Saturday, October 23, 2010

At Least It Only Lasts 24 Hours


Of course I can't predict which of my days will wind up better or worse than the others. But one thing I do know is that of the next 365, 364 of them will start out with a built-in advantage. One of them in fact will have to climb harder than all the rest, since it will always begin several hundred yards farther down the hill.

Now I don't mind celebrating other people's birthdays. Those give me the opportunity to rejoice that the calamity of age is ruining the lives of my friends at the same steady pace that it is ruining mine. Which reminds me. When asked about it, maybe one in ten seniors will say they enjoy getting older and wouldn't want to be young again - which is really just their way with dealing with the reality that they have no choice about it. Unless you are a fool, why would'nt you want to be young again? I mean, if you instantly became young again, you would in due course arrive back to where you were before and then get to experience that pleasant old age, which you claim to be so hot, twice.

And by the way, I've always considered the standard bon mot to be rationally impossible. It is like wishing a man emerging from a knife fight, "happy stab wound", or another awaiting sentencing, "happy incarceration". In fact, although we don't know it at the time, each of us can have only one truly happy birthday: that being the one at which the entirety of life lies before us. Each year after that we have less and less of it to consume.

Conditioned as they are by Hallmark and American Greetings, which would make the sinking of the Titanic a national holiday if they could, most people would say that apathy, or even outright depression on one's birthday to be plain humbug. I find this as convincing as the idea that a man should say, "Oh look, my arm has fallen off. How marvelous!". So let us be more reasonable than that. Today is my birthday. I'm dealing with it with fortitude. But don't expect me to be quiet about it...


Friday, October 22, 2010

I Despair, Part III


It's been my experience that most people who habitually refer to themselves as liberals or conservatives are the kind of people who, when presented with a new problem or obstacle, prefer to address it with ideology rather than intelligence. This is not to say that either liberalism or conservatism, in their naked forms, cannot add a useful dimension to intelligence. Surely they can. Or, that a thoughtful, intelligent liberal will always arrive at the same solution which a thoughtful and intelligent conservative will. They don't, or at least, don't often.

In any case, I think you will find that any solution, thoughtfully and intelligently conceived, should be as workable and inoffensive to the liberal as it is to the conservative. Politics however, has become nothing more than the art of not having to admit to this elementary fact. In politics, liberals and conservatives are taught to portray each other as stupid, or heartless, or for that matter against anything which improves the human condition and for anything which corrupts it. What hogwash that is!

We all know that most men and women of the same time and country generally share the same aims and values in their day to day lives. To be sure, some may favor red meat while others are vegetarians. But even then they usually have the aim of a good meal. Most of us want safe neighborhoods, good schools, smooth roads, honest jobs and decent paychecks. Few, if indeed any of us like paying taxes - and just about everyone believes they are taxed too much while the other guy is taxed too little. Finally, except when behind the wheel of a car, most of us are reasonably courteous to one another and disgusted by those who aren't.

With all of these things to unite us, why are we then so confused by the illusion of politics? I mean, if one is convinced that candidate "A" is a scoundrel who burns orphanages and eats babies for lunch, it necessarily follows that any person who votes for candidate "A" is by inference a person who favors burning orphanages or eating babies - either that, or is a blockhead, which is nearly as bad.

Recently I watched a political ad on television where the candidate, a man himself of uncertain dignity, accused his opponent of voting for a bill, the object of which was to furnish Viagra to convicted rapists. You've probably seen it yourself. I then imagined this opponent rising up in the Georgia State Legislature and announcing a bill to address, swiftly and effectively, the problem of erectile dysfunction among known rapists. And what a tumultuous session that must have been! I suppose that as a means of securing the rapist vote, such a gesture would have no equal, but still, strategically unwise.

Now I doubt if this man's opponent is running ads of any greater honesty or credibility.

One day, just once, I'd like to see a political ad whereby a candidate admits to having some faults as well as some strengths, and yet also to the decency of his opponent. In such an ad he or she might even claim their opponent to have some good ideas, but that his (or her's) are a little better and more numerous. I assure you I would leave the funeral of my best friend to go and vote for a person like that - regardless of what their ideas were or experience consisted of. I'd vote for that person if their central motive was to ban alcohol or college football - all the while rejoicing that here, for maybe the first time in American history, was a candidate who prized my intellect over my prejudice.

