Monday Musings 58

I am going to share a long-held secret. As long as I can remember one of the manifestations of my OCD has been to utter a phrase to myself in a soft whisper. I usually do this several times a week.

The phrase used to not really be connected to what was happening at that moment. That phrase was often a variation of “The 1958 Baltimore Colts.” Today’s Monday Musings “number” reminded me of that.

Of course, I was not alive in 1958, but that team is probably the most important one in the history of my former hometown. It was Baltimore’s first major sports championship of the 20th century as the city was without major league baseball from 1903 to 1953, inclusive. As for football, Baltimore had a team in the AAFC from 1947 to 1949 and that team was included in the NFL-AAFC merger, but only lasted one season before folding. A year before the St. Louis Browns relocated to Baltimore (1954), Baltimore rejoined the NFL.

In the last ten years, the phrase is more often related to what is happening in the moment–although not necessarily at that exact moment–and, as a result, has become far less benign and far more angry. I hope the move to the desert elevates my mood, at least a little bit, and perhaps the phrase can go back to being about the ’58 Colts.

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Either tomorrow or Wednesday will be the last day I post before we move. As photobyjohnbo has pointed out, I could write some posts that would automatically publish at times I select, but I think I’ll just use this time as an organic break. PLEASE don’t forget about Disaffected Musings. Barring a horrible turn of events, I will resume posting.

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This Corvette Blogger article from two weeks ago is titled, “What The Reveal Of The C8 Lineup Tells Us About The Future Of Corvette.” First, the “obligatory” photo from said post:

 

What The Reveal Of The C8 Lineup Tells Us About the Future Of Corvette

 

From the piece:

 

“The cadence of a modern Corvette product roll-out is like the beat of a familiar song for us faithful fans.”

“First, the base model breaks cover and its newness is leveraged for all its worth. Then, over the lifespan of the car, multiple trim levels debut creating lustful thoughts from existing owners who yearn to trade up to the latest version. A clever (and profitable) strategy by Chevrolet to maintain interest and sales over the lifespan of the car.”

“The trim level names include a familiar cast of characters. Stingray, Grand Sport, Z06 and ZR1 with the only deviations being where they are slotted in the performance hierarchy.”

“While the all-new C8 is going to continue this strategy, there’s a new twist that is rarely talked about in the open air. First, we told you about the electric hybrid E-Ray trim level that will not only replace the Grand Sport, but will introduce all-wheel drive and electric propulsion to the Corvette for the first time. Combined with the LT2 V8, the hybrid will be estimated at 600hp and will slot nicely between the base model and the 650hp, flat-plane crank DOHC V8 Z06.”

“A top-of-the-line Zora model will take the E-Ray a step further with 1000hp and nest at the top of the lineup. Motor Trend brings us a deeper dive of the new model mix, but if you read between the lines, the future of Corvette unfolds further. Based on this article, when the full C8 lineup blossoms, fully half of the lineup will have hybrid-electric power.”

 

I have offered the thought that the LT2, the current base motor for the C8, will be the last pushrod engine for the Corvette. The author of this piece, Dave Cruikshank, goes one step further. He believes that the next-generation Corvette, the C9, will offer only an all-electric drivetrain and not even a hybrid setup like the McLaren P1 or Ferrari LaFerrari. It is true that long ago and very quietly, Chevrolet/GM trademarked the name “E-Ray.”

I must admit a feeling of disappointment in reading Cruikshank’s opinion. I don’t know why a modern DOHC gasoline engine can’t be offered along with hybrid and all-electric drivetrains. Yes, having three drivetrains is expensive, and Chevrolet will want to amortize its non-ICE development costs over greater output so a DOHC engine could be an impediment. Still, I strongly believe that a significant segment of the car-buying public, especially in the US, will want to continue to buy ICE-powered vehicles for decades to come. Taking that option away could be a losing strategy for the Corvette. My 2¢.

