By Jeff Sanford
Toronto, Ontario — February 2, 2018 — In today’s Friday Fun: a collision sends cash across a highway, Canadian actuaries confirm weird weather, Australian auto recyclers demand action, and much, much more.
-On Tuesday, a black passenger car struck a guardrail, spun out of control and then hit a flatbed trailer in Illinois. Cash exploded from the car, scattered across the highway. A state trooper explained to a local reporter that a third vehicle swerved and detoured into a ditch to avoid the first crash. The driver of that vehicle was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The highway had to be shut down for nearly an hour, backing up traffic for miles, as the police cleared up the cash. -This week, CNN covered a police pursuit in Spain that ended with officers puzzling by why the pursued two vehicles were filled to the windows with oranges. When police were finally able to pull the car over they opened the door, their their feet were buried in a flood of fruit. Deepening the mystery, a truck was found, also packed with oranges. The Seville police department recovered more than four tons of the fruit from the vehicles. According to a newspaper report the drivers claimed they were, “… coming from very far away and had been stopping and collecting oranges along the way.” Police eventually determined the oranges had been stolen -The most ridiculous auto-related regulatory dispute in Canada continues to play out along the Saskatchewan, Alberta border. In December Saskatchewan Transportation Minister Dave Marit declared all Alberta contractors working on government highway and building projects in his province will have to get a local licence plate. It seems to be a blatant and desperate cash grab by the Saskatchewan government. Those who live in Lloydminster are experiencing the lunacy first hand. The provincial border splits that town in two and so those working on one side of the city, but living on the other, now have to shell out for two different license plates. The conflict is now entering its second month. The new rule applies only to Albertans. The two governments have argued about where to meet to solve the problem. A hilarius and satirical report in the National Post wondered how a war over license plates between the two provinces would play out. According to the Post The Great Prairie War would see Alberta win. According to the story, “Alberta is virtually guaranteed air superiority. Let’s assume that both provinces will have to fight a war using the Canadian Armed Forces already within their respective borders. Alberta would have CFB Cold Lake, Canada’s busiest RCAF base and the home of three CF-18 squadrons. The Saskatchewan Air Force, meanwhile, would have to be cobbled together with whatever is at CFB Moose Jaw, an air training base most famous as the home of the Snowbirds… Alberta also has way more guns, tanks and killer drones. According to 2017 data… Alberta also has more people able to fire guns; it has 261,635 firearms licenses to Saskatchewan’s 97,785. And here again, the existing military hardware in Alberta easily outnumbers anything in Saskatchewan: More bases, more officers, more soldiers, more equipment. Alberta even has the headquarters of Canada’s top-secret autonomous killer drone program.” http://bit.ly/2DurhmT http://cnn.it/2EoBl23
-The Canadian Institute of Actuaries is the professional group for the math wizards who calculate the statistical likelihood of the many and various events that insurance companies write policies on. According to a recent report on an index produced by the body, Canada is experiencing weather that cannot be explained by normal variability. The story notes that the institute compiles what it calls the Actuaries Climate Index. “The method reveals a slow, gradual increase in extreme weather. The overall Canadian index indicates that during the entire three decades between 1961 and 1990, extreme weather fell outside the range of normal variability only five times. In the last 10 years, however, that happened twelve times. Across Canada, hot days have exceeded the normal number every quarter since the winter of 2015. The number of cold days hasn’t exceeded normal for nine years. According to the report, it’s getting wetter, too. Across Canada, the average number of days with heavy rain or snow has been outside the norm since spring 2013. In Ontario and Quebec, it’s been since winter 2008. In the Maritimes, where sea level has been higher than the normal range for the last twelve years,” according to the report. Actuaries use the information in their calculation of risk for insurance companies. That is, they provide projections only and prefer to stay out of politics. But they can offer some solid evidence about the reality of global warming. A source is quoted in the story as saying, “There’s a lot of political angst around the issue of global warming and we’re trying to be neutral sources. We’re just adding our voice. We’re in it for the long haul, so we are concerned for the sustainability of our planet.” http://bit.ly/2rnLDN6
-Auto recyclers in Australia are demanding regulators shut down unauthorized operations that are selling cheap auto parts online. According to a story that ran this past week in an Australian newspaper the parts are coming from illegal backyard recyclers. Canadian recyclers will likely relate to the issue. A spokesperson for the Auto Recyclers Association of Australia was quoted as saying, “There’s a lot of back yarders around selling stuff cheap… There is the very professional and competent operators who play a very important role in receiving end-of-life vehicles and de-polluting them and harvesting parts. There is a whole second part of the industry, a dark side of the industry, where there are many hundreds of operators around Australia who operate outside of the regulatory regime… In effect they’re doing great damage to the industry and to the environment.” Another recycler noted that the Australian industry was becoming more “refined” with end-of-life vehicles being recycled for parts, scrapped for metal or shipped to Dubai in the Middle East to be sold on the international market. “What we are trying to do is be more efficient, environmentally friendly and help the customer. What we need is a process where there’s better enforcement, there’s better bearing down on illegal operators,” the source was quoted as saying. One suggestion was a law that would allow only auction houses and councils to sell discarded or damaged vehicles to professional recyclers. “That would go a long way to reducing the stock that is going to the illegal operators, and that would be of great benefit to not only the industry but also the community,” said one of the sources. http://ab.co/2FreWjN
-A story in the Wall Street Journal this past week finds that a nationwide truck shortage is forcing thousands of shippers to postpone deliveries or pay dearly to jump the line. The story suggests several factors have, “… converged to overwhelm the trucking market. Freight volumes in December hit near-record levels for that time of year, on the back of a strengthening economy. Retailers are replenishing stocks after one of the strongest holiday sales seasons in recent years. Manufacturers are also shipping more cargo; in December, industrial production had the largest year-over-year gain since 2010… What’s more, bad weather and a new federal safety rule that took effect in December have crimped the supply of available trucks.” Even though diesel prices are high, “… spot-market prices for dry vans, the most commonly used big rig, are up more than 20% year-over-year,” according to the story. “Literally every possible thing that could be going against a shipper is happening right now,” a source was quoted as saying. The extreme weather has also contributed to the the tight shipping situation. Truckers are now being forced to keep better and more accurate driving logs. Time behind the wheel is being monitored electronically and so truckers are not staying up and driving through the night to make a fast delivery. http://on.wsj.com/2Bo9k7r
-The high-end car-maker Bugatti recently announced it has produced the largest component to be printed from titanium alloy. The brake is being made for its insanely expensive vehicle, the Chiron. The new calipers are meant to combine minimum weight with maximum stiffness and are currently made out of titanium and high strength steel, “… but Bugatti felt there was room for improvement, so the company’s engineers came up with another version made entirely of an aerospace titanium alloy called Ti6AI4V.” Titanium alloys are notoriously hard to cast or forge so Bugatti used 3D printing, which, “… uses lasers to fuse titanium alloy powder into precise, complex shapes…” After Bugatti completed computer modeling, the data files were sent to the fabricating plant. During the process the printer laid down 2,213 layers of fine titanium alloy powder one at a time. After each layer was set down, the lasers, guided by the design files, “… fused the alloy… that cooled and solidified instantly, before the machine repeated the process,” according to a story. The new caliper is scheduled to begin vehicle trials in June of this year. http://bit.ly/2FCBPkz