A Blog About Cars ... And More
Wednesday March 31, 2021
AutoSketch: 1957 Chrysler 300C - Motorized Dynamite
If you want to start a friendly argument among car enthusiasts, ask when the first muscle car appeared on the scene. While the term it self came into being in the 1960s, around the time the first Pontiac GTO arrived - one could readily argue that the first postwar muscle car appeared in the 1955 model year, when the Chrysler C300 was introduced. Given that a muscle car is a standard-bodied production car with a big powerful engine, it could be argued that the very first muscle car was the 1936 Buick Century. This Buick used the shorter and lighter Buick Special body with a large engine from the bigger Roadmaster and Limited models, giving the Century more performance. Buick named it 'Century' because it supposedly had a top speed of 100 mph.
Getting back to the Chrysler 300 series cars, the first ... (more >>>)
Snorting Coupe: If you can stand the looks of the Nostrildamus front end - looking like Edsel's Bavarian grandson, the 2021 BMW M4 coupe will wow your performance-crazy friends. It features a rare six-speed manual transmission and a torque-rich 3.0-liter, 473 horsepower, twin-turbo inline six and rear-wheel drive with a mechanical limited-slip differential.
Dan Neil wrote that "my materialistic heart is full. Oh, to be a powder snorted into those flaring nostrils. I admit I am not a good moral compass."
"The new M4 Coupe's relative lightness (3,830 pounds) and rigidity feel like old times. What a yar little vessel this is. The front and rear structures are webbed with elaborate aluminum bracing. The M-specific double-joint spring-strut front and five-link rear suspension is flinty, summoning neck-bending levels of lateral grip you can just rather casually lay on, steering from corner to corner, in excess of 1 G."
Bring money - the model Dan tested stickered at $97,545. That would tend to empty my materialistic heart. And confirm my long-held opinion that Bimmers are overpriced.
Coughing Fit: I just opened a new bag of Halls cough drops. The individual wrappers are now imprinted with inspirational messages such as 'You've survived tougher', 'Don't waste a precious minute' and 'Don't give up on yourself'.
The cough drops now carry the slogan ... (more >>>)
Obsolete Skills - A Primer For Dinosaurs: Like me. This fun site lists skills which are no longer necessary for most people in the 21st Century. Ones that appealed to me included:
Ironically, Most Dildos Are Made Of Plastic: An environmental scientist has warned that plastic pollution is shrinking penises and making men infertile, meaning most of them won't be able to produce sperm by 2045.
Dr. Shanna Swan wrote that humanity is facing an "existential crisis due to phthalates, a chemical used in the plastic manufacturing process which disrupts the endocrine system. … Phathalates mimic the hormone estrogen and thus disrupt the natural production of hormones in the human body, which researchers have linked to interference in sexual development in infants and behaviors in adults." Phthalates, or phthalate esters, are esters of phthalic acid. They are mainly used as plasticizers - i.e., substances added to plastics to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability and longevity. They are used primarily to soften polyvinyl chloride compounds.
Environmental scientists generally have a poor track record when it comes to future predictions. And Dr. Swan is trying to sell a book.
In related news, An analysis of spending on Amazon following the distribution of the latest coronavirus stimulus, a massive $1.9 trillion package, suggests that people are using it to let off some steam. A vibrator made of flexible plastic called the rose flower sex toy for women has experienced the second largest surge in sales - up 334%.
Utility At Both Ends: Greg Gutfeld sang the praises of Kentucky Fried Chicken: "Okay - they were the only restaurant ever to put food in a bucket, but still - the profound brilliance of their crispy delight could never be denied. You could eat their chicken, and then use the bucket when the diarrhea hits."
Joke Of The Day: Two Inuits sitting in a kayak were chilly, so they lit a fire in the craft. Unsurprisingly it sank, proving once again that you can't have your kayak and heat it too.
Monday March 29, 2021
Electric Car Market Share: The electric vehicle market in the United States remained flat in 2020. Estimated all-electric vehicle sales in 2020 were 300,000 with Tesla accounting for almost all of the vehicles sold. Only 2% of all vehicle sales in the U.S. are BEVs (Battery Electric Vehicles). With so many new U.S. offerings in the next year or so, it will be interesting to see if the market share increases substantially in the near future.
In California, about 8% of all car sales are electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids. In Washington state, 4% of all car sales are from those two categories. Oregon is at 3%. At present, these states represent the three largest U.S. markets for these vehicles.
Electric cars are far more popular in Europe, where people do not travel such long distances and where charging infrastructure is more widespread, where charging infrastructure is more widespread and where gasoline often costs more than $8.00/gallon. Carmakers sold more than 500,000 battery electric cars in Europe during 2020. One estimate claims that BEVs now represent 20% of all new car sales in Europe.
In Norway .. (more >>>)
Those Alpina Wheels Have Always Been Great-Looking: If I were to buy a new car this year - and I have no plans to do so since our present cars are doing just fine thank you, I'd certainly put the 2022 BMW Alpina B8 Gran Coupe on my list.
It's V8-powered, too: "The B8 uses a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8, but output is 612 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque."
The B8 has four-piston front brake calipers, four-wheel steering, a limited-slip rear differential, stiffer shock and lower wishbone mounts, plus reinforced anti-roll bars.
The Alpina B8 will arrive at BMW dealers late this spring. The base price is $140,895. That's a lotta bucks but, the looks and performance make it a worthwhile expenditure.
Another Myth Exposed: In February 1968, Walter Cronkite mused that the U.S. military effort in Vietnam was "mired in stalemate and that negotiations might eventually offer a way out."
The media later rewrote history, referring to this as The Cronkite Moment, which caused President Lyndon Johnson to rethink the mismanaged, misguided war and made him decide to not run for reelection.
A recent article by W. Joseph Campbell refutes this story, noting that Johnson may not have even watched CBS News that evening - he was in Texas at a black-tie birthday party when the program was broadcast. "Until late in his life, Cronkite dismissed the notion that his pronouncement had much effect on Johnson: He considered its impact as akin to that of a straw on the back of a crippled camel. Cronkite invoked such an analogy in his 1997 memoir, 'A Reporters Life'."
