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If you’ve never heard of Radley Balko, now’s your chance.  He’s a libertarian-minded writer who’s spent time at the Cato Institute and now writes for Reason magazine, with columns also appearing on Foxnews.com.

His site, The Agitator is early with a lot of stories that you just don’t want to ever see, but you really should.  Particularly, he has a lot of stories about malfeasance of police, prosecutors, and governments.  The kind of things that just burn you up, and sometimes make you despair for the country and the world, but also that make you have the hope that these things will be exposed and people will see them.

I got plenty ticked off when I read about this thing yesterday: The Chevy Tahoe Hybrid

The fact that ANYONE can think they’re doing the environment any favors when they drive a giant SUV unless they’re carrying around more than 2 people all the time drives me up a wall. And then there are the design choices for this vehicle, that really just burn me up.

First of all, the cheapest regular 2WD Tahoe comes with a 4.8l V8. The upgraded 4WD ones come with a 5.3l V8. So you’d think “Hey, we’re putting the electric motors on, we can go with less engine so combined power is the same.” Well, I’d think that, cause I’m not an idiot. But Chevy, they’re geniuses: they put in a 6.0L V8 that produces more power than either of the other engines. What a great idea!

And the net effect of the hybrid powertrain? It boosts gas mileage up to a whopping 21 mpg average. Wow! Thanks a lot, guys. You made your $50k vehicle get less mileage than I see on my decade old Civic with the world’s worst commute for economy (3 miles of stop and go).

I’ll admit it. I’m not a big fan of SUV’s in the first place. Especially leather-appointed living-rooms-on-wheels. These things NEVER go off-road. They rarely carry more than 1 person. They rarely tow anything. Most often, they’re driven around by moms who like to have a giant vehicle, for whatever stupid reason. And if you want to drive one, sure, you can, and I’ll continue to call you a freakin’ idiot. But the idea that they put out THIS as a hybrid, and it qualifies for tax breaks just cheeses me off. It’s not an ‘economy’ vehicle by any stretch of the imagination. And anyone who thinks they’re doing the environment a favor by driving one of these is a complete and utter idiot. You should be ashamed.

And Chevy should be ashamed for thinking that they’re producing something that’s ‘green’. The only thing green about it is the 50,000 dollars you’re spending, up to 15,000 more than a regular Tahoe. Chevy’s commercials about how environmentally friendly they are already tick me off (hydrogen isn’t environmentally friendly, Ethanol isn’t environmentally friendly, and giant ‘hybrids’ with 6L, 338 HP gas engines are NOT! environmentally friendly). If you want to help the environment, do something that would actually make a difference. A giant truck that gets 21 mpg is making a difference the wrong way.

*edit*

Oh, I had to add: If you buy this thing, you can get a tax credit.  Thanks a bunch.  Stupid government.

Ok, I’ve got a thing about American cars: I think they pretty much suck.  There are a lot of good people who work at building them, but there are always design elements that just… suck.

The last American car I bought was a Dodge Neon.  After that, I got a Honda Civic, and decided to never ever buy another American car.  There are just always things that you wonder if anyone even bothered to think about.

For today’s post, we’ll look at the Chevy Equinox.  I’ve driven this a couple times, and each time I notice something that’s just not right about it.  Here’s just a couple of things.

Power Window Controls – On the center console.  This is always an annoying choice.  They are never in a configuration that makes it easy to figure out which window is which, and it’s counter-intuitive to open the window away from the door.  And of course they were rocker switches, but at least they were mounted so that up was above down.

Console controls – Yay! Pictograms!  I guess they wanted to be able to sell in different languages, but there were some things that I was afraid to touch without looking in the manual.  Oh! They’re computer readout controls!  Plus the radio has way more buttons than readouts.  There are only 4 digits on the whole readout!  For an 8 inch wide panel.  You keep wondering what the point of the big readout is.

