A Blog About Cars ... And Everything Else That Catches My Eye
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Monday March 10, 2014
Head Of The Class: Consumer Reports has released its 2014 Car Brand Report Cards, with Lexus again reigning at the top. Lexus' lineup was credited for being "usually quiet, comfortable, and fuel-efficient." CR noted that it was the only brand on the list "to achieve an excellent average overall reliability score."
Ford and Jeep weighed in at the other end of the rankings, Jeep taking the lowest overall score in the road tests and hampered by "a mix of spotty reliability." Ford was sunk by reliability issues with its MyFord Touch infotainment system which consumers found troublesome enough to negate its cars earning "solid test scores" for being "very nice to drive."
RIP: William Clay Ford, Edsel Ford's youngest child and the last surviving grandchild of Henry Ford, has died at age 88.
Ford served as the owner and chairman of the Detroit Lions and was briefly head of the FoMoCo's Continental Division. He championed the iconic Continental Mark II automobile. It is said there were only two pictures on his office wall, his father's Continental and his Mark II.
Restaurant Review: Hockinson Kountry Cafe; Battle Ground, WA
Once a local favorite in rural Hockinson, this restaurant moved to west Battle Ground in 2010. We've dined here often and are almost always pleased with the food and service, although the turkey platter is spoiled by a gravy that is both heavy and flavorless.
Friendly waitresses deliver food to your table quickly. Offerings are homemade, comfort in style and generous in portion. Prices are small-town reasonable. HKC's pies are ... (more >>>)
Where Would You Like To Sit? In the old days, such questions were asked so that prospective diners could select from 'smoking' and 'non-smoking'. In those times, my wife and I would reply, "We want the 'non-screaming' section." We were seeking a brat-free meal - and I'm not referring to sausage.
I'm talking about those idiot adults who drag their ill-behaved offspring to nice restaurants and don't force them to behave. Of course, these self-absorbed morons think that being a brat is a sign of precocious. Especially if it's their kid.
A few restaurants have done something about this. Unfortunately, not enough of them.
I, Robot: Congratulations to my grandson who participated in the Oregon Regional FIRST Robotics Competition. His Spartan Robotics team won the Creativity Award and made it through the semi-final rounds in Oregon City.
Why Bother Saving For Retirement? Barack Obama, the first Socialist U.S. president, plans to ask Congress to reduce some of the tax advantages for employer-sponsored retirement plans for higher-income earners. The president wants to limit the value of all tax deductions and include an overall cap on all retirement accounts, including pensions, that could bring in $1 billion a year in new tax revenue.
Anyone who has acted responsibly, saved money for retirement, has no debt and owns their own house, will be considered "rich."
By robbing retirees of their money, Barry O. will create "income equality." So we'll all be poor. Winston Churchill once said, "Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy. Its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery."
Betting On Israel: Last week, the state of California and Israel signed a historic technology-sharing agreement. Forty-plus years ago, Intel opened a small operation in Haifa. Today, Intel employs over 9,000 in Israel and its new Adam processor for mobile devices in produced there.
Israel has an entrepreneurial, tech-driven culture and turns out more engineering graduates each year than either the U.S. or Japan. Two and one-half times as much venture capital flows into Israel than the United States.
Meanwhile, in his typical, never-bet-on-winners strategy, our President is busy harassing Benjamin Netanyahu while befriending the useless, dysfunctional, terroristic Palestinians. What a moron.
Sometimes we sleep on sheets produced in Israel. Made from Egyptian cotton. Purchased at Costco. It's interesting that Israel has always had a manufacturing economy while most of the Middle East makes almost nothing; they let foreigners pump their oil (for a price) and they do a little agriculture - figs, cotton and opium, I think.
In contrast, Israel has an economy based on something real. That's who we should be supporting. 75% of Israel's 7.3 million people are Jewish. In my 70+ years on this earth, I've never met a dumb Jew.
It may not be a politically-correct adage these days, but Barack Obama should heed it:
Never bet against the Jews.
Quote of the Day is from H.L. Mencken: "If a politician found he had cannibals among his constituents, he would promise them missionaries for dinner."
Thursday March 6, 2014
A Gift Of Love: I'm late in reporting this because we were away on Valentine's Day but my wife gifted me with a 1:43 scale model of a 1972 Ford Torino hardtop coupe.
This diecast was made by Premium X Models, a firm located in Shenzhen, China. The little Torino is incredibly well-detailed, including the stump of a retracted radio antenna, painted exhaust system and even a period-correct Texas license plate.
I always liked the looks of the '72 Ford Torino. I remember reading that a soon-to-retire Ford engineer ... (more >>>)
Car Sighting: Monday was the first time I saw a Nissan GT-R being driven on the road. The $100,000 sports car seems to have every boy-racer styling cliché included in its bodywork, resulting in a very disjointed look.
Trendsetting: Southern California is the place where the future can be seen - in fashion, housing and cars.
Trends start in Southern California, jump to the Bay Area and NYC and then spread slowly westward across the remainder of the U.S. Eventually, they reach the Pacific Northwest which became the style repository of last resort for mood rings, leisure suits, disco dance floors, lapel decorations, glass block and the like.
Every rule has an exception and 'gourmet coffee' is such a case. That trend began in Seattle, jumping to Portland and the SF Bay areas simultaneously before moving south and east.
