A Blog About Cars ... And Everything Else That Catches My Eye
Friday May 31, 2013
AutoSketch: 1957 Mercury - Turnpike To Oblivion
There's an old joke about the fact that "women always complain because you don't pay attention to them. So, you do and, the next thing you know, she takes out a restraining order."
For years, the public complained that a Mercury was nothing more than fancified Ford and the company wasn't paying enough attention to its mid-priced brand. Francis 'Jack' Reith, one of the Ford Whiz Kids, decided to change all that. In 1955, Reith proposed separating Mercury from the Lincoln Division for the 1957 model year and using the soon-to-be Edsel to create an entirely new division to launch in late 1957. Jack Reith became the new Mercury Division's general manager in 1955.
There was, at the time ... (more >>>)
Loser Shoes: A study just released by Columbia University shows that a vast majority of the people who wear Crocs, the style-challenged plastic clogs, lack enthusiasm, don't look forward to anything, are unimaginative and don't have anything worthwhile to say.
Manalo, the shoe blogger, once described Crocs as an "ungainly, life-sapping, and horrifically unattractive product."
"The study also found that women who wear Crocs shoes routinely disregard shaving their underarms and legs, watch 'Tori and Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood' and have a deep disdain for women who are fashionable."
Silly rabbit, Kix are for kids; Crocs are for losers. (permalink)
The Painful Truth: Steven Den Beste has written, "Obama really isn't a very good president. Truth to tell, he's been terrible. People voted for him because he was black. He's the first Affirmative Action President.
They're all thinking that, but it's, you know, racist and if anyone says it, they could start the process of ruining everything. Whichever good little liberal press person comes out and says that, and starts the preference cascade, will probably be fired, and won't be able to find another job with anyone more reputable than The National Enquirer."
Some of the press are wising up, especially since the Obama Administration began trampling on their beloved First Amendment rights. Many seem stunned. They ask, "How can this be?"
It's simple. Barack Obama, for all his incompetence, is - at heart - a thin-skinned Chicago machine politician with a great capacity for revenge. Having an ego the size of a Katrina FEMA trailer, he punishes those who fail to worship his greatness. Exhibit A - those Tea Party groups who were targeted by the IRS.
This is not new. Remember Joe the Plumber in the 2008 campaign? His 'crime' was asking Obama a simple question. As a result, he was placed under investigation by Ohio's Head of Job and Family Services, Helen Jones-Kelley, a taxpayer-supported public employee, who is also black and was a maximum donor to Obama campaign.
The press chose to ignore this tidbit and, by doing so, encouraged Obama to be more brash than a flower-patterned 1973 polyester tie. Today's multiple scandals are the result.
Old Man Wants Things The Way They Used To Be: Bob Dole has his Depends in a bunch over the perceived decline of white-shoe Republicans.
In a recent interview, he says that he no longer recognizes the Republican Party that he helped lead for years.
The pandering of Senator Dole's generation of Republicans begat the Tea Party of today. So, it's a bit late for the 90 year-old Senator to criticize the fruits of his own labors.
He complained that because of increased partisanship, nothing gets done in Congress. Hmmm. Maybe that's not such a bad thing. To prevent an autocratic government, the Founders devised a fairly weak central government with the specific intent that it would be slow to action and would require broad consensus in order to effect change.
Brushing a stray Lorna Doone cookie crumb from his cardigan, Dole confessed that he also misses subway tokens, Dynaflow transmissions, The Andrews Sisters, wind-up clocks that tick, Forever Yours candy bars and soda jerks.
The Perfect Storm: The Chicago Sun-Times has laid off its entire photography staff and plans to use freelance photographers and reporters to shoot photos and video to replace the 28 full-time staffers.
This is just another result of the perfect storm that's drowning newspapers ... (more >>>)
Book Review: 'The Esperanza Fire: Arson, Murder, and the Agony of Engine 57' by John N. Maclean
I know almost nothing about firefighting, so I found this book interesting informative and educational.
The Esperanza Fire of 2006, located near Cabazon, California, killed a five-man Forest Service crew sent to fight the blaze. This huge fire was started ... (more >>>)
Question Of The Day is from Thomas Sowell: "Why do we drive on the parkway and park on the driveway?"
Wednesday May 29, 2013
Buh Bye: 24/7 Wall St. has compiled a list of 10 brands that will disappear in 2014. Found in the doomed top ten were Mitsubishi (car sites have been predicting its demise for years), J.C. Penney (I'm surprised Sears didn't make the list, too), Volvo (its market share in America has dropped to 0.3%) and Martha Stewart Living Magazine (ad pages fell from 1,306 in 2008 to 766 last year).
One entry that surprised me was Road & Track ... (more >>>)
Basically Powerful: The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray won't arrive in dealerships until Fall but specs on the base engine have been released. The entry-level 6.2-liter V-8 is officially rated at 455 horsepower and 460 pounds-feet of torque - up from the 2013's 430 hp and 424 pounds-feet of torque.
Tech Bubbles: Yes, I'm a geezer Luddite whose cell phone can't even take pictures, handle text messages or dispense cough drops. But I do understand business models and there are some that just don't make any sense.
Jim Cramer has said, "Social media is not understood by people older than 23." But Karl Denninger replied, "Oh really? Let me give you a few hints:
What I continue to see is the model of the 1990s - get a lot of users really fast and then sell yourself to someone before they figure out that you're not making any money and mathematically can't."
My take on some of the dubious social media out there: Show me the revenue. Show me the profit. If you can't, you're headed the way of all those 1999 dot-coms.
How To Close Gitmo: Jay Leno says that Obama should "turn it into a government-funded solar power company. The doors will be shut in a month."
Twang! Remember, when federal agents raided Gibson Guitar back in 2011?
Agents "seized several pallets of wood, electronic files and guitars. One of the top makers of acoustic and electric guitars, including the iconic Les Paul introduced in 1952, Gibson was accused of using wood illegally obtained in violation of the century-old Lacey Act, which outlaws trafficking in flora and fauna the harvesting of which had broken foreign laws.
In one raid, the feds hauled away ebony fingerboards, alleging they violated Madagascar law. Gibson responded by obtaining the sworn word of the African island's government that no law had been broken."
Gibson's chief executive, Henry Juszkiewicz, has contributed to Republican politicians. Recent donations have included $2,000 to Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and $1,500 to Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN).
