New Trade Deal With Mexico and Canada

Replacing NAFTA. US, Mexico, Canada sign USMCA trade deal.

US officials said the negotiated revisions to USMCA included stronger environmental and labor standards that would benefit US workers, as well as increased wages and greater powers for unions in Mexico.

Not sure what Canada gets, aside from not being locked out.

Problems with Lithium Batteries?

It can’t be. The media keeps telling my how great they are. EDITORIAL: Battery car burdens appear worse with each new report.

This is both the story of political corruption, and the devastating impact of lithium mining.

First, the perception of corruption. (I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.)

In 2018, [Colorado Governor John] Hickenlooper forced battery cars on Colorado with an executive order to adopt California’s emissions mandate. He signed it two months after boarding a luxury jet owned by the brother of battery car magnate Elon Musk to attend a Musk family celebration. The trip initiated one of several ethics investigations of the former governor.

Then there is problems with lithium mining.

A separate review published Nov. 6 in the science journal Nature raises extraordinary concerns about child labor, battery disposal dangers, and mining practices that make fracking seem relatively harmless.

“The processing of large amounts of raw materials can result in considerable environmental impacts,” the report says. “Production from brine, for example, entails drilling a hole in the salt flat, and pumping of the mineral-rich solution to the surface. … this mining activity depletes water tables. In Chile’s Salar de Atacama … 65% of the region’s water is consumed by mining.”

Cobalt mining has problems of child labor. Nickel mining contaminates fresh water and marine ecosystems in various places around the world, including Canada and Russia.

Unexpectedly, Car Sales Are “Epic”

US auto sales were epic in November, but that hasn’t stopped speculation about an expensive ‘transformation’ of the car business.

  • November US auto sales came it at a near-record pace of 17.5 million units.
  • Average sales prices were also extremely high by historical standards. The US market is on track to notch another robust year of new-car sales — the fifth in a row.

And despite the hype…

The alleged “transformation” of the car business has been underway for a decade now. What we’ve gotten is electric cars making up only about 2% of global sales, while putative disruptors, such as Uber and Lyft, have revealed significant challenges for profitability.

You mean the Lamestream Media has gotten it wrong? Color me shocked.

Journalists Are Distraught That Newspapers Are a Business

And it hasn’t been a very good business for a very long time. Tribune stock sale leaves company vulnerable to hedge fund known for ‘cutting costs to the bone’.

Alden Global Capital, which controls Media News Group, and owns about 100 publications, just bought a 25.2% stake in Tribune Publishing.

While that company no longer owns Tribune Tower (a classic bit of real estate that anchors one end of the Magnificent Mile, at the Chicago River), it does have some control over The Freedom Center. The plant where both the Tribune and the Chicago Sun Times are printed. It was actually part of the site included in Chicago’s bid for Amazon HQ 2.0 (or whatever it was being called.)

In written testimony for the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services, NewsGuild [a labor union] President Bernie Lunzer said Alden has slashed employment by 71% at the unionized papers since 2012. Lunzer said Alden “has slashed staff and sold real estate to extract cash from the news organizations without regard to the role news organizations play in communities.”

In other words, “We know newspapers are running out of money, but that doesn’t mean we should stop doing things exactly the way we’ve always done them.”

And some papers are changing. The Chicago weekly The Chicago Reader (which was about 99 percent classified ads when I was in college), and the Salt Lake Tribune are reorganizing as “non-profits.” Which may be a recognition of reality and not a strategy.

“Basically, being nonprofit is a tax status and not a business model,” [Joshua Benton, director of the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University] said.

Classified ads (of the print variety) were killed off by Craigslist and Ebay. Other ads were killed off by the internet in general. If you want new tires for your vehicle, would you search out today’s edition of your local paper to see who had what prices, and if there were any sales? When was the last time you read a newspaper? I’m guessing that the kids today would think getting ink on your fingers is gross.

Google Has Patient Data – Wants to Squeeze More Money

What a shock. Google has access to detailed health records on tens of millions of Americans.

Google quietly partnered last year with Ascension—the country’s second-largest health system—and has since gained access to detailed medical records on tens of millions of Americans, according to a November 11 report by The Wall Street Journal.

The endeavor, code-named “Project Nightingale,” has enabled at least 150 Google employees to see patient health information, which includes diagnoses, laboratory test results, hospitalization records, and other data, according to internal documents and the newspaper’s sources. In all, the data amounts to complete medical records, WSJ notes, and contains patient names and birth dates.

So much for protections for privacy.

