Saturday, May 26, 2018

Views on Korea

How much water do you use a day?

If you lived in Cape Town, South Africa, you'd have to get by on just 13 gallons of municipal water per day – a little less than the amount it takes to flush a toilet four times. Use more, and the city reduces your pressure to a trickle, and your water bill can turn into a mortgage payment. The city government has already raised the probability of a “Day Zero,” when taps across most of the city would be shut off indefinitely. So, most people work hard to keep within the 13 gallon limit.

Since 2016 the city has cut its water use by half. Its biggest customers now use 80 percent less. Other cities have not been as lucky. When Melbourne, Australia, was in a drought period from 1997 to 2009, it did cut its water consumption by half, but it took 12 years, and at the end of it, residents were still guzzling 17 gallons a day. California has had similar results; between 2012 and 2016 it brought its home water use down 25 percent, to about 100 gallons per person per day.

An example of the techniques Cape Town residents use: 90-second showers and then flushing their toilets with the water they collected while doing it. They discuss water-saving techniques on Facebook. They exchange the names of local companies that will sink a personal well in your backyard. They use recycled wastewater from local factories and vineyards. And the police also track down those who use water in such pursuits as watering their lawns.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Ho Hum

2017 was another year in which CEOs of public companies made just a little more than the typical employee - like 275 times as much, on average. It was a good year as the median pay for the 200 highest-paid chief executives was $17.5 million, and they received an average raise of 14 percent, compared with 9 percent in 2016 and 5 percent the year before that.

For the first time, two chief executives on the list were awarded more than $100 million each. Hock Tan of Broadcom received $103.2 million, while Frank Bisignano of First Data earned $102.2 million. 

Life in Hawaii

Eating Gold

Courtesy of our Florida correspondent

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Returning to the Great Recession?

The Theranos Game

Guests for breakfast

Sound as a weapon?

In the past year we learned of American diplomats in Cuba complaining of hearing strange, wrenching noises and suffering symptoms like headaches, dizziness and loss of hearing. Twenty-four cases were confirmed. Now, a similar issue is reported in China when an American embassy employee has signs of possible brain injury after reporting disturbing sounds and sensations. These symptoms began in late 2017 and were still happening in April.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

What's wrong with this cake?

A South Carolina mother ordered a cake for the graduation party for her son at a Publix market. The order was made on-line and the program checks for “profane/special characters” and deleted the 'cum' from "Summa cum Laude."

Another blow against unions

When I was a kid in the 20th century, unions were a major force in America. I can recall union leaders, such as John Lewis, being interviewed on the radio fairly often. Newspaper articles about unions were common. That is not the case today. More than 50% of the labor force was unionized; today in the 21st century it might be 20%. Maybe that's why the Supreme Court on Monday ruled that companies can use arbitration clauses in employment contracts to bar workers from joining forces in legal actions over problems in the workplace. The idea of a class-action law suit is verboten. This makes life easier for corporations.

Foster Care

Monday, May 21, 2018

Are small banks in trouble?

This has happened every day for almost 100 years

Courtesy of our Florida correspondent

Another thing to worry about

A study in Pediatrics Magazine looks at the growing number of suicide attempts and suicides among young people in this country from 2008 to 2015. The results are not good; the number almost tripled. The findings show more girls than boys were suicidal and the number of incidents were highest in the spring and fall.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

I've been saying for a while that all empires fail. I believe that we are on that path, but very, very few realize that. A brief segment of Morning News on NPR confirmed for me that I have been right, even though the article was about movies. In essence the article said "China now has more cinema screens than the U.S. and is expected to overtake all of North America in box-office revenues and audience numbers by 2020." 

Young vs. Old

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Shrinking at the Supermarket

The BBC documents the shrinkage of goods we buy. Here are some excerpts from the report:
According to the UK’s Office of National Statistics, 2,529 products on supermarket shelves decreased in size or weight in the five years between 2012 and 2017.
Consumer watchdog Which? found in 2016 that some brands of toilet paper have lost up to 14% of the number of sheets per roll over two years, without any corresponding drop in price.
A study of US breakfast cereals over a three-year period by researchers at Arizona State University and Cornell University in New York found 15 products suffered a reduction in packet size, and in the majority this resulted in an increase in the relative cost for each ounce (28g) of cereal.
Research by the BBC earlier in 2018 also revealed that many popular chocolate bars have reduced in size over the past four years. A Twix, for example, has lost 13.8% of its weight since 2014, while Kit Kat Chunky bars are 16.7% lighter.