Wednesday, 27 August 2008

In Passing

D’ya remember those Republicans...? (cont’d.)

...the ones who were going to increase domestic oil drilling?

The platform committee didn’t get the memo:
Members of the GOP platform committee voted Wednesday to stick with an energy plank that doesn’t mention drilling in the [Alaska wildlife] refuge... - “GOP platform backs off Arctic oil to help McCain
And National Review’s Stephen Spruiell thinks it’s a good thing!
By taking a heavy pen to the working draft, the subcommittee prevented a big fight over climate change from breaking out in the full committee, where it would have gotten a lot more press coverage. [Yeah, as if the media isn’t going to notice– you wish! - o.g.] Better a messy draft than a messy split between the party and its candidate on the eve of the convention.
How about trying a little truth? Oh well, nobody believes anything that politicians say, anyway...

Via: Michelle


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In Passing

mmmmmmmmmmmmm... SPLAT!

Excellent (if wince-producing) comment [in thead to this post at The Big Picture] on trying to use the “decrease in the rate of acceleration of the fall of  prices” as an excuse to call the bottom in the housing market:

I’m a mechanical engineer by trade so I “see” things in the physical sense.  Let me give you a physical analogy to the bottom callers and the decreasing acceleration that I’ve grown so sick and tired of hearing about.  If I jump out of a plane with no parachute, I accelerate (via gravity) until I reach a point that the air friction... equals the force of gravity pulling me toward the earth.  This point is called terminal velocity.  The highest... acceleration I experience is the instant I jump out the plane and it “decreases” to zero... at terminal velocity...  BTW – terminal velocity for a human is about 125 mph (store this trivia tidbit for use in just a second.)  So the housing rate of acceleration slowed, SO WHAT!!!!  At terminal velocity my acceleration has slowed to zero, BUT I'm still screaming toward the earth at 125 mph!  The instant right before I face plant into Firma Terra, I'm still experiencing no acceleration.  My point is the acceleration, while important, has NOTHING to do with calling a bottom in housing! The only thing that matters is the direction.  If I’m still heading down then there is no bottom reached regardless of whether I’m headed down faster or slower (acceleration) than last period.

Posted by: Rob P. | Aug 27, 2008 9:50:58 AM

Via:  Howard

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Tuesday, 19 August 2008

In Passing

It’s called “accountability”

Insty links a PJM story about how McCain-Feingold’s “reforms” gave federal bureaucrats say over private citizens’ “legal” political speech: 2000, FEC investigators descended on Muleshoe, Texas, a small farming town of just under 5,000 inhabitants west of Lubbock. They were looking into a complaint filed against [two] local citizens who made the horrible mistake of putting up competing signs alternately supporting Al Gore or George Bush.
After subjecting Liles, Morton, and two other locals to an extensive investigation, the lawyers for the FEC found that they had violated federal law because their homemade sign did not have a disclaimer. In other words, it did not say who had paid for the sign and whether or not it was approved by the candidate, even though everyone in this very small town apparently knew who was responsible... The FEC’s general counsel recommended sending an admonishment letter — he could just as easily have recommended a civil penalty...
The author of the PJM piece, Hans von Spakovsky, is a former Federal Election Commission member. The outrages he describes took place during his tenure. With that in mind, he gets taken to task in the comments:
comment by aloysiusmiller:

So you’ve become an agent of the FEC helping to propagate fear and uncertainty? Anyone who reads this will be a little less likely to express themselves in a spontaneous way.

But you could have written it differently. You could have provided the names of the FEC investigators and staff who promulgated this ruling. Better yet you may have provided their e-mail addresses or their home addresses so that we could send letters to their neighbors shaming them into ignominy for their egregious abuse of the First Amendment. Their parents and children should be shamed by their actions.

Those are the kinds of blogs we need on this story.

Name names.

Aug 19, 2008 - 5:06 am
Hear! Hear!

As I wrote almost a year ago:
“Naming and shaming” of officials may turn out to be one of the bloggers’ most important functions, given the way the regular media (even talk radio) customarily omit identifying the people behind the positions.
While the MSM may worry about staying on good terms with its “sources” (and von Spavosky may want to avoid embarrassing his former colleagues), bloggers shouldn’t owe these bozos anything. The little grey men who “just enforce the rules” should be outed– repeatedly. And if being confronted over what they do makes them uncomfortable, well it’s called “accountability.”

I eagerly await von Spakovsky’s follow-up.

Related: McCain sets himself up the bomb

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Monday, 18 August 2008

In Passing

But wait! There’s More!

More end-of-term stupidity! Make it stop!

Despite 189 American lives lost in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing, the U.S. settled all lawsuits against Libya for terrorist killings and restored diplomatic relations with the country today – with reparations to be paid to Libya.
Nicole Thompson, a State Department spokeswoman, told WND, “The settlement goes to both sides. The settlement is for outstanding claims on the part of Libya as well as the United States.” When asked whether the U.S. will make reparations payments to Libya, Thompson responded, “Yes.” - WorldNetDaily

Ah yes, the State Department. Looking out for everyone’s interests except America’s.

Via: The Corner via Shermlock


Further State Department follies:

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Monday, 04 August 2008

In Passing

Here’s another one you can bet on...


What happens to New York if there isn’t enough juice to meet demand?
They’ll go to President Obama, get him to impose nationwide electricity rationing, take what they need from everyone who’s still running a generator, and feel superior ever after.

You wouldn’t expect anything constructive out of New York’s liberals, would you?

(Post editorial via IP.)

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In Passing

Concentrating on the important stuff

Instapundit linked this one yesterday:

TransCanada Corp., Canada's largest pipeline company, won state approval and a $500 million subsidy to proceed with plans to build an estimated $27 billion pipeline that will carry natural gas from Alaska's Arctic region to U.S. markets.

