A Blog About Cars ... And Everything Else That Catches My Eye
Friday June 29, 2012
Autosketch: 1954 Corvette
When people talk or write about the early Chevrolet Corvette, they usually refer to the 1953 model. The fact is that 1953 production was almost nonexistent as far as the general public was concerned.
The Chevrolet Corvette debuted as a one-off concept car at the 1953 GM Motorama, which kicked-off in February in New York City. There was such great interest in the little roadster that Chevrolet decided to put it into production. After a lot of last-minute rushing, the first Corvette rolled off a makeshift assembly line in Flint, Michigan on the very last day of June 1953.
Only 300 1953 models were made - all were finished ... (more >>>)
Sometimes I Feel Like Noah: A friend recently sent me a joke; the gist of it was that when the Bible reported "the rain fell upon the earth for forty days and forty nights," it was referring to June in the Pacific Northwest. True dat.
But Wednesday was bright, sunny with only a few little Warner Bros. cartoon clouds, so I took advantage of the blues skies and took the Plymouth for a run to Hockinson and back. Nice drive.
Heavy clouds and moisture returned Thursday. I can't wait for July and August to kick in.
Intended Consequences: Everyone who thinks the recent 'It's Not Amnesty, We All Know But It Is' Immigration Proclamation by Barack Obama is 'fair', should remember that "4.6 million individuals world-wide who have been approved to be sponsored for green cards by U.S. citizens, current green card holders, and U.S. employers through the established legal immigration process will now have to step aside for a while in order for USCIS to process the deferred action applications of people hoping to qualify under the Obama administration's Dream Scheme."
"The vast majority of these are relatives of U.S. citizens, many of whom have been waiting for several years for their opportunity to immigrate legally."
So, once again, people who Do The Right Thing get screwed while others get to jump the line in order to satisfy whiny liberal sentiments.
I am convinced that 98% of these lefty 'we-gotta-help-people' ideas should be brutally tossed from the roof a thirty-five story building onto a rusty, urine-encrusted, loosey-goosey exposed box spring in the alley of results-based, practical experience.
Barry O. Must Go: If you don't like Obamacare (now defined by the Supreme Court as a health care 'tax'), there is only one way to get rid of it. Three words: Vote in November.
I Hate The Oregonian More Than Doonesbury: Cartoonist Garry Trudeau is nothing but a rich socialist who knows how to draw. Many of his 'comic' strips are blatant lefty political statements.
I accept that Trudeau is über-liberal. I accept that fewer and fewer items in the 'funny pages' are actually funny. What I don't accept is that this liberal newspaper would put political cartoons in the comics section rather than on the editorial page where they rightfully belong.
Maybe it's because ... (more >>>)
Casualties Of The War Against Business: The number of U.S. businesses with paid employees fell for a third straight year in 2010. U.S. businesses numbered 7.4 million in 2010, down by 36,800 from the previous year.
Quote Of The Day is from the late Will Rogers: "Everything is funny, as long as it's happening to somebody else."
Wednesday June 27, 2012
Best-Looking American Production Cars: Beauty is, of course, in the eye of the beholder. That qualification aside, I hereby announce my choices for the ten best-looking American production (no concepts, no one-offs, no customs) cars (no trucks or SUVs) ever manufactured ... (more >>>)
Book Review: 'The Amateur: Barack Obama in the White House' by Edward Klein
The prologue of this book opens with the Clintons. Klein began with these opening words, "Bill and Hillary were going at it again, fighting tooth and nail over their favorite subject: themselves." Bill Clinton was so disgusted with Obama that he wanted Hillary to challenge him in the 2012 Democratic primary.' Clinton referred to the sitting president as 'amateur' - hence, the title of Klein's book.
Klein is no conservative icon - his resume included contributing editor to Vanity Fair, former foreign editor of Newsweek, and former editor-in-chief of the New York Times Magazine, mostly liberal publications. Nevertheless, his book tears apart the carefully-crafted faux image of Barack Hussein Obama and reveals the shallow, seedy, phony interior of the man.
Edward Klein reveals never-before-published unflattering details about the Obama administration's political inner workings, as well as Barack and Michelle's personal lives .... (more >>>)
And Gays Wonder Why People Hate Them: Last week, President Barack Obama invited prominent homosexual guests to celebrate the White House's first-ever gay pride reception.
They showed their own despicable nature taking photos of themselves beside the late President Ronald Reagan's portrait while giving him finger. And posting the disgraceful images online.
And then there's this: "Police say they arrested 66-year-old Larry Brinkin, the high-profile gay activist, on possession of child pornography on Friday night. Brinkin, a community icon who led the fight for the city to recognize same-sex partnerships, was arrested and booked into San Francisco County Jail."
"Brinkin retired from the Human Rights Commission in 2010 and has been a beloved member of the gay community, with the Board of Supervisors even declaring the first week of February as 'Larry Brinkin Week'." The child pornography involved toddlers, not teens.
Of course, Brinkin lives in San Francisco which is code for either Sodom or Gomorrah. While I'm not sure which one, I'm betting on something not so Gomorrahy but more ... ummmm ... Sodomy.
Our Long National Nightmare Is Almost Over: Angular, manly mistress Rielle Hunter and disgraced pretty-boy ex-senator John Edwards are no longer a couple.
Now all we have to do is get rid of the Kardashians. Just as TBS seems to have become The Shawshank Redemption Network, E! has become The Kardashian Network.
SNL Memories: Paul McCartney turned 70 last week. I wish Chris Farley was still around to interview him again.
Quote Of The Day is from Somerset Maugham: "If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom and the irony of it is that, if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that too."
Monday June 25, 2012
Goin' Topless: I went to lunch at Julie's Cottage Kitchen with my friend Steve last week. He drove in his Mercedes CLK550 'Grand Edition' convertible with the top down. It was a gorgeous, sunny day and it was fun to ride in a convertible. I don't think I've done that since renting a Mustang in Florida 20 or so years ago.
Separated At Birth? Is it just me or does this thing look like one of the robots on 'Futurama'? (permalink)
Life, Death & Resurrection: One of the nation's early jewelers, Bailey Banks and Biddle, garnered a reputation for high quality merchandise and properly-obsequious customer service - traits which kept the firm in business for over a century and a half and obtained many famous and loyal customers.
