Monday, June 30, 2008

Hint: They call it the Carboniferous Period for a reason.

Harry Reid is an idiot.
"We've for generations taken it out of the earth, taken carbon out of the earth and put it into the atmosphere ..."
Where did the fossils in those fossil fuels come from Harry?

What a dumbass.

Hat Tip to James T. for this one.

Did I mention that Harry Reid is a complete moron?

Tom Barrett's Trolley

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has championed the building of a trolley line to encircle the city's downtown area. The proposed trolley is to be run on rail tracks that will need to be newly installed in the city streets at huge expense and a tremendous inconvenience to motor vehicle traffic.

This new idea to install an old mode of transportation has been studied repeatedly with our tax dollars. But a better gage of it's viability can be determined from previous market research. Real life market research.

Although there is a nostalgic feel to running mass transit on rails, the historic reality is something else. The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company (the predecessor to WE Energies) ran Milwaukee area commuter rail lines starting in 1896, expanding their service area by acquiring competing lines. But following World War I (within 25 years of the company's founding), ridership began its decline. That declining ridership continued until the last streetcar line was finally abandoned in 1958 (TM had divested their rail operation in 1952, after many years of trying to unload this money losing enterprise).

But this is more than a taxpayer funded look back in time. The romanticized nostalgia that Barrett envisions does not match the reality of trolley service. With the introduction of rubber tired rail-less streetcars (i.e., electric buses) starting in the 1930's, there was an outcry to get rid of railed trolleys.
As early as 1934, TM's managers were fielding citizens' requests to replace "the present cumbersome and noisy street cars" with trackless trolleys. As the requests piled up, the electric streetcar, long described as "the sturdy backbone of the transit system," became an endangered species , a situation with disastrous financial implications. Rail & Wire published an upper-case lament:

The public, after being carried back and forth by electric railway cars for half a century, is turning its back on the street railway car and is demanding rubber-tired transportation equipment. Owners of property along the street railway lines join the car riders in demanding this replacement by rubber-tired service, LONG BEFORE THE USEFUL LIFE OF RAILS, TROLLEYS AND RAIL CARS HAS BEEN USED UP.

- Path of a Pioneer by John Gurda
And ...
In 1948, when trackless trolley service came to North Third Street, Rail & Wire praised the demise of the "outmoded" streetcars that "caused passengers and motorists delays and annoyance." Roy Pinkley, head of the transit system since 1925 described the steel-wheeled car as an anachronism. "It has long been demonstrated," he wrote in 1952, "that street cars do not belong in modern traffic."

- Gurda
Sixty years later and the light rail crowd ignores this history.

File this under: KRM - Guilt by Association.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

KRM - Rail service is unreliable or Madison to Milwaukee in 6 hours 44 minutes

Belling and Wiggy shouldn't get all the fun. My turn to weigh in on the proposed Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee commuter train line.

This paragraph is from Belling's column.
If the transportation nightmare caused by the flood-related closing of Interstate 94 proves anything it is that car and truck transportation is a region’s economic and social lifeline. When "you can’t get there from here" becomes reality, it not only inconveniences hundreds of thousands of people, it can disrupt businesses and put communities in chaos (how would you like to live on the Highway 83 "detour" right now?).
Belling's tipsters failed him this time. He does not address one other aspect of the flood that makes train travel an even bigger loser. As demonstrated by the response to high water along I-94, car and truck travel can be inconveniently diverted to other roads so travel can be completed. Not so with rail.

The Amtrak run through Waukesha County has been shut down for three weeks due to high water undermining rail lines through Brookfield.

No way around it for rail travel. No detours, just close up shop.

Well, not quite. Those enterprising managers at Amtrak did find a way to bypass their unusable train tracks. They are putting their customers from Madison on the bus. To Chicago. So they can ride the train to Milwaukee.

The shortest duration offered for that trip: 6 hours 44 minutes.

I hadn't read about that in the KRMilwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

James Hansen: Bad Scientist or Mad Scientist?

Click image to enlarge.

To commemorate the 20th anniversary of NASA scientist James Hansen’s Congressional global warming testimony, Warren Meyer posted the above slide from Hansen. Added by Warren to the plot are the actual average global temperatures recorded since the 1988 testimony (the green data series) to show how poorly Hansen’s 1988 projections are reflected by the real temperature record.

