A Blog About Cars ... And Everything Else That Catches My Eye
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Friday June 28, 2013
AutoSketch: 1949 Lincoln Cosmopolitan - Sad Sack
Lincoln was Edsel Ford's pet. As Edsel got sicker and sicker, he lost interest in worldly things and the brand lost direction. After Edsel's death in 1943, Henry Ford wanted to kill off all Mercury and Lincoln post-war models and concentrate on a new small Ford (the Light Car project, which eventually became the French Ford Vedette) and return automobiles to a Model T-like simplicity.
When grandson Henry II took over for the increasingly-wacky Henry I, he quickly assembled a management team and swept away many of the proposed new models. Based on efficiency and best use of limited funds, the old, troublesome Lincoln V-12 was ditched as were the money-losing Continental and factory limousines. The hidden headlights of the proposed Lincoln were replaced by tunneled headlights in stainless steel surrounds, saving more money and simplifying assembly. Two model lines were offered: a Mercury-based entry-level Lincoln model and a longer wheelbase, more luxurious Cosmopolitan.
But there was still no one to champion the Lincoln brand. The styling was modern, envelope styling with lines a bit reminiscent of the unfortunate bathtub Packard. The car carried almost no visual cues to earlier Lincoln models. The tunneled lights combined with the downward slope of the grille gave the car a sad face. That cantankerous V-12 was replaced by ... (more >>>)
Fish Wrap: The Oregonian, the largest daily newspaper in Oregon, will only be printed for home delivery three days per week: Wednesday, Friday and Sunday beginning October 1st.
The Oregonian retains its title as The Worst Large City Newspaper I've ever experienced. It has held said title for 35 years. Even in 1978, the Oregonian was mostly a wire service paste-up job, with vacuous local writing and near-zero investigative journalism. By comparison, other big city newspapers tried harder and produced an admirable product, even if ... (more >>>)
Happy Anniversary: My mom and dad would have been married 72 years today.
Question Of The Day: Can vegetarians eat animal crackers?
Wednesday June 26, 2013
Sounds Like The Name Of A Butler: The Vencer Sarthe is a Dutch-built 220 mph mid-engined supercar.
Manufacturer Vencer says it will be "a tube steel and chrome-moly chassis attached to a honeycomb aluminum floor. Top Gear says a '510-bhp Corvette V8' sits behind the driver, to which a six-speed manual is bolted. Vencer says the car's carbon fiber bodywork helps keep the weight near 3,064 pounds."
Light weight and high power team up to propel the supercar to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds. It looks kinda McLarenish to me.
How To Succeed In The Restaurant Business: In the world of new businesses, dining establishments have the highest failure rate of all. Opening a restaurant is complex and capital-intensive compared with many other start-ups. Eateries are typically not high-margin businesses, so there is little room for error. Average pre-tax profit margins range from 2-6% (2% for full-service and 6% for limited-service places like pizzerias).
During my many years as a business consultant, I advised numerous restaurants. Based on my experiences, I've discovered eight things you must do to achieve restaurant success ... (more >>>)
Book Review: 'Ike and Dick: Portrait of a Strange Political Marriage' by Jeffrey Frank
They certainly were the odd couple. Ike, smiling, friendly, grandfatherly type on the outside with the credentials of a genuine hero. But, while quite familiar with handling military politics, Eisenhower was somewhat ignorant of the way things are done in Washington, D.C.
Nixon, felt, looked and acted like an underdog. Earnest and ambitious, he made a name for himself relentlessly and skillfully exposing of Communists in government, especially the State Department.
Paired up as running mates in the 1952 election, Eisenhower didn't select Nixon and when a minor fund scandal threatened the new VP candidate, Ike left him to twist in the wind. Nixon had to save himself with the famous Checkers Speech.
Ike wanted to be semi-retired president, so he had time to play golf, fish and hobnob with his old buddies, including white Freeman Godsen, who did the voice of black Amos on the 'Amos 'n' Andy' radio show. Nixon was excluded from most of these events. These and other Eisenhower slights including demeaning jibes, made Nixon insecure and ... (more >>>)
Remember Elsie The Cow? James Lileks does. And he critiques an ad where Elsie's cooking hot dogs in a cartoonish way. "She's training hot dogs, which are made from minced portions of her own species, to jump through hoops prior to being incinerated and chewed. At what point in the hot-dog making process they become animate and self-aware, I don't know, but if that's the case then they're little brown Zombie Tubes, when you think about it. So don't."
Created in the 1930s to symbolize the "perfect dairy product" in print ads, Elsie also appeared in Borden's radio spots in the 1940s. She always seemed happy with a smile you never see on real cows.
