Dublin Saab

Cars, politics, sports and what not from my view. (Closed Sundays and Holidays)

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Car Review: Peugeot 407

Model: 2005 Peugeot 407S
Price as tested: £15,575 ($29,500)
Drive Train: 1800cc I4, FWD, 5 speed manual

Exterior: Sporting. From a few angles the large low egg-crate grill has a bit too much presence. Okay, from a lot of angles it has too much presence but the car generally has a rather aggressive stance, especially for a large family sedan. The 407 could have done a little better in its grade if I either weren’t an American or they hadn’t borrowed so much from the Dodge Stratus for the nose. A solid B.

Big low grill and a bit on the Stratus side.Posted by Hello

Interior: Generally conservative. Seats were a little on the firm side but livable. The big problem is that I know who the Cheap Plastic Makers Association is now selling their wares to as GM moves towards better materials. Even Helen mentioned that the plastics looked cheap. Then there’s the buttons. Oh boy. They might have been worse than those on a mid 90’s Cavalier. I would expect more for a car in this price range. The ergonomics sucked but then that’s to be expected since the only thing they do for RHD cars is move the steering wheel over. It gets a C.

White faced dials can't hide cheap materials.Posted by Hello

Handling: Adequate. A little too soft for my tastes but not too offensive in either direction. Took road bumps in stride but wanted to list if pushed into turns. Still it’s a big family car. If the US spec Accord is the target then it gets a B.

Performance: Abysmal. Again this is not a small car. Cars in Europe have been undergoing the same increase in size as cars in the US have over the last 20 years. The last Peugeot sold in the US was the 405, and it might be smaller than a new Civic. The 406 was noticeable bigger and the new 407 bigger still. This thing is the size of a US Spec. Accord (I parked next to a Euro Spec Accord/Acura TSX and the 407 is bigger) and weights in at 3,250 lbs. That’s fine if it wasn’t for the fact that the engine is still stuck in 1985. At 1.8 liters producing 117hp (120 lb/ft torque) the car is a complete dog. I could go into great detail about just how slow it is but I only have so much time. In all honesty I think it’s a 10+ second car on 0-60. Grade? F.

It doesn't look too inspiring does it?Posted by Hello

Radio: Buggy. It would change the CD track, change from CD to radio, change radio stations and volume all by itself. At one point it was so bad we turned the stereo off and it simply turned itself back on. Oh, and as a bonus the sound quality stunk as well. F-, if there is such a thing.

Wheels: Confusing. This only got attention due to the fact that I blew a tire and had to pay $205 to replace it but I have to ask just what in the hell is a 117hp non-sporting family sedan doing with 17 inch tires? It did have a full size spare but since that “emergency doughnut” thing is pretty much a North American phenomenon it curries no favor with me. Yet another F.

They do still make super tiny cars in Europe. This isn't one of them.Posted by Hello

Overall: D. I now know exactly why Peugeot left the US market over a decade ago and why they aren’t going to come back any time soon.


After a 9 year court battle Carl Murphy has been awarded £567,000 ($1,077,000) for injuries he sustained while attempting to break into a warehouse. In England justice isn’t blind, it’s left on holiday.

Dean has the answer

So according to Dr. Dean the reason the Democrats lost in ’04 is that they are too smart to be understood by the average American while the “brain-dead” Republicans can with their simple messages. Right. So people didn’t vote for Bush because they thought he was better than Kerry. No sir. They voted for Bush because Kerry was too smart for them to understand and was always talking above their heads.

Sigh. I doubt the Democrats chances of getting back in power so long as their leadership thinks they are too smart for the rest of us.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

England - Scotland 2005, Part I

March 19th, 2005
The drive up from London was smooth with the exception of one large slowdown near Birmingham. The 180 miles took about 3:15 which considering the speed limit is 70 isn’t all that good but then considering how bad it can be to get out of London it’s rather good.

