Friday October 29, 2010
AutoSketch: Holding Pattern - 1956 Ford
The 1955 model year was a stellar period for American automobiles. Chevrolet and Plymouth sported all-new bodies and, for the first time, V-8 engines. Ford offered a substantial restyle with interesting side chrome, prehensile fins and a wraparound windshield but the basic body was based on the 1952 model. While Ford's engines were more powerful than the prior year, Ford's overhead-valve V8 had debuted in the '54 models.
Plymouth and Chevy received some style updating in 1956, as did Ford. But it was a holding action until the next big restyle ('57 for Ford and Plymouth, '58 for Chevrolet.)
For '56, the eggcrate grille featured on the 1955 Fords was widened into a series of rectangles, but this subtle exterior change was nothing compared to Ford's adoption of a 12-volt electrical system across the line. A 223 cubic inch, 6-cylinder and three different-displacement (272, 292, 312) V8 engines could be had. All Fords rode on a 115.5 inch wheelbase and had an overall length of 198.5 inches.
One of the most popular '56 models was the Fairlane Victoria coupe shown in the sketch. Over 645,000 Fairlane models were sold that year. A new addition at midyear was the Town Victoria 4-door hardtop model which, along with the new Customline 2-door hardtop coupe, were meant to compete with the Chevrolet Bel Air models. The flagship Plexiglas-roofed Crown Victoria Skyliner's sales plummeted with just 603 '56 models made; it would be replaced by a retractable hardtop with the Skyliner appellation the following year. 58,146 Sunliner soft top convertibles found buyers in 1956.
Ford was the only ... (more >>>)
Howdy, Audi: Consumer Reports has reported that Audi is one of the least reliable vehicle brands, scoring second worst on CR's latest chart, just one slot above Chrysler. "Nearly three-quarters of the Audi models Consumer Reports analyzed were below average. The A6 3.0T with the new supercharged 3.0-liter V6 was tied with the Jaguar XF for the worst new car prediction score."
This squares with what I've heard from Audi owners for years: after 40-50,000 miles, the whole car starts to fall apart. Many of the broken items are minor in nature - electric side mirror motors, for example - but the failures are annoying and the fixes are ungodly expensive.
Audi has never been on my radar as far as ownership goes. That big Audi grille makes the car look like an old Dual-Ghia slicked back with Brylcream.
"In the new survey, based on 1.3 million vehicles, 90% of Fords, including Lincoln models, have at least average reliability. As a brand, Ford now outranks Mazda and Nissan and ranks just below Lexus. Its quality renaissance has been led by the Fusion, a design that has been very reliable since its debut five years ago."
Kudos to Ford. Now go revive Lincoln and make it an aspirational brand again.
In an interview, David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports Auto Test Center noted that the reliability of all vehicles has improved dramatically in the past decade or so. Champion said when he joined the magazine in 1997, the average vehicle had 28 or 29 consumer complaints per 100 vehicles sold. Today, the average is 14 or 15.
Champion also said that reliability plays a pivotal role in customer loyalty. The survey asks if the owner if they would buy the same vehicle again.
Anchor Baby: In a recent interview, Katie Couric, failing CBS news anchor, actually said she is touring "this great unwashed middle of the country" to learn about the mood at the midterms.
This is just another reason why I no longer watch network news, especially when it originates from that New York - D.C. bubble of isolation. The disdain and/or contempt for the remainder of the U.S. - except for Hollywood - is almost palpable.
Many of its inhabitants think that the world ends in western Maryland. On their maps, areas west of it are marked: Here Be Dragons.
It also explains why Nielsen ratings for network news shows are in the toilet.
I became very aware of this phenomenon when we moved to Oregon. In those 1978 pre-CNN, pre-internet and pre-FoxNews days, it was the three networks or zip. Or Newsweek, the Oregonian or the Corvallis Gazette Times, which were all pretty much the same as zip.
In 1981, when Linn County Oregon was suffering with 27% unemployment, Dan Rather would appear on the tube, wearing a v-necked sweater - because consultants said it made him look more warm and less reptillian, and announce that the "mild U.S. recession seems to be abating."
After his show, I had to Windex the TV screen to remove my angry spittle.
The CBS tradition of disdain and cluelessness seems to have continued under Ms. Couric's tutelage. But, since I don't watch, it no longer affects me.
And I'm saving money - buying less Windex. (permalink)
Don't Forget To Vote: I've already done so but, if you haven't yet, you may find inspiration in this advice from P.J. O'Rourke: "This is not an election on November 2. This is a restraining order. Power has been trapped, abused and exploited by Democrats. Go to the ballot box and put an end to this abusive relationship. And let's not hear any nonsense about letting the Democrats off if they promise to get counseling."
Actually, I did vote for one Democrat, an upstanding candidate who had far superior credentials than his Republican challenger.
Finally, I would like to remind you that, if you live in Washington state, don't forget to vote for me. I'd look good in a black robe.
Headline Of The Week is from Ace himself at Ace of Spades: 'Naturalized Pakistani Arrested For Plan To Blow Up DC Metro Stations; NPR Takes Opportunity To Re-Fire Juan Williams.'
Bury 'Em, Danno: James MacArthur, who played Danny "Danno" Williams, the calm & reliable second-in-command of the fictional Hawaiian State Police squad 'Hawaii Five-O' in the 1968-'80 television show, has died at age 72.
Quote Of The Day is from Morgan at the House of Eratosthenes: "People who use 'evidence' and 'overwhelming' in the same sentence, are usually selling a bad product."
Thursday October 28, 2010
Shaken, Not Stirred: James Bond's 1964 Aston Martin DB5, that appeared in two classic James Bond movies, 'Goldfinger' and 'Thunderball', was sold at auction for $4.6 million.
"Apparently, the car is fully roadworthy in the UK, even with its dual machine guns behind the driving lights, revolving license plates, ejector seat, rear blast shield, slicer wheel caps and console-activated oil slicks."
As Bond himself said in 'Goldfinger', after knocking a heat lamp into a water-filled bathtub to electrocute a villain, "Shocking! Positively shocking!"
Taste Sensation: Yesterday, I discovered that, if I wash down a prednisone pill with Diet Coke, the whole thing tastes like root beer.
Hmmmm. It made me wonder if drinking root beer would be a substitute for corticosteroid drugs.
Quote Of The Day is from Ernest Hemingway: "Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut."
