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Archive for March, 2008

March 31st, 2008

No…This Is Not Going To Get Detroit Back In The Game

Picasso said, a poor artist copies…a great artist steals. 

A friend of mine, who owns a simply lovely Acura TL, (which simply lovely Acura TL motivated me to finally buy my own dream car) said somewhat bemusedly a few weeks ago that the TL had become the new "It" car…at least around our neck of the woods.  And it’s true in a way.  You see a more of them then you do the Lexus ES or the Infinity G, or any of the other "entry level" luxury cars.  There’s at least two of them living in my little Baltimore neighborhood.  Honda hit a really nice sweet spot with that car, price and feature wise.  And it’s a Honda, which means it’s reliability isn’t in question, unlike my Mercedes which has to prove itself.

But if my friend is bothered by not having such a unique dream car as he thought when he first bought it…he should count his blessings.  Here’s what I’m going to have to put up with in the not too distant future…



Oh…did you think that was a ‘C’ class?  I sure did when I first laid eyes on that photo.  But look at the bumper…it’s a goddamned Chevy.  And a Caprice at that.  Caprice.  Caprice.  That used to be American for River Barge On Four Wheels.  Here’s another view…



All that’s missing on that one is the hood ornament.  Just for comparison…here’s one of my shots of Traveler shortly after I bought it…



They even copied the wheel design, and the black plastic at the base of the sideview mirrors.  GM is currently selling it’s ‘C’ class Caprice in the Middle East.  But don’t worry…they’re marketing a Buick version in China right now, that should be coming to our shores real soon too…

…possibly to be sold by WalMart, along with all the other Chinese knock-offs coming into this country.  The Koreans apparently didn’t want to be left out of the new design paradigm either.  So here’s the new Daewoo…



Joe…at least all those other cars on the road that look like yours, really Are Acura TLs. 

Why complain?  Ford started doing this back in the 70s, when they came out with the Granada right around the time American consumers started getting fed up with Detroit’s lackadaisical interest in quality, and started looking more seriously at imports.  People started noticing that Mercedes’ tended to stay on the road a hell of a lot longer then Fords.  So in typical Detroit fashion, Ford brought out a car that looked (kinda) like one.  It even had a hood ornament.  GM later set its sights higher, and brought out the Cadillac Seville, which tried to look like a Rolls.  But the problem wasn’t one of style, but substance.  It still is.  Decades after the Japanese started kicking their asses on quality And Price they still don’t get it.

A poor artist copies…a great artist steals…  It’s not that beauty is only skin deep, it’s that to see only the skin is to miss the soul.  That applies to humans, and as it happens, it also applies to the things humans make.  It is all art.  If Detroit invested the effort in duplicating Mercedes passenger safety engineering that they’re investing in simply copying the appearance of their automobiles I might actually applaud.  But I don’t expect the same industry that dragged its feet putting seat belts in cars at the same time Mercedes was busy engineering crumble zones into theirs to do that, let alone the industry that has been selling people the same cars for decades with only different "skin jobs" applied, year after year after year.  I didn’t buy an empty status symbol.  No, your Caprice is not a Mercedes-Benz, and you’ll find that out, regrettably, if you’re ever in an accident.


by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on No…This Is Not Going To Get Detroit Back In The Game

The Beans Of Wrath

You can tell a lot about the people in the boardroom by how well they treat the workers who are the public face of their business.  I think I just learned today everything I need to know about Starbucks: they steal tip money from their servers.

Starbucks won’t pay back barista tips

Thousands of Starbucks employees got a personal message from their upset boss, who said the company was being “grossly mischaracterized” in the media over a recent tip pool controversy that could cost the company more than $100 million.

Chairman and Chief Executive Howard Schultz, in a voice-mail message to employees Wednesday night, called last week’s ruling by a California judge "extremely unfair and beyond reason" and said he wanted employees to know the truth.

"I want to personally let you know that we would never condone any type of behavior that would lead anyone to conclude that we would take money from our people," he said.

