A Blog About Cars ... And More
Thursday March 29, 2018
AutoSketch: 1947 Studebaker - "Which Way Is It Going?"
After $11 million was spent on its development, the 1947 Studebaker - unveiled in June 1946 - rocked the automotive world. Its breakthrough styling instantly made every other new car look old-fashioned and forced every other car maker play to catch-up. The same envelope-bodied, three-box shape can still be seen in many of the designs of today's cars.
Industry analysts of the period described the car as "years ahead of the competition." And, indeed, it was. Compare ... (more >>>)
Miracle Discovery ... makes night driving safer than day. This 1931 Popular Science ad states: "An amazingly queer yet simple invention lifts the curse of night driving from the motoring world. This altogether new discovery called 'Perfect-O-Lite', replaces old glass 'bulbs' in your automobile headlights with truly amazing results."
Why Not Attach Playing Cards To The Wheels With Clothespins? The U.S. Department of Transportation has declared that, starting September 2020, any 'quiet' four-wheeled vehicle (such as an electric or hybrid) "with a GVWR of less than 10,000 pounds must emit a pedestrian-warning noise at speeds below 18.6 miles per hour."
Book Review: 'Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don't Matter' by Scott Adams
I enjoy Adams' 'Dilbert' cartoon and his blog posts abut politics, so I thought I would enjoy the book. I did somewhat. But it felt like ... (more >>>)
Another Portland Icon Disappears: Legendary druggist and cosmetics developer, Bob Heldfond owned Central Drug Store on Alder in downtown Portland for many years. The business was founded by his father in 1903. Since it was pretty much the only pharmacy in the downtown core in the 1980s, it was always busy with perpetual lines at the prescription counter. Central Drug was undoubtedly a big money maker.
Robert C. Heldfond later became quite famous and even more prosperous ... (more >>>)
In Search Of Excellence: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is taking heat for allegedly telling staffers he would focus on "excellence" and finding the "best people" to work at the department, not "diversity." Good for Mr. Zinke; I want the most talented people hired with my tax dollars - not some Rainbow Coalition morons.
"Zinke's lack of concern over "diversity" at the Interior Department angered some staffers, who rushed to tell CNN." Because CNN revels in such drivel and has become angrier than a drag queen who's run out of duct tape.
Diversity is crap ... (more >>>)
Quote Of The Day is from Nicolás Gómez Dávila (aka - Don Colacho): "Where Christianity disappears, greed, envy, and lust invent a thousand ideologies to justify themselves."
Tuesday March 27, 2018
2018 Consumer Reports' Annual Auto Issue: Consumers Union began as a socialist organization in the 1930s and was once declared a subversive organization by the House Un-American Activities Committee. They still come off as a bunch of anti-capitalist lefties sometimes but Consumer Reports magazine remains the most comprehensive and believable of vehicle reliability surveys.
CR's database comes from "more than 640,000" vehicles owned by subscribers who fill out Consumer Reports' annual survey. That's only half as many vehicles that surveyed in 2012. Cars which are awarded the coveted Top Picks or Buy Recommendation now only need to score 'average' in reliability.
Here are some interesting tidbits from the magazine ... (more >>>)
Presenting ... the 2019 Toyota Yaris. I'll take mine in Stormtrooper White, Please.
Truckin': Uber has been sending self-driving trucks on delivery runs across Arizona since November, the first step in what could be a freight transportation revolution that could leave long-haul truckers in the cold.
"After testing its technology earlier in 2017, Uber began contracting with trucking companies to use its own autonomous Volvo big rigs to take over loads as they traverse the state. Uber did not disclose what items it is transporting for which companies."
Scary, but those trucks are probably safer than the tractor-trailers I see around here piloted by chain-smoking Eastern Europeans hopped up on goofballs.
Hope You Have A Big, Juicy One Today: Today is National Cheesesteak Day:
Big Trouble With Big China: I'm old enough to remember when Richard Nixon made his historic visit to China in 1972. We were told that it was was an important strategic and diplomatic overture that marked the culmination of the Nixon administration's resumption of "harmonious" relations between the U.S. and China. At the time, I asked, "What's in this deal for us?"
Bill Clinton granted "most favored nation" trading status to China in 1994 and I asked the same question. When George W. Bush made China's MFN status permanent in 2001, I still wanted to know, "What's in this deal for us?" I never got a straight answer from any of these presidents.
Recently, Pat Buchanan wrote, "America's elites believed that economic engagement and the opening of U.S. markets would cause the People's Republic to coexist benignly with its neighbors and the West.
We deluded ourselves. It did not happen. Xi Jinping just changed China's constitution to allow him to be dictator for life. He continues to thieve intellectual property from U.S. companies and to occupy and fortify islets in the South China Sea, which Beijing now claims as entirely its own.
Meanwhile, China sustains North Korea as Chinese warplanes and warships circumnavigate Taiwan threatening its independence.
We today confront a Chinese Communist dictatorship and superpower that seeks to displace America as first power on earth, and to drive the U.S. military back across the Pacific."
The Red China of the 1950s has not changed, except they've gotten rich by selling stuff to us. Our trade deficit with China is almost $400 billion dollars. And our chief 'export' to China is used cardboard - so that China can make more boxes to pack more goods for export to us.
I hope Donald Trump rebalances this unfair trade agreement with these Sino-Commies.
