A Blog About Cars ... And Everything Else That Catches My Eye
Friday March 30, 2012
AutoSketch: '1961 Lincoln Continental - A New Frontier For Lincoln'
When the 1961 Lincoln Continental was introduced the automotive trade press was stunned. The car's look was a dramatic departure from the styling of the 1960 Lincoln - in fact, it was a complete break from the fins, fat chrome trim and dog-legged windshields which were so characteristic of all cars of the prior five years. It did show some hints of fine cars of the past - the Continental Mark II influence could be seen in the mesh grille, the wraparound taillight design and the rise in beltline just ahead of the rear wheel cutout.
The new Lincoln Continental was a clean, elegant design which influenced the look of many of the cars of the 60's including the '63 Pontiac Grand Prix, 1963 Buick Riviera and '64 Imperial. But the Lincoln Continental was more than just a pretty face. It was a highly engineered product as well. It offered a host of features and engineering improvements to make it a luxurious, quiet and dependable automobile.
Car Life magazine awarded ... (more >>>)
Dullsville: This week I spotted a dull gray Fiat 500 on a dull gray day in West Linn, Oregon.
Doomsville: Clark County (WA) now has a "likely" unemployment rate of 11%, according to regional economist Scott Bailey.
The county's January preliminary unemployment rate of 9% was revised upward to 11.2%. February's preliminary jobless rate was ... (more >>>)
Retail Electronics Has Been A Crapshoot Since 1947 Or So: Best Buy Co. plans to close 50 big box stores and open 100 small mobile locations in the U.S. in fiscal 2013 and cut $800 million in costs by fiscal 2015. The biggest U.S. specialty electronics retailer posted a fourth-quarter loss of $1.7 billion.
No surprise here - the retail electronics industry is constantly shifting because it is built on sand rather than a foundation. In the very early days of the business, electronics manufacturers decided that ... (more >>>)
Close To Failing: Senator Olympia Snowe, allegedly a Republican but more of a RINO in many cases, made a remarkable revelation. She told ABC Senior Political Correspondent Jonathan Karl, that she hasn't spoken to President Obama in nearly two years. "Snowe said that if she had to grade the President on his willingness to work with Republicans, he would 'be close to failing on that point.' In fact, Snowe, who was first elected to Congress in 1976, claims that her meetings with President Obama have been less frequent than with any other President."
Remember back in August '11, when President Obama said that "economic recovery is being hampered by 'the worst kind of partisanship' in Washington, and that lawmakers should 'put country ahead of party … 'There is nothing wrong with our country,' Obama told workers at an advanced battery plant in Holland, Mich. There is something wrong with our politics. There is something wrong with our politics that we need to fix.'"
Do not be fooled by the Most Partisan President Ever.
First Dog: He never told me his birth date but Winky was born 64 years ago this month. Yes, he did wink at people. I hope his little dog-soul is romping around happily somewhere.
I'll never forget you, old friend.
96 Year-Old Wisdom: Published in 1916, a pamphlet written by Presbyterian minister William J. H. Boetcker provides the following truths, which hipsters, liberals and progressives have trouble believing:
Cool, Man: I got a spam e-mail from the Hip Recall Legal Center. If it's so hip, do they employ beatniks? I wonder if there's Muzak in the office. Maybe Brubeck, Shearing, Coltrane or the Modern Jazz Quartet. (permalink)
Quote Of The Day is from Frank J. Fleming: "The living conditions of a king hundreds of years ago compares unfavorably to that of a hobo today."
Wednesday March 28, 2012
Another Blast From The Past: 'Automotive Predictions For The Next 100 Years'. Originally written and published by your truly in late 1999, this semi-tongue-in-cheek piece lightly mocked the sudden future-centricity of the population at the time - the odd mix of Y2K hysteria, various Bridges to the Future prophesies and ... (more >>>)
Remember When The Kia Rio Was The Butt Of All Car Jokes? The newest edition of the Rio topped Consumer Reports' list of small cars, beating out more popular rivals in the U.S. market, including the Ford Fiesta.
The Rio sedan's overall road-test score was 67 out of 100. It edged past refreshed versions of the Hyundai Accent and the Chevrolet Sonic. Both scored a 65. The Fiesta snagged a score of 61.
The Nissan Versa received poor marks for the overhaul of its Versa sedan. The magazine said the ride was jittery and engine sounds were "overwhelming and offensive." The Versa got 53.
Last year, the top seller in the small car segment was Ford, which sold more than 68,500 Fiestas. Honda sold nearly 60,000 Fit models and Hyundai sold more than 55,000 Accents. Kia sold just over 20,000 units of its Rio subcompact. But, now with new ratings and rising gas prices, that may change.
Car Washerobics: I am happy to report that a new drug treatment seems to be curing much of what has ailed me recently. I am feeling much better and have more energy. I'm getting back to being my old self. I hope it lasts after the treatments end next month.
How well am I doing? Well ... last Saturday morning, it was sunny and 50 degrees at 10:30 am, so I backed my Lexus out of the garage and gave it a very thorough washing. I had not personally washed this car since sometime in 2010; I've been using automatic car washes but they just don't do as good a job getting all the dirt out as a good hand washing. I also vacuumed the inside and trunk as well as cleaned under the hood. The shiny car looked very soigné in the soft afternoon sun.
The last time I actually washed a car - my wife's Toyota's Avalon - was last April. I had been feeling sooooo poorly over the last year that I just couldn't handle the chore. On Sunday morning, I gave it a thorough wash and a bit of spot-waxing here and there. I also vacuumed the Toyota's carpets inside as well as the trunk. I also cleaned the driver's seat as it was quite dirty. And rubbed in some Lexol leather conditioner. The engine compartment cleaning was more involved because I found corrosion on the Avalon's battery hold-down clamps. I disassembled and cleaned it then I repainted the bad areas using some 17+ year old VW Beetle black touch up paint.
I must say that, at seven years-old and 45,000 miles, the Toyota Avalon still looks like new. And it now sparkles.
