August 2003 Archives

The Hippie Candidate?

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So, isn't Howard Dean supposed to be the free-love hippy candidate? But if that's the case, then why the paucity of CL postings about the rally? I mean, seriously, I think that Ikea openings get more Craigslist action.

Is it, in fact, true that Dean supporters are actually a bunch up up-tight kids who aren't interested in hooking up (the alternative explanation is that they're really just a bunch of horndogs who all hooked up at the rally, thus turning Bryant Park into a giant sexual free-for-all, but I kinda doubt that happened)?

Entry #800

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Quick question: Is anyone out there reading this site using an RSS reader/aggregator? And if they are, would a full-text version of this site in RSS/RDF format be useful? (if you have no idea what I'm talking about, you can safely ignore this entire post)

Please leave comments, in, well, the comments.

Bostonian

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Pictures from the Hub, aka Boston (it'll open in a new window):

bostonmosaic.jpg

Last One

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For Renee:

1. What have you done in the past five years that has most surprised you?
2. The advantages of living on Long Island are:
3. What's the bravest thing you've ever done?
4. Devo: under-appreciated geniuses or a bunch of crackpots with schtick?
5. How do you define comfort food?

Interview Game, Part The Third

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These are for Doc (which, oddly enough, was a nickname I had in college):

1. Your car (assuming you have a car -- if you don't, assume that you do), a full tank of gas, a fistful of dollars and 72 hours to kill. Where do you go?
2. Why did you start blogging?
3. How many keys on your keychain and what do they do?
4. Cats: soft, furry companions or evil demons bent on dominating the planet?
5. What is the one thing that you wish your parents had told you when you were younger?

Remember the rules of the Interview Game:

1. Leave a comment, saying you want to be interviewed.
2. I will respond; I'll ask you five questions.
3. You'll update your website with my five questions, and your five answers.
4. You'll include this explanation.
5. You'll ask other people five questions when they want to be interviewed.

This Is Very Cool

NetNewsWire is a RSS reader for the Macintosh that uses the standard three-pane interface. I think it's the best RSS reader out there.

However, not everyone is enamored of the three-pane interface, and some would prefer a three-column interface (much like Mac OS X's column view).

Well, this guy has managed to pull it off: Widescreen NetNewsWire. It's a really, really, really neat hack, and it's really easy to do.

A Fan Talks Back

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An anonymous Colin Ferrell fan apparently found my post about the Oscars this year, and had this to say:

There is nothing "Up" with Colin Farell's eyebrowns you are just jelous because he is famous and your not so dont talk about him or anyone because you dont look any better I bet.And for your information Colin looks fine and he is a great actor. So shut-up!

Now, what's interesting is that that post is the only time I've ever mentioned Colin Farrell on my site (this being the second time), and my comments were limited to a one-line query about his utterly out-of-control eyebrows (think bushy, if I recall correctly).

What's even more interesting is that the comment was appended to the end of this post, which has absolutely nothing at all do with actors, the movies, Colin Farrell or eyebrows (clicking on the picture is recommended).

Getting The Groove Back

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A new article up on Mimeograph: How Regina Got Her (Culinary) Groove Back.

End of the Line

Julie's finally done with The Julie/Julia Project.

I gotta say that I'm highly impressed.

Il Ritorno di Ulysses

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Back from Beantown (though, to be fair, no-one from Boston actually calls it "Beantown", much the same way that no-one from San Francisco calls it "Frisco"), and boy are my arms tired.

Update: You can read Ken's account here, wherein he explicates some details that I managed to have accidentally left out.

The drive up was uneventful, not counting the alien abduction.

Getting to the hotel itself wasn't that hard, even given the many wrong turns we took. For those not familiar with the streets in Boston, they were all originally cow and goat paths that eventually got paved over. More to the point, local legend claims that those self-same cows and goats were usually drunk from drinking fermented milk, so those paths don't always go in straight lines. Which can make driving in the city an interesting proposition, particularly if you don't know exactly where you're going and how to get there.

