The View Through The Windshield - Car Blog by Joe Sherlock

A Blog About Cars ... And More

Friday April 30, 2021

AutoSketch: 1957 Ford Thunderbird - Fun For Two

Depending which story you hear, the two-seat Thunderbird was inspired either by the Jaguar XK120 and other European sports cars being imported in ever-increasing numbers or by the 1953 Chevrolet Corvette offered by rival General Motors. Probably it was a bit of both.

In any case, styling VP George Walker ordered designer Frank Hershey and his team to come up with a two-seater with styling easily recognizable as a Ford. Work commenced in early 1953. A prototype '55 Thunderbird was unveiled to the public at the Detroit Auto Show on February 20, 1954.

The Thunderbird entered production for the 1955 model year as a ... (more >>>)

Convergence: Many car pundits have bemoaned the fact that there are too many car models today. I agree. But it's not just because of badge engineering. I think the larger problem is that too many models are converging toward a single size.

Big cars are shrinking. Small cars are getting bigger. Consider this ... (more >>>)

Apple Has Announced $430 Billion In U.S. Investments. Don Surber wrote, "Say thank you to President Donald John Trump. His cut in the capital gains tax and his discount on repatriating capital gains from overseas made this possible."

"Apple had initially set a five-year goal of $350 billion back in 2018 but its contributions over the last three years have outpaced the expectations so now the firm has increased its commitment by 20% over the next five years. In terms of results, Apple hopes the money will help it build next-generation silicon and propel 5G innovation."

"Mortified by the potential loss of jobs in Red China, Democrats are working overtime to raise the capital gains tax to what it was in the ancient times B.T. (Before Trump) and weaken our economy again."

John Kerry Is A Rich Fool And A Traitor: Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif claimed in leaked audio that then-U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry informed him of more than 200 Israeli operations in Syria. Kerry has previously been accused of colluding with Iranian leaders to undermine the Trump administration.

Kerry is now a part of the Biden administration and has a seat on the National Security Council as the special presidential envoy for climate.

Kerry shocked Zarif by revealing that Israel had attacked Iranian targets in Syria more than 200 times, according to leaked audio obtained by The New York Times and other outlets.

Kerry has, of course, denied the charge.

The State Department says that the information Kerry divulged was actually public knowledge. If it was public knowledge, how come Zarif made such a big deal of it on the audio.

John Kerry has made a career out of violating the Logan Act.

Let the investigations roll. Let Kerry be purged from government. And perp-walked to a federal lock-up.

Geezer Joke: A couple in their nineties are both having problems remembering things. During a checkup, the doctor tells them that they're physically okay, but they might want to start writing things down to help them remember.
Later that night, while watching TV, the old man gets up from his chair. "Want anything while I'm in the kitchen?" he asks. "Will you get me a bowl of ice cream?" "Sure." "Don't you think you should write it down so you can remember it?" she asks. "No, I can remember it." "Well, I'd like some strawberries on top, too. Maybe you should write it down, so's not to forget it?" He says, "I can remember that. You want a bowl of ice cream with strawberries." "I'd also like whipped cream. I'm certain you'll forget that, write it down?" she asks.

Irritated, he says, "I don't need to write it down, I can remember it! Ice cream with strawberries and whipped cream - I got it, for goodness sake!" Then he toddles into the kitchen.

After about 20 minutes, the man returns from the kitchen and hands his wife a plate of bacon and eggs. She stares at the plate for a moment, then asks angrily, "Where the hell is my toast?"

Not What You'd Expect: Doesn't it seem odd that a singer named Jackson Browne is a white dude?

Quote Of The Day is from James Lileks on service windows/counters/stations at the Dept. of Motor Vehicles: "They should never, ever build more windows than they need. Or rather they should hide the ones not in service, because you sit there looking at the empty windows, imagining public servants in the back working on a box of Krispy Kremes like vultures on a dead water buffalo, and you begin to fume."

Wednesday April 28, 2021

Never Saw One Before: A black 1958 Edsel hearse:

I've added this to my 1958 Edsel page.

Where's The Juice? Toyota, arguably the world's largest automaker, has said that the world is not ready to support a fully electric auto fleet.

Toyota's head of energy and environmental research Robert Wimmer testified before the Senate and said: "If we are to make dramatic progress in electrification, it will require overcoming tremendous challenges, including refueling infrastructure, battery availability, consumer acceptance, and affordability."

Bryan Preston wrote, "Toyota warns that the grid and infrastructure simply aren't there to support the electrification of the private car fleet. A 2017 U.S. government study found that we would need about 8,500 strategically-placed charge stations to support a fleet of just 7 million electric cars. That's about six times the current number of electric cars but no one is talking about supporting just 7 million cars. We should be talking about powering about 300 million within the next 20 years, if all manufacturers follow GM and stop making ICE cars.

Simply put, we're gonna need a bigger energy boat to deal with connecting all those cars to the power grids. A lot bigger."

"Toyota has publicly warned about this twice, while its smaller rival GM is pushing to go electric. GM may be virtue signaling to win favor with those in power in California and Washington and in the media. Toyota's addressing reality and its record is evidence that it deserves to be heard.

Toyota isn't saying none of this can be done, by the way. It's just saying that so far, the conversation isn't anywhere near serious enough to get things done."

Randal O'Toole added that "some people have predicted that, without any additional subsidies, 95% of vehicles will be electric by 2030. However, that seems optimistic considering we don't have the electric power capacity to support such a transition, much less a renewable electric power capacity, which means that Biden's subsidies ($174 billion to support electric vehicle manufacturers) could cause more problems than they solve."

Happy Birthday ... to my favorite aunt and godmother, Aunt Ceil, who would have turned 105 today.

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 vehicles. Memories came flooding back.

The first toy car I can remember was a Manoil wrecker - a ... (more >>>)

New And Improved: I've updated a number of pages recently, adding information and/or photos.

Revised AutoSketch pages include 1947 Lincoln Continental, 1950 Studebaker, 1951 GM Le Sabre concept car, 1953 Cadillac Le Mans two-seater concept car, 1955 Lincoln Futura, 1956 Cadillac, 1956 Chevrolet, 1956 Ford, 1957 Mercury, 1957 Plymouth, 1958 Edsel, 1959 Cadillac and Topper's Car. I also updated the History of Oldsmobile web page.

I also revised the 1960 Philadelphia Auto Show page, Willow Grove Amusement Park posting, as well as our 2003 Colorado trip which has lots of car and train photos. In addition, the Railroad History page has been updated, as has the American Graffiti - Philadelphia-Style page

Updated people pages include Annette Funicello and Les Paul.

Book Review: 'Ticking Clock: Behind the Scenes at 60 Minutes' by Ira Rosen

Former '60 Minutes' producer Ira Rosen reveals lots of behind-the-scenes stories about the people and the show. The book is gossipy and interesting and provides plenty of proof about everything that you suspected is wrong with the liberal U.S. media.

In a recent interview ... (more >>>)

He's Absolutely Correct: Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò said an upcoming global health conference at the Vatican - with guests such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, Deepak Chopra and Chelsea Clinton - constitutes "the umpteenth scandalous confirmation" of Pope Francis leading the Catholic Church astray. A new op-ed by the Catholic Church's former Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S. blasts the pope and his allies within the Church for betraying the faithful by cozying up to "representatives of Big Tech… a whole slew of abortionists, Malthusians, and globalists known to the general public."

