Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Good Bye NUMMI.

Tomorrow is April 1. Unfortunately it won't be a joke when the last Toyota Corolla will come off the production line at NUMMI. New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI) is an automobile manufacturing facility in Fremont, California. NUMMI is perhaps most famous for being Toyota's first North American production facility, but it was originally a General Motors production plant. GM had to shut the plant down in the 1980s due to a variety of factors, including low productivity, poor quality, and generally FUBAR relations between GM and the UAW.

This American Life made a podcast on this, and it is fairly good.

In the mid-1980s, Toyota was looking to setup shop in the United States. The Japanese car manufacturer had realized that GM, with its heavy political base, was capable of influencing protectionist policies in the US Congress. However, Toyota had never dealt with American laborers, and had no experience with setting up shop in North America, so they entered into a joint venture with GM, reopening the factory and implementing Toyota's lean manufacturing.

The joint venture was an instant success. For nearly two decades, NUMMI built the the most reliable vehicles sold under a GM badge, such as the Geo/Chevrolet Prizm or Pontiac Vibe.

NUMMI was proof that there was nothing fundamentally wrong or uncompetitive about the American worker - it demonstrated that poor productivity and consistency was the result of a bad structure and lousy labor relations.

Unfortunately, with the demise and bankruptcy of GM, the joint venture ended. Toyota, which has excess production capacity in North America, decided to close the plant. Good Bye NUMMI.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Bed Bath & Bey... wahhhhh?

I spent sometime browsing Bed Bath & Beyond today, looking at the usual things I admire like pots and pans, interesting kitchen gadgets, when suddenly...

What is this?!

OMG!! Training wheels for chopsticks?!

I wish I had a pair of these when I turned four and my parents took away my spoon as part of my Spartan upbringing. Master Pai Mei from Kill Bill Vol. 2 was modeled after my parents, and it was either learn how to eat with chopsticks or not eat at all. 

Editor Note: Fotos made possible by the iPhone 3GS.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Health Care Proposal for "Freedom Fighters" and die hard fiscal conservatives.

If you're physically in the United States, I'm sure you've heard all this ballyhoo about "Obamacare" aka Health Care Reform.

Listening to people threatening to physically assault members of Congress for having the audacity to increase competition amongst insurance companies, and make insurance more affordable for the uninsured/under-insured doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

I prefer constructive criticism - so here's a legislative idea for Republicans to "fix" the Health Care Reform bill.

1. Adults that are of sound mind, may voluntarily opt out and enroll on a list called "Don't Care List," under which they will not receive any health care unless they're able to pay up front. Should the individual become incapacitated and unable to make payment upfront, an immediate family member, or a court appointed trustee may decide on their behalf (although payment will still be required upon admission).

2. The aforementioned individual will be able to opt out of all associated taxes and fees that fund the health care system

3. Non-profit hospitals and public hospitals are barred providing free care to such persons (after all, charity is honorable, but not if it sinks the entire health care system).

4. If the individual is diagnosed with a medical condition, and seeks coverage, they can be denied for having a pre-existing condition (since they basically cheat the concept of insurance by "opting in" when it benefits them).

5. The individual, if unable or unwilling to pay upfront for care, may try to secure health financing, or alternatively, get back into the system by paying the premiums they would otherwise had paid into the insurance pool from the date the individual opted to be on the "Don't Care List."

I don't see why die hard fiscal conservatives would be opposed to this proposal, and "freedom fighters" should also appreciate the freedom and responsibility/consequences that follow.

Meanwhile, I'll get into the business of financing lifesaving procedures for people who decide to enroll on this "Don't Care List."

Of course, the financing will be dictated by the market. If a person on the "Don't Care List" is 25 years away from retirement, has minimal savings and no source of retirement income beyond monthly checks for sustenance, economically speaking, the inherent risks of investing in their life is too great for the expected gains expected in the long-term.

I guess they'll just have to die then, but then again, it is merely adults expressing their political preferences and exercising their freedoms? right?

"Freedom Fighters" and die hard fiscal conservatives for the win.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Why do we bother with Daylight Saving Time?

1,000,000 brownie points to the person who knows the answer.