A Blog About Cars ... And More
Monday September 26, 2016
I Remember When Minivans Were Affordable: The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica costs $52,270. No wonder there are so many families with both parents working.
Don't auto manufacturers realize that the American consumer is tapped out? That's why auto sales are stagnant. Two-thirds of American households earning between $50,000 and $100,000 would have difficulty coming up with $1,000 to cover an emergency. Nearly half of those earning between $100,000 to $149,999 a year have less than $1,000 in a savings account. And almost 29% of those earning more than $150,000 have less than $1,000 in their savings account. So where's the money going to come from for these expensive Pacificas?
The original Dodge Caravan minivan, introduced as a 1984 model, could be bought at prices starting at just below $9,000 - less than $21,000 in today's dollars. It sold like spare electrical parts at a British car meet.
Speaking of vans ...
Far East Absurdity: The latest Japanese non-Hello Kitty craze is racing old full-size Dodge passenger vans. The modified vehicles are called Dajibans. They're usually 20+ year-old ones with a V8 engine and automatic transmissions.
Owners fit them with things like Brembo brakes, cross-drilled rotors, heavy-duty transmissions, fiberglass bumpers and much more. I wonder if my old company van - a '77 Dodge Sportsman - made it over to the Land of the Rising Sun?
It Begins: The Indiana State Police are investigating fraudulent voter registration forms - among more than 28,000 submitted to county registration offices by a little-known group called the Indiana Voter Registration Project.
Reporters visited the group's mostly empty office last week. A man who identified himself as Karim Aziz of New Jersey declined to answer questions about the group's affiliation or operations.
I guess this is what all those talking heads mean when they talk about "the Democratic ground game."
Wibbage ... Radio 99: Philadelphia's radio station WIBG (990 AM) had an inauspicious beginning. It debuted in 1924 as a 25 watt religious station for St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Elkins Park. Apparently the "IBG" in the call letters stood for "I Believe In God."
In 1941, the now-commercial station moved to downtown Philadelphia. WIBG became legendary for its wildly-popular top hits format that began in the mid 1950s, when Disc Jockey Joe Niagara began slipping rock and roll songs into the station's pop standards format. By 1958, the station was playing rock & roll, doo-wop and the like 24 hours a day, the only station in Philly to do so well into the 1960s.
Radio 99 ruled Philadelphia, especially among teenagers. The station published weekly 'Top 99' survey sheets; these could be found at record retailers - mostly, small independent stores in those days, such as Bond Records, located at the corner of Frankford Avenue and Paul Street - under the Margaret-Orthodox station of the Frankford El. Hy Lit and Bill Wright, Sr. were a couple of other popular Wibbage DJs.
WIBG included songs with a 'Philly' edge ... (more >>>)
Applies Today More Than Ever: In November 2014, Jon Gabriel tweeted sarcastically, "My favorite part about the Obama era is all the racial healing."
Recently, Gerard Van der Leuen added, "In the second term of the first black president, rioting is the New Normal."
Last year, black conservative Thomas Sowell wrote, "You cannot take any people, of any color, and exempt them from the requirements of civilization without ruinous consequences to them and to society at large. Murder rates among black males were going down - repeat, down - during the much-lamented 1950s, while it went up after the much celebrated 1960s, reaching levels more than double what they had been before."
Never Forget: The State Department (headed by Hillary Clinton) found it impossible to rescue four Americans in Benghazi. Now it says it will rescue 200,000 Syrian Muslims. And bring them here.
Still Awful After All These Years: Wells Fargo is no angel and is getting a lot of bad publicity lately after thousands of bank employees opened millions of fake accounts but, according to ValuePenguin.com, Bank of America is still the worst large U.S. bank, ranking 50 out of 50 overall.
After years of bad service, we severed all relations with BofA in 2012. And never looked back. If brains were taxed, I'm certain that Bank of America's top execs would get rebates.
Health Care Investing: Recently, financial columnist Malcolm Berko recommended investing in the T. Rowe Price Health Sciences Fund, a no-load mutual fund "which buys companies engaged in research, development, production and distribution of products and services related to the health care industry.
Because consumers have no say in their medical care costs and because Congress pays the bills, the medical industry will always be one of the fastest-growing and most profitable industries in the U.S."
The fund owns ... (more >>>)
Joke Of The Day is from Tom McMahon: "Q: What do they call the 2nd round of Pin The Tail on the Donkey at the Walmart Office Party? A: Retailing."
Thursday September 22, 2016
My Brother's Keeper: In one of my self-made Plexiglas model car display cases, I have a Matchbox No. 32, a diecast E-Type Jaguar (known in North America as the XKE) coupe. This delightful little red car was made in England by Lesney Products. It used to belong to my brother.
His car came in a box and he bought it at the toy store in Brigantine, NJ in the mid-1960s. It was in pristine condition until, as he complained, "Mom gave all my toys to Joey." That would be my son. And when my son Joe outgrew it, I cleaned it up and put it in the display case. In all fairness ... (more >>>)
Foggy Start: Tuesday dawned as foggy as W.C. Fields' brain after a night of martini swigging. The sun didn't make an appearance until late morning, but the skies were bright blue with small clouds here and there.
At 11:45 am it was a brisk 59 degrees, so I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and went for a drive. The roadside maples are now fiery red and leaves on other trees here and there are beginning to turn.
Traffic was a bit heavier than I usually encounter; I think I was experiencing the 'let's leave early for lunch and miss the rush crowd'. I understand that. In the early days of our plastics company, my business partner and I were on the job by 7:00 am and, by late morning, we were starving. Most lunch places in town opened at 11:30 and we were often standing at the door when the key was turned.
