Friday April 28, 2006
Is This The Next Batmobile? Yesterday - on the freeway, I spotted a '60s-era black Checker eight-door Aerobus with a giant (six-foot) aluminum fin sticking up out of the center of the roof! Checker used to call its Aerobus "The Fleet-Proven Station Wagon 'Limo' That's Built-To-Last!" I guess this one did.
Candor Vs. Spin: Commenting on first quarter earnings, GM people high-fived each other crowing about lower than expected losses.
Ford also reported losses but was somber, warning investors not to expect immediate profits - that The Way Forward is a long-term deal.
Kudos to FoMoCo for its honest assessment. Boos to The General for its usual dollop of maniac HHM (Hype and Horse Manure).
Another Reason To Hate Democrats: D.W. Brown was booted from his customary first slot in last weekend's Tacoma's Daffodil Festival Parade after a demotion by security-minded Washington state troopers, who said he was too old to be (Democrat) Gov. Christine Gregoire's driver.
Mr. Brown was prepared to chauffeur Gregoire in his beautifully-restored 1948 Jaguar Mark V convertible, a perfect parade car. "I'm a healthy 81, I tell ya," Brown said. "Wouldn't that be something, to sue the state for age discrimination?"
If Brown can muscle the non-power steering and work the manual shift, in my opinion, he's eminently qualified to drive anyone around. How can a 5 mph parade be a "safety issue"?
War For Oil: Frank J. writes that "We need a war for oil."
He points out that "a real war for oil would follow a much simpler mission plan: We go in, we kill lots of people, and we take all the oil. Also, we would know for certain when the mission is accomplished; if we have all the oil, we're done."
And: "Would it just be easier to drive a hybrid instead of having all this killing? No, it wouldn't, because hybrids are gay. If our military can't keep us from being forced to drive gay little cars, then what exactly are all these gasoline taxes going towards? You better not tell me poor people, because I did not get an SUV to help the poor."
"... Will America stealing all the oil in the Middle East anger the people there? Of course, but who cares. Since we'll have all their oil, they won't have any gasoline to get near us. What are they going to do? Fill a truck with bombs, put it in neutral, and push it towards us?"
In the 'comments' section, Master Shake offers this suggestion, "(S)houldn't we just go after Canada's oil? They're nearby, wimpy, and if we attack Quebec it will be almost as satisfying as attacking France. Just think of the parade-like atmosphere with all of those white flags waving in the air."
More Reasons Why We Should Take Out Iran: James Lileks writes: "Iran announces it will give Hamas $50 million to meet the bills. Pin money, you might say. Grenade pin money, more like it."
Iran's Hassan Abbasi, who runs the "Centre for Doctrinal Strategic Studies" for the Republican Guard, has said that "Britain's demise is on our agenda." Iran's president has announced that Israel is "a rotten, dried tree that will be eliminated by one storm" and pledges the "destruction of America."
Do we need to hear anymore before we act?
History Of What?! I just found out that the University of California Santa Cruz has an Associate Professor, History of Consciousness, Neferti Tadiar. (hat tip - Kathy Shaidle)
Does UCSC have an Associate Professor, History of Unconsciousness?? Or Pre-Consciousness??
Santa Cruz is a town full of burnt-out hippies, assorted wackos and Princess Moonbeams. But the place has a great roller coaster.
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk's Giant Dipper is a classic wooden coaster, built in 1924. It features serious drops, sweeping turns and a dark tunnel at the start. The Dipper has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
Quote Of The Day is from Jean Kerr: "You don't seem to realize that a poor person who is unhappy is in a better position than a rich person who is unhappy. Because the poor person has hope. He thinks money would help."
Thursday April 27, 2006
Another GM Sales Blowout Ahead? Jerry Flint wonders aloud and notes that inventories are on the increase. Excerpt: "Among GM vehicles with a more-than-100-day inventory supply are the Buick LaCrosse sedan, the Saturn Relay minivan, and the Cadillac STS sedan and SRX crossover. GM's Chevrolet division has a number of models with more than 100 days' inventory, including the Monte Carlo coupe, Colorado small pickup, Equinox compact sport utility vehicle and Yukon big SUV, while the GMC brand has a 120-day supply of its big Sierra pickup. ... In total, GM is sitting on a 77-day supply of cars and a 93-day supply of trucks."
Designer Gas: Think you're paying a lot for gas? In England, BP is charging twenty bucks per gallon for its new Ultimate 102 high-octane fuel which typically boosts power output by between 4.0 and 7.5% on performance cars. The enormous pricetag is because it's "hand made at BP's Speciality Fuels Technology Centre in the UK in very small batches." Does this make it Artisan Gas, I wonder?
Ultimate 102 is manufactured "with the same know-how that produces fuels for Formula 1 race cars." It has an octane rating of 102. It's so exclusive that it's only available at six filling stations in the U.K.
Social Security Reform: 56 year-old Paul Evans writes: "I am willing to be patriotic. I am willing to make a sacrifice for the greater good of this beloved land. It must be said, however, that I only feel contempt for a Congress that has used this money as nothing more than a slush fund. They carry on about Enron. Enron can't hold a candle to what Congress has done to Social Security."
And: "A Congress whose members retire with 6 figure pensions, gold plated medical benefits and fabulously lucrative careers as lobbyists .... has no face on this issue."
"Oh, I've Wasted my Life!": The AV Club provides a list of Simpsons quotes for Everyday Use. (hat tip - Damian Penny)
Sometimes Reality Intrudes: Joe, at My Ford Dreams, defends his choice of a Mazda3 for his next car. Excerpt: "For people that have been reading my blog for the last 12 months or so, you may remember that one of my stated dreams was to purchase a new Mustang GT in Windviel Blue. And so you may wonder, how I went from this lofty goal, to now talking about purchasing a Mazda3 five door hatch. Well, it was a couple of factors. The Mustang GT is a great car, and with 300 hp has more power than any vehicle I've ever owned. It's iconic to be certain, but it's not very practical, and beyond the price limit I've set for myself. ... (S)ome may call me a traitor for not buying a vehicle with a Blue Oval badge, but in reality it's Ford that failed me." Read the whole thing.
I'm sure Joe will be happy with his choice. The Mazda3 is a very nice car - sporty and sensible.
Quote Of The Day is from Stephen Colbert: "This administration is soaring! Why, they're rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg."
