Monday January 31, 2011
Panic In The Streets - The Birth Of The 1960 Ford: Early postwar Detroit was a clubby, old-boy network town. Secrets were spilled over drinks at posh bars. Consultant George Walker was hired to help with the '49 Ford design. (He later became Ford's Vice-President of Design.)
When stylist Joe Oros came up with the '49's spinner grille, Walker realized that Pontiac was designing an almost identical one for its 1949 model. Walker leaked the information to ... (more >>>)
Kudos To FoMoCo ... which has announced its biggest annual profit in a decade. The automaker booked $8.3 billion in pre-tax profits for 2010 - a $3.8 billion increase from '09. Ford's worldwide sales are up over 13% from last year.
By not declaring bankruptcy, Ford gained customers who found the Government Motors idea distasteful. Its continued refreshing of older models and slew of new products has also helped. Last year's restyle of the aging Ford Fusion has made it a nuch better-looking car than the original 2006 model. There have been interior and powertrain improvements as well.
Right now, Ford has a weak presence in China, which might be an advantage if there is a collapse of the alleged China Bubble. Reuters has reported that Wall Street wasn't impressed by the latest numbers, noting that "earnings fell far short of expectations as costs for raw materials and new vehicle launches surged and its business in Europe suffered an unexpected loss, driving its shares down 12%." Oh well. You can't please everybody.
The other challenge for Ford - and everyone else - is the worldwide overcapacity in car-making. All the manufacturers at war for market share ... everywhere. It's a very competitive world.
My Favorite: Last year, Alaska Airlines had the best record of on-time flights among major North America carriers.
In related news, Alaska Air is ditching the Horizon Airlines name from its feeder/short-hop airline subsidiary. The distinctive Horizon sun logos will be repainted with the Alaska Airlines' Eskimo logo.
The Seattle parent of Alaska Airlines said Horizon's planes, mainly Bombardier Q400s, will be repainted with 'Alaska' across the fuselage and the happy Eskimo on the tail.
Every time I see an Alaska Air plane, I start salivating and thinking about a frozen, chocolate-covered Eskimo Pie.
The move, officials said, "follows a shift made earlier this year to a new business model that aligns more closely with the rest of the regional airline industry."
I've never had any problems when flying little Horizon but I've heard that, behind the scenes, the Alaska and Horizon people don't play well together. That's why the parent company has kept them separated all these years.
Best Headline on Egypt Crisis has been posted over at Ace by R.D. Brewer: 'If Only Mubarak Had Invested In High-Speed Rail'.
Runner-up is from The People's Cube: 'Joe Biden Says Egypt Protests Just A Big Pyramid Scheme'.
Make A Weird Noise In His Memory: Charlie Callas has died at age 86. Known for his rubbery face, trademark nervous chattering and odd noises. He was seen a lot in the 1970s and appeared in Mel Brooks' 'Silent Movie', 'History of the World: Part I' and the television series 'Switch'.
He was parodied on The Simpsons in a 2002 episode where a cartoon Callas appeared in a Branson, MO has-been musical revue along with co-stars Ray Jay Johnson, Mr. T, Charo, Yakov Smirnoff, Bonnie Franklin and Adrian Zmed. (On the way to Branson, the Simpsons took the wrong bus and ended up in the fictional town of Bronson, where all the inhabitants looked and sounded like Charles Bronson.) RIP, Charlie.
In related news, David Frye, a well-known impressionist whose wicked send-ups of political figures like Lyndon B. Johnson, Hubert H. Humphrey, and - most of all - Richard M. Nixon, made him one of the most popular comedians in the U.S. in the late 1960s and early '70s, has died at age 77.
Here's Frye channeling Nixon: "Today I have regretfully been forced to accept the resignations of 1,541 of the finest public servants it has ever been my privilege to know. As the man in charge, I must accept full responsibility, but not the blame. Let me explain the difference. People who are to blame lose their jobs; people who are responsible do not."
David F. also did a wonderfully over-the-top William F. Buckley with the darting tongue, twisting posture and wildly searching, hooded eyes. RIP. (permalink)
Orange: Tom Ridge's color-coded alert levels are going away. I only remember the yellow and orange levels, although I think they had a fuchsia level in case Homeland Security discovered a group of mad, gay Islamists armed with weapons of mass destruction.
What will replace it? Frank J. Fleming has speculated that "robots will warn us of when a terror attack is about to happen by failing their arms wildly and shouting, 'Danger, America! Danger!'"
Or: "Alerts of terror attacks will be done by lanterns in a steeple. One if by bomb, two if by anthrax."
Quote Of The Day: "Congressmen should wear uniforms like NASCAR drivers so we could identify their corporate sponsors."
Friday January 28, 2011
Aren't Ferraris Are Supposed To Be Beautiful? The 2012 Ferrari FF is almost as hideous as the Rainbow show car of 1976. Epic fail.
Book Review: 'Overhaul: An Insider's Account of the Obama Administration's Emergency Rescue of the Auto Industry' by Steven Rattner
This is a good book, written by a uniquely informed source. I have criticized the philosophy of the auto bailouts and some of the solutions implemented but I learned much from the Rattner's book. Thankfully, the author has created an interesting, fast-paced read.
Rattner has a good command of the facts and, while he clearly has a liberal point of view, he spreads criticism and praise exactly where he feels it belongs, regardless of political philosophy or party affiliation.
Some reviewers have called this page-turner "self-serving." Maybe, but Steve's book is the first out and right now its the only game in town.
When the auto bailouts were first proposed ... (more >>>)
Best Car-Related Dialogue ... From The Simpsons: Realizing that Homer and Marge are being too nice, Bart exclaims, "That's it! They're selling us to be crash test dummies."
Lisa implores, "Oh please, let it be Volvo!"
Robo-Clean: Windoro, the window-cleaning robot, consists of two modules that go on opposite sides of the window and hold each other using permanent magnets.
Its creators say that it's designed for cleaning windows at homes and stores. One of the robot's modules ... (more >>>)
The Sputnik Speech: Ann Coulter has reacted to President Obama's State of the Union address, noting that "the same president who quadrupled our deficit by giving money away to his UAW pals, Wall Street cronies and government workers is now lecturing us about earmarks. This is a bit like being scolded by Charlie Sheen for ordering a second wine cooler."
"Obama said, "We are the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook."
And then the government outlawed Edison's great invention, made the Wright brothers' air travel insufferable, filed anti-trust charges against Microsoft and made cars too expensive to drive by prohibiting oil exploration, and right now - at this very minute - is desperately trying to regulate the Internet."
"I especially enjoyed his pitch for high-speed trains where you "don't have to receive pat-downs." At least until one of those Muslims who is "part of our American family" blows one up - at which point they'll be staffed with armies of genital-fondling, unionized TSA agents on the public dime."
Don't forget that Benito Mussolini implemented more efficient rail service and that Nazis brought Germans the record-setting, high-speed (124 mph) Berlin to Hamburg train, dubbed The Flying Hamburger. Just sayin'.
