Sunday, December 17, 2006
On it, quite easily visible to anyone in adjacent lanes, was some sort of porn.
I really don't understand... do people really need to be plugged into TV all the time? Isn't driving engaging enough? And even if they must watch TV at all times, can't the keep their porn at home, where the rest of us don't have to look at it?
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
It seems like Ford and GM both made the same mistake--they brought a knife to a gun-fight, and got whacked by Honda and Toyota in the minivan segment. Both companies sold bland, underpowered, and unrefined vans, and must have made a conscious decision not to invest the money required to produce a world class product. Meanwhile, Toyota focused on quality and refinement, and Honda decided to make minivans a little sharper, and a lot quicker. Chrysler, the now (and future?) king of the segment, made sure to cover the market from cheap soccer wagons up to more elegant looking trim, and dropped some serious money on adding fold-in seats.
"We do believe it is a declining segment," GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz told The News on Tuesday. "Our new crossovers, Acadia, Outlook and Enclave with their three rows of seats and economical V-6 engines, can meet the same customer needs, minus the 'Soccer Mom' stigma.."
There is nothing wrong with using crossovers (tall wagons, or unibody SUVs, or whatever) to fill the"mommy wagon" niche, there will always be a market here. However, CUVs are not minivans--they don't have sliding doors, as a rule, which creates a real problem for many customers, who need the convenience. Power sliding doors allow parents to juggle more stuff while they wrestle the baby out of the second row.
Maybe the minivan market is shrinking, but the abject failure of Ford and GM hinges not on changing fashions--they just chose not to compete.
It is shocking how small these cars really are, compared to a typical mid-sized sedan. There is so little crush space from the front bumper to the driver, and at the rear, I don't think I could ever feel safe driving one. The tall greenhouse and small wheels pushed out to the corners make the thing look like a rollerskate.
The driver was a wiry, gray haired middle aged man, who I imagine was quite pleased with himself, as he filled his tiny gas tank and smugly thought about his 40mpg. Then again, he could have been an engineer or exec driving an evaluation unit--I didn't get a good look at the plate, other than to see that it was the white on dark blue of MI.
Friday, November 17, 2006
As you may have guessed from my occasional firearm-related posting, I am squarely in the pro-gun camp. Jalopnik reports that Ford took some jounalists, including bloggers, to a shooting range for some fun, as part of a James Bond themed day. (Aside: isn't Aston Martin the Bond brand? And in the last Bond movie, didn't the bad guys drive Fords and Lincolns?)
Color me jealous.
For any readers in SE MI, the range the event happened looks like it was Target Sports in Royal Oak, guessing from the photos. This is a first class indoor pistol range, and they will rent you a full-auto gun (MP5, Colt SMG) if you are ready to pay the (hefty) rental fee. I go there occasionally to shoot.
After the shooting event, the journalists were driven to a martini making class.
See The Lincoln MKX on AmazonI think this is a silly tactic, and one that has a real danger of back-firing. In general, Amazon allows customers to post negative reviews of products if they are reasonably written. Like any other item, it appears that users can comment on the Lincoln vehicles and give them star ratings. You can't really order a Lincoln from Amazon, and you don't save any money, which is Amazon's big draw. You also can't cross-shop other cars.
People are not going to go and email each other, "hey, did you see that new Lincoln on Amazon? $25 shipping!".
Sunday, November 12, 2006
The Buick O' Truth
Thursday, November 09, 2006
A Democrat controlled Congress will have some definite effects on the auto industry, some good and some bad. I have to play arm-chair economist for a while, here are a few examples I have thought of:
• Consumer Spending--The Democrats are likely to raise taxes to pay for more generous social programs. They are also likely to raise the minimum wage, which will increase the prices of some goods and services. I expect this to put pressure on new car sales, as the general economy slows down. The stock market seems to be reflecting this already, but maybe I'm jumping the gun. Bad for the industry.
• Oil/Fuel--It is likely that the Democrats will suppress new exploration and drilling offshore and in Alaska, as part of their environmental policy. It is also possible that they will raise taxes on oil companies, which will have various chilling effects on that industry, from reduced production to a pass-through of the tax to consumers. They may or may not support increasing refining capacity, depending on who is talking. The new Congress will also likely support taxpayer subsidized ethanol production and distribution. I expect that the price of oil and gasoline will increase, and the oil futures seem to be headed that way. Bad for the industry.
• Labor Policy--The Democrats are the party of organized labor. I expect them to take union friendly stands when the opportunity arises. It may become harder for the unionized auto makers (the Big 2.5) to reduce their union labor costs, which is a needed step to become competitive with the imports and transplants, if Congress gets involved. Bad for the industry.