And thereby we arrive, by way of a meandering road, to my point. Frankly, I can't think of any profession, licit or not, which is as dismissive of intelligence as politics. Even among ditch diggers, one imagines that all things being equal, the smarter ones would be preferred. Yet in politics, intelligence is not only to be avoided, but has become a thing routinely despised.

Most voters accept that a man is perfectly capable of legislating effectively on matters affected by law, history, science, philosophy - even religion - without having any verified knowledge of these arts, so long as he owns a backbone and a good heart. Lately, even this limited standard has been reduced to the point where we only trust leaders with whom we conceive we would enjoy having beers with at the neighborhood bar.

Thus, pity the man running for office who can demonstrate an early and passionate interest in law, history, science, philosophy, religion, or all of them, by producing a record of academic achievement in any of these fields, since none of that matters when confronted by an adversary who understands, by osmosis, "the real world".

Pfah! Isn't the academic record of law, history, science, philosophy and religion nothing more than a patiently accumulated and analyzed account of the "real" world? I mean, what planet, exactly, do professors at universities teach the history of? Mars? Jupiter? And for that matter, even if they do teach the history of Mars and Jupiter in place of Earth's, how can anyone who relies on the local bar or the race track for wisdom be expected to know the difference?



Thursday, October 21, 2010

Clean Energy Investing


you said:

"According to denialists, investors like Deutsche Bank - and for that matter, anyone else interested in investing in companies like Solyndra - are just making the science up as they go along. AGW really isn't happening, as the theory goes, and private companies, as well as governments, are more or less betting on a losing horse. Sooner or later AGW will be exposed as the hoax it really is and all that investment in clean energy is going to go right down the tubes."

I must say I 100% disagree with your conclusion. I am also quite disappointed at your use of a wide-scope tar-bush in an attempt to paint 'denialists' into some perceived 'corner' created by AGW enthusiasts. I will respond in detail in a subsequent post. Which leads to your next comment:

"And if a problem doesn't exist, what possible reason could we have for investing in a solution?"

Investing in "Clean, Green Energy" and investing in an unproven and highly suspect AGW 'solution' are 2 entirely different things. And you know it. Don't mix apples and oranges.

With respect to your economic analysis, the structure, functions, control and operations of the economy of China and the US are totally different. The government plays a different role in each. If you are advocating a rejection of the current US economic approach (e.g. based on capitalism principles with many operational variations), in favor of a China-like, government-controlled, centrally-managed style (e.g. based on Socialist and Marxist philosophies), then I think you're barking up the wrong tree about the proper role of government for the U.S. We've got enough issues with government bureaucracy interfering with the 'free-market', without adding the needless burden of central planning. Sure, central planning works very well - but only for the ultimate benefit of those holding the controls.

You can be free or you can be a willing slave. (Let's not banter over definitions here, you know what I mean.) I'd rather be free to fail rather than forced to live in fear of bureaucratic reprisal, and begging for my continued existence according to the whim of those who consider themselves to be my political 'masters'... I thought you did too.

- Steve

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


We're spotlighting an interesting October 10th article from the NYT here, "Silicon Valley’s Solar Innovators Retool to Catch Up to China", which briefly chronicles the progress of emerging solar panel manufacturers in Silicon Valley. From the article:

"...But as the companies finally begin mass production — Solyndra just flipped the switch on a $733 million factory here last month — they are finding that the economics of the industry have already been transformed, by the Chinese. Chinese manufacturers, heavily subsidized by their own government and relying on vast economies of scale, have helped send the price of conventional solar panels plunging and grabbed market share far more quickly than anyone anticipated."

Now by all appearances, due to a burgening domestic demand for clean energy products, Solyndra is probably going to remain viable for the immediate future. But as for the future of the industry in this country as a whole, well, things don't look too good. As far as clean energy is concerned, we've fallen far behind the world's major players - and the gap is widening at a frightening pace. Tellingly, the article goes on to say:

"In the third quarter of 2010, venture capital investment in solar companies plummeted to $144 million from $451 million in the year-ago quarter, according to the Cleantech Group, a San Francisco research firm.