"The Holy See has deliberately renounced the supernatural mission of the Church, making itself the servant of the New World Order and Masonic globalism in an antichristic counter-magisterium," the archbishop wrote.

'Visualize World Peace': Laura W. at Ace likes the bumper sticker, not the philosophy. "Mainly because I visualize World Peace as a vast lifeless wreckage, the ironic result of the U.S. finally deciding we can't share the planet with genocidal assholes anymore."

Clap?! They Ought To Rename It 'Atlas'! Pound-for-pound, gonorrhea is the strongest creature alive. The gonorrhea bacterium "can pull with a force equal to 100,000 times their body weight as though a human could drag 10 million kilos."

Thought For Today: The best thing about the good old days was that I wasn't good and I wasn't old.

Monday April 26, 2021

Seventies Ugly: The Truth About Cars published one of its Rare Rides reports on the 1975 Jensen GT.

Only 511 Jensen GTs were produced before the company went bankrupt and production ceased in 1976.

The front-end of the Jensen is the poster child for what was wrong with 1970s car designs. Beginning with the ... (more >>>)

Not Happening: 2021 Tokyo motor show was been canceled for first time in 67 years, thanks to a surge in cases of the Wuhan Flu in Japan.

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda, who also serves as chairman of events at the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, said, "We've concluded that it will be difficult to offer our main programs where many visitors get to experience attractive features of mobility in a safe environment."

The biennial event - typically one of the largest of its kind globally - has until now always gone ahead as scheduled. However, a surge in covid infections in Japan is causing concern, with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said to be considering declaring a state of emergency in cities including Tokyo and Osaka. I posted my thoughts on the future of auto shows here.

The Tokyo motor show's cancellation comes just three months before Japan is set to host the Olympics, which have already been pushed back by a year.

Earth-Friendly Toys: Matchbox, iconic manufacturer of toy and model cars, is beginning to produce environment-friendly models. A Tesla model features window glass, chassis, wheels and interior made from 37% recycled plastic. The body is produced from 62% recycled zinc.

Outer packaging is old-time printed, cardboard boxes, similar to the Matchbox offerings in the 1960s - no blister packs or plastic windows. Boxes have protective liner trays containing "70% biomass from potatoes and is therefore compositable at home or by local food recycling centers."

Once an iconic British brand, Matchbox is ... (more >>>)

April 2021 Virus Update: Clark County had 1,574 new cases this month, up 89% from the same period last month. Yet, only 23 people were hospitalized this month - the same as in March. And, the mortality rate for April has dropped to 0.8%. I have updated the monthly table here.

In the past month, bi-weekly new case rates in Clark County have increased from 888 cases/million to 1,476/million - a jump of 66%. Despite a dramatic decline in new Clark County deaths and relatively low hospitalizations, over the past month, local, regional and national news reports remain full of hysteria and misinformation.

There are still ... (more >>>)

No Wonder They're Doing Such A Crappy Job Of Delivering Mail: The law enforcement arm of the U.S. Postal Service has been quietly running a program that tracks and collects Americans' social media posts, including those about planned protests.

"The details of the surveillance effort, known as iCOP, or Internet Covert Operations Program, have not previously been made public. The work involves having analysts trawl through social media sites to look for what the document describes as inflammatory postings and then sharing that information across government agencies."

Sounds like something the commies would do.

Pair Of Luftwaffe Bombers Spotted: During a night out at the opera, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's breasts prepared to burst out of her dress and invade Poland:

Church Stats: A recent issue of Northwest Catholic magazine provided information on its Catholic community. The focus is on western Washington; eastern Washington is served by the Diocese of Spokane.

Washington state has a population of 7,170,351. 78% of the population ... (more >>>)

Wishing You A Soft And Salty Day: Today is National Philly Soft Pretzel Day.

Soft pretzels are a Philadelphia institution and pretzel carts were a familiar sight when I was growing up. In Philly, an estimated 300,000 soft pretzels are consumed daily ... (more >>>)

We're Living In Interesting Times: Caitlyn Jenner is running for governor of California. Therefore, Californians are going to recall Gavin Newsom - a governor who acts like a girl - and vote in a man who thinks he's a girl.

And if you don't like it, you're a transphobic Hitler. In any case, you have to admit that Caitlyn Jenner running for Governor takes balls.

Quote Of The Day is from Rita Rudner: "I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult."

Thursday April 22, 2021

Range Less Than Advertised: British auto writer Neil Winton recently drove the Jaguar iPace battery-electric crossover. He observed, "As soon as an electric car gets close to highway cruising speeds the available range disappears at an alarming rate. The I-Pace for instance has an effective motorway range of only 125 miles, despite its claim for 292 miles overall. I couldn't get more than 253 miles from my home charger. Knock off the recommended 20% to avoid long-term battery damage, that leaves about 200 miles. At European normal highway cruising speeds – often 130 km/h or 80 mph in Europe, slightly less in Britain - the I-Pace delivers about 73.25% of the promised range according to my test, so that leaves around 150 miles. A sensible driver would start looking for a charge point with say 50 miles left, so deduct 25 to be generous, leaving 125/130. My recent time with a Polestar 2 showed it had only about 90 miles of effective range and shed promised miles at about 41% of the claimed available rate."

Neil concluded by asking ... (more >>>)

All-Electric Toyota: Toyota has unveiled the bZ4X, the company's first electric car. It will be offered on a large scale across the globe beginning in the middle of next year.

It's also the first production vehicle to use the new e-TNGA electric car platform, which will underpin additional Toyotas as well as Subarus.

The e-TNGA platform was co-developed with Subaru, and as such this bZ4X crossover features all-wheel drive.

It Looks Like A Genesis To Me: The Lincoln Zephyr sedan has been revived but it's only for sale in China.

Nothing to see here.

The Truth About Tires: As I look through 'All-American Ads of the '50s' (I'm rereading some of my old books), I find that there are several ads devoted to 'foundation garments' - ladies' girdles, corsets and the like. Those rubberized things had pretty much disappeared by the late 1960s.

Feminist writers claim that the demise of these garments was due to the liberation of women in the 1960s. Conspiracy-theorist that I am, I wish to point out that the rate of decline of foundation garment sales in the 1960s exactly equaled the rate of increase in radial tire usage on cars. I believe ... (more >>>)

Remember Yellow? Once upon a time, stop signs were yellow, not red. Yellow signs were the norm when I was a youngster in Philadelphia.

There were numerous colors used for stop signs until 1924, when yellow was standardized as the background color for maximum day and night visibility. Signs were either painted or enameled back in those days and red signs had almost no reflectivity, making them very dark and virtually invisible at night.

Some stop signs were crafted from painted wood; others were tin. The most durable ones were made of heat-fired porcelain enamel applied to a steel backing. Some signs also had ... (more >>>)

Behind The Scenes At The Deep State: Roger Kimball recently wrote, "The Deep-State-Harris-Biden compact has not only presented us with a situation in which the velocity of change has been turned up to 11; it has also presented us with a situation in which the proposed depth of change is far more radical than anything contemplated in “normal” American politics before.

All the talk about 'equity', about 'systemic racism', about a new regime of 'Jim Crow' is aimed directly at the integrity of the American system of government, based as it is on the sanctity of individual liberty and equality before the law.