In a separate statement, the company also said, "Contrary to some reports, Starbucks has not taken money from any of its partners, and nor is there money to be refunded or returned from Starbucks." A spokeswoman said Thursday that Starbucks Corp. has no intention of ending the practice of sharing tips among baristas and shift supervisors in California while it seeks an injunction.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Patricia Cowett, in her ruling last week, said there was "uncontroverted testimony that Starbucks continues to utilize the distribution of tips from the tip pool to compensate shift supervisors as well as baristas." Cowett ordered Starbucks to pay thousands of California baristas $86.7 million plus interest for breaking the law.

Now…read that again, particularly that second to last paragraph.  Starbucks is saying that "contrary to some reports" they don’t take money from their "partners"…and then in the next breath they insist they’ll keep on doing it.  The weasel word there is "partners".  Starbucks doesn’t take any money from its "partners".  But "partners" isn’t the issue, however Starbucks chooses to define who is and who is not a "partner".  The issue is, are they taking tip money from their servers.  And…yes as a matter of fact, they are.  That’s what, specifically, they were found guilty of doing, and that’s what, specifically, they’re insisting they’ll keep right on doing.

The tips belong to the servers.  Customers aren’t tipping the business, they’re tipping their servers.  In most cases, the tips are what the servers depend on for a decent income.  Taking their tip money is not only immoral, it also happens to be illegal in many states, including California.  Now…it’s one thing to insist you weren’t breaking the law.  It’s another to insist that the law is unconstitutional and you’ll fight it all the way to the supreme court.  And it’s another still to insist that you didn’t do it, in the same breath as you assert that you’re going to keep right on doing it.  Starbucks isn’t just giving the finger to it’s servers and customers here, it’s laughing in the face of anyone who can read plan English.

A dear friend of mine works as a waiter, but that’s not the only reason this behavior makes me angry.  I never worked for tips in my life…I’m just not outgoing enough to make a go of that kind of work.  You have to have a bit of the stage in you I think to be good at that and I am more stage crew then stage.  But I know very well what it’s like to work in the service sector and it’s many hours of of hard, thankless work for mostly uncaring, rude and overbearing bosses, usually for not enough money to make ends meet.  From what I hear, most folks who work service sector jobs these days need two jobs to earn a bare bones living.  And a lot of those businesses nowadays do their damndest to avoid having to pay their service people a decent wage…from limiting their hours so they don’t qualify for full time benefits (and federal protections), to creatively placing them into pseudo-management positions so they don’t have to pay them overtime. 

I guess stealing your employee’s tip money is just another way of lining your pockets being a successful businessman in Republican Party Of Moral Values America.  How Howard Schultz can live as well as he does and take his servers’ tip money and still look at himself in a mirror every morning and think he sees a decent man looking back at him and not a slimeball is beyond me.  Thankfully.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Beans Of Wrath

March 30th, 2008

When The Warning Isn’t.

I noticed it the day after I got Traveler Back from its service ‘A’.  When I shut down the car after a brief drive, the central speedometer display flashed a warning message that the tire pressure was low.  So I took my gauge out of the glove compartment and checked and it wasn’t and I wrote it off to a random spurious signal that must have happened when I turned the car off.  Some voltage spike that sent a signal down the wire that the car’s central computer misinterpreted.  But the next day it was back.  And the next.  And then this morning, while I was driving to the hardware store the warning flashed red on the display just as I was pulling out onto the highway.  I pulled over and checked and everything was fine.  None of the tires were low at all.

The problem with the legendary Mercedes reliability, is that from the mid-1990s to about 2005 it was anything but.  The company had a reliability problem…a bad one…mostly with the electrical systems…and owners and fans of the brand were getting royally pissed off.  But the company fessed up to it, and promised to make changes and do better, and from everything I’ve heard, the cars built from 2005 onward are much, Much better.  But I just know that every time something like this happens I’m going to stress that it’s a defect.

