This series, previous installments of which can be seen here and here, is dedicated to the proposition that there is no proposition so seamlessly perfect that I can't find something a trifle askew about it. Not that I'm particularly happy about this, but I'm not one to turn down free blogfodder either.

The new "budget" Maserati.
Maserati, which sold something like six thousand cars last year, about a week's worth of Toyota Camrys, is on a mission to boost their volume to somewhere in the vicinity of fifty thousand, which strikes me as somewhere between quixotic and preposterous. Still, the Trident guys are ramping up with new product, and the volume leader is supposed to be the new Ghibli sedan. This is the second time Maser has exhumed the name of its famed Sixties GT coupe; the first time, in 1992, they gave us a modestly-reworked Biturbo, which died after a five-year run, presumably four years and eleven months of which was spent in the shop. The new Ghibli suffers from two congenital defects. For one, it's a four-door sedan, and smaller than the Quattroporte (which means "four-door") at that. For another, it's the first Maser in quite some time that does not meet the Joe Walsh standard: it will not do 185. Considering the marque's spotty history in the States, you can expect that every single American buyer of the Ghibli Tre will be asked "Will it do 185?" He will shake his head sadly, and the asker, even if his aspirations cannot possibly surpass the level of a 1999 Corolla, will write off Maserati as No Longer Worthy.

Mean time before failure.
Last week I had the HVAC apparatus at the house inspected, since I hadn't done it in a while, and since I can scarcely afford to have it foul up on me with winter on the way. Mostly, the techs seemed concerned that I didn't feel compelled to sit right down and write a check for a whole new system, this one being So Old. "Thirteen years," one of them repeated, as though it were a mantra; "these tend to fail at about thirteen years." Was I supposed to apologize for the 17-year-old compressor? Or for the 23-year-old air handler? "The new ones are much more energy-efficient." I can buy a whole lot of energy for six thousand dollars. And yes, they even brought up the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, which obligates the US to quit producing R22 refrigerant — after 2019. Call me in six years, guys.

The conflation of "health care" and "health insurance."
It should be obvious that these are not the same thing and never can be; if anyone over the age of seven with an IQ above room temperature believes that they are, it has to be due to the ongoing bipartisan effort to suck as much money as possible out of the middle class for the alleged benefit of the poor and the ill-concealed benefit of the wealthy. My own insurance, which costs somewhere on the wrong side of $5,000 a year, makes it possible for my own doctor to collect $30 from me for an office visit and some minor lab work, followed by $47 from the insurance carrier, once he's filled out several tedious forms. You can't tell me he wouldn't be happier doing this for a flat $60; for one thing, he could probably afford to lose one or two staff members who do nothing but tedious forms, and for another, if you're not spending upwards of $417 a month for insurance, you can presumably pop for that extra thirty bucks yourself. And since my knees are giving me no small amount of grief at the moment, let's say I have to have both ACLs repaired. I can give these guys $13,600; or, I can run up a six-figure tab at the local "non-profit" (a legal term, not a financial one) hospital and be responsible for only twenty percent of it, which ultimately will cost me twice as much. Who benefits by this? Hint: not me.

The merging of the two American political parties.
It's no longer Democrats vs Republicans; it's Them vs Us, and the only thing that motivates Them is the intoxicating fragrance of power. I can hardly wait for Them to find out that the source of that delicate scent is Their own lower intestine, and that the air's much better when They pull Their heads out. Then again, I am old and tired and will probably not live long enough to see Them clean up their act; at this point, I'd much rather be ruled (the word "governed" no longer applies in the States) by a couple of cartoon ponies.

More of these as the spirit moves me, and if the spirit is as dispirited as I am these days, that could take a while.

The Vent

#841
  14 October 2013

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