Day 40-Quarantine-Security

My boss, owner of the company, had a preoccupation with security. Most of us didn’t understand it at first, but got the idea with time. He was an inventor who liked to test his ideas for success in the market place. If an invention was good, the product sold. If it was a dud, it flopped. His record, however of dreaming up great ideas vs dumb ideas was to his favor. I always thought the eyes of God were upon him and he capitalized on it.

Our security in the plant was simple. If you needed to know something you could know it. If you didn’t need the information for your job, then you stayed in the dark. It wasn’t until 2016, sixteen years after I retired from a forty year career that I read the book titled The Girls Of Atomic City, The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win WW II. The story is about the development of the atomic bomb known as the Manhattan Project. Scientists needed enriched uranium in large quantities to develop the weapon. A sister project was begun in the Smokey mountains far away from Los Alamos where the actual bomb would eventually be made. All they started with was a piece of property in the middle of nowhere miles from any city or town. A clean sheet of paper. They hired people from the big cities under contract. They paid huge salaries and made the employees swear to secrecy. They established laboratories, dormitories, factories, transportation systems, and life sustaining towns within the boundaries of this government property. They operated on a need to know basis. If a particular process required ten operations each separate from one another, each was kept secret from the others. If your job was to drill a hole in a piece, and you didn’t need to know what the hole was for, or why it was needed you drilled the hole and passed the piece on to the next department. You didn’t know who worked there or what they did there, nor why. Passing from one department to another required getting a security check before being allowed to enter, even if you worked in the department. When I read this description of how they treated security I understood where our system came from. My company operated exactly the same way.

I was a long time employee when I finally asked the boss why we are so careful about our confidential processes. His answer, “I spent a lot of time and money learning how to make our products, if our competitors want to make the same thing as good as we do, let them learn on their own.” Great idea, if they actually do it by experiment, but it is much easier and quicker if you steal the process.

A billboard posted in Oak Ridge. 31st December 1943. The town of Oak Ridge was established by the Army Corps of Engineers as part of the Clinton Engineer Works in 1942 on isolated farm land as part of the Manhattan Project. The site was chosen for the X-10 Graphite Reactor, used to show that plutonium can be extracted from enriched uranium. Tennessee, USA.  (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)
Social Distancing to Keep Your Job a Secret
A Very Heavily Enforced Policy

When my company finally decided to establish a manufacturing facility in the far east we did it with security in mind. My boss wouldn’t trust a Chinaman with any of our proprietary manufacturing processes, but he did like making money. He sent his crew to Singapore, a small Island City-Country off the tip of the Malaysian Peninsula south of China. The population was eighty percent Chinese, they speak a form of English, and they are a free market economy. Whereas China is a socialist country, speaks only Chinese, and believes that capitalism is stupid.

Because the boss still didn’t believe the new operation should have our state of the art processes, he chose to send only the archaic high-cost operations to take advantage of the lower labor rates, and then applied the same or even stricter security rules as we used in the US. I’ve told this story before about one of our managers visiting cable tie manufacturing plants across Asia and finding one that made a carbon copy of our design. He challenged them and their reply was “yes, we copy you because you have the best design.” They spent some money to get our design, so I guess it was okay? Wrong, our designs are patented and protected. I never did find out if we sued them or not, I didn’t need to know.

We hear a lot about China stealing designs and intellectual property. What most people think about is stolen music, or lyrics, or art. Intellectual property includes all forms of designs. They steal designs daily. Of course many of our companies, mine included, encourage the theft by recognizing they do it, and looking the other way instead of prosecuting them. I think the reason is because we don’t know how to prosecute or sue a Chinaman in their courts, or even if they have any courts.

We can thank COVID-19 for raising our awareness about the problem of sending products to China for low cost manufacturing. Our drugs are now made there, not here. So, they can hurt us big time by delaying shipment or even denying shipment if they want to. They are now making aircraft carriers, airplanes, war materials all patterned after our best designs. In some cases we gave them the designs. I still remember slick Willy Clinton agreeing to send them plans for missiles.

A time will come when Americans will again look for the label to say Made In America meaning the United States of America and not America, China. For your edification the Japanese out smarted us for awhile by making things in the town of Usa, Japan, and then labeling the product Made In USA. We better hope and pray that our homeland companies continue to make ammunition on our shores. 