Which makes that whole Laughing Cow product line cynical in a way only the French can pull off. La vache qui rit, my derrière. A proper French cow cartoon character would have a slight sneer while smoking Gauloises.
Bad Pun Of The Day: She was engaged to a man with a wooden leg but soon broke it off.
Monday June 24, 2013
Dead Dodge? An article in Ward's Auto suggests that the Dodge brand may not be long for this world.
"The brand will have no bread-and-butter midsize sedan after the Avenger ends production early next year, leaving a gaping hole in its portfolio, which already was severely trimmed by the decision to move the manufacturer's pickups from Dodge to the recently created Ram brand."
There are several ominous signs ... (more >>>)
How Effective Is The INS? Everyone is busy talking about immigration reform but most of our problems come from lack of enforcement of existing laws. I routinely see news stories of illegal immigrants being caught and released. And Obama's uncle is still here.
Dave Burge (aka Iowahawk) has tweeted, "Government has to scrape all your phone calls and e-mails because government forgot to enforce immigration law on 20 expired visas in 2001." Indeed.
Restaurant Review: La Bottega; Vancouver, WA
Bottega means 'shop' in Italian. La Bottega describes itself as an Italian cafe, deli and wine shop.
Located just north of downtown in Uptown Village (a mixed area that combines quirkily charming shoppes with borderline seedy establishments) in what must have been a former garage or machine shop, La Bottega still has an old roll-up industrial door and ancient mounting holes for equipment in the concrete floor.
The decor is funky and random - not in a good way. Old books line window shelves. A 1930s porcelain appliance serves as the hostess stand. About half the space is dedicated to the deli and prep area while the other half is the dining area with old tables and heavy, primitive industrial chairs. This place sorely needs a decorator's touch.
At the rear of the restaurant, a corner is devoted to the very small wine shop. The deli seemed ... (more >>>)
Execrable Economist: I have always enjoyed Scott Adam's 'Dilbert' strip and had a really good laugh at a recent cartoon featuring a short, bearded, obnoxious "Nobel-winning" economist who looked suspiciously like Paul Krugman.
Kevin D. Williamson of National Review has said, "Ask a conservative who is the worst and most destructive writer on the subject of economics, and the answer is bound to be Paul Krugman."
The diminutive economist and op-ed columnist for the New York Times seems to be wrong much of the time ... (more >>>)
I Guess No Sexy Goats Were Available: A University of Washington neurobiology student is accused of having sex with a 12-year-old girl he picked up in the University District has been charged with child rape
Currently free after posting bond, UW Senior Omar Abdelbadie is alleged to have plied the girl with marijuana, brought her back to his apartment and had sex with her hours after they met. Abdelbadie, a 22-year-old Egyptian-born Muslim and member of CAIR "was described by prosecutors as a threat to community safety."
He has been charged with second-degree child rape and has lived in the U.S. for the past eight years.
Kathy Shaidle offers this ... (more >>>)
Blonde Joke: Three young ladies were all applying for the last available position on the detective bureau. The detective conducting the interview looked at the three of them and said, "So you want to be cops, huh?"
The blondes all nodded.
The detective got up, opened a file drawer and pulled out a folder. He opened it, pulled out a picture, and said, "To be a detective, you have to be able to detect. You must be able to notice things such as distinguishing features and oddities like scars and so forth."
He then stuck the photo in the face of the first blonde and withdrew it after about two seconds, asking, "Did you notice any distinguishing features about this man?"
The blonde immediately said, "Yes, I did. He has only one eye!" The detective shook his head and said, "Of course he has only one eye in this picture! It's a profile of his face, you ninny! You're dismissed." The blonde hung her head and walked out of the office.
The detective then turned to the second blonde, stuck the photo in her face for two seconds, pulled it back and said, "What about you? Notice anything unusual or outstanding about this man?"
"Yes! He only has one ear!" The detective put his head in his hands and exclaimed, "Didn't you hear what I just told the other lady? This is a profile of the man's face! Of course you can only see one ear! Dismissed!" The second blonde sheepishly left the office.
He detective turned his attention to the third blonde, said, "This is probably a waste of time ...", flashed the photo in her face for a couple of seconds and withdrew it, asking, "Did you notice anything distinguishing or unusual about this man?"
The blonde said, "I sure did. He's weating contact lenses." The detective frowned, took another look at the picture and began looking at some of the papers in the folder. He looked up at the blonde with a puzzled expression and said, "Holy cow ... you're absolutely right! His bio says he wears contacts. How could you tell that by looking at that picture?"
She rolled her eyes and said, "Helloooo! With only one eye and one ear, he sure can't wear glasses."
