A Blog About Cars ... And More
Friday September 28, 2018
Autosketch: 1941 Graham Hollywood - The Body That Killed Three Car Companies
Every car buff remembers the classic, coffin-nosed 1936-37 Cord 810/812. Most picture in their minds the stunning convertible version. But there was also a sedan version - the Westchester. It was made in much smaller quantities and is not often seen - even in museums.
The 810/812 series was the last gasp of the dying Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg empire - another casualty of the Great Depression. The cars which might have saved ACD were never properly developed and the firm didn't have the resources to work out production bugs and meet demand.
Automaker Hupmobile rummaged through ACD's ashes and ... (more >>>)
Blue Skies, Smiling At Me: Nothin' but blue skies ... did I see when I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe on Wednesday. The weather was beautiful with lots of sunshine and a comfortable 62-degree temperature at 11:00 am.
My drive was mostly uneventful. I did get passed by a black Nissan 370Z convertible with top down. I spotted a bright red ’71 Pontiac Catalina four-door hardtop going the other way.
As I was driving along, it occurred to me that it was almost exactly seven years ago when I fully retired. It was sunny that day, too - in reality and in spirit. I haven't missed working - I worked long enough.
On Thursday at 10:30 am, I took another drive. Sunshine, bright blue skies, nearly-empty roads and a windows-down 65 degree temperature made for a great drive
As for the Plymouth, it ran perfectly both days; I hope to get some more drives in soon.
Disruptive Technology Brings Some Good News: The City of Miami's police reported a 31% decrease in DUI arrests over the past four years, while the Miami-Dade police department said arrests were down a whopping 65% in the same period. The county police added that more than 1,500 people each year were arrested for DUIs from 2013 through 2015, compared to only 594 last year.
While there's not yet definitive proof, it has been speculated that ride-sharing technologies are responsible for much of the decline.
Another study "compared the average number of DUIs two years before Uber launched in 10 U.S. cities and found that drunk driving arrests dropped across the country. In fact, the study uncovered that DUIs decreased by 37% from 2013 to 2016 in party-hardy Las Vegas - from an average of 4,859 arrests per year before Uber launched in September 2015, to 3,056 afterwards."
If You’ve Got An Extra $80 Million … lying around and you want to fly in style, consider buying a private jet decked out like The Manhattan.
Practical Educational Immersion Needed: 58% of Millennials would prefer to live in a Socialist or Communist nation. A six-month work/study program in Venezuela will fix that.
Don't forget to pack a supply of toilet paper.
Definition Of The Week - 'Woke Capitalism': Cobb wrote, "We are living in an era of woke capitalism in which companies pretend to care about social justice to sell products to people who pretend to hate capitalism."
Ten Years Later: The 2008 financial crisis was the worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s … but individuals who stayed focused on the fundamentals of investing have found themselves doing fine.
Stuart Ritter, a Certified Financial Planner with T. Rowe Price, concluded that investors who stayed focused on the principles of sound investing - namely, an appropriate asset allocation based on time horizon and risk tolerance, along with a well-diversified portfolio - have found themselves back on track with their savings despite the worst market downturn in generations. "The real lesson to take away from the 2008 financial crisis is not that the fundamentals of investing need to change," said Ritter. "It's that those fundamentals really do work."
In October 2008, when things really looked bleak, I wrote, "Don't panic sell. The U.S. stock market will rebound. It always does. Buy-and-hold investors will be happy well before the next Presidential election. ... Don't fret too much. America will recover and prosper. We always do. But it will happen a lot faster if Obama isn't at the helm."
Quote Of The Day is from 'Family Guy's' Lois Griffin: "You know, kids, there's a lot of history here. These fifties diners were very popular in the '80s."
Wednesday September 26, 2018
Mayfair Street Scene: A photo, taken March 11, 1942, shows Frankford Avenue at Cottman Avenue in the Mayfair section of Northeast Philadelphia.
The sign at left is for a sign for Horn and Hardart Retail Shop. The car at left is a 1939 Plymouth sedan with a unique ... (more >>>)
Small Redefined: The term 'small-block' came into being when Chevrolet debuted its first modern V-8 engine in 1955. The term came from the fact that the displacement of the compact new engine was 265 cubic inches, not much larger than the six-cylinder engines of the period.
The 1954 Chevrolet inline six displaced 235 cubic inches.
Today's engines are smaller displacement - most V-6s are in the 3 to 3.5 liter range - 180 to 210 cubic inches. Two-liter four cylinder engines are not uncommon on today's cars.
The 2018 Corvette is powered by a 6.2-liter "small block" V8. That's 378 cubic-inches of displacement and not 'small' in my book. (permalink)
Coming Soon - A Line Of Bland, Ugly Dishwashers: Once Ford's top designer, J Mays, is heading back to Michigan as vice president and chief design officer of Whirlpool Corp. of Benton Harbor.
Mays left Ford in 2013 after a long career in the automobile industry that included stints at BMW, Volkswagen and Audi before he joined Ford in 1997 as the company's top designer.
At Whirlpool, Mays, 63, will be charged with "translating consumer insights, needs and wants … into next-generation product design concepts," the company said.
