Thursday, December 29, 2005

WSJ - New Pension Rules could Wipe out GM's Shareholder Equity

WSJ: New Pension Rules could Wipe out GM's Shareholder Equity
Stock hits 20 year low

An article in this morning's Wall Street Journal discussed how a proposed new accounting rule for pension liabilties could wipe out all or most of GM's shareholder equity, thereby opening the door to bankruptcy court. I can't link the Wall Street Journal story because is a paid site, and I only have the print edition.

Lookng Back At Hof's Blog 2005

Looking Back at Hof's Blog 2005 - Part 1 January and February

Well Class, it's time to review for our final. What did we learn last year?

Hof's blog 2005 started with a link to a site describing how Capital One tries to undermine your credit score. Bankruptcy deform was berry berry good to the credit card companies in 2005, at least in the short term. They had their way and made record profits.

Also in January, Schnappi the Crocodile was berry berry big in Germany, big enough, in fact, that the Schnappi website was hi-jacked for awhile by some kind of web hooligan that downloaded who knows what onto the computers of those who visited the Shnappi website.

In January, I introduced Wikipedia to the blog. In the months since, I've come to rely on Wikipedia about as much as Google.

Cars previewed included the Chevrolet HHR, Buick Lacrosse, Lincoln Zephyr and Saturn Aura. All but the Aura are currently on the market. I initially panned the HHR, I've softened my stand somewhat in the intervening months. I tried to test-drive the Buick, but the dealer didn't have a dealer plate. The Zephyr looks good, but seems overpriced compared to its sibling, the Ford Fusion.

In consumer electronics, the Mac Mini came out and the JVC Everio was previewed. Both show the way the world is headed, small computers and even smaller do-everything camera/camcorders. The Radio Shack Cinego lead the way for integrated home theater projectors with speakers and dvd players built in. The cost at the Consumer Electronics show? $1495. This past Christmas season, the Cinego was on sale for $995.

General Motors announced that its 2004 profits would be approximately $6 per share, but warned that its 2005 profits would be down to $4-5 per share. It also stated that its health care costs were up $1 billion over the year before. How accurate were the 2005 profit predictions? The last I heard, GM was on target to lose $4.5 billion for 2005.

I looked at the Home Price Comparison Index where from market to market, the cost for a 2200 square foot house ranged from about $134,000 to $,1700,000.

State Farm was in the news for whitewashing the titles of rebuilt wrecks. I predict they'll be in the news again in 2006 for exactly the same thing.

On the lighter side of things, I looked at the rubber band gun - perfect for "mildly disgruntled" postal workers.

In February, I summarized a Detroit News article describing Chinese employment law. Among other things, employers must contribute to the "three insurances". Also, Chinese law mandates one month of severance for every year of employment.

February 10, 2005: "What if GM went bankrupt?"

Also in February, GM cut a deal with Fiat to get out of buying the portion of Fiat that it didn't already own. The cost to GM: $2 Billion. What did GM get in return: the right not to buy Fiat. At the time, Fiat was considered to be a money pit that might sink GM. As it stands now, Fiat's market capitalization is higher than General Motors'.

I looked at mandatory consumer arbitration from several angles. Among other things, I wrote about how at the same time Walt Disney's ABC Network was touting the evils of mandatory arbitration in its newscasts, the Disney Visa featured a potent arbitration clause.

Speaking of bad corporate actors, I hit on Ameriquest a couple of times. We'll hear more about Ameriquest in 2006 as they enter a huge settlement with regulators, all designed to clear the way for its CEO to become the Ambassador of the Netherlands.

On the lighter side, February featured a link to the Brady Bunch sack race game. (Don't everybody thank me at once.)

Halfbakery: Solar Roads

Solar Parking lots Part 3
Photovoltaics that You can Drive on

From the halfbakery - is it crazy to think you could drive on solar panels? The majority of the people who responded say yes . . .

Halfbakery: Solar Roads

BUT - that was before "cold-sintered" flexible non-silicon based photovoltaics. Using cold-sintering, you can manufacture in quantity photovoltaic plastic and even fabric. See the link below

Flexible plastics

Energy Services Bulletin

Solar Parking Lots Part II

Here's Riverside California's approach.

Energy Services Bulletin

Treehugger: Kyocera's "Solar Grove" Parking Lot

Solar Parking lots: Part 1: Kyocera's "Solar Grove"

Everytime I look out at unnecessarily large parking lots, and I think of all the heat soaking into the asphalt, I wonder why can't we use that solar energy rather than wasting it. I'm not alone. This article describes an effort by Kyocera to soak up the solar energy in a parking lot with a grove of 25 "solar trees"

Treehugger: Kyocera's "Solar Grove" Parking Lot

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Cosworth Vega Owners Association's - Official Web Site of the Chevrolet Cosworth Vega

Looking back at the Cosworth Vega (1975-1976)

When I was in high school, in the mid to late 1970s, the Cosworth Vega was a mythical beast. Run-of-the-mill Chevy Vegas were everywhere - at least until they started rusting out and konking out, but somewhere there was a special Vega, a car that retained the affordable nature of its parent, but delivered sports car performance. The performance came from a dual overhead cam, fuel injected engine with 16 valves, the same configuration as a racing engine. It was hot stuff at the time, but it's pretty standard now.

To this day, I don't know that I've ever seen a Cosworth Vega on the road. The website linked below, the homepage to the Cosworth Vega Owners Association, gives some good reason why. First, the Cosworth engine option was delayed more than a year due to problems getting an emissions certification. By the time it was certified in 1975, the engine was so detuned that it only delivered 110 horsepower, far from the 185 hp that was initially expected.

Originally, Chevrolet planned on a limited production run of 5,000 units. Since Chevy had more dealerships than that, Chevy made the dealers jump through hoops including stocking parts and sending mechanics to school to get an allocation of one car. You can expect that many dealers didn't even bother.

With the 110 horsepower engine, the Cosworth Vega ran 0-60 in 12.2 seconds. Today, a bottom-of-the-line Kia Rio can do better. Even then, Camaros and other V-8 powered Chevys could beat that figure. Despite the so-so performance, the Cosworth Vega sold for only $600 less than the lowest-price Corvette. According to the CVOA, the total production run of Cosworth Vegas was only 3,508. Due to their scarcity, the Cosworth Vega is now a collectors item.

Cosworth Vega Owners Association's - Official Web Site of the Chevrolet Cosworth Vega

Monday, December 26, 2005

Win a Saturn Sky

Win a Saturn Sky

Go to the Saturn "future vehicles" website and enter the contest to wiin a Saturn Sky. In case you're not familiar with the Sky, it's Saturn's version of the two-seat sportscar platform that has given us the Pontiac Solstice. Which is better is a matter of personal preference. Personally, I'll take the free one.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Black helicopter conspiracy theory - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Origin of Black Helicopter Legends

Black helicopter conspiracy theory - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Boeing B-29 Restoration in Wichita

Boeing to Deliver One More B-29

If you visit one of the giant Boeing plants in Wichita, Kansas, you might find a site that was familiar to Wichita workers sixty years ago. There's a Boeing B-29 Superfortress being readied for flight. There's no definitive date when "Doc" will be ready for flight.

Right now, there is only one flyable B-29 in the world, the Commemorative Air Force's "Fi-Fi". Fi-Fi is going through some rough times right now, and might be grounded for good soon.

Boeing B-29 Restoration in Wichita

Friday, December 23, 2005

China now net exporter of cars-Geely, Chery lead the way; nation poised to become the world's biggest auto market.

From the "Boy, that didn't take long" file:
China is Now a Net Exporter of Cars

China now net exporter of cars-Geely, Chery lead the way; nation poised to become the world's biggest auto market.

Ball of Paint

The top reason to visit Indiana - The World's Largest Ball of Paint

It makes me proud to be a Hoosier.

Home Page

Main Page - Wikibooks, collection of open-content textbooks

What's a 'Wikibook'?

A Wikibook is a book that is put together through an open-source collaborative process, like the Wikipedia online encyclopedia. Open-source textbooks seem to have a lot of promise, especially in conjunction with the "$100 laptop" project designed to bring low-cost computers to poor and remote areas. A low-cost computer loaded as needed with open-source textbooks can be far cheaper than getting the paper books.

Main Page - Wikibooks, collection of open-content textbooks

Health giveback ekes by at Ford-Just 51% of workers OK deal to use portion of future pay hikes to fund retirees' medical care.

UAW Ratifies Ford Health Givebacks

Just 51% of the voting union members approved the deal negotiated between the UAW and Ford. That shows that it was a tough deal to get done. A portion of future pay hikes will be used to fund retirees' healthcare. Most retirees will have to pay a yearly fee for their coverage. Active workers don't have to pay any fee for the coverage, but they will have a higher copayment for prescription drugs.

Scorecard: GM deal done. Ford deal done. Next up - DaimlerChrysler.

Health giveback ekes by at Ford-Just 51% of workers OK deal to use portion of future pay hikes to fund retirees' medical care.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

village voice > news > Mondo Washington by James Ridgeway

Impeach Bush? Just maybe.

Things are starting to get a little impeachy in Washington. A Google News search yielded 11000 hits with bush and impeach in tracked news stories.

There are parallel movements the first have to do with misrepresentation for the grounds for war in Iraq. John Kerry was one of the first to prominently discuss impeachment as a possibility, but he backed away when the heat was on.

Now there is discussion of impeachment relating to allegations of unauthorized spying on citizens' telephone calls.

