Wednesday, March 19, 2008

That lonesome road

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich claims we are sleepwalking through history. Are we? Open thread.






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86 Comments:

Blogger Who Struck John said...

As on the eve of the First World War, and as on the eve of the Second, we can see the storm gathering, but not muster the will to act.

It is perhaps a natural and tragic flaw of democracies.

Clinton, McCain, and Obama delude themselves if they think that the next president will serve more than one term.

3/19/2008 02:07:00 AM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

I don't think it is natural, but yes it would be tragic, if we cannot bring ourselves to bear weapons in self defense.

If we cannot enact laws to protect the social structures and cultural systems that allowed us to establish our nation, or at the very least hold to accountable those whose actions place us in danger, we are in trouble.

If we cannot face one another in honest debate, finding the it convenient instead to say one thing publicly and another in the mosque, church, or coffee shop, how are we to be expected to wage war on those who would see our children dead.

We are not sleep walking, It is our natural urge for survival that are slumbering.

3/19/2008 02:24:00 AM  
Blogger VinceP1974 said...

The first step in "winning" the "War on Terror" is giving the war the proper name.

I prefer "3rd Global Islamic Jihad"

3/19/2008 02:27:00 AM  
Blogger buck smith said...

Newt might be a little overblown. I figure if we stay in Iraq for a long period, we are in a good place to win the thing cold war style. There is now a heavy metal band in Baghdad. Students of the cold war have recongnized the role of rock and roll in the downfall of communism is E Europe. Iraq's fascist neighbors can not survive 40 years of heavy metal.

3/19/2008 03:41:00 AM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

People who never bought in to the politically correct, culturally sensitive, carbon neutral, transnational progressive Hate America First legacies bequeathed to us by our Soviet opponents in World War III are starting to realize that .gov is paralyzed to protect them.

The United States has granted veto power over any military operation it might attempt to whoever can delegitimize the mission and kill domestic support. All current and future enemies and adversaries have to do to paralyze us is partner with domestic oppositional elements such as anti-war organizations, anti-Administration politicians, wealthy Hungarian benefactors, the Perpetually Aggrieved, Guilty White Liberals, the Politically Correct, Multi-cultural, Carbon Dispensationists and Transnational Progressives who can be relied upon to activate their As Sahab media arms in a coordinated effort to magnify all imperfections, exaggerate all negative aspects, accept at face value all enemy narratives, treat all friendly narratives with withering scorn and total skepticsm, and hamsting any effort to employ American power.

Why this has happened is well explained by Jeffrey Imm:

America has spent much of the better part of a century in a series of world wars and anticipation of such wars, concluding in a 40 year protracted "Cold War" with the former USSR. In the course of that protracted "Cold War", a marked weariness in the American public found itself in a series of reactions that perhaps the Communist USSR was "not so bad", and that perhaps military struggles such as the Vietnam War were not really worth the sacrifice in fighting the spread of the anti-freedom ideology of Communism.

Over the course of this period of weariness and malaise, the American baby boomer generation questioned America's role in fighting against such anti-freedom ideologies. Some left the country to avoid military service, and some adopted a new language to critique concerns that the U.S. military was fighting simply for the sake of fighting. On January 17, 1961, President Eisenhower's exit speech contained a reference to post-WWII America to be cautious about its military expenditures, warning of a growing influence of a "military-industrial complex". This phrase and the oxymoronic use of the phrase "American imperialism" would become part of the vocabulary of debate during the ongoing military conflicts with the anti-freedom ideology of Communism in the years to follow. With 20/20 historical hindsight, it is clear that a centralized military response in the Cold War was a necessity to address the technological weapons threats of the Communist USSR enemy. But during that period of American history, that issue was still an open debate, as the newly adult American superpower gained its first lessons in balancing its inherent ideology of liberty with its global responsibilities.

But that baby-boomer dialogue and mentality would continue to influence academia, the mass media, and Americans for generations afterwards. "Vietnam quagmire" was the phrase used to attack any who would consider using American force in the world. In Afghanistan, American political leadership found it more politically acceptable to fight Communists via the Jihadist proxies, who would later turn on America itself. And the American defeat and withdrawal in Vietnam scarred a generation so much, that when the Communist USSR enemy inevitably collapsed in December 1991, there was as much puzzlement as there was joy. Among many in the baby-boomer generation there was also a sigh of relief that America had dodged a bullet in not having to fight an ICBM world war with the USSR. But the dialogue, language, and way of thinking among academia, the mass media, and much of the public did not change as a result of the Communist USSR collapse. There were no victory parades, no monuments to those who fought and dedicated their lives to defeating the anti-freedom ideology of Communism. Even the controversial Vietnam War memorial was a black, grim, slate of despair.

Outside of the short-lived tactical 1990-1991 Gulf War defending the U.S. ally of Kuwait, which Mr. Scheuer condemns as giving rationale for the Islamist "indictment" against "U.S. presence on the Arabian Peninsula" (p. 98), the post-USSR mood of the country was decided against foreign military engagements. As a result, there was no vision that recognized the need to challenge the anti-freedom ideology of Islamism. So despite repeated declarations of war by Osama Bin Laden in 1996 and 1998, the American political leadership was so affected by the national malaise regarding foreign engagements that decisions were made to not aggressively pursue Islamist terrorists in the 1990s. Islamists increasingly became convinced that America was no longer willing to fight.

Prepare yourself now to be a survivor.

3/19/2008 04:01:00 AM  
Blogger ADE said...

We've got it about right:

Militarily hold a key part of the Middle East, use Israel to destabilise their self esteem, threaten any country with obliteration if it wants nuclear weapons, be apparently passive on the home front.

Play for time. Time is the great enemy of Islam. Its absurdities become more obvious. A (depraved) culture dies, wants to die, its embarrassment excrutiating to watch.

buck smith is right. Give it time to let Sex, Drugs, and Rock n Roll do its magic.

(Incidentally, I believe that it was lack of denim, not heavy metal, that pissed off the Russian 'opinion formers'.)

ADE

3/19/2008 04:20:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

The fact that the US has not yet organized a "Manhattan Project" to stir away from oil, and the fact that trillions of dollars are spent on transfer payment for oil and for the protection of oil, means, that yes, we are sleepwalking through history.

The simple reality is, our collective cultural political military and economic institutions are in collapse. This is no rhetorical exaggeration. What's amazing, is that the solution is simple and within reach. Unfortunately, because of pervasive CORRUPTION, it will not be implemented, not until it's too late.

3/19/2008 04:58:00 AM  
Blogger slimslowslider said...

Molting Process. We are lulled by it; we think our adversary is changing. It's Actually just growing in size and needs a larger scaley skin to house itself. On the other hand never underestimate the power of AC/DC.

3/19/2008 05:06:00 AM  
Blogger Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

At some point in the last 20 years we made the transition from the old post-War era to what history will inevitably describe as the "pre-War" period.

Was it the collapse of the Soviet Union in August 1991? The first WTC attack, or Mogadishu in 1993? Clinton's refusal to take OBL from the Sudanese? September 11?

I don't know, but I'd almost bet real money that it came between 1991 and 2001. Over the long run I suspect Mr. Clinton will be seen as a Franklin Pierce sort of President, oblivious to the events coalescing around him, thus failing to act boldly when needed.

Mr. Gingrich knows enough about history that his judgement carries some weight. My 90-year-old mother describes having the same feeling of absolute exasperation when she was one the few non-peacenik students at her college in the late '30s.

3/19/2008 05:08:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Mətušélaḥ said...
The fact that the US has not yet organized a "Manhattan Project" to stir away from oil,

Actually, Jimmy Carter had one. At the same time he was killing the nuclear industry through cancelling breeder reactors and overregulation, he poured billions into solar and wind power subsidies. We are currntly in the process of reviving the Carter energy policy, with George Bush's ethanol boondoggle thrown in to make it worse.

3/19/2008 05:10:00 AM  
Blogger Joshua said...

It may not matter much anyway. For America to survive as a nation, the first prerequisite is that the traditional concept of the nation itself survives, and as I've brought up in the past, I don't like its chances in the age of globalization, the Internet and other instant global communications technology that pretty much laughs at national borders.

3/19/2008 05:30:00 AM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

Sixty-two percent of Republicans say the results of the war with Iraq were worth the costs, while only 10 percent of Democrats and 25 percent of Independents agree.

So sayeth SeeBS.

Still too early for any cost-benefit analysis.

3/19/2008 06:08:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Peter,

What's your point? Are you trying to tell me that solar (and offshore wind farms) is not a viable solution to try and aggressively pursue? Is that it?