It also reveals a deep and scary cynicism whose ultimate criterion is simply this: the acquisition and exercise of raw power. That is perhaps the most sobering lesson in this latest chapter of the American saga: No matter how low you thought, it wasn't low enough. There is no ideal that won't be trashed and inverted in order to advance the agenda of that power, no rhetoric that won't be cynically deployed and emptied of meaning."

Roger concluded, "You though you understood how bankrupt and cynical the game of politics was. It turns out you didn't know the half of it."

Rioters Still Own Portland: Last week, a group of protesters marched through downtown Portland last Friday night, lighting fires, smashing windows and causing other various damage.

Someone also fired several gunshots from a car traveling a block away from the protest crowd. No one was hurt. Portland police declared the demonstration a riot, marking the third time in five days the bureau had made such an announcement. Multiple protesters were arrested. Protestors marched from Director Park through downtown, breaking windows at locations including the Nike store near Pioneer Courthouse Square, the Oregon Historical Society, a Verizon business and a bank. They arrived at the Multnomah County Justice Center and adjacent federal courthouse soon thereafter. Some protesters dismantled pedestrian traffic signals at Southwest Fourth Avenue and Salmon Street shortly before 11:00 pm and threw them into the intersection. A bonfire was lit at the intersection, and a dumpster fire was set nearby.

Shortly before midnight, protesters overturned plastic barriers filled with water outside the Apple store. The water doused the street around the dumpster fire.

Some in the group appeared to try to break into Pioneer Place. And antifa protesters lit portable toilets ablaze near an Apple store and set the store ablaze, causing significant damage.

One wonders if this Portland mess will ever end.

Today Is Earth Day: It's also known by its nickname 'Kwanzaa for White Liberals'.

Remember what the late George Carlin said about this Bullshit Made-Up Holiday, "The planet will be here for a long, long, long time after we're gone, and it will heal itself; it will cleanse itself, because that's what it does. It's a self-correcting system. The air and the water will recover; the earth will be renewed and, if it's true that plastic is not degradable, well, the planet will simply incorporate plastic into a new paradigm: the Earth plus plastic!

The Earth doesn't share our prejudice towards plastic. Plastic came out of the Earth. The Earth probably sees plastic as just another one of its children. Could be the only reason the Earth allowed us to be spawned from it in the first place. It wanted plastic for itself. Didn't know how to make it. Needed us. Could be the answer to our age-old philosophical question, "Why are we here?" "Plastic!""

Screw you, Gaia.

I continue to try and keep the ozone levels in spec - thinner than a heroin-abusing French fashion model knocking back an Ultra Slim-Fast shake, spiked with an emetic - by taking drives in my pollution-spewing 1939 Plymouth coupe whenever I can.

Last week's heart surgery prevents me from taking my usual old car drive on Earth Day because I'm restricted to the weight I can pull with my right hand and the Plymouth has a small steering wheel and no power steering.

But I'm with all car guys in spirit.

Never Mind. On this Earth Day, I am fondly reminded of Gilda Radner's Emily Latella (on SNL) - who might have said: "What's all this I hear about 'greenhouse gas'? Can't people just hold it in until they go back outside?"

Book Review: 'I'm Your Emotional Support Animal: Navigating Our All Woke, No Joke Culture' by Adam Carolla

Mr. Carolla was once the cohost of the politically-incorrect 'The Man Show'. It was a very funny and politically-incorrect show. After the show ended, Adam began doing podcasts, collecting race cars and writing books.

I enjoyed his first book, 'In Fifty Years, We'll All Be Chicks'. His second book, 'Not Taco Bell Material', was not as good. His third book, 'President Me: The America That's In My Head', was enjoyable but more profane. His next tome, 'Daddy Stop Talking!: And Other Things My Kids Want But Won't Be Getting', was a real stinker. I wrote, "Bookwise, Adam Carolla has jumped the shark. There's nothing insightful here and laughs are infrequent. … Don't waste your time."

I was hopeful that his latest book, I'm Your Emotional Support Animal', would be a return to greatness. It isn't.

When I worked at ... (more >>>)

Quote Of The Day is from Lawrence Fox: "I am bored of the daily racism meted out at people who happen to have been born with white skin in this country. Immutable characteristics are just that. Immutable. White privilege is pure racism and I will continue to call direct racism out. We are one human race."

Tuesday April 20, 2021

A Century Of Car Parts: Pep Boys, the legendary retailer of auto parts and accessories, will turn 100 this year.

Whenever I think of Pep Boys, I recall its old house brands - Cornell Tires, Cadet batteries, Pure-as-Gold motor oil, Varsity auto accessories and Dur-Alloy mufflers. Pep Boys started in Philadelphia in August 1921 when some Navy buddies chipped in $200 apiece to open a single auto parts store. They dubbed it Pep Auto Supply Company after noticing a shipment of Pep Valve grinding compound on the shelves.

By the way, Manny, Moe and Jack were real-life people - the founders of Pep Boys. The original ... (more >>>)

Electric Luxury: The new all-electric 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS flagship sedan made its debut last week. Considered to be an electric version of the S-Class - although it rides on a completely different platform and has unique styling - the big sedan offers up to 516 horsepower, will do 0-60 in 4.1 seconds and has a top speed of 130 mph. "The EQS will become the first ground-up, all-electric Mercedes-Benz sold in the United States."

"The 2022 EQS will compete with the Porsche Taycan, Tesla Model S, Audi E-Tron GT and the (forthcoming) Lucid Air when it goes on sale in the U.S. in fall 2021."

Tesla Lukewarm In Deutschland: Germany is a hot market for battery electric vehicles. "Driven by stringent EU regulations, and juiced by generous incentives, Germany's share of Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) has grown to 10% in the first quarter of 2021 … Tesla, the Californian carmaker that was supposed to up-end the traditional auto industry, reached only a 9% first-quarter market share in the booming German BEV market."

Volkswagen Group is dominating the German BEV market with a share of 34%, Surprisingly, and often overlooked, Volkswagen is followed by Hyundai/Kia with a 12% BEV share.

Signs Of The Times: I've been looking at old photos of Philadelphia and have been amazed by some of the signage I've seen ... (more >>>)

Is It 'Fly United', Or Will It Be 'Die United'? At least half of the 5,000 students United Airlines hopes to train by the end of the decade "will be women and people of color." Currently, about 7% of United's pilots are women and 13% are people of color.

I don't want Quota Pilots. I want skilled professionals who prioritize my safety. I don't care about their sex, skin color or ethnicity. Just give me the best. Is that too much to ask?

PS: We quit flying United Airlines in 2003. (permalink)

USA! USA! On Monday, Ingenuity, the American robot helicopter, took its first flight on Mars. This is the first time an aircraft has flown on another planet. Ingenuity carries a piece of fabric from the wing of the Wright Brothers' plane that flew at Kitty Hawk in 1903.

Need Better Flashlight: I continue to get spam e-mails for tactical flashlights. When is someone going to invent a strategic flashlight to guide you through life's decisions, shining the light on opportunities and identifying pitfalls? That's what's really needed.

You Can't Keep A Good Man - Or A Bad Burrito - Down: In late March, Gerard Van der Luen of the very active blog, American Digest had cataract surgery. You'd never have known it, because the frequency of his posts never seemed to diminish. American Digest is a daily read for me and I wish Gerard a speedy and full recovery.

In related news, last Friday I had some work done on my heart. I think of myself as a generally good-hearted guy with a bum ticker. I had four more stents (Boston Scientific brand) installed at and near the junction of the left coronary artery and circumflex artery. It was a day-surgery - in at 6:00 am, out at 3:15 pm - and I am recovering at home. The arterial stents were inserted surgically via my right wrist. It was much less invasive than ... (more >>>)

Thought For Today: You can't take it with you; that's why hearses don't have luggage racks.

