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Total number of comments: 158 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:59)


Showing comments 158 - 101

  • Trump isn't a Bug in our US Software, he's a Feature
    • I think you missed a crucial one. I don't remember the date, but we acquiesced in Republican demands to eliminate the fairness doctrine regulating broadcast news. That allowed Fox News to become an addictive propaganda channel. Trump's policies are essentially what you get from someone who spends hours every day watching it, -and panders to other watchers.

      I'm also not convinced that 9-11 was inevitable. Firstly Bin-Laden gave the go-ahead for the operation during a period when the Israeli-Palestinian peace had been killed -essentially by the Israeli side, leading to the Intifada. Muslims clearly thought the US was complicit in these events, and that was at least partial motivation for Bin Laden's decision. Then we can never know what would have happened if we had had a president who had paid attention to the intelligence warnings..

  • Saudi Official views Lebanon as "at war with us"
    • Omega Centauri 11/07/2017 at 3:09 pm

      Conjuring up foreign enemies as justification for a crack-down and consolidation of power, seems like the most likely explanation.

  • After CO2-fueled Disasters, Why won't the U. of Michigan go Green?
    • Omega Centauri 10/27/2017 at 9:57 am

      Just a minor nit to pick:
      "natural gas, which is supposedly more sustainable, recent scientific assessments have revealed that because of methane leaks during the fracking process, natural gas use may actually be one of the most carbon-intensive fossil fuels"

      Carbon-intensive should have been changed to greenhousegas-intensive. The worry with natural gas is not that methane decomposes to Co2, but that it itself is a much stronger greenhouse gas than CO2.

      The rest is spot on. Keep up the pressure on recalcitrant institutions.

  • Germany: Immediate Danger of Mideast War if Trump dumps Iran Deal
    • But, of course knowing how easy it is to demonize Iran in the eyes of American voters, attacking Iran is red meat for the base.

  • Saudi King seeks Recognition for letting Women Drive, a basic right
    • Omega Centauri 09/28/2017 at 2:42 pm

      My thoughts on seeing that picture, "maybe not such a good idea, can she see well enough to drive safely?". I hope they make sure that the ability to see unimpaired a requirement.

  • Trump flip-flops on Afghanistan, opts for Years-long Quagmire
    • I keep hearing the claim that Afghanistan has a trillion dollars worth of minerals. It is a large country with lots of geology, so that doesn't sound incredulous to me. Of course most minerals require large mining operations, which require decent levels of security, so I don't expect much of this to be tapped in any foreseeable future..

  • Now they hate Universities: Trumpie anti-Intellectualism infects GOP
    • Critical thinking leads to questioning of ideology and of religious tenants. This is not to be tolerated by those who identify with today's right. I am not at all surprised by this finding, nor do I think it is a recent phenomena.

      Its well known that "reality has a liberal bias", and in today's hyper-partisan culture, throwing the baby out with the bathwater is the preferred approach.

  • Tillerson-Trump Rumble over Qatar shows White House Divisions
    • Omega Centauri 06/10/2017 at 8:08 pm

      I think its mainly two things. Iran is one of them. The presence of Al Jazeera and other new organizations that dare to criticize the Saudi government is another.

  • Who needs Trump: State Policies driving huuje advances in Wind Power
    • Even in the southeast newer generation turbines will become competitive. The key is higher hub heights, the wind gets stronger and steadier the higher up you go. Expect onshore wind generation to gradually spread to areas where it isn't yet competitive.

  • Uh, oh: French Left can't bring itself to Vote for Macron
    • Only a small percentage of people -even educated ones, get math. Your argument is heavily game-theoretic, people who can be persuaded by such logic are even rarer. I'm afraid people will vote their emotions, and lesser-evil doesn't excite the right ones.

  • 40% of California Grid Power from Solar, Sometimes Costs less than Nothing
    • Omega Centauri 04/16/2017 at 3:22 pm

      California expects solar gen to roughly double within the next five years, at which point solar alone will be generating more than 100% of need at times. This year is a bit unique, as there is a lot of stream flow with the record to near record water year, and the hydro has to be run flat out in order to discharge the water. So the solar curtailments that have been happening some days recently are a bit of a fluke given the current system balance, but won't be in a couple of years.

    • Omega Centauri 04/16/2017 at 3:18 pm

      I went to California just as the 2001 electricity crisis was dying down. Not many complaints about PG&E, a little pricey, but I've always been frugal in my use. Got solar in 2009, and double up to cover electric cars a bit over a year back. So power wise its not been bad.