Wednesday April 26, 2006
The Little Convertible That Almost Couldn't. Jerry Flint writes about the G6 Pontiac convertible at the New York Auto Show: "It's not on a stand, there are no lights or models prancing around it, and there was no press conference about the car. I've known about this convertible for four years. General Motors has been talking about it for years. But it didn't come out when the G6 sedan was introduced in fall 2004. It didn't come out in spring of 2005, or last fall, either, and here it is spring of 2006 and there have been no press previews and there was no celebration at the N.Y. Auto Show for the coming convertible.
My conclusion? They can't build it. The car has a metal folding roof. I figure that GM ... just can't get the roof to work right. Maybe by Christmas?" 24 hours later, Flint issued a correction/update: "A Pontiac spokesman says that shipments of the Pontiac G6 convertible began March 31st." We'll see.
This is very old technology. Peugeot offered a retractable, metal-topped cabriolet in 1934. Ford put it into mass-production with the 1957 Skyliner.
Mercedes has been building retractables continuously since '97. Why did GM's engineers take so long to make it work?
Rest In Peace: Legendary drag racer Ronnie Sox, long regarded as one of the greatest four-speed drivers ever, has died after a long battle with cancer.
The longtime racing partner of Buddy Martin was the winningest Pro Stock driver (with nine victories in 23 events) during the short-lived four-speed era (1970-72) and he also claimed six additional Super Stock victories from 1967 to 1969.
His skills as a four-speed driver in match races, ranging from his lumbering full-sized Chevys in the early 1960s to his injected, nitro-burning Barracuda Funny Car in 1966, are part of drag racing lore.
Your Tax Dollars At Waste: "Fire departments are using Homeland Security grants to buy gym equipment, sponsor puppet and clown shows, and turn first responders into fitness trainers." Grrrrr.
Now that almost all of us have computers, wouldn't it be nice if we could vote directly on government spending? Give us the direct vote on any expenditure over, say, $5,000. Federal funds for more useless mass transit in Portland, OR? No! First class travel for federal employees sent to luxury tropical resorts for "conferences"? Never! Vague Community Block Grants with no limits on use. Nay!
Of course, we should be able to do the same thing on a state and local level, too. No more bill-bundling and scheming by pols. Give us - the people - line-item voting power ... online.
Be Very Afraid: If you're younger than 50 and reading this, you'll soon be supporting folks like me more than ever. Excerpt: "By such metrics as median age or proportion of total population above the age of 65, virtually every developed society today is more elderly than practically any human society ever surveyed before the year 1950 - and every single currently developed society is slated to experience considerable further population aging in the decades immediately ahead. In all of the affluent OECD societies, the proportion of what is customarily called the 'retirement age population' (65 years of age or older) will steadily swell, with the most rapid expansion occurring among those aged 80 or more.
Simultaneously, the ratio of people of 'working age' (the cohort, by arbitrary though not entirely unreasonable custom, designated at 1564 years) to those of retirement age will relentlessly shrink - and within the working age grouping, more youthful adults will account for a steadily dwindling share of overall manpower."
And ... be glad you're not Japanese (check out the graph in the article).
Hooters Beijing: Bra producers have been forced to offer bigger cup-sizes in China because improved nutrition is "busting" all previous chest measurement records. Hong Kong-based lingerie firm Embry Group no longer produces A-cups for larger chest circumferences and has increased production of C, D and E (!!) cup bras to meet "pressing demand."
Mark Your Calendars Now: The Great Lakes Manure Handling Expo is on July 27th. Hey, it's a better vacation idea than ... ummm ... Haiti.
Quote Of The Day is from John Rutledge: "Senator Specter earned his 15 minutes on TV by calling for windfall profits taxes on oil. That would be the single dumbest think we could do in a world where oil is scarcer by the day. It would decrease investment in energy and mark one more example of our "capitalism when convenient" school of policy."
Monday April 24, 2006
From Russia With Love: If I had the money, I'd probably buy this car - even if it's Russian. I'd change the wheels, though ... maybe put some Borrani wires on it. Story here.
Lincoln's Loss Leader: An article in Automotive News has Ford crowing that its new Lincoln Zephyr is bringing the average age of Lincoln drivers down from 60 to 56 years-old. (Town Car's buyers are 70.)
Some 40 percent of new Zephyr buyers are trading in cars other FoMoCo brands, including Honda Accord, Acura TL, BMW 3 Series, Buick Lucerne, Toyota Avalon and Infiniti G35.
Sales are coming at a price, however - the average incentives package for the vehicle in February was almost $4,300! That's a huge incentive for a new model. The aging TL and the Infiniti G35 sell with only a small discount off list. The Accord and Avalon can be had these days with a $2,000 or so discount.
I reported this earlier but it bears repeating - the Lincoln Zephyr is outsold by the Acura TL by more than 2-to-1. The aging Lexus ES 330 (which is being replaced with an all-new model) has a 30%+ sales advantage over the Zephyr.
Edmunds reports that horsepower and acceleration are below class average, no stability control is offered and points out that the similar Mercury Milan costs less.
That large discount indicates that the market considers the Lincoln brand worth about $26,000 - a sad comment on the a once-prestigious marque.
Where Theology And Blockology Meet: Presenting the Brick Testament - where bible stories come alive with Lego illustrations!
Oops! Wrong Number: I love this story about dumb terrorists and smart American soldiers. The weapons are in the palm groves. Priceless!
Global Disasters: Last week, the Colbert Report had funny segment on global warming. Steven recorded 'Deep Impact', 'Armageddon' and 'The Core'; his TiVo then thought he wanted to record anything that involved planetary destruction. So TiVo "recorded half the PBS schedule!"
PBS has indeed become quite the Doomsayer - when they're not Begging For Money. Or running old British sitcoms.
The Colbert Report - parody that it is - remains ten times better than O'Reilly. Factor that, Bill.
I never watch the Daily Show anymore. For me it's Colbert Über Alles.
Favorite Onion Headlines: 'Pope Benedict Asks If It's Too Late To Change Name' and 'NAACP Calls For More Diversity In Police Lineups'.
Quote Of The Day is from Grandpa Simpson: "The metric system is the tool of the devil! My car gets 40 rods to the hogshead, and that's the way I likes it!"
Friday April 21, 2006
Cruisin': Thursday was a very nice day, mostly sunny with temperatures in the mid-60s, so I fired up the ol' Plymouth and used it to deliver a couple of packages to the post office for shipment.
My goal is to drive this car more frequently this year. Based on my meager miles traveled during the past three years, the tires won't wear out until 2079.