Friday April 16, 2021

Roller Record: Following news that sales had fallen 26% in 2020, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd. has announced that the first quarter of 2021 went much better.

So far this year, Rolls-Royce has sold the most vehicles in the marque's 116-year history, up 62% from the same period in 2020. The number of vehicles delivered globally, 1,380, also exceeds the brand's previous record, set in 2019—and sets up the automaker for a bullish year in 2021.

Sales expanded the most in China - a big market for expensive vehicles. China will become Lamborghini's second-biggest market by the end of this year. Bentley sales in the country doubled in 2020.

"But it was in a lesser market in the U.S. where Rolls-Royce got its most surprising boost: Sales in Florida were up 40% from the first quarter of 2020. … The movement bears witness to the Covid-related migration of wealthy buyers to secondary markets such as Florida and Texas, where Austin has become the so-called Silicon Valley of the Southwest. Rolls-Royce released its Ghost sedan there in 2020 and saw sales increase there by double digits in the first quarter this year. The growth was pushed specifically by sales of the Cullinan SUV and the new Ghost."

Diecast With A Sentimental Story: I have dark blue 1:43 scale diecast model of a 1934 Ford van with Guinness markings on each side produced by Eligor, a French model car company.

I keep it in my office because it reminds ... (more >>>)

Auto Evolution: Dramatic changes in car styling have disappeared as the basic machine has evolved ... (more >>>)

Not Surprising To Me: According to a very recent Gallup survey, 20 years ago, 71% of Democrats were members of a church. A decade later, in the Obama years, it fell to 60% and is now down to 46%. "That's the sharpest drop of any demographic group and a quite striking one. While religious affiliation has dropped across the board, the collapse among Democrats is striking. Meanwhile, the Californication of the West continues apace with membership in the West dropping from 57% to 38%." 66% of Republicans belong to a church.

"U.S. church membership was 73% when Gallup first measured it in 1937 and remained near 70% for the next six decades, before beginning a steady decline around the turn of the 21st century. … The decline in church membership is primarily a function of the increasing number of Americans who express no religious preference. Over the past two decades, the percentage of Americans who do not identify with any religion has grown from 8% in 1998-2000 to 13% in 2008-2010 and 21% over the past three years."

"To The Moon, Alice!" Joe Biden is asking for money to send "people of color" to the moon. He probably hasn't watched the 2004 mocumentary, 'The Old Negro Space Program', a ten-minute film produced and directed by Andy Bobrow.

Wikipedia summarized it thusly: "Using spaceships cobbled together from old rocket engines, landing capsules, a school bus, and a used Cadillac, NASSA quickly becomes a major player in the space race. Its members farm out across the country, barnstorming in small towns to raise money and becoming minor celebrities. … On September 31, 1966, Suitcase Jefferson and Louie Hayes land their rocket-powered Coupe de Ville on the surface of the Moon and return safely to Earth."

One of the reasons that the first moon landing looked as white as an Osmond family reunion was that, by 1969, most black people had Afros too big to fit inside the space helmets of the period. (permalink)

Doctor Fauci Exposed: Senator Rand Paul, who is also a physician, wrote, "Fauci continues to ignore 100 years of vaccine science. His only real theme is 'do what I say' even when it makes no sense. If you've recovered or been vaccinated – go about your life. Eat, drink, work, open the schools. Enough with the petty tyrants!"

Don't wear a mask. Wait, wear a mask. Better, wear two masks. Or three. Wash your hands a lot. Disinfect everything nonstop. Wait, never mind. Six-foot social distancing is science. Hang on, maybe not. How about three feet? Can I get a bid for four feet?

Doctor Fauci's "credibility took another nasty hit when his dire prediction that Texas would experience a spike in cases after reopening last month failed to materialize." Texans pay attention to Dr. Pepper, not Dr. Fauci, and their state is doing just fine.

Coincidence Or What? Ponzi-schemer Bernie Madoff died in prison this week. He was 82 years-old and died from renal failure. Madoff swindled people out of almost $65 billion.

Coinbase, a stock that invests in cryptocurrency, made its debut the very same day. Coinbase seems sketchy to me, as does the whole cryptoworld. Just like Bernie, its promises seem too good to be true.

Back in January, I wrote about Bitcoin, the most-well known cryptocurrency: "Bitcoin is a made-up internet currency that is backed by nothing, in the same way that 'Seinfeld' was a show about nothing. Crypto-experts say that it's stable because it is protected by blockchain, whatever that is. If you question blockchain, someone will probably tell you it's backed by brickrope. ... Bitcoin's price swings are more seismic than a high-rise penthouse in Indonesia."

As for Bernie, Ed Morrisey wrote that he donated mostly to Democrats. And most of his cheated clients were Democrats, too.

"Before his death in 2016, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner Eli Wiesel was another famous figure taken in by Madoff's criminal enterprise. And when the news hit, Wiesel didn't take the loss lightly. Describing Madoff as "one of the greatest scoundrels, thieves, liars, criminals," Wiesel and his wife, Marion, had lost their life savings of $12 million, along with $15 million from their nonprofit organization, Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity."

"Could I forgive him? No," Wiesel once said. "To forgive, first of all, would mean that he would come on his knees and ask for forgiveness. He wouldn't do that."

I May Be Nostradamus: I can't believe that I wrote this 10 years ago: "At first, many dismissed Trump's foray into politics as a lark - a rich man's diversion. But he is polling surprisingly well. Trump may turn out to be the anti-Obama that the GOP was hoping for. As Obama was to Bush, so Trump will be to Obama.

The Donald is saying things that are resonating with people. Make some popcorn and find a comfy chair. This is going to be fun to watch."

Eighty-One Years Ago ... the three-hole punch debuted in April, 1940.

Quote Of The Day is from Bennett Cerf: "Oratory is the art of making a loud noise sound like a deep thought."

Wednesday April 14, 2021

If You Buy A Bugatti, Your Wallet Pain Is Just Beginning: A new windshield for a Bugatti Chiron costs $60,000. Windshield wipers: $1,900 for a set of 2. Yearly fluid service - oil, filter, etc. $25,000. There are six drain plugs in the engine; most are inaccessible unless you remove major body panels.

Wheel rims 'expire' and must be replaced every 10,000 miles. Cost - $50,000 for a set of four. Every five years, the fuel tank must be replaced at a cost of $44,000. Five-year maintenance costs total $385,000. Insurance varies but is typically in the $50,000/year range.

The price of a new Chiron is around $4.1 million. (hat tip: Charlie B.)

Electrifying: Toyota will unveil its global electric vehicle - a crossover - at the Shanghai Auto Show on April 19th.

From the article: "Moving into the electric car segment is a surprising strategy for Toyota. Company boss Akio Toyoda candidly spoke out against the blanket gasoline bans that some governments (including Japan's) plan to implement in the coming years.

He said forcing the industry to go electric threatens to make car ownership "a flower on a high summit." And yet, even its Lexus division unveiled a concept to announce it is gradually going to adopt full electrification."

China Sales Gains: Ford sold 153,822 new vehicles in China in the first quarter, scoring for a 73% year-over-year gain and the automaker's fourth consecutive quarter of growth there. Locally-made SUV sales from its luxury Lincoln brand were up 324% for the quarter, while SUVs under the Blue Oval brand were up more than 100%.

