Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Ironically, although gas prices are down, propane prices haven't dropped significantly - at least not in Wisconsin that I've noticed. So, although you can take that trip to Grandma's house in your new SUV out here, she could be freezing if she doesn't have any alternative to propane, because she can't afford to turn the thermostat up.
I wish someone was giving more thought to vehicles for farmers. Out here, trucks are tools and every farmer needs them or something like them to haul stuff. It seems to me that no one is serious about designing fuel efficient, much less alternative fuel vehicles for rural use. We have practical transportation problems in winter rural climates that make 4WD a necessity, for clearance as well as traction. We used to own a Toyota Tercel Hatchback that got excellent mileage and had to put it on blocks from November until April because it was totally useless on snowy back country roads. If we owned something like the little Smart Car we saw buzzing around in Milwaukee yesterday we'd have to do the same thing - store it until it was practical again. Let's hope Obama and Co. wake up where rural transportation is concerned.
How true is this? I was involved in a job where I was driving in the mountains in very rural areas every day and I drove a 4-wheel drive pickup every day. It was a necessary tool. I had to have a bed haul weight of 1,000 pounds so that put me over small pickups. I know, I tried a 4 cylinder ranger. Not an option for what I did.
Monday, December 29, 2008
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of whatever.
the 1,000 pound gorilla (TVA) does not perform good and extensive safety and danger analyses, this is what happens.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
On one of my favorite subjects, I see in a report in the USA Today Business section on Friday that now that gas prices are down, Americans have quit buying compact and economic cars (down 63% from when gas prices peaked) and are now looking at larger cars and I am guessing trucks. If nothing else the American consumer is amazingly stupid. Again, my opinion. I am not saying all consumers need small cars or should not drive trucks. But how often I see one person in a vehicle, I wonder how big, how fast or how uneconomical they need to be. In terms of national security, the less foreign oil we use the better. Maybe there is a market for upscale smaller cars.
Cars of quality--I rent many cars as I travel and some are underpowered, some are tinny, some are solid and some have neat little extras like really, really nice seats with adjustable bolsters and automatic headlights. Some are old rear-wheel drive dinosaurs (used when driving around three or more people and you don't want an SUV.) It is just hard for the American psyche, where cars are part of identity and not only tools. There are many good reasons for higher corporate fuel economy standards. I can remember the first time CAFE standards and emission standards were introduced, cars really became large, underpowered objects. In the last ten years more powerful cars with better controls and comfort were the norm. Try driving a '63 Bug to see how far amenities have come with the same gas mileage. Better handling, more quiet, more power and much safer. and in some cases, more fun. I think, regardless of what auto makers say, that if the CAFE standards were raised again, they would rise to the occasion and make better cars. I know deisel truck drivers feel that soot traps and emission standards will put them out of business. Probably not, the market will adapt and the roads and the air will be cleaner.
As an aside, I am always amazed at how many big SUVs and pick-up trucks proudly have "Support Our Troops" stickers on them, or America Proud (aka love it or leave it) on them. So let me get this straight--you want to own a vehicle that burns more fuel, keeps us on foreign oil, embroiled in conflicts to keep the pipelines open to America and then want to Support Our Troops?! Doesn't this begin to seem incongruous?
On another note, GMAC is now being recognized as a financial institution by TARP and will be eligible for bail out funds if they broaden their business to include banking. You know they will and GM will have less control over it. They have already sold 51% to Cerberus (the holding firm that owns most of Chrysler.)Time to pack.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
From my best friend's blog--
This is the best statement I have seen about Obama's choice of Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inaugural.
"A couple of boys were calling my best friend a faggot one unhappy day at summer camp. Courses of action seemed slim to my adolescent mind. I could stand up for Jack branding myself a fag as well and insuring myself a miserable summer, or I could join in with the name callers, lose my closest friend, but assure my standing with the majority. I sacrificed my friend on the altar of popularity.
I don't think I need to tell you that political expediency was a terrific short-term solution but a long-term nightmare. My summer concluded uneventfully but none of those boys became my friend or did me any favors. And forty years later I still feel the loss of Jack along with a piece of my self respect that I can never win back. Mine was an act of cowardice and betrayal."
It seems Obama is now maneuvering through the summer camp of his political adolescence and is about to make the same bad choice as I. He can call the placing of a hate monger like Rick Warren on the world dais political healing or inclusiveness or any other nicety he'd like, but I call it pandering to the lowest instinct of the worst kind of politics."President Elect Obama, your victory was made possible in no small part to the votes and wallets of the gay and lesbian community along with our supporters. Turning your back on us does not make you more mainstream American. It just makes you a coward." -- Harvey Fierstein
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
In Richmond, CA a woman has been brutally gang-raped because she was a identified as a lesbian. I cannot tell you how glad I am that the Mormons, Catholics and other legitimized homophobia. Nothing like religion and God to back up hate. Happy Yule season.
At least Richmond is recognizing this as a hate crime. Not so good for this man. The last line is a classic--
"Shreveport police say they are investigating and the FBI may also get involved to determine if this is a hate crime."
Let me get this straight in my head: black man wearing Obama shirt is beaten by someone who was acting like a redneck and saying "F Obama" and calling him the n-word. I don't know, could it be a hate crime? d'oh. The FBI should be on this with no questions.
There are times I am so sad for humanity, and wonder if we are really human.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Great, now health-care givers with a conscience can refuse service to those who they feel are doing unethical things. You know, like abortion. Tony Perkins is probably having a party in his pants as I type! and federal funding can be cut off if a worker is not allowed their rule of conscience.
let's face it. This rule is a mysogynistic attempt by a group of true believers not to have to do what they feel is SIN. Well, I am loosely a Christian (in the gnostic sense). I am also defined by my profession as a health service provider. As a water operator, I am regulated by the same state body that regulates nurses in CA. Does this mean I have the right to refuse judgmental Christians (judge not, lest ye be judged) water and wastewater services. You know, go buy bottled water and use this plug to help until you get out of my district. I mean they are sinning.
If I see bumber stickers on a ginormous SUV or pickup stating I support the war, can I just shut off their war as they are murderers by association.
Let the games begin.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Karl Rove's internet guru died in a plane crash in Ohio. Sad. Seeing human life extinguished anywhere is somewhat sad.
But here we have a guy who was going to testify in a voter fraud case concerning voter fraud in Ohio. His firm ran many GOP servers. Much of the missing email traffic concerning the contested firing of Attorneys General ran through his firm, instead of the White House server (I didn't mean to get rid of the backup, I just lost the tapes). The vote-counting in Ohio in 2004, which gave Bush the Presidency for another 4 years, was diverted from Ohio to a site in Tennessee, which just so happened to house the GOP server too. So the crucial votes in Ohio were tallied in Tennessee by the same site that houses the GOP server. And only for a few hours. And this is what he was going to testify about.
His plane crashed as he was flying from Ohio to Washington DC. He ran out of gas around Akron. Excuse me, but if I am flying from Ohio to Washington DC, I would check the gas level before I left. Maybe fill the tank. So he did not even make out of the state of his departure when the gas ran out. Right before he was to testify. How convenient.
I wonder if he knows Ken Lay. He committed suicide before he could testify.
Yes, today is Sunday, where I get a chance to relax, read the paper and do Sudoku. Ahhhhhh!
So I have gentler rants of things seen in the paper.
