Sunday, February 22, 2009

Chad Vader Reenacts the Oscar Nominated Movies

It was March 2007 when I last mentioned Chad Vader in this blog. Chad is back, and he's reenacting this year's Oscar-nominated movies. Which one will win Best Picture? I predict it will be one that I haven't seen.

Mirror Mirror off the Car
What's Up with the Next Chrysler 300?

In its viability plan that was submitted to the government last week, Chrysler tried to counter talk that its new product pipeline was empty, and that it had no significant upcoming products that would be ready in time to allow the company to turn around within a reasonable time. In support of this proposition, the company included an image of the next generation of its flagship sedan, the Chrysler 300. It's a pretty good looking car. Unfortunately, some sharp-eyed folks noticed that the car in the image has no outside mirrors. The image is apparently a Photoshop creation. Negative thinkers postulate regarding what else in the viability plan is based more upon imagination than reality. I, on the other hand, believe that Chrysler is simply anticipating a merger with Fiat and following the first rule of Italian driving. "What's behind me is not important."

(Clip is from the 1976 movie Gumball Rally, a guilty pleasure.)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Songsmith Take 3 - 2009 Meets 2008
Rickrolling with Songsmith

This isn't too bad, actually

Songsmith Take 2
Mario Meets the Police

Side By Side by Songsmith

Songsmith is Microsoft's answer to Apple's Garageband, an entry-level music program. Songsmith has a unique capability though. It will self-generate music to your vocal track. Youtubers have applied Songsmith to the vocal tracks of familiar songs and the results are - errr, interesting. Here's Queen's "We will Rock You." (or not)

For more, just browse around Youtube, or check out Music Radar's, "10 Astonishing Songsmith Remixes You Must Hear."
Obama Mortgage Plan
Or Hands Off?

I don't know about you, but I was a little disappointed with President Obama's mortgage plan that was announced this week. The Obama plan features easing of refinancing rules for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac backed loans and incentives to lenders for refinancing that meet affordability guidelines. This promises to be so insufficient, that it might be worse than nothing at all. I'm inclined to agree with commentator James Saft, writing for Reuters here, advocating the proposition that the housing markets must be allowed to reach their natural bottom in order to deflate the bubble market that rose over a number of years. Still, I think we need bankruptcy cram down relief, and I wish President Obama would grow a pair and use his political capital to get it pushed through Congress now rather than later.
Saab files for bankruptcy
Dealers trying to buy out Saturn, Also
GMAC Ponders HQ Move to North Carolina

I don't have much time. Here are the Saab, Saturn and GMAC links.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Check Out Our Member Forum

This is a note to Local 3357 members only. You should have received an e-mail about our new members-only forum. If you have not, contact our webmaster, John Suda for an invitation. The purpose of the forum is to give an outlet for information and discussion that might not be appropriate for the entire world to see. (No, I don't get naked. Even the member forum has standards.)
Tentative Concessions Deal Between Detroit 3 and UAW - No Word on Legal Services
Chrysler and GM Viability Plans Handed off to Government

Yesterday, as expected, GM and Chrysler presented to the federal government their plans to become viable by 2012. Both companies require billions in additional government aid. Chrysler's plan includes an implied threat of immediate liquidation if the funds are not received.

Separately, the UAW announced that it has negotiated a concessions agreement modifying its 2007 contracts with Chrysler, Ford and General Motors. The parties were largely silent on the terms with a few exceptions. The base wage rate was not modified. The jobs bank is no more. There is no agreement on the retiree health care Veba. The last point really is a signal that this is more an agreement to announce there is an agreement rather than a true agreement.

More as things develop.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

GM's Letter to Dealers on the Viability Plan

The letter can be read in full - here. The plan is due to be submitted to the government by 5:00 PM EST.

Monday, February 16, 2009

News Flash! GM Gets $4 Billion Early

ABC News reported
this evening that President Obama authorized an immediate $4 billion in federal funds to General Motors. This is before GM's viability plan was even submitted.