Friday night involved wandering up through Faneuil Hall, through most of the North End (sample quotes: "I didn't know that there were Italians in Boston;" "It's just like Little Italy, but smaller!" and "Do you know where Paul Revere's house is?"), eventually ending up at the world-famous Union Oyster House (America's oldest restaurant!), where a lobster met a grisly and messy end (and I uncovered a family secret that had been hidden for decades).

The next morning, we got up and wandered out to the waterfront (really the only thing to see there is a giant construction project), passed the aquarium (closer to town than I remembered it being), and meandered through the Haymarket (New York could really use something like the Haymarket, I think; in comparison, the greenmarkets of Manhattan are like boutique malls) before hopping on the T to go to the game.

As for the game, all I have to say is 4 hours, no shade, 10-inning Red Sox victory. Ken was crushed (sample quote: "Mike Fucking Cameron! Mike Fucking Cameron! Mike Fucking Cameron!" ad infinitum for the rest of the day).

It was a good ballgame (even if the Sox's imported South Korean closer blew yet another save), but as a result of a four-hour, no-shade (and, more to the point, no-hat) interval, I turned the same color as the lobster I had destroyed the night before (the doctors say that the bandages should come off in a couple of months with minimal scarring).

After walking back to the hotel (one look at all 35,000 fans trying to squeeze into the Kenmore T stop, and it seemed like walking would be the better part of valor), we ended up having dinner at Durgin-Park (motto: "Established Before You Were Born"), a restaurant that pretty much has one thing on the menu: very large pieces of meat (there actually is quite a bit on the menu, but really, the only reason to go there is for the very large pieces of meat). It also has a pretty neat open kitchen, and features communal seating.

A few heavily alcoholic beverages, and it's back to the hotel.

Sunday morning we make our way down to Chinatown, as it's only a block or two away. Boston's Chinatown hasn't really changed much from my childhood memories; it's still basically two streets that meet at a T intersection. Chinatown's companion, though, the infamous Combat Zone, is pretty much gone at this point; a couple of adult bookstores is a far cry from the fearsome red-light district of years past.

From there, we walked over to the U.S.S. Constitution, the world's oldest commissioned warship still afloat. Originally commissioned in 1797, the Constitution is still crewed and commanded by active-duty U.S. Navy personnel. After a long wait in the security checkpoint line, we finally got aboard. Our tour was interrupted by the arriving class of new Chief Petty Officers; as part of their initiation, they lined up and sang "Anchors Aweigh". Eight (or nine) times, each louder than the last.

A short (but expensive) taxi ride back to the hotel, and we bid Boston adieu (via a circuitous exit plan that involved Beacon Hill, Cambridge Memorial Drive, bits of the MIT campus, driving through Brookline, getting lost in Newton, and finally, via an amazing feat of dead-reckoning navigation (remember what I said about the drunken goats?), an arrival at the Mass Pike.

The drive back was pretty uneventful, too, not counting the gangster firefight at the Texaco.

Pictures to come.

A Few For the Weekend

Here are a few for y'all to look at this weekend while I'm off gallivanting about:

And now, to Boston.

Bahstan

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So, do any of my regular Boston readers have any tips about what to do and where to go in Boston (other than directing traffic, that is)?

McDonald's Math

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The McDonald's around the corner from my office sells a six-piece box of processed Chicken McNuggets for $2.69 (plus tax). They also sell a four-piece box for $1.00 (plus tax).

Or, in other words, the canny consumer has the option of buying eight McNuggets for $2.00 or two fewer McNuggets for seventy cents more.

And people wonder why the company is having a tough time of it.

I Pity The Fool

While some folks were out there doing their bit for a better Manhattan during the blackout, some asshats were writing parking tickets.

The Perfect Storm

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There's a new fast-moving email worm that's mucking up email servers today. I'm getting buckets and buckets of them, not to mention the bounce messages I'm getting when the damn thing tries to spread itself using my email address as a forged From: header....

I'll skip the sermon about how this could be avoided if we used non-Microsoft operating systems in favor of asking all my Windows-using readers to make sure that they're not infected with this worm. Thanks -- the internet appreciates it.