1) Honda had to pull out of Formula 1 because of the economy. They were getting little return on an annual investment of maybe $100,000,000 per year. Audi likewise pulled out of American Le Mans series (where they had won everything in site for over 10 years.) Reminds of the joke we used to tell in our old auto shop (we ran two Pro Rally cars out of the shop). "How do you make a little money racing cars?" Start with a lot of money.
2) Canada is bailing out US auto manufacturers in Canada to keep them there. There economy would be hurt worse than the American economy if the Big Three went down.
3) Great article in the NY Times about how companies are cutting out 101k matching contributions as credit has dried up. Pensions have basically disappeared as American workers were told that "the company will match the 401k contribution and you can live on your investments." I am so glad that Social Security was not put into Wall Street, even though I am betting the plan was to put Social Security into Wall Street to cover how bad it really was. The next president would have found that there was a time bomb there and would have had the recession named after them. Things fell apart before the hot potato could be passed.
Anyhow, the point being that there was great quotation in the article which I will paraphrase- "The last thirty has been a grand experiment of workers making their own investments for their own retirement and it has failed."
4) The Bush Administration did not know how big the housing bubble was. They were unaware as late as early this year. How long ago did Atrios nickname this the Big Shitpile?
5) Lost in all the verbiage over the health of the Sacramento/San Joaquin River delta and all the new regulations is one point that is very important to me. Background-I have wastewater treatment licenses in a mess of states and helped write the new Water Environment Foundation Wastewater Plant Operation Manual. For as large and environmentally progressive California is supposed to be, what I have seen is a stranglehold of regulations, three wastewater agencies that don't work and play well together, tons of reporting and mandatory fines unlike any other state. Yet, the discharge standards in this state are the most lenient I have seen in years. For example, I ran a small wastewater plant the mountains of Colorado. The discharge limit for ammonia there was < 1.3 mg/L ammonia because of fish toxicity. Here in CA, fish are dying, especially salmonoids, and no one talks about the lack of ammonia limits. Sacramento alone puts 14 TONS of ammonia into the river annually. The excuse from the State is the flows are so high, there will not be a toxicity problem. That is right--The Solution to Pollution is Dilution!!!!! This was an old refrain from engineers that few reasonable people use any more. Heck, San Diego places primary treated sewage (meaning let 50-75% of the solids settle and we'll let the rest of the shit and water combination be discharged to the ocean. It can be diluted there. Makes you want jump right out there and swim on the beaches, doesn't it. BTW, Anchorage does the same thing because the area around Anchorage is basically dead because of glacial till so their not really hurting wildlife (in their opinion). Ever here of tides, idiots??!!
Also, California has this great thing called economic benefit. Meaning it would cost cities too much to actually treat the sewage to the level acceptable around the country. Wow. I know other areas have that clause in their laws too. But CA pulls that one out a lot. And oddly enough, smaller towns and polluters have to clean up sewage more than big cities do (keep in mind, I do not know how well LA cleans up their sewage). Just like Denver in CO has lower effluent limits than small towns. Why, because of costs.
You would think the reason to have BIG central sewage plants would be that the economy of scale would mean better treatment than a whole bunch of little plants, but that is seldom the case. The smaller plants get hammered because they can afford less lawyers and have less political pull than big cities (aka polluters).
Given that large centralized wastewater plants in areas of low flow and water diversions like in CO, or other arid areas can actually move water from its normal runoff point in a stream to a more centralized location somewhere else downstream, you would think that state environmental protection departments would want more smaller plants discharging at various locations and not disrupting the historical flows in streams, so water right diversions would not lower river and stream flows to the point where wildlife would be affected. Sadly, that is not the case. Ride your bike down the Platte River trail in Denver when there is a drought and see that the river can almost be dry until you get to the Denver Metro Wastewater Plant and all the effluent from the Denver area gets back into the river flow.
The diversion of the Arvada WWTP similarly affects the flows on Ralston Creek. The lack of North Lakewood and Wheat Ridge WWTP effluent can let Clear Creek run almost dry as their flows go to Denver now.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Sunday's can be fun, when you actually have time to think...
2) Government report out today showing that the government, when it could not prove how splendiforous things were in Iraq (aka Biggest Foreign Policy Blunder Ever That May Make America a Second-Class Debtor Country for At Least a Century), pulled shit out of its ass to make everything look great. Nice to know some people never get past being high school seniors. One Highlight--
The document has former secretary of state Colin Powell complaining that after the 2003 invasion, the Defense Department "kept inventing numbers of Iraqi security forces -- the number would jump 20,000 a week! We now have 80,000, we now have 100,000, we now have 120,000.'"
Not Even $1 Billion For Iraq's Reconstruction?
To oversee post-war relief efforts, the Pentagon created the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, a brand-new agency put in charge only two months before the war began. While ORHA's troubles have long been known, the inspector general's report provides new details on the depth of disagreements between the Pentagon and ORHA's director, retired general Jay Garner.
Garner also approached Rumsfeld for reconstruction funding, but the Secretary similarly was not persuaded by Garner's list. Garner presented Rumsfeld with four rebuilding scenarios, from "do what absolutely needs to be done and no more" to "redo the whole country of Iraq."
"What do you think that'll cost?" Rumsfeld asked, regarding the fourth scenario.
"I think it's going to cost billions of dollars," Garner said.
"My friend," Rumsfeld replied, "if you think we're going to spend a billion dollars of our money over there, you are sadly mistaken."
In the five years following that remark, the United States appropriated nearly $50 billion for Iraq's relief and reconstruction."Maybe this is the CEO Presidency after all. And to get rid of The Shrub, maybe all we need to do is offer him a legacy and a bonus. We can dream, can't we?
3) Sarah Palin's church is burnt by arson. You know, I don't care how little I think of fundamentalist churches, that just isn't right. Would i like it if a Wiccan or Buddhist or Muslim place of worship were destroyed? No, No, No.
4) Bosnia and Hezegovina are poised to erupt again because of economic hard times. Nothing like a little hard times and lack of food and shelter for people to start blaming again. see number 3.
5) great little article in the Sacramento Bee (the best paper I have subscribed to in years!!! more news that both Denver papers put together) about how right-wing talk show hosts are scared that the fairness doctrine, if it is reenacted, may put them out of business. What happens if progressive voices had as much air time as regressive? They now control over 90% of the air time.
6) another good article in the paper today about Green Industry. Best Quotation:
"Smart companies, investors and policymakers know that this is hardly so. Consider this: Several studies verify that equivalent investments in renewable energy sources generate jobs at a 4-1 or even 6-1 ratio if compared with those created by industries exploiting fossil fuels such as natural gas."
because most green jobs are labor and the money stays in the State or local region as opposed to buying coal or gas or fuel oil, where it goes to another state or another country.
7) Finally, a great 8-page article on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and future plans there. Keep in mind, without water exports to the Central Valley there would be little food for America and people in SoCal would be without water, but if it is managed the same way it is now, it is probable many fisheries will die. period. Now, what to do? For background, it would be wonderful to read Cadillac Desert, as the ramifications of western water policy are laid bare and they are not pretty, but the question always remains, now what do we do? You can't undo what has been done and LA and San Diego need the water. Do you want to tell 6,000,000 people to move to the Midwest? There is more water law in Colorado than there is civil or criminal law. What to do rationally?