Wednesday October 27, 2010
Happy Anniversary: MotorWeek aired its 30th anniversary special last week - kicking off the 2011 season. Several video clips from early years were shown. It was apparent that the three men who were there from the beginning - John Davis (now age 62), Craig Singhaus (age 54) and Pat Gauss (probably in his early 60s) - are now balder and fatter than when the show debuted in the Fall of 1981.
Well, I can't chide them about that. I had more hair and less fat in Fall '81, too.
Lisa Barrow, who was a MotorWeek cast member from 1987 to '98 and was the most talented female the show ever had, also appeared in the anniversary broadcast. She is now the East Region Communications Manager at Chrysler and has aged well - looking just fine at age 49.
Please Show No Snow: Portland Transportation Maintenance Operations employees and equipment will be mobilized and participate in a "dry run" event on October 28 to "insure that winter snow and ice plans are understood and complete."
"The media are advised to arrive at 10:30 a.m. for video opportunities. Trucks fitted with chains, plows, and sanders will be run through an inspection station."
Oregon's Tri-Met has an abysmal record when it comes to handling snow and ice. I criticized them for their big troubles during the minor ice storm of January 2005 as well as for the Max line's frozen switches in December 2008.
When I was growing up in Philadelphia, the local transit company could handle all kinds of snow and ice. The good old days were sometimes the best. (permalink)
Happy Birthday, Grandmom: The only grandmother I ever knew (my other one died a year before I was born) had a birthday this month.
She would have been 132 years old, although she always lied about her age and would probably admit to being 127 or so.
Born in Ireland, she emigrated to the U.S. in 1904 and later married a fellow immigrant from her old village. They worked hard, prospered and raised three children.
She was very good to me and bought me my first car - a new 1963 red Volkswagen Beetle, so I could drive to college rather than taking public transit. It cut two hours off my commuting time. Mass transit is not nearly as good as transportation utopians would have you believe.
My favorite story about my grandmother involves a Seinfeldian dating situation.
As a teenager, I was planning to break-up with a girl I was seeing, when her father suddenly died. As the Still-Designated Boyfriend, I was required - by social norms - to put in an appearance and pay my respects. As I was leaving the house to go to his viewing, my grandmother saw me all dressed up, called me over and said, "Have a good time at the dance," as she slipped $10 into my hand.
Thanks for everything, grandmom. Fifty years later, I'm still having a good time at the dance.
Bash TV: Book TV's 'After Words' is usually a calm reasoned affair. An author is interviewed, often by someone with an opposing view. Discourse is civil and the author is treated as a guest should be by a mannered host.
Not last weekend.
Jonathan Alter, Newsweek hack (he's once of the reasons we dropped our subscription several years ago), conducted a rude and hostile interview of Dinesh D'Souza, author of 'The Roots of Obama's Rage'. Alter constantly interrupted D'Souza, pounded him with questions at every turn and when Dinesh attempted to respond, Alter quickly changed the subject.
Dinesh D'Souza calmly took him down by reading passages from Alter's own book to catch nasty Jonathan in his own web of lies.
Alter proved himself a typical liberal full of contempt for another opinion, a bad host and a deplorable jerk with obvious anger management issues. I hope that C-Span2 never invites Jonathan Alter back.
Perhaps he can find solace from his 34 remaining Newsweek readers. (permalink)
Death Spiral: Audit Bureau of Circulations data show that average daily newspaper circulation fell 5% in the six months that ended Sept. 30, compared with the same period a year earlier.
Of the 25 biggest newspapers by circulation, only The Wall Street Journal and The Dallas Morning News posted weekday gains. (permalink)
Support Local Businesses: Adding to the Obamas' busy schedule during the upcoming India trip is Michelle's planned visit to Kamathipura, where she will meet commercial sex workers.
What? Aren't there enough hookers in D.C. to visit?
"Watch Me Pull A Rabbit Out Of My Hat." Alex Anderson a cartoonist who created the characters of Rocky the Flying Squirrel, Bullwinkle and Dudley Do-Right has died at age 90. RIP.
Thought for the Day: There is more money being spent on breast implants and Viagra today than on Alzheimer's research. This means that by 2040, there should be a large elderly population with perky boobs and huge erections and absolutely no recollection of what to do with them.
Monday October 25, 2010
The Town So Nice They Named It Twice: Last week, we traveled to Walla Walla in eastern Washington for a Fall getaway. I put over 650 miles on the Lexus.
Walla Walla is a little college town of 30,000 or so, located in the southeast part of Washington state. Its downtown area offers tree-shaded streets with lots of interesting old buildings. The town is surrounded by verdant rolling hills, wheat fields and a climate suitable for growing both sweet onions and grapes. Our objective was to visit some of the 125 area wineries and purchase drinkables.
The area has been called Napa of the North; there are more than 1,500 acres of vineyards. The Blue Mountains provide a scenic backdrop. The weather was sunny and surprisingly warm during our trip: highs in the mid 60s; lows in the low 40s. Skies were brilliant blue with occasional wispy clouds. Leaves were turning and there were some awesome Fall colors to be seen.
Trip photos are posted here. We also took a side trip to the small but photogenic town of Dayton, WA.
Wining: Washington State is the second-biggest producer of wine in the country (after California). We returned with several cases - a trunkful, actually - of bottled liquefied grapes.
We visited a number of superior wineries which offered good tasting experiences, including Cougar Crest Estate Winery, Reininger, L'Ecole No. 41, Seven Hills Winery, Patit Creek Cellars, Waterbrook Winery, DaMA, Amavi Cellars (at a new scenic location south of town) and the spectacular (wine, scenery and ambiance) Basel Cellars.
On the way to Walla Walla, we stopped at the Maryhill Winery. The balcony off the tasting room offered incredible views of the Columbia Gorge.
Dining: We enjoyed some exceptional meals during our stay.
We tried the Crossroads Steakhouse which offered pleasant food in nicely decorated surroundings. The servings weren't inspired but portions were generous and service was decent.
T. Maccarone's had exceptional food and a very good house wine made by Trust Cellars. But, the menu is less Italian than before and some of the staff seem haughty. I miss Maccarone's "grandma's recipe meatballs" which have gone missing.
We made our annual pilgrimage to Whitehouse-Crawford. The upscale restaurant located in a 1904 planing mill, is still very nice. The basket of crispy fried Walla Walla onions remains a must-have appetizer.
