Haste to the wedding...

No, I'm not talking about the instrumental song by the Corrs of the same title but an incident that happened o me yesterday. As the title of this post suggest, I was rushing to a wedding ceremony, not too far from my home. There was heavy traffic at the junction just outside my housing area when my slight traffic incident occured. I was about to get into the right lane of a 2 lane street. The car infront of me was indicating to do the same thing. When the coast was clear I quickly drove to the right lane but unfortunately the car in front of me didnt to the same thing and by the time I looked in front it was too late and I have driven into the back of a black Myvi!! :s . Fortunately for me, It wasn't very fast as I was accelerating from stand still and the distance between us wasn't that far so the impact left the other car with minor scratches that will buff out with some polish. At that time I wasn't too concerned with my car and only focused on the other car. At first glance it looked like it was just a few scratches on the bumper and the bumper had come out of it's housing. We exchanged numbers and said that we would contact eachother if we had issues pending after this. I must admitt that I was rather shaken at that point but my speach was normal but my hands were shaking at that time. funny huh? uncontrolable body movement.

Anyways, I quickly went to the wedding and quickly got back home to assess the damage in greater detail. Firstly, I took a picture of the front end that experienced the brunt of the impact:

Upon closer inspection, I couls see that the bodypanel wasn't flush and that it hs bent abit causing the bodypanel gaps to be uneven. So I proceeded on to remove the bumper and headlight assembly to see what happened underneath the "skin".

The main chasis was not affected as expected as it is the main structure of the car and is made to withstand and absorb far greater impact. The problem is that the collision happened at an offset and the bumper, headlight and front body panel were all connected by small U-section pieces of metal. The main U-section assembly is below: Both headlight and front left bodypanel is attached to this assembly. As you can see, it has been pushed to the back. It should be as square angles to the vertical. This has caused the bodypanel to buckle a little.

 The buckle has caused a gap in the bodypanel and the wheel arch mud guard as indicated by the daylight you can see here. You shouldn't be able to see any daylight here, well, not this much.

As you can see also, the bodypanel gap has increased ner the light assembly (left pic). The gap should be narrower and even like the right body panel gap (on the right).

 Lucky for me, that bent section is easily un-bent by pulling it forwards in the opposite direction of the impact. I saw this done on TV where by there was a progam on Discovery turbo I used to watch whereby they'd buy second hand cars in not so good condition, repair them and sell them off at a discounted price. How they repaired bend bodypanels was by pulling the bodypanel in the opposite direction of the impact by way of a hydraulic ram. Ofcourse I don't that such a contraption so for me it was just good old elbow grease... The results were quite satisfactory. Panel gaps narrower, as they should be.

The next step was to sraighten the twisted headlamp anchor(the black crossmember you see behind the bumper). This was abt tricky as it was twisted, not bent... After a bit of fiddling and alot of elbow grease, I managed to get it back into shape... roughly...

 On to the bumper itself, the mounting screw hole of the bumper sheered off almost completely but with the help of a 2 part epoxy glue I managed to glue it back together. Total damage to the wallet so far:  RM7.90 for the glue.

Lastly I had to polish the scatches away with some scratch removing polish. Most of it went away with some hard work but the point where the bumpe met the hard chassis behind it had quite a big dent and on that bit the paint had chipped off alltogether (left pic below). For that I had to use my touch up paint which is the exact same colour (supposedly) as the original paint. The result is pretty good (right pic below) and upon quick inspection I'd say that most people wouldn't have noticed that there ever was an accident...;)

 This morning when I arrived at the office I took another pic just to be sure that it all looks like new again. Alhamdulillah, I was lucky I wasn't hurt and there wasn't anything damaged with the car that I couldn't repair myself. Moral of the story: Whenever you're in a rush, calm down and never try any short cuts in road saftey. It's during these times when you are rushing that accidents happen. Never let your guard down even when driving to nearby places and for muslims, please recite the doa for boarding vehicles regardless of the journey distance. InsyaAllah, we will be protected from little mishaps like this or much more serious accidents nauzubillah...Okay then, be safe on the roads my dear readers.

