Saturday, January 31, 2009

Old Wafers

The electronics industry is going through a world of hurt. NEC is no exception.

Amid a massive December quarter loss, NEC Corp has stated plans to cut more than 20,000 jobs as it seeks to save $889 million (80 billion yen) over the next two years.
Now here is what really surprised me.
NEC's job cuts and earnings announcements came this morning, one day after NEC Electronics America announced it will close the six-inch wafer fab line at its manufacturing facility in Roseville, Calif, by the end of March 2010. With the action, the Roseville plant will exclusively offer 8-inch wafer production.

The move was not entirely unexpected. The closure is part of a broader decision by NEC Electronics America's parent company NEC to consolidate select six-inch fabrication lines worldwide as it aims to improve global manufacturing efficiency.
Six inches is also called 150 mm in the business. Do you know how old 150 mm technology is? It was introduced in 1981. That is 28 years ago. The 200mm size (8 inch)was introduced in 1990 [pdf] and roughly a doubled the chip output from a production facility given the area increase. That was nineteen years ago. In 2001 the 300 mm size (12 inch) was new. That is eight years ago. So it surprised me that NEC was keeping such an old production equipment running. Normally equipment that old has been donated to a university already.

Obama's Plan For Failure

Here is Obama's plan for failure. For instance he has promised to lower the debt. I think that promise has expired. And he will be friendlier to the working class by destroying the companies they work for. The man is a genius.

Obamanomics: How Bottom-Up Economic Prosperity Will Replace Trickle-Down Economics (Economics in the Obama Presidency)

I can explain in simple terms why bottom up doesn't work. Say you give a man a dollar stimulus and he spends it. About 10¢ of that dollar will wind up as profit for the manufacturer. This dollar will increase demand which will tend to cause prices to rise. Now suppose you give business a $1 tax cut. That whole dollar will go into making the business better serve its customers, tend to increase supply (lowering prices) and the very businesses that are satisfying their customers the most (doing more with less) will benefit the most from a tax cut on business. You know, reward winners instead of trying to pick them.

And here is another book that Obama needs to read. How to appoint people to government without embarrassing yourself. He seems to have missed reading it.

The Obama Political Appointee Primer

We now have a couple of benchmarks. We can look back in a year or three and see how he has been doing.

Why hasn't Polywell Fusion been funded by the Obama administration?
IEC Fusion Technology (Polywell Fusion) Explained

Cross Posted at Classical Values

First The Spending Then The Plan

President Present is about to unveil his new spending plan. His old plan was spend first and plan later. Could it mean the old way has passed its expiration date?

President Barack Obama said Saturday his administration will outline a new strategy in the coming days for spending billions of federal dollars to pull the nation out of an economic crisis he described as "devastating."

Obama and his top advisers are weighing how to structure the remaining $350 billion that Congress approved last year to save financial institutions and lenders from collapse. The new president also warned there is no single action that would allow his administration to fix the struggling U.S. economy, a stark statement at the end of a week that saw hundreds of thousands of Americans lose their jobs.

"No one bill, no matter how comprehensive, can cure what ails our economy," Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address. "So just as we jump-start job creation, we must also ensure that markets are stable, credit is flowing and families can stay in their homes."
Of course there is something he could do to give a boost to companies that were making money: lower taxes on them.
"And we will insist on unprecedented transparency, rigorous oversight and clear accountability so taxpayers know how their money is being spent and whether it is achieving results."

Obama's message — largely repackaged from a week of White House statements — was as much for the country as it was for lawmakers: Pass the separate American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan or things are going to get worse.
Two things here are worth remarking on. The first: When a Chicago politician promises a new era of transparency what that means is, "We have found a new way to siphon off the vigorish that we hope no one will notice." Second off this economy will get worse for a while no matter what. Passing a new theft, bail out, and raise taxes bill is guaranteed to make them worse longer.

But don't worry. Just to sweeten the stimulus deal Our Congress Critters have promised to start a trade war.
Less than two weeks into office, President Barack Obama faces a dilemma over protectionist provisions in a massive economic stimulus bill: Backing the measures could set off a trade war, while opposing them could trigger a backlash from his supporters.

The choice involves "buy American" provisions attached to White House-backed stimulus legislation moving through Congress. They would require major public works projects to favor U.S. steel, iron and manufacturing over imports.

Some Democratic lawmakers and interest groups allied to the president support the measures, but international allies and trading partners are warning that favoring U.S. companies would breach U.S. trade commitments and could set off tit-for-tat countermeasures around the world.

The two largest U.S. trading partners already have spoken out against the measures. On Thursday, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressed concern and the European Union warned that it would not "stand idly by" if such measures were passed. On Friday, Brazil's president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva also criticized the measures.
Shades of Smoot-Hawley. So let me see. In less than two weeks Obama has annoyed Hamas and pissed off Canada, The European Union, and Brazil. All to gouge the American taxpayer and support his union and Arab friends. I think he is off to an excellent start. Only Three Years 11 months 2 weeks and 5 days to go. Well I hear that "Hot Rod" Blagojevich is currently unemployed. Perhaps Mr. Obama could hire him for some executive advice and at least do something about one man's unemployment problem.


IEC Fusion Technology (Polywell Fusion) Explained
Why hasn't Polywell Fusion been funded by the Obama administration?

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Friday, January 30, 2009

Buyers And Sellers

Purchasing.Com looks at the economy and doesn't like what it sees.

* Weak demand, excess supply depresses copper
* Titanium shipments are forecast to slide 5-15%
* Magnesium demand is off, prices are down
* Iron ore prices seen falling 30% in 2009
* Diesel’s monthly average is at a four-year low
* Semiconductor industry to drop 5.8% in China
Every one of those items is an input to some producer. So all those items that are bad news for producers are good news for users.


IEC Fusion Technology (Polywell Fusion) Explained
Why hasn't Polywell Fusion been funded by the Obama administration?

Rushing To Get A BiPartisan Stimulus

Rush Limbaugh seems to be on a roll. At least he has rolled Obama (and by the end of his term I think you will have a hard time finding some one who hasn't rolled Obama. 3 years 11 months 2 weeks and 6 days to go.) You can read the whole thing here. But let me quote this choice excerpt.
Fifty-three percent of American voters voted for Barack Obama; 46% voted for John McCain, and 1% voted for wackos. Give that 1% to President Obama. Let's say the vote was 54% to 46%. As a way to bring the country together and at the same time determine the most effective way to deal with recessions, under the Obama-Limbaugh Stimulus Plan of 2009: 54% of the $900 billion -- $486 billion -- will be spent on infrastructure and pork as defined by Mr. Obama and the Democrats; 46% -- $414 billion -- will be directed toward tax cuts, as determined by me.
If you lower taxes on business the greatest amount of money goes to those with the most profits. Rewarding those who are doing well. Funding directed by Congress rewards the politically connected. I can see why President Present might want to back away from this one as much as he can. Why does this seem so much like Chicago politics?

H/T Instapundit who sent me to Roger Kimball who has some interesting thoughts.

Why hasn't Polywell Fusion been funded by the Obama administration? IEC Fusion Technology blog

Cross Posted at Classical Values

I Was Not Present

It seems the Republicans are not happy with the latest theft from the taxpayers.

President Barack Obama got the $825 (or $1.2 trillion over a decade) stimulus package through the House of Representatives but the 244 to 188 vote is a hollow victory indeed. Without a single Republican voting for the bill, his high-profile visit to Capitol Hill on Tuesday came to exactly naught - at least on the House side.
They didn't even get all the Democrats to vote for the bill. Eleven of them defected. And what was the Republican objection? Not enough tax cuts and too much directed spending. Better known as pork.
The Democratic leadership on Capitol Hill badly miscalculated by treating the bill as a victor's charter. Not that it seemed to bother Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, who grinned from ear to ear as she announced the result of the vote.

