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SeaViews: Insights from the Gray Havens 
May 2002

(formerly the _Rochester Rag_, formerly the _News from Detroit_)

Motto: The surest way to get a reputation for being a trouble maker these days is to go about repeating the very phrases that the Founders used in the struggle for independence.

-- C.A. Beard


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On last month's Fix;

the answer to last month's Fix,
"What should the US energy policy be?"

Well, one should not have to even ask this question. In an alledged free market, a strategic thing like energy should be available in sufficient quantities and at market prices. And, one would think that the current president would support this - and he did - in Alaska. But now, the President is reversing himself to help his brother's bid for reelection as Govnr of Florida. "What's that," you ask? Yes, Jeb Bush and brother GW claim that Florida is too sensitive environmentally for more oil exploration - yet its OK in Alaska. Clearly, GW is spending much too much time selling out his beliefs and listening to his poll taking advisors.

It makes both economic and environmental sense to conserve as much as possible. But, as long as the world population increases and the laws of thermodynamics hold, conservation is not enough. We need to get the govt. out of subsidizing energy and promote market solutions where all true costs come into play. The home I just left had untold geothermal and tidal power potential that was untapped. American farmers can grow fuel in the form of ethanol producing crops. And there are nuclear designs that are inherently safe (ie pebble beds). The answers are known. The will is lacking.

And - even though we could today tell OPEC to #$^% itself and have Russia supply our former OPEC oil - it is unforgivable to rely on other nations for strategic needs.

On the Move;

May 10 was my last day as a faculty member for the Univ of Washington. On the following Tuesday my father trained back out to Seattle to join me once again for a x-country drive, this time back to MN (long time readers will recall that in 1996 he went out with me to Wash.) You may be wondering what about Sheryl? Well, she and the dog are still in our Kingston WA home, trying to sell it so she can join me - oddly enough - in her home town.

I write this sitting in my sister-in-law's house in Rochester MN - my home until we can sell the old house and make a home for ourselves here again. Next week, June 3, I start my career over again, this time as a Mayo Clinic staff doctor. Hopefully, this is the last time.

As often happens, when one finally realizes one's heart's desire, one finds reasons to miss what will be left behind. Sheryl did a beutiful job on our home - sadly, work that we got to enjoy for about 2 months. And I was finally made Assoc Prof which is roughly the equivalent of tenure for UWash, and was in a research group that was doing some cool US therapy work for NASA.

We leave behind about 4 good friends, clean air and majestic mountains to return to our families, friends and an insitution that knows me well - but will still put me on a 3 year evaluation cycle before tenure.

Well, here goes ...

Guest Editorial:

[Ed note: There are some errors in this piece. The Grand Tetons are in Wyoming. And OPEC does not have an oil monopoly. Venuzuela and Russia could easily take the place of OPEC oil - and should. ]


I was recently thinking of the "environmental movement" in the context of following the
money and came to some interesting conclusions. Let's start off with the anti-oil crowd.
Since the early 1970's they have been attempting to block exploration for new sources of oil. They protested drilling on
the North Slope of AK fiercely, but after having just gotten a taste of OPEC's formation, and having shortages of fuel;
even Congress failed to bow to their will. Since then they have had much more success. For decades they have blocked
further drilling in the same area, now known as ANWAR. Who benefits from their success? Do the caribou? Nope, they
like drilling; more specifically they like pipelines. It gives them an area thousands of miles long that has a longer growing
season for the moss and such that they live on. Do the polar bears and wolves benefit from less drilling? Nope; the
northern predators enjoy the larger supply of prey animals; i.e. caribou. Do consumers benefit? Hardly; our prices are
artificially inflated due to an artificially low supply. Do the "evil" oil companies benefit from restricted supply and higher
prices? Nope; at true market prices, which would be lower, the oil companies could get away with slightly higher
mark-ups, thus getting more return on their investments. The North Slope natives don't benefit either; those who have oil
field jobs live well, those that do not live poorly. There are not many jobs up there and oil jobs pay well, others; if they
can be found pay little. Given the prices of things up there (due to shipping costs) a $20/hr job is barely cost-effective.

So, it would seem no one benefits from the eco-whacko's prevention of drilling for domestic oil. But wait, where is most
of our oil coming from now? Who indeed; OPEC! By preventing new drilling for our own oil we have given OPEC a
virtual monopoly. We are forced to buy their oil at whatever price they decide to charge! I would not be surprised to find
that many of the "environmental" groups get sizable contributions from Saudi Arabia. The Saudi's couldn't have found a
better group to fund if they want to increase their profits. Nor could they have found a more compatible ally.

Interestingly enough, these same nations who have gotten a virtual monopoly, thanks to the eco-whacko, help fund Al
Quida. A case could be made that these "environmental" groups had a large role in funding 9-11 due to their insistence
that we buy most of our oil from nations which helped to fund Al Quida.

