Thursday, August 31, 2006

Brody's Adopted!!

My foster dog Brody was formally adopted today. Brody was part of a litter of 9 born to an abandoned mother. I have had Brody in my home since March, 2005 so he and I are good buddies. Brody is going to a couple who adopted his brother Dallas. Here are the last picture I took today of Brody and Jake.

Rich nations' greenhouse gases up

Reuters reports that despite the desire of the nations who ratified the Kyoto protocol, emissions for 2004 were up over previous years.
Industrialized nations' emissions of greenhouse gases edged up to the highest level in more than a decade in 2004 despite curbs meant to fight global warming, data compiled by Reuters showed on Thursday. The figures, based on national submissions to the U.N. Climate Secretariat in Bonn, indicate many countries will have to do more to meet 2012 goals set by the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol for cutting emissions of gases from fossil fuels.

Emissions from 40 industrial nations climbed 1.6 percent overall to 17.8 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide -- mainly from power plants, factories and cars -- in 2004 from in 2003 even though oil prices were surging.

"We're not on track to solve climate change by any stretch of the imagination," said Alex Haxeltine, an expert at the University of East Anglia in England. Governments were doing little to plan for cuts in emissions beyond Kyoto, he added.

So if the nations who did ratify Kyoto cannot curb the their own emissions, how can they expect the rest of the world to suffer their condescension on the issue?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Broncos Teach Texans

Everyone Knows it is almost time for the regular season to start. I never pay attention until the first game. I don't know any of the changed from season to season until the games start. I do know that the Houston Texans have Gary Kubiak as their coach. Now I see they stole another Bronco.

As I believe all along, a strong offensive line will bring both a running game and time for Carr to throw. That is what the Broncos are known for. Can Kubiak do that with the Texans? Time will tell.

Of course, I am a life-long Bronco fan so I really don't have a dog in this fight. If the Broncos can help the Texans, that is all good.

Calif. to cap greenhouse gas emissions

Calif. to cap greenhouse gas emissions
California would become the first state to impose a limit on all greenhouse gas emissions, including those from industrial plants, under a landmark deal reached Wednesday by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative Democrats.

The agreement marks a clear break with the Bush administration and puts California on a path to reducing its emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by an estimated 25 percent by 2020.

The bill still needs lawmakers' approval, but that appears likely, given that Democrats control the Legislature.

The deal gives Schwarzenegger a key environmental victory as he seeks re-election this fall.

"We can now move forward with developing a market-based system that makes California a world leader in the effort to reduce carbon emissions," the governor said in a statement.

The bill would require the state's major industries -— such as utility plants, oil and gas refineries, and cement kilns - to reduce their emissions of the pollutants widely believed to contribute to global warming.

The key mechanism driving the reductions would be a market program allowing businesses to buy, sell and trade emission credits with other companies.
As I wrote here, I am skeptical of pollution credit markets. The government and traders are the only ones who benefit from such a program. Also, California will just export their emissions outside their borders not really reduce the emissions.

Anyway, we will see what happens.

BP Gas Pricing Inquiry Under way

This is just another and another and another string of inquiries into gas price manipulation that will likely end like all other FTC probes of the past: NOTHING and NOTHING and NOTHING It is politics as usual.
Federal investigators are reportedly looking into whether BP manipulated gasoline and crude oil markets between 2002 and 2004.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission has subpoenaed BP and other energy trading firms in the oil investigation, focusing on possible manipulation of over-the-counter markets for these commodities in 2003 and 2004.

Indicted College President Teaches Again

And indicted college President returns to the college to teach, of all things, accounting.
Priscilla Slade, the former Texas Southern University president fired for spending school money on personal expenses, is teaching accounting courses on campus this semester.

Her return to the classroom comes four weeks after a Harris Country grand jury indicted Slade and three aides for allegedly paying for household furnishings and landscaping, among other things, for her benefit.

Weeks ago, I said that America faces an ethics crisis. People like Slade have no shame when it comes to these issues. Her colleagues should be drumming her out of the profession for these ethical lapses. Instead, she is welcomed back into the fold like nothing happened. It is shameful what America has become.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

My Summer Vacation

I just got home from visiting my father in Wyoming spending the week there along with my sister and two nephews.

While I was there, we went hiking west of Laramie and went shooting at the gun range (nothing big, just a .22 rifle and semi-auto pistol). I also read two and one-half books. Normally, I read non-fiction, but this trip, I read two science fiction books.:

Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card - I read Ender's Game a long time ago and loved it. I never did follow the series until my 12 year old nephew started talking about how awesome the following books were. While in Laramie, I picked up the book and finished it before the vacation ended. Awesome! I am going to buy and read the rest of the series.

Musashi Flex by Steve Perry - many years ago, I read most of his books and loved them. I saw this book and thought it was one I read before as part of the 97th Step series. However, it was a new book that is actually a prequel. Good book.

I am currently reading Re-Imagine by Tom Peters (of In Search of Excellence fame). It is a business re-invention book. Pretty "pie in the sky" so far, but worth it.

Other observations:
-Northern Colorado is growing at a pace I have not seen since I left 15 years ago. There are more new businesses and housing developments in areas that were farms when I was a kid. The growth around North Denver, Longmont, Berthoud, Loveland and Ft Collins is amazing.

-Laramie, Wyoming is a town that does not change fast. I once remarked about 5 years ago that the town has not changed in 30 years. It too is seeing a surge in new home growth that strikes me as odd. While out walking, we noticed 3,000 square foot houses (basement included) selling for $400,000-plus. That is just amazing to me for a town that has no large employers. I heard someone say once that the cost of a house is directly related to the number and quality of jobs within 30 miles of it. I wonder what jobs support a housing market like Laramie is seeing. It cannot be all the University.

-In Berthoud, there is a senior complex that has individual homes, apartments and assisted living spaces all surrounding a fantastic senior center. It is a new wave of places offering all levels of housing for aging baby-boomers. My aunt and uncle are going to move into one of the houses with plans to move to an apartment as they grow older. It is pricey, but they have the money to afford it. I see this as an innovative way to serve an aging population.

Other than that, it was a good week of vacation followed by a blizzard of work awaiting me Monday morning. I hope my two loyal fans did not miss me too much.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Media and Chemical Companies

This is why I dislike the media's dumbed down coverage of chemical companies.
"It was a real strong smell of burning plastic," she said.

Um, no. Styrene does not smell like burning plastic. It is more sickly sweet. I worked 10 years for a company that processed and used styrene on a daily basis. The thing about styrene is it makes you nauseated at very low concentrations and has an odor threshold in the <10 parts-per-billion.

This is what I find so objectionable:
John Hughes, secretary of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, said first responders reported that the leak was a result of a defective valve on a railroad tanker car carrying 20,000 pounds of styrene. Officials believed the cause was a buildup of pressure in the tanker, he said.

Sorry, a defective relief valve does not cause a buildup in pressure with a product like styrene. More likely, the styrene was polymerizing which, in styrene, is a chemical reaction that gives off heat (exothermic). I am surprised because most styrene is transported inhibited so it will not polymerize. In fact, I suspect it is against the law to transport uninhibited styrene due to problems just like this.

Regardless, the media needs to do a better job of describing what is going on with specific instances and also understand the thousands of hazardous material shipments that are made by chemical companies each year. The public should also be aware of how much their lives depend upon chemical companies before condemning them like it always seems to do.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

End of the World

A controversial UT professor warns of the earth's end.
His name is Eric Pianka, and students enrolled in his Ecology, Evolution and Society course will hear a sad synopsis of Earth's vanishing species and habitats — coupled with an apocalyptic warning about humans racing obliviously toward the edge of a high cliff.