Day 24- Quarantine, COVID-19 Warrior

 

 

COVID-19 WARRIORIt is a beautiful Good Friday in Frankfort, Illinois today as the COVID-19 Warrior made his patrol around the town. Armed with his trusty bar of soap, face mask, goggles, and gloves, only thing spoiled the day, the temperature is a brisk 40 degrees Fahrenheit. After all it is still only April. Last year around this time we had snow.

I watched the news this morning for just enough time to realize the world is going stir crazy over COVID-19.  Two short weeks ago all I heard was how we were going to watch our country die if we didn’t hunker down and hide from the virus. The President was a national hero by reporting daily the efforts being made by all to avert deaths. Hospitals of a thousand or more beds were being constructed, masks were in short supply, then other forms of protective gear also went short. Health workers were the new warriors on the front-line fighting the invisible enemy. I have to agree, nurses and doctors have been working valiantly to maintain order and sanity in our health care system.

I have also been reading many blogs and news sites about how the virus spread and its origination from Wuhan. How the World Health Organization (WHO) told us in the early days that the virus is not spread by people. How they supported China and their efforts to control the spread. Yet somehow, the USA has the virus all across fifty states while China has it only in one geographical area which coincidentally is the home of a biological lab. How can China keep the virus from spreading across its country and we can’t? Either they don’t travel anywhere except to the USA, or their mitigation efforts are much more advanced than ours.

I have conjured two wild conspiracy theories which I want to spread across the internet as food for thought.

  1. It is known that China has set up an area to which they send their muslims. There are over a million muslims now held in limbo in this area. It makes logical sense to me that some radicalized muslim group would inflict the scourge of COVID-19 upon the perpetrators of this atrocity by stealing the virus from the biological lab, and  spreading it all about the Wuhan area. They were able to do so with abandon because they are jihadists and ready to die for their cause. By the way, so what if the virus crosses into Europe and to the USA there are infidels everywhere?
  2. China’s ultimate goal to rule the world is widely written about, and this may have been their way of stepping up the plot. What better way to cripple the Western World than to kill the economies of their countries? President Trump zeroes in on China with his philosophy of evening out the playing field of trade. He is right, but the deal he made with China has cost them dearly, and this Pandemic may be China’s answer to slowing or even destroying the American economy. One can never underestimate the extent a communist country will go to to spread it’s stupidity.

I totally agree with the President’s next target the World Health Organization. Why is America paying four hundred and fifty billion dollars a year to support the WHO when China only pays forty billion? A very good question. Gone are the Nixon days of the seventies when China had no way to feed it’s people. It is no secret that the USA and European companies all ran to China to takes advantage of their cheap labor so we could enjoy low cost products. The USA gave up its entire manufacturing capability. My company did the same. The problem is that we are still treating poor China s if they were still poor. They are not. They are a huge economy only a few dollars away from overtaking the United States or the EU. So why should we continue to treat them so favorably like they were poor China. They are fat-cat capitalistic communists. They have learned to adopt capitalism as a tool for spreading their socialist government.

China still has many millions of people who are poor and starving, but they are also very rich and can use some of their wealth to put into practice some of their own socialist ideas. Why are they not leveling the way of life for all their people in the Bernie Sanders, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer socialist way? Instead they have created two societies, one poor, and one very rich, and they play the world to sympathize with their poor, and control the rich with the iron fist.

Here are some of the things the President and his task force are being accused of:

