My Top Gear Review


This is a bit of a digression for me, but I thought I would “review” the relaunch of Top Gear.  I put “review” in quotes because I didn’t actually see the new episode,but I did did read the live blog provided by the Guardian, and I had more than a few comments.

The summary of this (and few other reviews I have seen) is basically, it was pretty much like the old Top Gear, just not as good.  To which I have to say, I think what they really mean is that the “old” Top Gear just weren’t that good, but everyone had gotten used to the old one.  Sort of like that stinkly smell that just doesn’t really register any more.

I have to say that I was introduced to Top Gear about a year or so ago by my (then) 15 year old son.  I will admit that I am not a fan of the show and I want to take some comments about the relaunch that say exactly why I am not a fan of the show.

About halfway through his live blog, Stuart Heritage had this to say, “If you like watching people you vaguely recognise from TV talking endlessly about cars you’ll never be able to afford, then this is amazing television.” Which is exactly the two sentence review I would have given the old Top Gear about 6 months ago after watching several years worth of episodes.

Living in the Midwestern US, I have pretty much zero chance of even seeing a car they talk about on Top Gear, much less getting up close and personal with one.  So, Heritage’s line about the Stig’s obligatory test lap, “He’s driving the blue car around the track, and it’s all meaningless really because no normal person is ever going to buy one, and what’s the point of it and what’s the point of anything?”  Exactly.  And so it has been for years!

Or as I often put it, “Ohhhh the car that cost as much as an 8000 square foot mansion was two tenths of second faster than the one that only cost as much as a 5000 square foot mansion!”  Wow!  Cue the applause!  Heritage also says that the review segment in the first episode of the relaunch is “IDENTICAL” to the old ones.  Which were all obviously IDENTICAL to each other.  ZZZZZZZ.

Heritage also made a comment that the best way to survive the new show was to record it and fast forward through the boring parts.  Which is the only way that even my son, who is a Top Gear fanatic, can make it through the old episodes.  He never watches the “Star in a Reasonably Priced Car.”  The “news” segment is often passed over as well, as being pretty insufferable.

Which brings us to the legendary “chemistry” amongst the “Three Amigos.”  Frankly, I never saw it.  It was all so forumulaic.  Clarkson, the combination of addled adolescent and crusty curmudgeon.  May, “the voice of reason” and Hammond, the youthful enthusiast.  Such talents!  I dare you to go through the old episodes of Top Gear and count how many times Clarkson moans “Yesssssss” or snears “Could be worse.”  Hilarious!  Just like “Dyn-O-Mite” or “Whachu talking about Willis?”

Or perhaps you go through the news segments and count how many “It’s rubbish” “Oh, I rather like it” exchanges you can find.  Again, ZZZZZZZZ.  Occaisionally a genuinely funny line would gurgle up, but not very often.  I never thought of the three as “great talents.”  This was highlighted when they tried to do other projects.

When May tried to show that he could be “fun” on ManLab, it was unwatchable.  When Hammond tried to be “smart and serious” on that big idea show,  it was also unwatchable.   I guess Clarkson does some kind of game show, but I can’t imagine I would be impressed.

For me, the poor reviews of the new Top Gear simply serve to underscore how bad the old one really was.

Now, that being said, the old Top Gear did sometimes have a saving grace.  Most of the special episodes were actually somewhat watchable.  Taking the hosts way, way out of their comfort zones actually did, occaisionally, make for interesting television.  Yes, they did have their cringe-worthy moments where the people of the host country were deeply disrespected, but seeing the guys truly working together and coming to respect their new surroundings was usually pretty affecting.  But this did not happen often enough.

I wish the new crew well and hope they find a way to move in new directions with Top Gear, because to my mind the old ways never did work anyway.


Dumb Dumb Donny Fails Econ 101

Trump supporters say they like two things about the spray tanned clown, his “straight talk,” and his “business experience.” We already know that his “straight talk” consists mostly of juvenile insults and untruths, but what about his “business experience?” Well that was on display in North Dakota yesterday during his news conference and frankly it didn’t go so well.  Dumb Dumb Donny is already failing Econ 101.

He spent a good part of his speaking time complaining about Obama’s environmental initiatives and how he was going to get rid of all that so that (basically) we could “drill baby drill” in North Dakota and other places. Now, this is the typical Republican line, but like most Republican lines, it just ain’t true.

Here is what oil and gas production have looked like in the US over the past two decades or so:

Immediately you will notice that although fracking started before Obama took office, it really took off since 2008. Oh yeah, Obama was elected in 2008. Now, it is true that the oil boom has cooled off in the past year or two, but it is not because of any new environmental regulations. It has been pretty much as a result of market forces.

The increase with US oil and gas production was met by OPEC (especially Saudi Arabia) pumping oil like there is no tomorrow, combined with the remnants of the 2007 crash to lead to a world wide oil glut and collapse of natural gas prices.

Fracking is not economically feasible with oil prices less that $50 or $60 dollars a barrel. Prices were as low as $35 a barrel over the past 2 years. And because of that we have been enjoying gas prices at the pump in $2 a gallon range, rather than $4 a gallon like we were seeing several years ago.

Apparently Dumb Dumb Donny wants to raise gas prices to $4 a gallon again.

Which actually, environmentalist would love. Hmmmm…maybe we could slap a $2 a gallon tax on all oil imports, which would actually get North Dakota drilling again. Good luck getting that through a Republican Congress.

It is this kind of brilliant thinking that leads to outstanding business results like these:

Graph comparing Trump Casinos to Index Fund Dumb Dumb Donny’s actual returns.

I will say, I do believe that Dumb Dumb Donny can do for the American economy what he did for his own business: Run it right into the ground.

