Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Wages, benefits rise at fastest pace since 2004

Hey. The pessimist economists told me wages and benefits were flat? Guess not.

BP Duh Moment from Fed

Umm...all I can say to this is "Duh!". Really, you think so?
Regulators say different equipment could protect refinery workers

Federal investigators today urged the nation's petroleum industry to eliminate the use of atmospheric vents like the kind involved in last year's fatal blast at the BP Texas City refinery.
Further down, the director of the Chemical Safety Board had this to say:
"The experience of BP should serve as a cautionary tale to every oil and chemical company that hears this message," CSB Chairman Carolyn Merritt said in a morning press conference. "The problems at BP are not unique to one refinery, to one division or to one corporation."
This is the same woman who said on 60 Minutes that this catastrophic failure could have been predicted at BP. Perhaps so, perhaps not. We cannot go into the past and see what failures were predicted. However, I would then challenge Ms. Merritt to specifically predict the next catastrophic failure at the next chemical plant.

This is just me talking here. I have 15 years experience working in chemical plants and have witnessed and investigated a few chemical plant incidents. This is what I think:
-Throw a rock at a chemical plant and you will find a worker that predicts "some" horrible accident will happen. Of course, they are never specific other than "things are bad here. Something bad is going to happen."

-Most predictions of catastrophic failures never come true.

-Most people who think deeply about accident prevention and have a top 10 most likely scenarios. They never predict that future accident will happen.

Of course, I am not saying BP did enough to prevent this particular incident. They earned all the bad press and 60 Minutes scrutiny. However, when idiots from the press and government boards make uniformed statements regarding the unpredictable events, I have to speak out. Don't paint the entire chemical industry with the same brush that you are painting BP. Most of us do the best we can to keep our plants and communities safe. As an industry, we are much safer than most, and yet, we get scrutiny because our incidents provide such great video tape.

That's all I am saying.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Another Steffy Hit Job

The Chronicle's Loren Steffy seems to "think"that control of chemical accident site is essential in the quest for truth. Of course, I can tell he has never worked in a chemical plant nor been involved in accident investigations. In the specific case of BP, they were right to not allow anyone else to take control of the site. After the explosion it was a very dangerous place. To allow someone else to control the site would be exposing them to injuries or death.

Besides, I can guarantee BP did not do anything at that site that was not observed by CSB, plantiffs' lawyers and other officials. 15 people died and hundreds were injured. Most had lawyers that afternoon. In these cases, lawyers get involved and then everything you do after that point is scrutinized to the point of video tapes, sign in/sign out logs and even police control of certain areas. Trust me; I speak from experience on this one.

Once again, in this case, the evidence was clear. BP was extremely open with their findings even publishing an extensive report. I read the whole thing confirming my chemical engineering understanding of the event. I wonder if Steffy read the report.

"Afford to Pay More"

This is more economic muddle-headedness from Loren Steffy. One statement stands out in particular:

Meanwhile, corporate profits now make up a larger part of the economy — and wages a smaller part — than they have in 40 years. If ever there were a time when companies could afford to pay more, it's now.

So, in Steffy's world, wages are set at what the employer can afford and not what skills and value the employee can bring to the market? That is not how the real world works. You can command higher wages when bringing skills and productivity to the table. If it takes no special skills or training, then your wages will be commensurately low as a result. The opposite is almost universally true.

That is economic madness. It is just like saying that if the minimum wage is raised, that will increase demand for such labor. Nonsense - mandating wages will only result in a decreased demand for that product. Just ask grocery store patrons in France who have to bag their own groceries as a result of high wage mandates.

Chemical Development Overseas

Here is another story about chemical expansions occurring overseas instead of the US. Basically, the US government and environmentalists as well as the feedstock supply is pushing all new growth outside US borders. This is not a bad thing, just something that people in the US must adapt to.

Manufacturing loses its allure for Japanese youth

This story regarding the decline in Japanese manufacturing illustrates that the world is changing. It used to be that wealth was generated by making things. Now, wealth is increasingly being generated by ideas, methods, systems and services. It should come as no surprise that young Japanese want to invent the next iPod, not make it. They want to design the next fuel cell and hybrid car, not spend 12 hours a day manufacturing it.

Toyota has demonstrated around the world that it can teach the Toyota way in the third world and even in the US without much loss in quality or productivity. Therefore, why not deploy highly educated resources in Japan to more productive endeavors? Why complain about it when adapting to the real world is so much better?