The paucity of capital and the sheer size of Chinese solar panel makers have proved particularly problematic for companies like Solyndra and MiaSolé, which make photovoltaic cells using a material called copper indium gallium selenide, or CIGS.

...While Silicon Valley companies were working on the problem, silicon prices fell and Chinese companies like JA Solar, Suntech and Yingli Green Energy rapidly expanded production of conventional solar panels, supported by tens of billions of dollars in inexpensive credit from the Chinese government as well as other subsidies like cheap land.

...Chinese solar panel makers now supply about 40 percent of the California market, the largest in the United States, and the bulk of the European market, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a research and consulting firm."

Now let's stop here for a minute and reconsider the post I put up a few moons back on Deutsche Bank. Elsewhere in the blogosphere, I've seen a few denialist reactions to the article on which that post was based. JoNova's is here. At SPPI, Ross McKitrick actually went to the trouble of composing an entire pamphlet: "Response to Misinformation from Deutsche Bank"!

I wasn't particularly suprised to find the denialist reaction would be so predictable. According to denialists, investors like Deutsche Bank - and for that matter, anyone else interested in investing in companies like Solyndra - are just making the science up as they go along. AGW really isn't happening, as the theory goes, and private companies, as well as governments, are more or less betting on a losing horse. Sooner or later AGW will be exposed as the hoax it really is and all that investment in clean energy is going to go right down the tubes.

In an incredible act of irresponsibility, the current crop of Republican candidates for congress have cynically judged the political winds, decided to deny the findings their own country's scientific establishment, and assert that global warming isn't happening. Nothing to see here folks, move right along...

What this means in real terms is that the U.S. public, as well as companies like Solyndra and investors like Deutsche Bank, are going to have to wait at least a few more years for a U.S. Government capable of developing a coherent, effective energy policy which addresses climate change and encourages the growth of the domestic clean energy industry. None of that is going to happen so long as we're stuck in denial of the very problem itself. And if a problem doesn't exist, what possible reason could we have for investing in a solution?

Now I doubt if the rest of the world is going to sit on their hands and wait for us to smarten up. The Europeans have already put in place a crude, often abused, yet nevertheless functional system of cap and trade - which has created an environment most favorable for advances in clean energy. Spain for instance already supplies over 13% of its energy needs from renewables - whereas that percentage has actually been declining here almost every year over the last 60 years, and now stands at 10% (down from over 20% in 1959). England has just finished building the world's largest off shore windfarm, (turbines courtesy of Vestas, Denmark). Most European nations are aiming at producing a minimum of 20% of their energy from renewables within the next ten years - which (incredibly) would put them where we were 60 years ago. Apparently the Europeans get it.

Over on the other side of the world, China has now become the largest manufacturer on Earth of wind turbines and solar panels. And not only that, but has now become the world's largest renewable energy producer - as well as the first developing country to create a national strategy for addressing climate change. You can read the policy here. And if this strikes you as mere propaganda, do your research. China is not only backing up that policy with action, but regularly exceeding the policy's benchmarks. Meanwhile, back here in America we're still trying to figure out the First Law of Holes.

We should have seen this coming. Yet back in 2001, when we still had the muscle to develop a far-sighted energy policy, what we got instead was shotgun marriage to big oil (and coal) courtesy of Dick Cheney's narrow minded Energy Task Force. It took almost four years and an aggressive legal challenge to get the Administration to release any records of those meetings. How's that for an "open and honest" government? The Bush Administration put together an energy policy with far reaching consequences for virtually every citizen in the U.S., yet refused to tell the public who really authored it. And when we found out, all the major players turned out to be (surprise!) representatives from every single major player in the coal and oil industry - including the ever so patriotic and unselfish Ken Lay... you know, the guy who was indicted and convicted on six counts of securities and wire fraud.

