Saturday, November 30, 2013

Park Benches

There are some great benches in the world--benches where you can sit and read or simply watch the world go by.  I'm not talking about the benches put
up for people waiting for buses--those are for tired people and loiterers.  I mean the bench placed in a spot designed for contemplation and deep thought.

My wife, The Doc's, favorite bench is in Pershore, England.  The local park, formally known as the King George V Playing Field, was donated to the town by William Chapman.  There is a great bench placed, presumably for the enjoyment of women and girls, where you can sit and read the sexist plaque and contemplate how much the world has changed since Mr. Chapman could get away with being a sexist pig.

I have a couple of favorite benches, too.  My absolute favorite is in Fort Worth, Texas--a town that pretends to be grown up, but is secretly a freckle-faced boy playing cowboy.  The town always wears chaps and a big hat two sizes too large.

It is surprising how many people get this backwards--grownups don't pretend to be children, it is always the other way around.  It is kind of like Halloween: every October 31st, we wear costumes for one day so that other people can get a glimpse of how we see ourselves all year long.

In Fort Worth, on the banks of the Trinity River, there is a bench with a life size statue of Mark Twain.  He sits there, watching the river and probably dreams of the Mississippi.  He has a copy of Huckleberry Finn in his hands, but he is watching the river.  The wry smile on his face is undoubtedly humor directed at what Texans call a river.  I can almost hear his voice:

"Back when there were real cowboys in this town, they probably amused themselves by leaping back and forth across it until they plumb tuckered out and then quenched their thirst by drinking it dry."

Tourists don't come across the bench very often, but enough locals come and bother Twain that it is easy to understand why he is only halfway done with that book.  They usually sit down next to him and then get some other fool to take their pictures.  Invariably, the author takes pity on their rudeness and doesn't say a word.  I left him alone, but while he was contemplating the current of the river, I quietly took his picture.

I know of another good bench that sits near an interesting statue.  It is far away, in Tegucigalpa, the capitol of Honduras.  Like almost every other town in Latin America built during the colonial period, Tegucigalpa follows the standard plan.  There is a plaza in front of a cathedral, surrounded by narrow streets and broad sidewalks.  This plan was set down by a Spanish regulatory agency called the Council of the Indies and was--quite literally--the law.  The Council was composed of qualified experts, a phrase which, when translated from legal lingo, means they were mostly lawyers who had never been to the new world. 

In the center of the plaza is a tall stone base topped by a beautiful statue of Francisco Morazán, the Honduran heroic revolutionary leader who briefly united all of the Central American Republics.  Today, the plaza is covered with men who will obligingly sell you lottery tickets from all over the world.  Honduras has always been obsessed with lotteries; at one point the Louisiana State Lottery was officially--and legally--operated out of Honduras.  (I could tell you why and how this came to pass, but that will have to wait for another day.  Or, you could just take my class on Modern Latin America that starts in January.  As I write this, there are two seats left.)

Damn it!  My mind has wandered off again, let me read the above and see where I was....okay.  Back in the plaza of Tegucigalpa, if you sit on the bench and ask politely--and purchase a lottery ticket--the ticket vendors will tell you the story of the statue of Francisco Morazán.

Back in the last days of the nineteenth century, Honduras had so many revolutions the phrase "Banana Republic" was originally invented to describe it.  During a brief period of relative peace, the businessmen of Tegucigalpa became interested in civic improvement and wanted to modernize the city.  Eventually, they decided on erecting a statue of their famous hero.

The business men donated money, held lavish dinners for potential contributors, and eventually held--naturally--a lotteria to raise the money.  The funds were entrusted to a prominent business man who hurried off to Paris to commission a bronze statue.  Unfortunately, neither the statue nor the businessman ever returned to Honduras.  I've been to Paris and I've been to Tegucigalpa, and I'm not terribly surprised.

The city fathers were understandably disappointed, but undaunted.  They started the fundraising project all over with more rubber chicken fundraising dinners and another lottery.  Understandably, this time, they didn't raise quite as much money as on the previous attempt, but they thought they had enough for the job.  And instead of sending one representative, they sent three men whose property holdings in Honduras would act as a guarantee that, this time, the money would not simply vanish into the bars and various other playgrounds of Paris.