I would like to read your thoughts.

 

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#1958BaltimoreColts

#OrganicBreakFromPosting

#FutureOfTheCorvette

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Monday Musings 57

Can a brain return to its “native state” after a half-century? Before I discovered sports at the age of 8 or 9, I read about cars, science, history, countries. Some of my favorite books were just compilations of data, such as information on countries.

This morning, my “bathroom reading” was the 2008 edition of the CIA World Factbook, a compendium of facts and figures about nations, dependencies, etc. Sports books have virtually ceased to be “throne reading material.”

Most people I know, even some of those whom I have known for decades, seem to be in denial that I have reverted to my “native state.” As I have written here before, I came relatively late to the sports world. For the most part, my male neighbors and classmates were following sports by the time they were 5 or 6.

I can assure you that I am not secretly following sports, but pretending not to. I really have little to no interest in sports, anymore. If other people don’t understand or don’t approve, that’s their problem.

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On this day in 1987, also a Monday, world stock markets experienced a pronounced decline. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by a frightening 22.6%. (An equivalent percentage fall today would be almost 6,500 points on the Dow.) The S&P 500 declined by 20.4%. Some “pundits” also believed the decline was unexpected, although the Dow had fallen a total of 10% over the previous three trading days.

Because (or in spite) of action taken by the US Federal Reserve, the stock market rallied strongly on Tuesday the 20th and Thursday the 22nd. While it was almost two years (September, 1989) before the Dow reached its pre-crash levels, for calendar year 1987 it actually eked out a small 0.6% gain.

Because of “Black Monday” equity markets have instituted circuit breakers or trading curbs that temporarily shut down trading in the wake of large price declines. Based upon the idea that a cooling off period would help dissipate panic selling, these mandatory market shutdowns are triggered whenever a large pre-defined market decline occurs during the trading day.

As of the close of trading on Friday the 16th of this year, the Dow was 16.4 times higher than its close on October 19th, 1987. The S&P 500 was 15.5 times higher. A hypothetical investment worth $10,000 in an S&P “index” instrument at the close of trading on “Black Monday” would have a value of about $155,000 today, not counting dividends. If one had removed 40% from that S&P investment before trading resumed the next day, the remaining $6,000 would be worth about $93,000 today.

Unlike the stock market crash of 1929 that precipitated the Great Depression, the US economy did not enter a recession until 1990-91. US GDP grew by 3.5% in 1987 and 4.2% in 1988.

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I assume (everyone knows what happens when one assumes) that by late October, 1987 the 1988 model year cars were available. Here is one of interest to me:

 

See the source image

 

From Car Gurus (crossing my fingers the picture link doesn’t break) a picture of a 1988 Corvette. Chevrolet built 22,789 Corvettes for model year 1988, of which 15,382 were coupes like the car shown here.

The base MSRP for the 1988 Corvette coupe was $29,489; the convertible base MSRP was $34,820. Except for the 125 Callaway-installed twin-turbo cars, costing an additional $25,895, all ’88 Vettes had either 240 or 245 HP. (The Callaway had 382 HP and 562 LB-FT of torque.)

1988 represented the 35th anniversary of the introduction of the Corvette and Chevrolet marked the occasion with an anniversary edition car that was only available as a coupe. The differences in the anniversary edition were solely in appearance; 2,050 of these cars were sold.

In a world where my net worth was 10 or 20 times more than it is today, I might have a C2 restomod AND a C4 restomod. Too bad I haven’t been invested in the stock market since the mid-1980s.

 

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#BlackMonday

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Monday Musings 56

WordPress, the platform that hosts this blog, defines a week as Monday through Sunday. For the week ending yesterday, the number of views/visitors for Disaffected Musings was the highest since the record-setting week of May 25-May 31. Thanks and please keep reading. Oh, time for the commercial: Please feel free to tell your friends about the blog and to pass along the URL (https://disaffectedmusings.com), please feel free to click on any (or all) of the related posts at the bottom of each post, please feel free to “Like” any post and to submit thoughtful comments and please feel free to click on any ad in which you have genuine interest.

