Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Check out that Auto Transport Service

Thinking of hiring an Auto Transport Service? You better check them out ahead of time. Apparently there are some real stinkers out there. The site below, www.auto-transport-reviews.com, specialized though it is seems to have a high participation rate, and I have a client who could have benefited from knowing about it before getting involved with a bad operator.

Auto-Transport-Reviews.com - Your source to finding a quality auto transporter!
Thunder Below is now in Paperback

One of my favorite non-fiction submarine books, Thunder Below by Ret. Adm. Eugene Fluckey, is now out in paperback. Adm. Fluckey commanded the submarine U.S.S. Barb in the Pacific in World War II. His submarine got in theater relatively late in the war, so he wasn't one of the highest-scoring skippers, but he was one of the most colorful. I think his crew was the only one to paint a train as a victory mark on the sub. Barb destroyed a bridge as the train was going over it.

As far as I know, Adm. Fluckey is still alive and in his early nineties now. This book has been in "development hell" for Stephen Spielberg at Dreamworks pictures for a number of years now. I hope it eventually makes its way out.

Amazon.com: Books: Thunder Below!: The Uss Barb Revolutionizes Submarine Warfare in World War II

Special Edition Saving Private Ryan DVD
In separate Sielberg news, I hear that there will be a special edition "60th anniversary of D-DAY" DVD of "Saving Private Ryan" released any day now. I loved the movie, but I thought they kind of "cheaped out" in using P-51s as the "tank buster" aircraft. This was out of character with the over-all attention to detail and historical accuracy. It would have been better to use P-47s or British Typhoons. I understand that flying P-51s are common, but P-47s and Typhoons are hard to come by. Nevertheless, CGI Ju-87 Stukas were used convincingly in Enemy at the Gates which was made shortly after Saving Private Ryan and at a much lower budget., so it seems to me that adding some CGI P-47s would be in keeping with preserving the legacy of the movie.

Bush at the War College

So, last night was the big speech by George W. at the War College. His goal was to convince the country that he has a plan for making things better in Iraq. I'm waiting. He has this way of making things worse in Arab-American relations. He once again said that America was representing the "civilized world". He refuses to understand that there is an implication in the Arab world that he is implicitly calling them uncivilized. This is the same President who has rejected the Geneva Convention for treatment of non-uniformed prisoners, allowed same prisoners to be strung up naked with electrodes attached to them . . . . He has used the word "crusade" repeatedly, and he appears to be deliberately ignorant of the connotations of that word in the Arab community.

He says that the people fighting Americans in Iraq are Terrorists. I think this both blurs and cheapens the word "terrorist". You might think that the insurgents in Iraq are misguided and counterproductive, but I don't think they are terrorists. The vast majority are fighting on their own land. They are traditional guerilla fighters. No doubt that if the United States were invaded countless Americans would resort to guerilla tactics as well, just as we did in 1776.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. This is what you get when you let a "C" student be president.

Here's my heartfelt prayer: Please God, don't let this man have another 4 years.

The New York Times > Opinion > The President's Speech
Compare cost of living in Different US Cities

The Salary Calculator: relocation, cost of living, real estate

Monday, May 24, 2004

On the Passing of Tony Randall and Hello Down There

It was with a tinge of sadness that I read about the passing of Tony Randall. My favorite Tony Randall movie is 1969's Hello Down There, in which Tony played the patriarch of a family living under the ocean. Naturally, their teenaged son has a rock band. This one was called "Harold and the Hang-ups." The family had a pet dolphin that cam up through a hole in the living room floor. The band's songs included the memorable "Hey Little Goldfish". Just try keeping this song out of your head.

I wondered if this movie was available on home video - apparently not through conventional sources. I found the link below to a site called The video Beat. This site claims to have the DVD available for $29.00.

Among the notables for this movie is that it was among the first film appearances for young Richard Dreyfus.

