Saturday, March 31, 2007

No Dog Park Today

Strong rain in Houston Texas today so no dog park. Look at the sad dogs. (One in the green collar is new foster dog TJ, blue collar is Jake). TJ is a smaller, younger version of Jake. He has almost the same colorings and body proportions it is spooky. Originally, the people at the shelter gave him the name Jake as well. Of course, I can't have two dogs with the same name so I renamed him TJ. I have renamed foster dogs before so it is not a problem.

As I write this, TJ is laying at my feet. Isn't that sweet!

Envy and Collectivism

This essay (keep scrolling down) argues that human envy is as the root of collectivism. Interesting position.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

San Francisco passes plastic-bag ban

In a not-so-surprising move, San Francisco bans plastic bags. I say not surprising for their shear ignorance. Perhaps, they will buy moron offsets at the same time.

Making Hydrogen from Magnesium and Water

H/T Instapundit:

There is an article on Ecotality about using elemental magnesium and water to make hydrogen.

This is technology right up my alley as someone who works in the chemical industry with magnesium. As the comment section states quite clearly, first you have to mine the magnesium, refine it and then reduce it back to elemental magnesium so it will react with water. All of those processes are extremely expensive. Plus, magnesium in this state is highly reactive, so much so that the transportation of magnesium is regulated has a hazardous material by the DOT (spontaneously combustible solid hazard class 4.2). Personally, I would not want a magnesium plus water reaction happening anywhere near me. You can tell me it is a controlled reaction, but you can forget about me every wanting to sit on top of vessel while that is happening.

Besides, who is going to be qualified to recharge the magnesium in the fuel cell? The transfer of highly reactive magnesium is a difficult operation. Who is going to take the magnesium oxide and dispose of it?

This idea is so profoundly unworkable, I won't even bother to look at the economics of turning magnesium and water into hydrogen.

Dog Heimlich

I am not sure I believe this story. Jumping on someones chest or back does not constitute a Heimlich Maneuver. Hell, I have a foster dog right now that would gladly jump on my back and then lick my face when I am down.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Cafe Hayek: Creating Value

As is normal, I came across this piece of wisdom at Cafe Hayek. It is 100% correct.

The only thing I would add that when you help people get what the want and need, then you can have almost any thing you want. In other words, the more value you create for others, the more rewards you can expect.

Those people that "get it" are those more likely to be rich. It really is that simple.


Instapundit always has his "in the mail" books. This one caught my eye - especially this line (sorry mom and dad).
Why should the under-35 crowd pay higher taxes to support the "Ungreatest Generation?" What have boomers done for anyone?

Is it true? Maybe a little harsh, but my grandparents were part of the Greatest Generation. My parents, not so much. Once again, sorry mom and dad.

Two More: Global Warming Causes Everything

H/T Tim Blair

To add to the list:
-Gender inequality and forced marriage

The Stern report full quote:
Gender inequalities will likely worsen with climate change. Workloads and responsibilities such as collecting water, fuel and food will grow and become more time consuming in light of greater resource scarcity. This will allow less time for education or participation in market-based work. A particular burden will be imposed on those households that are short of labour, further exacerbated if the men migrate in times of extreme stress leaving women vulnerable to impoverishment, forced marriage, labour exploitation and trafficking.112 Women are ‘over-represented’ in agriculture and the informal economy, sectors that will be hardest hit by climate change. This exposure is coupled with a low capacity to adapt given their unequal access to resources such as credit and transport. Women are also particularly vulnerable to the effects of natural disasters with women and children accounting for more than 75% of displaced persons following natural disasters.

"You will be held accountable"

I received a comment in response to a post I wrote about Lou Dobbs "American Idiot". Apparently another web site saw my post and decided to link to me here. I appreciate it. The full comment was:
"You are a paid for virtual neo-con plant. You will be held accountable"
I wonder what the commenter means by this. Who exactly is paying me? How much am I being paid? Is it cash or direct deposit? What is a virtually neo-con as opposed to a real neo-con? How can I be a "plant" if I am the only blogger here? Above all, I am wondering if I will be sued or have a Nuremburg trial in my future. Will my real identity be revealed to one and all? Will my employer find out I have a super-secret blog (so secret, only about 50 hits per week) and fire me? Or possibly, will the poster from Phoenix Arizona take matters in his own hands?

