Where Were You When?

Obviously, I am referring to the killing of John F Kennedy on this day in 1963. As the median age of the US is still under 40 (although probably not for long), most people alive today were not alive when Kennedy died on that day in Dallas.

Even though I was only about 3 1/2 years old, I remember that day. My younger sibling (from whom I have been estranged for a long time) was upstairs taking a nap. I was downstairs on the sofa reading–yes, reading–while my mother was watching TV, As The World Turns. My older sister was in school.

At first, the news broke that Kennedy had been shot. It was not for another hour, I believe, that word broke that he had died. My mother began screaming and crying although I don’t remember for how long. Remember that my mother, a Holocaust survivor, had only been in the US six years when Kennedy was killed.

As I have written before, I concur with the theory of ballistics expert Howard Donahue as laid out in Bonar Menninger’s book, Mortal Error. Donahue presents compelling evidence that while Lee Harvey Oswald shot at Kennedy in an attempt to assassinate him, the fatal shot was an accident as a Secret Service agent in the motorcade accidentally discharged his weapon. People are going to believe what they want to believe, but if an open-minded person studies the information I think it is difficult, although not impossible, to reach any other conclusion.



Some have called that event the end of innocence in the US, but I think that is a temporally arrogant view. For example, I can’t imagine that the Civil War and assassination of Abraham Lincoln didn’t have a profound effect on the country even if electronic communication hadn’t yet been invented.

I also recall watching Lee Harvey Oswald being killed two days later in the basement of Dallas Police Headquarters as it was shown on live TV. I am in no position to say if the events of those few days left a lasting impact on me as I have no frame of reference to do so.


On a (much) lighter note, legendary automobile designer Harley Earl was born on this day in 1893. Earl was really the father of the Corvette being influenced by the European sports cars he saw on a trip to Watkins Glen. He was the first top executive ever appointed in design of a major corporation in American history. Credit should be given to the man who hired Earl for that position, then GM President/CEO Alfred Sloan. (Yes, I am sure I have written about Earl in a post on this day in the past.)

I have often dreamed of having a replica built of a famous concept car in the very unlikely event that my wonderful wife and I win a huge lottery jackpot. As much as I love the design of Tom Tjaarda’s Rondine, I think that I would try to have a replica of this car built first.


The Buick Y-Job, the First Concept Car, Designed and Built in 1938 - Flashbak


This is the Buick Y-Job. Designed by Harley Earl, who is behind the wheel, and produced in 1938, it was the auto industry’s first concept car. By the way, Earl drove this car until 1951. Again, the sad irony that Buick produced this car and at this moment in time doesn’t manufacture anything except SUVs is very disquieting to me.

Although I have to admit that current trends in the automobile industry have robbed me of some of my enthusiasm, my profound feelings of wonder and admiration for cars like the Y-Job have not diminished. If I could afford it, which I cannot, I would pay a seven-figure sum to have a replica of this car built for me.







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A Or B?, Million-Dollar Concept Car Edition

First…the death of former Houston Astros pitcher JR Richard struck close to home. He was one of the first players, if not the first, whose career I followed who didn’t play for the Baltimore Orioles.

I subscribed to The Sporting News at age 10. That publication opened my world to baseball beyond Baltimore. Its minor league coverage was a revelation to me. In this age of Internet Instant Information it is difficult for younger people, and even older ones, to understand a time when not everything was chronicled and available 24/7 in real time.

I first learned about Richard in The Sporting News. The Astros had jumped him over class Double-A to Triple-A in 1971, when he was just 21. He finished his minor league season with 202 strikeouts in just 173 innings and a fine 2.45 ERA.

Richard made his major league debut that September and in his first major league game he amassed 15 strikeouts. That is still the major league record for most strikeouts by a pitcher in his major league debut.

Despite the auspicious start, Richard’s control (lack thereof, more specifically) held him back and he didn’t establish himself as a regular major league starting pitcher until 1975. In time, he became one of the best and most intimidating pitchers in baseball.

