30 June, 2006

Green driving hints and tips

By now we're all aware of a few things that can be done around the house to save precious resources, so in a spirit of collective action can't we all do a little bit too when it comes to our driving habits? Let's hope so

Legal tread depth? Pah! That's just a story cooked up by the shadowy figures who control the tyre trade or 'Big Rubber' as I call them. Wait till you're down to the canvas.

Stop-start motoring is inefficient. Try and 'time your runs' through roundabouts, junctions, red lights and such to avoid slowing down at all costs. Remember if somebody complains they are, at best a carbon criminal, and probably a terrorist.

You'll have heard about putting a brick in your toilet cistern to save water, why not put a brick in your petrol tank, in fact put two in, it's a big tank.

Remember dad always saying "turn off those lights, do you think I'm made of money?". Well it all adds up. Try not to use any lights at all. If it helps cover the engine warning light with electrical tape.

Volovo drivers may be embarrased by their car's 'permanently on' headlights - they can show solidarity by refusing to use their indicators. Ever.

28 June, 2006

Hum dinger!

In any given office conversation, full of cliche and lazy generalisation, whenever the subject turns to humour and comedy someone will probably pipe up "Yeah, but the Americans don't do irony, they just don't get it".

I beg to differ. The thing is if you're gonna do irony, then you have to do it so straight nobody is really sure whether you're joking or not. Weeks later and they're still not sure if you're serious.

What better example of the ironist's art than the news that Auto watchdog J.D. Power have given GM's Hummer web site an award for being the most useful.

The J.D. Power study measures the usefulness of manufacturer Web sites during the new-vehicle shopping process on four areas - appearance, speed, navigation, and content.

If only somebody had used these criteria to judge Hummer's actual product. It's an off-road vehicle that can't. It couldn't trouble 80mph, and is impossible to manoeuvre. The fit and finish of it's crappy noisy cabin matches the appearance i.e. a five year old was responsible.

Great work on the website guys, I love your sense of humo(u)r!

26 June, 2006

Sports? Utility?

SUV drivers often defend their vehicle choice as a safer option - if you have a crash, you are better protected. But they may be falling foul of "risk compensation" according to The Independent.

This happens when one aspect of a situation makes you feel more secure, so you take more risks in other ways. Researchers in London logged 38,000 passing cars, of which 3000 were 4x4s, the SUV drivers were almost four times more likely to be seen using mobile phones. Studies have shown that drivers using mobile phones have four times the risk of an accident. On that basis, SUV drivers are at 16 times the risk.

The research showed they were also less likely to use seat belts.

Perhaps this has nothing to do with risk compensation at all. An alternative hypothesis is that some people are thoughtless arrogant twats.

And they tend to pick certain vehicles.

23 June, 2006

We shall not see their like again. Until the DVD release

Perhaps we're better off with all the oil running out. The next generation will never get excited by lairy oversteer, rumbling V8s and squealing tyres the way we do.

In decades to com we shall be known as a romantic generation of misty eyed dreamers, willing after a glass or two of fine wine to tell the youngsters such tales of steering into slides and wheelspin.

But how did it come to this? Why are we the last of a line, why will the young'uns never revel in such flagrant petrolhead behaviour?

Saturday tea-time telly that's why. For a golden period that stretches from The Fall Guy to Knight Rider, via those good ol' Duke brothers, Streethawk and the A-Team a generation lay on the floor early Saturday evenings to watch a certain kind of American show.

Tub thumping family fun, yes, unreconstructed rubbish, certainly. But when was the last time you saw a reality/talent show with a car chase involving at least one Bell Jet Ranger?

Glen A. Larson and Stephen J. Cannell we salute ye!

KnightRider the film is now in pre-production.

21 June, 2006

Car collector corner

1971-77 Chevrolet Vega
Original list price, $2,090; total production, 1.9 million.

The Vega was supposed to drive small car exports. "But wait. how come I've never seen one before? I live outside the USA". Just as British Leyland products did for the plucky Brits, the chevy Vega sent a generation of Americans rushing to Toyota and Datsun dealerships.

The ad strapline was "It's a lot more than you bargained for." Many owners concurred.

John and Jim Winkler shared a Vega in 1980 while attending high school in St. Louis. "Our four-year-old Vega rusted so badly that the windshield fell out," John recalled. Jim remembered the car using a quart of oil every 100 miles, but "at least you could perform most of the basic maintenance with a pair of screwdrivers and an incomplete set of wrenches."

Oh my. You've piqued my interest, how much would one of these beauties cost? Well an orange '76 hatchback that sold at auction in Minneapolis last year achieved $6,405, and this may have been the world's best-kept example. It had just 9,953 miles on the clock. So they're a steal compared with contemporary muscle car iron.

