Friday July 29, 2011
1958 Lincoln Continental Mark III - Steel Barge: The 1958 Lincolns and Continentals were totally new in body and appearance and were assembled in a new plant. The bodies were completely restyled with an aggressive, angular look replacing the Futura dream car-inspired styling on the '56 and '57 Lincolns.
The 1958 Lincolns had unit body construction; they were the largest and heaviest frameless passenger cars ever made. The '58 models weighed 5,000 pounds and ... (more >>>)
Stylish Smash-up: A hapless blonde plowed her Bentley into a Mercedes, Porsche, Ferrari and Aston Martin in Monte Carlo on Thursday.
The collision, involving a Bentley Azure (worth an estimated $400,000), a Mercedes S Class ($120,000), a Ferrari F430 ($230,000), an Aston Martin Rapide ($230,000) and a Porsche 911 ($130,000), occurred in front of Monaco's Place du Casino. The incident began when the Bentley scraped the side of the Mercedes before plowing into the Ferrari. Then the Bentley proceeded to run into the Aston Martin and the Porsche.
Hundreds of tourists quickly descended on the scene, snapping photos of the wreckage. The repair bill for the vehicles has been estimated at around $160,000.
Cuts That Aren't: Scott Grannis has noted that "when one party proposes to "cut" spending by, say, $4 trillion, what they really mean is that they propose to spend $44.4 trillion over the next 10 years instead of $48.4 trillion. The $4 trillion "cut" they are proposing actually works out to a 4% annual increase in spending, instead of a 5.5% annual increase in spending.
So even the most radical of "cuts" that are being proposed today would still allow government spending to increase by 4% a year. How hard or draconian is that?"
Bloody Interesting: A policy that bars gay men from donating blood for life is "suboptimal," advisers to the Health and Human Services Department have proclaimed. HHS asked a committee of experts on blood and tissue donations to reexamine the policy and see if there is a way to let at least some gays donate blood.
It should be noted that "men who have sex with other men, including gay and bisexual men, have an HIV infection rate 60 times higher than that of the general population, the FDA says. They have an infection rate 800 times higher than first-time blood donors and 8,000 times higher than the rate of repeat blood donors. Tests cannot pick up a new HIV infection in the blood with 100% accuracy; because blood is often pooled, many people may be at risk from a single infected donor."
BigFurHat offered this idea: "I propose that blood be separated into two blood banks - gay and heterosexual blood. Registered Democrats can only get blood from the gay blood bank, and the conservative homophobes be stuck with only getting blood from the heterosexual blood banks.
Guaranteed within 4 years the political registration balance would be 90% Republican and 10% Democrat."
He concluded, "There are all sorts of policies that progressives advocate that they wouldn't participate in if it wasn't forced upon everyone through 'shared sacrifice'."
Headline Of The Week ... so far is from The Onion: 'New Study Shows People With Panic Disorders Respond Poorly To Being Locked In Underwater Elevators'.
Excerpt: "Throughout the 200 clinical trials we ran, all participants suffered immensely and reported that they did not enjoy the experience," said Dr. Samuel Lepore, who led the Yale University study, explaining the results were the same whether the sound of a thrashing great white shark or that of an exploding torpedo was suddenly blasted over loudspeakers as the elevator doors shook violently.
"Most interestingly, every single subject appeared to be further agitated when informed that oxygen levels in the elevator were dropping rapidly. Typically, some variance is expected in trial studies, but in this case we found none."
Debt Schooling: I've written about the problems with our educational system many times before but Mark Steyn has offered a unique perspective on wasted educations.
"Americans currently have over a trillion dollars' worth of college debt. They've managed to spend half an entire G7 economy (Briton's or France's) not on debt in general but merely on one bizarrely fetishized niche market of debt. For what? Passing a leisurely half-decade toying with a mélange of pseudo-disciplines is a very expensive way to acquire a piece of paper assuring U.S. businesses you're safe for white-collar employment.
The "education" system is one of the biggest structural deformities in America today. It leads to later workforce participation and later family formation, both of which factor into our existentially catastrophic entitlement liabilities. And yet Obama wants every American child to go to college. What sort of "education" do you think they'll be getting once that happens? And what value do you think that sheepskin will hold in the wider world?"
"Once upon a time, America was the land where guys without degrees (Truman) or only 18 months of formal education (Lincoln) or no schooling at all (Zachary Taylor) could become president. Credentialization is shrinking what was America's advantage a far greater social mobility than Europe. We're decaying into a society where 40% of the population do minimal-skill service jobs and the rest run up a trillion dollars of debt in order to avoid that fate, and ne'er the twain shall meet, except for perfunctory social pleasantries in the drive-thru lane.
We're looking at education upside down: We should be telescoping it, not extending it."
Quote Of The Day is from Thomas Sowell: "Why do we keep pretending that we know how to control child molesters after they are released from prison? How many more children must be killed before we face the plain reality that, if it is dangerous to let child molesters out of prison, then they should be kept in prison."
Wednesday July 27, 2011
This Brought Back Memories: Hemmings has posted a story with photos about the one-off Mercer Cobra show car, a Virgil Exner redesign of a classic American automobile reinterpreted to contemporary tastes. The car was constructed by Carrozzeria Sibona-Basano of Turin, a little-known and short-lived (only five years, 1962-66) but highly regarded Italian coachbuilder. I saw the Mercer-Cobra in person at the New York Auto Show in the mid-1960s.
"Funded by the Copper Development Association, the Mercer-Cobra was finished in late 1964 and whisked off to a world tour promoting the CDA."
RM will offer it at auction at Monterey next month with a pre-auction estimate of $800,000 to $1.2 million.
Update: Sold for $600,000. (permalink)
Book Review: 'Endgame: The End of the Debt Supercycle and How It Changes Everything' by John Mauldin and Jonathan Tepper
This is a scary book. The authors pull no punches, noting that almost every developed country in the world is facing tough choices. Most of these countries have aging populations who expect government support (social security and medical plans) - promised and implied. These ever-increasing obligations combined with a worldwide collapse in the financial and real estate markets have ... (more >>>)
Home Improvement: We've been doing some needed cleaning, maintenance and upgrade work this year and the results are starting to show.