I had a similar professor in engineering school 15 years ago who argued that the earth already passed it's "carrying capacity". Yeah right! We have seen an unprecedented economic and population explosion since then.

The bottom line is humans always have doomsday prophecies that never come to pass. Why do you think the nutty Tim Lahaye's Left Behind series does so well.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Light Blogging for a Week

For my two loyal blog readers, blogging will be light or non-existent between 19-Aug and 26-Aug. No Carnival of Carbon either.

Solar Power done Right

I am all for solar power when it is done right. Incentives are the way to go:
Eight out of 10 Americans believe home builders should offer solar power as an option in new home construction, according to a Roper survey conducted earlier this year. Half of those surveyed said they would pay up to 10% more for a solar-equipped house. In the past, home buyers were reluctant to opt for solar since the equipment needed to halve energy consumption cost $15,000 to $18,000. But the real cost of solar power is falling, thanks to cash rebates, tax credits and other financial incentives from the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

"Both home builders and consumers can receive up to a $2,000 tax credit, thanks to this legislation," said Emily English, manager of the National Association of Home Builders' Green Building Program. "In New Jersey, state rebates can reduce the cost of solar equipment by 70%."

Ford to Slash Production

As I wrote here, it appears that the decline of the American auto industry continues. It is a shame really as American can be competitive in almost any manufacturing venue given the right management style. Honda and Toyota plants are as productive using American workers as they are in Japan. It is a matter of top-down bureaucracy being trimmed back so that the common man is empowered to do his best on the manufacturing floor. Here is how AP describes the latest Ford information:
Ford Motor Co. said Friday it would temporarily halt production at 10 assembly plants between now and the end of the year, blaming high gas prices for pushing many consumers away from its pickups and SUVs and toward higher-mileage models.
I wonder what was their first clue. Could it be history repeating itself from 30 years ago? If I was a Ford employee or stockholder, I would fire each and every manager above front level supervisor and bring in a couple of consultants like, say, Eli Goldratt and Bill Creech (who unfortunately passed away in 2003), partner with Toyota or Honda and turn Ford into a lean, mean, manufacturing machine dedicated to high mileage, hybrid manufacturing. Sink cash into manufacturing technology like Toyota does, and return American manufacturing back into the post-WWII powerhouse it once was.

But, *sigh*, it won't happen and Ford, like GM, will fade from the American landscape, subjected to either bankruptcy or takeover. Americans will have to adapt, despite being given a break by Toyota.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Global Warming and backlash Wager

A�::� letter in the Montgomery Advertiser raises the specter of assuming Global Warming to be true because the consequences are too high to not believing in the phenomena. They equate that to Pascal's wager regarding God belief. Of course, both wagers are fundamentally wrong because there is a great cost to believing GW to be human caused if indeed it is not. In the same way, there is a human cost to believing in God and leading a religious life if indeed there is no God. Therefore, the premise of both GW's and Pascal's wager is false leading to an illogical conclusion. Neither is a sensible bet. Seeking truth and understanding via reason, logic and evidence is the only sensible way to go through life. Any other method is fooling oneself into believing something that might not be so.

Microbe and Global Warming Gas Production

I am not sure I understand this issue. Perhaps someone can explain what a microbe has to do with global warming gas production.

A MICROSCOPIC organism being studied by scientists in Scotland is threatening to turn current thinking about the production of greenhouse gases on its head.

Until now the scientific community has believed that only one form of micro-organism, bacteria, has been responsible for converting decomposing plants and animal waste into nitrate - a key part of the nitrogen cycle, which sustains all living things on earth.

Al Gore Fires Back

Peter Schweitzer has some backtracking to do:
Gore receives no royalties from the mine, which shut down in 2003. (USA Today actually printed a correction about this, way down on page 10A.) Gore owns no stock in Occidental, and never has (his father did; it was all sold over six years ago). Gore does in fact take advantage of the green power options his utility offers, and was in the process of adding photovoltaic solar cells to his house when the article came out. He pays for his own personal carbon offsets, in addition to the institutional offsets purchased by Paramount (movie distributor) and Rodale (book publisher), which make both the book and the movie completely carbon neutral.
Regardless, claiming the moral high ground may require riding coach and not taking SUV caravans. I'm just sayin'.


Is the government manipulating the climate to mitigate global warming?

More Big Business Going Green

Is Wal-Mart really serious about this or is it a way to keep big government at bay.

The 800 Wal-Mart Stores employees gathered in the home office for an all-day meeting were used to this kind of rah-rah talk. Top executives from Fortune 500 companies regularly trek to Bentonville, Ark., to pay homage to one of the to one of the world's most powerful companies and to shout out Wal-Mart cheer. This time, though, the cheerleading was coming from an unlikely source: Al Gore.

Wal-Mart had invited America's most famous environmentalist to show his movie, "An Inconvenient Truth." "Having the former Democratic Vice President was a shock"

Big Business Goes Green

This is actually kinda cool. Large retailers can go green and still make a profit.
Something weird is happening in the once marginal world of environmentalism. The green cause is no longer the preserve of woolly-minded liberals and fringe activists. Its tenets are being actively pursued by business leaders, stockholders and investment managers

Common Global Warming Reaction

She is what I envision as being a typical American in this regard:
I'm a half ass supporter & a total hypocrite myself which is why I have done little. You see, I'm obsessed with cars - I want more & with bigger engines. If I had the money, I would own at least five cars right now. Changing my light bulbs, recycling, riding my bitchen scooter to the grocery & using less water has been the minimum (the least I can do). I'm ashamed of what I know, the lack of effort & compromise I make & the languid disposition I have in regard to social change at present. I don't want to be this way, but until I talk less & do more, I'm a joke. I'm not down with our image obsessed society therefore Al Gore or anyone else who purports grave concern, but does little to nothing. If drastic affects are upon us & happening now to our sweet mother, then why don't we make drastic changes in our individual lives to counteract it? If enough people believed THEIR choices mattered, I think the world would be a better place. This is not just an environmental statement - it applies to everything.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

GW Commentary

This is not sophisticated commentary, but matches some of my own comments:
Al Gore's recent docu-film, "An Inconvenient Truth," made a splash at theaters and tried to present the phenomenon of a warming Earth in an easy-to-digest fashion.
But quickly the armchair assessments began.

Gore is an alarmist trumpeting fiction as fact. He's using this issue as a jumping-off point for a 2008 presidential bid. He's still Gore the Bore.

[Gore] brings attention to an issue that sorely needs it, but his political history threatens to obscure it.

That's a shame, because this discussion isn't about Gore.

It's about evaluating the impact 6 billion of us have on the planet. That population is projected to reach a breathtaking 9 billion by 2050.
Exactly. It is not about Gore, but Gore has made it that way and the conservative "right" has jumped all over him. The liberal left has too.
There are others, such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Richard Lindzen, who find "no substantive basis for the warming scenarios being popularly described."

What's the average person to do?

No doubt some of the problem stems from news articles and columns like the one you're reading. Non-scientists, like yours truly, seek to understand and explain something that is anything but black-and-white.

In other words, we try to put things into the aforementioned "nutshell."

Rather than listen to me, or CNN or FOX News or any other media outlet, do your own research. Be willing to be swayed. And then make your decision.

Skeptics are good for debate. They serve to slow the train and force us to closely examine what we believe to be true. But when the train grinds to a halt, healthy discourse ceases.
Once again. Exactly correct. Do your own research, be willing to be swayed, make your own decision. Skeptics are not only good for the debate, but essential in a free, secular and scientific society that is interested in truth over convenience (or inconvenience for that matter).

Unfortunately, your intrepid blogger has been unable to devote much time to researching the claims beyond reading a few scientific papers and finding some interesting CO2 and temperature data. Hopefully, I will have time in the weeks ahead to consolidate my viewpoint based upon that research and present it here.