One Vega with enthusiast appeal was the 1975 model equipped with a twin-cam Cosworth engine. Just 2,061 Cosworth Vegas were built. Thinking "instant collectible," some buyers immediately tucked theirs away; their $6,000 investment has soared to about $7,000 today.

19 June, 2006

That petrol emotion

An amourous peacock is spending 18 hours a day strutting his stuff at a petrol station trying to turn on one of the pumps.

Mr P as he's known puts on a display of mating prowess at a petrol station in Brierly, south-west England for three months a year, in the vain hope of getting it on with the pumps.

Ornithologists believe he is attracted by the clicking sound of the pumps, which resemble the mating calls of a broody peahen.

His owner Shirley Horsman says "in spring he gets his tail feathers and he gets frisky, then he goes looking for love".

"He gets very amorous and the clicking of the petrol pumps makes the same noise as a peahen crying, 'Come on, I'm ready!". Every time he hears someone filling up, he thinks he's on to a good thing.

"It must be so hard for him listening to these pumps giving him the come-on all day long but with no way of relieving that pent-up frustration."

His two brothers are similarly dimwitted when it comes to love.

One appears to have a crush on a cat while the other has been spotted attempting to mate with a garden light.

The occurence is not as rare as some people might think. Most petrol stations are now suffering infestations of stupid cocks, preening in an attempt to attract birds. Displaying a garish plumage of polyester and Argos bling a typical cock will strut up and down a display of Novas and Saxos making loud mating calls. And texts.

Time for a cull.

13 June, 2006

Bunker buster

Government papers obtained by the Sunshine Project, a group which monitors research into chemical and biological weapons, under US Freedom of Information rules reveal that the US military investigated building a "gay bomb", which would make enemy soldiers "sexually irresistible" to each other.

The 1994 plans for a six-year project costing $7.5m were never pursued.

The plan for a so-called "love bomb" envisaged an aphrodisiac chemical that would provoke widespread homosexual behaviour among troops, causing what the military called a "distasteful but completely non-lethal" blow to morale.

Now that's what I call a dirty bomb. Can you imagine one of those going off in your face? It could result in a huge blow, to morale. Corporal Jones might have been forced to reconsider his assessment that "They don't like it up 'em Mr Mainwaring".

(Please add your own puerile schoolboy comments - it's what Tim Berners Lee invented the web for!)

Another idea was to develop a chemical causing "severe and lasting halitosis", so that enemy forces would be obvious even when they tried to blend in with civilians. Reports of a stray test bomb lost over France are unconfirmed.

12 June, 2006

MMR doctor 'to face GMC charges'

Due to a clerical error disgraced doctor Andrew Wakefield will no longer face charges from the General Medical Council, but his relief could be short lived. As could he be.

The doctor who first suggested a link between the MMR vaccine and autism is to be charged by a Mr Baracus of San Pedro, California in his van.

08 June, 2006

Correct tool for the job

Summertime and the livin' is easy. Well lets hope so.

Who doesn't love to buy a new tool to pop into the toolbox? This summer treat yourself to an automatic centre punch. Drilling steel just got a whole lot easier. The spring operated tool drives a hard point in a single one-handed operation that eliminates striking a punch with a hammer.

You can even get this rather natty pocket sized version.

If you see a dog trapped in a car this summer one of these fellas will pop a car window effortlessly in seconds. Accept no substitute.

05 June, 2006

MotoGP slammed

Self appointed 'longtime F1 fan' Wayne Piddock was left angry and confused yesterday, after a scheduling mix-up led to him watching the MotoGP world motorcycle Grand Prix from Mugello yesterday. Piddock, the self styled 'biggest petrolhead in Insurance' (Midlands region), settled in expecting a Formula One Grand Prix. It became apparent to Wayne after barely a lap that there had been an awful domestic television faux pas.

"I don't know what the bloody hell they think they were playing at" fumed a clearly incensed Piddock. "The first corner was just a free for all. For most of the race they were swapping places like maniacs, I honestly couldn't tell who was going to win until the thingy flag was waved."

"Downright dangerous, and stupid" was the verdict. "It was a far cry from the elegant unfolding game of chess that typifies F1 I can tell you. The beautiful ebb and flow as they circulate for 34 laps and then see who's guessed right with the pitstop timing. The edge of seat drama as we see who comes out of the pits in front for the next 33 lap stint."

Piddock is carefully ensuring no such mistake will mar his enjoyment of the British Grand Prix. "We need to get behind Button as a nation. It's been a while since we've had a British driver with the talent of Hill or the devil may care charisma of Mansell."