Monday, December 20, 2004

Britney Spears Book Report sells for $1900

A book report written by Britney Spears when she was 8 or 9 years old sold at auction for $1900.00. I hope it wasn't a married man who bought it.

"Where have you been?"
"Uh, at an auction."
"You Shmuck. You didn't buy some stupid junk again did you?"
"Uh, no. Uh, I bought a . . . a, well it was in the news . . . a lot of other guys wanted it."
"What is it?"
"A piece of original literary criticism by one of the most noted figures in American popular culture."
"You didn't buy that book report by that poptart Britney Spears did you?"
"Well, at least I wasn't arrested for following her this time. . ."

The unfortunate side effect of this is that for all of you parents out there who have a hard time throwing away your kid's school work, it's going to be that much harder now, now that you know that you could be throwing away something really valuable.

Tonight - Spears's error-ridden schoolwork goes on sale
Security Flaw found in Google Desktop Search

A security flaw was found in the Google Desktop Search miniapplet. According to the Infoworld article linked below, the flaw allows a third party site to read the snippets of files on your hard drive that link with the Google search results.

InfoWorld: Security hole found in Google desktop search: December 20, 2004: By : APPLICATIONS : DATA_MANAGEMENT : SECURITY

I'm not surprised. For the Google search tool to work, to "seamlessly integrate" search results on your computer with that of Google, Google has to know what's on your hard drive. Personally, I love Google, but I don't think Google has a compelling need to know what's on my hard drive. I definitely think that Google doesn't have a need to know what's on my hard drive where I store my clients' information. IMHO, For lawyers, it is a prima facie violation of the rule against disclosing client confidences to use the Google desktop search tool.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Man builds Bionic Dolphin

You have to check out this CNN story. It's a dolphin boat that you ride in, porpoising in & out of the waves. It's powered by a jetski engine. WHat I don't get is how you keep engine from flooding with water. - Dolphin design fulfils lifelong dream - Dec 17, 2004

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Rumsfeld needs a History Lesson: The story of the Willow Run Plant

Mark Mulcachy of has written an excellent but concise history of the bomber plant in Willow Run Michigan that really is the symbol of America's transformation into the "Arsenal of Democracy" in World War II. If there is any case history that completely refutes Sec. Defense Rumsfeld's assertion that you fight a war with the army you have, Willow run is it. Here's an excert:

Architect Albert Kahn designed the Willow Run plant for Ford, which was an audacious and ambitious project by any measure. The assembly plant would be the largest in the world at the time, at more than a half-mile long and a quarter-mile wide. A system with 136 conveyors that would deliver parts where they needed to go in the building had to be designed for a complex, four-engine bomber for a company whose only experience was building cars. A road (I-94) had to be constructed for to get workers to the site.

The plant had to be built in a hurry - and it was. Construction started on the plant in April 1941 and was finished in September 1942. The next month, the first B-24 bombers built by Ford - with a mostly female workforce of "Rosie the Riveters" - were rolled off the assembly line and were flown to their destination from the runway.

According to Assembly Magazine, "More B-24s were built than any other combat aircraft in U.S. history. Several other plants churned out the airplane, including facilities in Fort Worth, TX, and San Diego. However, even under optimum conditions, those plants could only build one bomber a day." The Willow Run plant produced one bomber per hour by the end of 1943.

The Willow Run plant is currently being used by General Motors to manufacture automatic transmissions.

May 14, 2004
Spy Satellite controversy - Check out FAS.ORG

Now here's something I haven't heard about in a while, a good old fashioned spy satellite controversy. For background material, check out the Federation of American Scientists site at

Federation of American Scientists
Battle of the Bulge 60th Anniversary - Photo Tour of Bastogne

This week marks the 60th Anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Bulge, Hitler's last offensive in World War II, and the bloodiest battle of the war for the Americans.

Photo Tour of Bastogne

Interestingly, this battle started three years and a week after the beginning of the US war at Pearl Harbor. This is about the same amount of time since we've been engaged in IRAQ.

Donald Rumsfeld says you fight a war with the army you have. Well, in December 1944, we were fighting a war with an army that didn't exist in 1941, with weapons that didn't exist in 1941. Donald Rumsfeld is wrong, the United States has built armies in a short time in virtually every war in which it has been engaged. Donald Rumsfeld is too distracted by irrelevancies like missile defense and F-22 fighters, under circumstances where a fraction of the resources going into these legacy programs could protect the troops that we have on the ground today.

There are thousands of laid-off auto workers that could be manufacturing armored Humvees in (now) idle auto factories. Rumsfeld and Bush choose not to make it a priority.
Minnesota A.G. settles Home Equity Stripping Case

Kudos to Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch and his staff for attacking a home equity stripping organization that targeted homeowners in financial distress. We need more of this progressive work in the states.

Hatch Settles Foreclosure Equity Stripping Case

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

How to use the Daimler Chrysler Employee Advantage Program
Here are some instructions. Oops, the "dashboard anywhere" link ( doesn't work. I don't know how to get the employee price in advance.

The Scoop at Chrysler Group
Join the National Association of Consumer Advocates

For all consumer lawyers and would-be consumer lawyers, here's a New Year's resolution for ya. Join the National Association of Consumer Advocates.

NACA cosponsors the annual consumer law conference every year with the NCLC, but it does more than that, it is a voice in all affairs of interest to the consumer bar in general. For example, if courts followed the NACA class action settlement guidelines, there would be a lot fewer abusive class action settlements, and John Stossel would have a lot less to whine about.