Richard was 6-foot-8 and threw very hard. He was death on right-handed hitters (Richard threw right-handed). In his ill-fated final season of 1980, right-handed hitters hit just .124 (or .144, I’m not sure) against him.

Richard joined Nolan Ryan and Sandy Koufax as the only pitchers in major league history with consecutive seasons with 300+ strikeouts when he accomplished that feat in 1978 and 1979. He also led the league in ERA in 1979.

He was off to an amazing start in 1980, despite suffering from arm fatigue. He threw four shutouts in just 17 starts, compiled an excellent 1.90 ERA, and–of course–had more strikeouts than innings pitched. Apparently, that’s fairly common in today’s baseball, but wasn’t in Richard’s time.

His season, his career, and very nearly his life came to an end on July 31, 1980 when he suffered a major stroke. Richard had been complaining of arm fatigue and numbness and tingling in his pitching hand all season, but many did not believe him and doctors at Houston Methodist Hospital cleared him to play on July 25.

His post-baseball life was difficult. By the winter of 1994 Richard was homeless and living under a highway overpass in Houston. He was befriended by a church minister and began working at an asphalt company.

I don’t know if he had been vaccinated against the damn virus, but Richard died in a Houston hospital on Wednesday, August 4th and his family claimed he had been suffering from COVID-19 complications. From Pinterest a picture of James Rodney (JR) Richard:


See the source image


I almost split today’s content into two posts. Yes, A Or B? returns. This edition is total fantasy.

You have stumbled onto a million dollars and decide you want to build a faithful replica of a famous concept car. One is the first concept car, the Buick Y-Job of 1938. The other is Tom Tjaarda’s legendary Rondine. You can only build one and you can assume that both will be fully modern underneath the skin. Which one do you want?


See the source image



The Y-Job was fully functional and was very much ahead of its time, including electric-powered windows and a power-operated convertible top.

Yes, this is total fantasy, but what a dream! I think if my wonderful wife and I actually won $50+ million in a lottery, finding a company to build one of these would be one of the first things I would do. So, which one would you have built?









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16 Tacos

Originally I was going to title today’s post “40 Days and 40 Nights” because, counting today, that’s how much is left of the year 2020. I decided that was too much “on the nose.”

My wonderful wife and I have been in Arizona for about three weeks. In that time I have eaten 16 tacos from Jack In The Box. If any of them are reading I can imagine the reaction of the food fascists, “Ew, those aren’t real tacos. How can you eat that stuff?” Uh, being smug, self-righteous and arrogant is no way to go through life. (Yes, an Animal House reference, sort of.)

I love Jack In The Box tacos. The only concession I’ve made to age is that I order them without the sauce. From the time we left Texas almost 13 years ago until our move here my access to Jack In The Box had been extremely limited. I am making up for lost time.

I doubt I will continue to average almost a taco a day, but I will have them whenever I want. From a site called Serious Eats, a picture of those tacos:


See the source image


I have a long history with Jack In The Box. I have always been an avid reader. When I was young, a Jack In The Box store was next door to the library where I would borrow books and I would usually get whoever drove me to the library to stop there.

Around the time I began college that store closed as did most others in the eastern half of the country. From about 1980 until I moved to California in 1995 I did not eat at Jack In The Box.

When I moved west I remember waiting at least ten days before I went to one, perhaps in an effort to heighten the anticipation. Of course, I ordered tacos, two at first, but I think I ate at least two more. When I pulled the first one out of its envelope I couldn’t believe it. It looked and smelled exactly the same as I had remembered it and when I took my first bite it tasted exactly the same. I was euphoric.

If you don’t like their tacos, then don’t eat them. Don’t you dare tell me what I should or shouldn’t eat. My life doesn’t belong to you. When you can run three 11-minute miles three times a week (despite painful bunions and arthritis in my feet), then maybe you can have a say. Then again, maybe not.