Driving on the wrong side again.Posted by Hello

Today we drove over to Chester to check it out as a place for family to visit during the wedding visit. Lovely drive with blue sunny skies and temps in the low 60’s. Spotted a Bentley Continental GT, a TVR, 3 mint TR6’s, a Ferrari F360, a Lotus 7 and what looked an awful lot like the new Ford GT40. Almost too much sensory input.

Busy Chester from the walls.Posted by Hello

Chester is a nice little town packed with people, shopping and history dating back to it’s Roman founding. After Chester we went to Beeston Castle. The fortress was built in 1225 and is mostly in ruins today… but what a view.

At Beeston about the only thing left is the view.Posted by Hello

The place is built atop a 800ft crag that dominates the lower countryside. It’s a bit of a trek to get to the top but well worth it. After Beeston we headed back to Knutsford for a pint. Along the way, as I traveled down a narrow rural Cheshire road, I paid for a sin that occurred in Somerset 6 years earlier when I lightly glanced a curb and blew out the side wall on the front passenger side tire.

I guess after the miracle of '99 I had this coming.Posted by Hello

At least the POS Peugeot had a full-size spare tire. After that interruption we missed the pub and spent the entire evening on wedding planning. Total trip miles – 242.


The trip was an overall success as we were able to accomplish all that we need in preparation for the wedding, including obtaining the all important marriage certificate. However, getting there and back was a bit of a challenge.

First Leg: Columbus to Boston.
We arrive at CMH at 4pm for a 5:25pm flight, plenty of time for little Port Columbus International Airport. We check in and get through security fine. At 5:10 I notice there’s no plane at our gate. 5:25 and still no plane. At 5:30 they announce the plane is delayed arriving (Oh?) and we should be on our way at 5:55. That prediction proves correct and foreboding.

Second Leg: Boston to London
We land at BOS at 7:47, giving us 43 minutes to make our connecting flight. I’d like to tell you that we made it with so much time to spare we stopped for a cup of tea but Boston Logan’s no place for fairy tales. Our luggage is being directly transferred but we have to go to the British Airways ticket counter to get our boarding passes and then get security screened a second time. However by the time we get to the gate, transfer (by bus) to the correct terminal and find the BA counter it’s 8:05, leaving us 25 minutes till our plane leaves. Anyone familiar with BA’s time rules knows that is 35 minutes too late. Fuck. BA wants to put us on tomorrow nights flight. Double fuck. After explain to them I have to have a stamp on my visa that says the 18th or the Registrar’s office won’t give us the certificate and the entire point of the trip is moot they get us on the early morning flight but want us to pay for the ticket since it’s not their fault we missed the flight. Fuckers. We now go back to Delta and after 2 hours and only one altercation where I lit into the Delta rep have a confirmed seat on BA238 at 8:15am, hotel accommodations and a voucher for breakfast. So I can no say I have been in Boston for St. Paddy’s day. The next day we are in line at the BA ticket counter at 5:50am and everything goes smoothly. A nice legible stamp on my visa and welcome to England Mr. Dinger.

In a side note this was to be my first 747 flight but for the 3rd time “something” happened. The morning BA238 was a 777, foiled again.

Third Leg: London to New York, JFK
Get to LHR with plenty of time to spare. Get to the ticket counter and what normally takes 30 seconds is dragging on and on. After about 10 minutes and 4 phone calls by the BA rep I ask what’s up. She then proceeds to sheepishly tell us that since we missed the over night flight that BA had cancelled our return tickets and she was franticly trying to find us room on the plane. Helen gets livid and finishes with, “I guess since we flew on a BA flight a few hours later they assumed we where moving to England?” The rep just gives a look and goes back to searching. After about 25 minutes we are back on the flight but 9 rows apart. Helen’s between several skinny babbling teenagers while I get penned in between several large older ladies who never said a word. Plane leaves on time and arrives at JFK 5 minutes early.

