Archive for January, 2012

Self Serve registers – No way!

January 29th, 2012 No comments

Ok I hate those self serve registers. I can operate them, goodness me that isn’t the issue. Companies like Coles and Woolworths are installing these to shaft workers. six self serve registers need one attendant to help, instead of 6 register operators.

So they pay less wages and yet no reduction in prices. No discount for doing my own scanning. No discount for packing my own bag. So I get no discount and I support making people redundant if I use them. Easy decision, I boycott them. The lone attendant asked me once would you like to use the self serve. My answer was a firm but polite No. I will not use them, I’ll happily wait longer to support a register attendant keeping their job.

Categories: Rant Tags: ,

Commodore falls, how sweet it is.

January 14th, 2012 No comments

Sweet indeed Comrades to see Australia’s own Holden (do people still believe that crap) lose the best selling car crown to the Mazda 3. According to motoring journalist Pedr Davis you probably have to go back to WW1 to a time when a fully imported car was the best seller, before Australian’s fell under Holden’s spell the Austin A40 was the best selling car post WW2 but it was made (read assembled) in Australia.

It is nice to see the Mazda 3 score this win, but the invective that it launched on the Drive website in comments to the article was interesting. Australians are a parochial lot and when poor old Holden lost that top spot well it was like we had lost the Ashes for a century for some. They predicted the death of Holden and pointed out how great the Commodore was.

The reality is the Australian car industry survives on Govt. handouts and has since successive governments removed tariff protection for the industry. The problem is product development cycles take years to get into place but the market can change rapidly. Cars like the Mazda 3 and the Toyota Corolla (yawn) are now much larger than they were years ago. They offer enough space for many people and now oiffer excellent and economical performance. As such the need for big sixes like the Commodore and the Falcon is on the decline.and while people worry about their carbon footprint these big cars look indulgent, whether they are or not perceptions count.

Holden will ride this out, fleet sales will carry the Commodore forward, but Holden know where the future lie, hence why they are now assembling the Daewoo Cruze here and badging it as a Holden. The Cruze, Corolla and 3 will count for a huge chunk of the market.

But what I couldn’t help notice was the almost racist vitriol for Mazda in some of the comments. The latent racism that lurks in some Australians is indeed disturbing. The fear of the others and the latent dislike for other races comes forward when a sacred cow is challenged. When the Nissan GTR beat the Ford of Dick Johnson at Bathurst the bogans booed and the officials penalised the GTR out in future races. And when the Mazda 3 beat the Commodore that sacred Australian car (spare me bogans) well there was more than enough nasty comments about Mazda, tinged with words that belie a darker view of cars from elsewhere.

The Australian automotive industry is important for manufacturing skills but let us never forget it isn’t ours, those plants are owned by three multi-national companies, two American and one Japanese. They aren’t Australia’s plants. And one day the bean counters at those companies will decide they have had enough and move manufacture to some cheap country. Then what will Australians do when they can no longer cling to Holden like some security blanket?

So the anger directed at Mazda isn’t fair they don’t pretend to be Australian, they are Japanese made and proud of it. We have less to worry about from them than the damage Holden, Ford and Toyota will reap when they pull up stumps and leave. And it won’t be Mazda’s fault cause they made a car people liked. It is the “Australian” trio for not really caring about Australian manufacturing.

To declare bias in this rant, yes I happily contributed to Mazda 3’s sales victory in 2011, twice.

Categories: Cars Tags: , , ,

Then there were two Mazdas

January 7th, 2012 No comments

Well with great delight the family is now GM free. Yes in moves initiated a while back we now no longer own our Holden (read Opel) Barina, and instead own a second Mazda 3 Diesel. Yes I can hear you question the logic behind buying a second one but many things lead to a decision, some like a good deal can’t be predicted. But the thing that can be predicted is that if a car is damn good, owning a second one isn’t that hard to justify.

Our Mazda 3 Diesel twins

The Mazda 3 is the best selling car in Australia. If you take any fleet sales out, so that means people parting with their own money the Mazda 3 clears the Holden Commodore and the Toyota Corolla by a clear margin. It is easy to see why, they are not an unattractive car, they have plenty of room for a car their size, they have nimble handling and are fun to drive, they are Japanese so immediately more reliable than anything comparable care out of Europe, and once again the Japanese heritage means repairs tend to be cheaper than rival Euro brands.

