Whorled View

January 30, 2008

2008 Election: High School Antics Galore

It seems to get worse every day, but this last week takes the cake.  I was watching CBS World News last night like I always do (I like Charlie, even if he is dumber than a box of rocks, and even if he defers to the conniving Stephanopolis for political opinion).  They had a 5 minute segment on whether Obama “snubbed” Clinton, with pictures and everything as she reached out to shake Kennedy’s hand while Obama was looking the other way.

5 minutes!   Of course, the story was centered on Hillary being offended, and Obama saying it was nothing (while, interestingly, never admitting that it was unintentional).

Then there was the Caroline Kennedy endorsement … why?  Because she said her teenage daughter thought it would be cool if he won.   The press is now making a big deal about “Camelot courting Obama”.   Camelot?  More like Cram-a-lot.  I think I’m going to be sick.

Then there’s the big deal the MSM is making about Romney being such a big meany to everyone.  I can’t turn on the TV (which has been far more focused on this than written news) without hearing Romney with his millions is a big meany to Huckabee, he’s a big meany to McCain, and he’s a big meany to Giuliani.  NEWS FLASH: It’s politics and the door swings both ways.  While the other candidates pretend to have fragile ego’s that get hurt when someone brings up their political record, I’m grateful that somebody is pointing out what the MSM is helping the other candidates bury.

Here’s a fun experiment you can try on your own.: Tonight, tomorrow, whenever, I don’t care because it happens almost every night right now, watch CBS Evening News and wait until they get to the political commentary by Stephanopolis.  Everytime he’ll mention the criticisms leveled against Romney, but not mention Romney’s response, and then he’ll throw in his own 2 cents about how the public as a whole consistently thinks Romney lacks character and integrity.  Then he’ll either: 1) not mention the exact criticism leveled against Romney’s competition (whoever it might be at the time), or spend more time on how unfair Romney’s attack was giving far more time to the response of Romney’s allegations than the allegations themselves.

It’d be hilarious really if it wasn’t such an egregious abuse of the their media monopoly, but that’s not what really bugs me.  It’s that nothing is about the issues anymore.  It’s all devolved into a high-school-ish popularity contest surrounding the idea of who is nicest and most deserving, not who’s best for the job.  I hated that part of high school, but people like me aren’t in charge of the media so we put up with it.  What else can you do when you’re surrounded by full grown adolescents who own the airwaves?

January 24, 2008

70% Solar Energy by 2050: Scientific American

Probably one of the best layman articles on the subject from a contemporary perspective except for one major problem. Nevertheless it’s worth a good read. Check it out: http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=a-solar-grand-plan

The problem: Once again it places more emphasis on Solar PV than Solar thermal. It pretends to justify this by throwing around some magical numbers that at this point are pure theory and highly unlikely. Compare that to Solar thermal where the numbers are even better and are proven.

Case in point: It says Cadmium Telluride (nanosolar film) will be able to produce electricity for $0.05/kWh by 2020. This is based on the theory that they can get efficiencies up to 14%. I’m sorry, but I’m quite convinced that in order to do that they’ll have to enable some technologies that will up the price of the manufacturing enough to blow that number out of the water. They think they can improve the efficiency by 40%, based on what? Silicon solar efficiencies have improved maybe 10% in the last 20 years? Sure Cadmium Telluride went from 8% to 9% in the last year, but they’re approaching a ceiling that will get extremely hard to raise. My guess is that it will top out at 12%, which leaves solar PV maxing out at $0.06/kWh assuming all other costs stay the same, which they won’t. Add to that $0.04 /kWh for storage and you get 0.10/kWh, AND YOU HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL 2020 TO SEE THAT RESULT.

Compare that to Ausra’s Solar thermal technology which by 2013 should produce electricity, including storage, at $0.07 /kWh.

HELLO!? Am I the only one running these numbers? Solar Thermal is so superior. Nothing, I repeat: NOTHING should go toward the development of something that will cost more near term and long term than Solar Thermal will.

Two more reasons Solar thermal is better:

TIME TO MARKET: Unlike any kind of Solar PV solar thermal uses no fancy technology. It uses no special materials that require special processing. The materials and the parts and pieces that make solar thermal plants are found all throughout existing industrial parks across America -and at bargain prices. All you need is the money to buy them (tons cheaper than what Solar PV factories cost), and people to build them (requires no special training or science). All these things are in stark contrast to the supply problems that have plagued the Solar PV industry. Solar PV, whether it’s thin film or otherwise, will never be able to scale up at the rate that the Scientific American author suggests. The materials and processing equipment demands are just too great even if the money was there … can’t be done.

LIFETIME: A solar thermal plant lasts almost forever if cared for correctly. Sure parts of the turbine needs replacing as with any turbine including the ones used by SolarPV to reconvert pressurized gas to electricity, but thats about it. No solar cells to replace. The mirrors last forever. The dewar tubes containing the molten salt or H2O (Ausra’s technology) should last a very long time if maintained right. Compare that to SolarPV where the life of the Solar Cells is 20-30 years at the most. Also you’ll have to replace the compressors as well as the turbines parts in the Solar PV plant (incidentally solar thermal needs no compressors – another bonys). Can you imagine that? With a Solar PV plant you’re replacing practically the whole plant every 20-30 years. Not so with Solar Thermal.