I’m assuming for now that something was done in the shop during the ‘A’ service that made the tire pressure monitoring system forget its baseline values and so it started complaining that the tire pressure wasn’t right. You’re supposed to reset the tire pressure warning system every time you adjust the tire pressure.  There’s a routine you perform…you let the tires cool down for at least three hours after driving, then check and adjust the pressure as necessary, then you tell the system to accept the current values as the baseline.  This morning I took my air compressor out to the car and, as a matter of fact, one tire was about 2 psi low.  But I doubt that’s low enough to set off the warning system.  In any case, I set all the tires to their correct pressure and then reset the warning system and then took Traveler out for a long drive and so far the warning hasn’t reappeared. If it doesn’t again then I think I can safely assume that it was a result of something the shop did during the ‘A’ service.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on When The Warning Isn’t.

March 29th, 2008

You Knew The Parts Would Be Expensive When You Bought It…

So…yeah…gasoline for Traveler is just going to be expensive.  It has about the same size tank as the Accord, but its V-6 is thirstier, so it gets emptied sooner.  And it requires premium.  I knew this when I bought it.  A Mercedes-Benz is just going to cost me more to own then a Honda Accord.  I went into that with my eyes wide open. For weeks before I bought it I stressed over whether or not I could afford it After I’d bought it.  Once I’d satisfied myself that I could, I went to the dealer and put my money down.  I admit I didn’t expect the price of gasoline to rise so…rapidly.  But there’s no getting around it.  So I’m more careful nowadays in planning my trips to the hardware store or the post office.  Is there anything else I need that I can get along the way?  Better one long circle then two or three trips back and forth.

Recently, the original equipment wiper blades on Traveler started streaking ever so slightly.  Most of you probably know how it is after that.  At the first sign of streaking it just gets worse really quickly.  So I figured today I’d go buy myself another pair.  Traveler came with a spare set, and my plan was to put the spare set on the windshield and make the new pair the spare.  And because I am such a Mercedes-Benz fanboy and I don’t want anything on my car that isn’t factory approved, I went to my dealer to buy the new blades.

I had a hunch they would be a tad pricey when the parts department guy behind the counter whistled under his breath when the part number came up on his computer display.  Sixty bucks.  That’s right…sixty dollars for a pair of wiper blades. 

Maybe it’s the falling dollar.  At least they’re lasting me about six months.  And I’ll say this about them…yes, they actually do their job better then the blades on any other car I’ve ever owned, including the Accord, yet their design is simple and elegant.  I’m a geek…shoot me…but one of the subtle little things that told me I was in a different world now was trying out the wipers and seeing how smoothly and thoroughly they cleaned the windshield. Partly that’s the odd little articulation Mercedes puts on the passenger side wiper to make it get more of the window.  But also it’s the design of the blade itself, which distributes pressure more evenly across its length then any other design I’ve ever seen.  In the package they’re actually curved inward.  When flattened out on the windshield every point along its length is exerting an even steady pressure against the glass.  I can swallow the extra cost of something if it gets me a better made something, and that is in fact the bargain you make when you buy into the brand; the theory being that a Mercedes-Benz costs more because it’s over-engineered a tad and that costs money.  But that means the maintenance is going to cost more too.

Here’s a lesson for all of you dreaming of that supercar you want to own one day.  Don’t buy it until you can afford the maintenance too.  Even if you see one in cherry condition on the used market and you can afford it.  Investigate how much the upkeep will cost.  I was reading on one of the Mercedes forums about a guy who bought himself a very nice "previously owned" ‘S’ class, only to discover that when it needed its next routine servicing work it was going to cost him close to a thousand dollars. 

The breakdown was this: the service schedule on the model ‘S’ class he bought called for the plugs to be replaced, and the oil and gas filters, really close to the mileage it had on it when he bought the car.  That’s something you have to consider when looking at a used car: when is the next maintenance due.  It had a V-8 engine with two plugs per cylinder and it used the most expensive plugs Bosch made.  The oil and gas filters were equally state of the art, precision made and just as expensive.  But that’s what you buy when you buy a high end car like a Mercedes-Benz.  I’m sure the top of the line BMW or Audi are just as expensive to maintain, and I don’t even want to think of what it costs to do routine maintenance on a Bentley or Rolls.  Between the parts and the labor the scheduled service on that guy’s ‘S’ class was getting close to the thousand dollar mark…