Time For A Change: As I listened to John Boehner's rebuttal to the President's 'debt crisis' speech Monday night, I realized that he sounded more presidential than Obama did. Boehner made a logical case for his viewpoint and proposal.
The Speaker of the House said, "Before I served in Congress, I ran a small business in Ohio. I was amazed at how different Washington DC operated than every business in America. Where most American business make the hard choices to pay their bills and live within their means, in Washington more spending and more debt is business as usual."
Boehner pointed out that the President had presided over "the largest spending binge in American history. Here's what we got for that spending binge: a massive health care bill that most Americans never asked for. A 'stimulus' bill that was more effective in producing material for late-night comedians than it was in producing jobs. And a national debt that has gotten so out of hand it has sparked a crisis without precedent in my lifetime or yours."
Obama spent much of his television time being a petty obstructionist and demonizing his stock list of boogiemen: Republicans, the wealthy, owners of successful businesses and, as usual, "corporate jet owners." Oh, yeah ... and it's all Bush's fault.
When I heard the President say ... (more >>>)
Bye-Bye Bones: While I like to support local businesses, I have officially given up on Bones Steak & Chop House in Battle Ground. We had a less than satisfactory meal in June but hoped it was a fluke. It wasn't. Our meal last Sunday was awful ... (more >>>)
Bad Pun of the Day: If killer whales sing as other whales do, do they have an orca-stra?
Monday July 25, 2011
American Graffiti, Philadelphia-Style: I always enjoy watching the 1973 movie, 'American Graffiti'. Set in 1962, it's about a couple of high schools grads who spend on one night hanging out, cruising the strip with their buddies before they go off to college. I can identify with it because of the time frame - I graduated from high school in '61 - but have trouble relating to the California setting and the coolness of the cars in the film.
In the 1950s and early '60s, my East Coast adolescent reality was much different than the 'American Graffiti' kids.
California was (and still is) still much more car-centric than Philadelphia. Most of my friends in high school didn't have cool rides. My school buddies who were car guys couldn't do much work on vehicles because of the heavy academic load at our prep school, a lack of funds, too little free time and nowhere to carry out automotive work. Most of us had crappy minimum-wage summer jobs but had no after-school employment to fund car projects. The intense academic pace kept us plenty busy.
No one at St. Joe's Prep had neat cars like those in 'American Graffiti'. No Suzanne Somers in a white T-Bird. (Of course not. It was an all-boys school.)
No mint-condition, desirable hot rods, either. (No hot rods of any kind, that I can recall.) No one owned a chopped and channeled 1932 Ford. Or a '55 Crown Vicky.
My school friends were mostly ... (more >>>)
Small Wonder: Dan Neil tested the Buick Regal CLX Turbo and marveled at the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. "This engine is, by a fair measure, the smallest-displacement powerplant ever situated in a U.S.-market Buick, at least since the days when dear old David Dunbar Buick carried his own golf clubs. ... The CXL Turbo twists the front half-shafts with 220 hp and 258 pound-feet of torque. What's changing fast, and what makes the CXL Turbo an interesting car, is its specific power, that is, the output per unit of displacement. The Buick's 110 hp per liter of displacement is kind of astonishing."
This is amazing when you consider that any engine putting out one horsepower per cubic-inch (61 hp/liter) in the 1950s was considered worthy of techno-religious veneration. And, even in the late 1960s, 100 ponies per liter was deemed near-miraculous and pretty much limited to small, European racing engines. And yet, here we are today with an made-in-America engine designed for a family sedan making astounding output numbers.
Neil added, "It's worth noting that the hi-po version of the Regal, the GS, due this fall, will boast 270 hp with the same displacement, making it, according to GM, the highest-specific-output engine (135 hp/liter) in its history."
"And the car is quick. If you stand on the gas, the Regal Turbo will chirp and wiggle its way to 60 mph in about 7 seconds, quite respectable for a car weighing nearly 3,800 pounds. ... These are two of the hardest-working liters in the business."
Summer Has Arrived: After almost a week of unseasonably cool and wet weather, the sun returned Friday. After a morning full of chores including cleaning some very dirty deck furniture, I rewarded myself with a trip in the Plymouth. At 1:30 pm, temperatures were a comfortable 65 degrees. (As opposed to a sweltering 106 in Baltimore and Newark, 105 in Atlantic City and 103 in Philly, Harrisburg and Boston.)
The sky was blue with puffy, cartoon-like clouds and I had a nice drive along the area's backroads.
Don't Sweat It: Many states hit hardest by last week's searing heat wave have drastically cut or entirely eliminated programs that help poor people pay their electric bills, "forcing thousands to go without air conditioning when they need it most."
WTF? Since when did air conditioning become an entitlement? Most people my age didn't have air conditioning when growing up. You learned to live without it - drink fluids, stay in the shade, dress lightly, take cooling showers, etc.
Screw the sweaty poor. Don't forget that, even as you read this from the A/C comfort of your home or office, our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are fighting in full gear - 70 pounds or so - in 110 degree heat. They're the ones that could use some cool help.
Wealthy Poor: Ken McIntyre of NRO has pointed out that, in America, the so-called poor are pretty well-off.
Data from the Department of Energy and other agencies show that the average poor family, as defined by Census officials ... (more >>>)
Debt Crisis Hysteria: Don Surber has quipped, "Washington has more Drama Queens than a Barney Frank luau on Fire Island."
Another Pervy Democrat: David Wu, the increasingly loony 56 year-old Democratic congressman from Oregon, has been accused of sexually harassing the teenage daughter of a longtime friend and campaign donor. The young woman "accused Wu of aggressive and unwanted sexual behavior."
"The alleged incident raises new questions about Wu's behavior during the 1st District congressman's re-election campaign last year. According to staff at the time and e-mails from the period, he behaved so erratically that staff avoided scheduling him for public appearances and ran a campaign that relied heavily on advertising. Shortly before the Nov. 2 election, senior staff quietly shut down the campaign office and sent other campaign workers home." Despite many rumors circulating about Wu, he won reelection garnering 55% of the vote.
