Thursday, April 30, 2009

LANL Helps Polywell

Los Alamos National Laboratory gave the Polywell Fusion Experimenters some critical help when they needed it.

It all started out with this program.

Northern New Mexico businesses are getting financial help from Los Alamos National Laboratory, and there are plenty of ways LANL can help boost local economies, according to LANL Director Michael Anastasio.

"There are plenty of challenges the country faces, and the lab has a lot to offer in that regard," Anastasio told guests at a recent breakfast meeting where lab personnel and prominent northern New Mexicans, including Santa Fe Mayor David Coss, met to discuss LANL's role in economic development around the region.
And the help the Polywell folks got was not a grant. It was a loan of some equipment.
Richard Nebel's Santa Fe company EMC (which stands for Energy/Matter Conversion Corp.) has much grander designs. Like saving the world.

"If this works, we can end dependence on oil, end global warming," Nebel said of a radiation-free nuclear fusion technology he's developing called "polywell," which "is clean, inexpensive and has enormous potential."

Nebel emphasizes polywell is "risky, because the physics may not work. It could be great or it could be a bust."

When EMC hit technological roadblocks, it got an assist from Northern New Mexico Connect's New Mexico Small Business Assistance Program. The whole experiment, Nebel said, had cost EMC about $200,000 when the company realized it needed the assistance of highspeed cameras -- which run more than $200,000 apiece. The program enabled EMC to use LANL's cameras.

"The stuff we do operates at hundredths of a second," Nebel said. "The cameras were critical."

"Northern New Mexico has tremendous resources of people," he said. "We're a hightech company, and I can find experts around here to help with anything."
I'm glad to get some more of the details of the Polywell Fusion Experiments.

As you can see the experimenters are starved for funds. So far the US Navy and the DoD are very interested in the experiments but the funding has been sparse. Upping it from its current rate to about $40 million a year would get us answers (like can it work) a lot faster. Now does this mean that the efficiency per dollar put into the work will decline? Of course. However, sometimes it is worth trading money for speed. I think this is one of them. If it can work it will change everything in America and the world. You can find out more by reading:

Bussard's IEC Fusion Technology (Polywell Fusion) Explained

50 Years of Stories: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

and if you want to read about Los Alamos:

Secret Mesa: Inside Los Alamos National Laboratory

Why hasn't Polywell Fusion been fully funded by the Obama administration?

H/T an e-mail from reader LCO

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Thanks to Instapundit for the correction. LANL is Los Alamos National Laboratories. Corrected above.

Bad Medicine

Forbes Magazine says that about 1/3 of youthful pot smokers use marijuana to replace "legitimate" medicines because of side effects from the legal medicines or because pot is more effective.

Some teens are smoking marijuana not just for recreation but to self-medicate emotional problems, sleep difficulties and pain, a new study shows.

Researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 63 adolescents who smoked marijuana regularly. About a third of the teens said they used the drug as a medication rather than as a means of getting high.

The findings appear in the April 22 issue of Substance Abuse, Treatment, Prevention and Policy.

The most common complaints were emotional problems, including depression, anxiety and stress, sleep difficulties, and problems with concentration and pain.

"Youth who reported they had been prescribed drugs such as Ritalin, Prozac or sleeping pills stopped using them because they did not like how these drugs made them feel or found them ineffective," the authors said in a news release from the journal publisher. "For these kids, the purpose of smoking marijuana was not specifically about getting high or stoned."

The teens' experiences with the medical system were uniformly negative, according to the study.
The practice of medicine (take a pill) is essentially the dispensing of poisons that are hopefully selective and are not needed for long term control of a medical problem. Now we find a medicine that has no known lethal dose and whose side effects are mild (who ate the Dorritos?) and which can be sold for less than a tenth of a cent a dose. What are the companies who sell the poisons to do? They can become corporate sponsors of the Drug Free America Campaign. Abbot Labs is in for a over a half million. As are the Pharmaceutical Research &Manufacturers of America. There are many other such sponsors. And what do the drug company sponsors have in common? They have only your best interests at heart. Just ask their accountants.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Funny Season

The swine flu appears to be turning into a major epidemic.

Virulent swine flu spread to 10 U.S. states from coast to coast Wednesday and swept deeper into Europe, extending its global reach as President Barack Obama mourned the first U.S. death, a Mexican toddler who had traveled with his family to Texas. Total American cases surged to nearly 100, and Obama said wider school closings might be necessary.

The World Health Organization said the outbreak is moving closer to becoming a full-scale pandemic.

Dr. Keiji Fukuda, the organization's top flu expert, told reporters in Geneva that the latest developments are moving the agency closer to raising its pandemic alert to phase 5, indicating widespread human-to-human transmission. That's just one step below level 6, a full-fledged pandemic.
That is worrying. Another thing that is worrying is the fact that this outbreak has taken place so late in the flu season.
Flu season starts to peak in November and continues to peak through April.
Obviously the flu is mainly a cold weather phenomenon. Now I was under the impression that Global Warming was going to cause wide spread disease. It appears that global cooling can have the same effect.

In any case the late start of this flu should help as the weather warms up. Maybe. We can only hope it doesn't turn out like the Pandemic Flu in America 1918-1920.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It Is All About Being Green

It looks like GE is going to make a fortune when energy restrictions hit America. And they are working very hard with their government (they paid for it) to get what they want.

One last point, MSNBC is owned by General Electric. GE is already making money off the issue with their Carbon Credit Master Card (link from “Treehugger”, no less).

Here’s CNN’s story on the new credit card. Interesting note: In the fourth quarter of 2008 as GE/NBC stock fell 30 percent, GE spent $4.26 million on lobbying — that’s $46,304 each day, including weekends, Thanksgiving and Christmas. In 2008, the company spent a grand total of $18.66 million on lobbying.” Reviewing their lobbying filings, GE’s specific lobbying issues included the “Climate Stewardship Act,” “Electric Utility Cap and Trade Act,” “Global Warming Reduction Act,” “Federal Government Greenhouse Gas Registry Act,” “Low Carbon Economy Act,” and “Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act.” Do you think this “big business” is just concerned about the environment?

Well, check out this column from the Politico, which says: “Several of the companies would gain a commercial advantage after a cap and trade was established. General Electric has an “ecoimagination” line of green appliances and equipment. Robert Stavins, a professor of business and government at Harvard University, said a cap and trade program would be fantastic for GE and other companies that sell products that consume power. He said that if energy costs go up as a result of the regulation — something he believes is likely — a wide array of products from appliances to power plants would become prematurely obsolete and need to be replaced with greener models.” That would mean big money for GE (parent company of NBC and MSNBC). Take a moment and read my previous post on polar ice…check out the graphs and charts…they speak for themselves.
I especially like the misnamed "Climate Security Act". It should be the GE Security Act.

But you know. It was never about the trees. It was always about the Benjamins. There is green and then there is $Green. If you would like to contact your Congress Critter about this may I suggest:

House of Representatives
The Senate
The President

It never hurts to let them know you are keeping an eye on them. And while you are at it - it might not hurt to keep an eye on the enviros. This will help: Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Ruin Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Clean Sun

Yes. Space Weather Dot Com says the sun is still very clean. That is to say spotless. The spotlessness of the sun has become so interesting to the general public that they have added some new numbers about spotless days to their daily sunspot number. Which is zero today. The added information looks like this today:

Current Stretch: 6 days
2009 total: 103 days (88%)
Since 2004: 614 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days

So what to expect next? No one knows for sure since, like climate, the exact nature of what is going on in the sun is not fully understood. And even if we thought we understood it, new information could turn up that would invalidate our current understanding. Because - unlike colonies - science is never settled.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

New Deal Or Raw Deal?

