Wednesday Snippets

Still sick. Today’s DVDs – more Seinfeld and perhaps JFK.

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Mini are thinking of building an SUV (can they still call it Mini?) and Cadillac are thinking of a small RWD car for Europe.

This is the world we are living in. Saab, please keep doing what you do best.

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Poor grain crops here in Oz lead to grain-fed stock farmers calling for an end to all biofuel promotion by Government.

The dairy, pork, egg and feedlot beef sectors said the global demand for grain to produce ethanol was causing record grain prices, food inflation and job losses.

With Australia so prone to drought, and climate change likely to lead to even more extremes of temperature and rainfall that would affect grain production, the groups demanded governments abandon any plans to mandate the use of biofuel…..

….Although the 2007-08 harvest will be about 4 million tonnes above 2006-07 production, for the second year in a row Australia is set to produce far less grain than is needed for domestic and export use.

Ethanol industry supporters argue that grain prices have been unrealistically low for decades and the grain shortage is due to the weather.

Hmmmm. Not a strong argument. I guess the weather’s putting the kibosh on current E85 discussions here in Oz and therefore my thoughts of going all BioPower here in Oz as well.

And yes, the top ethanol producer here in Oz uses grain rather than sugarcane to make its ethanol, despite the huge sugar industry in the north.

Thanks Richo

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On Friday I’ll be driving the new 9-3 in Melbourne. On Saturday, I’ll be going to the races and checking out the Saab entertainment. It’s the Spring Carnival in Melbourne, the biggest horse racing season of the year. On Saturday there’s a race called the Saab Quality Stakes, which is the final qualifying race for horses wanting to run in The Melbourne Cup – the biggest race in Australia.

Saab have had a facility at this racing meet for years now and it’s one of their bigger marketing campaigns every year. This year they’re creating an ice bar, complete with a frozen Ice Blue 9-3 convertible (prelim pics here).

And today, there was this in the Melbourne newspapers:

THE folk running the SAAB marquee at Flemington care so much about their guests over-enjoying the ice bar (it’s really made from ice) that they’ve mailed out anti-hangover tablets. The bar, inspired by Sweden’s Ice Hotel, presents some challenges: guests will be given coats made from fluffy duck and feather down — and just as well, because their derrieres may have stuck to the ice stools. Ouch! And staff, clad in coats and beanies, will be rotated every 30 minutes so they don’t freeze.

I’ll be checking it out on Saturday and photos will be forthcoming!

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Seems like a Saab dealership in Iowa burned down in the last day or so.

Fire Meyer Garage is located somewhere near Stacyville. Locals probably know where I’m talking about.

From the photo at the article, though, it doesn’t look like a particularly new dealership. I’m sure there’s more to this than the brief report is telling us.

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I love some of the stories that come out of the Swedish newspapers. They’re always thinking, those Swedes:

A Swedish inventor believes he may have found a solution to the pressing issue of lamp post corrosion – a urinal for dogs.

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8 Comments

  1. Has the gov’t of Australia put high tariffs on imported ethanol to protect domestic ethanol production, like the U.S. gov’t has? If not, why doesn’t Oz follow the lead of Sweden and import their ethanol from Brazil, where it’s made much more efficiently and cheaply from sugarcane?

  2. There is a guy from the United Nations actually calling biofuels a “crime against humanity” His area of concern is “right to food” where increasing costs for staple foods results in increased hunger.

    “He complained of an ill-conceived dash to convert foodstuffs such as maize and sugar into fuel, which created a recipe for disaster.

    It was, he said, a crime against humanity to divert arable land to the production of crops which are then burned for fuel.”

  3. “With Australia so prone to drought, and climate change likely to lead to even more extremes of temperature and rainfall that would affect grain production,”

    That’s the paradox right there, everybody else see it? In other words, due to global warming we don’t want support of a fuel that helps curb global warming.

    Grip, that’s an idea but ideally I think Oz needs its own ethanol industry.

