Saturday, 1 August 2015

Tar sand mining IS the Clean Up

Just a reminder, tar has been oozing into the Athabasca River since forever.
Seventy or eighty miles along the river-bank, out of which oil oozes at frequent intervals... …tar there is … in plenty. … It oozes from every fissure, and into some bituminous tar wells we can poke a twenty-foot pole and find no resistance.(1909 & Cameron 71)
Have you seen that pop-up propaganda ad, "one drop of oil pollutes a million drops of water", the ad showing a guy with his mouth under a spigot of motor oil?

It was a profit to the natives when they patched their canoes with it but now there's better money available in cheques from the Tides Corporation.

Related: Forest fires this summer in northern Alberta and Saskatchewan polluted on a staggering scale compared to the tar sands.  h/t smalldeadanimals

Central USA June 29th
A reminder that smoke
must go somewhere.

Friday, 31 July 2015

The Government America Deserves: The Donald Is A Better Fit Than Hillary Or Jeb

This is about democracy, not wisdom and it's no contest that a brash loudmouth with brains, money and bling is more  appealing to Americans than wussified slates of politicians. When I saw this video of two giggling black ladies telling us not to dump on Trump, I knew that if he wins the GOP convention, for better or worse America will have "President Trump" because he'll capture chunks of the Democrat's tame electorate.
Who should be number one?  An aristocrat or the common man, a plutocrat or an Ivy League lawyer, anyone who can get a majority of votes or the descendents of past rulers? (Bush, Clinton and Queen Elizabeth).   Democracy will always be gamed by strong players but even without them, democracy will just deliver the kind of government you deserve to get.  You may not like it but any political mechanism that forces an orderly recreation of the leadership is better than all the alternatives.

And today from Breitbart:
"Donald Trump, culturally speaking, a terrific fit for black America. Blacks seem to identify with Trump’s swagger: they put him in enough rap songs, after all. He’s got hip-hop cred and defiant charisma the dreary Obama could never hope to match."

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Organic food laced with natural poisons

"99.99 percent (by weight) of the pesticides in the American diet are chemicals that plants produce to defend themselves" The vast majority of pesticidal substances that we consume are in our diets “naturally” and are present in organic foods as well as non-organic ones. Moreover, “natural and synthetic chemicals are equally likely to be positive in animal cancer tests.” Thus, consumers who buy organic to avoid pesticide exposure are focusing their attention on just one-hundredth of one percent of the pesticides they consume.

Bruce Ames.jpg
Bruce Ames
Sourced at Forbes, quoting an unnamed Berkley study by Ames and colleagues. The Ames link is clear that he has published in this field and designed the most common test for mutagenicity but doesn't point to a specific paper.

It's no surprise that a life form that competes with us but has no legs has found a thousand tricks to be bitter, prickly, nauseating, sour, rash-causing and generally tough.  That goes into the food chain.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Science fiction rocket drive sounding like non-fiction now.

An unexplained electromagnetic propulsion drive continues to pass tests.  "For every action there is an equal and opposite action" was gospel from Newton's day but this darn thing (RF resonant cavity thruster) just goes without a push-back.   The Telegraph story is one of many that hit the news this week.   It's been properly pooh-poohed for more than a decade because the science is still missing. But it's been duplicated and triplicated.  The EM Drive is turning into one of the top stories ever for space exploration.

From The Telegraph:
It produces thrust by using solar power to generate multiple microwaves that move back and forth in an enclosed chamber. This means that until something fails or wears down, theoretically the engine could keep running forever without the need for rocket fuel. (It) defies one of the fundamental concepts of physics – the conservation of momentum –
Shawyer invented it over ten years ago but recently NASA said they think it works and a professor at the Dresden University of Technology demonstrated that it produces thrust.  Chinese researchers also came up with a working model with net thrust.  The picture below (from the Telegraph) belongs in a Jules Verne movie with its coppery plate and myriad bolts.