Ann concluded, "Still, I can't wait for Obama's America. An America where I can use lightning-fast, high-speed Internet to file electronically for my unemployment benefits. Or better yet, I can ditch my old "oil-powered" car and take a "sunlight and water"-powered high-speed train to the unemployment office for a change."
More On The Speech: Scott Grannis has observed that "Obama's biggest weakness is his lack of understanding of how the economy really works. That weakness has already cost us $1 trillion, and what he said in his SOTU speech ... shows that this was a lot of money down the drain, because he learned very little from his failures these past two years. He continues to believe that enlightened politicians can boost economic growth much like a good coach can whip a team or a star player into shape."
The speech "was Coach Obama's pep talk before the big game. Problem is, he still doesn't understand the game of economic growth, so there is little chance that his coaching will prove effective."
The Meaning Of WTF: Sarah Palin has also weighed in: "The President's State of the Union address boiled down to this message: "The era of big government is here as long as I am, so help me pay for it." He dubbed it a "Winning The Future" speech, but the title's acronym seemed more accurate than much of the content."
It is amazing to me that Obama and his advisors, who are at least a generation younger than me, do not understand the double entendre created by their acronym. How clueless are these people?
"You Can Call Me Up For A Date Any Old Time ..." Gladys Horton of The Marvelettes has died age 66.
The group's most recognized hits included 'Please Mr. Postman' in 1961 and the follow-up 1962 single 'Beachwood 4-5789', which - in those ancient days - was a phone number. (In 1962, my phone number was Jefferson 5-8111 until the summer when we moved. Then it became Devonshire 8-3193.)
Novelty-toy entrepreneur Milton Levine has died at age 97. He introduced Uncle Milton's Ant Farm, which was an instant hit in the fad-crazy 1950s. Since then, more than 20 million of the now-familiar green ant colonies have been sold.
The whimsical ant community was one more offbeat product from a company that marketed plastic shrunken heads to hang on rear-view mirrors and spud guns that fired potato pellets. He advertised them in newspapers by proclaiming: "Watch the ants dig tunnels and build bridges." He received so many orders for the $1.98 product he "couldn't believe it." RIP, Gladys and Milton.
Speaking of death-related matters, what's the difference between writing your will and owning an ant farm? A: One is a legacy and the other is a sea of legs.
Man Bites Dog Department: A Chicago motivational speaker for an anti-violence group has been charged with domestic battery.
Cops were called to the Burlington Coat Factory after another shopper reported walking out of the store and seeing a man hitting a woman inside a car parked in the fire lane in front of the store.
The shopper reported seeing the man remove a toddler from the car and put him back in the front passenger seat of the vehicle before turning around from the driver's seat and punching a woman in the back seat.
The shopper told police she ran inside to call for help and, when she exited again, the car had relocated to a different part of the parking lot where the man continued to attack the woman.
The cops stopped his car and arrested him a few miles east of the store. "The child was sitting in the front seat of the car without a child's safety seat and the woman was in the back seat of the car with cuts on her face."
Bad Pun of the Day: Police are searching for a thief who robs his victims by threatening them with a lighted match. They want to catch him before he strikes again.
Thursday January 27, 2011
Forties Beauty: Arizona Auctions Week netted a sale for a 1941 Chrysler Newport Dual Cowl Phaeton of $1,017,500. It had been offered by Gooding & Co.
One of five made, this LeBaron-bodied beauty was used as a parade car during its salad days and was shown at Pebble Beach in 2009, scoring 99.5 points. It has a cream exterior and a red leather interior. This Newport - the first of five produced - made its debut at the New York Auto Show in October, 1940.
I've always loved the lines of the Newport and finally saw one in person - a stunning red one once owned by Lana Turner - during a visit to Harrah's (Reno) in 1984. I also have a 1:43 scale metallic green example, made by Brooklin Models long ago.
Gooding also claimed it made the biggest sale of Scottsdale auction week with a 2006 Ferrari FXX Evoluzione (860 horsepower, one of 30 built) that rung the bell at $2,090,000. (permalink)
Equipment Change: Earlier this week, I packed away the Lionel Hiawatha set on the lower level of the model train layout and replaced it with the big Pennsylvania Railroad T-1 steam locomotive, pulling a set of tuscan Broadway Limited passenger cars.
Just behind the tender is my 2010 Father's Day gift: a semi-streamlined Railway Express refrigerated car, which matches the color and shape of the PRR passenger consist.
Now that I'm feeling better, I'm spending more time with my trains.
Bang Bang: What is with this outbreak of people shooting at cops? Especially this week. Have people been listening to that old 1966 Cher song too much or something?
Man, I just hope they don't target Chief Wiggum. Best Clancy quotes:
• "Can't you people take the law into your own hands? I mean, we can't be policing the entire city!"
• "This is Wiggum, reporting a 318: Waking a police officer!"
• "This is Papa Bear. Put out an APB for a male suspect, driving a... car of some sort, heading in the direction of, uh, you know, that place that sells chili. Suspect is hatless. Repeat, hatless."
• "See ya in court, Simpson. Oh, and bring that evidence with ya, otherwise, I got no case and you'll go scot-free."
• "You know, fingerprints are just like snowflakes. They're both very pretty."
• Testifying in court: "Sideshow Bob has no decency. He called me Chief Piggum!"
• "All right, you scrawny beanpoles: becoming a cop is not something that happens overnight. It takes one solid weekend of training to get that badge."
• "No jury in the world is going to convict a baby ... well, maybe Texas."
Restaurant Review: Stardust Diner; Vancouver, WA
Located in east Vancouver on SE 164th Avenue, this stainless steel recreation of a classic 1950s diner offers an authentic diner experience.
I've eaten here several times since the place opened in the mid-1990s. The food is well-prepared, tasty and the portions are plentiful.
Prices at the Stardust are diner-reasonable. Everything appears to be ... (more >>>)
Headline Of The Week is from The Onion: 'Johnson & Johnson Introduces Self-Lotioning Baby'.
"Responding to increased demands for easily moisturized infants, the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical company unveiled its latest product Monday, a self-lotioning baby.
"Parents no longer have to worry about manually lubricating their newborn infants," said spokesman Dale Rosteroz, couples need only mail in their sperm, an egg, and specify if they want their baby to secrete lavender or unscented lotion. "Nine months later, we'll send them a baby who can produce up to 40 fluid ounces of dermatologist-tested and dye-free lotion every month."
Rosteroz added that if parents act now they will receive 10 percent off a Johnson & Johnson bronchial atomizer to remove the lotion that will inevitably build up in the baby's lungs."
Question Of The Day is from Steven Wright: "Who is General Failure and why is he reading my hard disk?"
Wednesday January 26, 2011
Rent Me: According to Automotive Lease Guide, Chrysler was the Queen of Hired Cars last year, with 49% of production going to rental car fleets. Mercury was next at 36%, followed by Dodge (32%), Chevrolet (26%) and Jeep (18%).
Cadillac was the top luxury brand in the Rent-A-Car corral with 17% of production landing in asphalt airport lots.
General Failure: I've just finished reading 'Overhaul: An Insider's Account of the Obama Administration's Emergency Rescue of the Auto Industry' by Steven Rattner. Citing many specific examples, Rattner's tome has decisively demonstrated that GM's management was clueless, insular and had no believable financial controls. He wrote that senior executives "spent 80% or their time gathering data and only 20% analyzing it."
