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February 13, 2013


My experience of Aaronovich is only with one of his first books, "The Also People," which has something of a cult following: it's a BBC-authorized Dr. Who novel, but what makes it interesting is that it's set in Iain Banks' The Culture. Aaronovich manages to file off all the serial numbers, but it's so obviously The Culture, with its own extensions and Banksian "interest groups" and whatnot, that its fans consider it A Fine Culture Novel in its own right.

reading "Red Plenty", which is a half-novel / half-history about the USSR of the early 60s. fascinating stuff.

I followed your recommendation and downloaded Midnight Riot into my Kindle. According to the blurb the book is about a dectective who can speak with ghosts and has a colleague named Thomas Nightingale. I have finsihed reading a series of potboilers by Stepehn Leather about a London private eye named Jack Nightingale who speaks with demons. Do these authors read each other's books? I'm not going to recommend the Jack Nightinggale series except as low brow light reading. I found the concept entertaining and the writing is good enough, but the characters are nowhere near as terrified as they ought to be. And it seems to me that a series premised on the existance of devils ought to at least consider the existance, or explain the alck of existance, of a god. But that's thinking too much and the books are not intended for thinking. Just entertainment.

BTW, you all will probably be surprised to know that I am in the process of getting a book published. (I can type accurately when sufficiently motivated.)
The manuscript is in the hands of an editor for the second go-over. It's about stealing a dog, among other things.

I am currently writing a saga (I pushed past 2500 lines of text yesterday) but would not seriously consider looking for a publisher. Same for my poetry. Anyone interested can find the latter on the net and may find the former at the same place when it's finished. But I have clear ideas whom to cast should Hollywood get interested ;-)

Current reading: Life Stories (David Attenborough) after finishing the second volume (New Life Stories) first.
Also: The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England (Ian Mortimer)
Waiting for a book on 'the saucy British film' to be delivered.

I have a 1995 Accord that has about 140k miles on it, and (so far) no transmission issues. But if everything else about the car is good, and the transmission work will be less than the cost of a GOOD used car, I'd seriously consider repairing it.

We put a new transmission in my Honda Pilot for about $3000, including labor. It's possible that Honda threw in some parts at a discount because of a known defect (which they have yet to confess to) that led it to fail at 62k miles.

In short, if I had a 2001 Accord in good condition that I was otherwise happy with, I'd drop a few thousand into the drivetrain if needed.

Just my thoughts, with plenty of room for disagreement.

Welp, my two cents of bad money thrown after good, is that just about any automobile of any mileage or age can be repaired to function from point A to point B in an acceptable manner, pending parts availability, at less cost surely than great wads of good money thrown after immediately depreciating good money on a new vehicle and/or the heartache of buying a working used vehicle which throws a rod next Thursday.

I've never understood the concept of good money thrown after bad when it comes to cars. What we really mean, I think, is that repairing a car is OUR good money thrown after bad, and purchasing a car, most times, is thought of as borrowed money with interest (not our good money) thrown after shiny new bauble, which at some point becomes bad money somehow thrown without noticing.

As far as living in one's car, we could be much more efficient in this country if we also conducted business in our cars as well as lived in them, thereby reducing sunk costs for business employers, who after all, are the victims of all of our domestic and employee cost demands.

I've just started "The Barbarous Years -- The Conflict of Civilizations" by historian Bernard Bailyn, which tells the story of the settlement of North America by Europeans from 1600-1675.

It already, on page 9, has the quality of good science fiction.

I only buy cars I can pay cash for...and have never owned a new car. My 3 cars average 150,000 miles but i have not had a payment since 2005.

I expect 200k for each and 300k for one. And I tell myself keeping a car on the road longer is like recycling. The energy to make a new car must be more than maximizing the use of an old one.

Either Brett has lured a seller of nuclear power plants (or bombs) here or the above is spam. In either case a delete seems appropriate.


jrudkis has a good point about the incredible energy investment that goes into manufacturing a new car. But I think that replacing old cars is a good idea when you can afford it. Newer cars are safer, which matters because roads have been getting more dangerous. The more SUVs we have on the roads, the more dangerous collisions are for everyone, but especially those driving small sedans.

There's an odd arms-race over vehicle weight going on: in order to survive accidents with heavy vehicles, we've had to increase the weight of smaller cars substantially. That weight increase has eaten up a lot of fuel efficiency improvements. If we could all agree to drive lighter vehicles, we could seriously improve fuel efficiency without compromising safety, but that's not how arms races go.

My wife's boss was just in an accident yesterday; a combination of bad road design, a massive snow bank that made it impossible to see oncoming traffic and bad luck lead to him getting hit at the driver side door. His relatively new car was completely totalled but he walked away with barely a scratch. In a scenario like that, I'd really appreciate a side-curtain air bag and the last 10 years of engineering improvements to car safety features.

What we really mean, I think, is that repairing a car is OUR good money thrown after bad, and purchasing a car, most times, is thought of as borrowed money with interest (not our good money) thrown after shiny new bauble, which at some point becomes bad money somehow thrown without noticing.

I've never agreed with the Count more completely.

My single biggest automotive regret, ahead of losing the RX-7 in divorce and even ahead of letting my souped-up Volvo (!) be towed away for a song is getting rid of my 1991 Nissan Sentra instead of dumping a few thousand into it to fix it up. See, my current car gets about 23 mpg around town, where my Sentra would regularly do better than 30 and could even beat 40 mpg on the highway if I was careful.

