Author Archive - darius

About darius:

Why the American Auto Industry is failing

Saturday, July 7th, 2007

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So for my job, I had to drive back from SFO yesterday in a Chrysler Aspen, which you can see on the right. It’s an awful car, representative of the poor ideas of Detroit these days. It bounces like a mechanical bull, turns like an elephant around a dime, accelerates suddenly and flightily like a little girl from a bee; it is a poor car. It has some superficial luxury but is totally unworthy of whatever was paid for it.
Point being is that the problems the American auto industry are having is partially a part of the labor problems and costs therein (the conventional reason for Detroit’s failures), but mostly because the cars made there are crappy engineering-wise. Clearly what probably happened is that Chrysler thought, “Well, it’s an SUV and luxurious, so whatever.” Whatever pretty much happened. That’s the attitude that led to Ford leasing its hybrid technology.

What a DUMB Plan

Friday, June 29th, 2007

I got news of a highly dumb plan from Stanford Football via my e-mail. Apparently, they’re limiting student section seating to 3,000 for Big Game and making eligibility for one of those tickets contingent on attendance.
Now, if I might be permitted to vent a bit: what a retarded, retarded plan. Who thought of this? “Hmm…well, we had attendance problems for our highly bad team last year in our new stadium. With all evidence pointing towards an equally dismal season, the clear move is to make it harder for people to go to our most popular game.” Why antagonize people like this? And why would you screw over the rest of your non-student season ticket holders by separating the Notre Dame and Cal games from the rest of the package? Shouldn’t you be conciliatory and trying to make the experience better? It’s not as if you’re USC or Notre Dame or Florida here, where people will line up for tix. How many people, instead of going to Big Game, just say, “Whatever. Not worth the effort.” Genius plan from the suits in marketing…
ADDENDUM: Some might claim that the purpose of this plan is to keep Cal fans out (as there isn’t enough room in Stanford Stadium for all the Cal fans who want to come). If so, that’s not a smart move, seeing as it excludes actual students. Just make getting a student ticket contingent on a student ID if so.
Email posted below.

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A Contrarian Take on Dana Gioia’s Commencement Speech

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

After reading the transcript of Dana Gioia’s commencement speech, I can’t help but think that he is being overly facile with his point. Not that I’m against more air space for intellectuals in our culture—I worship at the altar of Hofstadter’s Anti-Intellectualism in American Life—but I think he paints an overly grim and facile picture of our intellectual culture today.
It’s an afterthought in the beginning, his citing the Tarantino films Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown, but a revealing one. Suffice it to say that when you leave out the best film and the best TV of our generation, you get a pretty bad conception of American culture. There’s plenty of great movies coming out and being watched today, and at any rate, the average is certainly a lot better than it certainly was in terms of narrative structure and complexity.

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On User Reviews:

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

Here:
“To listen to the raves, Fred’s Coffee Shop serves a mean weekend breakfast. The omelets at this little joint just a skip across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco are said to be “fluffy beyond belief,” the bacon “thicker” and “tastier” than at anyplace else, and the French toast — oh, the French toast, cooked up soft and then deep-fried and slathered in sugar — will help you find Jesus. Fred’s, according to reviews posted on the popular local-ratings site Yelp, makes the best breakfast in Sausalito. Thirty-eight reviewers give it an average score of 4.5 stars — a number that really stuck in my craw as I gulped down limp slabs of two-star French toast, sipped at one-star coffee, and took in the ordinary two-star ambience.”
This post, by Salon.com’s Farhad Manjoo, is a really interesting rumination on user reviews on Amazon.com, etc. I’ve long since taken user reviews with a grain of salt after the John Lott incident
That being said, I think user reviews and blogs really encompass the true value of the internet. Obviously Google’s aggregation of information is tremendously useful, but what user reviews and blogs do is synthesize and analyze said information. Our problem, these days, is not how much information we have, but what we do with it.

I find…

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

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…these Vanity Fair covers by Annie Leibovitz to be extremely cool.

Must-Read Magazine Articles

Saturday, June 2nd, 2007

First, New York’s profile of the graduating West Point class. You know, a few weeks ago, I remember an ROTC guy and someone else discussing the Army. I forget the specific topic about that, but the other guy kept on referencing his video game knowledge. Which was kind of a funny, tragic and absurd moment all at once: the main way the vast majority of Stanford students know of the military is via a) video games and b) movies and TV. This has two effects: one, we have no idea about the military’s problems and struggles; and two, we tend to idealize the military. These two things are probably related and highly unfortunate. Well, I won’t claim that this article will solve all our problems, it’s certainly very good.

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LeBron v. Detroit

Saturday, June 2nd, 2007

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I’m listening to “Remember the Name” right now. You know the song if you’ve seen a number of sports events—it’s become that “pump up” song (“This is 10% luck, 20% skill, 15% concentrated power of will, 5% pleasure, 50% pain and 100% reason to Remember the Name). This was a highly serendipitous song to come up on my shuffle, because the sports topic, as far as I’m concerned, is LeBron James v. The Detroit Pistons, Game Six.
Suffice it to say that LeBron and LeBron only, through fortune (Dwyane Wade’s injury, awful coaching opponents, the fortunate second seed, etc.) and skill (He is LeBron, after all) is on the cusp of bursting into the Finals for the privilege of being dismantled by the Spurs.

