Thursday, March 31, 2011

Antonov An-225s to save Japan

The world's largest plane will be used to transport the world's largest concrete pumps (2 of them) from ATL and LAX to Japan.  This will happen around April 9.  The Putzmeister pumps are currently being retrofitted so that they can spray water into the Fukushima reactors.  But if TEPCO eventually wants to encase the reactors in concrete (a la Chernobyl), then the pumps can be re-retrofitted.  Each pump weighs 190,000 pounds.

*Fingers crossed*

Vector W8.  Check back this weekend.

Acura EL, the fancy Honda Civic

What does it say about your buddy's bachelor party in Vancouver when the only thing you remember vividly is seeing an Acura EL pulling out of a hotel's underground garage?

1978 Sbarro Cadillac TAG Function Car

With the Sbarro pizza chain about to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, I am reminded of the Swiss coachbuilder.  Insert your "bad taste" joke here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Separated at birth: Bashar al-Assad and Easter Island moai

It suddenly dawned on me what the world's most powerful ophthalmologist (and Syrian dictator) Bashar al-Assad resembles.  A Rapa Nui stone moai!

That Libyan rebel Toyota Hilux...may be Chinese

Look closely next time.  It just might be a Zhongxing.

More info here.

Akira movie review by New York Times's critic A.O. Scott

Jenson Button Bathurst on-board full lap video

Concorde BMW M1

Concorde with Citroen here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Libyan rebel Honda Civic hatchback

Without better equipment, training, and command structure, the rebels don't stand a chance.

Hot Pockets Sideshots ad

This may be the most disgusting commercial ever.

San Francisco Financial District curry war

The streets downtown smelled/reeked of curry today.

The first food truck I saw/smelled belonged to Curry Up Now.  Official site.  Yelp reviews.

Just a few blocks away was JapaCurry.  Official site.  Yelp reviews.

Since my lunch meeting had to be at a sit-down restaurant, I ordered the pork belly cutlet curry rice at Stone Korean Kitchen at 4 Embarcadero Center.  My review: The food tasted pretty good, although the cutlet was left in the deep fryer too long.  It was overpriced at $12.  The service was terrible.  The food took forever.  Plus, it took them a long time to give us our change (we paid with cash).  And to top it off, the bus boy dropped a metal rice bowl lid on my lap when he was clearing the table.  Official site.  Yelp reviews.

Mercedes W123 convertibles

Decisions, decisions.

Two-door Crayford conversion for the young-ish English aristocrat?

Or the four-door stretched version for the Third World military celebration?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Carspotting: Honda CRX

You don't see many of these anymore.  This is a perfect car.  Peppy (sort of) four cylinder, 90" wheelbase, LOW center of gravity, barely weighs 2,100 pounds, and Honda reliability.

Here is a beautiful example for sale.

A-10s and AC-130s in Libya



The U.S. sent in the big boys last weekend.  The howitzer equipped AC-130 is essentially a C-130 Hercules transport plane that is converted into a tank.  Here is a piece about how they have been overworked and are falling apart.

Here's a test of the A-10's Gatling gun.  Holy schnikes!

I know.  It's contradictory, even hypocritical, for a peacenik like me to be fascinated with combat aircraft.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Libyan cities population figures and descriptions

Source: Al Jazeera

If you're following what's going on in Libya, then you are learning the names of a lot of cities.  They're almost all along the coast.  But how big (or small) are they?

From west to east (2006 figures):
Zuwarah (near Tunisian border): 27,562
Az Zawiyah (oil refinery, large population center): 318,726
Tripoli (capital): 1,228,187
Misurata (country's business capital): 507,069
Sirte (Gaddafi hometown): 48,504
Ras Lanuf (oil refinery and oil terminal): 13,130
Brega (oil refinery): 21,715
Ajdabiya (intersection of major roads): 108,771 
Benghazi (opposition center): 670,797
Tobruk (near border with Egypt): 75,893

Differences between European and U.S. Fiat 500s

Due to differing safety regulations and consumer tastes, the number of differences is astounding.  Some of them include:

  • rear hatch door (different license plate proportions),
  • larger cupholders (for 32 oz./0.95 liter drinks),
  • longer wiper blades (U.S. regulations require greater sweep area),
  • stronger air conditioning (because we sweat more), and
  • spare tire in Euro model is above the floor; tire in NAFTA model is under flat floor because U.S. has rear crash test and flat floor strengthens the rear.
More changes here and here.

X-ray shoe fitter

Petrov scores a podium?!

Well, the Renault is competitive.  That's good.  But Petrov in 3rd?  That is not the podium finish I was hoping for.  I hope Heidfeld's abysmal performance today in Australia was equipment-related.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Carl Sagan's Porsche 914

Carl Sagan had at least two Porsches.  This 914 had a license plate that said PHOBOS.  The planet Mars has two small moons-- Phobos (fear) and Deimos (terror).  When I was a kid, I named our family dog Deimos after the moon.  I was a huge astronomy geek.

