Friday, August 29, 2014

Lancia Y10

This is a car I never knew existed. I saw it on Ripituc's Instagram feed.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Citroen Visa aircraft carrier ad

Where journalist have been killed in the last decade

Sobering. Source.

H/t Peter.

Saab and Volvo owners

Two quick stories.

1. I was in the Park & Call parking lot at Oakland airport yesterday, waiting for my wife's flight. There was a clean Volvo V70R AWD parked across from me. I walked up and complimented the owner. He has owned a number of Volvos and it took him months of online searching to find the V70R. He bought it from a guy in Sonoma, not far from where I bought my V50. When I told him about my V50, he was even able to count off the model years when the manual transmission was available!

2. Then, I read Zack's post about a Swedish car meet in Massachusetts. He brought his Saab and two of the car's prior owners came up and chatted with him!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

ISIS: Criminals/psychopaths in a lawless land

I do not have the stomach to watch the beheading videos. But tonight, the CBS Evening News aired the following clip (which does not show the beheading). However, at around 1:20, they show ISIS driving past cars and just randomly shooting up the occupants inside. For some reason, this vile act bothered me more than any of the other atrocities I've read about. These terrorists are essentially a bunch of thugs and psychopaths acting out in a land with no police force to arrest them and no elders to castigate them.

The truth about Jags and Volvos

From the movie Crazy People. Has anyone seen the movie? I had never heard of it. It's not available on Netflix.

Nascar at Sonoma

Eric Rood at Hooniverse wrote an excellent piece on his Nascar experience. Even this non-fan found it enlightening and entertaining. Read it here.

He also wrote a piece on Calistoga's dirt track here.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Vettel drives Sochi

I guess the race is really happening in October.

The World's End

Saw this last night. Not Oscar-worthy, but sort of amusing. Simon Pegg plays a guy who can't get over his 1990 self. He drives a Ford Granada called The Beast and there are Vauxhall Amperas (Chevy Volts) everywhere in the background. The song that stuck out in the movie was this Soup Dragons song.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Aventador in Carmel

This is not a video of me per se, but I drove that silver one at the end of the convoy. Feel free to skip to 1:40.

LeMay Museum next weekend

We're celebrating the end of the summer with a visit of friends in Seattle. I'm excited to finally check out the LeMay, supposedly the largest car collection in North America.

I can fit anything in my wagon!

I needed a bigger shelf for my home office so it was Ikea I went. The assembled Fjalkinge shelf measures 76"x46", and I wasn't sure whether the parts would fit in the wagon. Boy, was I wrong.

Next challenge, please.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Mustang Ute

Via Bolly Blog.

Me driving an Evoque

You'll have to take my word for it. Taken in Carmel last weekend.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Librarian/Car Nut Interview

Slirt is a librarian by day, car nut by night. He was kind enough to answer some questions I've always had about public libraries. I've learned a lot, and I think you will too!

1. Tell us about your background as a librarian.
I did not grow up as a big reader, nor go the public library very often as a child, only on school trips; in fact, i do not recall my parents (both college-educated) ever taking me. I fell into it as a profession; it started with a college work-study job, then 12 years as a para-professional (f/t library employee w/o the Masters degree) for a large urban library in the Pacific Northwest, then graduate school to become a Librarian, and finally to a VERY large system in the greater L.A. area for the last six years as an Adult Services Librarian. My liberal arts B.A. in American Studies was the perfect background, although it was completely unintentional.

2. How has technology-- cheap and easily accessible books via Amazon and Kindle, for example-- affected libraries?
Libraries have long been on the forefront of technical evolution: standardized MARC (MAchine Readable Code) records with punchcards & mainframes in the '60s, OPACs (Online Public Access Catalog) replacing physical card catalogs in the '70s, CD-ROMs in the '80s, and web adoption in the '90s... heck, I've had work email since 1994. 