Question Time: Special Jersey Girl edition

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For D'Lish:

  1. What's the best thing about New York being so close to Jersey (or vice versa)?
  2. Your boss called you this morning and told you to take the day off. What do you do?
  3. Who are Tweeter and the Monkey Man?
  4. Skee-ball: stupid carny game or America's secret pastime?
  5. What's it really like being a Jersey Girl?

For Gigglechick:

  1. What are the differences between Bon Jovi country and Springsteen country?
  2. Blackout sex: Hot and romantic or just too damn hot to have sex?
  3. What made you go into stand-up?
  4. Hairspray: essential beauty product or environmental menace?
  5. What's it really like being a Jersey Girl?

When The Lights (almost) went out in Cleveland

Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich (blogging over at Larry Lessig's place) has some interesting things to say about the power industry and the glory of deregulation back when he was mayor of Cleveland.

Highly recommended reading (even if I'd probably never vote for him).

Well, That Was Interesting

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I'm back, more or less.

The exciting details of how I survived the Great Blackout of Aught Three can be found over here at Whybark's joint (though I did leave out the bit where I teamed up with a time-travelling cyborg from the future to save humanity).

My email is back, too, kinda sorta; if you've sent me any email since about 4:10 p.m. EDT Thursday, you might want to send it again, as it may have either bounced or disappeared in to a black hole (in theory, that shouldn't happen, but in theory, 50 million people in 9 states/provinces over two countries shouldn't lose their power in 9 seconds, either).

What I Did During the Great Blackout of Aught-Three

What follows below was originally posted over at Mike Whybark's website as I couldn't access my blog until rather late at night the day after the lights went out. Enjoy:

Well, as I write this, some twenty-five-and-a-half-hours after the lights first went out, things still aren’t entirely back to normal in the big bad city. Part of the city are still without power, and, more importantly, I still don’t have email or a website.

I left my office at about five, after some 50 minutes or so of trying to figure out what was going on. Terrorism was the elephant in the living room — no-one was talking about it, but at the same time, everyone was thinking about it. My co-worker lives up in Connecticut, and he was short of cash. I loaned him some money, either to get a hotel room or to try to get a taxi up to Greenwich.

I just assumed (correctly) that the subways were going to be out of service. Walking up Park Avenue, I saw men in very expensive suits holding up manila folders with the words “Westchester — Will Pay Big Bucks” written across them in bold marker. Traffic northbound on Park was at a standstill — a police SUV eventually gave up and headed up the wrong side of the street, siren bleating.

Central Park was strangely quiet; people were lolling about in Sheep Meadow, throwing footballs and frisbees around. After leaving the park, I stopped by a car that had it’s radio on. They were talking about a power failure up in the Niagara-Mohawk area that cascaded across the region. I got home and stomped up eight flights, flashlight borrowed from the super. Then I took a shower. I tried calling my family, but the phones were not really working.

I went back downstairs. A tiny little blonde girl who lives in the building was standing out by the front door. It was her twenty-fifth birthday. There had been plans for a big party. I told her that at least her twenty-fifth birthday was a memorable one. The bakery next door was giving out free cupcakes.

I walked down Columbus. The doorman at my parents’ building told me that they were out. Down at 57th and Ninth Ave., a lone soul was bravely trying to direct traffic. I jumped out into the middle of the intersection to give him a hand. A guy from the deli came out and gave the two of us bottles of water. You guys are New Yorkers of the month, he said as he gave me the water.

Drivers would come through the intersection, and give us the thumbs up. A lost trucker came through and asked me for directions to the George Washington Bridge. The hardest part of the job, aside from trying to avoid getting killed, was directing pedestrians. They don’t listen to anyone.

A woman came up to me in the middle of the intersection. She said she was a reporter from Ohio. She tried to interview me while I was directing traffic. I suggested that she talk to the other guy, as he’d been there longer. It was a bit distracting trying to talk to her and not get hit by cars barreling down Ninth Avenue.