For Sunday dinner, I cooked filets mignon on our cheap-n-cheerful Char-Broil grill, something I hadn't done in a while. I had received some really nice wines as Christmas gifts and decided to pull one from our pretty-full wine cellar. (I have discovered that the inventory doesn't go down when you can't drink.)
My wife and I shared most of a bottle of 2006 Waterbrook Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Verdict: It was, as my friend Ray sometimes says: "Ne Plus Ultra." This particular wine is #74 on Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2009 and was described as having "rich aromas of dried plums and candied violets are interlaced with oak notes. Intense fruit wraps around oak and toasted vanilla and lingering spice. A smooth finish presents cedar and structured tannins."
One wine critic wrote, "Round and appealing for its ripe cherry and currant flavors and medium-weight frame, which lets this become expressive as the finish lingers. Drink now through 2016."
Does this mean that I have to drink continuously for the next four years? Hmmmm. Sounds like a dare. (permalink)
Fare Thee Well: Francis W. Porretto has announced that his Eternity Road blog & website will be closing down.
I've enjoyed Francis' wit and his insightful writing. Some of his postings were about religion and morality; I especially liked his Sunday Ruminations.
Francis is an engineer by training and profession as well as a very good writer. As a fellow engineer, I wonder if he too was chided in college by Liberal Arts Types who would look down their patrician noses and sniff, "Of course, everyone knows that engineers can't write." Today, those same people are the turtlenecked Birkenstock-wearing graybeards observed at various protests carrying homemade signs painted with incomprehensible screeds.
But I digress.
Francis will be scrubbing his site so, if you want to read any of the archives, I recommend that you visit and download reading material posthaste.
Best of luck to Mr. Porretto in all his future endeavors.
Restaurant Review: Tommy O's; Vancouver WA: This Hawaiian restaurant/lounge has been described as a Pacific Rim Bistro, with "contemporary island favorites fused with fresh, local ingredients."
We shared a bottle of 2007 Tommy O's Hula Hula Washington Red which was a relabeled Maryhill Winery blend ("every varietal they've got but the kitchen sink went in it," I quipped to my wife). But the wine was very good - as were the appetizers and the entrees.
This place offers ... (more >>>)
Inconsistent Dough: There's toast and there's Texas toast. There are English Muffins .. but no Texas Muffins. What's up with that?
Taking Lessons From The King Kids: The mother of black slain teenager Trayvon Martin recently "filed a trademark to protect the rights to his name as an attempt to control and collect funds from the masses of merchandise being produced in support of their cause." Sabrina Fulton has filed two petitions to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to specifically gain the rights to the phrases 'I Am Trayvon' and 'Justice For Trayvon'. Hmmm. "I have a dream ... "
Looking at her photo, she probably wants the money for more hair extensions. And all this time, I had thought that 'Trayvon' was the name of a Toyota model. You know, the one that looks like Obama's son, if he had one. (When she's angry, Michelle O. looks more like the front end of a Tundra Limited CrewMax Cab.)
Meanwhile, former NAACP leader C. L. Bryant has opined that the attention surrounding the case has turned it away from the actual issues at hand and created a circus around the death, calling out Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson for exploiting the case to increase their own profiles. Amen. Thank you Mr. Bryant, for properly speaking out about these two race-baiting bottom-feeders. The duo live for this stuff, in the same way Batman and Robin live to solve Gotham's crimes.
Al and Jesse probably have a secret cave, too. What would they call it? The Bait Cave? The Bias Cave? Who plays the butler? Louis Farrakhan? Charlie Rangel? Now that Eartha Kitt is dead, will Maxine Waters play Catwoman? The possibilities are endless.
It is still not clear ... (more >>>)
And You Thought They Were Making License Plates: U.S. prisoners, employed by Federal Prison Industries, are building solar panels. FPI is looking into making energy-efficient lighting and small wind turbines at factories in Oregon and New York.
According to the Bureau of Prisons, those "inmates who go through the program are 24% less likely to return to jail and 14% more likely to find employment upon release because of the skills and experience they receive. The program operates in a range of industries - including fleet management and data services - to lessen the effect on any particular one."
The move into solar panels and other energy technologies is meant to help government agencies meet mandates for using energy from renewable sources and to "provide inmates with job skills in a new and growing market," according to Julie Rozier, a spokeswoman for FPI.
Headline Of The Week ... so far, is from The Onion: 'Study Finds Newborn Infants Can Tell If Parents Are Losers'.
A study published in the journal, Pediatrics, found that, within seconds of their birth, babies have the ability to sense whether their parents are losers.
"From the moment they open their eyes, newborns can tell if their mother had no other options and was forced to settle for their father, or if their father is a sad sack who has no friends and gets drunk on a single glass of chardonnay," said researcher Dr. Stuart Lindstrom, explaining that despite their blurry vision, infants can still identify basic loser body types, and have specialized olfactory receptors allowing them to detect the odor of failure.
"In fact, we've determined that as early as the second trimester, a fetus picks up on the income and social standing of its mother via the umbilical cord." The study also concluded that the screams of newborns stem from "the sudden realization they will be stuck with their loser parents for at least 18 years."
Quote Of The Day is from John Hinderaker, "If the president is a Republican, $4 a gallon gasoline is a disaster that takes food off the tables of the working poor. Not so if the president is a Democrat. Now, expensive gasoline is just the price we pay for transitioning to a glorious future of green energy."
Monday March 26, 2012
My Pappy Said, "Son, You're Gonna Drive Me To Drinkin' ..." The first time I ever heard the song 'Hot Rod Lincoln' was in 1960. On WIBG - Radio 99. The singer was Johnny Bond. His version was the one that caught on in the Philadelphia area. In those days, there were 'regional hits' - that's why many of those reissued compilation albums have songs or artists you don't recognize.
'Butterfly', a 1957 hit for Andy Williams, can't hold a candle to the 1956 Charlie Gracie version released on Philadelphia's Cameo Records label. It was a far bigger bigger hit in the NY-NJ-Philly universe than the lame Williams rendition.
Charlie Ryan recorded 'Hot Rod Lincoln' in 1955; it became a hit for him during the 1957-60 period, depending on what area of the country you look at. I never heard his version until I bought - you guessed it - a car songs compilation album in the mid-1960s.
