Does Belinda Curse Magna?

First it was revealed that Magna Corp was not the winning bidder in the Chrysler deal (contrary to many reports). The latest slight against the Stronachs (and that Russian billionaire who bought into the company) is the loss of the X3.

Specifically, Magna Steyr (who, you may remember, is building the KTM X-Bow) has lost the production contract for the BMW X3 SAV (which is Bayerische-speak for SUV).

Now here's my take on all this. Now that Magna has allll this extra production space (though, does anybody buy X3's? You see 5 X5's for every 1 X3 ... but I digress), and since KTM has given them the XBow contract, I predict increased XBow production!

I read somewhere that there was a limited number of XBows that could be assembled yearly, due to the production capabilities of Magna Steyr's Austrian facility. Now that we have more space, we can have more XBows! The only downer (for KTM fans, not for Magna) is that the BMW contract extends until 2010 ... so if my predictions prove correct (which they rarely do), you can buy an XBow instead of Olympic tickets ($60,000 = 1 men's hockey ticket).


General Motors shenanigans du jour

So I'm not sure if I ever actually wrote about it in this blog, but if you're aware of the Gwen Stefani song "The Sweet Escape" (and really, who isn't?!?), you may also be aware of the music video for said song. In the video, Gwen and Akon are rocking out a Chevrolet SUV (Tahoe I believe?) in the most blatant of ways. Honestly, the entire video appears to be nothing more than an extended Chev commercial (instead of playing a snippet of a song, they play the whole thing).

Well, GM has gone and done it again. Though the product placement is not as blatant in the 50 Cent video for "Amusement Park", it's far more improbable. Once upon a time, the only GM cars that rappers would roll in were '64 Impalas. Now we have Fiddy and friends posing with ... the Pontiac G6 GXP and to-be-released G8. Oh dear!

Though only enjoying 4 seconds of screen time (although I'm sure GM paid dearly for those 4 seconds), these cars have no business ... anywhere.

To be perfectly fair, I'm not a big fan of the Pontiac division of GM, so my opinions may be somewhat biased.


Olivier Jacques + Kawasaki = no France for you!

Well, the post title is kind of cryptic. But I'll break it down like this: Olivier Jacques (who was hired by Kawasaki to save their image in MotoGP) has crashed in a fire-y blaze (not really ... no flames involved), and won't be able to race at his "home" Grand Prix in France.

Jacques crashed during Free Practice prior to the Chinese GP, and has been having issues with the arm injury he sustained. An infection has led to a lack of mobility in his throttle arm, though he wasn't really fast anyways, so who needs a throttle? (just kidding)

While I'm not questioning the 33 year old's desire ... I just have to bring up the infamous ClusterFuck '06, in which a whole bunch of riders went down with various injuries. You may remember Rossi riding with a broken throttle hand and brake foot? Or Sete riding with ... whatever the hell was wrong with Sete? Regardless ... I'm pretty sure a broken hand is much worse than an infection that you JUST noticed. Suck it up Olivier!

Poor Belinda ...

Well, as you probably (maybe?) know, Chrysler has been sold. The disappointing part of that news is that Belinda will not be the new Queen of Chrysler. No, allegedly the reports that Magna Corp was the #1 prospect were mistaken (or false).

Instead, ze Germans have sold Chrysler to Cerberus. "Hmmm" you're thinking. "I've never heard of a Cerberus-made car. Perhaps they, like Magna, make parts?"

You're mistaken ... Cerberus makes neither cars NOR parts. They make money. Cerberus Capital Management is a New York-based private equity firm that likes to buy stuff (including National/Alamo car rentals, Blue Bird buses, 51% of GM's finance firm, Remington guns, etc).

Buzz Hargrove was all uppity, worrying that the sale would lead to job cutting, but Cerberus has signed a written agreement stating that no jobs would be lost. Impressive!

Honestly, Chrysler was on a downhill slope anyways. This can't really do anything bad to the company.


New Google Analytics Layout

... I'm not sure how I feel about it. It has a more "pretty" feel (graphically appealing, I suppose), but it seems slightly bigger and bulkier (and I don't mean that in a good way) than the old version.


