Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful for the Easy Killings

From The Real Story of Thanksgiving by Susan Bates:

"In 1637 ... over 700 men, women and children of the Pequot Tribe had gathered for their annual Green Corn Festival which is our Thanksgiving celebration. In the predawn hours the sleeping Indians were surrounded by ... mercenaries who ordered them to come outside. Those who came out were shot or clubbed to death while the terrified women and children who huddled inside the longhouse were burned alive. The next day the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony declared "A Day Of Thanksgiving" ...

"Cheered by their "victory", the brave colonists ... attacked village after village ...

"Following an especially successful raid against the Pequot ... the churches announced a second day of "thanksgiving" to celebrate victory ...

"The killings became more and more frenzied, with days of thanksgiving feasts being held after each successful massacre. George Washington finally suggested that only one day of Thanksgiving per year be set aside instead of celebrating each and every massacre. ..."

Thanks William Burroughs

William Burroughs

"To John Dillinger and hope he is still alive.
Thanksgiving Day November 28 1986"

Thanks for the wild turkey and
the passenger pigeons, destined
to be shat out through wholesome
American guts.

Thanks for a continent to despoil
and poison.

Thanks for Indians to provide a
modicum of challenge and

Thanks for vast herds of bison to
kill and skin leaving the
carcasses to rot.
Thanks for bounties on wolves
and coyotes.

Thanks for the American dream,
To vulgarize and to falsify until
the bare lies shine through.

Thanks for the KKK.

For nigger-killin' lawmen,
feelin' their notches.

For decent church-goin' women,
with their mean, pinched, bitter,
evil faces.

Thanks for "Kill a Queer for
Christ" stickers.

Thanks for laboratory AIDS.

Thanks for Prohibition and the
war against drugs.

Thanks for a country where
nobody's allowed to mind the
own business.

Thanks for a nation of finks.

Yes, thanks for all the
memories-- all right let's see
your arms!

You always were a headache and
you always were a bore.

Thanks for the last and greatest
betrayal of the last and greatest
of human dreams.

Monday, November 24, 2008

2008 San Francisco Motor Show

As usual, there was very little of interest at the SF Motor Show.

Chrysler had the best display of domestic cars:

They had the Dodge Sling Shot (four years after its American debut at the New York International Auto Show!) The Sling Shot is clearly based on the Smart Roadster, a car that is no longer made.

We also got the Chrysler ecoVoyager 4-door car that's just a concept ... a concept of what Chrysler thinks a modern Tatra would look like.

The electric Dodge EV would have been our first chance to see a Lotus Europa, but it was missing from the show.

In the exotic car area the lighting was low and the pickings were poor. We only got the run-of-the-mill exotics: Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lotus, Porsche. Nothing you haven't seen before.

Over in the European section I was delighted to see the Audi R8.

One of the more interesting cars at the show was a car we won't ever get to drive, but if we've very very bad we might get to ride in. It is a unique purpose built police car with suicide rear doors! It's called the Carbon E7. It appears to be based on the Dodge 300.

The most surprising thing about this years show was the embarrassingly low number of attendees. See for yourself. I used a toy camcorder to record the empty aisles.

Categories:Cars San Francisco

Beaux Arts vs Blah Arts

I was standing outside the Apple store on Stockton at Ellis waiting for the traffic light to change when I noticed these two tower buildings. From this angle they seemed to be in harmony. From any other angle the Marriott Hotel on 4th Street is hideous. The Marriott is no better on the inside either (although the toilets were clean).

The older building is the Humboldt Savings Bank Building, which was in the early stages of construction when the earthquake hit on April 18th 1906. The Beaux Arts Humboldt was redesigned, and it was considered one of the most earthquake and fire resistant San Francisco buildings when it was completed in 1908.

There are two dates on the font of the building. 1869 when the bank was established, and 1906 when construction of this building restarted after the Great Earthquake.

Categories:Architecture San Francisco

Friday, November 21, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

No Government Loans for GM

The US considers subsidies by foreign governments to be unfair trade. I think a loan to GM fits in the same category and shouldn't be done. If we loan GM the billions they want, then they could still fail and we'd lose all. So instead of giving GM a loan, let the market decide what happens. And if necessary use the money to protect the pension plans and health care benefits of the workers.

I have no problem with GM Europe. Vauxhall and Opel are fine (they have such little in common with their American parent that perhaps they could thrive better on their own?). However, GM North America builds (mostly) tacky cars for people who don't know what a good car is like, or who can't get a car loan anywhere else.

And now GM NA sales figures are on a slide. Why is that? Let's ask GM president Bob Lutz (known in the industry as "Maximum Bob"). According to Maximum Bob it's not GM's fault that their cars and trucks are so poor. He says they were just building the cars and trucks that Americans wanted to buy. So Bob, that means that GM's problems were caused by the people who bought your cars and trucks? Bob, are you acknowledging both the poor quality of your cars and your contempt for the people who buy them?

At first it will be difficult for Americans to accept the demise of GM. But I think they can adjust to driving Toyotas and Hyundais instead of Chevrolets. They adjusted to watching Sony televisions instead of Zeniths. And they just elected a black man for president after 43 white men. They will adjust.

