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.

Reforming English

Dreaming an Impossible Dream

One of my personal little personality quirks is a deep sense of privacy. I mean, I’m civil enough, I suppose, but deep down, I don’t really trust people very much, and I don’t want them to know much about what I’m thinking or doing. For instance, because I have to attend meetings and take lots of notes, I don’t want people to see what I’m writing. But, I also don’t want to be the wierdo who’s obviously guarding his notes from the prying eyes of the other meeting attendees.

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Italy’s Re-Entry Vehicle

2013 Fiat 500 Abarth Review

Italian cars have a bit of a reputation, and it’s both good and bad. The good part of their reputation is that they’re usually pretty, and fun to drive. There’s something that the Italians and their automotive engineers just get about the act of driving, and about how a car should look. The bad part of their reputation is that they don’t get everything else about cars, like, say, reliability. The bad part of that reputation has lingered in the US, because Fiat and Lancia bid goodbye to these shores in the early 1980s after a series of disastrously unreliable cars, followed by Alfa Romeo in the early 1990s.

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A cylinder for each wheel

Can-Am gives the 2014 Spyder a triple

I have a soft spot for the Can-Am Spyder. Back when the original Spyder was announced, I was able to get a ride on one—even before they were publically available—after years of not having ridden a motorcycle. I didn’t even have a motorcycle license then, but, fortunately, California doesn’t require one to ride trikes. After my ride, I was so pleased with the experience, I got my motorcycle license back, and bought a motorcycle—though not a Spyder. But it was the vehicle that got me back into motorcycling, so I’ve always loved it.

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Sweet Torture

2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR Review

The Subaru WRX STI has only one real competitor as a rally-bred street car: The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, called the Evo, for short. The Evo is the one bright spot in Mitsubishi’s otherwise sad line-up of mediocre-performing, front-wheel drive, budget cars. The thing is, the STI and Evo people each love their vehicles desperately, and they hate the owners of the opposing vehicles with a passion that burns with the heat of a thousand suns. Much insult and ridicule is exchanged between the two groups.

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Making Johnny Polar Bear Happy

2013 Ford Fusion SE Hybrid Review

There are a lot of reasons why you might want to use less gasoline. Maybe you think all the ice is melting and Johnny Polar Bear will lose his home. Maybe you’re tired of buying gas from Johnny Foreigner. Maybe you just want some extra cash for coke and hookers. On the other hand, you don’t want a Prius, partly because you don’t need to display a smug sense of moral superiority, but mainly because a the Prius is a horribly dull car.

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Comfy Spice

2013 Range Rover Evoque Coupe Review

The full-sized Range Rover is probably, as Jeremy Clarkson would say, the best SUV…in the world. But it’s a big vehicle, with a huge V-8 engine. Luxurious and off-road capable, sure, but big and fuel hungry. But let’s say you want a smaller but still off-road capable SUV and you don’t want to give up luxury and drive around in a shabby Subaru or Nissan? Or even worse, a Land Rover LR2, with its sad, horrible, under-powered V-6. The answer, according to Range Rover, is the Evoque.

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Ducati Announces the 899 Panigale for 2014

New bike. New Engine.

Ducati announced their new 899 Panigale to me by sending me a cryptic email with a picture of the bike and no information, except a link to their web site’s Panigale section. That turned out out to be a tediously-navigated, JavaScript-heavy web site where there was information. Sadly, they dribble it out one sentence at a time as you navigate from frame to frame. Yes, JavaScript is the future, but there’s no need to get carried away. Anyway, rather than make you navigate through their beautiful, picture-heavy, yet drearily tedious web site, I’ll just pass the information to you.

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Good Enough

2013 Volvo S60 T6 R-Design Review

Safety. Reliability. Swedish stolidity. That’s what you think of when you think of Volvo. For the most part, that’s what the Swedish automaker wants you to think. The Swedes have a philosophy that permeates their society, called lagom. It describes a state of being just good enough to evoke a sense of comfortable satisfaction. Not too good, so as to be extravagant or showy, and not too bad, as to be obviously flawed or defective.

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Resurrection, Again

Let’s try this one more time

Blogging is hard. I don’t mean it’s hard physically, but it’s hard in terms of finding the time to do it. This especially true when you write at other places besides your personal web site. I write on politics and economics elsewhere, and I didn’t want this to become a political site. Plus, I got an invite to write at Medium, so I sort of did all of my personal writing there, and created my own collection of automotive and motorcycle writing there. (Most of which, By the way, I’ll be transferring over here, bit by bit.)

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What God Drives on the Weekend

2014 Jaguar F-Type S Review

It’s been 50 years since Jaguar has produced a proper, purpose-built sports car, in the form of the classic E-Type, one of the most beautiful cars ever made. It was, perhaps, the most beautiful thing ever made. Since then, Jaguar has been more about luxury than sport. Sure, Jaguar makes fast luxury cars, and there was the XK, of course, which was amusing, and in the R-spec version, very fast. But it didn’t quite press all the right sports-car buttons, especially in convertible form. The convertible was basically an XK coupe with the top sawzalled off, which meant loss of torsional rigidity and scuttle shake. Since the E-Type, Jags have always been fast, fun, and luxurious, but not truly sporting machines.

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Welcome to the future

Everything you know about software development is wrong

I’ve spent the last 20 years developing software, managing software development, and doing software systems analysis full-time. I’ve been programming since I was 16. The first time I went to college, my major was computer science. Since then, I’ve seen one major revolution in the computer industry, which essentially blew up everything that came before it.

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Less Beige

2013 Lexus GS 350 F-Sport Review

Here’s the thing: whether you buy a Toyota, a Scion, or a Lexus, almost all the cars made by the Toyota Motor Corporation are beige. Bland. Which is sad, because Toyota used to make some cars that tended decidedly towards the red end of the color spectrum. There was the Toyota Celica GTS, the nearly-supercar-fun Supra, and even the entertaining, mid-engined, two-seater MR2. Toyota used to make fun cars, then they just…stopped.

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The “S” Stands for “Spock”

2013 Volkswagen Jetta S Review

From 1945 until 1974, Volkswagen’s tiny Type 1, affectionately known as the “Beetle”, was the very byword for low-cost transportation. With its little 1.3L air-cooled engine, it wasn’t fast, and it wasn’t very roomy, but it was, by the standards of the day, cheap and economical. It was replaced by the Golf in 1974, a car which is still with us today and, in the GTI model, is still the only car you really need.

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Impossible

2013 BMW K1600GT Review

For years,I’ve been adamant that the R1200RT is the only BMW touring bike I’d be interested in owning. The I-4 powered K1300GT was uncomfortable, seemed sluggish at low revs, and, frankly, a bit ungainly compared to the RT. It was also a motorcycle line that was plagued by a number of niggling mechanical and fueling issues. It was certainly fast, but I was never impressed with it. I remember that after I put it through a ride test, my exact comment to the BMW rep when I got off the bike was, “Meh.”

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