All restaurants have - as you might suspect - a plethora of local wine offerings.
Car Sightings: I passed a 2003 Mercury Marauder just outside Umatilla, Oregon. The big Merc was a Dark Pearl Blue color.
Previously, I had only seen black Marauders on the road.
Also passed a Ford van-based motorhome on I-84 east of Biggs, OR. The RV's model name cracked me up: International Chateau Sport. It made me think of a miniature Loire Valley French castle being towed by a Citroën SM.
Octopusgate: The Inland Octopus of Walla Walla, WA may be the world's best little toy store. Owner Bob Catsiff is cheerful, helpful and obviously loves his business. We buy lots of things every time we go there.
The place is full of whimsical, neat stuff, including lithographed tin toys which are both enthralling yet sharp enough to slash the throats of screaming, ill-behaved toddlers. Just like toys used to be. (This is why children were polite and circumspect in the 1950s.)
Earlier this year, the store relocated a couple of blocks westward in the downtown core. The new building had a plain white front, which Catsiff, working with local artist Aaron Randall, replaced with a mural. The project had been discussed with Walla Walla officials but after the work was done, the city council decided that the colors were too bright and declared the mural a 'sign' which violates the city sign code.
I took a photo of the new store front and posted it here. I like the look of the mural. It is distinctive but doesn't overwhelm the neighboring store facades. The many trees along the street act as visual blending elements.
Most of the populace, including the store's target demographic - children - enjoy the mural. One supporter left his opinion in pink chalk on the sidewalk in front of the store. A legal fight is now brewing.
I think Walla Walla needs more creative merchants like Bob Catsiff. Too many retailers offer the same, so-so merchandise in tired, uninspired surroundings. Inland Octopus is growing because it is clever and novel.
If only all stores were so cool.
All in all, this was a most pleasant trip. (permalink)
Juan Nation Under Fox: Unless you've been comatose in an ICU for the past week, you are aware of the National Public Radio's firing of Juan Williams and the subsequent backlash against NPR. And its parent, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Clever marketing strategists that they are, Fox News jumped in and decided to enhance Juan's contract only hours after his firing, giving him a three-year deal worth $2 million or so. Williams, a relative unknown, has now become a household name and will undoubtedly get a big book deal, too. Good for him. He is generally fair-minded (for a liberal) and was treated shabbily by NPR and its management.
Meanwhile there is much talk of defunding taxpayer-supported NPR. (They get federal money from some surprising budgetary nooks and crannies, including the Department of Education, the Department of Commerce and the National Endowment of the Arts.) Bills to eliminate NPR's funding are to be introduced into both the House and Senate.
Williams' dismissal was prompted by innocuous remarks about Muslims that he made on The O'Reilly Factor. Juan's sacking by NPR energized Bill O'Reilly much like a shark is excited by the smell of fresh chum. Or the way Nancy Grace perks up when some photogenic, unfortunate waif is found murdered in a ditch.
Or how Larry King is awakened from his senior stupor whenever an ancient Hollywood celebrity dies, which sends ol' morgue-skinned Larry on a frantic search for guests to Speak Nicely About The Departed, leafing through his ever-shrinking Rolodex like an obese shut-in going through a worn deck of Deal-A-Meal cards.
I watched The Factor after the news broke and found many parallels between Larry K's Panel of Has-Beens and those who regularly appear on O'Reilly's show.
Quick-witted Dennis 'I-used-to-be on TV' Miller represents Carol Burnett, body language expert Tonya Reiman plays psychic Sylvia Browne, scandal-ridden but smart Dick Morris is cast as Joan Collins and zany, emotional, demons-in-my-past Glenn Beck is - of course - Liza Minnelli. It all fits.
O'Reilly should start wearing suspenders and saying, "Let's go to the phones ... Ames, Iowa - are you there?"
Quote Of The Day is from Robert Benchley: "I am more the inspirational type of speller. I work on hunches rather than mere facts, and the result is sometimes open to criticism by purists."
Tuesday October 19, 2010
Who Styled This Thing? The lizard-eyed Nissan Juke is 2011's ugliest vehicle - a bloated, headless Mafia corpse floating in a charming rural lake full of swans.
It makes the Pontiac Aztek look positively comely.
Hail, Hail, Rock And Roll: Gregory Sullivan has wished a Happy Birthday to Chuck Berry, who turned 84 yesterday.
Berry's hit 'Johnny B. Goode' is the only rock and roll song included on the Voyager spacecraft's golden record. John Lennon once said, "If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it 'Chuck Berry'."
Because he is both a Character and a Legend, there are a million Chuck Berry stories. My favorite is from Bruce Springsteen, who was in one of hundreds of obscure local back-up bands used by Berry in the early 1970s.
Springsteen said that Chuck arrived at the last minute, collected his money up-front and headed onstage. Looking for a set list, Bruce asked him, "What songs are we gonna do?" Berry looked straight at Bruce and replied, "We're gonna do Chuck Berry songs." And then began playing guitar, leaving Springsteen and his bandmates to figure out the song and the key.
Here's a Universal Law: Once you become a Legend, people will make up new legends about you. "Hey, Chuck. This is your cousin, Marvin. Marvin Berry. You know that new sound you're looking for? Well, listen to this ..."
Update: Chuck Berry died on March 18, 2017 at age 90. (permalink)
Short Days Ahead: I took a photo from the back deck, while cooking filets mignon on the grill. It was only 6:10 pm but the sun was already below the horizon and the moon was well on the rise.
There was a chill in the air and I was wearing a sweater. But I drove away the cold with some Bogle Petite Sirah. By 7:00 pm, it was completely dark.
Book Review: 'To Save America: Stopping Obama's Secular-Socialist Machine' by Newt Gingrich.
I enjoy seeing Newt on television. His speeches are logical and full of common sense. I wanted to like his book. My problem is ... (more >>>)
Nearly Departed: The recent transfer of power from Kim Jong-il to his son, Kim Jong-un, indicates that the end is near for the elder Kim and he'll soon be doing lunch in Hell with such luminaries as Pol Pot, Adolf Hitler, Joe Stalin, Mao Zedong, Saddam Hussein and other genocidal maniacs. I hear the Thursday Tex-Mex buffet is really hot.
Kim Jong-il is the pudgy short guy who looks and dresses like a 1960s troll doll. Who does his hair, anyway? Christophe? Vidal Sassoon? Elsa Lanchester?