Categories:Cars Politics

Saturday, November 15, 2008

iPhone Wireless Webcam

I'm hoping someone will Google the words in this heading, find this post, and tell me that there is an application to turn my iPhone into a mobile webcam.

The application should take photographs every x seconds and upload the image to a Flickr account over the mobile phone airwaves. From Flickr I can re-post the images to a webcam viewer that's visible in a browser.

There are applications that automatically upload photos to Flickr. These apps just need to add a "save image every x seconds" feature. It shouldn't be difficult for some enterprising programmer to write the code.

That's all I want. Until the next thing.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Shameless Imitation of Wegner Chair?

Maun Windsor Chair (2004)

The Maun Windsor Chair is designed by Patty Johnson and made by the Mabeo Furniture factory in Botswana. Normally $750. On sale at DWR for $375.

Except for the clumsy looking Windsor legs, this chair looks like a derivative of the Chinese chair (1945) by Hans Wegner:

If you're in the market for a chair like this then I recommend Wegner's Wisbone chair. It's as strong and as light as a skeleton:


Trumpet Lamp

The lamp formerly known as trumpet (2008)

Repurposed trumpet and stand by Dutch designer David Graas, a graduate of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie.


Saturday, November 08, 2008

2009 Honda Accord

This week I've been driving a 2009 4 door Honda Accord. I have the base model four cylinder automatic which is well equipped with cruise control, tilt/telescoping steering, electric windows, and an excellent stereo. The stereo is a proprietary job, but that's not a problem because the sound and the controls are excellent. And the radio display is a large screen mounted high and far back on on the centre console where you can read it at a glance without refocusing your eyes from the road.

The air conditioning is powerful and the fan is quiet even at the highest of its multiple settings. I was surprised how quickly it could cool the interior without blowing cold air on me.

The rear window demister clears dew off the outside of the glass after a few minutes, but I miss having a rear wiper blade. I think all cars should have a rear wiper, not just hatchback cars.

The driver's seat is almost perfect. The seat cushion is long and provides adequate thigh support for my 6 foot frame. The side bolsters on the seat back held my upper body firmly in place around corners. The lumbar support was firm and pronounced.

Acceleration with the 4 cylinder and 4-speed automatic is strong enough around town and up to 50 mph. But don't expect it to sprint from 50 to 70 on the highway: The automatic will change down to D3, the rpm will jump by 2000, and there will be a strained engine sound from this otherwise refined car.

The suspension absorbs corrugations and potholes very well, but wallows over speed bumps. The spring rates are a bit soft, and the dampers and sway bars could be firmer. Having said that, this car can make reasonably good speed around corners. There's a lot of body roll, but the car doesn't understeer excessively. It almost feels sporty. It corners like my father's Hillman Hunter cornered.

The styling is a departure from previous Accords. It is somewhat BMWesque with a creased character line along the sides and those much copied BMW C-pillars. Which brings me to my main complaint: Visibility blind spots. The A-pillars are thick. The B-pillar blocks my offside vision. And those BMW-style C-pillars could hide a car on the nearside. If this was my regular car I'd stick convex mirrors onto the door mirrors.

In conclusion, I'd be happy to have the 2009 4-door Accord as my company car. But if it was my money I was spending I'd be looking for a used (get the depreciation discount) late model 3-Series BMW.


Thursday, November 06, 2008

The US Presidential Campaign

During the Democratic primaries Hillary Clinton's speeches began to sound insincere and cliched. She should have heeded her own repetitive calls for "change" with a fresh script to read from. By contrast Obama was fresh, focused, and seemed to mean what he was saying. He deported himself well throughout the primaries.

During the presidential campaign McCain's speeches were filled with hollow appeals to "Americans" and "My friends" and "this great country". He was insincere from the start. He was patriotic. He was full of it. Obama deported himself well during the presidential campaign.

During Obama's victory speech in Chicago, Jesse Jackson was shown in the crowd. He was crying. He was crying for himself because there will be no more political opportunities for his kind. Along with MLK and Al Sharpton, Jackson was a pulpit politician. Talking in a stilted southern accented voice. Preaching his politics. Sorry Jesse, we prefer an educated sophisticated well-spoken black man who we all agree we can identify with.

Obama will be president, and very little will change. But it is my hope that when faced with a decision to invade another country, to veto a child welfare bill, to blocade Cuba, to invade Grenada, to fund Contras, to torture prisoners ... Obama will make the right choice.


Saturday, November 01, 2008

FaceBook has Too Many Advertisements

Randall opened a FaceBook account. He said it would help him keep in touch with his friends and would I join? At the time it sounded like a good idea so I opened an account and examined the site.

FaceBook can nicely store all your notes/photos/videos/profile information in a one-blog-fits-all format. It seems to be a very good site for keeping informed about everything your FaceBook friends do. But I don't want to know everything my friends do. I want to be a little bit selective. I follow my fiends on Twitter, Blogger, Flickr, or Each of these sites has perfected its specialty. Each of these sites is advertising free.

If I used FaceBook I'd be clogging the tubes to my friends computers with strange photos and offbeat thoughts. They don't need to see that. And I don't want to censor myself. No FaceBook for me.