Turning radius – This is really the worst turning vehicle I think I’ve ever driven.  It never goes into the parking spot you think you’re gonna get in, unless you back up and straighten it out.  I couldn’t make a u-turn in 2 lanes and a 10 foot median.  Just really terrible.

Outside design – One of the times I drove the vehicle was in the sleet and snow.  Cleaning it off, I realized there’s a 2 inch lip on the sides of the windshield.  You can’t just push the snow off the sides.  You have to pick it up to get it off.  Just bad, and unnecessary.

Seatbelt latches – just cheap feeling.  A loose fit, a loose spring, hard to get the belt into.

Overall, the vehicle’s not that bad.  It runs good, it’s not rattly, it’s not too noisy.  But when you’re facing these bad design elements for the little things, it’s just making you think “Why can’t they do this right?  Didn’t anyone even try this?”

I’ve got a couple other vehicles I’ve driven, and will hopefully add to this  series.

I like to switch radio stations, as soon as I hear a song or topic I don’t like, or a commercial, or whatever. One of the stations I like to switch through is the local ‘Jack FM’ station. Their claim to fame, in case you don’t know, is that they have a bigger playlist than normal FM pop stations. I like it because they 1) have no talk portions of the day, 2) seem to have a good attitude, and 3) play interesting songs that I like.

Sometimes, their transitions really crack me up, tho. Today I heard this one:

Takin Care of Business to “Yo, VIP… Let’s kick it!

If you got a problem, yo, I’ll solve it.  Check out the hook while DJ revolves it!

Wow, almost a whole week with no posts. Time flies when you’re working hard on stuff. Had some interesting stuff this week. Been working on getting a project finished, and got that submitted today for review (on time! Yay!) , a nice little project to provide some water quality treatment for runoff to a sensitive stream. Also been playing WoW, and our raid group had a really good week. It was the first time we had 3 nights in a Karazhan timer, and we made the most of it, beating through Maiden of Virtue day one, beating the Big Bad Wolf event day two -our first time for the Opera event – and beating Curator day three! It was a great effort by everyone, even those not in our group. Thanks to everyone for all the effort and advice!

There are some good discussions over on the World of Warcraft Guild Relations forum. Sometimes I participate in them, especially the ones about raiding.  There are a lot of people who have their heads on straight, and it’s a great place for dialogue.  The rest of the forums are pretty much a wasteland about how awful the game is, but Guild Relations has people who are genuinely interested in sharing ways to help other people, and ways to deal with the multitude of issues that come up in large and small guilds.

I want to mention a couple of things. The first is that I blog using the pseudonym Highway. I’m not going to extraordinary lengths to hide my identity, I just feel more comfortable using this name.

The next thing is that I will try to keep things non-specific. I’m not going to talk about specific projects at work. I’m not going to talk about people, or even agencies that my company works for or with, unless these are published policies of the agencies that I can link to separately, like I was anyone in the world. I love my work, and I love my workplace, and I like and respect the people I work for and with. I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize the company’s relationships with others in our field.

I plan to blog about WoW, and some of that will inevitably include my guild. I’ll try to keep guild politics out of this. I’ll never mention names of my guildmates, unless I secure permission from them first. Most of the WoW discussions will probably be about game mechanics and setups. This is stuff I wanted a place to talk about, that doesn’t really fit on forums.

I love discussion in comments. I doubt I’ll get many comments, but hopefully the WordPress setup will limit the spam (something that drove my desire to blog away before).

Hi everyone. Thought I’d just put up a post for practice. Like the title says, I’ve got a ton of ideas about subjects I want to write in, but nothing’s really formed as yet. A couple of thanks, tho, before I go any further.

Thanks to WordPress.com for providing this service. I’ve run a blog on a private host, and it was a hassle. This has been so much easier to set up.

Thanks to Dean Esmay for giving me the idea about WordPress, and also for having a great blog with thought provoking subjects.

Thanks to the guys on dualboot for encouraging me, even you, Phelan.

And finally, thanks to you for coming to read this. I hope you’ll come back, and I hope there will be more to read.

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