The View Through The Windshield - Car Blog

A Blog About Cars ... And Everything Else I See

Tuesday November 30, 2010

1955 Lincoln - Nice, But Not Too Successful: If you look at a '55 Lincoln Capri today, you'll see a nice looking car that looks, well, very mid-1950s. But that's not how it looked to prospective buyers back then. 1955 was the year of all new bodies for most other cars. Chevy, Pontiac, Packard, Ford, Mercury and the entire Chrysler line all had a brand new look compared with their 1954 counterparts. Lincoln didn't.

car drawing blog

Everybody but Lincoln had three tone color combinations and wraparound windshields. Chrysler first introduced ... (more >>>)

A Hunka, A Hunka Big Merc: A slate blue 1970 Mercedes-Benz 600 limousine, once owned by the Elvis Presley, is to be auctioned in December by Bonhams.

The British auction house has claimed it is one of only a few cars that Elvis registered in his own name and has a picture of the California registration to prove it. Elvis owned the Benz for two years.

It is expected to sell for $230-300,000.

Caution: Idealists At Work. Mark Perry has written that "the political obsession with affordable housing caused a lot of the problems in the real estate and mortgage industries, and led to the financial meltdown."

He quoted Ed Pinto from the American Enterprise Institute: "In 1995, HUD announced a National Homeownership Strategy built upon the liberalization of underwriting standards nationally. It entered into a partnership with most of the private mortgage industry, announcing that 'Lending institutions, secondary market investors, mortgage insurers, and other members of the partnership [including Countrywide] should work collaboratively to reduce homebuyer downpayment requirements.'"

In 1990, one in 200 home purchase loans (all government insured) had a down payment of less than or equal to 3%. By 2006 an estimated 30% of all home buyers put no money down. ... (more >>>)

"Wendy, Let Me Explain Something To You," said Jack Nicholson's character in 'The Shining'.

Now another Wendy needs to be sat down and educated. This one's a Massachusetts teacher, Wendy Scott. She proclaimed to her sixth grade students that they "no longer be allowed to bring writing implements to school. It said pencils would be provided for students in class and any students caught with pencils or pens ... would face disciplinary action for having materials 'to build weapons.'"

Pencils aren't weapons. Now an axe - that's a weapon, Wendy: "Heeere's Johnny!"

sherlock auto blog"What's a Goonluca?" Leslie Nielsen, a Hollywood leading man-type in the 1950s and '60s who achieved celluloid immortality when he turned to deadpan comedy in movies such as 'Airplane!' and 'The Naked Gun', has died at age 84.

Nielsen was captain of the doomed ocean liner in the 1972 disaster movie 'The Poseidon Adventure' and played a clueless detective, Frank Drebin, in the 'Police Squad!' television show and 'Naked Gun' movies.

The title of this post comes from an exchange in a 1982 episode of 'Police Squad!' Johnny the Snitch tells Detective Drebin, "She's in big trouble. She's being held by Martin's goon, Luca." Nielsen's character, Drebin, asks Johnny for clarification.

Thanks for all the laughs, Leslie. Rest in peace.

Quote Of The Day is from Mark Twain: "Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But then, I repeat myself."


Monday November 29, 2010

Honest Designer: Peter Birtwhistle, who styled the short-wheelbase 1980 Audi Sport Quattro, has called it "bloody ugly." He's now the chief designer at Mazda Europe.

The only Quattro I've ever seen belonged to the owner of a small design and prototyping firm in Eugene, OR in 1983. The Audi's proportions were ungainly and it was not nearly as taut-looking at my old first-generation VW Scirocco.

sherlock automobile blogMuntz In The Making: Being a fan of Nelson, I got a hearty chuckle out of this.

Haw, Haw.

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like ... Last week, the 'Signals' and 'Wireless' holiday shopping catalogs arrived. These used to be the official hawkers of PBS and NPR merchandise, so I gleefully tore through them looking for that Juan Williams coffee mug that I always wanted for Christmas but, alas, it was not to be found.

Signals and Wireless (owned by the same company - Universal Screen Arts, Inc., founded in 1938 and based in Hudson, Ohio) don't seem to be doing much with NPR/PBS these days, so if you want that collectible Garrison Keillor with Santa hat tree ornament, you'd better start searching the web.

Too Close To Home: On Friday night, a Somali-born 19 year-old was arrested as he tried to detonate a car bomb in a crowd of 12,000 at the Pioneer Square Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in downtown Portland, OR.

Mohamed Osman Mohamud is a naturalized U.S. citizen who has been living in Corvallis, OR and studying "non-degree pre-engineering" (whatever that is) at Oregon State University. He parked a van with six 55-gallon drums of fake explosives - provided by undercover FBI agents - next to Pioneer Square. Then he went to Union Station, an Amtrak stop - about a mile away, and used a cell phone to try to detonate it.

As he pushed the last button, Mohamud yelled "Allahu Akbar!" (Arabic for "God is great!") and tried to kick agents and police as the arrest came.

While there are many unanswered questions about possible co-consipirators and enablers, family involvement, who was funding his "education," etc., a big Well Done should go to the FBI and all other law enforcement organizations involved.

Mohamud came to the U.S. from Mogadishu while in grade school. He attended Jackson Middle School and Wilson High School in Portland before transferring to Westview High School in Beaverton, a western suburb.

Pioneer Square was full of children during the lighting ceremony and ... (more >>>)

The Rest Of The Story: A close terror call in Portland, Oregon was thwarted when the FBI prevented a Somali jihadist from blowing up a crowd at a 'holiday tree lighting' celebration.

Five years ago, Portland became the first city in the nation to withdraw from the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Then-Mayor Tom Potter and the city council voted to withdraw its two police officers from the federal task force. Potter cited "the potential for trespasses against civil liberties and an inability to oversee Portland officers who would be deputized as federal agents." Plus, it was another slap at George Bush, who is reviled in Portland. The Bushes privately refer to the city as 'Little Beirut'.

This time ... (more >>>)

In Nomine Patris: Big Fur Hat wants to start a new religion. Tenets include:

Our faith believes that waiting on lines is demeaning. Man was not put on Earth to line up like beasts of burden at a too small trough. We jump to the head of the line, if not, there is no telling what the radical arm of our faith is capable of. We just can't control them.

Nothing is more demeaning to a human than handling animal feces. Our faith does not scoop poop.

Separating garbage is demeaning. Thus, no recycling for us.

Demanding that we park on the alternate side of the street might be a problem for us. Depending on the day, our grill must point towards the original Ford Factory. It's very confusing for an infidel to figure out the system, so it's best you just leave us alone.

Taxes, in our faith, is a form of gambling. The return on your investment is not guaranteed. So, no gambling, no taxes.

Further details can be found here.

In Your Face: Facebook has become a dominant presence on the internet and around the world, but that dominance may be much greater than nearly anyone could imagine.

"Traffic to the huge social network, with 500 million users worldwide, now accounts for nearly 25% of all internet pages viewed in the United States."

No, I'm not on Facebook.

Sad Ending: Legendary Oregon entrepreneur Norm Winningstad killed himself with a gun last week. He was 85 years old, had recently undergone spinal surgery and was reportedly in a great deal of pain. Winningstad died at his home, in the seaside town of Newport, OR.

He had moved from California to Oregon in 1958 to work for electronic instruments manufacturer Tektronix. He soon became known as one of its chief innovators. In 1970, he founded computer company Floating Point Systems. He later co-founded high-tech firms Lattice Semiconductor Corp. and ThrustMaster, a firm that makes joysticks.

Winningstad was an avid helicopter pilot and once owned four Ferraris. He and his wife, Dolores, made many philanthropic contributions to arts and cultural organizations. RIP.

An Interesting Question: "If this whole TSA/Scanner/Pat-Down business had started 30 days earlier, in October instead of November, how would the Nov. 2nd elections have turned out?"

Quote Of The Day is from Henny Youngman: A bum came up to me saying "I haven't eaten in two days." I said, "You should force yourself!"


Friday November 26, 2010

Up Is Down; Black Is White. If an electric car which uses absolutely no gasoline is "rated" at 99 miles per gallon by the U.S. government and a plug-in hybrid is "rated" at 93 mpg when its gas engine is off, how many mpg do I get when I'm walking? Or riding a bicycle? Or sleeping?

And, should you believe anything the government tells you?

PS: I once owned a Lincoln that got 156 mpg.

car blogThey Grow Up So Fast: When I built my three-level model train layout ten years ago, I sized it so that my then three and one-half year-old grandson was eye level with the lower level of trains.