Obama said yesterday he did not feel he had ownership of the bill. Be that as it may, if it goes through the Senate in similar fashion and is signed into law then - the efforts of Pelosio and Senator Harry Reid notwithstanding - it will be his and his alone.
Senator and now President Present says the buck stops over there. And Congress spending like drunken sailors? That unfairly maligns drunken sailors. The sailors use their own money.

H/T Instapundit

Polywell Fusion - Keeping It Alive

Another short term contract [pdf] for wiffle ball fusion is out for bid by the US Navy. Here is the interesting part.

3.1.1 Contractor shall review the results from Contracts N00014-93-C-0224, N00014-96-C-0039, contract N68936-03-C-0031, and any other publically available current documentation regarding the technical research and development in the field of energy production using a fusion reaction. The review shall primarily investigate the effects of parallel electron heat loss to the coil joints with respect
to plasma stability and electron confinement time.


3.2.1 The contractor will modify/upgrade the existing wiffleball #7 (WB-7) device by installing compact, high temperature coil joints to investigate the electron parallel heat loss. This modified device shall hereafter be identified as Wiffleball #7.1 (WB-7.1).

3.2.2 The Contractor shall test the WB-7.1 to measure the plasma beta (ratio of plasma pressure to the applied magnetic field pressure) and to monitor the wiffleball formation process. The contractor will deploy multiple magnetic field probes inside the device to generate time varying magnetic field mapping to investigate the wiffleball formation.

3.3. The contractor shall take the results of the review specified in 3.1 and tests specified in 3.2 and provide a report detailing workable instrumentation set-ups to resolve the plasma production and physics questions raised in the review and tests for a final report for contracts.
This doesn't look like it amounts to any more than a few weeks of work. I'm going to look into the contracts mentioned and see if I can figure out the intention here.


N00014-93-C-0224 Jan 1995
N00014-96-C-0039 Jan 1996
N68936-03-C-0031 March 2003

H/T KitemanSA at Talk Polywell

Why hasn't Polywell Fusion been funded by the Obama administration? IEC Fusion Technology blog.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

What Next For Polywell Fusion?

Dr. Bussard thought that a full scale net energy Polywell Fusion program could be done for $200 million. What could be done to advance the knowledge base that wouldn't require that kind of commitment?

I have been giving some thought to what the next step in the Polywell Fusion experiments might be. Here is what I have so far:

I think a continuous operation experiment (liquid nitrogen cooled copper magnet coils described at WB-7x Design) could reach .45 Tesla magnetic field strength for about $20 million. Most of that going into power supplies. That is a rough estimate: +/- $5 million is probably 1 sigma.

If I was begging that is one place to start.

Or maybe forget the big power supplies and go for a pulsed small superconducting model. If a lot of neutrons (1E12/sq cm Second) were not generated (or only generated in pulses) MgB would be a good candidate for the coil material if the coils were totally custom.

Heck it might be good just to buy an MRI machine for the coils. An MRI can be had for about $1 million. If you can get just the coils they might only be $200K. A WB machine built like that could be done for probably $5 to $7 million. If it shows good pulsed results pony up for the power supplies. And start thinking about a 100 MW machine.

Why hasn't Polywell Fusion been funded by the Obama administration?
IEC Fusion Technology blog

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Strange Attractors

I was reading Hendrik Tennekes on climate models and learned some very interesting mathematics. Let me walk you through it. It isn't hard and it turns out to be very beautiful. First off let me give you the flavor of the man. Here is something he says that I really like: “Physicists dream of Nobel prizes, engineers dream of mishaps.” So true. When ever an aircraft goes down I want to know if it was something I worked on. If the answer is yes I say to myself: "Pray to God it wasn't something I did."

OK. Climate models.

"The constraints imposed by the planetary ecosystem require continuous adjustment and permanent adaptation. Predictive skills are of secondary importance."

Today I still feel that way. I cannot bring myself to accept any type of prediction paradigm, and choose a adaptation paradigm instead. This brings me in the vicinity of Roger Pielke Sr.'s emphasis on land-use changes and Ronald Brunner's modest bottom-up alternatives. It goes without saying that I abhor such dogmas as various claims to Manage The Planet or Greenpeace's belief in Saving the Earth. These ideologies presuppose that the intelligence of Homo sapiens is capable of such feats. However, I know of no evidence to support such claims.
Next up we start getting into ideas from the mathematics of chaos. The math was first found by by Edward N. Lorenz a meteorologist who founded chaos theory and found the Lorenz attractor.

A bit on chaos theory is in order.
In mathematics, chaos theory describes the behaviour of certain dynamical systems – that is, systems whose states evolve with time – that may exhibit dynamics that are highly sensitive to initial conditions (popularly referred to as the butterfly effect). As a result of this sensitivity, which manifests itself as an exponential growth of perturbations in the initial conditions, the behavior of chaotic systems appears to be random. This happens even though these systems are deterministic, meaning that their future dynamics are fully defined by their initial conditions, with no random elements involved. This behavior is known as deterministic chaos, or simply chaos.

Chaotic behaviour is also observed in natural systems, such as the weather. This may be explained by a chaos-theoretical analysis of a mathematical model of such a system, embodying the laws of physics that are relevant for the natural system.
Here is a look at one version of a Lorenz Attractor:

Lorenz wrote a book on the subject that will be helpful to those that want to get deeper in the subject: The Essence of Chaos.

Ok. Now that you have some background lets continue on with weather and climate models.
Back to Lorenz. Complex deterministic systems suffer not only from sensitive dependence on initial conditions but also from possible sensitive dependence on the differences between Nature and the models employed in representing it. The apparent linear response of the current generation of climate models to radiative forcing is likely caused by inadvertent shortcomings in the parameterization schemes employed. Karl Popper wrote (see my essay on his views):
"The method of science depends on our attempts to describe the world with simple models. Theories that are complex may become untestable, even if they happen to be true. Science may be described as the art of systematic oversimplification, the art of discerning what we may with advantage omit."

If Popper had known of the predictability problems caused by the Lorenz paradigm, he could easily have expanded on this statement. He might have added that simple models are unlikely to represent adequately the nonlinear details of the response of the system, and are therefore unlikely to show a realistic response to threshold crossings hidden in its microstructure. Popper knew, of course, that complex models (such as General Circulation Models) face another dilemma.

I quote him again: "The question arises: how good does the model have to be in order to allow us to calculate the approximation required by accountability? (…) The complexity of the system can be assessed only if an approximate model is at hand."

From this perspective, those that advocate the idea that the response of the real climate to radiative forcing is adequately represented in climate models have an obligation to prove that they have not overlooked a single nonlinear, possibly chaotic feedback mechanism that Nature itself employs.

Popper would have been sympathetic. He repeatedly warns about the dangers of "infinite regress." As a staunch defender of the Lorenz paradigm, I add that the task of finding all nonlinear feedback mechanisms in the microstructure of the radiation balance probably is at least as daunting as the task of finding the proverbial needle in the haystack. The blind adherence to the harebrained idea that climate models can generate "realistic" simulations of climate is the principal reason why I remain a climate skeptic. From my background in turbulence I look forward with grim anticipation to the day that climate models will run with a horizontal resolution of less than a kilometer. The horrible predictability problems of turbulent flows then will descend on climate science with a vengeance.
The short version: climate models can't predict anything as they currently stand because they are too coarse to properly model the phenomenon in question. When they get fine enough they won't be able to predict anything because chaos of the climate system and the models will take over.

I agree with Hendrick on the solution to the climate problem: preparation for adaptation to what ever happens is effort well spent. Trying to hold back the tides is a waste of time, effort, and accumulated capital.

H/T icarus at Talk Polywell

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Polywell Fusion

It seems to me that funding for the Polywell Fusion Project being run by EMC2 Fusion has stalled.

So I want to do something about that. When ever you post a comment on a blog use this tagline:

Why hasn't Polywell Fusion been funded?

