Woman jailed in Saudi for driving

Rabab sent me this comic and I thought it was at once very funny and terribly depressing. It really brings home the point about perspectives, and the relativity of right/wrong and therefore the importance of tolerance for multiple perspectives. That having said though, there are many many “traditional” viewpoints which  I find are really due for being called out as belonging to a different age and time, and not given the excuse to hide behind “religion” or “culture” or “tradition.”

For example, a Saudi woman was recently jailed (and is still in jail, despite ongoing protests) because of this video she posted of herself driving. This is so ridiculous that I can’t even express the ridiculousness…

[yframe url=’www.youtube.com/watch?v=opZDtyec4u0&NR=1′]


How lucky can you get on a moped

So thanks to Jalopnik for pointing out this crazy video of how lucky one can sometimes get. (The flipside of this is the guy on the motorcycle should have seen crazy people coming behind and moved away)

The real question, though, as Virginia asked when she saw this: “why did that happen?” I mean the first car sweves left too fast, ok. But why does the other guy crash? Was he staring at the first car crashing?! I wonder if this was in Kuwait…

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGBssAQsOsE&feature=player_embedded#t=26s’%5D

Yom Hashoah: Holocaust Rememberance Day in Israel

It happens every day on military camps, but it’s quite startling to watch traffic stop in the real world to commemorate anything. I suppose when your country is founded practically because of a particular tragedy, things are a bit different. If only people would spend more time contemplating the real reasons behind this terrible event, or how to prevent it from repeating only with different characters involved…

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeozUSWdoQA&feature=related’%5D

World record Hummus!

This isn’t entirely new– Lebanon took over the world record for largest batch of hummus ever made from Israel sometime last year, but mostly I just wanted to point out this excellent article on Foreign Policy magazine about “how we are what we eat” talking about some of the peculiar ways in which our food supply is affected.

huge hummus

I’m not planning on becoming a vegetarian for sure, but it’s yet another article that makes us think we should watch our consumption of meat– not just for the side-effects of quantity, but also for the quality.


finally bought an Alfa Romeo!

Edit : Sadly, I’ve sold this car as I’m leaving Kuwait. Happily, it now belongs to a friend of mine, who’ll be enjoy it’s awesome.
Added Photos.

I had always had a thing for Alfa Romeos. I remember when the then-new Alfa 156 was a wallpaper on my then-new computer in the late 90s. Of course, the classic ones are gorgeous and gorgeous, but I always wished we could get the newer also-beautiful cars in the US. But it has been just too many times that we have been disappointed in the US about Alfa’s return. It almost happened so many times that I really just have lost interest and will only pick up interest again about anything Fiat or Alfa if there are actually cars in the States. And no, the 200,000+ dollar 2C does not count. I mean, it is quite possibly the most beautiful car to come out in a good 20 years, but it’s just not a “return to America” kind of event. It’s more like “well, if you have enough money you probably could have figured out a way to get it to the States anyway!” car. To make certain that I might be interested in case the company did make a return, though, we rented a 159 JTD when we went to France for a vacation. My GOD what a great car! Everything was right about it– the seats, the acceleration, the handling, the torque from the quiet diesel. It was such a great car, we decided we would buy one for sure if they ever brought it to the States. Alas, it doesn’t look like that will happen. This design, anyway, will not be making it over it seems. Pity, that, given how beautiful the car is. overlooking Grenoble, France Luckily for me, though, I found myself in Kuwait a few years later, and here there is a small smattering of Alfas available! So after almost a full year of looking for the right one–because it seems Alfa had only a half-hearted attempt here– I finally found something we fell in love with. Virginia was instantly in love, and I knew I liked it so much I was trying really hard to be rational and calculating etc. So we decided we’d give it a go, and bring her home. So here she is: our very own Alfa Romeo 147 our Alfa It’s a dark dark grey metallic that almost looks black–called Graphite Grey. The car has the Selespeed transmission, developed by Magnetti Marelli, which is a “robotic manual” similar what Ferrari calls F1 that debuted in their F355 cars. It has one clutch, and the transmission is the same as the manual cars, but the clutch is automatic by hydraulics, instead of being operated manually by the driver. It also lets you put it in a fully automatic mode called “city mode,” but I like that it defaults to manual operation. The thing is great to drive– shift times are not quite as quick as VW’s DSG because it still has only one clutch, but that also means it feels more like a “standard” manual to drive. This is also similar in style to BMW’s SMG cars, but I haven’t driven one of those (or a Ferrari F1) so I can’t comment on them! The handling is quick and a lot of fun, and the 2.0 16v TwinSpark engine–with two spark plugs per cylinder– sounds so delicious in just stock mode that I’m thinking about an exhaust system just so I can hear it better! The other day I spent an entire day driving around all over Kuwait for various things that I didn’t want to do, and the whole time I was enjoying myself just because of this car! Jeremy Clarkson was saying one day that “every petrolhead needs to own an Alfa Romeo…”– and I see what he was on about. It’s really just that good.