The concept of a photon rocket has been around for a while, that the emission of photons can generate thrust in space.  The thrust generation of the new device has a thousand-fold advantage. Sounds promising.  Until the science is known, leave this one in the PENDING file, a game changer if scaled up and understood.

Using people to think will be like using monkeys to test drugs

We are no Lords of Creation, more like grass of the field that caught fire.  When the fuel is gone the fire will disappear.   I see three paths of combustion:  1. The singularity is near  with a hyperbolic transformation of human nature into something other.  2.  We perish from the earth for our sins or some accident from outer space.  3:  The flare-up of consciousness passes from people to AI.   Using people to think will be like using monkeys to test drugs, a cheap work-around until something better composes itself.

Picture billions of humans, sort of the Northern Spotted Owl of tomorrow, not very useful but cheap to leave content in ecological reserves.  Today there’s worry about jobs lost to robots as San Francisco raises the minimum wage to $15 and totally awesome hamburgermachines get invented to compensate.  Tomorrow it will be so cheap to supply basic energy, food and selfies to humans that most people will have no need to work unless they have a spark within.     

Per Ardua Ad Astra will be for the very few.  All progress is self-limiting, coming up with zoning rules, copyrights, review boards and Thou Shalt Nots to keep things just the way they are after I got mine.  With self-driving cars and bicycle helmets,  eco-reserves for minnows and frogs, reflective jackets and dawn-to-dusk parent-patrolled childhood, there will be less challenge and those who survive will be both fit and un-fit.  In other words, evolution is treated like the enemy.   People as we know them are becoming less fit to survive and reproduce though richer and freer than ever before.

What fuel these mortals be.
As a conservative do you protect the fuel or the spark?

Third party surprise

What if the third party run in the USA is the GOP?  A populist storm with Trump out in front could own the Republican brand.   The McConnells and Boehners and Cheneys would be the splinter in 2020 trying to re-brand for the good old days, a bit like the Progressive Conservatives trying to get their party back from the rednecks out of Alberta.  Clever Trump got in some points with the Palin crowd today.  He's no conservative but he's zeitgeist.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Conventional wisdom about energy use

What you knew as a youth about energy is mostly baloney today. Look at the profound changes in the chart.  Remember muscle and firewood?  In my grandfather’s childhood they supplied 90% of Europe's energy.  Now they’re heritage sidelines for tourists who want to ride in rickshaws and see maple syrup made old-style in a sugaring bush.    The oil haters can’t trace their evil enemy back much before WW2 and it’s already being displaced by gas.  (The chart is normalized to 100% every year and gives relative importance only.)

Sourced here

Related: Where energy comes from and where it is consumed in America in a handy chart. Most waste is from vehicles and power generation while home and industry uses are tight.  The inputs are already out of date in this chart.

Canada's clean air and water prove the Pope's wrong about capitalism.

Capitalism continues to lift millions out of poverty when given a chance. It also pays for cleaning up the air and water.   Pollution is way down in Canada as the Fraser Institute has to remind us every year.
"It is precisely in the countries where markets are relatively free, and where private enterprise is allowed to pursue profits, that we have seen the greatest gains in environmental quality over the past half century. The best examples of this are two decidedly capitalist countries, Canada and the United States.    On almost all measures, Canadians currently experience significantly better air quality than at any other time since continuous monitoring of air quality began in the 1970s. Concentrations of nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide, for instance, have decreased sharply. Concentrations of carbon monoxide, a potent toxic emission, have decreased everywhere in Canada. And it’s not simply air quality that has improved. As previous reports have documented, water quality in Canada is generally quite good, and forests are no longer harvested beyond levels that are considered environmentally protective. More and more waste water is subject to high levels of treatment before being released to the environment, more solid waste is being diverted to recycling, soil quality has improved, and the size of protected areas has increased over recent decades. The United States has seen similar (if not greater) improvements in environmental protection. A 2005 report published by the U.S. Department of State summarized 30 years of environmental progress thus: “During this time, the U.S. economy grew by 187 per cent, population grew by 39 percent, and energy consumption increased by 47 per cent, yet air pollution decreased by 48 percent. In 2002, 94 per cent of Americans were served by community water systems that met all health-based standards, up from 79 per cent of the population in 1993.” And improvements continue. As of 2013, according to the EPA, ambient concentrations of carbon monoxide decreased by 84 per cent of their 1980 levels; ozone had fallen by 33 per cent; ambient lead by 92 per cent, and sulfur dioxide by 81 per cent over the same time span."
Pope Francis should make his point by telling the world: "Search out lands where smog is beaten back and sewage kept from streams. Such emulate".

