (Drives a Five Hundred these days.) Me, I’m in some overwrought Nissan. And for the benefit of any Coke vs. Pepsi warriors: I have five liters (about 302 cubic inches) of Royal Crown Cola in the fridge.

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The usual gang of gearheads

Mad magazine has always poked fun at other periodicals, though issue #534 (August) contains, if I’ve counted correctly, the first — and second! — shots at Car and Driver.

Seriously. In the Fundalini Pages, up front, Jeff Kruse lists five phrases you’ll never see in a C/D review; five pages later, in a parody of the Showtime TV series Ray Donovan, Ray’s “difficult, premium-cable-channel wife” Crabby is reading a copy of Cah and Drivah (Bahsten Edition). (Which now makes me wonder how Beantown ever dealt with former C/D eminence Csaba Csere, who got his engineering degree from MIT.)

Still, I figure in a couple of months, there will be some C/D review which contains the phrase “It hugs the road like a deranged pervert who gets turned on by asphalt,” and there will be no explanation — in which case, I told you so.

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No future for you: priceless

WFMU headlined it this way, and I can’t possibly top that:

But why? The bank’s director of cards explains:

“In launching these cards, we wanted to celebrate Virgin’s heritage and difference. The Sex Pistols challenged convention and the established ways of thinking — just as we are doing today in our quest to shake up UK banking.”

Not too anarchist, one assumes: the cards carry an interest rate of 18.9 percent.

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Endured, the browser wars have

And there is no peace on the horizon:

I just encountered my second major piece of software used by Bank of America for my business accounts that will only work with Internet Explorer and most definitely will not work with Chrome. Their ACH/Treasury/Direct Payments system has to run on Internet Explorer (only) and now I find their secure email system that sends me all my merchant account notices does not work on Chrome and only works on IE.

To say nothing of Firefox. (Come to think of it, he did say nothing of Firefox.)

Then again, it could be worse:

I am just waiting for the moment that a Bank of America tech support person tells me I have to use Netscape.

The most recent stable release of Netscape was 4.8, appearing in the summer of 2002. Probably too cutting-edge for the likes of BofA.

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What’s more, he’s never rained out

If you were ever impressed by mere switch-hitters, this should absolutely astound you:

The uniform design used by the A’s evidently conceals his gills.

(Via Darleen Click.)

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Never truly a blank space

Five years ago, there was already a Facebook page titled “All Taylor Swift Songs Sound The Same.” As I drift further into Swiftiedom, I am forced to confront the reality of this assertion, and sometimes the confrontation is seriously dramatic.

Behold, then, “We Are Never Ever Getting Bad Blood”:

There exists a “Back to December Fifteen,” but it’s not so great.

(Via HelloGiggles.)

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I once described a zoning ordinance in Tulsa as “a plastic latch: it’s there, and it makes a satisfying click sound, but sooner or later you know it’s going to break.”

Nine years later, the plastic latch that opens and closes the sunglasses case on Gwendolyn’s headliner broke. It wasn’t fixable, of course, but amazingly, the entire case was available through Nissan’s parts bazaar for under $100, though not much under $100. The whole thing is held down by two bolts, or at least two things that look like bolts, but which have wide, shallow heads turnable by no tool I own: I’d have to hope Bruce Banner was in a bad mood, and then borrow his Allen wrench. “Screw this,” said I, and had the dealer deal with it at the next oil change.

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Hola, Susana

Susana Giménez is to Argentina what Oprah Winfrey is to the States: a major celebrity with her own TV show and a fanbase that seemingly hangs on her every word. She didn’t start out that way, of course:

Susana Gimenez on an RCA record sleeve, mid-1970s

This fiercely generic collection of South American hits, circa early 1970s, simply demanded a pretty girl on the cover, and Giménez was working her way up as a model in those days. I know of one track that has survived: “Balada para un gordo” (“Song for a fat man”) by Juan and Juan. Then again, “Gotas de Lluvia caen sobre mi Cabeza” you know under, um, another title. (Thanks to LPCover Lover.)