Thursday June 20, 2013
Another View On BMW: Financial analyst Malcolm Berko has observed that "demand for BMWs in Europe has collapsed and, though auto sales in the U.S. remain strong, dealers in the U.S. are having customer service problems. Though unit sales have increased, BMW dealers in the U.S. have reduced the number of service advisers to offset rising insurance and labor costs. An unhappy BMW owner I know in Georgia recently purchased a Lexus. And several months ago, a Mercedes-Benz dealer in Florida told me, "BMW is chasing their customers to us." I and others believe that BMW's revenues and profits will decline, so sell your shares and protect your gains."
Senseless Electrics: Recently, Didier Stevens, Toyota Europe's head of government affairs and environmental issues, said, "If the electricity is not sourced from renewables, then electric vehicles make little sense."
True dat. If ... (more >>>)
What If We Had Been Nice To Germans During WWII? The White House claims that tracking our every phone call and keystroke is merely to stop terrorists yet it won't snoop in mosques, where the terrorists are.
Since October 2011, mosques have been off-limits to FBI agents. Why? Because of pressure from Islamist groups who complained about FBI stings at mosques.
William Katz wrote, "We are becoming like Europe, indifferent to the realities of the world, obsessively sensitive to 'cultural differences'. The Obama administration is not liberal, but leftist, and believes in political correctness. It is part of their orbit." And our obit.
Death Comes In Threes: Popular fiction author Vince Flynn has died after a battle with prostate cancer at age 47.
Flynn authored 15 novels centered around the character of Mitch Rapp, an undercover CIA agent. The majority of his books made it to the New York Times bestseller list. I've read most of Flynn's books and enjoyed them.
James Gandolfini, the triple Emmy-winning actor who played mob boss Tony Soprano on The Sopranos, died of an apparent heart attack while on vacation in Italy. The New Jersey native was 51.
Country singer Slim Whitman, known for his yodeling skills and falsetto voice, died of heart failure at age 90. He sold millions of records through ubiquitous TV ads in the 1980s and gained cult status and a revived career through such blitzy commerical exposure. Now Slim and Boxcar Willie are together again, ridin' that Wabash Cannonball.
Requiescat in Pace.
Book Review: 'Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think' by Viktor Mayer-Schonberger and Kenneth Cukier.
The engineer part of me has always searched for data. Early in my career, I used to say to my fellow engineers, "Theorize all you want but it's all bullshit until you have empirical results." There were occasions when I ran tests, collected data and blew people's pet theories, rules of thumb and gut feelings out the window. Unfortunately, some of these erroneous assumptions had been authored by my superiors who were not pleased.
Data is used to spot trends so you can do something about them - take commercial advantage of a growing market, buy airline tickets at the best price, predict traffic jams and reroute vehicles. This is only possible because of the lower cost of computing power. The authors point out that, in 1986, "around 40% of the world's general-purpose computing power took the form of pocket calculators, which represented more processing power than personal computers at the time."
Technology has made the collection of data cheap and easy. This book shows the dramatic impact it will have on the economy, science, and society at large.
'Big Data' refers to our ever-expanding ability to process vast collections of information, analyze it almost instantly, and draw conclusions - often surprising ones - from it ... (more >>>)
Remember The Sequester? It didn't stop the Bureau of Land Management from spending almost $28,000 on screened t-shirts.
Quote Of The Day is from the late David Brinkley: "A successful person is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him or her."
Tuesday June 18, 2013
So, How Was Your Father's Day? For mine, I received lots of gifts, including a couple of cool scale models:
The Bentley Continental S2 was produced by Bentley from 1959 until 1962. The S2 featured the new V8 engine and improved air conditioning. Power steering was also standard, and a new dashboard and steering wheel were introduced. Numerous S2s featured coachwork bodies, such as this one offered by London coachbuilder Park Ward.
This low-cost diecast Yat Ming 1:43 scale model captures the shape and style of this burgundy S2 convertible.
Many years ago ... (more >>)
Father's Day Feast: What usually happens on Father's Day is we stay home. Good restaurants are too busy and service usually suffers. Either my wife makes a roast or I fire up the grill and cook filets mignon for everyone.
Back in 1992, my wife and I visited Memphis, Tennessee and discovered Corky's - a barbecue joint on the East side of town. It was delicious and, despite a relatively short stay in Memphis, we went back a second time. The beef brisket was the best I had ever tasted. Corky's BBQ is slow cooked over hickory wood and charcoal.
There are now three Corky's in Memphis, eight franchises and a large presence on the internet as well as QVC to sell 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 consumers across the U.S.
We ordered six pounds of beef brisket, six pounds of BBQ pork and four bottles of Corky's barbecue sauce, had it packed in dry ice and shipped FedEx to us. That's what we had for Father's Day dinner - a taste of Memphis. It was outstanding and a real treat for me. Everyone else enjoyed it, too.
