A Blog About Cars ... And Everything Else That Catches My Eye
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Monday March 31, 2014
AutoSketch: 1941 Chrysler Thunderbolt - Ahead Of Its Time
When General Motors introduced its futuristic Y-Job dream car in 1938, it gave Chrysler the perfect excuse to do a little crystal ball gazing of its own and develop a couple of dream machines. Prior to the Y-job, most futuristic auto concepts were kept under careful wraps in the styling departments of the various automakers.
Chrysler introduced two dream cars in 1941 - the two-seat, retractable hardtop Thunderbolt and the Newport - an open parade phaeton. Both were first shown at the New York Auto Show in October 1940. The Thunderbolt - named for Captain George Eyston's streamlined 358-mph land speed record holder - was ... (more >>>)
Hybrid Style: Here's my theory - if Birkenstocks remained as comfortable as they're reported to be (I've never worn a pair) but were styled like a conventional shoe, sales would drop by at least 50%.
Chronic Birkenstock wearers aren't just shodding themselves, they're Making A Statement. In the same way, the Toyota Prius is a big seller because its unique styling makes it look like .. ummm ... a Prius. It lets everyone else on the road know that the driver is Eco-conscious. And Better Than You.
Early Television: Much of it happened in Philadelphia, wrote Time magazine writer and media expert Richard Corliss. Ernie Kovacs was better than the 'Today Show' as a source for morning inspiration. I often watched Kovacs morning skit show before I left home for grade school.
There was a live, daily western drama, 'Action in the Afternoon,' whose musical director was a 20-year-old named Dick Lester; he later went to England and directed 'A Hard Day's Night.' 'Action', an hour-long Western, was broadcast from WCAU's City Line studio, where the back lot was also the employee parking lot.
One cast member was John Zacherle, who played the town's undertaker. Zacherle later became famous playing horror-flick host 'Roland' on Friday night's 'Shock Theatre'. Zacherle had a great following but left WCAU because they wouldn't raise his $75/week pay. He later found fame and fortune doing his horror gig in New York City.
Full disclosure: Corliss was a high school classmate at St. Joe's Prep in Philadelphia many years ago.
The View From Rome: The Vatican's chief justice feels that President Barack Obama's policies have been hostile toward Christians.
In an interview with Polonia Christiana magazine, Cardinal Raymond Burke said that Obama "promotes anti-life and anti-family policies."
"It is true that the policies of the president of the United States have become progressively more hostile toward Christian civilization. He appears to be a totally secularized man who aggressively promotes anti-life and anti-family policies," said Burke. The former archbishop of St. Louis stated that Obama is trying to "restrict" religion.
Burke took a swipe against Obama's Affordable Care Act over the law's birth control mandate, saying ... (more >>>)
But Will She Say "Arrr!" On Talk Like A Pirate Day? The first lesbian police chief in Minneapolis donned a hijab for Hijab Day. Shiver me timbers!
Bad Pun of the Day: Buffalo, NY became a city in 1832. In 2032, when the city is 200 years old, the Buffalo will celebrate its Bison-tennial.
Thursday March 27, 2014
Send In The Clowns: Dan Neil tested the Serbia-built Fiat 500L, a car which looks a bit like a Mini Countryman with a jutting, broken jaw. It is 28 inches longer than its 500 brother. He called it a "gutless clown car."
"Actually, the 500L (front-drive, five-door liftback) corners like the world's smallest '65 Pontiac Bonneville. At engine speeds below 2,250 rpm, there is no one home torque-wise. You hit the gas and time stands still, a la 'The Matrix'. And the six-speed manual gearbox is the vaguest, wobbliest such mechanism I've encountered since I was winning dance contests in my three-piece suit. This thing isn't a transmission. It is an intermission."
At $23,000-plus, who will buy this thing - clueless hipster dufuses?
Ignition Controversy: General Motors is facing more difficulties regarding faulty ignition switches installed in 1.6 million vehicles, including the Chevrolet Cobalt, Pontiac G5, Chevrolet HHR, Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky vehicles. This could be the start of something big, since at least 20 people have died as a result of GM's defective components.
Jim Geraghty noted that the taxpayer bailout of General Motors is helping them sell unsafe vehicles.
In December 2013, President Obama said, "In exchange for rescuing and retooling GM and Chrysler with taxpayer dollars, we demanded responsibility and results."
