Archive | May, 2012
30 May

roadwax

When our children were young, their mother and I never allowed them to sit on the knee of  Santa Claus. It seemed contradictory to warn them to beware of over-familiar strangers and then to suggest that they jump on the lap of some old man who has doubtful dress sense, a false beard and offers them presents in return for personal information.

So it was that we encouraged our kids to cling together in unity against the clearly unhinged logic of their parents. Between us both, their mother and I ran a dictatorial regime that, like President Assad’s, was so obviously designed to one day bring about rebellion.

In our case, we wanted them to rebel. We hated the thought of us clinging to power in old age and we also loathed the possibility that our children would grow up to be like ourselves. We couldn’t imagine a greater sadness…

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Honey, would you park up my P-51D Mustang and help me with the shopping…?

25 May

Ikea, here we come…!

Summer has arrived and Roadwax wants to feed you with a funny little anecdote that is both utterly stupid and completely true. You won’t easily believe this story, but there is an awful lot of written evidence that supports it.

First, I must transport you back to 1945 and England, Europe. To help you get into the atmosphere of those times, I suggest that before you continue reading, you complete the following simple tasks so that you get into the mood for what follows.

Firstly, take everything out of your refrigerator and let it warm up on the kitchen table. Cover yourself in subway dust and comb low-fat spread through your hair. Rub a mixture of cheese and brown paint over your teeth and put the kettle on for a nice cup of tea…

Now, we can begin.

The war against Hitler had just ended. Germany and England lay in smoking ruins and France looked like it had accidentally posted it’s home address on Facebook and invited everyone round for a free Jack Daniels tasting session.

Without wasting a moment of time, English town planners sat around a big mahogany table and came up with ideas for how England would rebuild itself. This was not very difficult to start off, since almost everyone had been issued with a pair of Army boots and there were also an awful lot of half-bricks lying around.

A plan to build this “New England” emerged pretty quickly. All the obvious and sensible stuff was done first. A free National Health Service was set up to stop the working population from lynching the ruling elite. The State School system was encouraged to educate children with the skills needed for industry rather than simply beating them to within an inch of their lives for forgetting the second verse of that hit song: “God Save The King”.

But then it started to get wacky and kooky. Possibly because there was too much sugar in the biscuits during afternoon tea, the ideas began to reflect some pretty startling visions of a future world of mass high-speed travel.

It was decided that each major town in England should set aside space for a Municipal Aerodrome and prepare to welcome society arriving from the air.

Why?

Because the war had resulted in fantastic advances in flight, aeronautical technology and manufacturing techniques!

So what?

Well, if you remove the eight Browning machine guns from a Hawker Hurricane, you get a rather dashing little conveyance for the weekend! The Spitfire is ideal for visiting the seaside once you nail another seat inside. The American P-51D is a “must-have” toy for the Gentleman Sportsman or weekend enthusiast.

But…we already have cars to drive in…! Isn’t this a bit excessive?

Not at all. In the “New England”, men in pin-stripe suits and bowler hats will be so busy making important decisions that they shall need to rush from meeting to meeting, unhindered by the common man in his 1933 12 BHP Austin. Each town shall build an aerodrome, right next to the shops and the golf course!

Are you sure about this?

Absolutely! And stand up straight when you salute me…and straighten your tie!

(And so it was that throughout England, the Town Plans that were drawn up in the period 1944-1946 show provision for “municipal aerodromes” – built to cater for the many light aircraft that the many English middle class shakers and movers would soon own and fly. Provision was made for what would become, without doubt, the fast-moving new world where society’s decision-makers would transport themselves in one of these new, easily-affordable light aeroplanes as a matter of daily routine).

Once the town planners across England had set aside the necessary fields and used their best wooden rulers to draw a runway and a   small car park where chauffeurs could polish the Bentley and stand in deference, a strange thing happened.

Maybe it was because the Automobile Association of Great Britain pointed out that they already spent far too much of their time  pouring gasoline into the tanks of stranded cars whose owners were too dumb to read a map or understand a simple fuel gauge…

Maybe it was because the Police pointed to the number of dented or missing railings and lamp posts on the road that led away from the local golf course club-house…

Maybe it was because it was remembered how, during the war, many bombers had taken off and then crashed within the first minute because their pilots had been so drunk that they were incapable of standing, let alone focusing on an instrument panel…

…but it was decided to quietly drop these plans.

Our “Brave New World” would be a much safer one if we pin-heads were instead firmly anchored to the ground with four rubber tyres and given a shiny chrome grille where the propeller would otherwise be. As a compromise, American cars were given tail-fins.  British cars were given tail-feathers.