  1. Not stopping travel to the USA. Not true, Trump banned flights from China as soon as he could in January. This was not an easy decision to make. His mistake was not realizing that travelers from China to the USA would take another route to get here, i.e. via Europe. When he finally woke up he shut off that route also.
  2. The task force refused to recommend wearing masks. Why? Early on the WHO said it wasn’t necessary.
  3. The task force changes the model used to change outcomes to suit their agenda. My opinion is that even if they didn’t use the same model throughout this pandemic it wouldn’t change the result much. The models are all based on mathematics and the formulas are derived from differential equations. Anyone with experienced with differential equations knows that you can incorporate hundreds of variables, and if you don’t know enough about a particular variable you make assumptions. Also, many variables are dropped if the assumption is they are inconsequential. All of us knows that assumptions often make an ASS out of U and Me.
  4. Trump should open the economy and let the virus run its course. True, in that we will not develop an immunity to the virus if we don’t catch it. Is it worth the deaths that might occur to pay for that immunity? If the deaths predicted by the early model calculations occur I would answer no, it is not worth it. If the deaths that occur are no greater or slightly higher than that of a normal flu season, my answer is yes its s worth it.  Is the natural (herding) immunity gained worth destroying our health care system worth it? No, not in my opinion but two trillion dollars is huge price to pay. I think we could rebuild the health care system for less than two trillion dollars.

Most of the answers to the questions being posed require a crystal ball. There is only one entity that can answer them with accuracy, that is only God has the answers. Yet, I believe there will be fighting over this matter to change the minds of voters to put the blame of this pandemic on Trump. They will do it just to get their socialist feet in power, and thus give China the upper hand at ruling the world.

One Way To Enforce Stay In Place, Or Maybe It Is Just Poor Planning.

 

Day 12-Quarantine-Respirators by GM?

This post will not be a reflection of my day, rather an opinion on President Trump’s latest effort to move the country through the COVID-19 virus. This morning I listened to a news bit about Trump’s direction to General Motors to make respirators by the thousands and in a hurry. GM offered to help the country, but is moving slowly so the president being a typical impatient CEO has taken over and is using the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to force them into action. My comment on that is “Good Luck Pres.”

At one time GM was the largest car maker in the world and they let the Japs take it away from them. If any company will work like government i.e. slow, sluggish, takes forever, gets lost in its own bureaucracy General Motors is it. One of their largest problems has been with dealing in downsizing in order to increase profit. They have not learned how to make more with less, and that is after thirty years of trying. One anchor around their corporate neck is the UAW union.

coronavirus_ventilators_032520getty

GM knows how to make cars, that is their business and that is what they can do best. How in the world will they be able to translate car manufacturing into respirators is a wish. Unfortunately, wishes don’t get things done. I give them credit for trying.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I am a disgruntled former GM employee. I started at GM in 1963 working for the Electromotive Division. At that time GM had over 90% of the world market share for diesel locomotives. What is their market share today? Who knows, but they lost the bulk of it to competitor’s because of two reasons; 1. They didn’t listen to their customers, and 2. They continued to kiss the ass of the UAW. GM finally gave up making locomotives in 2005 after converting the world from steam to diesel.

2020-gmc-yukon-mmp-1-1579200879

I can not picture the kind of respirator that GM will build. It will most likely have four wheels and great styling, and they will all look like a Chevy or Cadillac . . .  SUV’s.

Another problem is that GM produces cars from components made in countries around the world. They only assemble them in the US. An internet search reports that 55 percent of GM car parts are from the United States and Canada, 20 percent from Japan, 15 percent from China,…

Any car company would be better off starting a new factory in an available warehouse with all new CNC machines installed for making parts. They would also buy ready made high volume components like pumps from companies that make pumps for a living. Put a team of engineers on this project and challenge them to get the problem solved, and respirators made in record time. I wouldn’t use GM engineers, because their culture is not to do things fast. The guys at Ford would be better suited for this type of project.

In my day as Chief Engineer, I would have had a field day managing this kind of work, and could easily have respirators in production quickly. The only requirement being that we don’t have to design the device from scratch.

Companies that make equipment like respirators for hospitals.

  • Resmed (USA)
  • Weinmann (Germany)
  • Philips Healthcare (Netherlands)
  • Carefusion (USA)
  • GE Healthcare (USA)
  • Medtronic (USA)
  • Fisher & Paykel Healthcare (New Zealand)
  • Teijin Pharma (Japan)
  • MEKICS (South Korea)
  • Dräger Medical (Germany)
  • DeVilbiss (USA)
  • Apex Medical (Taiwan)
  • Air Liquide (France)
  • Hamilton Medical (Switzerland)
  • SLE Ltd (United Kingdom)
  • eVent Medical (USA)
  • Maquet (Germany)
  • Siare Engineering (Italy)

I don’t see General Motors on this list anywhere. I would use these companies to make respirators en masse, not GM.

