Friday April 30, 2010
Birth Of The Fin: In the 1940s, General Motors was in love with fastback styling, calling it 'the torpedo look'. It was a Forties fad and GM made the most of it. The 1948-49 Cadillac club coupe models - also referred to as Sedanets - were arguably the best looking of GM's fastbacks. 1948 and '49 were also very significant years for Cadillac.
The 1948 Cadillac was the first true postwar design at Cadillac begins. It was the first Caddy with fins - often referred to at the time as 'fishtails'. The fastback design and twin-fin combo were inspired by ... (more >>>)
Saab Dreams: Headline Of The Week is from Edmunds Auto Observer: 'How To Say 'Suicide' in Swedish: 2010 Saab 9-5 is Fifty Grand.'
"The all-new Saab company (now owned by Spyker Cars NV), last week said it was pricing its first all-new car, the 2010 Saab 9-5 Aero, at a preposterously ambitious $49,990, with destination."
"Spyker is going to find out a whole lot about the world of incentives with pricing of this nature," said Edmunds.com pricing and industry analyst Ivan Drury. "The 2010 9-5 is an all-new and significantly upgraded car, but GM couldn't sell the former 9-5 with a lower starting MSRP combined with some of the highest incentives in the business."
Once upon a time, Saab sold 40,000 cars per year in the U.S. In 2009, less than 8,700 were sold. Good luck.
Socialist Soliloquy: A couple of days ago, Barack Obama said, "I do think at a certain point you've made enough money." This utterance is from a man who never held a 'real' job, lives rent-free in public housing and made $5.5 million last year, mostly from books he "authored."
So, when will he break the news to Oprah? (permalink)
Fascist Follies: Meanwhile, O's spending our tax money sending in riot squads to 'police' a couple of hundred peaceful protesters - many of them elderly - from the Quincy Illinois Tea Party. The apparent 'provocation' was that people were singing 'God Bless America'.
I suppose we should be glad he didn't call in the Black Panthers ... again.
Every day, in every way, Barry O. adds yet another story to his Fascist police state tower.
Special Bonus For Regular Readers: Your ability to quote from this blog from memory now counts as Proof of Citizenship in Arizona.
A Little Known Provision ... of the new Arizona Illegal Immigrant Law: When the police stop a vehicle and ask for proof of citizenship, they are not required to do so in Spanish. They must, however, say "Your papers, please" with a Colonel Klink-like accent.
Connect The Dots: Nixon = Ken Lay = John Ashcroft = character actor Gregory Itzin - aka ex-President Charles Logan on '24'.
Joke Of The Day is from Jimmy Fallon: "If Nancy Pelosi and Obama were on a boat in the middle of the ocean and it started to sink, who would be saved?" A: "America!"
Wednesday April 28, 2010
Low-Tech Hi-Tech: When I chose my 2008 Lexus LS 460 in September 2007, I had to special order it because I didn't want the navi/premium sound combo. It would have added $5,600+ to the price of the car. If the sound/navi system combo was $1,000, I probably would have taken it even though it is mostly useless to me.
I'm now old/deaf enough that I have trouble telling cassettes from CDs (What tape hiss?!), so the benefits of Mark Levinson and His Many Tuned Speakers are pretty much lost on me. I'm not a fan of navigation systems either. If I was, I'd probably want a portable one so I could use it in rental cars, too. These two options are frequently bundled with Lexus Parking Assist which costs even more and adds those ugly 'buttons' to the front and back bumpers of the car.
Recently, my Lexus dealer encountered another crazy customer like me. The guy wanted to know what the dashboard and console would look like without the navi screen, so I took a photo of mine and sent it to my Lexus sales rep. It still looks pretty high-tech to me.
The salesman also informed me that all Lexus LS 460 shipments to the Pacific Northwest are now AWD models. If you want a rear-wheel drive model, you must special order it. All-wheel drive wasn't even available when I purchased my car.
General Motors, Still A House Of Lies: GM has been crowing about paying back a $6.7 billion government loan five years ahead of schedule. It turned out that the automaker used another kitty of taxpayer cash to pay off the earlier government loan. I believe that the official accounting term for such an action is "shell game," although most laymen call it "robbing Peter to pay Paul."
"Previously unreleased documents supplied to The Washington Times reveal that GM specifically used funds it received from the Troubled Asset Relief Program to pay off the government loan. According to Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for TARP, $4.7 billion of $6.7 billion - 70% - of what GM paid back came from TARP money the company received."
"The one thing a lot of people overlook with this is where they got the money to pay the loan," Mr. Barofsky told Fox News' Neil Cavuto. "It isn't from earnings."
Speaking Of Lies ... a damning health care report generated by actuaries at the Health and Human Services Department was given to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius more than a week before the health care vote. She hid the report from the public until a month after Democrats rammed their nationalized health care bill through Congress.
"The reason we were given was that they did not want to influence the vote," said an HHS source. "Which is actually the point of having a review like this, you would think. ... We know a copy was sent to the White House via their legislative affairs staff and there were a number of meetings here almost right after the analysis was submitted to the secretary's office."
The report released by Medicare and Medicaid actuaries shows that medical costs will skyrocket rising $389 billion 10 years. Fourteen million will lose their employer-based coverage. Millions of Americans will be left without insurance. And, millions more may be dumped into the already overwhelmed Medicaid system. Four million American families will be hit with tax penalties under this new law.
When Nancy Pelosi told America, "We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it," she forgot to mention that Democrats already knew what was in it. They just didn't want the rest of the country to find out.
In related 'Lying Democrat' news, "Rep. Patrick Kennedy was spotted doing vodka shots last week at a Capitol Hill bar just hours after he spoke about his history of substance abuse at a charity event." (permalink)
Book Review: 'Closing Time: A Memoir' by Joe Queenan.
This autobiography is the Philadelphia version of 'Angela's Ashes' told with a decidedly nasty bent. Joe Queenan takes readers from his 1950s Philadelphia elementary school days through the death of his abusive father in 1997.
Queenan is a humorist, critic and author with several books and numerous magazine pieces under his belt. But this tome is ... (more >>>)
Raiding Arizona: On Eternity Road, Ol' Remus has written, "The purpose of assisting illegal immigration is not diversity, nor humanitarianism, nor is it to alter demographics to the cost of traditional America, nor is it ethnic revenge, nor is it to pump up liberal voter registrations for national elections. The purpose is to put in place non-net taxpayers that will vote reliably for increases in local and state social services budgets. It's curious that holders of national office would promote amnesty at considerable peril to their careers until such state and regional pressure is taken into consideration."