The Truth Will Set You Free … but you may end up wearing high heels and fishnet stockings: A former pastor spent years "setting gay people free," but that was before he "embraced his own sexuality." After coming out to his family, Zach Coleman left his church and moved to New York City, where he performs as a drag queen with the stage name 'Stella'. Zach says he can now "see God in a more clear light." M-kay.
Quote Of The Day is from Dave Burge: "Politics is the art of giving people the free silverware you ransacked from their house."
Friday March 23, 2018
Another Day Older And Deeper In Debt: Auto sales continue to drop, yet Americans are borrowing more money than ever to buy new and used vehicles, according Experian's analysis of the fourth quarter of 2017.
Experian shows that auto loans are at record highs for new vehicles, $31,099, and used vehicles, $19,589. Additionally, the amount of money loaned to purchase vehicles is up for the quarter to $1.12 billion.
On average, a new car loan is a little more than 69 months, while the average used vehicle loan has a term of just over 64 months. Buyers are extending their loans to get their payments lower in order to buy more expensive vehicles.
According to Edmunds.com, the price paid for a new vehicle rose more than 10% over the last five years. Last year, the average price paid for a new vehicle was an all-time high of $35,176 - up from $33,532 in 2015 and $31,773 in 2013.
Some 85.1% of all new car buyers and 53.8% of used car buyers financed vehicle purchases in the fourth quarter of 2017. The average monthly payment for a new vehicle hit $515. This is a staggering number to me. The monthly payment on our first new home (mortgage and taxes) was only $175/month.
No Surprises Here: The 2018 Edmunds Trade-In Loyalty Report, which examines information collected from 13.9 million vehicle transactions from 2007 to 2017, indicated that Toyota, Honda and Subaru are tops in brand loyalty.
"According to the report, the reputation Toyota and Honda have for quality and reliability keep buyers coming back to the brand."
Help Request: Trayon White is a member of the District of Columbia's city council - and is black and anti-semitic - has claimed that a Jewish cabal of financiers are controlling the weather.
If there are any Jewish bankers who read this blog, please send me some warmth and sunshine so I can drive my '39 Plymouth. It's
Learn From 'The Simpsons': There are plans to build a 70-story skyscraper made of wood in Tokyo. It is expected to cost $5.6 billion. Based on my voracious watching of 'The Simpsons, I predict that this will not end well.
Listed as one of my Top 10 'Simpsons' episodes, 'Marge vs. The Monorail' makes reference to a Springfield skyscraper made of popsicle sticks, which - in an all-too-typical example of shortsighted urban-planning - was located across the street from a gigantic, 50-foot magnifying glass. Naturally, the building burned to the ground on a very sunny day.
As Marge Simpson often says, "Mmmmmmm - I don't think that's a good idea."
Just Over Ten Years Ago ... I wrote that I was in a generally foul mood, "having just been exposed to two Powerpoint-equipped bleeding-heart turnips wasting an hour of my life at a meeting, whilst promoting their seriously-flawed charitable endeavor which is financed in its entirety by gummint edict (i.e. - our money).
I am convinced that 97.8% of these liberal 'we-gotta-help-people' ideas should be brutally tossed from the roof a thirty-five story building onto a rusty, urine-encrusted, loosey-goosey exposed box spring in the Alley of Results-based, Practical Experience."
Rest assured that somewhere today, some hapless do-gooder is wasting your hard-earned tax dollars on something foolish.
Today Is National Puppy Day: I remember my first dog, which I received as a pup 70 years ago this month. His name was Winky and, yes, he did wink at people. I hope his little dog-soul is romping around happily somewhere.
I'll never forget you, old friend. God bless all puppies. (permalink)
Social Media Meltdown: Facebook is not having a good week - deservedly so - because people's personal data has been harvested and sold. The surprise is that it took so long for the public to realize this.
At The Federalist, Robert Tracinski wrote, "What strikes me most is the contrast between this and the Internet era before social media, before Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube swallowed up everything. I'm talking about the 2000s, the great era of the blogs. Do you remember what that blog era was like? It felt like liberation."
"The era of blogging offered the promise of a decentralized media. Anybody could publish and comment on the news and find an audience. Guys writing in their pajamas could take down Dan Rather. We were bypassing the old media gatekeepers. And we had control over it! We posted on our own sites. We had good discussions in our own comment fields, which we moderated. I had and still have an extensive e-mail list of readers who are interested in my work, most of which I built up in that period, before everybody moved onto social media."
"But then Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube came along and killed the blogs." Well, not so much. Blogs are smaller in number these days but many good ones remain alive and well. Don't forget, you're reading this posting on a blog ... (more >>>)
Bad Pun Of The Day: A pessimist's blood is always B Negative.
Wednesday March 21, 2018
No Name: Starting with the 2019 model year, Buick will do away with the Buick nameplate on all its products. The only identifier remaining will be the tri-shield emblem. Buick spokesman Stu Fowle said that the decision relates to "global brand consistency," and that General Motors feels "the tri-shield has enough recognition to stand on its own."
Harley Earl must be spinning in his grave. Buick was the late stylist's favorite brand and he always imbued Buick with Earl Magic by adding unique design details throughout. And lettering.
Ever since the 1990s, when its sales went in the tank, Buick has been ... (more >>>)
I Must Be Feeling Better ... because at 1:30 pm Monday, I was motivated enough to fire up my '39 Plymouth coupe and take a drive. There was sunshine galore with blue skies and puffy, cartoon-like clouds. Everything was in bloom from clumps of heather to a group of magnolia trees along my route. Spring is upon us.