I had added lots of detail and some operating accessories on the this level to amuse and entertain him. Every time the train went by, crossing lights flashed, bells rang and a gateman jumped out of his yellow shack to wave his red lantern. He was delighted.

During his visit yesterday, I realized that he is now taller than the top of the mountain. But he still enjoys seeing and running the trains.

"The Summer's Gone And All The Flowers Are Dying." It's not all Guinness and soda bread these days over on the Emerald Isle.

The once-admired Celtic Tiger is full of economic turmoil. In good times, the Irish government, like many others, wouldn't restrain itself to spending within the limits of what it collected. And, despite signs of shifting economic conditions and an impending real estate bubble, the Irish bureaucrats never adjusted, guessing that the European Union would make everything alright.

Ireland, always a poor country, took the first steps to liberalize its economy ... (more >>>)

Bad Pun Of The Day: No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.


Wednesday November 24, 2010

Standing The Test of Time: Some automobiles possess timeless beauty. Consider the 1932 Auburn Custom Twelve boattail speedster pictured on Hemmings blog.

It will be auctioned at Atlantic City's Trump Taj Mahal Hotel Casino in February. Start saving now.

What If ... you could create a mash-up of a roller coaster, a giant erector set and a Hot Wheels track with 1,500 cars? Why, you'd have 'Metropolis 2'.

A Big Thank You to the folks at Miller Engineering, makers of Light Works USA scale model neon signs. I have six of these signs on my model train layout. They are eye-catching and I get a lot of favorable comments from people who have seen the layout.

When I was putting up the trains this year, I couldn't get the animated Elephant Car Wash sign to work. I wrote to Miller to see if they had any troubleshooting suggestions. It was quickly determined that the inverter on the circuit board was the problem. Bob Hawes of Miller wrote, "Please send back the defective part and we'll replace it free of charge." And they did, even though the sign was four years old. Thanks, Bob.

Is this a great example of customer care or what? I recommend this firm very highly.

You can see the sign, as well as other Light Works USA products on the YouTube video posted on the main page of my train layout website. The Elephant Car Wash sequence starts at 1:46 in the video. (permalink)

All Aboard: As of last Saturday afternoon, my O-gauge train layout is up and running. It's ready for my grandson's Thanksgiving Day visit.

New Category: Inspired by Katie Couric's ruminations last month, about touring "this great unwashed middle of the country", I've added a new category to my 'Greatest Hits' page - 'The Media Are Better Than You'. Find it here.

Headline Of The Week is from The Onion: 'New Evidence Proves First Flag Made By Betsy Ross Actually Shirt For Gay Friend.'

Excerpt: "This has completely upended the accepted narrative behind the first American flag," said historian Kenneth Atwood, who led the team of scholars analyzing the long-forgotten journal of prominent Philadelphia homosexual Nathaniel Linsley. "Now we can say with certainty that our nation's most enduring symbol of freedom, strength, and prosperity is actually just the result of Nathaniel's desire for a sassy, tight-fitting top."

"We've all been taught that the 13 stars and stripes of the first U.S. flag represented the original 13 colonies, but this is simply not the case," Atwood added.

"In fact, Nathaniel thought that stripes were slimming, and he just really, really liked stars."

Mission Not Accomplished: At its recent annual meeting annual meeting at the city-owned Hilton Vancouver Convention Center, the Columbia River Economic Development Council touted its role in area job creation.

Bart Phillips, CREDC president, told the 130 attendees, "I believe we are doing a good job of creating jobs in the community."

I disagree ... (more >>>)

Breaking Holiday News: President Obama will go on national television tonight to explain his moral and philosophical reasons for pardoning Cranberry, the White House Thanksgiving turkey.

The two-hour speech, titled 'The Obligation of the Just', will lay out Obama's 35-point argument for keeping the bird alive.

The Onion has the hilarious video report.

And, in related news ...

Quote Of The Day is from Conan O'Brien: "President Obama is scheduled to grant a turkey the traditional pardon on Wednesday. But a spokesman for the turkey now says it doesn't need a pardon. It needs a job."


Tuesday November 23, 2010

Mr. Popularity: Last week, I received two invitations to the prom, so to speak.

A mailing from Lexus invited me to "drive home a message about your style and taste," offering lease deals on the Lexus HS 250H hybrid - $339/mo. for 3 years, the Lexus ES 350 - $409/mo. for 3 years and the Lexus RX 350 AWD - $409/mo. for 3 years.

The same day, Lincoln offered me "$1,000 Private Cash toward the purchase or lease" of any new Lincoln. The mailing warned me that "Luxury is an Investment. Lincoln is a smart one." M-kay.

Everybody loves me. As long as I bring money.

Epic Fail: The America version of Top Gear is a pale, dumbed-down imitation of its British cousin. Imagine the War of 1812 reenacted by Mummenschanz. The car stunts were trite, overly contrived and meretricious, the banter was banal and the hosts had the emotional range of beige Formica.

That's a shame. I wanted to like this show. American television needs an interesting, high-caliber car show.

sherlock auto blogDark Crossing: The MTH Operating Crossing Signal at the front of my train layout is dead.

The diecast housing broke during one of our platform moves in and out of the house and, when I tried to remove the signal to do a proper epoxy repair, I accidentally ripped out the tiny wires which had obviously been soldered by Chinese midgets, with hands the size of in infant's combined with the dexterity of a Munich concert pianist. At least, compared to my own porcine appendages - ham-handed, sausage fingered.

The signal no longer flashes its little red LED lights. Rats.

MTH had discontinued this O-gauge accessory item but, I found one for sale and have ordered it. I like the realistic, non-toy look of it. This time I'll be more careful and will come up with a better system for protecting the little crossing signal when we go into moving/storage mode.

Old News: When we canceled our subscription to the Vancouver WA Columbian newspaper almost three years ago, we got an unexpected surprise: free weekly delivery (via standard mail) of a thinner version of the Columbian.

To be sure, it was mostly ads and supermarket inserts and the 'news' was a week old but it was free. The paper carried the title 'Your Week'. I told my wife that, based on timeliness, it should have been named 'Last Week'.

Recently, a new version ... (more >>>)

sherlock blogWining and Dining: Last Saturday, I cooked Costco Prime filet mignons on the grill in 44 degree weather under an almost-full moon.

My wife and I shared most of a bottle of Reninger 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, which we purchased during our recent Walla Walla trip. Wine Spectator Review gave it 92 points, describing it as "polished, generous and booming with flavor, with fine tannins that provide a plush background for the gorgeous black cherry, raspberry, blueberry and savory spice flavors."

I can't argue with that. It had a great nose and went well with our beef entrée.

Cutting The Cord: In July of last year, I wrote about the trend-setting Sherlocks, who - in the past - have been ahead of the curve in spotting and adapting new concepts.

We were delighted to dump Comcast along with its poor service, continual decontenting, expensive upgrades and general hi-handedness, in favor of DirectTV in mid-2008.

In the most recent quarter, television services offered by telecoms and satellite providers added subscribers over the period but cable operators were hard hit, with subscriber numbers falling by 741,000 – the largest decline in 30 years.

Quote Of The Day is from Norman R. Augustine: "If you can afford to advertise, you don't need to."


Monday November 22, 2010

Remembering Camelot: Forty-seven years ago today, America was changed forever. Thinking about it makes me feel so damn old. And sad.

Back then, I was a twenty year-old college student. I gave little thought to 47 years into the future. If anyone had asked, I don't think I could have imagined what the world of 2010 would be like, other than some vague Jetsons-inspired flotsam involving flying cars and silver jumpsuits.

I couldn't imagine what my life would be like either. At 20, I couldn't picture myself as an old man. I figured I'd die long before then - quickly and in a tragically-cool way, perhaps sliding off a cliff at high speed in a Bocar. That would impress all my car buddies who would toast me with something expensive and alcoholic at my gravesite.

Some of the friends whom I visualized at that graveside fantasy are now dead. I have toasted their lives, sent condolences to their families and mourned their passing. I never expected to experience that. O tempora! O mores!

Many friends are still alive and I celebrate that. When we visit these days, we oft speak nostalgically about our pasts, remembering youth, stamina and mobility. And discuss the aches, medications and limitations of our present. Mortality is more apparent to us now.

As an optimistic kid of 20, I thought I was invincible. I even felt some of that in my 40s. I bet Jack Kennedy felt that way, too.

On a sunny Friday afternoon in November 1963 ... (more >>>)

Quote Of The Day is from Cal Thomas about John F. Kennedy: "For some, all things seemed possible with Kennedy in the White House. When he died, most things seemed impossible. There was a sense we had been robbed of hope and hope denied produces cynicism and despair, two viruses that continue to plague our culture.

