So I was checking the logs to see where readers of this blog are coming from. The stats plug-in I use for wordpress records stuff like how many hits I get, where they are coming from if following links from other sites, what google and yahoo search terms readers are using to find this site and other stuff. On of the things it records is the ip address of computers that are coming here. The stats page has links to whois for each ip address, so you can see who owns the address. Most of them show comcast or sbc or some other huge isp. Occasionally I will find something interesting though. Like today I found the following ip reading my post on filibustering Sam Alito.
Congrats to one of my other co-workers Cheryl, her husband Rob and the now one day old Ryan Alexander! Better late than never. I’m almost positive they don’t read this or even know about it, but best of luck anyway!
…They pull you back in! I was just talking to one of my colleagues here in the office. Over the weekend he was talking to his cousin who has been out the military for nine years. He just got notice from the defense department that he is being reactivated. He will have two weeks of training to get back in shape, and then another two weeks to learn his new responsibilities. Then he gets shipped out to Iraq. Two weeks to learn what to do there! No wonder the whole situation there is such a cluster fuck. This guy’s wife just had a baby last summer and the poor guy just started a business. As hard as it is to get a business going, it is probably hosed already. All this so shrub’s buddies in Houston can keep get rich and fat at the public trough.
If there is one thing the world doesn’t need it is in-focus images of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. At least not any pictures taken in the last 10 years. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the Rolling Stones. But these guys are getting seriously old. Mick and Keith are both 62 years old now. I don’t want to sound like I am discriminating against old people, I’m not. But although these guys may be in excellent physical shape (they have to be to tour the way the do and go an play their shows 3-4 nights a week), their faces, especially Keith’s is showing the signs of hard living. This guy did a lot of drugs and smoked a lot of cigarettes over the years and it definitely shows on his face. He may be 62, but his face looks a lot worse than most 62 year olds.
I bring this up because the entertainment section of today’s Ann Arbor News (Jan 28, 2006) has a big article on the upcoming Super bowl halftime show which will feature the stones. The top half of the page is dominated by an unfortunately sharply focused image of the glimmer twins that appears to have been taken during their current tour. One look at these two could really scare young children. Frankly I prefer to just listen to the Rolling Stones rather than actually see them anymore.
…This is the time for a filibuster. Samuel Alito has no business being on the Supreme Court. Any judge nominated by George Bush has no business on the court. Finally John Kerry is showing some spine. He and Ted Kennedy are leading a filibuster of the Alito nomination. I urge you to call your senators right now and tell them to support the filibuster. I just called the offices of Sen. Carl Levin and Sen Debbie Stabenow. Sen. Stabenow is supporting the filibuster.
Here are some numbers for the senators from Michigan:
Carl Levin – 202-224-6221
Debbie Stabenow – 202-224-4822
I found this on Digg.com. Earlier today attorney-general Alberto Gonzales, the guy who wrote the memos justifying the Bush administration’s torture policy, spoke to law students at Georgetown University. He was trying to justify the blatently illegal spying on Americans by the NSA and CIA. During the speech some of the students stood up from there seats and turned their backs on Gonzales. In the current environment that is a pretty brave thing to do. Bravo!! to everyone who participated.
During the Detroit Auto Show that just concluded, a Chinese made car was displayed for the first time in North America. Geely “showed off” their 7151 CK. Now there is a name that just rolls off the tongue doesn’t it? Autoblog has an item about it and also some more pictures. Now I haven’t personally seen the Geely, but from the photos I’ve seen, it looks to be about on a par with the products from another Chinese manufacturer that I have seen. When my friends and I saw the vehicles in question we were not terribly impressed, which is putting it charitably. After taking a look around these vehicles I came up with a potential business model for selling Chinese cars in the US. They could just use the modern consumer electronics model.
First a little background information. One of the factors leading to the increase in steel prices in the last few years has been the Chinese buying up all the scrap metal they can get to melt down to make steel. Many of the huge cargo ships bringing cheap stuff to America go back to China carrying scrap metal.
As you may know upwards of 80% of the products sold by Wal-Mart know are sourced from China. Wal-mart specializes in selling cheap crap made in China to people who think they are getting a good deal. Who would provide a better sales outlet for Chinese cars than the home of the $29 dvd player? Now for these kinds of cheap products you generally don’t get much if anything in the way of service. When you buy a cheap piece of consumer electronics and it fails during the warranty period, you take it back to the store where you bought it. Now when you take something back to wal-mart (or target or best-buy or anywhere else) they don’t have a service department like a car dealer where they fix stuff. If the product is defective and still under warranty they take back the bad one and give you another one. You go home with a new device and the bad one gets shipped off to a refurbishment facility. They check it and if it can be easily fixed they do it, and then repackage and sell it as a refurbished unit. If they can’t fix it, they strip out any useful parts and ship it back to the factory for re-cycling and re-use.
So if wal-mart sells Chinese cars, they don’t have build up a service facility like a traditional car dealer. If you have a problem with the car, you take it back, they give you another one and load the broken one on a trailer out back. When the trailer is full it is hauled off to a refurb center. If they can fix it easily, they do, if not they strip it down crush it and ship back to China to make into another car. Wal-mart would make a hefty profit, people would get cheap, marginally reliable cars and the last high paying manufacturing jobs in this country would be gone forever. Of course the flaw in this plan is that once the good paying manufacturing jobs are gone no one hear will be able to afford even these cheap cars.
Besides the issue of contributing to the continued decline of the US manufacturing base, there is also the issue of the “quality” of Chinese made cars. My exposure to Chinese cars has shown them so far to be very poorly made and not very durable. From what I have seen, many of these cars would have a very hard time making it through one winter on Michigan roads. The potholes on our roads would eat these cars alive. However, I wouldn’t expect that situation to last for long. There was a time when Korean made cars were similarly shoddy and Hyundai now regularly tops the quality surveys. So we had better be wary about what we buy and from whom. We need a government that is serious about ensuring that we have fair trade, not just free trade. As a population we also need to pay attention to the real price that we pay for all the cheap stuff that we always seem to want to accumulate. Pay now or pay a lot more later. Be afraid, be very afraid.
Watching TV ads in the US is generally tedious at best if not downright annoying. Half of the time you can’t even figure out what the hell they are trying to sell. On the other hand ads from other parts of the world are often brilliant. A couple of years ago Honda UK did an amazing ad for the European version of the Accord. I’ve got it archived somewhere and I will put it up when I find it. In the meantime check out this ad for the new Civic.
I’ve bought a some great new music in the past couple of weeks. I picked up Severed by Munk. Munk has kind of Nine Inch Nails feels to it. I heard Munk on Accident Hash and a few other podcasts. Earlier this week I also heard Edison Rocket Train on The Rock and Roll Geek Indiecast. Their sound is mix of delta blues and garage rock. You can get both of them from emusic.com. I love finding all this great new music from podcasts.