Nevertheless, the creator of Hot Rod Lincoln is Charlie Ryan. He fashioned both the car and the song.
Charlie Ryan was a musician, songwriter and a car guy. In the late 1940s, he purchased a used 1941 Lincoln Zephyr four-door sedan. After a couple of years, he decided to make a hot rod out of it. He removed the Zephyr body, cut two feet off the frame to shorten the wheelbase and dropped a 1930 Ford Model A coupe body on it. At first, the car was painted black with red wheels. Charlie installed a '48 V-12 engine in it along with the 3 speed with overdrive '48 transmission.
The car has a lot of Lincoln touches on it, including cut-down Zephyr bumpers, a Lincoln emblem on the radiator, and the Lincoln greyhound radiator ornament. The interior has a narrowed '41 Zephyr dashboard. In 1960, the car was repainted red. It was repainted again in 1986 in "Datsun Z-car red." Charlie told me, "The paint's the only Japanese thing on it."
While he was working on the car, Charlie was thinking about the song. By the early ... (more >>>)
It Also Melted The Federal Reserve: General Motors has announced that it will replace about 9,500 charging cables on 2011 and 2012 Chevrolet Volts after numerous reports that the electrical plugs were melting.
A GM spokesman said that this is to "offer a more consistent charging experience." Which is a lot like Montgomery Burns calling a lethal radiation dose "a few too many sunshine units."
"The issue has been very limited, with only a few cords actually ending up melted. The 120-volt charger comes packaged with the car, but it is not meant to be the primary charging cord."
GM "initially blamed wiring problems in electrical outlets."
Barack Obama, a well-known Volt enthusiast, chimed in and ... (more >>>)
Get Well Soon: Former Vice President Dick Cheney, 71, just got a heart transplant. Like me, Dick's a good-hearted guy with a bum ticker. But I'm feeling good and not having any heart issues these days.
Cheney has been a model of what a public servant should be someone who served with distinction and who took positions based on what he thought was right for the country, not for his own popularity. I wish him a speedy recovery.
Old & Broke: People near retirement age claim they can't afford much once they stop working.
A new study from the Employee Benefit Research Institute has declared, "Many workers report they have virtually no savings and investments. In total, 60% of workers report that the total value of their household's savings and investments, excluding the value of their primary home and any defined benefit plans, is less than $25,000."
The report added, "Americans' confidence in their ability to retire comfortably is stagnant at historically low levels. Just 14% are very confident they will have enough money to live comfortably in retirement."
All those projections done in 1998 by 'retirement specialists' are as out-of-date as the hairstyles in 'Purple Rain'.
The problem is likely even worse because ... (more >>>)
Why Government Purchasing Departments Should Be Abolished: Bobblehead dolls of the man who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln have been pulled from sale at the Gettysburg National Military Park visitors’ center bookstore.
Each little statue of John Wilkes Booth was holding a handgun. Charles G. Hill wondered if anyone has spotted any "Jeffrey Dahmer Happy Meals."
On A Somewhat Related Topic ... did you know that Abe Lincoln once had a blog?
Michelle, My Belle: Rachel Peepers has written that "at the Naval Academy at final formation, it'd become somewhat of a tradition for a plebe to shout out, "Goodnight, Jane Fonda" whereupon the entire company replies, "Goodnight, Bitch."
It was a tradition stopped when some smart alecks started replacing "Goodnight, Jane Fonda" with "Goodnight, Michelle Obama."
When B. Hussein got word of it, he threatened to throw "any offending company" (the entire company) out of the academy, "something the constitution gives him the power to do in the same way it gives the President the power to make insurance companies give away medicine for free."
Quote Of The Day is from Rush Limbaugh: "The new normal in unemployment is more than twice as high as what was unacceptable under George Bush."
Friday March 23, 2012
More Car Photos: Recently, I found some pix I had snapped at the National Studebaker Museum. I've posted pictures of the 1956 Packard Predictor concept car here. I've also added a new Studebaker photo here.
Gas Pain: On Tuesday, I paid $4.099 for Premium at Costco Vancouver - home of the cheapest gas in the area.
Global Warming Alert: Spring officially arrived March 20 but I woke Thursday morning to freezing temperatures and an inch of snow at our place. Go figure.
Bank Of Awfulness: In the past, I've blogged about my problems with B of A's poor customer service people. Thankfully, I don't have a mortgage with these bozos.
Matt Taibbi doesn't like my least-favorite bank either. He has written, "There are two things every American needs to know about Bank of America.
Bank of America is still in business and, to the surprise of many, passed the federally-applied Stress Test last week, while Citibank and others flunked.
Taibbi has noted that "two consecutive presidential administrations have taken extraordinary measures to keep Bank of America in business, despite a staggering recent legacy of corruption schemes, many of which were simply overlooked by regulators." The reason - the ubiquitous it's Too Big to Fail.
He concluded, "We need to convince politicians and investors alike to allow failure to fail." I agree; in July 2011, I penned a piece which came to the same conclusion.
What, You're Surprised? The shooter in the Toulouse massacre was a guy named Mohammed.
He killed seven people in the last 10 days ... (more >>>)
I Love Technology, Except When I Hate It: Yeah, it's nice to be able to order obscure stuff online and to use Google maps to find unfamiliar addresses but there's soooo much stuff I don't know how to do. I'm old and just not that interested in learning a bunch of ever-changing technology.
I think that this Dilbert cartoon captures me:
None of my friends my age have blogs, so they think that because I do I have Mastered Technology. No way. I feel so ... (more >>>)
Blonde Joke: A blonde's dog went missing and she became inconsolable. Her friend suggested, "Why don't you put an advertisement in the paper?"
She did, but two weeks later the dog is still missing.
"What did you write in the ad?" the friend asked.
The blonde replied, "Here boy."
Bad Pun Of The Day: A man fell into an upholstery machine. Luckily, he's now fully recovered.
Wednesday March 21, 2012
Consumer Reports Annual Auto Issue: I always enjoy reading it. CU's database of over 1.3 million vehicles comes from its subscribers and is, in my opinion, the most comprehensive and believable of various reliability surveys.