Speaking as one who became a conservative and realizes that the 'myth' of Camelot was exactly that, I still miss him.

Even more, I miss much that was good in American life that seems to have perished with him."


Friday November 19, 2010

Hotter Than Neil Young's Electric Lincoln: Regardless of how you feel about the hardtop version, the Camaro convertible certainly looks righteous.

I hear Neil's pretty burned up about his toasted biodiesel hybrid Continental barge.

Cash Cab: Old movies and documentary films do a good job of accurately document the past, to help supplement the failing memories of geezers like me. Whenever I look at period footage from New York City, I see old DeSotos and Dodges in the 1940s, Checkers in the 1950s, '60s, '70s and, more recently, Ford Crown Victorias.

That's all about to change.

Joe Sherlock car blogThe New York Taxi & Limousine Commission has asked for a 'Taxi Of Tomorrow', and requested that manufacturers submit design proposals. The three finalists are Ford, Nissan and Karsan, a Turkish auto company.

Which is appropriate, since all NY cabbies seem to be from the Middle East anyway.

Ford's proposal is based on the Transit Connect, which is also assembled in Turkey.

Starting in 2014, owners of the city's 13,000 yellow taxis will have to start replacing old cabs with the model chosen by the TLC. Changing over the entire fleet is expected to take four to five years. TLC will make "a selection by the end of 2010."

The problem is that all these proposals are dull and uninspired. Where's that New York City style, edginess and audacity?

joe sherlock auto bloggingNew York deserves something more fun: cartoon cabs, looking like the Toontown yellow taxicab or Speedy Gonzales' Tijuana Taxi.

Ones that will generate tire-screeching noises with the slightest lateral move, have horns that can go 'Oooooga' and make sounds like a giant whoopee cushion whenever they hit a pothole. And have big eyes for headlights.

And broadcast random side-of the mouth comments in a '40s Brooklyn accent, like "Hey, toots, ya look hot." (permalink)

Nothing To Talk About: Jill Wagner has officially been retired as Mercury spokeswoman. In recent years, she was the best model in the Mercury line-up.

Workin' On The Railroad: I'm trying to get my O-gauge train layout operational by Thanksgiving. But my trusty 1967 Weller soldering gun has just died and I'm temporarily engaged in wire twisting and other primitive methods of conducting electricity.

My Christmas Wish List now list a new Weller D550PK 120-volt Professional Soldering Gun Kit, which puts out 260/200 watts, depending on the trigger pull. My old one blasted a mere 140 watts at maximum setting.

One can never have too much wattage.

After 43 years of faithful service, Ol' Weller must now be laid to rest. But not my lead solder. I'm keeping that. (permalink)

Another Of Barry's Crooked Pals: Former Obama administration official and government car czar Steven Rattner has agreed to pay $6.2 million and to a two-year ban from associating with any investment advisor or broker-dealer to settle SEC allegations about his role in in kickbacks to secure investment business from the New York State pension fund.

He is also being sued by Andrew Cuomo, the New York attorney general and governor-elect, to recover at least $26 million and permanently bar Rattner from the securities industry in NY state.

If Cuomo succeeds in getting him barred, Rattner could always get a job with Tony Soprano's brokerage crew in New Jersey, doing 'pump and dump' stock scams.

Drug Dealer Praises Heroin Gift: Warren Buffett has written "a thank-you note to Uncle Sam" in the New York Times, expressing his gratitude for bailouts.

Buffett invested $5 billion in Goldman in the fall of 2008, admitting he was betting on a bailout. Between the $1 billion in dividends, the $5.5 billion repayment check and the $2 billion or more in profits from the warrants, he's already looking at a 70% return on his $5 billion bet.

How much have you made on your investments since 2008?

What Recovery? Unemployment in Clark County (WA) increased to 13% in October. State labor economist Scott Bailey has predicted that jobless rates could again top 14% by February 2011.

As I've noted before, there are three basic reasons why area unemployment remains high.

Quote Of The Day is from Steven Wright: "The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard."


Thursday November 18, 2010

Auction Madness: RM Auctions sold a 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge Ram Air IV Convertible for $682,000. A 1960 Chrysler 300F Convertible with a four-speed manual went for $437,250 and a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Yenko S/C Sport Coupe brought the hammer down at $308,000.

Styled Using An Animal Crackers Box, Scissors And Elmer's Glue: Let us never speak of the Cadillac Urban Luxury Concept again. I've posted a photo of this little angular monstrosity here.

Big Dig: Caterpillar is buying mining equipment giant Bucyrus International for $7.6 billion.

Caterpillar, the world's largest construction and mining equipment maker, wants to capitalize on growing equipment demand in emerging markets, China, India and Brazil, which need such materials to feed surging economies.

Bucyrus makes surface mining equipment used for mining coal, copper, iron ore, oil sands and other minerals. Demand for commodities has languished in traditional markets, pushing global companies like Caterpillar Inc. further into China, India and Brazil, which need such materials to feed surging economies.

If as a kid, you ever drooled over big construction equipment ... (more >>>)

Follow The Yellow Brick Road: In related news, an awesome, heavy duty roadbuilding machine makes laying down a brick road as easy as covering a chipboard shelf with contact paper.

The clever, Dutch-made automatic paver-laying machine consists of an angled plain that workers feed with paving stones or bricks. As the electric crawler inches forward along a sand base layer, the bricks are automatically packed together by gravity. A small telescoping forklift feeds the hopper, allowing the Tiger-Stone to lay out an impressive 1,200 feet of road day. The span can be adjusted up to 18 feet wide.

Politics Made Simple: Unless you're a total political junkie, you don't need to obsess over whatever Dick Morris or other prognosticators have to say about 2012. After every election, pundits dissect the meager leavings of the election post-season and issue proclamations. Don't believe the hype. Or spin.

There's nothing profound to learn. Here's the simple truth: 40% of the nation ... (more >>>)

Quote of the Day is from Kathy Shaidle on the homeless: "These are no doubt the same types who became hobos during the Depression. We should resist romanticizing grown men who abandon their families and other adult responsibilities. And we certainly shouldn't waste millions of tax dollars trying to 'help' them."


Wednesday November 17, 2010

Answering The Question No One Asked: Nissan will offer a convertible SUV. The 2011 Nissan Murano 'CrossCabriolet' will debut at the upcoming LA Auto Show. Prices begin north of $46,000.

What's next - a $50,000 station wagon without doors?

COTY Cluelessness: The Chevrolet Volt has been selected as Motor Trend Car of the Year for 2011.

Before getting excited, remember that the deplorable Chevrolet Citation was named the Car of the Year in 1980 by MT. The Citation was one of GM's X-body horrors, which seemed to MT like a great idea at the time, in the same way that everything seems 'profound' after a lot of drinking or serious head trauma.

This award used to get me somewhat excited until I read a revealing 2003 posting by Peter DeLorenzo, the AutoExtremist, which detailed how this 'award' is "for sale" to the manufacturer that showers Motor Trend with the most ad/promo money.

That shed light a lot of those previous COTY choices to me.

Speaking Of Cluelessness ... the Volt also won the Automobile Magazine 'Automobile of the Year' award. This means nothing to me because I haven't read that rag in 10-plus years.

When Automobile magazine first came out in the 1980s, I bought a couple of newsstand copies - it was promoted as the Next Big Thing in car buff mags. I felt that it never lived up to all the hype.

I noticed that Automobile's Editor-in-Chief is still Jean 'Lindamoose' Jennings, the Janeane Garafalo of the automotive journalist world, so I expect the magazine is still crap.

I'd rather spend my time re-reading old issues of Rod & Custom.

Future Darwin Award Winners: Last Saturday, we were out late. We drove Clark County's back roads to get home, including one narrow one where there were absolutely no streetlights. It was zoned at 50 mph; I was doing 45 because it was pouring rain.

Suddenly, on my left I saw a flash of something. It took a second to register what I'd seen ... (more >>>)

I Like This Idea. From Michael Bates (via Dustbury): "We have a pretty good idea of the sort of person who would try to blow up a plane while on board.

While we might still need X-rays and metal detectors to deter the old-fashioned kind of hijacker that just wanted a free trip to Cuba, the new-fangled suicide hijacker should be more easily detected.

Offer every male passenger between the ages of 18 and 45 a pulled-pork sandwich or a beer; if you won't consume either one, you get the special scope-and-grope."

