Friday, January 27, 2012

From the "I shall name him George" file:

Guy in Costa Rica has 17 foot long pet crocodile.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

2012-2013 - The Year of the Midsize

Chevrolet just announced that the first of its redesigned 2013 Chevrolet Malibu midsized sedans just shipped out to dealers. The first models are the Malibu Eco models with the eAssist engine. (Don't call it a mild hybrid, even though that's what it is.) The Eco model is rated at 25 MPG city and 37 MPG highway. That's a higher highway figure than the 2006-2011 Honda Civic. Whereas the eAssist system really takes a toll on the luggage space on the Buick LaCrosse, which was the first GM car to be eAssisted, the Malibu reportedly keeps 14 cubic feet of luggage space. Chevy's high-mpg thunder was somewhat stolen earlier this month when Ford unveiled its 2013 Fusion models. The Fusion has a wide range of engines but directly competitive to the Malibu Eco, Ford will offer a Fusion with a 1.6 liter Ecoboost turbocharged engine which is also expected to deliver about 37 MPG highway. Ford will also offer a full hybrid with MPG better than the Toyota Camry Hybrid and a plug-in electric Fusion with expected MPGe at or near 100 MPG. Some UAW members will finally get a chance to build the Fusion as Ford will be adding a Fusion production line to its Flat Rock, Michigan plant. This will supplement the Mexican plant that currently builds the Fusion.

For a detailed comparison of the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu and 2013 Ford Fusion, check out this article at (which is the source of the picture to the right showing the Malibu on the top and the Fusion on the bottom).

In addition to the Malibu and the Fusion, in the late summer this year, you can expect Honda to release the redesigned Honda Accord. It looks like Honda is going all out this time, with redesigned engines including hybrids and plug-in hybrids like Ford.

My first impression is that the new Fusion and the new Accord will make other newish designs such as the Malibu and the new-for-2012 Toyota Camry seem dull and old-fashioned by comparison. Chrysler and others following on the heels of the Accord will have their work cut out for them in fighting for market share. Chrysler is expected to bring out a replacement for the 200 on a Fiat platform with a new generation of engines and transmissions. I don't expect the new Chrysler until MY 2014. The bottom line is that if you are planning on buying a family sedan in the near future, you should try to hold off until at least this coming fall. Not only will there be a whole new generation of attractive contenders, the best of what's out there now may come with huge incentives to stay competitive.

Newt & Shrute


Jan Brewer - Everything I know, I learned on Star Trek

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

From the "Don't let the door hit you in the . . ." file:
Geithner won't Stay on For 2nd Obama Term

Thank heavens for small favors.

Marginally related video time:

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ratings Week Special
Them's Good Eatin'

Once again, in an effort to keep my ratings up during ratings week, I make extra effort to raise the quality of the blog. Check this picture out. Looks familiar, right? It's not what you think it is. It's a cake.

Friday, January 20, 2012

. . . and that's what Occupy Wall Street is all about, Charlie Brown

(Graph from Paul Krugman's blog)

Why I didn't Understand Apple's Textbook Program
- It Doesn't Make Sense

I wrote yesterday that I was disappointed that Apple's new iPad textbook program didn't target college student, and I couldn't see it adopted in K-12. Laptop magazine's Avram Pittch explains the flaws in Apple's program very cogently here. The economics of using Apple's proprietary system in the K-12 level just don't work out. Eventually digital textbooks may migrate to K-12, but in my opinion, they will likely be open-sourced "wikibooks" and they will be distributed in an opensource format that is hardware-agnostic. Most likely they would be played on a very inexpensive tablet of a type that does not currently exist. The iPad is too proprietary and too expensive. The new XO3 OLPC tablet (pictured) is a start, but it is a little too small and probably still too fragile. The bottom line is that it will be several years until K-12 education shifts in a significant way to e-textbooks. I think the shift will be led by the homeschoolers using wikibooks, followed by certain private schools, with the public schools taking at least a decade.

Steve Jobs is known for his reality distortion field. The RDF died with Steve. Apple's new CEO Tim Cook can't dodge or distort the reality that our public schools, which are laying off teachers, can't afford classrooms full of iPads. That's not going to change anytime soon.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Plan B - Draft H

Monday I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. I was pondering the imminent loss of my job (albeit two years from now). I didn't know what I was going to do with my life. I started watching How I Met Your Mother, with master thespian Chris Elliot as the guest star, a memory came back to me, then it hit me - my new Plan B.

My Hopes Dashed by Apple's Textbook Plan

I had heard that Apple scheduled a big "Apple Event" today to announce it was revolutionizing the textbook business. Since I will have two kids going to college in the next three and a half years, it really got my hopes up when I heard that Apple was going to make a deal with major publishers to put textbooks on the iPad for $14.99 each. The press conference has happened, and it appears that the rumored $14.99 price was correct but the focus will be on middle school and high school texts. When you figure in the cost of a $500 iPad, it's not clear how much savings there will really be. More and more college texts are already going digital, but the pricing structure is not that different from the traditional (and ever-increasing) paper book price.

The revolution will eventually occur but it will probably be too late for my kids.

President Obama Finds His - Kills Keystone Pipeline

President Obama's supporters have long been pleading with him to follow the rhetoric that got him elected and fight Congress on important issues. It looks like he's finally taking that advice to heart, because he acted to kill the Keystone XL pipeline project.

This might cost him more votes in the upcoming election than it gains him, but it was necessary to earn the votes he got the last time around, and I commend him for it.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Prediction: Patriots by 10.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Chase Stops Filing Credit Card Suits - Robosigning Fallout?

Just over a year ago, I blogged about whistleblower Linda Almonte's allegation that Chase Bank was engaged in a pattern and practice of fraudulent behavior in its credit card division relating to fraudulent and robosigned documents constructed to back up its credit card receivables. Now industry trade journal Collections and Credit Risk is reporting that Chase has abruptly stopped fililng suit on its credit card accounts and some other accounts. Apparently, in the past year, Chase has fired many, if not most, of the lawyers who have been collecting their accounts. Whatever happened to Linda Almonte? She apparently settled her wrongful discharge case against Chase on confidential terms. I have a hunch that she came out alright.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Why 2012 is Going to Rock

It started out like this . . . Jan 1, 2012 Steven Tyler, Alice Cooper and my man - Weird Al - on stage belting out the Beatles' Come Together.

Presidential Race 2012: Romney-Rubio vs. Obama-Clinton

According to Robert Reich, the presidential tickets for November 2012 will be Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio versus Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. According to Reich, Biden and Clinton will switch jobs for the second Obama term. This Biden-Clinton swap has been bantered around on message boards before, but Robert Reich is the first person that I've seen that actually knows these folks that's actually gone on the record with such a scenario. Things that make you go hmmm.

2013 Ford Fusion

It appears that the embargo came off the 2013 Ford Fusion at midnight. The new Fusion goes worldcar this year and will be essentially the same as the European Mondeo. Judging from the picture at, the new Fusion looks a lot like the old Mondeo, but it's a handsome car, nevertheless. I just got back from a trip where I rented the current Fusion. It was a very sound and capable family car. Let's see if Ford announces whether the UAW will build the car in the underused Flat Rock, Michigan Plant. For more info, check out's story here.