Unmentioned in the fine print

This Reuters story, or variations thereof, can be found all over the place:

General Motors Co. is seeking to dismiss a lawsuit over a suspension problem on more than 400,000 Chevrolet Impalas from the 2007 and 2008 model years, saying it should not be responsible for repairs because the flaw predated its bankruptcy.

The lawsuit, filed on June 29 by Donna Trusky of Blakely, Pennsylvania, contended that her Impala suffered from faulty rear spindle rods, causing her rear tires to wear out after just 6,000 miles.

Seeking class-action status and alleging breach of warranty, the lawsuit demands that GM fix the rods, saying that it had done so on Impala police vehicles.

But in a recent filing with the U.S. District Court in Detroit, GM noted that the cars were made by its predecessor General Motors Corp, now called Motors Liquidation Co or “Old GM,” before its 2009 bankruptcy and federal bailout.

The current company, called “New GM,” said it did not assume responsibility under the reorganization to fix the Impala problem, but only to make repairs “subject to conditions and limitations” in express written warranties. In essence, the automaker said, Trusky sued the wrong entity.

“New GM’s warranty obligations for vehicles sold by Old GM are limited to the express terms and conditions in the Old GM written warranties on a going-forward basis,” wrote Benjamin Jeffers, a lawyer for GM. “New GM did not assume responsibility for Old GM’s design choices, conduct, or alleged breaches of liability under the warranty.”

David Fink, Trusky’s lawyer, declined to comment.

Here’s what no one seems to be mentioning: the basic warranty on ’07-’08 Chevrolets was three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first. Except for a handful of leftovers that hung around while the ’09s were being shipped, all these cars are out of warranty; neither Old GM nor New GM is necessarily required to fix this issue, unless there is a formal recall under the auspices of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. As of this writing, no such recall has been announced; there’s not even an investigation going on.

Mrs Trusky, it appears, did bring up the issue before the warranty ran out (February ’11 in her case). From The Detroit News:

[She] bought a new Impala in February 2008 and said the tires wore out within 6,000 miles.

Her GM dealer replaced the tires and provided an alignment, but didn’t disclose the spindle rod issue, she said.

According to the suit, GM issued a service bulletin in 2008 for police versions of the Impala.

Last November, Trusky couldn’t pass an annual inspection without getting another set of rear tires — even though the vehicle had fewer than 25,000 miles.

So the second set of tires lasted three times longer than the first. What can we conclude from that? Not a whole lot, really, considering that police versions of the Impala don’t have the same rear suspension bits as the civilian cars.

Ultimately, though, I have to side with commenter “geeber” at TTAC:

This is one of those “lose-lose” scenarios from a public relations standpoint. In a lawsuit such as this, GM will naturally throw every argument into its brief as to why the lawsuit should be dismissed. One of the arguments, of course, relates to the bankruptcy filing, and, if precedent is followed, it will likely stick.

This does not necessarily mean that GM won’t fix Impalas built before 2009. One would hope that GM would agree to this, to at least promote customer goodwill. Given that most of these cars were sold as either police cars or fleet specials, the exposure to retail customers should be minimal, so going the extra mile to make those customers happy shouldn’t break the bank.

If anything, getting the lawsuit dismissed could ensure that GM’s money is spent actually fixing the problem as opposed to paying plaintiff’s attorneys fees.

Which suggests to me that GM, while it won’t come out of this smelling like a rose, might avoid a more-unpleasant stench by manning up and asking for NHTSA to step in.

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Resistance to Buffetting

Something about Warren Buffett’s plaintive wail for higher taxes doesn’t quite ring true:

As Graybeard points out, the $7mm tax bill Buffett complains was too low for him to be paying was an amount he paid on a “taxable income” of somewhere in the neighborhood of $40mm, when in reality his net worth increased by $3 billion that same year, most of which he shielded from taxes. If you are not swayed by the pure hypocrisy of complaining about not being taxed enough while shielding most of your income from taxes, you might at least scratch your head as to why increasing tax rates is supposed to be a better mechanism of taking more of Warren Buffett’s money for government use than simply not letting him shield so much of his wealth increase from taxation according to the rate schedule already in existence. Similarly, it’s fair to wonder why, if Warren Buffet is as concerned about the government getting enough revenue via taxation as he claims to be, his focus was “increase taxes” rather than “don’t let people like me shelter my wealth as easily”. Why he didn’t mention this option is a matter for speculation, but it is at least relevant to point out that sheltering 98+% of one’s wealth increase from taxation is something that would not even be mathematically available to the middle- or upper-middle-class people who would, I assert, be affected by the higher tax rates Buffett favors.

