A Grab Bag of News and Views

There is a Lot Going On. Let’s Poke Around a Bit

A Time of Transitions

We are always in a state of transition, but that seems especially true now. A new administration is settled in, the Middle East is heating up yet again. We have come from the worst pandemic record in the world to one of the best. Exiting and possible game changers are popping up in technology. And more. So, here we go.

The Biden Administration Settles In

This is about as good a start-up phrase I have ever seen. The team Biden selected is stellar and they hit the ground running. It is a quietly competent team pretty much across the board. Pretty much everyone nominated has been approved and are at work. The change in the pandemic profile is amazing, although some risk does continue. America is a leader once again.

Biden has so far played a tough hand in the Middle East as well as it could be played. Russia and China are on notice that a new sheriff is in town. Importantly, Biden continues to work quietly to get bipartisan support but learned from his experience in the Obama administration – he is not a slave to the concept.

The man is building support locally all over the country. The approval ratings for his programs and performance are solid pretty much across the board.  Lots of challenges ahead for sure, but heck of a good start. Well done, Joe.

The Middle East

The last entry in this blog was dedicated to this topic and so I will not burden you with much more of my thoughts here. Suffice it to say that America, and the world, have a mix of interests here: security, morality, justice, peace – all in a part of the world famous for providing none of those things. Ironic in a region that is home base for three major religions. Much to reflect on it that, isn’t there?

Everyone in the current conflict and many in neighboring countries deserve such better lives and leaders than they now have.

The Pandemic

What a difference 100 days makes in the US. We appear to have rounded a curve, not a moment too soon for many of us. But much of the world continues to suffer, some almost beyond measure. It is satisfying to see the US starting to take a lead in ameliorating this, but so much more needs to be done.

It’s the right thing to do, and in our own safety interest to defeat this thing world-wide. And at home, we need to find the time and energy to look back at how we made this worse than it had to be here in the US. We had not only a feckless national government response, but we eroded, perhaps irrevocably, the trust in agencies like the CDC.

Our hodge-podge of local and state government responses made zero sense in a nation so mobile and interconnected. We have borne a shameful dialogue that my rights to breath as I wish outweighs your safety. The anti-vaccination movement gained entirely too much visibility and support.

These two elements put us all at risk and are part of the reason so many hundreds of thousands died.  We need to not forget this and deal with it, for such challenges will surely arise again.

Technology on the March – In a Good Way

As always seems to be the case in this era, promises and good news regularly comes our way from science and technology. Three short notes for examples of this delightful phenomena:

  • Batteries: Several groups are working in this area, but an Australian group appears in the lead and about ready to go commercial with break through batteries. They have formulated batteries that replace lithium with aluminum and graphene. What difference does that make? They are lighter and smaller than lithium batteries, charge 60 times faster, hold orders of magnitude more power/operating time, cannot overheat or explode, and provide 100% power in very cold temperatures. They require no rare earth materials.These are truly game changing numbers. They expect to be producing commercial variants in a year, and car batteries in 2-3 years. It’s an encouraging story. Care to read more? https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaeltaylor/2021/05/13/ev-range-breakthrough-as-new-aluminum-ion-battery-charges-60-times-faster-than-lithium-ion/?sh=2026a5616d28
  • Electric Vehicles: Bear with me: I am going to talk about a pick up truck. We all should hear about this, truck lover or not. The new Ford F150 pickup, the Lightening, is important almost beyond description in its impact. The truck has rave reviews so far and comes in a wide range of configurations (from $39K-$100K). The performance statistics are almost unbelievable in every category. So, why is this a big deal?Look at the numbers: This has been the best-selling vehicle in America since Reagan was president. It has been named truck of the year every year for decades. Ford sold 900,000 of these last year – all sedans of all manufacturers sold 250,000 last year. Ford made more money just on F-150s than Disney made as an entire corporation. A vehicle with this much impact going fully electric can dramatically accelerate acceptance of electric vehicles and single- handedly move our national fleet fuel averages. Read all about it. You might find you did not know until today that you really DO need a truck! https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesmorris/2021/05/22/how-significant-is-the-electric-ford-f-150-lightning/?sh=14d990fe26ba
Your Thoughts?

What has been catching your attention the last few days? It is a time ripe with possibilities, potential, and risk. I think I hear Dylan singing in the background: “The Times They are A-Changing.” Where will we all be in 6 months? In a year?

                       Bill Clontz

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2 replies to A Grab Bag of News and Views

  1. I saw on TV that the senior engineer of the F150 is a Chinese woman who came to American as a small child, went to college and earned a degree in electrical engineering (I think 2 degrees). She started working at Ford at 19 and has risen through the company to become the senior engineer of the new F150. A huge shout out to an immigrant who has made a difference in this country. I understand the truck also has a generator that can be plugged into your home in case your electricity goes out! What an idea!

    • Now THAT is an American story. Perfect – thank you for sharing her story. Further proof that immigration is such a cornerstone to America’s success. And yes, Ford says you could run most of the major functions of your house for up to three days from a fully charges truck. Pretty neat.

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