It is not just oil that the eco-whackos tie our hands on; one of the things they forced through the EPA was emission
standards for coal fired power plants. One of the results of this was to cause many of these plants to have to use more
expensive and harder to find low sulfur coal. The second largest supply of this type of coal is in Indonesia, owned by the
Riady family. You remember the Riady's, don't you? This was the family who (illegally) funded Clinton for most of his
career. For years this family had almost a monopoly on low sulfur coal, and the eco-whacko forced us to buy it. Then the
largest known supply of this clean burning coal was discovered in UT, in the Grand Tetons. Before it could be mined,
thus destroying the monopoly of the Riady's, President Clinton declared the area a National Monument. This will ensure
that we pay higher prices for Indonesian coal, and electricity from coal plants for decades to come.

For all the talk from these people of "clean energy sources", they fight any attempt that comes along. Recently a wind
farm was proposed off the coast of Boston. Are the oil companies fighting this? Nope. Who is sponsoring legislation to
kill the plan for this clean power? Sen. Kennedy! What is the excuse? Well, maybe a bird will be stupid enough to fly into
the blades. We have some wind mills just northwest of Milwaukee, and I drove past them the other day. Even with pretty
strong winds, those blades were turning slowly. A bird would have to be pretty stupid to fly into them. I could make a
case that these wind farms would help the bird populations by eliminating the most stupid of them before they can breed.
Any bird stupid enough to fly into a wind mill will have the sort of offspring that will attempt to fly directly into your house
via your closed window (I have seen this happen; generally it freaks out the cats and often kills the bird). Should we ban
windows because of the stupidest of the birds? Even "solar farms" in the desert get protested. What is the excuse? It
might upset the "delicate" balance of the desert! There is nothing delicate about the desert; the plants and animals there
are some of the toughest in the world. Hydro-electric? Forget it; they will find some fish or minnow or clam that they think
wouldn't like it.

The one "clean" idea they don't protest is electric cars. Yet, this is far from a "clean" idea. The electricity has to be
generated, by burning something, then it has to be distributed, then stored in batteries, then converted to motion. At every
step of the way some energy is lost, thus requiring even more fuel to be burned to produce a single revolution of the
wheels. Now add the extra weight of the power source and batteries. I'd guess that to drive my pick-up after converting
it to electric would use 30% more fuel.

However, this points out the lie that the eco-whacko live. They don't want clean power; they want all our power to come
from other nations (if we are allowed to have any power sources at all), putting us at risk of embargos and shortages.
This drives up the price of all goods and services. I really wonder where their funding comes from. We now know who
benefits from their antics.



1. Sheryl forwards this bit:

Imagine it is the year 2002  and Noah lives in the United States.  The Lord
speaks to Noah and  says: "In one year I am going to make it rain and cover
whole  earth with water until all is destroyed.  But I want you to save the
righteous people and two of every kind of living
thing on the earth. Therefore, I am commanding you to build an Ark."

In a flash of lightning, God delivered the specifications for an  Ark.
Fearful and trembling, Noah took the plans and agreed to build the Ark.

"Remember," said the Lord, "You must complete  the Ark and bring everything
aboard in one year."

Exactly one year later, a fierce storm cloud covered the earth and  all the
seas of the earth went into a tumult.

The Lord saw Noah sitting in his front yard weeping.  "Noah." He shouted,
"Where is the Ark?"

"Lord please forgive me!" cried Noah.  "I did my best but there were big
problems.  First, I had to get a permit for  construction and your plans did
comply with the codes.  I had  to hire an engineering firm and redraw the
Then I got into a fight with OSHA over whether or not the Ark needed fire
sprinkler system and floatation devices.

Then my neighbor objected, claiming I was violating zoning ordinances by
building the Ark in my front yard, so I had to get a variance from  the city
planning commission.

I had problems  getting enough wood for the Ark, because there was a ban on
cutting  trees to protect the Spotted Owl.  I finally convinced the U.S.
Service that I needed the wood to save the owls. However, the Fish and
Service won't let me catch any owls.
So, no owls.

The carpenters formed a union and  went out on strike.  I had to negotiate a
settlement with the  National Labor Union.  Now I have 16 carpenters on the
but  still no owls.

When I started rounding up the other animals, I got sued by an animal rights
group.  They objected to  me only taking two of each kind aboard.

Just when I got  the suit dismissed, the EPA notified me that I could not
complete the Ark without filing an environmental impact statement on your
proposed  flood.  They didn't take very kindly to the idea that they had no
jurisdiction over the conduct of the Creator of the universe.

Then the Army Corps of Engineers demanded a map of the proposed new flood
plain.  I sent them a globe.

Right  now, I am trying to resolve a complaint filed with the Equal
Opportunity Commission that I am practicing discrimination by not taking
godless, unbelieving people aboard!

The IRS has seized all my assets, claiming that I'm building the Ark in
preparation to flee the country to avoid paying taxes.

I just got a notice from the State that I owe  some kind of user tax and
to register the Ark as a recreational water craft."

