Friday, September 30, 2005 Music: Miracles:Happy Summer

William Hung Does the Beach Boys

Just when I wasn't looking, William Hung made another album. This time - summer classics. With William Hung, every 15 minutes of fame feels like an hour. Music: Miracles:Happy Summer


I was wr
I was wr
I was not exactly right about the Chevy HHR

Back in January, before the Chevy HHR was introduced, I said that the HHR would be a flop. That was before I, or anyone outside of GM, actually saw the thing. I was predicting that it would flop based on the narrow market and the fact that the PT cruiser is 500 pounds heavier than the Neon, so if the HHR was 500 pounds heavier than the Cobalt, it would come in at 3700 lbs., the weight of a full-size Buick LeSabre.

Well, since then, the car came out. It has a very nice interior. The weight was kept to about 3200-3300 lbs, about the same as the Malibu, so the HHR (especially with the optional 170 horse engine) has reasonable power. The HHR is a credible alternative to small SUVs.

Many people must think so, because Chevy announced today that they are trying to raise production to 120 units per year, about three times the initial estimate.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

All I want for Christmas

A $65,000 package of a full-size Indy Racing League simulator, +VIP Indy 500 package with 2-seater tour, yada yada . . .

Ok, I'll take the Elton John Concert and the Moller Skycar too.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Delphi seeks $6 billion in help from GM

It's Crunch Time for Delphi.
Delphi seeks $6 billion in help from GM

The Car Connection - China Steers Demand to Smaller Cars - Super-sizing may mean status, but the market?s going smaller.

Good News & Bad News on Energy Policy

The good news is that the country has an energy conservation policy.

The badnews is the country is China.

The Car Connection - China Steers Demand to Smaller Cars - Super-sizing may mean status, but the market?s going smaller.

Detroit automakers get needed muscle from crossover sales

Bright Spot for Detroit: Sales of crossovers are strong.

In particular, in my area, I've noticed quite a few new Chevy Equinoxes (Equinii?) on the road.

Detroit automakers get needed muscle from crossover sales

Inside Line: Comparison Test: 2006 Pontiac Solstice vs. 2006 Mazda MX-5 Miata - Introduction

Edmunds Compares 2006 Pontiac Solstice to 2006 Mazda MX-5 Miata

It doesn't happen very often, two brand new affordable roadster models introduced within a few months of each other.

I was originally going to quote Edmunds' verdict, but why spoil the fun? just click on the link.

Solstice v. MX-5

Toyota's West Virginia Engine Plant Wins Harbour Award For Most Productive Engine Plant

Toyota's Engine Plant wins Productivity Award: 1.88 hours to build an engine

"Sophisticated" engines with overhead cams & variable valve timing are more expensive to manufacture, right? Well, Toyota just issued a press release that its 4 cylinder engine plant in West Virginia won a productivity award, beating its own record for engine assembly time. For only the second time, an engine plant came in at under 2.0 hours. Toyota's 3.3 liter V-6 has a 3 hour assembly time.

Consider this: General Motors builds most of its midsize V-6 engines in China. Since General Motors has to co-ordinate the deliveries of parts half a world away, then ship the engine in long-distance transport container to the USA, is it really saving money over (properly managed) U.S. production?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The $100 Notebook Computer

The $100 Notebook Computer

It's a lot closer than you think. Maybe not for us though. Check out this link.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Baby's got bakkie

Baby's Got Bakkie

Well now that it's official U.S. policy to conserve energy (for the moment); maybe it's the time to introduce the USA to a class of vehicle that is popular in several areas but is not available here. I'm talking about bakkies. What's a bakkie? In the strictest sense, "bakkie" is the South African term for a pick-up truck, any pick-up truck, but internationally, bakkie is a car-based compact truck. Two major examples are the Fiesta-based Ford Bantam, and the Opal Corsa Utility. See the link for more on the Opel.

Current GM policy is to phase Opel models into the Saturn line-up. It would be interesting to see if the Opel Zafira MPV (which I wrote about a couple weeks ago) and the Corsa Utility could make their way to the USA.

Goodyear vs. Cooper

Goodyear vs. Cooper

Goodyear Tire, after a string of losses, just announced that it will be moving more tire production overseas. I'd like to take this opportunity to point out to Goodyear Shareholders that there is a mainstream tire company that makes quality tires, makes most of them in the United States, and as a general rule, delivers comparable tires to the customer at a lower price point than Goodyear. That's Cooper Tires. Oh, and Cooper has unionized plants and has generally been profitable. Goodyear Stockholders, what does this say about the quality of the management that you have in place?

Bush Urges Conservation - Sort of

Bush urges conservation - sort of

President Bush urged Americans to cut down on unnecessary trips to make up for oil shortages exacerbated by hurricanes Katrina & Rita. Well, now that we have that energy crisis solved, what next?