SUV sales were led by the Ford Explorer, Escape and Edge. "Lincoln vehicle sales in the region rose 217% to more than 19,300 units". In the U.S., Lincoln sold 26,410 vehicles in the first quarter. "SUV sales of more than 17,300 made up the majority of sales. Ford reported that the locally-built Lincoln Corsair and Aviator accounted for three-quarters of overall Lincoln sales for the quarter. And the Lincoln Nautilus, which just launched in the first quarter, sold about 1,700 units and generated more than 4,000 orders."

General Motors "sold more than 780,000 vehicles in China in the first quarter, a 69% increase over the same quarter last year. GM - which sells more vehicles in China than anywhere else - attributed the rebound to the popularity of luxury and premium vehicles, midsize and large SUVs and multi-purpose vehicles." GM sels more vehicles in China than in the U.S.

GM sold 642,250 new vehicles in the U.S. in the first quarter, a 4% year-over-year improvement. Ford saw a fractional increase for the quarter, with 492,271 U.S. new-vehicle sales.

Moving Advertising: In Philadelphia (and many other cities), commercial advertising was placed on the inside and outside of trolley cars to provide an additional source of revenue for transit companies.

Here is a selection of exterior placards from 1940s and '50s Philadelphia street cars ... (more >>>)

They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To: Mark Steyn is displeased with the latest wokeness on Turner Classic Movies. "In order to watch 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' or 'Stagecoach 'or 'My Fair Lady' or 'Gunga Din' or 'Psycho', you first have to sit through a panel discussion from the hacks and mediocrities who have succeeded the great Robert Osborne as the face of the channel in which they explain what's "problematic" about the film. This is TCM utterly betraying its mission."

TCM put their explanation/disclaimer on 'Swing Time', a 1936 light comedy/musical starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Mark wrote that "the only thing that's "problematic" about 'Swing Time' is that our popular culture is so totally crapped out there is nobody in Hollywood today who could do what they did in that movie. No one could write the songs Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields turned in nothing flat; no one could routine them like Fred Astaire and his longterm choreographer Hermes Pan did; and no one could dance them like Astaire and Ginger Rogers did - even with CGI. And no one could hold all the elements together like RKO producer Pandro Berman did as merely one of a zillion balls he was juggling that week."

Full Of Hate: Appearing on 'Democracy Now' recently, Oregon governor Kate Brown (D) went on a bizarre tirade where she appeared to side with the violent rioters who ravaged Portland since last summer.

Brown shifted the blame to Donald Trump, vowed to use local law enforcement to "eradicate" Trump "forces," and seemingly sympathized with Michael Reinoehl, the antifa terrorist who murdered am unarmed Trump supporter in downtown Portland who later died in a shootout with the feds.

Predictably, Brown wants to investigate the feds, while refusing to condemn Reinhoehl's murderous actions.

I am appalled at such a display of contempt for a former president and his supporters. Imagine the reaction ... (more >>>)

Book Review: 'Elvis In Vegas: How the King Reinvented the Las Vegas Show' by Richard Zoglin

The blurb for this book proclaims: "The story of how Las Vegas saved Elvis and Elvis saved Las Vegas in the greatest musical comeback of all time." Don't believe it. Elvis' comeback was his 1968 television special, which led to his renewed interest in touring - in Las Vegas and elsewhere. And Las Vegas was "saved" by ... (more >>>)

Crash Ahead? Cathie Wood is the investment guru du jour and has dismissed the 'Buffett Indicator' which is flashing bright red. "The so-called Buffett indicator takes the total market capitalization of a country's publicly traded stocks and divides it by the latest quarterly GDP figure available.

Based on the Wilshire 5000 Total Market Index's current level of $43.3 trillion, and the latest estimate for fourth-quarter US GDP of $21.5 trillion, the yardstick has reached about 201%."

The US stock market peaked at 90% of national GDP in 1929. The market then crashed and "the US stock market plummeted almost 90% during the Great Depression."

Nevertheless, Ms. Wood has doubled down on her view that the Buffett indicator is relatively low and disruptive technologies justify its elevated level. Although she tempered them by remarking, "'This time is different' are dangerous words in forecasting markets."

Toothed Math: Aaron Hoover of U.C. Berkeley combined math and imagination to solve the problem of building a one-sided "Möbius gear." He rendered it and then output molds for it on a 3D printer, cast them, and assembled it.

Bad Pun Of The Day: A cargo ship full of blue paint hit a larger cargo ship full of red paint. The entire crew was reportedly marooned. (hat tip - Joe Sherlock III)

Monday April 12, 2021

2021 Consumer Reports Annual Auto Issue: 85 years ago, Consumer Reports began publishing car-testing results with a report on 22 models in the June 1936 issue. Each car in the group sold for under $800 ($12,550 in 2011 dollars).

CR deemed 17 of them acceptable, and judged the Ford V8 Standard and the Plymouth De Luxe to be Best Buys for their low prices and good performance. The Pontiac De Luxe 6 (tricky handling), Willys 77 (poor visibility and ride), and Auburn 654 (high price and rough engine) were rated Not Acceptable.

In 1936, Consumers Union couldn't afford to buy cars; staffers borrowed them from friends and family. Consumers Union began as a socialist organization in the 1930s and was once declared a subversive organization by the House Un-American Activities Committee. They still come off as a bunch of anti-capitalist lefties sometimes but Consumer Reports magazine remains the most comprehensive and believable of vehicle reliability surveys. This year's issue seemed to offer fewer data and more opinion than in prior years.

CR's database comes from ... (more >>>)

Sustainable Tires Of The Future: Michelin claims it will offer 100% sustainability in its tires by 2050. "As of 2020, 30% of the components that are used to produce a Michelin Group tire are made from "natural, recycled or otherwise sustainable raw materials." Which means 70% aren't."

The company hopes to use bio-sourced butadiene, a material used to produce synthetic rubber. Biomass from wood, rice husks, leaves, corn stalks and ... (more >>>)

Good Day Sunshine: Sunday was a fine day for an old car drive. The skies were bright blue with little puffy white clouds here and there and, by 2:00 pm, the temperature was 55 degrees, so I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and took it for a spin along the back roads of unincorporated Battle Ground.

Traffic was fairly light but I had a clear-as-a-bell view of he Eastern Cascades and Mt. St. Helens. The mountain had a large pointy cloud behind it making it look like a low-budget imitation of tall and craggy Mt. Hood. I had a good drive; by late-afternoon, the temperature reached 59, which is almost as fast as I drove the Plymouth on a deserted stretch of smooth road.

Two-Wheel Madness: I'm not against bicycles and used to ride one to work on occasion - in a striped bike lane on a 25 mph, lightly-traveled route. But I am appalled by what bicycling has become with self-indulgent morons "asserting their rights" and frequently exceeding these alleged rights on busy highways.

P.J. O'Rourke has taken on the madness of right-to-bike in a Wall Street Journal article. He has observed, "The bicycle is a parody of a wheeled vehicle - a donkey cart without the cart, where you do the work of the donkey. Although the technology necessary to build a bicycle has been around since ancient Egypt, bikes didn't appear until the 19th century. The reason it took mankind 5,000 years to get the idea for the bicycle is that it was a bad idea. The bicycle is the only method of conveyance worse than feet. You can walk up three flights of stairs carrying one end of a sofa. Try that on a bicycle."