8) and you have to love the auto industry one more time. honest. Congress screws you over, turn to god.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
I see today that VP Lutz of GM is saying okay to the car czar. Tacit approval to have an overseer. How bizarre has this story become? We piss away money at banks and insurance companies, they continue to get bonuses for failing and auto makers have to walk over hot coals on their knees to get a loan. And southern states are pissed (Thanks, Senator Shelby of Alabama) because their non-union auto workers for foreign companies must be protected. In the 60s and 70s the mandate (no Jeffrey Gannon jokes, honest) to buy American was a conservative dictum. Nowadays, not so much. I think we have proven that fiscal conservatism really is not about free market economy, but free money for the upper class. The bailout has proved that. A real free marketer would say let the banks and economy go down! But get a chance to bust the unions and the chops of the car companies, just to show you can't push around money men and power brokers, and they will grind down those industries. Makes no sense. Except if you look at it as a power play. and it avoids the real issue of health care adding to the expense of every car. It will be resolved when a real President takes over. Will everyone like the resolution? Probably not, but at least some Adult will make a decision! The elephant in the room is health care costs borne by every employer, but no one wants to say it yet. The auto industry is asking for a LOAN for pity's sake. and are willing to accept strings. But that is not obsequeious enough for right-wingers who want to bust the UAW. Or for Democrats who feel the industry must be punished for piss-poor vision. Time to get over our petty squabbles and realize we need the industrial base.
On another subject completely--
The fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta/San Francisco estuary are disappearing. So much so that salmon fishing had to be stopped this year in hopes of possibly repopulating the salmon run, which dropped from hundreds of thousand salmon to less than 40,000 fish.
Surprise, surprise. Pollution is a cause, as is the continual diversion of water to Southern CA, where it used for drinking water and crop irrigation (take away the water and America goes hungry, period). Heck, the canals are larger than any river in CO and WY, except the Colorado River. In the long run, the water is getting so salty, eventually it will kill the land in the long run (my dire prediction, no references and this is based on salinity results I see at water and wastewater plants extrapolated over 100 years). Of note in an article in today's Sacramento Bee:
"If the fish living in this water are not healthy and are passing contaminants to their young, what is happening to the people who use the water, are exposed to the same chemicals or eat the fish," Ostrach said in a news release Monday.
These contaminants are PCBs, which have been outlawed for 30+ years and are still influencing the food chain, pesticides (which are continually being aerial sprayed over fields in CA--can't imagine aerial sprayers ever missing the crops and getting it in the water, not from flooded rice fields next to the rivers, or that pilots may overspray just to charge more. I am sure they are major environmentalists who just make their living spraying poison.) and fire retardants! Yes, those chemicals we use to keep babies clothes and furniture from burning are now in the food chain. and in such large numbers that it is showing up in breast milk routinely in SF. Better living through chemistry, eh!
The complete article is very interestig and can be found here.
Monday, December 01, 2008
Maybe someone will listen. If there was more diligence when it came to tracking down the criminals of Iran-Contra, instead of concerning ourselves with looking forward and healing--this administration would not have had a free pass. Or at least hired the same dudes. They would have been disgraced and behind bars.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Okay, GM execs took a private plane to go to Washington to beg for money. Stoopid! with a capital S. GM leases its planes and had seven planes. They dropped two in December and are planning on cutting two more, leaving their fleet at three. Compare to Intel, where execs are mandated by policy to take coach. Which company makes money, or at least is not in line for a bail out? Hmmm. Let me see. Just so's ya know--OMG Palin-speech, language must be a virus! Ford exec Alan Mulally had a compensation of $22.8M and $750,000 of that was the use of the company jet by him, his wife and kids and guests. It was hard for him and his family to move to Michigan from Seattle.
My heart effin' bleeds. I got moved for my job and I still own my house in Denver because I could not sell it in the current economic environment. My kids rent it. I lose money on it. Notice the ambition of my son and his dog in the icon. (apologies to Jesse) Can I get a job where I can run the company into almost bankruptcy and make $22.8M? and fly in the company jet to see my kids and wife when I want? Oy!
And, yes, the auto companies need bailed out. Yesterday I mentioned that 2,000,000 American jobs depend on it. Today in the press they are saying 3,000,000 and I am glad that congress is asking for controls, a business plan and so on before they hand over the money. Management has made bad decisions. It needs to be changed. And when you ask for $25B, tough shit if you don't like having strings attached. I hope they can make them a world-wide industry leader again. BTW, link on Forbes.com states Detroit lacks salemanship. Isn't sales their business? D'oh!
One more auto-related item--GMAC, the financial arm of GM (mortgages, car loans, credit cards, etc.) has asked for bank status so it can get bank bailout money. and in the SacBee this morning they were stating that GMAC holds a controlling interest in Cerebrus Capital Management. That is incorrect. GMAC sold 49% of its holdings to Cerebrus earlier this year so it would have liquidity. This is important because Cerebrus owns 51% of Chrysler LLC. So, GM and Chrysler do have a connection through a management firm. That management firm holds Chrysler and GMAC, so with common management...
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Before I begin talking about the American Auto Industry, I need to say I am sad they need bankruptcy protection.
Why? Labor costs, pension plans, medical costs, bad strategy, bad marketing, lack of foresight. I mean how many Cadillac Cimarrons are out there right now as classic cars? Oh wait, you mean the Chevy Cavalier with wide whites and wire rim wheel covers and Iron Duke 4-bangers. Yes, those POSs. And why has Ford had "Build Bigger trucks" as their business plan for ever? They are lumbering giants of bumbling companies who make bad decisions. They are nor responsive to market demands. They are more like Refrigerator Perry running the ball, rather than Barry Sanders--go in one direction and not be able to change speeds or directions well. Strictly vertical management schemes. Peer review is unknown there. and bonuses are given to the most failed management. They are used to it. and broke because of it.
and worse yet, we need them. It may cost $50 billion to bail them out, but over $250 billion if they fail. and up to 2,000,000 lost jobs. Kaiser, Willys, American Motors didi not have enough capital to keep up.
The whole industry needs to be retooled. I wish I was smart enough to know how. Yes, you need trucks, you need profit, you need industry, you need electric cars, you need flex fule, you need hybrids (and I looked at a Malibu hybrid--got all of 30 mpg, big whoop). How do we make the bailout and then remake the companies. The executives who drove it in to the ground certainly can't (proving how stupid they are asking for bailouts in corporate jets).
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
...All the careful efforts during the nineties to present 'free trade' as something other than an imperial project were abondoned...seizing new markets directly for Western multinationals on the battlefields of preemptive wars."
The Shock Doctrine, p. 434, Naomi Klein
Three things this brings to mind:
1) Is it any wonder the U.S. is so loved across the world in its current administration and incarnation? Start a war so we can take over. simple. The catharsis across the world of seeing Barack as the country's new leader will bring large crowds, because we are so disliked in our current form.
2) Free market should not even be a debate anymore, it has worked so well for us over the past 16 years (NAFTA and CAFTA come to mind)--through the Enron debacle, the energy market bubble, the dotcom bubble, the housing bubble. This has all worked well for the middle and lower classes. Trickle down is such BULLSHIT!!!! It can't work, won't work and is not even worthy of discussion. So get proponents of it off of my TV. Oh, wait, the station owners want us to hear more about its virtues. I wonder why? The deregulation of the airwave ownership and the deregulation and submergence of news into "fair and balanced" profit centers (keep in mind that for every 300 hours of Republican or further right commentary, there is one minute of left wing commentary--but, let's not go there in this post) has provided propoganda to fuel that fire for over twenty years. Iran-Contra headed by Saint Reagan never received honest coverage (hell, Ollie North and G. Gordon Liddy are commentators on news channels instead of being Bubba's cell wife). All it has done is redistribute the money to the upper 0.5% of the population and those that won it, love it and will fight for their right to party while you don't. and they have the funding.
