Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Happy Appalachian Hospital Day
Youtube.com videos of the day

As a CI attorney, on the day after Memorial Day, I spend most of my time talking to clients about the stupid situations they got themselves into over the holidays. You know "Look what I can do!"-type stuff. Last year, I gave the day after Memorial Day the name "Appalachian Hospital Day" in honor of the SNL skits of the same name. In that spirit, I post a link to the youtube.com video(s) of the day, all involving trampoline accidents.

Trampoline accidents


Fantazyland: The World's Worst Theme Park

Just to get you ready for vacation season, I'm posting a link to pictures of Fantazyland in Cairo, Egypt. "Dubaidave" posted these pictures to themeparkreview.com. These pictures make post-Katrina SFNO (Six Flags New Orleans) look good.

Pontiac wants to go RWD?

Pontiac now wants to specialize in rear-wheel-drive cars. The catch? There are hardly any RWD Pontiac cars. There's the Solstice and - uh, that's it. They used to have the GTO, but they killed it. Pontiac might get a version of whatever is going to replace the Camaro. There may be a new large RWD platform to build on. All the other product development money has been committed for the forseeable future. Go RWD? Might as well specialize in flying cars while you're at it.

Pontiac to go RWD or RIP?

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day Book Review
Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway, by Jonathan Parshall and Anthony Tulley

I'm going to diverge from the automotive and economic focus of this blog to thank and honor our servicemembers, past and present, for their sacrifices. The past year has seen the release of two new books about the Battle of Midway, the June 1942 turning point of the Pacific Theater in World War II. I've read both of these books, and found them both worthy reading. The Parshall & Tulley book, in particular is a standout, so I'll go over it first.

Shattered Sword is a thorough examination of the Battle of Midway from the Japanese perspective. Even though this book is primary author Parshall's first full-length book, it stands beside John Lundstrom's: The First Team: Pacific Naval Air Combat from Pearl Harbor to Midway, to bookend all modern treatments on the subject. Whereas Lundstrom's book focuses on the American aviators who fought the first six months of the Pacific War, Parshall's book focuses on here-to-fore unexamined Japanese source material. With this material in hand, Parshall has the amunition to unwisen conventional wisdom concerning the battle. Although the title is Shattered Sword, actually myths are what this book shatters.

The first shattered myth is that the American forces were overmatched by the Japanese. By examining Japanese records, Parshall determined that several of the Japanese carriers were sailing with incomplete compements of aircraft. Since each American carrier carried more planes than a Japanese carrier, there was not a big difference in carrier aircraft. When American shore-based planes from Midway are counted, the Americans had the advantage. He also shatters the myth that Miday atoll would have been defenseless hd the Americans lost the naval battle. Pashall goes over the Midway defenses and suggests that the Marine garrison could have repelled the Japanese invasion. The Midway defenders were dug in with heavy weapons and even a few tanks. They roughly matched the number of Japanese invasion troops. There are other tidbits for the true WWII wonk, including technical details on the Japanese carriers. Did you know that first Japanese carriers were originally built with three flight decks?

Here are links to the shatteredsword.com website. The Amazon Webpage for the book and Pashall's main website, combinedfleet.com. The combinedfleet.com site has information on virtually every Japanese Navy ship.

Shattered Sword

Shattered Sword Amazon

Combined Fleet

Friday, May 26, 2006

Youtube Clip of the Week: Shatner Sings

This is a clip from a Sci Fi Convention in 1978. William Shatner Sings Elton John's Rocketman. He's in a trio with William Shatner and William Shatner.


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Good New Comes in 3s For General Motors

Good News Comes in 3s for General Motors
Fewer Employees - Higher Stock - New Hybrid

After what seemed like unrelenting bad news, GM has received some good news and good press lately.

First, GM's restructuring plan is ahead of schedule, with about 30,000 employees so far electing to take the early retirement buyout.

Second, Wall Street took the buyout information as a positive sign, and GM stock has rallied to about $26.50. It started the year under $19.00.

Third, GM released availability information about the Saturn Vue Greenline SUV. The Greenline is a so-called "mild" hybrid that relies on a belt-starter-alternator to allow the car to shut down the vehicle while stopped at a redlight. This system has the advantage of easy integration into existing vehicle designs, and without large battery packs, it is much cheaper than the systems used by Toyota and Honda. As a trade-off, it does not result in as much of a fuel efficiency gain. Still, the Greenline Vue's projected EPA MPG ratings are 27 city and 32 highway. That's in the same ballpark as the more expensive Toyota Highlander hybrid. The Vue Greenline is slated for availability "later this summer" at a starting price of $22,995, about $4,000 less than the Highlander.

This same powertrain is slated to become available in the Chevrolet Malibu and the Saturn Aura, but there have been no release dates set for the release of these models. At about 3200 lbs, the Vue weighs about the same as the Chevrolet Malibu, but it is not as aerodynamic. I would expect that a hybrid Malibu would deliver about 30/35 MPG.

