Archive for the ‘cars’ Category

Guilty – even with no crime

February 21, 2007

Hi Grit

I thought that we in the UK were the one who had to be concerned about being guilty until we can prove ourselves innocent, but it seems from a report I read today that your lawyers and justice departments are taking this theory to the next level, that being guilty even if no crime has been committed.

The case concerns one of your actors, Daniel Baldwin. It seems that he was given the keys to a friends car by a relative who omitted to tell the friend. Mr Smith, unaware the care had been borrowed, reported it stolen and Baldwin was subsequently arrested and bailed. According to Mr Baldwin’s lawyer, Mr Smith will vouch that it was all a mistake.

However, the reason I was surprised about this case is that when everyone turned up in court, Mr Smith included, they all expected the matter to be dealt with and dismissed. This did not happen. Despite Mr Smith willing to testify the district attorney was not prepared to dismiss the case. Am I a little behind the times here or what? If there is no case to answer, what purpose is being served in the district attorney refusing it to be settled? Thus, at this time, the DA is pressing ahead with the charges against Mr Baldwin for a crime that he could not possibly have committed because their was no crime to answer in the first place! This procedure is even tougher than ours in the UK, and I would not have thought that possible.

Mind you, it could be worse, he could get sent to prison yet for a crime he did not commit because no crime too place to begin with, if you understand my logic.

the Brit 

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Robot Road Race, a must see!

February 20, 2007

Hi Brit,

I’ve seen documentaries on stuff like this before, and it is most cool!  Urban road race to test limits of robotic cars  When I get any info on when and what channel it will be shown on, I’ll post it.  If anyone beats me to the information, please share!

the Grit

87,000 reasons liberals suck!

February 14, 2007

Hi Brit,

While I generally have a poor opinion of labor unions, I have an even lower opinion of liberals.  Here, DaimlerChrysler says ‘no option excluded’ in Chrysler revamp, we have a story that breaks my heart.  On one hand, the over paid union workers of the American auto industry have been, for decades, the backbone of financial support for the Democratic Party, whether the workers wanted things to be that way or not.  Now, because of the shift of the ruling liberals to supporting eco-fanatics, our auto industry is being left high and dry.  Typical do-gooder mentality, not caring how many they hurt in their effort to save the world.  The really sad part is that, those 87,000 newly unemployed workers are probably so uninformed that they will spend their copious amounts of recently acquired free time campaigning for the very politicians who cost them their jobs.

the Grit

Stupid liberals!

February 11, 2007

Hi Brit,

I was reading this, Hybrid-Only Car Service Launches in San Francisco, and it hit me as to just how stupid liberals are, as a general rule.  The key point in this is that, according to the story, the idea is to make rich people flying into Nanny Pelosi’s home town feel better by taking “green” transportation around town, after dumping untold tons of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere while flying in a fuel waisting jet.  Then I read the details, and was shocked.  Keep in mind that the article is tainted with the usual liberal bias, even though it does throw in a tiny hit about the jet travel thing, but it also includes, “with a fleet of leather-seated Priuses.”  I’m sure that the reporter, not knowing squat about Global Warming, didn’t think twice about this.  However, the secondary part of the Climate Change Conspiracy, the one that really gets the radical liberals frothing at the mouth over its potential for bringing about social change, is the implication of cow farts in heating up the globe.  That would, of course, be the methane content in the massive flatulence produced by our bovine food supply, which is an excuse for left wing groups to insist everyone turn vegetarian.  Thus the paradoxical nature of a “green” car with leather seats.  Oh, well, I am assuming that the leather was produced from cow hide and not Jews, but that is most likely a safe assumption.

the Grit

Look before you leap.

February 5, 2007

Hi Brit,

One of my favorite sayings is, “look before you leap.”  In this instance, the Environmental do-gooders in Europe should have taken this advice, Seeing Red: Palm Oil Biodiesel.  As it turns out, the rush to move to alternative “green” fuels in the EU, has caused massive damage to the ecosystem in Indonesia and Malaysia.  Next time, read the label.

By the way, I’ve added this blog to our reading list.

the Grit

Global Warming 2007

February 4, 2007

Hi Grit

I believe our first post on the issue of Global Warming was getting on for three months ago. Since then I have participated a few times and read with interest all of the comments from both sides of the divide, along with studying all of the literature that people who have commented have posted have directed us towards. I hasten to add here that I am not a scientist, so there are aspects that I would not understand. However, I consider myself an intelligent person capable of assimilating sufficient data and making a reasoned judgement. Therefore, I feel that I have a reasonable understanding of the issues so far made available. A rider to this of course is that, in view of the enormous amount of data on the subject, both for and against, it is impossible for any one individual, scientists included, to be able to assimilate it all and I would be no exception to that rule.