A Change Of Season: Fall has arrived and there is definitely a chill in the air. The days are still warm but temperatures are dipping well into the 40s at night. I have to turn on lights in the morning when I get up. Darkness falls a little earlier each day.
Nevertheless, the skies on Tuesday were still bright blue with nary a cloud to be seen. By 1:00 pm, the thermometer had just touched 60 degrees, so I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and went for a drive on my favorite rural route.
Everything is mostly green although I noticed a touch of Fall color here and there. I suspect within a month, the change in color will become much more dramatic.
I had an enjoyable afternoon drive.
Weekend Update: I get annoyed over the chronic overuse and misuse of the word 'classic'. So last Saturday, I updated my 'It's A Classic' editorial.
Book Review: 'Classic Racing Engines: Design, Development and Performance of the World's Top Motorsport Power Units' by Karl Ludvigsen
Karl Ludvigsen is an MIT engineer and industrial designer. As a General Motors employee in 1956, Ludvigsen planned experimental front-drive prototypes. He worked in the auto industry for most of his life. Over the years, he has written for many popular car magazines and has authored over four dozen books. I've read his articles in the past and have always been impressed with his depth of subject knowledge.
In this 215-page book (plus a comparison spec table, glossary and index), Ludvigsen reviews 50 different racing engines, covering the period from ... (more >>>)
Educational Toy: Remember Slinky - the coil-shaped metal toy that could walk down stairs? I had a Slinky, my kids had a Slinky ... I think everybody had a Slinky at one time or other. It was a truly educational toy. When you overstretched it, you learned the first Law of Mechanical Engineering: once you get beyond the Yield Point of steel, you can never go back ... you're screwed. Your toy is ruined, whether it's a Slinky, the space frame of a Birdcage Maserati or a critical truss on an Interstate overpass. You have to get a replacement. If a bridge collapses, it's probable that the chief designer never played with a Slinky.
In 1945, Betty James and her husband at the time, Richard, founded the company that would later make Slinky - the toy for which she was inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame in 2001, after hundreds of millions of Slinkys had been sold worldwide. She took over management of James Industries in 1959, after her husband left her to follow a religious cult in Bolivia. You might say he slinked away from their marriage. (permalink)
Quote Of The Day is from John P. Getty: "If you owe the bank $100 that's your problem. If you owe the bank $100 million, that's the bank's problem."
Monday September 24, 2018
Heart Flutter: Once upon a time, September would make the automotive part of my heart go pitter patter. (Now I take pills to prevent any unusual heart activity.)
There would be renderings and grainy photos of soon-to-be-released vehicles in car buff mags, followed by covert activities at local auto dealerships.
Every year, before the new models came out, dealers moved new cars into their showrooms in the dark of night and whitewashed all the big plate glass windows so people couldn't see in. The public got curious and excited. Prospective buyers and old customers were invited to preview parties hosted by the dealership.
There would be champagne, balloons, clowns and/or piano players to entertain. The service bays were scrubbed spotless and full of shiny new automobiles. People got caught up in the excitement and bought cars.
When you took delivery of your gleaming new vehicle, you were introduced to the service manager, who presented you with his card and gave you a personal tour of the parts and service departments.
In those days, cars really looked new and different each year. Your neighbors would be properly envious of your freshly-manufactured automobile, which looked nothing like last year's model.
Cars in showrooms looked as gaudy as Liberace's Christmas decorations with glittering chrome and bright whitewall tires. (All the cheap stripper models with no chrome and dull blackwalls - the muffin stumps of the model lineup - were parked out back near the Dumpster.) Today, showrooms are full of cars with no chrome and blackwall tires. These vehicles aren't cheap but they sure look it. And most of them look the same as last year's model.
Surprise, secrecy and excitement used to sell a lot of cars.
These days, the surprise is gone. There seems to be a three-year "unveiling" of new models beginning with something called a 'concept' dragged around to various auto shows. By the time the production model finally appears, buyer boredom has set in after eons of hype and overexposure. No secrecy; no excitement.
Cars are now appliances. No one is interested in a coming out party for the new Whirlpool.
Horsey: Ferrari's upcoming SUV will be called Purosangue. Translation: Thoroughbred.
Makes Sense: The Space Force is the logical extension of Chief Clancy Wiggum's Sky Police.
Energy Fact Of The Day: North Dakota is producing as much oil as the entire country of Venezuela.
"While Venezuela continues to falter under its socialist regime, North Dakota continues its historic rise in crude oil production. The sparsely populated midwestern state churned out 1.27 million barrels a day in July, according to data reported by Bloomberg. This is approximately the same level of production seen in Venezuela during the same month."
North Dakota is now second only to Texas in oil production and enjoys the lowest unemployment rate in the country.
Quote Of The Day is from Canadian-born psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and author Norman Dodge: "Scratch the most clever postmodern-relativist professor's Mercedes with a key, and you will see how fast the mask of relativism (with its pretense that there can be neither right nor wrong) and the cloak of radical tolerance come off."