Gibson's chief competitor Martin Guitars was not raided, despite the fact that they use some of the very same imported woods. Ever wonder why? Well, Chris Martin IV, the Martin & Co. CEO, "is a long-time Democratic supporter, with $35,400 in contributions to Democratic candidates and the Democratic National Committee over the past couple of election cycles."
Connect the dots.
Bad Pun Of The Day: The school fired a cross-eyed teacher because she couldn't control her pupils.
Monday May 27, 2013
Uninspiring Jag: Since its founding in the 1920s, Jaguar has always offered sporting cars. Yes, saloons were produced for gentlemen who required extra doors or wealthy, portly lads who couldn't fit in a sports car, but the Jag flagship was always a sports car.
Jaguar gained fame and fortune by producing a series of eye-catching sports machines, such as the XK120 of 1949 - later evolving into XK140 and XK150. In 1961 the E-Type (aka - XKE) was introduced and it was a head-turning stunner.
Sadly, the next model ... (more >>>)
On The Other Hand ... I'm not always a fan of BMW styling but this Pininfarina-designed Gran Lusso Coupe really caught my eye. It's a handsome, distinctive machine .. everything the Jaguar F-Type isn't.
Shoe Story: Gregory Sullivan noted that Sperry Topsiders - aka deck shoes - have a Sperry label inside but "Justin Brands owns it, and Berkshire Hathaway owns that. That's Warren Buffett's bailiwick. Warren Buffett only buys things that have some strategic advantage someone's missing out on. A "Made in Maine" tag seems to be all you need to sell boat shoes in Japan. Who knew? Then again, Berkshire Hathaway used to make shirts when Buffett bought it. If I was working in one of his factories, I wouldn't buy any green bananas."
"Maine used to make a lot of shoes and boots. It was the state's largest industry until very recently, when free trade killed American piecework dead. The state's current largest industry is selling oxycodone you stole from grandma's medicine cabinet, I think."
I bought a pair of faux Topsiders at a Dexter Shoes Factory Outlet in New Hampshire 25 years ago. I never found them to be that comfortable so I kept them by our front door. I only wore my Dexes when I walked to the mailbox at the end of our driveway.
Warren Buffett once owned the Dexter Shoe Co. and called it "his worst deal ever."
"In 1993, Berkshire paid $433 million for the Maine-based company. Rather than use cash, Buffett used Berkshire Class A stock to fund the purchase. That Berkshire stock is worth eight times more now, giving the Omaha, Nebraska-based insurance and investment company a $216 billion market value."
Dexter didn't ... (more >>>)
Restaurant Review: Uncle D's Wood Fired Pizza; Battle Ground, WA
This recently-opened location in Battle Ground Village - at the site of a failed burger joint (The Coachmen) - offers a variety of gourmet-type, thin crust pizzas. Build-your-own is discouraged as the available toppings are limited.
That said, the pizza is delicious and reasonably priced. Drinks are limited to soda pop and iced tea; Uncle D's doesn't offer wine or beer. Place your order, pay in advance and wait - although the pizzas arrive quickly at your table on plywood-type serving boards. Rolls of paper towels are your napkins, although the silverware is real - not plastic.
The seating and decor is basic and forgettable. The place can be ... (more >>>)
No Wonder I Never Got Happy At TGI Fridays: Twenty-nine New Jersey bars and restaurants, including 13 TGI Fridays, were accused of substituting cheap booze - or worse - for top-shelf liquor brands while charging premium prices.
At one bar, a mixture that included rubbing alcohol and caramel coloring was sold as scotch.
An Applebee's and a Ruby Tuesday were also busted in the fake-booze raid.
Baby On Board: Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson has said that for British Airways should deposit traveling young children in with the luggage under its planes. "When will British Airways realize that babies belong in the hold?"
Clarkson's comment prompted equal quantities of laughter, outrage and support from those who follow him on the social media service. Acknowledging the controversy, Clarkson followed up by noting, "Mine didn't fly till they were old enough to behave." Same goes for taking them to restaurants, in my view.
Question Of The Day: If a deaf person has to go to court, is it still called a hearing?
Thursday May 23, 2013
Motor Trends: Car windows keep getting smaller, all-wheel-drive is becoming ubiquitous, people buy SUVs to get more ground clearance, tires are becoming larger and pedestrian crash requirements are making front ends blunt and more massive.
Jeeez. In five years, we'll probably all be driving Stryker combat vehicles. (permalink)
G'Bye, Mate: Ford Motor Co is closing its two Australian auto plants and will cease production in the country in October 2016. 1,200 workers will lose their jobs.
The company will close its engine plant in Geelong and its assembly plant in Broadmeadows, both in the state of Victoria. The car manufacturer has struggled with sliding sales, high costs and a strong Australian dollar.
Ford has been making cars in Australia since 1925.
Papal Bull: Pope Francis has attacked the "dictatorship" of the global financial system and warned that the "cult of money" was making life a misery for millions.
He said free-market capitalism had created a "tyranny" and that human beings were being judged purely by their ability to consume goods. He also said that money should be made only to "serve" people. Presumably other people, as opposed to the ones making the money.
When you sit on a golden throne ... (more >>>)
Book Review: 'The Great American Railroad War: How Ambrose Bierce and Frank Norris Took On the Notorious Central Pacific Railroad' by Dennis Drabelle
Don't judge a book by its cover, we are told. But this book, about the 19th Century battle in the West between the Central Pacific, Southern Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads, carries a photo of a 20th Century Pennsylvania RR steam locomotive on the cover. A bad omen and not a good start for a book ... (more >>>)
Creepy World: A pastor at St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church in Florida who also worked as a custodial manager for Disney World was arrested this week for allegedly using the computer in his office to download child porn and solicit minors.
The Orange County Sheriff's Office was alerted last month to Cedric Cuthbert's on-the-clock activities by Disney, which noted that the 49-year-old was attempting to access blocked website through his work computer.
Investigators say that in addition to viewing child pornography, Cuthbert was also sending messages to underage girls on YouTube telling them he though they had a "great sexy bodi (sic)" and asking them to "send me a private vid."
The same computer was also used by Cuthbert on at least two occasions to pen Sunday sermons the church where he has been serving as pastor for the last three years.
