Preparing to shoot a few segments of Big Jon in 5 for BEER2WHISKEY in our upstairs studio at Barley's Taproom in downtown Greenville. That's owner Josh Beebe preparing for his closeup.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

When It Comes to Blogging, It's the Quality and Not the Quantity...I Hope

I just noticed that my blog count for this month is the lowest since I began this endeavor last November.

In fact, I'm about six entries off my monthly average.

I must admit this has more to do with my travel schedule becoming much busier than anything else. I have been on the road more in the past month for business than in the previous five months combined.

Life is a series of choices. I often choose wrong.

When on the road for a car manufacturer's event, the choice I have to make is, I can either go back to my room and write something after dinner, or I can head for the hospitality suite -- or in some cases the hotel bar where the host company is running a tab -- catch up with old friends and drink someone else's Maker's Mark.

Let me ponder that choice for a second....yeah, I'm heading to the hospitality suite.

I can work when I get home and have nothing better to do; not to mention having to pay for my bourbon myself.

It's a no brainer.

I have two car events and a long weekender in FL during July, so I'm not making any promises, but I intend to do better.

Just keep in mind that if my work ethic was better, I'd have a real job and wouldn't have the time or energy to screw with a blog anyway.

That's my justification and I'm sticking with it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

When Bad TV Shows Bite the Dust

As a writer, I am constantly looking for ways to avoid writing. I sit at my PC and search the Internet for all manner of useless information and products to kill time. The idea is to keep from facing the scary fact that I have no fresh ideas for writing this blog, or much else for that matter.

Whether it's a paid assignment -- yes, believe it or not, I do get the sporadic assignment for which, after much hand wringing and gnashing of teeth, a check eventually shows up in my mailbox -- or just writing something for fun, I try to keep from getting started as long as I possibly can.

It was in this spirit of procrastination that I recently Googled "canceled TV shows" to check out which of my favorites have bitten the dust.

There are so many shows on so many networks that I forget about some of them during their breaks. I am one of those rare specimens who happily admits to actually liking TV; as such, I am always curious about which shows have been canceled and which are returning.

I had to filter through any number of titles on the list that I've never even heard of to get to the occasional show that I have at least a small degree of interest in. Did you know that there was a show called "Running Wilde"? I sure didn't. How about "School Pride"? Me neither.

Also on the list was "Friday Night Lights." I thought it had been canceled three years ago. Nope; it apparently limped along for an additional three seasons well under my radar.

As I ran down the list I did find CBS canceled "Chaos."  I can't say that I am surprised or disappointed.

I find it hard to believe a CBS executive -- or more likely a committee of CBS suits suffering from some sort of mass obliviousness -- saw a pilot of this turkey, considered it a winner and then decided to order 10 or 12 episodes at great expense to the network.

I suspect they all still have their high-paying jobs there today. 

Here's the compelling Chaos concept in a nutshell: In the modern CIA, there is no room for old-style, shoot'em-up spies. However there is still a team of four of these spies operating. The director doesn't like them or like to use them, but on occasion has no choice.

Can you feel the tension?

The two or three episodes I saw required elevating suspension of believability to an art form.

The idea the CIA has so much money that it can afford to send four people on an assignment that could be easily accomplished by a single guy is ridiculous from the get-go.

Of course these guys are so incompetent that they must constantly bail one another out of one tough spot after another.

Then these guys, who we are to believe are so accomplished that no one else could possibly handle the assignments they are given, show up to locations all wearing look-alike gray suits.

They look like the chorus line in "Guys and Dolls."

Yep, there they are undercover somewhere in the Mid East all sporting gray suits and going everywhere in a mini herd. Stealthy, no?

A clever fortune of the crack writing every week: No one ever gives them a second glance.

The characters were likeable enough, but the writing was absolutely abysmal.

It was one of those shows that after sitting through an episode, I thought, well, there's an hour of my life I'll never see again.

On another topic, I see that a production company has penned a deal with Charlie Sheen to create and star in a comedy. No idea yet where such a vehicle will air.

I guess there are people who are fascinated by car crashes and train wrecks who will tune in to see if old Chuck will crash and burn.

Talk about rolling the dice, whoever is backing this deal must be desperate for a tax write off. What are the chances this guy can survive nine months of production without a drug-induced meltdown? Winning!