In a side note this was my first flight in a 747. A bit anti climatic but I did get to “check” that box while the 747 is still king of the skies.

Fourth Leg: JFK to Columbus (eventually)
We get off the BA 747, go through immigration, get our bags and go through Customs without a hitch. Get to the correct terminal for Delta 6373, get to the ticket counter and get our boarding passes. Our boarding passes say “Seat Request”. We ask and the Delta rep tells us that we’ll get a seat number at the gate. Right. The rep at the gate tells us with a bit of disinterest that we have been “bumped”. Mother Fuckers. He tells us our options are to wait and see if someone with a seat no shows. We wait. No luck. The two of us and a young mother with a 6 month old are left off the flight. However! Our luggage was not bumped and is enroot to Columbus. This is the same for the mother. The guy at the ticket counter is telling her she has to wait until 8pm tomorrow for the next flight. She starts by explaining that almost all of her baby stuff is on flight, he interrupts with “it’s tomorrows flight or nothing” and she counters with , “What the fuck am I supposed to do with a kid, 2 diapers and ½ a bottle for 24 hours!?” She then starts to really dig into the guy. We get to a Delta rep a few doors down and start by telling him he had better be more imaginative than tomorrow’s 8pm flight to CMH. He offers a flight to Cinncy connecting to CMH. We are okay with that. He then tells us that is leaves in 20 minutes.

“It leaves when?”
“In 20 minutes.”
“Oh, and from what terminal?”
“Terminal 2”
“Nice, and we are currently in terminal?”
“Yes. So you are offering a flight that leaves now from a different terminal. I tell you what, you can print those boarding passes and deal with me after I ran and missed the plane because I will come back here looking for you, Jawuan, or you can keep looking.”

After a few minutes we have a 6:55 to CVG (cinncy) connecting to CMH from the terminal we are currently in and as it’s currently 5:45 we accept. The flight is to arrive in CVG at 8:10 where we are to sit until 11:20 for the flight to CMH. I make a few calls and have my folks enroot to pick us up in CVG and drive us to CMH to get our luggage and the car. Things seem set and in motion.

Meanwhile earlier in the day someone snuck a gun past the security in CVG and the airport was closed for 3 hours.

So thanks to that and lousy weather the 6:55 to CVG doesn’t take off until 8:25. Yay! Now about the flight, I’d have to say the crew did an excellent job of dealing with the passengers and the constant turbulence. It was not a smooth flight. I hate flying. I hate turbulence. At one point the captain put it to the passengers for a vote. We could fly around to get out of the turbulence adding 45 minutes to the flight or we could push through. The vote was 36-2. We pushed on through and landed on time, that is on time relative to our late departure. As we began our dissent the cabin crew person took the purses and other things and locked them up to ensure nothing would be flying around for what the captain had assured us would be a "rough going" for the dissent. However, it turned out to be the smoothest part of the flight. Thank God. Met the folks and they drove us up to the Columbus airport. It was 12:30am, 20 minutes after our flight from CVG was to have been there. I looked at the screen. The flight still hadn’t left CVG yet so we still won that race. Got our luggage, the car and home at 1:15am.

By the time my head hit the pillow it was 2am which meant I have been up for 48 hours. But that is another story.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Forcast calls for Rain.

We’re off to the ‘shire (Cheshire to be exact) this afternoon. We’ll be gone 10 days but most of that will be spent in appointments getting things set for the wedding. Yay! We are going to steal away for a couple days in Edinburgh which looks like will be our vacation for the year. I was hoping to get a post on Clarett’s crashing and burning during the NFL Combines before we left but with a few hours left it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. So, you’ll have that to look forward to while I have my first flight in a 747 to anticipate. Till then.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Final Paper

NOTE: I may tweak this in the morning but it's more or less what I'll be turning in.

