Thursday, May 29, 2008
Belichick was there Wednesday night, 5/28, for the Celtics' latest postseason home win. They now lead the Eastern Conference Finals, 3-2. The last time the Celtics were this close to the NBA finals was, you guessed it, in 1987 playing against Detroit. The C's won in 7 and went on to lose to the (gulp) Lakers in 7 games in the 87 finals. Guess who's up 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals right now, possibly clinching the series tonight? Yeah, that'd be LA.
I don't believe San Antonio can win three in a row against LA, but they did come back from a 2-0 deficit against a New Orleans team that I believe deserved to be there and should have beaten the Spurs. In any case, maybe the Spurs can be good enough to tire out the Lakers by forcing a least a game 6, and maybe even a game 7, while the Celtics - hopefully - get their second road win of the playoffs tomorrow night in Detroit, and earn a few days rest before the Finals. I'd love to see the C's clinch on the road, if only to shut up that goddamn announcer..."DEEE-TROIT...BASSSSKETBALLL...". Ugh.
Anyway, it's awesome to see Belichick make the public rounds - is this his chick of the week, his new wife? Who the hell is that woman? Does it matter - she's blonde and not young enough to label Belichick "creepy" for being there with her. So yeah, he's pretty much the man, to bookend this little post.
Edit 5/29/2008 - apparently the woman in queston is his new girlfriend, Linda Holliday.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Sunday, May 25, 2008
The Harder we Work the More we Lose
We work too much. And most of us are working too much at jobs that we hate. If more people realized how unnecessary it is and how we are in fact impoverishing ourselves in our efforts it is doubtful many people would bother turning up for work. We would replace the present government with one that offered a 20 hour week and we would settle for more leisure time with less junk around the house. But because we're working so hard we don't have the time to think such revolutionary thoughts. And that is kind of the point. Free time breeds radicalism.
A Senator (and future Supreme Court justice) Hugo Black suggested to Roosevelt in 1933 that a 30 hour week should be standard and introduced legislation to that effect. Roosevelt initially agreed with this, until his ear was bent by opposing forces who somehow convinced him to institute the 40 hour week instead. All so that we can keep producing and consuming vast amounts of things we don't need. The owners of the means of production are getting richer from our endless running on this hamster wheel, but not the worker - and meanwhile we are faced with the destruction of the environment due to all the pollution and waste. It is coming to the point where we will actually wish we could have the option of being hunter gatherers once more - if we had the ecosystem to allow it. You can be sure that the many millions of slave laborers in the sweatshops and fields around the world would readily agree that life was better for their ancestors thousands of years ago.
Working harder - we have only become poorer.
We have this idea that today's adult population is wealthier than their parents. But it is not true, the fact is that despite expensive degrees, westerners face lifetimes on lower salaries and less rewarding careers than their parents' generation. What we are seeing is a form of leveling. While prospects have improved for people from poorer countries, that has been at the expense of those living in wealthier nations. Meanwhile, the richest 1% of the population owns 40% of the wealth of the world. And what is this "wealth"? It consists of resources plundered from the planet and people. There is a prevailing opinion that "we" destroy the planet for our own decadent comforts. But if 40% of that destruction is feathering the nests of a tiny elite, those who own and run big business, then you can put things into perspective and realize that a miniscule fraction of the population is responsible for nearly half of the suicidal abuse of the planet. Really this fraction of humanity is responsible for more than that since it is their game plan that the whole gospel of consumption follows .
And what is wealth and what is poverty, when you look at it holistically? The harder we work in our pointless jobs, the poorer we become. We become poorer in mind and spirit, with our inability to develop our understanding of life and preoccupation with consumption. We become poorer bodily as we become less physically fit. We become poorer as our environment collapses, and we become poorer as more of the profit we create is stolen from us by our slave masters.
Let us spread the word around. We must learn to be frugal once again and stop consuming junk. The more self-sufficient we become, the fewer unnecessary products get sold and we move away from the gospel of consumption and throw a spanner into the hamster wheel. We have to remove our noses from the grindstone long enough to see that it doesn't have to be this way.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Here are some links to check out:
Most cars can be eliminated within twenty years
Corrupt.org interview with Michael Arth
New Urban Cowboy
Michael Arth's website
Golden Apples Media
Here's a snippet that Corrupt.org recently published:
The world’s 800 million cars could be reduced by 90% or more with the application of pedestrian-oriented urban design, and two technologies that are already in their infancy. Urban designer and futurist, Michael E. Arth, presenting a paper on the future of urban design at the Congress of New Urbanism (CNU) in Austin, Texas, on April 5th, and in various publications and interviews, says that self-driving public taxies, virtual reality, and the application of pedestrian-oriented urban design, could eliminate most cars within 20 years.* A newly released feature documentary, New Urban Cowboy: Toward a New Pedestrianism, tells the story of Arth’s revival of a former crack slum and demonstrates an idealistic form of urban design he calls New Pedestrianism.