Giant Squid Photographed - live & wild

Nobody ever filmed or videoed a live giant squid - until now. This one left an 18 foot tentacle behind.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Actor Don Adams dead at 82 - TELEVISION -

Would you believe Don Adams is Dead?

Would you believe he was 82? or 81 or 79. The birth date is a matter of question.

Would you believe he was a veteran of Guadalcanal?

Actor Don Adams dead at 82 - TELEVISION -

A ride on the wild side - Insight on the News - World

Remember Osama?

A journalist travels through Pakistan with hopes of meeting Bin Laden. Short version: No Bin Laden meeting. The journalist paints the picture of a stalemate in the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

A ride on the wild side - Insight on the News - World

Friday, September 23, 2005

Got Sandwich? Experiment 625's Fanlisting

Red Cross Orders 200,000 sandwiches from Sub Shop for hurricane evacuees.

It's about time that somebody appreciates the unique skills of Experiment 625 - other than fan club members of course.

Huge Sub Order

Got Sandwich? Experiment 625's Fanlisting

Six Flags New Orleans - Post Katrina

Wanna Buy an Amusement Park Cheap?

Here's a satellite picture of Six Flags New Orleans amusement park, post-Katrina. The good news is that they have some new water rides.

Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana

Urban Homesteading OR Environmental Protection: Which should take precedence in Louisiana?

President Bush wants to give people free land as an incentive to move back to flooded Louisiana. He reminds me of the guy who lost a finger when he stuck it in the grate of a fan. When his brother asked him what happened: he showed him. "Damn, there goes another one."

My vote is for environmental protection. Below is a link to the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana.

Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana World's Ugliest Animals

The World's Ugliest Animals? World's Ugliest Animals

MERS halts Florida foreclosures

MERS Halts Florida Foreclosures

My link to the Florida case denying MERS status as real party in interest didn't make the transition. Here's a new link. MERS has decided to retrench & suspend all foreclosures in Florida.

Consumers and Consumer Advocates: you should consider this victory to be short-lived. When there's this much money at stake; the powers that be usually will follow a defeat like this with special interest legislation that cuts us off at the knees.

MERS halts Florida foreclosures -- White House Tapes Shed Light on JFK Space Race Legend

John F. Kennedy - "I'm not that interested in Space."

Tapes just released include a recording of a 1962 meeting between President Kennedy and James Webb, then-director of NASA, in which the President indicated that he had announced the plan to go to the moon because of the political value of beating the Soviets, and not because of a scientific interest in space. This tape seems to run counter to President Kennedy's image as a space visionary. -- White House Tapes Shed Light on JFK Space Race Legend

Thursday, September 22, 2005

GM - GMability Education 9-12: Fuel Cells & Energy - Sequel, the 2005 fuel cell concept vehicle

GM's Sequel - the Company Page

The Sequel looks like the most significant concept car that I've seen since GM's Hy-Wire, the Sequel's direct predecessor. The Hywire used a "skateboard" chassis, 11 inches high that could be used as the basis of many different types of vehicles. All major systems were electronic.

The Sequel follows in this transition, but it's fuel cell "stacks" provide 25% more power, and its hydrogen is stored under twice as much pressure. These refinements plus increased attention paid to mass production needs move the fuel cell car much much closer to practicality.

GM - GMability Education 9-12: Fuel Cells & Energy - Sequel, the 2005 fuel cell concept vehicle

.: Opel HydroGen3 and GM Sequel: The Future Has Begun - Opel/Vauxhall News :. Auto Spectator

GM shows off Fuel Cell Technology in Frankfort

Two vehicles: the Opel HydroGen3 and GM Sequel show a lot of promise and progress. The Sequel goes 0-62 in under 10 seconds and has a range of approximately 300 miles.

.: Opel HydroGen3 and GM Sequel: The Future Has Begun - Opel/Vauxhall News :. Auto Spectator Sports & Outdoors: Flybar Model 1200

For the Guy who has everything: a $300 pogo stick

The "Flybar Model 1200" may be expensive, but it handles riders up to 250 lbs, will send you 5 feet into the air, give you a good workout, and put a smile on your face (before you crash face first into concrete). Still, so far it's received a 4 1/2 star rating from 23 reviewers on Sports & Outdoors: Flybar Model 1200

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Technorati Search for:

Technorati Finds Hof's Blog

They found us in relation to comments on the MSNBC/Newsweek article earlier today.
Technorati Search for: " Search Tags Blogs Popular About Help "

Can new lineup of big SUVs revive GM? - 09/21/05

GM Unveils 2007 Full Size Sport-Utes

Speaking of new SUVs, GM took the wraps off its 2007 next-generation full-size sport utility vehicles. GM expects to sell 376,000 of these puppies per year. With SUV sales down 11% in the wake of higher gas prices, GM is touting increased fuel efficiency in the new models. The increase - one mpg. That ought to do it.

