Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Where's It Wednesday—LXXII

Where in Seattle is this?

Somewhere in Seattle... but where?

Answer next week.

Details on the weekly Where's It Wednesday puzzle here.
Other weeks' puzzles here.
Answer to last week's puzzle, after the jump.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Monday, February 27, 2012

Feeding Banks

Whale Appetites

Blue whale
 ~ The blue whale is the largest animal on the planet, and it feeds almost exclusively on one of the smallest—krill or plankton, tiny shrimp-like creatures called euphausiids. Each may eat up to 4 tons a day. Their ability to eat enough depends in part on two things: lots of krill in the ocean, and dense concentrations of them that make the feeding process practical in time and energy expended.

Lately, I've been pondering the similarities of blue whales and large banks.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Energy Lies—X

"Drilling More Will Keep Gas Prices Low"

 ~ Consumption of gasoline in the US has been falling for years:

US EIA chart of refinery deliveries of gasoline to retailers

As a consequence, US oil refineries have increased exports:

US EIA chart of oil product exports

No surprise here. As US domestic demand falls, prices would normally drop unless supply also decreased. Were supply to increase, prices would drop even more. Instead, supply is being diverted, and prices are going up.

The market for oil and refined products is global. With demand surging in developing economies, and the price there higher, a global commodity like gasoline is sent into the global market, not kept in the US to lower prices.

So think about that the next time you hear some politician, or API apologist pointing fingers about higher gas prices. It isn't evil environmentalists or intransigent bureaucrats, it's economics, stupid.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

One Dollar, One Vote

Getting What They Pay For

 ~ Where can you reliably get a return on investment of 22,000%? Not even Wall Street insiders can profit like that consistently, but corporations can.

They just "invest" in politicians.

Friday, February 24, 2012


Believer Fever

Jack Gerard, API
“What we’ve learned is that the
public probably doesn’t
understand or appreciate us
as much as we’d like them to.”
 ~ Jack Gerard is the head of the American Petroleum Institute (API), the lobbying group and voluble mouthpiece for Big Oil. He is never at a loss for words, and is relentlessly consistent with a message of how oil is simply wonderful, how lucky we all are to have an oil industry, and how unfairly put upon his industry is.

According to Gerard, the industry is also precariously perched; the slightest diminution in subsidies or the merest restriction in their freedom to operate would spell utter doom for oil production, jobs, government tax revenues, and indeed, the entire American economy. To hear him tell it, Big Oil is just one tax hike, subsidy reduction, delayed permit or tightened regulation away from catastrophe.

Slippery as oil, and completely untrue.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Energy Lies—IX

"Obama's Anti-American Energy Policy"

Newt Gingrich, casually attired
 ~ Sure, it's bombastic in the ugly style of modern political campaigns, but to accuse the American President of being "outrageously anti-American" is tantamount to an accusation of treason. Newt Gingrich should be mortified for his intemperance, but, as his past amply shows, he is beyond shame.

So what has President Obama on energy policy done to provoke the vituperative Georgian so? Two things: not rushing approval of Keystone XL, and being too keen on electrifying our transportation sector.

Gingrich is not just disrespectful and obnoxious, he's also both wrong on the facts and, surprisingly for a self-styled historian, wrong on the nature of what is American.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Where's It Wednesday—LXXI

Where in Seattle is this?

Somewhere in Seattle... but where?

What? Who shrunk the Space Needle and put it... where?

Answer next week.

Details on the weekly Where's It Wednesday puzzle here.
Other weeks' puzzles here.
Answer to last week's puzzle, after the jump.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Rose-Tinted Libertarianism

A Philosophy, or an Excuse?

Cartoon | If Libertarians were Housepets
 ~ The endless election drags on, and the chorus of government haters is in full throat. They say government is too big, too inefficient, too undemocratic even. How much better it would be to have minimal government!

An astonishing number of people scarf up government-provided benefits in the particular even as they carp about excessive government handouts in the abstract. Bare-bones government is appealing until one realizes that government fills a vital role to ensuring our safety and a modicum of social well-being. Without it we have anarchy, not utopia.

It seems that many who spout about libertarianism are more aligned with the one-time British seaman's selfish "I'm all right, Jack" I've got mine and I'm coming out ahead, so screw all of you and stop taxing me already. It's a peculiar form of moral relativism that's inherently amoral. It's OK for me; it's not OK for you. Why? Because that's the way it is (now.)

Libertarianism doesn't work. It never has.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Selective Regulation

Constituent Service?

Things to Regulate
 ~ Who fills their campaign chests?

For all the talk about protecting life, they do rather objectify women as things to regulate.

If they were serious about protecting life, there would be a lot more regulation of quite a few other things, like atmospheric carbon, coal ash tsunamis, guns, fracking fuels in drinking water, and any number of things that blow up far too too often: oil refineries, drilling rigs, and financial markets especially.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Energy Downsides

On Toxic Wind Events

Joe Heller Cartoon: Arguments against different forms of energy
 ~ Um, there aren't any.