"In February, following unexpectedly large staff turnover, Wu acknowledged extreme stress last year, which he attributed to the campaign and problems in his marriage. He and his wife are in the process of getting a divorce. He said he sought counseling and has taken medication for an unspecified mental condition."
In 1976, Wu was accused of attempted rape by a former girlfriend. Since 1999, Wu has represented Oregon's 1st Congressional District, which includes much of Portland and its western suburbs.
William Katz has noted, "What is remarkable is that this dude got elected, then reelected, in a "liberal" district in which women's rights would presumably be a sensitive issue."
This guy should be brought up on ethics charges and forced to resign. He's an embarrassment to his constituents.
Update: On Tuesday (7/26/11), Wu announced that he will resign from Congress after it "resolves the debt ceiling crisis." Of course, that could be far in the future, depending on your definitions of 'resolve' and 'crisis'. (permalink)
Quote of the Day: "All those who believe in psychokinesis, raise my hand."
Friday July 22, 2011
Car & Train Pix: Over the years, I've taken photos of car shows, car collections, auto museums and railroad museums.
I've posted a page of links to these photo collections here.
Say 'Ciao' To All Those Bailout Bucks: After an infusion of $4.7 billion or so by taxpayers, Chrysler is now officially owned by Italians. Fiat now holds 55.3% of the auto firm's outstanding equity.
Another Crapmobile Envisioned By People Who Hate Cars: The MONOFORM (all caps to improve the designer's self-esteem, I suppose) "addresses the automotive industry's lack of cultural relevance. It stands as a point of view towards progressive mobility experiences that connect with the emerging philosophies of the 21st century and speaks directly to those who feel alienated by the conservative symbolism applied in modern automotive design."
Yeccch! It looks like a Wolfgang Puck food cart cobbled together by Walter Gropius with Mies van der Rohe holding the tool kit.
"Still or in motion, this vehicle acts as a point of interaction between people and their environment through broken reflections of the urban landscapes; a concept that aims to use the contrasting elements of a city journey as the means to communicate a hopefully innovative expression of movement."
Was this bullshit written with a straight face? Just askin'.
New Numbers On Child Abuse: Christopher Taylor has written, "Comparing the incidence of sexual misconduct in schools with the Catholic Church scandal ... a study by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops concluded that 10,667 young people were sexually mistreated by priests between 1950 and 2002.
In contrast, the extrapolates from a national survey conducted for the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation in 2000 that roughly 290,000 students experienced some sort of physical sexual abuse by a public school employee between 1991 and 2000.
The FBI estimates that as much as half of the priest cases were exaggerations or fraud. That means that there may have been as many as two hundred times as much abuse by teachers than priests in the same time period."
I grew up in ... (more >>>)
Grillin': I'm pleased to report that the new Char-Broil propane grill is up and running. On Wednesday evening, we grilled filets mignon.
It cooked 'em quickly, even at a low setting. The grill was easy to clean, too. My wife and I shared part of a bottle of Rodney Strong 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon from California with our dinner. Excellent.
Happy Birthday to my wife who, starting this weekend, will be the same age as me ... for about 12 days.
Bad Pun of the Day: Although she was afraid of mice, it didn't keep her from eeking out a living at a pet store.
Thursday July 21, 2011
Governments Shouldn't Invest In Car Companies: A Salinas, California car manufacturer that was "expected to build environmentally friendly electric cars and create new jobs folded before almost any vehicles could run off the assembly line." The start-up company had promised city leaders that it would create 70 new jobs.
The city of Salinas, located in Monterey County on the central California coast, had invested more than half a million dollars in Green Vehicles, an electric car start-up company. The firm planned to produce the Triac 2.0, a three-wheeled plug-in electric minicar.
The start-up company set up shop in the summer of 2009, after the city gave Ryan a $300,000 community development grant.
"When the company still ran into financial trouble last year, the city of Salinas handed Ryan an additional $240,000. Green Vehicles also received $187,000 from the California Energy Commission."
Now the money is gone and the firm is shuttered. And as usual, the hapless taxpayers are screwed.
The Car Show: Episode 2 was better than last week's show - a good sign.
Obama Is Killing 'Em In Vegas: Casino magnate Steve Wynn has weighed in on the current economic climate. And he's not happy. "I'm afraid to do anything in the current political environment in the United States."
He added, "And I'm saying it bluntly, that this administration is the greatest wet blanket to business, and progress and job creation in my lifetime. And I can prove it and I could spend the next 3 hours giving you examples of all of us in this market place that are frightened to death about all the new regulations, our healthcare costs escalate, regulations coming from left and right. A President that seems, that keeps using that word redistribution.
Well, my customers and the companies that provide the vitality for the hospitality and restaurant industry, in the United States of America, they are frightened of this administration. And it makes you slow down and not invest your money. Everybody complains about how much money is on the side in America."
Wynn concluded, "The guy keeps making speeches about redistribution and maybe we ought to do something to businesses that don't invest, their holding too much money. We haven't heard that kind of talk except from pure socialists. Everybody's afraid of the government and there's no need soft peddling it, it's the truth. It is the truth. And that's true of Democratic businessman and Republican businessman, and I am a Democratic businessman and I support Harry Reid. I support Democrats and Republicans.
And I'm telling you that the business community in this company is frightened to death of the weird political philosophy of the President of the United States. And until he's gone, everybody's going to be sitting on their thumbs."
Weather ... Or Not? While the rest of the U.S. swelters with record-breaking temperatures seemingly everywhere, the Pacific Northwest is having record cold for July.
I wore sweaters several times this week and even had the fireplace going on Tuesday morning. It's been raining, too. The weather is supposed to return to normal by weekend with a reappearance of sunshine as well.
Meanwhile, it's so hot, there are alligators swimming around in Canada.
Movie Stars: Is There Anything They Can't Teach Us? Angelina Jolie has revealed that her sons eat crickets "like Doritos." In a recent interview, the actress said sons Pax, 7, and Maddox, 9, got hooked on the cooked bugs during a trip to Cambodia, where they are commonly served as a snack.
