Opinion: Doug Thompson and Daddy Warbucks

Chrysler again
By Doug Thompson

I thought I’d heard everything about Chrysler transmissions. Then I wrote a column about mine.

Now I’m told that putting a rear-wheel drive Chrysler, Plymouth or Dodge product in park while the engine idles will, over the course of time, ruin the transmission. That’s something I’d never heard before, but the reader who called insisted that’s what she was told at Fayetteville Transmission.

So I called Fayetteville Transmission and talked to Doug. Nice first name. Anyway, I was assured that this was advice he’d given before and would give again. He was very convincing. Still, giving out this information bothers me. Even if this latest revelation is true, I’m not sure how much time I’d spend applying it in a town as covered with hills as this one. Idling in neutral with your foot on the brake is not generally a good idea in a city that’s flattest, straightest street is called Rolling Hills.

I have a responsibility here, so I’ve decided to e-mail the “Car Talk” guys and ask about this. If I get an answer, I’ll repeat it in this space. There is nothing in this world I value so much as people who know what they’re talking about who are funny. I wouldn’t pass up giving material like this to those guys for anything.

Speaking of things that other people tell me, I recently wrote a column about the flop of the PlayStation 3. That should have included an insight given by a friend of mine just before that column went to press. We were talking about everything that went wrong with that product. Then he said that Sony’s big mistake was not making “God of War II” a PS3-only product.

Customers would have screamed. They would have picketed. They would have burned up the blogosphere with hate. And they would have bought a PS3. It will go down in history as Sony’s crucial mistake with the platform, he predicted.

I must agree with him. I’m not a PlayStation player and have never tried “God of War“ but recognize it as both massively popular and one of the few sure-fire hits that’s still a Sony exclusive.

However, there’s another factor at work in the PS3’s continued inability to gain ground. It’s time those of us who take games seriously have to admit something. If the little Nintendo Wii is just a fad, it’s some fad.

Readers of this space know that I think of the term “game console” as a very literal term. A console is nothing but the means to get to your game, and that was Sony’s crucial mistake.

The PS3’s terrific power is wasted because there are few games for it. I’ve said that since the platform was introduced. Now there’s an article from the Seattle “Times” that says, in part, “Wii games can cost anywhere from $1 million to $7 million and take less than a year to make, whereas a typical PS3 and (Microsoft) Xbox 360 game can cost more than $20 million and take more than a year to produce because of the complexity and high-level graphics involved.”

The silly little Wii had more and better games than either the PS3 or the Xbox 360 upon launch. It will also easily keep that lead. This has some serious implications.
Let me put it this way: The Wii and its novelty with the motion-dependent control may be just a fad. I’ll grant that. However, this supposedly fading “yippee” factor is followed up by a relatively endless supply of games. The novelty gets people to buy it. The games keep them coming.

Games are the point. This seemingly self-evident fact is something hardware-obsessed game industry analysts stubbornly refuse to admit.

Game industry analysts are like movie critics. They want what they do to be taken seriously. Therefore, they prefer something serious and impressive to something that’s fun.

My idea of fun is playing a Muslim faction in “Medieval 2: Total War” instead of a Catholic one so I don’t have to mess with the Pope. My idea of fun is weird. If I wasn’t weird, I’d buy a Wii. I might buy one anyway, and my “serious” game may well lose me.


XNA plans to expand

Plans for the expansion of Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport will help the area continue its role as a growing, thriving, economic engine for Arkansas. There will always be talk of getting a discount airline in the area. For those who live to deal with these discount carriers – good luck. Some of the worst airline adventures occur with these “best deal” airlines. The bulk of XNA travelers want dependable, reliable service without the possibility of overbooking and unacceptable delays. The public, however, may not see the expansion plan (except on paper) as most of the new infrastructure at the airport is away from the public viewing area. The newer gates and walkways to the planes are Spartan, but nice. Keep it going, keep it growing. Daddy W. just wishes more newsies would cover the XNA Board like they once did.

The feds made a b-i-g raid at a George’s processing plant in Missouri last week, detaining some 100 workers. This raid raises a big ethical question for the folks at George’s and all area poultry processors: How many times will the American public allow you to continue breaking immigration and employment laws before it affects your brand?  Some economic analysts say those practicing such behavior better watch out. The George family is a trusted name in poultry, banking and religion in the Springdale and NW Arkansas community, but how long before even local people react badly to this kind of behavior from its business and religious leaders?

Fewer Wal-Mart associates will be at this year’s annual shareholders celebration in Fayetteville this week. It seems the company has been scaling back on the number of associates coming in for the meeting. Also with the
shareholders session falling the week after Memorial Day, well, there’s been lots to get done. The Wal-Mart folks continue to showcase their associates from overseas at the meetings, while fewer associates from right here at home attend these sessions.

Well, the old Club West, isn’t gonna stay vacant long. Seems a new arrangement of letters on the marquee says Studio 62 Coming Soon. Wonder who’s behind this revival of this retired, or it is just tired, old Fayetteville nightspot?

Raid No. 2
It seems that the small, local chain or Taqueria Michoachan restaurants in Bentonville, Springdale and Lowell, were paid a surprise visit by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Several arrests, more than 20, were made. Tisk, tisk, tisk.  It’s hard enough to see if the workers in any restaurant (fast food or not) are being paid fairly.

Craig Harper, the high ranking J.B.Hunt Transportation, executive was recently the cover boy of the Arkansas Trucking Associations magazine back in April. Last time he was in this column he was jet setting back and forth to Dallas to be on an all-night trucker radio show touting the industry.

Coach Houston Nutt, who with all the stuff flying sideways on and off the football field, has been named the Central Arkansas Easter Seals Man
Of The Year. Congrats.

The state is gonna cut sales tax on food in half. Remember the promise of the legislature? Looks like it is gonna happen. Effective July 1, the gross receipts derived from the sale of food and food ingredients will be taxed at the reduced state sales and use tax rate of 3 percent. The gross receipts from the sale of prepared food, alcoholic beverages, dietary supplements and tobacco are subject to the full state sales and use tax rate of 6 percent. The Sales and Use Tax Section has scheduled seminars in all 75 counties to assist local businesses in the implementation of the reduced rate. For information: www.arkansas.gov/dfa/.

Categories: Legacy Archive