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On this day in 1920, 100 years ago, the legendary racehorse Man o’ War raced for the last time, winning the Kenilworth Park Gold Cup, which was actually a match race against 1919 Triple Crown winner Sir Barton, although no one used the term “Triple Crown” at that time. This was the first horserace to be filmed in its entirety. Man o’ War did not win the Triple Crown because he did not race in the Kentucky Derby.

Thoroughbred racing and the Triple Crown were not the same 100 years ago as they are today. Samuel Riddle, Man o’ War’s owner, skipped the Kentucky Derby because he felt, and he was not alone at the time, that horses should not race a mile and a quarter early in their 3-year old season.

The Blood Horse named Man o’ War as the greatest race horse of the 20th century with Secretariat at number two. I respectfully disagree, but appreciate the impact Man o’ War had on racing and on American sports in general. His funeral service in 1947 was nationally broadcast on radio. From America’s Best Racing, a picture of Man o’ War:

 

See the source image

 

I just don’t think one can compare a horse foaled in 1917 when probably 5,000 foals were born to one foaled in 1970 when almost 25,000 were born. (Yes, in the context of horses “foaled” and “born” are essentially the same word.) However, Man o’ War’s impact on thoroughbred racing endures as his sire line continues to excel through horses such as Tiznow and Tiz The Law.

My father’s gas/service station was so close to Pimlico race course that one could hear the track announcer. In the mid-1990s I was part of a group that owned a racehorse and she actually won a couple of races for us. The waning of my interest in sports in general applies to horse racing as well, but I still watch the Triple Crown races and the Breeders Cup.

Is anyone reading a fan of horse racing? I would very much like to read any comments you might have.

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Our move to the desert is supposed to be getting closer. Part of me will not believe it until (if?) it happens, but I think part of me is getting anxious. Without getting into disturbing detail, for a few days I have been suffering from what could be physiological manifestations of anxiety.

How can I calm down? Well, my running usually helps, at least for 4-6 hours, but so does this:

 

See the source image

 

From owlshead.org a picture of a 1967 Corvette convertible with the auxiliary hardtop in place. I think that is the best automotive shape in American history, much like I think Secretariat is the greatest racehorse in American history.

I estimate the probability of my buying/building a restomod based on a ’67 Vette as very low, but not zero and not as low as the odds of winning the Mega Millions or Powerball. What is life without dreams?

 

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Monday Musings 55

A very random post today…

Throwback Thursday 36, a post from February about the 1920 Presidential Election, has now received views every day for more than two weeks. On some days the number of views has been quite significant and the post has accounted for about 8 percent of all blog views since August 31, although that percentage has declined a bit in the last few days. Even though I have edited that post to include a question about how people are finding it, no one has responded.

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Yesterday was, of course, the first Sunday of the 2020 NFL season. I hardly watched at all even though DirecTV is giving us Sunday Ticket for free this year. It figures that we would receive the NFL package for free this year as it is highly unlikely we will be living here for much of the NFL season and we are not going to continue to subscribe to DirecTV after we move. Since the company was purchased by AT&T, their customer service and the service itself have gone downhill.

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Before the virus I estimated the probability of the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue being re-elected at 60%-65%. I now think that probability is no more than half of my original estimate. Since my first blog, hosted by the Evil Empire (aka Google), has been deleted forever I cannot prove what I am about to write. However, I wrote that the 2016 election was a tossup despite the assessment of virtually all “pundits.” I was not surprised at the outcome.

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In this article, the results of a poll about a potential COVID-19 vaccine were shown. Frighteningly, in my opinion, only one-third of Americans would get vaccinated as soon as a vaccine is approved and about one-quarter would NEVER get vaccinated. The others say they would wait although what they would wait for is not clear. (Not surprisingly, people aged 74 or older were the group with the highest percentage of willingness to be vaccinated right away.) If three-quarters of the population gets vaccinated and the vaccine is 60% effective, the virus would continue to circulate in the population although at reduced levels compared to the current situation.