Thursday September 20, 2018
Eighty-Year Old: At 11:00 am Wednesday, it was mostly-sunny and 55 degrees, so I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and went for a drive. Even though we're on the cusp of Fall, the sky was a bright summer blue with lots of white clouds, mostly at the horizon.
As I was driving along, I realized that the 2019 models were already in some auto showrooms, so my Plymouth is now eighty years old - at least the body is.
Soon, I turned onto an almost deserted back road and, with no other cars in sight and houses set way back on wooded lots, it could have been 1939. Except that it was trash day and the sides of the road were lined with modern plastic trash cans in assorted earthtone colors and big, blue, wheeled recycling bins with black flip-over lids. I did see one lone galvanized metal trash can. I didn't even know you could still buy those things. But it was probably not a '39 model.
I remember the old galvanized trash cans which Philadelphia trash collectors gleefully pounded until they became useless, ugly lumps of ruined metal. It usually took five years destroy them.
We own a beige Rubbermaid Bruiser trash can that is almost 30 years old but still looks and performs like new. Its wheels roll freely and the can is free of dents and cracks.
Anyway, Happy Birthday to my 1939 Plymouth P8 DeLuxe business coupe. At eighty years-old, it runs better than I do.
Pry My Ignition Key From Cold Dead Hands, You Bastards! California plans to ban sales of internal combustion cars by 2035, outlaw them completely by 2050 (assuming anyone will still be living there).
"Keeping global warming to levels society can tolerate could hinge on meeting that target. But even clean-technology capital California has no clear path for getting there.
The question of whether drivers should be gently persuaded or forced out of their internal combustion engine cars and trucks over the next 17 years will weigh heavily on the landmark summit."
Mickey The Bus: Jesse Bowers has posted several photos of a wild Mickey Mouse-themed Tokyo Disney Resort shuttle bus.
See if you can count the number of Mickey-shaped items on the bus. Start with the taillights.
What We Need Today ... is the device advertised in the October 1957 issue of Road & Track:
WMSK Radio - All Musk All The Time: Tesla CEO and compulsive publicity-seeker Elon Musk is being sued by the heroic British diver that Musk accused of being a pedophile.
In July, Elon got into a Twitter war with Vernon Unsworth when Musk offered to send a mini-sub to help rescue members of a youth soccer team trapped in a flooded Thai cave. Unsworth derided it as a publicity stunt and suggested Musk shove the sub where the sun doesn't shine. Musk responded by declaring Unsworth "pedo guy," slang for a pedophile. "Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it," Musk tweeted to his 22.5 million followers.
Instead of profusely apologizing, mouthy Musk doubled down and continued to bring up Unsworth's name. Now, he'll pay for his arrogant remarks.
Book Review: 'Everybody Is Awful (Except You)' by Jim Florentine
I saw the author on The Greg Gutfeld Show two months ago. He seemed funny, so I ordered his book. It turned out to be ... (more >>>)
How To Make Money In Cryptocurrency: Buy a cemetery/mausoleum.
Music Trivia: Mark Steyn recently wrote about prolific songwriter Jack Lawrence. His lawyer had a daughter, Linda, who "was jealous of her mother because Maurice Chevalier had a famous song about mom's name, 'Louise', but there was no song called 'Linda'." So Lawrence wrote one:
"As for the real Linda, Miss Eastman grew up and married Paul McCartney, and, whatever one feels about Linda McCartney's contribution to Wings, the song she inspired as a toddler is certainly a very creditable musical legacy. Sinatra made a very pleasant record of it in the Seventies, but then he sang quite a lot of Jack Lawrence over the years."
Quote Of The Day is from Bill Vaughan: "Money won't buy happiness but it will pay the salaries of a large research staff to study the problem."
Tuesday September 18, 2018
Rare Jag: Last month, I obtained a 1:43 scale model of a 1957 Jaguar XK-SS roadster with a scale figure of Steve McQueen, dressed up in a suit as he did for his role in 'The Thomas Crown Affair', a 1968 movie starring McQueen and Faye Dunaway.
The 1957 Jaguar XK-SS Roadster was a ... (more >>>)
Searchin': I'd been searching for good old-car weather all last week. It had been cloudy with off-and-on rain every day. Last Friday, at 11:00 am, it was a comfy 55 degrees outside with partly cloudy skies. Streets were mostly dried out after Thursday night's downpour, so I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and went for a drive.
As I was driving along, the song Searchin' by The Coasters came blasting through the speakers. This 1957 musical ditty was written by those gods of fifties music, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, and was released as a 45 single by Atco Records in March. I still have the white-and-yellow labeled original 45 around here somewhere. Searchin' rose to #3 on the national pop singles chart. The B side, Young Blood - another Leiber and Stoller creation (with help from Doc Pomus), did well too. It reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100.
It should be noted that Searchin’ was recorded by the original members of The Coasters. Over the years, there have been more Coasters than members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Ditto The Dominoes. And The Platters. I recall that there were several groups of The Coasters touring simultaneously during the heydays of the traveling Oldies Shows in the late 1980s.
Back to my drive: There were heavy clouds to the east, but there was lots of blue sky in other directions with puffy clouds here and there. Traffic was mostly light and I had a very enjoyable excursion in my old car.
