Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Years Eve !!!

Buy Foreign Made and Support Layoffs

'A kick in the stomach': massive GM layoffs leave workers distraught – and angry

I often share the KOGOD Auto Index to try and help people understand how their choices impact US workers.  I mean liberals often vilify businesses for laying off American workers and destroying Unions as they buy their low domestic content vehicle.

Top 10 Small Cars
Top Sedans

The unfortunate reality as shown in the numbers is that most Americans don't seem to care where their money goes, which workers it supports or which country's taxes they are paying as long as they get the car they want for the price they deem acceptable.

Now 2 of my family's 6 cars are low domestic content vehicles for some strange timing and requirement reasons, however I always put "domestic content" as one factor of my buying criteria.  And since I don't cry about unions, minimum wages, the sad plight of American workers, evil companies off shoring jobs, etc... I am not being a hypocrite when I do buy foreign.

By the way, some foreign brands have high North American content models and some US brands have low North American content models, so look closely before you buy.

Finally, please remember that if you do choose to buy that Toyota Prius, Lexus, Nissan Rogue Sport, Mazda, Kia Soul, Volvo, BMW sedan, Subaru, Mercedes, Audi, etc it does not make you anymore evil than the companies that layoff American workers.  It just means that like them, you are a capitalist who is optimizing for your benefit.  The difference of course is that if companies do not make these hard choices they go bankrupt and everyone loses their jobs, where as you just end up driving a high domestic content vehicle that was not your first choice.  :-)

Sunday, December 30, 2018

More Mercury and Toxins in the Air?

Trump EPA Says Mercury Limits On Coal Plants Too Costly, Not 'Necessary'

FOX Business EPA Roll Back

USA Today Funny Math

In summary:

  • Mercury and co-benefits together justified the cost
  • Trump admin calculations ignore the co-benefits
  • Therefore they think pumping more mercury, soot and other toxins out of the smoke stacks is a good idea
  • Even though the plants have already been upgraded
  • Thankfully MN is dropping these quickly and few of them are upwind from me...

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Cost of Power Generation

Jerry has been trying to convince me over here that the new sources of electricity are still way too expensive.  So I read some of his links and also found these interesting current sources.

IRENA RenewablePowerGenerationCosts in 2017
FORBES Renewable Energy Will Be Consistently Cheaper
What I think I know based on this study is that the alternative energy sources were initially expensive and unreliable...  Since I am an engineer this makes perfect sense to me, I mean usually when developing new technologies and equipment:
  • there is a steep learning curve (ie very high new content)
  • the more complex, the more challenging (ie work in rain, sun, snow, hail, etc for decades)
  • it takes multiple generations to debug concepts, designs, etc
  • given the long life of this equipment, those generations are measured in decades
  • costs at low volume are HIGH, so volume matters
My point being that the costs of the old equipment and it's development are in no way predictive of what costs will be for the modern generations of the same equipment / technology.  I am sure these industries will continue to learn, improve and reduce costs. Thoughts?
This is an interesting piece explaining the big changes that have occurred in wind.
"Noble's company, Wintec Energy, eventually replaced its 212 original turbines with 35 larger machines. Those were later replaced with five even larger machines. Today, the five turbines generate six times as much energy as the original 212, Noble said.
"It's just the difference between a Model T Ford and a Porsche," he said."

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Charity or Enabling?

So one of my FB friends linked to this sweet piece.

Which seems somewhat aligned to Moose's comment regarding healthcare over here. "How about we look out for the needs of our neighbors, as Christians in a ‘Christian Country’ must do?"

To which I responded... "Moose, Unfortunately your vision of Christian is usually a bit too: Promoting Dependency for Me... How do you want to hold people responsible for making good life choices, living healthy, paying their way, avoiding being on the dole, etc?"

Now please remember I am a big fan of charitable giving to:

  • help people improve and escape poverty
  • help people during disasters
  • help people who are ill
  • care for the truly disabled
However I am not a big fan of charitable giving to:
  • enable people to stay dysfunctional
  • enable people to have more children than they can care for
  • manipulators and con artists
 So I usual give significant amounts to organizations who help those in need, and avoid giving blindly to those standing on the street. So what does that say about my character?

And for those who do give to street beggars... What does that say about their character?

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Money Management

CNN Money Wall Street craves certainty but all it's getting is chaos

Well the good news is that I feel better now.  See...

  • back in middle to late 2017 I moved about 40% of our IRA type holdings to a combination of cash and bond funds, by that time I was pretty sure we were in for a wild ride
  • I mean with Trump being a loose cannon and the USA being over due for a recession / correction, it was just a matter of time.
  • so for the past 1+ years I have been kicking myself for not holding out for that top value...
  • well now the market is below where I sold and I am pretty happy
  • I mean not as happy as if I had held it all and sold it all at the peak... :-)
  • But happy all the same... 