Following in the footsteps of his dad, Kim Jong-il continued the atrocities committed by the North Korean government. It is expected that Kim Jong-un who was formally confirmed as the heir apparent to his father's position by Yang Hyong-sop, a member of the political bureau of the Workers' Party last week, will continue the tradition of oppression and starvation.
Business Advice - Trade Show In A Box: When my plastics manufacturing business was small and cash-poor, we made lots of errors and missteps but we did one thing which really worked well for us.
It was inexpensive, creative, and it brought us lots more money. We called it ... (more >>>)
Headline Of The Week ... so far, is from The People's Cube: "New polling indicates American voters no longer want change; they just want their money back."
Feed Me! Pat Buchanan has noted that "41.8 million Americans are on food stamps, and the White House estimates 43 million will soon be getting food stamps every month." One out of seven Americans either can't or won't feed themselves.
"In early 1964, a Food Stamp Act was signed into law by LBJ appropriating $75 million for 350,000 individuals in 40 counties and three U.S. cities." By the time Richard Nixon took office, 3 million Americans were receiving food stamps at a cost of $270 million.
"Then CBS ran a program featuring a premature baby near death, and told us it was an infant starving to death in rich America. The nation demanded action, and Nixon acted. By the time he left office in 1974, the food stamp program was feeding 16 million Americans at an annual cost of $4 billion."
When will the madness end? This is another example of the road to hell being paved with good (liberal) intentions.
Quote Of The Day is from Tom Lehrer: "If a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up."
Monday October 18, 2010
Oh, The Days Dwindle Down: On Friday, it was 39 degrees at 7:00 am. The sun overcame the fog and clouds by 10 while I was out running errands, including picking up a new bottle of Sta-Bil.
In the early afternoon, I fired up the Plymouth for a drive. It was sunny but a chilly 50 or so. Definitely sweater weather. Leaves are dropping and more trees are changing color.
By day's end, the thermometer had yet to hit the 60 degree mark. On Saturday night, temperatures dipped to a freezing 32 degrees.
Vote For Me! Those of you who are residents of the great state of Washington have probably spent part of your weekend perusing your copy of the Voters' Pamphlet. You already know that there are candidates running for three positions as WA Supreme Court Judges.
Two positions have candidates running unopposed, including Position 5, for which Chief Justice Barbara Madsen wishes to be reelected.
It disturbs me to see ballots with only one candidate for a particular office or position. It just doesn't seem American.
What bothers me even more is that Barbara Madsen failed to provide proper information about her 1. Legal/Judicial Experience, 2. Other Professional Experience, 3. Education, or 4. Community Service.
Such information was submitted by every other WA Supreme Court Judicial candidate, including Justice Richard B. Sanders, who looks like a skinny Wilford Brimley and - in his Other Professional Experience section - noted that he "once played the French horn in the Rose Bowl."
Barbara Madsen either can't be bothered or deems herself to busy/important to provide such information for the Voters' Pamphlet. Which seems like a snub to the voters.
Her web page states, "Justice Madsen increased opportunities for women and attorneys of color to receive appointments as pro tem judges. She encouraged and increased diversity among the court employee population." It also notes that she has a "commitment to equal justice and diversity" and is "chair of the Washington State Gender and Justice Commission."
I find this diversity stuff dismaying. I want judges to be fair. But I don't care whether the judge looks like the blonde winner of a Nordic Large-Breasted Beauty Contest or is a member of an Earth, Wind and Fire tribute band. Or one of the Village People. I just want my judges to administer the law. And mete out justice. Stern justice, preferably, especially in the case of hardened criminals.
Barbara Madsen also has a Facebook page - something which seems entirely too trendy for a Supreme Court Jurist. She also finds time to Twitter.
But ... fear not, Washington voters. There is an alternative.
Please vote for me as a write-in candidate for Supreme Court Justice, Position 5. I have always been open about my education, experience, etc. You'll find a lot of it posted here. And, if you're a regular reader of this blog, you are already familiar with my philosophy, outlook and opinions.
I promise to recuse myself from any cases involving the Chevrolet Volt.
While I don't have much legal experience, I'm a fast learner and, like Christine O'Donnell, "I'm you." As opposed to Barbara Madsen's "I'm better than you."
Here are other reasons to vote for me for Supreme Court Justice:
• I consider myself to be a pretty supreme guy.
• I have a couple of old Supremes 45 records.
• Whenever 'Baby Love' is on the radio, I turn up the volume and sing along.
• When I take my car to a car wash - I always get the Supreme Finish, which includes hot wax and clearcoat protector. You can't be an effective judge without hot wax.
• I believe in a Supreme Being.
• In my court, criminals will get their just desserts because 'supreme' rhymes with 'whipped cream'.
Thank you for your consideration. (permalink)
Bleak Future: The budget deficit is now $1.3 trillion - about 8.8% of Gross Domestic Product.
Scott Grannis has written that "if and when new programs like ObamaCare kick in, spending is quite likely to reaccelerate, pushing government spending up to about 25% of GDP (or more) on a permanent basis; that would represent a 20% expansion in the relative size of government compared to the average of the postwar period. This is the part of the budget that weighs most heavily on the economy, since government spending is chronically inefficient, and transfer payments - which make up over half of the budget - create pernicious disincentives to work.
Even though the deficit is likely to shrink a bit more as revenues continue to increase, the deficit is very likely to remain large enough to also weigh heavily on the economy, since it is absorbing a significant portion of our savings."
We're mortgaging our children's future. And that's before the effects of inflation.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke claims there's no inflation but commodity prices are soaring and cotton prices hit their highest level since Reconstruction on Friday, as a string of bad harvests and demand from China spark worries of a global shortfall.
"The sudden surge in prices - cotton has risen up to 56% in three months - has alarmed manufacturers and retailers, who worry they may be forced to pass on higher costs to recession-weary consumers. The December cotton contract hit $1.1980 a pound minutes after the opening of trading on the Intercontinental Exchange Inc. on Friday. It is officially the highest price since records began back in 1870 with the creation of the New York Cotton Exchange."
Go Ducks! In this week's AP Top 25 College Football poll, the University of Oregon has taken the top spot for the first time ever in the history of the school, after the prior No. 1, Ohio State was beaten by 31-18 by Wisconsin on Saturday. My daughter is a U of O graduate.
