Friday, January 31, 2003

Although people usually tell me that I'm a smart guy, I'm feeling rather stupid at the moment. Because for the life of me, I can't figure out who Ann thinks she is and why she is yammering on ad infinitum about the content of someone else's blog. I mean, if Ann was the subject of the post I could understand her bitterness. Maybe I could also understand it if Ann was a friend of the subject's. (Ok, you are, so you got me there)

In other words, grrl, if it bothers you to read seliot's comments, don't. If you don't like the idea of reading public comments on your friend's blog, tell her to delete the comments! Or don't read them! I don't really think it's your business to tell her what seliot can and can't comment about.

Which is all just a long-winded and possibly belated way of saying, "Shut up."

Maybe if you met seliot, you'd like him (and Moxie might too), he happens to be a damn good guy. And remember, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So chill, ok?

Friday, January 24, 2003

They never had anything THIS interesting when I was a kid.

National Geographic Swimsuit Issue! Yeah, you read that right.

Oh come on now, I know I wasn't the only adolescent who paged through old issues to look at bare breasts from cultures around the world.

Was I?

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Hopefully the last SUV thoughts (for a while)

Seliot's a bit upset, and I suppose I can understand why. To some extent, I think I addressed most of his concerns in my previous points, but a bit more clarification is in order.

I don't deny that people should be able to choose their own car (though I wouldn't say car choice rises to the level of a RIGHT), and I'm not asking to outlaw SUVs. As far as I'm concerned, it's irrelevant how safe (with respect to it's occupants) any car is. I don't really care if you have spikes on the inside of your car, or load your airbag with gunpowder - as long as it doesn't hurt someone else.

What ticks me off are people whom, when confronted by evidence that their 3 ton vehicle is a serious threat to others, don't seem to care. Or worse, respond by saying "everyone else should get a bigger car". The point is that SUVs don't conform to "normal" auto safety standards. They are considered "light trucks" and no one ever imagined (I imagine) that that car category would one day make up about half of new car sales. I can understand that having some small percentage of vehicles that don't conform to ordinary standards would be ok. Perhaps regulators thought they wouldn't be driven as many miles, or that their drivers would be professionally trained, or any of a thousand other things that might make such a category an acceptable risk. Everyone else shouldn't get a bigger car because no one intended for there to be so damn many of these things on the road! All I ask is that those vehicles be treated like what they are - one of the most common members of our automotive fleet, and therefore regulated like other passenger vehicles.

If someone can honestly tell me they don't care that they drive a vehicle that is significantly more dangerous to people around them, and are unwilling to have SUVs designed like other cars on the road, screw 'em. I do hope they roll over, because I care less about such a self centered jackass than I do about their unsuspecting victims.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

More SUV thoughts.

I'm really not sure who to be ticked at over SUV's, but there are two groups I can think of offhand.

The first is bad drivers. I hate unpredictable, aggressive, and inattentive drivers, but I really don't like them behind the wheel of 3 ton trucks. Just today, I was tailgated by some blonde in a brand new Escalade (still had paper plates) in Santa Monica. When I looked in the rear view mirror, she had one hand on her cell phone, and the other off the wheel adjusting her hair. I fantasized briefly about walking up to her window at the next light and asking if she had ever considered using one hand to steer in traffic. I find it VERY easy to dislike people like that. (Any guesses on how much cargo she was carrying?)

The second is the managers at Ford and GM who design and produce things like the Escalade, Expedition, and Tahoe. After poring over a twisted set of government regulations, they managed to produce a vehicle that (compared to the average car) kills more of its passengers, kills more people it hits, gets really crappy mileage, and handles like pigs on rollerblades, but hey they're profitable!

Just because I don't like them doesn't mean I want to ban them, but isn't it reasonable to make them conform to the same standards as other passenger vehicles?

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Yesterday, I almost got to see an SUV roll over, and I think was secretly hoping it would. Some idiot in a maroon (bad car color) Ford Extravaganza came barreling around the corner and managed to get his inside front wheel airborne. My first thought was, if he rolls, that as***** might hit me. The second was, well at least another one of those things would be off the road.

