Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A few favorites from the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit

I swung by the 2016 Detroit Auto Show to see what was new. Mostly I looked at a lot of trucks and pretended that I could afford a new one. I also took a few photos of things that caught my eye along the way, mostly cool looking sports cars and concept cars. Here are a few of my favorites:

Alfa Romeo 4C Spider.

Dodge Viper.  I'm pretty sure the leggy spokesmodel's high heels have more ground clearance than the car itself.

Plum crazy Dodge Challenger. I love me some plum crazy Mopar muscle.

The new 2016 Mazda MX-5, aka the Miata. Alas, it's still not as roomy as my MGB.

Lexus LC500.

Yummy. Z06 Corvette.

Acura Precision concept car.

Buick Avista concept car.

VLF Force One, a coachbuilt carbon-fiber supercar based on the Dodge Viper. VLF Automotive was formed recently by Gilbert Villarreal, Bob Lutz, and Henrik Fisker.   The Force One has a modified Viper 8.4-liter V10 engine that produces 745hp and 638 lb-ft. It does 0 to 60mph in 3.0 seconds and has a top speed of 218mph. New car companies are always a crapshoot to survive, but VLF sure has built a cool-looking car.

Here's an article if you want to learn a bit more: VLF Force 1 Is America’s Newest Sports Car And It’s Based On The Viper.

Ferrari 488 GTB.

BMW 650i convertible.

Audi S5 Cabriolet.

Audi TTS.

This 1966 Cadillac Coupe Deville I found down among the customizers in the basement looked every bit as great as any concept car on the main floor.

Elio Motors 3-wheeler. Five-star crash rating, seats two in tandem and gets up to 84 mpg. Deliveries scheduled to start in late 2016. Prices start at $6,800. New car companies are always a crapshoot to survive, but Elio sure has built an interesting-looking car.

Here's an article if you want to learn a bit more: Rubin: 100 mph and 84 mpg — if it ever gets built.

1967 Ford GT4 0MkIV. Winner of the 1967 24 Hours of LeMans.

2017 Ford GT Race Car. Headed to LeMans this year. How will it fare? We shall see!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Media hype, perception, and reality around violent crime and terrorism

I wrote this up in response to an inquiry as to my thoughts about the ever-growing amounts of violence and terrorism that make 2015 so much more dangerous than it was for people who grew up in the 1950s or 1960s. I thought it was worth capturing and sharing here.

Hype and perception doesn't match reality in a lot of areas, especially gun crime, violence, and terrorism. Broadcast and cable news have a lot to gain in ratings from making people afraid. And so they do. Here's some of what that means:

1. In terms of murder both America and New York State are now as safe or safer than the 1950s or 1960s. There is no massive growing crime wave. Murder rates peaked in the early 1970s and declined greatly starting in the early 1990s.

Check out the attached graph that I generated from FBI crime statistics.

2. People don't believe that violent crime has decreased greatly because media coverage of murder and violence has increased enormously since the early 1960s. This is especially true for cable "news" since it has so much time to fill. Generating fear generates television ratings.

3. If your "news" sources are telling you that you should be afraid because everything is now more dangerous than it was, they are lying to you. Find other news sources.

4. The Muslims you have met in the past or currently know in your day-to-day life are much more representative of a "Muslim mentality" -- if there is such a thing -- than anything related to the current scapegoating of all Muslims for Middle Eastern based terrorism. There is no more a "Muslim mentality" that predisposes Muslims to terrorism and violence than there was an "Irish mentality" that predisposed the Irish or Irish Americans to terrorism and violence. Don't forget, just a few short decades ago the Irish were the terrorism champs.

5. Along those lines, the notion that "they hate us for our freedom" is a load of dung. They (specifically Middle Eastern terrorists) hate us because we've been bombing the crap out of them for more than 20 years while supporting governments that do not always have the best interests of their people in mind. That's a guaranteed recipe for terrorism. It was true in Cambodia and Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s. It's true today.

6. There is an "idiots with guns" problem in this country. There probably was 50 years ago, too, but it got a lot less publicity back then. Just because you didn't see it visibly back then doesn't mean it didn't exist. By the same token, the amount of news coverage it gets now doesn't mean that it's a new phenomenon. You might recall about fifteen or so years ago when there was a sudden wave of shark attacks along the coast? In fact, shark attacks were down statistically that year. But cable news ratings were sagging, so the fear machine got cranked up.

7. Statistically speaking, in the US you are more likely to be killed by a toddler with a gun than a terrorist act.