August 25, 2013

The Tesla Model S Now Has 12 Percent Of The California Luxury Market

Joe Weisenthal, writing for Business Insider:

Per California’s latest monthly auto sales report (via Slate’s Will Oremus), the Tesla Model S now commands 12% of the luxury market in the state.

Click through for a chart of luxury brand models and their California sales proportion.

I've had my eye on the muscular, yet shapely Audi A5, a close cousin to the entry-level A4, neither of which make the list here.

But look at that list. The beauties are all here: BMW 5-series, Merc-Benz E-class, Audi A6, Lexus GS and the spectacular Tesla S.

Shit. Can't afford a single one of them.

August 23, 2013

Affleck as the Batman

So Ben Affleck will be the next Batman, appearing in the June, 2015 sequel to this year’s Man of Steel. A few thoughts.

If I had my druthers, this next Batman-featuring film would not appear until the Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale Batman trilogy was either no longer available or we’re all dead and buried. Each of those films held its own, and yet the three together formed a beginning, middle and end to the Batman legend, sweeping a long, well-acted and tightly directed narrative. Compare and contrast to all previous Batman films and Nolan’s three immediately rise to be the definitive film story of the Batman.

Yet alas, here we are two years from the MoS sequel that will re-introduce the Dark Knight. We must accept this. All is not lost, though.

Affleck’s recent work bore a subtle quality that might make him interesting as the Batman. His characterization of Tony Mendez, CIA case officer and orchestrator of the successful rescue of US diplomatic personnel from revolutionary Iran in Argo was criticized by some as dry, but in fact depicts the methodical and sometimes unorthodox activity of Americans covertly working throughout the world. James Bond, it ain’t. (See, too, George Clooney’s character Bob Barnes in Syriana.) Quiet, persistent, correct.

The Man of Steel sequel should, in my opinion, feature Batman as he appeared in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns comic, a decidedly different depiction of the crime fighter than most TV- and movie-Batman fans have ever seen.

Miller’s Bruce Wayne/Batman, a grizzled, older man retired from his secret life, is dragged back into the fight after being confronted by young street thugs in a Gotham gone to hell. During the course of Miller’s four-book series he encounters Superman in a confrontation all its own, one perhaps shocking to generations of TV and movie superhero fans. Super men can and do super-disagree. The results are often catastrophic.

A new movie-Batman should take the character in a new direction. Miller’s character fits the bill; we should hope his books influence the screenplay. Miller is reportedly consulting on this new film, so that may come to pass.

August 20, 2013

Google Brings Waze Alerts To Google Maps For Android & iOS

Holy crap. The useful Waze app has reached ubiquity.

I wonder if Google will roll out Waze alerts to Google Maps for the web? Before Apple debuts Apple Maps as a default app in the upcoming OS X version, that is, giving Mac users less reason to use that new app.

CIA Admits It Was Behind Iran's 1953 Coup

Malcolm Byrne reports the news of a sixty-year open secret.

Why is this important? The Iranian people had, for the first time in the 2500 years of Persian history stretching back to the biblical Cyrus the Great, democratically elected Mohammad Mosaddegh prime minister in free and fair elections. One of his first acts was to nationalize Iran's oil fields.

The US CIA and the British MI6 (now SIS) conspired as agents provocateur to reverse the course of history, had Mossadegh deposed and, within a few days, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, already titular leader of modern Iran, restored foreign oil company control of Iran's oil reserves.

Iranians never forgot that, and in 1979 took their revenge by restoring the exiled Ayatollah Khomeini to prominence in their Islamic Revolution. What followed echoes still.

It's about the oil. It's always about the oil.

What Good Is It?

Joe Weisenthal, writing for Business Insider:

“Here’s another extraordinary accomplishment by Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk.

The electric car company announced yesterday evening that its famous ‘Model S’ sedan has achieved the best safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of any car that’s ever been tested in history.”

As my wise spouse points out, though, at an MSRP of $70,000 what good is NHTSA's safest and Consumer Reports' highest-reviewed car if most people can't afford it?

Is there sufficient value here, or are owners simply joining an elite club?

August 19, 2013

Sweet Release

I ran this weekend.

That’s not remarkable but for my giving it up over a year-and-a-half ago, after daytime muscle twitches turned into nighttime spasms. I’d wake from a dead sleep and my nerves were left jazzed enough to keep me up and miserable for hours.

I thought my muscle problems were inflammation related, coming on in earnest at the end of a run-day. So I knocked off running and moved to an elliptical machine, a device marginally less dread-inducing than a stationary bike. It worked well enough for me for a while, but eventually I gave that up, too. Just not the same as a good run. No pull, no want, just work. At least the spasms subsided.

There’s a long story from this point on involving the return of the spasms, x-rays, a chiropractor and then a physical therapist, and finally a neurologist. The end result was a sleep study, a diagnosis of restless leg syndrome, periodic limb movement syndrome and maintenance medication. And they worked. Yard work, a day of room painting, no matter. No spasms. No squirming leg driving me to distraction.

I toyed with a few (very) short runs after the spasms were in check and found to my joy that I could still knock out a couple of miles without trouble. No pain, no sucking wind, no sore muscles the next day. Well, not much.

So this Saturday, with nothing on the schedule for me at our shop, I did what runners do. I awoke thinking, “enough.” I’m either going to do what I want to do for-real or I’m not, today. Right now.

I suited up, stretched, walked up our driveway and ran long and free down the road. 5.7 miles, the longest I’d run in years, on hills and flats, through sun and shade, to the end of a three-mile road alongside our home and back. I broke to a walk only for a steep hill when my calf stabbed pain for a couple of strides, warning me of an impending tear under the load of pushing my body uphill at a run. I walked the incline, enjoyed a bit of water and the view, and was off again.

I remember very little of the run itself. I spent the time without music in my ears, just thinking. Running is meditative for me, not in a single-pointed sort of way but rather in a contemplative manner. Aside from the brief warning issued by my calf I never felt the run. I suffered no ill effects later, or that night, or the next day.

I’ve just returned from a shorter run a couple of days later. It’s as if I never quit the habit that began over a decade ago on a lark, when I was bored with other cardio equipment at our local gym and stepped onto a treadmill. I don’t know why, but running clicked for me. I’ve so missed it these past many months.

I don’t know how long I’ll be able to continue running. A long time, I hope. I see older guys out there, knocking out the miles a little slower than in their youth, and I wonder if I’ll be fortunate enough to join them as I age. For now, though, I can knock out a few miles of my own, slow to a walk at the end and, looking back up the distance covered, think “I did that.”

You are what you do. I’m a runner.

August 15, 2013

Outstanding Reporting

PBS's Frontline documentary “The Retirement Gamble” is a lucid, informative and useful piece of investigative journalism. The 52 minute report provides a clear understanding of how retirement investing can go wrong and what to do about yours. Recommended.

And yes, that 10x - 15x multiplier is correct, if you don't want your funds to run dry.

August 8, 2013

Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Why I Changed my Mind on Weed

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, writing on medical marijuana for CNN:

“We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that.

I hope this article and upcoming documentary will help set the record straight.”

Seems a good time to shed our puritanical attitude toward what has emerged as a useful therapeutic medication, and move pot down the scale from Schedule I to Schedule IV or V.