If the blog allows embeded urls you can post this:

Why hasn't Polywell Fusion been funded?

or this:

Why hasn't Polywell Fusion been funded?
<a href="">IEC Fusion Technology blog</a>

Contact your Congress Critters and President too.

House of Representatives
The Senate
The President

What is Polywell Fusion?

Easy Low Cost No Radiation Fusion

Rick Nebel Updates The Latest News

Cross Posted at Classical Values

A Violation Of Principles

It seems like the net is all abuzz about how climate science violates the principles of forecasting. Excellent. Except I blogged the very same report in June of 2007 at Principles Of Forecasting. Nice to see the folks on the net keeping up to date.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Holocaust Survivors Say: Legalize Marijuana

It is about a minute with English subtitles. The Jerusalem Post explains how this came to be.
The Green Leaf Graduates, which split from the political party Aleh Yarok, best known for its advocacy of the legalization of cannabis, is making waves with its most recent announcement: a plan to incorporate the Holocaust Survivors Party.
It looks like they have done that. At least as far as the video is concerned.
Yaakov Kfir, the party's leader, said he joined forces with the Green Leaf Graduates to attract more attention to the survivors' cause.

"The fact that I am interviewed by so many media outlets indicates that the decision to hook up with the Aleh Yarok graduates was smarter than if I had chosen to go with a larger, more solid party," Kfir said on Wednesday.
Politics makes strage bedfellows as a spokeswoman for the Green Leaf party explains.
Michelle Levine, a spokeswoman for the Green Leaf Graduates, voiced strong support for Kfir's cause. She described the government's failure to address the concerns of Holocaust survivors as a "national disgrace" and hoped that younger voters drawn to the party would be given additional incentive to vote in order to support the survivors' cause.

"People who would vote for the survivors right now are all older. [The survivors' party] wants to get younger people involved, like the Pensioners Party did before," said Levine, referring to the Gil Party's surprising 2006 success, which was fueled largely by disillusioned young voters.

She was forthright about the Green Leaf Graduates' intention to use support for the survivors' cause to further its own agenda of legalizing marijuana and said that the survivors had no problem with the issue.

"They say to us that at their age they don't see why [marijuana] is an issue," she continued. "They don't consider it drugs. They even have friends who have cancer or something who are ashamed to ask for a prescription. Easier access to medical marijuana is something we're fighting for."
You know. I think the boomer generation is going to give a big push to the legalization efforts in America. When the infirmities of old age start setting in, making relaxation a puff away is going to sound pretty darned good.

And how about a few good books on the subject:

Marihuana: The Forbidden Medicine

Biology of Marijuana

Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base

Cross Posted at Classical Values

An Invatation

General Eisenhower had a few things to say while he was campaigning for President. This is one of them:

There is a Korean war-and we are fighting it-for the simplest of reasons: Because free leadership failed to check and to turn back Communist ambition before it savagely attacked us. The Korean war-more perhaps than any other war in history-simply and swiftly followed the collapse of our political defenses. There is no other reason than this: We failed to read and to outwit the totalitarian mind.
I know something of this totalitarian mind. Through the years of World War II, I carried a heavy burden of decision in the free world's crusade against the tyranny then threatening us all. Month after month, year after year, I had to search out and to weigh the strengths and weaknesses of an enemy driven by the lust to rule the great globe itself. World War II should have taught us all one lesson. The lesson is this: To vacillate, to hesitate-to appease even by merely betraying unsteady purpose-is to feed a dictator's appetite for conquest and to invite war itself.
I sure hope Obama is studying history. Because he sure looks like he might have missed a few pages in his previous studies. His opening his presidency with an interview on an Arabic TV station was not a good signal. His sending a peace envoy to solve the Israeli/Gaza problem was not a good signal. At least
Hamas was not impressed. Unconditional talks with Syria and Iran?

He is the man who had a plan.
Five days before being sworn in as the 44th president of the United States, President-elect Barack Obama told CBS that he intends to act "from Day One" to stop the violence between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
How is that working out for ya Barry?
"We are going to start on Day One, we are going to take a regional approach, we're going to have to involve Syria in discussions, we are going to have to engage Iran," Obama said in the interview aired Wednesday night.

Obama added that while he was committed to Israel's security, the issue must be solved with utmost urgency.
Uh. Oh. Barry. Once they know you are in a hurry the price goes up. Barry, what you need is Negotiation Boot Camp.

H/T a friend

Volcano Cooling

Is Sarah Palin behind the latest threat to global warming? Of course not. An Alaskan volcano is.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Mount Redoubt continues to rumble and simmer, prompting geologists to say this Alaska volcano could erupt "within days."

Scientists from the Alaska Volcano Observatory have been monitoring activity round-the-clock since the weekend.

If Mount Redoubt does erupt, it would be the first time this occurred in nearly 20 years. And if won't likely be pretty.

History shows that volcanoes in Alaska, including Redoubt, typically erupt explosively, shooting ash almost eight miles high.

This differs from volcanoes in Hawaii, which usually have slow rolling lava ooze out.

The difference is gas trying to escape gets blocked, possibly by a lava dome or a viscous magma that increases the power from beneath, said observatory geologist Jennifer Adleman.

"Its pressure keeps building and building. . . .," she said.

Depending on the winds, the ash plume could be pushed straight at Anchorage, the state's largest city. This has prompted state and city officials to post bulletins on how to deal with the ash.
But maybe there isn't going to be an eruption after all.
Recent seismic activity could be a prelude to an eruption, "perhaps within hours to days," said geologists from the Alaska Volcano Observatory.

The 10,197-foot peak sits about 50 miles west of Kenai and 100 miles southwest of Anchorage. It last erupted during a five-month stretch beginning December, 1989.

Recent activity began around 1 a.m. Sunday, then it eased about five hours later.

• Click here to visit's Natural Science Center.

It was still well above normal "background" tremor levels, said Dave Schneider, a volcanologist from the observatory.

An observatory crew flew over Redoubt, and it ruled there had been no eruption.

"There was steaming through pre-existing holes, but there were no new holes. ... and there was no ash on the snow cover," he said.

But during the flyover, crew members smelled sulfur, so observatory staff will be monitoring activity and satellite images that identify temperature changes round the clock, Schneider said.

Observers will also look to weather radar scanners near the Kenai airport for help. Those scanners send data in six-minute intervals.

These scanners will be able to detect an ash plume should one appear, Schneider said.
Me? I'm sure hoping the volcano doesn't blow. This winter is cold enough already.

H/T Thomas

A Side Effect

The Dallas Morning News says Obama is going to have trouble to his south.

President Barack Obama's agenda is already packed to the brim with urgent domestic and international issues. Another item – Mexico – deserves a place high on his list, though it's rarely been apparent from Obama's campaign and post-election public statements that he shares our sense of concern.

Being from Chicago, and having spent the past few years in Washington, it's understandable why he might not have a Mexico-centric view of the world. That could change quickly.

A comprehensive immigration reform initiative looms. Aside from Mexico's status as America's third-largest trading partner and primary source of illegal immigrants, it is the main conduit for illicit drugs entering our country and the biggest customer of U.S. arms smugglers.

Last year, the rate of killings from Mexico's drug violence surpassed those in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The hideous nature of these deaths – beheadings, hangings and torture using acid – competes with the worst that al-Qaeda and the Taliban have inflicted. It is terrorism, and it is being fueled by thousands of U.S.-purchased weapons.
Except terror in Mexico is not fueled by gun smugglers. It is fueled by drug prohibition. The gun smuggling is just a side effect. You know, if you misdiagnose the cause you are going to have trouble curing the disease. Of course that may be exactly the intention of the new administration. To add a gun war to the drug war. Why cure the disease when it can be used as an excuse to bring in more "doctors"?