The television show, first called Hola Susana, started in 1987; Giménez was 43 then and had been acting, mostly in minor roles, for nearly twenty years. The series continues today as Susana Giménez or simply SG.

Susana Gimenez, 2011

Susana Gimenez, 2014

I couldn’t tell you when she quit being a brunette, but it had to be a long time ago. The earlier of these two shots was taken in 2011. And yes, she does tweet:

Apparently the show was giving away this bag.

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Watch where you stamp

About a year and a half ago, the price of a first-class stamp rose from 46 to 49 cents. Now it appears to be headed back down:

The U.S. Postal Service will have to roll back a portion of its largest rate increase in 11 years after a federal court ruled that the higher postage prices in place since January 2014 can’t be permanent.

Postal regulators had agreed to a 3-cent emergency postage hike for first-class letters, to 49 cents from 46 cents, after the Postal Service said it needed to recoup billions of dollars it lost during the recession. The 4.3 percent increase came on top of the customary 1.7 percent postage prices have risen to adjust for inflation.

But regulators set a cap on the amount of revenue USPS could recoup with the higher prices. The cap will be reached this summer.

On the upside, they won’t have to reprint any of the current “FOREVER” stamps, which are always valid for the current first-class rate.

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Quote of the week

The Z Man says we’re now in a post-democracy world:

[T]he ruling elite conspires with and manipulates local elected officials into gaming the public, foiling them into being looted by the global elite. We think our elections are about arbitrating disputes between the ruling class over public policy. In reality they are festivals to keep the public busy so they don’t revolt against their leaders. The Greeks can have as many elections as they like, the results will not change. The turd sandwich is what they get. The English can vote Tory or Labour. The results will be the same.

If there is any doubt about this just look at American politics. The GOP ran against ObamaCare in 2010 and won a huge majority in the House. They spent the next two years trying to enfeeble the Tea Party movement, rather than halt ObamaCare. They won big again in 2014, capturing the Senate and a bigger majority in the House. So far they have managed to pass more of Obama’s agenda in six months than Reid and Pelosi did in six years.

Which, if nothing else, suggests that the Republican Party at the very top is indistinguishable from the Democratic Party at the very top: they evidently get their orders from the same place. This is called “bipartisanism,” which presumably sounds nicer than “collusion.”

In the authoritarian age, violent revolt was the check on the skimming class. The ruling families could only loot so much of the people’s wealth before they ran into dangerous resistance. In the democratic age, the ballot box forced the skimming class to compete for the public’s affection. Get on the wrong side of the voters and you ability to skim was diminished. In the global age, what will be the check on the skimming class?

There won’t be. The need to buy campaign ads — hell, the need to buy voters — will guarantee that politicians will kneel to the plutocrats for the foreseeable future.

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Strange search-engine queries (488)

Once a year, a small but substantial segment of the population wonders if one thoroughbred can win the three biggest races of the year. Meanwhile, once a week, I wonder if I can find a dozen funny search strings in the log. Don’t bother placing your bets.

god “but when he moves, he moves quickly”:  Like who’s gonna stop God? Not me.

but your lovin don’t pay my bills pic:  Cut to picture of stack of bills going unpaid, and wonder how sex makes a difference.

Pics of nude apeman and wife sexing wild in the jungle and wrestling:  After that, I’m ready to look at a stack of unpaid bills.

fear of boobs:  In that case, you might not want to stare at the apeman’s wife.

points a and b are on opposites sides of wewoka lake. from a third point:  You want to summon help, because you shouldn’t have been out in this weather, what with everything flooded and all.

popeye’s fried chicken just took out an 8 percent interest-only loan of $50:  What, did they run out of biscuits or something?

worst eurovision outfits:  Are generally indistinguishable from the best Eurovision outfits.

taylor swift armpit hair:  This explains “nightmare dressed like a daydream,” anyway.

spoiler on back of car:  Well, it would be pointless to put one on the front of the car.

is the knowledge that the self is in prison, its vital force and ‘mangled mind’ leaking away in lonely, wasteful self-conflict:  Fortunately, you can always start a #hashtag on Twitter.

iraq was formerly known as:  A hell of a lot quieter than it is now.

larry derryberry hairy fairy query:  Now that’s scary.