• Trade Policy--The Democrats have said that they support fair trade, and will energetically pursue trade deals that remove barriers to U.S. goods, and reduce the advantages that countries like China and Korea give their domestic industries, such as undervalued currency. If they can manage to open up markets without engaging in a trade war, this could help export sales. Maybe good for the industry.
• Environmental/CAFE--There are two schools of thought in the Democratic party on automotive fuel economy and environmental regulation. One side is the California greenie side, exemplified by Nancy Pelosi, who voted to raise CAFE to 33mpg. On the other side is Rep. John Dingell, expected to chair the energy committee, who represents a heavily UAW district, and tends to be much more friendly to the Big 2.5 on CAFE issues. CAFE has both good and bad effects on the industry. On one hand, it increases the barrier to entry for new competitors such as the Chinese. On the other it tends to make vehicles more expensive to buy, due to the additional technology necessary to meet the new requirements; it may reduce safety if it forces more people into small cars. If Dingell can hold off the California wing, then the damage may be modest. Maybe bad for the industry.
• Safety Regulations--More stringent safety regulations have similar effects as CAFE, but with a more positive tilt, I think. They increase the barrier to entry for competitors, and may also increase vehicle cost somewhat, hurting sales; however, many safety advances do not have a very high cost associated with them, such as stability control or additional airbags, compared with the major powertrain changes that may be required to meet higher CAFE standards. Maybe good for the industry.
• Healthcare Costs--The Big 2.5 have been hammering on healthcare costs for some time, suggesting that the federal government may be able to help. The question is, what form will this help take? Modest improvements such as beating up the drug companies won't be a game changer, but major changes such as a socialized government medical insurance system will be so expensive in taxes they they will be destructive to the broader economy. I don't think the Democrats will be able to enact socialized medicine any time soon, so I guess I'd call this one Maybe good for the industry.
• Tort Reform--is now dead. The Democrats are long time clients of the trial lawyers, and fight tort reform ferociously. Auto companies will not see further relief from outrageous product liability awards. Bad for the industry.
Re-reading my list, I suppose I am pessimistic. I expect a more aggressive regulatory environment, higher taxes, a slower economy, and more expensive fuel and vehicles, which will translate directly into slower sales for the auto companies. On the more positive side, the automakers may get some healthcare cost relief, albeit at the expense of the taxpayer's wallet, and may get some help with foreign trade.
I hope that the now opposition party Republicans and now lame-duck President will grow some cojones, and fight off as much bad economic policy as possible. President Bush needs to buy a shiny new red veto pen. It is bad enough in Detroit as it is.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Friday, October 20, 2006
The car is street legal because it is grandfathered--and it is also tax free.
Video from YouTube.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
As of October 5, 2006, Underwriters Laboratories Inc. has suspended authorization to use UL Markings (Listing or Recognition) on components for fuel dispensing devices that specifically reference compatibility with alcohol blended fuels that contain greater than 15% alcohol (i.e. ethanol, methanol or other alcohols). Dispenser components as they relate to use with traditional fuel blends (i.e., blended fuels containing 15% or less alcohols) are unaffected. In all cases, acceptability of fuel dispensers for using alcohol-blended fuels containing greater than 15% alcohol (e.g., E-85) remains at the discretion of the Authority Having Jurisdiction.
Research indicates that the presence of high concentrations of Ethanol or other alcohols within blended fuels makes these fuels significantly more corrosive. This may result in the fuel chemically attacking the materials used in fuel dispenser components, and may ultimately degrade the dispenser’s ability to contain the fuel. While UL has no evidence of field issues related to this application, we are suspending authorization to use the UL Mark on components used in dispensing devices that will dispense any alcohol blended fuels containing over 15% alcohol until updated certification requirements are established and the effected components have been found to comply with them.
This move, according to the Detroit Free Press, has caused two ethanol pumps to be shut down in Columbus Ohio. That's because in many places, fire code requires that fuel pumps carry UL safety certification.
Mark Griffin, president of the Michigan Petroleum Association, which represents 1,500 stores, said state officials were still wrestling with the question of whether the pumps at Michigan's 26 E85 stations still met state standards, and new pumps wouldn't be available until UL clears up the confusion, which "could be a matter of weeks. It could be months or years."
"Somebody asked whether this thing is heading toward a train wreck," Griffin said. "Well, I don't know."
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Jalopnik has a nice photo gallery.
Besides being a nice fleet vehicle for small businesses, and a perfect platform for advertising, this HHR has a definite utilitarian cool factor to it. You can expect this car to be a platform for all kinds of customization at SEMA--surfing, woody edition, extreme audio. How about a micro-hearse edition?
GM should offer mountain bike mounting hardware for the cargo floor.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
A Jaguar XJ sporting a Michigan vanity plate that read YNKSFAN. Brave.
A white E-350 cargo van, no windows, with a lift kit and a full 4x4 system. Vanity plate read RU4RDTUF. Looked like a roll-over machine to me!