The news he alluded to, but did not directly mention that day: "The taxpayer loss on the GM bailout is $10.5 billion. The Treasury department said it recovered $39 billion from selling its GM stake, and had put $49.5 billion of taxpayer money directly into the GM bailout."
A New York Times article reported, "It was nearly five years ago that any doubts were laid to rest among engineers at General Motors about a dangerous and faulty ignition switch. At a meeting on May 15, 2009, they learned that data in the black boxes of Chevrolet Cobalts confirmed a potentially fatal defect existed in hundreds of thousands of cars."
"But in the months and years that followed, as a trove of internal documents and studies mounted, GM told the families of accident victims and other customers that it did not have enough evidence of any defect in their cars, interviews, letters and legal documents show. Last month, General Motors recalled 1.6 million Cobalts and other small cars, saying that if the switch was bumped or weighed down it could shut off the engine's power and disable air bags."
Geraghty continued, "At the end of May 2009 - after that meeting about the potentially fatal defect in the Cobalts - the Obama administration finalized its aid package and terms to GM, committing "another $30 billion on top of the $19.4 billion it has already given GM to cover its losses and fund its operations, in exchange for a 60% equity stake in the new company after restructuring, as well as $8.8 billion in debt and preferred stock."
Great news, taxpayers. You spent $10.5 billion to save a company that sold defective, unsafe cars and lied about it for years.
Pot For Potholes: A New Jersey lawmaker wants to legalize marijuana, tax it and use the revenue to pay to fix the state's roads.
Book Review: 'The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way (And It Wasn't My Fault) (And I'll Never Do It Again)' by P.J. O'Rourke
Mr. O'Rourke is familiar to regular readers of The View Through The Windshield; he has been awarded the Quote of the Day on several occasions - an honor which confers more prestige than two free Big Mac Extra Value Meals or four Grammys.
Part memoir, part observational humor, this lighthearted book is at its best covering the author's pre-college years. At his best, P.J. O'Rourke is a thoughtful Hunter S. Thompson, with considerably lower systemic drug levels. His trademark rapier wit, often seen on various on-air gigs, appears throughout in the book. Here is a sampling ... (more >>>)
Poverty Data: John C. Goodman wrote, "Economic growth is clearly the most effective antipoverty weapon ever devised by man."
Click on the link and study the graph. Then read the whole article; it's worth your time and is a fact-filled indictment of LBJ's War on Poverty.
Thought For Today is Van Roy's Law: "An unbreakable toy is useful for breaking other toys."
Tuesday March 25, 2014
Consumer Reports Annual Auto Issue: I put a lot of faith in Consumer Reports' car reliability opinions because I believe it presents pretty unbiased information and has the largest experiential database.
In the 'best car brands' category, Lexus topped the list with a score of 79. Second place went to Acura, followed by Audi, Subaru and Toyota.
The lowest rated brand was Jeep with a score of 50. The new Jeep Cherokee was not well received by CR, noting that "the new nine-speed automatic transmission is unrefined, the ride is choppy, handling lacks agility and visibility is so-so. The 184 hp ... engine feels anemic and averaged just 22 mpg overall." Second worst score went to Ford, followed by Dodge, Cadillac and Chevrolet.
A surprise to me was that Audi, once a consistent recipient of bad reliability rankings, has improved substantially with several models being rated above average. The Audi A6 was CR's top pick in the luxury car category again.
The Lincoln MKS, the brand's flagship model wasn't well received: "Although it looks the part, the MKS doesn't cut it as a luxury sedan. The adjustable suspension ranges from floaty Barcolounger to spine-rattling stiff. The interior is plush but isn't particularly roomy. Headroom is limited, the driving position is downright narrow and the styling hurts cabin access and visibility."
This year, the dreaded black dot rank for 'much worse than average predicted reliability' was awarded to: BMW 330 and 335i, Cadillac XTS, Chevy Cruze, Fiat 500, Ford C-Max, Edge, Escape, Explorer, Fiesta, Flex with Ecoboost, Focus, Fusion with Ecoboost and Taurus, Honda Accord Coupe, Hyundai Genesis coupe, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Lincoln MKT and MKX, Mini Countryman, Nissan Altima sedan and Titan, Subaru BRZ coupe, VW Beetle and Toureg.
