A Blog About Cars ... And More
Monday June 29, 2020
Autosketch: 1941 Chrysler Thunderbolt - Ahead Of Its Time
When General Motors introduced its futuristic Y-Job dream car in 1938, it gave Chrysler the perfect excuse to do a little crystal ball gazing of its own and develop a couple of dream machines. Prior to the Y-Job, most futuristic auto concepts were kept under careful wraps in the styling departments of the various automakers.
Chrysler introduced two dream cars in 1941 - the two-seat, retractable hardtop Thunderbolt and the Newport - an open parade phaeton. Both were first shown ... (more >>>)
Awesome Old Car Weather: By 9:20 am on Friday, the temperature was already in the mid-60s. It was quite sunny with bright blue sky with wispy clouds here and there. Since that certainly met my definition of Old Car Weather, I fired up my 1939 Plymouth coupe and went for a drive.
Traffic was relatively light and skies were hazy at the horizon. Mt. St. Helens was wrapped in a ghostly veil but was still visible with its thinning snowline. I didn't see any other old cars during my travels but traffic was fairly light. I had a most enjoyable and invigorating drive.
It stayed sunny all day - but we had some rain over the weekend.
Sky-High Pricing: A 1:43 scale Brooklin white metal model of a 1957 Pontiac Safari two-door station wagon is now priced at $264.95. In 1987, I bought a new Brooklin 1958 Pontiac Bonneville convertible from ModelAuto for $37. I don't know how Brooklin Models stays in business these days.
Goodbye, Cruel World: According to Isaac Newton, the world is going to end in 2060. Damn. There goes my dream of buying a new Bentley Continental in 2063. Yeah, but - don't forget - in 2012, the Mayans got it wrong.
When They Pry The Pump Nozzle From My Cold Dead Hands: Last week, The Vatican urged Catholics to divest from fossil fuels, a call made in church documents warning against the dangers of climate change. The 225-page encyclical, which is sent to all bishops within the church, also encouraged divesting from arms and monitoring sectors like mining to ensure they are not damaging the environment. The document, 'Journeying Towards Care For Our Common Home', argues people "could favor positive changes by excluding from their investments companies that do not satisfy certain parameters."
This raises questions. What fuel does the 'popemobile' use? Has George Soros been advising the Pope? What kind of rates of return does the Vatican Bank offer? Is there a guarantee, such as FDIC offers?
Pope Francis said, "Time is running out. Deliberations must go beyond mere exploration of what can be done and concentrate on what needs to be done from today onward. We do not have the luxury of waiting for others to step forward or of prioritizing short-term economic benefits. The climate crisis requires our decisive action, here and now." The Vatican has said it does not invest in fossil fuels.
Apparently the pope doesn't realize that oil is a natural substance of the earth, a gift from the Lord.
Rats! Chuck E. Cheese has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
The rodent-themed pizza-joint which features sticky surfaces, loud video game machines, screaming kids and lousy pizza went broke and blamed the Wuhan flu. "The restaurant-and-arcade chain said it will use the Chapter 11 process to restructure its debt-heavy balance sheet through talks with financial stakeholders and landlords as it plots a recovery."
"CEC's financial struggles predated the pandemic - it reported net losses of nearly $29 million last year and about $20.4 million in 2018. The company's bankruptcy filings reveal estimated liabilities of $1 billion to $10 billion and roughly 1,500 potential creditors." The chain has been around since 1977 and has over 600 locations.
Another Disappearing Act: Microsoft is closing all 83 of its retail stores and take a $450 million writedown. I've never even seen one.
Virus Update: As of last Friday, total deaths from the Wuhan flu in Clark County (WA) were 29. 19 of the deaths were people aged 80 and older. Nine people with coronavirus are hospitalized. 12,089 individuals have been tested; 758 tested positive - a 6.27% rate. Clark County has just applied to receive Phase 3 permission.
Battle Ground's case rate is 1,099 per million population, compared with Clark County's 1,579/million, Washington state's rate of 4,128/million and the overall U.S. rate of 7,664/million. Our nation's death rate per million population is lower than Belgium, United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Sweden and France.
Despite what Joe Biden said, we do not have 120 million people dead from the coronavirus in the U.S. While cases are increasing in some areas of the U.S., the overall death rate and hospitalization rate are on a distinct downward trend.
The severity of new cases is far lower than in prior months. Hospitalized patients are four times less likely to die than they were in April. There are no crises in hospital capacity anywhere in the country. Nursing homes, meat-packing plants and prisons remain the main sources of new infections.
Things are getting better.
Two Views: Eating less meat and dairy could help tackle climate change by reducing the amount of methane gas emitted by cows and sheep, a British government agency has said.
Jim Treacher posited that "they're looking at this completely backwards. Think about it: The more meat you eat, the quicker you die. The quicker you die, the less waste you produce. The less waste you produce, the happier Mother Nature is."
Jim suggests a slogan: "Give the Earth a break ... eat a damn steak!"
And remember, the best steaks are made from grain-fed and massaged vegetarians.
Coincidence? Or What?! Peter Paul Reubens painted great, fleshy mounds. Peter Paul Mounds tastes great after a Reuben sandwich. (permalink)
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."
Thursday June 25, 2020
A Question Of Value: Rich Ceppos - an old hand at Car and Driver magazine - posits that the Porsche 911 Carrera 4 doesn't really need all-wheel-drive.
"It starts at $106,050, some $7,600 more than the standard rear-drive Carrera. Other than the additional all-wheel-drive componentry and the 156-pound increase in curb weight that accompanies it, the Carrera 4 is identical to its rear-drive stablemate. Same 379-hp, twin-turbo 3.0-liter flat-six engine. Same eight-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic." By the way, Porsche still shamelessly charges for what should be standard at this price level; to wit - a leather interior costs $4,530 extra.
"If the new Carrera 4's all-wheel-drive system doesn't deliver a significant straight-line performance advantage and is virtually undetectable in normal driving, isn't it akin to the proverbial redwood falling in the forest that no one hears? It is, except in one situation: slick pavement…. That impressive display of wet-road traction is still not enough to make us recommend spending the extra coin ($7,600) for the all-wheel-drive model."
Who Says There Are No Heroes Left? Fred Ashmore rented a Mustang GT, crammed it full of fuel tanks, and drove pretty-much-nonstop from New York City to Los Angeles in 25-hours, 55-minutes, shattering the solo Cannonball record. That's an average speed of nearly 108 miles per hour.
Ashmore, 44, of Hancock, Maine, rented a Mustang GT, removed its passenger seats and other interior accessories, strapped in enough extra fuel tanks to bump the car's capacity to around 130 gallons, and made the trip from the Red Ball garage in Manhattan to the Portofino Hotel & Marina in Redondo Beach with only one stop for fuel.
Best quote from Mr. Ashmore: "The Mustang GT will not go any faster than 159 miles per hour. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying."
He should know.
Small Future: Designer Richard H. Arbib had a fairly broad automobile design resume, having worked for GM's Harley Earl and, later, creating the 1952 Packard Pan Am show car which was the inspiration for the production Packard Caribbean.
In the mid-1950s, Arbib dusted off his crystal ball and designed the car of 2000: the Astra-Gnome, which made its debut at the New York International Automobile Show in New York in April 1956. That same year, the vehicle made the cover of Newsweek.
The then-futuristic car was based on … (more >>>)
Book Review: 'Nissan Z: 50 Years Of Exhilarating Performance' by Pete Evanow
Like many Japanese manufacturers, Nissan had a humble start in the U.S. In 1960, U.S. sales amounted to a mere 1,640 Datsun vehicles. The American branch hustled for sales, signing up used car dealers and gas stations. I remember having my VW Beetle serviced at a gas station/repair shop in the Philadelphia suburbs. A small addition had been made to the white-painted cinderblock building and a minuscule showroom added. It held a lone Datsun 1500 roadster inside. It was a nice little car, less-costly, better-looking and more reliable than its MGB competitor. I liked the guy who owned the shop and I hope he made a mint selling Datsuns. Many of his counterparts did; by 1970, Datsun's U.S. sales had reached 155,012. Buyers came from both coasts; the firm had little presence in the midwest.
This book is ... (more >>>)
The Real High-Octane Truth: Even though I'm a car guy, I haven't watched NASCAR since the race cars stopped looking like real cars. In the early years of NASCAR stock car racing, cars looked like the models you saw on the road. Except for the missing hubcaps and the numbers on the doors. The first official Strictly Stock Division race had nine makes participate, including Buick, Cadillac, Chrysler, Ford, Hudson, Kaiser, Lincoln, Mercury and Oldsmobile. In some instances, rental cars were actually used as race cars. Of course, no one told Hertz about it.
