Monday, May 31, 2010

Nuclear fallout in Soviet Kazakhstan

I am reading Apples Are From Kazakhstan.  My plan was to post an entertaining Youtube video about golden eagles or the very artificial city of Astana.  But I came across this documentary put out by Al Jazeera instead.  It's about the 450 plus nuclear tests the Soviets performed in a small area in eastern Kazakhstan called the Polygon.  Be advised that some of the birth defects shown are very disturbing.  The bullshit comes from the Russians, who blame the cancer and disease on a lack of fruits and vegetables in the Kazakh diet.

Monopoly game car piece

I know every one of you readers insisted on being the car when you played the game as a kid.  Any idea what the make and model of the car is?  Or is it just a generic "roadster"?

Credit here and here.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Babies movie trailer

I just saw Babies.  Pretty sweet movie about four babies in Namibia, Japan, San Francisco, and Mongolia.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Carspotting (40): Peugeot 103 SP moped scooter

As a local yokel, it's always fun to go to the Big City.  Look what I found locked to a parking meter.  I had no idea Peugeot made mopeds.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ex-HP CEO Carly Fiorina attack ad

The U.S. Senate seat battle in California has so far been sedate.  Tom Campbell, Haas Business School's former dean and former Stanfurd Law professor, is pitted against Carly Fiorina, former head of Hewlett-Packard.  The winner gets to duke it out with Senator Barbara Boxer this November.  I have always respected Campbell and may even vote for him this time around.  I must say that I'm a bit surprised at the ferocity of this attack ad.  I always thought he was a gentleman.  But then again, everything in this ad is true.

Who is Antanas Mockus, the next Colombian president?

Antanas Mockus when he was mayor of Bogota, dressed as Supercitizen

The entire South American continent is firmly left leaning.  One of the few exceptions recently has been Colombia.  Well, come this Sunday*, a very eccentric man, a Green no less, may become president.  This will be interesting.  Tensions between Colombia and Venezuela will lessen, but will Mockus and Chavez become pals?  Will an emphasis on human services (education, health care) mean neglect of internal security issues?  Will Mockus clamp down on the right wing paramilitary and actually speak with FARC and its allies?  Only time will tell.  In the meantime, here is a run down of Antanas Mockus (for your Memorial Day weekend BBQ chatter):

  • son of Lithuanian immigrants,
  • promises to divert 15% of national oil revenue to education (he was a professor/researcher),
  • once mooned his students to get them to shut up,
  • launched a "Night for Women" and asked men to stay home and take of the kids-- more than 700,000 women went out to open air concerts,
  • while serving as Bogota's mayor, the murder rate fell by three-fourths, water usage dropped by 40%,
  • diagnosed last month with Parkinson's,
  • sports stylish Amish beard.
!Viva el verde!

*No one will probably get a majority on Sunday, although Mockus is expected to win the run-off.

Putting out Kuwaiti oil fires, Warsaw Pact style

Hungarian genius + captured Iraqi T34 tank - turret + 2 MiG 21 jet engines = Great Wind.

Go to 0:18.

Cold War NATO planes landing on autobahn

Ah, 1980s nostalgia.  This video has it all.  1980s NATO combat aircraft.  Cold War exercise.  On the West German autobahn.

Via Stipistop.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

USGP 2012 in Austin!

Finally, an American Grand Prix. Look for the Tamerlane's Thoughts hospitality tent at the race in two years. Free Mongolian food buffet and all you can drink Johnnie Walker!

Remind me to tell you about my day in 100+ degree weather in Austin wearing a heavy black suit driving a black on black Lincoln Town Car.

First time driving the Nurburgring

Andrew at Urbane Musings just posted a summary of his first laps in the Green Hell in his BMW 123d.  Lucky bastard.

For those of you keeping count, I have been on the Ring Taxi wait list for 385 days now.

Red pigs old and new: Mercedes 300SEL 6.8 AMG and S63 AMG

More pictures and article in German here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Fight the Power: Protest against blue lights in Moscow Russia

Here is the background.

Here is a brave (and funny) protestor.

Johnnie Walker Red Label review taste test

I know nothing about whiskey and Scotch.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.  I think I've had two kinds in my life.  Jack Daniels and Crown Royal.  That proves how little I know.  Which again, isn't a lot.

But I've always been fascinated with Johnnie Walker.  It might be because they're displayed at virtually every airport duty free shop I've been to.  Or it might be because it is used as currency in many third world countries to bribe mid- to high-level officials.  So what does it taste like?  Will a neophyte like me enjoy it?

I will start at the bottom-- the Red Label.  I will then slowly ascend to the pinnacle-- the Blue Label.

I got a 750ml bottle of Red today at BevMo for $18.  That seems reasonable, I think.

