27 April 2009

Yet Again, We Pay for Overvalued "Top Talent"

This morning, GM announced its restructuring plan that includes the closure of the Pontiac Motor Division. Here is the Wall Street Journal article. This makes no sense to me, considering that this chart from WSJ shows Buick, Cadillac, Hummer and Saab each selling less than Pontiac for 2008.

This illustrates the "new" math behind GM's decision to cut Pontiac.

I expected some sort of correction would happen years ago when luxury brands started selling SUVs. The different marks at GM used to make sense. When you wanted an "every man's" car or truck you bought a Chevrolet. When you wanted performance you bought a Pontiac. Ready for something more? Buy an Oldsmobile. Need sophistication without pretense? You would really rather have a Buick. Prefer luxury and innovation? You'd buy a Cadillac. As a kid, I remember hearing loyal GM followers say they'd work their way up the General Motors ladder just like one might with career or a home.

In the last few decades the leaders of GM have lost sight of what the marks meant.

The news outlets, today, are mentioning Pontiac's storied 82-year heritage. In my opinion this figure could be shaved a few years. The arrowhead may have been around for just shy of a century, but for the last several decades looking too far past that logo on the grille would reveal a bowtie. True Pontiac heritage ceased sometime in the late seventies when GM stopped production of PMD engines and began substituting Chevrolets. Since 1926, the Pontiac has been a symbol for affordable performance. If the leadership at the GM had stuck to this core value after the oil embargo, and found ways to create efficiency while maintaining what made a Chief a Chief, they might not have had to pull their proverbial heads our of their asses only to have them land on the chopping block nearly forty years later.

GM saves money by building similar sized cars on the same chassis. I get that. I understand that it would be redundant to "reinvent the wheel" when sharing some of the basic parts of automaking. But putting differently shaped body panels and interior fabrics on a Vega and calling it the "all new Astre" doesn't a Pontiac make.

A Chevy engine with differently tuned exhaust is still a Chevy. Hello, Malibu.

It's been a damned shame to watch Pontiac deteriorate to an overly-styled, funky and just plain weird brand. As I watched the ugly, bulbous, overdone blobs clad with rubbery door "refinements" and oddly-designed taillamps give way to the a cleaner, sleeker designs of the last few years I thought I was beginning to see a glimmer of the Pontiac that I remember -- one that I'd grown to love. Unfortunately, now, I'll never know if they were headed in the right direction because there simply hasn't been enough time for the transformation to be embraced. It was too little, too late.

GM has a big task in turning the what's left of the company around. And it's going to be complicated, costly and leave many out in the cold. It's sickening.

I am interested in seeing if anyone makes an attempt to keep Pontiac alive under a new umbrella. In the meantime, I can take pride in my little piece history. The Grand Prix has become a bit more special to me as it joins the ranks of fallen horses like Deusenberg, Packard, Studebaker and Oldsmobile. I'm happy that it didn't sell after two, week-long listings on eBay.

Read more GM news here. And here.

21 April 2009

Where are the Adults?

This is so sad. I don't know why situations like this can't seem to be prevented. Where were the authority figures at this child's school? Where were the parents of the attackers? I'll be watching this story. I want to see accountability.

Family says bullying led boy, 11, to hang himself

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Dekalb County school officials are mum about allegations that bullying at Dunaire Elementary School may have led 11-year-old Jaheem Herrera to commit suicide last week.

Public information officer Dale Davis said Tuesday morning that officials are legally unable to comment on student-related records, such as whether Herrera’s mother Masika Bermudez had complained to the school about possible bullying.

A photograph of Jaheem Herrera, 11, hangs above a poster on the front door of the family’s Dekalb apartment, all part of a makeshift shrine to the dead boy. Curtis Comption/

On Thursday afternoon, after returning home from school, fifth-grader Jaheem quietly went into his room and hanged himself. His 10-year-old sister, Yerralis, also a fifth-grader, discovered Jaheem’s dead body. “His sister was screaming, ‘Get him down, get him down,’” said Norman Keene, who helped raise Jaheem since the boy was two years old.

When Keene got to the room, he saw Yerralis holding her brother, trying to remove the pressure of the noose her brother had fashioned with a fabric belt.

Jaheem was bullied relentlessly, his family said. Keene said the family knew the boy was a target, but until his death they didn’t understand the scope.

“We’d ask him, ‘Jaheem, what’s wrong with you?’” Keene recalled. “He’d never tell us.”

He didn’t want his sister to tell, either. She witnessed much of the bullying, and many times rose to her brother’s defense, Keene said.

“They called him gay and a snitch,” his stepfather said. “All the time they’d call him this.”

In an interview with WSB-TV, Bermudez also said her son was being bullied at school. She said she had complained to the school.

She said she asked him about the bullying Thursday when he came home from school and he denied it. She sent him to his room to calm down. It was the last time she would see him alive.

Bermudez told WSB she talked to Jaheem’s best friend about the situation last week.

“He said, ‘Yes ma’am. He told me that he’s tired of everybody always messing with him in school. He is tired of telling the teachers and the staff, and they never do anything about the problems. So, the only way out is by killing himself,’ ” Bermudez told WSB.

Spokesman Davis said the school sent out a notice to parents alerting them to the death. A crisis team was sent to the school Friday and grief counselors are on hand to help students, he said.

Dekalb Public Schools are working to prevent issues such as bullying and to promote tolerance through a national program called “No Place for Hate,” said Jennifer Errion, assistant director of student support services, prevention-intervention.

The program, sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League and begun in Dekalb schools in 2007, helps train faculty and students on accepting differences, promoting diversity and inclusion.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Errion said of Herrera’s death. “Unfortunately, prevention is not a vaccine. We have a society that is often misguided. We’ve created the idea that bullying is a rite of passage, and I don’t think it is.”

Earlier this month the suicide of a Massachusetts boy, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover — who suffered taunts that he was gay — attracted national attention.

He was also 11. His mother found him hanging from an extension cord in the family’s home.

Jaheem was excelling academically, Keene said, adapting quickly to his new home. The family moved to the Avondale Estates area less than a year ago from St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Last winter, his grandmother died from cancer. She was living with the family at the time.

His grandfather returned to St. Croix after his wife’s passing. He’s taking Jaheem’s death especially hard. “He says he has nothing to live for now,” Keene said. The family had planned a trip home in June. They’ll be returning next Monday instead to bury their 11-year-old son.

— Staff writer Katie Leslie contributed to this report.

10 April 2009

Good Friday

It's been a while since I've posted on dminmem. I guess I've become a Facebook whore, but the cache, and therefore the obsession, is wearing off I think.

While there have been lots of things going on around here I don't think I have much about which to post. A short list might include that Cameron is commuting to and flying out of Atlanta, now. Or, that I bought a new car. Or, that we bowled dismally in the St. Patrick's Invitational Tournament and for the first time in history Whatever (our bowling team) isn't in the top three in league standings. This half of the season were in the bottom three. And, after last week we're likely in last place.

I've been attempting to recount my recent trip to Louisville for my dad's quintuple bypass surgery but it's been slow going. Each time I look at the draft I end up editing it because I think it's boring which pretty much guarantees that you will, too. Of course, if I'm realistic I know that many of my posts are just that.

So, while I leave here to pull together Easter dinner plans, I'll contemplate ways to make dminmem a place that you might want to visit. Until then, good day!