The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

There’s a wonderful young man who has a YouTube channel, Jamel a.k.a. Jamal, who does ‘reaction’ videos to music. He’s just a sweetheart and really nice guy. I subscribe to his channel and always look forward to his reactions to the music of my youth. I just watched a video of his reaction to The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald (written and sung by Gordon Lightfoot)

I was 24 years old (do NOT do the math!!!) when the song came out and I just loved it. I thought it was a great story and wasn’t Lightfoot clever to have thought it up. I was even impressed that it had an old sea chanty sound to it. It wasn’t until many years later that I learned it was a true story. Which fact, of course, brought a greater appreciation for the song and its story.

While listening to the song this morning with my buddy Jamel, I started reading the comments and was moved by the remarks of so many people. For many of the folks, the event and song are part of their personal history because they grew up in the areas of the Great Lakes. Some folks know “the wives, the sons, and the daughters”. Quite a few were recreational sailors, some were U.S. Navy. Many tears from many people who are touched by the tragedy.

One of the commenters suggested watching this particular video. The opening gave me chills. The lighthouse made me cry. I found this documentary that relates the harrowing experience.

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I am reminded of this Psalm. https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Psalms-107-23/.

 23They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; 24These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep. 25For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. 26They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.

We tend to feel sorry for the folks ‘from there’; it couldn’t have an effect on us ‘here’. Imagine my surprise and shock to find out that one of the hands was from Bradenton, Florida – just over the bridge from me; and one was from Clearwater, Florida, the second town north from me. But we have since learned, because of September 11th, 2001, that events are usually more than ‘from there’ – it wasn’t just a New York thing, or a U.S. thing. How many countries were affected by that event?

The youngest hand on the Edmund Fitzgerald was 20 years old.

Vocational Education Can’t Be Either/Or

This from The Federalist is pretty good, although when I started it, I thought it would be mostly whingeing, and there is some of that. But do read it.

While I no longer teach in Detroit, the district has formally turned its focus to channeling students into one of seven “industry cluster areas” ranging from hospitality to public safety. Conversations about English credits and required physical education classes have been eclipsed by “real-world experiences” and “industry certification.” All students are now enrolled in a Career Pathways Education Plan — a project that aims to address the city’s educational woes by accelerating all students’ journeys to careers.

The calculation at the heart of the project is straightforward. Jobs exist in the city, and folks aren’t trained to do them — so train them. Isn’t this, after all, what schools do? Answering this question involves more than an argument about course selection. We’re asking if public school students from Detroit deserve an education that develops them as something more than employees.

Put another way, what ought the freshmen English teacher do with his time when he greets 160 students who read on a third-grade level, among whom is a homeless boy scrambling for shelter each night and a girl who will give birth the next semester? The right “industry certification” might change their life trajectory, but there is something frivolous about a school the highest aims of which could be summed up by Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”

I see nothing inherently wrong with teaching kids what in my day we called vo-ed. In those days it was Industrial Arts (universally called ‘shop’) for the boys and Domestic Arts or some euphemism that meant ‘Home Ec’ for the girls, who also were the target for typing class, and business math, which could just as well have been called bookkeeping, and sometimes was.

It sounds sexist and it probably was a bit, but it also reflected the real world. The world that had Dictaphones that came in two parts, male that had a microphone, and female that had earphones.

The other thing was, those of us that were going to college, and you pretty well knew by the end of eighth grade, and so did your classmates, were able, if we were lucky, to squeeze in a year of shop, it was the most fun class I had in high school because it was doing, six weeks of woodshop, six of metal shop, six of technical drawing, a little about machining, and some practical electrics. A really good introduction to the world of work outside the office, and the neat part, the boys got six weeks of Home Ec. Which did us no harm. Guys should be able to sew on a button, cook dinner, and balance the checkbook. And while we were doing this, the girls were having an introduction to shop.