From Alfa Romeo 147, posted by Ridwan Ahmed on 6/06/2011 (15 items)

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Bin Laden is killed! aka Obama captures Osama

Obama speaks:

Here’s a good replay of President Obama’s speech announcing the demise of Bin Laden.

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0eDCqcTXmPo’%5D

It’s amazing to think this has actually happened. There’s some part of me, though, that wonders if it really did/ what if it didn’t? It’s ok, we’ll just go along with t he celebrations… the real thing is, so what? I somehow don’t see a world-wide reduction in terrorism all of a sudden. And as for the sorrow of the people who’ve lost someone / some part of their lives at the Twin Towers calamity, I don’t see any of their sadness abating either.

At any rate, if we’ve taken out a real mastermind planning the demise of countless others, well then this is a good thing.

Speed Cameras: the good side

I realized there IS a good side to speed cameras: sometimes, they catch you just when it’s a lovely Sunday morning, just after you’re car’s been nicely waxed, and then you get a souvenir photo!

This was courtesy of Bethesda, MD (close to Washington, D.C.):

1998 Volkswagen Jetta TDI

Apparently I was doing 51 in a 35! Or was it a 30mph zone.  Either way, that photo definitely made the ticket more palatable!

Reliability charts: not what you think

I found this graph the other day of J.D. Powers’ Vehicle Dependability Study and was quite astonished at where some brands showed up.  Before one gets excited because their favorite brand is higher or lower on this chart, one has to consider THE most important element here– WHO SAYS THIS?

The answer is, the consumer. So, the question is not what did some panel of experts visiting Lincoln dealerships/ mechanics find, but how many errors did Lincoln customers report in the first 100 days of ownership of their vehicles. So let’s look at it:

it's not what you thinkSo amazing that Lincoln is the best made car, isn’t it? Wait– no, this means that Lincoln OWNERS report the least problems. Given that most Lincoln owners are geriatrics unlikely to notice any problems until their car is on fire, I’m mostly surprised this has not been the situation for years now! Lexus is predictably high up, but Jaguar? There’s a brand that still regularly gets the stick for being “unreliable” because of a reputation it earned back in 1982. Too bad, because modern Jags have been pretty nice for a while now. Mercedes has more recently had a reputation for being less reliable thanks to its crop of late 90s Chrysler-era cars. Many insiders have pointed out their more recent improvements, though, hinting at the brand’s intention to reach the high standards of their earlier vehicles. As an owner of a 1993 car, I can’t say HOW many times I use my Mercedes that I talk about how well put together everything feels. Even compared to my BMW of the same year, and most certainly compared to modern Japanese econoboxes.

All that being said, I like seeing this graph as a rough estimation of where some companies are falling / rising. But in the end it always makes me wonder: who really pays proper attention to what this says? As in– it is SO riddled with the unpredictability inherent in the demographics of who buys certain cars.  For example, I KNOW most buyers of Toyota Corollas consider a vehicle that is moving forwards and backwards to be in perfect running order: they will not report a rattle, or a slight variation in rpms, or a door that doesn’t quite “thunk” properly. On the other hand, the owners of a Porsche or a Volkswagen, or an Audi are far more likely to discern very small flaws in their vehicular operation which then they are more likely to complain at the dealership etc. about. So that makes it more impressive when Porsche is up top, but not that distressing when Mini is not. Similarly one might think Hyundai is making better vehicles nowadays (and they are, compared to 10 yrs. ago for sure), but people who are going to buy Hyundai’s probably wont think it’s much of a big deal if the wind noise inside is high, or if the radio emits a squeak! So there it is, another statistic, just for the fun of it: 80% of drivers actually never learned anything after the first year of their driving career!


Swimming Pool

Given how hard it is to play with light, I am extremely impressed at how good this looks:

These were from Leandro Erlich’s installation called “Swimming Pool” at MOMA in New York.  Too bad it closed in April of 2010, but maybe it will pop up somewhere else. I’d love to see this!