1950s & 1960s Rock n Roll Movies and TV Shows on VHS & DVD! The VIDEO BEAT! - WELCOME!
Other Hybrid Approaches

This is a 2 year-old article from a publication called the Business Standard that discusses hybrid vehicle approaches by Japanese manufacturers. It's a good thing for GM that it's Japanese affiliate, Suzuki has been working on what looks to be a fairly cost-efficient front wheel/rear wheel approach.

Alternatives to fossil fuels- Business Standard Motoring
Early Review of the 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid

From TheCarConnection.com

The Car Connection [ The Web's Automotive Authority ]

Friday, May 21, 2004

Buick LeSabre - the best car deal?

I can recall going to the last auto show, where all the hot new cars were on display. The car that surprised me most was the "ancient" Buick LeSabre. This is a big car that will truly seat six adults. It is luxurious, with a high quality fit and finish. It has a powerful 205 horsepower engine in the base model, and it is priced similarly to midsized cars with similar equipment. It also has similar fuel economy at 20/29 MPG. You can add to this excellent reliability, with defect rates that match the top import brands.

I am writing this because now GM is offering a $5000 rebate on the LeSabre.

I priced on edunds.com a LeSabre with lots of options including heated leather seats, upgraded wheels/tires and XM radio. The MSRP was $31,220. Edmunds' TMV price was $23,919. With our GM Friends & Family discount, we should be able to do better than that.

The Detroit News cars.com: Buick LeSabre Summary

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Stupid is as stupid does

Here's a site with pictures of people putting a hand on the nose of a great white shark.

White Shark Diving Ecoventures Shark Cage Diving

Friday, May 14, 2004

Finally some new good stuff from Area 51

This is from a press release put out by a group called "Greater Things".

WASHINGTON, DC (PRWEB) April 22, 2004 -- Dan Burisch, a Ph.D. microbiologist presently in lock-down in Area 51 related black ops, who has expressed willingness to testify publicly, is one step closer to getting immunity and the Congressional hearing he seeks. Harry Dschaak and Sterling Allan, who met with Dr. Burisch on April 5 via an insider-invited breach of his lock-down status, traveled by car across the country to Washington D.C. and presented his case to several members of Congress two weeks later on April 19, 2004.

It goes on and says that Dr. Burisch was working on secret germ warfare projects at Area 51 and was working in conjunction with live aliens. Yada Yada Yada - secret treaty - real New World Order stuff.

Is it true? How would I know?

PRESS RELEASE: Congressional Hearing Requested for Area 51 Microbiologist: "Dan Burisch"
Which Cicada Are You?The 17 year cicadas are supposed to come out about now. I didn't realize that it had been that long since John Secada had a hit, but I knew it was close.

Anyway, I took the "Which Cicada Are you?" test, and found out that I am infact, an Iron Chef Cicada.

Which Cicada Are You?

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Toyota profit up 55% to $10 Billion

Toyota is a lot more profitable than GM, Ford and DaimlerChrysler combined.
Once you get behind in the car business, it's hard to catch up. Toyota, for example, can put a lot more money into engineering new models and modernizing plants. That being said, you can come from behind under the right circumstances. When I came to UAW Legal Services in 1998, the big talk was whether or not Ford would take over Nissan. At that time, Nissan was struggling on the brink of bankruptcy, and Ford was doing well thanks to SUV and truck sales. Ford declined to take over Nissan due to concerns over unfunded pension liability. Instead, Renault became the white knight. Nissan got some money to finish its product development, and within a couple model years Nissan revamped its entire line of cars and trucks and became a profit machine. Now, back to Ford, here we are going into 2005, and most of the Ford models are basically the same as in 1999, Ford struggles to break even on a quarterly level. Oh well.