Quote Of The Day is from the late, large Orson Welles: "My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four - unless there are three other people."
Wednesday July 20, 2011
What The Buyer Wants: Dan Neil has ruminated about Lexus, noting that the "brand enjoys enormous, even irrational goodwill among its clientele. In 2010 Lexus had the highest owner retention of any luxury brand, 62%, according to J.D. Power. This figure is especially notable since 2010 wasn't exactly upbeat for Toyota products. All things considered, Lexus elicits feelings of lifetime loyalty that the Hell's Angels would envy."
Then he tested the odd-looking Lexus CT200h hybrid. "Look, I don't want to sound superior or difficult to please. I'm not a great connoisseur of wine, for example, so you could serve me Three-Buck Chuck or the muddy runoff from a boarding kennel and I wouldn't notice anything amiss. As hard as it is for car enthusiasts to believe, many consumers just aren't capable of, or interested in, discerning the nuances between cars. They've got lives to lead. You say CT200h gets 42 mpg and costs $35,000 fully loaded? And it's a Lexus? Wrap it up. I'll take it.
For these car agnostics, the CT200h's leisurely acceleration of about 10 seconds to 60 mph would be a nonissue. And, really, they'd be right. If you were to look at the telemetry from most people's daily driving, you'd find people rarely accelerate faster than that anyway.
To me, a car enthusiast, the CT200h feels morbidly slow. I mean, sand dunes move faster. But I'm not the buyer in question, am I?"
The CT200h is not my cup of tea either. But, if people want 'em, it's their choice. On the other hand, only 240 CTs were sold last month.
Sad News: Den Fenske, a great guy and serious Lincoln enthusiast, died in April at age 76 in Southern California. Den was a wonderful, outgoing guy and a friend to all. He was a fan of the first generation Lincoln Continental and had an award-winning, near-flawless 1942 white Cabriolet.
Den and wife Jan also owned gorgeous '41 and '47 cabriolets; he did much of the meticulous restoration work on his vehicles. Den once had an interior design business and used to make sales calls in his white 1957 Continental Mark II.
|Den and Jan with their Lincoln Continental Cabriolet in 1992, when the '42 won the E.T. Gregorie Trophy for best senior car at the Lincoln & Continental Owners Club National Meet in Denver. At right, Ford spokesperson and actress Lindsay Wagner (The Bionic Woman) and Den at a 1996 FoMoCo car meet held at Knott's Berry Farm. The gorgeous white V-12 Continental won many auto show honors over the years.
Den always had an amiable greeting and helpful, encouraging words for everyone who asked his advice. My deepest condolences go to Jan and the entire Fenske family. Requiescat In Pace, Den. (permalink)
Happy Birthday To The World's Wurst Vehicle: The Oscar Meyer Wienermobile is 75 years old.
The Good Old Days: An interesting take on the 1950s comes from Don Rodrigo, a poster on American Digest: "Annette (Funicello) was an interesting phenomenon in the '50s, or, at least, appears to be so in retrospect when you look through the distorted lens of what we were supposedly like as Americans back then. She was an Italian brunette who was America's sweetheart at a time when a supposedly lily-white America was supposed to have preferred pale, blue-eyed blondes.
An Arab-American named Danny Thomas had a hit TV comedy, and Nat King Cole was universally loved. Oh, and Eye-talians ruled the beach blanket movies that Jews produced.
We were a more complex and nuanced (and grown-up) people than we are portrayed as being in the current narrative."
My take on the 1950s - including Annette - begins here.
I've also written about 1957, when America was really great.
Bookend: Borders Books is goin' outta business. The 40-year-old book seller says it plans to liquidate and close its remaining 399 stores.
Every Borders I've visited had confusing and jumbled layouts. But there was always nicely upholstered furniture in which to sit and kill time. February was the last time I was inside a Borders store; the Rancho Mirage, CA location looked terminal. Inventory seemed sparse and no one was buying anything.
A fat something (couldn't identify the gender) was snoring in a comfy chair with a hardbound book spread across his/her chest.
Kinda summed up the Borders business model - snoozing its way to oblivion.
We The People: I read Jack Bogdanski's blog because it contains a lot of interesting information about various doings in and around Portland, Oregon.
Jack has an unapologetic liberal viewpoint, so I was surprised when he concluded his posting about Sheila Bair, the just-departed chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, with this: "I wish Bair, a Dole Republican from Kansas, would run for President. I'd vote for her, over Obama or anybody else in the field at this point."
Folks of all political stripes are fed up with our intrusive, self-serving and spendthrift government and those politicians who enable/promote such a monstrosity.
Quote Of The Day is from Ronald Reagan: "Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it."
Tuesday July 19, 2011
What To Do ... with a spare 1956 Ford, if you've got one: Wow, I never considered patio furniture.
I have a soft spot for 1956 Fords because I learned to drive in one.
In early 1956, my dad bought a brand new Ford Mainline Tudor. It was a stripper - it didn't even have a radio - but it did come with optional full-wheel covers and the optional three-speed overdrive hooked to the base ohv 6-cylinder, 137 horsepower engine.
Micro-Economics: Last week we stopped for lunch at a familiar Mexican restaurant we've patronized for 15 years or so. It's in a business park and it used to be that, if you arrived after 11:45 am, you'd have a tough time parking because of all the contractors' trucks. Typically, the place would be full by noon and there would be a line at the counter waiting for phoned-in 'to go' orders.
On this visit, the restaurant was nearly empty. Parking was plentiful. During our lunch, only two other people were being served. There were no pickup orders and the phone didn't ring once while we were there. The business park was nearly empty with lots of 'For Lease' signs on doors. On the way home, we passed several local businesses which have closed their doors.
During the summers from 2000-07, it was tough to get down our street because of all the construction worker trucks. It seemed like everybody was making major home improvements, including us. After 2008, the home improvement merry-go-round stopped dead.
This summer, our street has ... (more >>>)
Good Riddance: Vancouver's only Ruby Tuesday, part of the city's 'Black Hole Of Dining', has been put out of its misery.
