Thursday, July 31, 2008

Al Gore's Ignorant Plan to Re-Power America

This is Albert Gore, Jr.'s, best yet. He is so ignorant at this point that you have to wonder ... never mind. Gore challenged you to do the impossible. But he had good intentions; he must always be judged by his intentions, never on his results. We will look at calculations of the cost below. But the biggest problem with generating all of our electricity from wind, solar and geothermal is time of day. Wind and solar are fickle. They vary by cloud cover, time of day and other factors. Solar is limited to daylight hours; wind is stronger during the daylight hours because heat from the Sun causes variable heating and hence wind. They are fickle during the day and very limited at night. So turn your lights on during the day and off at night. That's Algore thinking. Update: some areas have more wind at night, reducing, but not eliminating the problem: the wind is fickle Only geothermal can provide reliable energy during the night hours. But it's no slam dunk. There is geothermal generation on the island Hawaii - aka Big Island. But when we lived in Hawaii in the late 1980s the neighbors were trying to shut it down. They said there were emissions of sulfur.
Update: Washington Post has a good article 8/30/08. Gore you have a no-go here. Ronald Bailey does the math on the costs. Reason Magazine:
Gore asserted, "The quickest, cheapest and best way to start using all this renewable energy is in the production of electricity. In fact, we can start right now using solar power, wind power and geothermal power to make electricity for our homes and businesses." This massive push for no-carbon electricity production would help prevent climate change and cut our dependence on foreign oil. Of course, great-souled visionaries such as Gore do not concern themselves with piddling and mundane issues such as who will pay for this marvelous no-carbon energy future and how much it will cost. Not being burdened with a great soul, I decided to don my green eyeshade and make a preliminary stab at figuring out how much Gore's scheme might cost us. According to the Energy Information Administration, the existing capacity of U.S. coal, gas, and oil generating plants totals around 850,000 megawatts. So how much would it cost to replace those facilities with solar electric power? Let's use the recent announcement of a 280-megawatt thermal solar power plant in Arizona for $1 billion as the starting point for an admittedly rough calculation. Combined with a molten salt heat storage systems, solar thermal might be able to provide base load power. Crunching the numbers (850,000 megawatts/280 megawatts x $1 billion) produces a total capital cost of just over $3 trillion over the next ten years. What about wind power? Oilman T. Boone Pickens is building the world's biggest wind energy project with an installed capacity of 4,000 megawatts at a cost of $10 billion, or about $2.5 billion per 1,000 megawatts. For purposes of illustration, this implies a total cost of around $2.1 trillion over the next ten years to replace current carbon-emitting electricity generation capacity with wind power. That's assuming that the wind projects generate electricity at their rated capacity at or near 100 percent of the time. Making the heroic assumption that in fact wind projects will generate power at about one-third of their rated capacity (due to wind variability), this would imply tripling the number of wind power generators. This boosts the total overall cost to more than $6 trillion over the next ten years. What's the potential for geothermal electricity generation? Geothermal power taps the heat of the Earth itself to make steam to drive turbines to generate electricity. For instance, superhot water erupting from the Geysers in northern California fuel power plants with a generation capacity of 725 megawatts. But such geothermal sites are relatively rare. However, an unconventional geothermal source—hot dry rocks—might supply us with no-carbon electricity. In lots of places, rocks several kilometers down are quite hot. To get at this heat, engineers drill at least two boreholes and inject cool water in one. The injected water flows around fractured hot rocks and rises through the other borehole as steam to drive a turbine to generate electricity. Some very preliminary figures suggest that it would cost around $3 billion for build a 1000 megawatt geothermal plant. Replacing 850 gigawatts of carbon-emitting power generation capacity with geothermal electricity would cost around $2.5 trillion over ten years.
Update: Distance: Wind and solar energy are most plentiful in the plains and southwest - far from the coastal population centers. We need a massive investment in transmission infrastructure to get the energy to the places of demand. See The Wind Jammers.

Stuck in mountain paradise

A massive slide closed the scenic Sea to Sky highway between Vancouver, BC and Whistler mountain - the ski area - at midnight Tuesday. The original estimate had the highway reopening on Monday - surely for limited traffic and long delays. We will just have to stay. And enjoy it.
We are fortunate and don't have to leave for another week. But our daughter and son are driving up Thursday. The alternate route is much longer. The 3 hour drive from the US border becomes 6 hours. From Vancouver it's even worse. Update: it was long, but they made it.
Update Sunday 8/3: The highway opened Saturday at 11 PM, cleared and repaved. All lanes will be open for this 3-day weekend. We expect lane restrictions after that. The effort to clear and repair the highway was heroic. Congrats to BC.
In the first photo find the highway in the middle and the rail tracks by the water!
In the second find the people; they look very small.
Click the photos to enlarge.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Cantwell to raise price of gas - Soros sells oil

Short post: Cantwell is hampering the Commidity Futures T Commission. Republicans appeared unlikely to agree to cut off debate and move the measure to a final vote. They complained that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had blocked them from offering amendments. Older post Reports that George Soros is shorting oil at $137/barrel and moving to gold. Is Soros's speculation illegal? He is a major funder of the Nut Roots. Gold And Oil For Soros; Illiquidity At Merrill -
For example, billionaire George Soros--Croesus was told--has covered much of his shorts in financial stocks. Why chance another public policy move by regulators to shut off this automatic feeding trough? Soros finally shorted oil at $137 a barrel and put on a long position in gold; he expects to see gold hold its ground even if oil continues to decline.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Tour Eastern Washington instead of Paris