The scam that is MLMs....

I've always had reservations about MLMs (multi-level marketing). Their products have always been over priced for no particularly logical reason. Well, It didn't and still doesn't make sense to me. Why? There have never been any concrete peer reviewed scientific papers backing any of the impossibly unrealistic claims claimed by these products.

Here's what Wikipedia says about MLM
Multi-level marketing (MLM) is a marketing strategy in which the sales force is compensated not only for sales they personally generate, but also for the sales of others they recruit, creating a downline of distributors and a hierarchy of multiple levels of compensation.[1] Other terms for MLM include network marketing,[2][3][4] pyramid selling,[5][6][7][8][9] and referral marketing.[10]
Most commonly, the salespeople are expected to sell products directly to consumers by means of relationship referrals and word of mouth marketing.[1] Some people equate MLM with direct selling, although MLM is only one type of direct selling.[1][2][11]
MLM companies have been a frequent subject of criticism as well as the target of lawsuits. Criticism has focused on their similarity to illegal pyramid schemes, price-fixing of products, high initial start-up costs, emphasis on recruitment of lower-tiered salespeople over actual sales, encouraging if not requiring salespeople to purchase and use the company's products, potential exploitation of personal relationships which are used as new sales and recruiting targets, complex and sometimes exaggerated compensation schemes, and cult-like techniques which some groups use to enhance their members' enthusiasm and devotion.[10][12] Not all MLM companies operate the same way, and MLM groups have persistently denied that their techniques are anything but legitimate business practices.[citation needed]
In contrast to MLM is single-level marketing. In single-level marketing, the salesperson is rewarded for selling the product, but not for recruiting or sponsoring other salespeople.[13]
Pyramid schemes in everyday society?
Courtesy of http://www.passive-income-passion.com/pyramid-scheme.html

Last week however, I was introduced to this blog written by Aidid Mu'aiddib, ironically called "Aididleaks". I must warn you guys however that the language is pretty harsh. It really shows how the author feels for the topic. His articles are very well researched and have all the info to back his claims. Its difficult to see how these MLM people can refute these allegations let alone sleep well at night knowing that they are supporting this enterprise.

The unsustainable pyramid 
Courtesy of http://money.howstuffworks.com/pyramid-scheme.htm/printable

Whatever it is, the take away about all this is we must always be conscious of where our income comes from and how we get that income. Something that is halal can become haram if obtained by unscrupulous means. Profiteering is also not alowed in Islam. Everything must be bought and sold at market price. Selling products with misleading claims that are not substantiated is akin to lying on weighing goods. Not good. The high price of these MLM goods is required to maintain the "uplines" and "downlines" of the MLM system. The main attraction of these schemes is to become rich, quickly. Greed. Better not feed greed with the promise of easy money. Anyways, check out the article on Hai-O and on other MLM related issues including medical doctors abusing their Dr title to endorse products that they themselves have no proof of their health claims, MLM practitioners using religion to make certain products haram thus making their products the better, halal choice and many more can be found on his blog here. I must warn you though, you have to forgive his language. It is very harsh, but the facts are all there. He really feels very strongly about this topic. You have been warned.

Just as a reminder to myself and others:
The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns "Not all multilevel marketing plans are legitimate. Some are pyramid schemes. It’s best not to get involved in plans where the money you make is based primarily on the number of distributors you recruit and your sales to them, rather than on your sales to people outside the plan who intend to use the products."[33] and states that research is your best tool and gives eight steps to follow:
  1. Find — and study — the company’s track record.
  2. Learn about the product
  3. Ask questions
  4. Understand any restrictions
  5. Talk to other distributors (beware shills)
  6. Consider using a friend or adviser as a neutral sounding board or for a gut check.
  7. Take your time.
  8. Think about whether this plan suits your talents and goals[33]

Group Lotus is sole owner of “Lotus” name in F1!

