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Total number of comments: 15 (since 2017-04-13 14:15:50)

Ollie Jones

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  • The US Role in Turning Countries into Shitholes and provoking Immigration
    • Yes, all these things are true about El Salvador. MS13 and 18 are stronger than the "government" in many places. Most Salvadorans in who came to el Norte did so to live their lives.

      One more thing. As of a few years ago, about 48% of household income in El Salvador came from remittances. Mass deportation will cut into remittances and make life harder.

      But it has to be said, DJT is a troll. He says things, both with his voice and his social media account to rile people up and get attention. The usual advice is "don't feed the trolls." Let's stop hyperventilating when DJT utters some scurrilous nonsense. A story like this could say,

      "The US Administration has plans to revoke status for 200,000 Salvadoran refugees. In other news, DJT used the word 'shithole' to describe the sovereign nation of Haiti."

      And by the way everybody in the world knows what DJT looks like by now. Photos of him in news articles should show newsworthy events--refusing to shake hands with Chancellor Merkel is one--not just used as eye candy.

      We can report the news without feeding the monster. Let's do it.

  • If you're not Driving an Electric Car you're Losing Money
    • It's true about electric cars; they are cheaper to operate.

      Where I live (Northeast MA) our electricity is, as we say in these parts, wicked pissah expensive at US$0.21 per kWh. But even at that price my EV is cheaper to operate than a gasoline car would be. In summer my solar panels provide enough juice for my car, but not at this time of year. Even so. . .

  • Top 5 reasons Roy Moore could still Win, despite Sex Scandals
    • Sixth reason: "dating" children is a badge of honor and a sign of virility for Republicans and fundamentalists everywhere. It will win this Moore guy more votes than it loses him.

  • Trump: Why didn't 'Samurai Japan' shoot down N. Korea Missiles?
    • Wouldn't good diplomacy quietly make this point?

      "The Kim dynasty will not survive any attack it launches on another country."

      I bet even the Chinese govt could be persuaded to go along with that position if it were advanced with subtlety.

  • Legal weed: An accidental solution to the opioid crisis?
    • I'm looking forward to seeing Canada's results. I hope you, as a nation, can stay on the program solidly enough that the outcomes are clear to the world.

      Here in Massachusetts USA the population voted to legalize cannabis a year ago. However, our legislatures and town governments are stalling on implementation. Why? "Reefer madness." A century of systematic demonization of marijuana users has made governments reluctant to implement the will of the people. Of course, law enforcement people here also oppose drug decriminalization; it threatens their livelihoods.

      (There's a fine book, Chasing the Scream by Johann Hari about this topic.)

      In MA, our legislature is messing up this transition. They're talking about a 20% tax on stores; that's high enough to keep the black market alive. They're letting towns refuse to allow retail outlets, which has the same effect. It's a shame.

      Colorado and MA voters legalized cannabis with the "recreational" approach: a libertarian assertion that it does little harm and the state has no business prosecuting people for using it. Washington (state) legalized it with the "juridical" approach: a utilitarian assertion that the state should not waste law-enforcement resources on cannabis.

      The juridical approach is much more likely to prevail when governments get around to decriminalizing opiates and other currently illegal substances: few people think opiate addiction is harmless or fun. But the experience in Portugal and Switzerland, as well as experiments elsewhere, show that decriminalization is a far better path than the current one.

      Imagine a world where guys with names like El Chapo have to get jobs.

  • Superstorm Donald Hits GOP, aims to Ravage US
    • The Republican party brought their internecine chaos on themselves. The systematic REDMAP redistricting process after the 2010 census gave the party a lot of "safe" districts. That moved the competition for ideas from the general elections to the primaries.

      Brat defeating Cantor in the primary election wasn't just a bar mitzvah gone bad. It was a sign that the center would no longer hold in the federal legislature.

      The election of DJT was a predictable consequence. And DJT's wakky style is an intentional distraction from the agenda of Brat and his colleagues.

  • Are Houstonians 1st Wave of New Climate Change Refugees?
    • First climate refugees?

      Probably not. There have been lots of migrants along the east coast of India, south of Kolkata, displaced by storms and rising waters. The same is true in Bengladesh.

      This doesn't mean the Gulf Coast situation isn't very serious indeed.

  • It’s Not About ‘White Culture’
    • During the First World War, it happens that Lutheran church history teaches us a little lesson about the construct of "whiteness."

      Lutherans were numerous among immigrants from various Northern European countries, like Sweden, Norway, Finland, and obviously Germany: the Lutheran stripe of Christianity was the state church at that time in those places.

      German Lutherans in USA of a century ago often clung to the German language for worship and church business: after all Dr. Luther himself translated the Bible and the mass into German. During the war these German congregations came under suspicion of disloyalty to the USA and sometimes were targets of arson and other violence.

      The various ethnicities of Lutherans, to reduce the violence, claimed common cause and heritage. Denominational spokesmen said, 'we're not primarily German or Finnish or whatever, we are white Americans."

      Obviously there's far more to the myth of whiteness than defensive Lutheran attempts to submerge their ethnic distinctions a century ago. Still, part of the story of whiteness comes from this attempt to avoid violence.

  • America's Passionate Intensity: What Rough Beast Slouches toward Mar-a-Lago?
    • I have seen it written that globalization has lifted many people out of poverty in places like India, China, and Vietnam, by providing jobs.

      I've seen it happen: I worked with a company for a while that hired software developers in a provincial city in India. Those people, paid modest salaries by US standards, are still respected leaders in their community.

      So, globalization's effects have not been uniformly negative for the globe. But they have, in the US, been accompanied by successful rent-seeking and inequality.

