I Guess You Need Thick Skin to Learn To Weld

For a long time now, and this has little to do with political ideologies, I’ve wanted cabinet level secretaries to the president of the United States to pass a small test of practical skills, just to see how much real world experience they have. Can they change a flat tire without using some misandristly promoted Geico app? Can they solder two copper wires together? I’m not asking about welding, mind you, that’s a fairly technical skill, just if they can do some basic soldering. For the matter, could they connect two wires using a wire nut? Do they even know what a wire nut is? If you gave them just some long two-by-fours, a saw, a hammer, some nails, and a tape measure, could they frame a square wall, even if you spotted them the tip that it has something to do with diagonals? Do they know how to hammer a nail?

I’m also old enough to remember when hardly any newspaper reporters called themselves journalists, or graduated from J-schools. They weren’t about afflicting the comfortable, they were about the five Ws, and getting scoops. They didn’t look down on working class folks because they regarded themselves as working class folks. I’d be willing to bet $100 that the vast majority of self-identified “journalists” today, though, can’t do any of the skills in my Cabinet Level test. I’d be willing to bet $500 that most think they’re too smart to do stuff like welding or carpentry.

Thus it did not surprise me, when in the wake of massive layoffs in the online “news” and opinion industry, blue-checked journalists on Twitter ascended the heights of dudgeon because some snarky folks told them to “learn to code”.

Talia Lavin, who proved that incompetency as a fact-checker and defaming an American hero as a neo-Nazi is no impediment to getting another gig when you’re a narrative-carrying lefty, decided that “learn to code” was an alt-right plot against the good and righteous scribes busy comforting the afflicted. Her piece at The New Republic  was titled, “The Fetid, Right-Wing Origins of “Learn to Code”.

Not wanting to be hoist on the same petard that their journalist colleagues have been jabbing at unemployed folks in America’s formerly great industrial heartland whose jobs “weren’t coming back”, some still-employed journos used the fact that favoring blue-check journalists is part of Twitter’s business model of getting folks to create content for the site for free — so they got Twitter to suspend the “learn to code” tweeters.

Ben Popken now covers business for NBC. His Twitter bio, if I recall correctly, brags about being a founder of consumerist.com and that the site was bought by Consumer Reports.  It doesn’t say that CR fired him in 2011 and shuttered the site in 2017. Popken apparently felt that telling a journalist, unemployed or not, that learning a marketable skill was beyond the pale of civil discourse. He posted, bragging:

 “”Learn to code” was tweeted at me by a sketchy account. I reported it as abusive behavior as part of targeted harassment. Twitter suspended the account within 20 minutes. Journalists if they tweet “learn to code” at you don’t stay silent, take a moment to report it…”

“Grandpa Ben, tell us again how bravely you fought in the Meme Wars.”

Now I’m not a big Twitter user. I’m not even sure how to use the site’s features, but now and then I’ll agree or take issue with something I’ll see that had been posted there. I wondered if Popken specifically thought that “learn to code” was abusive behavior or if he thought any kind of manual labor was beneath his social and intellectual station and thus suggesting he learn those trades would be an affront to his honor.

I sent him the following tweet. Note that it’s a question, not a directive.

Ronnie Schreiber
@RonnieSchreiber
@bpopken How about learn to weld?

I guess you need thick skin to learn to weld, as my Twitter account was suspended by that evening, presumably at the behest of Mr. Popken. I could get back on Twitter if I would delete the offending tweet, but instead I appealed the suspension, pointing out that Mr. Popken’s concerns were about “learn to code” and I never mentioned coding. If I wanted to be genuinely snarky, I would have pointed out to him that while his journo friends were getting pink-slipped and shit-canned, I was offered a pretty sweet regular freelance writing gig. I guess there is more of a market for folks who know how to do research and construct a sentence than there is for listicle and quiz compilers.

Twitter, or their algorithms, rejected my appeal. I’m not deleting the tweet, however, unless having a Twitter account becomes a condition of employment in a job that I really want. Oh well, I managed to survive more than six decades without a single tweet, I’ll survive without them.

To be clear, it wouldn’t be true to say that I know how “to code”. The last program I wrote was in Algol during college, over 40 years ago. The only coding that I do today is to modify a config file for something like one of my 3D printers, but I’m pretty sure that Ben Popken couldn’t do that either. See, the thing is, what journalists don’t seem to realize is that they don’t know how much they don’t know. Nobel Prize winning physicist Murray Gell-Mann pointed out that if you’re knowledgeable about a topic you can quickly see how many mistakes journalists make on that subject. They may be writing about physics or computer science, but they went to journalism schools, they didn’t major in STEM.

