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  1. makfu

    March 2008 Sales: General Motors

    So I see good news and bad news in this report. The bad news is that the market is clearly in real trouble and these numbers don't point to a turnaround later in the year (this frankly is wishful thinking by GM's economists - I don't know why they continue to cling to this false hope). I would expect next month to also be substantially worse than forecast. That said, GM's numbers were pretty bad except in the all important retail market-share. If GM can continue to hold the line on retail share, when the economy does turn around, sometime in 2009 (I don't expect anything to improve until Q2 CY09) GM will be in a good position, especially with all the structural cost improvements in NA starting to bare fruit. I have to agree with those calling for Hummer's closure. I am not a fan of killing brands (it generally doesn't work - example Oldsmobile), but Hummer truly is redundant and adds little value while stealing precious marketing and product development dollars from Saturn and PBG, which really are very important to GM's revival. I would also say that Hummer, in this era of eco-silliness and not so silly gas prices, really is a public relations nightmare. GM should dump the brand posthaste. By the way, the sharp decline in fleet sales is an indication that the economy is likely contracting (not just slowing) as decisions around fleet purchases are driven largely by two key factors: rental companies seeing a decrease in total mileage, which indicates rentals and travel are down, and corporate customers who have cut transportation budgets because revenues are down. Neither of these indicators occurs preemptively on this scale, this is a reactive indicator and, frankly, it's pretty disturbing (though it helps GM mask fleet cuts that were already planned, though not nearly this steep).
  2. makfu

    The Great Aurora Project

    It LIVES... Pictures soon.
  3. makfu

    That Eighties Funk

    Yeah, I am going to have to go with the Tempo on this as well. Probably the worst car I have ever driven (and that includes my own horrible 1987 Le Baron GTS Turbo). The body structure on the Tempo felt like it was taped together; when you hit a bump or an expansion joint, it didn't vibrate - it wobbled. Scary, scary stuff.
  4. makfu

    Quick windows Q....

    What brand are the thumbdrives? If it's kingston, then you are probably getting the U3 "traveler" installable file system setup prompt (increadibly annoying). You can actually ignore it, and the drive will mount as a normal lettered volume.
  5. makfu

    Smert peoplez likke Hon-Duhs.

    A few years ago there was a kid on CarDomain.com proudly proclaiming his 92 STS had "a prototype Northstar". When I, and several others, commented that what he had was, in fact, an L26 (HT4900) 4.9 aluminum OHV V8, he said no, it was a prototype 32v DOHC V8 (he had even affixed a "32v Northstar" label on the trunk lid). I said this was fairly obviously not the case based on the fact that, well, it said 4.9 V8 on the top and looked exactly like every other STS with the L26 4.9 V8. The kid vehemently rejected this notion, further postulating that this was a 4.9 liter DOHC prototype and that we were all just "hating" because he had such a nice car at such a young age (17, IIRC). At this point, I pointed out that the head cover profile was obviously too small to be a DOHC engine and that the entire argument was beyond ridiculous. His response was that we didn't know what we were talking about and his mechanic buddy had confirmed that it was a Northstar prototype. The best part was that, intermingled with our attempts to set this kid straight, there were other idiots actually backing the kid up?! I wish someone had an archive of that CarDomain page, because it was full of Epic Fail.
  6. makfu


    Yeah, whatever.
  7. makfu


  8. makfu

    How do you define manhood?

    No. His behavior was such that most people in the auditorium were probably confused or shocked that he would get up and begin ranting at Senator Kerry. The campus public safety officers did the right thing and, frankly, the student got exactly what he deserved for his outrageous behavior. That a number of immature college students (and yes, I have nothing but contempt for most college students) then began whipping up protest in feigned indignation is a perfect example of the LACK of maturity in much of today’s academic society. Which brings me to the broader point; being a responsible adult (more than just manhood) means not just taking responsibility for ones actions or taking action that is in the best interest of one’s family, community and country, but it also means doing so in a measured and thoughtful fashion. Because of the relative immaturity of the Baby Boomer and later generations, and it's "I want it now" mentality, too many people think that being "heard" is all that matters and "he who shouts loudest" is the winner. To create real change requires a lot of REAL work, something that the "don't taze me" kid doesn't understand. It means learning how to properly articulate yourself, it means structured and civilized debate, it means you might have to spend MANY years working towards a goal and, in some cases, you might have to sacrifice your life to a cause. Sadly, the post-boomer western world thinks answers to the world’s problems come about by yelling the loudest, concocting ridiculous conspiracy theories, doctoring the truth and cheap sound-bite solutions. That much of the population lives in a state of arrested development, with regards to maturity, is a seriously problem that calls into question what it means to be an adult, rather than just manhood.
  9. makfu

