Is Telsa Manufacturing Really Better?

Is Telsa Manufacturing Really Better?

This toy is the closest we’ll come to having a Tesla any time soon, but my daughter loves hers  I won’t be buying a Tesla any time soon, because I still see some serious problems. While I hear a lot of Tesla fanboys talk about how great Teslas are, it feels like a religion. I’m not a climate change denier, and I like the idea of electric cars, so this criticism is strictly about the massive faith we put in Tesla and Elon Musk even though the quality is meh.

The Paint

First, let’s start with the quality of the car itself. The paint on Teslas is abysmal. I hate looking at them, it’s worse than a Kia. A quick google search will return pages and pages of forum entries discussing paint problems on the Model 3 and Model Y. Sure, every car manufacturer has problems like this, but Tesla actually faces class action lawsuits. But, surf the Tesla forum, and you will find any number of fanboys denying that it’s real. It’s complete insanity. To be fair, you can search google and find similar issues with any car manufacturer, but this is something that as a car guy, you just know. You look at the paint, and it looks like crap. It has orange peel. I first noticed this on Model S cars, but apparently it’s even worse on Model 3s. Supposedly, they even had some shop fire that caused more problems than Elon lets on.

 

 

 

Autopilot

Next, talk about Autopilot. Some of my friends say that it’s amazing, life changing and safer. I get it. I have no qualms with that. I’ve rented Mercedes and Nissans around the world with level two automation. I’ve driven them thousands of miles in crazy places like Greece, Italy, and Ireland. In a vacuum, I would say both of these cars were the best I’ve ever driven. The tech is great, I’m not disputing it. I’m disputing the moral, ethical and technical superiority of Tesla. There’s been some Autopilot crash incidences since 2016, but if you pay attention and use it right, I think it’s undeniably safer than not having it. I’m just not sold that Elon has got some secret sauce to full self driving before everyone else.

Elon musk says he can do it with cameras and ultrasonic sensors – he says, anyone relying on Lidar is doomed.  That’s pretty bold considering that the size and cost of Lidar is coming down quickly. No offense to Elon, but not very “visionary” (pun intended). Well, I guess they might have been doomed if he had gotten Full Self Driving working back in 2018 when he confidently claimed that he would have over a million robotaxis on the road by the end of 2020. That hasn’t happened and doesn’t look like it will any time soon. Level 5 automation seems like a ways away, but he’s raised the price to $8000 for Autopilot while constantly committing and failing to deliver. He’s convinced a bunch of buyers of a depreciating asset that they are investors. It’s genius, exciting, and insane. There’s no way a used Telas will be more than a new one unless he restricts supply.

Worse, in my opinion, is that selling the Autopilot feature before it’s ready puts an unhealthy, even unethical, pressure on the company to release something that has life and death consequences. Not to mention that Tesla is the only major car company not to have good safety controls on it which force you to pay attention. The Nissan I drove in Ireland would slow down after a few seconds if I took my hands off the steering wheel, same with the Mercedes. And, believe me it was very tempting to take my hands off the wheel. The level 2 self driving worked great. Many major car companies have similar level 2 capabilities with better safety.

But what about about Level 5?

Have you ever tried driving in the mountains, in fog, with a mix of a rain & snow storm, with people all around you that are doing stupid things like trying to take a brand new, rear wheel drive Mustang up the mountain with summer tires on it (and then has to turn around)? I have, it’s a cluster $&#@. Level 5 automation in many different weather conditions and edge cases is very difficult, in fact much more difficult than the auto pilot on airplanes.

Autopilot on a Tesla is a deceptive name. I’ve been in the front seat of an Embraer Phonom 100 when the autopilot kicks in. IT IS AMAZING. I mean seriously amazing. Right after takeoff, you can feel the auto pilot kick in and the flight instantly becomes smoother. The computer knows how to use the controls to counteract every little wind gust. Again, it is amazing. But, with airplanes, you set a flight path, you pick an altitude, and you go. There’s edge cases for sure, but you’ve got a highly trained pilot.

I could be wrong, but level 5 feels like it’s really 3-5 years away from being real. Not a good thing when you have a depreciating asset like a car. Or, maybe it will be just in time that the Tesla fans will upgrade. Who knows. These aren’t the kinds of games I like to play. Risky, at the least.

