Friday, December 12. 2008
The "big 3" automakers are no longer the real US auto production base. Honda, Nissan, Toyota (and their "hidden" brands) make cars for the US market here, and their sales are a significant part of domestic auto production.
The big 3 probably make more US-sold cars in Mexico and Canada then the Japanese make in the US.
And yes, I know that "make" doesn't mean anything when parts and intermediate assemblies criss-cross the world several times before final assembly.
The UAW is terrified of the manufacturers seeking bankruptcy protection because it's the closest the mfrs will ever get to rewriting work rules, pay scales and no-show job requirements. And all of those factors have one underlying concept: dues collection (and that cash doesn't go to retiree health benefits, either).
If Ford, Chrysler, GM "go away", then their brands, intellectual property (think of the hundreds of thousands of patents they hold), usable production capacity, and employable, productive people (minus their union contracts) will be snapped up at auction by the hedge funds that still have cash (yup there are a few, and I bet you could raise 4 billion in about 20 minutes to go shopping at a Detroit fire sale) or other capital-flush enterprises. Christ, if someone can invest $37million in a blog (Huffington Post), there must be capital for an automaker.
Isn't a hedge fund or Japanese manufacturer-led bailout at $0.25 on the dollar better than a runaway train government bailout at $5 on the dollar (how much actually has to be collected from us for each dollar paid out in a bailout)? Which will result in more "real" production of US autos and a better workforce and supply chain?
Yes, hedge funds are corrupt and leaky, just like a Federal agency, but they are much more efficient at it, and they didn't point a gun at anyone's head to get the money.
Finally, cars made by Detroit suck. Bottom line, they fall apart, they burn gas like there's a royalty arrangement involved, they lack features, and they're just not as much fun to drive. If a non-Detroit car sucks, it's likely that the suck factors will be addressed in the near future, OR, it's OK, because you still got value for money.
Which products should the market encourage?
Bzzt. Sorry. Too late. The market spoke long ago.
Thanks for listening. When I try to talk to my cats about this, they just get up and walk away.
Come on! Let's hear how utterly, completely, and thoroughly wrong I am! Speak up!
Wednesday, January 16. 2008
Calling all men! We want YOU - this kitty seems to respond more openly to gentlemen than to women. KitKat has been waiting for a new home for far too long ? since March 2007!
Kit Kat often gets overlooked ? while she is a bit sad and lonely here at Bideawee, her previous foster parent described her as a ?mushy lap cat.? She loves having her head and chin scratched, and watching the world go by from a window perch in one of our cat ?resorts.?
Kit Kat is a mellow 4 year old that was rescued from the street. Won't you please give this lonely girl a loving, forever home?
Sunday, July 30. 2006
Thanks to Joel Spolsky for the scan of the Traveler's Insurance ad in Inc. magazine:
Forget the geek stereotype stuff. Like the rest of humanity, you can find techies who fit stereotypes and techies who don't.
What matters here is that Traveler's is promulgating the idea that external threats are where organizations should direct the bulk of their security efforts (and, of course, increased insurance spending).
The threats come from the inside, people! Not the outside. Laptops gone missing (for some reason loaded with sensitive or confidential data), disgruntled employees, gossips, the complete and utter inability to secure media transformations (paper to disk to screen and back to paper again...), MS Outlook, security policies which focus on making legitimate tasks hard by forcing employees to jump through hoop after hoop of red tape, MS SQL Server, being unable to flexibly apply policies instead of using broad brushes to make everyone's like more difficult, and on, and on...
Whew! I feel better now. You can put away the needle with the tranquilizer. OK, yes, there are external threats, but they are much more readily identifiable, and easier to secure against.
There's also a slight matter of exactly what and how the insurer is actually underwriting. Read the contract really carefully, and you will find that unless you've been documenting every last sub-atomic particle of how you secure your premises, your systems, your operations, and your data, and that those efforts conform to some bizarre idea of security developed by an insurance industry task force, you ain't gonna see dollar one from that policy.
I am gonna get me a pair of red socks, though.
Wednesday, July 26. 2006
Back in February I told you about World Community Grid. I explained how the computing power that sits almost 90% unused on the PCs you have at home, at work, and in school could be used to save lives. And you haven't done a thing about it!
Since May, the total amount of computing time per day at World Community Grid has plummeted from 130 years to less than 90 years. It should be increasing, not decreasing. I'll say it again. There are lives at stake here. This is something that costs you nothing, nothing! It is the greatest tool to assist scientific research in history. That's no exaggeration. This is as if every researcher in the world was all of a sudden given their own university with 10,000 research assistants.
The knowledge needed to understand disease and develop effective treatments and PREVENTION lies in the ridiculously overpowered machine that you bought to read email or make your mind-numbing Powerpoint presentations. You're not sharing it. Remember, sharing is good!
Seriously, join this project. If you don't like what World Community Grid is doing, go to the BOINC project at Berkeley. Their software is being used on a lot of different efforts. Find something that suits you and join in.
Friday, July 21. 2006
Came across this as I was going over some old email. My son was reading "The Pushcart War" by Jean Merrill (1964). My wife was talking to him one evening as they discussed the project he was going to do on this book. She had sent this out in an email to some friends and family.
Last night Phillip and I were talking about "The Pushcart War", the book he's doing his project on. It's a satire about war and human weakness.
He's 10. Maybe he should be writing this blog.