The temperature was a brisk 49 degrees but I had an enjoyable time outdoors. Temperatures dipped below freezing that night.
Will Make Other Supercar Manufacturers Pista-Off: Introduced at the Geneva Auto Show, the Ferrari 488 Pista is mid-engined, makes 710 horsepower, does 0-60 in 2.85 seconds and will go 211 mph.
Book Review: 'Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World' by Eric Metaxas
In this nearly 450-page book, author Metaxas produces a thorough biography of Martin Luther, the once-Catholic priest who spearheaded the Reformation and probably saved the Catholic Church from collapsing due to the weight of its own corruption. I favorably reviewed the author's earlier work, 'Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy', and was not disappointed by 'Martin Luther'.
This book is full of ... (more >>>)
Pierced And Bloodied: Claire's - once known as Claire's Boutique, the mall chain that has pierced the ears of millions of teens while offering low-cost jewelry, make-up and accessories, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Dying American malls have claimed another victim. During the high-flying, mall-walking days of the 1980s, Claire's was opening two Boutiques every week in the U.S.
In 2017, a total of ... (more >>>)
Pair Of Luftwaffe Bombers Spotted:
During a night out at the opera, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's breasts prepared to burst out of her dress and invade Poland.
Good Design; Obsolete Media Platforms: Recently, James Lileks wrote, "I work in a newsroom - did you know that? It's true! - and I see what goes into the print design, and how much attention is paid to providing a quality print experience. The problem, and the reason I'm torn, is that this isn't being replicated on the digital side. A well-designed print newspaper can be a pleasure to read. A well-designed digital newspaper? It can be better than the physical thing.
But everyone's on their phones and they're coming from Facebook. From the big broadsheet experience, unfurled, held out like a treasure map in the noon sun, to peeking through a keyhole on a small screen.
Oh, but what about desktop? Pfft. The desktop digital audience will soon be the equivalent of the paper demographic: old. The home page is holding its own for the moment, but people come in via the side door all the time. They snack, or they wander down the buffet line. What they don't do is sit and look at the menu and order cocktails and chat and look at the menu some more, then order, and enjoy some appetizers.
This can't have a good effect on design. It kills design.
What the hell happened? Why didn't the tablet save us? Is it simply because you can't put it in your pocket when you go to the bathroom? Is it because it's redundant, when you already have another portable screen that also doubles as a device for taking pictures of your sushi?"
Quote Of The Day is from Thomas Sowell: "If you took all the fraud out of politics, there might not be a lot left."
Monday March 19, 2018
Aerodynamics Isn't Everything: Dave Burge weighs in on contemporary car design: "Screw wind tunnels, they ruined vehicle design. Wind resistance is a minor tax on awesomeness."
They sure did, Dave.
Electric Luxury: As reported by Automotive News Europe, Tesla's Model S sedan finished 2017 ahead of the continent's luxury standard bearers for the very first time. Thanks to a 30% sales jump, Model S sales leaped ahead of flagships from the big three premium German brands.
"According to JATO Dynamics data, Tesla recorded 16,132 Model S sales in the region last year. That tops Mercedes-Benz's S-Class, which sold 13,359 units over the same period. BMW's 7 Series sold 11,735 examples in 2017, while Audi's A8/S8 brought up the rear with just under 6,000 deliveries."
Honoring St. Joseph: Today, Catholics around the world celebrate the feast day of St. Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus.
Slooooow: I'm still recovering from the surgery last week ... slowly. No pep. Getting old is hell; you just don't bounce back the way you used to:
Although, I did have enough stamina to Photoshop that Lincoln Navigator Town Car image the day after my surgery. And I felt well enough to celebrate St. Patrick's Day with homemade Irish Soda Bread and homemade Shepherd's Pie. Thanks to my wife who slaved all day to create both delicious items. Erin go Bragh!
Public Service Announcement For Dummies: Inexplicably, Kellogg's felt the need to declare that Pop-Tarts are not ravioli. I guess that means that a stack of three or four isn't lasagna, either.
Actions Now Have Consequences In DC: And it's about time. Don Surber wrote that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions "just fired crooked, lying, sneaky FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, denying him a taxpayer-provided pension bonanza just 48 hours before McCabe planned to retire on his 50th birthday."
"On Wednesday, the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility recommended that McCabe should be fired as a result of claims in the DOJ watchdog report that he misled investigators about his decision to authorize FBI officials to speak to the media about an investigation into the Clinton Foundation," CNN reported.
Surber commented, "Sessions has solid ground to fire him." "After an extensive and fair investigation and according to Department of Justice procedure, the Department's Office of the Inspector General provided its report on allegations of misconduct by Andrew McCabe to the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility," Sessions said in a press release.
Another swamp creature has left the building.
Understanding Words: When I was in high school, I thought 'rectilinear' was a fancy way of saying 'straight up your ass.' So, I peppered my invectives with things like: "Rectilinear to you, jerk!"
I also thought that 'incontinent' meant going to Europe. I told people, "I can't wait 'till I get older and get incontinent."
Of course, I couldn't go to Europe back then. Because, in those days before airline deregulation, airfares were absolutely rectilinear.
Little Known Facts: In January 1943, the sale of pre-sliced bread was banned to reduce bakeries' demand for metal parts during the war. Later in the year, canned food and shoes were rationed.
