Sunday, September 30, 2012

Mazda Miata in Looper

Just saw Looper in the theater.  It was okay.  Better to wait for it to come out on video.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a fine actor.  And Bruce Willis, at 57, is still a badass.

Gordon-Levitt lives in a dystopian future.  His ride is a 1989 Mazda Miata.

Likability in politics

The first Romney-Obama debate is this Wednesday.  Here is a memorable debate moment from 2008.  It looks like "likability" may prove decisive once again.

Pur Sang Bugatti replica

What an engine!

Via Motoring con Brio.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Lincoln LS ad

When I was ready to get my first new car in 2001, I seriously looked into the Lincoln LS V6 (it came with a manual, the V8 only came with the automatic).  Based on my brief test drive on Highway 24, it was actually kind of fun.  But at 26, I was just not ready to buy a Lincoln.

Hand pulled noodles

Just had a big steaming bowl of beef noodle soup from Ark in Alameda.  So good.  The peanut and cucumber salad appetizer was tasty too.  My late grandmother would have loved it.

Losing the SPAM war

I turned off the Captcha function this week in order to make it easier for you, my dear readers, to post comments.  But now, I am flooded with spam comments advertising everything from Filipino mud flaps to Australian light-duty truck dealerships.  So I am turning the function back on.  I am sorry.

For those of you with blogs, what is the most effective way of blocking spam comments (while at the same time making your reader experience relatively drama-free)?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Prop 34, ending the death penalty in California

Well, debating the morality of killing a killer hasn't worked.  Neither has the fact that some of those executed might be too young, too mentally challenged, or too innocent.  So let's just argue it's a waste of taxpayer money.  M'kay?

Right now, 42% of Californians want to abolish the death penalty.  45% want to keep it.  13% are undecided.

Here's an informative map of which countries still allow the death penalty.


H/t, again, to Alan.

V10 Lambo with a beer can

Skip to 5:25 for the good stuff.  H/t to Alan.

No, We Can't Romney ad

Though it's very likely that Obama will win, he has lost a lot of enthusiasm from the youth vote this time around.  May be problematic.

Past F1 champions from the Western Hemisphere

With Perez going to McLaren, let's look at past world champions from North and South America:

1997: Jacques Villeneuve
1988, 1990, 1991: Senna
1981, 1983, 1987: Piquet
1978: Mario Andretti
1972, 1974: Fittipaldi
1961: Phil Hill

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Presidential election starts today!

Obama won in 2008 in large part due to research of arcane election rules and his Get Out the Vote (GOTV) efforts.  Our 50 states have 50 different sets of rules on elections.  The state of Iowa has early voting and it starts today.

Romney's Iowa blog has not been updated in NINE days.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Melee in Spain

This is what happens when the youth (16-24 year old) unemployment rate is 53%.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The cost of owning a Phaeton

Well, we're quickly approaching my first year anniversary with my Phaeton.  I'll be doing a more comprehensive post for Hooniverse in early November.  But here are a few thoughts and an itemization.

First, buying used is great.  Mine sold new for about $80,000, including tax and registration.  I paid $23,000 (plus $2,146 sales/use tax) for a model with just 37,000 pampered miles on it.  My liability insurance premium increased by less than $20 a year when I switched from the 2004 Acura TSX to the 2005 Phaeton.  Annual registration costs are also reasonable.  I just have to pay the California DMV $214 this year.

The cost of fuel, on the other hand, has been breathtaking.  I like to drive my cars until the low fuel light is on, and beyond, so there is almost nothing in the 90 liter (23.66 gallon) fuel tank when I get to the petrol station.  When prices almost reached $5 a gallon earlier this year, I was paying more than $100 to fill my tank.  Problem is, many gas pumps will only let you use a credit card to buy $75 worth of fuel at a time (to prevent credit card theft/fraud).

I get about 14-16 miles per gallon in city driving, and low 20s on the highway.

Here are my other costs.  Note that I've put about 13,000 miles on the car since last November.