    The Av is gone

    I have two yellow labs myself. I always drive grampa-style with them in the car because I would be heartbroken if something happened to them. What kind of dogs do you have?
  10. makfu

    The Av is gone

    Wow, that's terrible, but at least you are "mostly" still in one piece. Not to make light of the situation, but what the hell is with everyone here getting into accidents?! I think I might just park my car and walk.
  11. makfu

    Saw something

    Yeah, I obtained my PPC a number of years later and, in retrospect, they made many, many mistakes (we will just leave all of the flagrantly idiotic Class G airspace abuses that probably led to the mechanical failure). The biggest problem, among many, was the bone headed move of trying to bring the 140 down on a roadway. Given that they had a few fairly open spaces to work with, including a field that was only about a hundred feet away from where they came down, and based on my visual observation that they had lined up with the roadway (I watched them do it), they must have panicked and then committed to a course of action before thinking things through. There was a section of 202 that was fairly clear and straight about 1/4 mile up the road and I suspect they simply misjudged their decent rate and overshot the portion of the road they hoping to touch on. By that point, it was too late, since they didn't have enough airspeed (and, IIRC, their engine was out) to attempt any type of reconfiguration and recovery. Everyone who has been through basic instruction knows you don't ever use a roadway because it is too difficult to see obstructions that you could foul on (telephone and power lines, branches) and that there is the potential to make bad situation worse due to traffic on the roadway. I don't know how long they had been flying, but as the saying goes, you never want to simultaneously run out of airspeed, altitude and ideas. They clearly managed to do all three.
  12. makfu

    4-5 year car loan? Hell no

    Hey, I know some people who pull down 15k a month (after taxes) who would eat that up with a spoon. That said, they are also douchebags.
  13. makfu

    Saw something

    That is incredibly awful. I know what you are talking about vis-à-vis your reaction. I witnessed a bizarre and horrible accident in 1992 when a Cessna 140 attempted (what I assume) was an emergency crash landing on US Route 202 in Montebello, New York. The plane had been buzzing (in major violation of FAA rules) the parents house of the two pilots in the plane (who were brothers) when it suffered mechanical failure. It came down hard on 202 after catching several branches and a major power line. I was mowing my brothers lawn when it came down about 30 feet from me, right in front of the house. It took me about 20 seconds to make the decision to approach the plane, as the power line was down and bouncing about 15 feet from the plane which was now leaking fuel. I have to say that I also feel I hesitated because I really didn't want to see what was inside the plane. I had completed basic EMT (EMS) training about 3 months earlier down in Jersey, but nothing prepared me for what I saw. I won’t describe it, for a lot of reasons, but what was a cabin about the size of a Taurus was now collapsed to 1/3 that size and, as a result, the worst body and head trauma I have ever seen people live through, to this day, had occurred. Both occupants were still alive, and one of them was, horrifyingly, still conscious. Another EMS (also about my age of 18), who lived up the street, came running down, I told him to prepare himself for what he was going to see and also be ready to pull back if the aviation fuel caught fire (luckily it didn't). I went and called 911, as we still had (I think) the only functioning phone on the street. The worst part was as I was coming back out after calling 911, the father of the two people in the plane came running up the street screaming that his sons were in the plane. There wasn't much we could do for the occupants, except try to keep the conscious one calm and keep the father back from the plane. When police/fire/ambulance did arrive, I went back in the house, hurled and then collapsed, passed out cold. Both brothers did survive, but both were partially paralyzed and one suffered permanent brain damage if my memory serves me correctly. I still get a pit in my stomach to this day.
  14. makfu

    Buying American owned & made does matter

    Look, that China buys T-bills is not a significant issue, in fact it puts them at FAR greater risk than it does us. Yes, we DO need to end deficit spending in Washington, but with regards to said trade deficit (nothing to do with the Federal Deficit), well, a shrinking trade deficit is already happening thanks to the cheap dollar (makes our products cheap and curtails our purchasing of foreign products). It's also important to note that rapidly shirking trade deficits (like we have seen over the last 6 months) are usually a sign that the US economy is weakening or in recession (during steep recession years is when we have actually run trade surpluses). Having spoken with actual Chinese businessmen, they are incredibly concerned about their massive dependence on the US for their economic growth and stability. We are STILL the world’s economic engine and today’s mass selloff in the Asian and European markets is proof of that. Now, WHAT IS very troubling is Japan and China's continued manipulation of their currencies to keep them (relatively) pegged to the dollar so as not to disrupt their economies. That really DOES need to be addressed as it is grossly unfair. Furthermore, in the case of Japan, that we STILL don't have fair access to their markets is ridiculous and we should be demanding that our government take up both issues with the WTO. BTW, where did that insane 6 trillion dollar trade deficit number come from (methinks someone doesn't know the difference between the Fed's debt and trade deficits)? The trade deficit for 2006 was 760 billion and is likely to be a lot less for 2007 and this year.
  15. makfu

