the Long of it ........

unintended consequences and other musings


WSJ 09292015

WSJ 09292015

Some hospitals are trying to remove the pain from needle sticks;  topical pain medicine, a buzzing bee to distract and hand illuminated vein finders.

It used to be true that raising clothes washer water temperature 18 deg F would double the cleaning -due to advances in detergent this is no longer true.  60-75 degree water temp seems to be the best for washing – Alaska and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan often have water at 40 deg and will need a newer machine that adds warm water.  Since most water heaters are set at 120 deg, a washing machine set on the hot setting cannot sanitize clothes – Chlorine bleach is the only way you can do this.

College football games are getting longer – 18 games are projected to be over four hours this year.

Recent Grads Doubt worth of Degree; 66% graduate with a debt of $35,000 – of these students only 33% agreed that the education was worth the debt.

Opinion Page:

The recent government rating of colleges left out the well known liberal arts Hillsdale College (Michigan).  The reason is murky but seems to be related to the fact that the college does not take federal funds and therefore does not report race numbers as required when receiving these tax dollars.  Lee…so it seems that the government is only rating colleges that are dependent upon tax dollars – are we all seeing this expansion of government power? 

Black Lives don’t matter when it comes to schools – minority students are often forced into the worst schools and kept from much more successful charter schools.  The liberal mayor of NYC, Bill de Blasio is a ‘good’ example of this.  Lee…Maybe it is time some communities close some local schools instead of burning local businesses. 


WSJ 09172015


CNN worked hard to try and set up confrontations in last nights debate and it worked to a degree – many of the candidates took turns trying to position Trump as unprepared for the presidency.  (Lee; not sure whether debate format helps CNN ratings but definitely did not help us peon’s determine policy positions.)

GM is close to completing a deal in which they will admit to wire fraud in the faulty ignition-switch case – they will have to fund victim compensation funds.

All eyes on the Federal Reserve Board today to see if they will raise rates – Wall Street has its doubts. (Lee – did not happen)

Student Loans has unintended consequences as the risk is not accounted for as it would be in a market economy.  While mortgage loans have a built-in limit to the appraised value of the house, college loans are not correlated to the value of the education.  Thus, we have extremely high default rates for two year community and private vocational degrees – this is primarily due to lower income and older students attending these institutions.  While charging interest rates of 35% is not feasible, having colleges share in any loan loss might improve the marketability of these degrees.   Currently, loans are subsidizing not just the needy, but the affluent and least deserving, the colleges.

Uninsured rates have dropped from 13.3% to 10.4% since Affordable Care Act implemented.  The number of uninsured fell by 8.8 million to 33 million.  Medicaid increased by 6.8M.  (Lee – would many Democrats have supported this if they knew that the law would only result in this incremental gain – we still have over 30M uninsured! – Increasing Medicaid for the most needy could have solved the same thing).

The Dickey is making a fashion comeback – remember the dickey – did you have one?…or like Lee, more than one?

California has a bit of irony with the recent fires; a severe fire season lasting one or two months can release as much carbon as the the annual emissions of the transportation or energy sector of an individual state.

Airports are now spacing airplane landings by time instead of distance to cut down on delays – innovative approach.

Cooks today are using a variety of types of flours to add flavors to their recipes.

Time to fill open positions in the US is now taking a record 29 days; some companies are experimenting with getting people hired in one week.

While Apple released OS 9 today, it has delayed the watch OS release due to a bug.

OPINION PAGE:  The President has not commented on the broad set of economic data released Wednesday and we think we understand why; it is not good.  The official rate of poverty (14.8%) did not budge for the fourth straight year and is 2.3 points ahead of 2007.  The worst news is that poverty has increased in an area where it usually has not; married couples with children and people aged 25 and older with an undergraduate degree.  No President has done worse by the middle class in modern times.


VW; People’s Car or Government Car?