The money, to be released to GM tomorrow is designed to keep GM alive long enough for the government to review the company's viability plan. Implicitly, GM's negative cash flow is much greater than the $1.5 billion per month that was reported in late 2008, likely $3-4 billion per month.
Knock, Knock. Who's Czar?
Nobody (Nobody who?)

What's the difference between Oakland & Detroit? In Oakland, there's "no there there", and in Detroit, there's no Czar there. According to a Reuters story syndicated this morning, President Obama will not appoint a car czar to oversee the restructuring of the US auto industry. Instead, he will appoint a panel
co-headed by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Chief Economic Advisor Lawrence Summers. One more head, and you'd have Cerberus.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Shout Out to Ken Jennings

Last week my daughter's Academic Pursuit team won their second county tournament championship. (I know, I'm proud.) Guess who sent them a congratulatory email? None other than all-time Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings.

Thanks, Ken. As the Australian Philosophers would say, you're a good Bruce and not at all stuck up.

How to make a Small Fortune in Blogging

Now I know how to make a small fortune in blogging. Start with a large one. Judging from Dan Lyon's column in Newsweek magazine, it looks like I'm going to have to come up with a new "Plan B". I had some vague but brilliant ideas of a blogging empire based on extreme exercises in unparalleled creativity that go far beyond the little 10-minute-a-day exercise you see here.

The problem is that Dan has been there and done that. Dan is the man behind the curtain of the Secret Diary of Steve Jobs, a/k/a the Fake Steve Jobs blog. For a couple years, this was a must-read for me. It was one of the most popular individual-written blogs on the internet. I'll let Dan describe the financial riches that came his way because of it.

For two years I was obsessed with trying to turn a blog into a business. I posted 10 or 20 items a day to my site, The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs, rarely taking a break. I blogged from cabs, using my BlackBerry. I blogged in the middle of the night, having awakened with an idea. I rationalized this insane behavior by telling myself that at the end of this rainbow I would find a huge pot of gold. But reality kept interfering with this fantasy. My first epiphany occurred in August 2007, when The New York Times ran a story revealing my identity, which until then I'd kept secret. On that day more than 500,000 people hit my site—by far the biggest day I'd ever had—and through Google's AdSense program I earned about a hundred bucks. Over the course of that entire month, in which my site was visited by 1.5 million people, I earned a whopping total of $1,039.81. Soon after this I struck an advertising deal that paid better wages. But I never made enough to quit my day job. Eventually I shut down—not for financial reasons, but because Steve Jobs appeared to be in poor health. I walked away feeling burned out and weighing 20 pounds more than when I started. I also came away with a sneaking suspicion that while blogs can do many wonderful things, generating huge amounts of money isn't one of them.

(Emphasis mine.)

Oh well, there's always Ostrich ranching.
First Info on GM & Chrysler's Ingenious Plans

The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) has some initial information concerning what to expect from the "viability" plans that Chrysler and General Motors are due to tender to the Government on Tuesday. General Motors' is expected to offer two alternatives. The first alternative would be based upon the assumption of GM continuing outside of bankruptcy, and the second alternative will be based upon GM going through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy with the government providing debtor-in-possession financing.

Chrysler is also expected to present two alternatives. The first alternative includes a Fiat link-up. The second alternative doesn't. There was no word in the WSJ regarding bankruptcy in Chrysler's plan.

Friday, February 13, 2009

How did we get here?

There is a article titled Automotive Industry Crisis of 2008-2009. It's pretty good.
Chrysler Nissan Deal "On Hold"

Last year Chrysler and Nissan came to an agreement whereby Chrysler would provide pickup trucks to Nissan, and Nissan would provide small cars to Chrysler. According to, this deal is on hold while both companies assess their financial situations. A smaller deal for Nissan to supply Versa based subcompacts to be marketed as Chrysler Corp. products in South America will continue.

How's that viability plan coming?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

YoBusted -- Most creative scam of the week

has an article about a website,, where you can post pictures of your friends and loved ones taken the night before the day they wondered what they were doing the night before. You can upload the photos for free, but your friend has to pay at least $19.99 and become a "member" to have the photos taken down. Ahh, what jolly clean fun, huh? Get this, the person who uploads the photo gets a kickback when the victim becomes a member to have the photo taken down.

