Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Japanese Nuclear Threat VI

The media are still crying "wolf". Here's the real story from the department of Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT. Contrast that with this article from the Washington Post.

Kakistocrats? No, Saboteurs and Enablers

When I first created this blog in February 2009, I worried that the word kakistocracy (n., pl. -cies. Government by the least qualified or least principled citizens. [Greek kakistos, worst, superlative of kakos, bad; -cracy, government, regime]), might be a little too extreme, too over-the-top.

Looking back over the past two years, now I'm not convinced that "kakistocracy" even begins to describe the situation, what with unprincipled 'progressives', and uncourageous conservatives -- at all levels of government, topped off with a malicious administration. We don't have leaders, we have saboteurs and enablers. Given all that, rage seems like the only rational response.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Agenda 21 For Dummies

I first became aware of ICLEI last month. Sure, I had heard the name "Agenda 21", but I had no idea what it was about. This has been going on for decades, under the guise of warm fuzzy names like "sustainable development", right under our noses, under the radar, out of the reach of the US Constitution, and with the help and approval of politicians from both sides of the aisle. Many so-called "non profit" community organizers are paying themselves handsome salaries with federal grant money to sue us, regulate us, and to confiscate our property rights. They are using our tax dollars against us.

The 'progressives' at ICLEI have latched on to the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) hypothesis even though there is no objective proof that it exists, and no experiment that you could run to prove it. You just have to believe, because the consequences if you do not are so dire. Where have I heard that argument before? Oh, that's right -- religion! The big difference is, the first amendment prevents government from interfering with or establishing any religion. The Church of AGW on the other hand, is somehow exempt from the same constitutional constraints.

Under the influence of ICLEI and Agenda 21, public schools are now teaching that objective truth is unknowable, so it isn't worth seeking. There's only one reason for saying that: So that upcoming generations will believe claptrap like AGW. It's a handy tool to keep people from questioning anything. Knowledge is power, and the truth will set you free.

Here's a bit of truth: There is no experiment that can prove AGW, but there is incontrovertible evidence that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. We have run countless experiments with communist, socialist, top-down central governments, and the results are invariably the same: Poverty, oppression, tyranny. If AGW actually exists, a free society would simply adapt to make the necessary changes, automatically and voluntarily. We don't need government to force us to do the right thing. Even so, given the choice, I would rather die of AGW than from government oppression.

Nobody I know (preservative or 'progressive') is in favor of trashing the planet or the environment. However, if you scratch an environmentalist, you usually find a 'progressive' just beneath the surface. It is obvious to me that 'progressives' are simply using the environment as a tool to undermine America's founding principles. We must protect our founding principles before we lose them entirely.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Presence of Malice: Against the Conservative Portrait of the President

This article appeared in American Digest. I have been saying this for some time now.
We can survive many traits in presidents, but malice is not among them. In the unfolding saga of the Libyan adventure I note that, even though it is early innings, a popular strain of conservative criticism centers around the always popular idea of 'stupidity in government;' with a variant on the subset of 'the president is not as smart as he thinks.' The popular variant this time is: 'deep down, Obama is shallow.' This notion includes various complimentary subsets such as 'he is lazy,' 'he is incompetent,' 'he's hooked on the perks and doesn't care for the work.' All comfortable notions that imply that the critic is, conversely, smarter, more diligent, and more fit to make governmental decisions than the president. The problem here is that the critic is not the president and hence has no power to do anything remotely presidential. (Continue reading...)
"Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity, but don't rule out malice." ~ Heinlein's Razor

I think we're being far to quick to rule out malice, because up until now, a malicious president simply hasn't been part of American history.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

US Approaching Insolvency, Fix To Be 'Painful': Fisher

This article appeared on the CNBC website. Let's see... what part of "duh!" don't we understand? It isn't as if we haven't been on this trajectory for decades, and nobody warned us!
The United States is on a fiscal path towards insolvency and policymakers are at a "tipping point," a Federal Reserve official said on Tuesday.

"If we continue down on the path on which the fiscal authorities put us, we will become insolvent, the question is when," Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher said in a question and answer session after delivering a speech at the University of Frankfurt.
No $h!t, Sherlock! (Continue reading...)

One Audio Tape is Worth a Thousand Words

This article appeared in Sipping Hot Green Tea:
Breaking News from Glenn Beck's program this morning...a former SEIU official, Steven Lerner, explains a literal conspiracy against the liberty of the people of the United States of America, at a closed session of THE LEFT FORUM at Pace University last weekend. Steven details a formerly-secret conspiracy to OVERTHROW THE U.S. GOVERNMENT and INSTITUTE a Marxist Regime. In other words, Marxist Revolution. And this one isn't just an offhand comment; it's a detailed discussion of plans to literally overthrow the United States of America, THIS SPRING!
(Continue reading...)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Japanese Nuclear Threat V

When all is said and done -- and it may soon be -- the radiation exposure to civilians from the Fukushima nuclear reactors damaged by the massive tsunami will be known. This article puts the exposure in perspective based on what we know so far.