      I'm no scholar or journalist, so it's hard to gather information to assess the truth of those statements / rumors about global vs. local effects. I wish I knew more. Can Prof. Bacevich or others shed any light?

  • Shell, terrified of EVs, expects 'low forever' Gasoline Prices; it is too Optimistic
    • Royal Dutch Shell is probably correct that Peak Oil and its aftermath involve declining retail prices for oil. The scenario in the Waterworld film, with desperadoes fighting over the remaining barrels of oil, probably won't come to pass.

      The world is likely to have lots of gray markets in batteries of uncertain quality and origin. As electric transport spreads from wealthy regulated neoliberal territory to poorer areas, this is likely more true. Cheap EVs will, likely, be powered with dodgy recycled end-of-life batteries, or crash-damaged batteries.

      The political resistance of electric grid companies to rolling out a smart grid -- a load-shiftiing distributed distribution network -- is probably a bigger problem for the future than shenanigans at Shell or Aramco.

  • When will gasoline cars be illegal? France throws its Beret into the Ring
    • The GM all-electric vehicle is the Bolt, not the Volt. The Tesla 3 is their US$35,000 offering, for which Job One (Ford lingo for the first production car) drove off the assembly line yesterday ( July 7, 2017).

      In electric transport, the single most important factor is weight. Batteries are heavy! That means, obviously, it takes more power to haul them around with the vehicle. A vicious design cycle ensues with the vehicle getting heavier because it's heavier.

      Three big things need to happen for sales of combustion cars to cease. One is ubiquitous electric charging. When electric vehicles are dominant, apartments without access to parking spots with chargers will be the new slums. Subsidized public housing will be an awful trap if residents can't charge cars, because they won't be able to get to work.

      The other factor is battery weight. The good news is here: batteries are semiconductor products. The world has a solid half-century of experience figuring out how to make better semiconductors cheaper. Batteries are already no exeception: watt-hours per weight and per dollar are steadily declining as production goes up.

      The third is a change in the business of selling electricity. Vehicle charging is a time-shiftable load, so the utilities can use information tech (some sort of real time auction scheme, maybe) to spread out that load to avoid firing up their filthy and expensive peak-load generators. We aren't even close on this one. I use an electric vehicle, and my utility doesn't even understand the question "when should I charge up?"

      Government can have direct influence on the first and third points (charging infrastructure and loading factors) via regulations and standards-setting activity.

      It can have a DARPA-style effect on battery cost decline.

      But to exert those effects a vision is helpful. That's why these goals in various European nations are good. It's too bad for USA this opportunity is coming at a time when government vision is out of fashion.

  • Is the European Refugee Crisis being Driven by Drought and Climate Change?
    • It's possible that Central American refugee migration to North America has similar root causes.

      If this were true the causal chain might go like this:

      El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala all are suffering from shortages due to the neeed to import enough food.
      Imported food in the 21st century generates poverty rather than hunger per se.
      Inability to feed populations weakens civil society.
      Weak civil society allows gangs (18, MS13, and the rest) to fill the vacuum and flourish.
      Gang violence and poverty drives people north, and civil society weakens further as a result.

      I'm no social scientist, so I don't know how to measure the truth of my assertions here.

      But I predict this: Half a century from now all these northbound migrants will be understood as climate refugees.

  • Allies Furious as Trump w/draws from G7 Climate Commitment, May leave Paris Accord
    • This stuff is bad. But at least some of it is toothless chin music.

      Sure, the feds want to restore coal mining to its former glory. But they need miners, landowners, and mining companies to cooperate to achieve that goal. For that to happen, mining has to be profitable net of externalities (pollution). It really is marginal.

      Same for CO2 goals. Royal Dutch Shell is on record predicting peak oil. Oil prices are falling, not just because the west is squeezing Russia and Venezuela, but because demand is going down. Maybe the US vehicle industry will have a few years of freedom to make more inefficient vehicles, but they're selling to a replacement market.

      I'm no apologist for the carbon extractors. Far from it. But I do think POTUS is playing to his base by behaving offensively at G7, and his bloviation is less effective than it sounds.

      But it definitely gets in the news, even on Informed Comment. I'm trying to say POTUS is the drunk shouting at the end of the bar. We can stop listening to him.

  • 40% of California Grid Power from Solar, Sometimes Costs less than Nothing
    • Yes, photovoltaic power is happening. Same with wind power. Parts of Texas have an excess of electricity on winter nights. But, how to use it effectively? How to match demand to supply minute by minute?

      Yeah, batteries.

      But we also need a "smart grid" -- a distribution network that's capable of announcing moment by moment supply. Why can't time-shiftable load like hot water heaters and car chargers accept signals saying, "go" or "wait?"

      In Norway the power network uses a sideband on FM radio (the same channel used to announce song names so they can be displayed on car radios) to announce moment-to-moment power prices.

      The time has come to get this right.

  • 1 in 50 new Jobs in US is in Solar Energy, despite Trump
    • It's a great political market position: "Bring back coal!" It's like voting fifty-plus times to repeal the ACA in the face of a veto. It stirs up support from your "base", and is otherwise entirely meaningless. You can't bring back coal without an economic case for mining and using it. That case has faded away.

      I suppose the US executive branch could order the military to buy large quantities of coal at high prices. That might get some mining going again. But they probably don't have much equipment that uses it: ships and airplanes run on petroleum, not coal.

      It's interesting that Margaret Thatcher, in England near the end of the 20th century, was widely despised for closing down the coal business and switching to cleaner energy.

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