I can state personally that the Vietnam War was unpopular with me and most of my friends in 1967. We understood the necessity of World War II. We also saw the futility of the Korean War - which has still not officially ended. We believed that you shouldn't go to war unless you plan to win, bigly.
Straight Whites Need Not Apply: Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) has announced that she will be joining Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) who said that "she would vote against any Biden nominations that were not racial minorities or LGBT individuals."
Equal opportunity has been replaced by systemic racism in the Halls of Congress. That's disgraceful. These two Senators should be censured.
Critical Race Theory: I'm old enough to remember when CRT stood for Cathode Ray Tube. Every TV had one. As did most oscilloscopes.
For The Record: It has been more than two weeks since Texas lifted the mask mandate. Wuhan Flu hospitalizations statewide are down 21%.
Laundry Malfunction reported by The Onion: 'Shroud Of Turin Accidentally Washed With Red Shirt'.
Quote Of The Day is from Albert Einstein: "To punish me for my contempt for authority, fate made me an authority myself."
Friday March 26, 2021
Recalling The Model T Ford With Fondness: Well, not me. I've never driven one or even ridden in one. I did sit in a yellow brass-era Model T roadster for a photo with my friend Ray at the Peterson Automotive Museum during our 2002 Great California Adventure. And for one with my wife during our 2010 visit to the Peterson.
The last Model T rolled of Ford's assembly line sixteen years before my birth and I have no personal connection to Ford's Tin Lizzie. I did however, place it at the top of the list of 'Ten Cars That Changed Everything'.
Actions Have Consequences. So Does Voting: The United Auto Workers union is promising to act on behalf of Ford employees of Local 2000 if jobs promised for the Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake are sent to Mexico.
"UAW stated it gained commitments from Ford in 2019 for the plant, including an investment of $900 million and a next generation product to be added in 2023. UAW said Ford will not honor its commitment and intends to build a next generation vehicle in Mexico."
The UAW did not get that promise. Donald Trump did.
He is no longer president. Those jobs are gone now. Maybe the blue UAW should ask Biden for help, since so many of them voted for him.
It Was A War, After All. And We Lost. The former lead investigator at the State Department who oversaw the Task Force into the origin of the China virus said that "he believes the virus escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China, and that it may have been the result of research that the Chinese military was doing on a bioweapon."
"The Wuhan Institute of Virology is not the National Institute of Health," said David Asher, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. "It was operating a secret, classified program. In my view, and I'm just one person, my view is it was a biological weapons program." Asher believes the Chinese Communist Party has engaged in a massive cover-up during the past 14 months.
Asher also said ... (more >>>)
NewSpeak: The 'homeless' - a polite, PC word which replaced tramps, vagrants, bums and hobos - are new being called "urban campers" by leftie advocates. According to studies, the vast majority of homeless people are addicts.
Don't Trust The Times: In September 1995, the New York Times predicted that "most of the beaches on the East Coast of the United States will be gone in 25 years due to rising sea levels caused by global warming."
I've added this item to my Bad Predictions page.
Admired By His Peers: Talented actor George Segal has died at age 87 from complications of bypass surgery.
George was not only a versatile actor - excelling in both comedy and drama - but was also an accomplished banjo player. Notable films included 'King Rat', 'Who's Afraid Of Virginia Wolf', 'The Hot Rock', 'Rollercoaster', 'Fun With Dick And Jane' (1977), 'The Last Married Couple In America' as well as the television series, 'The Goldbergs'. RIP.
In related news, actress Jessica Walter has died at age 80. She was known for her film work in 'Grand Prix', 'The Group', 'Play Misty For Me' and many other flicks, as well as numerous theatrical and television productions. RIP.
Headline Of The Week is from The People's Cube: 'Green energy to be renamed 'blackout energy' for easier comprehension of climate complexities'.
And: 'Immigrants to Texas and Florida from New York and California break down and cry when they realize all their sacrifices for a better tomorrow were based on lies.'
Let There Be Light: Earth Hour 2021 will take place this Saturday March 27th at 8:30 pm Pacific time. Green Freaks, hippies, liberals, PC cultists, haters of electricity and Sustainability Wackos want all of us to turn off all our lights for an hour.
It is rumored that North Korea will have to borrow a table lamp from China in order to have a light to turn off.
Economist Ross McKitrick has written, "Abundant, cheap electricity has been the greatest source of human liberation in the 20th century. Every material social advance in the 20th century depended on the proliferation of inexpensive and reliable electricity.
Giving women the freedom to work outside the home depended on the availability of electrical appliances that free up time from domestic chores. Getting children out of menial labor and into schools depended on the same thing, as well as the ability to provide safe indoor lighting for reading.
Development and provision of modern health care without electricity is absolutely impossible. The expansion of our food supply, and the promotion of hygiene and nutrition, depended on being able to irrigate fields, cook and refrigerate foods, and have a steady indoor supply of hot water.
Many of the world's poor suffer brutal environmental conditions in their own homes because of the necessity of cooking over indoor fires that burn twigs and dung. This causes local deforestation and the proliferation of smoke- and parasite-related lung diseases.
Anyone who wants to see local conditions improve in the Third World should realize the importance of access to cheap electricity from fossil-fuel based power generating stations. After all, that's how the West developed.
The whole mentality around Earth Hour demonizes electricity."
If there were no electricity, no one would know about Earth Hour. Computers would go dark, there would be no internet, no radio or television and printing presses would grind to a halt.
Factoid Of The Week: The average person walks 913 miles per year and drinks 556 glasses of wine (27.8 gallons) per year. That calculates out to 33 miles per gallon, which is pretty good.
Thought For Today: When everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.
Wednesday March 24, 2021
The Shakeout Begins: In the early days of the automobile, there were many companies which raised capital, built a few cars, couldn't compete or make money in a market that had fast-moving technology and consolidation of suppliers dealers and manufacturers. Some were just scammobiles conceived to sucker money out of investors. If you're a car guy with total recall, you may remember long-gone car names such as Abbott, Hayes-Apperson, Duryea, Emancipator, Grout Runabout, Orient Buckboard, Metz, Ultra Motorcar and others. In the early 20th Century, there was no Big Three. Instead, there was the Sorta-Big One Hundred And Three. Or maybe more.
