Welcome to Must Read, where we single out the best stories from around the automotive universe and beyond. Today we've got reports from Slate, AteUpWithMotor, and ArsTechnica.
We're talking a lot about the Detroit bankruptcy lately, but what of other organizations that fail? Why do they? It's through the prism of The Wire which is, ultimately, a tale of a withering city. This is also applicable to car companies.
And it had a lot to do with bad management. There’s too much personnel turnover in the drug trade for managerial rot to really set in—for the Microsoft analogy on The Wire, you’d look not just to Avon Barksdale’s intransigence but to his nemeses in the Baltimore police department, with its toxic strains of authoritarianism, politics-playing, bean-counting, and pure sloth. Consider Windows Vista, the much-maligned follow-up to the genuinely decent Windows XP. It took five years to produce something that was far worse than its predecessor. Three years into it, in mid-2004, they threw out all the code and started over. There was a big reorg then, too, just like now. Reorgs are the product of endless turf wars between executives and keep managers occupied with PowerPoint charts. Reorgs keep peons nervous about where the axe will fall, as does the brutal zero-sum stack rank review system that dictates that every good performance review in a group must be balanced by a bad one—and thus that you can only excel if your peers fall behind.
The cops are tracking my car—and yours – arstechnica
So, the police are tracking your cars using license plate readers. What does that mean? Can you get that info? What are they tracking?
“My problem with this whole thing is not LPR in general; it's a way for an officer to do things faster and more thoroughly than they did before. Now, if they flag a stolen car, it beeps and gives a visual alert on the screen. I think all that's fine. The problem is that most of the information, 99.5 percent of the information they gather is information of people that are not suspected of nor charged with any crime. Now we have law enforcement gathering information on innocent people that can be used in other ways. [Is it used] to develop probable cause, or could it be used for other things? Are you a customer of a medical marijuana dispensary? Do you go to church on Sundays? Are you an attractive woman that I want to find out where [you] frequent? People say ‘I have nothing to hide’—but everybody has something to hide.”
Class Acts, Part 1: The Triumph 2000 and 2.5 PI Mk 1 – Ate Up With Motor
And speaking of organizations that didn't make it, here's one at its height.
The dilemma for Standard was that it was a medium-size company grappling with giants. Ford and Vauxhall were subsidiaries of two of the world's largest automakers, while Hillman, Sunbeam-Talbot, Humber, and Singer were all owned by the Rootes Group and in 1952, Austin Motors had merged with its longtime rival the Nuffield Organisation to form the enormous British Motor Corporation (BMC). While Standard could to some extent fall back on its tractor business, matching its rivals' economies of scale was a much more difficult proposition, complicated by the fact that BMC was busily snatching up suppliers like Fisher & Ludlow, which provided bodies for Standard's smaller 8 and 10. Standard's new managing director, Alick Dick, who had replaced the autocratic Sir John Black in early 1954, was already shopping around for merger partners, but to survive over the long term, Standard was going to need to rethink its product strategy.
Photos: WireInspire, Hulton Archive via Getty,