Cheering for the Underdog

This video is about an amazing robot. A technician deliberately tries to defeat the bot by giving him unexpected new situations to deal with. I found myself cheering for the bot, and hoping he would kick the technicians ass, instead the bot does an amazingly smart thing. You will not be sorry you watched this video. You are looking at your future job replacement. The upside is the world will need millions of bot mechanics to keep them going.

Why Not?

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I have often said that the USA needs to be run like a business, and lawyer-politicians are the wrong people to become Administrators and Commanders-in-Chief. Now that we have a businessman running for office, and my vision has been achieved I am beginning to run scared. The problem stems from the fact that We the People have been conditioned over many years to listen to the rhetoric of polished lawyers who are honed in wordmanship, and debate. Donald Trump the current Republican front runner has none of these qualities, but instead he is a street fighter. He has no problem attacking his opponent without regard  to the etiquette of debate. A smash at an opponents character or his standing in the polls takes precedence over logical argument of the issues. The end result is a debate that resembles a street brawl rather than polite argument of ideas.

Our media does not help the matter  because they love the brawling. It gives them fodder for sound bites and analysis that keeps people listening and customers paying for commercial air time. The First Amendment of the Constitution allows freedom of speech for the purpose of giving the press the ability to ask tough questions of candidates and to dig for answers and the truth. Modern day media outlets avoid spending money on digging for answers. Instead many of them create answers or avoid answers by sticking to analyzing the brawls and poll numbers.

People ask me If I will vote for Trump. My answer is that I like Trump because he has upset the established organization of politicians and is redefining the rules of running for office. He continues to poke his finger into the eyes of the establishment and We the People are loving it. Why? We the People are sick and tired of the elected establishment ignoring our voices. They pander and say what they have to say to get our votes, then forget about us until the next election. They become the elites who don’t work very hard, have eons of time off, and plenty of money to spend when they are vacationing. In the meantime our country suffers from massive numbers of people unemployed or under-employed without a single ounce of effort being expended to change things.

What scares me about Trump is his fix for leveling the playing field with China. He continues to spew rhetoric about installing tariffs to make China pay. A friend reminded me of a former business man president who did much the same thing. He installed tariffs on countries getting the benefit of our market and they in turn installed tariffs on our products coming into their country. The resulting trade war only exacerbated the Great Depression. The president’s name is Herbert Hoover. It frightens me to hear a businessman spewing such nonsensical rhetoric about tariffs. I agree that China should be more grateful for the gift we gave them beginning in the seventies when Richard Nixon visited and opened the doors of trade. Ever since the USA has rushed to send all of its manufacturing jobs and machines to them. The Chinese should be kissing our butt for opening that door for them. Instead, they celebrate having more billionaires than the USA.

Capitalism survives by making profit. Without profit companies die. In order to make profit, companies must continuously cut their costs. Cost cutting is necessary to compete in a world market. China can out compete with US companies because they play low wages. Their starving people are very happy to make a dollar a day or hour because it is more money than they have ever seen in their wretched lives. Suddenly these dirt poor farmers have cash to live on. They can afford to go to the market to buy a cat for Sunday dinner rather than have to search the neighborhood for strays.

Cheap labor comes from poor people who are starving and will do anything for money. They don’t care about minimum wages, they care about having a few dollars to spend on food for their kids. They are willing to work for those few dollars and avoid protesting for more. They just work. Where do these poor people come from? They are immigrants. That is why the governments across the world are now competing for immigrants. The US economy needs immigrants willing to do the work our native born people won’t do. Why won’t our natives do the work? Most of them are too highly educated to get their hands dirty. We have brain washed our kids to go to school and get smart so they don’t have to work hard. The end result is we have bred generations of kids who don’t know what physical work is, nor do they know the value of physical work.

I taught my kids that they should be willing to work at  many jobs. That way they will understand the value of going to school. They will understand what kind of education they need to earn a living. All of my kids have done that. They all began working when they were fifteen. My oldest son worked on a maintenance crew for a manufacturing pant. His summers consisted of painting a cyclone fence with a brush; he is now an engineer. My daughter found work in a nursing home changing diapers and feeding patients, she became a nurse, my youngest son worked in a video store as a clerk then promoted himself to become burger flipper at the Golden Arches, He is now a computer scientist. My grand children are being taught similar values. Work be it physical, or mundane repetitive tasks is good experience for life.

So why does Donald Trump scare me? He isn’t talking about making America competitive with the world market. He wants to make America Great again, but he hasn’t showed me how he is going to do it. Perhaps it is his campaigning technique to not show his hand sooner than needed, but right now his brawling ways are his strongest suite. He needs to show us how he is going to stimulate the economy to resurrect the 93,000,000 jobs that disappeared from our country.