Arizona is doing the right thing: going after criminals with its newly-signed anti-illegal-immigration law, despite the uproar of 'progressives'. You see, it's called 'illegal immigration', because it's illegal. And Arizona has chosen to deal with this illegality rather than ignore it and hope that things go away. Or get better on their own. Or go to hell more slowly.
Polls have indicated 70% of Arizonans are in favor of the new law.
From 2,000 miles away, Eugene Robinson, former assistant managing editor of the Washington Post, got his panties in a bunch calling Arizona's law "an abomination - racist, arbitrary, oppressive, mean-spirited, unjust."
In an unintentionally hilarious protest, a brown swastika (what's the deal with liberals' obsession with All Things Nazi, anyway?) was found smeared on the glass doors of the Arizona House and Senate buildings. Police first thought it was shit but it turned out to be refried beans. But, for those who were actively wishing for shit, Al Sharpton will soon be on the scene and will undoubtedly be spewing a lot of it. (Silly me. I didn't even realize that Al was from Arizona. And/or is an illegal alien. I mean, why else would he be involved?)
Naturally, Al and all other outraged lefties will be using the "undocumented immigrants" phrase - a euphemism in the same genre as referring to bank robbers as "customers who fail to present proper withdrawal slips."
Let's Get Small: IBM researchers used a new nanopatterning technique to create the world's smallest 3D map of the Earth. Approximately 1,000 of them would fit on a single grain of salt.
Plummeting Pulp: The latest six-month Audit Bureau of Circulation figures showed a drop of 8.74% in average daily circulation for 602 newspapers, as publishers battle declining print advertising revenue, eroding circulation and the migration of readers to free news on the web.
Among the 25 largest papers ... (more >>>)
Quote Of The Day is from Frank J.: "Conservatives tend to treat as hobbies what liberals treat as occupations."
Monday April 26, 2010
Car Sightings: Followed a Nissan Cube into Battle Ground last week. From the rear, it is one of the oddest-looking cars I've encountered since they stopped importing Citroëns. A few minutes later a Kia Soul passed from the other direction. The Soul is distinctive and individualistic without being totally weird. It's five inches longer than the Cube yet weighs 200 pounds less.
Rough Rails: Randal O'Toole has written: "Previous transportation revolutions - steamboats, railroads, electric streetcars, automobiles - have all increased mobility by reducing the costs of travel. But advocates of rail transit and high-speed rail do not want to increase mobility. Instead, they merely want to substitute their favored forms of travel for existing mobility."
Light rail, Amtrak and high-speed rail (existing systems and proposed ones) "are not creating new mobility, they are merely substituting inconvenient, high-cost mobility for low-cost mobility that is faster and more convenient. That is a fundamentally absurd goal and rail advocates should be ashamed of themselves for promoting it."
In a related story, I recently drove across the TriMet Max tracks at 11th and Holladay near the Lloyd Center Doubletree Hotel and the condition of the track crossing was bone-jarringly awful. TriMet and the city of Portland seem to be in no hurry to fix ... wait, I'm reminded of the famous Lily Tomlin line, "We don't care. We don't have to. We're the phone company." (permalink)
Less Meat: Fuddruckers, a casual dining chain noted for their gigundous burgers, was founded in 1980 but always had a cartoonish '70s feel to it. I didn't know it still existed until I discovered that its owner and some of its affiliates have recently filed for bankruptcy.
Magic Brands said it will use the Chapter 11 bankruptcy "to terminate certain Fuddruckers leases and will close 24 corporate-owned Fuddruckers restaurants by April 30, 2010." Magic Brands operates more than 85 Fuddruckers locations in 11 states. Another 135 Fuddruckers restaurants are operated by franchisees.
I guess one-pound burgers are becoming passé.
"Please Leave A Message; Your Call Is Really Important To Us." The National Federation Of Independent Businesses has reported that small businesses overwhelmingly continue to cite 'Poor Sales' as their number one problem.
Two weeks ago, a friend in Pennsylvania suffered storm damage - six trees came down, two fell on his house. He immediately contacted general contractors and tree removal services. Most of his calls were unreturned.
I experienced the same problem two months ago when our lawn care service unexpectedly closed. With 14+% unemployment around here, you'd think ... (more >>>)
Joke Of The Day is from Jimmy Kimmel: "What's the difference between Obama and his dog, Bo?" Answer: "Bo has papers."
Friday April 23, 2010
Fifty-Five Years Ago: Recently, I watched a video titled: 'Philadelphia Trolleys - 1955'. It was 45 minutes worth of footage (transferred from 16 mm color film) shot in the period 1955-57 by a trolley car enthusiast. While I like trolley cars, I didn't really buy this video to watch the trolleys. I wanted to observe the street scenes of Philadelphia to see if the film matched my memories of growing up there in the 1950s.
The most interesting things about the video were the automobiles. First ... (more >>>)
The Return Of Skippy Roo: Last week, I saw a television spot for Bruce Auto Mart, the reincarnation of Bruce Chevrolet of Hillsboro, Oregon. The shot of the establishment's sign, shows an 'Auto Mart' banner pasted over a bowtie-shaped logo which undoubtedly has the word 'Chevrolet' underneath.
Last July, General Motors gave the Bruce heave-ho, canceling the franchise agreements of 38 dealers who rejected GM's wind-down agreement that was offered to some 2,200 GM dealers. Bruce Patchett, 63, the man with the 'down-under' accent who purchased the dealership in 1980 or thereabouts (it used to be Hamby Chevrolet), "watched a convoy of six trucks carry away 48 brand new General Motors vehicles, while he was planning his transition to a used car dealer."
Bruce is on the comeback trail and his ads still feature Skippy Roo, his wallaby mascot. Skippy was even mentioned in the Patchetts divorce proceeding back in 1998.
While homegrown, Patchett's TV ads are 92% less obnoxious than those of either Ron Tonkin or Dick Hannah, two area mega-dealers. I hope Bruce does well.
Update: In July 2010, General Motors reinstated Bruce as an authorized Chevrolet dealer.
Earth Day 2010: Obama and Biden boarded separate jets in Washington on Earth Day morning to fly 250 miles up to New York, where they will land at separate airports to attend separate events within a few miles of each other.
Jets will be forced to circle and burn more fuel as they wait for the VIPs to come and go.
In 2009, Obama's Earth Day flights burned over 9,000 gallons of fuel.
These two keep telling us how great hi-speed rail travel is. So, how come didn't they take Amtrak's Acela?
