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Echoes and Mirrors » oil

Archive for the ‘oil’ Category

In Which I End Up Sounding Like a Conspiracy Theorist

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

I’m not big on conspiracy theories. Some are more entertaining than others, sure. And some are right in pointing out that something isn’t right in re whatever it is they’re theorizing conspiracies about. And I have one of my own.

I’m really concerned that I haven’t heard much really about this:

Artificial Leaf Could Be More Efficient Than the Real Thing
Speaking at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in California, MIT professor Daniel Nocera claims to have created an artificial leaf made from stable and inexpensive materials that mimics nature’s photosynthesis process.

The device is an advanced solar cell, no bigger than a typical playing card, which is left floating in a pool of water. Then, much like a natural leaf, it uses sunlight to split the water into its two core components, oxygen and hydrogen, which are stored in a fuel cell to be used when producing electricity.

Nocera’s leaf is stable — operating continuously for at least 45 hours without a drop in activity in preliminary tests — and made of widely available, inexpensive materials — like silicon, electronics and chemical catalysts. It’s also powerful, as much as 10 times more efficient at carrying out photosynthesis than a natural leaf.

With a single gallon of water, Nocera says, the chip could produce enough electricity to power a house in a developing country for an entire day. Provide every house on the planet with an artificial leaf and we could satisfy our 14-terrawatt need with just one gallon of water a day.

And it’s ready for production use. A gallon of water per day (probably more like 3-4 for American households, but really, that’s still not very much). In fact, they’re going to make them. And sell them in third-world countries that lack centralized power grids.

Couple it with a little wind turbine and a solar panel, and you’ll never pay for electricity again.

But we will never see this in America. Except as a niche market sold to eco-warriors and survivalists. (Not that anyone seems to have much of a problem with either group, but most of those who claim association are readily identified in some way as a nut.) Now here’s my crazy bit: it’s okay to lower your power use, but it’s impossible to cut yourself off from the power grid. I think it’s even illegal in most places (I could be wrong about that, but it seems like something a housing code would include for making a house livable).

And it’s not about electricity. It’s not about people being lazy. It’s not about economics. Or the environment.

It’s about power. Not the electrical kind. But big-industry, centralized power. As long as there is a very small number of places generating everyone’s electricity, they have America by the nutsack.

Oh, and according to the Japanese, Nuclear Power plants can get really dangerous sometimes. We have a pretty good track-record here in the US, sure. I guess that will last forever. We will never have a problem like that, right?

So it’s like this: they have figured out a way to dispose of a multi-billion dollar industry that, when faced with a natural disaster or a drunk engineer or a crack in some concrete, could irradiate huge sections of the planet. And that industry will instead continue building nuclear reactors really close to me.

And it’s not just in electricity or utilities industries – the federal government has been continually centralizing law enforcement and other things for decades. Everyone wants to do away with distributed computing that doesn’t have a centralized host (this new Cloud Computing thing is the solution to decentralized internet gibberish). There is a war against anarchism. They powers that be are insisting that for everything, somebody has to be in charge. And to that I say, no. No there doesn’t. Fuck off.

You wanted to see my crazy: there it is. I think that corporatism is going to destroy what’s left of humanity with e-books and fucking cloud computing. We’ll all be hooked up to the same power, internet, and ‘distributed’ systems. All traffic will be monitored or be pay-per-view/use and being outside of its grasp will make you an outsider in the truest sense. It’s going to taxonomize and categorize everything until we can’t fucking breath. And we’re going to shell out cash to the big centralized machines that give us our little happiness. And don’t forget to update your fucking facebook status either, to let the marketing drones watching that you’re upset or happy.

Yes, I’m on the power grid. That doesn’t make me hypocritical. If I shunned the power grid I wouldn’t be able to do anything. There is a line between being ideological and being stupid. We can still choose quite a bit right now. And we can still be anonymous (I don’t mean Anonymous, but you can be that too, if you like) for the moment. And when that changes, I’ll be in Peru, with a leaf-powered home, drinking Ayahuasca and laughing at everyone. I hope.

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Dear Peasants: Fuck Off

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

BP chair: Sorry for ‘small people’ remark on Gulf – Yahoo! News.

VENICE, La. – BP’s chairman has apologized for saying the company cares about the “small people” of the Gulf Coast hit by the oil disaster — a comment met with anger by those who say they are tired of the company’s executives making insensitive remarks.

On Wednesday, Carl-Henric Svanberg told reporters in Washington: “I hear comments sometimes that large oil companies are greedy companies or don‘t care, but that is not the case with BP. We care about the small people.” He later said he was sorry for speaking “clumsily.”

One of the distinctions Americans are unwilling to make is that of class. Equality knows no class boundaries. Well, not openly, anyway. Everyone knows that poor people don’t beat felony charges, while the rich can. That rich ugly people still get to fuck whomever they like and don’t have to deal with depression or stress. Rich folks have more elegant drug addictions and can bounce back and forth from recovery centers with glee.

