“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

GM's Loses its Mind

We have all had to avert our eyes from a desperate and hopeless victim of disease. It is worse when they clutch to some off-the-wall herbal remedy only served up by a shaman in some remote Mexican village. Poor and desperate GM has found a shaman.


GM, Segway join forces to produce two-wheel personal transporter
By Sharon Terlep
Last update: 11:18 a.m. EDT April 7, 2009

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) --
General Motors Corp. (GM:2.05, -0.22, -9.7%) will on Tuesday make another push into the realm of alternative vehicle technology through a joint venture with Segway Inc. to produce a two-wheeled upright personal transporter.

The auto maker is targeting a 2012 launch for its electric-powered PUMA transporter, which would also employ wireless technology to allow users to navigate in urban areas and avoid traffic congestion.

However, GM faces a crowded field of contenders in the alternative vehicle space which, like Segway's iconic but commercially-unsuccessful people mover, have to overcome the challenges of cost, convenience and public indifference.

With a clock running down to a June 1 deadline that could push the company into bankruptcy protection, GM is using the unveiling to try and demonstrate that it retains prowess in new vehicle development having already seen its much-hyped Volt electric car described as unviable by the U.S. auto task force. A prototype of the PUMA - which stands for Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility - will take to the streets of Manhattan this week during the New York auto show.

"Imagine small, nimble electric vehicles that know where other moving objects are and avoid running into them," said Larry Burns, GM's vice president of research, development, and strategic planning, in a statement.

The Segway Personal Transporter launched in 2002 failed to meet lofty sales goals and, despite a cult following in the technology sector, has languished as a novelty for tour groups, police forces and shopping mall security staff.
GM has adapted the original design, adding an enclosed cabin and more powerful motor delivering a top speed of 35 miles-per-hour in a bid to attract a more mainstream customer base. The Puma would run on lithium-ion batteries with a range of about 35 miles.

GM and Segway won't disclose the Puma's likely selling price, if launched commercially. However, he said the cost of acquiring and running a Puma would be one-third to one-quarter that of a traditional vehicle.

Segway Chief Executive Jim Norrod said the PUMA will target fast-growing urban centers in developing nations, where congestion and pollution are major concerns.

"There are cities the size of Chicago popping up in China, and they're saying 'We must resolve this issue of congestion,'" he said. Nerrod said the company pitched the idea of a car-like Segway to Burns and former GM Chief Executive Rick Wagoner a year and a half ago.

Segway will provide the batteries and drive system, while GM will design the body and provide communications technology.


  1. That'd be no less than $6,000, no more than $20,000, depending upon the options.

  2. An all electric GM/Vespa scooter would have been a stroke of genius for the brand. This is little more than a brain fart/marketing scam.

  3. mat tells us that they'll give you the EV, you just have to sign a service contract for the batteries.

    Sounds like another Ponzie investment scheme, rather than a viable transportation system, to me.

    Sellin' the sizzle, while the steer to be butchered still hasn't hit the ground.

  4. Sounds like another Ponzie investment scheme,

    Because you're an idiot.

  5. No, because it does not pencil out.

    The cars are not free, they have a limited economic life, themselves, a seperate depreciation schedule from the batteries.

    The fact that they will be subsidized in Israel, by tax incentives, proof positive that it is a tax eating Ponzie scheme.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. The fact that they will be subsidized in Israel, by tax incentives, proof positive that it is a tax eating Ponzie scheme.

    We've already had this conversation. Israel has decided that it will no longer subsidize the Saudis, and instead will work towards local production distribution consumption of green renewable energy. You and your Saudis can go to hell.

  8. And every week that another ethanol company goes bankrupt is a good week for both the environment, and energy reality.

  9. PARIS (Reuters) - Almost half of French people believe it is acceptable for workers facing layoffs to lock up their bosses, according to an opinion poll published on Tuesday.

    Staff at French plants run by Sony, 3M and Caterpillar have held managers inside the factories overnight, in three separate incidents, to demand better layoff terms -- a new form of labor action dubbed "bossnapping" by the media.