Originally known as Bailey & Kitchen, the firm was founded in Philadelphia in 1832. It become Bailey & Co. in 1841, and Bailey Banks & Biddle in 1878. The jeweler had been located on historic Chestnut Street ever since its founding in 1832, when Joseph T. Bailey opened his silversmith emporium with a mere $28 of product on hand.
After the Civil War, son Joseph T. Bailey II began to travel abroad in search of rare and beautiful objects inventory. He crossed the Atlantic 140 times by steamship on buying trips.
In 1868 ... (more >>>)
Here's An Extra Pre-Twisted Bedsheet For Ya: Convicted child molester and former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky has been placed on suicide watch. Why? If he offs himself, it will save the prison (and taxpayers) money.
I'm also against wasting alcohol to clean those lethal injection needles.
A Horse Is A Horse, Of Course, Of Course: Ann Romney's horse Rafalca appears headed to the dressage competition at the 2012 London Olympics. It won a spot on the Olympic dressage team, along with trainer Jan Ebeling. What an fine accomplishment; Ann deserves our respect and good wishes.
But that doesn't mean that everyone feels this way. Last week, MSNBC's lefty-stooge bozo, Lawrence O'Donnell, hit a new low when he shamefully mocked Ann Romney for riding horses to combat her multiple sclerosis. In case you don't know what O'Donnell looks like, just check out the listing for 'douche bag' in Webster's Dictionary. His picture is right next to the description.
Fox News' Neil Cavuto, a fellow MS sufferer, responded to all the insensitive anchors and commentators at MSNBC that have participated in this attack on Mrs. Romney, calling them "horses' asses." Good for him. I have much respect for Neil, having watched him since he was a reporter on the PBS 'Nightly Business Report' with the jovial Paul Kangas.
Cavuto noted, "Ann Romney deals with her MS riding horses. Its called hippotherapy, some call it dressage, but at its core for MS patients, it refers to the use of horseback riding as a treatment for medical conditions namely for treating walking difficulties. Neurologists have long debated whether riding around on horses is a cure for MS, but many firmly believe it helps relieve some of the very real symptoms of MS.
As their industry bible 'Neurology Care' noted last year, and other studies have found that, and I quote here, "… some people treated with riding therapy exhibited improvement in balance, emotional functioning, pain and muscle stiffness." Other studies have pointed to improved mood and walking ability. Still others, more energy.""
Such egregious personal attacks on a candidate's wife and her disability, indicate how rude, classless and insensitive liberals can be (unless it is their own sensitivities which are offended) and how desperate Obama supporters are feeling these days.
Gimme Yo Weddin' Money, Bitch: In related Obama desperation news, here's something posted on BarackObama.com: "Got a birthday, anniversary, or wedding coming up?
Let your friends know how important this election is to you - register with Obama 2012, and ask for a donation in lieu of a gift. Its a great way to support the President on your big day. Plus, it's a gift that we can all appreciate - and goes a lot further than a gravy bowl."
As Homer Simpson would say, "Mmmmmmm. Gravy Bowl."
The Obama Reelection Campaign has stooped to this because they're not getting their usual level of donations. Unions, Wall Street fat cats, gay advocacy groups and Hollywood movers 'n' shakers are keeping their pocketbooks, rainbow purses and money clips closed this time around.
This is a shock to Barack and his buddies who were the beneficiaries of considerable donor largesse in 2008. Obama was able to outspend McCain by fivefold during the last election.
Maybe they should try this approach as well: "Got a friend or loved one who's died? Let his/her relatives know how important this election is to you - make a donation to Obama 2012 in lieu of flowers or a Mass card."
I'm sure they'll appreciate it.
You Know What They Say About Mexicans And Shivs: It just gets better and better. And crazier and crazier, as Planet Obama begins to disintegrate under the blistering heat of its own imbecility. Signs of the incipient implosion are everywhere including a Hispanic meet-up in Florida.
The Secret Service confiscated knives and forks from a Latino conference meal before President Obama made an appearance at a crowd of 1,000 delegates.
National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials board member Raquel Regalado announced, "It's very important that you use your utensils as soon as possible."
"Regalado hurried the diners to finish up their salads and pre-cut chicken breasts, saying that the Secret Service required that there be no knives at the tables and that the forks be rounded-up" before President Spork dared to show his face the room.
Maybe they should have just served finger food, like those cellophane-sleeved, chorizo, egg & cheese burritos you can buy at 7-Eleven.
Boiiiiiiiing! So much for that Arab Spring nonsense. The Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mohamed Morsi, was declared the winner in Egypt's possibly-rigged presidential election, defeating his opponent, who had been prime minister under Hosni Mubarak.
The clueless White House called Morsi's victory a "milestone in the country's transition to democracy." Meanwhile, Morsi proclaimed that Egypt's capital "shall be Jerusalem, Allah willing," indicating that he's got his own Hope & Change agenda.
And not in a good way ... especially if you're Israel.
But ... but ... I thought Barack Hussein Obama was going to use his Inner Muslim cultural heritage to bring peace to the Middle East. Hmmmm. How's that workin' out for ya?
Who else besides me ... (more >>>)
Thought For Today: Long ago when men cursed and beat the ground with sticks, it was called witchcraft. Today, it's called golf.
Thursday June 21, 2012
I Am Not A Studebaker: I just received an e-mail from my high school, St. Joe's Prep, inviting me to the 'Prep at the Shore Day' in Strathmere NJ (between Ocean City and Sea Isle City).
It is for "alums from the class of 1962 or earlier" - described as "Golden Hawks." Apparently it's because the school mascot is now a hawk. In my day, it was a hawklet but I guess that didn't sound grown-up enough. And Geezer Hawklet would be an oxymoron.
I'm not sure I'm happy being referred to as a Golden Hawk. That's a kind of Studebaker - a long-dead brand. I'm not ready to be dead.
The event is in August. Two reasons - it is 2,700 miles away and it will be at the height of the busy, crazy Shore Season - are making me respectfully but resoundingly decline. (permalink)
Sun Run: After a couple of gray, rainy days, the sun popped out yesterday. It was 67 degrees by 11:00 am, so I hopped in the Plymouth and drove to Hockinson and back. Nice ride.
