Friday, August 31, 2007

Bush E-Mail Mystery Deepens

I think we may be approaching a Minnesota airport moment for the White House. If it comes out that there were shenanigans with the White House email it may all be over.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A Good Thing

Hmm, it looks like a high level of atheism in a country may be a good thing.
The survey concluded that "high levels of organic atheism are strongly correlated with high levels of societal health, such as low homicide rates, low poverty rates, low infant mortality rates, and low illiteracy rates, as well as high levels of educational attainment, per capita income, and gender equality. Most nations characterized by high degrees of individual and societal security have the highest rates of organic atheism, and conversely, nations characterized by low degrees of individual and societal security have the lowest rates of organic atheism.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

So Sad

Just to keep tabs on what the dark side is up to I subscribe to a couple of Republican mailing lists. My email application is smart enough to route the stuff to the junk mail folder where it belongs. Every once in a while a real jewel comes in. Today was a little item from Mike Duncan, RNC Chair.

Dear Kendall,

The Democrats' politicization of the judicial confirmation process has gotten out of hand.

While there are no current vacancies on the Supreme Court, Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats -- led by Chairman Pat Leahy and Senator Schumer -- have made it clear that the President's nominees to the federal courts will never again get a fair hearing. In fact, the Democrat-controlled "Do-Nothing" Congress has approved a scant 39 percent of the President's judicial nominations sent to the Senate this year.

The Democrat leaders arrogantly believe they can simply "run out the clock" on the Bush Presidency so they can rubber stamp Hillary Clinton's or Barack Obama's liberal nominees in 2009.

Your support is urgently needed to get the message out about the Democrats' stonewalling of President Bush's nominees and agenda. Please click here to make a secure online contribution of $1,000, $500, $100, $50 or $25 to help the RNC tell Leahy, Schumer and the other liberal Democrats to stop blocking the President's well-qualified judicial nominees.

President Bush has appointed jurists who faithfully and impartially interpret the law and do not legislate from the bench. If a liberal Democrat like Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama is elected President, our entire judicial system could swing dangerously to the left, causing a flood of bad decisions by liberal activist judges.

Whether it is President Bush or the next Republican President who is appointing justices, we cannot allow the Democrats' crass partisan gamesmanship to stand.

Your secure online contribution will help the RNC stop the Democrats from crippling our justice system. Working together, we can expose the true nature of the Democrat-controlled "Do-Nothing" Congress. Thank you.

Project much, Mike?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Tom Friedman is a Hack

On a long intercontinental flight I noticed that the fellow next to me was reading a copy of Friedman's The World is Flat. Hardback, no less! I thought to myself, "What a colossal waste of time!"

Biomass Energy Will Boost Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Biomass fuels may be sustainable but they are not CO2-friendly.

Life-cycle Efficiency Analysis Comes Up Short

When Christopher and Yanni Koroneos analyzed the full life-cycle efficiencies of various energy sources they only did a portion of the job. There's an environmentally friendly energy supply that provides 20% of the power in the US that they ignored completely. Given that that portion will probably increase in the future it would have been nice for them to run a comparative analysis on nuclear power as well.

Friday, August 17, 2007

A Egg Hatches

The House Oversight Committee has come to the conclusion that Republicans have been systematically violating the Hatch Act. Maybe it isn't impeachable but I would think that is a criminal offense.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Nuclear Idiot

And Rebecca Solnit is not afraid to show it. Let me count the ways.

Are nukes unsafe? Nukes are so unsafe that the Navy gladly puts them in the most valuable ships.

Are they too time-consuming to build? France hasn't found that to be a problem. And like anything else you get better with practice and the skills fade without practice.

Would nuclear power keep our infrastructure intact and allow consumption to continue? Uh, yeah. Perhaps one should consider the economic and social costs of some grand and great dislocation? That sounds like a much better idea don't you think?

Not happy with a nuke plant in your backyard? I happen to have one in mine and I rather like it. I have plenty of electricity and it doesn't come at the price of spewing CO2 and worse into the atmosphere for us all to enjoy in the form of climate change. Maybe you would prefer to work in a coal mine run by the likes of Robert Murray.

Now that the most recent energy bill has passed I think that gates are about to be opened on nuclear power investment. And you can't really get much mileage on the Three Mile Island thing. It was a clear demonstration that the safety systems worked on even a plant of that vintage. The new plants currently and soon-to-be under construction will be much more robust in that regard.

Now lets talk about mining. Whatever evils there are with uranium mining you can find them in much greater quantities in coal mining, oil and gas drilling, and other sorts of mineral extraction. There is one significant difference. The energy density in uranium is so much higher than these other things the net effects of the relative evils are much lower. And you can only burn coal, oil, and gas once. With uranium you can not only produce more fuel than you consume, you can with repeated recycling consume it at a nuclear level instead of chemical level. And the more you recycle it, the less long-lived waste you have.

Rebecca then moves on to enrichment costs. The old gaseous diffusion plants is Kentucky are energy hogs. But even then the amount of electricity produced by the enriched uranium eclipsed the amount consumed. The next generation of plants will use gas centrifuge technology that reduces the power consumption by a factor of 20. Under development is a third method of enrichment, laser isotopic separation. The capital cost of a laser enrichment plant is a fifth of that for a gas centrifuge plant and the operating costs are comparable to perhaps 50% of a gas centrifuge plant. That's all to the good.

In terms recycling, Rebecca goes for the big distortion. She calls Sellafield the biggest experiment in reprocessing but ignores the years of successful reprocessing experience across the channel at La Hague where fuel from French, German, Dutch, Japanese, and Belgian plants is reprocessed.

It takes lots of fossil fuel to build buildings, homes, and roads as well as nuclear power plants but I don't think Rebecca wants us to stop such major economic activity. Or maybe so.

Right now it takes a long time to build a plant because our systems are out of practice. As practice is gained the cycle time as with most processes has nowhere to go but down.

Eventually Rebecca just loses her contact with reality completely. "murderously filthy, imparting long-lasting contamination on an epic scale" Give me a break! Rebecca may not know what to do with spent fuel but fortunately there are better minds that have the know-how to turn it into nice, clean power.

I'm all for alternative energy efforts. I'm for spending tax dollars to develop these fledgling technologies. There may be many better ways to produce energy and to use it more wisely. Let's go after them. I'm for using alternative energy wherever possible. Diversity is the key to resiliency and independence.

But running screaming down the hall about nuclear energy is just not helpful at all.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Church cancels gay vet's memorial

Out of principle it says. That's one sick principle, if you ask me.

Looking at a French model

For healthcare, that is.
Although the French system faces many challenges, the World Health Organization rated it the best in the world in 2001 because of its universal coverage, responsive healthcare providers, patient and provider freedoms, and the health and longevity of the country's population. The United States ranked 37.

The French system is also not inexpensive. At $3,500 per capita it is one of the most costly in Europe, yet that is still far less than the $6,100 per person in the United States.

How did we lose in Afghanistan?

By choosing to fight in Iraq, of course. Another Doh! moment.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Paul said it

It's rare thing when I disagree with Paul Krugman so it's not surprising that I support his call to close the hedge-fund loophole 100%. I can only hope the congressional Democrats eventually come to their senses.