H/T Suzanne Wills from the Drug Policy Forum of Texas

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Cease Fire?

Evidently Hamas was not really interested in a long cease fire with Israel. Ten days and the war is back on.

The Israeli military says one soldier has been killed and three wounded in a bomb attack on the Gaza-Israel border.

The bombing Tuesday marks the first serious clash along the border since a cease-fire began on Jan. 18, ending a punishing three-week offensive by Israel against Hamas.

No militant group has claimed responsibility, but a Hamas leader expressed support for the attack.
Swell. Just swell. Evidently Hamas has not yet had enough war. Here are some more details:
An Israeli jet broke the sound barrier and set off a loud sonic boom over Gaza City not long afterward, possibly as a warning, but there were no further reports of Israeli retaliation. Since ending a punishing three-week offensive against Hamas on Jan. 17, Israel has said it will respond in force to any attack from Gaza.

Israeli troops crossed the border fence into Gaza to search the immediate area of the bombing, defense officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity under military guidelines.

Israel closed its crossings into Gaza to humanitarian aid traffic after briefly opening them Tuesday morning. Gaza border official Raed Fattouh said Israeli officials informed him the closure was due to the attack.
Naturally the Israelis are responding.
Eight Palestinians were reportedly wounded in the southern Gaza Strip Thursday when the IAF struck a vehicle in the town of Khan Yunis. Among the wounded were several children, according to Palestinian sources.

The strike targeted 25-year-old Mahmoud Hamdan Samiri, a Khan Yunis resident involved in the terrorist cell behind Tuesday's attack at the Kissufim crossing. In the attack, a roadside bomb killed one IDF soldier and wounded three others.

The air strike followed the firing of a Kassam rocket Thursday morning which fell in an open area near the town of Sderot. No one was wounded in the rocket attack and no damage was reported. It was the second rocket fired into Israel since the end of Operation Cast Lead eleven days ago.

The rocket attack came after an IAF jet struck a weapon manufacturing facility in the Rafah area late on Wednesday night, in response to another Kassam rocket fired from the Strip at Israel several hours earlier. The IDF identified an accurate hit. The rocket landed in an open area in the Eshkol region, causing no casualties or damage.
As far as I can see the purpose of these attacks is to keep the border crossings between Israel and Gaza closed and to see if Hamas can get some more of their human shields killed. Dead human shields make for great headlines. And of course it is an embarrassment for Obama who just sent George Mitchell to Israel to help foster peace.

Evidently Obama the peacemaker hasn't devoted enough effort to the Israel/Hamas conflict yet. This may just be the Hamas response to Obama's attempts to make peace between Hamas and Israel a priority. It was a fools errand to begin with. And Hamas is illustrating with action that they will do to Obama what Palestinians have done to every other President who made Israeli/Palestinian peace a priority. Make a fool of him. George Bush had a better idea. Let the parties involved come to their own resolution in their own way. You know, maybe that Bush guy understood the dynamics of the Hamas/Israel conflict better than the new guy.

What next? I think Iran will be further testing Obama. I think I made a point during the election that electing a guy who had zero military experience and was predisposed to a kumbayah approach to foreign policy was a bad idea. I guess we are stuck with that bad idea for another three years, eleven months, and three weeks.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

The Pentagon's LEDs

The Pentagon is switching to LEDs.

Cree, Inc. announced that more than 4,200 LR24 recessed LEDluminaires are planned for installation in Wedge 5 of the Pentagon as partof a major renovation currently underway. In a signing ceremony today at the Pentagon, John J. Kubricky, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Advanced Systems and Concepts, and Albert C. Ellet, acting director of the Washington Headquarters Service responsible for overseeing the renovation, signed an intra-departmental Memorandum of Agreement kicking-off the initiative to install LED lighting in the Pentagon.

The Cree LR24 luminaires have undergone extensive government testing and business-case analysis, including a preliminary Pentagon installation to meter the fixtures and compare the results to the alternative fluorescent technology. This independent analysis demonstrated a 22-percent reduction in energy usage and improved light quality.

The business-case analysis yielded a payback of less than four years. The payback analysis considered energy savings, lifetime maintenance savings, savings from reduced load on the HVAC system, and elimination of hazardous waste disposal fees for mercury-laden fluorescent bulbs.
Now that is a valuable study. What it says is that LEDs are viable if you have to pay people to change lamps and since the lamps are rated for 50,000 hours (over 5 1/2 years) in continuous use it is like getting the last year and a half free if break even is 4 years. Ultimately their value will be in being able to tune the colors as well as the brightness. Red, green, blue. In any mixture (the LR24 is only red and green). And there is only one way their price can go from here. Down. Making the business case even better.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Why Didn't You Stop Him?

Nikita Khrushchev gave a speech denouncing Stalin’s atrocities to an audience of the Soviet Communist Party, and someone in the audience shouted:

“You were right there next to Stalin. Why didn’t you stop him?”

Khrushchev immediately shouted back:

“Who said that??”

The place went deathly quiet. After several heartbeats, Khrushchev said quietly:

“Now you know why”

H/T Commenter John A at Watts Up With That

Excess Losses

ConocoPhillips lost $31 billion dollars in the 4th quarter of 2008. The crooks.

ConocoPhillips said Wednesday it lost $31.8 billion in the final three months of 2008 as the third-largest U.S. oil company recorded massive, previously disclosed one-time charges and encountered sharply lower crude prices.

Net income for the October-December period amounted to a loss of $21.37 per share, compared with a profit of $4.4 billion, or $2.71 per share, during the same period a year earlier. Revenue fell 18 percent to $44.5 billion from $52.7 billion a year ago.

Excluding one-time items, adjusted earnings for the fourth quarter were $1.9 billion, or $1.28 a share, versus $4.1 billion, or $2.55 a share, a year ago.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had been expecting earnings of $1.22 a share on revenue of $36.3 billion. Those forecasts typically exclude one-time items.

Houston-based ConocoPhillips was the first of the major oil companies to report fourth-quarter earnings. As expected, the results were by far the worst of 2008.

"Our financial performance for the quarter reflects the depressed economic conditions and business environment impacting not only our industry, but domestic and global markets as well," chairman and chief executive Jim Mulva said in a statement.

In addition to the one-time charges, ConocoPhillips was hit hard by oil's unprecedented plunge after peaking above $147 a barrel in July. When the fourth quarter began Oct. 1, crude was trading at around $100 a barrel. By year's end, the price was down to $44.60, a decline of nearly 60 percent.
I wonder if our totally wise government and our Smartest President Ever™ are going to step up to the plate and propose a bail out for the oil companies? After all if wealth re-distribution is the order of the day don't the oil companies deserve their share?

A New Kind Of Transistor

There is some very promising research that promises the development of a new kind of transistor.

A team of Duke University chemists has modified a method for growing long, straight, numerous and well-aligned carbon cylinders only a few atoms thick that paves the way for manufacturing reliable electronic nanocircuits.

The team had already described a method last April for growing the crystals, but the modification is targeted at making a process specifically for producing semiconducting versions of the single-walled carbon nanotubes, sometimes called "buckytubes" because their ends, when closed, take the form of soccer ball-shaped carbon-60 molecules known as buckminsterfullerines, or "buckyballs".

The effort is being led by Jie Liu, Duke's Jerry G. and Patricia Crawford Hubbard professor of chemistry.

"I think it's the holy grail for the field," Liu said. "Every piece is now there, including the control of location, orientation and electronic properties all together. We are positioned to make large numbers of electronic devices such as high-current field-effect transistors and sensors."

A report on their achievement, co-authored by Liu and a team of collaborators from his Duke laboratory and Peking University in China, has just been published in the research journal Nano Letters.
What does this portend? Well quite a few things actually. Carbon Nano Tubes (CNTs) are five times as conductive as copper, electron mobility is about 70 times that of silicon and it should be able to withstand much higher temperatures than silicon without losing its semiconducting properties. Not only that, the material is abundant. So once the manufacturing process is worked out it will mean high power, low loss, extremely high speed transistors.

