Fractal Friday

Fractal: Noun, a curve or geometric figure, each part of which has the same statistical character as the whole. Fractals are useful in modeling structures (such as eroded coastlines or snowflakes) in which similar patterns recur at progressively smaller scales, and in describing partly random or chaotic phenomena such as crystal growth, fluid turbulence, and galaxy formation OR Adjective, relating to or of the nature of a fractal or fractals. Synonyms for the adjective: unmethodical · uncoordinated · undirected · disorganized · unarranged · unplanned · unpremeditated · indiscriminate · random · inconsistent · desultory · patchy · fragmentary · sketchy · sporadic · spasmodic · fitful · inconstant · intermittent · irregular · erratic · stray · spot · casual · occasional · haphazard · chaotic · nonlinear · entropic


On this day in 1863, which was also a Friday, the Battle of Gettysburg ended with a Union (Northern) victory. The battle was the largest ever fought on the American continent, as well as the costliest one in terms of casualties in US history with about 50,000 in the three days.

Gettysburg is almost certainly the most studied battle by American military historians and many people are far more qualified than I to discuss the details and ramifications. Many of those who have studied it, but not all, consider Gettysburg to be the turning point in the Civil War in that Robert E. Lee’s army did not attempt any more strategic offensives.

You may think I have completely lost my mind, but I am more convinced than ever that the US as we know it will not exist in 50 or 100 years. Some catalysing event, most likely the election of a President with extreme views, will cause those states opposed to that election to leave the country. Of course, that is what happened before the Civil War as the election of Abraham Lincoln was the “last straw” for Southern states and, beginning with South Carolina, a total of 13 states seceded from the country.

This time, however, I think the states that were responsible for creating the event will bid good riddance to those states that want to leave the US. What happens to national defense, maintenance of interstate highways, collection of taxes and disbursement of government revenues, etc. are impossible to know in advance. However, in the American political world, real debate has ended. Each side simply yells louder and louder often engaging in nothing but propaganda and lies. An uninformed population buys the agenda that suits its a priori view of the world, almost never engaging in a rational analysis of the situation. I think “social media” is not what its advocates claim, a way to unite the world, but is instead a great divider as it makes climbing into bubbles way too easy.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


Do I even want to mention that Lincoln will not resuscitate the Continental and will, instead, build nothing but crossovers and SUVs? Not really…too depressing.


I readily acknowledge that I am an idiosyncratic person. My views and tastes often defy categorization and usually, but not always, stray from the mainstream. “This above all: to thine own self be true.”

I am asking all of you to cast a vote on which of these three idiosyncratic automobiles, that have been discussed in this forum over and over (and over and over…), you prefer.



All of these photos were taken by me. The top is a Cadillac XLR, the middle is a Buick Reatta convertible (I prefer the coupe but couldn’t find a picture of one on my phone) and the bottom is a Cadillac Allante.

You can choose your favorite using any criteria you want. I would just like to read your thoughts after babbling about these cars for so long.


I will not be posting tomorrow and probably not on Sunday. I might, in fact, return to a five-day posting schedule only posting on weekends when the mood strikes. Have an enjoyable, safe and sane Fourth.







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Dissolution; Sunday Packards: October, 2019

Yesterday my wonderful wife and I attended our annual neighborhood picnic/gathering. As always, we had a marvelous time. Our neighbors are polite and friendly.

After that I attended the last “First Saturday” car show for 2019 sponsored by our local Corvette club. As always, I had a great time. The people at the show were polite and friendly.

Even though the two events were only about two miles apart, though, they might as well have been two million miles apart in terms of the attitudes towards what is happening in our country today. I remain convinced that the US is headed towards dissolution. I also don’t think that will be a bad thing although I seriously doubt I will live to see it.

I reject most policy tenets of both major parties in the US. I also reject the notion that I have to pick one. I cannot and will not vote for a candidate with whom I disagree on 75% of policy even if I disagree with the other candidate on 80% of policy. The “lesser” of two evils is still evil. I think the policy platforms of both parties are rife with inconsistencies.

The political spectrum is two-dimensional, at most. The real world is three-dimensional, at least. Do the math.


