Archive for September 2015

Council Nominations: Sept 30, 2015

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The Council Has Spoken: Sept 25, 2015

Council Winners


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Council Nominations: Sept 22, 2015

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The Council Has Spoken: Sept 18, 2015

Council Winners


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Council Nominations: Sept 16, 2015

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Honorable Mentions


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Quick Thoughts on GOP Debate #2, Sept 16, 2015

  1. Why has Scott Walker’s campaign sucked so far this year, and why hasn’t he done more to pull himself into the top tier candidates? Walker was my personal choice for 2016 after his stewardship of Wisconsin aka Sweden of the Midwest. His record as governor remains impressive, but you wouldn’t know it by his wall-flower debate performance. Truly disappointing.

  2. Huckabee is still in this? Really? If he was bumped off the debate platform would anyone notice, seriously?

  3. Trump was right about Fiorina’s experience running HP into the ground, but she would make a great VP. She has become the pit bull of the party and her comment about Clinton and Obama being forced to watch the Planned Parenthood videos reads the minds of those of us sickened by them.

  4. Trump a vaccine truther? Oh for Chrissakes does this guy embrace every possible wackadoodle extremist position just to piss people off or what?

  5. When will the GOP establishment get it through their soft skulls that we do not want Jeb Bush in 2016? We do not want Jeb Bush on a plane, we do not want Jeb Bush in the rain. We do not want him in the House, we do not want him with a mouse.

The Council Has Spoken: Sept 11, 2015

Council Winners


Non-Council Winners


September 11, 2015

Mental Drive By – Fall Edition

Hamas had a meeting at the Four Seasons hotel in Doha, Qatar in which they called for resistance against Israel in all forms, without limit. Now the Four Seasons hotel chain may be facing  prosecution for supporting terrorism. Perhaps they should change their name to Five Seasons, for Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall and Death to the Jews.

In a related note, Iranian Supreme-Double-Plus-Good Leader Ayatollah Khamenei stated Israel won’t exist in 25 years. I’m not sure about that, but I am sure that aged 76 Ayatollah Khamenei won’t exist in 25 years.

As a relocated resident of the South I’ve learned that native Southerners as a whole are decent and humble people, and I understand why they feel antagonized by the uproar over the Confederate flag. Since the church shooting in Charleston South Carolina that made the Confederate flag a symbol of hate in the eyes of many people, I can even sympathize with the urge of the locals here to show their Southern Pride by displaying the Confederate flag. These are good people, and they feel about the Confederate flag as many Irish-Americans do about the Irish flag. But one overreaction does not justify another overreaction and I’m getting kind of sick of wading through a sea of stars and bars whenever I go to local events, or being stuck behind a truck flying two of the flags behind it.

I was talking to my son and he had a similar idea: Get a pickup truck and fly the Rainbow flag alongside the Confederate flag just to see the reactions. After all one of the small towns nearby has a large lesbian contingent, so why not celebrate the confederate heritage of gay Southerners? But the locals have been pretty put upon this summer with the gay marriage ruling and the flag controversy, so they need a break. But the reaction would be interesting to say the least. Even better would be to run the social experiment in San Francisco. I’d bet we’d see more tolerance in any small North Carolina or Virginia town than we would in San Francisco.

On a related note while waiting at the mechanics for my car Matt Lauer was on the Today Show golfing with Caitlyn Jenner. The tag line at the bottom of the screen was something like Caitlyn talks make-up, dating and fashion or something like that.

Now as a libertarian I really don’t give a damn what Jenner does or what s/he wants to be called. If it doesn’t hurt anyone else I’m okay with it. In my time I’ve been around all kinds of people and even spent time at drag shows and “Diamond Nights” in Japan. Trans people don’t bother me as a rule, but there is something seriously creepy about Jenner. And it was made worse by Matt Lauer fawning all over him like some proud uncle at his niece’s bat mitzva or quinceanera.

Jenner is going to be 66 years old. I’d rather see him talking about keeping the squirrels out of his garden or how the senior discount at Denny’s just rocks out loud. But make up and dating? Maybe it’s just because I’m a generation younger than him but that just strikes me as inappropriate regardless of what bits dangle or don’t between his legs.

I have been a strong and consistent supporter of the LGBTQ-whatever community but even I’m getting sick of the attention the mass media puts on it. Being gay doesn’t make you a saint, and it sure doesn’t mean it’s okay for you to act like a pair of horny dogs in public. I don’t care what sexes you are, if the PDA gets out of hand I’m getting the garden hose. I know gays will have achieved true equality when everyone is as freaking bored with hearing about them as I am.

Council Nominations: Sept 9, 2015

Council Submissions


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19 Questions for Hillary

Ron Fournier writing at the National Journal has a must read this week, “Sorry for What, Hillary” that provides a list of 19 questions that Hillary Clinton should answer regarding the usage of her private email server. Here’s a taste:

9. Ever hear of Thomas Drake? He’s the former seni­or Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency of­fi­cial in­dicted un­der the Es­pi­on­age Act for keep­ing an agency email prin­tout at his home that was not marked as clas­si­fied. He pleaded guilty to a mis­de­mean­or. Why do you and your aides keep sug­gest­ing that it mat­ters wheth­er or not your emails were marked clas­si­fied?