How soon you ask? First off not all the bugs have been worked out in the laboratory models.
That earlier JACS report described how the researchers coaxed nanotubes to form in long, parallel paths that will not cross each other to impede potential electronic performance. Their method grows the nanotubes on a template made of a continuous and unbroken kind of single quartz crystal used in electronic applications. Copper is also used as a growth promoter.

But that method left one unresolved issue blocking the use of such nanotubes as electronic components. Only some of the resulting nanotubes acted electronically as semiconductors. Others were the electronic equivalent of metals. To work in transistors, the nanotubes must all be semiconducting, Liu said.

The researchers now say they have achieved virtually all-semiconductor growth conditions by making one modification.

In their earlier work they had used the alcohol ethanol in the feeder gas to provide carbon atoms as building blocks for the growing nanotubes. In the new work, they describe how they tried various ratios of two alcohols—ethanol and methanol—combined with two other gases they also used previously—argon and hydrogen.

"We found that by using the right combination of the two alcohols with the argon and hydrogen we could grow exclusively semiconducting nanotubes," Liu said. "It was like operating a tuning knob." The inert argon gas was used to provide a steady feed of the ethanol and methanol, with hydrogen to keep the copper catalyst from oxidizing.

After making the nanotubes by chemical vapor deposition in a small furnace set to a temperature of 900°C, the researchers assembled some of them into field-effect transistors to test their electronic properties.

"We have estimated from these measurements that the samples consisted of 95 to 98 percent semiconducting nanotubes," the researchers reported.
Now that is probably good enough for first generation transistors in some applications if those kind of numbers can be achieved in production. However what you want for general use is 99.9% or 99.99% semiconducting CNTs. The more nines the better. So how soon? I'd say pilot production in five years, and full scale production (10s of millions of devices) in about eight years. Fortunately it builds on the base of silicon semiconductor production so the equipment needed is likely to be very similar to what is already in use.

The best power conversion equipment we have using silicon has efficiencies topping out at around 95% with the more typical units running at 85% to 90% efficiency. With these new devices we could reach 99% or better. They could also mean 20 times faster computers that use 1/10th as much power as current devices. Considering that we already have chips on the market that deliver 25,000 MIPS for 360 milliwatts that would be something. It would be roughly equivalent to 1,000 Cray 1s in your pocket that could be powered from an AA cell for a month. Cell phones could run for weeks on a charge. Laptops that could run for many days. Faster please.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Death Of A Religion

It seems like the climate consensus is dying.

“Vice President Gore and the other promoters of man-made climate fears endless claims that the “debate is over” appear to be ignoring scientific reality,” Senator James Inhofe, Ranking Member of the Environment & Public Works Committee.

A U.S. Senate Minority Report released in December 2008 details over 650 international scientists who are dissenting from man-made global warming fears promoted by the UN and yourself. Many of the scientists profiled are former UN IPCC scientists and former believers in man-made climate change that have reversed their views in recent years. The report continues to grow almost daily. We have just received a request from an Italian scientist, and a Czech scientist to join the 650 dissenting scientists report. A chemist from the U.S. Naval Academy is about to be added, and more Japanese scientists are dissenting. Finally, many more meteorologists will be added and another former UN IPCC scientist is about to be included. These scientists are openly rebelling against the climate orthodoxy promoted by Gore and the UN IPCC.

The prestigious International Geological Congress, dubbed the geologists’ equivalent of the Olympic Games, was held in Norway in August 2008 and prominently featured the voices of scientists skeptical of man-made global warming fears. Reports from the conference found that Skeptical scientists overwhelmed the meeting, with ‘2/3 of presenters and question-askers hostile to, even dismissive of, the UN IPCC’ ( See full reports here & here ] In addition, a 2008 canvass of more than 51,000 Canadian scientists revealed 68% disagree that global warming science is “settled.” A November 25, 2008, article in Politico noted that a “growing accumulation” of science is challenging warming fears, and added that the “science behind global warming may still be too shaky to warrant cap-and-trade legislation.” More evidence that the global warming fear machine is breaking down. Russian scientists “rejected the very idea that carbon dioxide may be responsible for global warming”. An American Physical Society editor conceded that a “considerable presence” of scientific skeptics exists. An International team of scientists countered the UN IPCC, declaring: “Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate”. India Issued a report challenging global warming fears. International Scientists demanded the UN IPCC “be called to account and cease its deceptive practices.”
Deceptive practices in science? I'm shocked. Now I do admit that science is self correcting over time because doubt rules science. But from time to time so does the Madness of Crowds.

H/T Watts Up With That?

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Another Denier

The boss of Climate "the sky is falling" Alarmist James Hansen Dr. John Theon says Hansen is an embarrassment.

NASA warming scientist James Hansen, one of former Vice-President Al Gore’s closest allies in the promotion of man-made global warming fears, is being publicly rebuked by his former supervisor at NASA.

Retired senior NASA atmospheric scientist, Dr. John S. Theon, the former supervisor of James Hansen, NASA’s vocal man-made global warming fear soothsayer, has now publicly declared himself a skeptic and declared that Hansen “embarrassed NASA” with his alarming climate claims and said Hansen was “was never muzzled.” Theon joins the rapidly growing ranks of international scientists abandoning the promotion of man-made global warming fears.

“I appreciate the opportunity to add my name to those who disagree that global warming is man made,” Theon wrote to the Minority Office at the Environment and Public Works Committee on January 15, 2009. “I was, in effect, Hansen’s supervisor because I had to justify his funding, allocate his resources, and evaluate his results,” Theon, the former Chief of the Climate Processes Research Program at NASA Headquarters and former Chief of the Atmospheric Dynamics & Radiation Branch explained.

“Hansen was never muzzled even though he violated NASA’s official agency position on climate forecasting (i.e., we did not know enough to forecast climate change or mankind’s effect on it). Hansen thus embarrassed NASA by coming out with his claims of global warming in 1988 in his testimony before Congress,” Theon wrote.
But what about those super fantastic climate models that prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that that CO2 is going to doom the world?
Theon declared “climate models are useless.” “My own belief concerning anthropogenic climate change is that the models do not realistically simulate the climate system because there are many very important sub-grid scale processes that the models either replicate poorly or completely omit,” Theon explained. “Furthermore, some scientists have manipulated the observed data to justify their model results. In doing so, they neither explain what they have modified in the observations, nor explain how they did it. They have resisted making their work transparent so that it can be replicated independently by other scientists. This is clearly contrary to how science should be done. Thus there is no rational justification for using climate model forecasts to determine public policy,” he added.
Nice try Dr. Theon, but The ONE is pushing hard for a coal industry and electrical power destruction bill. However, he has plans to replace coal fired electrical plants with high cost solar cells. No doubt he has found the secret of dark energy. Only 3 years 11 months 3 weeks and one day to go.

Your Typical Palestinian Wants War

Eric of Classical Values posted a bit entitled Your typical Jew wants war? in which he discusses Obama's statement:

There are Israelis who recognize that it is important to achieve peace.
The best answer to that is something I read yesterday by Professor Barry Rubin. I'm posting it in its entirety because it explains the Palestinian politics behind the recent Israeli punitive expedition in Gaza.



By Barry Rubin

There was an election on Hamas's mind when it cancelled the ceasefire with Israel, leading to the Gaza war. But it wasn't the February Israeli election but rather the January Palestinian non-election.

Four years ago, Mahmoud Abbas was elected leader of the Palestinian Authority (PA) for a two-year term. Two years ago, Hamas won a majority in the Palestinian parliamentary election. Hamas then made a coalition agreement with its rival Fatah, which previously controlled the PA. Shortly thereafter, Hamas staged a bloody coup and threw Fatah out of the Gaza Strip. But Fatah, and Abbas, still controls the internationally recognized PA and the West Bank.

