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

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Inside Line: Home

Volvo's Overseas Delivery Program

I thought overseas delivery programs were dead. Volvo still has one, and it looks pretty nice -- if you are in the market for a Volvo. You get a discount on the car, a free trip to Sweden to pick it up, a factory tour and overall VIP treatment. You can expand your vacation to a European driving extravaganza.

I wonder when GM will adopt a similar program for Chevrolet Cobalt buyers. Just think of it, airfare to Lordstown Ohio, one night of deluxe accommodations there at the Comfort Inn, and options to extend your stay. Perhaps you could even visit Newton Falls.

Inside Line: Home

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Latest Reports - The Detroit News Online

UAW is Set to Vote on GM Healthcare Cut Proposal

I think it's going to pass. Under the circumstances, it's hardly draconian. Here's how it is described in this AP article carried by the Detroit News:

GM pays for health care for 750,000 U.S. hourly employees, retirees and their dependents. Under the proposed agreement, GM retirees would have to pay up to $752 annually for families and $370 for individuals for their health care. Right now, retirees pay no monthly premiums and pay a small fraction of the rest of their health care costs.

The agreement would exclude around 74,000 low-income retirees whose GM pension is $8,000 a year or less.

The agreement would require GM hourly workers to contribute $1 per hour in future pay increases to a new fund to help pay for retirees' coverage. GM would contribute $3 billion to that fund over the next six years. It also would require hourly workers and retirees to pay slightly more for their prescription drugs.

Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group have already said they will seek similar concessions from the UAW. The Big Three's combined health care costs are expected to top $11 billion this year, versus $10 billion in 2004.

Latest Reports - The Detroit News Online Top Worldwide

It's the Cars, Stupid: Part Two
Mazda Posts Record 2nd-Quarter Profit

Nearly universal praise has kept demand for the Mazda 3 compact at or ahead of supply all year. Top Worldwide

Goodyear expects union cooperation in '06 talks - 11/03/05

Goodyear Pressures Union for Cuts

Goodyear wants to use the steel industry as a model. The goal: lower pay, cut out retiree benefits completely. The carrot: increased profit-sharing and worker say in operations.

Goodyear expects union cooperation in '06 talks - 11/03/05 Top Worldwide

It's the Cars, Stupid: Part Three
Volkswagen Net Profit Triples

Revamped Golf and Passat models plus cost cuts have tripled profits at Volkswagen. (Keep in mind last year was awful, so tripling may call for polite applause rather than a standing ovation.) Top Worldwide

Demand for Solstice prompts third shift - 11/03/05

It's the Cars, Stupid: Part One
Demand Prompts 3rd Shift for Pontiac Solstice Plant

Demand for Solstice prompts third shift - 11/03/05

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Christian Slater's Roof Goof - Nov 01, 2005 - E! Online News

Christian Slater: I can fly I can fly! I can't!

Apparently Christian Slater has gotten so experienced at Jumping the Shark that he thinks he can fly. At least he thought he could fly. He fell off the roof of a house owned by Paris Hilton's neighbor.
This also goes to show that even though she's been domesticated somewhat, Paris Hilton can still throw a party.

Christian Slater's Roof Goof - Nov 01, 2005 - E! Online News

A rugged drive through Laos and Thailand in a Range Rover Sport

What is a Tak-Tak - and would you want to drive one? has a feature story by Alistair Weaver about driving a Range Rover from Laos to Thailand. On the way, the author encounters a form of transportation unique to Laos. Here's how he describes it:

The Tak-Tak features a simple internal combustion engine and can serve as transportation, a plough, a water pump or even as a generator. It's a one-stop shop for all your automotive needs, and it's brilliant.

Oh, he doesn't stop there, he includes a "restaurant" review:

We stop for refreshment in the market town of Ban Tha. With little or no meaningful refrigeration available, the local traders sell most of their food live. I'm offered an iguana with its legs tied together, and a bowl of frogs with wooden spikes piercing their limbs. Southeast Asia is not for the queasy.

A rugged drive through Laos and Thailand in a Range Rover Sport - Heads or Tails Service

Virtual Coin Flip Page
Let's say you have to settle a dispute. You don't have a coin to flip. Do you have to resort to pistols at 20 meters? Nope, just go to the Virtual Coin Flip page from There are lots of different coins to choose from. - Heads or Tails Service

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Where Will Zephyr Take You?

Win a Lincoln Zephyr or a Fancy Trip

Where Will Zephyr Take You?

SFGate: Lethal Beauty

The Bridge that Killed 1,218 People

With US combat deaths in Iraq at 2,000, it's interesting to note that a single bridge in the united states has killed 1,218 people. Actually, that's not the number of people killed on the bridge, that's the number of suicides of people jumping off of the famous Golden Gate Bridge.

One can assume that most of these folks suffer from some sort of clinical depression. Since most depressed folks don't live within jumping distance of the Golden Gate Bridge, we can only guess at the number of suicides caused by depression. I wonder how the government's funding of mental health programs compares to the budget for the Iraq war?

SFGate: Lethal Beauty

Inside Line: Long-Term Test: 2005 Ford GT - Introduction

What's it like to own a Ford GT?

Well, let me tell you about MY experience.

There, that was short.

If you really want to know, Edmunds has a Ford GT on a long-term test. I'm sure if you buy a Ford GT, you'll want to know about its real world fuel economy. It's 16 mpg in their initial test.

Inside Line: Long-Term Test: 2005 Ford GT - Introduction

Music Article |

Ron Isley: You can be a MILLIONAIRE and Never Pay Taxes

Per Steve Martin - how do you become a MILLIONAIRE and never pay taxes?

First - get a million dollars.

Then - when the tax man comes to your door and tells you you have made millions of dollars, and never paid taxes - what do you say?

"I forgot."

Music Article |

Buffett shows he's generous with pen and checkbook |

Bankruptcies Pre and Post BARF

According to the Indianapolis Star article linked below, bankruptcies filed in the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division -- for the two weeks before the October 17 effective date of the bankruptcy reform law: 9,897. For the two weeks after October 17, the figure was 19.

Buffett shows he's generous with pen and checkbook |