It’s a Bumper Friday Postbag down at the Lake with the Darkside Blogger

5 Months, 10 Days, still sober


What Mobi did

What I did was spend a lot of money. I took my Beamer down to Bridgestone to buy one new tyre and ended up buying two tyres and four new rims, (for the Ricks of this world read: ‘wheels’), at a grand cost of 46,500 Baht!! These run flat tyres cost a small fortune but at 10,250 at Bridgestone, they are still cheaper than the 15K that the BMW dealer charges. I thought I only needed one, but when they were checking the others, they found another tyre that had a huge slit in the wall and couldn’t be repaired. Even a third had a puncture but luckily this hole was repairable. I had been driving on 3 flat tyres! No wonder the steering seemed a bit loose!!

One of my rims has been welded many times as it has nasty cracks and the tyre wouldn’t inflate and once again they sent it to the welding shop for repair. Upon return, I discovered that another rim was also in a bad way, and frankly all four were looking a distinctly scratched and battered – mainly from my long gone, drunk driving days. BMW had quoted me around 25K for a single rim replacement which would have to be shipped in from Germany, but the Bridgestone store had some very nice rims at 6,500 each, very similar my old ones but actually a bit nicer. So In the interests of safety, I gritted my teeth and took the plunge.

I am nearly 50 grand lighter, but I do have some nice looking wheels☺

My favourite bar now has three new girls and last night, when they all crowded in behind the small bar, along with the existing female complement, I had never seen so many young, pretty girls all in once place at a Lakeside bar. I wonder how long they will last?

More on my adventures with these little lovelies tomorrow….

Friday Postbag

Last Friday I used my blog to answer some comments that had been posted during the week and it has inspired me to make this a regular Friday affair – provided that I have soemthing to respond to…

So without any more ado, let’s start with poor old big skippy, up in the Mobi ‘firing line’ once again for a comment he made on 7th June, regarding my negative comments on Obama’s recent speech in Toledo, Ohio.

Hi Mobi,

I noticed that you didn’t allow my last comment to appear, which is unfortunate since I thought you were open to comments as long as no ad hominem attacks were included. Hmmm. Anyway, I figured I’d have another go with your lastest.

“He was very upbeat, proudly announcing that the auto industry has added 113,000 jobs in the past two years. Really? A whopping 113,000?”

It’s worse than that. Most people are scratching their heads trying to figure out Obama’s math here. The two companies that received bail-out funds employ 16,500 fewer workers than they did two years ago. If his math is correct, then all these gains came from Ford and foreign automakers in the US.

“they weren’t bothered as they were all running far better and more efficient business with far superior cars, than their American rivals.”

I take it that you haven’t been following the latest news on Toyota then. Over nine million recalls over the past two years alone. As for bailouts by the Japanese government? Come on, Mobi you can do better than that. The Development Bank of Japan just announced a bailout of 20,000 parts suppliers to help their industry “get back on track”. If you do a little search on the history of cross-company shareholdings in Japan and the willingness of Japanese banks to support losing ventures (including automotive companies), you’ll soon see why Japan lost its preeminence it held in banking at the end of the 80’s. As for far superior cars, a bit of hyperbole again? I have no doubt that they are in general still superior, but the facts speak for themselves. JD Power conducts what is perhaps the most respected survey of automobile quality, and here’s the latest. Far superior? Seems that most of the mass manufacturers in the U.S. and Japan get a three star rating. How about those UK auto companies? I realize that they’ve since either folded or been salvaged by the U.S. and the Germans, and of those that still exist in one form or another (Jaguar, Land Rover and MINI), they each receive a nice two star rating.

You move on to support what appears to be your claim that the UK is responsible for the most inventions in the world by reprinting word for word text from an search. The MITI is simply a Japanese ministry – and the assertion that its figures are generally agreed by the engineering and scientific community is really quite laugable (although now I realize these aren’t your words, but were simply copied from the original author).

Yes, there is so much innovation in UK universities right now, and the US is simply the workhorse that puts them onto the market. Please, Mobi, I really expect more of you. If anything, it’s China that is the workhorse and the US that’s the innovator. The Economist, a highly regarded newspaper from the UK which I read religiously, has an excellent article on a related point with respect to the drug industry and how the US market effectively subsidizes the rest of the world in new drugs.

“The culture of British universities encourages great minds to keep researching and inventing. The culture of American investment and business encourages entrepreneurs to take an idea and develop viable products.”