I understand there are policies that insure a show's producers in case the star kills himself or otherwise self destructs during production.

I suspect some insurance agent somewhere is in for a very big pay day.

Monday, June 27, 2011

E85: Corn Ethanol by Any Other Name...

Gas prices are falling.

Can I hear an Amen?

In my neck of the woods, the price of a gallon of regular dropped to $3.15 over the weekend. That's from a high a few weeks ago of $3.83 at the same station.

I realize South Carolina has it better than many other areas when it comes to filling your tank, but I suspect every area is enjoying a similar drop in price.

I pass a gas station everyday that actually pumps E85. That's the slop that is roughly 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. No clue who buys it, but they are selling it for $2.91 a gallon.

I suspect that people who don't know any better are actually convinced they are saving money buying E85 rather than gasoline.

They would be wrong.

Corn ethanol only provides about 66% of the energy of gasoline, so a gallon of E85 has about 72% of the energy of a gallon of gasoline.

To make it simple for us social studies majors, if you figure your car gets 30 mpg from a gallon of gas, that means it will get less than 22 mpg from a gallon of E85, or about 27% fewer miles per gallon.

You would have to buy roughly 1.27 gallons of E85 to travel those 30 miles delivered by a gallon of gas.

Let's see, $2.91 X 1.27 = $3.70. So glad this didn't involve long division.

That makes corn ethanol considerably more expensive for you, the consumer, than gas right now.

Even when gas was at $3.83 a gallon in good old Greenville, SC, today's E85 price is just marginally better.

And to be able to charge that bargain-basement rate of $2.91 per gallon for E85, we lucky taxpayers forked over $2 in direct subsidies for every gallon of corn ethanol produced, according to a 2010 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study; otherwise the price of E85 at my local purveyor would be nearly $5 a gallon.

You don't need to be a calculus major to see that E85 really costs about 50% more and delivers about 27% less energy than gasoline.

Hey, but it's clean, right?

Yeah, not so much.

Even the EPA admits corn ethanol burns dirtier than gasoline to the tune of between 4% and 7% for NOX and VOC -- the two worst pollutants of air quality.

Depending on whose numbers you accept, from 25% to 40% of the annual U.S. corn crop is now being diverted into ethanol production. No matter how you fudge the books, at least 25% of our annual corn crop is going into the ethanol scam.

That's corn unavailable for bread, corn syrup, breakfast cereal, cattle feed and (gasp) bourbon, among a bazillion other things.

If you've shopped in your nearby Piggly Wiggly or Publix, you are aware food prices are skyrocketing. Now you know one of the reasons why.

Just think of it as a transfer of wealth from your wallet to those good people along the corn-ethanol-production chain.

A bit of corporate welfare, if you will.

It's not all bad news, however.

The U.S. Senate recently voted to end all corn-ethanol subsidies. This doesn't mean much because it was an amendment tacked onto some bill that wasn't going to pass anyway; but it still signals a willingness, for the first time, to end these nonsensical taxpayer-funded subsidies for an energy source that requires nearly more energy to grow, manufacture and transport than it provides when consumed.

Man, I hate corn ethanol and, consequently, I hate E85.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Why Are Bureaucrats Always Surprised When the Things They Do Have Consequences?

I was surprised when ran my latest bad-government rant in my blog on its auto site. Hey, I just call them as I see them. Sharks live to eat; bureaucrats live to regulate, which causes other problems that have to be regulated against and the beat goes on and on and on.... Here's the link:

Friday, June 24, 2011

Air Conditioning: Heat Only Burns for a Second

I am leading by example.

With a personal austerity program that I hope is an inspiration to both our lawmakers and budget balancers everywhere, I am holding out for July before flipping on the air conditioner.

Well, let me insert a disclaimer here: I did run the AC all the way back in May for three or four days when my out-of-town company began feinting. Wimps.

I also have turned it on for two two-day stretches while I was out of town to keep my cat from charbroiling. I figure if I can take the heat so can she; but that line of reasoning is only effective if I am here. If I'm not, the AC goes on.

Otherwise I have been suffering in silence. Despite the fact that no one reads this screed, I guess blogging about it sort of breaks the silence. If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a noise?

In any event, I am determined to hold out for the really hot weather.

Before any of my conservative friends accuse me of going over to the dark side, let me say that this is not some nod to phantom global warming or man-made climate change or whatever the hysterical environmental nabobs are choosing to call it these days.