      The climate you get depends strongly upon microclimates, mostly how far you are from the coast. I'm in the hottest town in the Bay area, and we get 15-20 100plus days a year, so its not such a nice climate for many.

  • Russia's not Leaving: Syria is about old-Fashioned Sphere of Influence, not Oil
    • Omega Centauri 04/12/2017 at 5:16 pm

      As was said elsewhere, demonization of an opponent can end up driving policy, especially if the leader is simple-minded. He just might have decided that regime-change is the only acceptable alternative?

  • It's Class Warfare, Stupid. The GOP crusade against Health Care
    • I think its less about racism and more about an Objectivist worldview, which brooks no redistribution by government, -or even public services other than law, pollcing, and the military. This and strict father morality has been heavily promoted by the right wing foundations, and I believe it is having an effect. Of course it is easy for racism to arise, as identifiable minorities that are seen as being less successful, must be intrinsically inferior, as social or environmental causes are almost completely discounted. I think this discounting of social and environmental determinations comes largely from the fear that admitting their existence would lead to demands to use government power to mitigate them.

      To me this seems consistent with the fact that many Trump supporters claim they are not racists, and are deeply resentful of the charge. They simply see a policy of rob from the poor and giving to the rich as a moral way of being.

  • Here we go Again: Trump Admin Threatens Iran
    • Omega Centauri 02/02/2017 at 9:56 pm

      "we’d vote Democrat. And tip the balance forever."

      ... I think the $65B question is will they haul Trump out in a straightjacket before or after he starts a shooting war?

  • The Reich Strikes Back? Neo-Nazis Call for a Boycott of New Star Wars Movie
  • How We Can fight back against Trump's Anti-EPA
    • Omega Centauri 12/10/2016 at 2:44 pm

      I'm not too worried about the coal plants. All Trump can do is delay their retirement. New coal can't compete against Natural-gas, solar or wind.
      There are a lot of other ways Trump will harm climate however. Increased support for fracking. Potential withdrawal of tax credits for EVs and solar, that would hurt
      the market for such far more than voluntary calls to purchase EVs. Gutting of climate and clean-energy research...

    • Omega Centauri 12/10/2016 at 2:39 pm

      Even if they had the stats the exact value will vary greatly.
      How long is your cooling season? How good is your attic insulation? How efficient is your AC? How dark is your roof?

      I did move where my panels were put over the installers recommendation. I wanted them over a chunk of roof wityh poor insulation that I don't hav access to.

    • Omega Centauri 12/09/2016 at 1:47 pm

      Later on, we will need to start replacing our gas furnaces, with electric heat pump versions. Similarly with water heaters. This will eliminate a huge amount of natural gas consumption. Maybe even enough to make fracking uneconomical.

    • Yes. CFLs are now obsolete. LEDs are cleaner, nicer, consume less power, and contain fewer toxic materials.

  • As Der Donald-inspired Hate Crimes grow, US Universities at Risk
    • Omega Centauri 11/13/2016 at 5:03 pm

      The right hates universities anyway. If they lose an important source of revenue and diversity, the right will consider it a feature, not a bug.

  • Putin targets East Aleppo rebels; Did Trump's Election doom them?
    • Omega Centauri 11/12/2016 at 2:04 pm

      I think they were already doomed, either way. We just don't seem to have either the capability nor the will to be decisive in Syria.

    • Omega Centauri 11/12/2016 at 2:00 pm

      I thinks its more nuanced. Clearly our regime-change wet dream wouldn't have had any real effect unless a lot of people were already ready to rebel. We made it worse/ more likely but
      it required serious mistakes on the Assad side for our efforts to gain any traction.

      But it is well past due for us to quit funding the rebels. We are only adding fuel to the fire. Once you know which side is going to win, funding the losers only prolongs the suffering.

  • Top 5 Times the FBI intervened to Help the US Right Wing
    • If they were only interested in emails involving Hillary, they could use a search program to find just those emails. Mots likely only a tint fraction were Hillary emails. Then another program should be able to check those Hillary emails, against ones already in the FBI database. All that could be done at the speed of computation, which is thousands or millions of times faster than humans reading emails.

