A Blog About Cars ... And Much, Much More
Monday June 29, 2015
Autosketch: 1939 Lincoln Zephyr: Aero Auto
When the Lincoln Zephyr was first introduced in November 1935 as a 1936 model, it was hailed by automotive critics as the first good-looking aerodynamic production car. (The 1934 Chrysler Airflow was first with aerodynamics, but most people thought it was stone ugly.)
The Zephyr had a 267 cubic-inch V12 engine with 110 horsepower. Ads of the period claimed 14 to 18 miles per gallon fuel economy and 0 to 60 times of 16 seconds. Zephyrs weighed about 3,600 pounds and rode on 7:00 x 16 tires. The 1939 model pictured here is a 4 door sedan; this body style accounted for 80% of Zephyr production. Other styles offered ... (more >>>)
Hot Topic: Saturday was a scorcher - temperatures reached 100 degrees in the afternoon. By 9:00 am, it was a balmy 73 degrees, so I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and took a drive.
The traffic was surprisingly light during my back roads excursion and the breeze was cool enough that I didn't bother to engage the air conditioning; I simply drove around with the windows down and the hood vent open.
There was a cloud cover which obscured some of the mountains although I managed to get a glimpse of a ghostly Mt. St. Helens which is losing its snow cap - earlier than usual it seems to me. In the Pacific Northwest, a warmer and drier-than-usual winter has reduced the snow pack considerably.
Hot and sunny weather is forecast for the remainder of the week with daytime highs in the 90s to low triple-digits.
Then & Now:
Happy Anniversary: My parents would have been married for 74 years this week.
Restaurant Review: Hudson's Bar & Grill; Vancouver, WA
Located in the Heathman Hotel, this restaurant has survived for over 20 years without major changes in decor or menu. The decor is upscale Northwest lodge-style. The bar is very popular at night; Hudson's is rumored to have a great happy hour.
Tripadvisor.com rates this restaurant #1 out of 518 restaurants in Vancouver, which - in a way - is sad. Hudson's is very good but ... (more >>>)
Secret Agent Man: Actor Patrick Macnee has died at the age of 93 in California. He was best known for portraying secret agent John Steed in the 1960s British television show, 'The Avengers'.
Sexy co-star Diana Rigg - hard to believe that she'll turn 77 in July - played Emma Peel. Rigg most often drove a Lotus Elan, while Macnee's John Steed stuck to prewar Bentleys in many episodes.
Macnee also appeared in many other television shows and movies, including 'This Is Spinal Tap' and the James Bond flick, 'View To A Kill'. RIP.
Definition Of The Day is from H.L. Mencken: "Demagogue: One who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots."
Thursday June 25, 2015
Brand New Junk: J.D. Power & Associates released its 2015 Initial Quality Study and found that three Fiat-Chrysler brands - Chrysler, Jeep and Fiat - were among the bottom five in its survey, which J.D. Power blamed on a range of "defect malfunctions."
"The firm's initial quality expert, Renee Stephens, said Chrysler's relatively new 200 sedan, for instance, has a nine-speed transmission that attracted several complaints, and many Fiat Chrysler products suffer from routine problems that could be addressed before leaving the assembly plant, including unsatisfactory paint jobs or the way parts fit together."
And some are rustbuckets.
Father's Day Car Gifts: I received three 1:43 scale model automobiles for Father's Day. The first was ... (more >>>)
"It's Summertime, Summertime, Sum-sum-summertime ..." The Jamies' 1958 musical earwig can get inside your head, displacing more and more rational thought until you become a drooling moron. That's why I don't have the song in my iTunes library.
The tune has been used in commercials for Buick, Ken-L Ration Burger Time Dog Food and Applebee's. I have seen Buicks driven by drooling morons and I have observed them pulling into parking lots of many deplorable Applebee's. So there.
In any case Tuesday was definitely summertime, as any solstice-attending Druid can confirm. The weather was summery - 76 degrees and blazingly sunny with summer-azure skies and wispy clouds at 11:30 am.
It was definitely time to take a ride in my '39 Plymouth coupe. But first, I had to pull the front baby-moon hubcap to find the source of a maddening rattle. It was the axle grease cap, which I dutifully pounded back on.
Then I had a nice drive, running the A/C most of the time. Because I could.
It's summertime, summertime, sum-sum-summertime. Summertime. It's summertime.