I do not intend this post to become embroiled in detailed scientific argument, as that will produce just a series of scientific counter arguments from both sides. It is my intention to comment on the structure and management of the analysis and the way the global warming issue is being handled.

1.) IPCC REPORT
With the IPCC report being published this month (February 2007) and it being one of a series being produced this year, many are claiming that this puts beyond doubt all of the global warming issues, particularly with regard to this being a “man-made” phenomena. However, whilst I accept that global warming exists, there are several factors that I would take issue with, both in terms of the report itself and the general reaction.

My first point of concern here is the secret nature of parts of the process building up to the report issue. In letters to Governments and Organisations in December and October 2006, although having made these letters public, they have deleted text within them, which appears to be access to the draft report. This raises two issues. Firstly, as the report is intended to benefit all of mankind, why is there a need for withholding any information? Secondly, does one presuppose that, by virtue of some deletions there could be changes of significance that the IPCC would rather the public did not see? In my view, transparency in this above all issues facing mankind is of paramount importance. Anything less is unacceptable.

Terminology
(Un)Certainty – In a document issued in July 2005, the IPCC issued guidance notes regarding the ways the lead authors should address uncertainty. It could be construed that some of these guidance are of a leading nature as it is asking that all issues to be consistent with the approach determined in the document. Another issue related to this document, which I will come to later is Table 4 – Likelihood Scale (on page 4.)

Consensus – My understanding of the term consensus is that it is the agreement of the majority, after having mitigated the objections of the opposing views. I read somewhere that, in this report it was to be a consensus of 300. I believe this needs more clarification. Bearing in mind that the report was produced by over 2,500 scientists, plus 800 contributing authors, plus 450 lead authors, I have difficulty in equating the consensus of 300 with these figures and feel they need further explanation.

Confidence – The levels of confidence are divided into five sectors, as can be seen on page 3 (table 3) of the summary report. On the other hand, the likelihood scale is divided by seven. In my view, this inequality between the two scales is confusing. Surely, it would have been more rational to have equal divisions on the two scales.

2.) The Response
In a number of areas, the immediate response to the report has not been rational. The hype concentrated on the term moved from “likely” to “very likely.” As you say Grit, the latter term relates to 90% probability. However, this also does not accurately reflect the findings of the report.

On the summary for policymakers, page 3, there is a chart of human influence on trends. The chart lists seven areas of influence under three references. The term “very likely” only appears in two instances. In media and other responses, there is no reference to other aspects of this table. Whilst I do not blame the scientists for this, it does appear that the “powers that be” are guilty of misrepresentation in this instance. Again, this raises suspicions in the minds of the public and questions as to the agenda for the report.

Is it thought that the public is not intelligent enough to understand the full information or was the hype deliberately directed by politicians?

3.) Remedies
It is disappointing to learn that a detailed study on remedies will not be available from the IPCC until later in the year. If, as has been reported, we only have ten years to address this problem, I fail to see any conceivable reason why the research on remedies was not designed to produce results in the same timescale as this current report. Six months or more has been lost. The argument that the scale of the problem has only just been defined does not wash as this report follows on from one that was issued six years ago.

Of the remedies that are being put into action, there are some issues as well. Firstly, there is serious concern regarding the consequences on remedies and cooperation between agencies. The case of Basel in Switzerland as I reported earlier is a classic example. Looking to achieve global warming saving measures, people began drilling into the earth’s surface starting a chain tremor reaction that they cannot possibly control, potentially unleashing more harm than good. How many more projects are being mishandled in this way?

In addition, there is the problem that has been raised regarding the potential danger from energy saving light. Has anyone evaluated the potential future harm of following this route, if not, why not?

Only a few weeks I posed the question how do we know that remedies can be controlled. The above are two obvious examples of that not being the case.

Another contentious issue is nuclear energy. Scientists say that this will go a long way to addressing the global warming issue, and I agree that this is one of the most efficient ways of producing energy. However, it is almost impossible to use this option within a volatile world, where there are countries such as Iran and North Korea who could not be guaranteed to utilise this method for peaceful purposes. Similarly, accidents happen as we saw in Russia, and that can be equally damaging.

