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.





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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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.


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 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).


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.


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


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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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Comparing the Covid-19 Response The Right Way

Comparing the Covid-19 Response The Right Way


The right way to compare the Covid-19 response is by Metropolitan Statistical Area in the US, or a roughly equivalent methodology which most other countries use (Example: Germany uses Metropolitan Regions). These metro areas are the best unit of measurement when comparing a country’s response because of several reasons:

  1. A metro area represents a unit of people that lives and works together
  2. The virus spreads through the interaction of people
  3. There is much less travel between metro areas right now
  4. The virus grows exponentially, so it will create hot spots mostly confined to these metro areas
So, as an example, let’s see how well the US is doing compared to Germany on April 10th, 2020 as I write this article. All all numbers are cited with links:


Berlin has a population of 3.7 million and about 165 Covid-19 deaths today, which makes it’s death rate approximately 1 in 22,424. Like Washington DC in the US, Berlin is both a city and one of Germany’s 16 Federal states. This makes it easy to find Covid-19 data, which makes it a good foreign metro area to compare the United States to.

United States


The Detroit Metro area has a population of 4.2 million which covers most of Wayne, Macomb, and Oakland Counties. There have been 2451 (910 Wayne + 698 Macomb + 843 Oakland) deaths, making the death rate approximately 1 in 1713. The death rate is literally 13X as high in Detroit as it is in Berlin.

New York City Metro

The New York Metro Area has an estimated population of 23.7 million. There have been 19,200 deaths, making the death rate approximately 1 in 1234. The death rate is 18X as high in New York City as it is in Berlin.


The Boston Metro Area has an estimated population of 8.3 million. There have been 4557 (Norfolk, MA 635, Plymouth. MA 384, Suffolk, MA 703, Essex, MA 625, Middlesex, MA 1169, Worcester, MA 420, Briston, MA 260, Hillsborough, NH 40, Rockingham NH 27, Stratford, NH 9, Providence, RI 285), making the death rate approximately 1 in 1821. The death rate is 12X as high in the Boston Metro Area as it is in Berlin.

New Orleans

The New Orleans area has a population of 1.3 million. There have been 2,213 deaths, making the death rate approximately 1 in 587. The death rate is 38X as high in New Orleans as it is in Berlin.


I’ll let you do the math for other Metro Areas in the US, but I think it’s pretty hard to say that the United States’ response has been a 10 out of a 10 compared to the rest of the world.
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Celebrating our Survival

Celebrating our Survival
I am not celebrating his death, I am celebrating our survival. I’m celebrating the ones that try. Survival is savagely satisfying. Each day is a blessing. Within each of us burns the desire to survive; given to us by our ancestors spanning 15-20K generations of hard work.
Through cold, rainy, hungry days. Through dry, thirsty, and sun burned days. Some weeks and months, suffering even more, through child birth, sickness, and broken bones.
For 330K years our ancestors slogged. Each and every one of us have this strength within us. Our family, our friends, our neighbors and even our enemies. The next time we have the luxury of being in a public place and glancing at thousands more of our kind, think about this. Celebrate this. We are all awesome. We are the best if the best, forged in suffering and the will to survive.
They fought their asses off to get my daughter and me here. I don’t take the responsibility lightly.
Placing human values on mother nature is peculiarly human. She does not have feelings. He decided that the game didn’t apply to him and he lost. I wish his descendants 20K more generations of success.
In a statement, his wife writes, “Johnny loved life and everyone he knew with his whole heart. We ask you to remember we are a family mourning an unbearable loss. Use this as a reminder to continue practicing social distancing and keep each other safe.”
We can debate about what ought to be, but stupidity *is* a death sentence. It always has been and always will be. It’s the natural order of things. Stay hungry, stay alert, stay safe.
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