Now for the BIG questions...

  • Should I move more to safer waters? I mean we are still way above the 2012 value
  • Should I buy something, there will likely be a bounce soon. If only temporary.
  • When will be the correct time to move back to 100% stocks? 

When I was younger and the value of our portfolio was much smaller, it was easy to just stay 100% in through the ups and downs...

  • I was buying more monthly relative to my holdings, so dollar cost averaging had great power.
  • And the value of my holdings were small, so 30% down was a modest value.

For better or worse, now a 30% swing is equal to years of my annual wage...  And I am not excited to give that wealth up without a fight. So though I will stay at least 50% in...  I am going to try some educated timing.  We will see how this goes...  Just remember the rules:

  • When EVERYONE is excited about stocks, think about selling.
  • When NO ONE wants to talk about stocks, think about buying.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Wind Farm Update

The Suburbs in 2020

Minnpost After the 2018 election, do Democrats own the suburbs — or are they just renting them? By Greta Kaul

I believe that most outer suburban voters are somewhat fiscally conservative and socially liberal...  So it is going to be a question of which party controls their extremist factions best...

The GOP lost the suburbs this time because of the antics of Trump and their inability or lack of desire to say no to the Freedom Caucus and Religious Right.

Since I see no change occurring in the GOP for at least the next 2 years, I see the DEMs keeping control unless they bow to their Congressional Progressive Caucus, all abortions are good, the more illegals allowed in is good and the socialism rocks folks.

Let the contest continue.  :-)

Monday, December 17, 2018

Brexit Referendum 2.0?

VOX The case for holding a second Brexit referendum
Meet the group that wants to call “Bracksies” on Brexit

It is strange to me that Theresa May is so against having a second referendum now that folks have a better idea of what the consequences of Brexit would be...

At 48% to 52% , it isn't like Brexit had a huge majority...

Here is a relevant opinion piece.


Sunday, December 16, 2018

Dr Roy Spencer

Here is some information from a catastrophic climate change denier that at least seems based somewhat in science

And here is what some catastrophic climate change believers think of his work.

Here is a wikipedia site dedicated to him.

Of course there is the question of his religious beliefs and how that impacts his scientific findings.

"Spencer is a signatory to "An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming",[32][33] which states that "We believe Earth and its ecosystems—created by God’s intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence —are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting, admirably suited for human flourishing, and displaying His glory. Earth’s climate system is no exception. Recent global warming is one of many natural cycles of warming and cooling in geologic history."[34] "

Saturday, December 15, 2018

A New Threat to ACA?

CNN Federal judge in Texas strikes down Affordable Care Act

Whenever I think the GOP is done harming themselves, they go an do it again.  Apparently this judge argues that since the tax penalty is now $0, the individual mandate is now unconstitutional.  And since the mandate is key to ACA, the whole law is now in question.

One has to remember that overall:

  • ACA is more popular than unpopular
  • The GOP has no better solution
  • Everyone may experience a severe physical or mental illness
  • Everyone should be paying for high quality insurance that will cover those possible expenses
  • Letting citizens buy bargain bare bones insurance, or worse no insurance, just transfers those costs to the rest of  us.
It will be interesting to see where this leads and what the consequences will be in 2020...

Monday, December 10, 2018

Who Wants to Work for Trump?

It does amaze me that anyone is willing to go work for our President in our White House...  I mean he has a 2 year history of praising people as he hires them, to vilifying and insulting them as they leave...

I can't even imagine what he is like in person...  Thoughts?
White House: Help Wanted
Trump Scrambles to Find Chief of Staff
Who is in the running
Ayers Declines Job
Dumb as a Rock

By the way, I am headed for China again...  So I will write when the Great Firewall allows. :-)

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Charters vs Traditional Public Schools

We are arguing AGAIN over here about if Charter or Traditional Public Schools (TPS) are better. The above graphic come from a CREDO NY Study. (CREDO Site)  Now I agree with the factors they use to match and compare schools:
  • Grade level
  • Gender
  • Race/Ethnicity
  • Free or Reduced Price Lunch Status
  • English Language Learner Status
  • Special Education Status
  • Prior test score on New York state achievement tests
Except.  How does one account for what the child'(s) parent(s) are like?  Please remember that I think student success is 70% due to their parent(s) and community, and ~30% due to the school /teachers.

Now a Charter and TPS may be in the same community with similar student demographics, and have TOTALLY DIFFERENT parental demographics.  Please remember that the TPS is the default
  • The TPS gets every unlucky child who's parent do not make the effort or know enough to do anything special academically for their child(ren).  
  • The Charter will only have families where the parent(s) are aware, motivated and cared enough about academics to get their lucky child enrolled.
Now Jerry loves Charters and Vouchers for this reason. They make it easier for concerned and capable parent(s) with Lucky children to run from their Unlucky neighbor children who have Deadbeat or incapable parent(s).

