Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Confessing?

Hilliary Clinton has claimed that James Comey put a "shiv" into her campaign last year.  Of course, left unnoted by others is that a "shiv" or "shank" is an improvised knife used by prison inmates.  Confession by Hilliary about where she and Comey both belong?  I think so.

Electric car industry news

Tesla shows how it's not supposed to by done by firing hundreds of workers as part of their annual review process.  As if it's not stressful enough already, Musk forgets that one ought to minimize nasty surprises in annual reviews, and one has to wonder what Deming would have said about this--given that he famously called annual reviews one of the seven deadly diseases of mis-management, I am guessing that he'd have struggled to keep comment on Musk's move suitable for a family newspaper.


Worth noting as well is that Tesla achieved $7B of revenue with 33000 employees in 2016, whereas GM achieves $166 billion in sales with only 215000 workers.  So Tesla definitely needs some headcount reduction if they don't massively increase sales--and I would further posit that this employee bloat might have something to do with the massive subsidies Tesla receives at the federal, state, and local levels.


Also of note is this (very sympathetic) article about how the batteries on the Nissan Leaf seem to be at about half capacity at about 90,000 miles, or the equivalent of about 1300 full recharges with its 73 mile range.  If we round up to 100k miles life for a battery pack--we will assume the driver is a true masochist who doesn't mind recharging every 30 miles or so--we then find that the ~ 10000 pounds of carbon dioxide produced to make the batteries--and arguably the ~15000 pounds of carbon dioxide for the car itself--are spread not over 150k miles, but over 100k miles.  Not too many people are going to spring for a $6500 repair on a subcompact vehicle with 100k miles, after all. 


Which means before we ever start counting the electricity to charge the vehicle, we're talking about .25 lbs of carbon dioxide per mile emitted--50% higher for the Tesla.  Add the 0.2 (Leaf) to 0.4 kW-H (Tesla) electricity (from coal), and you've got a total emissions per mile on average of about 0.7 to 1.3 lbs of carbon dioxide per mile.  With natural gas for power, you're still looking at 0.5 to 1 lb/mile, really the same range as a standard gasoline powered vehicle....of a much larger size.

Reefer Happiness

A study has found that opioid deaths in Colorado dropped sharply--by about 180/year--after marijuana was legalized.  Now I'll concede that the graph in the article is a bit too "clean" for my taste--real data rarely looks that obvious--but if you scale for population (1 in 60 Americans live there), you would suggest that legalizing the drug nationwide could save over ten thousand lives per year.


I used to be a prohibitionist, but if the data hold up, I can get behind that, even if I have to deal with a few stoners as a result. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

It bears repeating

The Nation argues that huge policy changes are needed because 20 wealthy people own as much wealth as nearly half of Americans.  Me?  I'll do the math.


The article notes that these 20 people--really 20 families with ~ 50 people--control something like $732 billion in assets.  The article claims that 57 million households with 152 million people control less wealth than this.


Doing the math, we would see this amounts to just short of $5000/person, or about $13000 per family.  In other words, mean family wealth among the 1st-48th percentiles of our country is apparently about the same as the value of a good used car--in a country where almost all households own at least one vehicle. 


In other words, the problem is that for whatever reason, half the country really needs to discover what Walter Williams, Dave Ramsey, and others have been teaching for years.  Government's role is, sadly, mostly negative, as it prioritizes present consumption over savings and capital formation. 

Not denounced anymore?

This column by Jay Nordlinger suggests that unearthing mass graves left behind by Josef Stalin, and giving those whose bodies are interned there a reasonable memorial, is a "crime" for which a dissident named Yuri Dmitriev is being persecuted.  Now process that a minute; nobody in Germany raises a fuss if someone unearths evidence of the crimes of Hitler.  Nobody in Italy raises a fuss when someone produces more evidence of the crimes of Mussolini.


But in Russia today, evidently the minions of Vladimir Putin are seeing the memory of the world's second nastiest mass murderer (after Mao, by the way) as something inviolate.  It makes one wonder if Kruschev's denunciation of Stalin in the 1950s was just for show. 


Did the Soviet Union really crumble, or did it reorganize?  Evidence suggests that it's in the process of reorganization--this case, the rampant drug use among Russian athletes, and more. 



Monday, October 09, 2017

Want single payer health insurance?