Happy Days Are Here Again: Black Nixon is twiddling his thumbs in the Oval Office waiting for the next scandal to break, gold has plummeted, the Middle East is more on fire than usual, Euro nations are in the dumper, the Yen is in free fall, the press is getting bugged about being snooped upon, Bernanke seems confused and the IRS is taking the Fifth, but stocks are up so far this year and that's a very good thing. The Vanguard Index 500 Fund has increased 18% year-to-date.
Headline Of The Week is from the LA Times: 'Big rig carrying fruit crashes on 210 Freeway, creates jam.'
Bad Pun of the Day: Did you hear about the man who dressed up as a baby horse? He made a complete foal of himself.
Tuesday May 21, 2013
Post-Luncheon Excursion: I wanted to take an old car drive Monday morning but the weather was chilly, overcast and threatening.
By 1:30 pm, the temperature had reached a comfortable 65 degrees, the skies were bright blue and there were only a few puffy, cotton-ball clouds over the hills. Mt. St. Helens is beginning to lose snow on its peak but remains a big white half-ball.
At the corner of 152nd Ave and 159th St., I laid a large squealing patch as I took off from the stop sign. Someone must have spilled sand. Or maybe my foot is heaver than I thought. Or maybe I'm just a geezer delinquent.
I had a very pleasant ride but I needed to savor it because the forecast is for rain, rain and more rain for the rest of the week.
Slip Slidin' Away: Jack Baruth's recent comment about General Motors X-body cars and their tendency to spin out caused me to update my 1980 Oldsmobile Omega page and add Mr. Baruth's quote to the story about my 720 degree spin in said vehicle.
Goin' Out: One-half of Americans went to McDonald's at least once in March; Mickey Ds is the most popular retail destination in America. Nearly four in ten Americans visited Walmart, the second most popular business. Subway and Burger King placed third and fourth, respectively.
Less than 40% of Americans visited a bank or clothing fashion store in March. At the same time, an estimated 60% visited a department store and more than two-thirds went to a fast food restaurant at least once.
Obamanomics At Work: In 2008, Barack Obama pledged to create 5 million jobs over 10 years by directing taxpayer funds toward renewable energy projects.
The Institute of Energy Research did the math; it divided the $26 billion spent on "green jobs" by the Energy Department since 2009, divided it by the 2,298 permanent jobs created, and came up with a cost of $11,450,000 per job.
The government should stay out of the jobs business. Real jobs are created by entrepreneurs - based on genuine, market-driven needs - at no cost to taxpayers.
Nixon Redux: Peggy Noonan wrote, "We are in the midst of the worst Washington scandal since Watergate. The reputation of the Obama White House has, among conservatives, gone from sketchy to sinister, and, among liberals, from unsatisfying to dangerous. No one likes what they're seeing. The Justice Department assault on the Associated Press and the ugly politicization of the Internal Revenue Service have left the administration's credibility deeply, probably irretrievably damaged."
On Monday, we learned that Obama was targeting Fox News reporter James Rosen. His alleged "crime": Talking with a government source as part of his job. According to the Washington Post, the Justice Department went further in investigating Rosen than they did with AP reporters. They obtained his security badge access records at the State Department, looked at records of his calls with a specific State Department adviser and even went through his personal e-mails. The Justice Department is also investigating Fox reporter reporter William La Jeunesse and there is evidence that his e-mails regarding the Fast and Furious gun sales scandal were examined.
Even liberal reporters are appalled. The press is now turning on Obama because ... (more >>>)
A Message From Your Racist-In-Chief: Barack Obama told a group of graduating black students, "as an African American, you have to work twice as hard as anyone else if you want to get by."
It is amazing that such resentment emanates from a guy who got elected for one reason - his skin color.
In our Affirmative Action world ... (more >>>)
Barbecue To Die For: Don Pelts, founder of the Memphis-based barbecue restaurant Corky’s Ribs & Bar-B-Q has died at age 72.
The only time my wife and I visited Memphis (1992), we stumbled upon Corky's. The beef brisket was soooo good that we dined there twice during our brief stay.
There are now three Corky's in Memphis, eight franchises and a large presence on QVC for selling its products across the country. Established in 1984, Corky's does almost $50 million a year in sales - 25% shipped from its USDA-inspected plant to homes across the U.S. RIP.
Why I Support Israel: Sometimes we sleep on sheets made in Israel. Made from Egyptian cotton. Purchased at Costco. It's interesting that Israel has always had a manufacturing economy while most of the Middle East makes almost nothing; they let foreigners pump their oil (for a price) and they do a little agriculture - figs, cotton and opium, I think.
In contrast, Israel has an economy based on something real. And entrepreneurial. And exportable. Good for them.
Quote Of The Day is from Jay Leno: "It's gotten so bad for Obama that Fox News changed its slogan to 'I Told You So'."
Friday May 17, 2013
Nice Rack: Sometimes the titles just write themselves:
Ashes To Ashes: Tomorrow marks the 33rd anniversary of the eruption of Mt. St. Helens. It caused a massive debris avalanche and 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've written more about it here.
I see the mountain almost every day, since I live a mere 35 miles away as the ash flies. I have a car story about Mt. St. Helens' eruption. In 1980, I was driving a 1976 Volkswagen Scirocco, purchased new when I lived in New Jersey. The car was garaged every night and had spent its East Coast days in a covered parking garage in downtown Philadelphia. When I moved to Oregon in 1978, the car was parked outside during the day but was in the shade part of the time. Within a month of our arrival in the Pacific Northwest, the factory clearcoat began to deteriorate.
By 1980, the paint was completely shot - big white spots all over the surface after fewer than 60,000 pampered miles on it. So much for VW 'quality'.
The day before the big eruption, I repainted the Scirocco using spray cans of silver Krylon. I had planned to let the paint 'set' for a week before polishing. But I didn't need to - residual ash did most of the work for me. The result wasn't too bad ... if you didn't look real close.
At this writing, the mountain remains quiet - snow-covered and peaceful. Tomorrow? Who knows?
This Story Doesn't Hold Water: Massachusetts state police and the FBI are investigating a trespassing incident at the Quabbin Reservoir, which supplies drinking water to Boston.
A trooper saw two cars parked at a reservoir park entrance at 12:30 am, then saw five young men and two young women walking toward them from the reservoir.
The men told police they are "recently graduated chemical engineers curious about the reservoir." They are from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Singapore.
Sounds like terrorists-in-training to me.