Can new lineup of big SUVs revive GM? - 09/21/05

MSN Money - Reuters Business News: Rita may be 'national disaster': oil CEO

Rita to hit hardest at the Pump?

Right now it looks like Hurricane Rita, a category 4 and counting storm, is aiming at the Texas Gulf Coast, and just about all the oil wells and refineries that were missed by Hurricane Katrina. Not the best time to be coming out with a new SUV.

MSN Money - Reuters Business News: Rita may be 'national disaster': oil CEO

Cash and 'Cat 5' Chaos - Newsweek Hurricane Katrina Coverage -

If the Trailer's this Bad - How Bad can the Movie be?

I'm looking at the MSNBC/Newsweek coverage "Cash and 'Cat 5' Chaos", which has an aerial view of a group of trailers that FEMA has brought in to house folks left homeless by Katrina. Apparently, the same people who think housing 20,000 people in the Astrodome is good short-term housing think that nuvo-ghettos of white travel trailers is good long term housing. Count me in the minority of white people who think that the housing alternatives would be far different if the proposed residents didn't have a majority of black people.

Cash and 'Cat 5' Chaos - Newsweek Hurricane Katrina Coverage -

The media are reporting these trailers as "mobile homes". No, that's not true. These are travel-trailers. These are the things you take if you want to rough it for a week. Most people don't live in these things as a principal residence.

A well-syndicated Washington Post article seriously at the trailer parks that FEMA installed in Florida after last year's hurricanes. The conclusion: these are ghettos in the making. Residents are segregated from society as a whole. They don't have ready access to social services, commerce or employment. At least in Florida many of the houses and neighborhoods destroyed may be rebuilt in months or a couple years at most. It will take at least a decade for New Orleans to get to its previous (if flawed) level of functioning. It is likely that many of the future residents will be newcomers rather than returnees.

The best thing the federal government can do is to provide vouchers for local housing and access to vacant government-owned housing. By spreading the evacuees over a large area, you improve the ability of the adopting communities to handle the newcomers as well as the newcomers' chance for successful re-establishment.

Independent Online Edition > Middle East : app3

$1 Billion Missing in Iraq

The Independent newspaper reported that $1 Billion of $1.2 Billion in aid that the U.S. gave to the new government in Iraq for the purpose of re-equipping their military is missing and is presumed to have been skimmed by corruption throughout the new regime and their arms suppliers.

The total missing from all ministries is estimated at $2 Billion. This exceeds the $1.8 Billion that Sadam Hussain allegedly received in kick-backs unde rthe UN's Oil for Food program. The Independent points out "The UN was pilloried for not stopping [the Oil-for-Food] corruption. The US military is likely to be criticised over the latest scandal because it was far better placed than the UN to monitor corruption."

Independent Online Edition > Middle East : app3

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Pinellas MERS case


A company called MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc.) has been increasingly active as the "nominee" for various mortgage lenders in mortgage foreclosure suits. Reports from consumer lawyers across the country suggest that MERS doesn't have a lot of information about the loan available when asked about the account history.

Consumer Lawyers are starting to challenge the standing of MERS to file foreclosure suits. They argue that MERS is not the "real party at interest"; that is, MERS doesn't own the loan, and therefore doesn't have standing to sue.

The case linked below is the first case that I've seen that has resulted in a MERS suit being thrown out based on MERS's lack of standing to foreclose.

New York Daily News - Home - Daily News Exclusive: 'Ugly' mom sues ABC for nixing makeover

From the Cases You'd be Crazy Not to Settle File:
"Ugly" Woman Sues Extreme Makeover for Extremely Doing Nothing

A woman sued ABC for not making her over after casting her in the Extreme Makeover show. The woman's sister committed suicide after trashing the would-be contestant's pre-op looks on camera only to find out that her "ugly" sister would never get the new look she was expecting.

New York Daily News - Home - Daily News Exclusive: 'Ugly' mom sues ABC for nixing makeover

Monday, September 19, 2005

More UAW workers bankrupt - 09/18/05

Detroit News: Bankruptcies are up for auto workers.

The Detroit News paints an increase in bankruptcy as caused largely by decreasing overtime combined with a failure to cut lavish lifestyles. The analysis seems superficial though. The article states:

The Detroit News reviewed 88 Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases filed by UAW Legal Services in the past six months. Of those, 23 were active autoworkers who didn't appear to have catastrophic medical bills based on the creditors listed.

Ok, twenty-three of eighty-eight were active autoworkers without major medical creditors. What about the other sixty-five? An analysis of bankruptcy filings that draws conclusions based on a fourth of the sample is not really persuasive.