Michael E. Arth writes: “Ninety percent of the time, cars are parked somewhere taking up resources. If we traded private cars for efficient, zero emission, self-driving public taxis, we can have any type of vehicle we want, when we want it, for a fraction of the cost of owning a vehicle, and we would take a huge step toward solving a wide range of problems, including global warming. Almost all of the world’s annual 1.2 million deaths** and 48 million injuries, resulting from motor vehicle accidents, are human-caused, so smart autonomous cars should be able to prevent most of those casualties too. Doubters need look no farther than existing car sharing programs, and GM’s 2008 Opel Vectra, which will have ‘Traffic Assist’ and will reportedly be capable of driving itself on the highway in heavy traffic. Insurance companies, automobile makers, lawmakers under control of industry lobbyists, and the minority of drivers not wanting to be chauffeured, may resist replacing so many private cars with so few self-driving public cars, but the environmental, safety, and economic reasons for doing so are utterly compelling.
“The third component of this reduction in cars is the imperative to make our physical world attractive, livable, safe, and sustainable. In order to build for the future, we should make our inner cities more pedestrian friendly—as is already happening in various town centers around the world. New developments should follow the tenets of New Pedestrianism to create vibrant, compact villages, where cars are kept on a separate network at the rear of all buildings, with pedestrians and cyclists traveling on a peaceful, tree-lined, front lane. This will further reduce automobile dependency and improve our environment. With more and more time spent in cyberspace, physical activity will become even more important for the health.”
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Attouoman came to America on an exchange visa in the early 1990s and sought political asylum. Along the way, though, he misread a notice in which he was given a court hearing date to argue his case, leading a judge to order his deportation.
While I understand that the teacher is loved by his students, wasn't it irresponsible of him to make the mistake in the first place of misreading an important notice about a court date? And doesn't it seem fishy that he married someone a year and a half ago - after the initial fight to save his residency status? How the hell did this guy become a teacher in this state anyway - does he have a Master's degree?
It's fine for people to come here particularly if they want to teach our state's education plan and become part of our culture, but why the uproar over a legal and sound deportation? It's not like they're shooting the guy; he'll probably be back over here in a year after all of this is sorted out. Why our Senators would waste time trying to pass legislation to get this guy off the hook is beyond me; doesn't seem like the best use of taxpayer funds.
I called my better half & it turns out she wanted a meatless burrito. Looking back I should have ordered it as meatless, but I ended up ordering a chicken burrito "without the chicken". I also explained twice to the burrito-dude that I just wanted rice, beans, guac, salsa, and no chicken in the burrito. The girl behind the register starts to laugh; apparently my words either weren't clear enough or she was just havin' a laugh at the stupid gringo who didn't know how the hell to order a meatless burrito (suffice it to say English was not the first language of these employees). So she's having a laugh and I'm thinking back to when I worked at my father's shop (wait, I still do...).
My grandfather was an Italian immigrant who had to fight to get here. He really wanted to leave Italy at the time (1957; long story) and ended up being rejected by the American embassy in Naples three times before they let him and his family come to the country. He had to have a job waiting for him, a sponsor, and he had to speak some words of English before they approved his trip over. I don't care what anyone says about how Italians or Irish may have been exploited for labor; they still had much more strict standards of citizenship, and that's always a good thing. As such, I have a feeling he appreciated his citizenship a bit more than, oh, I dunno, someone who probably has a green card and Masshealth for no other reason than she showed up, but I digress.
From a young age I'd work at my father's shop every weekend, helping out, doing whatever I could to keep busy. I'd also wait on customers. If I was chewing something or laughing at all when a customer was in the store and had to be waited on by me, I'd get an ear full by either my grandfather or father, because it's simply not professional or polite to be eating while waiting on someone, and certainly not laughing, even if it's an inside joke that the customer has nothing to do with. When you're not even ten years old, you don't know these things, but I quickly learned.
