A Blog About Cars ... And Everything Else That Catches My Eye
Wednesday May 30, 2012
AutoSketch: 1963 Lincoln Continental - Fine Tuning A Masterpiece
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, '63 Buick Riviera and '64 Imperial. But the Continental was more than just a pretty face. It was ... (more >>>)
Market Gyros-rations: Greek stocks have fallen 91% from their highs in 2007, a greater drop than U.S. stocks during the Great Depression. It kinda makes the recent S&P 500's performance look stellar.
With dividends reinvested, the S&P is now about even with its value at the end of '07.
Bite Me: Former Wyoming senator and Bowles-Simpson deficit commission co-chairman Alan Simpson wants to cut Social Security for seniors as a way to tackle the long-term debt.
Hey Al, I'll consider to giving up my Social Security as soon as you and all of your fellow Congressmen and Senators make yourselves subject to the laws and rules you have imposed on the rest of the nations. Give up your plush government pension in favor of SS, replace your elaborate, all-inclusive congressional health care with Medicare and buy your own supplement (just like I do).
So ... we are supposed to give up money we were forced to pay into, in order that every deadbeat, miscreant and unwed mother can get our money?
I got two words for that and the first one begins with the letter F.
This Time It Will Be Different: Charles Krauthammer has observed that the 2008 election "was a perfect storm. You had a financial collapse, war weariness, eight years of Republicans. It was over before it started. The Italian Communist Party could have won the election in 2008, and some will say it did win the election, but I wouldn't say it myself."
The novelty of Barack Obama is over. Just like the novelty of Mr. Peanut, Jimmah Carter, was over by 1980. In both cases, voters realized that the dream candidate turned out to be a nightmare president.
2012 won't be like 2008. It will be more like 1980, methinks.
Quote Of The Day is from Jeremy Clarkson: "I don't understand bus lanes. Why do poor people have to get to places quicker than I do?"
Monday May 28, 2012
The War On Town Cars: The People's Republik of Portland has continued its war on non-bicycle livery services by forcing limousine and sedan services to charge a $50 minimum for rides to and from the airport and at least 35% more than taxis for trips to any other destination. And these transportation companies cannot pick up customers until at least an hour after the customer calls for a ride.
Last year, two Portland sedan services, TownCar.com and Fiesta Limousine, had the nerve to offer 'Groupons' for service. The city of Portland responded by throwing down six-figure fines on both companies, which then had to nullify the Groupons or go bankrupt as a consequence.
Whenever we fly out of Portland, we use Pacific Executive Town Car Service because we don't want our cars parked at the airport and, at current rates, the cost of riding in a Town Car L is not much more than parking at the airport.
Don't even think about taking a taxi in Portland. Many are cramped (you may end up riding in a Prius or Scion) and we've had too many otiose Russian drivers who barely speak English, can't find anything and drive like morons. (permalink)
Book Review: 'The Tyranny Of Clichés' by Jonah Goldberg
Subtitled 'How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas', this book dismantles the progressive trite phrases and myths that are passed-off as wisdom in schools, media and politics. You know the ones - those considered to be "settled science" or dogmatic untouchable sacred cows.
I found this book funny and informative. It was less scholarly and more readable than Jonah's best-seller, 'Liberal Fascism'.
The book is full of interesting information. Here's an excerpt from the chapter ... (more >>>)
Experienced Groper: A Catholic priest who was removed from the ministry over sex abuse allegations is now working for the TSA at Philadelphia International Airport.
Until 2002, the man was a Catholic priest "working at churches across South Jersey. But the Diocese of Camden removed him from ministry because it found he sexually abused two young girls." Now, in a new lawsuit, a third woman is claiming she also is one of his victims."
Whose idea was it to hire a perv as a TSA agent? If brains were taxed, I'm certain he or she would get a rebate.
It's Only Monday ... but I'm sure that this will remain the Headline of the Week: 'Obama's High School Drug Dealer Killed With a Ball-peen Hammer by Scorned Gay Lover'.
Runner up: 'Smelly Pig Plant Sparks Riot in Chile'.
Photo Embiggening: Recently, I rescanned photographs from our 1999 trip to Philadelphia and replaced the old, tiny dial-up sized photos on the web page. I also added some additional photos.
Rail fans will enjoy a couple of pix from Frankford Junction as well as photos of the Morris Arboretum's garden railway. The web page can be found here.
Remembrance: Today is Memorial Day. Initiated in 1868 and originally called Decoration Day, it is a day to remember those who have died in our nation's service. We honor those who gave their lives so that our country might survive and that democracy and liberty would continue to flourish.
Quote Of The Day is from James Lileks: "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture."
Friday May 25, 2012
Honk If You're Inflated: Nissan will make its Easy Fill Tire Alert system standard equipment on its 2013 model year vehicles. Taking the federally mandated tire pressure monitoring system to the next logical step, the Nissan system honks the car's horn when you've inflated your tires to the correct pressure.
I really like this idea. I'm surprised no other manufacturer has offered it.