Starbucks adds and adds, with thousands more to come

I have never understood Starbucks ' business model or how they are a success. The coffee is so overpriced that I cannot bring myself to even go there once or twice a year and that is only to meet friends for coffee.

I guess Tom Peters tries to explain it as not selling a product, but selling an experience. I guess it is the experience of Starbucks that leads people to pay $4.00 for a cup of coffee. Not me. I'd rather experience home brewed black coffee with my dogs in the back yard on a Sunday morning. That is an experience.

Not a Pendulum, But A Hammer

Once again, Jim VAT must disagree with Loren Steffy of the Houston Chronicle. Steffy thinks Sarbanes-Oxley is a result of a pendulum; instead, SOx is hammer used to beat honest companies into some sort of tenderized meat. What Steffy fails to understand is the SOx regulations are not just a cost issue, but a drain on productivity. SOx requirements divert the efforts of the most productive middle managers to comply with worthless regulations and suffer through internal audits then the equally worthless external audits. It is really the time spent and the resultant decrease in productivity that is at the core of the issue. There are endless opportunities to improve operations and company performance. The only limit is the time, energy and creativity of employees. When their time and attention is diverted to talk to some accountant just out of college over the phone, those opportunities are lost forever. And companies don't add productive people as a result of SOx; they add more (you guessed it), unproductive accountants who don't know a thing about the business. No only that, the experienced accounts who actually help the business leave the company to work for private companies not subject to SOx.

I speak from experience; Steffy speaks from, well, a newspaper column. I wonder if the Houston Chronicle or its parent company has subjected their finances to SOx scrutiny. Of course, Jim VAT is not at liberty to divulge how much his company has spent on SOx compliance nor how many man-hours wasted on such. If there was uniform reporting of such, I would venture to say it would be a huge number.

Overall, I would say the accounting and consulting industry has created a boom. The auditors screwed up big time with Enron and now, they legislated themselves a paycheck. That is the real result of SOx legislation.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Mother Nature Speaks in Colorado

In my old stomping grounds of Colorado, Mother Nature provided a response to Al Gore.

When I was growing up there in the late 1970's through 1991, the earliest we experienced snowfall there was Halloween. In fact, when I was a senior in high school, we had a freak snow storm on Halloween night. I almost got into a car accident driving home from my girlfriend's house. That was the earliest I can remember ever getting snow.

I guess with the lack of hurricanes entering the Gulf this year plus the early, cold weather, one could submit that Global Warming is a myth. I would not say that, but those that use hurricanes and some warm weather to bolster their case open themselves to such speculation.

I say, let the evidence speak for itself. All the evidence, including the ice core data going back 420,000 years. That is what I say!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

China Bank Raises $19B in IPO

Why people are willing to investing in any bank in China is beyond my comprehension. However, this bank had no problem attracting $19 billion. What I see is a banking system that would face collapse if money was free to flow across national boundaries. They have very high non-performing loan rates, most of which are not disclosed. The only things keeping the banks afloat are the high savings rates and the huge trade imbalance. Without those factors, the banks would come tumbling down.

Workers way too busy

Another fine Euro-leftist-socialist news story. It seems like we Americans are just too busy to attend rallies to force employers to have paid vacations and holidays.

Sorry. There is nothing free in life. The Europeans have more vacations and holidays, but their standard of living is far below that of the US. Their economies are so regulated that people who want more have to leave and come to the US or elsewhere to exercise their freedom to produce.

I'll not apologize to anyone, especially John de Graaf. I want more from life and am willing to work for it. My employer does not owe me anything.

Foreclosures Story Template

I guess the whole journalist world works on a template. I commented on a similar news story here. The Houston Chronicle copies the template of the witless dupe who was conned into taking a mortgage he clearly could not afford. But here is the bottom line on this story:
But even if Addison's taxes hadn't gone up, he may never have been able to afford the house. A review of the mortgage application that he provided the Chronicle shows he made $3,316.25 a month, a third of that coming from overtime. However, his monthly debt, including the underestimated mortgage payment, totaled $2,118 — putting his debt-to-income ratio at 64 percent.

The ratio tells lenders how much of an applicant's income will go to pay debts.