3/19/2008 06:58:00 AM  
Blogger rascalfair said...

Newt is incorrect. We're not sleepwalking. We have drunk the coolaid and we are waiting, quietly, nicely.

3/19/2008 07:09:00 AM  
Blogger Shropshirelad said...

I have to agree with Buck Smith and ADE. I don't think things are quite as dire as Newt does.

We face very real dangers, of course, from Islam, from China, from nuclear proliferation, from chaos, but I think the greatest enemy we face is self-doubt.

The West reminds me of Odysseus right now: a little lost, getting older, long absent from family, wearily, but persistantly, wending his way back home, back to his roots.

One morning Odysseus will return to Ithaca, I think. And those consuming his kingdom, harassing his wife and son, all he fought for, will have Hell to pay.

3/19/2008 07:21:00 AM  
Blogger Rodney said...

Folks,

1. As a society, yes we are sleep walking through history. One of the great things about the Internet is that those of us who are not have a larger arena in which to discuss our misgivings.

2. The parallels between the era running from 1918-1941 and the post cold war era are rather striking and disheartening.

3. The baby boomer generation and their influence have been unmitigated disasters for Western Society and the preservation thereof.

4. We are hip deep in the 5th World War (Seven Years War, WWI, WWII, Cold War, War against Global Jihad), though this reality is politically denied (thanks to 3 above).

5. Oil/Energy are commodities. Solar and Wind are great supplements, but are not reliable always on primary supplies. Aggressive exploitation of known reserves in North America combined with increased Nuclear power generation could easily make us energy independent. Alas both are currently politically non-viable (largely thanks to 3 above).

I hope enough of us remain who hold that Western Society in general, and the United States of America in particular, are worth fighting for. The generation manning our Armed Forces today seem a positive indicator on that front going forward, but only time will tell.

3/19/2008 07:23:00 AM  
Blogger Rodney said...

shropsirelad,

From your keyboard to God's ear.

3/19/2008 07:25:00 AM  
Blogger lugh lampfhota said...

Newt is brilliant and correct but he is on a fool's errand. Most Americans know nothing and don't want to know anything about threats to their existence. The rest are so divided that discussion is impossible. I'm beginning to believe that there is no common sense of we anymore. If we can't come together when our nation is attacked then what will it take to bring us together? How can we fight the other when there is no we?

3/19/2008 07:27:00 AM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

"we are sleepwalking through history"

As we must:

Henry Kissinger was in China in 1972, laying the groundwork for President Nixon's visit. On Bastille Day, he dined with Zhou Enlai, Mao Tsetung’s long time right hand man. Kissinger asked Zhou if he thought the French Revolution was a success.

"It is too soon to tell," replied Zhou.

=============================

G.W.F. Hegel (1770–1831)
:

"One word more about giving instruction as to what the world ought to be. Philosophy in any case always comes on the scene too late to give it. As the thought of the world, it appears only when actuality is already there cut and dried after its process of formation has been completed.... When philosophy paints its gray in gray, then has a shape of life grown old. By philosophy’s gray in gray it cannot be rejuvenated but only understood. The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk."

3/19/2008 08:31:00 AM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/19/2008 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

"The fact that the US has not yet organized a "Manhattan Project" to stir away from oil"

I find that statement irksome. We had a Manhattan Project. More than 60 years ago. It resulted in the implementation of two forms of energy production (nuclear fission and nuclear fusion) which had, theretofore, been inaccessible to men.

It was a huge success. It resulted in nuclear fission power plants that create 20% of the electrical energy used in the US, 80% in France.

Our failure to fully exploit this astounding work is one of the most concrete demonstrations of Gramscian Damage.

Opposition to nuclear power was a memetic bomb unleashed by pro-Soviet Communists as part of the cold war. The Soviet Union is gone but anti-nuclearism lives on as a memetic zombie eating the brains of the living.

3/19/2008 09:14:00 AM  
Blogger Kirk Parker said...

Mətušélah, you really can't the difference between a technology development project like Manhattan, where "throwing dollars at it" is sometimes a viable option, and an economic development project like "replacing ME oil" where the incremental cost to the end user is be far the most important aspect?

Why should we destroy our economic prosperity just so that the oil sheiks can leave their resource in the ground? YMMV, but for me I'd rather we become the "American Empire" of the silly left's nightmare, take over the oil fields, and deplete them.

Something tells me that simply leaving the Saudis in place, despicable as they are, would be even less costly and thus may well be our least-bad option at this point.

3/19/2008 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Mətušélaḥ
Yes. Wind and solar are both dead end technologies that are popular with tree-huggers but are ultimately not feasible, except in very limited applications. There is no practical way to store the power for use when you need it.

Electricity is unique in that it must be consumed as soon as it is produced and when it is needed it is needed NOW. You can't wait for the clouds to clear or the wind to blow in ordeer to run your factory.

When you hear politicians talking about "green energy" your BS detector should be alarming. The greenest form of electricity is nuclear power which emits zero waste to the environment, and yet this is the power source most hated by the pinheads who push solar and wind power.

The future of energy in the US should be electric vehicles and nuclear power plants to supply the electricity.

In the interim, synthetic fuel can be produced from coal. We are the Saudi Arabia of coal. Ethanol from corn is an insane government mandated farm subsidy which drives up food prices without solving the energy dependence problem.

We already had a Manhatten Project and it solved the energy crisis by making nuclear power a reality. We don't need to pay for another one.

3/19/2008 09:24:00 AM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

The biggest threat to the US is the ability of even poor nations to gain nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. North Korea and Pakistan as Exhibits A and B.

We are not prepared and can't deal with the requirements to protect our major cities. True these nations cannot destroy us but CAN kill several cities. And they will, either directly or through a terrorist proxy.

THEN we enter Wretchard's Third Conjecture. Because we lack the will to do what is needed to forestall that terrible future. The way Britons and Frenchman lacked the will in the 1930's. Or Britain lacked the will in the 1890-s to early 1900's to deal with the Kaiser.

3/19/2008 09:27:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Fat Man said:

"Our failure to fully exploit this astounding work is one of the most concrete demonstrations of Gramscian Damage. Opposition to nuclear power was a memetic bomb unleashed by pro-Soviet Communists as part of the cold war. The Soviet Union is gone but anti-nuclearism lives on as a memetic zombie eating the brains of the living."

Correct and beautifully written.

3/19/2008 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger slimslowslider said...

it would be a "no-brainer" if the problem of detoxifying waste wasn't beyond our current technology -- which is why we need to store it for thousands of years. No one wants to be a host for a nuclear-waste repository. Not to mention how inviting nuclear power plants and repositories are for terrorist attack. Trust me, I want to believe that it is the solution.

3/19/2008 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger LarryD said...

The fact that the US has not yet organized a "Manhattan Project" to stir away from oil, and the fact that trillions of dollars are spent on transfer payment for oil and for the protection of oil, means, that yes, we are sleepwalking through history.

Point one: Even if the US ceased to need a single drop of oil from outside our country, the ME will continue to sell all of it's oil production, and thus the current funding of terror by the usual suspects will continue. "Energy independence" solves none of our problems. But a lot of our resources could be consumed chasing the illusion.

Point two: Energy is an industrial scale issue, no significant change can occur quickly, major shifts require decades. Example of one bottleneck is here, only one company manufactures the central part of nuclear containment vessels as a single piece. And their production rate is four a year. Expected to double two years from now.


You're hot on solar and wind, fine. Start doing the math. Figure out just how much energy you want to replace with wind and solar, and start figuring out just extensive the facilities will have to be to supply that. And, since wind and solar aren't consistent, dependable sources, add in the energy storage needed too.

3/19/2008 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger LarryD said...

The Polywell Fusion project is promising, Dr Bussard's preferred fuel reaction (proton+boron 11) doesn't leave a radioactive waste problem.

Assuming there are no gotchas in the project, we could start deploying such reactors in about ten years.

I expect the environmentalists to fight it tooth and nail.

3/19/2008 10:32:00 AM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

"No one wants to be a host for a nuclear-waste repository. Not to mention how inviting nuclear power plants and repositories are for terrorist attack. Trust me, I want to believe that it is the solution."

Another victim of the memetic zombie bot. Send him to the re-education facility:

nuclearinfo.net -- Everything you want to know about Nuclear Power:

This website was developed by a group of Physicists from the School of Physics at the University of Melbourne in Australia. The aim is to provide authoritative information about Nuclear Power. The group has no particular vested interest in Nuclear Power other than to ensure that people fully understand the risks and benefits of both employing or not employing Nuclear Power for energy generation. The information has been obtained with quantitative analysis and has been subject to peer-review following the Scientific Method.

