Tobacco, Asbestos… Now Big Oil

“Rising seas are already eroding San Mateo’s coast, and the county will need to spend billions of dollars on new sea walls and other infrastructure to protect itself in the years to come. So in July, San Mateo, along with Marin County and the city of Imperial Beach, sued 37 fossil fuel companies, arguing that they should help pay for the damage their products cause.”
See Better climate science has opened the door to lawsuits against Big Oil
I’m old enough to remember when big lawsuits against tobacco and asbestos began to bite. The world is a better place now because of them. Now, it’s the turn of Big Oil. The insanity of returning hundreds of millions of years of CO2 to the atmosphere in a century or so could be recognized in court and prosecuted for what it is, gross negligence.

The results could be enormous:

  • Huge drops in profitability for Big Oil and coal
  • Rapid cuts to production of oil and coal
  • Rapid investment in renewable electricity
  • Rapid investment in EVs

This could be good. I might even live long enough to see it happen even with Trump propping up dirty/criminal energy.

Posted in investing, politics, technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

Trump Contemplates Sanctions Against USA

“The steel and aluminum cases again demonstrate Trump’s protectionist stance on trade — a promise to manufacturing workers during his 2016 campaign and a factor Trump himself credits for getting him elected.
The recommendations come less than a month after Trump slapped tariffs on foreign solar panels and washing machines.”
See Trump administration recommends steep tariffs on steel and aluminum
Chuckle. “Shoots self in foot”, “boomerang”, and “own worst enemy” come to mind when I think about Trumpism and trade. The unintended consequences of instant tariffs versus supporting local business/workers in a few years is disruption. Whatever the merits of the eventual situation, Trump is about to disrupt his economy in a big way. Steel and aluminium are raw materials in manufacturing and important components in imports and exports. Throttling their movements even a little bit or for a short time is a blow to the USA’s GDP. While there may eventually be some gain to some sector of the economy, there will be a prompt decline in almost every other sector.

Think of it. If you slap on a tariff and importation instantly slows, it may take years to build new factories to take up the slack. Essentially, USA will be sanctioning itself. The tariffs won’t hurt China in the least. The world is hungry for its products and if USA ships fewer products made of aluminium and steel, China’s markets increase. So be it. USA, you reap what you sow. Trump adds this to the long list of stupid/crazy things he says and does.

Posted in politics | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Go Electric, Canada!

“While Canada hasn’t adopted electric cars as quickly as some (see our report from December here), we sped up respectably in 2017. The latest data from FleetCarma finds that 68% more electric cars were sold last year than in 2016.”
See 2017 Canadian EV sales revealed
EVs are still the tip of an iceberg in Canada but with growth found in 2017, it won’t be long until EVs cover the land. I already drive an hybrid EV but 2018 should be the year I buy an all-electric EV, the Solo, built in Vancouver. It’s specifically a commuter car but I will use it for errands and quite a bit of highway driving in my retirement. The money I will save in not buying a larger EV will be invested in a solar charging station so my lower cost of ownership and convenient charging will easily pay for the car in a few years.

Others have many reasons to go electric: lower costs of energy per unit distance, governmental subsidies, convenient charging at home/work instead of trips to fuelling stations, less maintenance, less heat and stench, and zero CO2 emissions. Where I live I may not get a subsidy but I like all the other benefits. Canadians, it’s time to go electric. You’ll know when you give it a try or a thought. It’s a new way of thinking and doing personal transportation. It works.

Posted in politics, technology | Tagged , , , , , | 13 Comments

Zowie! Lithium Batteries Verge On Perfection

“When the scientists tested the material in the laboratory, cycling stability improved and capacity degraded only slightly over 10,000 cycles. The material also charged very quickly – within less than two minutes.”
See Charged EVs
It used to be said that if you had enough monkeys typing long enough great works of literature would form. I guess it’s even better when you turn loose ingenious scientists and engineers and command them to “Make a better lithium cell!”. Every few weeks there’s some breakthrough or other.

This one’s a biggy. Guys have figured out how to make a better electrode that doesn’t deteriorate much in cycling the battery. 10000 cycles fast-charging, say once a day, is 27 years of driving my Solo 100 miles a day, a million miles. I’d say that’s close enough to perfect. Even if these things cost a bit more to make it eliminates costly replacement of the battery in the lifetime of the car. That’s perfect.

I’m happy with Solo as is. Life with EVs continues to improve. May the best technology win and it’s not burning petroleum and rubbing its molecules to pieces and spewing heat and hot exhaust gas into the air.