The Black Death: Over 86 years, the Ku Klux Klan lynched 3,446 blacks a figure matched in less than four days if tallying the number of black babies who are aborted.
Walter Hoye, founder and president of the Issues4Life Foundation, shared those statistics at a press conference where black clergy and other leaders gathered in response to the guilty verdict in the trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted of murdering three newborn babies.
"Since 1973, abortion on demand in black America has taken more lives than homicides, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and HIV/AIDS combined and has become the number one cause of death in the black community," Hoye said. (permalink)
The Kardashianizing Of America: Jim Geraghty recently wrote, "We've always been a diverse country, but I suspect that a lot of conservatives click on the television or web or look at the morning paper or magazine and see a country they just don't recognize anymore."
"How many conservatives look out upon large swaths of their fellow countrymen and feel as if they're dealing with someone from another planet, someone whose thinking, values, worldview, and priorities are so alien, they simply can't understand them?"
That caught my attention, since I had just finished reading the Letters to the Editor page in the local weekly, where one moron - claiming to be a "life-long Republican," although that might just be what he dresses up as on Halloween - posited, "Who is spreading fear in our country today? It is not Islam or the Boston Bombers but our own home-grown, radical right-wing people and they are worth fearing."
If you really feel that way, pal, you should move to a right-wing-free nation, such as Pakistan. Or Syria.
Geraghty continued, "Our political differences and culture wars are a big part of it. But I think it goes even further. How many times can a conservative encounter the low-information voters who don't know who the vice president is, or watch the folks on the street get stumped by basic questions in Jay Leno's 'Jaywalking' segments, and not lose some faith in the American people as a whole?"
There have always been stupid and misinformed people but it's seems that there are lots more of them now. I blame Honey Boo-Boo, E! network, profane rappers and lowbrow cable reality shows. But I'm old. I also curse the gathering darkness and shake my fist at the moon. And Lindsay Lohan.
"I remember reading the joke, 'Far in the future, aliens will come and find the relics of our modern civilization and conclude that Kim Kardashian was our queen.' I really don't understand why I'm supposed to care about this woman, and I don't understand why it seems that I'm constantly being told things about her."
Of the Kardashians, Dennis Miller once said ... (more >>>)
The Outrages Never Stop: The woman actually in charge of the tax-exempt division during the scandal, who oversaw the political persecution of Tea Party groups, is now the director of the IRS' Affordable Care Act office - aka the ObamaCare Enforcement Division. Sarah Hall Ingram received over $100,000 in bonuses during the 2010-12 period for her outstanding work in quashing the rights of citizens, including pro-life groups.
If that's not outrageous enough for ya, you should be aware that the National Treasury Employees Union is a left-wing union representing 150,000 employees in 31 separate government agencies, including the IRS. The union not only endorsed President Obama for election and re-election but its current president, Colleen Kelly, was a 14-year IRS agent and now is both union president and Obama administration appointee.
94% of NTEU union contributions go to Democrats in the Senate and House in 2012 - candidates who campaigned as vociferous opponents of the Tea Party.
Ms. Kelly also doubles as an Obama appointee to the Federal Salary Council. Identified in the Washington Post as "a panel obscure to most Washingtonians but one that performs a vital role in recommending raises for most federal employees." Including IRS employees.
Were Mr. Rogers alive, he might ask, "Can you say conflict of interest?"
And furthermore, the Internal Revenue Service is facing a class action lawsuit alleging that more than 60 million personal medical records were improperly seized by agents from the embattled agency.
Restaurant Review: Olive Garden; East Vancouver, WA
It's easy to mock the Olive Garden chain. Just as Domino's and Pizza Hut blanderized the pizza pie in an effort to offend no one in Iowa or South Dakota, Olive Garden once specialized in inoffensive and forgettable dishes approved by focus-groups anywhere in the U.S. where the Italian demographic was low.
In the 1950s, there were thousands of wonderful mom-and-pop Italian eateries, ranging from plain-jane places with linoleum-topped tables to fancier establishments with indirect lighting and wall murals. All offered wonderful Italian food. But the owners got old and wanted to retire. Unfortunately, their children - having gone to college and now working in high-paying, dress-up desk jobs - had no interest in slaving over a hot kitchen stove. Most of these neighborhood establishments closed. And Olive Garden moved in.
The Vancouver Mall location once provided us with one of the worst dining experiences ever. Bland food, terrible teenybopper service in an atmosphere reminiscent of a low-end retirement home dining hall.
Several years ago ... (more >>>)
Question Of The Day is from Thomas Sowell: "Why do we drive on the parkway and park on the driveway?"
Wednesday May 15, 2013
"The All New '57 Big M Is On The Way." So proclaimed a Mercury automobile ad from the period. It spoke of Dream Car design, referring to the sleek 1956 XM Turnpike Cruiser concept car which made its public debut at the Cleveland Auto Show in January 1956 and inspired the look of the radically-restyled 1957 Mercury line.
I've always liked the looks of the '57 Merc but never owned a real one. I do have a few examples in my model car collection, including a very nice 1:43 scale handbuilt white metal four-door Turnpike Cruiser made by the British firm, Mini Marque.
This peach and persimmon example is one of very few produced; I purchased it new in 1988.
I also have a couple of low-cost ... (more >>>)
Barack Milhous Obama's Scandals du Jour: Conservative groups seeking information from the Environmental Protection Agency have been routinely hindered by fees normally waived for media and watchdog groups, while fees for more than 90% of requests from green groups were waived.
If that's not enough, the same IRS office that deliberately targeted conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status in the run-up to the 2012 election released nine pending confidential applications of conservative groups according to ProPublica, a liberal media group.
The IRS came after Billy Graham, too, his son charged in a letter to President Barack Obama. With the IRS admitting it gave extra scrutiny to conservative political organizations, Graham says he now believes that the review was part of an Obama administration effort of "targeting and attempting to intimidate us." What are the odds that someone possessing the longtime ethics and proven integrity of Billy Graham or his son would be involved in tax evasion?
Pro Life groups reported being harassed as far back as early 2009. One was told their directors had to swear under perjury never to show up outside Planned Parenthood.
We have a president in the White House who referred to Americans who disagree with him as "our enemies" - an example of extreme Nixonian presidential thinking. When Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush used the word "enemy," they reserved it for global terrorists and foreign despots - actual foes of our sovereign nation. Obama's foes are ordinary U.S. citizen-taxpayers.
