Tuesday, October 7, 2014

TeaProgs


It has been a year since I have felt compelled to update this site with a new post. That's simply because I realized that no one gives a rat's ass. Like everything else in the USA, blogging has become just another stinking scam. If you post every day to a target audience, telling them exactly what they want to hear, no matter how many times you repeat the same message, your readership will grow. If you try to tell your readers anything new that will actually effect change, forget it! All the readers want to do is to read the same reassuring crap over and over again so they can convince themselves that they are right and everyone else is wrong.

The USA, soon followed by the rest of the world, will begin to rip apart at the seams no later than April Fool's Day, 2025. This is not an April Fool's joke. This will really happen. Why. because the USA lacks the political will to do anything to stop it.

I am a TeaProg. I am a strong supporter of Elizabeth Warren. I do not want to see her just continue to mouth off on TV. I want her to run for President, to challenge the Smirking Corporate Queen for the Democratic nomination. If Ms. Warren does not do this, she is either a coward or a con artist. I do not know which at this point, but if she does not run, she is one or the other. It could not be more clear that the Democratic Party desperately needs its own Tea Party, a new driving force within the party. Third parties offer no hope on a national scale. They only split elections. We are stuck with the two parties and we need to deal with it.

Hubert Humphrey started this stinking mess in 1968 and it is time he was properly blamed for it. He turned the Democratic Party into the Party of Minorities, while selling out Boardwalk and Park Place to the Republicans. He managed to do this under cover of the Vietnam War and the draft, the issue that was raging outside the Democratic National Convention at the time. That was then and this is now. The whole rotten, stinking mess has caught up with the Democrats. They have spent over forty years alienating the white males of America, the voting block that consistently votes in the highest percentages. They have institutionalized a gag order about race and socioeconomic class that has effectively paralyzed what has always been, and should continue to be, the party of the people. The Democratic Party should be the Party of the 99%, not the Party of Minorities.

At this point I do not expect much to change. The Huffington Post and Salon will continue to feature articles that exacerbate the problem. They will continue to publish what I call pornography for empowered women as entertainment and issues that hit the hot buttons of lower socioeconomic minorities. The former group will giggle and the latter will mouth off their frustration, but nothing will change.

The TeaProgs should absolutely be a faction within the Democratic Party. Any third party concepts should be immediately trashed. If they are not, a portion of the TeaProgs will relentlessly slap-fight over the results of the 2000 election. Did Ralph Nader cause the Democrats to lose? We shall never know, but the endless squabbling among left-wingers over the issue will never die, so any competition among Dems in the future should remain within the primary system.

A Few Notes from the TeaProg Platform

The #1 issue is to be income inequality that affects all Americans. The losing tactic of identity politics as founded by losing presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey should be forever de-emphasized by the party. The Democrats should return to being the Party of the People.

Return to the progressive income tax rates of the Sixties. Put a small tax on all stock trades. Increase the taxation on the estates of the richest Americans. Delete the distinction between earned and unearned income utilized by the IRS. Tax all income types at the same rates.

Reward corporations who employ Americans and penalize those who downsize Americans to move jobs elsewhere. Punish any corporation that utilizes a loophole in our laws to avoid paying American tax rates.

Place new restrictions on banking of all types. Add a reasonable ceiling to credit card rates and college loan rates. Increase the rates of returns on citizens' savings accounts and decrease the span between the rates banks pay on these accounts and the rates they charge for loans of all types.

Cease interfering in overseas conflicts without full Congressional approval.

Scale back the War on Drugs on a national scale. Begin by removing marijuana from the Schedule 1 drug list. Reduce sentences for all victimless drug crimes. Halt all unnecessary drug testing by corporations for employment in all low-level, menial jobs. Revoke all law enforcement privileges of the seizure of assets for as yet convicted drug trafficking suspects.

Reduce the powers of the NSA in its intelligence gathering of information on U.S. citizens not charged with any crime.

Provide full support for Social Security and Medicare for the indefinite future. Remove the income cap from SS taxes and increase the rates gradually over time. Also gradually increase the payouts to individuals over time. Support a change to a single payer health plan with a final goal of providing Medicare for all U.S. citizens.

