g r o t t o 1 1

Peeve Farm
Breeding peeves for show, not just to keep as pets
Brian Tiemann
Silicon ValleyNew York-based purveyor of a confusing mixture of Apple punditry, political bile, and sports car rentals.

btman at grotto11 dot com

Read These Too:

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James Lileks
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As the Apple Turns
Entropicana
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Capitalist Lion
Red Letter Day
Eric S. Raymond
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Aziz Poonawalla
Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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Thursday, June 3, 2010
12:36 - Mercury falling
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/03/business/03mercury.html?hp

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Well that's about damn time:

Edsel Ford conceived the Mercury brand in the 1930s as a way to fill the gap between basic Fords and luxury Lincolns. Now, that gap will again go unfilled.

Ford Motor announced Wednesday that it would discontinue selling Mercury models this fall, ending a 71-year-old brand that once stood for innovation and speed but that became a “me, too” division.

Mercury was nothing but a badge and some grillework almost ever since the start. The only recent Mercury that wasn't a rebadged Ford was the Villager minivan... and that was a rebadged Nissan Quest.

So on the one hand it's not like they're losing anything by doing this (the "women's branding" thing they tried in the 2000s never really caught on), and it's a long overdue end to an ill-conceived marque—the fewer badge twins on the car market, the better, as far as I'm concerned. But on the other hand it was exactly what it is today even throughout the automotive Golden Age: people loved their Cougars, even though they were just gussied-up Mustangs.

So this may be a solution to nothing but my own tastes (and some factory tooling and dealership complexity). But I'm still glad to see it. Especially since now it looks like Lincoln has a much freer hand and charter to become something special and unique, the worthy competitor to Cadillac that it was supposed to be in the longlongago.

(Which isn't to say either is even in the same league as BMW or Mercedes or even Lexus. But maybe now that things are changing, even that conclusion might no longer be foregone.)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010
21:50 - That's got to be embarrassing

(top)
Everybody's been going ga-ga about how awesome the Wired magazine iPad app is... and now it turns out that it's just a bunch of bitmap images that you drag around. Not only that, but it's made by Adobe.

I'm no iPad hater or Adobe booster, but there's something fairly hilarious about that.


13:43 - Reason #23,115 to be glad not to live in Guatemala
http://www.myfoxphilly.com/dpps/news/international/guatemala-sinkhole-photo-20100531

(top)

Apparently it's where Satan has chosen to launch his attack from.

Either that or those dudes from the Star Trek movie keep trying to find new places to drill, but never seem to move very far.


13:13 - Third boxcar, midnight train

(top)
For one reason and another I've lately been getting familiar with the Amtrak Northeast Corridor and the mode of travel it provides.

It's really not bad. Sure, it takes a little longer than flying, but for a trip of a few hundred miles or less you make up all the time you lose en route by not having to go to some inconveniently distant airport, stand in line for security, and then wait around wishing you were somewhere else. You get decent on-board food, nice cushy seats, ample storage for your bags, and even power outlets.

Why doesn't the whole country operate like this? Where's our equivalent of Europe's long-distance intercity rail network? Sure, we've all seen Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and know that the idyllic system of rail in the United States met its end at the hands of conniving automobile and tire manufacturers abetted by unscrupulous government agencies with their hands in the cookie jar. But seriously, those who point out that the only place in the country that intercity rail even makes sense at all is here on the East Coast have a point. Tiny states, each with its own large city (or more than one), all no more than fifty miles apart. Works great. But going anywhere inland, you'll be taking far longer than if you just flew. (Especially because throughout large parts of the country, the railroads are privately owned and dedicated primarily to industrial concerns, so if you take Amtrak across Nebraska you'll spend eight hours of your 13-hour trip sidetracked waiting for coal and cattle cars to go by.)

And for any travel shorter than a couple hundred miles, cars just make a hell of a lot more sense. This being a country where automobiles and their infrastructure is largely untaxed (by comparison to the European equivalent), it's just so much less of a pain in the ass to get in the car and drive for half an hour rather than walking or biking to a train station somewhere across town, waiting for a train to come at a set schedule, wedging yourself into a seat shared by some stranger whose girth and odor is a crap shoot each time (or sitting comfortably in an empty row only to remind yourself unhappily that at each stop the car will fill up more and you'll be packed in like sardines by the end), and then dealing with taxis or buses or rental cars at the far end. Cheap gas and big engines and three empty seats, and you get to decide how fast you go? Is American dreamski!

Still, when it comes to that middle ground, where you need to cover 300 miles and you don't care if it takes four hours, especially if you can snooze on the way or have a hot dog or watch a movie—and your iPhone still works so you can happily moving-map and Wikipedia your way through the history of the Pennsylvania Railroad—it's a fine idea, no matter how little it's changed since its invention.


09:32 - It's like a little bit of home
http://www.t2conline.com/news-room/headliners/547-that-wasnt-fog-that-was-smoke-queb

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I'll be damned:

As a haze settles over NYC, in Provincetown Ma and all up and down the coast New England, residents and tourist alike, awoke to what seemed to be a fog rolling in. At lunch it was the topic of conversation. The smoke had reduced the visibility to about three miles in places, and the smell of smoke was strong across the area. Since May 25th, about 100,000 acres of forest are a flame in Quebec.

As of midday, more than 50 forest fires still burned in northern Quebec, including eight that remained out of control.

This video coverage looks like something out of The Onion, though: refugees bundled into hockey arenas, asking "But where will we get our wahne?"

Far be it from me to minimize the misfortune, of course... but hey, we've been getting this in California for years.

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© Brian Tiemann