We used to eat there occasionally but watched it deteriorate into a place offering overpriced, mediocre food and slow service. After they badly and unapologetically screwed-up my order in 2006, I said, "Never again."
The Tennessee parent company shuttered the location last week after declaring it an "underperforming site."
Let It Die: Business Insider has reported that Bank of America is "tanking again, and it may "need $50 billion in fresh capital." The bank posted the biggest quarterly loss in its history - a second-quarter loss of $8.83 billion. Bad mortgage write-offs constitute much of the loss; I wonder how much is due to all those mortgages BofA made to illegal immigrants.
A recent lawsuit has charged that "Bank of America credit card holders were billed to be enrolled in program that was supposed to protect them from getting behind on their payments but instead never received the benefits of the program. Further, BofA customers were enrolled in the program without their permission. That's according to a class action lawsuit filed today in a California federal court alleging that Bank of America is engaging in 'unfair and deceptive trade practices.'"
I've had problems with this brainless, zombie bank myself in the past.
Bank of America has apparently pissed away the TARP money it was given and now expects more, apparently. Enough! (permalink)
Tarnation, Carnation: From Stumptown Blogger comes a wonderful and hilarious 1940s tale of an award-winning rhyme for Carnation canned condensed milk.
Quote Of The Day is from Steven Wright: "A lot of people are afraid of heights. Not me, I'm afraid of widths."
Monday July 18, 2011
Late Report: Since Father's Day was a month ago, I guess this report is tardy but I was too busy to blog at the time. I did receive some cool model cars as gifts ... (more >>>)
Clear Concept: While working in the Plastics Department of Rohm & Haas Co., I saw a lot of archival photos of Plexiglas-roofed vehicles.
I had heard that a 1939 Plymouth had been made with a transparent acrylic top but never seen it. A photo, recently published ... (more >>>)
Death In The Family: Last week, our propane-powered grill died. The venturi had been rusting through for a while and I managed to keep it more or less attached to the manifold body with a strategically placed pair of pliers. Everything finally let go and one side was actually backfiring - shooting flames right on the propane tank. Not good.
The grill was nine years old and the manufacturer had gone out of business. Our last propane grill died of a rusted manifold but lasted about 15 years. That manufacturer had also gone belly up.
Prior to that, we had always used a charcoal-heated hibachi grill. There is a great deal of manly ritual involved with proper firing of a hibachi: the creation of The Great Charcoal Pyramid, the interlayment/underlayment of combustible newspaper, the starter fluid Dousing Ritual and the Tossing of the Match.
As with all ceremonies ... (more >>>)
Thank You, Laura Ingraham: Here's the Obama-Carter malaise remix you've been waiting for. It's why they call Barry 'Carter II'.
Fractional Idiot: Congressional Black Caucus member and professional race-baiter Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D - Texas) has strongly suggested that "members of Congress are making it difficult for President Obama to raise the debt ceiling because of his race."
Which race, Sheila? He's half-white, ya know. And you're a half-wit.
Speaking of fractions, Joel Stein once wrote of Barry O., "He's effete. He's well-dressed. He eats arugula - which he buys at Whole Foods. He mocks those who use guns. He is, as we mentioned, quite thin. He may only be half-black, but he's three-quarters gay."
Headline Of The Week ... so far: 'Toaster Mosaic Made From Slices Of Toast'.
Bad Pun Of The Day: To write with a broken pencil is pointless.
Friday July 15, 2011
Lil' Smoker: The Chevy Cruze will have a diesel option in 2013. Yawn. America considers diesel to be the Esperanto of fuels.
Don't Get Around Much Anymore: Last month, the odometer of my Lexus finally passed the 15,000 mark.
Auto Quote Of The Year, Perhaps: On May 31, VanillaDude posted a comment at The Truth About Cars on the auto bailouts. He wrote, "The auto bailout would not be an issue in the presidential election next year if the US economy improved enough to assure voters that the problems faced in 2008-2009 were behind us. It has not.
The bailout would not be an issue in the presidential election next year if the loans were paid back. Another reason we will see this issue remain alive is because it reinforces the crony capitalism and crony unionism backroom deals the current administration continues to make in DC. One cannot call for shared sacrifices, yet continue to demonstrate that political connections with the right people avoids sacrifices. The bailout is another example of corrupt dealmaking.
The bailout was necessary. How it was handled exposed to voters how badly the Federal Government operates ... (more >>>)
All Aboard! For those readers who are railroad fans, I recently reposted some photos of my visit to various train and model train displays in the Lancaster PA area from June 2000.
I have also posted photos from our 2008 Pennsylvania trip to the Steamtown National Historic Site, the Electric City Trolley Museum (both in Scranton), the Railroaders Memorial Museum in Altoona, Horseshoe Curve and the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg.
The last few weeks have been spent the last few weeks updating/improving site pages and adding bigger/better images where possible.
Makes Nixon Seem Normal By Comparison: President Shortpants threw a hissy fit Wednesday, abruptly walking out of the White House debt talks after warning House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, "Don't call my bluff."
Over at Ace, Monty has written, "It chafes His Majesty when the plebs speak out of turn, and it is simply an act of lèse majesté when mere Congressmen presume to question the motives and actions of the Royal Person.
I must say that I don't find President Obama's legendary peevishness and thin-skinnedness to be imperial so much as pedagogic - he's got the manners, attitudes, and air of a hack college professor who is being forced to teach a class full of (to him) stupid undergrads. He hates the work, finds it unworthy of his intelligence, and it really irks him to be questioned or interrupted by his students while he's lecturing them. He takes every disagreement as a personal insult; indeed, considers criticism from his perceived underlings as presumption."
Recently revealed e-mails show ... (more >>>)
Dead Eateries: Battle Ground lost a couple of restaurants recently. Our favorite local Italian place, Paparazzi, closed its doors in early June.
Last week, Fatty Patty's was shuttered. Patty's was notable for its pig-themed decor and ginormous platters with names like Hog Waller and Slop.
Silver dollar pancakes were the size of large pancakes. 'Regular' pancakes were the size of 16-inch pizzas. I didn't patronize Fatty Patty's often but I'll miss it.