No, it is just another money-saving effort in addition to not eating, washing dishes while I shower and wearing my underwear inside out to get an extra day's wear out of it.

I'd like to say that it's all about saving money, but a prerequisite of saving money is having money in the first place.

No, this is about not spending money that I don't have. It's called, figuring out a way to live within my means.

Dr. Schultz told us shinny-faced college freshmen in Econ 101 that a key principle of economics is guns or butter. The more guns you buy, the less butter you can afford and the more butter you buy, the fewer guns you can afford.

Made sense to me then and still rings true.

I haven't asked the cat, but I suspect if I put the question to her, "food or air conditioning?" she'd go for food every time.

Of course the cat's fur is falling out by the bushel-basket full, but I'm sure we'll both be wishing for the heat by mid February.

Time to take another shower and wash the pots and pans.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Are You Smarter than Your Sixteen-Year Old? Doubtful.

This is one of those lazy days when I'm sending you someplace else. Chances are you don't know as much about driving as you think you do. I probably don't either. In fact, a recent study asked 1,000 people who have been driving five years or more 10 questions found on most written driving tests across the country. How did they score? Not so well. Check it out at my auto blog at To get there click on

Monday, June 20, 2011

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

I don't know what I was watching the other day, but someone had a camera crew in front of the White House. They were asking people some very basic questions about government.

Two of the questions: Who is the vice president? And can you name someone in the House of Representatives?

It was astounding the number of people who couldn't answer either question.

How oblivious do you have to be not to be able to come up with the name of the vice president or that of one of the 435 members of the House?

The question wasn't even, who represents you in the house? It was name a member -- any member -- of the house.

How far removed from what is happening in this country do you have to be not to be able to come up with the name Pelosi or Ryan?

Or Weiner, for the love of God!

Of course when many of these same dolts were asked to name two of the Kardashian sisters, they rattled off two names correctly with almost no thought.

People who are going to vote in the next election can't come up with the name, Joe Biden, but Kim and Khloe are on the front burner of the mush occupying their brain pans.

God help us.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Las Vegas-Little Red Chili Peppers-Mandarin Hotel-Don Felder-2012 Hyundai Accent-2012 Hyundai Genesis-and Sandeman 20-Year Tawny Port: 48 Hours This Week

Las Vegas: I'm not a fan.

I will go to Vegas if someone else picks up the tab. This happens with some frequency. These days if I'm in Vegas, a car company is footing the bill.

It is day 3 of my most recent foray to "Sin City" and Hyundai is responsible for my being here. It's roughly 5:30 am and I am sitting in Concourse D, gate 36 of the airport waiting for my flight to Atlanta that is scheduled to takeoff at 7:20.

When I arrived curbside at the airport at 5:10 am, it was already awash with travelers -- many of them blurry eyed and staggering about. I would estimate the number of people ahead of me in the security line at about 250. No more than 5 minutes was required to pass me through security. At least the airport is setup for the Disney-like crowds it accommodates.

Reflecting on this trip it was better than most of the previous ones. Hyundai is one of the few car companies that still throws a pretty good event. It didn't feel like someone in its PR department emptied a coffee can full of spare change, rolled this stash of coins and cashed them in to underwrite the expense of the event. Too many of the car programs today feel exactly that way.

Hyundai put us up at the Mandarin Hotel. It is an upscale joint and is now, perhaps, my favorite place to stay in Vegas. It's on the strip, but isn't. And the best part is that it doesn't have a casino! I despise casinos. I managed to spend two full days and nights in Vegas without hearing the dinging of a single slot machine until coming to the airport this morning. Thankfully there are only a couple of losers playing the 50 or so slots sitting in front of me, so the noise level is minimal.

Back to the Las Vegas Mandarin. You realize it's something special when you have to take an elevator to check in at the lobby on the 23rd floor. Entering my room on the 14th floor, the drapes automatically eased open revealing a panoramic view of the strip. The bed, if not the best I've ever slept on, is No. 2. Only the beds in Vanderbilt Hall in Newport, RI might be better. It has been 15 years since I stayed in Vanderbilt Hall and I still remember its extraordinary beds.

Hyundai brought us to Las Vegas to drive the redesigned Accent and Genesis. The new Accent is a hell of a car. At a price point around $16,000, it offers comfort, economy, and decent performance for a subcompact. I was thoroughly impressed.