The state in which we still live is among about a dozen with a recent increase in the number of reported cases. It is in the state’s southern most and most rural county in which the number of cases has been the highest per capita. However, a recent cluster of cases has been reported at the state’s fairly large university, which is not far from where we live. This CNBC article reports that at the University of Tennessee and the University of Wisconsin, secret fraternity parties seemed to be at fault for outbreaks at those two institutions. Is this equation correct? Young In America = Stupid In America  An ignorant, excessively hedonistic youth does not bode well for the future of this country. In a world where competition comes from everywhere, the fact that this is the United States no longer insulates the country from the manifestations of a generation that is, for the most part, not meaningfully educated.

“We’re churning out a generation of poorly educated people with no skill, no ambition, no guidance, and no realistic expectations of what it means to go to work.”

– Mike Rowe

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This Hemmings article asks, “For similar money, is the Corvette for you a C3, C4, or C5?” At first I pasted in the image from the article. Then, the picture disappeared. The new WordPress block editor is most decidedly user-hostile so my attempt to replace those pictures may not succeed.

 

See the source image

See the source image

See the source image

 

The article states that C1 and C2 Corvettes are now “blue-chip collectibles” with high price tags and that C6 and C7 cars are “just” used cars riding down the depreciation curve. That’s why the focus was on C3, C4 and C5 Corvettes.

Some commenters expressed a preference for the “pre-computer” C3 saying the further we go out in time, the easier it would be to get that generation serviced or work on it yourself. I understand the sentiment, but given how many Corvettes have been built I suspect aftermarket parts will be available for a long time.

I have owned a C5, a 2002 model, and it was my “gateway” car to being a Corvette fanatic. I suspect it’s way ahead of the C3 and C4 in terms of drivability and reliability. In recent years, though, I have come to like the looks of the C4 better. A later C4, at least no older than 1992 and preferably one from 1995 or 1996, might be a nice way into the Corvette market.

Does anyone have an opinion on which Corvette they would buy given a choice of these generations? We would like to read your views.

 

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#ThrowbackThursday36

#VirusImpactOnElection

#COVID-19Vaccine

#IgnorantAmericanYouth

#WhichCorvette?

#somanycarsjustonelife

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Monday Musings 54

YOU have the primary responsibility to take care of your health. David Banner (not his real name) shared this story with me from his days as a physician.

 

“I had a patient who had a major heart attack and was in the ICU getting clot busting meds. When I got there, he had oxygen on and was eating a fried fish sandwich that he bullied his wife into bringing him, and berated the nurses who tried to get him to stop. He died on his couch nine months later.”

 

I suspect this is hardly atypical behavior. “Don’t you have some pill I can take so I can eat what I want, not exercise and still be healthy?” Magic is an illusion; it’s not real.

Even with the desire for “medical magic,” the latest published Gallup poll indicates that almost 4 in 10 Americans (39%) would not get vaccinated now if an FDA-approved vaccine for COVID-19 were available and free. Scarily, that number has increased since polling in late July when it was 34%.

America: Land Of The Free, Home Of The Ignorant?

 

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”

– Isaac Asimov

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Sort of related to the first point, but morphing into something silly…My wonderful wife and I received our annual flu shots on Saturday. It is the earliest we have ever received them.

The “Spooner-ism” part of my brain automatically hears “Shoo Flot” when someone says “Flu Shot.”  I hear “Flush Fladding” when a meteorologist says a risk of “Flash Flooding” exists somewhere in the country.

I’m not proud of my “Spooner-ism” brain, nor am I ashamed. It is what it is and I am what I am.

