The Georgia Patrol was making the rounds

And you probably don’t want to fire a shot just to flag them down, either:

Law enforcement officers in Georgia are ready to put the hammer down on drivers who are hammering down on their gas pedal during the second annual “Operation Southern Shield” speed enforcement operation.

After last year’s highly successful operation that drew national attention, Georgia will join neighboring states in Alabama, Florida, Tennessee and South Carolina in pulling over drivers who are breaking the law by traveling above the legal speed limit on interstates, major highways and local roads from Monday, July 16 through Sunday, July 22.

“Our troopers are dedicated to participating in collaborative enforcement efforts like Operation Southern Shield, that encourages motorists to drive safely and slow down,” said Colonel Mark W. McDonough, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety. “Our main focus this week is reducing crashes and providing a safer transportation experience for motorists traveling in our state.”

This is the second. How did the first one go?

According to preliminary numbers from the Georgia Department of Transportation, the number of traffic deaths reported in the state during last year’s Southern Shield was 35 percent lower than the other three weeks of July.

Specifically, there were 25 traffic deaths reported in Georgia during Operation Southern Shield from July 17-23 compared to 34 on July 3-9, 41 on July 10-16 and 39 from July 24-30.

Troopers with the Georgia State Patrol and local law enforcement officers combined to issue 12,469 speeding citations over the seven-day period and took 552 suspected DUI drivers to jail and also made 472 felony arrests.

The one thing I remember about driving in Georgia, something I haven’t done in a decade, is that people really put the hammer down once they cross over into Florida.

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Rag, mama, rag

This 1948 single was an early favorite of mine, back when I was a toddler:

By the time I got to my thirties, ragtime had enjoyed a brief revival, courtesy of The Sting, and then faded again. And you probably don’t want to hear these 1980s hits ragged on:

Or maybe you might. I won’t tell.

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I don’t understand this at all

Then again, it’s not like she did this for me or anything:

Let’s hope hashtag abuse doesn’t become a misdemeanor — or worse.

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Unreal people

Is Twitter actually taking steps to block the bots?

Some of the world’s biggest celebrities have lost millions of Twitter followers after the company cracked down on “locked” accounts.

US singer Katy Perry, the most-followed user on Twitter, and Lady Gaga lost about 2.5 million followers. Barack Obama went down 2.1 million.

Twitter said it had taken the decision due to its “ongoing and global effort to build trust”. It follows renewed scrutiny over fake news and users on social media.

The new measures mean that any user whose account is locked for unusual activity — such as being blocked or sending unusual volumes of Tweets — and who did not respond to a prompt to verify their identity would be excluded from Twitter follower counts.

The head of the company’s legal team, Vijaya Gadde, said that most accounts would only lose around four followers as a result of the new measures.

So I went to my follower count, which was sitting at a middling 1,475. Assuming Gadde’s plan has been implemented system-wide, I’ve lost a total of, um, one.

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I want it my way

“Is there a way to mimic the Google Search Engine layout with another search engine?” asks this joker.

Why would you want that?

I cannot ever find the information I am looking for with the vast amount of bias that Google puts in the search results. I want to switch to something more apolitical such as DuckDuckGo that provides results based on web traffic rather than political leanings, but being that I grew up using Google I can t stand the layout on any other search engine and am wondering if there s some sort of pseudo-Google extension for Chrome or anything that could fix the layout.

After twelve years of looking at people’s search strings, I submit that the guy’s real issue is that he’s too goddamn dumb to put together an efficient search.

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What’s the ugliest car in your garage?

TTAC was asking “What’s the worst-looking car from the year you were born?” I gave this about ten, maybe twenty seconds before deciding on this, um, contraption:

The interior wasn’t bad at all, considering, but whose idea was it to fit front fender skirts? This thing steers like a Kenworth, and requires just about as much space to turn around.

Hideous as it was, Frank Zappa may have loved it. From “The Air” off the Uncle Meat album, the doo-wop tale of a Customs bust:

Yes, they grabbed me then they beat me
Then they told me they don’t like me
And I crashed in my Nash
We can crash in my Nash…

Or you can dial back a couple of years to Cruising with Ruben & the Jets:

RUBEN SANO was 19 when he quit the group to work on his car. He had just saved up enough money to buy a 53 Nash and four gallons of gray primer. His girl friend said she would leave him forever if he didn’t quit playing in the band and fix up his car so they could go to the drive-in and make out. There was already 11 other guys in the band so when he quit nobody missed him except for his car when they had to go to rehearsal or play for a battle of the bands at the American Legion Post in Chino.