I realized standing in line at this burrito joint, that as much as we laud our "service economy" and we believe we're doing such a great service to these poor, poor immigrants who must be running from drug lords and other bad men like in some Bruce Willis action movie, there's very little customer service going on in most restaurants & shops these days. Part of it is certainly due to an increasingly high language barrier whenever you go out to even a nicer restaurant, and part of it is due to the fact that standards have slipped to disgustingly low levels - people expect to be put on hold and they expect to be treated like garbage; when they're not, they're pleasantly surprised (I know I am). The lack of customer service is particularly true for the smaller shops; at least larger chains have customer service guidelines in place, the violation of which can result in a chewing out from one's manager. My father's shop is a bit more old-school; if he has done something wrong by a customer, he immediately fixes it if it's his fault, and sometimes even if it's not. He values his customer base more than just about any other business I've ever been involved with, but apparently, many more small businesses operated this way until recently.
One might ask, what happened? Why do we have an increasingly lower standard of customer service in our society, and why do we feel that no one will treat us right unless we go high up the chain and squawk enough so that someone will do something to make us stop bitching? The differences in immigration waves certainly play a role, but it's only a piece of the puzzle. Part of the reason is culture; with no shared cultural values in our society and a mish-mash of people from different cultures (along with political correctness), there's no real expectations of any kind on anyone anymore. As a result, standards of everything from education to the Wal-Mart dude ringing up your bedsheets decrease drastically.
Another reason is a general frustration with large businesses which is partly the result of poor training and not enough resources dedicated to customer service. I remember at one point I had lost my bank card. I called my bank and hey, at least I spoke to someone in North Carolina and not India. The individual asked me which bank card I had lost; I said I only had one, and she said I had two open. Turns out they failed to kill a bank card I had cut up a year prior after I told them to, meaning someone who might have had that previous number could have continued using it. After I had reported my recent card missing, they hadn't put in the system that it needed to be replaced (what the hell was the person I was speaking to when I originally reported it missing doing that day??). This ended with a screaming match between myself & this employee's manager as he said he had to assess a fee to rush out the new card even though it should have been sent out days prior. The next day, I called up and talked to someone else, and the fee was immediately waived - they didn't even ask what happened, they just waived the fee. Why did I have to go through the initial stress of presenting my case like a trial lawyer to some idiot five states away, when someone lower on the food chain at my bank was able to wipe the slate clean? These are the kinds of questions we ask ourselves and mull instead of customer service departments doing their job correctly the first time so we can think about more important matters.
Unfortunately there's no end in sight; many of society's issues are interrelated and no one is interested in solving them. Tough decisions are something you won't see any political figure advocating, as it means less money and consumer goods/entertainment in the short term for the betterment of the human race in the long term. The best solution, as http://www.corrupt.org/ advocates, are local societies with shared cultural values instead of a large federal government trying to manage the needs and desires of 320 million people. And yes, I'm using a bad customer service experience as a vehicle for social decay and cultural emptiness - it's magic!
Edit 6/6/08: OK this was a bit tongue-in-cheek...wait, no it wasn't. It was just me overreacting, as is normal. Thanks to J for helping keep my perspective - he rightfully made mad fun of me when he saw this post. Later in the evening I ordered a "Super Burrito with no meat"...and I was pleased with the service. J rules.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Countries thinking of joining the rush for biofuels run the risk of planting invasive plant species that could wreak environmental and economic havoc, biologists warned on Tuesday.
In a report issued on the sidelines of a major U.N. conference on biodiversity, an alliance of four expert groups urged governments to select low-risk species of crops for biofuels and impose new controls to manage invasive plants.
Wow, really? Who would have thought it could harm the environment to take plants from one continent after tens of thousands of years of evolution, and transplant them into a totally new environment? No one realized this might be a bad thing for native vegetation?
Goes to show again that as a society, we are not forward-thinking in the least, and care only about trends and immediate payoffs instead of the future.
Since Arizona's local law enforcement began enforcing illegal immigration laws and an employer sanctions law went into effect, illegal immigrants have been fleeing the state in large numbers. The effects have been far-ranging. Commuters are reporting fewer vehicles on the freeways, shortening their rush-hour commutes. What had become a serious transportation problem in Arizona is losing its urgency. English Learner Language (ELL) students started dropping out of school. This helped end a confrontation between the state legislature and a liberal federal judge who had ordered the state to spend more money on ELL classes.
