A Blog About Cars ... And More
Wednesday September 29, 2021
AutoSketch: 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk
Most car people would agree that the Raymond Loewy-designed 1953 Studebaker Starlight coupe was a stunning car in its day and, over six decades later, still looks sweet. The 1954 models added needless style clutter and the 1955 Speedster coupes had too much front-end chrome. Studebaker's attempt to create other models (sedans, Conestoga wagons) using the same style were less successful, producing ungainly cars which lost all the swoopiness of the low-slung coupe.
In 1956, the aging Starlight coupe was given its first substantial restyle and rechristened 'Hawk'. Studebaker promoted the '56 Hawks as "family sports cars" with seating for five adults. The top-of-the line model was ... (more >>>)
Warranty Woes: Warranty Week noted that warranty expenses of General Motors and Ford Motor Co. are "soaring, and their sales are not. And electric car sales, or more properly the safety recalls of past EV sales, are part of the reason for that spike."
Ford's warranty accrual rates (as a percent of sales) have been climbing steadily since early 2019 and are up almost 50%. But General Motors accruals have almost tripled since the beginning of 2021. "It's the highest balance for GM since the ignition switch episode in 2014-2017." It appears that much of the increase is due to the Chevrolet Bolt's battery woes. (hat tip: Charlie B.)
66 Years Ago: On September 30, 1955, actor James Dean died in a horrific car accident with his silver Porsche Spyder 550. While some questions remain, the fact that he was killed can probably be largely attributed to the basic design of the Spyder.
In those days, race cars were designed with low weight as the ultimate objective. Crash-worthiness wasn't much of a consideration. If at all.
Sixty-six years ago, most cars offered little protection to occupants. Commenting on his 1955 Buick, Jay Leno once quipped, "If you have an accident in this car, your heirs can just hose the gore off the dashboard and sell it to the next guy."
Book Review: 'The Long Slide - Thirty Years In American Journalism' by Tucker Carlson
I read Tucker's last book, 'Ship Of Fools: How a Selfish Ruling Class Is Bringing America to the Brink of Revolution' and recommended it.
This 271-page book is a bit different. It is ... (more >>>)
Stop Spending Money We Don't Have: America is rapidly approaching its statutory debt limit. Already, we're hearing that action is urgent. If the limit isn't raised again at once, we face possible default on our sovereign obligations, a ruined currency ... blah, blah, blah.
Enough! It is time to freeze the debt. We are broke. Since we can't borrow any more, we must immediately balance the budget. Unaffordable 'entitlements' - Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, Extended Unemployment Benefits, Social Programs For Immigrants - must be given a haircut. Right now.
In order to reduce our financial burden (deficit and debt), we must shrink the government. Eliminate federal agencies. The National Endowment of the Arts and the National Education Association would be good places to start. Close 'em down and lay everyone off. Say 'See ya' to all the mediocre sculptors underwritten by the National Endowment of the Arts. Cut the Department of Health and Human Services by half. Shutter PBS and let Big Bird live on his Disney salary. Cut off NPR as well. Goodbye to Federal Matching Programs. Farewell Pell Grants - wanna go to college? Get a part-time job like people used to. No more funding of studies about the sex life of clams. Etcetera.
We need to cut subsidies, too. Make Amtrak profitable or kill it off. Raise postal rates until the Postal Service is self-sufficient. You get the idea. The quest for "less government oversight" rings true to anyone who operates a business. The bureaucratic intrusion into everyday commercial activities has become so burdensome that it is killing off business formation and growth. The Federal Budget has more pork than a Reubens nude.
Long Time Gone: I closed my consulting practice and retired ten years ago at the end of September 2011.
Go Shatman! William Shatner, cultural icon for his portrayal of Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise in the 'Star Trek' franchise, and star of 'T.J. Hooker' and 'Boston Legal', will take a spaceflight next month.
This will make him the oldest astronaut at age 90, so he'll be going boldly into space where no nonagenarian has gone before.
Exchange Of The Day ... is from the old Hollywood Squares. Peter Marshall: "If you were pregnant for two years, what would you give birth to?" Paul Lynde: "Whatever it is, it would never be afraid of the dark."
Monday September 27, 2021
First Drive Of The Season: Fall has officially arrived. The temperature was a cool 52 degrees at 8:15 am Saturday, but there was bright sunshine along with intense blue skies, so I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and went for an early morning drive. The roads were practically empty.
Most of the foliage was still green but was becoming that faded, low-saturation hue that happens just before it morphs into gold/yellow/brown. A few trees were beginning to display Fall coloring and some of the sugar maples were turning red. The cluster of burning bushes off our back deck is beginning to turn red in spots. But it's not yet fiery.
The remainder of the day was nice as well, with temperatures eventually reaching the mid-70s. I had a very enjoyable old car drive in this Fall weather and the Plymouth ran great. As with all old cars, the more you drive it, the better it runs.
Never Saw One Of These Before: In my youth, I saw many ice cream trucks patrolling the streets of my neighborhood. All the Good Humor ones were based on Ford or Chevy trucks. Mister Softee and some independents used small step vans. This 1951 Crosley is one of several ... (more >>>)
Fuel History: I've owned my 1939 Plymouth since 1994. The anal-retentive engineer in me keeps a record of all fuel purchases in a spiral notebook. (I keep a notebook in each of our cars.)
Here's what I paid for Premium - usually Chevron Techron Supreme from the local Chevron station in Battle Ground, WA - in September of each year for my Plymouth ... (more >>>)
Energy Recipes: Paul Gigot of the WSJ once suggested that "ethanol is produced by mixing corn with our tax dollars." In the same vein, Mark Perry has added that "solar energy is produced by mixing sunlight with our tax dollars."
The Crapification Of Almost Everything: James Lileks was writing about assemble-it-yourself fire pits but this is true for almost any made-in-China junk: "Cheap Chinese stuff, of course. Makes you wonder if American versions - surely there were one, once - were better, or whether we made cheap junk, too. I'm sure we did: the market fills all niches. But when you bought it down at the hardware store and told Bob about it later, Bob would probably not order them any more, because he felt bad he'd sold you something he didn't know was krep.
Now if you complain to Home Depot, it goes in a database, and as long as the number of aggravated customers is below a certain level, it's the cost of doing business. Besides, they already ordered from another company. There's always another company over there stamping this stuff out."
The Sad Truth: Philip Schuyler tweeted: "Of course the FBI staged January 6th to blame Trumpers. No one does a real insurrection in such a half-assed way or deliberately in front of cameras. A real insurrection you would do quietly at 4:00 am, in the guise of something legal, like an election."
Six Years And Counting: Last week, I visited the Oncology Center for the usual blood test, which measures cancer markers - carcinoembryonic antigen. My blood CEA is now 1.2, which remains well within normal range (0-5.0 µg/L according to my oncologist). Good news.
I also ... (more >>>)
Quote Of The Day is from Eric Hoffer: "An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything in to an empty head."
Thursday September 23, 2021
Grand Unveilings - New Car Introductions In The Good Old Days: Once upon a time, September would make the automotive part of my heart go pitter-patter. (Now I take pills to prevent any unusual heart activity.)
There would be renderings and grainy photos of soon-to-be-released vehicles in car mags, followed by covert activities at local auto dealerships.
Every year, before the new models came out, dealers moved new cars into their showrooms in the dark of night and whitewashed all the big plate glass windows so people couldn't see in. The public ... (more >>>)
Shine On, Shine On Harvest Moon: We had a full harvest moon earlier this week. The skies were quite clear and we got a good look at the orange/yellow moon as it rose above the trees. It's always great to see. Tuesday was gorgeous with bright blue skies with wispy clouds here and there. Temperatures had dropped to the mid-40s overnight, but, by 11:15 am, the temperature was a comfy 63 degrees.
Naturally, I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and went for a drive. The roads were lightly traveled and I was surprised to see Mt. St. Helens with a big, brilliant white snow cap. We had heavy rain over the weekend - a record amount not seen since the 1920s - and that cleared out all the haze. And brought snow to the mountains. I rolled the windows down to take in lots of fresh air as I drove along.
All in all, I had a very pleasant almost-Fall drive in my old car.