A Little History Lesson

Hubert Humphrey entered the 1968 DNC without a single primary vote having been cast for him. In 1968 Humphrey was a very unpopular Democratic candidate due to his direct support of the Vietnam War, but the changes he led in the Democratic Party have had many more far-reaching consequences. The Democratic Party distanced itself from Zero Population Growth. ZPG was the leading organization in the Sixties that was trying to save the earth from all of us. The only reason the Democrats did this was to pander to the lowest level of thinking by certain minority groups. The human population is the world's #1 problem. It exacerbates global warming, peak oil, water supplies, food supplies, demographics, and the demise of all other species on Earth. The simple fact is that lower socioeconomic groups vote in tiny percentages. No demographic votes more reliably than white males, closely followed by white females. These are the very two groups that have been shunned by the Democrats for decades. If you want to change this fact, simply make voting mandatory. You don't like that idea? The alternative is to bring some of the white voters back to the Democratic side from the Republicans. This is not difficult to do. You only need to convincingly reach out to the millions of moderate Republicans. To do that you must abandon the identity politics that have infected the Democrats for decades while showing that the Democrats really stand for something. This means real issues that matter to the 99%. No more splintering of the party this way and that in order to just take the easy way out to gain votes in the short term. The Republicans have been taking voters from us for decades. It is time we took some of them back!

That Was Then and This Is Now

Voting is always good. Everyone should do it in every election. I have already voted in the 2014 midterms. Seniors can vote early by mail in Texas. Of course I voted for Wendy Davis, but of course I am certain she does not have a prayer. I would much rather vote for Wendy as Elizabeth Warren's VP. In this red state, the Republicans will simply label her Abortion Barbie and win easily. I voted for Hillary in the 2008 primary because I thought putting her in office first made a lot more tactical sense, and I still think that idea would have been the smart tactic to take. After eight years of President Chickennuts, things have changed. In fact, a lot has changed. The USA (and the world) cannot survive eight years of Hillary doing absolutely nothing to make our nation and the world a better place for all of us. If you believe she will do anything at all significant for the middle class or the 99%, you are simply delusional. Go do some Internet research. Bill and Hillary were the ringleaders of The Third Way, the very concept that made the Democrats the Party of Minorities while they sold the economy to Wall Street. The last real Democratic President of the People was Jimmy Carter! 

While you are researching history, take note of several patterns that have held true during most of our lifetimes. Most of the stock market crashes that led to recessions occurred in either October or the first quarter of a new year. The rate of occurrence of these crashes is accelerating. The last time we produced most of the oil we use in the U.S. was 1970. When we had that little gasoline scare in 1973, there were a lot more operating grocery stores and most of them were a lot closer to much of the population. Try to imagine an America in which many citizens could suddenly not drive to their local grocery store. Try to imagine the hoarding and the consequential panic that would ensue. There was no global warming or water crisis in 1973. Nor was there Fox News, CNN, or Rush Limbaugh to fan the flames of the panic. The key difference between the whole world is watching the 1968 Democratic Convention and the Occupy Movement was the draft. Like mandatory voting, I doubt that many of you would support bringing back the draft, either. So what are you going to do about it?

There can be only one answer. We are going to support, strengthen, and change the national Democratic Party with our votes. We are not going to support a third party concept that offers hope only of splitting the left wing voting block. We are going to vote in all primary elections. That is, after all, where the real damage by the corporate, lesser of two evils, Democratic leadership is done. Once we reach any general election, there is only one sane answer for the 99%. I cannot help it if many Americans are not sane enough to vote in their own best interests. What I can do is to support any movement that brings the smarter members of that voting block back to the Party of the People from the Party of the 1%. But first we have to create The TeaProg Revolution. We have to emulate the Tea Party Republicans' tactics, but with real American values of compassion and socioeconomic support for all. We can resuscitate The American Dream, but we must control the human population to do it. We must cease herding cats of many species, each with its own political agenda and embrace the wolf pack hunting tactics of the Republicans. We must publicly diminish our relentless playing of the race card, the gay card, and the atheist card. We can always support minorities without continually proving to the moderate Republican voters that that is ALL we support. We must return to being the Party of the People, not the party only of disparate types of people who rarely vote.

Remember the date of April 1, 2025. Write it down. It will be the beginning of the end, at least if it has not begun already by that time. This is my final date of prediction. The whole mess could begin crashing down tomorrow. Why not? It's October in an election year. The Republicans could see a golden opportunity and Fox News would be thrilled to spread the word. The other team has no interest whatsoever in doing the right things for 99% of Americans. It is up to us to do the job. Relentlessly voting for the lesser of two evils is not the way to accomplish this. Neither is voting third party. Neither is not voting at all just to teach them a lesson. Most of all, squabbling among ourselves is not the way to save the nation. The whole world will be watching again in 2016 and Hillary Clinton will be the new Hubert Humphrey.