As to the unproven claim put forth by progressives and clueless traffic 'experts', that bicycles somehow reduce city congestion, O'Rourke has responded, "You can't decrease traffic congestion by putting things in the way of traffic. Also, only a few bicycles are needed to take up as much space as my Chevrolet Suburban - just one if its rider is wobbling all over the place while trying to Tweet. And my Suburban seats eight. The answer to traffic congestion is lower taxes so that legions of baby boomers my age can afford to retire and stay home."

Why are bureaucrats pushing bicycling so much? P.J. has noted, "But maybe there's a darker side to bike-lane advocacy. Political activists of a certain ideological stripe want citizens to have a child-like dependence on government. And it's impossible to feel like a grown-up when you're on a bicycle if you aren't in the Tour de France. All but the most athletic among us get on and off a bicycle the way a toddler goes up and down stairs. Wearing bicycle shorts in public is more embarrassing than wearing Depends. Exchanging briefcases for backpacks takes us from the boardroom to the schoolyard. And it's hard to keep a straight face when talking to anyone in a Skittles-colored, Wiffle ball-slotted bike helmet that makes you look like Woody Woodpecker."

"This promotion of childishness in the electorate means that bike lanes are just the beginning. Soon we'll be making room on our city streets for scooter and skateboard lanes, Soapbox Derby lanes, pogo-stick lanes, lanes for Radio Flyer wagons (actually more practical than bicycles since you can carry a case of beer - if we're still allowed to drink beer), stilt lanes, three-legged-race lanes, lanes for skipping while playing the comb and wax paper, hopscotch lanes and Mother-May-I lanes with Mayor Bloomberg at the top of Lenox Hill shouting to the people on Park Avenue, 'Take three baby steps!'"

O'Rourke has proposed that bicyclists pony up commuting costs just like the rest of us. "Bicycle registration fees should be raised until they produce enough revenue to build and maintain new expressways so that drivers can avoid city streets clogged by bike lanes. Special rubber fittings should be made available so that bicycle riders can wear E-Z Pass transponders on their noses. And riders' license qualifications should be rigorous, requiring not only written exams and road tests but also bathroom scales. No one is to be allowed on a bicycle if the view he or she presents from behind causes the kind of hysterical laughter that stops traffic."

He concluded, "Bike lanes can become an acceptable part of the urban landscape, if bicycle riders are willing to pay their way. And if they pay enough, maybe we'll even give them a lift during the next snow storm."

Nam Et Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est: Latin may be the key to success. There is a substantial body of evidence that children who study Latin outperform their peers when it comes to reading, comprehension and vocabulary, as well as higher-order thinking such as computation, conceptualizing and problem solving.

Toby Young has written, "No doubt some people will persist in questioning the usefulness of Latin. For these skeptics I have a two-word answer: Mark Zuckerberg. The 26-year-old founder of Facebook studied Classics at Phillips Exeter Academy and listed Latin as one of the languages he spoke on his Harvard application. So keen is he on the subject, he once quoted lines from the Aeneid during a Facebook product conference and now regards Latin as one of the keys to his success. Just how successful is he? According to Forbes magazine, he's worth $6.9 billion. If that isn't a useful skill, I don't know what is."

For the record, I had four years of Latin in high school. I struggled to learn it but persisted. Ignis aurum probat, miseria fortes viros.

Buh-Bye: Author Michael Totten has packed up with his family, sold their house and moved out of Portland, OR.

He wrote, "Portland, Oregon, has been the most politically violent city in the United States since Donald Trump was elected in 2016. Just a few days after the result, a peaceful protest against the incoming president turned into a riot when anarchists broke off from the main group and rampaged through the Pearl District, a renovated SoHo-like neighborhood adjacent to downtown packed with art galleries, loft apartments, bookstores, and restaurants. Vandals used baseball bats and rocks to break cars, plate glass windows, bus shelters, electrical boxes, and anything else that looked smashable.

The election-night mayhem was not an attack against Republican voters. Donald Trump received a paltry 7.5% of the vote in that precinct. It was an assault on the urban middle class and bourgeois society itself, and it was perceived as such by most people who lived there." Antifa is not about Donald Trump; antifa is a poison that hates everything and wants to destroy society. The Portland riots have been and continue to be overwhelmingly dominated by BLM and antifa thugs, that is, Democrat consorts.

In related news ... (more >>>)

Joke Of The Day ... Q: How many actors does it take to screw in a light bulb? A: 10. One to go up the ladder and do the job and nine to stand around the ladder crying, "Hey, that should be me up there."

Thursday April 8, 2021

First-Quarter Vehicle Sales: Thanks to a strong March, first-quarter light vehicle sales rose over 8% to over 3.8 million vehicles. Sales increased 56% from March 2020 (sales collapsed in last March due to the China virus lockdowns). But sales numbers were held back by a global microchip scarcity that forced many companies to cut production.

As sales recover, the length of the new car loans is creeping up, according to a survey by TrueCar. More than 80% of new car shoppers use some sort of financing to pay for their new vehicle, the data showed. For many of the shoppers, a manageable monthly payment is critical. In fact, the TrueCar survey indicated 71% of the respondents said affordable monthly payments "were top priority as they prepare to purchase a new vehicle. … With the average price of a new vehicle now approaching $40,000, the extended loan terms are being used more and more to make purchasing a new vehicle work within a buyer's budget. Terms longer than 73 months now make up 30% of new vehicle loans."

General Motors' first-quarter U.S. sales rose 4% to 642,250 vehicles. Chevrolet sales up 8% to 463,913 vehicles, although Silverado sales fell 12% to 126,591 trucks. Cadillac sales increased 22% to 37,059 vehicles. Buick sales up by 35% to 45,754 units, largely thanks to the Encore GX. GMC sales increased 26% to 149,500 trucks.

Thanks to a post-lockdown March performance, Toyota finished Q1 21% ahead (517,017 units) year-over-year with luxury brand Lexus up 32% to 74,253 units. The Toyota RAV4's sales grew by 17%, and the Tacoma pickup's sales went up by 24%. Sales of the Lexus RX crossover - Lexus' most popular vehicle - were up 34%.

Ford reported a fractional increase in overall sales for the quarter (492,271 vehicles sold), emphasizing a strong resurgence of F-Series sales, which had been more tepid for much of 2020. F-Series sales increased 9% for the quarter to 203,797 trucks. Sales of Ford's electrified vehicles spiked 74% to nearly 26,000 in the first quarter of 2021, due to strong demand for the F-150 hybrid and the Mustang Mach-E. Lincoln sales increased 3% to 26,410 vehicles.

Stellantis (formerly Fiat-Chrysler) likewise checked in with some good news. The full-size Ram lineup got a 16% lift to 162,921 trucks. Chrysler sales increased to 39,734 - a 33% jump. Jeep sales rose 8% to 197,544 units. There were 25% more Jeep Wranglers sold this quarter compared to a year ago and 10% more Grand Cherokees. Dodge sales nosedived 28% to 63,991 vehicles. Only 815 Fiats found buyers in the first quarter, a decline of 8%. The 500X is now the only Fiat model sold in America. Alfa Romeo sales were 4,647 for the quarter, a 26% rise year-over year.

Honda made a dramatic improvement in Q1, finishing 14% ahead of the same quarter last year, with 309,203 units sold. The CR-V crossover up by 32%, while the Honda Pilot also grew 32%. Acura sales jumped a whopping 33% to 37,888 vehicles, mostly crossovers.

