Moonday Musings

Nights around the full moon are much brighter here than they were in the mid-Atlantic. If I were more adventurous–and could see well enough at night to drive–I would find an even darker place close to home and take some photographs.

There is so much light in the sky around the full moon, seemingly due to the relative lack of the “light pollution” that exists elsewhere, that it almost seems as if it’s nearing dawn. Yes, I am once again blathering on about living in the desert. Yes, when it’s really hot here in the summer I might change my tune. Hey, let me just get to the summer.

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Thanks to everyone who offered birthday wishes to my wonderful wife and sweet sister. While, at times, I complain about what I perceive to be a “lack” of readers given how I feel about the quality of this blog, I am grateful for the loyal readers and for those who regularly comment.

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Four days until our second vaccine shot against the damn virus, so it’s only about 18 days until “full” immunity. It can’t come soon enough as this state’s governor has ended mask mandates, prematurely in my opinion.

To celebrate my wonderful wife’s birthday we went to a local bakery we have wanted to try since we first noticed it months ago. Sadly, neither employee was wearing a mask. The sign outside read, “Masks Optional.”

I know we’re all sick of masks and social distancing. We all want to go back to life before the damn virus. I’ll just offer this: no one wants to be the last soldier to die in a war. We are close to the finish line, but it’s too early to raise our arms in triumph. Many other parts of the world that are behind the US (and Israel and the UK) in vaccinating their citizens are experiencing more outbreaks.

The more hosts for the damn virus, the more it replicates. The more it replicates, the more it mutates. That’s simple virology. The virus has no intent; it’s just doing what viruses do and we have to respect its biology.

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On this day in 2009 Rick Wagoner resigned as Chairman and CEO of General Motors. His resignation was requested by the White House as a condition for more government aid. Remember what was happening at this time. The world economy was struggling from the “Financial Crisis” and “Great Recession.” The US Big Three automakers were teetering towards bankruptcy. Indeed, GM would file for bankruptcy on June 1, 2009, not long after Wagoner resigned. (Chrysler filed for bankruptcy on April 30.)

In 2005, General Motors reported a loss of $10.6 billion. For fiscal year 2007, those losses had exploded to $38.7 billion and the economic meltdown had not really started. Obviously, when it did GM no longer had the cash reserves it needed to ride out the crisis.

A blog post is not the proper venue for discussing what GM did wrong. Suffice to say the roots of the collapse go back to long before Wagoner became Chairman/CEO in 2000. Still, it was during Wagoner’s tenure that this “vehicle” was introduced:

 

See the source image

 

This, of course, is a picture of the infamous Pontiac Aztek. Pulitzer Prize-winning automotive critic and syndicated columnist Dan Neil, in naming it one of the 50 worst cars of all time, said the Aztek “violated one of the principal rules of car design: we like cars that look like us. With its multiple eyes and supernumerary nostrils, the Aztek looks deformed and scary, something that dogs bark at and cathedrals employ to ring bells.”

Neil wasn’t the only person/entity that named the Aztek one of the worst cars of all time. Edmunds, Time and The Daily Telegraph are just three of the many places where the vehicle was named among the worst ever. Supposedly, General Motors expected to sell 75,000 Azteks a year, but never even reached 30,000–its reported break-even level–in any year.

In an automotive industry where the US market had been “breached” by foreign competition–and I am not suggesting that was a bad thing–the Big Three had much less margin for error than in the past. Missteps like the Aztek were much more damaging to those companies than even the Edsel had been for Ford. For example, in the first model year after the demise of the Edsel, Ford led all US makes in sales. (The Edsel’s last truncated year had been 1960; Ford led in sales in 1961.)

I may be an old fogy reactionary, but I think the “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” approach to EVs by GM and Ford is misguided. The number of ICE-powered vehicles in the US is in the hundreds of millions and over a billion around the world. Whatever happened to companies providing what the customers want?! People are not buying EVs, at least not now.

No one knows what the future holds, but it’s highly likely it will not turn out as we expect. That’s what history tells us.

 

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