…which you figure someone who can afford one of those things new can also afford.  But not necessarily someone buying on the used, excuse me, "previously owned" market.  You may have bought the car for half of what it was worth new, but you still have to pay full price for the maintenance.  Unless you get it done in Butthead’s garage and junk yard emporium…and do you really want your lovely ‘S’ class worked on by Butthead?  Oh sure…a I can fix that…a little duct tape and glue and it’ll be good as new…and hey…sorry about the greasy shoe stains on your carpet there…

I could have held out for an ‘E’ class…barely.  I hear the new one coming out in 2009 is going to be really nice.  Sometimes I catch myself thinking that maybe after I’ve paid off Traveler I’ll trade up to one.  But if you can just barely afford the car, you probably can’t afford the maintenance too.  Unless I jump a few more rungs up the income ladder, a ‘C’ class is probably all I’ll ever be able to afford.  But that’s okay.  Every day when I go out for my after dinner walk I stop and just…gawk…at my car.  My neighbors are all probably getting the biggest kick out of seeing me standing out there nights just staring at it.  But there was a time in my life when I couldn’t even afford a car.


by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

March 28th, 2008

No, The Whole Premise Is Silly And It’s Very Badly Written.

Via slog…  

Man said ‘wombat rape’ led to accent change

A New Zealand man who claimed he was raped by a wombat and that the experience left him speaking with an Australian accent has been found guilty of wasting police time.

Right.  Now, I’ve noticed a tendency for this precinct to get rather silly. Now I do my best to keep things moving along, but I’m not having things getting silly. Those last two reports I received were very silly indeed, and that last one about the wombat was even sillier. Now, nobody likes a good laugh more than I do. Except perhaps my wife. And some of her friends. Oh yes, and Captain Johnson… Come to think of it, most people like a good laugh more than I do, but that’s beside the point! Now! Let’s have a good clean healthy outdoor crime report. Get some air into your lungs. Ten nine eight and all that.


by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on No, The Whole Premise Is Silly And It’s Very Badly Written.

March 27th, 2008

However, You’ll Never Walk Away From What You Did To So Many Innocent Hearts. Never.

John Smid has resigned from Love In Action.  In the spirit of wishing someone the best as they move on to new endeavors, I’d like to repost the following…

"I would rather you commit suicide than have you leave Love In Action wanting to return to the gay lifestyle. In a physical death you could still have a spiritual resurrection; whereas, returning to homosexuality you are yielding yourself to a spiritual death from which there is no recovery."
-The Final Indoctrination from John Smid, Director, Love In Action 

Judgment Day is every day John.  Have a nice rest of your life.

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

Licensing Terms Shooting You In The Foot Much?

Apple doesn’t want folks running it’s OS and most of its software applications on non-Apple hardware.  iTunes being the only exception I know of, and that probably only because they wanted to take the online music marketplace away from Bill.  Off the top of my head I know of no other Apple software products that run on any other platform, but MacOS…and MacOS doesn’t run on any other hardware but Apple’s.

They’re very strict about that.  Very strict.  Very.  Very.

Apple forbids Windows users from installing Safari for Windows

In using Apple Software Update to slip his Safari browser onto millions of Windows PCs, Steve Jobs didn’t just undermine "the security of the whole Web". He’s made a mockery of end user licensing agreements.

As spotted by our Italian friends at setteB.IT, Apple’s Safari license says that users are permitted to install the browser on no more than "a single Apple-labeled computer at a time." This means that if you install Safari for Windows on a Windows PC, you’re violating the license.

There’s an adorable little screen capture of the license agreement on The Register’s site.  They say one of the hallmarks of cult behavior is an all consuming paranoia of the outside world…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Licensing Terms Shooting You In The Foot Much?

March 25th, 2008

Man…You Really Don’t Like Them Brown-Skinned Spanish Speaking Folks Do You…?

Via Media Matters…  Lou Dobbs digs in a little deeper…

Dobbs asked if Obama is "pandering to ethnocentric special interests again" by accepting Richardson’s endorsement

Summary: Lou Dobbs introduced the March 21 edition of CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight by announcing: "Tonight, Senator [Barack] Obama wins the endorsement of the nation’s only Hispanic governor, Bill Richardson. Is Obama pandering to ethnocentric special interests again? We’ll have complete coverage." The subsequent report included no discussion of whether Obama is "pandering to ethnocentric special interests."