3) This administration is the most important administration in my lifetime. Maybe the most important since the New Deal. The WORLD'S economy is kind of crumbling and who Barack picks as economic advisors will tell us whether it can recover and recreate itself as a possible paradise. Or will it continue as a free market Stygian thievery? I hear Albright being part of the transition team and that scares me. The world will need a hybrid economic theory (not free market, not socialism, not communism--but something withhheart that recognizes the failures of all the systems and put in place safeguards so human nature and ethics cannot get in the way of what is fair) and practice if it is to survive as something other than a class structure.
As an aside, I have read many stories of Prop 8 maybe being the base of a right wing revolution, or maybe having a Black President. I have been in Kern County CA and talked to men at a gas station driving to Bumfuck rural nowhere to buy the parts to convert their weapons to fully automatic weapons because they feel the need to defend themselves from the gays and the blacks. The need for revolution is near the surface to them and they have guns. This will be a very tense time in our country's history. I don't feel these guys were aberrations. What they believed the country to be, based on God-fearing bible-toting white folks is changing. Add in home repossessions and economic crunches and we are sitting on a tinder keg.
Prayers, good vibes, reiki, whatever are needed at this crucial time.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
In the celebratory atmosphere many of us are feeling after the election (some exceptions are...), I am waiting to see who is the most trusted advisor on the economy. Will it be someone with a free market bent, a Friedmanite or a Keynsian? or some mixture in between. If you have not read The Shock Doctrine, read it. For me, it puts into an understandable context Confessions of an Economic Hitman and fills out so much of the background of South American politics I was just too stupid or naive to understand when I was younger. It makes listening to Thom Hartmann easier too. It is hard to drive, listen to him on the car radio and have your brain hurt. and it also helps put into perspective Rush Limbaugh's comments of the necessity of rolling back the New Deal.
Speaking of New Deals, I see the US auto industry may become part of the bailout. GM was looking at purchasing Chrysler LLC, but has no money with which to do it. GM needs $19.4 billion to meet commitments to retirees, payroll, benefits and suppliers. They are about out. They have already cut 401k matching payments. The industry is needed for an American economic recovery. There is no doubt about it. They are meeting with Pelosi to see what can be done.
But how should these industrial giants retrench? And can their administrations which have made so many STUPID decisions (just last week Ford, for the third time in ten years, is placing hopes of recovery on big pick ups and SUVs - do they know more than one note?) Ford could not figure out how to make small cars profitable earlier in this decade and now has problems. The November 2008 issue of Automobile magazine lists 10 cars that are needed for today's world and three of them are are already existing Fords, one GM (Opal/Saturn). They are out there and will be needed.
I often wonder if we are not in a situation now where you need to make a product and break even, just to keep the doors open. I am sure that will get you no bonuses (at that level are bonuses really tied to economic metrics or are they just expected. evidence recently shows the latter option as the way it is done.) You may even lose your job as investors take no dividends for a while. Aren't we in a situation where country needs to come before return on investment. Maybe keeping the doors open and lowering ROI is a necessary step.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
There is a great read by Paul Krugman today. he states that the Monster Years are over. I have thought of this a lot over the past few years and I hope the following is a coherent encapsulation of many and various trains of thoughts I have had. In my not-too humble opinion, the cultural war against mon sters has posted a small victory this past election, but....for years, I have never understood why the Monstrous Ideas spouted as truth by ninnies and feebs was given any serious thought at all. As a child, I would visit downtown Cleveland with my grandmother and be amazed at how streetcorner preachers ranting about the upcoming "end of the world as we know it" could generate some listeners, but how most reasonable people shook their heads and walked away, paying it no more attention. why, when teaching evolution was challenged as a source of the violence of Columbine, or when 3 presidentail candidates stated they did not believe it, there was not more of a shrug and dismissal of fools who said something like that, still amazes me. just that DeLay was not exiscerated by the news and was not an embarrassment followed by recall to his District lets me know the fool quotient in his District.
Just yesterday I had breakfast with a man from Houston who said now America is in for problems because we now have a President who will deal with terroroists rather than a strong leader like Bush who will slap them down all the time. I reminded him that Clinton bombed Al Qeada sites and wanted to bomb more until Lewinski, as he was then accused of "wag the dog" by very serious people. his rejoinder was that at least Bush bombed the Iraqis who funded and housed Al Qeada and that Rush just spoke of that yesterday. People still get information from fools and tools and do not think or read critically. there is not much of a broad opinion and fact palate among people, or time taken to develop one as they strive to achieve the american dream. or in the recession, pay for housing.
maybe it is time for progressives to realize that the victory over monsters is short-lived if there are still a preponderance of propagandists out there speaking foolish things in large markets, that the work of debunking fools still needs to be continuously done. I will use Houston as an example. Basic cable in a few motels I have stayed in on business has no MSNBC, but 4 Fox channels. Air America or NovaM is not heard, but Rush, Medved, Beck et al are omnipresent. In North Texas, at one time, you had America Freedom Network and the America Family Network as radio choices once you drove west of Amarillo. If there are no choices, people will still think monsters are real serious people.
one of the problems is who can fund a choice for Truth to Power, as hate sells. And deprogramming the message of propagandists takes time and money. In a short-term profit-driven world, even Sacramento could not support progressive radio, let alone North Texas. This is where the culture war against monsters needs to happen.I want no short-term pyrrhic victories, but there needs to be more public discourse, more Truth in the public air waves. Maybe PBS can start to be non-biased again. But I feel there needs to be more in the mass market for people to hear. my problem is how do you start that? In my hometown of Sacramento, what does it take to start an AM radio station, willing to generate living wages and small profits and how can funding be obtained?
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I was semi-joking about the American car industry and how there might only be one standing yesterday, but this came out today. I was bummed years ago when reading the history of the American auto industry that Studebaker, Packard, Auburn and Duesenberg disappeared. You, see, I love cars and some of those were classics. Engineering, design and performance classics that could not compete with mass production at Ford. I really felt sorry for Kaiser when he proudly stated Kaiser-Willys (pre-American Motors) had millions for R&D when GM had billions. You make one mistake when that underfunded and bye-bye company. Haven't seen many Kaiser-Willys or Kaiser Nashes lately, or heard "Hey Javelin" either. Yet they were unique and had a place in history. They were placed out of business because while their products were good, they were underfunded for business development and R&D.
So here we have a situation where Chrysler is going down. Daimler has given them a cash value of zero. If GM picks them up, that is basically a life preserver. They had the best 4-wheel drive technology (which is why they bought Jeep). They still have market niche with their hemi engines (even though in the world of high gas prices, it seems out of step, says the hybrid owner). A moment of silence for a company that really had "hot" cars during the 60s and 70s and never really recovered in the emissions era. They tried to downsize and still have fun cars--the Omni GLH by Carrol Shelby comes to mind, but the product line at that time Cordova, Aspen/Volare followed by the Kcar shows what happened. The minivan genre was their idea and is so copied that they deserve a cut of the profit and theirs is still the standard of the American industry. Their marriage with Daimler never worked and they lost, in a purge, the designers who brought you the Prowler and the small retro wagon whose name escapes me now. Ah yes, the PT Cruiser. Their brand niche was changed and identity lost and not quite recovered. I mean, who can point out an Aspen, Sebring or Pacifica in traffic? The Crossfire, yes, but the others--computer sez no.