A red Chrysler minivan with a vanity plate that read GAVE IN. Heh.
And finally, one of these, a Dodge Rampage (Omni-Camino?). I can't remember seeing one in recent history, I thought they all must have fallen apart by now. Some day, I'd like to see the ultimate--a Dodge Rampage with camper!
Sunday, September 24, 2006
A Mitsubishi dealership in Ohio tested the bounds of good taste with a radio ad poking fun at Islamo-fascism. From the Detroit News:
I'm torn on this one. On one hand, mocking your enemy is a time honored tradition during times of war. On the other hand, you don't have to pretend to the enemy to mock him.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A car dealership's tongue-in-cheek radio advertisement declaring "a jihad on the automotive market," will not be changed, the company said, despite drawing sharp criticism that the ad's content is offensive.
Several stations rejected the spot from Dennis Mitsubishi, which boasts that sales representatives wearing "burqas" -- head-to-toe traditional dress for Islamic women -- will sell vehicles that can "comfortably seat 12 jihadists in the back."
"Our prices are lower than the evildoers' every day. Just ask the pope!" the ad says. "Friday is fatwa Friday, with free rubber swords for the kiddies."
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Hugo Chavez, Venezuelan thug-in-chief and panderer to dictators the world over, gave a speech at the U.N.:
"Representatives of the governments of the world, good morning to all of you. First of all, I would like to invite you, very respectfully, to those who have not read this book, to read it.Noam Chomsky, left wing wingnut, Jewish anti-Semite, America hater, socialist scum who invests his millions in the stockmarket.
Noam Chomsky, one of the most prestigious American and world intellectuals, Noam Chomsky, and this is one of his most recent books, 'Hegemony or Survival: The Imperialist Strategy of the United States.'"
He's been hanging out with the Iranians--America is Great Satan, Israel is Little Satan, and Bush is the devil!
The hegemonic pretensions of the American empire are placing at risk the very survival of the human species. We continue to warn you about this danger and we appeal to the people of the United States and the world to halt this threat, which is like a sword hanging over our heads.
The devil is right at home. The devil, the devil himself, is right in the house.
"And the devil came here yesterday. Yesterday the devil came here. Right here." [crosses himself] "And it smells of sulfur still today."
Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this rostrum, the president of the United States, the gentleman to whom I refer as the devil, came here, talking as if he owned the world. Truly. As the owner of the world.
They say they want to impose a democratic model. But that's their democratic model. It's the false democracy of elites, and, I would say, a very original democracy that's imposed by weapons and bombs and firing weapons.Right, much better the "true" democracy of Cuba, and Venezuela, and China, and Iran. Vote all you want, there's only one guy on the ballot. Don't ask too many questions, or this guy with the baton and shotgun will ruin your day. And take down that satellite dish, comrade.
This is imperialist, fascist, assassin, genocidal, the empire and Israel firing on the people of Palestine and Lebanon. That is what happened. And now we hear, "We're suffering because we see homes destroyed.'Those pesky Jews, couldn't they just roll over and die quietly?
And I think I have some inkling of what the peoples of the south, the oppressed people think. They would say, "Yankee imperialist, go home." I think that is what those people would say if they were given the microphone and if they could speak with one voice to the American imperialists.Not only should Yankee Go Home, Yankee should build a 12ft fence topped with razor wire and keep your goods and your people out of the U.S. And Yankee should stop buying Chavez' oil.
CHAVEZ (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I don't think anybody in this room could defend the system. Let's accept -- let's be honest. The U.N. system, born after the Second World War, collapsed. It's worthless.
And maybe we have to change location. Maybe we have to put the United Nations somewhere else; maybe a city of the south. We've proposed Venezuela.
Chavez is right about this. The U.N. is worthless. I vote we withdraw. I also agree with his suggestion to move it to Venezuela. Better yet, move it to Tehran.
I don't care if my car is out of gas, and I have to be towed an extra five miles to get to the next BP station. I will not buy Citgo gas as long as Chavez is cashing the check, and sending the change to Fidel.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
We must remember, they are trying to kill us.
And we also must remember the heroes we lost, the ones who ran into the very jaws of death to try and drag others out.
The ones who ran up the stairs of burning skyscapers carrying heavy lifesaving gear; the ones who faught the fires at the Pentagon, the ones who faught the murderers in the air.
The ones who had to choose the fire or the fall.
The ones who died in Afghanistan, and in Iraq, fighting the many headed monster.
The ones who we will never see again.
May God embrace them.
May we never lose our will to defend ourselves.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
Thursday, September 07, 2006
The punditry flew thick and fast, from the bloggers to the Wall Street analysts. Some think Mulally is not going to be effective because he is an outsider, others think that this is exactly what is needed.
