Monday, December 31, 2012

Some cool things from 2012..

I know a lot of people are happy to say goodbye to 2012, but I have to say  2012 held some really great moments for me and the family and friends..  just some snapshots from the year in no particular order..

I was part of a team at work that was awarded a US Patent .. My first one..  Cool.  

I got to travel to Thailand and spend 10 days there..

Celebrated Dad's 80th birthday with a lot of family and friends..

Our oldest graduated from college with his BS in Electrical Engineering, #1 in his class and he has already found full time employment.    

Our younger son graduated from High School after a great academic and sports career and aced his first semester in college.  

I got to travel to South Africa and spend 10 days there meeting wonderful people and seeing incredible scenery and wildlife.. 

Molly had another awesome year with dance and competitive cheer leading and still managed to maintain a 4.0 GPA her Freshman year in HS. 

My family has stayed healthy and together..

I got to play a lot of games of Scrabble with mom

I got to meet and work with some great kids at John Trix elementary school in Detroit. 

I got to rock out with the guys in the band many times and many places..  

And I've managed to write 118 posts here at Pathteacher and over the year slowly keep attracting more traffic from around the world and building up momentum for what I have no idea.  I hope I am lucky enough to be able to do this again next year.  Cheers! 

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Shadow of Your Smile

A really nice duet featuring Barbara Streisand and Johnny Mathis.   

A few thoughts for the GOP as they try to figure out how to reformulate the damaged brand.

A few thoughts for the GOP as they try to figure out how to reformulate the damaged brand.

1. Recognize that when church and state intermingle in each other's business that both are harmed. Purge religion from science and politics and vice-versa.
2. Recall the root of the word conservative.. conserve, as in to eliminate wasted consumption.  That would reduce carbon emissions and drive prices lower at the same time. a real win-win scenario.
3. Promote higher education for American students so we don't need to find ways to import more engineers and scientists from other nations.
4. Support American commerce and find ways to keep reducing the trade deficit.
5. Make health care more affordable by eliminating waste and increasing the supply of services.
6. Give the US Military a leadership role in eliminating blight and restoring the infrastructure in urban America.
7. The economy is based on confidence. Government should be a foundation for confidence.
8. Confront evil as soon as it looks you in the eye. 
9. First point out how you agree with your political foe before proceeding to disagree with them.   
10. Consider every idea but never be loyal to one beyond what the facts and reason say.  

Sunday, December 23, 2012

NRA Chief says we already have enough gun laws! while they quietly push through dozens of new laws across the USA..

Wayne LaPierre had this to say earlier today when asked about gun control legislation.  

The NRA leader dismissed efforts to revive the assault weapons ban as a "phony piece of legislation" that's built on lies. He made clear it was highly unlikely that the NRA could support any new gun regulations.
"You want one more law on top of 20,000 laws, when most of the federal gun laws we don't even enforce?" he said.
From that statement one might get the impression that Wayne LaPierre and the NRA are opposed to making any new gun laws when there are already 20,000 existing laws on the books.  But that wouldn't be true at all.  It turns out the NRA loves new gun laws   The NRA has been on a legislating rampage the last four years pushing all sorts of new gun laws in States across the Country.    Mother Jones: The NRA Surge: 99 Laws Rolling Back Gun Restrictions

Since 2009, the NRA and its allies in state capitols have pushed through 99 laws making guns easier to own, easier to carry in public—eight states now even allow them in bars—and harder for the government to track. 

The list in the Mother Jones article doesn't include the Bill passed by the Michigan Tea Party legislature the day before the Newtown Massacre that would have allowed concealed weapons to be carried in schools, churches, hospitals and bars.  Governor Rick Snyder surely would have signed that Bill into law if it had not been for the poor timing of the massacre at Sandy Hook.

Wayne LaPierre is a raving gun nut. When I have heard him speak these last few days in response to the mass murder of young children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut he was bombastic, callous, insulting and raving in anger.  Gun control advocates ought to pay LaPierre to speak on National TV against gun control measures in order to get the general public to support gun control.   Yes, he is that bad of a spokesperson.  He is Rush Limbaugh without all the charm.

Below are some other Wayne LaPierre gem quotes.   This guy is batshit crazy.
"With all the money in the budget, if we can't come up [with the money] to do this, there something wrong in this country," LaPierre said in an interview on Sunday with NBC's Meet the Press.
"If it's crazy to call for putting police office and armed security in our schools, then call me crazy," LaPierre said.
"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,''
But is that what it really is? Isn't fantasizing about killing people as a way to get your kicks really the filthiest form of pornography?
"The truth is that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters — people so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can possibly ever comprehend them. They walk among us every day. And does anybody really believe that the next Adam Lanza isn't planning his attack on a school he's already identified at this very moment?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

WSJ: Embrace global warming for it is good.

In a Wall Street Journal Op-ed, Matt Ridley makes the case that 1 or 2 degrees Celsius of global temperature rise caused by the buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere is no big deal so chill out people.  In fact, its going to be a good thing!  F* Yeah!

 Matt Ridley: Cooling Down the Fears of Climate Change
The conclusion—taking the best observational estimates of the change in decadal-average global temperature between 1871-80 and 2002-11, and of the corresponding changes in forcing and ocean heat uptake—is this: A doubling of CO2 will lead to a warming of 1.6°-1.7°C (2.9°-3.1°F)...
A cumulative change of less than 2°C by the end of this century will do no net harm. It will actually do net good—that much the IPCC scientists have already agreed upon in the last IPCC report. Rainfall will increase slightly, growing seasons will lengthen, Greenland's ice cap will melt only very slowly, and so on.
Growing season will last longer, but there will be more extreme high temperature days in the middle of it.    And more rain overall does not mean there will be more rain everywhere.