Keaton Ellerby Blogs His Way to '07 Draft

I wrote previously about the '07 NHL entry draft, and named a few individuals whom I found to be interesting, given their BC connections. One of these players, Keaton Ellerby, has been given the opportunity, by NHL.com, to blog about his experiences leading up to the draft. There's only one post up thus far (you can find it here), and I'm not sure if the blog is going to be updated daily, or weekly, or not at all.

While not the best written material (he's a hockey player ... cut him some slack), it's definitely an interesting read. I love that the Blogosblogs have given us a way to peer into the minds of individuals who are in situations in which we will never find ourselves.


Oh snap! I missed game 1

So I kind of forgot that the Eastern Conference Final was played in the eastern time zone. So as I was at Save-On grocery shopping this afternoon (early evening, I suppose), I thought "oh snap! I'm missing the game". Once back in the car, I quickly switched to Team 1040am, just as they were wrapping up the broadcast.

So, while I have no personal insight into the game, I can comment on the results:
- Ottawa's top players were their best players. If that makes sense. Their #1 line did it's job (getting points), whereas the #1 line of Buffalo was non-existent
- Daniel Alfredsson for the Conn Smythe trophy. 'nuff said.
- "Sugar Ray" Emery probably isn't liked much in Buffalo. He needs to prove to them (and me) that he can be a #1 goalie
- Ottawa out shot, and generally outplayed the Sabres. I'm sure the rest of the series won't be so one-sided.


Casey Stoner, eh?

I admit that this post is about 2 days too late, but I felt it was still relevant to comment on last weekend's MotoGP race in China. After an amazing qualifying run, Rossi just didn't have what it took to beat the raw power of the Ducati GP7, ridden by Stoner.

The "wonder from down under" finished the race with a solid 3 second lead on Rossi, who just couldn't keep up. Rossi was constantly battling, and gave Stoner an excellent run, but a late-braking mistake with 7 laps remaining caused Rossi to fall significantly back, a loss he could not recoup.

John Hopkins performed amazingly in China as well (3rd place), which must make the Rizla Suzuki team happy as pigs in mud (especially when you consider teammate Chris Vermeulen's 7th position finish). The Suzuki team finally seems to be coming into its own, and could be a force to reckon with in subsequent races.

The elder Ducati rider, Loris Capirossi ended the race in 6th position, a full 26 seconds back of Stoner. I'm not sure what's up with Capirex this season, but it appears as though his age is finally starting to show. After an exceptional year last season, and the incredible gift of a bike Ducati has presented him with, I definitely pictured him near the top of the point standings at this point in MotoGP season.

Also notable in China was the 12th place finish of Honda rider (and current #1 plaque-holder) Nicky Hayden. This is another wretched season that cannot be blamed on the bikes, given the success of Hayden's teammate, Dani Pedrosa. It seems as though "The Kentucky Kid" just can't handle the heat of being #1.

Final standings (Top 5) in Shanghai:
1. Casey Stoner (DUC) - 44'12.891
2. Valentino Rossi (YAM) - 44'15.927
3. John Hopkins (SUZ) - 44'19.554
4. Dani Pedrosa (HON) - 44'26.981
5. Marco Melandri (HON) - 44'30.167

Current World Standings (Top 5):
Casey Stoner (DUC) - 86
Valentino Rossi (YAM) - 71
Dani Pedrosa (HON) - 49
Marco Melandri (HON) - 41
John Hopkins (SUZ) - 39


Rossi is Awesome; Claims Pole

After a fairly disappointing race a couple of weeks ago, Valentino Rossi is back on top of his game in China. He put in a spectacular lap in the last quarter of the qualifying session, and will start tomorrow's race in the #1 spot.

Beside Rossi (1'58.424), in the #2 position, is John Hopkins (1'59.315), who was first after yesterday's FP2. Hopkins and Suzuki are obviously looking to make themselves contenders in the premier class of motorcycle racing, and seem to be doing well in that regard. Of note, however, Hopkin's best qualifying lap was nearly a full second slower than that of Rossi. Rounding up the front row is Rossi's Fiat-Yamaha teammate, Colin Edwards (1'59.406).