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , , , | 46 Comments

Not The Grammys

I happened to catch a few minutes of the Grammys on TV while I was baking bread. TLW had it on and I had to hang around waiting for dough to rise/rest/bake etc. It was pretty boring and I skipped most of it. TLW is a channel-changer and she eventually latched onto some stuff on the PVR. Apparently, I missed the best part:

I won’t spoil it for you but the best part comes at the end…


Posted in politics | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

NAFTA v Trump

“Negotiators from the United States, Canada and Mexico meet Tuesday to start Round 6 of NAFTA negotiations. Through the first five rounds, talks have made no progress on divisive issues and President Trump threatens to withdraw.”
See NAFTA is close to falling apart with time running out
Well, we’ve seen this week what a great deal-maker Trump is… and he’s cued up to break NAFTA soon. This is an election-year in both USA and Mexico so there’s going to be no end of posturing with nothing accomplished and Trump has promised to end NAFTA if he can’t get a deal he likes. Apparently, that won’t happen despite manufacturers all over USA telling him they want NAFTA to continue. He doesn’t care what damage he causes as long as he gets press and praise from his worshippers.

Posted in politics | Tagged , , , | 23 Comments


“Québec is the first Canadian province to adopt a ZEV mandate. As of today, close to half the Canadian ZEV fleet is located in Québec.
The National Assembly unanimously adopted the Act last October, and it came into force this month. The automakers subject to it must accumulate credits by selling zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) or low-emission vehicles (LEVs) on the Québec market. The credit target is calculated by applying a percentage to the total number of light-duty vehicles that each automaker sells in Québec.”
See Québec issues final regulations for ZEV mandate
Amen! It’s hard to disagree with a regional government giving automakers a little nudge. They are going to issue credits for each EV sold according to its range and require each automaker to reach some level of credit or face a fine. Automakers can trade credits.

Such a tactic won’t affect the final share of EVs out there but it will accelerate the shift in technology. I like it. It’s gradual and not painful. All they have to do is sell the cars they’re making. Perhaps putting EVs on display and telling salespeople to offer them in a reasonable way would take care of that. Today, in my province, EVs are as scarce as hen’s teeth and few if any are on display. Is it the chicken or the egg that’s missing?

Come on Manitoba! You know you could do this too.

Posted in politics, technology | Tagged , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Having a Heat Wave

Forecast high this afternoon is 5ºC. That’s 18ºC above normal…

I do intend to celebrate by going out for some yard-work but it’s also a reminder that global warming is real. 2017 was the warmest year on record according to some. I would not argue against that.

Other than a welcome break in winter there are downsides. If this warm spell lasts too long, my trees will sprout and have new growth killed off when the cold returns. That’s why places like Calgary have few trees. Winters there have too many warm spells for most trees. I think I can handle a day or two… We shall see.

Posted in horticulture, weather | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Trump’s Health

In the face of the GOP’s apparent inability/disinterest in impeachment in 2018 and the lack of any movement in the cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment, we are left only with Trump’s health or lack thereof and the Russian investigation to rid us of Trump’s treachery this year. I expect the Democrats will take over Congress in November so impeachment will be a good prospect for 2019. It’s still unclear whether or not the Russian investigations will bear fruit sooner.

On health, I am somewhat of an expert being nearly the same age and sex as Trump. I’m still not convinced we are the same species but we definitely have some of the same ailments. Like Trump, my doctor feels my heart is strong…

There were several points in Trump’s prognosis which attracted my attention, at first on my own knowledge of the matter, and subsequently on question from the news media:

  • weight – I was surprised to learn Trump had only gained 3 pounds last year. Pictures of Trump during the campaign and today really show much more than that. I expected 40-50 pounds of increased weight. He does play golf a lot but he uses a golf-cart instead of burning calories and then tucks away multiple burgers and ice cream. I can gain 10 pounds over Christmas. A year of eating like Trump would put on way more. Related to weight is the BMI. Apparently, Trump has grown an inch in the last year to lower his BMI from the obese range by a hair. That is very convenient. Last year, Trump was the same height as Obama. I’m allowing an inch for the hair. Obama is 6 foot 1 inch. Like everything else, Trump lies about his height.
  • heart – Trump’s doctor went on about how Trump’s heart pumps blood and pronounced him in excellent health for his age. When Sanjay Gupta pointed out evidence of heart-disease, the doctor admitted there were signs and could not explain how that was excellent except to state other men likely show similar signs… and that old men can change their habits to prolong life. Like Trump loves to change. Yeah, right…
  • dementia – Clearly, Trump can function at a reasonable level cognitively to be POTUS but there have been many instances of obvious impairment/weakness/dithering to suggest closer inspection. Trump’s doctor stated he saw no such signs and would not have done a screening except Trump asked for it. The doctor even stated he had seen no sign of repetition in speech. I wonder what channel the doctor watches. Perhaps none. I think repetition is a routine part of Trump’s public unscripted utterances. Oh, yes, it’s a symptom of dementia. Trump has a few others like an inability to follow a reasoned argument and jumping from one contradiction to another in a short period of time, suspicions, confusion, etc. We’ve seen them all but the doctor has not. Clearly, there are two Trumps. That’s schizophrenia.

