A Or B, O-Kei

First…when the damn virus became the front-page news every day I was determined not to let it take over my blog. I wanted this space to be a refuge from the unrelentingly bad news.

While I have little doubt that the MSM has over-reported the negative and under-reported the positive, this damn virus has been a scourge of scourges. That’s why the news that the UK has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine for use is worth mentioning. The U.K. government is the first in the world to formally approve the U.S.-German vaccine for widespread use; that approval means Britain will be one of the first countries to begin vaccinating its population.

The FDA will not be formally considering Pfizer’s and Moderna’s applications for emergency use authorization until next week. The US does not do everything better than every other country in the world. It is true, though, that 60% of all new pharmaceuticals come from the US. That wouldn’t happen under a government scheme of price controls and other constraints.

Let’s hope the recent Goldman Sachs report on a vaccination timeline is at least close to right. This report, based on a combination of supply assessments (using data from leading vaccine developers) and demand using consumer survey data, estimates that half the population of the US and Canada will be vaccinated by the end of April. This report did predict that the UK would reach the 50% threshold before the US and Canada (by the end of March).

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Yes, I love Corvettes and first-generation Buick Rivieras and the DeTomaso Longchamp and Aston Martins, etc. Like many automobile enthusiasts, I am a big fan of high-performance cars with great styling.

However, I have a thing for small cars. While I do not like the SmartCar, I think the Scion iQ was a handsome little car (picture from Auto Evolution).

 

See the source image

 

Today’s A Or B post was inspired by an episode of Everyday Driver. In this episode Todd Deeken and Paul Schmucker drive an Autozam AZ-1 (manufactured by Mazda) and a Suzuki Cappuccino–Kei cars–in the streets of Seattle.

It was actually kind of funny to watch the 6-foot-3 Deeken try to wedge himself into these Kei cars. In case you don’t know, or even if you do, the Kei car category was created by the Japanese government in 1949, and the regulations have been revised several times since. These regulations specify a maximum vehicle size, engine capacity, and power output, so that owners may enjoy both tax and insurance benefits. I believe the current regulations are that to qualify as a Kei car, and so the owner can receive the tax/insurance benefits, the car cannot be more than 11 feet long, more than 5 feet wide and the engine cannot have a displacement of more than 660 cc, which is 40 cubic inches.

These cars have been enormously popular in Japan, at times reaching a 40% market share. Not surprisingly, when the Japanese government raised the Kei-car tax by 50% in 2014, sales of the cars declined. The people who think taxes don’t matter so government can make them as high as they want should have operations to have their heads removed from their rectums. <end soapbox>

As one of the hosts said (I think it was Paul Schmucker), not all cars are world cars that can be sold in every market. As the facts that more than 70% of American adults are overweight and one-third are obese are a major driver in the move away from cars and towards SUVs and pickup trucks, only a very small percentage of Americans could drive these cars comfortably.

The top photo of an Autozam AZ-1 (without its gull-wing doors open) is from Import a Vehicle. The bottom photo of a Suzuki Cappuccino is from Wikipedia.

 

See the source image

See the source image

 

I believe both cars use the same Suzuki engine: a turbocharged, 3-cylinder engine of 657 cc displacement (40 cubic inches) that produces 63 HP/63 LB-FT of torque.

OK, maybe this is an extremely idiosyncratic manifestation of my “enthusiasm” for cars, but I like what I like. What can I say? Besides, where else can you read about Maseratis one day and Kei cars the next?

Kind people, please choose between the Autozam AZ-1 and the Suzuki Cappuccino. Thanks.

 

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Monday Musings

I had an odd and uncomfortable dream last night/this morning. (I guess I could write, “Consider the source,” but I would never do that.) I was extremely anxious and upset that I had a paper due in three weeks and, I think, I had not begun working on it. This anxiety consumed my life until I realized that I am no longer in school and, therefore, had no paper due. I then woke up.

I have read/heard that dreams are not really connected to our conscious brain, but this is not the first time I’ve had a dream short-circuited by reality. I once dreamt that I was in a sixth-grade classroom and was extremely upset by that fact. After sitting in the classroom for some time I said to myself in the dream, “I have a graduate degree; I don’t have to be here.” That was the end of the dream.