Frank Fleming has offered this advice to frequent fliers, "If someone on a flight asks which direction Mecca is, don't tell him! He probably just wants to do his pre-exploding prayer."

Allahu Airlines: Big Fur Hat has pointed out that CAIR is doing all they can to exempt Muslim women from TSA body scans and pat downs before boarding planes. He asked, "Why don't they just use their flying carpets instead of our airplanes?"

Then there's the photo of the hijab-wearing TSA employee feeling up a Catholic nun. Disgraceful. What has this nation become?

Headline of The Week - so far - is from The People's Cube: 'Obama to cut Medicare as soon as debt panel finds a way to blame it on Republicans'.

Keep Portland Weird: When you live across the river in another state - as I do, you see Portland from a different perspective.

Nevertheless, the proximity to the People's Republik Of Portland means we are saturated with Portland news and happenings from radio and television. I've posted some select bits here.

Quote Of The Day is from Frank J.: "Man, is 'bureaucrat' hard to spell; takes me a couple tries to even get the spellcheck to realize what I'm going for. Probably all a scheme by bureaucrats to keep us from complaining about them."


Tuesday November 16, 2010

Beetle Skins: For many years, OEM bias-ply tires for air-cooled VW Beetles were 5:60 x 15. The tires were less balloon-y than most and featured a relatively wide cross section for the period.

My red '63 Beetle came from the factory with Fulda Diadem tires. Great tires, very grippy - originally made in the town of Fulda, not too far from Frankfurt, Germany. But replacements were not sold in the U.S.

When the Fuldas wore out ... (more >>>)

Old Man Wants Things The Way They Used To Be: Geezer and former 'Nightline' host Ted Koppel has his panties in a bunch over "the death of real news," blaming "Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly."

I can't speak for the folks at MSNBC - although, when last I watched him three years ago, Oberman pretended to be a news man - but O'Reilly, Beck and Hannity are neither reporters nor news readers. And make no claims to be such. They host opinion shows.

Koppel whines that "broadcast news was a more virtuous operation 40 years ago, it was a function of both fear and innocence."

Yeah, right. What we got was slanted stories and ... (more >>>)

"I Can See The Next Depression From My House." Obtuse oracle Alan Greenspan, now retired from the chairmanship of the Federal Reserve, is spending his days traveling the globe dispensing advice about the credit crisis and the recession.

And getting paid hefty speaker fees. And peddling his books.

Secret In The Subway: A once-abandoned Manhattan subway station near City Hall - first opened in 1908 - is now accessible to the public. It has a certain turn-of the-century elegance, looking a bit like an old London Underground station.

Bad Pun of the Day: A Will is defined as a dead giveaway.


Monday November 15, 2010

sherlock automobile blogCar Sighting: Recently, I spotted a mid-engined, Pininfarina-designed Lancia Scorpion - one of only 1,800 produced in 1976-77. It was silver and looked pretty good - no rust to be seen. And it was moving under its own power. I was shocked.

I thought all Scorpions had rusted-away or fallen apart years ago. A rare encounter. (permalink)

Cut Off: Last week, the President's Deficit-Reduction Task Force issued stern and necessary recommendations, including proposed cuts in Medicare and Social Security.

The specific recommendations have caused great consternation among many recipients of the federal largesse. ("You can't take my money away!" "The poor will suffer!" "What about the children?!")

My take: The U.S. is free to freeze/cut my Social Security as soon as it stops funding terrorists.

joe sherlock autoblog

The United States sped up delivery of $150 million in direct aid to the Palestinian Authority Wednesday, citing the need to fill an urgent budget shortfall. "This figure underscores the strong determination of the American people and this administration to stand with our Palestinian friends even during difficult economic times," declared U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in announcing the aid.

The transfer of aid comes as control of the House of Representatives, where spending bills originate, is set to shift from Democrats to Republicans.

"The $150 million brings direct US budgetary funding to the Palestinians for 2010 to $225 million, while bringing total spending for Palestinians – including US security assistance and aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency – to nearly $600 million."

Moving Toys: As regular readers know, I have a fondness for toys. I still have some of my old childhood dimestore cars and trucks. Even now, I'm still on the lookout for neat additions to my model vehicle collection.

One of my favorite shops is Finnegan's Toys in downtown Portland. Unfortunately ... (more >>>)

Return To Sender: The Postal Service lost $8.5 billion this year. In order to break even, it would have to raise prices by about 13% immediately.

"Of particular concern has been the decline in the lucrative first-class mail, largely consisting of personal letters and cards, bills and payments and similar items. First-class mail volume fell 6.6% in 2010, 8.6% in 2009, and 4.8% in 2008. Traditionally, this mail has produced more than half of total revenue."

autoblog

Volume for 'standard mail' - advertising, junk mail, bulk catalogs and the like - increased but generates less income.

Here's how to fix the Postal Service:

Raise prices on all first class mail by 10%.

Raise all prices on standard mail by 15-20%.

Eliminate Saturday delivery of everything except Priority Mail.

Reduce the annual payments for future retiree health benefits by eliminating same for new hires and reducing/phasing out benefits for everyone. (Congress placed an onerous congressional mandate in 2006, obligating the Postal Service to make annual payments of $5.5 billion to pre-fund future retiree health benefits. No other institution in America, public or private, is required to do this.)

Bring wages and benefits in line with the private sector at union contract renewal time. If the workers strike, threaten to draft 'em into the Army, like Harry Truman did to coal miners and railroad workers in 1946. Or fire them like Reagan did to the air traffic controllers in 1981.

Use independent carriers for as much delivery work as possible. Contract carriers are much more efficient that postal employees and, in my experience, do a far better job.

For 20 years, we had a contract postal carrier. Mary was wonderful; you could set your clock based on when she showed up at our mailbox. She never mis-delivered a single letter. She was cheerful and delivered packages right to our door. When the snow was bad enough that our newspaper carrier chickened out, Mary was still making rounds in her little left-hand drive Subaru wagon. Neither rain, nor snow, etc.

When Mary retired last year, she was replaced by postal employees.

The once-precise delivery schedule is now nonexistent - mail arrives anywhere between 10 am and 4 pm. Letters have been delivered to the wrong address on a dozen occasions and calls to Mavis Hafer, the Battle Ground postmistress, have been unreturned.

Every time we visit the P.O. and ask to see the postmistress, we're told that "she's out of town." If I were appointed to "save the Postal Service," one of my first acts would be to fire this government drone. (permalink)

Blogroll Addition: Dan Cirucci has an excellent blog and lives in the Delaware Valley. His observations about all things Pennsylvania and New Jersey are interesting and informative. I recommend that you give it a look.

Dan is a renowned public relations professional with a long, award-filled career. He has lectured in corporate communications at many area colleges and universities. Dan's op-ed pieces appear regularly in the Philadelphia Daily News and other publications.

Quote Of The Day is from Thomas Sowell: "France has never gotten over the fact that it was once a great power and is now just a great nuisance."


Friday November 12, 2010

a blog about carsCar Sighting: Waiting at a stop sign recently, I spotted a black mid-1980s Corvette coupe zoom past in the pouring November rain. It was the same bodystyle as my friend Ray's 1988 model.

What a great-looking car. The C4 body has a very 'tailored' look and represents one of GM Design's finer moments.

Its C5 successor looked big and blobby by comparison. In my opinion, the best-looking Corvettes are the Sting Rays of 1963-67, the Manta Ray-types of 1968-72 and the C4s from 1984 to the early '90s. The current C6 model? Not bad but not heart-stopping.

The rest are nice but forgettable designs. My two cents.

In related news, Mecum Auctions just sold Bunkie Knudsen's 1963 Corvette convertible for $400,000.

In other related news, I am happy to report that Ray's knee-replacement surgery was a success. He is now recuperating at home and will soon be able to enter and exit his yellow Corvette in a pain-free manner. Get well soon, buddy.

Looking At Islam: It claims to be a 'Religion of Peace'. Is it?

From time to time, this blog has posted Islam-related items. I have listed some of them on a single page. Viewed together, these items show a disturbingly intolerant and often violent behavior pattern.

This is not to say that American Muslims never help out in weeding out the bad apples - they do - but, perhaps, not often enough.

joe sherlockautomobile blogRestaurant Review: Hockinson Kountry Cafe; Battle Ground, WA. Once a local favorite in rural Hockinson, this restaurant was forced to move earlier in 2010 when road improvements took away its parking lot. The name is the same but the cafe is now located in West Battle Ground.

The efficient and friendly wait staff delivers the meal to your table quickly. The food is homemade, comfort-style and generous in portion. For dessert, the pies are legendary. And the prices are small town reasonable. We've been there several times and been favorably impressed with each visit.