More Expensive Than A Classic Duesenberg: U.S. Department of State has awarded GM Defense LLC, a subsidiary of General Motors, a contract "to develop and validate" a next-generation Large Support Utility Commercial Vehicles (SUV) for future fleet production in support of the Department's Diplomatic Security Service (DSS)."
"As part of the total development contract, which is valued at $36.4 million, GM Defense will create a purpose-built Heavy-Duty Suburban and building 10 vehicles during the next two years, making them among the most expensive passenger vehicles in the world."
That's $3.64 million per Suburban. Ouch.
Artistry In Wood: Here is the wooden buck used to make the very first Corvettes ... (more >>>)
Book Review: 'Lincoln Design Heritage: Zephyr to LS (1936-2000)' by Jim & Cheryl Farrell
This large-format (approx. 10" x 13") heavy (over six pounds) hardbound book offers coffee table appeal along with a plethora of photographs, artwork and images (1,600 photos total), over 230 bios of designers and clay modelers and a comprehensive history of Lincoln's most important decades. It is a 475-page story plus bibliography and index - over 200,000 words. This limited-edition book is a labor of love by the Farrells, who traveled to Detroit/Dearborn on numerous occasions to scour the Ford Archives, the Henry Ford Museum historical records, as well those at the National Automotive History Collection at the Detroit Library. They also did research at the Art Center College in California, the Collier Automotive Museum collection in Florida as well as other resource sites. The Farrells interviewed hundreds of former Ford employees in order to factually document events chronicled in their book.
In 1999, Jim & Cheryl Farrell wrote and published the highly-acclaimed 'Ford Design Department Concept & Show Cars 1932-1961' (399 pages, over 900 photos, published in 1999) which now fetches $2-300 on the used book market. In that book, every chapter was about a different car; therefore, each chapter stood alone and the book could be read out of order without losing continuity.
'Lincoln Design Heritage' flows chronologically, beginning with the pre-Zephyr John Tjaarda experimental ... (more >>>)
September Virus Update: As of September 16, 2021, Clark County reported 31,999 total cumulative confirmed cases of China Virus and 337 confirmed cumulative deaths. One in 25 cases requires hospitalization. Most of the cases in Clark County are unvaccinated folks by a factor of almost 5 to 1.
This table summarizes data for cases and deaths in Clark County over time, beginning with March 2020.
Clark County had 4,333 new cases this month, up 79% from the same period last month. There were 67 new deaths in the past month. The percentage of hospital beds occupied by covid patients has increased from 13% as of August 19th to 27% as of September 14th. The mortality rate for August is 1.5% - a large and scary increase at first glance.
However, I am suspicious of the large increases in deaths. Two weeks ago ... (more >>>)
Doc Pomus: Jerome Felder was a white Jewish guy with polio who, in the '40s, changed his name to Doc Pomus and became a renowned blues singer in New York's black club scene. In the 1950-60s he gained more fame as prolific, chart-topping songwriter. How unlikely is that?
But it really happened. Doc wrote or co-wrote: 'Teenager in Love', 'Save The Last Dance For Me', 'Hushabye', 'This Magic Moment', 'Turn Me Loose', 'Sweets For My Sweet', 'Can't Get Used To Losing You', 'Little Sister', 'Suspicion', 'Surrender', 'Viva Las Vegas', 'His Latest Flame (Marie's The Name)' and 'Mess of Blues'. He wrote songs for Elvis, Fabian, Frankie Avalon, Dion and the Belmonts, Bobby Rydell and many, many others. Pomus was elected to the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a year after his death in 1991 (at age 65 from lung cancer).
Pomus wrote several songs with Phil Spector ('Young Boy Blues', 'Ecstasy', 'First Taste of Love' and 'What Am I To Do?'), Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller ('Young Blood' and 'She's Not You'), and other Brill Building-era writers. Pomus also wrote ... (more >>>)
Quote Of The Day is from G. K. Chesterson: "Societies are far gone when toleration is considered good in itself without regard to the thing tolerated."
Tuesday September 21, 2021
Early Space-Saver Spare: Anyone remember Mimi from Mechanix Illustrated? Here, she demonstrates a prototype of ... (more >>>)
Shocking Preorders: Ford Motor will boost production of its F-150 Lightning electric pickup to 80,000 vehicles per year due to strong demand.
The company is doubling its manufacturing capacity for the Lightning, which goes on sale in Spring 2022.
The car was originally finished in Colonial White and was reportedly repainted in purple by George Barris, who also did some mild customizing while Annette still owned the car. Then it was repainted a couple of other colors and is now red.
Automotive Leprosy: General Motors is telling Chevy Bolt owners to park 50 feet away from other vehicles. And, if they park in a parking garage, go to the roof or use an open area to park.
The precaution would "reduce potential damage to structures and nearby vehicles in the rare event of a potential fire," a company spokesman said in an e-mail GM sent a notice to consumers who had asked about parking issues, he added.
I Don't Want A Plug-In Hybrid ... that has a cord requiring a wall socket. I want one with a charging dock that you drive up to. A dock that will also act as a bump-stop so that I don't hit the garage wall. One with a blue charging light so I can impress my friends.
And a little depression in the center where I can place cheese and electrocute garage rodents. Dance, Mickey, dance. (permalink)
Frankford Library: Located near the Margaret-Orthodox Station of the Frankford EL, the Frankford Branch serves the communities of Frankford, Northwood, Bridesburg, and part of Juniata Park. When I lived in Frankford, this ... (more >>>)
Bad Joke Of The Day: I went to buy some camouflage trousers yesterday but they were all so good that I couldn't find any.
Friday September 17, 2021
Summer's End: Well, technically, it is still summer for several days but fall is sneaking around the corner. The days are getting noticeably shorter. Sunset is now at 7:20 pm and it's dark by 8:00 pm. On Thursday morning, the temperature was 38 degrees at 6:15 am. By 11:00 am, it had warmed up to 57 degrees and the skies were blue and nearly cloudless, so I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and headed to the library. I had two books to return and two more to pick up.
When I returned, my driver's door was blocked by a couple of elderly ladies who were peering inside and admiring the Plymouth. They complimented me on the car and asked what year it was. I told them and one said "I used to drive a '47 Ford coupe." It's always nice to meet old car admirers.
Afterwards, I went for a drive along the back roads of northern Clark County. I did pass one poky driver in a minivan. I put my foot down, roared past and then enjoyed the rest of my drive. By late afternoon, the temperature reached 75 degrees but heavy clouds returned overnight and the rain began Friday morning.
Made With An Old Cereal Box, Scissors And Elmer's Glue: The BMW iVision Circular concept is fashioned from renewable, sustainable materials and is 100% recyclable itself. So, buyers could take it home and dump the ugly little beast right in the recycling bin on trash night.
I think the person who styled this is related to the designer of the hideous 2010 Cadillac Urban Luxury Concept.
"The Circular is, naturally, a battery-electric vehicle, using a solid-state pack built up almost entirely with recycled materials, and fully able to be recycled. The bodywork above the pack cuts back on the number of necessary parts as much as possible, and connects those parts in ways that avoid glues, adhesives, and composites to make them easy to disassemble. This means cords, press studs, quick-release fasteners, and a custom, laser-etched fastener dubbed "joyful fusion." (Remember, joy is the way forward for BMW.) The joyful fusion connector is fastened and unfasted in a single rotation with a special wrench. The ease of disassembly combined with features like over-the-air upgrades could lengthen the useful life of a vehicle."
Taxi! The Old Motor posted a 1945 stock footage film that has been colorized, restored, and sound added. It is filled with passenger cars, taxis, trucks, and pedestrians. The bulk of the movie is reported to have been shot on 8th Avenue. Running time is just under five minutes. I spotted at least five ... (more >>>)
Compare And Contrast: A headline this week on Autoblog: 'Tesla gets patent for laser beam windshield wipers.' Next headline down: '2022 Cadillac Escalade makes small changes across lineup.''
