Here’s what Clarkson confessed to the Sunday Times:
TO JUDGE from the letters I get and the remarks in the street, it seems the most memorable thing I did on Top Gear was a short segment about the Reliant Robin. You may remember: I drove it around Sheffield and it kept falling over.
Well, now’s the time to come clean. A normal Reliant Robin will not roll unless a drunken rugby team is on hand. Or it’s windy. But in a headlong drive to amuse and entertain, I’d asked the backroom boys to play around with the differential so that the poor little thing rolled over every time I turned the steering wheel.
Naturally, the health and safety department was very worried about this and insisted that the car be fitted with a small hammer that I could use, in case I was trapped after the roll, to break what was left of the glass.
Reliant sold plenty of cheap, usable little three-wheelers, and somehow managed to never be charged for crimes against humanity. The cars weren’t the most stable things in the world (no pointy-fronted three-wheeler is) but they certainly didn’t tumble around like a roofie’d Mary Lou Retton at every turn.
Jason Torchinsky, “Clarkson Reveals Bombshell: Top Gear Modified Reliant Robins To Make Them Roll”, Jalopnik, 2016-01-13.
June 17, 2016
June 15, 2016
If there is one mental vice, indeed, which sets off the American people from all other folks who walk the earth … it is that of assuming that every human act must be either right or wrong, and that ninety-nine percent of them are wrong.
H.L. Mencken, “The American: His New Puritanism”, The Smart Set, 1914-02.
June 12, 2016
Women have a hard time of it in this world. They are oppressed by man-made laws, man-made social customs, masculine egoism, the delusion of masculine superiority. Their one comfort is the assurance that, even though it may be impossible to prevail against man, it is always possible to enslave and torture a man.
H.L. Mencken, “Duty Before Security”, The Smart Set, 1919-06.
June 7, 2016
1977 was nearing the nadir (what a fortunate homonym!) of American automotive performance.
The base Monte Carlo of Jimmy Carter’s inaugural year shipped with a 2-bbl 305 cubic inch V8 that wheezed out an underwhelming 140 net horsepower. This gasping iron-block lungfish was plopped in a “midsize” car so big that the average NFL team would probably need two running plays to get from the hood ornament to the trunk latch.
But it sure looked good, and any Cletus with a wrench and a SuperShop in the neighborhood strip mall could unlock a lot more power out of that motor…
Tamara Keel, “Automotif CXXVI…”, View from the porch, 2016-05-28.
June 4, 2016
May 17, 2016
Many people have noted that the sabotage techniques listed in a Second World War espionage manual seem to have somehow migrated into a lot of management texts in the last few decades. Here he imagines what an updated version of the manual might look like:
In 1944, the Office of Strategic Services — the predecessor of the post-war CIA — was concerned with sabotage directed against enemies of the US military. Among their ephemera, declassified and published today by the CIA, is a fascinating document called the Simple Sabotage Field Manual (PDF). It’s not just about blowing things up; a lot of its tips are concerned with how sympathizers with the allied cause can impair enemy material production and morale […]
So it occurred to me a week or two ago to ask (on twitter) the question, “what would a modern-day version of this manual look like if it was intended to sabotage a rival dot-com or high tech startup company”? And the obvious answer is “send your best bad managers over to join in admin roles and run their hapless enemy into the ground”. But what actual policies should they impose for best effect?
- Obviously, engineers and software developers (who require deep focus time) need to be kept in touch with the beating heart of the enterprise. So open-plan offices are mandatory for all.
- Teams are better than individuals and everyone has to be aware of the valuable contributions of employees in other roles. So let’s team every programmer with a sales person — preferably working the phones at the same desk — and stack-rank them on the basis of each pair’s combined quarterly contribution to the corporate bottom line.
- It is the job of Human Resources to ensure that nobody rocks the boat. Anyone attempting to blow whistles or complain of harassment is a boat-rocker. You know what needs to be done.
- Senior managers should all be “A” Players (per Jack Welch’s vitality model — see “stack ranking” above) so we should promote managers who are energetic, inspirational, and charismatic risk-takers.
- The company must have a strong sense of intense focus. So we must have a clean desk policy — any personal possessions left on the desk or cubicle walls at the end of the day go in the trash. In fact, we can go a step further and institute hot desking — we will establish an average developer’s workstation requirements and provide it for everyone at every desk.
This would explain some of the management policies at a few places I’ve worked at over the years…including the software company where I first met Charlie.
May 15, 2016
Published on 11 May 2016
Midlands News lays out the unbiased facts on Brexit, including its devastating effect on Americans, polar bears and old people who can’t swim. For more details visit www.doreen.tv, or better still just vote the way you’re told.