According to reports from the department of Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT, power and cooling has been mostly restored to the damaged plants, and the overheating is rapidly being controlled.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Japanese Nuclear Threat IV

If you haven't been out to the department of Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT website lately, they have put much more information out there.

One thing that you might not be getting from the mainstream media's disgraceful coverage of this event, is that power has been restored to two of the three reactors, and all should have power by tomorrow, so normal cooling may resume. Damage to the reactor might make this a more difficult problem than just turning on the pumps, but this is a huge breakthrough, and a responsible media outlet would cover it.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Japanese Nuclear Threat III

The more factual accounts of the Japanese Nuclear Power Station status from the department of Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT has me concerned at this point. Not panicked, but concerned. The design of these reactors assumes a continuous supply of coolant. While a large earthquake and subsequent tsunami are 100-year events, I think good engineering practice, given the consequences of a containment breach, would demand survivability without active coolant circulation.

Passive designs exist (here, here and here), and such designs should have been required from day one. Especially since the blow-back from anti-nuke political forces would cause more damage to this promising technology, and to the industry, than any single accident.

If you accept the anthropogenic climate change hypothesis (I do not, certainly not in any religious, apocalyptic sense), then nuclear energy is the only other practical alternative to fossil fuel now, and for the foreseeable future.

Abundant, affordable energy has risks and trade-offs. So does the lack of abundant, affordable energy. With the lack of abundant, affordable energy, comes the lack of abundant, affordable food, heat, refrigeration, medicine, transportation -- everything that we humans associate with good health and prosperity. "No compromise, no risk, zero tolerance" is the hallmark of an extremist.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

De-fund ObamaCare: Write Your Congressman

Congress is close to voting on whether to pass a Continuing Resolution which continues to fund $105 billion dollars to implement the structure needed to fully put into operation "Obamacare". I sent this to Rick Larsen, for all the good it will do:
"Which article of the Constitution gives government the authority to implement ObamaCare?" Everyone knows the answer is, "none does". Any regime that distorts or disregards the Constitution is untrustworthy and dangerous. Please de-fund Obamacare!

Important: Japanese Nuclear Power Station Status

If you want to keep up-to-date on the status at the Japanese nuclear power stations without the consistently wrong media sensationalism, click here.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Meltdown! Meltdown! What is Meltdown?

The core of the Japanese nuclear power stations might melt down, which scares the hell out of everyone who saw the movie "The China Syndrome". Fortunately, The China Syndrome was fiction. It was also anti-nuke propaganda. A core meltdown is bad for the electric utility, because it means an expensive loss of equipment, as well as laborious cleanup of the containment vessel(s). But it doesn't mean widespread catastrophe. If you actually want to understand nuclear reactor design, you should read this.

The journalists have their agenda, and far too few are interested in learning the truth. The short explanation for the rest of you is this: The nuclear chain reaction was shut down immediately after the earthquake. But the radioactive decay of reactor by-products continue to produce heat for some time, and that requires coolant. Newer designs do not require active cooling, by the way. The earthquake destroyed the power grid, so the power for the coolant pumps had to be supplied by auxiliary diesel generators. The diesel generators were destroyed by the tsunami, so the pumps ran on batteries while operators waited for replacement generators to arrive. Unfortunately, the replacement generators were not compatible with the cooling pumps. When the batteries were exhausted, the cooling to the reactor was lost, and the reactor gradually reached the melting point. The plant was designed for this eventuality, so no China Syndrome will occur. What radioactive elements are released into the atmosphere are light elements -- hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, etc., with half-life measured in seconds. They will decay back to their normal state almost immediately.

The Japanese Nuclear Threat II

Here's a follow-up to my original article about the earthquake damage to Japan's nuclear power stations. From Morgsatlarge – blogorific: This post is by Dr Josef Oehmen, a research scientist at MIT, in Boston.
I am writing this text (Mar 12) to give you some peace of mind regarding some of the troubles in Japan, that is the safety of Japan’s nuclear reactors. Up front, the situation is serious, but under control. And this text is long! But you will know more about nuclear power plants after reading it than all journalists on this planet put together.
(Continue reading...)

Meanwhile, headlines like Nuclear Disaster 'Will Have Political Impact as Great as 9/11' seem all the more sensational after reading the previous article. Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely that truth will prevail in this instance. The mainstream media are not doing their job, once again.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

De-Fund Public Broadcasting

I like to watch PBS every now and then, when they have a good symphony, or a Fleetwood Mac reunion, or a Roy Orbison concert -- stuff like that. I was channel surfing last night, and I stopped to watch a music program on KCTS. At the bottom of the screen, they were running a crawler that said, "Congress to vote on de-funding public broadcasting. Call your congressman." Since I'm a good little do-bee, I decided to write (not call) my congressman:
Dear Congressman Larsen,

Support for public broadcasting comes in part from mandatory contributions from taxpayers like me. Which article of The Constitution gives government the authority to do that? I can find no such authority. Please de-fund public broadcasting.

If PBS and NPR want to run a non-profit, non-commercial broadcasting system with voluntary support from various politically active organizations such as the Tides Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and with voluntary support from various corporations and with voluntary contributions from viewers like you, then I'm fine with that.

