Monday, December 27, 2021

Rio Tinto Mongolian copper mine feeds 6,000 people

That's a proper institutional dining facility! More on the mine here.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Afghanistan today

This is worth a watch during winter break. France24 interviewed female activists, opium growers, local officials, and many others to show what Taliban rule is like.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Getting into Lego

The boy is four and has a lot of fun with the larger Duplo toys. I had not thought about transitioning him to regular Lego yet because he's not old enough and I can't imagine stepping on a million loose pieces with my bare feet. But our neighbor bought him a camper van (for ages 5+) for Christmas and we had a great time building it together. He even slept with it last night.

I guess I should not be surprised that there are YouTubers who review and analyze Lego sets.

We will get more soon. This super complex and expensive Millennium Falcon is unbelievable. 

Aston Martin Lagonda ownership

I may get a chance to check out a Lagonda up close sometime next year. Until then, I found this beautiful piece that Hagerty put together. Enjoy and Merry Christmas.

Hedgehog getting an x-ray


Thursday, December 23, 2021

Where China would like military bases abroad

I read this recent Economist article about China making overtures with Equatorial Guinea about building a military base. The article mentioned a November 2021 Pentagon paper that listed the countries the US believes China is considering as possible military base venues. They are:

  • Cambodia
  • Myanmar
  • Thailand
  • Singapore
  • Indonesia
  • Pakistan
  • Sri Lanka
  • UAE
  • Kenya
  • Seychelles
  • Tanzania
  • Angola
  • Tajikistan
  • Namibia

The paper also discussed the only Chinese overseas base in Djibouti. It was opened in 2017 and houses Chinese marines. There is currently no pier so the Chinese depends on commercial piers. They are building a pier for the base, which will be able to dock aircraft carriers and submarines.

The world economy in one chart


Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Hitchhiking the Kolyma Highway

What a fantastic discovery. This brave Russian traveled and chronicled his journey from Magadan to Yakutsk. Thoughts:

  • The highway is much more civilized than what was shown in Long Way Round
  • So many abandoned Soviet 5-story apartment blocks in the middle of nowhere
  • Those safety containers for stranded motorists are cool
  • That last truck had so many windshield cracks

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Casino Royale movie review

We both agree this was the best Bond movie!

Dave's review: Casino Royale is the greatest James Bond movie ever made. A very bold statement I know, but let me back it up. 

First, it offers up a completely refreshing take on the series, essentially rebooting it by depicting Bond as a brand new "double o." Daniel Craig embodies this role perfectly, full of brash confidence and relentless devotion to the mission. He even makes mistakes, showing that he is not quite yet the polished secret agent you are introduced to way back in Dr. No

Second, the love story. Quite simply this was the best love story to date, yes, even better than OHMSS by virtue of the complexity of the relationship. Vesper sees through Bond like no one else, and their shared experiences lead to an entirely believable chemistry. There is no more poignant scene in maybe all Bond films than the shower scene when Bond comforts a traumatized Vesper after the stairway fight. She saves his life, he shows real concern for her, she nurses him back to health, he gives up the service for her. And that's not even brushing the powerful tragic ending, which helps to explain why Bond is the way he is going forward. 

Third, it keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time. There's the thrilling Madagascar chase scene, another great chase through the Miami airport, riveting poker hands, the first film by the way to really highlight Bond's prowess as a card player.  And the last act of the film completely shifts to a calm before the storm dynamic. Director Martin Campbell is in complete control of his craft.

And last but not least, the performances. Craig is a revelation as Bond, the best actor to ever embody the role. Eva Green is stunning as Vesper, delicately showing off all her different sides, and Mads Mikkelsen is downright sinister as Le Chiffre. The supporting cast is excellent as well. 

Dave's grade: A++

TT's review: What can I say? This is the perfect Bond film. It's so raw. Bond showed emotional vulnerability. Verper Lynd was complicated. And Mads Mikkelsen as the villain!

Daniel Craig saved the Bond franchise from obscurity. I mean, can you even imagine any of the past Bonds doing the Madagascar construction site foot chase scene?!

TT's grade: A+

Dave's reaction: It's very true that Craig may have saved the franchise. Audience's patience were wearing thin with Brosnan and the recent lackluster entries. 

TT's reaction: I'm glad we agree this is the best Bond film. I can't wait to read your thoughts on the other Craig films.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

December 2021 Milpitas Exotic Cars & Coffee

Today, we checked out another Cars & Coffee, this time in Milpitas (it's a few freeway exits south of the Tesla factory). We thought we would be late, but this Countach arrived late with us. At the long red light, we could literally see the engine get hotter and hotter (the air above it got wavier and wavier).

The vast majority of the cars there were Lamborghinis and McLarens. This Ferrari GT car really stood out.

Everyone, including me, was gawking at this thing. It's apparently a kit car called the Superlite SL-C.

I like it a lot!

There were also a ton of anonymous looking Porsches. This Speedster popped out.