For a start, water vapor may not be increasing. A recent paper from Colorado State University concluded that "we can neither prove nor disprove a robust trend in the global water vapor data." And then, as one Nobel Prize-winning physicist with a senior role in combating climate change admitted to me the other day: "We don't even know the sign" of water vapor's effect—in other words, whether it speeds up or slows down a warming of the atmosphere.
Wrong.   As the oceans and atmosphere warm, of course  there will be more water vapor in the air.   This is a question where the numbers aren't important because the shape of the curve tells you the answer.  Warmer air has a much higher propensity to absorb water vapor than does cooler air.  This is pretty simple stuff here..    Pathteacher explains the Psychrometric Chart

As the effects of AGW cause average temperatures to rise in the oceans and atmosphere, one effect will be more water vapor absorbed from rivers, lakes and oceans into the atmosphere. But more water vapor in the air does not equate to more rain across all geographical areas including those where the farms are. Humid air must collide with enough cold air to bring the mixture below it's dew point temperature to create precipitation. But if humid air isn't chilled below it's dew point the water vapor moves along in the wind and eventually falls to the ground somewhere else.

No net cooling or heating occurs when water vapor evaporates or condenses. Both are adiabatic processes. Energy moves around, but no work is done. Clouds do affect how much sunlight reaches the earth's surface, so there is a self-correcting factor built into the water vapor cycle. But regardless, warmer air will mean more rain and snow somewhere.
I think it is reasonable to say the amount of precipitation will tend to decrease in areas where the atmosphere is typically the warmest and the amount of precipitation will tend to increase in areas where the air is the typically the coldest. So we will see more desertification along with more random destruction wherever the occasional Megastorms form. This doesn't bode well for the agriculture or property insurance industries, or for our prospects in general.

The Gun Bill Rick Snyder vetoed

Last week on the last day of the 2012 lame duck Tea Party Michigan legislature, Senate Bill No. 59 written by ALEC interns paid with US taxpayer subsidies passed along with about 50 other Bills and was sent to Governor Rick Snyder's desk for the obligatory rubber stamp.  But then hours later, a suicidal psychopath committed mass murder at an elementary school in Connecticut using the assault rifle he stole from his mom after he killed her.  So unfortunately for the gun nuts, Rick Snyder had to veto the Bill he would have surely signed otherwise.  That Bill rolled around the committee for over a year getting tweaked and retweaked dozens of times.  They didn't pass it in the last minute without knowing it was destined to be signed.    

Here is the steaming turd that Rick Snyder was forced to veto due to the poor timing of Adam Lanza's rampage.   Read through this saga of GOP inspired legalspeak gobbleygook and remind me again which Party always bitches about how the US already has a gazillion too many gun laws and why it is silly to write any more new ones.

Enrolled Senate Bill No. 59.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Guns not permitted at National Shooting Sports Foundation convention

Whenever firearms of any sort are involved in a mass murder, the pro gun lobby is very quick to point out that we would all be safer if there were MOAR GUNZ!  never fewer guns.   How many of these people have recently commented that school teachers ought to carry firearms around their classrooms in order to make elementary schools safer.  jeesh.

So I find it ironic that at the annual gun industry convention and trade show in Las Vegas hosted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (based in Newtown Connecticut) that NO guns are permitted inside the convention hall.  Even the guns on display have to have their firing pins removed and pass inspection.  

Here is a link to the homepage for the The SHOT Show 

The Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show) and Conference is the largest and most comprehensive trade show for all professionals involved with the shooting sports, hunting and law enforcement industries. It is the world's premier exposition of combined firearms, ammunition, law enforcement, cutlery, outdoor apparel, optics and related products and services. The SHOT Show attracts buyers from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. The SHOT Show is owned and sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation and is produced and managed by Reed Exhibitions

Well if you are planning to attend the SHOT Show to hang out with thousands of other fine Americans who know the right to keep and bear arms is more important than the right to keep and bear children, you will have to leave all your guns back in the hotel room safe.  If they fit inside.  If not, hide them in the sock drawer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are personal firearms or ammunition allowed?
NO personal firearms or ammunition allowed. Only firearms on display by exhibitors whose firing pins have been removed (and have been inspected by SHOT Show Safety Advisors) will be permitted on the show floor.
That means all those gun aficionados are going to be trapped helpless to defend themselves if one of the exhibitors or another person at the SHOT Show wigs out and goes on a rampage.   What hypocrisy.  The National Shooting Sports Foundation advocates eliminating state restrictions on carrying concealed weapons inside bars, schools, restaurants and churches because MOAR GUNZ! make you safer, but when they host their yearly party they make sure all the Yosemite Sams are unarmed.

Hmm. The firearms trade association is based in Newtown Connecticut.

Just too weird to be a coincidence.

Firearms trade association based in Newtown Connecticut 

Odd coincidence that the National Shooting Sports Foundation the trade association for the firearms industry is based in Newtown Connecticut.
About the National Shooting Sports Foundation
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 7,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers.
Here is a link to their online publication, The Range Report
The Range Report, published four times per year by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, is dedicated to serving the needs and to helping meet the challenges of today’s shooting facilities.
So maybe Newtown Connecticut is not just another random sleepy rolling hills town out in the country and perhaps there were some people around town in the bars and restaurants that over a wine or three coaxed Nancy Lanza into becoming a patron of the local gun ranges and advised her on collecting assault weapons, expensive rifles, and ammunition clips.  Everyone in town seemed to know she was divorced and loaded and living in a big house.  She would probably be an easy sales “target” for a pro.

Here is the senior management team of the National Shooting Sports Foundation as shown in their 2011 report.   I would post the current team, but for some odd reason that link isn't working currently.  

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Assault weapons, mental illness and lame excuses

Well I finally found the quote that sums up how stupid and morally decrepit the gun lobby has become.
Robert Crook, head of the Hartford- based Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen dropped this quote in response to the mass murder of 26 people including 20 small children.  link.. 

“We already have a lot of good gun laws on the books,” Crook said. “You can’t control people who have never done anything wrong before and then just go off the deep end.”   