But the place where Detroit went wrong with this is assuming that only technical education is required, sure you could specialize in shop, and frankly, lots of farm boys did, and may have been right to, and quite a few girls did a  lot of Home Ec and business courses. Good general introductions both of them to the real world. But they also took at least a year of math and a year of general science. Three of what we called social studies, geography, history, some economics, and three of English. You had to, the state required them for graduation. There was even a program where juniors and seniors could work half days for participating employers, who undertook to train them for the business (or the industry) while completing their education. It worked very well and gave them some income as well. Everybody won.

General math was basically a reprise of arithmetic, maybe with a bit of business math. But the average worker doesn’t deal with all that many quadratic equations. General Science much the same. Bur the social studies were the exact same courses designed to fit us for college, and/or life. And that included a year of literature, if I recall correctly, one-semester American, one non (mostly English, if I recall).

In short, we got a fairly good, general education, that fit us to take our place in the real world, both fit to hold a job, and be a citizen of a free country, and even speak (and write) English.

Detroit could, and likely does, do worse.

A Free Man and Boring Pigs

First a note: Tommy Robinson is out on bail, to be retried at a later date. It’s a victory worth celebrating, but not a complete one. The court said this:

In the ruling, the lord chief justice quashed the Leeds finding of contempt. That court hearing should not have proceeded immediately but waited to hear the case on a “fully informed basis”, he said.

The judgment added: “It was unclear what conduct was said to comprise a breach of that order and the appellant was sentenced on the basis of conduct which fell outside the scope of that order.

“… The decision at Leeds crown court to proceed to committal to prison so promptly and without due regard for [part] of the rules gave rise to unfairness.

“… The judge might have referred the matter to the attorney general to consider whether to institute proceedings. That course would have avoided the risk of sacrificing fairness on the altar of celerity.”

Gee! Ya think? Still, a win is a win is a win.


Boring Pigs

This caught my attention at The American Spectator yesterday.

But how do you deal with cars that are pigs?

Which is all new cars.

Even hybrid cars.

The 2018 Kia Niro plug-in hybrid I just finished reviewing (here) averaged just over 42 MPG… right there with a 1984 Chrysler K-car. Which didn’t need an electric motor and batteries to achieve 40-plus MPG.

The K-car also cost about half what the Niro costs, in inflation-adjusted dollars — but that’s another rant.

The 2019 Subaru Ascent I test drove the week prior averaged a truly dismal 22.4 MPG — despite being powered by the very latest in fuel-saving high-tech: a 2.4 liter direct-injected/turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the works bolted to a fuel-saving continuously variable (CVT) automatic and geared for maximum MPGs.

All that… and 22.4 MPG.

My ancient (1976) Pontiac Trans-Am, a muscle car with an engine more than three times as large (7.5 liter V8) as the Soobie’s and which doesn’t have a computer, direct injection, or a turbocharger but does have a big four-barrel carburetor and burnout-enhancing 3:90 gears is only slightly less thirsty.

It is capable of averaging in the high teens.

The question arises — in view of all the “efficient” and “fuel saving” technologies new cars boast: Why are they so fuel-inefficient?

It is because they are grotesque fatties.

The average 2018 model car is on the order of 500-800 pounds heavier than its 1990 equivalent.

Here are some for-instances:

  • 1990 Ford Escort, curb weight 2,242 lbs. vs. 2018 Ford Focus (the current Escort equivalent) which weighs 2,974 lbs. — a gain of 732 lbs.
  • 1990 Toyota Camry, curb weight 2,811 lbs. vs. 2018 Camry, 3,340 lbs. — a gain of 529 lbs.
  • 1990 Dodge Caravan, curb weight 2,910 lbs. vs. 2018 Caravan, 4,510 lbs. — a gain of 1,600 lbs.!
  • The 2018 Kia Niro hybrid I test drove — ostensibly an “economy” car and a “compact” by modern car standards — weighs almost 3,400 pounds. Which is just a couple of hundred pounds less than my 1976 Trans-Am — which has a heavy steel frame and a massively heavy cast-iron V8 engine.

And the Subaru Ascent weighs several hundred pounds more than my 42-year-old muscle car, despite the Pontiac’s huge cast-iron V8, cast iron rear axle and a bolt-on steel subframe just like a truck’s.