In any case, I had a very enjoyable old car drive in this almost-Fall weather. Then I returned home and - appropriately - had lunch.
Book Review: 'The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur's Vision of the Future' by Steve Case
Before reading this book, I saw the author interviewed on BookTV by Rep. John Delaney (D-Maryland). It was informative and interesting with good questions by the congressman - who used to own a business - and engaging answers by Case, cofounder of AOL.
The book defines the first wave as the birth of the internet and its first baby-steps on the World Wide Web. The second wave happened when companies, such as Google and Facebook, built on the 'nets foundation to create sophisticated search and social networking capabilities. The third wave, writes Case, will be when "entrepreneurs will vastly transform major 'real world' sectors like health, education, transportation, energy, and food - and in the process change the way we live our daily lives." Also, the Internet of Things, which means that your refrigerator will harangue you about its needs and be subject to hacking. I don't know about you but I want a non-hackable appliance that does its job and shuts the hell up.
I enjoyed the book at the start but ... (more >>>)
Department Of Irony: A Hispanic man who criticized Donald Trump's Mexican rapist comments has been arrested for raping an illegal immigrant.
Tony Yapias is the director of 'Proyecto Latino de Utah', who also coordinated numerous protest events against Donald Trump, "threatened, raped and blackmailed his victim specifically because of her undocumented illegal immigration status."
"Despite the woman's fears concerning immigration issues, court documents state, she reported the assault the day after it happened. She was also examined by a forensic nurse who found she had multiple physical injuries consistent with her explanation of what happened."
Karma sounds the same in Spanish as it does in English.
Great Observations and Analysis: Scott Adams, creator of 'Dilbert' and, more recently, a political commentator, has written a very insightful article about the state of the presidential race. He quotes from one of his recent Tweets: "Our next president will either be an offensive, rich divisive bigot with a bad haircut or Donald Trump."
Over a year ago, Adams thought Trump had the chops to win the presidency, because The Donald was a Master Persuader. "It turns out that Trump's base personality is "winning." Everything else he does is designed to get that result. He needed to be loud and outrageous in the primaries, so he was. He needs to be presidential in this phase of the election cycle, so he is.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has revealed herself to be frail, medicated, and probably duplicitous about her health. We also hear reports that she's a drinker with a bad temper. Suddenly, Clinton looks like the unstable personality in this race."
"You probably thought Trump was the bigot in this contest, until Clinton called half of Trump's supporters a "basket of deplorables." That's the point at which observers started to see a pattern. Trump has been consistently supportive of American citizens of all types with the exception of the press and his political opponents. The main targets of Trump's rhetoric are the nations that compete against us. In stark contrast, Clinton turned her hate on American citizens. That's the real kind of hate. Trump is more about keeping America safe and competing effectively in the world. That is literally the job of president."
And: "Do you remember over a year ago, when Trump first entered the race? Social media relentlessly insulted his physical appearance. They mocked his orange hair and his orange skin. They called him a clown. They called him a Cheeto. It was brutal.
But over time, Trump's haircut improved. He softened the color to something more blonde than orange And his fake tan and TV makeup improved too. Today, if you ask a voter to name the candidate for president who "looks bad," the answer would probably be Clinton, primarily because of her recent health issues. In our minds, Clinton went from being a stylish and energetic personality to a hospice patient dressed like a North Korean dictator at a rave. ... (The) world is turning inside-out, right in front of our eyes." Indeed.
Beyond Buffoonery: This week, Jim Goad wrote, "Since the moment that Donald Trump announced his candidacy in June 2015, the scoffers and sneerers and naysayers have stated definitively that he is a Cheeto-colored buffoon who has absolutely no chance of winning the presidency and you're an idiot for ever thinking he did."
One of the Panel members on a recent Fox News' 'Special Report with Bret Baier', was a guy from Time who said, "Well, we've always known this would be a close race." None of the other panel members challenged his statement.
Is he kidding? Until recently, the media (online, televised and print) have consistently and unabashedly lampooned Trump, produced mighty and weighty expert opinions that he didn't have a chance at being president and that Hillary Clinton was a shoo-in.
Now, the pendulum seems to be swing the other way. And some of the elitist media are hedging their bets, while others are gingerly placing their feet on the boarding step on the Trump Train.
Of course, it's not over until the wrinkled, unhealthy, unstylish fat lady sings. And we've still got debates to get through. I only wish that the debates were held on a Wednesday because, as on the Mickey Mouse Club, Wednesday is Anything Can Happen Day.
Quip Of The Day is from George Carlin: "I knew a transsexual guy whose only ambition is to eat, drink and be Mary."
Tuesday September 20, 2016
Concept Cars Used To Look Like Rocket Ships. Now, they look like the dented and torn box the rocket ship came in - as viewed in a fun house mirror. Consider the Mitsubishi GT-PHEV (ugly name). They should have called it the Mitsubishi PHEW.
Electric Fantasy: Peter De Lorenzo is still not a fan of Tesla. He wrote, "Wall Street ... overvalues Tesla by about 75% in a cessation of all rational thought that is simply mind-boggling to behold. With the serious automobile manufacturers lining up with a series of formidable all-electric machines, Elon Musk's days are numbered as the P.T. Barnum of the business. It won't matter, he will get bored and declare the whole automotive exercise as tedious, and move on to colonizing Mars."