And Furthermore ... in honor of said Earth Day, here is a hilarious 4+ minute George Carlin bit ... where he ripped environmentalist wackos to shreds then, for everyone who has ever worked in the plastics industry - including me, explained The True Meaning Of Life:
"The planet will be here for a long, long, long time after we're gone, and it will heal itself; it will cleanse itself, because that's what it does. It's a self-correcting system. The air and the water will recover; the earth will be renewed and, if it's true that plastic is not degradable, well, the planet will simply incorporate plastic into a new pardigm: the Earth plus plastic!
The Earth doesn't share our prejudice towards plastic. Plastic came out of the Earth. The Earth probably sees plastic as just another one of its children. Could be the only reason the Earth allowed us to be spawned from it in the first place. It wanted plastic for itself. Didn't know how to make it. Needed us. Could be the answer to our age-old philosophical question, "Why are we here?" "Plastic!""
Suffocating The Golden Goose: Billionaire casino resort/real-estate developer Steve Wynn made his fortune believing in America and Las Vegas.
Today, Wynn is no longer a Booster, explaining, "The governmental policies in the United States of America are a damper, a wet blanket. They retard investment, they retard job formation, they retard the creation of a better life for the citizens in spite of the rhetoric of the president. ... The economic outlook in the United States, the policies of this administration, which do not favor job formation, do not encourage investment at all."
Mr. Wynn's remarks are just one more indication that the actions of the present Congress and the Obama Administration are smothering this country's entrepreneurial spirit, spewing bad policies like some kind of lethal regulatory volcanic ash cloud, emanating from D.C.
Another Reason ... why I never go to downtown Portland anymore ... (more >>>)
Shocking Fact: John Hawkins has noted that "Taxpayers for Common Sense calculated that the 1970 Defense Appropriations Bill had a dozen earmarks; the 1980 bill had 62 earmarks; and by 2005, the defense bill had skyrocketed to 2,671 earmarks." The entire article is worth a read.
Headline Of The Week: 'If 'Vatican' was the name of a mosque, nobody would care.' Kate McMillan at Small Dead Animals has observed that "Indonesia's largest Muslim organization has just ruled in favor of underage marriages. ... The panel of sharia experts announced there was no age limitation for marriage under Islamic law."
So, explain to me how some wrinkled 70 year-old geezer with a hairy wart on his nose "marrying" an 11 year-old girl isn't pedophilia. And how come Hitchens and Dawkins aren't making noise about Muslim child abuse? (hat tip: Kathy Shaidle)
Joke Of The Day is from Conan O'Brien: "Have you heard about McDonald's' new Obama Value Meal? Order anything you like and the guy behind you has to pay for it."
Wednesday April 21, 2010
Minority Motorama: Since all of us now own a piece General Motors, this story is about our money being wasted.
In what organizers said was the first event of its kind in the area, "Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit teamed up Sunday with GM and the GM Minority Dealers Association to offer churchgoers a chance to test drive more than a dozen cars."
After a cruise in a shiny maroon 2010 Chevrolet Camaro, Indira Murray was all smiles. "It's a beautiful car," the 38-year-old Detroit resident said. "I love it. When I get a job, I might get one." Instant sales analysis: Not a prospect - no job, therefore no money; tentative interest at best, note use of word "might".
"The event was a success," said Bill Perkins, former president of the GM Minority Dealers Association. Really? How many cars were sold? I'd bet none.
This church/car tie-up reminds me of a Janis Joplin's prayerful refrain: "Oh Lord, woncha buy me a Mercedes Benz. My friends all drive Porsches; I must make amends." And since this is Government Motors we're talkin' about, didn't this event violate the chuch/state separation thingie? Oh wait, maybe it's OK to let kids pray in school now - if they are sitting inside a Chevy Tahoe on display. Or a Caddy DTS.
Finally, let's not forget that The Almighty is no friend of GM; he's a Plymouth man. After all, God drove Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden in a Fury.
Time Flies: On Friday, my wife received a postcard mailing inviting her to 'Travel Avalon Class' and see the new 2011 Toyota Avalon, which looks very much like her 2005 but sports chrome door handles and a USB port. Suddenly, Toyota is pushing the Avalon; they've even had ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi whip up some classy 30-second television spots and invented a new tagline: 'Upgrade to Avalon Class'.
Speedy Steam: I updated my Hiawatha locomotive page, adding, "As the new streamlined look caught on, many other sleek steam, diesel and electric trains were built - in the U.S. and overseas. The Mallard, a very swoopy British L.N.E.R. (London & North Eastern Railway) 4-6-2 Pacific-type engine, still holds the world's speed record for steam-powered trains - 126 mph set in 1938."
I also added a 1991 photo of me with the Mallard at the National Railway Museum in York, England.
By the way, the locomotive in one of the new Toyota Avalon commericals has many of the design cues of the second-generation streamlined Milwaukee Road Hiawatha (a Pacific class 4-6-2), although the colors are different. The cool, retro-themed commercial looks like it's set in the 1940s or '50s. The 30-second spot uses a remake of the 1954 hit 'Mr. Sandman' as background music.
Turning Back Time: In the U.S., commercial properties are now selling at mid-2002 prices. Residential properties are selling at Fall 2003 prices.
TV Show Analysis: James Lileks watched this week's episode of '24' and quipped, "In a parallel universe, "24" has ex-Prez "Nixon" arguing with President "Hillary" while "Benazir Bhutto" assumes power." Indeed. And Nixon was also seen having coffee with Putin.
Dave Barry has added: "Last week Jack and Renee finally had sex, and it was a truly romantic and beautiful thing, except for the sniper. A lesson that we all, as Americans, should take away from this tragic episode is: close the blinds." ... Chloe is now in charge of CTU. We think this is great. We wish Chloe were in charge of the whole federal government and routinely tasered it in the butt. Edgar is still dead."
Alas, poor Edgar. I knew him well ... after all he was in 37 episodes. And played FBI agent Skip Lipari in The Sopranos.
Death Panel Prelude: About half the funds to pay for the nation's new trillion dollar health law will come from reduced federal government spending on the Medicare program. The government is cutting payments for Medicare managed-care policies called Medicare Advantage plans. Offered through private companies, they cover over 10 million seniors. The new law proposes $136 billion in cuts to Medicare Advantage over the next decade.
"The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services started the process this month by announcing plans to freeze Medicare Advantage reimbursements to insurers for 2011 at this year's rates."
Here's Obama's strategy: Dear Seniors, Let's face it - while you were working hard, I was in Indonesia. Or at Columbia or Harvard courtesy of a mysterious benefactor. Or was busy community organizing. But now I'm president and you're retired, so thanks for your contributions, but now you're a liability, so please die.