Just Wondering: Do you think any of the people who bought '70s cars with opera lights ever actually went to an opera? (permalink)
Coming Next - World Peace: Scientists at MIT have discovered an earth-shaking 21st Century solution to the dispensing of ketchup.
The research team, "consisting of mechanical engineers and nano-technologists, over the past several months has created 'LiquiGlide', a non-toxic coating so slippery that when you tilt the bottle, the ketchup just flows. Every last drop." What will they think of next?
I wonder if it will work with STP?
Two-Faced Democrats: Jim Geraghty has written, "Obama calls for a better, more civil public discourse in America, a 'new tone' … and then Democrats in Congress label their opponents Nazis, "demons," Scott Walker is labeled Hitler, Joe Biden concurs with a House Democrat that the opposition is acting like terrorists …
Civility matters! Hyperbolic, angry rhetoric is creating a culture of hate and violence! … Wait, never mind.
"War on women"? Forgotten when a $1 million check from Bill Maher arrives, or when Hustler magazine does awful things to S.E. Cupp.
The horrific deprivations of Bain Capital? They only apply to Mitt Romney, off running the Salt Lake Olympics at that time; the Obama bundler who was actually running Bain at the time is not relevant, we're told."
Dead Bang: 'Sudden coital death' - a fatal heart attack during sex - is more common when a man is with his mistress than when he's with his wife, a new study has found.
Truth In Packaging Needed: If hobo stew were made with real hoboes, surely we'd have far fewer homeless people. (permalink)
Bad Pun Of The Day: She was only a whiskey maker, but he loved her still.
Thursday May 24, 2012
Geezer-Friendly: Dan Neil road-tested the 2012 Volvo C30 T5 R-Design Polestar Edition and observed that it had a "small pop-up LCD screen that you activate with an infrared remote control. Picture a retiree yelling and shaking the remote at 'The Price Is Right'. That'll be you."
Two Minutes Of Hate: Jack Baruth of TTAC has called his rant Two Minutes Hate but I think it needs an 'of'. Jack beats up on a writer for that wiener magazine, Salon, David Sirota, who attempted to make the case that driving a stick shift is, like, less manly. Except that his daily driver is a Saturn - a total chick car.
He's also far too concerned about the environment: "I feel like part of the problem - not just because I'm driving a fossil fuel-dependent vehicle ..." Oh, great. Another devotee of corn-based, 100% ethanol fuels. Instead of filling up, he'd probably be cornholing his own fuel filler.
Then Sirota opined, "The idea is that because a manual transmission requires special attention to operate, it doesn't allow for as much multitasking as an automatic."
Jack Baruth immediately called bullshit: "I drove my 911 to work this morning while eating a biscuit, drinking a soda, and aggressively sexting a number I thought belonged to Derek Kreindler's girlfriend but turned out to be the property of a Cameroonian taxi driver working Yonge Street. (Sorry, Mr. Kony or whatever your name was.) Unless you deliberately fetishize the act to Sirotavian levels, driving a manual requires no 'special attention' at all.
Once in a while you have to reach down there near your genitalia, which may be of any shape you and/or your parents have determined, and move a lever. This guy makes it sound like it takes the sacrifice of a chicken coupled with precisely back-tracking the end of 'Darling Nikki' on your iPod to change gear. In modern cars, with their endless torque and computerized throttles, you don't even need the right gear in order to progress with traffic."
Yes, there was a time when Real Men drove stick-shifts but, in the day, so did Real Women. Now it doesn't make much difference what kind of transmissions our vehicles have because in 50 years we'll all be chicks.
Next rant topic: power brakes are for feebs, wimps and cripples.
Movin' That Shiny Sheet Metal: Half of the anemic 2.2% economic growth in the first quarter came from new car sales. Why? Well, I'd say it's because people had been holding to their old iron for so long that they just had to replace them. Very low scrappage rates over the last four years backs up my guess.
Furthermore, used car prices have risen so greatly over the past year that there are few deals available on pre-owned vehicles. Analysts expect new vehicle sales to top 14 million units this year, the best in four years but still below the 15-17 million number that automakers used to experience during truly good times.
Fleecebook: The price of Facebook shares has tanked, following its much-reported initial public offering. Barry Ritholz provided a great deal of background about the company which he described as "a wildly overvalued momentary internet phenomena led by an arrogant 28 year old man-child, decided to treat the process of going public with the same respect they do their users' privacy, which is to say, with none at all. So they went public more or less unlawfully over the past two years, allowing 1,000s (or more) outside investors to acquire substantial stakes via secondary markets from their employees and early investors."
Initially offered at $38, the stock closed yesterday at $31.96. Maybe they should have called it Faceplant.
Besides, who needs Facebook anymore? A new social network is about to alter the playing field of the social media world - it's called PhoneBook.
"With PhoneBook, you have a book that has a list of all your friends in the city, plus everyone else who lives there," said Danny Fruber, one of PhoneBook's creators. "When you want to chat with a friend, you look them up in PhoneBook and find their unique PhoneBook number. Then you enter that number into your phone and it connects you directly to them."