To learn a lot more of the history and background of this story, read Paradigm Shift: The Palin Matrix: The Progressive Left Strikes Back! Thank you for your support.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Last Affordable Classic Vehicles from Our Youth



Let's begin with full disclosure. The author of this article's most recent book is The Tiddler Invasion: Small Motorcycles of the Sixties. The book is almost three pounds of 615 pages, 430 photographs, and 180 charts on the subject of this article. If you wish to read a lot more detail on this subject, you will find it there. This is obviously a subject close to my heart or I would not have spent years researching it. Now on to the big picture!

I have been literally obsessed with classic vehicles of The Sixties since The Sixties. I am a devoted fan of the motorcycles and cars of the period. The relevant point I wish to make now is that all the others have more or less been priced out of the reach of many ordinary Americans who would dearly love to own one of the nostalgic machines from this era. Have you priced a 1969 427 Stingray or 1970 Superbird lately? How about a Mustang 289 GT Convertible or a turbocharged Corvair Spyder? Even a nice Falcon Futura Convertible will cost much more than you might have dreamed twenty years ago!

Let's subtract a couple of wheels. You won't get much change back (if any at all) from $10,000 for a a nicely restored 1966 Triumph Bonneville or a Harley-Davidson XLH 883 or even a BMW R-69S 250, but have you considered a Honda or Yamaha from their early years? These tiny (by today's standards) machines were far more reliable than most anything produced during the period on either two wheels or four. We all know that the only way to hurt a typical Honda motorcycle of the period is to rear back and throw a brick at it! If you want to pay more for a machine that will likely increase more in value than the common Japanese machines, consider a small Harley-Davidson, Cushman, or Allstate. Of course the small Ducatis, BMW's, and Triumphs are always likely to increase in value. Even classic Vespas still have a significant following today.

In the postwar period up until 1960, the machines were all manufactured in the USA and Europe. Many of these have been continually considered classics for some time, and the prices have risen accordingly. The Japanese brands began to establish American distributorships with the arrival of Honda in mid-1959. Yamaha, Suzuki, Bridgestone, Hodaka and several others arrived up through 1964. It would be 1966 before Kawasaki got serious about the U.S. market, but by '69 the company was leading the high-performance segment. The Seventies were mostly a decade of refinement as the Big Four moved steadily up-market. The Eighties would bring at least a few models that would continue in production up through the present day. The Nineties would bring a revival of popularity for motor scooters from Italy, Japan, and elsewhere in the Orient. The latest trend, to the chagrin of some, has been the proliferation of no-name scooters from China, ordered off the Internet at fire-sale prices.

Although all of these types of machines are available to collectors and restorers, this article is about the central focus of The Tiddler Invasion, the common, highly reliable and practical plethora of small machines exported to the U.S. from Japan during the exciting Sixties of our youth. These are the models that still may offer some affordability and leave a little room for prices to inflate later on. The rarest of the rare can be excluded from this list because their price gains have long ago accelerated. These include the rare Hondas first imported in very small numbers during the seminal 1959-62 period and later high-performance classics such as the 1969 Honda 750 Four and 1979 CBX. The bargains in those departments are long gone.

An analysis of the early Japanese machines will show a few distinct periods. The earliest models were usually distinguished by their tiny tail lights, turn signals that were close together in the left-right dimension, and in some cases, low handlebars or rotary transmissions. The last item was popular in Japan, but not so suitable for the American market. Not many American riders want to find Neutral or First Gear immediately following the top gear in the shift pattern! The next period from approximately 1964 through 1968 brought more attention to models and designs created directly for the American buyers. With most brands, these were continued refinements of the '59-'63 models. After 1968, the performance race was in high gear and the emphasis slowly shifted away from the small tiddlers of the earlier years. Beginning with the Suzuki 500 Five, Kawasaki Mach III, Honda 750 Four, and Yamaha XS-1, the writing was already visible on the driveway.

Here are a few points to consider if you are looking for a classic tiddler to purchase or restore. Honda dominated the market like nobody's business, so there will always be a stronger market with far more parts availability for Hondas than for the many competing two-stroke brands. This does not make restoration of an early Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Bridgestone, or Hodaka impossible, but it certainly might slow down the parts scavenger hunt a bit. Consider that some particular models do have loyal fans who perpetuate a cult following. The restoration of some of these models will be somewhat easier to accomplish and the resale market could be a little stronger when completed. These include the Yamaha XS-1 650 twin, Suzuki X-6 Hustler, Kawasaki Triples, and several Honda models such as the Trail 70, Trail 90, Super 90, and the Hawks and Dreams. Although the cult may have yet to fully blossom, you will rarely go wrong with any Honda Scrambler, either. The Honda twins of the 1968-74 period are likely to continue an upward trend, following in the tire tracks of their Hawk and Dream predecessors.