Thought For Today: You can't take it with you; that's why hearses don't have luggage racks.
Friday March 16, 2018
The Model Name That Keeps Dying: The first Lincoln Continental was a 1940 model. It was killed off by Ford's Whiz Kids after the 1948 model year because of poor sales. The Continental Mark II was introduced as a '56 model and was killed off in 1957 because of poor sales. During the 1958-60 period, the Continental nameplate was the top-of-the line Lincoln model but didn't sell well. See a pattern here?
In 1961, all Lincolns were badged as Continental models - this pattern continued until the 1980s. A mid-size Lincoln Continental sedan was introduced in 1982 to compete with the Cadillac Seville. It did not sell well. For 1988, a Ford Taurus-based front-wheel drive Lincoln Continental was introduced. The model was updated for 1995 and received a V8 engine. The Continental was discontinued after the 2002 model year because of declining sales.
In 2017, the Continental name was revived and is based on a stretched Ford Fusion/Lincoln MKZ platform. Now - 19 months later - "sources intricately familiar with Ford Motor Company's future product plans" for the domestic luxury brand say the Continental will again be discontinued. Weak sales - a problem with many sedan models - are cited as the cause. The 2018 Continental currently sells at a rate of 800 sedans per month or so. Part of the problem may also be a six-cylinder motor and FWD on an $80,000 vehicle.
My idea: Bring back a big V8 model with AWD - a sedan version of the Lincoln Navigator with lower ground clearance. Call it a Town Car. It should be noted that ... (more >>>)
Hope It Wasn't Her Drinking Hand: Hillary Clinton sprained her hand during her visit to India, after slipping on stairs while out touring a palace last week during her worldwide book tour. The story was later updated to indicate that, in addition to falling on steps, Hillary broke her wrist after slipping in a bathtub at the palace where she was staying. Lucky that bottle of Chardonnay didn't break, too - glass shards and all that.
As a result of her injury she was forced to cancel a handful of visits. "The injury follows just five months after she broke her toe in a fall in London, but this time the cameras were rolling as she tumbled down the stone steps of the Jahaj Maha palace where aides came to assist and held her by the arms."
Quote Of The Day is from Steven Wright: "The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard."
Wednesday March 14, 2018
Soaking Up Vitamin D: On Monday at 11:30 am, the temperature was a semi-balmy 63 degrees. There were blue skies with high, wispy-white clouds - high enough that the mountains weren't obscured - and lots of sun, too. It was definitely sunglasses weather.
The aforementioned mountains were still covered in blindingly white snow. With rain in the forecast, I decided to take an old car drive while the weather was still favorable, so I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and drove along a back roads loop near home.
Traffic was light. I did run into one school bus. Apparently, one of the area schools was having what administrators call "early release" - a euphemism more appropriate for sexual dysfunction clinics, moderately-seedy massage parlors and the like. But the bus took off in the opposite direction before I had come to a full stop so my journey wasn't impeded.
All in all, I had a very enjoyable trek. By Tuesday morning, it was pouring rain.
Expensive, Poorly-Built Little Tesla: Consumer Reports purchased a Tesla Model 3. It was not the basic, $35,000 entry-level version, which is as rare as the element Unobtanium. CR's tested car came with the $9,000 long-range battery (310-mile range), $5,000 in premium upgrades, the $5,000 enhanced Autopilot system and the $3,000 self-driving capability option. The final purchase price was $59,000 including the destination fee.
Consumer Reports' testers liked the car's acceleration and handling but were less excited about the ride quality in what they called a luxury compact: "The car is overly stiff, struggling to absorb bumps with the dignity expected from a luxury car. There's also considerable wind noise at highway speeds."
The Model 3 comes without a key. The owner's smartphone is the key: install an app on your phone and the car senses that you're on your way, unlocks the car and lets you drive away by putting the car in gear.
In related news ... (more >>>)
Record Breaker: "For over four decades, Joe Girard has held the Guinness World Record for the most automotive sales in a single year. The 89-year-old retiree is so proud of his achievement that his own website proclaims him as the greatest retail salesman in history, selling 1,425 new cars in 1973."
I read Girard's 1977 bestseller, 'How To Sell Anything To Anybody' and found helpful tips in the book although some of Joe's techniques were a bit on the hokey side.
Apparently Girard's record has been beaten by 44-year-old Ali Reda, a Cadillac and Chevrolet salesman from Dearborn, Michigan, who sold 1,530 new vehicles and 52 used vehicles in 2017.
Ali better watch his back. Apparently, Joe Girard - like a screw-top Chardonnay left on a windowsill - has not aged well. He has a reputation for vindictiveness. "A 2011 Automotive News article said he never forgave a boss who fired him. He mailed a copy of his W-2 annual earnings statement to his old boss with a note at the bottom telling him, "You fired the wrong guy." After the boss died, the article said, Girard took a W-2 to the cemetery and buried it atop the man's casket." Ouch.
Book Review: 'Republican Like Me: How I Left the Liberal Bubble and Learned to Love the Right' by Ken Stern
I watched Tucker Carlson interview the author and was inspired to read his 350-page book. Unfortunately ... (more >>>)
Energy-Shaming: Last week, we received a letter from our utility company, scolding us because it claims we're using 86% more electricity than "similar homes."