I have also superimposed NOAA's measured atmospheric CO2 measurements from 1958 to 2007 that were posted recently by Anthony Watts (the cyan and red line).

A couple of points stand out to me.

First, at the time of Hansen’s testimony (the blue dot), his temperature data demonstrated an exceptionally strong correlation with atmospheric CO2. Based on this limited data, he had reason to be alarmed at that time. He clearly believed this, saying in his testimony.

The main point to be made here is that the expected global warming is of the same magnitude as the observed warming. Since there is only a 1 percent chance of an accidental warming of this magnitude, the agreement with the expected greenhouse effect is of considerable significance.
It should be noted that the superimposed actual CO2 plot tracks Hansen's projected 1988 to 2008 worst case plot fairly closely.

However, his projections of temperatures after 1988 show that his model broke down almost precisely when he testified. This could be due to a saturation effect for CO2 at that level or (more likely) shows Hansen got lucky (that "only a 1 percent chance of an accidental warming" did happen) with his early model applied from 1964 through 1988. There may really be nothing there, except a coincidence.

The other point was first made by Meyer.

Yes, 2008 has been far colder than 1988. We have seen no warming trend in the last 10 years, and temperatures have undershot every one of Hansen's forecasts. He thought the world would be a degree C warmer in 20 years, and it is not. Of course, today, he says the world will warm a degree in the next 20 years -- the apocalypse never goes away, it just recesses into the future.

I’ll add that there was indeed a modest amount of global warming from 1988 to 2001, with a plateau through 2006 that was about 0.2 degrees Celsius warmer than 1988. But global temperatures have since declined. Declined so much that the average global temperature is now 0.2 degrees Celsius less than 1988, not the 0.7 degrees higher that Hansen predicted. A difference of minus 9 tenths of a degree Celsius.

Hansen learned from his earlier testimony, no predictions in 2008. Just calls for prosecution of those that do not buy Dr. Hansen's groupthink.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I seriously believe that Obama, Pelosi, and Reid have entered into an energy suicide pact for America.

First, drilling our known oil reserves is forbidden.

Coal, oil and natural gas fired electricity cannot be expanded (they emit CO2, you know).

Windmills are good, except near Teddy's place or any other Blue State location.

Barack says corn based ethanol from his friends at ADM is okay, too (but not the more abundant and more efficiently produced sugar based ethanol). Of course, replacing more than 20% of U.S. petroleum with corn-eth is impossible, even in perfect growing conditions.

Today NEI Nuclear Notes reported Obama's position on new (CO2-free) nuclear construction.
"In fact, it makes about as much sense as his proposal to build 45 new nuclear reactors without a plan to store the waste some place other than right here at Yucca Mountain."
Which is his way of saying "No Nukes!" By the way, it is Mr. Obama and his party who are blocking the opening of Yucca Mountain.

Other than that, we are supposed to wait for a breakthrough in matter-antimatter technology.

*BANANA - Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything

Not a serious institution

Congressman Sensenbrenner's staff gave me and Mrs. Headless a tour of the U.S. Capitol last week.

On the tour we were able to witness debate on the floor of the House of Representatives. As best as I can figure it, the debate had the gentleman from Georgia in favor of expanding leases for oil drilling on federal lands and the gentleman from Guam (actually a woman) in favor of some law having to do with biting monkeys. I am not smart enough to really understand any of it.

After witnessing this fiasco, I conclude that the U.S. House of Representatives is no longer a serious institution. Our founding fathers would be embarrassed to see what has become of their experiment in self governance.

As luck would have it, I found the debate on YouTube. This first video is about the extent of what I witnessed from the House gallery.

This the first part of the debate that I missed.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Rufus T. Obama

I knew I had seen him somewhere before.

There was something about Obama with his faux-Presidential Seal that reminded me of a Marx Brothers movie. A bit of poking around and Duck Soup emerged as the film I recalled.

In Duck Soup, Groucho played the President of Freedonia, Rufus T. Firefly. Firefly was appointed to be President by the widow of his predecessor. Although as far as I could tell, even Firefly didn't have the audacity to steal the Presidential Seal.

There are plenty of similarities between Obama and Firefly.
  • Both are upstarts.
  • They each speak a lot, without much meaning.
  • Neither has the experience or qualifications to be president.
  • Firefly was selected, not elected, by a wealthy matron. Obama was selected, not elected, by Super-delegates.
  • I can imagine Firefly singing a long number about 'hope,' 'change,' and 'Yes, we can' during the musical that always follows the opening scene.
  • Firefly has Harpo, Chico, and Margaret Dumont; Obama has Hillary, McCain, and Michelle.
Barack Obama as Rufus T. Firefly.