More UAW workers bankrupt - 09/18/05

MSNBC - How Bush Blew It

Newsweek - How Bush Blew it (on Katrina)
Rumsfeld said don't send in the army
Rove is in Charge

Check out last week's Newsweek before it's unavailable. Here's why George W. was clueless regarding the Hurricane Katrina's potential for catastrophe:

The reality, say several aides who did not wish to be quoted because it might displease the president, did not really sink in until Thursday night. Some White House staffers were watching the evening news and thought the president needed to see the horrific reports coming out of New Orleans. Counselor Bartlett made up a DVD of the newscasts so Bush could see them in their entirety as he flew down to the Gulf Coast the next morning on Air Force One.

How this could be—how the president of the United States could have even less "situational awareness," as they say in the military, than the average American about the worst natural disaster in a century—is one of the more perplexing and troubling chapters in a story that, despite moments of heroism and acts of great generosity, ranks as a national disgrace.

President George W. Bush has always trusted his gut. He prides himself in ignoring the distracting chatter, the caterwauling of the media elites, the Washington political buzz machine. He has boasted that he doesn't read the papers. His doggedness is often admirable. It is easy for presidents to overreact to the noise around them.

But it is not clear what President Bush does read or watch, aside from the occasional biography and an hour or two of ESPN here and there. Bush can be petulant about dissent; he equates disagreement with disloyalty. After five years in office, he is surrounded largely by people who agree with him. Bush can ask tough questions, but it's mostly a one-way street. Most presidents keep a devil's advocate around. Lyndon Johnson had George Ball on Vietnam; President Ronald Reagan and Bush's father, George H.W. Bush, grudgingly listened to the arguments of Budget Director Richard Darman, who told them what they didn't wish to hear: that they would have to raise taxes. When Hurricane Katrina struck, it appears there was no one to tell President Bush the plain truth: that the state and local governments had been overwhelmed, that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was not up to the job and that the military, the only institution with the resources to cope, couldn't act without a declaration from the president overriding all other authority.

So once George sees the video - he convenes his cabinet and Donald Rumsfeld talks him out of sending in the troops. [Shouldn't this guy have been fired for that little mistake in Iraq?]

Bush and his advisers in his "war cabinet" have always been action-oriented, "forward leaning," in the favorite phrase of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. They dislike lawyers and sometimes brush aside legalistic (and even sound constitutional) arguments. But this time "Rummy" opposed sending in active-duty troops as cops. Dick Cheney, who was vacationing in Wyoming when the storm hit, characteristically kept his counsel on videoconferences; his private advice is not known.

MSNBC - How Bush Blew It

Later in the week it came out that Carl Rove is in charge of the Katrina response in the White House. I suppose that it's appropriate that "Bush's Brain" does the thinking from this point on. In his big speech, the President announced that they would build up New Orleans like the Six Million (Make that 100 Billion) Dollar Man, better than it was, bigger stronger, faster. No mention of the fact that the ground is sinking, and the ocean is eating away at Southern Louisiana at a fairly rapid rate. For this, the President is getting justifiable criticism from the right and the left.

I am shocked to find that I agree with the sentiments of George Will, expressed on ABC's This Week program on Sunday. I couldn't find his quote, but essentially he said that The evacuation of New Orleans has already occurred, it is proper that many of the people that left New Orleans (and the gulf coast) resettle elsewhere. It is foolish to create subsidies to get them to return. He said (and I agree) that there is no entitlement to live in New Orleans.

Battle of New Orleans - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

What do Andrew Jackson and George W. Bush have in common?

Besides being the worst presidents in American history (Jackson: Indian Removal Act, Bush:Iraq & counting), each fought a battle of New Orleans. Both battles were fought AFTER THE WAR WAS OVER.

The treaty ending the War of 1812 was signed before the Battle of New Orleans was fought.

Now George Bush wants to spend our grandchildren's money subsidizing the reconstruction of a city that shouldn't be rebuilt in anything close to its previous form.

Battle of New Orleans - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Shaking Up Trade Theory

Free Trade & Globalism are Good, Right?

That's what the economists always told us. Now that white-collar jobs are going off shore, the economists aren't so sure. [Could it be that Chinese economists are starting to make headway in the market place? How about Indian Economists?]

Leamer and other trade experts say the resulting price competition from rising stars such as China and India could overpower any economywide gains companies get from global sourcing. They point to a famous 1968 paper by, of all people, Bhagwati, who argued that a country can be made worse off if trade lowers the price of products in which it has a comparative advantage. Bhagwati called it the "immiserating" effects of trade. In discussing the idea with BusinessWeek, Leamer wrote a short proof showing how a downward spiral of lower labor costs leads to lower export prices, causing immiseration. Even Bhagwati concedes that his insight could apply to the U.S. today, though he thinks the chances are slim that it will. "Bhagwati showed back then that a country can grow and get poorer, which might be this story, though I doubt it," says Hufbauer.