My wife made 10 pounds (!!) of her Famous Potato Salad which was delicious and went well with the barbecue.
If you decide to order brisket from Corky's, here's a tip: the instructions give you the option of microwave heating or oven heating. Use the oven to slowly heat the food. Microwaving leaves the meat too tough; oven heating gives a great finish, leaving you with meat so tender that you can cut it with a fork - just like my Memphis memories from 21 years ago. (permalink)
Happy Anniversary: My wife and I have been married for 47 years today. That's a very long time to put up with me and I thank her profusely for her patience and love.
Oh, Here's Another Milestone: As I walked out to the garage to fire up my '39 Plymouth coupe on Monday morning, I realized that I got this car as a Father's Day present in 1994. So, it's been mine for 19 years.
I've owned this car longer than any other except one - my 1967 Volkswagen Beetle which I purchased new and kept for 28 years.
At 9:15 am, the weather was mostly sunny, although clouds to the north obscured Mt. St. Helens. Temperature was in the low 60s although it felt warmer in the sun. I wanted to get an old car drive in because rain is forecast for the rest of the week.
The roads were practically empty and I had a very enjoyable ride.
Heretical Harridan: House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi condemned a bill that would prohibit abortions during the final four months of pregnancy with exceptions for when the life or physical health of the mother was at stake.
Asked what the moral difference is between what Dr. Kermit Gosnell did to babies born alive and aborting those same infants moments before birth, Pelosi got annoyed refused to answer.
"As a practicing and respectful Catholic, this is sacred ground to me when we talk about this," Pelosi said. "I don't think it should have anything to do with politics."
This deplorable woman ... (more >>>)
Q&A from American Digest: "Grandpa, is it really true that in American anyone can grow up to be president?"
"Yes it is, Johnny. And Barack Obama proves it." And not in a good way either.
Thought For Today: If life gives you melons, maybe you're dyslexic.
Friday June 14, 2013
Quiet Anniversary: The Volkswagen Beetle is 75 years old this year but you won't hear much about it from VW officials.
There's still embarrassment about the Nazi heritage of the People's Car. Hitler envisioned a small, low-cost car for the masses and commissioned automotive engineer Ferdinand Porsche to develop one. VWs were sold using a state-run savings plan, which delivered the car only after payment was made in full.
Prospective customers were given books to fill up with special stamps issued when a payment was made. When the book was full, the loyal and trusting citizen would redeem his stamp-filled booklet for a new car. Of course, that never happened. Hitler used the stamp money to ... (more >>>)
Time Travel: It would be wonderful if I could travel back in time - say fifty years - and see my dad again on Father's Day. But, if I did, I'd have to bring him a gift. What would I choose?
Most of the tech stuff wouldn't work - no cell phones or internet-powered devices.
Most medical stuff wouldn't work either. No doctor would know what to do with a handful of stents.
I had a look at the Father's Day Cabela's catalog and found something useful that would also amaze him and his friends ... (more >>>)
Restaurant Review: Golden Tent Mongolian Grill; Vancouver, WA
Mongolian barbecue is a stir-fried dish that was popularized in Taiwanese restaurants four decades ago. Meat and vegetables are cooked in large, round, flat iron griddles at temperatures of up to 600 degrees. Legend has it that soldiers of the Mongol Empire often gathered large quantities of food and cooked them on their overturned shields over a large fire. Hence the name.
Diners begin by grabbing a bowl and heading to the buffet line, where they pick out meat, veggies and noodles then season them with a variety of sauces and oils.
Present your filled bowl to the cook who presides over huge solid iron plate and he will fry it up while you watch. After your selection is plated, you may garnish it with teriyaki sauce and/or peanuts. Then eat with gusto.
I saw my first Mongolian barbecue restaurant in ... (more >>>)
Joke Of The Day is from Henny Youngman: Guy goes to a doctor. Doc sez, "You'll live to be 60!" Patient: "I am 60!" Doc responds, "See! What did I tell you?"
Wednesday June 12, 2013
The Sky Was A Precarious Balance between Partly Cloudy and Partly Sunny on Monday - wobbling on the knife edge of the celestial scale. There had been lots of sun last week but the weather was now In Transition and rain was forecast.
By 1:00 pm, the temperature was still in the low 60s. Nevertheless, I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and took a short drive. At some spots, I was bathed in sunshine; drive a couple of hundred feet further and the world became joyless, dull and overcast. It all depended on the capriciousness - and the location - of the many puffy, seemingly-innocuous clouds.
The ride was pleasant and almost uneventful until I came upon an unfamiliar shape racing towards me from the opposite direction. It turned out to be a red Triumph TR7 convertible. I was shocked - I didn't know there were any still on the road. I hadn't seen a TR7 of any kind in over 20 years.
