Author Archive - Dan


Heated seats are embiggening the poor!

News broke today out of a German conference on male illnesses that heated seats - a popular option in luxury cars for the last decade or so - may be to blame for reduced sperm counts (via) and may do even more damage than tight pants. Ha ha. That's a funny story, you may think. But you're wrong! This has many implications, reaching down to the class warfare level, and could drastically change the socioeconomic landscape. While heated seats, like most ergonomically oriented automotive features, originated in high-end luxury cars, you can now find the option in many less-than-luxury cars, such as the Volkswagen Beetle. But it remains an option almost across the board, and usually as part of some comfort and convenience option package, which increases the cost of entry into heated-seat playerdom. So, really, it's only the people with disposable income who are toasting their tushies and roasting their chestnuts. And to take it further, it's only the smarmy bastard rich jerks who like to soak their balls in radiant comfort, prolonging the potential damage to Mike and Ike. Up until now, I thought the mood to do so was like caviar - something I'd never understand about their extravagant culture, but harmless. At first blush, lower sperm counts among the filthy rich peanut abusers seems good. Less of them in the future equals more wealth to distribute among the lower and middle classes. But as long as we hold to the paradigm that more education correlates to richer jerks and that more education correlates to less baby-producing, then rich jerks already have dealt with and overcome the problem of infant underproduction and retention of wealth. The real problem comes with the uneven distribution of bunburners. If the poor have to make do with 1985 Cavaliers - sans assheat - then they will reproduce out of proportion to normal society and overwhelm the middle classes by sheer force of numbers. They will demand more resources - resources that the rich will refuse to release from their ever-decreasing ranks (due, of course, to chodal climate change) and which the middle class will be forced to relinquish. Eventually, it'll come down to the haves (having of pubic ignition, that is) and the hordes of chilled netherregions. Stopping this is simply a matter of convincing the automotive aftermarket to offer free crotchal calidity to every Wal-Mart shopper, to every Eminem downloader and to every citizen of Morrow County, Ohio. We can do it. You can help.

Kirk and JarJar

This one ought to get all you nerdwads' Spider-Man undies in a bunch. Apparently, CBS Paramount plans to rejig the original Star Trek with new CGI graphics and a new main title sequence - a la George Lucas's re-release of Star Wars Episodes IV, V and VI. The revamped episodes will appear on HDTV this fall. A lot of good chatter on the subject, as usual, over at Slashdot. I tend to agree with whichever of those pasty-skinned monitor monkeys argued that the whole shame of this is that we're losing an artifact of cultural history. It's as if every Model T were modified into a street rod today, rather than keeping a few original or restored. Sure, we might view them as obsolete today, but to rewrite or cover up history in such a way does a disservice to us all. But I'm also (unsurprisingly) disappointed that fresh, intelligent, imaginative, original programming so seriously lacks from mainstream media that, rather than attempt something new, they simply rehash their successes of old. It's why we have "reality" TV, celebrity gossip columns and sequels sequels sequels. Perhaps it's just time to turn off the TV.

Economic patriotism

I've never been one to wave the flag. Yes, maybe I take living in the United States for granted sometimes, but if you play the cards you're dealt, you don't whine when you get a couple aces. But reading Daniel Howes's article in the Detroit News today about Washington's attitude toward Detroit's number one industry has me thinking about some recent comments by Bob Lutz, GM's main product man and a longtime employee of the global auto industry. Lutz - born in Switzerland, I might add - gave a rousing speech defending the concept of "economic patriotism" and noting that we as Americans simply suck at it. Who more exemplifies how economically unpatriotic we are as Americans than big man George Bush himself, who, as Howes mentioned,
won't meet with the bosses of General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and the Chrysler Group. But he'll sit astride a Harley, visit a Nissan truck plant, herald the Toyota engine that won the Indy 500, campaign for Republicans and then have his press secretary swear there's no snub of Detroit.
Sure, he drives a big 'ol pickup at his ranch in Texas and Cadillac builds his limos, but those press opps mean nothing when he won't say carburetor to Rick Wagoner, Tom LaSorda and Bill Ford. Should GM, Ford and the Chrysler part of DaimlerChrysler receive some sort of relief package along the lines of the bailout Chrysler got in 1979? Considering the current government's track record with the airline bailouts, probably not a good idea. But that does raise a good question: Why were we quick to hand checks and concessions over to the airlines ("You wanna legally probe passengers? Well, okay!"), but any specter of doing the same for the automotive industry immediately meets boos and hisses? And yes, the domestics got in over their heads with pensions and with concessions to the unions. They've got to figure a way out of that hole. When GM appoints one of its top honchos specifically to deal with the issue, you know 1) it big problem, and 2) they takin it seriously. And yes, it has become difficult to discern domestic from foreign lately, with Nissan building cars in Tennessee, BMW building in South Carolina and GM and Chrysler building in Canada. I grew up in Central Ohio, where Honda's Marysville plant drew workers from an hour and a half away and suppliers employed thousands. The real factors underneath this problem, though, lie in Americans' perception of its own automotive industry. We now give it the short-shrift, look on it with the same despicable frowns as we gave the imports 25 years ago, and blame poor sales on poor quality, irrelevant products and that hangnail you got on the test drive. But keep in mind that Toyota's currently going through a million-car recall, the Ford F-series pickups have outsold even the VW Beetle over each respective lifespan and initial quality studies mean crap outside of the dealer's lot. Am I here to tell you which cars to buy? No. Am I here to tell you something more than your immediate satisfaction hangs on the line? Yes. Now you tell me why you bought your car.