Unfortunately, when the three men arrived in Paris, they discovered that statues were priced slightly above their ability to pay.  They offered the contract to many sculptors, but no one was willing to accept the commission.  They did, however, come up with a creative solution.

French politics change faster than French underwear, (or to paraphrase Mark Twain, "The French are wonderful people.  It is not their fault they are governed by prostitutes.") and when governments change, so do the statues in parks.  While I am sure that a lot of them are melted down for new statues, at least one of them emigrated to Honduras.

What the heck!  Morazán had died before photographs could be taken, and if put up high enough, and enough pigeons have paid the proper homage, I suppose almost any statue could pass for almost anyone.

So I sat on the bench and the former French military officer turned Central American revolutionary leader...and I contemplated the vicissitudes of political fortune...And I wondered why my official newly-purchased sweepstakes ticket had misspelled 'Ireland'.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Truth About the Assassination

Fifty years ago today, like every other American, I was shocked by the sudden assassination of our  young president.... Boy, I bet everyone is really tired of that line.  Why do we keep repeating that line?  It's not like a lot of people who were older than the president then are still alive now.  Back in 1963, I certainly knew he wasn't that young, hell, he was 46!  I was ten at the time and I knew that 46 was an age where you had probably already picked out your tombstone. 

Apropos of Nothing Whatsoever, (I REALLY wish that 5 years ago, I had picked that for the name of this blog!), Talking about the assassination suddenly reminded me of one of the great moments in education.  I was co-teaching a course with another professor.  I won't mention her name, but she had her sense of humor surgically removed during grad school.

In any case, several of our students had experienced  a vocabulary problem while writing on a test about Phillip II of Macedonia, who had been assassinated in 336 BC, possibly by his son, Alexander the Great.  About half the class wrote that Phillip was "assinated."  The next time the class met, I projected a picture of Phillip II.  I gave a brief, but bloody, description of exactly how he died.  Then I clicked a button on the digital presenter and it showed the next PowerPoint slide, one that showed the same picture with a large caption underneath, "Assassinated."

I let the students view this slide for a while, then showed the next slide, one of Edward the II.  Again I gave a brief description of his unhappy life and his very brutal death.  Extremely disliked, King Eddy was imprisoned and eventually murdered.  According to some accounts, a red hot poker was violently shoved up the royal rectum, possibly because it was rumored that the king was a homosexual.

At this point, I clicked the button for the next slide, one that showed the same picture of Edward II, but underneath was the caption "Assinated."  For several seconds, I flicked back and forth between the two slides:  Assassinated and Assinated.  On the next test, every student got it right.  I won't report the other professor's comments.

Where was I?  Oh yeah, 50 years ago.  Strangely I was in the same town as John F. Kennedy--at least for a little while.  We both woke up that morning in Fort Worth.  While I went to class, the president had breakfast, made a brief speech, declined to wear the cowboy hat presented to him, then drove to Carswell AFB to board Air Force One for the 13-minute flight to Dallas.  Yeah, that's right--thirteen minutes.  Nothing is more presidential than flying in on your own plane.

I want to make it plain (pardon the sort-of pun) that Kennedy left Forth Worth safely.  He got shot in Dallas--an event that, for years, changed the town's official motto from "Where the West Begins" to "We Didn't Shoot Him."

And almost immediately, a cottage industry sprang up.  There have been over a thousand books written on who the "real" assassin was.  For fifty years, nut cases with typewriters (and, more lately, computers) have come up with some of the wildest damn theories you can imagine.  He was shot by Cuban riflemen firing up from the storm drains.  (There are still NO storm drains in Dealey Plaza.)  He was shot by the driver of his own car.  (That cost some nut job author some long green: that secret service agent is still alive and promptly sued the author.)  You name it--it has been written.

And the television documentaries that have been made!  Two weeks ago, I set my Tivo to automatically record any show where the description contained the word "Kennedy Assassination."  As I write this, there are over three dozen shows recorded.  Amazing...

These ghouls should all be ashamed of themselves, endless profiting from the assassination of the young president.   Just because there is ca$h in the a$$a$$  Millions perhaps...How much did Bill O'Reilly make from that book?  And the movie deal?