You Can Have My Wash Bucket And Garden Hose When You Pry Them From My Cold Dead Hands. The State of Washington, acting under its interpretation of the federal Clean Water Act of 1972, has told Clark County, Vancouver, Camas, Battle Ground and Washougal to forbid all residential car or boat washing that leads to the runoff of soap, detergent and drinkable water. Said Kim Schmanke, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Ecology, "Anything other than rainwater is, in fact, a pollutant." But she admitted that didn't know how much runoff there was and couldn't easily find out.
So, is my use of a dollop of Zip Wash in a water bucket hurting the little fishies in Salmon Creek behind my house? I doubt it ... but, hey, do your own test - does your salmon taste soapy?
Death Comes For Us All: Most of the rock pioneers of the 1950s are dead - Elvis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Bill Haley, Carl Perkins, Gene Vincent, Jackie Wilson, Ricky Nelson, Eddie Cochran, etc. Jerry Lee Lewis is still around but doesn't seem to get out much. He has no tours or concerts scheduled for 2021 or '22.
Elkhart Motel Memories: Recently, James Lileks posted a 1960s-era color postcard of the long-gone Holiday Inn in Elkhart, Indiana, which looked like a hundred other Holiday Inns strewn across the Midwest.
I remembered it well, having stayed there several times in the ... (more >>>)
I Guess Satan Couldn't Make It: The Vatican has invited abortion advocate Chelsea Clinton, China-research funder Anthony Fauci and aging New Ager Deepak Chopra to speak at a Vatican conference being held in May on the interplay of mind, body, and soul in healthcare.
The conference will feature the CEOs of large pharmaceutical companies, including Moderna and Pfizer, along with celebrities active in medical philanthropy, global health advocates.
Other speakers include Kerry Kennedy (Andrew Cuomo's ex-wife), Cindy Crawford and Joe Perry of the rock group Aerosmith.
Point Of View: Stingray65 wrote (on Jack Baruth's blog), "Slow Joe tells us the unvaxed might infect the vaxed, which is why everyone is going to be forced to be vaxed except Post Office employees, member of Congress and their staff, and of course illegals entering the country infected.
Joe is angry about all the Trumptards who refuse to take the Jab that 1 year ago he and his fellow Democrats were telling us was dangerous because anything developed under Trump's watch couldn't possibly be safe and effective. Funny thing is, the groups that are least likely to be vaxed are blacks (90+% Democrat voters), PhDs (99% Democrat voters), government employees (99% Democrat voters), and illegals (99% Democrat voters), so as usual the Party of Science, compassion, and 'My Body My Choice' is least likely to follow the science as they call the other side stubborn, ignorant and hope they all die." True dat.
Quote Of The Day is from the late Will Rogers: "Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for."
Wednesday September 15, 2021
Keep That Motor Humming: A 1940s-era ad in the Saturday Evening Post, promotes Whiz Motor Rythm, to help restore lost power and stretch gasoline rations. The Whiz line of products was made by R. M. Hollingshead Corporation. The company was founded in 1888 by ... (more >>>)
Blue Skies, Smiling At Me: Nothin' but blue skies ... did I see when I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe on Tuesday afternoon. The temperature was 71 degrees on at 1:30 pm with cloudless blue skies. I took a ride while the weather holds. The forecast calls for cooler and wet Fall-like weather later in the week and over the weekend, "as a series of strong, wet cold fronts will bring an end to this long dry and hot summer." Overnight temperatures will cool into the lower 40s Wednesday night or possibly the upper 30s. "A strong cold front will push into the region Friday, bringing the first significant widespread rain to the region since last spring."
I spotted my first Porsche Taycan - a white one - during my drive along the back roads of North Clark County. I also saw Mt. St. Helens in the distance -still bare of snow.
As for the Plymouth, it ran perfectly; I hope to get some more drives in when good weather returns.
Buh-Bye: Sales of Ford's entry-level crossover, the EcoSport will be discontinued in the U.S. at the end of 2022. The little SUV is made in India - I didn't know Ford was importing cars from there - but Ford is closing its Indian manufacturing operation because it is unprofitable.
"Ford has been in India for 25 years but still holds a mere 2% share. It hoped to shore up operations there by exporting products like the EcoSport to the U.S., Europe and other regions, but the plan didn't pan out. It has accumulated about $2 billion in operating losses (over the last 10 years). And it now expects the decision to end Indian manufacturing to generate a $2 billion hit to its bottom line."
"The Ford engine plant in the state of Gujarat will close in the fourth quarter of this year, with its Chennai assembly and engine operations to end in 2022. About 4,000 workers will be impacted. The automaker has about 11,000 employees in the country and will maintain some non-production operations there. For now, at least, Ford said it plans to maintain its vehicle sales operations in India."
GM's Folly? General Motors plan to stop selling fuel-burning vehicles by 2035 may be way too ambitious, according to analysts.
"While electric cars are in vogue, and companies like Tesla command share prices that could make a legacy automaker envious, automotive insiders continue to voice concerns over how ready the world is to fully shift to electric vehicles. Firms that survey car buyers frequently say many still worry about vehicle range and charging times, for example."
GM is "making a big push into pure electric vehicles, as more than 30 new models are expected by 2025." Maybe the company should spend its time fixing the electric Bolt's tendencies to spontaneously combust.
You Have To Stay In The Game: On January 17, 1961, President Eisenhower gave a televised farewell address to the nation. I remember watching it. Ike was just over 70 years old at the time but seemed really old to 17 year-old me. The speech contained the usual "thank you for giving me the privilege of serving as your president" and other niceties. Then things got weird.
Ike got a serious look and said that "we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.
This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence - economic, political, even spiritual - is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."
He added, "The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded. Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite."
I didn't understand what he was getting at. At the time, neither did the press. But it turned out ol' Ike was quite prescient.
Have you noticed ... (more >>>)
Economics Lesson from Thomas Sowell: "Inflation is a quiet but effective way for the government to transfer resources from the people to itself, without raising taxes."
Sounds Like Treason To Me: Bob Woodward wrote in his new anti-Trump book that the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff - that would be General 'White Rage' Milley - had secret phone calls with the Red China. Milley promised to give them a heads up on any military action President Donald John Trump might take.
The Washington Post headline said, "Top general was so fearful Trump might spark war that he made secret calls to his Chinese counterpart, new book says."
Why is Milley not locked up?
Book Review: 'False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts The Poor, And Fails To Fix The Planet' by Bjorn Lomborg
Bjorn Lomborg believes in climate change but also believes that the consequences of slowly rising temperatures are relatively minor and can easily be handled. He wrote, "I remain a skeptic of climate change not because of the evidence for or against it but because so many of its adherents are eagerly using it to impose their preconceived prescriptions for how people should live."
He sites evidence ... (more >>>)
Survival Of The Biggest: Don Surber related a story about Sysco, the food supply giant. Sysco is used by many restaurants for specialty items, sugar packets, condiments such as salsa (by the way, Sysco's house brand of salsa is outstanding) and secondary entrees.
One of Don's readers reported that Sysco is cutting off "the smallest 25% of its accounts. No ifs, ands, or buts - no accommodation for tenure as a customer or necessity of service. If you're not one of Sysco's 75% largest customers, you're cut off." Once commentor said that Sysco can't get enough drivers for their delivery trucks and that the company is having trouble filling warehouse jobs.
Small restaurants have had a tough year and one-half. Forced closures, followed by limited openings and ever-changing restrictions have bankrupted many. The bruised and battered survivors will have long memories and won't forget how Sysco treated them in their time of need.
Funny Guy: Norm Macdonald, the longtime 'Saturday Night Live' funnyman known best as the host of Weekend Update, has died at age 61. Macdonald succumbed to a nine-year cancer battle that he kept private.
Macdonald started his career as a writer on 'Roseanne' before being hired at 'SNL' in 1993, where he stayed for five years. He created the Celebrity Jeopardy! sketches, the first three of which featured his Burt Reynolds exasperating Will Ferrell's Alex Trebek.
Norm was a no nonsense, straight up comedian with no politically correct wokeness. Macdonald was born and raised in Quebec City in Canada. He was married once and divorced, and leaves behind an adult son, Dylan Mcadonald. Norm was an original and a genuinely funny guy. RIP.
Bad Pun Of The Day: In democracy, your vote counts. In feudalism, your count votes.