So why is the Trans-Am so relatively svelte?

It is because the Trans-Am’s designers didn’t have to cope with the numerous weight-adding saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafetyfatwas which have made new cars so obese.

I never heard anyone call a Trans Am svelte before, it was one of the most space inefficient cars ever designed. But he’s right, it was fairly light, especially if you ordered it without all the “comfort and convenience” junk that ate fuel and made it heavier.

When I was in high school, my dad after he retired, drove a 63 Chevy Bel Air, with a 230 ci 6, Powerglide transmission, with ps and brakes. 0-60 was about a day and a half, and it got around 20 mpg. By today’s standards, it was a huge car, six passengers, and luggage for six weeks. He used it like a pickup, and it did its role well. By the way, he paid $500 for it, because it was in excellent, clean condition, book was about $300. Those really were the days. 🙂

Mom had a 68 Fleetwood Brougham, with every bell and whistle that Cadillac could dream up, and they were good dreamers, including the 472 ci V8. I found out one night, in a mile it could keep up with a 427 Vette. If one drove reasonably, it got 18 mpg on the highway. Yeah, it was even bigger than the Chevy, the footrests in the backseat actually were useful, as were the four power vent windows. Nobody ever made a better car for driving 12 hours a day on the Interstate. It was, indeed, a great date car.

Me? I had a 64 Riviera with the old 401 Nailhead engine, the very first (in 63) personal luxury car. It didn’t have all the toys of the Caddy, but it moved pretty good. It could even corner, although it was rather dramatic about it. How fast? I don’t know, it was still accelerating fine when the rear end started lifting at 110. A friend of mine had the one with the big engine, including the dual quads, and a rear spoiler, he said he had buried the 140 mph speedometer and I believed him. It too could be nursed to about 18 (on premium fuel), I usually got around 15. Hey, I was young and invincible in those days. Still the best vehicle I ever owned.

All of those cars were built with good solid American steel, they were downright sturdy as a Mack truck, not the beer cans you find now, and like the author’s Trans Am you were expected to pay attention and not hit things – if you don’t hit nothing, all that safety junk is just that – junk. And you know, for the most part, we didn’t. Maybe because we weren’t texting and putting on our makeup while we drove, cause driving was fun, not the chore it is today. Chicago to Philadelphia in one day – sure why not? Did it many times. Chicago to LA to Seattle visit relatives in Minnesota and home in two weeks, with a camper – been there done that, but dad drove, I was in Junior high. Easy peasy.

And the thing about those cars, there was almost nothing on them that I (or dad) couldn’t fix in the driveway, sure sometimes we needed a machine shop, but other than that we could do anything.

The safety idiots and the emission idiots ruined the American car with their various mandates. Americans did what Americans always do – Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome. That’s why we drive SUVs and pickups now, but they are going the same way.

Let’s give Eric the last word (and you should read all of his link).

If they lacked the power to issue (and enforce) such fatwas, we’d have lighter and more economical cars that would almost certainly be quicker and cheaper, too.

It might be worth looking into.

Horsepower and the Police

Things that can’t go on, don’t. We all know that, but we don’t have to like it. In my lifetime, America has had two types of car guys, normal guys that like to go fast, and cops that like to go fast – sometimes chasing the first group. When I was young, it was reasonably good natured on both sides, as long as it didn’t get too crazy.

But I come from an age when engine sizes were measured in cubic inches, and the ones you really wanted started with a 4 followed by two more numbers. 401, 409, 425, 440, and above all 426 followed by Hemi, the elephant itself, If you liked to be both comfortable and fast, you could add 472 and 500. The ones starting with 3 were ok, and you could get to the second gas station, but they weren’t the same. Note that there isn’t anything new about it, either, Packard had a 473 cubic inch V-12 in the late 30s. Yes, I still want one of those, and you can buy one for less than $200K, a bargain!

The guys with the bubble gum machines on top were not very different. America’s a big place, so are were American cars, there was a lot of ground to cover, and it needed to be done real quick.