Previously the family owned a Holden Astra and a Holden Barina, and after over 10 years of ownership it is hard to recommend anything from the Opel (let’s be honest the only thing Holden on these were the badges) stable, in fact I think the reliability matches what I expect of anything from the GM stable. While both cars performed well with spirited engines and good handling, they were maintenance hogs, so much so that I often suspected Alfa Romeo was responsible for parts of their design. Little faults cost a lot to repair but in the Barina’s case major flaws occurred that cost big money. Stuff like that shatters your faith in a car and then you want it gone. So my experience says anything Holden is bad news, they might not have made it themselves but they sourced it, promoted it and then maintained it, so to them I say your cars are crap.

And let me be clear Ford is no better, like Holden they have dished up average cars here in Australia for years and equally have imported cars from Europe that are underwhelming in terms of reliability. My mother owned a Ford Mondeo and after her experiences no thinking person could buy a Euro Ford and not expect a tale of woe.

So why diesel I hear you ask. Both cars use less fuel than the Barina did yet they go like the clappers. The days of diesels being slow is long gone. The Mazda can do 0-100 km/h in around 8-8.5 seconds which isn’t too bad, but while doing that they use very little fuel compared to a comparable performer. But it is in rolling acceleration they excel, doing 70 km/h in third gear the car is pulling around 2400 rpm, see a gap in the traffic, floor it and in a flash you are pulling 100 km/h and braking to avoid a ticket. Going up the Mt Ousley out of Wollongong the diesel motor easily propels it past the speed limit on the climb and under the bridge in 5th gear you are pulling speeds that would see your licence suspended, and it can comfortably keep accelerating.

The reason for this massive performance is torque and a prodigious amount of it. Peak torque is 360 Nm delivered from 1800-2600 rpm. To put that in perspective that is 10 Nm more than a 3.6 L Commodore, it is also 23 Nm than the V6 Toyota Kluger. Now both these cars eclipse the Mazda’s power figure of only 110 kW but as many have said, “Power is for show, torque is for go”. That massive torque that the Mazda diesel has means massive surging performance at the usable part of the rev range. There is no need to rev it’s head off it is flying before then. All this performance in the bottom end leads to lots of fun and it is fun that still sips very little fuel.

So now owning and driving two Mazda 3s it is easy to see how the Mazda 3 is the first imported car since WWI to become the best selling car in Australia. Doubly nice to see a GM product lose the top spot.

Categories: Cars Tags: , , ,

Safari – For the closet psychopath

January 4th, 2012 No comments

Last night I had the displeasure of watching Richard E. Grant and his The History of Safari programme on ABC. Well what does one say when the vitriol fills their mouth? I mean how can any thinking person who respects life enjoy seeing any animal killed for sport? Whether it is historical footage or not, seeing a black rhino, a highly endangered animal, downed in black and white film just fills me with rage.

I’m no vegetarian (except when my gall bladder demanded it) I eat meat, like any omnivorous animal, like a lion or leopard eats meat I understand that animals eating others is part of the way of life. Sure our overconsumption is another issue that we need to address as is our massive population. But the killing of magnificent animals like rhinos, leopards, lions, elephants and hippos for sport because they were vermin just sicken me.

Worse still there are psychopathic jerks who still want to go out, get a living animal in their sights and end its life, then admire their kill. I mean at what point does this count as sport:  ride a bike, sure; hit a ball, fine ; shoot at a target, OK. But killing another living thing isn’t sport. Now don’t mention culling animals, that is a whole other argument; massive issues there too. But I can’t help thinking that going out killing animals for pleasure and the “thrill” of the hunt is just one step short of a person killing others for pleasure.

Some will say they are only animals, we are part of the animal world and that argument just plays into the outdated idea that the world is ours to use as we wish. That has got us into a whole lot of environmental issues and seen us wipe out some beautiful creatures, in the name of progress.

I f someone kills a person for pleasure we rightly say they are disturbed and wrong, they are rightly stopped and punished. But in some parts of the world the killing of animals for the joy of it is OK. All I can say if you think it is OK to go out and take another creatures life as a sporting thrill you need to take a long hard look at yourself. No one should deliberately go out to take life for a sport. You are the vermin if you do that.

Categories: Rhino Tags: , , , ,

Latte Art – The Scream?

January 3rd, 2012 3 comments

OK I know I am drawing a longbow, but in the grand tradition of my latte art being like an ink blot test I poured the milk today, looked and thought… The Scream. You be the judge.

The Scream?

Categories: Coffee Tags: , ,