And nothing more was said about this brilliant idea to allow everyone to just hop in a plane and fly to the shops in the next town. Those among us who actually had the intellect and reaction speed to fly an aircraft were sold a Cessna or a Beachcraft Bonanza. The rest of us would learn to say the words “Business Class” and “check-in queue”. The town planners erased all their pencil lines and the ‘aerodromes’ were no more.

But many of the original plans are still there on the dusty shelves of local councils and occasionally can be found hiding in old book shops.

Testimony to a brief moment in society’s evolution where, in an act of delightfully misjudged lunacy, we were all to be offered our own pair of wings.

Facebook “advised analysts to cut (valuation) forecast before float”.

23 May

Facebook…A Place For Feds

The Press Agency Reuters claims that Facebook told selected business analysts to reduce revenue and earnings forecasts for their stock flotation while it pursued it’s marketing campaign to raise it’s share price.

You can read the full Reuters article here.

It is unclear at present which market analysts were contacted with the new downward-revised forecast by Facebook and which were not but it is apparent at present that public investors may not have been contacted, nor were privy to the revised forecast.

Facebook shares have already dived 8.9% since launch, wiping more than $19,000,000,000 of market capitalization from the original $38/share initial offering.

It appears that private investors (the many ordinary members of the public who may have bought shares) were not informed by Facebook of this new, reduced estimate of the true share valuation prior to flotation.

On the contrary, Facebook was busy plowing ahead with it’s intense publicity campaign, actually talking the share price up while Morgan Stanley and other select analysts were being told the real news.

Since the legality of such behavior is currently under scrutiny, and since Facebook’s revised (downward) estimate of it’s true value are linked to the discovery that the market for future revenue was incorrectly analyzed by Facebook, this may mark the high-water point in Facebook’s place in the history of contemporary Social Media.

It has always been my personal contention that Mark Zuckerberg wished to float Facebook partly to escape impending legal culpability for law-suits brought about by Class Actions; his position at the top of Facebook left him personally exposed to truly massive personal financial loss and even prison sentences while he stayed in control.

My estimate is that Facebook will now lose share value at a rate of 30% over the next 12 month period, caused by aquisition of unstable Start-Ups, Supreme Court litigation and migration of its users to other sites.

My estimate is that Facebook will be as insignificant a player in the Social Networking sector as MySpace by 2015.

British Royal Wedding souvenirs “made in Chinese sweatshops” -BBC Radio 4

23 May

“Hey, Mister – wanna buy a dish cloth…?”

On 18th May 2012, at 02:21 GMT, the BBC Radio 4 World Service announced that many souvenirs for the recent Royal Wedding had been made in sweat-shops in China. Young Kate Middleton knows a bargain when she sees one.

The more you think about this amazing fact, the sadder and more strangely disconnected from reality the Royal Family appear to be.

I mean, these are not the counterfeit goods – these are the official souvenirs. The souvenirs that have been commissioned, sourced and approved by the Royal Family.

I have waited a few days to see if this news item was repeated by the BBC but, as is often the case, it has been ‘spiked’  – no doubt under pressure from Buckingham Palace who have their hands full trying to organize the celebrations for the Queen’s Birthday which is coming up shortly.

Now, you don’t suppose that Buckingham Palace awarded the contracts for  manufacturing these “Happy Birthday” souvenirs to the same eager applicants, do you…?

Would the Palace care to comment on this issue?

Ford USA announce “American Psycho” Edition of European Transit Van Model.

14 May

In one of the most complex and garbled series of press releases by any major manufacturer in recent years, Ford (USA) and Ford (UK) and Ford (Europe) have just announced their van model line-up for 2013.

After almost 50 years, America is finally going to receive Europe’s massively popular ‘Ford Transit’.

That is the European Ford Transit.

No – not the small, car-like van that is sold by Ford to Americans as the ‘Transit’. That is in fact the Transit Connect. It was called the Transit Connect partly because in Europe it ‘connects’ with the smallest version of its big brother – the Transit – when in it’s largest form, being, if you like, the smaller brother of the European ‘Transit’ range.

But, because Americans have never had the ‘Transit’ range in the first place, the significance of the appendage ‘Connect’ is kind of lost on them. They have the ‘Econoline’ series instead. So, Americans tend to refer to the Transit Connect as simply the Transit. Which makes perfect sense. Up until now.

But the water has been muddied even further by Ford (Europe) coincidentally announcing a so-called “2013 Transit” which is not actually the 2013 Transit that America is going to get. It is something quite separate as a model. Even though it may be sold in America from 2013 onward as well.