Photo source.

Australia F1 GP safety car

What is the make and model of that white car?  It looks like it came straight out of the 80s.  Thanks in advance.

Nick Heidfeld podium retrospective

While we wait for practice to begin in Melbourne, here are Heidfeld's 12 podium finishes.  Though he is tied with Stefan Johansson right now for the record for most podium finishes without a win, he should be able to break the tie this season.  Hopefully.

2001 Brazil: 3rd.  Man, he looked young. 

2005 Malaysia: 3rd. No beard yet. 

2005 Monaco: 2nd.

2005 European GP (Nurburgring): 2nd.  He started from pole position. 

2006 Hungary: 3rd.  Button's sole win before Brawn. 

 2007 Canada: 2nd.

2007 Hungary: 3rd. 

2008 Australia: 2nd.

2008 Canada: 2nd.  Not a happy podium finish for Heidi. 

 2008 British GP: 2nd.

2008 Belgium: 2nd.  Hamilton's 1st place finish was taken away due to a penalty.  Heidfeld had spectacular finish when he switched to wet tires. 

2009 Malaysia: 2nd.  Not satisfying as race ended early due to rain.

2011: ???

Update 1:
2011 Malaysia: 2nd.  The beginning of a comeback?

News coverage of Libya

While CNN and Fox News have their cat fight about who's lazier, Al Jazeera is doing real work in Libya.

Here are two pieces from AJ.  One is about civilian casualties.  The other is about the poorly trained and disciplined rebels.

This is a snapshot of the AJ website.  Yemen's leader should be the next to fall.  Algeria is not yet on many people's radar screen.  The shooting of protesters in Syria is particularly chilling.

Obama and Oscar Romero

Obama's last stop on his Latin American tour was El Salvador.  Here he is near a portrait of slain-by-death-squad Archbishop Oscar Romero.

Crazy Dutch racing

Soviet v. GM V8 v. Citroen v. ???.  All I have to say is, we've come a long way in suspension and tire technology.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Carl Sagan owned a Porsche

Out of the billions and billions of cars to choose from, he chose this red dwarf.


See his Porsche 914 here.

Heidfeld Minichamps cars

Can't believe the F1 season is about to start.  The cars are in formation on the starting grid (sort of).  Here come the lights.

Clockwise from top right:
  • 1999 McLaren MP4/13 Goodwood Festival of Speed record holder.
  • 2008 BMW Sauber F1.08.
  • 2009 BMW Sauber Showcar.
  • 2010 Mercedes GP Showcar.  (It belongs to Rosberg; Heidfeld was the reserve driver.)
  • 2009 Panasonic Toyota TF109.  (It belongs to Trulli; Heidfeld used it while testing for Pirelli.)
  • 2007 BMW Sauber F1.07.
  • 2006 BMW Sauber F1.06.
  • 2005 Williams BMW FW27.

Chinese Professor (2011) and Deficit Trials (1986) ads

Though some networks are refusing to air the Chinese Professor ad, CNN is bucking the trend.  The controversial ad is set in the the year 2030.  A professor explains that China has surpassed the U.S. because of our profligate spending.

This is reminiscent of Ridley Scott's Deficit Trials ad from 1986.  The W.R. Grace-funded ad, set in the year 2017, was supposed to be aired after Reagan's State of the Union address.  But the major networks refused.

It's amazing how $2 trillion is chump change now.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Highways of Death: Iraq (1991), Libya (2011)

I was watching this coverage by Al Jazeera and was reminded of this episode from Operation Desert Storm:

Note that I am making the comparison only because of the name given.  The circumstances and number of casualties could not be more different.

Japanese SDF LCAC hovercrafts

Our in-house expert on all things Japanese, rchen, shared this page with me.  It contains pictures of Landing Craft Air Cushions (LCACs), or hovercrafts.  The U.S. and Japanese militaries use these.  The Japanese Self Defense Forces is using them in its tsunami relief efforts.

This is a video of an American LCAC unloading a tank.

Jenson Button Bathurst F1 video

Full lap video here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Carspotting: 1989 Ferrari Mondial t coupe

I found this today at the Oakland Chinatown underground garage.  It was all by itself, away from the Odysseys, Siennas, Camrys, and Accords (it is Chinatown, after all).  The Mondial line is much maligned but this example is gorgeous.  I can't figure out how the owner was able to get out of his car without scratching his door.

I had no idea what the "t" meant.  This Motorweek test explains everything.  It's apparently the most desirable of all the Mondials.

By the way, for the best jook/congee/rice porridge in the East Bay, go to Gum Kuo.