You may have noticed that I'm getting more seat time in the old coupe than last year. It's because I'm feeling much better.
Bad Prediction: "Prices on electric cars will continue to drop until they're within reach of the average family." From the Washington Post, 1915
More bad predictions can be found here.
Book Review: 'American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us' by Robert Putnam and David Campbell
The content of this book is based on two comprehensive religious surveys conducted by the authors. It contains a great deal of information in its almost 700 pages. The problem is that it reads like a doctoral thesis. It is full of statistics which are presented in a dry, often mind-numbing manner.
After the 50th time the authors wrote "in our next chapter ...", I was ready to scream aloud. The book is packed with graphs; many of them are grayscale bar graphs - with four or five shades of gray - that are annoyingly hard to read.
In many cases ... (more >>>)
Find The Racist: Barack Obama and his friends have played the race card more often than Bill Haley played 'Rock Around The Clock'.
Walter E. Williams has written, "Mitt Romney hasn't revealed all of his fall campaign strategy yet, but what if he launched a "White Americans for Romney" movement in an effort to get out the white vote? If the Romney campaign did that, there'd be a media-led outcry across the land, with charges ranging from racial insensitivity to outright racism.
When President Barack Obama announced his 2012 launch of "African Americans for Obama," the silence was deafening. Should the same standards be applied to Obama as would be applied to Romney? The answer turns out to be no, because Obama is not held to the same standards as Romney."
It sure sounds like racism to me but I bet Barry O. considers it Executive Privilege.
Quote of the Day: "Never be afraid to try something new or outside your area of expertise. Remember, amateurs built the ark; professionals built the Titanic."
Tuesday June 19, 2012
Oldie But Goodie: I purchased a cheap-n-cheerful Road Champs 1:43 scale early Chevrolet Corvette diecast model waaay back in May 1998 at an outlet mall in Post Falls ... (more >>>)
Congratulations ... to my grandson, who won the Woody Herman Jazz Award at age 15.
The award was created in 1988, shortly after Herman's death, to honor outstanding jazz students. Next year, my grandson will head to Europe as a part of an Oregon musical group that will perform in eight countries.
Good Comeback: I read this anecdote in 'Bobos In Paradise', a book often referenced by Charles Murray in his most recent book. During the 1950s, many country clubs were still 'restricted' - whites only; no Jews.
When Senator Barry Goldwater attempted to play golf at the Chevy Chase Club, he was told that the club was restricted. He replied, "I'm only half Jewish, so can't I play nine holes?"
Blonde Joke: Two blondes are walking down the street. One notices a compact on the sidewalk and leans down to pick it up. She opens it, looks in the mirror and says, 'Hmm, this person looks familiar.'
The second blonde says, 'Here, let me see!'
So, the first blonde hands her the compact.
The second blonde looks in the mirror and says, 'You dummy, it's me!'
Quote of the Day: I know a guy who's addicted to brake fluid. He says he can stop any time.
Monday June 18, 2012
Saturday Outing: While it would have been nice to take my Plymouth out on Father's Day, rain was forecast. So, on a sunny, warm (73 degrees at 11 am) Saturday morning with a Crayola Sky Blue horizon, I fired up the ol' '39, backed it out of the garage and took a nice backroads drive.
It was so clear that there was a spectacular view of snow-covered Mt. St. Helens to the north.
It's a good thing I took my drive when I did; the rains returned Saturday evening.
Three Word Description: Dan Neil summarized the Scion iQ thusly - "slow, whiny, tiny."
The Last Black Monarch We Had Was The King Of Cartoons ... on 'Pee-wee's Playhouse'. Barack Obama seems to think he's now a sovereign and can override Congress by Imperial Decree. Therefore, a bunch of illegal Mexicans are now his royal subjects. Huh?
What a difference a year makes. In March 2011, Barack Obama said, "With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that's just not the case, because there are laws on the books that Congress has passed ... Congress passes the law. The executive branch's job is to enforce and implement those laws. And then the judiciary has to interpret the laws.
There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply through executive order ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as President."
But last week, King Barry I - in blatant piece of electioneering and a sop to critically-important Latino voters - gave amnesty to a significant number of the 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States.
Not all Latinos who are legal American citizens have sympathy with illegal Hispanic - mostly Mexican - immigrants but many do. Rush Limbaugh has described Barack Obama's immigration policy change as "catch, release, vote."
I guess this year's October Surprise arrived early.
While a senior administration official called this action "an exercise in prosecutorial discretion," the fact is this suspension of deportations was done by Executive Order. Instead of trying to fix our comatose economy, His Majesty Obama spends his time finding new ways to break the law and nullify the Constitution.
Actions such as this undermine ... (more >>>)
Rise up, peasants, and chant this every chance you get: "Barry O's got to go."
I Hate Change: It seems like every time I go to the Battle Ground Safeway, they've moved the stuff I buy to a different aisle. I can't find anything anymore.
As soon as time-travel and teleportation are available, I'm dumping Safeway and giving my business to Food Fair in 1961.
I Don't Really See A Downside To This: Rodney King - he of three wives, multiple arrests and videotaped beating fame - has died at age 47. TMZ has reported that King's fiancée told friends that "Rodney had been drinking all day Saturday ... and had smoked weed in the hours leading up to his death."
Cynthia Kelley said that she "saw King at around 5:00 am when she was awoken by him screaming in the backyard. Our sources say Kelley found King naked, banging on the glass, and she called out to him, "What's wrong, Rodney?" She grabbed her phone when she heard a big splash. She then went to the backyard and discovered him in the bottom of the pool and called police."
Update (8/23/12): Rodney King died from accidental drowning; alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, PCP found in his blood According to the San Bernardino County coroner, King was "in a state of drug and alcohol-induced delirium" and "either fell or jumped into the swimming pool."
King's fifteen minutes of fame began when cops observed him driving at freeway speeds of up to 115 mph in a 1980s Hyundai (he should have gotten some kinda trophy or award for that) while quite drunk - estimated blood alcohol of 0.19 or so.
In order to elude police, King exited the freeway and the chase continued through residential streets at speeds ranging from 55 to 80 mph. By this time, several cop cars and a helicopter had joined in the pursuit. After eight miles or so, officers cornered King's car.