I wonder if Buffett actually thinks Goldman Sachs chairman Lloyd Blankfein needs to pay higher taxes.

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Semi-serious speed

The Motor Trend New Cars issue (September) notes that “Maserati claims a top speed of 177 mph for the [GranTurismo] Convertible Sport and 185 mph for the MC,” which latter is, says MT, “the fastest Maserati ever sold in North America.”

Joe Walsh, asked for comment, seems to have changed his story of late.

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Strange search-engine queries (290)

Somewhere around a third of the traffic to this site comes from search engines, and most of those searches are sensible, understandable, even justifiable. Then there are these:

it’s a beautiful day litigation:  I told you we shouldn’t have sent Mister Rogers to law school.

legalese little red riding hood:  For instance, wolves are a protected species. Mister Rogers could have told you that.

transmission sensor won’t let the car start:  Identifying the problem is the first step toward solving it.

www.teensexyvirgins.com/transsexual-babysitters:  Identifying the problem is the first step toward solving it.

What time was the latest sunrise ever?  Look up “arctic circle” and think again.

how many miles can I expect from a used Ford Contour:  Ask yourself “Why did the previous owner unload this buggy?” and think again.

laurence olivier cereal box:  Forsooth, yon Cocoa Puffs hath vexed me.

divorce changes a man:  Not half as much as marriage does.

too pretty to work:  And perhaps looking for a man to divorce.

flaw in the worlds currency:  Not enough of it is in my pocket.

“beer snobs”:  Your brew is swill; our swill is brew.

yahoo dustbury.com:  Hey, if I’m the yahoo, how come you’re searching for this at Bing?

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In the fall, if at all

September means the BIG Fashion Issues: a mere 500 pages won’t do. So anything and everything is fair game, and inevitably you find something just a hair off-center — and something deeply creepy.

InStyle for September boasts 638 pages, six of which are devoted to the closets of the Kardashian sisters. No, this isn’t the creepy stuff. I was, however, jolted a bit by this revelation by Khloé:

“When I’m buying new shoes I ask myself, ‘Would I look good wearing them naked?’”

I’m trying to imagine one of her fitting sessions, but the visuals won’t quite come to me.

Anyway, the story reports that Khloé owns 235 pairs of shoes, 71 by Christian Louboutin, by far the highest percentage of Louboutins owned by any of the Kardashians.

The creepy stuff involved Marc Jacobs’ new fragrance “Oh, Lola,” which features in its print ad — yes, there’s a fragrance strip, but I was too busy being creeped out — a semi-racy image of Dakota Fanning, who won’t turn 18 until February. (If you must, you can see it here.) This isn’t quite as creepy as, say, the situation with that 15-year-old girl who posed semi-salaciously for Urban Outfitters, but it’s still somewhat disturbing: I have no problems with teenagers looking cute, even vaguely sexy, but anything beyond that pushes my OMG button.

(As for the title: It was a phrase often uttered by one of my uncles on my mother’s side; he’s long gone now, but I’d always admired his capacity for mouthiness.)

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Imagine what it’s like to be #2

Deadspin has puked up its 2011 Hater’s Guide To The Top 25, just in time for the start of college football, which, says author Drew Magary, “is a sport so hopelessly screwed that it makes the United States government look efficient by comparison. Every national title won is just WAITING to be vacated.”