While lenders use different ratios for different kinds of loans, the Federal National Mortgage Association, which buys loans from lenders, uses a benchmark ratio of 36 percent. It considers loans with ratios of 45 percent or higher to be at a significantly higher risk of default.
He had no chance. The lesson: you must learn how to do your own math and think for yourself. Loan disclosures will not save you from yourself. What is it that the commercials say "A good decision in a sea of really bad ones."? For this guy, this was a disaster from the beginning.

Skilling's Not Above the Law

At least Houston Chronicle business columnist Loren Steffy finally agree on something. Skilling deserves the 20-30 years in prison he is expected to get. Time for him to face the reality of his fantasy world creation - Enron - and face long hard years in the slammer.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Power Tradeoffs

This story on coal-fired electric plants illustrates the nature of economic trade-offs. Some reporters want to see electricity prices go down when natural gas prices go down without really understanding the market dynamics, while others stand in the way of possible alternatives. The way alternatives work is they come with a price.

This is similar to politicians who want to wean the US off of foreign oil dependence, but stand in the way of domestic drilling initiates or alternate energy generation in their neck of the woods.

Once again, is it economic ignorance or hypocrisy at work here? Take your pick. I am not sure which one is worse.

I'm an Addict, So What?

This story really is not about me, it's about a friend of mine. A friend with an addiction. I am not addicted. I have everything under control. Just don't touch my coffee and back away from the Diet Coke. Everything will be just fine.....just get the hell away from my drug of choice. And keep your regulations off my high or I promise, something bad will happen. Just sayin'.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

BP could have prevented 2005 fire, panel says

This is nothing but piling on BP's Texas City refinery. A mistake was made with a material of construction that caused the fire. Two elbows were switched which is an amazingly simple mistake to make. Of course, the Houston Chronicle is short on research about why hydrogen requires special alloys instead of ordinary carbon steel. I guess that is my role.

Hydrogen attacks normal carbon steel in a process called embrittlement. This is a phenomenon well known in the industry since at least the 1940's. However, one cannot easily tell the difference between regular carbon steel and alloys designed to prevent embrittlement. Those alloys are CR-Mo steels and other non-ferrous alloys.

You could say Jim VAT has special and personal knowledge of hydrogen embrittlement in pipelines. I can say nothing more than that. ;-)

"The Rules Don't Apply to Me"

I agree with this article by Loren Steffy of the Houston Chronicle. As I have written in the past, I think we are undergoing a moral and ethical crisis in American society where those further up on the economic and social scale have forgotten when they come from and forgotten that the rules do indeed apply to them.

It really is simple: unless you want it on the front page of the newspaper or in a widely-read blog, don't do it.

Demand for workers outstrips supply in Houston

This echoes what I have been saying for awhile: The Houston economy is hot, hot, hot. Engineers are in high demand. That must mean, if I am a Houston Chronicle business writer, that I am not getting paid enough. Surely, my boss will come and voluntarily raise my salary just because the demand for my profession is so high and the supply so low. I should expect a pay raise on my next paycheck, right Loren?

The Chronicle on Electricity Economics

This is why the Houston Chronicle is such a mixed bag when it comes to reporting. They misreport the chemical industry, then have a good article by Brett Clanton. After that, they get some economic nonsense from Loren Steffy regarding the price of electricity.

That might sound as if competition is working, but there's the rub: The price to beat is based on natural gas prices of about $11 per million British thermal units.

Natural gas prices have now fallen to less than $6, but the price to beat hasn't wavered. Nor does it appear the market's new entrants have adjusted their prices enough to reflect the drop. Even if you're paying 10 percent below Reliant's price, you're probably still paying more than you should.

Who says you are paying more than you should? Steffy?

Here's the thing. Electricity is not a competitive market at all levels, production, distribution, wholesale and retail, so how can it be expected that prices will act like it is competitive. Until it is totally deregulated and the price action can move with the market, there will always be a distortion.

Second, even though natural gas prices have fallen dramatically, most of the electrical providers hedge natural gas purchases to lock in that price. Who knows, maybe Reliant locked in the price at $11 to ensure it would not be caught if the price went up to $15 or $20. I will publicly predict natural gas will be at those prices within five years. That takes the uncertainty out of the downward and upward price action for natural gas. If you recall, some years ago, the natural gas price was $2 per million BTU. It rose very quickly to $12 per mmBTU and the utility company could not raise its rates fast enough to cover the price increase. When they lost money, did the business writers say the reverse "you should be paying more."

