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Ben Franklin's bifocals Wednesday, February 10, 2007

Newspaperman William Allen White    Newspaperman William Allen White
[1868 - William Allen White, newspaper publisher, writer, born in Emporia, Kansas]

Poet & Writer Boris Pasternak    Boris Pasternak - his Doctor Zhivago
[1890 - Boris Pasternak, poet, writer, born in Moscow, Russia]

Actor Alan Hale    Actor Alan Hale as Little John
[1892 - Alan Hale (Rufus Edward Mackahan), actor, born in Washington, D.C.]

Comedian Jimmy Durante
[1893 - Jimmy (James Francis) Durante, actor,
comedian, born in Brooklyn]

Judith Anderson    Actress Dame Judith Anderson
[1898 - Dame Judith (Frances Margaret) Anderson, actress, born in Adelaide, South Australia]

Actor Lon Chaney, Jr.
[1906 - Lon (Creighton Tull) Chaney Jr., actor,
born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma]

Harmonica Virtuoso Larry Adler
[1914 - Lawrence 'Larry' Cecil Adler, composer,
musician, born in Baltimore, Maryland]

Researcher Alex Comfort    Alex Comfort's Joy of Sex
[1920 - Alexander Comfort, medical researcher, pacifist, author, born in London]

USS Sargo (SSN-583)
[1960 - USS Sargo (SSN-583) surfaces at North Pole]

Major Francis Gary Powers
[1962 - American U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers exchanged for Soviet Colonel Rudolf Abel]

Ralph Nader - Senate Testimony
[1966 - Ralph Nader testifies to Senate on US automobile industry social irresponsibility]

Uneconomical At Any Speed

More than four decades ago a youthful Ralph Nader appeared before Congress to expose the shameful safety practices of the Detroit automakers. Now that Mr. Nader has become an old curmudgeon, and a perennially unsuccessful candidate for high office, note that the Detroit automakers have marched in lockstep with him. Having resisted most safety advances in the intervening years, it was only government regulation and consumer oversight plus some healthy competition from the foreign manufacturers that made the US-produced cars now on our highway more protective of human life. Detroit built safer cars when they had no other choice.

A decade prior to Mr. Nader's appearance before Congress, William bought as his first car a used 1955 VW Beetle. It got 25-27 mpg around town, and 29-30 mpg on the highway. Today, over half a century later, the Detroit automakers are beginning to produce vehicles with comparable mileage and economy. They continue to resist the mandatory mileage requirements that government seeks to impose in order to reduce the USA dependence on foreign oil.

55 VW Beetle
1955 VW Beetle

1955 Caddy Coupe DeVille
1955 Cadillac Coupe DeVille

William's Whimsical Words:

Is it any wonder that two of the surviving Detroit Three came to Congress, hats in hand, seeking multi-billion-dollar bailouts?

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