Shaking Up Trade Theory

? Bill: Give us the new Office 12 interface now | Between the Lines |

The Next Generation of Microsoft Office

We use Microsoft Office every day. At a trade show, Bill Gates previewed user interface tweaks that will be at the core of the next generation of Microsoft Office, due out in late 2006. My first impression from the screenshots available at No big whoop. Nothing that I see will make any difference in my everyday work life.

? Bill: Give us the new Office 12 interface now Between the Lines


SBC Blinked
Unconscionability Challenge to DSL Early Termination Fee Results in $200 Refund

I personally have SBC Yahoo DSL at home, and actually, it's not a bad product, but SBC's attitude toward its customers sometimes reflects its monopolistic past. To get a good rate on the DSL you have to agree to a year's service. To get the best rate, you must carry a lot of extra services in addition to your basic local phone service. But that's not what I'm writing about, I'm writing about the early termination fee.

A client called and said that she moved with a month left to go on her DSL contract. She was moving to an area where SBC did not carry the DSL. She offered to pay the last month in advance. SBC said no, and hit her account with a $200 early termination fee. (Her last month's DSL bill was going to be $29.95 plus tax.)

Like always, my first step in contacting SBC is to try to get an address to send a written complaint. SBC consciously avoids publishing a written complaint address. By forcing you to use telephone complaints, reconstructing a dispute is reduced to a he said - she said argument regarding telephone conversations. In my experience, SBC's handlers only retain information favorable to them, anything unfavorable tends to vanish.

I sent a written dispute to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission arguing that SBC's early termination charge was void as a penalty under common law. (Liquidated damages clauses are only enforced if the actual damages can't be determined and if the liquidated damage amount is not disproportionate to the actual loss.) As a secondary argument, I argued that SBC failed to mitigate its damages by accepting the amount that the client tendered (which would have amounted to full performance of the contract.) I still haven't heard back from the Utility Regulatory Commission, but SBC blinked and they credited my client her $200.00.

If you get an SBC (or other carrier) early termination fee case, I suggest that you get the client to offer the total amount remaining on the contract. If the carrier refuses, your argument that the early termination fee is a penalty is pretty strong, and you should be able to press it forward to a successful conclusion. If the client is in collection, use the "void as penalty" argument in your dispute with the bill collector. Make sure the disputed status of the account is reflected on the credit report. If they foolishly keep it as a undisputed debt on the credit report, consider making the credit report case the focus of your efforts.

While you are at it, levy a complaint against SBC (or whomever) for failing to publish a billing dispute address. The Fair Credit Billing Act requires this, but the telephone carriers claim that the Fair Credit Billing Act is not applicable to them.

(By the way, my client authorized me to summarize an account of her dispute in hopes that it would help other people who find themselves in a similar position.)

Northwest and Delta Are Said to Be Preparing for Bankruptcy - New York Times

National Be Kind To Bankruptcy Court Employees Day
Delta and Northwest to file Chap. 11 in Same Court Tomorrow?

According to the New York Times, both Northwest and Delta Airlines may file bankruptcy as soon as tomorrow. That will make 4 of the top 7 carriers operating under bankruptcy protection. Since Detroit is a Northwest hub, GM & Ford can't be too pleased about this.

As to Delta - Jay Leno chronicled Delta's decline years ago. It was reflected in their slogans

First it was "Delta: The airline run by professionals." Then it was: Delta; we love to fly, and it shows." Finally it was "Delta: we get you there." As Jay said - "Shut up, sit down. Stop complaining - we got you there didn't we?"

Northwest and Delta Are Said to Be Preparing for Bankruptcy - New York Times

Ford, Visteon reach agreements on transfer deal - 09/13/05

Ford & Visteon Deal
Ford Sells Hertz
Ford & CAW Settle

HerThe people at Ford have been busy beavers lately. The article linked below discusses a deal with Visteon that transfers control of 17 plants back to Ford. Ford will assume responsibility for about 5000 salaried employees and 18,000 hourly employees.

In other news, Ford sold Hertz to an investment group for $5.5 Billion. It's not clear whether that move, by itself, would be enough to raise Ford's debt to investment grade.

In still OTHER news, Ford has settled its contract with the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW). The workers get a modest boost in pay. Ford gets to close two facilities and in the process will lay off approximately $1,100 CAW employees.

Ford, Visteon reach agreements on transfer deal - 09/13/05

Monday, September 12, 2005 Vehicle details - Movie Cars Get Their Due

You've probably already encountered (the Internet Movie Data Base) a relational data base that keeps track of everything and everybody associated with movies -- everything except cars that is, and this site,, attempts to rectify that oversight. Vehicle details

Friday, September 09, 2005

Michael Jackson's Katrina Song

Michael Jackson to write a song for Hurricane Katrina Victims

Michael said that there was good news and bad news coming out of the hurricane.

The bad news is that there are a lot of homeless children.

The good news is that there are a lot of homeless children.

Michael Jackson's Katrina Song

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Making Light: What we did on our vacation

Why didn't they just Walk out of New Orleans?