Jeeze Dobbs…just get over it willya…

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

March 24th, 2008

The Difference Between Mainstream American Journalism And European

Two news stories today about the commonplace schemer whose fantasies were used by the Bush administration to gin up support for president Nice Job Brownie’s splendid little war. 

First, from the network that white washed the murder of Matthew Shepard, ABC News:

Curveball’s false tales became the centerpiece of then-Secretary of State Colin Powell’s speech before the United Nations in February 2003, even though he was considered an "unstable, immature and unreliable" source by some senior officials in the CIA. The CIA has since issued an official "burn notice" formally retracting more than 100 intelligence reports based on his information.

Notice, they’re not even doing their own reporting there on the source of the claim that Saddam had those mobile biological weapons labs. 

Now…from the people who actually did do some reporting…Der Spiegel:

Above all, however, the spymasters failed to do what is indispensable in the intelligence business: They did not sufficiently examine “Curveball’s” personal record. Perhaps they could have learned early on that, for a time, Rafed tried to make a go of manufacturing eye shadow. Later he stole 1.5 million dinar-worth of gear from the partially state-owned film and television company Babel TV, where he was responsible for equipment maintenance. A warrant for his arrest had been issued as a result — the real reason why he bolted from Iraq in 1998.

The BND would not even have had to go to Iraq to learn about Rafed’s real character — he remained true to form in Germany as well. Despite an explicit ban by BND authorities, Rafed worked for a time in a Chinese restaurant, and even behind the counter at a Burger King restaurant. He quickly attracted attention to himself. Several Iraqis described him to SPIEGEL as a "crackpot" and "con man."

Notice any difference?  Go read both of those and see if the difference doesn’t just leap out at you and laugh in your face.   The American News Network is tactfully refraining from holding its own government accountable for its behavior in that affair.  If anything, ABC News is suggesting that was all the fault of those wily Germans.  The German news magazine on the other hand, is almost blistering in holding its own government to account.

All through this goddamned war I’ve had to read European news sources to learn what’s going on over there.  For an American with just a shred of appreciation that there is, in fact, a world beyond our shores, that’s not necessarily surprising.  I’ve never once set foot outside of the continental United States, but many hours of my childhood were spent sitting raptly in front of a shortwave radio, listening to the BBC or Radio Netherlands and marveling at how much there was to know about the rest of the world that I simply didn’t get from the home grown broadcasts.  That a more complete picture of foreign events would come from foreign news sources is unsurprising.  What’s really pissing me off now is that I get a more complete picture of what my own government is up to from foreign news sources. 

by Bruce | Link | React! (3)

Mission Accomplished

4000 dead U.S. Soldiers since Bush’s Splendid Little War began…

Flashback…Washington D.C…March 18, 2003

Tuesday afternoon. I am attending a conference on open source software in government being held at George Washington University. I am here because my project manager is investigating the possibility of moving the system I’ve been working on for the past several years to open source software. Work on the Hubble Space Telescope will go into maintenance mode shortly, and the thinking is that the Institute doesn’t want to spend a lot of money it won’t have on software upgrades, simply because a certain vendor has a business cycle that requires you to do that. At least with open source we would have the option of making any small fixes we absolutely needed to have before the end of the mission ourselves, without breaking our systems that depend on it. The alternative is to stick to the vendor’s upgrade cycle, and pray the new versions don’t break anything in our software, or introduce new bugs and security holes.