That's not what happened in Newtown.  With Nancy and Adam Lanza, there was a toxic mix and none of it was much of a secret in town.   She was preparing for doomsday warfare by stockpiling assault weapons, ammunition and 30-round clips, and he was a very troubled young man with a long history of mental illness, erratic behavior, and temper tantrums.

This incident was preventable.  Nancy Lanza was extremely irresponsible as a gun owner.  If she could not prevent her son from somehow gaining access to the weapons in the house then they should have been stored somewhere else.

The pro-gun people should be the first ones to be pointing out why this event resulted from unsafe weapon handling and how everyone can learn from it.   Instead of taking part in a rational debate on this subject and helping find ways to reduce the possibility that people with mental illness will gain access to assault weapons they have decided to turn into Mickey the Dope and go with the "Who coulda saw that coming?" excuse.  Despicable.


Friday, December 14, 2012

American gun culture on horrible display ..

I can not even begin to imagine the horror of being involved in any way. My thoughts and prayers are with the families and the community. The ones who perished and the ones who lived through it, scarred forever. Unspeakable evil.  How can any person become so diabolical and insane with rage.  How did weapons purchased for self defense become tools for mass murder.      

The gun rights advocates will say that the very rare tragic events like this are just a necessary evil that comes with the goal for unfettered gun rights and no new gun control laws.

But if you want to test the logic in a theory apply it to an extreme example.  The horrible senseless evil tragedy in Newtown Connecticut earlier today is the extreme example to test the "Guns make us safer" logic we hear from the whole spectrum of pro-gun activists.  Their logic eventually leads to a safe Utopia where every single person is armed and ready to fire at the bad guys.

Dozens Killed in Connecticut School Shooting

NEWTOWN, Conn.—A gunman opened fire at a Connecticut elementary school where his mother worked, killing 26 people, including 20 children, law-enforcement officials said, in what could be the worst mass shooting at a U.S. elementary or high school.
The shooter was found dead inside Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, a community of about 27,000 located about 65 miles northeast of New York City. State police said another victim was found dead elsewhere in Newtown, putting the total toll at 28.
A federal law-enforcement official said a .223 Bushmaster rifle was found in the back of a vehicle at the scene. Two firearms were recovered near the alleged gunman's body: a Glock and a Sig Sauer, both handguns.

Oh and on a semi-automatic note it was Ted Nugent's birthday yesterday.  I only know this because someone tagged me in a few pictures of Ted looking like a raving lunatic freakazoid and on a day like today the very last thing I want on my FB wall is a picture of a full metal whack job anti-social gun nut freak show like Ted staring out from the screen.  

It's a day late, but for his birthday I'll post the first few random Ted Nugent quotes I snipped from pro gun rights websites.  Behold the intellectual giant of the WT red state gun culture.
"There are hundreds of millions of gun owners in this country, and not one of them will have an accident today. The only misuse of guns comes in environments where there are drugs, alcohol, bad parents, and undisciplined children. Period."
- Ted Nugent
"To my mind it is wholly irresponsible to go into the world incapable of preventing violence, injury, crime, and death. How feeble is the mindset to accept defenselessness. How unnatural. How cheap. How cowardly. How pathetic."
- Ted Nugent
" ... Though oft repeated in rags like his, a handgun IS NOT forty-seven times more likely to kill a family member, unless of course, you and the whole tribe are in the crack runnin' trade and/or on parole as a lifestyle. That ramrod figure is as false as Jann's (Wenner of Rolling Stone) wedding vows. After he left his wife and children to go off into the sunset, ass in hand, with his new boyfriend, he turned up his antigun heat by increasing his hateful editorials and free magazine ad space with outrageous twisted lies about guns and gun owners."
-Ted Nugent
" Every study on crime and or firearms proves time and time again, that 99.99999% of American gun owners do not commit crimes or use our firearms in any dangerous or improper way."
- Ted Nugent

Enough of that.  

As for that statistic,  99.99999% means there is 1 criminal or dangerous gun owner out of every 10 million gun owners.   So by Ted's math there are about 20 or 30 of them in the entire country.  Bravo for spouting the most ridiculous made-up statistic to sum up this horrible tragic day, only off by a factor of 1,000 or so.  He must have been home-schooled in math.  

Update:  It turns out the shooter Adam Lanza used his mom's firearms in the attacks.  He killed her in the rampage with weapons she bought for protection.  I added this snip for more context on this case and the pro-gun  logic.
An article on Michigan’s RTC law: “Concerns that permit holders would lose their tempers in traffic accidents have been unfounded. Worries about risks to police officers have also proved unfounded.... National surveys of police show they support concealed handgun laws by a 3-1 margin....There is also not a single academic study that claims Right to Carry laws have increased state crime rates. The debate among academics has been over how large the benefits have been.”

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Just how F-ed up is Michigan's Tea Party Legislature

While Democrats were sleeping during the 2010 midterm elections, white trash racists, religious fanatics, and Tea Party dolts across the state were working hard to get like minded dipshits elected to the Michigan State legislature.   And being illiterate themselves, these new politicians had to outsource their actual legislating jobs to the interns at ALEC the 501(c)(3) charitable tax-exempt right wing lobbying group that writes thumb drives full of model legislation to hand over to the Gomer Pyle GOP legislators across the USA so they can focus on real important things like keeping constituents mad at the world and tossing doggie treats to police and fire fighter unions.

Example "A" of how low this outsourced legislature has sunk. They just eliminated the $600 tax deduction for children on 2012 Michigan state income taxes but now they want to add a new deduction for fetuses who have not been born yet.  I am not making this up.