One of my favorite areas - the expanses of Eastern Washington. Specifically the Palouse - toward Idaho and central. Knute Berger in Crosscut Seattle They say travel is about the people, but one of the great things about Eastern Washington is that there are no people, at least by Pugetopolis standards. Okanogan County is nearly the size of Connecticut but has fewer than 40,000 residents. Empty roads, dry coulees, vast amber waves of grain, no madding crowds, that's part of the appeal. Up until a few years ago, the Seattle Seahawks sent their players to training camp in Cheney ... we merely passed through on the way to nearby Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge. This place is maybe 40 minutes outside Spokane, but you might as well be on another planet. It sits in a geologic area called the Channeled Scablands, a name dreamed up by the Lesser Eastern Washington Tourism Bureau as a way to scare folks off. Who but a leper wants to holiday in a land of scabs? The term describes a landscape shaped by an enormous flood. Apparently, thousands of years ago, Montana was a giant bathtub of melted ice water, and then someone pulled the plug. Al Gore's ancestor wasn't around to stop the catastrophe, and the resulting Biblical splash scoured the landscape.
The photo is the best demonstration of the Channeled Scablands; the gently rolling hills on the right were cut through by the mega-flood resulting in the ugly area on the left.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Algore's mentor caught in error

Albert Gore, Jr.'s, scientific mentor has been outed on the record. His conclusions that greenhouse gases caused global warming and cause extreme weather are based on incorrectly analyzed and plotted data. 
The test: he made a prediction and missed by a mile. That's science: when your theory is proven false you adopt another. Instead, he doubled his bet. Gore, give back your Nobel Prize. Number Watch June 2008: Twenty years of demagoguery

He made a prediction and it did not happen. Fair enough, that is how science progresses, but any relationship between the Hansen phenomenon and science is rather remote. His latest calling down of fire and brimstone is upon the wicked oil executives, who are allegedly stoking up infidel opposition to the true gospel of the global warming catastrophe to come. That this is not true is evident from the greener-than-thou advertisements put out by that industry. They know a good racket when they see one and if there are a few billion taxpayers’ dollars on offer they want their share of them. They are, however, likened to the tobacco giants who so misled the public. Yes those were liars; but so were their opponents, led by the EPA, and they turned out to be better at it. The current big lie is that all the sceptical commentators are in the pay of the nefarious industry.

Hansen’s answer to it all is to call for an inquisition (he is a bit late into that game, by about five years). “May you have what you wish for” is an ancient curse and it would be satisfying to see Hansen have his day in court. The reason that Monty Python’s dead parrot so rapidly became a dead metaphor is that it encapsulates the modern political phenomenon of lying with a straight face, when all parties involved know that it is a lie (It’s not a constitution, it is just a treaty). So now, when we are told that Global Warming isn’t dead, it’s just restin’, we accept it as just a normal part of the political process. Formerly it would have been regarded as an example of the fifth of Langmuir’s laws of bad science. It is quite extraordinary that this sort of activity should fester within the world’s most notable scientific and engineering organisation. Anyone who has had the misfortune to have been reluctantly involved with such a weirdo will feel the embarrassment for all those genuine professionals whose ingenuity, among many other achievements, put a man on the moon. They obviously tried to subject him to some sort of control, quite properly in a tax-funded, non-academic institution, which led to his wild claim to being censored. He must be the least censored person on the planet, thanks to his friends in high places.

Perhaps the world will one day be grateful to the brave band of volunteers, who have at last got together to provide an audit of the activities of such fanatics. Owing to the efforts of the likes of Steve McIntyre and Anthony Watts, we have been able to penetrate the unscientific veil of secrecy behind which they brew their spells and hokum. Not only are the standards of software production and maintenance way, way below the standards officially embraced by NASA, some of the procedures are unbelievably bizarre, including even the Orwellian process of systematically rewriting the past.

A phenomenon indeed!

Schwarzenegger Needs To Face Reality: California Is Insolvent

I intended to write a piece about California losing jobs, due to increasing taxes and investigate other causes, based on Dennis Prager's hour 2 on 7/17/08. But we are leaving on vacation, so I just have a couple of links: Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis Schwarzenegger Needs To Face Reality: California Is Insolvent Yesterday, in Taxpayers Can Bear No More, we discussed the record public debt problem in the UK. Chancellor Alistair Darling made it "clear that he thought that the only politically viable option was to increase borrowing, rather than to raise taxation." In the US, states are facing similar budget dilemmas. New Jersey, whose median household income of $64,470 is second only to Maryland, is one of 29 states that ran short of revenue to balance this year's budget, up from three in 2006, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington found. Lawmakers across the country, who previously sought to trim debt and cut taxes, are instead increasing borrowing as the slowest economy since 2001 erodes consumer spending and home values. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is looking to bridge a $17 billion budget gap by borrowing against future lottery profits. Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich wants to issue bonds to plug a shortfall in pension-plan funding and cut spending on health care and education. Corzine plans to borrow for school construction, and officials in Arizona may too. California could lose 370,000 jobs if paid sick leave passes - Jan Norman on Small Business - June 24th, 2008, 6:00 pm · posted by Jan Norman California businesses will shed 370,000 jobs over the next year and pay $63.9 billion in costs and lost sales if the legislature approves mandatory paid sick leave for all workers, according to a detailed analysis released today by the National Federation of Independent Business Research Foundation. The bill, labeled the California Healthy Workplaces Act by author Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, would require every business with even one employee to give paid sick leave. Part-time workers would also qualify. The bill passed the Assembly May 28 and is currently in the state Senate Labor and Industrial Relatixons Committee. Approximately 40% of California workers, mostly part-timers, don’t get paid sick leave, according to Ma. She says the lack of paid sick leave is a public health concern that hurts children.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Oil is NOT a fossil fuel