If you are currently holding your head in your hands because you cannot make sense of Ford’s Worldwide van line-up, fear not.

Roadwax is here to help you and to share your pain and try to explain.

It is all quite simple really. The marketing departments of Ford (USA) and Ford (Europe) seem to have temporarily screwed up their sequence of model identifiers. It happens, from time to time, as model ranges evolve  in different sales territories.

Whereas motor manufacturers normally allocate model names to allow customers to differentiate between different models across a product range, Ford have temporarily reversed this procedure. They have just re-named all their different models with the same damned name.

Ford (Europe) has just announced the “2013 Ford Transit” in Europe. However, Ford show a photograph of a brand new medium-sized van that bears no relation to either their existing Ford Transit, the Transit Connect or the American E-Series. It is yet another new stand-alone product. It looks suspiciously like a Volkswagen Transporter.

So, this vehicle that Ford (Europe) have announced as the “2013 Ford Transit” is not actually the 2013 Ford Transit. It is a completely separate model from any other Ford product, with its own unique body shell and dimensions. It is specifically intended to attract builders, plumbers and hotel courtesy bus drivers, all of whom have recently migrated to VW because the current Transit now looks boring, style-less and under-powered by comparison.

But in North America, the ageing ‘Econoline’ series is about to be replaced by the European Ford Transit. So, unless somebody at Ford jumps in quick (and I’m sure they will) the “2013 Ford ‘Transit” will be sold in America alongside the ‘Ford ‘Transit’ and the Ford ‘Transit’. And in Europe, the 2013 ‘Transit’ will sit in the model range right between the existing ‘Transit Connect’ and the existing ‘Transit’.

Confused?

Here is a quick history lesson with easy to understand pictures and explanations. It will help us all unravel the truth.

We begin our story in 1964. The American economy was booming. Britain was just a few years behind, still recovering from the devastation of war-time bombing, breaking out of post-war austerity and only just learning how to have a good time.

This is the van that started it all. This is the Ford (USA) Ford Econoline.

This is the van that every small business used in the 1960’s in America. Although astonishingly badly engineered by today’s standards, it was a giant leap forward for the world of light commercial vehicles at the time and light-years ahead of anything else available, anywhere in the world. It was an outstanding commercial success, right from the day of its launch.

Ford (USA) were so delighted with its sales success that they called up Ford (UK) on the telephone. The conversation went something like this…

Ford (USA): “Get ready to rock, you skinny bunch of lime-soaked half-wits!! The ‘Econoline’ is coming to the UK! You guys can build it and sell it all across Europe!’

Ford (UK): ‘You must be mad. Go away. Besides, we are too busy trying to pull our Ford Thames out of the hedge at the end of the driveway and we haven’t got time to play silly games. ‘

 A 1963 British Ford Thames. It survived because nobody tried to drive it.

Ford (USA): ‘No – listen! This Econoline is the solution to all your problems with your Ford Thames! The Econoline actually turns corners when you pull on the steering wheel! Its a major step forward in driver safety!’

Ford (UK): ‘Driver what...? Look, can you send us some more rope? We’ve just snapped our last bit. ‘

Ford (USA): ‘That’s what we are trying to explain, you schmucks! Your booming consumer economy needs a real van! One that can actually carry more than a bag of spanners without grounding. A van with room on the inside so you can carry  lots and lots of boxes!’

Ford(UK): ‘We put the boxes on the roof if they don’t fit inside. No thanks.’

Ford (USA): ‘Oh, yeah…? And where exactly are the boxes you put on the roof-rack of your Thames?’

Ford (UK): ‘They are scattered across a potato field. Look, stop rubbing it in and send us some more bloody rope…!’

Ford (USA): ‘Nope. We’re gonna send you an Econoline and you are going to evaluate it and then build it.’

(Ford USA  sent an Econoline in a crate to Ford  UK. A few weeks went by and nothing was heard. Eventually, Ford USA telephoned England to find out how things were going).

Ford (USA): ‘Well, whaddya think of the Econoline? Great, ain’t she…?’

Ford (UK): ‘It is stuck in the potato field at the end of the driveway. Can you send us some really, really strong rope?’

Ford (USA): Damn. How did you manage to get it stuck there?’

Ford (UK): I don’t know. All I remember was touching the gas pedal and then there was this huge roar. My false teeth got sucked down my throat and everything that had previously been in front and a long way away came rushing towards me really fast and ended up behind me.’

Ford (USA): Why didn’t you brake?’

