Saturday, April 18, 2009
Monday, April 6, 2009
I'm hoping Wagoner's Final Four efforts are a success and that a Spartan victory buoys not just the hope but the hard work and grit of southeast Michigan. If this state is to succeed, it must do so like Izzo's team - no whining, just hard work.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
For decades US corporations have been abandoning the production business in favor of the supposedly more profitable business of branding and marketing. But this strategy is coming back to bite US laptop makers. Wired reports that Taiwan companies responsible for designing and building laptops for Apple, HP and Dell have taken the industry by storm with their innovative netbooks - low-power, low-cost laptops perfect for computing on the go. Or, as Wired's Clive Thompson puts it (bold mine):
In the US, we regard branding and marketing - convincing people what to buy - as core business functions. What Asustek proved is that the companies with real leverage are the ones that actually make desirable products. The Taiwanese laptop builders possess the atom-hacking smarts that once defined America but which have atrophied here along with our industrial base. As far as laptop manufacturing goes, Taiwan essentially now owns the market; the devices aren't produced in significant volumes anywhere else... "When I talk to [the Taiwanese] now," [researcher] Shih laughs, "they say, 'We outsource our branding and sales to them."
But American manufacturing is far from dead. Once again, the innovation and flexibility of small business is filling the gaps left by corporations. Clive Thompson tells us in the same March issue how small-scale DIY manufacturing is making products never seen before - and growing by leaps and bounds.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Thursday, February 26, 2009
A: When necessary, use a debit card. You can use them online or anywhere credit cards are accepted. Still use cash when you can, like at the restaurant, or your bill will be magically larger when you're done ordering.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
One percent of adult Americans are in jail or prison. The problem is worse in Michigan, which spends nearly two billion a year on the 11th-highest per-capita prison population. Lots of people are upset, but misconceptions of the problem will get in the way of fixing it, says John Pfaff. Read his Five Myths About Prison Growth, which concludes:
We need to stop admitting many minor offenders, even if they're serving only short sentences. We need to focus less on high-profile drug statutes and more on the ways small-fry drug convictions cause later crimes to result in longer sentences. Once we start admitting fewer people to prison, we should shift money from prisons to police. If this seems like tinkering, rather than a sweeping fix, that's because it is. See Myth No. 4: Reformers shouldn't waste their breath trying to turn us into Europe.
Governor Granholm wants to cut the prison population as a key part of balancing Michigan's budget.
[W]hen forced to tell the truth about its destiny, GM doesn't see itself any longer as the postwar colossus that delivered a car for "every purse and purpose" but, instead, a leaner outfit with, for all practical purposes, two major brands: Chevy for volume sales and trucks, and Cadillac for luxury rides. (It's worth noting that Ford, which has declined bailout funds so far, is also saddled with redundant brands and may be following GM down this road in the future.)
Savvy observers will recognize that this is how the domestic carmakers' Japanese rivals do business. Toyota is ... Toyota and Lexus. Honda is ... Honda and Acura. (Toyota also has its Scion youth brand, but the vehicles it sells actually mirror many of the cars GM badges as Chevys.) The emergence of a North American vehicle monoculture, with Detroit's output more closely resembling that of the Asian-American transplants, signals a much more practical, less emotional future for U.S. drivers.
He also says GM won't be able to pay back its debts until well after 2012, when it will be a markedly different company. It's time for everyone in Michigan to realize the old monolith isn't coming back.