Monday September 13, 2021
Fuelin' Up And Fixin' Up: At 9:30 am Thursday, I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and drove to town for fuel. I paid $4.139/gal for Chevron Techron Supreme. Every September, I report the cost of fuel for my Plymouth. I have done so for 27 years. You'll find the prices posted here.
Looking at the table, it is interesting how prices fluctuate over time. I wish I could get some of that $1.179 Premium from 1995.
The temperature was already in the upper 60s and skies were blue with wispy white clouds here and there. The temperature peaked at 85 degrees in late afternoon. The air was clear enough that I managed to get a look at Mt. St. Helens during my drive. It is devoid of snow and is just a big pile of brown/gray dirt and rock.
Traffic was moderate and I had a very enjoyable back roads drive after I filled the tank. When I got home, I had a little project to do. Fifty-four years ago, I purchased a clip-on mileage minder for my 1967 Volkswagen Beetle. In those days most cars didn't have trip odometers, so I used this little red plastic accessory. It had molded holes to show the numbers and small printed dials made of pressed white paper, so you could spin the little wheels and set your odometer reading at each fill up.
It was secured to the VW's vent outlet by two thin metal clips. One of them broke off about 5 years ago; the other one broke as I was putting it back on the Plymouth's inner windshield surround. When I got home, my wife located a supply of small magnets. I glued a magnet to the back of the plastic using Amazing Goop. After the glue dried, I put it on the Plymouth's chrome windshield surround and - voila! - it worked and is probably good for another 55 years.
On Sunday morning, I awoke to sunshine and blue skies but, by the time I was ready to fire up the Plymouth, clouds had moved in. But at 8:30 am, the temperature was a moderate 67 degrees, so I zipped up my hoodie and went for a drive. Traffic was very light and I enjoyed cruising along on near-empty roads.
Impress The Hell Out Of Your Neighbors: Some of the wild vehicles featured in the 2015 film 'Mad Max: Fury Road' will hit the auction block this month. One of the vehicles is Gigahorse .... (more >>>)
Car Shark: I have a few scale examples of the 1938-40 Sharknose Graham-Paige in my model car collection, including a 1:43 model of a one-off Graham-Paige Sharknose convertible bodied by the Belgian coachbuilder, Vesters & Neirinck:
The Graham brothers were successful businessmen who purchased the Paige-Detroit Motor Company in 1927. Like many automotive businesses, Graham-Paige struggled during the depression.
In 1938, the firm offered a radically restyled automobile, the Model 97 which the company dubbed 'Spirit of Motion'. The new car looked like it was going 60 mph when standing still. The fenders, wheel openings and grille all appeared to be moving forward. The design was praised in the American press and by designers. It also won the prestigious Concours D'Elegance in Paris, France.
The public dubbed it the Sharknose and stayed away in droves. Part of the problem may have the limited offerings: a two door coupe-sedan and four-door sedan were the standard body styles available. The recession of 1938 didn't help either, nor did Graham-Paige's shaky finances. But the styling has been cited as the major reason for the Sharknose's flop in the marketplace.
The Sharknose was sold in the 1938, 1939 and part of the 1940 model year; less than 8,800 were produced. In comparison, there were over 4,100 Packard Sixes sold in 1938 alone. Over 81,000 Oldsmobiles were produced in '38. In 1939, the debut year for Mercury, over 75,000 examples were made.
Graham-Paige suspended manufacturing of automobiles in September, 1940.
The low production explains why I never saw a Sharknose in person when growing up. I always liked the look of these vehicles, have admired examples at car shows and am delighted to have this little model in my collection. (permalink)
Boeing's Woes: Glenn Beaton, a Boeing engineer in the late 1970s has provided some insight on Boeing's current woes. He wrote, "The current president of Boeing is a former investment banker. Although his immediate predecessor was an aerospace engineer, the one before that had a Yale liberal arts degree and a Harvard MBA. (I'm convinced that companies hire Harvard MBAs not because Harvard teaches them anything but because Harvard admitted them. Companies figure, usually correctly, that a person admitted to the Harvard MBA program must be smart.) The president before that had a B.A. in accounting, and the ones before him were lawyers and other MBAs."
The airplane company was once the Province of Engineers seeking technical excellence; now its run by a bunch of MBAs who've never spent a minute riveting or welding. When the company moved its headquarters to Chicago, it lost its way. "When the headquarters is located in proximity to a principal business - Boeing's was in Seattle - the corporate center is inevitably drawn into day-to-day business operations," a senior Boeing executive once explained. "And that statement, more than anything, captures a cardinal truth about the aerospace giant. The present 737 Max disaster can be traced back two decades - to the moment Boeing's leadership decided to divorce itself from the firm's own culture."
In Glenn's day, upper management ... (more >>>)
No Longer Observing 9/11: Mark Steyn wrote, "We shall not resume our anniversary observances today. The war is lost, at home and abroad. On the domestic front, we doubled the rate of Muslim immigration to the west and began assimilating ourselves with Islam's strictures on freedom of expression and the like. The decade-and-a-half since the Danish Mohammed cartoons has been one long remorseless surrender on core western liberties. When a school teacher gets beheaded in the street, there is no outrage at the act, just a mild regret that he should have been foolish enough to provoke his own fate. Even the milder jests from the immediate post-9/11 era - the cartoon of the woman trying on new burqas in the changing room and wondering, "Does my bomb look big in this?" - would not be published today."
For some reason, it is "wrong" to criticize Islam - although ... (more >>>)
He's Channeling Our Inner Howard Beale: Remember Howard from the film 'Network'? He said, "I just couldn't handle the bullshit any more." He urged people to yell, "I'm mad as hell and I can't take it anymore!"
We laughed about it in 1976 but 45 years later, it is coming true. And it's not so funny now.
Larry Correia wrote that it is indeed "All Bullshit" these days and that we should "keep in mind all of our current political bullshit is because the Biden Administration really wants you to forget that they just caused the biggest military fuckup in American history. There are still Americans trapped in Afghanistan because we abandoned them there - something that would normally be inconceivable. Our friends are dead, or soon will be. America has never looked weaker. We have never looked like a worse ally. Nobody is going to be foolish enough to trust us again, all because of how badly this administration sucks.
Note. I don't even say how badly Joe Biden sucks, because he's clearly a meat puppet they trot out to babble what he's told, and then mute and rush off stage before he shits his pants.
There were hundreds of individual events/images during the Afghanistan fuck up, any of which would have dominated a month-long super outraged 24/7 news cycle if a Republican had been in charge. They impeached Trump for a phone call and bitched about shirtless buffalo hat guy for months but images of people literally falling off of airplanes vanish from the news in the blink of an eye. Our evil news media and big tech is doing everything in its power to get America to focus on anything other than the fact Biden made our country look like weak, pathetic, inept, cowardly, losers."
"I didn't write this post to rehash the debate over abortion or vaccines or whatever tomorrow's new crisis will be if this one doesn't poll good enough. I wrote this post because all of this shit is a byproduct of the people letting our government become too big, powerful, and invasive. And when that wasn't bad enough, the leviathan became one with the megacorps who control all information. And all you have to do to get a pass from those pesky laws and rules they hound the rest of us with is be part of the leviathan! Because what could possibly go wrong there?" Amen.
Larry is right. Read the whole thing.
Big Money Lasts Longer: The estimated life of a one dollar bill is 6.6 years, while a $100 bill is expected to last almost 23 years.
Maybe They Can Turn The Old Newseum Building Into A Rest Home: The Newseum was an interactive museum that promoted free expression and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, while tracing the evolution of communication. The seven-level, 250,000-square-foot museum was located in Washington, D.C., and featured fifteen theaters and fifteen galleries. The Great Tribute To News Reporting closed in 2019. Because Old News is Dead news. Or, if it is significant, history.
Don Surber has written a great article suggesting that it's time for Peggy Noonan (age 71) and Maureen Dowd (age 69) to hang up their Smith Corona typewriters and retire. Yeah, before they turn into crazy old Helen Thomas.
Well, at least Dowd has been a consistent lefty. Noonan, who was once a Reagan speechwriter, and was later a Bush apologist evolved into an Obama-lover and Trump hater.