I don't know how it figures this but we have replaced all three heat pumps within the last four years, receiving rebates from the utility for our efficient choices. We also had all air ducts resealed and insulated in 2015. Our two water heaters are energy efficient as are all of our appliances. When it snows, the roof our house remains snow-covered almost as long as the roof of our unheated detached garage.
The same letter informed us ... (more >>>)
Happy Birthday, Dad: My father would have turned 99 today.
Joke Of The Day is from Henny Youngman: A car hit an elderly Jewish man. The paramedic asked, "Are you comfortable?" The man said, "I make a good living."
Monday March 12, 2018
"Well We're Living Here In Allentown ..." When I was growing up in Philadelphia, it seemed as if every truck I saw was a Mack. In those days, Mack was headquartered in Allentown, PA, about 60 miles north of Philly.
When I moved to the Pacific Northwest, Mack sightings became scarce. Most big trucks I spotted were Peterbilts, Kenworths or Freightliners - all West Coast brands, with manufacturing facilities in the region.
I don't pay much attention to the truck market and was surprised to learn ... (more >>>)
Weekend Surprise: It won't be officially Spring for another 10 days but Saturday felt like May. At 11:30 am temperature in the lower 50s nary a cloud in the sky.
Naturally, I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and went for a drive along the lightly-traveled back roads of North Clark County, admiring the emerging greenery and realizing it's a good time to be alive. (Especially after my recent good results at the Oncology Center.) Mt. St. Helens remains covered in snow as do the Eastern Cascade foothills - both were clearly visible.
When I dropped the hammer at a stop sign, the Plymouth sounded a bit like Dave Burge's almost-finished Coupe of Wrath, although I suspect his V8 engine in his coupe is more powerful than the one in mine.
Compare the noise for yourself - you can hear (and see) the Plymouth in action here.
It was a fun drive and I enjoyed the surprisingly good weather. And the rumble of the Glasspacks.
Best Of All, It's A Cadillac: Or, at least, it looks like one, especially with that front end. The Hyundai Le Fil Rouge concept sedan is supposed to define the future design direction of the brand.
It appears very Caddyesque to me. And I'm a sucker for French names. Facel Vega. Pont-à-Mousson. Coq au Vin. Pommes frites. Catherine Deneuve. Bordeaux. Etc.
The View From The El: Looking at some old Philadelphia photographs recently, I was reminded of the many times I rode the Frankford El - now designated the Frankford-Market Street Line - a rapid transit train which is elevated for much of the line and becomes a subway train in downtown. The line was completed in 1922.
In his excellent book, 'You Can't Get to Heaven on the Frankford El', author Tom Lyons relates stories about growing up in Northeast Philadelphia including riding on the old, dark-green rattly Frankford El train cars in the '40s and '50s.
I was a regular El patron from age 3 when ... (more >>>)
March 2018 Update: Last week, I visited the Oncology Center for a blood test, which measures cancer markers - carcinoembryonic antigen. Mine is now 0.9, which remains well within normal range (0-5.0 µg/L according to my oncologist).
Here are my test results over time ... (more >>>)
Breaking The 'Render To Caesar' Rule: The Archdiocese of Seattle is running a series of 'Know Your Rights' workshops which seem to me to be tailored for immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally. Last week, one was held at St. John the Evangelist Church in NE Vancouver, WA - about a 10 minute drive from my house.
The event, presented in Spanish, was attended by about 300 people, which was "held in the church sanctuary, with kids spilling out to the foyer and other rooms to watch a movie so their parents could concentrate on the presentations."
Immigration lawyer Larkin VanDerhoef offered advice for immigrants on dealing with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, including ... (more >>>)
More MAGA: Republic Steel has plans to recommission at least one blast furnace at its Lorain, Ohio facility by the end of this year. They are also estimating the possibility of putting a second blast furnace back on-line due to production forecasts resulting from President Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs.
Since 2015 (aka: The Obama Years), over 1,000 workers in Lorain have been laid off. If Republic Steel fires up two blast furnaces at this ironworks, over 1,000 jobs could be created depending on the number of shifts per day.
So much Winning. I can hardly stand it.
Question Of The Day is from Tom McMahon: "Why do we bother ticketing smokers for not wearing their seatbelts?"
Friday March 9, 2018
Drive-In Deluxe: A photo dated June 1951 of Busch's Drive-in in Tacoma, WA shows a light-colored 1939 Plymouth DeLuxe four-door phaeton with an aftermarket convertible top featuring a novel wrap-around rear window.
The Plymouth looks to be in good shape except for the paint damage on the right rear fender and a dark-colored left rear fender. (permalink)
EuroZap: European sales of battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles totaled 307,400 units last year, up 39% compared with 2016. Electric vehicles accounted for 1.7% of total car sales in Europe last year, and they accounted for 2.6% of all December sales.
The largest gain came in Germany, where sales rose by 30,000 units, up 108% year over year. Electric vehicles accounted for 1.6% of Germany's 2017 total sales and 2.3% of December sales.
On a percentage basis, electric vehicle sales in Norway amounted to 33% of all 2017 sales, reaching 42% of total December sales. Norway currently plans to ban the sales of new fossil-fueled cars in 2025.
The top-selling electric vehicle in Europe is the Renault Zoe, a battery electric with a range of about 130 miles. Renault sold more than 31,000 Zoes in 2017, up 45% year over year. The BMW i3 came in second with 20,957 little coupes finding buyers. 12,655 Tesla Model Xs were sold in Europe last year. It should be noted that many European countries provide far greater subsidies for electric vehicles than does the U.S.