Quote Of The Day is from the late columnist Earl Wilson: "We have 35 million laws trying to enforce Ten Commandments."
Thursday July 14, 2011
TV Report: I watched 'The Car Show' Wednesday night and it didn't suck. I suppose that comparisons with BBC's brilliant 'Top Gear' are inevitable.
If 'Top Gear' rated 95 on my meter, 'The Car Show' would get a 70 or so. 'Top Gear USA'? Ummm ... maybe 30. There's minimal chemistry between TG-USA's co-hosts and the History Channel TG obviously has a far smaller budget than its British cousin.
Back to TCS. It's hosted by comedian and car buff Adam Carolla, with co-hosts Dan Neil - the Wall Street Journal's Pulitzer prize-winning auto writer, Matt Farah of The Smoking Tire (whatever that is) and four-time NBA champion John Salley. In terms of stunts, locations and camera work, it probably has the lowest budget of the three shows.
But I generally enjoyed it anyway. I particularly liked the Rolls Royce Ghost test on 17 Mile Drive. The 24 Hours of Lemons segment was fun but a little forced. I'll be tuning in again next week.
Speaking of Adam Carolla ...
Book Review: 'In Fifty Years, We'll All Be Chicks' by Adam Carolla
How can you not like a book that - early on - states, "What we used to settle with common sense or a fist, we now settle with hand sanitizer and lawyers." I first became aware of Adam Carolla when he was the co-host of the late, great 'The Man Show.'
He was hilarious back then and, judging by the book, still is. I found myself laughing aloud frequently as I read along.
From the much-overblown, possibly nonexistent Peanut Allergy Scare to why every vehicle in the world has child protective devices like seat belts - except school buses, his outlook is shatteringly accurate while flying in the face of political correctness.
Carolla bemoans "the pussification of America," where everything carries warning labels and we are urged/commanded/browbeaten to tiptoe around certain societal groups ... (more >>>)
Oh, The Humanity! Tens Of Thousands Of Pet Cat Photos May Perish: Al Qaeda is said to be plotting a devastating "cyber jihad" against Britain and the West.
"Terrorists even tried to "invade" Facebook in their campaign of electronic warfare."
Bad Pun of the Day: There's a new disease found in soft butter. Apparently, it spreads very easily.
Wednesday July 13, 2011
Art I Can Appreciate: Yesterday, my wife and I accompanied our daughter and her fiancé to the outstanding 'Allure of the Automobile' at the Portland Art Museum.
It has been described as "the first exhibition to consider the stylistic development of cars in the context of prominent design movements such as Art Moderne and Postwar Modernity."
There were 16 cars on display, with a total value of $81.2 million. I have posted four pages of car photos, starting here.
Afterwards, we had a delightful and tasty lunch at Pastini Pastaria on SW Taylor St.
Aren't They Pretty Much The Same Thing? How come ADD is bad and requires medication, while multitasking is considered a special talent?
Gatorpeed? Eeeewwww. The Atlantis crew is carrying an experimental textbook-sized kit with them that is capable of converting tainted fluids, including urine, into drinkable water fortified with electrolytes.
I thought all the astronauts drank Tang?
Unlike the urine filter that the space shuttle already employs for drinking water, the bag uses a process called forward osmosis to get the job done without using electricity.
Quote Of The Day is from Albert Einstein: "Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen."
Monday July 11, 2011
Blue Skies: It was a lovely weekend - lots of sun with highs in the upper 70s. On Saturday morning, I took a nice drive in the Plymouth.
My only complaint - too many other cars on the road. Yup, good weather'll do that.
I Love The Look Of Old Iron In The Morning: At TTAC, Murilee Martin has posted an awesome photo of John Daniels' 1949 Cadillac Sedanette storming up the mountain at the June Pike's Peak International Hill Climb. An even bigger photo can be seen here.
I've posted more about the Cadillacs of that era here.
Interior Upgrade: Dan Neil tested the Mustang Boss 302 and loved the mechanical bits but longed for a bit more refinement, writing that - if he purchased such a vehicle, "my first stop after the dealership would be a good upholsterer, to cover the car's cheap styrene interior-trim pieces with French-stitched split cowhide, if not, you know, actual mustang. I'd then find a metal fabricator to make a beautiful, machine-turned aluminum dash inset to replace the shoddy trim piece that's there."
"This thing drives like it should have Breitling gauges and Boeing controls. It should be skinned with ermine and antelope and equipped with floor mats made of Blogojevich hair."
He concluded, "The problem with making a silk purse out of a sow's ear is that your purse will still smell faintly of bacon."
What Recovery? Writing in Human Events, Jim Hoft has claimed that the Obama 'Recovery' is the worst ever since the Great Depression. "Worst. President. Ever. A new report shows that real GDP has risen 0.8% over the 13 quarters since the recession began, compared to an average increase of 9.9% in past recoveries.
Team Obama promised that US GDP growth would be 4.0% in 2011. The Fed announced last week that they see GDP at 2.7% to 2.9% this year."
How bad is it? Take a look at the latest ... (more >>>)
Mile High City: There are now more medical marijuana dispensaries in Denver than Starbucks.
Unanswered: Dave Burge - aka Iowahawk - prepared a bunch of questions for Obama's
Twitter Town Hall Online Publicity Stunt last week, but received no response. All of his questions were good but these were, in my opinion, the best:
• If shovel-ready projects create jobs, wouldn't spoon-ready projects create even more jobs?
• An $8 billion high speed train leaves Chicago for Iowa City at 8:15 am at 40 mph. Why?
• How come you haven't made unemployment illegal?
• I let my Mexican drug lord license expire. Am I still eligible for the free machine gun program?
• If we reneg on the debt, where's the best place to hide our stuff from the repo men?
• Since you've doubled the number of wars, shouldn't you be getting another Nobel Peace Prize?
• I understand you finally quit smoking. Do they make a patch for spending addicts too?
Best Recent Headline I've seen comes from on the return of Keith Olbermann to television (although its not real TV but rather some obscure network known as Current TV - which may have gotten its name because it's powered by an old nine-volt Eveready battery): 'Crazed Man Resumes Preaching to Crickets'. (permalink)
Quote Of The Day is from Jim Norton: "The NAACP has blasted CNN for a lack of diversity. CNN should blast the NAACP for the same thing."