Another breakout utility of PhoneBook allows the user to arrange face-to-face meetings with his or her friends at restaurants, bars, and other "places," as Fruber calls them. "You will be sitting right across from your friend and seeing them in 3-D. It's like Skype, only without the headset."
Oh Yeah! Frank J. Fleming has written, "The great thing about working in New Jersey government is that, on hot days, the governor busts through the wall with a pitcher of Kool Aid."
Obama Will Probably Try To Blame Bush ... or Romney for this: Hewlett-Packard plans to lay off 27,000 employees. But ... but ... but I thought Bernanke said the recession was over?
Doot Doot Do-Do Do-Do Doot Doot Do Do: If the mainstream media were in the tank for Romney instead of Obama, they'd play circus music in the background every time Joe Biden opened his mouth in front of a tv camera.
Financial Crisis Solved With Lumber: Greece has apologized to the European Union for its spendthrift ways and, to show its remorse, has presented the European Union with an enormous wooden horse, stamped with 'Made in Troy'.
An attached note suggested that the large object be rolled into the EU's bank vault in Brussels for safekeeping.
Bad Pun of the Day: Buffalo, NY became a city in 1832. In 2032, when the city is 200 years old, the Buffalo will celebrate its Bison-tennial.
Tuesday May 22, 2012
McCahill Remembered: I've profiled numerous people in the past but how could I have forgotten to write about Tom McCahill?
McCahill was best known as he man who tested cars for Mechanix Illustrated magazine. Everybody called him Uncle Tom or Unk - probably because he was the kind of uncle everybody wished for. He was a no-nonsense guy who loved cars, dogs, driving fast and imbibing a couple of scotches at the end of the day.
Born in 1907, Thomas Jay McCahill III was the grandson of a wealthy attorney in Larchmont, NY. His father was manager of the local Mercedes branch, so Tom was exposed to interesting cars early in life. At age 14, he was given an old Winton tourer. After rebuilding the car, he promptly crashed into a tree.
McCahill graduated from Yale University with a degree in fine arts. He became a salesman for Marmon automobiles and, in the mid-1930s, operated dealerships in Manhattan and Palm Beach, featuring Rolls Royce and other luxury cars. The depression and his father's alcoholism wiped out his family's fortune and his automobile shops.
Tom then took up freelance writing, turning out fiction and articles for Yachting, Popular Science and Reader's Digest before deciding to concentrate on automotive journalism.
The first published road test in America was ... (more >>>)
You Want Fries With That? 40% of recent college graduates are working in jobs that did not require a four-year degree.
"Three in four were able to find at least one full-time job since graduation. But at the time of the survey in April, only 51% were working full time, 20% were attending graduate or professional school and 12% were either unemployed or employed part-time and looking for full-time work. ... More than one in four are living with their parents or family members to save money and significant numbers of recent college graduates are delaying major purchases, putting off their graduate education, taking extra jobs to supplement their income and even delaying marriage."
Nano-Snickers: Mars Inc., the manufacturer of Milky Way, Snickers, Three Musketeers, Twix, Bounty and M&Ms, is phasing out chocolate products that exceed 250 calories per portion as part of an agreement with Partnership for a Healthier America. Founded in 2010 in conjunction with the Let's Move! program, First Lady Michelle Obama's government initiative is aimed at shaping up the nation's youth. And taking all the fun out of candy.
This raises three questions:
The fact is, candy consumption may make you live longer. Consider this: If I calculate the lifespans of parents, grandparents and blood aunts & uncles, the median age of their deaths is 59. Sixteen people - all of them died from natural causes. Based on genetics, I should've croaked 10 years ago.
I attribute my relative longevity to M&M's Peanuts, which were introduced in 1954 - too late to help ancestors who came before me but, apparently, sweet health food for me.
Win Dinner With Obama And A Horse: I loved the headline, story and photos at IOwnTheWorld.
Quote Of The Day is from Steven Wright: "Officer, I know I was going faster than 55 mph but I wasn't going to be on the road an hour."
Monday May 21, 2012
Helping Our Balance Of Trade: In this week's episode, Dennis Gage's 'My Classic Car' visited the Nostalgia Festival in Ronneby, Sweden. There were over 1,000 old cars on display, including a surprising amount of 1950s American iron.
Göran Ambell, senior editor of Nostalgia magazine, told Dennis that Swedish auto enthusiasts import 5-6,000 old cars from the U.S. each year. (permalink)
And Then There Was One: Robin Gibb, the geeky-looking Bee Gee, has died at age 62 of colon and liver cancer. RIP
Headline Of The Week ... so far, is from The People's Cube: 'In attempt to recover $2 billion loss, JP Morgan Chase renames itself Chasebook.'
Back To The Fifties: James Lileks' latest full-color Bleat header is waaay cool. It really appealed to this old car guy. (That's 'old' in the sense of both the age of the vehicles and my age.)
I see a '57 DeSoto sedan with a low-number license plate, indicating either a politician's car (mayor, governor, congressperson) or a vanity plate. Next to it is a '56 Chevy. Opposite is a '56 Buick four-door hardtop. The car nearest the windows is either a Rolls Royce Silver Cloud or its Bentley S1 clone. It's probably a Rolls which outsold Bentley in America by many furlongs in those days. But even a Rolls was a rare sight in 1950s America which makes the photo particularly unusual.