Another thing, I would demand a realistic estimate of the quantity needed. There is at least one report I read that stated we need seven billion respirators. Really? That is one for every citizen on the planet Earth. That is panic reporting and stupid. Not all seven billion people on this planet are sick today. The panic sellers conclude that this pandemic has the potential for infecting the entire Earth. Even if that happened only a small percentage would need respirators. And if we all needed them who would be healthy enough to hook us up to them? Calm down folks, there comes a time when we have to let nature take it’s course.

People who worry about death from pandemics also worry that the population of the Earth is too large thus causing all kinds of pollution and global warming.  Wars reduce population too, so does terrorism, and humans love to kill each other. A good purge might be healthy for Earth.

My prediction is that we will get through this pandemic in good condition because the virus will disappear for reasons we don’t understand. That will give us some time to finish and proof the vaccines in process, and that will happen long before GM can tool up to make seven billion respirators.

 

Trust Me!

The latest news from GM has given me an outstanding business idea. This is so good that I can’t keep it to myself and will let you get in on the action too. General Motors announced their plan to close a number of plants in Michigan and Ohio with a minimal layoff of fifteen thousand workers.  It seems they can’t sell cars anymore like the Japanese, and Koreans so they want to concentrate on designing and building electric cars in China. The sales on the Chevy Volt were so spectacular they couldn’t satisfy demand. Rather than disappoint buyers by not selling them a car, they shut down Volt operations.

A few short years ago Obama deemed General Motors too big to fail. Actually, Obama didn’t give a hoot about the company, what he meant was the United Auto Workers union was too big to fail.  He generously donated fifty billion of our tax dollars to the company in a bailout to save all those voters, er . . . I mean UAW workers. You and I paid five hundred dollars each to that cause through our taxes. Smart asses protecting the great one will argue that GM paid forty billion back. Okay, so GM only owes us $100 each. Had the government kept out of the deal in 2008 GM would have filed for bankruptcy and reorganized. The problem is that the reorganization would have eliminated the UAW.

My experience with GM runs hot and cold. I worked for GM in the nineteen sixties when they were the largest car maker in the world. Their profits were around four billion dollars. They could do no wrong, except to bow to the demands of the UAW. The union had some valid requests like “we want some of that profit because you made it with the sweat of the UAW brow.” If GM didn’t respond the UAW went on strike. The strike wouldn’t last very long because GM didn’t want to upset their shareholders with higher operating costs and lower dividends.  Eventually, the UAW added a huge burden to the cost of an automobile, they still do. Rumor has it that the unions drove up the cost of a car by $1500. what that means is that if you were to put a Toyota Camry next to a Chevy Malibu and the price tags were equal, GM was making $1500 less on the Malibu than Toyota did on the Camry. The GM answer to this dilemma was to cost-reduce their cars. What that did was reduce the reliability and quality of their cars. Add that to the stigma of buying an Obam-mobile and GM loses. Ford and Chrysler have their own stories which I won’t get into right now.

Instead of reviewing the sad history of the former largest car maker in the world let’s look forward. They really believe that electric cars are the wave of the future. Since they are too big to fail I want to take advantage of GM’s plan to make electric cars and trucks. I am starting up a franchise operation to provide energy for millions of electric cars. Right now a Tesla electric gets as much as 280 miles on a charge. I want those people to be able to drive into one of my stations. Think about the possibilities this business has. Even if we shift the paradigm and change from using a gas station to a charging station in our garage we will still need to recharge on the road. A trip across country from Chicago to Flagstaff will require a full-charge five times. Full charges using a super charger take ninety minutes. Using a lower grade charger like the one in your home can take up to ten hours. My stations will be equipped with 10 to 50 superchargers to take advantage of volume. Adjacent to my stations and connected will be a fabulous restaurant, casino, motel for your convenience. After all, a ninety minute charge will only be possible if I am charging ten cars as opposed to fifty. At fifty car capacity it may take three to five hours to charge. During those trapped minutes my casino will be raking in tons of nickels and dimes in the slots. 