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You’re not from around here, are you?

A rather disturbing incident today:

Which triggered a memory. I was in the laundry room at the CrappiFlats™ one summer Saturday in the early 1990s when I heard the utterly unexpected sound of exuberance. I abandoned the dryer for a moment, stepped outside, and traced the sound to the general area of the swimming pool, which was occupied by two Non-Resident Kids. At least, I didn’t recognize them.

For some reason, the pool hadn’t been opened up that day. Not to be thwarted, the youngsters — two boys, roughly seven and five, both black, neither with swimsuits — had climbed the fence, slid out of their clothes and jumped in. I approached. They withdrew, perhaps understandably suspicious; I assured them that I was fine with what they were doing. The younger one appeared slightly abashed, what with the nakedness and all; the older one, however, was gratifyingly brash, once he figured that I wasn’t going to turn him in. It helped, I think, that I didn’t ask him where he lived.

We talked about nothing useful for a couple of minutes, and I bade them farewell: “See ya later.” I gathered up my duds, crawled back to my flat, and sat as close as possible to an air-conditioning vent the rest of the day.

I heard later that the two boys were eventually apprehended by security and were escorted from the premises. Well, damn, I thought. It’s not like they were disturbing anyone. And I spent rather too much time wondering if they were busted for not being residents or for being naked on the premises — and if anyone would have turned in two white kids for the same offense.

Things got hot early in the morning, as they will in this part of the world, and at 9 am Sunday I was looking at the gate to the pool. I’d have been looking at the lock to the gate to the pool, but it was conspicuous by its absence. On an impulse, I popped through, looked around, stripped, and did my own little bit of skinny-dipping, displacing a heck of a lot more water than did two young boys. If anyone noticed, no one said a word. And if anything, I owe those kids for giving me the idea to do this in the first place, for I had never done such a thing before.

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I could have told you that

In which Mike Huckabee, perhaps despite himself, lines up behind me, a mere 19 years after the fact. I’m sure it wasn’t intentional.

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That’s it, blame the naked people

On Friday, a magnitude-6 earthquake struck the Malaysian state of Sabah; there are about a dozen known casualties so far. The state’s Deputy Chief Minister has offered this explanation for the temblor:

The Sabah earthquake that has so far taken the lives of 11 climbers was a result of the action of Western tourists who had stripped naked near Mount Kinabalu’s summit last month, said the state’s Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan.

Speaking to reporters on Saturday, he said the tragedy was a “confirmation” of the consequences of the actions of the 10 Europeans who he said had been disrespectful to local customs. He called on the culprits to be brought to a native court to be charged, the Malay Mail Online reported.

“Whether other people believe this or not, it’s what we Sabahans believe. When the earthquake happened, it’s like a confirmation of our beliefs,” he said. “It is a sacred mountain and you cannot take it lightly,” he added.

You’d think that if the deities in question were offended, they’d have contrived to have the tourists themselves, not just random mountain-climbers, swallowed up by the earth. Or anyway, I’d think that.

(Via @LadyGod1va.)

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Because activities

Hey, I know! Let’s compensate for our own miserable lives by making sure our kids don’t have a minute to themselves:

How did we go from spending our family times in parks and picnics, at movies and relatives houses to travel baseball and cheerleading competitions? When did we go from being supportive to being subtly abusive?