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On this day in 1899 Newport, Rhode Island hosted the first parade of “horseless carriages” anywhere in the United States. From this article:

 

“The first parade of horseless carriages in the United States was preceded by a competition judging each vehicle on driving ability and decoration. Sixteen carriages, all decorated with flowers and flags, met at Belcourt Castle on September 7, 1899. An obstacle course was set up in the empty field next to Belcourt. Mr. Stuyvesant LeRoy won the award for best driving and Mrs. Hermann Oelrichs’s carriage was awarded the prize for best decoration.”

 

Newport has what I have heard is an excellent automobile museum, the Audrain. Even though my wonderful wife and I have been to Newport, we have not visited the museum. Why not? With my usual sense of luck and timing, the museum was closed to change exhibits the week we were there.

We did visit the Newport Auto Museum, which is actually in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. My wonderful wife and I began chatting with one of the docents. In less than five minutes, he offered me a job at the museum, apparently impressed with my automotive knowledge. I thanked him for the offer and told him we lived more than 300 miles away, making the commute kind of tough, especially for a job that didn’t pay. Here is a picture of one of the vehicles in their Fin Cars exhibit:

 

Buick Skylark Yellow Convertible 1000x667

 

This is a 1954 Buick Skylark. I think these cars are just stunning. I doubt I will ever own a 1950s-vintage car, but I can hope.

Enjoy Labor Day…

 

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#YOUAreResponsibleForYourLife

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#IAmWhatIAm

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Monday Musings 53

There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”

– Isaac Asimov, 1980

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For the second consecutive weekend we had no showings of our house, which has now been on the market for a month. The lack of showings is in stark contrast to the many showings we had in the first two weeks.

Our realtor sent us data indicating that interest, as measured by the number of showings, seems to have fallen quite dramatically in our segment of the local real estate market. I guess he sent the data so we would know it’s not just our house that has seemingly dropped off the radar of potential home buyers.

The best realtor in the world will have a difficult time selling a house in a “bad” market and an inept realtor can easily sell a house in a “good” one. When I began to explore the idea of selling my first house, which I had not lived in for nine years, I called the wonderful person who had managed the property as a rental during that time and she told me that the market was exploding. (I had no idea what was going on in that market as I was living 1,400 miles away.) Even though her company would lose the rental commission, she showed me the comps in my area. The house had appreciated in value by 35%-40% in the last year.

I decided to sell; the house sold in three days and for more than the asking price. I have never had such good luck in selling any other house.

Not to be too morbid, but this house may very well be the last one I sell. I have never dealt well with being in limbo. When I (and in this case, we) decide to do something, I want to do it, not wait to do it. However, our experience is yet another example of the truth that we don’t have total control over what happens in our lives.

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This Hemmings article addresses adding EFI (Electronic Fuel Injection) to classic cars, something about which I have written many times in this blog. The piece begins:

Gearheads, like much of society, can be slow to embrace change. In the automotive world, advances in technology often mean considerable improvements in performance, and nearly every gearhead can agree that’s an admirable pursuit. But still we resist.

Here is another interesting passage:

…But even with design improvements that allowed the carburetor to function in a wide range of conditions, it still remained (as many would refer to it) a calibrated fuel leak.

That may be a slap in the face to those who still maintain carburetors as a viable fuel delivery device. But anybody who has experienced the nuances of flooding, an irregular idle, vapor lock, mediocre fuel mileage, or any of the myriad maladies inherent to the carburetor, has to question that thinking.

 

If I am ever in a position to buy a car like the one pictured below, I will certainly have EFI installed. It would be my car and my money. Why some people think they have the right to tell other people how to spend their money is beyond me.

 

 

From a Hemmings ad a picture of a 1965 Buick Riviera. What a magnificent car; the addition of EFI will not diminish its magnificence.

 

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Monday Musings 52

The old saw that highly intelligent people lack common sense is usually uttered by unintelligent people in an attempt to feel better about themselves. Being absent-minded or unmindful of mundane details is not the same as lacking common sense. Besides, I defy anyone to actually define “common” sense.