Trolley Talk: The Philadelphia PTC "talking" trolley for my O-gauge model train layout has been repaired and arrived last week.
Everything now seems to work. It makes all the proper trolley sounds, with a Philadelphia-accented voice calling out stops, urging passengers to "please move to the rear" and reminding them to "take all newspapers and personal belongings with you." The faux motorman also exhorts exiting passengers to "Have a nice day!", which never happened during the many years I rode public transport in the so-called City of Brotherly Love.
There are also the sounds ... (more >>>)
Remembering The Cherry Hill Inn: Among this many other talents, James Lileks is a collector of matchbooks. Recently, he posted a matchbook from the late, great Cherry Hill Inn on his site, adding ... (more >>>)
The Fundamental State Of Higher Education Today: David P. Goldman complained that few universities offer serious studies of great literature as part of their curriculum.
He noted that "Wellesley College, Hillary Clinton's alma mater, has canceled its annual performance of 'The Vagina Monologues' - itself a vulgar slap at the supposed male bias of Western civilization - because it is upsetting to transgendered women who do not have vaginas.
Perhaps the politically-correct women of Wellesley could rewrite the play as 'The Anus Monologues'. That lowest common denominator would include everyone." Yup.
In somewhat related news, Britain's University of Cambridge is morphing into a kindergarten. The university has hired ... (more >>>)
Changing Tastes, Changing Buying Patterns: Gap plans to close 175 stores - a quarter of its stores and cut 250 corporate jobs as it tries to chart the clothing brand back toward growth.
Gap stores have experienced slumping sales in the past year as fashions have failed to drive traffic. Creative director Rebekka Bay was let go in January, and the company eliminated her position, instead relying on a senior design team.
"The store closures are part of a larger trend by mall-based brands to reduce store locations, says Simeon Siegel, retail equity analyst at Nomura. Macy's, J.C. Penney, Deb Shops, RadioShack, Sears and Wet Seal are all among brands that have or are planning to close stores."
"It's more a continuation of what's already been going on," Siegel says. "Your biggest competitor used to be your neighbor in the mall. Right now your biggest competitor is the infinite number of random start-up websites. You just don't need as many bricks and mortar locations."
Gap operates on razor-thin margins. It posted ... (more >>>)
Eighty-Six Is Enough: Dick Van Patten, who played the family patriarch on the ABC sitcom 'Eight Is Enough', has died of diabetes complications at age 86. 'Eight Is Enough' was about the goofy dad of a family with eight kids that ran from 1977 to 1981.
He was married to his wife, Pat - a former June Taylor dancer, for 62 years.
I never watched 'Eight Is Enough' but I remember Mr. Van Patten from the 'I Remember Mama' television series, which told the ongoing story of a Norwegian family living in San Francisco in the 1910s. Dick played the elder son Nels Hansen. 'Mama' ran from 1949 through 1957.
I seem to recall that in the early 1980s, he did commercials for Oldsmobile, hawking Delta 88 family sedans.
In related news, Don Featherstone was a classically trained painter, a talented sculptor and artist who became famous for creating the kitchy pink plastic flamingo lawn ornament, has died at age 79.
Featherstone created the ornamental flamingo in 1957 for plastics company Union Products Inc., of Leominster, MA. Millions were sold.
The ubiquitous flamingo almost met its demise in 2006, when Union went out of business. But the company was eventually bought by Cado Products Inc., which to this day proudly manufactures the ornaments in Fitchburg, MA. The flamingos can now be had for about $14.99 a pair.
Featherstone resided in Fitchburg, where he kept 57 plastic flamingos on his front lawn. Featherstone and his wife Nancy dressed alike for over 35 years.
RIP to both men.
Book Review: 'Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End' by Atul Gawande
Harvard-trained surgeon and medical writer Atul Gawande has written a great but unpleasantly depressing book about the end of one's life - the chronic sickness of old age and the bumpy slide into death.
Reading it, you'll find that dying ain't easy, even in 21st Century America. Someone must champion the patient and his/her needs and wants. That 'someone' must be the patient, who may often be too sick, drugged or confused, or the patient's family, who ... (more >>>)
Quote Of The Day is from Billy Crystal: "Women need a reason to have sex. Men just need a place."
Tuesday June 23, 2015
Some Sun; 80% Chance Of No Rain: That was the basic weather forecast for last Friday. It sounded good enough to me, so I fired up my freshly-painted '39 Plymouth coupe and went for a spin.