Friday July 8, 2011
Heat Wave: Wednesday was sunny and hot - 86 degrees eventually. So, I took the Plymouth out, gassed it up and ran errands around town.
It was a nice ride but I was broiling because I had forgotten to shut off the car's authentic and original heating system for the summer.
I quickly remedied that.
Perception Is Reality: My wife related something she witnessed on 'Jeopardy' late last month. Host Alex Trebek asked a contestant the identity of the luxury auto brand whose logo depicts a stylized calipers. She didn't know the answer.
When told it was Acura, the contestant replied incredulously, "Acura's a luxury brand!?"
Insurance Agents Won't Like This: General Motors is offering one free year (or 15,000 miles) of car insurance through MetLife to new vehicle buyers in Oregon and Washington.
"Anyone who buys a 2010, 2011 or 2012 General Motors vehicle in either of those states is eligible to participate in the program, with the exception of those folks adding vehicles to their commercial fleets."
Wine of Summer: On Wednesday, temperatures reached 86 degrees by late afternoon. My wife prepared a nice summer supper - French salad for her and a Mexican pizza for me.
We shared a bottle of French Rosé, Domaine le Clos des Lumières Côtes du Rhône Rosé 2010. It was a breezy, medium-bodied Rhône wine, made from 45% Cinsault, 30% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre, and 10% Syrah.
Yes, yes, I know that it's not very soigné to have French wine with Mexi pizza but the combo went very well together. And, at less than ten bucks a bottle, it provided a cheap and cheerful buzz.
Summer has arrived. I think we'll be drinking lots more rosé before the season ends.
Resume Polishing: Frank J. Fleming has written, "Apparently as soon as the a debt ceiling deal is reached, Timothy Geithner is leaving his job to spend more time not paying taxes. Who will we be able to find that will do a great a job as he did? A bag of hammers? A box turtle? A rubber chicken with a pulley in the middle?
Really, seeing the job that guy did, if you were an employer, would you let that guy anywhere near a cash register? You might even just make him a Wal-Mart greeter and suddenly end up millions in debt.
Who am I kidding; how is he going to find a job in this economy?"
News I Can Relate To: I spotted this headline yesterday: 'Cooling system shut off at Japan's Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant after electrical sparks are detected'.
Last Saturday afternoon, I was at my computer and heard a racket outside my window. It was coming from the heat exchange unit of the heat pump. As I went outside for a closer look, it started making sounds like a gas lawn mower and large sparks began to shoot from the fan motor. I quickly shut the system and called our HVAC guy after the holiday.
He arrived late Tuesday morning and had the unit repaired - it needed a new fan motor - by early afternoon. That's good because hot weather has arrived in these here parts.
When he was finished, I lowered the thermostat and found that the system quickly reached mortuary freezer levels - meaning it's now working as it should be.
This'll Make Ya Feel Old: Ringo Starr turned 71 yesterday.
Definition Of The Day is from Kathy Shaidle at her succinct best: "Affirmative action: rewarding the incompetent at the expense of the innocent."
Hmmmm. As Ed Anger (also Kathy Shaidle) used to remark, "I'm madder than Jesse Jackson without a rhyming dictionary."
Thursday July 7, 2011
Now Horseless: I now have my new license plate on my '39 Plymouth. By declaring the car to be a 'Horseless Carriage' ... (more >>>)
Three Strikes And Yer Out: Restaurant Review - La Solera Restaurant; Battle Ground, WA
Once known Mexi-Chicken - a sort-of Mexican fast food joint, the owner closed and remodeled the place, reopening it a few months ago as an upscale Mexican restaurant with a new nom-de-plume.
After three visits, we've given up. The food is pretty good but ... (more >>>)
Cyberspace ... Mostly Empty: Gregory Sullivan has written, "I have little use for 99.9% of the Internet, because it's just people telling me that they can watch TV and read the newspaper harder than me. The average intellectual's head is full of tapioca. On the Intertunnel, it's rancid tapioca."
June Obits: Several notable people died during my blogging hiatus, including actor Peter Falk ('Columbo', 'Murder, Inc.', 'Pocketful of Miracles', 'Robin and the Seven Hoods') at age 83.
Then there's legendary saxophonist of the E Street Band, Clarence Clemons, age 69, who passed away after a massive stroke.
Also from the musical world, Carl Gardner, 83, former lead singer of the The Coasters, has died. And from television, actor James Arness, 88, of 'Gunsmoke' fame.
Finally, the infamous Jack Kevorkian - aka Dr. Death - has died at age 83 of natural causes. No assistance was required.
May they rest in peace.
Quote Of The Day is from Frank J. Fleming: "My favorite part of the chocolate peanut butter cup has to be either the chocolate or the peanut butter. I'm apathetic about the cup part."
Wednesday July 6, 2011
Electric Outage: The Tesla Roadster electric car is dead. Tesla Motors announced it would stop taking orders for the $109,000 vehicle in August.
Eric Peters has written, "Just 1,650 of these electric lemons found people rich enough - and dumb enough - to spend $109,000 for a $51,845 Lotus Elise stripped of its perfectly good gasoline engine and converted to run on electricity."
I've only seen one Tesla on the road. In California, of course.
Headline From The Future: '1973 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser station wagon takes top honors at 2041 Pebble Beach Concours'.
Department Of Irony: A motorcyclist died while protesting state helmet laws.
The 55 year-old Harley rider "was participating in an American Bikers Aimed for Education (ABATE) ride with over 500 other bikers." He "locked up the brakes on his motorcycle, fish-tailed and went over the handlebars. He struck his head on the pavement and was transported to a local hospital before being pronounced dead."
State police said that the accident would not have been fatal if the man had been wearing a helmet.
Only In Portland: Casa Diablo is described as a 'Vegan Strip Club', yet they offer a coupon for a burger and fries combo for lunch.