Well, it is high time to finally tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  I am sure that all of us have seen those horrendous black and white photos of the crowd outside Parkland Hospital when the news was finally released that the President had passed away.  The camera then slowly pans the crowd, showing the raw emotion of the gathered crowd.  At left, is one of those photos taken from the original CBS broadcast of the crowd outside the Dallas hospital.

Notice how this unknown woman carefully places her hand over her face to conceal her appearance.  Trust me, you cannot watch any of those documentaries without seeing her image.  Could this actually be the true assassin coming to the hospital to make sure she had accomplished her mission?  Hiding in plain sight is the most effective method of not being noticed.  How else did this person get to the hospital so quickly?

And just who is she?

For the first time, I can reveal her true identity.  Observe the photo to the right, taken at roughly the same time.  Does it look familiar?  Notice the thin build, the cat's eye glasses, the short brown hair...  Who is this criminal mastermind?  The photo at the right is The Doc, my wife.

Oh sure, she "claims" she was 100 miles away in Wichita Falls--a claim that that has obviously not withstood the test of time.  Today, more than 50 years after the event, and despite several Congressional investigations and the concerted efforts of both the FBI and the Secret Service, not a single shred of evidence has been unearthed that shows my wife was NOT in Dallas that fateful day.

And consider this: The Warren Report, at 1,354 pages, contains not a single reference to my wife.  A coincidence?  I think not.  The failure of the FBI to even consider interviewing her demonstrably proves she is part of the giant conspiracy to conceal the truth. 

This is real proof.  Crystal clear photographs--not blown up sections of a lousy Zapruder film so fuzzy that if you squint your eyes just right you can find an image of anything from a duck to Elvis.  And both of these photos are absolutely provable to have been made in Texas!

I have more details, but I am not revealing them until I have finalized my upcoming book contract.  If something should happen to me in the upcoming weeks, check the thermostat in our home.  Eager to conceal her dark past, The Doc has been trying to freeze me to death for years.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Slamfire Perfection

Every now and then, a piece of technology comes along that is just about perfect.  Either a genius comes up with a wondrous design, a unique group of craftsmen labor over a masterpiece, a product that perfectly reflects the needs and uses of the people of its time,  or something comes along that can never really be improved upon.   Even more rarely, all four things happen at the same time.

It's not very hard to come up with such a list:  the 1957 Chevy Bel Air, the DC-3, the Swiss Army knife, the 1911 Colt .45 automatic, or the original Willy's Jeep.  All of these are classics, all will be useful forever, and for each of them, there is an army of devotees that endlessly think, "Why don't they make that again?"

My personal favorite would be the Winchester Model 1897 pump shotgun.  This is yet another fantastic firearm evolved from the brilliant designs by John Browning, a man who seems to have designed almost every good gun in history.  It is amazing that guns designed more than a century ago are still being used regularly, despite the fact that Winchester stopped manufacturing them when that Chevy Bel Air I mentioned could still be purchased--new--from your local dealer.

(By this point, I can almost "hear" readers everywhere whining--"Not another blog about guns!"  Relax, it is not really about guns--I promise you won't be subjected to a bucket of boring facts. Stick with me and I'll tell you a story about Roy Rogers.)

This old Winchester was an ugly, heavy brute made of machined steel--this was long before the process of using stamped aluminum parts to lower the weight became standard.  While it could never be called pretty, the gun sported an exposed hammer, could carry 5 rounds in a tube magazine (and one in the chamber), and possessed absolute reliability.  The gun proved so popular, that in 1912, Winchester began making a hammerless version of the gun, called the Model 12.

Hunters loved these guns, and in just a few years, after the start of the World War I, so did the military.

Winchester quickly made a special version of the gun, now universally called the Model 97, just for the army.  It had a shorter barrel, a sling, and a lug to mount the Model 1917 Bayonet.  Called a trench gun or a trench broom,  it was the perfect weapon for the kind of warfare the Doughboys suddenly found themselves thrown into.  Americans were the only soldiers in Europe using shotguns, and the unorthodox weapon quickly proved very effective.  You can imagine the shock of our Allies when soldiers actually used the guns to shoot and deflect the flight of grenades thrown by the Germans!