First 2014 Drive: On Monday, it was sunny with clear skies that carried the hopeful blue hue of spring. I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe for the first time since late October, 2013 and took a drive.
I got a glimpse of snowy Mt. St. Helens which was gorgeous with blue sky as a backdrop, looking a bit like a slightly-squashed white Hostess Snoball.
The car fired right up without complaint. It was cool outside - 53 degrees at 11:00 am - and the vinyl seats drained any lower body warmth so quickly that it seemed like they were violating several Laws of Heat Transfer. Nevertheless, I had an enjoyable drive through downtown Battle Ground and along the back roads of north Clark County.
Business Advice: Keep Trying Until Something Works
While giving a talk to a group of start-up business owners, the question arose, "In your experience of owning businesses and counseling small business owners, what is the one most important thing they need to do?" Without thinking, I blurted out, "Keep trying until something works." My answer was spontaneous but it revealed some deep-seated feelings about start-up businesses and small businesses in general. Small businesses don't just grow; they evolve. Frequently they evolve in directions the owner never expected.
There are two reasons behind this phenomenon. The first is Murphy's Law. Things don't work out as you plan them. People who you thought would turn from prospects into clients, patrons, or customers don't. They talk a good game but they never buy. Perhaps your bank loan doesn't get approved. (Banks are famous for mouthing soothing, non-committal phrases which you mistakenly interpret to mean agreement.) Maybe the location you picked out is no longer available, or the prospective partner you were talking with gets cold feet. Expect the unexpected. As Murphy said, "If anything can go wrong, it will."
The second reason businesses evolve in unexpected directions is because a new opportunity presents itself. You get a chance to buy a bankrupt business for pennies on the dollar. A prospect turns you on to a new market for your product or service. A market you've been ignoring turns out to be just right for you. Here's an example ... (more >>>)
Headline Of The Week is from The Onion: 'Mason-Dixon Line Renamed IHOP-Waffle House Line'.
Good Riddance: The Rev. Fred Phelps, the hate-filled, virulently antigay preacher, who drew wide, scornful attention for staging demonstrations at military funerals as a way to proclaim his belief that God is punishing America for its tolerance of homosexuality, has finally died at age 84.
A disbarred civil rights lawyer who had once been honored by the NAACP, he ran for office repeatedly and unsuccessfully as a Democrat. He once sued President Ronald Reagan for establishing diplomatic relations with the Vatican; denounced the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who called Mr. Phelps a "first-class nut"; and picketed the funerals of Al Gore's father and Bill Clinton's mother.
At Phelps' funeral, Tom McMahon suggested, "Why not have The Gay Men's Chorus sing "So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good night" from The Sound of Music?" (permalink)
Quote Of The Day is from David Burge: "I don't want a car that gets more than 60 miles per gallon, I want a government that gets more than 3 hours per billion."
Friday March 21, 2014
Steve Martin, You'll Kill Us All: Toyota has agreed to pay a $1.2-billion fine to settle a four-year federal criminal investigation into whether it properly reported safety complaints about the sudden acceleration of its vehicles to regulators. It is the largest penalty of its kind ever imposed on an automotive company - an obvious shakedown by Obama & Co.
Previously, Toyota agreed to pay $1.6 billion to settle a class-action case brought by thousands of Toyota owners who contended that sudden-acceleration problems damaged the value of their vehicles.
Toyota has faced sudden-acceleration complaints since 2009, after a California Highway Patrol officer and his family were killed when a Lexus ES crashed outside San Diego. That crash is thought to have been caused by a floor mat jamming the gas pedal in the open position. But investigators said the car was too badly damaged to be sure.
Nevertheless, a witch hunt began in Washington. At one point, U.S. Transportation Secretary - and idiot - Ray LaHood hysterically warned that owners of recalled Toyota vehicles recalled should "stop driving" them and bring them to a Toyota dealer for repair.
My wife's 2005 Avalon was on the list of indicted vehicles. We've never experienced any such problem with the car in nine years of ownership. The Avalon's driver side mat is anchored to the floor with a hole-and-hook thingie. The underside of the mat has molded rubber spikes. These two features make the mat almost impossible to move.