The bottom line is this, utilities have never been a perfectly competitive industry, the government has seen to that. Don't expect supply/demand price action when there are market distortions. Also, when a business's costs decrease (unless they hedge and it doesn't), don't always look for a decrease in their sales prices. That is now how things work in the real business world.

Fuel Supply Demand in Action

In a story that explains Economics 101 as applied to gasoline, it shows me the basic economic ignorance of the general public. Why do I say ignorance? First of all, it should not have to be explained that when prices go down without an equal decrease in costs, profits go down. We should also not have to explain that when supply shock risk goes down, prices go down.
U.S. refiners are seeing thinner profit margins because pump prices have fallen to their lowest point since March, fuel stockpiles are high, and fears that hurricanes will knock out Gulf Coast refineries again this year have eased.

This big shift suggests that last year's hurricane-fueled earning spike may be nearing its end
I guess I should thank the writer for dumbing down basic economics to dispel this:
While conspiracy theories abound about the 75-cent drop in gasoline prices over the last two months — a survey last week found many voters thought it was the work of Washington politicians seeking re-election — there appears to be a simpler explanation.

According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released Monday, three in 10 Americans believe sliding gasoline prices are the result of a plot by Washington politicians to influence the outcome of the November midterm elections. Only slightly more attributed the situation to market forces.
I am really sad that citizens of the most successful capitalist society on earth attribute a economic outcome to a conspiracy rather than the most basic and fundamental force of human economic interaction.

Thank you Brett Clanton for writing the article.

Time for Single People to Seize Power

Since we are the majority, it is time to sieze power. No more extra benefits for married couples nor any extra health insurance benefits even at private companies. Time to show married people what majority (mob) rule is all about! ;-)

Friday, October 13, 2006

NASA GISS Temp Data Changing?!?

Update: Not that anybody read my original post below, but this is a significant update.
Dr. Sato replied quickly to my email regarding the data change. He explained that Australia and Antartica did not report their temperature data for August when the 0.43C figure was posted. Now that they have, it increased the global temperature significantionly. His explanation is plausable and I take him at his word.

I posted here about how Global Warming science is reported in the newspaper versus the scientific journals. In that post, I noted that Aug-06 was the coolest August since 1997 and linked to NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies web page where they report the global average temperature variation. That link is here. If you follow the link, you will think Jim VAT is on drugs because Aug-06's data shows a 0.67 C variation from the mean temperature of 14.40 C which is not the lowest since 1997. And yet, until today (13-Oct-2006), the data table read 0.43C variation from the mean. Not only had Aug-06's data changed, but so did Jul-06 (from 0.78C down to 0.74C). In fact, when I logged on today to check the table, the table had already changed, but the graphics had NOT! Noticing something was amiss, I started downloading the graphics before they changed as well. Here is the before:

Here is the after:

Notice the after picture does not have the dip down to 0.43 and now shows the revised Aug-06 as well as the new Sept-06 data point.

I was unable to get any screen shots other than this:

Of the four charts above, the one in the lower left plots the 2006 data in the blue line. Here it is zoomed in:

Here is how it looks now:

Notice the change in the Aug-06 data point from 0.46 to 0.55 (this is the Land+Ocean Data - the 0.43 and 0.67 is from the Station data set). All the data tables changed, then the graphics started changing.

I have emailed Dr. Sato of GISS for an explanation and will revert here if I get a plausible reason why the data changed today.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Anti-Global Warming, Nuremburg Trial

If you deny or oppose the theory of human-caused global warming, not only should you be prepared to be sued, but David Roberts wants to charge you with crimes against humanity. So much for open and honest scientific debate. I thought dissent was patriotic?

Islamic-Safe Finance Grows

To me, the entire Islamic-Safe finance industry is really just interest payments and borrowing money that uses different terminology. For instance:
Investors who need to earn a shorter-term return can contract to buy, say, $100 of copper today, and simultaneously pledge to sell copper in 90 days for, say, $103.
Let's just call it like it is: making money by lending it to another person in return for a payment and the principle back in a fixed time. It is intellectual dishonesty to call it something else.

I guess that is why capitalism is such a powerful equalizer. No matter what religion people believe in, they drop their pretenses to act like capitalists. That is why I am a big believer in free trade and the theory that where goods travel, troops will not follow.