History appears to be repeating itself in the electric vehicle industry. It seems like every day, another electric car company has been formed. Some of them are in trouble. Nikola was probably the first. Hindenburg Research, the same firm that outed Nikola last year, recently issued a very negative report on Lordstown Motors.
The research firm wrote ... (more >>>)
Covid Train Mania: Last spring, the managers at Märklin, the 162-year-old maker of model trains in Germany, were surprised by something unexpected in the sales reports. By November, Märklin's monthly orders were up 70% over the previous year.
"Along with baking and jigsaw puzzles earlier in the pandemic, model trains are among the passions being rediscovered while people are cooped up indoors. Several companies that make trains are reporting jumps in sales. For many people, the chance to create a separate, better world in the living room - with stunning mountains, tiny chugging locomotives and communities of inch-high people where no one needs a mask - is hard to resist." Märklin, which filed for bankruptcy protection over a decade ago, is now for the first time in years hiring new apprentices to learn the precise work of making super-detailed tiny trains. The company employs about 1,170 full-time employees in its two locations in Göppingen and Gyor, Hungary. Märklin is headquartered in the Swabian town of Göppingen, in Germany's southwest.
Märklin trains come in three scales, with ... (more >>>)
March 2021 Virus Update: Clark County had 835 new cases this month, down 56% from the same period last month. Only 23 people were hospitalized this month - down 39% from February. And, the mortality rate for March has dropped to 1.4%. I have updated the monthly table here.
In the past month, bi-weekly new case rates in Clark County have dropped from 2,098 cases/million to 888/million - a drop of 58%. Despite a dramatic 80% decline in new Clark County covid cases over the past two months, local, regional and national news reports remain full of hysteria and misinformation. There are still onerous regulations on businesses, particularly in the hard-hit hospitality sector.
As of March 22nd, there have been - cumulatively - 211 confirmed Wuhan flu deaths in Clark County, Washington from the China virus, a rate of 440 per million. There were 12 new deaths in the past month - down from 47 last month. Of the 211 total cumulative deaths, 187 were folks ages 60 and up and 203 of the deceased had underlying medical conditions. In Clark County, restaurants may now operate at 50% capacity.
The death rate for Washington State is ... (more >>>)
Nuns Having Fun:
Quote Of The Day is from Thomas Sowell: "Equal opportunity policies are against racism. Affirmative action is racism under new management."
Monday March 22, 2021
Two Kings: In this 1950s photo, jazz/pop singer and pianist Nat King Cole squeezed into a tiny three-wheeled Messerschmitt cabin scooter, dwarfed in comparison to the 1953 Cadillac 75 limo in which his entourage is riding. Reportedly, Mr. Cole owned two Messerschmitt dealerships, one in Los Angeles.
The 111-inch long Messerschmitt seated two in tandem and was powered by a Fichtel and Sachs one-cylinder, kick-start motorcycle engine. The two-stroke, air-cooled engine ... (more >>>)
Big Bucks: The base price of the big 2021 Mercedes-Maybach S 580 sedan starts at $185,950.
Book Review: 'Virgil Exner - Visioneer' by Peter Grist
Virgil Exner was a talented designer and stylist, whose work is best known in the automotive field. Working for General Motors in the 1930s, he developed the Silver Streak brightwork first seen adorning the 1936 Pontiac hood. The Silver Streak remained a Pontiac signature style element for over 20 years. He worked at Studebaker during the 1940s - first as an employee of Raymond Loewy - who held the Studebaker design contract - and later as a direct Studebaker employee.
While Loewy always claimed credit for his employee's work, it is generally acknowledged that Exner deserves much of the credit for the radical 'Which Way Is It Going?' 1947 Studebaker design - a three box, mostly slab-sided style with pontoon rear fender which was quickly copied by other automakers. After working for Loewy for several years, Exner came to despise him for his slave-driving attitude and usurping credit for the work of others.
Virgil Exner began working for Chrysler, where ... (more >>>)
Preferred Parking: A segment on a 'Top Gear' rerun, featuring a Ferrari F40 supercar, triggered a memory.
In the early 1990s, we often dined at the Couch Street Fish House (it closed in 2000) in the questionable neighborhood (aka - seedy, filled with drunks and drifters) of Old Town Portland. The establishment had a small valet lot and, when we arrived in my Lincoln Mark VII, the car was always buried in obscurity amongst the other vehicular iron. When I purchased my new '92 Twin Turbo Nissan 300ZX and fitted it with chrome wheels, the valets parked it right next to the door, like a piece of automotive jewelry.
One evening, I exited the restaurant and found my Z buried amongst the more plebeian vehicles. It had been dethroned; a low-slung, red Ferrari F40 was parked by the door. Fame - especially car fame - is fleeting.
Fierce Competition: Many people think that targeted, saturation competition - opening a Burger King across from McDonalds, a Starbucks up the street from a local coffee house, etc. - is a new thing.
Three shoe stores - Father & Son Shoes, Flagg Bros. and Thom McAn - are next door to one another in an early 1950s photo taken under the Frankford El tracks at the corner of Frankford Avenue and Orthodox St. in Philadelphia, PA.
This is capitalism at its most intense. Battle to the death. Winner take all. (permalink)
Tomorrow Is National Puppy Day: I still remember my first dog, which I received as a pup 73 years ago this month.
His name was Winky and, yes, he did wink at people. Winky was a purebred beagle with papers. He came from ... (more >>>)
Quote Of The Day is from the late Johnny Carson: "I was so naive as a kid I used to sneak behind the barn and do nothing."
Friday March 19, 2021
Little Cars: This kid is enjoying his 1957 Ford Thunderbird Electric PowerCar:
This miniature T-Bird was made by The PowerCar company of Mystic Connecticut. The firm began making the Thunderbird Jr. line in 1955 and continued through the 1967 T-Bird model year. The fiberglass-bodied '57 Thunderbird Jr. was ... (more >>>)
Price Hike: Tesla has raised the prices of four of its electric vehicles. The Model S Plaid Plus sedan is now priced at $149,990. The Plaid Plus is Tesla's top-tier Model S, with a 520-mile range and 1,100 horsepower.
