We lost the better part of the day yesterday to jury duty, so we’re late getting this up. We apologize for the convenience.
After the jump, this week’s TMQ…
“For the next 12 months I will live as if there is no God,” he typed. “I will not pray, read the Bible for inspiration, refer to God as the cause of things or hope that God might intervene and change my own or someone else’s circumstances. (I trust that if there really is a God that God will not be too flummoxed by my foolish experiment and allow others to suffer as a result).”
I don’t (and won’t) talk about my religion here. But I will say: I have a lot of respect for Ryan Bell, and would love to sit down and talk with him at some point.
Two of our new favorite things in the world:
We actually want to write the “Three Types of Fun You Should Never Have With a Freelance Nurse” article, as we have some ideas for that. Unfortunately, those ideas make us cringe so badly we can’t bring ourselves to start writing.
In other news, this week’s TMQ, after the jump…
A long time ago, I was a huge fan of “Car Talk”. My Monday nights were not complete without listening to the latest episode, and I tended to get cranky if that schedule was interrupted. (Kids, ask your parents about the time before podcasts.) I even – hold on to your hats, folks – donated money to our local NPR station at one point so I could show my support of “Car Talk”. (Oh, yeah. Like you never did anything stupid when you were young.)
Then our local station changed the schedule around so “Car Talk” was on at an inconvenient time, and I kind of dropped away from it. Then Tom and Ray started taking truly idiotic political positions (for example, advocating a federally enforced limit on horsepower to weight ratios) and I stopped being a “Car Talk” fan. As a matter of fact, I began to find the show grating. Not quite “I’d rather listen to Prairie Home Companion” grating, but grating enough. And frankly, I don’t understand why it is still on the air, since it has been nothing but re-runs since 2012. (Actually, I think I do understand why: I guess it brings in the bucks at pledge time.)
On the other hand, 77 is too damn young. Alzheimer’s sucks. I do kind of want to hear the tribute show. And he had a great beard.
By way of the Y Combinator Twitter, I found this rather interesting Fast Company article about “Better Place”.
Better Place was born to be revolutionary, the epitome of the kind of world-changing ambition that routinely gets celebrated. Founder Shai Agassi, a serial entrepreneur turned rising star at German software giant SAP, conceived Better Place “on a Davos afternoon” in 2005 when he asked himself, “How would you run a whole country without oil?” Four years later, onstage at the TED conference, Agassi, a proud Israeli with a bit of a Steve Jobs complex, wore a black turtleneck and promised, with the confidence of a man who has known the future for some time but has only recently decided to share his findings, that he would sell millions of electric vehicles in his home country and around the world. He implied that converting to electric cars was the moral equivalent of the abolition of human slavery and that it would usher in a new Industrial Revolution.
Shai Agassi was on FC‘s “2009 Most Creative People in Business” list. He was on the cover of Wired. Better Place raised almost a billion dollars.
And if being on the cover of Wired wasn’t a dead giveaway for you, they collapsed.
Agassi had assumed that the car would cost roughly half the price of a typical gasoline car and would have a range of at least 100 miles. Instead, batteries were delivered with a range of closer to 80 miles, and the terms with Renault meant he was selling an unsexy family car for about the same price as a nice sedan like the Mazda3 or the Toyota Corolla. (Not to mention that customers were asked to spend an additional $3,000 or so a year to rent the battery and pay for the use of charging and swap stations.)
I have been, and continue to be, somewhat critical of Tesla. But I think one thing they’re doing right is positioning their vehicles as a premium product that’s worth the asking price.
Linoge has posted a follow-up on his dealings with GMR 4×4. In brief, he filed a complaint with the Vermont Consumer Assistance Program, GMR was given the chance to respond…and pretty much lied through their teeth.
And apparently Linoge isn’t the only person they’ve burned. Once again, I encourage you to read the original post, and Linoge’s update, and then carefully consider whether GMR 4×4 is the kind of company you’d like to do business with.
I have two sets of fantasy vehicles. Set number one is the ones I would buy if I ever won the lottery: something like a nice high-end BMW, or an Acura NSX, or a Mercedes sedan, or maybe a nice Audi…
Set number two is the more affordable set, and what I like to call “hacking around” vehicles. Sometimes I think it’d be nice to have something like a used Pinzgauer or Unimog. I’ve also thought about a real Land Rover; not one of those soccer mom vehicles, but an older model Defender, possibly a military surplus one. All of these are surprisingly affordable.
But if I ever do go looking for that surplus Land Rover, you know who I won’t be doing business with? GMR 4×4, aka GMR Imports LLC.
Why? Linoge has the whole story of how he got screwed over by GMR over at his site. In short, his “jump in and drive away” Land Rover has cost him over $11,000 above the purchase price so far, requiring a transmission replacement (it literally could not be driven off the transport) and an engine replacement within the first 100 miles of driving. Yes, yes, buyer beware when you’re buying a used vehicle, but based on Linoge’s summary, GMR substantially misrepresented the condition of the vehicle on their website.
I encourage you to go over to Walls of the City, read Linoge’s story, and then carefully consider whether you wish to do business with GMR 4×4.
You know that comment we made yesterday, about “Start writing or stop talking about it” being pretty good writing advice?
(If you have to put this much effort into “saving” commercial radio, is it really worth saving?)
I’m not a huge NASCAR fan: if I’m home and a race is televised, I’ll put it on as background noise, and I’d happily go to a race if someone invited me. But my life doesn’t revolve around it. With that said, this is interesting:
Ryan Newman replaced Martin Truex Jr. in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship on Monday night when NASCAR penalized Michael Waltrip Racing for manipulating the outcome of last weekend’s race.
Michael Waltrip Racing was fined $300,000, and general manager Ty Norris received an indefinite suspension. Truex, Bowyer and Vickers were docked 50 points apiece — but Bowyer’s deduction does not affect his position in the Chase, which begins Sunday at Chicago.
Isn’t “manipulating the outcome” of a race pretty much what every racing team tries to do? Is this example just particularly egregious? (And I find it surprising that there’s been no FARK thread on this yet.)
(Edited to add: Thanks to Ben for his thoughtful and enlightening comments, which you should really go read now. Also, FARK did put up a thread after I posted this.)
Ford stopped making the police variant of the Crown Victoria in 2011. We’re now in 2013, and police departments are starting to retire the last of the Crown Vics.
Law enforcement is a practical, left-brain business of protocol and procedure. But a discussion of the Crown Vic brings out a romantic side. The traditions and symbols of life behind the badge become intertwined with its tools. Two tons of rear-wheel drive and a V-8 engine up front made for a machine that could feel safe at any speed, a reliable nonhuman partner when things got crazy.
I have flirted from time to time with the idea of purchasing a former cop car as a backup vehicle. (“It’s got a cop motor, a 440 cubic inch plant, it’s got cop tires, cop suspensions, cop shocks.”) Problem is, the state surplus store wants nearly $6K for used DPS cars; at that price, I could go get a used Miata or Outback instead.
The 1933 double eagle is on display at the New York Historical Society. I’ve written previously about the strange history of the 1933 double eagle, and the linked NYT article contains a good summary, too.