But it was the American use of these shotguns in the offense that got us into a little comic opera of diplomatic trouble with the Germans.  These guns didn't have a trigger interlock, which meant that soldiers charging an enemy position could hold the trigger back and work the slide as they ran.  This technique, called slam firing, was both frightening and devastatingly effective.  Since the guns were loaded with 6 rounds of 00 buckshot, and each round contained nine .32 caliber bullets, this meant the soldiers  could fire the equivalent of 54 rounds from a .32 caliber pistol in less time than it took to read this sentence. 

One of the "actions" to which the Germans objected occurred on 27 September 1918.  Sergeant Fred Lloyd, using a Model 97, advanced alone into a German-held village and began methodically clearing it, pumping and slam firing the shotgun as he moved. He finally collapsed with exhaustion after routing thirty German soldiers.

Germany, through the neutral Swiss, informed the Americans that they believed we were in violation of The Hague Convention by using illegal weapons capable of inflicting overly harmful wounds during combat!  Further, the Germans announced that, henceforth, any American captured with one of these illegal weapons would be summarily executed.

Illegal weapons?  Shotguns are one of the earliest gunpowder weapons developed by man.  And consider this: the Germans had pioneered the use of poison gas during this war, had introduced portable flamethrowers, had bombarded English coastal towns, and had torpedoed passenger ships from submarines, all of which were specifically banned by the Hague Convention...and they protested the American use of an overgrown bird gun?

Actually, the Hague Convention did not mention shotguns, and in future wars, every army would use them.

General Pershing let it be known that if the Germans executed Americans found carrying shotguns, he would order the execution of captured Germans armed with flamethrowers or knives with saw-blade edges.  The Germans did not respond, and there is no evidence that any Americans so armed were ever executed.

The Model 97 and the Model 12 served with all branches of the military through the Vietnam War, even though Winchester stopped production of the shotgun in 1957.  The gun was still a damn fine weapon, but production costs could no longer compete with cheaper shotguns using aluminum receivers.  Though Winchester stopped making them a long time ago, it is not hard to find these guns nowadays.  They are still regularly being used by hunters about a third the age of the guns they carry.

There is a great story about one of these Winchesters.  I'm not quite sure how accurate the story is, but you should never let a great story be ruined by too much extraneous truth. 

It seems that there was an annual celebrity skeet shoot in Hollywood that was both organized and regularly won by the television actor, Jameson Parker.  Every year, Parker would invite Roy Rogers to come out of semi-retirement and shoot in the tournament, and one year, Roy finally showed up--probably as much to be polite as out of any desire to shoot clay pigeons.

Roy Rogers was a little underarmed, at least as far as style goes.  He brought his Winchester pump shotgun.  Most of the other competitors, including Jameson Parker, were carrying custom-fitted, over and under double-barrel shotguns, specifically designed to murder skeet and other dangerous clay critters.  The cost of such a weapon is in the mid-five figures, and it usually comes with a handmade leather case.

Obviously, Rogers won the match, despite being about twice the age of Parker.  Not only that: he won handily, despite using a shotgun--roughly about the same age as he--that when new sold for about the cost of a good lunch at the club. 

Parker--who had no idea what the gun was--walked over to Roy Rogers and asked, "Roy, where did you get that shotgun?"

Roy Rogers smiled at Parker and answered, "I won it in a poker game from Clark Gable."

It's kind of hard to verify all the details of that story, but I can tell you for certain that next June in Denver, there will be a gun auction that features a Model 12 that used to belong to Roy Rogers.  It seems that the original paperwork that comes with the gun includes a name tag that shows that the original owner was Clark Gable.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Share If You Agree

The chain letter, at long last seems to be dead.  I'm still getting the occasional email from Nigeria telling me that, because of my sterling character (this is usually the point where I know the letter is not for me), some poor widow would like me to help her invest a vast inherited fortune.  I'm curious--Has anyone ever managed to accumulate a vast fortune in Nigeria?  (Other than its present dictator/President?)

Actual chain letters no longer seem to find their way into my email.  About the only vestigial remains that I get are some political nonsense--both left and right--from friends either too lazy or retarded to use Snopes.  The last line of such letters usually ends with "Only 10% of the people who receive this will have the balls to pass this on..."

What exactly do balls have to do with this?  If testicles indicated intelligence, I presume we would have more Nobel prize winners among Nascar drivers.  I can imagine the conversation: "....any consideration of the long-term consequence of these actions--TURN LEFT! --must, of necessity, factor in the hitherto unanalyzed feedback mechanisms--TURN LEFT!--that will arise...."