King then exhibited belligerent, aggressive behavior toward police, even after being tazed. That's when the riled-up cops worked him over with batons.
Since the incident, King has been arrested again and again. Good riddance. (permalink)
Father's Day: I got lots of gifts including several books. I'm now reading Adam Corolla's 'Not Taco Bell Material'; I'll post a book review soon. For Sunday dinner, we had Costco Prime Filets Mignon (cooked on our almost-new grill) accompanied by Omaha Steak's baked stuffed potatoes and an entire bottle of Cathedral Ridge 2009 Cabernet-Merlot from our recent Hood River wine tour.
Important Event: Today, my wife and I celebrate 46 years of wedded bliss. We're planning a quiet dinner at Salty's on the Columbia. I plan to toast her with a two-cherry, Canadian Club Manhattan. And we'll probably share a bottle of wine, perhaps imported:
Quote Of The Day is from Robert Benchley: "It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous."
Friday June 15, 2012
Old Car Prices: I read Hemmings blog almost every day and am amazed at the prices for old iron.
One seller is asking $58,000 for a black '62 Chrysler 300H hardtop coupe. How about $194,500 for a 1956 Austin Healey 100M? Or $149K for a '48 Mercury woodie? How about a 1956 Chevrolet Suburban for $62,500?
A 1965 Plymouth Satellite is offered at $48,900. A 1971 Dodge Charger R/T is for sale with an asking price of $84,999.
In the woodie department, a 1947 Ford Super Deluxe Sportsman Convertible went under the hammer for $253,000; a 1939 Ford Deluxe Station Wagon fetched $247,500; a 1938 Ford Deluxe Station Wagon sold for $209,000 and a 1940 Ford Deluxe Station Wagon went for $203,500.
Somebody's got money in this lousy economy. (permalink)
Auto Activities: I washed the Lexus on Thursday morning. It was good weather for washing a car - cool (55 degrees at 11:00 am) and overcast.
In the afternoon, the sun came out and the skies turned light blue with puffy Johnson & Johnson cotton ball clouds, so I fired up the Plymouth and took an enjoyable ride to nearby Hockinson and back.
Book Review: 'Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010' by Charles Murray
Having read and enjoyed Murray's controversial book 'The Bell Curve' when it came out in 1994, I was anxious to read his latest work. I wasn't disappointed.
In Coming Apart, Charles Murray demonstrates that, over the last 50 years, upper class and lower class values and character have diverged greatly. The classes barely interact anymore. This change has been happening at a fairly steady pace and has little to do with income inequality or the economic cycle.
Murray begins the first chapter with a recounting of the 'good old days' and how America has changed, presented in a believable way. In subsequent chapters, he demonstrates ... (more >>>)
Wealth Depletion: The net worth of the American family has fallen to its lowest level in two decades, according to government data released Monday, driven by a more than 40% drop in their stakes in their homes.
The Federal Reserve's detailed survey of consumer finances showed families' median wealth plunged from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010 - a 39% decline, putting them on par with median wealth in 1992. These data "underscore the depth of the wounds of the Great Recession and how far many families remain from healing. The median value of Americans' debt did not change."
"The biggest drops occurred among middle-income Americans, whose wealth was inextricably linked to the housing market boom and bust." Of course, the value of their retirement programs went in the toilet as well. But housing declines are more disastrous because most home purchases are highly leveraged, making those buyers brick-and-mortar gamblers. If you've only put 5% down and the price of your home declines 5%, you've just lost all your equity. Depending on where you live, home prices declined 15-50% between 2007 and '10, so people who only put 5% down have been screwed big time - they were left with a negative home equity number which eviscerated their net worth.
Fast-forward to 2012 - the 'recovery' is struggling like a man with rickets trying to pushing a dumpster through a magnet factory. The stock market has recovered from it's nadir but, for most investors, the value of their personal and retirement portfolios is still below the 2007 peak. And the median price of a single-family house is actually down from the Fed's worrisome 2010 numbers.
Barack Obama didn't start this fire but, instead of putting it out, his Keynesian meddling has only added fuel to the blaze of financial troubles, leaving the economy so weak it would struggle to pull a hobo off a can of Sterno.
If Obama is re-elected, given his looney economic ideas, his lack of understanding of how the U.S. economy works and his arrogant attitude (he sees himself as an omniscient Thumper in a herd of clueless Bambis), he will surely manage to get our wealth down another 40% or so.
On the other hand, if you believe this graph, Barry O. will lose the election in November. I hope so.
Headline Of The Week is from The Onion: 'Severe Allergic Reaction Causes Florida To Swell Up To Twice Normal Size'.
Happy Father's Day ... to all dads. I've posted my thoughts about fathers here. I miss my dad; he would have turned 93 this year.
Quote Of The Day is from Steven Wright: "I have two very rare photographs. One is a picture of Houdini locking his keys in his car. The other is a rare photograph of Norman Rockwell beating up a child."
Wednesday June 13, 2012
Blue Skies: We've been having a lot of clouds and rain recently but I awoke Monday to sun and an almost cloud-free sky. By 10:00 am, it was already 65 degrees, so I took the Plymouth out, gassed it up and took a nice, long ride.
Good thing I did - by afternoon it had begun to cloud up and the rain returned early Tuesday.
Guess Who's Buying Chryslers These Days: Some of Chrysler LLC's some of its recent sales success to a resurgence of subprime loans.
"Chrysler has a history of working with customers burdened with questionable finance histories, and lenders have begun to loosen credit restrictions." As a result, 29 out of every 100 auto loans for new Chrysler models went to buyers with a subprime credit score.
Nearly 21% of Dodge sales through May went to buyers with annual interest rates of 10% or more (the level typical of the riskiest 8% of new vehicle loans) on an average term of 71 months.
Global Warming Alert: The heaviest polar ice in more than a decade could postpone the start of offshore oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean until the beginning of August, Shell Alaska officials said.
Quick - someone call Al Gore.
The Unbearable Shallowness Of Being: Peggy Noonan has written, "President Obama's problem now isn't what Wisconsin did, it's how he looks each day - careening around, always in flight, a superfluous figure. No one even looks to him for leadership now. He doesn't go to Wisconsin, where the fight is. He goes to Sarah Jessica Parker's place, where the money is.