Unless and until Democrats get control of the house, impeachment is unlikely unless evidence shows up that would make even the most partisan Republican vote for impeachment.

village voice > news > Mondo Washington by James Ridgeway

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Kirk Takes Tax Loss GM Shares Fall

Kirk Takes Tax Loss GM Shares Fall

Captain Kirk Kerkorian beamed up 12.8 million of his GM shares, cutting his stake to 5.8% of the company's stock. The market went down on the news, with GM stock trading at an all-time low in the $19/share range. In separate news, it appears that Toyota is on the verge of nudging past GM for the title of biggest car company (in unit sales). Toyota could buy GM lock stock & barrel with just 18 months of its profits, but that would mean buying GM's problems, so nothing like that is going to happen any time soon.

Jib Jab 205

Jib Jab's '205' year in Review

I'm not usually a big fan of Jib Jab, but their year end round-up song "205" is quite clever

Luxpro Pico (2GB) - Review : Music & Play - CNET Asia

From Nano to Pico - Apple Gets One-Upped by Clone

Last year, a company called Luxpro showed off a knock-off of its iPod Shuffle audio player. Last Summer Apple announced the iPod Nano to rave reviews, with more than a little amazement that so much could be packed ito such a small size. Well, wouldn't you know, the folks at Luxpro did it again, within a couple months after the iPod Nano was introduced, the Luxpro Pico was announced.

The Pico looks like it is the same size as the Nano. It also has a black case and a color screen. The control wheel is different. Not only does the Nano play mp3 and WMA files, it also has an FM radio tuner (with recording from FM possible) and a built in mic and high-quality audio recording feature.

Apple's lawyers will probably prevent the Pico from being sold openly here in the states, but I suspect that it will be available from time to time on eBay.

If Apple is smart, they'll buy this Taiwanese company lock stock & barrel and convert them to the "good side of the force."

Luxpro Pico (2GB) - Review : Music & Play - CNET Asia

ENERGY: Honda to build solar gear

Honda to make Solar Batteries

I have written before about the need to convert unused capacity in the auto industry to the the growing industry of alternative energy technology. Honda's doing something about it. This is an area where the government could do something to help spur things along. Is the government doing anything? No. Not really.

ENERGY: Honda to build solar gear

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Board rifts threaten VW's profits

Mitbestimmung - The German Way is Causing Problems at VW

Volkswagen is facing its own problems in the changing automotive scene. Profitable in Europe, VW is losing money in the US and in most of the rest of the world. VW's German unions have board representation. This, and an overall political and cultural environment that puts a premium on satisfying the workforce, a cultural norm called "mitbestimmung", could make restructuring even more difficult for Volkswagen than it will be for General Motors.

Board rifts threaten VW's profits: "Mitbestimmung"

VW bets big on pricey Bugatti |

Bugatti Veyron - What do you expect for $1.2 million?

Here's a reprint of a Wall Street Journal article about the most expensive production car in the world, the Bugatti Veyron. What do you get for that much money? How about a 16-cylinder engine with 1001 horsepower! It will accellerate from 0 to 62 mph in 2.5 seconds. Top speed is over 250 mph. As the WSJ points out, all of these specs are almost moot, because few owners will drive it. It's too risky.

The good news is that some videogame maker will model this car, and we'll all be able to drive it and wreck it, and drive it and wreck it again, at least in our virtual world.

VW bets big on pricey Bugatti |

List of school pranks - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wikipedia Entry of the Day
"List of School Pranks"

For those who aren't creative to come up with them on their own.

List of school pranks - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

President Bush Gives Segway to Japanese Prime Minister

Bush Gives Japanese Prime Minister a Wedgie

Oh, I'm sorry, I read that wrong, it's not a wedgie, it's a Segway. My stakemis.

President Bush Gives Segway to Japanese Prime Minister

Delphi backs off huge job, wage cuts

Delphi backs off Wage Cut Demands -- For Now

Delphi backs off huge job, wage cuts

Monday, December 19, 2005

EPA turns innovator with hydraulic hybrids-Carmakers would get edge in mpg race

Coming Soon: Hydraulic Hybrids?

Once you master hydraulic hybrid technology, you can tackle ultracapacitors. They'll be a short quiz on Tuesday.

EPA turns innovator with hydraulic hybrids-Carmakers would get edge in mpg race

Detroit Needs More Than Healthcare Cuts? - The Car Connection

Profit & Loss Per Vehicle:
Nissan Makes $1826 Per Vehicle
GM Loses $1227
'Profitable' DaimlerChrysler makes $186 story linked below reports on a study by Laurie Harbour-Felax, an industry analyst. The study's conclusion is that US automakers need to do more than just control their healthcare costs. Savings on healthcare alone are not enough to solve the profitability gap between the haves (Nissan) and the have nots (GM).

Detroit Needs More Than Healthcare Cuts? - The Car Connection

Microsoft drops Mac Internet Explorer - ZDNet UK News

Microsoft Drops Mac Support of Internet Explorer

Microsoft dropped development of Internet Explorer for the Mac in 2003. I use a mac at home, and in general I find the Safari browser and Firefox to be able replacements. Only gives me any trouble, it's not as functional with Firefox or Safari.
Microsoft drops Mac Internet Explorer - ZDNet UK News

Chrysler Games

The Chrysler Games Page

Chrysler Games

Bush Gives Sunday Speech
Shows he's Working Hard to Protect Our Freedom by Bugging Our Phones > In Iraq -- Bush senses victory in Iraq

Bush Senses victory in Iraq.

He also senses victory in the Canadian Lottery. > In Iraq -- Bush senses victory in Iraq

New twist to Arctic drilling deal / Hurricane-ravaged states would have stake in oil revenues

Senate Republicans are on the Verge of Ravaging Two Ecosystems with one Bill

There's a deal brewing to authorize drilling in the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge. Alaskan drilling is part of a spending bill that includes funding of the war in Iraq and anti-flu preparations, with all of that, what may have broke the logjam is a provision to use billions of dollars from the Refuge for Hurricane Katrina Relief. Of course, there is still no plan in place for coordinating rebuilding efforts in a way that will revitalize the wetlands that have been slipping away due to human landscaping and global warming. A combination of more dikes and rebuilding in the same places can lead to another disaster.

Here's my pitch to Congress: go ahead, pass the spending bill, then come back with a better bill to undo the crap, pass it by a two thirds majority then override the veto.

New twist to Arctic drilling deal / Hurricane-ravaged states would have stake in oil revenues

Friday, December 16, 2005


From the 'Beating a Ded Horse' File:Federation of American Scientists on Project Echelon

There are plenty of leads here to keep civil libertarians and conspiracy theorists busy for a long time.


Ralphs supermarket chain indicted on federal charges from 2003 strike - MSNBC Wire Services -

Union Busting - 21st Century-style
Ralph's Supermarket gets caught

What did they do? They (allegedly) hired union employees to work while the union was on strike. So the union members wouldn't get in trouble, they moved the workers to other stores and provided them with fake identities.

(I can just imaging the Wal-Mart managers reading stories about the Ralph's case, and taking notes.)

Ralphs supermarket chain indicted on federal charges from 2003 strike - MSNBC Wire Services -

Can The Indianapolis Colts go Undefeated?

My first impression is no, there are too many things that could go wrong. On the other hand, when I look at the side-by-side schedules and winning margins of the 2006 Colts and the 1972 Miami Dolphins in the table linked below by, the last team to go undefeated, I notice that the Colts have a significantly higher average margin of victory. Bottom line: it COULD happen.

udpate reuters - Google Search

Reuters Loves to Udpate

This search yielded 609 "udpate"s.

udpate reuters - Google Search

2003 Nissan Murano SE -

"2007 Ford Edge, 2007 Lincoln Aviator, 2007 Mazda CX-3, Meet the 2003 Nissan Murano

Ford will try to gain market share with three versions of a new Mazda6 platformed crossover suv, badged as the Ford Edge, Lincoln Aviator, and the Mazda CX-3. When these vehicles show, they will look a lot like the 2003 to current Nissan Murano (except maybe the orange paint). The various dimensions and performance numbers will generally be within about 2-3 percentage points either way.

The Murano sells about 50,000 units per year. As far as I can tell, the similar Lexus RX series sells about the same. This is not a huge market, and there will be a lot of new competition when the Ford crossovers hit the street.

2003 Nissan Murano SE -

Fiat worth more than GM. Really. - Autoblog - _

FIAT is worth More than General Motors?

Are you kidding me? Last year at this time, the big news about General Motors was how in the world was it going to get out of being dragged down by its investment in Fiat. Earlier in 2005, GM paid $2 Billion for the privilege of not buying Fiat. Cut to December 2005, the London Financial Times has reported that Fiat is worth more than General Motors. Fiat Group has a market valuation of $12.87 billion, compared to GM's $12.67 billion. Two years ago GM's valuation was 7 times Fiat's. If GM doesn't turn things around soon, the'll be lucky to be worth 7 Fiats - not the car company, the individual cars.

Fiat worth more than GM. Really. - Autoblog - _

ECHELON - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wikipedia on Project Echelon

Here's a very good overview.

ECHELON - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Stock Market News and Investment Information |

Udpate Update

Way back when I started this blog, actually when it was a newsletter, I tracked UDPATES found on the web. Here's one from Reuters.

Stock Market News and Investment Information |

Bush secretly expanded spying in U.S. , officials say-President authorized National Security Agency to eavesdrop without court-approved warrants

From the Spys Like Us File: Bush Authorized Widespread Eavsdropping on International Calls.

This is news, but I'm not sure why. It has been my understanding for years that the NSA routinely monitored large quantities of international calls; and in fact, after satellites, that's where the biggest part of its budget goes. It was widely reported around 9/11 that the NSA used advanced voice recognition technology to have computers listen to certain words or phrases, and when there was a match, the call would get human attention.

