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Friday
Apr182014

Japan’s Lone Pine “Tsunami Tree”

This is a story of hope and perseverance. On March 11, 2011, Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, lost 10% of its residents to the tsunami that rocked Japan. It is still struggling to recover. One-fourth of the 20,000 residents currently live in temporary, pre-fab housing. More than 70,000 pine trees stood at Takata Matsubara before the deluge, but on one lone pine — ippon matsu, or lone "miracle pine" in Japanese — was able to stand against the onslaught of rushing water, and provided hope for the residents who had seen their lives and livelihoods washed away.

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Friday
Apr042014

Making the Bastards Pay and Other Foolish Notions

By Christopher A. Sawyer

GM CEO Mary Barra.In the maelstrom swirling around GM’s defective ignition switches is the suggestion that future safety lapses could be prevented if jail time was part of the deal. On its surface, it is a seductive notion that fits with today’s “make the bastards pay” mentality that pits one side eternally against the other. At the center of it is a legal system that siphons off large settlements through the courts and Justice Department, while taking a generous cut for itself. Eventually, all this light and heat dies down as the circus breaks camp and departs for the next disaster.

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Friday
Mar212014

GM’s Low Weight Truck Strategy, Version 1

By Christopher A. Sawyer

As we stated in our coverage of the 2014 North American International Auto Show, GM’s midsize pickup trucks are the poor man’s answer to Ford’s aluminum 2015 F-150. The 4x4 crew cab model, projected to be the most popular version of the almost full-sized trucks, is expected to be 880 to 1,400 lb. lighter than a full-size pickup. Chevy says the Colorado short-bed crew cab sits on a wheelbase 17 in. shorter than a comparable Silverado 1500 (a still long 212.76 in.), and — at 74.3 in. — is five inches narrower than the Silverado and just two inches wider than a Chevy Equinox. This should make it more maneuverable in-town.

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Friday
Feb212014

Volkswagen and the UAW

By Christopher A. Sawyer

The final score was 712 – 626, and the shouting has yet to subside. Despite the most liberal definition of “neutrality” ever used by the management of a global corporation, workers at VW’s Chattanooga, TN, assembly plant voted against joining the United Auto Workers union and foiled, for now, efforts at establishing a worker’s council at the plant. It is the only facility in the VW empire without this management-union-worker appendage.

Intent on bagging its first transplant assembly plant and using this victory as a springboard to similar success at the U.S. plants of Honda, Nissan and Toyota, the UAW made a full-court press to convince VW workers that their lives would be better under its banner. It was aided and abetted by German corporate management that wanted union representation and the worker’s council it would bring. Once that happened, this state-of-the-art American facility would no longer be a threat to the health and well being of the cozy VW management/union empire.

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Friday
Jan242014

Confusion Abounds: The 2014 F1 Rule Changes

Red Bull's Adrian Newey may be the smartest designer/engineer in the F1 paddock, but even he has to wonder what the new F1 rules mean.Rather than try to explain this one ourselves, we’ve copied and pasted the relevant sections from Red Bull Infiniti’s press release on the 2014 Formula 1 rules changes. I’ve seen tax regulations that make more sense and are easier to follow. — CAS

Penalty Points (Article 4.2)

Starting this season, drivers may accumulate penalty points on their Super License as a result of race incidents and rule infringements, should the Race Stewards deem it necessary. As with the road licenses of some countries if a driver accrues 12 penalty points, his license will be suspended for the following event, following which the 12 points will be removed from the license. Penalty points will remain on a driver's Super License for a period of 12 months, after which they will be respectively removed on the 12-month anniversary of their imposition.

Double Points at Final Race of the Season (Article 6.4)

Controversial and still the subject of some discussion, this season will see double points awarded at the final race of the season in a bid to maintain interest in the championship should there be significant gaps in the Championship order in the closing stages of the season. It means that victory in Abu Dhabi this season will be worth 50 points, second place will be worth 36 points and so on.

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