Here are some interesting tidbits from the magazine:
Nonbeliever Nonsense: Ace - who describes himself as "atheist/agnostic (or even Deist) depending on the day of the week" - has written, "If atheists are so logical and rational and sensible - which is the key point of atheistic evangelism, of course - why are they behaving in counterproductive, emotional, cult-like ways?
Because a local religious group had blessed a highway, the atheists came in with "unholy water" and scrubbed the highway to remove the blessing.
So, um, you fight what you believe is their pretend magic with your own pretend magic?"
Read the entire article.
I have several friends who are atheists or agnostics and they don't proselytize about it. They are good people, trying to live their lives as best as they can. Unfortunately, there are 'activist' atheists around who - like all activists - want to cram their viewpoint (in this case non-religion) down everybody's throats.
On a related note, Alaska Airlines stopped giving out their little inspirational cards in January of this year. The cards, which take a line or two from the Book of Psalms, have been an AA trademark for 30 years. But some people ... (more >>>)
A Job Well-Done: Brian Lamb is retiring from C-SPAN at age 70. He was a joy to watch as he interviewed people of all political stripes, never letting on his own views, simply asking questions - good ones, too.
As an interviewer, he was the master of the short and sweet question. Lamb stood out in an age where interviewers think it's 'all about me'. I would cite Bill O'Reilly, Charlie Rose and the delightful Martin Short character, Jiminy Glick, as examples of the me-me-me interviewer.
They All Look The Same To Me, Too: Big fat dykes that is. You may recall the story from last week where the "tolerant" lesbian in Washington tried to force a Catholic priest to go against his vows by giving her Communion "while she was still in her normal state of sin."
It turns out that the Washington Post is having trouble determining exactly which hefty lesbo it was.
I hope none of them ever assault me because I don't think I'll do too well trying to pick the right one out of a police line-up. Here in the Pacific Northwest, they all wear flannel shirts and Doc Martins, which makes identification even tougher.
Quote Of The Day is from Thomas Sowell: "Nothing is called "secondhand" any more, except "secondhand smoke." Why is it not called "pre-owned" smoke?"
Tuesday March 20, 2012
Blast From The Past: In 1995, I did a road test drive comparison between a new Lincoln Mark VIII and a 1956 Continental Mark II.
The magazine issue is long out-of-print but I've posted the article here - with updated, resized color photos - for your enjoyment.
Give The People What They Want: The new, compact Toyota Prius C has outsold the monthly totals of Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf - each seen less often than a Higgs boson particle - in a mere three days. Toyota announced that the C sold 1,201 units in just the first three days it was on sale, making it "one of Toyota's fastest-selling vehicles."
More Bad Karma: After Consumer Reports experienced a breakdown of its test Fisker Karma sedan during the first few days of ownership, testers are a little wary. And are learning lots of new things - many of them ... ummmm ... not good.
Lots of Karma owners have been reporting their own issues with their new and expensive plug-in hybrids. Things like "needing a new differential after less than 1,000 miles, a car shutting itself off at 35 mph and lots of trouble with the shifter."
CR is finding that "the range-extending gasoline engine is loud when the 22-kWh battery is depleted. And the Fisker's SUV-like 5,395-pound weight doesn't help with handling. On the inside, CR says the touchscreen is also less than ideal, with a grayscale look and plenty of menu flipping that "makes MyFord Touch look like a brilliant design." Since the MyFord Touch has been plagued with glitches and is hated by many owners, anything which is worse is terrible indeed.
Here's a telling quote from the magazine: "Just this weekend, for example, the speedometer and energy meter display disappeared when driving, on top of having several other rogue warning indicators appear last week. It is expected we'll be revisiting the dealership soon. We've had cars in the past that have been troublesome, but never anything like this."
I don't think the Fisker is gonna receive a good final grade from Consumer Reports.
Irish Nutrition: For St. Patrick's Day Saturday, my wife made homemade Irish soda bread. I had some for lunch along with potato soup and a pint o' Guinness. It was a great meal - just more of the luck of the Irish.
For dinner, she served a delicious homemade shepherd's pie along with more soda bread and, of course, more Guinness. I first experienced shepherd's pie at a Croydon pub during a business trip to England (my first trip overseas) in 1974.
After He Retired ... Rutherford B. Hayes "formed the original ZZ Top with James Garfield and Chester Allen Arthur."
Much has been made about President Obama's error/misinterpretation (or as one blogger described it "thoughtless denigration") of President Rutherford B. Hayes.
Last week, Obama said, "One of my predecessors, Rutherford B. Hayes, reportedly said about the telephone, 'It's a great invention, but who would ever want to use one?' That's why he's not on Mount Rushmore because he's looking backwards. He's not looking forwards."
Actually, President Hayes was such an early adapter that he installed the first telephone in the White House in 1877, just months after it was demonstrated. He was assigned this Washington exchange phone number: 1.
For the correct biography of this 19th Century president - including the lead quote of this posting, watch this short video starring Crow T. Robot. Crow reported, "He was admitted to the bar in 1845 although he did not drink lustfully from it."
How I miss MST3K - the original one with Joel Hodgson.
Going Up: President Obama's national health care law will cost $1.76 trillion over a decade, according to a new projection released today by the Congressional Budget Office, rather than the $940 billion forecast when it was signed into law.
"Democrats employed many accounting tricks when they were pushing through the national health care legislation, the most egregious of which was to delay full implementation of the law until 2014, so it would appear cheaper under the CBO's standard ten-year budget window and, at least on paper, meet Obama's pledge that the legislation would cost "around $900 billion over 10 years." When the final CBO score came out before passage, critics noted that the true 10 year cost would be far higher than advertised once projections accounted for full implementation."