Green Star Products

I posted recently on GSPI's attempt to build a CO2 Neutral plant. I then went to their website to see what kind of company it was.

The first thing I noticed is the financial statements are only available through 2003. This is not a good sign. Here is the explanation:
However, we are slightly behind on finishing our financials because, as many of you know, the accounting procedures have become immensely more complex over the last two years due to the Sarbanes Oxley Act.

This sets off alarm bells for me. The SOx provisions the GSPI CEO is probably most interested in is the certification of the financial report by the CEO and CFO under section 302. That has been in effect since 2002

I will be interested to see their financials once completed in "late July". Until then, I would not invest a dime in such a venture.

Carbon-Neutral Biodiesel Plant?

Green Star that they will build the first carbon-neutral biodiesel plant. While the certainly get an "A" for effort and we certainly need more technological efforts like this, let us approach the subject with some clarity.

First, the claim of carbon neutrality in the title turns to "almost zero" in the first paragraph. Negative points for misleading headline!

Second, the plant will power its own electric generators with biofuel produced in the plant. Clearly, burning the fuel will generate CO2.

Third, they will use heat generated by the co-generation plant located 200 yards away. Without the presence of this co-gen plant, they would have to use more energy in the production process. This is an innovative approach since it captures an existing energy loss system. I give them positive points for this innovation and capturing efficiencies. Perhaps this capture of energy that would normally be just wasted and yields the greatest benefit to the plant and environment.

Fourth, energy must be expended getting their feedstock to the facility. I wonder if that counts in the near net-zero CO2 emissions effort.

I would like to see the "CO2 balance" for this process before passing judgment. I regard this "zero net CO2" claim with provisional skepticism, but am intrigued by the concept of a viable renewable energy source mixed with capturing waste heat from an existing source.

Go for it GSPI! Don't let my provisional skepticism hold you back.

Unclear on the Concept

The Big Green Bus occupants seem a little unclear on the concept of "carbon neutral":
"The biggest advantage is something called carbon neutrality," Rubens said. "It is releasing carbon dioxide but not anything additional to what's in the atmosphere."
While they are certainly promoting more wise use of reasources and renewable energy, the trip is not carbon neutral - that is unless they are buying offsets like Big Al.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Warn About Global Warming - Drive an SUV

H/T Instapundit

At a Town Hall meeting, Barak Obama warns about the link between global warming and gas guzzling, SUV's:
"It would save more energy, do more for the environment and create better world security than all the drilling we could do in Alaska."
After saying the above, he then drives home in a GMC Envoy. I wonder if he is carbon neutral?

A Carbon-Neutral Editorial - Los Angeles Times

A Carbon-Neutral Editorial - Los Angeles Times
It's a nice idea, as far as it goes — a little consciousness-raising can be a good thing, and it certainly doesn't hurt to get more windmills spinning on the grid. But as some environmentalists have noted, this kind of do-gooder consumerism doesn't necessarily achieve an overall net reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (which is, after all, the ultimate goal).

That will take regulatory oversight and global coordination. Not to mention a dose of real sacrifice from all of us — including those of us who live in 15,000-square-foot estates in Beverly Hills and travel in private jets.
I'm not so keen on the "regulatory oversight and global coordination". "A dose of real sacrifice" is right on target. Especially those that ride in Lear Jets and take limos.

Money & Happiness

This is a great article on the "keeping up with the Joneses" syndrome that seems to inflict damage to relationships, families and, most critically, dreams. Laura Rowley puts it like this:

To overcome money envy, we need to figure out our purpose, identify what we love and value most, and make our money obey our values by setting specific financial goals. Because if we achieve the things we value most, we'll be less riveted by what the neighbors are doing.

This isn't a one-time exercise, but a lifelong struggle. The Joneses, the media, and American culture will forever seduce us to betray what is genuinely meaningful for what is comfortable, beautiful, and enviable.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Global Warming Goes Biblical

'Biblical disasters' predicted as a result of Global Warming. Don't tell Evangelical Christians. They might take GW as a sign of the apocalypse.

Defamation as Tactic

Something I see more and more of: Defamation as Tactic.

This is not good for the science of global warming and only serves to polarize the issue as right/left instead of the discovery of truth.

Dissent is Patriotic

A rare dissent on Global Warming.

Global warming "implicated"

Does this take a Grand Jury indictment?

Global Warming Public Service Announcements

At least these ads are not over the top and alarmist. I like them.

Slash Into Cash

Is this one "BB" in the effort to reduce fossil fuel usage? Who knows. It looks cool anyway.

Do You Want a Car Like This?

Check out this car's crash worthiness

Not sure I am ready for that car.

Al Gore in the Conservative Crosshairs

The left fires back at Peter Schweitzer's article in the USA Today.
As with most right wing smear efforts, the article entirely misses the point. Al Gore is championing action against global warming, not recycling, not sustainable mining, and not the green character of the democratic party. What he is doing is advocating explicit action to curb and control carbon emissions, and he is living his life 100% consistently with this aim by going carbon neutral.

My objection to Al Gore is this: he claims carbon neutrality, but the whole process is one of excess carbon emissions and then washing away that sin via check book. Massive amounts of CO2 is still be emitted by the Lear jet and the SUV caravan taken wherever he goes. Writing a check to NativeEnergy does not cancel those Al Gore lifestyle choices.

The whole claim of carbon neutrality is some sort of "smoke and mirrors" attempt to claim Moral Authority without making the personal sacrifice to lead by example. Grist did a take down and body slam on the subject. A Gandhi-like persona requires a Gandhi-like sacrifice. Otherwise, expect the pedestal to be knocked from beneath your feet.

Latest Meaningless Oil Price Information

I am going to start a regular feature here tracking all the latest "news" and "explanation" regarding the price of oil and plot it on the chart. Here is today's "explanation":
Oil prices fell as much as $1.75 a barrel Monday as a cease-fire began in Lebanon and investors responded to news that BP expects to maintain half of its production at a large oil field in Alaska despite a pipeline leak.
Click on image for a clearer picture.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

C-SPAN: The Future of Entitlement Spending

H/T Polipundit

broadcasts the American Risk and Insurance Association's annual meeting. The forum has several speakers talking about the future of Social Security and Medicare spending. Each American should understand this critical issue and this forum serves as a good primer.

Bonner Cohen on Global Warming

H/T PoliPundit

C-SPAN hosts Bonner Cohen who is the author of The Green Wave: Environmentalism & Its Consequences.
If you cannot find the program, keep paging back in time. It aired 8/9/2006.

It is worth the 25 minutes to listen regardless of which side you consider yourself.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Bill McKibben: No Hope for Mankind

Bill McKibben basically writes that there is little hope for mankind to survive Global Warming:
In January, a trinity of announcements sealed the mood. First, British scientist James Lovelock, who invented the instrument that allowed us to detect our eroding ozone layer, published an essay predicting that we'd already added too much CO2 to the atmosphere and that runaway global warming was inevitable. He predicted that billions will die this century. A few days later came a less dramatic but equally alarming announcement. The steady and long-serving NASA climatologist James Hansen defied federal attempts to gag him and told reporters that new calculations about, among other things, the instability of Greenland's ice shelf showed "we can't let it go on another ten years like this." If we did? Over time, the buildup of CO2 emissions would "imply changes that constitute practically a different planet." Less than ten years to reverse course. Not our kids' lifetimes, or our grandkids'. Ours.
What would it take to save the planet?
All that would help—but not enough to meet Hansen's ten-year prognostication, not enough to reduce worldwide carbon emissions by the 70 percent required to stabilize the climate at its current degree of disruption.
That will be an entirely different culture than the one we have now. Can we do it?
It has to be about a new kind of culture, not a new kind of filter; it has to pay as much attention to preachers and sociologists as it does to scientists; it has to care as much about the carrot in the farmers market as it does about the caribou on the Arctic tundra. That's what the printouts on atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide tell us, and it's a message echoed by the researchers studying happiness and satisfaction. We don't need a slightly rejiggered version of the world we now inhabit; we need to start working on changes on the scale of the problems we face.

