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

unintended consequences and other musings


Only 10$ or 10%?

When negotiating, always consider the add-ons in percentage versus in actual dollars.    Let me give you an example; 2015 Chevy Cruze LS, Leasing for 99$/month for two years.  Heavily advertised WIFI option is only 10$/month (200MB) -20$(1 GB) – I can hear you now, only 10$ – 20$……

So, you just add that option and the price of your car went up 10%-20%!   Would you have agreed to the option if it was worded this way?

Lexus RX350 base price is $40K, Navigation is 4K$.  Just increased your purchase price by 10%  Worth it?


There is a reason car manufacturers/home builders, etc are heavily marketing add-ons – they generate a lot of additional income at high margins.


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.


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.


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.






US Police Force is 27% Minority Staffed

black policeLatest stats form the DOJ showed that minorities represent 27.3% of the total 477,000 officers in the country.  Blacks represent 12.2% of police officers while they represent 13.2% of the population – dispelling common belief that the US police departments are mostly white men and blacks are under represented.  Adding 4,770 black men to the officer rank would have them represented at the same share as the population – this would add less than .5 black officers to each police department (12,000) in the US. The real story in the graph is the lack of increase in Black officer recruitment.  While other minorities are increasing recruitment, blacks have remained flat since the mid 1990’s.   Researchers give various reasons; written tests that may be culturally biased, failure to pass extensive background checks, physical checks and the overall opinion that blacks have of police.


Your Pocket Knife May Be Illegal

belt buckle knifeKnife laws are emblematic with the loss of freedoms we have in this country.  Laws are complex and change sometimes within miles of starting on your journey.   These laws are so complex that many citizens are actually committing crimes in carrying a simple pocket knife which they would consider simply a tool.

I was reviewing the aftermath of the Baltimore arrest of Freddie Gray for carrying an illegal concealed knife.  The fact whether it was an illegal knife or not seems to be in doubt but the States Attorney has said it was a legal knife.  The local police argued with that view and said it may have been legal in the state (Maryland) but was illegal in Baltimore city (the filing paperwork by the police describes the knife as a ‘spring assisted, one hand operated knife’).  BTW, the knife clip was showing on Freddie’s pocket – does this mean concealed – I think so?

Knife laws are very confusing and inconsistent in most places, and have not kept up with advances in gun rights – I use a ‘Knife App’ LegalBlade on my iPhone (available on Android) to determine the various laws.

I looked at my state, Arizona first to see if my 3” long locked blade folding knife (CRKT-M16-01KZ) is legal.   Arizona is a bit easier since there is only a state law that pre-empts any local laws.  Looks like I can possess and carry (open or concealed) any kind/length of knife as long as I am 21 years old.  The exceptions are two that I was not aware of – I cannot carry any knife on the grounds of a public/private school or in an election polling place – I have violated this law many times without knowing.  Also, my knife has a clip that I attach to my pocket – the clip is not concealed so is that defined as open-carry?  Still have not clarified that but in any case not needed in Arizona.  Also have not clarified my responsibilities after being detained by the police while carrying my knife.  To further muddy the Arizona waters, you can often transverse multiple Indian Tribes on public roads without even realizing it – not sure what the specific Indian tribes laws are either?

I then looked up Maryland to view state law – State law does not pre-empt city laws – two cities and multiple counties have specific laws in addition to state ones.  Some counties have age limits – some do not allow a minor carrying one hour after sunset or one hour before sunrise.  No carry is permitted in schools and you cannot SELL a switchblade knife.  It is unclear whether concealed carry of an assisted opening knife meets Maryland’s definition of a ‘switchblade’.   All concealed carry of anything but a no-assist folding knife is illegal with the possible exception of proceeding sentence – are we clear now?

In Baltimore it is illegal to possess or open carry or concealed carry of a switchblade knife. Also, lots of confusion over gravity, assist and switchblade knives.

Texans have a aversion to throwing knives, you can own them but not carry them……for some reason…..

Is your pocket knife legal?

Do you know what all of the types of knives are:  Folding (no assist), Folder (Assist), Single edge fixed blade, double edge, Dagger, Dirk Stilettos, Bowie, Automatic Switchblade, Butterfly, gravity, ballistic, Belt Buckle (see pic above), Sword Cane……..whew….




It is more probable than not…..

smoking gunThe recent report that the New England Patriots ‘more probably than not’ were involved in a violation of the rules of the NFL by deflating footballs.  As usual with many suspicious news reports this year, critics demanded a ‘smoking gun‘ before believing anything.  Smartphone videos of everything around us are conditioning a new level of proof – we need very specific evidence before believing our heroes are ethically deficient.   A look at the evidence is interesting in the deflategate incident:

  • QB Brady would not allow investigators to review his phone/emails/text records
  • Equipment managers sent text messages to each other detailing the deflating exercise and discussed Brady’s anger with inadequate ball prep
  • Brady spent significant time with one of the equipment managers on the phone after the scandal broke though he had no communications with the same person for the previous 6 months
  • Brady treated the equipment managers to autographed memorabilia to thank them
  • Before the game, the Equipment manager went into a bathroom and locked the door for a few minutes with all of the game balls – said he used the urinal – there was no urinal in that facility.

I am reminded of a jury I sat on once trying a man for murder – a young lady on the jury found all of the circumstantial evidence confusing and kept looking for a ‘smoking gun’.  After a few days of deliberations, she finally agreed on a guilty verdict.  After the verdict was read, the jury was immediately sent back to the jury room to await the judge’s instruction.  After a small wait, we were told that this person had committed a previous murder and we were now going to try him as a habitual criminal.  The before mentioned lady had no issue with convicting him this time!

In other news, ex-President Clinton (‘I Gotta Pay Our Bills’) says nothing is wrong with Nigeria paying him $700K each for two speeches – the most he has ever made.  In his first eight years on the speaking circuit, he had never spoke in Nigeria.  Once his wife, Hillary, had been appointed Secretary of State he booked these speeches.  This is the same secretary of state that used a personal email server and erased all of her emails when Congress started investigating her.

Clinton and Brady supporters believe in the best and keep demanding a ‘smoking gun’ but the more cautious of us look at all of this and believe, ‘they are more probable than not guilty’.  …..we don’t need pictures – our brain/logic works perfectly well, thank you.  But, if you find any evidence that MY hero was less than ethical you had better find a ‘smoking gun’.