Steve Rattner's Team Auto established a goal of not only rescuing a failing General Motors but also putting in place the right management to assure future success. Now that Team Auto is gone, things at GM seem to be reverting to the bad old days.
Over at AutoBlog, John McElroy is very concerned, noting that Mary Barra is now in charge of product development. "She's tasked with developing new cars faster and at lower cost. ... GM's new CEO Dan Akerson openly admits he's not a car guy and is clearly impatient with GM's product cadence. He wants things to move a lot faster, and he wants to take out a lot of cost. That's why he put Barra in charge."
Big companies have a tough time doing good product development hastily and inexpensively. And doing things "on the cheap" was a big ... (more >>>)
Speculation 2012: Recently, John Hinderaker at Powerline wrote, "Palin for President? Forget it."
Others have said the same about Mitt Romney.
When I read such stuff, I chuckle. I remember "experts" claiming that Reagan was too much of a "wild cowboy" to ever be elected president. Or that Nixon's political career was "over" in '62.
The fact is, it's simply too early to make predictions. Don't believe that? Just travel back 44 years.
I was just beginning my business career in '67. Unlike the "historic" clips that are run on television these days, hippies were not everywhere. One rarely saw people on the street dressed like the Mommas & Pappas. Some of us grew sideburns though. (Oh, the horror!)
People went about their daily lives just like today, working, shopping, drinking and watching television. Except ... (more >>>)
My Two Cents: That said, I personally think the Republicans would be nuts to run old, tired racehorses like Huckabee, Romney, Gingrich, Guiliani or Ron Paul again. These guys are starting to remind me of perennial Republican candidate Harold Stassen. (Harold Stassen? Man, that oughta measure 5.7 or so on the Obscure References Meter.)
In a 2006 episode of The Simpsons, perpetual loser ol' Gil prepared breakfast for Bart and Lisa and asked, "Hey, who wants some eggs a la Harold Stassen? They're always running!"
These geezers represent the past; what's the GOP needs is a dynamic 40 or 50-something. Maybe even Sarah Palin. Pair her with Michele Bachmann as the VP candidate and use the The Soup's slogan:
Miscommunication: When I was in high school, I thought 'rectilinear' was a fancy way of saying 'straight up your ass.' So, I peppered my invectives with things like: "Rectilinear to you, jerk!"
I also thought that 'incontinent' meant going to Europe. I used to tell people, "I can't wait 'till I'm older and am incontinent."
Of course, I couldn't go to Europe back then. Because, in those days before airline deregulation, airfares were absolutely rectilinear.
Investment Advice: If you're saving up for new shrubbery for your home, tell people you're investing in a Hedge Fund. It sounds more impressive.
Bad Pun Of The Day: What do you call a fish with no eyes? A: A fsh.
Tuesday January 25, 2011
Spending Money Is Back In Style, I Guess: RM Auctions is calling its 2011 Arizona auction - held at the posh Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa in Phoenix, where my wife and I stayed 33 years ago (in the Wrigley Mansion, with the bill paid by my Fortune 500 employer) - an unqualified success, posting a record $30.8 million in sales with a 96% sell-through - the highest ever in the event's 12-year history.
The auction's top earner was a 1949 Ferrari 166MM Barchetta, which sold for $1,870,000. The car was a matching-numbers Mille Miglia veteran and the 10th of just 25 examples built. Second was a maroon 1933 Packard Twelve Sport Phaeton (body by Dietrich), that fetched $1,760,000, closely followed by a 1929 Duesenberg Model J dual cowl Phaeton driven by Elvis Presley in the film 'Spinout'. It crossed the block at $1,237,500.
Hemmings commented, "Perhaps the most surprising of those elite four was the sale of a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL for a whopping $1.375 million - blowing past its pre-auction estimate of $700,000-$800,000. The car is said to have had $300,000 lavished on it during its restoration five years ago, but had no special ownership or racing history." This was a new auction record for a steel-bodied 300SL gullwing.
Other results included a black and ivory 1939 Bugatti Type 57C three-position drophead coupe sold for $913,000 and a two-seat 1964 Dodge Hemi Charger concept show car that went at $715,000.
A 1930 Cadillac V-16 roadster reached $577,500 and a Bahama Blue 1956 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz convertible with a blue and white leather interior fetched a surprising (to me, anyway) $286,000.
A tan over brown 1926 Duesenberg Model A dual-windshield Phaeton sold for a "bargain" $275,000.
Well, you know what they say about money: "You can't take it with you." Of course, that's true for an old car as well.
Overinflation Causes Explosion: German porn star Sexy Cora - real name Carolin Berger - died after suffering a brain hemorrhage during her sixth breast enlargement operation. She was in hospital to have her breasts boosted to 34G.
This can happen with tires, too.
Counterfeit: Fake Rolexes are often inscribed with 'Rolexx' to fool the unsophisticated; many fly-by-night outfits choose names close to a well-establisher brand. There's the famous 1992 episode of The Simpsons where a bum related the tale of how he owned the 'Mickey Mouse Massage Parlors' until the "Disney sleazeballs" shut him down, despite his offer to "change the logo and put Mickey's pants back on."
Looking at photos from the West Philadelphia "house of horrors" abortion clinic, I found that one of its operating names was 'Women's Medical Society', an appellation suspiciously close to Philadelphia's historic Women's Medical Hospital which closed in 2005.
In 1850, the world's first medical school for women opened in Philadelphia. Founded by Quaker businessmen, clergy and physicians, Women's Medical College was the first medical school in the world to provide medical education exclusively for women. Ann Preston, a member of the first graduating class, founded the Woman's Hospital of Philadelphia, which was later renamed Women's Medical.
In the early 1950s, my aunt was treated at Women's Medical Hospital with one of the few postwar linear accelerator devices in the area. Most hospitals didn't have such things back then. Cancer treatment didn't work very well in those days and radiation beams were not well focused by todays standards. Laypeople used to refer to these treatments as "nuclear bomb therapy."
In its prime, Women's Medical represented the gold standard in medical care. It's a shame that murderous scumbag Dr. Gosnell tried to tarnish its name with his sleazy abortion mill.
Flour, Corn Or Juan? A 22-year-old Brooklyn man has died after falling into tortilla-mixer in NY. Investigators believe that the freak accident happened when he tried to retrieve an item after dropping it inside the waist-high machine.
Quote Of The Day is from Kermit the Frog: "Time's fun when you're having flies."
Monday January 24, 2011
I Hadn't Thought About That: Jeff Glucker of AutoBlog has asked, "Will you have to pay for returning half-charged rental EVs?"
"At the present time, Enterprise (the largest rental car company in North America) has no plans to charge for EVs needing a juice boost."
Hmmmm. Isn't that discrimination against gas vehicle renters?
Dog Bites Volvo: A Pecos, NM man is suing his neighbors, claiming their dog attacked a 1999 Volvo S80 parked in his yard, causing $2,000 in damage.