Quote Of The Day is from Randall O'Toole: "The history of transportation shows that we adopt new technologies when they are faster, more convenient, and less expensive than the technologies they replace.
High-speed rail is slower than flying, less convenient than driving, and far more expensive than either one. As a result, it will never serve more than a few marginal travelers."
Friday October 15, 2010
Near-Geezer Market: A recent survey shows that three out of five new car buyers are over 50 years old. This statistic has moved up dramatically from 39% back in 2001.
"On the other side of the spectrum, those 35 and younger account for just 12.7% of all new vehicle purchases, down from 24.4% in 2001."
I bought my first new car when I was 23 years old. I had been working as a Mechanical Engineer for 18 months. My annual salary was 5 times the total cost of the vehicle.
Today, a Mechanical Engineer one and one-half years out of college makes about $60,000 per year. Using the same 5:1 ratio, that would be $12,000 for a new car. There are slim pickings at that price. Until you get up to the $20,000 zone, there aren't have many choices.
My unscientific guess is the greater expensive of automobiles means people wait to buy new cars until they're older. And, with so many 'Select Pre-owned' programs offered by manufacturers, it's often a smart bet to buy used. Plus, used cars hold up much better better than they used to.
Add into the equation extremely burdensome college loans. In my day, most people didn't have student loans at all or had modest ones because tuition - even in today's dollars - was much, much lower.
Speaking of education costs, President Obama has finally admitted that he "realized too late that 'there's no such thing as shovel-ready projects' and perhaps should have 'let the Republicans insist on the tax cuts' in the stimulus."
We taxpayers forked out over $1 trillion - and mortgaged our children's and grandchildren's futures - to "educate" Mr. Obama and the congressional Democrats about how the economy really works.
It's Your Money - Mine Too: As millions of hardworking Americans struggle to make ends meet, Senate staffers participated in a two-day orgy of back massages and organic food tastings this week. It was all part of a health fair for the staffers, who enjoy some of the best health care in the country.
The Senate staffers also are being treated to free seated massages, herbal teas, polarity therapy, low-fat cheese samples and organic foods. A pharmacist and health coach will be available to speak to fairgoers about their medications, nutrition and healthy lifestyle questions.
Vendors provided screenings for visual acuity, chiropractic health, bone density, glaucoma, PSA levels, cholesterol levels and hearing. They'll also find out if their iPods are too loud.
Neither the Senate's Education and Training Office nor the Senate sergeant-at-arms, which oversees the office, would say which vendors provided the services or how much the health fair cost taxpayers.
Just Wondering: Is CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr a relative of the late Irving R. Levine?
Quote Of The Day is from Ronald Reagan: "The government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other."
Wednesday October 13, 2010
Volt - The Shocking Truth: It seems that the reality of the Chevrolet Volt doesn't match the hype. No 230 mpg rating. The all-electric range is less than promised, too. In gas-only mode, the fuel mileage is mediocre.
Many auto journalists feel jolted, Volted and angry: "We were told the Volt would achieve 230 MPG fuel economy and would always use the electric drivetrain to motivate the wheels - only using the onboard gasoline engine as a "range extender" for charging the batteries. It now turns out that not only were those fuel economy claims misleading, but the gasoline engine is actually used to motivate the wheels."
Scott Oldham at Edmunds.com has twittered that "GM lied to the world" about the Volt.
The shortcomings of the Chevy Volt do not surprise me. I have been a witness to General Motors all-hype-all-the time, over-promise/under-deliver insanity for many years. I'm a jaded cynic and tune out the General's claims and predictions.
GM's "just around the corner" or "tomorrow is here today" technology reminds me of past Tall Tales like the GM Firebird gas turbine concept cars - "in 10 years, we'll all be driving gas turbines", the 'radical' Corvair which was supposed to drive the Volkswagen Beetle "back to Deutschland", the Chevy Vega which was gonna fer-sure have a Wankel engine, the mid-engine Corvette which seem to be promised every decade or so, the multi-rotor Wankel Corvette, etc., etc. Yada yada.
General Motors has a long history of toying with the public the way a cat does a crippled baby bird.
In 2008, Eric Felten of the Wall Street Journal wrote of the Volt's design: "After more than a year of hype, GM replaced the Volt prototype with a Prius knock-off sporting all the sex appeal of Agnes Gooch."
The Volt's pricing has now been announced. It's in the $41-45k range, and that doesn't include the faux leopard skin trim option, which would look good on Agness Gooch. Or Peggy Cass, who played her so well.
It'll be interesting to see what kind of price and performance numbers next-year's plug-in Toyota Prius delivers.
"The People Ride In A Hole In The Ground ...": Last week, Gov. Chris Christie killed the controversial, multi-billion dollar Hudson River commuter train tunnel - America’s largest public works project - ending for now the two-decade-old quest to expand train capacity between New Jersey and midtown Manhattan.
Christie continues to lead the Jersey Jacquerie against wasteful bureaucrats.
The governor said, "I have made a pledge to the people of New Jersey that on my watch I will not allow taxpayers to fund projects that run over budget with no clear way of how these costs will be paid for. Considering the unprecedented fiscal and economic climate our State is facing, it is completely unthinkable to borrow more money and leave taxpayers responsible for billions in cost overruns." This project had more flab than a Peter Paul Reubens nude.
Nevertheless, as regular readers know, I've had a lot of experience building train tunnels and they're more complicated than you might think.
Tunnel opponents maintained the project was rushed together so then-Governor Jon Corzine could get a re-election campaign photo opportunity at a ceremonial groundbreaking in summer 2009. They also said the tunnel, which was to end at West 34th Street in Manhattan, lacked connectivity to Penn Station and Manhattan's prosperous east side.
N.J. Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel dubbed it the "tunnel to Macy's basement."
The Sucky Life: My wife's Roomba - the robot vacuum cleaner shaped like a German World War I land mine - stopped working ten days ago. It was hell trying to get any online customer help from the maker, iRobot, but I finally got through to a sensible customer service person by phone. He determined that the Roomba needed a new battery, which I then ordered. The customer rep telephoned later to tell me that he were also sending a "software upgrade kit" for the Roomba.
When we ... (more >>>)
Bad Pun of the Day: Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.
Monday October 11, 2010
Over Two Million Sold: Ten years after its worldwide launch, the Toyota Prius is an unqualified success. With the addition of more models - coupe, delivery vehicle, CUV, etc., Prius could be its own stand-alone brand.