While Hamas and Israel went to war, Israel and the PA remained at peace. The war had nothing to do with Israel-Palestinian relations as such but as a response to Hamas's extremism, rejecting not only any comprehensive peace agreement with Israel but even a real truce. How, then, does this triangular relationship figure in Palestinian politics?

Analysts have generally ignored the proximity of Hamas's decision for war to its impending January 2009 showdown with Abbas, Fatah, and the PA. It was widely predicted that Abbas was going to announce that, given the impossibility of holding new elections, he would simply extend his term for another year.

The event was expected to mark a major widening of the rift between the two groups. Hamas, it was thought, would declare Abbas a usurper, name its own candidate for "president," and the establishment of two rival Palestinian governments would be complete.

Even before that date, the PA had apparently enjoyed some real success--with Israeli help--in reducing Hamas's organization on the West Bank, ensuring any takeover bid there would be impossible, and making progress toward restoring order and even improving the economy.

Hamas no doubt saw choosing war as a way of upstaging Abbas, showing that it was the real fighter for Palestinian rights (principally the right to wipe Israel off the map), and even attracting support from some Fatah men who concluded that Hamas was macho and their own organization was too meek. In effect, it was a reiteration of traditional Palestinian politics in which those who take the most extreme action, evidence the greatest intransigence, and kill the most Israelis prove their credentials for leadership.

In practice, though, Hamas played into Abbas's hands. Now he has the perfect rationale to insist that elections cannot be held--which is, of course quite true--and he must remain as leader for the indefinite future.

Despite this, the relationship between Hamas and Fatah remain quite complex. It seems bizarre that Hamas set off a civil war, murdered Fatah men in cold blood, and kicked the group out of Gaza yet still most of Fatah is ready to forgive it. There is a strong likelihood that if given the choice, Fatah leaders--though not necessarily Abbas himself--would prefer conciliation with Hamas, which would make any peace with Israel impossible--to making a diplomatic deal with Israel and getting a Palestinian state.

From Israel's standpoint, of course, how can it negotiate any comprehensive solution with the PA when it cannot deliver half of the territory, people, and armed men who are supposed to be bound by such an agreement? Moreover, the possibility that either Hamas will overthrow Fatah at some future point or even that the two will join together in a new war against Israel rather puts a damper on Israeli willingness to make concessions.

The paradox of a simultaneous blood feud and brotherly love relationship between the two Palestinian organizations is explained by the supposed sanctity of being fellow Arabs, Muslims, and Palestinians, coupled with a deep and abiding loathing of Israel.

Yet this also coexists with such deep Fatah anger at Hamas that interviewed Fatah cadre told reporters that they were glad Israel was trouncing Hamas in Gaza Strip. The solution of this paradox was for the official PA line to be: it's all Hamas's fault but there should be an immediate ceasefire and Israel is behaving in a beastly way.

This approach is strengthened by the fact that most Arab states and a surprising amount of the media (albeit in many cases the two are identical) are taking a similar line. Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the smaller Gulf states and more--pretty much all the leaders except for Syria--hate Hamas. They see it as an agent of Iran, meaning a friend of their Islamist opponents.

If Fatah were more adept politically, it could benefit from this situation. A clever and active policy would combine an energetic campaign to unite the Arab states behind the PA, while persuading the UN and West that they should ensure its restoration to power in the Gaza Strip as the "legitimate government." The Fatah underground in the Gaza Strip would be reinforced and figure out some way (even with a little secret coordination with Israel) to oust Hamas and seize power at least in sections of the territory.

Yet both the PA and Fatah lack the will power and political skill to take advantage of such a promising situation. They are sitting back and hoping that someone--though not Israel--will give them back the Gaza Strip on a silver platter. The problem also includes their lack of charismatic leadership and failure to deal seriously with the problems that led them to being kicked out by the election: corruption, incompetence, and the failure to articulate a moderate vision of achievable peace with Israel.

No outside power, including Israel, and no amount of money can make up for the shortcomings of the PA and Fatah. Thus, it is much easier for Hamas to lose the war than for the nationalist forces to win.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His books include:

Revolution Until Victory?: The Politics and History of the PLO,

Yasir Arafat: A Political Biography.

The Israel-Arab Reader: A Documentary History of the Middle East Conflict

The Tragedy of the Middle East

The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Big Shipping Decline

Trucking tonnage declined by a seasonally adjusted 11.1% in December. Which puts us back to the level of December 2000. Very serious to be sure. The end of the world? I doubt it. However we still may have further to fall.

As the Obama administration is fervently working on an economic stimulus package the get the U.S. economy on track, it is clear the freight transportation market is still feeling the pain, based on the most recent truck tonnage index release from the American Trucking Associations (ATA).

The ATA said its advanced seasonally-adjusted For Hire Truck Tonnage Index sank 11.1 percent in December, representing the largest month-to-month reduction since April 1994, when the unionized less-than-truckload industry was in a labor strike. The ATA added that December’s tally marks the third largest single monthly drop since the ATA began collecting tonnage data in 1973.

The ATA said the seasonally-adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index in December was 98.3 (2000=100), which represented its lowest level since December 2000. On a year-over-year basis, the index was down 14.1 percent, which is the biggest year-over-year decrease since February 1996. During the fourth quarter, tonnage was down 6.0 percent from the same quarter in 2007, according to ATA data.
How about a little explanation of what this means for the economy? Coming right up.
“Motor carrier freight is a reflection of the tangible-goods economy, and December’s numbers leave no doubt that the United States is in the worst recession in decades,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello in a statement. “It is likely truck tonnage will not improve much before the third quarter of this year. The economy is expected to contract through the first half of 2009 and then only grow slightly through the end of the year.”

Costello’s outlook is in line with what has been a difficult period for the freight transportation sector. Aside from the advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increasing 1.7 percent in November, which was the first month-to-month improvement since June 2008. But prior to that, the ATA said that the index contracted a 6.3 percent from June through October.

"With consumer demand falling, inventories are getting stretched out and new orders delayed, and that means lower shipping volumes, which ripples right through the trucking industry,” said a trucking industry executive whom declined to be identified. “Many shippers have begun looking seriously at carrier financial stability. They can't afford to lose even one customer to a service failure, so reliability is more important today than it has ever been."
Now if we could just get the government to stop fooling with the economy maybe things would have a chance to reach an equilibrium on their own. All the government is doing is adding uncertainty and dead weight to the economy. It seems that the geniuses in government don't understand that the purpose of recessions is to shed dead weight. Once enough dead weight is shed uncertainty declines and we are prepared for the next advance.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Azam Ali - Niyaz

More YouTube Azam Ali.

Azam Aliat Amazon.

The Azam Ali wiki.

H/T Dani

Cross Posted at Classical Values

At The Movies

Catherine Austin Fitts has a blog post that says we can learn a lot about how the real world works by going to the movies.

Michael Corleone: “My father is no different than any powerful man, any man with power, like a president or senator.”
Kay Adams: “Do you know how naive you sound, Michael? Presidents and senators don’t have men killed.”
Michael Corleone: “Oh. Who’s being naive, Kay?”
The Godfather, Part I

A true family is a group of people who invest in each other’s skills and future. Within such a family, no person is expendable.

Throughout history, financial wealth has been organized around families. Many of the powerful institutions in our society, in fact, represent intergenerational pools of capital -– for example, the Bechtel Corporation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Glenmede Trust Company

If we are to build a strong economy, it will be made up of strong families. Either families in the traditional sense, or families that we create. Many of us are members of families that, like the Corleone family in The Godfather series, have been torn apart by the manipulation of our ambition, greed, and naivete by powerful financial and business interests. Husbands and wives are turned against one another. Children and parents disappoint each other and grow apart. Sibling rivalry threatens family interests.