Fear of what will happen unless we shift, desire for what might happen if we do—together they're creating new openings for a more thorough shake-up than any American thinker since Thoreau has envisioned. But ten years is not a lot of time; we'd best get started.

Big Moon

I was noticing on my nighly dog walks how big the moon appeared this week when it was rising. It was not this big, but it was awesome. I guess I am one of those people that enjoy the rising moon rather than the rising sun.

Lawn Safety Tips

Each weekend, I observe my neighbors working on their yards with a variety of safety practices, some better than others. As such, I have compiled a list of summer safety tips:
1) Be aware of recommend personal protective equipment (PPE) for the job you are about to perform. For mowing the lawn, I recommend long pants, safety shoes, gloves, safety glasses and ear protection. There are countless injuries each year due to flying objects or running over feet with the lawn mower that could be minimized with proper PPE.

2) Be aware of four mental states that can lead to injury: rushing, fatigue, frustration and complacency. Any combination of these states can create four unsafe conditions: mind not on task, eyes not on task, being in the line of fire, or balance/traction/grip.

For example, suppose you are rushing to mow the lawn before the big game starts. That could lead to not putting on safety shoes and then running over your toe while moving very quickly to mow around a tree. (rushing, mind not on task and toe being in the line of fire).

3) Be very careful when allowing teens or children operate machinery. 800 children are run over by riding lawn mowers each year. Source

4) Be extremely careful with ladders as falls are the largest cause of accidental injuries treated in emergency rooms. Falls are the 2nd leading cause of unintentional deaths behind auto accidents. Source

So, be careful out there!

Ethical and Non-Ethical Prescriptives

DT Strain Philosophy Blog: Prescriptive Songs

My friend Daniel Strain is a very philosophical fellow. He has a lot of great things to say about morals, ethics and religion. He posted this post with these definitions:
(1) Ethical Prescriptives: These are instructions on how a child should behave, and are of an ethical nature. They deal with matters of morality, virtue, ethics, honor, integrity, kindness, and so on.

(2) Non-Ethical Prescriptives: These are instructions on how the child should act, behave, or carry out life, but they are not ethical. This means they may simply be meant as good advice, or strategic manners of living.

(3) Hopes for good fortune: These are simply lines which express hopes for good fortune for the child, usually in the form of access to opportunity, health, good relationships, or material wellbeing.
My comment is this: I am wondering if the ethical and non-ethical prescriptives are essentially overlaps of the same concept. Acting ethically and morally lead to a more effective life in all phases. The opposite is also demostratively true. In fact, I submit that it is life effectiveness which is the standard by which ethics is measured. In this sense, ethics really are natural laws that must be followed to lead an effective life. The extent to which you are aligned with natural, ethical laws is the extent to which you are strategically effective in life.

For example, if telling the truth is an ethical prescriptive, then I would argue that the reason you want to be truthful is to be worthy of trust and be more effective with people. So it is both an ethical prescriptive and an effectiveness strategy.

This is the crux of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It is a moral framework and a effectiveness framework. To me, both are inseparable.

Trade Platform

One of my favorite economics blogs had this to say about trade:
I steadfastly and unconditionally oppose any efforts to treat commerce transacted across political boundaries as different from commerce transacted within political boundaries.
Read Cafe Hayek every day, for it is good.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Bacteria or Acidity?

This morning on my way to work, I was listening to my favorite local Business Radio station, AM1320. There was an oil industry analyst on the program. I believe he was Sean Brodrich who is the editor of Red-Hot Canadian Small-Caps. At one point in the program, the topic turned to the BP pipeline corrosion and there was a reference to bacteria eating through the pipeline. At that point, I was just flabbergasted if the host, Brent Clanton and the analyst were serious. It is obvious that the BP pipeline corrosion is caused by the acidic nature of C02 and other sulfur compounds found in crude oil. In fact, Clanton had the Business Radio oil analyst Richard Riley on the previous day to explain it to the audience. Here is the mp3.

Hopefully, they were kidding about bacteria being the cause of the corrosion. If not, then shame on him.

Once the show is posted, I will listen again to make sure I heard it right. Stay tuned as they say.

Updated and Bumped.

Here is a link to the show. About 3:55 through the segment is the comment about bacteria and corrosion. I hope they are kidding.

Update Number 2. It looks like I was wrong. There is a biological component to the corrosion:
Microbiological corrosion

All indications are that the corrosion that caused the hole in the transit line was biological in origin, caused by sulfate reducing bacteria inside the pipeline, Johnson said.

"The evidence has mounted that that is true,” she said.“We’ve scanned what the (corrosion) pits look like in the bottom of the pipe.”

Also the way in which the corrosion in the pipeline accelerated over time is characteristic of the way in which microbiological corrosion develops, as the bacteria grow and multiply.

The bacteria form in water, so that problems associated with microbiological corrosion tend to be associated with water carrying pipelines, such as the lines that are used for waterflood operations.

In fact, BP treats its water injection lines at Prudhoe Bay with anticorrosion chemicals and runs maintenance pigs down the lines at frequencies ranging from weekly to monthly (a maintenance pig is a device that passes through the inside of a pipeline, scraping and cleaning the inside walls of the pipeline). The company pigged its Prudhoe Bay pipelines more than 350 times in 2005, Johnson said.

Jim VAT's Pension is Gone

At work today, they announced that effective 31-Dec-06, the company pension plan would be discontinued. That is not a huge disaster as what I have at my current employer is a cash balance pension anyway. The pension will be replaced by increased contributions to the 401(k) both in matching and non-matching contributions. Since I have only been at my current employer five years and will be vested in October, this is really to my benefit.

The bigger change was to the retirement medical benefits. The new plan will cap the amount of medical premium paid by the company if you retire after 31-Dec-06 and decrease the post-retirement life insurance from 1X last salary to a lump sum of $25,000.

There are other changes, but none affect me due to my age. The people who are 45 to 55 are the ones that are getting screwed. The cap on the medical insurance premium payment is more telling than the changes to the cash balance pension change to a 401(k) contribution. Really, what the company has done is capped their exposure to rising medical costs. When they switched to cash benefit pensions in 1997, they capped their exposure to people living longer. All of these changes also eliminate their exposure to inflation-adjusted amounts.

All in all, I am not surprised. Either companies go to this sort of retirement plan or they go bankrupt like the airlines do. It really is that simple. At my age, I still have time to save and invest my way to retirement. This way, all the money will be under my control and under my name locked away from bankruptcy exposure.

Sign of the times. I say: watch out for yourself. No company is going to take care of you. The government, Social Security and Medicare certainly will not. You have been warned!

Carnival of Carbon (Neutrality) 11-Aug-06

Here is this week's round-up of what I thought was interesting this week:

Carbon Neutral and I didn't Know It
I've been hearing about carbon neutrality for a while, but haven't paid much attention to it, usually because I heard it mentioned in conjunction with Al Gore, who, frankly, could get me to look for a new favorite cigar just by endorsing my present favorite. (Wish I was getting paid by the comma!) Intellectual honesty eventually prompted me to look it up, and it turns out I've been working toward carbon neutrality for years, especially if motive isn't considered.
Confused about Global Warming's effect on the world? These two stories won't help:

Greenland Ice Cap is Melting
According to a new study by a US-based research group team led by Chinese scientist Chen Jianli, Greenland is currently losing 240 cubic kilometers of ice each year since 2004, and the rate of melt is accelerating. The researchers estimated the loss after assessing ice mass changes over Greenland between 2002 and 2005. The study is published in the current issue of the journal Science.
But, "Doubt Cast"
Recent predictions have contained a hopeful note: increased snowfall over the heart of Antarctica in coming decades -- an odd but expected consequence of the warming atmosphere there -- should partially offset the alarmingly fast melting under way at the ice sheet's edges.
Me, I will stick with the journal Science over The Plain Dealer.