So, the verdict is out. For those who follow my blog you can find the previous post I had made in January here. Basically, Justice Peter Smith has given his verdict at the British High Court and declared that Group Lotus has the right to use the name “Lotus” on its own within Formula 1. Group Lotus, which is title sponsor of Lotus Renault GP (LRGP), is entitled to race in the historic black and gold livery, which is currently used by LRGP.
The above concerns however concern the name “Lotus”. Team Lotus still has the right to continue to race in Formula 1 under the name “Team Lotus” with the “Team” in it. Basically, things go on as they are. The entire transcript of the decision can be read here.

 Here's what Danny Tan of Paultan.org has to say about it:

BREAKING: Group Lotus is sole owner of “Lotus” name in F1, but Team Lotus can still race under its present name

The verdict is out. Justice Peter Smith has given his verdict at the British High Court and declared that Group Lotus has the right to use the name “Lotus” on its own within Formula 1. Group Lotus, which is title sponsor of Lotus Renault GP, is entitled to race in the historic black and gold livery, which is currently used by LRGP.
The judge found that the Proton subsidiary has goodwill associated with the name “Lotus” in Formula 1 and is free to compete in the sport under that name using the Lotus roundel. Also, Group Lotus trade mark registrations are unaffected and Group Lotus has the right to use the Lotus marque on cars for road use.
The judge also decided that 1Malaysia Racing Team Sdn Bhd, the owners of Team Lotus, is in breach of the Licence granted to them by Group Lotus to race in F1 under the name Lotus Racing (the name it used last year) and has awarded Group Lotus damages in respect of that breach.
However, the above concerns the name “Lotus”. Team Lotus has the right to continue to race in Formula 1 under the name “Team Lotus” with the “Team” in it. Basically, things go on as they are. The entire transcript of the decision can be read here.
Group Lotus’ response is that they’re concerned that this aspect of the Judgment will cause confusion in the eyes of spectators and the wider public. Group Lotus is seeking leave to appeal so that the right to use the Lotus brand in Formula 1 is clarified once and for all in the interests of the sport and the fans. Group Lotus and Proton are confident of success on appeal.
Sarah Price, Head of Legal at Group Lotus said: “Group Lotus is pleased that its right to race under the Lotus name in F1 has been upheld and that the Defendants’ attempts to stop that have failed.
“The on-going dispute with Team Lotus and associated companies has been a cause for concern for all at Group Lotus. Despite the detailed judgment there are issues which still require clarification and we remain committed to obtaining this much needed clarity for the many fans of the Lotus marque – we are extremely grateful for their continued support. The decision to appeal has not been taken lightly.”
Team Lotus, on the other hand, is naturally delighted at the Judgement. Team Principal Tony Fernandes declared on behalf of fellow shareholders Kamarudin Meranun and SM Nasarudin. “We are all pleased that it has been clarified that we are the rightful owners of Team Lotus. We have always been confident that the factual evidence we presented would lead to this decision and today’s judgment confirms that belief,” he said
“We are of course disappointed about the decision that Group Lotus was entitled to end the our licence agreement in 2010. We entered into that contract on the basis that we were beginning a long-term partnership with Group Lotus but unfortunately they then used technical breaches of the merchandising pre-notification process to bring the licence and our partnership to an end.
“However, my fellow shareholders and I are firm believers that when one door closes another door opens. In the early days of our agreement we realised its termination was inevitable and as events have unfolded the end of the licence has proved positive for us, with many new avenues being opened up as a result.

“We wanted to develop a long-term relationship with Group Lotus and help them sell more cars around the world but that door closed and now we are delighted that we can turn our attention to ensuring success for Caterham Cars on the road and Team Lotus on track. These are two very exciting brands and their future development, bringing these two iconic brands together under the Caterham Team Lotus umbrella, will see us introduce new Caterham cars and a range of new Team Lotus brands into the global marketplace.
“Now our main aim is to build on the solid foundations that has made Caterham Cars the model for how to run a profitable contemporary car company and add more history to the incredible story of Team Lotus over the coming months and years and with the people, spirit, passion and determination we have in both businesses we know that marks the next stage in our incredible story,” the statement read.
However, there’s one statement that we don’t fully understand. It was mentioned in Group Lotus’ press statement that “Team Lotus Ventures Limited’s trade mark registrations in the name of Team Lotus are cancelled as a result of non-use”. Could this mean that they can race under the name, but not market/commercialise it?

