More signs of the apocalypse: Foreign car brands outsold American car brands in the United States for the first time in history in July, 51.9% to 48.1%. No telling where that puts me: my first car was a Mazda, a company that's partly owned by Ford, and my latest car is a Ford built on a Mazda chassis.
For the record: You probably don't care, but I'm arbitrarily awarding Hank Aaron (right) an extra 75 home runs for the ones he probably would have gotten if he had used steroids for the second half of his career. So Barry Bonds still has a way to go, and we're right not to get all excited.
New York City Backs Down: For now, at least. Reacting to a storm of criticism, the NYC Mayor's Office of Film, Theater, and Broadcasting, in a distinctly defensive- sounding announcement, said it would redraft the proposed rules governing photo shoots on its streets. This may be a tactic meant to diffuse public criticism (the revised rules will be reopened for public comment a month from now, and the Mayor's Office could be hoping we'll have lost interest by then), but round one goes to photographers.
Nostradamus mode: I predict a crime wave when analog broadcast TV switches to digital a couple of years from now. You read it here first.
Lindsay Lohan's going to die: I hope I'm not predicting the future with this one, but if you're anywhere near my age, then you've been watching stars and celebrities self-destruct for decades now like I have. Name your favorites: Marilyn, Judy Garland, Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, John Belushi, River Phoenix (original name: River Bottom, and I am not kidding), Chris Farley—the list is as long as your arm. It's such a shame, but doesn't Lindsay Lohan just have the aura of the next to go? She's such an appealing kid, and I would hate to watch the press in a frenzy over her funeral, but this picture just won't fade from the crystal ball. I'm afraid I'm gonna have to watch this. I really don't want to.
Still volatile after all these years: DPReview reports that digital camera sales have soared and DSLR sales lead the way, the latter with a whopping 75% growth. Still, margins are narrowing fast, and some companies are showing signs of R&D investment exhaustion. In a related news item, Sony has instituted a corporate blog for its DSLR division, which recently issued an official statement, probably intended to be reassuring, about its commitment to the product category. Many loyalists took the statement's breezy tone and lack of actual content as none too reassuring, at that.
Unfriendly fire: The Pat Tillman investigation revealed no enemy bullets anywhere in the area where he died, and there were three closely spaced shots in his forehead. There wasn't even a fire fight going on. That's no hero, folks—that's a murder victim. Not that the public will pay much attention to the investigation of what happened or to the bigger story of the spin-into-lies that followed.
Putting two and two together: The Waukesha Freeman (I live in Waukesha, a small town in Wisconsin near Milwaukee) gets my vote for best local headline: "The Bridges of Waukesha County." What surprises me about the aftermath of the tragic and very unsettling bridge collapse in Minnesota—truly the stuff of nightmares—is that it's yet another example of people failing to put two and two together. Some years after Elvis died, I found two newspaper headlines that together made a great joke. One said that there had been over 400 Elvis sightings in the U.S. over some specified period of time; the other said that there were over 200 professional Elvis impersonators in the U.S. Two plus two...well, I'm not saying anyone's directly to blame for a catastrophic bridge failure, but more politicians than you can count have made "No New Taxes" their mantra, Minnesota's current Governor prominent among them. So now a bridge falls down, and we learn that our country's investment in infrastructure maintenance is minuscule, a small fraction of what it should be. Can't anybody put two and two together any more? Cut taxes to the bone and the least glamorous public expenses have to go—stands to reason that the two are connected, seems to me. I could be wrong. One thing's for sure: I'm never again going to make fun of my cousin Linda for carrying an emergency safety hammer in her car.
Hammerin' Hank: A brief coda to the Hank Aaron item above. My younger brother Scott was a practical joker in his younger years. One time, our family happened to be sitting next to Mr. and Mrs. Hank Aaron at a local restaurant. (I should mention, to set this up, that Bobby Dandridge was a basketball star with the Milwaukee Bucks at the time.) Scott, who was thirteen or so, went over to their table and asked Mr. Aaron for his autograph. When he took the slip of paper back, Scott stared at it feigning great surprise and exclaimed, "Hank Aaron?!? I thought you were Bobby Dandridge!" The Home Run King angrily said, "Well, give it back then!" but Mrs. Aaron burst into laughter. Scott apologized to Hank and explained that he was just pulling his leg, which Hank took good-naturedly, although he still didn't think it was very funny. Mrs. Aaron, on the other hand, chuckled for quite a long time.