VW has made global news with it’s admission that it has installed a defeat device that detunes the engine while it is being tested for emissions.  We need to look at the history of this type of action and it is not new.   GM and seven different diesel truck manufacturers have already been punished for doing the same thing.  What the government won’t tell you in all of their righteous indignation is that the defeat devices served a useful purpose.   These defeat devices increased performance and fuel efficiency of these modified diesel vehicles – the Passat gets 44 mpg on the highway.  Engines that burn more efficiently (and emit less carbon) release more NOx.  The government does not want the NOx but also does not want the public to know of the trade-offs that always come with environmental controls.  Fixing this will be very interesting to watch; will consumers voluntarily come into dealers and allow their car to be ‘fixed’ so that it gets worse mileage and less performance?  What car do you want, a car designed for consumers or the government?

note:  I do not agree with the tactics employed by VW – it is wrong but we need to understand how we got here – big government has it’s cost and many do not understand the tradeoffs.


In Abortion, Black Lives Do Not Matter

re; WSJ 09162015 James Freeman

Reading the latest statistics on Abortion would leave you to believe that the Black Lives Matter Movement should be targeting another enemy of Black Lives; Abortion.

The Litany includes:

The political left obsesses over racial disparities in bank loans or college admissions or police shootings, but “largely missing from the debate,” wrote Zoe Dutton in the Atlantic magazine last year, “is discussion of abortion’s racial disparity.”

the U.S. abortion rate has declined somewhat steadily since the late 1980s, yet the rate for black women is nearly five times higher than the white rate and well above the national average.

“In New York City, home to the largest black population of any U.S. urban area, more black babies are aborted than born,”

“In Georgia, where whites outnumber blacks 2 to 1, more than 53% of abortions involve black babies,”

A popular explanation for the racial divide is that abortion rates are a function of poverty. Low-income women are more likely to terminate a pregnancy, and black women are more likely to be low-income. Yet there are limits to this argument. Hispanic households are comparable to black ones in finances, sexual activity and use of birth control. Yet Hispanic women choose to abort at a rate much closer to that of white women than black women. Even when controlling for income, according to the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute, black women still have significantly higher rates of abortion.

The left plays down the discomfiting incentives and unintended consequences that have resulted from Roe v. Wade. But if liberal activists and their media allies are going to lecture America about the value of black lives, the staggering disparity in abortion rates ought to be part of the discussion. 


One Good Dog

Just finished ‘One Good Dog‘ by Susan Wilson – very good book that sees a dog and a man both seek redemption in a new life that neither chose.  The interesting thing is that the story of the dog is told by the dog – makes for much more interesting reading as you see how the same scene is viewed from two different views.

Quote from the dog”  “I don’t know what color I am; it’s an unimportant characteristic among my kind.  What is important  is that my anal glands describe my authority, my education, and my living arrangements to any who encounter me – where I’ve been and where I’m going.”


Science of Tree Count is NOT Settled

WSJ 09/03/2015 Estimate of Global Tree Count Soars

A new ‘better’ study of worldwide tree count has just been completed.  It seems like the new count has upped the estimate of trees from 400 billion to 3.04 Trillion! There are now 422 trees per person in the world.   Previous research was done by satellite imagery and was fraught with error.  These same ‘scientists’ estimate that the number of trees has fallen by 46% (not approx. 40%-50% btw) since the beginning of civilization.  This is more of the settled science that we keep getting reminded about.  I often note that when I am viewing before and after landscape pictures of 50 – 100 years ago that the tree density almost always increases with the passage of time.  Have you ever visited a place where you have not been in 20-30 years? – it is often difficult to recognize because of the increased tree cover.  But be warned, these are observations from an engineer, not a scientist who really know this stuff.  Settled!

addendum:   Suggest you read….Colorado, 1870-2000: John Fielder

A Historical Colorado Landscape photographic book that compares pictures taken a minimum of 100 years ago to the current view taken from what is believed to be the same spot.  Note the difference in the number of trees. Regardless of what the environmentalists tell you about people destroying all the trees – the increase in the number of trees over 100 years is remarkable on almost every photo.


Mr. President, Fill in those Blanks!