In the "declining moral authority department":
[I]f Al Gore is the world's role model for ecology, the planet is doomed.

For someone who says the sky is falling, he does very little. He says he recycles and drives a hybrid. And he claims he uses renewable energy credits to offset the pollution he produces when using a private jet to promote his film. (In reality, Paramount Classics, the film's distributor, pays this.)

Public records reveal that as Gore lectures Americans on excessive consumption, he and his wife Tipper live in two properties: a 10,000-square-foot, 20-room, eight-bathroom home in Nashville, and a 4,000-square-foot home in Arlington, Va. (He also has a third home in Carthage, Tenn.) For someone rallying the planet to pursue a path of extreme personal sacrifice, Gore requires little from himself.

As I have told friends of mine, if you are going to make Global Warming a moral issue, you better have your own house in order. In my view, Gore could use a little lifestyle reduction therapy as well as riding coach from time to time.

And I found two pieces of Global Warming, Carbon Neutral satire, something I am clearly unable to write myself. First, Animals as Carbon Neutral alternative:
A technological breakthrough developed by the Wenatchee, Washington-based startup group Cownetics United Development, Inc. (Nasdaq: CUD) promises to significantly ameliorate the nation's ongoing energy crisis with virtually no negative environmental consequences. The patent-pending Cownetic Turbine converts kinetic energy generated through the natural movements of large animals such as cows, steers and dogs into copious quantities of "totally green" electrical current, potentially serving the power-generating needs of up to 60 million American households, according to a Cownetics spokesman.
Second, who said terrorists don't care about the environment?
Osama Bin Laden today announced that the loose international web of extremist Islamic terror groups had achieved its carbon reduction programme for 2006, an impressive five months ahead of schedule.

Using the grainy, hand-held and amateurish camera work that has become the hallmark of ITN, Mr bin Laden made the dramatic announcement from his top secret HQ at the bottom of the garden of number 5 Hollytree Avenue, High Wycombe.

"Friends, Muslims, and soon-to-be-punished infidels. Today I bring you a message of hope from the heart of the Islamic Revolutionary Potting Shed. In January a formal meeting of the international Extremist Islamic terror council, including representatives from al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and Jemaah Islamiah, promised to achieve carbon neutrality throughout our actions by the turn of the year. And despite protracted use of 'Allah's Fire' rockets in the South of Lebanon in recent weeks, today we have achieved that target."
That is it from this week's Carnival of Carbon Neutrality.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Terrorism Trumps Corrosion

In an email forum I participate in from time to time, a poster asserted the following late on Sunday night (8/6/06) in response to the BP pipeline story:
Y'all: if I understand this correctly, go fill up your gas tank right away -- your last
time under $ 3.00 / gallon? ever?
Of course, oil spiked up $2.27 on the news. Oil then declined $0.77 over the next two days.

Today, the Brits broke a terrorism ring.
LONDON - British police said Thursday they thwarted a terrorist plot, possibly just days away, to blow up U.S.-bound jetliners over the Atlantic and kill thousands. Chilling accounts leaked by investigators described a plan on the scale of Sept. 11 that would use liquid explosives concealed as everyday carry-on items and common electronic devices to bring down 10 planes in a nearly simultaneous strike.
This resulted in oil prices falling after the thwarted attacks
Crude oil prices fell more than $2 a barrel Thursday as thwarted airplane attacks led many carriers to cancel flights, which could mean dampened jet fuel demand and weaker consumer confidence.
So, a spike of $1.5 on the BP news is then trumped by a $2.28 dip as a result of thwarted terrorism.

Here is a chart.

And you know what it all means?

Absolutely nothing!!

All of this is just meaningless movements and the herd mentality that the media attempts to explain. Good news is bad news and bad news is good news. And the traders just laugh all the way to the bank. If you follow or believe the daily stories attempting to explain the daily movement of the market (any market), then you fall victim to the herd mentality. There is no easier way to become broke if you then trade based on fear or joviality.

That is my market rant for the day.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Silver "BB" Approach to Energy Independence

What a great way to put the fight for energy independence. Read it all here:
I recently received the following email: "I find it distressing and bothersome to see how often people assume that we need to find a single silver bullet for our looming oil and/or natural gas challenges, as opposed to relying on a collection of smaller solutions--what I've been calling the "silver BB's" approach…. I'm convinced that we do indeed face a set of harrowing challenges on the energy and environmental fronts, and that they will require all the ingenuity, flexibility, and collective effort (from public policy to large commercial companies to the emergent properties of mainstream consumers embracing conservation) we can muster."” I agree.

Favorite U2 Song

U2 is one of my favorite bands of all time. I have really grown to love their music and range of topics. I may not want their politics to speak for me and would rather they just shut up and sing, but, man, can they write and play.

U2 has so many great songs it is really hard for me to pick just one. I must say that Sunday Bloody Sunday is probably my favorite. Not only that, the version played on the DVD Go Home is the best one of the four different versions I have. That night, they were playing in front of the home crowd and seemed to be particularly incensed on the issue of the on-going "troubles" in Ireland.

Depending upon my mood, either Kite or Walk On are my next favorite songs, followed by Running to Stand Still. It is ironic that neither Kite nor Walk On stuck my fancy until I bought Go Home and then really listened to the lyrics. Of course, Go Home was recorded soon after Bono's father died so Kite was dedicated to him.

After the live DVD's, my favorite U2 album is All That You Can't Leave Behind. There are so many top shelf songs on that album it is the one CD I would take with me to that desert island.

The only CD I hate is Zooropa, mainly because of the title song. There are some good songs like Stay (Faraway, So Close) and The First Time, but the rest just suck. OK, Numb does not suck, but it is not that good either. Zooropa is just a bad episode in U2's history. It is all thumbs up except that venture down a dead end street.

I hope U2 continues to turn out great stuff for many years to come.

Windows "Genuine Advantage"

I run both a Mac and a Windows machine at home. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. One thing about Windows is their incessant need to make sure you have a licensed copy. They even go so far as to ask you to install software so the con monitor the license status of your copy of XP. I live the language:
"The Windows Genuine Advantage Notification tool notifies you if your copy of Windows in not genuine." Yeah right! If the copy is not legal (and mine came with the laptop), I am sure the machine would cease functioning after installing this intrusive software. How bogus and transparent can a company be? Do they think we are stupid? Perhaps we are for continuing to buy their products.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Drive a Sports Car without Guilt!

This is just another in a long line of guilt-free ways to do what you want and just write an indulgence check. Sorry to be down on such methods, but it makes no sense to me to pursue a wasteful past-time and then attempt to wash away the guilt using "carbon neutrality" as the soap.
With locations in California and Germany, Club Sportiva's carbon-neutral fleet includes classic and hard-to-find Ferrari, Corvette, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Bentley, Lotus, Morgan, BMW, Alfa Romeo and Jaguar automobiles.

Stay out of the Gas Trap

H/T Left Behinds

Team Looks at Seafloor as Gas Trap

But what can you do with what will amount to tens of billions of tons of the gas [generated by burning coal]?

Pumping carbon dioxide into the earth or deep into the sea have been suggested. But some escape is possible in both cases.