I think that the voters at AutoBlog's recent poll (results here) are right: the choice of CEO is not critical for Ford. "It's the product, stupid" seems to be the popular answer.
From my reading in the Wall Street Journal and other places, it seems that Mulally is known as a gregarious team builder on one hand, and a ruthless cost cutter on the other. While at Boeing, he cut nearly 50% of Boeing's employees, and outsourced many airplane parts and modules to suppliers.
I would guess that Mulally has been brought in to do the same thing for Ford--chop the company down in size, without mercy, by focusing on simplifying the product line and outsourcing major modules. A likely outcome of this is fewer brands under the Ford umbrella, fewer platforms, and more common parts between platforms--which is what all of the automakers have been working on doing for some time now. "Simplify!" and "Outsource!" have been the automotive mantra for some time.
Could Bill Ford have done this? I am sure he could have, but reports were that he was exhausted from wearing his three badges--CEO, President, and Chairman.
A telling bit from the Wall Street Journal yesterday, my paraphrase: Bill Ford awoke one day at 5:00am, but instead of going for his morning run, he sat down and started making a list of what he would like Ford to represent over the next 10 years. "Safety" and "Environment" were two of the things on the list. Bill Ford then thought about what brands were on the road to delivering his key goals, and which brands weren't. The brands that didn't look like they could deliver might not "fit in" with the future of Ford.
In another part of the same piece, the WSJ related this story: at a board meeting, Mark Fields advocated that Ford sell Aston Martin to generate cash to keep North America moving forward. Mark Schultz disagreed, saying that Aston was making money. Bill Ford "slammed his hands down on the table", and said "join the party, we're selling it".
What comes out of these stories, if true, is that Bill Ford is wearing thin, and needs a frontman to take over the day-to-day grind of making ugly decisions that upset employees, shareholders, and dealers.
Reading the tea leaves, I see this scenario (purely my speculation): Jaguar, Land Rover, and Aston are sold off. Mercury is phased out, and Mazda takes its place as the urban/youth/import brand. Lincoln dealerships must then pick up Mazda, or sell Fords as well as Lincolns. Lincoln is on probation. Volvo stays put, due to its strong safety portfolio, and as the Euro-Luxury brand. Ford vehicles get more upscale options, to fill in for the missing Mercury.
I wish Mr. Mulally God-speed, because all of us here in Metro Detroit need Ford to be healthy, not just workers but everyone else from the auto suppliers to the restaurants.
The first "presidential hybrid", the special edition Mariner will include some special custom features designed especially for Bill Clinton which have not been publicized, for security reasons.
- Red LED arrays provide soft red mood lighting
- Radar reflecting paint, allowing the vehicle to go "off radar" when necessary
- A black lacquered cigar box will present illegal Cuban cigars at the press of a button
- The rear bench has been replaced with pair of buckets which when folded down reveal an inflatable matress
- The glass and doors are extra thick, to drown out the sound of Hillary, and deflect flying furniture
- Darkly tinted windows provide privacy
- Special stain resistant synthetic upholstery, to repel McDonalds special sauce and other stains
- A special telematics system, invented by Al Gore
- The I-4 gasoline engine has been replaced with a french-fry (or chitlin) grease burning diesel
Saturday, September 02, 2006
The survey also found that consumers expected to pay a $5250 premium for a hybrid vehicle.
Yet U.S. car buyers may have unrealistic expectations about how much fuel -- and money -- they'll actually save by going green with one of many emerging, non-gas options.
Among those considering a hybrid, for instance, the belief is there will be a 28 mpg fuel economy improvement over a gas vehicle. In reality, the improvement is closer to 9 mpg, according to J.D. Power and Associates' 2006 Alternative Powertrain Study.
So let's do some quick math. A 28mpg improvement means a savings of $965 a year, assuming 21mpg non hybrid economy, 12000 mi/yr, and $3/gal gas.*
You could interpret this to mean that people want a hybrid to payoff in about 5 years. This is reasonable, as the average car owner keeps a car for about 8 years.
But the truth is, only the stingiest of curent hybrids (Prius, Civic) come out ahead over 5 years, according to Consumer Reports, and to get there they had to assume $4 gas and federal tax breaks. (my post on this here).
Hybrids don't make economic sense, which is why they are more of a fashion statement at this point than a consumer movement.
* Non hybrid: 12000mi/21mpg * 3$/gal = $1714/yr;
hybrid: 12000mi/48mpg * 3$/gal = $750/yr
I'm not a motorcycle guy, so maybe someone out there can help me out. Aren't trikes less stable (in dynamic maneuvers) than motorcycles, because they can't lean into the turn, and are therefore more prone to rolling? How do you do an emergency avoidance maneuver on a trike?
