Wednesday, July 26, 2006
As a long-time devoted Rams fan, I am saddened that Marshall Faulk continues to have problems with his knees. He will miss the entire season and go through, yet another, in a long series, of knee surgeries. Faulk represents the epitome of class in the NFL. In a league known for it loud-mouthed showboats, Faulk, in his prime was a better player than the Terrell Owens and Keyshawn Johnsons out there. That's because he knew it was never about him, it was always about the team and about winning.
I remember the 2002 season, after the Rams went to the Superbowl, they were having a bad season. Bob Costas interviewed Faulk and began asking him what was wrong with this team that was heavily favored to go back to the Superbowl. Faulk began trying to answer the questions, but had to finally walk out of the interview, apologizing as he walked out "I'm sorry but I just can't do this." Costner later explained on his show that Faulk had told him that the Rams poor start that year (I believe they were 0-5 at the time) was just eating him alive.
In last year's off-season, there were speculations that the Rams would trade or even release Marshall Faulk. Instead, Faulk voluntarily took a cut in pay and demoted himself to the number 2 running back. Why? Because he knew his role had changed and he could best serve the team by being a mentor to the Ram's new running back, Stephen Jackson. Again, it was team first with him.
It is a shame if this marks the end of the playing career of Marshall Faulk. If it is the end, I am really hoping the Rams keep him on staff. He's going to be a great head coach someday.
Saturday, July 22, 2006
"...take no responsibility for the current problems of the world. That's you!"
"And it's obvious you have never learned of the effects of a nuclear blast"
"Just also remember Robert being a conservative puts you in the same bed as Rush, O'Reilly etc. whether you agree with them or not."
Over the past year, Erik Weinberger and I have engaged in numerous debates. In this time, I've been directly called "demented", a "psychopath" and indirectly called ignorant. Erik, on numerous occasions has called me a "Republican" even though I've repeatedly told him I'm an Independent. So, that's even more disrespect. I soaked all this in. I didn't like it but I figured Erik was just lashing out his anger. Anyone who reads Erik's blog or the comments he has put on mine will realize that Erik holds a lot of hostility. Erik places the bulk of his anger conveniently on right-wingers, of whom, he obviously hates. I'm not a psychologist so my assessment ends here.
Yes, I took the abuse and I'm proud to say that I did not reciprocate. I looked at all my comments and postings and I can honestly say I never called Erik names or drew conclusions about him simply because of his political views. The most I ever did was call Erik childish, only because he was. Erik also accuses me of getting offended by his political views. I never have. I will take issue however, when he attacks me personally.
"It's funny how it's ok if you are a conservative how it's ok for you to be openly racist AS THEY ALL ARE"
I drew the line here. Now, I'm a racist? According to this remark, not only am I a racist, but so are many members of my family, many of my friends, and many people whom I've never met but have great respect for. When I got angry for this and asked for an apology, Erik said I have sour grapes and also said the following:
"I'm not apologizing for stating facts for what your party and your views stand for and that's what they stand for."
He not only indirectly calls me a Republican again, he reaffirms his earlier statement.
"I will not apologize for calling conservatives racists WHEN THEY ARE"
This was his own response on his own blog. So, not only does Erik not apologize for calling me (a long-time acquaintance and someone I believed was my friend), a racist, he has repeated the accusation twice.
This is a blow I am not going to sit and take. Calling someone racist, in my mind, is very serious. I take personal responsibility and strive for fairness at all times. I know too many good people who are not racists to let this slide.
Of course, the irony really is that Erik tagged an entire group of people with a negative label. That's the very basis of racism - applying a belief on an entire group of people based on what one perceives in one or a few. Erik's statement doesn't apply to people of a different skin color than his, but the principle is still there.
I am angry. His accusations are uncalled for and have no basis, whatsoever. I have deleted the link to his blog. I will no longer contribute to his site. If any readers want to see his narrow-minded blog, just click on his name in any of his comments. I just will not openly endorse him. This isn't about freedom of speech. I am not censoring anybody but I am attempting to clear my name.