In trying to figure out what conditions would be required to make the mat slide, I came up with three that would have to be simultaneously present: a ton of slippery dirt beneath the mat, cleated soccer shoes and a severe case of Happy Feet. Maybe the government should have fined Steve Martin instead.
Unexceptional Mall Pizza: Sbarro, purveyor of lukewarm, tasteless pizza slices available in food courts throughout the land is bankrupt. Again.
The chain of 800 pizza restaurants in the U.S., filed for bankruptcy protection for second time in three years as customer traffic slowed in the shopping mall food courts where it does much of its business.
Book Review: 'Memoirs Of A Hack Mechanic' by Rob Siegel
The majority of visitors to my book review pages come as a result of a link from this blog. Because the blog has an automotive theme, many of my blog readers are car guys. So, I'll begin this review with a simple message: If you're a car guy, you should buy Rob Siegel's book.
For many years, Siegel has written a column for the BMW Club magazine, 'Roundel'. The book reprints many of these columns along with new, updated and expanded material. Siegel loves old, decrepit BMWs and enjoys bringing them back to life and driving them. He has owned twenty-five 2002 models. But have no fear, you don't have to be a Bimmer fan to enjoy the book. I'm not a BMW enthusiast, although ... (more >>>)
Quote Of The Day is from Woody Allen: "Dying is one of the few things that can be done as easily lying down."
Wednesday March 19, 2014
Nobody Wants A Fiat: The Fiat 500 has the highest unsold inventory of any new car model - 148 days, with cash incentives of $1,907.
The Buick Verano came in second at 143 days and a $3,178 rebate. Others in the Losers Dock included the Cadillac ATS, the Dodge Dart and Hyundai Genesis.
The unloved Chevy Tahoe carries a $7,377 incentive on the hood.
Meanwhile ... General Motors is recalling over three million vehicles for various safety defects.
RIP: The MacPac computer store started in 1993 in East Portland and quickly developed a following of loyal customers.
Late last week, I received this e-mail: "It is with profound sadness that I write this last MacPac e-mail.
To all of our loyal customers, Thank You so very much for all your support throughout the years. We have been very proud to serve you with what we feel has been the best customer service in the business.
Unfortunately, our business model of unlimited customer support is no longer viable. We will miss you all ... Wishing you peace and happiness. Farewell."
Over the years, in addition to buying our Apple computers there, we have sent almost a dozen friends to MacPac - all were happy with the buying experience and with their computers.
We'll miss you too, MacPac.
In Praise Of St. Joseph: Today is the feast day of St. Joseph, earthly father of Jesus.
Sadly, St. Joseph doesn't always get the respect he deserves. His feast day is overshadowed by St. Patrick's Day, two days earlier, which often means that people are too hung over to celebrate the saint properly. In recent times, a St. Joseph the Worker 'feast' has been celebrated on May 1, which gives it a vaguely communistic whiff. (In 1955, responding to the May Day celebrations for workers sponsored by socialists, Pope Pius XII instituted this secondary, optional and poorly-named feast of 'St. Joseph the Worker'.)
Recently, I received an e-mail from Rev. George Bur, S.J. - president of my old Philadelphia high school, St. Joseph's Prep. Father Bur reminded me that "in 1733, when the Jesuits first opened their Roman Catholic chapel in Philadelphia, they placed the mission under the patronage of St. Joseph and today the Jesuit parish at Willings Alley, the Jesuit high school and the Jesuit university in the city all bear his name."
When I entered first grade, the nun separated the class into three reading groups based on ability. The smart kids were put in the Sacred Heart group, the average kids went into the Blessed Virgin group and the dummies ended up in the St. Joseph reading group.
Poor St. Joseph. He deserves better.
We know that Joseph was man of faith, obedient to whatever God asked of him without knowing the outcome. He was a compassionate, caring man. This craftsman worked diligently as a carpenter to provide for his family.
Father Bur concluded, "Joseph is a fitting model for our age, a patron for fathers and for others who need to rely on God's grace to carry out the responsibilities that we have in our care for the young." (permalink)
Funny No More: Comedian David Brenner has died at age 78 of cancer. Brenner held the record for number of appearances on the 'Tonight Show' with Johnny Carson. David sat on Carson's couch 158 times and even hosted the show a few times.
Bad Pun of the Day: Reading while sunbathing makes you well red.
Monday March 17, 2014: Happy St. Patrick's Day!