I wondered why people waited for days without food & water at the Convention Center and Superdome, when obviously, since some buses and vehicles got through, you could just walk out, right?

Wrong -- the "bridge of death" was guarded by evil guards worse than "Tim the Enchanter" - the Gretna Sheriffs. Here's a passage from a narrative linked below from some stranded vacationers who tried to cross over on foot.

We walked to the police command center at Harrah’s on Canal Street and were told the same thing, that we were on our own, and no they did not have water to give us. We now numbered several hundred. We held a mass meeting to decide a course of action. We agreed to camp outside the police command post. We would be plainly visible to the media and would constitute a highly visible embarrassment to the city officials. The police told us that we could not stay. Regardless, we began to settle in and set up camp. In short order, the police commander came across the street to address our group. He told us he had a solution: we should walk to the Pontchartrain Expressway and cross the greater New Orleans Bridge where the police had buses lined up to take us out of the city. The crowed cheered and began to move. We called everyone back and explained to the commander that there had been lots of misinformation and wrong information and was he sure that there were buses waiting for us. The commander turned to the crowd and stated emphatically, “I swear to you that the buses are there.”

We organized ourselves and the 200 of us set off for the bridge with great excitement and hope. As we marched pasted the convention center, many locals saw our determined and optimistic group and asked where we were headed. We told them about the great news. Families immediately grabbed their few belongings and quickly our numbers doubled and then doubled again. Babies in strollers now joined us, people using crutches, elderly clasping walkers and others people in wheelchairs. We marched the 2-3 miles to the freeway and up the steep incline to the Bridge. It now began to pour down rain, but it did not dampen our enthusiasm.

. . .

As we approached the bridge, armed Gretna sheriffs formed a line across the foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak, they began firing their weapons over our heads. This sent the crowd fleeing in various directions. As the crowd scattered and dissipated, a few of us inched forward and managed to engage some of the sheriffs in conversation. We told them of our conversation with the police commander and of the commander’s assurances. The sheriffs informed us there were no buses waiting. The commander had lied to us to get us to move.

We questioned why we couldn’t cross the bridge anyway, especially as there was little traffic on the six-lane highway. They responded that the West Bank was not going to become New Orleans and there would be no Superdomes in their city. These were code words for if you are poor and black, you are not crossing the Mississippi River and you were not getting out of New Orleans.

Making Light: What we did on our vacation

Indianapolis Evan Bayh/All America Committee Meetup Group -

Evan Bayh All America Committee Update

Last month, I checked on the membership of the Evan Bayh (for President) All America Committee. I reported that they were able to hold on to a constant membership base, with two members. Well folks, the groundswell has begun. The group has doubled in size and now has a total of 4 members. Way to go!

Indianapolis Evan Bayh/All America Committee Meetup Group -



Draining New Orleans taints lake -

Pontchartrain the Punching Bag

While news today focuses on the contamination of the waters flooding New Orleans, other stories focus on the fact that now the water is being pumped untreated in large quantities into Lake Pontchartrain. The article linked below is the only one that I've seen that calls into question this policy.

I don't see why they can't at least set up straw bale filters at the output or float absorbent pads on the top of the water. I worked at an oil refinery 25 years ago. When there was a spill into a creek, within 24 hours we at least had these remedial measures in place. The emergency measures cleaned up about 90% of the pollution. The last 10% was a bitch, and much of it was (unfortunately) left to mother nature to remediate.

Draining New Orleans taints lake - "Pontchartrain"

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

BMW joins GM, DaimlerChrysler to develop hybrid engines - 09/07/05

The Procrastinators' Club Gets another Member: BMW to Join DC/GM Hybrid Project

You know what they say, if you have to come late to a party, it's better not to come alone.

BMW joins GM, DaimlerChrysler to develop hybrid engines - 09/07/05

The Dambusters

The Dam Busters - Perspectives in the Wake of Katrina

I was trying to think of other floods that took out an industrialized city. One thing I thought of was the Dam Busters mission - March 1943. In 1943 the Royal Air Force mounted a daring mission to breach the dams over the Ruhr river in Germany. The goal was to flood out the industrial heartland of Germany. The raid was partially successful, 1200 people were killed outright, and 20,000 workers were diverted to repairing damage cause by the raid. If the raid had been completely successful, damage in the Ruhr would have been the wartime equivalent to hurricane Katrina. As it would turn out, in the months to come most German cities faced destruction at least as great as that doled out by Katrina, most notably the firebombing of Dresden.

The Dambusters

Bob Denver

William Rehnquist and Bob Denver

My buddy "V-man" sent me a message, I'm reprinting below


How come you haven't mentioned anything about the passing of Justice Rehnquist and Bob Denver?

Do you know what's the difference between William Rehnquist and Bob Denver?

One was the bumbling star of a screwball ensemble comedy.