May 10, 2016
If you want to know what’s happening in the American military, you need to check in with Duffelblog for the straight dope:
The US Army’s ongoing efforts to be more open and accepting has expanded this week to include another historically marginalized group: Furries. According to sources close to acting Army Secretary John McHugh, the Army will soon announce a set of uniform accommodations for these soldiers, who fetishize animal costumes.
“We are committed to allowing these people to follow their religion or their hearts or the voices in their fillings, or whatever the hell it is that drives them to dress and act this way,” said the source, who requested anonymity on the grounds that he didn’t want his name to show up in Google searches for Furries. “I mean, where the hell does it end?”
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Dan Dailey says changes won’t stop with Furries.
“We are considering rules to allow female soldiers who are dominatrixes in their off hours to carry riding crops on duty,” Dailey said. “Shoe fetishists could actually get a new MOS, polishing shoes for other soldiers, as well as super high heeled, platform combat boots.”
“And we’ve already decided uniform tunics for MILFs will now come without top buttons.”
Dailey denied however that Bronies will soon be able to serve openly.
“You have to draw a line somewhere,” he said.
May 8, 2016
May 1, 2016
The finish had been subject to extremes of sunlight and temperature and humidity. Not left outdoors, but I figured an attic or something. My neighbor later told me that it was left on an enclosed porch for many years. Bingo. The finish was missing here and there, but what there was looked like suede when you ran your finger across it. It was completely crisscrossed with fingermarks going every which way. I pawed at it a bit, running through the rusty filing cabinet of my mind to figure out what I was looking at. It came to me in a vision — all at once.
I knew it was shellac. Of all the dumb luck. No one had “fixed” this piece of furniture in 75 years. It didn’t have any new, improved finish that wouldn’t last but couldn’t be fixed. It wasn’t “eco,” another word for wasteful useless disposable plastic crap. The finish was made from the nasty ooze that comes out of a lac bug and dries on a tree branch. Your favorite Hindoo used to gather the stuff by putting tarps on the ground under trees where the lac bugs congregate, and then beating the limbs with sticks to make the amber flakes rain down. When you mix lac leavings with alcohol, you get shellac. It’s wonderful stuff.
Shellac sticks to anything. Anything sticks to shellac. Shellac can be diluted till there’s barely a whisper of lac left in it, but it still makes a coherent film. It seals knots. Shellac can be polished to mirror shine if you want to. A technique called French polishing is the finish you saw on Baron Percy Devonshire Smythe XXIVth’s harewood and mahogany gaming table back when King George was still gibbering on his throne. You can make shellac look like anything you want. Our dresser had pigment mixed in with it to make a kind of varnish stain that could be sprayed on in one coat as an all-purpose stain/finish.
Shellac is so safe for humans to handle that you can eat it, and you might have. They used to make the capsules that drugs and vitamins come in out of shellac. And the greatest thing about shellac, at least for me, is that no matter how old it is, it immediately dissolves and gets loose in the presence of alcohol, just like everyone at your office Christmas party.
Sippican Cottage, “Happy Birthday, Mrs. King”, Sippican Cottage, 2016-04-20.
April 28, 2016
I’m on the road in Thailand, speaking at a U.N. conference on sustainable A development in the Third World. Earlier today I listened to a presentation on the effects of sex education for women. The presentation mentioned some cultural value conflicts about sex education, but it occurred to me that it didn’t touch the biggest one. To wit: worldwide, the teachers want the kids to learn abstinence, but what the kids [want] to learn is technique.
Eric S. Raymond, “That’s Why They Call It ‘Sex Education'”, Armed and Dangerous, 2002-05-20.
April 25, 2016
If, after I depart this vale, you ever remember me and have thought to please my ghost, forgive some sinner and wink your eye at some homely girl.
H.L. Mencken, “Epitaph”, Smart Set, 1921-12.
April 16, 2016
H/T to American Digest for the link.
April 12, 2016
… one of those dim, dumpy “world-famous in Canada” sorts who are especially unimpressive whenever they happen to be, as in her case, “Kay-BECK-erz.” This human chafing dish for received liberal wisdom has received so many “honors” and “awards” that one friend I’d brought along said he half expected that, mid-debate, someone would walk out on stage and hand her a new one.
Kathy Shaidle, “An Evening With the ‘Rape Me First, Kill Me Last’ Crowd”, Taki’s Magazine, 2016-04-05.
April 10, 2016
Conservatives have a nasty habit of being sympathetic to corporations, viewing them as a bulwark against government overreach. The reality is far different. If you’re a religious traditionalist in 21st-century America, big business hates your guts.
James E. Miller, “The Business End of Freedom”, Taki’s Magazine, 2016-03-31.