The Nissan brand sales rose nearly 15% to 266,481 vehicles in the quarter. Infiniti sales slumped by 26% to 19,071 vehicles. Hyundai's U.S. sales jumped about 40% to 182,604 vehicles while Kia sales rose a more 11% to 153,637 units. Genesis sales rocketed 108% to 8,231 vehicles.

Subaru had a healthy quarter, rebounding from slumping 2020 sales with a 23% increase to 160,426 units. Mazda reported a 16% upswing in sales for the quarter to 78,794 vehicles. Sales of the Miata and CX-30 crossover nearly doubled compared to the same period last year. Mitsubishi sales plunged 21% to only 28,231 cars and crossovers.

VW's numbers increased by 21% first-quarter, largely on the strong volume of the Tiguan and solid performances by both variants of the Atlas. Porsche sales picked up even more explosively, surging nearly 45% over 2020, to 17,360 vehicles. Volvo sales leaped 40% to 27,239 units. Mini sales rose 20% to 6,284 units.

BMW sales increased 15% to 71,480 vehicles. Sales of Mercedes-Benz were up 20% to 90,032 vehicles. Tesla's U.S. sales were estimated to be 66,000 electrics, an increase of 25%.

Cute, But Not A Game Changer: Dan Neil tested the $45,190 all-electric Volkswagen ID.4 crossover and called it "hot-from-the-oven, slightly underbaked strudel" and that it is "five years behind the comparable Tesla."

"The ID.4's touch-screen UX is a bit shambolic. The (optional) 12-inch center touch screen takes ages to boot up and can lag behind user inputs. It's not very pretty, either. The 'Car-Net' phone app - a Tesla-like remote interface with the car, accessing charging and climate functions - failed to talk to the car when I tried it several times. Displays respond at the speed of thought and their mobile IT is coded by the fiery finger of God."

The ID.4 is a five-seat, majority-steel anybody crossover hatchback, almost 5 inches shorter and 2 inches lower than a VW Tiguan. And it's heavy - 4600 pounds. The 201 hp two-wheel drive vehicle does 0 to 60 mph in a less than impressive 7.5 seconds and has a range of 250 miles on a charge.

Good Looks: The Genesis X coupe concept is gorgeous - inside and out - as are most of the production Genesis models. Joel Stocksdale of AutoBlog wrote, "Every new production model seems to be more elegant and muscular, whether its one of the brand's sedans or the new and surprisingly colorful GV70 crossover."

Why can't Cadillac and Lexus design good-looking cars like this?

Book Review: 'Dodge Viper: The Full Story of the World's first V10 Sports Car' by David Zatz

The Dodge Viper is a specialty sports car manufactured by Chrysler Corp. and its successor companies from 1992 through 2017, having taken a brief hiatus in 2007 and from 2010 to 2012. Over its lifetime, about 31,500 Vipers were produced. By comparison, Chevrolet often produces that many Corvettes in a single year.

The Viper was publicly unveiled in concept form at the January 1989 Detroit Auto Show. It was intended to be a basic no-bones roadster - a modern interpretation of the 1960s-era Shelby Cobra - and was powered by a large aluminum-block V10 engine. Public reaction was so strong that a business case was quickly developed to put the car into production. Using 'skunkworks' tactics, the production version was developed for a relatively low cost of $85 million. Customer deliveries began in early 1992.

The first generation Viper was ... (more >>>)

Hangover: The only major accident for Santa Fe Railroad's iconic Super Chief was on January 25, 1948 when locomotive number 19L lost its braking ability while preparing to depart Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal.

It crashed through a ... (more >>>)

Continuing Education: I learn something new almost every day, it seems. A big thank you to James Lileks, who taught me that the International Harvester logo is also a stylized head-on view of a tractor.

Clever Idea: The covered entrance to a subway trolley stop resembles an old trolley car. It is located at the 37th St. station in Philadelphia. Subway-surface trolleys run along that line. The cream-over-green color scheme resembles those of the old Philadelphia Transit Co. (PTC).

The station is located inside ... (more >>>)

Stop Whining! Yes, yes, we're all tired of the lockdowns and restrictions. But many of today's complainers are a bigger bunch of spoiled whiners and pussies than people were in 1982. (Or 1942, for that matter.)

I remember '82. Business conditions were abominable. Linn County Oregon had a 27% unemployment rate; the national rate was more than double what it is today. The Dow was at 800 or so. Mortgage rates on conventional 30-year loans were 16-18%, depending on where you lived.

Most people received 5 to 12 channels on their televisions, not 512. Relatively few people had the capability of recording programs for later viewing. In those days, you couldn't buy a vente frappachino on every street corner. Pet grooming salons were scarce. People drove around in miserable crapmobiles, like Chevettes, GM X-cars or Dodge Aires/Plymouth Reliant K-cars. Or coughing, rattly, diesel-powered Oldsmobiles and Cadillacs.

Thirty-nine years ago, there was no internet. (If you wanted trendy, colorful news, you picked up a copy of that brand-new newspaper, USA Today, which was mostly found in big city downtowns or hotel lobbies.) Not only did people not even have dial-up, many still had rotary dial phones. There were no cell phones. And there was one telephone company - Ma Bell (or one of her Little Bells). Long distance calls were expensive.

Today, people thirst for everything right away. Including water. That's why everyone carries personal water bottles. No one did that in 1982. If you were thirsty, you walked around until you found a water fountain. Or chewed gum. And no one died because they weren't properly "hydrated."

Speaking of death, twenty-six years ago, AIDs was a mysterious, untreatable disease. Scleroderma (systemic sclerosis) was a death sentence. There was no diagnostic lab test; confirmation of the disease was by autopsy. As was the case with many other chronic illnesses which can now be managed. Or cured. Thirty-nine years ago, organ transplants were relatively rare.

In 1982, people had real stuff to complain about.

Meanwhile Down At The Border: Joe Biden is detaining 18,000 illegal minors. Trump's peak number was just 2,600.

Make America Grate Again: Hunter Biden smoked parmesan cheese because he thought it looked like crack cocaine.

Joe Biden has said,  "I'm proud of my son" and that he's the "smartest guy I know." That's just plain scary.

Thought For Today: Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.

Tuesday April 6, 2021

Watch Where You're Walking: In a staged scene, an oblivious bookworm walks in front of a 1939 Plymouth.

He looks a bit like Burgess Meredith, perhaps because of the spats and umbrella, just like his Batman character, The Penguin. And Meredith played ... (more >>>)

Here Comes Spring: The flowers and heather are in bloom, our magnolia tree is budding and everything is turning green. Friday was a warmish, mostly sunny day, so at 1:00 pm, I fired up my '39 Plymouth business coupe and went for an old car drive. The temperature was 56 degrees and the eastern Cascades and Mt. St. Helens - both snow-capped - were readily visible.

Traffic was moderate and the only disruption was the very bumpy road section at the end of our development. The road had been a mess for months now and the road crews seem indifferent. After traversing the bumps at 5 mph, I had a nice Spring old car drive.

I rolled down the windows to get some fresh air and listen to the rumble of the Glasspacks as I rolled along. Good times.

All In For Batteries: Ford Motor Co. said its entire car lineup in Europe will be all-electric by 2030 as the U.S. automaker races to get ahead of CO2 emissions targets and looming bans in some countries on fossil fuel vehicles. It's 2023 model is reportedly one from the VW MEB electric platform.