TR7s were pretty small by U.S. standards of the era - only 160 inches long. Because they were so low-slung - 50 inches tall, they looked swoopy rather than stubby.
These end-of-the-line Triumphs were so unreliable and prone to rust - thank you, British Leyland - that most went to the crusher. The convertible models were ... (more >>>)
Transit Troubles: The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (aka - SEPTA) is a metropolitan transportation authority that operates various forms of public transit serving people in and around Philadelphia, PA.
This government agency first took over the Philadelphia Transportation Company (PTC) in 1968. The system included buses, trolleys, trackless trolleys and various elevated and subway systems.
Later, SEPTA took over the Reading Company and the Pennsylvania Railroad commuter railroad lines. Now, SEPTA is in trouble. Fares cover only 29% of operating and capital costs.
Actually, that's ... (more >>>)
Congratulations ... to my cousin, Tommy Lyons, who just received the 2013 Golden Hawk Award from St. Joseph's Preparatory School in Philadelphia.
The Prep released a statement, noting that Tom Lyons (Class of 1960) "may be the walking definition of a 'Man for and with Others'. Throughout his life, Tom has worked to ensure that his success directly benefits his fellow man.
A native of Northeast Philadelphia's Oxford Circle section, Tom attended St. Martin of Tours. As a student at the Prep, he was a member of the freshman crew, acted in Cape and Sword and was a class officer. He then attended Saint Joseph's University, where he received a Bachelors degree in Marketing. After serving two years in the Army, he attended Temple University, where he earned a spot in Beta Gamma Sigma, the business honors society while attaining an MBA.
His professional career was spent in the Marketing Department of Astra Zeneca. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Pharmaceutical Marketing and Research Association. He also served as an adjunct professor at SJU, West Chester and University of the Sciences. After retiring from Astra Zeneca, he and a colleague formed AIM (Answers for Issues in Marketing) where he worked for five years.
That, however, does not adequately measure Tom. He ... (more >>>)
Bogus Trademarks: Last week, I ordered parts for my outdoor grill.
Looking at the owner's manual, I noticed that the manufacturer has trademarked numerous words and phrases, including 'Designer Series' (used by Lincoln in the 1970s and '80s; also by Rohm and Haas to describe a special offering of trendy Plexiglas colors), 'Longhorn' (every third steakhouse in America has this in its name), 'Ready When You Are' (an old Delta Airlines slogan, I believe), 'AutoClean' (self-cleaning ovens have carried such badges since the 1960s), 'QuickSet' (venerable brands of epoxy and concrete patching compounds, respectively), 'Commercial Series' (truck makers, tool manufacturers and hundreds of industrial suppliers have used this term since at least the 1930s), Precision Flame (used by gas utilities and home heating marketeers for decades) and 'You Bring The Party' (found in pre-Internet Yellow Page listings for thousands of 'erotic' massage parlors and escort services).
This sucks. Hey, I think I'll trademark that phrase and make you send me two bucks every time you use it. (permalink)
Book Review: 'Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians' by Paul Marshall, Lela Gilbert and Nina Shea
This is not a pleasant book. It contains documented accounts of the persecution - harassment, abuse, torture and murder - of Christians in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and former Soviet nations. A woman caught with a Bible is publicly shot to death. Priests, ministers and lay religious are abducted and never seen again. Three buses full of students and teachers are struck by roadside bombs. These stories of persecution and martyrdom will break your heart and make the book a difficult read at times.
The two major sources of anti-Christian persecution in the world are Islam and Communism. Christians are the world's most widely persecuted religious group, according to studies by the Pew Research Center, Newsweek, and the Economist.
Recently, Vatican spokesman Monsieur Silvano Maria Tomassi said, "Credible research has reached the shocking conclusion that an estimate of more than 100,000 Christians are violently killed because of some relation to their faith every year."
The U.S. government keeps telling us about our "friends," Turkey and Saudi Arabia, but these friends have decidedly anti-Christian attitudes. Saudi Arabia with its radical state religion, Wahabism, is one of the worst offenders. It's where al Qaeda movement began.
It is worth remembering that ... (more >>>)
Quote Of The Day is from Dave Burge: "Man, I feel like a sap for buying online storage when the NSA was doing it for free."
Monday June 10, 2013
Eighteen Billion Here, Eighteen Billion There, What's The Difference: The U.S. government plans to sell another 30 million shares of General Motors stock in a public offering as it speeds up efforts to divest itself from a stake in the auto giant that got a $49.5 billion bailout four years ago.
A United Auto Workers retiree health care trust fund will join the sale and sell 20 million shares, pushing the size of the offering to 50 million shares.
