Thursday, January 30, 2014

6 months

Left: What Cooper looked like when we adopted him in July 2013. He was a stray found on the mean streets of Oakland.
Right: Cooper today.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Extraordinary interview with Syrian jihadist in English

This young Turkish guy grew up in Holland and joined the Dutch army. He is now in Syria, with a beard, and fighting with the Islamists. He speaks perfect English, likes M&Ms, and wears North Face jackets. This is a must-watch video if you're interested in the Syrian conflict. This is about as informative and as insightful as the Assad-Charlie Rose interview.

Thunderbird SC

It's a Super Coupe! 3.8 liter supercharged V8. 315 lb-ft of torque. 60 mph in around 7 1/2 seconds. Not bad.

In English.

En espanol. Muy caliente.

17 communities will run out of water in California

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

R129 Mercedes 500SL for sale

I saw a red 500SL on the Real Housewives of Atlanta last night (don't ask why I was watching it). It still looks pretty good today. I remember when these first came out around 1990, the father of a guy I knew in high school, who was a surgeon, traded in his almost brand new white Thunderbird SC for a white 500SL. I was in awe.

I really like the wheels on this one for sale. Are those from the AMG version?

House of Cards

A big thanks to Lukas N. for recommending this. I watched two episodes last night. This trailer does not do the show justice. It is so dark and clever. And Kevin Spacey is the best.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Leasing a Quattroporte

I'm thinking about leasing a Cadillac CTS or a BMW 5-Series. Of course, I wanted to check all of the possibilities so I looked up specials at the local Maserati dealership. First of all, this new Quattroporte looks so bland compared to the prior version. Also, 147-1/2 thousand dollars?! Ouch.

Egyptian military helicopter shot down in Sinai

First, I do not recommend watching this video at work or on a plane. People around you will freak out. Also, turn down the volume.

When Qaddafi fell, his vast cache of advanced weapons was looted. A bunch of surface-to-air missiles ended up in the restive Sinai. Apparently, some may have even ended up in Gaza as well and Israeli commercial airliners are taking off and landing, assuming that they are in the crosshairs of these SAMs. The recent bombings in Cairo, and this downed helicopter, raise the question of whether Egypt might descend into Syria-level chaos. It's still unlikely, but it's more of a probability now than ever before.

Jump to 2:00:

I want a Cressida!

Yesterday, I spotted this '89 Cressida at the local market. It was gorgeously bland and in great shape. I rode in one about 18 years ago. It was packed with five guys. We were literally racing another car by taking a shortcut through the hills of Oakland. The biggish sedan was surprisingly a lot of fun.

Are there any issues to look out for?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Running for office is nuts

A couple of weeks ago, our local Congressman, who had been in office since 1974, unexpectedly announced his retirement. Everyone, for a brief moment, considered running for his seat. This included my other half.

For two days, we thought hard and did our research. We spoke to an expert on campaigns, an expert on fundraising, and an election law attorney. The cons heavily outweighed the pros. The sheer cost of running a campaign was breathtaking, and prohibitive. Not only do we have to kick in a significant chunk of our own life savings, but we have to spend practically every waking moment calling and wooing potential donors.* This, of course, could be circumvented under our currently atrocious campaign finance laws if we were independently wealthy (which means unlimited donations to ourselves) or if we had a sugar daddy/momma to start and fund a SuperPAC (so long as the PAC didn't communicate with the campaign).

*All of that fundraising would get us a fourth place finish, maybe. But hey, we'll have earned the name recognition needed for the next time around, when we get to run against the incumbent!

California's unique election rules make it even more expensive to run. Here, during the primary election, the top two vote getters, even if they are both from the same party, get to run against each other in the general election. In our district, which is 2-to-1 in favor of Democrats, the primary race will probably consist of a bunch of Democrats and a few token Republicans. Each candidate during the primary is not only running a campaign to appeal to Democrats. S/he will have to spend three times more, in order to appeal to Republicans and independents.

Given that the potential candidates are all professional and decent, the campaign will be civil. But what if we win? The national opposition will paint the winner as a tax-and-spend liberal, and worse. If you have ever read comments on Yahoo News, you know how nasty people can be. Are all the insults and vitriol worth it?

Finally, there is the disruption to one's career and life that a campaign causes. It's simply not worth it, at least at this point of our lives.

I was reminded of all this last night when I watched Mitt. The documentary follows Romney, behind the scenes, from 2007 to 2012. He and his family are nice, intelligent, normal, and successful. The stress and heartache of the 2008 and 2012 campaigns on them all were just overwhelming.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Lada today

So modern!

Riot police versus protestors in Kiev

This is fucking medieval.

First, cops beating up rioters.

Here, rioters burning riot cops with Molotov cocktails.