Libraries have been offering ebooks for a decade or more now, but the problems with ebooks right now is the lack of industry standards (different file types for different devices/OS, DRM, etc) and the battle between authors, publishers, and retailers. Libraries aren't really in that mix, and we'll just have to roll with the evolution as it happens. I'm sure we've lost some users to the ease & convenience of online ebooks, but since we offer them for free, including Kindle titles, I'm sure we've also gained some new users as well. And now some libraries are starting to circulate e-readers (hardware) too, so libraries are adapting as we always have (see above). My system's ebook downloads are now more numerous than our busiest location's physical circulation, so it's obviously in demand and been embraced by our users. Besides ebooks, my system also offers downloadable music, digital magazines, and even streaming movies - all for free.

3. What is the state of the Dewey Decimal System? Are there strong competitors? Is there a move by librarians to improve or replace the system?
The Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) system is 138 years old and still in very wide use by English-language libraries the world over for cataloging non-fiction works (fiction is most often just alphabetical by author name). It is limited by its 000-999 number range, and also somewhat by Mr. Dewey's 19th-Century worldview, but has been updated many times (current edition is 23rd). The Library of Congress developed its own classification system (LC), from what I know mostly to address DDC's shortcomings, and LC has been adopted by most academic libraries in the United States, while public libraries have retained DDC. A few public libraries have toyed with the "bookstore" model and tried to arrange their collection more like a retail environment, with mixed results. I know DDC quite well and am quite comfortable using it and think it still meets the needs of most public libraries. Viva Melvil.

4. Besides loud talkers, what are some other pet peeves of librarians?
Leading with a stereotype now? Please realize there are many different types of libraries, and the 21st-Century public library is not a quiet space; academic libraries, on the other hand, still have a necessary expectation of quiet, but rarely have i ever shushed anyone, so one pet peeve of mine is library stereotypes! Another pet peeve is people "forgetting" their library card; I don't care that they "know the number," everything is much easier with a physical card since we have scanners, so keystrokes and related errors are avoidable. Also, like gas stations, banks, and now grocery stores before us, libraries are moving to a more self-service model, thanks to technology and budget cuts ("doing more with less"), but some people are very resistant and refuse to learn how to do things themselves, insisting upon help repeatedly; I don't mind that if they're elderly or impaired, but the rest of the able-bodied adults need to get with the program! End /rant.

5. Many libraries have homeless people using the restrooms. I imagine most librarians are sympathetic, but how do they combat this issue?
Public libraries have an open-to-all policy across the board, so what it comes down to is behavior, and as long as an individual is not violating any behavioral policy, then all are treated equally.  It is not an issue to "combat," it is an issue that needs clear and realistic policies written and enforced. Library restrooms are for all for their intended use, not for loitering, clothes washing, or bathing (behaviors), so most libraries (should) have written policies to address this.

6. When I was a kid in the 1980s, public libraries were open ten hours a day, six days a week. A library now is lucky to be open 20 or 30 hours a week due to budget cuts. Will this be the new normal?
Funding is and always will be an issue; public libraries are mostly tax-supported (usually property tax) and budgets are often at the discretion of city managers and the like ("politics"); it varies WIDELY across the country, so richer communities and those with strong library support offer more open hours than poorer areas and those with less civic and academic engagement. It would be a pretty poor, and probably rural, area to only offer "20 or 30 hours a week," and I surmise that the average urban public library is currently open 50-70 hours per week, which may vary by location even within the same system. Funding is not always even across the board, and may come from multiple sources as well, so there are lots of variables in play. But in the past when a building was closed, there was no access to materials or information; in this digital age, many of our services are available online 24/7, so access has actually increased despite brick-and-mortar hours decreasing.

7. If a patron carelessly sticks a book in the shelves out of order, how does it get re-shelved properly? Does a librarian manually go through the entire collection regularly to pick out mis-shelved books?
It could stay mis-shelved for quite awhile, or hopefully an observant page (shelver) will notice it out of place when shelving nearby or when they are shelf-reading, a regular task to ensure shelving accuracy and designed to catch such errors. Or, when it is requested and cannot be found, it gets set to Missing status, and then a Missing Report is run periodically and the items searched for. Best case scenario is a library that has its collection RFID tagged and then the shelf is just scanned and the scanner will find the misplaced items: technology to the rescue yet again!