"Much like Dowd's columns of the past decade. Like George Will, Michael Barone, and the host of Never Trumpers, Dowd and Noonan have atrophied as writers. They are in ruts deeper than the Grand Canyon. They have not changed their opinions since Y2K, or earlier."
What has changed is ... (more >>>)
Quote Of The Day is from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: "Look not mournfully into the past. It comes not back again. Wisely improve the present. It is thine. Go forth to meet the shadowy future, without fear."
Thursday September 9, 2021
August Vehicle Sales: The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimated light vehicle sales for August of 13.06 million SAAR (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate) in August 2021, down 10.7% from the July sales rate, and down 14.4% from August 2020. This was well below the consensus estimate of 15.0 million SAAR. Demand remained strong but the supply of new vehicles has been constrained by shortages, mostly microchips.
Nissan, GM, Stellantis and Ford have extended plant shutdowns due to semiconductor shortage. The shortage of popular vehicles combined with the squeeze on inventories continued to haunt dealers in August.
General Motors is idling eight plants and Ford is halting a pickup line as the chip shortage grows.
"General Motors announced September 2nd that it will pause production at almost all of its North American plants during the next two weeks, including two that make the company's top-selling Chevrolet Silverado pickup. The largest U.S. automaker will halt production next week at its Fort Wayne plant in Indiana and its Silao plant in Mexico, both of which build pickup trucks. In total, GM is cutting production at eight North American assembly plants in September.
Ford will stop making pickups at its Kansas City Assembly Plant for the next two weeks. Shifts will be cut at two more truck plants in Dearborn, Michigan, and Louisville, Kentucky. Toyota Motor Corp said last month it will slash global production for September by 40% from its previous plan.
In addition to Fort Wayne and Silao, GM will halt production at its Wentzville, Missouri, plant for two weeks starting September 6th that builds midsize trucks and full-size vans. GM will also halt production at the CAMI Assembly in Canada and San Luis Potosi Assembly in Mexico for two additional weeks, through the week of September 27th. The company builds its Equinox SUV at both plants. Production of the Equinox has been down since August 16th."
Ford Motor Company's August sales declined 33% on a year-over-year basis. Ford brand sales slumped 33% compared to the year-ago results with the largest declines, by percentage, coming from the Ford Mustang (-51%), Edge (-39%), Explorer (-57%) and Ranger (-68%). Lincoln saw a steeper drop at 44% compared with last August.
Toyota Motor North America said sales slid 2% in August with the Toyota division sales falling more. But Lexus reporting a slight increase from August 2020. American Honda said its sales fell 16% last month with sales by the Honda division dropping 18% while the Acura division posted a 5% increase as sales of Acura passenger cars climbed 12%. The Honda HR-V and Passport set monthly sales records for the seventh straight month in August. Honda has set a new electrified vehicle sales record in every month of 2021, while demand for the new Civic sedan was "off the charts" with dealers quickly selling every unit they received.
Hyundai Motor America reported total August sales of 56,200 units, a 4% decrease compared with August 2020. Hyundai total car sales increased 8%, but sales of utility vehicles dropped last month. Genesis Motor America Inc. sold 4,975 vehicles, a 266% jump from a year ago. SUVs led sales for the luxury automaker with the with the new GV80 paving the way. Kia also reported a drop of 5% from a year earlier and blamed parts shortages trimming inventories.
Mazda North American Operations reported sales of 27,262 units up 5% from the year-ago period with the CX-5 accounting for more than half the company’' sales during August. Subaru of America Inc. reported sales of 49,373 vehicles for August, a 15% decrease compared with year-ago results. "The brand pointed to inventory constraints caused by the global microchip shortage as the primary reason for the falloff."
Fairmount Park Auto Races: The Old Motor has posted photos from the 1911 Fairmount Park race in Philadelphia, PA. I never knew such races existed.
Fairmount Park, Philadelphia's first park, is the largest municipal park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the historic name for a group of parks located throughout the city.
Fairmount Park consists of two park sections named East Park and West Park, divided by the Schuylkill River, with the two sections together totaling 2,052 acres. The park was the site of... (more >>>)
Car Sighting: Spotted my first ever mid-engined Corvette on Tuesday. A bright red one with University of Oregon license plates parked in a hotel lot. I had a chance to do a leisurely walk around. Impressions: Very swoopy but with lots of sharp edged styling. Very eye-catching - looked like a concept car. I didn't care for the black trim on the car. Should be painted body color or chrome.
If I didn't know the price, I would have guessed it as a $150,000 car.
Not In My Collection: Jeff Koch believes that the Cadillac Escalade will be a future collectible.
Writing for Hemmings, he noted, "Only the Escalade has carried on Cadillac's grand tradition of V-8 power, rear-wheel drive, body-on-frame construction, sybaritic comfort for at least five adult humans, and a proper name. If I had our own money to buy a Cadillac right now, and it couldn't have a V-badge on its flanks, then the choice would be simple. I'd find a low-mileage Escalade and either drive the hell out of it or let it sit in an air-conditioned sarcophagus for the next decade and a half."
"Consider: The SUV is the modern equivalent of the post-war station wagon: useful, utilitarian, and ubiquitous. It's only natural that the rarest among these will curry favor with the collector world, and now that things like early Broncos are now bona fide collectors’ pieces, other off-road-capable vehicles will follow. These also nicely split the difference between common and rare: Escalades share enough parts with other GM SUVs that finding parts to keep it running shouldn't be an issue. They're different enough from other GM SUVs that they manage to look and feel special, despite the shared underpinnings…. I'm guessing that when (not if) these rise in value, that the newly-flush Gen Z collectors will remember Escalades from either rap songs or visits to their rich uncle's house in the country."
Jeff could be right. Who knows? But the Escalade wouldn't be on my shopping list for the 'Joe Sherlock Auto Museum' - to be constructed when I win the lottery bigly. Should be any day now.
Pebble Beach Redux: The Old Motor has posted two 2021 Pebble Beach videos on its website. The first is a short (less than 2 minutes) 'Week in Review' video.
The second is a 13-minute video of all the cars on the Tour d'Elegance - captured in motion. These fine old autos just look splendid when they're moving. The various engine noises and - on the really old ones - whining of the straight-cut gears make the video even more captivating.
Twenty Years Later: Saturday will mark the 20th Anniversary of 9/11. I remember it all too well.
"The people ride in a hole in the ground. New York, New York - it's a hell of a town!"
Every time I hear those words from the musical 'On The Town', penned by the legendary songwriting duo Betty Comden and Adolph Green for the 1944 Broadway musical about three sailors on a 24-hour leave in New York City (later transformed into a 1949 MGM movie, starring Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Ann Miller and Betty Garrett), the 'hole in the ground' part acts as an aching reminder of that tragic 2001 day in Lower Manhattan when terrorists murdered 3,000 innocent souls and created a ginormous hole.
September 11, 2001 - it was unthinkable and ghastly.
My clock radio went off at ... (more >>>)
Occam's Blackhawk: When something happens that makes no sense, the human mind searches for answers. In trying to fit pieces of the puzzle together, people develop possible explanations. Too often, those who scoff at such ideas label them Conspiracy Theories - a dismissive term, and, these days, a short stroll to the charge that, not only is the very idea preposterous, but also the person who offered it is crazy. Just because answers and/or proof is not readily available, doesn't mean the explanation is wrong. It's just unproven at this moment. Ask Galileo di Vincenzo Bonaiuti de' Galilei about that.
Shari Goodman at American Thinker has posited that Biden's "mishandling" of Afghanistan (and everything else he touches) may be because he's being blackmailed by the Chinese.
She wrote, "Why would our military commanders willingly give up Bagram, a strategic airport built by the Russians, and why would they willingly leave $85 billion in military hardware behind? Why would they leave thousands of Americans stranded behind enemy lines while providing the Taliban a 'kill list' of those Americans left behind? Unlike previous withdrawals, where it is customary upon withdrawal to first evacuate our citizens, and then destroy the equipment and blow up the bases, we did the opposite. We did not evacuate our citizens. We did not destroy the equipment. And we did not blow up the bases."