Between conference sessions, I wander around the Foggy Bottom area, and back and forth to my hotel, which I paid for out of my own pocket, rather then hassle with Washington traffic, which is a nightmare. The hotel has a nice little kitchenette, which allows me to eat reasonably well without further damaging my budget for the month. Around noon I begin the walk back to my hotel for lunch, stopping to examine a decrepit building right next to the conference hall, that I assume is one of the student dorms. It is, and I see by the bronze plaque by the door that this one is named Lafayette Hall. I read the inscription, which briefly describes the history of Marquis de Lafayette, who fought beside George Washington, taking a bullet in the process, for the freedom of a nation that was not his own, and who later attended the first commencement ceremonies of the university that bore his friend’s name, shaking the hand of each of those first graduates. While I am reading, a snarky voice in the back of my mind is saying Freedom Fries…Freedom Toast… An old friend of mine I’d had breakfast with that morning, told me a joke he’d heard about a man who, while visiting France recently, asked a random Frenchman, "Sir, can you speak German?" When the Frenchman replied that he couldn’t, the American said, "You’re welcome." I told my friend the Frenchman could just as easily have asked the American, "Sir, do you have a king?"

My hotel is somewhat oldish. My room is on the sixth floor and the elevators are small and slow. I press the button and when one finally appears, I see that there are already two businessmen inside. It’s a tight fit for three. As we go up I feel the hair on the back of my neck rise. There are some who you would never know from the look of them, to be of the right wing thuggish persuasion, and there are others who hit you with it in waves, in the cut of the clothes, the bullying posture that is as second nature as breathing, and the coldness of the face, particularly when smiling at nothing in particular. I tune them both out, pulling out from a space within me I’d almost forgotten about, a "Yes I’m a longhair, yes I know you hate my guts, and no mister establishment person sir, I really don’t give a flying fuck" attitude, close my eyes, and listen to the elevator floor counter click off the floors to mine. I toy briefly about writing a book, "Everything I know about living under Bush II, I learned from Nixon". The old elevator rises slowly. I hear one of my companions say, "I hope they don’t cancel our flight out Thursday." The other chuckles and says, "The war will be over by then."

Atrios has a point…all we ever see in the round table discussions about the war in the News Media are people who supported it.  The only other side to the discussions we’re even getting now are from the ones now admitting they were wrong about the war, and terribly, profoundly wrong about president Nice Job Brownie.  What we still don’t hear, the people who are still not part of the News Media conversation about the war, are the ones who had it right from the beginning.  Doesn’t it make sense to start inviting the people who were right all along into this conversation now?

No.  It doesn’t.  Because the next step after that, is the News Media facing up to their responsibility for cheering this war on, and hyping up a drunken, spoiled, self-absorbed, bullying, petulant rich man’s brat into the image of a towering world leader.  The man who failed at everything he ever put his hand to in his life, but always managed to avoid responsibility for it.  The man who treated the presidency of the United States as if it was all just one big happy frat house game with him in charge.  This guy:


Our news media dragged this country to war with that guy in the white house.  And now they’d rather drink poison then own up to it.  That’s why you will never see any war critics on network news.  That’s why the only liberals you’ll ever see are the ones who, like them, were all gung ho about having a splendid little war in Iraq.  It was supposed to be all over the following Thursday.  This country will be generations coping with the consequences.   And that’s not so much Bush’s fault, as our news media’s.  They failed America.  Profoundly.  Unforgivably.  They took liberties and freedoms that journalists in other nations have sacrificed their lives for and played petty schoolyard games with them and now there are four-thousand dead U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis and our moral capital is gone, gone, pissed away in the whirlwind of images of dead, bloody victims of U.S. torture, the Geneva War Conventions are in tatters, we are less secure, our military forces are weaker, We Have Lost A City and the economy is teetering on the brink of the worst disaster since the Great Depression.  Nice work if you can get it.  Mission Accomplished people.

Now go home.  Please.  But before you do, I want you to get up out of your chairs and go to the window, open it up and shout as loud as you can: I FUCKED UP AND I’M SORRY.  Then…jump.



by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Mission Accomplished

We’re Shocked, Shocked, That The DINO We Endorsed Who Kissed Bush’s Ass Is Now Kissing McCain’s Ass…

The Day tries to weasel out of it…

We Don’t Know This Sen. Joe

When The Day endorsed Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman for re-election in November 2006 it was supporting a candidate who demonstrated a history of pragmatic leadership and a willingness to seek bipartisan solutions.

We wonder what happened to that senator.