This week, NASCAR was in the news again, because Bubba Wallace, the only black driver in the elite Cup Series, found a noose in his garage stall. Photos indicated that this NooseGate may be unfounded. Later, fifteen FBI special agents "conducted numerous interviews regarding the situation at Talladega Superspeedway. After a thorough review of the facts and evidence surrounding this event, we have concluded that no federal crime was committed." The investigation found that the rope in question - a garage door pulldown assist - had been tied in that fashion since October. The garage had only been assigned to Bubba Wallace last week.
Just one more alleged "hate crime" that was totally fictitious (at best) or deliberately fraudulent (at worst - à la Jussie Smollett). And it took 15 FBI agents to investigate a nothingburger - your tax dollars at waste.
Matt Margolis wrote, "While this might not be a Jussie Smollett-like hate crime hoax, it's nevertheless an unfortunate situation. Bubba Wallace may have jumped to the wrong conclusion upon seeing the garage pull, or he saw it and decided to take advantage of the current racial hypersensitive climate to pronounce himself a victim. I want to give Wallace the benefit of the doubt here, but it's difficult to do that when Wallace seemed so determined to play the victim, and said those who questioned the story were 'simple-minded'. So far, Bubba Wallace hasn't released a statement in response to the investigation concluding. Without a doubt, he needs to apologize for jumping to the wrong conclusion."
NASCAR recently banned Confederate flags at its tracks; this has caused some consternation among race fans in the South. (This also seems stupid. The first rule of business is 'Don't Piss Of Your Customers'.) Personally, I don't care one way or another. I would never buy or fly a stars-n-bars flag. But I will defend anyone's right to fly one. This is America, the land of free speech.
Peter De Lorenzo, of Autoextremist fame, took the occasion to write one of his weekly rants wherein he connected these events to paint Donald Trump as the real villain, using a flow diagram resembling something presented by the Underpants Gnomes on 'South Park'. His logic seemed to go like this:
Noose (bad) >> Confederate flag (bad) >> Racism (bad) >> ??? >> Trump's Fault (bad)
The weekly Autoextremist rant is usually about the auto industry but De Lorenzo wrote that "if it bothers you that I would deign to write something "off topic" well, I don't frickin' care what you think." Fine, but his opinions on auto-related stuff are supported by facts which he provides. Not here.
Instead, De Lorenzo went for the hyperbolic literary box knife: "This third-rate TV hack has made a mockery of the office of the President of this great nation; he has blatantly allowed the closeted white supremacists festering in the shadows to have a voice in the national discussion, which is unconscionable and inexcusable. He doesn't even attempt to hide his anti-black, anti-Hispanic, anti-immigrant agenda anymore; he is nothing but a rogue actor who stumbled into the office ill-equipped for the gravity it carries and undeserving of the adulation he now expects. He is a preening, vacuous fool with no redeeming qualities whatsoever, and he is an insult to everything this great country stands for. It is no wonder that the white supremacists feel emboldened by this pitiful excuse for a "leader" his only concern is himself. Nothing he does is for the good of the country." Wow. Just ... wow.
Donald Trump is not tactful; he calls things as he sees them. He is, however, not a racist. He has done more for blacks and Hispanics than any other president in modern times. As to De Lorenzo's charge that Trump's "only concern is himself," I would point out that he is the only president in my lifetime who has donated his presidential salary to charity. President Trump's accomplishments are many and impressive; some are posted here. And here.
Regardless, everyone will get to express their own opinions on Mr. Trump's "fitness" on November 3rd.
De Lornenzo also wrote that Donald Trump is an "unctuous prick." He is certainly not, in my opinion. On the other hand, if Peter D. wants to see an unctuous prick, he should look in a mirror.
And that, folks, is the real-world High-Octane Truth.
Virtue Signaling Gone Wild: The city of Duluth in Minnesota has banned the word 'chief' because it might offend Native Americans. So, city titles like Chief Financial Officer and Fire Chief. John Hinderaker wrote that "the word 'chief' has nothing to do with Indians. It comes from a Latin progenitor and descends through Old French, taking the form in which we know it in Middle English. When English colonists called Indian leaders chiefs, it was not a derogatory term, but rather a standard English word for a leader."
Sometimes I Think Donald Trump Is A Time Traveler From The Future: In August 2017 - almost 3 years ago, President Trump said that white nationalists "should be condemned totally" but also noted, "Many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. So this week, it's Robert E. Lee, I noticed that Stonewall Jackson's coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after. You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?"
He added, "George Washington was a slave owner. … So will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to take down ... statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson?"
And now, that's exactly what the mob wants to do.
Escape From Seattle: Smead Capital Management, a $1.5 billion investment firm, is leaving Seattle due to the unrest. "There is really is not a downtown business community today," said CEO Cole Smead.
Smead said that although taxes in Seattle are lower, candidate recruitment is harder and the cost of living within the city is more expensive than Phoenix.
"We're hearing rumors of 40-story buildings that will be only 20% occupied by October," he commented. "My biggest concern for Seattle was what the business community is going to come back to, and what kind of businesses are going to come back for customers."
Sadly, the exodus will continue. Which reminds me of a near-future joke:
When Will The Madness Stop? The maker of Eskimo Pies will change the 99-year-old brand name of the ice cream treat. The owner of the Eskimo Pie, Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream, said in a statement they had been considering renaming the chocolate-covered ice cream bar and popsicle for some time. "We are committed to being a part of the solution on racial equality, and recognize the term is derogatory," said the company’s head of marketing.
Well … they can no longer pick on Clicquot Club, once one of the largest national beverage companies. Its labels featured Kleek-O, a little happy Eskimo boy. The brand disappeared by 1980. When I was growing up, Clicquot Club sparkling water was the closest thing to bottled water at our house. It was not for casual thirst-quenching; the exotic clear liquid was employed strictly as a mixer for alcoholic beverages whenever we had 'company'. Eskimos were exotic and special to us in those days of living in a row home in Northeast Philadelphia.
I guess Klondike bars are next because - you know - sounds like dyke.
Headline Of The Week is from The People's Cube: 'DNC study finds lockdowns no longer necessary as the economy is now being destroyed more effectively by looters and rioters'.
Tough Year: 85% of independent restaurants may go out of business by the end of 2020, according to the Independent Restaurant Coalition.
The report, conducted by consulting company Compass Lexecon, "outlines the threats facing independent restaurants as the pandemic continues to affect business. Although the restaurant industry as a whole has suffered major losses, independent restaurants like mom-and-pop diners, neighborhood Thai joints, and fine dining staples, are much more at risk than fast-food chains."
"What I'm afraid of is the people that are the least likely to survive are going to be these small, single-location, immigrant-run, women-run, people-of-color-run operations. That we're the ones that don't have the infrastructure like the chain restaurants to survive this," Dan Wu, owner of Atomic Ramen in Lexington, Kentucky, said on an IRC press call. Wu is an immigrant, like many other independent restaurant owners and workers.
Not Available At Any 'Mattress Firm' Location: An animatronic bed of 1883 featured life-size winking bronze statues of women.
The four nude figures at the corners represent women of France, Spain, Italy and Greece. With clever mechanisms, the statues were able to wink and wave fans and fly whisks. The bed was fitted with a music box that played a thirty-minute interlude from Gounod's Faust, activated by a button.
Bad Pun of the Day: In democracy, your vote counts. In feudalism, your count votes.
Tuesday June 23, 2020
The Shine Market: The New York Times published an interesting article about the car wax/polish/cleaning business. It seems that Millennials find car care an annoyance and have little interest in spending Saturday mornings washing and waxing their automobiles. Unsaid is the fact that old timers like me and my car buddies have lost interest in crawling around on the ground intensively cleaning and detailing our four-wheeled possessions the way we used to. Age, arthritis and other infirmities cause us to wax less often and therefore buy less wax.
This presents a big problem for makers of car care products. "As baby boomer car buffs age out, Meguiar's and competitors such as Turtle Wax, Mothers, Collinite and others must court a generation that is the first to largely find car ownership a headache and driving a chore - and see cars as a encumbrance rather than a status symbol." Of course, improved and more durable auto paints have reduced the need for frequent waxing and polishing.