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

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August 1st marked the fifth anniversary (!) of my receiving my first pension payment from major league baseball. This month’s payment was received today; although the payment is supposed to be received on the 1st of each month, it is actually received on the first business day.

I have probably written elsewhere on this blog about my months of ruminating on when I should start receiving the pension. I performed all sorts of calculations using fixed and variable discount rate models in an effort to find the age that would maximize the present value of those payments. It should come as no surprise that the pension payout is structured in such a way that no real change exists in the present value at age 55–the first age when a person with 10+ years of service can begin receiving the pension–whether one begins receiving it at 55, 60, 65 or any age in between. (The earlier one begins receiving the pension, the smaller the nominal amount. Of course, a dollar received today is worth more than a dollar received five years from now. The amount increases literally every month one waits to receive it, like Social Security. Unlike Social Security, however, the pension is not adjusted for inflation. Also unlike Social Security, where waiting until 70 maximizes the nominal monthly amount received, the max for the baseball pension is age 65.)

I decided to begin receiving the pension on August 1st of the first year I was eligible because 1) that most closely mirrored my last day as a full-time employee of a major league team and 2) that would almost maximize the number of payments I received until they put me in the ground. The baseball pension is an “old-fashioned” defined benefit plan, of which very few exist these days. I did not put one penny into the pension fund; my benefit is a function of how many years I worked and how much I earned.

How much do I receive every month? That’s no one’s business except for my wonderful wife and my accountant.

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On this day in 2007 DaimlerChrysler completed a deal to sell an 80% stake in its ailing US Chrysler division to the private equity company Cerberus Capital Management for 7.4 billion euros, or $10.1 billion. Because debt/credit markets were already beginning to suffer at the beginning of the “Financial Meltdown/Great Recession,” DaimlerChrysler and Cerberus had to help with the financing. This was the first time a private equity company took majority ownership of a US car company.

Daimler-Benz AG had acquired Chrysler in 1998 in an alleged “merger of equals.” However, the merger terms clearly favored Daimler and within a year many people at Chrysler said it was being “Germanized” into a mere division of Daimler-Benz. Jurgen Schrempp, Chairman of Daimler-Benz, later conceded that was part of the “merger” plan.

Of course, less than two years after being sold to Cerberus Chrysler filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, which set in motion the events that led it to be purchased by Fiat, the company that currently owns Chrysler. Maybe the echoes of the Great Recession still haunt American car makers today and that partly explains why, in general, they seem very risk-averse in terms of product offerings. The fact that 70% of American adults are overweight and a third are obese also is a factor in the glut of SUVs and pickup trucks. The companies are all too happy to oblige since profit margins on those vehicles are higher than on “regular” cars.

From Classic Cars a picture of one of my favorite Chrysler/Mopar products, the Chrysler 300B:

 

See the source image

 

The “B” designation means the car is a 1956 model. The optional engine for this car was the first American motor to offer at least 1 HP per cubic inch, generating 355 HP from 354 cubic inches. The engine also produced 405 LB-FT of torque.

Who knows what long lasting effects “the virus” will have on the US and world automobile industries? Must I write it again? History is replete with examples of the folly of human beings trying to predict the future.

 

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#ChryslerSale

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Monday Musings 51

“We are nothing but raindrops on a windshield.”

OK, who made that remark? Jerry Seinfeld to Michael Richards in an episode of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee, a series which I believe has now been discontinued.

People who take themselves very seriously have lost perspective on the world, I believe.

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Could anyone have imagined in 1975 that on this day in 1995 Chrysler Corporation would open a car dealership in…wait for it…Hanoi, Vietnam? Obviously, many Americans, especially many veterans who served in the Vietnam War, were opposed to Chrysler’s action. Chrysler Vice-President for International Operations Tom Gale said, “By starting business here we feel we’re helping the healing process. We have consulted with veterans groups and the U.S. government. Some feel it’s time to move on. Many of the veterans groups support American investment in Vietnam as an outlet to increase access to the country.”