He never existed, that’s what happened to him.  He was a figment of your imagination, and your contempt for democratic primary voters, and in particular your contempt for all those dirty hippies who waged a campaign to deny him the nomination after they got sick and tired of watching that pompous self-absorbed nitwit kissing George Bush’s ass over and over again like he was Narcissus and it was his reflection.

You didn’t see the man he was because you didn’t want to, because then you’d have had to admit that the dirty hippies were right all along and you’d rather drink turpentine then admit that.  So you endorsed a Bush republican, who Karl Rove and the republican party supported with their money and their propaganda machine, and lo and behold you got a Bush republican who is now courting John McCain for a spot on his ticket.  Will wonders never cease.  You endorsed a Bush republican, and you got a Bush republican.  And now you’re trying to wash, wash your hands of him, and your responsibility for ignoring all the flaming neon red warning signs about the kind of man he was, and ushering him back into the senate, because it was better that then admit the dirty hippies were right.  Bite Me.  You got Exactly the man you endorsed.  Wear him proudly.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on We’re Shocked, Shocked, That The DINO We Endorsed Who Kissed Bush’s Ass Is Now Kissing McCain’s Ass…

March 23rd, 2008

No. Take It Around Behind The Barn And Shoot It…

CIO Magazine asks, Should Microsoft Throw Away Vista?

Throw Vista away. That’s what my colleagues at our fellow IDG publication InfoWorld have now argued that Microsoft should do. Give it a dignified resting place, as a stepping-stone OS, and come up with a replacement that’s more sensible for enterprise IT.

Why?  Seriously.  Why should Bill Gates do any such thing when he owns 90 percent of installed PCs and Office Software Suites?  You gonna go somewhere else pal?  Where?  If your data is in one of Bill’s software products, then Bill owns your data too buddy.

You can’t just ask Bill to please be nice to you.  He won’t.  He doesn’t care.  He doesn’t give a shit about you.  You need to take your destiney into your own hands.  Or you will never own it.

by Bruce | Link | React! (5)

March 22nd, 2008

But Then Again, Just Putting Gasoline In It Might Cost You More Then Having Bodywork Done Someday…

Today I just paid nearly seventy bucks for gasoline.  And that was at the Costco gas station where the price is about 25 cents a gallon less then it is most other places.   That amounted to just a tad under twenty-one gallons:   About sixteen gallons for the car, and another five in the spare gas container I bring along so I don’t have to make the drive to Costco as often.

According to the owner’s manual, Traveler has a 17.43  gallon tank with a 2.11 gallon reserve (that probably works out to some nice round figure in metric…), and I’d run Traveler’s tank down to the last 1/8th.   The fuel reserve warning came on around the 1/8th mark, but as I only had to put a bit less then 17 gallons in I’m not sure where they’re drawing the line at the reserve, unless there’s almost a half gallon of it that doesn’t get filled when the gas pump clicks off, which is possible.  Anyway, figure since it’s a Mercedes when the gauge reads empty it probably means it. 

The rising cost of gasoline is of course, why this all matters to me.  The more gas I buy in one go at the Costco, the more I save because I have to figure in the gas I use getting there and back.  It’s about eleven miles, so figure about four-tenths of a gallon spent, in order to buy gas at twenty-five cents a gallon less then the local stations charge.  At 3.26 a gallon, which is what the Costco gas cost me, let’s say that’s a buck-thirty I spend going to and from Costco.  I paid sixty-eight dollars for twenty-one gallons.  Around here that would have been about 3.50.  So my bill would have been 73.50.  I saved five and a half dollars.  Subtracting the buck-thirty it was only 4.20 I saved.  But that’s another gallon and four-tenths if I use the local price per gallon.  Or another way of looking at it, is I get about an extra forty miles.  In a year’s worth of local driving, I reckon looking at an extra two-thousand miles roughly, but depending on all the slop in my figures it might be closer to fifteen-hundred.  But I have to practically empty my tank before I refuel, to see that kind of savings.  If I don’t do that, and I can’t always it just worked out that I could this time, I don’t see nearly that much savings.  If I refuel at the half tank mark, the drive to Costco and back eats up the amount of money I saved buying it there.

