Archives for the month of: September, 2019

Important enough I want to share it any way possible.

Source: Thread by @bearshrugged: “I was not going to do this as I do not like too personal information on the internet, but the latest Greta Thunberg video is too impactful. […]”

I was not going to do this as I do not like too personal information on the internet, but the latest Greta Thunberg video is too impactful. I do not care what one believes about the climate, but I do care that people understand what is happening with this young lady. 1/
I have a child with high functioning autism (aka Aspregers). Not every person with this syndrome experiences all of the resultant effects, and the effects vary by degree. Sometimes you cannot tell if a person has Aspregers at first blush, but it will eventually emerge. 2/
Two common characteristics that seem to follow in all cases are “literalism” and “rigidity” of thought. Also, hyperfocus on narrow topics is common. Aspregers was known as the “little professors” disease, because Aspregers kids could become experts in narrow topics. 3/
The expertise is not a creative expertise but a rote one. Causation and emotional understanding are difficult for Aspregers sufferers, especially children. Aspergers suffers also are very strict adherents to “the rules” once established in their heads. This ties to rigidity. 4/
If an Aspregers sufferer establishes a set of “facts” in their minds, it is very fixed. It is so fixed that even contrary facts presented to them are rejected in favor of the previously established “facts.” If the counter-information continues, the sufferer becomes frustrated. /5
The frustration turns to hurt and anger, because of the literalism, rigidity, and the way their minds attach to rules and items they have already establish as concrete. The concrete fact is often the first “fact” on the subject they hear. /6
Now imagine a person with these predisposed inclinations hearing for the first time 1) the earth is atmosphere is heating at an incredible pace; 2) humans are causing this rapid heating; and 3) the whole planet is going to die if it is not fixed in 12 years. /7
These three items, for a person not on the spectrum can be weighed, evaluated, and put into perspective. Contrary points can be reviewed and expectations adjusted. For an Aspregers sufferer, this is not easily, if at all achieved. The anxiety compounds. /8
You have both the anxiety of being told you are going to die, coupled with the anxiety and frustration of having contra-facts butting against your established “facts” and literal implications. Parents of children with Aspregers struggle against this convergence every day. /9
How does one teach perspective and thought flexibility to a person whose mind demands literalism and structured “facts” (this is why some Spectrum people are great coders)? The answer is patiently doing so. Demonstrating the safety of exceptions to rules, and alternatives./10
When I see Ms. Thunberg, I see all 9f the frustration of my child, with none of the attempts at perspective and flexibility of thought. In some ways Spectrum people appear robotic because of their rigid mindset, but they are not. The are frustrated, and hurt, and angry. 11/
For a person like me, seeing her rigidity makes me unhappy. However, seeing her frustration and tears at the UN makes me angry. Those pushing her into the spotlight on these issues deserve shame. She is not a robot. Her beliefs are tainted by the Spectrum that frames them. /12
She is being compelled into corners her mind has difficulty navigating, and does nothing but feed her fears (of literal death), and frustration that her mind’s eye does not square with the messy, grey, emotional world. Apregers sufferers must learn to navigate these areas. /13
These areas are instinctive for those of us not on the Spectrum. No matter where you are on this issue, remember Ms. Thunberg’s view is not your view. Someone should be helping her navigate her rigidity and anxiety, not using it as an “automatia” prop. /14
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I assert we will burn everything that will burn until we have a better source of energy. Hydro is good but past maximized, and environmentalists want to tear down the dams we have. Solar is a wimp. It has its place, but not on the grid, and anyone telling you otherwise doesn’t understand the engineering and physics of it. Wind is simply a scam, snake oil. Wind-based power generation drives up costs in the grid and in transmission and in maintenance. It cannot be made better. It is disruptive to our power usage and needs. Turbines kill insects by the millions, bats by the thousands (maybe by the millions), and rare and endangered birds by the hundreds. Wind has no net benefits, only pain. Wind turbines do violence against our neighbors with flashing lights, flashing shadows, vertigo-inducing rotation, incessant noise, fire and throw hazard, and property devaluation.

Thus, we burn.

It is immoral to burn edible food while people starve. Biofuels do more harm than good.

There is no alternative to petroleum for a few applications, but we can convert most of our power needs to electricity, which we can renewably generate with nuclear fission for millennia.

We will convert to nuclear electricity generation. It is our only possibility. If we allow fear to continue to drive us, we will increase suffering caused by other power generation methods until we wise up. It will be painful. The longer we wait to convert to essentially 100% nuclear, the greater the pain and suffering we impose on ourselves and our posterity.

As an aside, persuasion is an illusion. Manipulation is a thing, but not persuasion. Compulsion is real enough (and evil), but it is not persuasion. The only true persuader is pain. The fellow who is convinced he can walk through walls may never admit he is delusional, but after a broken nose or two, when he claims he can walk through walls, he will take the doorway, explain that it is much easier. When our pain from wind power generation is too high, we will quit. (Who will clean up the mess?) Likewise, the large solar installations. Inevitably, we will power our lives with nuclear generated electricity.

Coal is a finite resource, and it is environmentally burdensome, even with modern technology. We will wean ourselves off it, even China and India, long before we run out of it. though. The net benefits from coal are too low to justify using it when we have better alternatives like natural gas and nuclear fission.

Natural gas may be finite. (Well, it is eventually, but odds are we will be extracting it from the earth even a few centuries from now.) Natural gas has substantive net benefit, but it is still somewhat burdensome on the environment, and nuclear fission is far better. We will be using natural gas for many generations to come, but we will see it specialized into small niches. It will become inconsequential to our earthly environment.