After Cutting Child Tax Credit, Michigan Republicans Want A Deduction For Fetuses   

The great Barney Frank (D-MA) said that anti-abortion-rights Republicans believe “life begins at conception and ends at birth.” Michigan Republicans must not have realized that he was joking.
House Bills 5684 and 5685, which were given a hearing in the Michigan House Tax Policy Committee on Tuesday,would give a tax exemption for fetuses that are at least 12 weeks old. This would follow a cut in the tax credit for actual living children signed into law by Republican governor Rick Snyder last year, according to Progress Michigan. The progressive organization notes that Michigan is rated 44th in children living in poverty.
2014 elections can not get here soon enough.  Hopefully by then the IRS will awaken from their deep slumber and eliminate the taxpayer subsidy for the political lobbying groups like ALEC, Heritage Foundation, Heartland Institute and ProEnglish and the hundreds of other political shill organizations feeding at the public trough, cheating the IRS out of revenue.

One small way unions fight back.

Perhaps labor unions might just have a window of opportunity in light of the new Right to Work laws in Michigan.  I think the unions should consider a pitch to take on all administrative and financial functions of the personnel department for their major employers.

The manufacturer would save money by outsourcing all of the plant level administrative functions.  The manufacturer would simply tell the union how many operators were needed each shift and provide the standard work instructions.

The union would make sure enough trained people were there every shift to run the place.   The manufacturer could concentrate on design and engineering of the product instead of getting bogged down in the mundane tasks of  actually having to build it.

The future of the labor movement is best enabled by helping manufacturers be more profitable.  This is just one way.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Why did MI exclude Police and Fire unions from Right to Work?

The Michigan GOP Legislature and Rick Snyder will need to twist into pretzels to explain why Right to Work legislation excludes police and fire fighter unions.   Here are some examples of attempts to do so..

Lansing State Journal: Right-to-work bill exempts police and fire unions
Republican Gov. Rick Snyder said Thursday the exemption is meant to respect the “unique circumstance” police officers and firefighters are in because of the “dangerous nature of their work.
But critics say the exception will create class warfare among public employees and it leaves out other dangerous occupations, particularly corrections officers in the state’s prison system.

Detroit News: GOP defends right-to-work exclusion of cop, fire unions

They also expressed concerns about creating divisions within the paramilitary ranks of first responders who rely on each other in life-and-death situations...
In arguing for a right-to-work law, Snyder and GOP leaders acknowledged it could create divisions in firehouses and police departments if union membership or fees was optional — as will become the case for all other unionized workplaces when Snyder signs the bill.
"These are men and women who must respond and rely on each other in ways no other union must," said Speaker Pro-tem John Walsh, R-Livonia...

..Another reason cited: Republican legislators get fewer complaints about the political activities of police and firefighter union leadership than others who, for instance, represent unions with ties to the Democratic Party.
 "I know a lot of people in both organizations, and they're happy with how their unions treat them. They're not clamoring for choice," said state Rep. Jeff Farrington, R-Utica.

That is some really weak tea there, none of it means anything, it's all just mush.   But even so, when asked why those exclusions don't apply to unions that represent prison guards, the answer is downright laughable.
..Some rank-and-file GOP lawmakers said there are other reasons why police and firefighters are getting a better deal than their union brethren who work in other dangerous jobs in prisons, construction and utilities.
"They behave more like value-adding trade associations than unions," said state Rep. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, the leading advocate for the drive to make Michigan the 24th right-to-work state...
He can't actually be trying to say that unions representing prison guards behave more like trade associations than unions?  Trade associations are organizations that represent their industry at large, promoting cooperation and standardization between businesses and attracting customers and new business opportunities.  If there is a prison industry trade association it isn't there to represent the rights of the workers.  

Perhaps Shirkey meant to compare them to trade unions and not trade associations?  But, if so, he is essentially saying that prison guards are pretty much just like plumbers with a different toolbox.  Neither explanation is a good one.

Further, are police and fire truly the most dangerous occupations and regardless are they the only ones in which co-workers must rely on each other for safety and protection?  

Perhaps the explanation is that the GOP is exhibiting the soft prejudice of lowered expectations for police and fire fighters.  The message is that all the other unions will work it out and not let divisions between employees affect job performance or safety but the same can't be assumed for police and fire fighters so they need special privileges to keep them from squabbling.  This is stunning hypocrisy from Rick Snyder and his Tea Party legislature.

Here is a chart of workplace related fatalities in Michigan.
Tracking Acute Traumatic Work-Related Deaths in Michigan 

Here is some information about law enforcement fatalities.
Number of police fatalities up in 2011; Michigan saw five die in the line of duty

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Why does Paul Krugman hate robots?

I hold Paul Krugman in the very highest regard.   I do not recall ever disagreeing with his analysis before this post, but here we are.  Krugman is wrong.  What the hell is he even talking about?  The Rise of Robots is beneficial for the long-term prospects of the American economy and for our income levels and standard of living.

Krugman: The Conscience of a Liberal -  Rise of the Robots  

Catherine Rampell and Nick Wingfield write about the growing evidence for “reshoring” of manufacturing to the United States. They cite several reasons: rising wages in Asia; lower energy costs here; higher transportation costs. In a followup piece, however, Rampell cites another factor: robots.
The most valuable part of each computer, a motherboard loaded with microprocessors and memory, is already largely made with robots, according to my colleague Quentin Hardy. People do things like fitting in batteries and snapping on screens.
As more robots are built, largely by other robots, “assembly can be done here as well as anywhere else,” said Rob Enderle, an analyst based in San Jose, Calif., who has been following the computer electronics industry for a quarter-century. “That will replace most of the workers, though you will need a few people to manage the robots.”
Robots mean that labor costs don’t matter much, so you might as well locate in advanced countries with large markets and good infrastructure (which may soon not include us, but that’s another issue). On the other hand, it’s not good news for workers!
Krugman goes on to point out that the rise of robots is a capital-biased technological change which according to his old Economics textbooks means that income will shift from the workers to the owners of the capital equipment.  But he doesn't consider all the good things that come from investing in robotics that improve the economic viability of those companies and secure more jobs long-term.

Robots enable manufacturers and other businesses to become more profitable by improving build quality and reducing waste of raw materials and energy usage.  The higher quality levels reduce rework and warranty costs and the reduced utilities consumption brings lower market prices for commodities from which all businesses and consumers will benefit.