The Good Old Days?

Oh the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
Since we’ve no place to go
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow . . .

Today, Peg and I sat and watched the snow blowing outside our front window. We commiserated about winters past. My thoughts returned to 1961 the first winter I had as a married man. Barbara and I rented a three room apartment in Chicago on West 87th Street. The front of our house faced the border between Chicago and suburban Hometown, Illinois. We both worked and had long commutes. My drive(11.4 miles)took me to Danly Machine Company in Cicero, Illinois, Barb’s (12,5 miles)took her to the Westside VA (Veterans Affairs) Hospital in Chicago. I spent every dime I had to buy a used Volkswagen, and Barb did the same to buy her Uncle Tony’s 1954 Chrysler New Yorker. The apartment provided parking spaces perpendicular to 87 street which is a CTA(Chicago Transit Authority) commuter route for busses.

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Winter snow began in December with regular snowfalls followed by very cold temperatures. It snowed in January, February, March and April too for an accumulation of over 50 inches for the season (avg. Chicago snowfall is 39 inches). What I remember most was digging the cars out after the CTA snow plow pushed the snow off 87 street into a mound behind our cars. It seemed like every morning I’d be exercising by shoveling snow from behind two cars. In the evenings when returning from work we had to turn sharply and gun the car to plow through the mound to get back in. Many times my VW lifted off the ground and I had to shovel snow from under the car to get the wheels back onto the ground.

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The joy of owning a Volkswagen to save gas which was selling for under 2o cents per gallon at the time, was the German engineer’s idea of efficiency. VW’s used the air that cooled the engine to heat the car and to defrost the windows. It didn’t take me long to use my knowledge of thermodynamics to conclude that air-cooled engines don’t make it for heating in a Chicago winter. When it is thirty degrees outside and the engine transfers thirty degrees to the air, the passenger compartment gets sixty degree air. When the outside air is zero degrees the engine still puts in thirty degrees, and the driver gets a chilly thirty degree breeze blowing into his face. That winter we had ample days with sub-zero temperatures which meant scrapping ice off the inside of the windshield to see the road. I took a blanket with me to wrap my legs for warmth.

When the temperature dropped below fifteen degrees, I removed the battery from the bug and took it into the house to keep it warm and charged. How did I learn to do that? Trying to start a VW with a six volt system in sub-freezing temperatures is next to impossible. There was not enough power in a cold battery to turn over the engine. I learned another trick from the German mechanics when I complained about the terrible starting situation. “Did you put five weight oil in the engine? No, well no-wonder you have trouble, we always use five weight oil in the winter.”  Duhuh.

By the end of that winter I became proficient at dealing with both cars, what worked for the VW also worked for the Chrysler, and we somehow managed to survive.

“Why didn’t you take public transportation,” people would ask? I tried taking busses and the elevated, and learned that waiting for, and riding CTA buses in sub-zero was not fun. Even if I caught the buses without waiting, it took me two and a half hours to make it to work, and that was in an era when the CTA service was better than it is today.

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Yes, I sang the song lyrics above while looking at the snow swirling about in a thirty mph wind and recalling the “good old days.” The only thing good about them is that they are old and gone forever.

A Minor Twist and Pow!

At this point there are four husky fellas pulling, banging, cutting away at my old kitchen countertops. One of them just retrieved a saws-all and is now busily buzzing away between the backsplash and the wall.  At first the job looked too easy, and I thought my god why am I paying such an exorbitant price for this project? Contractor Mark’s crew pulled the old countertops, and then paraded in with pieces of shiny new granite. Most cut so precisely they were perfect as is, and dropped into place without any adjustment.  Then, it began. Little things, like the stove and refrigerator, are in the way, the new sink doesn’t fit.  One of the men disappears, and I see a cloud of granite dust flying past my office window. Frank, the Master Craftsman, is sawing away at another slab to finish fitting the buffet. My front lawn scattered with old countertop pieces which now will no longer work even if I wanted to stop the job and have them put it all back together again. In other words, I have committed, and there is no backing out now.
My early appraisal of the job was the result of not knowing what this kind of job entails. Now, I am beginning to see that I don’t know my ass from a hole in the ground when it comes to installing granite counter tops. Especially ones with multiple angles and notches to fit an architect’s dream of a house.
An aw shit moment occurs when the four men tilt the largest piece to slide the new sink under. Mark gives instructions for how to handle the piece, and in spite of his precautions it happens! One man pushes just a tad bit harder than the others. It was a minor twist, but the slab broke in three places. The crew turned deadly silent. I cannot imagine what went through Frank’s mind as he saw his masterpiece turn to crap in an instant
By the time, Mark’s crew finishes the job I’ll realize that I got my dollar’s worth. The kitchen is not functional until Frank makes a new piece, and the crew again gingerly man handles the three hundred pound piece of granite into place.