Downsides: The parking lot is too small for the restaurant, so get there early. Even if you walk, there is sometimes a line out the door at peak hours. HKC closes early - 3:00 pm.

The Hockinson Kountry Cafe is so stellar, it has rebuffed the 'Location of Death' aura. Therein lies a tale ... (more >>>)

Big Draw: A black-and-white Coke bottle on canvas by Andy Warhol sold for $35.36 million this week at Sotheby's art auction.

Andy Warhol 'created' a lot of his 'art' using an opaque projector and then tracing the image on a large canvas. This is something most journeyman signpainters do every day on the sides of buildings or trucks. No big deal.

Sometimes Andy would photograph something and used simple graphic tricks to comicify it, then silkscreen the result - a task done by many a sophomore art student, who received no payment - just course credit.

You get the feeling that 'ol polyester-wigged, nerd-glasses-wearing Warhol was having a good laugh on all us bourgeois proles with his otiose creations. We get the last laugh on Andy, though. He made a lot of money but he's dead now. And you can't take it with you.

PS: If you're interested in art, the latest Archie McPhee catalog is offering an inflatable Van Gogh painting of 'Starry Night' for only 12 bucks. It ships deflated in a small illustrated tin. Chacun à son goût.

auto blogFood Police Dine On Caviar: One day after the President's Deficit-Reduction Task Force issued its stern and necessary recommendations, including proposed cuts in Medicare and Social Security as well as high-on-the-hog government spending, members of "a key panel created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the stimulus bill, have scheduled a meeting on November 22 to consider ways to prevent 'fraud, waste, and abuse of Recovery Act funds.' The meeting will be held at the super-luxe Ritz Carlton Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona."

Room rates at the Ritz begin at $300-plus per night.

My idea: offer these key panel members rooms at the Phoenix MetroCenter Best Western ($48 per night; free breakfast, outdoor pool and a spa tub. "Event facilities include conference/meeting rooms and a ballroom. This Phoenix hotel also offers multilingual staff, coffee in the lobby, and complimentary newspapers in the lobby. On-site parking is complimentary").

If panel members decline, offer jail cells.

Bad Pun of the Day: A lot of money is tainted - taint yours and taint mine.


Thursday November 11, 2010

sherlock car blogLooking For Mr. Goodwrench: General Motors is terminating Mr. Goodwrench, demanding that he turn in his badge, pack up his toolbox and vacate the premises. This is a tough break.

I mean, the guy's gotta be in his mid-50s by now and there are few openings for older mechanics with dimming eyesight, potential health problems and, probably, a bad back. His 401-k and GM stock isn't worth crap, so he can't retire. Maybe he'll have to take a job at a Sears Auto Center. Or with Midas. Or one of those ubiquitous quickie oil change places.

The trademark used by GM dealers to promote vehicle repair and maintenance services debuted in 1974 during the same era that GM was peddling its delusional Mark of Excellence slogan.

When I think of 1974, Helen Reddy, Kojak, streaking, 'Blazing Saddles', Patty Hearst and the Comet Kohoutek all come to mind. No '74 GM cars though - they were forgettable, big-bumpered slugs.

Nevertheless, the name became part of the American pop-culture lexicon. The NASA Space shuttle astronauts compared themselves to Mr. Goodwrench when they were fixing the Hubble space telescope.

In his stand-up comic days, Jay Leno repeatedly made fun of Goodwrench. He claimed that he once stopped in a Chevrolet service department and asked if he could speak to Mr. Goodwrench. "He ain't here. But I can letcha talk to Mr. Dead Battery if ya want." (permalink)

Today, We Honor Veterans. It is a day for all of us to be grateful for their sacrifices which have kept and continue to keep us safe.

Freedom is never free. Thanks to all soldiers who serve or have served.

Meanwhile, On The Home Front: The median value of a single-family dwelling dropped 4.3% to $179,900 in the third quarter, compared with last year.

That's 25% below their peak in June 2006. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, home values dropped about 26% over a five-year period.

Foreclosures continued at a rapid clip, with "1.2 out of every 1,000 homeowners nationwide losing their homes to foreclosure in September. Additionally, more than a quarter of all homes sold in September were sold for a loss."

In Clark County (WA), the housing market experienced a triple punch last month, with a dramatic drop in home sales (down 43% form a year ago), a decrease in sale prices (the median dropped to $198,500 - a drop of 2% compared with last October) and a brickload of new foreclosures - 527 county-wide - an 82% rise over the same month last year and a 21% jump from the September 2010.

This represents a very large excavation hole of Not Good. In the good 'ol days of October 2006, there were 711 homes sold at a median price of $265,000, with only 64 foreclosures in Clark County that month. (permalink)

Call Reports: We live in an era of tweets, e-mails, sales management software and cloud computing. The time of the old sales call report is dead. These paper sales documents were once dictated to secretaries - either in person, via Dictabelt or using a microcassette recorder - who later typed, duplicated and distributed them.

joe sherlock blogEvery person who ever worked at a large company has a collection of favorite call reports. Mine includes a couple of hilarious Rohm & Haas Plastics Department call reports on Naked City, an Indiana nudist camp that wanted to purchase a large quantity of clear Plexiglas sheet for various projects.

In his first report of November 1969, J. R. Reid, the reporting salesman out of the Chicago office, described the place as "located between a defunct VFW Post and Bargain City (used furniture) in pastoral Roselawn, Indiana."

The first report is chock full of humorous incidents and observations.

"There was no requirement to undress but neither was there an apparent effort on the part of our prospective customers to cover themselves before our arrival. Mrs. (name redacted, wife of the Plexiglas distributor who participated in this joint sales call) appeared somewhat discomfited but conducted herself with great dignity A small incident did mar the solemnity of the presentation ... (more >>>)

Quote Of The Day is from Homer Simpson on self-centered celebrities: "When was the last time Barbara Streisand cleaned out your garage? And when it's time to do your laundry, where's Ray Bolger? I'll tell ya. Ray Bolger is looking out for Ray Bolger!"


Wednesday November 10, 2010

Goin' Asian: In Southern California, the car capital of the world, American brands have less than 40% of the new car market.

In 2006, the late Jerry Flint wrote, "Detroit lost California. Toyota has 27% of the retail market there (excluding rent-a-cars and other fleet sales), almost twice GM's share and three times Ford's. In a year or two, Honda might even catch GM in this bellwether state. These gains by the foreign companies have been growing for years, but Detroit just could not - or would not - build the products California wanted."

California residents bought 938,839 Japanese vehicles and 859,206 domestic vehicles that year.

Year-to-date 2010 data demonstrate that - once you remove pickup trucks from the equation - the five top selling passenger vehicles in the U.S. are Toyota Camry/Solara, Honda Accord, Toyota Corolla/Matrix, Honda Civic and Nissan Altima.

Every time I visit the East Coast, I am surprised at the number of domestic American cars on the roads. Living in the Pacific Northwest, I'm used to seeing a plethora of Asian brands on the street. A 2006 report in Bloomberg noted that General Motor's market share on the West Coast was 16.3%, compared with 25.5% nationally (excluding sales to rental fleets).

GM would die for those kinds of share numbers today. Oh wait. They did die last year ... bankruptcy is a kind of death, right?

In 1978, we drove across country, relocating from New Jersey to Oregon. Once we passed Chicago, I felt pretty lonely driving my VW Scirocco - very few 'furrin' cars were on the Interstate. It seemed like every vehicle in Nebraska was a big Ford LTD. Or Chevy Caprice.

Sherlock auto blog

One of the surprises about Oregon and Washington was the large number of import vehicles on the road. I had visited California many times and was always amazed at the large numbers of Toyotas and Hondas on the freeways. But I didn't realize that the Japanese had such a strong presence in the Pacific Northwest. The NW dealer network for foreign brands was potent and entrenched. And, once exposed to these imports, people liked them and came back for more.

Detroit always seemed oblivious to what was happening, even though it is common knowledge that trends often begin in Southern California. The American car producers never made a cogent competitive response to the West Coast invasion of the '70s and they've paid the price.

Bad News From Tesla: The Little Electric Car That Couldn't is still losing money - big time. The Truth About Cars noted, "Tesla has lost $103m so far this year, over three times the $31.5m loss accrued in the first three quarters of last year."

One TTAC commentor, gslippy, added "Development of the Model S sedan is killing Tesla's bottom line. This is akin to speeding so you get to the gas station sooner when you're low on fuel."