Why are we spending our entire weekends schlepping from county to county, town to town, state to state to play in some bullshit regional, junior, mid-west, southeast, invitational, elite, prep, all-state, conference, blah, blah, blah tourney? We decorate our cars with washable paint, streamers, numbers and names. We roll in little carpool caravans trekking down the interstate honking and waiving at each other like Rev. Jim Jones followers in a Kool-Aid line. Greyhounds, Hawks, Panthers, Eagles, Bobcats, Screaming Devils, Scorching Gonads or whatever other mascot adorns their jerseys.

You wouldn’t turn out for the Scorching Gonads?

The motivation here, apparently, is a subtle guilt/fear combo:

We are afraid that Emma will make the cheerleading squad instead of Suzy and that Mitch will start at first base instead of my Dillon. But it doesn’t stop there. You see, if Mitch starts instead of Dillon then Dillon will feel like a failure, and if Dillon feels like a failure then he will sulk and cower in his room, and he will lose his friends because all his friends are on the baseball team, too, and if he loses his friends then he will start dressing in Goth duds, pierce his testicles, start using drugs and begin listening to headbanging music with his door locked. Then, of course, it’s just a matter of time until he’s surfing the net for neo-Nazi memorabilia, visiting gun shows and then opening fire in the school cafeteria. That is why so many fathers who bring their injured sons to the ER are so afraid that they won’t be able to practice this week, or that he may miss the game this weekend. Miss a game, you become a mass murderer — it’s that simple.

Suzy is a whole other story, though. You see, if she doesn’t make the cheerleading squad she will lose a whole bunch of friends and not be as popular as she should (and she’s REAL popular). If she loses some friends, she will be devastated — all the cool kids will talk about her behind her back, so then she’ll sit in her room all day, eating Ding Dongs and cutting at her wrists. Then, of course, it is only a matter of time until she is chatting on the Internet with fifty-year-old men and meeting up with them at truck stops. And that is why every mother is so frightened when her daughters have mononucleosis or influenza. Miss cheerleading practice for a week, and your daughter is headed for a career in porn. It’s that simple.

Of such young women is Tumblr Feminism made.

I do worry about this at one level removed: #1 grandson has proven to be Quite The Jock. Fortunately, he doesn’t seem to be taking it so seriously that thoughts of it occupy every waking moment, and his parents have just enough Essence of the Lackadaisical to prevent them from going totally guanophenic.

(I got this from a teacher of long acquaintance on Facebook.)

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Jailarity ensuing

Kurt Hochenauer of Okie Funk sums up the mess at the jail:

The U.S. Justice Department found 60 civil rights violations [pdf] with the jail back in 2008, and essentially put county officials on notice that they needed to either fix the problems or face a federal takeover.

The county has, indeed, fixed most of the problems outlined in a 2008 report, which included high rates of violence between inmates and guards yet the basic design of the jail itself creates some of the problems. That means the county has to massively renovate the jail or build a new one, which makes the most sense. Each approach would cost millions upon millions of dollars and require some type of tax increase. The federal government, according to media reports, has apparently signaled it was moving forward with a lawsuit to force the issue.

In the past, Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel and other county officials have promoted a small increase in the county sales tax of only half-a-cent or less, but that hasn’t proven to be popular with voters. If the feds take over, homeowners would automatically face high property taxes to pay for the project. Something has to give eventually.

Part of the resistance to “a small increase in the county sales tax” is that Oklahoma County actually levies no sales tax at all, an anomaly in that we’re surrounded by counties that have enacted sales taxes, ranging from 0.25% (Cleveland) to 1.0% (Pottawatomie). I’m not a fan of higher taxes generally, but I’d rather see Oklahoma County add another buck to my grocery shopping every week than to have them jack up property taxes, which are already bumping up against historical highs.

Doc Hoc’s prescription:

Lower incarceration rates through drug courts and creative sentencing and vote to invest in a new jail through a small tax increase that allows for rehabilitation to reduce recidivism.

I can get behind that, I think.

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