The Nuclear Energy Option by Professor Emeritus Bernard L. Cohen of the University of Pittsburgh:

The World Nuclear Association:

The World Nuclear Association is the global private-sector organization that seeks to promote the peaceful worldwide use of nuclear power as a sustainable energy resource for the coming centuries. Specifically, the WNA is concerned with nuclear power generation and all aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle, including mining, conversion, enrichment, fuel fabrication, plant manufacture, transport, and the safe disposition of spent fuel.

3/19/2008 10:42:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

LarryD said:

"Dr Bussard's preferred fuel reaction (proton+boron 11) doesn't leave a radioactive waste problem."

The nuclear fusion cross section for the proton + boron-11 reaction is orders of magnitude more difficult than the deuterium-tritium reaction. Even though I would like to see it, no one has succeeded in demonstrating a commercially viable deuterium-tritium based reactor. A proton + boron-11 reactor has no technical credibility given our current technology.

We first need to be able to crawl before running a Marathon.

3/19/2008 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger slimslowslider said...

fat man, your re-education facility needs to be upgraded. a link from 1990 and a University of Melbourne in Australia link claiming to inform you on "Everything you want to know about Nuclear Power" isn't a slam dunk. I prefer this MIT study.

http://web.mit.edu/nuclearpower/

which suggests we:

􀂇 increase efficiency in electricity generation and use;
􀂇 expand use of renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, biomass, and
geothermal;
􀂇 capture carbon dioxide emissions at fossil-fueled (especially coal) electric
generating plants and permanently sequester the carbon; and
􀂇 increase use of nuclear power.

the risks are real but with more effort directed towards managing them, its quite doable.

3/19/2008 12:17:00 PM  
Blogger amr said...

I for one refuse to join the suicide pact being developed in Washington D.C. I may not but unfortunately my children will live long enough to become enmeshed in the destruction of our society. Our technology might be able to stave off a missile attack, but how do you stop suicide attacks with-in America without militarizing our culture and destroying our freedoms. As has been demonstrated, if our government attempts to implement an even a more secure home front and with the vast majority of Americans daily demonstrating the inability to face any idea of the need to sacrifice, political anarchy will rule. What will be ironic is that if this occurs those that have disrupted an early incremental proactive assault on Islamicfascism may be the first victims of our disintegrating society.

3/19/2008 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger dla said...

To think that nothing has been accomplished in the last 8 years is silly. To think that we are in more danger today, than 8 years ago is also silly. To judge America's actions based on the opinion of the French or Europe in general is laughable. To question whether we are doing enough is valid.

It is easy to listen to Newt's singular little speech and conclude that Newt hates Bush's policy - not so. But Newt is arguing that we, as a nation, are not doing enough.

I believe that the current US policy towards combatting radical Islam is to showcase Western civilization, where children live past 5, clean drinking water, etc. and contrast it against Wahhabbism, where children die and you always have diarrhea.

Remember, although justification can be found in the Quran for violence, the bulk of Radical Islam has its roots in 17th century Wahhabbism. And of course a big flow of money for violence comes from Wahhabbist Saudi-Arabia.

Newt may eventually be proved correct, in which case he'll be remembered. Or he may not, in which case history will forget him. We should check back in 20 years.

3/19/2008 03:11:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

"Wind and solar are both dead end technologies that are popular with tree-huggers but are ultimately not feasible, except in very limited applications. There is no practical way to store the power for use when you need it."


That's simply not true. Here's a Scientific American article that lays out a plan on how solar could be extensively used.

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=a-solar-grand-plan

What I'd like to see is the schedule greatly accelerated.

There's no reason for the US to continue to lose $500 billion per year in its accounts deficit just on account of oil imports, not to mention the dead and maimed US soldiers and the billions of dollars spent in military expenses, because of the need to safeguard Middle Eastern oil.

3/19/2008 04:45:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Kirk,

The technology is here. Solar is competitive with coal. (Example: www.solel.com). What's needed is the political will to implement the technology and tell the oil lobby to fsck off.

3/19/2008 04:58:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

"Point one: Even if the US ceased to need a single drop of oil from outside our country, the ME will continue to sell all of it's oil production, and thus the current funding of terror by the usual suspects will continue."

Not necessarily true. No one likes subsidizing Jihad. If a workable solution is pioneered by the US, it almost guaranteed that China and India will follow suite.

Re: Point 2 and 3. I'll leave that to the engineers. What I do know, is that the problem is not in the engineering, it's political.

3/19/2008 05:13:00 PM  
Blogger Kirk Parker said...

Mətušélah, did you even read the SciAm article you cited? What about the Key Concepts sidebar at the top? They're projecting this might all come about by 2050--and then, it will only supply 35% of our overall energy needs!

Dude, that's 42 years from now--a darn long time to keep pouring dollars into the jihadi-sympathizers' coffers.

3/19/2008 05:56:00 PM  
Blogger Towering Barbarian said...

Wretchard,
I think the answer to your question is a simple one; Yes, we are indeed sleepwalking through history just like we always have. Just as well. History shows that those who tried to consciously shaped it were overtaken by events at best and made a bad mess at worst. So much for Hari Seldon! :P

Slimslowslider,
You might want to read Dr. Jerry Pournelle's "A Step Furhter OUt" when you get the chance. The means to dispose of atomic waste quite safely were already worked out in the 70s. 2 words as a hint: "glass beads". Note also that both the French and the Japanese have used it with good results. ^_^

3/19/2008 06:22:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Kirk,

I referenced the SciAm article to rebut the assertion that solar energy cannot be stored for later use. It can. I also made the point that we need to aggressively accelerate the timetable. That was my original point when I referenced the "Manhattan Project". If Israel can engineer and build these puppies, there's no reason why the US can't do the same.

3/19/2008 07:11:00 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

Nuclear weapons technology is already realized by these Islamic regimes. Pakistan already has it. Iran is probably within two years of it, according to Israeli intelligence, which I consider to be far and away superior to our own intelligence agencies. In fact, the Israeli military and intelligence establishment is now telling Olmert that they must extend their efforts to get to readiness for a very big war coming their way.

Meanwhile, we have a major presidential candidate who keeps company with men who have connections with Islamic terror groups. He's ready to put out the feelers to Damascus and Tehran, and those regimes have that Cheshire Cat Smile, and cross their fingers that he can enhance the somnolence of the electorate.

The current White House and State Department forbid Israel from taking aggressive and effective action against the rockets pouring in from Gaza and Lebanon. The SecState has a very dim view of Jews, and slides in the Paleosimians as the stand ins for the victims of the Jim Crow South.

I am convinced, totally, that we are going to sustain a biological and/or nuclear weapon before we wake up. I am resigned to it. I can feel the pulse of my fellow Americans. Most of whom would say that Newt is fear-mongering, making up bogeymen.

The minions of Allah have stirred. I don't care if you have some Arab kids in some cafes in Baghdad who are into heavy metal. Their numbers are insignificant. If European Muslims have largely not succumbed to the blandishments of hedonism, I doubt that the temptations of materialism have much traction going forward. It's just wishful thinking.

3/19/2008 07:49:00 PM  
Blogger Storm-Rider said...

"We face very real dangers, of course, from Islam, from China, from nuclear proliferation, from chaos, but I think the greatest enemy we face is self-doubt."

Well stated. I am a baby-boomer, and I am ashamed of my cohort of fools and cowards. This, I believe, is the first generation of Americans to be so self-loathing. The failure to love and appreciate our God-given life and liberty (see the Declaration of Independence) follows directly from the metaphorical rejection by the son of the fathers wisdom and authority. We have a large number of such cowardly "prodigal sons" now in America - for the first time in our history.

Our founding fathers, our fathers and grand-fathers have struggled and suffered mightily for our present freedom. God-damn these socialist baby-boomers and others who threaten our liberty paid for in blood - those who encourage our enemies during wartime; and who make it possible for government of the people, by the people and for the people to possibly perish from the earth.

3/19/2008 08:11:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Mətušélaḥ
I read the solar article and it's not bad, but it's far too optimistic.

I'm aware of at least three technologies for commercial storage of generated power:
1) Pneumatic storage (pump up a pressure vessel)
2) Pump storage (run a pump to fill up an upper reservoir, then drain it through hydroelectric turbines to recover the energy) and
4) Chemical storage (charge a battery or electrolyze water to recombine in a gas turbine)

The problem is that you are taking an inefficient generation technology and compounding the inefficiency through losses associated with the storage process. Pumps and compressors are inefficient. Storage batteries generate massive waste heat when charging. They also pose an explosive hazard and a toxic waste hazard.