A painless plan to reduce petroleum demand

In their efforts to avoid finding a short-term solution to the current tight petroleum supply situation, no politician is going after the lowest hanging fruit.

We have the Republicans focused on drilling for more oil, with a 5 to 10 year implementation window, and the Democrats wishing upon a star for a renewable energy miracle cure (not yet defined) with a 20+ year waiting period to begin meaningful production.

But there is an easy option to reduce gasoline demand by up to 5% that neither party has recognized. The solution can be implemented with immediate results, requires no new legislation and no new Federal spending. All it will take is enforcement of current speed limits on the Interstate Highway System.

For drivers in Wisconsin, the limits are already enforced to some extent. Leeway is typically given up to 10 mph over the limit, and anyone going faster is at risk of a ticket. It is not that way elsewhere.

On my recent trip through Virginia and Maryland, I estimated that I was is the slowest 10% of drivers when traveling at 5 mph over the 65 mph limit. The average traffic speed was probably somewhere above 75 mph. I saw only one motorist pulled over in those states for an apparent speeding violation. Slow all these drivers down to the speed limit nationwide and there would be a dramatic savings of fuel.

I was unable to find data on fuel economy versus speed at anything above 75 mph, so I extrapolated the following data from for higher speeds.
In general I found that fuel economy drops by about 7% for every 5 mph of increased speed over 60 mph.

I also determined that 32% of the 5 trillion miles driven annually in the U.S. are on Interstate highways. Therefore, reducing average Interstate speeds by 5 mph would reduce U.S. annual fuel consumption by 2.3%. That is about 3 billion gallons of the 150 billion gallons of gasoline used in 2006. A drop of 10 mph would mean 6 billion less gallons of imported gasoline being used.

These fuel savings estimates are obviously gross estimates. But the estimates do provide an idea of the magnitude of fuel savings that can be achieved by slowing highway traffic. This will mean reduced demand with our current supply. Hence, lower gas prices.

Reducing speeds on Interstate highways can be achieved as Wisconsin has demonstrated. But it is a matter of priorities, usually at the discretion of each state's governor to direct their state highway police to enforce the current speed limits. Congress could help lure them in that direction by providing financial incentives for better enforcement.

I call this a painless plan because it will be to me. At least until they enforce speeds closer than 5 mph over the limit.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Roadside epiphanies

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel - I never knew they could do that. It was a pretty scary feeling to see the bridge ending ahead of me, as the road just disappears into the water.

Fast Drivers - As I cruised along through Virginia and Maryland at 70 in a 65 mph speed zone, I eventually noticed that I was a bottleneck driving in the center lane. I was in the slowest decile of drivers on the Interstate. Everything from Prius to Escalade was blowing by me. Most were in the 75 to 80 mph range, but a good number were pushing 90, especially anything designed in Germany.

The End of the Rainbow - I had never seen a rainbow form in the road-spray of vehicles I was following. I thought I was imagining it at first, but Mrs. HB saw it, too. I swerved a lot to avoid the pots of gold.

The iPass Works Everywhere - It was a surprise to see the barrier arm go up in North Carolina as I prepared to hand the toll attendant cash. I checked my Illinois Tollway account and was correctly charged for paying the tolls in NC and VA.

The National Road - The first I had heard of the National Road or Pike were the signs over I-68. What a fascinating history, every bit as interesting as Route 66. I can thank Garmin for getting me off the Interstate and onto Highway 40.

Assorted thoughts after a week away from the keyboard

The U.S. House of Representatives is not a serious institution.

Groucho Marx as Barrack Obama.

The painless (to me) plan to reduce petroleum demand and gas prices.

My lost respect for Washington and Jefferson.

Roadside epiphanies.

Complete the sentence fragments.

I'll post details when I find some time.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Feed, Food, Fuel - Choose any two

My new slogan for the 2008 U.S. corn crop. Ethanol is not a luxury that this world can afford.

Friday, June 13, 2008

10,000 Maniacs

Music on my MP3 player.

Bird watching

A Great Blue Heron looking for lunch in my front yard. The photo quality suffered from using a cellphone through my windshield.