Now a team of researchers propose what they say is a limitless, low-risk repository for carbon dioxide: seafloor sediments at depths and temperatures that would guarantee it would stay denser than the water above, and thus be permanently locked away.

I would suggest as LeftBehinds does that such a scheme would destroy all the economics of burning fossil fuels.

Then LeftBehinds goes on to support a revenue neutral carbon tax that I opposed (and continue to oppose) here.

Fed Takes Pause; Leaves Rate Unchanged

Despite my prediction, the Fed decided to take a break.
With the economy losing momentum, the Federal Reserve halted the longest unbroken stretch of interest rate increases in recent history Tuesday -- a reprieve for millions of borrowers after more than two years of rate pain.
This non-move was trumpeted all week long especially yesterday and today. This leads me to believe the Fed was floating trial balloons to business writers and economists to keep the market stable. Further in the Yahoo article is something I disagree with:
On Wall Street, stocks dropped on worries that the Fed was just taking a temporary break and that more rate increases might be in store.
I say, "no way". The stock market is dropping because the economy is slowing. Had the Fed continued to raise rates, some believe (and I could be persuaded) that the stock market would have dropped even more as the specter of inflation and a slowing economy would be indicated by this move.

My take on all this is we are in a secular bull market that will get progressively more apparent. That is what I think, but what do I know?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Exporting Carbon

EconLog: Energy and Environmental Cost-Shifting, Arnold Kling

Dan Lewis writes
Even if we [in Europe] succeed in making big cuts in carbon emissions, these would not include the pollution created by imports. This is the accounting flaw at the heart of the Kyoto treaty. Globalization means energy-intensive manufacturing is moving out of Europe and into China. An imported MP3 player almost certainly requires more CO2 emissions for its Asian production run than it would have in Europe. Yet Europeans will be able to make the phony claim that they reduced emissions, when all they have done is export -- and increase -- them.
This is a very good point. The same thing is done in the US with power plants just over the Mexican border and the importation of gasoline from foreign refineries. The government has made building economical power plants and refineries so difficult so we export the environmental issues to foreign lands.

To use an analogy, it is kind of like the off the balance sheet special purpose entities created by Enron to hide bad debt. As long as the carbon is off the balance sheet, don't worry about it!

Global Warming: Fish Kill and Food Supply

Scientists are studying a west coast fish kill and guess the effect on the food supply.

Scientists studying the 70-mile-long zone of oxygen-depleted water, along the Continental Shelf between Florence and Lincoln City, conclude that it is being caused by explosive blooms of tiny plants known as phytoplankton, which die and sink to the bottom, then are eaten by bacteria which use up the oxygen in the water.

The recurring phytoplankton blooms are triggered by northerly wind, which generates a process known as upwelling in which nutrient-rich water is brought to the surface from lower depths.

As to the food supply, I don't necessarily agree with the projections. There will be adjustments as to where food can be grown should the climate change. Just because the location changes does not mean it will be more expensive. The lesson of the 20th century is the exact opposite.
Suppose the dinner on your table last night had cost 20 times what it did? Or 50 times as much?

Scientists say global warming very likely has something like that in store in the coming decades.

The agricultural abundance Americans have long taken for granted and the low food prices that go with it, they say, now face a withering enemy — and the recent blows to California agriculture are a taste of things to come.

BP Pipeline Closure

Early this morning (7-Aug-2006) I heard the BP pipeline closure story. I am not sure the effect of the supply disruption on the over supply/demand balance.
BP said Monday it discovered corrosion so severe that it will have to replace 16 miles of pipeline at the huge Prudhoe Bay oil field -- work that could shut down the nation's single biggest source of domestic crude for months and drive gasoline prices even higher.
Oil prices went up $2 a barrel on the news. Not a big surprise here as oil traders are sophisticated to figure out the shift in price point. After the busy hurricane season of 2005 when a lot of the Gulf petroleum and gas was knocked out (and is still not back in operation), I fully expected a much higher increase in prices. However, that did not happen. I will be very interested to see what the mix of a slowing economy with a supply disruption.

What was amazing to me is this passage in the story:
The oil company said it was surprised to find such severe corrosion, and had gone 14 years without using a device called a "pig" to clean out its lines because it did not believe it was necessary.
I am gonna have to call "bullshit" on that assertion. No responsible pipeline operator goes 14 years without corrosion testing their pipelines. In fact, unless they can prove a good track record of non-corrosion, I would say they were fooling themselves or were downright neglectful of the pipeline. When I say "neglectful", I mean "cheap and irresponsible". I am sure someone in the pipeline industry will contradict me and say 14 years is not too long. At the same time, news stories have been circulating with patches and clamps on the condemned portion of the pipeline. Those just don't happen by themselves. The problem was systemic.

For people that know me, I have been very harsh on chemical and petroleum companies who do not act responsibly with their assets and in their community. After the Texas City BP Refinery blast, I hammered BP for not taking care of the flawed design before it became a disaster that killed 15 people.

The choice in the US chemical industry is this: either be proactive and fix problems before they get out of control or face condemnation when something big does happen.

Have a Drink on Global Warming

First beer and now wine
Global warming may threaten the world with environmental disaster, but it could be a boon for German wine-makers, claim economists at Princeton University in the US.
Who knew that Global Warming would be good for alcoholics?

Scientists: Mountains Growing Because of Global Warming

I guess anything is possible.
Scientists say global warming is actually making the world's mountains taller. Glaciers are causing the Earth's crust to flex inward and when the glaciers disappear, the crust springs back out and the mountains are pushed further skyward.
It has never been more in vogue to blame global warming for just about anything.

Sins of emission

More that just I view carbon offsets as some sort of forgiveness via checkbook:

Carbon offsets | Sins of emission |

THE sale of indulgences by the Catholic church in the early 16th century, whereby people could, in effect, purchase forgiveness of past sins by handing over enough money, was condemned by Martin Luther and other reformers. Today, some environmentalists are denouncing the “offsetting” of carbon emissions in similar terms.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

This Year's Dumbest Political Idea....

H/T Digital Crusader

TCS Daily - This Year's Dumbest Political Idea....

It seems like establishing a system of carbon credits and the necessary trading scheme appears to be popping up more and more. Glassman and TCS takes the idea apart:
We're only halfway through 2006, but the winner of this year's prize for the dumbest political idea can already be announced. Its originator is the British environment minister, David Miliband, who in a recent speech to the British Audit Commission suggested introducing state-enforced limits on individual carbon emission. "Imagine a country," he said, "where carbon becomes a new currency. We carry bank cards that store both pounds and carbon points. When we buy electricity, gas and fuel, we use our carbon points, as well as pounds. To help reduce carbon emissions, the government would set limits on the amount of carbon that could be used."

There's only one problem with this idea: it wouldn't work. Worse than that, it would result in an administrative disaster the likes of which we haven't seen since the catastrophic experiments with wage and price controls in the early 1970s.

Like the old price control policies, Miliband's carbon emission idea is based on two important fallacies. The first is the idea that government is somehow best placed to determine the required individual carbon emission levels.

The second fallacy is the idea that government would be able to enforce the scheme. People will look for ways around the scheme, and the experience from the 1970s suggests that they will find them.
Glassman points out difficulties with such schemes that I have previously recognized: government determination of the correct emission levels and the nightmare to enforce them. Of course the carbon credit traders and the big government proponents like such programs. They increase government's power and the traders get their commissions.

Synthetic testosterone found in Landis

It was synthetic testosterone says an official. I suppose that pretty much seals the fate of Landis.
Floyd Landis' doping samples contained synthetic testosterone, indicating the Tour de France champion's elevated levels were not produced naturally, the head of France's anti-doping commission said Saturday.