Incidentally ... (more >>>)
Not A Good Start: Tesla appears to be facing significant quality problems with its new Model Y compact crossover - severe enough that some customers are rejecting delivery of the battery-electric SUV.
"The problems reportedly cover different areas, including paint, seats and trim. Tesla CEO Elon Musk earlier this year acknowledged the need to make "rectifications" to some Model Y SUVs as they came off the line, but the issues have not been resolved, according to the new reports. Even though Musk ordered the company to redouble efforts to catch and repair defects as vehicles come off the Tesla assembly line in Fremont, California, some are still being delivered with "significant defects," reported Electrek, a battery-car website that has traditionally been favorable in its coverage of the automaker."
Electrek cited a customer in Maryland who went to pick up a Model Y but wound up rejecting the vehicle because of various issues such as "paint and trim problems, indentations in the seats and a loose seat belt." The buyer also reported that the rear seat was unattached. A variety of Tesla forums have focused in on the rear-seat issue, some noting they were delivered loose or unattached, others noting that they wouldn't fold, as expected, to expand vehicle cargo space. As for faulty paint, that has been an issue since the beginning for Tesla. Analyst Anton Wahlman observed, "It's no surprise that since they're using the same paint shop as the Models S, X and 3 that there'd be continuing paint problems."
"It's Summertime, Summertime, Sum-sum-summertime ..." The Jamies' 1958 musical earwig can get inside your head, displacing more and more rational thought until you become a drooling moron. That's why I don't have the song in my iTunes library.
The tune has been used in commercials for Buick, Ken-L Ration Burger Time Dog Food and Applebee's. I have seen Buicks driven by elderly, drooling morons and I have observed them pulling into the parking lots of many an abominable Applebee's. So there. (Well ... that's better than staying home and eating Ken-L Ration Burger Time Dog Food, I guess.)
Summer officially arrived over the weekend. Monday dawned with bright sun warm temperatures which eventually reach 82 degrees. At 10:00 am, it was already 65 degrees and 63% relative humidity. It was definitely time to take a drive in my 1939 Plymouth business coupe. And I did. I drove with windows down and with '50s rock-n-roll playing through the speakers. But not 'It's Summertime'. I saw Mt. St. Helens which is still snowy but crevices are clearly visible and well-defined as the snow melts.
There was nary a cloud in the brilliant blue sky and all foliage looked green and summery. Traffic was very light and I had an enjoyable first drive of Summer. The Plymouth ran great and it was calming to hear the exhaust burble through open windows as I drove along.
Seeing The Light: Rolling Stone magazine is a liberal rag, and editor Matt Taibbi is unquestionably a liberal. And yet, by some miracle, Taibbi has seen the light and isn't afraid to point out what is so clearly obvious to conservatives. "It feels liberating to say after years of tiptoeing around the fact, but the American left has lost its mind. It's become a cowardly mob of upper-class social media addicts, Twitter Robespierres who move from discipline to discipline torching reputations and jobs with breathtaking casualness."
Matt Margolis observed, "Should Taibbi really be surprised that eventually, this racial virtue signaling would result in casualties on the left? It was inevitable that the hunters would ultimately become the hunted when the left became so consumed with their own self-proclaimed righteousness that they'd compete with each other for who won the medal for the most un-racist."
As the old saying goes, the inmates have taken over the asylum.
"Any Distinguishing Marks, Scars Or Tattoos?" Asked Joe Friday on 'Dragnet', as did just about every other cop actor on those old cop shows. Turns out, that kind of detective work is still effective.
Federal investigators in Philadelphia used shopping site Etsy and some social media platforms to nab a tatted massage therapist accused of torching a cop car while wearing an unusual T-shirt.
"The suspect, 33-year-old Lore-Elisabeth Blumenthal, was identified by FBI agents who examined footage of a May 30 George Floyd protest and noticed her distinct forearm tattoo and a political T-shirt she was wearing when she allegedly set the police cruiser ablaze. The T-shirt - which had the phrase 'Keep the Immigrants Deport the Racists' emblazoned on it - led investigators to an Etsy page that was selling the custom-made shirts."
Blumenthal, a massage therapist, had posted videos showing a woman with a peace-sign forearm tattoo giving massages. The website listed a phone number for Blumenthal, which federal authorities used to track down her address in the Germantown section of the Philly.
Bingo! Book 'er, Danno.
Mexican Europe: Dos Equis is presently being produced not in Mexico, but roughly 5,400 miles away in the western Netherlands. And imported to the U.S.
"When the Mexican government declared a state of emergency in the face of the coronavirus on Mar. 31, one provision was the effective closing of what it considered non-essential businesses. To the dismay of cerveza-lovers on both sides of the border, this included breweries."
Heineken, which owns Dos Equis, "made the decision to transfer production of Dos Equis to its main brewery in the Dutch municipality of Zoeterwoude for the moment, shipping it across the Atlantic to make up for any shortages in the U.S. supply chain."
Virus Update: As of last Friday, total deaths from the Wuhan flu in Clark County (WA) remained at 28. 18 of the deaths were people aged 80 and older.
Twelve people with coronavirus are hospitalized.
Battle Ground's case rate is 946 per million population, compared with Clark County's 1,427/MM, Washington state's rate of 3,688/MM and the overall U.S. rate of 6,908/million.
Unnecessary Worry: Before my first visit to Ireland, I had nightmares that everyone would sound just like Enya and I wouldn't be able to understand a word they said. It turned out that I had no problems during any of my trips.
The bizarre echo technique Enya uses is called 'voice layering'. She also sometimes sings in Lothian, a fake language invented for her.
I do find it ironic that Enya won the 2001 "Echo Award" for best selling international single in Germany. (permalink)
Old Stuff Defined: James Lileks observed that visiting an antique store "is like going to the museum except you can touch things and everything is a gift shop." Except museums are cleaner and well-curated.
Quote Of The Day is from Dennis Miller: "Washington, D.C. is to lying what Wisconsin is to cheese."
Friday June 19, 2020
Needs More Cadillac: At TTAC, Tim Healey drove the Cadillac XT4 Sport compact crossover and found it to be too much like a Chevy Equinox. The blog site Hooniverse came to the same conclusion.
"Cadillacs have to feel special. They have to feel like more than a dressed-up Chevy. Parts binning shouldn't be obvious to anyone except us cranky keyboard warriors who get paid to shout our thoughts about cars into the void." He summarized by writing that "the XT4 lacks the panache needed to compete in a premium class."
The XT4 doesn't look like a Cadillac. The taillights look Asian - reminiscent of a Kia Soul; they should be the vertical knife-edge style long used by Cadillac. With today's LED technology, long narrow taillights present neither design nor technical challenges. The cheesy black plastic wheel arch trim makes this Caddy look cheap. It needs more chrome outside and brushed trim inside. It is fitted with a gutless 237-horsepower 4-cylinder engine. Any Caddy worth its salt should make at least 300 horsepower.
Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda ... Not: Several years ago, I saw an ad for a 1965 ASA 1000 GT for sale at an asking price of over $100,000.
What!? You've never heard of an ASA? I have. In fact, I considered buying one after I graduated from college.
ASA - Autocostruzioni Società per Azioni - was an Italian automobile manufacturer. Its primary product, the 1000 GT, was developed by Giotto Bizzarrini from a Ferrari design and was made between 1964 and '69.
It was a very cool, small sports car powered by a Ferrari-designed, 1000 cc, high-revving, four-cylinder engine. The diminutive 153-inch long coupe model had a steel body with aluminum used for the hood and trunk lid.
The silver example I examined in the showroom looked like a miniature Ferrari but, with a price tag over $5,000 and the ever-questionable Italian reliability factor, I passed on it - opting to purchase a used Corvette instead. (permalink)
Sunglasses Weather: It has been raining quite a bit recently and there's more rain forecast for the weekend, so I fired up my 1939 Plymouth coupe at 10:00 am on Thursday morning and took an old car drive along the back roads of Clark County. The temperature was already in the mid-60s and, by afternoon, it reached the mid-80s. There were acres of bright sunshine and blue sky, laced with puffy clouds here and there.
I drove with the windows down so I could here this mix of exhaust burble combined with songs of 1957-59 playing through the Plymouth's speakers: Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Billy Ward and the Dominoes, The Five Satins, Lee Andrews and the Hearts, The Platters and more. I felt like I was 16 again.
Mt. St. Helens' crevices are now well-defined as its winter layer of snow is melting. I had a most enjoyable excursion. As usual, the old coupe ran great.