Later, a fella on rollerblades came up and asked me if I wanted an orange vest. I said sure. He pointed out that I looked a bit like a pedestrian.

There’s a lot of non-verbal communication that goes on when two guys try to direct traffic. The other guy’s name was Nick.

Occasionally cops would come roaring through, sirens on high. They would slow and make a point of tipping their hats to us. I figured that they were off doing more important things.

The guy with the rollerblades came back later. By then, my arms were getting tired. You try holding up your left arm for 45 minutes. He had bright orange life vests. Turned out that he had participated in the dragon boat races out in Flushing last weekend, and just happened to have them around his apartment. I put one on, and he gave me a note with his name and address, so we could return them later. Then he shot off, looking for more people

My brother showed up not long thereafter, bearing more water. That was a good thing, as I’d gone through that first bottle rather quickly. People walking by stopped and took pictures of us.

After about an hour of standing out there dodging and directing traffic, some auxiliary police officers — in uniforms and everything — showed up to supplant the civilian traffic control. A guy with a red mustache and a mike came up and interviewed me. I noticed that Nick had a small gaggle of folks with small digital video camcorders surrounding him. I sauntered over there. As the cameras turned to me, Nick slipped away, glad to be away from the limelight. I guess I now know why athletes always repeat the same cliches over and over in locker-room interviews after games. I just said that I was just trying to help out as best I could.

After mumbling some more platitudes, I said that I had to go; time to return the life vest, time to go home.

After stopping off at my parents’ apartment (14 floors, and I don’t need to tell you that down is much easier than up), I went home. I hung out downstairs, talking with the other folks from the building as dusk settled over Manhattan, waiting for someone with a flashlight to go upstairs with me. I’m not afraid of the dark; I’m afraid of falling down a stairwell in the dark and breaking something important for locomotion, like an ankle or a leg. Once inside my nearly pitch black apartment, I found some matches by the light of a cell phone, and lit a couple of candles.

I heard an echoing guitar somewhere, so I grabbed a still-cold six-pack of beer and a candle and headed off in search of it. A kid was playing in the stairwell, taking advantage of the echo chamber. We drank our beer cold and just hung out, not saying much.

The lights came back on at 5:32 in the morning. I know this because I left the lights in my room on — I wanted to reset my alarm clock so I could get up in the morning and go to work if there was power. I had heard the mayor suggesting that power could be restored by 2 or 3, which is what gave me my ill-fated idea. Of course, the heat and the helicopter hovering right outside my window didn’t provide much in the way of a restful rest.

By 7 a.m., the radio was reporting that parts of Manhattan had power (which was obvious to me, since I was listening to an AC-powered radio), including parts of midtown, but that the authorities were urging people not to come to work if they had to. The subway system was down (and would be down until “six-to-nine hours after power had been fully restored to the entire city”); commuter rail was out completely; buses were running, but on limited schedules.

I got to work by 7:45 a.m. on my bike, only to find out that the entire east side was still without power. There was no work to be done though; the entire building my office was in was closed. I waited outside the building, sitting on the ground. A couple of other people from the office showed up. Small talk was made. We saw some buses go by on Third Avenue; they were all stuffed to the gills. I finally went home at about nine, concerned about the increasing rush-hour traffic and the increasing temperature.

A restaurant up the street had a blackout special: $10 all-you-can-eat eggs, bacon, and french fries. It was pretty tasty. Naps were taken, and once my cable modem returned, websites were surfed (Amy Langfield’s tale of being trapped in the subway is a must-read, among others). And now, thanks to future California governor Mike Whybark, tales are told.

Question Time

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Questions:

1. What do you want to accomplish in the next five years?
2. What do you think you have accomplished in the past five years?
3. Favorite color, and why.
4. What are you really passionate about?
5. What do you think the biggest challenge immediately facing you is? Be specific, please.

Three Must-Reads

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The First Rule of Interview Club

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Interview Game: The Rules

1. Leave a comment, saying you want to be interviewed.
2. I will respond; I'll ask you five questions.
3. You'll update your website with my five questions, and your five answers.
4. You'll include this explanation.
5. You'll ask other people five questions when they want to be interviewed.