  • Turkey: the road towards dictatorship and the west’s responsibility
    • Omega Centauri 11/06/2016 at 9:22 pm

      If I put on a play hat of a high US policy guy, I see Erdogan as holding some pretty strong cards. One of the things he can threaten to do during a US election, is make the unravelling apparent to the electorate. Presumably that pressure point will be minimized after Nov 8. But, there is also that fact that Turkey is serving as a buffer (and huge reservoir) of refugees from Syria. We've seen how the political reaction to the few refugees getting to Europe has stressed the political systems, to the point where survival of the existing system is in doubt. If Turkey were to expel significant numbers of refugees, the result would be truly catastrophic for European politics. So Erdogan knows he can threaten significant harm to both European, and US governments, and he is probably using this threat to blunt the sort of efforts you would like to see.

  • China's Wind Co. Profits, share price soar by 60%: 2 Turbines an Hour being Installed
    • Omega Centauri 10/23/2016 at 5:02 pm

      2-3MW is the sweetspot for land based turbines. Transportation of the blades limit the practical size on land. At sea the size limitations are greatly relaxed, and currently 5-8MW is being deployed. The one 8MW land turbine, is a test facility for a marine turbine, and not intended to be deployed on land.

    • King of puts paid to the all too common argument, that we shouldn't do anything about global warming because China won't. But, I don't expect that talking point to go away.

  • The Mosul Campaign and the 3rd Presidential Debate
    • I think the case can be made that Hillary learns from past mistakes. Her recent hawkishness was a response to the disaster that not intervening in Rwanda allowed. Now, she has seen that intervention can bring on its own self-made disaster as well. I don't think she will be a knee-jerk hawk, I think she will try to weigh the pros and cons of her future actions in the light of the knowledge that things can go wrong either way.

    • Omega Centauri 10/20/2016 at 5:29 pm

      I think whether those advisors and special forces remain after Mosul, isn't really up to the next president except as veto point. They are there at the invitation of the Iraqi government, which might withdraw the invitation if the threat from Daesh begins to appear less urgent. This is similar to 2010, when we ended the occupation, because we no longer had a legal mandate from the government of Iraq.

  • Syria Quagmire: Has Russia Accomplished anything in a year of Bombing?
    • Doesn't the strategy of the government side seem to be depopulation of those areas it can't control? That seems to be succeeding, as civilians if they have the means to do so are leaving the contested or rebel held cities because of the constant bombing.

  • 5 Signs that Wind Power in the US is suddenly going Massive
    • Omega Centauri 09/19/2016 at 1:09 pm

      My latest electric bill from PG&E had an inclusion about the decision to close Diablo Canyon. They expect to more than replace the juice from these two reactors with renewables and efficiency improvements, and claim they will be at 55% renewable by 2031. They also hinted that the renewables, plus storage they plan to use will probably be cheaper than continuing to operate Diablo Canyon would have been.

  • Nearly 500 more US Troops sent to Iraq for Mosul Attack in advance of Election Day
    • Omega Centauri 09/09/2016 at 4:19 pm

      There will still be European and American nihilists who claim loyalty to Daesh, and they will probably stage a revenge attack or two. Western voters don't really care about the situation on the ground in Iraq/Syria, only the perception of danger to western targets matters to them.
      The fact that a major candidate didn't know what Aleppo was is indicative of that lack of attention.

    • Why do they say Obama is weak on terrorism? Because it scores well in focus groups. Our political debate has fallen into a truth-free mode, and Republican operatives know that a lie that feels right is a useful political weapon.

  • Top 5 Ways Green Energy is already Helping American Workers
    • It is true that there is little current competition between oil consumption and wind/solar. However oil and gas are joined at the hip. The same techniques are used to produce both, and many oil wells also produce natural gas, so the price of natural gas affects the profitability of oil producers.

      More direct competition is emerging. From lawnmovers to cars to trucks and buses to heat pumps that displace fossil fuel heating, many applications that traditionally were oil or gas powered are just beginning the transition towards green electricity. Even shortrange airtravel will in the future be electrically powered.

    • The real problem as JIgar alluded to, is getting the word out. The media promotion money is still in fossil fuels. The oil and gas promotion association funds prime time TV shows, and the media personalities are obliged to help those who pay them. Political candidates of a certain stripe exploit fears of the loss of these fossil fueled jobs. So the public perceives pro fossil myths as truthiness.