I was noodling around the net looking for a good book on FDR and the Depression Economy and came across New Deal or Raw Deal?: How FDR's Economic Legacy Has Damaged America. Philosophically I agree with that. So let's see what some reviewers think.

...many of FDR's programs were struck down as unconstitutional. These include the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) and the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA). The NIRA imposed economy-wide price controls and production regulations on domestic manufacturing. The AAA was similar in spirit, except it focused on price and production controls on agriculture. The extent of the controls evidently became so detailed where, for example, the purchasers of a live chicken were required by law to blindly reach into the coop to randomly choose a chicken. Customers were not free to choose whichever chicken they fancied. Recognizing the absurdity of this, one of the Supreme Court justices quipped "what if the chickens are all on the other side?" before the Supreme Court unanimously ruled the NIRA unconstitutional.

Folsom also emphasizes the crushing tax burdens imposed by the New Deal. Under FDR, the highest income tax rate was 79%, meaning that four out of five earned dollars was confiscated by the government! According to Folsom, FDR also seriously entertained the idea of imposing a 99.5% income tax rate on all who earned over $100,000 in income. Flippantly justifying this, FDR joked that nobody in his administration would ever make that kind of money. Under FDR, the national debt grew more in the 1930s than it grew in the previous 150 years of the existence of the United States. Putting it in other words, Folsom indicates that if $100/minute was deposited into an account the day Columbus discovered North America up until FDR took office, there would not be enough money in this account to fully defray the costs of the New Deal.

The last major point that I will reiterate is the extensive level of corruption of the FDR administration. According to Folsom's research, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) offered large government handouts to whichever lobbyists ingratiated themselves most with the administration. FDR used the WPA to make or break the careers of public officials, depending on whether they supported him. This corruption rose to such an overt and perverse level that officials at the WPA used to cheerfully greet callers with "Democratic headquarters!"
I'm starting to see some parallels here between FDR and that new guy. What's his name?

Another reviewer had this to say:
I'll confess to not being a fan of big government so I was prepared to be receptive to a harsh assessment of the New Deal. However, I was not prepared for the scathing indictment armed with facts, logic, primary source quotes and data that constitute this powerful book.

The book is hard to put down even as you recoil in horror at the lunatic economic policies of the era and the blatant turn to fascism. If you tried to design a program to extend the Great Depression indefinitely, you could have done little better than FDR did. The economic incompetence and unintended consequences which are detailed in all their frightening glory is mind boggling, but it is only part of the story.

The book also demonstrates the endemic political patronage and vote buying that resulted from the concentration of money and power in the hands of the federal government. State and local politicians who supported Roosevelt were rewarded with a cascade of federal dollars, those who opposed him were frozen out and inevitably lost subsequent elections.

Citizens who opposed FDR were set upon by the IRS or the NRA. The use of government power to persecute and intimidate dissension is chilling. There are several quotes or diary entries from even Roosevelt's supporters and cabinet members that point out both the insanity of the policies and the dangers of FDR's abuse of power.

With our government setting out on what's been called the "New New Deal", this book should be required reading for every citizen so they can understand both the failure of the New Deal as an economic cure and the abuse of power and vote buying that the huge transfer of money and independence from the private sector to the public sector caused and will undoubtedly cause again.
Those reviewers both gave the book five stars.

Here is an interesting three star review.
As a staunch supporter of FDR and his New Deal policy I found this book difficult to read, not because it was intellectually challenging but because it was 300 pages attacking FDR and the New Deal. Despite this I must applaud Mr. Folsom's argument. Not through his own ideological beliefs does Folsom attempt to prove the New Deal actually made the Depression worse, but his use of quantitative research gives merit to his theory.

As I have already stated, Folsom argues that FDR's New Deal policy actually worsened and lengthened the Great Depression of the 1930s. To prove this, Folsom evaluates the impact each major New Deal legislation had on the economy. In short, Folsom concludes that since unemployment stayed approximately the same throughout the '30s and into the '40s the New Deal was a failure. No piece of the New Deal is safe. Folsom attacks Social Security, minimum wage, the FDIC, the WPA, the AAA, and he even argues the 1936 election was a fraud.

Although I understand Folsom's argument, he does not convince me that the entirety of the New Deal was a sham. With the help of hindsight I feel that any past president's policy can be evaluated in a harsh manner, especially FDR. Of course we evaluate the New Deal now and criticize it, but I truly believe FDR's intentions were good with each New Deal reform signed into law.
Ah. Yes. Good intentions are enough. Results don't matter. Did he say he was a staunch supporter of FDR? Yes he did.

Well it looks like a very good read. And when the new guy's policies work no better than FDR's the book will provide good ammunition for the "I told you so" crowd. I hope to be a member in good standing. Of course there is always the possibility that this time it will be different and I will have to eat a couple of plates of crow. I think history and the odds are on my side.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Air Con: The Seriously Inconvenient Truth About Global Warming

I just got an alert from commenter Neville at Watts Up With That about a book that is going great guns in New Zealand called Air Con: The Seriously Inconvenient Truth About Global Warming. I haven't read it. But here is what Neville has to say:

...a new book debunking global warming was released in NZ, “Air Con: The Seriously Inconvenient Truth About Global Warming”, by an investigative journalist over here named Ian Wishart.

My copy arrived by courier Thursday morning, and a friend at Parliament tells me the Government received a number of copies as well.

Salinger is quoted in the book, quite usefully confirming the impact of the Little Ice Age on New Zealand’s glaciation (the same LIA that Mann and others tried to argue didn’t affect the southern hemisphere).

The number one talk radio network yesterday was starting to buzz about the book, and a reviewer for one of the major book chains was on the radio saying it’ll be a number one bestseller - apparently books have been flying off the shelves.
I look forward to reading reviews (or the book for that matter - when I can afford it) in the coming days.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Obama May Have Swine Flu

During Mr. Obama's recent trip to Mexico he was greeted by a man who may have subsequently died from the Swine Flu epidemic that is sweeping across Mexico.

At least 20 deaths in Mexico from the disease are confirmed, Health Minister Jose Cordova said yesterday. The strain is a variant of H1N1 swine influenza that has also sickened at least eight people in California and Texas. As many as 68 deaths may be attributed to the virus in Mexico, and about 1,000 people in the Mexico City area are showing symptoms of the illness, Cordoba said.

The first case was seen in Mexico on April 13. The outbreak coincided with the President Barack Obama’s trip to Mexico City on April 16. Obama was received at Mexico’s anthropology museum in Mexico City by Felipe Solis, a distinguished archeologist who died the following day from symptoms similar to flu, Reforma newspaper reported. The newspaper didn’t confirm if Solis had swine flu or not.

The Mexican government is distributing breathing masks to curtail the disease’s spread. There is no vaccine against the new strain of swine flu, health authorities said.
I hope Mr. Obama comes through this with minimal or no difficulties. I want to see him impeached. Besides. There is Joe Biden to think about.

Update: Here is an interesting read on the last swine flu debacle. The Swine Flu Affair: Decision-making on a Slippery Disease

Cross Posted at Classical Values

The Green Economy

For those of you who believe in a green economy (why are you here?) I have some very political news. It's the money, stupid.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Paper companies in Minnesota and across the nation have figured out how to make billions off of an alternative energy tax credit that Congress devised two years ago. Their answer: burn diesel.

This rather paradoxical twist has already ignited a debate between the paper industry and environmental groups and lawmakers on both sides of the argument in what some industry watchers and analysts are claiming is a presage of fights to come as Congress tries to detail new climate and energy legislation this session.
Well they never used to burn diesel. It wasn't economical when they could burn the waste from the paper making process. But our government (in its infinite wisdom) has made burning diesel by the paper makers profitable. So profitable that they may make more from burning the diesel than from making paper.
The tax credit in question originated from a 2005 highway law and was intended as an incentive to mix alternative energy sources, such as ethanol, with fossil fuels. In 2007, the credit was expanded to include non-transportation fuels.