On the other hand, VW is doing well. Puegot and Renault had their credit ratings cut. As an aside, in one of the biggest blunders in auto history, Ford turned down owning VW as reparations for WWII because "no one would buy a car like that." and then they had to rush out the Falcon to compete.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
There are times you need to read what you sign and know some basic rights.
Friday, October 17, 2008
It takes election season for me to see how stupid many Americans are.
On the October 15 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Bob Grant said: "[W]hat is that flag that Obama's been standing in front of that looks like an American flag, but instead of having the field of 50 stars representing the 50 states, there's a circle?" He then said: "Is the circle the 'O' for Obama? Is that what it is?" Grant later said: "[D]id you notice Obama is not content with just having several American flags, plain old American flags with the 50 states represented by 50 stars? He has the 'O' flag. And that's what that 'O' is. That's what that 'O' is. Just like he did with the plane he was using. He had the flag painted over, and the 'O' for Obama. Now, these are symptom -- these things are symptomatic of a person who would like to be a potentate -- a dictator." '
Grant did not further elaborate on what he meant by the " 'O' flag." However, conservative blogger Michelle Malkin stated on October 13 that she had "received several e-mails today from readers complaining about Barack Obama's backdrop in Toledo today. Apparently, some talk show hosts have also gone ballistic over what they think is an 'Obama flag.' " But, as Malkin noted, the flag appearing behind Obama during his October 13 speech was actually the Ohio state flag.
From Malkin's blog post:
I received several e-mails today from readers complaining about Barack Obama's backdrop in Toledo today. Apparently, some talk show hosts have also gone ballistic over what they think is an "Obama flag:"
That's not an "Obama flag."
It's the state flag of Ohio:
Any school kid who had to learn the flag, back when civics was actually taught would know the State flag of Ohio.
god help me.
I am beginning to think that there needs to be a citizenship to allow voters to vote. Maybe voting should be seen as a privilege instead of a right. I would prefer the latter when you realize the slippery slope the former choice opens up, but allow me a moment of disgust. Just like yesterday I saw a video claiming Obama was raised in a Unitarian Universalist Church making him a communist Wiccan using black magic to mesmerize the crowd in his speeches. I will post that later.
time for work.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Here we hoped that Christ Dude had come back to perform more miracles and battle the Anti-Christ in a match that would put Mixed martial Arts to shame. maybe even a cage or ladder match. But sadly, no. No Apocalypse, No Rapture. Nothing.
Just human error.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
I watched some of the debate. Enough to see Grampy say "That One" and variations of "He did it." You could hear his disdain for the junior senator. There are times I could see him in my head at family reunions leering at younger women, drinking and saying pull my finger. It may be me, but I swear you could almost hear the n word in his brain. I was waiting for him to break into "Get off my lawn!" He did come across as a curmudgeon.
That said, he got his ass handed to him in what was supposed to be his forum, with a sycophant as a moderator (Oh, he was better then Gwen Awful, but has anyone seen the real Tom Brokaw lately). Town Hall meetings are very different if they don't vet the town first and only allow regressives in. OMG, he sounded like an old fart last night. He reminded me of great-grandmother giving me $2 one night after I was married and telling me to take my wife out on the town. She was well over 90 at the time and $2 for her was a lot of money. I cherished it, but in 1976 that wouldn't even buy popcorn at a theater. Time had passed her by.
Face it. He was the best candidate for the Republicans in 2000 and Bush kicked his ass and he has been waiting since then to come back out on a reunion tour. Except he had to sell his soul to keep whatever chops he had left. It is sad to see someone so past his prime still go to the Crossroads and make a deal with the devil to keep his chops, but his body won't do it anymore. No offense, but even guitar and banjo heroes normally aren't as nimble at 70 or 80 (see Earl Scruggs) as they were at 50.
So how dirty will they get??? to win? I swear, Sarah Palin's (aka Governor Gidget) boy bringing back Osama from Iraq himself may not help at this time.
and if either Grampy or Vampy do not tell their crowds that calling a Senator a terrorist or saying "Kill him." is absolutely inappropriate and not fitting, if not downright repulsive to the American ideal in their whistle stops, they are contributing to the problem. Fomenting hate to win is a last ditch campaign strategy and at best gets you an office where people will expect you to be a pugnacious, mean son of a bitch and anything less is not good enough. At worst, fomenting hate gets people killed. That is truly unacceptable.
Monday, October 06, 2008
Friday, October 03, 2008
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Sarah Palin came out and looked good and chipper. Then she opened her mouth. She refused to answer questions that were asked but told everyone what she wanted them to hear. Sorry, the rules of a debate are to answer the effin" question asked.
What is your Achilles Heel? Why it is that I am a hockey mom and like soccer moms and joe six pack we work together to find solutions and blah, blah, blah. Okay, your achilles heel is you don't listen and twitter on endlessly with the social skills you learned by fluttering eyebrows and having joe six pack's penis do his thinking for him.
Just answer the god-damned question. and let's move the Israeli embassy. and as VP I want more power.
Why the hell did not the moderator slap her silly and say answer the damned question. drill baby drill and many more answers to catenations that were not relevant to the question? So it tells me she has no discipline, thinks she is great and does not need to listen and really, really reminds of someone who has been pampered her whole life like a star athlete. I mean why play by rules if I can flutter my eyes or wink and get what I want.
Christ, save me from assholes like this.
Monday, September 29, 2008
It is amazing to see this. Wow!
It is amazing to see this! Wow!
It is amazing to see this! Wow!
nothing more needs to be said, does it?
nothing more needs to be said, does it? really presidential.
nothing more needs to be said, does it?
nothing more needs to be said, does it?
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Anyone who has ever read my ramblings knows, I want a job where I can make umpteen million for taking a company to the ground. Rather than write what I read in the paper today, here is Chris from Americablog.
Kinda like being a failed CEO of Merrill Lynch ($161 million O'Neal and 9-months-for-$200 million Thain) or Citi ($40 million for Chuck Prince) or Bear Stearns (James Cayne for $61 million) or Countrywide (Angelo Mozilo for $110 million) or Lehman Brothers ($2.5 BILLION bonus fund after failing) or AIG (Maurice Greenberg selling $1 BILLION in AIG stock after the bailout). The latest prime example of Washington Mutual (WaMu) CEO who worked a whopping THREE WEEKS who is entitled to $18 million. Since when did being a failure become a recipe for financial success in America? This is what the Republicans have done to our system that used to reward hard work and success but now only rewards failures at the top. Some kind of message we're sending to everyone.
Washington Mutual Chief Executive Alan Fishman could walk away with more than $18 million in salary, bonuses and severance after less than three weeks on the job, according to the terms of his employment agreement.
But will Fishman follow the lead of another troubled financial firm and turn his severance package down?
JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500) grabbed up the banking assets of WaMu on Thursday after federal regulators seized the company, making it the largest bank failure in history.
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said in a conference call with reporters Friday that no decisions have been made about the fates of WaMu senior executives.