In the UK, the go ahead has been given to build two huge wind farms off the coast. All of the reporting on this has concentrated on the benefits, which is admirable. Nevertheless, little has been written about the downside of such action. The effect on the bird life needs to be identified, an area where naturalists have raised concerns. But what about the effect on tides and wave patterns?

Finally, in this section, I would like to ask why existing remedies, which require little cost, are not being used. For example, with the airline issue there is a “greener” fuel available, but is currently only being used in military aircraft. The emission levels are significantly lower than normal aircraft fuel and there is, as I understand it, no cost differential. I have heard that the argument against it is safety, which I find incredible. Are we saying that the lives of the military are of less value than other citizens? If not, take the step and change the fuel.

4.) The Carbon Footprint
Much is being made of the need to reduce the global footprint. However, there seems to be a great deal of double standards in this area. The media, the UK BBC organisation being a case in point, are saying that their contribution is by publishing the issues and that, in some way, this seems to exempt them from responding to the carbon footprint limitations. At the same time, the IPCC, governments and other NGO’s are spending millions of dollars transporting thousands of people to conferences and meetings all over the globe. Yet, these organisations are asking us, airlines, and other sectors to reduce our carbon footprint. Surely, one should lead by example. Whatever happened to the ability to achieve video and Internet conferencing?

There is a lot of pressure being placed upon airlines to cut their carbon footprint, yet unless I have missed it, no one has answered the question of why, in the 24 hours post 9/11 when most air travel was grounded, there was an increase in earth warming for that day. Has anyone analysed what effect reducing the carbon footprint, particularly in air travel, will have in this respect? In other words, has the downside of the equation been quantified?

In my view, one of the largest and most expensive carbon footprints is laid by governments nationally and globally. Yet, we see no clear picture of measures that these people are taking steps to address this. In the UK, politicians are asking us to reduce our carbon footprint, and even putting pressure on the Royal family to do so. All well and good, but what do we see the politicians doing? The answer is very little. Do not ask me to do something unless you are prepared to match it and lead by example Mr Government.

5.) Political
I have to admit that I was amazed at the token gestures made by some governments by calling for an hour without lights. This seems to me to have been counter-productive. Did anyone monitor the results of these actions? As I have said, I am no scientist, but from what little I know the resultant surge from it, with all electrical compliances being switched on again more than counteracts the benefits of the gesture in the first place. Has there been a study made of this and is it a responsible response? Surely, such theatricals should have been left until the position was well known by the public and they could have been advised about the cost.

In respect of the above, the political response is similar in many ways to the media reaction. It is uncontrolled, irrational and without serious thought as to how to present the issue in a way that will generate the right response. The political response between nations is also not harmonious, which does little to engender confidence.

6.) The media Circus
Unfortunately, the media circus has continued, even on the latest event. I watched a news programme in the UK, which was designed purely to entertain the public, rather than get the message across. In this programme, they spend the time passing a copy of the report through screens to reporters in different countries, such as Europe, Australia, India and the US. No attempt is made to explain the message properly.

In addition to the previously mentioned carbon footprint of this situation, I noticed also another problem. The report they were passing was a fake. They were wads of blank paper with just the title cover printed. It was obvious from the reporter’s comments that none of them had read any of the documents and it was just a publicity stunt to show how clever the network was.

Can this be the right approach to what is meant to be a serious matter? I seriously doubt it.

7.) The Cost
Another issue that really annoys me is cost, and here I am talking about the financial side. Every aspect of the global warming issue in terms of conservation and remedies always seems to be followed by additional cost to the individual. What happens to the resultant savings from change? Who gets those?

Leaving aside the dangers of energy efficient light bulbs discussed earlier, one of the main reasons their use is limited is the cost. In the UK, they are over 6 times the price of current bulbs. If politicians and scientists are serious about this issue, then use some of the billions of waste to reduce the cost of remedies to a competitive level. It is a short-term commitment. Then demand will grow and the effective change desired will be achieved with far more speed and fluency. Another example is public transport service. Raising prices and cutting services on what is considered a “greener” method of transport does not seem to me to be an approach that will increase its usage.

Every time someone mentions global warming, it seems to result in the public having to put their hands in their pockets. Is it any wonder that this meets with resistance?