Chrysler had intended to eventually build factories in Vietnam, but the Vietnamese government refused to give up rice pasture land for the construction of new production facilities and so I don’t think such plants were ever built. The Wikipedia article about Chrysler factories, both open and closed, does not list any Vietnamese plants.

Since abandoning rigid adherence to a centrally-planned (socialist/communist) economy in the mid-1980s and moving to a market-based economy, Vietnam’s economic growth has been impressive although the country remains far from wealthy. (Did you know that Vietnam is the 15th most populous country in the world with a population just shy of 100 million?) Could anyone in 1975 have imagined that Vietnam would have a market-based economy with a fully functioning stock exchange and that its largest export market would be the United States? History is replete with examples of the folly of human beings trying to predict the future.

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From this post:

 

From The Fall of the Packard Motor Car Company by James A. Ward:

 

“The news of Packard’s demise was announced on July 13 [1958, emphasis mine], but nobody at S-P [Studebaker-Packard] took responsibility for it. The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal ran retrospective pieces, emphasizing Packard’s past, and explained its death by saying that S-P’s ‘destiny is tied to smaller cars.’ The Times pointed out that with Packard’s demise, only 16 remained of the 2,700 nameplates that had appeared since 1893. Business Week headlined its story ‘Ask The Man Who Owned One’ and compared the fall of Nash, Hudson, Packard, Willys, Crosley, and Frazer to the disappearance of automobile companies in the depression.”

 

Of course, the 1957 and 1958 model Packards were really just badge-engineered Studebakers. Still, this was the day after which the glorious Packard name would no longer have a place in the automobile industry. From a Pinterest account a picture of a 1956 Packard Caribbean hardtop:

 

See the source image

 

Maybe one of these days…

 

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#EndOfPackard

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Monday Musings 50

As I had originally envisioned this post, I was going to start by offering my opinions on tribalism, on an individual’s limited–but real–obligations to strangers, on the notion that far more than two ways exist to define the relationship between citizens and their government, etc. However, I realized that I would either be preaching to the choir or engaging in an exercise in futility. As I wrote here, I believe that real political debate has ended in the US. What I didn’t write, but also believe, is that what used to be America’s gift for compromise, for sides giving a little in order to make progress, has vanished. Compromise is now considered a dirty word at best and treasonous at worst. Sorry to write for the nth time, but blind adherence to any ideology is not an optimal behavior, in my opinion.

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The following fact is only of significance to me, but this is my blog, after all. Even without having a plan that would avail me of analytics provided by the Evil Empire (aka Google), WordPress displays all manner of data. One such piece of data is a list of the top six people by number of published comments out of the last 1,000.

For many months, 56PackardMan was, by far, the leading commenter on Disaffected Musings not counting yours truly. When I looked this morning at the ranking I was saddened that 56PackardMan is no longer on the list. Don’t get me wrong; I am happy that the average number of comments per post has increased in 2020 by 54 percent compared to 2019. I very much enjoy comments from photobyjohnbo, Dirty Dingus McGee, Philip Maynard (among others), who are “The Big Three” of commenting. (An inside joke for Dr. Zal with no disrespect intended to anyone.)

Still, 56PackardMan was this blog’s biggest supporter. Without my asking, he would put links to my posts about Packard and Studebaker on the appropriate forums, which would boost readership. He supported my efforts even though we don’t agree on many issues facing the country and the world. This is an exception to the current state of affairs that led former Speaker Of The House John Boehner to remark, “We can no longer disagree without being disagreeable.”