Of course, one dream I had many years ago was short-circuited by something that was not true at the time, but which gave me great comfort, anyway. I dreamt I was struggling to pay my bills. I was worried that I would have to sell my house and my car. All of a sudden I had a revelation, “Why are you worrying about money? You have four million dollars in the bank.” I didn’t then and I don’t really now, but that “revelation” was extremely comforting and ended the dream. As for the exact number “four million” I must have just watched the movie Twins because that amount of money has significance near the end of the film.

What can I say? It can be hell to live with my brain.

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At the risk of alienating some of my readers, I will state my opinion that an amendment that begins with “A well-regulated militia” should not mean that guns can be owned by anyone and everyone. If one looks at the 20 countries with the highest rates of firearm-related deaths, the list shows 19 countries that are not wealthy and the US. (According to IMF data, the 19 countries on that list excluding the US have an average rank of 90th in the world in per capita GDP; the US ranks 8th.) One would also see disproportionate representation by Central American and South American countries. Sixteen of the 20 countries are in the Western Hemisphere. What that means, if anything, is beyond my scope of knowledge.

If you are not a regular reader you should know that I do not consider myself to be a blind adherent of any ideology. I believe in capitalism and not socialism, I think the phrase “affirmative action” is a euphemism for discrimination and I think that the estate tax and other forms of confiscatory and punitive taxation are theft by the government. However, I believe in common sense and empiricism above all else and no one in the US should be proud of the fact that its rate of gun homicide is 8 or 10 times higher than Canada’s and 55 or 60 times higher than that of the UK. Guns make it way too easy for people to kill people.

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Many of us who are or have been NFL fans are mourning the loss of long-time writer Don Banks. From Peter King’s FMIA column today:

 

“Don Banks, one of the leading NFL reporters in the country, died suddenly on Sunday in Canton, Ohio. He was in Canton to cover the Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremonies over the weekend, and his first story in his new job, as NFL columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, was published in Sunday’s editions.”

“Banks, 56, had a 36-year career in sportswriting, beginning when he covered prep sports as an intern in the Tampa Bay area for the St. Petersburg Times. He moved on to cover the Buccaneers for the Timesbefore moving to Minnesota to cover pro football for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and later the St. Paul Pioneer Press. It was there that Banks caught the eye of editors at Sports Illustrated. In 2000, he was hired as NFL columnist for the Sports Illustrated website, SI.com.”

“Banks was an NFL lifer. At SI, his Snap Judgments column on Sunday evenings became appointment reading for NFL fans. After an illustrious career at SI ended in 2016Banks moved on to write about the league for NFL.com, Bleacher Report, Patriots.com and The Athletic. That led to the editors at the Review-Journal, needing a respected national presence to cover the NFL with the Raiders moving to Nevada in 2020, conducting a one-candidate job search. They hired Banks as their NFL correspondent. He started last Thursday, and his first story appeared on the paper’s website just hours before he died.”

“He was known for his absolute impartiality, covering the league at a time when he both lampooned and praised Roger Goodell, the commissioner who has been under fire for much of the last decade.”

 

I used to enjoy Banks’ columns when I followed the NFL more than I do now and was disappointed when he was let go by Sports Illustrated. I think it is a most cruel irony that Banks died just as his first column in his new job was published. My condolences to the Banks family.

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Time for something lighter:

 

See the source image

From en.wheelsage.org a picture of a Daihatsu Copen Cero, one of Japan’s Kei Cars. This is the Japanese classification for the smallest highway-legal cars. (“Lighter”—see what I did there.)

The Copen is currently in its second generation (as of 2014) and has been produced since 2002 with the exclusion of a short pause from 2012 to 2014 caused primarily by the increasing strength of the Japanese yen versus the Euro currency. The current Japanese version of the Copen is powered by a turbocharged three-cylinder engine of 658cc/40 cubic-inch displacement that produces 63 HP/68 LB-FT of torque. If I understand correctly, the Copen used to be available with either a manual or automatic transmission, but is now only available with a CVT automatic. The car only weighs about 2,000 pounds and probably wouldn’t be too safe in the US among all the SUVs and pickup trucks. I think they are quite fetching and could have a use, I suppose, in uncongested areas, if such places still exist in the US.

 

#Bad/GoodDreams

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