Another 'Hero' With Anti-Semitic Feet Of Clay: Bishop Desmond Tutu, alleged defender of human rights and supposed fighter for the oppressed, has urged UC Berkeley "to divest itself from Israel, based on his years of anti-Semitism it us clear that his rationale is not necessarily any action of the Jewish State, but the method of worship practiced by most of its citizens."
Volcano Musings: The proprietor of the Vulgar Morality blog has written, "We think we know, until it becomes clear we don't. Or rather, it becomes clear our knowledge is parochial, limited in time and space. The world works with an entirely different measure than the human scale. ...
The eruption in Iceland puts more than our knowledge in perspective. It also shatters our bizarre contemporary faith in our power to fix the universe - the belief, shouted from the rooftops and repeated ad nauseam, that picking up litter or riding a bike or spending $100 trillion spending $100 trillion can 'save the earth.'
It's false pride to think we can save nature. We can't even save ourselves, when nature chooses to wreak havoc on our lives."
On a related note, one of The Anchoress' readers made this observation: "Recall what Obama said after healthcare in response to his critics: that the earth had not opened up and that nothing was falling from the sky. That is precisely what happened within days of his mocking pronouncement: the volcano and the Midwest fireball."
RIP: Allen Swift, once the voice of Howdy Doody as well as numerous television cartoon characters, has died at age 86.
'The Godfather 2010': Amerigo Bonasera: "Be my friend ... Godfather?" Vito Corleone: "I don't do Facebook."
Question Of The Day is from Larry the Cable Guy: "How much deeper would the ocean be without sponges?"
Monday April 19, 2010
Baltimore Y: Paul Niedemeyer at TTAC reviewed a 2011 Toyota Camry which he rented at the Baltimore Airport. Wow, that brought back memories for me.
In 2001, I arrived at Baltimore International and headed to Thrifty to pick up my requested rental compact, which would have been something like a Hyundai Elantra or Nissan Sentra. After waiting and waiting, the manager appeared, apologized for the delay (our designated compact wouldn't start) and said he was treating us to a "seven car upgrade."
I figured we'd get a Bentley. What we got was a Camry. Well, at least the name ended with a Y. For the remainder of the trip, we referred to our black Toyota rental car as The Bentley. The Camry was fine - easy to drive, no complaints - and the price was right - less than $100 per week.
While Dante was familiar with the seven terraces of Mount Purgatory in The Divine Comedy, I am unable to identify the levels of automotive suffering which lie between an Elantra and a Camry. (permalink)
When Food Goes Bad:
Late News ... I mean really late news: I just found out that Bailey Banks and Biddle, the venerable jewelry store went out of business last fall. BB&B was shut down as part of the bankruptcy of jewelry chain parent Finlay Enterprises.
I have an sterling silver cup, engraved with my name and given to me the year I was born. It came from Bailey Banks & Biddle in Philadelphia. The jeweler had been located on historic Chestnut Street ever since its founding in 1832, when Joseph T. Bailey opened his silversmith emporium with a mere $28 of product on hand.
Violets Are Blue; Your Money's Wasted Too: The Institute of Museum and Library Science gave a $1 million taxpayer-funded grant "aimed at promoting conservation through poetry" to five zoos.
On a related note, the amount of taxpayer dollars being funneled to a Massachusetts shrine to the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy has ballooned to $38 million and could rise to at least $68 million by year's end.
Or more: "The new taxpayer-funded total would cover the full $60 million estimated cost of building the project, adjacent to John F. Kennedy Presidential Library at Columbia Point. And it would put the public on the hook for nearly half the project's $150 million target."
No word on whether there will be a water feature with a '67 Olds Delta 88 at the bottom of it.
What Recovery? The Obama Administration claims to have added 75,000 jobs in Washington state. The reality is that 84,000 jobs have been lost. On the plus side, red ink manufacturers are adding extra shifts and bankruptcy attorneys are hiring.
Speaking Of Washington State ... there's my Senator, Patty Murray. I've stopped writing to her because anytime I ask her to support a given position, she votes the opposite.
Paula Gardner at 'It's Only Words' has noted: "A visit to Murray's campaign Web site today turned up this strange statement: 'All contributions made through PattyMurray.com are regulated by California election law.'
Weird, don't you think? If not Federal law, why not Washington? As it turns out, Murray's site is hosted by a California firm, Trilogy Interactive. Because, apparently, there's not a single Washington firm good enough for Patty Murray."
You would think that in tech-savvy Washington state, which is chock full of web developers and has an unemployment rate exceeding 10%, Ms. Murray would choose to support her talented but underemployed constituents. "But nooooooo!" as the late John Belushi would have said.
So much for Patty caring about Washington businesses, eh? What a disgrace.
PS: Patty Murray is up for reelection this Fall. This guy is an experienced, reliable conservative and a good alternative. His website was created by a firm in Olympia, WA. Don Benton also has interesting campaign videos, like this one.
Joke Of The Day is from David Letterman: "The most positive result of the 'Cash for clunkers' program was that it took 95% of the Obama bumper stickers off the road."
Friday April 16, 2010
What Are They Smoking Over At Lincoln? In a recent review posted at The Truth About Cars, Michael Karesh wrote, "The logic behind the Lincoln MKZ (formerly the Zephyr) is clear enough: if Toyota can get away with making a Lexus out of a Camry, why can't Ford do the same with a Fusion?"
Here's what got me - the MKZ Karesh tested stickered at $41,000. Are you kidding?! Forty-one grand for a tarted-up little Ford Fusion?! The Lexus ES sells well - priced in the forties - because, as one commenter put it, "Lexus spent plenty of money to truly differentiate it from the (Toyota) Camry it's based on."
For the older members of my exalted readership, I would point out that the MKZ is to the Fusion as the Lincoln Versailles was to the Ford Granada. Were the beloved Mr. Rogers still alive, he would surely have asked his young audience, "Can you say 'trim job'?"
Another TTAC poster wrote, "For $41K I would, without hesitation buy a Hyundai Genesis which is better in every way than the MKZ except for the wonderful Sync system. Heck, for $38K you could pick up a 2009 Genesis with a 375 horsepower V8." Indeed.
'Lincoln: What A Luxury Car Should Be' is becoming a bigger stretch than Gabourey Sidibe in a pair of size 8 ski pants.
Meanwhile, Lincoln is ditching its long-neglected Town Car. You'll find a very nice review of the soon-to-be late, great big Lincoln here. It's no sports car but it is what it is. And that's not so bad, in my view. Chacun à son goût, as they say in France, the better sections of Haiti and certain parts of Canada.
Like Jack Baruth and many of his TTAC commenters, I'm a Town Car fan. I once bought a '79 Williamsburg Edition as a joke. It was a comfortable and pleasing Interstate cruiser, so we kept it for almost three years.