Also: who provides the guarantees against the financial fallout of these events?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Week in the Life

How CEOs Divide Their Time

 ~ According to the Wall Street Journal, the typical CEO of a Fortune 500 company spends about a third of his work time in meetings:
In one sample of 65 CEOs, executives spent roughly 18 hours of a 55-hour workweek in meetings, more than three hours on calls and five hours in business meals, on average.
This doesn't surprise me.

What does surprise me, however, is that they spend more time—20 hours a week—on things most of us do not consider work: "Travel, exercise, personal appointments and other activities."

The CEO work week on average

Friday, February 17, 2012

Climate Change Case Closed

A Preponderance of the Evidence

Raymond Burr as Perry Mason ~ Who killed the climate?

For all the misdirection over what is the compelling cause of climate change and the niggling over minor mistakes in the IPCC report, the preponderance of the evidence points to greenhouse gases:
So, we have a precedent for how climate change policy should be determined, not by the bogus logic that any hint of uncertainty in any of the climate science should be grounds for doing nothing, but rather that the overwhelming preponderance of the evidence demonstrating the human link to climate change should frame our actions.
The prosecution rests.

Reposted from my earlier blog of 3/23/10

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Enerdyne Solutions Signs Sales Agreement

Indigo Deal with Maingear

Enerdyne Solutions logo
 ~ Keeping computers, lasers, power electronics and other devices from overheating remains a critical challenge for the electronics industry. Cooler electronics have better performance, operating faster and with less energy. They also have better reliability—every 10°C rise in temperature cuts the operating lifetime of electronic devices in half.

Today, Enerdyne Solutions announced an exclusive distribution deal for our flagship thermal management product with pioneering industry innovator Maingear, the leader in high-performance computer systems.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Where's It Wednesday—LXX

Where in Seattle is this?

Somewhere in Seattle... but where?

Hint: Although it may not look like it, the picture shows (parts of) only one building.

Answer next week.

Details on the weekly Where's It Wednesday puzzle here.
Other weeks' puzzles here.
Answer to last week's puzzle, after the jump.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Entrepreneurial Love

More Lessons from Cupid

I'm with Cupid
 ~ Love, as I wrote last year, is not just something we practice only on the day one of several obscure saints was buried in Rome.

Cupid, everyone's favorite impish avatar of desire, lived love all the time. Who better to teach us about love of being an entrepreneur or the passion of building a business?

So, some cherubic notes on love of startups and of being an entrepreneur:
  1. Love is doing. Cupid didn't mope about wondering when or how best to proceed; he took action.
  2. Cupid didn't lollygag. He was on a mission, in a hurry. He flew!
  3. Desire is infectious. If you have passion, live it. Show others. Let them feel it. Share the love!
  4. Love is nourished by spontaneity. Proceeding by rote makes one a poor lover and a poor entrepreneur both.
  5. Don't confuse Cupid and cupidity. If it's all about money it isn't true love.
  6. Love is addictive. Is love a drug to you? Do you collapse into bed at night utterly sated, and awake again in the morning with consuming passion rekindled? Congratulations, you're in love. Now go do something with it! But...
  7. Love reciprocates. Keep your independent self. If your startup doesn't love you back maybe it's time for a new relationship.
Amor omnia vincit!

    Monday, February 13, 2012


    Libraries of the Mind

     ~ Computers and other digital devices have repurposed a lot of venerable words, like "library". Still, the originals have value, especially when it comes to anyone who still loves the experience of reading an actual book. And especially in the world's singular libraries, one of which we are fortunate to have right here in Seattle:

    Suzzalo Library, University of Washington, Seattle

    Check out these pictures of some of the world's most amazing and intricately detailed libraries. Even better than these, of course, are those that are pictured only in historical memory, like at Alexandria, or in literature, like in Hermann Hesse's Journey to the East. Long could I linger in a book, in a library, in a book, in a library...

    Sunday, February 12, 2012

    Whither the Nation State

    Rights and Responsibilities Diverging

    Mike Luckovich | Mitt Romney is making other rich caricatures look bad
     ~ As citizens we have responsibilities in return for our rights. We pay taxes. We follow the law or we suffer fines or jail time. We might even be conscripted to defend our country.

    At least, that's the theory. However, the very rich and the largest corporations seemingly are no longer burdened by responsibilities these days.
    As Jared Diamond wrote in his book Collapse (Viking, 2004) a society begins to die when the economic elite divorce themselves from all loyalty to place, people, culture or principle and essentially disconnect themselves from the consequences of their actions. They feel no pain and therefore pain does not exist, for them. The pain of others is no fault of theirs or not important in the greater scheme of things as they see it. It is this sense of indifference on the part of the movers and shakers of the economic powers that drives all the ills of the world.

