Friday, April 27, 2007

From the Pigs are Flying Department:
Mitsubishi Posts First Profit in 4 Years

If you think GM and Ford are basket cases, they're not in nearly as bad shape as Mitsubishi (US) was a year ago. Old products, scandals, giving cars to people who never intended to pay for them, poor quality ratings, lousy resale values: name the problem, Mitsubishi was probably the poster child.

Mitsubishi had one thing going for it: a deep-pocketed keiretsu partner, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, that is even more adverse to admitting failure than George W. Bush. According to Autoblog, Mitsubishi announced its first quarterly profit in four years. The profit is attributed to a weak yen and a 4% sales gain. I've seen the commercials for the new Lancer. The commercials make it look like a fun-to-drive car. I can't remember any commercials for the Chevy Cobalt.
Ford Sharply Reduces Quarterly Loss
Results Better than Expected

Ford lost $1.4 billion in the first quarter last year. This year, the company only lost $282 million. Ford Europe was profitable. Ditto Ford Latin America. Ditto Premier Automotive Group. Ford Motor Credit made money, and so did Mazda. Where were the losses? Ford North America. Source:

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Unsubstantiated Automotive Rumor of the Day:
New Car from Chinese Maker Roewe

I'm still waiting for confirmation, but a trusted source has told me that upscale Chinese car maker Roewe is going to license-build a deluxe version of the Nissan Versa for export. The car will feature brushed leather on most of its interior surfaces including the seats, dash, headliner and door panels. The car is tentatively called the Roewe Versa Suede.

Updated 4/26/2007 from Post 4/1/2007

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Hof's Blog Update: GM's Oldest pensioner dies at age 111

In June 2005, I commented on an article about Ernest Pusey, then age 109, who had been retired from GM for 47 years. Mr. Pusey, a World War I vet and the sixth oldest man in the world, died in November 2006 at age 111.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Sun WIll Come Out Sanjaya
Chapter 2: Star of the El Debarge Story

Sanjaya Malakar wants to be an actor. Here's the perfect role: El Debarge. Check out the video from Rhythm of the Night on Youtube, and tell me that the resemblence isn't scary.
Fiat Net Income Doubles
GM: "Doh!"

It wasn't long ago that General Motors paid $2 Billion for the privilege of not buying the portion of Fiat that GM didn't already own. Since then, Fiat's been going strong, and today it announced that it doubled last year's income for the quarter. What can you say?
The Googleteer and Harry Reid

I was sitting around the cracker barrel, jaw-jacking with the Googleteer, the Baron of Boolean himself, and we were talking about Nevada Senator Harry Reid. Until recently, I didn't Reid very highly. My only significant exposure to him was during the hearings during controversy surrounding government secrecy at the Groom Lake Air Force base, including the government's attempt to obfuscate the circumstances surrounding, and deny responsibility for, the deaths and injuries of numerous contract employees at the base. In that campaign, Reid came off like a waffle on a stick.

Recently, though, Reid has been a Senate leader in opposing the war. He publicly called the war unwinnable, and he says George W. Bush is in denial. With much machismo, I commented to the Googleteer that Reid "finally grew a pair." Momentarily puzzled, the Googleteer quickly recovered, pulled his golden keyboard from his utility belt and dashed off this search.

"Harry Reid" "grew a pair"

Result: 62 hits.

Bottom line: you can expect to hear more from Senator Reid in the near future, and he'll probably speak with a much deeper voice.
149 MPH in a 4-Cylinder Altima

Just how overpowered are modern cars? This video shows a 2007 Nissan Altima 2.5S hitting 240 KM/HR. That's 149 miles per hour. The 2.5S is the "small" engine in the U.S. market. There is also a 3.5 liter V-6. Where can you go 149 mph? Saudi Arabia, apparently. The next time you draw an Altima at Enterprise Rent-a-car, you might want to try it for yourself to see if this video is legit. Maybe not.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Googleteer(tm) on Greg Oden

The Googleteer(tm), the Sultan of Search himself, flew in the window today upon the mention of the name of Greg Oden, the Ohio State basketball player.

Mr. Oden officially announced that he was declaring his eligibility for the NBA draft. Because I'm based in Indianapolis, Greg's home town, I was shocked by his appearance during the NCAA Final Four. Even though Greg's only 19 years old, he didn't look like the gangly high school kid that I was used to seeing. He looked like a grizzled NBA vet. So, I wondered, exactly how old is it that Greg Oden looks?