I am unsure of the dividing line between Mostly Cloudy and Partly Sunny. It's probably an example of obfuscation performed by television weather forecasters to cover their basic incompetence.
There were lots of clouds - some very dark - but there were enough patches of sun strewn about, that I wore sunglasses for most of my morning drive.
In contrast, Saturday was all-sunshine with cloudless blue summer skies. At 9:00 am - with temperatures in the upper 50s, I took a pleasant back roads drive. I'm glad I have my old car back.
Where Did The Money Go? When a devastating earthquake leveled Haiti in 2010, millions of people donated to the American Red Cross. The charity raised almost half a billion dollars. It was one of its most successful fundraising efforts ever.
"The American Red Cross vowed to help Haitians rebuild, but after five years the Red Cross' legacy in Haiti is not new roads, or schools, or hundreds of new homes. It's difficult to know where all the money went." Jeez.
National Public Radio and ProPublica went in search of the nearly $500 million and found a string of poorly managed projects, questionable spending and dubious claims of success, according to a review of hundreds of pages of the charity's internal documents and e-mails, as well as interviews with a dozen current and former officials. "The Red Cross says it has provided homes to more than 130,000 people, but the number of permanent homes the charity has built is six."
Here's a partial explanation ... (more >>>)
Culture Of Death vs. Culture Of God: David P. Goldman wrote that if black America were a country, it would have the highest murder rate in the world. "Black Americans are still eight times more likely to be murdered than whites and seven times more likely to commit murder, according to the FBI. An incredible one-third of black men in their 30s have been in prison."
These statistics are both dismal and eye-opening. But there are glimmers of hope ... (more >>>)
The Pope's Encyclical: Pope Francis's encyclical on ecological and economic justice was made public last week. The 300-page document, titled ''Laudato Si' ('Be Praised') called on the world to end its use of fossil fuels.
I've written before that any time a religion gets involved with science, it's a bad idea and usually ends up with either people being locked up in the Vatican basement or the Scopes Monkey Trial ... (more >>>)
Now This Is Belief In Your Product: The inventor of a bulletproof jockstrap, got shot in the groin as proof of concept.
"Jeramiah Raber, 38, is the man behind Nutshellz, a brand of athletic cup designed to protect a man's testicles from anything coming their way - from a 98 MPH fastball to a 1,700 mph bullet shot from a gun."
Politically Incorrect Squared: I ran across a line that novelist and National Review columnist Florence King wrote back in 1978 - before Political Correctness became a religion.
"Feminists won't be satisfied until every abortion is performed by a black gay doctor under an endangered tree on a reservation for handicapped Indians."
Quote Of The Day is from James Lileks: "The only thing for which wood-grained plastic should be used is the coffin of the man who invented wood-grained plastic."
Sunday June 21, 2014
The Meaning Of Fatherhood: Father's Day was inaugurated in the United States in the early 20th Century to complement Mother's Day. It is now celebrated throughout most of the world.
On a personal level, it begins when your child-to-be is still a lightly-formed, growing piece of protoplasm. It's a feeling of anxiousness, protectiveness and fondness, which quickly grows into love. Until they become parents, your children - regardless of their age - cannot understand the phrase "I loved you before you were born."
But it is as true as it is mysterious ... (more >>>)
Friday June 19, 2015
Back From The Shop: My 1939 Plymouth has returned from the body/paint shop. The paint is as smooth as glass as are ... (more >>>)
On a sunny Thursday morning, I fired it up and took a nice drive. At 9:30 am, temperatures were already in the mid 60s and topped out 81 degrees. A glimpse of Mt. St. Helens showed that it is already losing its snow.
Additional photos of my newly-painted coupe can can be found here.
Dead Letter(s): Lincoln is killing off its flagship MKS sedan after the 2016 model year.
Hopefully, the Continental will replace it soon after. The MKS never sold well and its styling was not particularly distinctive. The typical MKS buyer is 63 years old; the average luxury car purchaser is 52.
When it was introduced as a 2009 model, the MKS received lukewarm reviews, even from ... (more >>>)
Near-Term Optimist: BofA Merrill Lynch is bullish on the auto industry and has issued a report predicting that U.S. sales will "peak at 20 million vehicles in 2018 and then begin a down cycle that will hit a trough of 14 million to 15 million U.S. sales about 2025. The down cycle that starts in 2019 could take as long as a decade to return to peak levels again."