This is beginning to feel like Watergate squared.
Who Knew? Ariel Castro, the abominable Cleveland serial kidnapper, is a registered Democrat.
"When the identity or the party affiliation is yet unknown, the pattern is to speculate publicly about the possibility of the criminal being a conservative, Christian, white, Republican, and a Tea Party member - and never that he could be a Hispanic Democrat voter playing bass in a meringue band."
Or the media would speculate that the perp is a gun-totin', rage-filled NRA member.
"However, when a real act of war on women is perpetrated by a Democrat voter in the manner that even the most zealous Democrat strategist couldn't have dreamed up in their worst nightmares - involving abduction, imprisonment, rape, torture, malnutrition, beatings while pregnant, and killing babies - the media doesn't think the party affiliation is relevant."
In the next breath, we're told that the mainstream media is unbiased.
A Gift From The East: Last week, my brother sent the latest offering from Tastykake - Kandy Bar Kakes, described as peanut butter creme-filled cakes, enrobed in chocolate and made with Reese's peanut butter.
The company's website calls it: "The Best of Both Worlds! The taste of a candy bar, the freshness of Tastykake!"
There are five in a box; each bar is individually ... (more >>>)
Book Review: 'The Age Of Edison: Electric Light and the Invention of Modern America' by Ernest Freeberg
The little egotist in all of us believes that before we were born there was nothing. We watched the rise of computers, followed by the internet, followed by the web and decided that it was The Most World-Changing Event Ever. Have no fear, little ego, Ernest Freeburg's book will set you straight.
The electric light profoundly changed everything, providing cultural and societal changes in the late 19th and early 20 Century that may equal or even dwarf those shifts brought about by the internet revolution. The book is a historical overview which focuses more on the social impact of electric light rather than technical details. It's full of stories about popular culture of the time and the changes, both large and small, caused by the lighting of America, mostly during the 1880-1920 period.
The era's foibles are captured too: there were many sociologists who fought against the proliferation of electric lamps in the belief that such light was "unnatural" and that it endangered the family togetherness fostered by gathering around a single oil lamp at night. Some physicians said ... (more >>>)
Bad Pun of the Day: A sandwich walks into a bar. The bartender says, "Sorry, we don't serve food in here."
Tuesday May 14, 2013
Electrifying: According to Dan Neil the all-electric Fiat 500e "is just awesome, a nutty electric elf of a car. All dressed up in Playskool aero pieces and available in Life Savers colors, the 500e feels like the big-kid toy the Fiat 500 always wanted to be, with an otherworldly electric hum to go with its whimsical aesthetics."
The electro-Fiat has a range of 87 miles. California car buyers can lease one of these elves for $999 down and $199 a month. Fiat claims it's losing $10,000 on each one produced.
IRS Scandal: Unless you've been living in a cave or in drug rehab with Lindsay Lohan, you already know the story of the IRS targeting conservative groups for special scrutiny and audits.
The Internal Revenue Service's scrutiny of conservative groups went beyond those that had "tea party" or "patriot" in their names. Also targeted were groups that raised concerns over government spending, debt or taxes - even ones that lobbied to "make America a better place to live."
The timeline for the story continues to evolve, At first, we were informed that this mischief started in 2012. Then we were told it was 2011. Now it's 2010.
In the near future, we'll probably find out it actually began on Inauguration Day 2009.
But Wait, There's More: Obama's Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for the Associated Press in what the AP's top executive called a "massive and unprecedented intrusion" into how news organizations gather the news.
I feel like I'm reliving the Nixon Years. Maybe articles of impeachment are just around the corner.
The Sharper Image Stores Are Turning Their Graves: Here's another product you never knew you needed: a portable watermelon refrigerator on wheels. It retails for $200.
Quote Of The Day is from Will Rogers: "The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn't get worse every time Congress meets."
Monday May 13, 2013
Happy Birthday: This blog is now nine years old. To put things into perspective, that would be 63 in dog years - which would transport a human back to 1950. Or 927 Internet years, which would go back to the times of the Domesday Book and Monty Python's "Bring out yer dead!"
But I digress.
The View Through The Windshield debuted on May 13, 2004. You can view the earliest of posts here. You'll notice that there were few images in '04 - in those days, most people, including me, still had dial-up and I didn't want to slow down page-loading any more than necessary.
My blog is self-described as "about cars ... and everything else that catches my eye." True dat. I usually lead off almost every posting with something vehicle-related. These days, that's becoming harder to do.
There seems to be less auto news now than in prior years, when the foibles of the Detroit Three left them tied to the railroad track of financial ruin like poor Nell Fenwick, while the big locomotive of payback came steaming down the tracks. Today ... not so much. Curses!
Non-automotive postings include news articles which I find significant or humorous, nostalgic items as well as my opinions on social and political issues. And lots of other stuff, including business or economic subjects.
My wife and I have done a bit of traveling in the in the last 12 months and I've documented it with photos, observations and recommendations. Last June, we visited Hood River, Oregon. In September, we drove to Vancouver, B.C. In February, we flew to Arizona for two weeks.
I continue to publish chapters in the series, 'AutoBiography: Cars In My Life'. I expect to complete it this Fall. Back in 2008, I wrote one book review. I've reviewed 15 so far in 2013. I've also posted 32 restaurant reviews so far this year.
Even though I'm only a few months shy of 70, I'm feeling fine and the health problems that plagued me from 2010 to 2012 are gone. I hope they stay that way. I'm also happy because the stock market is up despite the sluggish economy, probably because people have nowhere else to put their money. The latest AAA magazine carried a two-page ad which touted money market accounts yielding 0.70% per year.
Most of my website traffic goes to the main blog page - it out-pulls any other interior page by tenfold. Traffic to the blog page is down by slightly under 4% compared with last year - not bad considering the public's move to mobile devices and Tweets for information. Over the past year, several blogs have gone inactive; many more contain noticeably fewer posts than in 2012.
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, Linked-In, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, RSS feeds or podcasts - too much of a pain in the ass, in my opinion. I think most 'social networking' stuff is a bunch of crap and, if I had anything to say about it, would fade away soon - just as CB radio did in the late '70s. Ten-four, good buddy.
Furthermore, I don't want 'Facebook friends'. If you are a real friend, you'll fly out here and buy me a couple of drinks.