Most of us assume that The Godfather films — Part I, Part II, Part III — are movies about an organized crime family. The reality is that we all live inside The Godfather’s world. The Godfather series has much to teach us about navigating in our current environment.
Read the whole thing. Especially check out the comments.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Banks Still Getting Illegal Cash

It looks like illegal cash may be the only thing keeping some banks afloat.

The United Nations' crime and drug watchdog has indications that money made in illicit drug trade has been used to keep banks afloat in the global financial crisis, its head was quoted as saying on Sunday.

Vienna-based UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said in an interview released by Austrian weekly Profil that drug money often became the only available capital when the crisis spiralled out of control last year.

"In many instances, drug money is currently the only liquid investment capital," Costa was quoted as saying by Profil. "In the second half of 2008, liquidity was the banking system's main problem and hence liquid capital became an important factor."

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime had found evidence that "interbank loans were funded by money that originated from drug trade and other illegal activities," Costa was quoted as saying. There were "signs that some banks were rescued in that way."
Of course if drugs were legal that cash flow would stop. Which is a very good reason for bankers to be against legalization. After all the drug money allows them to live in a better neighborhood. And there is no war going on in such neighborhoods. A win-win. Except for the poor suckers stuck in the war zone. You know. THOSE people.

If you want to read deeper into the subject may I suggest:

Narco Dollars 1
Narco Dollars 2
Narco Dollars 3

By Catherine Austin Fitts, Assistant Secretary of the Federal Housing Commission under Bush 1, and a former managing director and member of the board of directors of Dillon Read & Co, Inc. She says that it will help your understanding to read the novel Black Money by Michael Thomas.You can also visit her blog Catherine Austin Fitts blog for the latest in financial news. You can also read Narco Dollars in a black on white format at Narco Dollars.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Hussein Chooses The Arabs

In an effort to appear even handed in his dealings with the world Barack Hussein Obama has chosen Al-Arabiya for his first interview.

President Barack Obama on Tuesday chose an Arabic satellite TV network for his first formal television interview as president, delivering a message to the Muslim world that "Americans are not your enemy."

The interview underscored Obama's commitment to repair relations with the Muslim world that have suffered under the previous administration.

The president expressed an intention to engage the Middle East immediately and his new envoy to the region, former Sen. George J. Mitchell, was expected to arrived in Egypt on Tuesday for a visit that will also take him to Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

"My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy," Obama told the Saudi-owned, Dubai-based Al-Arabiya news channel.

Obama said the U.S. had made mistakes in the past but "that the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago, there's no reason why we can't restore that."
I think it is always good to know who owns your president. Bought and paid for by the Muslim world. So that brings us to the second question. Iran or Saudi Arabia?
Al-Arabiya has scored interviews with top U.S. officials in the past, including Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The Saudi-owned channel is seen by some in Washington as more balanced in its coverage than its Qatar-funded rival Al-Jazeera, which the previous White House administration complained had an anti-American bias.

Obama called for a new partnership with the Muslim world "based on mutual respect and mutual interest." He talked about growing up in Indonesia, the Muslim world's most populous nation, and noted that he has Muslim relatives.
It looks like Saudi Arabia today. But with Hussein you never know. Every promise Hussein makes comes with an expiration date. He is pretty much the definition of a dishonest politician. He doesn't stay bought.

Well no matter. However, you would think as a symbolic gesture Obama could have at least pretended to be an American for his first TV interview. It is going to be a very long three years and three hundred and fifty-eight days.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Monday, January 26, 2009

Obama Trying To Sink Auto Industry

Making things is magic and changing the way things are made doesn't cost much. At least according to Mr. Obama who wants states to be in the Federal regulation business when it comes to automobiles.

President Obama will direct federal regulators on Monday to move swiftly on an application by California and 13 other states to set strict automobile emission and fuel efficiency standards, two administration officials said Sunday.

The directive makes good on an Obama campaign pledge and signifies a sharp reversal of Bush administration policy. Granting California and the other states the right to regulate tailpipe emissions would be one of the most emphatic actions Mr. Obama could take to quickly put his stamp on environmental policy.

Mr. Obama’s presidential memorandum will order the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider the Bush administration’s past rejection of the California application. While it stops short of flatly ordering the Bush decision reversed, the agency’s regulators are now widely expected to do so after completing a formal review process.

Once they act, automobile manufacturers will quickly have to retool to begin producing and selling cars and trucks that get higher mileage than the national standard, and on a faster phase-in schedule. The auto companies have lobbied hard against the regulations and challenged them in court.
The auto companies are already reeling from the bad economy and now they will be forced to re-tool their whole business. Quickly. And why does he think American auto companies are in trouble? Not enough cars of tomorrow. Seriously. It is not the unions. It is not the management. It is not quality problems. It is a lack of futuristic thinking.
The first memorandum ordered the Transportation Department to work out rules for automakers to improve fuel economy. It calls for the department to notify automakers by March 2009 to increase their fuel efficiency for 2011 model year cars and trucks.
The design cycle for a modified production vehicle is three to four years depending on the extent of the modifications. These would be vehicles that could be built on current production lines with existing tooling and includes a shakedown period to test the new designs and get the bugs out. Now consider that the 2011 model year goes on sale in late 2010. So by government fiat he is going to get a 3 to 4 year process compressed into 18 months. The man is a miracle worker. Ah. But that is not the worst of it. If the mandates require a major redesign it can take about 5 to 6 years to get the logistics in place. Here are the general steps:

New design
Place Orders
Design new factories
Build Factory Eqpt
Negotiate work rules with unions (Detroit)
Train workers
Run Pre-Production Prototypes
Debug factories
Modify factories

And he can reduce a process that takes from 3 to 6 years into 18 months by fiat? The man is a genius. Let us consider WW2 production. The rule was that in the first year (if the design was ready to go) 1 to 10 units. In the second year hundreds. In the third year - as many as you want. And that was in a simpler time when government hadn't saddled industry with a morass of regulations. Mr Obama is simply ignorant of logistics. He is operating under the rubric of "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." And of course since Mr. Obama is not a maker he has gone one step further and assumed that making things is magic and the normal rules of the universe do not apply. Time, space, energy, and the necessity to create the requsite ideas are instantly erased. You just think of what you want, wave the magic wand and presto. A million copies of your fantastic idea magically appear.
Obama said the fix will help the auto industry produce a viable product.

"We must help them thrive by building the cars of tomorrow," he said in an announcement before a live audience in the East Room of the White House.

Obama said that Washington must help states on tougher fuel standards, not work against them, and yet year after year, special interests have overshadowed common sense and rhetoric has supplanted the hard work needed to yield results.

"America will not be held hostage to dwindling resources," he said. "The days of Washington dragging its heels are over. My administration will not deny facts. We will be guided by them. ... We cannot afford to pass the buck."

The second memorandum ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider California's request for a waiver from the Clean Air Act -- a move that would allow California, the nation's most populous state, to set tougher tailpipe emission standards than apply nationally.

"Each step begins to move us in a new direction while giving us the tools that we need to change," Obama said.
Is he really serious about not being held hostage to dwindling resources? So where is his proposal for increasing American oil production? Not in evidence. And letting states determine what can be sold in their individual markets? That means the rules of the game will be changing frequently. Which is very bad for logistics planning. Every new rule or addition delays the production process. Mr. Obama needs to read a book. I suggest this one to start: Fundamentals of Production Planning and Control.

This whole deal can only end badly. Very badly. What ever happened to the administration that was supposed to be guided by science? By understanding of the fundamentals of engineering and technology? I guess we are fortunate that we have not elected a manager. We have instead elected a magician. God help us. Because it is obvious Mr. Obama will not.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Cosmic Rays Measure Stratosphere

Muonsare measuring the heating up of the stratosphere.