If you click on the "lift millions out of poverty" link above, you'll find Michael Totten's article on the miracle turnaround in Vietnam, a sample herewith:
"State subsidies were abolished. Private businesses were allowed to operate again. Businessmen, investors, and employees could keep their profits and wages. Farmers could sell their produce on the open market and keep the proceeds instead of giving them up to the state. The results were spectacular. It took some time for a middle class to emerge, but from 1993 to 2004, the percentage of Vietnamese living in poverty dropped from 60 percent to 20 percent. Before Doi Moi, the command economy contracted, and inflation topped out at over 700 percent; it would eventually shrink to single digits. After years of chronic rice shortages, Vietnam became the world’s second-largest exporter of rice."

Saturday, 25 July 2015

President Trump: A credible preview.

This WHAT IF scenario comes from Roger Simon.  ("Get Used To It").
Amidst the humor you learn Trump has a drinks business in Israel and are reminded that negotiations will be brisk, that ISIS won't be getting any love, some deadwood will be fired and the private sector will be pumping out new jobs.  Iran will be out and Israel will be in.

"Trigger warnings" will be silly again.

Political Philosophies That Weaponize Losers

Use this meme to prevail in argument.  Sourced from Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit and applied to Western followers of ISIS and Communism.

More at Holland's "Political Pilgrims".  People who seek Utopian "hope and change" are driven by a deep discontent with their own societies, which leads them to deny or excuse the myriad moral defects of the places they visit. (Paraphrased).

Friday, 24 July 2015

The Trump Test: Are You More Populist Than Conservative?

Are you appalled at Trump's policy but drawn to his plain speech?  He's no conservative but he is a populist.  Populism is more democratic than conservatism.  Conservatism depends on policy, not how governments surrender to change.    I must be more populist than conservative because I want a break from suck-up phony language more than I want a balanced budget.

From Commentary Magazine:   Populism has been defined as “an ideology which pits a virtuous and homogeneous people against a set of elites and dangerous ‘others’ who are together depicted as depriving (or attempting to deprive) the sovereign people of their rights, values, prosperity, identity and voice.”
The encroachment of elites on my speech and behaviour in the personal realm has been bothering me more of late than the deficits, debasing of currency, and tentacular expansion of the state in the financial realm.  Some plain talk is needed.  Maybe homosexuality isn't the greatest or even a particularly good choice.  Maybe having children isn't bad and possibly even an awesome undertaking.   Maybe making nice to nasty people won't re-set the world and might even make it a more dangerous place.   Maybe letting kids play on their own as long as they get home in time for bed isn't child abandonment and possibly even a good way to bring them up.   Trump isn't saying that but the topics he has hit on get that kind of plain talk.

Two loudmouths (National Post)
Now that the US has it's own Rob Ford, embrace it for a bit.  Trump is as much of a political genius as your typical Hollywood star who likes to pontificate in front of a microphone.  But he has the ability to change the way the wind sock of public debate is pointing.  Even the current GOP roster of candidates will speak more plainly, if only to combat Trump.    I'll be listening to the August 6th debate.  (Hoping to see Walker shine and sorry Fiorina will miss).