Saturday, October 3, 2009

Cande from the Washington Post

Fande = Fact & Evidence; Cande = Conjecture & Exaggeration

Here is an example of the Washington Post using conjecture & exaggeration. The financial payback (or ROI, Return on Investment) of solar depends upon (a) the price of existing electricity rates in the respective home, which is determined by the local utility company, and in the case of California, the Public Utilities Commission (b) whether you buy the solar system or (c) choose to lease the solar system.

(a) Electricity rates in California keep going up at steady clip. We have a tiered rate system in the Golden State, meaning the more electricity you use the more you get charged. So, displacing the expensive electricity at the top tiers pays back quicker. We have a baseline amount of electricity of roughly 350 kilowatt hours at a flat rate of 12-13 cents per kilowatt hour which is frozen and will not change, as mandated by the California State Legislature. Any electricity used over the baseline is called "over baseline" rates, where the prices of electricity can double and even triple, as in the case of PG&E's tier-5 rate of 44 cents per kilowatt hour. Anybody using electricity in all 5 tiers in PG&E territory would save money by switching to solar.

(b) Buying a solar-electric system is an investment. The solar system would pay for itself in 5-7 years, as electricity prices continue to rise. And the electricity prices in California are mandated to rise each year by the PUC. It's a no-brainer to go solar in a sun-drenched state like California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and throughout the Sun Belt of the U.S. (depending on the price of electricity from your local utility provider).

* In Los Angeles, we have the cheapest electricity rates out of all the major utility regions in the state because LADWP uses roughly 50% coal to produce its juice.

** Coal is also the dirtiest fossil fuel we can burn to create our electricity. Remember, there is an environmental cost to burning coal. Coal is dirty and cheap, and bad for our environment.

*** Solar-electricity is a CO2-free, renewable source of energy. The Sun is a nuclear reactor in the sky; it is going to be around for millions more years. All we have to do is soak up its free-floating rays. Solar-electric, aka photovoltaic, systems last 40-plus years. Photovoltaic = light energy. Photovoltaic abbreviation = PV.

(c) If you choose to lease the solar-electric system, like many people I know have done on a zero-down lease, then the payback is immediate or almost immediate; and you are saving money from day one by using solar electricity.

So, when the Washington Post reports, "Solar systems, even with government incentives, are expensive," the reporter, Pat Mertz Esswein, is guilty of spreading misinformation. Ms. Esswein is guilty of using Cande.

Sharpen your critical thinking skills, 'cause here comes some Cande...

[My comments will appear in brackets]


Switching to solar is a great way to achieve energy savings [this is true, not a myth].


Solar systems, even with government incentives, are expensive [no, this is false; solar systems save $$$ money]. The owner of a typical single-family home in the United States [there is no "typical"; every home uses different amounts of electricity and every region of the U.S. has different electricity rates] wastes almost $350 annually on heated or cooled air that escapes to the outdoors. So for most houses in most places, the first line of defense is to reduce demand, says Bruce Harley, author of "Cut Your Energy Bills Now." That means tightening up the house and its ductwork, improving insulation, switching to CFLs, upgrading appliances and changing your behavior. [Change all the lightbulbs you want and you still need electricity to run the air conditioning, computers, TV, filtration pumps for the pool, electricity in the kitchen, bathroom, garage, etc. With solar-electricity you do the most good because you change the source of your energy]. After that, if you still want to go solar, you may be able to make do with a smaller system that costs less. For example, instead of a 4-kilowatt photovoltaic system (the size recommended for the average home) -- which would cost $16,800 installed after an average state-tax incentive of 25 percent and the federal discount of 30 percent -- you might get by with a 2-kilowatt system, which would cost $8,400 [a 2.4 kilowatt system costs roughly $6,000 in Los Angeles, with the federal 30% tax credit and state rebate].

**** When you go solar, you don't pay the utility company the same monthly payment. The monthly payment you would have been paying to the utility company goes toward your solar purchase or lease, and then you are saving money.

Friday, October 2, 2009

This Morning

Ahhh, we live on the best planet in the Universe. This morning...riding waves on a tilted axis, as the earth rotates and the sun seemingly rises out of the water. Orange-golden glittering warmth splashing across the cresting, churning volume of liquid variegating from black to purple to blue, like the canopy of sky above.