Once the prices of the Japanese tiddlers have inflated, there will be few entertaining, affordable vehicles left from the classic era. Many of the smallest, most common machines from our earliest driving days are now in the over-$5000 bracket. The few remaining are quickly heading in that upward direction, too. If you wish to recapture that special era on two wheels, time is running out!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Classic Honda Motorcycle Photos


The new book The Tiddler Invasion contains 430 photos of classic bikes from 1955-75. These include the Honda CB-92, CB-92R, Cubs, Dreams, Benlys, Scramblers, Super Sports, and Motosports. There are photos of classic Kawasakis, Yamahas, Suzukis, Bridgestones, Harley Hummers, Cushmans, Bultacos, Montesas, Triumph Tiger Cubs, Vespas, Lambrettas, BSA 441's, Allstate Twingles, BMW Singles, and many, many more! The Kawasaki Triples, early Singles, and '60's Twins are included. The Suzuki, Bridgestone, Yamaha, and Kawasaki chapters include many rare brochure photos of the earliest models to reach our shores. The Bridgestone 50's and 90's are shown in period advertising. There are also 180 charts of the models imported into the USA in the 1955-75 period. The Tiddler Invasion is over 600 pages of classic motorcycle history, nostalgia, and research on both common and rare models of the period. Available in B&W print and Color Kindle editions. Get yours from Amazon today!!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Tiddler Invasion Kindle Color Edition


The Kindle Color Edition of The Tiddler Invasion: Small Motorcycles of the Sixties has just been released at Amazon. It will always be available as an alternative to the print edition at a somewhat lesser price, although the price differential may be minimal. This is not your average Kindle book. It is a substitute for what would have to be a high-priced print book, and a color print version would have to be a severely edited edition! The release of these two particular editions was planned from the inception. The problem is simply that a print version cannot be produced in color without cutting the photo count by a third and at least doubling the price! Although I have not completely ruled out that possibility for a later release, the appeal of such a pricey package would certainly be limited.

The Kindle Color Edition is not a book designed for an actual Kindle display. There are far too many photos and charts. This not only makes the file download to your small device 18 MB, it means that you will either have to read the text in a small font or else scroll around a lot to view each large photo, its caption, and the nearby text. Where I think the Kindle Color Edition will be more effective is in the Kindle for PC software, a free download from Amazon for any desktop or laptop. With this software you could potentially view the book on a much larger screen. The catch is that you would have to read the material on your computer. By far the biggest reason to have the print version is that you can read it anywhere and enjoy the long narratives as well as the charts and photos. The Kindle Edition has one big claim to fame:

About 390 of the 430 photos in the Kindle Edition are in full color!

The only black-and-white photos in the Kindle Edition are those that were B&W in the original prints. The remainder of the 430 photos in the book are in color. This is the one thing the regular 616-page print version cannot duplicate! The photo file sizes are too  large and there are too many of them to fit within a reasonably priced color print edition.

There are a few final notes concerning the Kindle Color Edition. Most of the page layout details of the 7x10 print book have of course been removed. All the photos, no matter how large or small, are centered in the viewing area. There are no page numbers or indexes. The Table of Contents in the front and the Photo Credits in the back of the book have been turned into links. In this version, the reader simply looks up where he wishes to go in either link list and jumps directly to that "page" of the book. You can readily see where the Kindle Color Edition might be handy for viewing the photos in full color or researching particular machines or sections of the book. The print version is still far superior as a fun read with its descriptive narratives and nostalgic stories. For those who really want to see the photos in all their glory or just bounce around the many charts and other reference details, the Kindle Color Edition offers an exciting alternative at an equally reasonable price. No kidding, if someone else had written The Tiddler Invasion, I would want to own both versions!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Small Motorcycles of the Sixties


The Tiddler Invasion is now at Amazon. The following information was written to describe the book at Amazon, but this material has not yet appeared on the page with the book. The description should be there within a week or so, but you can order The Tiddler Invasion from Amazon now.