Some papermakers who generate electricity by burning a wood byproduct called "black liquor" saw an opportunity to capitalize. But to qualify for the credit, which only applies to mixed fuels, paper companies have had to start adding in small amounts of diesel, Mason said.

By doing this, Mason estimates that the windfall for 30 paper-producing companies in the United States may reach about $6.6 billion and could rise as high was $10 billion.

About 100 U.S. mills are eligible to take advantage of the tax credit. Some paper companies could even raise more money this year through the tax credit than they do in revenue, according to Mason.

"This is a government program that has run amok," said Verle Sutton, who operates the Reel Time Report, owned by California-based Forestweb Inc., and has analyzed data for the paper industry for the past 10 years.

But those in the industry, which has plummeted recently amid a bad economy and a decreased demand for paper products as readers and advertisers increasingly turn online, defend the tax credit as a much-needed and appropriate recognition of their renewable energy process.
Is any one getting the idea that subsidizing alternative energy so we can pay higher prices for energy or keep alive dying industries is a scam? This scheme can only lead to excess paper production in a down economy and thus a decline in the price of the end product. You can see it coming. Next Congress in an effort to "fix" the problem it created will put quotas on paper producers. To save the trees. Thus Congress will decide how much paper the US economy actually needs. Which will lead to underproduction in times of high demand and overproduction in times of low demand. Your government at "work".

The only Green thing about this whole scam is the money. Which evidently now grows on trees. If the trees are fed into a paper mill with a little diesel. One good thing I can see coming from this is that it may lower the price of tea bags. Which are partially made of paper. You might want to send a used tea bag or two to:

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

let them know what you think of this scheme. And don't forget to remind them to compost the tea bags. After removing the staples. It is the Green thing to do. Besides I think eau de Compost is an appropriate smell for the White Hose these days.

If you just want to e-mail the President (send electrons, save the trees) or his confederates in Congress here are a few hints:

House of Representatives
The Senate
The President

Stop the madness. Save a tree.

Save The Earth

I'm a little late to Earth Day but I just had a great idea to help save the planet. I'm going to form a new organization dedicated to the spiritual and physical healing of the Earth:

Straight People For Gaia Liberation Front and National Religion - Donations Welcome

Friday, April 24, 2009

If We Kill Off The Old And Infirm....

Mr. Obama has a plan for cutting medical costs in America. You will be graded on your worth. And if you are not worth enough...

Why do you think the stimulus package pours $1.1 billion into medical "comparative effectiveness research"? It is the perfect setup for rationing. Once you establish what is "best practice" for expensive operations, medical tests and aggressive therapies, you've laid the premise for funding some and denying others.

It is estimated that a third to a half of one's lifetime health costs are consumed in the last six months of life. Accordingly, Britain's National Health Service can deny treatments it deems not cost-effective -- and if you're old and infirm, the cost-effectiveness of treating you plummets. In Canada, they ration by queuing. You can wait forever for so-called elective procedures like hip replacements.

Rationing is not quite as alien to America as we think. We already ration kidneys and hearts for transplant according to survivability criteria as well as by queuing. A nationalized health insurance system would ration everything from MRIs to intensive care by a myriad of similar criteria.

The more acute thinkers on the left can see rationing coming, provoking Slate blogger Mickey Kaus to warn of the political danger. "Isn't it an epic mistake to try to sell Democratic health care reform on this basis? Possible sales pitch: 'Our plan will deny you unnecessary treatments!' ... Is that really why the middle class will sign on to a revolutionary multitrillion-dollar shift in spending -- so the government can decide their life or health 'is not worth the price'?"
Well at least he has the decency - so far - of not suggesting camps for the old and infirm. Although he is doing all he can to promote travel by trains. If I was over 60 I'd avoid free trips offered by the government to their Wellness Camps with their 1,000 calorie a day diets - fat kills don't you know. Say. I am over 60....

The War On Capital Expands

The Obama Administration thinks that Venture Capital is under regulated.

President Obama and Treasury Secretary Geithner recently declared a need to regulate venture capital firms on the grounds they pose systemic risk to our economy. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Venture capital is focused almost entirely on new technologies of small startup companies, the failure of which assuredly has no effect on the larger economy.

Not only does venture capital in Silicon Valley and elsewhere pose no systemic risk, it provides an essential engine of value-added innovation, invention and job creation. Perhaps more than any other differentiating attribute of American capitalism, venture capital makes our model the envy of the world.

So why would the Obama administration say they want to regulate venture capital firms? Some suggest that it may be an end run in the undeclared war on wealth because venture capital can create enormous fortunes outside of taxable income. But there are several other plausible answers.
Read the whole thing to find out the other possible answers. My answer is Simon's Law:

It is unwise to attribute to malice alone that which can be attributed to malice and stupidity.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Plural Marriage

A commenter at American Thinker had this to say.

But I must also note, as a Christian, that marriage is a sacred vow taken within a church, synagogue, or mosque, as a Sacrament. There should be no democratic government that tries to dictate such a holy action.
So the government now hands out sacraments? Or decides which ones are valid? No wonder conservatives are in political trouble. Especially if government starts handing out sacraments for killing infidels. Or suppose they do like the shia do and hand out temporary marriages (if the fees are paid) to those who want to have legal sex? No sex without a license. An excellent con. And a wonderful sacrament. Has Sacramento been informed? How about Washington?

A marriage is between one man, one woman, and one government. And don't you ever forget it.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Language Goes To War

The Beltway use of "prohibited" is similar to “transparent” and “robust.” Just saying the word is intended to summon the reality of its meaning. A self-actualizing language event. (With apologies to Lee Cary.)

Prohibited actually means we will punish you if we can catch you and if we feel like it.

I do believe if we had a transparent and robust prohibition of illegal drugs we could finally win the drug war. Any one have a plan? Two points. It has to require a lot of man power. And it can't ever under any circumstances ever possibly work. Oh, yeah. It has to sound plausible to the rubes (I mean voters). We can use words like "prohibited", and "robust", and "transparent". An "effective" or two should definitely be thrown in. Plus "science". You can never have too much "science". And don't forget to quote "an expert in the field". That works really well especially if the expert works in law enforcement. And don't forget to mention to the expert that we are hiring - it helps to avoid wrong answers.

H/T Lee Cary of American Thinker. Whose point only needed one minor correction.

Getting The Lay Of The Land

Wretchard of Belmont Club has a few interesting things to say about the worldly desires of jihadis.

Rod Norland of the New York Times writes that in Baghdad the best police sources on the activities of the JAM and al-Qaeda are prostitutes.
One police detective said he would not dream of enforcing the law against prostitutes.

“They’re the best sources we have,” said the detective. “They know everything about JAM and al-Qaida members,” he said, referring to Jaish al-Mahdi or Mahdi Army, a Shiite militia.

The detective added that the only problem his men had was that neighbors got the wrong idea when detectives visited the houses where prostitutes were known to live. They really do just want to talk, he said.

As I’ve written many times before, it is a mistake to think that “Muslim” pirates in the Philippine South are to be found praying five times a day in the mosque. You are going to have better luck wherever ladies and liquor are in more abundant supply. Although there are doubtless men who are motivated primarily by religious texts, I think they are outnumbered by those who have found religion to be the perfect cover under which to advance simpler ambitions for power and worldly desire.
It appears that the desire for power and control is more universal than Islam. However, Islam gives them the perfect cover. You can do any thing you want to with infidels and their property. And to some extent we mirror that somewhat more selectively. You can do anything you want to jihadis until they surrender.