Ford (UK): ‘I thought the hedge would do that for me. This Econoline seems to be a tad heavier than the Thames. The plan sort of fell apart…’

Ford (USA): ‘So, you like it, yeah…?’

Ford (UK): ‘It is totally unsuitable for the British market. We have decided to build our very own van. We are going to call it the ‘Transit’. It will have the ride and handling of a typical British car. It will turn corners and have an engine that barely develops enough power to pull the skin off a rice pudding. That way, our world will be safe again.’

Ford (USA): ‘Transit, eh…? Hmm…the name will never catch on. You need something more sexy. How about “F-Series”?’

Ford (UK): ‘That is both rude and disrespectful to the Queen, sir. Women would lose their moral values and society would end. No – “Transit” is a nice, sensible name. Also, we are going to put the engine behind the front axle but in front of the driver so that the weight distribution allows for a thing called “handling”.

 1965. The Ford Transit. A legend is born.

Ford (USA): ‘ “Handling”? What is that? We don’t have handling in America. Is it some kind of cheese?’

Ford (UK): ‘We just invented it. “Handling” is the means by which vans can be kept separate from hedges and potato fields.’

(The years passed and the Ford Transit became legendary as the prime mover of goods across all Europe.)

 A 1970 Transit with a new and sexy grille.

 A 1980 Ford Transit with an even sexier grille.

 A 1990’s Transit with an un-sexy “Smiley-Face” grille.

 A 2005 Transit with ‘can’t be bothered to try’ grille

  A 2010 Transit with the ‘stolen from a VW Crafter’ grille.

Meanwhile, Ford America dropped the word ‘Econoline’ because it sounded cheap and created the  ‘E-Series’. Everyone still referred to it as the ‘Econoline’ and so Ford said “Ah…what the Hell…” and called it both.

Every van driver in Britain wanted one but Ford remembered the incident with the Econoline and the potato field and decided it was not a good idea. Also, it was calculated that just six Ford E-Series vans would consume more gasoline within three hours than Britain could import in a week.

 A Ford Econoline. Big, powerful and utterly pornographic.

(The decades passed, a few wars happened and then one day, Ford (USA) emailed Ford (UK) to see how things were going).

Hi, Ford UK!

We just got a Facebook page and it is really cool! Why don’t you pop over and “like” us? 🙂 FordUSA.com

Hi Ford USA!

That’s really clever! How do you do that round yellow face thing? Rgds, Ford (UK) Ltd.

Hi Ford UK!

Hope you are well. We can’t be assed to re-design the E-Series. Can we steal your Transit design? 🙂 FordUSA.com

Hi Ford USA!

Sure, no probs. Have emailed you a picture of it!

Hope you like it!  :-*+)) Ford (UK) Ltd.

Hi Ford UK!

WTF is THAT!!!??? OMG. It looks like  a Volkswagen Transporter got hit by a badger. Totally gross front end, man.

Hi Ford USA!

It is our 2013 Ford Transit! You said you wanted one! Oh – by the way – how do you do the face with the smile thing?

Hi Ford UK!

F*** the smiley face. Where is your Ford Transit? The REAL Transit ? 😦 You’ve had it since 1965, ferrchrissakes???

Hi Ford USA!

Oh. That one. That is as tired out as a hooker on Sunday. We can’t even sell them to builders. Take it if you want it. PS How do you do that sad face thing? Rgds, Ford (UK) Ltd *–P

Hi Ford UK!

Thanks! Hey – guess what we have done to your Ford Transit!!! 😀

Hi Ford USA!

What – the one that looks like a Volkswagen? 🙂

Hi Ford UK!

No – stop going on about THAT one. It is just getting everybody confused. Its just a goddamn VW with a Ford badge. 😛

Hi Ford USA!

Oh. We spent all night staying up and trying to make it look good. Sorry you don’t like it. 😦

Hi Ford UK!

LMFAO! It looks pants. Anyway – check this out, dude. Look what we’ve done to your old European Transit! Twin Turbo!!! V6!!! 😀   😀   😀

Next Gen Ford Transit Ecoboost Outline

Hi Ford USA!

You can’t be serious…that is….OBSCENE!!!!  By the way, what does “LMFAO” mean?

Hi Ford UK!

Hahahahahahahaaha….! F**k you.

That’s right, folks!

Ford of America have gone and stuffed a 350 BHP twin-turbo gasoline V6 into Ford Europe’s ageing ‘Transit’! This psychotic, tyre-burning monstrosity of a van will now replace their home-grown Econoline range.