The Alaska Senate voted today in favor of the proposal by Calgary-based TransCanada, following approval last month by the House.  The company will get a state license to begin studies and early work on the pipeline. -
Glenn says, “We need it,” and I agree, but one thing bothered me.  This project seems such a no-brainer: Why the heck should getting things underway require a $½-billion subsidy from the state of Alaska?  Well, read on...
The line would ship 4.5 billion cubic feet of gas a day over 1,700 miles (2,735 kilometers) through Canada to U.S. markets...

Under its license agreement with the state, TransCanada will get the $500 million subsidy in return for seeking federal [Meaning “Canadian and U.S.”
? - O.G.] regulatory approval for the project and finding customers for the pipeline.  The license doesn't guarantee construction of the project.
I suppose it could be argued that half a billion dollars isn’t excesive regulatory overhead for a project with a cost “at least $26.6 billion,” although, I’d note that the half billion is only “for seeking federal regulatory approval”[1] and that the project’s total “compliance” bill will undoubtedly be much higher.

But the more disturbing message I’m getting here is that, despite all the politicians’ talk of “energy independence,” the likelihood that this project would not receive governmental approval must be great enough that TransCanada wouldn’t touch it unless somebody else guaranteed that the company’s first $½-billion of expenses were covered.

Well, hurrah for regulation.  It’s so reassuring to know that, despite energy prices going up and up, there are still folks there to concentrate on the important stuff.  We may freeze in the dark, but we’ll take comfort in the knowledge that we got our money’s worth.

[1] IMO it’s probably safe to assume that should the pipeline get beyond the vaporware stage, “finding customers” won’t be a problem.

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Saturday, 02 August 2008

In Passing

If it works, I want to offer a wager

Linked at.several.sites, stories about MIT-developed “24-hour solar power.”  If you drill down, you find that what’s actually been developed is a significantly-more-efficiant water electrolysis process which, if combined with a fuel cell, makes for a better “storage battery”

A liquid catalyst was added to water before electrolysis to achieve what the researchers claim is almost 100-percent efficiency...

“The hard part of getting water to split is not the hydrogen -- platinum as a catalyst works fine for the hydrogen. But platinum works very poorly for oxygen, making you use much more energy,” said MIT chemistry professor Daniel Nocera.  “What we have done is made a catalyst work for the oxygen part without any extra energy.  In fact, with our catalyst almost 100 percent of the current used for electrolysis goes into making oxygen and hydrogen.” - EETimes
MIT’s new cobalt phosphate catalyst is also less toxic and much easier to handle than the nickel oxide types previously used.  This has the potential to make electrolysis practical for energy storage, something really important.

But I’m disappointed with all the emphasis on solar.  While solar is sexy, concentrating on it limits your thinking.  Electrolysis is a “battery,” and you can use any available electricity to charge it: Windmills, off-peak hydro, off-peak nuclear... whatever.  Add this to our existing generation-distribution system, and we can significantly increase peak capacity, replace some of the expen$ive natural-gas-fired peaking plants we use now, or do both.  Or place the electrolysis plants at the points of demand and “charge” them in the wee hours (when demand and line losses are low). Poof, we’ve made a significant dent in mitigating our distribution capacity problem.[1]  All before we’ve installed a single photovoltaic panel.

Now for the wager.  If this works, the Luddites, transnational progressives, and liberal fascists will see this as a threat. Because it solves a bunch of problems,[2] and without problems they have no “handles” for taking control of our lives.  So there will be arguments, like this one:
It is established FACT that Hydrogen is very difficult to contain.  It leaks through the tightest seals like they were swiss cheese, and once free it races into the atmosphere and escapes into space.

This is not a major problem when all our hydrogen comes from the deep deposit hydrogen mines in Australia and Canada, but what if this new discovery hearalds an age of wholesail water mining?  Do these so-called scientists not realise that we cannot have water without hydrogen?  Have they forgotten that humans are 80% water?  That water makes our crops grow and our fish swim??  Our life's blood could be literally floating away!

This irresponsible god-gaming may save us from peak oil today, but our grandchildren tomorrow will be facing PEAK WATER if these experiments are allowed to continue!

Write to your political representative today!
The above, not by me but by Slashdot poster “Repton,” almost perfectly mimics the doom-mongering about so much modern technology that already eminates from the “fear crowd.”[3]  He posted it last night at 7:52p.m., less than an hour after Slashdot linked the story.

Now, does anyone want to bet against this exact argument being made, in total seriousness, by somebody, sometime in the near future?[4]

Thought not.

(I posted similar thoughts in a couple.of comments at Daily Pundit.)

UPDATES 080802 14:40:
Related:  The other half of the system:
Fuel Cell Efficiency May Be Improved With Material With ‘Colossal Ionic Conductivity’   (HT: Tom Cohoe at Daily Pundit)

Alex Hutchinson gets it:
It's worth noting that Nocera's current experiments didn't use solar energy—they simply ran off electricity from the grid. That's actually an advantage, since it means the same technology could be used to make hydrogen with wind turbines or other renewable sources like hydropower.
Read the whole article: a good layman’s guide to the technology, plus a “what’s next” explanation of what needs to be done to make it practical.  (Via Bill Quick.)


[1] Which may be a mixed blessing:  It means we can get by longer with the distribution we have, but there’s also less incentive to finally stifle the NIMBYs and BANANAs among us and get down to building more transmission lines.

[2] Some real, and some imaginary.

[3] All it lacks is a few more exclamation marks!!!

[4] Of course, for this particular argument we could just hand ’em a copy of Isaac Asimov’s “The Martian Way” and tell ’em to STFU.

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