An Irish Business Lesson: You'll find it here.
Irish Joke I: An Irishman arrived at JFK Airport and wandered around the terminal with tears streaming down his cheeks. An Aer Lingus employee asked him if he was already homesick.
"No," replied the Irishman "I've lost all me luggage!"
"How'd that happen?"
"The cork fell out!"
Irish Joke II: Three Irishmen are sitting around in a tavern, debating which is the best pub.
The first says, "Aye, this is a nice bar, but where I come from, there's a better one. At McDougal's, you buy a drink, then you buy another drink and then McDougal himself will buy your third drink!"
The second then starts, "That sounds like a nice pub but, where I come from, there's a better one called Quinn's. At Quinn's, you buy a drink, Quinn buys you a drink. You buy another drink, Quinn buys you another drink."
Then the third pipes up, "You think that's good? Where I come from, there's this place called Murphy's. At Murphy's, they buy you your first drink, they buy you your second drink, they buy you your third drink and then, they take you in the back and get you laid!"
"Wow!" exclaim the other two. "That sounds fantastic! Did that actually happen to ye?"
"No," replies their friend, "But it happened to me sister!"
Irish Joke III: Two Irishmen were sitting at a pub, drinking pints o' Guinness and observing the goings-on at the bawdy house across the street.
They saw a Baptist minister walk into the brothel, and one of them said, "Aye, 'tis a shame to see a man of the cloth goin' bad."
Later, they watched as a rabbi entered the same house of ill-repute. The other Irishman said, "Aye, 'tis a sad thing to observe that the Jews are fallin' victim to temptation as well."
Then they saw a priest walk into the brothel; the first Irishman exclaimed, "What a terrible pity ... one of the girls must be dying!"
'Danny Boy' ... as sung by The Muppets, here.
Friday March 14, 2014
Auction Madness: A 1937 Delahaye 135 Competition Court Torpedo Roadster has been sold for $6.6 million. Delahaye reportedly built just 30 Competition Court chassis, and of these, just two short chassis variants are known to survive.
I have a similar-looking 1:43 scale model of a '36 Delahaye 135 Grand Sport which I purchased in 2011.
People Are Idiots: A recent study showed that Americans are woefully ignorant about tech. Which probably explains why Best Buy is still in business.
The study revealed the following:
Despite the incorrect answers, 61% of the respondents said it is "important to have a good knowledge of technology in this day and age." The study involved 2,392 men and women 18 years of age or older.
Happy Birthday ... to my dad who would have turned 95 today.
Feelin' Flush: U.S. household net worth increased to a new record high of $80.6 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2013, fueled by stock market and housing gains.
The average wealth per U.S. household today has increased by more than 72% over the last decade. Household wealth increased by nearly $10 trillion over the most recent four quarters, from $70.86 trillion in Q4 2012 to $80.66 trillion in Q4 2013, due to strong gains in stock market and housing values. That's a gain of 13.4%. Our household did a little better with a gain of 19.3%, mostly due to equities. Our house price remained flat and our automobiles continued to depreciate.
Quote Of The Day is from James Lileks: "When your world view is made up entirely of round holes, your mind is a lathe that can turn everything into a cylinder."
Wednesday March 12, 2014
Another Milestone: My wife's Toyota Avalon has turned nine years old.
With 52,500 miles on the odometer, the car still looks - and runs - like new. It remains trouble-free and has neither rattles nor squeaks. And, thanks to a recent car wash, it now sparkles again. (permalink)
Lost In Translation: The late Steve Jobs once said, "You know how you see a show car, and it's really cool, and then four years later you see the production car, and it sucks? And you go ... what happened? They had it! They had it in the palm of their hands! They grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory!"
Double Shot: Automotive Design and Production posted an article about coinjected plastics - a process that used to be called two-shot molding in my plastics days. Inject one plastic into a mold then inject a second plastic into a second area of the mold. Both plastics must be chemically compatible (it's called melt compatibility) but can be different colors, different densities (one solid, one foam) or different aesthetics (ugly and strong overlaid with beautiful and glossy).
This process has been around for ages. The phone company used it for making characters on dial telephones so that, after years of dialing, you couldn't wear the numbers and letters off like painted ones. Ford used this process at its Saline, MI plastics plant to double-shot mold transparent red and clear acrylic to make red taillight lenses with clear integral backup lights for the 1968 full-size Fords. (I was a consultant on the project.) The resultant lens was stronger and more leakproof than those produced by other methods.