On Monday, I drove my old Plymouth to town and fueled up. At 11:00 am, the skies were partly sunny - there was plenty of blue to be seen overhead - and it was bright enough to be sunglasses weather. The temperature was a brisk 51 degrees but the warmth of the sun helped.
Afterwards, I took a drive along the back roads of North Clark County. Traffic was fairly light and I had a good drive.
Does It Involve A Modified DeLorean And Plutonium? Last week, Senator Dianne Feinstein sent a mysterious tip about Brett Kavanaugh to federal investigators, and reports indicated it was about an "incident involving him and a woman while they were in high school." Kavanaugh went to an all-male high school, so it probably didn't happen - if anything occurred at all - during school hours.
In addition, 65 women signed a letter saying Judge Kavanaugh was a gentleman in high school. I'm impressed. When I was in high school, I don't think I even knew 65 girls.
Over the weekend, the formerly-anonymous accuser came out. She is lefty professor Christine Blasey Ford, a research psychologist at Palo Alto University in California. Ford claims that Kavanaugh groped her and tried to kiss her at a party when they were both high school students some 36 years ago. That would be 1982. Man, there's so much I've forgotten about that year.
Ms. Ford presented no evidence except her own word, and can't seem to answer basic questions about the exact location, date or even month of the alleged incident. Ms. Ford also can't recall in whose home the alleged assault took place, how she got there, or how she got home that evening. Ford is a Bernie Sanders supporter and an anti-Trump protestor. And some of Christine Ford's former students rank her as angry, dark, with possible psychological issues.
There's more evidence of Joe Biden groping women than here is of Judge Kavanaugh. Stop wasting time and confirm the guy, already.
From Now On … I'm only going to listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Edward Pentin, Rome correspondent for EWTN, wrote that the Vatican has confirmed the Pope authorized an "investigation into economic-administrative aspects of the Sistine Chapel Choir. The Choir administrator was suspended in July for alleged financial misconduct." Whatever that means.
Maybe I'd be better off listening to Dr. Demento broadcasts. Or The Coasters.
But He's Still More Popular Than Harvey Weinstein: Only 48% of Americans have a favorable view of Pope Francis, down from two thirds a year and a half ago, according to a recent CNN poll. The Pope's popularity is particularly low among Republicans, with just 36% expressing a positive view. The poll was taken following the recent revelations about sexual abuse and clergy coverup.
"Among U.S. Catholics, the Pope's favorability rating fell from 83% in January 2017 to 63% now."
Don't Forget: Tomorrow is talk like a pirate day. Arrrrr.
Start Packing: Taco Bell has been voted the best Mexican restaurant in the U.S., according to The Harris Poll, a nationwide customer survey of favorite brands. Taco Bell has 7,000 locations and does nearly $2 billion in revenue.
If Taco Bell is the best Mexican place where you live, it is time for you to relocate.
Quote Of The Day is from Niccolo Machiavelli: "It should be borne in mind that there is nothing more difficult to arrange, more doubtful of success, and more dangerous to carry through than initiating changes. The innovator makes enemies of all those who prospered under the old order, and only lukewarm support is forthcoming from those who would prosper under the new. Their support is lukewarm ... partly because men are generally incredulous, never really trusting new things unless they have tested them by experience."
Friday September 14, 2018
An Ill Wind: Typhoon Jebi, the strongest typhoon to hit Japan in a quarter-century, wrecked an estimated $9 million worth of Ferraris at a dealership on Rokko Island, an artificial island in the city of Kobe, "after sending three feet of storm surge into the showroom."
The storm "destroyed 51 of 53 new and used Ferraris housed at the dealership, including some that had already been purchased. Employees reportedly tried to cover the entrance with tarps and sandbags, to no avail. Salt water reportedly seeped into the engine bays, so the vehicles were trucked away to be scrapped." Hope the place has good insurance.
Rolling Art: Any phrase book which lists "they don't make 'em like they used to," should have a photo of the Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic. It is difficult to find such sensuous lines in any of today's vehicles, although the Ferrari 458 Italia comes close.
I've stopped using the word "classic" in describing older cars because it has been so badly misapplied.
Buh-Bye: 2019 will be the last model year for the Volkswagen Beetle. Of course, the last real VW Beetle - one with an air-cooled engine - rolled off a Mexican assembly line in mid-2003.
Mainstream Media Says, "Meow." Over at Ace, OregonMuse wrote, "The MSM is like a roomful of cats and Trump is standing at the door with a laser pointer, shining it this way and that, and all the cats are chasing the red dot around running into each other, knocking each other down, and Trump is with Kellyanne Conway and John Kelly and they're all laughing their asses off." Sounds about right.
Just Do Your Job: I have never heard of a meeting being called to discuss a national election at any company I owned, worked for, or interacted with. Regardless of who was president, we would adjust, do our jobs and continue to make the business work.
Imagine my surprise when a video recorded at a Google meeting shortly after the 2016 presidential election was released on Brietbart. In the video, Google's senior management can be seen disparaging the motivations of Trump voters and plotting ways to use their vast resources to thwart the Trump agenda.