Sometimes I struggle to find or develop content. On certain days, it seems there is nothing worth writing about. I'm not alone in this. Regarding his extensive and enjoyable website and blog, the prolific James Lileks recently wrote, "I hate to start an entry with "man, I'm done, tapped, drained, bereft of even a trace of remnant zilch" because then I know I'll go on for 1,395 words on something of no consequence. And it's such a boring way to begin."
I understand, James, I hit dry spells, too.
Lileks added, "There was no golden age for this site. Some things are better and some things less so, but there's always something, and besides I don't believe in Golden Ages at all, anyway. Time removes the anxieties and leaves only the certainties."
Looking at the archival pages of The View Through The Windshield, I find no 'golden age' for my blog either. Some days may be better than others but, over a month, things average out.
Ric at the late, great Pugs of War also wrote about the difficulty of sustained blogging, "I look at Joe Sherlock's excellent 'View Through the Windshield' and see how it's done: interesting aggregation with intelligent comments done with regularity." Thanks, Ric, but, as you know, it's not as easy as it looks.
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 internet, this micro-fiber blog will continue to cling to its fabric for a while longer.
In the meantime, here's to the beginning of another year: Cheers! (permalink)
Friday May 10, 2013
Happy Mother's Day to all moms (especially mine) - whoever and wherever they may be:
Thursday May 9, 2013
Little Racers: In case you've forgotten, slot cars are those little powered vehicles that run on grooved raceway track. A pin or blade extends from the bottom of the car into the groove or slot.
The modern electric slot car can be traced to Scalex British models introduced in 1957.
By the early '60s, the slot car craze hit the U.S., when Aurora Plastics introduced injection molded HO-scale slot cars. In three years, over 1.5 million little slot cars had been produced.
"By 1963, the Wall Street Journal reported that the model car racing market was worth $100 million dollars. By 1965 there were more commercial venues to go and race model cars than there were bowling alleys in the United States."
In the late 1960s ... (more >>>)
Right Now, He's Probably Pinstriping The Pearly Gates: Customizing legend Dean Jeffries has died at age 80. While in the U.S. Army stationed in Germany, he learned the art of pinstriping from a German furniture and piano striper. Upon returning to California, he continued his education under Kenneth 'Von Dutch' Howard. This lead to a job as George Barris' in-house pinstriper. Mobil Oil hired Jeffries to paint and stripe many of Indy race cars in the 1950s.
Jeffries not only striped James Dean's ill-fated Porsche 550 Spyder with the nickname 'Li'l Bastard', but, as a fabricator/builder, constructed the iconic 1932 Ford three-window coupe used on the cover of the Beach Boys' 'Little Deuce Coupe' album. Jefferies created The Monkeemobile as well as Black Beauty from the 'Green Hornet' television series and the moon buggy that James Bond steals in 'Diamonds Are Forever'.
One of Jeffries' most famous custom creations was ... (more >>>)
Not What It Seems: Last week's Jobs Report seemed ho-hum on the surface but the more you drill down, the worse the numbers become. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased by 0.1 hour to 33.7 hours. Karl Denninger noted, "Applied to the employed population this amounts to an imputed economic decrease of 718,620 jobs! That is, the loss of work-week hours of just 0.2 is the same economic impact as firing 700,000 people!"
And the unemployment rate among young adults remains stubbornly high. In fact, Young adult unemployment is at highest sustained rate since World War II. "The effective youth unemployment rate is 16.1%, and with about 2 million college students graduating this month, there is no sign of an economic recovery for my generation. It is a rough time to be a young person in America," said Evan Feinberg, President of Generation Opportunity.
Another Sign Of End Times: There is now a Pop-Tart flavored vodka.
The next logical step is to replace the flat noodles in lasagna with layers of Pop Tarts. Homer Simpson would undoubtedly say, "Mmmmmmm. Sugary lasagna."
Do The Math: Amnesty will cost taxpayers $6.3 trillion, according to the Heritage Foundation.
"The study shows that, in 2010, the average illegal-immigrant household received $24,721 in government benefits and services while paying $10,334 in taxes, creating a fiscal deficit (benefits received minus taxes paid) of $14,387 that must be borne by other taxpayers. That figure "would soar," the study says, if those illegal immigrants were given legal status, and therefore made eligible for federal welfare programs, which even immigrant households here legally are more likely to receive than U.S.-born households. Under the Gang of Eight's proposal, the average illegal-immigrant household would produce a net fiscal deficit of nearly $600,000 over the course of a lifetime, the study found."
It should be noted that 57.4% of Mexican immigrants are ... (more >>>)
Key Takeaways From Wednesday's House Oversight Committee hearing on Benghazi Hearing:
Quote Of The Day is from Alexis de Tocqueville: "A man's admiration of absolute government is proportionate to the contempt he feels for those around him."
Tuesday May 7, 2013
History Repeats Itself: CEO Sergio Marchionne wants to merge Chrysler and Fiat. Chrysler's profit was down 65% for the 1st quarter of 2013, although it is selling cars at well above its 100,000 per month break-even point - almost 157,000 units in April.
Sales of Ram pickup trucks are brisk; the Ram brand outsold GMC is April. Fiat, excluding its 58.5% stake in Chrysler, lost over $300 million during the quarter. It was the Italian automaker's seventh straight quarter of red ink.
AutoExtremist Peter De Lorenzo has written that the Fiat-Chrysler 'merger' - more like a twisted-up Gordian knot of perverted capitalism - was "never about saving Chrysler or rescuing its poor, downtrodden minions. And it was never about doing good for the perennially mocked City of Detroit or the domestic automobile industry for that matter, either. For Marchionne it was about taking over Chrysler, sucking every last dime out of it and using those profits to bolster Fiat, the Italian automaker whose reign as a perennial joke in this business goes back multiple decades."
Fiats have a bad reputation in Europe. Most people who live in Italy don't buy them because Fiat quality is so abysmal.
In Consumer Reports' Annual Auto Issue, the lowest rated ... (more >>>)
Book Run: On Monday, I headed out to the library - those books I review don't just fall from heaven, you know. Since the skies were near-summer azure, exceptional clear and the temperature at 10 am was already 66 degrees, I decided to drive my '39 Plymouth coupe.
Afterwards, I headed east to my favorite back road and enjoyed a pleasant outing on near-empty macadam. As the road swung to the left, I got a glimpse of that giant Hostess Sno-Ball known as Mt. St. Helens, which is giving no indication that it will explode again anytime soon.