This is the book collectors, restorers, and nostalgic fans of the machines of our youth have been waiting to arrive! After years of extensive research through archives of motorcycle magazines, books, and brochures from the classic era, the founder of the seminal Tiddlerosis website has published his magnum opus on the subject. The Tiddler Invasion covers many miles of two-wheeled motorized nostalgia. Thousands of facts, figures, colors, specifications, and even original prices are packed into more than 600 detailed pages. The story of the invasion of the USA by small motorcycles and scooters in the 1955-1975 era is told with enthusiasm for these many wondrous little machines by someone who lived through that special time in our nation's history. The book includes approximately 180 charts of the popular models sold in the U.S. during the period and well over 400 B&W photos. The author and two major collectors of these special little bikes share nostalgic personal remembrances of a wondrous time past.

The focus of The Tiddler Invasion is on the most common machines of the period, mostly from Japan. Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Suzuki each have a detailed chapter. Bridgestone, Hodaka, Tohatsu, and other early brands share a chapter. The story basically begins with the arrival of the Honda 50 in 1959 and ends with the release of the Gold Wing in 1975. The tiddler era rose to prominence in the Sixties and began its slow descent into obscurity as the Kawasaki Mach III, the Honda 750 Four, and the Kawasaki Z-1 took over the U.S. motorcycle market.

The major brands from the USA are detailed in a chapter, too. This group is of course dominated by Harley-Davidson, Allstate, and Cushman, just as it was back then. There are no H-D Big Twins here, but plenty of Hummers, Toppers, Super Eagles, Mopeds and Twingles!

There were countless European brands and models imported in the Sixties, but only those of significance are included. As we all know, most of the European models were either large road burners, obscure small Italian bikes and scooters, or off-road competition machines. You will not find Nortons, Guzzis, Maicos or Parillas here, but the European chapter is quite sizable nonetheless.

The most difficult element to communicate to a prospective reader is the definition of the machines and parameters included in this book. The concept of The Tiddler Invasion is unique to the time and place. Although the 50cc machines began Americans' rush to motorcycle dealerships, the market rapidly expanded from that point. The smallest machines covered in the book are the true tiddlers, but these little putt-putts for kids comprised only the tip of the iceberg. Many classic 250cc sports machines such as the Ducati Diana, Harley-Davidson Sprint H, Honda Hawk, Yamaha YDS-2, Suzuki X-6, and Bultaco Metralla roar through the pages of this book! The Kawasaki Triples scream through it so much you will choke on the two-stroke smoke! The author has a thing for the Honda Scramblers, as if they were dark-haired beauties in bikinis or something. The kings of upswept exhaust pipes and crossbrace handlebars get their own chapter.

Once you have possession of this book, you will never want to give it up. The Tidder Invasion is not a coffee table book of pretty color pictures. It is a reference guide crammed to the Snuff-or-Nots with useful info for collectors and enthusiasts of small classic motorcycles.

The author began collecting motorcycle brochures and magazines in 1962. Reproductions of and detailed information from these sources are included in this extensive reference guide. The author of this book is not a collector, a photographer, or a restorer. He is a super-nerd who clearly loves these classic machines. The earliest part of this book was written in 1985 on a 1959 IBM typewriter. Now with the help of modern computers, the whole, wonderful, magical story of that very special era in American history can finally be told!

 Floyd M. Orr is a retiree from the financial services industry who has published seven books since 2000. He is not a prolific author. The Tiddler Invasion is the only book he will ever write about motorcycles. His books are of a unique type he calls Nonfiction in a Fictional Style. No two are from the same subject matter, yet all the author's books in the NIAFS Series share certain characteristics. Each one is firmly rooted in American Baby Boomer history, particularly the 1960s. Each contains thousands of facts and figures about the subject matter (remember the author's career background). Each book covers its subject matter with entertaining stories of nostalgia to complement the plethora of facts and figures. Every NIAFS book has been designed to be read first cover to cover and then kept on a shelf as a continually long-term reference.

Floyd M. Orr has always been a skinny little bookworm who lacks the physical traits necessary for success in competitive sports. He was born and raised in small towns in Mississippi and has lived his adult life in Texas. From the time he was handlebar high to a Harley Hummer, he has been fascinated with small motorcycles. His first access to the machines of his youth was discovered through the Sears Roebuck catalogs of the Fifties. The author's obsession was poured into concrete when his best friend got a Harley-Davidson Super 10 and his favorite cousin acquired a Honda Benly 150 in early 1960. He would soon become an avid trail rider while that new sport was in its infancy. He rode his Honda 350 from Mississippi to California in 1971. Like many young men of his generation, he was compelled to "find himself" by imitating Captain America. It was so much fun he did it TWICE to the tune of a howling Honda Scrambler!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

America, We Have Been Invaded!