LInk only: CFP: Oil is NOT a fossil fuel and AGW is non-science: We all grew up believing that oil is a fossil fuel, and just about every day this ‘fact’ is mentioned in newspapers and on TV. However, let us not forget what Lenin said – “A lie told often enough becomes truth.” It was in 1757 that the great Russian scholar Mikhailo V. Lomonosov enunciated the hypothesis that oil might originate from biological detritus. The scientists who first rejected Lomonsov’s hypothesis, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, were the famous German naturalist and geologist Alexander von Humboldt and the French chemist and thermodynamicist Louis Joseph Gay-Lussac, who together enunciated the proposition that oil is a primordial material erupted from great depth, and is unconnected with any biological matter near the surface of the Earth. With the development of chemistry during the nineteenth century, and following particularly the enunciation of the second law of thermodynamics by Clausius in 1850, Lomonosov’s biological hypothesis came inevitably under attack. In science, a hypothesis is merely somebody’s attempt to explain something. It is merely that – an attempt. In the scientific method, a hypothesis is also an open invitation for somebody else to discredit it by using physical evidence to demonstrate that the hypothesis is flawed, or incorrect – that is how scientific knowledge is advanced. Einstein is reputed to have remarked that just one fact was all that was needed to invalidate his theory of relativity. The great French chemist Marcellin Berthelot particularly scorned the hypothesis of a biological origin for petroleum.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Real Time News and its Enemies

American Thinker found this and is following it: We are entering the next stage of personalized news. Rather than waiting for your congressman to be chosen for an interview by Fox News or the New York Times, you can interview your own congressman in "real time." Watch this video from John Culberson (R-TX), who uses an internet-connected video camera and a Blackberry to "broadcast" his side of a news interview. Imagine the possibilities, and the accountability! What are the ramifications of this new technology? The first major benefit is that we no longer have to wait until the MSM decides to interview our congressman. Real time technology allows us to interview him or her directly. We can watch our representatives and senators explain their votes, make speeches, or even observe a chat in the hallway as it happens. The second benefit is that we can disseminate this information to friends via the internet. This activity is the essence of classical republicanism which is based on individual equality and self-interest bound by morality. Ideas and events otherwise hidden in the netherworld of uncovered MSM news are brought into the light and into the hands of everyday citizens. Real time can become your personal news source. For example, Micro-blogging platforms such as Twitter, where short text messages are used to spread information about what is happening right now. Twitter is used by the firefighters in California to relay information and by the people being evacuated to tell family and loved ones where they are and where they are going. The Red Cross uses Twitter and so do Congressmen from the floor of the House. Sign up for Twitter and search, monitor, and communicate with anyone you choose, on your computer or cell phone. You don't have to be a geek or have a bunch of spare time--Twitter is quicker and easier than email. In Congress, only leaders are allowed to use this technology. All other members are currently not allowed under the archaic House franking rules. For example, because email has the word "mail", it must be reviewed by the Franking Commission before it is sent. However, there are two congressmen, Representatives Culberson and Tim Ryan (D-OH), who are skirting the gray area by using Twitter, Facebook and Qik Video to talk directly with those members of the public that have signed up to do so. Culberson and Ryan send messages about what's happening on the House floor in real time, bypassing the MSM and, so far, leadership approval. This is the essence of the internet: free flowing information in real time. And as with Tivo, if you don't catch it live, watch the recording. But not all is flowing smoothly. Full congressional use of this technology is being challenged in the Democrat-controlled House.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Research shows more oil drilling will lower prices

Professor Morris Coates and another professor recently conducted a study to examine what the impact of opening up ANWR would be on today's oil prices. Their conclusions speak for themselves:
"We find that oil that is expected to reach the market some years hence has an immediate impact on oil prices," and that "if oil firms were allowed to drill in ANWR and many of the other areas that are currently off limits to oil production, it is possible that these areas together might have a significant impact on world oil prices."
That is, "will lower prices." When these two authors - both economics professors - submitted their findings for publications to a prestigious energy journal, what was the response from the rarified world of economists? It was rejection -- but not for the reasons opponents of opening up new areas for oil and gas exploration would like to believe. No, their study was rejected because their conclusions were so obvious and so well-known - since the 1960s in the field of economics -- that the two authors were not offering up anything new that merited publication. Letter from Energy Journal
Although the referees, and I, are in agreement with your basic argument, I regret to say that we will not be able to publish this work. Basically, your main result (the present impact of an anticipated future supply change) is already known to economists. If Hotelling didn’t exactly spell this out in his original article, certainly Herfindahl and others had done so by the 1960s. It is our policy to publish only original research that adds significantly to the body of received knowledge regarding energy markets and policy.
All the economists know it. How about distinguished Senator Maria Cantwell?
How about the people of Alaska? Governor Sarah Palin says that developing ANWR would benefit them. Cross posted at Sound Politics. Via Newt Gingrich.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Profit for Algore, cattle car for you

Albert Gore Jr. continues in form. He repeatedly wants you and me to leave our cars and ride his buses. His limo habit is well documented, except for a few well chosen photo ops. And his two mansions each use as much energy as several homes of the peons.
New source: Washington Post "Making Gore's Switch Isn't Quite So Simple" For the Goreacle: Profit Digital Rules By Rich Karlgaard:
Follow the money and you'll find it. Al Gore is a partner at the prominent West Coast venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. The ex-veep and Nobel Prize winner is the most politically connected member of KPCB's "green tech team." KPCB is a justly famous VC firm. It funded Genentech, Compaq, Sun and Google, among others. Since 1972 the San Francisco/Menlo Park firm--under the first-generation leadership of Tom Perkins, Gene Kleiner and Brook Byers and, since the early 1990s, under John Doerr--has performed dazzlingly well for its limited partners. The best guess is annualized returns north of 40%. But KPCB hasn't had a big hit since Google. And now, according to this Fortune story, KPCB has bet the farm on green technology. Al Gore is a visionary (if you like him) or a fraud (if you don't). Drain the emotion and a more accurate description of Gore emerges. He's a lobbyist.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Returning to Sound Politics

