Down at the Mid-Ohio

28 06 2012

Last weekend, I headed down to Lexington, Ohio for the Vintage Grand Prix at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. I beat the heat and had a great time.

Cars on the paddock between races

Anyway, I got three posts out of it, all of which include some pretty nifty pictures. Check them out and enjoy!

Vintage Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio, Day 1: Ready to race

Vintage Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio, Day 2: British invasion

Vintage Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio, Day 3: Weekend wrap-up

This event really deserves a lot more publicity and promotion. I’ll be sure to share the details of the 2013 event when they become available.



The national bloodbath that never happened

20 06 2012

Take desperate individuals trapped by a lack economic opportunity, add in record firearm sales, and — just for the heck of it — set it all against the much-hyped “climate of hate” turning Americans against each other as never before. It’s practically a recipe for a national bloodbath.

And if you search hard enough, you can certainly find parts of the country where that apocalyptic scenario seems to be playing out. Look at Detroit. Fairly or not, the Motor City is used as a national — even international —  example of what happens when society breaks down. It’s the New Wild West, which, as turns out, is much, much worse than the old, not-so-wild West.

But Detroit is the exception, not the rule. Pockets of violence aside, Americans enjoyed a fifth straight year of decreased violence in 2011. Via Hot Air, a report that will disappoint the doomsayers and cheer just about everyone else:

The FBI is expected to report the final 2011 figures around the end of the summer. Assuming those figures match the current estimates, the nation’s murder rate has been cut by about 53 percent and the total violent crime rate has been cut by about 49 percent since 1991, when violent crime hit an all-time high. Stated another way, the nation’s murder rate has fallen to about a 48-year low, and the nation’s total violent crime rate has fallen to about a 41-year low.

Peace and prosperity: now available in an expanded range of calibers

The report comes courtesy of the NRA, so the FBI figures are naturally used to support the claim that more guns mean less crime. It’s a compelling argument, especially since the NRA cites the rise of laws making it easier for citizens to carry and use firearms defensively rather than simply boasting about the overall increase in the rate of gun ownership. But gun ownership and gun-friendly laws can’t tell the entire story of our increasingly civil society.

Read the rest of this entry »

From Hopper’s Nighthawks

11 06 2012

Everyone knows Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, even if they don’t actually know the title or artist of the 1942 painting:

Nighthawks is either iconic or cliché, depending on how you look at it. On its own, it’s great. Unfortunately, it has inspired and endless stream of schlock, like this:

Not as bad as velvet paintings of Elvis, not as good as Dogs Playing Poker

Seriously, not sure who buys this stuff. Although I’m strangely taken with the anteater remix:

$#%!@ you, New York!

Anyway, I was driving down John R the other day and, while stuck at a stoplight, this scene just sort of fell into place. Fortunately I had my cell phone camera ready. I call it Nightcracks:

The guy in the middle really brings it all together

It’s either a celebration of the late-night, blue collar greasy spoon culture or a bleak examination of America’s obesity epidemic. You decide.

Formula One racing – American as apple pie

10 06 2012

Formula One racing has never seen the type of domestic success enjoyed by, say, NASCAR.

F1’s image is undoubtedly part of it – there’s just something foreign about the series that extends beyond the marques represented on the track or the far-flung locations of the races themselves. I watched both the Monaco Grand Prix and a decent chunk of the Indianapolis 500 this past Memorial Day weekend. I’ll let you guess which race kicked off with a P-51 Mustang flyover.

Then there are the drivers. In the stock car racing satire Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Sacha Baron Cohen’s effete, macchiato-sipping Jean Girard lampooned America’s perception of the typical F1 driver. His fictional sponsor was Perrier. Compare that to Ricky Bobby’s all-American Wonderbread backers.

Of course, real F1 drivers are not sniffy elitists but highly skilled athletes – and a quick glance at off-track politics reveals that that, ideologically speaking at least, the racing series and its participants may not be so foreign after all.

Take the events surrounding the Grand Prix of Canada. The race has been threatened by college students – let’s call them “Occupy Montreal” – protesting insignificant tuition increases and (of course) capitalism in general. F1 racing, a pursuit of the global One Percent, is an easy target. Read the rest of this entry »

Singapore, Land of the Free

7 06 2012

A would-be graffiti artist was recently arrested in Singapore, and if convicted of vandalism, the 25-year old woman faces fines and jail time — and even corporal punishment in the form of caning.

In a nation famously called “Disneyland with the Death Penalty,” the draconian discipline doled out for seemingly minor infractions like graffiti is hardly surprising. Still, Western nations seem to understand that Singapore’s medieval approach to crime and punishment, while apparently effective (the streets are clean, after all), is a rather high price to pay for a veneer of order.

Signs, signs, everywhere a sign

Unfortunately, there’s no place on the planet where individuals exist in a state of absolute liberty. Singapore’s economic freedom must be weighed against the literal butt-whooping that awaits minor acts of criminal stupidity. Western Europe’s celebrated cultural liberalism comes with a burdensome, faltering welfare state attached. Read the rest of this entry »

There’s still time to celebrate

6 06 2012

Celebrate International Convoy Day, that is.

Mercy sakes alive, we’ve got us a convoy

Find out more at my Autoweek post. It’s part of what I get paid to do all day.

By this time tomorrow, I’ll be on my way to California

2 06 2012

…with my friend Kolin. To pick up a giant Trojan Horse and tow it back to Western Michigan. Non-stop.

Yeah. That’s about as much as I know as well.

A gift from the gods, maybe

What could go wrong?