Process Engineering

Process engineering is about how the cars are produced. The big car manufacturers are really good at this part. In fact, i might call it their competitive advantage. The Tesla fans ignore that Volkswagen, GM, and Toyota are literally amazing at automation. Lest we forget that Toyota basically invented Lean manufacturing. Lest we forget that the Fremont California Tesla plant was originally a GM plant, and later, the NUMMI plant built by GM and Toyota.

When I toured GM plant at Lake Orion in 2012 or 2013, it was producing 900 cars a day. They targeted 160,000 cars a day [1], in 2012 with on quarter of the plant, which is clearly under capacity. At capacity, that plant would have had four lines all producing that much, but they didn’t need the capacity Lake Orion builds multiple different cars on the same line, and they can swap orders live. If somebody orders a new car, and the dealer pulls strings, or the customer pays more, they can put them first in line. For example, if there’s a black car with leather seats on the assembly line, but it’s not far enough to deviate from the new order, they can literally swap it out live. That’s right, the track features on multiple cars on the same line live, and they can branch cars dinamically to fill different order.  When I visited, they were building Chevy Aveos and mid sized Buicks on the same line when I saw. They were building two completely different cars of different sizes on the same line.

Elon Musk talked a good game about automation, but struggled with manual processes in 2018. Meanwhile, Skoda which is made fun of by Germans fore being low tech, is setting world records, producing more than 300,000 cars in one plant. As an aside, here’s a video of that Skoda plant and it looks a lot like the lake GM Lake Orion plant I saw. Also, rest assured, ever manual process you see has been cost analyzed and will be replaced by robots as soon as it’s cheap enough. They literally only use humans because they are cheaper. Oh, and in 2019, Skoda produced 590,000 cars in the Mlada Boleslav plant. Tesla better damn well be able to build 300,000 cars in one plant, 8 years after I saw the Lake Orion plant, especially when the lines are separated.

From a production perspective, there is literally on comparison between Volkswagen, Toyota, GM versus Tesla. They are on another scale and dimmension of automation. Here’s a video of the Volkswagen plant in the Czech Replublic. Finally, the big autos have been doing learning systems for a while now. I saw these in 2012 at lake Orion, they put the motors in [5]. Also, if you think Elon is onto something with “learning factories” – yeah, Skoda is doing that too. For those that don’t know, Skoda is part of Volkswagen. I suspect GM, Toyota, BMW, and Mercedes are all doing the same.

Financial Engineering

The $100M in profit this quarter is really just a small percentage of the $428M in tax credits sold to competitors.  That’s hot! Sounds like a good plan to create profit for a forth quarter and get onto the S&P 500. This will then suck the Tesla stock into countless ETF and Mutual funds which track the S&P. That should buy him a few more quarters to get self driving to level 5. Err, wait what? That’s right. 

Freelon Musk

Finally, let’s talk about his handling of the Fremont factory when it was closed? I mean, I hate bureaucracy as much as the next guy, but I mean, I thought the factories were so automated? Why do they even need workers? I’m confused. Nuff said. He talks a good game on automation.

I love what Elon has done with electric cars, he’s made them sexy again. I also love what he’s done with Space X. He’s clearly a smart, and he reads an audience well. He’s figured out how to attract a massive fan following. He’s not wholly unlike Trump before he was elected. In fact, he reminds me of a much craftier version. Maybe we’ll see him run for president some day?

I’m not sure if he’s a genius or a grifter. Maybe both? That said, Tesla cars are undeniably more green that traditional cars, and for that I give him credit. They are still pretty cool, and also the future. Personally though, I’m waiting for used ones which will NOT be worth more money as Elon Musk claims (that’s happy horse shit). I’m also waiting for some of the competitors to come out with better safety systems. Finally, I’m also waiting for the culture war to go into full effect with people from the country going to war over them.

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Why I’m Not Voting Third Party for President

Why I’m Not Voting Third Party for President

Here we are in 2020 with another set of sub-optimal choices between two candidates for president. I don’t think it’s quite as bad as 2016, but neither are exciting. You could not convince me to go out and proactively campaign for either one of these candidates. Sigh.

If you even kinda concur with my above assessment, voting third party might look attractive. The Libertarians in particular talk a good game. It seems in recent years, they’ve even gotten me to take a hard look at their candidates. But, I’m not voting for a third party candidate again. Likely ever. Here’s why.