Published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters and led by scientists from the UK’s National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), this remarkable study shows how the number of high-energy cosmic-rays reaching a detector deep underground, closely matches temperature measurements in the upper atmosphere (known as the stratosphere). For the first time, scientists have shown how this relationship can be used to identify weather events that occur very suddenly in the stratosphere during the Northern Hemisphere winter. These events can have a significant effect on the severity of winters we experience, and also on the amount of ozone over the poles - being able to identify them and understand their frequency is crucial for informing our current climate and weather-forecasting models to improve predictions.

Working in collaboration with a major U.S.-led particle physics experiment called MINOS (managed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory), the scientists analysed a four-year record of cosmic-ray data detected in a disused iron-mine in the U.S. state of Minnesota. What they observed was a strikingly close relationship between the cosmic-rays and stratospheric temperature - this they could understand: the cosmic-rays, known as muons are produced following the decay of other cosmic rays, known as mesons. Increasing the temperature of the atmosphere expands the atmosphere so that fewer mesons are destroyed on impact with air, leaving more to decay naturally to muons. Consequently, if temperature increases so does the number of muons detected.

What did surprise the scientists, however, were the intermittent and sudden increases observed in the levels of muons during the winter months. These jumps in the data occurred over just a few days. On investigation, they found these changes coincided with very sudden increases in the temperature of the stratosphere (by up to 40 oC in places!). Looking more closely at supporting meteorological data, they realised they were observing a major weather event, known as a Sudden Stratospheric Warming. On average, these occur every other year and are notoriously unpredictable. This study has shown, for the first time, that cosmic-ray data can be used effectively to identify these events.
Of course if you can measure the events in real time you have a better chance of finding out what causes them. And that means we might learn some things about climate that are not yet in the climate models. Which because they include all the known data can predict what the climate will be like in a century. Except for the fact that there are a lot of known unknowns that the models leave out. Like the effect of Ultraviolet Radiationon the atmosphere. And then there are the unknown unknowns. Oh well. I think I can confidently predict what will be found. Man made CO2 is definitely causing global warming because that is the consensus.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Crackdown Crackup

The crackdown on drug gangs in Mexico is leading to a crackup.

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — In this carnage-racked border city of 1.3 million, more than 80 murders have been clocked in the past three weeks, and kidnappings, extortions, robberies and rapes further bedevil an already rattled population.

So far, the new year looks to be bringing as much if not more havoc than the last. The demons are loose.

“Walking in the streets of Juárez is an extreme sport,” said political scientist Tony Payan, an expert on border violence, repeating a grim quip making the rounds.

Though little more than 1 percent of Mexico's 105 million population lives in Juárez, it accounted for a third of the country's nearly 5,400 gangland murders last year, according to the federal government. And with President Felipe Calderón's war on the country's powerful drug syndicates unlikely to abate, this city bordering El Paso looks to remain a prime battleground.

Some U.S. security experts warn that Mexico teeters on meltdown — of being a “failed state.” Irritated Mexican leaders shrug off the notion, but Juárez's criminal chaos wails like a siren before an approaching storm.
That is pretty bad and predicted to get worse. In the mean time Guatemala has a better idea.
Guatemala is so overrun by drug traffickers that in 2005 its top anti-drug minister was arrested in the U.S. for smuggling cocaine. U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency officials describe the country as "the biggest conduit of Colombian cocaine to Mexico," where only 2% of murders are prosecuted.

"Guatemala is the closest thing we have to a failed state in Central America," says Kevin Casas-Zamora, former vice president of Costa Rica and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Yet somehow a complete surrender to the narcotics trade has left Guatemala better off than its neighbors. Wanton political and judicial corruption have, if anything, greased the wheels of business interests and kept violent crime rates below that for its regional neighbors.
So let me see if I have this straight. Let the drug gangs control the drug trade without interference and violence goes down. Interfere with their business and violence goes up. In other words de facto legalization works. I wonder what de jure legalization would look like? Maybe we could get the violence down without corruption. Then you have to ask yourself what would politicians do for a living? Simple. There is always infrastructure. Say isn't that new guy from Chicago big on infrastructure? Hmmmm. I think he has a plan.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I Lost My Home To Global Warming

It appears that Global Warming is already causing people to lose their homes in China.

The hydroelectric dam, a low wall of concrete slicing across an old farming valley, is supposed to help a power company in distant Germany contribute to saving the climate — while putting lucrative "carbon credits" into the pockets of Chinese developers.

But in the end the new Xiaoxi dam may do nothing to lower global-warming emissions as advertised. And many of the 7,500 people displaced by the project still seethe over losing their homes and farmland.

"Nobody asked if we wanted to move," said a 38-year-old man whose family lost a small brick house. "The government just posted a notice that said, 'Your home will be demolished.'"

The dam will shortchange German consumers, Chinese villagers and the climate itself, if critics are right. And Xiaoxi is not alone.

Similar stories are repeated across China and elsewhere around the world, as hundreds of hydro projects line up for carbon credits, at a potential cost of billions to Europeans, Japanese and soon perhaps Americans, in a trading system a new U.S. government review concludes has "uncertain effects" on greenhouse-gas emissions.

One American expert is more blunt.

"The CDM" — the 4-year-old, U.N.-managed Clean Development Mechanism — "is an excessive subsidy that represents a massive waste of developed world resources," says Stanford University's Michael Wara.
So you have to ask yourself - what does Al Gore have against the people of China? I suppose it is nothing personal. Just business.
Forced relocations have become common in China as people in hundreds of communities are moved to clear land for factories and other projects, provoking anger and occasionally violent protests. But what happened here is unusual in highlighting not just the human costs, but also the awkward fit between China's authoritarian system, in which complaints of official abuse abound, and Western environmental ideals.

Those ideals produced the Clean Development Mechanism as a market-based tool under the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 agreement to combat climate change. The CDM allows industrial nations, required by Kyoto to reduce emissions of gases blamed for global warming, to comply by paying developing nations to cut their emissions instead.

Companies thousands of miles away, such as Germany's coal-burning, carbon dioxide-spewing RWE electric utility, accomplish this by buying carbon credits the U.N. issues to clean-energy projects like Xiaoxi's. The proceeds are meant to make such projects more financially feasible.

As critics point out, however, if those projects were going to be built anyway, the climate doesn't gain, but loses.

Such projects "may allow covered entities" — such as RWE — "to increase their emissions without a corresponding reduction in a developing country," the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in its December review.
Wait a minute. Are you telling me that carbon credit trading may just be a wallet extraction scheme? I wonder if destroying people's houses will lower their CO2 emissions? There could be profit in that. And if the people were just killed outright that is another area with great profit potential. I wonder how many tons of carbon offset a person should be worth? It seems like getting rid of them when they are young should be worth a lot more than just getting rid of old folks.

Of course we could preemptively solve the problem by requiring parents to buy a lifetime of carbon credits before they are allowed to have children. That would put an end to global warming for sure.

A Marijuana Culture

About 36 minutes into the video is a report on Garberville, California. I used to live in a small town near there called Briceland. This was in the late 60s well before Garberville became known as a center for marijuana growing. My favorite recollection is a party at some people's house (near Whitethorn as I recollect) where there was an electric violinist. I had a lot of fun jamming with him. I played a Marine Band harmonica. The interplay of the sounds of the violin and harmonica harmonics was just amazing. I'm surprised that no band features that combination of instruments.

BTW near the end of the video a DEA agent says that given the increases from year to year and over the decades of marijuana cultivation that they are losing the war on pot. There are more gardens than they can deal with. Supply and demand. Works every time. In fact things have gotten so bad that we are importing Mexican gangsters to make up for the shortage of American gangsters. Supply and demand. Works every time. Evidently the Mexicans are willing to do work that Americans are not interested in. You know, there was a time (Alcohol Prohibition) when we didn't have to import gangsters. You have to wonder what has gone wrong with the American work ethic.

Cross Posted at Classical Values