Future Icon: The other day, I followed a new Honda Civic coupe down the road. Not the winged Si model; just a plain-vanilla Civic coupe. The color was uninspiring - it was an industrial blue. All massive plant machinery - stamping presses, injection molding machines, printing presses, thermoformers, die casting machines, extruders, etc. - is always painted industrial green or industrial blue. You know those colors - not pretty, just sturdy.
Nevertheless, the little Civic looked great and, in today's anonymous vehicular world, unique. It's a ... (more >>>)
I Prefer Drunk Drivers: Sleep-deprived, multitasking drivers - clutching cell phones, fiddling with their radios or applying lipstick - apparently are involved in an awful lot of crashes. Distracted drivers were involved in nearly eight out of 10 collisions or near-crashes, says a study released by the government.
In my experience, the worst offenders are contractors and subs driving full-size pickup trucks. In Ireland, you are legally required to pull off the road before you make a cell phone call. A great idea. It should be the law in the U.S., too.
Second Opinion: Bob Schulties at Cars!Cars!Cars! offers notes from the New York Auto Show. (No, not this one.) Just like me, he likes the new Honda Civic. And feels Lincoln is on a downhill slide: "We don't see a great road ahead for Lincoln. The road is there but Lincoln's turned off the headlights."
Eat Big; Live Long: Regular meals of mammoth meat helped some early human tribes to expand more quickly than their largely vegetarian contemporaries, according to a genetic study. "Human populations in east Asia about 30,000 years ago developed at dramatically different rates, following a pattern that appears to reflect the availability of mammoths and other large game."
Sooo, for lunch today, order a McMammoth meal - and supersize it. If you're in Italy, just shout "Gustalo Maxi!"
Quote Of The Day is from James Morris: "There's a case to be made that, on many evenings, an intelligent adult is better off spending an hour or two in front of a TV set than in a movie theater. That's all the more true if you're foolish enough to reach the theater by the announced starting time of the movie. You've been captured for 15 or 20 minutes of Clockwork Orange-ish saturation in loud, out-of-focus commercials and previews that warn you off months of movies to come. Why have human rights groups not made a fuss?"
Wednesday April 18, 2006
It Ain't Pretty ... but it'll go. It's a wooden motorcycle.
The King Returns: Answering the question few have asked, the King Midget will soon reappear with an electric car option. Take that Smart car!
I don't know if I ever saw one on the road, but the King Midget was advertised in almost every issue of Popular Mechanics and Mechanix Illustrated.
Go Fix Yourselves: Dr. Ahmad Al-Baghdadi, a reformist Kuwaiti intellectual and political science lecturer at Kuwait University, argues that the Muslims themselves - not bin Laden - are responsible for the rising hatred against them around the world.
He says that Muslims living in the West have failed to repay the kindness of the countries that accepted them, and instead have followed the lead of the Muslim clerics and threatened to attack these countries from within. He adds that Muslims in the West must declare that they accept Western values and sever their ties with Muslims in the East, and with the religious clerics.
Excerpt: "Osama bin Laden didn't force anyone to go to Iraq, murder its people and destroy its institutions. He didn't force anyone to murder innocent people in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, America and Europe. Bin-Laden did not tell the Muslims in the West: 'Hate the country that gave you shelter when you fled [from your homelands], made you rich when you were poor, fed you when you were hungry, gave you freedom after the bondage you suffered in your Muslim countries, and educated you when you were ignorant." (hat tip - Relapsed Catholic) (permalink)
Target Iran: A good idea has been presented by Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney (Ret.), who served as assistant vice chief of staff of the United States Air Force.
Excerpt: "What would an effective military response look like? It would consist of a powerful air campaign led by 60 stealth aircraft (B-2s, F-117s, F-22s) and more than 400 nonstealth strike aircraft, including B-52s, B-1s, F-15s, F-16s, Tornados, and F-18s. Roughly 150 refueling tankers and other support aircraft would be deployed, along with 100 unmanned aerial vehicles for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, and 500 cruise missiles. In other words, overwhelming force would be used."
Simpson Wisdom: Lisa: "I'm studying for the math fair. If I win, I'll bring home a brand new protractor."
Homer: "Too bad we don't live on a farm."
Illegal And Threatening: Thomas Sowell makes an observation about the recent in-yer-face, pro-immigration demonstrations: ""Guest workers"? Did any of the strident speakers, with their in-your-face bombast in Spanish, sound like guests? Did they sound like people who wanted to become Americans?"
More: "Were they even asking for amnesty? They didn't sound like they were asking for anything. They sounded like they were telling. Demanding. Threatening."
And: "These were not the speeches of people who wanted to join American society but people who wanted their own turf on American soil - in disregard and defiance of what American citizens want." Read the whole thing.
Quote Of The Day is from Ann Coulter: "This is the only country on Earth that thinks it's not sporting to consider our own interests in choosing immigrants. Try showing up in any other country on the planet, illiterate and penniless, and announcing: "I've seen pictures of your country and it looks great. I think I'd like to live here! Oh, and by the way, would you mind changing all your government and business phone messages, street signs and ballots into my native language? Thanks!" They would laugh you out of the country."
Tuesday April 18, 2006
Chick Wheels: Anita Lienert writes that Chinese aren't wasting any time in designing cars that appeal to women. The new Haixuan was created by an all-female team and has a special brake pedal with a cutout to accommodate a stiletto heel.
It all sounds a little gimmicky, but many automakers are going to great lengths to win over the women's market. At GM, male engineers were sent "to Payless Shoes and buy a pair of size 12 high heels" to wear.
Champion Cheeks: (S+C) x (B+F)/T = V is the formula that describes the "ideal female ass" in shape, bounce, firmness and symmetry, according to psychology lecturer David Holmes of Manchester Metropolitan University in England.
S is the overall shape or droopiness of the bottom, C represents how spherical the buttocks are, B measures muscular wobble or bounce, while F records the firmness. V is the hip to waist ratio, or symmetry of the bottom, and T measures the skin texture and presence of cellulite.
Dr. Holmes said that Kylie Minogue, whose celebrated bottom relaunched her career with the help of a pair of hotpants, would almost certainly score a perfect 80.
"Kylie would score amazingly well on sphericality and symmetry.
Her bottom is pretty much perfect in these areas, more so than the likes of Charlotte Church or Jennifer Lopez, who have more curvy posteriors," he said.
Baloney. She's borderline anorexic.
A good woman is like a good Philly cheesesteak ... extra meat in the bun. (permalink)
Marching Down Fifth Avenue: John Derbyshire has been asked, "Aren't you a bit embarrassed to be laying in to illegal immigrants, having confessed that you yourself were once an illegal immigrant?"