Philly Fizz: Hires Root Beer was created by Philadelphia pharmacist Charles Elmer Hires. Hires first tasted root beer, a traditional American beverage dating back to the colonial era, while on his honeymoon in 1875.
By 1876, Hires had developed his own recipe, consisting of sixteen wild roots and berries. The product was originally known as Hires Herbal Tea. At Philadelphia's Centennial Exposition in 1876, he cultivated new customers by ... (more >>>)
Unsettling Experience: I bought my first La-Z-Boy recliner/rocker in 1966. I've had one ever since; I'm now on my 6th one which was delivered last week. (Three of the old ones are still in use by family members.) A couple of weeks ago we traveled to the La-Z-Boy Home Furnishings store which is in the Hayden Meadows section of Portland - about a mile south of the Columbia River and about 17 miles north of center city.
There is a relatively new light rail flyover in the area and we were shocked to find a large homeless camp below it - complete with a motley collection of tents and tarps as well as several outdoor grills. In the shopping complex on N. Hayden Meadows Drive, we found a large crowd on the pavement outside Lowe's Home Improvement. Some appeared to be Mexican laborers looking for day work (a not uncommon sight at big box home improvement stores), but most of the people were unruly homeless pushing their obligatory (stolen) shopping carts. A pair were in a shouting match (probably discussing the philosophical differences between Nietzsche and Kant). During our stay in the area, I spotted two SUVs with 'Security' on the sides - obviously ... (more >>>)
More Retail Closures: 24 Hour Fitness filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and closed 134 locations, including one in Vancouver, WA.
Fascists At Heart: Susan Vass wrote, "'Antifa' has exactly as much to do with fighting fascism as 'Planned Parenthood' has to do with bringing babies into the world."
She also described the late Helen Thomas as "a miserable, crazy old anti-Semitic bat whose unfortunate looks matched her ugly soul."
Thomas was a insanely liberal White House reporter who resembled a witch or a troll. I once wrote this about her: "It just goes to show ya that many aging liberals are like giant M&M Bigots: Underneath the colorful candy shell there's a molten, hate-filled center."
I miss my dad; he would have turned 101 this year. My dad's father would have been 144:
I'm looking forward to seeing both my kids on Sunday. I'll be cooking filets mignon on the grill - rain or shine.
Saturday Movies: When I was a kid, my friends and I would head on down to the Mayfair or Merben theater in NE Philadelphia every Saturday to watch cowboy movies. A few Saturdays ago, I watched an old cowboy flick from 1946 on Turner Classic Movies. It made me feel like a kid again.
The movie was ... (more >>>)
Gone With The Wind: The Aunt Jemima brand of syrup and pancake mix will get a new name and image. Quaker Oats said that the company recognizes that "Aunt Jemima's origins are based on a racial stereotype."
The 130-year-old brand features a black woman named Aunt Jemima. The picture has changed over time and, in recent years, Quaker removed the "mammy" kerchief from the character to blunt criticism that the brand perpetuated a racist stereotype. Quaker said that removing the image and renaming the product line is part of an effort by the company "to make progress toward racial equality." How effective will it be? About as much as removing "shot from guns" from the Quaker Puffed Rice ad "made progress in gun violence."
John Hinderaker asked, "How in the world is that image "based on a racial stereotype?" Is it a stereotype that African-American women know how to make good pancakes? I don't know; but if so, why is this bad? Pasta manufacturers use images of Italian women. Is that somehow racist?"
I dunno. Aunt Jemima looked kind and competent, so I always thought that her image represented wholesome home cooking.
I guess we'll soon get some tatted, Kente-shawl-wearing, angry-looking Sister Taniqua, offering "'woke' pancakes with BLM syrup, you racist cracker!" Or a picture of Eddie Murphy reprising his Our Gang 'Buckwheat' character, with Buckwheat giving the OK signal and saying (in a cartoon balloon), "O-tay!"
Uncle Ben of rice fame is currently on double-secret probation. I'm waiting for Mrs. Butterworth to come out as transgender.
If all this isn't enought, Cream of Wheat is now "reevaluating" its trademark image of its smiling black chef. Maybe they'll rename it 'Cream of White' and put Paula Deen's picture on the box.
All of this is nothing but corporate silliness and caving to social media extremists. None of these products are racist - they present neutral or positive images of African-Americans - and I believe that 99% of blacks would agree.
Remember Sam Cooke? The '60s soul/pop crooner once sang, "Don't know much about history …." Now life imitates lyrics as former VP candidate and Democratic Clown Tim Kaine declared on the floor of Congress that Americans had invented slavery: "The United States didn't inherit slavery from anybody. We created it."
Too bad the Egyptian Pharaohs and Roman Emperors are not around to demand an apology. Or Muslim slave traders.
Megan Fox wrote, "Anyone who believes slavery was invented in 1776 by Americans has the IQ of a sock and should avoid sharp objects for their safety."
Thought For Today: You know you are getting old when everything either dries up or leaks.
Wednesday June 17, 2020
Drive A Bargain: Bankrupt Hertz is selling off a bunch of its rental cars at fire-sale prices.
"It's great news for those in the market for a BMW 7 Series because that's the single best deal from Hertz right now. The study showed the company is selling the luxury sedan nearly 14% below the average market value for an average savings of $6,877.
Right behind it is the Chevrolet Trax, which is $1,714 cheaper than the average model listed.
A couple of other luxury cars make the list in the third and fourth spots. The Mercedes-Benz A-Class and Infiniti QX50 round out third and fourth place with savings on average of $4,252 and $4,145, respectively."
Don't delay. At these prices, I'm sure the best deals will sell out soon.
Another Event Cancellation: In Great Britain, the Goodwood Festival of Speed and Goodwood Revival have both officially been cancelled due to Chinese flu concerns. The events are usually held in late June or early July on the grounds of Goodwood House in West Sussex.
Fish Story: There are many tales about guys exaggerating about the sizes of fish they've caught. I have no experience with this since I'm not a fisherman. However, I have encountered the automotive equivalent of "It was this big!" on numerous occasions. I'm talking about gas mileage, of course.
Recently, my friend Ray called and asked what kind of mileage I used to get from my VW Beetles. I had to rely on my memory (I've owned three Bugs but sold my last one 25 years ago) but I replied, "The worst I ever got was city driving using Rocket Gas (a cheap off-brand, in case you haven't guessed) - 23 mpg. It was lousy gas but was only 22.9¢/gallon in 1964. The best, I recall, was in light traffic at 55-60 mph on a long trip - 32 mpg."
"Me, too!" he exclaimed. "My Beetle pulled the same numbers. But, I met someone at a party last week and he claimed that his Beetle always delivered at least 42 mpg."
This led to a general discussion of the BS artists we've met who brag about gas mileage, quoting unbelievable numbers. Last month, I met a guy who claimed ... (more >>>)
Why We Must Suppress Time Travel: Yes, yes, I'm aware of the usual concerns about disrupting the consequences of history: do-gooders would try and stop the assassinations of Lincoln, Kennedy and Archduke Franz Ferdinand with possibly disastrous results.
Not to mention those who would 'save' Jesus from crucifixion, probably with lasers, several armored Hummers, Bruce Willis and machine guns.
These are all worrisome but I'm most disturbed that various federal agencies, especially the EPA and OSHA, might get their hands on a few time capsules. And that's where the real trouble would begin ... (more >>>)
She's Absolutely Right: An Illinois school has launched an investigation after a teacher claimed "white privilege" was as offensive as the N-word. "I find the term 'white privilege' as racist as the N-word. You have not walked in my shoes either so do not make assumptions about me and my so-called privilege. … You think America is racist? Then you have been hoodwinked by the white liberal establishment and race-baiters like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton," she wrote. I hope this teacher doesn't lose her job for speaking truth to school administration power.
Two weeks ago, I received a letter from my old school lamenting "the latest examples of a tragic United States legacy of violence towards Black and Brown people. … Racism, bigotry, and white privilege continue to be drumbeats across our nation, and their consequences have led to disrespect, violence, and death of Black and Brown people." The school is planning to have "challenging conversations about racism, bigotry, and white privilege. A professional development program will be designed this summer to be implemented during the next school year."
I was angered enough to write back: "Well, good luck with that. Politicians and social scientists have been "having conversations" about race for over 50 years and nothing has been accomplished. Because no one is willing to make the hard choices required to eliminate the root causes of minority underachievement.