Fewer illegal immigrants are using hospital emergency rooms, so waiting times have decreased. Although the rest of the country is in an economic slump, unemployment is going down in Arizona, from 4.5% in January to 4.1% in March. Day laborers loitering outside of Home Depot and other stores have mostly disappeared, ending months of confrontation between illegal immigrant sympathizers and protesters. Desert lands near the border are returning to their pristine condition and the wildlife is coming back. Identity theft and car thefts are decreasing. No one showed up on May 1 to march in immigrant rallies.
Alex Birch's comments:
Immigration in large amounts, regardless if it's "illegal" or not, is destructive to any society that wishes to maintain its communitarian values. But it's uninteresting to talk about immigration without mentioning pluralism, and pluralism is uninteresting unless we understand it within the context of globalization. This is about creating a global class of cheap labour for the multinational corporations. It's destructive to all societies, including those of African, Mexican and Chinese. The solution is what we espouse here at Corrupt: local, organic societies based on ethnicity, culture, and shared values.
Monday, May 19, 2008
As a citizen of this planet, it only makes sense to ensure a bright future for as many of us as possible; ironically, this involves decreasing our numbers drastically. Talking about overpopulation doesn't do most folks any good because there's no money in decreasing overall consumption. Having as many consumers as possible around is best for government (taxes) and business (profit) in the short term, but in the long term, this will lead to resource wars (more money toward defense spending; again this is good for government). This is a common sense issues we don't talk about because our politically correct society can't admit that a planned population reduction would take away too many 'freedoms' (even though family planning is the intelligent and least invasive path to take). Government figures are mostly useless in that they feel if we are kept happy with TV and entertainment, we won't squawk too much about the real problems; these are not the people who are going to lead us into a future of tough decisions and new cultural heights.
Per the above link, Corrupt.org asks and answers a few tough hypothetical questions from our politically correct society in regard to overpopulation:
Each individual is sacred and carries an intrinsic value. For this reason we should not attempt to reduce the overpopulation.
We don't necessarily need to take any human life. Effective methods of reducing overpopulation include family planning, which is 100 % harmless to already existing individuals.
We have no moral right to limit the reproduction of individuals, as this violates basic human rights.
All human individuals are part of the world in which we live, and if we deplete the resources of this planet, many people will find themselves born into poverty. If we make the individual sacred, we defend a careless attitude towards the larger life, including other species that also have the right to exist. We're not the only living creates on this planet; if we care about ourselves, we must also care about the environment that sustains our very existence.
We have more important problems to focus on, like social and economic inequalities.
Aside from the anthropocentric perspective that seems to place the human species above its environment, social and economic problems are closely linked to the problem of overpopulation.
Drivers "are not hearing us," Dunford said. "They're not looking into their mirrors, checking for what's behind them, as they should . . . It's a very dangerous situation that's developing."
Instead of building the walls of technology higher, why not teach people at a young age to treat driving as a privilege instead of a right? This is a band-aid fix for a much larger problem in society. People being so blatantly stupid and self-absorbed as to ignore cops on a busy road, without realizing other drivers are getting out of the way of an ambulance and/or cop car, need to be removed from the roads until they can show they will treat the privilege of driving with respect.
What, if anything, should we do to encourage assimilation? The anemic progress of Mexican immigrants is but one sign that our current immigration policy is not working. Before deciding what to do about it, though, we need to make some important decisions as a society.
[full article text]
To answer the question in the second paragraph above...nothing. Why should we encourage assimilation by a group of people that crawled through sewage or waltzed through a national forest in New Mexico to get here? It's bad enough illegal immigrants are given more benefits than citizens in our society, but it seems now we should incent them even more to 'assimilate'. Don't believe me? Try paying for health insurance in Massachusetts when you've suddenly lost it after being a lifelong resident, only to find out that illegal foreign nationals get green cards and Masshealth immediately upon arrival...free of charge.
The goal of the government, in attempting to assimilate illegals, is higher wages, more consumer activity, and a better economy. Illegal immigrants are considered the next economic boom by policymakers, so encouraging assimilation makes sense. Make illegals feel even more welcome than they already feel, and pretty soon they're working in offices, consuming, and racking up huge amounts of debt. Some of us are working to abandon this lifestyle; apparently the government feels it works just fine as long as we overpopulate via illegal immigration and keep feeding the corporations with our hard-earned cash.