The Googleteer(tm), sensing a question that needed to be answered, vaulted through my portal and put his search skills to use.

Greg-Oden "looks older" 157 hits
Greg-Oden "looks much older" 10 hits
Greg-Oden "looks 30" 26 hits
Greg-Oden "looks 35" 39 hits
Greg-Oden "looks 40" 49 hits
Greg-Oden "looks 45" 7 hits
Greg-Oden "looks 50" 3 hits
Greg-Oden (looks /3 older) 249,300 hits (This is a proximity search designed to return all pages that have "Greg Oden" within 3 words of the word "older".)

It looks like we have a bell curve, skewed somewhat to the older side of 35. Since the median is somewhere betwwen 35 and 40, and the mode is 40, it appears that there is a rough consensus that Greg Oden looks like he's between 35 and 40 years old. My advice to you Greg, when the birthday fairy comes along to tap you with her magic wand and make you look a year older - RUN! She beat the s--t out off you last year.
FHA Reform Planned to Ease Subprime Mortgage Mess

Brian Montgomery, the Chief of the Federal Housing Administration, announced that the agency would be reforming its programs to provide alternatives to abusive sub-prime mortgages for folks with damaged credit. According to the Reuters article linked, FHA mortgage originations declined from 9.1% of all mortgages in 1996 to 1.8% in 2006. I guessed that the FHA share went down, but I never dreamed it went down by that much. And people say GM is losing market share! This FHA action is welcome, but it's way late. A good portion of the subprime mortgage mess could have been avoided if the FHA would have acted sooner.
Chrysler Sell-off Update 4/20/07

Cerebus Capital Management announced that it was terminating efforts to buy control of Delphi and may be focusing on its efforts to buy Chrysler.

In separate news, a group of Chrysler hourly employees is trying to arrange a buyout of the company by Chrysler Division employees. Such a deal would require allies, and in one form or another would probably involve committing a significant portion of the Chrysler workers' pension funds. In the bad old days, climaxing in the 1980s, employees were induced into pension-funded buyouts that were sometimes ill-advised financially and sometimes tied to corrupt advisers. (Remember the movie Wall Street anyone?) I'm no ERISA expert, but as I understand it, ERISA makes it more difficult to buy an employer using pension funds. Nevertheless, in some circumstances it make sense, because it's the only chance to secure jobs that won't be replaced by the market.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Meet Seung Cho, Playwright
Virginia Tech Killer's Violent Rantings

Cho Seung Hui, the student who committed mass murder at Virginia Tech University was an English major who manifested a tendency towards violent themes in his writing projects. published a one-act play of Seung's here.
Non-Youtube Video of the Day
DEA Agent Shoots Himself in the Foot

If you're a DEA agent, what's the only thing worse than shooting yourself in the foot with a Glock pistol? Uh, maybe shooting yourself in the foot with a Glock pistol while you're giving a gun safety demonstration to a high school class -- and with somebody getting the whole thing on video.

Here's a link to the video on
GM is Wuling on Sunshine in China
GM Joint Venture Selling 300,000 minivans/yr

GM may have pulled out of the minivan business in the US, but in China, sales of its minivan/minibus, the Wuling Sunshine (produced by SAIC-GM-Wuling), are booming. Sales are up more than 50% this year to 300,000 per year. At a price equivalent to $5,000 US, the Sunshine is affordable to the new Chinese middle class. The same vehicle platform forms the basis of a broad range of commercial vehicles including box trucks, flatbed trucks and an extended-bed pick-up truck.

The Wuling Sunshine is more of a people-mover minibus than an American/Japanese style minivan. It has a 47-75 horsepower engine, 1/4 of the power of American vans, but still seats 7 people. It weighs about 3400 lbs, about the same as a Saturn Aura and 1000 lbs less than an American minivan. With a 98 inch wheelbase, and a 145 inch overall length, we'd consider it to be a subcompact car. For more specs click this link.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Youtube Video of the Day: Gospel Aerobics.

Gospel music is good. Aerobics are good. Put the two together, and how can you lose, right?

Well . . .

I'm not going to be the first to cast stones, you can be the judge.

Gospel Aerobics

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Lee Iacocca is Mad as Hell
. . . And Takes it out mostly on George W.