What brought this on? Ford has announced the end of the Taurus, their last reasonable sized, rear wheel drive car, in other words: suitable for police use. That leaves the Dodge Charger, and its days are probably numbered as well. Why? Well, there is a story in that.

Back in the early seventies, civilians were driving cars with names like Camaro, Firebird, Charger, Challenger, Cutlass, Mustang, and some others. Most were pretty crude, with maybe an AM radio, but a proper gauge package, four-speed transmission, limited slip differential, and serious horsepower. The only thing they couldn’t pass was a gas station, but who really cared when we were paying 50¢ or so a gallon for gas.

But then we resupplied Israel during and after the Yom Kippur war, and the Arabs got irritated and started raising the price of crude oil, and the insurance companies decided they’d had enough of teenagers with powerful cars, and insurance became unaffordable. At that point, Uncle stepped in and mandated fuel mileage standards, and the party was over. For us and for Detroit too.

Essentially that triple whammy killed the American car industry, poor quality control didn’t help, but there wasn’t anything new about that. The knock on effects had much to do with the death of American steel as well. And so the rust belt became the rust belt. I lived there, I watched it happen. The rust belt was caused by the US government, never forget it.

So, what did we do? We soldiered on for a few years with pretenders, like Malibus with 305 2 bbl engines, but Detroit still had some marketing savvy, and soon the workaday American pickup got comfortable, and got most of the toys we had in the sixties, including the big engines, eventually things like Cummins Turbo Diesels (a transplant from an industrial engine) with anything up to somewhere around 750 horsepower. At that point most of us car guys became truck guys.

That set off the sourpusses at the EPA so they’ve been trying to rein that in as well, but they’re having trouble managing that, Americans aren’t as docile as we used to be, and the country hasn’t gotten any smaller, and our motto is still, “Real quick” just as d Tocqueville noticed way back when. And in truth when the Kabuki theater of TSA got going, driving became even more attractive.

The Police are doing the exact same thing we did, more and more they are driving SUVs and Pickups, because if anything they’re carrying more stuff around with them, and it ain’t gonna fit in a smart car, and a Prius ain’t gonna catch many bank robbers.

Unintended consequences, damned near killed America, but we’re still here, bitchin’, moanin’, and getting on with it. And that is how we got both Donald Trump, and Scot Pruitt.

More on this at The American Spectator.

Government Flutters Its Wings – and Destroying the Nation, One City at a Time.

Portrait of Sir John Sinclair

Portrait of Sir John Sinclair (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over at RedState yesterday, Seton Motley has an article about how the Democrats are using chaos theory to destroy industry after industry, and I’ll add that they are doing so with at the least Republican acquiescence. It’s a sad story of the corruption (and weakening) of the Republic, but it is not a new one, it goes back to Teddy Roosevelt and Wilson, but picked up a lot of speed with Franklin Roosevelt, and even more with Johnson. Now it is getting to the end game, and either we do something about it or the dream ends, I think. Here’s a bit.

Government Flutters Its Wings – and Industries Nationwide Are Blown Away

A Leftist governmental principle is the Butterfly Effect: “A property of chaotic systems…by which small changes in initial conditions can lead to large-scale and unpredictable variation in the future state of the system.”

The Butterfly Effect is also known as Chaos Theory: “The field of study in mathematics that studies the behavior and condition of dynamical systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions.”

In layman’s terms: “It has been said that something as small as the flutter of a butterfly’s wing can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world.”

Leftists use government – to create private sector chaos. Even the tiniest of new laws or regulations send huge shockwaves throughout the economy. Leftists increasingly flap government’s wings – to further amp up the private sector typhoon.

No administration has marshaled more winged creatures – than has the Barack Obama Administration. And don’t think butterflies – think dragons. The resulting, ramped up economic typhoon has been devastating. Sector after sector has been consumed by the storm.

For instance, pre-President Obama said “If someone wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can – it’s just that it’ll bankrupt them.” Mission being accomplished: “Obama’s policies have ‘helped spur the closing of dozens of coal plants across the country,’ according to Politico. The November 2015 report states: ‘More than one in five coal-related jobs have disappeared during Obama’s presidency, and several major U.S. coal mining companies have announced this year that they would or may soon seek bankruptcy protection.’”