Funny How This Isn’t Taken as a Sign of Climate Change

Climate change toward better conditions would be horrible. From the Left’s point of view, that is. After Years of Fiery Hell, California Gets Less of a Scorching in 2019.

Only about 163,000 acres have burned this year, a fraction of the 632,000 or so scorched in the same period last year. A wet, snowy winter led to a widespread greening in the spring, signaling there would be plenty of tinder around after a hot, dry summer. But the landscape stayed relatively moist after clouds moored above the Sierra Nevadas in May slowed the snow melt.

So when is it weather, and when is it climate change? I need a scorecard, or a flowchart, or something.

And maybe the good folks in Kalifornia need to get used to blackouts, because PG&E says it found some 100 instances of wind-damage that could have started fires. In case you missed it, the utility cut power to about 2 million people and the businesses that support them.

While that move has faced fierce criticism, PG&E crews inspecting more than 27,500 miles (44,257 kilometers) of power lines after the blackout found wind damage that included trees tangled with power lines and utility poles knocked to the ground.

Of course either way, PG&E loses. They cut power; they lose. They start fires; they lose.

F*c*book Is Acting Like a Monopoly?

Color me shocked! (OK, not too shocked.) Massive Facebook document leak gives ammunition to investigators.

Facebook is facing a new round of intense scrutiny worldwide after 7,000 pages of confidential files stemming from a lawsuit were made public yesterday. Those documents are not the ones California’s attorney general needs, though, so separately, the company is also facing a court challenge demanding it produce more documentation for an investigation amid allegations of stonewalling.

I have a F*c*book profile. It is disabled. I log in once a year or so and change the password, and disable it again. Because I don’t care to be someone’s product.

I Hope Calif. Enjoyed the High Tech Civilization While It Lasted

Because they are going to be living in the 19th Century. On and off, anyway. A new normal? Millions of Californians prepare to live in dark again as 3rd power cut looms amid fires, high winds.

Millions of Californians prepared to live in the dark again as the state’s largest utility warned it might cut power for the third time in as many weeks because of looming strong winds and high fire danger.

What no one in the media seems to be pointing out, is that all of this would be unnecessary if the state would (or would have allowed PG&E to) remove brush and dead trees. At least around the power lines. Does the utility have responsibility? No doubt. They have failed to maintain stuff, but then California has seen the most regulated electric power industry in the nation. Even when they called it “deregulation” they included even more regulations for what the utilities could, and could not, do.

Anyway, it’s hard to have a technological civilization with out technology. Virtually all of which (staring with municipal water treatment, and ending with refrigeration) is completely dependent on electric power. Not to mention, the internet, credit card processing, telephones, fuel pumps, traffic signals, …

“Unexpectedly” Minimum Wage Raise Is Closing Businesses

Oh wait, isn’t that what people said would happen? $15 minimum wage hike is hitting, hurting NYC restaurants.

Since the $15-an-hour minimum wage hit New York City in December, Liz and Nat Milner say, they’ve been forced to slash their full- and part-time staff to 45 people from 60. Quality has suffered, they admit, and customers have noticed: They’re not coming in like they used to, and when they do, they’re spending less.

No more freshly made tortillas. Just ones purchased from the supplier. Do you think anyone noticed?

Pay more and get less. Sounds like the strategies of the Left summed up in one sentence.

Rules limit the amount of time employers can train wait-staff, so they can’t even ensure that the service in their establishment is uniform. Which also impacts quality. And costs have gone up. So businesses are cutting hours, and staff and closing completely. (Hat tip to Wirecutter – And the liberals never saw this coming…)

They Underestimated the Number of Cars That Would Be Stolen

Rent a car via an app. What could go wrong? ‘car2go’ leaving Chicago at the end of the year.

In a post on its website, the company said it was pulling out of Chicago and four other North American cities after it “underestimated the investment and resources that are truly necessary to make our service successful in these complex transportation markets amid a quickly changing mobility landscape.”

Back in April there was a story about them losing vehicles. Rent a Car Via an App? They Are Stealing Them, Not Renting Them. In April they were trying to locate 100 “missing” Mercedes Benz.

The other cities? Austin, Calgary, Denver and Portland. Let me think… What do all these cities have in common?

Hat tip to Second City Cop, who says.

Oh yeah – 100 vehicle thefts of high end cars that resulted in something like zero prosecutions. That was a winning business model for sure.

Because you know, actually prosecuting people for breaking the law is unfair. That seems to be the position of Crimeshea, otherwise known as State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.