Throws A Baseball Like A Girl; Now He's Taken Down By One: Bristol Palin has written an open letter to President Obama. Here's part of it:
"You don't know my telephone number, but I hope your staff is busy trying to find it. Ever since you called Sandra Fluke after Rush Limbaugh called her a slut, I figured I might be next. You explained to reporters you called her because you were thinking of your two daughters, Malia and Sasha …
But here's why I'm a little surprised my phone hasn't rung. Your $1,000,000 donor Bill Maher has said reprehensible things about my family. He's made fun of my brother because of his Down Syndrome. He said I was "f-d so hard a baby fell out." (In a classy move, he did this while his producers put up the cover of my book, which tells about the forgiveness and redemption I've found in God after my past - very public - mistakes.)
If Maher talked about Malia and Sasha that way, you'd return his dirty money and the Secret Service would probably have to restrain you. After all, I've always felt you understood my plight more than most because your mom was a teenager. That's why you stood up for me when you were campaigning against Sen. McCain and my mom - you said vicious attacks on me should be off limits."
Bad Pun Of The Day: Did you hear about the fellow whose whole left side was cut off? He's all right now.
Friday March 16, 2012
Damn, I Knew I Bought The Wrong Olds: I have only purchased one Oldsmobile in my lifetime and it was a real turkey.
In contrast, a 1912 Oldsmobile Limited Five-Passenger Touring the last remaining example of its kind and fitted with unique coachwork sold for $3.3 million recently, setting a world record for the most expensive Oldsmobile ever sold. (permalink)
Does Your Domicile Have A Name? Or Just A Street Address? We named ours several years ago but never had a sign made.
When we were in the Desert last month, we found a guy at the 'Art Under The Umbrellas' fair in Old Town La Quinta, who does custom tile signs. So we had him make us this 8" by 16" beauty:
I'll mount it over the front door
Meooooow! Ann Coulter weighs in on Sandra Fluke: "As if her haircut isn't birth control enough."
Thought For Today: The only time the world beats a path to your door is if you're in the bathroom.
Wednesday March 14, 2012
Book Report: 'American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company' by Bryce G. Hoffman
Many books have been written about the problems of the American auto industry. Some notable ones include: 'On a Clear Day You Can See General Motors' by John Z. DeLorean & J. Patrick Wright (1979), 'Car Wars' by Robert Sobel (1984), 'The Reckoning' by David Halberstam (1986) and 'Rude Awakening: The Rise, Fall, and Struggle for Recovery of General Motors' Maryann Keller (1989).
Car enthusiasts have bitched about Detroit's arrogance for years, many publicly in blogs and other web postings. I'm one of them ... (more >>>)
Now This Is A Jobless Recovery! Bill McBride of Calculated Risk has posted a chart comparing job losses and recovery rates for various post-WWII recessions.
Based on linear projections ... (more >>>)
Way To Go: Bob Caldwell, 63, editor of the stuffy, preachy and liberal Oregonian editorial pages, suffered a fatal heart attack after having sex with a 23 year-old woman - a student at Portland Community College. He had "provided her cash for books and other things for school in exchange for sex acts at her apartment."
I'm kinda jealous. I had ... (more >>>)
Will History Repeat Itself? Is Syria's civil war a prelude to a larger Mideast conflict that would involve Israel, Iran, the Arab Gulf countries minus Oman (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain) and Israel? Arnaud De Borchgrave and others think so.
"The Spanish civil war (1936-39) killed 500,000 as Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union backed opposite sides - and Franco's fascists emerged victorious and remained in power until 1975.
In the Middle East, Syria's civil war - which some observers are calling Spain II, or a prelude to World War III - has been under way since Feb. 17, 2011. Saudi Arabia is helping arm Syrian rebels who now call themselves revolutionaries. Russia and China are backing the Syrian dictatorship, which is allied with Iran.
Russia, China and Iran are on the side of Syria's "Alouite dictatorship" headed by Bashar Assad. He inherited the country's dictatorship from his father Hafez who died in 2000 after almost 30 years in power."
"Privately, Persian Gulf leaders say Iran has concluded the United States' days as a superpower are numbered. Iran's aging theocrats tell their visiting gulf interlocutors that America has lost two wars in 10 years - Iraq and Afghanistan - and is pulling out of Europe and "pivoting" to Asia where China is already dominant."
De Borchgrave has concluded, "Unless Iran's current view of a rapidly declining U.S. superpower can be reversed, a number of Arab Gulf rulers will be tempted into longer lasting accommodation with Tehran." Scary stuff.
I'm currently reading a book on Eisenhower's presidency. Ike was no cowboy but believed in the threat of tactical nuclear strikes to makes rouge nations behave - yes, there were rogue nations in the 1950s - and stood prepared to carry out his threats, if necessary. Bad rulers do not comprehend diplomacy - only brute strength gets their attention.
Happy Birthday to my dad who would have turned 93 today.
Presenting: Darth Bagpiper ... on a unicycle.
I liked the Gregory Sullivan's jokes, too, such as:
Quote Of The Day is from Rita Rudner: "I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult."
Monday March 12, 2012
Remember The '70s? Pierre Cardin stitched his name on ties and charged high prices for them. Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren rose from anonymity more or less simultaneously to tackle the question of designing clothes for the men and women of the 'me' decade. For them, the 'me' meant 'them', since it was their names stitched on your clothes, not yours.
Back in those days, when asked why I didn't wear designer ties, I told business colleagues that I'd gladly pay the extra bucks for a Cardin tie if Pierre would send me a photo of himself wearing a tie with 'Joe Sherlock' stitched on it. As you mosey around the various areas of this website, you'll find photos of me here-and-there wearing knit shirts, usually in vacation photos. There are initials embroidered on the pockets - mine. Not someone else's.
In the early 1980s, I picked up a nice yellow Jimmy Connors sweater super cheap at a Meier & Frank markdown table in Portland. It had a discrete navy 'JC' embroidered on the front. When people asked about that, I told them that I bought it at the Vatican gift shop and that it was a Jesus Christ designer sweater. (I hope He has a sense of humor.)
In the '70s and even '80s, everything was designer this-and-that. I once bought a exceptional off-white Pierre Cardin three-piece suit from a store with no name in a run down strip mall near Burlington, NJ. $49 - no tax. Cash only. I think it had "fallen off the truck."
