August 2009

They might look harmless and play cheery songs, but El Segundo, California councilman Don Brann is warning parents and protecting children from them: ICE CREAM TRUCKS. Brann warns, according to the Los Angeles Times, that ice cream trucks

  • Deplete children’s pocket money
  • Distract them as they walk home
  • Make it harder for local sports leagues to raise money by selling snacks
  • Often sell dangerous toys, including fire crackers [sic] or replicas of guns

Brann doesn’t want to issue a permit for “someone to do this in our town.”

I’ve got my doubts about whether the “KFC Double Down” is a hoax or for real. If it were real, wouldn’t someone have uploaded a photo of it to Flickr other than the photo in the news? And as far as I can tell, there’s only one source of all the reporting. One picture of the menu, one picture of the food, and one video of a commercial. Ain’t no one gone to Omaha to check it out? [The Consumerist, Treehugger, Orlando Sentinel, etc.]

KFC Double Down

Whether the Double Down is real or not, this is a good occasion to point something out:

“Associated Content” is not a real news organization.

A commenter to one blog let readers know the Double Down was real, because the “real” media had reported it (Associated Content, that is). No. AC only sorta looks like real news. Its contributors are all freelancers, and while some of them do a reasonable job of summarizing the web, others don’t or they just make stuff up. It’s like reading bad college papers (which is different from reading bad journalism). Unfortunately, Google News seems to have been hoodwinked into treating them like a real news organization. Watch out for them.

The Double Down, on the other hand – yeah, I’d try one, hold the sauce please.

Update (August 24, 2009): Rene Lynch of Daily Dish, a Los Angeles Times blog, writes, “We lobbed a call to a media representative,” and that “[the] sandwich does indeed exist.” I’m beginning to believe this thing exists, despite Lynch’s odd prose. It would have been simple to write “A KFC media representative confirmed that the sandwich does exist.” Unless of course Daily Dish only lobbed a call, but didn’t communicate with the media rep, or if the media rep had no connection with KFC. Daily Dish reports that the sandwich is being tested in Providence, Rhode Island, and Omaha. I’m driving to Boston this weekend, and I’m on the fence as to whether it’s worth swinging by Providence on the way back.

This brochure has been getting a lot of press lately. The brochure includes no printed copyright, so I put a copy on my site, and it’s clean, despite the muck Jim Towey threw at it in this Wall Street Journal opinion piece. Any wagers on what the next term is in this sequence: Panels, Book, _________ ?

Update (September 5, 2009): It should be clear to everyone now that the next term is Trucks.

The health care reform bill provides for the standardization of electronic administrative transactions. Under the bill, the standards for electronic administrative transactions shall

enable the real-time (or near real time) determination of an individual’s financial responsibility at the point of service and, to the extent possible, prior to service, including whether the individual is eligible for a specific service with a specific physician at a specific facility, which may include utilization of a machine-readable health plan beneficiary identification card.

This is very cool. It means you’ll get a reliable and quick answer to “What’s covered, and how much will it cost me out-of-pocket?” [It doesn’t mean that THE GOVERNMENT WILL AHVE ACCESS TO YOUR CHEKING ACCOUNT. Really, it doesn’t.] This section has other cool provisions. In fact, the whole bill does. Check it out, unless you can’t because your time is completely sucked up on the phone with your health care insurer about what you owe.

You can read about the recent Investor’s Business Daily horsecrap (“People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn’t have a chance in the U.K.” Oops.) here and elsewhere. IBD may have “corrected” the print version of their crap, but they haven’t (as of this writing) corrected or pulled the audio. In case they do, you can listen to the mother lode of crap, which I snagged and put here: Horsecrap.

This 46-year-old editorial is worth reading, if only as a reminder that the fear mongering is nothing new. Some days I wonder if string theory is right except that we don’t live in the big flat dimensions—we live in the tiny coiled-up dimensions, which could explain why it’s impossible to escape the madness.

Politicians … promising to soak the well-to-do with taxes for “benefits” to the poor in order to redistribute the national wealth. [President Obama promises something else: He will soak the rich.]

The President’s proposal for ________________ is unconstitutional. The Tenth Amendment specifically prohibits the government from engaging in activity for which there is no constitutional grant of power. [Texas Gov. Perry May Use States Rights to Reject Obamacare]

In the President’s view, an American citizen has no right to own and use private property, unless he uses it in a way that officialdom considers to be consistent with the public interest.

Today, it is the demands of _______________ groups which fix official notions of what is consistent with the public interest.

Under authority which he requests in the proposed _________________________, the President could order all private employers to hire communists … black muslims … the President could compel private businessmen to do anything the President wants … . [The insistence on an “employer mandate”]

It was obvious that the President’s _________________ proposal was an act of bowing to radical _________________; but astute observers thing there was a deeper motive behind the proposal. The president has already, by executive orders, established a plan for total dictatorship. The _____________ crisis could become the necessary emergency.