Another problem is that the cheap, efficient cadmium telluride solar cells will run into a serious resource constraint in a few years: the supply of the necessary raw materials is extremely constrained. This will drive up production costs to the point of economic non viability.

http://seekingalpha.com/article/55392-cadmium-telluride-casts-shadow-on-first-solar

Direct current grid systems are a blast from the past. There was actually a competition between AC and DC power many years ago. It would be interesting to see what today's technology could do with a DC grid. I suspect that in order to prevent line losses from becoming prohibitive, you'd need an ultra-high-voltage DC system.

The best use of solar and wind power would be in something called the "distributed grid" concept. Each user generates as much power as they can locally, then taps in to the "real" grid to meet the rest of their demand.

3/19/2008 08:43:00 PM  
Blogger Kirk Parker said...

Peter G,

Thanks for filling in some details.

Do note that DC does have some current uses in long-distance distribution, where the elimination of capacitance and dielectric losses can make up for the added cost of the rectifiers and inverters needed to do the conversions at both ends. And yes, these are very high voltage lines.

3/19/2008 09:01:00 PM  
Blogger Pangloss said...

Washington, DC, 19 March - In its first session since the Saint Patrick’s Day holiday, the House Democratic Caucus is expected to discuss a law that will condemn to death anyone who decides to leave the left wing of the Democratic Party and take up another viewpoint. [Link]

heh.

3/19/2008 09:19:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

I'll note in passing that the main threat seems to come from Islam not China. China is now getting THEIR wake up call ... with terrorists aiming at THEM for the Olypmics and demanding something they cannot give: independence to Muslim separatists.

China which depends on business internationally to keep it's people employed and not revolting and upending the power elite is vulnerable too. And needs cheap energy too.

Osama bin Laden released another threat. To Europe. Over the Danish cartoons. Oh and also the Pope. Who Osama fingered as the main culprit. The cartoons are a "crusade." So he's threatened terror.

See, that is the THREAT.

A cartoon, a song, a play, a book, a film, whatever. And Osama says "Boom!" Nuclear fire.

3/19/2008 10:15:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

It's too easy to rant about how the Democratic Party in its half-century of control of most of the Federal and many state governments, as well as thousands of municipal, county and regional governmental offices, and MOST IMPORTANTLY the teacher's unions and school boards, managed to create three or four successive generations of high school graduates who can't logic their way out of an open toilet stall.

Our society has been raised up in --- and is constrained by --- a perpetual microscopic attention span. A male Luna Moth fluttering up the pheromone gradient toward a sexually mature female has a greater ability to focus than do most American public school graduates since the 1960's. It was in that time that Marshall MacLuhan asserted television was killing our linear skills, but truly this was done with the full participation of the Left, the socialists, the communists, the transnational progressivists.

Like infants in didies, many Americans live in a relentless mesmerising NOW in which events arise and dominate their view for a moment, then give way to other terrific unfoldings, one damn thing following another in an endless train of enthralling moments, none of which seem to connect to the others in any obvious way. Because the schools have utterly failed to provide students the analytical skills needed to assess the validity of the simplest logical arguments, many citizens are bereft of any means to parse the claims of the snake oil sellers we have as Presidential candidates and journalists.

Most of our voters are incapable of seeing the historical context to the crisis facing us in the present vast spasm of Islamic Fascism. The final legacy of the success of the Democratic Party and its collectivist policies is the unpardonable and willful ignorance of a public that fawns over celebrity and flash and despises methodical study.

There is a reason for this.

Even before the Bolsheviks had come to power in Moscow, committed socialists and communists from a number of countries had organized and met in a gathering under the banner of the "Communist International," ("ComIntern," also referred to as the Second, and later, the Third International.) The stated purpose was to seek by all means available --- including force of arms --- to undermine and eventually topple "the international bourgeoisie" and create conditions favorable to the formation of an international Soviet republic.

As the Russian government under Lenin consolidated its power, the aims of the Comintern conveniently coincided with those of the USSR, and Lenin's government funded Comintern generously. Over half a million dedicated communists were recruited from countries around the world, vetted and trained, and sent back to merge seamlessly as they were able into their home societies. They were to keep secret their training, affiliation with and support from ComIntern, and systematically seek careers and jobs in education, medicine, unions, police, government, and society, where without revealing their communist connections, they would be able to influence attitudes and conditions so as to steer them to support Soviet goals wherever possible. If they couldn't do that, work to achieve acquiescence, silence or non-intervention when active support could not be engaged. (I invite people to do their own research on ComIntern activities; Don't just take my word.)

ComIntern and other Soviet efforts at eroding the traditional philosophical intellectual and moral frameworks of the societies that opposed communism were remarkably successful, most conspicuously in overthrowing the governments of a number of Eastern European countries with Communist coups in the chaotic aftermath of world war II. It's worth re-examining the fall of those countries "behind the Iron Curtain" to see the energy the communists were willing to invest in the struggle with the West.

It is supremely ironic that the people who are unwilling to believe that the Soviet Union financed a vast effort to undermine the West seem to be precisely the same ones who do not hesitate to accept without question all accusations that the United States DID and has been doing the same thing. Of course, it is no accident whatsoever that while Marxism has been discredited utterly in the so-called real world, it persists and even thrives --- where else ?!?!?! --- in the educational systems of the WEST. Which means that communism, socialism, leftist, and Marxist ideology have been lionized, accepted, and remorselessly promulgated by American schools, now two full decades after the titanic Russian experiment in communism was emphatically abandoned.

The sad thing is that Marxist dialectic can only be used to describe the class struggle between the Capitalist and the oppressed worker, and provides no insight into the West's existential contest with Islamic Jihad.

3/20/2008 01:32:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

"The problem is that you are taking an inefficient generation technology.."

No, the problem is that nay sayers will always come up with excuses. The Israeli company I referenced (Solel Solar) is already producing solar electricity at 12 cents (US) per k/Wh. They predict that this will drop to "6 cents per kW/h, as a result of technological improvements, economies of scale and volume production".

You talk about inefficiencies. How efficient is it to go bankrupt by spending $500 billions a year importing oil, spending trillions protecting Jihadi controlled oil, and then billions more on homeland security?

3/20/2008 04:48:00 AM  
Blogger slimslowslider said...

soel solar faq

nuclear combined with solar sounds to me like the solution.

3/20/2008 05:46:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

sss,

For me, nuclear is out of the question. It is the cause for nuclear weapons proliferation, and that's something that's simply unacceptable.

3/20/2008 06:37:00 AM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

Dear Whisky_199,

There have been several significant reports coming out of China since 2000. About that time it was reported internationally that the organs of at least TEN THOUSAND of the condemned criminals executed each year by the mainland Chinese government were harvested and made available for sale around the world for transplants. (I never saw any statistic indicating how many of those actually were purchased, or any discussion of viability, standards, incidence of blood-born pathogens, etc. OTOH, you don't see that sort of thing discussed particularly by mainstream alleged journalists for ANY country's harvested human tissue...)

More recently, a couple of years ago, there was a small report about a new "wrinkle" in this area of enterprise.

Turns out that the Chinese have begun SKINNING their freshly executed condemned criminals, then processing the epidermal tissue to collect the collagens, which they then sell to European Cosmetics Manufacturers!

The article to which I link above is worth scanning, because it indicates that there are a number of practices that raise tremendous ethical questions.

Of course, these revelations did not raise many eyebrows in the West.

Naturally, since the eyebrows that should be raised are precisely the BOTOX-paralyzed narcissist rationalizing eyebrows of folks who are disinclined to worry about real moral issues, moreso if their own desires are involved.

3/20/2008 09:55:00 AM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

Dear mətušélaḥ,

You speak of nuclear power as though it were intrinsically evil, not a naturally-occuring phenomenon.

There are combinations and designs for power-generating reactors that use Uranium in forms that neither can be used for weapons, nor do they create weapons-useable by products. There are other nuclear "pile" designs that only work with weapons-grade Uranium, and some that CREATE plutonium in weapons-useful forms.

Every technology has costs and benefits. Dependence on Coal kills coal miners in mine disasters and a steady slow death from the effects of coal dust in the lungs. And it's not just the miners, but their families as well, because of the coal dust brought home on the clothing of the miners. Coal spews sulfur into the air (see what's happening in China!) and even radioactive trace elements which occur naturally in coal as ubiquitously as they appear in many other common materials.

Fer Pete's sake, there's measurable radiation emitted by the polished GRANITE we've been quarrying and dressing for fancy building facades for thousands of years!