Co-founder Sergey Brin compared Trump supporters to fascists and extremists. Brin argued that like other extremists, Trump voters were motivated by "boredom," which he says in the past led to fascism and communism. Brin also praised an audience member's suggestion of increasing matched Google employee donations to progressive groups.
Brin told employees that he was "deeply offended by the election of Trump," and that his election "conflicts with many of Google's values." Senior VP for Global Affairs Kent Walker described the Trump phenomenon as a sign of "tribalism that's self-destructive in the long-term."
I stopped using Google for searches several months ago.
May I Suggest Starched White Shirts And Ties For Boys? And below-the-knees-jumper uniforms for girls? The Alameda Unified School District of California says that students may now wear whatever they want as long as it "covers genitals, buttocks, and areolae/nipples with opaque material" and doesn't feature "images or language depicting violence, drugs, alcohol, hate speech, profanity and pornography."
"The problem with doing away with the dress code entirely is that it implies that the school does not intend to impart a set of values about how one presents oneself in the world." I'm for bring back 1950s Catholic school-style uniforms. And the use of yardsticks on miscreants just like the nuns used to do. MKOA - make kids obedient again.
Quote Of The Day is from Dave Burge, "If you're the smartest guy in the room, find a different room."
Wednesday September 12, 2018
Milk Run: During World War II, many jobs formerly performed by men were taken over by women. In these photos, Mrs. Helen Joyce, "one of the many women who now work for the Supplee-Wills-Jones Milk Co.," is making morning deliveries of milk and milk products to individual homes in Bryn Mawr, PA, a tony Philadelphia suburb.
At the time ... (more >>>)
Best-Looking American Production Cars: Beauty is, of course, in the eye of the beholder. That qualification aside, I hereby announce my choices for the ten best-looking American production (no concepts, no one-offs, no customs) cars (no trucks or SUVs) ever manufactured ... (more >>>)
TTAC Death Watch: Jack Baruth has joined the exodus of talented writers from The Truth About Cars - a once great car site which has devolved to a fawning Press Release firehose.
Entropy affects just about everything, including spinning tops, movie remakes, television series, blogs, Facebook, once-hot actresses, personal health and machinery. Some things go downhill faster than others. The decline in overall content quality at The Truth About Cars over the past few years has been steep and quite noticeable. Jack's departure gives me one more reason not to visit TTAC.
But you can always find Jack at Road & Track or his own site, Riverside Green.
Jack was always a talented writer but as time passed, he became even better. If you don't already read Mr. Baruth's work, you should.
Book Review: 'Volkswagen Beetle: A Celebration of the World's Most Popular Car' by Richard Copping
The Volkswagen story is so unlikely that it sounds like the script for a Mel Brooks movie: Adolph Hitler orders a car for the German masses. The Nazi high command has it designed and prototyped. Hitler calls it the People's Car. Only a few examples are made before World War II begins. Germany loses the war. The tooling for the car is offered to Henry Ford II who laughs and turns it down, believing the car has no commercial future. Other auto manufacturers are similarly disdainful. Germans begin to assemble the car in the ruins of its bombed-out factory.
From that same factory, the People's Car, Volkswagen, is slowly resurrected. For several years, there was a three-month waiting list to buy the little German Beetle. The strange design remained basically unchanged for over five decades. Many of the quirks were still there 50 years later. Shortcomings in the Beetle took forever to correct. Detroit changed over to ... (more >>>)
More Catholic Turmoil: Thomas Peterson at American Papist tweeted: "Legatus is the largest lay association of business owners in the United States. If Pope Francis refuses to speak, U.S. Catholic laity will speak with their wallets." Legatus has announced: "The Board has begun [looking into financial accountability in the Vatican], and in the meantime has decided to place the Holy See annual tithe in escrow, pending further determination (by the Board)."
Meanwhile, New Jersey and New York have begun their own investigations into sexual abuse within the various dioceses of the respective states. New York has subpoenaed each diocese. In New Jersey, the Diocese of Metuchen has temporarily removed a priest from parish ministry while it reexamines the handling of misconduct allegations made against him.
The priest, Fr. Alfonso R. Condorson, was ordained in 1995 and "has a long-standing relationship with Metuchen's Bishop Emeritus Paul Bootkoski, who sold in 2015 a New Jersey property to the priest for $1." Bootkoski, who authorized settlements to alleged victims of disgraced sexual abuser Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, became Bishop of Metuchen in 2002. Metuchen, eh? Back in 1965, I interviewed for a production engineer job at Ford's Metuchen assembly plant. I got a plant tour and saw lots of Mustangs being assembled. The plant occupied over 100 acres when it was open. This NJ Ford factory began operations in 1948 and was closed in 2004. But I digress ...
Traditionalist Catholic blog, Rorate Caeli, tweeted: "We are unfortunately starting to think that those who see in current moment similarities with pre-Luther period have a point. As then, a bubble of sycophancy in Rome is preventing the Curia from seeing seriousness of the problems." Back in Luther's day, the Catholic Church was rotting like a dead carp - from the head down.
Quote Of The Day is from Benjamin Franklin: "Well done is better than well said."