I, along with many of his regular readers, hope that 56PackardMan will return to the blog world someday. From a Hemmings ad (for a car no longer available) a picture of one of his absolute favorite cars, a 1956 Packard 400:

 

See the source image

 

#MondayMusings

#EndOfCompromise

#56PackardMan

#JohnBoehner

#1956Packard400

#somanycarsjustonelife

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Monday Musings 49

Maybe I should have called this post Monday Musings, The Alaska Edition as in Alaska was the 49th state admitted to the US. No? OK…

This CNBC article is by Morgan Housel, a partner at The Collaborative Fund, behavioral finance expert and former columnist at The Wall Street Journal and The Motley Fool. He is also a winner of The New York Times Sidney Award and a two-time finalist for the Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism. It is nine rules about life and money he wants his very young daughter (she was born in 2019) to know. While I don’t agree with all of the manifestations or interpretations of these rules that he uses (and I acknowledge that’s a little arrogant of me since they are “his” rules), I think most of the rules are quite sound. Leaving the elaboration for you to read yourself, here are the nine rules:

 

Don’t underestimate the role of chance in life.

The highest dividend money pays is the ability to control time.

Don’t count on getting spoiled. (Remember this is for his daughter.)

Success doesn’t always come from big actions.

Live below your means.

It’s okay to change your mind.

Everything has a price.

Money is not the greatest measure of success.

Don’t blindly accept any advice you’re given.

 

My interpretation of the first rule is one about which I have written here many times. People who think everyone gets what they “deserve” and who dismiss the role of luck/chance in life outcomes need an operation to have their heads removed from their rectums.

Living below one’s means is the way my wonderful wife and I have lived for most of our marriage. People might say, “You both have late-model Corvettes and you live in a big house.” Well, all of those things are owned free and clear, so we must not have stretched to or beyond our means to acquire them.

A former friend, one of the best men at my wedding, was incapable of changing his mind. I would argue that this inability has contributed to his life outcome being one that has made him bitter and also made him incapable of accepting his role in how his life has turned out. I also think that changing his/her mind is not automatically a bad thing for a public official. As Keynes is supposed to have remarked, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

Everything has a price, which I interpret as nothing is free. Politicians who promise “free stuff” are lying to gain votes. Housel uses this rule to write about the trade-offs in life, something about which I have also written.

The last rule is another one that has appeared here often, although perhaps indirectly. EVERYONE has an agenda. Don’t just accept what they’re saying as being true. Have some discipline and use your mind to think.

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Perhaps because 56PackardMan has left the blog world or perhaps because the search for a Corvette Companion/Grocery Car is now focused on modern cars, I have not written much lately about defunct American makes like Packard. This article hit my email and I found it interesting. From said article, a picture:

 

 

The article is about the end of the straight-eight engine era in American automobiles. Some have attributed the demise of Packard, at least in part, due to its being late in bringing out a V-8, not offering such an engine until the 1955 model year. Cadillac and Oldsmobile introduced a modern, overhead-valve (OHV), oversquare (bore greater than stroke) V-8 engine for the 1949 model year. Ford was later, but (finally) introduced its successor to the flathead in 1954, but the flathead dated to 1932 and it was a V-8. Chrysler introduced its first OHV V-8, and a hemi no less, in 1951. Even fellow independent make Studebaker introduced its V-8 in 1951.

A blog post is not the proper forum to discuss at length the reasons for Packard’s demise. Indeed, many books have been written about Packard and its end. I think that like most life outcomes, the company failed due both to exogenous forces (e.g. the Chevrolet-Ford production “war”, or “Ford Blitz,” of 1953-55) and its own decisions like trying to use a small, body-stamping plant for the entire production process, which had major growing pains and led to quality control issues for much of the 1955 model year.

One theme about which I used to write quite a bit is that fewer companies producing cars means fewer companies to develop innovations in engineering and in styling. More competition is almost always better for consumers.

56PackardMan, if you’re reading we would love to hear from you. I would also like to read thoughtful comments by all readers.

 

#MondayMusings

#NineRules

#TheEndOfPackard

#somanycarsjustonelife

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