Given the palm tree, the white brick, white awnings and the license plates from several states, I guessed that it was Florida in the winter. James confirmed that it was from an old motel postcard from The Sunshine State. (permalink)
Speaking Of Old Cars ... the sun finally came out on yesterday afternoon, so I fired up the Plymouth coupe and took a little drive under partly sunny skies. The weather has cooled off - it was only 60 degrees at 1:00 pm.
Another Dream Shattered: When I first saw photos of the Alfa Romeo Montreal in a car buff mag many years ago, I thought, "Wow - a V8 Alfa. What a good-looking car. I'd like to have one of those."
Now, Michael Lamm has disabused me of this notion. Of the 80 autos he's owned over 50-plus years, he calls the Montreal his "least-favorite car."
"Awful Romeo, I called it. Some cars, like puppies, want to do the right thing: They're friendly, frisky and tail-waggingly anxious to please. To me, the Montreal was more like an intemperate ferret: aggressive, aggravating, high-strung, complicated and hard to live with."
Furthermore, it was a pricey machine. When new, the Montreal was more expensive to buy than either a Jaguar XKE or Porsche 911.
Ka-Boom! Thirty-two years ago, Mount St. Helens erupted, causing a massive debris avalanche. It reduced the elevation of the mountain's summit from 9,677 feet to 8,365 feet and replaced it with a mile-wide horseshoe-shaped crater.
The 5.1 magnitude earthquake uncorked a gas-charged reservoir of magma that leveled 230 square miles, killed 57 people and triggered the largest landslide in history. The explosion equaled the force of a 20-megaton bomb.
I see the mountain almost every day, since I live a mere 35 miles away as the ash flies. I had never really noticed St. Helens on my drives up and down I-5 until it blew its top. The devastation was impossible to imagine. Trees were knocked over like toothpicks. There was ash everywhere. Gray 'snow' on the ground.
I had an incredible view of the eruption, since I was staying at a motel overlooking the Columbia Gorge in Hood River, Oregon. I was provided a ringside seat - a north-facing room with a large picture window.
Always smaller than its siblings, Hood and Rainier, St. Helens is now a snow-capped pimple, lacking the dramatic craggy peaks of its neighbors. The public has lost interest; nobody's buying Genuine Ash Ceramic Souvenirs anymore.
I have a very clear view of the mountain from the end of my street. (I can't see it from my front door - too many tall cedar trees in the way.) Ash from the 1980 eruption remains on my property. And since the mountain is so close, I am mindful of its power. And horrific potential.
These days, Mount St. Helens is quiet but it lets off an occasional puff of steam just to let everyone know it's still there.
PS: I've posted more about the 1980 eruption here.
It's Not Easy Being Green: President Obama's "investments" in green energy are turning out to be disastrous.
House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) has said, "It is becoming increasingly clear that Solyndra was just the tip of the iceberg in a sea of taxpayer risk."
"Alternative energy certainly has a place in our economy and we hope that all of these companies succeed. But the best way to get cheap energy to American consumers is to let market forces work, not allow bureaucrats in Washington to pick winners and losers through a politicized process."
As to the 'greenness' of these holier-than-thou taxpayer-subsidized companies, California Rep. Darrell Issa asked First Solar chairman of the board Mike Ahearn, "What kind of jet did you fly in on?" Ahearn replies that it was a Bombardier Challenger 300 private jet. "Is that really environmentally sensitive?" Issa asked.
First Solar has received $3.1 billion in Department of Energy loan guarantees, based on the premise that the company would grow and create new jobs in America. But the chairman admitted that his taxpayer-backed company has created more jobs overseas than it has within the United States. "In sheer numbers ... most of our full-time workers are outside the U.S.," Ahearn admitted.
She Worked Hard For The Money: Disco queen Donna Summer has died of cancer at age 63.
She was a five-time Grammy winner whose hits dominated the charts in the 1970s and early '80s with songs like 'Last Dance', 'Love To Love You, Baby', 'Bad Girls', 'On the Radio' and 'Hot Stuff'. RIP.
Some Things Are Self-Taught: On a recent Food Network show, well-known cooking show host Paula Deen declared that she was "the only mother that taught my 14-year-old boys to rub their meat."
I would think that, by that age, they would have already figured it out for themselves. (hat tip: American Digest)
Question Of The Day: Why is it that when I press '1' for English, I still can't understand the person who answers?
Thursday May 17, 2012
Micro-Failure: Hemmings has posted photos from the 1958 Imported Car Show in Los Angeles.
The pix are in black and white but the cars were memorably cool and I especially enjoyed seeing pinup Melody Ward's comely legs in the Zündapp Janus. More revealing NSFW photos of Melody can be found here.
The Janus never caught on in America or anywhere else. Only 114 inches long, riding on a 72 inch wheelbase, the little 937-pound car was powered by a mid-mounted 2-stroke one-cylinder, 14 horsepower engine running through a four-speed tranny. The Zündapp microcar had a top speed of only 50 mph.