I Don’t Think This What the Green-New-Deal Folks Had in Mind

But it technically is a hybrid. Lamborghini Hybrid Uses Supercapacitors in Place of Batteries.

The Lamborghini Sián (pronounced “Shaan”) is not exactly a gas-saving marvel, though it is a marvelous machine.

The car’s Sián moniker, meaning “flash or lightning” in Bolognese dialect, denotes the first electrification of a Lamborghini production car. While most hybrids use electric motors to downsize the accompanying gasoline engine, in this case Lamborghini combines it with a massive V12 engine. It incorporates titanium intake valves and is rated at 785 hp (577 kW) at 8,500 rpm—the highest output ever from a Lamborghini power plant. Combined with the additional 34 hp from the hybrid system, the Sián delivers a total of 819 hp (602 kW), enabling it to reach a top speed of over 350 km/h (217.5 mph).

The electric part of the hybrid system takes advantage of regenerative breaking, and aids in acceleration from a standstill. Instead of 2000 to 3000 charge cycles of an lithium-ion battery, a super-capacitor should last through millions of cycles. They don’t have the energy density of a battery, but what they do have is speed for charging and discharging.

Sixty-three of these incredible machines will be built with a price tag of $3.6million. In case you have some spare change. Will they be eligible for tax incentives? (Are we still giving people $7500 bucks to buy a Tesla?) Hat tip to SiGraybeard.

Free Enterprise or Government Control

And if you look at history, which no one does, government control NEVER works. Home Depot co-founder: Bernie Sanders is the ‘enemy of every entrepreneur’.

The co-founders of Home Depot believe if Bernie Sanders were president when they tried to open their business in 1978, the home-improvement retailer may never have existed.

The mention all the usual suspects when it comes to government control.

Hat tip to Oppo at IMAO, who has more info on Bernie’s plan to destroy the housing industry in America.

Problems with Wind Turbines

What happens when engineers with grand ideas don’t talk to people who maintain stuff in real life?

So in my pinball-like movement around the internet, caused by my searches, and friends’ emails, I stumbled across Discovery UK video about problems with the composite blades that make up modern wind turbines. That is a long, but professionally done video. The only problem is the Pollyanna view of the people talking in the video.

It seems that the engineers didn’t think wear and tear on wind turbines would be an issue when they were built. Someone in that video even says that they thought wind turbines would be maintenance-free once installed. (That is spoken like someone who never got outdoors on the water.)

Salt spray. Hail storms. Particulate matter in the wind. All that combined with the fact that the blades are moving at about 150 MPH or better, means that the leading edges are going to deteriorate.

They talk about “poor performance” in the Discovery UK video, but I can’t help but wonder if unbalanced blades, and the resulting strain on drive shafts doesn’t account for at least some of the Wind Turbine failures you can see in videos everywhere. Aside from blade failures (which can be spectacular) there are number of fires that seem to break out in the hub of the turbine. Some of them are spectacular as well. (Glass reinforced plastic can burn really well.)

So after seeing the Discovery UK video at the top, where there was an “Up Next!” selection from YouTube that included turbine failures, I went looking. And it wasn’t hard to find problems.

But I’ll control myself and only talk about one. One. Incredibly. Stupid. Problem. Galled stainless steel fasteners. (OK, I won’t be able to limit it to one issue.) How galled fasteners may affect wind-turbine O&M.

Standard stainless steel bolts and fasteners have a tendency to gall under certain conditions because of their specific properties. Thread galling can occur with standard fasteners when pressure and friction cause the bolt threads to seize to the threads of a nut or a tapped hole.

Severe galling, known as “cold welding,” can also cause the two surfaces to fuse together. This makes the joint impossible to remove without cutting the bolt or splitting the nut.

That article is clearly from a management perspective, but it is from last month, and in an “engineering” publication. And it must be news to someone, unless they are just really desperate for articles.

Now I’m not an engineer. I have a degree in mathematics and I spent most of my career doing Information Technology stuff. Well, and managing people. But even I know that galling is a problem. Which is why there are anti-seize compounds. And more expensive anti-galling fasteners. I haven’t found examples of stainless bolts being driven into tapped holes in aluminum structures, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find that done either. In a salt-water environment, that kind of thing (which I have seen done) doesn’t work out in the long run.

I haven’t seen mention of stress fractures in the stainless. They probably won’t show up for a bit. I have seen a 1/2 inch by 3 inch piece of stainless so riddled with fractures that my friend was able to break it into 2 pieces by hitting it on his thigh. Sailboat fittings can see a lot of stress, but probably not as much as you find on a turbine hub, 300 feet in the air, off the coast of Scotland.