How many seats does the Libertarian party hold in the national congress (house/senate), state congresses (houses/senates), or governorships? The answer is simple. According to Ballotpedia, in 2012 it was a whopping 30. Out of thousands of seats, they have 30. What about 2016? They list the candidates the Libertarian party ran in 2016, but as far as I know, none of them won.

This is like asking Madison Square Garden to schedule a gig for your band. There’s just one small problem. Your band isn’t Guns and Roses and can’t draw 20,000 people. Madison Square Garden is well aware that they could schedule your band, and it might be technically better than Guns and Roses, but they won’t. Because nobody gives shit about your band. So, if you want to change the world, you have to join Guns and Roses, write them letters, or gain as many followers as them. There’s no easy path. There’s no easy day except yesterday.

But, it gets worse.

In 2016, I wasted time listening to Gary Johnson until he said, “what is Aleppo?” with a stoned look in his eyes. I listened to Jo Jorgensen until she lost me by essentially saying 1. Libertarians wouldn’t have done Covid lock downs because people would have stayed home themselves and 2. Libertarians wouldn’t have destroyed the economy because they wouldn’t have had lock downs.

That’s fucking double speak. That’s the “what is Aleppo?” moment for me. If people stay home, because they are scared, or because of the lock-downs, the economy gets destroyed either way. Fear of the virus destroyed the economy. The lock downs were just our collective response to that fear.

I gave the band an audition for Madison Square Gardens but the guitar player was out of tune, the drummer couldn’t keep a beat, and the singer was screaming the ABCs in a death metal voice. For $5 bucks, I’d listen to them at my neighborhood dive bar. Not getting my presidential vote.

Sitting around, and playing Army does nobody any good. The Libertarian party is holding primaries, creating websites, and “counting ballots” (what ballots?) for what? We should be focused on fixing the Republican and Democratic parties or supporting a third party at the grass roots level until it wins enough seats to actually have a chance at winning the presidency. This is a place where the prime minister model works better because it doesn’t trick people into thinking there can be a third party president without all of the hard work. A third party president has never happened, and probably never will.

I made that mistake once. Once. I voted for Ralph Nader in 2000. We ended up with Bush, two wars and nearly a million dead brown people in the desert. Sadly, less dead brown people in the desert is a KPI for my presidential vote. Votes matter. I’m never making the third party mistake again.

I don’t love Joe Biden, but I don’t hate him either. He’s just meh. In fact he’s a hair less than meh, whatever that is. You’ll never convince me to campaign for Biden, but I’ll surely vote for him. Trump threatens to nuke people on Twitter and ponders out loud if we should inject people with disinfectant. To be fair, I think Trump has actually killed less people brown people in the desert (with drone strikes, troop surges, etc) than Hillary would have if she was elected in 2016. So, there is that.

So, for 2020, I’ll be spending my very valuable presidential vote on Biden thank you. And, good luck getting your band scheduled at Madison Square Garden or Red Rocks, or wherever else floats your boat.

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A Short Trip, But A Long Journey Home

It’s July 14th, the sun set about an hour and half ago. This afternoon, your mother and I brought you home from the hospital. One day, when you are ready, I will share this letter with you because I think reflection is important for personal growth. I can hear Mishifu downstairs meowing and I’m sitting next to your mom on the bed while she’s feeding you. Every now and then, I can hear you breath or suckle. It’s calm and peaceful. Right before sunset, I walked you down the block in your stroller. I brought you home to your mom, and then I did a small workout carrying some weights around the block. It feels almost normal. Almost. This year, has been a strange year. So strange, that to use the numbers that represent it would detract from this letter. There has been a pandemic going for about four months now. Most people are wearing masks around when they are in public, and taking your home from the hospital was a relief. At the same time, I’m reflecting on what it means to bring you into this world during this time.

Biology

When you witness birth, you can see a lot more clearly. We construct so much man made apparatus, both physically and mentally, which distracts from the very real and unpredictable biology of life. Our biology is a mix of the genetics from our two parents, and a bit of mutation. Some might call it luck, others might call it an arbitrary but particular combination of genes, cells, and hormones, Either way, it’s messy. Biology isn’t like computers or software, you can’t completely control it, at least not yet, not at the time of this writing.