November: Windshield repair (Safelite) $155.32 (this was overpriced, but I was in Vegas and I was in a bind; I got $50 reimbursed through my AAA Platinum membership)

November: Wheel alignment (national wheel and tire chain) $0 (a tie rod was frozen so unable to align front wheels)

December: Tie rod unfrozen and four wheel alignment (local independent shop) $209.99

January: Oil change (local independent shop) $137.69

April: Four tires (Tirerack) $797.06

April: Mount and balance four tires (local independent shop) $134.00

August: 50,000 mile service, including oil change and brake fluid change (local independent shop) $254.49

Grand total: $1,688.55

China's first aircraft carrier

Monday, September 24, 2012

WTCC in America, the analysis

The next new country?

The New York Times had a fascinating article about possible new states.  The article is here.  It postulates the following:

  1. Azawad declares independence from Mali.
  2. Belgium splits in two between French and Flemish speakers.
  3. DR Congo splinters into little pieces.
  4. Somalia divided into three.
  5. Syria splits into Alawite state, Druse state, Damascus, and Aleppo.
  6. All of the Arabian peninsula becomes one.
  7. Kurdistan!
  8. Azerbaijan takes northern Iran.
  9. Pashtunistan and Baluchistan.
  10. China takes Russian Far East.
  11. One Korea.

Audi RS5 review

This is the exact RS5 I saw yesterday.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

WTCC Sonoma 2012 photos

Before this weekend, I knew nothing about the WTCC (World Touring Car Championship) series.  So if any of you (Europeans) can shed light on this, please share!

For the first time, WTCC came to America.  Specifically, Sonoma.

Here's a shocker: The Chevy Cruze is kicking ass.  They are the equivalent of F1's Red Bull in the last few years.  For financial reasons, Chevy is leaving the sport at the end of this season.  Apparently, winning on Sundays did not translate to sales on Mondays in Europa.

There was a concurrent Maserati Granturismo spec series this weekend.  Here is the Safety Car.

The ticket prices were very reasonable ($26 for admission, free parking, $10 for paddock pass).  Everyone was friendly and it was not too crowded.

These WTCC cars are pretty cool.  I was hoping to see the Lada, but I don't think it made it to America.

Here is Yvan Muller, who is a three-time champion and current points co-leader.  My companion Bob was fearless and struck up a nice conversation with the guy.  Did I mention everyone-- the crew, the drivers, the grid girls-- were all very friendly?

There was a CHP display at the track so I took these two shots of the Crown Vic's interior.

These Audis can be driven on the track on off-days.  I want the RS5 so badly.

There was also a little known series called USTCC.  It's very grassroots and there were quite a few interesting cars.

A lot of the WTCC equipment came in these shipping containers.  According to the bill of lading sticker on the exterior, this is headed to Suzuka, the next race.

This fun group came from Hungary.  Their guy finished 3rd and 2nd in the two races today.  They were happy.  Chevy won both races.

This was the raddest car in the parking lot.

Wrecked BMW.

This Synchro van was parked next to the Popemobile.

I ended the day by dropping off Bob.  He showed me his prized possession, this Chevelle.  He's a Chevy guy.

Pat Farmer crossed the Darien Gap last year

In his quest to run from the North Pole to the South Pole, Farmer crossed the Gap on foot in four days, with a 17-man armed escort.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Cool Subaru commercial

Sarah Silverman on state voter identification laws

In order to combat voter fraud, many states have instituted draconian measures.  At what point does it become voter suppression?

This is a funny piece on a serious topic (NSFW language):

Jill Biden makes inadvertently funny remarks

Friday, September 21, 2012

WTCC in Sonoma this weekend

Friend has an extra ticket.  Score!

Citroen in Scarface

Caution: Contains graphic violence.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Dog dancing merengue

Now, you know I never post videos of cute animals.  But this, you must see!

Cadillac XTS review

It might be the vibrating seat or the small trunk lid, but this car reminds me of a Citroen C6.

Romney, that awkward uncle

With the economy anemic and little enthusiasm from the youth vote, Obama is very beat-able this year.  But we've got this guy running against him.  Obama is so lucky.

Guatemala to Panama by bus

With a truce in effect between the two largest gangs in El Salvador and peace talks with FARC in Colombia, this might be the window I have been waiting for to travel through Central America by bus.