So, I wouldn’t bet Trump cashes in his chips this year but it’s possible. I’m going out for a 3 mile hike now so I don’t wind up like Trump.

Posted in food, politics | Tagged , | 19 Comments

Epitaph For Trump

“In case you weren’t counting — and I was — Trump uses the exact phrase “no collusion” seven times in that answer. He goes with the alternative “nobody’s found any collusion” once. Let’s call it a soft eight.”
See Trump uses ‘no collusion’ 7 times in a single Russia answer
There’s one thing for sure, Trump’s remarkable, like saying opposite assertions seconds apart, repeating things three times whether he believes them or not, oh yes, and saying “Believe me” and “than ever seen before” far too often. I came upon the article linked at the right and an image of Trump’s tombstone popped into my mind. I doubt he will even have a tombstone. He’d probably want something more grand or private so birds wouldn’t soil it… Anyway, I imagine there will be a coal-fired device built in that repeats “No Collusion!” three times in rapid succession every fifteen minutes.

Posted in politics, technology | Tagged , , , | 20 Comments

Winning Some And Losing Some

I was poking around and found one of my favourite (accessible along well-travelled routes) EV charging stations was gone, the Shell station on the Trans-Canada Highway at Brandon, Manitoba. Anyway, three more take its place, one of which is a shopping mall welcoming tourists like me and another is Home Depot welcoming shoppers. I often shop at Home Depot for nuts and bolts or whatever. So, as the economy of EV charging stations grows and matures, things change but generally for the better. The number of EVs around here is still very low so there are plenty available to me and my shiny bright red Solo EV but as EVs become more common so will charging stations and proper stations serving mainly the motoring public will find a business model that works. So, far, it’s mostly about providing service to the public or customers and that’s OK but it may not scale if the number of EVs grows dramatically. We live in interesting times.

UPDATE I’ve just discovered that the Plugshare Application from Google Play still shows the Shell station in Brandon as a charging station while the site says it’s a “place”, not a charging station. Confusion reigns. Fortunately there are several other charging stations in Brandon as stated previously. I would expect both applications would be on the same database but perhaps some genius thought otherwise.

UPDATE Problem solved! It turns out there is a configuration item on the menu of the website that allows filtering what types of charging stations are displayed. The Shell station’s outlets are ordinary wall-mounted (actually they are on posts in this case) receptacles, not J1772 or such fancy things. So we’ve not lost anything and we are winning a lot of outlets in Brandon. It’s cool. Just drive around with the appropriate adaptor and Shell is available. They also have an ATM and fast food place… I like fast food even when I’m driving slowly…

UPDATE Then there’s Patient Advocate Pharmacy in Winnipeg… It seems the charging station is gone but the pharmacy remains. I didn’t even have a chance to visit. I visit pharmacies regularly and that one was very close to home. I would have given them some business.

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , , , | 64 Comments

The Last Gasp

“While the year saw the rise of Trump, this is not the beginning of his term, it is the end. As painful as it has been to watch him and his supporters rally, theirs is merely a last gasp of a dying world view.
Ten years ago, when my father-in-law was dying of esophageal cancer, we called hospice in. I’ll never forget what they told us: that just before death, we might see a surprising surge of energy in him, something that doctors refer to as “terminal lucidity.””
See 2017 was Trumpism’s last gasp
Trump may have squeaked by the post in the election of 2016 but he’s stirred a hornet’s nest for the 2018 mid-term elections. I predict he’ll lose control of Congress and be impeached in 2019 if the GOP doesn’t come to its senses sooner. Even if he hasn’t committed “high crimes” his “misdemeanours” are there for all to see. Trump is wrong for this century, wrong for USA and wrong for this world. It’s time he moved on to retire on some golf-course or other.

Those who supported Trump out of pique at Hillary are regretting their mistake. Those who did too little because they thought Hillary was sure to win are mobilized to fight like their lives depended on the outcome, which may well be the case. Trump has united huge blocks of voters by leanings and demographics to support anyone but Trump next election and that will be that, Pence holding the reigns of the GOP going off the rails. Congress could even impeach Pence for not uniting the cabinet against Trump’s obvious treachery and deceit and insanity. Surely there will be the cabinet-shakeup of the century. Surely the cabinet needs new blood just about everywhere. It has lead USA down a rabbit-hole.

Whatever the outcome of 2018, Congress will start cranking out veto-proof legislation that actually fulfills some sane goals for USA: a solid economy built on industry and free trade, universal healthcare, DACA that works, immigration that makes sense, real justice, taxation that deals with accumulated debt sooner rather than later (for deficits in the good times make no sense), and repairs to the fabric of society including its infrastructure, education and regulation.

Posted in politics | Tagged , , , , | 17 Comments