And, no….we Brits will not be allowed to own one in case we hurt ourselves. Instead, we will be persuaded to buy Ford’s new VW  Transporter look-alike or else plod on with our 90 BHP or 130 BHP versions that are already well past their sell-by date.

BMW(UK) Car Warranties latest explanation. Doesn’t.

4 May

In black and white…?

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has just emailed me to pass on their conclusion into my query that BMW (UK) Ltd were offering only “dealer” warranties instead of “manufacturer’s” warranties with new BMWs. 

I’ll let you read their  own words:

 

Date 1 May 2012 Email enquiries@oft.gov.uk
Dear Mr ******
BMW car warranties
I refer to our correspondence regarding the question you asked in your email of 23
February to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), as to the car manufacturer’s responsibilities
with regard to BMW dealer warranties.
You had pointed out, that according to its website BMW did not appear to provide a
manufacturer warranty, but referred instead to a Three Year Unlimited Mileage Dealer
Warranty.
We discussed your concerns with Motor Codes, a self-regulatory body for the UK motor
industry which offers advice to consumers on a range of issues, including those relating to
warranties.
Although it is termed a three year dealer warranty by BMW (UK), we understand that it is
comprised of a two year manufacturer warranty and a one year dealer warranty which
may otherwise be referred to as a UK warranty.

However, all claims within the three year warranty period will effectively go through
BMW, as BMW (UK) will back those three years of cover.

I hope this satisfactorily answers your question.

Okay, if I was confused before, I am slack-jawed now.

So…a  BMW three year Dealer warranty is actually a two year BMW Manufacturer warranty…almost a three year Manufacturer’s warranty, with that third year being added as a totally Dealer warranty…except it is overseen by the Manufacturer…as if it was a ‘three year Manufacturer’s Warranty’.

Is it just me…?

What do you think that the letter is saying?

Is there not something really confusing about the basic ‘legal definitions’ stuff here…?

I’ve got that certain  Nurburgringing in my ears…

Dan Baird + Homemade Sin rock Europe. Europe considered rocked.

1 May

There is a simple Ethnicity Test that one is given before one can truly be described as British. Regardless of race, gender, religion nor one’s choice in sandwich filling, we all have to agree to one thing:

Please complete the following statement using one of the answers listed below.

“If I find myself one Spring evening in a beautiful English pub garden that perches on the banks of a fast and silent river and I realise that I still have one more wish to be granted in my life before it is time for me to go, then I explicitly demand that…

1) a veteran Georgia road-house band be transported here to play forthwith at maximum volume.

2) the quiet tranquility of this Sunday night is not suddenly broken and we shall still hear a weasel should it decide to fart.

3) we all remain sober and get early nights before the dawn of Monday because that is sensible and far wiser.

Did you correctly choose answer No.1?

Congratulations…!!!

You immediately gain honorary (yes – that is how we spell it) British Ethnicity. There is no badge to send you through the post. You will not be questioned further on any of your other beliefs. You are hereby assumed to be of sound enough mind to stand in a trial and be questioned by a judge.

Homemade Synopsis

Western Europe has always been proud of innovation. It is particularly our fusion of ideas from diverse sources that moves us forward as thinking nations.

None more proud or diverse than Britain.

One of the most important innovations that we British ever stole from the Americans was “guitar-driven rock”. Some time around the period 1975 – 1985, while all of the world was too busy watching the Nasa space program, we in Britain stole “driven, blistering guitar rock” from the American Consciousness and got it out of the country in a box.

In one of those “you couldn’t make it up if you tried” type situations, a band of the most accomplished Southern Rock musicians from the U.S state of Georgia just arrived in their tour bus down the treacherous hillside track that leads to Beese’s Tea Gardens. They plugged their valve-driven Fenders and Gibsons into the sound system and proceeded to take off heads.

Dan Baird engaging four-wheel-drive...

There is a strand of music history starting from the 1970’s that involves valve amps, two guitarists, playing with a backing of electric bass and live drums. It pays homage to its roots but it keeps moving forward. It has to, or else it becomes a parody of itself.

Dan Baird & Homemade Sin are the group who kept driving that sound forward. If Keith Richard, The Faces or a thousand other bar-room bands had kept on playing live and developing their craft, they would sound like this.

This band has always known that their particular musical genre bears unique rewards. One of its strengths is that you can play trouser leg-shakingly loud material with great clarity to an audience of a couple of hundred souls who want to party.

All you need is that good material and the phone numbers of some ace musicians.

And that is where Dan Baird & Homemade Sin come into the equation. They just happen to play rock for real!

Dan Baird & Homemade Sin come with free delivery and long-term guarantee. They are now on European tour.

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