In those days, many designers also lent their names to special editions of cars. Gucci was one of the first, putting his name on a special-trim edition 1972 AMC Hornet. Lincoln was also an early adapter, with the designer edition Mark IVs offered in 1976.
Bill Blass once said that he'd put his name on anything, except caskets. I remember his "nautical-themed" 1979 Lincoln Continental Mark V, which featured small anchors incorporated into the exterior accent striping and interior accents within the Blass back-to-back "B" design theme. It kinda made sense because those big Connies and Town Cars were certainly boat-like - real land yachts. P.J. O'Rourke once wrote, "I always rent Town Cars for that nostalgic "Avast, matey! Right full rudder!" road feel."
If you didn't like the Blass Boat, there was ... (more >>>)
Kudos ... to my grandson, Connor, who participated in the Western Regional FIRST Robotics Competition over the weekend. He was the only freshman on a team from his school; they built a robot that placed well in the various events.
There were 66 teams from all over - even Mexico and Hawaii - competing at Portland's Rose Garden arena.
Good Genes? Or Good Docs? PBS is having one of their Begging for Money telethons and has broadcast a special concert that the B-52s performed in Athens, Georgia in February 2011. The group looked almost as young as they did in the 1989 'Love Shack' video.
It's hard to believe that, at the time of the Athens concert, Fred Schneider was almost 60, Kate Pierson was 62 and Cindy Wilson was turning 55.
Tin roof rusted!
Food For Thought: My friend Jerry H. of Soggy Mountain, WA sent this to me: "The food stamp program, part of the Department of Agriculture, is pleased to be distributing the greatest amount of food stamps ever."
Meanwhile, the National Park Service asks us to "please do not feed the animals" because the animals may "grow dependent and not learn to take care of themselves."
Bad Pun Of The Day: A bicycle can't stand alone. It's two tired.
Friday March 9, 2012
Bad Karma: Consumer Reports paid $107,850 for a brand spankin' new Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid luxo sedan only to have it break down in the first few days of ownership.
Just a few days after purchase, the dashboard flashed a warning, the driver stopped to see what was wrong and then couldn't get the car into gear again. It ended up on a flatbed tow truck. Fisker said it was "assessing the source of the problem that caused its Karma plug-in hybrid to fail." Fisker has dispatched two engineers to examine the car.
The magazine had noted, "We encountered other problems with a Karma press car that visited the track for a few hours, and we have heard of problems at press events. In addition, we see that some owners are experiencing a variety of issues, as evidenced by (online forums). ... We buy about 80 cars a year and this is the first time in memory that we have had a car that is undriveable before it has finished our check-in process."
I wonder if Justin Bieber has had trouble with his? Is he even old enough to drive?
"It is a little disconcerting that you pay that amount of money for a car and it lasts basically 180 miles before going wrong," said David Champion, senior director for Consumer Reports' automotive test center.
Wow - and you thought the Volt was bad.
Fisker also has changed its CEO and halted production over the past month as it seeks to renegotiate the terms of a $529 million loan from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Blowin' Away Your Tax Dollars: Wind turbine farms in the Pacific Northwest - built with government subsidies and maintained with tax credits for every megawatt produced - are now getting paid to shut down as the federal agency charged with managing the region's electricity grid says there's an oversupply of renewable power at certain times of the year.
These are the ones you'll see on both sides of the Columbia River as you drive east on Interstate 84, past Hood River.
The problem arose during the late spring and early summer last year. Rapid snow melt filled the Columbia River Basin. The water rushed through the 31 dams run by the Bonneville Power Administration, allowing for peak hydropower generation. At the very same time, the wind howled, leading to maximum wind power production.
Demand could not keep up with supply (people just weren't turning on enough lights, running their heat pumps enough or charging enough Chevy Volts), so the BPA shut down the wind farms for nearly 200 hours over 38 days.
Bonneville is now offering to compensate wind companies for half their lost revenue - with your taxpayer money, of course. The bill could reach up to $50 million a year. "The extra payout means energy users will eventually have to pay more."
Thanks for nothing - literally.
Hate, Not Hope: John Hinderaker has written, "Millions of Americans voted for Barack Obama in the hope that he would be a trailblazer who would conduct the presidency in a new way. Well, he has: Obama has been the most divisive president in our modern history, unabashedly stirring up hate against not only his political enemies, but against private citizens who exercise their right to participate in our democracy."
President Obama's peevishness and thin-skinnedness are legendary. I think he hates the other side because he is such a failure. Think about awful bosses you've had in your life - miserable martinets who abused subordinates to cover their own incompetency. Yep, Barry O's one of those.
Obama has surrounded himself with radical leftists, Commie sympathizers and racists - Van Jones is just one example. They inspire him rhetorically.
He often uses divisive 'them' and 'us' comparisons because it plays to the rabble - those activist losers found in the Democratic Underground, SEIU, Daily Kos and many 'Rolling Stone' readers. They are his base. He hates the wealthy and successful, saying things like, "I do think at a certain point you've made enough money." He whines that "FoxNews has a point of view that is "ultimately destructive" for America."
Oh yeah - just yesterday ... (more >>>)
Quote Of The Day is from David Ferehty: "All you need for a happy life is good health and a bad memory."
Wednesday March 7, 2012
'American Iron': Here are a couple of noteworthy items from Michael Karesh's review of the 470 horsepower 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8:
Volt Compendium: I arranged all of my postings on the Chevrolet Volt Follies on a single page. It's here.
In Related News, Barack Obama said last week that when he leaves the White House, he plans to buy a Chevrolet Volt. This is another good reason to vote him out of office in November. That way he can buy his Volt before GM discontinues it.
Book Review: '1948: Harry Truman's Improbable Victory and the Year that Transformed America' by David Pietrusza
The Cliff Notes version of the 1948 Presidential Campaign was that Thomas Dewey easily won the Republican nomination and that he and Truman battled it out for the presidency. Everyone thought that Dewey would win in a landslide but Harry Truman somehow squeaked through, holding up the iconic copy of the Chicago Tribune, with its headline proclaiming 'DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN'.