It's not about poverty. Forty years ago, the 'boat people' came to the U.S. with no money. They worked at menial jobs, scrimped and saved and bought or started businesses that required little up-front money. Many became quite successful. Even though the educational system in poor neighborhoods is generally lousy (public education is lousy in many 'good' neighborhoods, too), you can't blame poor education for the lack of black-owned businesses. Many of the Vietnamese had only a rudimentary education. They succeeded because they worked hard and were willing to learn."
As to 'white privilege, I asked, "Are you referring to me, or my 1961 classmates? My dad was hard-working, with a blue-collar job at the Pennsylvania Railroad. We owned one car - a 1956 Ford Mainline base model with no options - not even a radio. My parents paid my school tuition, but I worked hard every summer to earn "spending money," including bus fare to and from school. Many of my fellow classmates were in the same boat … the majority of the school's students lived in Philly and used public transit to commute. I assure you that riding the 'R' bus and the Broad Street Subway to school every day - freezing at the bus stop in the winter and holding one's nose in a crowded public transport conveyance during the hot, humid days of May - is not White Privilege."
I'm sick and tired of this insulting 'white privilege' meme that has been foisted upon honest, hard-working, fundamentally good people by professional agitators and bullshit artists.
The only privilege in America seems to be Leftist Privilege. Speaking of which ...
Conundrum Of The Day is from U.S. Senator Ted Cruz: "The modern Left: they cancel 'Gone With the Wind' … and then burn Atlanta."
Anniversary: Tomorrow, my wife and I will quietly celebrate 54 years of marriage. No party .... but we did have one for our 50th.
Quote Of The Day is from John Kenneth Galbraith: "There are two classes of forecasters. Those who don't know ... and those who don't know they don't know."
Monday June 15, 2020
McCahill Remembered: I've profiled numerous people in the past but how could I have forgotten to write about Tom McCahill?
McCahill was best known as the man who tested cars for Mechanix Illustrated magazine. Everybody called him Uncle Tom or Unk - probably because he was the kind of uncle everybody wished for. He was a no-nonsense guy who loved cars, dogs, driving fast and imbibing a couple of scotches at the end of the day.
Born in 1907, Thomas Jay McCahill III was the grandson of a wealthy attorney in Larchmont, NY. His father was manager of the local Mercedes branch, so Tom was exposed to interesting cars early in life. At age 14, he was given an old Winton tourer. After rebuilding the car, he promptly crashed into a tree.
McCahill graduated from Yale University with a degree in fine arts. He became a salesman for Marmon automobiles and, in the mid-1930s, operated dealerships in Manhattan and Palm Beach, featuring Rolls Royce and other luxury cars. The depression and his father's alcoholism wiped out his family's fortune and his automobile shops.
Tom then took up freelance writing ... (more >>>)
China Causes Financial Chaos; Loans Money To Victims: Jaguar Land Rover is the latest automaker to look for additional credit to help it get through this sales downturn created by the Wuhan pandemic; however, instead of using conventional banking partners, JLR secured a $705 million line of credit from a group of Chinese banks. The Brits had turned Jaguar Land Rover down for a loan because they were not deemed credit-worthy.
Is JLR getting special Me-So-Solly discount rates from the maker of their troubles?
The Joy Of Peanut Butter: If you're feeling poorly, there's nothing like peanut butter to make you feel better. When I was sick several years ago and could finally handle solid food, I tried a peanut butter sandwich. It seemed like the finest sandwich I had ever eaten.
It was as if God himself had mixed the PB in a heavenly Hobart mixer using the finest Virginia peanuts hand-selected by trusty, white-linen-gloved farmhands, softly singing 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' while the Mills Brothers hummed in the background. Just like a 1930s movie.
The nuts were then roasted over a Mesquite fire, briefly blanched in Perrier by Ursulines (the French order of nuns), ground in a stainless steel MPE 777 stacked-roll precision Gran-U-Lizer, packaged by young, peaches-and-cream complected Cotswolds virgins and served on bread personally kneaded by the late Frederick 'Grandpa' Stroehmann in the Lord's own bakery.
At least, that's how it tasted to me. (permalink)
Before You Act, Learn Some History, Dummies: Rioters have "defaced a statue of slavery abolitionist Matthias Baldwin in Philadelphia. Like the mobs who burned The Satanic Verses without ever reading the book, the mobs destroy monuments to men they've never heard of. In the New West, history is blasphemy."
Baldwin was a great industrialist and humanitarian. Matthias Baldwin was a consistent donor to religious and secular charitable causes throughout his life. In 1824, he became one of the founders of the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. In 1835, he donated money to establish a school for African-American children in Philadelphia and continued to pay the teachers' salaries out of his own pocket for years thereafter. Baldwin was an outspoken supporter for the abolition of slavery in the United States, a position that was used against him and his firm by competitors eager to sell locomotives to railroads based in the slaveholding South.
I've written more about Mr. Baldwin here.
By 1900, his Baldwin Locomotive Works was Philadelphia's largest employer with a workforce exceeding 8,200. In 1907, when employment reached 18,500, the firm moved from this cramped 17 acre urban site to a 225 acre site in nearby Eddystone, PA.
Urban Anarchy: Victor Davis Hanson wrote, "Social distancing and mandated lockdowns for months have been the source of endless fighting between the people and their governments. Red and blue states often adopted diametrically opposite policies.
But the massive demonstrations and rioting saw hundreds of thousands of protesters jammed together and often without masks. That mass disobedience to quarantining will teach us, better than any university modeling, whether the virus spikes or is indifferent to thousands who congregate in the streets.
The lockdowns were politically weaponized during this election year. Blue states thought the sinking economy would hurt President Trump's reelection bid. Red states wanted to open up as quickly as possible to get the economy back and running before November.
Yet the mass progressive protests and violence forced an unplanned end to mass quarantining - and thereby inadvertently helped jumpstart the country back to business. Those who despise Trump may have done the most to help him.
Blue states pride themselves for their liberal governors, big-city mayors, police chiefs and state attorneys general. But progressive urban bastions like Los Angeles, New York, Minneapolis and Philadelphia are also the ground zero sites of arson, violence and looting, where racial relations are the worst."
Add to that list Seattle, where armed Antifa and Black Lives Matter anarchists have taken over the Capitol Hill section of the city. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has refused to act, and moron Gov. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) - who may be America's worst governor - actually laughed about this open revolt, claiming he hadn't heard about it. He did say, however, that he was demobilizing the National Guard. The police have abandoned their Capitol Hill East Precinct.
Former Seattle resident Gerard Van der Luen pointed out that Capital Hill was "always a shithole." To be fair, it was more quaint and artsy in the 1980s, when I was a regular visitor to the Seattle area.
Jim Treacher asked, "If you live in New York or Minneapolis or Seattle or any other riot-ravaged city right now… why? What's keeping you there? Civic pride? If your own city won't defend itself against the lunatics burning it down, why should you stick around? If you can work from anywhere, why not move to a place where you're less likely to get beaten up and robbed, and much less likely to then be scolded for your 'privilege'?"
Onward And Upward: Scott Grannis wrote, "The Chinese virus is no longer a big source of concern for the market. The growth rate of new cases and deaths is decelerating just about everywhere in the world. The infection fatality rate is increasingly estimated to be as low as 0.2% … which is similar to that of the seasonal flu."
"In any event, what was once thought to be a catastrophic pandemic is now understood to be dangerous mainly to the aged and the infirm, leaving the vast majority to pursue their lives as before."
"Looking ahead, the critical areas of concern, in my mind, are 1) can Trump recover from his currently depressed levels of approval and go on to beat Biden in November, thus avoiding the economically-disastrous policies (e.g., higher taxes, increased regulation, and multiple "green" initiatives) that Biden is proposing? and 2) can the Fed react to the dramatic improvement in the economy - and the rebound in confidence which is sure to follow - by raising interest rates in a timely fashion and thereby averting an unexpected surge in inflation?"
As to the former, it's important to remember that Bill Clinton, a very astute politician in his day, famously said, "It's the economy, stupid." So, it is important for President Trump to do everything he can to improve the economy and get people back to work. However, it is also important to remember that there will be debates. And I think Trump will wipe the floor with Sleepy Joe Biden - a very weak candidate who likely has early-stage dementia.
Many Democrats are hanging their hopes on a great vice-presidential pick. But they forget that Mike Pence is a very good speaker and accomplished debater. He has been a very active VP and has a lot of high-profile assignments/accomplishments.