Casey Stoner, who currently leads the individual points championship, will be starting in 4th position (1'59.516) after having some mechanical issues with his number one GP7 Ducati, and then qualifying on his back-up cycle.

Other riders of note: De Puniet - 7th (1'59.985); Hayden - 9th (2'00.087); Capirossi - 14th (2'00.369)

Full results can be found at the MotoGP website.


David W.K. Acheson Appointed Head of Food Safety

Announced today by the FDA, David W.K. Acheson has been named the "Food safety czar". Acheson, the author of such books as "Safe Eating: Protect Yourself and Your Family Against Deadly Bacteria", is currently acting as the chief medical officer of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, and will work in his new position alongside FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach to ensure the safety of food products for Americans.

While this is a significant step forward for food safety in the USA, I wonder if a similar position should be created in Canada. Here in the great white north we have issues very similar to those found in the States. For instance, the same spinach imported to the USA that contained E. coli also came to us in Canada. Canada has also had a number of outbreaks that have not affected our southern neighbours.

After hearing a speaker today from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, I've realized how drastically understaffed our food protection groups are. There are so many issues on national and regional levels that simply cannot be addressed by the few employees that are able. As well, the huge reams of paperwork associated with typical food packaging/processing inspections are inhibitory to quick, effective action.

The government of Canada needs to follow the lead of the Americans on more than just half-assed environmental policy, and implement an equivalent qualified and educated individual to oversee food safety.


Belinda to Spearhead Chrysler?

Everybody who's anybody in the world of cars knows that the DCX board wants to get rid of its Chrysler division (specifically because it "cheapens" the image of the other brands), and that a number of potential suitors have been named.

Now, there's really no need for those of us who don't own Daimler-Chrysler stocks to really care about any of this, but as a Canadian, and one who tends to follow federal politics, I'm liking the Belinda spin on this story.

Ms. Stronach decided to leave federal politics, in order to return to the company founded by her father, Frank Stronach. She will act as executive-vice chairperson, and I'm sure she has the potential to move up the ladder (there's no glass ceiling when your father's the company founder). You can read all about that story here.

Magna is, according to News WLNS, the current leader in the race to own Chrysler, and is apparently also the take-over bidder most supported by the various unions of Chrysler. This could be one of the leading reasons Ms. Stronach decided to leave politics, and go back to the autoparts giant. Why deal with sexism and being called a dog, when you can own Dodge?

In other Magna news, the previously mentioned X-Bow is being assembled by Magna-Steyr, the Austrian subsidiary of Magna (which also assembles Chrysler products).

KTM X-BOW up to 600+ Units Production

I've been a fan of the Austrian company KTM for quite a while. When I was a young gaffer, a family friend had a 500cc KTM dirtbike of which I was completely enamoured. I'm still a huge fan of their dirtbikes, and even the SuperDuke. When KTM announced the possible production of the RC8, their V-twin superbike, the combination of bright orange paint and a 990cc, 2-cylinder engine was enough to make me forget what the probable price-point would be.

KTM has now ventured away from the 2-wheeled realm, and into pure, unadulterated 4-wheel bliss. The X-BOW (or maybe X-Bow?) pictured above is a carbon-fibre-bodied, open-wheeled coupe which is most likely destined for not much more than rain-free track days. I picture a glorious world in which I have one of these parked in my garage, where I can select it for the daily commute. This dream of mine has come closer to reality, according to a recent article in Business Week. While the original production run was supposed to be no more than 100 units, KTM has received such support for the vehicle that they have firm orders for 600 cars, and plans to expand production to 1000 per annum.

The original price mentioned for the 100 units was around USD$55,000 (40,000 Euros), though actual MSRP is expected to be lower, given the higher number of units being produced. I can't think of any better way to spend $61,295CAD (as of today's dollar) than on this 300hp package of pure sex. There are more practical vehicles you could buy for that cost ... but who ever said practicality was a good thing?

image courtesy of Autoblog