Not “remembering” the shooting death of John F. Kennedy today is not an effort at demeaning the significance of the incident. I will say, though, that based on the limited amount of reading I have done, my “theory” is that while Lee Harvey Oswald did intend to kill JFK, he was actually killed by a bullet accidentally fired by a Secret Service agent.

This theory is outlined in the book Mortal Error (published in 1992) by Bonar Menninger. The book is based on the work of Howard Donahue, a gunsmith, sharpshooter and ballistics expert. In 2013, Australian journalist and former police detective Colin McLaren published a book and documentary both titled JFK: The Smoking Gun, examining and supporting Donahue’s theory.


See the source image

See the source image


On this day in 1893, legendary automobile stylist Harley Earl was born. The top picture (from Car Type) is the Buick Y-Job, Earl’s creation and the first “concept car.” The bottom photo (from Classic Cars) is, of course, a 1953 Corvette.

On January 1, 1928, Art and Colour, the automobile industry’s first dedicated styling department, was created by General Motors. Harley Earl was named its head and this department was, essentially, created for Earl by Alfred Sloan, President/CEO/Chairman of GM.

After seeing many cars like the Jaguar XK 120 at an event in Watkins Glen, Earl was inspired to create an American two-seat sports car. On June 2, 1952 he gave Chevrolet Chief Engineer Ed Cole (who eventually became President of GM) a sneak preview of an Art and Color mockup of the “secret” two-seat sports car, code named Opel. Cole loved the idea and pushed for permission to put the car into production. With no offense intended to the memory of Zora Arkus-Duntov, Harley Earl was the real father of the Corvette and Ed Cole also deserves much credit for its creation.









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Keep Reading

My wonderful wife and I want to offer best wishes to our friend, neighbor and regular reader of Disaffected Musings, M. Bless you and be well.

I also want to wish a Happy Milestone Birthday to my childhood friend, RC. For one or two years during elementary school he ate more dinners at our house than at his own.


I think reading, real reading and not skimming Fack Fucebook posts or tweets, is a very important activity. Here are some facts from this piece:


  • “Extensive reading was linked to superior performance on measures of general knowledge, vocabulary, spelling, verbal fluency, and reading comprehension.” – Cunningham and Stanovich, 1998
  • “In one of the most extensive studies of reading yet conducted, Anderson, Wilson, and Fielding traced reading growth to reading and reading volume. They found that the amount of time students spent reading was the best predictor of reading achievement.” – Anderson, Wilson, and Fielding (1988)
  • “It is clear that reading early in life are critical factors in student success,” – Anthony W. Marx, president of the New York Public Library, New York Times (2015)
  • “Students not reading well in third grade are 4 times more likely to drop out.” – Students First, Statistics About Education in America
  • “Differences in volume of pleasure reading between good and poor readers is massive.” – Cunningham and Stanovich, 1998
  • “Differences in reading volume make an independent contribution to growth in reading and language skills.” –  Mol & Bus, 2011
  • “Research consistently shows strong correlation to reading & academic success at all ages” – National Center for Educational Statistics
  • “Variation in time spent reading can further widen the gap in achievement between good and poor readers. Avoiding this dynamic is one reason why early intervention for reading problems is so important.” – Biemiller, 1999


I think much of this country’s ills are due to poor parenting and one of the manifestations of the state of parenting is a generation seemingly unable to read. Parents, granted feeling overwhelmed at times, use electronic devices as de facto babysitters. The path of least resistance is tempting, but it is often not the best path.


From Bertrand Russell via The Muscleheaded Blog:

“The world is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.”

From Edward R. Murrow via the same source:

“The obscure we see eventually. The completely obvious, it seems, takes longer.”