8. How can we, as the public, best support our local libraries?
Use them! And let your local elected officials, who control the pur$e strings, know that libraries are important to families, individuals, and the community. And then VOTE for funding when on the ballot. And libraries love volunteers, too.

9. Why do you love books?
I'm a TV guy, actually. Sure i read and love a good book, but I didn't become a librarian because I "love books." I love information, regardless of the format. I like that libraries provide free access to media that I do not want or need to own (fiction, DVDs) and/or cannot afford (e.g. coffee table books, LOTS of music CDs). I like the library as a "third place," away from home or work (for non-library employees), which are social, community meeting centers with lots and lots of free programming events (workshops, authors, presentations, arts & crafts, etc.); a public library is an invaluable resource for any family with young kids who devour books & DVDs, not to mention storytimes which are a HUGE draw for the preschool crowd.

10. You are a car guy. Tell us about your cars.
Grew up driving mom's 1969 Rambler American (2-door post; started "borrowing" it & cruising the neighborhood at 14) and dad's 1970 Ford Galaxie 500 Country Sedan (wagon sans wood) with a 390ci V8; also briefly had a sister's 1978 Toyota Corona, on which I learned to drive a manual.

Cars I've bought:
1975 Honda Civic sedan (no hatch, no CVCC), 1985-87
1981 Mazda GLC Sport (threw a rod), 1987-1990
1984 Honda Elite 125 scooter, 1993-96
1988 VW Fox wagon (rear-ended & totaled by hotel van; I was not present), 4-months 1995
1985 VW GTI (bought @ 197K miles, drove til 265K, then gifted a friend), 1995-2003
1997 Audi A4 1.8t (great car!), 2003-12
1985 VW Cabriolet (my L.A. sightseeing car, wasn't gonna live here w/o a 'vert), 2009-present
2007 BMW Z4 Coupe 3.0si, 2012-present

ALL MANUALS (except the scooter).

11. Why do you love cars?
As a small child in the early '70s my earliest car memories are liking the Jaguar E-Type, MGB-GT, Opel GT and Ford Capri. So I'd say I like cars for their aesthetics, exterior design, first and foremost. While my dad was not a "gearhead" per se, he liked cars and did note yearly model changes which we discussed, and he had a friend who bought a very early 240Z, which I thought supercool. I also have 4 older siblings, and I remember going with my dad and oldest sister when buying a '70 Beetle for her to go to college; my brother had a couple Toyotas, including a sexy brown '75 Celica, a Fiat 124 Spider, and a '68 VW Type 3 Squareback (he's now got a Tesla Model S); another sister had a first-year ('75) VW Rabbit and later a '63 Beetle, and the third sister had an '87 VW Fox wagon, so we've all had VWs at some point. Getting my license at 16 (I went ON my birthday), driving meant FREEDOM, of course; and while not exactly an adrenaline junkie, I do like speed, and enjoy spirited driving. Now I appreciate cars not only for their exteriors, but overall design and engineering, and performance (to a lesser degree); I am fascinated with the auto industry and all its complexities. I also love survivors; I don't really care what it is as long as it's old and original, although I must qualify that and say my interests are really '60s cars and newer; before that it's more academic and not so emotional for me. And the collector car world is also fascinating; if I ever won the Powerball or had a LOT of money, I'd have a serious car problem/collection.

Thanks again, Slirt!

Matthew McConaughey shilling for Lincolns

This is why I could never be in marketing. Just imagine these people saying the following with a straight face:

MM: Authenticity is a word that kept coming up in our initial meetings. It was clear from the start they appreciated me as an individual first and foremost, and I would be able to be myself in this collaboration.

Lincoln Executive: Matthew is a natural fit with Lincoln and where we are going as a brand. The transformation of Lincoln is well underway. With the MKC coming to market in a hot, competitive segment, now is the perfect opportunity to share to a wider audience what our brand offers. Matthew is the ideal personality to help us tell this story, and it is only the beginning of what we trust will be a fantastic relationship.

Marshall Islands stick chart

In the West, pen and paper were used to show distances and geographic features. In other words, we used maps. But the Marshall Islanders used something very different.