Let’s do more math, but more fun this time…

The probability that at some time in the next 2-3 years I buy a car manufactured by a defunct American car company is probably 75%. The probability that car is a Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk is also about 75%. That means, overall, a 3-in-16 chance (about 19%) exists that I will buy something other than a GT Hawk. Here are two possibilities:


See the source image

See the source image


The top photo, “courtesy” of Barrett-Jackson, is that of a 1956 Packard 400. The bottom photo, “courtesy” of Mecum, shows a 1956 Packard Executive.

I have shown photos of these cars before. I have also declared my extreme affinity for the 1956 Packard Caribbean Convertible. However, unlike my Ultimate Garage 2.0, barring some unforeseen monetary windfall a Caribbean is out of my price range. When I began publishing Ultimate Garage 2.0 in late May Hagerty gave an average value to a ’56 Caribbean Convertible of $67,000. I’m not going to spend even a third of that amount on my homage to a defunct American car company.

1956 was, of course, the last year for “real” Packards that were not badge-engineered Studebakers. That year also saw Packard adopt a “modern” 12-volt electrical system with a negative ground. Packard 400 production for 1956 (Model 5687) was 3,224 cars; production of Executive hardtop coupes was just 1,031 vehicles.

On one ’56 400 is listed with an asking price of $14,980. 56packardman has written that price is too steep for that particular car. On Hemmings one Executive is shown with a list price of $18,900.

One obstacle to buying either ’56 Packard is their sheer size. The Executive is about 215 inches long; that’s almost 18 feet. A 400 is 18 feet-plus at 218 inches. Modern garages are usually only about 20 feet deep. As a comparison, my 2016 Corvette Z06 is about 178 inches long or a shade under 15 feet.

Anyway, as I have written many times before a line from the movie Diner seems appropriate, “If you don’t have dreams you have nightmares.” I have nightmares, anyway, so I might as well try to have some nice dreams, too.








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Monday Melange

An update on yesterday’s post about iTunes: apparently, I can rip music from CDs into iTunes, but that means going through my large CD collection and “re-ripping” music that was on my previous computer. Apple has really dropped the ball on this, in my opinion.


In my previous blog I wrote a little more about economics and finance and a little less about cars. In that vein, one criticism of the tax bill that went into effect in January, 2018 was that all of the “extra” cash for corporations would go into dividends and stock buybacks and very little would go into capital expenditures, or capex.

From comes this piece written in late June, 2018 entitled, “The re-opening of the capital spending spigot.” An excerpt from the article reads, “Capital spending over the next 12 months is expected to grow at its highest level since 2012, a Deloitte survey finds. And S&P 500 first-quarter earnings results confirmed U.S. companies were investing at multi-year highs. [emphasis mine]

It’s too early to make the call on a new and enduring capex regime, but growing corporate profits, greater business confidence and tax cuts in the U.S. should support investment spending in the medium term.”

Republicans are wrong in assuming that the Marginal Propensity to Consume (MPC) and Marginal Propensity to Invest (MPI) are close to one, but Democrats are wrong in assuming that the MPC and MPI are close to zero unless the stimulus is direct government spending. Companies make decisions based on the expected net present value of future cash flows and if an investment will yield them a strong positive return, then they will be inclined to make such an investment. A higher after-tax return makes more investments potentially worthwhile.

While I will not live to see this happen, it is my fervent belief that the divide in American politics is terminally intractable and that divide will lead to the dissolution of the United States as we know it. The mindless and intolerant vitriol from both sides only shows signs of worsening.


See the source image

From a photo of a 1968 AMC AMX. The AMX was a two-seat muscle car introduced by American Motors for the 1968 model year. The AMX was, in essence, a Javelin with the wheelbase shortened and the rear seats removed although the base drivetrain was different. For example, all AMXs were equipped with V-8 engines with four-barrel carburetors. The base Javelin engine was an inline 6-cylinder with a one-barrel carburetor.

The AMX was a distinct model for only three years, 1968-1970. After that, “AMX” was the name of an option package for the Javelin. For the three years in which the AMX was a model unto its own, total sales were only about 19,000.

My wonderful wife really likes the look of these cars. I am not in agreement as I think the fastback shape is too chunky with too much metal behind the rear window. This car is one of the very few about which we disagree. I think the Javelin looks better.

See the source image

From a picture of a 1968 AMC Javelin. In my opinion, this generation of the Javelin is very underrated in terms of styling.

Do you have an opinion on the AMX and the Javelin? What cars do you think are mostly forgotten in terms of styling? As always, I hope to read your comments.