I have written frequently that secular desires, such as the desire for Jewish pornography (is it Kosher?) would destroy Islam as a religion. Or another bit I did called Pornography at War. What Wretchard has given us is further proof. And the excuse for an amusing headline.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Blame The Capitalists

Blame the Capitalists
Click to see the full size

Note the "Young Pinkies from Columbia and Harvard" sign on the side of the cart.

H/T ravingdave

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Sun Dims - Bush Responsible

Charles Osgood takes a look at the dimming sun. And it has him worried.

I know you've already got a lot to worry about as it is, but something rather odd is going on --- on the Sun.

The Sun normally undergoes an 11-year cycle of activity --- and last year, it was supposed to have heated up --- and, at its peak, would have a tumultuous boiling atmosphere, spitting out flares and huge chunks of super-hot gas.

Instead, it hit a 50-year low in solar wind pressure, a 55-year low in radio emissions, and a 100-year low in sunspot activity. Right now, the sun is the dimmest it's been in nearly a century.

Did you know that? It's true. Astronomers are baffled by it, but has the press covered the story? Hardly at all. Is the government doing anything about it? No, it's not even in the Obama budget or any Congressional earmarks.
But Obama has only been in office about 3 months (Three Years 8 months 3 weeks and 6 days to go). We know whose fault it really is. Washington, where everything is political, they'll note that it began before President Obama took office --- perhaps "another example of the failed policies of the Bush Administration."
Whew. Now that we know who to blame I think it absolves the current administration of all further responsibility. Thank the Maker.

H/T Watts Up With That

HTML Lesson For Today - Tags

Today we are covering opening and closing tags. Please follow the lesson closely. There will be a quiz.


H/T Extra Good Sh** by blogger Fred Lapides whose blog is neither work nor wife safe. But it is #1 in Google rankings if you look it up. Funny that there are so many people interested in naked HTML. I'm encouraged by this interest in technology.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Evaporation Is The Cause

Americans are not guilty. And that worries some people. Greatly.

According to a new survey commissioned by the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation, a non-profit group formed by the rechargeable battery industry to promote battery recycling, just 12 percent of Americans now feel guilty that they’re not doing everything they can for the environment. That’s down from 22 percent in last year’s survey.
And the person who wrote the article seems to know why Americans are not guilty.
...evidence suggests a different reason for the overall decline in “green guilt”: When the economy is bad, concern for the environment evaporates.

A recent Gallup poll, for example, found that, for the first time in 25 years, a majority of Americans think economic growth should be given priority over protecting the environment.

Another poll, from the Pew Research Center, found that for Americans surveyed, the environment ranked 16th among a group of 20 national priorities, and global warming ranked dead last.

The economy, meanwhile, was No. 1.
High energy prices (especially oil) had a role in tanking the US economy. And who are the big guns in "do not drill for oil in America"? Environmentalists. So in effect they put a gun to their own heads pulled the trigger and found that there was a bullet in the chamber.

I kept telling them that pushing alternative energy before it made economic sense was a bad policy. Well they wouldn't listen to me. Now look at where they are. Next time they should pay attention. What are the odds of that?

Illegal Drugs Make Some People Smarter

The left has a hard time applying economic analysis to problems except the drug war. And the right is fairly good at economic analysis (comparatively) except for the drug war. Drugs makes the left smarter and the right stupider. Interesting, no?

Capitalism applies selection pressure in the right direction - efficiency, waste reduction, etc. Socialism (government) applies selection pressure (the process Schumpeter referred to as creative destruction) in the wrong direction.

I'm a libertarian - but not an absolutist - I believe in a minimal safety net - but it should not be comfortable. And why do I believe in a minimal safety net? Because revolutions are bad for business.

Here is the Joseph Schumpeter book that made his reputation: Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Monday, April 20, 2009

Carbon Nanotube Production

Increased production of multi-wall carbon nanotubes is causing a drop in prices.

Multiwall carbon nanotubes are rapidly emerging as an interesting alternate to carbon black for electrostatic discharge applications.

"There will be three important applications for multiwall carbon nanotubes," says Page McAndrew, senior research scientist at Arkema, one of the leading developers of the new reinforcement technology. "One is imparting electrical conductivity, primarily for ESD applications. Two is for improving mechanical performance, and three is for flame retardancy."
ESD applications means using a conductive material to prevent static electricity buildup. ESD stands for ElectroStatic Discharge. Important in things like fuel lines.

And what is this fabulous new rate of world production that is driving down prices?
Production for multiwall carbon nanotubes is still in the pilot stage and global capacity today is estimated by trade sources at less than 500 metric tons. Capacity could grow tenfold or more based on announced increases in capacity.
Obviously prices will come down further and make more applications attractive as production increases.

Government Subsidized Lies

It seems the DEA is telling lies again about the drug war.

Cocaine is as cheap as ever, according to a new analysis of government data by a Washington, D.C. think tank.

The findings appear to contradict claims by U.S. law enforcement officials that the drug has become more expensive. "[Over] the last two years there's been a sustained increase on the price of cocaine," said Drug Enforcement Administration operations chief Tom Harrigan in a recent interview with ABC News. Harrigan credited efforts by the United States, Mexico and local U.S. governments.

But the retail price for cocaine in 2007, the most recent year studied, was less than half what it was in 1984, when Jay McInerney's novel of a coke-addled Manhattanite, "Bright Lights, Big City," was first published, according to the report by the policy group Washington Office on Latin America, which cited a newly-released analysis by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Well what would you expect of a policy that weeds out inefficient competitors faster than market forces? It is an intense Darwinian struggle where only the fittest survive.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, the "law and order" response by our politicians only intensifies the problem. Instead, they might turn to Charles Darwin's theory of evolution to glean insight as to why these "common sense" reactionary solutions often are counterproductive.

As illegal drugs become easier to obtain and more potent, politicians respond in a knee-jerk manner by ramping up law enforcement. After all, drugs are bad so why not escalate the war against drugs? Politicians get to look tough in front of voters, the drug war bureaucracy is delighted with ever expanding budgets, and lots of low-level bad guys get locked up. Everyone wins - including, unfortunately, the major drug traffickers.

As politicians intensified the drug war decade after decade, an unintended consequence began to appear. These "get tough" policies have caused the drug economy to evolve under Darwinian principles (i.e., survival of the fittest). Indeed, the drug war has stimulated this economy to grow and innovate at a frightening pace.

By escalating the drug war, the kinds of people the police typically capture are the ones who are dumb enough to get caught. These criminal networks are occasionally taken down when people within the organization get careless. Thus, law enforcement tends to apprehend the most inept and least efficient traffickers. The common street expression puts it best: "the dealer who uses, loses." Conversely, the kinds of people law enforcement tends to miss are the most cunning, innovative and efficient traffickers.

It's as though we have had a decades-long unintended policy of artificial selection. Just as public health professionals warn against the overuse of antibiotics because it can lead to drug resistant strains of bacteria, our overuse of law enforcement has thinned out the trafficking herd so that the weak and inefficient traffickers get captured or killed and only the most proficient dealers survive and prosper. Indeed, U.S. drug war policies have selectively bred "super-traffickers."
So has the Drug War selected for smarter government agents? If you judge by results they appear stupider than ever. And if they are by some miracle getting smarter, selection pressure is causing smugglers and distributors to get smarter faster. Which is why drug prices are going down.

H/T Drug Policy Forum of Texas

Cross Posted at Classical Values with the title: Darwin In Action.

