Dublin Saab

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

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Fuel rules and excellence in journalism

This morning while trolling through automotive stories at Yahoo I had to do a double take when I came across two articles, covering the same topic, with headlines that were at complete odds with each other. But first, some back ground.

Back in 1973 – that’s 32 years ago – the US Federal Government instituted rules that, for the first time, dictated a fuel economy standard. These rules, labeled CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) established two separate classes of vehicles, cars and trucks, with each class getting a different target. The rules only applied to vehicles under 8,500 lbs. as those over were classified as industrial / commercial trucks. In essence that system seems okay, however it has a hidden flaw that has lead to a generation of loopholes big enough to drive the proverbial SUV through.

A 1972 Buick Electra, the last time US cars were fully free to drink.

The flaw is that the automakers are the ones who decide what is, or is not, a car or truck. A great illustration of this is the Chrysler PT Cruiser. The PT is built on the same platform as the economy Dodge Neon. It has the Neon’s suspension, the Neon’s transmission and the Neon’s engine. It is merely a Neon in retro styled clothing. So what is this Neon derivative classified as by Chrysler? Why it’s a truck, of course. Why? By classing it as a truck it helps make up for the all those trucks they sell with Hemi V8’s and Viper V10’s and consumers have been lapping up as fast as they come off the lines.

While Chrysler, and the other auto manufacturers are keeping to the letter of the rules they have rendered 32 years of CAFÉ increases useless by cooking the books.

The Crysler PT Cruiser, a small 150hp 4 cyl. truck.

Now Bush is proposing a major change, fundamental reform in fact, in the entire way CAFÉ is run. Gone will be the meaningless and arbitrary car or truck classes and in it’s place will be 6 new classes based on weight. With these new classes the car companies will not be able to play the shell game they have for the last three decades. Chrysler won’t be able to use the Neon based 3,200 lb PT Cruiser in an effort to help out the 6,200 lb Ram 2500 Crew Cab. This should be hailed as a step in the right direction.

Also the new rules will top out at 5 tons so now, for the first time, the Hummer H2, coming in at 8,600 lbs. will no longer be exempt from CAFÉ requirements. This should be cheered as a proper move.

Included in this major reform is a modest increase in the target numbers for all vehicles. With the 8 mpg H2 going from exempt to a class, consisting of only other super heavy vehicles, that must achieve, by 2011, an average of 21.4 mpg, even the most extreme environmentalist, should I think, at the minimum, give a grudging nod that at least it’s a baby step towards utopia.

That is the history, the new rules and my opinion of how they should be viewed. Now on to the dueling headline.

A big RAM that will no longer get help from the little PT.

From the AFP comes the headline; US to raise auto fuel economy standard.

This article is a great example of lazy reporting. The writer puts in a few pro quotes, a few anti quotes, sprinkles in just a dash of numbers and wraps it all up as informative news. But what information does it give? The Bush administration supports their own proposal? That’s not news. Leftist watermelons (green on the outside and red on the inside) are against the Bush proposal? Again, not news. As for information on the new rules there’s simply not enough to provide any knowledge of what the rule actually are, allowing the reader to make up their own mind.

I had to spend over and hour, reading multiple sources and then finally going to government website to get the skinny on the rules. Laziness in journalism is, in my view, the number one cause that the MSM (Main Stream Media) is faced for why it’s “readership” numbers keep going down.

And for the second, competing headline, we go to the Guardian for; Bush drive to save fuel fails to include cars and SUV’s.

This article is raw bias. It starts out with a lie, that the Hummer H2 would not be included, and continues from there to pretty much present only one side of the issue and then finishes with a sad story of a store owner dying during a “drive off”.

The writer of the Guardian tries to make the connection that high gas prices are to blame for this man’s death and since Bush is to blame for the high gas prices – and who’s new proposals fail to make any improvement – is therefore responsible. Whatever. People, sadly, have been driving off ever since the invention of the self-serve pump. People drive off after putting a scant $2 in their cars. As for the store owner, Mr. Caddi, well, he shouldn’t have grabbed onto a speeding car. The person that drove off and ran him over is reprehensible and guilty of murder but still, trying to stop a car with your body is both stupid and not really germane to the new CAFÉ rules.

What is the point of this “news article”? Inform the readers and allow them to determine their own thoughts? I think not.

But I hope I have succeeded where the journalists have failed. I would like to think that you can, with these links, make up your own mind, which seems to be something the AFP doesn’t care about and that the Guardian truly wishes to avoid.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Truth in HP

This is intriguing. The SAE (Society of American Engineers) has decided to make changes to the manner in which horse power ratings are calculated. This is the second time they have made such a change. The first time was 30 years ago when they went to “gross” rating to real or “net” ratings. This change, combined with new emission and CAFÉ regulations meant that a big 1970 Buick with a rating of 325hp had morphed into a big 1980 Buick with a rating of 140hp. My 1983 Delta had a 5.0L V8 and was rated at 140hp. Those were dark times.