Counting my blessings - UPDATED

Put down your coffee and steady your seat. I am about to praise a government employee and the power company.

We had another big night of rain at my house, close to 5 inches by one local report. The sound of the rain beating against my house made for a poor night of sleep for me. The thought of more rainwater further overfilling the flooded stream or of my sump pump suddenly deciding to quit had me on edge. I had timed my sump pump last night and estimated that over 13,000 gallons were being pumped in a 24 hour period. I think that would cover my basement with 12 inches of water. The basement remained dry this morning although my yard is a soggy mess and the entire State of Wisconsin seems to be a flooding disaster zone. Here are two reasons why things are dry inside.

When we put in an option to buy this property in the early 1990's, we were warned that Waukesha County approval of a zoning variance was needed because the only building site on the 8 acres was within 75 feet of a flood plain. It took several months and many meetings with county officials before the review board finally voted to approve the variance. During this time, Mr. Jay Potter, a zoning administrator with Waukesha County Parks & Planning, advised us of how best to locate our home and helped us through the process.

Even after the variance was granted, Mr. Potter continued his interest. On the day they excavated our basement, there was Mr. Potter in his tall rubber boots examining the composition of the soil. At one point he stopped the excavation and said that the basement floor could be no lower than that elevation. Based on soil conditions, it was his judgment that the ground water in the area of our basement would not rise over that level. Based on the 100 or 500-year rains we received this week, I believe that Mr. Potter was correct.

I also have to hand it to WE Energies for the reliable power provided to my home. In the period since the early 1990's when WEPCO trimmed the trees around their distribution lines on my road, I have had extremely reliable power. I recall less than a handful of extended power outages at my home. Although I lust after that Honda generator, I cannot justify buying it based on excellent electrical service I receive.

P.S. I am knocking on wood. This post may create some bad mojo with the flooding gods.

If you are in need of a sump pump, the Manitowoc Fleet Farm's selection looked to be untouched this past Tuesday. A heck of a drive from SE Wisconsin, but it beats a wet basement.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Obama lies at Fight the Smears

Sorry Barack (if that's your real name ...), but the document you posted is not a birth certificate.

Try again. Or are you hiding something?

Corn is for eating

It is worse than I imagined.

Six weeks of rain have flooded untold acres of corn and soybean fields in the U.S. heartland, forcing farmers to abandon their crops and sending international food prices skyward. More bad weather is expected for Illinois, Indiana and Ohio on Thursday, forecasters say, meaning prices may could climb higher.

Corn for July delivery rose 5.75 cents to settle at $7.09 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade, after earlier rising to a new all-time high of $7.25 a bushel. It was corn's sixth straight trading record in as many days. Prices broke past the $7 barrier for the first time Wednesday.

Prices for the corn in the ground now jumped even higher. Corn for December delivery soared to a record $7.55 a bushel on the CBOT before falling back to settle at $7.395, still up 6.75 cents.


But corn's spike has raised questions as to how long demand will support the unprecedented price levels. Livestock owners will likely be forced to slaughter more cattle, hogs and chickens to cope with rocketing corn-based animal feed, and ethanol producers who use corn as their main feedstock will also suffer.

"This is a price level here where I don't see a sector that can afford it," Ward said. "The livestock sector cannot afford the corn at this price, the ethanol producer cannot afford it and the dairy producer cannot afford it."

There is a solution. Eliminate the element of demand related to the inefficient use of corn as a motor fuel. Prices will decline.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Same day, different perspectives

Senator John McCain: "... would not drill in the Grand Canyon... I believe this area (ANWR) should be kept pristine."

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison: "ANWR is not all a pristine Eden."

If Maverick ever showed up for work at his paying job, some of this may have sunk in.
When investigating America’s assortment of energy problems, a common theme starts to emerge: the more you look around, the more you’ll find government taxes, regulations, and subsidies that distort the market, raise prices, and increase our dependence on dictators thousands of miles away.

In May, I joined my Senate Republican colleagues to introduce legislation that would go a long way toward solving our energy problems. How? By increasing the supply through development of our own natural resources. Our bill, The American Energy Production Act of 2008, will remove unnecessary government barriers to domestic energy production.