There is, now, a house-of-cards feel about this administration ...
Any president will, in a presidential election year, be political. But there is a startling sense with Mr. Obama that that's all he is now, that he and his people are all politics, all the time, undeviatingly, on every issue. He isn't even trying to lead, he's just trying to win."
I've just finished reading 'The Amateur: Barack Obama in the White House' by Edward Klein. I'll have a full review of this excellent book posted soon.
I thought I had heard pretty-much everything about Barack Obama. Not so. This exceptional book has really opened my eyes. And shocked me. Klein reveals the hollow, phony interior of the president. It's a must read.
Taking The Low Road: In 'The Amateur', Edward Klein quotes Joe Hagan of New York Magazine on why the Obama reelection campaign will be slinging as much mud as they can "The classic political question 'Are you better off than you were four years ago?' is liable to be answered with an emphatic 'No.' Over $15 trillion in debt, [more than 8] percent unemployment, yawning structural problems, a severely gridlocked government - Obama is in a box, and there is only one way out of this box: the low road."
Klein added, "Obama knows this and he is gearing up for a campaign that will in no way resemble his inspirational 'hope and change ' campaign in 2008."
Limited Editions: Garance Franke-Ruta has written in The Atlantic, "Surveys show a shockingly high fraction think a quarter of the country is gay or lesbian, when the reality is that it's probably less than 2%."
It seems like more because some of them are so noisy. And all the media coverage those Pride Parades get. Then again ... they don't reproduce, so whaddya expect?
The author has noted that "the extraordinary confusion over the percentage of gay people may reflect a triumph of the gay and lesbian movement's decades-long fight against invisibility and the closet."
In related news, the New York Times has reported that 'gaydar' actually works 60% of the time. Less so for me, though. I'm too gullible, which is why I avoid palm readers, carny shows and hotels hosting transvestite conventions.
Bella Italia: Recently, I rescanned photographs from our 2002 trip to Italy and replaced the old, tiny dial-up-sized pix on the web page.
I also added some additional photos, covering Rome, Vatican City, Capri, Venice and more. You'll find them here.
Thought For Today: If you line up all the cars in the world end-to-end, someone would be stupid enough to try to pass them.
Monday June 11, 2012
Trip Report: Last week, we drove to Hood River, Oregon for some rest, relaxation and wine-buying. The last time we visited the area was in 2002 when we took our grandson for a train ride with Thomas the Tank Engine.
Hood River is a small town - population 6,000 or so - along the scenic Columbia Gorge. Once a sleepy burg, it has become a 'must' destination for windsurfers, who do their surfing just off the banks of the Columbia River.
Hood River County also has some of the best kayaking, mountain biking, skiing, and hiking areas in the U.S. The town also has several microbreweries as well as more than a dozen wineries. The downtown area has a lot of well-kept, charming old buildings, which makes for a nice atmosphere.
I have posted a selection of Hood River photos here.
During our visit, we visited the Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum which has 75 airplanes and over 100 automobiles on display. Various memorabilia (signs, old radios, scale models and military items) are also on exhibit.
I took numerous photographs of the many cars and planes displayed indoors and have posted them, starting here.
We sampled wines at numerous tasting rooms in the area and returned with over three cases.
We especially enjoyed visiting the Naked Winery in downtown Hood River. One of the varietals, 2010 Dominatrix Pinot Noir, is described thusly: "This Domme has a velvety texture that will whip your taste buds into a frenzy. Thrusty muscle overtones with good intensity release into an unyielding spicy finish. Everyone should experience Dominatrix at least once in their life."
Naked Winery also offers Gay Rosé, described as "light and fruity in a fabulous way." The wines we sampled were good enough - even without the funny names - that we purchased a mixed case from this happy establishment.
We also bought a mixed case from Cathedral Ridge Winery, which offers a good selection of tasty wines. Our other purchases were a bottle or two here and there from various tasting rooms. Our stops included Mt Hood Winery, Hood River Vineyards, Pheasant Valley Vineyard, Phelps Creek Winery, Quenett Cellars, The Pines, Cerulean Wine and Springhouse Cellar. I would note that all of the tasting facilities were staffed by knowledgeable, friendly people. In fact, everyone in Hood River had a pleasant demeanor; we didn't meet a single Sad Sack during our visit.
We had some excellent meals during our stay. We enjoyed dinner at the Riverside Grill in the Best Western (where we stayed). The seating offered great views of the Columbia River. The service was excellent and the food was pretty good as well. The following evening, we had a wonderful dinner at the Three Rivers Grill downtown. I highly recommend it.
We ate lunch at Full Sail Brewing Co., an independent, employee-owned brewery which has an on-premises pub. Nothing to complain about but nothing exceptional either - just standard-fare pub food.
The following day we had lunch at McDonald's. I continue to believe that Mickey D's offers the best burgers and fries for the money. The food is consistent and above par, whether you're dining in Hood River, Boston or Rome:
Memo to Mayor Bloomberg, Moosechelle O. and all the Food Police who would like us to give up tasty food and exist on nothing but kale, watercress and tofu: Drop dead.
On the way home, we stopped at the Bonneville Dam Fish Hatchery in nearby Cascade Locks. We had fun seeing the giant sturgeons, including the legendary Herman the Sturgeon and feeding the trout. The hatchery was a picturesque respite from boring Interstate 84 and ... it was free. (permalink)
Speaking Of Hamburgers ... after we got home, we went to O'Brady's Drive-In in nearby Dollars Corner (just west of Battle Ground, WA).
Established in 1974, it's a local 'institution'. O'B's has good ice cream and the onion rings are tasty but - as to O'Bradys burgers - I'd rather have a McD's Quarter Pounder and keep the change.
O'Brady's is closing this Fall because the highway is being widened.
Book Review: 'No, They Can't: Why Government Fails - But Individuals Succeed' by John Stossel
John Stossel is an Emmy Award-winning journalist, formerly of ABC, now with Fox Business Network. In this book, this professional skeptic and self-proclaimed libertarian deconstructs conventional wisdom about the role and effectiveness of our nation's government.