I will start by drinking it at room temperature, by itself.  As I tilt it in my glass, it looks slightly syrupy and leaves a thin film on the glass.  It has a yellowish, golden hue.  It smells sharp and a bit like rubbing alcohol.  It's not unlike cheap booze I've had in my younger days.  The smell changes in intensity every time I sniff it (I've sniffed it 4-5 times now).  I wonder why that is.  Now, it just smells like hospital.

Sip.  Wow, it's nowhere nearly as nasty as I thought it was going to be.  I can feel its punch and warmth about 5-10 seconds after swallowing it.  And as I finished typing the last sentence, the punch and warmth disappeared almost instantly.  The flavor was mild.

I did not enjoy the second sip.  I'm going to add ice and club soda now.  Be right back.

Yack.  The club soda made it bitter.  Now, my mouth tastes like Band-Aid.  Maybe I'll just add regular water next time.

Stay tuned as I try Black Label.  In the meantime, here is the history of the brand.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mullin Automotive Museum Oxnard California

Update: Check out my visit to the museum here.

Holy cow.  The Sunday New York Times had an article about the Schlumpf brothers and their ginormous Bugatti collection.  Apparently, some of their pre-war French cars were recently sold to the new Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard (between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara along the Pacific Coast).

Here is an article about the place from Hooniverse.  Right now, it's only open once a month (June 12, July 10, August 10).  Here are some shots of the Art Deco-intense interior and some of its cars.

Hispano-Suiza K-6 shooting brake

Tatra T87

Talbot Lago T26

Delage ERA

I hate snakes

I hate them.  I really hope this drain isn't connected to my toilet.  Oh dear, I am not going to sleep well tonight.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The last space shuttle flight

Sometime in November, Endeavour will be the last shuttle to be launched into space from sunny Florida.  For almost all of us, these flights have become so routine and ordinary that they have become background noise.

Though I grew up living a few hours away from Edwards Air Force Base, where most of the shuttle landings took place in the 1980s, I never got to see it.  Now, with just two flights left, I imagine a lot of people are making plans to visit Florida.  To save the cost of transporting the shuttle from its landing site at Edwards in California back to Kennedy in Florida, all of the landings are in Florida now (weather permitting).

Here is a video of the first shuttle landing.  Check out the old school NASA RV.  It's amazing that something designed in the '70s is still carrying people into space!

This is an extended look at the Challenger disaster.  I remember our school's principal coming into my classroom and telling us that the shuttle had exploded.  My teacher wheeled in a TV and we were glued to it for hours.  I don't think I really comprehended the tragedy until I watched this today (I was too young then).

Here is a launch sequence from last November.

And who knew NASA had mission posters?  Very Hollywood.  Sort of.

The 85 mph speedometer

Our family's early 80s Oldsmobile Cutlass had a speedometer similar to this Cadillac speedo.

It really didn't make a difference on the Olds, but other, much faster cars had them too.  Like the Mazda RX7.

And this Mercedes 450SL.

So what gives?  Well, in 1979, the U.S. federal government required cars sold here to have 85 mile per hour* speedos and something to alert the driver about the 55 mph national speed limit.  This was during a time when fuel economy and hyper-safety were of paramount concern (to regulators).  Now, I'm personally a big fan and admirer of Joan Claybrook, the then head of NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), but I think it's clear that this was a bad idea.  Soon, the rule was retracted.  And we're left with these relics.

*85 miles per hour is about 137 kilometers per hour.

2010 Nike World Cup soccer football futbol ad advert commerical

I know nothing about soccer and even I think this is epic.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Top female singers and songs

I won't be posting again until next week.  In the meantime, enjoy these videos I put together.  They are my favorite songs from my favorite female singers.

And one more thing, the ranking is sort of arbitrary.  It changes with my mood.  This is how I rank them right now.  Today.  This hour.  This minute.  This second.

12. Kate Piersen and Cindy Wilson of The B52s singing Roam: Camp with sincerity.

11. Boy George of Culture Club singing Karma Chameleon: Strange name for a lady, no?

10. Enya singing Only Time: Alternately reminds me of my unheated college apartment in the dead of winter and sunny drives down to San Diego on Interstate 5 (segment between San Onofre and Camp Pendleton).

9. Lauryn Hill of The Fugees singing Killing Me Softly: That voice!

8. Dolores O'Riordan of The Cranberries singing Linger: Pure, unadulterated.

7. Bjork singing Human Behavior: Haunting, angelic.

6. Margo Timmins of Cowboy Junkies singing Sweet Jane: Smooth and suicidally depressing.

5. Annie Lennox singing No More I Love Yous: Creepy in a satisfying, passionate way.

4. Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star singing Fade Into You: Bittersweet.

3. Dido singing Thank You: Smooth.

2. Natalie Merchant of 10,000 Maniacs singing These Are Days: Sweet, youthful energy.

1. Sarah McLachlan singing Adia: The most beautiful song ever.

Garbage Special video

This may be my favorite song from the late '90s.  Its link to '80s alt pop is clear.