If I make a mistake when writing about code, that article can still be published. If I make a mistake when writing code, the program won’t work. If I can’t make a living with the skills that I have, maybe I should learn new skills.

1974 Dale: Dollar For Dollar, The Best Car Never Built!

Note: Another post by Tony LaHood. Enjoy. -TK

Sherman, set the way-back machine to 1974—to the wonderful days of seat belt-ignition interlocks, presidential resignations, 55 mph speed limits, and soaring fuel prices.

The OPEC oil embargo in 1973 had a long-term impact on the everyday lives of everyday Americans in a way few other events have. With the specter of gasoline selling for–God forbid–$1.00 per gallon, Americans’ interest in small, economical cars surged, and many Honda and Toyota dealers displayed their characteristic altruism by dressing up new Civics, Coronas and Starlets in $1,000 mud flaps and $2,500 pinstripes in response.

The time was ripe for a new means of personal transport that was cheap to buy, cheap to drive, and cheap to maintain. This is the story of a vehicle that was none of these things, because it existed only in the mind of its creator.

Geraldine Elizabeth Carmichael was 37 years old in 1974. A self-described “Indiana farm girl with five children and widow of a NASA engineer”, she formed the Twentieth Century Motor Car Corporation that year, in Encino, CA, and publicly announced its first product, the Dale.

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Airstream – Durant. Chrysler. Ford. Byum?

February is a magical time in Palm Springs. Glorious weather, the McCormick vintage and collector car auction, and Modernism Week. For those of you unfamiliar with the last, Modernism Week is a ten-day celebration of all things retro and mid-century, part of which is the Vintage Travel Trailer Show. Which brings us to the subject of this article: the estimable Wally Byam, founder of Airstream.

While the first three names up there in the title are familiar to most automotive enthusiasts and historians, it’s less likely they’ve heard of Wally Byam; however, his contributions to a specific facet of highway travel are as significant as his beloved Grand Canyon is vast.

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1958-61 Facel Vega Excellence: Classy, Lush And Over The Top!

Facel Vega Excellence

While Facel Vega—which aside from half its name has no connection to that other Vega, s’il vous plait—had produced automobiles since 1955, the company itself dates back two decades, when M. Jean Daninos, late of Citroën and the military aircraft concern Bronzavia, founded Métallon, a fabricator of kitchen cabinets and sinks and, in 1939, established Forges et Atéliers de Construction d’Eure-et-Loire, (FACEL). The two firms combined and made aircraft engine components during World War II.

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Travels With Dad And Brigitte

Klockau’s Note: Another excellent writeup by my West Coast buddy, Tony LaHood! Leave some nice comments and maybe he’ll write some new stuff for us! Tony’s note: In October 2012, I sold my 1989 MBZ 300 SE after 16 years of ownership. As a tribute to a car that meant so much to me over the years, her story is repeated here today.

There’s something I must make clear to you before proceeding with this story: I am an idiot in any situation involving a woman. One-hundred percent of the time, I will follow a great pair of legs into hell (or a Mercedes dealership, as the case may be) with both eyes open. With that understood, let’s continue.

I would never have considered buying a Mercedes at all were it not for Lori, a freelance graphic artist at our ad agency and a dead ringer for Xena, Warrior Princess. Lori drove a buttercup-yellow 240D and loved all things Mercedes. To my astonishment, she agreed to accompany me to our agency Christmas party, after which we started dating.

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1958 Edsel Bermuda: Lost In The Triangle

Note: Today’s post is by none other than Tony LaHood, who, like me, wrote for a certain site that shall not be named, and exited stage left after having one too many irritating interactions with Captain Cranky Pants. So he has graciously given me the green light to re-publish his stuff right here on Riverside Green. Let’s all give him a hand. -TK

The same word can conjure up different images for different people. Take ‘Bermuda’, for example. A sun worshiper immediately thinks of pink-sand beaches and tropical paradise. To clothiers and white-belt wearing geezers, Bermuda means a pair of shorts. Farmers have visions of big Bermuda onions. And for Car Guys like us, the name recalls the one-year-only, top-of-the-line station wagon from that most unfortunate of of nameplates, Edsel.