Yobusted reminds me of a skit on SNL back in 1979. The bit was called "The Slop Jockey Man" and it featured Gary Busey as a man who travels to a small town in a white suit and offers to jump into the cess pool for chump change. The kids at home think it's a great idea, pay him to jump in the cess pool, and he does. The catch, you have to pay big bucks to get him to leave.

It seems to me, that there might be a valid "false light" privacy claim against Yobusted when they refuse to take down a photo upon request. The blackmailing nature of the payment scheme may satisfy the malice requirement. We'll see what the courts have to say when they have a shot at it. another argument, as mentioned in the Businessweek article is extortion. If they take your photos from a Facebook page, you might have an argument based on copyright.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

GM Cuts 10,000 White Collar Workers
Nissan Cuts its Ping Pong Team

GM. Nissan. Everybody Hurts

Monday, February 09, 2009

The Disintegration of Saturn

Saturn was once a bright shining light, but soon it will be a black hole. Of course, I'm talking about the car brand and not the planet. Sometime between tomorrow and the GM's submission of its "viability plan" due February 17, GM is expected to announce that its future will not include the Saturn brand. There are a lot of unknowns, including what will happen to the dealers. Whatever it is, it won't be good.

From the Rumor or Fact? File:
Will Anti-Thong Ordinance Keep Local 3357 Out of Myrtle Beach?

A couple of years ago our local had our annual meeting at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. A good time was had by all, or most anyway. While not expensive by resort standards, our fearless leader, Michael Forbes, has determined that given the current realities of the marketplace, not to mention our declining membership and revenue, it would be better if we saved money by not having meetings in places such as Myrtle Beach. At least that was the reason that he gave for public consumption.

Could the real reason have been that he's upset that Myrtle Beach has enacted an ordinance that allows police officers to ticket bathers for wearing a thong swimsuit on the beach? We may never know.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Why You Should Never Let Anyone Else Clean Out Your Office

This story makes me feel like Paul Harvey. Daniel Bennett spent 7 years on his hands and knees in steamy tropical jungles, scrounging for and collecting the dung of the Butaan lizard. Finally, after seven years, he managed to collect 77 pounds of the stuff. Daniel was a candidate for his PhD in Biology at Leeds University in England, and he was studying the dung as a key element in his doctoral studies preparation. That is, he was until a hard working custodian noticed a big unmarked bag of s***, disposed of it, and in so doing jeopardized Mr. Bennett's career.

According to my source article fromt the Daily Mail, the university plans to ward Daniel his doctorate anyway. Finally, proof that a doctorate degree is worth a s***.

And now you know (pause) the REST of the story. Page Two. . .

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Will This New Viper Save Chrysler?

No, not this one anyway. This actually isn't a Chrysler product. It's a kit car from the 1990s called the Trylon, and it's modelled after the Viper fighters from the original Battlestar Galactica series. It's the perfect car to use to bullseye womprats back home. Oops, sorry, wrong universe.

Thanks to via Jalopnik

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

GM Bailout offer Draws Lukewarm Response
-You leave with 20 Thousand and a Car

On Monday, I blogged about Chrysler's bailout offer. At that time, I wasn't aware, but GM had a new offer on the table as well. GM is offering 22,000 of its hourly workers $20,000 and a $25,000 car voucher to leave the company. No word on who gets to keep what benefits. Presumably, 30 year workers would get full retirement. According to, at least at one plant, the offer did not make a favorable first impression. Thanks to Wilma T. for the link.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Chrysler at the Finnish Line

Here in Indianapolis, in the middle of the country, winter is peaking, there's a foot of snow on the ground, and the gas mileage of my 2006 Dodge Grand Caravan is at its lowest ever. It's not surprising that when you mix snowy roads, temperatures around zero and E-10 gasoline that you're not going to post your best MPG numbers, and I'm averaging 15-16 MPG, down from 17-18.5 in normal in-town driving conditions.