The Tiddler Invasion: Small Motorcycles of the Sixties  
 (616 pages - 6/29/13 - $28.95)

My latest book project just went live an hour ago. This is a copy of the front and back covers of the largest book project I shall ever dare to undertake. This monster began with a small idea for my first book back in 1985. The oldest story in it was typed on my 1959 IBM. The latest material was created with my IBP (I Buy Power) computer. The IBM had one KB of RAM, me. The IBP has four GB attached to a 2 TB hard drive. These attributes came in handy while I was creating the monster. The Tiddler Invasion was partially created from 5.5 GB of files of old motorcycle photos. The  7" x 10" format 616-page book is crammed to the exhaust pipes with detailed information. There are 180 charts of cycle models and 430 photos. The Bibliography alone is huge. This book is priced higher than my earlier books because the project and the finished product were and are sizable, to say the least. Thousands of photos were considered for inclusion, and of course most were left on the hard drive. Hundreds of books, magazines and brochures were read and thoroughly examined countless times to sort out the foggy details from as far back as fifty years ago. Take a ride on the wild side back to the magical days of the Sixties. Here is one of my favorite poignant excerpts from the book:


Whiffs of Magical Memories...

...I Remember Them Like It Was Yesterday

I could not wait for each new Sears catalog to arrive. There was that Allstate Moped that maybe one day I could afford for only $179.95 in 36 easy payments. No more pedaling uphill! The hardtail 125 would prepare me visually for the Super 10 I would meet in 1960, but I choked on the thought of its hand shift. It had only a single seat so I could not carry a passenger. What I really wanted was that Allstate 175 in black with a dual saddle!

A couple of young punks I knew in high school, identical twins actually, rode these strange, gangly, antique-looking Simplex machines. They were identical, just like their pilots. Those belt drives looked weird, man.

Some of us had a scooter, usually an Allstate Cruisaire. The kick starter had no cache. The bulbous body had no style, at least not any we wanted to be seen with, and the ponderous hand shift was klunky, but at least it had a clutch. The innocent putt-putting exhaust and small wheels rolled us to school without pedaling, but it just wasn't quite a motorcycle!

That Harley-Davidson Super 10 was so American, so stylish with its big wheels, Buckhorn handlebars, swoopy Buddy Seat, and hardtail non-rear suspension. I remember the way the oversized footpegs flopped down loosely, not spring-loaded. The handgrips were large, fit for a real man. The kick starter was on the left side where you had to stand beside the machine, holding it off the stand with those tall bars, and kick it vigorously several times to start it.

There was one guy in town who had a Sportster. He was a real guy, a man's man. Of course I don't really remember him, his name or what he looked like. I don't even remember his girlfriend. But I remember the swoopy style of that rolling thunder he rode.

The first time I saw a Honda, I wondered if the name was meant to look and sound American. Some of the local rednecks mispronounced it as Hondo, like the old John Wayne western. This was a Benly Touring 150 with bodywork that seemed so modern at the time. The kick starter folded, but you did not even have to use it.

The first time I saw a Honda Super Sports Cub, I marveled at its tiny jewel-like presence. Its handgrips seemed too small, like its quiet sound, yet it was a real motorcycle nonetheless. The footshift was only a three-speed, but you had to learn the process of starting and shifting with a clutch.

Just as some of the local yahoos thought a Honda was a Hondo and a Yamaha was a Yammahaw, I the super nerd, thought it was a YaMAha.

There was a Honda dealership in the small town, but one bigger than the town I resided in, that was famous for having a virtual motorcycle junkyard out back, behind its little building. There were the remains of Honda 50's and Hawks, Dreams, and Benlys. Deceased Yamahas and even the occasional Suzi lounged in that graveyard of adolescent dreams. The man and his wife who owned the shop were legendary as Mr. & Mrs. Grouch, two selfish old critters who could be so nice, if only they would allow a punk like me to make a meager bid on a few of those wretched, disassembled bodies. I wanted so desperately to put together a tiddler I could afford and ride! Years later, when I was almost an adult, they gave me the best deal on a new Honda that would travel far and wide below my Captain America helmet.

My mom would drive me over there on a Sunday afternoon when the little dealership was closed, just so I could cup my hands around my eyes and stare through the glass into the dimness, ogling the machines therein. When the shop was open, I could smell that special whiff of the two-stroke oil in the dingy little Yamaha shop on a back street in a small town. I think the flavor was DA Speed Sport.

One lazy summer afternoon, a fellow tiddler buddy and I went over to see Dub Terry. That was his real nickname and he was the official Fonzie of our little town. He owned a beautiful red Honda Hawk that had been developed into what I would later come to know as a flat-tracker. It had a Super Sports 50 gas tank painted red, semi-knobby tires and open exhausts. The legend was that he would challenge some kid to a race. After the kid had zipped off down the road, Dub would come howling by on that fierce machine on one wheel. We later called it a wheelie.