Undoubtedly there is a culture at British universities that encourages great minds to keep researching and inventing, however, that culture is a very distant second to that found in the US. Take a look at the Times Higher Education world university rankings (thus giving you a little home court advantage). Research is a primary component in these rankings, and US universities not only take the top five spots, but fifteen of the top twenty.

As for Obama’s Toledo speech, yes, it was aimed at a domestic audience, and yes, it was understood that the rest of the world watched with avid interest. Just like speeches to the troops as mentioned in an earlier comment, these kinds of speeches are expected from leaders, even though they contain significant hyperbole. Cameron, Blair, Thatcher all do the same thing with their own crowds. Everyone (well, most everyone) seems to understand this little game played by politicians for the benefit of certain interest groups.

Here is my reply:

Skippy, you always bring a big smile to my face and I thank you for providing so much material for me to write about….

I don’t really wish to belabour the subject of cars too much, but frankly, if you really believe that American manufactures produce superior cars to Europe and Japan then I’m afraid that you are living in cloud –cuckoo land as anyone who knows anything at all about cars will tell you.

It seems to be just another piece of brainwashing on behalf of the Yanks where they continually pound into the minds of susceptible – dare I say insular – American citizens that everything American is always the best in the world.  Yet for decades, for those Yanks who have the money, they will always buy European cars over the comparable American makes, and Japan has proven hands down that even in a rabidly patriotic pro-American notoriously difficult domestic market, that they can beat the Yanks hands down in their own backyard – be it TV’s, computers, games, stereos, white electrical goods and of course automobiles. The list goes on and on…

You really are disingenuous in your defence of American cars and your attack on the Japanese rivals.  I fail to see what the recalls have to do with anything – they certainly have little to do with the overall quality, reliability and customer satisfaction with Japanese designed cars over many decades. Frankly, I think this whole business of ‘recalls’ became totally out of hand and was grossly over-cooked due the litigious nature of the American market and their desperation to grab at any opportunity to ‘rubbish’ their foreign competitors.

Most of the so called faults were complete nonsense; a bit of loose carpet and a then a few drunken or demented Yanks who didn’t have the common sense to take simple corrective action like switching off the engine – so they end up in a lake. Did you hear the rest of the world complaining about faults in these very same models? Was there a similar massive recall? Of course not – it was all largely politically motivated and hyped up by protectionist sentiment.

And are you telling me that American made autos t haven’t also been subject to recalls over the past few years? Of course they have, as you know very well.

Even if there were some faults that justified the recalls, does that mean that the Japanese models are inferior to their American equivalent? The argument is spurious at best.

As for the Japanese government bailing out the auto parts suppliers, well I ask you? Surely you can do better than that? Firstly, in my blog I specifically asked: what would the Yanks do if the Japanese government attempted to bail out the Japanese auto makers IN AMERICA – not in Japan.

But that is neither here nor there.

This current bail out in Japan is the result of a little local disturbance that you might have heard of: it was known as a TSUNAMI – ever heard of it?

Not sure if I remember reading about a similar tsunami in the USA which decimated their auto industry, but I did hear about a massive economic recession that was caused by the venal, unregulated, crooked bankers and Wall Street traders; a corruption-inspired recession which became so invidious and all-encompassing, that it carried  the combined economies of the western world down with it.

(If you are in any way confused as the reasons and origins of the recent world economic crisis, then I urge you to watch the American made, Oscar-winning documentary, Inside Job, which will not fail to shock you. I guarantee you will be in left in no doubt as to who and what led to this epic 21st Century catastrophe, and the worrying thing is that many of those responsible are still in positions of power – put there by none other than the Obama regime).

Then, in spite of all your denials, you can never resist having a pop at the Brits.

Pray show me, where in my blog did I make any claim that the Brits make better cars than the Yanks? It so happens that during the course of the past 50 years or so that they have indeed made many, many cars that are superior to American cars, but I never said that and it wasn’t the point I was making. You always bring out your ‘anti- Brit’ smoke screen whenever I have the temerity to make justified, well-reasoned criticisms about your wonderful country.

But seeing as you’ve brought up the comparison, let’s see now, off the top of my head, I can name a number of British cars made through the years that are all far superior to anything made in America. How about: Rolls Royce, Bentley, Aston Martin, Morgan, Jenson, Triumph Spitfire, MG Midget, Jaguar, Lotus and even the humble Mini – a ground-breaking car if ever there was one. As for Europe, well the list is endless even to this motor-ignorant writer, but here’s a few: Ferrari, Bugatti, Maserati, Mercedes, BMW Audi Volvo, Peugeot and so on…. the list is endless.