I was surprised though, when I read a story at that was translated and reprinted from a Finnish (as in Nokia) auto magazine, Auto Bild Suomi. Auto Bild took four European model Chrysler vehicles north to the Arctic Circle on a maximum fuel economy run. The vehicles in question were the Dodge Avenger, Chrysler Sebring, Dodge Journey, and Jeep Patriot. none of these vehicles in their US trim are known for getting outstanding fuel economy, low 20s MPG at best. The results? Per Allpar:

Even the Dodge Journey managed to get 42.5 mpg on the trip (with a diesel and six-speed manual transmission); the Sebring, with its gasoline engine and five-speed manual, hit 44.4 mpg. The diesels hit 52 mpg (Avenger) and 58 mpg (Patriot). None of the four had 0-62 times of over 11 seconds, and all could reach at least 117 mph.

How did they do it? Read here. (Hint: all of the cars had 2.0 liter engines, three of them diesel. There were three manual transmissions and one dual-clutch automatic. None of these engines/transmission combos are available in the US.)

Sales Hell
January Sales go Kerplunk!

Chrysler -55%
GM -49%
Ford -39%
Toyota -34%
Honda -28%

Chrysler and GM have two weeks to provide a government a written plan demonstrating their viability. Right now, Chrysler looks about as viable as a Bernie Madoff investment fund. Robert Farago, the big cheese at , makes a pretty persuasive argument that the market has shrunk so much that Chrysler needs to be removed from the marketplace to give Ford (and, by implication, General Motors) a chance at survival.

More later.

5 Tons of Marijuana found on Abandoned School Bus

Pick a comment:

1. Some field trips are better than others.
2. Michael Phelps: "Dude, where's my car?"
3. "Hit it Liz!" or "Is this the Magic School Bus?"
4. "Due to unfortunate circumstances, the Willie Nelson tour will be canceled."

Monday, February 02, 2009

Michael Phelps Bong-Hit Diet

So now we know the real story behind the 12,000 calories/day diet, huh Mike.

Let's get Mikey, He'll eat anything.

Breaking News:
Chrysler to Offer Buyouts to All Hourly Employees

This was just posted on CNN Money:

According to a letter from a United Auto Workers executive to union members, Chrysler is offering up to $50,000 to virtually all of its 27,000 U.S. hourly workers, along with a voucher good for up to $25,000 on the purchase of a vehicle.

Workers eligible for immediate retirement working at plants on the closing list could receive up to $115,000 and the $25,000 car voucher.

If all of the workers took the $50,000 (forget about the car), that would be a $1.35 billion cash outlay. That's money that Chrysler almost certainly doesn't have. The buyout offer is set to last through February 25, but 8 days before that, February 17, 2009, Chrysler is due to submit to the government its plan for viability. Chrysler must submit to the treasury department a financial plan showing that the company is viable and has a positive "net present value". Translated into English, that means they must show that at least under some not incredible scenario, the company could pay back whatever money they ask the government to put into the firm. If Chrysler can't produce a viability plan, the government has the right to call the loan they gave Chrysler in December, an action that would likely trigger an immediate bankruptcy.

Where will the money come from to buy out the workers? Presumably, it will come from a new installment of government cash. The request for that money could be a key provision in the "plan" Chrysler will file in a couple weeks. Good luck getting a plan like that past Congress. Each congressperson has thousands of constituents getting laid off every week, and usually with little or no severance. These workers don't want to subsidize parting gifts to UAW workers.

Assuming this plan goes into effect what type of benefits will the workers receive who accept the buyouts? It hasn't been mentioned. When I find out, I'll post.

Popular Mechanics Drives the Fiat Grande Punto

While the Fiat 500 gets all the press, if the Chrysler-Fiat marriage is going to result in a mainstream model, the most likely candidate could be based upon the current Fiat Punto. Here's a link to PopMech's preview drive of the current Grande Punto. The Grande Punto is a direct comopetitor to the Ford Fiesta (to be called the Verve when Ford brings it to the US). You can expect if the Verve is popular, VW will introduce its competing Polo model in the US as well. There's an outside chance that the VW entry would be built in the US in VW's new Tennessee facility.