Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Something for nothing?

Auburn Hills, MichiganChrysler Headquarters,
Auburn Hills, MI,
Image via Wikimedia Commons
S0... Fiat (late of greenmailing GM not to merge with them after GM foolishly signed up, to the tune of 2B USD) gets 35% of Chrysler.

What did they give in exchange? Billions of dollars? Some factories? 35% of themselves? Nope. None of the above. They gave nothing except the promise of some future advice and access to technology.

Great work if you can get it...

Tell you what, Mr. Nardelli, give me .0035% of Chrysler and I'll give you some advice. Or maybe I'll just give it to you for free. You should have actually come out with the Durango Hybrid back when you first started talking about it. You know, in 2000? Then you'd have some technology experience by now. And stop giving away your company for nothing.

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Monday, January 19, 2009


Amtrak train in downtown Orlando, Florida.Amtrak Locomotive
image via
Wikimedia Commons
First, as a libertarian, I'm of course holding my nose even just writing this post... things should be funded by private enterprise rather than government. But since it's being talked about, and it's going to happen anyway... might as well make some constructive suggestions

Everyone has ideas for what sort of infrastructure the big stimulus should build. Everyone says be smart, and avoid pork... way easy to say but hard to do.

Some stuff is obvious:

  • Improve the electric grid so that renewable energy can be routed to where it is needed.
  • Fix bridges, tunnels, water mains, and so forth that really need it
Those are both "construction" sorts of things. Manufacturing has been hit too, though.

Amtrak has seen a surge in ridership of late, as other modes of transportation have become pricier. But they're running into limits. Why? Amtrak has a rolling stock shortage. For years, their capital budget has been far short of replacement, and there are lines of passenger cars in need of repair, awaiting funds. New trains or more frequent service are proposed and often deferred because there just isn't the rolling stock available.

So then... build some... increase Amtrak's capital budget, and get the shops going repairing things. That has the advantage of not only stimulating manufacturing, it also produces something that's actually needed, and when used, will reduce energy consumption.

And don't limit it to Amtrak, review all the other mass transit modes and see what capital improvements for rolling stock have been lacking. We need that more than we need new freeways that promote urban sprawl.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Two telephones can make only one connection, f...Network effect.
Image via Wikimedia Commons
I sell on eBay. Mostly LEGO brand sets, because that's what I have a lot of and what I know a fair bit about (plus b... IBM doesn't sell a lot of LEGO products so I'm clear on Conflict Of Interest concerns)

(I think I've got a link to my store over there on the sidebar... but hey, just in case you missed it, my store is Milton Train Works...)

I made Power Seller status a while back. Nothing big, it's very small time, but we do sell a fair bit. I do OK, but I am there not because it's cheap but rather, it's the biggest venue. Network effect means it's a good place to be if you want a lot of buyers.

For the record eBay charges small sellers like me, all in, somewhere around 15 %, give or take, of the gross sale price when you calculate store fees, listing fees, and final value fees. Plus another 3% for Paypal. Periodically, I look at what eBay is charging me and wish I had a different alternative. People keep trying to introduce some, but so far none has panned out.

But maybe this time it will be different. has come on the scene fairly recently and seems to actually be doing OK. They make it easy to migrate, you can just import all your eBay listings into a "booth" and away you go.

So I figured why not. I set up yesterday. It was easy. And today, I had my first sale.

Color me pleased. I hope you will give Bonanzle a try. Competition is good.

My Bonanzle "booth" is also called Milton Train Works. Tell all your friends :) If you mention this blog posting when you make an offer, I'll give you a 5 percent discount. Let's see if that viral marketing thing actually works :)

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