Scion ... not so much. With three models from which to choose, Scion is still handily outsold - over 2 to 1 - by Toyota's single Prius offering.
Rumor has it that the Prius may soon be available in wagon form, perhaps even a panel van. In an era of business eco-awareness as a marketing tool, such a vehicle may be a top seller. I would expect buyers to include florist shops, small package delivery services, couriers, service trucks and parts delivery vehicles. (permalink)
Bubblicious: Gregory Sullivan has posited that there was never a 'housing bubble'.
"There was a government bubble, a banking bubble, a 401k bubble, a credit card bubble ... hell, let's just say we were doing the backstroke in a bathtub full of bubbles and wash our hands of it. You paid good money for worthless things. You got mugged, and you're blaming your split-level two bedroom wallet.
It's widely reported that people used the equity in their home to do all sorts of things, and since the dollar value of houses eventually slumped, it showed the rottenness of the house. No it didn't. It demonstrated the worthlessness of the things the money was lavished on.
You borrowed against your house to send your kid to college. Your kid now lives in your basement eating Cheetos and downloading porn all day instead of out in the workforce, sitting at a desk eating Cheetos and looking at porn on company time as God and Nature intended. But that's a college education bubble. A college loan bubble. You borrowed against a useful and valuable thing, your house, and your children learned Ida Tarbell's bra size, but nothing useful enough to make them employable in a recession."
Separated At Birth? I watched Tom Belesis on Brenda Buttner's 'Bulls & Bears' Saturday. He seems like a smart guy when it comes to financial matters. With his shaved head, big tie and fast-talkin' New Yawk accent, I thought - at first - that he was Daddy Warbucks.
Commercial Deadbeat: A Portland-based investment firm, one of the owners of Vancouver's well-known EastRidge Business Park, is walking away from the upside-down real estate venture.
"Lease revenue wasn't covering the property's monthly mortgage payments," said James Paul, senior vice president with Scanlan Kemper Bard Companies, a private real estate investment firm that purchased a 27-building portion of EastRidge for $62 million in 2006, when the economy was pretty much at its peak. The firm has now defaulted on its $44 million mortgage debt.
In the late 1980s and '90s, EastRidge was thriving ... (more >>>)
Two Reasons Not To Celebrate John Lennon's 70th Birthday: 1. The vacuous and execrable 'Imagine'. 2. Yoko Ono. He might have once been a great talent but, with Yoko and without the other Fab Three, his gift withered and died.
Meanwhile, George is dead, Paul got raked over the coals by his one-legged second wife and, somewhere out there, 70 year-old Ringo Starr is laughing his liver-spotted ass off.
Blacklash: Kathy Shaidle has predicted, "Starting in 2012, and building to a crescendo around 2016-20, the "black community" will start spreading a new conspiracy theory that "whitey" purposely elected unprepared, incompetent Obama so there'd never be another black President again."
Since the Jimmy Carter presidency, America has refused to consider nominating another peanut farmer as a presidential candidate. On the other hand, blacks can take comfort from the fact that, while many Americans despise Mr. Carter, Planter's Mr. Peanut is still a beloved character.
My advice to blacks: Be less like Barack Obama and more like Mr. Peanut. A top hat can do wonders - just ask Duke Ellington or Cab Calloway.
Quote Of The Day is from Steven Wright: "I planted some bird seed. A bird came up. Now I don't know what to feed it."
Friday October 8, 2010
Seasons: There's a fall chill in the air. The days are still warm but temperatures are dipping well into the 40s at night. I have to turn on lights in the morning when I get up. Darkness falls a little earlier each day.
When I drove my '39 Plymouth on my favorite rural route this week, I noticed that the leaves are starting to turn. I suspect within the next two weeks, the change in color will become much more dramatic.
Skies are still blue but it is a darker, more intense and anxious hue than the carefree bright blue of summer.
Fall is my favorite season, though. It is nature contemplating the richness of its yearly accomplishments, following a blooming but messy - like a happy, muddy puppy - spring and a glorious summer that it - and we - hoped would never end.
If nature were human, it would now be sitting on the back deck, swirling a balloon glass of Pinot Noir in late afternoon. It would be wearing a light sweater and appear deep in thought.
Fall mixes comforting nostalgia with trepidation, knowing that winter - the season of death - is not far away. The Plymouth seems to know this too. It is running especially well, somehow realizing that the last ride of the year - and the bitter but good-for-ya taste of Sta-Bil - will soon arrive.
Another Dead Brand: Lionel Trains has announced that the end of 2010 will also mark the end of K-Line products.
K-Line was always positioned as an economy brand in the O-gauge train market, the successor to the old Marx line of trains. In fact, K-Line got its start with some of the old plastic Marx Train tooling.
When K-Line Trains went bankrupt in 2005, Lionel acquired it. But now, the O-gauge market is shrinking, because of the economy and the aging of the customer base.
In an interview with Classic Toy Trains, Jerry Calabrese, Lionel's chief executive officer said ... (more >>>)
Unfare: C-Tran, Clark County's useless public transit company, is getting $4.5 million in federal funds.
The bulk of the money will go toward "replacing aging fare boxes" on some of C-Tran's 105 buses. That probably works out to $50,000 per fare box.
What?! Has C-Tran never heard of ... (more >>>)
Danger, Danger: A list of the 25 most dangerous neighborhoods in America, based on crime statistics, doesn't contain any from New York City - or New York state - despite the buzz about "don't go walking around NYC after dark."
This year, Chicago took the not-so-coveted top spot for the most dangerous neighborhood, while Atlanta had the highest number of neighborhoods making the list. Las Vegas had three neighborhoods making the top 25.
Philadelphia had one, just east of Broad St. near Ridge Avenue. It was ranked the sixth most dangerous neighborhood in America. I went to high school not far from there. My grandfather once owned a bar in the area.
Neighborhoods change - not always for the better.
Anticipating Gridlock: Portlander Jack Bogdanski has an interesting, readable blog, with an oft-left slant. But now he's thinking of voting Republican in solid blue Oregon: "... as for all the things that wouldn't get done in a divided government: Would it be a bad idea to take a breather from the continued poisoning of the state's business climate and from bankrupting the state with more debt for construction pork and government employee fringe benefits?
It would really take a lot for me to vote for a Republican. But this time it's a close call. I'm a proud liberal, but I'm also an adult."