The downside of our dependence on petroleum purchased from the Muslim Middle East becomes more evident with every Jihadi act of terror and intimidation.

The manufacturing process for solar photo-voltaic materials creates polluting wastes and by-products.

The discovery of uranium and the energy available from the binding energy of the atomic nucleus was just one inevitable way-station along the path of knowledge of how the universe works. Presumably these phenomena will in the fullness of time be teased out by every sentient race in the universe. It is a fundamental, a given, a set of facts that cannot be hidden and suppressed, once a culture begins to investigate the laws of thermodynamics and chemistry.

Where ya gonna get all those wonderful radio-isotopes for cancer diagnosis and therapy?

By your reasoning with respect to nuclear power, why should we allow biological facilities to do research on Ebola, Marburg, Hanta, Smallpox, HIV, or any of hundreds of other deadly diseases? The same facilities and knowledge can be used to create weapons-grade supplies of pathogens...

3/20/2008 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Mad Fiddler,

Nuclear is unsafe, polluting, prone to weaponization, vulnerable to terror attacks, and we can do without it.

It is also expensive. But since you're a proponent of nuclear power generation, show me that a building a nuclear plant, providing for its fuel, and then securing the spent fuel for the next 1000 years, is cheaper than building offshore wind plants, I'd be interested.

3/20/2008 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

Slim: There is no reason to be attitudinal about the University of Melbourne, it is to all intents and purposes a fine institution. Further Dr. Rosens book may have been written in 1990, but it is about the science, which has not changed much since then and which has been augmented by thousands of reactor-years of safe operation. The MIT paper is nice but the real info is in the appendices. However, it was generated with lots of input from politicians and its conclusions are political.

Mat: the obsession with proliferation is a side show. The one thing that we have learned over the past few years is that building nuclear weapons is not easy. In fact it takes a state level actor to do it. Not from the viewpoint of technical expertise because there companies in the US, Japan and France that could do it. But to guard the operation, requires a state level of territorial control.

At any rate. The existence or non existence of power reactors is not a proliferation factor, compared to the existence or non existence of totalitarian ideology. Most types of power reactors do not produce Pu that can be used in bombs. Used fuel from reactors is really hot and hard to handle. Despite the 100+ power reactors in the US, we are now short of Pu-239 for bomb maintenance and have to buy it from the Russians.

Proliferation would be a problem, and its dimensions would be no different, if there were no power reactors. The existence and power of nuclear weapons, is known. It cannot be put back in the bag. Evil regimes will try to build them in order to acquire military strength.

It could be argued that the existence of power reactors prevents proliferation because it creates a market for uranium ore. If there were no market, it would not be tracked and an evilly intended regime might get a hold of it without being discovered.

Finally, Mat, the $/kWh figure for solar is not the cost of a solar energy system. The sun rises and sets on a predictable basis. Further, around here, it is least present when it is most needed, like late December.

A solar system must include storage and transport mechanisms. My guess is that the capital cost for an entirely solar energy economy would far exceed the cost for a nuclear energy economy.

3/20/2008 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/20/2008 11:46:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Mətušélaḥ, you spout the line that nuclear is "unsafe". On what do you base that claim? More people have died from riding in Ted Kennedy's car then were killed at Three Mile Island. Sure, Chernobyl killed as many people as typically die in a Mexican bus accident, but that only proves that the Russian design (which could never get an operating license in America) was deeply flawed.

The most dangerous way of producing electricity is one which is embraced by tree-huggers and eco-freaks alike. In 1973, in mainland China, the Shimantan Dam collapsed and killed an estimated 230,000 people.

Why aren't you out protesting dams? We need more dam protesters in the energy industry!

So what about the nuclear waste? The volume of the entire world's spent fuel (air spaces, shielding and cladding removed) for a year - assuming a specific gravity of about 8 is less than 2,000 cubic metres, which is about the internal volume of my modest home (10 metres by 20 by 10). No wonder there is no immediate need to do anything with it. It is also NOT waste, but represents a recyclable resource as only about 1 to 3 percent of the contained energy is used in the first pass through the reactor cycle. Store it retrievably, and we will eventually use it for the remaining energy content.

3/20/2008 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

"Nuclear is unsafe, polluting, prone to weaponization, vulnerable to terror attacks, and we can do without it."

"Unsafe?" Wrong. Thousands of reactor years of operation in the US. No real safety problems. Even TMI is estimated to have caused no more than 3 excess deaths. Coal burning causes more than that every year.

"Polluting"? No. What pollutants do you think there are? Used fuel is not a pollutant it is a resource. After reprocessing used fuel into new fuel, the remaining fission products contain radioactive elements, most of which will be fairly cold within 30 years. At that time the residue contains a couple of hundred thousand dollars of rare and precious metals. Burning coal disperses much more radioactivity and more heavy elements into the biosphere than do nuclear power plants.

"Prone to weaponization"? No. see above.

"Vulnerable to terror attacks"? No. Actually they are very hard targets. Terrorists usually attack people, not things.

"We can do without it."? Only if the supply of fossil fuels is infinite and GW is a myth; or if we are willing to live like poor Bangladeshi peasants (I don't).

Another sufferer of the Gramscian Damage.

3/20/2008 11:57:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

..you spout the line that nuclear is "unsafe"..

Fine. I'll buy you a home in Chernobyl and we'll put your spout to a test.

3/20/2008 12:13:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/20/2008 12:24:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Fat Man,

If you're going to argue for nuclear, show me that nuclear is significantly cheaper than solar and offshore wind farms.

* "According to a recent report by experts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the “all-in” costs (capital plus operating) of electricity from a new nuclear plant operating for 40years at 85percent capacity would be 6.7cents/kWh."

* http://www.rff.org/Documents/RFF_Resources_156_nuclear.pdf

3/20/2008 12:32:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Ontario Hydro is building wind farms at a cost of 8.3 cents/kWh.

3/20/2008 12:59:00 PM  
Blogger Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

Kansas is the third most windy state in the US. Some say it's because Nebraska blows and Oklahoma sucks.

In the event, our best wind sites are producing power just 41% of the time.

We have been asked to demonstrate that "securing the spent fuel for the next 1000 years, is cheaper than building offshore wind".

Here's my radical proposition ... haul the waste to ElDorado, Saskatchewan and put it back in the hole it came out of. I'm a geologist who has worked in the ElDordado area -- it's been radioactive for about 2 billion years, and the mine though still radioactive is now inactive because the ore is no longer worth mining.

Putting radioactive waste into that hole will not change a thing. End of problem.

3/20/2008 05:36:00 PM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

"show me that nuclear is significantly cheaper than solar and offshore wind farms."

That is not difficult.

The chart with this NYTimes article
shows costs for various electric sources.

Its figure for Nuclear is about 6.5 cents, which is close enough to your cited 6.7 cents. The 9.5 cents for wind is close enough to the 8.3 cents you cite although there are currency and financing issues in the comparison. The solar thermal cost is shown at 12 cent, but the chart notes that is the best case estimate.

Nuclear costs are based on 100 running plants in the US. Nuclear is cheaper than any source other than coal or natural gas, when gas is less than $7/MMBTU (it is now $9). The coal cost does not include any CO2 reduction or sequestration.

As I pointed out above a solar (or wind) energy system must include storage and transport mechanisms. The sun sets every day, and sometimes it is covered by clouds. And the wind is a byword for fickleness. The 41% availibility cited above is the highest I have ever seen. Most sources expect 33%.

The capital cost for an entirely solar (and/or wind) energy economy, including all of the necessary storage and transportation investments, would far exceed the cost for a nuclear energy economy, and therefore lead to much higher per kWh costs.

QED. Nuclear is cheaper, and a lot cheaper than any alternative.

P.S. your Chernobyl cheap shot should be replaced with accurate information which can be found at this URL.

If instead of repackaging Gramiscian memes you studied the matter in greater detail, you would understand that Chernobyl is the extreme case at the outer boundary and that it was an industrial accident, well within the bounds of acceptable risks in an industrial society, not the end of life as we know it.

3/20/2008 09:49:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Fat Man,

My advocacy is simple. Invest the $500 billion a year currently spent on importing oil, in America, on clean renewable energy. Stop enriching islamers and foreign dictators with megalomaniac ambitions and dreams.

Solar is just starting to come online. As previously noted, the saving of large scale deployment are yet to be realized. As of today, solar is being produced at 12 cents (US) per k/Wh. That number is predicted drop to 6 cents per kW/h, as large scale adaption is realized and more capital becomes available to refine the technology.

Offshore wind is also an industry in its infancy. There are yet issues to be fully worked out. But the same argument applies. Offshore wind plants are only going to get cheaper as deployment becomes more widespread and as the technology and industry matures.

