Volkswagen Is Killing Off the Beetle—Again

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iStock

Say your last goodbye to Slug Bug. Volkswagen will no longer be making its famous Beetle cars, according to the BBC. Production will cease in July 2019.

The German car design has been around since the 1930s—when Hitler had a hand in its creation—and the basic look hasn’t changed all that much since then. In 1997, Volkswagen debuted the New Beetle, a sleeker, more modern update on the original insect-like design. The last of the classic Bugs were produced in 2003. In 2011, the company replaced the New Beetle with another design that tweaked the Bug’s look just a little more. Now, it seems even the updated Beetle is going away.

Over its decades-long run, the Beetle became one of the most recognizable cars on the road, thanks in part to Disney, hippies, and of course, Ted Bundy.

The death of the Beetle has been rumored for a while. A Volkswagen executive alluded to the car’s demise at the Geneva motor show in March 2018, but a company spokesperson later walked that statement back, saying there were no plans to kill off the car. Recently, there were also rumors that an electric Beetle could be coming, but that idea seems to be off the table for now. VW only sold 15,166 Beetles in the U.S. in 2017, The Washington Post reports.

Could the Beetle one day be revived? Maybe. In a press statement, the CEO of Volkswagen’s U.S. arm, Hinrich Woebcken, said he would “never say never” of the potential for a revival of the car down the road. So the company seems to be leaving the door open.

If you’re not ready to say goodbye to the VW Bug just yet, you’ve still got a few months to run out and buy the 2019 Beetle Final Edition, the last model that will be produced by the company. And yes, it comes in a convertible.

[h/t BBC]

Smoke From California Wildfires Has Reached the East Coast

A plume of spoke from the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, on November 8.
A plume of spoke from the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, on November 8.
Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

Smoke from the deadly California wildfires has drifted 3000 miles across the U.S., causing hazy conditions in several East Coast cities, the PhillyVoice reports. Smoggier-than-average skies have been reported in Philadelphia, New York City, and other areas along the east coast.

New Jersey-based meteorologist Gary Szatkowski tweeted a map from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which illustrates the path the California wildfires' smoke likely took. The agency uses satellite technology and a high-resolution atmospheric model to track wildfires and forecast the direction that smoke is expected to travel. To check it out for yourself in real time, visit NOAA’s High-Resolution Rapid Refresh Smoke feature.

Although this news may be alarming to people in East Coast cities, the smoke is likely to disperse as it continues to travel east, if it hasn't already done so. It isn't expected to cause any health problems in the region, National Weather Service meteorologist Lamont Bain told Dallas News.

In California, however, the air quality is currently as bad as Beijing’s. Wildfire smoke produces isocyanic acid (a toxic substance found in cigarette smoke) among other potentially harmful compounds that are still being researched. Wildfire smoke is potentially responsible for 25,000 deaths per year.

“The biggest health threat from smoke is from fine particles,” the EPA states. “These microscopic particles can penetrate deep into your lungs. They can cause a range of health problems, from burning eyes and a runny nose to aggravated chronic heart and lung diseases. Exposure to particle pollution is even linked to premature death.”

People are advised to limit their time outdoors when the air quality is poor. This is especially true for at-risk groups, including children, the elderly, pregnant women, diabetics, and those with heart or lung disease.

[h/t PhillyVoice]

A 'Lost' Disney Cartoon from 1928 Has Been Discovered in Japan

General Photographic Agency, Getty Images
General Photographic Agency, Getty Images

Before there was Mickey, the cartoon mouse who celebrated his 90th birthday on November 18, there was Oswald. Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Disney's first official recurring cartoon character, starred in 26 shorts between 1927 through 1928. Until recently, seven of those shorts had been lost, but Smithsonian reports that one has been recovered from the collection of an animation historian in Japan.

Yasushi Watanabe, now 84, bought a film reel labeled “Mickey Manga Spide” (Mickey cartoon speedy) from a market in Osaka when he was a teenager. The film was a two-minute version of a 1928 Oswald cartoon called Neck n’ Neck made for 16mm home movie projectors.

Seventy years later, Watanabe realized the short was more than just a neat piece of Disney memorabilia. While reading the 2017 book Oswald the Lucky Rabbit: The Search for the Lost Disney Cartoons by Disney animator David A. Bossert, he learned that a handful of Oswald the Rabbit cartoons were lost, and he had a hunch that his reel might be one of them.

After getting in touch with the Walt Disney Archives, Watanabe confirmed that Neck n’ Neck was indeed one of the cartoons that had been missing for decades, and he donated it to Japan's Kobe Planet Film Archive. Bossert's book also led to the rediscovery of a 50-second clip of the same cartoon at the Toy Film Museum in Kyoto, but the original cartoon, which had been five minutes long, has yet to be unearthed in its entirety.

Oswald's time on the silver screen was short-lived. After Walt Disney and his partner Ub Iwerks lost the rights to the character, the pair came up with Plane Crazy, the short that introduced Mickey Mouse to the world. Oswald's obscurity means that some archivists may be holding on to the lost cartoons without even realizing what they are. In 2008, The National Library of Norway discovered that an illegibly labeled reel in their archive actually contained the lost Oswald short Empty Socks.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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