The Model 3 Standard Range Plus now costs $37,490, up from $36,990, and the Model 3 Long-Range All-Wheel Drive costs $46,490, up from $45,990. It also raised the price of its Model Y Long Range by $1,000, to $49,990.
The Model S Plaid and the Model X Plaid each cost $119,990.
Industry analysts have expressed concerns about Tesla's falling market share. "Tesla suddenly is losing ground as it faces new competition from products like the Ford Mustang Mach-E and Volkswagen ID.4."
"In the U.S., Tesla held an overwhelming 81% share of the battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, market last year." That fell to 69% in February." In Europe ... (more >>>)
What The World Needs Now ... is the device advertised in the October '57 issue of Road & Track:
In an era of $3.00+ a gallon gas (and rising), we could all use one. Do they make these for other cars too? How about Lexus? Or Toyota? (permalink)
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.
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 >>>)
The Queen Of The Nurburgring: Sabine Schmitz, the smiling German who could drive wickedly fast, has died at age 61 after a four-year battle with a rare and persistent form of cancer.
"She was the first woman to win the 24 Hours of Nurburgring, doing so in 1996. She won the race twice as part of a long, successful career that also saw her become a fixture on 'Top Gear'."
She raced professionally for BMW and Porsche.
Sabine grew up in Nurburg, near the track. She once estimated that she'd lapped the Nurburgring more than 30,000 times. RIP.
"Did You Touch Her, Mr. Bond?" Actor Yaphet Kotto has died at age 81. He was an excellent Bond villain Dr. Kananga/Mr. Big in the 1973 flick, 'Live and Let Die', and gave great performances as Lieutenant Al Giardello in the TV series, 'Homicide - Life On The Street' which rand from 1993 to '99. He appeared in numerous other films including the science-fiction/horror film 'Alien' (1979), 'Midnight Run' and the Arnold Schwarzenegger science-fiction/action film 'The Running Man' (1987).
He received an Emmy nomination for playing real-life Ugandan strongman and cannibal Idi Amin in the TV movie 'Raid on Entebbe', about the IDF operation in 1976 to rescue dozens of Israelis on a plane hijacked by Palestinian terrorists. At the height of his fame, Kotto turned down the role of Captain Picard in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' - a decision he later said he regretted. RIP.
Too Focused: The Baron Focused Growth Fund noted in its latest mutual fund prospectus update that "about 48% of the Fund's assets are invested in Tesla stock. Therefore, the Fund is exposed to the risk that were Tesla stock to lose significant value, which could happen rapidly, the Fund's performance would be adversely affected." Ya think?
Today is the Feast Day of St. Joseph. Pope Francis has declared that 2021 is the Year of St. Joseph. "This coincides with the 150th anniversary of Blessed Pope Pius IX's declaration of St. Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church.
Pope Francis also published an apostolic letter about St. Joseph, 'Patris Corde', which means 'With a Father's Loving Heart'. In it, he names St. Joseph's many admirable qualities, worthy of imitation in the coming year and the future. The pope noted that "throughout his life, St. Joseph had to make many small, hidden sacrifices to protect and guide the Holy Family. Similarly, many ordinary people have made sacrifices in the face of great hardship in the last year. And just as St. Joseph demonstrated, these small sacrifices and demonstrations of resourcefulness become small moments of heroism."
Sadly, St. Joseph doesn't always get the respect he deserves. His feast day is overshadowed by St. Patrick's Day, two days earlier. In recent times, a St. Joseph the Worker 'feast' has been celebrated on May 1, which gives it a vaguely communistic whiff. In 1955 … (more >>>)
Remember 15 Days To 'Slow The Spread'? That was over a year ago.
Quote Of The Day is from Alan Sullivan: "One of the few good things about old age is outliving people you despise."
Wednesday March 17, 2021 - Cead Mille Failte!
Discretion: Six retired Irishmen were playing poker in O'Leary's apartment when Paddy Murphy loses $500 on a single hand, clutches his chest, and drops dead at the table. Showing respect for their fallen brother, the other five continue playing standing up.
Michael O'Conner looks around and asks, "Oh, me boys, someone got's to tell Paddy's wife. Who will it be?"
They draw straws. Paul Gallagher picks the short one. They tell him to be discreet, be gentle, don't make a bad situation any worse. "Discreet?! I'm the most discreet Irishmen you'll ever meet. Discretion is me middle name. Leave it to me."
Gallagher goes over to Murphy's house and knocks on the door. Mrs. Murphy answers, and asks what he wants. Gallagher declares, "Your husband just lost $500, and is afraid to come home."
"Tell him to drop dead!", says Murphy's wife.
"I'll go tell him." says Gallagher.
Irish Nun Story: The 98 year-old Mother Superior lay dying in an Ireland convent. The nuns gathered around her bed trying to make her last hours comfortable. They gave her some warm milk to drink but she refused.
Then one of the nuns took the glass back to the kitchen. Remembering a bottle of Jameson's Irish whiskey received as a gift the previous Christmas, she opened it and poured a generous amount into the warm milk. Back at Mother Superior's bed, she held the glass to her lips. Mother drank a little, then a little more and before they knew it, she had consumed the whole glass.
"Mother," one nun asked earnestly, "Please give us some wisdom before you leave us."
The old nun raised herself up in bed and said, "Don't sell that cow!"
Irish Business Lesson: You'll find it here.
The Best Pub: Three Irishmen are sitting around in a tavern, debating which is the best pub.
The first says, "Aye, this is a nice bar, but where I come from, there's a better one. At MacDougal's, you buy a drink, then you buy another drink and then MacDougal himself will buy your third drink!"
The second then starts, "That sounds like a nice pub but, where I come from, there's a better one called Quinn's. At Quinn's, you buy a drink, Quinn buys you a drink. You buy another drink, Quinn buys you another drink."
Then the third pipes up, "You think that's good? Where I come from, there's this place called Murphy's. At Murphy's, they buy you your first drink, they buy you your second drink, they buy you your third drink and then, they take you in the back and get you laid!"