Steve, if there's a silver lining here its tiny and not very encouraging, but its all we here in this country have to go on at this point: Change will come. But it probably won't originate in the forums of public opinion or the halls of Congress. It's going to happen in the board rooms of the Exxon's, the Peabody Coal's and the Duke Energy's. These people aren't stupid. I'd like to think they're motivated by a concern for the health of the planet - but if past history is any indication, I'm not banking on it. However, sooner or later they're going to wake up to the same conclusion that the rest of the world has already recognized, namely, that renewables represent an astonishingly rich souce of future profits. I hope when they do it won't be too late.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Sunday, October 10, 2010

From the Kitchens of Chef Christophe: Porky Beef Stew


Assemble the following ingredients:

4 carrots
4 stalks of celery
1 medium onion
4 medium potatoes
1.5 lbs of chuck roast
1.5 lbs of pork loin
1/4 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of tapioca
1 can crushed tomatoes
salt and pepper

Cut half the carrots, celery, onion, potatoes, chuck and pork into bite size chunks. Mix them together in the bottom of your crock pot. Pour over this half the sugar and tapioca - salt and pepper to taste, then pour over this half the crushed tomatoes. Then, repeat the process. All this takes about 20 minutes, tops.

Cook on low for 7 hours or high for 3.5 hours, being sure to stir the whole thing up half way through.

Steve, this is far and away the easiest stew to make which you will ever find and it tastes fantastic. You can switch out the vegetables - I've often wanted to add turnips and okra. You can make the whole thing vegetarian if you want - or add more meat. I don't know why but I like the combination of pork and beef - but you can use just one or the other if you like. The most important parts of this however are the sugar, tapioca and crushed tomatoes. The tapioca thickens the stew, the tomatoes give it a pleasant tartness and the sugar, well, you can probably guess what that does.

-Chef Christophe

Thursday, October 7, 2010



I'm sorry I can't properly respond to your last post because there seems to be something wrong with my Internet Explorer. Apparently, you have uncovered some sort of document, or video, (I'm not sure which) that proves "the environmental movement" is on par with Islamic terrorism -or worse.

Additionally, there is some sort of evidence (text? video?) which proves that AGW theory is actually a religion - as opposed to a scientific theory, gradually constructed by thousands upon thousands of hours of patient observation and experiment over many years by experts in the field. And, most alarmingly, "believers" in this religion (like myself ) have the ultimate aim of "...implementing a world-wide totalitarian regime.". Jumpin' jehosaphat!

Well anyway, all I get when I click the link in your post is a fairly tasteless video put out by some outfit in the UK (10:10) which promotes the otherwise reasonable premise that ordinary folks like you and I can participate in cutting down on carbon emissions.

Since I know you know what straw man arguments are, I'm convinced a person of your integrity would not use one to tar and feather everyone who disagrees with your viewpoint - or, in other words, hold every man jack who considers himself to be an environmentalist accountable for every tasteless video that comes down the pike.

So, I guess you'll just have to wait until I get my internet fixed and can access all the AGW terroristic, totalitarian religious documents on which you are commenting, so I can then formulate a response.




Disgusting. Horrid. And all-too revealing of what is likely to be the motivations behind an otherwise 'peaceful' movement... A link to the "10:10" video can be found here. Don't be shocked at the gore (pun intended) in the video. Sadly, no matter how you try to dress the pig in something pretty this climate alarmist message ultimately leads to one result (desire?): Death.

It will be difficult - if not impossible - to kick this trash under the rug and hope nobody smells the stench. IMHO, this is the carefully crafted message from a substantial portion (no, not all) of the individuals at very heart of the global green movement: If you stand in the way of our plans, we will eliminate you.

Even good ol' non-violent Greenpeace tip-toes around condemning this pile of putrid refuse. Their response (and most others in the environmental movement who can dig up the courage to comment at all) can be summed up as implying 'things will settle down, if the sinister forces of well-funded corporate climate-change skepticism would just get out of the way'. Hogwash.