Ex-Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca has written a new book called Where Have all the Leaders Gone. He has some choice words about the man in the White House. Here's a quote from a chapter that is available free on the website:

My friends tell me to calm down. They say, "Lee, you're eighty-two years
old. Leave the rage to the young people." I'd love to -- as soon as I can pry
them away from their iPods for five seconds and get them to pay attention. I'm
going to speak up because it's my patriotic duty. I think people will listen to
me. They say I have a reputation as a straight shooter. So I'll tell you how I
see it, and it's not pretty, but at least it's real. I'm hoping to strike a
nerve in those young folks who say they don't vote because they don't trust
politicians to represent their interests. Hey, America, wake up. These guys work
for us.
Why are we in this mess? How did we
end up with this crowd in Washington? Well, we voted for them -- or at least
some of us did. But I'll tell you what we didn't do. We didn't agree to suspend
the Constitution. We didn't agree to stop asking questions or demanding answers.
Some of us are sick and tired of people who call free speech treason. Where I
come from that's a dictatorship, not a democracy. Video of the Day:
Make Your Own Sanjaya Mii

Once again Sanjaya dodged elimination on American Idol last night. I gotta give the guy his props. He's only 17. At 17 I was - uh, never mind. He can carry a tune, he has good teeth, good hair. Teen idols have gotten by with less. FYI, Sanjaya, if you read this: enjoy it while it lasts. Lei,GGLC:1969-53,GGLC:en%26sa%3DNf Garrett then. Leif Garrett now.

Which brings us to my pick for video of the day. Make your own Sanjaya Wii Mii. Can you get any more 2007?
USA Today Commenter Beats Hof's Blog to Obvious Joke
Terrible Lizard was Finger Licking Good

So I read the news story today about scientists learning that T-Rex shared a similar protein with the modern-day chicken. First thing that came to my mind: 'So, it's official, T-rex tastes like chicken.' A person commenting on the T-Rex article named powerslyder, beat me to the punchline by 49 minutes. Get a life, dude.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Nascar goes Bollywood

Here's a link to the website for a new Indian movie called Ta Ra Rum Pum. Apparently, it's a traditional Bollywood musical about a Nascar driver and his family. The well-sponsored race car on the website is a Chevrolet Aveo. (Moving Chicane?). There are some Nascar purists who said this was inevitable once they let in the Toyota Camrys. FYI, if they ever hold, and you go to, a Nascar race in India, if you hold up a sign that says "show us your Tatas", they'll show you the car they drove to the track.

Robin Miller's Worst Champ Car Drivers

While we're on the subject of moving chicane's. Here's a link to a discussion of Robin Miller's list of the 20 Worst Champ Car drivers. This article is "marked for creation" by Wikipedia. It may not make the cut, so click on it now.

GM Puts Rear Wheeled Drive Cars on Hold

According to the Chicago Tribune, GM's "can don't" car czar, Bub Lutz, is whining that a proposal to increase CAFE standards 4% annually will cost GM $5000 per car. He implies that pending government mandates is causing GM to put on hold pending rear-wheel-drive cars except possibly the 2009 Chevrolet Camaro. This would include the 2010 Chevrolet Impala, the replacement for Chevrolet (and GM's) most popular domestic car. If you can't find anything else to sell, maybe you can open up a lemonade stand, Bob.

Monday, April 02, 2007

What's Chrysler Worth?
$4.5 to 9.0 billion

According to the Detroit Free Press, the rumor mill says offers for DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler unit range from $6.0 billion to $9.0 billion, with Cerubus Capital Management as the leading contender. Auto parts maker Magna International had indicated an interest on bidding for Chrysler with the help of a private equity partner, but Magna only values Chrysler at $4.5 billion. Multiple sources suggest that GM will not be a bidder for Chrysler.

To put these figures in perspective. The Free Press states that Daimler bought Chrysler for $40.00 billion; however one of the readers who commented on the story countered with the assertion that Chrysler at the time had $35 billion in cash as a "rainy day fund."
Special Final Four Link
The Science behind the Perfect Basketball Shot

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to shoot a basketball. Well, maybe it does. A scientist named Saleh Satti, from the Physics Department of the College of Wooster, has posted this short paper on the physics of the perfect basketball shot. If you think this is bad, it's a good thing that the distance beween the shooter and the basket is short. If it were longer, you'd have to figure the rotation fo the earth into the equation, including factors for centrifugal force and the coriolis effect. External ballistics anyone? Is it any wonder that nerds get pantsed in gym class?