The difference between the prior, mostly European waves of immigration and the current wave of Mexican (illegal) immigration, is that Mexicans live directly south of Texas and can therefore sneak in undetected. Worse, they're not thrown out when they are found by our government; it usually takes being caught for committing a crime to actually be sent back to Mexico. Even then, an ICE unit in my own town admits that most of them just sneak back when they get the chance.
As I wrote earlier, when one has to work hard for citizenship and when there's an understanding that you're certainly welcome to contribute in your new home as long as you appreciate the privilege and don't attempt to reverse colonize or negatively affect our established culture, immigration is a wonderful thing. Sadly, that is not the reality of immigration today, and both sides are at fault for selling out any lingering American culture & values that were left before economics took the reins and sold us all down the river.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Apparently our government has decided to wake up and start throwing people in jail who don't belong here.
Oops - wrong people! Our government wants nothing to do with jailing illegals, sending them out of the country, and building a border fence. But a guy from Calabria (Calabrese people stopped emigrating to America en masse about thirty years ago)? He must be a threat; lock him up and throw away the key!
This guy was here to see his girlfriend, so they lied to him, told him he couldn't go back to Italy, and left him to rot in a jail cell. Good thing he wasn't just here to sightsee on his own, or we likely never would have heard about him. And of course the government is not in the business of apologizing when they've made a mistake.
This is an example of a perfectly legal visit from a foreign national; our government is too busy locking up the wrong people to realize the true problem: illegal immigrants bring down our economy for citizens (who DO deserve more), and this "they do the jobs that no one else wants" logic is backward. People would have been fine doing those jobs had illegal immigrants never been allowed to stay here and work in the first place; if you introduce a population of people who are willing to work for less and add the moral hazard of a welfare state for the formerly employed citizens, it'll sure as hell seem like they don't want to work. Why would they? They're getting paid by your tax dollars to reproduce, shop, and build up credit card debt.
This is what happens when economy and industry run society. Mix in a little political correctness and you've got a backward system targeting sacrificial lambs to slaughter, while ignoring the real problem. Oh no, a guy from Italy; we've never seen one of those - better lock him up! But Juan Sanchez? He sounds like he'd fit right in cleaning sewage outside of Los Angeles; he's an all right guy - let's let him in.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Now that this story has met its end, we can say with certainty that the most recent developments include:
- Matt Walsh kept a tape of a San Diego cheerleader and little else
- The Boston Herald admitted that it published a false story with zero credibility two days before the second-most watched TV program in history (oops!!!)
- Roger Goodell came out in defense of the Patriots by stating that the Patriots were not punished for taping any signals, but rather for doing it from the sideline - the only question here was the location of the camera, not the actual taping of signals.
Suddenly, all of the maniacal anti-Patriots ranting has ceased on most of the message boards out there. The Patriots are a team that, since 2001, has brought its fans an unparalleled amount of classic moments (as well as some heartache - see the Colts game from January 2007 and of course, Super Bowl XLII). They are without a doubt the team of the decade, and as was the case with the Yankees of the late-1990s, people look for excuses as to why the Yankees are so good and their teams cannot succeed at the same level. Of course, in Major League Baseball, an entire team worth of all-stars can be purchased, and when an ownership group from a division rival allows a team like the Yankees to buy their best players or trade for their best minor leaguers, the owners throw their hands up and say, "we're doing the best with what we've got!" All the while, the accountants in the back room are figuring out just how much they need to spend to keep asses in the seats. And yes, I do realize that the Red Sox are pretty much doing the same thing these days.
In the National Football League, there's a fairly hard cap such that any expenditure over the cap results in severe luxury taxes and penalties. The reason for success here is slightly different from the Yankees as they have been operating at about the same salary level as all other 31 NFL teams. So when Brady finally gets decent receivers - despite winning three Super Bowls without an all-star receiving corps - and puts up tons of points, people forget that Peyton Manning has been doing the same thing for years, as did Kurt Warner during his time in the limelight a few years back. The Patriots were just that good, that well-prepared, and that hard-working during the 2007 season (and most of the other seasons from 2001 onward).
All the passive-aggressive internet Pats haters can go back to their Mom's basement now and wait for their own teams' training camps to begin.