If I Ever Win The Lottery, I'll Buy One: British coachbuilder David Brown Automotive took the wraps off its new Aston Martin-inspired Speedback Silverstone Edition, an ultra-luxury GT.
Just 10 examples are planned to be built by hand, with the car priced at $860,000 or so. The Silverstone Edition is powered by a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 that makes 601 horsepower.
Have A Ball ... Or Two ... Or More: Today is National Meatball Day. I hope you celebrate the occasion with a meatball sub, a plate of pasta topped with meatballs or some of the Swedish variety.
I've had meatballs in with marinara sauce with pasta twice so far this week. Perfecto! - And the week isn't over yet.
Words Of Wisdom For This Week ... are from Lance Morrow: "Leading universities have turned themselves into hybrids of Mr. Rogers' neighborhood and Mao's Red Guards. They have become madrassas of identity politics, given over to dogmatism, indoctrination, the coddling of grievance, and the encouragement and manipulation of neurotic youthful insecurities for the purpose of consolidating political power. The effects of travesties being committed on American campuses, where the mind of the hard Left is embedded in faculties, administrations, and boards of overseers, will be felt for generations. The damage may be irreparable.
Consider the comedy of the pronouns, which is symptomatic - and hilarious, if you can stand it."
Quote Of The Day is from the late Gracie Allen: "Build a better mousetrap than your neighbor and Kraft Cheese will beat a path to your door."
Wednesday March 7, 2018
Now A Teenager: My wife's 2005 Toyota Avalon Limited turned 13 years-old this week:
With 68,580 miles on the odometer, it still looks almost new inside and out. This year, we replaced ... (more >>>)
Gassin' Up: At 11:20 am Monday, there was no rain and the temperature was in the upper 40s, so I fired up my '39 Plymouth business coupe, drove into town and gassed up my old car. There's only one station in Battle Ground that carries non-winter-mix premium grade fuel. At $4.50/gallon. With pumps that are difficult to work and non-intuitive. Nozzles that never shut off properly and spill pricey fuel all over the fender. And a receipt printer that hasn't worked in years. No wonder no one calls these places 'service stations' any more.
I hate patronizing the place; nevertheless, I showed up prepared with a bucket of slightly soapy water, a wash mitt and towels to clean off the fender afterward. When I got home, I waxed the area around the filler pipe, just in case.
Aside from that, my outing went well. The car ran great and traffic was light as I drove along the back roads of unincorporated Battle Ground. There were blue patches amongst the clouds but Mt. St. Helens remained hidden. Sunglasses weren't needed. Several people gave me thumbs-up as I passed; I waved back to those folks for their appreciation of old cars.
I had an enjoyable drive. I must add that Tuesday was sunny with nearly cloudless skes and views of all the snow-capped mountains, which is why I love the Pacific Northwest (when conditions are right).
Brought To You ... By Electricity: Electric trucks are in the news these days. Tesla, Navistar and others are developing all-electric delivery trucks, while UPS is converting 1,500 of its delivery vans to electric operation. Navistar has been testing its electric vehicles, which boast a 100-mile range, tight turning circle, and an up to 4,400-pound payload with Federal Express.
Tall Price; Short Range: According to MotorWeek, the 2018 Smart two-seater is only available as an electric car. Offering a mere 57-mile range on a charge, prices start at $28,000. Only 106 of these stubby two-seaters found U.S. buyers in February, a year-over-year decline of 70%.
Don't Forget: Today is National Pancake Day. I had a stack of homemade ones on Sunday.
Book Review: 'Kennedy Babylon: A Century of Scandal and Depravity - Volume I' by Howie Carr
The Kennedy balloon known as Camelot has been leaking air for years as multi-generational scandals have poked holes in the inflated legend. Now Howie Carr comes along and stomps the myth flat with his fun, informative, 268-page paperback book. I particularly liked the ... (more >>>)
Web Update: I've recently updated my web page posting, 'Planning A Funeral Service' which now includes more current statistical information.
It's About Time: Because Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) supports abortion-on-demand and recently voted against a bill to ban abortions after five months, Catholic Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois has declared that 72 year-old Durbin - Minority Whip of the Senate - is objectively "cooperating in evil," persisting in "manifest grave sin," and he must therefore "not be admitted to Holy Communion until he repents of his sin."
Finally, there is a Catholic Bishop who actually upholds Catholic teaching. I'm waiting patiently for the Archbishop of the Seattle Diocese to excommunicate those allegedly Catholic Senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, who also voted against the bill. The Democrat party has become the party of death, with its leaders repeatedly touting abortion as part of its platform.
Quote Of The Day is from Sir Winston Churchill: "You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life."
Monday March 5, 2018
February Vehicle Sales: Light vehicle sales were at a 17.1 million SAAR in February, down 1.4% year-over-year from February 2017 and down slightly from last month. General Motors, Ford Motor Co., Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Nissan all reported sales declines, but Toyota, Subaru, Mazda and Volkswagen managed to post sales increases, taking some of the sting out of the overall data.
"Market softness spread beyond cars in February to other segments of the market," said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at AutoTrader.com. "Trucks did not have a spectacular month, despite some hefty incentives, and utility performance varied by brand. Still, January and February are low sales months. March and April will truly indicate whether vehicle sales are ready to come out of hibernation."
