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Mummies And Bunnies Trash

It has been a while since we have taken in the Trash and the natives are restless. So, for yer Easter pleasure, we have a special Mummies and Bunnies edition of Trash. The bunnies, well, they are the official mascot of the holiday weekend of course, and they are absolutely necessary to go down the rabbit holes we have been lately in search of some semblance of our Constitutional rule of law. The Mummies, well, they are a relatively new discovery to me and they kind of fit in with the whole buried alive torture thing. Actually, they are officially known as Here Come The Mummies, and they are one kick ass live act. I have included two songs for your listening pleasure, one live and the other from a live set in a Chicago studio for a radio/TeeVee simulcast show. Enjoy.

Now, for the action, we start off with March April Madness Final Four. The first semifinal game pits the Butler Bulldogs against the Mighty Michigan State Spartans. This seems like a mismatch, but don’t sell Butler short, they are a perennial tournament team, well coached by Brad Stevens, who looks baby faced enough to be one of the players, but has put his team in the tournament all three years he has been head coach. The Bulldogs have some stud players too, led by Gordon Hayward and they play tenacious and disciplined team defense. On the other side stands Tom Izzo and the Spartans who were in the Final Four Championship Game last year, losing to Carolina, and are in the Final Four for the sixth time in the last twelve years. Izzo knows how to coach em up and the Spartans have really gelled in the tournament. It is telling that when their star guard, Kalin Lucas, went down with an achilles in the second round, you would think they were done. Nuh uh, and they win close games consistently. This is in Butler’s hometown, Indianapolis, so they have that going for them (Butler plays their home games just down the road in Hinkle Fieldhouse, a National Historic Register listed building and literally the home of Hoosiers, the real life team the movie is based on and the filming location for the movie). The Spartans are favored by a point; I call it a tossup. Thankfully, there is no riot in Michigan yet!

The second game has Huggy Bear’s West Virginia Mountaineers taking on the Dookies. Coach K and Duke are not newbies, although this particular team has never smelled the rarified air of the Final Four. West Virginia has been a top flite program for several years too, dating back to when they had a different coach that those Wolvereenies in Ann Arbor stole (Big Blue takes all of the Mountaineers’ coaches sooner or later apparently). Another solid and close matchup with the Dookies favored by two. I can see that, Duke looks to have too much speed and shooting and should prevail.

Formula One: As Petro noted, this weekend is the Malaysian Grand Prix. Malaysia is famous for the wet, there is always rain during GP week, and this year looks no different. That’s okay as the wet makes for great Grand Prix racing, and they do not wimp out and stop like those overhyped sissies that drive in circles. Actually rain is good, because otherwise Kuala Lumpur is a fast track with a lot of straights and not great overtaking opportunities. Hamilton, Vettel, Button and Schumacher were fast in practice. The first two races were won by former World Champions, Bahrain by Fernando Alonso and Down Under by Jenson Button. Is it time for Schumi to round into winning form? Nobody roots for Lewis Hamilton anymore, in fact the Aussies actually literally called him a dickhead! Gotta love the Oz. Qualifying is Saturday morning at 4 am Eastern and the race goes off Sunday morning 4 am Eastern; both on Speed TV.

Trashed: Formula One No Longer Made In Japan

As you all might know, we here at Emptywheel are car people. And one annoying thread ran common as a persistent undercurrent through all of our auto and auto bailout coverage over the last year, and that was how pitiful and incompetent the American marques were, how much they deserved their fate and how awesome the Japanese brands, especially Toyota and Honda, were in comparison. This was incredibly disturbing because, as rudimentary as rolling iron seems on the surface, the automotive industry is incredibly complex and vertically integrated; it simply is not amenable to to simplisms and truisms that were bandied about in those tumultuous days.

Sadly, it is a meme that persists even today in spite of the fact that all manufacturers, very much including those in Japan, are sucking air and taking on water. And, no, their cars are not that much better either, they have quality and safety problems too.

For all of its ballyhooed efficiency, quality control and supposed relative superiority, the Japanese auto industry always was built on the shoulders and technology of the American manufacturers; they wanted the sales sector of the Americans and the aura of the Europeans. Since the Japanese marques first started their meteoric rise in prominence in the 70s, the holy grail for them was to compete and win on the highest stage in the world. Formula One. But the wake of the global financial meltdown has trashed their fortunes, and their goals, every bit as hard as it pounded the American car business. The pursuit of the holy grail is over, first for Honda last December, and now for Toyota:

Toyota announced Wednesday that it would give up its prized Formula One racing team in an effort to slash costs, refocus the company on green cars and turn a profit amid continued weakness in the auto sector.

Toyota, the world’s biggest automaker, joins a growing exodus of Japanese auto companies from racing, highlighting the woes facing the country’s once cash-rich manufacturers. Honda pulled out of Formula One racing in December, while the tire-maker Bridgestone said this week that it would not renew its exclusive deal to supply tires to the series when its contract expires in 2010.

Subaru and Suzuki pulled out of the World Rally Championship before the season, citing concerns about the global crisis, while Kawasaki is quitting MotoGP, the top motorcycle competition.

“I hope you will understand that based on the current business environment we have no choice but to make this very painful decision,” Akio Toyoda, the Toyota president, said at a news conference in Tokyo on Wednesday. “To all fans, I apologize from the bottom of my heart.”

Akido Toyoda literally cried as he made the announcement. Make no mistake, there was cause; he, Toyota and Japan had all lost face with the withdrawal from Formula One. The Japanese do not take Read more