Finally the ACLU got the courts to issue  an injunction against further
construction of the Ark, saying that  since God is flooding the earth, it is
religious event and therefore  unconstitutional.

I really don't think I can finish the  Ark for another 5 or 6 years," Noah

The sky began to clear, the sun began to shine and the seas began to calm. A
rainbow arched across the sky.  Noah looked up hopefully. "You mean you are
not going to destroy the earth, Lord?"

"No," said the Lord sadly.  "The government already  has."

2. And David offer this;
 Subject:         RE: lastcall
   Date:         Wed, 29 May 2002 09:44:33 -0500
   From:         "Gay, David" <>
     To:         "'Steve Langer'" <>


"What should the US energy policy be?"

In one word "Independence!" What are the other goals? To be cheap? To be
environmentally friendly? Or to eliminate energy consumption altogether?

My naive energy policy would be: use natural resources as efficiently as
possible. This would have the effect of both conservation and minimizing
pollution. For example, minimize the use of natural gas to generate
electricity. Natural gas is more efficiently used to heat cleanly (CO2 +
H2O) at the point of use. While emissions from coal, rubbish and oil burning
generators can be cleaned with scrubbers, it is impractical to clean the
emissions from fireplaces. Power generation should be clean and inexpensive
to minimize use of dirty alternatives (such as wood burning fireplaces).
Alternatives such as wind power and solar, etc., should be encouraged, but
never subsidized. The use of ethanol in motor fuel should be banned until it
can be produced with less fuel than it generates. It currently takes 1.6
gallons of petroleum to produce 1 gallon of ethanol. The ADM (Archers Daniel
Midland) subsidy called biodiesel should be banned as well at least until
most engines are built to burn it efficiently.

Currently the ethanol used in our gasoline is from cheap European wine
instead of fermented from US produced grain. The farmers support using
ethanol in gasoline, but assumed that it would consume US produced grain not
European grapes! Isn't it nice when the government comes to the aid of large
corporations by creating laws and mandates?

Build small (<=500MW) nuclear power plants near where they are going to be
used. If you are worried about terrorists flying planes into them, then bury
the reactor 100 feet underground. Store the radio-active waste in a facility
like Yucca Mountain Nevada. Once most of the electricity is being generated
by nuclear power, it makes sense to look at hydrogen fuel cells for cars.

It is kind of funny, but in school in 7th or 8th grade I had a class where
we had to create a product and make an ad for it. I designed an aerodynamic
shaped car, that I said ran on hydrogen. Now 30 years later, it is
happening. Although I fear, putting all that extra water vapor into the air
could cause global warming... Or is it cooling?

David Gay

Quote(s) of the month:

"Excellence without arrogance
Cooperative leadership
Temparate justice
Compassion with reason"

-- SGL's creedo, 6/1/2002

Fix of the month:

"Is it possible for the US to defend itself against terrorism and not endanger civil liberty? Explain."



1. Tallahassee, May 20: Running for reelection, Gov Jeb Bush has adopted a popular position against crilling for oil in the Florida everglades. Interestingly, his brother the President has chimed in with this stance - even thugh GW approves of drilling for oil in Alaska.

Washington D.C.

1. May 20: Following a Eurpoean lead, the Bush admin. is looking to ease 4'th Ammend protections and permit easier eavesdropping on all electronic communications - and once again try to prevent civlian use of strong cryptography. Police will also be able to track people's movements by accessing the access logs of their cell phones. Furthermore, it used to be a stated privacy goal that one govt agencie's data (say teh IRS)  on an individual would not be shared with other agencies without court order or letter of permission. But in the post 9/11 world and Congressional hearings on the govt's failure to "protect us", the goal from Tom Ridge and the FBI is now to have real time inter-agency data sharing.

It would appear that the only right to privacy now is found in abortion clinics - and oddly - those who are among the first to defend that freedom are among the first to take it away for America's security.

2. June 2: The STate department has warned all AMericans to clear out of India and Pakistan, for fear that tempers there could erupt into an all out nuclear exchange. While that seems unlikely, it would seem that it could hamper US military efforts to hunt down AL Qiada members, and indeed, this may be the very reason for the tension escalation - given the Muslim influence in Pakistan.

3. May 25: The Congress is going on a political witch hunt to blame the Bush admin for 9/11, pointing to a report from an FBI field agent in St. Paul that requested permission to search the computer of Zacharia Masoui, the so called 20'th highjacker. The FBI denied permission, therebye missing a possible chance to "connect the dots" on multiple data elements that may have allowed us to predict the plan. Well, here's some points to consider:

a. Only the hijacking pilots knew that their mission was a suicide one, Bin Laden said as much in a video. And even they did not know the targets until days before the attack.
b. If police state tactics and civil liberty squashing intelligence gathering were the answer, Israel should have no suicide attacks.
c. Both Congress and the Bush Admin were warned in AUgust 2001 by Japanese intelligence that a US domestic highjacking plan was in the works.