Saturday, January 29, 2011

Special quotation for the day: Karl Benz

On this day 125 years ago, 29 January 1886, Benz filed his patent for the Benz Patent Motorwagen, the world's first recognized automobile.

Vorliegende Construction bezweckt den Betrieb hauptsächlich leichter Fuhrwerke und kleiner Schiffe, wie solcher zur Beförderung von 1 bis 4 Personen verwendet werden.

First paragraph of Karl Benz's patent application, 29 January 1886; see a PDF of the entire seven page document as granted 2 November 1886 here.

Friday, January 28, 2011

A revolving door between car making and automotive journalism

This may be one the shrewder things Bob Lutz did during tenure at Government Motors, but it should raise eyebrows in the same way that the nexus between politics and political journalism does.

John McElroy writes a fascinating story at, though i find his willingnes to spike his own story troubling.

Suez closure fears send oil prices rising

Helicopter Ben's fiat money-printing machine has nothing on 30-years of seething discontent (or more, if you include the disastrous Nassar and Sadat regimes) when it comes to driving oil prices higher. Agustino Fontvecchia writes at the Forbes blog:

The situation could have ripple effects worldwide if the Suez Canal becomes jeopardized or even shut down.  According to Canaccord Genuity, “this may be impactful as approximately 1.8 million bb/d of oil was transported through the Suez Canal in 2009. A closure of the canal would result in an extra 6,000 miles of travel for any oil being transported out of the region, an additional cost which could drive up oil prices.”  International oil prices are already racing towards the $100 a barrel mark.  Brent crude oil contracts for March, “the global benchmark,” hit their highest level since late 2008 at $99.63 per barrel on January 28.  West Texas Intermediate March futures were up 4.2% to $89.21.

The Arab State versus the Arab Street

[Photo of Egyptian armored cars in Cairo, 28 January 2011: AP via the Daily Telegraph]

Atlanta cops accused of molestations at traffic stops

Notorious police unit members accused of misconduct during a traffic spot, reports WSB-TV:

Channel 2 Action News reporter Eric Philips began piecing together the story after two men came forward and complained about possible officer misconduct during a June traffic stop on Fulton Street.
One of the men said members of the Red Dog unit pulled over his vehicle and forced him to pull down his pants on the side of the road in broad daylight, as officers conducted a search for drugs. No drugs were ever found, passenger Brian Kidd said.
Kidd told Philips that his roommate, Shawn Venegas, was also subjected to a body cavity search that left him feeling uncomfortable.
"One of the officers actually stuck his hand down into Shawn Venegas' pants," said attorney Mark Bullman.
Kidd said it was too much for him to bear.
“They went to his bottom part. That’s as low as you can go. I don’t think anybody should be subjected to that kind of search,” Kidd said. “I had to look away because I couldn’t watch my friend be done like that.”
Venegas said he was so traumatized by the incident that he moved to another state.
"I feel molested, and I feel like I was raped," Venegas told Philips over the phone.
Two of the three officers involved in the stop were also named in the infamous Atlanta Eagle bar raid that the city recently settled. Co-counsel on the traffic stop case, Dan Grossman, was the lead attorney in the Atlanta Eagle case.
“I’ve heard many stories from citizens who were stripped in public by Red Dog,” Grossman said.

Quotation for the day: Mohamed ElBaradei

I wish we did not have to go out on the streets to press the regime to act.

Mohamed ElBaradei, on protests against the Mubarek regime, quoted by Reuters, "Protests against Egyptian president spread," 27 January 2011.

[Photo: AFP/Getty]

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mega-metropolis and mega-transportation infrastructure

Central planning on a gargantuan scale smells like mega-malinvestment in the making. The Telegraph says

City planners in south China have laid out an ambitious plan to merge together the nine cities that lie around the Pearl River Delta.
The "Turn The Pearl River Delta Into One" scheme will create a 16,000 sq mile urban area that is 26 times larger geographically than Greater London, or twice the size of Wales.
The new mega-city will cover a large part of China's manufacturing heartland, stretching from Guangzhou to Shenzhen and including Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Zhuhai, Jiangmen, Huizhou and Zhaoqing. Together, they account for nearly a tenth of the Chinese economy.
Over the next six years, around 150 major infrastructure projects will mesh the transport, energy, water and telecommunications networks of the nine cities together, at a cost of some 2 trillion yuan (£190 billion). An express rail line will also connect the hub with nearby Hong Kong.