Does it really matter if a Chevy Tahoe is more green than a Prius? The only thing that matters is the fact that there are too many people on the planet, which means too many cars on the road, too much of our natural resources being burnt out, and not enough fresh water for everyone. What does it matter if some of our petroleum-based water bottles are "more green" than the old ones? With billions of people needing water bottled and sent to them since they don't live near clean water sources, the question is moot; billions less people is the only solution. Have one kid, or two max, and stop overpopulating the planet - China, India, Africa, the entire Muslim community, and South America can all learn from this.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Only very recently has it been established that having one or two kids makes the most sense; even us Americans are coming around to this idea. Most of us are from large families and still don't feel the need to start a very large family of our own. If only the rest of the world would follow suit.
Monday, May 12, 2008
My history with cars over the past few years has been quite the ride. The first car I ever drove regularly was a 1993 Ford Taurus, ubiquitous in those days, and I used it to go back and forth to school when I had a license. My family switched to Japanese cars when it became clear that American cars were having a lot of quality control issues, so in 1996 my parents bought a Honda Accord. That would be the first of many Honda purchases throughout the years for my parents, myself, and my older sister. Altogether, the family Honda purchases included:
- 1996 Honda Accord 25th Anniversary Edition (why they chose to call this a special edition is confusing; it was stripped down with zero power options)
- 1998 Honda Accord LX (my mother's second Accord when my sister and I were both in college but home frequently; the 1996 Accord became shared amongst the kids)
- 1999 Honda Civic LX (my older sister's leased green econobox when she needed her own commuter car)
- 2002 Honda Accord LX (my sister's upgraded leased econobox)
- 2003 Honda Accord EX-L (my first brand new car purchase)
- 2006 Honda Accord EX-V6 (my second and last brand new car purchase; traded in the 2003 for it)
I realized quickly after buying the 2006 Honda Accord that the payment was very high for an economy car (albeit a really nice, loaded one) with an awesome engine that was Acura-worthy (Acura being Honda's luxury division). While it was certainly a car I could have kept for years, I had an epiphany while driving around this nice new car after a couple of months constantly worrying about paint chips and the tiniest door dings: why did I want to buy new when there were so many great used cars out there? It was clear I wanted a lot out of a car and I simply wasn't able to afford what I really wanted - a luxury car that had a classic driving feel and exterior. Or could I?
A friend of mine had been pushing German cars for some time. He had been down the Toyota route, as had his family for years before he began driving, so he naturally assumed Toyota was the best and not to "waste money" on a used luxury car. But when delving deeper, he found that Honda/Toyota kept their value much better than many brands out there, making a used purchase more expensive than some other worthy (even luxury) brands, but they also had their share of problems. No car company makes a perfect car, but many car companies these days make very reliable cars with engines that will last for years or even decades when treated properly.
My friend's budget was pretty low as he was still in school, but he decided to have a little fun with a BMW 325i coupe from 1991. This was in 2004. He grew up in Maine but was living in Virginia, and at first snow, this rear-wheel drive German car with no traction or stability control handled the snow extremely well because he had learned how to handle that type of car in snow. While most Virginia residents were staying off the roads and the plows hadn't come, this guy was having the time of his life out there on the road with his new toy. The car, of course, was 13 years old and inexpensive to buy and maintain. But when I got into the car I found it to be tank-like in feel, and it seemed to have maintained its classic door "thunk" upon closing as well as a classic interior that aged gracefully.
I spoke to him about the idea of selling a brand new car I had bought only six months earlier, and while he didn't want to tell me what to do, per se, he geared me toward a few options he figured I'd like based on my climate (northeast), preferences (slightly luxury over performance, but ideally both), and budget. I was able to get a great price for my car to sell it to a private party, a car which I felt I was paying too much to drive, and ended up spending about $7,000 LESS for the following:
2000 Mercedes-Benz E430 (8-cylinder) 4Matic (all-wheel drive), completely loaded with navigation, original sticker $75K, with 74K miles. Price when I purchased it in 2006 - $19K.