I don't care if Toyota and Panasonic are investors. I warned ya about Tesla before.

Electric cars - the Pet Rock of the '10s.

Book Review: joe sherlock blog'Blood, Iron and Gold: How the Railroads Transformed the World' by Christian Wolmar

Wolmar has written a spirited, fact-filled overview of rail transport. He celebrates railroads as the central innovation of the industrial revolution, releasing economic and social energies on an unprecedented scale.

The railroads did more than just increase travel or expand local and national economies. Trains created a manufacturing industry from local cottage craft works, made perishables widely available and inspired the concept of ... (more >>>)

Hobby Trails To You: Governments love to spend money, even when it's for silly stuff that benefits few of their citizenry.

Clark County Washington wants to develop a trail beside the mostly unused, county-owned Chelatchie Prairie Railroad. The trail project will eventually be 33 miles long. The first 3 miles will cost $1.5 million. "Hikers and horseback riders will share much of the 10 foot wide asphalt trail, but in certain locations where sharing may be difficult, a separate trail for horses will be built."

This is a county expenditure for horse and hiking hobbyists. Hey, I want in too. I think ... (more >>>)

"It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like ..." I know that the Christmas season is not far away, because I have placed my annual Dobosh Torte order with The Swiss Colony.

Quote Of The Day is from Jean-Paul Sartre: "Hell is other people."


Tuesday November 9, 2010

joe Sherlock car blogChevrolet: As American ... as baseball, apple pie, bok choy or machboos.

Expected major buyers of General Motors' IPO include China's manufacturing conglomerate SAIC Motors and Kuwait Investment Authority, the oil-rich Gulf state's sovereign wealth fund.

More Trees Saved: US News & World Report - which I used to call US Nerds & Weird Report - is ending its monthly print magazine and will concentrate on "a predominantly digital publishing model with selected, single-topic print issues."

I remember when a new issue of USN came out every week.

Shoulda Stuck To Being A Mime: On The PBS NewsHour last week, Mark Shields said Sarah Palin's decision to resign as the governor of Alaska is "like Ted Kennedy's Chappaquiddick."

Man, that guy hasn't been right in the head since his former partner, Lorene Yarnell, died.

Unintended Consequences: In India, not all the locals were happy with President Obama's visit.

Note: the following anecdotal quotes are much funnier if you say them in your head using the voice of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, proprietor of the Springfield Kwik-E-Mart on The Simpsons.

All major roads were blocked in India's financial capital - leaving taxi drivers without work for several days. Sandeep Jaiswal, 22, said he had earned just £2 in five days - compared with £21 on a normal day. "We have been left out of business. Because of him we are sitting idle for days now. First of all, I was excited the American President was coming to my city but now I request him to leave us as soon as possible so that we could earn our bread and butter."

Others were put off by the President's dependence on his Teleprompter. "We thought Obama is a trained orator and skilled in the art of mass address with his continuous eye contact," said one Indian official.

A policeman guarding Barack's Mumbai hotel set off a major security alert after accidentally shooting himself in the leg. Suhas Chowdhury, said: "I was changing my uniform when my revolver got stuck in my trousers and misfired a round."

Which reminds me of the quote from the oft-robbed, oft-shot Apu, while lying on the floor of his convenience store: "Ah. The searing kiss of hot lead; how I missed you. I mean, I think I'm dying."

auto blog

Apu has a doppelgänger: Raj Gupta, former CEO of Rohm & Haas Co. Several of my buddies and former coworkers blamed Mr. Gupta for the company's decline. I've often wondered if, back in 2001, when he sold R&H's flagship agricultural chemicals business to Dow Chemical, Raj said to the Dow folks, "Thank you - come again."

Because they did, acquiring the remainder of the company in 2009.

Speaking of quotes, there's this exchange with Apu and his wife during a drive in their minivan:

Manjula: I don't know why you listen to Sanskrit 93.7, The Dot.
Apu: I like Mamud, Maheet and Badujin in the morning. No caste is safe from their merry japes.
Manjula: Having a Ma-hot-ma or Ma-not-na contest is not a jape. It's sexist sacrilege.
Apu: Well, you have so much in common: non-stop talk at drive time!
Manjula: Take it back!
Apu: I take it back. ... If only that mark on your forehead was an off button.

Ashamed To Win: Uptown Bookstore, a Highland Park MI adult bookstore - which also peddles pornographic movies and sex toys, sold the only winning Powerball lottery ticket in the U.S. last week - worth $128 million.

The winner is described as an adult male wearing sunglasses, a trenchcoat and a baseball cap.

Quote Of The Day is from Mae West: "I used to be Snow White, but I drifted."


Monday November 8, 2010

CTS Redux: Autoblog has posted spy shots of the 2012 Chrysler 300C. Many commenters thought it looked like an Audi. I see it as how the Cadillac CTS should have been styled. In any case, it's a pretty good-looking car, I think.

Your opinion may differ. That's what makes the world go 'round.

All Aboard! On Saturday afternoon, we brought the train platform in from the garage. We moved it in between drizzles - it was on-and-off light rain all morning. By nightfall, it was raining steadily.

Everything went smoothly. No animals were harmed; no humans were killed. No screws were stripped.

The train layout is now sited in the living room. There is much work to be done but I hope to have it operational before Thanksgiving.

Business Advice - Elevator Assets: The late Leon Mandel, founder of AutoWeek magazine, once spelled out some 'policy absolutes'.

Regarding people, he wrote - in the late 1980s, "AutoWeek's assets go down the elevator each night and come back in the morning. Only the best and brightest people will do."

When I think back to all the businesses which I've seen fail in my business lifetime, I can't think of a single failure which could be blamed on machinery or mere physical assets.

Generally, a failed business will have ... (more >>>)

Debunked, Again: John Stossel has reported that there's good news about Bisphenol-A, aka BPA. Not only is there no good evidence that the BPA locked into plastic can hurt people, it actually saves lives by stopping botulism.

"Since BPA became commonplace in the lining of canned goods, food-borne illness from canned foods - including botulism - has virtually disappeared," said the American Council of Science and Health.

I have written about the panic over BPA before. The scare was spread gleefully by Dr. Andrew Weil, the white-bearded Santa-like fellow. Do not be fooled; he's a health nut who will give you seaweed instead of a candy cane.

Bisphenol A can be found in household epoxy repair kits. If you're like me, you've probably used epoxy to bond, glue or repair a ton of things around the house.

Epoxy hasn't killed me and, if you're reading this, it obviously hasn't killed you either. Epoxy is a core value in my Philosophy of Gluing.

Paradise Sold: Skamania Lodge, the 254-room hotel, conference and golf resort, which opened in 1993 and is located in Stevenson, WA on the Columbia River Gorge, has been sold to Pebblebrook Hotel Trust of Bethesda, Md. for $55.8 million. The company paid cash.

Pebblebrook owns several hotels, including the legendary and elegant Sir Francis Drake Hotel on Union Square in San Francisco.

autoblogRIP: Jill Clayburgh, the Oscar-nominated actress, has died at age 66 after a 21-year battle with chronic leukemia.

She had a big, wonderful, dimpled smile and played memorable, likeable characters in 'Silver Streak' - 1976, 'Semi-Tough' - 1977' and 'An Unmarried Woman' - 1978.

My favorite was 1979's very-underrated 'Starting Over' with Burt Reynolds.

On And Off ... And On Again: MSNBC announced Friday that libtard TV host Keith Olbermann had been suspended indefinitely without pay for making campaign donations to three Democratic congressional candidates- a violation of NBC News ethics policy.

On Sunday night, the cable network told both its viewers that Olby's sentence would be commuted to "time served" and he would return to the air Tuesday.

Thus endeth another publicity stunt.

car blog

Not to worry. His nonpolitical doppelgänger, Milhouse Van Houten, still appears regularly on The Simpsons and will continue do do so, except when he has a reaction to his ear medicine. (permalink)

"How Do You Think They've Carried The Jewish Vote All These Years?" Hitler reacts to last week's big Democratic election defeat. Excerpt: "They said we'd retain power - Matthews, Maddow, Olbermann all said it."

Quote Of The Day is from Ayn Rand: "We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission."


Friday November 5, 2010

sherlock car blogBuy What You Need, When You Need It: Douglas McIntyre has pointed out that new vehicle sales will probably remain anemic - relative to the good times of yore.

"The primary problem that the car companies have is that people keep their new cars longer than they used to.