My teenage kids used the trunk of a rented TC as a fort during a visit to Philadelphia in 1984.
I rented Town Cars many times in the '80s and '90s. These days, whenever we fly out of Portland, we leave our personal cars at home and use a car service, usually riding in a sedate and roomy Town Car L. It's a stress-free and enjoyable ride and - based on the prices charged for long-term airport parking - it's a cheaper alternative for long trips.
I might have considered buying a TC if Lincoln had kept the model up to date. Back in 2001, I suggested a redesign, laying out specifications and even posting an old 1996 rendering of what I thought the next Town Car should look like. Fourteen years later, my proposal still looks better than Lincoln's current, bulbous design.
As for the MKZ, the people who conceived this product have no clue as to the proud Zephyr heritage from whence it sprung. Lincoln's current dismal sales level is a consequence of management's ignorance. (permalink)
AAA Madness: Remember when the American Automobile Association restricted their external efforts to lobbying for better roads and selling car fire extinguishers? Seems the motoring club has truly lost its way.
The first signs of rot appeared years ago. (permalink)
Don't Forget To Pollute: Today is the beginning of World Earth Week and, over at Iowahawk, the delightful Mr. Burge is running The 5th Annual Iowahawk Earth Week Virtual Cruise-In. I've already submitted my Plymouth as an entrant and I urge you to offer up any ozone-depleting vehicles you may own.
I plan to put some miles on the ol' '39 over the next several days and will earnestly try to melt a glacier or two and enlarge the hole over Antarctica. (I've already taken it for a spin this morning.)
Hold your breath, Gaia!
Update: My car's been posted along with many other awesome polluters - go here to see 'em all.
Mooch Nation: Kathy Shaidle has a wonderful saying which she periodically uses as a headline: 'The 'poor' are the rich Jesus warned you about'.
Kathy has posted something recently written by a postal carrier, "Given my job, I see every day the moochers among us. Many get their housing cheap or free. Regular checks from the federal government. Checks from the state and local agencies. Utility assistance. Cheap or free healthcare. So on and on. Yet many ... (more >>>)
Never Underestimate A Volcano: Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull, the so-called "lazy" volcano has awakened and erupted, sending up a huge ash plume that's forced flight cancellations all across northern Europe, for fear that large particles in the drifting plume could clog jet engines. All air traffic in the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark has been grounded.
The eruption also melted large chunks of a glacier, forcing 800 Icelanders to flee the resultant flooding. Environmentalists are worried about ... ummmmm ... Global Cooling.
I remember 30 years ago, when Mt. St. Helens first came back to life with some rumbles and smoke, people in the Pacific Northwest made jokes about the unobtrusive little mountain, which was dwarfed by its big cousins, Rainier and Hood. Until May 18th, when all hell broke loose.
I hope the air traffic disruption doesn't become the death knell for financially-troubled British Airways, which has just seen a year of record losses, work stoppages which have cut into its flight schedules and a pension fund which is underfunded by billions of dollars.
Specter Of Failure: Dick Morris has written, "Arlen Specter has been a turncoat and a buffoon who has been in the United States Senate for far too long." Amen, brother.
In 2009, fearing that "Republican voters would throw him out of the Senate in the 2010 election, Specter made a strategic decision to renounce the Republicans and switch to the Democratic Party to try and stay in the Senate. ... Specter's formal announcement of his resignation from the Republican Party gave new meaning to the word obnoxious."
In an astounding display of chutzpah, Specter rudely took a swipe at the Pennsylvania Republicans who had loyally elected him over and over again: "I'm not prepared to have my twenty-nine-year record in the United States Senate decided by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate," he said, "not prepared to have that record decided by that jury." This made him as popular as a skunk at a Sunday school picnic.
Those like me, who lived in the Philadelphia area in the 1960s and 70s, remember when Arlen Spector was the local district attorney. He was a self-aggrandizing jerk then and, apparently he hasn't improved with age.
Single-zig-zag-bullet Spector once represented the infamous "unicorn killer," Ira Einhorn, who remained at large for years after Specter successfully argued his bond should be reduced to $40,000. Always the strategist, Arlen dropped Einhorn as a client just before getting back into politics.
Specter loved television face time and, in my memory, seemed to be on the news every night. Long-time Philadelphia residents are waaaaay-too-familiar with the Arlen-and-Joan show. His wife was a former food columnist for the old Philadelphia Bulletin and owned a pie shop, for which the pair relentlessly sought free publicity.
I look forward to watching unaccountable, deplorable Arlen get tossed out come November. (permalink)
Update: Snarlin' Arlen's Reign of Terror is over.
Perfect Fit: So, 78 year-old Liz Taylor wants to get married for the ninth time and 76 year-old Larry King just filed for a divorce from marriage number eight. Why don't the two of them get together and tie the knot?
Think of the savings just from being able to buy Depends in bulk. (permalink)
Requiescat In Pace: Ray Hickey, former owner of Tidewater Barge Lines and a prominent Clark County philanthropist, has died at age 83.
He donated more than $20 million to spur local projects, including the wonderful Ray Hickey Hospice House in Vancouver, WA. (permalink)
Quote Of The Day is from Thomas Sowell: "If increased government spending with borrowed or newly-created money is a "stimulus," then the Weimar Republic should have been stimulated to unprecedented prosperity, instead of runaway inflation and widespread economic desperation that ultimately brought Adolf Hitler to power."
Wednesday April 14, 2010
No Truck Required: It was high time to get rid of my old 1997 computer system - scanner, computing tower, CRT monitor, color ink jet printer, humongous b&w 300 dpi laser printer from 1991, external ancillary Zip drive, speakers, lamp, page holder, keyboard and mouse. We need the room and I haven't used that ol' Apple computer in years. I hated to get rid of the system; back in the day, it was quite state of the art (Performa 6400 with 3.2 gigabytes fer Pete's sake) and the complete package cost almost $7,000. But, by 2003, it was slow and obsolete. I replaced it with something newer, keeping the old one around because it had RCA plugs for jacking in my old video camera and capturing still images. But I haven't used that feature in ages.
When one of my friends found out that I planned to load everything into our Toyota Avalon for the trip to the recycling center, he was appalled. He told me that I really needed a pickup truck. He has repeated this mantra every time I talk about moving anything; he's been trying to get me to buy a truck for 20 years (when he's not complaining about all the problems with his pickup trucks, that is). My response is always the same: nonsense. I've been moving stuff for over 45 years. I rent an appropriate-sized truck when I need one; I think I've rented three of them in my life.