    A poll by the CSA institute for Le Parisien newspaper found 50 percent of French people surveyed disapproved of such acts, but 45 percent thought they were acceptable.

    "They are not in the majority ... but 45 percent is an enormous percentage and it demonstrates the extent of exasperation among the public at this time of economic crisis," Le Parisien said.

    On March 31, billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault was trapped in a taxi in Paris for an hour by staff from his PPR luxury and retail group who were angry about layoffs. Riot police intervened to free him.

    Le Parisien found that 56 percent of blue-collar workers polled approved of bossnappings while 41 percent disapproved. Among white-collar workers, 59 percent were against the practice while 40 percent thought it was acceptable.

    "These hostage takings, we know how it starts but no one knows how far it can go," said Xavier Bertrand, a former labor minister now secretary-general of the ruling UMP party.

    "Our country must avoid entering a spiral of violence," he said in reaction to the opinion poll, adding that bossnappings "cannot be tolerated."

    One step away from shooting the bosses.

  10. That chimp is dressed right. Make a good farm hand.

  11. Sarah Palin Steps Up To Defend America

    That's the lady. She's got a winning issue here. GM and Obama may have lost their minds, but Sarah's is still sparking.

    Israel successfully tested a defensive missile today too.

  12. WASHINGTON – A judge has dismissed charges against former Sen. Ted Stevens because of prosecutorial misconduct and has ordered a criminal contempt investigation of the prosecutors.

    "In nearly 25 years on the bench, I've never seen anything approaching the mishandling and misconduct that I've seen in this case," U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said in the opening moments of a hearing.

    Sullivan read a stinging summary of the many times the government withheld evidence or mishandled witnesses in the case.

    Stevens was convicted of lying on Senate financial forms about gifts he received from wealthy friends. But Attorney General Eric Holder asked that the case be dismissed, saying Stevens did not receive a fair trial.

    Stevens narrowly lost re-election just days later, falling to Democrat Mark Begich. He had been in the Senate 40 years, making him the longest-serving Republican senator when he was defeated.

    During Tuesday's hearing, Sullivan read a primer on criminal procedure, the kind of rudimentary lecture students normally receive during their first year of law school.

    The judge said he has seen a troubling trend of prosecutors withholding evidence in cases against people ranging from Guantanamo Bay detainees to public officials such as Stevens. He called on judges nationwide to issue formal orders in all criminal cases requiring that prosecutors turn over evidence to defendants.

    It was a stinging rebuke of the Justice Department and Sullivan called on Holder to order training for all prosecutors.

  13. Obama is in Baghdad. Maybe he'll say howdy to Sport while extending the Handshake of Sincere Gratitude.

  14. Bob, if you're not going to keep up your end of the nation's defense in South America by reading To Kill A Mockingbird, I discovered another title that might interest you more. Rat's probably read it and provided an review: Behold A Pale Horse.

  15. I'm almost finished and got to go through my underlinings. But, I'm busy tomorrow and most of the rest of the day today.

    Behold A Pale Horse should knit Rat and I together as true comrades.

    Never did hear of it before. Heard of Pale Horse, Pale Rider.

  16. "I'm almost finished and got to go through my underlinings."

    I'm an extravagant highlighter, myself.

    You'd be surprised how many people regard underlining and highlighting one's own books as a kind of sin against the printed page.

    Anyway, have a productive couple of days. Mockingbird, and the nation's defense, will wait.

  17. Wait just a minute--if he's the guy that first outed MJ-12 I certainly have heard of him. Just didn't recognize the name.

    A man way ahead of his time, who lived his life solely in the pursuit of truth, where'er it led, and willing to pay the consequences of that approach to life.

    We need more like him.

    Over 'n out for now.

  18. "Take it easy, Doc, you're boldly going where no man has gone before."

  19. Did they give you a sticker and a sugar free Jolly Rancher?

  20. The big dig affair begins @ dawn!
    (assuming we come to an agreement this afternoon on my choice of Meds, ie no Versed)

    Sepulveda VA is doing w/o anesthesia with option to travel to another hospital!

