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Friday, October 31, 2008

What They Are Really Saying.

The late game plan of the Republican campaign seems to be to frighten voters by holding forth the visage of a sixty vote Democratic majority in the Senate. Be afraid. Be very afraid. In reality the Rs are saying it is their intent to use the filibuster in the Senate to gridlock the government for the next two years. Why else would they want the capacity to block legislation?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Miracle In Florida

The most amazing event of this election was the timing of the joint appearance between President Clinton and Barak Obama to fit into a live shot on the eleven O'clock news. Nobody but nobody has ever been able to schedule Bill Clinton finely enough to fit into the tightly timed schedule of broadcast television. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Know Nukes

There is no doubt that a nuke plant produces a prodigious amount of electricity. More than any coal or gas fired plant, and outdone by only a few hydro electric dams. Nukes produce very little greenhouse gas compared to any of the fossil fuel fired alternatives. Nukes, if not operated by lax and greedy companies or brain dead government functionaries, have been shown as safe as any oil or coal based generation method. Safer than coal really. Engineers love Nuke plants. All these are facts. All that said we must be realistic.

Nukes are at the bottom of the list when it comes to being sited in a community. There is nothing like a proposed nuke plant to inspire a native uprising. The suburban tribes have something more powerful than rifles and war ponies. They have lawyers. 

Nukes are hellishly expensive. Fifty billion a copy, and to be fair, a like amount for waste storage and decommissioning costs. The current proposal for fifty of these plants is a ruinous dream. 

For the price of ten Nukes we could insulate every home in the US and install heat pumps in al fuel oil heated residence. The number of jobs created would be enormous. Low skilled workers would insulate homes and install efficient windows. You don't even need a degree to operate a caulking gun, and there is no waiting period to buy one. Skilled workers would build and install the heat pumps. Saudi princes can't cut off the laws of thermodynamics that makes heat pumps operate. 

There may well be a spot for a Nuke plant, but the alternatives should be looked at first. We are probably ten years or more away from a practical photovoltaic power production, but basic science breakthroughs could change that in a hurry. Wind is coming on line fast, but is starting to run into a bit of NIMBY pushback. (Why doesn't GM make wind towers? There is a bigger market for those than Escalades.) 

Monday, October 27, 2008

Luck: A Superstition

I've never had much respect for the concept of luck. Probability seems to be written into the fabric of the universe, and any deviation from the mean is an illusion ginned up in our little brains in that special place that sorts tigers from waving grass. All that said, and I will reiterate, John McCain is one profoundly unlucky guy. Be it gremlins setting off his bomb load on the decks of the USS Forrestall, getting shot out of the sky by a bunch of farmers, losing his family to booze and bimbos on his return from POW camp, the Keating S&L scandal or the selection of Palin for VP candidate McCain  is repeatedly screwed. Did I mention five years of torture?

Now in the fading days of the '08 campaign fortune continues to rain on the Republican parade. Ted "Internet Tubes" Stevens has been convicted, and promised to deliver the reddest of the red states, Alaska to the Dems. 

All evidence to the contrary, there may indeed be a god-ish sort of creature out there screwing with us.