"The carmaker said it will invest $1 billion over the next 30 months to convert its vehicle assembly plant in Cologne, Germany, to become the U.S. automaker's first electric vehicle facility in Europe. Ford said its first European-built, all-electric passenger vehicle will be produced at the facility from 2023 and is considering building a second model there." By 2026 it will have electric versions of all its passenger cars on sale in Europe and that by 2030 two-thirds of its commercial vehicle sales in Europe will be fully electric or plug-in hybrids.

Don Surber wrote, "The electric car symbolizes the tyranny of the left. Electric cars began as a choice and will soon be a mandate, to solve a Fake Problem. The real goal is to stymie the economy and limit the right to travel for ordinary people."

Stop Using Traffic Signs For Bullshit Messages And Propaganda: Over the last couple of decades, Washington - like many other states - has erected traffic information signs on its interstate highways. The original purpose was for traffic reports: 'Bridge Opening - Prepare To Stop', 'Accident Ahead In Left Lane - Merge Right', 'Detour - Two Miles Ahead', etc. These signs were erected at great taxpayer expense and we were assured that they were for the benefit of taxpaying motorists.

Even though it was beyond the original scope of the signs, it didn't bother me when the signs displayed Amber Alerts: 'Possible Child Abduction: Report a blue 2003 Ford Focus WA Lic. 123-6GJ'. Then the signs began broadcasting state-the-obvious, driver-centric messages: 'Seat Belt Use Is Mandatory - Click It Or Ticket'. Or: 'State DUI Patrols Out Tonite - Don't Drink And Drive'. I found these to be distracting, annoying and unhelpful. Last week, there was a new message: 'Even If You're Vaccinated, Masks Are Mandatory'. This has nothing to do with driving and angered me greatly. What's next: 'Condoms Prevent AIDs'?

Of course, Washington is a deeply-blue nanny state. I wonder if any red states do this sort of crap, too?

Be Careful What You Wish For: Crime is soaring in left-wing cities that defunded the police.

Portland Oregon - the poster child for this nonsense - saw homicides rise 271% between July 2020 and February of this year.

Worst Song: IOTW Report asked people to vote for the worst popular song ever. So far, the biggest contenders include John Lennon's 'Imagine', Paul Anka's 'Having My Baby', Helen Reddy's 'I Am Woman' and the apparent winner: multi-artist African starve-fest 'We Are The World'. One voter/commenter declared it the Woke National Anthem.

I'd surely vote for Bette Midler's 'Wind Beneath My Wings' (and all of her other, non-campy ballads) as well as Paul McCartney/Wings' 'Wonderful Christmas Time', 'Silly Love Songs' and 'Spirits of Ancient Egypt'. And, of course, Elmo and Patsy's 1979 epically-execrable 'Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer'.

Slip Slidin' Away: Paul Simon, who will turn 80 this year, has sold his entire music catalog to Sony Music Publishing for an undisclosed sum.

It's not like he needs the money. It's probably an estate planning thing.

Just One Of His Many Problems: The trouble with Mitt Romney is that he looks like some generic guy in a 1938 cigarette ad. Or a Brylcream ad.

Quote Of The Day is from Shant Mesrobian: "The reason why so many extremely woke people turn out to have been bigoted in the past is because bigotry used to be the best way to bully and intimidate people, but now performative anti-bigotry is the best way to bully and intimidate people. An evolving toolset for sociopaths."

Friday April 2, 2021

Small Town, Small Dealer: When Henry Ford ramped up production of his Model T Ford in 1913 and lowered prices sales soared. In 1914, Ford produced more cars than all other automakers combined. By 1918, half of all the cars in the US were Model Ts. Henry aggressively expanded his dealer network, signing up lots of locations in small farming communities.

Soon, Ford's network of local dealers made the car ubiquitous in virtually every city in North America. A large part of the success of Ford's Model T stems from the innovative strategy which introduced a large network of sales hubs making it ... (more >>>)

Marketing Misfire: In the 1970s, plastic product designers were often substituting polystyrene for acrylic because of a three-to-one material cost difference. The makers of Plexiglas acrylic (Rohm & Haas Co.) came up with a campaign to improve market share. A slogan, 'Plexiglas - Worth Every Cent', was developed and a giveaway reminder was designed - a coffee cup coaster made from injection-molded black Plexiglas with the slogan hot-stamped in gold and a Lincoln head penny done in copper-colored Plex.

The company's purchasing department was told to order several thousand and did so ... (more >>>)

Disturbing Trend: When I buy a car, I choose the options I want and pay for them as part of the purchase price. Once that transaction is completed, I own them for the life of the car.

Volkswagen and several other automakers are looking to change that. For example, Volkswagen plans to "test customer acceptance of pay-per-mile billing and on-demand charging for optional car functions as part of a subscription service pilot trial on the ID 3 electric hatchback this year." Tests will include "pay-per-mile billing and charging for additional on-demand features, which it suggests could include "a charging flat rate or navigation services that can be booked as needed."

Certain Volkswagen models already offer the ability to pay for some functions, such as automatically dipping headlights, on certain grades of model, while several sat-nav systems have previously charged for functions such as new maps or live traffic.

Explaining how Volkswagen could employ such systems in the future, sales boss Klaus Zellmer said: "Today you can get infotainment functions on demand, and there are features that can be activated like ACC (automatic cruise control). Now if you have an ID 3 in the future, features such as travel assist, stop and go, lane assist and ACC can be added on top." If "you have a customer with a battery-powered vehicle, and if we notice he does long journeys, we can provide him with additional range, which we can do digitally."

VW will soon have a new generation of EVs that will be sold in a largely standardized specification, with virtually all of the features then available as online-enabled upgrades.

Stock Market Update: Yesterday, the S&P 500 Index closed above the 4,000 mark. Ten years ago, it was around 1,360. Over the long haul, stocks remain a good investment.

Today Is Good Friday: The late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, in a piece titled: 'The Seven Last Words', wrote, "My favorite is the Second, 'This day you will be with Me in Paradise.' Archbishop Sheen relates a legend surrounding Joseph fleeing with the Holy Family into Egypt. Along the way they stop at an inn and Mary asks for a basin of water to bathe the Baby Jesus. The innkeeper's wife senses the identity of the Holy Infant and asks that her baby afflicted with leprosy could be bathed in the same water. Mary consents and the baby is healed."

He is Dismas, the thief hanging on the right side of Christ ... (more >>>)

Quote Of The Day is from John F. Kennedy: "Those who make a peaceful revolution impossible make a violent revolution inevitable."

Car Blog Disclaimer

This blog, The View Through The Windshield, is about cars, automobiles, vehicles of various sorts and more.

The facts presented in this car blog are based on my best guesses and my substantially faulty geezer memory. The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and are protected by the U.S. Constitution. Probably.

If I have slandered any brands of automobiles, either expressly or inadvertently, they're most likely crap cars and deserve it. Automobile manufacturers should be aware that they always have the option of trying to change my mind by providing me with vehicles to test drive. I'll dutifully report my road test impressions on this car blog.

If I have slandered any people, politicians, celebrities or corporations in this blog, either expressly or inadvertently, they should buy me strong drinks (and an expensive meal), while patiently attempting to prove that they're not the jerks I've portrayed them to be. If you're buying, I'm willing to listen.

copyright 2021 - Joseph M. Sherlock - All applicable rights reserved