Most of the changes to the Genesis can't be seen. The V6 edition is so much better than the first generation sedan, that I would buy it rather than either of the V8 versions. It is cheaper and gets better fuel economy than the V8s, yet offers nearly all the amenities of the more expensive trims. Also, the suspension is better suited to the V6.

Hyundai hosted dinner both nights in the hotel. Wednesday night we ordered from an abbreviated menu. I chose a Thai chicken-cashew stir fry with garlic rice. It was delicious -- at least for the initial four or five bites. Passing unnoticed, I shoveled a tiny red chili pepper into my maw. I heard it crunch as I chewed it up. It wasn't a heat that ramped up as I chewed; it hit me all in one fell swoop. Think about running full tilt head first into a concrete wall. That's what this pepper was like. It robbed my breath, sent my heart racing and actually made me physically ill to my stomach for about 60 seconds.

I like Thai food because it's spicy, but this went way beyond just spicy. It might have stroked out a lesser man. I wasn't alone. Several other people told similar stories as we compared notes about the night before at breakfast Thursday morning. There should have been a warning in huge red letters on the menu. I meticulously forked the rest of the little atomic hot bombs into a neat pile on one side of my plate. I didn't recover my sense of taste for probably a full 15 minutes. Never again.

We can always count on Hyundai to do something special and this trip didn't interfere with that tradition. Its audio partner, Harman Kardon/Lexicon, brought Don Felder of the Eagles to perform for us in the hospitality suite after dinner both nights. Hyundai rented the entire lobby bar to serve as our hospitality suite.

Felder is responsible for penning the melody and contributing some of the lyrics for Hotel California. He performed it and several other Eagles hits over the two nights. He also covered some other familiar songs.

I didn't close down the hospitality suite that first night, but I gave it a shot. You know you had a good time the night before when upon entering the joint for the predinner cocktail hour on Thursday, the maitre'd welcomes you back, shaking your hand while telling you that you drank them out of 20-year Sandeman Tawny Port the night before. I didn't accomplish this on my own, by the way, but I did do my part.

"I tried to get another bottle in for tonight, but it didn't get here," he said. "But we still have plenty of 10-year-old."

"It will have to do," I replied over my shoulder as I walked to the bar.

When he heard that Felder was going to be our entertainment, one of my Florida buddies texted me some interesting bio facts about him and also requested that I ask Felder if it was true that he taught Tom Petty to play guitar.

I put that question to Don before he performed last night. And, indeed, he did. He and Petty lived in the same town. Felder was teaching guitar for a music store in town. Petty played base in a local band (the Ruckers, I believe he told me) and went to Felder because he was the front man for the band and thought he should play guitar as the singer rather than bass. Felder said he worked with the entire band trying to get them straightened out, but to no avail.

He said that Petty is a great song writer, but not a particularly good guitar player. He added that there was just something special about Petty that really connects with audiences. He said he just never understood the charisma that Petty projects. He'd toss his hair and girls would just swoon. Some chick would be all agog over Petty and Felder would say to her, "but did you not hear him sing?" The typical reply would be, "Yeah, but he's just so cute!"

If you say so.

As usual, I won't be sad about leaving Vegas. In fact, my flight can't board soon enough. As I have been writing this, more and more people who evidently didn't do enough damage to their bank accounts in the casinos on the strip, have parked their fat asses on the stools in front of the slots around me and the noise level has ramped up considerably.

Did I mention that I hate Vegas?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Those Confounded In-Car Navigation Systems: Why Do They Treat Us Like Idiots?

In no way does this serve as a news flash, but I drive a lot of cars.

In a typical year, I'll drive between 80 and 100 new vehicles. It's a big spread; I know, but it all rests on how fat the manufacturer press fleets are and how many new-vehicle introductions I manage to get invited to. It varies from year to year.

I spend a week at home with 75 or so of these cars, trucks, SUVs and crossovers, and the balance I drive for a couple of hours at a media introductory event. Some I drive at both.

Do you feel sorry for me yet? Well, you shouldn't. It's a good gig. It doesn't pay much, but it's a good gig.

It's a great second job, if you are lucky enough to have a real job that pays the bills. Some of the writers I know have that real job and some don't. I fall into the latter group.