General Motors posted U.S. sales of 220,905 vehicles last month, a decrease of 7% compared with February 2017. Retail deliveries plummeted 11% in the month to 168,971 units and fleet deliveries rose to 24% for the month, up three percentage points year-over-year. GM reported 779,378 units in inventory at the end of February, up by 29,849 from January. That represents an 85-day supply.
Cadillac brand retail sales jumped by 14% in February to 12,338 units, driven by sales of the XT5, ATS and Escalade SUV. 2,607 Escalades found homes in February, while only 845 CT6 flagship sedans were sold.
Total Chevrolet deliveries in January fell by 9% year over year to 149,605 units. Sales were dragged down by the Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck, GM's top-selling vehicle. Silverado sales were off more than 16% from a year ago. The Chevy Equinox SUV - Chevy's second-best selling vehicle - posted a sales increase of 79%, while the Impala sedan saw a sales drop of 53.4%. 1,351 Corvettes found buyers - a drop of 35% from last year. Camaro sales fell 21% to 3,680 ponycars, while sales of the all-electric Bolt increased 50% to 1,424 vehicles.
GM's Buick brand saw a year-over-year sales increase of 1% in February, including a decrease of 4% in retail sales. The Buick LaCrosse posted a sales gain of 46%, and Regal sales rose 127%. GMC sales declined 8%.
At Ford Motor Co., February U.S. sales fell 7% year-over-year to 194,132 Ford and Lincoln vehicles. Passenger car and SUV sales fell 12%. The Escape saw a drop of 24% and Expedition a drop of 26% in February. Taurus sales tanked by 37%, while Mustang sales fell 30% to 5,800 pony cars. Truck sales increased 1%; sales of F-Series pickups rose 4% to 68,243 units. F-Series transaction prices went up $1,500 year-over-year. F-Series pickups accounted for nearly 35% of total monthly sales. Total retail sales fell 9% year over year in February to 123,073 units; fleet sales dropped 4% to 71,059 units.
Sales of the Lincoln brand slipped by 23% in February as sales of Lincoln cars plummeted 32%. Car sales totaled only 2,138 units for the month, while utility vehicle sales totaled 4,562 units - a drop of 18%. Sales of the flagship Continental fell 30% to 758 sedans. Navigator sales rose 13% to 1,063 SUVs.
FoMoCo's fleet sales represented 37% of total purchases last month. Ford's factory inventory is now at 89 days.
Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles reported that February U.S. sales ticked down 1% year-over-year to 165,903 vehicles. The Jeep brand posted a sales increase of 12%, as sales of the all-new Compass soared 486% to more than 15,000 units. The Jeep Patriot showed a year-over-year sales decline of 98%, and the Renegade posted a sales gain of 49%. Grand Cherokee sales fell 8% and Cherokee sales fell 10%. Ram pickup sales dropped 14% to 33,299 units. FCA's faltering brand, Fiat, suffered a U.S. sales drop of 42% in February; only 1,241 Fiats found homes last month. Dodge sales dropped 8% to 40,187 units, while Chrysler brand sales declined 3% to 16,150 vehicles.
Toyota reported February sales of 182,195 vehicles, an increase of 5% from February 2017. Avalon sales rose 15% to 3,027 sedans, while Lexus posted sales of 19,265 vehicles, up 5%. 548 examples of the Lexus LS flagship sedan and 128 LC coupes found buyers last month. The RX SUV remains the best selling Lexus model; 7,238 found homes in February.
Honda sales dropped 6% to 104,588 vehicles; Acura sales rose slightly to 10,969 vehicles. Nissan sales declined 4% to 117,110 vehicles. Infiniti sales fell 7% to 12,829 units. Subaru sales rose 4% to 47,249 units, while Volkswagen's sales increased 6% to 26,660 vehicles. Mazda sales were up 13% to 25,731 vehicles. Mitsubishi sales jumped 19% to 12,973 units, while Volvo sales rose 12% to 6,213 units.
Hyundai sales declined 13%, while Kia dropped 5%. Genesis sales were a mere 1,363 vehicles, a decline of 14%.
Among luxury nameplates, BMW sales rose 4% to 23,508 Bimmers. Mercedes-Benz sales increased 2% to 27,894 units and Audi sales climbed 12% to 15,451 vehicles. Tesla claimed sales of 6,000, an increase of 36%. Jaguar sales fell 37% to 9,013 kitties while McLaren sold 109 of its mid-engine, two-seaters - a leap of 132%. Bentley sold 165 vehicles - a 7% increase, while Maserati sales were down 14% to 931 vehicles.
Talk To The Handle: That would be the door handle, I guess. A patent filed by Ford described a power assist device "coupled between the door and vehicle body on a hinge assembly" that's connected to an audio sensor located on the exterior and/or interior of the vehicle, perhaps the door handle. "Voice command data gathered by the sensors flow to a controller, which first interprets the command, then opens (or closes) the appropriate door."
Yeah, well I hope it works better than the factory-installed, voice activated phone in my wife's 1996 Lincoln Continental. It couldn't even recognize simple one-word commands, such as 'home' for phoning our home line. "I'm sorry, I didn't get that," was the typical reply. There was a lot that Continental didn't get.
Now In Storage: On Saturday afternoon, we moved my O-gauge train layout from the living room to its storage spot in the garage. Conditions were ideal - sunny and nearly 50 degrees - and, with help from my wife, our children and their spouses, the move went smoothly. After all these years, we've developed a system. I had spent the earlier part of the week putting away the trains, vehicles, buildings, mountain and tunnel portals.