I am returning to regular posting at Sound Politics after self-imposed retraining. I was a contributer from the beginning, but I was spending my time on other things, so first posted irregularly, then not at all for about a year. I will focus on what encourages economic growth - taxes, less regulation... and freedom, as I do on my own blog: Bush lifts executive ban on oil; price drops Of course at my blog I hit my own interests - Lava lovers live with danger in Hawaii - Chocolate is good for everyone - Great radio: Rush channeling Clinton I had forgotten how much fun it is to post my analysis and opinions then get immediate feed back with almost all of it on-topic. It's good to rejoin old blogging friends Stefan and Jim Miller and to join new ones - Eric, Don, Pudge, Warren and Juvenal?. Part-way I broke my pelvis while riding home from work on May 13. I never imagined a cycling injury could put me out of work for more than a month: 9 weeks so far, expecting 12. And I appreciate that I am expected to fully recover; some injuries leave you maimed for life - incomplete spinal cord injuries. Life is not bad. I take only off-the-shelf ibuprofen and have had only low pain from the time of the accident. I can drive; I am getting together with old friends. But the healing is getting most of my energy. I don't have the energy to work more than a couple hours a day - even telecommuting. Broken pelvis update Now take it easy on me. No don't!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Insult to France

I was an increasing fan of the Tour de France the last 5 or so years. I was getting to know the top riders and even the teams. But the pervasive doping caused me to lose all interest in the middle of the 2007 tour. I was even watching it on TV every day and I can easily go a month without watching. Don't blame the French. Indeed have compassion for them. Their biggest sporting event is being ruined by foreigners. I don't recall any French rider being caught in drug scandal; they don't dare embarrass their own country. During the 2007 Tour one start was held up by riders protesting the doping. I thought it was dumb at the time. But later I realized the doping is the French against the world, as we see. I gave up in disgust when during the same week the race leader, Michael Rasmussen of Denmark, a respected rider, and my favorite Vinokourov of Khazahstan were tossed. I quit watching. This year it continues: Riccardo Ricco of Italy, the race leader having won two stages, was kicked out. Manuel Beltran of Spain was sent home on July 11. Again, note that none of the offenders are French. Feel for the French. It's hard for me also even though I have enjoyed 22 interesting days there from Paris to Chamonix to Marseille and Toulouse to the Cote Vermeille.

China's Potemkin Olympics

China will do anything - anything - to look good for the Olympics. Friends who recently spent a few weeks there tell us that, despite building many hotels, they are tightly controlling the number of non-Chinese visitors. They want just a few for the cameras, but they will fill the stadiums with Chinese. They are even telling their ringer spectators which country to root for! After all, how excited will they get for a contest between Belgium and Chile? Air pollution is a huge problem in Beijing. So what do they do? Shut down half the city for the 3 weeks before! LA cut way down on driving during the 1984 Olympics, but nothing like this. Yahoo! News:
Half of Beijing's 3.3 million vehicles will be pulled off the roads and many polluting factories will be shuttered. Chemical plants, power stations and foundries left open have to cut emissions by 30 percent — and dust-spewing construction in the capital will be halted. In a highly stage-managed Olympics aimed at showing off the rising power of the 21st century, no challenge is greater than producing crystalline air for 10,500 of the world's greatest athletes. "Pea-soup air at the opening ceremony would be their worst nightmare," said Victor Cha, director of Asian Studies at Georgetown University... A World Bank study found China is home to 16 of the 20 worst cities for air quality. Three-quarters of the water flowing through urban areas is unsuitable for drinking or fishing.
They have been struggling to clean the grossly polluted water at the sailing venue for several weeks now. Not to make it safe, just to look good. I am sure we will see some degree of this with the winter Olympics at Whistler and Vancouver, BC. But only a shadow of this.

Cantwell tackles investors

Senator Maria Cantwell says commodity investors are enemies of the state, because the price of oil went up. She decided that the run up in oil prices is due to an evil genus of people called speculators. Not due to the tight supply and rising demand in China and other developing countries. In this case she might not be doing much damage. (In other cases she is.) She is blocking the nominations of three people to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
Cantwell ... and others think that speculators have driven up the price of oil and could be responsible for more than $1 of the cost of a gallon of gasoline at the pump.
She should close down the NY Stock Exchange, NASDAQ, all of them. Because people and pension funds go there intending to sin: to buy and make a profit. But she compounds this action with ignorance of basic economics:
Cantwell and most Democrats oppose lifting the offshore-drilling ban. They quote the Department of Energy as saying that offshore oil and gas wells wouldn’t come online for seven to 10 years and the impact on prices would be insignificant.
Notice that they never trust "Bush!" and his administration except when they can take administration statements out of context to advantage. Any increase in supply will tend to decrease prices, even one years in the future. See my unpublished letter to the SeaTimes on the same ignorance in an establishment spokesman. Question for Senator Cantwell: I bought my house hoping to sell it at a profit. Am I a speculator? Are you proposing a law to prevent me from profiting on the sale of my home? Question for Senator Cantwell: The price of oil went down 12% this week. Do the speculators get credit for this? Hat tip to Orbus. Cross posted at Sound Politics. My first entry in about a year.