In Clark County, total deaths from the Wuhan flu have reached 28 - 18 deaths were people age 80 and older. 13,206 people have been tested and there have been 630 positive tests, a rate of 4.8%. Only 4 people with coronavirus are currently hospitalized and none are in intensive care.
Over a week ago, Clark County initiated Phase 2 of its reopening plan. Battle Ground's case rate is 810 per million population, compared with the overall U.S. rate of 6,366/million and Washington state's rate of 3,383/MM. Even though Clark County is still restricted, the data point to a full opening in the near future. Of course, Governor Jay Inslee is a moron, so who knows when he will let us move to Phase 3.
When you look at the data, the states with the highest number of virus cases per million population are on the Acela Corridor: New York (20,704/million), New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, D.C., Connecticut, Delaware and Maryland. All are in excess of 10,000/million.
It is time to get back to business as usual, as much and as quickly as possible.
Fact Of The Day: On average, one hundred people choke on ballpoint pens every year.
Renaming Military Bases: So, the politically-correct liberals want to rename military bases that honor people they don't like. I have some ideas: Rename Fort Hood as Fort Elvis - Private Presley did his basic training there. Any offensively-named USMC Base could be renamed Camp Gomer Pyle. Any suspect Naval Base could be renamed McHale's Navy Base. Other possible base names: Fort Sad Sack (from the comic strip character), Fort Beetle Bailey (ditto) or Fort Will Stockdale (from 'No Time For Sergeants').
Have A Nice Day? No, I Have Other Plans. An Australian psychology expert who has been studying emotions found that "being grumpy makes us think more clearly. In contrast to those annoying happy types, miserable people are better at decision-making and less gullible, his experiments showed."
Quote Of The Day is from Jeremy Clarkson: "I don't understand bus lanes. Why do poor people have to get to places quicker than I do?"
Thursday June 11, 2020
On The Rebound: Used car sales were down 5% in May compared with the previous month, including being down just 2.3% from the pre-pandemic forecast for the final week of May, according to Larry Dixon, senior director of valuation services, J.D. Power. This is a much better sales recovery than that of the new vehicle market.
"Additionally, wholesale auctions are recovering very quickly and were off just 6% in the final week of May from what would have been expected pre-pandemic. On the auction side, prices reached “slightly above” pre-virus expectations as a result of dealers needed to replenish, he noted. Much of the final week improvement is due to the fact that dealers are scrambling to find vehicles to fill their lots and prices are rising."
Old Ford Memories: There is nothing quite like the sound of the starter on a flathead Ford V-8. I still can remember it, even though I've not heard one in years. It sounds like a large tin frog being strangled.
For The Very Rich: Bentley has built more than 20,000 examples of its big Bentayga SUV in four years, and demand does not appear to be dropping.
As Nick Carraway in Scott Fitzgerald's 'The Great Gatsby' said, "The rich are different from you and me."
I bet a lot of them went to the Middle East. Nevertheless, Bentley Motors plans to shed up to 1,000 jobs, nearly a quarter of its workforce, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Tire Tales: I've read a lot of online commentary praising Michelin tires. I've not have good luck with them. My Nissan 300ZX, both of my Lincolns and my wife's Avalon came with Michelins as original equipment.
I didn't think much of the tires - they rode hard, wore fast and the M+S all-weathers were lousy in snow. And unexceptional in the rain.
The Michelins were replaced with either Pirellis or Toyos. I've had particularly good experiences with Pirelli tires.
Ray, a friend of mine wrote, "I stopped buying Michelin after my two Michelin All-Terrain WXR truck tires 'chunked' on the beltway at 55 mph. I complained to the company and they cut me short by telling me their truck tires aren't guaranteed because of severe service.
Hell, I don't boondock, don't go off road and always check my pressures frequently." After arguing ... (more >>>)
Reruns: After watching about two dozen episodes faithfully captured by my DVR at some ungodly hour, I remain convinced that 25+ year-old reruns of 'Homicide: 'Life On The Street' are better than 97% of the current offerings on television. (permalink)
Great Discoveries In Plastics: Found in my files from 1980 or so ...
Bonomo's Turkish Taffy: It was invented in 1912 by Herman Herer, an immigrant Austrian candy maker in New York. No one knows why he named it Turkish Taffy. In 1936, the Bonomo family of Coney Island acquired the product and popularized it as Bonomo's Turkish Taffy. After a battle in the United States Court of Customs & Patents, the Bonomo Family trademarked the terms 'Bonomo's Turkish Taffy' and 'Turkish Taffy' in 1946.
The candy soon became ... (more >>>)
OK For Some But Not For You And Me: Jordan Rachael tweeted, "Imagine watching a televised funeral with hundreds in attendance after being told you can't go to the funeral of someone in your own family, you can't go to church, you can't go to your kids graduation, etc. ... imagine watching it and still not realizing you're being played."
Played? Yeah. How about paid? Who paid for George Floyd's funeral anyway? Who footed the $25,000 bill for that gold Promethean casket? (That's the same hand-polished, mirror-finish bronze casket with 14K gold handles and a tufted velvet interior that Aretha Franklin, James Brown and Michael Jackson were buried in.) Who paid for the airfare to fly that golden box around the U.S. to three funerals? And who paid to rent that gorgeous horse-drawn white hearse?
Who paid for Al Sharpton's airfare? I bet he didn't fly coach. Who paid for Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam goons who provided security at the funeral?
Perhaps, the whole extravaganza was paid for with counterfeit money - like the kind ol' George was trying to pass when all the trouble started.
Kathy K. added, "Or your mother dies in a nursing home - all alone (and you've only looked in a window at her for months) meanwhile your watching thousands burning cities down and thousands more attend a service - while we can only have a few. Screwed up world we live in!!" Indeed.
And why aren't the statue destroyers, spray painters of public monuments and street painters being arrested for defacing public property? Why did police stand by while rioters attacked and destroyed private property? And set a police station on fire?
Almost 2,500 years ago, Euripides said, "The wheels of justice grind exceedingly slow and fine." Yet I see protestors carrying signs proclaiming 'Justice Now!' What do they want - a lynching? As was done to Emmett Till? Justice takes time and patience - something lacking in the instant-gratification-twitterverse-ultrariggered world of today's angry mob.
While George Floyd's death may be tragic, all the facts are not yet in. Competing autopsy reports offer conflicting causes of death and there are reports of bad blood between ex-felon Floyd and white cop, Derek Chauvin. (Both worked as bouncers at the same club.) There were traces of fentanyl, meth and other drugs in Floyd's system at the time of his death. During his arrest, Floyd allegedly dropped a bag containing white powder onto the sidewalk. All the defendants have lawyered-up and more facts may come out at trial.
Sadly, most violence against blacks is committed by other blacks. And the protests begot riots which destroyed businesses, many of them minority-owned. Where's the 'justice' in that?
Philadelphia Descends Into Chaos: This article by Philadelphia resident Thom Nickels documents the horror, destruction and desecration caused by the June riots.
"Though many of the protests surrounding the death of George Floyd began with peaceful intentions, anyone familiar with protest culture today must realize that an undercurrent of violence and anarchy always lies beneath the surface. … According to the Philadelphia Police Department, 378 fires were set in the city and 246 commercial burglaries were committed during the unrest. At first, Mayor Jim Kenney and new police commissioner Danielle Outlaw blamed the fires and looting on a small group of outsiders, but they later had to eat their words. In fact, official arrest data showed that 181 of the arrested were from Philadelphia, while 46 came from outside the city (with 30 having no address). The worst of the rioting and looting occurred over three days, long enough to call into question Kenney's contention that the agitators and looters were just a small band of troublemakers."
The entire article is worth a read.
Definition Of The Day is for 'Egotist': Someone who is usually me-deep in conversation.
Tuesday June 9, 2020
May Vehicle Sales: The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported light vehicle sales at a 12.21 million SAAR (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate) in May 2020, up 40% from the revised April sales rate, and down 30% from May 2019. The impact of COVID-19 is substantial - it appears that April was the worst month.
Sales collapsed in the second half of March and severely declined in April. Sales have rebounded somewhat in May, with continued strength in the pickup and SUV segments. Cheap financing helped - interest rates were at their lowest level in seven years. But sales were dragged down by the collapse of fleet sales - highlighted by the recent bankruptcy by Hertz.
Toyota's overall U.S. sales fell about 26% in May, but retail demand rebounded to 86% of levels seen in May 2019. Retail sales almost doubled from April to May. American Honda sales fell 17%, with cars declining 25%. The company's luxury unit, Acura, also sales slump last month 24%, while the Honda division was down just 16%.