To this I give the "W" sign and say in my most whinny voice: WHATEVER. The bottom line is it appears that tolerance for dissenting views does not seem to be a characteristic of those that see things another way from this commenter. That appears to be the trend these days. And you know what? I just don't care. Furthermore, the more I receive feedback of this type, the more I am inspired to write. Keep it up Phoenix!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Scientist gives 1400 Interviews: "I've been muzzled"

The persecution complex that global warming scientist James Hansen has in incredible. He gives 1400 on the job interviews including one to 60 Minutes, and yet, he claims repression.
A NASA scientist who said the Bush administration muzzled him because of his belief in global warming yesterday acknowledged to Congress that he'd done more than 1,400 on-the-job interviews in recent years.
Citing what he called a "growth of political interference," Mr. Hansen said he was forced by NASA officials to deny an interview request from NPR because press officials believed the network to have a liberal bias.

But Mr. Issa noted that Mr. Hansen conducted 15 interviews in the month after accusing the Bush administration of censorship.
What is really amazing is the repression is really on the other side of the issue. Present an alternate point of view and watch what happens:
"I would get out of my sickbed to testify to Congress on global warming, if they were ready to deal responsibly with the matter," Hansen wrote. "But obviously they are still in denial, inviting contrarians to 'balance' the science of global warming."

Hansen apparently was objecting to the House panel's late addition of John Christy, a professor and director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. In his testimony yesterday, Christy told lawmakers that scientists "cannot reliably project the trajectory of the climate" for large regions of the United States.
So only Hansen's view is responsible and the responsible thing to do is muzzle the alternate viewpoint. Nice repression complex.

Monday, March 19, 2007

300 Movie Review

I rarely, if ever, go to movies in the theater. I usually cannot stand the rude crowd of talking people who don't know how to silence their cell phones. And yet, I made an exception for 300.

First of all, I thought 300 was a fantastic action and adventure movie. That it totally avoided fashionable political correctness and portray things as historically accurate (more or less), made it even better. Yes, it is politically incorrect that the Spartans discarded babies with visible deformities. Yes, it was politically incorrect that the Spartans brutally trained their boys to become warriors. Politically incorrect or not, it was mostly historically accurate.

I guess another politically incorrect characterization was the clear distinction between good and evil. In our life and times, it is rare to see the theme played out on the big screen. Usually, the good guys are portrayed as ambiguous figures and the "bad" guys has having a legitimate set of grievances. Not so with the 300; the Spartans were good, the Persian invaders bad. And perhaps that was equally historically accurate, yet rare position for a Hollywood film. Was it pro-war? Sure it was. It was also pro-Freedom and pro-Democracy. And historically, had the Persians conquered Greece, it was unlikely that Democracy would have taken hold in the Western world. In this way, the movie likely portrayed an important turning point for Western Civilization. For this, we can rightly cheer the good guys defeating the bad guys.

But, enough of the plot dissection. It was a great flick with non-stop, adrenaline pumping, blood gushing action. Go see it and enjoy it.

My only question is: when does the DVD come out? I want to see it again and again!

OSHA scarce at Houston plants; Insite scarce at Chronicle

The writer of this hit piece proves to be sufficiently clueless as to the nature of OSHA:
Federal regulators responsible for ensuring worker safety have not conducted planned inspections of the vast majority of area petroleum refineries over the last five years — including the BP Texas City plant where 15 people were killed two years ago, a Houston Chronicle review of federal records shows.

Instead, inspections by the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration of local refineries have been conducted only sporadically — sometimes after years of no visits by inspectors at all. And the few inspections that have been conducted all came after a complaint, referral or accident, records show.
First of all, federal regulators are not responsible for ensuring worker safety: workers themselves (including management) are responsible for setting up safety systems and procedures that give them the highest chance of working safely.

Second of all, OSHA always has been and always will be a reactive force, not a proactive one. That is the nature of their charter and behavior.

Of course, Houston Chronicle writers do not have a monopoly on cluelessness:

"OSHA's oversight role has been a major focus of our investigation for more than a year and we will be presenting significant findings (Tuesday) in our final report," CSB Chairwoman Carolyn Merritt told the Chronicle.