"Honda will gain market share; Nissan and the Korean automakers could slip and the rest, including the Detroit Three, should hold their own over the next four years," according to the influential Merrill Lynch 'Car Wars' report.
European automakers also are expected to see their market share slip slightly, with an average replacement rate of 18% of the lineup which is below the anticipated industry average of 20%. "Volkswagen continues to perplex in the U.S. market and can't seem to get any traction," BofA Merrill Lynch Analyst John Murphy said.
I'm skeptical about the idea of selling 20 million vehicles, considering that average sales of 12-15 million vehicles (from 1967 to present) is the norm. I also look at data indicating a still-weak recovery, the flat wage/salary levels and ask how such conditions will allow auto sales to continue to grow? Especially when, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 92,986,000 people are not participating in the workforce.
Time will tell if I'm right or Merrill Lynch is.
Anniversary: My wife and I have been married for 49 years as of yesterday.
That's a very long time for her to put up with my antics and foibles and I thank her profusely for her patience and love. Especially ... (more >>>)
The Land Of 24 Hour Sunshine? Here's an excerpt from a Better Homes and Gardens Lighting book, picked up at a lighting supply store (we just put in some new track lighting): "Any well-lit room should take in natural daylight as part of the lighting equation. In spaces with big windows, less artificial light may be required."
Oh, yeah - what about when it gets dark outside?
You need just as much light whether you have big windows or no windows.
Quip Of The Week is from Conan O'Brien: "Rachel Dolezal, the white NAACP leader who claimed for years she was black, was on 'The Today Show'. I don't know if she's learned her lesson. For the first hour she pretended to be Al Roker."
Book Review: 'Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania' by Erik Larson
The term 'nonfiction chronicle' is easily applied to Larson's books. They are based entirely on well-researched facts but are written with the excitement and intrigue of a novel. Erik's earlier works, 'In The Garden Of Beasts' and 'Devil in the White City', exemplify the genre.
Larson's narrative story centers on the luxury British ocean liner RMS Lusitania, whose sinking by a German submarine became a propaganda opportunity for Great Britain and helped shift U.S. public opinion against Germany, eventually bringing America into World War I.
Wednesday June 17, 2015
Electrified Scam: Elon Musk's Tesla Motors, SolarCity and SpaceX, together have benefited from an estimated $4.9 billion in government support. Tesla and SolarCity continue to report net losses after a decade in business. SpaceX doesn't report financials.
"In a 2008 blog post, Musk laid out a plan: After the sports car, Tesla would produce a sedan costing "half the $89k price point of the Tesla Roadster and the third model will be even more affordable." In fact, the second model now typically sells for $100,000, and the much-delayed third model, the Model X sport utility, is expected to sell for a similar price."
The Real Fuel for these ventures is tax dollars, which seem to burn quite well.
Recently, financial adviser Macolm Berko wrote, "I think P.T. Barnum and Elon Musk would have been great buddies. Tesla, one of the greatest shows of the 21st century, is making fools out of millions of Americans. Tesla makes beautiful cars; however, I'm convinced that this company lacks the right product and the necessary management skills and that it will never earn a profit. But its stock price has been impressive, and with a $29 billion market cap, TSLA is worth half as much as Ford even though Ford sells 75 times as many vehicles."
Finally, the Harvard Business Review has shot down ... (more >>>)
Farewell: Weaver Models, makers of O-scale trains and Scalecoat model railroad paint, will be closing its doors at the end of June.
I own a Weaver covered bulk hopper car, painted red and white, marked 'Bakelite Plastics'. It is a limited-edition, custom-run model made for Petersen Supply Co. of Portland, OR.
Bakelite is a thermosetting phenolic plastic, made - until recently ... (more >>>)
Remember When: James Lileks reminisced about The Good Old Days. Before Modern Times - i.e. Now - when people take photos and videos of everything, all the time, using their cell phones.
"How it was better when you had 24 pictures of your entire childhood, except for the slides which no one looked at because no one wanted to get out the damned projector and set up the damned screen with its curious fabric, the skin of a glittery albino reptile. You probably didn't have movies, but if you did they were probably ignored for the same reason as the slides. History was in short supply, period, husbanded at the library in books and cards, handed out for a limited time. (Unless you had an encyclopedia.)"