Of course the car was far out of warranty but if you read my car care article, you'll know that the best warranty is to keep oneself informed and in the good graces of a qualified mechanic. I had a lot of fun with that car and it was a pleasure to drive; unfortunately, it was totaled six months later by an idiot who rear-ended me on the highway. The hunt was on again, but as I felt I had been cheated out of an experience to own what I felt to be a great car, I went back to the same dealership to see if they had another like it. This time it was a six-cylinder all-wheel drive Mercedes E-class, same mileage as when I had purchased the E430, and it was two years newer. With rising gas prices I wasn't going to complain about losing the two extra cylinders. I paid $3K less than I had six months prior for the E430. I realized that before I had bought the E430, I had been paying much more for a vehicle that, while brand new, didn't stack up at all in terms of features to a car that was six years older. The newer E-class was only four years older than the Accord, but still beat out the Accord in terms of luxury, driving feel, and performance.
The caveat here is that people like to know they are covered with a warranty, which is especially important if you run into a lot of trouble with a car, or a lemon. For example, we had purchased a Volkswagen Passat wagon for my wife a while back and it ended up causing us more trouble than it was worth, so at least we know what brand/model to stay away from in the future, as much as the VW was a joy to drive. I still believe the potential risk involved in buying a used luxury car is outweighed by the fact that one would have a superior vehicle which is usually more safe than some of the brand-new econoboxes out there, both in frame strength and general safety features (stability control, traction control, airbags). There are so many used vehicles out there, particularly in heavily-populated areas, that it's like being in a candy store when car shopping. Throw in a qualified mechanic to perform a pre-purchase inspection for the car you feel may be right for you, and suddenly you're driving a luxury or performance car for well under $20,000. By comparison, a top of the line Honda Civic brand new can reach about $20,000; the Accord will easily fetch more than $20K if you want decent features.
The engines in cars like Mercedes, BMW, Lexus are almost always six-cylinder and will last a very long time if cared for properly. If you care about what you drive and it needs to be more than just an "A-to-B" conveyance, look carefully at used luxury vehicles.
Friday, May 09, 2008
If this guy grew up near the border - or even anywhere in Mexico - and is dumb enough to kill a cop in Texas, maybe there's hope for us citizens? I hope a Texas jury, even in this depraved culture of political correctness, will bring the hammer down on this guy and recommend the death penalty. Sad for the cop and his family of course, but the US Government will tell you, you wanna make an omelet, eggs will surely be broken.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Talk about a waste of human life. Why is it politically incorrect to request a gun and a hollowpoint bullet to the back of the skull for this moron? He's 70 and obviously has nothing left to offer society, except for a legacy of inbreeding. Why spend money feeding this guy, paying his medical bills, with tax dollars, until he keels over with the knowledge that he got to abuse his own daughter for twenty-four years without ever really being punished for it?
Overpopulation can be solved, in part, by shooting morons like this on sight.
Thankfully, truth has finally reigned in the debate over just how much of an advantage the Patriots may have had when taping a few defensive signals here and there throughout the course of Bill Belichick's tenure as head coach.
This article seems to prove without a doubt that Mr. Walsh was just trying to gain some attention and cause an uproar among the masses, who now care nothing of the merit behind their original claims of "cheating", despite the fact that Walsh has nothing to offer that the NFL didn't already know and to which Belichick hasn't already admitted doing.
We need to stop pointing the finger at the successful individuals in our society, turn that finger back around, and figure out what we can do to make our own lives better every day. Stop hating on the successful among us who are dedicated to their profession and live your own life, not the lives of others!
The incident, which the teen told police also stemmed from his being transferred to an alternative school, sent some 600 students, parents, and coaches scurrying to get out of the car's path Tuesday evening. Cowen allegedly roared onto the school's athletic fields, aiming the car at individuals and spinning it in circles.
Many witnesses said they were surprised that no one was hurt or killed. They said that the driver was going so fast the car went airborne at one point and that it barely missed a father pushing his 7-month-old son in a stroller.
This is what happens when we're tolerant of idiotic behavior in society. Everyone is a special & unique snowflake, so let's just forgive a dumb kid carrying a 16-inch (????) knife and driving a car eighty miles per hour on suburban roads, nearly killing a father and 7-month-old son in the process. Sure, $500 bail and a psychiatric evaluation seems fair - why punish the kid any more; he's already being transferred to an "alternative school"?
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
You can read the above-linked article for the first page or two, and ignore most of the technical reasoning behind it unless you're interested; you'll get the point within the first couple pages. Nicely written article by Ted Mitchell, in structure as well as reasoning.