I used to be able to haul an incredible amount of stuff in our VW Beetles, I'd simply remove the passenger seat and fold down the rear seat. Brought home four bales of hay once. These days, if I have to haul something big, I use my '39 Plymouth business coupe which has a huge trunk. But the Avalon has a decent-size, usable trunk and all computer paraphernalia fit inside with no difficulties.
When everything was packed up, I took a photo and sent it to my pickup buddy.
Had I not purchased the computer and peripherals and bought Apple stock instead in 1997, my $7,000 investment would now be worth over $394,000.
Book Review: 'Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong' by Terry Teachout. The Louis Armstrong I remember was an aging black gentleman who played a pretty good trumpet on the Ed Sullivan Show, usually in between Señor Wences and a plate-spinning act. By then Armstrong was well-past his prime and, like many elder performers, relied on playing his old stand-bys rather than keeping up with the times.
I found this biography to be quite an eye-opener ... (more >>>)
Taxing Matters: Sixty years ago, if you were on the dole, you'd have to travel down to the unemployment office and stand in line to pick up your $26 check. Of course, you didn't really net 26 bucks; you had to pay to get to the office and back - 25¢ each way on the trolley car. So, your net unemployment income was, at best, $25.50.
Whenever I read about all the people who allegedly pay no taxes, I wonder how many are retired like me and have previously paid thousands of dollars for advice on how to navigate the angry seas of ever-shifting, illogical tax codes and minimize their personal taxes. And are now drawing income from Roth IRAs, on which taxes were paid in prior years. And pay every year to have their taxes done because the U.S. tax laws are so complicated.
If there were, say, no taxes or Dick Armey's flat tax, you wouldn't have to bear the cost of all this tax help. Paying for tax advice, planning or preparation is, in itself, a form of taxation.
Thirst War: In Cascade Locks (a small Oregon town on the Columbia River), where unemployment is at 18% and high school students have to be bussed 25 miles to the closest school because the local one closed this year due to lack of tax base, Nestle wants to build a bottled water plant.
The residents are all for it - the plant would create construction jobs and 50 permanent positions making it instantly the city's biggest employer. The company would also become the city's biggest taxpayer generating close to $1 million for little Cascade Locks.
But Portland environmental groups are upset and want the evil plant stopped. You know ... that Portland, Oregon - a city which never saw a bioswale, bike path, homeless camp or streetcar that it didn't like.
Greenies are disturbed because ... (more >>>)
Just Wondering: How Many Witnesses Do You Need To Get A Commitment Order? French President Nicolas Sarkozy thinks that Barack Obama is nuts.
"Sarkozy was "appalled" at Obama's "vision" of what the World should be under his "guidance" and "amazed" at the American President's unwillingness to listen to either "reason" or "logic"."
"Sarkozy's meeting where these impressions of Obama were formed took place nearly a fortnight ago at the White House in Washington D.C. Sarkozy in these reports further warns that by Obama's "unrestrained" and "destabilizing" actions an already tense Global situation is growing ever more catastrophic as America's once stalwart allies are being cast aside in favor of a New World Order where instead of the United States securing its vital energy future through conquest and war it will now do so by appeasement to some of the most violent and radical regimes on Earth."
Quote Of The Day is from Morgan at the House of Eratosthenes: "Angry people who demand things, don't stop being angry when their demands are met."
Monday April 12, 2010
Opels & Vauxhalls, Oh My: The General Motors bankruptcy and subsequent government takeover has caused chaos at Germany's Opel and Britain's Vauxhall as these GM children are struggling to live without Daddy's Monthly Stipend.
Both brands are generally off the radar for most Americans, since the marques have been absent from our shores for decades. I had forgotten so much about them that I've had to pick at the scab of my automotive memory. And search reference books for facts and data to support some of my recollections. (more >>>)
British Gas ... is now $9.19 per Imperial gallon. Or $7.65 per U.S. gallon. No wonder they drive little cars with tiny engines.
Legal Flackery: Katie Han, a grunt at 5W Public Relations (a New York-headquartered flack shop claiming to be "one of the 25 largest PR agencies in the U.S."), sent me an e-mail last Friday about the Toyota unintended acceleration litigation. Katie's pitch was that, if I "would like to speak to attorneys who were intimately involved in the decision-making conference, I want to offer you multidistrict litigation veterans, Jim Carter and Stephen Murakami, who have tried extensive cases against the automaker over their 40 year careers.
They can offer you a "behind the scenes" look of the conference (who was pushing, who stands to make BIG money) and how it affected the outcome, in addition to information about the judge, district, and which attorneys are likely to be selected for the panel and reap potential billions in settlement money.
To speak with either attorney regarding this or other matters involving Toyota, please contact me directly and I will arrange accordingly."
The first question that came to my mind was: If these two ambulance chasers are so good, why do they need a PR firm? A little Googling found that the pair work for 'Rights For America', aka 'The Law Offices Of Robert H. Weiss, PLLC', described as "a national law firm with offices in Atlanta, Washington, DC and New York, which serves as the center of an organized network of joint venture attorneys and world renowned experts specializing in Mass Torts and Securities Litigation."
The Rights For America 'about us' page carries this disclaimer: "Client ultimately responsible for expenses." The firm's practice areas include: Toyota Recall, Bisphenol-A, Mesothelioma, Birth Trauma, Brain Injury, Dangerous Drugs, Contaminated Foods, Faulty Tires, Serious Accidents and Financial Fraud.
Draw your own conclusions.
The Trouble With Lithium: The Gospel according to Neo-Enviro-Futurists is that we will soon drive plug-in electric cars chock full of miraculous lithium battery goodness. We'll be reducing our oil dependency on foreigners and Life Will Be Swell.
If only that were true. In the 1950s, the world's primary source of lithium was North Carolina, much of it from a mine in the town of Kings Mountain. The soft metal, vital to the military's H-bomb program, was laboriously extracted from spodumene, a silicate mineral occasionally used as a gemstone. By the mid-1970s the U.S. was producing about 2,900 tons of lithium per year.
Until 10-15 years ago, lithium was a minor commodity, used in small quantities by manufacturers of glass, grease and mood-stabilizing drugs. Demand has skyrocketed as BlackBerrys, cell phones and iPods have become middle-class staples. Between 2003 and 2007, the battery industry doubled its consumption of lithium carbonate, the most common ingredient used in lithium-based products.
Today, Chile is the Saudi Arabia of lithium. Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile S.A. is a Chilean fertilizer and mining company that produces nearly a third of the world's lithium carbonate. Lithium is also found in Bolivia and northern Tibet.