Headline Of The Week: 'Postal Workers Union Election On Hold Over Ballots Lost In The Mail'.
And, For An Appetizer, I'll Have A Stick Of Butter And A Glass Of Gravy: One of the new foods featured at state fairs this year is Deep-Fried Cheddar-Bacon Mashed Potatoes ... on a stick.
I'd suggest pairing it with any box wine from Franzia, perhaps Fruity Red Sangria.
Quote Of The Day is from Frank J. Fleming on time travel: "It would be great to tell the people of 1969 what the space program is like today so they could die knowing they didn't miss anything."
Wednesday October 6, 2010
Lessons From The Car Wash: Long ago, when I was in college, I worked Saturdays at a local car wash. To give you an idea of how long ago it was, the price of a full-service, exterior and interior cleaning was only two dollars.
I worked with the exterior finish-up crew, doing the final touch-up cleaning and drying by hand. As a grand finale, we would open the driver's side door for the customer to get in and cruise off. Most did with a smile on their face - happy to leave with a shiny car (and, hopefully, a tip for us workers).
Some paused to check our work before getting in. Most of these inspectors were very satisfied since we had a good finish-up crew. A few would complain loudly that the car wasn't really clean. Most of these people were driving beat-up cars which hadn't seen soap and water in months. Or years. They were expecting and demanding a miracle.
One of the benefits of my minimum-wage job was ... (more >>>)
Bull Market For Stocks? Investment adviser Ken Fisher has written, "Why do so many fear something that has pretty much never happened? Because we always do that early in a big bull market after a huge bear market. At some later point false fears are seen as that. At that point the rebound will resume. ... As I write, 459 of the S&P 500 firms have reported second-quarter profits, with 75% exceeding expectations, 9% meeting them and only 16% falling short. I expect $82 for earnings this year (after writeoffs) on this index. At a recent 1,085 the index is trading at 13 times current-year earnings.
The second quarter of 2010 should be the third quarter in a row when earnings growth exceeds 30%. The last time that happened was 1983. ... The demonstrable sales and earnings growth tells you things will be fine."
The Embarrassment Of Public Education: John Hinderaker of Powerline has written, "It is no secret that education in America has lagged, by international standards, for quite a few years."
These graphs dramatically tell the story ... (more >>>)
Jailbirds Of A Feather: Paris Hilton - the poster child for what happens when acres of inherited money meet microns of personal responsibility - was arrested in August and charged with felony possession of cocaine. "While the hotel heiress has since claimed that the purse in which the drug was found was not hers, she could face time behind bars if found guilty of felony possession of the controlled substance."
She later copped a plea and beat the jail thing ... this time. But if Paris eventually gets sent to the slammer, it won't be the first time she's been in jail - which will give her even more in common with Mahatma Gandhi.
Quote Of The Day is from Stewie Griffin: "We met on the Internet, officer. He lured me into the car with promises of candy and funny stories."
Monday October 4, 2010
Monthly Auto Sales: September 2009 was pretty dismal because it was the first full month after the government's Cash for Clunkers program ended. Year-over-year monthly comparisons make September 2010 look awesome - up 29% - but the reality is that this month's sales were 4% below those of August.
FoMoCo sales were up 46% over a year ago. Taurus deliveries increased 37% to 6,977 units. Fusion and Focus were up 47 and 48% respectively. Ford Edge sales increased 186% to 12,815 units, while the Ford Flex sold a disappointing 2,204 units - there's a reason the name rhymes with Taurus X.
Lincoln sales were generally dismal, except for the MKX (upscale Ford Edge) which increased by 76%. The soon-to-die Town Car had a sales increase of over 149%. Only 1,300 examples of the flagship MKS were sold in September, a slight decrease from 2009.
Honda was up 26%. Toyota sales increased a modest 17%. Avalon posted sales of 2,504 units, up 29% over September 2009. 712 Lexus LS models were sold, down 8% from last year.
GM sales increased 11% overall. Buick sales were up 36% (LaCrosse sales almost doubled to 4,741 units), while sales of Cadillacs increased 11%. Chevy sales were up by 19%; sales of the Malibu model increased 55% to 16,289 units. Corvette sales dropped 30% to 1,109 units.
Chrysler reported a 61% overall increase, led by a miraculous 221% increase in Chrysler Sebring sales to 4,651 units. I suspect that most of these Sebrings went into fleet service; Chrysler's fleet sales are reportedly around 40% of its overall business - the highest in the industry. The new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee was up 95% over 2009.
In The Movies: last week, I watched the science fiction film 'Thirteenth Floor' and found a '39 Plymouth police car playing a minor role. I posted a photo on my Miscelaneous 1939 Plymouths page.
Aerotrain Update: While in California last month, I discovered some additional information on the Union Pacific Railroad's experience with the General Motors Aerotrain. I have added it to my Aerotrain page.
Book Review: 'Declaration: The Nine Tumultuous Weeks When America Became Independent, May 1-July 4, 1776' by William Hogeland
The fascinating story of American Independence is far more complex than history textbooks reveal. Reading Hogeland's book, you'll come to realize that it is a miracle that independence was declared at all.
In May 1776, the Continental Congress had no serious intention of breaking off from England. But the furtive, behind-the-scenes, conspiratorial activity of ... (more >>>)
Media Bias? During the 2008 presidential election, employees of CBS, NBC and ABC gave 94% of their political contributions to Obama versus only 6% to McCain. (permalink)
Adiós, Muchachos: Speaking of media, CNN doofus Rick Sanchez has been fired for remarking that the Jews control the U.S. media. I'm just happy that they control the U.S. delicatessens. (permalink)
Blame Bush? During a recent press conference, President Obama blamed George W. Bush for the nation's fiscal condition. Said Barry O., "When I walked in, wrapped in a nice bow was a $1.3 trillion deficit sitting right there on my doorstep."
Why do people believe this bozo? It's been almost two years and the deficits are soaring. It is important to note that, in the U.S., Congress controls the purse strings. When the Dems took over Congress in January 2007, the deficit was $161 billion. It had been on a downward trajectory from $413 billion in 2004. Three years later, the Pelosi-Reid Congress had added $1.2 trillion to the deficit.