Oh, and those damaged blades, which apparently need to be replaced every 10 years or so, can’t be recycled. Sioux Falls landfill tightens rules after Iowa dumps dozens of wind turbine blades.

This year, 101 turbine blades have been trucked to the city dump. But with each one spanning 120 feet long, that’s caused officials with the landfill and the Sioux Falls Public Works Department to study the long-term effect that type of refuse could have on the dump.

Then there are the complaints about turbines on the great lakes suffering leaking gearboxes and dumping a not insignificant amount of used oil into the water.

Environmentally responsible engineering, apparently carried out by people who don’t have much experience with the environment.

They Keep Telling Me That Gang Violence Is Due to Bad Economic Prospects

So aside from a booming economy, what can be done? NYCHA crime surges as Harlem’s Wagner Houses become gang battleground.

While the city enjoys a 4% decrease in serious crime so far this year, NYC Housing Authority complexes saw a 5% increase in the seven index crimes, according to NYPD data through Sept. 1.

Murders surged 17% compared to the same period last year, and shootings were up 13%. Citywide, murders were down 4%, and shootings up 8%.

More cops would probably help, but then accusations of “over policing” were being thrown around a few years ago.

Why Are Lead Pipes Still in Our Water System?

How long has it been since we knew lead was an issue? Lead in NJ water: Plan to replace residential pipes in Bergen, Hudson stuck in legal limbo.

A plan to offer a discounted rate to Bergen and Hudson county residents to replace lead pipes that connect their homes to water mains has become mired in a six-month legal quagmire over who will ultimately pay for the new pipes, hampering efforts to remove the dangerous metal from the water system.

I have an ideal. Let’s take all the money we give to Mexico in “foreign aid” and also the money we give to every other country that is dumping “refugees” on us, and just pay to replace all the lead pipes. I bet we could get it done is a couple of years. And if that isn’t enough, we could take the budgets for the ATF, the Dept. of Education, and maybe a few others. “It’s for the children!”

“Unexpectedly” the Economy is Doing Fine

The media keeps talking about recession, hoping that one will materialize. So far, no one seems to be paying attention. US retail sales rise more than expected in August as auto sales surged.

The Commerce Department said on Friday that retail sales climbed by 0.4 percent in August, well above analyst expectations of 0.2 percent, on the heels of blowout data in July, when households boosted purchases of cars and clothing.

“Healthy consumer spending is being driven by the good jobs market and increasing wage growth, two powerful factors that can overwhelm anxiety-generating events that can curtail spending,” said Robert Frick, corporate economist at Navy Federal Credit Union.

Hat tip to Sundance at The Last Refuge. Best “Recession” Ever – Retail Sales Show “Unexpected” Growth in August -AND- Despite Tariffs Import Prices Drop…

Not only are most Americans not listening to the insanity being spewed by the talking heads…

Additionally, remember all those MSM hours and newspaper column inches where the professional financial pundits were claiming Trump’s tariffs were going to cause massive increases in prices of consumer goods?

Well, exactly the opposite is happening [BLS report] Import prices continue to drop:

Click thru for the graphic.

What Business Model?

How much money has Uber burned through this year? California passes bill that threatens Uber and Lyft’s business model.

Both houses of California’s legislature have passed sweeping legislation requiring businesses to treat more of their workers as employees rather than independent contractors. As a result, more workers will enjoy protections like the minimum wage and benefits such as unemployment insurance. The bill is now on its way to Governor Gavin Newsom, who is expected to sign it.

In terms of the money that Uber doesn’t have… Biggest quarterly loss ever: Uber earnings disappoint as share prices tank.

Uber lost $5.24 billion in the second quarter

And Lyft? Everyone (on Wall Street) is excited because Lyft didn’t lose as much money as they expected. They still lost money.

The Tyranny of Bureaucracy

Tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, over ridiculously small crap, like installing a washing machine. The Law Was Aimed at Deadly Machinery. It Hit Her Washer..

Many examples of a bureaucracy that was supposed to stop cranes from falling, stopping people from doing simple stuff.

The response from the bureaucrats, once they got around to acknowledging the issue.

The agency was merely enforcing the laws as written.

That old law of Unintended Consequences.

So the next time you hear people telling politicians to “Do something,” consider that they almost always do the wrong thing. See Huxley’s definition of “Progress” is you’re confused.