The most obvious example of unnecessary federal interference is the ban on oil production in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Despite its lofty name, ANWR is not all a pristine Eden. Rather, the area that would be drilled is a frozen tundra where temperatures can reach 70 degrees below zero in the winter. As even the Washington Post admitted, ANWR “is one of the bleakest, most remote places on this continent, and there is hardly any other where drilling would have less impact on the surrounding life.” In 1995, the Republican Congress passed legislation to open ANWR — which is estimated to contain 10.4 billion barrels of oil — for energy production. But President Clinton vetoed our bill. If he had signed it, today America would be producing almost enough oil to replace all of our daily imports from Saudi Arabia. By consistently blocking ANWR production, we are failing to help America become less dependent on foreign imports for basic economic needs.

But the problem goes beyond ANWR. Current federal law prevents oil and gas production in the deepwaters off the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts. These laws, which were first passed in 1981 when the price of oil was $35 per barrel, were a luxury at the time, but today, given America’s growing energy needs, they are indefensible. The fact is, these areas, along with another energy-rich section of the Gulf of Mexico, could contain as much as 115 billion barrels of oil — which is greater than Venezuela’s current reserves — and 565 trillion cubic feet of natural gas — which is greater than the combined reserves of Iraq, China, Yemen, Oman, Nigeria, and Venezuela. Federal laws also prevent us from exploiting one trillion barrels of shale oil in Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah — an amazing amount that is three times what Saudi Arabia has on reserve. Our bill, the American Energy Production Act of 2008, would allow us to tap these resources with environmental safeguards.

As conservatives, we must unite to repeal one of the most misguided policies of the last decade — government mandates to increase the production of corn-based ethanol. These policies — which give incentives to farmers to divert their plantings from other crops to corn in order to produce ethanol — have been robbing the world of one of its most important sources of food.
Read the entire column by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison at NRO.

4-Block this

Pristine natural wonder

Pristine mosquito-infested bog


I was going to research the number of visitors to GCNP and ANWR, but one of Rich Lowry's readers beat me to it.
Drilling in ANWR would be like drilling in the Grand Canyon? The Grand Canyon averages five million visitors a year. The highest number of visitors to the whole of ANWR was in 1990 and it was 886! (from 2003 Report to Congress, Interior Dept). Just who's gonna be deprived of this miniscule bit of pristineness that Maverick wants to preserve?
Come on McCain, give me one reason to vote for you. Other than, "I'm not Obama."

Monday, June 09, 2008

I hope he can change that

What they'll say is, "Well it costs too much money," but you know what?

It would cost, about... It -- it -- it would cost about the same as what we would spend... It... Over the course of 10 years it would cost what it would costs us... It -- it (nervous laugh)

All right. Okay. We're going to...

It... It would cost us about the same as it would cost for about -- hold on one second. I can't hear myself. But I'm glad you're fired up, though. I'm glad... (nervous laugh).

I have a dream that presidential candidates will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character and minds.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

High water Sunday

Spring Creek has crested. Those grasses in the lower left mark the normal bank, and all the areas submerged to the right of that are normally dry. The mosquitoes will be thick this week.

Almost half-pipe on each of the culverts.

A panoramic view from atop my mound.

I had to MacGyver the discharge from my sump. The normal discharge is plugged somewhere and was causing water to spray into the basement. My local Menard's was selling out of everything sump and drainage related this morning.

Father's Day 2008

Cook this for Dad. It is as good now, as it was a year ago.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Get real.

TOKYO - The world needs to invest $45 trillion in energy in coming decades, build some 1,400 nuclear power plants and vastly expand wind power in order to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, according to an energy study released Friday.

The report by the Paris-based International Energy Agency envisions a "energy revolution" that would greatly reduce the world's dependence on fossil fuels while maintaining steady economic growth.
I've got news for the Paris-based IEA: It ain't gonna happen.

I work in the world of commercial nuclear power and will for the rest of my life (Retirement, what's that?).

It sucks. Nothing is easy, even the stuff that should be.

Finding and training qualified people to staff the World's current 443 plants is a struggle. Most of the experienced people are looking for a way to get out (just give us government Universal Healthcare and 10% will leave immediately). There is no way to safely build and run 1,843 reactors. Corners will have to be cut and qualifications relaxed.

I'd rather take my chances with global warming than the risk of almost 2,000 ticking-Chernobyl's all over the planet.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Thursday, June 05, 2008


View Larger Map

Now I get it. From this satellite view, it becomes apparent that Rezko didn't buy an adjoining lot to Obama. He just paid for part of the land that is really Obama's yard. Look at the hedge, it is continuous across both properties.