Monday September 10, 2018
I'm Not A Boat Guy ... but this certainly caught my eye ... (more >>>)
Nice Weather We're Having: On Friday at 10:30 am, the temperature was a cool 59 degrees and the skies were bright blue with wisps of snow-white clouds here and there. Given that there's rain forecast in the foreseeable future, I decided to fire up my '39 Plymouth coupe and go for a drive.
Traffic was light, the roads were school-bus free, the weather was warm enough for windows-down driving and the car ran great. I had a most enjoyable back-roads excursion.
Small Change: The 2019 Acura ILX got a facelift for 2019.
"According to Acura, the entire nose from the A-pillar forward and the whole rear fascia have been changed. Up front the car has the pentagonal grille and angry LED lights that are Acura signatures, and they're complemented by crisply creased sheetmetal across the rest of the car. The results are a far sportier, far less anonymous machine. The car will continue to be available in normal and A-Spec versions, with the latter consisting mainly of appearance items such as 18-inch wheels, dark trim and lights, and a rear spoiler."
Acura claims that "the ILX has gained more than four points of retail market share in the first half of the year and capturing the highest percentage of millennials of any model in segment, something it has done in every year since 2013." Maybe, but sales are still pretty dismal. Only 912 ILXs found buyers in August - down 34% from 2017. It's an entry-level luxury compact car in a crossover world.
Car Loans: The total U.S. open car loan balance for the first quarter of 2018 was $1.15 trillion. Banks hold 32% of the outstanding balance while dealer captive finance holds 23%, credit unions hold 29% and finance companies hold 16%. More than 86% of all new car buyers and nearly 55% of used car buyers finance vehicle purchases.
Sad Anniversary Tomorrow: "The people ride in a hole in the ground. New York, New York - it's a hell of a town!"
Every time I hear those words from the musical 'On The Town', penned by the legendary songwriting duo Betty Comden and Adolph Green for the 1944 Broadway musical about three sailors on a 24-hour leave in New York City (later transformed into a 1949 MGM movie, starring Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Ann Miller and Betty Garrett), the 'hole in the ground' part acts as an aching reminder of that tragic 2001 day in Lower Manhattan when terrorists murdered 3,000 innocent souls and created a ginormous hole.
September 11, 2001 - it was unthinkable and ghastly.
My clock radio went off at 6:00 am (Pacific Time) but there was no top-o-the-hour news report - just continuous jumbled updates about a "small airplane" hitting the North Tower of World Trade Center a few minutes earlier.
I quickly got up, turned on the television and ... (more >>>)
Then & Now: Steven Hayward recently wrote, "Anyone remember that John F. Kennedy, in proposing income tax rate cuts, remarked that "a rising tide lifts all boats"? Back in those halcyon days of liberal confidence, one of the complaints liberals had about stodgy old President Eisenhower was that the economy was not growing anywhere near its potential. "Let's get America moving again" was another of Kennedy's slogans, and there was a whole doctrine associated with it that went under the banner "growth liberalism."
But then somewhere in the 1970s, coincident with the rise of environmentalism, liberalism embraced the "limits to growth" and turned away from embracing economic growth. "Let's get the country moving again" is now fully owned by Trump."
Fast forward to the current times. Economic growth for the last quarter has been revised upward to 4.2%, and the Atlanta Federal Reserve is projecting current quarter growth will come in around 4.5% or higher. How does today's Democratic leadership respond? Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer held a press briefing "at which he stated that Americans "for too long" have been relying "on GDP alone as a bellwether" of how Americans are doing economically."
In other words, change the subject.
A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats: President Trump's unemployment rate is so low, even Colin Kaepernick found a job.
Farewell, Bandit: Burt Reynolds has died at age 82 of a heart attack after suffering from cardiac problems for several years. Reynolds was once a top Hollywood star, whose hits ranged from such classic comedies as 'Smokey and the Bandit' to the intense drama, 'Deliverance'. 'Smokey and the Bandit' grossed $126 million (that's $508 million today, and only 'Star Wars' took in more that year). He was Hollywood's top-grossing star every year from 1978 through 1982, equaling the longest stretch the business had seen since the days of Bing Crosby in the '40s. In 1978, Burt had four movies playing in theaters at the same time.
Reynolds was often underrated by critics. He had a great sense of humor as demonstrated in countless interviews. I remember him from the television cop drama 'Dan August' which ran during the 1970-71 seasons. My favorite Burt Reynolds movies were 'The Longest Yard' (1974), 'Semi-Tough' (1977), and the under-appreciated, very funny 'Starting Over' (1979).
Reynolds lead an adventuresome life, including off-screen romances with such stars as Sally Field and Dinah Shore. He was married to Loni Anderson, who now peddles Advantage Alert's 'I've Fallen And Can't Get Up' panic-button pendants on television. RIP, Burt.
Quote Of The Day is from Tom McMahon: "In Heaven, the McRib is available All. The. Time!"