Back again, I normally rather do my own research, but as I was compiling links, I found this.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
I am just thinking that this bail out may determine the direction of the next Presidency. So I am attaching a letter I have written for my Senators and Congresswoman anyone can copy, crib off of or whatever. The links above are the contact your Senator and Representatives.
September 25, 2008
It is very apparent that the manner in which we, as a country, handle the current economic crisis will determine the ability of the next President to govern our country. If there is too high of a debt, there will be no flexibility in the manner in which he or she will be able to make long-term policy decisions based upon need and not economics.
I feel that there does need to be a bailout package, but the bailout package needs specific provisions. They are:
1) Give a specific amount of money for a quick fix. This may be $100,000,000,000 or $150,000,000,000. This can be reapplied for by the Executive Branch through the Treasury Department and approved by Congress. I would hope this amount may be enough to keep the economy moving until the next president can start to make policy determinations and place specific limits into a coherent long-term economic plan.
2) Give aggrieved homeowners who may be facing foreclosure a hearing with a judge to see if their home loan can be restructured, or perhaps their property revalued to keep it off of the foreclosure lists. Then let banks show the revalued assets so that some may be written off as “goodwill”. This may lower the actual property values as they are reassessed, but should keep the properties off of foreclosure lists, where the property will really plummet. It will also lower the desperation of those who are in this condition and increase consumer confidence.
3) Place limits on the salary and bonuses of CEOs that may be involved in the bailout. Also, place limitations on the amount of dividends that financial institutions may pay out to their shareholders unless they hit specific agreed-upon benchmarks. It is partially their responsibility that the economy has been so overvalued in the first place. Prospective homeowners could not have purchased homes unless some one said they had enough credit to buy them. Due diligence really is a function of the investor.
Thank you for your time and service in these difficult situations.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Website worth visiting--www.buymyshitpile.com.
and here is what Sarkozy said today--
"Those responsible for the crisis that has swept global financial markets should be punished, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said overnight in his first reaction to the latest bout of economic turmoil.
In an acceptance speech at an award ceremony attended by U.S. and French business leaders, Sarkozy called for the "truth" on the crisis to be uncovered.
'Today, millions of people across the world fear for their savings, for their apartment, for the funds they have put in banks. It is our duty to give them clear answers,' he said.
'Who is responsible for this disaster? May those who are responsible be punished and held accountable," he said hours before he was due to give a speech to the U.N. General Assembly.' "
I agree. We need to find a cause, place blame, devise laws to stop it from happening again and all that. Not just write a blank check. If the administration had this plan sitting around in case, one wonders what in case was. In case of losing election, let's fuck the American people. If this is a real emergency then let's approve what we need today and then next week and then the week after.
This is from the administration that told us Iraq had suitcase nukes. Don't piss on my head and say it the economy trickling down on me.
and who gets the assets, who gets to keep their jobs? Mr. I-loaned-way-more-money-than-we-have? or Mr. I-lied-about how-much-my-assets-are-worth. Isn't that fraud well above felony charges? just kind of wondering. where does mismanagement stop and criminal fraud start? honestly.
McCain yesterday was talking about not placing blame or finding causes, but making sure this never happens again. well, another notch in the proof of dementia belt is scored as logically, unless you know the cause and place blame, you can't prevent it from happening again. Mr. Keating Five should know something about fraud, but then appointed Phil Gramm as his adviser. Mr. Gramm opened the door for commodity speculation that was close to the S&L scandal. Connect the dots, Johnny Boy and I don't mean your liver spots.
Fraud was perpetrated on the world population and specifically the American people and right now we need to prevent people walking away like Neil Bush. Where are these tough law and order dudes now? worst economic crime in years.
could it be that people are trying to get this money appropriated because this election can't be fixed like the last two? Otherwise, why not put fingers in the dike until after the election and let the transition teams handle it. This stinks worse than the selling job of the war in Iraq.
This from today's Washington Post:
"They have distorted the science to such an extent that they can justify not regulating" the chemical, said Robert Zoeller, a University of Massachusetts professor who specializes in thyroid hormone and brain development and has a copy of the EPA proposal. "Infants and children will continue to be damaged, and that damage is significant."
Let me get this straight. The EPA is forced to change their proposed attempt at regulating a carcinogen because the Bush Administration has redacted some of the scientific statements in an attempt to make the cancer risk seem lower. Have we ever heard of the administration pushing around the EPA before? Isn't that why a basic conservative, Ms. Whitman, finally quit.
And why--because the military has actually spilled percholate (aka rocket fuel) into many aquifers in the United States and no one wants to pay for the clean up costs. This is a chemical that will migrate in an aquifer. It will spread contamination and does cost money to treat. But in the best Defense Department tradition (see fires at Rocky Flats in Colorado), it is not responsible. Yup, that plutonium, grew legs and walked. and we all know plutonium can just appear in FT. Collins, 60 mile north of Rocky Flats. Nope, no fires, never got airborne.
Percholate never leaked from rocket silos. Never got in the ground water.
What it comes down to is that the Defense Department is and has always been granted freedom to do whatever the hell it wants and dispose of waste however it can and then maybe later after enough public outcry kind of clean up. This includes accidental spills, too. I am not saying that they are just mean and cruel bastards with no regard for public health and intentionally pollute. Accidental things happen, but the Defense Department does not deal well with that either. It will fight cleaning up percholate, because finding rocket fuel in ground water may give you an idea where ICBM silos were hidden. Just follow the trail of percholate as it wanders through basins and aquifers and you may find where our national defense was at one time. Some rocket fuel manufacturers and some storage areas have contaminated groundwater and percholate is expensive to clean up. Some of the clean up levels cannot even begin to touch the proposed EPA level of 1 microgram per liter, or 1 part per billion (one drop per billion drops or one drop per 132,100 gallons--one person uses about 100 gallons per day so one drop per 3.5 years of your water consumption, including laundry and irrigation). Gives you an idea of how expensive this may be and why the military is pushing clean up into never never land. They may be hoping for a new treatment technique discovery.
If the next administration is a public service administration there will be such a backlog of everything and such a large debt, it will be incredibly difficult to deal with such expensive matters as percholate treatment of water. As citizens, it is just another thing we will be stuck with and all we can say is this is the worst administration ever.
Monday, September 22, 2008
I want to add my 2 mortgages to this mortgage mess. If we can pay millions in bonuses as we bail out failed CEO policy, can my mortgages be bought out by the federal government so I can retire and do reiki full time?
how do I get in line? Also, I would like a $1,000,000 bonus for stupid life decisions.
hey, when you are talking $1,000,000,000,000, it would only be .0001%. No one would notice. Less than the guy got for running Home Depot nowhere. 98% cheap at half the cost. see, I could be a republican.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
guess I did understand some of the world and US market banking crisis. But here is a great explanation. and don't be embarrassed if your eyes glaze over and you have to reread things.
So what it seems we are doing with the bailout is paying for everyone's duplicitous profits along the way. makes me feel good about life, knowing my great-great grand children will be paying for someone else's champagne on expense account bought at the turn of the 21st century. and they will never be able to retire. you know, I can take responsibility for my share of it. Did I become a political activist when I was told Reagan's trickle-down economics was not really someone pissing on my head, or when NAFTA and CAFTA took more jobs offshore or when the S&L scandal rocked the US (and Neil Bush walked away with Billions) or when ... No, I chose to live separated from the world in a commune. I did not believe the system could be saved. I did not think that it would all my kidlets and grand kidlets their lives to pay for choices.