If you live in Massachusetts, you know many folks from New Hampshire commute down I-95 and I-93 each day to work. While Massachusetts pickup truck drivers are guilty of this as well, the image in my mind of NH license plates on the backs of trucks doing 85 in the left lane and tailgating someone going 85, is forever burned in my mind. I'm surprised there aren't more multi-car wrecks on the highways each day; I just don't understand why people drive like this. The best part is when they have their fog lights on but not their driving lights - see Daniel Stern's website for proper vehicle lighting; this is blatant ignorance of vehicle safety. I have a friend who owns a large pickup, the largest GM makes before the trucks have to be diesel-powered (more torque, more fuel-efficient). He works in an office all day and has zero need for a truck bed.
What's my solution? Glad you asked. How about only selling pickup trucks and SUVs to vehicle owners with commercial license plates? That would be a start. If you're not a business and can't get a commercial plate, you should be paying an annual gas-guzzler tax to own a pickup or SUV, and you should have to renew a special type of license to drive this vehicle every single year, to remind you of the safety hazards of driving this beast on highways designed for commuter vehicles.
I think the idea makes a bit too much sense for anyone to support. Just drive defensively; that's what you can tell yourself while avoiding being jackknifed or back-ended by some idiot in a pickup who's driving it because it looks cool.
This goes to show once again that Americans love excess, and will do anything to have more as long as it doesn't cost more - for no other reason than it's more and they can have it.
It seems to be just fine to own an SUV when gas is $0.99/gallon. Where were these economists ten years ago? Consider that Europe pays per liter nearly what we pay per gallon...3.8 liters to the gallon = nearly 4 times the price. Now that prices are higher here, suddenly people realize that owning a big truck or an SUV for no good reason doesn't make any sense.
I've said for years that the only language Americans understand is the language of the dollar. Now that our dollar is nearly worthless, we curse when trading in that Toyota Sequoia for a Honda Civic. Must be that damn war in Iraq, or something.
Americans typically don't account for total cost of vehicle ownership, compounding the problem of selling more trucks to idiots who don't need them. Ford & GM are giving these trucks away at 0% financing plus cash back, and the buyers think it's a steal, until gas prices rise. Do they think American manufacturers give these trucks away out of kindness?
Monday, May 05, 2008
Last year, the trailer for the upcoming Resident Evil 5 depicted a white soldier shooting black zombies. A contributor to the blog Black Looks wrote: "This is problematic on so many levels, including the depiction of Black people as inhuman savages, [and] the killing of Black people by a white man in military clothing . . ."
So now our psychologists are playing video games and analyzing the many different ethnic options associated with the characters, instead of trying to warn people of the dangers inherent in denying nature and denying reality; e.g., video games themselves. Would it be better if you could choose to be a black or hispanic individual in these games? Is this in the best interests of our kids; are we really spending time studying this?
The problem is not supposedly racist video games. The problem is that video games exist and kids sit for hours and hours playing into their digital alter-egos, stunting mental and physical development, rather than playing outside. When are we going to wake up and eliminate these terrible means of self-centered entertainment?
Friday, May 02, 2008
Click here for the full article text.
Sometime next week, I hope to publish a computer maintenance article, again on Corrupt.org.
I've often been accused of racism in the past few years because I'm against excessive immigration. I keep retorting that I'm not a racist, I'm a culturalist- I'm fine with immigrants who want to come here to join our American/Canadian culture and all the high lifestyle standards that provides, in return for being some of the hardest working people in the world. I'm against people who want to colonize our land, bring in their culture, and replace it with theirs. I'm also against bringing in more people to areas where the carrying capacity is already at it's limit.
I've been rightly or wrongly criticized for that in the past- but apparently I'm not the only one who feels this way: Illiad of UserFriendly Fame, who apparently lives near a casino I once did technical support at in the mid 1990s, wrote a very good essay on his blog about the difference between "immigrants willing to join the community" and "immigrants who cut themselves off". Just so happens most of the ones down here in the states who are of the later variety start their life in the United States with an overtly criminal act, but the attitude is the same. They're sending the message, by forcing Spanish on the rest of us (or Cantonese in the sake of Richmond, BC) and by breaking our laws to come here, that they don't want to become a part of our community, that they only want to colonize us.
I'd also point out that's exactly what we English and French speakers in North America did to the Native Americans- and we should learn from their failure what happens when you let too many immigrants in who don't want to be a part of your community.
[click for essay noted above]
Very nicely written summary of the differences between immigration waves of prior generations (Irish/Italian in the Eastern US) and the newer, mostly illegal waves of immigration occurring today from our buddies to the south.