You can never forget the first time you heard a Honda 250 or 305 Scrambler unmuffled in the distance. There was a special underwater warble to it that has never been duplicated to this day. When you rode one of these beasts in the dirt, the seat and suspension were misunderstandably stiff. That is the best way I can describe it.

The first time you sat down on a Hodaka and the soft seat and suspension went squish! you knew that dirt bikes had matured into what they were supposed to be.

The CL-350 was much softer and sweeter than its immediate predecessor. It had an electric starter, but I didn't use it much. I liked the feel of kicking it alive like a real man. The stroke of the kick starter seemed a bit short as the engine went thump-thump only once whenever it failed to fire on the first kick when cold. It always seemed to fire on one cylinder first for a few seconds before the second cylinder kicked in.

No one ever forgets his first Mach III experience. Two pipes on one side and only one on the other? Cool! And then there was the alien sound of dub-dub-drubble-bub. And then the carbs sucked so much air so fast that you completely forgot about the exhaust noise.

We all knew what a Ferrari was and that it had this sound of ripping silk shriek, but we had never heard a motorcycle that made that sound. The first CB-750 we encountered impressed us with its four pipes, front disc brake, and oversized instruments properly tilted back to stare us in the face. We knew it was a new kind of speed when we heard it scream down the street.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013


It's time for a look back and a look forward. You can read the prognostications I made on this date last year on my 2012 post. How did I do, eh? Did most of that stuff not fall into place just as I predicted?

As a person whose career was in the financial field, including eleven years at the IRS in various capacities, of course I have been following the Fiscal Cliff Fiasco closely. I don't have many issues with the outcome of the negotiations as we know them at this point. Of course the $450,000 cutoff point for the new tax rates is way too high: $250,000 is a far more rational figure. Unlike many far left wingers, I think the estate taxes are severe enough as negotiated. The most important issue I have is that the IRS concept of earned and unearned income, as mandated by the millionaires in congress, should have been thrown in the trash bin ages ago! The whole idea is a disgrace. If any income should be taxed higher, it should be the gravy from investments, not the meager wages of a poor, struggling family of four. The EITC should be the ITC. The massive numbers of filers of the Earned Income Tax Credit for children should have as simplified a tax form as possible. The unearned income crap needlessly complicates things. I am glad to see the capital gains tax raised to 20%, but that is still too low. All income should be taxed equally.

The blogs have been squabbling viciously over Obama's Chained CPI. This attempt by Obama to destroy the middle class once and for all cuts me to the bone. I feel strongly that this is and will be remembered as his NAFTA if he gets his way. I have always felt that NAFTA was Clinton's biggest mistake and the Chained CPI could be Obama's. This issue to me is second only to overpopulation as a definition of what has gone wrong with our economy and the soul of our once great nation. It has been crystal clear for a very long time that the millionaires and corporations of America do not give a rat's ass if they destroy the middle class by outsourcing, downsizing, and the general race to the bottom of the wage scale. I did not vote for Obama until I had to and I stand behind that concept. He is the lesser of evils and nothing more. He is good at war, but he sucks in standing up to the Republicans and his corporate masters.

I am reminded of one of Bill Hicks' most inspired comic bits. Bill barely lived to see Clinton elected. The legendary Austin comic had few grand illusions about our political system. He described the new President in The White House soon after his election. A few quietly serious guys in suits took the new President down to the basement. They sat him down and showed him a short film shot from a different camera angle than The Magruder Film, then asked the new president if he had any questions. Of course I seriously doubt that this has actually happened as stated in the joke. Haven't you ever wondered exactly who made the momentous decision to place an inexperienced state senator on the stage to give the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention in the summer of 2004?

My biggest concern is that this stupid little two-month delay in the cliff crisis will just prolong the agony until President Chickennuts gets the cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid that he wants. Why does he want them so badly? First of all, because his ego and popularity are the forces that control him. His relentless need to be popular defines who he is. I am amazed that his fat head even fits through the White House doors! Will the dreaded Chained CPI pass in 2013? I hesitate to make that call, but I do think it is more than a little possible. Although I think Obama is an excellent face of America to deal with our foreign affairs, I think the nickname I gave him is appropriate for most of his domestic battles. He wants to help the American people, but not at the expense of incurring the wrath of his corporate masters.