He replied, "No. I look on it as being sort of like the reformed drunk at a temperance meeting.
Besides, there's INSIDE and OUTSIDE. I can recall thinking, as an i-i, that Americans were kind of naive about immigration. Since the naivety was to my personal advantage, I didn't complain. AS AN AMERICAN, and having jumped through all the darn immigration hoops at last (seven years to Green Card, nine more to citizenship), I'm entitled to another point of view.
And I must say, if back then I had felt the heavy hand of an INS officer on my shoulder, I'd have said "It's a fair cop, guv'nor," and gone quietly. It would never have occurred to me that I had any rights in the matter - much less to march down Fifth Avenue with a Union Jack demanding rights."
Saddam For President - 2008: Here's the "official" site. He's "the Choice of the Democratic Party"!!! Excerpt: "While ruling Iraq for 35 years I killed more Muslims than any Jew, American or European - Living or Dead."
Exchange Of The Day ... is from the old Hollywood Squares. Peter Marshall: "Experts say you should avoid sex immediately after ... what?" Paul Lynde: "Surgery."
Monday April 17, 2006
Stiff Ride: If you buy a Cobalt, G6, CTS or any other GM ride, you're helping a UAW worker keep it up. General Motors, which lost $10.6 billion last year, is shelling out $17 million annually for impotence drugs such as Viagra and Cialis.
Lethal Weapon No. 2: A kindergarten student in Charlotte is accused of stabbing a classmate with a pencil. Investigators say the 6-year-old boy grabbed a pencil after a 5-year-old boy kicked him. Teachers found it stuck in the 5-year-old's chest. It was safely removed, however. The 6-year-old has been charged with "assault with a deadly weapon."
Where are the Bradys on this? Isn't it about time for this country to finally establish a uniform National Pencil-Control Law? No more hiding behind that old "right to bear writing instruments" claptrap, either.
How Do We Get Rid Of The Ninth Circuit? And the ACLU? Arresting homeless people for sitting, lying or sleeping on public sidewalks as "an unavoidable consequence of being human and homeless without shelter" violates the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled.
The federal appeals court decided in favor of six homeless persons, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.
Bad Pun Of The Day: The invisible man marries an invisible woman. The kids were nothing to look at either.
Thursday April 13, 2006
What Might Have Been: The report - that the next-generation Toyota Prius will get 90+ mpg (U.S.) and will out-accelerate the outgoing model - planted three distinct thoughts in my mind:
1. Wow! Congrats to those clever Toyota engineers.
2. Interest. If the updated Prius looks less dorky, I may consider buying one.
3. Sadness. Once upon a time, almost every technological breakthrough in autos belonged to General Motors. To be sure, Ford and Chrysler offered innovations but GM easily outpaced them - in scope, quantity and significance. GM hasn't made any true breakthroughs in years, piddling away its dwindling resources by rearranging chrome on Buicks.
Toyota is doing what every successful firm should do - take a portion of corporate profits and invest in innovative improvements. It's called "investing in the future."
American car companies used to do this. No more. Now, they must depend on licensing innovative technology from Asia. How these once-mighty giants have fallen. What a shame.
Car Sightings: I passed a white-over-blue 1974 Buick Century 350 coupe on the freeway Wednesday. It was in like-new condition. I couldn't get over how wide this "mid-size car" was compared with its skinny tires and narrow track.
And how large it was - a 116-inch wheelbase with big overhangs. (The "big" Buick Electra 225 rode on a 127-inch wheelbase for '74.) And how out-of-date and out-of-place the Century looked.
Later, I got a good look a gorgeous black Porsche 356 at a stoplight facing me. I rolled down my window to listen to it take off. Surrounded by 21st Century vehicles, this 40+ year-old car still looked relevant.
Classic designs never get old. Or tiresome.
Obscure Fact Of The Day: Speaking of Porsche, P. J. O'Rourke once called the brand an "ass-engined Nazi slot car."
Nose Job: The new Audi TT looks better than the old one. But that's not saying much since I always felt that the first generation TT was one of the ugliest cars on the road.
Worst Mother Ever: A mother and her boyfriend placed "a death notice in the local newspaper, saying that the woman's 17-year-old son had died at the Mayo Clinic after a lengthy illness. Authorities were notified after the teen was spotted at a restaurant by some family friends. Police said the pair did it so they could get off work for a few days."
Make Me Illegal! Please! Mark Steyn correctly points out that we 298 million 'non-undocumented' residents of the United States "get a lousy deal compared with the 15 million fine upstanding members of the Undocumented American community.
I think the 298 million of us in the overdocumented segment of the population should get the chance to be undocumented. You know when President Bush talks about all those undocumented people "living in the shadows"?
Doesn't that sound kinda nice? Living in the shadows, no government agencies harassing you for taxes and numbers and paperwork."
Read the whole thing.
"Good News Everyone!" There's a possible deal for 26 new episodes of 'Futurama'. I was distraught when this fine cartoon went off the air.
Bender, we hardly knew ye.
Quote Of The Day is from Eric Hoffer: "Propaganda does not deceive people; it merely helps them to deceive themselves."
Wednesday April 12, 2006
Virgin Volvo? Entrepreneur Richard Branson wants to get into the biofuel business. Before long, he says, we will all be driving on bioethanol. Branson has anticipated the trend and drawn up the business plan. He is, after all, one of the top 10 richest individuals in Britain with a fortune of £3 billion - an empire built on starting and selling companies.
Virgin fuels will seize the opportunity that the likes of BP and Shell have failed to grasp. "Virgin fuels would be a great mix of ethical and business reasons. I have been to see the president of Volvo to ensure that they are ethanol friendly," says Branson, "And we have had talks with them about making a Virgin Volvo."
Pre-Pontiac Excitement: Frank E. Fithen, who lost his arms in a railroad accident as a boy, drove a 60 hp Oakland with a specially-made steering wheel. He hit speeds of up to 58 miles an hour.
Mr. Fithen accomplished many difficult feats, such as writing, dressing and undressing himself, swimming, bicycle and unicycle trick riding.
Rewriting The New Testament: Miss Kelly reports on the new P.C. "translation" of Palm Sunday's Gospel: "And they crucified two 'revolutionaries', one on his right side and one on his left side."