Lear Corp. uses this technology to produce large interior (instrument panels, door panels) and large exterior panels. There are numerous benefits, including such things as the elimination of the need to do outside the press assembly of two separate pieces, superior craftsmanship (better grain definition, sharper radii, softer touch), the ability to "dial-in" the sort of characteristics attained when using TPE plastics (soft, slick, silky), excellent performance and durability due to the consistency of wall thicknesses, consistency of gloss across the surface of the part, and the elimination of buzz-squeak-rattle problems that can occur due to the interface of mechanically-attached separate plastic pieces.
Everything old is new again.
Separated At Birth? Every time I see Pope Francis, I'm reminded of the late comic Ed Wynn.
I guess you have to be of a certain age to remember Mr. Wynn; he was a popular American comedian and actor noted for his Perfect Fool comedy character. He hosted a popular radio show, 'The Fire Chief' during the 1930s; it was sponsored by Texaco gasoline. He was often photographed wearing a too-small fireman's helmet. Wynn was offered the title role in MGM's 1939 film, 'The Wizard of Oz', but turned it down.
Ed Wynn was often seen on early television, either hosting his own show or as a guest on other popular shows. Wynn provided the voice of the Mad Hatter in Walt Disney's film, 'Alice in Wonderland'.
I wonder what the Pope would look like if he swapped his Papal Mitre for a little fireman's hat. (permalink)
Book Review: 'George Washington's Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved the American Revolution' by Brian Kilmeade with Don Yaeger
You may know Brian Kilmeade from Fox News' morning show 'Fox & Friends' which he co-hosts. In this book, Kilmeade and co-author Don Yaeger relate the fascinating story of the Culper spy ring that operated in Long Island and New York during the War of Independence. This is a slightly-fictionalized (because of the paucity of factual details available), dramatized history rather than a scholarly work.
You'll find no footnotes here but the story is compelling. It is a dramatic account ... (more >>>)
Headline Of The Week is from The Onion: 'Bicycle-Riding Circus Bear Pedals Back To Natural Habitat'.
Quote Of The Day is from Daniel V. De Simone: "The process of innovation is not simply an act. It is not just design, or market analysis, or investment, or entrepreneurship, or the intricacies that intervene between the concept and the marketplace. It is all of these, a complex sequence of steps. And it is all the more complex because there is nothing automatic about it. The engines of innovation are human beings."
Monday March 10, 2014
Head Of The Class: Consumer Reports has released its 2014 Car Brand Report Cards, with Lexus again reigning at the top. Lexus' lineup was credited for being "usually quiet, comfortable, and fuel-efficient." CR noted that it was the only brand on the list "to achieve an excellent average overall reliability score."
Ford and Jeep weighed in at the other end of the rankings, Jeep taking the lowest overall score in the road tests and hampered by "a mix of spotty reliability." Ford was sunk by reliability issues with its MyFord Touch infotainment system which consumers found troublesome enough to negate its cars earning "solid test scores" for being "very nice to drive."
RIP: William Clay Ford, Edsel Ford's youngest child and the last surviving grandchild of Henry Ford, has died at age 88.
Ford served as the owner and chairman of the Detroit Lions and was briefly head of the FoMoCo's Continental Division. He championed the iconic Continental Mark II automobile. It is said there were only two pictures on his office wall, his father's Continental and his Mark II. (permalink)
Restaurant Review: Hockinson Kountry Cafe; Battle Ground, WA
Once a local favorite in rural Hockinson, this restaurant moved to west Battle Ground in 2010. We've dined here often and are almost always pleased with the food and service, although the turkey platter is spoiled by a gravy that is both heavy and flavorless.
Friendly waitresses deliver food to your table quickly. Offerings are homemade, comfort in style and generous in portion. Prices are small-town reasonable. HKC's pies are ... (more >>>)
Where Would You Like To Sit? In the old days, such questions were asked so that prospective diners could select from 'smoking' and 'non-smoking'. In those times, my wife and I would reply, "We want the 'non-screaming' section." We were seeking a brat-free meal - and I'm not referring to sausage.
