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April 12, 2009

Bluntly, there is no other way to express where I have been the past six months besides the words: “I screwed up.”

In a nutshell, I suddenly abandoned my healthy readership, and disappeared into my supposed alibi consisting of sad excuses of overloading homework and events. I took a break, fiddled with a possible culturedecoded.com, and ended up less than I started with. And although I understand that most likely some of you — my readers — may not read my work again, I want to apologize for my naive pause from blogging and come back just as I left Culture Deocded. 

An overwhelming amount of events have occurred in the political world as I have left, and I want to discuss them as soon as possible. A President Barack Obama has taken countless actions to bring the free world back to where it once was, some of which I disagree with and some of which I agree with. Iraq has remained a focal point in the middle east, and there is still question in the air over when american troops will really pull out. Somalian pirates have put a fixture in the previously quiet Gulf of Aden, and America is torn over what actions should be taken. The president has purchased a long awaited dog, and Vice President Biden has taken swings at Karl Rove, and the press is taking sides.

As far as the status of the blog, I encourage all of you visiting and returning to leave comments on what you think about the issue at hand. A successful blog is not just written by the author, but by its readers, and if you contribute, there will be very interesting conversations for a long time. 

So without further ado, I will continue where I left off, and work as hard as possible to initiate political discussions that will benefit everyone.

– pacer521

Times have changed. Five years ago the war in Iraq was supposed to be already over, Time.com  claimed that the internet was too crowded (no, really?), and above all, gas prices were nearing an all time high at an outrageous $1.72 per gallon. So you could imagine how the garage wars around your neighborhoods were going, with one guy whipping out his 2003 Acura NSX, which (at the time) was one of the fastest cars in the world, and bragging about his 5.2 0-60 time. 

But sadly, times like that are far away from us now. The cars have gotten better and more expensive, and in a sense so has the oil. Ok, maybe not better, but you get the point. The grass will always be greener on the other side — like always — and now everyone wishes instead of buying that flashy Corvette, maybe they should have hung onto their good old 50 MPG VW Rabbit. 

Enter the hybrids. Victor Wouk’s genius creation turned hybrids and other green cars away from their hippie image, and suddenly they were as popular as bell bottoms in the late sixties. With streets flooded with brand new Prius’s, and a new EcoGeek community rapidly forming, it was suddenly cool to be an environmentalist again. 

Meanwhile, truck and performance companies like GM started their downfall. No one wanted a new Chevy Tahoe anymore, and despite valiant efforts to “green-a-tize” these gas-chugging trucks, GM’s popularity and credibility took a giant blow. Toyota and their squeaky clean factories dangled Detroit’s credibility right in front of them, mass producing their trademark cars at a fraction of the price it took Ford and GM to. So GM rallied back, trying the most sensible thing to do — fighting fire with fire — and creating a green car of their own. But what they came out with? It makes me think to myself: “What the are these idiots thinking?!” 

As you can see in the pictures, what GM failed to do here was make a car that could sell. In short, they sent Chuck Norris to a black-tie formal. What I mean by that is they planted themselves in a market that they had never experimented in, and because of that they couldn’t hold back, planting a sports car with gigantic shiny rims and a futuristic muscle tone to compete with a Prius. And that’s not going to sell. Sorry for offending anyone, but the average tree-hugging Prius driver would not exactly fair well with a high-performance electric sports car with bigger rims than Ice-Cube could ever dream of.

So its not going to sell. Plain and simple. GM went way too far with a good idea and tried for something new, inventive and sportsy for a car that is their future’s last ray of hope. So would I drive it? Well, first of all I can’t drive, but if I had a choice between a Prius and the Volt when I turn 16 in a world of horribly high gas prices, I would take the Chevy in a heartbeat. But I’m afraid that this wouldn’t be the choice of the average middle aged driver looking for a fuel-efficient car. So what do I think? GM just made a big mistake.