Robots eliminate a host of health and safety hazards that result in long and short term injuries along with costs for medical benefits and legal expenses.  Robots do dangerous work, helping keep human workers safe.  

Robots provide far more than just a few jobs as the article mentioned.  The robotics industry provides a wide variety of engineering, skilled trades, assembly, administrative and IT jobs in supply chain management, facilities, fabrication and construction as well as in the operation and service of robotic equipment and automation cells in diverse industries.  Those jobs didn't exist before the Rise of Robots.  Mr. Krugman should schedule a fact-finding mission to tour some of the high-tech firms along "Automation Alley" in the metro Detroit area.  There are companies based in this area that design, build and even export automation cells and automation expertise around the world.  That's a good thing for aggregate American income statistics, right?

Robots level the manufacturing playing field, which has long been a goal of labor unions in the industrialized nations.  Now, cheap direct labor isn't much of an incentive to relocate an entire manufacturing facility and all the peripheral jobs to a far-flung location in the developing world. The higher energy and infrastructure costs in those locations will likely offset lower labor costs when that cheap labor is replaced by robots back home.

Paul Krugman is tilting at robots.    His economics analysis may be valid, but his conceptions and assumptions about manufacturing are way-off base.

More here in a page at my favorite weblog, Little Green Footballs..

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Office Space without clutter..

Most people like to adorn the walls of their office or cubicle with pictures of their family, newspaper clippings, posters, joke sheets, decorations, their kid's artwork, and office memos.  Most people have stuff  laying around on their desk like files, memos, boxes, catalogs, to-do lists, knick-knacks, etc.  

As for me, I prefer my cubicle to look uninhabited when I'm not there at the stand-up desk. There are no pictures on the walls, no clutter on the desk, no garbage can under the desk, no piles of dust on the cabinets, nothing laying around. Just a plain calendar to mark a red X on vacation days and a small bin to collect paper for the recycling bin.   

Sometimes I get strange looks from my clutter collecting co-workers and suppliers who can't seem to grasp  how someone could actually have a cubicle that is so plain.      

But if I come across a red Swingline stapler someday, I'll bring it to work and leave it on the desk.   

Update:  01/08/13

My wife bought me what I always wanted to jazz up the cubicle.  And no, you can not borrow it..

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The enemy of economic growth is..

Just what is the enemy of economic growth?  

Is it high taxes?  Public debt?  Lack of education?  Too many Government regulations?

There are plenty of theories just as there are plenty of politicians who all claim to know which buttons to press and which knobs to turn that will create economic growth and prosperity for all.   However, there is only one correct answer and out of the goodness in my heart and my deep seated desire to see mankind and human civilization survive and thrive for a very long time, I will share it with everyone now.  

The enemy of economic growth is wasted consumption of limited resources.    

The slogan "drill baby drill" and all of its relative theories are thus patently ignorant for a long-term strategy for our society or any other.   Contrary to what the GOP and conservatives have told the members of their  adoring base, the USA cannot base economic growth on continuously increasing the supply of oil or any other limited resource.  Eventually, it will become impossible to increase the rate by which the available supply of any limited resource can be increased by any means.  Numbers are not required for this explanation, the shape of the curve is enough.  Basing economic growth on increased consumption of resources is a temporary fix at the very best, and more likely a high speed crash into the wall very soon.

The best strategy for economic growth is to conserve limited resources and to eventually eliminate reliance on consumption of limited resources altogether and focus instead on sustainability, recycling, waste elimination and ingenuity.  

Any other plan is doomed to fail, period.  What the politicians who promote those plans that are doomed to fail aren't telling you is that they really don't give two shits what happens long-term to our Nation and our civilization after their own lives are over in a couple or few decades from now. 

They can only see as far as the next election cycle.  And that is why they need to be swept from power.    


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Alabama policeman killed in the line of duty by mentally unstable person at community based treatment center aka his mom's trailer.

This is a horrible story.  A policeman from Baldwin County Alabama was killed in a shootout while answering a family disturbance call.

FAIRHOPE, Ala. (AP) — The shootout that left one Alabama deputy sheriff dead and another in critical condition on Saturday began when they checked on a man at his mobile home and he opened fire on them, authorities said.
Baldwin County Sheriff Huey Mack told that gunfire erupted Friday after Michael Jansen pulled a handgun on Deputy Scott Ward and his colleagues outside of Jansen's Fairhope-area home.
Ward was fatally wounded after responding about 4 p.m. with two other deputies to a family disturbance call at the residence. Deputies returned fire, killing Jansen.

It turns out the shooter was a mentally unstable person and in recent years his mother had attempted two times to have her son committed to a mental health facility and placed under psychiatric care.  

Mack told The Press-Register of Mobile that deputies had responded several times to deal with issues arising from Jansen's mental health. Court records show that his mother moved to have him committed in 2009 and in 2010, and that a probate judge agreed to send him to a state hospital twice in 2010. The newspaper reported that Jansen's mother had called 911 on Friday to report that he was agitated and wouldn't calm down.

But unfortunately budget cuts in the Alabama have targeted mental health institutions, leaving the care and treatment of more patients like Michael Jansen to "community based" treatment centers, aka, roaming the streets and living with mom in the trailer.   ADMH Announces Searcy Hospital Closure Date

Hopefully in Alabama as law enforcement officials, politicians, and the heavily conservative electorate pay their respects to the fallen officer, they will take some time to reflect on their collective decision to pare back the state budget for mental health treatment facilities, leaving Officer Ward and other Alabama law enforcement personnel vulnerable to ambush attacks such as this. This tragedy was preventable.

We're #1 Moses, the other Notre Dame landmark.

Everyone familiar with college football knows about Touchdown Jesus,the famous mural on the campus of Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana.   But not everyone is familiar with the other famous biblical figure/football fan on campus.  We're #1 Moses.    