Let's see: There are some 8 mm films which were taken by my parents and my aunt, using a shared movie camera ... (more >>>)
Bad Pun Of The Day: Those who jump off a bridge in Paris are often 'in Seine'.
Monday June 15, 2015
Custom Gasoline: Formerly known as Sun Oil Co., the Philadelphia-based refiner was best known for its Sunoco 'custom blending pumps', an innovation that, beginning in 1958, allowed customers of Sunoco service stations to choose from several octane grades through a single gas pump.
Sunoco stations offered five to eight octane grades of 'Custom Blended' gasolines from its Dial-A-Grade pumps ranging from cheapie Sunoco 190 to super-premium, 102 octane Sunoco 260, which was very popular with ... (more >>>)
I Just Wrenched My Shoulder Trying To Pat Myself On The Back: In 2009, I offered a design of a Cadillac compact utility vehicle, based on the soon-to-be defunct Pontiac Vibe.
Leaked photos of the 2016 Cadillac SRX replacement exhibit similar lines, albeit on a larger platform.
Geezerville: I'm old enough to remember when the Hashtag was known as the Pound Sign. (permalink)
Happy Birthday ... to the Magna Carta which turned 800 years old today. The remarkable 1215 English document established the idea that everyone is subject to the law, even kings.
The then-radical concept that government is not above the law and that the basic rights of citizens can't be trampled on became the basis for today's democracies.
So, Barry O., How's That Export Thing Workin' For Ya? Recently, Mark Perry wrote, "In 2010, Obama set an ambitious goal to double U.S. exports and create two million new export-related jobs. That ended being a completely unrealistic goal U.S. exports over the last five years have increased by only about 28% in nominal terms and by only 22% in real terms."
One success: "U.S. exports of natural gas to Mexico, which have more than doubled over the last five years from fewer than 30 billion cubic feet per month in January 2010 to more than 71.5 billion cubic feet this year. But fossil fuels probably weren't the kind of export Obama had in mind when he announced his goal in 2010, and yet they've been the only types of export products that have doubled in the last five years."
Exporting raw materials is a low-hanging fruit activity - strictly price-based commodity stuff. What America's goal should be is to increase value-added exports, such as manufactured goods.
The Queen's Speech: Over the weekend, Queen Hillary Clinton had her campaign kickoff (Part Deux) on New York's Roosevelt Island, named for ol' Franklin Delano.
The FDR connection is a bit ironic because - no matter how you feel about the man and his actions - Roosevelt gave wonderful, uplifting speeches during the Depression. His 'Date which will live in infamy' address was heartfelt and inspiring.
Roosevelt was one of many Democrats who knew how to weave words and enthrall an audience. Others included ... (more >>>)
Questions For Today: Why do they put pictures of criminals up in the Post Office? What are we supposed to do - write to them? Why don't they just put their pictures on the postage stamps so the mailmen could look for them while they deliver the mail? Or better yet, arrest them while they are taking their pictures.
Thursday June 11, 2015
Makin' Mercs: Fifty years ago, Mercury was a hot-seller. In 1965, it ranked #8 in sales, ahead of Rambler, Chrysler, Cadillac, Lincoln and Studebaker. The full-size Monterey, Montclair and Park Lane models rode on a 123-inch wheelbase. Breezeway windows (an opening rear window with reverse slant glass, as seen on the 1958-60 Lincoln Continental models) were an option on four-door models.
1965 Mercury prices ranged from $2,700 to $3,500 depending on ... (more >>>)
Car Sighting: Saw my first BMW i3 electric city car toddling south on Interstate 5 this week in Oregon. The $45,000 four-seat runabout is truly weird-looking - as disturbing as Munch's Scream dude dressed in a clown suit.
Teslas cost twice as much but they are handsome cars. People seem willing to fork over money to get a better-looking electric vehicle.
Even the homely Nissan Leaf is better-looking than the i3; I see a couple of Leafs (or should it be Leaves?) each week. Of course, they're a lot less expesive, as well.
Graduation Day: Earlier this week, my wife and I traveled to Corvallis, Oregon in order to attend our grandson's high-school graduation.
Temperatures were in the upper 90s and, at Oregon State University's Gill Coliseum, air-conditioning was non-existent on Monday evening. But we were delighted to see our grandson receive his diploma. He begins college summer classes in less than two weeks.