"Wow!" exclaim the other two. "That sounds fantastic! Did that actually happen to ye?"
"No," replies their friend, "But it happened to me sister!"
Irish Foreplay: "Brace yourself, Brigid."
An Irish Story … from Tom McMahon: When Alfie Byrne, Lord Mayor of Dublin, met Mae West in Hollywood she said "Come up and see me sometime." Alfie declined her offer, saying he couldn't because it was Lent. Not daunted, Mae just looked at him and purred, "Well, when you get it back, come up and see me sometime."
Happy St. Patrick's Day!!
Monday March 15, 2021
The Decline Of Gas Stations: You've probably noticed that there are far fewer gas stations than there used to be. They were once called service stations but today most of them offer little or no service - you pump your own gas (except in Oregon and New Jersey), clean your own windshield, check your oil yourself and pump up your tires, if needed.
These days, most gas stations have a convenience store where the wash and repair bays used to be. Until the late 1970s, auto repair was a good sideline for station owners. Cars needed frequent oil changes, chassis lubrication and engine tune-ups. Fixing flat tires was a brisk and steady trade until the advent of self-sealing tubeless tires. Many service stations also sold tires (as well as radiator hoses, fan belts and batteries) and some could even arrange for an engine or transmission rebuild through an affiliated local firm. Attendants and mechanics looked official with brand-centric work uniforms and caps - some were military-style.
Today's gas stations are of a similar generic design, with distinctive bright coloring to indicate the brand of fuel sold. In the 20th Century, starting in the 1930s through the 1960s, stations used eye-catching architecture to differentiate themselves from competitors. Some were shaped like teapots or jugs (there was a jug-shaped station which still dispensed fuel in 1980s Junction City, Oregon), and later some with tall lighted towers constructed of glass block.
Called programmatic architecture, these stations assumed the fanciful shape of animals, apples, tea kettles, tepees, windmills, castles, icebergs, and airplanes. Appealing to the curiosity of passing motorists, programmatic stations were inspired by local culture, distinctive local materials, or ... (more >>>)
One Hundred Eleven Grand Wagoneer: The new Jeep Grand Wagoneer is "a land yacht that tops out at $111,000 when fully loaded."
"The Grand Wagoneer, and its more affordable sibling the Wagoneer, are a shot across the bow at General Motors Co., whose Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon and glitzy Cadillac Escalade have helped it command more than 50% of the U.S. three-row SUV market for years. The Jeep SUVs will be available in dealerships this summer."
The Grand Wagoneer is bigger, pricier and heavier than the Caddy Escalade. It is powered by a 6.4-liter V8, making 471 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque and coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Delayed Gratification: It has been almost two months since I took a drive in my '39 Plymouth coupe. The primary reason is that the road leading past our development is being dug up and is partly closed during the week. This has been going on since mid-January with no end in sight (to the great displeasure of all who live in our development). On Saturday, the construction crews weren't working, so the road was open both ways, although it was rough going in spots.
At 12:30 pm, it was 55 degrees and mostly sunny with gorgeous pale blue skies. There was some traffic but I didn't care. I got a brief glimpse of snow-covered Mt. St. Helens to the north on my drive as well as the snow-capped Cascades to the east. There is much beginning bloom - a nice scenic mix. Spring is in the air.
It was a real treat to be behind the wheel, listening to the V8 rumble through the Glasspacks while 'The Joe Niagara Show: Cruisin' '57' blasted from the speakers. It made me feel like I was 16 again.
All in all, it was a most pleasant and much-missed drive in my old coupe. The Plymouth ran great. Life is good.
"That's A Cadillac?!" That was my wife's response when we were driving behind a white 2021 CT5 Cadillac recently. The rear taillights look very Asian - no more Caddy blade-style rear lamps. The geezer driving it was poking along at 15 mph below the speed limit, so I passed him with vigor. This alleged flagship sedan model doesn't look very distinctive from the side or the front. We were both unimpressed.
Old Friends: Recently, I was thumbing through a book and came across some information on old toys, including information on Manoil, a manufacturer of diecast toy vehicles. Memories came flooding back.
The first toy car I can remember was ... (more >>>)
Four-Star Fraud: The Infinity Q Diversified Alpha Fund, not a new Infiniti SUV model but a mutual fund with a high-ranking Morningstar 4-star rating and Gold rating, has ceased accepting money from and suspended redemptions by investors because its advisor has been cooking the books.
"James Velissaris, founder and CIO, apparently introduced an element of whimsy into calculations of the fund's NAV, assigning indefensible values to at least some of the fund holdings." The Chief Investment Officer of Infinity Q has been relieved of his duties.
Time To Defund The Conservative, Inc. Deep State: Donald Trump is now soliciting donations to the 'Save America PAC', which promises to support only real conservatives and oppose Mitch McConnell's RINOs.
Book Review: 'The Amazon Jungle: The Truth About Amazon, The Seller's Survival Guide for Thriving on the World's Most Perilous E-Commerce Marketplace' by Jason R. Boyce and Rick Cesari
Over the past 50+ years, I've probably read almost a thousand business books. I used to spend several days each month on the road; I often spent my evenings reading books about business. Many books are written by people who are business writers and consultants. When you buy one of their books, you're buying a few hours of their time for a modest price. If you paid for personal, one-on-one meetings with these people, you might spend thousands of dollars. If you attended one of their speeches or seminars, you still might pay hundreds of dollars and only get to hear them for an hour or so. That's why, in my opinion, their books are bargains.
These authors have put their hearts and souls into their books and filled them with valuable information. They provide recommendations and ideas which are based on their experience and expertise. Oh sure, I've read a few books which were not so hot, but I never read a business book that didn't have at least one idea I could use. If the book was a real stinker, I'd tear out and keep the page with the one good idea and throw the rest of the book away. And I'd put that idea to use.
That said, do not throw any parts of this book away. This short book - 212 pages - offers a ton of powerful and practical suggestions about ... (more >>>)
Keen Observation: Will Ricciardella wrote, "Let me get this straight: Troops loyal to Biden occupy DC. (With no end in sight.) Corporations are silencing dissent at behest of government. (Firing or punishing employees and vendors who exercise their free speech on their own time and dime.) The military continues to attack Tucker Carlson for his opinion. And Trump's a fascist?"