The other played Gilligan.

Bob Denver -- starred in 'Gilligan's Island' | 09/07/2005 | Apple unveils ultra-thin iPod and iTunes cell phone

The Big Apple Announcement

To no one's surprise, Steve Jobs announced today at a press conference that Motorola was going to market an iTunes phone. He also introduced the successor to the iPod Mini, the iPod Nano. Unlike the iPod Shuffle, it has a full screen and wheel-type selector, and it is as thin as a pencil. Too bad Robin Williams didn't announce it, they could have called it the iPod "Nano Nano". 09/07/2005 Apple unveils ultra-thin iPod and iTunes cell phone

Kia considers Mississippi

Kia Likely to Build US Plant - Considering Mississippi
I can just imagine the telephone call with the economic development director. "Sorry sir, we have no suitable sites -- wait a minute some land just became available. Ohhh - ocean view."

Kia considers Mississippi

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Katrina could prompt new black "great migration" - Yahoo! News

Will Hurricane Katrina cause another "Great Migration"?

As UAW-LSP lawyers, everyday most of us have conttact with someone who was the product of the "great migration". From the 1930s to the 1950s, a large number of people from the south, especially blacks and poor whites, went north looking for employment in the industrial factories. (Actually there were two migrations, a general migration north, and a "dust bowl" migration, frequently ending in California.) The northward migration can be seen in the development of blues music; first as Delta Blues, then Memphis Blues, Chicago Blues and then Detroit R&B. In the years since, with the spread of air conditioning, there has actually been a greater migration south, but the southbound migration has been more gradual.

Because many of the employers of Katrina victims were wiped out, the resettled displaced persons may become permanent residents of their new communities. As this article mentions, from a societal point of view, we need to make sure that we don't sow the seeds of new ghettos.

Katrina could prompt new black "great migration" - Yahoo! News

Killed by Contempt - New York Times

Did Cronyism kill in New Orleans?

Linked below is an editorial by Paul Krugman of the New York Times. Mr. Krugman argues that the poor response by FEMA to the perils of Hurricane Katrina was caused at least in part by the appointment of top FEMA officials based on political ties to the President rather than experience or background in crisis management and disaster preparation. It's quite persuasive in my opinion.

Killed by Contempt - New York Times

Google News

Bob's Solar House

What does it take to make your house the paragon of solararity? (I made up the word "solararity".) A guy named Bob set out to find out and writes a blog about it.

Google News

The Car Connection - 2006 Honda Civics - A quartet aimed at nothing short of domination.

Information on the 2006 Honda Civic Line article linked below provides infromation on the new-generation Honda Civics soon to hit the dealerships. Overall, the cars provide more power and better fuel economy. They lose some rear seat room. About an inch in the 4-door, but over 5 inches in the coupe. The hybrid becomes a "full hybrid" and provides near-prius level mpg.

The Car Connection - 2006 Honda Civics - A quartet aimed at nothing short of domination.

3M Canada | 3M Scotch? Duct Tape | Duct Tape Workshop

More Fun with Duct Tape - Make a Duct Tape wallet

If you have more time on your hands than I do, feel free to try this at home.

3M Canada 3M Scotch? Duct Tape Duct Tape Workshop

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Vodkapundit - Category Five

What George Knew & When He Knew it

Here's a blog post from 8/28. This is the day after the evacuation order and the day before Katrina hit New Orleans in force. It describes winds of 175 mph, and earlier published predictions of what would happen if a strong hurricane hit New Orleans. The predictions are pretty much dead on. You mean that there wasn't a thought of getting the Navy alerted for possible deployment at that point?

Vodkapundit - Category Five

Friday, September 02, 2005

Fisher P-75A Eagle

GM's Attempt at Aircraft Design: the Fisher P-75 Eagle

Honda's not the only automaker that can design aircraft. Here's a link to a picture and brief information on General Motor's design for a fighter aircraft in World War II, the Fisher P-75 Eagle. This plane has been called one of the 10 Worst Aircraft in Aviation History. It was designed using the parts of several existing aircraft, and it even looks like something Frankenstein would fly.

Some have said that GM made the aircraft bad on purpose. It didn't want to have key plants tied down to military production to the point that they'd miss the expected post-war auto boom.

As it turned out, General Motors actually turned out some pretty decent aircraft in World War II and in large quantities. GM built under license the Grumman TBF Avenger and F4F Wildcat types for the navy. Built in GM's Eastern Aircraft facility (recently closed) they were designated the TBM and the FM respectively.

Fisher P-75A Eagle

Wichita Eagle | 07/31/2005 | Honda's experimental jet impresses Oshkosh crowd

Honda Business Jet Goes Public

Two years ago, I gave some sketchy information about the Honda Business Jet. The HBJ was officially made public at the EAA show in Oshkosh Wisconsin last week. The article below gives some info.

