Sunday, June 22, 2008

Europe Carbon Hypocrisy

So, C02 emissions are growing in Europe:
"At a time when airlines are already the fastest growing source of climate-warming carbon dioxide emissions — increasing nearly 5 percent a year according to a report last week from the European Environment Agency — the new low-cost industry is pumping a huge amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere."
Environmental stewards indeed.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Brand a Student, Get Fired

Pardon me, but if you burn any kind of symbol into a minor student's arm, what exactly is the defense to being fired?:
"Freshwater's friend Dave Daubenmire defended him.'With the exception of the cross-burning episode. ... I believe John Freshwater is teaching the values of the parents in the Mount Vernon school district,' he told The Columbus Dispatch for a story published Friday."
Yeah, let's forget about that whole skin burning thing because he is a great guy. Let's forget about the separation of Church and State. Let's forget about the 11 years of disciplinary problems.

But wait, that is not a cross, but an X.
Freshwater told investigators he simply was trying to demonstrate the device on several students and described the images as an "X," not a cross. But pictures show a cross, the report said.
Uh. Look at the picture and tell me the lengths of both of the arms is equal. If need be, measure the branding. Frankly, he should not only be fired, but arrested. If only for being unable to tell the difference between an X and a cross. Pitiful.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Three's a Binge?

So, Australia is trying to define binge drinking:
"THREE glasses of wine during dinner is about to be redefined as a binge-drinking episode under the Federal Government's new official drinking guidelines to be released next month."
Get me another beer.

Work More, Strike Less

Spain needs a reality check:
"The implication is that Spaniards will have to strike less and work more. But that seems an unlikely prospect. Spain recently led a block, including Belgium and Greece, which sought to prohibit British workers from working more than 48 hours a week. Spanish Socialists complain that if Brits work more than Spaniards, Britain will have an unfair competitive advantage."

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Chinese Economic Disaster

Everyone should keep an eye on this story:
"The Chinese authorities have placed some extreme restrictions on the import of dangerous goods for a four-month period covering the Olympics in Beijing. According to an announcement received last week by operators in the region, as from June 1 the movement of all dangerous goods will be banned in Beijing, Tianjin, Qinhuangdao, Shanghai, Shenyang and Hong Kong; furthermore, the discharge and loading of dangerous goods will be prohibited at the ports of Beijing, Tianjin, Xingang, Qinhuangdao, Shanghai, Shenyang, Qingdao and Hong Kong. The ban imposed by the National Security Bureau will apply equally to fireworks and manufacturers have been advised to adjust their production schedules so that the movement of these goods is not necessary during the period."
If you think this does not affect you, guess again.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Next Big Future, Yeah Right

Frankly, I see such projections of a bright future for manufacturing to be a pipe dream. First, I quote:
"A coordinated effort by research, companies and government could be made to plan and develop Rapid Automated Manufacturing by 2030. There could be an increase in economic growth into the 10-20% per year range even for developed countries like the USA. Technology roadmaps and planning would be needed to perfect materials, supply chains, real time monitoring, approval processes and deployment of the technologies and methods listed below, the world could transition to radically faster economic growth. It would take a lot of work to get everything coordinated to have this effort scale and transform each of the industries in order for nationwide growth rate to move a bunch. It would be exactly like the societal transformation to mass production and industrialization back in the early 1900s. Education, Industry and government and society would all have to adapt. The carrot is after you do it in a few decades your nation is a hundred times richer than it would have been if it had not been done."
There have been many utopian manufacturing revolutions introduced in the last sixty years. Many have been step changes in technology and business process such as TQM (Total Quality Manufacturing), JIT (Just in Time) and my personal favorite TOC (Theory of Constraints), but what they have not been able to overcome is the human factor. That is, how to change how humans think about the world and their inherent resistance to change. You can roll out any new manufacturing philosophy you want, but without addressing the emotional nature of humans, you might as well be tilting at windmills. Believe me, the human factor (as well as Murphy) play a far bigger role in manufacturing than anything else. Unless humans are removed from the process, you might as well forget about the revolution. That is, unless one is proposing a future of the Matrix, Terminator or Battlestar Gallatictica.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Price Action, Spot On

The Coyote gets it right:
"No matter how hard Congress works to stuff energy and farm bills with every micro-managing pork barrel project their campaign donors could wish for, Congress still only has the bandwidth to affect a tiny fraction of a percent of what a single change in market prices can achieve. Prices have absolutely stunning power of communication."
In a nutshell, that is economics.