Nuclear, on the other hand, is a mature technology, and the capital cost involved, because of the long and expensive startup time, is always going to be more expensive. (I've already seen figures for new nuclear plants at 10 cents (US) per k/Wh, and higher).

Between Solar and Wind, there's enough capacity to fuel America's total energy need several times over, let alone enough satisfy its electrical energy needs or that of displacing foreign oil imports.

Finally, even if the argument for improved future efficiency for solar and wind does not became actualized in reality, I would rather "pay a 50% renewable clean energy tax", than go with nuclear. Call me a "tree hugger" if you like. But I bet you most of the public feels the same.

3/21/2008 04:18:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/21/2008 04:49:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Fat Man,

When I say significantly cheaper, I mean that there be something like an order of magnitude difference. As of today, we're talking about differences between 7, 8, and 12 cents per k/Wh. So there's little reason not to tell the military industrial complex and oil lobby to fsck off.

3/21/2008 04:55:00 AM  
Blogger Kirk Parker said...

M.,

"Invest the $500 billion a year currently spent on importing oil"

Uhh, and we're going to compensate for the $500B energy deficit this year exactly how? Your rosy SciAm article was talking about something happening 40 decades out, that would only replace 35% of our total energy needs. No "investment" this year in new, upcoming technologies is going to replace that energy in the same year! Stop being such a troll...

3/21/2008 07:45:00 AM  
Blogger Kirk Parker said...

Oops, that started out to say "40 years" and I changed it to "decades" but forgot to remove the zero. Sorry, make that "4 decades out".

3/21/2008 07:46:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Kirk,

I haven't slept all night, 7/10th of my brain has already said good night, but I'm still light years ahead of you in terms of functioning brain output.

How about we use 10% of that amount or $50 billion a year and start bringing new renewable energy plants online. I guarantee you that a $50 billion tender will start to get things moving real quick. This is still less than what is spent on the war in Iraq per year.

3/21/2008 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

I'm not so much a proponent of power from nuclear fission as I am aware of the costs for traditional fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum.

Those fuels could continue to be utilized, even expanded, but the cost will dramatically increase if we wish to eliminate the pollution and dangers to the workers in those industries.

Timber is a renewable resource, and while it involves problems, it is conceivable that trees could be farmed for fuel (think "pelletized" wood) just as it is for paper and other cellulose products.

One potential source that seems to hold some promise is TIDAL energy. I recall some articles and illustrations from Popular Science Magazine back in the 1970's or so. It probably awaits our ability to create giant structures that can resist much greater stresses than we're presently able to design for, but there is a tremendous amount of energy we can siphon from the Earth-Moon system without causing the Moon to suddenly stop in its orbit and come crashing down.

Look at the clanging irony of how the Greens have become sufficiently powerful in Germany that they've imposed a moratorium on the building of new nuclear power plants. As a result, Germany must purchase electric power from its neighbor France, which generates 80 per cent of its power by NUCLEAR FISSION!!

Mətušélaḥ, the criticisms you have listed for nuclear power cannot be dismissed. But they are also imponderable potentialities, not demonstrable facts. They can be addressed in the design of systems.

We're currently tolerating the deaths of hundreds of coal miners around the world each year or so in mining disasters. Meanwhile the numerous natural sources of radiation exposure that have been around throughout the history of the Earth CANNOT BE ELIMINATED--- cosmic rays, radon gas, Carbon 14 in the air we breath, radioactive trace isotopes in common building materials and fossil fuels, etc.

We seem to be able to tolerate a certain level of background radiation without detectable consequences. There are stochastic effects of micro-exposure, just as there are for chemical pollutants. But there are risks and costs and dangers in every choice.

Those known risks, along with all the horrifying distortions that come from our present dependence on petroleum obtained from regions populated by fanatical Anti-Western Islamic Jihadists, make all the challenges raised by Nuclear option seem pretty darned manageable. Ultimately, it's irresponsible and brutal to all those people injured and killed by the choices we have made, to REFRAIN from exploring every reasonable alternative, including Nuclear fission.

Eventually, fusion seems to be the answer, awaiting the refinement of the mechanisms of magnetic containment and focus. It may be a very long time yet.

We will probably continue to need petroleum for centuries into the future, as a raw resource for polymer chemistry manufacture. To the extent that we can expand OTHER sources of energy, that frees up petroleum as a manufacturing material, and the costs of THAT aspect should correspondingly drop.

3/21/2008 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Some rough calculations from information gleamed from these 2 articles to put things in perspective:

http://thefraserdomain.typepad.com/energy/2006/11/solel_to_build_.html
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1139395517655&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

"Solel is the successor company to Luz Industries, the builder of the nine SEGS systems operating successfully in California's Mojave Desert for the past 20 years, that produce 350 MW of electricity for 500,000 consumers and eliminate the need for two million barrels of oil annually."

** 350 MW of solar power = 2 mil barrels of oil eliminated from imports

"Construction of the Negev power plant was expected to cost about $350 million. Within 10 years, Solel intends to expand the facility to produce 500 MW of power daily, at a total investment of about $1 billion."

** 500 MW of solar power = $1 billion in cost

So $1 billion invested in solar power will roughly eliminate the need to import 3 million barrels of oil annually. The US imports roughly about 3.7 billion barrels of oil annually. Thus, for about a trillion dollars plus, which is roughly what it seems the Iraq war will cost, all US oil imports could've been replaced with clean solar energy. One trillion dollars is what the US spends in 2 years on oil imports.

3/21/2008 12:56:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Mad Fiddler,

You call it "imponderable potentialities", others call it a "side show", to me and my "shitty little country" it's a real existential threat. You can to be dismissive of Pakistan Iraq Iran Libya Egypt Jordan Saudia North Korea China France Canada Russia etc and their nuclear knowhow, but I prefer that their nuclear industries die out and that their technical knowledge dies with it.

3/21/2008 01:32:00 PM  
Blogger Kirk Parker said...

M.,

Arrgggghhh!

First of all, if you don't understand the difference between base load and peaking you shouldn't even be attempting to contribute to this discussion! We CANNOT replace an indefinite amount of steady-state electricity sources such as nuclear or coal (or even shorter-term but available-on-demand source, like NG, oil-fired, or gas turbines) with unpredictably-available sources like wind or daily-fluctuating sources like solar. Exactly what part of IT JUST WON'T SCALE don't you understand?

2. Seeing as how your entire sales pitch is about electricity generation, you're just ignoring all the other uses of petroleum and hoping no one will notice.

3/21/2008 02:31:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Kirk,

1/ "Arrgggghhh!"

Don't sleep and write! ;)

2/ ".., if you don't understand the difference between base load and peaking you shouldn't even be attempting to contribute to this discussion!"

from:
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2006/10/solel_solar_sys.php

"Israelis are planning to build a solar power station on 2,250 acres in Israel’s Negev desert. According to Arutz 7, the preparation for the station is expected to take a year and the actual construction another two years, at which point it will become operational. The station will begin supplying 100 megawatts of electricity – enough to supply power for 200,000 people - and eventually is expected to have have an annual output of 500 megawatts – enough to meet the needs of 1,000,000 Israelis."

So the rough calculation above is fine.

3/ "We CANNOT replace an indefinite amount of steady-state electricity sources such as nuclear or coal (or even shorter-term but available-on-demand source, like NG, oil-fired, or gas turbines) with unpredictably-available sources like wind or daily-fluctuating sources like solar."

I'm not asking for an indefinite amount. I'm asking for an amount enough to replace US oil imports, enough to stop enriching the jihadis with half a trillion US dollars a year and then shower them with sophisticated weapons systems.

4/ "Seeing as how your entire sales pitch is about electricity generation, you're just ignoring all the other uses of petroleum and hoping no one will notice."

What other uses? Fueling US Abrams tanks and humvees on purposeless 100 year military expeditions in Iraq at a cost of one hundred billion dollars a year? Fueling US fighter jets on purposeless buzz flights over the ME? Fueling US gas guzzlers that should be replaced with electric cars? What am I ignoring?

