Monday, March 21, 2011


Still not a lot going on at work other than getting bored silly reading stuff on the internet. I did manage to do one whole return this morning. I feel all tingly. So while Debbie is cranking out work like crazy, I'm wasting my time. Well, I still get paid so maybe "wasted" isn't the right word. It's just that I spend 99.9% of my time here reading blogs and e-mail, and posting stuff here when I feel the need.

Japan. I haven't said much over the last week-plus about what's going on over there mostly because there really isn't that much new information. The best source of information on the mess with the nuclear reactors is a series of interviews with a retired nuclear engineer. There is a great deal we just don't know; partly because it's an on-going event in an area completely destroyed by the earthquake/tsunami. It's not like someone at the power plant can pick up a phone and do an interview with CNN. Everything is smashed. The other problem is a lack of transparency from the power company in charge of the plant, which may be in part because everything is smashed. What is clear is that this is not some minor problem that will be fixed in a few hours or even days. However, there is also no reason to panic.

What probably disturbs me more than anything is the media focus on the power plant. Yes it is serious. Potentially very serious to those in the immediate area. But so is 18,000 dead and hundreds of thousands homeless. So are shortages of water and food. And burning refineries. And destroyed ports in a nation that imports 95% of its energy. And for the gods sakes, if you are going to make a living focusing on the nuclear plants, educate yourself! Learn what "critical" means in the context of a nuclear plant. Learn the difference between radiation and fallout. Quit screaming "meltdown" at every wisp of steam. Quit screwing up the units.

And it seems that while I went away for a couple days, our Nobel Peace Prize-winning president has started a third war. Without a declaration from Congress, of course, but we all know that's just some outdated idea from a bunch of dead white guys. One hundred-plus Tomahawk missiles were launch into Libya, including two that punched holes in the roof of the equivalent of the White House here in the United States. I seriously doubt that was necessary in order to enforce a no-fly zone in rebel-held areas. I have no doubt that the world would be a better place with one less bat-shit crazy dude in a fake military uniform, but I would love to see what document is being used as authority for the US to assassinate the head of a sovereign nation. Other than the We're Bigger Than You And We Can doctrine that seems to inform all US foreign policy for the last few decades.

Another country for us to occupy for all time without accomplishing anything. How many times do we have to get our collective nose cut off before we learn to quit sticking it in other people's business?

And after a few days of reality, the stock markets are back in the gentle fairyland of rainbow farting unicorns. We can all have a nice warm cup of cocoa now and go back to sleep. Don't pay attention to those spiking commodity prices and rising prices in the store. They can't hurt you.

And I still have 3 1/2 hours to kill. What else can I ramble on about?

It looks like NASA is making one more last ditch effort to contact the Spirit Mars rover, then officially calling it quits. Meanwhile, the Opportunity rover is still chuggin' along. These are definitely two of the crown jewels of NASA. Along with Cassini, which has sent back thousands of images that are beyond words:

As someone who grew up on grainy TV images from the moon, this stuff is amazing.

And I did another return! Woo hoo! Two in one day! And only two more hours to kill.

When is green energy not green? When it is wind power:

...Britain flaunts its environmental credentials by speckling its coastlines and unspoiled moors and mountains with thousands of wind turbines, it is contributing to a vast man-made lake of poison in northern China. This is the deadly and sinister side of the massively profitable rare-earths industry that the ‘green’ companies profiting from the demand for wind turbines would prefer you knew nothing about.

Every way of generating electricity has costs. We're seeing the costs of nuclear playing out in Japan. Wind farms kill birds, create toxic goo during their manufacture, and don't work as advertised. PV panels take 20 years to generate the power needed to build them. Coal miners die in mine cave-ins, mountain-top removal is an environmental nightmare, and living 50 miles from a coal-fired electrical plant will expose you to three times the annual radiation as living 50 miles from a nuke plant. Natural gas plants explode and fraking contaminates drinking water. Nothing is free from risk. If you really care about the environment, quit using so damned much energy! Depending on what numbers you look at, Europeans use between a third to half the energy Americans do and live approximately the same (and some argue better) lifestyle. It's not impossible to drastically reduce energy consumption; we simply choose to not think about it expecting technology to save the day once again.

Well, it's getting close to time for me to scoot out of this place, so I'll stop rambling.

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