Another familiar phrase, "I'm not going to be the one to break this one...." Why not?  If you show the least amount of common sense or even a smidgen of individuality, will Odin smite you?

It is not that chain letters have vanished, it is more like they have caught a virulent strain of cancer, mutated, and metastasized over to Sit On My Facebook, where they have grown even more stupid.  How many times has an acquaintance posted something that says, "Let's see how many likes we can get for this?"  What possible difference does it make?  If we get enough likes, will Lassie get Little Timmy out of the well?  Does Tinkerbelle get to live another day?

Why do people post something that begs for as many people as possible to "like" the post?  Let's put this "like" nonsense into perspective.  I once posted a reasoned and rational letter comparing the foreign policy of Thomas Jefferson to current events and got a dozen likes--mainly from students eager to kiss my ass.  The Doc, my wife, posted a blurry photo of our cat washing his Nascar brains and got 1800 likes in a single day.

On the other hand, just this week, someone posted something that said, "Stop Bullying!  Share if you agree--otherwise you don't care about suffering!"  A perfect example of why Facebook needs a "Dumbass" button.

How many times will people fall for the same tired gag?  "Share and post the word 'One' and you will be amazed at how the picture of a mule changes into a photo of a fairy princess."  If you are gullible enough to comply, the only thing that will change will be that the mule has now been added to your photo album, where it might as well be used as a self-portrait.  How many triangles do you see?  80% of people will first see the word RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PUZZLE.  Can you think of a city whose name doesn't contain an 'E'? 

Or, how about, "GOD LOVES YOU!  Share within 30 seconds and God will reward you."  First, I didn't know that God followed social media that closely, but if he does, does he really work like a slot machine?  This is also why Facebook will never catch on in the Middle East.  "Do you love Allah?  Like and share if you want to stay out of prison!"

Then, there's the popular, "Share if you support prayer in school--ignore if you are a heartless, godless secular humanist who wants to destroy the American way of life."  If I am going to be subjected to pseudo-religion and wacky superstitions, I want to "friend" Pat Robertson.    No one can outdo Pat for total nut-job crazy.  I still remember his quote about the feminism: 

"The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."

That's the kind of crazy that would make Facebook fun.  Share if you agree.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Peremptory Challenge

After recently reading a John Grisham novel, I have been thinking a lot about peremptory challenges; the right for an attorney to reject a limited number of potential jurors without having to give a reason.  This is in addition to the right to reject a juror for cause (an obvious bias that might keep the juror from reaching a fair verdict).

A peremptory challenge is a challenge based on just a hunch, and it is used to eliminate the odd duck who just doesn't fit.  I like this idea, and think that we could use the same principle on a number of occasions, both political and social.  Of course, this power would have to be used wisely, so I volunteer my judgement.  You're welcome!

The Supreme Court.  Probably no single American agrees with the opinions of all of the Supreme Court justices. Today, the country is so politically polarized, that most of us believe that about half the court should be replaced immediately.  Obviously, this can't happen.  For most of the justices on the court, I have to admit that on a regular basis, I am either surprised by how they voted or astounded at the logical arguments they present to back up their opinions.  Except for the two judges for whom I have accurately predicted how they would vote for over a decade.  Not once have they surprised me in the least with either their written opinions or their legal arguments.  Frankly, they are as useless as an Athletic Director, and since they always vote against each other, both can be safely eliminated.  I am, of course, talking about Clarence "Don't Wake Me" Thomas and Ruth "Buzzi" Ginsberg.  From both the right and the left, let's eliminate both of them and start over with two new judges.

The House of Representatives.  Obviously, we must challenge a congressman from each party--But, what should be our selection criteria?  God knows, the entire bunch should be thrown out on the simple basis of common sense--these leeches have turned what was supposed to be a short term opportunity to serve their country into a lifelong sinecure for bloated plutocrats, with a lower turnover rate than that of England's House of Lords.  No, there is only one fair way to exercise a peremptory challenge on two Congressmen: Intelligence.

So many choices and only two challenges....