If you've watched ... (more >>>)
Seems Like Everybody Hates Barry O. These Days: Former Clinton White House adviser Dick Morris said last week, "Bill Clinton does not want Barack Obama to win."
He elaborated, "I've spoken to several good friends who are staunch conservatives who have had exchanges with Bill Clinton in private, and at one point one of them quotes him as saying, 'You have six months to save the country'."
Bad Pun of the Day: The grave of Karl Marx is just another Communist plot.
Wednesday June 6, 2012
Corinth You: The late Paul Fussell, in his 1991 book, BAD, wrote, "For years, Chrysler has been unloading its troubling surplus inventories by insisting that its leather upholstery is not just any old leather but 'Corinthian Leather'.
The company finally confessed in the Wall Street Journal that the leather comes not from Corinth but from Newark, NJ. The name was chosen because a reference book suggested that 'Corinthian' connotes rich desirability, appealing to people who are, id 'dissolute', at least lovers of 'luxury, as the people of Corinth were said to be' - which is why, by the way, Saint Paul selected them to receive one of his loudest moral blasts.
He told them, "It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you ..." Pressed, the Chrysler Corporation would have to admit that Corinthian Leather is just words and never saw Corinth at all."
On the other hand, I would posit that many buyers of those unreliable, low-quality Chrysler products in the 1980s and '90s were found themselves ... ummm ... fornicated, in an automotive counsumer sense.
Pricey Iron: A 1962 Ferrari GT0 has been sold for $35 million, making it the most expensive car in the world. The record price eclipses the $32 million paid for a 1964 Ferrari 250 GT0 in February and the $30-34 million dished out for a 1936 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic in 2010.
Photorama: I've added several more photos to our 2006 Philadelphia trip report, including a couple from Northlandz, an enormous HO-scale model train layout in Flemington, NJ. Pix can be found here.
If You Love Trees, Don't Recycle: Economist Steven Landsburg has offered a cogent explanation.
"Recycling paper eliminates the incentive for paper companies to plant more trees and can cause forests to shrink. If you want large forests, your best strategy might be to use paper as wastefully as possible - or lobby for subsidies to the logging industry. Mention this to an environmentalist. My own experience is that you will be met with some equivalent of the beatific smile of a door-to-door evangelist stumped by an unexpected challenge, but secure in his grasp of Divine Revelation.
This suggests that environmentalists - at least the ones I have met - have no real interest in maintaining the tree population. If they did, they would seriously inquire into the long-term effects of recycling. I suspect that they don't want to do that because their real concern is with the ritual of recycling itself, not with its consequences. The underlying need to sacrifice, and to compel others to sacrifice, is a fundamentally religious impulse."
An added benefit of not recycling is not having to carry out those #$@%& bins on Thursday night when it's pouring rain.
Get The Hell Outta Here: The Commerce Department is considering naming Arab Americans a "socially and economically disadvantaged minority group" that is eligible for special business assistance.
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) petitioned Commerce earlier this year to ask that Arab Americans be made eligible for the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), which helps minority entrepreneurs gain access to capital, contracts and trade opportunities.
In other words, this is another money-wasting, useless government agency inefficiently addressing problems which are nonexistent. And discriminating against business owners who do not fit its desired ethnic profile.
The ADC petition cited "discrimination and prejudice in American society resulting in conditions under which Arab-American individuals have been unable to compete in a business world." The group claimed discrimination against Arab Americans increased after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Yeah, like we've really been boycotting your 7-11s and mall kiosks for the last 11 years. Give me a break.
Get over yourselves. Run a good, sound, ethical business. Earn customers' trust. Those things are the keys to success. This is true for every firm, regardless of who owns it. If you're an Arab and can't handle these fundamental business truths, maybe it's time for you to pack up your couscous recipes, hookah pipes, collection of hijabs and your wife's burkas, then tip your fez goodbye and slither back to the Middle East.
I find it both funny and ... (more >>>)
Half The Black Population Over 75 Are Former Platters Members. I've seen the so-called Platters perform a couple of times in recent years and they're always different people. The Platters have more franchisees than Church's Chicken, which makes their hit, 'Only You', kinda ironic.
Herb Reed, the last surviving member of the original Platters vocal group, has died at age 83. The Platters group was formed in 1953; Reed came up with the name, inspired by ’50s disc jockeys who called records 'platters'.
Reed sang bass on the group’s four number-one hits, including 'The Great Pretender', 'My Prayer', 'Twilight Time' and 'Smoke Gets in Your Eyes'. Reed resigned in 1969 and eventually lead an "official" Platters group under license from The Five Platters, Inc. He continued performing until last year. RIP.
Best Snip Of The Week ... so far, is from New York Times writer Frank Bruni on Rielle Hunter, John Edwards' manly-looking "New Age mistress, who complained when a love nest lacked the proper feng shui. Regrettably, she has a memoir due out soon. Proper feng shui dictates its placement in the remainder bin."
Headline Of The Week: 'Obama Accidentally Sets White House On Fire While Burning Constitution, Bill Of Rights'.
Bad Pun Of The Day: When you dream in color, it's a pigment of your imagination.
Monday June 4, 2012
May Vehicle Sales: The seasonally-adjusted annual rate was 13.8 million vehicles for last month, up 18% from May of last year. Most notable was the big jump in sales for Honda and Toyota - both companies were devastated by last year's tsunami but have recovered nicely.
Toyota sales rose a whopping 87%. Avalon sales dropped 7% to 1,959 units but Camry sales jumped 110% (it's the best-selling passenger car in America) and Prius 210% to 21,477 deliveries (1,086 were plug-in models), compared with 1,680 Chevrolet Volts and only 510 Nissan Leafs.
Lexus sales were up 74%. Only 459 LS sedans were sold, a drop of 22%. Amazingly, Lexus sold 1,549 examples of the stubby CT hybrid but I've yet to see one on the road. 10,647 deliveries of the best-selling Lexus RX luxury crossover were made - this one Lexus model outsold all of Cadillac's May production. The RX beat all of Lincoln's output as well. Lexus also outsold Toyota's Scion brand by 3.5-fold, although Mercedes and BMW outsold Lexus in May.