Ruben & the Jets, of course, was 100 percent doo-wop, Zappa being a legendary doo-wop fiend. (The latter-day Penguins’ “Memories of El Monte,” a deadly-serious nostalgia piece from 1963, was produced and co-written by Zappa.) Brother Paul, once a member of an aggregation called Eddie Chevy and the Carburetor Kids, honed his doo-wop skills on Ruben & the Jets, especially on the closer, “Later That Night.”

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Yo no quiero

How can a restaurant fail with more bacom?

When it’s Taco Bell:

Me, I miss the Bellburger/Bellbeefer.

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Polish up that Golden Gate

Somehow “mandate” doesn’t seem to fit:

Elected by the slimmest margin in modern history, London Breed takes the helm of a city Wednesday where, despite a booming economy and rocketing job growth, the majority of voters feel San Francisco is on the wrong track.

And where, despite hundreds of millions of dollars spent on various programs to house the homeless, clean up the city’s streets and clear up the clogged traffic, only 2 out of 10 voters feel City Hall is doing a good job managing its resources.

“You would think with 2.5 percent unemployment and an $11 billion budget, the public would be more upbeat,” said Chamber of Commerce Vice President Jim Lazarus. “But the encampments, dirty streets, congestion and construction have the public upset.”

We don’t wish Mayor Breed any ill will, but she’s facing a big job.

And an eleven-billion-dollar budget?

Since when is a huge municipal budget supposed to be viewed as a Great Thing by “the public?” After all, who is paying for this bloated budget if not the public?

I’m trying to figure how the 900,000 San Franciscans are putting up with a municipal budget of $11 billion while 660,000 Oklahoma Cityans get by with spending only $1.56 billion. The cost of living is lower here, but not that much lower.

Now San Francisco is legally both a city and a county, so they have presumably greater needs than would a mere city. Oklahoma County (population 800,000) is spending a hair under $200 million for 2018-19.

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Gravity never fails

It was 6:10 this morning. I know this because the digits on the old Timex alarm clock are entirely too bright, but the sun rose around 6:24, which meant that keeping the washcloth in front of the clock face was no longer necessary. I rolled over to get within reach of it.

And kept rolling.

And kept rolling.

And finally, I found myself on the floor: as the old broad said in that infamous commercial, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”

Scraping along the floor, I managed to get to the phone and summon 911. (Lucky me, the fire department is only three blocks away.) One of them remembered me from the last time I’d hit the floor this hard.

At least now I know how I die: I pitch forward (or backwards, it hardly matters) out of reach of anything, and can’t propel myself at all. It will be a day or two, or more, before anyone even notices.

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No, no, Nano

India’s Tata Motors is giving up on its smallest car, the Nano:

Billed as the world’s cheapest car upon its release in 2008, the Indian-market four-door was tailor-made to lure that country’s growing market of would-be vehicle owners off motorcycles and into a car with two cylinders, 37 horsepower, and a rear hatch that didn’t open.

Not unexpectedly, the vehicle quickly developed a stigma.

Cheap? Yes it was. Oh so cheap. Roughly $2,000 a decade ago, but now $3,500.

As the Indian market grew, so did the aspirations of its buyers, and despite new features — an automated manual as an alternative to the four-speed stick, a rear hatch that did open — sales tailed off after 2011, and, says Bloomberg, production last month was, um, one.

Tata will continue to sell Jaguars and Land Rovers, the very antithesis of the Nano.

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As the smoke clears

State Question 788, authorizing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, passed by about a 5 to 4 margin, much to the surprise of national pundits, who don’t realize we have running water here, and of local officials, who were hoping to push the whole thing under the rug.

Precinct-level vote counts are now being circulated, and here’s how we did: 804 Yes, 250 No. A solid 76 percent.

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Technically, she might be pop

Brian J. has discovered this young lady (she’s 28), and the least I can do is pass his recommendation to you.

In this clip, Natsumi Kiyoura sings “Bokura no Aikotoba” (Our Words), from the anime television series Sgt. Frog.

“Neverland” is from her 2010 album Juuka Iro, which the Great God Google obligingly translates as “Junior College.”

J-pop, we are told, originated as a Japanese variant of jazz and gradually subsumed several other genres, though none of them, I think, really makes room for Natsumi Kiyoura.

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Welcome to 1955

Please have exact change:

US Customs and Border Protection has disputed a claim that one of its employees asked a woman to prove that she was the mother of her daughter.