Very reliable car, too. It was just getting a bit long in the tooth and needed some TLC, mostly in the form of upholstery and timing belt. Literally only a few thousand bucks. I spent $5k on my Honda; if I'd just dumped some of that back into the Nissan it would still be driving around today.

jrudkis has a good point about the incredible energy investment that goes into manufacturing a new car. But I think that replacing old cars is a good idea when you can afford it.

I'd add that so long as someone somewhere is driving a given car into the ground, it doesn't matter who that person is or how many of the total miles s/he's responsible for, according to me. What matters is keeping the number of cars needed at any given point in time to a minimum, also according to me.

Reading now

David Harvey:Spaces of Neoliberalizaton 2004

Finished recently, February, last week or so

Bad Girls of Japan:Feminist studies of transgression
Neil Davidson Bourgeois Revolutions
The Films of Mamoru Oshii
Critical Theories of the State:Marxist, Neo-Marxist, Post-Marxist
Cyborgs and Barbie Dolls:Feminism + Baudrillard

Next up

Ukiyo Prints, Anime and Traditional Japanese Art, Marxist Price Theory, Benedict Anderson, Donna Haraway

Bob, do you know about the kine Japan list?
http://pears.lib.ohio-state.edu/Markus/kj.html While it doesn't have a lot of discussion, when something does surface, it is really interesting. Not sure if those joining instructions work, but you can sign up here

Does anyone have an American car that is running reliably with more than 150K miles on it? 100K?

My ride is Japanese--173K miles and good to go at least another four years, which will make 12 all up.

I've owned Toyotas since I was 26 years old.

I purchased every one used.

Each hit 180K to 235K before I unloaded them, all in running condition, with one exception, because the automatic transmission went kaputnik.

Had I my dysfunctional druthers, I'd have spent a couple of thousand to put a new transmission in, but marriage is give and take, usually in alternating order, though sometimes one party goes on a streak.

I drove a Corolla station wagon 25 miles to the salvage yard, after removing the tires, which I sold years later. It drove great on the way, though one fender was flapping in the wind and the back end tended to take two or three extra hops when we went over a bump,, and I almost changed my mind as we drove into the joint.

But my son, four years old at the time, thought maybe they'd smash it into a cube right in front of us, which they didn't.

I expect parts of it, transmuted, sit inert now in the cross brace on the 77th floor of a skyscraper in Shanghai, biding their time for the next chapter.

One of my first cars was a Volvo (another car folks keep forever, or used to) of uncertain lineage, meaning a mechanic once came up to me after working on it and gave me a wry, inquisitional look and inquired as to what year I thought my car might be.

Long story short, it was roughly two Volvos seamlessly welded together, luckily front to back, not down the middle of the car lengthwise, which would be more my luck.

The title listed only one of them, and I didn't pursue the ramifications.

It had a small, plastic, brilliantly painted bird mounted as a hood ornament. I like to say that I bought the model bird and the Volvo just happened to be underneath it, which isn't too awfully far from the truth.

The last I saw of that car was the night I attended a going-away soiree for my entrance into the Peace Corps a million years ago. Driving home at night, somewhat worse for wear, on the curvy roads through the woods of western PA, I went around a curve and the right headlight, housing and all, loose from fender rust and this final incidence of centrifugal force, flew out of its socket, and went over a guardrail and disappeared into a deep wooded ravine.

I swear the headlight was still lit as it cleared the guardrail as if lighting its way to oblivion.

Happily, the car did not follow.

I left the car in my mother's driveway, handed my brother the keys, and told him I didn't wanted to see it when I returned two and a half years later, and so far, I haven't.

I have a 1996 Tercel now, 130,000 miles.

It's overdue for a timing chain and so am I.

It could use a lube job too but I think I'll personally pass on that.

My 1999 Jeep Cherokee has 182k, and I intend to keep it to 300k at least. The 2004 Chevy Suburban has 135k, and there is no reason to think it won't have similar longevity (so long as the au pair doesn't keep crashing it). The 2000 Volvo S-80 is pushing 140k.

I fully accept the argument that safety is compromised when keeping an older car on the road, and that so long as someone is using the car, production energy is a wash.

So I really am just cheap, perhaps foolishly so if someone is hurt by failing to keep up with adequate safety investment.

We actually bought new this past year, for the first time ever, when it looked like our Accord was going to need both expensive transmission work and expensive exhaust work in the not-too-distant future.

We got a Prius, which surprisingly has a similar degree of passenger space, but better than twice the city gas mileage, of the Accord it replaced. (Living where we do, much of our driving is stop-and-go city driving.) Assuming it has the lifespan of our other cars, we're hoping the gas savings should make up for the bigger depreciation. And getting a new one with the full warranties, fresh battery, and improved safety features seemed preferable to buying a not-much-less-expensive late-model used Prius, or taking chances with an earlier-model.

When I was younger (and didn't have cars or a convenient train line), I rode a bike into work. Admittedly, it was no more than 2.5 miles each way, but I have colleagues that go farther, throughout the year. Buses in many cities now also have bike racks, so if there's a bus line roughly along a longer commute route, some people can take their bike from home to the nearest bus stop, let the bus take them the bulk of the distance, and then ride the last bit from the bus stop closest to work.

Thanks for the recommendation of Ben Aaronovitch's books. I have read two now and am working on the third. I wish he had more! They are great fun, in a way picaresques of London as much as they are mysteries. It does get a little tiresome ( to me) to read the bitching about the archetecture of the 70's on every other page, but the rest of the historical and local color stuff enriches the story without bring the plot to a halt. Fun light reading. Thanks!

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