And Erik, if I am a racist, that doesn't say much for you. After all, we did hang around together all those years.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
As I already stated, the auto industry has changed. While the above answers would be fairly true had the question been asked in the 1980's, the answer today is much more muddled. The U.S. government began putting higher tariffs on imported vehicles in the 1980's. This led to foreign manufacturers to be incented to build their cars and trucks here in the United States. Meanwhile, the "Big 3" American automakers (GM, Ford, and Chrysler) set up plants in Mexico and Canada to take advantage of cheap labor. So, paradoxically, manufacturers seen as foreign are building as many cars in America as the manufacturers thought of as American. In fact, the large pickup trucks made by Nissan and Toyota (the Titan and Tundra, respectively) were designed and are built and sold exclusively in North America. Orange County, California is now the automobile design capital of the world. Almost any modern car, SUV, or truck you see on the road today was designed in Irvine or somewhere close to it. The Honda Accord is sold world-wide but the Accord you see in the United States is not the same one the rest of the world has. The U.S. Accord is larger. If you want an Accord like the rest of the world, you can buy an Acura TSX.
If you are wondering what cars actually are manufactured in the United States. I've compiled a list (Thank you Autobytel). Most vehicles today are comprised of a certain percentage of foreign parts and this list does not cover that. Note that I include the parent companies and their subsidiaries. Many people aren't aware of how few actual companies there are. Also note that some vehicles by one manufacturer are built by another manufacturer. Such is the case where Dodge builds the Mitsubishi Raider pickup truck, which is, in fact, a modified Dodge Dakota.
- X5 - Spartanburg, South Carolina
- Z4 - Spartanburg, South Carolina
- Sebring Convertible - Sterling Heights, Michigan
- Sebring Coupe - Normal, Illinois
- Sebring Sedan - Sterling Heights, Michigan
- Town & Country - St. Louis, Missouri
- Caravan - St. Louis, Missouri
- Dakota - Warren, Michigan
- Durango - Newark, Delaware
- Grand Caravan - St. Louis, Missouri
- Sprinter - Gaffney, South Carolina
- Stratus Coupe - Normal, Illinois
- Stratus Sedan - Sterling Heights, Michigan
- Ram - St. Louis, Missouri and Warren, Michigan
- Viper - Detroit, Michigan
- Commander - Detroit, Michigan
- Grand Cherokee - Detroit, Michigan
- Liberty - Toledo, Ohio
- Wrangler - Toledo, Ohio
- M-Class - Vance, Alabama
- R-Class - Vance, Alabama
- E-Series - Lorain, Ohio
- Escape - Kansas City, Missouri and Avon Lake, Ohio
- Excursion - Kansas City, Missouri
- Expedition - Wayne, Michigan
- Explorer - Louisville, Kentucky and Fenton, Missouri
- F-Series - Dearborn, Michigan; Wayne, Michigan; Kansas City, Missouri; Norfolk, Virginia
- Five Hundred - Chicago, Illinois
- Focus - Wayne, Michigan
- Freestyle - Chicago, Illinois
- GT - Wixom, Michigan
- Ranger - Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Taurus - Atlanta, Georgia
- Thunderbird - Wixom, Michigan
Ford - Lincoln
- Aviator - Fenton, Missouri
- LS - Wixom, Michigan
- Mark LT - Dearborn, Michigan
- Navigator - Wayne, Michigan
- Town Car - Wixom, Michigan
Ford - Mercury
- Mariner - Avon Lake, Ohio
- Montego - Chicago, Illinois
- Mountaineer - Louisville, Kentucky and Fenton, Missouri
- Sable - Atlanta, Georgia
General Motors - Cadillac
- CTS - Lansing, Michigan
- DeVille - Hamtramck, Michigan
- DTS - Hamtramck, Michigan
- Escalade - Arlington, Texas