The AGW religion suffers from an inability to rationally deal with opposing ideas. They can’t even allow for the possibility of honest dissent. And - considering the panic at the numerous attempts to get rid of this offensive video - they can’t even handle their own words being repeated back to them. This film reveals that a significant portion of the AGW proponents support the concept of implementing a world-wide totalitarian regime to enforce their viewpoint. They demand “voluntary” involvement to pledge one's support of their cause. And a failure to “volunteer” will be appreciated in an appropriate (negative) way. Tyranny, by another name, is still what it is.

I'm sorry - I don't care HOW many honest and concerned people accept the AGW dogma: this production in an attempt to generate support for AGW and other environmental concerns is a *huge* PR problem if you want to be taken seriously. IMHO, this propaganda-driven trash is on the same level as Islamic Terrorism... if these jokers "don't speak for everyone" - then why aren't environmental organizations falling all over themselves to condemn and totally reject this garbage? Don't just 'gently rebuke' it: De-fund them. Make them go away. Then, PROVE that disagreement with the canon of AGW brotherhood is not a path to Death and Destruction raining down at the hands of True Believers.

The clock is ticking.

- Steve

Grow up people!


The headline in this morning's Atlanta Journal reads:

"Lawsuit accuses Delta pilot of beer-fueled belligerence"

Which sounds pretty bad. I mean after all, drunken, belligerent people are not exactly the kind of people you want at the controls of a jumbo jet - especially the one you happen to be on. But let's look a little closer. From the article:

"Delta flight attendant Jeanette French claims in the suit filed Friday in Fulton County State Court that pilot Loren Gus Pryor attacked her during an overnight layover in the African city. The Georgia woman claims the pilot from Texas was among a group from the Delta flight who were swilling beer taken from their aircraft and that they were making a scene while they were poolside at the Pullman Teranga Hotel in August 2008.

When she told them to cool it and warned that alcohol was illegal there, Pryor allegedly lashed out at her, grabbing her by the shoulder, twisting her around and shoving her away.

"You're not my mother," the lawsuit claims he said. "Now get the [expletive] out of here." He also allegedly warned her, as nearby pilots laughed and shouted more obscenities, that "You don't want to [expletive] with me."

Eubanks (French's attorney) wrote in the suit that her client is suffering "fear, anxiety, worry and severe emotional distress" (my emphasis) over the incident and what followed.

Holy mackerel Steve - are you kidding me? Now I'd love to hear the other side of the story, but for now, let's concede that every word of Ms French's version is true. Which would mean this Pryor guy is one first class jerk. He drank way too many beers, got drunk and mouthed off to a flight attendant. This is the kind of situation where you would just love to see some 300 pound gorilla materialize and give the guy a good swift kick in the pants.

But a lawsuit? Fear, anxiety, worry, emotional distress? Hasn't this gal ever been in a bar before, or at the least a bar mitzvah? Steve, you may want to lie down after I tell you this, but alcohol has the annoying habit of turning guys into loud mouthed jerks. So what?

Ms French is also suing Delta for "... failing to properly investigate the alleged incident and then telling her she might have to fly with Pryor again."

Well whoop de freaking do. Steve, I'm a tree hugging, feminist loving, hyper-sensitive liberal, as apt to stick a posey in a gun barrel as any hippie who ever walked the Earth. But even I don't get this one.

We don't live in a perfect world. Lots of women have had to endure all kinds of abuse. Ex-husbands and boyfriends treat them like glorified punching bags. They get stalked, harrassed, kidnapped, stabbed, raped - and worse. Personally, my solution would be to just take their tormentors out back and administer a little quick surgery with a rusty knife. In any case, justice demands that we all make it our business as responsible citizens to do everything we can to put an end to this. But you know something? Ridiculous, opportunistic suits like this trivialize the whole process and in my opinion make it incrementally more difficult for a woman who has genuinely suffered to obtain satisfaction in court.

What do you think?


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

NFL Pink Ribbons

I appreciate the sentiment and awareness with all the PINK items the NFL is promoting. We all love and support our women and want to protect and validate them and show that we care...

But let's be real for moment...

Football is a "guy" sport. And you see PINK stuff for breast cancer *everywhere*. Shouldn't we men (and the NFL) spend at least as much time promoting a BABY BLUE ribbon for prostate cancer research and urge MEN to get screened, too?