Care to name some of the cars on your list Skippy?

Back in the early 70’s, I was working in the Arabian Gulf desert and I will always remember my surprise when I found out that the only vehicle that could handle the rough, sand-duned terrain, was the British made Land Rover. Any other Jeep-type vehicle, be it Japanese or American had been found to be completely unsuitable to survive these testing conditions.

This was all the more surprising, as the company that made Land Rovers, British Leyland, was on the Arab boycott list for doing business with Israel, but such was the need for a well-built vehicle that could tackle the challenging terrain, that the Arabs made a special exception in the case of the doughty Land Rover – a true example of British engineering at its finest.

The British car industry has long since folded and I would never dream of making claims that they still make world beating cars, (although most of the Formula One cars are still made there and the Brits are still leading the world in cutting edge auto technology), but they have a fine heritage of making some of the finest cars the world has ever seen.

Now shall we move to the subject inventions? Let me make one thing very clear, IMobi – do not make any claims on this. THE JAPANESE made the claims – and why on earth would they publish a report which shows that the Brits lead the world in major inventions if it wasn’t true?  They have far more vested interests with the USA than they ever have with the Brits – in fact, you could argue that if the Japs are saying it, there must be some truth in it.

I would like to know why it is laughable. Why is it laughable that such an august and respectable body as the MITI, The Ministry of International Trade and Industry fabricate this? MITI was one of the most powerful agencies of the Government of Japan, which effectively ran much of Japanese industrial policy, funding research and directing investment until in 2001, its role was taken over by the newly created Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).

So why would such a body make up these statistics? I fail to see your reasoning here. You can yap away and produce any amount of statistics to show that more research is being carried on in American universities than in England – and you may well be right, (although I’d wager most of research is being carried out by first generation Yanks – recently lured to the ‘new world’ with promises of untold riches), and considering the comparative size of the two countries, it would be surprising if this were not so.

But facts are facts. Britain has always punched way above its weight, and I happen to believe that the Japanese version of things is at least a good indication of where credit for  much of the world’s most important inventions lie.

Let’s not forget that this particular debate started because Obama told his people, along with a lot of other reprehensible rhetoric, that ‘We invented the stuff that the world uses’.

Skippy, I believe you are wrong. I have never heard Thatcher, Blair or Cameron to use such excesses of hyperbole, not even in key note speeches, that you hear every day, in every way from Americans, high and low; be they drunks in bars, news reporters, university lecturers, politicians or even presidents. Most of them seem to have their noses so far up their made-in-America-big-fat-best-in-the- world-arses, that their views on the rest of the world are totally blinkered.

But I love you all, and before you jump in again, thanks for saving our backsides in two world wars….☺

My second comment is from brrrm brrrrm brrrrrrrrmmmmm !! who submitted the following comment on 8th June in response to my commentary on the Bahrain Formula one fiasco.

F1 Bahrain would never have happened. I read somewhere, not sure where, that the whole rescheduling was a way to make money and nobody thought it would ever go ahead. Reinstate now and cancel later. Those Arab types have a habit of throwing cash at their pet projects. Bernie being so in favour of the event until it was approved and then doing an immediate u-turn probably means enough money wasn’t pushed his way. Sure he has billions but that never stopped a rich man wanting more.

What I found sickening was the F1 driver talking about their personal security. No one said they didn’t want to race because of human rights abuses. F1 driver used to get paid stupid salaries because there was a risky to life and limb. That doesn’t really exist anymore. Slam a car into a wall, upside down at 300km/h and walk away unharmed. Bunch of pussies. Check out this video to see how dangerous (and fun) it used to be. No helmets, no barriers and completely exposed.

Having said that, I still enjoy the sport. It isn’t just about strategy. Alonso and Hamilton are fantastic drivers. Watching them trying to compete with a far superior car is thrilling. 90% of a football match is boring and then you get flashes of brilliance. The same can be said of F1.

Although this year is probably the worst F1 I’ve watched. The rules and tires seems designed to stop aggressive, exciting drivers ply their trade. Fight to over take and your tires burn out. Why take a risk at over taking (and crashing out) when there’s an artificial over taking zone.

And, Jenson Button’s bird …. half Japanese, half Argentinian bikini model, could there be a better ethnic mix?