3/21/2008 04:49:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Mətušélaḥ said...
"What other uses?" (for oil)
The following is a partial list of the major commercial petrochemicals and their derivatives:

ethylene - the simplest olefin; used as a ripening hormone, a monomer and a chemical feedstock
polyethylenes - polymerized ethylene
ethanol - made by hydration (chemical reaction adding water) of ethylene
ethylene oxide - sometimes called oxirane; can be made by oxidation of ethylene
ethylene glycol - from hydration of ethylene oxide or oxidation of ethylene
engine coolant - contains ethylene glycol
polyesters - any of several polymers with ester linkages in the backbone chain
glycol ethers - from condensation of glycols
ethoxylates
vinyl acetate
1,2-dichloroethane
trichloroethylene
tetrachloroethylene - also called perchloroethylene; used as a dry cleaning solvent and degreaser
vinyl chloride - monomer for polyvinyl chloride
polyvinyl chloride (PVC) - type of plastic used for piping, tubing, other things
propylene - used as a monomer and a chemical feedstock
isopropyl alcohol - 2-propanol; often used as a solvent or rubbing alcohol
acrylonitrile - useful as a monomer in forming Orlon, ABS
polypropylene - polymerized propylene
propylene oxide
propylene glycol - sometimes used in engine coolant
glycol ethers - from condensation of glycols
isomers of butylene - useful as monomers or co-monomers
isobutylene - feed for making methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) or monomer for copolymerization with a low percentage of isoprene to make butyl rubber
1,3-butadiene - a diene often used as a monomer or co-monomer for polymerization to elastomers such as polybutadiene or a plastic such as acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS)
synthetic rubbers - synthetic elastomers made of any one or more of several petrochemical (usually) monomers such as 1,3-butadiene, styrene, isobutylene, isoprene, chloroprene; elastomeric polymers are often made with a high percentage of conjugated diene monomers such as 1,3-butadiene, isoprene, or chloroprene
higher olefins
polyolefins such poly-alpha-olefins which are used as lubricants
alpha-olefins - used as monomers, co-monomers, and other chemical precursors. For example, a small amount of 1-hexene can be copolymerized with ethylene into a more flexible form of polyethylene.
other higher olefins
detergent alcohols
acrylic acid
acrylic polymers
allyl chloride -
epichlorohydrin - chloro-oxirane; used in epoxy resin formation
epoxy resins - a type of polymerizing glue from bisphenol A, epichlorohydrin, and some amine
benzene - the simplest aromatic hydrocarbon
ethylbenzene - made from benzene and ethylene
styrene made by dehydrogenation of ethylbenzene; used as a monomer
polystyrenes - polymers with styrene as a monomer
cumene - isopropylbenzene; a feedstock in the cumene process
phenol - hydroxybenzene; often made by the cumene process
acetone - dimethyl ketone; also often made by the cumene process
bisphenol A - a type of "double" phenol used in polymerization in epoxy resins and making a common type of polycarbonate
epoxy resins - a type of polymerizing glue from bisphenol A, epichlorohydrin, and some amine
polycarbonate - a plastic polymer made from bisphenol A and phosgene (carbonyl dichloride)
solvents - liquids used for dissolving materials; examples often made from petrochemicals include ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, acetone, benzene, toluene, xylenes
cyclohexane - a 6-carbon aliphatic cyclic hydrocarbon sometimes used as a non-polar solvent
adipic acid - a 6-carbon dicarboxylic acid which can be a precursor used as a co-monomer together with a diamine to form an alternating copolymer form of nylon.
nylons - types of polyamides, some are alternating copolymers formed from copolymerizing dicarboxylic acid or derivatives with diamines
caprolactam - a 6-carbon cyclic amide
nylons - types of polyamides, some are from polymerizing caprolactam
nitrobenzene - can be made by single nitration of benzene
aniline - aminobenzene
methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) - used as a co-monomer with diols or polyols to form polyurethanes or with di- or polyamines to form polyureas
polyurethanes
alkylbenzene - a general type of aromatic hydrocarbon which can be used as a presursor for a sulfonate surfactant (detergent)
detergents - often include surfactants types such as alkylbenzenesulfonates and nonylphenol ethoxylates
chlorobenzene
toluene - methylbenzene; can be a solvent or precursor for other chemicals
benzene
toluene diisocyanate (TDI) - used as co-monomers with diols or polyols to form polyurethanes or with di- or polyamines to form polyureas
polyurethanes - a polymer formed from diisocyanates and diols or polyols
benzoic acid - carboxybenzene
caprolactam
nylon
mixed xylenes - any of three dimethylbenzene isomers, could be a solvent but more often precursor chemicals
ortho-xylene - both methyl groups can be oxidized to form (ortho-)phthalic acid
phthalic anhydride
para-xylene - both methyl groups can be oxidized to form terephthalic acid
dimethyl terephthalate - can be copolymerized to form certain polyesters
polyesters - although there can be many types, polyethylene terephthalate is made from petrochemical products and is very widely used.
purified terephthalic acid - often copolymerized to form polyethylene terephthalate
polyesters

Okay, I'm willing to do without the polyester...
:^)

3/22/2008 01:22:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

You've left sulfur, Mr Grynch. :)

3/22/2008 04:36:00 PM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

I honestly hope old Matusela is not reading this thread anymore. It is very hard to conduct an argument with a person who moves the goal posts when you make your point. But that tactic does reveal the truth about him. He is part of the problem, not part of the solution. He is a victim of Gramiscian memes and he cannot, because he will not, see it. Each of you is responsible for your own education. I have done my best to point out useful sources of information, but you must read them with an open mind.

3/22/2008 08:18:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Fat Man,

We are all victims of memes, Gramiscian and not.

You say, replacing imported oil with solar and wind equivalents is an impossible goal.
I say, it is not.

You say, 1940's technology is our saviour.
I say, it is not.

You say, proliferation of nuclear weapons technology is a side show.
I say, it is not.

You say, I will not see.
I say to you, I will not see not.

3/22/2008 09:14:00 PM  
Blogger Kirk Parker said...

Mat,

"You say, replacing imported oil with solar and wind equivalents is an impossible goal."

He certainly didn't say that; neither did I or anyone else here as far as I can see.

Instead, what we're objecting to is your suggestion that the best way to proceed right now is to engage in some massive government boondoggle. Sorry, not buying, not even at pennies on the dollar.

3/23/2008 08:17:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Kirk,

The biggest problem for these infant industries is getting the financing to move projects forward. If the government would go half and half with the banks the solar and wind companies the utility companies building new power plants, that will go a long way in clearing the obstacles for wide spread adoption. Spending half a trillion dollars a year on oil imports is just idiotic. Especially when you consider the blowback of these billions and trillions of jihadi petrol dollars and their corrupting and disfiguring effect on our military political economic religious and cultural institutions.

3/23/2008 08:55:00 PM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

As ARTHUR moves, the BLACK KNIGHT bars the way.

BLACK KNIGHT: None shall pass.

ARTHUR: What?

BLACK KNIGHT: None shall pass.

ARTHUR: I have no quarrel with you, brave Sir knight, but I must cross this bridge.

BLACK KNIGHT: Then you shall die.

ARTHUR: I command you, as King of the Britons to stand aside.

BLACK KNIGHT: I move for no man.

ARTHUR: So be it!

ARTHUR draws his sword and approaches the BLACK KNIGHT. A furious fight now starts lasting about fifteen seconds at which point ARTHUR delivers a mighty blow which completely severs the BLACK KNIGHT:'s left arm at the shoulder. ARTHUR steps back triumphantly.

ARTHUR: Now stand aside worthy adversary.

BLACK KNIGHT: (Glancing at his shoulder) 'Tis but a scratch.

ARTHUR: A scratch? Your arm's off.

BLACK KNIGHT: No, it isn't.

ARTHUR: (Pointing to the arm on ground) Well, what's that then?

BLACK KNIGHT: I've had worse.

ARTHUR: You're a liar.

BLACK KNIGHT: Come on you pansy!

Another ten seconds furious fighting till ARTHUR chops the BLACK KNIGHTS's other arm off, also at the shoulder. The arm plus sword, lies on the ground.

ARTHUR: Victory is mine. (sinking to his knees) I thank thee O Lord that in thy …

BLACK KNIGHT: Come on then.

ARTHUR: What?

He kicks ARTHUR hard on the side of the helmet. ARTHUR gets up still holding his sword. The BLACK KNIGHT: comes after him kicking.

ARTHUR: You are indeed brave Sir knight, but the fight is mine.

BLACK KNIGHT: Had enough?

ARTHUR: You stupid bastard. You haven't got any arms left.

BLACK KNIGHT: Course I have.

ARTHUR: Look!

BLACK KNIGHT: What! Just a flesh wound. (kicks ARTHUR)

ARTHUR: Stop that.

BLACK KNIGHT: (kicking ARTHUR) Had enough ... ?

ARTHUR: I'll have your leg. (He is kicked.) Right!

The BLACK KNIGHT: kicks him again and ARTHUR chops his leg off.

The BLACK KNIGHT: keeps his balance with difficulty.