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Honda has great technology, and excellent engines. But their design for the U.S. market is weak, in fact, it is the chink in their armor. I mean, what is this thing supposed to be? It has BMW X5/Mercedes ques along the sides, and a rear quarter that reminds me of a Chrysler product. The front end has a small nose with an apparent overhang and a strange mustache underneath. The front bumper appears to jut forward like a cow-catcher.
Has Honda hired away all of Kia/Hyundai's old designers or something?
I thought that the current Honda Pilot/Ridgeline was a decent look--butch and trucky in a Japanese Mr. Roboto sort of way. The new Civic is very Japanese, and very unique.
This thing, well, if this is the new Honda SUV design language, then GM and Ford have a great opening: make some reliable small SUVs with some passion.
Friday, August 25, 2006
So, here's my Dear-Bill note:
Sell Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin. I've said this before, and I'll say it again. Jag is a black hole, a cash vacuum. Ford doesn't know how to fix it, after years of trying. The trick is, can Ford find a buyer? Rumors are that Jacques "The Knife" Nasser and J.P. Morgan may be interested. That would be rich, as Nasser's buying binge is partly how Ford got into its mess in the first place.
Keep Volvo. Lots of "synergy" there (terrible, over-used business jargon). Volvo has been profitable, can probably make money, and has lots of high-tech safety goodies to borrow. Volvo can be Ford's European luxury brand in place of Jaguar.
Keep Mercury, as long as it makes money (and keeps Lincoln dealers from starving--a key point). But the metro-sexual thing? Not going to work. You're not going to make Mercury into Scion/VW/Honda. I'd see Mercury as more of a Saturn/Buick like entity. Mercury is "Ford plus bling". Keep Lincoln, but make it interesting--look back to the big black boats with suicide doors. Please, no more angry cheese grater robots.
Go private! This will save some cash--no more Sarbanes-Oxley accountants, no more stock dividends. No more Evelyn Davis or liberal Catholic nuns badgering you at the shareholders meeting. No more analysts. Even better, become "employee pwned"--issue private shares to all employees, and invite employees to buy more, financing the company.
To raise cash, sell a stake to an industrial partner. How about BP or Shell Oil? They have tons of cash, and the fuel marketing opportunities would be significant. Sell part of Ford Credit to a bank, like Citigroup.
Consider an alliance, but leave Mr. Bean, er Carlos Ghosn alone. Ghosn is a talented executive, no doubt, but Ford's problem's aren't due to a lack of cost-cutting. Ford's problem is lack of attractive product. What does Nissan have that Ford needs, other than money? Ford already has Mazda for Japanese influence, and Ford Europe/Volvo for European.
If you make an alliance, make one with a company that has something you need. GM for example has excellent low-cost truck engines with cylinder de-activation. Honda has world class small and mid-size cars. Harley has motorcycles. Chrysler has Dr. Z and his mustache.
Fix the product:
Buy Mark Fields a haircut. "Best Executive Mullet", heh.
- Re-task a few product teams from working on the next Explorer or whatever to get a sub-compact car from Mazda, Ford Europe or Ford South America ready for U.S. regulatory compliance. Do it with minimal changes, so it is ready sooner than later.
- Bring a small SUV over as well, call it Bronco.
- Bring the European Focus over, to compete with Civic, Corolla, and Sentra.
- SVT Fusion!
- Lincoln Mustang/Lincoln Continental (with suicide doors!)
- Do sheet-metal and interior on the Ranger to bring it closer to F-150. I bet there is still a market for small pickups, if they are done well.
- Stop futzing around with hybrids and put your money into improving your IC engines.
- Stop naming Ford's with F and Mercuries with M. It is confusing and annoying. Stop naming Lincolns with MK*.
Friday, August 18, 2006
"Those are the people who have been overcharging us, selling us stale bread and bad meat and wilted vegetables. And they sold out and moved to Florida. I think they've ripped off our communities enough. First it was Jews, then it was Koreans and now it's Arabs; very few black people own these stores."Edit: Ah, I'm late to the story. Young already resigned from his chairmanship.
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Palestinian gunmen, who identified themselves as members of the Islamic Jihad group, shoot a man in a public square in the West Bank town of Jenin Sunday Aug. 13, 2006. The man, who was executed in front of hundreds of people, was accused by the gunmen of giving information to Israeli authorities, helping them to kill two militants last week in a targeted attack, said witnesses and Islamic Jihad members. The victim was identified as Bassem Malah, 22, who worked in the Israeli Arab town of Umm al Fahm. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)
Saturday, August 12, 2006
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
"It is appalling that BP let this critical pipeline deteriorate to the point that a major production shutdown was necessary," said Rep. John Dingell, the top-ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, in a statement.
"The United States Congress has an obligation to hold hearings to determine what broke down here and what laws and regulations need to be improved to ensure problem pipelines like these are found and fixed earlier," Dingell said
Don't forget that the Democrats fought tooth and nail to prevent drilling in ANWR.