So, peasants, just go back about your business of worrying about food on the table, watching reality television (but not making reality television), having sex with other poor, ugly people and doing your low-class drugs like meth.

However, he probably meant “little guy” as in “looking out for the little guy.” Which would have not been a faux pas, and would have endeared him to said peasants. Either way, I think theres a whole bunch of people out there that just need to man up.

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Station!

Monday, June 15th, 2009

There is nothing to worry about, folks. I’m not worried because I’m a left-leaning libertarian veteran.

Transparency.

Just wait for it. Waiiit. (TNR, warning, etc.)

[…] it may sound inevitable in retrospect, big breakthroughs like that don’t come along too often. Nowadays, though, Chu is betting that they will– and must. As the U.S. energy secretary, Chu has been tasked with reshaping the country’s trillion-dollar energy economy, to reduce America’s reliance on fossil fuels and cut greenhouse-gas emissions 80 percent or more by mid-century- -essential to avoiding catastrophic climate change. It’s an enormous goal, and Chu believes the only way to achieve it is with multiple Nobel-caliber leaps in energy technology. “I mean technology that is game-changing, as opposed to merely incremental,” he told Congress in March–technology that, as a recent Department of Energy (DOE) task force described it, will require an understanding of basic physics and chemistry “beyond our present reach.”

The Evolution of Domestic House Cats. They are ridiculous creatures, but I am quite fond of them.

A review of the new Anti-Flag. I’ll drop my own thoughts on it later.

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Avast! Today I be pillaging booty!

Friday, September 19th, 2008

I find myself wanting September to be over with. The realization that October will simply be more of the same, with costumes, makes me wonder why. I’m sort of just happy I made it through the week without losing my fucking mind. There is something about this time of year that puts me on edge. The weather is wonderful, though.

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Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

McCain, Obama and Clean Coal:

After you’ve watched federal policymaking for a number of years, you realize that the actual effectiveness of federal programs has absolutely no bearing on their survival or level of funding. That’s because the purpose of federal programs is not to solve problems, but to provide a menu of levers that politicians can pull to appeal to certain types of voters.

We see this at play in the 2008 election with “clean coal,” which has attracted the attention of both candidates. Obama wants to “significantly increase the resources devoted to the commercialization and deployment of low-carbon coal technologies.” Meanwhile, McCain has pledged to spend $2 billion a year on clean coal technology if elected.

Pretty obvious, but the full article is worth the read.

The Successful Politics of the Past:

A Barack Obama victory in November will not be a historical event.

The press will try to hype it as such, but that will be another Fourth Estate illusion. If Obama defeats John McCain, it won’t be a “world-changing moment”, but it will be another example of backlash politics—something that has been a part of the United States for decades.

Oh, but I’m afraid it will be, and for more reasons than ethnicity.

And Cops are Still Dicks:

Earlier this year, police in Tallahassee, Florida, raided the home of college student Rachel Hoffman. Her friends say Hoffman was a bit of a hippie-ish free spirit, and they concede that she shared and sold small amounts of marijuana and ecstasy within her social circle. Hoffman was at the time undergoing compulsory drug treatment after another run-in with the police, in which they found 20+ grams of marijuana in her car during a traffic stop. The raid turned up another five ounces of marijuana, six ecstasy pills, and assorted pot-related paraphernalia.

The cops threatened Hoffman with prison time, then agreed to let her off easy if she’d become a police informant and set up a deal with her supplier. They never informed Hoffman’s attorney or the state prosecutor of the arrangement. They wired Hoffman and asked her to arrange to purchase 1,500 ecstasy pills, cocaine, and a gun, a deal that would have run well over $10,000. Hoffman’s friends and family report that all three purchases would also be drastically out of character for her—which means the dealers she was buying from were almost surely on to her.

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No wonder our fresh-faced college graduates back-packing across Europe have Canadian flags pinned to their gear

Monday, August 4th, 2008

From TMV:

No sooner do I write a column defending Barack Obama from an unjust and, frankly, nonsensical attack, than I see him getting ready to slit his own parachute lines on energy again.

Obama: Tap nation’s oil reserve to help gas prices

LANSING, Mich. – In a reversal, Barack Obama proposed Monday that the government sell 70 million barrels of oil from its strategic petroleum stockpile to help reduce gasoline prices.

The Democratic presidential candidate said in a major energy speech that in the short-run the move could help drive down gasoline prices that now top $4 a gallon.

Do I really need to explain this? Where did you pull this one from? Straight out of Nancy Pelosi’s office? (The House leader who is nearly ready to drown in an oil slick of her own making, as I read the cards.) The strategic oil reserve is there in case of an actual Oh-My-God, yes The Sky Is Really Falling emergency, such as a full embargo from the mideast and Venezuala at the same time, or a military strike on all of our refineries just after a hurricane hits our platforms. In short.. when there IS NO OIL.