The first target, of course, is the University of Oklahoma, ranked #1 before anyone actually plays a game. “Hopelessly screwed,” as the man said. This is what he said about the Tumor Sooners:

When you go to the official website of the state of Oklahoma, the first option given under the “How Do I?…” menu is “Lookup offenders.” Now, let’s forgive the typo there for a moment. Oklahomans are well known for avoiding spaces between words because spaces could let the Devil sneak out. That’s why the text of your average Oklahoman’s email reads, “JimBob! Git yourass to theCrestFoods and gitme somemore chickenheads to puthere in thishere pillow!” I just like that the state prioritized finding sex offenders, death row prisoners, and parole dockets over the less common needs of its population, such as “find a job,” or “start a new business.” This is Oklahoma, son! You don’t go here to find work! You go here to track down the man who slaughtered six of your cousins and set the barn on fire! DON’T YOU KNOW ANYTHING?! Oh, and this team will get crushed by an SEC team in the national title game.

Actually, this is somewhat mild compared to the treatment given to some of the next twenty-four.

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Are too!

The bicycle helmet to end all bicycle helmets:

Star Wars bike helmet

Among other things, this is a dramatic demonstration that the “pastry artist” at your local bakery might have higher ambitions than your kid’s birthday cake. Then again, your local bakery may not be like this.

(Via Geekadelphia; the artist has a How I Did It page here.)

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My First Beater

A chap wrote to The Truth About Cars for advice on wheels for teenagers, and the readership of course jumped in with its own observations, of which this is the one I judged to have most significant comment-stimulating content:

My one friend who has owned just everything up to the 2004 model year, bought his daughter a Z3. Figured she couldn’t haul a boat full of people and if there was a boy in the right seat he couldn’t make too many moves at least while the top was up.

I have to admit that while this particular angle might have occurred to me, I almost certainly wouldn’t have arrived at the same car.

(Disclosure: My son and his wife own a BMW, but it’s a 5-series, and it was their own purchase.)

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Deform and dysfunction

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None more green

It’s been no particular secret that the administration’s push for “green jobs” has gotten them nothing but red ink — let’s face it, if even The New York Times has caught on, it’s got to be painfully obvious to the rest of us — but I still think Walter Russell Mead is going to have trouble selling this jobs package:

[W]e could eliminate all forms of welfare and food stamps and offer the unemployed minimum wage jobs pedaling stationary bicycles hooked up to electric generators, solving our budget, poverty, obesity and energy independence problems all at once.

I really don’t think this is enough to keep the Gorebots at bay — all those cyclists will be exhaling carbon dioxide, which will destroy all life on earth¹ — so as an alternative, we can attach cogged belts to the remains of the Founding Fathers and capture the energy generated as they turn over in their graves.

¹ “Yeah, right,” says the nearest plant.

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Porous another one

The very word “sundress” suggests that it’s going to be worn, um, out in the sun, which prompts this simple question:

On the off-chance any clothing designers are reading this, let me say: if it’s hot enough to wear a sundress, it’s too damned hot to wear rayon, polyester, or any other artificial fabric that does not “breathe,” so why the hell do you use such fabric to make your sundresses? My theory: you are motivated by sheer hatred of your customers, a hatred so intense that if your IQ were a mere 50 points lower, you’d probably work for TSA.

Conspiracy theorists are encouraged to pass along the idea that synthetic fabrics are more easily seen through by airport body scanners.

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Houston, we have a heat wave

How hot is it? The National Weather Service actually put this out in Thursday’s Drought Information Statement:

THE CITY OF HOUSTON AND COLLEGE STATION HAVE REACHED 100 DEGREES EVERY DAY IN AUGUST. IT WAS ONLY A YEAR AGO (AUGUST 2010) THAT THE FOUR PRIMARY CLIMATE SITES RECORDED THEIR WARMEST AVERAGE MONTHLY TEMPERATURE. THE RECORD WILL BE SHORT LIVED. AUGUST 2011 WILL CRUSH… SMASH… OBLITERATE… DESTROY AND ANNIHILATE THE PREVIOUS WARMEST AVERAGE MONTHLY TEMPERATURE BY AT LEAST 2.0 DEGREES AND IN A FEW LOCATIONS BY 3.0 DEGREES.