"Excusez-moi? They crucified two revolutionaries? I'd always heard these two described as robbers, which is what's written in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke in my 1962 St. Joseph's Bible. John's gospel simply refers to two men. No doubt some very wise and learned progressive Catholic scholars have unearthed evidence that the two men crucified on either side of Jesus were not simple thieves. Apparently were freedom fighters who sought to bring down the patriarchal, military/industrial complex and stick it to the Man, in order to bring social justice to the oppressed proletariats. Ayy gevalt. Who changed the words and why?"
I noticed the same thing at Mass last Sunday. But was too exhausted and beaten-down from all the other Newly-Made-Up, Time-Wasting Ceremonies to object. I guess some Vatican scholar was miffed because no one offered "amnesty" to the criminals! (hat tip - Relapsed Catholic)
And, while I'm on the subject of religious complaints, I dislike the hymn, 'Amazing Grace'. Especially the part about "a wretch like me".
Years ago, I amused my daughter by singing "a pretty-good guy like me" as a substitute in church.
Obscure Fact Of The Day: When Hugh Hefner dies, he will be entombed next to Marilyn Monroe, the actress who posed nude in the 1953 premiere issue of Playboy.
Quote Of The Day is from James Lileks: "Remember: You are an individual with free will. You march to the beat of a different drummer. Granted, he has repetitive motion strain from holding the sticks in an unnatural position. But that's his lawsuit."
Tuesday April 11, 2006
Road Test: One of the few good things about my extensive business travels in the '70s and '80s, was the opportunity to drive a lot of different cars. Of course, they were rental cars, so they weren't very exotic. The last time I drove someone else's car was when we rented a car while on vacation 18 months ago.
So, I was very excited last week when a friend offered me the keys to his newly-acquired 2003 BMW 330xi AWD sedan. The first thing I noticed was its striking good looks. This steel blue metallic 4-door was pure, unBangelized, muscular BMW.
Chris Bangle, as you probably know, is BMW's head of design and is responsible for the recent styling disasters such as the unfortunate rear end of the current 7-Series (aka Bangle Butt), the oddly Asian-look of the latest 3-Series and the jarring, pointless creases found on several models. Bangle refers to these disharmonious lines as Flame Surfacing, which means that if you give something ugly a catchy moniker, it makes everything OK.
As someone who is always trying to keep up-to-date with current trends, I've now taken to referring a particularly nasty crack in my concrete driveway as Cement Meandering. Rather than fixing it, I'm hoping that this "feature" will command a premium when I decide to sell the place. (Maybe Chris Bangle will be the buyer.)
Back to the 330xi - it has an agressive stance and powerful lines. It's reasonably quick for a car that pulls 15.5 pounds per horsepower, handles well and stops on a dime. Nicely-fitted interior, too. The seats seem comfortable, roomy and supportive. I didn't check out the rear seat space, though. This car had the factory oversized alloys (good-looking) and very low-profile Continental tires. Despite the forklift truck tires, it rode surprisingly well.
BMW uses a space-wasting inline-6 engine because it considers to be inherently smoother by design than a V-6. I dunno - all sixes are so smooth these days that I can't tell the difference. The day was dry, so I didn't get a chance to put the all-wheel drive to the test. Nevertheless, my friend drove it from Chicago to Oregon late last year and encountered numerous snowstorms. He was amazed by the car's surefootedness in all sorts of weather.
I must confess that this was the first time that I had driven a vehicle with a manual shift in nine years. The five-speed was Teutonically precise but the clutch was waaaay too sensitive for me. My friend has an all-manual fleet of vehicles and even he admits to having trouble with the BMW "if he's been away from it for a week."
This car cost almost $45,000 new and we both gulped at such a price for something referred to as an "entry-level luxury sedan." Nevertheless, as a used vehicle it is a bargain. (permalink)
Italian Heat: Twenty-four cars were damaged after a fire started under a 2005 Maserati in Florida. The fire broke out in the parking lot of an air show when the catalytic converter overheated and ignited grass. Dry and windy conditions helped the fire spread quickly. Some cars are burned down to the frame, while others have scorch marks and melted tail lights. (hat tip - Tom Rodi)
Quick! Ring Up Wallace. A "monster" rabbit has apparently been rampaging through vegetable patches in a small village in northern England, ripping up leeks, munching turnips and infuriating local gardeners.
In an uncanny resemblance to the plot of the hit animated film 'Wallace & Gromit - The Curse of the Were-Rabbit', angry horticulturists in Felton, near Newcastle, have now mounted an armed guard to protect their prized cabbages and parsnips.
"They call it the monster. It's very big - it's nearly the size of a dog," said Joan Smith, whose son Jeff owns one of the plots under attack.
"It's eating everything, all the vegetables," she told Reuters. "They are trying to shoot it. They go along hoping to catch it but I think it's too crafty."
Synonyms: John Derbyshire of National Review Online offers the following brief glossary of some of the terms you have been hearing when immigration reform is discussed:
"legalization" ----- amnesty
"guest worker plan" ----- amnesty
"temporary worker plan" ----- amnesty
"path to citizenship" ----- amnesty
"out of the shadows" ----- amnesty
"comprehensive reform" ----- amnesty
Bad Pun Of The Day: A man walks into a bar with a slab of asphalt under his arm and says: "A beer for me please, and one for the road."
Monday April 10, 2006
Drivin': On Sunday, I fired up the Plymouth which has been sleeping all winter and took it for a spin though the back roads of North Clark County. Wonderful and invigorating. Played a WIBG 'Joe Niagara Show' from 1957 through the radio. Cool.
How To Lose A Race: Dave Leggett has reported a tale so good I just had to reprint it. This story was apparently concocted by management consultant Carlo R. Besenius:
A Japanese company (Toyota) and an American company (General Motors) decided to have a canoe race on the Missouri River. Both teams practiced long and hard to reach their peak performance before the race.
On the big day, the Japanese team won by a mile.
The Americans, very discouraged and depressed, decided to investigate the reason for the crushing defeat.
A management team made up of senior management was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action. Their conclusion was the Japanese team had 8 people rowing and 1 person steering, while the American team had 8 people steering and 1 person rowing. So American management hired a consulting company and paid them a large amount of money for a second opinion.
They advised that too many people were steering the boat, while not enough people were rowing. To prevent another loss to the Japanese, the American rowing team's management structure was totally reorganized to 4 steering supervisors, 3 area steering superintendents and 1 assistant superintendent steering manager.
They also implemented a new performance system that would give the 1 person rowing the boat greater incentive to work harder. It was called the "Rowing Team Quality First Program," with meetings, dinners and free pens for the rower. There was discussion of getting new paddles, canoes and other equipment, extra vacation days for practices and bonuses.