And waves upon waves barreling toward the shore, making tunneled slides for surfers. On the sand the crumbled waves hiss just before they recede back into the ocean to make more water mountains to ride.

WARNING: Email propaganda...Cande = Conjecture and Exaggeration

Fande = Fact & Evidence; Cande = Conjecture and Exaggeration

Just because someone says or writes something does not make it true. There are a lot of unsubsantiated accusations here (playing on emotional biases) with little to no proof. Let's research if the following information is true or false.

Here is an email sent to one of my colleagues today, October 2, 2009...

* CAVEAT: Read with caution. Sharpen your critical thinking skills, 'cause here comes some Cande.

**************************EMAIL BEGINS***********************************

Subject: "Important for MI and AMERICA! Who 'owns' Chrysler???????????"

Body of email:

[My comments will appear in brackets]

"I don't know if this is true or not. After reading this I have such a pit in my stomach. Could this be true? Maybe you already knew this...I did not. Very Scary.... Chrysler's 'Real' CEO

This could be a scandal of epic proportions and one that makes Nixon's Watergate or Clinton 's Monica Lewinsky affair pale by comparison [what about Bush starting a war in Iraq under false pretenses or the Bush/Paulson $700 billion bailout for the financial meltdown?] Why was there neither rhyme nor reason as to which dealerships of the Chrysler Corporation were to be closed? Roll the clock back to the weeks just before Chrysler declared bankruptcy. Chrysler, like GM, was in dire financial straights and federal government "graciously" offered to "buy the company" and keep them out of bankruptcy and "save jobs." Chrysler was, in the words of Obama and his administration, "Too big to fail," same story with GM.

The feds organized their "Automotive Task Force" to fix Chrysler and GM. Obama, in an act that is 100% unconstitutional [Got proof?], appointed a guy named Steve Rattner to be the White House's official Car Czar- literally - that's what his title is [that's not really his title]. Rattner is the liaison between Obama, Chrysler, and GM.

Initially, the national media reported that Chrysler had made this list of dealerships. That is not true. The Washington Examiner, Newsmax, Fox New and a host of other news agencies discovered that the list of dealerships was put together by the "Automotive Task Force" headed by no one other than Mr. Steve Rattner.

[Are these trustworthy sources of information? The Washington Examiner & Newsmax, let's find out more about them.]

Now the plot thickens. [What plot?] Remember earlier we said that there was neither rhyme nor reason [no rhyme or reason?] why certain dealerships were closed? Actually there's a very interesting [how interesting is it?] pattern as to who was closed down. Again, on May 27, 2009, The Washington Examiner and Newsmax [questionable sources of information] exposed the connection. Amazingly, of the 789 dealerships closed by the federal government, 788 had donated money, exclusively to Republican political causes, while contributing nothing to Democratic political causes [DOGMA = assertion without proof; who is making these unsubstantiated accusations? Got proof?]. The only 'Democratic' dealership on the list was found to have donated $7,700 to Hillary's campaign, and a bit over $2,000 to John Edwards. This same dealership, reportedly, also gave $200.00 to Obama's campaign. Does that seem a little odd to you? [Got proof? Where's the pudding?]

[Coincidence? Maybe. More to the point: is the accusation true?]

Steve Rattner is the guy who put the list together. Well he happens to be married to a Maureen White. Maureen happens to be the former national finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee. As such, she has access to campaign donation records from everyone in the nation, Republican or Democrat. But of course, this is just a wacky 'coincidence,' we're certain.

Then comes another really wacky 'coincidence.' On that list of dealerships being closed down, a weird thing happed in Arkansas , North Louisiana, and Southern Missouri . It seems that Bill Clinton's former White House Chief of Staff, Mack McClarty, owns a chain of dealership in that region, partnered with a fellow by the name of Robert Johnson. Johnson happens to be founder of Black Entertainment Television and was a huge Obama supporter and financier. These guys own a half dozen Chrysler stores under the company title of RLJ-McClarty-Landers. Interestingly, none of their dealerships were ordered closed - not one! while all of their competing Chrysler/Dodge and Jeep dealership were! Eight dealerships located near the dealerships owned by McClarty and Johnson were ordered shut down. Thus by pure luck, these two major Obama supporters now have virtual monopoly on Chrysler sales in their zone. Isn't that amazing? Go look in The Washington Examiner, the story's there, and it's in a dozen or so other web-based news organizations; this isn't being made up. [Got proof? Got named sources? Assertions without proof = DOGMA.]