Monday, November 12, 2012

Some pictures from the coast in Western Cape Province South Africa

Before 2012, I had never left the North American continent, nor did I have much interest to do so.  Then a change in job assignments gave me the opportunity to do some traveling for work.  First was a trip to Thailand in April, which was very cool indeed.  And recently I was asked to go to South Africa for a couple weeks.  I had no concept of what I was in for.  Like most Americans who are under-educated when it comes to African countries and their history and geography, my knowledge of South Africa was lacking to say the least.  I had no idea of the spectacular rugged beauty and beautiful scenery here.  

With a day off yesterday, a couple co-workers and I took the opportunity to drive from Port Elizabeth to see some sights along the coast in the Western Cape Province including Tsitsikamma National Park.   Here are some pictures.. Enjoy.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

The GOP heads off to 2016.. Left turn ahead.

I took this picture yesterday at the Addo National Park in South Africa.

I think it is very symbolic of the GOP.  They'll plod along now towards the next election.  They need to decide soon to either make a turn to the left, or stay on their current vector and end up in the weeds.

From R to R:  Rush Limbaugh, Paul Ryan, Bill O'Reilly, Mitch McConnel, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity 

(No offense intended toward the elephants!) 

Friday, November 9, 2012

A few pictures from Port Elizabeth South Africa.

I am in Port Elizabeth South Africa for a couple weeks.  If not for the opportunity to come here for a work assignment, I would likely never venture this far from home back in lovely Michigan, USA.  I had heard this was a nice place but I had no idea of the breathtaking rugged beauty along the coastline.  

Port Elizabeth, located at the bottom of the African continent is an industrial city with quite a few factories and a large shipping port.  The factory I am working at has a diverse workforce that is motivated, friendly, and very good at what they do.  I am here to help along with a co-worker from the office in Bangalore India to troubleshoot some facility and production issues and do some specialized training with the process engineering team.   The days have been long, but very productive so far.  We really haven't done any sight-seeing other than what you could see form the car window on the ways to and from the plant.  So it goes when you are an "expert", whatever the hell that word means.

Here are some pictures from Port Elizabeth.  After this weekend there will be more.  We actually get a day off Sunday so the plan is to visit some National Parks and go way off the beaten path.   More to follow..


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Why I’m Voting for President Obama

This is from blogger Randall Gross, who I have known for a few years as a fellow poster at the website Little Green Footballs. I was thinking of writing a post clarifying why I was switching parties for this election and voting for President Obama, and then I saw this post from Randall and thought heck, why even try to improve on that?  This sums it all up for me.  Bravo.  

Randall, your words speak for me and thousands of other former Republicans, spooked away by willful ignorance, hate, greed, and religious fanaticism who now find themselves voting to re-elect a President they didn't vote for the first time around.  Credit goes to Charles Johnson and the community at Little Green Footballs for using facts and data to promote rational analysis and thoughtful political commentary and debate.

 LGF Pages: Randall Gross: Why I'm Voting for President Obama
I’m voting for President Obama because I trust him to do the right thing, and even on the issues where we don’t agree I know that he will make his choices based on principles and what he sees as best for our country as a whole rather than based on political expediency or the dictates of narrow interests. I have confidence in him as President and I know that he’s principled because I’ve watched him in action first as a candidate and then as our president for five years now.
When this started out I was not a Barack Obama fan - instead I was one of the many here at this site writing posts against him and campaigning for his opponents (that included Clinton, Guiliani, Romney, and McCain at various points as the long primary season wound into the national election). I was against him as president and was pretty firmly seated in the “anyone but Obama” camp because I still believed all the far right bumper stickers about him, and even took part in some of the attempts to slime him with Reverend Wright and other things.
Even after he was elected I was still heavily criticizing him regarding jobs and the economy all the way into 2010, but over time he slowly turned all of those negatives around. He demonstrated his leadership time and again, and took a lot of heat not only from the right, but also from many of the progressives in his own party to work through issues with a highly recalcitrant Congress. Under his guidance I watched as multiple branches of our Federal Government became more open, more effective, and more efficient.
At the same time I watched the right become bitter and hardened, witch hunting not only our new president but also anyone in their own party who didn’t kow-tow to their hard right litany at every other step. The cracked pots were let in the back door, and I ran out the front, at first to become an independent, and then a year later a registered Democrat.
Meanwhile, President Obama took the fight directly to the specific terrorist organizations who were attacking us and destabilizing the subcontinent of Asia and the Middle East. He quickly got results, using a combination of drone warfare, sanctions, agreements and diplomacy to further US interests and missions.
He didn’t care if the terrorists were hiding in Yemen and Pakistan and being sheltered by factions of those country’s military. He went after them anyway, just as he had promised in his campaign; he took out leader after leader until we got Osama Bin Laden hiding in Abottobad, Pakistan. Both Romney and McCain had roundly criticized him for saying he would go into Pakistan during the campaign, but he persisted until justice was done.
I’ve watched our President in action, turning the country around, doing what was required to save the auto industry, putting the country back to work with construction projects across the nation when we needed it most, and I’ve seen him persevere while the rabid right did everything in their power to cause him and our country to fail. I’ve seen him smile and still try to deal with Republican congressmen even as one of them called him a liar during an address to a joint session of Congress.
That joint session was for his landmark health care initiative, and I’m glad it passed. Now all of my nieces and nephews have a chance to stay on their parents health insurance as they go into those starter jobs. Now my pacemaker isn’t a pre-existing condition hurdle to changing insurance if I want to.
It’s now five years later, and I’m a big supporterIt was that kind of bile and the over the top charges like “Death panels” at that joint session and Barack’s persistent work against our real foes overseas that made me reconsider the propaganda I’d been fed, and made me dig deeper into the issues. At most junctures I found myself deciding that our president was right, and his opponents were absolutely crazed, as I dug into the facts of each issue.
I found that we agree on most issues regarding climate, social issues like gay marriage, and women’s rights. I fully support the regulations on Wall Street — we can’t afford vulture and wild West capitalism of the sort his opponent wants.
It’s now five years later, and I’m a big supporter. I honestly don’t think there is anyone out there who can do a better job as President for the next four years. Instead, I firmly believe that putting anyone else into office would seriously jeopardize the slow but steady recovery that we are in.
That’s why our President, Barack Obama, not only has my complete confidence and trust as president, but also my vote for the next four years.