Alas, that Chevy S10 was not the EV version. I get the sense that the same Rivian keeps popping up all over the Bay Area, It's four dudes who probably work for Rivian, showing it off. They floored it at a red light and it was very quick. Very torquey.

No idea what this Ferrari is. I don't think I've ever seen one of these before.

Here's another one next to an iconic Diablo. @slirt tells me it's an SF90 Stradale, The only two older Lamborghinis at the show were this Diablo and that white Countach.

I had to walk back and take another picture of the SL-C.

Funny license plate.

The pedestrian Giulia Quadrifoglio was parked next to an Accord.

We are going to another meet next weekend.

EverydayDriver buys a 300ZX Twin Turbo

I don't listen to or watch these guys but I heard them on a recent episode of The Smoking Tire. I remember them from the Phaeton versus Quattroporte series. I really like the way Todd presents and explains cars. Do any of you follow these guys?

U.S. Covid deaths by vaccine status


Sunday, December 05, 2021

December 2021 Marin C&C photos

I had not been to a car show in forever and the boy wanted to go to one. So I found a sort-of-local show (45 minutes away), woke up early, and went. It was worth it. We both had fun.

The first thing we checked out was this dune buggy getting reverse winched out of a travel trailer. The badge said Cox, which appears to be a toy company. Later we saw this buggy wearing huge sunglasses. You read that right.

E28 M5.

FC RX-7.

SWB Land Rover truck. This was my son's favorite car at the show.

Unrestored(?) Corvette.

Celica GT.

Saleen Mustang.

V8-powered Volvo.

1968 Mark II Cortina.

Why does this Aston Martin look so unusual? Is it a hardtop? I don't think I've ever seen one like this. This was my favorite car at the show.

Another rad Mustang.

Dirty 968.

I told my son I learned to drive in one of these. He was distracted by the van.

Another old Merc.

Monza coupe.

This classic was just non-chalantly parked.

Thursday, December 02, 2021

Die Another Day movie review

Could this be the worst Bond film ever?

Dave's review: Die Another Day takes things to a whole new level of awfulness. It features a cartoon plot, laughable dialogue, and mostly phoned in performances with the exception to Rosamund Pike. What's worse is that it tries to be serious by portraying Bond as a broken man due to being tortured in North Korean captivity. Nobody buys it for a minute. Like Tomorrow Never Dies, some of the action sequences are so long they become boring. The ice palace was a pretty cool sight to behold though, and the sword fight was somewhat entertaining. 

Dave's grade: D+

TT's review: This movie aged badly. Everything about this was terrible, except Rosamund Pike's presence. Pierce Brosnan's acting was piss poor. Halle Berry looked like she was acting in front of a green screen with not a single breathing human within 200 feet of her. Michael Madsen as the impatient Bush-era intelligence chief seemed out of place. And don't get me started on that weirdo Zao and his diamond encrusted face. Everything about the movie stunk. Thank gods Daniel Craig is about to swoop in and save the day/franchise.

I used to think Moonraker was the worst Bond film. Not anymore.

TT's grade: D-

Dave's reaction: It's kind of funny to think that this was Rosamund Pike's film debut. So if not for this, we may never have had Gone Girl

TT's reaction: I'll have to go over the past reviews, but this may be the worst Bond film.

All the references to past Bond movies in No Time to Die

Amazing compilation.

The World Is Not Enough movie review

My favorite movie set in Azerbaijan!

Dave's review: The World is Not Enough is Pierce Brosnan's best outing as 007. It is actually a very underrated entry that gets better with repeat viewings. Much of this credit can be given to Sophie Marceau who plays the villainess Electra. You may remember Marceau as the Queen in Braveheart. She is a fine actress and her chemistry with Brosnan's Bond drives this film. What also works in this film is that there are numerous scenes in which you believe Bond is in actual danger, or a tough spot at least. This element was missing from the first two Brosnan movies. The pre credits sequence is astounding, particularly the boat chase outside M16 headquarters. And yes of course there are the inevitable Denise Richards jokes and her name Christmas Jones certainly goes down as one of the worst in the franchise. But Richards wasn't horrible. You just obviously don't buy her as a nuclear scientist.

Dave's grade: B+

TT's review: I'm the kind of person who forgets the plot of a movie or book as soon as I finish it. But this is especially true of this, the most forgettable of Bond films. When I try to remember it, I just remember Baku, oil, and the BMW Z8 on the pier. But after seeing it recently, I realized it should be one of the most memorable because of my love for all things Central Asia and Silk Road. Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkey all play central roles in this geopolitics thriller. I think Denise Richards really spoiled the movie for everyone. Sophie Marceau was a near dud. But I am really glad they brought Zukovsky back. I like him a lot. And it was sad to see Desmond Llewelyn go.

TT's grade: B

Dave's reaction: It is just amazing seeing Desmond Llewelyn still playing Q ever since From Russia With Love. The truest of legends.

TT's reaction: What were they thinking with Christmas Jones!