Production began in June 1957 at the Nürnberg, Germany plant, but after selling less than 7,000 little vehicles in a year, Zündapp abandoned the Janus project, sold the factory to Bosch and concentrated its efforts on its more successful Zündapp motorcycle line.
At last year's Monterey weekend, Gooding auctioned a pale blue Janus for $22,000. (permalink)
Rats Vs. Frat Boys: Yes, it sounds like a good name for a B-movie but Frank J. Fleming has tied the two disparate groups together as he weighed in on the student loan crisis.
"Student loans top both credit card and auto loan debt, and student loan debt is all held by an increasingly worthless group: college graduates. We give $100,000 loans to teenagers - people you normally wouldn't trust with $100 loans - and then they party for four years while majoring in art history and graduate to join an Occupy Wall Street protest to complain about all the debt they have and can't pay back. If the goal is to create annoying, useless hippies, I'm pretty sure it can be done for much cheaper. This student loan nonsense has to end."
And: " ... just look at how few people can get jobs right out of college these days. Rats trained to pull levers to get food pellets have more useful skills than most of today's college grads. And the cost of training rats doesn't grow faster than inflation."
I told ya before that this whole education bubble is about to burst.
Who Says Congress Can't Agree On Anything? President Obama's budget suffered a second embarrassing defeat yesterday, when senators voted 99-0 to reject it.
Coupled with the House's rejection in March, 414-0, that means Barry O's budget has failed to win a single vote in Congressional support this year.
Tip of the Day: Alcohol and calculus don't mix; so don't drink and derive.
Wednesday May 16, 2012
August Travels: On Monday, the temperature was 70 degrees at 9:30 am (it eventually reached 90) with sunny blue skies, so I decided that a Plymouth drive was in order.
I headed to Hockinson, a small town east of here. It was very pleasant; I had the coupe's windows down to bring in that wonderful country air.
May is usually a mix of sunny days and rainy ones with temperatures in the 60s. Last year, we didn't turn on our sprinkler system until July.
Ninety degree days usually don't become a regular event until August. But I'm not complaining. We've had sunshine for almost two weeks now - a welcome weather event.
Most folks don't realize how far north the Pacific Northwest is. Where I live is further north than Bangor Maine, Halifax Nova Scotia or Vladivostok in Russia.
Roots Of Luxury: Jack Baruth at TTAC has penned a convincing article urging Cadillac return to its roots with fins and V8 engines. I agree.
On the soon-to-be-introduced little, four-cylinder Cadillac ATS, Jack wrote dismissively: "Aren't you ashamed of yourselves? Do you really think anybody wants this car? Do you really think anybody is willing to pay more for it than they would for an equivalently-powered BMW? Is this vehicle exemplary and desirable? The answer to these questions: Of course not. This car, along with every other vehicle you sell, should be summarily discontinued and replaced with actual Cadillacs. You'd be better off buying the tooling for the 2003 LS430, welding fins on said LS430, and selling that. It would be closer to the idea of “Cadillac” than anything you have now."
Cadillac's decline has been sad to witness. Sixty years ago, Lincoln and Cadillac defined luxury automobiles in America.
In the old days, Cadillac really lived up to its slogan, 'Standard of the World'. If you look at period newsreel footage, you'll see potentates, dictators, popes, celebrities and gangsters being ferried about in shiny black Caddys. Pope Pius XII had several Cadillacs (prewar and postwar), including a Derham-bodied model with a throne in the back seat that could be elevated.
Then there were those Caddy "harem cars" made for the Middle East:
When growing up, I lusted after Cadillacs. Caddys of the 1950s were ... (more >>>)
Anybody Surprised By This? The Wall Street Journal has reported that General Motors will stop buying ads on Facebook because they're ineffective. GM had been spending $10 million on paid Facebook advertising.
I believe that Facebook is the CB radio of this century and will eventually suffer a similar fate once people tire of it. Which will probably be sooner rather than later. Back atcha, good buddy. That's a big 10-4.
Book Review: 'Thinking Fast and Slow' by Daniel Kahneman
A Nobel prize-winner writes a book. It receives glowing accolades by reviewers. One wrote that the author "takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. ... Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking."
The book claims to improve decision skills by showing how the mind works.
All of this sounded good to me. Until ... (more >>>)
Another Music Great Gone: Donald 'Duck' Dunn, American bass guitarist, of 'Blues Brothers' (the guy with the pipe and the a sunburst Fender Precision bass) and Booker T & the MGs fame has died at age 70.
Duck was also session bassist at Stax Records and contributed to such classics as 'In the Midnight Hour', 'Hold On I'm Coming' and 'Sitting on the Dock of the Bay'. RIP
Obamanomics At Work: A story in USA Today provided some details. "One out of five families owes more on credit cards, medical bills, student loans and other unsecured debt than they have in savings, according to a new University of Michigan report. And the number of families surveyed at the end of 2011 that have no savings at all increased to 23.4%, compared with 18.5% in 2009."