Harley-Davidson 3Q Profit Up

Harley-Davidson continues to show massive profits and growth. They are building franchised locations all over the country in a Starbucks-like model. Their strategy is not selling motorcycles, but an experience.

However, I think they run the risk of diluting their brand so that the once special Harley-Davidson motorcycle will become so widespread, that it won't be cool anymore. Everyone knows that aging baby boomers with money aren't exactly Easy Rider material.

For me, it will be interesting to watch as this plays out. Perhaps HD will be successful in their marketing ploy. Perhaps they will become un-cool because everyone will be riding a Harley.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

BP chief ordered to give deposition

I guess the BP CEO will have to give a deposition in the BP lawsuit. That contradicts earlier stories on the subject.

Why is Dollar So Strong?

For those of you worried about the trade and budget deficits, why is the US Dollar so strong?

OPEC to cut production

As oil prices continue to sink, OPEC announces a production cut.

However you want to say it, demand has gone down. This can be a result of nothing more than a decrease in global economic growth. The US stock market is not acknowledging this sign.

Study: Men are stupid

In this "study", the conclusion is men are stupid or at least do stupid things. Of course, there would never be a study of other gender or racial groups concluding they do stupid things. Hell, we cannot even talk about the difference between men and women. Just ask Larry Summers.

Dust may quell hurricanes

In other words, we have no idea what causes or inhibits hurricane formation. "Mother Nature has spoken" will be famous last words of Al Gore.

Monday, October 09, 2006

BP to settle lawsuits

BP is doing the only thing it can do with the Texas City Refinery lawsuits: settle. They are right to do so. They will lose in the end if they do not after a protracted legal fight. Just ask Phillips Petroleum and the lawsuits after the 1989 explosion a the Houston Chemical Complex (now named the Pasadena Chemical Complex). They settle a lot, but challenged a few and lost most of them. BP was negligent and knows it. Of course, the Houston Chronicle can't even bother to get the cause of the incident right:
The Texas City blast occurred when faulty sensors did not warn of gathering vapors near a unit that boosts the level of octane in gasoline. The vapors ignited as the unit was starting up.

Um. No. It was not faulty sensors. The blast occurred because the unit was being started up by incompetent people not paying attention their business. The unit's design was poor and hazardous and the company knew it. Flammable Liquid and vapors overflowed an atmospheric vessel and found an ignition source killing 15 people.

Extended Warranties Rip Off

It does not take a genius to know this. That is why I hate shopping at Best Buy and Circuit City because they are always pushing those extended warranties. I know they are crap and it is a bad business model that forces a customer to say "No" on their last conversation with a retailer.

Another pet peeve is the financing offers. I know they make mega bucks on credit. Some stores are just credit card operations that sell merchandise to lure you into high interest debt. Don't ask me if I want a Best Buy card or a Target Card. Just sell me my purchase and let's be done with the transaction. Period.

As a customer, these two "offers" just push me to buy more on line versus having to be insulted two times before exiting the store.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Trainer that Jim VAT Agrees With

He is a dog trainer that I agree with. In my work with the lab rescue group, I have used similar techniques to turn a rejected dog into one who can live with humans.

My current foster dog is Rex, a 60 lb male chocolate lab. It was a little rough for a week with Rex and my dog Jake. In fact, Rex nipped Jake when they first met and two other times in the first week. After about a week, he started to calm down. Now, four weeks later, Jake and Rex are actually playing with each other.

I am not saying Rex is ready to go to a full-time home, but he is turning into a good, lovable dog. He will be ready soon.

Right now, he is sleeping at my feet. What a sweet boy!

Bullish on renewables

I agree with this story. Oil and natural gas prices will go up again and renewable energy will be in focus. In the next 20 years, I will watch as these silver BB's step into the gap as fossil fuel production drops and demand continues to rise. It will be interesting to watch.

I Say "Dog Innocent Until Proven Guilty"

A black lab has been implicated in a house fire in which the dog perished. My heart goes out to the family whose dog died in this incident.

Digital 'Second Life'

I can never understand the creation and participation in a cyber world like Second Life.
"Second Life" now has more than 800,000 denizens, of whom more than a hundred are earning a real-world, full-time living there, selling things like virtual land, clothes, jewelry, weaponry and pets, or by offering virtual services, notably sex.