  4. Meyer Garage is in northeast Iowa, very close to the Minnesota border. It is one of the oldest Saab dealers, run by Marty Adams, a fixture in the US Saab community.

    There’s a short thread about this at Saablink:
    http://saablink.net/forum/showthread.php?t=23084

    Bottom line, it was bad but it could have been much worse. (an ’08 9-3 and a Sonett III were saved from the fire, but a couple of other cintage Saabs and a ’52 Jaguar were not)

  5. Ethanol production is hardly the wonderful boon for the environment that is often espoused, particularly when produced from grains that are diverted from food production.

    In Australia, the percentage of arable land is very small. Why waste it on ethanol production when the oil balance for ethanol production is essentially neutral with petroleum production after you take into account the application of petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides, processing and transportation? Oh and don’t let me forget that the growing of crops requires water, which in the world’s driest continent is far from easy to come by.

    In the US, corn production is subsidized heavily as a “social security” benefit to farmers, who are incidentally supported by an extremely strong lobby group. The economics of ethanol production from corn (at least in the US) is dubious at best due to subsidies and the reasons already highlighted above.

    Brazil seems to have been able to make ethanol production work for domestic consumption, but now the US has got on the ethanol bandwagon, but at what cost? Rainforest land? “Dr. Daniel Nepstad of the Woods Hole Research Center said the growing demand for corn ethanol means that more corn and less soy is being planted in the United States. Brazil, the world’s largest producer of soybeans, is more than making up for shortfall, by clearing new land for soy cultivation. While only a fraction of this cultivation currently occurs in the Amazon rainforest, production in neighboring areas like the cerrado grassland helps drive deforestation by displacing small farmers and cattle producers, who then clear rainforest land for subsistence agriculture and pasture.” In addition, destruction of ecosystems which remove carbon from the atmosphere can lead to a net increase in emissions.

    If that is not enough, read this recent article on BBC News:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7065061.stm

    Ethanol produced from renewable “waste” vegetation would be a whole lot better, rather diverting food crops for ethanol production. Ask many middle class Americas, even those from the mid-west who may well support ethanol production, they will agree that food prices have skyrocketed. Not a good thing when bringing up a family on a modest wage. I won’t even mention those people in developing countries or famine areas that also have to buy food on the world market.

    So the alternative? Well that would depend on where you live and the resources available. Take Australia as an example (small, but vivid). Australia is a resource-based economy (that’s why it has been doing so well of late) and while those resources do not include substantial reserves of crude oil, they do include massive reserves of natural gas and petroleum gas. Compressed or liquefied natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas are proven alternatives to petroleum/gasoline and perform reliably with little in the way of disadvantages. With this in mind, why is it not mandatory to have all cars in Australia on the fuel?

    Have you seen the movie “Who Killed the Electric Car?” A fascinating movie that looks at the success and failure of the electric car in the US (particularly California) in the late 1990s, early 2000s. A sizable portion of the movie is dedicated to the GM EV1 and I have to say I didn’t realize it was so successful. Its success ultimately killed it, but for the vast majority of drivers, electric cars are a viable alternative today (if someone would mass produce them).

    While I am impressed by the work the Saab engineers have done with Trionic and turbos for use with ethanol, I definitely cannot agree with a pro-Ethanol stance. The potential for the irrational redistribution of agricultural resources for a quick buck at the cost of affordable food is way too high.

  6. Sorry to hear about Meyer Garage. It’s located in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by cornfields. It’s probably the smallest and quaintest Saab dealership in the US.
    I once took my 9-5 there for 60k service because the price is a fraction of what you pay in Chicago. I learnt about it since I have some relatives located nearby in Elma, Iowa

  7. Aww, sorry to hear ur sick…hope you have seinfeld volume 9 the last one, it is hilarious!!!

    I WANT MY TURBO X!!!!! NOOOOOOOOWWWWW

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