I’m going to keep on doing this for a while, and watch the numbers, but you know…it might not be worth my doing this, even at twenty-five cents a gallon less.

by Bruce | Link | React! (8)

The Adrenalin Sound Of Squealing Brakes Right Behind You

I got rear ended last night on the way back home to Baltimore from a friend’s house.  Luckily, no one was hurt, and the damage to Traveler was only a couple minor cosmetic dings to the rear bumper.  I think.  I have to have my Mercedes dealer thoroughly check it out just to be sure.  But he hit me hard enough that I was certain when I got out of the car that I’d see a bent up rear bumper and some damage to the sheet metal back there. But it looks like the bumper took it and just popped right back into place.  I was pretty impressed with the design of that bumper after I got under the car once to study it a bit, shortly after buying it.  I’m a lot more impressed now.

The scary part was the driver admitted to me when he got out of his car that he had drifted off to sleep for a second.  I’ve no way of knowing if he was drunk or not, he wasn’t staggering or anything but he did look very tired, which could have been drunkenness or it could have really been he was too goddamned tired to be behind the wheel.  I told him if he was that tired he needed to get off the road.

Assuming he really was that tired it’s a good thing he saw he was about to run into me in time to slam on his brakes, because if he hadn’t it would have been a lot worse.  His tire marks were probably three or four feet long.  I had nowhere to go.  I was about two feet behind the car in front of me at a stop light, and there just wasn’t any time to get out of his way when I heard him slam on the brakes.  He hit my car hard, but not hard enough that the headrests deployed.  The C300s headrests will pop forward in a rear end collision to keep your head and neck steady.  These are the accidents you fear the most…the ones that just come at you all of a sudden and it doesn’t matter how careful a driver you are and there is nothing you can do but brace yourself.

While we were exchanging information two Arlington county police cruisers came up and we had to exchange information with them too but there was no question who was at fault and after making sure I was okay and I had all the other guy’s information they let me drive on.  I suspect they asked the other guy to do a sobriety test after I was gone, but as I said I’ve no idea if he was drunk or really just too damn tired to be on the road. 

I have routine scheduled maintenance coming up on Traveler anyway but probably Monday I’m going to have to take it into Valley Motors and have them give it a thorough going over.  If there is no structural damage I’ll try to finesse the little ding on the bumper where the other car’s license plate screw punched into it myself.  It would cost hundreds, if not well over a thousand dollars to repair or replace that bumper just to get rid of the ding, and even though it’s the other guy’s insurance company that would be paying for it, it isn’t worth the hassle.  They’ll want one of their own approved shops to do it and I’d probably have to sue to make them pay Mercedes to do it.  If there is hidden structural damage though…yeah…I’ll go through that hassle if I have to.  With relish.  Nobody touches that car but Mercedes-Benz.

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

March 18th, 2008

And The Fountains Sank Back Into The Earth…Their Voices Growing Fainter…And Fainter…

Of all the great science-fiction authors, he was my favorite.  Of all the great science-fiction universes I have wandered through, his were the only ones I would have actually wanted to live in.

Sci-fi guru Sir Arthur C. Clarke dies

Pioneering science fiction writer and visionary Arthur C. Clarke, best known for his work on the movie "2001: A Space Odyssey", has died in his adopted home of Sri Lanka at the age of 90.

He died of heart failure doctors linked to the post-polio syndrome that had kept him wheelchair-bound for years.

Marking his "90th orbit of the sun" in December, the prolific British-born author and theorist made three birthday wishes: For E.T. to call, for man to kick his oil habit and for peace in Sri Lanka.

Clarke was born in England on December 16, 1917, and served as a radar specialist in the Royal Air Force during World War Two.

He was one of the first to suggest the use of satellites orbiting the earth for communications, and in the 1940s forecast that man would reach the moon by the year 2000 — an idea experts at first dismissed as rubbish.


Gravity was drawing him home again, as through the centuries its invisible hand had shaped the
trajectory of the Fountains of Paradise.  But he had created something that gravity could never
recapture, as long as men possessed the wisdom and the will to preserve it.
-Arthur C. Clarke, The Fountains of Paradise.


by Bruce | Link | React! (3)

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