Recommended reading

Happy August to you!

💻 The CEOs of the big tech companies testified in Washington this week. Om Malik explains why this was never going to accomplish anything. Read Why Tech CEOs in DC is a waste of time

US Capitol, 1993
Kodak FunSaver, 1993

💻 Ford ceased production of all midsized sedans this week, as all of the traditional American automakers shift their focus entirely to trucks, SUVs, and CUVs. Paul Niedermeyer looks at Ford’s Fusion and its platform-mate, Lincoln’s MKZ, in their historical context. These were the best midsized sedans Ford ever made, but they weren’t enough. Read Curbside Newsstand: RIP Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ – Ford Motor Company’s Last Mid-Size Sedans

📷 The Konica Big Mini F is a small and sleek 35mm point-and-shoot that looks far better than it performs. Thang Nguyen breaks it down. Read Konica Big Mini F Review – Is It As Good As It Looks?

📷 Mike Connealy acquired a Leica IIIc recently, along with a Hektor 135mm f/4.5 lens. He writes an experience report with this combination, challenges and all. It’s refreshing, as most of the Leica articles I see are fanboy gushing. Read The Long View

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8 thoughts on “Recommended reading

  1. Andy Umbo says:

    As far as the Ford thing, there’s a couple of things going on here, although who knows which is the “real” reason.

    The cost of manufacturing in America may have gotten to the point that the cheapest they can sell a car for, is too close to an up-line model, so they delete it.

    They don’t sell many, which I blame the dealers for. The dealers don’t want to spend any time selling a vehicle through their usual method of making sales after hours of beating around the bush and very little price margin to show for it.

    When I first heard this, I thought Ford was going to bring in a sub-compact from one of their other markets, and sell it here, because they sure as all hell make enough of them overseas! Plenty of smart euro’s wouldn’t be caught dead in a pick-up truck and laugh up their sleeves at the ridiculous Americans driving these! I’ve been to Europe enough to know! Probably one in ten Americans who drive 40,000 dollar pick-up trucks even use them in a work situation (it’s all what my sisters would refer to as “tiny-dick-syndrome”). Ever look at the people in food lines recently, a lot of over-priced and over-sized SUV’s and Pick-up’s in that line. Maybe you should have bought something you could afford in the long term so you could feed your family, and balance your expenses!

    I’ve been a sub-compact driver for years, plenty of dependable Toyota Tercels (until recently), and I can tell you that after a lifetime of buying them, I have 40 years of dealers telling me they don’t want to sell them, and they’re doing me a “favor” by getting me one, because they don’t make any money on them, and the salesperson doesn’t want to sell them because their margin is lower than spending the same time selling something more expensive.

    I’ve always replied, that you you put a 500 dollar margin on them, and sit a guy at a desk making a no-commission decent wage, you stocked them, and you advertised them, you could sell them all day, 30 minutes a crack! Their sales figures are primarily driven by the dealers not wanting them, and not wanting to sell them, based on their 1950’s attitudes of selling cars!

    • Americans used to love midsize sedans and like compact and subcompact cars. Then the SUV/truck craze began and that’s were a huge portion of the market went. While it is true that everyone makes more money making/selling SUVs and trucks, it’s more true that the American public just loves these things.

      There’s still a market for midsize sedans. Trouble is, during the peak midsize sedan years the American manufacturers simply weren’t competitive. They became competitive too late to matter — everyone looks to the Japanese for the best midsize sedans now. The Koreans do all right with them because they are competitive now and they can stuff them full of goodies for a better price. American auto companies could play the game in third place, but why should they when they can sell every SUV and truck they make at a higher margin?

      As for compact/subcompact cars, that market has gone to compact/subcompact CUVs. My wife has a 2017 Kia Soul + and it’s just a terrific car. Stylish, comfortable enough for around town (we take our Passat on trips though), good on gas, can carry an okay amount of stuff. More than the Ford Focus sedan it replaced. Bonus: it’s SUPER EASY to get in and out of for us middle-agers and especially Margaret’s 89-year-old dad. He hates getting in and out of my low, low Passat.

      • Andy Umbo says:

        Me Too! After the demise of my much loved, but questionably built Scion xB, I bought the bottom-of-the-line Kia Soul with manual transmission. Third week and I still like it! Especially the “egress”!

        The NYT ran an article about 4 months ago, talking about how older Americans were buying the Kia Soul, and used early series Scion xB’s, and Honda Elements, precisely because the ride height and ease of getting in and out! The joke was these were all marketed to “young car buyers”, and virtually all were heavily bought by people 30 years older than their target market!

        I remember when Tom Wood was doing some overnight work on my Scion xB, they lent me a brand new Toyota Corolla to drive. Not only could I NOT turn around and see out the rear window with enough vision to back correctly, to get out of the car, I had to sort of roll out and end up on near all fours! Yikes!

        The early series Scion xB 2004-2006, still had the best seating and in-out of any car I’ve ever owned, but I give Kia Soul kudos for getting it pretty close! I also test drove the slightly cheaper Kia Rio sedan, and although not as easy as the Soul, it was higher and easier than my old Toyota Tercels.

  2. Andy Umbo says:


    “Ford invested £250 million into its Cologne, Germany, factory to build the eighth-generation Fiesta starting in 2017; at the time, it announced a Fiesta would roll off the assembly line every 68 seconds.”

    Maybe Ford will import Fiestas back to America for sales.

    • Unlikely, the import cost would make the sticker price uncompetitive. The sub-subcompact class is highly price conscious in the US. Not so much in EU, as that class is considered an everyday car for most people.

      • Andy Umbo says:

        Did the Euro-to-Dollars conversion of the new Ford Ka+ (just reintroduced this year, for those who were in Europe and remember seeing these a number of years ago). The MSRP, in the EU, converted to $11,000! That means you could buy it for cheaper!

        One of the constant conversations among most of my friends that travel, is why we can’t get what the Europeans and Asians are getting. Almost everyone I know wouldn’t be caught dead in a pick-up truck. After 40 years in advertising, I always tell them the number one thing I learned: “You are held captive by the morons you live with.” i.e. because of ancillary costs associated with stocking, shelf space, etc., most medium to small cities stock what they know they can sell to the largest group of people. If you live with people that don’t think like you, you’re out of luck! I haven’t seen a loaf of white, sugared bread since I left Indianapolis!

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