Looks like they’re Byton

Byton is a Chinese-backed startup currently showing a prototype electric car dubbed SIV. It looks like this:

Concept car by Byton

The SIV turned up at CES (you once knew it as the Consumer Electronics Show) this week and positioned itself as an alternative to the few-and-far-between Tesla Model 3, which, as some wise guy is sure to point out, is Tesla’s fourth product.

The debut, complete with buzzwords:

A four-foot wide touchscreen? Take that, Elon Musk!

TTAC is, shall we say, skeptical:

[T]he industrial plan is for Byton to double its staff by the end of 2018, with workers streaming into its Nanjing factory as production ramps up. But production has yet to begin; the exiting prototypes were all hand-built and the Chinese plant isn’t even fully licensed by Chinese authorities yet. That’s not to say that it won’t be soon, but Byton has plenty to do before it truly hits the ground running — and fundraising will be a big part of that.

This leaves us wondering if we’ll have a legitimate automaker in the next few years or yet another example of how difficult it is to actually become one.

And there are buyers in this country who refuse even to consider a car assembled in China, let alone designed there.

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The Ice Cream Blonde

That’s what they called her, sometimes. Thelma Todd made over 100 films, most of them talkies and most of them funny, though perhaps she’s most remembered these days for playing Miles Archer’s widow in the pre-Code The Maltese Falcon (1931), the one with Ricardo Cortez as Sam Spade, in which she wasn’t the least bit hilarious.

It was Hal Roach who saw her potential as a comic, and after trying her out as a foil for Laurel and Hardy, paired her off with ZaSu Pitts, then Patsy Kelly, in a series of comedy shorts. Demand for her services was enough to persuade Roach to lend her out on a regular basis, which explains how she ended up in two Marx Bros. films.

Thelma Todd not wearing a whole lot

Thelma Todd posing for some leg art in 1933

Thelma Todd possibly wearing even less

Thelma’s last film was a full-length Laurel and Hardy feature, The Bohemian Girl, released in 1936 after her death by carbon-monoxide poisoning. Roach, worried that a dead star would not be good for the box office, reshot her scenes, though he left in her one musical number:

Thelma Todd was only twenty-nine when she died.

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It seemed funny at the time

And then I ordered a couple of sheets of them, which diminished the humor factor by about 13 percent:

US postage stamp - Repeal of the Stamp Act

Of course, this had nothing to do with postage, or, for that matter, the United States of America, which did not exist as such in 1766. The Act itself — well, this was its title in Parliament:

An act for granting and applying certain stamp duties, and other duties, in the British colonies and plantations in America, towards further defraying the expenses of defending, protecting, and securing the same; and for amending such parts of the several acts of parliament relating to the trade and revenues of the said colonies and plantations, as direct the manner of determining and recovering the penalties and forfeitures therein mentioned.

Passed on the 22nd of March 1765, the Act went into effect in November and set the standard for Unpopular Legislation in the colonies. In February 1766 Parliament voted to repeal the tax; George III gave his assent the following month. Imagine that: getting rid of an unpopular law.

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Indoors, one hopes

A group called Calgary Nude Recreation, you’d think, would not require a whole lot of explanation. This is on their meetup page:

A group for like minded people who enjoy being in their birthday suit! This group is family oriented and kid friendly and open to people of all ages, body types, all genders, sexual orientations, and anyone else in between. Whether you like being naked or want to get more comfortable being naked, this group is for you! All recreational events associated with this group are strictly non sexual and are intended to create a safe space to express ourselves in our most vulnerable and natural state all the while having fun!

With that in mind, they’ve set up a recurring event called “Naked Water Slides and Wave Pool,” which also doesn’t seem to require much explanation. Several thousand Calgarians are not impressed:

An online petition created over the weekend had generated more than 2,000 4,000 signatures by Sunday afternoon, calling on Mayor Naheed Nenshi and the city to “put this event to rest” or “at least … make it age appropriate.”

