Monday, October 31, 2005

WORTH ARGUING ABOUT

Alito is worth serious debate. He has the kind of judicial record and credentials that a Supreme Court nominee should have.

I'm still baffled why Bush nominated Miers when people like Alito could have been nominated instead of her.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

WHY 2K?

There have been more than 2,000 military deaths in Iraq . . . so far.

Is that newsworthy?

No.

If ensuring a democratic Iraq and (potentially) a much safer mid east costs 20,000 US lives today (rather than 200,000 "tomorrow"), it still makes sense.

It may sound carelessly cruel and unsympathetic to the personal tragedy of 2,000 lost lives, but it has been worth the price, but only if we stay the course.

If we bolt from Iraq and it degenerates into a latter-day Beirut, it will have been a tragic waste.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

DON'T WORRY -- BE HAPPY

I agree 100% with the author of this report.

99.9999% of us are safer today than we have been at any other time in recent history.

However, when 80% of the news is focused on the three places in the World that are truly unsafe, it certainly affects your outlook.

Friday, October 14, 2005

ANOTHER HONDA IN THE GARAGE

Further to my deliberation about what vehicle to buy . . .

It's a Honda Accord Hybrid.

They are over-priced (as are all hybrids), but if you can buy one for $1,000 under dealer invoice (as I did), go for it.

Further, when I did the math, I concluded the Accord would save me $1,000 a year (and 253 gallons of fuel conserved) compared to my Mercedes wagon*. You might do some quick mental math and wonder why I calculated gas costs at $4 a gallon. I didn't. My Mercedes drank only unleaded premium, while the Accord sips unleaded regular -- yet its engines generate 51% more power than the Merc.


* For the bean counters, my assumptions were:
  • 20,000 miles a year
  • Regular costs $2.45
  • Premium costs $2.85
  • Mercedes averages 23.5 mpg (a real number)
  • Honda averages 33.5 mpg (probably a little conservative)

Thursday, October 06, 2005

CARBLOG? MAYBE . . . MAYBE NOT

Well, I may not morph this into a carblog, but I have been shopping for a car and even though I fancy myself as knowing an awful lot about cars, I'm still surprised every time I go to an auto show or just visit a bunch of dealers.

The past week or so I've been on a quest to replace my Merc C240 wagon. It will be turning into a pumpkin soon (a/k/a lease turn-in) so it's time to think about a replacement, but what?

My needs are simple:

1. Something to safely get me from point A (home) to point B (work), plus the usual weekend errand stuff.

2. We already have a family/utility vehicle, so a wagon/SUV/etc. would be redundant.

3. I hate big cars.

4. It has to be either all-wheel or front-wheel drive for the winters. Not so much for me, but for the other drivers in the family who didn't grow up in snow.

5. It has to have a back seat (sorry, no Pontiac Solstice) that will comfortably hold two teenagers, one of whom is six feet tall.

6. It can be a four or a two-door and doesn't need to have a trunk/boot that's overly large.

7. While it would be nice to have a diesel, I can't get warm and fuzzy over a Jetta or Passat, my only US options. If we had access to the numerous European market diesel cars (and the required decent diesel fuel), I'd be buying one of those in a heartbeat.

8. While I like the enviro aspect of a hybrid, the upcharge for one of those things is ridiculous, even after the tax credit.

9. Oh yes, I just can't fathom that there is an American nameplate (other than the aforementioned Pontiac Solstice) that I could stomach owning. Yes, I can read the JD Powers results that show American car quality is up dramatically and some American nameplates rank higher than Japanese. OK -- they've got the quality thing licked, but they still drive like American cars!!! Once the car magazines start talking about an American sedan that's 95% of what you get in a BMW 3-series, I'm there. Until then . . .

10. Finally, though I've owned at least one of each of them, I am not the least interested in any BMW, Lexus or Mercedes.

So, given my thought process, I built a list of potential vehicles. You may think I've lost my mind on a couple of these, but bear with me:

Acura TL
Acura TSX
Honda Accord
Honda Civic
Subaru Forester
Subaru Legacy
Toyota Camry
Toyota Avalon
Toyota Solara
Scion tC

When I subjected this list to further scrutiny, I elminated (for one subjective reason or another) the Acuras and the Toyotas, so it was very quickly down to the Hondas, Subarus and the Scion tC.

That's when I employed my kids as survey subject, taking them to dealers to see and sit (in the back seat) in each one of these vehicles. And that is when I got the surprise.

They said the Subarus were "OK", liking the Legacy more than the Forester since it has a bit more room in the back.

Next stop was the Honda dealer. I thought the Accord might be the slam dunk. They liked it but then asked if they could sit in the Civic. I was shocked when they sat down and said "cool, there's a ton of room back here!" In a Honda Civic Coupe??? Not that I don't trust them but I said "let me try it." They were right. There's about the same back seat room in it (for two) as there is in my Mercedes.

With the Scion dealer down the street, it was the same story as with the Civic. The tC has a very roomy back seat and even give the back seat passengers their own (small) moon roof to play with.

So -- from the world of available cars down to the Honda Civic Coupe and the Scion tC.

I still haven't decided and, who knows, something may happen in the interim that spins me off in another direction (like hearing that I can buy a really cool expensive car at auction for $cheapo).

I'll let you know where I wind up, but I must say that the idea of a Honda Civic or a Scion tC a couple of months ago was something I would not have predicted. What I discovered is these cars are not just fun cars for young people. They are also very practical (did I mention the 2006 Civic gets 40 mpg highway mileage?).