Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Domestic SOTU Summary

We will keep throwing money at Math and Science education until our students grow up into numerate adults who can do the math and figure out that more money does not equal better eductaion. Hopefully, they will also discover that Hydrogen is not nearly as efficient an energy storage and transportation medium as Hydrocarbons, and perhaps stumble upon that old axiom that correlation does not prove causation.

Feh. Weak.

No SOTU For You!

Apparently not convinced to just annoy with her presence, Ms. Sheehan attempted to unfurl a banner in the gallery of the House Chamber and was arrested by Capitol Police. What with Justice Alito sitting up front, Sen. Kennedy must be thinking someone's been waterin' his whiskey and this is all a bad DT hallucination.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Go Nucular

Pursuant to a few of the comments left on the previous energy related post, I've come up with some numbers to support the idea of exactly how liberating "Going Nucular" in regards to US power generation can be. Total US Energy Consumption is currently rated at about 8 TWhrs (1 TW 1 terawatt = 1 trillion watts) per day, or about 3 PWhrs (1 PW = 1 petawatt = 1000 terawatts) per year. For reference, the US Office of Nuclear Energy has an in depth proposal for a new plant in Alabama that would generate 1.3 GWe - approximately one eighth of the base load.

Waste Heat
Heat is entropy, right? Only in a closed system. Just because one system can't use the heat, doesn't mean it can't be the energy supply for another. Look at BMW's new turbosteamer: It uses "waste heat" from the combustion system and emissions control system (muffler) to spin a turbine that can be geared to the driveshaft. Instead of just radiating that heat into the surrounding environment, they believe they can derive about 10-15% more fuel efficiency. As commenter whit noted, nuke plants generate waste heat that could be used to distill ethanol or render biodiesel.

So let's see: For $25 Billion ($2.5B per reactor * 10 reactors) over 8 years we could probably switch all US non-transportation power to nucular, have plenty of "cushion" in our electical generation capacity, and perhaps find ways of making the waste heat productive in the transportation sector...here's hoping that the Greens see the light.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Rainy Day Strunk and White Post

Rainy Day Strunk and White Post

Sitting around flipping through The Elements of Style I came across this passage:
17. Do not inject opinion

Unless there is a good reason for it being there, do not inject opinion into a piece of writing. We all have opinions about almost everything, and the temptation to toss them in is great. To air one’s views gratuitously, however, is to imply that the demand for them is brisk, which may not be the case, and which, in any event, may not be relevant to the discussion. Opinions scattered indiscriminately about leave the mark of egotism on a work.
Strunk and White p.79
I guess that doesn’t apply to blogging since this is essentially a vanity project.

UPDATE: I have retracted a mildly snarky comment aimed at reporters after learning that a reporter and cameraman for ABC News were injured in an IED attack in Iraq. My thoughts and prayers go out to Messrs Woodruff and Vogt and their families. There are times when it is okay to have fun at the expense of others, but when bad things happen it is important to remember that we're all in this together.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Evolutionary Beer Goggles

I was reading this article on the Sciam blog when I ran into discussion about how fish had to evolve completely new bone structures to live on land. It got me back on my favorite evolutionary hobby horse. Allow me to demonstrate:

At some point in our evolution, humans developed a radically different pelvic/spinal structure that allows us to walk upright comfortably. I know all the yadda, yadda about evolutionary advantage, but how did those first couple of generations become dominant enough to breed? Apes are, for the most part, harem animals. So here's my theory: It came through the females. I've got two scenarios:

A. Joe Ape stumbled across some fermented fruit, had a few too many, and comes home thinking, "I've never tried that deformed one. I think I'll get me a little strange tonight. Sure, she's a little tall, but they're all the same size kneeling down."

B. Jim Ape, not the dominant guy, thinks: "Ape, I'm never gonna get laid. Not unless I start my own gig. That tall chick is trying to mother all the other women's babies, but Joe won't do her. I bet I could get her to elope with me."

Ok, so they're highly anthropomorphisized, but major mutations like that just don't make sense in species that select mates. Call it the Beer Goggles Corollary to Evolution.

A Shameless Moment of Ego

Thanks to the guys at The Neolibertarian Network for publishing an article I submitted. The pic next to the summary on the front page is awesome! The title is better than the one I submitted, too. Now I understand why editors have jobs. It's the bottom article, so it may soon be gone.

But the link to the article is here

Oh, and since that site is mostly run by the guys at Q and O, I just wanna say: Keep stirring the antpile, Dale!

Libertarian Musings

I was looking through my "Notebooks of Lazarus Long" coffee table book and offer the following musings in that vein, though obviously not as insightful:

1) It is absurd to believe that a sixteen year-old who murders someone is more capable of making an adult decision than a twenty year-old who wants to buy a six-pack.
2) “Thou Shalt” is just as restrictive as “Thou Shalt Not”
3) Letting government employees vote in elections has the same effect as letting corporate employees vote for upper management: No one gets fired, everyone gets raises, and the shareholders get screwed.
4) ‘A government has no friends, only interests.’ No such entity has ever given charity. Social welfare is a steely-eyed bribe.
5) Legislative season should be shorter than hunting season.
6) It is easier to pass legislation, than repeal it. When in doubt, don’t.
7) There is no such thing as a temporary tax.
8) Game theory has proven ‘From each according to his ability, to each according to his need’ maximizes neediness and minimizes ability.
9) Just so everyone understands, the rule of Progressive Taxation states that the government will take money from those who manage it well and give money to those who manage it poorly. This is going to spread the wealth?
10) Apparently the only difference between citizens and everyone else living in the U.S. is that citizens can apply for passports