The New York Times > Business > World Business > Toyota Yearly Profit Up 55% on Sales and Cost-Cutting

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

PT Cruiser Turbo gets 15.5 MPG in Pop Mech longterm test

I kind of like the PT Cruiser design, but one thing has always struck me in the auto magazine tests, the poor real-world gas mileage. Owners of this Neon-derived car report gas mileage in the 18 MPG range for the original 150 HP version. (Neons should get 25-35.) Popular Mechanics reports in their longterm tests that the turbocharged version got 15.5 mpg. This is Dodge Durango territory! The same issue reports the Toyota Sienna AWD (all wheel drive) at almost 19 mpg overall.

This reminds me of the Dodge Stratus that I had as a rental car. I liked it until I checked the fuel economy at my first gas stop. 18 mpg for 1/2 highway 1/2 city driving. Hmmm.

Long-Term Test Cars Update: April 2004

Monday, May 10, 2004

Philippines - poverty fueled by out-of-control population growth

I stumbled upon this statistic. The population of the Philippines is now 5 times what it was in 1941 when Macarthur said he would return.

When the population grows that much in one life time, it is a really scary thought.

Consider this from a "globalization" perspective: If the cost of labor is determined by supply and demand - free markets, how can a country with high wages ever hope to maintain a standard of living.

I think a big problem with the outsourced economy can be traced back 40-50 years with the United State's failure to truly support global population control. We were dumping outrageous amounts of money into the cold war, the war in Southeast Asia, the space program, and many other projects, and the two that are the biggest long term threats, global overpopulation and (the related) degradation of the environment have gotten chicken feed.

The PHILIPPINES : population growth of the whole country

Friday, May 07, 2004

Richard Kiel's secret Obsession
We all know actor Richard Kiel from his TV and movie roles, especially "Jaws" in the James Bond movies. Apparently he has a secret obsession. Well, it's not really secret, and it's not an obsession. Anyway, he's trying to get a movie or miniseries made about Cassius Clay. Except he's not talking about Muhammad Ali, he's talking about the man Muhammad Ali was named for, a white Kentucky abolitionist who was a contemporary of Abraham Lincoln.

His website on the subject taught me a lot that I didn't know.

Cassius Clay...Madman or Prophet?

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Idol Latoya London's bar band

Is this American Idol frontrunner, Latoya London's bar band?

SF Bokking (All Star Jukebox)

With 4 ladies as the only remaining contestants, I think it handcaps as follows


With all the Huff over John Steven's charmed life, I think at this point, with the exception of Jennifer Hudson (who should have Jasmine's spot), the voters have kept the best singers on the show.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Michael Eisner blocks release of Michael Moore's Anti-Bush Documentary

Another reason that Eisner has got to go.

Disney blocks release of anti-Bush film - 2004-05-05 - Los Angeles Business from bizjournals
What could have been, the Synergy 2010

Time travel back to January 1, 1996, Ford unveiled the Synergy 2010. A concept car the size of a Ford Taurus that weighed 2200 lbs and promised fuel economy triple the current standard. It used aluminum construction and a hybrid powertrain. Ford has been the leader in bloat since then. The new F150 is up to 800 lbs heavier than the old F150. (Runner up goes to Chrysler for the Jeep Liberty which is about 800 lbs heavier than the old Jeep Cherokee.)

Ford unveils Synergy 2010 concept: "The car weighs in at 2,200 lbs. (1,000kg) -- about a third lighter and 40% more aerodynamic than today's sleekest Ford, the Taurus. An all-aluminum unibody construction is the primary contributor to weight savings -- about 400 lbs. (180 kg)"
Average US Car now weighs 4000 lbs.

What we've been suspecting is true. Our light vehicles have become porkers. The average US car (incl. light trucks, minivans & SUVs) weighs more than 4000 lbs. This is about 1,000 lbs more than a mid 90's midsize car, and about 700 lbs more than a midsized car of today. This shows the impact of SUVs on the market. I find the "bigger is safer" reasoning to be circular. It's kind of like an arms race. "My neighbor got a Suburban, so I have to get a Hummer . . . "

The New York Times > Business > Average U.S. Car Is Tipping Scales at 4,000 Pounds