Hyundai's overall U.S. sales in May fell 13%. Hyundai cited a 5% increase in retail (non-fleet) sales. Volume at luxury subsidiary Genesis fell 42%. Mazda, which has been struggling to find its footing over the past two years, rebounded to just a 1% decline in May, thanks in large part to the addition of its new CX-30 crossover to the lineup.
Volvo's sales dropped 2% year-over-year. Subaru of America reported a 19% decrease compared with record May 2019.
Slow Casting: The Old Motor has photos of a transparent Plexiglas Plymouth chassis exhibited at the 1952 Chicago Motor Show.
"It appears that it was a complete chassis setup with some type of electric motor and speed-reduction gear, to rotate the internal engine parts slowly to dazzle show attendees. It looks like both Myra and Josephine were also equipped with plastic head gear and pointers."
The most difficult piece to produce was the acrylic engine block. Because of the large size, irregular shape and non-uniform thickness, it was ... (more >>>)
Zooooom: Ace Speedway in Elon North Carolina drew a crowd of more than 2,000 spectators in defiance of the state's coronavirus restrictions after declaring the race a "protest." The governor's office had warned Ace earlier this week that a crowd of more than 25 would violate the state’s Phase 2 coronavirus restrictions.
A sign from management outside the speedway proclaimed: 'This Event is held in Peaceful Protest of Injustice and Inequality Everywhere'. Ha! Love it!
Hair Today; Gone Tomorrow: My last haircut was on March 18th.
I have an appointment today to get my hair back to its normal length.
Guns For No One: Elmer Fudd will no longer have a rifle in the latest Looney Tunes reboot. Dave Burge commented, "This comes about 80 years too late for the thousands of victims of Elmer Fudd-inspired mass murderers."
I want to know if all those Yosemite Sam 'Back Off' mud flaps will be recalled.
Remember The Fifties? If you need a refresher course, I've posted a three-page, 5,000 word article on the 1950s.
I've sprinkled a lot of old photos throughout the article in case your visual memory needs a jog.
By my definition, the Fifties covers more than a mere decade. It is silly to try to shoehorn an era into exactly ten years. Epochs do not lend themselves to such exact slicing and segmenting. It is my opinion that the Age of the Fifties spanned a period of sixteen years, from October 14, 1947 to November 22, 1963.
On October 14, 1947, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in an experimental rocket plane.
From that point forward, Americans yearned to go faster. In post-War America, people ... (more >>>)
Reelect Trump, Please: James Woods tweeted, "Let's face it. Donald Trump is a rough individual. He is vain, insensitive and raw. But he loves America more than any President in my lifetime. He is the last firewall between us and this cesspool called Washington. I'll take him any day over any of these bums."
I'm for Donald Trump, too - a man of so many accomplishments as president.
Awesome Jobs Report: In May, unemployment fell to 13.3%; 2.5 million jobs added. Mark Levin tweeted: "A vote for Trump is a vote for jobs. A vote for Biden is a vote for mobs." True dat.
Good Question … for those 'Defund The Police' liberals: Niall Gooch tweeted, "Maybe the question to ask them is, if we abolish the police, who will arrest bakers who don't want to cater for gay weddings?"
Handy Tip: If someone close to you has died and you're worried about limits on the number of funeral attendees due to the Wuhan virus, there's an answer. Just hire Al Sharpton to give a eulogy and you can invite as many people as you want.
Quote Of The Day is from the late Johnny Carson: "Happiness is your dentist telling you it won't hurt and then having him catch his hand in the drill."
Friday June 5, 2020
Say Hello To The New Mercury: Strapped for development cash, Nissan is withdrawing its Infiniti brand from the world market, focusing only on North America and China. Infiniti will now be a "Nissan-plus" brand - featuring badge-engineered Nissans with extra trim and bells-and whistles.
"Slowly shedding models and boasting a confusing product and naming strategy, it was clear a couple of years ago that Infiniti was in trouble. The brand reached a post-recession sales high in 2017, when it unloaded more than 153,000 vehicles in the United States. Two years later, that annual volume was 117,708, with Infiniti boasting its lowest market share since 2002. The first quarter of 2020 saw Infiniti sales plunge 25.5%."
Mercury became a "Ford-plus" brand. How'd that work out?
As Language Evolves: Courtesy of the blog, Formula-s, here are some important new words you should learn:
There are many more posted here.
The Night They Tore Old Frankie Down: In the middle of the night on June 3, 2020, the 10-foot tall statue of former Philadelphia mayor Frank Rizzo was removed without fanfare from its place of honor on the front steps of the Municipal Services Building across from City Hall, finishing a job that protesters attempted to accomplish during recent demonstrations against police brutality.
Wussy Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney called the statue "a deplorable monument to racism."
Hapless liberal Kenney can't fix his blighted city, can't stop the riots and can't balance the budget, so he wastes time trying to move a statue.
Protesters had attacked the statue over the weekend, defacing it with paint, setting it on fire and using ropes to try to bring it down. But, just as in real life, Frank wouldn't budge.
The city said that the statue was being placed in secure storage by the Department of Public Property, "until a plan is developed to donate, relocate, or otherwise dispose of it." There is no timeline, but "if and when" a plan is developed, it "will be presented to the Philadelphia Art Commission for approval."
I've written about Frank Rizzo and his statue here. Frank Rizzo was a no-nonsense, guy who loved beating up hippies and other lowlifes with his ever-present nightstick. And I mean that in a good way.
Dan Cirucci recalled his personal encounters with Frank Rizzo here.
As police commissioner, Rizzo was an enforcer of law and order and took pride in the fact that Philadelphia held one of the lowest crime rates of any major city in American during the late 1960s.
Frank wouldn't recognize Philadelphia today.
Most Non-Technical University Courses Are A Waste Of Time: Recently, Jack Baruth wrote that "modern academia is largely deconstructive; in other words, it's a bunch of people who have used a rope to climb a wall and proceeded to pull said rope up behind them while simultaneously lecturing the people left behind on the meaninglessness of ropes." Well said.
Business Advice: Forget The 80/20 Rule, It's The 20/20/60 Rule That's Important.
Everybody who's been in business for more than - say - 10 minutes or so, has had the 80/20 rule drummed into their heads. 80 percent of the sales come from 20 percent of the customers. 80% of the problems come from 20% of the employees. 80 percent of your shipments utilize 20 percent of your inventory. And so on. Some of the 80/20 rules are factual; others are baloney. It depends on the particular kind of business you're in. One rule that seems to hold true for every kind of business is the 20/20/60 rule. It's an important rule and it's not very well known.
Twenty percent of your prospects ... (more >>>)
Celebrate With A Hole: Today is National Donut Day.
How To Start Paying Off The National Debt: Parker Brothers prints $50 billion worth of Monopoly cash in a year. Since its introduction in 1935 they have sold 180 million board games.
Headline Of The Week is from The People's Cube: 'With America in lockdown, China offers to host Democrat primary'.
Blonde Joke: Two blondes are walking down the street. One notices a compact on the sidewalk and leans down to pick it up. She opens it, looks in the mirror and says, 'Hmm, this person looks familiar.'
The second blonde says, 'Here, let me see!'
So, the first blonde hands her the compact.
The second blonde looks in the mirror and says, 'You dummy, it's me!'
Thought For Today: You don't need anger management. You need people to stop pissing you off.
Wednesday June 3, 2020
The Best? In a Road & Track article, Mack Hogan opined that the Explorer-based Lincoln Aviator is "the best luxury car in a generation."
"If the Navigator's biggest problem is that it tries to match, not beat, other luxury flagships, the Aviator's boundless ambition sets a great precedent for the brand. Look at the styling. To my eye, this is the first SUV since 2013 to match the current Range Rover's elegance and athleticism, with even more intricate detailing. The Aviator beat the rest of the luxury crossover field in offering smartphone-as-key capability (Tesla offers it on the Model 3 and promises it on other models "soon"). Its adaptive suspension uses cameras to adjust to the road ahead, tech usually reserved for S-Class-level vehicles. Even the Aviator's door chime is better than the competition's, composed by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra to be delicate, not grating." He also raves about the Aviator's comfortable seats, something that has long been a Lincoln tradition. I still fondly recall the seats in my 1984 Mark VII coupe.
"A top-trim Aviator Black Label starts at $77,695. That's deep into Mercedes GLE territory. But that's not a dealbreaker for one simple reason: the Aviator is easily the better car."