The dog allegedly tore the plastic rear driver's-side quarter off and "actually bit down on the steel of the apron and tore away part of the rear bumper and left some of its blood in one spot."
Car owner Richard Lienau said he later found in his yard bits of plastic the dog apparently had ripped from the Volvo's undercarriage and chewed up.
On Track: On Sunday, I removed the Aerotrain set from my O-gauge model train layout and replaced it with the big Pennsylvania Railroad Mallet steam locomotive pulling a consist of PRR heavyweight passenger cars headed by a Railway Express reefer car.
Moral Relativism: For the past couple of weeks, we've heard the Left call for civil discourse. And an end to violence.
Last week, a West Philadelphia doctor who ran a "house of horrors" abortion clinic has been charged in the deaths of one woman and seven babies, who prosecutors say were born alive then killed with scissors.
Kermit Gosnell, 69, raked in millions over 30 years performing illegal and late-term abortions. Officials described his squalid clinic like something out of a horror movie. "There were bags and bottles holding aborted fetuses were scattered throughout the building," said Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. "There were jars, lining shelves, with severed feet that he kept for no medical purpose."
The grand jury report said the clinic had blood on the floor, a stench of urine in the air and cat feces on the stairs when agents raided it.
Gosnell has been named in at least 15 malpractice suits, but Williams said state regulators ignored ... (more >>>)
The Great Society: This abortion clinic horror is just another example of the great rip in the nation's social fabric initiated by Lyndon B. Johnson when he decided to "help the poor."
Black economics professor Walter Williams has written, "The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery couldn't do, what Jim Crow couldn't do, what the harshest racism couldn't do. And that is to destroy the black family."
More thoughts from Professor Williams can be found here. (permalink)
Now Exercising By Pushing Up Daisies: Fitness guru Jack LaLanne, the seemingly eternal master of health and fitness who first popularized the idea that Americans should work out and eat right to retain youthfulness and vigor, has died at age 96.
A former bodybuilder, at age 40, LaLanne swam the entire length of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, underwater, with 140 pounds of equipment, including two air tanks. In 1959, he did 1,000 star jumps and 1,000 chin-ups in 1 hour, 22 minutes.
In 1976, at age 62, he swam one mile in Long Beach Harbor to commemorate the U.S. Bicentennial. He was handcuffed and shackled, and he towed 13 boats (representing the 13 original colonies) containing 76 people.
LaLanne presented fitness and exercise advice on television for 34 years. 'The Jack LaLanne Show' was the longest running television exercise program. He also sold vitamins and juicers. Jack was inducted to the California Hall of Fame and had a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. RIP. (permalink)
Oh Well, There's Always Milhouse: Libtard TV host Keith Olbermann has been canned from MSNBC.
Friday January 21, 2011
Who Knew? Sometimes, Hillary Clinton looks like an old Cadillac.
I'm still trying to figure out if Teddy Roosevelt looks more like a 1953 DeSoto or a 1950 Buick. (permalink)
Perfection In Scale: Louis Chenot of Carl Junction, Missouri, director of mechanical engineering for Leggett & Platt - an automotive supplier, has created a stunning 1/6th scale model of a 1932 Duesenberg SJ phaeton.
It took six years and an estimated 15,000 hours to build.
The Sopranos 2011: Federal prosecutors arrested 127 Mafia guys in New York and New Jersey. Defendants include Michael 'Jello' Kuhtenia, Vincenzo 'Vinnie Carwash' Frogiero and Frank 'Meatball' Bellatoni.
I can't wait to see the full list - just to read the rest of the nicknames. A few more have emerged: 'Tony Bagels', 'Johnny Pizza', 'Lumpy' and 'The Bull'.
"U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said at a news conference Thursday in New York City that the defendants include high-ranking members of the Gambino and Colombo crime families and the reputed former boss of organized crime in New England.
Holder says the charges cover decades worth of offenses, including hits to eliminate perceived rivals, a killing during a botched robbery and a double shooting in a barroom dispute over a spilled drink."
Wake me when he starts arresting Black Panther voter intimidators in Philly.
Put Down Of The Week is from Ace who noted that "the leftist writer in question writes for some minor regional paper (which I'm guessing is free and exists mainly as a vehicle for coupons for all-male burlesque shows) ..."
I can only add a Muntzy, "Haw Haw."
Quote Of The Day is from Casey Stengel: "Never make predictions, especially about the future."
Thursday January 20, 2011
Goin' Nowhere: In 2010, we did less driving than in 2009.
We put less than 8,300 miles on our cars versus almost 9,800 last year - a drop of 15% or so. Why? Less driving around trying to find stuff in stores (bought more online) and substantially less business travel (retirement will do that).
Jobless Recovery: Clark County's unemployment rate held steady at 13.1% in December, still one of the highest in Washington state.
Camelot Remembered: Today is the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's inauguration. My thoughts on JFK are posted here.
It Was Probably Rump Roast: The Italian Supreme Court has ruled that an unexpected slap on a woman's bottom (aka - pacca sul sedere) at work could not be labeled sexual harassment as long as men didn't make a habit of it.
I swear I saw 'Pacca sul Sedere' on the menu at the Olive Garden. On the 'Taste of Tuscany' page, I believe. (permalink)
Wine Tasting: The Cabernet Sauvignon served at Thursday's state dinner for China's president Hu Jintao came from Washington State: Quilceda Creek Cabernet 'Columbia Valley' 2005.
It was served with rib eye but also goes well with Pacca sul Sedere.
PS: I've never tasted this wine; at $199/bottle, it's well above my self-imposed price ceiling.
Quote Of The Day is from Adam Corolla: "Ironically, the Berkeley-educated white folk who attack me and say, 'Not ALL black men are in prison' and 'Not ALL Muslim men are terrorists' are the first ones to get the petition going to have a peanut-free school because ONE kid has an allergy."
Wednesday January 19, 2011
Buh Bye: In an article, '10 American Companies That Will Disappear in 2011', Douglas McIntyre has put Saab USA on the list. He pointed out that "Saab is one of the few car firms that did not recover when the U.S. car market expanded last year."
McIntyre has noted that "American car companies have also created new lines of vehicles that have begun to sell well, particularly in the middle market where Saab operates."
He concluded, "There's no room in the American market for a tiny operator like Saab."
I've written before that Saab as always been a cult car of sorts. It had limited appeal but garnered a loyal following of skiers, tweedy college professors, pipe-smoking fiction writers and angular, manly women. Saabs were mostly seen in the mid-Atlantic states and New England.
As a specialty manufacturer with a limited line of vehicles and a relatively small fan base, Saab always had a difficult time making money.
Saabs were popular in Scandinavia but never racked up much in the way of sales elsewhere on the Continent. Italy is full of European cars but I never saw a Saab there. Same for France and Germany.
Given its low sales and lack of profits, I expect Saab to disappear entirely - sooner rather than later.
Phone Tip: If you're calling a company, don't know anybody and a gatekeeper is giving you grief, ask for "Brad in Sales."
There's a Brad in every Sales Department.
If that doesn't work, ask for "Chris in Tech Support."