Marx’s Plan

The 19th century was a heady time for great minds in the West to become social visionaries. It was a time of societal change unseen since the days when humanity first began to domesticate plants and animals. With the industrial revolution having effectively wiped clean away the ancient agrarian society of the past that, a few generations earlier, had seemed as permanent as the stars, philosophers sprouted up in all corners trying to envision the new order yet to come. Among the crowd of thinkers one of the most influential, if not the most, is Karl Marx. His vision of the communist utopia to come had the effect of ending dynasties and building empires. Yet for all the achievement accomplished in the name of his vision there is little left today beyond mass graves and a small cadre of believers. The failure of his plan and his followers has to be the continual denial of human nature.

At a time of great upheaval the feel good rhetoric of the Communist Manifesto, its call to arms and claims of power for the oppressed, fell on many receptive ears. The testament to the power of its inspiring nature is that today, even after the fall of communism’s once mighty empire, people can still become enchanted by the message. For those who read the words of Marx the question of where or not they become new members of the faith rests solely on how strongly they are swayed by the rhetoric of his writing.

It should be abundantly clear to someone from today that, “neither capitalism nor the working class has developed as Marx anticipated” and this alone should give one pause before jumping in too deeply (Aronson 59). When someone creates a plan for a new society and then becomes so demonstrably wrong in how that society will come into existence we need to take a critical look at the plan itself, no matter how good it makes us feel. That critical eye should then be focused on the lynch pin of Marx’s plan, human nature.

Putting aside the “spin” the entirety of the communist system, as envisioned by Marx, can be boiled down to ten separate points. But these points are not merely my interpretation of the system. Marx himself, at the end of the second part of the Manifesto states, “Nevertheless, in the most advanced countries, the following will be pretty generally applicable.”(Marx 75). At which point he then highlights the list of ten core things that must take place for the communist system to work. With a look at only a few of the core points we can begin to see that Marx’s stance on human nature leads to an absurd utopian vision without the need to troll the rest of the screed for fodder such as his call for the, “abolition of the family”(Marx 71).

In the first of his ten points Marx calls for the, “Abolition of property in land and the application of all rents of land to public purposes”(Marx 75), which in short means the state owns everything but you still have to pay rent. For Marx the inability to own land is a good thing. He thinks that without the influence of the bourgeois in society that people would naturally prefer to pay rent for housing that they can never ever have any hope of owning.

The second point calls for “a heavy progressive or graduated income tax” (Marx 75) which on the surface seems benign, after all we have a graduated income tax here in the US today. However in detail, what he is calling for is a very low salary cap. The tax rates would be setup so that no matter your income everyone gets the same amount. Sound fair? Let’s compare the ER surgeon with the stoner pizza delivery guy. The stoner, who may or may not have finished high school, works a few nights a week spending most of his massive free time playing Play Station and getting “baked”. The surgeon spent decades in a serious and demanding education system so that he can work 60+ hour weeks in a highly stressful environment. While it is true that here in our market economy the surgeon gets handsome recompense we still have a shortage of doctors. If we have a shortage now, how can you hope to get anyone to become a doctor if the most they can hope for is the exact same rewards as the pizza guy? Simple, the state monitors young students and one day informs then that they are going to medical school. Again for Marx in the new society free of the oppression of class structure people would rather have the state tell them what to do.

In the sixth point Marx states that the communist system will need, “centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the state”(Marx 75). For Marx freedom of movement and communication are nothing more than bourgeois tricks. In the new order people will be quiet happy allow the state to control whom they talk with and where they can go. In that lies true freedom.

One of the more insidious of his proposals is the call for the, “equal obligation of all to work”(Marx 75) in the eighth point. Which, like many of his proposals sound reasonable on the surface, would have, had it been in practice in the US in the 1840’s, put Henry David Thoreau into prison for life. It’s one thing to say that everyone should do an honest day’s work and something altogether different to compel, by force, everyone to work. Do we want to replace the words on the statue of Liberty reading, “Give me your tired…” with, “Arbeit Macht Frei”?