“I respect the concept and believe in an 18+ setting,” wrote April Parker, who started the petition. “However, having naked children around a bunch of naked adults doesn’t seem like a good idea for any reason.”

The petition, addressed to the city-owned swimming facility, is here.

Update, 11 January: It’s off:

Acting Director of Calgary Recreation James McLaughlin said the city conducted a thorough review and decided the volatile opinions about the event created a safety concern. He said city facilities have hosted naturist swims for years without incident and the cancellation was not due to the nature of the activity, but solely because of security.

And the hecklers veto another one.

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The U. S. Male

Would Elvis Presley have been as big a star if he’d been named David instead? I suspect he’d end up owning the name; you’d have “Dave” alongside Madonna and Cher and Oprah, and that guy Letterman would be going by his middle name (which is “Michael”). How Elvis Costello fits into this scenario is anyone’s guess.

That said, today Elvis has been gone almost as long as he was here in the first place, which prompts me to a few offhand musings about the King.

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Twice in a millennium

A 500-year rain, by definition, has a 0.2 percent chance of occurring in any given year; it does not mean that occurrences are 500 years apart. How much water would that take? From the Sunday Oklahoman:

For Oklahoma City, the following rainfall amounts would be considered 500-year rainfall events, according to Gary McManus, state climatologist, who referenced a report prepared by the U.S. Geological Survey:

  • 2.6 inches of rain in 15 minutes.
  • 3.7 inches of rain in 30 minutes.
  • 5.2 inches of rain in one hour.
  • 6.8 inches of rain in two hours.
  • 7.6 inches of rain in three hours.
  • 8.4 inches of rain in six hours.
  • 9.6 inches of rain in 12 hours.
  • 12.5 inches of rain in 24 hours.
  • 14.8 inches of rain in three days.
  • 15.5 inches of rain in seven days.

I’m pretty sure I’ve seen the first three of these, and maybe more, during the 40+ years I’ve lived here. Example:

11.26 inches recorded on 6-14-2010 at a station 6.1 miles north of downtown Oklahoma City.

That’s almost certainly the OKC North Mesonet station. The “official” total for that day was 7.62 inches at Will Rogers World Airport, where the National Weather Service takes readings.

Yours truly reported at 8:53 am that day:

I think we can kiss that record goodbye. One of the Mesonet stations in town has already made it up to 8, the others aren’t far behind, and it’s still raining. The office ranges from 0.5 to 4.5 inches of water inside. Jesus Christ could walk through the parking lot, but He’s just about the only one.

On the upside, this served as a test for my new $10,000 roof, installed a few days before.

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Get with the program

A refugee from the Department of Redundancy Department, I suspect:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Is there a site where you can hire programmers to program ideas for a program?

It’s almost a shame to tell him Yes.

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Strange search-engine queries (623)

The idea behind this weekly feature is simple enough: we look at the search strings that reach across the Web to find this little place, and we post the ones we like best and/or understand the least.

dustbury com strange searchengine queries:  You’re soaking in it. What I want to know is why I was only #23 for that string.

mclaren car as a unicorn:  Would its horn pass Federal safety standards?

costume supercenter com:  I’m guessing this is sort of a Costco for cosplayers.

we’re all gonna die:  This is, um, not exactly news.

prndl parking:  If you’re gonna park, use P.

pre-exposure prophylaxis:  Because you don’t have chlamydia — yet.

yuccie urban dictionary:  Yeah, there’s some pretty yuccie stuff in there.

dumpster rental likely:  If the Magic 8-Ball told me that, I’d be alarmed.

tvtime direct mosquito repelling keychain:  Which I suppose would be handy if the insects were actually trying to bite your keys.

popeye’s supplements waterloo 170 university ave w waterloo:  Rows and rows of spinach.

million carats:  Don’t let Bugs Bunny hear you say that.

christine chatelain feet:  She’s 1.73 meters tall, so that’s five feet, eight inches.

austin power dildo experience:  I remember when they opened for the J. Geils Band.