What Racism? The United States Postal Service said it is investigating a "racial sign" put up outside its Flemington, NJ. location. The sign read: 'March is national stop blaming white people month! Accept responsibility for your own bad choices. Hug a white person!'.
Flemington Councilwoman Betsy Driver called the sign 'racist', noting, "Racism is not a laughing matter."
Get over yourself, Betsy. Since when is truth racism? Is the sign great parody? No, it's kinda lame to me. But racist? I think not.
Stealing Steel: Canada is angry about President Trump's planned tariffs on aluminum and steel. An interesting article on trade and tariffs claims that "Canada imports all of its steel from China, and then sends finished product to the U.S. China currently manufactures over 10 times more (fabricated steel items) than the U.S., with America's production declining year over year.
If the trend continued and China ever entered into a military engagement with the U.S., it could simply stop all steel shipment to the United States and win any war."
I recommend that you read the entire article. It seems well-researched, provides lots of interesting historical data and is a real eye-opener. However, despite the claim in the article, Canada does have some steel manufacturing capacity as well as iron ore mining operations. But 49% of all steel produced on Earth comes from China. Canadian production represents less than 2% of the world's output. The U.S. - once a leader in steel production - now makes only 5% of the world's steel. In the 1950s, iron and steel were the biggest industries in Pennsylvania. The state was the nation's largest producer of pig iron and the U.S. was a major exporter of both iron and steel.
"The U.S. is the world's top steel importer. The value of steel shipped into the U.S. was just over $29 billion in 2017. Nearly 17% of steel imported into the U.S. comes from Canada ... South Korea, Mexico, Brazil and China are also major exporters to the U.S."
Quote Of The Day is from Henny Youngman: "My hotel room is so small, the mice are hunchbacked."
Thursday March 1, 2018
The Force Is Strong In That One. Autoblog's headline is dead-on: 'New Toyota Aygo looks like a tiny Darth Vader'.
Smaller than the Yaris, the European-market Toyota Aygo has received a restyle. The company added more sound-absorption materials throughout the car to make it quieter and more refined. It also bumped up the power of the tiny 1.0-liter three-cylinder to 71 horsepower from 68. The Aygo is too small and too slow for U.S. drivers: Zero-to-sixty takes almost 14 seconds.
Buying More Iron: Statistically, you're probably not in the market to buy a car this month. According to Google, the average American only buys a car every 6 years or so, and only about 5% of people buy a new car each year. The average vehicle on U.S. roads is about 12 years-old.
This is a big change from the earlier times (from the immediate post-WW II era to the late 1980s), when it was common to know people who traded in their cars every 2-4 years for a new one. Not so anymore, because cars last longer, don't look obsolete in a few years and are costly enough that it doesn't make as much sense as it used to. (I do have a few friends who lease, and they get new cars at the end of the 3-4 year lease.)
Mark Baruth wrote, "Dealers are no longer content simply to throw their inventory up on a third-party listing site, hoping to win your click. They've paid millions of dollars to collect unstructured data, track your online behavior, and enter your name into customer relationship management systems." He noted that "the bizarre behaviors exhibited by some dealers which cause a customer to leave before buying. Pressure tactics, bait and switch, and rate increases in the finance office are just some of the reasons that cause a potential buyer to change his mind about finishing a deal."
To me, the buying process is the worst part of getting a new vehicle. When we purchased my wife's Avalon, we contacted seven Toyota dealers. One was unbelievably rude: "You should be lucky to get this car. We have a tight allocation. We'll sell it with the options we want at the price we want to charge."
Another e-mailed: "Vehicles on the lot will have an adjusted market value of $3,000 over retail. ... All our vehicles are sold with Vehicle Theft Registration which adds $289 to the cost." Still another said, "I'm out of the office and on my cell. I'll call you right back as soon as I get to the office." And never did. Maybe I misunderstood; perhaps he was in jail and was saying, "I'm in my cell."
I had an equally difficult time buying my Lexus - something I documented here, naming names.
Speaking of painful experiences, do you have to be a complete asshole to be a Corvette salesman? I haven't met many, but every one has fit that mold. As I was sitting in a new 2007 coupe at the Carr Chevrolet dealership in East Vancouver showroom, adjusting the seat, wheel, etc. and asking my second question (the second of which the guy was unable to answer), he asked, "So, are you really interested in buying a Corvette?" Exasperated with his unhelpfulness, failure to listen and admission that he didn't know the location of the dealer book (which would have answered my simple questions), I replied, "No, I just like to waste my valuable time driving around trying to find the half-hidden entrance to this dump where you work while looking forward to putting up with the likes of you." And left Carr, never to return.
Book Review: 'Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House' by Donna Brazile
Ms. Brazile has been active in political campaigns since the 1970s. She was Al Gore's campaign manager in the 2000 election. In this 240-page book, she ... (more >>>)
It Was A Nice Place When Tony Bennett Sang About It. Now it's the Shitbole by the Bay. Dave Burge tweeted about San Francisco recently: "If you smoke they'll give you a $100 ticket; if you smoke while taking a dump, shooting heroin, and gibbering about Martians they'll offer you free meals and lodging."
Advice Of The Day is from P. J. O'Rourke: "Never fight an inanimate object."
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