Feel sorry for me now? You shouldn't. It's still a good gig.

Among the vehicles I pilot each year, probably 60% have a built-in navigation unit.

Some are better than others in terms of clarity of instructions and plotting the best route.

Whether or not you should pony up the extra $1,200 to $1,800 to have one in your next new car is up to you.

I like the idea of a built-in system because as an auto-journalist buddy of mine pointed out, their screens are usually larger -- sometimes much larger -- than those of portable, handheld units.

That's a big check in the "plus" column for me.

The rub, however, is that built-in units are pricy and, according to my buddies at AutoTrader, they bring very little extra value at trade-in time.

Whether you trade-in your car or sell it, the built-in nav unit simply won't pull its weight to increase your used vehicle's value.

Yep, you basically have to think about those big bucks you spent up front as a rental fee to have the nav system for the time you own that car.

That knowledge would give me pause as I signed the paperwork to buy the car.

Here's the other thing that bugs me about a built-in system in your personal car: You shouldn't have to click "Agree" to answer some nonsensical legal disclaimer every time you access the nav unit.

You know the one that reminds you that operating the navigation system while driving is dangerous and you won't do it. Really? It isn't safe?

Here you have a platoon of lawyers sitting in the headquarters of a car manufacturer valiantly attempting to prove their worth and increasing their job security by insisting on this legal disclaimer that repeats itself every time you key the ignition.

I'm a high-school graduate; do I really need to be told every time I enter the car that I shouldn't attempt to type "Albuquerque" on the address screen while hurtling down the highway at 70 mph?

Apparently I do. At least some overpaid legal beagle has convinced nearly every carmaker that I do.

There should be some way to program a one-time "Agree" into the system and avoid the wasted time responding every time you turn the key in the ignition.

It's your car, after all. Shouldn't you be able to program that wildly overpriced nav system so it doesn't treat you as some sort of a blithering idiot?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

2012 Fiat 500c: When Size Doesn't Matter

If you love the idea of tailoring a car's appearance to your personal tastes, the Fiat 500c is for you. Fiat claims 500,000 ways to personalize this pipsqueak of a convertible; although somewhat doubtful, I'm willing to take their word for it.

It may have only 101 ponies under its hood, but its relatively light weight prevents its rate of acceleration from lulling one to sleep. It looks like fun to drive and it is.

Get the full scoop from my complete review at

Monday, June 13, 2011

Oh Boy! EPA Revises New Car Window Price Stickers!

One of the downsides of having tens of thousands of bureaucrats mucking up the works in Washington is that they always need to appear busy. The obvious way to do that is to simply continue cranking out more and more regulations.

The byproduct of this eager-beaver approach to inflating one's worth at the good old EPA is the new-look of the window price stickers on new cars beginning in 2013.

It's the EPA's answer to the Surgeon General's warning on a pack of cigarettes. To read more about it, go to my blog at Here's the link:

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Environmentalists' Efforts Are All About Making a Happy Earth, Right? Wrong!

I am currently rereading Steve Milloy's Green Hell. It's a study of how environmentalists are colluding to control our lives and force us back into preindustrial-revolution living. Yes, I know; this is in sharp contrast to their sunshine and moonbeams PR; but their brainwashing success aside, their true goal is to kill our free enterprise system.

If you doubt this assertion ask yourself this one question: Why are the people and groups who foil every effort to drill for more oil in the name of "green" energy the same people and groups who have blocked every proposed wind-turbine farm and solar field?

I posit that their ultimate goal isn't to force us out of carbon fuels into green energy, but to drastically curb consumption, slow progress and eventually reduce the population.

Their effort is a relentless onslaught on our quality of life that encompasses everything from our incomes to procreation.

I am including a link to a commentary that effectively documents how the success of environmentalists is responsible for the huge wild fire burning out of control in Arizona and New Mexico. It's worth the read.

Friday, June 10, 2011

NHTSA's Latest Target? All that Cool Technology in Your Car

They are at it again.

Thank, God, those of us who are among the drones of this society have the federal government to look out for us.

With what may be its most recent effort (It's difficult to keep up.) to protect us from ourselves, the federal government is searching for ways to disconnect us from our mobile devices when in our cars.

New regulations are being cobbled together by NHTSA to restrict what in-vehicle communications systems can do. This from NHTSA's Chief Nanny David Strickland.