Frank Stafford, professor of economics at University of Michigan Institute for Social Research and co-author of the report said, "The people who were down and out, without much money, in the recession have ended up staying there or even worse."
The Obama Campaign ... summed up in one photo. Anybody else remember the 1996 Simpsons episode when space aliens Kang and Kodos ran for president?
In his campaign speech, Kang said, "My fellow Americans. As a young boy, I dreamed of being a baseball; but tonight I say, we must move forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!"
Now you know where that Obama 'Forward' slogan came from.
Headline Of The Week is from the Rumsford Meteor: 'Mitt Romney Killed The Dinosaurs By Strapping Them To The Roof Of His Car.'
But he probably got great gas mileage from the tailwind created by dinosaur flatulence.
Headline Of The Week II is from The People's Cube: 'White House news briefing cut short after Jay Carney's pants spontaneously self-combust.'
Quote Of The Day is from Jacques Barzun: "Political correctness does not legislate tolerance; it only organizes hatred."
Monday May 14, 2012
Happy Birthday: This blog is now eight years old. The View Through The Windshield debuted without fanfare on May 13, 2004. (You can view the first month of posts here.)
We celebrated our daughter's wedding, I traveled to my 50th high school reunion and was the subject of a profile published in the Northeast Times, a Philadelphia weekly newspaper.
I purchased a new propane-powered grill and Kim Kardashian got married just long enough for all the wedding checks to clear.
During the year, I began posting a series called 'AutoBiography: Cars In My Life'. I expect to continue it this Fall and write the concluding chapter within the next year.
Back in 2008, I wrote one book review. Last year, I did 20 of them. I've posted 11 so far in 2012.
In the past year, I've scanned a lot of my old photos of cars and locomotives and posted them on this website. You'll find a list here.
I've also added substantially to the recently renamed AutoSketch section. I have now posted over 40 pen and ink sketches of automobiles on my website.
While traffic to site is down by 7% over last year, traffic to the main blog page has decreased by 10%, although the blog remains by far the most visited part of my website. I've done a bit of research and have found that many blogs are experiencing traffic declines. People are spending more of their time on Facebook or reading Tweets to the detriment of blogs. (Facebook now has more than 900 million active users worldwide.) Over the past year, several blogs have gone inactive; others contain noticeably fewer posts than in prior years.
Since I don't sell ads, traffic changes have no impact on my life. I've never blogged for money and I have no intention of making The View Through The Windshield a commercial venture. It is strictly a one-man voluntary operation; I don't have co-writers or a comments section. This blog is my journal, not a collaborative or a community forum. And that's how it's going to stay.
There are no plans to expand my online presence. No Twitter, Facebook, RSS feeds or podcasts - too much of a pain in the ass, in my opinion. I do not want 'Facebook friends'. If you want to be a real friend, fly out here and buy me some drinks.
It's always gratifying when readers compliment me about something I wrote. While I'm a mere loose thread in the mighty woven warp and woof of the web, my micro-fiber blog will continue to cling to the fabric of the internet for the moment.
In the meantime, here's to the beginning of another year: Cheers!
Quote Of The Day is from Thomas Sowell: "Many of the same people who claim that mental tests are not valid for college admissions decisions, or for employment decisions, nevertheless consider these tests valid for deciding that a murderer cannot be executed when he scores low on such tests - even though he has no incentive to score high."
Sunday May 13, 2012
Happy Mother's Day to all moms wherever they may be (especially my mom):
Friday May 11, 2012
Cruisin': It was only 59 degrees at 1:00 pm yesterday but the sun was out and the skies were blue, so I hopped in the Plymouth and took a nice ride on county back roads.
At The Movies: One of son's films, 'Twisted Fates', will be screened at Crypticon 2012 (the Pacific Northwest's largest horror convention) on May 27th in Seattle.
Thanks To Medical Advances In Facial Surgery ... Nancy Pelosi can say with a straight face that her Catholic faith "compels" her to "be against discrimination of any kind" and thus for same-sex marriage.
Snarlin' Snake: Carroll Hall Shelby, the Texas race car driver who created the legendary Shelby Cobra and other performance machines and turned his own name into a powerful brand has died at age 89.
No one can deny the impact of the Shelby Cobra on Detroit iron. At a minimum, it inspired automakers to turn their ponycars into musclecars with special-editions featuring high-performance options. But some of Carroll Shelby's later ventures were less than stellar. In later years, he would slap his name on almost anything from Saab wheels to those hideous '80s Dodge K-Car variants.
Shelby also loved to sue people - even his own fan club. His 1990s "resurrected" Cobras based on newly-found Cobra frames with original VINs were found to be fake. Then there were the folks who lost their deposits on the mega-hyped, failed Shelby American Series 1. As well as Shelby licensing his name to Unique Performance - a firm which scammed customers and failed to deliver product.
His charity for children was, at best, mismanaged, doling out only small amounts of what it took in. But his lasting legacy will be the original, rip-snortin', timeless Cobra. RIP (permalink)
Bad Pun Of The Day: Deja Moo is the feeling that you've heard this bull before.
Thursday May 10, 2012
Vehicle Sighting: Last weekend, my son and grandson got a look at the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile in Albany, Oregon. Hot dog!