I'm talking about those idiot adults who drag their ill-behaved offspring to nice restaurants and don't force them to behave. Of course, these self-absorbed morons think that being a brat is a sign of precocious. Especially if it's their kid.
A few restaurants have done something about this. Unfortunately, not enough of them.
I, Robot: Congratulations to my grandson who participated in the Oregon Regional FIRST Robotics Competition. His Spartan Robotics team won the Creativity Award and made it through the semi-final rounds in Oregon City.
Why Bother Saving For Retirement? Barack Obama, the first Socialist U.S. president, plans to ask Congress to reduce some of the tax advantages for employer-sponsored retirement plans for higher-income earners. The president wants to limit the value of all tax deductions and include an overall cap on all retirement accounts, including pensions, that could bring in $1 billion a year in new tax revenue.
Anyone who has acted responsibly, saved money for retirement, has no debt and owns their own house, will be considered "rich."
By robbing retirees of their money, Barry O. will create "income equality." So we'll all be poor. Winston Churchill once said, "Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy. Its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery."
Betting On Israel: Last week, the state of California and Israel signed a historic technology-sharing agreement. Forty-plus years ago, Intel opened a small operation in Haifa. Today, Intel employs over 9,000 in Israel and its new Adam processor for mobile devices in produced there.
Israel has an entrepreneurial, tech-driven culture and turns out more engineering graduates each year than either the U.S. or Japan. Two and one-half times as much venture capital flows into Israel than the United States.
Meanwhile, in his typical, never-bet-on-winners strategy, our President is busy harassing Benjamin Netanyahu while befriending the useless, dysfunctional, terroristic Palestinians. What a moron.
Sometimes we ... (more >>>)
Quote of the Day is from H.L. Mencken: "If a politician found he had cannibals among his constituents, he would promise them missionaries for dinner."
Thursday March 6, 2014
A Gift Of Love: I'm late in reporting this because we were away on Valentine's Day but my wife gifted me with a 1:43 scale model of a 1972 Ford Torino hardtop coupe.
This diecast was made by Premium X Models, a firm located in Shenzhen, China. The little Torino is incredibly well-detailed, including the stump of a retracted radio antenna, painted exhaust system and even a period-correct Texas license plate.
I always liked the looks of the '72 Ford Torino. I remember reading that a soon-to-retire Ford engineer ... (more >>>)
Car Sighting: Monday was the first time I saw a Nissan GT-R being driven on the road. The $100,000 sports car seems to have every boy-racer styling cliché included in its bodywork, resulting in a very disjointed look.
Trendsetting: Southern California is the place where the future can be seen - in fashion, housing and cars.
Trends start in Southern California, jump to the Bay Area and NYC and then spread slowly westward across the remainder of the U.S. Eventually, they reach the Pacific Northwest which became the style repository of last resort for mood rings, leisure suits, disco dance floors, lapel decorations, glass block and the like.
Every rule has an exception and 'gourmet coffee' is such a case. That trend began in Seattle, jumping to Portland and the SF Bay areas simultaneously before moving south and east.
Underpants Gnome Business Model: Radio Shack appears to be on its way out of business. Fourth quarter 2013 sales plunged 19% and the firm is closing 1,100 stores. As far as I can tell, this is the Shack's business strategy:
Collect Everyone's Phone Number >>> ???? >>> Profit
When Lewis Kornfeld ran Tandy/Radio Shack in the late 1970s, he made the firm a major player ... (more >>>)
Book Review: 'The Death Of Punishment: Searching For Justice Among The Worst Of The Worst' by Robert Blecker
The author, a former prosecutor and criminal law professor, has written a passionate defense of the death penalty. He reviewed cases, interviewed inmates, toured prisons and attended trials of murderers.
While the book had some thought-provoking moments, it often ... (more >>>)
Headline Of The Week ... is from Weekly World News: 'Dalai Lama Retires - Moves To Playboy Mansion'.
Many of the 'Hef Girls' are happy to have the Dalai Lama move in. "He's a little younger than Hef, and a lot cuter," said Dolly Hart. "There's something so special about him," said Paige Peters. "I get a good vibe being around him and well ... let's just say it's a very spiritual experience being with him."
Bad Pun Of The Day: Definition of a will ... a dead give-away.