You see, I really don't like big SUV's. If you're a ranch foreman - fine, ferry workers to a construction site - ok, carry 1 toddler and 3 bags of groceries from your local Snooty Mart - not so ok. If you want to drive an inefficient death trap/killing machine, I wouldn't care if that decision didn't affect the rest of us. But it does.

Gregg Easterbrook blasts away at SUV's and how they got that way in a four page broadside that's worth reading regardless of your position on Big Vehicles. His article relies a little too much on anecdote for my taste, but the arguments are compelling nonetheless.

Favorite quotes:

"The mid-size Nissan Maxima, which weighs less than half as much as a Hummer, has more front legroom."

Many SUVs, such as the Durango, have been consciously engineered to look as threatening as possible, with auto companies using focus groups and other techniques documented in High and Mighty to determine which features and styling cues suggest an anti-social message and then zeroing in on them. The styling goal for the oversized Dodge Ram mega-pickup was "a vehicle that would make other motorists want to get out of your way."

Why are SUVs so profitable? Because they sell at premium prices while being in many respects shoddy merchandise.

So ask yourself, do you have a "right" to drive a vehicle that is 5 times more likely to kill others than an ordinary car? If you really think the answer is yes, I hope you roll over before you get the chance to hit someone. And hey, don't forget, you're more likely to die in that accident too!

I just brought up Yahoo and one of the top links is a story on increasing SUV tax breaks, but only for the REALLY big ones (as mentioned in the above article). I swear, sometimes it seems like the Bushies are doing everything they can to drive me away from their party.

Friday, January 17, 2003

Woo Hoo!

Homer's Back

Glad to see they are renewing my favorite show EVER, and it's still fresh and funny after all these years. I used to watch the Simpsons every Sunday with my wife (then fiancé). Simpons, King of the Hill, X Files - it was a ritual. That lasted about two seasons until we got tired of the X Files and lost momentum on the whole Sunday TV thing.

These days we watch very, very little television (but I make up for it by playing video games), but we're making a place for the Simpsons at our Sunday dinner table. I really enjoy cooking and the Simpsons, so this arrangement lets me get some quality time with the wife at the same time. A trifecta!

P.S My wife also got me a talking beer opener with Homer's voice. Easily the coolest gift I got over the holidays. :)

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

QE2 fails inspection

I find it sort of disturbing that QE2 failed the health inspection. (The crew never referred to the ship as The QE2, just QE2 - no article). I had the "pleasure" of traveling aboard her from New York to England last year, and let me tell you, the food was the best part.

There were a variety of things I disliked about the boat, including small rooms (one of the two beds in our room was too short for me to sleep on), omnipresent smoke, nearly constant vibration, and a disturbing class system onboard for crew and passengers. Each deck (or class of service) had its own dining room and staff, and the staff got whiter and more European as you went up geographically (more $$ decks) or in prestige (more $$ in pay). Ugh.

But the food was very, very good. Breakfast in particular, as I had smoked salmon every morning with a bagel, cream cheese and capers. I'm far too cheap to eat salmon at home on a regular basis, but when it is always part of the menu, why not?

Monday, January 06, 2003

Bush's Tax Announcement


The economy is in a slump, you've overhauled your administration team, and everyone seems to think "SOMETHING should be done". And this is the best you can do?

I basically agree with the reasoning, but come on. Shouldn't your "centerpiece" be something a bit more dramatic, and less likely to be pilloried as a tax cut for the rich? (which it basically is) Hopefully one of the real econo bloggers will have something good to say about this, but I'm a bit doubtful. I'm more than a bit worried that the hands on our economic tiller may be guided a too much by ideology. I suppose time will tell. (results expected later this year)

Friday, January 03, 2003

One Big Pelican

I love watching the pelicans fly along the coast, and I often see them when I bicycle down to the South Bay. They look so ungainly on land, but like some sort of prehistoric fighter plane aloft. Although the way they dive bomb fish is pretty cool ( awesome dive followed by a nice water spout), I really like watching them skim over the water's surface in formation when the conditions are right. Apparently, they do this because of some aerodynamic efficiencies and I guess I'm not the only one following them with interest.