Kiev last night

Mr. Selden's Map of China

This is a fascinating 17th century map that is the subject of a new book.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

More 2014 Anti-Football Run pics

from Shaun, here.

Ban Ki-Moon versus Syrian Foreign Minister

The Swiss talks regarding Syria started badly. The Syrian government ignored the rules that everyone else abided by in terms of length of opening remarks. The Secretary General never raised his voice (to his credit) but was clearly pissed.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Mercedes GL63 AMG

Talk about overkill. An SUV with three rows of seating. 0 to 60 in 4.8 seconds.

Monday, January 20, 2014

MLK Honda ad

"I have a dream...of an affordable, Ohio-made, Japanese car."

1990 Fiat Tempra ad (Venezuela)

Hat tip to Antti.

More weird 1980s Mitsubishi ads

Hat tip to rchen. Cyclone!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Saturday, January 18, 2014

1981 Mitsubishi Mirage ad at Colorado Air Force Academy

Probability of the generals knowing about the filming? Zero.

Piaggio or Peugeot?

The French president is having some personal issues right now. Namely, he has two girlfriends. Here he is coming out of his second girlfriend's apartment. That three-wheeled scooter is waiting for him. The media has been identifying the scooter as a Peugeot or a Piaggio, and neither company wants to be associated with the scandal. So, European scooter fans, what is that thing?

Also, is this picture the Frenchest scene you have ever seen?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Nissan Rasheen

Another obscure car, suggested by Sanchez. The Rasheen!

Shelby Dodge Van

Yesterday, Raphael Orlove was kind enough to mention this blog on Jalopnik. The post was about cars that you never knew existed. The comment section was full of weird and wonderful cars. Some I had heard of before. Some were obvious, but made me realize that younger car nuts had no idea what a VW Corrado was. And there were some that I hadn't heard of, despite spending a large part of the last seven years going to car shows and navigating through the dark recesses of the internet.

Here is an example. A 1989 Shelby Dodge van. About 100 were made. They started out as Safari conversion vans. Mr. Shelby slapped on some stickers and pretty much called it the day. It was just a cosmetic package, and Shelby had a cut of every van sold. If that isn't the epitome of selling out, I don't know what is.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Carspotting, Cuba edition: Geely Emgrand EC718

Matty over at Crasstalk took an educational trip to Cuba and shared a DropBox full of car pictures with me. I'm going to need your help identifying 95% of the cars and trucks, as they are mostly 1950s American, old Soviet, and Polish.

Here is a car that I didn't even know existed 15 minutes ago. It's an Emgrand. From a quick Wiki search, it:

  • is made in China, Uruguay, and Iraq(!);
  • is the first Chinese-designed car to pass Euro NCAP tests;
  • is supposedly on sale in the UK (is that true?).

I can't tell what this car is a copy of. A stretched Corolla? The badge reminds me of the new Cadillac logo. The T stands for "tourist" so it's probably a rental.

It doesn't seem terrible. Here is a review, in Russian?

A look at Sochi

This is a quick look at the security in place, the environmental impact of development, and the effects of said development on residents.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

BMW On Demand

You can rent BMWs-- nice BMWs-- in Munich. You can rent an M5 for 75 euros per hour!

Hat tip to Edvin.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Volvo dealership service dept. gift card

This came in the junk mail yesterday. It was addressed to my wife, who hadn't owned a Volvo since 2003. I don't know how the dealership obtained her contact information. However, its arrival coincides with the discovery of this problem-prone (according to Zack D.) 2004 V70R.

Frontier at frontier

Not sure if I've shared this picture before. It is a Nissan Frontier at the edge of the Darien Gap. At this moment, the Nissan was the second southernmost vehicle in North America. The truck to its left was the southernmost.

Monday, January 13, 2014

New Porsche Targa top video

DAMN! That is sweet. That retro B-pillar gets a huge thumbs up too.

Naval stats of the Pacific powers

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Rumsfeld documentary trailer

This looks good.

The East China Sea is finally safe

Girls und Panzer

Unsettling, entertaining, and baffling. It's an anime series about World War II tanks that are maintained for sports competitions participated by high school girls.

F1 drivers' new numbers

Vettel gets No. 5 after he stops winning championships. BTW, who is Daniil Kvyat?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Exile Destinations, Part 11

Breaking news: The leader of the Central African Republic just fled to Benin.

101. Malaysia-- 0
102. Maldives-- Singapore
103. Mali-- Senegal
104. Malta-- 0
105. Marshall Islands-- 0
106. Mauritania-- France, Qatar
107. Mauritius-- 0
108. Mexico-- 0
109. Micronesia-- 0
110. Monaco-- 0

Tally thus far:
6x = France

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

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

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

Raw Opium documentary

This looks like an engaging piece. Tempted to pay the $4 and watch it online.