Tesla vs Top Gear: Andy Wilman on our current legal action

If you follow top gear then you should know that they've recently been sued by electric car manufacturer Tesla for allegedly "rigging" their test piece on their Tesla electric sports car and claiming Top Gear said false things about their car. More about the whole fiasco in the link here.

Well, Andy Wilman, the Executive Producer of Top Gear has responded quite well to these allegations, his response quite witty and measured. Allot of us tend to get emotional whenever anybody says something that's not the same as their own opinions, and end up writing or saying stuff they regret later. This however is a very good read. Enjoy... 
Posted by Andy Wilman
12:29 pm on Saturday April 2, 2011

You may know that Tesla has issued a writ against Top Gear for defamation and malicious falsehood over the road test that we broadcast of the Tesla Roadster in December 2008. The normal procedure for the BBC in a legal case is to acknowledge receipt of the other party’s claim, and then say no more and get on with preparing its defence for court.

Tesla, however, doesn’t seem content to wait for the legal eagles to settle matters. On the contrary, it’s been very busy promoting its side of the argument through the media. Why even last night the Top Gear office accidentally received an email sent from a Public Relations firm to The One Show, asking if it would like to have the Tesla spokesperson on their programme to talk about the case. It says: “PHA Media represent Tesla and this could make for a fantastic interview.” And the PHA man’s not finished there. “The presenters could have some fun with this.” He adds. “Matt and Alex could even take the Tesla for a spin and test it out, reaffirming its virtues?” Plenty of respect for editorial independence in that last line there and I wish the chaps from PHA Media all the best in their crusade.

However, back to Top Gear, and yes, normally we would follow the pre-legal etiquette of keeping schtum until we get our day in court, but since the other side are being quite noisy with their views on how we conduct ourselves, I just would like to point out one or two things to Top Gear viewers:

1. We never said that the Tesla’s true range is only 55 miles, as opposed to their own claim of 211, or that it had actually ran out of charge. In the film our actual words were: “We calculated that on our track it would run out after 55 miles”. The first point here is that the track is where we do our tests of sports cars and supercars, as has happened ever since Top Gear existed. This is where cars are driven fast and hard, and since Tesla calls its roadster “The Supercar. Redefined.” it seemed pretty logical to us that the right test was a track test. The second point is that the figure of 55 miles came not from our heads, but from Tesla’s boffins in California. They looked at the data from that car and calculated that, driven hard on our track, it would have a range of 55 miles.

2. We never said that the Tesla was completely immobilized as a result of the motor overheating. We said the car had “reduced power”. This was true.

3. Tesla claims we were lying when we said the brakes were “broken”. They now say that all that had happened was that the fuse to the vacuum pump had failed, which meant that the brake just had to be pushed down much harder than usual. Well – to my mind, if the brakes are broken, then they’re broken, and if this happened to your car, you’d take it to the garage to get it fixed. Odd it seems so trivial to Tesla now, because on the day of filming they insisted on repairing the fuse before we could carry on driving the car.

The above points will be argued over in the near future by brainy people wearing wigs, but in a layman’s nutshell, this is where we stand on the matter. Before I finish though, I must clear up one important issue: scripting. It’s alleged by Tesla that on the day of filming one of their employees caught sight of a script that had been written, before the car had even been driven, already containing the verdict that in the “real world” the Tesla doesn’t work. This, they say, proves our guilt, because we’d condemned the car in advance. May I just say in reply:

a) The truth is, Top Gear had already driven the car prior to filming, to enable us to form a view on it in advance

b) Our primary reasoning behind the verdict had nothing to do with how the Tesla performed; our conclusion was based mainly on the fact that it costs three times more than the petrol sports car upon which it’s based. It takes a long time to recharge, so you can’t use it as easily for the carefree motoring journeys that are a prerequisite of sports car driving. You can actually reach that conclusion without driving the car. As it happens, when it did come to the subjective area of how the car drove on the track, we were full of praise for its performance and handling.