Bush secretly expanded spying in U.S. , officials say-President authorized National Security Agency to eavesdrop without court-approved warrants

Wouldn't you know it, just now, our favorite superhero, the Googleteer(tm) flew in through the window and performed this search:

N.S.A. "voice recognition" monitoring

and it returned 14,000 hits.

Many of the hits reference "The Echelon Project." I have a hunch that much of what's been written about the Echelon project is untrue, but since nobody has deemed it necessary to give me a guided tour of top secret intelligence operations, I'll leave it for others to debate. Personally, I love the sound of "Project Echelon", it sounds like it comes right out of the X-Files.

Bush, McCain agree on bill to ban torture-Consensus comes after White House's efforts to kill proposal by Ariz. senator, an ex-Vietnam prisoner of war.

Bush & McCain agree on Torture Ban

This one kind of surprised me. As I understand it, it was a hard-fought battle. To get Bush to agree, McCain had to pull out his fingernails.

Bush, McCain agree on bill to ban torture-Consensus comes after White House's efforts to kill proposal by Ariz. senator, an ex-Vietnam prisoner of war.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Mercedes Oops

Mercedes S-Class Test Gone Wrong

In this case "S" Class must stand for "Salvage." The Australian car magazine Wheels reports a humiliating public car test by Mercedes. The company was promoting the "proximity control" on its top of the line S-Class, and it staged a demonstration on an airport runway. Three S-Class sedans were driven down the runway through a simulated fog. The first car was to slam on its brakes. In theory, the proximity control would automatically apply the brakes to the other two. Didn't happen. BAM BAM, three wrecked 6-figure cars.

mercedes oops

Top Secret Intel Processor Plans Uncovered | Tom's Hardware

Quad-core Intel Processors Due in about a Year

This holiday season, "dual-core" processors, processors with two full-fledged CPUs per chip, are just becoming mainstream. I'm linking a report on stating that Intel has four-core and eight-core chips in the pipeline, with the first quadcore chips due in about a year. Since todays 3+ Ghz single core chips would have met the definition of supercomputers just a few years ago, the rise in computing power is just astonding.

Top Secret Intel Processor Plans Uncovered | Tom's Hardware

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Predatory Lending Bills

Predatory Lending Bills Compared

There are two (anti)predatory lending bills winding their way through Congress. The first, Ney-Kanjorski, is basically an industry sponsored bill that sanctions all but the worst conduct and pre-empts the states from doing anything about what's left. The second, the Miller-Watt-Frank bill is a Federal follow-up that takes its cues from the successful North Carolina state legislation from a few years ago. Linked is a comparison of these bills. This comparison is somewhat dated, (March 16, 2005) but it's the best I've seen.

Based upon what happened with the bankruptcy legislation, I'm not too encouraged at the prospects of what will come of this. If you get a chance, look at these bills and contact your legislator.

GM Shelves GMX002 Saturn ION Replacement

GM Shelves Saturn ION Replacement
The Small Car Division without a Small Car

GM is planning on ceasing production of the slow-sellling Saturn ION in just a few months. What's it's replacement going to be? Good question. GM has apparently put on hold plans to build the "Evoke", an Opel Astra based compact.

Saturn was originally the car company that made plastic-bodied, small cars. Saturn was supposed to be "different". With the Ion gone, and the days of the plastic-bodied Vue numbered, Saturn may have no reason to exist.

GM Shelves GMX002 Saturn ION Replacement

Tuesday, December 13, 2005 - a trade journal for the video game industry

Last week I talked about how I've always liked to spy on other industries by reading their trade journals. The videogame industry is no exception. Wow, the Xbox360 isn't selling well in Japan. It could be that they're still spending all that money on Cheap Trick concert tickets.

AutoWeek - The Auto Enthusiast's Online Resource

Collins & Aikman Bankruptcy is Hampering Ford Fusion Production

According to, trim supplier collins & Aikman is having trouble ramping up production fast enough to allow Ford to ramp up production of the Ford Fusion. Demand is high, but supplies are low. Collins & Aikman is in Chapter 13 protection.

AutoWeek - The Auto Enthusiast's Online Resource

GM can't shake Wall Street's bankruptcy fears-Credit agency lowers automaker's debt rating further, citing concerns over financial losses.

GM's Credit Rating Goes Down Again

GM can't shake Wall Street's bankruptcy fears-Credit agency lowers automaker's debt rating further, citing concerns over financial losses.

Monday, December 12, 2005 Your Source For New York News, Weather, Sports & Traffic: CBS2 Investigates: Rev. Al Pitching Curves To Poor

Shame on you Reverend Al!

Rev. Al Sharpton has turned into a pitchman for car title loans. Your Source For New York News, Weather, Sports & Traffic: CBS2 Investigates: Rev. Al Pitching Curves To Poor

Ford's bigger idea: A not-so-green jumbo SUV-As the company touts environmental image, it readies launch of even larger Expedition.

Ford to Stretch the Expedition

Five years ago, Ford ran a big publicity campaign wherein Bill Ford announced grand plans to increase SUV fuel Economy. Ford then introduced the massive Excursion SUV aka the "Ford Valdez". Just two months after the cancellation of the Excursion, it's revealed that Ford will soon have a new SUV that's just slightly smaller than the Excursion. The new ute will be a version of the current excursion, but stretched by about a food. The new ute has not yet been named.

Ford's bigger idea: A not-so-green jumbo SUV-As the company touts environmental image, it readies launch of even larger Expedition.

Mass deaths and atrocities of the twentieth century - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

George Bush: 30,000 Iraqi deaths "more or less"
Notes on 20th Century War Casualties

President Bush sites press reports of 30,000 civilian deaths in Iraq. I'm sure that the U.S. military has its own number, but it would jeopardize national security if the number was released. (I'm not sure who would come in and kick us out of our homes if somebody let the number slip, but if they say national security is at stake, then I believe them.)

To put things in perspective though, as civil wars go, it's doubtful if Iraq's would make the top fifty. Linked below is a list of conflicts and casualty numbers.

The United States may be brutal, may be the "Great Satan", but the combined death-toll in the Iran-Iraq war was over a million, we still have two decimal places to go to hit that figure.

Mass deaths and atrocities of the twentieth century - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ward?s Names 10 Best Engines for 2006

Wards Auto Names 10 Best Engines for 2006

Direct Injection has arrived. Three of the ten engines include direct gasoline injection.

Ward?s Names 10 Best Engines for 2006

Thursday, December 08, 2005 - Popularity of crossovers leaves SUVs in dust

Crossovers Cross Truck-based Utes in Popularity - Popularity of crossovers leaves SUVs in dust

Some analysts question strength of GM's cash reserves - Dec. 6, 2005

How much Cash Does GM REALLY Have?

When the issue of a GM bankruptcy comes up, the next sentence usually talks about GM's $20 billion in cash that separates GM from bankruptcy. The article below from CNN Money calls into question how much cash GM really has available to fund its operations. I won't get into the details, but it suggests that less than 1/2 of the $20 billion might be available to fund operational contingencies like a Delphi strike. According to the article, a Delphi strike might cost GM more than $1 billion per WEEK in negative cash flow.

Some analysts question strength of GM's cash reserves - Dec. 6, 2005

Volga vanishing? - Autoblog - _

A Superpower's Auto Industry is Biting the Dust . . .

This time it's Russia. Russia's Gorky Auto Plant, maker of the Volga, is shutting down.

Volga vanishing? - Autoblog - _

GM talking with Kerkorian about a board seat - Automotive -

Kerkorian may get GM Board Seat

GM talking with Kerkorian about a board seat - Automotive -

What's the perfect gift for this billionaire who has everything? The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Nova Scotia has just the right thing: a deck chair from the Titanic.

Titanic Deck Chair


Over 80% of Historians Surveyed give Bush a Failing Grade.

Fifty out of 415 historians who responded to a George Mason University poll characterized George W. Bush as the worst president ever.

This is what those historians said -- and it should be noted that some of the criticism about deficit spending and misuse of the military came from self-identified conservatives -- about the Bush record:

He has taken the country into an unwinnable war and alienated friend and foe alike in the process;

He is bankrupting the country with a combination of aggressive military spending and reduced taxation of the rich;

He has deliberately and dangerously attacked separation of church and state;

He has repeatedly "misled," to use a kind word, the American people on affairs domestic and foreign;

He has proved to be incompetent in affairs domestic (New Orleans) and foreign ( Iraq and the battle against al-Qaida);

He has sacrificed American employment (including the toleration of pension and benefit elimination) to increase overall productivity;

He is ignorantly hostile to science and technological progress;

He has tolerated or ignored one of the republic's oldest problems, corporate cheating in supplying the military in wartime.


Milton Bradley - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Who was Milton Bradley?

Since it's Christmastime, we're seeing ads for games that we never see the rest of the year. The name Milton Bradley is prominently displayed on various board games, the most prominent being The Game of Life. I wondered if there ever was a Milton Bradley, so I wiki'd him. Below is a link to his article:

Milton Bradley - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Surprisingly, Mr. Bradley was born in 1935, and his first success was publishing a lithograph of (then) President Lincoln. He set up his game company in 1861 to publish a game he invented, The Checkered Game of Life. The game was quite successful. The modern Game of Life came about in 1960, in connection with the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the company. The Milton Bradley Company has since been taken over by Hasbro.

GM November Sales Down 11% -

GM Sales down 11% Year/Year in November
Some Encouraging news in the Midsized Sedan Segment

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

2006 Ford Fusion - Manual Transmission

2006 Ford Fusion SEL 2.3 - 5 Speed Manual - Review

There's a lot of good stuff at tonight. In particular, I've been waiting for somebody (besides Mike Karesh who manages to review everything) to review the 5-speed manual transmission version of teh Ford Fusion. I read that Ford makes these, but good luck finding them in stock at a dealer around here. (For that matter, ditto on the 5-speed manual Pontiac G6.) Nevertheless, I prefer manual transmissions. On the Fusion, you can only get the manny tranny with the 4-cylinder. On it's mother the car, aka the Mazda6, the man trans is available on the 6-cylinder as well.