These are fair questions No one in the Biden Administration or the Pentagon has explained this strange, beyond-stupid behavior ... (more >>>)
Let Me Know When The Trials Begin: Article 108 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice states, "Willfully damaging, destroying, or losing, or willfully suffering to be lost, damaged, destroyed, sold, or wrongfully disposed of, military property results in a maximum possible punishment of a bad-conduct discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 1 year for a value or damage calculated to be $1,000 or less. If the value or damages exceed $1,000, the maximum possible punishment is increased to a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 10 years."
Don Surber asked, "Milley, where are those 22,174 Humvees; 634 M117s; 8,000 trucks; 155 MaxPro mine-proof vehicles; 169 M113s; 162,043 radios; 16,035 night vision goggles; 358,530 rifles; 126,295 pistols; 33Mi17 helicopters; 33 Blackhawk helicopters; MDS30 helicopters; 4 C-130s; 23 Super Tucanos; 28 Cessna 208s and 10 Cessna AC-208s?"
Thanks For Nothing, Obama: Four out of five Guantanamo detainees whom former President Barack Obama released in exchange for former U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in 2014 now hold senior positions in the interim government created by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Obama gave the Taliban their commanders, and his veep gave them $90 billion in cash and war materiel. And the massive Bagram Air Base which, according to sources, is being turned over to Red China.
Democrats side with the Taliban now. Gutless Republicans do nothing. Cowards.
Every prisoner at Gitmo should have been executed during the Bush years.
Book Review: 'Facing Reality: Two Truths about Race in America' by Charles Murray
Charles Murray's much-maligned 1994 book 'The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life' posited that intelligence is the most dominant factor in the trajectory of each person's life, and it serves to predict such things as socioeconomic status and tendencies towards criminal behavior. It turned out that Charles was right. I reviewed his book, 'Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010', and recommended it.
In this book ... (more >>>)
Interesting Factoid: Vanguard is making $580 million a month from the management fees on its nearly $8 trillion in global assets, according to Dan Wiener of 'The Independent Adviser for Vanguard Investors' newsletter. "By way of context, there are nearly 4,000 mutual funds (3,927) including 310 five-star funds smaller than Vanguard's monthly earnings."
Quote Of The Day is from Peter Ustinov: "When growing up, I aspired to be an Amilcar."
Tuesday September 7, 2021
Labor Day Outing: On Monday, the temperature was 60 degrees at 8:30 am, so I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and went for a drive. The weather was partly cloudy. It was definitely sunglasses weather but there was a ring of clouds around much of the horizon kinda like Ed Asner's hairline. Traffic was very light and I had the windows rolled down to commune with nature and the burble of the Glasspacks.
At one point, Danny and the Juniors were singing 'At The Hop' through the speakers and I was transported back in time. Danny is long gone and so is my youth but I felt young again for a minute or two.
James Lileks wrote, "We tell ourselves that Fall has begun, because it's September. It hasn't, and we know it. But it has, and we know that, too." Indeed. The colors are starting to turn and we had a few nights last week when the temperature dipped into the 40s. But it's warmer right now and I'm taking advantage of the good weather while I can.
Taking off from a stop sign, I rolled off gently, then put my foot down. The engine roared as it does when the secondary barrels of the four-barrel carb kicked in and the nose lifted as the car hauled ass down an empty 159th Street.
I love that feeling, even if it's more for show than go. The old Plymouth isn't as fast as many of today's cars but all of them are fuel-injected and you just don't get the visceral kick from those extra barrels opening up. Early turbo cars had a noticeable surge when the turbos finally kicked in but these days, turbos are so well integrated that the spool-up happens imperceptibly, even though the cars are wicked fast.
It may not be techno-sophisticated, but I enjoyed driving my old Plymouth on Labor Day.
Quick, Before You Need Coupons: At 7:00 am on June 21, 1942, the day before stricter gas rationing was enforced, cars were pouring into this gas station on ... (more >>>)
Buh-Bye: the Ford Edge and Lincoln Nautilus will both die in 2023. The Edge is gone for good, thanks to Ford having four two-row crossovers in the lineup with the arrival of the hugely popular Bronco line, and a three-row Explorer that's only $175 more expensive at the moment.
"The Nautilus, however, could get a second act. When Ford came to an agreement with Canada's Unifor union about the Oakville Assembly Plant, which builds the Edge and Nautilus, the automaker pledged to turn Oakville into an EV production facility. Lincoln's big on battery-electric vehicles in the near-term, Unifor mentioning Oakville product plans that would have at least one EV coming off the line by 2025 and four more by 2028. Automotive News says Lincoln's got a small crossover and a midsize crossover due in 2025, and the small one could come from Canada and slot into the space left empty by the departed Nautilus, perhaps carrying on the name, perhaps not."
Not Around Here: At the various car sites I follow, I keep reading about epic used car shortages. It doesn't seem that way around here.
The Vancouver CarMax had at least 60% of the spaces filled with vehicles and a local no-name used car lot in Brush Prairie - it's been in the same location for over 30 years, with various owners - was absolutely overflowing with used trucks and SUVs.
Sweet Coupe: Produced in 1951, Disney's 'Susie the Little Blue Coupe' is worth eight minutes of your time. Narrated by Sterling Holloway, it was originally released as a theatrical short in mid-1952 and was included as a special feature on the DVD release of 'The Love Bug'.
Sterling Holloway was the voice of the Cheshire cat in 'Alice in Wonderland'. His most famous vocalization was the title character in Disney's 'Winnie-the-Pooh' featurettes. Holloway was a character actor who appeared in over 150 films and television shows, in addition to tons of voice-over work.
Pile Up: An article in The Wall Street Journal documents the chaos in U.S. manufacturing businesses due to component shortages.
"Manufacturers are stacking up unfinished goods on factory floors and parking incomplete vehicles in airport parking lots while waiting for missing parts, made scarce by supply-chain problems.
Shortages of mechanical parts, commodity materials and electronic components containing semiconductor chips have been disrupting manufacturing across multiple industries for months.
Companies determined to keep factories open are trying to work around shortages by producing what they can, at the same time rising customer demand has cleaned out store shelves, dealer showrooms and distribution centers. As a result, manufacturers are amassing big inventories of unsold or incomplete products such as truck wheels and farm tractors. Companies that are used to filling orders quickly now have bulging backlogs of orders, waiting for scarce parts or green lights from customers willing to take deliveries."
Executives expect the shortages and delivery bottlenecks, exacerbated by overwhelmed transportation networks and a lack of workers, to stretch into the fall. Honeywell International said shortages of plastic resins, semiconductor chips and other components are a drag on sales growth in its business units that produce building systems, safety gear and productivity equipment for warehouses and factories.
Microchips are just the tip of the iceberg. The entire supply chain is weak, too complex and vulnerable. This didn't happen when Detroit automakers used components made in-house or by nearby suppliers in Michigan, Chicago, Ohio and Indiana.
Everything Fits: The chaos in Afghanistan, cities overflowing with homeless, rampant crime, overrun borders, massive refugee resettlements - it's all part of a plan and exactly what the Democrats want. Arming our enemies while trying to regulate/confiscate America's guns. Skeptical? Don Surber connected the dots for ya.
"The surrender of Afghanistan is not because of dementia or ignorance or incompetence. Biden knows exactly what he is doing. For whatever evil reasons behind his decision to Make Afghanistan Taliban Again, it was his choice. This is the world he wants. This is the world he created. We just live in it."
It is treason - pure and simple. Giving aid and comfort to the enemy. On the other hand, that doesn't mean anyone will be held accountable. Wake me up when the arrests begin.
Failure To Learn From History: Mark Steyn put the mess in Afghanistan in historical perspective. He wrote, "In Afghanistan what needed to be done is almost as old as man. As Victor David Hanson (pointed out), "This is the greatest loss of military equipment in the history of warfare by one power."
He's right. Because US government is so drunkenly profligate, the numbers sound blah-blah to jaded American ears. But $85-90 billion is larger than the annual military budget for every nation around the world except the US and China. For those partial to the International Jewish Conspiracy theory of history, what America has just given the Taliban is equivalent to 85 per cent of all the military aid Washington has given Israel since 1948. The Taliban now possess more Black Hawk helicopters than almost all America's allies; they own near to a tenth of all Humvees on the planet. That's aside from less obvious items, such as over 160,000 radios and over 16,000 night-vision goggles that will come in mighty handy for wiping out the remnants of resistance in the Panjshir Valley.