For the Republicans, it has to be Representative Louie Gohmert from Texas.  To be fair, Gohmert may be more deranged that dumb, but to quote Forrest Gump, "Stupid is as stupid does."  Gohmert seems obsessed with issues that some of us weren't even aware of.  During a House debate on the military's "Don't Ask/Don't Tell" policy, Gohmert began raving about bestiality and necrophilia!  And Gohmert has frequently warned his constituents to be on the watch for "terror babies"--infants legally born here to visiting Al Qaeda operatives who will take advantage of their legal citizenship to attack America after they are grown up.  I have read his speech about "voting for a black man" several times and have absolutely no idea what he is talking about.  (Probably, neither does Gohmert.)

The Democrat choice must be Sheila Jackson Lee, also from Texas.  Congresswoman Lee (despite having served on the House Subcommittee for Space and Aeronautics), while touring JPL once asked if the Mars Rover could could take pictures of the American flag left there by the astronauts.  One of her ex-staffers once confided that he was astounded she hadn't complained of cost overruns on the Death Star.  Her stock in trade is to denounce something as racist, which she has done to causes as diverse as Pepsi Cola and the names of hurricanes.  A once stalwart defender of Enron, she has supported Iranian military exercises and sales of F-16 parts to Hugo Chavez.  The nation (and both parties) would gain from the exit of these two representatives.

The Senate.  Continuing in the bipartisan spirit, let's drop a senator from each party.  It won't change the political makeup of Washington, the balance of power will stay exactly the same, and we can let each political party pick a replacement.  Let's pick two senators who are both ideologues, two senators whose primary purpose in life seems to consist of endlessly repeating the inane talking points from his political party.  These two men are actually a hazard to anyone standing between them and a working television camera.  I invoke the peremptory challenge to Senators Chuck Schumer and Ted Cruz.  It is way past time for both of them to go home and shut the fuck up.

TV Commercials.  What are the opposite ends of the television commercial spectrum?  Personally, it would be so satisfying to simply eliminate all the commercials made by Cancer Center Peg and Mesothelioma Doug.  (They have an illicit love-child who makes commercials for sufferers of Reptile Dysfunction.)

After some serious thought (any thinking done while drinking scotch) and quiet contemplation (while watching Top Gear) I finally realized what the opposite ends of the commercial spectrum would be.  All we have to do is eliminate all advertising for television reality shows that do not guarantee the fiery deaths of at least half of the contestants.  To balance this, we ban any fund-raising commercials to provide care for fly-covered children in Africa.  I see no reason to send any money overseas when there are needy, fly-covered History departments in this country.

Fast Food vs. Fine Dining.  Here, the choices are extremely difficult.  There are so many fast food places that deserved to be destroyed.  At Colonel Sanders, the "Drive Thru Window" sign is clearly a plea for justice.  McDonald's claims to have served billions, yet they are only on their second cow.  But, if we can only eliminate one single fast food restaurant, it has to be Taco Bell. 

Periodically, Taco Bell announces a new menu entrée--usually something along the lines of the Chimi-Grande-Taco-Rita.  Evidently, they believe we are too stupid to notice that every single item on the menu uses the same damn 5 ingredients:  ground meat, cheese, tomato, lettuce, and a tortilla.  I said ground meat, not ground beef, because it doesn't taste like beef and have you noticed that none of us has seen that chihuahua lately?

Besides, as we say here in New Mexico, "La comida Mexicana sin cerveza es como hacer el amor sin  besar."  (For you pendejo gringos, that means "Would you like imitation refried beans with that?")

On the other end of the spectrum, it pains me to say we have to eliminate Ruth's Chris Steak House.  This is a fantastic restaurant, but there is simply no choice.  Not only does a steak there cost more than either of my first two cars, but simply watching the television commercials raises my cholesterol count to dangerous levels.  If I ever decide to commit suicide, I will do it by eating there for a week.  I'll have a heart attack and exhaust my children's inheritance simultaneously.  In the unlikely event I live to eighty, I may live in this restaurant.  Between meals, I'll smoke large fat cigars wrapped in bacon.

I admit that this is a work in progress.  There are so many areas where a peremptory challenge would be useful, but this needs more thought (I'm running out of scotch.)  Would the Humvee be an acceptable choice for the elimination of the Chevy Volt?  Some might point out that production of the Humvee has already been halted, but I think this is still a fair choice as production of the Chevy Volt has never really started.

I'll get back to you as list grows.  (I'll get more scotch.)