That is Obama's house in the center of the frame, and Rezko's "lot" just below it. A "lot" too small to build on. So it will always be Obama's private park-like buffer to Hyde Park Boulevard.

Avoiding Groupthink

Avoiding Groupthink

1. The group should be made aware of the causes and consequences of group think.

2. The leader should be neutral when assigning a policy-making task to a group, initially withholding all preferences and expectations. This practice will be especially effective if the leaders consistently encourages an atmosphere of open inquiry.

3. The leader should give high priority to airing objections and doubts, and be accepting of criticism.

4. Groups should always consider unpopular alternatives, assigning the role of devil's advocate to several strong members of the group.

5. Sometimes it is useful to divide the group into two separate deliberative bodies as feasibilities are evaluated.

6. Spend a sizable amount of time considering all warning signals from rival group and organizations.

7. After reaching a preliminary consensus on a decision, all residual doubts should be expressed and the matter reconsidered.

8. Outside experts should be included in vital decision making.

9. Tentative decisions should be discussed with trusted colleagues not in the decision-making group.

10. The organization should routinely follow the administrative practice of establishing several independent decision-making groups to work on the same critical issue or policy.

Wrong question, wrong answer

Why Did Obama Pay Rezko an Extra $64,000 For That Strip of Land?

But will he return the land that he bought from Rezko?

I can hear it now. "But Jim, this isn't a donation from Rezko to Obama," because the senator bought the land for a lot more than it was worth — "an appraiser valued the slice of land Rezko sold at $40,500, Obama decided it would be fair to pay Rezko substantially more: one sixth of his original purchase price, or $104,000."

Precisely. Rezko "widely known to be under federal investigation at the time." Paying substantially more than the land was appraised creates the appearance of a $64,000 payment to a person who, if found guilty, could discuss his longtime association and business dealings with a U.S. senator with federal law enforcement.
The above query was posted today at The Campaign Spot. I look at it the other way.

Why did Rezko overpay $382,000 for a sixth-acre lot he did not intend to build on or hold as an investment? And why did Rezko agree to sell off 1250 square feet of the lot to Obama, which essentially made the lot worthless. The resulting seventh-acre corner lot is dimensioned such that no home can be built on it.

Who is paying the mortgage on the Rezko property? Why hasn't it fallen into foreclosure now that Mr. Rezko is not working?

We've got the quid, does Mr. Fitzgerald have the pro quo?

UPDATE: Go to Google Maps and check out the street view for 5046 S. Greenwood Ave., Kenwood , Illinois. Geezoman!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A safety net from ethanol

It is more than just my personal observations of a late and cold Spring. We now have scientific verification that worldwide, weather has been cold in 2008.

I am not noting this weather news to deride the global warming groupthinkers. I am writing this as a warning of a possible human catastrophe and a call for Congressional action to lesson its consequences. Even this early in the growing season, grain forecasts can be reliably accurate. We may be facing a year of abnormally small corn harvests.

The United States needs to create a safety net from corn-based ethanol. This safety net will identify a minimum amount of corn needed for human consumption and agriculture needs. This amount of corn must be set aside, and sold only for food and agriculture. A Congressional mandate is needed that only quantities of corn grown above these levels can be used for ethanol production.

This proposal should not be controversial, even to the ethanol proponents and hucksters. What is at stake is the availability of food in the U.S. and starvation
worldwide. This is much more important than the excessive profits for the crappy motor fuels produced by Big Eth.

A case for Hillary

Barack: To the victor, belongs the spoils.
Hillary: Why don't you get the (heck) out of here, before I shove your quotation book up your ...
With Obama declaring himself victorious based on his a lead of 1762 to 1637 over Hillary in Pledged Delegates, I wondered if there is better way to assign Superdelegates.

I purposefully did not include Obama's 'pledged' SD's in the above count. SD's were created as a safety net for the DNC to stop the nomination of a sure loser as their candidate. They have gotten away from that in the 2008 election and have now essentially become pre-election endorsements.

I understand the Democrats desire to proportionally assign pledged delegates based on the primary election results within each state. But their process should also consider the Electoral College which is how the general election for President (the ultimate goal for their party) is decided. My process would have the Superdelegates assigned to the candidates on a winner-take-all basis based on each state's primary election results (or caucus results for states without primaries).