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Whose house is this?

“This is my house,” said Devin Booker back in April after the Suns had dispatched the Thunder by a whopping 120-99. It’s nine months later, and Booker still owns the joint: after jumping out to a 12-6 lead early, the Thunder wilted like flowers in the Arizona sun and lost to the Suns again, 114-100, Booker leading the way with 26.

The Suns’ chief weapon was the long ball: Booker hit five of 10. Second-year forward Dragan Bender, coming off the bench, made six of eight for 20 points. T. J. Warren, allegedly not well, didn’t put up any three-pointers, but still collected 23. Phoenix ended up with 17-39, 44 percent on treys. And there was the negative-space weapon: not turning the ball over. For a team ranked 29th of 30 in turnovers, giving up a mere nine was startling.

Look again at Bender’s 20. The Phoenix bench had 48 total, versus 21 for the Thunder reserves. Josh Jackson had the Suns’ only double-double, with 17 points and 10 rebounds, earning a +34 for his effort. None of the Phoenix starters were plus at all; then again, neither did OKC’s. Russell Westbrook logged yet another triple-double (26-10-11), and Steven Adams hit a sterling nine of eleven, but the stat that most characterized the Thunder’s play tonight was Kyle Singler’s 0-1 for a plus-two.

There’s a brief stop at home Tuesday to say hello to the Portland Trail Blazers, before hitting the road once more. And the first stop is Minnesota, where the Timberwolves own a 2.5-game edge over the Thunder and a 2-1 lead in the season series. (Weird to see the Wolves fourth in the West, but they by-gosh earned it.) Will they freeze out the Thunder? If OKC plays like they did tonight, look for widespread chills.


The sound never quite dies

“Echo Beach,” as described by Martha and the Muffins in their 1980 New Wave-ish hit, isn’t an actual location with sand and such; it’s some place “far away in time” where your mind can wander while your workaday self endures yet another day at work. It was a fair-sized hit in Canada, where it won a Juno Award; it was mostly a nothingburger in the States, though I snapped it up quickly enough along with a couple of subsequent M+M albums. These days, when I mention M+M, it’s usually in the context of the song “Be Blasé” from their second album, Trance and Dance, which contains a description of a Creepy Older Guy trying to pick up a young woman:

Riding on the streetcar,
Not going very far,
Someone pats me on the head,
Someone who I thought was dead.
Says: “It’s time to go to bed.”
This is what I said:
“You were thirty when I was three,
What the hell do you want with me?”

In later years, I took that as a potential personal rebuke.

Over the years, M+M — Martha Johnson and Mark Gane, the two mainstays of the original band — did what they could to keep the name alive. In 2010, they came up with Delicate, their first new material in 18 years, and separately from the album, a “30th Anniversary” version of “Echo Beach,” smooth and silky and slinky instead of the pogo bounce of the original. It was a stunner:

There’s about a 30-second clip of 1980 video to finish it off.

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There’s a road under there somewhere

Not that I’m willing to challenge the methodology or anything:

A new report issued by SafeWise identified Wyoming as the most dangerous state for driving in snow.

The online resource that provides information on safety for communities compiled stats from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 2016 crash data to make a calculation that put Wyoming far out in front of any other state for winter driving hazards. Safewise calculated the likelihood of crashing during snow per 100,000 people in each state with Wyoming receiving a 1.5 chance compared to the nearest state: Vermont (0.8).

Best and worst states for winter driving by Safewise

McG points out that much of the problem comes from a single stretch of Interstate 80:

[U]sually it’s a particular stretch of I-80, running roughly between Rawlins and Laramie. The Snow Chi Minh Trail.

I’ve driven that stretch twice — both times in the summer — and though it’s scenic as all get out, it can also be nerve-wracking when unprepared car drivers are sharing just two lanes each way with the constant stream of big rigs.