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A Short Note On The New Continental

Note: Today’s guest post is by Barry Wolk, a friend of mine and Lincoln owner. His Mark II convertible is well-known in collector circles, and appeared on Hemmings Classic Car several years ago. There has been a lot of flack on the 2017-present Lincoln Continental, and social media and third-rate blogging sites are awash in fear and loathing on a car they’d never buy in the first place. Why so many spleens are vented on something they hate rather than things they enjoy is beyond me, but such is the state of many corners of society today. This is Barry’s response. -TK

Mark II

While the new Continental was still in clay form I was asked if the Lincoln Division studio could borrow my Mark II for the winter for inspiration, for an upcoming car that had no name at that time. It didn’t have door handles yet, so I asked if it would have rear-hinged doors. I was told that their surveys of potential buyers found this less than important.

I also asked David Woodhouse why the LCOC or any Lincoln club members weren’t asked to participate in focus groups for the new car and he sat me down and explained that people that buy old Lincolns rarely, if ever, buy new ones, making their opinion about new cars irrelevant.

As a business model making cars for the used car market makes zero sense. Still doesn’t.

I asked him about the shared platform and he educated me as to how many shared platforms we have in our lives. TVs, washers and dryers, cars and houses all have shared platforms. The difference between luxury items and base items is what added to the base, not the base itself.

I asked why it wasn’t rear-wheel drive and he responded that AWD is better, and it’s true in every circumstance, whether you believe it or not.

If Ford isn’t building a car that suits your needs or desires, please buy what you want, but quit grousing about cars you’ll never buy new. That’s the true definition of an anachronism.

Steam and coal aren’t coming back, either.

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1997 Lincoln Town Car Signature Series: Family Car, Found!

Note: You may remember my friend Anthony Gucciardo’s immaculate, showroom condition 1997 Town Car. He still has it, but has since not only located the 1997 Town Car his mother bought new, but purchased it and had it restored. How many of us have wished we could have our first car back, or one of the family cars you remember from your youth? Well, Anthony did it! Enjoy. -TK

A few years back, I wrote a story for Curbside Classic about my fondness for the 1995-1997 Lincoln Town Car. It was re-published here at Riverside Green back in June 2017. You might have to read the article to totally understand where I’m coming from.

https://jackbaruth.com/?p=6765

In that article, I talked about my love for the Lincoln Town Car and that up to this day, the love affair continues. Over the years I’ve been fortunate to have had several high-end luxury cars and they’ve all been great. The technology has come a long way since the late 1990s, yet I still get a kick out of a large luxury sedan equipped with self leveling air suspension and thin white wall tires. Nothing rides like a Lincoln Town Car, especially at highway speeds. The wind noise coming from the windshield and sunroof gives the car true Lincoln character. It was obviously a design flaw but as we say in real estate, charm and character is what makes things sell.

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1984 Cadillac Seville Elegante: Best Of All, It’s A Cadillac

Note: Today’s post is by my friend Jayson Coombes. You may remember him from the excellent photos he provided for several of my Cadillac posts earlier this year, including the 1958 Fleetwood Sixty Special, 1957 Coupe de Ville and 1977 Seville. Those cars were at the Cadillac LaSalle Club Grand National meet in San Marcos, Texas, and Jayson drove the subject of this article, a 1984 Seville Elegante, all the way there and back, with nary an issue. Here’s its story. -TK

Seville

I’ve had the Seville Elegante for a little over 5 years.  I’m the third owner and it was sold new in June, 1984 at Frank Kent Cadillac in Fort Worth, Texas.  Still has the original dealer emblem on the trunk.  It has every option offered for a Seville in 1984, except for the Touring Suspension.

Seville

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1978 Pontiac Grand Safari: Maximum Massey

Note: Today’s post is by a friend of mine, Mike Massey. As a fellow member of The American Brougham Society on Facebook, he shares my love of full-sized, woodgrained station wagons, and owns a Roadmaster Estate Wagon, among other vintage GM rolling stock, today. I’ve always loved the 1977-79 B-body Pontiacs since my dad had a brown 1979 Bonneville sedan. That car was the subject of my first-ever car memory. Anyway, here’s the story of Mike’s dad’s special-ordered ’78 Grand Safari! -TK

OK I get lots of questions on comments about this car, so HERE is the long “novel” of our ’78 Pontiac Grand Safari, which we owned from 1978-1986, and how we came about owning it.

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