Well Said: Many thanks to Don Surber, who has summed up my feelings succinctly: "For a decade, from the election of Bush 43 forward, the Left has lied and cheated as it tried to return to power.
Al Gore made a mockery out of the American electoral system by being a spoilsport over Florida, which Bush indeed won by 537 votes. Dan Rather forged a document to try to derail Bush's re-election. Twice Democrats stole U.S. senators from the Republicans.
After voting to support the war to get by the 2002 election, many Democrats quickly soured on the war. The profane protests were cheered by liberals who misattributed "dissent is the highest form of patriotism" to Thomas Jefferson; the words belong to the late historian Howard Zinn.
Once in power, liberals were the opposite of gracious.
For two years now, I have been called ignorant, racist, angry and violent by the left. The very foul-mouthed protesters of Bush dare to now label my words as "hate speech."
Last week, the left quickly blamed the right for the national tragedy of a shooting spree by a madman who never watched Fox News, never listened to Rush Limbaugh and likely did not know who Sarah Palin is.
Fortunately, the American public rejected out of hand that idiotic notion that the right was responsible.
Rather than apologize, the left wants to change the tone of the political debate.
The left suddenly wants civil discourse.
The left wants to play games of semantics.
The left wants us to be civil - after being so uncivil for a decade.
Question Of The Week is from Tom McMahon: "Do buckets have a list of things they want to do before they die?"
Tuesday January 18, 2011
Cadillac Town Car: Hemmings has reported that RM Auctions will offer a spiffy 1956 Cadillac concept car at its Amelia Island auction in March.
Officially known as the Eldorado Brougham Town Car, this opulent exercise was part of the 1956 GM Motorama. The styling foretold the look of the $13,000 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham four-door hardtop of 1957-58.
The passenger compartment of the Town Car contained "such items as a radio-telephone combination, air-conditioning equipment, a women's vanity compartment, cigar humidor and thermos bottle."
Nothing says luxury better than a thermos bottle. (Remember Steve Martin in 'The Jerk'?)
It keeps hot things hot and cold things cold. How does it know which is which?
Mental Cases: Eric Fuller, who was wounded in the shooting rampage in Tucson, has blamed Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and the Tea party for the tragedy.
Over the weekend, Fuller crashed an ABC town hall meeting. When State Rep. Terri Proud (R-Tucson) rose to explain and clarify current and proposed gun legislation in the state, several people groaned or booed her. One of those booing, according to several witnesses, was Fuller. Shortly thereafter, Fuller told a local Arizona tea party leader "you're dead" ... (more >>>)
Quote Of The Day is from Henny Youngman: "The hotel I'm in has a lovely closet. A nail."
Monday January 17, 2011
Sleeper Buses: I had never heard of them before but road vehicles with Pullman-style accommodations were cruising the nation's highways and byways in the 1930s.
Last month, I watched the 1939 movie 'Babes In Arms', starring Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. In one scene, Judy boards a double-decker sleeper bus to travel from ... (more >>>)
Vanity Auction: While other states try to figure out how to handle their growing deficits, Texas decided to replenish its coffers by auctioning off desirable vanity plates to the highest bidder. The top bid: FERRARI at a record-setting $15,000.
GIDDY UP was lassoed for $2,500. AMERICA sold for a bargain at $3,000, while BEST MOM fetched $3,750.
Winners have use of the plates for 25 years.
Thanks, NAFTA: My old, broken 1967 Weller soldering gun was made in Easton, PA.
The legendary Philadelphia bakery said it received $2 million from the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp., $1 million from the state Department of Community and Economic Affairs and $3.5 million from investors. In addition, Citizens Bank and other lenders agreed to put off payments and not to declare the company in default until June 30.
Quote Of The Day is from Rita Rudner: "I love being married. It's so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life."
Friday January 14, 2011
Sometimes Playing It Safe Is The Biggest Risk: Honda took the wraps off concept versions of its 2012 Civic Si coupe and Civic sedan this week at the Detroit Auto show. The concepts previewed an evolutionary design that takes minimal risk and "seeks to serve the compact market with the widest variety of models in the segment."
Sales of the Civic have been stagnant lately. The last time this happened, Honda introduced the boldly-styled 2006 Civic and sales soared. Perhaps, the automaker should have strove for a more ground-breaking style this time around as well.
Showtime: Jack Baruth of TTAC gets first prize for Most Interesting Coverage of the Detroit Auto Show.
Actually, he needs to share his award with his lady friend, Vodka McBigbra, who asked some of the best questions - including this exchange with a Lincoln PR flack about the MKZ hybrid:
V. McB: "This has batteries?"
Lincoln PR: "Well, yes."
V. McB: "Batteries wear out. Like, one time I had a cell phone and the battery wore out, and nobody would sell me a new one. How much do batteries cost for this car?"
Lincoln PR: "Well, we haven't had to replace any yet, but …"
V. McB: "I'd want to know that before I bought the car."
Well done, Vodka.
"Fairness As A Guide For Public Policy Lays The Groundwork For Tyranny." So wrote economics professor and columnist Walter Williams.
Williams continued, "Last summer, I purchased a 2010 LS 460 Lexus, through a U.S. intermediary (Lexus dealer), from a Japanese producer for $70,000.
Here's my question to you: Was that a fair trade?
I was free to keep my $70,000 or purchase the car. The Japanese producer was free to keep his Lexus or sell me the car. As it turned out, I gave up my $70,000 and took possession of the car, and the Japanese producer gave up possession of the car and took possession of my money. The exchange occurred because I saw myself as being better off and so did the Japanese producer.
I think it was both free and fair trade, and I'd like an American mercantilist to explain to me how it wasn't. Mercantilists have absolutely no argument when we recognize that trade is mostly between individuals. Mercantilists pretend that trade occurs between nations, such as the U.S. trading with England or Japan, to appeal to our jingoism."
Williams continued, "Who might protest that my trade with the Lexus manufacturer was unfair?
If you said an American car manufacturer and their union workers, go to the head of the class. They would like Congress to restrict foreign trade so they can sell their cars at a pleasing price and their workers earn a pleasing wage. As a matter of fact, it's never American consumers who complain about cheaper prices.
It's always American producers and their unions who do the complaining. That ought to tell us something."
Meanwhile, the average stagehand at Lincoln Center in NYC makes $290,000 per year. Union stagehand? Of course.
Just So You Know: When I die, I don't want T-shirts given out as souvenirs at my memorial service.
How tasteless and tacky. A memorial pamphlet? Sure. A DVD? Well, goodness knows I've had enough face time on video during my life. So, I guess that would be OK. But not memorialized clothing.
I mean, who wants to spend part of Eternity in a washing machine?
And, even though I'm a Simpsons fan, I don't want a eulogy from Nelson Muntz: "Haw Haw. You're dead now."
Quote Of The Day is from Norman R. Augustine: "Any task can be completed in only one-third more time than is currently estimated."
Thursday January 13, 2011
Hybrid Family: The Prius is being line-extended to include a wagon with a less slopey rear roof, a compact hi-miler as well as a plug-in rechargeable model.