  21. What are you gettin' done, Doug?

  22. The conviction Tuesday of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori on human rights charges – including authorizing murder and kidnapping – has been hailed by some as a milestone for justice in Latin America.


    A three-judge panel convicted Fujimori of "crimes against humanity," which include the death of 25 people by military death squads. One incident involves a military raid that killed 15 people in 1991.


    Fujimori made no comment on the verdict Tuesday. But last week he told a packed court that, "No one has been able to present a single piece of evidence against me, due to the simple fact that they don't exist.

    Conviction a Milestone

  23. "Take it easy, Doc, you're boldly going where no man has gone before."

    Heheh. I just hope Doc doesn't find the wife's wedding ring up there. :D

  24. "Could you write me a note for my wife, saying that my head is not, in fact, up there?"

  25. (That's a hint for Sam, too)

  26. The balance of trade in goods and services posted a surplus of 53.0 billion yen, down 94.3 percent from a year before, the Finance Ministry said in a preliminary report.

    The surplus in merchandise trade totaled 202.1 billion yen, with exports down 50.4 percent to 3,310.0 billion yen and imports down 44.9 percent to 3,107.9 billion yen.

    The current account balance -- the broadest gauge of trade -- is the difference between a country's income from foreign sources and foreign payable obligations, excluding net capital investment.

    Surplus Down 55.6%

  27. Fat F..... Liar!

    Rick Warren: Stopping Gay Marriage 'Very Low' on Priority List

    U.S. News & World Report - ‎4 hours ago‎ By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country Has Rick Warren changed his tune on gay marriage? In an appearance last night with Larry King—his first TV interview since ...

    The Lies Of Rick Warren Atlantic Online

    Rick Warren Clarifies Relationship with Obama Christian Post

    Rick Warren Says He Never Endorsed Prop 8 Lez Get Real

  28. I presume you are on the backside of the procedure now Dougo? (hehe) Not so bad, the actual procedure, eh? The day before I can do without. I must say I don't know what they gave me but I was awake through out it all and I was a happy camper.

  29. We expect you to blog all night, al-Doug, giving us the gush by gush.

    Doug's gonin' in for the big colonoscopy, Sam.

    He'll be toilet sitting all night.

  30. Maybe if you're awake throughout, you can live blog it.

  31. The reason those ethanol companies are going broke, mat, is they were rent eaters, too.

    Producing ethanol from corn, a suckers play, but one that was foisted on us by the same folk that rufus is so proud of for doing it, Team 43.

    But, if as you've linked and posted the batteries are $25,000 a piece, the vehicle's body, interior and running gear for any crash test capable vehicle is no less than $10,000.

    That the Israeli chose to subsidize the effort, for national security goals, fine and dandy, It'll create an interesting test case. That rebuttal, however does not deny the essence of the claim that the System is not economically viable, if not subsidized.

    The reason for the subsidy is not the issue. The lack of the projects' viability without it is.

  32. The reason those ethanol companies are going broke, mat, is they were rent eaters, too.

    Solar and battery technology match very closely development in computing power. That is, they're getting cheaper and cheaper, while oil and the subsidies to secure the oil is only getting more and more expensive. You speak of rent eaters, when oil receives trillions a year, every year, in insurance and defense subsidies. That's what I call hutzpa!

  33. Doug, it is a rite of passage , so to speak.

  34. Every one of the corn ethanol plants that went bankrupt did so as a result of an idiot CEO losing his ass speculating on corn futures. Those that just bought their corn, and sold their ethanol are doing fine. A lot of nat gas companies have gone bankrupt, also. For, basically, the same reason (ie. speculation in futures.)

    Corn ethanol is profitable to the producers at about $1.55/gal. without subsidies. They're having a tough time, now, with $1.85 gas, and reduced demand due to recession, but they'll be doing a lot better in a year, or so, when gasoline is back up to $2.50, or higher.

    In the meantime, it's taking the equivalent of 20 Million Americans where they want to go, and it's not requiring Thousands of dead kids, and a billion dollars/day to go to Jihadi Princes, and Tyrants.