The Secret Identity of “Ken Ham”

I thought it would be obvious by now, but most people don’t seem to get it, which tells you how wonderfully devious the plan is.  Phil Plait, in Slate has written that “Ken Ham”Really doesn’t understand science.”  Well, of course he doesn’t.  He wasn’t designed to.

No, not in the designed by god, excuse me, the designer who shall not be named but is by no means a religious entity, but is really the father of Jesus, but that is totally unrelated.  I am going to tell you what I mean by “designed” but you have to promise to keep it secret, otherwise I will have to kill you.

“Ken Ham” is no more real than Betty Bowers or the original Steven Colbert.  I would have been pretty damn obvious, really, how could “Ken Ham” be a real person?

“Ham” is a creation of American Society of Satanic Hoaxers and Taunters (ASSHAT).  His whole schtick is designed to create atheists and agnostics.  How could it be otherwise?  The whole idea that if even one word of the Bible is not true, then the whole thing is bogus is perfect for creating non-believers.  You don’t have to be a biblical scholar or read the thing for more than a few minutes to realize that it is riddled with contradictions and falsehoods.  Insisting that it is as perfect as god himself is simply a way to to destroy any confidence in god.

74196424-petersburg-united-states-to-go-with-afp-story-by-mira_1-crop-promo-mediumlargeNow, when ASSHAT first brought “Ham” out (From Australia, what a great cover story!) they assumed that people would see right through him.  Let’s face it, he is casted a bit too perfectly.  A guy who opposes evolution who looks exactly like a cross between a chimp and and a Neanderthal?   You can only make stuff like this up!  It can’t just be a coincidence.  But nobody blew his cover, so the plan went on to the next phase.

The Creation Museum really lays the groundwork for future developments, such as the under construction Ark Museum.  Many people don’t have a problem creationism, per se.  The idea that god created cute koala bears and ponderous pachyderms as is — Presto! — is an appealing idea.  But the museum starts to undercut the cuteness of all that, by showing man with dinosaurs.  Why would god create so many animals that are now dead?  In fact why would he create many, many more dead kinds of animals than live ones?  The seeds of doubt are being sown.

The other seed of doubt that is being sown is what kind of god are we talking about anyway?  Turns out “Ham’s” god is a big fat jerk.  Turns out the Garden of Eden is just trap, a way for people to screw up.  Turns out that Act One tossing out the the innocent looking teenagers in a fit of pique.  And their great sin?  Technically, disobedience, but really they want to be just like dad (god).  And we can’t be having any of that now, can we?  Try to be like me and I throw you out on your ass, this is the god “Ham” worships.  ASSHAT really is that brilliant!

Phase Two just piles on.  When most people think of Noah’s ark, they see the children’s bible illustration of a little boat a couple of elephant trunks sticking out the side and two giraffe necks sticking out the top.  And a couple of cute monkeys or pandas standing next to old man Noah.  “Ham” from ASSHAT is having none of that.  First start with a boat that is just big enough to be unbelievable.  To big for one guy to build, but too small to hold all the animals of the world.  So far so good.

Since it is too small to hold all the species of animals, “Ham” from ASSHAT came up with the brilliant idea of of “kinds” of animals.  According to this “theory,” there were say, two cute pandas on the ark.  And from these two cute pandas we got all the bears in the world — in just 4000 years! That’s right polar bears, grizzley bears, sun bears, black bears, brown bears, sloth bears, spectacled bears all NOT evolved from a single breeding pair in 4000 years.  More like animorphs.  Don’t even get me started on the ducks.  So, god didn’t create each animal perfect in it’s place, he created some genetic templates that change — not evolve! — to match their environment.  Don’t worry if the polar bears die off due to climate change.  We’ll just take a pair of brown bears up there and “poof!” after a couple of hundred years they will polar bears.  And Darwinian evolution is ridiculous!

And if that isn’t enough, what about “Ham’s” god?  Well, he picks right up where he ended after Act One, in a fit of pique.  But this time he is not just going to kick us out on our ass, he is actually going to kill us all.  All the little bitty babies, the kids, pregnant women, all the animals.  Dead.  Completely, entirely dead.  Because we are not worthy of his love, or something.  Wiped out.  Drowned.  No mercy.  Kaput.  Can’t wait to go back to church on Sunday to worship this clown.

Oh, he does save eight lucky people.  That’s right, 4000 years ago there were just 8 people on the earth.  How many generations did first cousins have to have sex?  Ugh.  Oh, this is much better than thinking we evolved.

And course, being all knowing and all god totally picked the most righteous people to survived being drowned with all the baby kittens and panda bears.  Which is why, of course the first thing Noah did was replant grapes so he could make wine and get hammered into a near coma.  And his son would take advantage of him in that state.  So we are all descended from an alcoholic whose son committed gay incest.  Explains a lot about “Ken Ham’s” worldview, doesn’t it?

If there are still any believers left, ASSHAT will move onto Phase Three.  In which people work together to try to be like dad (god) again.  So, once again, in a fit of pique he kills…well this time he doesn’t kill them all.  Just to mix things up I guess. This time god just wrecks the hell out of the tower and makes it so people can ever work together again.  That’s right, god makes sure we all speak different languages and have different cultures so that we will never understand each other and will always be in conflict.

Hard to see how there will be any believers left after that.  If so, we can also have a tour of the smoking ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah, when once again, in a fit of pique…wait are we seeing a pattern here?

It has been famously said that the most effective tool for creating atheists is the bible, properly read.  Since no one actually reads the thing, ASSHAT created “Ken Ham” to make it life size and throw it in their faces.

Well played, ASSHAT, well played!