Maybe, maybe not.  This article indicates that Britain's National Health Service has mandatory delays of up to a year for those patience deemed too fat--measured by BMI.  Moreover, half of medical residents in the country are quitting before they graduate.  One would infer that if you want to, you know, actually get healthcare, the NHS model is about the last place you'd want to look. 


And in the world of international weapons agreements, a German source indicates that the Iranians have tried to illegally procure technology useful for making things like ICBMs.  Maybe, just maybe, it's time to declare the Obama plan a dream and let the fur fly.  Far better to do so now than when they can fight back with a nuke, and if the Russians object, remind them that if they can hit Jerusalem, they will be able to hit Moscow, too.


Finally, some good news.  I've been something of a fan of runner Galen Rupp ever since he slowed to make sure training partner Mo Farah was OK after they'd collided, and it's good to see that he's followed up on his bronze medal in the Olympic Marathon in 2016 (and silver in the 10k in 2012) with a win in the Chicago Marathon

Friday, October 06, 2017

And some moderately good news

President Trump has greatly expanded the pool of companies allowed to omit contraceptive, plan B, sterilization, and IUD** coverage from health insurance, thus ending one of his predecessor's nastier examples of regulatory vandalism, the "you have the fun, we bill a nun" policy.  It's not quite as good as a full repeal of the regulation--my view is that any man who can't come up with $10/month for contraception really ought to be celibate--but it is a start.




** IUDs can interfere with implantation, and thus are not contraceptives.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

More fake news

Newsweak has come out with a "study" from Formswift that purports to show that the cost of President Trump's travel, said to be $32 million so far, would pay for 128 trips to and from Puerto Rico with supplies.  They do so simply by calculating the...cost of the fuel per trip, as if there is no expense for rent of the ships, crew expenses, loading, unloading, and the like.  They also use a unit of "ships", as if ocean transport is a one sized fits all equation, and not a reality of vessels of many different sizes, speeds, efficiencies, and the like.


By that logic, my driving expenses are only ten to twelve cents per mile, but as one who actually maintains a family budget, I know I'm actually getting off pretty cheaply at about four times that amount.  One would figure that a business would be able to figure out that there is more than one item on the debit or cost side of the spreadsheet, especially given that one of their products is, ahem, spreadsheets, but that would, apparently, be too much to expect of a liberal, politically driven company from San Francisco.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Watch out, Gino

A Swiss man's Jack Daniel's flag has been mistaken for an ISIS flag by worried neighbors.  According to this article, he was flying the Italian flag below a Jack Daniels flag in Switzerland, so naturally I have to wonder if he's related to Gino.  So for those who might be confused, this is the Jack Daniels flag.




Now there seems to be some similarity to the ISIS flag, starting with large script above a circle with smaller script in it, but....I would have expected people in Switzerland to be able to recognize a western European font and realize that someone flying the flag of "Jack Daniel's" just might be a fairly unlikely Islamist.  On the light side, you'll see a lot of amusing pictures if you google "ISIS Flag". 

On the Supreme Court's "gerrymandering" case

Here's a great article, courtesy of National Review, on the issues before the Supreme Court in the case that seeks to ostensibly "ban" gerrymandering.   More or less, it seeks to enshrine the principle of "proportional representation" so that states can be compelled to get a bunch of districts which are split about as evenly as possible between supporters of either party.  Historically, on the other hand, districts were chosen to be as homogeneous as possible--with the result that the choice in many districts choose "which kind of Republican or Democrat" instead of a Republican or a Democrat.


There are two graphs which illustrate the problems.  First, you've got the lines in Wisconsin, which follow city and county boundaries pretty well and are reasonably geographically compact.  The other example is the gerrymanders of Chicagoland, where inner city neighborhoods are lumped in with the suburbs, and city and county boundaries are not honored.


I can see a bunch of problems with Chicago's plan, starting with the fact that suburban residents in Illinois District 1, might not feel safe campaigning in most of the district--and the district's length (40 miles in Chicago traffic) makes campaigning difficult for all.   The next objection is that it really prevents people who differ politically from gaining office; both the South Side of Chicago and the far more conservative suburbs and rural areas in the district are cheated this way. 


Finally, it's worth noting that when districts are fairly evenly divided between the two major parties, that increases the likelihood that precincts like Burr Oak will decide elections--always a problem in Chicagoland, sad to say.