Here is my reply:

You seem to be even more cynical than this writer. I find it difficult to believe that the Formula One supremo’s were so Machiavellian as to have planned in advance the reinstatement and subsequent cancellation that eventually transpired.

Who knows? Maybe you are right. I, for one, never believed for one moment that the race would actually go ahead as I felt totally sure that a ground swell of public opinion would force them to abandon it. Maybe they too knew this – I have to learn to be not so ‘trusting’ of their motives. I just thought they were arrogantly going ahead, as there was too much money at stake to cancel; but maybe as you say, contractually, it made better legal sense to reinstate and then re-cancel. Perhaps the dreaded lawyers were dictating events….

As for the drivers – well I guess all these obscenely remunerated sportsmen are not really of this world, whether they are F1 drivers, premiership footballers, or whatever. The money they earn is so ridiculous that they cease to be like normal people – it’s not their fault; they just can’t help it. They have had no training in their brief lives to prepare themselves for such untold riches, and for many – as we have seen – it affects them in the worst possible way. Suddenly, at a relatively young age, the primal need/desire to make enough money to survive and prosper is suddenly removed from their personal life-equation, as many will earn more in a year than the average worker does in his entire life. The psychological effects and the need to adjust to such a situation must be enormous, as is evidenced by the large percentage of large lottery winners who end up broke, in jail, unhappy, in deep depression or even dead.

So I would never expect too much sense from drivers on such matters as the Arab Spring, and the suppression and subjugation of people in countries where they are scheduled to race their fast cars. Their lives are simply too insulated from reality.

I suppose a good example of this is when Lewis Hamilton lied to race stewards in 2009 after the Australian Grand Prix. He later admitted lying to them but I thought the whole business stank to high heaven and whatever honour there might have been amongst drivers and the sport in general, disintegrated before my eyes.

Up to that point I had been an ardent supporter and fan of Hamilton, but once she showed the world his true colours, I have had nothing but disdain for a highly talented driver who had so much to achieve, but chose instead to cheat rather than win honestly, in the time-honoured British way. I know I am one of the ‘old school’, in sticking to my belief that the Brits should ‘lose with honour’ rather than’ win with shame’, but every time Hamilton fails to obtain a podium finish, I have a little chuckle to myself. Maybe ‘God moves in mysterious ways…..’

As for the old days of Grand Prix racing – I have a wonderful documentary entitled ‘Grand Prix- the Killer years’ which has some great footage of F1 from the 50’s to the late 70’s and some of it will make your stomach curdle.

There was a period when hardly a Grand Prix went past when there wasn’t at least one death on the track. It was quite incredible. Too many of the top drivers from those days are no longer with us. Every time a driver was killed the remaining drivers attended the funeral – an ever reducing group. Someone once worked out the chances of a driver in those days surviving a whole season and believe me, the odds were not good at all. Those were the days…. you could certainly say those hardy souls were all very foolish, but without doubt, they were incredibly brave. A million miles from today’s molly coddled, cheating millionaires.


2 thoughts on “It’s a Bumper Friday Postbag down at the Lake with the Darkside Blogger”

  1. One does remember there in the 70’s when the Japanese motorcycle industry was swamping the US market the Yanks in the interests of fair play and may the best product win, whacked on a massive import tax on motorbikes over 500cc in order to save the skin of probably the most overpriced sawmill engine in the world. (Harley Davidson). Open market eh?.


  2. Quickly leaping to Skippy’s defence, the Yanks did produce a couple of passable cars methinks like the Mustang. However I have to say that the vast majority of famous cars are UK and European. Cars like Aston Martin are just amazing. Jag which at 1 time was in fact owned by the Yank and could never make a profit, are now own by the Indians, with British engineers and designers, makes a 1billion and I don’t mean $. The British designed and made Jags are selling like hot cakes.

    Europe has its fair share of amazing cars as well. Whilst I am some what biased against 3 pointed star cars they do have some pretty mean bits of metal. Look at a small Company (yes its owned by Fiat) Maserati, have a look at there current model line up, just to die for,

    Lastly on the subject of F1, almost every team, apart from the Spanish HRT mob, (always thought that was some thing to do with Hormones), who are always at the back of the grid, have something in the UK. Even the great Ferrari has a studio in the UK. What’s more all the teams are within 50 miles of Silverstone. Funny that the Yanks could nver manage to put together a couple of $ to come up with a F1 team of the own. Amazing.

    Toodle Pip old bean.


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