Friday, March 31, 2006
The Bush administration filed a trade case against China before the World
Trade Organization in a dispute involving auto parts from the U.S. and other
The 25-nation European Union joined in the complaint, which alleges
that China is imposing high taxes on imported auto parts in violation of pledges
it made when China joined the WTO in late 2001.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
The "drive your GM vehicle to work" part sounds strange and ominous. Is the point of this to shame GM employees who don't have company vehicles? If any GM guys read this blog, can you comment?
I have heard that the cuts today are a relatively small number, less than 500 employees, and that more firings* will come in April.
Update: As this post from GMInsideNews shows, GM was in fact repossessing lease cars on the spot. Cold.
Black Tuesday: Most of the conference rooms booked by human resources. Cabs scheduled to arrive in the morning to take those home with company vehicles that will no longer be employed and able to drive home. Have resume handy, you may interview for your own job. Those traveling or on vacation were asked to return to be available at work on Tuesday.
*"Layoffs" are when hourly unionized workers are told not to come to work, but still collect a large portion of their pay due to union benefits, and their contract. Salaried workers are not laid off, they are fired.
Monday, March 27, 2006
The first problem is wage economics. By having too many illegal immigrants here, doing our lawn mowing, babysitting, and other "low end" jobs, wages for unskilled labor are depressed. As a result, uneducated and unskilled American citizens are squeezed out of the low end job market. And what are they supposed to do? Not everyone has the capability to be a software engineer, or even an auto mechanic. Are inexperienced, disabled, recovering, or uneducated folks all supposed to join the Army? Sit on welfare? The excuse that the illegals are doing jobs that Americans "won't do" is dishonest--the truth is, American's won't do dirty, hard jobs for cheap. And the folks in sunny Southern California really like cheap nannies and cheap gardeners.
The second big problem I have with our current policy is more philosophical. Isn't it bad government to have numerous laws on the books, which are not enforced because certain constituencies scream and throw money around? Why can't we have an honest debate, make a decision, and stick to it? Either we enforce illegal immigrant labor laws, or we wipe them off the books. We have a process--why should people who get in the back door get away with it? Selectively enforced laws can be easily abused by the government to punish political enemies unfairly.
I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle, between the lock-down crowd and the open-borders crowd. We should allow a guest worker program to support labor intensive businesses like agriculture, but we should control it carefully to keep wages such that Americans have low-end jobs if they need them. We should build fences where needed to prevent coyotes from smuggling people into the country. And we should come down, hard, on businesses that hire illegal immigrants. Unfortunately, a national I.D. card is a bad idea whose time has come.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Monday, March 20, 2006
Saturday, March 18, 2006
Hi, I was reading your article on pushrod engines, when I took a look at your profile. You say you are an engineer working for an American automotive company. I'm a highschool student, and I plan on becoming a mechanical engineer. My dream job would be to get a job with an American automotive company, as I have a great passion for cars. I was just wondering, first off what company you worked for, but mostly, I was interested in whether you had any tips on how to become an engineer at an automotive company, what I should do during college, and so on, to give myself the best chance at achieving this goal. Any advice, or insight into what you did when you were younger would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Here is my response:
Sorry, my employer needs to stay secret, I don't want to get in trouble (companies can get touchy if they think their employees are blogging).
If you want to be an engineer, here is the basic list of things to do:
- Do well in math and science in high school. Take AP calculus, AP physics, AP chemistry if you can.
- Go to a decent college, with a respected engineering program. I don't know where you are from, but examples in the Michigan area are U of M, Michigan Tech, Kettering University. Major in mechanical, electrical, or computer engineering, depending on what your interest is. If you want to work in engine design, for example, you need to get a good base in Finite Element modeling, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics. Materials science is also important.
- Become a student member of SAE and participate in SAE events. You will meet people this way, networking with industry folks is important.
- GET AN INTERNSHIP! Try to get an internship with one of the auto companies, or a major supplier. This will really get your foot in the door, and help your chances.
Of course, my first urge was to write, "DON'T DO IT! GO TO MEDICAL SCHOOL!", but engineering isn't really a bad gig, and it won't go away any time soon. There just may not be as many jobs at "American" auto companies as there once were. And I was also tempted to add something like "learn Japanese or German", but perhaps Chinese would be better.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
I bought the boxed set, and I had to pace myself, so I wouldn't suck down all the episodes in two sittings, and run out of show. It was that good.
Firefly is a cross between a space opera and a western. It is about a captain, who is somewhat Hans Solo like, and his crew, as they do (mostly illegal) odd jobs under the noses of the smothering Alliance (think inter-planetary UN, with lots of corruption).
There are no aliens, and no faster-than-light spaceships. There are lots of steel guns that go bang. The writing is smart, and humorous. You have to pay attention to the dialogue, because the writers slip good jokes in frequently when you don't expect them. Compared to all the stale, predictable "reality-lite" TV shows, Firefly is fresh and different. Because the show isn't about intergalactic politics, high tech toys, or inter-dimensional portals, it focuses on the interactions of a smuggling ships crew.
It is so good that this boxed set of half a cancelled TV season is the #16 best selling DVD on Amazon.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
AFA apparently does not appreciate all of the support that Ford gives to Christians. Unlike GM, which does not permit employees to form religious groups on company property, Ford allows employees to organize faith based affinity groups.
If you visit the boycott site, you may notice the scans of magazine ads. If you click on one, you will see that it is likely in German--gay themed ads, with pictures of young men together are common in secularized Europe (until the Muslims take over, that is). I doubt that Ford would dare publish such a thing in the U.S., even in a homosexual themed magazine.
Apparently Mazda renaming Miata to MX-5, isn't good enough?
Saturday, March 11, 2006
Friday, March 10, 2006
Thursday, March 09, 2006
In our analysis, only two of the six hybrids we have tested recovered their price premium in the first five years and 75,000 miles of ownership (see Hybrids vs. all gas). The Toyota Prius and Honda Civic Hybrid provide a savings of about $400 and $300, respectively, over that period. But that is only if buyers are able to take advantage of limited federal tax credits. Extra ownership costs over five years for the other four models ranged from about $1,900 to $5,500, compared with those of similar all-gas models.
Apparently, if you assume federal tax breaks, and if you assume that gas rises to an average of $4/gal, and if you keep your shiny new Prius for at least 5 years, then you can save a whopping $400.
Or you could buy the standard Civic instead of the hybrid civic, saving $3,000 up front. Which you could invest--in 5 years you could make $1240 @ 7%. CR estimated that buying a hybrid Civic would save you $1,684 in fuel costs over 5 years.
After 5 years you have $4,240, which you can spend on something else, rather than replacement batteries for your hybrid. Like a nice aftermarket turbocharger.
Saturday, March 04, 2006
It is video feed from a helicopter or airplane taping a high speed chase, in which an escaping SUV clips a car, and rolls over. The apparently unbelted driver is ejected from the rolling SUV, lands in the oncoming lanes, and is immediately run over.
The lessons here are self-evident.