SeaViews: Insights from the Gray
(formerly the _Rochester Rag_, formerly the _News
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
-- 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
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
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 ...
[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. ]
WHO REALLY BENEFITS FROM THE ECO-WHACKO'S
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
the North Slope of AK fiercely, but after having just gotten
a taste of OPEC's formation, and having shortages of
even Congress failed to bow to their will. Since then they
have had much more success. For decades they have
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
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
artificially inflated due to an artificially low supply. Do
the "evil" oil companies benefit from restricted supply and
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
field jobs live well, those that do not live poorly. There
are not many jobs up there and oil jobs pay well, others; if
can be found pay little. Given the prices of things up there
(due to shipping costs) a $20/hr job is barely
So, it would seem no one benefits from the eco-whacko's
prevention of drilling for domestic oil. But wait, where is
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
that many of the "environmental" groups get sizable
contributions from Saudi Arabia. The Saudi's couldn't have
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
Quida. A case could be made that these "environmental"
groups had a large role in funding 9-11 due to their
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
standards for coal fired power plants. One of the results of
this was to cause many of these plants to have to use
expensive and harder to find low sulfur coal. The second
largest supply of this type of coal is in Indonesia, owned
Riady family. You remember the Riady's, don't you? This was
the family who (illegally) funded Clinton for most of
career. For years this family had almost a monopoly on low
sulfur coal, and the eco-whacko forced us to buy it. Then
largest known supply of this clean burning coal was
discovered in UT, in the Grand Tetons. Before it could be
thus destroying the monopoly of the Riady's, President
Clinton declared the area a National Monument. This will
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
farm was proposed off the coast of Boston. Are the oil
companies fighting this? Nope. Who is sponsoring legislation
kill the plan for this clean power? Sen. Kennedy! What is
the excuse? Well, maybe a bird will be stupid enough to fly
the blades. We have some wind mills just northwest of
Milwaukee, and I drove past them the other day. Even with
strong winds, those blades were turning slowly. A bird would
have to be pretty stupid to fly into them. I could make
case that these wind farms would help the bird populations
by eliminating the most stupid of them before they can
Any bird stupid enough to fly into a wind mill will have the
sort of offspring that will attempt to fly directly into
via your closed window (I have seen this happen; generally
it freaks out the cats and often kills the bird). Should we
windows because of the stupidest of the birds? Even "solar
farms" in the desert get protested. What is the excuse?
might upset the "delicate" balance of the desert! There is
nothing delicate about the desert; the plants and animals
are some of the toughest in the world. Hydro-electric?
Forget it; they will find some fish or minnow or clam that
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
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
wheels. Now add the extra weight of the power source and
batteries. I'd guess that to drive my pick-up after
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
from other nations (if we are allowed to have any power
sources at all), putting us at risk of embargos and
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.
MARK A SITY
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
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
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
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
2. And David offer this;
29 May 2002 09:44:33 -0500
"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
My naive energy policy would be: use natural resources as
possible. This would have the effect of both conservation
pollution. For example, minimize the use of natural gas to
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
to minimize use of dirty alternatives (such as wood burning
Alternatives such as wind power and solar, etc., should be
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
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
instead of fermented from US produced grain. The farmers
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
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
shaped car, that I said ran on hydrogen. Now 30 years later,
happening. Although I fear, putting all that extra water
vapor into the air
could cause global warming... Or is it cooling?
Quote(s) of the month:
"Excellence without arrogance
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.
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
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.