Friday, November 2, 2012

This chart explains why we can expect more extreme weather

This is the Psychrometric chart.  Mechanical engineering students are required to memorize this chart.  OK not really.  But they do become very familiar with the intersecting grid of straight and curved lines in thermo class.

About the chart.  For any combination of air temperature and relative humidity there is a point on the psychrometric chart where you can stick a thumbtack.  Go across the bottom to locate the dry bulb temperature line and then go straight up the line to where it intersects the correct relativity humidity curve.  Once that point is defined so are other physical properties of the air mixture such as the wet bulb temperature, the dew point, the amount of water absorbed, the density of the air and it's overall energy or enthalpy.  Follow the different lines going through that point to read the units represented.

The lines to focus on are those for relative humidity (RH). They curve upward to the right as the dry bulb temperature increases.  The lowest of these lines is for 10% RH, the highest is for 100%.  The maximum amount of water vapor that can be absorbed into air at a certain temperature is represented by the 100% RH line.  The increasing slope of the 100% RH line shows that as air rises in temperature, its propensity to absorb water vapor increases at an increasing rate.  Warm air can absorb far more water vapor than cool air.

Another series of lines that are important here are the wet bulb temperature lines.  If you go back to the tack in the chart and follow the wet bulb line to the left and upward, you can read the wet bulb temperature which is close enough to call the dew point, in other words the temperature below which the air must be cooled in order to induce precipitation.

As the effects of AGW cause average temperatures to rise in the oceans and atmosphere, one effect will be that more mass of water vapor will be absorbed from rivers, lakes and oceans into the atmosphere.  The larger mass of water vapor absorbed into the air will mean the more mass of precipitation will eventually fall out from the air later.

However more water vapor in the air does not equate to more precipitation across all geographical areas.   Humid air must collide with cold air to bring the mixture of the two below it's dew point temperature to create precipitation.  If a mass of humid air is not chilled below it's dew point the water vapor just moves along in the wind and eventually falls to the ground somewhere else.

I think it is reasonable to say on average the amount of precipitation will increase in a warming climate.  Precipitation will tend to decrease in areas where the atmosphere is hottest and increase in areas where the air is cooler.  I think we will see more persistent droughts, wildfires and growing deserts along with an increasing number of massive precipitation events that will dump record-breaking rain/snow where warm humid air masses collide with cold fronts, bringing floods, property damage, economic disruptions. crop losses and infrastructure failures.  This trend doesn't bode well for the agriculture or property insurance industries, or for our economic prospects in general.        

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Photo of the Year and two others

President Barack Obama, left, embraces Donna Vanzant, right, during a tour of a neighborhood effected by superstorm Sandy, Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012 in Brigantine, N.J. Vanzant is a owner of North Point Marina, which was damaged by the storm. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney accepts a food donation from a supporter on October 30, 2012 in Kettering, Ohio.

Mitt Romney supporters are donating clothing and chicken noodle soup to the African American children of Hoboken New Jersey to keep them warm and to feed their soul.

The top photo just might seal the deal for Obama's re-election.

The middle one shows a perfect metaphor for Mitt's campaign. A jumbo pack of small bags full of air in a variety of flavors.

The bottom one, alls I can say is, that's real classy sweetheart.  A week from now you can store that one away with your Sarah Palin action figure collection.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cop in uniform advocating political campaign in TV commercial.

This political season in Michigan features a new low.   A policeman wearing his uniform and badge in a political ad on TV spouting wingnut talking points about Proposal 2 in Michigan.  If this behavior is not a violation of the Hatch Act  it should be. I think this is a horrible precedent.  I know if a cop in uniform knocked on my front door and tried shilling his politics to me I'd tell him to get off my porch and shut the door and lock it.

 Here is a link from a right wing site hailing the new ad.  Bonus points for the misspelled headline.

New NO On Porposal 2 Video

As for how the Hatch Act applies to police officers, this is from the Fraternal Order of Police.  The uniform and badge in the political ad are not permissible.

 The Hatch Act: The Political Process and You 
It is permissible for officers to:
- Endorse or oppose a partisan political candidate in a political advertisement, broadcast, campaign literature, or similar material, so long as the officer is not on duty and not wearing a uniform, badge or insignia;
It is impermissible to:
- Allow one’s name or likeness to be used in campaign literature in the police officer’s professional capacity;
Because the  Detroit Police Department receives Federal grants for a number of different department functions, there is a good chance the Hatch Act restrictions would apply here.  The question may also depend on if  Proposals are subjected to the same restrictions as political campaigns involving elected officials.  Either way this officer has run afoul of the law, the code, or ethics.  He should not wear that badge while he's advocating his personal politics.  

For more about how Rick Snyder and Michigan's Tea Party legislature have specifically targeted teachers unions for cost cutting while leaving other public unions off the hook I suggest this earlier post.
 Pathteacher:  Snyder's policy for Michigan schools.. Teachers lose, janitors win. Bravo.

For reference, here is the wording of Proposal 2.


This proposal would:
  • Grant public and private employees the constitutional right to organize and bargain collectively through labor unions.
  • Invalidate existing or future state or local laws that limit the ability to join unions and bargain collectively, and to negotiate and enforce collective bargaining agreements, including employees’ financial support of their labor unions. Laws may be enacted to prohibit public employees from striking.
  • Override state laws that regulate hours and conditions of employment to the extent that those laws conflict with collective bargaining agreements.
  • Define “employer” as a person or entity employing one or more employees.
Should this proposal be approved?
YES __
NO ____

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Is this a young Mitt Romney in a TV commercial in 1971?

