Thursday, July 19, 2018

1979 vs 2015

Average hourly earnings for American workers has barely changed in the last several decades, according to this article. In 1979 that average was $21.20/hour, and in 2015 the average was $21.18/hour. The comparison is made in the value of 2015 dollars.

On the other hand, that income can purchase more household goods because the cost of those goods has come down quite a bit. Examples:

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Boring tech

(cont'd from yesterday's post)

SpaceX, Tesla, The Boring Co., they all take existing technology to the next level . . faster than their competition. They're all pace setters in their industries.

 The Boring Co. exists to solve the problem of "Soul-destroying traffic" by making roads . . 

"go 3D, which means either flying cars or tunnels. Unlike flying cars, tunnels are weatherproof, out of sight and won't fall on your head. . .The key to making this work is increasing tunneling speed and dropping costs by a factor of 10 or more – this is the goal of The Boring Company."

They think they can do that by making tunneling machines much more powerful and fast. At the upper end, today's tunneling can cost a billion dollars per mile. They plan to triple the machine's power and to run tunneling at the same time as building the supporting structure. 

Huge, innovative goals. If they succeed, this will be the third industry to be transformed by the vision of Elon Musk.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Boring bricks

(cont'd from yesterday's post)

Here's a cool business innovation: when you dig up tons of dirt and you figure out how to use it for something practical, something that someone needs and will gladly pay for.

The Boring Company builds tunnels underground - so they literally have tons of dirt on their hands. It's expensive, according to the website, to collect and haul away. So they're making bricks out of the dirt, construction bricks.

For additional cost-cutting, they may even use these bricks immediately on the structure that supports the tunnels. And this process will be environmentally friendly, as (again) the website says, because "concrete production accounts for 4.5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions," and these bricks will replace the equivalent of concrete.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Boring Chicago

To get from downtown Chicago to O'Hare Airport can take up to an hour. The city asked for bids from private companies who could build a transit system that will cut that time down to twenty minutes, and The Boring Company was selected for the job. 

The Boring Company is building hyperloop tunnels under Los Angeles, but this is different. Beneath Chicago they're going to build "loop" tunnels for electric "skates" (self-driving platforms or vehicles) traveling 100+ mph. 

“Each vehicle will carry up to 16 passengers, plus their luggage, and will depart from O’Hare and from Block 37 as frequently as every 30 seconds." They think the system can bring travel time down to twelve minutes.

The company has raised investments of about $112 million, and Chicago is not paying for anything here. 

"[Elon] Musk’s own investment represents over 90% . . and the other investors are early employees. No venture capitalist or investment firm w[as] involved."

So Elon has invested over $90 million in The Boring Co. 

(cont'd tomorrow)

Friday, July 13, 2018

Train traffick 2

(cont'd from yesterday's post)

Children, both boys and girls, are sold into slavery or prostitution in some of India's train stations in big numbers. It's not a safe place for kids. Families sleep on the floor of the station, where kids can be stolen from between their parents. Over 630 children were reported missing to police in the West Bengal district in one month.

Even the police are not necessarily a safe haven. "Deva, 13, sleeps in the parking area and describes police violence as a more pernicious threat than traffickers. “They wake us up and hit us or chase me and my friends.”

And finally . . families themselves may put kids in danger.  Some send children to live in the station in the hope that they can somehow make money.

Uptal, 13, now lives in the station as an escape from home, playing cricket by day and sleeping on cars in the parking lot at night. At age 9 he was forced by his father into 12-hour days of work at a factory.

photo: zeenews

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Train traffick

One person - just one -can make a difference. Here's the story of one:

Adarsh Shrivastava was traveling by train last week in India. It's common to see children on the trains, but he noticed that the 26 young girls in his car were visibly upset, some crying.

He suspected the children were being trafficked. 

But what could one person do about it? Something clever and effective: he opened a new Twitter account, tweeted what he saw, and tagged the authorities. 

The Railway Protection Force in civilian clothes boarded the train a few stops later. The men with the girls were apprehended and the girls brought to safety.

"When news of Shrivastava’s actions went viral, Twitter users called for him to be awarded for his “heroism.” He simply responded,“Thanks, but as a citizen of India, it’s our responsibility to help people.”

(cont'd tomorrow)

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Meat eater

Food can be a big issue. Some people reject eating meat, while meat eaters today are making their own strong case for keeping meat in their diet. One of the latter is Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm in Virginia, a character you've met before in this blog.

He's passionate about his farm and the good that it does for the natural environment, and he's also passionate about the nutrition his animals provide to meat eaters. His blog entry of July 5 says: 

"Vegetarianism is an urban disease.  That captures the essence of the anti-animal movement as well as anything I've heard.  Only wealthy people in cities could be disconnected enough from life and practical ecology to advance the anti-animal argument."

(Or . . poor Hindu vegetarians of India.)

(cont'd tomorrow)

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Violence 2

(cont'd from yesterday's post)

At the end of June, villages were destroyed in northern Nigeria and 200 Christians killed while about 3,000 were displaced - which means they ran from their homes.  Non-profit Open Doors came in to the extremely unstable area to help. A report from one of their staff:

"The displaced Christians were in a pathetic situation . . Life has become a living hell for them. They have lost loved ones, houses, and all they labored for in the twinkling of an eye. The agony they are going through is hard to describe. We saw people who were still in a haze over what they have just gone through. Children were crying hysterically, perhaps because of hunger or perhaps because of hunger and the trauma.”

The Open Doors team brought rice, oil, tomato paste, toiletries the next day. One of the displaced victims, Mary, wrote a thank you message and also said:

“My prayer is this: Wherever these resources are coming from, may God pay you back a thousand-fold . . We plead that believers all over the world will pray that God will bring an end to all these killings because we have become homeless, fatherless and orphaned due to the attacks."

Monday, July 9, 2018

Friday, July 6, 2018

No saddles

Many Americans are finishing up a week of vacation this weekend, having had the advantage of Independence Day falling in the middle of the week. So I finish this American "Fourth of July" holiday week with one more post about our traditions.

Thomas Jefferson, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, was really passionate about freedom. Around the Jefferson Memorial in Washington D.C. are his words:

"I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

His eternal hostility against tyranny lasted all his life. Just ten days before his death, he said colorfully that people are not born to be dominated by a small number of elites:

"[T]he mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor [are] a favored few [born] booted and spurred, ready to ride them . ."

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Flag waving

(cont'd from yesterday's post)

Only the first verse of "Star Spangled Banner" is ever heard. But the last verse deserves to be known:

O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation.
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the Heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: 'In God is our trust.'
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Blessed with victory and peace, may the Heaven-rescued land praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation! 

This is still the earnest prayer of Christians today.