In one form or another, the internal combustion engine will power - directly or indirectly - the majority vehicles for a long time. (permalink)
Pay For Play: The evidence is right here.
"The same Democratic law firm working with Google to provide people with election information helped the Obama administration to run a "pay for play" operation that could explain how ambassadorships were awarded during Hillary Clinton's tenure at the State Department, according to new leaked documents purportedly from the Democratic National Committee.
A separate document lists the presidential appointments that were doled out to donors. That list notes the highest bidder, Matthew Barzun, contributed $3.5 million to President Obama's first election in 2008, and subsequently received an appointment as America's ambassador to the United Kingdom and Sweden in August 2009.
Julius Genachowski, who donated a little more than $3.4 million, was appointed chairman of the Federal Communications Commission in June 2009. Frank Sanchez, who donated nearly the same amount, was awarded a position as undersecretary at the Commerce Department in 2010."
Well, Hillary has to get her money somewhere. These days, she's not making it as a famous author. "Hillary Clinton's newest book is a certifiable flop by the publishing industry's standards, The New York Times reports. 'Stronger Together' sold only 2,912 copies in its first week of sales according to Nielsen BookScan, which charts about 80% of nationwide physical book sales."
Worst Charity Ever: Or so Comic Book Guy would probably say. Just 5.7% of the Clinton Foundation's massive 2014 budget actually went to charitable grants, according to the tax-exempt organization's IRS filings.
"The rest went to salaries and employee benefits, fundraising and "other expenses." The Clinton Foundation spent a hair under $91.3 million in 2014, the organization’s IRS filings show. But less than $5.2 million of that went to charitable grants. That number pales in comparison to the $34.8 million the foundation spent on salaries, compensation and employee benefits. Another $50.4 million was marked as "other expenses," while the remaining almost $851K was marked as "professional fundraising expenses.""
The IRS launched an investigation into the Clinton Foundation this past July after 64 House Republicans called the foundation a "lawless 'Pay-to-Play' enterprise that has been operating under a cloak of philanthropy for years and should be investigated" in a letter to the IRS, FBI and Federal Trade Commission.
Question Of The Day: If tomatoes are technically a fruit, does that make ketchup a smoothie?
Friday September 16, 2016
RIP: The Dodge Dart is officially dead. "Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV confirmed its product plans for the 2017 model year will not include the compact sedan - making the 2016 model year the last for the Dart. " Production will end this month.
The Dart got the ax after only four model years of production in Belvidere, Illinois. Sales were down more than 60% this year compared to 2015.
The Dart name was first used by Dodge in 1960 on a production car. A sleek concept car, the Chrysler Dart, made its first appearance in 1956.
In 1963, Dodge shook-up their line-up, replacing the small Lancer model with a restyled compact car named Dart. The Dodge Dart was a little bigger and a little more expensive than its Plymouth Valiant cousin. With prices starting at $1,983, Dodge sold over 150,000 Darts in '63.
In 1970, over 210,000 Dodge Darts found buyers.
"He Saw Aunt Mary Coming And He Jumped Back In The Alley." Wednesday was an absolutely gorgeous day. Skies were bright summer blue with absolutely no clouds - a rarity. At 11:00 am, the temperature was a pleasant 65 degrees, so I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and took a drive.
It still feels like summer of course ... because it is summer. But I'm noticing a few trees beginning to change color. Those that are still green aren't the bright spring green of a few month ago - their leaves are darker, duller and have less life.
I had the windows down and was playing the usual fifties rock-n-roll stuff, getting my dose of nostalgia for the day. Little Richard was crooning the lyrics to 'Long Tall Sally' ("Gonna tell Aunt Mary about Uncle John. He claims he got the misery but he's havin' lotsa fun, oooooh baby!"). At that point, there were no other cars visible on the country road and it really could have been 1956 ... except for the modern plastic trash cans lining the road. Wednesday is pick-up day.
Trash cans of the '50s and '60s were constructed of galvanized thin gauge steel. Within three pick-ups, they were already getting dented and rusty. By the time they were six months old, they were sufficiently bent out of shape that the lids no longer fit properly - thanks to Philadelphia trash collectors who gleefully pounded them against the edge of the truck until they became useless, ugly lumps of ruined metal. And, when a trash can is done for, what do you do with it? It's not like you can put it in the trash. Not everything in the '50s was great.
Our 25 year-old beige, injection-molded Rubbermaid Bruiser trash can still looks and performs like new. Its wheels roll freely and the can is free of dents and cracks. Plastic trash cans do not have Moon Landing significance technologically but, while not very exciting, they are a ten-fold improvement over the old galvanized ones.
If NASA ever needs trash cans on the moon, I hope the scientists do their value-engineering calculations and pick a Rubbermaid one. After all, Rubbermaid, like long, tall Sally is "built sweet. She's got everything that Uncle John needs, oooooh baby!"
How I Learned About Timing Belts: You probably know about timing belts from seeing those big ones powering blowers on hot rods and dragsters.
My introduction to timing belts began with a senior year Creative Engineering project at Villanova University. The specific project was to develop a stair-climbing wheelchair.
This was a continuing project on which several student groups had been assigned in prior years. The other student assignments had never gotten beyond the drawing board stage.
My good friend, Mike Stevenson (1943-92), and I partnered on this assigned project. Both of us were Mechanical Engineering majors. We came up with a new user-powered design, where the wheel of the chair transmitted power through a worm drive so the chair wouldn't reverse and run down the stairs if the user let go of the wheel (worm drives provide one-way power transmission). Our design left the tracks in the 'up' position for normal chair operation; they would pivot down below the chair's wheels for stair-climbing duties.