Thursday September 6, 2018
August Auto Sales: Light vehicle sales fell in August as increased sales of SUVs and trucks couldn't make up for plunging demand for passenger cars and an estimated double-digit sales drop at General Motors. The seasonally adjusted, annualized rate of sales for August came in at 16.69 million, the lowest in a year, signaling an expected second-half slowdown in the market is underway. The SAAR increased less than 1% over August 2017 (a weak comparable considering the impact from Hurricane Harvey last August) and was down fractionally from July 2018. Light trucks - led by pickups, crossovers and SUVs - continue to drive the U.S. market.
While General Motors no longer releases monthly sales figures, Bloomberg estimated that the company's vehicle sales dropped 13% year-over-year in August.
At Ford Motor Co., sales increased by 4% year-over-year to 218,504 Ford and Lincoln vehicles. Passenger car sales fell 21% in the month while sport utility vehicle sales rose 20%. Total retail sales rose 1%, while fleet sales jumped by 15% to 52,710 units. Truck sales rose 6% for the month, and sales of F-Series pickups increased to 81,839 units, the best total for the month since August 2005. Mustang sales leaped 35% to 7,487 units. Lincoln sales rose by 3% overall to 8,945 vehicles in August. Lincoln car sales totaled 2,406, while SUV sales totaled 6,539. 1,522 Navigators found buyers in August, up from 755 in August '17.
Fiat-Chrysler reported an August sales increase of 10% to 193,718 vehicles. The Jeep brand sales jumped 20% year-over-year as sales of the new Cherokee rose 85% to nearly 22,000 units and Compass sales grew an amazing 76% to 16,339 units. Ram had its best August sales ever, up a whopping 27% to 49,912 trucks. Sales of the company's Chrysler brand fell 3%, while Dodge sales were down 18%. Dodge Caravan sales were down 24% to 13,039 vans. The Fiat brand sold just 1,374 units in August - a 35% decline. Alfa Romeo sold 2,240 vehicles, mostly Stelvio SUVs.
Honda sales increased 1% to 132,834 vehicles, while 12,072 Acura found buyers in August, a gain of 15%. Toyota sales declined 1% to 194,433 vehicles. Nissan sales increased 4% to 101,580 vehicles. Subaru, a brand which has been up-up-up in months past, experienced a sales drop of 3% to 64,088 Subies. Hyundai sales increased 8% to 56,929 vehicles, while cousin Kia had a more modest 1% sales increase, selling 53,864 vehicles. Volkswagen sales were nearly flat at 32,255 units. Mitsubishi sales rose 3% to 8,416 units.
While BMW sales were up 1% to 23,789 units, Mercedes-Benz sales fell a surprising 38% to 20,339 vehicles. Mercedes claimed the problem was supply: "While customer demand remains high, our inventory levels are impacted by delayed availability of many of our 2019 models." Infiniti sales dropped 2% to 10,796 vehicles. Lexus sales declined 7% to 28,622 units. Audi sales increased 7% to 20,907 vehicles. Tesla claimed to have sold 21,700 examples in August (17,800 Model 3s, 1,400 Model X crossovers and 2,500 Model S dedans), very impressive numbers for a relatively new luxury brand. But Tesla continues to lose money - perhaps $10,000 - on every vehicle it sells. Still ... Tesla is waaaaay outselling that other new brand - Genesis; only 613 examples of Hyundai's luxury brand found buyers in August, a drop of 66% from August 2017.
Porsche sales dropped 23% to 4,083 units. The Macan SUV is now responsible for half of Porsche sales in the U.S. market. Peter DeLorenzo quipped, "Porsche is now a truck company that happens to produce sports cars to remind people what they used to be about." Jaguar declined 20% to 2,468 vehicles, while Land Rover sales increased 22% to 7,179 SUVs. Volvo sales increased 12% to 8,970 units. Mini sales declined 15% to 3,800 units. Smart sales fell 53% to 108 mini-electric cars.
On the other end of the scale, 90 Rolls Royces, 94 Lamborghinis and 165 Bentleys found buyers last month.
It's in rough shape and will be restored but the job "will take a couple of years." In my view, this Ghia-built one-off is worth the wait.
Book Review: 'Trump's America: The Truth about Our Nation's Great Comeback' by Newt Gingrich
This is a short (256 pages, plus appendix and endnotes) book which enumerates the many accomplishments of President Donald Trump during his first 14 or so months in office. If you are reader of conservative blogs or watch Fox News, you are already aware of many of them. But Newt, because of his long political career, puts them in proper context, demonstrating ... (more >>>)
The First Four Words … 'Pope Urges Clean Up …' sounded good until I read the entire headline: 'Pope Urges Clean Up Of Plastic Waste From Oceans'.
Francis called this an "emergency." Pedophilia in the Catholic church, apparently not so much. The Pope said efforts to fight plastics litter must be waged "as if everything depended on us."
He's worried about plastic in the oceans when young boys and adolescents are being scarred for life by the actions of those we are supposed to revere and turn to for guidance Anything to change the subject from the pedophiles who've taken over the Church, I guess. "Pay no attention to those sex abuse scandals over there: I'm dealing with a plastic straw crisis!"
In related news, American Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who's been implicated in the Pennsylvania abuse cover-up, gave a Sunday homily on the current crisis in the Church. At least one parishioner "had the courage to shout "Shame on you!" during this tepid utterly unworthy sermon."