Taxpayers are still $18.8 billion in the hole on Obama's Government Motors deal.
Then And Now: During my college years (1961-65), less than 15% of high school graduates received four-year college degrees. Today, it's more like 35%.
Too many of today's college courses are irrelevant to the real world and, therefore, worthless to prospective employers. Most educational institutions are teaching skills for yesterday's job market rather than tomorrow's. The value of a diploma has depreciated substantially because of the greater number of stupider students (lower SAT scores, lower high school GPAs) now admitted - and permitted to graduate - in order to fill seats for greedy, growth-seeking, price-hiking universities.
In the early 1960s, college students spent 40 hours per week on academic work (as an engineering student, I spent a lot more than that); now they spend only 27 hours per week. In 1961, 67% of students said they studied more than 20 hours per week; now only one in five study that much.
Most of the unhappy people I've met are college graduates. My theory is that they were fed high expectations at the university (You're special!) which have been largely unmet in the workplace. (No, you're not.)
Did You See It? It was a joy to watch Neil Cavuto kick smarmy liberal stooge Julian Epstein's ass on 'Cavuto On Business' over the weekend.
The argument began when Cavuto said that panelist Epstein should see the NSA subpoena and eavesdropping scandal as part of a larger pattern of oppressive behavior on the part of the Obama administration. Epstein replied with typical Democratic Party talking points.
A visibly angry Cavuto told Epstein to "drop the liberal thing and focus on the reality thing. You have one entity after another going after American people. You have one system of government, one agency, one department after another essentially doing the same thing ... I am telling you there is a pattern."
Epstein began to offer the tiresome "blame Bush" counterpoint, when a frustrated Cavuto said, amidst the shouting, "Cut his mike!" three times. The program quickly went to break and Epstein was gone when the show resumed.
Cavuto returned to his usual pleasant and mildly self-deprecating mode. Good show.
Clay Feet: Sen. Marco Rubio, once the unofficially anointed saint of the 2016 Republican campaign, has broken GOP and conservative orthodoxy, proposing a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants to be fed to the public. With amnesty as the selected topping.
This has outraged many, including me. This is Not What We Expected and is part of the Great Letdown often experienced by political junkies. Rubio is a politician at heart and will wobble in his position in exchange for more prospective votes. And, like politicians of yore, he may very well get away with it.
As that the great philosopher Hasbro Playskool once said, "Weebles wobble but they don't fall down."
Quote of the Day is from Jay Leno: "See, when I was growing up, we were always afraid of Big Brother watching us. And now with Obama, we actually have a brother watching us."
Friday June 7, 2013
Summer's Almost Here: At 7:00 am, my wife and I took a walk on the golf course behind our house - our first one of the year. It was sunny and already 60 degrees. The soggy ground has finally dried up and the trail was free of puddles.
By 9:15, the temperature had reached 65, so - after backing it out of the garage and cleaning off some surface dust - I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and drove to Hockinson and back. It was a very enjoyable ride under blue, mostly cloudless skies. Traffic was light.
Later, we drove to Julie's Cottage Kitchen in Dollars Corner for lunch. I had a Patty Melt and home-style potatoes. Yum.
More good weahter is forecast through next Tuesday.
Talk Radio - It's A Killer: Co-hosts of a self-help radio show, 'The Pursuit of Happiness', committed suicide. Lynne Rosen and John Littig were found dead in their apartment. Psychotherapist Rosen, 46, and motivational speaker Littig, 48, were "in the business of telling people how to live."
They went out together by "putting plastic bags over their heads and inhaling helium" and were found dead on a couch in the living room. They left behind two notes, police said. The gist of them was, "We're going to do this together."
Good thing they didn't leave an audio recording - with their high-pitched, squeaky, helium-laced voices, it would have put people in stitches. Remember the Mary Tyler Moore Show's 'Death of Chuckles the Clown' episode?
This incident supports my theory that many of the people in the self-help business are off their rockers.
Can You Hear Me Now? The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms.
The New York Times has just released an editorial concerning the Verizon phone tracking saying, "President Obama has now lost all credibility."
Blogger Ace of Spades quipped, "I guess we all have an Obamaphone now."
Verizon's ads for its 'Share Everything' plan have taken on a new, sinister meaning.
Additionally, The NSA and FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track one target or trace a whole network of associates. The program, code-named PRISM, has not been made public until now. PRISM sounds like something concocted by a James Bond movie villain.
Bad Pun of the Day: Police are searching for a thief who robs his victims by threatening them with a lighted match. They want to catch him before he strikes again.
Thursday June 6, 2013
The Japanese Mercury: Acura is in trouble because it has devolved into a gussied-up Honda with almost no sales outside North America. Once destined to be a luxury car, it never really delivered. Its $50K-plus RL flagship is a market failure - only 273 were sold last month.