Citizens who value liberty—however they feel about the ____________ problems—should storm Congress with demands that _______________ be rejected.



FujiAbsolute Don’t get me wrong. The GM Volt is probably a good thing. But headlines like G.M.: Chevy Volt Gets 230 M.P.G. are misleading, vulpigerating. Using the same logic, the vehicle that takes me to work and back most days (photo at left, used with permission from / CC BY-SA 2.0) gets infinitely-many M.P.G.

What’s doesn’t fit in the headline is the fact that—unlike a Toyota Prius, say—the Volt needs to be topped up with electricity as well as gas. You have to plug it in and charge it. With a cord. And pay for the electricity. Like your computer and cell phone, except the battery is way bigger. Way bigger. According to this Wall Street Journal article, GM says the car will use 25 kWh of electricity for every 100 miles driven. That’s on top of the just-over-a-penny per mile you’ll pay (at today’s prices) for gas. Where I live, electricity costs about $0.17 per kWh and fuel costs about $2.55 per gallon, and here’s a more useful analysis, still based on a slew of questionable assumptions. I didn’t break it down, but just so you know, the electricity a Volt needs will cost you about 4 times as much as the gas.


Also not clear is where the number 230 comes from, except that it appeared on a green banner (assuming the smiley-faced electric plug is supposed to be a zero) behind Fritz Henderson in a photo in the New York Times. Google returned no hits for any of these phrases at “230 MPG”, “230 M.P.G.”, “230 miles per gallon.”


  • A couple of years ago, my 1989 Honda Civic, which I’d had for 8 years, gave up the ghost. It got about 44 mpg on the highway and 32 mpg in the city.  The car I had for 5 years before it was a 1981 VW Rabbit (Diesel), which got about 45 mpg on the highway and no less in the city. My 2007 Honda Fit only gets about 32 mpg on the highway, largely because of an extra 1000 pounds (over the Civic and Rabbit) needed to make it safer should an SUV or Hummer crash into me. It also pollutes less than either the Civic or Rabbit, which I like.
  • I haven’t called State Farm to ask them whether I would have to pay more for my personal liability insurance if I stretched an extension cord out the door, down the sidewalk in front of 12 neighbors’ doorways, and out into the parking lot.
  • GM is reported to have said you can buy a kWh of electricity off-peak for a nickel (that’s $0.05 for readers outside the U.S.). I don’t know where they sell that, but I’m sure I can’t afford the extension cord. There’s no off-peak potential savings here.

Will 42 still be less than 57 in the New World Order?

What the Daily News says.

I fell off the wagon today and clicked on a F** [obscenity censored] News link. Shit, I’d been so fucking good for weeks. It was horrible again, that feeling of laughing and throwing up at the same time.

Those damn jokers write, “President Obama’s been called a lot of things — but this is probably the first time any campaign has tried to peg him as flat-out creepy.” Excuse me for being so thick, but if F**’s S*** H****** [obscenities censored] hasn’t been trying for months to peg the prez as creepy in, for example, that dumb Che-Il-Obama-Barnes & Noble “Welcome to the very creepy socialist Twilight Zone” video, what the fuck was he doing?

  • someone who’s shown an interest in baking pans and irons
  • someone who has shown an interest in classical music recently
  • someone who has shown an interest in toys
  • someone who has shown an interest in hot cocoa
  • someone who has shown an interest in men’s clothing
  • someone who has shown an interest in men’s apparel
  • someone who has shown an interest in men’s dress clothes
  • someone who has shown an interest in Gillette, Old Spice, and Zest [1]
  • someone who has shown an interest in cutlery
  • someone who has shown an interest in joint health for your dog [2]
  • someone who has shown an interest in computers and wireless devices
  • someone who has shown an interest in camcorders
  • someone who has shown an interest in men’s shoes
  • someone who has shown an interest in GPS, sporting goods, or automotive
  • someone who has shown an interest in headphones
  • someone who has shown an interest in HDTVs
  • someone who’s shown an interest in rice cookers
  • someone who has shown an interest in Frito Lay chips and snacks
  • someone who has shown an interest in Leonidas chocolates
  • someone who has shown an interest in Haribo gummies [3]
  • someone who has shown an interest in air tools and compressors
  • someone who’s shown an interest in car care products or grinders and polishers
  • someone who has shown an interest in plumbing fixtures
  • someone who has shown an interest in hand tools
  • someone who has shown an interest in mice, keyboards, and tablets
  • someone who has shown an interest in groceries
  • someone who has shown an interest in seasonal lighting
  • someone who has shown an interest in ornaments
  • someone who has shown an interest in seasonings

[1] I’ve never shown an interest in Old Spice.
[2] It wasn’t my dog. It was my God dog, Scudder (below).
[3] I’ve shown more interest in Albanese gummies.