This week, the pope ... (more >>>)
Good News For Carnivores: Researchers at McMaster University in Canada, found that people who scarf down higher levels of red meat and cheese are likely to live longer. Those eating the most dairy and red meat saw their chances of early death fall by 25% and fatal heart attack decreased by 22%.
Jim Treacher wrote "I'm no scientist, but I do know that when I started adjusting my dietary habits a few years ago, I started feeling a lot better. I quit eating stuff everybody was telling me I should eat, and my health started improving. The more I've ignored the USDA food pyramid, the less my body looks like the USDA food pyramid."
Investing In Socialism: If you'd bought a million dollars in Venezuela's local currency when President Nicolás Maduro came to power in 2013, it would now be worth $3.40.
Quote Of The Day is from Mark Twain: "I've come loaded with statistics, for I've noticed that a man can't prove anything without statistics."
Tuesday September 4, 2018
Oh, Deer! I was hankerin' for an old car drive last Friday because, Thursday was heavy clouds all day. When the sun broke through at 11:00 am Friday, I fired up my '39 Plymouth business coupe and went for a drive. The temperature was a comfortable 60 degrees; he afternoon high was only 72 degrees. The weather was on the cusp between partly sunny and partly cloudy, with dark heavy cloud cover to the east and gray clouds to the north. Overhead, it was blue skies with puffy, off-white clouds - the color of off-brand, China-made cotton balls.
Traffic was light and I had an pleasant, uneventful ride until I was coming down a steep, semi-blind curved hill near home. I had to hit the brakes hard as four deer were crossing the road near the bottom. As they cleared the roadway, I lifted my foot off only to quickly brake again as the deer changed their minds and came back the other way. Neither fauna nor machinery were hurt, so all was well.
It was very real, although - at the time - Conway Twitty was warbling 'It's Only Make Believe' through the speakers.
On Labor Day, I went for a Plymouth drive with my daughter. The weather was gorgeous - 65 degrees and sunny with blue skies and puffy clouds at 12:30 pm.
During part of our back roads excursion, the song, 'Bony Maronie' - the 1957 rock-n-roll standard by Larry Williams, was playing through the Plymouth's speakers. ("I got a girl named Bony Maronie. She's as skinny as a sick of macaroni ..."). The song reached #4 on the pop charts that year. It was a follow up to William's earlier hit, 'Short Fat Fannie', which reached #35 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop charts earlier in ’57. ("Short Fat Fannie - she's my heart's desire. Got the kind of love that sets my soul on fire ...") Born in 1935 in New Orleans, Larry Williams was a cousin of singer Lloyd Price. Both 'Short Fat Fannie' and 'Bony Maronie' sold over one million copies each, achieving Gold Record status. Larry Williams died in 1980.
Possible Easter Present For Someone: Looking very muscular, the 2019 BMW Z4 M40i roadster was unveiled at Pebble Beach last month. Powered by an inline 6-cylinder, three-liter engine, it is supposed to be quite quick.
Deliveries will commence in Spring, 2019. Or, you could buy an old BMW Isetta which is more Easter Egg-shaped.
Bank Shot: UBS (formerly Union Bank of Switzerland) recently pulled apart a Tesla Model 3 and compared its quality and estimated costs with two competitors. UBS analyst Colin Langan said he thinks Tesla will never be able to make money at the $35,000 the company originally planned to charge for an entry-level model designed for the masses.
"This car needs to sell in the low $40,000s to break even, and I think they're a long way from the 25% growth margin target, unless they can sell it well over $50,000," Langan said.
Additionally, wonky panel fitting, sketchy tolerances, and uneven spot welds turned up during the tear-down. This bolsters critics' claims that Tesla remains more concerned with hitting production targets than producing a quality car. "The results confirm media reports of quality issues & are disappointing for a $49k car," UBS wrote.
Speaking of Tesla and its Chief Drama Queen, Steph Williams of TTAC wrote last week that "if firefighters placed Tesla CEO Elon Musk next to any one of California's devastating wildfires, he'd have immediately sucked up all the oxygen in the area, smothering the flames in an instant."
Just Spear 'Em: I'm sick of hearing about 'pedestrian safety'.
I think I'll buy an old bullet-nosed Studebaker and mount a big chrome-plated javelin on the front end. (permalink)
Going In Style: Last week, Aretha Franklin was laid to rest. She was given a great send-off. She was laid out in a gold casket (actually, a Batesville Promethean hand-polished, mirror-finish bronze casket with 14K gold handles - the very same one used for James Brown and Michael Jackson) and had three wardrobe changes - one for each day of her viewing. But her funeral was much more dignified than The James Brown Death Extravaganza Tour. Aretha arrived for her viewing in a pristine white 1940 LaSalle hearse with carved wood sides.
Buh-Bye: The Sears anchor store at the Vancouver Mall in Washington is slated to close in November, along with 46 other unprofitable stores.
The giant Sears at Clackamas Town Center and ... (more >>>)
Quote Of The Day is from Robert A. Heinlein: "Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it."
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