Our professor, George H. Auth, looked over our new design and said, "Looks good. Now, build it." But we had no money and the school offered no funding, so he encouraged us to go out and "beg" for components.
Mike and I actually drove to Ohio in a winter snowstorm (in his '62 Ford Galaxie convertible) to visit the chief engineer at American Wheelchair Co. He thought the stair-climbing idea was "a little nuts" but donated a wheelchair to the cause anyway. What a trip. It was so cold that the door locks on the car froze. I remember trying to hold the passenger door closed while Mike drove like a maniac to be on time for our appointment at American Wheelchair.
Our design called for a tracked belt drive. After some research, we decided to use a commercially-available timing belt turned inside out so that ... (more >>>)
As Futurama's Bender Would Say, "Which One Of You Meat Bags Is Worth More?" Recently, Charles G. Hill linked to a website that ponders the rapid-decision-making process two self-driving cars must make when they are about to crash.
It's cold, calculating and frightening:
I think I'll just keep driving my human-powered, connectivity-free '39 Plymouth coupe. And life-or-death decisions will be made by me. Or God.
The Grift Never Stops: Wells Fargo Bank's fraud department has been inundated with calls from low-income Clinton supporters reporting repeated unauthorized charges.
"Hillary Clinton's campaign is stealing from her poorest supporters by purposefully and repeatedly overcharging them after they make what's supposed to be a one-time small donation through her official campaign website. ... The overcharges are occurring so often that the fraud department at one of the nation's biggest banks receives up to 100 phone calls a day from Clinton's small donors asking for refunds for unauthorized charges to their bankcards made by Clinton's campaign. One elderly Clinton donor, who has been a victim of this fraud scheme, has filed a complaint with her state's attorney general and a representative from the office told her that they had forwarded her case to the Federal Election Commission."
Clinton donors who call in will attempt to resolve the issue with the campaign first but they never get anywhere. So, they end up calling the bank. A source inside the bank said that "he's apolitical but noted that the bank's fraud department is yet to receive one call from a Donald Trump supporter claiming to have been overcharged by Trump's campaign. “I'm only talking to you because what Hillary's doing is so messed up, she's stealing from her poorest supporters."
Hillary's not exactly looking out for the little guy, is she? The woman belongs in a basket full of deplorables.
Best Wishes From An Absentee: Tomorrow, my classmates from the 1961 graduating class of Saint Joe's Prep will be celebrating their 55th high school reunion in Philadelphia. I hope everyone has a good time.
I attended every class reunion up to and including the 50th (which I wrote about here), but I then announced that enough is enough and that I would not be returning to Philadelphia again. I had a wonderful time at the 50th reunion and am fond of the many friends I made at the school. There were 197 guys in my graduating class; to date, 39 have died.
Since moving to the Pacific Northwest 38 years ago, I've been back to Philly about 20 times. Every time my wife and I visit, there are fewer people to see (some have died, some have moved away) and the changes in the area make it seem much less familiar. Even though we were both born and raised in Northeast Philadelphia, we decided that our 2011 trip would be our last.
During our last visit, Philly's downtown district looked grim. It seemed like a third of the retail spaces on Market Street were vacant. Lots of empty storefronts on South St. too. The once-tony Gallery downtown shopping mall is now anchored by a K-Mart. In the 1970s ... (more >>>)
Question Of The Day: Is it wrong that only one company makes the game Monopoly?
Wednesday September 14, 2016
No Show: Porsche, has announced that it will be skipping the 2017 Detroit Auto Show. Not only has the cost of appearing at the Detroit Show become prohibitive, according to Reuters and other media sources, but the value of being in Detroit became suspect.
Porsche has decided to focus on two shows instead: New York and Los Angeles, its single most important market. This is a good move on Porsche's part. The Detroit Auto Show is important but this market isn't important to Porsche, so the company is making the right decision for the brand.
One hundred years ago, auto shows were the only way to view offerings from the numerous smaller manufacturers. Not much was needed: a row of automotive offerings, a bit of bunting, a small sign and some pamphlets to distribute. By the mid-1950s, shows had become fancier with rotating turntables, voluptuous spokesmodels and four-color brochures. These auto extravaganzas provided the public with an opportunity to see models in all the different trim and color styles available and gaze upon the dreamy and very futuristic concept cars offered by Detroit.
The cost of a good display at a major auto show is said to cost upwards of $50 million. Which begs the question, "Does that manufacturer get $50 million in free publicity and/or increased sales as a result?" Porsche is answering "no" and scaling back.
Big Price; Little Price: An original, unrestored 1956 Porsche 550 Rennsport Spyder sold for $6.1 million at auction.
"Influenced by the racing spyders developed by Walter Glockler and engineer Hermann Ramelow, Porsche's 550 Spyder was a car designed to serve two masters. Light in weight and blessed with impeccable balance and handling, the 550 Spyder was a racing car designed with an advanced overhead-camshaft, air-cooled, horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine that squeezed 110 horsepower out of just 1.5-liters. Equipped with lights, directional signals and a horn, it was also capable of being driven on the road, eliminating (in theory, anyway) the need to trailer the car to and from events."
Well ... (more >>>)
Endless Summer: We've been having a dose of good weather lately around these parts, which made me think of the Beach Boy's album of yore. Sunny, with nearly cloudless skies - high temperatures in the low 80s; sweater weather as the sun goes down.