Just sayin'...

- Steve

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Nudism. What's up with that?


In all honesty, I never could understand all the hoopla about nudism. And not for the obvious reasons either. I'm sure there are a lot of folks out there who would look dynamite without any clothes on - but most of us have bodies which fall short of the Mendoza Line when it comes to attractiveness in the nude. Even so, I'm sure if you were a nudist you would get used to that. The real problem I have with nudism is, doggonit, I just plain like clothes. I like my jeans, my comfy knit boxers, my tee shirts... the whole bit.

You may remember what passed for racy literature when we were young were those nudist magazines. I got hold of a few, but even then I really didn't much care for them. I mean, here these people were stark naked - just what pimply adolescents like me wanted to see - but somehow those pictures always left me flat. Now, as then, show me a girl in a short, tight fitting dress and what's left of my hormones will start barking like dogs and howling at the moon. Now take the dress off and sure, I notice, but right after that the old hormones just want to lie down and take a nap.

I guess you can't beat the age old scam. Give a guy 90% of what he wants to see and he will spend most of his time and all of his money trying to get a peek at the other 10%. But show him the full Monty right out of the box and in no time he'll be out sniffing around somebody else's fire hydrant. Steve, the journey is most always more exciting than the destination.

As soon as Adam and Eve had a bite out of the apple, they realized they were naked and went looking for clothes. I always thought this was odd because clothes hadn't been invented yet. But still, its a story which resonates even today. Usually, the temptation to sin is far more exciting an experience than the sin itself.

Many, many years ago, back when I was a young buck growing up in the corn fields of Indiana, they had this carnival come through the sleepy little town of Swayzee every year. The biggest attraction was the strip show - and there was no age limit to get in. What you did was paid about a dollar and you got into the show. This girl came out in a bikini and did about two minutes of wiggle and shake, then stood up and waited while a man with a straw hat and a cane came out and announced that the second half of the show would cost you another three bucks. I can remember his words to this very day:

"When she comes back out she'll be wearing only three little dots. One here, one here," He said, pointing with his cane, then pointing to some red faced kid in the audience he continued, "and one here, where little junior is staring at. "

Well, everyone always paid the extra three bucks, after which the girl came back out and in no time the three pasties came off and all of us rubes got a quick lesson in anatomy. I can still remember her wrapping her leg around the tent pole and chewing gum with a really bored expression on her face. And you know what Steve? I was too precocious to admit it then, but I could have saved myself the three bucks because the first half of the show was always better than the second.


Now, as a bonus, a quick guide on how to translate some common phrases:

"This is going to hurt me more than it does you..."
Translation: "This is going to hurt you more than it does me."

"You had to be there..."
Translation: Thank God you weren't there because this joke sucked even worse the first time.

"So and so is no longer with the company. He left to pursue other interests..."
Translation: The boss canned his ass.

"Our price is too low to put in print..."
Translation: Our price is so high it embarrasses even us."

"So and so is a real go-getter..."
Translation: So and so is an annoying, self-promoting jerk.

...and a couple of married guy "how comes?"

OK, when going out to dinner, you ask your wife where she wants to go. Invariably, she will say, I don't know, you decide... Oh yeah? How come whatever place you suggest, she doesn't like it. Then you suggest another and she doesn't like that one either. After about the tenth suggestion you throw up your hands and say maybe you shouldn't go out after all. Then she gives you this fruity look, says she'll go out to the very first place you suggested and winds up having a great time - all of which makes you feel like a total idiot.

Finally, how about the "two dress syndrome"? You know how it works. You're out shopping - she holds up two dresses and asks which one you like the most. The one you point to is always - and I mean always the one she doesn't like the most. Imagine, if you will, a parallel universe in which you picked the other dress. Well by golly, even in that universe you picked the wrong one. It doesn't make any sense, does it? Consider then, naive man that you are - that wives are conditioned to like the dress you say you don't like .

Steve, these are universal laws. They aren't fair, they aren't logical... But in a weird sort of way, us guys wouldn't have it any other way.