I returned home before it got too hot outside; the temperature eventually reached 86.
It's A Gay, Gay, Gay, Gay World: First Lady Michelle Obama will attend a fundraiser later in May with Jason Collins, a mediocre NBA player who rose from relative obscurity when he became the first openly gay athlete on a major men's U.S. sports team.
The fundraiser will be held in New York City for the Democratic National Committee and will honor the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender "community." I'm not sure where this community is located - probably near NYC. I guess you'll have to find it by driving around neighborhoods until you see an odd mix of Jeep Wranglers, Mazda Miatas and Subaru Outbacks in driveways and children wandering around with confused looks on their faces.
This will be the first time the First Lady has fundraised with a gay man who isn't her husband. Barack Obama said at a recent press conference, "He seems like a terrific young man, and I told him I couldn't be prouder." He telephoned Collin ... (more >>>)
You're Judged By The Company You Keep: Barack Obama has nominated a racist lowlife to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency. North Carolina Rep. Mel Watt has said of white people, "I've got no use for them in the democratic process."
Watt has also said that the Voting Rights Act should be expanded and have districts changed to factor in race-based voting and help minority candidates. He acknowledged "some" white people would support a black candidate, but said voters who refuse should be "factored out."
Nothing new here, folks: just another leftist in favor of denying people basic human rights. Especially white people.
Watt also claimed that black voters - unlike white voters - don't have "an absolute commitment" to voting for a candidate based on race. In 2004, Green Party candidate Ralph Nader also accused Watt of "using an obscene racial epithet" against him during a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus - that reprehensible pack of racist whiners which Watt used to lead.
Speaking Of The Company You Keep ... here's some interesting information about NYC Mayor Bloomberg's transportation secretary Janette Sadik-Khan. She is "the granddaughter of Imam Alimjan Idris, a Nazi collaborator and principle teacher at an SS school for Imams under Hitler's Mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini. The bio of his son, Wall Street executive Orhan Sadik-Khan, frequently mentions the bombing of the family home in Dresden and surviving trying times after World War II. It neglects to mention that the times were only trying because their side was losing."
In 1933, Idris wrote a letter asking why Allah would have chosen the Jews, whom he described as "the most despicable, repulsive and corrupting nation on earth."
Fox Guarding Hen House Dept.: The Air Force's sexual assault prevention chief has been removed from his job after his arrest for sexual assault.
Restaurant Review: Tiger Lily Restaurant & Bar; Vancouver, WA
Let's start with the name. When this restaurant opened late last year, I figured that it offered some kind of Asian food. Turns out, it's primarily a burger joint. Who knew?
This unlucky location was once a hairdressing school and has hosted a plethora of failed restaurants ever since. The tables are quite spread out and the place seems too upscale for a sandwich purveyor. The decor is generic with no obvious connection to much of anything, especially the restaurant's name.
The food is good and prices are fairly modest, but ... (more >>>)
Joke Of The Day: A group of Americans were traveling by tour bus through Holland. They stopped at a cheese farm and a young guide led them through the process of cheese making, explaining that goat's milk was used.
She showed the group a lovely hillside where many goats were grazing. "These are the older goats put out to pasture when they no longer produce," she explained.
She then asked, "What do you do in America with your old goats?"
A spry old gentleman answered, "They send us on bus tours."
Monday May 6, 2013
Blue Skies: We've been having wonderful weather lately - clear skies with great views of the hills and mountains and temperatures ranging from the upper 40s at night to the upper 70s to mid-80s during the afternoon. This is very unusual for early May.
On Saturday at 8:20 am - the temperature was already at 58 degrees, I fired up my '39 Plymouth and went for a very pleasant ride along the mostly-empty back roads of North Clark County.
The weather is supposed to be beautiful this week as well. I hope to enjoy some more fun rides in my old car.
From The Good Book: Jeremy Clarkson often uses the word 'Epic' in describing aspects of automobiles. But sometimes, it is better to refer to something more Old Testament from - say - Ezekiel: "The wheels had also a size, and a height, and a dreadful appearance." Absolutely 'Biblical'. Or mega-donk.
Pack Of Lies: I highly recommend Steve Hayes' article about Benghazi. It is an indictment of the Most Dishonest Administration Ever.
Not mentioned in the article is the fact that Obama initially blamed the uprising on an obscure, anti-Muslim YouTube video produced in the U.S. It turned out that the video had nothing to do with the events; Benghazi was a well-planned operation with al Qaeda involvement. Another falsehood.
Journalist/blogger Doug Ross has constructed a timeline from Stephen Hayes and the House Oversight Committee that leads to, in his words, "four inescapable conclusions":
Wednesday's hearing should be very interesting.
Save A Tree: There was bad news last week for the once-legendary Washington Post newspaper. "Daily circulation fell over 7.2%, Sunday circulation (a huge revenue day) fell by 7.7%, and overall advertising revenue fell by 8%."
As media from television to billboards bounce back from the recession, newsprint is being left behind. The fact is newspaper ad revenue has been dropping since 2000. There are so many ways to get news and information these days and print is near the bottom of my list. Probably everyone else's too.
Quote Of The Day is from William F. Buckley: "A liberal is someone who wants to reach into your shower and adjust the temperature of the water."
Friday May 3, 2013
April Auto Sales: Spring Forward means that, with improving weather, buyers usually head to car showrooms. Light vehicle sales were at a 14.9 million SAAR in April, up 6% from April 2012 but down 2% from last month.
Ford Motor Co. sales increased 18%, GM & Chrysler were up 11%. Honda sales rose 7%; Acura increased sales by 14% to 13,899 units. Nissan and Subaru jumped by 25%. VW sales were down 10% in April.
Toyota sales declined 2%, although 6,321 Avalons were sold in April - a 120% leap, handily outselling the Ford Taurus (5,887 sedans). Toyota lowered sales expectations because it is trimming fleet sales, according to Group VP Bill Fay. Toyota's focus is boosting more profitable sales to individuals, rather than fleets, for the remainder of the year.
Sales of Toyotas to car rental companies and businesses were about 14% of the brand's U.S. volume in March. In contrast, fleet sales accounted for about 33% of Chevrolet's overall sales in April. Fleet sales at Buick were 13% and 12% at Cadillac. 13,230 Caddys were sold in April - a jump of 34%.