At 10:00 am Monday - realizing that the roads would be school-bus free by then, I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and took a nice drive. It was 60 degrees outside and Mt. St. Helens is still snow-free. A not-so attractive half ball of mud in late summer, Mt. St. Helens looks like a slightly squashed Hostess Sno-Ball when it's covered in white stuff. Any attractive shape it had disappeared after the 1980 eruption.
I had a nice drive along the back roads of northern Clark County. I took another drive Tuesday morning under equally-gorgeous skies. The temperature was a few degrees warmer - very pleasant. Gotta get these old car drives in while I can.
Book Review: 'Crisis of Character' by Gary J. Byrne
Last month, the author has been making the rounds of various political shows talking up his book on the Clintons, especially Hillary. Who can blame him? This book will hit the remainder bins hours after the November presidential election.
Gary J. Byrne worked in the Clinton White House as Secret Service officer - Uniformed Division. He saw lots of stuff, of course, but not so much first-hand. Most of the book is ... (more >>>)
Hacking The Hacker: There has been much online commentary about Hillary Clinton wearing an earpiece during the Matt Lauer's NBC Presidential Forum last week. I'm sure you know that Hillary's the one with the hacking cough and other ailments.
In the later part of Mae West's life, she made the 1978 movie 'Sextette'. Mae was 85 years-old and a little out of it so the movie producers hooked up a transmission device to her earpiece so that they could feed her lines to speak. Unfortunately, the little radio began to pick up police calls and, in the middle of a scene, Ms. West suddenly blurted out, "Altercation on Melrose and Sunset. Approach with caution." The frequency was changed, but she began picking up signals from a traffic helicopter and began to report conditions on the Hollywood Freeway.
If Hillary wears that earpiece again during one of the debates, maybe someone will hack it and have her report an altercation on Melrose and Sunset. Could be fun to watch.
Weekend At Hillary's: Karl Denninger is convinced that Hillary Clinton has Parkinson's disease and makes a somewhat compelling case for his prognosis. He's not the only one who thinks there's much more to Hillary's health problems than she or her minions are disclosing. Google 'Hillary Parkinson's' and almost 700,000 results appear.
Every time on the television, someone is replaying the video of Hillary collapsing as she heads towards her big, black van. I've seen it more times than the Zapruder film.
Denninger wrote that the "progressively destructive neurological condition" should cause Ms. Clinton to withdraw from the campaign: "Hillary Clinton is unfit to be President of the United States, or, for that matter, to hold any public or other office where performance is required on a no-notice basis because even with full notice and warning she is unable to manage her condition and remain neurologically intact and unimpaired during the time required, even with the best medical attention that our current level of technology can offer."
I'm increasingly suspicious that Hillary has something far more profound than pneumonia but I'm not sure we'll ever get the truth from the Clintons. If Hillary died, her campaign spinmeisters would likely claim that her rigor mortis was "'improved posture' as a result of spine-straightening exercises, while 'powering through' her illness." Or "just a touch of arthritis."
Probably Late For A Golf Game: On Sunday, President Obama moved up the Pentagon's 9/11 Moment of Silence from the planned 9:37 am start time - that's when the plane hit the Pentagon 15 year's ago - because he arrived early and was in a hurry.
What a disrespectful, self-centered jerk. On Monday, Obama marked the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha with a call for the U.S. to welcome refugees and immigrants - Muslim ones, of course. No Christians allowed in; of the refugees taken in by the U.S. in 2016 so far, only 0.7% have been non-Muslim.
Science Is All Wet: An article in The Daily Mail proclaimed that all those warnings to "keep hydrated" are "hogwash."
"Chivvied by preachy reminders, millions of us are now paranoid about suffering a plague of ills if we don't carry extortionately priced bottles of water at all times. You see the results of this mania every day in streets, shops, offices and on public transport.
Adults are dutifully sipping from plastic bottles with stoppers that resemble baby bottle teats. Since the turn of the millennium, bottled water consumption in the UK has doubled."
"Yet much of the so-called scientific evidence about the dreadful effects of thirst derives from research funded by bottled water companies.
Over the past four years, studies in the respected scientific journals the Journal of Nutrition, the British Journal of Nutrition and PLoS One have reported being dehydrated by 2% or less can make people tired, confused, irritable, less intelligent and more prone to pain.
All these studies were widely described as 'independent', but they were paid for by Danone, the French food products corporation that makes Evian, Volvic and Badoit."
Quote Of The Day: No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.
Monday September 12, 2016
Colorized Beauty: The Old Motor showcased a few images of vintage automobile photos colorized by talented artist Patty Allison of Imbued with Hues. Patty is an expert photo restorer, who enjoys images that include cars and trucks and she spends the time to find the original color combos and hues that were available at the time that these vehicles were produced.
This image is a two-tone blue 1941 Packard convertible coupe promotional car and a model extolling ... (more >>>)
Back In The Saddle: When I returned from Thursday's physical therapy at 11:40 am, the temperature was already 67 degrees. The sun was out - although there were heavy clouds here and there. I decided that it was perfect old car driving weather, although old car seats aren't necessarily good for my back.
When '39 Plymouths were new, there was a taproom or tavern on almost every corner. Maybe one of the reasons is that people were simply self-medicating their back pains away. Now we have physical therapists, microwaveable heating pads and a variety of pills - OTC and otherwise - to relieve chronic back pain. In 1939, people probably would have thought that Tylenol was a low-priced model of Hudson.
Of course, in 1939, people's backs were in better shape; they didn't spend hours sitting on their asses in front of a computer screen, nor were they perpetually hunched over while texting and they got exercise from walking from place to place and running to catch trolley cars.