In the stick chart above, the shells represent islands. The curved sticks represent swells and counter-swells caused by the islands. These markers helped the seafarers navigate from island to island. These charts were not brought onto the boats. Rather, they were kept on land and the navigators memorized the charts before setting off.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Carspotting: Old Ferrari edition

These photos are from my friend, R, who just learned of my obsession with cars.

Exile Destinations, Part 13

(Preface for new readers: I look at leaders who fled their countries from 1975 to the present, ten countries at a time. As you can see, France and Brazil are popular places for deposed leaders.)

121. Nicaragua-- Paraguay, Guatemala
122. Niger-- 0
123. Nigeria-- 0
124. Norway-- 0
125. Oman-- 0
126. Pakistan-- UAE, Saudi Arabia
127. Palau-- 0
128. Panama-- 0
129. Papua New Guinea-- 0
130. Paraguay-- Brazil, Brazil

Tally thus far:
6x = France

4x = Brazil

3x = Panama, U.K., U.S., U.S.S.R./Russia

2x = Ivory Coast, Morocco, Nigeria, Portugal, Senegal, South Africa, Venezuela

1x = Australia, Austria, Belarus, Benin, Costa Rica, Egypt, Guatemala, Italy, Libya, Mexico, Netherlands, Pataguay, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Somalia, Spain, Switzerland, Togo, Tunisia, UAE, Uganda, Uruguay, unknown, unknown, unknown

Monday, August 18, 2014

My Friday debrief is up on Hooniverse...

Here it is.

Emirates National Auto Museum

Abu Dhabi is a no-go. Overall, it's just not an appealing place to go. This oddball car collection is about the only thing worth visiting there. Bizarre.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Socotra Island (Yemen)

Hat tip to Sanchez, who introduced us to this little-known island.

The slow, slow death of Lincoln

Between the Land Rover and Jaguar tents in Carmel was the Lincoln tent. I felt sorry for the reps working there. Who buys these cars? In my 500 miles driving back and forth between home and Monterey on Friday and Saturday, I saw just one new Lincoln on the road, and it had this funky sunroof open.

If this sunroof were on a new Citroen, we would say: How cool! On a new Lincoln, we say: That's dumb!

James May's Cars of the People, Episode 1

This is definitely worth an hour of your Sunday. James May talks about the VW Beetle, Trabant, Fiat 500, Fiat 124, and Lada. It's beautifully shot, written with wit, and well researched. A lot of Cold War commentary is included.

Being in Monterey over the last couple of days literally made me sick tired of cars. Hard to believe, but it is possible. But this morning, I watched this and I have fallen back in love with cars again.

Hat tip to Motoring Con Brio, aka mtc.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Zagatos at Concorso Italiano

Aston Martin V12 Zagato America. 101 made, only two in the US (under the Show & Display rule). And yes, that's a Youabian Puma in the background. 

 Ferrari 575 GTZ. 1 of 6. Note the double bubble roof.

 Lamborghini 5-95 GTZ. 1 of 2. There's a Gallardo underneath the skin.

 Aston Martin DB7 Zagato. 100 made.

 Alfa Romeo TZ3 Stradale. It's a Viper, so it can be easily registered here. 9 made.

 Aston Martin DB AR-1. 100 built for the American market. AR stands for "American Roadster".

 Ferrari 550 Barchetta Zagato. 1 of 3.

Aston Martin DB9 Spyder Centennial Zagato. 1 of 2.

Friday, August 15, 2014


The first day of Monterey has been unreal. It has been so incredible, seeing Sir Jackie Stewart was not the coolest experience of the day. It was, in fact, driving this 700-horsepower Aventador. I'm going to try to do a write up tomorrow morning for Hooniverse before I head out to Concorso Italiano and, hopefully, test drive an Aston Martin Rapide.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Off to Monterey

Will be tweeting pictures Friday, Saturday, Sunday. In the meantime, these photos were taken by rchen on Thursday. The Local Motors Rally Fighter and Lamborghini Espada photos were taken in Carmel. The Porsche photo was taken at the Zentrum.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Abu Dhabi?