- SRX - Lansing, Michigan
- STS - Lansing, Michigan
- XLR - Bowling Green, Kentucky
General Motors - Chevrolet
- Cobalt - Lordstown, Ohio
- Colorado - Shreveport, Louisiana
- Corvette - Bowling Green, Kentucky
- Express - Wentzville, Missouri
- Malibu - Kansas City, Missouri
- Malibu Maxx - Kansas City, Missouri
- Silverado - Flint, Michigan; Pontiac, Michigan; Ft. Wayne, Indiana
- SSR - Lansing, Michigan
- Suburban - Arlington, Texas and ; Janesville, Wisconsin
- Tahoe - Arlington, Texas and Janesville, Wisconsin
- TrailBlazer - Moraine, Ohio
- TrailBlazer EXT - Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
- Uplander - Doraville, Georgia
General Motors - GMC
- Canyon - Shreveport, Louisiana
- Envoy - Moraine, Ohio
- Envoy XL - Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
- Envoy XUV - Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
- Savana - Wentzville, Missouri
- Sierra - Flint, Michigan; Pontiac, Michigan; Ft. Wayne, Indiana
- Yukon - Arlington, Texas and Janesville, Wisconsin
- Yukon XL - Arlington, Texas and Janesville, Wisconsin
General Motors - Hummer
- H1 - Mishawaka, Indiana
- H2 - Mishawaka, Indiana
- H3 - Shreveport, Louisiana
General Motors - Pontiac
- G6 - Orion Township, Michigan
- Grand Am - Lansing, Michigan
- Montana SV6 - Doraville, Georgia
- Solstice - Wilmington, Delaware
- Sunfire - Lordstown, Ohio
- Vibe - Fremont, California (by Toyota)
General Motors - Saab
- 9-7X - Moraine, Ohio
General Motors - Saturn
- Ion - Spring Hill, Tennessee
- L-Series - Wilmington, Delaware
- Relay - Doraville, Georgia
- Vue - Spring Hill, Tennessee
- Accord - Marysville, Ohio
- Civic - East Liberty, Ohio
- Element - East Liberty, Ohio
- Odyssey - Lincoln, Alabama
- Pilot - Lincoln, Alabama
Honda - Acura
- TL - Marysville, Ohio
- Sonata - Montgomery, Alabama
- Santa Fe - Montgomery, Alabama
- 6 - Flat Rock, Michigan
- B-Series - Minneapolis, Minnesota (by Ford)
- Tribute - Kansas City, Missouri (by Ford)
- Eclipse - Normal, Illinois
- Endeavor - Normal, Illinois
- Galant - Normal, Illinois
- Raider - Warren, Michigan (by Dodge)
- Altima - Smyrna, Tennessee and Canton, Mississippi
- Armada - Canton, Mississippi
- Frontier - Smyrna, Tennessee
- Maxima - Smyrna, Tennessee
- Pathfinder - Smyrna, Tennessee
- Quest - Canton, Mississippi
- Titan - Canton, Mississippi
- Xterra - Smyrna, Tennessee
Nissan - Infiniti
- QX56 - Canton, Mississippi
- Baja - Lafayette, Indiana
- B9 Tribeca - Lafayette, Indiana
- Legacy - Lafayette, Indiana
- Outback - Lafayette, Indiana
- Avalon - Georgetown, Kentucky
- Camry - Georgetown, Kentucky
- Corolla - Fremont, California
- Sequoia - Princeton, Indiana
- Sienna - Princeton, Indiana
- Tundra - Princeton, Indiana (Soon to be San Antonio, Tx)
- Tacoma - Fremont, California
You may be thinking that some vehicles are missing on this list. If you were looking for any of the following:
Chrysler PT Cruiser
They aren't on the list because they are built in Mexico or Canada.
You may also have noticed that there are few imported luxury cars made in America. That's because these are high priced vehicles anyways and the tariffs don't represent as much a fraction of their sticker price.
Now, whether the vehicle you drive is American-made or not is a personal decision up to you. I, personally would hate to see virtually all of my car-buying dollars get converted to yen or euros. It's not the only factor for me though. I actually came close to buying a Japanese-built Toyota Rav4 this year. Instead, I ended up buying a U.S. built Jeep that is now of course, branded by a German company.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
- Ethanol will reduce our dependence on fossil fuel.