The real story of the 1948 presidential campaign is far more engrossing. Author Pietrusza artfully reports the drama, the feuds and the unlikely happenings with skill and deftness.
The campaign is full of familiar names: a young, nervous Lyndon Johnson, soon-to-be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Warren Burger, Commie-spotter Whittaker Chambers, Supreme Court Justice William Orville Douglas, happy lefty Hubert Humphrey, war-hero Douglas Mac Arthur, Richard Nixon, various Roosevelts and American playwright, editor, journalist, ambassador, socialite and U.S. Congresswoman Clare Booth Luce.
Thomas Dewey didn't have it easy in the Republican primaries. He had to fight off Earl Warren, Robert Taft (who ensconced an elephant in the ballroom of the Bellevue Stratford convention hotel in hot, muggy Philadelphia), the soon-to-be perennial candidate Harold Stassen and the ghost of Eisenhower who seemed to flirt off and on as a spirit candidate.
Former Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe, Dwight Eisenhower, was sought after by both parties for a position on the ticket. But Ike sounded like an idiot sometimes, once suggesting ... (more >>>)
Priorities: Frank J. Fleming has observed, "So unemployment is crazy high, gas prices are skyrocketing, Iran is working towards nuclear weapons, so we need to … Oh! A radio talk show host called a woman who spent $3,000 on contraception a slut! The president needs to drop everything and focus on that!"
And so he did, placing a phone call to Miss Sandra Fluke, consoling her in her
It was not reported whether President Obama also placed phone calls to any of the many tornado victims in the Heartland or telephoned families of the recently-deceased U.S. soldiers assassinated in Afghanistan following the Koran-burning mistake.
Upon further reflection, Frank Fleming wrote, "I don't think Sandra Fluke is a 'slut' I think she's a whiny moocher with fascist tendencies. If she was a slut I'd like her better."
Sandra Fluke has presented herself as a crusader for women's health issues. Now, when I think of 'women's health', mammograms, pelvic exams and pap smears come to mind - all examples of good, preventative health care. But that's not what Sandra's talking about; she wants taxpayers to pay for her birth control, claiming that it cost her $3,000 per year for pills. This immediately moves Miss Fluke from 'slut' to 'dumb slut', since Walmart cheerfully offers birth control pills at nine bucks per month - about the cost of two lattes at Starbucks. That's $108 per year, Sandra. Then there are condoms, which might be an even cheaper form of birth control, depending on the friskiness of the purchaser. And then there's always abstinence, which costs nothing. No sex, more money for those lattes, Sandra.
After so many years of higher education (she's already past her 30th birthday and is still in school, for Pete's sake), you'd think that Georgetown coed Sandra would have learned how to comparison shop. Maybe she considers Walmart too downscale for her taste. No matter - under Obamacare, the mantra for all will soon be: "Beggars can't be choosers."
Look, no one is trying to ban birth control, including Rick Santorum. It's just that a lot of us resent the hell out of being forced to pay for somebody else's elective prescriptions when they won't pick up the tab for our more necessary meds.
If pregnancy is now categorized as a 'disease', it's going to have to get in line behind those chronic diseases which have been around longer, are of far longer duration and are considerably more 'devastating' in nature.
Here's some additional background on Ms. Fluke; it's not especially complimentary. It should also be noted that some news sources have reported that "Sandra Fluke thinks insurance policies shouldn't just pay for contraceptives, but for "transgender" amputations and implants."
There are indications that Sandra Fluke has connections to the White House and may, in fact, be nothing but a planted agitator. Given that her complaint is about Georgetown Unitversity, this may be still another Obama attack on Catholicism.
Sandra Fluke's birth control demands are to 'women's health issues' as Don 'Big Daddy' Garlits' Swamp Rat blown dragster is to 'mass transit issues'.
Quote Of The Day is from Rush Limbaugh: "If we're gonna have to pay for your birth control, you should be forced to set up cameras in your bedroom so we can at least watch, and get our money back."
Monday March 5, 2012
How Electric Cars Work: Cartoonist Michael Ramirez explains:
Too Much Voltage: General Motors is shutting down the Chevrolet Volt plant for five weeks because no one is buying the overpriced hybrid. This is the third shutdown of the Volt assembly line since production of the gas-electric hybrid commenced. "GM blamed the lack of sales in January on "exaggerated" media reports and the federal government's investigation into Volt batteries catching fire." Workers are being laid off until production resumes in late April.
"With a 150-day supply of Volts sitting on dealer lots around the country, this shutdown will temporarily lay off 1,300 employees." GM sold 1,023 Chevrolet Volts in February of 2012, but production output was 2,347 units.
It's worth noting that ... (more >>>)
Bigger Loser Than The Volt: Daimler is shuttering Maybach in 2013 after seven years of production. In that time, the company's ultra-ultra-luxury arm managed to sell just 3,000 units, and CAR reports that Daimler lost somewhere around $500,000 on each and every one of them.
"Even with a ludicrous price tag of over $370,000 for an "entry" Maybach 57, the brand couldn't quite recoup the dizzying $1.33 billion Daimler poured into it since its (re)inception."
If You Live In The Real World, You Already Knew This: Forget the alleged 3.1% rise in the Consumer Price Index, the government's widely used measure of inflation. Everyday prices went up 8% over the past year, according to the American Institute for Economic Research.
In the 1,000 or so days of the Obama Administration, the price of a gallon of gasoline has jumped 83%, the price of ground beef has gone up 24% and price of bacon has gone up 22%.
Scott Grannis has written, "Another thing that doesn't receive as much attention as it should is that Treasury yields have been lower than the rate of PPI inflation for most of the past four years. We haven't seen such low real interest rates since the highly inflationary 1970s, when the Fed was chronically "behind the curve," repeatedly failing to raise interest rates enough to constrain the high inflation that was triggered by the collapse of the dollar early in the decade."
Low real interest rates, a weak dollar, and an accommodative Fed are a combination that ... (more >>>)
Definition Of The Day is for 'Beauty Parlor': A place where women curl up and dye.