And the dancer in the Willamette Week ad seems to ... (more >>>)
Interesting Fact: 'American Idol' draws about 30 million viewers for its grand-finale shows, whereas The Ed Sullivan Show (which debuted as 'Toast of the Town' in 1948) "attracted some 40 million viewers nearly every Sunday night for two decades - when the country had half as many people as it does now."
I'll always remember the live 'Big M' commercials for Mercury.
Quote Of The Day is from investment adviser Malcolm Berko: "When I graduated from college, my dad warned me not to confuse knowledge with wisdom.
He said, "Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit, and wisdom is not putting that tomato in a fruit salad.""
Tuesday July 5, 2011
June Auto Sales: Light vehicle sales hovered around 11.5 million SAAR in June - up 2.8% from a year ago and down 2.6% from last month.
Ford Motor Company was up 14% overall. Lincoln sales increased by 16%, the Ford brand jumped by 20%. Focus sales increased 41% to 21,385 vehicles. Fusion sales were up 13% to 20,808 units. Explorer sales increased a whopping 56% to 10,422 SUVs. Sales of the F-Series trucks rose 7% to 49,618 vehicles. Lincoln MKZ sales increased 31% to 2,360 small sedans. Only 395 MKTs (the odd-looking Ford Flex-based vehicle) were sold - a decrease of 24%.
General Motors sales increased 11%. For the month, the Chevrolet Cruze had retail sales 153% higher than the Chevrolet Cobalt it replaced. The 32 mpg highway-rated GMC Terrain and Chevrolet Equinox compact crossovers saw a combined retail sales increase of 78% during the month. Passenger car and crossover retail sales also rose substantially, up 33% and 24%, respectively.
Chrysler Group was up 30%, mostly because of Jeeps (+74%) and Ram trucks (+34%).
Hyundai was up by 16%; Kia sales increased 41%. Volvo was up 42% to 7,100 units; Volkswagen experienced a sales increase of 35% to 28,444 units. Mercedes-Benz was up 19%; BMW sales climbed 13%.
Toyota and Honda were down 21% each, mostly because of quake-related supply problems. Lexus sales were down by 38% to 10,773 units. In June, 2,171 Avalons were sold - a drop of 23%. Only 459 Lexus LS sedans were sold, a decline of 38%.
Nice Weather We're Having: Last Friday was gorgeous, so I fired up the Plymouth and took a nice drive. When I got home, I noticed that the temperature gauge was higher than usual, so I checked both the oil and radiator. I added about a half quart of oil but the radiator took a full gallon of mix.
On Saturday morning - another sunny, warm day - and took the ol' hot rod for a ride on the same country loop. When I pulled the '39 back into the garage, the temperature gauge was almost 50 degrees lower than on Friday.
Note to self: Check fluids. We live in an age of cars that don't leak or burn fluids and get too spoiled. (permalink)
But Who Will Buy It When All The Rich Hippies Are Dead? A 1963 Volkswagen Microbus fetched $217,800 at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Orange County recently.
And, in the world of Plymouths, a 1969 Roadrunner hardtop was sold for $121,000 at the same auction.
Made In The USA: Economist Mark Perry has noted that "Out of the top ten American-made cars, half are built in the U.S. by Toyota and Honda, three by Toyota and two by Honda."
What about them there Americun-as-Pie pickem-up trucks? "Alas, today's Michigan and Missouri built F-150 bears only 60% domestic content rating. Similarly, the Chevrolet Silverado, which held second place for much of the F-150's reign, has just 61% domestic content."
Crooks On The Loose: Mark Steyn has reminded us that "the two Democrat hacks who headed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Franklin Raines and Jamie Gorelick, walked away with a combined taxpayer-funded payout of $116.4 million.
Fannie and Freddie are two of the largest businesses in America, but they're exempt from SEC disclosure rules and Sarbanes-Oxley 'corporate governance' burdens, and so in 2008, unlike Enron, WorldCom or any of the other reviled private-sector bogeymen, they came close to taking down the entire global economy. Yes, yes, I know two wrongs don't make a right (unless you're Jamie Gorelick), but what then is the point of the SEC?"
How come they're not in jail? Sigh. I've been asking that question for almost three years now.
Happy Birthday, Mom: My mother would have been 93 today.
Rabbit Test: On a somewhat-related note, while going through some old photographs, I found an item that my mom had kept for sentimental reasons.
It was a receipt for ... (more >>>)
Quote Of The Day is from Groucho Marx: "I could dance with you until the cows come home. On second thought I'd rather dance with the cows until you come home."
Friday July 1, 2011
Philadelphia 2011: In June, we took an 18 day trip to the Philadelphia area. Since moving to the Pacific Northwest 33 years ago, I've been back to Philly about 20 times.
Every time we visit, there are fewer people to see (some have died, some have moved away) and the changes in the area make it seem much less familiar. We decided that this trip would be our last ... (more >>>)
Significant Gathering: During our trip, I attended my 50th high school reunion at Saint Joe's Prep. I had a wonderful time and I think all the other classmates I met did too.
Out of a graduating class of 197, there were over 55 attendees. Some I have seen many times over the years. Others I haven't laid eyes on since I was 18.
I've kept in touch with friends and also attended every reunion - held every 5 years or so - since graduation.
All of us wore name tags. We are now old men and ... (more >>>)
Simeone Auto Museum: Located in South Philadelphia, the impressive Simeone collection has over $80 million worth of sporty, sports and racing cars on display in a 100,000 square foot facility. Highly recommended and definitely worth a visit.
I've posted two pages of car photos from the museum, starting here.
More Pix: There are two pages of general Philadelphia trip photos posted, starting here.
Rental Car: Our 2011 Chevrolet Impala was much better than the Impala we rented five years ago. But ... (more >>>)
Food: We had some outstanding meals - and some not-so-good ones - while in the Philadelphia area.
Check out my Restaurant Reviews page for details.
Sum-Up: We had a very satisfying visit but are glad to be back home in the Pacific Northwest. Farewell, Philadelphia - we won't be returning.
Joke Of The Day is from Henny Youngman: A doctor held a stethoscope up to a man's chest. The man asked, "Doc, how do I stand?" The doctor answered, "That's what's puzzling me, too!"