I did the math, assigning "electors" for each state (e.g., HRC gets 55 for California, BHO receives 21 for Illinois), then proportionally multiplying (by 823.5/538) to get to the total number of Superdelegates of 823.5. This resulted in 355 SD's being assigned to Barack and 468 to Hillary. These results mimick one case Clinton supporters have made for her remaining in the race.

This left me with an interesting result. Using my system, Clinton would be at 2105 total delegates (pledged plus super), which is only 12 behind Obama. Obama would have 2117 total delegates, one short of the 2118 needed to win the Democratic nomination on the first ballot.

Sorry Hillary. Too little, too late.

Monday, June 02, 2008

A Real Life Example of Groupthink

I previously presented the Eight Main Symptoms of Groupthink. Here I note some real life examples of those symptoms to show how groupthink can affect public policy.

1. Illusion of Invulnerability: Members ignore obvious deficiencies (their climate models don’t work), take extreme positions (a 20 foot rise in sea level), and are overly confident in their position (the IPCC’s steadfast position in the face of a cooling planet).

2. Collective Rationalization: Members discredit and explain away any positions contrary to group thinking (only deniers and flat-earthers (and now daughter rapists) disagree with them).

3. Illusion of Morality: Members believe their decisions are morally correct, ignoring the ethical consequences of their decisions (the solution is worse than the problem: Cap & Trade will kill global economy with the poor hit hardest; ethanol = starvation; and other much worse consequences of these tunnel vision solutions to follow).

4. Excessive Stereotyping: The group constructs negative stereotypes of rivals outside the group (GW deniers are the house n-words of Big Oil).

5. Pressure for Conformity: Members pressure any in the group who express arguments against the group's stereotypes, illusions, or commitments, viewing such opposition as disloyalty (conflicting voices are not invited to climate change conferences and cannot get their research funded or published).

6. Self-Censorship: Members withhold their dissenting views and counter-arguments (the Medieval warm period was washed from the “hockey-stick” data set).

7. Illusion of Unanimity: Members perceive falsely that everyone agrees with the group's decision; silence is seen as consent (Al Gore says the scientific consensus is unanimous, never mind those 31,000 deniers).

8. Mindguards: Some members appoint themselves to the role of protecting the group from adverse information that might threaten group complacency (Al Gore defines this characteristic).

There is a reason for my hang-up with groupthink. It has been repeatedly stressed to me in my work-life that groupthink is to be avoided. It is a challenge in the nuclear industry to avoid mental traps, such as groupthink, in decision making. This is stressed in training, as well as addressed by regulation.

10 CFR Part 50.59 provides the regulatory framework for addressing changes to commercial nuclear plants. The following questions must be addressed in evaluating engineering changes to a nuke plant.

(i) Result in more than a minimal increase in the frequency of occurrence of an accident previously evaluated in the final safety analysis report (as updated);

(ii) Result in more than a minimal increase in the likelihood of occurrence of a malfunction of a structure, system, or component (SSC) important to safety previously evaluated in the final safety analysis report (as updated);

(iii) Result in more than a minimal increase in the consequences of an accident previously evaluated in the final safety analysis report (as updated);

(iv) Result in more than a minimal increase in the consequences of a malfunction of an SSC important to safety previously evaluated in the final safety analysis report (as updated);

(v) Create a possibility for an accident of a different type than any previously evaluated in the final safety analysis report (as updated);

(vi) Create a possibility for a malfunction of an SSC important to safety with a different result than any previously evaluated in the final safety analysis report (as updated);

(vii) Result in a design basis limit for a fission product barrier as described in the FSAR (as updated) being exceeded or altered; or

(viii) Result in a departure from a method of evaluation described in the FSAR (as updated) used in establishing the design bases or in the safety analyses.

Nothing approaching this level of rigor is applied to the knee-jerk solutions to a climate change problem which may not exist, or may be an environmental benefit under some criteria. Global Warming/Climate Change Groupthink has made it unnecessary to perform any rigorous analytical thinking before decisions are made.

One other thing. If you get locked into groupthink in the nuclear power business, you may just find your name listed here some day. On the other hand, Global Warming Groupthinkers may get listed with other Nobel Peace Prize winners.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Pimp your bumper

Power & Control is selling these good looking No Drilling bumper stickers. This is a fine addition to put next to your Embrace the Warmth sticker.