 

Of all the chases that have ever taken place, which one has been the best, the most exciting, the most gripping? Was it the ski chase in Her Majesty’s Secret Service? Was an old chase? Perhaps the numerous ones in “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad World?”  Was it a new chase? Perhaps something in a Die Hard — before Bruce Willis lost his hair. Was it something in the sky? On the road? In the snow? On foot? Maybe when my two dogs chasing around my house? But no, this chase is probably something you don’t have in mind, but if your old enough, you probably remember. Not calling anyone old here. Yes, this chase is an instant classic, it got my adrenaline pumping even as I watched it on Youtube.

 

            So in honor of the extremely fast cars here in Uruguay, I present to you…the greatest chase ever, by perhaps the greatest driver ever: starring OJ Simpson’s Ford Bronco vs. the police. This chase reminded me deeply of the Tour De France, where people line up on the side of the road and run next to the bikes. Well, it was sort of the same case here. I don’t know what kind of Jungle Juice OJ put in his Bronco, but let me say, my pet rock wasn’t impressed. (Maybe Olive oil?) Its not OJ’s fault – he was really hitting the gas, but with all his money, maybe he could put more than 10 horsepower in his golf cart. I bet the entire exertive board of Ford Motors was screaming: “FLOOR IT, JUICE!” That day must have been disappointing for them to see OJ’s Bronco and the Ford police cars all doing an exciting 20 miles per hour. But aside from the part when the chase witnesses (all 500 of them) shouted: “Don’t squeeze the juice!” my favorite part of the chase was when (if you look closely) the people on the side of the freeways were starting snail races when the cars came up next to them. Man, that thing was suspenseful, and it will always win my heart for the best chase ever. Heck, they should make a movie about it and throw in Mr. T as OJ. That way he could ad a new dimension to the chase by periodically screaming “you can’t touch this FOOL” to the police.


 

The New Camaro

July 31, 2008

After sifting my way through all the hype about the Chevy’s new bad boy Camaro, I’m not as excited about everyone else. Sure — the thing has performance, with a 6.2 Lt. V8 and a furious 422 brake horse power. But as far as everything else, its just your average fast Chevy — a roadster’s guns with a muscle car’s looks. I’m not saying the car is ugly — but it just doesn’t deserve all the hype, or its huge price tag. Please — just get a Challenger.

In today’s automotive world there’s two types of cars that gain the viewers interest — green cars, (plug ins, hybrids, fuel efficients) and fast, giant engined, roadsters and supercars. Chrysler’s problem is they have neither of those assets on their resume, and its hurting them. Their main selling point they advertise is their Chrysler 300, which in my opinion is a poor try at a Bentley or Rolls Royce without the engine. This car is exactly what no one will want: a poor imitation of a more beautiful car, and not low enough miles per gallon to be fuel efficient. Finally, it isn’t fast enough to even come close to a Bentley, so the supercar aspect is thrown out the window. The only thing that Chrysler really have going for them is their dodge Viper, which is their fastest, and most beautiful car by a longshot. Besides that, their Dodge trucks are failing, their Jeep model isn’t doing much else besides exciting a small group of off-roader’s, and their PT cruiser is far from attractive — it is more or less an ugly, tall and distasteful bug. Don’t tell Chrysler, but their screwed.

To me, the definition of Olympic sports is uniting the world to play something that isn’t political. Sports was created to be the triumph of the individual or the team, and now, today it has escalated to the worst thing in my mind that could happen to an athlete. Thursday the IOC confirmed the suspension that they gave to Iraq in June. Their reason? Political interference. This decision devastated Iraqi sprinter Dana Hussein as well as other Iraqi athletes that trained years for their moment. Trying to comfort Dana, her coach reasoned with her, saying that she can run in 2012. Her response: “I don’t know if I will alive then.”

Until the world can drop their egos for a common purpose, sports will never be the same and it is certainly a shame that is has to be this way.