Hey, where's the panel van? In an era of business eco-awareness as a marketing tool, such a vehicle could be a top seller. I would expect buyers to include florist shops, small package delivery services, couriers, service trucks and parts delivery vehicles.
Meanwhile, The Onion reports that the 2012 Toyota Prius will feature a rudimentary reproductive system.
Cloudy Future: Evergreen Solar Inc., which received $58 million in state aid to open a factory in 2008 at a former military base in Massachusetts, has announced it would shut the plant and lay off 800 workers by the end of this quarter.
The company said that, while overall solar demand is strong, the U.S. makers in the field are at a manufacturing disadvantage.
Evergreen will continue to operate a plant in Midland, MI, and its wafer facility in China.
Green companies always seem to cost the taxpayers a small fortune and disappoint in the end. Solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicles, tide power, geothermal schemes - it's the same story over and over.
On the other hand, some things are worth saving: Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell has said that the state is prepared to offer the financially troubled manufacturer of snack foods line Tastykakes a $1 million loan.
RIP: David Nelson, the last surviving family cast member of the iconic TV show 'The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet', has died at 74.
The show ran for 320 episodes from 1952 to 1966. Ricky's older and less-famous brother later had a career as a director and producer.
In other obituary news, film director and four-time Oscar nominee Peter Yates, who directed one of my favorite movies, 'Bullitt', has died at age 81. (permalink)
Drink Up! A report from the BBC indicates that the old advertising slogan, 'Guinness is Good for You,' may be true after all. A pint of the black stuff a day may work as well as an aspirin to prevent heart clots that raise the risk of heart attacks. Guinness reduces clotting activity in the blood which doesn't happen with ordinary lager.
While some of the beneficial effects are due to the alcohol itself, researchers believe that antioxidant compounds in the Guinness, similar to those found in certain fruits and vegetables, are responsible for the health benefits because they slow down the deposit of harmful cholesterol on the artery walls. The original campaign in the 1920s stemmed from market research - when people told the company that they felt good after their pint, the slogan was born.
In Ireland, newborn babies and postoperative patients are given Guinness, as are blood donors, because of its high iron content.
I'm not much of a beer drinker but, when I imbibe, it's always a pint o' Guinness.
Definition Of The Day is for 'Raisin': A grape with sunburn.
Wednesday January 12, 2011
Return Of The Coupe: The 2012 Hyundai Veloster may be another sign that the coupe body style is making a comeback. Sort of. It's actually a three-door, with a full-sized rear door on the passenger's side. Nevertheless, Hyundai is promising class-leading fuel efficiency with a very sporty driving experience.
I like coupes. I'm pleased to see more of them being offered.
Silent Souvenirs: My wife has three decorative wood boxes, dating back to the 1950s. Her parents had them, possibly gifts from an aunt. We don't know the story behind these items; there's no one alive left to ask ... (more >>>)
Something To Talk About: The real 'conversation' we need to have following the tragic shootings in Tucson isn't one about politics. Or words. We need to discuss mental illness.
ACLU-supported lawsuits and legislative changes emptied out most mental hospitals in the '70s and '80s. The do-gooders never acknowledged the differences between the harmless mentally-ill and the dangerous nut jobs. All were given "freedom." That's the period when the homeless population began to proliferate. They were now "free" to live under bridges in cardboard refrigerator boxes. And free to go off their meds.
Dan Cirucci, who is about my age, has written, "When I was growing up, mentally disturbed people were routinely institutionalized. In other words, they were taken off the streets and removed from orderly society. That's because they were considered a possible danger to themselves and others.
But somewhere along the way all that changed.
Over the years, it became increasingly hard to institutionalize such people - to get them (and/or us) out of harm's way. Much of this turnaround came about because of court rulings - rulings that some lawyers and judges and social engineers (those who feel they know better) considered 'enlightened'."
There's even a bureaucratic name for this "program" ... (more >>>)
Winter Wonderland: It was snowing in 49 states on Tuesday, including Hawaii. Only Florida escaped the white stuff. Flakes began falling outside our house about 6:45 pm. There was no accumulation, as it was above freezing. It turned to rain by 8:00 pm as temperatures warmed further.
Headline Of The Week ... so far is from The Onion: 'Even CEO Can't Figure Out How RadioShack Still In Business.'
Quote Of The Day is from Winston Churchill: "Don't worry about avoiding temptation. As you grow older, it will avoid you."
Tuesday January 11, 2011
For Retirees With Small Garages: Buick has introduced the 2012 Verano sedan, based on the Chevrolet Cruze.
Nothing To See Here: The plug-in Chevrolet Volt (also based on the Chevrolet Cruze) was named North American Car of the Year at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show. The Volt has previously won several awards in the United States, including Motor Trend Car of the Year.
It's kinda like when Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize. Lotsa press coverage; politically expedient; no significance.
My Jesus Mercy is a short Catholic prayer (once worth 300 days indulgence) asking the Lord to be merciful either to ourselves or others that need it. It is often a request on behalf of the dying or newly deceased.
For many, the prayer brings to mind the Gospel of Luke 18:9-14, about contrast between the self-righteous Pharisee and the humble publican - a man who appealed to God for mercy and forgiveness of his sins.
I don't usually follow inside-baseball political stuff but I recently learned that two of the nation's premier "moral issues organizations," the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America, are "refusing to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference in mid-February because a homosexual group, GOProud, has been invited."
The same day, I received an e-mail notifying me about the death of one of my high school classmates. I found his photo in my yearbook but didn't remember him. Charles and I never shared the same homeroom or other classes.
Reading his obituary, I learned that he was gay ... (more >>>)
Mo' Money: Bank Lending to small businesses is finally starting to recover. That's a good thing, especially since the vast majority of new U.S. private-sector jobs are created by small businesses.
Scott Grannis has written, "If, as it appears, bank lending is once again starting to expand, I think that reflects a combination of factors: businesses have finished deleveraging; businesses feel confident enough about the future to expand their borrowings; and banks feel confident enough about the economic climate to expand their lending activity."
In May of last year, I wrote, "When I owned a manufacturing business, I needed to borrow funds in order to grow. Most 'ordinary' manufacturing businesses have 30-35% gross profit and net 10% or less before taxes. A 30% growth in sales means that you have to buy 30% more raw material inventory, you'll be carrying 30% more work-in-process and finished goods inventory and your accounts payable will jump by 30% as will your receivables.
Your increase in profit dollars (at 10% NPBT) won't be nearly enough cover these increased expenses. Therefore, if you can't secure working capital, you can't grow and your business will stagnate. Others - your competitors - will step up and meet customer needs."
While my manufacturing business was ... (more >>>)
Civil Discourse - the phrase du jour - is nothing but a liberal attempt to restrict free speech. Not everyone's free speech - just those who disagree with them.
Despite all the recent hand-wringing about "right-wing hate speech," "violent symbols" and the like, if you're from the political left - anything goes. Just ask Barack Obama. Here are some of his quotes:
• Obama at a Philadelphia fundraiser: "They bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun."
• Obama on the ACORN mob: "I don't want to quell anger. I think people are right to be angry! I'm angry!"
• Obama on the private sector: "We talk to these folks so I know whose ass to kick."