Nascar Announces $4.5 Billion TV Package

What's that, about 1 Billion per tooth?

Hyundai Accent Hybrid

Holy Hyundai Hybrids Batman!

At a trade show in China, Hyundai just showed off a hybrid version of its compact Accent model. If brought to the states, it would probably be the first hybrid with a sticker price well below $20,000. Although the recently debuted Accent has generally won praise from the auto press, from the looks of this one, it shares a serious flaw with the abitious and technologically-correct Sonata. The dashboard combines tan and dark brown with puke-green electronics displays.

Tonawanda News--Delphi strike shaky

Delphi Strike "More Probable than Not"

- Thanks to Ken W. for the link.

Tonawanda News--Delphi strike shaky - Report: Ford could cut up to 30,000

Ford to Pink Slip 30,000 Employees - Axe 10 Plants - Report: Ford could cut up to 30,000

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

European First Drive: 2006 Ford Focus ST (Euro Spec) -- Inside Line

From the Not-Available Here File: 2006 Ford focus ST (Euro Spec)

European First Drive: 2006 Ford Focus ST (Euro Spec) -- Inside Line

SHECKYmagazine Standup Comedy...Seriously!

Shecky Magazine: A Stand-up Comedy Trade Journal?

When I was in law school, I used to go over to the undergraduate libary from time to time, and as a study break, I'd randomly pull a trade journal off the stacks and read it. Yeah, I know, it is scary. Anyway, apparently stand-up comedy has its own trade journal online, Shecky Magazine. Here's the link:
SHECKYmagazine Standup Comedy...Seriously!

Stand-up is kind of going through a resurgence right now. The last time I went to a Border's Bookstore, I notice lots of new comedy CDs. I think it's largely due to the popularity of satellite radio. Satellite radio has increased the accessibility of uncensored comedy. Since satellite radio is still in the sweet spot of its growth curve, the popularity in stand-up comedy should continue to grow as well.

Inside Line: Toyotas by Fuji: Subaru Parent Will Build Toyotas in United States -

100,000 Bottles of Camry on the Wall . ..
Toyota will Build Camrys at Indiana Subaru Plant - Or Won't they? is citing the Wall Street Journal and stating that Toyota & Subaru have cut a deal. The Detroit Free Press is saying maybe. Yesterday, a Subaru spokesman said that there were negotiations but no definitive deal.

In separate news, Toyota is considering building an engine plant in Michigan. When you're hot, you're hot. . .

The interesting thing between the Subaru-Toyota hook-up is the four-wheel-drive angle. As you know, for about a decade, all Subarus have been four-wheel-drive. Toyota wants the factory space to build a hybrid version of the Camry. In the Lexus RX-400h hybrid SUV, the rear wheels are not driven by a drive shaft or any mechanical system, the rear wheels are electric only. A hybrid system driving the rear wheels, batteries and all, is not significantly heavier than a conventional 4wd driveline. When mass produced it might not be any more expensive.

I've written before about the experience curve in relation to hybrid vehicles, and here's where it really kicks other technologies in the pants. For the type of 4wd that the average person needs, electric drive, at least for two of the wheels, kicks competing technology in the pants, and it's going to take over the market. For roughly the same cost, instead of getting a car with inferior mileage than a 2wd version, a hybrid 4wd car gets better mileage and performance. The bottom line to all this - within about two years, Toyota could be flooding the market with another 100,000 Camrys. Within two years after that, another 200,000 Subarus and Toyotas could be coming off the assembly lines in Lafayette, Indiana. The Legacy and Camry may share the same 4wd platform by then, a platform that in hybrid 4wd trim could provide all-weather traction, go 0-60 in about 7 seconds and return 35 mpg in mixed driving.

Inside Line: Toyotas by Fuji: Subaru Parent Will Build Toyotas in United States -

Monday, December 05, 2005

Ford's secret deal

Don't Count Out Ford's Atlanta Plant yet

Ford announced plans last week to shut down its Atlanta plant, the plant that builds the Taurus & Sable. The Detroit Free Press article linked below discusses a possible secret deal between Ford and state and local government entities in Georgia, a deal that could keep the Atlanta plant open.

Besides the government incentives, as I mentioned in an earlier post, Ford has business incentives in keeping the Georgia plant open. First of all, even though the Taurus isn't the industry-wide top-seller that it used to be, it's still Ford's top selling sedan; selling more than the Focus. If Ford stops building the Taurus, it's doubtful that all 180,000 sales per year would go to Ford Motor Co. products. Many of the fleet buyers that buy the Taurus may be prohibited from buying the Taurus's replacement, the Fusion, because it is assembled in Mexico.

Secondly, a withdrawal from the Atlanta area may be taken as abandonment by many Georgian Ford customers. Why buy a Ford when Ford has abandoned us? Atlanta is a huge market. It may be worth keeping some manufacturing presence just to show commitment to the area.

Ford's secret deal

French Indo-China PSIS 400-35

Don't Know Much about History
. . . Especially when the Government keeps 60 year-old Documents Classified

The Naval History center released on the web a document titled French Indo-China PSIS 400-35 a/k/ French Indo-China (Political Situation). This document is dated 11 October 1945. It's a fairly short and innocuous history of Japanese Occupation of Indochina as it is released on the web. Interestingly, this language appears in the middle of the document:

[Page 19-25]
[When this document was received at the Navy Department Library, pages 19-25 were apparently still security classified. To determine if these pages have been declassified, researchers should contact the Textual Reference Branch, National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001, tel. (301) 713-7250, where the original document should be located in Record Group (RG) 457. The Navy Department Library does not have the missing pages from this document in it's collection.]

At first blush, it seems that the Naval History Center just doesn't have a complete copy; but these are the Navy's trained staff historians. Here's a document that they're taking the time to post to the web, and though they don't have the original, they know where to find it. Why not take this opportunity to complete the Navy's historical record?

French Indo-China PSIS 400-35

Friday, December 02, 2005

Escape cell early termination charges?

Escape Cell Phone Early Termination Charges?

Is it possible to escape cell phone early termination charges? A website called claims that it has a better idea: create a market for subleasing of cell phone accounts.

They charge you $19.99 to look at responses from people who might want to buy your cell-phone account. To me, this seems just a little bit too much like the folks who claim to be able to re-sell your time share. I don't see how a market can work that's 95% supply and 5% demand.

Ford Taurus, the Car that Doesn't Get No Respect

Ford Taurus: The Car that Doesn't Get No Respect

Let's say you're Bill Ford, Chairman of Ford Motor Company. Times are not the best. Is this a good time to close the plant that makes your most popular passenger car? Well, that's what Ford is on the verge of doing. It's on the verge of killing the Taurus. The fact is, the Taurus still sells almost 200,000 units per year even though it hasn't seen a significant upgrade in years. It outsells the Focus, the Mustang, the 500, the Fusion and Milan -- all of them. Maybe not forever, but for now.

Most of those sales are to fleets, but hey, the fleets have to buy something. If they don't buy the Taurus, what are they going to buy? Some might buy the Five Hundred or the Fusion, but the majority of those sales are going to go somewhere else. Some of them probably can't buy the Fusion because it's assembled in Mexico. There isn't enough capacity on-line now to fill those orders anyway.

The fact of the matter is that the Taurus doesn't get any respect. In a market with quite a few excellent cars, a good car is ridiculed. I'm going to post a comparison of the Taurus and the Fusion very soon. On paper these cars look more the same than different. There's no question the Fusion is a better car, but I can go to my local Ford dealer and buy a 2005 used Taurus with the 24 valve engine, 12,000 miles and lots of warranty left for $11,700. That's half the price of the Fusion. So, the question is, would I rather have a new Fusion or TWO almost-new Tauruses? I think that's the question that Ford doesn't want answered, and that's why they're killing the Taurus.

Update: November sales, first quarter forecasts - Autoblog - _

Reuters Business Channel |

November Sales Results

GM Down 11%
Ford Down 18%
DC Down 7%

Even though sales were down in November, GM is forecasting higher sales and is increasing production for 1st quarter 2006.

Reuters Business Channel |

Thursday, December 01, 2005 The Fastest Cars Sold in America

The Fastest Cars Sold in America has posted a list of the fastest cars sold in America. Imagine that you're cruising down the highway in your Ford GT at its official top speed of 205 mph, and some bozo comes up behind you in a SSC Ultimate Aero at 273 mph and blows your doors off. Life just isn't fair sometimes.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Welcome to!

Rumsfeld: Don't call them Insurgents

If you read anything today, read the Associated Press article linked below describing Don Rumsfeld's "Don't call them 'insurgents'" press conference.

What does he want to call the people we're fighting in Iraq? He doesn't say. Here's an idea, let's call them 'chocolate chip cookies'. After all, how can you have too many chocolate chip cookies?

For example: "US military intelligence analysts estimate that the number of chocolate chip cookies in Iraq has increased by 25% since last month."

Welcome to!

Many cash in on Delphi-Supplier puts squeeze on workers while richly paying lawyers and clerks to help with bankruptcy.

Who's making money off the Delphi Bankruptcy?

How about these #s from the Detroit News?

$835/hour for senior bankruptcy attorneys
$55/hour for data entry clerks

Many cash in on Delphi-Supplier puts squeeze on workers while richly paying lawyers and clerks to help with bankruptcy.