Contact The EPA Before It Is Too Late

Watts Up With That? has information on how to contact the EPA over the new "CO2 is a pollutant" rules.

In a stunning act of political kowtowing, the EPA caved to special interest groups and politics and declared CO2 a “dangerous pollutant”, even though it is part of the natural cycle of life. Now the gloves come off and the real fight begins during the 60 day public comment period. If you’ve never stood up to “consensus” before, now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country. See instructions below for submitting public comment.
Please do visit Watts Up With That? for all the details. However I'm going to give you the contact information here. Just in case you don't.
The Proposed Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases under the Clean Air Act was signed on April 17, 2009, and will be published in the Federal Register and available in the Docket ( shortly under Docket ID No. [EPA-HQ-OAR-2009-0171]. A pre-publication copy is provided below. While EPA has taken steps to ensure the accuracy of this Internet version of the document, it is not the official version.

* Pre-publication copy of the Administrator’s Proposed Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases under the Clean Air Act (full version) (PDF) (133 pp, 661KB, About PDF)

Technical analyses developed in support of the Proposed Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases under the Clean Air Act may be found here:

* Technical Support Document for the Proposed Findings (PDF) (171 pp, 2.8MB, About PDF)
Written comments on the proposed finding (Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2009-0171) may be submitted by using the following instructions:

* Instructions for Submitting Written Comments (PDF) (3 pp, 39KB, About PDF)

When providing comments, please submit them with reference to Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2009-0171.
There will be two public hearings for this proposed finding. EPA requests those who wish to attend or give public comments, to register on-line in advance of the hearing. EPA will audio web stream both public hearings. The meeting information pages will be updated with this information as it becomes available.

* May 18, 2009, at the EPA Potomac Yard Conference Center, Arlington, VA; and

* May 21, 2009, at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center in Seattle, WA
Please contact them. Before they strangle the US economy.

Let me add that the purpose of these rules is to strangle the US economy. Because, you know, cowboy capitalism gives the US an unfair advantage.

Cross Posted at Classical Values


We will get out of the problems cause by bubble economics by maintaining the bubble.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

China Solar Needs Subsidies

All photovoltaic industries in the world depend on government subsidies. China is going down that road as well.

Shi Dinghuan has stated that what China's solar power manufacturing industry needs is a more active set of government policies to support and subsidize the adoption of solar power domestically, along the lines of the industrial policies that have created significant growth in the Chinese wind industry (see recent article). Because the use of solar power in China has been insignificant, the potential for growth is outstanding.

Very recently the framework of such policies intended to jumpstart domestic solar power demand and turn around China's overly export-oriented PV industry has begun to emerge. In late March, the Chinese Ministry of Finance promulgated its {Interim Measures for the Administration of Government Subsidies of Building Uses of Solar Energy Photovoltaic Power} (called "Interim Measures") and the accompanying {Implementing Opinion Concerning Speeding Up the Promotion of the Use of Solar Energy PV Power in Buildings} (called "Solar-Powered Buildings Promotion Opinion"), which together provide a framework for the implementation of China's "Solar-Powered Rooftops Plan."
This may make some sense in areas of China that are far from power lines. It makes no sense where access to the Chinese grid is available.

This is all part of the Chinese stimulus plan.
Asia's financial markets greeted China's massive stimulus plan warmly, but with caveats that underscored concern that economic stability in China won't by itself reverse global trends.

The size of the stimulus plan solidified Beijing's position as a pivotal economic policy maker in the region and the world. "It lends weight to the importance of China," said John Vail, chief global strategist at Nikko Asset Management in Tokyo. "But of course, China is leaning against some pretty serious headwinds."

Asian currencies, stocks and commodity prices bounded higher from Shanghai to London on Monday, hours after the government unveiled a two-year stimulus package it valued at around four trillion yuan, or $586 billion. The government said it would build infrastructure, fund housing, cut business taxes and encourage banks to lend money, all in a bid to offset slowing global growth by boosting the spending power of its people.
And that is not all the Chinese stimulus plan will do. It is also intended to stimulate the Chinese manufacturers of consumer electronics.
...a consumer stimulus plan implemented by the Chinese government designed to drive consumption of electronics and appliances by citizens living outside the major urban regions," he said. "This has prompted a supply chain scramble in select markets, namely LCD TV, netbooks, consumer based notebooks and low-end handsets."

There are other positive signs. "While there are widespread rumors of more Chinese stimulus to come, some suppliers are expressing skepticism that these recent order gains will extend past the short-term," he added.
It will be interesting to see if the effort has its intended results. One possibility is increased unrest caused by Chinese citizens who will find it easier to organize protests against the Chinese government.
Bankruptcies, unemployment and social unrest are spreading more widely in China than officially reported, according to independent research that paints an ominous picture for the world economy.

The research was conducted for The Sunday Times over the last two months in three provinces vital to Chinese trade – Guangdong, Zhejiang and Jiangsu. It found that the global economic crisis has scythed through exports and set off dozens of protests that are never mentioned by the state media.
Can we expect to hear (through clandestine channels) of tea parties (or equivalent) in China? Time will tell and hopefully the Sunday Times will report it.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Tea Party At The Alamo

Sgt Mom gave a rousing speech at the Tea Party at the Alamo recalling the history of Texas. It is not too long. Follow the link and read the whole thing. Note that Sgt. Mom was one of the organizers of the Alamo Tea Party and she and the other organizers managed to get rock legend Ted Nugent to say a few words there. Way to go Sgt. Mom.

You can read some history about three of the people she mentions in her speech by reading Three Roads to the Alamo: The Lives and Fortunes of David Crockett, James Bowie, and William Barret Travis.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Solution Is Counterintuitive

An interesting talk about why fighting the drug cartels is a bad idea.

Redneck Racist Tea

The election in 2010 will be most amusing. And 2012 is going to be the height of hilarity.

About 1/2 the electorate is apathetic about politics. If 20% of them decide to participate in the next election due to taxes and inflation.....

My first mate didn't want to vote for the Black Man for two reasons.

1. Disagreements about political philosophy.
2. All political questions would be turned into arguments about racism.

I think re: #2 she was on to something.

H/T Jccarlton

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Friday, April 17, 2009

Strength Of Character

Here is an interesting YouTube. Watch it at least half way through. It is a stunner. Especially note the laughter and deprecation at the beginning. All I can say is that beauty does not correlate with talent. I would embed it, but that is not allowed for this particular video.

Anton Webern

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Jevons - Khazzoom

We are in the midst of seriously improving energy efficiency in the hopes that it will reduce energy consumption. However, there is an economic theory (about coal consumption no less) known since 1865 that says that increasing efficiency will increase overall energy consumption even if the amount used for a given task is reduced.

In economics, the Jevons Paradox (sometimes called the Jevons effect) is the proposition that technological progress that increases the efficiency with which a resource is used, tends to increase (rather than decrease) the rate of consumption of that resource. It is historically called the Jevons Paradox as it ran counter to popular intuition. However, the situation is well understood in modern economics. In addition to reducing the amount needed for a given output, improved efficiency lowers the relative cost of using a resource – which increases demand. Overall resource use increases or decreases depending on which effect predominates.
William Stanley Jevons

The proposition was first put forward by William Stanley Jevons in his 1865 book The Coal Question. In it, Jevons observed that England's consumption of coal soared after James Watt introduced his coal-fired steam engine, which greatly improved the efficiency of Thomas Newcomen's earlier design. Watt's innovations made coal a more cost effective power source, leading to the increased use of the steam engine in a wide range of industries. This in turn increased total coal consumption, even as the amount of coal required for any particular application fell. Jevons argued that increased efficiency in the use of coal would tend to increase the use of coal, and would not reduce the rate at which England's deposits of coal were being depleted.
It all depends on whether the demand for energy is elastic or inelastic. And that is where Kahazoom comes in.
In the 1980s, the economists Daniel Khazzoom and Leonard Brookes revisited the Jevons paradox for the case of a society's energy use. Brookes, then chief economist at the UK Atomic Energy Authority, argued that attempts to reduce energy consumption by increasing energy efficiency would simply raise demand for energy in the economy as a whole. Khazzoom focused on the narrower point that the potential for rebound was ignored in mandatory performance standards for domestic appliances being set by the California Energy Commission.