Underpants Gnome Business Model: Radio Shack appears to be on its way out of business. Fourth quarter 2013 sales plunged 19% and the firm is closing 1,100 stores. As far as I can tell, this is the Shack's business strategy:
Collect Everyone's Phone Number >>> ???? >>> Profit
When Lewis Kornfeld ran Tandy/Radio Shack in the late 1970s, he made the firm a major player ... (more >>>)
Book Review: 'The Death Of Punishment: Searching For Justice Among The Worst Of The Worst' by Robert Blecker
The author, a former prosecutor and criminal law professor, has written a passionate defense of the death penalty. He reviewed cases, interviewed inmates, toured prisons and attended trials of murderers.
While the book had some thought-provoking moments, it often ... (more >>>)
Headline Of The Week ... is from Weekly World News: 'Dalai Lama Retires - Moves To Playboy Mansion'.
Many of the 'Hef Girls' are happy to have the Dalai Lama move in. "He's a little younger than Hef, and a lot cuter," said Dolly Hart. "There's something so special about him," said Paige Peters. "I get a good vibe being around him and well ... let's just say it's a very spiritual experience being with him."
Bad Pun Of The Day: Definition of a will ... a dead give-away.
Tuesday March 4, 2014
February Auto Sales: Light vehicle sales were at a 15.3 million SAAR in February - up slightly from February 2013 and up 1.8% from last month.
Chrysler’s year-over-year sales rose 11% to 154,866 units, the company's best February sales level since 2007. Its Chrysler, Jeep, Ram Truck and Fiat brands all posted year-over-year gains in February. The Jeep brand posted a sales gain of 47% and the Ram brand posted a gain of 28%. Dodge sales were off 11% and inventories are too fat. Chrysler has a 220 day supply of Dodge Avengers and a 129 day supply of Dodge Darts.
Ford's U.S. sales fell 6% year-over-year in February to 183,947 Ford and Lincoln vehicles, compared with February 2013 sales of 195,822. Sales were down for all types of vehicles, with car sales off 14%, SUV sales off 4% and truck sales down very slightly. Lincoln brand sales were up 36% to 6,681 units, led by its entry-level MKZ sedan.
Sales at General Motors fell 1% year-over-year in February to 222,104 units. Cadillac sales dropped 3% to 13,437 vehicles. Only 58 examples of Caddy's $76,000 Volt-like ELR hybrid coupe found buyers in February. Buick sales were up 19% to 19,192 units. GM's closely watched stockpile of cars and light trucks stood at 805,769 units - equal to a disturbing 87-day supply - at the end of last month.
Sales at Toyota for the month totaled 159,284 units, down 4% compared with February 2013. Lexus sales were up by 9%, although sales of the flagship LS model dropped 27% to 589 units.
Nissan's February sales rose 15.8%% to 115,360 units, a record for the month of February. Sales of the company’s redesigned Rogue crossover rose a whopping 73% to 17,197 units year-over-year.
Subaru sales jumped 24% to 34,909 vehicles. Forester sales leaped 95%. Honda sales were down 8%, while Acura sales were up 3% led by its SUVs. Hyundai/Kia saw a 4% sales drop in February.
Volkswagen sold 27,112 units in the United States last month - a decline of 14% year-over-year, on top of a 19% drop in January sales.
On the high-priced end of things, Maserati sales soared 426%; 837 sporty, expensive Masers found buyers. Mercedes and BMW were up just of 3% each.
A Moving Experience: On Sunday morning, we moved my O-gauge train layout back into the garage. We had the layout into its storage spot by 11:45 am under light rainy conditions. The outside temperature was 39 degrees.
Everything went quite smoothly without incident.
It's All A Big Joke Until The Economy Crashes: Barry Ritholtz has noted that "1,865 pages of Federal Open Market Committee transcripts from 2008 were released to the public. Bloomberg studied the transcripts, finding, on average, about 25 references to laughter per meeting. This was almost half of the 45 giggles per FOMC meeting noted in 2007."
And these people watch over our nation's money.
Management Advice - Deceased Equine Strategies: Dakota Tribal Wisdom says that when you discover you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.
However, the Harvard Business School (in a project underwritten by several well-known consulting groups, including Accenture, the Boston Consulting Group, Deloitte Global and BearingPoint, Inc. - formerly KPMG) offers alternate proposals .... (more >>>)
Another Reason I Hate Modern Life: The Girl Scouts have hired a lesbian as 'Chief Girl Experience Officer'. I'm sure she will teach the girls some new and unusual experiences.
"The main charge leveled by Girl Scout critics concerns the leftward drift of the Girl Scouts, which was founded along conservative religious principles. The leftward drift began in the early '90s when God was made optional in the Girl Scout promise. This precipitated the founding of American Heritage Girls and the first widespread exit from the Girl Scouts.
In the ensuing years, social liberals insinuated themselves into national leadership of the Girl Scouts so that now it is unremarkable when they feature and promote women who are offensive to the sensibilities of hundreds of thousands of traditional-minded moms, including: Betty Friedan; Gloria Steinem; Hillary Clinton; Kathleen Sibelius, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and chief promoter of the Obamacare contraceptive mandate; and Wendy Davis, advocate for late term abortions."
Quote Of The Day is from James Lileks on service windows/counters/stations at the Dept. of Motor Vehicles: "They should never, ever build more windows than they need. Or rather they should hide the ones not in service, because you sit there looking at the empty windows, imagining public servants in the back working on a box of Krispy Kremes like vultures on a dead water buffalo, and you begin to fume."
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