The "solution" to this is to do what every army has known to do down through the millennia: a retreat means not just preventing your men from falling into the hands of the enemy but also their weapons - including, if necessary, your allies' weapons. As many readers will know, at the beginning of July 1940, just a week after France threw in the towel and signed its armistice with Germany, the Royal Navy attacked and disabled the French fleet, then the largest and most powerful in Continental Europe.
The British priority was to prevent the ships falling into the hands of Germany and Italy, who would put them to very good use. In a few days of urgent negotiation, the French commander resisted London's "suggestion" that he either place the fleet under British command or take it to the French West Indies. So the Royal Navy struck and over 1,300 French sailors were killed.
But the Germans didn't get hold of France's most powerful battleships - and the following day, when the French ambassador complained about it to FDR during Washington's Fourth of July observances, the President said he would have done exactly the same."
I caught a snippet of Fox News Sunday and heard the detestable Chris Wallace begin a segment with, "Now that the Afghanistan war is over …." I yelled back at the television, "Over!!!! You idiot. What makes you think it's over! The Taliban has our weapons and American citizens. What do you think they'll do on September 11th? The war will never be over until we get every American citizen out safely." I wish that we'd also get those friends who helped us - Afghan and canine - but I think that the evil Biden Administration has made its decision to abandon them.
On Sunday, the Taliban blocked the take off of at least six planes chartered to evacuate hundreds of people seeking to flee Afghanistan. "We have six airplanes at Mazar Sharif Airport, six airplanes with American citizens on them as I speak, also with these interpreters, and the Taliban is holding them hostage for demands right now," said Representative Michael McCaul of Texas. "The state has cleared these flights and the Taliban will not let them leave the airport,." At least 500 Americans are reportedly stranded in Afghanistan according to the Associated Press. Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) believes the overall "number of people could be as high as 1,000."
Biden and the Democratic Party don't seem to care much about Americans trapped overseas. And the top brass at the State Department remains clueless and ineffective.
William Katz commented, "Donald Trump may not have won the Man of the Year award from finishing schools, but he never would have let this happen."
As I write this, the Chinese probably have taken possession of representative samples of various military and communication equipment and are reverse-engineering our best stuff, while merrily breaking all our encryptions. This is not 'over' - by a long shot.
He And Gene Shalit Were The Only Ones Worth Watching: Willard Scott, 'Today' show weatherman and good-natured merrymaker, has died at age 87 of natural causes. He had a 35-year gig enlivening the NBC morning program.
Scott first made his name as an irrepressible comedian on local DC radio. On local TV, he was the original Ronald McDonald. He also did a stint as a local weather forecaster.
In a broadcasting career spanning six decades, Willard was best known for his role on 'Today', NBC's weekday morning program. He debuted in 1980 and was a big hit, draping his 6-foot-3 frame in outrageous costumes. He once dressed up as Carmen Miranda, the Brazilian entertainer known for her outré fruit-covered hats and garish dresses. On Groundhog Day, he appeared as the rodent." In 1980, he told a Time magazine interviewer, "If you watch, you'll see that I am trying to weave a web of love. I want to make the whole country feel as if we are one. I may be a cornball, but I am me - not a sophisticated, slick New York wazoo act."
During the 1980s ... (more >>>)
Today's Truth: If everything aliens knew about us came from HGTV, they'd think every household was bi/multiracial and/or gay. The current advertising trend on all media would confirm their impressions.
How Was Your Labor Day Weekend? I hope it was a good one. We had a very nice one. Our daughter and her husband came over for a visit and a traditional Labor Day cookout - the kind we've been doing for over 50 years. I cooked Don't-Bother-Me Burgers and my wife whipped up her Famous Potato Salad, the closest thing you can find around these parts to the delicious white potato salad once offered by authentic Jewish delis along the mid-Atlantic states.
The burger was a six-ounce patty, cooked to achieve maximum juiciness (three minutes per side at about 550 degrees on our outdoor Char-Broil two-burner propane grill) with melted cheddar cheese on both sides - one slice melted on the bottom half of the bun, the other on the burger - served on a toasted brioche bun with a large slice of super-red, juicy heirloom tomato dusted with artisan sea salt. My daughter supplied the salt - it is hand-harvested from the Northern Oregon Coast. They were harvesting it when my daughter and her husband camped there last month. She bought a small tin of it and doled it out sparingly as if it were beluga caviar. I dunno - it tasted like salt to me.
We also celebrated my daughter and son-in-law's 10th Wedding Anniversary.
On Sunday, I cooked a filet mignon which my wife and I shared along with scalloped potatoes and most of a bottle of Browne 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon from Walla Walla.
All in all, it was a very good weekend.
Question of the Day: If American mothers feed their babies with tiny little spoons and forks, what do Chinese mothers use? Toothpicks?
Friday September 3, 2021
A Day Out:
A family prepares for an outing in their 1939 Plymouth four-door sedan. The ... (more >>>)
The Cost Of Ownership: Forget the high cost of buying a new vehicle, the cost of owning it has risen too. AAA estimated that the typical motorist will spend $9,666 to own and operate a new car, truck or crossover this year.
"That's up from $9,561 a year ago, the travel and road service reported. AAA factored in everything a motorist might have to shell out for, from license and registration fees to the fuel needed to get around. But, by far, the biggest expense comes in the form of depreciation, representing about 40% of what you'll pay in 2021."
Owning and operating a small sedan anchors the low end, averaging out to about 48.20¢ per mile. Full-size pickups, on the other hand, top the list, at 77.25¢/mile. And electric vehicles come in around mid-pack, at 61.96¢/mile. It should be noted that the AAA study was done before the current spike in fuel prices.
GM Is Still Putting Out Fires: General Motors will keep its Orion Assembly plant idled and not start repairs on the nearly 141,000 recalled Chevrolet Bolts EVs and EUVs until it is confident its supplier can make a defect-free EV battery that does not pose a potential fire risk. And right now, GM does not believe its battery-maker, LG Chem, can do that. GM and LG Chem have "hundreds of people" working around the clock, seven days a week, to find the cause of the defective battery modules connected to some Bolts catching fire without impact, said GM spokesman Dan Flores.
No word if Chevy will offer Bolts with flame paint jobs when production resumes.
“If we took the battery stock that's in the field right now or at a warehouse, we're not confident that it is defect-free," Flores said. "Because we are not confident that LG has the capability to build defect-free products, we've put the repairs on hold and we are not building new Bolts. We're not going to start recall repairs or start building new Bolts until we're confident LG will build defect-free products." LG builds the battery cells at its LG Energy Solution Michigan, Inc., facility in Holland, Michigan.
Instead of impressing high school girls by doing a burnouts, you can buy a car that spontaneously combusts. How cool is that?
Late Summer Fun: It was quite sunny on Wednesday - the skies were bright blue with nary a cloud in sight. Clouds are forecast for the next few days.
At 11:30 am, the temperature was 63 degrees, so I fired up my 1939 Plymouth business coupe and went for a drive. There was some haze - I couldn't see Mt. St. Helens, not that there's much to see this time of year - but I noticed that some leaves are turning. I suspect that's partly due to damage from the extreme heat we experienced in June.
Traffic was fairly light and there were no school buses, although school is now in session around here. The Plymouth ran great and I had a most enjoyable, pre-lunch drive.
Your Tax Dollars At Work: Robert Spencer, director of Jihad Watch, wrote: "Americans got a telling glimpse of their taxpayer dollars at work in Afghanistan when the Taliban on August 15 entered the residence of General Abdul Rashid Dostum in Mazar-i-Sharif.
Dostum was a marshal in the disgraced and dissipated Afghan National Army, and served as first vice president of Afghanistan (which had two, because you can never have too much of a good thing) from 2016 until February 2020. He was a vociferous foe of the Taliban and a key U.S. ally when the first Taliban regime was toppled, although his relationship with Washington later soured (he was accused of war crimes) to the degree that, even while serving as first vice president in the American-backed Afghan government, he was barred in 2016 from entering the U.S."
