Saturday, March 06, 2010

thoughts on toyotas

So, I've owned a number of Toyotas over the years, and loved most of them (okay fine - all of them). I own one now even, and love it. But come on Toyota - it's pretty obvious you've got a major problem associated with your drive by wire system. End of story.

I think the problem is probably going to end up being rather sadly simple - induction of transient signals somewhere in the system that are not captured by the system recorder. In fact induction is probably exactly what it is - cell phones or blue tooth systems (possibly not even from within the car), maybe changing an output or input signal without a normally coupled reference signal to indicate a change of state (so that e.g. a depressed accelerator signal can never be electronically undepressed even if it's been physically undepressed)

I don't actually have a problem with drive by wire if the system is well designed - isolated from RFI, possibly even abandoning the 12V system in favor of higher voltages like aircraft systems or utilizing a carrier frequency rather than a binary voltage differential for drive train signals. Similarly, the inputs and outputs of the vehicle's computer must be able to recognize that an unexpected signal can occur and not react poorly when that occurs.

Toyota's apparent disbelief that such a problem could exist does nothing to make me love my toyota less, it just makes me glad it's pre-drive by wire (and that I didn't buy and TM shares).

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I still find it funny see ed whitacre as CEO of general motors. of course it makes sense as an appointment, familiarity with a large union workforce, proven experience making strategic decisions for giant corporations, significant experience with politicians and regulators, and of course charm, ego and an incredible resolve. Don't forget he did start as a utility lineman back in the day too. What remains unclear however is if his tenure at AT&T (and of course it predecessor and successor companies, through its long and convoluted history) can be measured as a success in terms of long term strategy and, regardless of the answer to that question, he can make a go of GM.

Friday, January 08, 2010

life's a bitch, ain't it, bitch?

And I do mean bitch, bitch.

ps - on behalf of myself and everyone else on a bicycle that's been hit on purpose by someone in car: fuck you you bastard.

Monday, January 04, 2010

the matter with kansas

So I saw Joe Winston, Laura Cohen and their film What's the Matter with Kansas this weekend. Not only was it good to see them but it was a good film - they did a great job letting Kansas tell its story, which is of course hard for morally superior Chicagoans to do. I recommend it as a great example of what a documentary used to be and perhaps is supposed to be: a documentation of something, as opposed to an exhibit in a pleading.

The film, very much in Joe's style, lets the character's tell their stories and was clearly culled from much more material than one eventually sees in the film. What they did particularly well with is focusing on what makes an archetype and why it may not be wise to assume a single facade. Except of course for those characters who are archetypes, and the film has that too, so that we realize that even mono-dimensional characters have their place in the muck.

All of that and a brief but enjoyable visit with Joe and Laura between Q & A sessions at the Lumiere and a chance to meet their new boy (apparently he likes boobs and sleeping so we had a lot in common)

Friday, December 25, 2009

best apron evar


Sunday, December 20, 2009

the California housing market

I found this LA Times piece rather amazing. It contained, in particular this fact that I was astounded by:

"In California, home prices and sales have shown steady improvement in part because foreclosure properties have made up a smaller fraction of the housing for sale in recent months. A report released Thursday by research firm MDA DataQuick showed that the state's median home price in November was up 1.6% over the prior month, at $261,000. Of the previously owned homes sold statewide last month, 40.6% had been foreclosed on during the last year -- the lowest proportion since May 2008, when it was 39.8%, and considerably down from its February peak of 58.8%, DataQuick said."

Yes, for the last year and a half or so basically half of all used houses (which has been most of what's been selling in CA) have been foreclosures. HALF!!!

The point of the article is actually focused on shadow inventory and further downside risks, but it's noteworthy that given the size of the shadow inventory and the fact that most houses being sold are foreclosures that it could have been ALL of the houses had there not been some mechanism to choke that flow. (forgive the hyperbole)

One thing that the article does point to is the incredible softness in the market will persist for some time. Another (considerably more speculative) point is that what we may be seeing now is prices being set by the buy side with the majority of sellers being price takers. This means the market is much more dependent on the temporary tax benefits being given to buyers (recently expanded to expand the potential pool of recipients to those who clearly don't "need" any help but rather could be incented to enter the market out of self interest other than a desire to own a home). Regardless of if the intent of the tax credit was to encourage speculators (of a sort), the distortion on the market is significant. Should we want to avoid a correction I suspect that benefit will have to be extended until the foreclosure glut ends (which may be years given the shadow inventory and the continued decline of the labor market).

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Chuck Biscuits RIP

Punk/Metal/Rap drummer Chuck Biscuits died.

Dude played on a lot of great records (Repo Man soundtrack!) and I managed to see him live a few times in the 1980s without realizing (at the time) all of the other stuff he'd done over the years.