Today many normal cars are approaching the same numbers as the monsters of the late 60’s with “net” ratings. The horse power war has heated up so much that a 2006 Chevy Impala SS will hit 60mph in a scant 5.7 seconds. Twenty years ago only Lamborghinis, Ferraris and the nutty Buick Grand National could get to 60 that fast. Oh no, I’m bunny trailing.

Okay, so it is in the midst of this great hp war that the SAE has made a change. The change is to remove an area in the math that can lead to “interpolation”, which means simply that manufacturers can fudge the numbers.

This gets to the intriguing bit, it seems that Japanese makers have consistently been over reporting hp numbers, sometimes drastically as in the case of the Toyota Camry 3.0l V6 which was reported as 210hp but is really only 190hp, while the Americans have been under billing their numbers, also sometimes drastically as in the Cadillac XLR which was reported as 440hp but is really cranking out 469hp.

I think it's too much to a merely be a coincidence. Perhaps if it was 60/40 or even 75 / 25 but no, the Japanese were over billing pretty much everything while the Americans were under mining their product. There has to be some kind of cultural thing at work here but I sure don’t know much about the Japanese (other than they’ll eat anything) to hazard a guess.

How long can you stay top dog with these numbers?

Anyway his could help eat away at the seeming invincibility of the Japanese as they have lost their edge on quality and now will be telling the truth about their under powered products.

BOTD: Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen

After a short vacation the wheat beers are back. This time we have a sampling from the world’s oldest brewery, Weihenstephaner, which was founded in 1040. No, that’s not a misprint; it was founded in the damn early middle ages. 26 years before William the Bastard sent forth to stake a claim on the English crown, 55 years before the First Crusade and 879 years before the Prohibition. They are a 965 year old brewery and as of now I fully plan on attending their 1,000th anniversary, sure I’ll be 68 but no way I’m missing the party.

After nearly 10 centuries they seem to have the bugs worked out.

Now for the beer. Their hefeweizen is a proper bottle conditioned wheat with all the ensuing cloudiness and yeast residue one would expect. This is a beer that must breath a little before drinking and should never be had right from the bottle. The nose and taste is a perfect balance of hops, citrus and spice. This is the standard by which all other weizens are measured, and fail to reach.

Brewery: Weihenstephaner
Year: 1040
Origin: Holy Roman Empire (Modern day Germany)
Style: Hefeweizen
Content: 5.4%
Rating: Proof of God’s existence.
Recommendation: If you don’t like it there’s something wrong with you.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Same old same old

It’s to the point I am starting to get bored with the clock-work predictability of the MSM (Main Stream Media – for you folks in Upper Tilton). The latest in their “objective” reporting regarding the whole Cindy Sheehan mess is a near carbon copy of the Swift Vet’s story from this time last year, and it’s all about a glaring double standard.

When the Swift Vets brought their accusations against Kerry the MSM did a full court press to investigate the group, try to find connections to either the RNC or White House and generally attempted to discredit the group. Their actions regarding the Swifties are in and of themselves fine, in fact it’s good to know the ties of any political group. However, there is a “but”, and that is that in addition to the Swifties there was a second group of Vets, only they supported Kerry. How did the MSM handle them? By acting horrified that anyone would stoop so low as to question the motives of a veteran.

There are 1800 mothers, who like Cindy Sheehan, have lost a child in Iraq. The vast majority of them still support the effort that their children gave their lives for. For the last two years the MSM has not reported a single one of their stories. When pressed on this the collective response has been along the lines that it would be inappropriate to intrude on a family and put them under the spot light over their personal tragedy. That is a find stand to take but it seems to have all gone out the window once a “gold star mother” showed up who hates Bush. Gone is the respect for the family and in its place is a media circus. Mean while for those who question her motives the same accusation awaits as did last year. The MSM gets on it’s imaginary moral high horse and acts shocked that someone could be so rotten as to dare question a Gold star mother.

The double standard is this; If we agree with you then we will present you as being beyond reproach due to your connection to the armed forces but if we don’t then we will either ignore or discredit you. So the quickest way for you out there who really needs to be on national TV would be to join the Army and then as soon as you’ve signed the enlistment forms call the NY Times and tell them you are a “soldier who doesn’t support Bush’s war”. I bet they’d hold the presses.

SIDE NOTE: With over 1800 gold star moms out there couldn’t the MSM have found one who can articulate an anti-war position without simply dredging up tired old MoveOn.org / Michael Moore / DU fever swamp drivel? Do they really think someone ranting about Bush getting his jollies off with each soldier killed or that Bush is lining his pockets with stolen Iraqi oil or that Israel should surrender to Hamas or other nonsense is going to be identified with by the majority of Americans? It would seem to the MSM that the answers are “no” and “yes”.