The Wall Street Journal published an article yesterday about four American corporate institutions that might go the way of the dodo in 2013. Sadly, I cannot agree more. They may not meet their demise this year, but we shall see it happen soon enough. The only questions are exactly when and in what order. Radio Shack, a Texas institution, was one of the first retailers to begin selling information about their customers. For this reason and others, I was a bigger fan of Lafayette Radio Electronics back in the good old days. What are they selling now that a customer cannot easily get elsewhere? Best Buy is caught in a retail shark sandwich between Amazon/J&R and Walmart/Target. I hate to see them go, but what can you do? They cannot undercut the prices of these competitors, no matter how hard they may try. Even their relatively small appliance market is under severe attack from Lowes and Home Depot. Penny's is going down? You mean they are still around? What are the hillbillies of America going to do when they no longer have the ubiquitous Sears & Roebuck catalog in their outhouses? What? You mean the Roebuck name and the big, fat catalogs have been gone for decades? Goodbye mall anchors!

Don't look for posts to consistently appear on this blog in the near future. I have almost completely ceased blogging. I have decided it is mostly a waste of time and creativity. All my energies of late have been put into my book projects, and that is the way things will likely stay for most or all of 2013. If you have read my 2012 post, surely you have realized by now that the infamous Fred book was a scam that has never come to fruition. The Blog Wars won. The American voters lost. I have disgustingly learned that the Cultural Elite of the Democratic Party is not a group that thinks like me. Look at the current slap-fights between Common Dreams/Firedoglake and Huffington Post/Politicususa. Have you caught on yet how much this is just like the infamous Babygate Blog Wars? I made only one short comment at Politicus about this topic: United we stand, divided we fall. I'll stick with that attitude.

The biggest issue we all face is still global warming and the overpopulation and over-consumption that drives it. At the rate we are going, I doubt that America will do much to change its collective mind about these issues in 2013. The political will still has its head firmly planted where it does none of us any good. The last two years have been chocked full of excitement if you are a weatherman, but very little seems to break through the fog.

Let's hope that twenty little first-graders who did not survive to experience the delights of Santa Claus in 2012 will adequately inspire our do-nothing Congress to finally clamp down on our rampant and rabid gun culture. I have lived in the South practically all my life. My favorite toys as a child were guns and I received my first rifle for Christmas at the age of ten. Most of the people I have known in my life have been gun owners. I still own a gun now. None of these validates the presence of military grade and style weapons pervasive throughout our civilian culture. The assault rifles, large magazines, and miscellaneous military and police paraphernalia need to go. I have no problem with other guns, including semi-automatic pistols with clips holding ten or less bullets. No one ever shot Bambi or defended his home with an assault rifle holding a hundred rounds of ammo. It's time to clamp down on Internet and gun show sales of these products, too. Maybe put some sort of limit on how much ammunition can be purchased by a single individual within a given period of time.

There is little question as to the effect mental instability has upon some of the individuals who carry out these mass murders. Surprisingly, the most detailed news story I have read on the latest mass shooting was in The National Enquirer. While the story was hot, I read the articles in the local Newtown papers. The Newtown Bee was a good second source. Aside from the direct tragedy of it all, the poignant issue I first noticed in the news was that the police and media held back as long as they could in describing the shooter's mental problems and the details of his weaponry. The fact that a shotgun was left in the suspect's deceased mother's car was repeated over and over. The fact that most, if not all, of the school murders were done with a military-style assault rifle was held back from the public for nearly two days. If you read the Enquirer article, you will learn that even the shotgun was unusual, a clue that Mom was indeed a survivalist gun nut, if not an outright Left Behind psycho. Guess what qualities she apparently instilled in her mentally disturbed son? I think the media wanted to hold back this information from the general public until the last minute. They knew that gun control issues would step back onto the table. Millionaires, corporations, and the media are the trifecta of evil control in America.

Some people think Hillary will be the next Democratic Presidential candidate. They are wrong. She is too old and too tired and she has done her duty. If I had the power to remove a decade from the ages of Hillary and Elizabeth Warren, I would do so in a heartbeat. As it is, I think the Dems are making a humongous mistake by not privately and publicly grooming a new youngster or two to replace Chickennuts. Hello, President Ryan (or Rubio or Jeb Bush or some other Republican). As the Firedoglakers are saying, if Obama succeeds in making the Chained CPI his NAFTA, the Democrats will lose in 2014, and again in 2016.

There is one thing I would like to see happen in 2013 that has little if any downside. It would boost the economy and save zillions in the federal budget. Take marijuana off the Schedule 1 drug list!!!