2006 Toyota RAV4 - The Car Connection

2006 Toyota Rav4: 3 Rows of Seats? 269 Horsepower? Yep.

Throughout its existence, the Toyota Rav4 has built up a reputation of bing a cute little SUV. With a new redesign, the Rav4 isn't little anymore. It's within an inch here and there of its big-brother (sister?), the Highlander. The new model grows 14 inches in length and now sports an optional 2-place third row seat. It also features a version of the hot V-6 from the Toyota Avalon.

2006 Toyota RAV4 - The Car Connection

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Green Machines : Advanced Technologies : GM's Six-Speed Automatic

Production begins on GM's 6-speed Automatic Transmission

In October General Motors began producing its new 6-speed automatic transmission at its plant in Willow Run Michigan. According to the web article linked below, the initial model will be a rear-wheel-drive transmission, and it will show up in 2006 in Cadillacs and the Corvette. A front-wheel-drive model will follow. Fuel economy gains are projected at 4% compared to a 4-speed automatic.

GmGreen Machines : Advanced Technologies : GM's Six-Speed Automatic

DCX to upgrade St. Louis factories

DaimlerChrysler: "We're Not GM"

DaimlerChrysler seems to be doing whatever it can to waive its metaphorical hands in the air and shout "We're not like General Motors!"

DC has announced a billion dollar upgrade of its Saint Louis plants that produce minivans and pick-up trucks. Also, it announced that it will build minivans for Volkswagen.

Separately DC announced that it would upgrade its Toledo, Ohio Jeep plant to build the new Nitro and other models. Finally, DC announced that it would prepare a new facility in South Carolina to build Sprinter vans from imported kits.

Even though Ford and GM have lost money recently, DaimlerChrysler has remained profitable.

DCX to upgrade St. Louis factories

UAW strike fund nearly $1 billion

Delphi Update -About Lunch Time 11/29/2005

I'm not sure I'm getting this all right folks; then again, I'm not sure anybody really has a handle on this. I'm not going to post links to all the news items, you can look them up and read them. First off. Delphi locals are engaged in informational picketing in plants across the country today. They are highlighting inequities in Steve "pompatus of bankruptcy" Miller's demand for $12/hour wages with contemporaneous requests for millions in executive retention bonuses.

In other news, Delphi has rolled back the deadline for asking the bankruptcy court to approve its proposal to reduce the hourly wages citing unspecified "progress" with General Motors. Part of that progress is GM's announcement that it will reverse the parts discounts that it demanded from Delphi earlier in the year. The roll-back of the contract demand (and the resultant strike) deadline appears to have been an acknowledgement that a pre-Christmas strike would not only be bad news but it would kabosh end-of-year sales, and would destroy any good press that GM could get from the Detroit Auto Show in early January. This might have something to do with the fact that the UAW announced that it has a $1 Billion strike fund. The new deadline is January 20th.

Delphi wants GM to finance early retirement for Delphi workers and also give laid-off Delphi workers "flow back" rights to GM. Needless to say, GM needs these costs like it needs another Pontiac Aztek.

UAW strike fund nearly $1 billion

Buick and Martha Stewart Join Forces to Introduce 2006 Buick Lucerne to Upscale, Sophisticated Audience

Martha Martha Martha
Why does it always have to be about Martha?
Martha's Win is Buick's Loss

Hot on the heels of an announcement that the Martha Stewart version of The Apprentice will be cancelled for low ratings, General Motors have announced marketing tie-in between the show and the new Buick Lucerne.

The Lucerne has generally received good reviews, but so far has received very little promotion. If Martha Stewart's show is the centerpiece of the promotional effort, GM will likely be disappointed in the car's sales.

Buick and Martha Stewart Join Forces to Introduce 2006 Buick Lucerne to Upscale, Sophisticated Audience

Monday, November 28, 2005 - Toyota to Introduce All-New Camry for 2007

Camry Leaked

A Japanese website called auto has leaked pictures of the upcoming 2007 Toyota Camry. Now the pictures are all over the web. The Camry is the best selling car in the United States, so a redesign is big news. The pictures suggest the Camry will be sleeker and more expensive-looking than the current model. The over-all length stays the same, but the wheelbase is increased. The 4-cylinder gets a power boost sufficient to keep it competitive, up from 153 to 167 horsepower (at least in Japan). There's no word on the V-6. Drag coefficient is a slippery .28. - Toyota to Introduce All-New Camry for 2007

Texas-sized ambition-With new plant coming to San Antonio, Toyota takes aim at the heart of U.S. truck market.

Detroit News Profiles a "Relentless" Toyota

In a series of articles coinciding with Toyota's opening of a new 200,000 unit/year full-sized pick-up truck plant in Texas, the Detroit news is taking a detailed look at Toyota. The article below calculates Toyota's total cost of labor at $47.25 per hour, with GM's at $73.00. According to these figures, GM's "cost disadvantage/hour" is $25.75 and GM's total cost is $5.46 billion per year.

Texas-sized ambition-With new plant coming to San Antonio, Toyota takes aim at the heart of U.S. truck market.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Bell May Not Toll for Spring Hill

GM MIGHT Keep Open Saturn's Tennessee Plant

The Saturn Plant in Spring Hill Tennessee might not close after all. There's a chance that GM might bring a new product line into the plant.

Delphi pay = $76.00/hour

Delphi Average Worker Pay is $76.00/Hour

According to the Detroit Free Press article linked below, Delphi has calculated its average worker pay, inclluding benefits at $76.00 per hour. This figure was released as part of a public relations campaign to justify CEO Steve (pompatus of bankruptcy) MIller's demands for 60% wage cuts. The section quoted below is Delphi's attempt to put the wage cuts in perspective:

According to a study Delphi commissioned, in part to thwart claims that it is being unfair to workers, Delphi pays its workers $76.46 per hour, up from the previously reported wage of $65 an hour. That breaks down to a wage of $26.97 an hour for a first-year employee, $26.86 an hour for benefits such as health care and vacation days and $22.63 in legacy costs, which include retirement health-care costs and costs past the obligation of workers compensation.

Delphi workers are paid more than average hourly workers when benefits are considered.

Nationwide, employers from all industries pay their hourly workers $24.24 per hour, which includes benefits but not legacy costs, according to the most recent U.S. Department of Labor study, published in June 2005. An average wage of $17.21 an hour accounted for 71% of the total hourly compensation, while benefits, at $7.03, made up the remaining 29%. Wages, as a percent of total compensation, declined during the past five years from 73% in 2000.

Within geographic regions, total compensation costs ranged from $20.42 an hour in the East South Central division to $28.14 in the Pacific division. Employers in the division that includes Michigan paid their employees $24.96 an hour -- $17.27 in wages and $7.69 in total benefits.

In Michigan's division, health care, at $1.90 an hour, was the most expensive benefit employers provided workers.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Filmsnobs - A Movie Review Site for the Hard-to-Please

If you're looking for strong opinions and general mockery, this is the site for you.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Animal of the Month: the Domestic Dog

In the past, I've featured links to some obsucre animals. I feel a little bit like Brian Fellow's Safari Planet in forwarding this link, but it's not that elementary. There are some obscure breeds of dogs featured at The one linked directly, the Peruvian Inca Orchid, is totally new to me.


'World's ugliest' dog dies at 14 - Other Pet News -

Breaking News Story - The World's Ugliest Dog is Dead

The dog, named Sam, was a pure-bred Chinese Crested Hairless. I'd hate to see what Chinese UNcrested Hairless would look like.

/id/10152429/#storyContinued"'World's ugliest' dog dies at 14 - Other Pet News -

Daily Edition: Nov. 23, 2005 - The Car Connection

First Pictures: 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe

Linked below are the first publicly available pictures of the 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe. The Santa Fe is a mid-sized (think Ford Explorer) SUV with two or three rows of seating. It will have a 262 horsepower v-6 and a 5-speed automatic transmission. The Santa Fe will be built in Hyundai's Alabama facility.

Daily Edition: Nov. 23, 2005 - The Car Connection

Toyota moves on GM with plan for 100,000 vehicles at U.S. plant - 11/23/05

Toyota to Build 400,000 More Vehicles in North America by 2008
Transplants will make up for most of GM's 1 million unit Capacity Reduction

In a series of press releases, reported by the Detroit News, Toyota has indicated that it is planning to increase it's North American manufacturing capacity by 400,000 units.

The most recent announcement is that Toyota is planning on producing up to 100,000 units in the Lafayette, Indiana plant run by Subaru. GM just sold off it's stake in Subaru, and that stake was bought by Toyota. Obviously, Toyota it didn't take Toyota too long to find the knife to twist it into GM's soft underbelly. To add insult to injury, the Detroit News repeated earlier speculation that the Lafayette-built Toyotas will be hybrids.

Toyota also expects to bring on-line a new pickup plant in Arlington, Texas with a capacity of 200,000 units per year. Toyota also plans to build up to 100,000 Rav4s in Canada.

GM's recently announced production cuts are planned to reduce General Motor's manufacturing capacity by approximately one million unites. In terms of the over-all capacity glut of the industry, Toyota's additions negate 40% of that. Honda and Hyundai are bringing new capacity on line as well. To me, GM's strategy seems to be based on the assumption that its competitors are going to stand still to let it shrink its way to solvency. I just don't see that happening.

Toyota moves on GM with plan for 100,000 vehicles at U.S. plant - 11/23/05

GM banking on 15 new vehicles - 11/23/05

GM's "Wait 'til Next Year" Line-up
15 New Models and No Obvious Breakout Hits

The Detroit News has a chart showing the 15 new models that GM plans to introduce next year. None seem to offer the promise of a turn-around.

The biggest in terms of volume will probably be the full-size SUVs and the full-size pickups. The problem with using these models as the basis of a turn-around is that GM already leads the pack in full-size SUVs. These models offer the promise to keep market share, but I don't see them drawing new buyers into the fold. As for the pickups, pick-up buyers tend to be brand-loyal. New market share is hard to come by. Again, GM might hold its ground, but it's not going anywhere new.