Monday, August 15, 2005

19 days

The time is fast approaching when once again the ‘Shoe will become the center of the universe. The 2005 Buckeyes are in full fall practice and the city is, to a rather irrational degree, breathless with anticipation.

Your 2005 Ohio State BuckeyesPosted by Picasa

Last year was on paper a poor performance for the Buckeyes as they came in with a meager 8-4 record. However due to the 5-1 finish that included a thumping of Oklahoma State and a solid thrashing of Michigan in the last two games the bar has been set and the expectation is for at least a Big Ten championship.

Even at the national level there is a high level of “respect” – as they say – being given to our boys this year. Here’s a look at the preseason rankings in so far.

At this time ESPN, the AP, Harris and BCS rankings are not available.

Are preseason rankings irrelevant? I think not, they give a guide of where, on paper, each team stands, and by combining you get a fairly accurate rating. And yes the system is horribly flawed so that some little school that starts unranked can’t get a shot at the title, but that’s a discussion for another day and we aren’t a small school. We are Ohio State and if we win all our game then we will be dancing in Pasadena come Jan. 4th. The only thing left now is for our boys to go out on the field and turn all those ifs into W’s.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

BOTD: Brooklyn East India Pale

Today we take a break from the hefeweizens to sample my traditional favorite style of brew, the IPA – or in this case the EIPA.

Am I one of those wierdos that puts their cat in pictures? I think we all know the answer to that is yes.Posted by Picasa

Brooklyn has always been a solid brewer in my past sampling and this East India Pale is no exception. As soon as the beer is poured into the glass you get the floral nose from the strong hopping. This is, as it should be, well hopped all the way through. Little malt, no sweetness, a hint of citrus with a finish that’s not too bitter. And strong, it is an IPA after all. It’s beers like this that make me laugh every time I hear some nimrod say “American beers are like sex in a canoe”.

Brewery: Brooklyn Brewery
Year: 1996
Origin: America (Brooklyn, NY)
Style: IPA
Content: 6.5%
Rating: Solid performer.
Recommendation: Can satisfy the snobbiest of ale drinkers and a good leg up for those whishing to move into the higher levels of hopdom.

Helen takes pictures

Just when we thought Helen’s travels last summer was bad but this summer is out of control. She has spent 5 of the last 8 weeks in Asia. This time I asked her to take some pictures. Enjoy.

The entrance to Helen's hotel in Dehli.Posted by Picasa

Jelous of Helen at the Taj? Don't be, it was 109° with 92% humidity and she got heat sicknessPosted by Picasa

Main gate at the Taj.Posted by Picasa

Animals and people in the river? Got to be India.Posted by Picasa

Birds, in cages, hung on a tree outside in Hong Kong. I guess PETA isn't everywhere yet.Posted by Picasa

The Leela Palace, Helen's hotel in Bangalore.Posted by Picasa

The view from Helen's room in Hong Kong.Posted by Picasa

View of Hong Kong harbour from the looby of the hotel.Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 08, 2005

BOTD: Schneider Weisse "The Original"

Today we have another German hefeweizen for our taste enjoyment. This bottle was purchased along with the previous BOTD and looked to have some age. The bottle claims that this is the original German hefeweizen ale and from the dust on the bottle I’m inclined to agree.

At only $2.49 for a 500ml bottle this is a must try dark summer beer.Posted by Picasa

After dusting the bottle off and opening it I was quickly greeted with a strong nose that carried hints of toasted malt. Then when I poured it out and saw how dark the beer was I began to worry the beer had gone bad sometime during the Truman administration, as wheat beers simply aren’t that dark. Braced for the worst I took a big sniff and found citrus and spice joining the malt. The taste was weizen heaven. I was astonished with the balance of flavors the old bottle had managed to maintain and rather sad when the bottle was finished.

Brewery: G. Schneider & Sohn
Year: 1872
Origin: Germany
Style: Hefe Weizen
Content: 5.2%
Rating: Two big thumbs up.
Recommendation: A good choice for those looking to try a weizen for the first time and don’t want to play around. It’s one of the best wheats I tasted.

Sunday, August 07, 2005


In the words of They Might Be Giants, if you watch only one movie this summer there’s something terribly wrong with you, but if so you should make it Murderball.

I was dragged out to this documentary by a couple of friends. They were quite excited to watch a show about wheel-chair rugby while I was just there for the company as Helen was once again out of town. I figured it to be just one in a seemingly endless stream of “opinion-documentary” ever since Michael Moore redefined the genre with Roger & Me. I was wrong.