Now add several inches of snow to the mix. From John Waggener’s book on the “Trail”:

The newly constructed stretch of I-80 was dedicated Oct. 3, 1970, but residents had warned highway officials of the adverse weather conditions around the Elk Mountain area and advised them not to build a road in that location. Wyomingites who knew their history reminded highway officials that the Union Pacific Railroad looked at that same area 100 years earlier when planning and constructing the nation’s first transcontinental railroad and decided against the shorter, more direct route.

But, just four days after the highway was dedicated, a winter storm wreaked havoc on motorists traveling on the new highway, which Wyomingites referred to as a “monument to human error,” Waggener says.

If the first week of October seems an unlikely time for a snowstorm, you ain’t seen nothing yet. To quote a resident: “There’s only two seasons — winter and July.”

As for that green patch in the Southeast: call me when you have a map for freezing-rain crashes.

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Which actually seems accurate

That’s certainly the way I’d feel under the circumstances:

This is a temperature at which my own car’s display acts up.



I’m not quite sure I grasp the concept of psytrance. Wikipedia says this much:

Psychedelic trance, psytrance or psy is a subgenre of trance music characterized by arrangements of synthetic rhythms and layered melodies created by high tempo riffs. Psytrance lies at the hardcore, underground end of the diverse trance spectrum.

“Diverse” it certainly is.

Anyway, I went digging for examples, and apparently this one was a Number One in Beatport — yes, children, I have an account at Beatport — and it seemed like a good way to torture my subwoofer:

“Chakra” (subtle, huh?) was a joint venture between W&W, a Dutch DJ duo which has made one album and several dozen singles, and Vini Vici, a side project of the Israeli trio Sesto Sento.

This is admittedly not, to borrow a phrase, easy like a Sunday morning, but it was Saturday night before I even heard it.


And a glass of Tang

Greatness has its imperatives:

(Via Rand Simberg.)

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As asshats go, he’s a sombrero

“Henry1989” had a little problem:

Help. I am the victim of the post


I have repeated many many many many times that the post GOES AGAINST the Facebook Community Standards and reported to the Facebook Team over HUNDRED times but the Facebook Team commented that the post did not violate any Community Standards.

I am very frustrated, annoyed and unhappy with the post as many Facebook users have expressed extremely abusive and offensive languages against me.

Can the Yahoo users make an abuse report to the Facebook Team after reading this post.

I order that at least 100,000 Yahoo users report the abuse to the Facebook Team within 24 hours from now on and 1 million reports are made within 3 days. (I suggest each Yahoo user repeats the report at ten times)

“I order“? Who died and made you King of Anything?

A user named Dave gave this reasoned response:

reported for spam.

If they say it doesn’t violate the community standards, then it doesn’t. If you don’t like it, remove yourself from the group.

Which is a proper report, since “Henry” has posted variations on this whine several times before.

And “Henry” promptly went psycho:

F U C K YOUR MOTHER Dave. Many users express extremely abusive and offensive languages against me. Why do you still say it doesn’t violate community standards?

You must STOP making inaccurate answers and you must make an apology for saying anything inaccurate and irrelevant to me immediately.

Dave, you MUST make an apology for saying anything irrelevant and inaccurate answers to me. If I RECEIVE no apology from you within 24 hours, I will take legal actions against you to your local law court and even report to your local police.

Yahoo, in a rare display of prescience, deleted “Henry’s” screed. I’m not persuaded he should get off quite so easily, so here’s a screenshot of the alleged offensive Facebook post:

Screenshot which makes Henry1989 wet his panties

He’s lucky I didn’t put it on Reddit.

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Fries with that

And I mean large fries, in one dimension anyway:

I’d also like to know whose idea it was to produce a 90-second video out of maybe 20 seconds of actual footage.

(Via Fark.)