I've had several sessions of PT and my back is definitely improving. I had a pleasant drive in my '39 Plymouth coupe on lightly traveled roads, although I must admit that I was sometimes wishing the Plymouth had my Lexus' 20-umpteen-way seat adjustment.
On Friday, it was a very comfortable 62 degrees at 11:00 am, so I took another drive under almost cloudless skies and on nearly empty roads. On Saturday at 9:00 am, the temperature was a cool 57 degrees. It was gorgeous out - cloudless, still-summer blue skies which encouraged old car driving. I'm glad I did so; the roads were lightly traveled because most people were sleeping in.
Perhaps It's Just Kennel Cough: If the continuing FBI information dumps, the multitude of missing communication devices (How can she lose so many? I still have my rotary-dial Mickey Mouse phone from 1978.) and the drip-drip-drip of more e-mail revelations isn't enough, there's Hillary's many lengthy coughing fits, her medical history and the fact that she blames the concussion she suffered in 2012 for not "recalling" certain key aspects of her behavior as Secretary of State, combine to make her health a subject for major discussion.
She also said that, unlike Donald Trump, she's "not going to Mexico before the election." Medical quarantine, perhaps?
Personally, I'm not too worried about her cough. She probably just caught something from all those foreign interest who were coughing up dough for The Clinton Foundation.
On the other hand, she fainted yesterday during a ceremony at the September 11th Commemoration Ceremony in New York City. It wasn't the heat; the temperature was reportedly barely over 70 degrees at the time she became ill and the humidity was less than 50%. The Secret Service rushed her out to her waiting black van. She felt 'overheated' (then why didn't she remove her heavy jacket?), stumbled off the curb and then her knees buckled. She lost a shoe in the process. It's time to start asking serious questions about whether Hillary Clinton is medically fit to be president.
But Wait, There's More: Doing her best Eva Peron 'Everyone Else Is The Enemy Of The State And Must Be Banished' imitation, "Hillary Clinton told an audience of donors Friday night that half of Donald Trump's supporters fall into "the basket of deplorables," meaning people who are racist, sexist, homophobic or xenophobic."
This was reported by CNN, although one of the sentences was so stereotypical that it read like something parodied by The Onion: "Clinton made the comments before introducing Barbra Streisand at an LGBT fundraiser in downtown New York."
Meanwhile, Hollywood lib Rob 'Meathead' Reiner doubled down, saying that it is impossible to level with the Republican presidential nominee's bigoted supporters, who are "mostly white males who don't have college degrees." He added that there's "a very serious strain of racism" that runs through those supporting the Republican presidential nominee. Yes, and liberals made that same hackneyed false charge against The Tea Party.
Trump spokesman Jason Miller wrote that Hillary "ripped off her mask and revealed her true contempt for everyday Americans." Indeed she did - so much for that oft-mentioned liberal 'tolerance'. There is an air of panic and desperation in the Clinton campaign. They are freaked that Trump is getting very close in the polls. Why, it's enough to make one .... swoon.
VP candidate Mike Pence said that "no one with a record of failure at home and abroad, no one with her avalanche of dishonesty and corruptions, and no one with that low opinion of the American people should ever be elected president of the United States of America." He added, "The truth of the matter is that the men and women who support Donald Trump's campaign are hard-working Americans, farmers, coal miners, teachers, veterans, members of our law enforcement community, members of every class of this country who know that we can make America great again." Well said, Mr. Pence.
Reince Priebus added, "Hillary Clinton is showing her outright contempt for ordinary people and proving yet again why Americans overwhelmingly regard her as dishonest and untrustworthy. ... Millions of Americans are supporting Donald Trump because they are sick of corrupt career politicians like Hillary Clinton who regard what voters think as an afterthought. The truly deplorable thing in this race is the shameful level of condescension and disrespect Hillary Clinton is showing to her fellow citizens."
Hillary Clinton - aka: Evita of the Ozarks - and her ilk have scraped the bottom of the barrel by painting Trump supporters as "irredeemable" - hopeless moral lepers who should be banished from the U.S. because, said Hillary, such people are "not America." Maybe Hillary Peron meant Argentina.
And maybe "irredeemable" is a nod to the Nazis' "untermensch." Many of them were banished to the gas chambers after Hitler took charge. Don't let it happen here.
Nuttin' Else To Do: Peggy Noonan observed a Hillary Clinton rally. She wrote of The Pantsuited One (not The Prosecuted One, sadly), "If she weren't here, she'd be in an empty house in Chappaqua, NY, the focus of no eyes - not important, not glamorous, no aides or staffers. I thought: She needs to run, it's this or reruns on Bravo. I thought: This is why you pick up that there is no overarching purpose, theme or mission to her candidacy - because there isn't. There is only her need - not to be powerless, not to be away from the center. It's not The America Project, it's The Hillary Project.
You see that a lot in politicians, but not always those running for president. That night I think I saw it in her."
It's all about public adoration. And something to do. And The Money, of course.
Breaking Bad: As for smashing all those Blackberries of hers, perhaps at rallies Hillary should be playing the leftist anthem by those musical icons, Peter Paul and Mary: 'If I had A Hammer'.
Maybe The Parks Service Should Take Over EBT Card Management: The Food Stamp Program, done with Electronic Benefit Transfer cards and administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, cheerfully feeds 46 million people.
Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us 'Please Do Not Feed the Animals'. The stated reason for the policy is because "the animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves."
Quote Of The Day: "Women sometimes make fools of men, but most guys are the do-it-yourself type."