So which is it? Are high oil prices bad, or is oil production in Alaska bad? Can they pick a side and stick to it?
Thursday, August 03, 2006
The Navigator (red) looked good from the rear, and had relatively clean lines from the side view. This was also my impression of the (pearl white) Escalade. Both trucks had a bit of decoration in back, the Navigator with chrome edging on its tail lamps, and the Escalade with the prominent chrome bar and Cadillac badge. I give the rear view to Navigator, for being more understated.
Where things fell apart for me was in front. The Navigator has a very busy front end, which reminds me somehow of an angry cheese grater or maybe a 1950's era robot. Too much flash, too many lines. There is also a prominent bulge in the hood, which has a flashy chromed leading edge, forming a metallic unibrow for the robot. The front view of the Navigator gave me a nervous, busy vibe.
The Escalade was more subdued, in person, and not as busy looking. It also had a big chrome grille up front, and a chrome unibrow. The Cadillac badge up front was large, but it was proportionate to the large vertical headlamps.
If I was in the market for a large luxury guzzler SUV, based on the exterior design I think I would choose the Escalade over the Navigator. Surprisingly, in person, the Cadillac looks more elegant to me than the Navigator.
When it comes to the interior design, however, I would pick the Navigator as having the more interesting design. The Cadillac interior (which I know only from press photos on the web) is an anonymous, but tasteful space which could be from any high end Japanese or European luxury vehicle. The Navigator interior, however, has a definite character, and is unmistakably Lincoln. It is a matter of taste, of course, but I would take the Lincoln furniture.
If I actually had the kind of money to spend on a vehicle that either of these beasts costs, I would pick neither. Instead, I would get myself a nice turbo wagon (think Volvo V50 or Saab SportCombi) for commuting, and for nice days, a Mazda MX-5 or Pontiac Solstice. I'd probably have gas money left over.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Saturday, July 29, 2006
Gun camera footage: IDF takes out katyusha launcher. See ~1:05, you can see the guy manning the launcher start running for his life, right before--kaboom.
Saturday, July 22, 2006
Sunday, July 16, 2006
Basically, the way it works is that gears are linked together by sliding "bullets", which can lock gears together in one direction, but if one gear outspeeds the other, the bullets disengage. These sliding bullets would replace the synchronizing components on a manual transmission. It is hard to describe, but the animation here illustrates it.
Supposedly, this technology allows very smooth quick shifts, and eliminates many parts of current transmission.
ZeroShift is testing a prototype unit which is installed in a V6 Mustang.
Friday, July 14, 2006
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
This is amazing. Her conviction was overturned because a witness was mistaken about a television show?
Prosecutors have said they plan to once again call Dr. Park Dietz, the psychiatrist who testified at Yates' first trial that one episode of "Law & Order" depicting a woman who drowned her kids in a bathtub and was acquitted by reason of insanity aired before the Yates children died.
But no such episode existed, and the mistake caused an appeals court to overturn Yates' conviction.
Why does it much matter? There are two major issues in the case: first, did Yates kill her children (she did, and no one disputes it); second, was she ill at the time or not?
How could the existence or non-existence of aTV show episode be that important?
Friday, June 23, 2006
First, they dropped the Jeep Compass on us. Bleh.
Then, the Imperial, "I can't believe it's not a Rolls!".
Now, the new Sebring, which looks to me like an over-inflated (overfed?) Crossfire. Other comments I have seen compare it to a crossbreed between a Crossfire and a Saturn Ion.
The hood has rake lines, the headlights look Korean-angry, the sides look busy, and the rear looks like any generic Asian family sedan's. I like GM's G6 (taught, sport) and Ford's Fusion (angular, edgy, clean) much better. Chrysler is bucking the cleaner, simpler trend here and moving more towards Kia faux-luxury.
I am sure the ACLU will step up to defend these poor, spied-upon fellows, who obviously had their civil rights trampled by the racist, xenophobic FBI. I'm sure Louis Farrakhan will explain to us that this is anti-Muslim, anti-Black entrapment, and that these peaceful fellows never meant to blow up the Sears Tower.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
I sent the following email to CSPI.
I think that you should target the U.S. dairy industry. Big Milk keeps pushing the idea that "milk does a body good", when in fact, humans are not really meant to be consuming milk after infancy. At least, government regulations, labelling, and perhaps excise taxes should be used to discourage the consumption of high fat milk products.
I also find their advertising worrisome. By using cute stories ("Raymond Burr") and professional athletes with milk mustaches, Big Milk is brainwashing kids into thinking that milk is good for them. Milk advertising should be sharply curtailed.