If public broadcasting were to run programming that is consistent with my interests and core values, I might even voluntarily divert a portion of my own hard-earned income from other charitable causes. In light of recent events, however, I now know that public broadcasting is not consistent with my core values. Nevertheless, the IRS siphons a portion of my earnings out of every paycheck for public broadcasting. I am not at liberty to decide for myself. Please de-fund public broadcasting.
The "recent events" that I mentioned in my letter refer to a "sting" operation in which James O'Keefe recorded video of NPR CEO Ron Schiller making derogatory remarks about conservatives and the tea party movement (among other things), and posted it on the Internet. The video attracted widespread attention, and Mr. Schiller was relieved of his duties at NPR.

In the interest of fairness, I will link to this article, which is quite critical of the James O'Keefe video that brought down NPR CEO Ron Schiller. However, after all is said and analyzed, this article does not exonerate Schiller so much as it slimes James O'Keefe. I am not a big fan of O'Keefe's tactics, but I think we deserve to know what the leaders of organizations receiving public funds really think.

In the end, the question isn't whether public broadcasting is a worthy cause; it is whether government has the constitutional authority to subsidize it. If we really want it, then we'll voluntarily pay for it out of our own pockets, not someone else's.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Japanese Nuclear Threat

The strongly anti-nuclear-energy media are busy pushing the stories about earthquake damage to nuclear reactors in Japan. If the reactors do fail spectacularly, it will certainly be a big deal. But if they don't, the media will still have had their impact.

What this story should be telling us is to modernize and upgrade our nuclear facilities to newer technology. Nuclear engineers have made many design improvements in the years since the mid '70s, when environmental extremists effectively shut down the breeder reactor concept. Breeder reactors would have recycled nuclear waste, making our nuclear resources last longer, with lower environmental impact when it finally was spent.

Today, new reactor designs eliminate many of the earlier risks, and are safer and simpler, compared to older designs which require complex electro-mechanical devices to stabilize them. A natural disaster, such as an earthquake, can interfere with these safety devices. A pebble bed reactor, to give just one example, will simply and automatically reduce it's output to safe levels if it loses coolant or containment. It can't melt down, and it can't explode, and it doesn't require any complex devices to control it. It can also be refueled while in service -- not a safety feature as such, but still very nice to have.

Nothing is perfectly safe, and high energy always entails high risk. High voltage, high speed, high pressure, high heights, powerful springs, strong chemicals, can all kill a person, or persons, instantly. Our current aversion to any and all risk is unrealistic. Instead of frightening people about nuclear energy, the media should be using this event to promote safer, more sustainable (and greener) nuclear energy.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Long Train Running to China Grove

About a year ago, my employer relocated to a new office building. Many of my co-workers have a spectacular view of Bellingham Bay, or the city lights. But being a railroad buff, I chose an office overlooking the main line through Bellingham just across the street. Out my office window, I see passenger trains, freight trains, miscellaneous track maintenance trains and other interesting vehicles.

But the most impressive trains are the coal trains. They usually have five of the largest locomotives, two on one end and three on the other, bracketing about a mile of identical hopper cars, each one heaped to the brim with coal. About five or six of these trains a day (while I'm in the office) head north, fully loaded, and five or six head south, empty. Every day. There may be more while I'm not watching.

I always wondered where that coal was coming from, and where it was going. Intalco? It takes a lot of electricity to smelt aluminum. No, that coal comes from Colorado, is shipped by rail to the lower mainland of British Columbia, where it is loaded onto ships and hauled to China!

Because coal is deemed too "polluting" to be burned in the USA, we use countless gallons of precious liquid petroleum to ship it to China to be burned! I wonder how much coal would be left if they used the energy in the coal itself to haul it to China? This is sheer idiocy! To prevent pollution, we create more pollution to ship it somewhere else to be burned anyway. Doh!

If freedom still rang in this country, we would burn the coal on site, or at least near where it is mined (to generate electricity, or liquefy it for mobile applications). Somehow, we have to get the environmental extremists off our backs and restore some sanity. Our current energy policy is worse than no energy policy.

Update: Thanks to Shelly for the shout-out!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"You never want a serious crisis to go to waste" ~ Rahm Emanuel

And if you don't have a serious crisis, by all means, create one. If you want to assume total political power, you create anarchy and chaos. Before long, the populace will beg for order, any order. A New World Order, if you've got one.

Barack Obama has been President for a little over two years, and now the entire world is on fire. If you think the Obama administration hasn't caused this, think again. Obama has brazenly and systematically alienated US allies, emboldened US enemies, and essentially taken the lid off all of the world's hot spots. The middle east is nearing total political melt-down. If that happens, the price of oil will skyrocket (worse than it already has, that is). That will make the prices of everything else skyrocket, including food and medical care.

People will start demanding that the government provide food and medical care, and thereby lock in the recently passed big government programs -- and with it, the 'progressive' big government elites. It will be the end of the middle class, of capitalism and the system of government envisioned by our founders, that provided the highest standard of living that mankind has ever known. Goodbye Enlightenment. Welcome to the New Dark Ages. I hope we can learn to like serfdom.