From USA Today, of all places, comes a picture gallery of concept cars that didn’t make it to production. From Wikipedia a picture of one of those concept cars and what was the first concept car, the Buick Y-Job of 1938:


See the source image


That’s Harley Earl at the wheel, by this time a General Motors Vice-President, the first “stylist” to be a VP at a large corporation. The Y-Job, built on a Buick Super chassis, had all manner of advancements that seemed very futuristic for 1938. These included power-operated hidden headlights, electrically operated windows and an electrically powered convertible top.

Earl used the Y-Job as his personal car until 1951. I think the car still looks stylish today more than 80 years after it was built. How much do you suppose it would cost to have a replica built on a modern chassis with a modern drivetrain, suspension, etc.? How much do you think the original, still residing at the GM Design Center, is worth?









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“…a confused jumble or medley of things…”

From this CNBC article comes this chart:

United States 79,595
Japan 17,915
China 16,875
Germany 15,080
Canada 10,840
France 10,120
Hong Kong* 10,010
United Kingdom 9,370
Switzerland 6,400
Italy 5,960

OK, what is it? According to data firm Wealth-X this is the number of Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) individuals in the ten countries with the most such people. Wealth-X defines UHNW as having a net worth of $30 million or more. By the way, the asterisk next to Hong Kong denotes that it is a “semi-autonomous, special administrative region of China.”

Seven percent of all American households have a net worth of $1 million or more and the number of US households with a net worth of $25 million or more has increased 73 percent since 2008. I have written this data before because I didn’t understand why a wealthy country with so many empty-nester and single-person households seemingly buys nothing but SUVs and pickup trucks. Thanks to my friend Robert I have come to the realization that it is America’s obesity that plays a major role in what vehicles the country’s citizens buy.

I have no problem with wealth as long as it is acquired legally. As I have also written before I believe that money I have legally earned, legally saved and legally invested belongs to me. Government does not have “dibs” on the entirety of a country’s wealth so that it can “fix” wealth distribution. Government exists to protect property rights, not to usurp them.


Speaking of property:

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From cargurus.com a picture of a 1995 Corvette, the next to last year of the C4 generation. Five years ago I did not care for these cars. The looks seemed bland to me and until the introduction of the “new” LT-1 engine in 1992 these cars were less than spirited performers. As I have often written, however, as I grow older my tastes have changed and I appreciate cleaner lines more. Not that I am going to buy a C4 Corvette, but if I were I would still buy something 1992 model year or newer, preferably 1995 or 1996 because the fuel injectors were improved in 1995 to deal with the effects of the corn farmers subsidy program…I mean ethanol content in gasoline.


I titled this photo “WTF Buick.” I wish I could remember the source, but it is a picture or rendering of the Buick Avista concept car. Of course, the first concept car was the Buick Y-Job from 1938:

See the source image

The photo is from cartype.com. From time to time American automobile manufacturers tease the public with stunning concept cars, but most of them never come close to production. Conceptus Interruptus


The next Barrett-Jackson auction begins soon so I thought it was about time for another Cristy Lee photo:


See the source image

From cristylee.tv…



Y-Job? No, Y-Job!


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From supercars.net a picture of the first concept car, the Buick Y-Job. This car was “designed” by the legendary Harley Earl (George Snyder probably made the actual drawing) and was produced in 1938. While it was a concept car, it was drivable and, in fact, Harley Earl drove it for years. The car had a Buick straight 8-cylinder engine (modern V-8s were a decade away) and, except for the brakes, was basically a stock Buick Super underneath the body.

See the source image

From ultimatecarpage.com another view of the Y-Job showing the waterfall grille that Buicks still have to this day. Other styling cues from this car would be used in Buicks for at least a decade afterwards.

I would never modify the actual Y-Job if I were to somehow acquire it (I doubt GM will ever sell it or relinquish ownership in any way), but if I were really wealthy I might commission someone to make a faithful replica of the body and then put a modern drive train underneath. Once a resto-modder, always a resto-modder. I think the look is timeless, but the engineering is not.