Spyker D8 Peking-to-Paris crossover SUV

I'm not a big fan of SUVs but this is boss.  The original prototype envisioned a Volkswagen W12 (hence the original D12 moniker).  Now, it's more likely to have the 6.2 liter V8 from the Cadillac CTS-V.  But with the acquisition of Saab by Spyker, the D8 project is on hold.

Jerry Brown's cars

I miss election season.  Fortunately, it is about to start here in California.  So who is going to replace Arnold as our governor?  Well, it looks like it will either be former governor (and former Oakland mayor and current California Attorney General) Jerry Brown or former Ebay head Meg "I supported Barbara Boxer but am now endorsed by Dick Cheney, and oh, by the way, I neglected to vote for decades" Whitman.

Brown is an interesting guy.  When he came into office as governor in 1975, he saved money by eschewing the governor's mansion and moved into a small apartment.  He refused to use a limousine, riding instead in two blue 1974 Plymouth Satellites (one for Southern California, one for Northern California.)  Here, he is reminiscing about the car's bench seat and his then girlfriend Linda Ronstadt.

His newer car, a Toyota Camry Hybrid, made news recently when two of its wheels were stolen outside his Oakland home.

My prediction is that if he wins this November, he will keep his sensible Camry Hybrid as his official car.  We'll see.

Michael Schumacher Damon Hill crash 1994 Adelaide

I did not start following F1 until 2006.  Last weekend's race at Monaco resulted in everyone discussing the bad blood between Hill and Schumacher.  This is why.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Mini Cooper Camden with Mission Control: the annoying talking car

Shut up!  Shut up!!  Shut up!!!

Bon Appetit 2010 food trends

Did this guy get his ideas by stepping into a time machine and going BACK in time?  Banh mi?  Sriracha? Comfort desserts?!

I just received a sneak peek of their 2011 food trend list: Wine coolers.  Fondue.  Frozen yogurt.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Vector W2 prototype car promo

I still have a photo of a carbon gray Vector I took as a young lad at the Los Angeles Auto Show.  This promo seems to target prospective investors and dealers rather than potential customers.  It's chockfull of 1980s goodness, guaranteed.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Paraguay's small leftist guerilla movement (EPP)

Disclaimer: I don't pretend to be an expert on Paraguay.

It appears that a tiny band of leftist guerillas has popped up in this poor South American nation.  It's surprising because the country just elected a leftist president (an ex-bishop who was a big proponent of liberation theology).  For now, it seems like the EPP is one part idealist, two parts criminal.

That cocaine is being shipped through Paraguay is troubling and adds to the mess.  Of course, lawless border towns like Ciudad del Este have always been a smuggler's paradise.  A former president was even shamed (while in office) into acknowledging that his BMW 528i was actually stolen from Brazil.  For a moment, Al Qaeda and Hezbollah were suspected of laundering money in the area.  But I think the reason the EPP has flourished (relatively speaking) is because the brutal Colorado party, with its emphasis on "law and order" (without any regard for due process or human rights), is gone.  It is democracy itself that is nourishing instability and chaos.

In just the last few days, Al Jazeera English produced these three glimpses into the current situation in Paraguay:

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Xinjiang finally back online

After more than 10 months, the Chinese government has finally "fully" restored internet service in Xinjiang.  Click here for thank-you-for-your-patriotism-and-cooperation letter from Ministry of Propaganda.  Click here to report harmful misuse of internet.  Thank you, comrade.

2010 Marin Sonoma Concours photos

The second annual Marin Sonoma Concours was well attended (almost a bit too crowded) and had something for everyone.  My only disappointment was that there was only one French car, a Citroen 2CV Charleston.

Bentley Continental R.

Mercedes 450 SLC 5.0.  1 of 1,636.  It came with an aluminum engine, doors, trunk lid, and hood.

Audi ur-Quattro (for sale for $16,000) with Chrysler 300C and Lincoln in the background.  Every 35 to 42 year old male there was gawking at the Audi.

VW Wolfsburg 1.

VW Wolfsburg 2.

VW Wolfsburg 3.

Aston Martin Rapide.  This is the first one I've seen in the flesh.  It just looks like a stretched Aston Martin coupe.  The doors swing out and up at an angle.  Kinda odd.  Still very cool looking though.

Mercedes SLS AMG interior.  This is also the first time I've seen a real life SLS.  It is huge.  Talk about model bloat (vis-a-vis the original Gullwing).

I'm not a huge fan of pre-war American cars, but these hood ornaments are pieces of art by themselves.  This is a Pierce-Arrow.

Packard swan.



Another first for me-- a Bizzarrini.  

Corvette engine in the Bizzarrini.

Morgan Super Sports JAP.

Bugatti Type 39A.

Obligatory Bugatti shot.