And believe me – you do not want to be a farmer in the Age of Obama.

It was already awful four years ago. EPA Regulations Suffocating U.S. Agriculture: “The Environmental Protection Agency has set in motion a significant number of new regulations that will significantly change the face of agriculture.

via Government Flutters Its Wings – and Industries Nationwide Are Blown Away | RedState.

Yep, and don’t think it’s limited to business, which farming is, it has repercussions in many people’s lives, especially the poor, and downtrodden amongst us. Bill Whittle covered that better than I can here, in his Death by Democrats:

Adam Smith did indeed write to Sir John Sinclair with regard to the news of Burgoyne’s surrender at Saratoga that:

“There is a great deal of ruin in a nation”

And that may save us yet if we put our shoulders to the wheel, but the hour grows later and later.

OF MG, and Lotus, and Jaguar, and Chevy and Dodge

1953_mg_td-pic-7992610729001336577I don’t know how many of you became fans of Top Gear, the UK version, I never really got into the US version. The UK version could perhaps be best described as ‘quirky’. In truth, it was a good bit like a bunch of drunken teenagers playing with their dad’s quarter of a million dollar cars on TV.

Yes, there was some real information conveyed but mostly it was about how fast you can wear out a set of tires. That’s fine, I remember those days fondly, myself, and in many ways that’s what it was about.

The lead presenter, Jeremy Clarkson, whom I gather had much to do with reinventing the show as a ‘bloke show’ as I described above, actually is a fairly intelligent guys, and a British patriot as well. He has a show out about what happened to the British car industry and it’s pretty good.

Like most guys my age, I grew up loving cars, especially those ones with names like Charger, GTO, Cutlass, Camaro, or pretty much anything with a bowtie combined with the letters SS. It was a good world, cars were reasonably priced, and gasoline was about a quarter a gallon. Then the EPA and Arabs showed up and the party ended, and much else besides. When the exhaust recommendation made almost all cars pretty much into boxes as exciting as mom’s washing machine, most of us went to trucks, and that is about the only reason that the US makers survived. Nobody else in the world seems to be able to make a proper pick-up, only Toyota even came close.

But Britain was different. My first encounter with a British car was an MG TC (or maybe TD) when I was in college. It was slow, rough riding, ridiculously small, colder than a witch’s body part encased in brass, completely unreliable, and leaked like a sieve. You know, something else, I loved that fool thing, if dad would have let me, I’d have bought one myself. The thing is, the one I drove, it belonged to a friend, was about a 1960 model, of a pre-war car, and very few changes had been made. It got its start here when some of them came home with our soldiers, next best thing to a British bride, I think. 🙂

Then somebody showed up with a Lotus, it was all of the above, except slow. My biggest trouble with it was, in fact, that at 20 years old or so, I could just about, almost, get into the fool thing. The one that was around was bright yellow. We called it ‘arrest me yellow’, in fact, and the car was nicknamed the Screaming Yellow Zonker, and it was very apt.

Then like us all, I went to work and mostly drove Chevys and Dodges, and maybe an occasional Buick. They weren’t bad, really, for appliances, but nobody ever called a LeSabre a screaming yellow zonker.

Our nanny state pretty much made it too expensive for almost any interesting car to be sold here, and if it was, it was so compromised by regulation, that it wasn’t worth it anyway, that’s why we got aberrations like Mustang IIs, there wasn’t anything even close to reasonable.

Apparently Britain was a bit smarter, which wouldn’t have been hard, because all those interesting cars kept getting built and sold. Not all were British; Renault, Fiat, Ferrari and such kept on, you just hardly ever saw them in the US. We got what GM wanted, and we the customers were increasingly irrelevant.

In any case, the Brits had/have trouble with the auto industry as well, and Clarkson does, I think a fair job at describing what its problems were that pretty much killed it. It’s still unfolding here, but our auto industry (and many others as well) are following the same path, so this is kind of a prophecy of what the future will bring here as well, if we don’t change our ways.

Enjoy the video, in any case.

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