My first sighting of a Wienermobile was in the early '50s when one drove slowly down my street in Northeast Philadelphia. I remember that it had the same taillights as my aunt's 1949 Chevrolet.
I saw an example of that early postwar version on display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan during a visit in 1995. It had more squared-off rear fenders and plain round taillights but the front seemed identical to the one I spotted as a kid. I was in Michigan for Lincoln's 75th Anniversary celebration and to road test a Lincoln Mark VIII.
The first Wienermobile was created in 1936 by Oscar's nephew, Carl G. Mayer. Currently, there are eight active Wienermobiles criss-crossing the U.S. (permalink)
Washin' Cars: In March, I wrote about the joy of feeling well enough to wash automobiles again. I'm pleased to report that I continue to enjoy good health these days.
I gave my Lexus a good cleaning on Sunday. On Monday, I tackled my wife's Toyota Avalon.
Both cars now sparkle and the weather forecasts are predicting sunshine for the next several days.
Unemployment Factoids: Here are some things about the unemployed which may surprise you:
So Wrong: Georgetown University has announced that Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, pro-choice "Catholic" and lead architect of the Obama administration's assault on religious freedom, has been invited to speak at one of Georgetown's several commencement ceremonies.
The nation's oldest Catholic and Jesuit university has chosen to honor Sebelius by granting her a prestigious platform at its Public Policy Institute commencement ceremony, despite her role in the odious healthcare mandate "that will force Catholic institutions to pay for contraception, abortifacients and sterilization against their religious beliefs."
Our Unvetted President: Canadian Kathy Shaidle has written: "If anyone wonders why 'birther'/'Kenyan Candidate' stuff ever gained traction, it's stuff like this:
Congratulations, America: You put Marsha Brady in the White House!"
A Message From Your Metrosexual-In-Chief: After much wishy-washy tactical avoidance, President Obama took a position on gay marriage yesterday. And it wasn't the missionary position. He said, "For me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married." So, there you go. Three personal pronouns in one sentence - what an egomaniac.
Nevertheless, it's a nice little billet doux to his homosexual voter pals, who have been withholding campaign contributions of late. In fact, they've been clenching their closed checkbooks tighter than an adolescent choir boy's ass at a recital on Fire Island.
Gerard Van der Leun has observed, "Given the fact that Obama is the gayest straight man ever to hold the office of the president, I fail to see what the problem is in his coming out of the closet on a rocket." Not that there's anything wrong with that.
While many of us ... (more >>>)
Bad Pun Of The Day: A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.
Tuesday May 8, 2012
Micra With A Touch Of Curry: The Nissan Micra is a sub-subcompact car which is not imported to the U.S. but is popular in Europe.
In 1995, during a trip to Great Britain (including a pilgrimage to the famous, must-see Beaulieu Motoring Museum), we rented a white Nissan Micra. It was a pleasant little car but was incredibly small. Inside - tight quarters. I felt that the car and I were one - like wearing a suit of armor. (And it was probably about as safe as one in any kind of crash ... not very.)
The Micra didn't have a lot of power; it was equipped with a briefcase-sized, one-liter engine, although the 5-speed manual provided surprisingly decent acceleration. Over a two-week period, the eleven-foot long Micra got 56 mpg. The one we drove was made in Nissan's Sunderland plant in the U.K.
Nissan now imports the Micra for Europe from India, where labor costs and parts costs are significantly lower than in Europe sufficient to more than compensate for the EU tariff and shipping costs. (permalink)
Monday Errands: Yesterday was gorgeous (sunny and 65 degrees at 10:00 am), so I selected the '39 Plymouth as my tasking transport. The old coupe ran smoothly and I had a most pleasant drive.
"And All The Stars ... that never were are parkin' cars and pumpin' gas." President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are hosting a concert honoring songwriters Burt Bacharach and Hall David. The Obamas will present Bacharach and David the 2012 Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.
Maybe it should be the Gershwin Prize for Vacuous Lyrics. The best send up on BB ever done was in a 1973 Albert Brooks comedy album. In a segment titled 'Rewriting The National Anthem', Brooks said that people wouldn't want Burt Bacharach to compose it because his anthem would begin: "Hey. Know a place. It's got trees. It's got mountains ..."
Shades Of 1984: Last week, the Obama campaign unveiled The Life of Julia, a slide show that purports to illustrate how the Obama administration "helps" a woman named Julia from cradle to grave, at each stage of her life.
It begins with Julia as a preschooler participating in the useless Head Start program. After 50 years of existence (thank you LBJ and your atrocious Great Society monster), the $7 billion-per-year Head Start program has done nothing for the children it was supposed to help.
As an adult, Julia apparently never married. She simply "decided" to have a baby. Obama provided Other People's Money (hint: taxpayers') to help her take care of it.
Julia needed an SBA loan to start her web design business. What's up with that? Most people with any brains can start such a low capital investment business without a loan of any kind. And SBA loans - direct or bank-guaranteed - are typically not available to tiny one-person start-ups that have negligible business assets.