- Ethanol will cut out dependence on foreign oil.
- Ethanol will protect us from gas price shocks.
- Ethanol will clean up the air.
- Ethanol will save us from global warming.
Ethanol will reduce our dependence on fossil fuel.
This is very unlikely. First of all, the government is currently mandating that gasoline sold in the United States is to comprise of 2.78% ethanol. It's not to hard to figure out that our expanding car-driving population is consuming more gasoline every year, even in this age of hybrids and the return of the small econo-car (Toyota Yaris, Nissan Versa, and Honda Fit are the primary examples), and $3 plus gas prices, Americans are going to burn 5 to 10% more gasoline this year than last. Very simple math tells us that the 2.78% is not going to cover this increase. What's more is that it takes fossil fuels (mainly coal or natural gas) in order to produce ethanol. More on that further on.
Ethanol will cut out dependence on foreign oil.
The same arguments generally apply here. Car and Driver even states that if we devoted all our production of ethanol to replace foreign oil, we would reduce foreign oil imports by a mere 1.4%. That's assuming, of course, that our demand for energy stays the same, which is not happening. I know, I know, you're asking by now; "Why not produce a lot more ethanol, then?" Read further, I'll get to that.
Ethanol will protect us from gas price shocks.
The arguments shown above indicate why this is very unlikely to be true. Ethanol isn't that cheap to make. In fact, it is only because gasoline has gotten to the $3 mark that justifies even using ethanol.
Ethanol will clean up the air.
Nope. With ethanol, you're substituting one pollutant for another. Ethanol produces less carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide than gasoline. However ethanol produces a relatively large amount of acetaldehydes that quite harmful to the environment. Don't forget that coal and/or natural gas are required to make ethanol and they are capable of contributing plenty of CO (carbon monoxide) and other nasty stuff to the air.
Ethanol will save us from global warming.
Assuming that human-produced emissions really are significantly warming the planet (this is a highly contestable assertion that I will discuss another time), ethanol's carbon dioxide output is only about 4% less than gasoline's. If we assume that your gas tank is 3% ethanol, that means your car is outputting 4 percent of 3 percent which equals .12 percent less carbon dioxide. That's hardly a big deal.
What Car and Driver Didn't Say
Anyone who has ever studied thermodynamics knows the first rule of energy. Energy cannot be created or destroyed. It can only be transferred. Your car, for example, cannot generate enough electricity to run itself and it never will. It's totally impossible. This basic rule is why fossil fuels have such appeal. The amount of energy needed to extract and refine fossil fuels is minimal compared with the amount of energy yielded by the fuel. That's because the energy was already there, having been absorbed over millions of years of just sitting there. The problem with ethanol and most other alternative energy sources is we must use significant amounts of energy to get the energy we want.
Ethanol comes from corn. To make corn requires fertilizing soil. Let's think about that one for a minute. Fertilizer comes from manure. There is already a pollution issue in the nation's heartland from all the cows and pigs. When you concentrate these animals, as we have, you get a major source of methane and carbon dioxide, not to mention one hell of a stink. This has been a rising issue in the nation's corn production before ethanol came into the picture.
Ethanol doesn't just squeeze out of the corn. It has to be processed. This is similar to refining oil and here is where we need ovens powered by oil, natural gas, or coal. Wait! you say. Why not use ethanol-powered ovens? If you are thinking this, you've forgotten the first rule of thermodynamics shown above.
Ethanol is not as energy efficient as gasoline. You can expect a small mpg hit when using fuel that is laced with ethanol.
I have to wonder how big an incentive it will be for farmers to start producing corn for ethanol production. I suspect we will see a rise in food prices that will offset any savings (if any) we would get from ethanol.
So who benefits from increased use of ethanol? It appears to be the farmers and the politicians being lobbied. It's not likely to be most of us.