OSHA defends its enforcement record, saying it ensures safe workplaces through vigorous inspections and voluntary compliance programs.

Merritt said that approach may not be effective.

"Voluntary programs and partnerships have a useful role, but they should never be used as a substitute for strong regulations, inspections and enforcement," Merritt said.

We have met Ms. Merritt before.

Then again, let's hear some chemical talk from a lawyer.
"There is an acute lack of OSHA oversight in an industry that needs to have a high level of oversight because of the nature of the dangers inherent in cooking gasoline," said Brent Coon, a Beaumont lawyer who has represented injured workers in the March 23, 2005, BP blast.
Yes, "cooking gasoline" is exactly what they do at refineries. Brilliant.

Now, let's get to solutions. The ever-present "budget cuts", that is, "we need more money."
Gary Beevers, District 6 Coordinator for the United Steelworkers, said OSHA wasn't always viewed as being lax. Shortly after it was established by Congress in 1970, he said, the agency was known for its unannounced inspections of petroleum refineries and heavy fines.

But throughout the 1980s, the agency fell victim to budget cuts, Beevers said. It also began focusing more on personal safety issues — such as making sure workers are wearing protective goggles and reducing slips and falls — and took its eye off the larger process safety issues that can lead to explosions. Process safety deals with the operation of equipment and the handling of hazardous materials.

But are we safer now than then? Ray Skinner seems to think so:
"When I first came here there was hardly a week when we didn't have a fire or explosion in this area," said Skinner, who retired in 2004. "Then after a massive outreach, we saw the industry turning around." As the result of the new regulations, he said, the industry is much safer today and experiencing far fewer fires, explosions and chemical releases.
And lastly, the specter of fear:
"I don't see many people shaking in their boots when they hear OSHA is coming," Mannan said.
Why does Mannan think that fear makes companies operate safety. Here is a clue: it does not. Never has, never will. Compliance with rules and regulations has never, nor will ever be enough.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

I'm Back

After an approximately two week hiatus, I am back to blogging again. I took a vacation, hosted a house party and did lots of work so I was not actively looking to blog over the last two weeks. It was good to get away for awhile because we all know how much pressure blogging is. After all, this blog is literally read by handfuls of readers each week and the pressure is tremendous. ;-)

I am sure I will find something to blog about. A lot has happened in the last two weeks.
  • Vacation to Colorado and Wyoming that included cross-country skiing and snow shoeing. It always makes me feel good I can still beat up on my 64 year old dad on skis. I mean heck, he goes to the gym all the time and lives at 7000 feet. Despite buying an elliptical machine, I am less than in good shape. OK. Much Less.
  • Finished reading two books (The Speed of Trust and Change or Die)
  • Went to see 300 (awesome movie if only for its politically incorrect themes).
  • Had people over to the house for my traditionally Spring Party. This was the fourth consecutive one.
On top of that, my foster dog Brady will likely be adopted today. He is one of the sweetest dogs I have had. For the family that gave him up to die, I call you an idiot (I actually have stronger words, but this is a family blog). You let a great dog go because he was "too big" (at an estimated 70-75 lbs full grown, he is not).

I am also considering purchasing a Honda Civic Hybrid. What do you think about that?

Anyway, plenty of things to write about. If not, I can always exhume the Houston Chronicle's resident, self-absorbed, anti-capitalist business columnist. That is good for two blog posts a week.

See you around.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Creeping Communism

When will the world learn that socialism and communism are "The Road to Serfdom"? Apparently, teachers in Washington State want to go there as fast as possible and are indoctrinating children in the ways of Marx. It is despicable in my opinion:
So they first explored with the children the issue of ownership. Not all of the students shared the teachers' anathema to private property ownership. "If I buy it, I own it," one child is quoted saying. The teachers then explored with the students concepts of fairness, equity, power, and other issues over a period of several months.

At the end of that time, Legos returned to the classroom after the children agreed to several guiding principles framed by the teachers, including that "All structures are public structures" and "All structures will be standard sizes." The teachers quote the children:

"A house is good because it is a community house."

"We should have equal houses. They should be standard sizes."

"It's important to have the same amount of power as other people over your building."
If you want to live in Venezuela, keep going down this road. I won't be going with you.