c) Just so you understand there’s nothing devious going on, you need to know how this filming business works. When you film a car review, the reviewer is only the tip of the iceberg. Behind the lens is a film crew, and only a day’s worth of light to shoot the eight minute film. This means we have to prepare in advance a treatment – a rough draft of a script so that the director and film crew can get to work right away, knowing what shots they will need to capture. It will contain the facts about a car, and what we think of its looks and so on, but how well the car actually drives is added on the day. If we’ve driven it ahead of filming, as we do with most cars, we will also have an idea how it feels to drive. But, and this is crucial, as we uncover fresh information about a car whilst filming it, it is entirely normal for the treatment to be modified as the day unfolds. Jeremy is always tweaking the scripts to reflect what his driving experience has actually been on the day.

There you go. I’ve said my bit, and now we’ll hopefully shut up and prepare for our day in court.

PS: As this is going through the courts right now, we’re afraid we’ve had to turn off comments on this one, but we wanted to let you all know how we see it.

Andy Wilman is the Executive Producer of Top Gear

I knew Bin Laden

Well, not really but that is the title of a document series on Al-Jazeera English. I've only watched the first episode, it is a 2 parter. This quite a good document to get to know the late Al-Qaeda leader. Enjoy.

Part one:

Part two:

The Promise

Sorry for being so bad at updating the blog recently. Today (well actually yesterday) I watched this TV series that I felt everyone who cares about Palestine should watch. The mini series if called "The Promise" and I first got to know about it from this Al-Jazeera show called "The fabulous picture show". It is a program about cinema that is not Hollywood... hehehe... Basically at the beginning of the show they will screen a particular show to a select audience. After they've seen the screening, in this instance all 4 episodes of "The Promise" they will get the audience back and they will have a talk show with the director of the film/series/documentary. That's the interesting bit. I love witty people that do not get emotional even when people are obviously at great odds with their views. A trait missing from a lot of people in this region unfortunately.

The full episode on "The Promise" can be viewed below:

If you would rather skip to the best bits, the interview bits then you can go straight on to watch this:

What is "The Promise" about and why is it even called The Promise? Well, The Promise is a story of a british teenaged girls discovery of the whole Palastinian-Jewish/Israeli conflict through her own adventure as she reads her grandfather's diary and follows the events written in her grandfather's diary as he experienced it. Her father used to serve in the British army that occupied Palastine during the British mandate period (1922-1948).

This film give a very balanced account of things and does not give you any conclusions rather it lets you come up with your own conclusions. What I like most about it is how the director immerses us in the characters Len (the grandfather) and Erin (the heroine) and lets us discover things as they characters discover and experience things for themselves. It is interesting how immersed Erin gets in her grandfather's diary to the point that she believed that her grandfather is still that young Sergent she reads in the diary.   

The film also shows us the various factions and segments of society, both Israeli and Palastinians and show us that all are very human and that the war has de-humanised people and "messes with their minds". It breaks stereotypes on both sides of the conflict of "All Palastinians are terrorists" and "All Israelis are heartless, cruel, land grabbing occupiers" That is certainly not the case and this film puts that into perspective. There are little conflicts in the film that shows us how the on going conflict has a toll on the younger generation of Israelis who do not share the same hardship and persecution of their Nazi survivor Zionist parents and grand parents.

All in all it's the perfect viewing for those wanting to know more about the founding of Israel and ehat the Palastinians call the Nakba, which happened to be last Sunday by the way if you didn't know. Anyways, a must watch - highly recommended. Go find it on the web!! As what The Promise is in this film, that you will have to discover yourself! Enjoy!

More info on the show can be read at the Wikipedia page here.