• Obama to voters: "A Republican victory would mean hand-to-hand combat."
• Obama to Latino supporters: "Punish your enemies."
• Obama to Democrats: "I'm itching for a fight."
Fightin' words? Maybe ... but that's what freedom of speech is about. Our country benefits from multiple viewpoints. While one group may think what they're doing is absolutely righteous, ideas and proposals need exposure to fair questioning from those with opposing views. Unfortunately, many liberals can't stand that. And some resort to violence to shut down opponents.
Need specific examples? Michelle Malkin has offered an illustrated primer on leftie hatred.
"Violent" Image Hysteria: Because people are overly concerned that pictures and words may incite The Free-Range Mentally Unhinged, will Target stores now have to change its name to something like Peace stores and convert its bullseye logo to a white dove?
Joke Of The Day is from Henny Youngman: "The Harvard School of Medicine did a study of why Jewish women like Chinese food so much. The study revealed that this is due to the fact that Won Ton spelled backward is Not Now."
Monday January 10, 2011
Should Be From The Onion ... But it's not: Autoblog has reported that Toyota Prius exhaust emissions are less harmful than sheep flatulence. Baaaaaaa.
Trip Report: Last week, we were in Oregon's Willamette Valley for a couple of days. The main purpose of the trip was to deal with a recall of my '08 Lexus LS 460 for no-cost replacement of the valve springs in its V8 engine. I also had the 15,000 mile service done.
We were provided with a Lexus GS loaner car and drove to Corvallis, where we stayed overnight. Here are some trip observations:
• I've written about Eugene before: here and here. It is a place where old cars and trucks seem to abound - although many of them are the opposite of mint condition.
On TTAC, Paul Niedermeyer has posted sightings of old vehicles in the Skinner's Butte area. During my last visit, I saw a lot of old Datsun and Toyota mini-trucks. Many were trimmed in derelict Oregon rainbow-colors (rust, primer, Bondo, moss and dirt).
Thirty-some years ago, I would often eat my lunch at Skinner's Butte (usually an apple and can of diet Seven-Up) when I had business in Eugene. I called on several customers in the area, including Midgleys Glass, which was located nearby, and Mid-Valley Glass and Millwork, which was on the west side of town.
On this trip, I spotted many ancient automobiles in Eugene - as always. Nothing unique enough to report though.
• We had lunch at Big River and dinner at Pastini Pastaria - both in Corvallis. I have added them to my Restaurant Review section.
• We made a pilgrimage to the legendary Robnett's Hardware and purchased several items including a couple of hard-to-find one-ounce tubes of Amazing Goop, one of my favorite adhesives.
Many stores are now selling Amazing Goop only in large tubes - a futile choice for most people because, once you open the tube, the glue starts to harden and dry up. Even with the small one-ounce tube, the stuff becomes too thick to use before the tube is empty. Robnett's was, as expected, a trip back fifty years or so, when hardware stores were good and service was personable.
My wife pointed out that the Robnett's paper bags were far thicker than the flimsy examples provided at other stores - one more example of The Way Things Used To Be.
• I've read about non-dairy milk alternatives, like soy milk and rice milk. But it seemed somehow appropriate that, in counterculture-celebrating Corvallis, Trader Joe's had a prominent display of hemp milk at the front of the store. Mellow out, dude. Peace.
The following day, our freshly-washed Lexus was returned to us by the good folks at Kendall Lexus and we had a pleasant and uneventful drive home under mostly sunny skies.
Shields Up: Following the death of 21 people in a Islamic terrorist bomb attack outside a Coptic church in Egypt, thousands of Muslims showed up at Coptic Christmas Eve Masses in churches around the country last week and at candle light vigils held outside.
"From the well-known to the unknown, Muslims had offered their bodies as 'human shields' for last night's mass, making a pledge to collectively fight the threat of Islamic militants and towards an Egypt free from sectarian strife."
Among those shields were ... (more >>>)
Tucson Tragedy: On Saturday morning, a 22 year-old troubled loner opened fire during a political meet-n-greet in a Safeway parking lot. Twenty people were wounded; six died and 14 were injured. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was shot point-blank in the head and remains in critical condition. Arizona Federal Judge John M. Roll was among the dead as was the 9-year-old granddaughter of former Yankees and Mets manager Dallas Green.
The shooter, Jared Loughner, was tackled at the scene and arrested. He appears to be seriously deranged. A teenage drinker, druggie and high-school dropout, he took classes at Pima Community College, where officials suspended him and told his parents that he "would have to get a mental health evaluation if he wanted to return to school."
People who knew him described Loughner as "left wing, quite liberal and oddly obsessed with the 2012 prophecy." Among his favorite books, he listed both 'Mein Kampf' and 'The Communist Manifesto'. The Department of Homeland Security believes that Loughner may be linked to an anti-Semitic, white supremacist group. (Rep. Giffords was Jewish.)
One would think that, during this heartbreaking day, pundits and politicians would have refrained from cheap partisan point-scoring. But no. Blaming the right - specifically Sarah Palin - was the first reaction of leftie scumbags Markos Moulitsas and Matt Yglesias, as well as NY Daily News' "journalist" Michael Daly. And über-liberal CNN. Others blamed the Tea Party (Rep. Giffords' father was just one who singled them out), Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.
Economist and wacko Paul Krugman, of the New York Times, took it upon his little self to attack all Republicans.
Since the gauntlet has been thrown down by so many of these liberals, I would point out that most U.S. assassins and wannabes (Leon Czolgosz, Sirhan Sirhan, Squeaky Fromme, Sara Jane Moore, John Hinckley) have been lefties, anarchists, anti-Zionists and/or loony fans of Jodie Foster. Ruskie-loving Lee Harvey Oswald was certainally no Tea Partier.
In America, we live in a free society where our elected officials make themselves available to listen to constituents. This entails a small risk, just as someone who drives the freeways has a greater chance of an accident than a recluse who never leaves his/her house. But, to live out our lives in bulletproof boxes is not to live at all.
Instead of trying to assign blame to political groups and/or individuals for the violent and incomprehensible actions of a mentally-ill man, all of us should pray for the dead and send good wishes and prayers to those wounded as a result of this senseless occurrence.
Book Review: 'Going Home To Glory: A Memoir of Life With Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961 to 1969' by David and Julie Eisenhower'
This tome is about Dwight D. Eisenhower from his return to private life to his death eight years later. It covers the period of Ike's waning influence, health crises, physical decline and his gradual disconnect from world events.
While it is challenging to write a book about a someone's declining years and make it interesting ... (more >>>)
Bad Pun of the Day: Sign at a nudist camp: 'Sorry - Clothed for Winter.'
Friday January 7, 2011
Toyota Lagging? Goldman Sachs Japan has said that Toyota isn't recovering from the automotive implosion as quickly as its competitors. GSJ now says that while it fully expects to see car sales eclipse the previous average growth rate of 2.6% per year, jumping to 8 to 9% from 2010 on, Toyota is only expected to see its pace swell by 3%.
