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The Day After Tomorrow

| Friday, Apr. 18, 2014

Another year, another Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report on Global Warming. This time around, as formerly Third-World countries’ economic health improves and they rush to finally join the automotive age created 120 years ago, automobile emissions are named as one of the biggest threats to the planet through at least the next 37 years.

Recall Scandal Reality

|Friday, Apr. 11, 2014

Americans love scandals — the bigger the better. Particularly when the rich or powerful are caught doing things contrary to what we believe are our high moral standards. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the Harding Administration’s Teapot Dome Scandal, JFK’s extramarital affairs, Watergate, Iran Contra, Mel Gibson’s alcohol-induced rages, or a poorly designed ignition switch in the Chevrolet Cobalt and similar cars from GM.

The Future is Electric

|Friday, Apr. 04, 2014

Lantana sits 11 miles south of Denton and, as the crow flies, almost the same distance north of the Grapevine Mills Mall; the area’s level of new residential and commercial development is almost breathtaking. And, while new homes can still be found there in the $200,000 range, a drive along FM407 shows not merely some of the finest mansions in North Texas, but a few legitimate castles here and there to silently proclaim that some of our fellow citizens’ business pursuits have done extremely well.

‘Some Kids’ and Cars

Friday, Mar. 28, 2014

From time to time in talk radio, one gets some silly but potentially tragic phone calls. I received one from a gentleman looking for the absolute “safest” car for his teenage driver. He had one essential criterion: It had to have a manual transmission. He reasoned that shifting gears would make it harder for his teenager to text while driving. In reality, one more thing to do while driving and texting would make things worse, not better.

Rust Belt Blues

|Friday, Mar. 14, 2014

For six decades starting in the 1920s, as rising incomes and automobile ownership changed how we viewed our country, family vacations were an annual rite of passage for America’s youth. Traveling by car brought us together as a nation by forcing us to come face to face with other Americans, often a thousand miles away from where we called home. From the family vehicle we saw for ourselves the good and bad, the prosperous cities and the poor, from a street-level perspective. Automobile touring took us away, but we could still relate to others at first hand.

Hype Springs Eternal

| Thursday, Mar. 06, 2014

Over the years, numerous friends and many in my audience have suggested that my ability to forecast future events correctly must mean I’m some sort of genius. While I appreciate the misguided compliment, I also deny it completely. At best I’m simply a master of the obvious, armed with nothing more than 4th-grade math — my primary weapon against hype. Therein lies my sole ability to see what is coming next.

Leaving Detroit

| |Friday, Feb. 28, 2014

In the nine months from the summer of 1890 to the spring of 1891, the families of both the Police Commissioner and Police Court Judge of Saginaw, Mich., welcomed new baby boys. One would grow up to become the famous cowboy movie star, Tim McCoy; and the other would become my grandfather. Apparently, neither boy wanted to stay in Saginaw, much less Michigan. But I find it interesting to follow, in my grandparents’ travels, the rise and fall of Michigan and Detroit.

Northern Union Invades Again

|Friday, Feb. 21, 2014

Now that we have celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles’ coming to America, next up will be the 100th Anniversary of the start of the Great War. And no sooner will we end our sad remembrance of that event than our national attention will turn to marking the 150th year since the tragic Civil War ended. Yet in some ways, and in some parts of the South, the Civil War never did end. Not really.

Car Sales Insanity

|Friday, Feb. 14, 2014

Selling automobiles has never been easy, at least not in my lifetime. Maybe it was from 1946 to 1952, when the pent-up demand of not having had any cars to sell during the Second World War finally caught up to retail availability with a vengeance.

America’s Next Exports

|Friday, Feb. 07, 2014

In mid-January I was in the offices of Kwik Industries in North Dallas discussing future projects with owner Ray Ellis. Since the early 60s Ellis has been building car washes and lube centers for individuals; at one, the car wash attached to the Conoco station on Camp Bowie, Skipper Brown and I pumped gasoline in 1968. But on this day Ellis was showing me a new location he had acquired in Haslet, where he was about to start construction on a new project. Opening up the satellite map a bit more, he worried, “I just don’t know how anyone is ever going to develop that area,” adding, “there’s just too many gas wells.”