Archive for May, 2010

Faux News: Automobile Controversies

May 16, 2010

A growing list of situations where car companies are being torpedoed by reporters. Please note, just because an event is listed here doesn’t mean it’s verified. This blog is merely something to help me organize my brain. This post will change over time.

60 Minutes vs. Audi 5000

to research:

The incident devastated Audi sales in the United States, which did not reach the same level for another fifteen years. The initial incidents which prompted the report were found by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Transport Canada to have been attributable to operator error, where car owners had depressed the accelerator pedal instead of the brake pedal. CBS issued a partial retraction, without acknowledging the test results of involved government agencies

more links: In Defense of: The Audi 5000 By Paul Niedermeyer on May 3, 2007

Viewers didn’t see the canister of compressed air on the passenger-side floor with a hose running to a hole drilled in the transmission. An “expert” had rigged the Rube Goldberg device to shift the big Audi into drive and, like any automatic-equipped car, move forward (unless the brakes are depressed).

ABC vs Fiat

to research

Dateline NBC vs General Motors pickup trucks

To research:

Dateline NBC producers had rigged the truck’s fuel tank with remotely controlled explosives. The program did not disclose the fact that the accident was staged. GM investigators studied the film, and discovered that smoke actually came out of the fuel tank 6 frames before impact. GM subsequently filed an anti-defamation/libel lawsuit against NBC after conducting an extensive investigation. On Monday, February 8, 1993 GM conducted a highly publicized point-by-point rebuttal in the Product Exhibit Hall of the General Motors Building in Detroit that lasted nearly two hours after announcing the lawsuit. [2] The lawsuit was settled the same week by NBC, and Jane Pauley read a 3 minute 30 second on-air apology to viewers.

Consumer Reports vs. Suzuki Samurai

Via BuisinessWeek h/t Volokh readers:

on Apr. 20, 1988, driver Kevin Sheehan took the Suzuki Samurai through its paces 16 times, some runs going in excess of 50 miles an hour, without ever once lifting the vehicle’s wheels off the ground. Sheehan wrote in his notes: “Easy to control … Never felt it would tip over.”

At that point, driver Richard Small took over and performed 21 runs, at least one at 55 miles an hour, and rated the vehicle “5 plus. No real problems.”

That day Editorial Director Irwin Landau and Technical Director David Pittle were present at the track. And according to the lawsuit, one eyewitness claimed to have heard Landau tell Sheehan, “If you can’t find someone to roll this car, I will.”

David Pittle took the wheel himself nine times and managed to lift the wheels off the ground once. CU then changed the course setup—and would still have trouble getting the Samurai to show a propensity to roll. Somehow that became a nonissue: Consumer Reports proceeded to warn the American public that this was one very dangerous vehicle.

Sales of the Suzuki Samurai fell from 83,314 units to just 5,031 after the Consumer Reports story ran; Suzuki suffered serious damages from the exposé. But the public never heard the worst: When it sued because Consumer Reports continued to disparage the company, Suzuki made copies of actual CU testing video available to the media, so reporters could see just how duplicitous those tests were. Nothing changed.

ABC vs Toyota Toyota Examines ABC News Expert’s “Unintended Acceleration”, Refutes It

Traveling Guide

May 16, 2010

Travel / Itinerary Book

  • Flight Times
  • Carry On Baggage Size per Airline
  • Hotel Locations & Reservation Info
  • Time estimates for predicted routes
  • Car rental location & confirmation number
  • Frommers
  • Relevant Local info: (Mousesavers, Tourguide schedules, etc)
  • Restaurant info + alternatives in case things don’t go to plan
  • Alternate routes for major events in case of traffic jams – call relevant tour guides as they are full of info
  • Alternate parking for major events in case of traffic jams – call relevant tour guides as they are full of info
  • Tour Times, sellout dates (e.g. Mammoth Cave), costs/variety