The Saturn Sky? Nice little roadster, but it's a small market and GM already has a near-twin, the Pontiac Solstice.

The Saturn Aura. I saw a prototype. It looks like a competent mid-sized sedan, better than the L-Series, which was so bad it was given the boot early, but all of the competition is good too.

Saturn Outlook, GMC Acadia Crossovers: I don't know too much about these. I don't know how big the crossover market is; but I do know that there will be new competition here as well. Ford will be coming out with crossovers at the same time. The Acura MDX is due for a makeover. Honda is hinting at a new "truck" coming out of its Ohio complex, a complex that now produces cars, so it sure looks like a crossover to me. I'm sure there are more.

The last one on the list is the Saturn Vue Green Line (hybrid) crossover. This can't be more than a halo or image car produced at a low volume.

The bottom line: there's nothing here that's going to save GM's bacon next year.

GM banking on 15 new vehicles - 11/23/05

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - Continental bumps lawyer, loses $3,100 in lawsuit

Lesson: Don't Piss Off a Lawyer
Aviation Lawyer Sues and wins $3100 after being bumped by Continental

If you ever have an involuntary bumping case, this story can be a simple roadmap for approaching the case. - Continental bumps lawyer, loses $3,100 in lawsuit

The Rutles Tragical History Tour

Test Your Rutles Triva Skills

. . . at the official Rutles site. Link below

The Rutles Tragical History Tour

Monday, November 21, 2005

Toyota is on track to top GM sales

Toyota to be the World's Top Automaker in 2006

Toyota is on track to top General Motors as the world's largest auto maker. Toyota is projecting a 11% rise over 2005 to 9.2 million units. GM's projection is not available, but is expected to be below its 2005 sales of 9.1 million.

Toyota is on track to top GM sales

V6 Crew Cabs: Holden VZ Crewman S 4x2 3.6 September 2005 Car Review - CarPoint Australia

From the Not-Available-Here File
The Holden VZ Crewman

The Holden Crewman is Australia's version of the El Camino, still alive and well down there. Could this be imported as a Chevrolet? The last thing General Motors needs is a distraction.

V6 Crew Cabs: Holden VZ Crewman S 4x2 3.6 September 2005 Car Review - CarPoint Australia

Microsoft Xbox 360 Reviews. Video Game Consoles Reviews by CNET.

The XBox 360 is Here
Build a better Nerd Trap . ..

Microsoft Xbox 360 Reviews. Video Game Consoles Reviews by CNET. - Honda FCX: Ride pollution-free

Honda FCX - Our Fuel Cell Future?

Linked below is USA Today's review of the Honda FCX, the first "commercially available" fuel-cell powered car. - Honda FCX: Ride pollution-free

Who'll Blink Over GM? - Newsweek Business -

Newsweek's Allan Sloan on GM
A 3-way Game of Chicken

One of my favorite columnists, Allan Sloan of Newsweek describes what he calls a "three-way game of chicken" that is driving General Motor's stock price. The players are GM, Delphi, and the UAW. Specifically, Delphi CEO Steve Miller, by daring the UAW to strike with a low-ball wage cut proposal, is also daring General Motors to come in with some cash to head off the strike.

I mentioned before how economists familiar with game theory may be able to come up with a potential way out of this mess. On the other hand, it may be that there is no winning scenario. It's possible that there may not be enough money to get Delphi out of bankruptcy. It's possible that there never was, and GM knew it, and that's why Delphi was created in the first place, as the primary mirror in a house of smoke and mirrors. If that's the case, then GM investors have just been bamboozled.

Consider this, four years ago, in 2001, GM decided in its "Keep America Rolling" campaignnn that it couldn't shrink its way to financial health. It had to keep production up because its retiree commitments weren't going down. They've only gone up since then. Nevertheless, GM announced a plan to cut 9 plants today. Many, if not most, of the workers from those nine plants are just going to retire. Were is the money going to come from to pay the costs of the new retirees?
href="">Who'll Blink Over GM? - Newsweek Business -

GM ups job cut target to 30,000 hourly jobs - Nov. 21, 2005

GM to Cut 30,000 Jobs - Shut 9 Plants
Ford to cut 4,000 Jobs

Here is CNN's rundown of the GM cuts.

The plants being closed include Oklahoma City, and the Lansing, Mich., Craft Centre in 2006, and Doraville, Ga., in 2008.

In addition, some shifts will be eliminated at three other assembly plants. In addition Line 1 at Spring Hill, Tenn. and Oshawa, Ontario, Car Plant No. 2, will also shut, although assembly plants on the same property as those two lines will continue to operate. But GM counts the facilities being closed there as separate assembly plants.

One shift in Moraine, Ohio, will also be eliminated in 2006.

GM also said it will shut eight other facilities, including two stamping plants in Lansing, Mich. in 2006 and Pittsburgh in 2007, along with two powertrain plants, in St. Catharines, Ontario, and Flint, Mich., in 2008. And the company will shut three parts facilities in Portland, Ore., Ypsilanti, Mich and St. Louis by 2007, although St. Louis will be converted to a collision center. There will be one more parts facility closing, with its identity yet to be determined.

Here are some of my quick thoughts on the cuts. Some news reports state flat-out that the Saturn plant in Spring Hill Tennessee will be shut down. According to CNN, one line will be shut and one line will remain open. The Saturn plant is one of the newest in the GM inventory. Also, the Oklahoma City factory had been substantially rebuilt after a direct hit by a tornado just a few years ago. Age of facility apparently wasn't a big consideration in determining what plant to shut down. Also, the cuts appear to be disproportionately in GM's southern region. This means that Dixie is almost exclusively going to be the land of the transplants for some time. Your typical southern NASCAR fan is going to be far more likely to work for Toyota,Hyundai, Honda, or Nissan than GM Ford or Chrysler. If Joe Nascar works for Daimler-Chrysler, he's likely to be a non-unionized Mercedes worker. There will be even less of a union presence in the soutern states than there was before.

I'm a little surprised that some of these plants will be shut down before the UAW collective bargaining agreement expires in 2007.

I'm going to try to add more cogent thoughts to this later. I just wanted to get something down in a timely fashion.

Fellow Afscme 3357 members, I urge each of you to spend some time during the winter shut-down to come up with a personal contingency plan and do one thing toward that plan. This is real. This is not a drill.

Thanks to Ken W. for the link.

GM ups job cut target to 30,000 hourly jobs - Nov. 21, 2005

Ford cuts 4000

Friday, November 18, 2005

BREAKING NEWS: Chrysler to offer free gas, maintenance Chrysler to offer free gas, maintenance

Daimler Chrysler to offer Free Gas

Daimler Chrysler has countered GM's Red Tag program with its own incentive program called "Miles to Freedom". DC is offering $2400 in a debit card towards gas expense, and free routine maintenance for two years. Some models are excluded including the popular 300 series.

BREAKING NEWS: Chrysler to offer free gas, maintenance Chrysler to offer free gas, maintenance

Thursday, November 17, 2005

General Motors just can? catch a break - Automotive -

General Motors Market Cap < $12 Billion

GM shares plunged low enough today to bring the market cap of the company (the total value of all its shares) to $11.9 Billion. The market considers General Motors to be less than 1/10th as valuable as Google Inc. (at $112.5 Billion), and even less than Ford Motor Co. (13.6 Billion).

(thanks to Marc S. for the link.)

General Motors just can?t catch a break - Automotive -

GM shareholders should be in open revolt at this time. The recent $400 million earnings restatement is just a hint that the GM's financial statements probably aren't that reliable, and the reality is probably worse than what's on paper. There SHOULD be intense pressure on the board to break up the company at this point. GMAC, the crown jewel of the company, is at risk when the company can't borrow money cheaply enough to keep lending rates competitive. Once GMAC is gone, what true financial incentive is there on a pure financial standpoint to not sell off valuable assets and shutter the worthless ones? Given the contractual provisions in the current UAW contract, plant closings are limited through 2007, but that's just 13 months away. (I don't know what month the collective bargaining agreement ends.)

What's it going to take to save GM as we know it today? Read the next post.

My take on the GM Mess and How to Get Out of It Version 1.0.
Nobody Asked Me, but So What?

GM's only realistic hope of turning around the automotive operations involve immediate substantial help from both the United Auto Workers AND the United States government. Whoever wants to lead this country should take the bull by the horns, get GM management, the UAW, and the congressional leaders in the same room and hammer out a deal where everybody gives something up. It would take an immediate 20% concession by the UAW plus additional promised concessions to forestall Delphi-like impoverishment. Moreover, friendly congressional representatives should propose $50 billion or so in government contracts to improve capacity utilization. When they are accused of doling out a handout, don't hide it. Admit it. GM saved the economy after 9/11, it's time for a payback. Screw the World Trade Organization.

Here's my specific proposal, If George W. Bush really wants a legacy, earn one. Declare war on foreign oil dependence and mean it. Let GM lead our industrial base just like it did in World War II. The government could sponsor a program to replace the inefficient, polluting engines in 2 million old cars with modern Ecotech engines, it will go as far as any project the Bush Administration has sponsored in reducing air pollution. Such a program can be funded by money from polluting power plants who get the benefit of the net reductions. Let GM plants shift to the production of solar heaters, solar shingles, and led lighting fixtures. Give every family on welfare $1000 worth of energy-saving home improvements, have the products built in the USA in idled auto plants, and have the improvements installed by people who are now un-employed. Let's convert all city buses to dual-fuel hybrids within 5 years. Let's divert 1/2 of all NASA work hours to energy-efficiency projects. Let's put GM supercomputers to work doing the math on planning the grid for massively parallel electrical grids featuring residential fuel-cell co-generators such as the model that Honda just introduced.

