Post Tagged with: "review"
by Peter Dushenski @carenvy
August Long Weekend was coming up and I didn’t have plans. The firstest of first world problems, this was.
Spontaneous if nothing else, I booked flights to Vancouver, about 75 minutes west of my home base by air. Such impromptu weekend excursions benefit naturally from road trips, so I called the nice people at Nissan and they offered me a 2013 370Z with spangly LEDs. I took it.
From Vancouver’s English Bay, it would be about an hour of walking and Skytraining just to get to the car, waiting for me in a residential car port in the southeast corner of Greater Vancouver. I was up early that Sunday morning for no particular reason, other than perhaps the coily old hydabed on the 22nd floor of our hotel. Every hotel in the city was booked solid so I couldn’t really complain. It was Pride Week in Vancouver and today was the Parade.
As I walked through the still-tranquil streets towards the Skytrain, I smiled politely at the uniformed officers blocking off roads along the parade route. The big coastal sun shot rays of warmth between the forest of skyscrapers as I ducked into the Burrard Street Station. Leaving the West End, the train floated past glass-clad condos of decreasing size.
I’d been to Vancouver maybe a dozen times before, but I’d never explored it widely. When the most beautiful markets, restaurants, parks, and real estate are all centrally located and within walking distance, why bother? Because adventure! From three storeys up on the train, the badminton training centres, schools, and industrial-looking malls of Vancouver’s edges were like unplugged, uncut bonus tracks hidden 20 minutes past the end of your favourite high school CD. Kinda raw, but integral to the story.
Ten stops later, eyes wide with a new appreciation for the host city of the 2010 Olympic Games, I hopped off the train. Walking down to ground level, I listened to the quiet suburb as it woke up. Some people were gardening, others jogging in colourful groups, other yet standing on the curb waiting for a ride to what could have only been Church.
I followed my directions for about 800m and voila! There, under an open-air awning, was the mysteriously coloured Nissan that I’d reserved for the weekend. It wasn’t quite brown, but probably not purple either. All I could say for certain was that it was sparkly and all mine. I unlocked it, remarked at the plethora of interior upgrades since my 350Z, and set off towards I knew not what.
by Peter Dushenski @carenvy
More pronounced in every way from its slippery predecessor, the new CLS is simply bold to behold. You might even say that it’s the essence of the current Mercedes design language. With a pure and unmistakable curbside presence, it manages to be aspirational without being insecure. Even ignoring the tapered silhouette, the lighting alone, as in so many German cars today, tells much of the design story. The refined lighting and creasy bodywork make the CLS, particularly in buff AMG trim, look like a Mercedes from 2035.
Thanks to an old friend in Vancouver, I had the opportunity to spend 20 minutes behind the wheel of the fastest (4.4 seconds to 60) and most expensive (~CDN$115,000) car I’ve yet piloted. I was only hoping for a passenger ride, but by the time I showed up to his weekend abode at the Four Seasons in Whistler, he’d had a few and was feeling generous. Hell to the yes.
He tossed me the key fob, I nestled into the driver’s throne, adjusted my seat is sixty bajillion ways, and fired up the new Bi-Turbo 5.5L. I twisted a dial by my right hand towards “S” for Sport, thinking this a fine compromise between “C” and “S+”, fumbled with the Atari-inspired gear lever, and gingerly backed out of the dimly-lit parkade stall.
“We are friends and I do like to pass the day with you in serious and inconsequential chatter. I wouldn’t mind washing up beside you, dusting beside you, reading the back half of the paper while you read the front. We are friends and I would miss you, do miss you and think of you very often.”
- Jeanette Winterson
I was introverted growing up. A loner, even. I didn’t seek the company of others; I didn’t need them to be content. I played soccer and acted in plays, group activities encouraged by my parents, but I was rarely happier than when alone with my Lego. I was quite happy to construct my own world, unsatisfied with the uncertain one around me.
As you can surely gather, I didn’t make friends easily, mainly because I didn’t understand what others were thinking. Others were confusing. At the time, I didn’t understand that my actions and words could impact other people’s emotions. I simply wasn’t born with that intuition. Is it any wonder I was picked on?
I moved schools frequently growing up; always ready to move to greener pastures. Unattached was I to anyone in particular. I just switched schools whenever I wanted to try a new program. I attended schools for French Immersion, the visual and performing arts, self-paced learning, before finally completing my grade school education at a more academic institution replete with kids as intent on post-secondary as I was. I never kept in contact with my friends from previous schools. I just happily moved on.
When I entered University, hopeful of finally meeting intellectual equals, I had only a handful of people I was even moderately close with, but by then I’d gotten better at meeting new people. I’d certainly done it enough. Meeting new people wasn’t that tough, I learned, it just required some persistence. This persistence would be key to befriending one girl in particular. She was a tough nut to crack, but I eventually broke through. This girl would soon become the best friend I ever had. In fact, she’s still my best friend.
Over the next 6 years, this girl would teach me many things, but arguably the most important was how and why my actions and words impact other people’s emotions. It wasn’t easy for me to understand, but she patiently and logically worked me through this complex and baffling facet of the human condition. This invaluable lesson is perhaps the greatest gift she’s ever given me, after her friendship, of course.
By Peter Dushenski
Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT’S relativity.
Einstein’s famous quote is perhaps more familiar than his scientific theories. It’s certainly more digestible. His contributions to physics, and by extension philosophy, are so out there that they’re tough to swallow even today, a century on. Time dilation has to be the mother of them all. It states that time and therefore reality are relative to the observer.