8.) Kyoto Agreement
There have been arguments about the effectiveness of the Kyoto agreement, mainly centring on those countries that have not signed up to it. However, there are countries within the agreement that have not met their targets, such as Canada. Before the world goes off trying to find another agreement, we need to know how effective this one has been, and that information has not been publicly forthcoming.

How many countries met the targets set? What effect has it had on carbon emissions? How much worse would it have been were the agreement not in place? Surely, we are entitled to this information in the public arena. If it has not been effective, even with those countries that signed up, then it is the wrong answer or structure and we need to look for another resolution.

The other matter here is the developing countries, which has still not been properly addressed in my view. All this documentation seems to be indicating that the only way they can help is to deprive themselves of the advances in technology that the developed world has. Is this going to be acceptable to them? I cannot see this being the case. Therefore any agreement needs to take their situation into account, without placing an untenable burden on the developed world. 

9.) Nation, NGO Bashing and fairness
Why is it that every time there is an issue of global importance there is an automatic nation, NGO or business witch-hunt? This posturing does nothing to confirm the validity of the situation, in fact the opposite. The French attack on the US is a prime example. It is almost as if it is just a fight amongst politicians to see who can be top dog, rather than a serious issues that requires global accord. Besides, there are other countries that have taken the same stance as the US, so singling out the big boy on the block is not only unfair, it smacks of this will get me the biggest headline. Countries antagonising each other will lead only to one conclusion, namely that nothing constructive will be done.

Other sectors are also being bashed, in my view sometimes unfairly. Business is always a favourite. Whilst I accept that, in some cases their response is not good on some issues, they are generally responsive to consumer demands. In the case of global warming, it is fair to say that in many cases business is being far more positive in their actions than politicians are. For example, the supermarket industry in the UK is taking active reduction measures, whereas politicians are looking at costly offset programmes, which in the end are second best options.

Similarly, I object to some of the rhetoric and language that is used by the various lobbies on global warming, from both sides of the divide. To call someone a denialist or sceptics because they do not accept ones argument is as bad as calling someone an “eco-nut” for proposing the argument in the first place. Serious issues demand serious discussion and conversation and this requires patience. At present, the stance taken by some scientists and many politicians on the issue of global warming is too dictatorial, dismissive and impatient. All it does is make both sides more entrenched in their views, which is counter-productive.

The problem with a divide of this nature is that both sides lose. Both sides spend so much time attacking the other that they do not a) fully understand the argument of the other and b) do not gain from the potential valid points within the others cases, validity that could be of significance to their own studies.

I do not consider myself a denialist or a sceptic on this issue. However, I am also not going to be sat down and told this is the problem and anyone who disagrees is wrong. I need to understand the full facts supporting the issue, including analysis of assumptions; explanations of provable facts and honest acceptance and discussion on those that cannot be proven. I want risk assessment on all aspects of the issue, including remedies and I want acknowledgement of and discussion regarding opposing views.

As I said previously, one of the things that infuriate me about the current IPCC/Political situation is the piecemeal approach. In my years as a business consultant any report that I produced did not only identify and make conclusions about the problem, it was also required to provide recommendations that had been expertly evaluated. If it did not I was failing in my task. Governments and the scientific world have taken six years to prepare this report. I fail to see why, at the same time, and for publication at the same date, the remedial data could not have been produced.

the Brit

Speaking of Big Brother

February 3, 2007

Hi Brit,

I’m sure y’all have those automated cameras at intersections that take your picture and give you a ticket for running the light, all without the need for human attention.  Well, here’s proof that they don’t work as well as they should, NYC Ticket Says Man Ran Light in Rowboat.  What’s shocking about this incident is that, when the man questioned the ticket, it was dismissed.

Of course, not all police activity is automated, and some of it is high quality work by honest and  dedicated individuals.  Take this for instance, Wis. Police Chief Tickets Himself $235.  I think Chief Knoebel deserves a medal. 

Go Colts!

the Grit

Those crazy environmentalists

February 3, 2007

Hi Brit,

Do you have to be crazy to become an environmentalist, or does being an environmentalist make you crazy?  Either way, this guy fits the bill, Man Accused of Setting Bike Path Traps.  Now, I could understand if this nut job was going after the Dreaded SUV, but I thought the loony left liked bicycles.  What’s going to set them off next, running shoes?

the Grit

Time to get a bicycle.