Texas mum Sylvia Acosta and her 15-year-old daughter, Sybonae Castillo, were both asked why they didn’t share the same last name.

Dr Acosta posted the following to Facebook:

I just experienced a Handmaidens Tale moment at the DFW airport by Customs and Border Protection. I was traveling back from Rome and stopped by US customs. I was asked if Sybonae was my daughter and I said yes. Then they asked why if she was my daughter I didn’t have the same last name. I told them I had already established my career and earned my doctorate with my last name Acosta so I had decided not to change it. That is why we had different names. Then the customs office said, well maybe you should have taken your husbands last names so you could prove you were her mom. I told him I had a lot of proof she was my daughter without having had his last name. He then took me to another room where they proceeded to interrogate me and my daughter to prove I was her parent. I had to reexplain why we didn’t share last names and again one said well maybe you should consider changing your name to reflect that you are her mother. I then proceeded to tell them that they were perpetuating an institutionalized misogynistic system which required that a woman take her husbands name and after that and a whole lot more about what I thought about what they had said to me that they let us go. I am furious.

CBP, citing a human-trafficking law from 2008, said they were simply following procedures.

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Doing the split

Garfunkel and Oates once did a song called “29/31”, and it was every bit as scary as it was funny.

Now comes “50/50,” billed as “a feminist love song,” and it’s got some discomfort of its own:

I think we need to encourage Kate and Riki to do more songs with numbers.

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You just aren’t broke enough

The subtext of this CNBC article seems to be “Why aren’t you taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity to go into debt up to your ears?”

U.S. homeowners today are getting richer by the minute, but they are less likely to cash in on their newfound wealth than during previous housing booms. As home values rise, home equity lines of credit, often used to tap home equity, are flatlining, and the overall amount of money people are taking out of their homes is shrinking.

The collective amount of so-called tappable equity, which is the appraised value of a home minus the 20 percent most lenders require borrowers to keep as a safety net, grew by 7 percent in the first quarter of this year compared with the previous quarter, according to Black Knight, a mortgage software and analytics company. That is the largest single-quarter growth since the company began tracking it in 2005. It is up 16.5 percent compared with a year ago.

Homeowners now have a collective $5.8 trillion in tappable equity, the highest volume ever recorded and 16 percent above the last home price peak in 2006. The average homeowner with a mortgage gained $14,700 in tappable equity over the past year and has $113,900 available to draw. This is the amount over and above 20 percent of the value of the average home.

Yeah? Tap this, pal. The only debt I have is what I still owe on the house, and that amount has begun to visibly decrease. Yeah, I suppose I could get my hands on five figures’ worth of cash if I wanted to go to that much trouble, but why would I want to?

Pater Grant thinks even less of this scheme than I do:

[I]t’s bricks and mortar, frames and siding, foundations and roof. There are only two ways to convert that into cash: sell it (in which case one has to find somewhere else to live, probably at greater expense) or borrow against it. The latter is what the banks and economists would love us to do; borrow against our assets, go ever deeper into debt, to fund greater expenditure and grow the economy some more. The fact that the USA is already neck-deep in debt, collectively and individually, is ignored. That’s merely an inconvenience. The important thing, as far as they’re concerned, is to goose us into greater debt to fund greater spending — so that they can make more money out of us.

Emphasis in the original. The current operation of the economy — A buys something from B, but C skims off any profits to be had — is not something I’m willing to borrow money to support.

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Dramamine queen

Historically, the farther I am from the driver’s seat, the more likely I am to hurl all over the upholstery:

Typically, motion sickness gets really bad when you’re trying to use a mobile device or read a book while riding in an automobile. As the body is subjected to involuntary movements caused by the automobile, the eyes attempt to focus upon a fixed object. This causes the central nervous system to get conflicting messages and everything starts to go haywire. While you can feel ill just looking out the window, drivers are less susceptible since they’re constantly scanning and in control of the vehicle’s movements.

Will this help?

There’s room for doubt:

Those of us who already wear glasses know that eye tends to focus far beyond the frame. In fact, you aren’t really even aware that you’re wearing glasses most of the time. Are the bubbles hidden in the bottom of the frame really enough to keep the eyes synced with inner ear?

But this much is indisputable:

Frankly, if they do work as claimed, they would become an invaluable addition to some travelers’ backpacks. There are few experiences less pleasant than being trapped inside a small space you aren’t supposed to puke into and desperately needing to.

Ain’t that the truth.

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