Maybe the bailout should have consequences for those who stole the money. but how. I pose this question now, because how do we get back stolen money, or at least a portion of it. There needs to be some justice. If Clinton had pursued some of the wrongs of the previous administration, looking for justice in the name of country unity, there could not have been the atrocities of the current group of scheming power addicts, who are given rule by the oil companies.
Friday, September 19, 2008
The economic meltdown happened before the election. about 40 days before the election. maybe McCain can get over the Republican failure. Or is this the last big money grab by the invisible ruling class because they knew they will lose control before the election. Might as well grab all the money we can and stick the normal Americans and move our accounts offshore before the election type of grab. because we know we are going to lose the election, grab the money and run! like any mere average mortal could track the trillion dollar recovery money and who ultimately benefits.
what are the chances?
there already is telecom immunity, if any market immunity things start floating around either branch of the legislative bodies, I will know I am right.
1) Didn't credit card companies, with the help of Congress, pass a very restrictive and punitive bankruptcy bill a few years ago? I you look at the link, you see who was compassionate then. and how was the reformer. If this is McCain's style of reform, he is a mean old bastard. "Get off of my lawn" doesn't encompass his lack of compassion. Part of that bill was YOU HAD TO PAY BACK YOUR DEBTS. Now as a taxpayer, we bail out banks and credit companies and executives walk out with bonuses, in a few cases having the taxpayers pay their taxes (Their hiring packages were for the employer to pay their taxes, so...) I have some credit card debts, do you think the taxpayers will bail me out? I mean, don't you want to pay my bills? or you? or maybe you? We don't even have a say in bailing out firms who have shown the limits of free market capitalism. Thanks, Phil Gramm. I am very glad my Social Security money never got put into Lehman Brothers. Oh yes, who was for that? Could it be McCain? Heck, I was transferred and I still own my old house (a money-losing proposition, for sure) because the market is flooded with foreclosures. It would only be another $230,000 into a $1-2,000,000,000,000 debt we just were given. Remember, that money went into someone's pocket. It just didn't fade away. and I am sure the lower and middle classes did not get to see it.
2) Interesting article from the LA Times. It appears as though not only are conservative and liberal brains wired very differently. It seems as though one of the primary difference is the way we respond to fear. Conservatives are three times more fearful than liberals. Could it be the flexing of muscle and military might is a glorified adrenaline rush flight or fight response? I am betting it is in many cases. Great for the head of a military branch, or better yet a platoon leader, but for a federal government... That actually should lower my emotional response to many conservatives, but then there are those who are just motivated by lust for power and kingdoms. and a unitary executive. These guys are really creepy...
3) After hearing Caribou Barbie's response about oil being a fungible commodity and the goobledeegook that followed, I was reminded of another beauty queen.
have a good Friday. Music later.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
One thing I have always wondered--what good can come out of the economic meltdown?
I am hoping that this will kick start the Obama campaign and get him in to the Presidency. Truth be told, he was not my guy, but a necessary breath of fresh air over John "Keating Five" McSame. Honesty, integrity and good judgment count. Really. You would think that the stench of Neil Bush would have prevented any other Bush from being elected. Yes, the billion dollar bail outs continue. Seems like the free market really has no consequences to the leaders of industry. When a company looses billions it has to go somewhere and it seems as though much of the losses are going into the compensation package of business leaders. I have stated before that I want a job where I can run a company into the ground and then collect millions for doing it. Kind of like demolition derby with people's hopes, dreams, aspirations and lives at stake instead of '67 Chevy wagons and for more money. I wonder how they can sleep at night? I used to stay awake when I had 20 employees to make sure we had a good compliance record and higher prices, trying to market quality. Or if we had a problem, how to solve it and rather than write up and fire employees, try to train them. I still had to fire people and I hated it. I can't think of week, until I changed jobs where I slept more than 40 hours per week.
One item of note is Chevrolet if coming out with the Chevy Volt. A plug-in electric car option. The price is probably $5000 higher than a competitive market will sell easily. But, there are idiots out there like me who, when I lived in Colorado, paid the premium for wind power. By the end of my stay in Colorado, after seven years of doing it, that came out cheaper than regular electricity. Long live New Belgium Brewing, not only for their good beers, but all their power purchases are wind power and all waste is 100% recycled. Drink beer, help the planet. hee.
Finally, in today's Sacramento Bee comes a story that switching to renewable energy actually saves the consumer money every year. In CA, it is about $400-500. It will open up markets and is the best defense we have against having our energy consumption testicles gripped by foreign oil markets. Gee, you think if we quit pissing money into foreign markets the dollar may be stronger, more money would stay in the country and in terms of national defense, we might be less at the mercy of those who would steer our foreign policy so we can stay addicted to oil.
Would we be in this shape toady if Carter's plan towards renewables had not been completely stopped by St. Reagan?
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
This one takes the cake. Let a mine put untreated water into the river and then let the town pay for the clean up. Great plan. So good that the mining firm, Exelon, is looking for more mine wastes to dump into the river. and we all know that mine wastes are consistent and will only have iron and manganese. They would never have cyanide or acid mine wastes or any of the other fun things dump into the river. Nobody might forget and dump waste oil, or acid or anything, because mines never use chemicals. And mining companies are basically honest. Look at the way they take care of their workers.
Want to buy a bridge? or beach front property in Florida? or a garden paradise in Nevada?
This can happen. Your water, if you are in a city, or what is defined as a community water system by the EPA, is tested at specific points for bacteriological contamination. A community of 10,000 is sampled 10 times per month at selected sites. Let's say a contractor crosses a sewage line to a drinking water line and the system uses lots of chlorine. And let's say the sample point is about one mile from where the poo water mixes in with the drinking water. The chlorine may disinfect the water one that one mile journey. But let's say you live one-quarter mile (a little more than one-half a kilometer) away from the mixed lines. They may not be disinfected there. Ow.
This brings up a complaint about my field. I really like sewage treatment. Making almost drinking water out of sewage to me is an accomplishment. and fun--even if it gives me a somewhat twisted sense of humor. This field has one of the highest hazard rates of any field tracked by OSHA. When you enter the field you are normally sick within the first three weeks, until you build up enough antibodies as you come in contact with every disease that is infecting your community. One in every ten workers (it is down from one in every three about twenty years ago) has a parasitic organism in their lower intestinal tract. (I go through routine cleanses with wormwood and other such things annually, just to be sure.) You have very real possibility of blood-borne contamination from sharps (cleaning bar screens and fixing sewer lines puts you near used hypodermic needles, razors, broken glass, etc.) or from just getting splashed. I am experienced and still every now and then get a face full of goo. Ask my wife, my eye has turned red and swollen on more than one occasion from an inadvertent splash. Lord help you if you are a mouth breather. If you fall into an A-Basin, you normally drown and if not, the infections kill you.
The field cannot attract new workers. Can't imagine why after my description last paragraph. Most of us with skills are over 50. I mean look at all the fringe benefits. all the corn you can eat. and the pay is way less than a good salesman or an auto mechanic. and we all have experienced how easy it is to pick up chicks when you smell like a manly cesspit. The biggest issue is pay. A master treatment operator in Texas gets $14.50/hour, in CA $28/hour. Not much when you have the health of a community in your hands.
The above line sounds much better when Van Morrison sings it then it does in print. The linked article makes you wonder about swimming on Irish beaches, or fishing in their streams. I know our firm actually almost went into a contract with Ireland on their waste water plants until we found out they had no or very low effluent standards and therefore did not want to pay for good treatment.