Simply put, for Marx, human nature is nothing more than a mirage. It’s just our current world view and can be easily altered. In Marx’s plan the destruction of the ruling, “bourgeois” class leads irrevocably to the creation of a communist system. This is possible because in the plan there is no basic human nature. Our actions, thoughts and desires are what the ruling class wants us to think. It’s this view of human nature that is the foundation upon which the entire plan of communism rests, and that without collapses. Even the most hardened Marxist will agree that if Marx was wrong on human nature then the plan gets chucked in the bin which is why today, 157 years after the Manifesto was published, modern Marxists make such a point of defending the Marx’s denial of human nature. The Marxists group Youth For International Socialism (YFIS) makes great pains to prove that “so-called human nature” is nothing more than a facet of a peoples “world view”.

In order to illustrate their point the YFIS go to the world of art and shows us how art has changed through the ages and is different from culture to culture. In that it has changed and does vary they are correct. However they then make the leap of logic that since humans do produce many different works of art ergo, there is no underlying human nature. They, and Marx, make a seductive argument that humanity can be easily altered by trying to merge human nature and world view into one malleable outlook. But lacking the genius and power of Marx’s pen they have gone to the world of art to prove themselves and in doing so they have, to be blunt, chosen poorly.

There is nothing in existence that more fully shows the truth of human nature than the art that we produce. For starters if the YFIS is correct then what are the statistical odds that all cultures in all different places and times would produce works of art? If so, how can a Westerner be moved by African tribal art? If so, why did 20th century Japanese film master Akira Kurosawa translate 16th century Shakespearean plays into Japanese settings? If so, then why do we still listen to the stories told by an ancient blind Greek? Surely we don’t share the same “world view” as the prehistoric Greeks and Trojans yet we can identify with the greed of Agamemnon, the anger of Menelaus, the pride of Achilles, the love of Hector and the sorrow of Priam. That we can so easily relate to the story of a people so far removed from us today should be self evidence of the existence of an underlying human nature but do not expect those like the YFIS to concede this. They will not, can not, concede any ground on the subject of human nature for to do so is to bring to an end their belief in Marx’s grand plan.

In a way, even with his controversial views and the failure of the governments that tried to create his system, it is utterly impossible to prove Marx was wrong. Any modern day Marxists will quickly counter with claims like, Marxism has yet to be “properly” implemented, capitalism “will” collapse or to point out that you have been so thoroughly fooled that you really believe in “human nature”. The hindsight history offers us rather than cause the modern Marxist to reevaluate the plan instead drives them further in their “messianic eschatology”(Munck 6).

It is Marx’s view on human nature that leaves his entire plan untenable. It led to his mistaken belief in the imminent collapse of capitalism. It led to his erroneous prediction that industrialization would led to a stratification of society into two vastly separated classes. His denial of human nature allowed him to develop a utopian plan that the likes of Mao, Stalin and Pol Pot would be able to use as justification for the extermination of millions. Should their sins be laid at his feet? Not entirely. Marx wasn’t a monster. He really did have the best intentions and truly wanted to make the world a better place. Unfortunately, good intentions aren’t enough. In the end Marx’s great error was that by discounting human nature as nothing more than a variable equation he removed humanity itself from his vision.

Works Cited

Aronson, Ronald Farewell to Marxism. New York: The Gilford Press, 1995.

Marx, Karl. The Communist Manifesto. New York: Signet Classic, 1998.

Munck, Ronaldo. Marx @ 2000. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000.

Youth For International Socialism. What About “Human Nature”?. FAQ on
Defending Marx.

Coming up on things.

Been a busy last few days which I am only now getting a break from. Two engineering finals and one in electrical theory and for a good chunk of today finishing my final paper for English. Add to that getting things ready for our “Marriage Certificate” trip and time for blogging or even reading the normal internet crap has been severely cut.

But I’ll get a few things before take off.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Way to go guys!