In short, media bias favoring Solar PV once again garners unworthy support, thereby siphoning off the funds from Solar Thermal, possibly in order to fatten the wallets of those who invest in Solar PV (Al Gore) or work for the industry. Solar PV, even in Cadmium Telluride thin films will forever be inferior, less efficient, and a more expensive technology than Solar thermal. Articles like this that have some fantastic information and promote the use of the Sun’s rays almost do more bad than good by obfuscating the issue and guaranteeing that our hard earned tax dollars will be taken away from Solar Thermal and reinvested in Solar PV assuming that Solar PV will someday meet the magic numbers that it was supposed to achieve 20-30 years ago, and neither will we solve our energy problems as quickly as we could if all the funds went to something like what Ausra does (www.ausra.com).

January 22, 2008

Online Quiz: Who would you vote for?

Filed under: Politics — lullabyman @ 10:31 pm

Try this: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/projects/ongoing/select_a_candidate/poll.php?race_id=13

I did this. Boy the results sure came out wacky the first time … not at all what I expected. I figured it was because I didn’t really differentiate “feel strongly” vs. “not too important”. So I went back and weighted my answers like I should have the first time. Also if I was undecided I put “not too important” even though the issue was important to me, because I figured it was better to not have that issue factored in if I was undecided on it.

I think it must throw out anything you assign “not too important” because my results were very blocky into 3 groups, as if I didn’t provide enough votes. Anyway here’s what they came out:

1st place 3-way tie: Romney, Hunter, or McCain

2nd place 3-way tie: Giuliani, Huckabee, Clinton (yeah, weird … Clinton!)

last place Edwards, Gravel, Kucinich, Obama, Paul.

Interesting if you look at the results of everyone’s overall votes, until you realize – it’s an NPR website. Duh! Would you expect anyone else but Obama and Edwards to lead the votes. No wonder “Iraq” is the highest rated issue.

Anyway … very cool. Take the test, make sure you weight your answers right (assign “not important” to the one’s your not sure about so it isn’t used).

January 15, 2008

Iraq … 2018 and we’re still there?

Filed under: Uncategorized — lullabyman @ 7:11 pm

In my last blog entry I said that if we hope to leave a country that won’t implode into a terrorist state then we need to give Iraq as long as we had to create and ratify a constitution. The year I gave was 2016, based solely on how long it took our Founding Fathers to do the same thing, but under much more amenable circumstances.

Today the New York Times is running a story where Iraq also is saying that they will need help until at least 2018. At least with the borders. They will be able to completely take over the internal security by 2012, which is where most of our efforts are currently.

The truth is that border security will be a nice walk in the park compared to what we’re doing now. I know there are a lot of people who think until 2012 is outrageous, but what’s truly outrageous is that we thought we could get away with anything less when we walked into this hornet’s nest to stir things up.

January 11, 2008

Protect Iraqi Democracy until 2016

Filed under: Blogroll,muslim,partisan politics,Politics,Uncategorized,war — lullabyman @ 7:41 pm

For a couple years now the Democrats have been saying we should leave Iraq and pronto. Suggesting anything more than 2-3 years is considered outrageous at this point. Even when we invaded Iraq I doubt anyone was thinking it should have taken more than 8 years for them to create and ratify a new constitution and run a new government under that constitution. We forgot how long it took us.

When the US declared independence (1776) the war took 6 years to win that independence (1782). It then took an additional 5 years to complete the constitution – a very large document that normally takes 30 minutes to read (including signatures). Even after it was completed it took 3 years to get it fully ratified by all the states so that the government could operate with constitutional powers (1790). In all this process took 14 years among a fairly united people (compared to the people in Iraq) to create and ratify a constitution.

The democrats however want to crucify the current administration because the Iraqi’s have not completed and ratified their constitution within 6 years of gaining independence from a Bathist dictatorship. The war isn’t even over, and they think it should be completed and ratified already. It took us an additional 8 years after the war ended to do that while being free from insurgencies … so why should Iraq be expected to do it before the war is even over?

Some might say that they’ve had a working government for a couple years now so they have no excuse. On the contrary, all their efforts are tied up in fighting the insurgency and reconstruction and stabilizing the economy. Without a ratified constitution the government they have now is at best a band-aid that won’t last for very long without our constant support.

What’s more is that although there were strong differences among the US citizens in 1782, there were no divisions that came close to the disparities within Iraq. The challenges there are so much more difficult. Although they have a blueprint of many existing constitutions to help them get started, their’s is a people far different than any other truly free country. The existing constitutions may make it even more difficult for them to distinguish their national identity and satisfy all their constituents.

It just seem to me that the best way to help Iraq get a new constitution is for us to help them with the peace for as long as it took us to get our constitution. That would be 14 years from the day we invaded. That means we protect that democratic process until 2016. We made the mess, so we create an atmosphere that at least approximates the atmosphere under which our constitution was created: an atmosphere of peace, free from opposition against democratic processes. Anything less will be expecting from them far more than what we did ourselves, and frankly speaking I don’t think their current leaders are any better than were our founding fathers. They need all the help they can get just to keep with the time-line that our founding fathers followed.

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