Thursday September 8, 2016
Leasing Trends: Edmunds.com has released its analysis of the leasing market for the first half of 2016.
The latest six months "closed with 2.2 million leased vehicles, which is higher than any first half of a year in history. It represents an increase of 13% over the first half of 2015. Lease volume has doubled in size from just 5 years ago."
Buyers aged 75+ are embracing leasing in a big way and have experienced the largest increase in leasing when compared to other age groups. Leasing penetration has increased 74% among these buyers in the past five years. "While there are many social changes that had led to the increase in leasing, the affordability factor seems to be the chief driver."
Then there's the younger set: "With a need for low payments and a proclivity for technology, it's no surprise that Millennials have the highest concentration of lessees. This group is conditioned to the idea of monthly payments for goods and services as well as product upgrades every few years."
The fastest growing brand in leases is Land Rover. Women are more likely to lease vehicles than men.
People Will Buy Any Kind Of Crap: Consider this bobble head of Amelia Earhart, the aviation pioneer who perished in 1937 when her Lockheed Model 10 Electra went down in the central Pacific during an attempt to make a circumnavigational flight of the globe. It seems disrespectful ... (more >>>)
Opposing Views: In 1992, Bill Clinton famously said about the most important issue in the election, "It's the economy, stupid." In 2016, history is repeating itself because, once again, it's about the economy. Americans - except those who collect a government paycheck of some kind - are looking for a president who will cure our sick economy, bring much-needed growth and add jobs. Especially since the labor participation rate is at its lowest point in decades.
Scott Grannis wrote, "Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are a study in contrasts. She wants to double-down on Obama's policies - higher taxes, more regulation, and more income redistribution - despite those policies being the most likely culprits for the miserably slow growth of the past seven years. She believes that government can redirect the economy's scarce resources and thereby create more jobs and growth in the process.
Being a businessman, Trump understands that people and businesses respond to incentives. He proposes to slash corporate taxes and reduce regulatory burdens in order to incentivize job creation and make it easier to start and run a business. Clinton believes in the power of government - despite its many and manifest failures - while Trump believes in the power of market forces and free enterprise, which over the years and across many countries have proven to be the true engines of prosperity."
If you care about improving the weak Obama-economy, obviously Trump's your man.
Book Review: '18 Holes With Bing: Golf, Life, and Lessons from Dad' by Nathaniel Crosby
There are numerous books about Bing Crosby, including the unflattering tome by his sourpuss son, Gary, titled 'Going My Own Way'. It portrayed Bing as cruel, cold, remote, and both physically and psychologically abusive.
In 1980 or thereabout, I was reading another hatchet job, 'Bing Crosby: The Hollow Man'. My mom was visiting and, seeing the paperback, remarked, "I'm glad your dad didn't live to see you reading that trash." She then told me the story that, when my dad was in California training for action in he Pacific Theater during World War II, he was in a bar with his Navy buddies when Bing Crosby walked in and picked up the bar tabs for everyone in uniform. Nice guy.
There are lots of stories about ... (more >>>)
Quote Of The Day is from Detective Lt. Frank Drebin on 'Police Squad': "I knew I had to stay on my toes, just like a midget at a urinal."
Tuesday September 6, 2016
This Too Shall Pass: The Honda Element was a Civic-based box van with a maximum combined payload of 675 pounds. It was produced between 2003 and 2011.
The Element's first few years on the market were fairly successful, then sales dwindled. In its first year, over 67,000 were sold. Sales averaged well north of 50,000 units per year during the first four years of its life. In 2003, Honda sold more of the cars than it did in the vehicle's final 3 years combined.
The Element is gone but not forgotten and commands fairly high prices on the used car market. Jack Baruth wrote, "It's extremely popular with the outdoor crowd of mountain bikers, campers, and hikers, thanks to its open interior and rubber-lined durability." A TTAC commenter noted that "there is nothing on sale today that combines AWD with a hollowed-out bread van like the Element" and offering a washable interior.
Discontinued vehicles that have even a dull spark of iconic charm, often develop a following - at least for a while. Some examples: Edsels, Volkswagen Things, Toyota FJ Cruisers, suicide-door Lincolns, Chrysler Prowlers and early '90s Toyota Previa vans. But, in most cases, the fad dies out - replaced by something else - and prices come back down to earth.
Unprofitable Uber: Ride-hailing giant Uber Technologies Inc. posted losses of at least $1.27 billion during the first half of this year. "Subsidies for Uber's drivers are responsible for the majority of the company's losses globally, despite increasing top-line revenue."
Uber is full of surprises. Consider the reaction of 'The Simpsons' C. Montgomery Burns: "Took something called Uber, which I thought would be a Wehrmacht staff car, but turned out to be a ... (groans) Prius, driven by a... (groans) woman."
Lyft, Uber's chief competitor, is also losing money in the U.S.
Labor Day Sun ... Finally: The last several days have been overcast and rainy. But on Monday afternoon, the sun finally came out, so I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and went for a drive. It was definitely sunglasses weather but there were a multitude of puffy clouds, some of them dark gray.
It didn't really feel like summer; at 2:30 pm, the temperature had only reached 62 degrees. Traffic was light to non-existent and I had a good ride.
Later, I cooked a large fillet which my wife and I shared along with a bottle of 2014 Select Cuvée Cabernet Sauvignon from Steeplechase Cellars of California's North Coast. This wine was a gift for our 50th Wedding Anniversary (Thanks, Tommy!) and was very flavorful.