I don't think the Democrats realize how fascist they really are. And, President Trump was a strict constitutionalist and upholder of America's laws. But he made fun of Democrats and hurt their feelings - so, in their minds, he's the fascist.
More Segmented Editions Needed: NBC News now offers NBCBLK, described as "stories, issues and opinions from the African American perspective."
When will we get NBCMEX for Hispanics? Or NBCPAPE for Catholics? NBCPADDY for Irish? Or NBCDUM for idiots?
Happy Birthday, Dad: He would have turned 102 yesterday. I wish he were here today. If he was, I'd still be asking for his advice.
My wife and I toasted him at dinner last night.
Hidden Bank Fees: The Onion lists several that you may not have known about, including:
Too Bad He Didn't Have Auto-Reverse: Lou Ottens, the Dutch engineer credited with inventing the audio cassette, has died at age 94.
As head of product development for Philips in 1960, he led a team that developed the initial portable tape recorder; he then introduced the first cassette tape at a Berlin electronics fair three years later. The slogan back then: "Smaller than a pack of cigarettes!" Well, maybe Benson & Hedges.
Now he's been ejected. RIP.
Quote Of The Day is from Bennett Cerf: "The Detroit String Quartet played Brahms last night. Brahms lost."
Thursday March 11, 2021
Grand Opening: In November, 1964, Bob Brown took out full-page ads, proclaiming that he was the proud new owner of an Oldsmobile dealership at SE Grand Avenue and SE Yamhill Streets in Portland, Oregon.
By the mid-1970s, Bob Brown Oldsmobile had added Subarus to its showroom. The exterior was ... (more >>>)
February Vehicle Sales: The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported sales of 15.67 million SAAR (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate) in February 2021, down 5.7% from the January sales rate, and down 6.6% from February 2020.
Extremely bad weather in February caused the drop in sales, according to most automakers. Yeah, but there's extreme weather in the U.S. every February, isn't there? And with all the global warming, there should be fewer snow storms, right?
Hyundai reported a sales drop of 9%; Kia sales fell 8%.Toyota sales declined 6%. Lexus sales increased 1%.
Ford sales dipped 14% in February, although it enjoyed best retail results in 20 years led by Bronco Sport, Mach-E and F-150. Volvo bucked overall trend posting 17% jump last month. Mazda reported its sales dropped 8% in February. American Honda reported sales of Honda and Acura vehicles fell 12% in February even though it set records for truck sales last month. Subaru sales also dropped 7%.
In Mexico, automobile production plummeted by nearly 29% in February to 238,869 vehicles, due in large part to weather-related power outages and the global microchip shortage.
Finally, A Book Review Is Published: In a typical year, I review 50-60 nonfiction books. This has been true since I began reviewing books almost 17 years ago. Last year, I only reviewed 40 books, because of pandemic-related publishing and release delays. In the first two-and one-half months of 2021, I've only reviewed two books. - one of them today. I expect to post two more reviews before the end of March.
Publishers have pushed back release dates for many new books, bookstores have been closed, book tours and festivals have been put on hold, and for a time, Amazon delayed shipment of books until recently to prioritize essential items, like cleaning supplies and food.
Not surprisingly, guidebooks and books about travel were hit particularly hard. I hope there will be more book releases as the pandemic ebbs.
Book Review: Corvette Stingray - The Mid-Engine Revolution
This just-published book lists Chevrolet as the author; it is a company-sponsored publication, with a foreword by General Motors president Mark Reuss. Don't let that scare you off - it is an honest book which reveals many of the trials and tribulations of trying to get a high-performance, mid-engined, reasonably-priced sports car to market.
It took 50-plus painful years to achieve and the book documents many of the pitfalls - the battles between Zora Arkus-Duntov and various Chevrolet managers and GM executives over the years, as well as the sidetracking caused by Ed Cole's fascination with the ill-fated Wankel rotary engine. (In the early '70s, I saw my first and only NSU Ro 80, the Wankel-engined, technologically-advanced German sedan parked in front of the General Motors Technical Center in Warren, MI.) Arkus-Duntov retired in 1975 at age 65 but he continued to consult for General Motors, after a brief fling with the ill-fated DeLorean automobile.
To keep the costs down, Chevy didn't use a supercar-like carbon fiber tub for the mid-engined Vette. Everything is made of aluminum (much of it high-pressure die cast), except ... (more >>>)
No Peugeot For You: Stellantis, formerly Fiat-Chrysler, has announced that Peugeot will not be returning to the U.S. The brand was sold in America from the 1950s through the early-1980s, but, being French-quirky and never a big seller here, will not be imported to America.
Instead, Stellantis' will focus "on growing Alfa's presence here." Good luck with that; Alfa only sold 18,294 vehicles here in 2020. "Despite the brand's relatively flat performance in a roller coaster 2020, prospects for the brand's future here have appeared bleak." Indeed.
My Rant Of The Month ... is about school buses at railroad crossings. Coming home from Portland, I must cross the tracks of the Columbia Basin Railroad at least three times.
This small railroad runs one lone train per week and the train travels at 5-10 miles-per-hour. Several years ago, every one of the three crossings had drop gates installed to meet a newly-enacted federal requirement.
Yet every #%&* school bus still stops at every #%&* crossing because of some stupid-ass law passed in 1912 or thereabouts. And, empty or not, they remain stopped for 20-50 seconds as traffic piles up and frustrations mount.
I don't understand this. I remember that, in my youth, buses stopped at RR crossings just long enough to open the doors and shift into first gear - about three seconds or so. The doors were opened while the vehicle was still moving and shut just after the bus was winding out in first gear - at 5 mph or so.
The current situation is exacerbated by the fact that we live one mile from a bus barn and we experience a long parade of buses every school day.
It is a colossal waste of time and it is not saving any lives or doing any good whatsoever. It just pisses off the poor souls stuck behind those huge yellow diesel smoke-spewing tortoises.