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China Wages War on the USA

Who knew what the unintended outcome would be when President Richard Nixon visited China in the nineteen seventies. Originally, he went there on a goodwill mission, and because China, with its population of over one billion, represented an enormous opportunity for trade. Nixon’s two legacies are his visit to China and the Watergate Scandal. U.S. businesses flocked to China after that visit. He opened the door for trade. The first unintended consequence of his successful trip became the export of every major U.S. manufacturing job. The U.S.A. went from being the manufacturing center of the world to the importers of U.S. designed products manufactured in China. The company I worked for was no different, although they did hold off until the end of the migration. Our first step into the Chinese market was through Singapore, and ultimately into China.

China is thirsty for jobs and they take anything we send them. Their people are hungry and work for minimal wages. Anything over a dollar a day was a big buck job for them. U.S. companies saw the labor cost as a distinct advantage. At home our people demanded ten, fifteen, twenty dollars an hour. Our workers saw that wage difference not as a way for an U.S. company to make a profit, but rather as a theft of their own livelihood. American workers were comfortable with high wage mundane jobs. They could not see the wisdom of re-educating themselves to become marketable in another industry. Those who did see the light did stay employed. The final outcome is that the U.S.A. still struggles with how to create jobs for its people.

The most recent unintended consequence of Nixon’s visit is what I call a Chinese invasion of the U.S. mainland. The amazing thing is that they have done it without a single military brigade, or firing a single shot. They did it with a bug.

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The Emerald Ash Borer

Since 2002, when Naturalists discovered the Emerald Ash Borer in Michigan forests, the invasion is proceeding across the country. The borer count is fifteen states and spreading. The cost of the bug in dead tree removal will come to billions of dollars.  Estimates for the Ash tree population in the U.S.A.  hover at around two billion trees. The latest dead-tree count is in the hundreds of thousands, and there is no plan for how to stop the incursion. There are a few University mitigation methods, but they are costly and do not carry a high success rate.

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The reason for this high cost and mortality rate is because there are no known predators for the Emerald Ash Borer. No bird, no predator insect, no pathogen exists today.

So how did the Chinese pull off this highly successful invasion? One theory is that the bug entered the country via some ash boards used to stabilize loads on container ships. Once out of the wood in North America the borer went to town breeding and eating. Some say they also came inside wooden pallets which ship around the country. Whatever the reason, the borer is costing us a fortune in beautiful trees.

On my walk this morning, I counted the number of affected trees in a 500 foot stretch. We in Frankfort are proud of our old tree stands, and of the many neighborhoods with tree-lined streets. The neighborhood I live in now is twenty years old and the trees planted at that time are just beginning to give real shade and a lovely appearance. I counted nine affected ash trees in that 500 foot stretch.

The Village of Frankfort’s plan is to cut down these trees and to replant them with saplings of different species that are resistant to the borer. So far, my street not seen the axe, but it will be near me sooner than I wish.

Coincidentally, I noticed a very tall and dead Cottonwood tree at the back of my property which will cross the roof of my house if it happens to fall over in the direction it is leaning. Most trees do fall that way. I had an Arborist confirm its status and give me an estimate for removal.  I’m still in sticker shock, the estimate is $1300.

Let us just say that it will cost $500 to remove each dead ash tree in America. The money spent is staggering. ($500 x 1 billion trees = $500 billion) That is a lot of money to clean up the devastation caused by a tiny bug.  Add to that the cost of buying and replacing the dead ash trees with new saplings and another 15o billion dollars gets added for a total of 650 billions dollars. And we are upset because the Iraq and Afghanistan wars cost us a trillion dollars. This one bug will cost us more than half of that.

What is sad is that the Chinese haven’t fired a single bullet, or lost a single soldier in this one-sided war. The Pentagon should learn from this. What kind of bug can we export to the mid-east to cost them a fortune to exterminate?