Now if you thought Chrysler was owned by Fiat, you are mistaken. Under the federal court ruling, 65% of Chrysler is now owned by the federal government and the United Auto Worker's union- Fiat owns 20%. The other 15% is still privately owned and presumably will be traded on the stock market. Obama smiles and says he doesn't want to run the auto industry.

As horrifying as this is to comprehend, and being as how this used to be the United States of America , it would appear that the president has the power to destroy private businesses and eliminate upwards of 100,000 jobs just because they don't agree with his political agenda. This is Nazi Germany [DEMAGOGUERY & AD-HOMINEM ATTACK: playing on emotional biases and name-calling, instead of debating the subject of discussion with fact & evidence] stuff, and it's happening right here, right now, in our back yard.. There are voices [Whose voices? Got a named source?] in Washington demanding an explanation, but the "Automotive Task Force" has released no information to the public or to any of the senators [Which senators? Got a named source?]. demanding answers for what has been done. Keep your ear to the ground for more on this story. If you've ever wanted to make a difference about anything in your life, get on the phone to your national senator or representative in the House and demand an investigation into this.

Benjamin Franklin had it right when he said, 'All that's necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.' Car Czar No More. An amazing thing happened as this story was going to press. Obama's Car Czar, Steve Rattner, resigned on July 13 and was promptly replaced by former steel workers union boss Ron Bloom.

According to CBS News [got a named source?], Rattner left 'to return to private life and spend time with his family.' Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said, 'I hope that he takes another opportunity to bring his unique skills to government service in the future.'
By the way, Rattner is under investigation for a multi-million dollar pay-to-play investment bank scandal in New York . Uh-oh! But, we're certain that had nothing to do with his resignation. And, according to several news sources [names of these news sources?] out there, there are rumors [rumors? Got FANDE?] he's being investigated for what could be pay-to-play scandal involving the closing of Chrysler and GM dealerships. Really? Again, that couldn't have anything to with his resignation- that's ridiculous! Like CBS [got a named source?] said, this guy just wants to 'spend more quality time with his family.' Obama has 32 personally appointed "czars" who answer to no one but him, all of whom are acting without any Constitutional authority [Not true!...see NY Times link below for counter argument]. But hey, we're sure they all have 'unique skills,' as Tim Geithner likes to say!"

*****************************END OF EMAIL********************************

Here are the articles from the Washington Examiner and Newsmax, as well as the same stories reported by the New York Times...

FANDE from the NY Times:

"Just to be clear, the job title 'czar' doesn’t exist in the Obama Administration. Many of the officials cited by conservative commentators have been confirmed by the Senate."

CANDE (written by Newsmax, as noted at bottom of article):

FANDE (written by the Associated Press, or AP, as noted at bottom of article):

CANDE (written by the Editorial Page editor of the Washington Examiner):

FANDE or CANDE?...Who is John R. Lott and his son Maxim, and why do their opinions matter?

FANDE from the NY Times...

Chrysler Plans to Shut 1 in 4 of Its U.S. Dealers

The carmaker sent letters to 789 of its 3,200 American dealers revoking their franchises.

BUSINESS May 28, 2009
DealBook: Rattner Had Investment in Cerberus
By DealBook
Steven Rattner, one of the president's leading advisers on the automotive industry, was an investor in the investment fund that controlled Chrysler and GMAC, according to financial disclosures released by the government.

BUSINESS July 22, 2009
Obama Auto Adviser Tells Lawmakers Not to Undo Dealer Closings
The head of President Obama's auto task force warned Congress that halting the closure of dealerships could threaten G.M.'s and Chrysler's turnarounds.

* Bring your Fande, leave your Cande.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Solar is Local...stay put and the sunshine will come to you

Fande = Fact & Evidence; Cande = Conjecture & Exaggeration

Cande from the NY Times = nowhere in the article does the reporter mention that there are solar-electric systems that require no water. That's right! Localized solar-electric systems require no water to cool them down.