Paul Ausick has written, "The U.S. has very little in the way of lithium deposits, and would need to import the mineral if the batteries were going to be built in this country. Far more likely is that lithium would be sent to manufacturing facilities in Asia and the finished batteries exported to the U.S. ... What to make of all this? Lithium, though relatively expensive, is also available in sufficient quantities for the near term. But if the automobile fleet were to transition to large numbers of EVs, the demand for lithium would rise dramatically and so would the cost."
If gasoline is America's heroin, lithium may be our methadone - just a different, equally-addictive demon.
Connecting The Dots: David P. Goldman (aka 'Spengler') has written about 'The Obamalypse'. "Obama wants to remove Israel's nuclear capability while permitting Iran to acquire one."
David warns of the consequences of this philosophy: "We end up with a nuclear-armed Iran to which both Afghanistan and Iraq orient. It's astonishing. Why did America care about central Asian Muslims to begin with? We had an interest in Persian Gulf oil. Then we decided to 'democratize' Iraq and Afghanistan and deployed hundreds of thousands of soldiers. Now we supposedly have to appease Iran in order to protect the soldiers who were there to democratize Iraq because we had an interest in the oil - and we end up with Iranian nuclear weapons controlling the Persian Gulf! It is as insane a progression as ever has been presented in political logic."
Goldman concludes, "I've been screaming about this for more than two years: Obama is the loyal son of a left-wing anthropologist mother who sought to expiate her white guilt by going to bed with Muslim Third World men. He is a Third World anthropologist studying us, learning our culture and our customs the better to neutralize what he considers to be a malignant American influence in world affairs." (hat tip: American Digest)
Quote Of The Day is from William F. Buckley: "A liberal is someone who wants to reach into your shower and adjust the temperature of the water."
Thursday April 8, 2010
Sharknose: Like many automotive businesses, Graham-Paige struggled during the Great Depession. It was decided that a substantial and distinctive restyle would increase sales of the faltering brand.
Murray Corporation was a major body supplier to Lincoln, Ford, Reo, Hupmobile, Hudson and, of course, Graham-Paige. Amos Northup of Murray was charged with designing a new Graham model for 1938. He was a well-known and respected designer with stints at Pierce Arrow, Wills St. Claire and Willys. Northup had helped style the Model A Ford as well. But his untimely death left the new Graham project partly-completed; the final touches were executed by body engineer William Nealey.
The result was the radically restyled Model 97, which the company dubbed 'Spirit of Motion'. The new car looked like ... (more >>>)
OMG - He's Channeling My Thoughts: Bill Visnic of Edmunds visited the New York Auto Show and offered several observations which parallel my impressions.
Weighing in on the recently-redesigned big Infiniti SUV, Bill wrote, "The QX56's acres of bulbous metal, chrome and goofy styling gee-gaws makes a profoundly inane impression that might be summarized as Infiniti's vision of melding the weirdness of its Cube with the '90s cluelessness of the Lincoln Navigator."
He doesn't like the Nissan Juke either: "The horrid little Juke mini-crossover with its flaky front and cruddy interior might even sell exactly to whom it's supposed to sell, first-job, slackers and slackettes who weren't slayed by the Cube after all."
Echoing my disdain for GM's long-standing practice of showing cars over and over long before the public can buy them (Camaro, Volt, etc.), Bill opined, "GM's Chevrolet division overplayed the introduction of the 2011 Cruze Eco and an RS trim package - hyperbole about variants of a car that's been so excruciatingly long in coming, yet still isn't even on sale yet, is just grating."
Visnic took another well-deserved shot at GM: "And does Cadillac have no more pressing business than ensuring the world gets a V-Series variant of the CTS Sport Wagon? It's sure to be the vehicle of choice for all the emergent "car-guy" GM executives, but this is one vanity project the government should have stepped in to derail."
How Do You Say 'Fugly' In German? Jeremy Clarkson has described the Porsche Panamera four-door ... ummm ... sedan as "so hideous to behold that you'd never want to drive past a shop window in case you caught sight of its reflection."
Sadly, this vehicle looks even worse in person than in photos.
¡Three Amigos! Carmakers Renault SA, Nissan Motor Co. and Daimler AG have entered a wide-ranging alliance to help each other gain ground in the growing but fiercely competitive market for small, fuel-efficient vehicles. The partnership will focus on sharing the development and production of chassis and engines. There will be some minor cross-shareholding as well, giving the three companies a small, symbolic stake in each other.
Peter De Lorenzo is skeptical of the arrangement: "Daimler has proven convincingly that they don't play well with others and Carlos Ghosn is not known for seeing other points of view all that well. It's 50-50 we'll be writing about this train wreck three years from now."
California Sunset: In March, the last car rolled off the production lines at California's sole auto plant, the New United Motor Manufacturing (NUMMI) plant in Fremont. The plant began 25 years ago as a joint venture between Toyota Motor Corp. and General Motors Co. in a shuttered GM plant which had produced Camaros and Firebirds.
Once the Golden State, California used to be a beehive of industrial activity. Ford had ... (more >>>)
The Price Of Parking (And Other Inconveniences): A letter writer to The Vancouver Voice complained, "As a resident of the downtown Vancouver area, as well as a former employee of a local coffee shop, and a frequenter of shops, restaurants, bars, and movie theaters, this issue of paying to park is one that hits close to home. There are only one-hour parking meters in front of the shop where I worked, and because of this, I was constantly running outside to plug my meter."
She didn't seem to realize that every time - as an employee - she took a parking space, she reduced the number available for customers. But that's because most downtown Vancouver businesses don't have alleyways where employees can park behind the premises.
That said, downtown Vancouver is dying because ... (more >>>)
What Friendly Skies? US Airways is no longer accepting cash for inflight meals; only credit and debit cards will be accepted for food and beverage purchases.
Geezer Joke: An older couple were lying in bed one night. The husband was falling asleep but the wife was in a romantic mood and wanted to talk. She said, "You used to hold my hand when we were courting."
Wearily, he reached across, held her hand for a second and tried to get back to sleep.
A few moments later she said, "Then you used to kiss me."
Mildly irritated, he reached across, gave her a peck on the cheek and settled down to sleep.
Thirty seconds later, she said, "Then you used to bite my neck."
Angrily, he threw back the bed clothes and got out of bed.
"Where are you going?" she asked.
"To get my teeth!"
Quote Of The Day is from Steven Wright: "I plugged my phone in where the blender used to be. I called someone. They went "Aaaaahhhh ...""
Tuesday April 6, 2010
March Madness: Car sales zoomed last month, to 11.8 million units on a seasonally adjusted annual rate - a 14% bump from the February SAAR.