Flight Tips

  • Thick sweatshirt doubles as a pillow, carry even to warm places as they (or she) may get cold at night.</li
  • No corkscrews w/ foil cutters that are knife shaped “a knife is a knife” – TSA
  • 1 quart bag w/ 3oz containers
  • Gum for popping ears
  • Water bottle

Hotel Tips

  • Check Kayak, expedia, priceline, etc but don’t trust the price (e.g.: Gaylord Palms goes from $120 to $170)
  • Cheap hotels almost always sacrifice something. Consider “small rooms” hotel like Destiny Palms in Florida (83% @ 37 reviews, 16 of 190) which was nice enough to have granite topped bathroom sink, table, nightstand and bar. All wood furniture (no particle board) all for $42.55 a night. Stay away from ‘broken light’ hotels like the Marriott in Dayton Ohio (reminder to self- lookup local to see w).
  • If you pull into the parking lot and some of the lights are out – leave
  • If the carpet in the hallway looks stained – leave
  • Check tripadvisor
  • Call hotel to compare online vs live booking

Day Trip Guide

  • Small Flexible cooler for protecting medication in hot car
  • Extra zip-lock bags
  • Trail Mix
  • Beef or Turkey Jerky
  • dry bag
  • Gatorade mix to cover-up bad tap water taste (e.g. Walt Disney World)
  • Gatorade Squeeze gels
  • Powerbar
  • Camelback
  • 1 quart nalgene
  • Strap for water bottle x2
  • dry bag (keeps cooler dry)
  • camera bag, extra batter, charger, lens cleaner
  • airport friendly corkscrew
  • Khaki BDU shirt & pants (e.g. alpine slide)
  • wine case
  • Screwcap Wine (resealable)
  • Hipbag
  • Insect Repelent


  • Cleaning kit (tissue + spray)
  • Small point and shoot camera
  • SLR w/ zoom for Nature, Shuttle Launches, etc
  • Waterproof enclosure for Point & Shoot
  • download adapter
  • Charger
  • tripod (Gorillapod by Joby)
  • extra cards & batteries

Fun Stuff

  • Cards
  • Tubes for packing Wine

Sunny Outdoor Events

  • Polarized Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Facial Sunscreen
  • Sunscreen
  • side/day bag

Dopp kit

  • Travel Bottles
  • Toothbrush
  • Face scrub
  • Travel Deodorant
  • Razor
  • Floss
  • Q-Tip
  • Nose Hair Trimmer
  • Razor Blades
  • acrylic mirror
  • viscose towel (e.g. PackTowel)
  • toilet paper
  • antibacterial wipes
  • analgesic of choice (e.g. Aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, etc)
  • diarrhea treatment of choice
  • insect repellent
  • infection treatment (e.g. cephalexin)
  • lip balm
  • tweezers
  • moleskin
  • bandages
  • prophylactics
  • vitamins
  • Fiber gummies
  • Krill Oil
  • eye mask
  • earplugs
  • Stain Stick
  • Rubber bands
  • Nail Clippers
  • Nose Clippers

International Travel

  • Copy of Passport
  • Visiting Nurses
  • Car insurance (e.g. costa rica)

Relevant Links


May 10, 2010

Lessons learned – People like installing tires that aren’t up to spec. Called around today and nobody had tires that fit my Honda specs. All were either a sliver too small, had a low load index or a lower speed rating. It’s a bit of a wake-up call since I called 2 Costcos, 2 Pepboys, 2 Walmarts and 3 Sams clubs. What’s more, I think I talked to only one person that actually got my rating right and told me he would have to order a set of tires.

This seems to be the best deal for my Honda Accord Ex V6
205/65R15 94V BFGoodrich® Traction T/A® ~ $94
60,000-mile Manufacturer’s Limited Treadlife warranty
all-season traction

205/65R15 94V Goodyear® Eagle GT® ~$88.12
50,000 Miles


Speed Rating  & Load Rating