In 1992, the economist Harry Saunders dubbed the hypothesis – that improvements in energy efficiency work to increase, rather than decrease, energy consumption – the Khazzoom-Brookes Postulate, and showed that it was consistent with neo-classical growth theory under a wide range of assumptions.
What to do? Well government could tax energy so that consumers and produces do not reap the benefit of energy efficiency. Another way to get such results is for the government to promote high cost energy sources such as wind and solar.

In other words Obama's energy policies are well grounded in economics. And most importantly they are good for government. We can be thankful we have the Smartest President Ever™.

So now you know why Polywell Fusion hasn't been fully funded by the Obama administration. If it works and is low cost, energy use will skyrocket. And the wise one is against that.

Fortunately Mr. Obama responds well to political pressure. So keep the heat on. Contact info for your government and a simple explanation of Polywell Fusion and its benefits can be found at:

Bussard's IEC Fusion Technology (Polywell Fusion) Explained

Note that Amazon has a lot of books on Energy Efficiency and none on Polywell. I'm looking forward to some one writing a book.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Polywell Gets In On The Act

Polywell Fusion looks to be getting a $2 million boost from the DoD Recovery Act Plan. Here is what the DoD has to say about their plan.

Today, March 20, 2009, the Department of Defense (DoD) released its EXPENDITURE PLAN for the projects to be funded with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The Recovery Act provides $7.4 billion to the Department largely for projects that are located at Defense installations spread across all fifty states, District of Columbia and two U.S. territories. The report includes $2.3 billion in construction projects, including two major hospital construction projects: Camp Pendleton, California; Fort Hood, Texas; and a hospital alteration project at the Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Florida. The plan also contains $3.4 billion for nearly 3,000 facility repair and improvement projects that will immediately generate additional employment in communities around Defense installations. Furthermore, the plan details how $300 million for near-term energy technology research will be allocated. The allocation of the remaining $800 million for Defense facility infrastructure investment be announced at a later date.
There is a pdf of the plan. On pdf page 166 there is a small item under the heading Domestic Energy Supply/Distribution. It is as follows:
Plasma Fusion (Polywell) Demonstrate fusion plasma confinement system for shore and shipboard applications; Joint OSD/USN project. 2.0
The "2.0" is the amount of funding in millions. This indicates the military has a fair amount of confidence in Polywell and the progress made so far in the research.

There is no doubt that if Polywell can be made to work a shore installation would probably be the first and easiest application. Next would come size reductions for shipboard use. And if we can get the weight down enough - rockets for space. Or perhaps use as low cost power supply for a ground based laser propulsion system.

I just looked at Amazon and there is no book out yet on Polywell Fusion. I have heard rumors of people writing books on the subject so maybe we will see one in the coming months.

In the mean time you can look at this www page to get some understanding of what is involved:

Bussard's IEC Fusion Technology (Polywell Fusion) Explained

H/T KitemanSA at Talk Polywell

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Trouble In River City

Which reminds me a lot of America in the 50s when it was comic books, duck tail haircuts, and rock 'n roll. It seems there is always some tool of the devil that needs exploiting.

And the tools of the devil go in an out of fashion. In 1914 the once legal over the counter medicine heroin was it. Along with the cocaine vice which made Negroes lust insatiably after white women. NEGRO COCAINE "FIENDS" were the menace of the day according to the New York Times, America's paper of record. And then in the late 30s we had marijuana. Which was favored by the inferior Mexican "race" and jazz musicians. Negro jazz musicians. And of course jazz was whore house music. And you know what kind of depravity that can lead to.

There is always Trouble in River City. Profitable trouble. Fortunately there alway appears on the scene a savior who will lead us from temptation. A politician. A minister. A community organizer.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Monday, April 13, 2009

Pick A Side

Glenn Beck talks with the former Deputy Foreign Minister of Mexico.

And as long as we are on the topic of Mexico. The rumor that 90% of the guns involved in Mexico's crimes come from America is a flat out lie. And suppose the "loophole" that allows so many American guns into Mexico was closed. Is it reasonable to believe that organizations that are so adept at smuggling drugs to every country around the world (drug smuggling is worth a half trillion dollars to the world economy) couldn't smuggle in guns from other suppliers?

If the American's want to do something about Mexico's gun problem they could stop financing the smugglers. In a word: legalization.

It appears that we have a choice. Legal guns and legal drugs or drug prohibition and gun prohibition. Supporters of the 2nd Amendment had better wake up. Because you know how it goes - first they came after the drug users, but I did nothing because I don't use drugs....

Or as Ben Franklin was supposed to have said, "Either we hang together or we hang separately."

Drug Policy Forum of Texas

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Sunday, April 12, 2009


The immediate pirate crisis is over with the killing of three pirates, the capture of a wounded fourth and the recovery of Captain Phillips unharmed physically.

The American captain taken hostage by Somali pirates aboard a lifeboat was freed today after making a second daring escape bid that allowed waiting US forces to open fire on his captors.

Three of the four pirates were killed in the firefight and the fourth was injured but survived and was taken into custody, according to initial reports.

US officials said that Captain Richard Phillips was unharmed and safe aboard the US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge last night.

“I can confirm that Captain Phillips has been safely recovered,” Laura Tischler, a State Department spokeswoman, said.
What I don't understand is why we don't deal with those pirates the way it used to be done.
Bombarding Tripoli

The wiki gives a short history of our war with the pirates of Tripoli.
By late 1793, a dozen American ships had been captured, goods stripped and everyone enslaved. Portugal had offered some armed patrols, but American merchants needed an armed American presence to sail near Europe. After some serious debate, the United States Navy was born in March 1794. Six frigates were authorized, and so began the construction of the United States, the Constellation, the Constitution and three other frigates.

This new military presence helped to stiffen American resolve to resist the continuation of tribute payments, leading to the two Barbary Wars along the North African coast: the First Barbary War from 1801 to 1805 and the Second Barbary War in 1815. It was not until 1815 that naval victories ended tribute payments by the U.S., although some European nations continued annual payments until the 1830s.

The United States Marine Corps actions in these wars led to the line "to the shores of Tripoli" in the opening of the Marine Hymn. Because of the hazards of boarding hostile ships, Marines' uniforms had a leather high collar to protect against cutlass slashes. This led to the nickname Leatherneck for U.S. Marines.

After the general pacification of 1815, the European powers agreed upon the need to suppress the Barbary pirates. The sacking of Palma on the island of Sardinia by a Tunisian squadron, which carried off 158 inhabitants, roused widespread indignation.
American resolve is still obvious. The question is: why are these pirate harbors allowed to function? Who is selling them fuel? Why aren't they being blockaded? Why aren't they being bombed? Why isn't a punitive expedition on the way? Are the Europeans so weak that they are helpless? In a word - yes. They have no fight left in them. Someone might get killed.
PARIS - Navy commandos stormed a French sailboat held by pirates off the Somali coast Friday in an assault triggered by threats the passengers would be executed. But one hostage was killed in the operation, demonstrating the risks of a military operation against sea bandits.
So what is the French attitude? They intend to finance more piracy.
In a break with French government policy, authorities proposed paying a ransom during 48 hours of fruitless talks, but the pirates, armed with Kalashnikov rifles, rejected the offer, Morin said, without divulging a sum.