Considering that there is no physical shortage of oil, the only way we would run out is if we pissed in their cheerios again.

But the price of oil is dropping, and the price at the pump is below $4 now. It kind of hurts to actually be happy about it, though.

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screw gas prices, we can’t lose the dick-measuring contest!

Saturday, July 12th, 2008

Or something like that.

GM desperately needs an obnoxious, attention-grabbing brand to keep from turning into a dreary shadow of its former self. And America needs the Hummer to remind us of what has always made our automobiles stand out, from the tailfin 1950s to the muscle car 1960s and ’70s: swagger. Americans don’t just drive their cars — they proclaim something about themselves by driving them.

It takes a certain kind of man — it’s almost always the owner of a Y chromosome — to take a gander at the Hummer, in all its broad, burly, paramilitary gas-guzzling glory, and see himself behind the wheel, striking fear and loathing in the hearts of ecologically sensitive motorists. Oprah does not drive a Hummer. But Arnold Schwarzenegger has been a proud owner. As has Sylvester Stallone. The Hummer appeals to large men of even larger ego, men who aren’t worried about their carbon footprint and believe that obstacles in life are meant not just to be surmounted but squashed flat. They like owning the beast because, when it bears down on lesser rides on the freeway, those lesser rides — even the Teutonic triple threat of Porsche/BMW/Mercedes — get out of the way. Every once in while, you see a little guy clambering out of a Hummer, painfully in need of a ladder, and you realize that it can also be viewed as a $57,000 ticket to enlarged self-esteem.

I personally don’t get out of the way for Hummers; it is either stupidity or the knowledge that if they do hit me, they can afford to pay for it (otherwise they wouldn’t be driving such a vehicle, obviously!).

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Dune or Dosadi?

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

My suspicions confirmed:

A May study that examined housing values in five cities found prices had fared worse in more-distant neighborhoods. “The collapse of America’s housing bubble — and its reverberations in financial markets — has obscured a tectonic shift in housing demand,” wrote economist Joe Cortright in the study, sponsored by CEOs for Cities, a nonprofit group that promotes cities. “Housing in cities and neighborhoods that require lengthy commutes and provide few transportation alternatives to the private vehicle are falling in value more precipitously than in more central, compact and accessible places.”

I drunkenly theorized that the rising gas prices were a far more complex tactic in a global game of chess than to simply strain the pocketbooks of the lower economic strata. There is a word for this: herding.

I’m a big fan of the behavioral changes that are occurring, but at the same time, it’s through manipulation, not choice. If you give people the choice of saving energy, live in denser population areas, eat better and use alternative forms of transportation (and be more receptive to mass transit) they will, by and far, choose against it. Especially when most people can afford to. The solution is to strain them financially.

The cost of energy and food are rising, in turn driving down demand of luxury items. There may even be a cultural shift away from the American Dream: material wealth, a house, a television in every room, two and half kids and a Cadillac in every driveway. Perhaps the family unit, the oldest staple of humanity, will regain it’s strength? Could a swift, dramatic shift in behavior even be a boon for religion, as well?

Tragedy, war and strife have always been the most pointed instigators of innovation. Unfortunately, the scale of war does not breed much innovation these days, most tragedies are natural disasters and strife is caused by cruelty and diseases that do not spread fast enough or cause enough damage. The means of choking the people must be synthesized.

Frank Herbert was a fucking oracle. I’m having a difficult time deciding whether to reference Dune or Dosadi.

Double points if you can identify the god-wall.

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and one more thing

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

I forgot to post this before:

The problem is not that supply and demand is such a complex explanation. The problem is that supply and demand is not an emotionally satisfying explanation. For that, you need melodrama, heroes and villains.

Too true. Everyone wants to blame a bad guy for their problems, not some boring, reasonable, explanation. If the problem were some evil corporation or something, it would be much easier to fix.

I have been telling people IRL (yeah, I said it) that the most effective, short-term, fix for the gas prices would be to sell off a portion of our national reserves (and stop putting more into them for a period of time). If supply goes up, the price goes down. Demand is relatively inelastic. It would relieve a good portion of the stress on the consumer (me, specifically).

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more on oil

Friday, April 25th, 2008

LOL. Pelosi doesn’t get it. Well, I think when I was on my way home this morning I caught the prices being anywhere from $3.47 to $3.55, but GA tends to have relatively lower prices than the rest of the nation. FYI, the comments that follow on Michelle’s blog are always worth a chuckle or two. Conservative chuckleheads.

But still, it shows us how out of touch the government really is. If gas prices really were averaging $2.56, I still wouldn’t be happy, but I wouldn’t be quite as pissed off.

Oh, but they’re going to do something about it.

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