Tuesday March 4, 2014
February Auto Sales: Light vehicle sales were at a 15.3 million SAAR in February - up slightly from February 2013 and up 1.8% from last month.
Chrysler’s year-over-year sales rose 11% to 154,866 units, the company's best February sales level since 2007. Its Chrysler, Jeep, Ram Truck and Fiat brands all posted year-over-year gains in February. The Jeep brand posted a sales gain of 47% and the Ram brand posted a gain of 28%. Dodge sales were off 11% and inventories are too fat. Chrysler has a 220 day supply of Dodge Avengers and a 129 day supply of Dodge Darts.
Ford's U.S. sales fell 6% year-over-year in February to 183,947 Ford and Lincoln vehicles, compared with February 2013 sales of 195,822. Sales were down for all types of vehicles, with car sales off 14%, SUV sales off 4% and truck sales down very slightly. Lincoln brand sales were up 36% to 6,681 units, led by its entry-level MKZ sedan.
Sales at General Motors fell 1% year-over-year in February to 222,104 units. Cadillac sales dropped 3% to 13,437 vehicles. Only 58 examples of Caddy's $76,000 Volt-like ELR hybrid coupe found buyers in February. Buick sales were up 19% to 19,192 units. GM's closely watched stockpile of cars and light trucks stood at 805,769 units - equal to a disturbing 87-day supply - at the end of last month.
Sales at Toyota for the month totaled 159,284 units, down 4% compared with February 2013. Lexus sales were up by 9%, although sales of the flagship LS model dropped 27% to 589 units.
Nissan's February sales rose 15.8%% to 115,360 units, a record for the month of February. Sales of the company’s redesigned Rogue crossover rose a whopping 73% to 17,197 units year-over-year.
Subaru sales jumped 24% to 34,909 vehicles. Forester sales leaped 95%. Honda sales were down 8%, while Acura sales were up 3% led by its SUVs. Hyundai/Kia saw a 4% sales drop in February.
Volkswagen sold 27,112 units in the United States last month - a decline of 14% year-over-year, on top of a 19% drop in January sales.
On the high-priced end of things, Maserati sales soared 426%; 837 sporty, expensive Masers found buyers. Mercedes and BMW were up just of 3% each.
A Moving Experience: On Sunday morning, we moved my O-gauge train layout back into the garage. We had the layout into its storage spot by 11:45 am under light rainy conditions. The outside temperature was 39 degrees.
Everything went quite smoothly without incident.
It's All A Big Joke Until The Economy Crashes: Barry Ritholtz has noted that "1,865 pages of Federal Open Market Committee transcripts from 2008 were released to the public. Bloomberg studied the transcripts, finding, on average, about 25 references to laughter per meeting. This was almost half of the 45 giggles per FOMC meeting noted in 2007."
And these people watch over our nation's money.
Management Advice - Deceased Equine Strategies: Dakota Tribal Wisdom says that when you discover you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.
However, the Harvard Business School (in a project underwritten by several well-known consulting groups, including Accenture, the Boston Consulting Group, Deloitte Global and BearingPoint, Inc. - formerly KPMG) offers alternate proposals .... (more >>>)
Another Reason I Hate Modern Life: The Girl Scouts have hired a lesbian as 'Chief Girl Experience Officer'. I'm sure she will teach the girls some new and unusual experiences.
"The main charge leveled by Girl Scout critics concerns the leftward drift of the Girl Scouts, which was founded along conservative religious principles. The leftward drift began in the early '90s when God was made optional in the Girl Scout promise. This precipitated the founding of American Heritage Girls and the first widespread exit from the Girl Scouts.
In the ensuing years, social liberals insinuated themselves into national leadership of the Girl Scouts so that now it is unremarkable when they feature and promote women who are offensive to the sensibilities of hundreds of thousands of traditional-minded moms, including: Betty Friedan; Gloria Steinem; Hillary Clinton; Kathleen Sibelius, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and chief promoter of the Obamacare contraceptive mandate; and Wendy Davis, advocate for late term abortions."
Quote Of The Day is from James Lileks on service windows/counters/stations at the Dept. of Motor Vehicles: "They should never, ever build more windows than they need. Or rather they should hide the ones not in service, because you sit there looking at the empty windows, imagining public servants in the back working on a box of Krispy Kremes like vultures on a dead water buffalo, and you begin to fume."
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