February 2, 2007

Hi Brit,

Just thought I’d warn you about, Use a mobile… and lose your vehicle.  Actually, after reading the article I think you’d better get a bicycle.  We have a similar, and under reported, law, allowing police to confiscate property they suspect was purchased with money made from drug crimes.  The local police confiscate enough cars to pay their expenses from the resell.  This is the reason one should never carry large amounts of cash over here.  Studies have shown that a high percentage of the currency in circulation has detectable amounts of cocaine on it.  Thus, any given wad of cash will probably set a drug detection dog off and, poof, the police get your money.  Note that there is no trial, no need to show cause, just a suspicion by the officer.  The process to protest the confiscation is a very lengthy and expensive process with no guarantee of success.  Ah, freedom, I do miss it.

the Grit

Celebrities cause climate change!

January 24, 2007

Hi Brit,

While I have suspected this for a while now, finally there’s proof: The private jet set.  Sure, the Rich and Famous talk a fine game, and are quick to tell us common folk not to drive gas guzzling SUVs, but they don’t seem to have any problems zipping around in private jets.  You know, I can’t think of any mode of transportation that belches more CO2 per person mile than a jet.  For that matter, I seem to recall reading that almost all of our Congress people fly home every weekend and back to DC on Monday.  For the Speaker Lady, that’s several thousand high pollution miles.  It makes one wonder just how much of the Global Warming “problem” is actually caused by the very people who are so intent on making us sacrifice to fix it. 

So, I think the first thing Nanny Pelosi should do to prove her sincerity about stopping Climate Change, is to ban private ownership of aircraft.  She should also impose an “air miles” allotment scheme like they’re planning on doing for Carbon emissions.  Then, if the Rich and Famous want to live the jet set life, they’ll have to share some of that wealth.

the Grit

Aren’t you glad you work at home!

January 24, 2007

Hi Brit,

Based on this, Beaten by an inch of snow, I’m guessing you’re very glad you work at home.  It’s even worse here when it snows.  One of my first memories of Memphis was being on the Interstate (I-240) when a few flakes drifted down out of the sky.  In an instant, the speed of traffic dropped from 50 MPH down to 5 MPH as every driver, apparently sharing a psychic link, slammed on their brakes simultaneously.  I had to drive off the pavement to avoid hitting the car ahead of me.  The last time we got a lot of snow during the middle of a work day, there were 300 traffic accidents within the first half hour.  It took me 4 hours to make the 20 mile trip home.  Good luck.

the Grit

Smoking detectives

January 19, 2007

Hi Grit

I have been meaning to respond to your post about smoking  Nazi’s, but needed to check whether I could use the word 🙂

For those who wish to ban smoking in cars over there, they should take a leaf or two out of the UK laws. In a unique application the police can charge parents who are smoking in their cars with mistreatment of the child, or of course failing in their parental duties. With regard to people simply smoking in the car, they can of course be charged with driving without due care. Of course the latter route can also be used for eating, sneezing, singing, changing CD’s and talking to your partner. One can of course be fined and/or jailed for these offences.

Of course this does help those who wish to break the habit of smoking, excess consumption of food, parenting, spreading infectious diseases, vocal abuse and noise excess. The only difficulty, at least for the ladies, is that it will threaten their record of speaking 8,000 words a day.

I assume that we are heading to a situation where unless you have had a recent haircut, manicure, shave and are wearing a shirt and tie, you will not be able to drive at all. By the way, one cannot escape the long eye of the law or blame it on someone else, now that we have face recognition camera traps.

the Brit 

George Michael in trouble again!

January 11, 2007

georgemichael.jpgHi Grit

If George Michael is not in trouble for frequenting toilets, it seems he has to find some other way of getting into court. This time it is being unfit to drive. Apparently, he was recently found semi-conscious at the wheel of his mercedes, which was blocking traffic in North London.

This is not the first time it has happened either. Perhaps he has a fetish for sleeping in cars whilst under the influence.

the Brit

Speaking of car wrecks

December 30, 2006

Hi Brit,

Looks like even more trouble is looming on the horizon of the new year.

Near-future Fords to Feature Windows Automotive 

I’m not sure if you use Windows, but I do, and it’s easy to predict that this is going to give a whole new meaning to the term “car crash.”  It’s also going to cause lots of new problems.  Road side assistance vehicles will have to add a computer repair technician.  Automobile dealers are going to merge with software companies.  Gas stations will need to add high speed Internet connections so customers can get the latest anti-virus updates while filling their tanks.  And you can expect a rash of new traffic accidents when drivers confuse the windshield with the monitor while playing one of those car race games.  It’s madness I tell you, madness!

the Grit