"Nevertheless, he remained an integral part of the government that the U.S. was propping up, and so when Taliban jihadis filmed themselves walking around his unbelievably opulent residence, it was hard not to think about all the rusting bridges, trestles scrawled with graffiti, and pothole-laden roads in America, and wonder if our taxpayer money might have been put to better use.
Dostum's place was what Caesar's Palace would look like if it were remodeled by a multi-billionaire who thought the original was too modest and austere. Dostum's place was what the Palace of Versailles would look like if it were remodeled by the Real Housewives of New Jersey."
"How could this dedicated military officer and public servant possibly have amassed the funds to pay for his Disneyland dream palace? Why, you and I paid for it, along with all the other American taxpayers. And that's by no means all that we bought. Dostum wasn't the only Afghan official who got a luxury home. A report in the UK's Daily Mail noted that “one powerbroker at a Kabul bank used a web of fake firms to make fraudulent loans to ministers, officials and warlords, leading to losses equivalent to one-twelfth of the size of the country's economy. The bank also spent $164 million on 35 luxury villas on Dubai's Palm Jumeirah island complex, which it used for entertaining.” One unnamed Afghan vice president (they had so many) grabbed $52 million in cash and took off for Dubai, where the parties were no doubt hearty."
Let's Hear It For The Rainbow Tour: I'm reminded of this song from the musical 'Evita' every time Biden, his spokes-vermin or the top military brass talk about our "great success" in exiting Afghanistan.
"Let's hear it for the Rainbow Tour. It's been an incredible success! We weren't quite sure, we had a few doubts! … But the answer is yes!"
Treason Defined: Under Article III, Section 3, of the Constitution, any person who levies war against the United States or adheres to its enemies by giving them Aid and Comfort has committed treason within the meaning of the Constitution. The term "aid and comfort" refers to any act that manifests a betrayal of allegiance to the United States, such as furnishing enemies with arms, troops, transportation, shelter, or classified information. If a subversive act has any tendency to weaken the power of the United States to attack or resist its enemies, aid and comfort has been given.
I can think of several members of the Biden administration, including the Big Guy his-own-self, who are elegible.
In related news, U.S. Predator drone had 'kill shot' on terrorist before he killed 13 Marines but Biden bowed to Taliban who 'denied permission to shoot'. Their blood is on Biden's hands.
Quote Of The Week is from Don Surber: "There is systemic racism in this country. We call it affirmative action."
Don gets the runner-up quote, too: "Amtrak continues to exist only because Biden's father failed to give him a train set as a little kid."
Joke Of The Week is from Tom McMahon: A man walks into a dermatologist's office and says "I think I'm a moth." The dermatologist says, "You don't need a dermatologist, you need a psychologist." The patient: "Yes, I know." Dermatologist: "Then why did you come in here." The man answers, "Well your light was on …"
Nunsense: Gregory Sullivan accurately (to me anyway) remembered Catholic elementary school: "Catholic school was likewise full of warnings that the machinery of the universe would tick over immediately to punish the incautious. Hell, (whoops; sorry, Sister) if you threw your dessert uneaten into the trash some foreign kid would immediately keel over and die for the want of it.
That was never his fault, somehow, and it didn't matter that dessert was prunes from a huge dented can, and even Biafrans were known to turn up their noses at those.
You killed those people. A+B=C. Period."
Definition Of The Day is for 'chickens': The only animals you eat before they are born and after they are dead.
Wednesday September 1, 2021
Odd Movie Limo: The 1933 headline read: 'Movie Mechanics Rebuild 13 Year-old Car Into Ultra-Modern Limousine'.
The caption/story reported that Hollywood was set agog recently when an automobile of startling, ultramodernistic design appeared on the streets. The creation was the work of ... (more >>>)
Two Pairs Of Pants With Every Suit: An offer such as this seems silly in today's business casual world. But, during most of the 20th Century, this was a big deal because men typically wore suits to work, to church and to dinner. Typically, workers hung up their suit jackets and worked in shirtsleeves at their desks. They'd put their jackets on for important meetings - with customers or staff. The pants always wore out before the jacket, so the idea of a second pair of matching pants with one's suit purchase was appealing.
Bond Clothing Stores was a men's clothing manufacturing company and retailer, catering to the middle-class consumer. The company was founded in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1914, when ... (more >>>)
Book Review: 'Sinatra And Me - In The Wee Small Hours' by Tony Oppedisano
The author first met Sinatra in the early 1970s and was more than four decades younger than ol' Frank. But he soon became Sinatra's road manager and confidante. This is not a biography, rather it is an as-told-to' remembrance, with Frank reminiscing about his career and personal past. While the book has a few interesting and new anecdotes ... (more >>>)
A Real Downer Of An Article: Sadly, the predictions penned by David Solway may indeed come true. He wrote, "The question that many Americans are now asking themselves is whether the United States can survive another three and a half years of a Democrat administration. Under its stewardship, a short period of merely a few months has seen the country sink into a morass of increasing social dissension, mounting debt, growing unemployment, the dismantling of central industries, gross mismanagement across the board, military embarrassment, policy failure, and international humiliation."
"The nation is ruled by a president who seems to be in the terminal stages of galloping dementia. His potential replacement resembles a cackling witch with the intelligence of a feral child. The Senate majority leader is by all reasonable accounts a candidate for intensive psychotherapy." And there's more - read the whole article.
Good Question: A poster on Instapundit, 'DeepState=DeepSwamp' asked, "How is it that Trump's Commander-in-Chief orders to the military were disobeyed, yet, Sponge-Brain-No-Pants successfully orders the military to surrender?"
Too Many Chiefs, Not Enough Indians: A group of 87 retired generals and admirals called for the resignations of the secretary of defense and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff over the disaster of the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. "The letter was released as the Pentagon announced on Monday that the last flight out of Kabul airport had taken off to the skies, ending the war that lasted two decades."
How many generals and admirals do we have to have almost 90 retired ones?
The letter accused Defense Secretary Gen. Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley of culpability in the disastrous withdrawal that has already cost the lives of 13 U.S. service members. Sometimes I get the feeling he only got the job because he fit the uniform.
Cui Bono? "Who benefits from the Afghanistan withdrawal?" asked Dennis Prager. Red China, of course.
"Without firing a shot, Red China has subdued its biggest enemy, the United States of America. Decades of buying politicians (Feinstein, Bush 41, Biden, et cetera), compromising Corporate America with cheap labor, and poisoning the well of our academia with Maoism have paid off. Without firing a shot, Red China has had America surrender a nation it controlled." Biden belongs to Xi.
Don Surber wrote, "As vice president he flew with his son Hunter in Air Force Two to pick up a billion-dollar investment from one of those fake Chinese billionaires in Beijing. And all of Washington knew this and did nothing. Just as Washington will do nothing to Biden and the Drugstore Generals who gave away Afghanistan."
Philadelphia Radio Legend: Bill Wright, Sr. has died at age 92 of senile degeneration of the brain. He passed away August 8, 2021. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, I listened to his radio show on WIBG while commuting to high school and college.
Growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, a childhood illness kept Bill bedridden, listening to the radio. That prompted an interest in radio which led to a lifetime career.
He contracted osteomyelitis ... (more >>>)
Fellow Traveller: Veteran actor Ed Asner, who starred as the hard-driving but lovable TV newsman Lou Grant on TV’s classic 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' and then in his own 'Lou Grant' spinoff, has died at age 91. He also voiced curmudgeonly widower Carl Fredricksen in Pixar's 2009 film 'Up'. Good actor but a diehard far-lefty and an outspoken atheist.
Forty-five years ago or so, he and I were at LAX baggage claim waiting for our luggage to arrive. Our bags were the last to hit the carousel. Ed hand carried a suit bag over his shoulder. He looked smaller than on television.
Another Metric System Disaster: A Malaysian welder had to have a metal nut removed from around his penis after a botched attempt to lengthen his member. The nut got stuck on his penis, forcing him to seek help at a local hospital.
Quote Of The Day is from Saul Bellow: "A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep."
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