My questions are from Michelle.

1. what do you leave unsaid?

Most things -- I think that context and subtext remove the need for explicating things. My FAQ, for example, it's been accused of being deliberately shallow and facile, which is true to a certain extent, but I think that if you really read what I've written, there's a lot of stuff there. Same goes for this blog.
2. best thing (or line) you've ever said?
Gosh, of all the clever and witty things I've said over the years, I have to pick only one? Well, the most common thing I see to say is "Ummm", closely followed by "Errrr" and "Uhh". But best? I don't really go around collecting my own bon mots. Perhaps I need to hire my own Boswell.
3. who do you call to bail you out of jail? (and why?)
My sister, 'cause she can kick ass when ass needs kickin'.
4. biggest influence in your life?
My father.
5. ideal afternoon is spent doing what?
I don't believe in the platonic ideal of the perfect afternoon (for one thing, there's far too many interesting things to do that wouldn't fit in an afternoon), but one possibility would be to start with lunch in a cafe, a stroll through the quartier latin and then over to the Pompidou Center followed by a walk back to the hotel. Or perhaps a bike ride through Central Park followed by a good movie. Or a late brunch combined with a lazy nap. Or 10th row behind home plate at Fenway Park, watching the Red Sox play the Yankees. Or lunch at the Peak Cafe, and then a walk down Victoria Peak to...

Next Stop, the Smithsonian

Julie's been in Newsday, on the CBS Evening News, and now she's made it to the New York Times (written by Amanda Hesser, of course).

You go, girl.

Fair And Balanced and Brain-Dead

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Jeff Jarvis was watching the fair and balanced Fox News and caught this gem:

Just heard FoxNews' Adam Housley talking about all the languages to be used in the California ballots -- "but not in Austrian, the language of the country" Schwarzenegger came from.

Since It Seems to be Asian Pride Day Today at PF.org

Here's a great story about a Chinese-American rapper from the mean streets of Miami Beach.

Related is hip-hop's (not always appropriate) appropriation of Asian cultural tropes and memes...

Fair Kate

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According to EurasianNation, Kate Beckinsale qualifies as Eurasian, and insomuch as she's 1/8 Burmese (IMDB suggests that she's actually 1/4), I suppose that she does; she's just not exactly what one thinks of when one thinks "Eurasian".

I mean, Tiger Woods? Sure. Keanu Reeves? Yup. The Tilly Sisters? Dean Cain? Asia Carrera? Norah Jones? No problem. But Beckinsale? I dunno about that.

There are a bunch of interesting articles in their "Eurasian Experience" section; if you read a whole mess of them in a row, it's pretty easy to pick out the common themes and common experiences.

Highly Desirable

The Towers of Light are coming back.

Admittedly, it's for one night only, but I think that's it's very cool. (via ENY)

Howdy, Stranger

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Fish, Meet Barrel

In her comments about Gregory Hines today, Cindy Adams makes a tells a story about Hines and Mikhail Baryshnikov making a movie in the Soviet Union: "He loved his time with Mikhail Baryshnikov ... when director Taylor Hackford was filming "White Knights" in the USSR with Misha and Greg."

Aside from the fact that the name of the movie is White Nights (something that would 15 seconds for a chimp with an internet connection to fact-check), the fact is that Baryshnikov, as a defector, would have been immedately arrested and "re-educated" (most likey with rubber hoses and brass knuckles) the second he set foot in the Soviet Union. Indeed, the plot of the movie is built around what might happen if a famous dancing defector was on-board an airliner that was forced to crash-land in the USSR...

For the record, White Nights was actually shot in Finland.

Opera News

Well, I've picked my eight operas to see this season: the great Mozart comedies Don Giovanni (Mar. 16, 2004) and Le Nozze di Figaro (Nov. 19); the Puccini chestnut Madama Butterfly (Jan. 20, 2004); Rossini's light and funny L'Italiana in Algeri (Mar. 4, 2004); Wagner's towering Tristan un Isolde (Oct. 14); Schoenberg's never-finished Moses un Aron (Dec. 16); Strauss' allegorical Die Frau ohne Schatten (Dec. 3); and a very interesting-looking triptych of pieces from Stravinsky (Feb. 18).