Big Milk is also a huge recipient of corporate welfare, and it is well known that the excessive flatulence generated by cows contributes thousands of tons of methane, a greenhouse gas, into our atmosphere.
Someone needs to stand up lt the Lactose peddlers, and I think that CSPI is just the right crew for the job.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
FIREARM PARTS AND ACCESSORIESThe reason for the tight rules is obvious: PayPal and eBay are trying to stay in the good graces of the liberal state such as Illinois and California, which have very tight rules about "assault weapons" (ugly guns) and "high capacity magazines" (>10 rounds).
You may not use PayPal to purchase or sell any firearm receivers or frames, components and parts of receivers and frames, or "cut" or "80%" receivers. PayPal also does not permit assault weapon-related parts and accessories, firearm silencers, and kits designed to convert a firearm to have automatic firing capability. This includes the sale of any parts or accessories prohibited for sale by the National Firearms Act or other federal or state law, including items related to short-barreled shotguns or short-barreled rifles, fully automatic weapons, large-capacity magazines, multi-burst trigger activators and camouflaging firearm containers.
For more information about the National Firearms Act (NFA) and its requirements, please refer to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms website.
You may not use PayPal to buy or sell high-capacity magazines (those which hold more than 10 rounds), ammunition with propellant (e.g., gunpowder), or blank ammunition. The term "ammunition" means ammunition or cartridge cases, primers, bullets, or propellant powder designed for use in any firearm.
There are stories floating around on the web about people whose PayPal accounts were summarily closed after they had a transaction where certain keywords relating to firearms had appeared.
I myself have used PayPal to buy firearm related stuff on eBay and other sites; I guess I will have to be more careful.
For fun, I did some searching on various combination of "bold moves".
www.boldmove.com is for sale.
www.boldmoves.com, .net are the sites of a relationship coach, whatever that is.
www.fordsboldmove.com and www.fordboldmoves.com are unregistered.
www.myboldmoves.com is unregistered.
But www.myboldmove.com is a placeholder.
Doing a Whois search on www.myboldmoves.com, I found that it is registered to JWT.com. Going to JWT.com, you see that it is the web site of an advertising agency. Click through to their list of clients and you see that Ford is one of their customers.
I would guess that Ford is going to unveil a "Bold Moves" themed web site at www.myboldmove.com.
What is going to be there, I have no idea. Maybe they will let you pick three letter alphanumeric names for future Lincoln models? Arm wrestle Kermit the Frog? Decorate gay wedding cakes?
(Ok, so this is not exactly the find of the century. I'm not in the mood to post anything that requires much work, and I know that there are a few people out there who may be interested.)
Sunday, May 28, 2006
- Ted Kennedy tried to slip an amendment into an unrelated Coast Guard bill to kill a proposed windmill farm at Cape Cod, where the Kennedy's own an estate. Apparently, the wind turbines would ruin the view.
- Barbara Streisand has a massive oceanside mansion in Malibu, and is said to drive an SUV.
- Arianna Huffington was chauffeured from a Sierra Club national summit in a Chevrolet Suburban
- Gwyneth Paltrow, according to a neighbor, drives a Mercedes SUV.
- In addition to their Priuses, Chevy Chase and family own an SUV which they use to tow a horse trailer.
- Michael Moore traveled in a private jet when traveling on a book tour.
- And of course, there is John Kerry's Scaramouche powerboat, as well as his SUV collection.
*I refuse to celebrate them, so to me, they are "celebrities".
Saturday, May 27, 2006
You can visit his web page by clicking on this logo.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Monday, May 15, 2006
Ben Stien drives a STS-V or an XLR-V. Sweet!
Next, if we want to blame anyone -- and frankly I'm not sure there's anyone to blame -- maybe we should blame ourselves for the oil pinch. I offer my humble self as an example. The first new car I ever bought was a 1972 Subaru FF-1. No air conditioning, no cruise control, no FM radio, no power windows. Four on the floor, four tiny little cylinders, and no power at all.
It got about 40 miles to the gallon. [...] In other words, I was sensible.Now, I drive a Caddy. It's a great car, and I feel like a prince in it. But it gets very poor mileage indeed with its mighty V-8 engine with supercharger. True, I hardly ever drive it, so on a daily basis I hardly buy any gas at all (I like to make that point over and over again to soothe my conscience).
But I'm an American. I like my big cars, and they burn a lot of gasoline. Likewise, I like my air conditioning and my pool heated. So, I play my part in using a ridiculous amount of hydrocarbons. I could spend less by having a smaller car and sweating in the summer. But I don't. I just pay more and suffer financially.This is not just some rich guy talking. How many Dodge Ram 4x4's with lift kits do you see dieseling around the the suburbs with spotless knobby tires? Blue collar guys love hyrdocarbons, too.