Friday March 2, 2012
Gas Pains: Regular has now topped $4.00/gallon in our area. Meanwhile, Energy Secretary Stephen Chu - an Obama appointee - told Congress this week that his department is "not focusing on reducing gas prices" and that higher gas prices mean more of a push for the alternative energy sources the administration wants.
Chu has previously stated that the ideal price of gas would be $8-$9 per gallon. Chu has admitted that he doesn't even own a car "at the moment."
As the Heritage Organization has noted, the Administration has been busy "dumping taxpayer dollars into alternative energy projects like the Solyndra solar plant. Another is subsidizing the purchase of high-cost electric cars like the Chevy Volt to the tune of $7,500 per car (which the White House wants to increase to $10,000).
In both cases, those methods aren't working. Solyndra went bankrupt because its product couldn't bear the weight of market pressures, and Chevy Volts aren't selling, even with taxpayer-funded rebates. What's the president's next plan? Harvesting "a bunch of algae" as a replacement for oil." This proposed algae program is apparently not a joke - at least not to Obama and his boffins. Will there soon be an algae-powered automobile, perhaps the Chevy Mold?
The proposed use of pond scum as an oil substitute has curried much favor with certain Democrats, many of whom have been referred to at various times as 'pond scum' themselves.
Meanwhile, the Obama Administration is seemingly "doing everything it can to make paying for energy even more painful by refusing to open access to the country's oil and gas reserves and blocking new projects that would lead to the development of more energy in America.
Case in point: the president's decision to say "no" to the Keystone XL pipeline, a project that would have delivered hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil from Canada to Texas refineries, while bringing thousands of jobs along with it."
Nobel Prize-winner Chu is also known for his decision to make now-bankrupt Solyndra the first recipient of a federal energy loan program. Chu approved a $535 million loan to Solyndra, which went belly-up in 2011.
February New Vehicle Sales: It was a big month - the strongest in almost four years. The Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) came in at 15.1 million vehicles. Chrysler and Volkswagen lead the sales charts with a 40% and 43% gain over February 2011.
Chrysler Group sold 133,521 units in February. The Chrysler brand increased 114%; sales of the flagship 300 sedan increased 480% over last year. Jeep sales were up 30%.
Edmunds.com Senior Analyst Michelle Krebs noted, "Chrysler's sales performance continues to be nothing short of phenomenal. Its sales were up 40 percent from a year ago, not only outpacing the industry but surpassing projections. Chrysler's sales increase was delivered despite a hefty 24% decline in incentives compared with a year ago. Higher sales and lower incentives spending will prove to be a winning combination when Chrysler reports financial results."
30,577 Volkswagen-branded vehicles were sold last month.
I'm quite surprised by these figures. I haven't seen many new Chrysler sedans or Volkswagens around here. But they must be selling somewhere.
Ford Motor Co.'s overall sales were up 14%. Focus sales totaled 23,350 vehicles in February - an increase of 115%, representing its strongest February sales performance since 2000. Mustang sales almost doubled. But Taurus sales were off by 23%, with only 4,329 sedans sold.
Lincoln increased 16% to 6,912 units, while Cadillac sales decreased by 27% to 15,768 units.
General Motors was up a modest 1% overall.
Toyota USA reported monthly sales results of 158,423 units, an increase of more than 12%. 3,497 Avalons were sold, a jump of 73%. Prius sales were up 52% to 20,589 vehicles, while General Motors sold only 1,023 Chevrolet Volts in February.
Lexus reported passenger car sales of 9,800 units, an increase of 66% over February 2011. 516 LS sedans were sold in February, a decline of 27%.
American Honda reported new-vehicle sales of 110,157, an increase of 12% over February 2011. Acura sales gains were a modest 4% at 11,250 units. Only 28 of the flagship RS sedan were sold.
Subaru sales were up 17% to 25,374 vehicles.
Jaguar sales jumped 62% to 1,022 units; Mini sales increased 42% to 4,980 vehicles. Hyundai was up 18%; Kia sales zoomed 37%. Sales of Nissan products were up 17%. 3,227 Fiat 500 models were sold in February.
Worst Car Headline Of The Week: 'Bentley To Unveil Plug-In Hybrid SUV In Geneva'. This is sooooo wrong in soooo many ways.
Newspaper Ad Revenues Have Dropped Off The Proverbial Cliff: The decline in newspaper ad revenues over the last 60 years is striking, but the sharp decline in recent years is absolutely stunning.
Economics prof Dr. Mark J. Perry has observed, "It took 50 years to go from about $20 billion in annual newspaper ad revenue in 1950 (adjusted for inflation) to $63.5 billion in 2000, and then only 11 years to go from $63.5 billion back to about $20 billion in 2011."
This is another example of ... (more >>>)
Gone But Won't Be Forgotten: American publisher, conservative political commentator and activist Andrew Breitbart, founder of the popular news website Breitbart.com, has died of an apparent heart attack at age 43.
Author of the bestselling book, 'Righteous Indignation' (I reviewed it here), he was a great warrior for the conservative cause and an antidote to the left-leaning mainstream media. He used new media forms effectively and dramatically to disseminate information.
His work helped spark a number of prominent news stories in recent years. Those included undercover videos posted on his website about ACORN, a corrupt, grass-roots group that offered housing assistance and other aid to the poor and his role in bringing to public attention a sexually suggestive photo that Democratic U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner of New York posted through Weiner's Twitter page. That scandal eventually led to Weiner's resignation last year.
In targeting ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), Breitbart posted videos in 2009 by conservative activists who secretly taped employees of the group giving tax advice to a couple posing as a pimp and a prostitute. The controversy led Congress to deny federal housing funds to ACORN, which disbanded in 2010.
Andrew is survived by his wife and 4 children. Requiescat In Pace
On A Related Note, Davy Jones, the English singer-songwriter and actor best known as a member of The Monkees, has died at age 66, also of a heart attack. RIP.
Prediction: David Burge - aka Iowahawk - has made a forecast, writing "I like to think that 150 years from now, future history buffs will be staging Drug War re-enactments."
Quote Of The Day: Witnessing the Republicans and the Democrats bicker over the U.S. debt is like watching two drunks argue over a bar bill on the Titanic.
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