Yes, people pay real money for things they can only use in Rosedale's world, which is created on powerful servers and accessed through the Internet. Hundreds of thousands of real dollars change hands in "Second Life" daily, and it would have an annual gross domestic product of around $150 million if it were to stop growing today.
A virtual world of real-life losers as far as I am concerned. I would not be proud of this creation of escapist fantasy lives.

That's A Lot of Gas

That is a lot of gas to spill.
Crews shut off the leak within an hour but not before about 85,000 gallons spilled into a protective moat around the tank, Houston Fire Department officials said.


Saturday, October 07, 2006

Houston Chronicle Chemical Company Template

It is almost comical to watch the Houston Chronicle's coverage of the local chemical industry's problems. The most recent is this story about a Valero refinery sulfur dioxide release. It is like they have a template for reporting these stories:
1) Tell how many people were hurt. If the injuries are major or there is a fatality, describe in detail. If the injuries are minor, focus on the huge number that are always taken to the hospital as precautionary. Do not mention that most are looked at and told to go home. If there is a school nearby, highlight the risk posed to innocent children.
Twenty-eight people were taken to the hospital this morning after a release of sulfur dioxide gas at the Valero refinery in East Houston.

Authorities also told two schools in the Houston Independent School District - ALTA Academy and J.R. Harris Elementary School - to shelter in place.

The district also has put Davila Elementary, which neighbors J.R. Harris, under the same precautions, according to the HISD press office.

2) Get a quote or statement from the emergency responder.
Houston Fire Department officials said 28 people complaining of respiratory problems were taken to hospitals.
3) Get a quote from a company spokesperson.
Mary Rose Brown, Valero's senior vice president for corporate communications, said there was no sulfuric acid spill, as had been reported earlier, but there was a release of sulfur dioxide gas from a sulfuric acid tank.

4) Pull up a Material Safety Data Sheet and list the hazards of the chemical involved. Make no attempt to describe what the chemical is used for in the particular plant.

Sulfur dioxide gas is a main combustion product of sulfur compounds. Sulfur dioxide has many uses including to make sulfuric acid.

Sulfur dioxide is severely irritating to the eyes, mucous membranes, skin and respiratory tract. Bronchospasm, pulmonary edema, pneumonitis and acute airway obstruction can occur.

5) Pull up any and all past OSHA or regulatory violations that occurred at the plant, no matter how applicable or how long ago the violation was.

Valero Energy Corp., has six refineries in Texas. The company agreed to a pay a $5.5 million penalty and spend $700 million on pollution controls in six states as part of a recent settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency and five states, including Texas.

As part of the settlement, Valero agreed to cut emissions of smog-forming pollutants, including 3,600 tons of nitrogen oxides and 6,000 tons of sulfur dioxide in Texas.

6) Never followup on any of the people taken to the hospital. Unless they died, there is no reason to go back and look at the extent of their injuries.

It really is pathetic. The news is so dumbed down to a template just like this. I ask, how much trouble would it be to give a little more information like:

-The chemical formula for sulfuric acid is H2SO4 and sulfur dioxide S03.
-Were you aware that Sulfuric Acid is an important component to gasoline production?
-Were you aware that Sulfuric Acid is the largest inorganic chemical produced in US and that the biggest application is fertilizer. Almost 47,000 MT (103.6 million lbs) is produced annually.

I mean, how difficult is that?

HP management going down

They were warned regarding the illegal nature of the leak investigation and yet did it anyway. Now, there is word that they will be charged. I say good. The Boards of Directors need to play by the same rules that you and I play by. The cannot assume, as those in high power positions, that "the rules do not apply to me."

I have seen this too much in my corporate life. High level managers that flaunt the rules and act as if they are above the law. Hell, I have even seen high level managers who won't make coffee at the community coffee pot because they are just too damn important. It is time in this country to shame those that act like HP's BoD did and stand up for what is right, proper and ethical.

Honda ultra-clean; Toyota up 25%

While Honda is doing this and Toyota posts a 25% gain in sales, what are GM, Ford and Chrysler doing? I can tell you GM and Ford are still advertising their big trucks during football games. That is a losing strategy, in my opinion. The dinosaurs are going to die a slow death this way. It will be sad to watch.

Ken Hoffman Goes to the Dogs

Sometimes, to boost my readership, I gotta go to the dogs. I get an assist from Ken Hoffman of the Houston Chronicle.