Regarding the commodities run-up:
"This time is different" may come true when we hit "peak oil"--that is, annual global oil production starts to decline because supplies are limited. We are not at peak oil yet, and no one knows when it will happen, because there are may areas that are off limits to exploration which could be opened up, once we shove the greenies out of the way, scare some whales, run over some caribou, and club us a few cute baby seals.
As for me, I question if the commodities boom can go on forever. ...
If you think this one will, here's a hint. When people say, "Hey, this nonstop boom has never happened before," and someone responds, "This time it's different," hold onto your wallets. "This time it's different" is one of the most frightening phrases in economics. It's entirely possible that the next move for oil is a long step down. Then won't we be sorry for shooting the messengers?
*Ben Stein is a minor "celebrity", but his brain could bench press the entire cast of M:I:3.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
The technology is really neat, but the 24" wheels with tires will cost you about $15,000!
Friday, May 12, 2006
Sunday, May 07, 2006
APP is American Petroleum Promotions. APP is an MLM (Multi Level Marketing) company which claims to sell $200 gas cards for $150. To order the gas cards, you have to pay an annual $300 membership fee, which if included in the calculations means you only really get a 12.5% discount on your gas cards, not 25%. However, if you sign up as a member of the MLM chain, and get other distributors of gas cards to sign up underneath you, you earn free gas cards.
MLMs are the slightly more respectable (and legal) cousins of the famous Ponzi or Pyramid Scheme. The difference is that in an MLM, some real product flows down the pyramid.
APP is not to be confused with a gas pre-purchase service, which allows you to pre-pay for gas by the gallon, and then draw down on your reserves when prices are high. These are legitimate businesses which work on the same principle as gasoline futures contracts.
So how could this work? APP's web site claims that it can do this through the power of mass purchases--but this is an obvious lie. APP is selling fuel purchase cards that operate on the Discover credit card network--they aren't buying physical gas.
No business can sell $100 bills for $85 and stay afloat, despite the joke that they could make it up on volume.
My guess is that APP can stay afloat as long as new members sign up, paying the $300 up front fee, and as long as new legs of the MLM chain sign up, paying additional fees. As long as the pyramid keeps growing, there will be enough cash flow to pay for $200 gas cards.
When APP stops growing, they won't be able to cover their expenses, and whoever ordered fresh gas cards will not have their orders filled.
This actually happened to this very company once already. In 2003, APP was based in St. Louis Missouri, and the business collapsed. Some details appear here. and BBB report is here. Later, a new owner bought APP and moved it to Texas.
Another reason to be wary: the APP membership application requires your Social Security #. I couldn't find any explanation for this requirement.
I'm with the Chinese place on this one, although, to be honest, I won't go to cheap buffet restaurants. Too dodgy.
"They told us we are not welcome there anymore," said Dershem, a repeat customer at the Dragon House buffet. "We waste too much food. But the buffet is all you can eat. And you know kids. They won't always eat everything and they want something else."
Dershem said she paid her $5.95 fee on Saturday but was abruptly told to leave after eating one plate of food.
Employees said they had been watching her family on previous trips to the restaurant and were fed up with her habits.
"They just take one bite and throw it away," said cashier Lin Huyen. "They take four egg rolls and crab ragoon, take one bite of egg roll and throw the whole plate. That is wasting food."
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
The trick was that the two cars reviewed had close to the same sticker price, which meant that the Fusion had a V6 but the Camry was stuck with its base I4. With the extra power, tighter ride, and better interior at the price point, the Fusion won handily.
You can read the whole thing here.
Friday, April 28, 2006
I think it would work, but people would hate it.
This is another sign that the price of gasoline is not as big an issue as the media and politicians are making it out to be. Everyone knows that driving fast eats more fuel (exponentially). Here in Michigan, however, driving any slower than 75mph on the freeway is considered quite rude.
When people start driving 60mph in 65mph zones, that is when you know that the price of fuel is really hurting them.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
- The Good:
- Sound quality is good
- Battery life in MP3 or FM mode is good
- Design is sharp
- Can be used as a USB hard drive
- Can be had for cheap on eBay, or as a Dell give-away
- The Bad:
- No playlist support
- Displays ID3 tags, but CAN NOT NAVIGATE BY ALBUM OR ARTIST. This is a MAJOR flaw.
- Small display
- The Verdict:
- Use this as a flash drive with MP3, FM capabilities. Or use it like an Apple iPod Shuffle, with no regard to music navigation. Don't use it as your front line MP3 player, you will be disappointed.
UPDATE: I used Dell's support chat to try to find out about skipping albums/artists. I apparently was chatting with a fellow in India. Frustrating, but funny.
Update: I did write "iPod Nano" but I meant to slam the iPod Shuffle, which is similar to the DJ Ditty but has no display or FM radio. The Nano is nice, but expensive, and also has no FM radio.