The beak-nose styling hasn't helped either. The TSX and ILX models are each selling at rates under 2,000 per month. The only Acura that sells decently is the RDX crossover - almost 5,000 of them were sold in May.
Overall Acura monthly sales are down by 1.5% from last year - to just over 14,000 units - despite Honda sales being up by over 5%
This week, AutoExtremist Peter De Lorenzo wrote, "These cars blend into the woodwork like a gray flannel suit on an overcast day. This is supposed to be the best of Honda? It sure doesn't look or feel like it. Instead, Acura still exists as a perennial symbol of the confusion that reigns at Honda. What are they doing? I'm not sure they know."
The only bright spot ... (more >>>)
D'oh! Universal Studios Florida is opening a Simpsons-themed area this summer. It'll mostly consist of facades and restaurants serving food inspired by the 'cuisine' of Springfield, as well as a pair of rides.
It will be anchored by the mega-attraction, The Simpsons Ride, and will allow guests to enter the world of The Simpsons like never before.
Guests can also walk the streets of Springfield. Visitors will be able to grab a Krusty-certified meat sandwich at Krusty Burger, snatch the catch of the day at the Frying Dutchman, get a pizza slice at Luigi's, buy donuts at Lard Lad and imbibe at Moe's Tavern. The new ride called Kang & Kodos' Twirl-n-Hurl will take "foolish humans" on an intergalactic spin designed to send them into orbit. Or upchuck their Lard Lads.
There will be also be Duff Beer, brewed exclusively for Universal Orlando.
Book Review: 'The Inventor and the Tycoon: A Gilded Age Murder and the Birth of Moving Pictures' by Edward Ball
This is the story of two men: photographer, inventor and murderer Eadweard Muybridge and the wealthy railroad tycoon Leland Stanford, who bankrolled Muybridge.
There is enough of a story here to make an engaging magazine article. Unfortunately ... (more >>>)
Judge Overrules Cruella de Vil: I'm delighted to see that a little 10 year-old girl is getting a chance at life with a lung transplant. If you've ever been a dad, the subject of catastrophic illness striking your kids looms in your sweaty, fear-filled nightmares.
A federal court judge has granted a temporary order that will allow Sarah Murnaghan, who is dying from cystic fibrosis and desperately needs new lungs, to join an adult organ transplant list.
That said, I am concerned that Sarah might have jumped the line ahead of others on the transplant list because she's a cutie and her story has been well-publicized. And that some woeful, pimply-faced, unphotogenic 16 year-old adolescent Goth with bad hair who also needs a lung transplant may die as a result.
We shouldn't be saving lives based on perceived personality and cuteness, although we seem to do it all the time. It's American Idol Visits The ICU.
Nevertheless, I'm glad to see stern-faced HHS Overlord Kathleen Sebelius - aka: The Grim Reaper - receive a proper and resounding rebuke. This death-panel wannabee's claim that she can't waive a rule to save a 10-year-old's life is disingenuous, given she was last seen doling out ObamaCare waivers like Jolly Ranchers to Barry O's favorite union groups.
I think Cruella Sebelius actually enjoys .... (more >>>)
How To Get Answers: Frank J. Fleming is angered by the growing IRS scandal. He wrote that "everyone in the IRS seems to be refusing to answer where the orders to target the Tea Party came from. Well, I'll tell you what to do. These are government employees. When they were given power over others in the government, this should have been balanced out by a lost of some of their rights, i.e., it should be perfectly okay to take them in a back room and waterboard them until they tell us absolutely everything.
I mean, really, you think you in the IRS can just forcefully take my money and then not owe me straight answers to absolutely every question asked of your job? I want all that information squeezed out of them through any means necessary and then have them deported to a special colony in Antarctica where we never have to look at any of them ever again."
And, "Sorry, there is only one thing they should get more of: beatings. If they think they can wield the power of the government against us and not be answerable to us in the United States of America, then I say no mercy for them. If I don't soon hear the anguished cries of IRS employees, then are elected officials are useless."
Sounds like a good plan to me. Start at the top.
By the way, anyone remember the Simpsons episode where the IRS seized Krusty Burger, renamed all the stores IRS Burger and took over day-to-day operations?
Now the IRS is going to oversee ObamaCare. I can't wait: "Fill out Schedule B. You should receive your chemo in six to eight weeks."
The other night, Jay Leno said, "President Obama says he's renewing his efforts to close Guantanamo Bay. Guantanamo Bay? How about closing the IRS? Why don't we do that?" Jay received thunderous applause from the audience.
