I write stuff. A lot of it is about cars and motorcycles.

Dale Franks

Dale Franks is the former host of The Business Day, ”a daily, four-hour business and financial news program on KMNY Radio in Los Angeles. From 2002-2004, he was a contributor on military and international affairs for TechCentralStation.com. Currently, he a publisher and editor of the monthly political journal The New Libertarian, as well as an editor of the popular web log, Q and O. Dale served as a military police officer in the United States Air Force from 1984 to 1993, in variety of assignments both in the United States and Europe, where he also was assigned to the staff of the Headquarters of Allied Forces Central Europe. In addition to broadcasting, writing, and speaking on various topics, Dale has also been a long-time technical training instructor on a variety of computer software and technology subjects. Dale has also long been involved with information technology as an accomplished web designer, programmer, and technologist, serving as the corporate knowledge specialist for Microsoft Outlook at SAIC, the nation's largest employee-owned corporation. Additionally, he is the author of a number of software user guides used for classroom training by one of Southern California’'s premier computer training and consulting firms. His book, SLACKERNOMICS: Basic Economics for People Who Find Economics Boring, is available from Barnes & Noble.

VikingCycle Warrior Motorcycle Jacket

Riding Gear Review

Motorcycle House contacted me and asked me if I’d be willing to review some of their gear. They wanted me to review a set of their leather saddlebags, but, since I ride a VFR1200, that wasn’t possible. So, they asked if I’d be willing to review a jacket. They even let me pick the jacket I wanted to review. Since I’m a sucker for a nice leather jacket, I chose the Warrior motorcycle jacket. There was no quid-pro-quo for a nice review. The deal was that they’d send me a jacket, and I’d review it, as always.

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I’m Not in the Market Any More

After weeks of trolling the internet car classifieds several times a day, I finally saw a 2006 Pontiac GTO with a 6-speed manual transmission pop up Friday night. It was at CarMax in Buena Park, about 2 hours from where I live. There were no pictures of it, or anything. They had just added it to the inventory listing. Now, the thing about the manual GTO is that they never stay on car lots. Car people really, really like a 400 HP car they they can buy for less than $20,000.  So, when a mannie-tranny GTO shows up on a lot, it sells instantly.

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The Luxury of Speed

2014 Cadillac CTS-V

Let’s postulate three requirements for the rear-wheel drive car of your dreams. First, you want it to have outstanding performance and handling. Second, you want it to cosset you in luxury, with every imaginable convenience available at your fingertips. Third, and finally, it must be an American car. Not too long ago, the proper response to these requirements would be “Choose any two.” The car that satisfied all three requirements was, quite frankly, imaginary. And, honestly, the car that satisfied the first two requirements was German.

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I Think I Might Have to Forget About a GTO

So all that stuff yesterday about a nice GTO or Charger SRT8? I might have to just leave that in my dreams for a while. Sometimes, things aren’t about me. Chris wants to have a vehicle for trips. But she can’t tow the travel trailer. It’s just too…much. So, we need to dump the trailer and get something she can drive. I may have found it, but it’s not an enthusiast’s vehicle.

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I’m In the Market

I need to get a car. I sold my Ram 2500 King Cab long-bed diesel truck a few months ago. It was a pain to drive, but convenient for towing our travel trailer and doing hauling. Honestly, though, while I really liked the truck’s capabilities, I never liked driving it. it was, like, 30 feet long, and impossible to park. I wasn’t planning on ever selling it, though. But, as it happens, it turned out that selling it was a convenient way to round up a bunch of cash to do some landscaping, and get the house painted, so it went on the block for a good cause.

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Big News from the Big Shows

This week is a treat for car and motorcycle enthusiasts both, as both the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) car show in the US and Esposizione Internazionale Ciclo Motociclo e Accessori (EICMA) motorcycle show in Italy are taking place this week. Lots of stuff has happened, so let’s hit the high points, starting with EICMA.

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Not a Luxury Car

2014 Audi S4

Several years ago, Audi went through a bad patch. People were accusing Audis of unintended acceleration. The story was that you’d be plodding along through a school zone at 10 MPH when the Audi you were driving would suddenly accelerate at maximum speed into a gaggle of children. Audi disputed this. Consumers didn’t believe them, most likely because the media hyped the story, a lot. Turns out it was most likely the idiots behind the wheel. It still put a lot of hurt on Audi, and their US sales cratered.

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The Bane of My Existence

The 2003 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder GTS that is sitting in my driveway is not mine. It belongs to The Lovely Christine. Yet it taunts me mercilessly, mocking me for ever having gotten involved with it. It now symbolizes everything that is wrong with my life; everything that has gone terribly, terribly wrong. It is a hateful malevolent presence that corrupts everything it touches. Before last month, it was just a mildly irritating vehicle that Chris thought of as a sports car, and I thought of—when I thought of it at all—as something I’d like her to trade in for something fun. But circumstances forced me to become entangled with it, and it has made everything about my life worse. Well, that’s not quite true…it’s just one of the two things that have done so, recently. There’s a story behind it all, you see.

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Unjustly Unloved

2014 Mazda6 Grand Touring Sedan Review

The Honda Accord and Toyota Camry sell well. They aren’t bad cars, either, though they’re inoffensive and boring. Honda and Toyota sell quite a lot of them, too. They’re one of the bread and butter sedans you see on American roads. They aren’t the only choices, though. They may not even be the best choices. Even Toyota now seems to realize this, as this week, one of Toyota’s chiefs told the motoring press that Toyota has decided to start making cars that excite 10 people out of 100, instead of trying not to offend all 100. Still, the Camry is what it is, for now.

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Improvements: Hidden, But Real

I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but since Friday, the speed of the web site has improved tremendously, with much faster page loads. I haven’t been writing, but I have been busy. For many, many years—since about 1997, in fact, the web site has been hosted at the same place. In all of the incarnations it’s been through, my web host hasn’t changed.

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Backyard Photography

Chris and I were spending time in the backyard with the dogs, and I decided to pull out my Panasonic Lumix FZ-200 and take some pictures. The star of the show turned out to be—as it almost always is—our goofy boxer, Apollo. Click on the photos for the hi-res versions.… Continue reading

Always buy the KitchenAid

2014 Honda Accord EL-X V6 Sedan

Some cars are appliances. They aren’t exciting and massively powered. They don’t cosset you with sumptuous luxury. You just, you know, drive them, and they take you places. The Honda Accord is one such appliance. But the thing about appliances is that they aren’t all the same. In fact, some of them are quite good. You can buy a mixer from Hamilton Beach, and it’ll be alright, and do what you expect it to do. But, if you want a mixer that will not only do a fantastic job, but can be passed down to your great-grandchildren, you buy a KitchenAid.

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Erik Buell Racing 1190RX Unveiled

Finally, a Buell motorcycle regular people can buy—though at $19,000, it’s still pretty pricey. But, maybe it’s worth it. Coming in at a claimed 419 lbs. the Buell guys have gotten a solid 185 HP and a monstrous 101.6 lb-ft of torque from the Rotax Helicon V-Twin motor.  Other Buell-y… Continue reading

Middle Child

2014 Chevrolet Camaro SS

In certain parts of the country, the way you show your family and friends that you’ve hit the big time is to buy yourself a double-wide mobile home and a Chevy Camaro. In these politically correct times, it’s not polite to mention this stereotype, of course. But it’s so prevalent that it’s hard not to do so. For instance, I couldn’t even avoid it in the first sentence of this review.

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