Right now, biology is center stage in the world. There are news articles being updated multiple times per day, every day. Everyone is nervous about what this means for the future. We hope and think there will be a vaccine, but there’s a lot of uncertainty. This uncertainty extends to our deepest thoughts. I ask myself everyday whether I can keep you safe, but I think I can. I keep telling myself, we had 20,000 ancestors that felt essentially zero security about the future, but they did it anyway. They succeeded. Every. Single. Time. Looking backwards, they succeeded every single generation, without fail. So, I guess what we bringing you into is more similar to what our ancestors went through than any time in recent history. Until the last four months, as a society, we had grown very comfortable, and fallen into a state of believing we could control almost every natural phenomenon. Perhaps the uncertainty we feel today is a more natural state. Perhaps, we are feeling what all of our ancestors felt.

Culture

Culture is so many things. It’s the way we treat each other, it’s our collective psychology. It’s the technology, finance, government and economic system. All of these things are inextricably linked to our identity. Even with the uncertainty, we have more control over our lives than we’ve ever had. Finance and technology have given us the ability to express our own desires, good or bad, so much more powerfully. But, we are forever tinted with the color of our own subconscious biases ingrained in us from birth within our own culture. Our own personal wills are so often unconsciously expressed in the very real context of our own culture.

I will attempt to instill in you an appreciation for your own culture. I hope you never have to feel guilt or fear about your own ancestry and culture. At the same time, I hope you grow up to have a deep curiosity, and appreciation for other cultures. I hope you never come to the conclusion that our culture is great because their culture is terrible. That is a broken way to look at the world. We can be great, and they can be great. Cultures evolve and survive in a manner not all together different than biological populations of creatures, but they don’t need to go to war.

It will not be easy, but our future depends on how well we treat each other ( Ray Dalio my 2020 man crush).

Individuality

Your culture and your biology are but the clay from which you are formed. The foundation. The fine grained detail and specific permutation of who you become will combine this foundation with a lot of hard work from your mother and me, but will ultimately depend on you. Your biology, culture, and our parental influences will forever have an effect on you, but in the end you will have to decide what you want in life. You will have to decide what you are passionate about. The best advice I can give is that chasing something you are passionate about will lead to greater success than grinding through something you don’t love. That’s not to say that you won’t still have to grind. If you love something the grind will be worth it, but if you don’t love it, it won’t pay dividends.

Your mother and I will always try and be supportive of helping you discover what you are passionate about, but we will not be able to do the work for you. You will have to decide how much you can put in, but let me assure you the more you put in, the more you will get out of life. Whether it’s financial, recreational, residential, or social in nature, it will require passion and hard work. Neither is enough alone.

Conclusion

The future is uncertain, but I promise you that I will do the best that I can do to provide you a good life. This family is surely my passion, and so I will work hard.

The hospital we brought you home from today was only a couple of miles away, but it’s been a long journey. You’ve already been to Italy and Greece in your mother’s belly and I hope this world rights itself so that we can take you to see more of it. I hope we ride dirt bikes in Ecuador, speaking Spanish together, and eating great food. Or, perhaps, we will do none of this because you would prefer to do something else. Either way, I will give it the same level of passion and hard work.

Love You

Dad

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There’s a Liquidity Crisis of Fucks

So, I’m at the gas station today and and this guy starts screaming at me. He says, “listen buddy, I don’t like he way you’r…” and I cut him off. I pull out my wallet, open it in front of him, and scream, “you see this fucks wallet? It’s empty buddy!!!”

Then, I logged in to my bank account online and showed him the zero balance in my fucks account.

I “spoke to the manager” but they wouldn’t loan me anymore fucks. The manager told me she was sorry but the bank has a minimum reserve of fucks, and the Federal Reserve of Fucks isn’t printing anymore.

This scared the people inline behind me at the bank, so even with FDIC insurance, there was a run on Fucks. Everyone started withdrawing all of the Fucks they had.

Even in this Fiat Fucks system, which isn’t backed by shit, there still aren’t enough Fucks in the system. They said something about national output, and GDP, and unemployment.

And now, there’s a Fucks liquidity crisis. Great (in slow indignant voice)

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He Is Eternally at The Office

He Is Eternally at The Office

My father never worked at an office. He wasn’t the type of guy to even have a home office. Hell, there were times when he didn’t even have a home, much less an office. Nonetheless, the cover on his burial niche says “at the office” on it.

This requires some explaining. My father, Don McCarty, as he lik d to refer to himself when he was angry, spent a lot of time drinking coffee at a local diner called Country Kitchen. I mean, a lot of time, like all night long, every night, for years. When I wanted to see him, I would just drive up there and hang out a while.