Restaurant Review: Waters Grille; Portland, OR
Located in the Embassy Suites Hotel, just off Airport Way, this restaurant gets its name from the burbling water feature which surrounds the dining area and meanders through the lobby.
The menu is more imaginative ... (more >>>)
Question Of The Day is from Larry the Cable Guy: "How much deeper would the ocean be without sponges?"
Tuesday June 4, 2013
May Auto Sales: Car people were all smiles in May and auto salesmen waved celebratory cigars around like aromatic scepters as light vehicle sales hit 15.3 million SAAR (seasonally adjusted annual rate) - up 10% from May 2012 and up 3% from last month.
Many automakers reported double-digit sales increases, except GM, which was up only 3%. In contrast, FoMoCo sales were up by 14%. Chrysler LLC sales increased 11%. Nissan North America jumped by almost 25% and Toyota NA was up 2%, while Subaru sales soared 34%, leaving its sales staff giggling uncontrollably like a Japanese schoolgirl in a Hello Kitty store. Mazda sales increased by over 19%. Honda was up 5%.
Cadillac was the luxury winner with sales up almost 40%. Lincoln sales were flat. Audi reported an increase of 15%. Lexus was up 4% as was Mercedes. BMW sales increased 14%, while Porsche sales soared 39% (Sehr Gut!) to 3,928 vehicles.
Sunny Travels: The sun broke through morning clouds just before noon yesterday, so I fired up my old '39 Plymouth coupe and took a drive. At the end of our street, someone had knocked over the pole with the street and stop sign. Therein lies a story of some sort or other.
After driving north for a mile or so, I headed east to my favorite back road and enjoyed a pleasant outing on nearly empty macadam.
There was no school today, caused by either some teachers union-mandated holiday, budget cuts or a facilitated 'conference' at some fancy off-site resort. Whatever the reason, there were no lumbering, smoky school buses around to put a damper on my driving enjoyment.
As the road swung to the left, I got a glimpse of that giant Hostess Sno-Ball known as Mt. St. Helens, which is still full of white stuff. Hard to believe it's June.
My short journey was most pleasant and the weather forecast calls for more sunny days this week. I'm hoping to get in another drive soon.
Car Washerobics: Monday morning was cloudy and cool - good car washing weather. So, I backed my wife's Toyota Avalon out of the garage and gave it a thorough exterior cleaning.
The Avalon has been through numerous car washes in the last 11 months, but I hadn't hand washed it since July 2012.
I must say that, at eight-plus years-old and with nearly 50,000 miles on the odo, the Avalon still looks like new. And it now sparkles again.
I Thought The Digital Age Made Everything Faster: In 1953, John Christie murdered at least eight women. He "was arrested in March, tried in June and hanged in July. Justice was brisk back then."
Fast forward 60 years. Cars are much faster. Movies and television feature rapid cuts which makes for a quicker pace of storytelling. Publishing is instantaneous in cyberspace - no waiting for the lead to heat up on the ol' linotype machine.
Today we have convicted murders on death row, who ... (more >>>)
Down Low: Bond yields are at their lowest point since 1945.
It's Your Money: Recently, Malcolm Berko wrote, "Stop referring to Social Security as an "entitlement." SS is not an entitlement. Every time you or your spouse earned a paycheck, the employer sent Social Security 6.2% of it to an account under your or her name. And each time you or your spouse earned a paycheck, the employer also sent SS a matching amount to your account. That's 12.4% per paycheck, and your spouse never received a shilling of it. You earned it! You paid for it! It's your money! It's not an entitlement!
The word "entitlements" is government-speak for the federal programs from which lots of folks receive support that they don't pay for. However, Congress is ill-advised to call Social Security an entitlement. Calling SS an entitlement is purposefully disparaging and places it on the same common field as food stamps, job training, free cellphones, etc."
The latest federal trustees' report projects ... (more >>>)
Farewell, Dingbat: Talented actress Jean Stapleton, known to millions of viewers as the lovable Edith Bunker on the classic CBS sitcom 'All in the Family', has died at age 90.
Stapleton won three Emmys out of eight nominations for her role as the lovable "dingbat" wife of loveable, blue-collar bigot Archie Bunker.
"Bring me a beer, Edith." RIP.
And You Thought Things Were Tough In America: Unemployment across the 17 European Union countries that use the euro hit a record high of 12.2%. Italian youth unemployment rose to a record of 40.5% in April. Spain is at 57%. In Greece it's over 70%.
1.2 billion people, or 17% of the world's population, still live with no electricity. On the other hand, I bet a bunch of 'em have cell phones, even if the chargers are hand-cranked.
Quote Of The Day is from Henny Youngman: "A drunk was in front of a judge. The judge says, "You've been brought here for drinking." The drunk says, "Okay, let's get started.""
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