I checked the August 2010 F-6 for Bush Intercontinental Airport, which turned up a monthly average of 87.7 degrees. If they break this by more than a degree and a half, they’ll get past the July 2011 record set in Oklahoma City, which was 89.2. Then again, poor Lawton posted a July average of 92.3, which exceeds almost everyone’s level of tolerability.

Forecasters being generally reserved by nature, I have to assume that they’re going at least slightly crazy from the heat and/or drought.

Then again, huge quantities of water can also produce vivid imagery.

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Semi-nice try

But it won’t get your spam into the system. Akismet caught this one:

I have been absent for some time, but now I remember why I used to love this web site. Thanks, I’ll try and check back more often. How frequently you update your web site?

If you really loved it, you’d understand the update schedule. (sniff)

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Quote of the week

Fillyjonk gently rebukes the Food Police:

I’m fine, thanks. I’m a freaking adult. I can make my own decisions. If you want someone to dominate and fill with your food anxieties, please have a child. (I’m being facetious here: we don’t need more humans being raised with screwed-up ideas about food).

I think part of the problem is we don’t understand risk levels and risk tolerance. For example: Some additive in food gives people who eat it a 2% greater risk of, I don’t know, massive kidney stones. Does that mean the additive should be banned? Does that mean everyone should be told not to buy it? What if the additive does something other that is useful, like making the food not harden up before its time or taste good? Still, that 2% risk WOULD have some people calling for banination.

(A blogger I like to read often refers to the fact that we all have a 100% chance of dying. So something like a 2% risk of kidney stones, meh)

And that’s the thing that gets to me: I don’t like being hounded. I don’t like being told that my personal choices, which I came to based on my understanding of and tolerance for risk, are BAD and WRONG and DUMB and I need to do whatever the other person is doing because it WORKED FOR THEM and therefore is the best and right and really only choice.

Or even if it didn’t work for them, but they have a wholly-imaginary mandate to force you to clean up your act.

There is only one sensible response to these people. (Well, okay, there’s a second, if you want to bring coprophagia into the conversation.) Look them in the eye, yawn, and say “When I say ‘You bore me,’ that doesn’t mean that you’re my mother.”

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Feigned nonchalance

There’s a thread going on in Amazon’s discussion area which seeks to identify the “most compelling line in a song,” though as a practical matter, it usually takes two lines, maybe more, to complete the thought.

I briefly entertained the idea of contributing “Kickin’ in the front seat, sittin’ in the back seat / Gotta make my mind up, which seat can I take?” Pithy as it is, though, it’s not all that compelling, and after thinking about it for a few minutes — and spinning a few tunes to gauge emotional response — I decided on this old favorite, first quoted here back in ’03, which still packs a wallop:

I close my eyes for a second and pretend it’s me you want
Meanwhile I try to act so nonchalant
I see a summer night with a magic moon
Every time that you walk in the room

Jackie DeShannon came up with this in late 1963, and it’s been regularly expropriated ever since: the Searchers got a British Invasion hit, and Bruce Springsteen often plays it live. Still, this is a song that practically demands a female vocal — guys seldom admit to this level of yearning — so I’ll direct you to the 1994 Pam Tillis version, which is a country song mostly because the marketing people said it was.

(Discovered at Pop Culture Junk Mail.)

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Stocking the Jerk Store

I’ve tried out several variations on the theme “If you’re so X, why aren’t you rich?” So far, though, this is the only X that really seems to describe me:

A new study finds that agreeable workers earn significantly lower incomes than less agreeable ones. The gap is especially wide for men.

The researchers examined “agreeableness” using self-reported survey data and found that men who measured below average on agreeableness earned about 18% more — or $9,772 more annually in their sample — than nicer guys. Ruder women, meanwhile, earned about 5% or $1,828 more than their agreeable counterparts.

“Nice guys are getting the shaft,” says study co-author Beth A. Livingston, an assistant professor of human resource studies at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

Well, screw ‘em. As Leo Durocher didn’t actually say of the ’46 Giants, nice guys finish last.

(Purloined — on my own time, mind you — from The Director. Now STFU and GBTW.)

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