Iso Rivolta Fidia for sale

These oddball Italian luxobarges are fascinating. Here is BAT's write-up

Vital stats:
  • When new, cost more than a Rolls.
  • John Lennon owned one of these.
  • First came with Chevy V8, then Ford V8.
  • Its closest competitor in sales numbers was the Quattroporte.

This example is for sale at Gallery Brummen. Have any of you ever visited their showroom? It must be amazing.

Opel Calibra ad with Clapton's Layla

Personally, I associate the song with Goodfellas.

H/t Antti.

Ariel Sharon, dead

As a kid growing up during the Cold War, I was always fond of Caspar Weinberger. I think it might be because he shared a name with my favorite ghost. A certain, friendly, ghost. Also, in looking at this picture, I suspect Weinberger and Reagan used the same hair dye.

New York Times obituary of The Bulldozer here.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Mathis VL 333

What intrigued me about this microcar is that it's from 1945-46. It looks like something from the 1960s or 1970s.

VL 333 is short for Light Economical Car with 3 wheels, 3 seats, and consumes 3 liters of fuel every 100 km. The little bugger is powered by a 707 cc water cooled 2 cylinder engine. It has front wheel drive and is equipped with a 4 speed manual. Around 10 of these were produced.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

VW Italsuisse

Looks like a Corvair (which came out in 1959) from the front, and a Quattroporte Mark 1(which came out in 1963) from the rear. This design exercise took just 35 days to create for the Geneva Auto Show. It's based on a VW Beetle 1200. More info here.

Daimler Super Eight

So fancy, they spell out the word "8".

Saabaru emblem

Source, from this car that is for sale.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Jenatzy "The Never Satisfied"

This cigar-shaped car was the first to go over 100 kilometers per hour. Plus, it's electric!

The car, "La Jamais Contente", was named after the racer's mother-in-law. Any advantages from the light weight and aerodynamic body are canceled out by the exposed chassis and driver.

More details here. Pictures below are of a replica.

Roush Speedster Mustang

On my commute this morning, I saw a white Mustang convertible with a "Speedster" sticker on the door. Apparently, it's a rare Roush edition. And judging by the description from Roush's website, it's more show than performance.

If you can imagine yourself on a warm summer day with the top down and the foot on the accelerator, then the ROUSH® Speedster™ might just be the car for you. Limited to only 100 units, the Speedster™ is an all white convertible with the black ragtop and wheels accented with orange graphics. The Speedster™ is available with a five-speed automatic transmission so you can concentrate on watching the world go by. Rated at 300 horsepower, the ROUSHcharger™ is an available option in case you really want to let loose and run down the highways and byways with 435 horsepower at your command.
Standard Speedster™ content includes the ROUSH® front fascia, hood scoop, rear wing, black leather seats with suede inserts, a high-flow grille and much more.

Dennis Rodman is on something

The look on the faces of his teammates is priceless.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Cugnot, the first car

New year, new series. When I was a kid, I would go to the library a few times a week and read Illustrated Motor Cars of the World. A few years ago, I found a used copy at Powell's Books in Portland. Each page of the 263-page book has four interesting cars. Every car is illustrated. I am going to start featuring some of the strange and unusual cars in the book.

First up, the Cugnot. It was the first automobile, ever.

The car was commissioned by the French military, as it was trying to figure out ways to transport cannons. In a way, it's sort of like an 18th century version of DARPA. The steam engine drove the singular front wheel. Not surprisingly, it was very unstable, especially off-road. The boiler was also substandard, even for its time.

Here is a video of a replica made by a car museum in Tampa, Florida. Yes, it has Florida plates. You can literally register anything there!

Saturday, January 04, 2014

What are barrel bombs?

You may have heard about barrel bombs being used by the Syrian air force recently. Basically, it's a barrel filled with oil, TNT, and chunks of steel.

2014 Anti-Football Run photos

Another New Year, another morning with old cars.

This first photo was taken by Stephan, who captured me riding in rchen's 1981 Honda Accord.

Now, back to the beginning. As I approached Sausalito, the starting point, I saw this strange van in front of me.

I parked next to this rare blue Mondial cabriolet.

The van was a diesel Alfa Romeo! This was my favorite vehicle at the meet/rally.

Miata and 914.

164 and IS-F.


A Scirocco with Historical Vehicle plates.

Here is a VIP (Peter S.) in front of not-his Gullwing.

The vacuum hose routing diagram for the Accord.

We followed this Jaguar(?) for a while.

The roads of Marin.

This shot captures the diversity of the cars that participated.

That Austin-Healey stalled out right at the end of a corner.

This Mustang belongs to Randy of Bring A Trailer fame.