So here is what that article means. Ireland has few secondary treatment facilities. That is technospeak (yes, even turd herders have their own language). Primary treatment means raw sewage comes in and has a settling chamber and/or a bar screen to remove solids in sewage. You know, poop, toilet paper, credit cards, rings, false teeth, prophylactics (if you're lucky--I know it sounds silly but we used to have bets on manual bar creens, yes, you clean the gunk off with a rake, on the colors of prophylactics. Bright orange, striped, psychedelic, white. Some suburbs must have had a lime green rubber factory in town. Okay, doing this job gives you a twisted sense of humor. We in the field know this. I won't go into nicknames of common waste products, but I will say prophylactics somehow inflate like balloons in aeration basins and unlike the fear caused by the leech creature under the foam in the X-Files episode, it gets rather comedic to see orange and other brightly colored almost-balloons floating, but I digress). Primary treatment is settling solids, maybe some chlorine for disinfection, maybe not and discharge. Solids then get landfilled, compossted or spread on farmer's fields for grain crops only. In the States, there are few primary plants anymore. Anchorage and maybe San Diego come to mind.
Normally, there is secondary treatment where lagoons hold the solids and nature's processes (grow algae, oxygenate that way) help lower Biochemical Oxygen Demand and ammonia. There are advanced secondary treatment methods where blowers provide extra oxygen where ammonia is converted to nitrate, which is less toxic. There is even more advanced treatment where you force starve the bugs (bacterial floc) and they actually then take up extra phosphorus and the nitrate converts to nitrogen gas and oxygen. The bugs use the O2 for food and nitrogen gas goes to the air. The phosphorus stays in the bug-bodies and are disposed of in compost or again used for fertilizer. The effluent is generally clean and disinfected.
So what is in Ireland is a bunch of primary treatment. It beats cesspits, but not by much. Yuck!
Combined Sewer Systems
Sorry, but it seems as though today is a bad sewage pun day. There was an article in a trade journal last Friday that caught my eye. Most people don't realize that many older wastewater systems have what are called combined collection systems. That means the storm sewer flows into the sanitary sewer. In the west where there is newer construction, for example Denver and Tucson, most sewerage systems are separated and storm drains go directly to creeks and rivers. In the Midwest and the East the storm sewers go to the wastewater plant. Why is this an issue? Let's say it takes 3 days to adequately treat sewage. You have tankage for 4 days. You get a big rain and your normal flow of 2 Million gallons per day (MGD) goes to 3 or 4 MGD. Remember you have tankage for 8 million gallons. So at three million gallons per day means you are short tankage for treatment after 2.3 days of higher flows. Most plants do not have one or two days extra tankage. They may have one-half day if you are lucky, if not right at maximum tankage. I have seen big rain events take flows of what is normally a 1 MGD plant to 10 MGD. The untreated sewage then just goes right through the plant and out into the rivers and lakes. and if you are in a built up area it costs a lot more to separate the lines. I don't know what Chicago is like, but after seeing all the rain they had, you have to hope they have separated sewerage systems. Cleveland has many combined sewer systems so if they get heavy rain, Lake Erie may take a hit. Heavy rain in Iowa goes to the Mississippi, washing out wastewater plants on the way.
Okay, it is diluted, but remember it is a drinking water source for someone downstream. In this year of elections, also know that most infrastructure repair estimates nationally are for roads and bridges and do not take into account water and sewer systems. Towns, cities and counties have to take the expense hit. The expense mentioned in the article is not an uncommon cost.
More Combined Sewer Systems
Over the weekend, I mentioned the problems with combined sewer systems and what could happen if a large rainfall occurs. Here is one such occurrence. Someone had asked (and I am grateful for questions because it means that people actually read some of these things) if consumers and environmentalists are rallying around these necessary repairs or if this is even an action item. Sadly, replacing combined sewers with separate storm and sanitary sewers is so far down the infrastructure repair list, it is not even an issue. Many small and large communities can barely make the financial commitment to make wastewater plants meet tighter specifications which come out with almost every plant permit renewal (5 year cycle). The funding is almost unavailable to upgrade sewerage systems.
The first article in my last post about Keokuk, IA stated it would take maybe 17 years to upgrade the sewer system. That is a long time and a very expensive process. One would hope that City planners can at least make new development have separate systems and then as areas are redesigned and upgraded with new roads, power lines, etc. then be made current at that time, but that requires long-term planning. I hate to sound cynical, but even local political cycles require reelection and if rates and costs go up too much, you won't get reelected. Most residents are not really proud of a brand sewage collection line, as opposed to a park. You see a park and ooh an ahh over it and the trees and flowers and wildlife. But a sewer line, big deal.
so much for the optimism and trusting human nature report for the day.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
In today's paper--
People in Yuba County, CA are looking for the McCain economic plan to get them out of their recession. This the kind of thing you can't make up. McCain's two chief economic advisors have helped grease the skids into this recession. Yes, I know Bill Clinton helped deregulate the markets and in one sense this collapse is the free market at work. More on this later. But Phil Gramm helped by getting energy deregulated (remember Enron and how Enron bled CA of its budget surplus) and also by sponsoring legislation that allowed mortgages to be traded like securities even if they were bad mortgages. The other, Douglas Holtz-Eakins, is writing:
“It’s arithmetic.” Federal revenue today is 18.8 percent of GDP and federal spending is 20 percent. Holtz-Eakin observes that “the pressure are there” to lift spending [on entitlement programs, mostly] and taxes to 23 or 24 percent of GDP by around 2020, and to as much as 27 percent if health costs remain out of control.
Of course, this is in his book that will come out after the election. Imagine that. So nice to know that his beliefs are being subsumed by a lying campaign to make sure power is grabbed. Integrity in actions. nice. God, I hate being cynical and sarcastic, but sometimes the truth hurts too much to see trampled.
What this article in the Sacramento Bee proved to me is that The Conservative Noise Machine, led by talk radio, has defined the debate in peoples' brains. They don't hear opposing views, so this is all they are familiar with. Sacramento recently had a progressive talk radio station that went by the wayside (bad management). So all you hear here is Rush, Hannity, Michael Medved, Michael "hand grenade up their butts" Reagan (good thing he didn't talk about nappy-headed whores, he may have lost his job!!!), Larry "hard-hitting interviews" King and Glenn Beck. I know there are others, but I avoid them like the plague--the doofus in Cincinnati for one. In fact, I went and bought an internet radio so I don't have to just listen to streams all day long. I am well aware not everyone can afford that and are stuck with their local cable TV news. (I was just in Houston and they had the choice of Bloomberg, CNN and Fox on local cable. When Bloomberg is the farthest left coverage, your dialogue is very one-sided!!!!!!) Many people I have talked to have identified Obama as a Muslim, a Jew or a radical Black Supremacist Christian. or an amalgam of all three, yes that is right-a black supremacist muslim christian jew--the worst kind. that is all they hear, don't go to snopes.com and therefore that it the meme in their heads. All they know is talking points.
Me, I am still wondering why St. Reagan isn't in jail for arms for money for contra aid and drug deals. why isn't Ollie North in jail or executed as a national traitor, let alone as a tv commentator and news dude (how discredited do you have to be for your reputation to go in the shitter); let alone rely on him a good source for Afghanistan news?