Friday, July 18, 2008

EJ Dionne and gasoline price reality

Here is a letter I sent to the Sea Times today: Editor, EJ Dionne on 7/18 authoritatively ignores the lessons of economics. It is not the magic that Dionne is seeking. It is the law of Supply and Demand - more supply of oil lowers the prices. Dionne should read this week's news. President Bush announced the end of an administrative ban on oil and natural gas drilling in certain off-shore areas on Monday. The price of crude oil dropped from $147 to $129. That is a 12 per cent drop in one week. Again: more supply causes a lower price. Strategist James Carville is looking for a compelling narrative on the high price of gas. Instead of looking for a story the Democrats should take action to increase the supply. It will work again. But a narrative does not lower prices. Ron Hebron Lake Forest Park, WA

Physicists org reversed its stance on global warming

The physicists' professional society, American Physical Society, with 50,000 member, has reversed its stance on climate change and is now proclaiming that many of its members disbelieve in human-induced global warming. Daily Tech
There is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution." The APS is opening its debate with the publication of a paper by Lord Monckton of Brenchley, which concludes that climate sensitivity -- the rate of temperature change a given amount of greenhouse gas will cause -- has been grossly overstated by IPCC modeling. A low sensitivity implies additional atmospheric CO2 will have little effect on global climate. Larry Gould, Professor of Physics at the University of Hartford and Chairman of the New England Section of the APS, called Monckton's paper an "expose of the IPCC that details numerous exaggerations and "extensive errors" In an email to DailyTech, Monckton says, "I was dismayed to discover that the IPCC's 2001 and 2007 reports did not devote chapters to the central 'climate sensitivity' question, and did not explain in proper, systematic detail the methods by which they evaluated it. When I began to investigate, it seemed that the IPCC was deliberately concealing and obscuring its method." According to Monckton, there is substantial support for his results, "in the peer-reviewed literature, most articles on climate sensitivity conclude, as I have done, that climate sensitivity must be harmlessly low." Monckton, who was the science advisor to Britain's Thatcher administration, says natural variability is the cause of most of the Earth's recent warming. "In the past 70 years the Sun was more active than at almost any other time in the past 11,400 years ... Mars, Jupiter, Neptune’s largest moon, and Pluto warmed at the same time as Earth."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bush lifts ban on U.S. offshore drilling, prices drop - Update

Test: President Bush lifted an executive order that banned offshore drilling for oil and gas along much of the coastline of the US. Oil prices dropped over the next two days. Did ending the ban cause the drop in prices? Should it have? Bush lifts presidential ban on U.S. offshore drilling - CBC Prices in market exchange reflect the expectations of future prices of the underlying commodity. If people expect the future price of crude oil to drop they will pay less for the "future" that is traded on the exchanges and in many cases for the price for immediate delivery. But Senate Majority Leader Harry says it won't help. The Hill:
Reid criticized President Bush’s announcement earlier in the day to rescind a longstanding executive order banning offshore oil drilling, saying it was a gift to the oil companies that are not exploring for oil in 68 millions of acres available to them.
Distinguished Senator Reid can ignore economics, more likely he know nothing of its power to predict. This is the Econ 201 Supply and Demand. But he sends us the bill for his ignorance. And the "not exploring 68 x 10^6 acres" is a red herring. The records don't show the acres being tested, etc., only those in production. Much of the acreage is going through the processes of deciding if, where and when to drill and produce. And his spokesminions say it will take too long to affect prices in the near term. Wrong. The impact on near-term prices is lower for longer term expected commodity prices drops, but it still exists, like we saw this week. The answer to both questions is YES. Update. There are additional possible factors. Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Bernanke said the economy is weakening. This bad news leads to good news. The weaker economy will lessen the demand for gasoline and petroleum products and lower the price of crude oil. This news probably influenced the drop in oil prices. Thanks to Hugh Hewitt at Townhall

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Card-Carrying Democrat

Just the link: The Sam Adams Alliance Every year Tim Eyman in Washington state comes up with some new initiative to limit taxes or make government more accountable. So of course politicians and media people are furious with him. For years he’s been a member of the Republican Party. But not long ago he joined his county’s Democratic Party. And was surprised to find himself welcomed, at home. He admits he shouldn’t have been surprised. Sure, his tax limitation measures really vex politicians. But they don’t bother most Democrats. Indeed, one savvy Democrat explained it all to him on his first night in the party. The man said he had never known a Democrat who wanted his taxes to be higher just “so we can waste them on an ineffective government program.”

Fake Steve and real Steve

Life and ended for Fake Steve and begun anew for real Steve. After a hilarous run Fake Steve got a job and hung up his parody. Journalist (can't find his name right now; always calls himself "Fake Steve") posted a daily blog pretending he was Steve Jobs with all his characteristics - arrogant, inside knowledge, hyper sensitive, off the deep end of the new age. etc. It was a riot to read how Steve might have reacted to the news of the day, such as : After Yahoo blew the opportunity to be bought out by Microsoft - they rejected it - "Jerry Yang called last night crowing about how he showed Steve Balmer to the door. Followed the next day by "Jerry called crying, asking how he blew it so bad." Real Steve Jobs is being exonerated in the investigation of back dating options. It always looked like jealous bean counter tripping up the successful without showing their faces. Wall Street Journal No official announcement, but it looks over.

Monday, July 14, 2008

I love my Mac, but

I have had more trouble with this black Macbook than my 5 previous Macs. I feared that battery had failed, but it's just the charger. It should be covered under the warranty. My hard disk crashed last month. I am enjoying church camp at beautiful Warm Beach on a bluff above the delta of the Stillaguamish River, 40 miles north of Seattle. My pelvis injury slows me down - way down - but I do what I can, then go to my view room to rest.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Illegal to not produce more oil?

Yes. Mark Steyn didn't make this up; he observed: The US Congress passed a bill that makes it illegal to not produce oil. ? Illegal to NOT produce oil? But they continually pass bills that make it illegal TO produce oil? Easily explained. It is illegal to increase or maintain the production, etc. of oil in the US. This is for outside the US. What? Boss Nancy Pelosi and her brave crew are suing OPEC for not producing more oil and colluding to not do so. LA Times covers this story with a straight face. The graphic: The Democratics promised that if they were given control of Congress in 2006 they would stop the cruel increase in the cost of gasoline caused by Bush! (They never, ever say President Bush.) In less than 18 months, by this spring Pelosi had accomplished a 70% increase in the retail prices of gasoline, more now.