A report this week in the New York Times cited an unidentified source from the UCI as saying an analysis of Landis' first sample by carbon isotope ratio testing had detected synthetic testosterone, which indicated it had been ingested.
Sorry Landis. I'll have to take back my "hero" label and give you a big fat ZERO. I would rather have you finish out of the top 20 than win by cheating. That is not the way Americans do things.

Landis Wins, but Cheated

Updated and Bumped Up.

Sorry Landis, overcoming a boink in Stage 16 by taking artificial enhancements just does not cut it. Loser.

Floyd Landis wins Tour de France:

Congratulations to Floyd Landis for overcoming a boink on Stage 16 to come back and win the most grueling sporting event known to man. After Lance Armstrong retired, I thought it would be along time before seeing another American on the podium, but Landis came through like a true champion.

h/t Little Green Footballs

The Expert Mind

H/T Instapundit

This long article from Scientific America discusses experts and how they think and classify information in their minds so that they can become highly proficient. Much of the article uses chess players as an example, but the general theme can apply to any field of endeavor.
...a century of psychological research has ... established: much of the chess master's advantage over the novice derives from the first few seconds of thought. This rapid, knowledge-guided perception, sometimes called apperception, can be seen in experts in other fields as well.
Ah hell. The article just does not make sense without reading it all. Take the time, it is worth it.

Tax Carbon, Not Income?

I have recently stumbled across a blog that shows Paul Romer as one of the contributors. Paul Romer is a very prominent economist with a significant contribution to the New Growth Theory of economics. Of course, he is the primary founder of the economics education company Alpia. He is also the son of former Colorado governor Roy Romer.

Romer did not write the article below.

Aplia Econ Blog: News for Economics Students: Tax Carbon, Not Income
The Naked Economist has a modest policy proposal for Presidential hopefuls, Democrat or Republican: Tax carbon, not income. Wheelan proposes a revenue neutral tax policy: Increase taxes on carbon-based energy, like gas and coal, reduce income and payroll taxes, and engineer the changes in such a way that government tax revenues remain the same. Americans might balk at paying even higher prices at the pump, but under Wheelan's proposal they'd write smaller checks to the IRS.
Wheeland wrote the following article on Yahoo Finance:
So here's the idea: Create a carbon tax -- basically a tax on energy calculated based on its carbon content -- and use the new revenue to provide offsetting cuts in the income tax, the payroll tax (the tax on wages used to fund Social Security), or both.

The whole package should be revenue neutral, meaning that it will not increase or decrease the total amount of revenue the government collects. The money will simply come from different sources.

Of course, this is a side issue, but with any new tax, they are never revenue neutral. Once the government gets a new source of income, they never stop taxed the current sources. Regardless, Wheeland continues:
Yes, I'm arguing that we should increase your taxes and cut your taxes at the same time. To understand why that makes sense, you must appreciate an often-overlooked feature of taxation: Taxing something does not merely raise revenue; it also changes behavior.

A carbon tax raises the price of using carbon-based energy, everything from coal to gasoline. As a society, we're better off if we curtail our use of fossil fuels. We can start to make progress on global warming; we will improve air quality; we will be less dependent on places like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela; and we could even improve traffic congestion, the bane of just about every metropolitan area in the U.S., by making it more expensive to commute long distances alone by car.

Obviously, gas prices are already painfully high and nobody wants to pay more. But before you hit "Send" on a vitriolic email response to this column, remember that you're also getting the tax cut on the income side. On average, one cancels out the other.

Will that be true for everyone? No, but that's the point. The tax burden will go up for those who use more than the average amount of carbon-based energy and down for those who use less.

In the grand scheme of global injustice (e.g., being born in a malarial village in rural Africa), that just does not strike me as terribly unfair. If you contribute more than your fair share to global warming, traffic congestion, air pollution, and propping up a repressive regime in Saudi Arabia, then you should pay more.
This is all well and good. It will come down to two things:
1) I submit that our economy is based on energy use. By taxing energy, you place a tax on every economic activity and therefore the economy as a whole. The downside to this tax is you would decrease economic activity at the same time as decreasing fossil fuel use.
2) Once again, the rich would be able to pollute because they are rich and the poor would be punished.

How long would it be that foreign nations would want a claim on this carbon tax? We would then be back to carbon trading schemes that make governments and traders wealthy, not actually decrease CO2 emissions.

I guess I remain skeptical as to the effect of a carbon tax or the implementation of carbon trading. We will see how it turns out in Europe.

Landis 2nd tests positive

Yahoo! News

As expected, Landis' 2nd test came back positive for steroid use. It is predicted he will be the first Tour winner to be stripped of his title for banned substance use.

Too bad.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Landis awaits backup sample result

Landis awaits backup sample result

As they say, "Judgment Day" for Landis. I am betting the backup sample tests positive and he goes down. I read a news story somewhere that they suspected the testosterone was synthetic which, if proven correct, will put the final nail in his coffin.

It is a shame really. He did his best but cracked in stage 16. Had he not had the victory in stage 17, I still would have cheered his top 10 finish. And yet, this scandal turns him from famous to infamous, even if he is proven innocent. There will always be questions about his performance and the role any drugs may have played.

Too bad. The comeback in State 17 was the stuff of legends. It will still be a legend, but for the wrong reasons.

Going to the Dogs

OK. Time to boost the blog hits with dog pictures. This is Jake, the best dog in the whole world.

Jake loves the water.

After fetching for hours, he is tired dogger dogger.

This is Jake's best friend Brody. Brody is my foster dog who is waiting to be adopted. More information on adopting Brody can be found here.

Toyota and GM

Today, Toyota announced:
a 39 percent jump in profit in its fiscal first quarter, with strong vehicle sales around the world keeping the company on a pace to possibly overtake General Motors as the world's No. 1 automaker in coming years.
Contrast that with the world's number one auto maker:
General Motors Corp., the world's largest automaker, reported a second-quarter loss because of a $3.7 billion charge to eliminate 34,400 jobs. GM's profit from operations exceeded analysts' estimates, sending shares to a 10- month high.
To me, it is only a matter of time before GM is bankrupt and Toyota becomes number one. In my view, Toyota is the number one manufacturer in the world, bar none. They are the best-run production company in the world. And here is why:
While no one questions whether or not Toyota Motor Company will have any problem achieving the second, the automaker is already a tightly run ship. Nevertheless, about 300 of its most creative engineers have figured out how to cut build costs of its popular 3.5-liter engine, by a significant margin.

...small increments of efficiency gains wouldn't be good enough for Toyotas Executive Vice President Kosuke Shiramizu, mind you, who announced a new goal of reducing production costs by 50 percent to foundry workers at the Bodine Aluminum Troy, Missouri engine facility back in 2003.

A new technology was being developed for pouring molten aluminum into molds for engine components, resulting in new equipment that made up Toyotas new cost-cutting program dubbed Simple Slim. Basically, Simple Slim lets Toyota use smaller, cheaper molds to produce engine parts, and the system was easily implemented into its U.S. foundries as well as those in Japan and China. Another reason the new engine is cheaper to produce is that it uses less aluminum, an expensive metal, than the current version. The new aluminum block weighs 55 pounds less than the 3.3-liter engine, a 27 percent reduction in overall mass. Another improvement to the new 3.5 includes a redesigned cylinder head that needs fewer honeycomb-like fuel and air passageways.
Toyota cut the manufacturing cost of the Camry engine in HALF. That is 50% folks. GM and Ford can only dream of a 5% decrease. They don't even fantasize about a 50% decrease and yet Toyota did it. This is why GM and Ford do not stand a chance. Toyota knows it, but GM and Ford don't. Toyota pretty much told Honda and the other Japanese car manufacturers, "don't lower your prices and destroy GM."
Japan's car makers should consider giving their US rivals a breathing space to avoid the risk of a political backlash, the boss of Toyota has said.