Honda deliveries increased by 48%, led by the Civic. The compact's sales increased by 83% to 33,490 units. Edmunds.com Jessica Caldwell commented, "The Honda Civic, which received much media scrutiny when launched, had one of its best sales months in recent history. Civic sales were helped by strong leasing programs, but ultimately its key asset is its brand credibility, which helps when there are people entering the auto market timidly after a extended period of time." Even the Acura division experienced a big jump - up 62%.
Volkswagen sales were up 24% to 50,361 vehicles, led by its made-in-the-U.S. Passat. Mercedes sales rose 21% as did Nissan. Volvo and Jaguar were off 15%.
Chrysler's sales volume increased 30% to 150,041 units - the best May sales for the firm in five years. All of its brands showed positive increases. Sales of the big 300 sedan were up 140% to 6,101 units for May. Chrysler sold 4,003 Fiat 500 models during the month.
General Motors was up 11%. Buick sales increased 19%, led by a big jump in Enclave crossover SUV sales. The little Verano sedan is now outselling the larger Regal (3,609 units versus 2,550 units). Cadillac sales were down 15% to 9,871 vehicles. Only 4,161 of the top-selling CTS models were sold. Chevrolet sales went up 10%. 1,219 Corvettes were sold in May. The new Chevy Sonic is outselling the last year's woeful Aveo by 58%. General Motors is continuing to offer large sales incentives, almost $1,000 higher than either Ford or Chrysler.
FoMoCo sales increased 13%. But Michelle Krebs from Edmunds.com cautioned, "One thing that really caught my attention about Ford is that the brand's fleet sales are up to 3%." Mustang sales jumped 58% to 10,427 vehicles, besting Camaro (9,023) and Challenger (4,815). 6,844 Taurus sedans were sold in May. Lincoln sales were down 2% to 7,241 units total.
Only 201 Bentleys were sold in May - a drop of 11%. But four Maybachs were sold during the month - up one (+33%) from April.
Smells Like A Merger Is In The Offing: In what many long-time readers see as sacrilegious, Road & Track magazine is moving from Newport Beach CA to Ann Arbor MI. Owner Hearst Corporation is relocating R&T to the same town as its other car buff mag, Car and Driver. In a telling move, former C/D editor Larry Webster will now be calling the shots at R&T. Connect the ... (more >>>)
You Must Be Juking? It sounds like someone's kidding around but Nissan is quite serious about offering a high-performance version of its ugly little Juke SUV for $600,000.
"The Juke R, which will be available in American and offered on a build-to-order basis, was always known to be expensive. The car requires the cannibalization of both a GT-R and a Juke for it to become a reality, plus a whole host of custom fabrication."
Only 20-25 will be built. Thank God.
Wanna See Some Car & Train Photos? I took quite a few during a 2003 vacation in Colorado but had only posted a couple of small images online. I've now redone the Colorado page with much more wheeled goodness.
There are pix from the Forney Transportation Museum, Colorado RR Museum, Royal Gorge Route RR, Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and more. You'll find everything here.
You Want Some Kennedy Legacy? I got some right here for ya. One of the LAPD detectives often on 'Kennedy detail' was a young officer named Daniel Stewart. "His assignments ranged from standing guard at the Los Angeles apartments the Kennedys used for extramarital affairs to guarding Bobby during the 1960 Democratic convention in LA to getting the call to go to Good Samaritan Hospital when Bobby got shot at the Ambassador Hotel in 1968."
Years later, Daniel married Patricia Stewart Lawford, the fourth wife of Peter Lawford. The British-born actor and one-time member of Sinatra's Rat Pack was married to Patricia Kennedy, JFK's sister, from 1954 to 1966.
Daniel Stewart and his wife, Patricia, share a disdain for the Kennedys. Daniel has said that the Kennedy clan members "were open about the philandering. They thought they had a regular pass to do it."
I remember the night presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy was shot in Los Angeles. It was horrific and ordinary people all over the U.S. were devastated. But the Kennedy family handled their grief a little differently. Daniel Stewart recalled the scene at Good Samaritan, with members of the Kennedy family taking over an entire floor while RFK languished on life support. "They commandeered this medicine cart, and suddenly booze appeared on it. Bourbon, scotch, vodka, gin. They were in an open waiting room, smoking and drinking, just waiting for everyone to show up. They weren't falling-down drunk, but they were feeling the effects."
Patricia Stewart Lawford has her own stories about the Kennedys. When she first met RFK, Jr. in 1976, within four minutes he propositioned her in a crude manner - despite the fact that her husband, Peter Lawford, was in the next room.
Then there was Teddy's behavior toward Peter Lawford's young wife (now Patricia Lawford Stewart) - in June 1980, when she called Ted Kennedy's office to request a favor for Peter, she was rattled by his greeting.
"He gets on the phone and says, 'I hear you're the one with the big tits. The kids all told me.' I got quiet. He said, 'So when are you going to come to Boston and campaign for me? We'll go skiing, we'll go to Vermont, we'll do this, we'll do that.' It wasn't familial; I'd never met him. I said, 'I'm married to Peter.'"
"Peter Lawford was at a party with the Kennedys and he watched Ted spike some punch and give a glass to (then-wife) Joan. Joan had been sober for eight years. Ted says, 'Here, have some.' And she gets picked up by the cops driving home.
To this day, Mrs. Stewart thinks that Ted set Joan up; the Kennedys, she says, are ruthless when it comes to destroying anyone who's outlived their usefulness." She includes Mary Kennedy, the recently-deceased wife of RFK Jr.
Sounds like 'America's Royal Family' is nothing but a bunch of privileged degenerates. That's why - even to this day - in Massachusetts, they refer to a prefrontal lobotomy as a Joe Kennedy Special.
Survey Says ... He's Dead: Richard Dawson, best known for hosting 'Family Feud' has died at age 79 from esophageal cancer. He hosted the Feud from 1976 to 1985. After the show went into syndication, he returned to host the final 1995 season.
Dawson was well-known for his habit of kissing all the female contestants on FF. He ended up marrying one of them, Gretchen Johnson, who competed on the show in 1981.
Dawson had previously been married to the late, great '50s British blond bombshell Diana Dors. Gregory Sullivan wrote that she "made Jessica Rabbit look like Olive Oyl." RIP, Richard.