The next year the Japanese won by two miles.
Humiliated, the American management laid off the rower for poor performance, halted development of a new canoe, sold the paddles, and canceled all capital investments for new equipment.
The money saved was distributed to the Senior Executives as bonuses and the next year's racing team was outsourced to India!
Friday April 7, 2006
Slower Than ... I encountered something moving at seemingly a slower velocity than molasses. It was a sanctimonious Portland city employee driving a government-owned Toyota Prius. I was stuck behind one straddling both lanes at 3 mph because he/she/it couldn't decide whether to turn left or right. Idiot!
If you live in Portland, this is just one more example of your tax dollars at waste.
Yes, I did see South Park 'Hybrid Episode' last week. Hilarious ... and accurate.
Lighten Up ... And Not Just In The Loafers: The new Dodge Caliber commercial with the flying Tinkerbell made me laugh out loud. It's clever and funny. A Detroit News article informed me that the official title of the commercial is 'Too Tough'. It also informed me that some gay rights supporters have complained that the commercial is offensive and borders on homophobic. Puullleeeze. Lighten up. Learn to laugh.
Another Reason Not To Buy One: Sitcom writer Warren Bell owns a Maserati Quattroporte. At 18,000 miles the clutch died.
" ... I found out I need the clutch entirely replaced and all-new rear brakes. The repairs will take over two weeks, and I will be shelling out a small fortune to do something I will likely have to do next year as well. Turns out Maserati doesn't really design these things for stop-and-go city driving. Some of their clutches are burning out even faster. And please don't write to tell me I am driving it wrong. It's an automatic - actually a computer-controlled manual - and the operator has little to do with it."
That Quattroporte still looks like a Buick to me.
Never Believe Experts: Two (of many) examples:
"With over fifteen types of foreign cars already on sale here, the Japanese auto industry isn't likely to carve out a big share of the market for itself." Business Week, 1968
And: "That the automobile has practically reached the limit of its development is suggested by the fact that during the past year no improvements of a radical nature have been introduced." Scientific American, 1909
Quote Of The Day is from Thomas Sowell: "Someone once said that the most important knowledge is knowledge of our own ignorance. Our schools are depriving millions of students of that kind of knowledge by promoting "self-esteem" and encouraging them to have opinions on things of which they are grossly ignorant, if not misinformed."
Thursday April 6, 2006
Car Sighting: Spotted some additional Toyota FJs on another car carrier on the interstate. Either blue or yellow ones look a little cartoonish but the FJ sure looks nice in silver.
Busted! NBC's Dateline program put out a call for Muslims - but only those who "look Muslim" - to parade around at a NASCAR event, hoping to draw a hostile reaction from red-state "bigots" that NBC could film. Dateline wanted to stage a fake news story intended to discredit NASCAR fans (i.e., conservatives) by catching them in the act of bigotry. It didn't work. The NBC crew was "apparently on site in Martinsville, VA, walked around and no one bothered them," NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said.
NBC vows to continue its search for anti-Muslim sentiment somewhere in America: "We were intrigued by the results of a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll and other articles regarding increasing anti-Muslim sentiments in the United States. It's very early on in our newsgathering process, but be assured we will be visiting a number of locations across the country and are confident that our reporting team is pursuing this story in a fair manner." Yeah, right.
Maybe this a new NBC reality show - 'Trolling For Rednecks'.
In Your Heart, You Knew ... these things never worked. A study has shown that high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes have actually led to an increase in traffic congestion.
"What they found was that not only was there no increase in carpooling, but that when HOV lanes were 'active', traffic capacity decreased by 20-percent by increasing congestion on other lanes. A report from 2005 also noted that in areas where HOV lanes are not separated from general traffic, accident rates increase by some 50-percent."
Where Are The Fat Asses? And what are they driving? Dan Gorrell, vice president of San Diego market research firm Strategic Vision, recalls: "I remember being told by a GM executive … that they'd never worried about Buick because as people got older and richer, their asses would get fatter and they would always buy Buicks to sit 'em in. They had this arrogant belief that when baby boomers turn 50, 'they belong to us,' and that just didn't happen."
Car Branding: Robert Farago sums it up, stating that "if you can't sum-up a car brand in four words, the chances are it doesn't have any. By the same token, if a marque sells models that don't embody those core values, it's in trouble. Jaguar: sexy looks, smooth ride. BMW: impeccable ergonomics, superb handling. Toyota: faultless build, cheap price. Cadillac: ummmm. Mercury: errrrr. Buick: zzzzzzz. Lamborghini: sexy body, V12 power."
Plus: "... it's all too easy to chase short term gain with brand-betraying products. There are plenty of examples: Lincoln Zephyr, Buick Terraza, Saab 9-7x, Jaguar X-Type and more." Amen.
Worst Three People On Earth: A Danish security firm said Tuesday it had fired three of its guards for stealing toys and DVDs from critically ill children at Copenhagen's main hospital.
Bad Pun Of The Day: Two cows are standing next to each other in a field. Daisy says to Dolly, "I was artificially inseminated this morning." "I don't believe you," says Dolly. "It's true, no bull!" exclaims Daisy.
Wednesday April 5, 2006
Car Mags: While killing time before a luncheon meeting, I perused the magazine racks at Barnes & Noble. I was surprised by the number of new car magazines I spotted.
One was 'Intersection' magazine from the UK. Promo material says that Intersection "is an entirely new kind of car magazine: written like a novel, shot like a fashion story and guided by the spirit of the open road."
It claims to cover "the latest production models, whilst delving deeper into concept vehicles, classics and customisation, all avenues of auto appreciation lead to Intersection. Weaving bikes, boats, planes and trucks into the traffic, Intersection looks to the street, the sea and the sky, and sets the agenda wherever it ventures."
Readers of its international edition are concentrated in the UK, Europe, Japan and Australasia. A separate U.S. edition offers focus for American readers, and access to global advertisers. The combined circulation is supposedly 107,000.
Cool mag with nice photos, too.
March Auto Sales Summary: Toyota - up 7%, DaimlerChrysler - up 3%, Honda - flat, Nissan - down slightly, FoMoCo - down 5%, GM - off a whopping 14% (trucks 10%; cars 22%). VW sales were up 24 percent; Porsche was up 13%.
The Japanese are winning big in key market sectors. Toyota Corolla outsells Ford Focus by three-to-one, Chevy Cobalt by 56%. (Honda Civic sales are within 10% of Corolla.)