  • The Bernie Sanders Miracle: American Crowd in Brooklyn Cheers Palestinian Dignity
    • I think he's triangulating. Taking a position well to the left of the mainstream, but not so far as to risk it becoming a show stopper. By and large, being targeted by AIPAC used to mean one's political career was over. So he is trying to stay just close enough to have a chance of making it into office, where he could at least move the needle a little. I don't think we will see substantial change in policy towards Israel unless/until there is a much larger shift in public opinion.

  • 3 Surprising reasons Saudi Arabia may be getting out of the Oil Business
    • Actually even in the developed world several gas burners are sold per every gas burner. But, electric wise, renewables are coming on fast. At least in the developed world many EV owners are having panels installed -or like myself getting a system upgrade to handle the increased demand.

      Fracking has certainly become a force. USA imports have dropped due to the combination of fracking, and a more efficient fleet of gas-burners.

    • Well, there is also shortterm political desperation. Got to keep revenues and social spending up so they can keep buying off the public.

    • I think the change to EVs is going to take a bit longer than Juan is letting on. As a family with a Leaf and a plugin, I see my wife taking the older internal combustion car when there is any doubt about range. And co-workers (engineers) who are strongly environmental and have placed PV, are mostly too reluctant to take the electric plunge. The generous federal tax breaks were for a limited number of vehicles per manufacturer, already Tesla with its huge signups for the model 3, is already running into these limits. Its unclear if extensions can be passed. The current EV fleet is too small to impact the oil market, it will have to grow manyfold before it does.

  • Winners and Losers in 5 Years of Syrian Civil War
    • Omega Centauri 03/14/2016 at 6:51 pm

      I would agree, since all the frontline states whose national armies posed a threat to Israel are now either failed states, or seriously challenged states. Even distant potential challengers, such as Iraq and Iran are undergoing challenging times.

  • Syrian Ceasefire: A Signal that Russia is winning the War?
    • Omega Centauri 02/27/2016 at 9:38 pm

      What are the prospects of Assad offering amnesty towards the "moderate rebels", and to the residents of those areas long occupied by them? I would think this would be a key piece of the puzzle, but does Damascus have the appetite for it?

  • What It Takes To Defeat ISIL's Ideology
    • It is always a moral dilemma, and a pragmatic one as well. On the one hand we want to punish and disincentivize foolish (and evil) behavior, on the other hand, offering redemption can be very powerful, and create positive change. In Buddhism we had a concept of change, "from this moment on", which recognizes that we can't change the past, but can work powerfully to better the future. Most of the worlds great religions have a forgiving god for this reason, otherwise why would anyone change once they discover the errors of their chosen path? Of course we are talking about redemption and forgiveness in the very imperfect human social world, which is more difficult to bring about.

  • Is Corporate Media a danger to Society? Coverage of Trump v. Sanders
    • Omega Centauri 12/13/2015 at 2:25 pm

      I doubt it has much to do with a deliberate corporate conspiracy, but rather to the pernicious effects of many small profit maximizing decisions at all levels of the media. The capitalist system values eyeballs over truth, emotional stories over substance and so on. Outrage, resentment, and fear are easy to sell, and hence profitable. The result is not just dis/misinformation, and the training of our baser emotions, but also we get habituated to the quick emotional hit, at the expense of careful logical thinking.

  • Why did Turkey dare shoot down a Russian Plane? The Proxy War in Syria
    • Somehow I get the feeling that every foreign service faction gets to send support to its own favored militants. And every Ally-in-Name-Only gets to channel weapons to its favored militant actors.
      Isn't it about tine the USA starts figuring out what its overall strategy should be, and stops letting the myraid of small players to all get their own military favors? They are all working at cross-purposes, and the only result of this shotgun approach to policy will be even worse chaos.

  • 'Putin of Arabia' hugely popular among Iraqi Shiites
    • They should wait to see if Russia will pivot to attacking Daesh, after they have secured their Latakia foothold, and the Damascus government. Maybe they will then concentrate on Daesh? Or maybe that will be enough for them?

  • Top 5 Signs cheap Renewable Energy is taking the World by Surprise
    • No doubt certain fossil fuel interests are using the political process to delay the transition. Most efforts to put roadblocks in the way of residential solar are ultimately defeated. Surprisingly if you frame it as a consumer freedom issue you may be able to enlist tea party types in the struggle.

  • Holland's Wind-Driven trains & 4 other Hopeful Green Energy Stories for Today
  • 14 Years after 9/11, US, Israel Tempted to ally with Al-Qaeda in Syria
    • "The enemy of my enemy is my friend". So in the convoluted
      breakdown of the middle east, everyone is eligible on some level to be our friend, as well as eligible to be our enemy.