Can't Wait For Summer To Arrive: On Monday, the temperature was 61 degrees and the weather was partly cloudy at 10:45 am. I put on my sunglasses and went for a drive in my 1939 Plymouth coupe.
There were lots of white clouds to the north, east and west, reminding me of Ed Asner's hairline. But there was blue sky overhead and mostly sunny conditions for most of my drive, with the sun occasionally slipping behind white puffy clouds.
I enjoyed playing old 1950s music on my sound system and listening to the burble of the Plymouth's Glasspacks as I motored along with the windows rolled down. Traffic wasn't too bad and I enjoyed my morning excursion.
I'm looking forward to more drives as summer makes its way into my life. Do stuff while you're still able, I say.
Book Review: 'Junkyard: Behind The Gates At California's Secretive European-Car Salvage Yard' by photographer Dieter Rebmann and author Roland Lowisch
Entropy is all around us. Everything goes downhill; that's why there are graveyards for people and junkyards for cars. I once spoke with a curator at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan about the one-off concept cars on display. He described their care as "controlled decay," explaining that everything deteriorates with time - leather, paint, etc. - even under museum-controlled air quality and lighting. These 1950s-era machines are being preserved as well as possible but decline is inevitable.
When new, exotic cars are a delight to their wealthy owners but, as they are driven, problems crop up, the owner tries of them and trades them for something newer. After multiple owners, the car is eventually wrecked, neglected or abused to the point where it is not worth fixing.
Even in really good condition, old exotics may not ... (more >>>)
It's A Bird, It's A Plane ... The hummingbird hawk moth is a day-flying moth with a wingspan about two inches, found in the UK and elsewhere. The insect looks remarkably like a hummingbird.
Hmmmm. I thought that the Hummingbird Hawkmoth was a small British sedan imported to the U.S. in the 1950s.
Get The Lead Out: Using the subversive mantra of 'But think of the children', misguided do-gooders are trying to ban lead in all forms. Funny, none of my childhood friends ever died of lead poisoning, despite the fact that all of us did our teething on cribs and playpens painted in bright, lead-laden colors. And chewed on slush-cast toys that were either made of lead or painted with it.
Ignorant bureaucrats have forced solder producers to go lead-free, even though … (more >>>)
Try Not To Sound Like A Moron ... if you're interviewed by the press. A local woman "executive" said in a newspaper interview that her first job at a now-defunct drive-in theater in Longview, WA "gave me a taste of what it's like working for the entertainment industry." This is like saying that a job at Burger King "gave me a taste of what it's like working for royalty." (permalink)
Hey! What Happened To Global Warming? Our sun has gone into lockdown, which could cause freezing weather, earthquakes and famine, scientists say.
The sun is currently in a period of "solar minimum," meaning activity on its surface has fallen dramatically.
"NASA scientists fear it could be a repeat of the Dalton Minimum, which happened between 1790 and 1830 - leading to periods of brutal cold, crop loss, famine and powerful volcanic eruptions. Temperatures plummeted by up to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over 20 years, devastating the world's food production."
According to an article in Electroverse, North America has set 233 new all-time monthly low temperature records in May versus just the 18 record highs.
Time to order some Maine Mountain Parkas from L.L. Bean.
Word Play: Boffins, strumpets, puffins, muppets - they all sound like things you might have for breakfast.
Lame Joke Of The Day: What did one hat say to the other hat? "You stay here. I'll go on a head."
Monday June 1, 2020
Supreme Road Trip: Recently, my wife found the July 1958 issue of The National Geographic Magazine. Inside was a lengthy article by William O. Douglas titled 'West From The Khyber Pass'.
During the summer of 1957, United States Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas accompanied by his wife Mercedes and her friend Mary Watkins, drove from Karachi (Pakistan) to Istanbul (Turkey) in a 1956 Chevrolet 210 station wagon without air conditioning. Their route generally followed the southern edge of Russia. When they gassed up, it was often with poor-quality Russian gasoline. They drove over 6,800 miles, much of it ... (more >>>)
Scumbag Auto Dealer: A Hyundai dealer in Culver City, CA had several vehicles that customers had dropped off for service towed off his dealer lot when the business shut down because of the coronavirus outbreak.
That's left the vehicle owners facing thousands of dollars in towing and impoundment fees. One affected owner said the towing company that moved her car has told her that a lien had been placed on her vehicle and would be sold if she doesn’t cough up $6,000 in cash to settle towing and accumulated impoundment fees.
The head of Hyundai Motor America communications describes a deteriorating business relationship and says Nissani voluntarily ended its affiliation with the brand in April. The dealer is now closed and reportedly fenced off. Hyundai said it apologizes to the affected owners and pledged "to make this right."
Last year, co-owner Hooman Nissani was ordered to pay $2.4 million as part of a settlement over what the state of California said was cheating workers at a car wash he owned out of wages and overtime pay over three years.
Maybe Next Year: The iconic Hershey Swap Meet has been canceled for the first time in its 65-year history. The jam-packed event is usually held in October each year.
Up And Away! On Saturday, SpaceX launched NASA astronauts into space - the first such launch from U.S. soil since 2011. The launch is the first time a private company, rather than a national government, has sent astronauts into orbit. Launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, the astronauts traveled to the International Space Station in a Crew Dragon spacecraft built by the Elon Musk's space company. On Sunday, the capsule linked up with the ISS.
The Falcon 9 took off like … well … a rocket. After 15 seconds, it was doing 130 miles per hour. 30 seconds: 290 mph. One minute: 623 mph. 1.5 minutes: 1,375 mph. Two minutes: 2,330 mph. Three minutes: 4,185 mph. Zooooom!
It was wonderful to see America get back in space. Thank you, President Trump. His predecessor Barack Obama, ignored the space program, famously telling NASA that its job was "Muslim outreach."
When I heard the NASA announcer say to the two astronauts, "Godspeed, Bob and Doug," I thought I was watching a new episode of 'The Great White North'. Take off, hosers - eh!
The Road To Nostalgia: For hundreds of years, doctors thought nostalgia was a disease.
David Berry wrote, "In 1688, a Swiss medical student named Johannes Hofer gave the name nostalgia to a malady he had noticed in young Swiss people who had been sent abroad."
Hofer concocted the term from "Ancient Greek: nostos roughly means "home" - although it more often means "homecoming," which incidentally was also the name for an entire subcategory of Greek literature, most notably the 'Odyssey' - while algos means, more simply, "pain," derived from Algea, the personifications of sorrow and grief, and a common classification at the time, attached to a variety of maladies that have since gotten either more precise or more vernacular names."
Now, nostalgia is merely ... (more >>>)
Truth In Fiction: Ten years ago or so, in his novel, 'Guardian of Lies', author Steve Martini wrote, "In the nineties, politicians eager to pocket million-dollar speaking fees from foreign trade groups embraced the concept of a global economy. They teamed up with Chinese businessmen and Mexican manufacturers and carved out a zone along the U.S. southern border where trade restrictions were virtually eliminated.
American politicians sold the country on the concept of our being an information economy, that we no longer needed manufacturing or heavy industries, as if you could drive words and eat sentences. They shipped entire job sectors abroad and then railed at the demise of the middle class."
Wuhan Virus Update: Clark County's cumulative death toll remains unchanged at 25. Out of 551 positive tests (1,148 per million people), only 6 people are hospitalized - none in intensive care.
In my rural zip code, there are 29 cases - a rate of 756 per million. This is well below the national average of 5,401 cases/million and the Washington state average of 2,875/million.
No portion of Clark County has been permitted by the governor to move to phase 2 reopening at this time.
Something To Think About: Shem Horne tweeted, "Don't forget, the same people attacking President Trump and blaming the 100,000 coronavirus deaths on him were just two months ago saying there would be 2 million dead by now. Going by their numbers, they should be praising him for saving 1.9 million lives."
But of course, that wouldn't fit the Never-Trump narrative.
Twitter In A Nutshell: Dave Burge tweeted, "Can we all just accept that Twitter is a garbage website that attracts lunatics and is curated and filtered by lunatics and under no circumstances should you believe a single thing anybody says here, and all of this is perfectly legal?"
In case you didn't already know, I am not on Twitter.
My Great Idea ... but two decades too late. The people who make Silly Putty should have purchased a fleet of Honda Insights for their sales staff and painted the cars the color of the SP egg. (permalink)
Thought For Today: The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.
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