For some inexplicable reason the guy in this TV commercial from 41 years ago reminds me of Mitt Romney trying to pawn off the GOP to middle America.  

Being a dad is cool..

So I was watching the Tiger's playoff game at home tonight with my son Steven and I started telling him about a problem from work about a pump that couldn't hold its pressure set point when the system's flow demand increased.  They rebuilt the pump but that didn't eliminate the pressure fluctuations. They were now speculating the problem was air entrainment through pipe fittings.   I said I thought it was more likely just a  bad PID loop than a mechanical issue.  For those who aren't familiar, PID stands for Proportional-Integral-Differential and it describes the combination of calculus functions that use a feedback signal of a process variable to adjust an input to the system in order to hold that process variable near its set point when subjected to a varying load. Think of how cruise control in your car works on a hilly road.

So anyway, my knowledge of controls systems was always sketchy at best.  It was a "dummy rule" class for me.  In other words, He can't fail all of us dummies so I just have to be average to pass and never worry about this stuff again.  The math never made much sense to me.  I just memorized some things and wrote down formulas and followed the "integrate something" rule on the exams and prayed for partial credit, and it worked enough.  phew.

Except I still do encounter this stuff occasionally at work so it would be helpful to understand the math a bit more before just using trial and error to see if a combination of PID constants stabilizes a process or makes it start oscillating out of control until it faults out and people start yelling at you.  

So the conversation with the whiz kid electrical engineering major during a commercial between innings was very helpful.  Steven scribbled down this diagram on a sheet of loose leaf and explained how the math  works better in 30 seconds than I can remember from sitting through a lot of classes back in 1986.  ha,  Really, now it all makes sense.  Being a dad is cool.



Saturday, October 13, 2012

Breitbarts heaping elephant dung on themselves.

SO, the latest mini Breitbart outrageous outrage spreading around the wingnutosphere has now been demoted to just another debunked conspiracy theory.  Well knock me over with a feather.  

First the Shtick..  mini Breitbarts: BLS Fail    They have deduced from speculation and hearsay overheard by their unnamed sources precisely how the Bureau of Labor Statistics might have cooked the books in the most recent unemployment data that showed some modest improvement;

Except, um, it turns out that number wasn't right. They forgot to include CALIFORNIA, the most populous and economically depressed state in the country. A source at the Labor Department brushed aside the omission by saying that, sometimes, if a state office is under-manned they don't complete all the jobless claims in time to report them to BLS.
In other words, the dog ate their homework.

I have long marveled at the slow-march disintegration of the once Golden State, but has the state really become so utterly dysfunctional that it can not process jobless claims in a timely fashion?

But the conspiracy theory they are promoting about job statistics is completely unfounded.   California EDD denies it under-reported jobless claims

The California Employment Development Department is denying news reports that it failed to fully report the number of Californians who filed new jobless claims last week.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics this morning reported a bigger-than-expected drop in seasonally adjusted new jobless claims for the week ended Oct. 6.
A number of news sources quoted an unidentified labor department spokesman saying the large drop was caused by the failure of one large state to report all of its claims. They quoted other sources speculating the large state must have been California.
In a statement, EDD Director Pam Harris said, “Reports that California failed to fully report data to the U.S. Department of Labor, as required, are incorrect and irresponsible. The California Employment Development Department, which administers the Unemployment Insurance (UI) program in the state, has reported all UI claims data and submitted the data on time.”
It singled out a report from Business Insider that quoted a DOL spokesman saying, “When a state’s jobless claims bureau is short-staffed, sometimes the state does not process all of the claims that came in during the week in time to get them to the DOL. The source believes that this is what happened this week.”

I doubt they will issue a retraction.  You can't un-feed the hyenas after you've thrown the red meat into their cage.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

More proof American culture is taking over the world

A-Hole boss of the month: Robert Murray of Murray Energy

The New Republic has an article profiling one of the GOP's leading donors and Mitt's favorite job creator in Ohio..   A hothead, narcissist greedy old boss-man who forces his employees to contribute part of their pay to his right wing political causes and blames mining deaths on earthquakes rather than poor safety practices and runs his mouth around town because he knows everyone is afraid of him.   He probably pumps Fox News Channel 24/7 into the employee lunch room (if they have one) and has a toadie walk around the parking lot putting Tea Party bumper stickers on every car.   What a dick.  This is Mitt Romney's kind of guy. 

BOB MURRAY, WHO is 72, is a legendary figure in Appalachian coal country...
Like a lot of mining executives, Murray’s a ferocious critic of federal mining regulations—even after the 2007 collapse at his Crandall Canyon mine in Utah, where nine people died. He also knows how to throw his weight around. In 2001, he sued the Akron Beacon Journal for $1 billion after a critical profile; that same year, he was acquitted of assault charges after allegedly throwing an environmental activist against a wall. In 2002, local media reported that he warned off mine safety inspectors with this line: “Mitch McConnell calls me one of the five finest men in America, and the last I checked, he was sleeping with your boss,” referring to Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, the senator’s wife. (Murray denied the account.) Murray’s fiery streak was on full display after the Crandall Canyon collapse. Wearing his trademark sweater-vest, he angrily insisted to reporters that the collapse had been caused by an earthquake—scientists disagreed—and railed against efforts to curb carbon emissions.
In August, Romney used Murray’s Century Mine in the town of Beallsville for a speech attacking Barack Obama as anti-coal. This fall, scenes from that event—several dozen coal-smudged Murray miners standing behind the candidate in a tableau framed by a giant American flag and a COAL COUNTRY STANDS WITH MITT placard—have shown up in a Romney ad.
The ads aired even after Ohio papers reported what I was told by several miners at the event, a bit of news that an internal memo confirms:  The crowd was not there of its own accord. Murray had suspended Century’s operations and made clear to workers that they were expected to attend, without pay. “I tell ya, you’ve got a great boss,” Romney said in acknowledging Robert Murray from the stage. “He runs a great operation here.”
I just snipped a few excerpts, you should read the whole thing..