The problem is that Toyota sales have grown soft in Europe, the U.S. and even Japan. GSJ analysts "do not expect any near-term recovery" for Toyota but believe the company's earning power gradually will recover from the second half of fiscal 2012 "when it has won back enough U.S. market share to move the needle and further trimmed the cost of goods sold."
Oh, No! Philadelphia-based Tasty Baking Co., the maker of Tastykakes, has said that financial difficulties are forcing it to consider selling the company.
Tasty said it has asked its lead banker to ... (more >>>)
Don't Forget: Tomorrow is Elvis' birthday. He would have been 76.
More on The King here.
Quote Of The Day is from Alex Levine: "Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar and fat."
Wednesday January 5, 2011
Auto Sales Report: December brought holiday cheer for most car companies. American Honda was up 21% compared with December 2009. Nissan was up 28%. Chrysler Group saw a 16% increase. FoMoCo and GM were up 7%. (Ford Motor claimed that the total sales result included a 40% reduction in deliveries to daily rental customers.)
Toyota Motor Co. got coal in its stocking - a 6% sales drop over December 2009. Toyota's yearly sales were basically flat, while most other car companies recorded solid increases over 2009.
Nevertheless, according to TTAC, Toyota still finished the year with the highest retail market share of any automaker in the US market at 17.3%. Camry is still the best-selling car in the country and Lexus is still the top luxury brand. Toyota still attracts more retail buyers than any other maker or brand. And the automaker accomplished this with far lower 'on-the-hood' incentives than all of the 'domestic' brands.
Ford Fusion sales increased 20% but Taurus sales fell 22% to units to 5,655 units in December. Lincoln sales were down 23% to 8,060 vehicles; sales of the flagship MKS sedan fell 33% to 1,193 units. (Lincoln's sales decline was twice as big as dead Mercury's in December.)
By contrast, Cadillac sales were up 13% to 16,718 vehicles. BMW was up 16%; Mercedes sales increased by 7%.
In December, Toyota sold 2,691 Avalons, an increase of 5% from last year. For calendar 2010, 28,390 Avalon models were sold - up 5% over 2009. In December, there were 1,516 Lexus LS models sold, down 27% from last year. For the year, 12,275 LS sedans were sold, an increase of 7% over '09.
In the final month of 2010, Honda sold 23,125 CR-Vs (up 24% from December '09). One of them was delivered to my brother.
In the year 2010, auto companies sold about 11.5 million vehicles in the U.S. The best-selling model was a truck - the Ford F-series with 528,349 sold, followed by the Chevy Silverado (370,135). The Toyota Camry came in third (327,804), followed by the Honda Accord (311,381).
Optimist Club: Laszlo Birinyi, president of Birinyi Associates, a frequent guest on the late Louis Rukeyser's Wall Street Week and one of the first money managers to advise buying U.S. stocks before they bottomed in March 2009, has said the average length and size of bull markets suggests the Standard & Poor's 500 Index will rally to 2,854 on Sept. 4, 2013 - an increase of 125% above present levels. (The S&P closed yesterday at 1270.2.)
Birinyi, who analyzes historical charts and patterns to make forecasts, said in December that the S&P 500 will climb to 1,333 this year, joining money manager Leon Cooperman in citing higher earnings and valuations below historic levels.
Holy Cow: Direct from the Sacred Heart Parish Bulletin in Battle Ground ... (more >>>)
Quote Of The Day is from Mark Twain: "Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint."
Tuesday January 4, 2011
Workin' On The Railroad: For Christmas, I received several diecast vehicles as gifts, two of which have already found spots on my train layout - a pair of 1:43 scale work trucks.
One is a 1948 Ford F1 pickup marked "Pennsylvania Railroad Yard Superintendent" and the other is a 1950 GMC pickup with "Pennsylvania Railroad - Philadelphia Region" emblazoned on the doors. Each came with a 'load' of railroad ties in the pickup bed. (permalink)
RIP: Anne Francis, the shapely blond actress with a beauty mark next to her lower lip, has died at age 80. She played the title role in 'Honey West,' the mid-1960s TV series about a sexy female private detective with a pet ocelot. She was nominated for an Emmy and won a Golden Globe for the role.
She was also in the 1956 sci-fi cult 'Forbidden Planet', a futuristic retelling of Shakespeare's 'Tempest', in which a group of space travelers - including Leslie Nielsen - visit a planet where an expatriate scientist (Walter Pidgeon), his daughter (Ms. Francis) and Robby the Robot had built a settlement. (permalink)
Quote Of The Day is from Frank J. Fleming: "If you're going to call something a "giant" panda, it should be at least two stories tall. Otherwise it just seems like a big panda."
Monday January 3, 2011
Neckbelts Bad: According to The Onion, "Violent decapitations and permanent paralysis due to severing of the spinal cord are among the reasons cited by the Chrysler Corporation for its decision to recall all '97 automobiles containing the "neckbelts" safety feature."
The recall, the most expensive in Chrysler's history, goes into effect early next week. In the meantime, the company is advising all motorists who use the neck belts to maintain a defensive driving stance at all times, as accidents may result in "crushed trachea, severe spinal and/or brain damage, and, in the most severe cases, sudden defenestration of the head area, as the entire region above the neck separates from the upper body, flying at tremendous speed through the breakaway glass of the windshield, rolling several yards into the street directly in front of the car," the Chrysler press release stated.
The neckbelts were developed with passenger safety in mind, say Chrysler spokespersons. "Our research showed that one of the biggest risks to motorists is the danger of passengers sustaining head injuries by striking the dashboard or the seat in front of them as their bodies are flung forward during a crash," Chrysler safety designer Robert McArdle said. "Our thinking was that by immobilizing the head and neck, this type of injury would decrease significantly.
The belts, McArdle said, were also intended to reduce the neck stress associated with whiplash. "Unfortunately, it appears that we were erroneous in this analysis as well," he added. "Even minor fender-benders seem to cause motorists wearing neckbelts to have their entire heads forcibly ripped from their torsos, landing in the front seat to the shocked screams of terrified onlookers."
Another negative side effect of the neckbelts is the psychological damage that may be suffered by eyewitnesses upon "observing a convulsing, headless human body spontaneously jettison fountains of blood as the adrenaline-maximized heart furiously pumps quart after quart from the neck wound, coating the car interior," the Chrysler statement continued.
New Year's Eve: We toasted 2011 with mixed drinks. I had a Manhattan. Then I cooked filets mignon on the grill in chilly 33 degree weather. My wife and I shared a bottle of fine red wine: 2005 Meritage from Waterbrook Winery in Walla Walla.
We're looking forward to a great 2011.
Book Review: 'At Home' by Bill Bryson
In this book subtitled 'A Short History of Private Life', Bryson takes readers on a tour of his 160 year-old house, a former parsonage. Along the way, he reconstructs the fascinating history of the domesticity, room by room.
Bryson's thoughts wander afar, discussing glass windows, cholera outbreaks, wigs, the invention of the lawn mower, why castles didn't have much furniture and more. He moves from one subject to the next with equal amounts of genuine enthusiasm.
Here are some things I learned ... (more >>>)
Quote Of The Day is from Rodney Dangerfield: "My luck is so bad that if I bought a cemetery, people would stop dying."