The Toyota Camry outsells the Ford Fusion/Mercury Milan duo by almost 3-to-1. The Honda Accord beats them by more than 2-to-1.
In the semi-near-luxury segment, the Lincoln Zephyr is outsold by the Acura TL by more than 2-to-1. The aging Lexus ES 330 (which is being replaced with an all-new model in a month or so) has a 30%+ sales advantage over the Zephyr.
Reading FoMoCo's press releases, one would think that the Fusion/Milan/Zephyr models are a resounding success. The data indicate otherwise.
Some brands are seriously tanking - Jaguar is off by over 47% (every model in the line-up is down by double digits). Mercury sales have dropped 12%; Lincoln Town Car sales have declined 17%. Chevy is off 15%, Pontiac - down 26%, Saturn sales have declined by 18%.
The Buick Lucerne is a bright spot at GM; selling at about the same rate as the Toyota Avalon. And, at Ford, Land Rover sales are up. But, overall, it's certainly not party time in Detroit these days.
Worst Metaphor Ever: Robert Farago writes: "Testing a Lamborghini Gallardo SE in Miami is like sipping Chateau Lafite Rothschild in a public urinal."
It's All Bush's Fault: In a Detroit News article titled 'Will Bush engineer demise of Detroit?', Thomas Bray writes: "It's tough enough controlling costs when the unions have a monopoly over the labor in your industry. It's even tougher when the government decides what products you can make. That's essentially what Washington does with its corporate average fuel economy, or CAFE, standards. Last week Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, the lone Democrat in the Bush cabinet, finalized fuel economy rules that will require sport utility vehicles, minivans and other "light trucks" to achieve 24 miles per gallon by 2011, up from 21.6 mpg now. Passenger cars now must average 27.5 mpg."
Allow me to summarize: Whine, whine, whine. Then blame Bush.
Here's my take: George Bush is right when he said that America is addicted to oil. Anything which will reduce our dependency on foreign oil is a good thing.
As for CAFE standards, in the pre-CAFE era, one of my mom's friends bought a new 1967 Oldsmobile 98. She reported that this huge iron tank was averaging 8 miles per gallon. On premium gas! Today, thanks in no small part to CAFE standards, many large, comfy sedans will average well over 20 mpg. I'm generally no fan of government interference in the marketplace, but does anyone really believe that Detroit would have developed such vehicles without governmental prodding?
Bray claims that CAFE standards have caused cars to be less safe. Hey, how 'bout a test, Tom. Let's T-bone a '67 Olds and a 2006 Ford Five Hundred. I'll go first - and sit in the Ford. You take the Olds. Let me know when you're ready.
Big Detroit Sale: The Onion weighs in on the Motor City's continuing troubles with the headline: 'Detroit Sold For Scrap'. Excerpt: "Detroiters can finally say goodbye to an eyesore that's blighted them for generations," said Al Ranneke, an Allegheny, PA scrap peddler who offered cash for hundreds of tons of the city's many metal parts. "No more getting nickel-and-dimed to death on little repairs, no more kids cutting themselves on jagged, rusted corners, and it all gets hauled off at no charge."
We Live In Amazing Times: Doctors can now grow organs from patients' own cells. Scientists at Wake Forest University grew new bladders from the patients' own cells, which were then transplanted back into the patients' bodies. Doctors extract muscle and bladder cells from a small piece of the patient's own bladder. The cells are grown in a Petri dish, then layered onto a three-dimensional mold shaped like a bladder.
In a few weeks, the cells produce a new bladder, which is implanted into the patient. Within a few more weeks, the new bladder has grown to normal size and has started functioning.
They are now working to grow 20 different tissues and organs, including blood vessels and hearts, in the lab.
Quote Of The Day is from Lyn Nofziger: "Interesting, isn't it, that the rights of atheists, America-haters and rabble rousers are all protected because the Founding Fathers turned to God for guidance as they sought to give themselves and those who would follow after them a more perfect union?"
Tuesday April 4, 2006
"We Build ..." ... um ... What? Chris Sawyer rails at Pontiac: "It's as though the division is uncertain of who it is or what it stands for other than to constantly repeat the word "excitement" to itself and anyone who will listen. But what does that mean? Fast cars? Cars and trucks that handle well? Vehicles that burst into flame? (Trust me that can be very exciting.) It's not clear what they mean over at Pontiac.
Granted, the division is saddled with a hodgepodge of vehicles one would not - in all cases - highlight as examples of the chosen word. The Solstice fits, the Torrent doesn't. The G6 is close, while the Grand Prix is so far past is sell-by date even AARP members think its claim to excitement is dubious. And the Montana? Heck, even the state is more exciting than the Pontiac minivan of the same name."
He's right, sadly. I remember the 1960s, when the Pontiac name meant something.
These days, most of the Pontiacs you see are in rental car lots.
For That Kind Of Money, I Demand A Designer Badge: MotorWeek has finally returned to PBS' airwaves, after a lengthy absence while <sarcasm on> "commercial-free" </sarcasm off> Public Broadcasting was busy Begging For Money.
How many times can they show 'Celtic Women' anyway? Or more of that '50s oldies show where half the doo-wop groups are using oxygen tanks, canes and/or Rascals? (And, may I interject this? The Platters - once a fine vocal group - has been re-formed and its name sold so many times that their sound is now unrecognizable. And they suck.)
Or those '60s folk music revival shows - 'When Stoners Get Really Old'? The Smothers Brothers are a pair of one-trick ponies and are no longer amusing. (Note to Tom and Dick: Steve Martin wised up and dumped his Excuuuuuse-Meeeee, arrow-through-the-head schtick long ago - before it got tiresome. And broadened his career. Try something new, boys.)
Anyway, last week MotorWeek tested a Cadillac STS-V. The price of the car shocked me. $77,000 for a mid-sized Cadillac? Get outta here! Call me a snob but I'm not paying 77 grand for a mid-sized Caddy any more than I'd pay 77 large for something with Subaru or Hyundai badges. I don't care if it's Really Good and Goes Real Fast. (PS - A less-than-$30K Subie WRX is probably even faster!)
For that kind of money, I want a large sedan with a serious bragging-rights-at-the-club pedigree - like Jaguar, Mercedes, BMW, etc.
Yes, I know that seems shallow but, if I'm going to spend serious bucks on a #$@*% car, I'll claim my right to be superficial.
Besides, 'deep' people frighten and confuse me.