  • Did rise of Daesh/ ISIL ensure Iran Nuclear Deal?
    • I think there is probably behind the scenes opposition from the oil patch. The global price of oil will be lower with Iranian oil added to the world oil market, and that hurts anyone who makes a living pumping oil.

  • Green Energy Surging and you'll never Guess Why
    • Omega Centauri 06/07/2015 at 7:30 pm

      Yes thats right. Wind is generally pretty cheap. Solar comes when you need it the most (when airconditioning demand peaks), and adding solar can mean fewer peaking-plants. Peaking plants are expensive power, because they are only used a few days per year.

      Now. We are still fighting the notion, that renewables are unaffordable, news takes time to sink in. That's particularly true when well funded propaganda keeps re-enforcing outdated memes.

  • United Tells Muslim Woman Passenger 'No Soda For Terrorists'
    • I certainly hope thats the case. It is entirely credible that the airline was unaware of the incident until after it was reported. It clearly underscores the need for cultural sensitivity training (or whatever) for crew members. At the very least, the could have simply refused any passengers unopened can's claiming they are for immediate consumption, not takehome perks.

  • How Mainstream is Bernie Sanders?
    • Omega Centauri 05/30/2015 at 4:42 pm

      They probably do, but will they vote for a candidate who makes a serious proposal to do something about it? I suspect not. Firstly these egalitarians don't vote as much as those on the right end of the spectrum. Then we have voter suppression. Then we will have media plus the conservative noise machine in full attack mode. People tend to be suckers for lines like "That's not the American way", "freedom (license for rich people) is what makes us special." The later argument can be devastating, since its true, and admitting it admits we are a worse place to live which is easily tarred as unpatriotic, so anyone making the argument will be asked "why do you hate America?". I think its a very tough sell to get the people to vote their interests.

  • Hawaii goes Green and other Big Renewables Stories
    • I would agree that Hawaii is a good place for EVs. But I doubt fuel costs are much different than on the mainland. We routinely ship oil thousands of miles over the seas. But, EVs are better (relatively) in a warm climate (my plugin's manual, says to never drive it below -30C), and driving distances are short enough that range isn't so important.

    • The better projects are building PV plants for not much over a dollar per watt. Even rooftop in the US, which suffers from large "soft-costs", is generally under $4/watt. Softcosts are stuff like permitting, inspections, cost of sales, and so on. Presumably for large utility plants these should become small.
      Panel manufacuring costs are still around $.50 per watt, so $190 for a gigawatt is not achievable in the near future.

    • IIRC, Hawaii's goal was for 100% of electricity not energy. There is still a lot of energy use that isn't electric, and thats tougher to replace with renewables then electricty. California is shooting for 50% for electric, up from 33%, but the state doesn't count its considerable hydro power, or rooftop solar as part of its renewables, so its doing a lot better than the official numbers show.

      Geothermal would be quite valuable for Hawaii, as it doesn't vary with the weather and time of day.

  • Australia's new Super Solar Cells Double Efficiency
    • I wouldn't characterize Chinese panels as low efficiency, most are in the 15-20% range, which just a few years ago would have been called high efficiency. A few brands (both Chinese and otherwise) can deliver 20-22% (the theoretical cap for silicon is 26%).

      Solyndra wasn't claiming to be highly efficient, they were claiming they would be cheap and lightweight enough to be suitable for rooftops which can't tolerate much addition weight. Their problem was that cheap was defined against the price of panels before the big price drops that started in 2009 (panels went from $5 per watt to now under $1), and their product was in the middle of that range. If panel prices had remained high, they would have been a going concern.

    • Multi-junction cells operating on a few hundred times concentrated light, have been into the mid forties. I think the Fraunhofer institute is usually on the top of the tables.
      But, concentrated photovoltaics seems to be on the way out. Cheap, and good enough panels deliver more bang for the buck. Concentrating technologies have a lot of overhead, optics, tracking, cooling, and limited lifetime for the expensive multijunction cells add alot of cost.

  • Spain at 70% non-Carbon Electricity: Will it be 1st Net Carbon Zero G-20 State?
    • Omega Centauri 04/12/2015 at 6:09 pm

      I would agree with you there. While I don't think new build Nuclear makes sense, keeping the old plants running until we have reached deep de-carbonization makes sense.

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