Honda sales increased 7%. You'll rarely see a Honda or Acura product on a rental car lot; the company has a long-standing policy of discouraging fleet sales of its products in the U.S. Acura sales grew 14% year-over-year in April.
The Ford brand is on a roll; 204,969 Blue Oval-badged vehicles left dealer lots in April - a healthy 18% increase over last year. Truck sales are so good that Ford is adding over 2,000 jobs at its Kansas City assembly plant. Lincoln sales rose 21% to a meager 7,615 units, led by the MKZ which jumped 115% to 4,012 units. Supply problems choked MKZ sales last month; the coming months will tell whether the relatively big sales number is sustainable. Of course, new Lincoln sedan models always sell well in the first year.
The Ford Fusion - based on the same platform as the Lincoln MKZ - is a big winner with 26,722 sold in April, a jump of 24% over 2012.
Ram truck sales up an impressive 49%; the Ram outsold GMC for April. But the Chrysler 300 sedan saw sales drop 47% to 4,120 units. 3,899 Fiats were sold, about the same as April 2012.
Lexus sales increased 3%; 700 LS sedans were sold during the month.
Finally, 207 Bentleys, 84 Rolls Royces, 46 Lamborghinis found good homes in April.
Waste-O-Money: A new survey shows that 41% of college graduates of the last two years are in jobs that don't require a college degree. Many of those graduates have huge student loans to pay off.
The college education bubble is about to burst. You don't need a Modern Languages degree to ask, "You want fries with that?"
We're Crowd-Funding Terrorists: The Tsarnaev family, including the Boston terrorists and their parents, benefited from more than $100,000 in taxpayer-funded assistance - a bonanza ranging from cash and food stamps to Section 8 housing from 2002 to 2012.
"The breadth of the benefits the family was receiving was stunning," said a person with knowledge of documents handed over to a legislative committee today.
And you thought these grifters came over here for "political asylum," right? Right.
The sad thing is, no government facilitator - grunt or high-level appointee - will be fired over this boondoggle.
Memorable Date: Fifty-four years ago, May 3rd was drilled into my brain during my Junior year at St. Joe's Prep.
For six months, Father Pichla kept reminding us that he was taking on us on a field trip to see a steel mill on that date. Except, with his accent, he pronounced it May Turd. Then three weeks before the trip he got pissed off at the class for some minor infraction and canceled it.
"Dat's it! No May Turd trip for youse," he yelled. Therefore, I've never toured a steel mill. I don't think I missed anything.
Bessemer converter, my ass.
Book Review: 'The Tinkerers: The Amateurs, DIYers, and Inventors Who Make America Great' by Alec Foege
I wanted to like this book and found the first chapter enticing. But the story quickly devolved into a mixed study of quirkiness and selected stories of inventors and their inventions tossed in for good measure.
'The Tinkerers' is devoid of how-tos and recommendations, although author Foege is dismayed that tinkering is becoming a lost art. At the end, he writes, "I deliberately have avoided filling this book with prescriptions for educational reform or remedies for reordering America's priorities and values, because I think such assessments tend to be wildly subjective and scolding." Why write the book then? If tinkering made America great, maybe it did so because of a bit of scolding, mixed with encouragement and a push in the right direction.
Question Of The Day is from Steven Wright: "How do you tell when you're out of invisible ink?"
Wednesday May 1, 2013
Transport Photorama: Whenever I travel, I try to visit local antique car shows, exhibits and/or transport museums. For me, old autos, trains and trolleys offer up pleasant, nostalgic memories of times past.
I've posted a list with links to all the car and train photo pages on this website. These photos were taken at various locations from 1996 onward. Enjoy!
Lack Of Interest: I talked with one of my car buddies last week (he's my age), who sighed, "There's nothing out there that interests me." I must confess that I'm suffering from a touch of automotive ennui myself. Nevertheless, you can be sure that when the new 2014 Corvette hits the showroom, I'll be dropping by a Chevy dealer to check it out in person.
I doubt that I'll buy one, though. I sat in a C6 model several years ago and found that entry and exit was a mildly painful experience for me. I did fit in it OK (it's wide enough for me and other fat guys trying to recapture their youth) but I couldn't picture myself entering/exiting this car as I aged. I plotted my decreasing levels of athleticism and my increasing levels of old-guy aches and pains over the last 8-10 years and extrapolated them out 8-10 years into the future.
I rarely see 70-somethings behind the wheel of low-slung sports cars and, when I do, they're always little wiry guys. You know, the ones that live to be 100 - and they're still little and wiry at the century mark. God bless 'em. Unfortunately, that's not me. I've never been described as 'wiry'.
My car buddy said he doesn't need a new car and neither do I. Based on our present driving habits, my wife's 2005 Avalon won't hit the 100,000 mile mark until 2025. I don't expect my 2008 Lexus to reach that milestone until I'm 90 years old.
I guess if I ever want to blow money on car stuff, I'd probably plow it into my '39 Plymouth.
Uncivilized World: Almost 900 people died in one of the worst manufacturing disasters in history. Pointed questions were being raised about why a Bangladesh eight-story garment factory building was not padlocked after terrified workers notified the police, government officials and a powerful garment industry group about cracks in the walls.
Bangladeshi fire officials say the upper floors of Rana Plaza were illegally constructed. Bangladesh is the world's second-leading exporter of apparel, and the domestic garment industry depends on a low wage formula in which the minimum wage is about $37 a month.
In the developed, civilized world (Canada, U.S., Great Britain, Western Europe), one almost never hears of buildings collapsing, even after a major earthquake. We have construction codes which are enforced.
Many areas of the world may have cell phones, vehicles, shopping plazas and internet, but they lack the engineering and regulatory infrastructure that developed nations take for granted.
Golden Cliff: Gold, the shiny commodity which sold for almost $2,000 per ounce a couple of years ago, has crashed.
Scott Grannis has written, "It looks like gold is on its way to re-linking to commodity prices, with a likely price target of $900-1000/oz." Maybe even lower, since overreaction at both ends of the scale is not uncommon in commodities markets.
In late 2008, gold began to ... (more >>>)
Joke Of The Day: A blonde was sitting on the train, reading a newspaper. Its headline blared: '12 Brazilian Soldiers Killed'. She shook her head at the sad news, puzzled. Then she turned to the stranger seated next to her and asked, "Excuse me. How many is a Brazilian?"
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