Friday, June 30. 2006
In her ruling on IBM's motion to strike a portion of SCO's claims, Judge Wells said that she did not consider the merits... yet. All that she was ruling on was SCO's adherence to discovery rules, and especially the orders she issued on discovery to both sides.
The time has not yet come. the Judge has said,
To speak of so many things.
Of methods and concepts,
And how The SCO Group sings.
But the time will come for legal precepts,
And whether pigs have wings.
That's when the rest of this nonsense will be thrown out.
(sorry, mr. dodgson)
Wednesday, June 7. 2006
The Senate has voted not to move forward with a Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. On the face of it, this seems like a defeat for President Bush and his right-wing strategists.
But is it?
An amendment to the Constitution requires a two-thirds majority in both houses in order to be presented to the legislatures of the various States where it then requires a three-quarters majority. It takes a long time for all 50 States to ratify or reject an amendment.
So there's no chance that this amendment would come anywhere near ratification (much less effectiveness) until long after the next congressional and presidential elections. Maybe not even for the elections after those. The proposed Equal Rights Amendment expired after 7 years before it could be ratified.
So what was behind this late-term push? Did the White House expect this to fail? Could it be possible that the White House and the Senate GOP leadership agreed for it to fail before the the amendment was even presented? That senators whose upcoming re-election was expected to be close could engineer their votes to appeal to the swing voters in their constituencies? That the White House (as chief fundraiser for the next GOP elections) could go back to the right-wing Christians who provided significant funding over the last few elections and say "Hey, we did what we could!. You need to support us even more strongly now. See how the evil influences of the Left and the Democrats are affecting even loyal GOP senators!"?
No way. They couldn't be that duplicitous, could they?
Tuesday, February 7. 2006
No other technological breakthrough has demonstrated the power of individuals more than grid computing. By donating your unused computer time, you can begin to change the world for the better.
That's what is says on the World Community Grid website. And they're right!
Your PC at home or at work is in use MAYBE 5% of the time. So, assuming you have an ancient Pentium III processor runnning at over 1 BILLION Theoretical Operations per Second, each day that goes by sees 82,080,000,000,000 potential calculations NOT being performed.
Now, suppose that you could install a piece of software that knew when you weren't using your computer. It would communicate with a central source, download some work to do, use a few trillion of those available calculations, and report the computed results back to home base.
Now suppose that this is done every day by hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide, and that the work being done allows scientists and other researchers to avoid hundreds of thousands of hours of trial and error research. IMAGINE the things that might be achieved!
The World Community Grid offers a screensaver which will use the available, otherwise unneeded computing power of the machines that sit idle almost all day long while you sleep or are at work or anywhere to develop new anti-AIDS treatment, to analyze the human genome for potential disease prevention, or for any of the other projects that will utilize this platform.
Get this screensaver now. Think of the lives that are lost because of every second you delay!
Seriously. This is a GOOD thing. It's not a security risk, it's not spyware. It doesn't impact you when you're using your PC. Do it. You have no idea what you might be accomplishing.
If the projects at World Community Grid aren't to your liking, break out your favorite search engine and look for "screensaver distributed grid computing".
Friday, January 27. 2006
Reuters reports today that a male high-school student in an affluent Boston suburb has filed a federal civil-rights complaint against his school because "the girls are treated better".
OK, the obligatory "Get used to it kid. Wait until you're married!"
Aside from the whiny complaint "Aw mom, Tiffany gets a better seat in Hegelian Dualism than I do!", we have to note the principal's reaction to the filing of this complaint:
"I don't understand any basis for that complaint. Milton High School does not discriminate against males, females or anybody else for that matter."
So exactly which genders, other than male or female, is Dr. Drottar, the school's principal, concerned about here?
As the school's own Affirmative Action Plan shows, the 2000 census did not find any genders in Milton, MA other than male and female.
It's heartening to see diversity and inclusion go beyond even the known human genders, although it apparently doesn't apply to everybody who wants to be included.
Wednesday, October 19. 2005
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has generated a proposal to cut subway and bus fares by 50% between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve. According to the Authority's 2006 Financial Plan, as a result of the Gap Closing Program, their New York City Transit division will save $43.7 million with a reduction of 432 positions. These positions are involved in the delivery of new subway cars, the design of new electrical and signalling systems, and, of course, station, car and bus maintenance.
"Gap Closing Program"? Why does a organization with a billion-dollar surplus need a Gap Closing Program? Or is there really a surplus? Will we hear next year about the deficit? Sounds a little too Enron/Worldcom/Adelphia to me.
The money New York City residents have been paying in increased fares, which we are told is needed for system upkeep, will go to subsidize the tourist invasion of Manhattan during the holidays, but also to buy your votes on the Transportation Bond Act. I happen to be in favor of this bond issue, since I haven't been able to find where they've hidden the line items which will actually go to operational expenses instead of capital expenditures. As a rule, though, I just don't like vote buying.
So, the trains, buses and stations will be dirtier, the new trains will be delayed another year, signalling improvements will take a few more years to design and even more years to install. And we'll take on more debt.
So, thanks MTA Executive Director Katherine Lapp, for a thoughtful proposal. And I'm sure the suburban commuters (of which, Katherine, you would be one if you didn't have an Authority provided car and driver) whose rides are subsidized at the expense of city dwellers will continue to thank you. Oh, and how's that 22% salary increase from Pete Kalikow holding up?
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