Just like when parent(s) who can afford it move to a more expensive neighborhood with "better schools"...  Which we all know means "neighborhood with more capable people"...

So to me Charters and Vouchers have an upside in that more Lucky kids (ie good capable parents & no significant special needs) can get into schools with more kids like themselves.  The downside of course is that leaves the TPS with an ever higher density of Unlucky kids.  At which time the Charter school advocates:

  • Blame the TPS for failing with the most challenging families...
  • Praise the Charter for helping out the simplest families...

It is kind of like when people say that Wayzata district is better than Robbinsdale... Which is so silly since you are comparing apples and oranges. So my questions as always...
  • Do some Charters do better than the local TPS because they have the neighborhood kids with capable responsible parent(s) and the TPS got the dregs?
  • Do some Charters do worse than the local TPS because they have a much higher population of parent(s) who have low English capability? (family chose "Somali Charter school" to avoid change / assimilation) 
  • How do we really know which schools are doing well because of their systems, employees, curriculum?
  • How do we know which schools are doing well because the have good capable family / parental / community support?

Saturday, December 8, 2018

What Do Teachers Want?

We have been arguing about many school related things... Then someone asked a simple question... "When was the last time anyone talked to a teacher?"

To which I replied. "Whenever I try to talk to teachers about any of these topics... They say that "I can not understand because I am not a Teacher..." Like teaching is somehow different from every other job, organization, management system, etc in the world. Apparently they and their situation is different from us normal humans..."

This however did get me thinking about:
  • What do teachers want?
  • How do they think we can eliminate the achievement gap?
From the conversations I have had with Teachers, they want some pretty normal logical things:
  • To be fairly compensated for their work
  • To have job security and benefits
  • To have capable Supervisors who support their efforts
  • To have reasonable class sizes
  • To have children enter their classroom adequately prepared for the content that is to be taught (ie pre-requisites, behaviors, etc)
  • Parent(s) who want to and are capable of partnering in the development of their children.
  • To have very disruptive students removed from their class (EBD, etc)
  • Respect
Then there are those ones I question:
  • To be able do things their own way (ie curriculum, content, etc)
  • To be paid based on degrees and years served , rather than based on performance and responsibility levels
  • To be able to resist the goals of the school board and administrators
What have I missed here and how do the above help to eliminate the academic achievement gaps?

Monday, December 3, 2018

Easier to Become a MN Teacher?

MinnPost Thinking about switching career paths to become a teacher? It’s daunting, but might be getting easier

Historically the Teachers Union has worked hard to keep non-traditional candidates out of the classroom in MN.  I mean they want to limit competition just like many other worker groups.

Maybe things will improve...  Though I kind of doubt with the DEMs obtaining more control in the State.  They do tend to support ED MN no matter how it harms the Unlucky kids. :-(

MN Welfare Per Capita Spend is #5

I know this should not have surprised me, but it did... Especially since many of the Blue "Ocean States" did not even make the Top 10. 

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Dangers of Early School Enrollment

Continuing from G2A EITC regarding my view on How to Win the War on Poverty
"Unfortunately focusing on only this one. "5.The welfare payments and service should be set up to make recipients work, learn, mature and improve their self sufficiency."Leaves a lot of kids hungry, homeless and poor...That's why excellent sex education, free birth control and even early term abortions are so important. Unfortunately those are three things that are not allowed in the Bible Belt...Well that and that they prefer to spend little on their early childhood education, K-12, and Higher Ed." G2A
"You need to see this-- not all of your solutions pass the test:Harvard Study Shows the Dangers of Early School Enrollment"  Jerry
I agree with the Harvard results.  Sending children into an academic setting before their brain development is where it needs to be to accomplish that curriculum can be frustrating and detrimental to the child. So we agree:

Age and child appropriate curriculum, methods and expectations are critical.

However this in no way means that sending children to pre-school is a bad thing.  It just means that those programs need to focus on age and child appropriate activities.  Some academic focus, but  mostly they focus on physical, social, problem solving, emotional, behavioral and other things that will help them develop well and learn effectively when they do enter kindergarten.

RDale Early Childhood Education
MN DOE Early Childhood Indicators of Progress by Topic
MN DOE School Readiness

Please remember that I am more concerned about the millions of unlucky kids in America who enter kindergarten without these basic capabilities.  Which leads to them staying academically behind their luckier peers who were ready to start learning on day 1...

Now I have known Parents who want to push their children faster than their child's physical, social, cognitive, emotional, etc current capabilities...  That is a totally different issue.