We had celebrated Labor Day on Sunday afternoon (after the sun finally appeared) with burgers, hot dogs and homemade potato salad.
Zoom! Tom McMahon wrote, "Older women like Hillary but alas, Time has passed them by like a cute blonde in a Ferrari."
Pay For Play: A liberal journalist who has moderated forums hosted by the Clinton Global Initiative offered a brutal takedown of the organization, describing it as "creepy," "disgusting" and "gross."
Adam Davidson, who hosts a show for NPR and has written for 'New York Magazine', also said during an appearance on Slate's 'Political Gabfest' podcast this week, that the Bill and Hillary Clinton-controlled group's events are "all about buying access." And later in the podcast, he said that the Clinton Foundation has made the Clintons "beholden to scumbags."
An Associated Press investigation found that more than half of the private individuals Clinton met with as secretary of state were Clinton Foundation donors.
Also creepy is the fact that Hillary dresses like Captain Kangaroo and wears heavy wool even in stifling hot weather.
Quote Of The Day is from George Carlin: "Think of how stupid the average person is and realize that 50% of them are stupider than that."
Friday September 2, 2016
August Auto Sales: As the industry's multi-year, record-setting sales pace begins to slow, estimated light vehicle sales were at a 16.9 million SAAR (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate) in August, down about 5% from August 2015, and down 5% from the official 17.8 million annual sales rate last month.
General Motors sales fell 5% to 256,429 vehicles. Cadillac was the only brand to post a sales gain, with a 4% increase to 16,346 units. GMC sales fell 14%, Chevrolet sales fell 4% and Buick sales fell 3%.
Year over year, sales rose 3% at Fiat Chrysler to 196,756 units. The Jeep brand posted a sales gain of 12% year over year - the Jeep Cherokee posted a sales gain of 41%, the Compass posted a gain of 29% and Grand Cherokee sales rose 12%.
Sales of the firm's Chrysler brand dived 22% as sales of the Chrysler 200 fell 66% to 4,210. Sales of the Chrysler 300 rose 22% to 5,275 units. The all-new Pacifica minivan posted sales of 7,459. FCA's Dodge brand sales rose 5% in August. The Journey compact SUV got a substantial sales boost of 40% to 11,732 units sold in August. Fiat sales countinud to tumble; only 2,732 cars found buyers last month - a drop of 21%.
Ford Motor Co. reported a U.S. sales decrease of 9% year-over-year, to 214,482 Ford and Lincoln vehicles. Truck sales fell 1.6% for the month, and sales of F-Series pickups (the number one selling U.S. vehicle) fell 6% to 66,946 units. Truck sales comprised more than 41% of all Ford sales in August and F-Series pickups accounted for more than 31% of total August sales.
Sales of the company's SUVs posted a decline of 1% in August. Explorer sales fell 16% and Flex sales dropped 40% to 1,828 vehicles. Edge sales were down 5%, while Expedition sales leaped 68%. Sales of the all-new, all-ugly Transit utility van totaled 11,993 units in August, up 17% compared with last year's less-ugly edition.
Sales of the Lincoln brand rose 7% year over year (9,243 units) as sales of Lincoln utility vehicles increased 11.8%. Car sales slipped 1.4% year-over-year in August to 3,079 units; the soon-to-be replaced MKS flagship sedan found only 325 buyers last month.
Toyota Motor Corp. sales fell 5%; Prius sales dropped 27% to 12,984 cars. Toyota sold 371 examples of its Mirai fuel-cell sedan. Nissan sales fell 7%, Volkswagen sales declined 9%, and Honda sales dropped 4%. Mazda sales declined 13% to 26,109 vehicles, while Subaru sales increased by 15% (60,418 units).
Acura sales dropped 7% to 14,246 vehicles, Audi was up 3% (19,264) and the new stand-alone luxury brand Genesis moved 1,497 vehicles in August. BMW sales declined 8% (25,531 units); Lexus sales also dropped 8% to 30,398 vehicles; only 457 of its LS flagship sedan found buyers. Sales of Mercedes-Benz vehicles increased 3% to 31,556. Volvo sales rose 31% to 7,682 vehicles. Jaguar sales were up a whopping 189% to 3,298 vehicles. Only 37 Alfa-Romeos found buyers in last month - a drop of 62% from August 2015. Even Smart outsold Alfa with 353 mini cars sold, a drop of 43%.
Finally, Bentley sales increased 75% year-over-year to 399 vehicles but YTD sales were still off 28%. Maserati sales fell23% in August to 958 units. Well, hedge funds haven't done so well this year either.
Boom! A truck carrying Takata air bag inflators and propellants exploded in Texas, resulting in one death and four injuries.
The semi truck was traveling toward a Takata facility in Eagle Pass, TX, when the incident occurred. The company's Eagle Pass warehouse stocks airbag inflators manufactured at Takata's plant in Monclova, Mexico.
Retail Shift: Mark J. Perry published a graph which illustrates "some Schumpeterian creative destruction going on in the retail space, as the number of employees working at US department stores has collapsed from nearly 1.8 million jobs in 2001 to a record-low of only 1.31 million in July."
Nearly half-a-million department store jobs that have evaporated in the last 15 years. It's likely that increased ... (more >>>)
Headline Of The Week is from The Onion: 'Clinton Debunks Rumors About Health By Telling Audience Exact Day She Will Die'.
Coincidence? Or What?! Peter Paul Reubens painted great, fleshy mounds. Peter Paul Mounds tastes great after a Reuben sandwich. (permalink)
Quote Of The Day: He who laughs last thinks slowest.
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