The cost of a charge will be about five times the cost of a tank of gas at 2018 prices. Why so high? The demand for electricity will be so great that the electric power plants will be operating at max capacity. It’s that old supply-demand thing again.

Now comes the real lucrative aspect of this business. Behind all the charging stations we will build a high speed electric train using the center median on the interstate system. All those car owners sitting around waiting to get charged will look sadly at the hundreds of people flying past on the high speed rail. Imagine all those dollars pouring into the coffers from all those car owners switching to trains while the cars are at home charging.

The next phase after the high speed rail is a network of power plants. The world doesn’t have enough power generating stations to fuel all the electric vehicles GM is making therefore we’ll need super output generators. They will need energy as well so we’ll tap into wind, sun, and fossil fuels. Right now, coal mines are cheap because everyone is so down on coal. Buying coal is our secret weapon. While we continue to use coal we will also spend billions on harnessing the energy from the sun. All these puny solar collectors cluttering up the landscape are an eyesore and can’t produce spit, but the roof of every house will collect enough solar power to give individual households enough energy to be independent of the grid. Our research will concentrate on collecting sun in large spherical mirrors which transfer solar into heat to run the turbines in the super generators. Since the sun doesn’t shine on some days we will need to tap into the core of the earth to get heat.

Now that we have come full circle on energy, let’s talk about how much you want to invest in my company.  

PSA-180920-Crystal Ball

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Back in the nineties I read a book titled Megatrends 2000 by John Naisbitt in which he foretold the future ten to twenty years ahead. The author did not have any unusual telepathic talent he merely watched for trends. He collected snippets of information about happenings from newspapers around the country. If a particular action appeared in many places across the country he saw it as a trend.

After having read the book, and led the life I can attest to the fact that Naisbitt’s predictions were highly accurate. A few weeks ago I told myself to look for a new book that would predict the next ten years. Things are moving so fast that quite frankly, I can’t keep up with them and I would venture that you have the same problem too. I haven’t found such a book, but I did receive a list of predictions from a friend. I believe all of them will come to fruition within the next twenty- thirty years. I only hope I am around to see them happen,

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1. Auto repair shops go away. A gasoline engine has 20,000 individual parts. An electrical motor has 20. Electric cars are sold with lifetime guarantees and are only repaired by dealers. It takes only 10 minutes to remove and replace an electric motor. Faulty electric motors are not repaired in the dealership but are sent to a regional repair shop that repairs them with robots. Your motor malfunction light goes on so you drive up to what looks like a Jiffy-auto wash, and your car is towed through while you have a cup of coffee and out comes your car with a new motor.

2. Gas stations go away. Parking meters are replaced by stations that  dispense electricity.  All companies install electrical recharging stations for their customers and employees. (The gas station goes away, but must be replaced by a charging station. Batteries and charging must improve exponentially for this to happen. Currently an electric car needs ten hours of charge time to charge fully.)

3. All major auto manufacturers have already designated 5-6 billion dollars each to start building new plants that only build electric cars.

4. Coal industries go away. Gasoline/oil companies go away.  Drilling for oil stops. (This one is hard to believe because all these cars need electricity and it has to be generated. Most likely we will use natural gas.)  

5. Homes produce and store more electrical energy during the day and  then they use and will sell it back to the grid. The grid stores it  and dispenses it to industries that are high electricity users. (This ones assumes that we have roofs made of solar collectors, and that the sun shines every day.)

5. A baby of today will only see personal cars in museums. (This one forgets about our car culture and car hobbyists who will continue to build their own cars.) 

6. The FUTURE is approaching faster than one can handle! In 1998, Kodak had 170,000 employees and sold 85% of all photo paper worldwide. Within just a few years, their business model disappeared and they went bankrupt.  What happened to Kodak will happen in a lot of industries in the next  5-10 years and, most people won’t see it coming. Did you think in 1998 that 3 years later you would never take pictures on film again? Yet, digital cameras were invented in 1975. The first ones only had 10,000 pixels, but followed Moore’s law.  So as with all exponential technologies, it was a disappointment for a time, before it became way superior and became mainstream in only a few short years. It will now happen again (but much faster) with Artificial Intelligence, health, autonomous and electric cars, education, 3D printing, agriculture and jobs.