As I've written before, most solar-electric systems are localized.

Wall Street wants to make a Rube Goldberg experiment out of solar. Instead of implementing a CO2-free energy infrastructure one rooftop at a time in the Sun Belt of America, meaning with solar-electric panels installed on homes and office buildings, the big investment dollars are looking for large-scale solar projects.

As the New York Times reports, the large-scale solar projects require mass amounts of water to cool them down.

* Keep your eyes peeled and your ears open, and sharpen your critical thinking skills. Bring your Fande, leave your Cande.

"Here is an inconvenient truth about renewable energy: It can sometimes demand a huge amount of water. Many of the proposed solutions to the nation’s energy problems, from certain types of solar farms to biofuel refineries to cleaner coal plants, could consume billions of gallons of water every year."

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The debut of The Dude, Gustavo Dudamel

With all due respect to Lebowski, there is a new "Dude" in town. This Saturday at the Hollywood Bowl, the 28-year-old Gustavo Dudamel takes up his conductor's wand for the first time as the new leader of the LA Philharmonic.

“Music has to be recognized as an element of socialization,” [Jose Abreu, who organized "The System" in which Dudamel learned music] says in Arvelo’s documentary, “as an agent of social development in the highest sense, because it transmits the highest social values, such as solidarity, harmony, mutual compassion, and it has the ability to unite an entire community and express sublime feelings"....

Or, as an 11-year-old violinist in Arvelo’s documentary puts it: “I imagine that God must be like music because something so beautiful can only be the work of God.”

Keep your eye on the bouncing write-down: The "toxic assets" are still on the banks' books

The banks tried to play kick-the-can with the so-called "toxic assets," or subprime mortgages.

* The Federal Accounting Standards Board changed the accounting rules in April 2009, so the banks could wait until the assets appreciated in value (read: until the real estate market improved) and therefore take less of a write-down against the losses.

BOTTOM LINE: The "toxic assets" are still on the banks' books.,kbh,len,itb,bzh,xhb&sec=topStories&pos=9&asset=&ccode=


"Liquidations" of delinquent loans are taking much longer than usual.The banks are taking longer to foreclose and holding foreclosed properties to avoid putting pressure on prices (and thus triggering writedowns). Mortgage mods are delaying foreclosures. Many houses are early in the foreclosure process.

We have wrapped many of Amherst's charts into
the presentation below. Here is the firm's bottom line:

We are concerned that, in light of this housing overhang, the stabilization we have seen in home prices the last few months is temporary....

During the boom, sales of existing homes soared to 7 million a year. Now they're back to a more normal 5 million.

At the current rate of sales, it would take 8.5 months to clear all the inventory on the market. This is still high. Normally "inventory-months" averages about 6.

If Amherst Securities is right, meanwhile, there are another 7 million houses of "shadow inventory" that will hit the market in the next couple of years. It would take 16 months to sell this inventory.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The U.S. imports 50% of the oil it consumes

Americans consume roughly 7.1 billion barrels of oil in 2009

U.S. Petroleum Consumption (2009)

19.5 million barrels per day


7.1 billion barrels per year,0,2829417.graphic,0,3884900.story

"The Westwood company revealed in July that it had found the equivalent of 150 million to 250 million barrels of oil and natural gas in an undisclosed part of Kern County using techniques that the oil company's executives would rather not talk about. It was California's biggest find in 35 years."

* Even if the company can bring above ground the total of 150-250 million barrels of oil (assuming the find is mostly oil) it is still an insignificant amount--15 to 25 days worth of oil, or 2 to 3.5% of our country's yearly consumption of oil.

* We still need to import 9.7 million barrels per day or 3.5 billion barrels per year.

Yes, we import half of our oil. And here are the top 15 countries exporting oil to the U.S.

#1 Canada

#2 Venezuela

#3 Mexico

#4 Saudi Arabia

#5 Nigeria

#6 Angola

#7 Iraq

#8 Russia

#9 Colombia

#10 Brazil

#11 Algeria

#12 Kuwait

#13 United Kingdom

#14 Ecuador

#15 Norway