General Motors sales jumped almost 21% from a year ago. Chevrolet sales were up 41%; Buick was up 76% and Cadillac rose 42%. But fleet sales played a very large role in the boost; GM's fleet sales increased 64% in March. The Camaro won the ponycar race in March: 8,267 units versus 5,829 Mustangs and 3,211 Challengers.
Ford Motor Co. says its U.S. sales rose 43% in March thanks to strong demand for its Fusion, Taurus, Focus and Mustang models. (Ford brand sales led the way with a 46% increase, while Lincoln climbed 19% and Mercury rose 26%.) The Ford Fusion (22,773) handily outsold the Chevy Malibu (17,750 units). Overall, FoMoCo was up 38% in retail sales and 53% in fleet.
In Ford's Northwest Region (Oregon & Washington), car sales were up 53%; sport utility sales were up 46% and truck sales rose 30%.
Hyundai's sales rose 15%, propelled by sharply higher demand for its newly released Sonata sedan and its Tucson small SUV. Kia jumped 23%. Subaru sales were up an impressive up 46%, while Nissan's sales grew by 44%.
Toyota Sales increased by 41% (3,124 Avalon models sold, compared with 7001 Ford Tauruses sold); Lexus sales jumped 42% (894 LS models sold). Two weeks ago, the mainstream non-automotive media was reporting that Toyota was 'buying its way back with incentives'. This turned out to be a major exaggeration. The firm's incentive spending per vehicle was almost $500 per car less than the industry average. Chrysler, Ford and General Motors put $1,000-1,200 more on the hood of their vehicles than Toyota did.
Honda sales were up 22%; 29,120 Accords were sold (outselling Civic and Fit combined). That figure included 2,587 Crosstour models, handily outsold by the Toyota Venza's 5,227 units. A mere 163 Acura RLs were sold in March.
Chrysler LLC didn't benefit from the buying frenzy, with U.S. sales falling over 8% last month compared with a year earlier.
Sales of the Dodge Caliber dropped 12% to a dismal 2,932 units - a far cry from the heyday of its Neon predecessor when sales of 15-20,000 units per month were common.
Smart sales were down 61% to 677 units. Dealers report that prospects are harder to find than Edgar Winter in a blizzard.
Jaguar dropped 16% to 983 cars sold in the U.S. In 2004, Jaguar sold about 120,000 vehicles per year worldwide. About 30% of those cars came to the U.S. Last year, Jaguar sales dropped 21%; only 51,885 units were sold throughout the world - 11,955 in the U.S. How the mighty have fallen.
"Just who is in charge of Buick?" Jerry Flint asked General Motors and wrote an interesting article about it. Hint: The short answer is "No one." Excerpt: "If you're in the army and your company goes into attack, you don't want it to be led by 10 independent corporals who just got their stripes. You want a captain who knows the territory, who's in command, who you'll follow to hell and back."
Buick sales have been tanking badly since the early 1990s. In an 2009 post, titled 'Nobody Cares', I posted a graph showing Buick's steady and steepening sales decline.
Book Review: 'Banquo's Ghosts' by Richard Lowry and Keith Korman. I read a lot of fiction - there's always a paperback on my bedside table - I just don't usually write about it. I'm making an exception ... (more >>>)
What If He's Not Another Jimmy Carter But Someone Else Entirely? Advertising Legend Jerry Della Femina (his book 'From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor' is a classic) has been pondering the legacy of Barry O.
Jerry wrote, "Separated at birth: Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev and Barack Obama. Both young, dynamic, smarter and smoother than their predecessors. Both had a Masters in Law. Both have received the Nobel Peace Prize. Gorbachev, after he destroyed his evil empire; Obama before he destroys our wonderful country.
From the very beginning both promised change.
As Barack Obama has done 23 years later, Gorbachev first concentrated on health care reform. In Gorbachev's case it was an anti-alcohol campaign. What could be more popular and more admirable than a campaign to stop the consumption of alcohol, which was destroying the livers, and productivity, of millions of Russian men, women and children? It's right up there with providing overnight health care benefits for 30 million uninsured Americans as the right thing to do."
He concluded, "In the end, Gorbachev piled new regulations and ministries on top of the old, and never allowed private property and real buying and selling."
Yuri N. Maltsev once wrote: "The sad legacy of Marxism is the mindset of certain people, both in the East and West, who believe that the state can cure all economic ills and bring about social justice."
Pansy Pitch: Big Fir Hat described the video of Obama throwing out the first pitch at the Washington Nationals season opener yesterday as "the most horrific presidential footage since the Zapruder Film."
Barry throws like a girl ... a frail Kenyan girl.
Another One Bites The Dust: Leonardo's Italian Restaurant in Battle Ground is out of business.
What Goes Around ... Professional singer/slut Madonna wants her teenage daughter Lourdes to show less skin. Madonna said: "If anything, I wish she'd dress more conservatively. ... [Lourdes' style is] inspired by kids she sees in hip-hop and ballet classes, European influences, bands she listens to. You could say it's in the DNA - but I could never tell her how to dress."
For some reason, this brings to mind the exchange in the movie 'Evita', where Madonna her-own-self plays Mrs. Perón:
Eva: "Did you hear that? They called me a whore! They actually called me a whore!"
Italian Admiral: "But, Señora Perón, it's an easy mistake. I'm still called an admiral, though I gave up the sea long ago."
"Hello, Angels." Actor John Forsythe, best known for his roles as playboy lawyer Bentley Gregg in the 1957-61 television series 'Bachelor Father', as conniving patriarch Blake Carrington in 'Dynasty' and mysterious unseen millionaire Charles Townsend in 'Charlie's Angels', has died at age 92.
Bad Pun of the Day: I suffer from kleptomania but, when it gets bad, I take something for it.
Sunday April 4, 2010
Happy Easter: For almost 40 years, it has been a tradition at our house to dye and decorate eggs for Easter. This year, my kids made me this Top Gear-themed delight:
My daughter suggested the idea; my son did the execution. I love it!
Thursday April 1, 2010
The Sad Tale Of The Chuffley-Waite: I first wrote this fictitious story as a contribution to a car club's April newsletter in 1989. It begins thusly:
Since its founding in 1903, the Chuffley-Waite Motorcar Company, Ltd. of Bumpford-on-Thames, England had been known for the very powerful motorcars which it produced. The sheer might of these cars was symbolised in the radiator ornament used - a nickel-plated locomotive.
For many decades, these automobiles were purchased by men of power who could be seen roaring up and down the motorways forcing lesser cars off to the roadside, much like medieval times, when indentured serfs would throw themselves off the footpath, anxiously tugging their forelocks as royalty approached and passed.
The Chuffley-Waite was so famous that it was celebrated in many ... (more >>>)