You Call This A Recovery? Last week's employment report was disappointing to say the least. The government's official (and overly optimistic) unemployment rate actually went up to 8.2%.
Based on the present rate of recovery, job losses will not return to pre-recession levels until Spring of 2015. This is based on a lineal extrapolation of the graph of the job losses from the start of the employment recession in percentage terms, created by Bill McBride of Calculated Risk.
This is the weakest U.S. recovery since the Great Depression.
Quip Of The Day is from David Burge - aka: Iowahawk, who has tweeted, "Don't be so hard on Obama. A lot of people fail at their first job."
Schick's Law: "There is no problem a good miracle can't solve."
Friday June 1, 2012
Designing For China: Italian automotive design company Pininfarina is forecasting a return to profit in 2012 as its design and engineering business improves.
Pininfarina has designed cars for Ferrari, Maserati, Rolls-Royce, Cadillac and others. In 2009, it closed its manufacturing operations to focus solely on design.
Earlier this month, CEO Silvio Pietro Angori said that China will pass Germany this year to become the Pininfarina's biggest market. China and Germany each currently generates about 35% of the company's revenue. Italy contributes about 20 percent and other markets generate the rest.
Dead Cell: Lithium-ion battery maker A123 Systems Inc. has notified the Securities and Exchange Commission that "there is substantial doubt on the company's ability to continue as a going concern." A123 was hit with a field campaign to replace defective batteries that will cost the company an estimated $51.6 million.
A123 also took an inventory charge of $15.2 million related to potentially defective batteries manufactured at its Michigan plant. A123 supplied the faulty pack that failed during a recent, highly publicized test of the Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid. A123 had announced the recall of lithium-ion batteries it has provided for five electric vehicle programs.
"A123 received a federal matching grant of $249 million to build a new plant to produce at least 500 megawatt-hours of batteries - enough to power 21,000 Nissan Leaf electric vehicles. The Nissan Leaf has sold only 12,000 units in the US in the last 18 months."
It appears that another Obama federally-funded 'green energy' boondoggle is going to bite the dust, wasting your tax dollars (and mine).
Book Review: 'Waters of the World' by Henry J. Gambino
This book presents the majesty and awesome beauty of various bodies of water around the world in a series of 150 full-color photographs. Water is presented in all its forms: oceans, seas, bays, harbors, lakes, ponds, rivers, stream, canals, waterfalls, fountains, geysers, blowholes, rain, ice and snow. Photos were shot by ... (more >>>)
You Want Some Fraud With Your Burger? An iconic Philadelphia-area burger and cheese steak chain and its owners are in hot water with the U.S. government for allegedly failing to report more than $15 million in sales to the Internal Revenue Service.
The U.S. Attorney's Office has announced tax evasion and conspiracy charges against Nifty Fifty's and five of its owners and managers. "The defendants not only evaded paying the taxes they owed, they filed income tax returns claiming they were due refunds based on the erroneous reporting of their incomes," the federal prosecutor said. They evaded taxes since the company's 1986 founding by, among other methods, paying employees a portion of their wages with unreported cash, thereby avoiding payroll taxes; paying suppliers with unreported cash; and having false tax returns prepared that under-reported income, while falsely inflating expenses and deductions.
"The individual defendants include Robert Mattei, 73, of Delray Beach, Fla.; Leo McGlynn, 52, of Swarthmore; Brian Welsh, 48, of Springfield, Delaware County; Joseph Donnelly, 49, of Springfield, Delaware County; and Elena Ruiz, 46, of Drexel Hill. All but Ruiz are also charged with bank fraud, while McGlynn and Donnelly are charged with aggravated structuring of financial transactions."
Nifty Fifty's has five locations in the Philadelphia area. (permalink)
What a Bozo - He's Either A Clueless Moron Or A Racist: President Barack Obama's description - in prepared remarks - of a Nazi German Holocaust site as a "Polish death camp" shocked Poland, whose leaders insist the record be set straight 67 years after World War II.
The White House later said the president "misspoke" and expressed "regret." Let's not forget that Polish people are white.
Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Wednesday Obama's words had hurt all Poles and he expected more from Washington than just "regret."
"I am convinced that our American friends can today allow themselves a stronger reaction than a simple expression of regret from the White House spokesman - a reaction more inclined to eliminate once and for all these kinds of errors," Tusk told reporters in Warsaw. "Today, this is a problem for the reputation of the United States."
I guess they don't teach very good history in Indonesia. Or Kenya.
The Dog Ate My
"Presume for the sake of argument that the Obama administration is correct that the stimulus and their other efforts to decrease unemployment and build a prosperous economy could have worked, but were impeded by factors beyond their control: "This recession turned out to be a lot deeper than any of us realized," "a string of bad luck," "the Japanese earthquake," "an Arab Spring," "economic headwinds from Europe," "uncertainty from the debt-ceiling debate," "globalization," "automation," "ATMs" and so on.
Put aside your inclination to roll your eyes and exclaim, "excuses, excuses" for a moment, and examine what this argument really is: Obama and his congressional allies came up with a plan that could work, but only if the conditions were right or near-perfect."
Geraghty quipped, "It wasn't much of a plan, was it?"
Ouch! Headline from The People's Cube: 'Obama meets with Jewish leaders, proposes deeper circumcisions for the rich.'
Say A High-Pitched Prayer In His Memory: Voice actor Dick Beals has died at age 85.
He specialized in doing voices of young boys during his career, which spanned the period from the early 1950s onward.
Beals' most recognizable performance was as the voice of Speedy Alka Seltzer, featured in TV ads for more than 50 years.
I'm reminded of The Simpsons episode where Grandpa Simpson went off his meds and ran down the street naked except for a white bedpan on his head, yelling, "Look at me; I'm Speedy Alka Seltzer."
Another Sign That End Times Are Upon Us: Taco Bell is now offering Mountain Dew AM - a concoction of Mountain Dew and orange juice as a breakfast drink. Don't even ask what's in Mountain Dew BM.
Exchange Of The Day ... is from the old 'Hollywood Squares'. Peter Marshall: "Paul, is there such a thing as a female rooster?" Paul Lynde: "Yeah, they're the ones who just go "a doodle doo!""
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