Read the entire thing.

Hillary for Prison 2016

Unicorn Roadkill – When Renewable Energy Activists Meet Physics

Jalte Jansen is a researcher at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology in Kassel, Germany (that city should ring a bell for you WW2 history buffs). Jansen appears in the One Minute Interview section of my favorite socialist science magazine New Scientist, July 25, 2015 issue. In it Jansen advocates the UK implement a plan like Germany’s Energeweinde, a plan to phase out nuclear power and replace it with renewables resulting in Germany’s CO2 emissions rising at the same time energy costs are soaring. As The Economist notes, “That outcome is the exact opposite of the intentions of the original policy.” Meanwhile the US CO2 emissions have fallen due to the conversion from coal to gas fired plants, something the Germans have refused to do.

Interviewer Chris Baraniuk asks Jansen whether the UK’s power supply could become 100% renewable. Jansen answers, “Definitely,” and says the UK could base its energy needs on solar panels and wind turbines.

Is this possible? Could cloudy, northerly (for US readers the UK sits further north than Maine) Britannia supply all its energy needs from solar and wind power?

David Mackay is a physics professor at the University of Cambridge, and is a member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Climate Change. His 2009 book “Sustainable Energy – without the hot air” looks at this very question. His answer? No.

The first 17 chapters of his book lays out the energy needs of a typical Brit before turning to his physics background and calculating the energy densities and potentials for wind, solar, biomass, tidal and other renewable energy forms.

His conclusion? “For any renewable facility to make a contribution comparable to our current consumption, it has to be country-sized. To get a big contribution from wind, we [calculated] wind farms the area of Wales. To get a big contribution from solar photovoltaics, we required half the area of Wales… To sustain Britain’s lifestyle on its renewables alone would be very difficult. A renewable-based energy solution will necessarily be large and intrusive.”

He bases his conclusion on the fact that renewable energy sources tend not to be dense. Take a gallon of gasoline for example. The energy within a gallon of gasoline is roughly 40 kilowatt hours/day (kWh/d) and occupies less than a cubic foot of space. Assuming wind turbines were built on 10% of the UK’s land, “we would be able to generate 20 kWh/d per person, which is half of the power used by driving an average fossil-fuel car 50km per day.” Covering 10% of the landmass of the UK, planting wind turbines in moors, farms, gardens as well as on rooftops would provide the average Brit with the power equivalent of 1/2 a gallon of gas.

MacKay builds his argument around the consumption of energy by the average UK citizen, and then analyzes the available sources to provide that energy. Evaluating solar energy he estimates 100 square meters of roof space per person (roughly 1000 sq feet for those of us who were force fed metric during the Carter dark ages and rebelled against it during the Reagan Renaissance.) He writes, “Let’s give everyone 10m2 of expensive (20%-efficient) solar panels and put them on a south-facing roof. These will deliver4 kWh per day per person.”

The UK is a windy place but sunny it usually is not.  While on a cloud free day at midday 1000w of solar energy bathes every square meter of the equator, the UK receives about 5% of that amount thanks to it’s northerly latitude, the fact that it’s not midday all the time, and its propensity for cloudy weather. So adding a roof covered by solar panels only gets the average Brit another tenth of a gallon of gas.

MacKay is no fossil-fuel funded zealot. Quite the opposite. He accepts the threat posed by anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and the reluctance of politicians and the public to curb economic growth in order to live more sustainably (otherwise known as die in large numbers to reach pre-industrial population levels.) But as a physicist understands the science behind our energy needs, which is why that he advocates the use of zero carbon emission nuclear power to replace baseload power currently provided by fossil fuels. He also recommends improving conservation, and adding renewable sources like wind and solar where and when they make sense.

To paraphrase the great Democratic Party leader Daniel Patrick Moynihan everyone is entitled to their opinion, but they aren’t entitled to their own physics. Either Jansen is wrong or MacKay is wrong. MacKay lays out step-by-step how he comes to his conclusions, showing his work as it were, yet questions his own work at many steps along the way. It turns out his figures tend to be more optimistic than those posted by official “Green” or governmental sources. Jansen just throws a statement out there without any proof backing it up other than his credentials at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology. Typically the interviewer whiffed on asking him any tough questions.*

The New Scientist is up to its old tricks, selling unicorn fantasies while ignoring the very science that runs them down.

*On a side-note, am I the only one who watches or reads an interview with some public or otherwise respected figure, and can think of a dozen questions that are more challenging and interesting than the softball pitches thrown in what you are watching or reading? Have journalists as a whole become dim-witted or just ego-strokers? Or am I just becoming a cranky old man?

The Council Has Spoken: Sept 4, 2015

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Council Nominations: Sept 2, 2015

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