Good news for GM

2007 Saturn Vue Greenline

Sunday, May 21, 2006

SUV Pancake

"REAL" Truck vs. SUV
Truck 1 : SUV 0

Here's the youtube.com video of the day. Giant Dump truck vs. Land Rover.

Bye Bye Rover

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Googleteer(tm) weighs in on the Milberg Weiss Affair

In the limited contact that I've had with the Milberg Weiss law firm, I haven't been impressed. I wasn't surprised at all that the firm got into trouble for allegedly giving kickbacks to class representatives. I've been a member of NACA, the National Association of Consumer Advocates, for almost a decade now. NACA's class action guidelines proscribe a number of ethical dos & don'ts. Milberg Weiss, seems to violate the guidelines on a routine basis. NACA is against coupon settlements. Milberg Weiss? Not so much.

The Sultan of Search himself, the Googleteer(tm), flew into the window and performed the following search

"milberg weiss" "coupon settlement"

and came up with 510 hits.
GM to Offer 19 New Engines and Transmissions Next Year
Or Not?

GM has issued a press release that it will offer 19 new engines and transmissions in 2007. The tenor of the announcement seemed to suggest that GM is catching up in the engine race, and will be debuting new engines and up-to-date engines across its product lines. As I read further, there are hints indicating that such is not the case.

It appears that more engines will become E85 capable (more of a re-engineering of the plumbing than the engine). General Motors will introduce its delayed integrated starter-alternator system (a very mild hybrid system that mostly just shuts off the engine at idle) on the Saturn Vue Greenline. GM will expand its cylinder deactivation ("active fuel management in GM-speak) offerings. GM will introduce its 6-speed automatic transmisson. None of this is new news. Most of this technology was expected to be introduced by the 2006 model year, so the 2007 introduction is nothing to brag about.

The one truly new item I found only in the Autoblog post published below. According to Autoblog, in 2008, not 2007, GM will come out with a version of its high-feature 3.6 liter V6 with direct injection and a more sophisticated variable valve timing setup. This appears to be a direct response to Toyota's 2GR-FSE 3.5 liter direct-injected engine which puts out 306 horsepower and still bests its less-powerful GM (and other) competitors in fuel economy. While this is a welcome announcement, when it comes to GM engines, an announced date of 2008 really means 2009. By 2009, I mean 2009 for the first car to use the engine, for it to be widely used, it really means 2014. Who knows what Toyota will have by then.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Heather Mills McCartney - Let the Dishing Begin

The celebrity gossip folks are really starting to dish out the dirt on Heather Mills McCartney. See the story linked below. Some are suggesting that her holier-than-though charitable efforts such as the effort to save baby seals were not all they were cracked up to be. As it turns out, she wanted to save baby seals "so they would become nice juicy adults."

Mills link etc.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Spyshots of the 2007 Dodge Stratus and Avenger, Chrysler Sebring

Allpar.com has spyshots and information on the new midsized entries to slot below the 300 series and Dodge Charger.

Stratus Sebring Avenger

Honda Plans Another US Plant

Honda Plans Another US Plant
Plant will Add Capacity for another 150,000 Cars

It would be nice if GM or Ford could sell Honda one of their idled facilities. Unfortunately, there are no incentives sufficient to keep an expanding automaker from preferring a "green field" site over a "brown field" site. For that matter, the US Supreme Court gave its stamp of approval to bidding wars between states for new facilities. Hello Congress?

Monday, May 15, 2006

The Latest on GM's Cash Flow
$21 Billion - $21 billion = 0

Ray Wert from www.thetruthaboutcars.com writes about GM's cash flow woes. Here's how he assesses GM's cash situation after its quarterly statement from the first quarter of 2006:

Still, that leaves GM $21b and change to work with, right? Subtract $8b in operating expenses for the revolving fund (so they can continue to build cars), deduct $5.5 to $10b for the Delphi thing, remove $2b to $3b for debt payments (which look to be spiraling upwards after the Fed Reserve Board announced the up-tick in rates this week), take away $3b for the early retirements package, leave off the $3b - $4b in overseas funds (which GM canÂ?t bring over without tax repercussions) and youÂ?ve got just enough money to pay forÂ? wellÂ? nothing.

You know it's bad when they start serving ricochet biscuits in the company cafeteria.

GM's Cash Problem

Friday, May 12, 2006

Holy racing El Caminos Batman!
The Australian V8 Ute Series

The El Camino never died, it just moved to Australia and became the Holden Commodore Ute. Similarly, the Ford Ranchero still lives as the Ford Falcon Ute. These rivals slug it out in the V8 Ute racing series. I'm not much into stock car racing, but based on the streaming video on the website, these drivers really know how to swap paint.