BLACK KNIGHT: I'll do you for that.

ARTHUR: You'll what ... ?

BLACK KNIGHT: Come Here.

ARTHUR: What are you going to do. bleed on me?

BLACK KNIGHT: I'm invincible!

ARTHUR: You're a looney.

BLACK KNIGHT: The BLACK KNIGHT: always triumphs. Have at you!

ARTHUR takes his last leg off. The BLACK KNIGHT's body lands upright.

BLACK KNIGHT: All right, we'll call it a draw.

ARTHUR: Come, Patsy.

ARTHUR and PATSY start to cross the bridge.

BLACK KNIGHT: Running away eh? You yellow bastard, Come back here and take what's coming to you. I'll bite your legs off!

3/23/2008 10:18:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Fat Man,

Har! Humor me, with logic!

3/24/2008 04:05:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Another humorous side show:

Egypt to sign nuclear pact with Russia

THE JERUSALEM POST
Mar. 24, 2008

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak heads for Russia on Monday where he is expected to get assurances of Russian assistance to build a nuclear facility.

A bilateral nuclear power deal was outlined last week and is expected to be signed during the visit.

Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit said the pact would enable Egypt to tap into Russia's extensive experience in the field of nuclear energy.

The deal could allow Russia to participate in a tender to build nuclear reactors in Egypt.
The pact coincides with international efforts to pressure Iran into abandoning its nuclear program. Iran insists its program is for civilian purposes of manufacturing energy, but

Western countries are concerned Teheran is covertly making an atomic bomb.

The technologies for creating nuclear energy and nuclear bombs are similar and involve many dual-usage elements and substances.

Egypt is one of several Middle Eastern countries seeking a nuclear program. Cairo wants to revive its atomic energy program, which was aborted in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, when the dangers of such a program became apparent.

Other countries in the Middle East and North Africa region seeking nuclear programs include Jordan, Yemen, Morocco, Algeria, the Gulf countries and possibly Syria.

All the nuclear newcomers in the region, including Iran, claim their programs have peaceful purposes. But there are concerns that these countries are not only seeking new energy sources, but also wish to maintain a strategic balance in the region against Iran and against Israel's alleged atomic weapons program.

Israel maintains an official policy of ambiguity regarding its nuclear capabilities.
Russia is seen as a global leader in nuclear know-how and is helping Iran build some of its nuclear power plants, including the plant in Bushehr.

Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates has decided to set up a nuclear agency to assess and develop its nuclear energy program. The UAE signed an agreement with France in January to help develop the program.

Under the agreement, the UAE will not enrich uranium but will import the key substance from a "trusted foreign source," according to the Emirati news agency WAM.

3/24/2008 04:55:00 AM  
Blogger Kirk Parker said...

Mat,

"The biggest problem for these infant industries is getting the financing to move projects forward. "

This is as it should be. These are, as you say, infant industries with unproven technologies. What, you want the government to take its ethanol fuel fiasco and expand it tenfold? That's what you're asking for, whether you realize it or not.

3/24/2008 09:11:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Kirk,

I'm almost temped to call you a commie saboteur.

Why is it that it doesn't bother you none that hundreds of billions are wasted on one giant welfare program after another for the military and its contractors, or that hundreds of billions are wasted on welfare for ankle biting NATO members that wont carry their weight, or that hundreds of billions are wasted on welfare for NASA and its contractors, or that hundreds of billions are wasted protecting jihadist royalty and their oil cartel, yet when it comes to investing in proven technologies that might actually profit us with free energy 15 year down the road when capital costs have been recouped, you get the kvetch?

Are you a commie saboteur?

3/24/2008 01:50:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

January 6, 2006

Green: The New Red, White and Blue

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

As we enter 2006, we find ourselves in trouble, at home and abroad. We are in trouble because we are led by defeatists - wimps, actually.

What's so disturbing about President Bush and Dick Cheney is that they talk tough about the necessity of invading Iraq, torturing terror suspects and engaging in domestic spying - all to defend our way of life and promote democracy around the globe.

But when it comes to what is actually the most important issue in U.S. foreign and domestic policy today - making ourselves energy efficient and independent, and environmentally green - they ridicule it as something only liberals, tree-huggers and sissies believe is possible or necessary.

Sorry, but being green, focusing the nation on greater energy efficiency and conservation, is not some girlie-man issue. It is actually the most tough-minded, geostrategic, pro-growth and patriotic thing we can do. Living green is not for sissies. Sticking with oil, and basically saying that a country that can double the speed of microchips every 18 months is somehow incapable of innovating its way to energy independence - that is for sissies, defeatists and people who are ready to see American values eroded at home and abroad.

Living green is not just a "personal virtue," as Mr. Cheney says. It's a national security imperative.

The biggest threat to America and its values today is not communism, authoritarianism or Islamism. It's petrolism. Petrolism is my term for the corrupting, antidemocratic governing practices - in oil states from Russia to Nigeria and Iran - that result from a long run of $60-a-barrel oil. Petrolism is the politics of using oil income to buy off one's citizens with subsidies and government jobs, using oil and gas exports to intimidate or buy off one's enemies, and using oil profits to build up one's internal security forces and army to keep oneself ensconced in power, without any transparency or checks and balances.

When a nation's leaders can practice petrolism, they never have to tap their people's energy and creativity; they simply have to tap an oil well. And therefore politics in a petrolist state is not about building a society or an educational system that maximizes its people's ability to innovate, export and compete. It is simply about who controls the oil tap.

In petrolist states like Russia, Iran, Venezuela and Sudan, people get rich by being in government and sucking the treasury dry - so they never want to cede power. In non-petrolist states, like Taiwan, Singapore and Korea, people get rich by staying outside government and building real businesses.

Our energy gluttony fosters and strengthens various kinds of petrolist regimes. It emboldens authoritarian petrolism in Russia, Venezuela, Nigeria, Sudan and Central Asia. It empowers Islamist petrolism in Sudan, Iran and Saudi Arabia. It even helps sustain communism in Castro's Cuba, which survives today in part thanks to cheap oil from Venezuela. Most of these petrolist regimes would have collapsed long ago, having proved utterly incapable of delivering a modern future for their people, but they have been saved by our energy excesses.

No matter what happens in Iraq, we cannot dry up the swamps of authoritarianism and violent Islamism in the Middle East without also drying up our consumption of oil - thereby bringing down the price of crude. A democratization policy in the Middle East without a different energy policy at home is a waste of time, money and, most important, the lives of our young people.

That's because there is a huge difference in what these bad regimes can do with $20-a-barrel oil compared with the current $60-a-barrel oil. It is no accident that the reform era in Russia under Boris Yeltsin, and in Iran under Mohammad Khatami, coincided with low oil prices. When prices soared again, petrolist authoritarians in both societies reasserted themselves.

We need a president and a Congress with the guts not just to invade Iraq, but to also impose a gasoline tax and inspire conservation at home. That takes a real energy policy with long-term incentives for renewable energy - wind, solar, biofuels - rather than the welfare-for-oil-companies-and-special-interests that masqueraded last year as an energy bill.

Enough of this Bush-Cheney nonsense that conservation, energy efficiency and environmentalism are some hobby we can't afford. I can't think of anything more cowardly or un-American. Real patriots, real advocates of spreading democracy around the world, live green.

Green is the new red, white and blue.

3/25/2008 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger Papa Ray said...

Late to the party again as usual, but wanted to get my two cents in.

Yes, our politicians and the average American doesn't have a clue or if they do they do the wrong thing with it.

And yes, energy is a problem for not only us but for the rest of the world, but it will solve itself. Don't believe me? Just wait and hold on.

Back to the threat from Islamics and the enemies within our borders.

We as a nation (meaning the majority of Americans) are not prepared for war within our borders, no matter who with.

But there is a growing number of Americans who not only understand the threats are putting money, ideas, organisation, people and other efforts to insure that not only their families and themselves survive ANYTHING but also their friends as well.

Never heard of such a thing, well, we don't advertise, nor recruit. Those that are of like mind find us, join up and add thier treasure and efforts, work and resources to the cause.

Oh..the cause..what might that be? Well survival and reconstruction come to mind, but that is not all. We plan to re-make this republic like it was intended UNDER GOD. No we are not Christian Fundies, nor radical anything, except of course we are radicals about surviving any problem, situation or threat that comes to America.

Those of you who don't understand us or might be afraid of us, have no problem as long as you do not threaten us or our families. So I advise you start planing for the worse, so you won't be looking for handouts and help from those that have prepared for the worse.

Buy more Ammo.

Papa Ray
West Texas
USA

3/25/2008 07:04:00 PM  

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