    Buying American owned & made does matter

    Private, for profit corporations DO NOT exist to serve the public interest, nor SHOULD THEY EVER. They exist for the sole, singular purpose of producing a product or service for consumption by consumers thus making money for the owners/shareholders of the company. Whatever the company does, with regards to the methods and techniques used to produce their product, should only be tempered by consumer requirements, demand and, if necessary, government regulation for basic consumer protection. AT NO POINT should the company begin to interject or accept interjection of any aspects of the “common interest” except insofar as is necessary to continue to enhance (either directly or indirectly) profitability (example: Toyota Prius). So, when making a blender, if the blender manufacturer can make it cheaper outside the US, with acceptable quality and features, and provided it’s manufacturing origin doesn’t impact sales (along with other marketing intangibles) then that IS what they should do. Now, if you want to see what happens when the public interest gets injected into a for-profit, publicly traded corporation, take a look at Airbus and the never-ending debacle that is the A380. A product that cost shareholders AND European tax payers AND airlines, BILLIONS of dollars. The A380, based on current and projected sales, will NEVER make money for Airbus. Furthermore, Airbus is now cash strapped for development of a Boeing 787 competitor (A350) and is being forced to aggressively outsource production processes. This is what happens when the public interest, in the form of attempting to protect jobs, balance workforces across subsidizing nations and build products for political gain, take precedence over basic market economics. How many jobs will Airbus shed because of politicians pushing the company to serve the public interest by adopting a ridiculous and bloated production model "to protect jobs"? How many jobs will never be created because they built a product the market didn’t ask for, using methods that made no sense except to politicians and xenophobic labor leaders? How many funds (private and public) were damaged both directly and long-term by EADS (Airbus’ parent) playing games with EU governments all in the best traditions of socialist nonsense. The answer is we will never really know the full extent, but the damage to Airbus and its position in the market is massive and it has cost shareholders, employees, suppliers and the subsidizing nations dearly. Now, what about Pez dispensers? Should Pez make the dispenser here in the US? Well, perhaps they could add on that supposed $0.01 (though in reality, it’s a much, much higher differential). But that cost difference isn’t free. It means the product price must go up or margins must come down, either one potentially negatively impacting the shareholders (you know, the people who invest in / own companies to MAKE MONEY). Well, maybe you are okay with that, but most of us who ARE investors, sure as hell aren’t okay with that mindset. By the way, Pez, just for the record, is not an American company (it's Austrian) and does still make the candy here in the US (it has two candy production plants - one in CT and one in Austria - and two dispenser plants - one in China and one in Hungary). As for buying a Toyota "hurting" the US, that is ridiculous. Toyota is just doing what any well run company should do, which is make money by selling a product people want to buy. Consumers who buy Toyota's may or may not be making the right choice (I think their product is dreadfully dull and overrated), but that is their choice. You want to blame someone for hurting the US? Blame our government and people like yourself who erected protectionist walls during the 80's and 90's to artificially protect the big 3, allowing them to slide further into mediocrity rather than taking the drastic action that natural market forces would have dictated. Blame GM and Ford for pissing away years of massive advantage over their foreign rivals due to piss-poor management. Blame corrupt union leaders who put their own careers ahead of the long-term good of the industry and their own union. Detroit must and SHOULD be forced to EARN its customers back by building great products (something I think they are doing slowly but surely). Economic jingoism in the form of guilt tripping people back into domestic showrooms is pure bull$h! and, from an actual impact standpoint, is nothing but pure fantasy. Last but not least, the damn “Made in …” label means absolutely nothing about the makeup of the product you are buying. People look at the top of an Intel CPU and see “Malay” stamped on the package and assume that the CPU was made in Malaysia, when in fact the chip foundry was here in the US – only post production packaging and bin testing is done in Malaysia. Another great example is the big Samsung LCD you might have in your living room; perhaps it has a “Made in Korea” logo on the back – but the most expensive component, the glass panel itself, has a very good chance of being sourced from a Corning plant in Harrodsburg Kentucky (not to mention that the R&D for said component was likely done here in the US, by Corning). Even the damn blender, mentioned in the earlier post, probably had an American job associated with its production, even if it’s screwed together in China. Finally assembly is only one part of the production process for industrial manufacturing, and in most cases today, it’s the least beneficial from an economic standpoint. Oh, and by the way, you CAN buy an American made blender, because my KitchenAid Proline blender is (beautifully) made right here in the US of A. However, I am willing to bet most of you aren’t will to pay the 220 bucks that I spent on something as basic as a blender.

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