On the beach

I went to the beach to mow. Have you seen a guy on crutches with weight on only one foot mow? Please no jr. high jokes now; that's the kind we told! I sincerely thought I could use our gas-powered week eater while on crutches. I had trouble getting it out of the van! Saved by the golf club. We have a scythe shaped like a golf club. It's so light a cripple can swing it. In July mowing the grass at our cabin is just whacking the flowers off the dandelions. So I could do it with my very limited strength and energy. (The crutches are the least of my problems; my healing is so deep that it takes most of my energy.) Sunset at Case Inlet.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

English is the universal language

Red Herring alert: Senator Obama uses one of the oldest tricks in the politician's book. He accuses his opponent of something opponent did not do. Then tears him up for what he did not do. Obama accused McCain of proposing "English only," which, I presume, is not allowing any other language to be spoken in the USA. McCain proposed making English the official language of the US, which would require that all government communication be in English, but does not otherwise restrict the speaking of Spanish or any other language. Red State Obama ignores the fact that Americans speak English in Europe, in part, because everyone else does. English is the language of the world. We did a half-day elephant "trek" in Pattaya, Thailand last year. The entire tour was conducted in English, of course. There were about 50 people from Russia, Europe, India, Malta, the US and we were together for 3 to 4 hours. My wife and I were the only native speakers of English. If there were no universal language this business would have to conduct several tours in specific languages and many customers would either stay away or go on a tour where they understood little or nothing. Speaking English in other countries may be the favorite sin of American elitists, but it is how the woman from Brazil speaks to people from Norway, Japan and Vanuatu. And it's how she communicates with the hotel desk clerk. The elephant trek was a highlight of our trip. We have a photo of the khan - elephant trainer - speaking on his cell phone while riding on the elephant's neck. Update. Time Magazine says that the French are the most despised Western tourists - impolite, prone to loud carping and inattentive to local customs. Most Obnoxious Tourists? The French - Yahoo! News:
American tourists top the list of tourists credited with trying to speak local languages the most, with the French, Chinese, Japanese, Italians and Russians coming in last in the local language rankings
John Hinderaker observes:
Does Obama really not know that for the last several decades, every school district in America has been relentlessly pushing the study of foreign languages? Is he unaware that it is now commonplace for American high school students to travel abroad in school groups to practice their German, French, Spanish, Japanese, and so on?

Barney's grab and PC quick hits

Congressman Barney provides entertainment without charge: "Behold the Taunton River in Fall River, Massachusetts, pictured nearby. Congressman Barney Frank thinks your family would love to visit this scenic wilderness. Among its attractions are the fuel-storage tanks along the eastern shore. The container ships and piers are always a hit with the children looking for a place to romp. This could be America's next 'wild and scenic river,' if Mr. Frank gets his way. Last month the powerful Congressman pushed a bill through the House Natural Resources Committee that would give the Taunton River that designation under federal law. Stack of Stuff Quick Hits Page: PC Quick Hits "Toddlers who say 'yuck' when given flavorful foreign food may be exhibiting racist behavior, a British government-sponsored organization says. The London-based National Children's Bureau released a 366-page guide counseling adults on recognizing racist behavior in young children, The Telegraph reported Monday. Breitbart In Dallas, TX: ... who is white, said it seemed that central collections 'has become a black hole' because paperwork reportedly has become lost in the office. Commissioner John Wiley Price, who is black, interrupted him with a loud 'Excuse me!' He then corrected his colleague, saying the office has become a 'white hole.' That prompted Judge Thomas Jones, who is black, to demand an apology from Mayfield for his racially insensitive analogy." Dallas City Hall blog

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Bill O’Reilly takes out Paul Krugman

The Krugman Truth Squad reports that Big Bill took on the distinguished professor and took him out. Donald Luskin on Paul Krugman and Bill O’Reilly on NRO Financial: O'Reilly: ... Mr. Krugman was dead 100 percent wrong in his columns, uh, two years ago when he said the Bush tax cuts would lead to a deeper recession. You can read his book and see how wrong he was. Krugman: Actually, you can read it. I never said that. I said it would lead to lousy job creation. O’Reilly: Column after column after column. You made the point, in your book, okay, that these cuts, these tax cuts were going to be disastrous for the economy. Krugman: Nope ... O'Reilly: They haven’t been. Krugman: Uh, uh, I’m sorry. That’s a lie. Let me just say, that’s a lie. O’Reilly: It’s not a lie. Krugman: It’s a lie. Krugman’s the liar, not O’Reilly. It’s just too bad O’Reilly didn’t have a quotation at hand to prove it. Among dozens of possible examples, Krugman wrote in his April 22, 2003, New York Times column that
Aside from their cruelty and their adverse effect on the quality of life, these cuts will be a major drag on the national economy. … it’s clear that the administration’s tax-cut obsession isn’t just busting the budget; it’s also indirectly destroying jobs by preventing any rational response to a weak economy.

Does the U.S. Realize we have Competition?

Being the largest economy in the world we tend to think the world revolves around us. We are recently very aware of the impact of other countries - oil prices, foreign control, I mean investment. But we tend to see these as external forces like the wind - we can't do anything about it. Bob Herbold retired as Exec VP and COO at Microsoft; his wife Patricia is a chemist, attorney and former US ambassador to Singapore. He explains how the choices we make in policies affect our competitive position vs. other countries. Yes, we can do something. We give competitive advantage to the countries that have lower capital gains taxes - almost all of the major countries - and corporate income taxes (which is double taxation). I don't share his hope in higher taxes and government directed research. We need to focus on the government removing the barriers to innovation rather than trying to direct the successful technologies. Many of these issues must be worked at the national level. What can we do at the state, regional and local levels? Puget Sound Business Journal via Discovery Institute
Living half time in Asia for the last two and half years has taught me that many countries around the world are tightly focused on competing with other countries for energy resources and global talent, as well as creating a solid financial foundation for their country and an attractive environment for multi-national companies to run their businesses. Unfortunately, in my opinion, very few people in the U.S., and even fewer in Washington DC, seem to realize this. ... This is in stark contrast to many countries around the globe such as China, several Middle East countries, Norway, Singapore and Russia, which generate a profit each year, based on smart management of their natural resources, very low corporate tax rates which attract multi-national companies and increase total tax revenue for the country, and smart investment of cash reserves. What is needed is for citizens to get very mad, and to put intense pressure on their legislators to stop treating U.S. budget as an infinite source of funds, and to begin managing the country as a business.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Singing Revolution showing in Langley, Washington, the state - update