The French also offered the pirates a French naval officer to hold in exchange for a mother and child but that too was rejected, the minister said.
The pirates can't operate without fuel and a safe harbor. So obviously you destroy their fuel supplies and their harbor. Sink all the ships in the harbor. Bomb all known pirate hideouts ashore and any other targets of interest for good measure. If piracy doesn't pay there will be a lot fewer pirates.


You can learn how the pirates of the Caribbean were brought down by reading The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down. And Wars of the Barbary Pirates: To the shores of Tripoli: the birth of the US Navy and Marines might also be of interest.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Butterfly Effect

Two years in a row of cool wet summers has had a devastating effect on the population of butterflies in Britain.

Two cool and wet summers in a row have left butterfly numbers at their lowest for more than a quarter of a century.

One species, the high brown fritillary, has almost died out in Britain and several others have suffered dramatic slumps.

For a dozen species, last year was the worst on record and conservationists fear that they could suffer long-term damage if there is a third dire summer this year.

Even butterflies that were once common garden visitors, such as orange-tips and the small tortoiseshell, are among those to have suffered significant declines.

The weather has had such an impact because heavy rain, of which there was plenty in the summers of 2007 and 2008, prevents butterflies from flying to find mates or to reach the flowers that supply them with nectar. Similarly, butterflies need the Sun in order to become fully active.
Evidently no one has told the butterflies about the computer models predicting global warming.

And what about that Sun? Some one has turnrd off the sunspots.
BOSTON (WBZ) ― "The Sun is the all encompassing energy giver to life on planet Earth," said Dr. Willie Soon, an Astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

And these days the sun is getting a lot of attention from scientists.

"The Sun is just slightly dimmer and has been for about the last 18 months," said Dr. Soon. "And that is because there are very few sunspots."

Sunspots are giant islands of magnetism on the Sun and the appearance of sunspots runs in 11 year cycles. When sunspots are abundant during the cycle, it is called the "solar maximum" and when there are few sunspots, it is considered to be the "solar minimum."

"Right now we are in the deepest solar minimum of the entire Space Age," stated Dr. Soon. "In fact, this is the quietest (fewest sunspots) Sun we have had in almost a century."
So do you suppose the sun has anything to do with the British butterflies? Of course not. The lack of butterflies is caused by bad weather. Bad climate (well, good for butterflies) is caused by CO2. Funny thing is you don't hear the dire predictions about summer climate (excuse me - weather) that you used to hear in previous years. I have yet to see one prediction that the summer of 2009 in the Northern Hemisphere will be the hottest ever. Which makes no sense. If CO2 is still increasing (it is) shouldn't global temperatures continue to rise? That is what the models predict. (what are the actors and actresses predicting?) And what climate model predicted the stagnating of temperatures we have had for the last 7 years? And what climate model predicted no sun spots? I can answer that. None of them. Because solar output over the solar cycle is constant. According to the models. Evidently what we need are cuter models. Or more accurate ones. Perhaps adding a few solar scientist to the IPCC's collection of climate experts might prove beneficial. To science. To the global warming agenda - not so much.

A Plot Against The American Worker

If the USA goes after CO2 and China does not we will see a lot of industries moving to China. Is CO2 regulation a Chinese plot against the American worker?

What Is The Quality Of Your Data?

The Federal Government has a data quality problem.

A new Data Quality Act (DQA) lawsuit was filed Feb. 22 in a federal court in California. The suit claims that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are disseminating false and misleading information regarding the health benefits of marijuana. The lawsuit is another test of the judicial reviewability of DQA, which enables groups and members of the public to challenge the data quality of federal government information.

The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California by Americans for Safe Access in response to a denial of an information quality challenge originally made against HHS and FDA in October 2004. The petition challenged various statements made by HHS and FDA in the Federal Register regarding the health benefits of marijuana. For instance, the Americans for Safe Access requested that the following statement, "There have been no studies that have scientifically assessed the efficacy of marijuana for any medical condition," be revised to state, "Adequate and well-recognized studies show the efficacy of marijuana in the treatment of nausea, loss of appetite, pain and spasticity."
Those are not the only conditions that marijuana could ameliorate.

Here is a list that provides links to many published studies on the efficacy of medical marijuana. Let me just provide the "A"s section of the lists.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
Anxiety Disorders
Aversive Memories

Here is an interesting "D":


And near the bottom of the list:


It would seem that the Federal Government and Congress have not been keeping up. Justice Clarence Thomas got it right in a medical marijuana case (Raich) when he said
"Congress presented no evidence in support of its conclusions (that marijuana has no medical value - ed.) , which are not so much findings of fact as assertions of power," and Thomas concludes: "Congress cannot define the scope of its own power merely by declaring the necessity of its enactments."
At least one person in the Federal Government gets it.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Wanker Flashlights

Design News has an article on shaker flashlight knockoffs from China and how they are poorly designed. One of the commenters had an interesting story.

These are usually referred to as \"wanker\" flashlights, and no you have to look it up yourself. A friend who has a battery store thought these would be good for promotional give aways until I mentioned the name a friend in the UK had called them and the fact he was in business to sell batteries.. Trying to keep a straight face he got a customer to try one which promptly broke. These real cheap ones had a plastic tab as stops. Needless to say they were gone the next time I was there.
The moral of this story? Low price isn't everything if the device doesn't work well. The other moral? Wasting your money on a cheap imitation could move you into the wanker category. Go for the real thing.

Do Electric Sheep Dream Of Androids?

And just in case you are wondering about the title. It is a play on Philip K. Dick's book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? which led to the movie with Harrison Ford called Blade Runner.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

H/T EDN Magazine

Thursday, April 09, 2009

GM Announces Electric Car Of The Future

Electric Car Of The Future

Laugh all you want but this is no joke. The article linked is about batteries for cars.
Anyway, this battery issue — and many like it — hasn’t stopped GM from announcing yet another Car Of The Future. Only this time they’ve partnered themselves up with Segway.

You have got to be fucking kidding me.
The interesting thing here [is] its vehicle-to-vehicle communication. Not only does the P.U.M.A. talk to other units, but it can detect the presence of other types of vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists; using that info to avoid collisions. It can also join together with other P.U.M.A.s to form high-speed (if you can call 35 MPH high speed) cross-city trains capable of using special lanes for uninterrupted travel.
So, the only thing that makes this more useful than a bicycle is predicated on (a) massive consumer adoption of the things and (b) ubiquitous specialized urban infrastructure? That’s clever.

I guess now that GM’s effectively owned by the federal government we should get used to ideas like this.
I can just see this car gliding down Chicago's Michigan Avenue in 20 below weather with a 40 mph breeze blowing. And some people wonder why GM is in trouble. It is not just the unions. Of course with Congress now running Government Motors I expect a lot more ideas like this of equal or greater brilliance. Look for solar cells that can collect dark energy and wind turbines that can generate power on windless days. Of course the Congress is equally good with economics. We are so fortunate to live in such a country.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Sex Weeds

It appears that there is a "new" weed to improve male sexual performance. And I'm not talking about marijuana. Nope. I'm talking about the appropriately named "Horny Goat Weed".

The soft green heart-shaped leaf of the horny goat weed could hold the key to a new drug for treating erectile dysfunction. Researchers say the Viagra alternative could be as effective as the famous blue pill, but have fewer side-effects.

Mario Dell'Agli of the University of Milan, Italy, and colleagues tested four plants which are used as natural aphrodisiacs in traditional cultures to establish their potential as alternatives to Viagra.