I'm so sick and tired of this crap that I'm thinking of running for President in 2024 with one lone item on my platform - the elimination of this moronic school bus law. I think there are enough other people who are angry about the tyranny of school buses that I might actually get elected. (permalink)
Blonde Joke: A young blonde woman was driving through the Florida Everglades while on vacation. She wanted to take home a pair of genuine alligator shoes in the worst way, but was very reluctant to pay the high prices the local vendors were asking.
After becoming very frustrated with the attitude of one of the shopkeepers, the young Blonde declared, "Well then, maybe I'll just go out and catch my own alligator and get a pair of shoes for free!"
The shopkeeper said with a sly smile, "Well, little lady, why don't you go on and give it a try?"
The blonde headed off to the swamp, determined to catch an alligator.
Later in the day, as the shopkeeper was driving home, he spotted the same young woman standing waist deep in the murky water, with a gun in her hand. As he brought his car to a stop, he saw a huge 9-foot gator swimming rapidly toward her. With lightning reflexes, the blonde took aim, shot the creature and hauled it up onto the slippery bank. Nearby were 7 more dead gators, all lying belly up.
The shopkeeper stood on the bank, watching in silent amazement. The blonde struggled mightily and managed to flip the gator onto its back. Rolling her eyes heavenward, she screamed in frustration: "Jeeeez! This one's barefoot, too."
Key Question: Roger Mudd, a longtime political correspondent and anchor for NBC and CBS has died at age 93 from complications of kidney failure.
His finest moment was when he interviewed Senator Edward Kennedy, who was running for president. Mudd asked why he wanted to be president. Ol' Teddy mumbled, stumbled and finally answered with a string of political cliché non-sequitors.
This Defining Moment killed the Kennedy presidential campaign in one fell swoop. RIP.
Housekeeping: I've updated my three-page Fifties History site; you'll find it here.
Question Of The Day is from Tom McMahon: "In the anti-universe do you put some money under your pillow whenever you need a new tooth?"
Tuesday March 9, 2021
Postal Ugly: I'm old enough to remember those 'safety cars' of yore - from the 1950s through '70s - designed and underwritten by the government or some insurance company. I don't know whether they were actually safe, but all of them had one thing in common: they were butt-ugly. This is why cars should be designed by car designers, not disinterested ... (more >>>)
Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen: My wife's Toyota Avalon Limited has turned 16 years-old. It now has just about 77,000 miles on the odometer and it runs and drives well. We ran it through the car wash this week and it still looks almost new. The leather seats are in great shape and none of the plastic trim has faded or discolored.
We generally keep vehicles a long time - 8 to 12 years and/or 80-100,000 miles, typically. Our record is 28 years and 156,000 miles on our ... (more >>>)
Don't Trust Tech: Dr. Simone Gold wrote, "Facebook just announced it "made a mistake" when it censored studies showing HCQ saved lives. Censorship is never "a mistake." Tech executives repeatedly made a calculated decision, month after month, silencing physicians worldwide. Censorship kills."
Facebook lied; people died. Why? Because President Donald Trump said something positive about HCQ (hydroxychloroquine) being effective in treating the China virus. And tech oligarchs wanted Trump gone.
The Truth About Shopping Bags: Plastic shopping bags are 200 times less damaging to the climate than cotton hold-alls favored by environmentalists.
"Unpublished Government research suggests the plastic carrier may not be an eco villain after all ... A draft report by the Environment Agency ... has found that ordinary high density polyethylene (HDPE) bags used by shops are actually greener than supposedly low impact choices."
The study found that a paper bag emits four times the carbon dioxide as a plastic bag. So to make up for choosing paper over plastic, you'd have to reuse your paper bags at least three times instead of just tossing them into the recycling.
Even worse, you'd have to use an eco-friendly cotton shopping bag 171 times before it could even counteract the negative environmental impact from its production.
Furthermore, researchers at the University of Arizona say that reusable grocery bags are teeming with fecal matter and bacteria, often more than a typical bathroom.
When plastic bags became popular in the 1970s, they were claimed to be far more ecologically sound than paper ones, since paper plants were producers of dioxin, a toxic chemical and suspected carcinogen used in paper manufacturing.
Then the focus turned to the alleged evils of polyethylene plastic bags. Now the worm has turned again.
Today Is National Meatball Day: To celebrate, I had a couple of them for dinner, accompanied by pasta. Yum.
Quote Of The Day: "Congressmen should wear uniforms like NASCAR drivers so we could identify their corporate sponsors."
Wednesday March 3, 2021
Stylish Sampan: A two-tone lavender-over-purple 1939 Plymouth-based Sampan bus can be seen fourth from left in this photo from 1951.
Sampans were open-air jitney-style buses based on passenger automobiles and could be found on the streets of Hilo, Hawaii from ... (more >>>)
Who's Buying A Bentley These Days? Bentley began the year with 50% more orders than the start of 2020 and built more luxury cars in January than the year before as China boosted demand, said CEO Adrian Hallmark. "China, by far, is the most outstanding performance in the world in respect of level of orders compared with normal expectations."
"The Volkswagen-owned brand said it had not faced major disruption from Britain's exit from the European Union nor from a shortage of semiconductor chips, which has forced some automakers to halt or reduce production." Bentley sold 11,206 vehicles worldwide in 2020; 2,895 of them found buyers in the U.S.
Paris Auction Results: RM Sotheby's livestreamed mid-February auction exceeded $11 million in total sales. Top seller was a recently-restored red 1971 Lamborghini Miura P400 SV; it fetched $2,918,800.
"Other top sellers were a 1993 Isdera Commendatore 112i, the only one of the Mercedes-Benz V12-powered gullwing cars ever built, that sold for $1,340,480, and a 1977 Lamborghini Countach LP400 Periscopio originally owned by rock star Rod Stewart, which brought $934,046."
Am I Blue? A friend recently asked me about blue-tinted auto glass. I have never seen any in a production car, probably because blue is not very good as an ultraviolet absorber and heat reflector.
Back in 1981 or so, a guy named Mark, from somewhere on the Oregon coast, approached my plastics manufacturing company, asking if we would produce tinted-blue Plexiglas windows and windshields for his custom car. The vehicle was a one-off fiberglass creature that he had designed and had built. It was a very impressive-looking, two-seater, mid-engined sports car. The auto was to be finished in metallic blue paint and he wanted to carry the blue theme into the windows.