The big 4-0 is coming up, and my wife suggested an F1 race to celebrate. Abu Dhabi on November 23 is close to my birthday and it falls within Thanksgiving break. But is it do-able? Does it make sense?

The Persian Gulf has never appealed to me, travel-wise. Although the championship will almost definitely be determined at that race, Yas Marina has never been considered a "destination" track.

Tickets for the race are still available and are relatively reasonable cost-wise. So are hotels.

Flight options are interesting. SFO has direct flights to Dubai (Emirates). You then take a 90 minute bus from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. Coincidentally, Etihad will start non-stop flights to Abu Dhabi from SFO on November 18. (I didn't know what those Etihad logos at F1 races were until now.) The crew will be Etihad, but the planes will have Jet Airways livery. Jet Airways is an Indian carrier owned by Etihad. Airfare on Etihad is very reasonable, but what if there is a delay and flights do not start on the 18th?

Here's the drive from Abu Dhabi to Dubai. Has anyone been to the UAE?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Monday, August 11, 2014

Obama, Benghazi, and Robin Williams

Jesus, these right wingers will not give up!

Beautiful Pyongyang video

Thursday, August 07, 2014

The Yazidis of Iraq

I thought I was all out of outrage after 12 years of reading about people killing each other in the Middle East, but the plight of the Yazidis this week has left me shocked and angry. There are rumors that some of the Yazidis trapped up in the mountains are so desperate, they are throwing their children over cliffs so that they aren't slaughtered by ISIS.

VW Quantum promo ad

The cheese is strong with this one.

And this just in: 5 out of 5 VW salesmen prefer the Quantum over the BMW 528e!

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Monterey auto week

It's next week! And I am so excited. Everything is scheduled, except for a Bentley drive. Fingers crossed.

Citroen on Citroen

Again, via Flavio Gomes.

1939 Porsche Type 64, the proto-Porsche

Via Flavio Gomes. More info here.

This, by the way, is exactly how people react when they see me in my V50.

Man crush on Chris Pratt

I may have one.

Kim Jong-Un at the factory

Sunday, August 03, 2014

China and U.S. wooing Africa

Obama is having heads of state from approximately 50 African countries in Washington next week.

Invitations were sent to the following countries.
  • Angola
  • Algeria
  • Benin
  • Botswana
  • Burkina Faso
  • Burundi
  • Cameroon
  • Cabo Verde
  • Chad
  • Comoros
  • Cote d’Ivoire
  • Republic of the Congo (Brazzaville)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa)
  • Djibouti
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Ethiopia
  • Egypt
  • Gabon
  • Gambia
  • Ghana
  • Guinea
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Kenya
  • Lesotho
  • Liberia
  • Libya
  • Madagascar
  • Malawi
  • Mali
  • Mauritania
  • Mauritius
  • Morocco
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Niger
  • Nigeria
  • Rwanda
  • Sao Tome and Principe
  • Senegal
  • Seychelles
  • Sierra Leone
  • Somalia
  • South Africa
  • South Sudan
  • Swaziland
  • Tanzania
  • Togo
  • Tunisia
  • Uganda
  • Zambia
It will be interesting to see how many heads of state actually show up. The presidents of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone are not coming because of the Ebola outbreak. The presidents of Algeria and Zambia are not coming for personal health reasons. Leaders from four countries-- Sudan, Zimbabwe, Eritrea, and CAR-- were not invited.

The reason I am interested in who shows up is because the 2006 FOCAC summit in China had 35 African heads of state attend (I am still looking for the comprehensive list). It will be interesting to compare the guest lists.

What is this license plate?

Saw it today at a car show. Is it real?

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Nagorno-Karabakh documentary

Tensions have flared up again between Azerbaijan and this Armenian enclave. About a dozen Azeri soldiers were killed this week in skirmishes. This documentary is a decade old, but remains the best English-language piece on the region.

Tarlan, do you have any insight into what's happening now?

World made of orange rinds

Friday, August 01, 2014

My first The Truth About Cars post is up

A new chapter begins. It's about the GM ignition compensation scheme. The guy in charge of distributing the money was my mass torts professor in law school, so I thought I'd write something I knew a little bit about.

Here is the link.