Viagra's active compound, sildenafil, works by inhibiting an enzyme called phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5). Because PDE5 helps control blood flow to the penis, inhibiting PDE5 promotes male erection.

Dell'Agli and his colleagues tested the four plants in vitro to see how efficient they were at inhibiting PDE5. Just one - Epimedium brevicornum, also known as horny goat weed and Bishop's Hat - had an effect. This confirmed previous studies showing that icariin, a compound found inside the horny goat weed, is a PDE5 inhibitor.
Don't get your hopes up right away. A drug based on this plant could be decades away.

However, if you want to grow your own an appropriately named book, Secrets of Plant Propagation, could be rather useful. According to Amazon (I haven't checked) Bishop's Hat is covered on page 90. And if you want to grow marijuana Marijuana Horticulture: The Indoor/Outdoor Medical Grower's Bible could be helpful. I have to warn you though. Marijuana is illegal and the penalties for growing it are severe including lots of jail time and loss of any property remotely connected to growing it. However, not to worry. We have legions of criminals willing to supply it to you. And you can get it from either domestic growers or smugglers. So how does an old fart get connected with these criminals? Ask a kid because marijuana is easier for a kid to get than beer. No doubt a lovely way to bring the generations together.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

The Narrative

Red Alerts reports on a school teacher who was using drugs and alcohol to sexually exploit youth. Red asks this question:

Victimless Crime Files: Why Do Adults Want Kids to Get High?
Red Alerts then says:
The truth is that only two kinds of adults involved with drugs, ones with addiction problems/psychological issues and the ones who use drugs to take advantage of others.
and then follows it with this report:
It includes statements from alleged victims of all ages, accusing Levine of allowing teenagers to drink alcohol and smoke marijuana.....
So why no bad mouthing of alcohol? Or coming to the obvious conclusion that prohibiting these substances to minors has given an opening to malefactors to exploit youth.

I guess it wouldn't fit the narrative. And yes: the Right and the Left have their narratives. I so look forward to the day when Americans think for themselves. As individuals rather than spouters of some collective meme. Given the current trajectory that might happen as soon as the year 3000. But it could take longer.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Miracle Gas

A friend of mine, RN, said he found a comment I wrote about climate change rather funny. So I thought I'd let the rest of you in on the joke.

I was responding to this bit of a comment.

Meanwhile our atmosphere is loading up with carbon dioxide from that oh-so-easy combustion and we don't have 50 years to wait for fusion to take over while climate change fries our biosphere.
Here is my response:
Since the climate seems to be cooling while CO2 is rising the new theory is that below 350 ppm CO2 causes warming and above 350 ppm it causes cooling. This is based on the scientific fact that CO2 does what ever it needs to do to keep government money flowing.

In fact CO2 is a miracle gas. Not only can it perform warming or cooling as needed on earth but it also affects the number of spots on the sun by emitting invisible rays of electromagnetic energy that cool the outer layers of the sun and absorb magnetic energy. Which explains the current low value of the suns magnetic field. After all no other explanations have been offered so it must be CO2.
Of course I am making fun of the IPCC which attributes all currently unexplained warming of the climate to CO2. Not a very scientific approach but very effective politically. For now.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Salt - The Natural Anti-Depressant

Yep. New research shows that salt may be an anti-depressant.

Does demolishing a salty bag of potato chips seem to put you in a better mood? If so, you're not alone, according to psychologists at the University of Iowa who say salt may be nature's anti-depressant.

Researchers based the conclusion on studies on rats. They found that rats that were deficient in sodium chloride avoided activities they normally enjoyed, like drinking a sugary substance or pressing a bar that stimulates a pleasant sensation in their brains.

"Things that normally would be pleasurable for rats didn't elicit the same degree of relish, which leads us to believe that a salt deficit and the craving associated with it can induce one of the key symptoms associated with depression," said University of Iowa psychologist Kim Johnson.

The study cannot definitively conclude that the salt-deficient rats are suffering from depression, but the lack of interest in normally pleasurable activities is a key sign of the condition.
So why is the mayor of New York pushing an campaign to cut the amount of salt in processed and restruant foods in half? Does he want to see a lot of depressed Americans?

Actions have consequences often unforeseen. Take the campaign against tobacco. A lot of schizophrenics self medicate with tobacco. Do we really want a lot of unmedicated schizophrenics on our streets? Is that really a good idea? Fortunately if this salt initiative gets enacted they will have a lot of depressed people to keep them company.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Supporting Technology

You know that a technology has come of age when the required support is off the shelf instead of custom. Which is why this is such good news for mult-cell lithium battery technology.

Data Translation has announced its Voltpoint series of voltage-measurement instruments for lithium-ion cell-by-cell determination. Each Voltpoint is a stand-alone box offering 48 24-bit-resolution inputs over a sampling range of ±100V, each with its own sigma-delta ADC for direct connection to a PC through USB or Ethernet. The LXI (LAN-extensions-for-instrumentation) - compatible instruments can make high-voltage, high-precision battery-stack and cell-balance measurements in commercial and military hybrid-vehicle applications. They accept direct voltage inputs of any value in the range of ±100V from a single cell or from a series of stacked cells. In addition, the instruments can make motor-shunt measurements. Each of the 48 input channels offers 1000V channel-to-channel galvanic isolation. Maximum error is 3 mV for any input range.
Interesting specs, huh? Well for an engineer. The big deal is that a tester for multi-cell lithium batteries is now an off the shelf item. Which means that there is significant demand for such testing. Which means that in a year or three (depending on how long it takes to work out the bugs of the batteries and their charge and discharge systems) we will start seeing such batteries in autos in at least pre-production prototype volumes (which in the case of autos runs into the multiple-thousands). And, if it works out, we should see production volumes following on about a year or two afterwards.

In The Dark

Rick Nebel, the lead guy in Polywell Fusion Research has a few things to say about his current state of knowledge with reference to the Polywell Fusion Reactor. He also discusses some rather technical questions about his research and findings. You can read those by following the link.

To a certain extent we are in the same boat as everyone else as far as the previous experiments go since Dr. Bussard’s health was not good when we started this program and he died before we had a chance to discuss the previous work in any detail. Consequently, we have had to use our own judgement as to what we believe from the earlier experiments and what we think may be questionable.
That may explain why the US Navy has contracted Rick's company, EMC2 Fusion, (formerly run by Dr. Bussard until his death) to do several different measurements on the plasma including density, and magnetic fields.

In various Polywell discussion groups a lot of the talk is focused on how little published information there is about Polywell. The above may be part of the explanation.

I must say that this news is a surprise to me. I was under the impression that the knowledge was out there. Now it appears that however much there was a lot of it died with Dr. Bussard. However, some very big names in plasma physics, like Nicholas Krall, who wrote Principles of Plasma Physics are interested in the progress of the Polywell reactor. In fact Dr. Krall who famously said, "We spent $15 billion dollars studying tokamaks and what we learned about them is that they are no damn good.", wrote a paper with Dr Bussard titled Forming and maintaining a potential well in a quasispherical magnetic trap. So despite our current state of knowledge I'd have to say the effort to find out more is very worthwhile. Especially given the relatively low cost of knowledge. So far the US Navy agrees. Here is what Dr. Nebel recently said about what the experiments show.
"There's nothing in there that suggests this will not work," Nebel said. "That's a very different statement from saying that it will work."
If we upped the burn rate of the project from $2 million a year to $10 million a year we could learn more faster. Which means faster decision making. And that is almost always a good thing. Right now we are in the position of not having enough solid information. More is better.

Bussard's IEC Fusion Technology (Polywell Fusion) Explained

Why hasn't Polywell Fusion been fully funded by the Obama administration?

Cross Posted at Classical Values