With today’s economy problems, many sports car enthusiasts have already given up their golden dream of once owning a 200+ Ferrari, rolling down Beverly Hills while blinded by cell phone camera flashes by awestruck, sidelined civilians that own beat-up Honda Civics. And now, they themselves have become part of the crowd, the daring ones maybe getting a hold of a Nissan 350Z or a low-end Mustang. But when they are standing on the sidewalk with their buddies, staring at a beautiful red Corvette cruising by, they would just laugh and imagine the driver’s face after filling up day after day. But little do they know that the driver of that supercar won’t be pulling in for gas anytime soon, for their 430 brake horsepower beast gets 27 to 30 miles per gallon on the highway. No joke. That’s why I’m calling the Corvette Z51 the ultimate car. There is no other car in the world today that has the satisfaction and looks of a supercar, the performance (ziltch to 60 in 4.25 seconds), outstanding efficiency, and above all – a price that won’t make you keel over. The Z51 packs a better punch as cars twice its price ($56,185 as tested). So why haven’t people taken the bait yet? I don’t know. With a car so good looking you’d swear its Italian, performance so good you’d swear it was Italian, and a price tag that is everything but Italian, you’ve got one thing for sure – I’m saving up for my 16th birthday already. 

I live in one of the biggest cities in the world, and dumb, reckless drivers in everything from a Ferrari F 430 to a Ford F150 are a common sight. I’ve seen accidents, been in them, and stayed long enough for the drunk bar battle after them, and it not exactly fun. Everyone should be careful where they drive and how they drive, but now-a-days, the sad truth is that you have to expect that everyone else is an idiot and will crash into you on the road. But recently, after flying to Canada, I experienced the good life — careful driving. Even driving though a big city like Vancouver, everyone is nice enough to let you pass first, and everyone goes to the Yukon to speed on the ice fields if they want to, not on the side streets. So, after doing some research, I found an answer to why this is. No, its not because Canadians are nicer (there are some bad apples..’eh?) they just have the time. Yes, they aren’t rushing. They ACTUALLY leave their house on time and get to where they want to go early. The Yankees down in the lower south seem to enjoy leaving 10 minutes after their appointment starts so they can work up a temper on the way and crash into someone at 120 miles per hour. So, please…take my advice, if you speed a lot, stop watching Need For Speed and move to Germany, and if you get more than 3 accidents a week, move to Canada.

The Stunning M1

July 19, 2008

BMW has officially made a supercar. Their new brilliant M1 concept has been announced, due to come out in 2011. It’s mistakable for a Ferrari but has the signature dual BMW grill in front which makes it very unique. It’s beautiful exterior shines in the day and glistens by night, but it’s no match in my view for its interior. Normally, the interior for supercars like Lamborghini and Ferrari are very limited, but this is one of the few exceptions. It’s only weakness is its performance, which is a sort of fast 451 brake horse power, and an ok 201 top speed. These are amazing for a car, but in the world of supercars, BMW could certainly do better. In fact, the M1 is slower in all ways compared to the ugly Nissan GTR. If only someone made a car with the looks of an M1 with the black hole of an engine that they stick into the Bugatti (I’m not saying the Veyron isn’t beautiful, but not as nice as the new M1). Well, until then, I will still be on the search for the ultimate car, and when it comes, someone please tell me…

Right after reading a four car performance test on Car and Driver including the Nissan GTR, a Corvette Z06, a Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR, and a Porsche 911 GT2, I was continually flattered by the outstanding performance the GTR offered at such a low price. In fact, it costs over $126,000 less than the Porsche, which by the way I am not a fan of. Out of those four cars, it scored the highest final performance score. But, sadly, leave it to Nissan to make a really powerful car as ugly as they possibly can. Its silver makes me cringe while the black grill saved the car from sitting next to VW mini-van in beauty rankings. To blame Nissan even more, it looks like they had one of their designers try draw an Audi blindfolded.

            Even with all this performance for such a low price, I just wouldn’t buy it. Why? If you saw it pass you on the freeway, would you turn your head? No, you wouldn’t. But what if you saw the tricked out Dodge Viper ACR zooming past you on a freeway? Well, that Viper got about 20 less performance points than a GTR while tested at over fifty thousand bucks more. But the worst problem with pricing that I have ever seen is the Porsche. Some people call it the poor man’s Lamborghini, but in this case, it more expensive than a base Gallardo. Well, I guess that’s the buyer’s decision which one to get…

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