I also got to meet his girlfriend and once again got to look over his Mazda3 i Sport, which he is enjoying a great deal. Zoom-Zoom.
I Never Had This Happen In High School! Did You? A high school teacher showed before and after photos of her boob job to students.
"Melissa Kidd, 34, who teaches at Woodside High School in Newport News, Virginia, was in a school building when she called up the pictures on her iPhone and gave the youngsters a look, according to court documents.
One student also said that he or she saw even more. According to the documents: 'One juvenile victim additionally reported being shown nude photographs of Kidd's breasts and genital areas'."
Book Review: 'Hidden In Plain Sight: What Really Caused the World's Worst Financial Crisis and Why It Could Happen Again' by Peter J. Wallison
This is a through and detailed - sometimes too detailed for my taste - book which demonstrates with facts and graphs that the root cause of the 2008 financial meltdown was the continued loosening of the Community Reinvestment Act, an insidious government mandate which forced lenders into relaxing their mortgage underwriting standards for loans to inner-city borrowers to the point that borrowers of all kinds were lying about their income and ability to repay loans.
You'll get no argument from me on that score. In September 2008 ... (more >>>)
Quote Of The Day is from Tom McMahon: "You can vote when you're 18, but you can't drink until you're 21. This gives Americans only 3 years to vote sober."
Monday June 8, 2015
Payments That Never Seem To End: The average new car loan now has a term of 67 months.
More than a fourth of all new light vehicles that were financed carried loans of 73 to 84 months. The average loan term in the quarter rose to 67 months for new vehicles and 62 months for used.
This may help explain why new car sales are at almost stratospheric levels these days. According to Tyler Durden, the three most popular new cars for people with FICO scores below 700 are the Chevy Cruze, Toyota Corolla and Nissan Altima.
College Costs Are Outta Control: In the 36-year period from 1978 to 2015, college tuition and fees have increased almost 12-fold. During the same period, medical care increased seven-fold, house prices increased five-fold (my guess is that the new car prices increased five-fold or so, too), while the Consumer Price Index increased less than four-fold.
The cost of college is now crazier than a bipolar Japanese schoolgirl in a Hello Kitty store.
Almost Makes Ya Want To Turn Socialist: In 2012, Americans spent $370 million on pet costumes. Pet stuff sells even faster than spare electrical parts at a British car meet.
A Prophet Without Honor In His Own Time: Fifty years ago, Daniel Patrick Moynihan issued an alarming report on the breakdown of the black family in urban ghettos. In a report titled, 'The Negro Family: The Case for Action', Assistant Secretary of Labor Moynihan warned that the deterioration of the black family would result in soaring crime rates if it continued unchecked.
Black leaders of 1965 were not happy with the content. Neither were many of Moynihan's liberal supporters.
Specifically, Mr. Moynihan wrote, "From the wild Irish slums of the 19th-century Eastern seaboard, to the riot-torn suburbs of Los Angeles, there is one unmistakable lesson in American history: A community that allows large numbers of young men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any set of rational expectations about the future - that community asks for and gets chaos. Crime, violence, unrest, disorder are not only to be expected, they are very near to inevitable."
And so it came to pass. When Moynihan wrote these words, the illegitimacy rate ... (more >>>)
Bad Pun Of The Day: Two peanuts walked into a bar and one was a salted.
Friday June 5, 2015
Party Hearty: Dan Neil has predicted the demise of the front-engined Corvette, noting that "with the near-certainty of a mid-engine Corvette before the end of the decade, enthusiasts have to think about which front-engine 'Vette to pull off the line and stick in the time capsule, the last, best example of gas-fired swagger in the Late Romantic Age.
They won't make them like this anymore, not for very long."
He notes that the styling makes the current Corvette "obviously an American fertility symbol, and never more so than in top-down, convertible form, when it looks like something out of a bachelorette-party gift bag."
Probably Has An Awesome Power-to-Weight Ratio: A jet-powered go-kart pushed just past 60 mph but that's because the runway ran out of room. Must have been a short runway. Or a longish driveway.
More Robots Are Coming, Whether You Like It Or Not: "News that efficient fast-food robots are entering the market have sent shudders through advocates of a guaranteed minimum wage. What's the sense of aiming for a career in flipping burgers if those jobs are poised to go the way of buggy-whip makers and slide-rule manufacturers? Technological innovation is menacing employment."