Firms like JD Power which track long-term vehicle reliability say that cars and light trucks remain popular with owners even after long periods and a great deal of mileage on the road. Last year, the average trade-in age for cars was 6.2 years, up from 5.8 years in 2007. The may not seem like much except when it is spread across the 12 million vehicles that auto companies expect to sell this year.

Reliability, once a marketing tool for manufacturers, has become their worst enemy."

McIntyre concludes, "Some analysts attribute slow car sales to high unemployment. Others say it is harder for consumers to get credit from stingy banks. Each of these things may be true, but cars that don't break down often make these other points academic."

Our family's record for car ownership goes to the black Volkswagen Beetle, which I bought new in April 1967 and sold in June, 1995. The new car I dumped quickest was my trouble-plagued 1976 Volkswagen Scirocco, purchased in late 1975 and traded in August, 1980.

Of the old cars I've owned, I've kept the '39 Plymouth the longest. It was my 1994 Father's Day gift; I still have it.

A Bridge Too Far: Construction is at least two years away, but the Columbia River Crossing has run up a tab of $108.5 million in bridge planning costs as of the end of September.

This is the price of theorizing, meeting costs and report generation. There has been no construction - nor even bid work - yet.

The proposed new bridge will employ an open-web stacked design that's never been built for a bridge of this size anywhere in the world. The stack includes automobile decks on top, with a pedestrian and bicycle path on the lower deck of one bridge and light rail running on the lower deck of the other span. The open web enables pedestrians and riders to peer out across the river "rather than being confined inside a segmental box."

Officials last estimated the cost of the bridge at between $600 million and $818 million, but the review will determine whether that's realistic.

This is a textbook case government waste and incompetence. And you just know that the final cost ... (more >>>)

joe sherlock blogSite Improvements: Over the last week or so, I've made a number of website improvements, adding more photos and graphics on quite a few archive pages. Many of the archival pages have also been reformatted for a cleaner look.

The Greatest Hits index page has been expanded as well.

Headline Of The Week is from The Onion: 'Microlender Forecloses On Goat.' Excerpt: "Representatives from One World Finance, a U.S.-based microcredit provider, confirmed Monday that they had initiated foreclosure proceedings on a goat in southern India following a borrower's repeated failure to make her $2.20 monthly loan payments."

Loan Officer Michael Conrad "also acknowledged that the owner had left the goat in "pretty bad shape" and had even stripped it of its hair for potential resale on the paintbrush market."

Quote Of The Day is from Tom McMahon: "On the box of Cheese Crackers it says "Made With Real Cheese". How come they don't make the same sort of claim for Animal Crackers?"


Thursday November 4, 2010

sherlock car blogA Glorious Day: Wednesday was beautiful - blue skies, clear views, including Mt. St. Helens which looked like the top of a giant snow-cone. I gassed up both our daily drivers and treated each to The Works at a car wash. They now sparkle.

By noon the temperature was a balmy 68 degrees, so I fired up the Plymouth and took it for a spin. I haven't driven the '39 in November in at least five years, if ever. This indicates how unusual the weather was. My scenic loop route still exhibited lots of Fall color although there were a ton of leaves on the ground.

Later - in the fading light of 5:30 pm, it was 71 degrees outside. This is November?

Two Out Of Three: Last week, we received recall notices for my 2008 Lexus (possible defective engine valves - 14 hours to replace) and for my wife's 2005 Avalon (possible leaky master brake cylinder).

We've heard nothing from Chrysler yet about any 1939 Plymouth recalls.

auto blogOctober Car Sales: Last month produced, decent - if unspectacular - results. Vehicle sales were at a 12.26 million SAAR in October. That's up 18% from October 2009, and up 5% from the September 2010 sales rate.

General Motors sold 183,759 vehicles, up 4% from a year ago. Buick sales increased by 39% over last year; Cadillac was up 15%. Chevrolet exhibited a more modest 7% gain.

FoMoCo sales were up 19% to 157,935 vehicles. The Ford brand grew by 21%; 5,520 Taurii were sold during the month, down 9% from '09. Lincoln sales grew less than 2% but zombie-brand Mercury saw a 12% increase. Lincoln only sold 1,085 of its flagship MKS sedans, a drop of 33%.

Chrysler's sales in October jumped 37% over last year's miserable count. The company sold 90,137 light vehicles in October, which is still short of its 'survival level' of 95,000 units/month. The top selling model by far was the redesigned Jeep Grand Cherokee - 12,721 sold versus 3,256 in 2009.

Toyota posted a 6% drop in sales, to 145,474 vehicles. 2,208 Avalons were sold - down 13% from a year ago. Lexus was up 12%; 1,202 LS sedans were delivered, an increase of 50%.

American Honda sales were up 16% in October. Biggest sellers are the Accord (24,344) and the CR-V (18,040). The juggernaut known as Hyundai was up 38%, driven by its volume-leader Sonata. Its sales soared by 125% to 17,505 units.

Jeepers, Peepers: Watching Brit Hume on Fox News' election night coverage, I couldn't help but notice that his eyes are a lot like Brent Musburger's.

Sounds like a possible song idea. Paging Kim Carnes.

Concession Speech: Even though the results won't be certified until December, it is apparent that I did not win election to the Washington Supreme Court.

I thank those who voted for me. I am somewhat relieved because I've heard that the dry cleaning bills for those black robes can be surprisingly steep. I congratulate Justice Madsen and wish her well.

Quote Of The Day is from Thomas Sowell: "Before becoming a perfectionist, you might think about the fact that the human race has survived for thousands of years without being anywhere close to perfection."


Wednesday November 3, 2010

Parade Phaeton: At Gooding's 2011 Scottsdale auction, one of the five surviving 1941 Chrysler Newport phaetons will go on the block. The LeBaron coachwork beauty, used as a parade car in its salad days, was shown at Pebble Beach in 2009.

Joe Sherlock auto blog

Gooding expects the Newport to fetch over $1 million.

I'm Patting Myself On The Back For This: On 12/30/08, reflecting on the shock and awe of the Obama election landslide, I wrote, "The Republican Party has been written off as dead. Expect it to revive, driven by forty-somethings who will sweep away the elderly movers and shakers of the last two-plus decades.

These upstarts will include young blog pundits, enthusiastic grassroots workers and fresh politicians who radiate strong principles, fiscal conservatism and social inclusiveness. And embrace a willingness to try new technology and use modern business techniques/technology to make government more efficient. And accountable.

Sarah Palin will play a significant role in that party's future."

And so it came to pass. In this mid-term election, Republicans gained 60-plus seats in the House, taking control. While the Senate remained in Democratic hands, Republicans have picked up 6-8 seats, including Barack Obama's former Senate seat.

Sherlock blogIn 2008, Obama won Washington state with an 18 point lead; 58% of Washington voters chose him versus a mere 40% vote for McCain. People wanted change.

This year, Republicans scored well in Blue Washington. Democrat Brian Baird's 3rd District Congressional seat went easily to Republican Jaime Herrera. Meanwhile, Baird is publishing a book about "character and values in politics."

Why now, Brian? Why not when you were actually in Congress for those twelve years? Too busy taking taxpayer-funded fact-finding trips to exotic places like the Galapagos Islands, I guess.

Who knows, Dino Rossi may actually pry that execrable phony über-liberal 'soccer-mom' Patty Murray outta her Senate seat. At this writing, the race is too close to call.

More good news: we'll not have an income tax in the Evergreen State; measure I-1098 went down in flames. Unfortunately, we'll still have to buy hard booze at state liquor stores. But the ridiculous soda and candy tax has been repealed.

For a mid-term election, turnout was surprisingly high throughout the U.S. In 2006, for example, voter participation was an apathetic 37%. Numbers for this election are expected to be much higher; some have suggested that it may approach 50%. (Regardless of which party wins, an engaged electorate is always a healthy thing.)

In my area - Clark County, WA - 67.9% of those registered actually voted. Statewide, there was an estimated 66% turnout - the biggest participation since 1970.

People were politically active this year. Many were angry about the economy and disturbed that the rock-'em-sock-'em combo of a Democratic president and Democratic Congress didn't fix it, as promised. Even those who had placed much blame on George Bush for our economic woes said, "Hey. After two years, something good ought to be happening."

We still have substantial unemployment, banks are failing at roughly 7 times 2008's rate and people's once-healthy 401-Ks remain anemic 201-K's.

Around my high-unemployment neck of the woods, the cry was 'Vote Jobs'. A metaphor for 'Throw The Bums Out'.

Many folks were also upset by the negatives of Obamacare: increased insurance premiums, hospitals closing, companies dropping/reducing coverage, etc. People wanted some kind of health care fix but the massive and intrusive 'change' wasn't what America was looking for.

car blogIt was as if people were unhappy with traffic congestion, so the Obama administration said, "Fine, we're gonna pass a law banning cars and requiring you to use public transit."