Darwin Award Nominee: A man in North Carolina set himself on fire checking the level of gasoline. He was using a cigarette lighter to see how much gas he'd stolen. Idiot.
Airplane! I'm neither buff nor expert when it comes to flying machines. Nevertheless, I found a couple of recent news items interesting:
During a recent test of the huge double-decker Airbus A380, one person had to be taken to hospital with a broken leg. Others had minor injuries. Hmmm. Sounds like a typical 1970s Allegheny Airlines deplaning.
There's good news for Boeing, though. GE Commercial Aviation placed a firm order for 30 737s, with the option to buy 30 more.
EgyptAir has also ordered several Boeing planes. And the company had more than 3,020 orders from 96 customers for the latest versions of the 737. Furthermore, Alaska Airlines plans to convert to a fleet of all-Boeing 737 aircraft by the end of 2008.
This is amazing when you consider that the 737 debuted in 1967. It was initially the 'hot rod' of passenger jets - a little plane with huge powerful jet engines hung under the wings. This plane was designed to be usable on very short runways. When it took off it accelerated quickly and would push you back in your seat.
The post-1975 models have smaller, gutless GE fan-jets and longer fuselages and can accelerate no faster than a city bus - or a DC-9. (Did you ever notice that a DC-9 or MD-80 has almost exactly the same sound as an old 1950s GM Coach city bus?)
On a trip to Italy four years ago, the Munich-to-Rome segment was on a Lufthansa 737 which still had the short-body/big-engine set-up. Boy, did that thing haul-ass down the runway. Nice feeling. Sehr guht!
I salute the designers of the original 737 airplane. It's classic and, apparently, timeless. And, unlike that timeless automobile - the Morgan, it doesn't use wood as a structural component. (permalink)
Not-So-Christian: Michael Coren writes about the so-called Christian Peacemaker hostages pointing out that "enormous amounts of money and time were spent on rescuing them from their largely pointless and acutely political intervention in Iraq." He singles out one - James Loney - who has said: "I avoid prayer like the plague. The kind where you stop, sit or kneel, do nothing but be, even if for only ten minutes. The thought of fasting nauseates me, and as for Sunday Mass - that weekly spiritual re-boot and virus check - well, let's just say I've accumulated a significant inventory of mortal sins."
Loney's enemies list includes "children, parents, WTO officials, presidents, sexist pigs, red-neck racists, and strangers on dark street corners." He doesn't sound very Christian - or Peacemaker-ish, does he?
What?! I Must Now Work To Pay For My Wine And My Citroën?! Dominic Hilton weighs in on the riots in France: "Lots of over-educated youths with too much black in their wardrobes are desperate to dress up in balaclavas and bandannas and torch things because (now let me word this correctly) they are disillusioned that their government wants to help them get jobs, because when you get a job there is a big danger you might one day lose it, especially if you are crap at it."
Quote Of The Day is from Eric Hoffer: "For many people, an excuse is better than an achievement because an achievement, no matter how great, leaves you having to prove yourself again in the future but an excuse can last for life."
Monday April 3, 2006
Exclusive - Direct From The New York Auto Show! Have I gotten your attention? Good.
Forty years ago, I attended the show at the New York Coliseum. I planned to scrounge around in one of our many shoeboxes full of old photos and post some pix from the show. I did manage to find lots of car show photos but realized that 1) the pix from the '65, '66 and '67 shows were all mixed together and 2) the quality of the photos was pretty awful. The poor quality was due to my photographic ineptness and the cheap Keystone 126 camera that I used. I was pretty broke at the time; therefore, many of the photos were shot with black and white film which was far less costly to process than Kodacolor.
So, instead of trying to salvage fuzzy and poorly composed photos by spending many hours chained up in my Photoshop dungeon, I have - in Lileks' Institute of Official Cheer fashion - posted various ads and announcements from the 1966 Auto Show 'Official Program' here.
I hope you find the selection amusing and enjoyable.
Thank You For Stating The Obvious: Nissan's top designer says GM lost touch with customers. "There was a lack of customer-orientation," Senior Vice President Shiro Nakamura said of GM's woes. Well, duh. Isn't this ... um ... kinda like the Pope saying that murder is not, you know, a good thing?
In a 1999 business article, I wrote: "Many big brands (like Cadillac) lost market share because they lost touch with their present customers and with the market (prospective customers). In your business, don't lose touch with customers or the market. Keep calling on customers and prospects so that you can be on the lookout for new offerings by competitors and for shifting loyalties in your marketplace. Then you can respond quickly, making changes in your business to keep your customers satisfied. And to attract new ones who aren't being satisfied by others in your field.
Keep giving people satisfaction - and you'll earn and keep their loyalty." Unfortunately, GM didn't do that.
General Morons: Jack Paulus of J.R. Industries didn't have to read General Motors' 10-K filing to learn that the automaker's financial controls were spotty. He spent a month trying to return $4 million that GM overpaid his machinery manufacturing firm.
The company sold a diagnostic test stand to GM for $1,988. A GM employee keyed 1,988 into both the quantity and unit price columns.
Cars In Mags: AdAge says that auto advertising in magazines is falling. In 2005, auto advertising loss cost publishers almost $100 million in revenue; magazines had pinned their hopes on a revival in '06 based on second-half launches and their own online offerings, but, so far, it doesn't look as though this year will be any better than last. In January, automaker print ad spending plunged 23 percent.
The shift of money from print ads to the web is partly to blame. Ford's print ad budget share dropped last year from 23.5 percent to 21 percent, while its online allocation grew from 3 percent to 3.5 percent, and GM's budget fell to 15.8 percent from 17.1 percent for print and rose from 2.4 percent to 3.5 percent for the web.
Another Sign Of End Times: Husqvarna has introduced a NASCAR-branded chain saw.
Punished For Truthfulness: A Catholic priest in Belgium is to be tried for "hate crimes". The priest, who fled from Turkey to Belgium under Islamic persecution, made this "offending" statement: "Every thoroughly islamized Muslim child that is born in Europe is a time bomb for Western children in the future. The latter will be persecuted when they have become a minority." ... (more >>>)
Quote Of The Day is from the late Lyn Nofziger: "Back when he was governor, Ronald Reagan always went home reasonably early. He didn't believe in hanging around the office for the sake of hanging around the office.
One time, about 5:00, he was on his way out when he stuck his head in our office and said, 'Fellas, go home to your wives and daughters.' We said, 'If we do, who's going to do the work?' And he said, 'It doesn't need to get done. Go home.'
And I've always thought that he was right, that much of the work of government doesn't need to get done."