This is the inevitable consequence of the $15/hour minimum wage. Robots do not require Obamacare, maternity leave or vacation days ... (more >>>)
Congratulations to my grandson, who just won the John Phillip Sousa Award at his high school. The award recognizes superior musicianship, dependability, loyalty and cooperation.
He also won the OSAA (Oregon School Activities Assn.) Foundation Activity Scholar Award. Seniors who have achieved a 3.50 or higher cumulative GPA and competed in an OSAA-sanctioned activity are eligible for this award.
Headline Of The Week is from The Onion: 'TSA Agents To Now Simply Stand At Checkpoints And Remind Passengers That We All Die Someday'.
"Following the release of a report indicating that the agency failed 95% of security tests, the Transportation Security Administration announced Tuesday that agents will now simply stand at airport checkpoints and remind all passengers that everybody will eventually die someday."
"Oh. Nooooo!" Republican presidential candidate Lindsey Graham will never get my vote because he sounds too much like Bruce, the gay, vest-wearing, mustachioed dude on 'Family Guy'.
Dyslexic Political Correctness Run Amok: Pittsburgh has removed its 'Ziggin Zaggin' slogan from public buses because of complaints that it's "offensive when read backwards."
The message has appeared on Port Authority buses since 2003.
Quote Of The Day is from James Lileks on interior decorating: "Feathers are not part of my aesthetic cosmos. I see feathers, I think dead bird. I see a wreath of feathers, no matter how attractively arrayed, I see some giant pagan bird-god Rectum."
Wednesday June 3, 2015
May Auto Sales: Light vehicle sales were at a 17.9 million SAAR (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate) in May, up 6.2% from May 2014, and up 7.3% from the 16.5 million annual sales rate last month. This was above the consensus forecast, and the strongest sales pace since July 2005. It appears 2015 will be the best year for light vehicle sales since 2001.
This is an unusually strong number, considering that average sales of 12-15 million vehicles (from 1967 to present) - is the norm.
Sales at FCA US (Fiat-Chrysler) rose 4% from May 2014 levels as the automaker tallied its 62nd straight advance. GM, aided by truck- and crossover-brand GMC, climbed 3%, while Ford Motor Co. dropped 1%.
At Ford, volume at the Ford division slipped 2% on weaker output of F-Series pickups. Lincoln posted a 4% gain, selling 9,174 vehicles. Retail sales fell 2%, while fleet sales were flat.
Sales of the all-new Ford F-Series pickups declined by 10% in May to 61,870 units and sales so far this year are now down 1%. Ford noted again that its second F-150 assembly plant in Kansas City is expected to reach its full line speed in the second quarter and that inventory continues to build as the plant comes fully online. Last month Ford noted that the Kansas City plant fills many fleet orders, especially for pickups with regular cabs and long cargo boxes. Truck sales comprise about 34% of all Ford division sales, and the F-Series pickups account for 26% of total sales.
At FCA, volume of the Chrysler brand rose 32% to 29,802 vehicles, while Jeep gained 14% (79,652 units) and Ram sales increased 12% (43,598 trucks).
Dodge slid 22% to 45,268 units, while Fiat fell 19% to 3,857 automobiles. Dodge volume has been hurt by the discontinuation of the Avenger midsize sedan and brief suspension of Caravan minivan output to retool an assembly plant in Canada.
Most GM brands were in break-even territory. Buick eked out a very slight increase to 20,062 vehicles while Chevrolet was up 1% to 207,970. Cadillac fell 1.9 percent, to 14,408 units.
GMC, General Motors' second-biggest brand by volume, scored a 13% advance to 50,657 trucks, thanks mainly to the Acadia and the new Canyon mid-sized pickup. The automaker said its retail sales rose 7%.
Toyota Motor Co. sales were down fractionally, due primarily to 22% drop in Scion sales. American Honda sales were up only 1% (although Acura sales rose 16% to 17,042 units), while Hyundai-Kia sales were off 4%, led by a drop of 10% for the Hyundai brand. Subaru sales increased 12% to 49,561 vehicles. The Volkswagen brand chalked up a rare monthly gain, up 8% (34,758 units). Mazda sales dropped slightly to 29,606 vehicles, while Nissan sales also fell slightly to 124,305 units.
Mercedes-Benz sold 33,352 vehicles in May, an increase of 12%. BMW's sales rose 5% to 31,003 units. Lexus sales surged 10% to 29,571. Sales of Audi increased 11%, to 18,428 vehicles.