While we're at it, we have to come face-to-face with the healthcare mess. It's time to sever the bond between employment and healthcare. It is a farce and it is now being exposed as a farce. GM can't compete in a capitalist economy with a socialist entitlement structure. We need a single-payer healthcare system not just for General Motors but for every employer. It's not socialized medicine, it is central funding of a social good in a market where there is there isn't anything close to the "zero information costs" necessary for free markets to function.

To be continued, updated, deleted or ?

Inside Line: Toyota Promises Cheaper Hybrid System by 2008 -

Toyota Continues to Ride the Experience Curve for Hybrids
3rd Generation to be Cheaper, Lighter & Higher Performing by 2008

About the same time that GM & Chrysler get their first generation hybrids out, Toyota will be on its third. Toyota promises that their next generation system will be cheaper, lighter, and higher performing. Toyota expects to double its hybrid production, currently at 300,000 worldwide. Toyota also expects to produce components in the United States.

A good location for new hybrid production in the US would be the modern Subaru plant in Lafayette, Indiana. This is one of the assets that GM lost control of when it dumped its stake in Subaru earlier this year.

Of the US automakers, only Ford understood that unit sales of hybrids aren't about market share, it's about building a technology base that lets you ride the "cost curve" or "experience curve" whereby costs decline as a function of accumulated units produced. When you have a product that has a pronounced experience curve, once you have a lead, it is very hard for others to catch up.

Inside Line: Toyota Promises Cheaper Hybrid System by 2008 -

Auto Market Entering End of the Year "Dead Zone"

We are in the season where virtually nothing new will come out between now and early January 2006 when the Detroit Auto Show introductions will take place. Detroit will likely feature the 2007 Toyota Camry and the well-publicized full-size GM suvs. Look for some surprises in the early spring next year. I predict that either Toyota or Honda will announce a hybrid minivan. Speaking of Hybrids, look for Toyota to demo a version of the Prius with siginificantly higher performance. This Prius may or may not be available for sale.

Daimler Chrysler will awaken from its auto slumber. There will be more buzz over the Dodge Caliber, the controversial replacement for the neon. The replacement for the "sky cars" (Cirrus & Stratus) will be fleshed out. Don't be surprised if DC puts the 3.5 liter V-6 in the minivans with a new Kokomo-built 6-speed automatic transmission.

Welcome to GM Vehicle Showroom

GM Marketing Failure Mode Strikes Again.

Last spring, I reported on how I received a test-drive offer on a Buick LaCrosse. I went to a Buick Dealer, and they didn't have enough dealer plates to handle the customers, and I and several others waited up to an hour only to leave without test-driving the car.

Today, I tried to get on the website to check what was available. (GM has a current offer giving employees $1000 bonus on midsized cars.) The link to refer the customer to the dealer internet representative isn't functioning.

Note to General Motors: Your marketing program is only as good as your weakest link.

Welcome to GM Vehicle Showroom

Agency Probes Chrysler and Dodge Minivans - New York Times

NHTSA Looks at DC Minivan Airbags

If you are the product manager for an automaker's minivans, what's the worst thing that can happen to you? High on the list might be bad press suggesting that the vans are unsafe.

That's exactly what Daimler Chrysler is getting. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is examining whether there are systematic defects in the front airbag sensors for Dodge and Chrysler minivans.

Agency Probes Chrysler and Dodge Minivans - New York Times

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Black Friday 2005 - The OFFICIAL Site for the Hottest Day of the Year Your Guide to "Black Friday"

"Black Friday", the day after Thanksgiving, is the top shopping day of the year. The day that all the stores stay open ridiculous hours and hope to lure you in with sales that are too good to be true. Usually they are, the stores don't really have the items in stock, and if they do, they might have one or two of each. The site has gotten a lot of press for publishing in advance the sales items for the major stores. The stores' loss is your gain.

Here's a tip: Go to and do a "site:" search for the item you want. For example: search on

"playstation 2"

this will yield all of the circulars that have playstation 2 units on sale.

Black Friday 2005 - The OFFICIAL Site for the Hottest Day of the Year

ABC News: Nightline

From the Kicking a Guy when He's down Department:
ABC NIGHTLINE Story "The Price of Joining the Club"

Last night ABC's Nightline program concerned a controversy over GM's Minority Dealer program. It was one step shy of a hatchet-job.

The program admitted that GM has more minority-owned dealerships than any other automaker (by far) and has actively sought minorities and sponsored them in acquiring dealerships. GM was taken to task by the high failure rate for those dealerships.

Really though, is it surprising given GM's overall problems that its newest, least capitalized dealerships would have the most problems?

What am I doing, defending General Motors? Yes, as a matter of fact. I think back to that line in Animal House. "They can't do that to our pledges. Only we can do that to our pledges."

ABC News: Nightline

A hoax most cruel

Welcome to McDonalds: Food, Folks & Fun: Not to mention Forced Strip-search

A hoax most cruel

Hof's Car of the Year Preditions

Hof's Predictions for Car of the Year

Here are my picks for the 2006 Car of the Year Finalists. I generally disregard the high-end name-plates, because when the articles come out about cars made of unobtanium, I just don't see relevance to my life. As you can see, I'll make an exception for the Corvette.

2006 Chevrolet Corvette
2006 Ford Fusion/Mercury Milan/Lincoln Zephyr
2006 Hyundai Sonata
2006 Chevrolet Impala
2006 Toyota Avalon
2006 Honda Civic
2006 Volkswagen Passat
2006 Mazda MX-5 (a/k/a Miata)
2006 Pontiac Solstice
2006 Buick Lucerne

Now, here's my pick for the car that will win the most awards this year: 2006 Hyundai Sonata. The main reasons are the large improvement over the old model, the debut of two new engine families along with the car, and with the comprehensive safety equipment available even on the base model.

The first runner-up would be the Toyota Avalon. Second runner-up is the Ford Fusion/Mercury Milan/Lincoln Zephyr. Which one would I pick personallY? Any one that they'd give me for free. | News Wires

Bush in Asia: Mongolia or Bust

At the start of his "whirlwind" Asia trip, right before going to China, GWB gives a speech in Japan holding Taiwan out as a role model for China. That's diplomacy for ya.

Later he's going to Mongolia. Why Mongolia? The only thing that I can think of is that he and Donnie R. have run out of torture ideas, and they need to search the presidential library of Ghengis Khan. | News Wires

Perhaps he's read my updates of the Mongolian Entertainment scene.

Mongolian Entertainment Oct. 2003

Mongolian Entertainment May 2005

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Five Reasons GM Won't Declare Bankruptcy -

From 5 Reasons GM Won't Declare Bankruptcy

Don't put too much stake in reason #1, GM's $20 Billion in Cash. The Delphi bankruptcy alone might cost GM more than half of that, especially if there is a Delphi strike. As for the rest: slow sales and lowered credit ratings can eat the rest up in a hurry.

The other reasons are more interesting, and in my mind, more persuasive.

Five Reasons GM Won't Declare Bankruptcy - News & Commentary

How the Money People are Betting on GM Bankruptcy

Derivatives . . . Options . . .

The annual cost of insuring $10 million of GM debt for five years with credit-default swaps rose to $2 million upfront plus $500,000 a year, compared with an annual premium of about $1 million early last week, traders said. The debt-insurance contracts changed hands at about $260,000 at the start of the year.

Thanks to Steve B. for this link. News & Commentary

Monday, November 14, 2005

Alive Chimpanzee So Real, It's Unreal!

How to waste $150.00
The "It's Alive" radio-controlled chimp head.

Alive Chimpanzee So Real, It's Unreal!

Home Hydrogen Refueling Technology Advances With the Introduction of Honda's Experimental Home Energy Station III

Honda announces 3rd Generation Home Hydrogen Refueling Station

Honda announced the "Experimental Home Energy Station III". This unit has several functions. First, it reforms natural gas into hydrogen. This hydrogen can be used to power a fuel-cell car. Secondly, the hydrogen can be used to power a home generator that also runs on a fuel cell. It appears that the heat generated in the process can be used as a residential heat source.

How is home hydrogen technology advancing? According to the press release:

Home Energy Station III is roughly 30 percent smaller than its predecessor (Home Energy Station II) with an approximate 25-percent increase in electrical power output. Overall performance increases with more energy-efficient operation, increased hydrogen storage and production capacities, and a faster start-up time of about one minute.

Additionally, hydrogen storage and production capacity are both improved by about 50 percent with the use of a new, high-performance, natural gas reformer. The Home Energy Station III is also able to function as a backup power generation system during power outages by using the hydrogen in the storage tank to power the internal fuel cell, providing as much as 5 kilowatts of electrical power to the home in normal and emergency conditions.

Home Hydrogen Refueling Technology Advances With the Introduction of Honda's Experimental Home Energy Station III

Deer-hunting season has a ripple effect on state economy

Holiday Watch: Tuesday is the Start of Deer Hunting Season
UAW-Negotiated holiday - not a good time to be in the woods.

Just a reminder friends, Tomorrow is the beginning of deer hunting season in Michigan. It's a holiday in the UAW contract. It's my policy to not make fun of this holiday. All the people who don't find it ridiculous have guns

Deer-hunting season has a ripple effect on state economy

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Gitmo Prisoners to Lose Right to Hearing

What Wouldn't Jesus Do?
BackDoor Budget Amendment to Deny Gitmo Detainees' Rights

It astounds me that GWB and his right-wing minions can profess piety and morality, and ignore the most basic concepts of human justice. I'm thinking of the treatment of prisoners. Lately the administration has been fighting legislation that would ban torture, and they had an amendment slipped into the budget bill (which the Senate Republicans ok'd) to deny Gitmo detainees the right to a hearing that they won in a recent Supreme Court Decision.