Julia's story ends at age 67 when she apparently dies, either as a result of eating a lifetime of government cheese or is dispatched at a death panel-approved Kathleen Sebelius Euthanasia Center (or some Orwellian variant thereof), so that she won't be a continuing drain on the State.
House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan has described the Julia story as "creepy" and "demeaning."
Interesting Factoid: Barack Obama officially launched his 2012 re-election campaign on Karl Marx's birthday, May 5th.
Word Play: Boffins, strumpets, puffins, muppets - all sound like things you might have for breakfast.
Quote Of The Day is from Michael Caine: "Be like a duck. Remain calm on the surface and paddle like hell underneath."
Friday May 4, 2012
I Guess We'll Learn A Lot About ... back seat comfort and whether shoulder belt retainers make good ankle stirrups. The Truth About Cars got disinvited from a Dodge Dart press event and test drive so that Chrysler could make room for a female sex blogger.
In case you were wondering, I was never invited in the first place.
The Good Old Days: Gregory Sullivan has written, "Before emissions inspections, they just checked to see if you were sitting on milk crates to drive, made sure the horn worked, that the tires didn't have inner tube showing, and that your ball joints weren't dodecahedrons."
Missed Appointment: Jim Nabors of Gomer Pyle fame, who usually croons 'Back Home Again In Indiana' at the Indy 500, will miss this year's race.
The 81-year-old actor and singer can't make the trip from his Maui home to Indianapolis due to scheduled heart surgery.
Nabors has performed the song before every Indy 500 since 1987 except for the 2007 race, which he also missed for health reasons. Nabors also sang before the 1972-1978 races and two additional times in the 1980s.
Aaaarrrrrgh! One of the world's most recognizable paintings, Norwegian artist Edvard Munch's 'The Scream', has sold at auction for a record $119,922,500 at Sotheby's in New York.
Scary Number: The net present value of the unfunded liabilities at Social Security is now a staggering $20.5 trillion. More frightening stuff here.
Campaigner-In-Chief: Liberal columnist Dana Milbank is no longer being fooled by Barack Obama. "To a greater extent than his predecessors, Obama has used the trappings of his office to promote his re-election prospects even while handling taxpayer-funded business.
According to ... 'The Rise of the President's Permanent Campaign', by Naval Academy political scientist Brendan Doherty, Obama was the first president in at least 32 years to visit all of the battleground states during his first year in office. He has kept that pace, devoting nearly half of his travel to 15 swing states that account for just over a third of the population."
Bad Pun of the Day: Sign in an Egyptian funeral parlor: "Satisfaction guaranteed or your mummy back."
Wednesday May 2, 2012
April Auto Sales: The seasonally adjusted annual rate was 14.4 million vehicles for last month, up 10% from April of last year.
Chrysler sales increased 20%. 3,849 Fiat 500s were sold in April, compared with 5,731 BMW Minis.
Ford Motor Co. was down 5% overall, with Lincoln sales down 13% - the entry-level MKZ fell 27% to 1,863 units sold. This sounds bad until you realize that Cadillac sales declined by 25% during the same period.
General Motors was down 8% overall. What makes the GM story even worse it that the company's incentives are about $1,000 more per vehicle than either FoMoCo's or Chrysler's.
Toyota sales were up 12%; Lexus sales were flat. Toyota Avalon sales increased 8% to 2,881 units. 438 Lexus LS sedans were sold in April - a drop of 44%. Prius sales jumped 102%.
VW sales increased 27%, while Volvo was down 24%. Hyundai Group USA was up a mere 1%. American Honda was down 2%.
Book Review: 'Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever' by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
I've mentioned before that, when I read books such as this, I realize how little history I know. I do remember reading Jim Bishop's 'The Day Lincoln Was Shot' (originally published in 1955) when I was in high school. That book pales in comparison; it lacks the detail and the sheer can't-put-it-down excitement that 'Killing Lincoln' offers.
Authors O'Reilly and Dugard ... (more >>>)
Headline Of The Week ... so far, is courtesy of Kathy Shaidle: 'Robin Williams transformed into Charles Manson so gradually I barely noticed.'
I Didn't Know That Afghanistan Was A Key Swing-State: Barry O. interrupted his golf dates, vacations, 132 fundraisers, 'Blame Bush' interviews and campaign trips to Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Indiana and Pennsylvania to fly to Kabul and hype the one-year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Watch for videos and still photos of this event in upcoming reelection commercials and donor solicitations.
He also did a photo op with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who is expected to endorse him and possibly campaign with him in Muslim sections of U.S. cities. Karzai is rumored to be swapping his Afghan soda-jerk hat for a cap with 'Obama 2012: Forward' embroidered on it.
It should be noted ... (more >>>)
Factoid: Amazon rings up an estimated 20% of all U.S. online retail sales, making it the country's largest online retailer.
Joke Of The Day: A Polish immigrant went to the DMV to apply for a driver's license. First, he had to take an eyesight test. The optician showed him a card with the letters: 'C Z W I X N O S T A C Z.'
"Can you read this?" the optician asked.
The man replied, "Hey, I know that guy!"
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