177 Ferraris found U.S. buyers in May, while Maserati sales increased 17% to 1,314, beating Jaguar by 110 autos.
And finally, 244 posh new Bentleys and 95 elegant Rolls-Royces found well-heeled U.S. buyers last month.
Don't Step On My Blue Suede Shoes: Well, they're slippers, actually.
My brand-new Suede Flannel-Lined Slippers are from L.L. Bean. They replace the tan (a color described in the catalog as 'Driftwood') ones which gave yeoman service and years of great comfort until ... (more >>>)
Book Review: 'So, Anyway ...' by John Cleese
Let the record show that I am a big fan of Monty Python. I've watched every movie in a theater - not just on video. In 2007, I saw 'Spamalot' and enjoyed every minute of it.
So, anyway, I was expecting Cleese's book to be funny and informative, in the manner of Billy Crystal's '700 Sundays'. Sadly, that didn't happen.
Cleese's book was .... (more >>>)
Caitlyn Fallout: Dave Burge asked, "How come trans people never pick Mildred or Bertha as their new name?" And, noting that Bruce Jenner once appeared on a Wheaties box: "Wheaties might be the Breakfast of Champions, but they never talk about the side effects."
Dave also offered a handy suggestion for the rest of us: "Next time you get pulled over for a DUI tell the cop you identify as sober."
Quote Of The Day is from the character, Carl Wilcox, created by writer Harold Adams: "A pat on the back is only a few centimeters from a kick in the pants."
Monday June 1, 2015
Twenty-First Century Painting: The Bowling Green, Kentucky factory that assembles the Chevrolet Corvette is spending $439 million to build a new paint shop.
Covering 450,000 square-feet (almost half the size of the entire current production facility), the site will "make painting the 'Vette more efficient and environmentally friendly. The upgrades there include robots that use paint more effectively, technology to eliminate sludge water, LED lighting to improve inspections, and less energy-intensive baking ovens. While the groundbreaking is already complete for the building, full construction is expected to begin this summer and take two years."
It used to be that you could throw together a pretty decent paint booth in a weekend for a few thousand bucks. Not so today ... (more >>>)
Sharp Dressed Man: Every two years, in the little Italian town of Vicenza, merchants gather for the biggest religious fair in the world. Vestment producers, sculptors and rosary sellers satisfy a growing demand for religious articles, from Pope Francis fridge magnets to devotional candles, a business that generates billions in Italy alone.
The 135,000 square-foot exhibit hall is "filled with life-size statues of Mary, every possible type of holy water sprinklers and the very latest collection of cassocks and tunics."
One visitor, Father Pasquale of Calabria, checked out a stand that displays light blue vestments embossed in silk velvet and gold laminated prints, his eyes filled with amazement and joy. He reaches to feel the fabric with his fingertips and hums with delight. "You have Armani, Gucci or Prada," he says. "This is our version of haute couture." M-kay.
The stand belongs ... (more >>>)
Mano A Mano: Bruce Jenner will model for the cover of Vanity Fair as a woman. The former athlete is "currently transitioning to a female" and is set to undertake a photoshoot with world famous photographer Annie Leibovitz, who looks more manly than any other woman I've seen.
RIP: Morris Wilkins, developer of the heart-shaped bathtub has died of heart failure at age 90.
During the post-World War II marriage boom, when gas shortages persuaded honeymooners from New York and Philadelphia to stay closer to home, hoteliers began luring newlyweds to the Pocono Mountains instead of to Niagara Falls.
In 1968, Wilkins, owner of the Cove Haven Resort, designed and installed the Poconos' first heart-shaped bathtub. That same year ... (more >>>)
Lotto BS: Recently Thomas Sowell wrote, "One of the ways of fighting poverty, Obama proposed, was to "ask from society's lottery winners" that they make a "modest investment" in government programs to help the poor.
But the government does not "ask" anything. It seizes what it wants by force. If you don't pay up, it can take not only your paycheck, it can seize your bank account, put a lien on your home and/or put you in federal prison. So please don't insult our intelligence by talking piously about "asking.""
Exchange Of The Day ... is from an old episode of 'Hollywood Squares': Peter Marshall: "Paul, why do Hell's Angels wear leather?" Paul Lynde: "Because chiffon wrinkles too easily."
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