Matthew Henry John Bartlett

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Friday 20 November, 02020

Energy costs at the new house

by Matthew Bartlett @ 9:43 am

Now that we’re well and truly settled in our new house (14 months in), I was interested to compare the energy usage here with our previous rental.

The happy gist is that the new Norway Street house costs about $730 less per year in energy (including heating, cooking, hot water etc), despite being about 38% larger in floor area than the Brooklyn rental. The new house also has the strange and wonderful feature of being warm everywhere in the house, all the time.

Our architects and builders put quite a lot of effort into making the house energy efficient, chiefly through air-tightness, insulation, window quality, and care with thermal bridging. Now it would be really interesting to compare the energy use with a similar-sized new house built closer to the standard required by the building code. Perhaps I can convince the neighbours …

Thursday 19 November, 02020

American Factory

by Matthew Bartlett @ 9:45 am

American Factory' review: Obamas deliver nuanced Netflix doc - SupChina

American Factory, which is on Netflix, and which Dad tells me was funded by the Obamas, is very much worth watching. It’s the story of the Chinese resuscitation of a windshield factory in Dayton, Ohio.

The film is beautiful to look at, and offers many insights into what life might feel like for workers in the superpowers. Driving the film are the obvious clashes of culture and interests, plus a fight about whether to unionise (the Workers’ Paradise has strong feelings about unions not controlled by the CCCP). You can imagine how Trump might have some appeal in this world — ‘Make America Great Again’ might be heard as ‘put the Americans back in charge of our factory’ or ‘put our wages back up to $29/hour’ (rather than the US$14/hour starter rate under the new management). Amazing to me is the degree of access the filmmakers got — as well as the many interviews with people at all levels of the plant, you get to listen in (well, read the translation) when the Chinese boss explains to the Chinese portion of the staff how to deal with American workers who’ve been pampered since birth.

Michele Obama made the ridiculous comment that the film ‘doesn’t come in with a perspective; it’s not an editorial’ (and can you believe they call their production company ‘Higher Ground’?); much more illuminating is an interview with the filmmakers, Julia Reichert & Steve Bognar, by the Centre for Media and Social Impact, which I gather was published closer to the time of a previous film of theirs about the earlier closure of the same factory, when it was owned by General Motors.