Really, what's at stake here stems mostly from the fact that many on the far left cannot even stomach the possibility of living in our midst, and thus segregate themselves into urban and university enclaves.  So while they tend to elect Minnesota's state bird, there are far fewer than there would be if leftists could learn to tolerate others.


Hopefully the Supreme Court makes the right decision, and helps keep the loons in the lake where they belong.

How to control illegal immigration...

...even if Congress never gets around to putting a reasonable barrier on our southern border?  Simple.  Fine companies who hire illegal immigrants heavily.   Tree trimming company Asplundh has learned the hard way, to the tune of $95 million, that hiring those who don't have a right to work here can be a very expensive way of saving money. 


I still advocate at least a vehicle barrier on the border, and a fence where practical, but at the same time, you've got to see what you can do about the "demand" side of the supply and demand graph for illegal immigration.  Well done, Mr. President.

Monday, October 02, 2017

Thoughts on the Las Vegas atrocity

Yes, it's a little bit early to say much--apparently we don't even know what the shooter's motivations were yet--and of course some have said that it comes down to having more gun control.  Of course, the kind of gun used last night has been banned since 1934, so maybe double-banning it will help?


For my part, though, what comes to mind is that churches I've attended, including the one I'm a member of now, have security teams whose task is to wander around the building while it's being used to watch for things going awry.  My pastors simply know that if things get out of hand, people simply won't come back. 


And as such, it strikes me that if the hotel in Las Vegas had had the same kind of thing going on, the police likely would have found the shooter much more quickly, possibly saving a number of lives.  Yes, you've got the cultural issue of "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" and all that, but on the flip side, the city can only afford so many disasters before people start wasting their hard-earned money spending their vacation dollars somewhere else.


Really, if sending a hotel employee to discreetly walk through the halls every 10-15 minutes would put that much of a crimp in their style, that's all the more reason to do so. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Just for fun; top 11 love songs

Since the weekend is coming, let's follow Elspeth's lead and come up with some good love songs for people to enjoy as they come home to their families. 


#11.  Aba Daba Honeymoon, Donovan, sung by Reynolds and Carpenter.


#10.  Good night, The Beatles (you'll have to buy the White Album to get this one...it's worth the money, especially for their tribute to the Beach Boys)


#9.  Honeysuckle Rose, Waller. Yes, I know this is Satchmo and not Fats, but he just drew a bead on the song in this recording.


#8.  You say it best when you say nothing at all, Overstreet, sung by Alison Krauss.  Keith Whitley's version is good, too.


#7. Home Sweet Home, Motley Crue.  The granddaddy of heavy metal power ballads. 


#6.  My Girl, The Temptations.  Why doesn't Mrs. Bubba let me get one of those sleek purple tuxes?


#5.  By the Light of the Silvery Moon, Edwards.  Just don't get caught by your dream man without a corset!


#4.  No one like you, Scorpions.  Thankfully most business trips are not to death row on Alcatraz.


#3.  All the fun, Overstreet.  Love in ordinary life and repentance from the "fun" of the world.


#2.  O Sole Mio, traditional rendered by Capurro, rendered by Pavarotti. 


#1.  Papageno, Mozart.  Malachi 2:15, just with credit given to the wrong One.





Who knew?

At least two members of Robert Mueller's "dream team" of investigators have left.  Now the departure of one is said to have been "expected", but let's face facts; top notch lawyers don't leave top flight investigations where they can make their reputation, and huge bank in the private sector, for no reason.


There are probably other explanations, but one major possibility--the most likely in my view--is that (a) the investigation is not going the way media reports suggest, (b) they're getting sick of the felonious leaks. 


In other words, some of Mueller's team have a conscience.  Who knew?


(either that, or they're going back to the FBI to throw a wrench in the works to stop things from coming back at Hilliary or Comey)

Thursday, September 28, 2017

That's about right

The Babylon Bee "celebrates" the life of Hugh Hefner, who died yesterday at age 91.  One might add that those who are the victims of the 27 common sexually transmitted infections, those who have been victimized by the notion of "safe" extramarital sex, those who have been pushed to abort their children by aggressive lovers, and the like will have a hearty thank you (redacted, rhymes with "duck shoe") for the life of Mr. Hefner.