The movie Singing Revolution will be showing in Langley, Washington through Sept 2 to 4, 2008 on beautiful Whidbey Island. We saw it in Tacoma in early July. It is very inspiring. It is particularly effective that the 2008 interviews are with people who are recognizable in the historic footage. So it ties today with 1947, 1969 and 1987. See my recent entry. Review in Seattle Times

Reality hits eco heroes

Europe is committed to Kyoto and its rules including limiting CO2 emissions; they are very critical of the US not signing Kyoto. They would never backslide like "Bush!" would. But France, Denmark, et al, can only ignore economic reality up to a point. And the tipping point is the situation today. The cost of the raw materials, the impact on food prices and the demand to put virgin land into farm production.
European officials proposed scaling back drastically on their goal of increasing Europe’s use of biofuels, a major about-face on a central environmental and energy issue. At the same time, a new report by the British government cast fresh doubt on fuels made from crops as a way to the fight climate change. Until recently, European governments had sought to lead the rest of the world in the use of biofuels, aiming to derive 10 percent of Europe’s transportation fuels from biofuels by 2020. But the allure has dimmed amid growing evidence that the kind of goals proposed by the European Union are contributing to deforestation, which speeds climate change, and helping force up food prices. “I think when we will look back we will say this was the beginning of a turning point for Europe on biofuels,” said Juan Delgado, a research fellow specializing in energy and climate change at Breugel, a research organization in Brussels. “It will be very difficult now for Europe to stick by its targets.”
So the Europeans might violate holy Kyoto! How can they blame Bush for that? Do you think they are taking the right tack? Leave a comment.

How many 747s have you lost this month?

Are you having a bad month? Imagine the headaches at US nonscheduled airline Klitta. 2 and counting. Flight International
US cargo carrier Kalitta Air appears to be the operator of a Boeing 747 freighter which crashed near the Colombian capital Bogota today, the second Kalitta 747 to have been written off in less than two months.

Monday, July 07, 2008

One bright spot in energy supply

Some oil exploration is being allowed by Congress - by the Republicans in 2006, not the Democrat Luddites. An agreement was made to protect most of Florida's coast in exchange for "developing" an area 125 miles off shore. 125 miles. Note that that is farther off-shore than the Chinese are now drilling! If the Demos are betting that preventing more supply of energy is a winning issue they might get a big surprise in November. Business & Technology | Florida may signal boom in coastal oil drilling | Seattle Times Newspaper:
Oil companies once viewed drilling in the deep waters off Florida as cost-prohibitive. Politicians feared even the slightest sign of support would be career suicide. No more. Record crude-oil prices are fueling support for oil and natural-gas exploration off the nation's shores. In Florida, the movement was under way even before President Bush called on Congress last month to lift a federal moratorium that's barred new offshore drilling since 1981. The early activity here stems from a 2006 congressional compromise that allows drilling on 8.3 million acres more than 125 miles off the Panhandle — an area that had been covered by the moratorium, which was enacted out of environmental concerns. In exchange, the state got a no-drilling buffer along the rest of its beaches. ... If oil or natural-gas deposits are found in the newly opened region, experts say it could further the push to explore other once-protected areas everywhere.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

US removes uranium from Iraq

WMDs in Iraq? Yes. We knew Saddam had a program of WMD development since shortly after the invasion. The big mystery is why President Bush doesn't defend himself or does so like Winnie the Pooh - quietly so he doesn't disturb anyone. My Way News The last major remnant of Saddam Hussein's nuclear program - a huge stockpile of concentrated natural uranium - reached a Canadian port Saturday to complete a secret U.S. operation that included a two-week airlift from Baghdad and a ship voyage crossing two oceans

Knife control needed

Gun control didn't stop people from attacking and killing each other. Duh. Now they need to take away the knives. The Observer:
An armed police officer wearing protective clothing stands guard on Whitehall in London. Stab and bullet-proof vests are being ordered in their tens of thousands to protect public sector employees from increased levels of aggression. Photograph: Matt Dunham/AP The growing fear of knife crime in Britain is forcing hospital trusts and local authorities to supply body armour to frontline workers, including A&E staff, hospital porters, teachers, benefits officers and traffic wardens. Stab and bullet-proof vests are being ordered in their tens of thousands to protect employees from increased levels of aggression, a move described as 'a shameful indictment of violence in Britain today'.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

30 billion fewer miles driven by Americans

Tell me again that Americans are addicted to oil.... Addicts don't turn on a dime; they continue their harmful behavior despite the irrational cost. That this is happening demonstrates a law of economics. Everyone makes their own calculation of the marginal value of gasoline. That is, everyone decides whether it's worth it to drive versus taking the bus, whether to make a trip or not, whether to ride with someone else... what car to buy, etc. 30 billion fewer miles were driven by Americans in the past 6 months according to estimates by AAA. The greenies welcome this news because it helps them justify their rail transit systems that cost 5 times per trip over driving. An exaggeration, right? The Sounder trains are far worse. I welcome it because with every person making the best decisions for her family we will lessen the impact of increased energy prices more than government programs and with fewer, smaller distortions in other areas. Distortions such as adding capacity where the mayor's son lives, rather than where a thousand more people will benefit. Seattle Times Newspaper:
Motorists have driven roughly 30 billion fewer miles in the past six months compared with the same period a year ago, according to federal government estimates. Meanwhile, commuters took 10.3 billion trips on public transportation last year, the most in 50 years — when the population was about 60 percent the current size — according to the American Public Transportation Association. Ridership is up 3.3 percent in the first three months of 2008 and 30 percent since 1995. Those trends suggest growing numbers of Americans are reaching their tipping points in how much they'll spend for the freedom and luxury of personal automobile transportation.