It also turns out that whether reality is being experienced at speeds approaching that of light or just in terms of the very earthly notion of luxury, the theory holds true. It’s all relative. If you’re reading this on your MacBook Air at the hippest new Third Wave coffee shop, then your idea of luxury is very different from the 585 million Sub-Saharan Africans without electricity. See? Relevant and gratitude-inducing.
So if we agree that luxuries are relative, it seems natural to wonder how three of GM’s most notable luxury brands compare, relatively speaking. Not only to each other, but to their notable competition. So let’s take a look at two of the newest, most prominent, and successful offerings from The General: the 2012 Buick Regal eAssist and the 2012 Cadillac SRX Premium Collection AWD, to see how they match up with an odd Swedo-luxury wagon of yesteryear: the 2008 Saab 9-5 2.3t Wagon.
This is far from a “fair” comparison – as if the world were ever fair – the spread in price, utility, and features is significant if not silly, but it’ll still be interesting to see how a car made in Sweden, a car made in Canada (but previously in Germany), and a car made in Michigan compare in terms of luxury, particularly since they all come from the same parent company.
Disclaimer: This is a very CarEnvy-esque test.
By Peter Dushenski
One of epistemologist Karl Popper’s (above) most valuable contributions to the philosophy of science was the notion that a theory can never actually be proven true – only false – and that this quality, what he termed falsifiability, is the single defining mark of any theory.
Popper, a former Professor at the London School of Economics, believed that one of the fundamental issues with the scientific method is the confirmation bias: that more evidence in favour of a statement or theory may increase our confidence in it, but does not prove it in any meaningful way. In other words, no matter how many times a theory is supported, one piece of contrary evidence is sufficient, as well as necessary, to unravel the whole idea; that is, to falsify it. Take the statement “All swans are white”, for example. Observing more white swans increases our confidence that the statement is true, but the observation of a single black swan, such as those seen in Australia, falsifies the statement.
This is a powerful idea and one of the most important notions of 20th century philosophy. Essentially, what we all learned in elementary school science class, that we develop a hypothesis and then conduct an experiment to either confirm or contradict the hypothesis is erroneous. We can never fully prove a hypothesis of the observable world, but we can most certainly falsify it.
Which brings us to both of today’s test vehicles. In one corner we have the stalwart of “reliability”, from the brand that practically coined the term in the modern era, the Toyota Tacoma. In the other corner we have the fresh-faced Kia Rio5, one of many in a recent string of thoroughly revamped products from the emergent manufacturer, one with little history of “reliability” to speak of.
“Why on earth did my parents have to move here? There’s never enough goddam parking.” Gabriel muttered to himself coldly.
It was a wintery Sunday night in mid-January and Gabriel was heading to his parents’ place for dinner. His parents had just moved downtown not two weeks prior, having finally succumbed to the allure of the empty nest lifestyle and all that downtown Toronto had to offer. This, then, was to be Gabriel’s new “home”. Although the 25-year-old had never spent a night there in his life and probably never would, he knew that wherever his parents lived was his true home – everywhere else was just a lithe branch extending from the central tree trunk.
His parents’ new place was smack-dab in the middle of downtown TO and parking was nigh on impossible. Gabriel’s Law, however, ensures that anything that can go right will go right. So it just so happened that he was borrowing his roommate’s new Fiat 500 and that the little Italian runabout could fit in spaces normally reserved for strollers and tricycles; it’s smaller even than a snowflake. After a couple of fruitless loops around the block, a snug spot between a Dodge Journey and a Mitsubishi Lancer appeared right in front of his parents’ 20-storey tower as if by divine decree. Anything other than this back-up-sensor-equipped 500 would’ve kept driving in circles for another 30 minutes – even a Mini – but the Fiat just slid in like pesto linguini gliding into a contented mouth. Gabriel even pulled off the tight parallel park on his first try. Appropriately smug with his wheel-twirling achievement, Marco hopped out of the charming two-door, flicked the door shut behind him, locked the doors to the sound of the Fiat’s cheery horn, and buzzed up to #2000: the penthouse, and his new home.
The 2011 Explorer takes an entirely different tack for Ford, certainly compared to its tire-exploding predecessors, so I’m going to take a similarly atypical approach with this review. It’s a limerick.
Part 1: Catabolizing designs, The Three Schools of Car Design, Art Deco, and the 2011 Lincoln MKX can be found here.
Locomotives trains, as a form of transport, had their glory days when my maternal grandparents were young children. Not that their jet-black hair ever rustled in the passenger train’s open window. No, they missed the steam-powered magnificence along with the rest of their youth. In Axis-controlled Romania, trains were avoided, lest they be the kind with no return trip.
Life couldn’t have been more different in the sanguine land of opportunity that was America. In the early 1930’s, the stock markets took a beating the likes of which weren’t seen again until 2008. Still, American men and women had their pride – they were still living in the greatest country on earth and making sure that everyone else knew it. This meant constructing grand physical monuments and advancing technology to its limits wherever possible. The train system was no exception. Making it from New York to Chicago in 16 hours, less than 800 miles, was a monumental accomplishment for the rail system, or any system for that matter. The car wasn’t mature enough as a technology to accomplish the trip with anything resembling reliability. The mighty steam engine, on the other hand, averaged speeds of 50 mph, or 81 kph. This was a lofty industrial design problem, to be sure.