 

You Vill Pay Up and Love It

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Imagine a terrible stink in your house. What would you do to get rid of it? If it were my house I would open the windows and turn on a fan to move the stinky air out. When I get into my car, which has sat in the hot sun, I always open the windows and the sun roof to get the hot air out. What do you do when there is pollution in the atmosphere of your town? You pray for a rain storm or a strong wind to blow the pollution away. What do you do if you are asthmatic? If you own your own home and have the money, you install a filter to clean the air in the house. What happens if you are asthmatic, have a very good air-filter and leave the windows open? You suffer because there is no filter available that will clean the air coming into your house fast enough to keep it pure.
Our president drinks the cool-aid provided him by the EPA and his Liberal clean air gurus that the way to clear the air in America is to eliminate coal-burning power plants by taxing them out of business. There is one huge fault in their logic: America is not a closed system like a house. Our boundaries do not keep people from crossing into our country nor do they keep dirty air from entering. There is no bubble surrounding America to keep our pure air contained.
North America is just a tiny fraction of the surface area of Planet Earth. The layer of air between Earth and the stratosphere moves constantly within the country, and the jet stream moves it out.
The brainless scientists who promote the carbon tax scheme to clean the air of America and the world are nothing more than charlatans who are anxious to reach into our pockets to steal money. Even if we eliminate coal-burning power plants over-night and convert our transportation to solar-powered cars, trucks, buses, trains, boats, and airplanes, our air will never be very pure. Why? Because the jet stream will move our pure air to another continent and dirty air from China or India will move in. We will be taxing our power plants unfairly to clear the air of the entire planet. In the mean time, countries like China and India, who are more worried about feeding billions of people, will continue to use dirty coal, and any other form of cheap energy to run their factories. Those factories will pollute the air (as we see in photos of China where people wear face masks to avoid breathing the foul air) while the jet stream moves their crappy air over the Pacific to North America. Our EPA will measure the dirty air and continue to blame it on our power plants and cars.
There is no EPA in China to regulate the socialist government into bankruptcy like we have in America. The citizens of China have no voice in the way things run, the government tells them how to run their lives. At this point, the people in China are happy to eat and improve their condition with food, electronics and cars, and are not concerned by the purity of their air. The government is more concerned with providing jobs to the hundreds of thousands of people coming to town for work than they are about regulating their industry. It will be decades before these undeveloped countries are ready for pure air, but our EPA will continue to harass us to get cleaner to compensate.
Be happy Liberals and cough up the money for all that clean energy you will buy to power your phones, cars, and air-conditioners.

Illinois, the Worst State in the USA

I received this letter from my Illinois State  Representative, Rene Kosel today. She explains why our state is in such dire straights. Businesses continue to leave the state, our schools are the worst, our largest city, Chicago, is a murder capital,  our tax is higher than most states, and yet our socialist Democrat Governor and legislators continue to spend-spend-spend. For all practical purposes, Illinois is a one party state. We have what Obama wants for the country; one party rule. When and where does it stop? It stops this November when we throw the bums out.

They are career politicians who believe it is their responsibility to waste our tax dollars just like Obama. Even the Republicans act like Democrats. They couldn’t make the ballot as a democrat so they changed to become Republicans.   They should all be hanging by the neck in a row leading up the Capital steps.

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Dear Friends,

The Democrats are at it again, yesterday the Illinois House of Representatives voted on nearly 80 different appropriation bills for the 2015 budget, a budget that will overspend by nearly $3 billion. Every single Republican in the House, and even several Democrats, voted against this unconstitutional budget.

However, despite bi-partisan opposition to this terrible budget the Democrats were able to narrowly pass all the appropriation bills and move an unbalanced budget to the Senate.

In total, the House Democrats have passed a budget that spends $37.3 billion. Illinois is only expected to bring in $34.49 billion in tax revenue for the year. The budget that the Democrats rammed through the House yesterday overspends by at least $2.8 billion; it could very well go higher.

This is an unbalanced budget and the Democrats are banking on the ‘temporary’ 2011 income tax increase becoming permanent. There are also lump sum appropriations throughout this budget, they are basically handing the Governor piles of cash and allowing him to decide where these taxpayer dollars go. Do we really want to give Governor Quinn another political slush fund?

The income tax increase of January 2011 is set to expire on January 1, 2015. If the income tax increase is not extended or made permanent, personal income tax rates would decrease to 3.75% (still above the 3% prior to 2011) and the corporate tax rate would decrease from 7% to 5.25% (5% prior to 2011 increase).

The Illinois Constitution clearly states that no budget can exceed projected revenues for the year. Without action on the income tax issue, the 2015 budget passed by House Democrats today would exceed revenues by at least $2.8 billion. This is a clear violation of the Illinois Constitution and just poor policy for our state.

Yours in Service,

Renée Kosel

State Representative – District 37

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