Mark made the molds; we modified them so they'd work better and we did the heating and forming. All parts were complex, three-dimensional curvilinear shapes, even the side windows. A couple of months after we completed the work, he came back with photos of the finished car. Mark was very happy with our work, commenting that we were the only people on the West Coast willing to tackle the job. But we never saw the guy or the vehicle again.
Forty years later, I wonder where the car is now? (permalink)
Your Government At Waste: Randall O'Toole wrote, "Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg wants to make the United States the “global leader” in high-speed rail. That's like wanting to be the world leader in electric typewriters, rotary telephones, or steam locomotives, all technologies that were once revolutionary but are functionally obsolete today. High-speed trains, in particular, were rendered obsolete in 1958, when Boeing introduced the 707 jetliner, which was twice as fast as the fastest trains today."
Aside from speed, what makes high-speed rail obsolete is its high cost. "Unlike airlines, which don't require much infrastructure other than landing fields, high-speed trains require huge amounts of infrastructure that must be built and maintained to extremely precise standards. That's why airfares averaged just 14 cents per passenger-mile in 2019, whereas fares on Amtrak's high-speed Acela averaged more than 90 cents per passenger-mile."
Another Classmate Gone: Mike Harkins, a fellow member of St. Joe's Prep Class of 1961, has died, following a courageous fight with myelodysplastic syndromes. Mike was a fun guy to hang around with at the Prep. He had a great sense of humor and was an excellent athlete. Mike dominated in touch football at lunchtime - he played fiercely, could never seem to keep his shirt tucked in and often broke his glasses, which showed multiple makeshift repairs with Scotch Tape.
Michael J. Harkins, M.D. turned out to be a very talented ... (more >>>)
Ummm, Could I Get A Window Seat, Please? ... (more >>>)
In Control: James Lileks has previously complained about overly-complex remote controls: "Today's remotes have more buttons than a Prussian lancer's dress uniform! Why, in my day remotes were the size of heirloom Bibles, and they had one button: on!"
I first saw a remote control in 1960 at the home of my friend Marty Hayes in Northeast Philadelphia. His dad was a well-to-do psychiatrist and the family always had the latest cars and gadgets.
Including an Admiral color television with a Son-R (sonar) remote control.
The handheld controller, with gold-tone finish and ivory buttons, could turn the television off or on, change any of the three available channels and adjust the volume to four different settings.
As creative, mischievous teenagers, we quickly found that a brass-finish, fabricated wire LP record album holder could, if the album separators were 'strummed' properly, create the sound necessary to change the channel and would override the signal from the Son-R.
We used this scientific discovery to torment Marty's younger sister whenever she had control of the remote. "Mom! Tell them to stop strumming the record rack! They're driving me nuts!" (permalink)
Quote Of The Day is from Steven Wright: "I used to work in a fire hydrant factory. You couldn't park anywhere near the place."
Monday March 1, 2021
There's Something About '50s Cadillacs: Whatever it is, I have always found these cars very attractive.
Last year, I posted ... (more >>>)
Doesn't Jaguar Make Another New Turnaround Plan Every Year? As part of an aggressive turnaround plan, Jaguar has now committed to making its entire product line electric by 2025, while its Land Rover stablemate will follow. The first battery-electric Land Rover will debut as a 2024 model, to be followed by five more in rapid fire within two years.
Jaguar Land Rover CEO Thierry Bolloré "admitted the company was likely to sacrifice volume for profit on the journey to a zero-emission target of 2039 for the two premium brands, and zero tailpipe emissions by 2036."
Jaguar sold only 21,786 vehicles in the U.S. last year, a decline of 30% from 2019. In 1999, Jaguar sold 35,039 cars. At the time, only three modes were offered: the large XJ sedan, the smaller S-Type sedan and the XK sports/grand touring coupe and convertible. Today, Jaguar offers more models but significantly lower sales.
The 21st Century question remains unresolved - what is a Jaguar anyway? I'm not sure anyone in the company knows the answer. But I don't think the answer should be 'just another electrified car' ... (more >>>)
The Truth About Microchips: It's a well-known fact that automakers treat suppliers like crap. They are very demanding, slow-pay and prone to cancel contracts when business slumps.
The semiconductor market is big and broad and many chipmakers have decided they don't need the hassle of dealing with car companies. "The car sector has been used to the fact that the whole supply chain is centered around cars," said McKinsey partner Ondrej Burkacky. "What has been overlooked is that semiconductor makers actually do have an alternative."
Smartphones, video games and other consumer electronics applications require more sophisticated chips than automotive semiconductor applications and that means higher prices and more profit for chipmakers. The auto industry spends around $40 billion a year on chips - about ... (more >>>)
Fell Off A Cliff: Worldwide sales of Aston Martin plunged 32% in 2020 to only 4,150 vehicles. The company blames the pandemic.
The firm's annual revenue in 2020 declined to $863 million and the company suffered an operating loss of $455 million. In order to break-even last year, the company would have been forced to raise prices by almost 53% - an unsustainable amount.
Trump At CPAC: Great speech. Best line, as he was discussing Biden's incompetence, "In just one short month, we have gone from America first to America last." Big applause line (one of many): "The only reason that (kids are not back in school) is because Joe Biden sold out America's children to the teachers' unions."
By the way, Mr. Biden, where's that State of the Union address? Oh, wait. I guess Trump just gave it.
Trouble Ahead? The economy shrank 3.2% last year and the S&P 500 grew by 16%.Don Surber wrote, "There also is a derelict in the Oval Office who is letting the government run the government. The economy is in trouble with a capital T, and that rhymes with D and that stands for depression."
Remembering Larry Ferrari: People of a certain age, who grew up in the Greater Delaware Valley, will recall talented organist Larry Ferrari. The Larry Ferrari Show from 1954 to 1997 on WFIL (later WPVI) in Philadelphia, a weekly Sunday morning half-hour television program of organ music.
He played ... (more >>>)
Bad Pun Of The Day: What do you call a fish with no eyes? Answer: A fsh.
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