And the unemployment rate - a good measure of the nation's health - has been ... (more >>>)
I Can't Argue With This: Ann Coulter has written that Senator Patty Murray is The Stupidest Person in America. "Soon after being elected to the Senate in 1992, Murray fought for a federal government jobs program by saying, "The highest-paying job I had before coming to Washington, D.C., paid $23,000 a year. ... I know what it's like to tell my kids they can't buy everything they want."
Is that what Murray thinks a senator should be doing? Ensuring that parents can tell their children they can buy everything they want?
True, Murray is a mom. You could also describe Hitler as a "war veteran and painter," but I think the more salient fact is that he was a German dictator.
Similarly, Murray's relevant characteristic is that she is a lifelong public-sector union zealot."
Ann added, "Democrats have completely infantilized the populace in order to create jobs for useless social workers like Murray - and then people wonder why states are going bankrupt under crushing debt burdens."
I've written to Patty before. Even though she is my Senator, she never answers. Instead, she spends her time making annoying robocalls to my home.
And keeps busy finding lobbying jobs for her friends: "At least 17 former Murray staff members have slid over to the lobbying sector, capitalizing on insider knowledge and connections to win favor for their clients, including lucrative earmarks. ... They include Murray's former chief of staff, Rick Desimone, who landed a $1 million earmark in the defense bill for a Canadian medical company with offices in Kirkland. The bill was an even bigger win for Shay Hancock, Murray's former lead defense staffer, who lobbied for three firms that got $7.5 million in earmarks."
Quote Of The Day is from Arthur C. Clarke: "When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is probably wrong."
Friday October 1, 2010
Fall Cruise: After my recent vacation, which included looking at lots of old cars, I was anxious to drive my old car. So ... on Monday, I fired up the '39 Plymouth and went for a spin.
On Thursday, I used the '39 coupe to run some errands; I also put gas in it. At 10:00 am, the temperature was hot enough that I ran the A/C for most of my travels.
Speaking of '39, the Dow Jones Industrial average was up 8.2% percent for last month - its best September performance since 1939.
Rizzo's Caddy: Frank L. Rizzo, once the King of Philadelphia - former police commissioner, mayor and immovable force, died in 1991 while running for a third mayoral term. Frank was a no-nonsense, law and order guy who loved beating up hippies and other lowlifes with his ever-present nightstick. And I mean that in a good way.
His son, Frannie, is selling Frank's triple-black 1980 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham sedan to help fund the care of the late mayor's statue, which greets visitors at a municipal building in center city Philly. The city is broke and can't/won't clean the pigeon crap off the outdoor bronze effigy, I guess.
The 30 year-old Caddy has a mere 16,170 miles on the odometer.
At Least He Made Some Lawn Ornament Guy Rich: Philadelphia-born, 1950s singer Eddie Fisher has died at age 82. He was once a big deal in the music biz; Fisher had seventeen songs in the Top 10 on the music charts between 1950 and 1956. Kinda before my time, although I do remember his 15 minute television show, sponsored by Coca Cola. It was called 'Coke Time' ... ironic considering his later taste for blow.
Every time Fisher appeared on someone else's TV show, he inserted a not-so-subtle pitch for Coke in the dialogue. Obnoxiously so, my ten year-old mind registered.
The music biz only has room for a relatively fixed number of stars, so when rock 'n' rollers appeared, the number of crooners diminished and Eddie Fisher's star dimmed. See also Julius LaRosa, Vic Damone, The Four Aces, Jerry Vale, Johnny Ray, Al Martino, et al. Many of these folks made a fairly good living playing clubs and doing concerts years after their careers peaked. Unlike Eddie, who blew all his money on gambling and drugs (amphetamines, cocaine, etc.) and basically died broke.
Fisher didn't help his popularity ... (more >>>)
"Nobody's Perfect." Tony Curtis - born Bernard Schwartz - has died at age 85 of cardiac arrest or, possibly, toupée poisoning. He was married six times.
In a 2008, interview, Curtis was asked what he would like to have written on his gravestone. "Nobody's perfect," he quipped - the final line of his best-loved comedy, 'Some Like it Hot'. RIP.
"I Married A Ketchup Queen And You're All Morons." Last week, a testy U.S. Senator John F. Kerry blamed clueless voters with short attention spans for the difficult battle beleaguered Democrats are facing against Republicans across the nation.
"We have an electorate that doesn't always pay that much attention to what's going on so people are influenced by a simple slogan rather than the facts or the truth or what's happening," Kerry told reporters.
I've written about this elite doofus before.
Whiner-In-Chief: Barack Hussein Obama told Rolling Stone magazine - described by Greg Gutfeld as "that thinning pamphlet for our country's dwindling supply of pony-tailed pensioners" - that Fox News has a point of view that is "ultimately destructive" for America.
Polls have long indicated that Fox News is the most watched and most trusted source in America.
On the other hand, Obama is the most thin-skinned, lying, anti-prosperity, whiny, anti-American President in my memory - Jimmy Carter is a distant second - and now Barry O. is lecturing people about what is destructive to America.
Drew M. at Ace has asked some rhetorical and not-so-rhetorical questions:
• Has Fox News has put this country on a path to fiscal ruin?
• Has Fox News endangered the health care of nearly every American?
• Has Fox News has sold out freedom-loving allies to authoritarian thugs?
I would add:
• Has Fox News caved to Muslims while subverting traditional Christian values?
• Has Fox News bowed down before every tyrant in the world?
Until Fox News commits such reprehensible acts, Mr. President, bite me. (permalink)
Leading Indicator: Jane Adamy of the Wall Street Journal has reported that McDonald's "has warned federal regulators that it could drop its health insurance plan for nearly 30,000 hourly restaurant workers unless regulators waive a new requirement of the U.S. health overhaul. The move is one of the clearest indications that new rules may disrupt workers' health plans as the law ripples through the real world."
Obamacare is proving to be an unmitigated disaster. Adamy has noted ... (more >>>)
This Bizarre Idea ... of "fixing" the economy by spending more money on various 'stimulus' packages is akin to curing diarrhea by taking more laxatives. (permalink)
Headline Of The Week is from The People's Cube: 'Cardboard cutouts used to fill empty seats for Obama's appearance as Obama takes credit for creating jobs in cardboard-cutout sector.'
When Geography Meets Phonetics: How come people who live in Belgium are called Belgians, rather than Belgiumians?
Quote Of The Day is from the late actress Billie Burke (the Good Witch in 'The Wizard of Oz'): "Age doesn't matter, unless you are a cheese."