Thursday, May 11, 2006

Where in the World is Brewster Jennings?
Prove that Valarie Plame ain't got nutin' on you

Brewster Jennings is the name of the CIA front company that outed CIA agent Valarie Plame worked for. Some enterprising individual appropriated the Brewster Jennings name for an online game inspired by Where in the World is Carmen San Diego. It's called Brewster Jennings Protects America, and it is linked below.

Brewster Jennings Protects America: The Google Map Hunt Game

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

General Motors Changes 1st Quarter from Loss to Profit

As I previously reported to you, General Motors reported a $323 Million Loss for the first quarter of 2006. Not anymore. GM revised its previous statement and is now reporting a $445 million profit for the same period. What accounts for the change? GM is spreading out the accounting impact of the money that it set aside (or is setting aside) for future retiree health care. Although there isn't a corresponding cash impact on GM's books, a profit is better than a loss.

(Note: Blogger has been acting up lately and has been crashing when I attempt to put in weblinks. Posts may come less frequently until this problem is sorted out.)

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Hippie Joe for Congress

Will Indiana's Next Congressman be a Neo-Nazi Arsonist?
Hippie Joe Runs for Congress

Probably not. But in the Democratic primary held to day, incumbent representative Julia Carson faced a challenger named Joseph C. "Hippie Joe" Stockett, III. (It was spelt' like that on the ballot. I'm very observent.)

I looked up Hippie Joe. He has an interesting past. He was convicted of setting fire to an abortion clinic. He was questioned relating to additional abortion clinic fires. He was suspected of setting fire to a Holocaust museum.

As a felon, Hippie Joe is legally prohibited from carrying a gun, but apparently that didn't stop him from trying. He was put up gun related charges in 2003. He was charged with trying to buy a handgun from a police informant. According to contemporary news accounts, he said that he was on his way to a major confrontation with the Jews and he "wanted to be prepared." According to the police informant, Joe loaned him a book titled Hitler's Second Book, The Unpublished Sequel To Mein Kampf. As quoted in the Terre Haute Tribune-Star, Joe told the informant: "This struggle that I've embarked on to save my race from the

Jews might require that I kill someone some day,"

Joe has been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic (ya think?), and he is frequently homeless. He was implicated in threats against Dan Quayle and George Bush.

With a resume like this, what do you do? Naturally you run for Congress. Hippie Joe did just that. He got his name on the Democratic primary ballot.

While I don't think he's going to win when the ballots are counted, I think there is a good chance that he won't come in last. There were two other candidates on the ballot whos names I can't remember. I wouldn't be too surprised if Hippie Joe beats at least one of them. If I were a candidate, and Hippie Joe beat me, I think I'd skip work the next day, just cuz.

[MSN] Drifter facing firearms charge arrested by police probing museum fire

More on Hippie Joe

UPDATE 5/4 HIPPIE JOE DID NOT COME IN LAST. He came in 4th place. I'll post the vote count when I get a chance.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Clift: Will Gore Challenge Hillary in 2008? - Newsweek Politics - MSNBC.com

Al Gore May Be Preparing 2008 Presidential Run
Bland, Rested & Ready

Al Gore will soon be everywhere, promoting a new movie and book about global warming. Amazingly, they share the same title: An Inconvenient Truth.

It looked like Gore hit the wall after he had the presidency snatched away from him in 2000. Now it looks like he's getting back to his strengths and his record. Could it be that after having 8 years of a president who lives in a fantasy world that we're ready for a president who will actually be straight with us regarding what we have to do to avoid a global catastrophe? We'll see.

Clift: Will Gore Challenge Hillary in 2008? - Newsweek Politics - MSNBC.com

TheIndyChannel.com - News - Fingertip Served To Diner After Worker Cuts Self

From the Ewwww! File
TGI Fridays Gives Customer the Finger

A TGI Fridays restaurant kitchen manager cut off a portion of a finger. Unfortunately, the finger was served to a customer.

Fridays' slogan is "Meat Lovers Rejoice: We've got the meat you've been craving!" Yeah, and then some.

The Fridays employee manual will be amended to equip waitstaff with snappy answers to customer questions when the customer receives a digital bonus item on the plate.

If we took the bones out it wouldn't be crunchy now, would it?

You want to see the manager? How about the rest of the manager?

More? You want more?

How about this Bob Newhart-ish response:

What's that Ma'am? You say there's something different, but you can't put your finger on it . . . You're getting warm.

How about a couple of advertising slogans:

You say you're bulimic, and you stick your finger down your throat to throw up after eating. Well, no more, here at Fridays we've done the hard work for you. . .

Fridays: Endorsed by the Brazilian Soccer Team.

TheIndyChannel.com - News - Fingertip Served To Diner After Worker Cuts Self

ABC News: Funnies: President Bush's Alter Ego

Are two Bushes Better than One?

Here's a link to abcnews.com's video of George Bush's speach at the White House Press Corp. Dinner. The President was aided by impressionist Steve Bridges. When I first heard this, I couldn't see the video. I didn't know what to think.

ABC News: Funnies: President Bush's Alter Ego