Saturday, March 11, 2006

Combustion of Elastic Hydrocarbon Polymer

I went to the Twin Cities Auto Show today. I mostly wanted to see if VW would finally get a version 5 Golf out in front of people. Apparently it was officially unveiled in the United States at the Chicago Auto Show last month.

I was surprised that it didn't have the "waterfall" grille that other VWs have (and which the Golf has in Europe). Not sure why that is. I thought it was a nice touch, though a lot of people don't like it for some reason. Whatever. I sat in the back seat, and felt like I had good headroom. The dashboard didn't do a whole lot for me, but it was a reasonable upgrade to the previous version, which I just did not like...

I didn't pay any attention to the mileage numbers they gave, since I'd only get a TDI version. I popped open the back seats to check cargo space. It turned out that was a good thing to think about, since one of my other big options—the Honda Civic Hybrid— has a battery pack behind the rear seat, meaning it can't be folded down.

I dunno. I suppose the Prius, Civic Hybrid, and Golf TDI are still my main choices. It basically comes down to which one will have the lowest total cost of ownership and/or least number of headaches when it comes to maintenance.

Now, if I land in a bunch of cash someday, I'd definitely take a shot in getting a Lotus Elise (or the hardtop version, the Exige). They're only $40,000 to $50,000, so I was wondering why they aren't more popular. And, of course, the answer is that they weren't street-legal for a long time (only about 60 people in the U.S. worked through all of the red tape to get them imported). Even the "federalized" version that is now being sold doesn't actually meet requirements—but I ask you, where would you put a bumper on such a nice car?

It's a tiny vehicle, though, so my main concern if I ever got one would be whether I'd fit inside it or not...

Speaking of roadsters, the Saturn Sky was getting plenty of attention. GM probably shouldn't have plopped it down on the carpet right next to the Pontiac Solstice, though. They're practically the same car! They use the same Kappa "platform", and have very similar body lines. I was really amazed to see a Solstice on the road a few months back, since it looked very good, but at the auto show I thought the Sky looked better.

GM brought their Camaro concept to the show, and Dodge had the Challenger there. They're both pretty giant cars, IMHO...

On a total tangent, did you know that John Denver lived in Edina back in the early 1970s? Wacky.

Posted by mike at 06:10 PM | Car | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 18, 2006


I updated the CSS on my website and got the right column to always be vertical. I also pulled some redundant code out of the individual pages that get rendered, saving a few megabytes of space. Unfortunately, I'm still over 90% usage on my web space, so I'll have to get more creative eventually. I'm running an ancient version of Movable Type, and I've got to move to something better fairly soon.

I basically hadn't upgraded in the past because the export facility for this version doesn't include the actual article ID number used in the database. Without that, some of my internal links would go awry once the new site was up, since pages would have different numbers. I try to avoid breaking existing URL links whenever I can. I've just come across too many 404s in my time, I guess.

I'll probably try to catch V for Vendetta sometime this weekend. I'd also kind of like to see Night Watch, though I'm not sure if I'm in the mood. Oh, and I wanted to see Why We Fight. Hmm, there don't seem to be any good comedies out right now, except perhaps for Tristram Shandy (which I saw last week), and Dave Chappelle's Block Party.

Hmm.. Thinkety thinkety thinkety...

Posted by mike at 04:45 PM | Internet , Movies | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Around the World

So apparently the first station to carry a digital version of KCMP 89.3 "The Current" is …

Drumroll, please…

KPCC 89.3 FM in Pasadena, California.


Well, it all makes sense. Perhaps a scary amount of sense.

KPCC is operated as Southern California Public Radio and has a low-power (600W) but high-altitude signal that covers much of the Los Angeles metropolitan area. SCPR is a relative of Minnesota Public Radio—both are under the umbrella of the American Public Media Group, which is a "financial support organization" for those public radio entities.

KPCC is one of the main competitors to KCRW, which has been known for its music selection, and has been credited with introducing a number of artists to the music executives and other influential people that populate the region. Digital radio is still expensive, the domain of audiophiles and others with money to spend (ie, those same music execs that bought an HD Radio tuner to pick up KCRW).

Moderately astute individuals will also notice the similarity between the current KPCC logo (Hah! Punny…) and logos that have been used by 89.3 here in Minnesota. This also makes the recent huff between MPR and Al Gore's Current_TV make a lot more sense. Well, I already figured that MPR would try to expand the brand of "The Current," though I expected it to spread here in Minnesota first.

Like a lot of things about Minnesota Public Radio, it's pretty cool and pretty creepy at the same time.

Posted by mike at 09:54 PM | Music | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


The trial of Zacarias Moussaoui has been rolling around in my head for a while. I haven't had much time to research it, so I can't say a whole lot, but it seems pretty clear to me that he has some significant mental illness (apparently it's something that runs in his family). Back in January, his defense team suggested that he's schizophrenic. That's probably the most recent statement to that effect. Heck, if you do a Google search for "Moussaoui crazy", there's a fairly long history of statements, even from people who trained him at flight schools.

Moussaoui's statements recently, in particular that he was going to fly a fifth plane with "shoe bomber" Richard Reid, just seem to underline the fact that he can't separate reality from fantasy. It's possible that he's telling the truth, but it seems far-fetched to me. Moussaoui has made a number of other statements about what his plans were, including flying a plane into the prison holding the "blind sheik" Omar Abdel-Rahman in order to allow him to escape.

I don't think Moussaoui should get the death penalty, but my reasoning is largely based on things other than his mental health. First, he may have been involved in a conspiracy to commit murder, but he didn't kill anyone. It's possible that he didn't kill anyone simply because he got caught, but it seems to me that he was probably already disowned from that group by the time he was captured (likely because he was a flake). Second, what is the best punishment for someone who supposedly wanted to become a martyr by committing suicide? For me, Moussaoui's mental state comes in third in the reasoning to keep him alive. Unfortunately, I don't believe he has enough operational knowledge to be of help in fighting terrorism today, four and a half years after he was captured.

It's kind of strange looking back at this story. I remember watching the local news when he was first arrested, though I can't really recall what I thought at the time. Today, I suspect he was picked up simply because he's not sane. If only one of the core hijackers had been as loopy, September 11th might not have happened.

Posted by mike at 10:43 AM | September 11th | Comments (0)