(I originally had a couple more really depressing ones one my list, but I figured that I needed to see a few shows that didn't end with everyone dying this year)

If anyone's interested in picking up tickets to go see these (I've been doing this for a small group of friends every year since I came to New York -- I thought that I'd try opening it up to my reading public this year), drop me a line. I usually get the cheapest ($25-$33) tickets available. I'll be spending more than a few hours over the next day or so, poring over the Met Ticket Service Calendar, trying to pick the very best dates available. I've got dates: see above.

Spotted On The Horizon

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A new blog that looks like it's gonna be worth keeping an eye on: Sister Mary Karen - The Blog of a Recovering Catholic

La Nueva France

This is a great (if somewhat long) article about how Spain is where the real innovation in high cuisine is coming about. It's also got some interesting insights about the economics of the restaurant business.

It's the sort of thing that makes you hungry as you read it.

The Fix Is In

Now is anyone really surprised by this?

Rivals Say Halliburton Dominates Iraq Oil Work

But First, a Word From the Governor

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Humor from the website of California's next governor:

The first thing you notice about this book is that it's big... HUGE! So big, in fact, your forearms will probably double in size simply by turning the pages of it.

Arnold's talking about a book he wrote called The New Enyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding, which is apparently something of a bible for weighlifters.

Related: Arghnold.com, brought to you by Californians Against Opportunistic Celebrity Fuckwads (CAOCK). (link via Michelle, who refuses to eat dim sum despite the fact that she lives in one of the top four or five dim sum cities in the world)

Forget it, Jake

It's just like Chinatown but with horses: Horse Clone's Sister is Mom, Too.

All Benitez, All The Time

Remember that piece I ran a few weeks ago predicting that the Red Sox would win their division by five games?

Well, forget that.

In other, entirely unrelated news, baseball experts are now predicting that Oakland (currently 3.5 games behind division leader Seattle) will win the AL West.

Warping And Woofing

Joshua Fielek has a new travel piece up on Mimeograph: Warp, Woof.

Check it out.

Rrwoarrr!

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The claws are coming out in Gawker's comment section today.

The Future of the Art Colony

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Ken Goldstein proudly presents Donkloaf. Your art will never be the same.

In completely unrelated news, this Times article explores the link between art and madness.

Assumptions...

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Today's Cindy Adams column has the following gem: "Midtown parking lot. Bumper sticker on a car: "Be American, Buy American!" The car was a Honda."

Of course, that Honda was probably made in the US: the Accord and the Civic, the carmaker's two most popular models, are both made in the US, as is their minivan. Honda's not alone in importing factories to the US; Toyota's most popular cars are also built in North America.

This only goes to underscore the problem of corporate national identity in an increasingly multinational world.

The "Big Three" automakers are really only the "Big Two" now, as Chrysler (and the All-American Jeep brand) is part of the German-flavored two-headed monster DaimlerChrysler; Ford has swallowed the obstensibly British Land Rover, Aston Martin, and Jaguar marques, not to mention the study scandinavian Volvo and the efficiently Japanese Mazda; GM owns Saab and Opel outright, and has its fingers deep in to Isuzu.

Even 'independent' companies aren't that independent any more; Nissan is controlled by the French automaker Renault. Likewise, Mini Cooper is now a part of Bayerische Motoren Werke, and Porsche and VW have a long history of cross-investment and joint projects (the Porsche Cayenne and the VW Touareg? not quite the same car, but there's a lot of commonality).

The Toyota Matrix and the Pontiac Vibe are both wagons targeted at Generation Y; what neither company is all that willing to tell you is that they're the same car, with the same frame, engine, and drivetrain, put together by the same workers in the same factory (in Ontario, for what it's worth).

So does "Buy American" really mean all that much anymore?

A Few Goodies From The Weekend

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Well, that went over like a lead balloon....

Anyway, two from the weekend:

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