I will pick up where I left off on my last trip, in Guatemala City.  I will do a quick trip to see the Mayan ruins of Tikal and leave Guatemala City on a Tica bus.  Here is the itinerary from Tica's website.  The trip one-way will cost $128, excluding hotels.

Guatemala to El Salvador: Leaves at 5:30 a.m., arrives in San Salvador at 10:30-11:30 a.m.  Stay overnight in hotel.

El Salvador to Nicaragua: Leaves at 5 a.m. and arrives in Managua at 5 p.m.  Stay overnight in hotel.

Nicaragua to Costa Rica: Leaves at 6 a.m. and arrives in San Jose at  4p.m.

Costa Rica to Panama: Leaves at 11 p.m. (same day) and arrives in Panama City at 4 p.m. the following day.

I wonder if long waits at border crossings are included.

Now, I have to research the Darien Gap in Panama...

Tica fares.

Photo source.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Texas governor driving a Ferrari

Are you ready for the USGP?

H/t to Motoring Con Brio.

Monday, September 17, 2012

1988 BMW M6 E24 for sale

This is what a 24 year old BMW M6 with less than 5,000 miles looks like.

Craigslist ad here.

H/t to Edvin!

Audi dealership in China calls for death of Japanese

This is beyond disturbing.


BMW 3 series history

Sunday, September 16, 2012

China-Japan island dispute comes to San Francisco

Today, in Chinatown.

Via sfgate.

Taliban destroy 6 NATO Harrier jump jets

15 armed insurgents in U.S. Army camouflage uniforms attacked a British airfield, killed two American marines, and destroyed six jets.

Elsewhere, an Afghan policeman killed four American service members at a checkpoint where they were working together.  So far this year, over 50 NATO troops have been killed by green-on-blue attacks.

Saturn's dent-resistance body panels

Viva Chile brought this up in response to the BMW Z1 post.

Beauty Is Embarrassing trailer

We saw this last night and the subject of the film, Wayne White, answered some questions for the audience at the end.  He is a very smart, creative, talented, honest, inspirational, and fun guy.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Anti-Japanese sentiment in China at all-time high

This is a display of toothpaste at a Chinese supermarket.  Holy shit.

More pictures here.


Senkaku Islands row

Japan, China, and Taiwan are all claiming rights to these tiny islands.  Japan has control of them but the emerging Chinese giant wants to flex its muscles (and settle some scores from World War II).  China sent six ships to patrol the islands this week.

Tensions in China are rising.  Japanese citizens have been roughed up; Japanese stores looted; and Japanese cars destroyed.  Thousands protested in over a dozen cities.

Friday, September 14, 2012

My car

Can I just say that I love my car?  Driving it is pure bliss, with a dash of anxiety.

Photo by Edvin.

Jackass riot control

I wonder if our embassies have these rubber ball gizmos?

SARTRE Volvo road train

Good idea?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

BMW E34 M5 Dinan stroker at Sears Point

This is rchen's baby, which sold within ten hours of being featured on BAT.

Sears Point was where I was supposed to ride in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car.

Tsai Chin in two Bond films

As Ling in You Only Live Twice 

As Madame Wu in Casino Royale

Tiger Tornado

Via AutoNeuroticFixation.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Monday, September 10, 2012

9/11 Anniversary Reaction: Relief

I asked my friend Steve, a 9/11 survivor, how he felt about the 11th anniversary.  His response: Relief.

Mongol Rally video

Two Czechs

Via Flavio Gomes.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Great day today

1. Am at my weight, circa 1995(!).
2. Great carspotting day: a Triumph, a Phaeton, a Mercedes-Porsche 500E, and a Prius with a Romney sticker.

3. Got a book about the Pan-American Highway for a dollar at the dollar store.  This is a picture from the book, showing a stretch in Peru.

4. Watched The Queen of Versailles.

5. Had a great Yemeni meal.
6. Waiter felt bad for making us wait so the soup was on the house.
7. Drove over the Golden Gate Bridge on an absolutely clear day.

Picking up Obama

This, and raising a couple of billion dollars, will get you re-elected.