    Saturday, February 11, 2012

    Balancing the Federal Budget

    The Unbalanced and the Unhinged

     ~ Soon it will time to again "debate" continuing to provide benefits to the unemployed. It shouldn't even need debate given the broader economic picture.

    David Horsey cartoon on budget reduction

    But then we live in a time of a growing national identity crisis. Reasonable things may be said, but is anyone listening?

    Not the lizard brains.

    Friday, February 10, 2012

    Climate Change Cause

    Unprecedented Atmospheric Carbon

     ~ There's more carbon in the atmosphere today than at any time in at least the past 650,000 years. A lot more:

    How did it get there?

    Thursday, February 9, 2012

    A Tale of Two Regulatory Regimens

    Regulatory Chutzpah

    Neal Obermeyer | Keystone XL and States' Rights
     ~ Regulations are for thee, not for me.

    Such might well be the motto of the American Petroleum Institute (API), the hyperventilating and richly funded lobbying apparatus of Big Oil in the US. When it comes to regulations on oil and gas, the API affects the highest dudgeon as it rails indignantly against the ostensibly onerous burden saddled upon their industry, which they claim will cost jobs, stunt economic recovery, and make us all more dependent on foreign sources of energy. No surprise, their concern about regulations turns out to be highly selective.

    Wednesday, February 8, 2012

    Where's It Wednesday—LXIX

    Another interior shot this week. Where in Seattle is this?

    Somewhere in Seattle... but where?

    Answer next week.

    Details on the weekly Where's It Wednesday puzzle here.
    Other weeks' puzzles here.
    Answer to last week's puzzle, after the jump.

    Monday, February 6, 2012


    Change is Possible

    A march in Ådalen, Sweden, in 1931
     ~ It happened in Scandinavia starting in the 1930s:
    While many of us are working to ensure that the Occupy movement will have a lasting impact, it’s worthwhile to consider other countries where masses of people succeeded in nonviolently bringing about a high degree of democracy and economic justice. Sweden and Norway, for example, both experienced a major power shift in the 1930s after prolonged nonviolent struggle. They “fired” the top 1 percent of people who set the direction for society and created the basis for something different.

    Both countries had a history of horrendous poverty. When the 1 percent was in charge, hundreds of thousands of people emigrated to avoid starvation. Under the leadership of the working class, however, both countries built robust and successful economies that nearly eliminated poverty, expanded free university education, abolished slums, provided excellent health care available to all as a matter of right and created a system of full employment. Unlike the Norwegians, the Swedes didn’t find oil, but that didn’t stop them from building what the latest CIA World Factbook calls “an enviable standard of living.”
    The 1% fought back. There was a mortgage crisis. The conservatives instituted many of the same neo-liberal and regressive policies that have nearly destroyed the US. Political and police repression were tried, but ultimately failed. It took decades to achieve, but today they enjoy a healthy economy, nearly full employment, a strong social safety net, and broad prosperity.

    Can we learn from history?

    Saturday, February 4, 2012

    Energy Lies—VIII

    "Obama's Anti-Energy Policies"

     ~ The US House Natural Resource Committee web site is a showcase for considerable energy wingnuttery, and offers up such a rich trove of balderdash it's hard to pick just one thing. The over-arching theme is the "Anti-Energy Policies" of the Obama Administration, exemplified by this chart:

    US House Natural Resources Committee's partisan take on recent oil production

    An impressive amount of dissembling has been packed into this one simple chart.

    Friday, February 3, 2012

    Oily Implications

    The Saudi Arabia of... Reason?

    Oil tanker being loaded at Texas refinery
     ~ Q: Who said this?
    We know that pumping oil out of the ground does not create many jobs. It does not foster an entrepreneurial spirit, nor does it sharpen critical faculties.
    A: Saudi Arabia’s Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi.

    We certainly live in a bizarre time. Top Saudi officials look to grow their economy away from a dependence on oil, and have also suggested they should keep some oil in the ground to ensure their energy future.

    Thursday, February 2, 2012

    Alchemy, Witchcraft and Magic

    Our Anti-Science Congress

    Justin Bilicki cartoon

     ~ Cartoonist Justin Bilicki has won awards for his incisive work. Example.

    Our government, particularly Congress, is becoming steadily more hostile to science. As the cartoon suggests, much of the hostility not rooted in feeble-minded nincompoopery is the result of a moral blindness triggered by too much money.

    This autumn, it is time to recycle virtually the entire wretched lot.

    Wednesday, February 1, 2012

    Where's It Wednesday—LXVIII

    Where in Seattle is this?

    Somewhere in Seattle... but where?

    Well, yes, of course it's an elevator. But where can you find an elevator with this button?

    Somewhere in Seattle... but where?

    I was too chicken to press it.

    Answer next week.

    Details on the weekly Where's It Wednesday puzzle here.
    Other weeks' puzzles here.
    Answer to last week's puzzle, after the jump.