Wichita Eagle | 07/31/2005 | Honda's experimental jet impresses Oshkosh crowd

Conservation? It's Such a 70's Idea - New York Times

Reduce Demand in the Wake of Fuel Shortages? What a Concept?

Conservation? It's Such a 70's Idea - New York Times

Astrodome too full to accept more evacuees - Hurricane Katrina -

No Room at the Inn - The Astrodome is full at 11,000

Yesterday, FEMA was planning on putting 25,000 refugees from New Orleans into the Houston Astrodome. Today the Fire Marshall declared the building full at just over 11,000.

You might recall that I said yesterday that this plan is idiotic. You can't stick even 11,000 in a sports arena for any given time without having chaos. They need to set up a parallel processing system and give the people money and vouchers. Most of them will find their own shelter using a fraction of the resources that have already been allocated to relief. Those that can't find shelter can be provided for in a more in managable numbers in red cross shelters spread out across the region and country.

As I said before 1,000 volunteer travel agents can get the people dispersed within 24 hours of their arrival at transfer sites. The more people that are stuck at a single site, the more difficult it will be for the assimillation process to take care of them.

Local and National Homeland Security officials have erred repeatedly in trying to establish a top-down structure on a disaster that they can't even keep up with. They need to empower the victims and the people on the scene. Until they do so, the misery will continue.

Astrodome too full to accept more evacuees - Hurricane Katrina -

Helicopters mothballed in Arizona dusted off to help with shortage

Where is the V-22 Osprey?

There's no question that more large helicopters would be useful in combating the chaos caused by Hurricane Katrina. The article linked below explains that the United States Marine Corps is down to 150 heavy-lift MH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters (like the Marine One presidential copter), and the Corps has resorted to reconditioning copters that have been in "mothballs" for a decade or more. The Marines have not procured any new heavy helicopters in years, in large part due to funds allocated to the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor program. It's hard to know how much money the Pentagon has put into the Osprey over the past 20 years. I've seen estimates from $13 Billion to $60 Billion, with a projected program cost of $100 Billion.

Think of the moral boost if a groop of Ospreys, or even MH-53s swooped down at the New Orleans Convention Center and dropped off a whopping load of food water and porto-lets.

Even though the V-22 Osprey made its first flight in 1989, the plane is not fully operational. An assessment made in 2001 stated that only 1 in 5 deployed V-22 aircraft were fully servicable. The plane has been grounded repeatedly due to crashes, and there is currently an ongoing fraud trial regarding a component supplier.

The V-22 has a lot of potential, but eventually potential isn't good enough.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Delphi's troubles may cost GM - 08/31/05

A Delphi Bankruptcy Could Cost GM $9 Billion
According to the Detroit News:

The United Auto Workers recently sent a letter to GM that detailed what the union believes are the automaker's obligations to Delphi workers if the parts supplier files for bankruptcy. One analyst said the obligations could total $9 billion.

In the letter, obtained by The Detroit News, the UAW says GM has the responsibility to protect Delphi workers' pensions, retiree health care benefits and post-retirement life insurance under a 1999 agreement that created the Troy-based auto supplier from a collection of GM parts plants.

Such benefits are all guaranteed by GM in the event of "financial distress" at Delphi on or before Oct. 18, 2007, according to the letter.

The agreement was established to ensure that Delphi's hourly workers had ironclad backing from the world's largest automaker if Delphi had financial troubles. And it is taking on special significance now that Delphi is threatening a bankruptcy filing by this fall if it does not receive significant givebacks from the UAW.

New bankruptcy law a problem for Katrina victims - Sep. 1, 2005

New Bankruptcy Law Will Kick Katrina Survivors When They're Down.

Katrina's coming. You run out of your house with your bills barely paid, $100 and a credit card in your pocket, pack the family up and head north to any place dry. In a Motel 6 in Tennessee, you realize that your home and everything in it have been destroyed - your other car too. You don't have a job anymore because the place where you worked was destroyed and there's no job to go to. What do you do? You can't even file bankruptcy in your home district because the bankruptcy court is underwater, you can't get to a lawyer, and you aren't there. Moreover, things are bound to get worse before they get better. So you wait. Suddenly it's October 18. You can't file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Your (documented) income is higher than national average - before you file bankruptcy they want you to go through credit counseling - without a permanent address or job - and they want you to make payments to your creditors for 7 years on a house and car that you no longer have. That's what they call bankruptcy "reform" in 2005.

New bankruptcy law a problem for Katrina victims - Sep. 1, 2005

Ruined vehicles, fuel costs add volatility to auto industry

Katrina Ruined Vehicles & Dealerships - Affect National Markets?

With perhaps a million vehicles ruined by floods, and 80 dealerships K-0ed in New Orleans alone, we can expect flooddamaged vehicles to find their way across the country, often with laundered titles.

Ruined vehicles, fuel costs add volatility to auto industry