He wasn’t the only one. He had a slew of guys (and a few women) that he was friends with who were also there almost every night, and almost all night. Vick, Tom, and the crazy lady. He was also friends with the waitresses, and the police officer that was there on the weekends (Roger). The drag queens on Saturday night, the homeless people, the weirdos, the freaks. They were all there, especially on weekends.

My dad, my sister and I would refer to this gathering place as “the office.” Hey, are you going up to the office tonight? I didn’t see you at the office yesterday. Why wasn’t Vick at the office last night? This is how we talked about it. A crazy diner, in a rust belt town, called Akron, Ohio.

So, when my father passed away in 2009, we debated putting something normal on his plaque like “rest in peace” or “when we meet again” or “always in our hearts” but nope – my sister and I decided it had to be “at the office.”

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Enjoy Your Time at The Top of The Food Chain

Enjoy Your Time at The Top of The Food Chain

This morning, I was walking with a friend of mine after getting coffee. Suddenly, he stopped and was looking down at something. I stopped and leaned over to look. There was this nestling bird moving it’s wings and legs helplessly. We stood and looked for a second, debated what we might do, looked for a nest around, and couldn’t find one. We both had a sinking feeling, and decided to walk on. It took five or ten minutes to walk back to my car. The whole time, I couldn’t focus on what my friend was talking about. I was multi-tasking, searching Google to figure out if there’s anything that can be done. It just bothered me to do nothing. Once you are emotionally engaged with a problem, it’s hard to let go. The question is, was I failing to be Zen because I couldn’t accept, or did I feel guilty for not trying when I knew I could?

I read on the Audubon site that you should not help fledglings, but that you should build a nest for nestlings like this one. So, when I got to my car, I drove back to check on him. I had this half-hearted plan to try and help it somehow. By the time I got back, it was already dead. I felt a sense of relief. No more suffering – for the nestling or me.

Like Nihilist Arby’s says, enjoy your time at the top of the food chain #Nihilism #EatArbys

 

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Drunk Driving is Less Dangerous than The Common Flu

Drunk Driving is Less Dangerous than The Common Flu

I’m pissed and you should be too! Our government is taking our rights away and destroying our economy. Here are some facts!!! People hate facts:

  • Fact:Drunk driving (or as the British call it, Drink Driving – they’re so crazy) kills substantially less people than the common flu. In 2018, the flu killed an estimated 61,099 while drunk driving only killed 10,511.
  • Fact: Drunk driving is WAY more fun than the flu (or CoronaVirus)
  • Fact: Drunk driving barely affects children. In 2018, the common flu killed 643 children between the ages of 0 and 17, while drunk driving only killed 1,233 children between the ages of 0-14. This is totally worth it.
  • Fact: I have a video on YouTube that explains these facts, and it was going viral with over 5M views. YouTube took it down. They HATE dissent. They didn’t tell me why, they just took it down. I’m not saying there’s a conspiracy, but what am I saying? You know…you know…
  • Fact: People can get better at drunk driving if they practice. It only takes a small amount of improvement to the skill of drunk drivers to achieve herd immunity
  • Fact: if you are scared of drunk drivers, you can stay home
  • Fact: There are federal DUI laws. This is “the kind of totalitarian thinking and conduct that has cost millions of lives in recent world history.” (Ron Coleman, a prominent First Amendment lawyer). States should be allowed to develop their own laws, even on Federal property!
  • Fact: only those that haven’t learned to drive drunk should be under quarantine. This could easily be solved with testing and tracing who the qualified drunk drivers are.
  • Fact: over a ten year period from 2009 to 2019, people over the age of 65+ are the fastest growing segment of drivers who cause fatal crashes, growing 35%. This “vulnerable population” is the group that should be restricted from driving drunk, or after 2AM.
  • Fact: Facebook is disclosing your drunk driving posts to local law enforcement. This is both a violation of privacy and can also lead to your being charged with a DUI.
  • Fact: predatory targeting of drunk drivers is destroying the service industry. Many bars and restaurants have had to close since drunk driving laws have been implemented. The damage in the millions of dollars US.
  • Fact: DUI laws are racist and sexist, targeting white men more than any other demographic and men more than women.

So, please, let’s stand together and wake these #sheeple up to the #truth!!!

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