Listened to President Obama in New Orleans today praising the recovery of New Orleans. He took a good amount of time praising the unbelievable improvement that the school system has made post-Katrina but for some reason chose to not disclose the fact that 90% of New Orleans children now go to independant charter schools – it is the largest percentage in the nation! Pre-Katrina, public education was miserable in NO and the crisis enabled the state to take over – let’s acknowledge the success! My experience with politicians on both side are that they leave a lot of blanks not filled out due to their ideology – this was another example.


Still Learning after all these years….

Took another trip down to the orphanage in Mexico yesterday with my buddy Jerry – a few more lessons learned:
1. Finally found out why the breaker for the water heater was off, they only use it for showers in the winter – repeat after me, we are really blessed.
2. The director showed me her latest electricity bill; about 38$. This is about one-tenth of a normal bill. This was the result of focusing on elec usage – an evaporative cooler had a burned out motor that was running all winter, added fans to help alleviate cooler usage and replaced all bulbs with LED. The lesson here is that sometimes the best gift is giving a person margin in their life – they can now use the money usually reserved for elec for food, education, etc. every month ………..

still learning lessons…..


My Mind is Racing…..

Accused killer of the nine people attending a church meeting in South Carolina had a Facebook page; in it are a few black friends.  Wonder how fast those guys are trying to unfriend him?  My Mother was right once again; pick your friends carefully – do we accept them too casually on social media?

Brian Williams was too untrustworthy to get his network anchor job back at NBC but is ok to serve up breaking news on MSNBC.  Is that a tacit admittance by NBC that MSNBC brand is a cut below that of the major network news organizations?

Federal Government is going after AT&T with a 100M$ fine for limiting the speed of large users of it’s unlimited data plan.  Users were notified that excessive use would result in degradation of service.  Even if you agree with the charges against AT&T, who will ultimately pay the fine?  The same consumers…..and the fine goes into the general fund of the gov’t – so it is a cellular phone tax….by another name!

College accreditation is not working, in the last 15 years they have only removed 26 out of 3000 colleges.  Meanwhile the federal government sent 16$b of aid to students at four year colleges that graduated less than one-third of their students within six years.  The correlation of student debt to graduation success is striking. Time to weed out colleges that are not graduating seniors, i.e.; succeeding.  We may also be sending too many kids to colleges when a better fit may be a two year focused technical school.

Donald Trump let a woman on stage and let her pull her hair to prove it was not a toupee – is this what running for political office has come to?   I would have told her that we have much more serious issues to debate than stuff created for late-night TV entertainment….and please leave the room – too stupid to be a voter.






Hate Laws, What added Punishment do they Bring?

In the immediate aftermath of the Charleston church killings, the Justice department has quickly announced an investigation into the killings with an intention to file federal ‘hate law’ violations.  Hate laws require the crime to be motivated upon hatred towards a specific social group – in this case, a witness seems to support this by repeating things he said while conducting the killings.   Also, to be noted, South Carolina is one of the few states still without a hate crime law.

The question needs to be asked – is it really necessary to file a ‘hate crime’ charge against most defendants?   I am sure that any competent prosecutor can insure that this young man will be executed for the cold-blooded killing of 9 innocent victims.  Note that South Carolina still has the death penalty so it could be used in this case – in any case, he will spend the rest of his life in jail.  So, the question remains, what do we add to his sentence by adding the ‘hate crime’ designation to it?   My view is this is one of those ‘feel-good’ laws that add nothing to most prosecutions of crimes that already have sufficient laws on the books to use.  I am also against specific laws that increase penalties for crimes against policemen and women.   I would like to think that all lives matter equally; my Aunts murder in the late 60’s was no less a murder than any other murder of someone because they were a Jew, Black, Protestant or Atheist.  If you believe that a person so filled with hate at another person will refrain from carrying out his actions because of ‘hate laws’ on the books…….

Be very wary of a Federal Government that keeps coming into state matters and ‘helping’ out – especially before all of the investigation is complete.  At some point, some may ask why we have a local prosecutor, local police and state laws – just use the ‘corrected’ ones provided by the Justice Department which is run by a political appointee.   Come with me to visit Mexico if you want to see this in action……