Among the systems NHTSA is targeting are GM's OnStar and Ford's Sync, along with systems that integrate smartphones and the like.

I am the first to admit texting while driving is dangerous and a bad idea; but so is sky diving, eating a burrito from a roadside stand and online dating.

We do stupid and dangerous things every day.

Limiting what an in-vehicle system can offer, I guess, is one way to control what people do.

If you don't want drivers looking at a navigation screen, listening to the local weather or having their recent Facebook postings read to them, simply outlaw these features in in-vehicle systems.

Bureaucrats can punch out at 5 pm feeling good about themselves because of all the mayhem and carnage they have prevented on our highways with the stroke of a pen.

But where does it stop?

An argument can be made that in-vehicle audio systems are also a distraction and therefore must cause accidents.

Likewise conversations can distract. A driver participating in a conversation with passengers certainly isn't giving his full attention to the road. Let's legislate shutting up.

What about kids in the car? Talk about a distraction! Maybe NHTSA can create a few regulations making it illegal to drive around with your kids. I know a couple of dads who would be positively giddy over such laws.

But, some may argue, what about all the lives that have been saved in areas where talking on a cellphone while driving has been outlawed. Isn't that proof that such regulations are beneficial?

Here's something you may not know: According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety when I last posed the cellphone question to them about a year ago, there is no evidence that prohibiting cellphone use has reduced accidents or loss.

In those areas where such anti-cellphone-use laws exist, there has been no impact on the number of accidents or property loss.

Although it seems counter intuitive, that was IIHS's position a year or so ago.

Far too often regulating is more about justifying a bureaucracy's existence and exerting control than anything else.

Bureaucrats live to regulate.

In academia the mantra is "publish or perish." In government bureaucracy it's "regulate or irrelevancy."

So the regulations just keep on a comin'.

You can't outlaw stupidity. If someone is going to put on makeup, read a book or text while driving, all the regulations in the world aren't going to matter.

For those who believe we are just one more regulation away from making each individual perfect or just one egghead short of having the ideal team in central planning, there will never be enough regulations on the books or enough elitists in Washington running our lives.

It is all for us, after all.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Toddlers & Tiaras: What's Even Creepier than a Photo of Anthony Weiner's Junk?

I am officially creeped out.

As I was jogging on the treadmill at the gym the other morning, I was watching the Military Channel and saw a promo for a TLC show called "Toddlers & Tiaras." OK, I wasn't jogging; I was briskly walking.

But I did see the promo. "Toddlers & Tiaras"!

It was a 30-second string of images of what appear to be 5- or 6-year olds participating in beauty contests. Determining their age was tough because 1) I don't know that much about kids and 2) they were made up like $10 hookers.

It is JonBenet Ramsey to the tenth power.

I had no idea something this disturbing was on the air. All right, it's not as disturbing as "Jersey Shore," but it's close.

I had to Google "Toddlers & Tiaras" to learn more.

Apparently this look at the underbelly of kiddie beauty pageants has been on TLC since 2009. What?

How did I miss this? I feel like I just came out of a coma and the world went haywire while I was out.

"Oh, Mr. Heaps, after four years you're finally awake. Guess what? We're courting Hamas. And there is a show about pubescent skanks in training on TLC."

"Could you put me back under please?"

This show completed its fifth mini season in February.

Yes, apparently enough people tuned in to this crap that TLC gave it five new runs.

The question isn't what is wrong with TLC, but what in the heck is wrong with us?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Only the Profoundly Stupid Don't Realize that Once It's Out There, It's Out There

When I sat down to write this blog, my original intention was to use the current Anthony Weiner episode as a cautionary tale to discuss the potential dangers of social media. In the writing, though, it sort of turned into more of a political rant. I apologize to my left-leaning friends and readers for that. But it is what it is.

I don't know much about Anthony Weiner other than he's a far-left hysteric with a last name funnier than mine.

He's an appointed hit man for the far left; whether that's self appointed or a tool of Pelosi and other leadership of the uber-left. He's one of the mouthpieces that can be counted on to be trotted out to respond to whatever the most recent conservative affront to runaway big government might be.

One of his more notable appearances in the national spotlight was when he decided to call out Glenn Beck for urging people to buy gold as a hedge against inflation. He claimed that because a gold-investment company was a sponsor of Beck's radio and Fox News TV show, Beck was somehow bilking his viewers and listeners by suggesting they buy gold.