Have a Happy Day

Few people know that Seattle has a manufacturer of mega-yachts. Delta Marine is located on the muddy Duwamish River across from Boeing's Developmental Center. One of their larger designs is Happy Days. Of course a 164 foot yacht is mega by our standards, but not by Paul Allen's. He has more than one larger yacht, including Octopus, which we saw in Kona last February, at 417 feet! Yes, this posting is about economic development. Jobs, you know. 
Does someone else's riches make me poorer? Does knowing about it? 
Love not the world nor the things in it. I John 2:15
Click on the photo to enlarge.

Friday, July 04, 2008


Use consumers to design products and to help figure which ones to sell. I am always watching for new ideas that lead to increased productivity or better products. Ryz, Portland startup, is helping companies use the internet to solicit product designs from the public, then to run polls on popular product designs. First replace in-house design, saving money. Second, replace market research. It's Wikipedia for products and markets. Though not so open. Seattle Times
"It's a more economic model," said Eric von Hippel, a management professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of the 2005 book "Democratizing Innovation." "The users are making designs, and other users are getting to choose the ones they like. The first function replaces in-house research and development. The second function replaces marketing research," he said. "If you're looking at it from a manufacturer's point of view, you're exporting all these costs."
Prof. von Hippel knows better than to say outsourcing all those costs, which it is! The article also shows clues that flexible production of shoes is bringing us the era of "group" shoes, like T shirts 25 years ago: it is now economical to manufacture a custom design for a run of a few dozen shoe pairs. Personalized T shirts arrived about 10 years ago; personalized shoes soon?


I updated and added to the description of my accident and recovery Broken Pelvis

Independence Day

Happy 4th Benjamin Franklin and the Continental Congress - July 4, 1776

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Greatest Hits

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Has this lowly blog had any significant entries? It's time for Greatest Hits I. Prince Albert Gore received the Nobel Memorial Prize for Peace last year. His receiving this prize for his fact-free scare mongering has led many people to suggest: "Let's honor someone who did something that contributed to peace in some nation, state, city or neighborhood on this Earth" A few nominees:
the Burmese monks whose defiance against, and brutalization at the hands of, the country's military junta in recent weeks captured the attention of the Free World. The prize was also not awarded to Morgan Tsvangirai, Arthur Mutambara and other Zimbabwe opposition leaders who were arrested and in some cases beaten by police earlier this year while protesting peacefully against dictator Robert Mugabe. Or to Father Nguyen Van Ly, a Catholic priest in Vietnam arrested this year and sentenced to eight years in prison for helping the pro-democracy group Block 8406. Or to Wajeha al-Huwaider and Fawzia al-Uyyouni, co-founders of the League of Demanders of Women's Right to Drive Cars in Saudi Arabia, who are waging a modest struggle with grand ambitions to secure basic rights for women in that Muslim country. Or to Colombian President Àlvaro Uribe, who has fought tirelessly to end the violence wrought by left-wing terrorists and drug lords in his country. Or to Garry Kasparov and the several hundred Russians who were arrested in April, and are continually harassed, for resisting President Vladimir Putin's slide toward authoritarian rule. [... many more ...] These men and women put their own lives and livelihoods at risk by working to rid the world of violence and oppression. Let us hope they survive the coming year so that the Nobel Prize Committee might consider them for the 2008 award.
This was posted on Economic Freedom in November, 2007 Do you have a favorite entry? Please nominate your favorite entry by posting a comment. Explore the archives by month along the left margin.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Fired for claiming to be born in 1945

It's a very exclusive club - the last of the War Babies. No wonder he wants in. He also like his prestigious job where he has to do nothing but butter up the right people and attend contentless meetings. Financial Times
Industrialised countries led by the US, the European Union and Switzerland have called for the resignation of Kamil Idris, head of the World Intellectual Property Organisation, in the wake of scandals that, the EU says, have "compromised" his leadership. Mr Idris, a Sudanese national who has the backing of African nations, has vigorously rejected the resignation demand, alleging a deliberate campaign of harassment and destabilisation over the past three years.
Update. I forgot to mention what year I was born. This is a great offense to us "end of war" babies. I was born after the German surrender in April, but before the Japanese in August.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Siberian June

The first week of this June was the coldest in Seattle since 1891, according to UW metrologist Cliff Mass. This year was the worst year of the barbecue index since 1917," said Mass. "We only got to 60 degrees 23 times this year. Compare that to 1934 (74) times or 1992 (69) times."
The "barbecue" index. That's the number of times since March 11 (the usual start of spring here) temperature climbs to 60 degrees or more — a temperature that Mass thinks people are comfortable being outside in. How about if you compare this year to the average, Mass? It's easy sensationalism to compare to the worst ever.
The coldest spring in record keeping history was 1917. This year is tied with 1908 for 2nd coldest as of June 9th, he said. The warmest spring was 1934.

Seattle Times

Seattle is the rainiest city, right? We are in a B league at best. The contenders for rain champion haven't heard of cool Seattle. Have you heard of Reunion? A remote island in the Indian Ocean.

12 feet of rain in 3 days. And this is not so remote that people don't live there - Hellbourg, Reunion - 3/13/08

Jeff Masters' WX blog

I am looking for official data for June to focus this. The SeaTimes prints the stats for the month on the first day of the following months. But it wasn't in today.