Tuesday, June 26, 2007

fuel efficiency standard

today's WSJ (sadly requires a subscription) has an article on how difficult it will be fore americans to hit 35mpg average fuel economy. I think the article is off on a few major points which I'd like to whine about:
1) the american consumer has been taught to love horsepower, it's not a natural thing. The sad reality is that from the manufacturer's perspective, engines are where the best margins are (especially since they don't pay for the extra pollution). That said, I do not think it will be hard to unwind. Here's a simple idea: try selling the car's utility and comfort; I suspect detroit may very well find that the margins are good there too, but that the niche's are smaller. This will really be a boon for people that USE their cars.

2) fleet vehicles and rentals will be the saving grace for CAFE standard. Frankly, it's been moronic the way detroit has handled fleet vehicles, as evidenced by the absurd number of toruses and cavaliers and neons in stock colors on the road. Add to that the tax benefits of depreciating fuel efficient detroit owned rental fleets and you end up with a very easy to hit 35 right around when kids born in 2000 are buying their first cars out of college.

3) mandatory safety inspections checking cars for leaks, working brakes and emissions every two year (as in the UK) solves a whole host of other problems as well, but the best thing it would do is encourage many large vehicle owners to abandon their vehicles earlier, allowing a faster move to reasonably sized vehicles that aren't threatened by idiots in tanks that don't care because they don't have to (insert lilly tomlin voice here). safer and newer vehicles purchased more often make everyone better. Don't like it or can't afford it? try riding the bus or taking the train.

so stop whining. it's embarrassing.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

arthur morgan can stop turning over

“It became less about intellectual rigor, than a political and social experience,”

So aparently Antioch college, in yellow springs, oh-hi-ee-oh is closing down. This according to a nytimes article on how pissed the alums are about the closing.

Well, hadn't they noticed what a farce their institution had become? It was bad in the 80s, when vandalism was considered self expression (I remember a guy named Ron, a former student of my father and coworker of mine at Greeks/Adriaticos, who went up there for an interview for a position and said he'd rather teach at a school with some rules); by the 1990s students had self imposed a system which required written consent before intercourse between students to ensure date rape did not occur. I do not think that those were the rules that Ron had in mind, but they are illustrative of what I see as the fundamental problem at Antioch - part of college (at least the current American version of college) seems to be about being away from the rules of your parents' house to see what other rules are. Sure, people push those, ignore them, whatever, but learn from them (yes, even drinking too much counts). This doesn't work if you actually think you're making the rules instead of figuring out which ones you really shouldn't break. Unfortunately at lordoftheflies on yellowsprings the institution has learned the hardest way that it's best not to leave a self selected group of self-professed ultra-liberal 18 year olds to create their own little utopia for $30K per annum of their parents' money.
The same thing could easily happen at Reed or Oberlin so watch out.

Oh, and I feel compelled to say that despite how hard I slag on it and how bad I feel for Morgan's "other" legacy to have died so ungracefully (like with Lilienthal at the TVA, even-more-liberal-than-the-Quaker liberals destroyed what he thought was designed properly), that stupid camp there at yellow springs state park remains one of my favorite field trips EVAR. While I was already too cynical by 5th grade to learn about teamwork and depending on each other, the team race course was fun, I still think fondly of learning about owls puking up the undigestable parts of what they eat (especially with the recent baby owls in the backyard experience here) and recognizing the oxidized color of rocks by some springs and the expectant taste and smell of iron in the water.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

how is a cowpie like a cow?

the secret is in the cow. so spracht the thinking fellers union local 282.

more importantly, what in the hell is wrong with Australia's PM Howard? I know that, like the cow pie he is, Australia is to blame, but really: social conservatives that try and tell the darkies how they should be living are the most embarassing hominids ever. totally lame. sadly, I couldn't make a permalink:

now, I pause for a moment's silence: the collective dreamwish of anyone with more than 3 brain cells hopes for an aneurism to put him our of our collective lives forever.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

double feature featuring features

so as we're driving through philipsburgh i stumble upon the giant sign that says "fellini" and "tears of the black tiger" and I'm pretty much sure I found paradise, but then it gets better - they sell booze and cheese! sadly, we had just missed tears, but rome, open city was rad.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

jokes about economists

i had a dream yesterday during the day. in it mary told a joke:

"how do you get an economist to shit in a bag?"

the answer is to tell him to assume it's a toilet but the fact that mary said this was just so funny.

i of course immediately decided to take credit for the not-very funny joke a la michel gondry's egg - it was my dream.

i think the heat must be getting to me.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

felix gonzalez-torres

I think gonzalez-torres' work is great (mostly because i agree with him) but i do take issue with having a dead person in the biennale. firstly, it seems to disrespectful to the rest of the art world, who are actively making art right now. retrospectives are for museums or galleries. secondly, it smacks of the same ineffectual liberal "we really are doing something, see?" that manifests itself in a grammy being given to the dixie chicks or michael moore or al gore winning an oscar.

has the cannon gotten more political? of course not, and the selection of G-T proves it.

there is nothing wrong with the cannon being more political, contemporary art is exactly that. the moment's best artists can be making great art about now. choosing a dead artist who made great art about a moment that was similar from a decade and a half ago (and involved many of the same people) says more about how little art has changed (both itself and the world it is commenting on) than where art is going. at least a living artist would give us some hope.

Monday, June 04, 2007

nyc will have to wait

i had hoped to post some stuff about my really wonderful trip to new york city this evening, but it turns out i got a phone call informing me that stephanie kim died this morning in chiapas, mexico.

stephanie and i had a wonderful but complicated relationship, mostly because we were fortunate enough that we respected and cared for each other despite our problems and personality foibles that neither of us felt the need to varnish for each other.

really, of all of the people in my life, i think she may be the one i came closest to dying with, which says something. that was in a motorcycle accident on a freeway in indiana of all places. maybe 1996 or so. somehow the bike stayed upright and we managed to hitchhike close enough that we could get picked up and taken to our destination (which was hours away). years later i would introduce her to two different friends of mine she would end up dating for extended periods of time. and she and brian and I, who have managed to crash on each others' couches for years in a variety of cities all managed to feel like fortunate siblings.

brian, we've been out of touch for a while, and my updates on you have come from your sister (and brian lee of course), but i want you to know how badly i wish i could be there with you right now. i am so sorry. any strength and support i can give you right now i know would not be enough, but you have it all.