I'm not a religious expert, but I think Jesus said visit the prisoners, not torture them and lock them in a hole without a trial.

Friday, November 11, 2005

WAL-MART: The High Cost of Low Price

Wal-Mart: The high Cost of Low Price

Interesting new movie blasts Wal-Mart. I'll try to check it out and report on it soon. It's being released to DVD and movie theaters simultaneously. The makers are encouraging people to buy the dvd and organize a screening.

WAL-MART: The High Cost of Low Price

DaimlerChrysler sells Mitsubishi stake

DaimlerChrysler Gets Rid of its Mitsubishi Stock

DaimlerChrysler sells Mitsubishi stake

Indianapolis Evan Bayh/All America Committee October Meetup - Indianapolis Evan Bayh/All America Committee Meetup Group -

Bayhwatch 05 - November UPDATE
Evan Bayh's Presidential Campaign support group is rocking along

I've been reporting about once a month on the progress of Indiana Senator Evan Bayh's presidential campaign. At last update, Sen. Bayh's group at had 4 members. Since then, Bayh went to New Hampshire and gave a speech, so you know the campaign must have "Big MO" now, right?

Ordinarily, "Big MO" means momentum. In this case, though, it must mean monotony. Membership has stayed the same at four members.

By comparison, the Olsen twins have 309 members total in their groups at The anarchists group has one member - but then again, that wouldn't be surprising would it?

Indianapolis Evan Bayh/All America Committee October Meetup - Indianapolis Evan Bayh/All America Committee Meetup Group -

GM VEERS OFF ROAD: Automaker is ripe for bankruptcy

GM Bankruptcy - is it a "when" or an "if"?

Consider this from the Detroit Free Press. (Yeah, I know I usually refer to the Detroit News, but I like to mix things up every now and then)

Wall Street experts say the unthinkable is more likely than ever before: Michigan's largest company could be bought by a corporate raider like Las Vegas billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, forced to file for bankruptcy, or both.

Getting GM out of bankruptcy could require the same drastic cost-cutting that is racking Delphi, its largest parts supplier.

Lower wages, less generous benefits and fewer jobs would not only be devastating for the automaker's 142,000 U.S. employees. It would hurt everyone who makes parts for GM cars and trucks, sells furniture and homes to GM workers, or treats their children for the flu.

Almost everyone in Michigan has a stake in GM's future.

But the facts are unavoidable: You can now buy every single share of GM stock for a mere $13.5 billion, or about $3.5 billion less than last spring.

Experts say a buyer like Kerkorian could sell GMAC (the division that lends money for everything from cars and homes to Manhattan skyscrapers) for $10 billion to $15 billion, take GM's $15 billion in cash and stock, put GM's automaking business into bankruptcy, and walk away with a huge profit.

GM VEERS OFF ROAD: Automaker is ripe for bankruptcy

Thursday, November 10, 2005

GM misstated '01 income by up to $400 million - 11/10/05

General Motors Restates 2001 Earnings

General Motors is worth $400 million less than it thought it was.

GM restated its 2001 earnings downard $400 million (half its profit for the year) due to misapplication of "supplier credits". Corrections to later years' statements are to follow. The fact that GM didn't deny that the supplier credit issue had anything to do with Delphi makes me believe that it probably had a lot to do with Delphi. We'll find out in the future.

In the meantime, GM's junk bond ratings went down another two notches.

GM misstated '01 income by up to $400 million - 11/10/05

Catholic Worker Movement - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Catholic Worker Movement

I'm proud to call myself Catholic, yet I'm ashamed of how my church has handled itself on social issues over the last few years. In the 2004 election, it seemed like the Church was advocating single issue voting on the abortion issue. Issues of peace and justice were swept over the table. Other issues, like unequal distribution of wealth and the effects of globalism and environmental destruction also don't seem to merit much discussion on Sundays.

In 44 years of being a Catholic, including spending most of my education in Catholic schools, I never heard of the Catholic Worker Movement. Here's a link to the basic Wikipedia article if you are interested in learning about it.

Catholic Worker Movement - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Future of the Union

The Delphi mess seems to be a catalyst of a union website,

I agree that there needs to be unification and coordinated action regarding Delphi and the potential implications on maintaining a living wage in the USA. On the other hand, I think their "no concessions" stand is inherently ridiculous and is a sign of a denial of economic reality.

Future of the Union

frontline: secret history of the credit card: eight things a credit card user should know | PBS

PBS Frontline: the Secret History of the Credit Card

I missed this episode when it aired last year. You can watch the entire episode online if you have a broadband connection.

frontline: secret history of the credit card: eight things a credit card user should know | PBS - Credit cards quitting rate-bumping game

Are "Universal Default" Charges on their way out?

USA Today says yes. - Credit cards quitting rate-bumping game says no.

Fight Back!!! -- 2004 Credit Suit

Is Delphi's Steve Miller the Second-Worst Steve Miller?

There's another Steve Miller who's put together a string of debt management - credit counseling - debt pooling companies with operations centered in Florida and Texas. Somebody at the site below has tried to link the various companies.

Is DeFight Back!!! -- 2004 Credit Suit

BREAKING NEWS: Ford announces new 3.5L V6 and Six-speed Automatic - Autoblog - _

Ford gets new 3.5 Liter V-6 and 6-Speed Automatic Transmission

Ford gets two new products that should help its competitiveness greatly.

The first is a modern 3.5 liter V-6. It was lack of an engine like this that resulted in the Ford 500 being generally deemed a "good car, but underpowered".

The second product is a 6-speed automatic transmission. Although the article doesn't say so, this is apparently the transmission that Ford worked on with General Motors (Yep!). Ford currently has 6-speed automatic transmissions in some of its models but they are (as far as I know) sourced from third parties.
BREAKING NEWS: Ford announces new 3.5L V6 and Six-speed Automatic - Autoblog - _

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Oddly Enough News Article |

From the Bad Ideas file: Three Die Playing Catch with Grenade

Oddly Enough News Article |

International News Article |

Saddam's Lawyers Boycott Trial

The lawyers are upset that two have been assassinated and there's no reason to think that the rest are safe, so the lawyers refuse to work. Makes sense to me. Still, they need lawyers.

Say, isn't Mike "Brownie" Brown a lawyer? LET'S GET MIKEY!

International News Article |

valerie plame - Google Image Search

Pictures of Valerie Plame on the Web

They're not hard to find at all (now).

valerie plame - Google Image Search

Shaq sells shoes more people can afford |

Kudos to Shaquille O'Neal

His "Dunkman" shoes sell for less than $40.00 at Payless shoes. The man has a conscious as big as he is.

Shaq sells shoes more people can afford |

shift production to china - Google Search

The Googleteer shifts attention to China

On August 28, 2003, I asked my friendly neighborhood superhero, the Googleteer(tm) to do a search for me on these words:

shift production to china

At that time, the search returned 383,000 hits. It's a little over two years later, and I asked him to do it again. today's results: 6,460,000

shift production to china - Google Search

Visteon posts loss, plans cuts - 11/09/05

Visteon's Loss Narrows from $1.4 Billion to $200 Million

Visteon posts loss, plans cuts - 11/09/05

Delphi posts quarterly loss |

Delphi Loses 3/4 Billion in the Quarter

Last year's third quarter, Delphi lost $119 Billion. This year, Delphi lost $788 Billion with sales 5% lower than last year.

Delphi posts quarterly loss |

Monday, November 07, 2005

Barbary pirates - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

How long can the War in Iraq Last?
The War against the Barbary Pirates - A Historical Precedent

This isn't the first time the United States has "gone to war" against a vague and shifting foe across the seas. The first time was the campaign against the barbary pirates. Starting in 1784 Congress allocated money for the payment of tribute to pirates off the coast of Africa. Because of continued problems, Congress allocated money to build a navy in 1801. The new United States Navy was successful at ending tribute payments to the pirates by 1815.

All in all, then, it was 31 years from the first attention to the problem until success was achieved. Isn't that comforting?

Barbary pirates - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Prevention of identity theft or credit card fraud at

"Secret Documents" of Credit Reporting Agencies

If you find yourself in a suit with a credit reporting agency (aka "credit bureau") over inaccuracies in a credit report, you should be aware that all of the agencies will often "play dumb" about the existence of certain internal records. Most of these records are discoverable if you know what to ask for. That's where the "secret document" bank at comes in. If you register (free) at this site, you have access to quite a bit of information that the credit bureaus don't want you to know about.

Prevention of identity theft or credit card fraud at

The Car Connection - Delphi Turnaround Mired in Woe - Company tries to get traction, avoid total shutdown.

Flint Loses 400 Delphi Workers

Delphi is planning on closing a spark plug factory in Flint Michigan, putting 400 UAW workers out on the street. Remember, Flint is Michael Moore's home town. If you saw Roger & Me a decade ago, you know that Flint was already hurting.

Sunday, November 06, 2005 News - UK - Student launched from catapult died after missing safety net

Student Dies in Catapult Accident:
Setback to the Scottish Space Program

The sports that come out of Scotland are weird, more like drinking games. Example: tossing the caber. Isn't that like getting drunk and seeing how far you can toss a telephone pole? That's just one step beyond cow-tipping if you ask me. When you think about it, ESPN-2 is becoming "the Sports-you-play-drunk" network. Bass Fishing. Poker. Bowling. The clearest example is the "World's Strongest Man" competition. They have the guys throwing beer kegs in the back of a truck, bending a bar over their heads, pulling a huge truck cab. Would anybody do these things sober? News - UK - Student launched from catapult died after missing safety net