Oh wait, isn't Ray LaHood (Obama's Secretary of Transportation) already trying to do that?

Make no mistake. Tuesday's blowout was no victory for the Republican Party. Rather, it was a defeat for the super-liberal, intrusive and failed policies of the Obama administration. The Republicans are now merely on probation. In several states, Republican senators were replaced by more fiscally conservative Republicans.

America wants its runaway spending brought under control.

As John Podhoretz wrote in the New York Post, "This election isn't a coronation for the Republicans as it's a vote of no confidence in the Democrats."

The election is over. We the People have spoken. Now the real work begins.

Speaking Of Runaway Spending ... it has been reported that the cost of President Obama's extravagant trip to Bombay, India will be an unprecedented $200 million per day.

"About 3,000 people including Secret Service agents, US government officials and journalists would accompany the President. Several officials from the White House and US security agencies are already here for the past one week with helicopters, a ship and high-end security instruments."

Go, Rocky: In case you were wondering what Sylvester Stallone's political leanings were, he tweeted yesterday: "I voted; did you? Gotta get the Manchurian Candidate out of the driver's seat before we're ALL soaring off a cliff into Oblivion ... Be smart."

Yo. I guess he's the Anti-Tim Robbins.

Good News: Regardless of your political affiliation, you can rejoice in the knowledge that the robo-calls, campaign literature and election ads will end.

Quote Of The Day is from Frank J. Fleming: "In a much more sensible economy, hipsters would die of starvation."


Tuesday November 2, 2010

Sherlock automobile blogNAFTA Blowback: U.S. automaker Chrysler is building a $570 million engine plant in northern Mexico.

Chrysler plans to produce its new Pentastar V-6 engine at the plant in Saltillo, Coahuila for Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram vehicles.

Chrysler's sixth plant in Mexico will produce up to 440,000 engines per year.

Another Member Benefit: In the 1980s, I traveled extensively on business and was signed up with almost every frequent renter program/club. In recent years, I've done far less flying/car renting.

When I need a rental car these days, I look up various discount codes and then search for the best price. I usually end up with Enterprise Rent-A-Car because their prices are competitive and the cars are pretty decent.

autoblogI've been shopping for a rental for an upcoming trip and am appalled at the jump in prices. Last year - when the travel biz was pretty dead, I picked up a full-size car for less than $24 per day total, including all taxes and surcharges - great and small. This year, Enterprise wanted twice as much for the same vehicle.

While leafing through the Costco Connection magazine, I spotted a Costco/Budget program. I was able to get a full-size sedan from Budget for under $26/day - less than I paid for an Enterprise economy car back in 2008.

Thank you, Costco.

Don't Forget To Vote Today ... regardless of whom you vote for. You shouldn't whine about politicians if you refuse to participate in the game.

Who Knew? It Turns Out That Billy Was The Smarter Brother. Jimmy Carter has now proclaimed that he was elected president in 1976 "by many of the same elements that fuel the new Tea Party movement."

Keep It Artificial: Edith Zimmerman conducted a stink test on a bunch of 'all-natural deodorants' and has written, "I bought all the natural deodorants I could find (like 25 of them) ... Winners were determined not by actually winning but by being the side that smelled less terrible at the end of the day - I smelled bad 100% of the time."

This reminded me of that 2001 Simpsons episode, where Homer visits a funeral home and is assured by the mortician that the establishment had "all the leading brands of anti-stink spray." Products on display included 'Country Mourn', 'Mrs. Rotwell's' and 'Stank Off'.

Foliage Update: You know all those yellow and brown leaves in the photo I posted yesterday? Well, a big rain and wind storm arrived Monday around noon and that tree is now almost as naked as Charlie Sheen on a bender at the Plaza Hotel.

Quote Of The Day is from P. J O'Rourke: "Remember, your body needs 6 to 8 glasses of fluid daily. Straight up or on the rocks."


Monday November 1, 2010

No Baby, Please: General Motors Co. plans to build a new Cadillac small car at a plant in Lansing, MI. The automaker plans to invest $190 million at the Grand River Assembly plant to produce the new Cadillac ATS, a compact version of the Cadillac CTS luxury car, designed to take on the BMW-3-Series, C-Class Mercedes and other premium import-brand compacts.

Production of the ATS sedan is slated ... (more >>>)

Stamping The Death Certificate: Even though the last Pontiac rolled off the assembly line in November 2009, Pontiac was not officially declared dead until October 31st, when GM's agreements with Pontiac dealers expired.

joe sherlock auto blog

I have posted background information and personal Pontiac memories here.

Cardboard Trade: During our Walla Walla trip last month, we purchased home several cases of local wine. Examining the cardboard boxes, I noticed that some of them came from outside the U.S.

Two came from Mexico (Monterrey and Apodaca) and another proclaimed "glass and carton made in China."

International trade presents a serious dilemma for any business owner. Do you 'buy local' and charge a premium?

Or, do you shoot for the best price/quality bottles and cartons you can, sending those glass worker and carton maker jobs offshore? And hope that the lower costs will give you some extra profit dollars to spend on marketing and promotion, so that you can grow your own company and hire more people here in the U.S.

The answer ... (more >>>)

Fall Enchantment: I have a feeling that Friday was the last nice day of the season. The skies were bright blue with wispy clouds, the grass had that characteristic Fall pool-table green shading, the burning bush remained intense red and crimson and there were still yellow leaves left on some deciduous trees with just enough brown ones intermixed to remind us that it was time to get the Halloween candy out.

Joe Sherlock automobile blog

After lunch, my wife and I sat in the sun on the back deck and sipped wine in the 56 degree afternoon sunshine, contemplating the good life.

The rain returned Saturday.

RIP: Denise Borino, who played Johnny Sack's very plus-size wife on The Sopranos, has died of liver cancer at age 46.

Theodore C. Sorensen, close adviser and speechwriter to John F. Kennedy, has died at 82. He was Kennedy's political strategist and suspected ghostwriter of JFK's Pulitzer-winning book, 'Profiles in Courage'.

There's an old story that Richard Nixon complimented author Sorensen on Kennedy's inaugural speech, adding, "I wish I'd said some of those things."

Sorensen asked, "Do you mean the part that began, 'Ask not what your country can do for you?'"

Nixon reportedly replied, "No, I was thinking of the part that started with, 'I do solemnly swear ...'"

Nightmare On Krugman Street: Mark Hemingway has written that New York Times economist Paul Krugman is full of doom and gloom about tomorrow's election.

Krugman recently forecast, "This is going to be terrible. In fact, future historians will probably look back at the 2010 election as a catastrophe for America, one that condemned the nation to years of political chaos and economic weakness."

Hemingway has noted that the notoriously erroneous Krugman made the following recommendation in 2002: "To fight this recession the Fed needs more than a snapback; it needs soaring household spending to offset moribund business investment. And to do that, as Paul McCulley of Pimco put it, Alan Greenspan needs to create a housing bubble to replace the Nasdaq bubble."

We all know how that worked out.

I remember back in the idyllic days of 1998, Krugman offered this prognostication, "By 2005 or so, it will become clear that the Internet's impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine's."

I've added that one to my Bad Predictions list.

Jonah Goldberg gets the last word. A few years ago, he wrote, "I could have sworn, reading Paul Krugman, that we were hair's width from a barter economy, where we eat grass and wake up to the sound of "bring out your dead!" every other morning."

Quote Of The Day is from Stewie Griffin on ice cream: "No sprinkles. For every sprinkle I find, I shall kill you."


Disclaimer

This blog is about cars, automobiles, vehicles of various sorts and more.

The facts presented in this car blog are based on my best guesses and my substantially faulty geezer memory. The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and are protected by the U.S. Constitution. Probably.

Spelling, punctuation and syntax errors are cheerfully repaired when I find them; grudgingly fixed when you do.

If I have slandered any brands of automobiles, either expressly or inadvertently, they're most likely crap cars and deserve it. Automobile manufacturers should be aware that they always have the option of trying to change my mind by providing me with vehicles to test drive.

If I have slandered any people, politicians, celebrities or corporations in this blog, either expressly or inadvertently, they should buy me strong drinks (and an expensive meal), while patiently attempting to prove that they're not the jerks I've portrayed them to be. If you're buying, I'm willing to listen.

Don't be shy - try a bribe. It might help.

copyright 2010 - Joseph M. Sherlock - All applicable rights reserved


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