There hasn’t been much to cheer about for me regarding the Ohio State men’s squad over the last few years. That’s partially due to the fact the basketball team doesn’t play football but a big chuck has been poor performance and scandal. Looking at this year with no top talent and a team facing a post season ban thanks to coach O’Brian giving money to a player it fair to say expectation for the new coach Thad Matta where low.

Rare event: Fans celebrate big men's basketball win.Posted by Hello

However he has managed to guide the Buckeyes to 19 wins this year including a defeat of #1 and until then unbeaten Illinois over this weekend. If it weren’t for the post season ban there’s a good chance they’d get into the NCAA but if not a guaranteed spot in the NIT. The team deserves a hearty slap on the back for doing well but I remember thinking great things of O’Brian after his first year when he took OSU to the Final Four. So the question is will OSU improve next year or is Thad going to be a one hit wonder too?

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Fourth Smourth

Police roadside DUI checkpoints are nothing less than a complete infringement of the government on our 4th Amendment right to be, “secure in our persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures” (emphasis added). These checkpoints are held year round throughout our nation and in every one of them law abiding citizens find themselves detained by the police, accused of an unlawful activity and then forced to prove their innocence before being allowed to continue on to their destination.

It is flatly impossible to reconcile this act to the Constitution outside of the confines of an edict of Marshall Law. The defenders of these “DUI”, “sobriety”, “safety” or whatever they wish to call them, checkpoints have to fall back on twisted numbers, the ambiguous public good and a miss reading of the government – citizen relationship to try and justify the abuse of power. Regardless of the claimed good from these checkpoints the basis for all of them comes from the courts opinion that the 4th Amendment stops once you are in a car. They have the view that driving is a “privilege” and therefore we have no rights to constitutional protection. They say driving is a privilege that the state can take at any time. Nuts.

Ve vant to zee your papers!Posted by Hello

Driving is no more a “privilege” then is hunting, fishing or owning a business. In all four you must show proof of having the needed requirements to the government, drivers training, gun safety, or the myriad of requirements for a vendors license and in each case once you have met these requirements you then have the right to obtain the license. The state doesn’t come into Nationwide and frisk everyone looking for something on the basis that having a vendor’s license is a privilege bestowed on you at the merciful largess of the state and while you are at work you have no Constitutional protections yet somehow manages to get by with this in regards to drivers licenses. Of all the requirements and paperwork I went through when I obtained my drivers license I don’t remember one of them beginning a voluntary waving of my Constitutional rights. That I am correct in this is proven by the fact that police departments are required to post the time, date and location of future checkpoints thereby creating a Constitutional loophole and at the same time completely defeating the supposed purpose of the stops.

In a recent evening long checkpoint in Bluffton SC, where cars were backed up 25 deep, a total 9 arrests where made but not a single one was for DUI. Where have all the drunks gone? Well they can just avoid that stretch of road can’t they. Road checkpoints are in infringement of our rights and an ineffectual waste of government resources. Either we throw out the Constitution and allow the police to stop everyone all the time for any reason, in the name of public safety of course, or we should realize that our cars qualify as an “effect” as stated by the framers and not a black hole of liberty.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Goings on

Finals, Helen back from Sri Lanka, final paper and an addiction to the new Napster have kept me from posting. I should have something this week, I hope.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

DNC Chair: "Republicans evil"

Since Dean's installing as the new DNC chair I have heard a lot in his defense. Mostly people saying that is reality he was a very moderate governor while running Vermont and it's only the vast right-wing conspiracy that has labeled him as a "radical". If so then what to make of this? The Lawrence Journal-World is quoting Dean as saying, "This is a struggle of good and evil. And we're the good." in reference to the struggles between the Democratic and Republican parties in the US.

So then it's "moderate" Democrats that consider Republican's evil? If so how can we except there to be any reasoned dialog in congress? After all you don't negotiate with evil people, you simply subvert them.