That great newsman of our day, Keith Olbermann, MSNBC's top "news" anchor at the time, drew on his vast knowledge of National League batting averages to piously intone "For about three years the relationship between Glenn Beck and company Goldline International has been profitable for everybody except the viewers and listeners."

This was roughly a year ago when gold was at about $1,200 an ounce. Today it's at $1,545 an ounce. If you do the math, you will find that's roughly a 30% gain in about 11 months.

If you count back the three years Olbermann references, gold was at about $650 an ounce in June of 2007. How can nearly doubling your investment in three years be characterized as not profitable?

He then went on to interview Weiner who peddled the same claptrap.

Weiner had staged a news conference earlier making the same wild accusations.

The takeaway was that Beck clearly scammed his audience. Should I have been so lucky to be a victim.

I'm no hedge fund manager; I'm not even all that good at math; and I certainly can't tell you who won the 1967 World Series; but if you bought something for $650 four years ago and it's worth $1,545 today, wouldn't that be more? Sounds like a lot more to me, but then I'm not a sportscaster; so what do I know.

But I digress....

The point is, Weiner is somewhat of a star in the Democrat party. Before this little dust-up regarding texting photos of his junk to young women he evidently met online and then lamely lying to cover it up, he even had aspirations to run for mayor of New York City.

My question is, with his high-profile position among the far-left and his goal to run for mayor of New York, why would he be so stupid as to actually take a photo of his junk and store it on his phone?

Forget about stupidly sending it to someone he didn't even know; just having it wasn't simply a lapse in judgment, but colossally stupid.

The lamestream media has made much more out of Sarah Palin's statements regarding Paul Revere (despite the fact that her history is basically accurate) than it has over Weiner's not only being outed as a perve, but a remarkably stupid one.

I'll leave it up to Weiner's party and his constituents as to whether he should leave office. If the voters in New York's 9th Congressional District want this clown representing them and the Dems want him center stage, more power to all of them, I say.

Like much of America, I'm just hanging on for 2012.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Hyundai's Guaranteed Resale Value = A Win for You!

Ahead in the game by 21 points at the start of the second half, and Hyundai tosses up a Hail Mary.

What in the wide, wide world of sports is going on?

Making a formal announcement on April 20, Hyundai established the all-new Hyundai Assurance Trade-In Value Guarantee.

With an eye on minimizing customer worries about depreciation, the program in a nutshell provides owners with a guaranteed value for their new vehicles in months 24 through 48 of ownership if traded in on a new Hyundai.

The guarantee applies to any new Hyundai purchased on May 1, 2011 or later.

At trade-in, the owner will receive the higher of the assessed value or the guaranteed value of a qualifying Hyundai.

A few mouse-print stipulations are tossed in for good measure, like the owner must be able to show proof of the scheduled maintenance having been performed at a Hyundai dealership; but generally the whole thing appears fairly straightforward.

I am stumped by Hyundai's motives. Typically this is the sort of ploy a struggling auto maker might concoct out of desperation.

Around 2000 or 2001, Mitsubishi was suffering lackluster sales. Some over-paid marketing genius came up with the bright idea to goose sales by offering "Zero down, zero payments and zero interest for a year."

What could possibly go wrong?

Buyers were stacked up four deep in Mitsubishi showrooms and two years later files of defaulted loans were piled four-feet high on the credit manager's desk.

Mitsubishi in 2000 was desperate; Hyundai today, not so much.

These guys are having a great year!

Sales for Hyundai's best April ever were up 40% over the same month last year; while sales for the first four months of 2011 are up 31% over 2010.

What is Hyundai's motivation for shouldering what could be a very expensive experiment?

I suspect it is simply to turn up the heat on the competition. Nothing else makes much sense.

But whatever Hyundai's reasoning, the guarantee seems to have no down side for you.

Short of Hyundai going under, no matter what the market does, the owner is covered.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

If They Take It, Get It Back!

Sure, I've been slacking.

Blame it on a recent VW trip to drive the new Passat. It was just to Chattanooga and Nashville, but still occupied a couple of days.

I returned home this morning, but am woefully unmotivated. So, here's a link to my most recent blog for

In a nutshell, the best strategy for recovering your car all in one piece if it's stolen is to invest in a tracking device like LoJack.