Welcome to the 4th Industrial Revolution.

7. Software will disrupt most traditional industries in the next 5-10 years.

8. UBER is just a software tool, they don’t own any cars, and are now the biggest taxi company in the world! (This one assumes that there will be enough Uber drivers with cars willing to shuttle people around) 

9. Airbnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don’t own any properties.

10. Artificial Intelligence: Computers become exponentially better in understanding the world. This year, a computer beat the best Go-player in the world, 10 years earlier than expected. (What the heck is “Go” and who cares that a computer beat him?) 

11. In the U. S., young lawyers already don’t get jobs. Because of  IBM’s Watson, you can get legal advice (so far for more or less basic stuff) within seconds, with 90% accuracy compared with 70% accuracy when done by humans. So, if you study law, stop immediately. There will be 90% fewer lawyers in the future, only omniscient specialists will remain. (This will be a good thing because with too many lawyers our society has become overly litigious, and our government divided by politicians who are lawyers trained to win at all costs while our system relies on compromise.)

12. Watson already helps nurses diagnosing cancer, its 4 times more accurate than human nurses. (Nurses don’t diagnose cancer, doctors do.)

13. Facebook now has a pattern recognition software that can recognize faces better than humans.

14. In 2030, computers will become more intelligent than humans. (So people quit learning because the computer knows everything.Who then teaches the computer new stuff? Does the computer perform lab experiments to learn new facts?)

15. Autonomous cars: In 2018 the first self driving cars will appear for the public. Around 2020, the entire industry will start to be disrupted. You don’t want to own a car anymore. You will call a car with your phone, it will show up at your location and drive you to your destination. You will not need to park it, you only pay for the driven distance, and you can be productive while riding. The very young children of today will never get a driver’s license and will never own a car.

16. It will change the cities, because we will need 90-95% fewer cars. We can transform former parking spaces into parks.

17. One point two million people die each year in car-accidents worldwide. We now have one accident every 60,000 mi (100,000 km), with autonomous driving that will drop to 1 accident in 6 million mi (10 million km). That will save a million lives worldwide each year. (This one assumes that sensors and computers in the cars are better than those of a human being.)

18. Most car companies will doubtless go bankrupt. Traditional car companies will try the evolutionary approach and just build a better car, while tech companies (Tesla, Apple, Google) will do the revolutionary approach and build a computer on wheels.

19. Many engineers from Volkswagen and Audi; are completely terrified of Tesla. (Engineers fear only layoffs due to a lack of need. Electrical cars have simple drive trains, but more complicated controls, sensors, and computers.)  

20. Insurance companies will have massive trouble because, without accidents, the insurance will become 100x cheaper. Their car insurance business model will disappear. (accidents will never disappear completely)

21. Real estate will change. Because if you can work while you commute, people will move farther away to live in a more beautiful neighborhood. (If you can work while you commute, why go to the office at all? Work from home.)

22. Electric cars will become mainstream about 2030. Cities will be less noisy because all new cars will run on electricity. (People will step into traffic while looking at their personal work modules because they can’t hear the cars.)

23. Electricity will become incredibly cheap and clean: Solar production has been on an exponential curve for 30 years, but you can now see the burgeoning impact. (This will require homes that have solar roofs, streets that are solar collectors, and vehicles that can pick up electricity from the road.)

24. Fossil energy companies are desperately trying to limit access to the grid to prevent competition from home solar installations, but that simply cannot continue – technology will take care of that strategy. (Low cost solar systems for the home which can compete with the electric companies will be needed to make this happen.)

25. Health: The Tricorder X will be announced this year. There are companies who will build a medical device (called the “Tricorder” from Star Trek) that works with your phone, which takes your retina scan, your blood sample and you breath into it.  It then analyses 54 bio-markers that will identify nearly any disease. (This dreamer has never had to experience an MRI, PET scan, Ultrasound, or colonoscopy test to believe a phone can detect your problems.)

WELCOME TO TOMORROW ! ! !

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It is only natural for me to be skeptical about these predictions because many of them rely not on technology, but rather on acceptance by humans to implement. Acceptance will evolve and shift culture toward these bold inventions. I predict they will take an additional ten-twenty years to be accepted by the public.

 

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