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The NBA: for serious, now

Friday, April 6th, 2007

March Madness is over. Say that to a basketball fan, for the reaction. If said basketball fan expresses nothing but regret, well, let’s just say he and I aren’t on the same wavelength. If, on the other hand, that basketball fan says, “Yeah, and I can’t wait for the NBA playoffs,” then we’re in agreement. For basketball fans like me and this hypothetical fan, the NBA playoffs are pure—we don’t have the hype machine like with college basketball, and we don’t have to deal with the silliness of some basketball people insulting another.
Every season during March Madness, writers and broadcasters feel the need to reaffirm their brand of the sport over the professional version. The professional version, we hear, is populated by thugs and lazy bums. They’re all flashy showmen who only care about the dunk and can’t shoot the midrange jumper. They’re all disloyal assholes who are seeking to kill their coach. They’re unruly motherfuckers.
That’s why you always see columnists urging kids to stay in school! It’s the only place you can learn how to play the game, and perhaps something about life as well! The money can wait! Have fun now! Etc., etc.

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Movie Review: 300

Thursday, April 5th, 2007

The trailer for 300 is by far the best way to experience said film; one gets a montage images.jpgof unconnected cool images. Problem is, once the filmmakers connect those images into a story, a much, much worse film emerges. In general, I rarely am vituperative towards films; I’m usually indifferent towards films I don’t like. 300 was different—I actively disliked it. The main debate for me is this: propaganda or not?
I’m going to answer affirmatively; 300 in plot and dialogue is trying to push something. It feels kind of weird to take the same position as the Islamic Republic of Iran, but there was a definite agenda being pushed. That agenda was not really pro-Iraq War, as some have speculated. Rather, it was one of the conservative worldview in general, specifically the neoconservative worldview.
Here’s why, with several spoilers:

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We’re out. Stanford loses, 78-58.

Friday, March 16th, 2007

This post could be three hundred or three thousand words, and for the sake of my grades, I choose three hundred. Suffice it to say, it’s a shame to see the players and the coaching staff give such a desultory effort. It’s a shame to see failures to inbound the ball and to regress to our earlier free-throw form. It’s a shame that we appeared completely unprepared–we’ve seen the press before (whatever Goods had to say about it in postgame conference), and, hint, Fred Washington is good at breaking it. And it’s a shame that we have to listen to shit about how we didn’t deserve to be there for the rest of the summer.
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Stanford’s Brook Lopez, right, and Robin Lopez watch the closing minutes against Louisville in a first round basketball game of the South Regional of the NCAA Tournament in Lexington, Ky., Thursday, March 15, 2007. Louisville defeated Stanford 78-58. (AP Photo/Al Behrman; retrieved from ESPN.com)

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We’re in.

Sunday, March 11th, 2007

I was definitely sweating it for a while, but I’m glad we made it. 150px-2007FinalFour.png
Now, obviously we shouldn’t be satisfied with just making it, but considering we were one of the last teams to get in, it’s definitely nice to make it.

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Greek Tragedy

Thursday, March 8th, 2007

The loss tonight to USC in overtime, it wasn’t the Trojans beating us, it was their adversaries, the Greeks who did us in. In Greek tragedy, of course, it is hubris and one fatal flaw coming back to haunt you that ultimately dooms the protagonist. That’s what just happened to Stanford.

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Stanford v. USC Preview

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

Suddenly, by common consensus, we’ve become a bubble team. We’ve got a strong hold on a spot in the tournament, but we’re not a lock; if we lose tomorrow, we have to become the ogres everyone hates and root against the underdogs and also pray for the committee’s kindness. I don’t want either of these fates to befall me, so I hope we clinch a spot against USC.

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Libby is Guilty

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

capt.dcgh10803061825.cia_leak_trial_dcgh108.jpgLibby was found guilty today in his Valerie Plame-related trial for perjury and obstruction of justice. According to the Associated Press, “Libby is the highest ranking White House official to be convicted of a felony since the Iran-Contra scandal of the mid 1980s.”
This is obviously a big break, as we’ll finally, finally see someone get punished significantly for this Valerie Plame scandal, which, by exposing a covert agent, damaged our national security.
Of course, Mr. Law and Order man, Fred Thompson, assures us that “it was not a crime.” (I actually enjoy his Law and Order work, he should stick to that.) This attitude is typical of Republicans. To wit, then, this is the conservative mentality on crime:
An individual lies about having sex with a woman: he should be thrown out of office, possibly immolated, and is a threat to the nation’s dignity.
On the other hand, if an individual attempts to cover up for an investigation about an administration exposing a covert agent as a dirty trick: no biggie, dude.
This will serve rational analysis well when we deal with the next Republican scandal, the Department of Justice Massacre. Essentially, after pressuring their own prosecutors to give Republicans favorable treatment, the Department of Justice fired eight prosecutors and replaced them with their own cronies.
The Democrats will be holding hearings.

Best anti-drunk driving campaign, perhaps ever.

Sunday, March 4th, 2007

Talking urinals. From The Associated Press:

SANTA FE – New Mexico is taking its fight against drunken driving to men’s restrooms around the state. The state has ordered 500 talking urinal cakes that will deliver a recorded anti-DWI message to bar and restaurant patrons who make one last pit stop before getting behind the wheel.
“Hey there, big guy. Having a few drinks?” a female voice says a few seconds after an approaching male sets off a motion sensor in the device. “It’s time to call a cab or ask a sober friend for a ride home.”
Transportation Department spokesman S.U. Mahesh said the urinal cakes are a way to reach one group that’s a target of state safety campaigns. Men commit about three times as many drunken-driving infractions as women.
The devices were invented by Richard Deutsch. “The idea is based on the concept that there is no more captive audience than a guy standing at a urinal,” Deutsch said. “You can’t look right and you can’t look left; you’ve got to look at the ad.”