Japanese car makers have taken nearly one third of the US market. Last week, General Motors posted a quarterly loss of $1.1bn, and Ford's profits fell.

By contrast, Nissan had record profits, and Honda's net profit rose 27%.

"We need to give time for some American companies to take a breath," said Toyota Motor chairman Hiroshi Okuda.

When your competitor says this, you are done. It is over. In Lance Armstrong talk, you have cracked and he is going to kick your butt up and down the mountain. They only reason Toyota does not crush GM is the specter of protectionist tactics by the US government. That is why there is talk of an alliance. Toyota does not needed it except to avoid protectionism. That is the only reason to pursue such a strategy.

Don't get me wrong, I am not picking on GM and Ford. Both of those companies made their choices to adopt management practices that basically destroyed their companies. Instead of choosing empowering their employees and implementing Total Quality Manufacturing techniques, they chose to embrace big, top down, totalitarian management. GM had a chance in 1984 to learn from Toyota when they joint ventured in California.
Ironically, Toyota got its first foothold in the US through a joint venture known as "NUMMI" with GM to build Toyota products in California. The joint venture began in 1984 when the US created an import tariff on foreign pickup trucks. The joint venture with GM allowed Toyota to avoid the tariff and build up a base in the U.S. NUMMI is still an active venture that currently produces the Toyota Tacoma, Toyota Corolla and the Pontiac Vibe lines of vehicles.
The PBS does not even tell a fraction of the NUMMI story. GM's California plant was the worst of any GM plant in the world. They had the highest costs, most defects and most labor strife. Toyota took over the plant and implemented the "Toyota Way". This totally turned around the plant and made it into the most efficient of all GM plants. In fact, it is still in operation today. GM never learned the lessons of NUMMI nor used any of the techniques at all their other plants. And for that, they doomed GM to mediocrity at best and bankruptcy eventually.

And the shame of it all is that in the post-WWII time period, it was people like Dr. Deming who introduced Total Quality Manufacturing techniques to the Japanese. In the US, it was Bill Creech who was the TQM pioneer. Alas, most of the US manufacturing industry ignored Deming and Creech which cast the mold for the Japanese takeover of cars, electronics and computer manufacturing.

It really is a shame, because the American worker has shown that they can compete with the Japanese. When Toyota and Honda open plants in the US with Americans, they can get within a few percentage points of their Japanese counterparts in all critical manufacturing categories. In fact, whereverer in the world Toyota operates, they can train the local populations to be within four or five percent of the Japanese plants. Therefore, I conclude that the decline of US manufacturing is a result of management, not workers. Failure to fully adopt and embrace TQM in favor of top-down bureaucracies was the fatal flaw of American manufacturing.

We are seeing the fruits of those decisions. How much money did GM lose again? How many are they laying off? What a tragedy.

Update: ack! Of course it is Deming not Denning

African Chill

This is what passes for enlightened commentary against global warming. It snows in Johannesburg and someone takes that as evidence against global warming. The has the stupidity to write:
Well, the Newtonian law about conservation of energy says if everywhere else is getting warmer, someplace has to get colder. So Darth Rove’s Climate-Change Machine™ is soaking up all the cold on earth and dumping it in South Africa.

Makes perfect sense to me.
Sorry, dumbass, but Mayer and Joule worked on the 1st Law of Thermodynamics, not Newton. We won't even talk about the applicability of the 1st or 2nd Law of Thermodynamics for someone who does not even have the ability to use wikipedia.

Update: Apparently, the author of the above piece meant it as comedy. I withdraw my dumbass comment and say instead, wiseass. I guess I am the dumbass from time to time. On the flip side. Global warming is no laughing matter. We are talking about dead Polar Bears folks. Serious stuff.

Carnival of Carbon Neutrality

I only had one submission to the Carnival of Carbon Neutrality this week. At first, I was not even going to consider this entry, except I really want people to see what kind of discussions are going on out there in the blogosphere. This one is particularly representative of a certain mindset on Carbon Neutrality and Global Warming....

Jon Swift: Who's Afraid of Global Warming?
First of all, I must say that I don't believe global warming exists no matter how much evidence scientists come up with to support it. I think it's just a lot of fear-mongering from ice berg-hugging scientists who are trying to distract us from the War on Terror.
All the rest are ones I found and commented on:

Polar Bears Thank Pat Robertson

Robertson who as recently as 2005 called hurricanes God's wrath upon the wicked people now realizes global warming is likely caused by burning fossil fuels.
"We really need to address the burning of fossil fuels, "Robertson said on his "“700 Club"” broadcast. "“It is getting hotter, and the icecaps are melting and there is a buildup of carbon dioxide in the air."”
Next is come commentary on the culture of global warming and how the press handles the topic.

Global Warming: Don't Overdose the Public

I really don't have a problem with media outlets talking about global warming. What I don't like is excessive hype and exaggeration in attempts to push the issue. Present the facts, make your case and let us make up our own minds. Along the way, support solutions and suggestions that will truly make an impact.
Cool Global Warming gadgets:
One thing that concerns me from time-to-time is being in a situation where power is not available.
Green Architecture can Be Cool and Cool!
This is Global Warming, Carbon Neutral architecture that I can support!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Polar Bears Thank Pat Robertson

(Churchill, Manitoba) Today, Canadian polar bear spokesperson Whitey thanked evangelical Christian Pat Robertson for finally recognizing the effects of Global Warming. "The polar bear community welcomes Pat Robertson into the consensus of Christians that realize the effect humanity is having on the earth." Robertson who as recently as 2005 called hurricanes God's wrath upon the wicked people now realizes global warming is likely caused by burning fossil fuels.
"We really need to address the burning of fossil fuels, "Robertson said on his "“700 Club"” broadcast. "“It is getting hotter, and the icecaps are melting and there is a buildup of carbon dioxide in the air."”
After thanking Robertson for his support in reducing foreign energy dependence and pledging to live a carbon neutral lifestyle, Whitey unfortunately failed to realize his microphone was still live. Whitey was captured in a candid moment as saying "It is about time that dumb shit Robertson came in out of the sun and realize he and his followers are killing us polar bears." Asked for comment regarding that unscripted moment, Whitey said,"I stand by my comments. Pat Robertson is an idiot who finally used all his money generated from oil profits to buy himself a clue on Global Warming. We are dying up here while Robertson is spouting non-stop nonsense in an air-conditioned studio."

Global Warming: Don't Overdose the Public

H/T Radical Noesis

The BBC analyzes a report issued by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) that seems to indicate by continuing to pound on human-caused global warming, the public is being desensitizing. Further, the average person believes they can do nothing about the problem. It should not be a surprise that some media outlets are publicizing global warming to attract readers' eyeballs.

Into the "alarmist" camp the authors put articles published in newspapers such as the Independent, Financial Times and Sunday Times, as well as statements from environmental groups, academics including James Lovelock and Lord May, and some government programmes."It is appropriate to call [what some of these groups publish] 'climate porn', because on some level it is like a disaster movie," Mr Retallack told the BBC News website. "The public become disempowered because it's too big for them; and when it sounds like science fiction, there is an element of the unreal there."

Mr Retallack, however, believes some newspapers take an alarmist line on climate change through commercial motives rather than ideology.

"Every newspaper is a commercial organisation," he said, "and when you have a terrifying image on the front of the paper, you are likely to sell more copies than when you write about solutions."

I really don't have a problem with media outlets talking about global warming. What I don't like is excessive hype and exaggeration in attempts to push the issue. Present the facts, make your case and let us make up our own minds. Along the way, support solutions and suggestions that will truly make an impact.