Go team USA!!!
Posted by Picasa

Murderball is an old school, and in this climate, refreshing story driven documentary. If the filmmakers have an opinion on Quad Rugby they kept it to themselves and instead concentrated on letting the people and drama take show. It’s well shot, well edited, contains both charismatic and repugnant people with an award winning sound track to boot.

I don’t want to risk over building this show so I will leave you with a strong recommendation to catch this flick if it comes to town, and if not then get thyself to the video store.

BTOD: Erdinger Hefeweizen

Since it is summer we have and will be a little heavy on the wheat beers and in that vane today we have the Erdinger hefeweizen. This is a bottle fermented beer that observes the rules of the Reinheitsgebot.

Well it was only $1.99 for 20 oz.Posted by Picasa

Observance of the Purity law and a dark glass bottle portend a drinkable beer yet I was not fulfilled by this brew. Perhaps I have too strict of standards for a wheat from friggin Baveria, but none the less I was under whelmed. The beer has a great light golden color but is a little weak on everything from nose to after taste. Not bad mind you, just a little weak.

Brewery: Erdinger Weissbräu
Year: 1886
Origin: Germany
Style: Hefe Weizen
Content: 5.3%
Rating: Needs more… something.
Recommendation: A good choice for those looking to try a weizen for the first time but for pros only useful as a change up pitch.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Humanities Update

Man, today my Humanities professor was in rare form. Class started with another of the off topic open discussion, which is to say that it was her and the two echo boxes talking. As I was sitting down she was talking about how the English had killed hundreds of millions of native as the US was stolen away. Hundreds? That means a minimum of 200,000,000 American Indians as anything less would not be “hundreds”. In 1776 the population of the US was about 13 million. In fact the US didn’t hit the 200 million mark until during the Vietnam war. Where in the world did these hundreds of millions of people live and how did they lose a fight in which they so greatly out numbered their enemy? Her hyperbole knows no bounds.

After that she talked about Bill Clinton. She stated that he was the smartest and best president the US has ever had. She went further to declare that Monica Lewinsky was a Republican plant. Wow.

Then we started the class with an hour of the movie Cleopatra. This was our education on the Roman Empire. After that she gave 30 minutes of lecture starting from the assassination of Julius Caesar, going through the fall of the western empire and the rise of Christianity, the establishment of Constantinople up to the year 610. Six and a half centuries of history in 30 minutes.

It was now the normal time she ends class. She thought out loud if she should touch on Islam now or wait until the next class, she decided to ‘touch” on it today. For the next 45 minutes – at which point we got kicked out by the next class – she managed to cover the 15 or so years from when Mohammed got a job at age 12 and when he left Mecca for Medina.

She is enthralled by Islam and today she taught me that:

Islam means “peace”, when it actually means “submission”.

The violence of Islam is a result of American actions. So then the conquest of Hindu, Buddhist, Zoroastrian and Christian lands centuries before Columbus even sailed forth must have just been a big misunderstanding.

Mohammed left Mecca on a pilgrimage to Medina where he then recited the Koran. That’s one way of saying it. Another way would be to say that he and his band of warriors had to retreat from Mecca after having lost a battle in which they failed to seize control of the city. Yet another way to say it would be that having lost his first war against the Meccans he took his band of warriors north where they were able to defeat the weaker Medians, seize control of their land and use it as a base of operations to raid caravans and neighboring lands while he recited the rest of the Koran. You say tomayto, I say tomahto.

Mohammed was just like Jesus Christ. With the slight difference of having been a general who lead troops into battle, taking and selling people into slavery, ordering the executions of people, ordering the massacre of women and children, teaching his followers to hate and despise their neighbors instead of loving them, having multiple wives to give him sons to take over his kingdom from him, not dying on a cross, not being raised from the dead, amassing wealth versus teaching poverty. Ya, he was just like Jesus. A regular carbon copy.

That’s what she taught in a 45 minute “touching” of Islam, I’m looking forward to see how much whitewash she uses in the next class in which she plans to take up through the teachings of Islam.

Dean tells bold faced lies, for real.

Dean is at it again, this time claiming that it was Bush and the conservatives behind the SCOTUS decision to allow the use of eminent domain in taking property from one private party and giving it to a second private owner in the Kelo case.

"The president and his right-wing Supreme Court think it is 'okay' to have the government take your house if they feel like putting a hotel where your house is,"

If Dean is upset with the ruling I with him but it was the liberal justices that voted against the small guy and not the evil conservatives. There are only a few options open to why Dean would be making such a slanderous lie; one is that he is ignorant of which justices votes which way, two is that he knows he’s lying but thinks that Americans are too dumb to be able to find the truth on their own. Either option bodes ill for the future of the Democratic party.