Sign Up
Give George a Brain - a fun Shockwave game

Give him a brain & hear one of his greatest hits.

Jenna Bush to Teach Inner City Kids

Yeah, Jenna has a lot to teach them too, how to do jello shots & flip off the press corps. It gives me comfort that there's another batch of children who won't be left behind.

AP Wire | 12/15/2004 | Jenna Bush Plans to Teach in Washington

Monday, December 13, 2004

Interesting Historical Footnote of the day: The day the United States Air Force Dropped a Hydrogen Bomb on Georgia.

Tybee Bomb - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Chrysler to Replace Durango Ball Joints

DC has recalled previous generation Dodge Dakotas and Durangos due to possibly defective ball joints. This of course would be news to the client that called two years ago with repeated ball joint failures on his Durango and was met with brick-wall type resistance from the dealer and manufacturer when he dared to suggest that it was a manufacturer's defect. Oops.

Chrysler Group Recalls Dodge Durangos, Dakotas to Replace Ball Joints

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Rummy's Response - Let them wear cake

Army Spc. Thomas Wilson, a 31-year-old member of a Tennessee National Guard unit, asked Rumsfeld why vehicle armor is still scarce, nearly two years after the start of the war.

"Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles?" Wilson asked.

The question prompted shouts of approval and applause from the estimated 2,300 soldiers assembled in a hangar in Kuwait to hear Rumsfeld.

Rumsfeld hesitated and asked Wilson, an airplane mechanic, to repeat his question.

"We do not have proper armored vehicles to carry with us north," Wilson said.

Rumsfeld said the Army was prodding manufacturers of vehicle armor to produce it quickly, but noted, "You go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might want or wish to have." - AP National News

Here's my take on this:

In the fall of 1942, the United States invaded North Africa 10 months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and approximately two years after legislation authorizing a vast arms build-up. The vast majority of the planes, ships and tanks involved were brand new. Simultaneously, we were engaged heavily in Guadalcanal and supplying Britain and the USSR via lend-lease. If we got the armor to the soldiers 62 years ago, we can get the armor to them now.

The honest answer to the soldier is that the chickenhawks don't think it's important. Rumsfeld, you don't have to be an arrogant smartass to the people who are actually doing the fighting.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004 - a different approach to a car pricing site says that it is better than competing sites at calculating and comparing the "as equipped" prices of various car models. I tried it out comparing a 2005 Dodge Caravan SXT to a Toyota Sienna XLE, and the Dodge came out with a $2000 advantage. This includes a $1500 rebate adjustment.

When you figure negotiated discounts (and employee discounts if applicable) the Grand Caravan is likely to come out better.

True Delta Vehicle Price Comparison Tool

Monday, December 06, 2004

Disney Boosts Themepark Prices - Again

Walt Disney World has totally revamped its ticket packages. The recently announced pricing plan, which comes on top of an earlier increase, effectively amounts to a yearly price increas of 15% or so. (That's funny the hourly workers didn't get a 15% raise.) Note that in the business trade press, there is much grumbling about Disney theme parks performing poorly. I don't see how this is going to help.

The new packages include extra fees for park hopping (more than one park in a day) and for multi-day tickets that are good for more than two weeks. Thus the back door price increase is even higher for those who want to have flexibility in their schedules.

Under the circumstances, it might be a good idea for Orlando travellers to take this opportunity to take in the Universal parks instead. Universal announced that its ticket prices would remain unchanged.

WDW Update December 6 - 12, 2004
USA Today Article on Predatory Lending

A highlight

Desperate to hang on to her Brooklyn, N.Y., home, Lawler, 55, took out a new mortgage with a local finance company that carried an 18.25% interest rate, big fees that were rolled into her balance and a "balloon" payoff due in five years. Unable to make the higher monthly payments, Lawler refinanced into what she thought was a more affordable loan.

The pattern continued through six lenders, 10 years and thousands of dollars of dubious charges that eroded her home equity and pushed her mortgage balance from $50,000 to $198,000. - More U.S. home buyers fall prey to predatory lenders

Friday, December 03, 2004

Beatles - Who does what
Ever wonder who was singing lead, harmony, etc. on each Beatles song? Settle your disputes with this page.

Beatles: Who Does What?
2005 Lincoln Navigator Ultimate - ultimate in what? has a writeup today on the 2005 Lincoln Navigator Ultimate, a new highline version of Lincoln's luxobarge. This thing has power-operated running boards to help you get into the truck. Hello Hello. Attention buyer, did you ever think that if you need power-operated running boards to get into your truck, it's too f-ing big?

The Car Connection [ The Web's Automotive Authority ]

SUV registrations in Indiana up 102% in 5 years

The Indianapolis Star, citing census figures, reports that SUV registrations more than doubled between 1997 and 2002, a rate of increase that was more than double the national average.

"In fact, there are more registered SUVs in Indiana than in Alaska, Delaware, the District of Columbia, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming. Combined."

Even at that, Indiana, with 561,000 SUVs, ranked only in 16th place in SUV registrations.

These figures don't include pickup trucks or minivans.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

The coolest space site?

I just ran into, a site devoted to the history of rockets and the space program. You can tell by the feel of it that it is truly "buff-driven"

Encyclopedia Astronautica

Check out all the proposed versions of the Saturn V moon rocket