Petroleum, well, we are probably going to use it for as long as we have machines. We are probably going to have machines for hundreds, maybe thousands, of generations. Of course, we could have paradigm-shifting technological advances that make it easier to make what hydrocarbons we use more inexpensively with nuclear-generated electricity than by continued mining (drilling, fracking, and other modern extraction techniques, which I think of as mining). {“If it can’t be grown, it must be mined,” is a truth-statement today.} Also, it doesn’t actually seem likely petroleum is a finite resource. That is, for practical purposes, it may be as plentiful as rock. It is reasonable to suppose we will never run out of oil in the earth’s crust. We are not sure, but there are theories that we can’t test significantly yet. Regardless, the extractable oil is more than enough to remain useful for generations to come. We are just as far from peak-oil as we’ve ever been, and every time prognosticators start doomcasting we blow right past their deadlines.

For generating large amounts of stable electrical energy, coal is the most sensible from the engineering standpoint, but the other burdens of its extraction, use, and disposal are too significant. Natural gas is only sensible because we can get so much of it so inexpensively. That situation will not hold indefinitely, but I suspect it will hold for the rest of my generation (let’s assume 40 years). Natural gas is relatively clean, and direct use of it is exceptionally beneficial in terms of benefits to our lives versus the burdens of extraction and use. It takes three times more natural gas to boil your tea kettle with an electric stove top (assuming natural-gas turbine generated electricity) than it does with a direct natural gas stove top. It is quite counterproductive from any standpoint to restrict or ban the use of natural gas in residential or commercial or even industrial use. Natural gas is first choice for direct fuel applications. One could argue for liquid fuels, but it is much harder to deal with liquid fuels in open-flame applications.

Petroleum is not a good fuel for large electrical power generation, which is why we use it for only a small fraction of a percent of our total electrical generation. It is good for small applications, and quick-start applications, but not much otherwise.

We need petroleum for mobile fuel. Liquids are easily stored in tanks for direct transportation usage. It is probably indispensable for aircraft, at least medium- and long-distance flights. It is good with ground transport, but there are several advantages to electrically powered transportation, but the limits of batteries are prohibitive, and will be for the near future. Edison advanced battery technology more than anyone before him, and advancements since have been at a snail’s pace with the significant, but small, advancement of lithium batteries. It looks like 15 to 25 years will bet us that much ahead again. That will give us batteries about twice as good as Edison could make. We need batteries that are 50 times better.

We have a variety of reasonable engineering solutions, but none that will be easy or inexpensive, and some would require significant changes in our societies. We shall see.

Another aside: If we can prove out fully automated transportation, we may switch to all electric vehicles, including short-flight aircraft, by switching to an entirely automated transportation system that would incorporate plains, trains, automobiles, and trucks scheduled to maximize battery life and transportation efficiencies. If so, personal ownership of vehicles would probably be relegated to hobbyists, and we’d generally just tap our phone app to have our ride pull up for us in a matter seconds, zipping us without traffic snarls to our destinations (with, perhaps, stops to transfer to a second transport with fresh batteries if our distance requires).

As an engineer with expertise in physics, I have no reservations asserting we will burn all we need to until we have excess electricity generated from nuclear power sources. Windmills will run their course, and our descendants will curse us for the hardships caused by them. Large-scale solar will be the same, but some solar applications may prove out, but solar power generation will never supply a significant fraction of our overall energy usage.

We will switch to nuclear. It is the only reasonable possibility. There may be some genius-level technological breakthrough, but there is no evidence to support such speculation, and it may be centuries from now even if it is possible.

We will use nuclear fission with uranium and thorium for generations, and we will eventually solve the engineering challenges of nuclear fusion and the materials required to build power production facilities. That might be a century or two (or a couple decades, but my money is on 100 years).

There is no existential threat other than the unknown. There is a plant-killing rock out there, but it may not approach for several centuries. (Of course, if we spot it tomorrow and realize it will hit us in 15 years, we’re probably going to join the dinosaurs and the other 99.9% of species how’ve run their course on our planet. I bet a few survive, or some new species will eventually attain what we call sentience, and life will continue to find a way, at least until the next unknown catastrophic event overtakes them.)

We will burn fossil fuels until nuclear power generation makes it impractical. We will not tip earth’s climate into anything catastrophic for humans or the rest of life on this planet.

Do keep in mind that there are three essential ingredients to life on our planet, water, oxygen, and carbon dioxide. The first two are demonstrably the most destructive aspects of our environment. As long as oceans remain, water and oxygen will remain the most significant drivers of maintenance and repair and rebuilding. Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. It is an essential ingredient to life. It cannot exist in nature in quantities that are dangerous to us or other life. Even corals have experienced carbon dioxide levels multiples higher than our current levels. CO2 is only dangerous on our planet in its absence. We must have it, or photosynthesis is impossible. If carbon dioxide gets too low, all plants will die and all remaining life will starve, all of it (well, fungus might manage).

So, are you willing to acknowledge that nuclear is best? If not, you will relegate the next generation to undue suffering, and they will.

We will switch to entirely nuclear-power generated electricity. It is only a matter of time and how much suffering it takes to overcome our irrational fears of it.

Environmentalism, notionally, is trying to solve problems. The air was dirty. We solved that. Water was dirty. We solved that. Problems got more esoteric and ill defined with problems like acid rain and CFCs, but we seemingly solved those purported problems. The key was intractability. The environmentalists and those who saw the movement as a means to power needed an unsolvable problem. Telling humans their use of energy is the problem provides an unsolvable problem. Thus was born the notion of carbon dioxide causing climate change. The eternal problem for the unending alarm. There is your politics. There is your will to power. That is why climate alarmism will still be a thing generations from now when the world moves along in spite of it.

I’ve paid attention to climate change my whole life. In my youth, it was pollution, soot and sulfur compounds, etc., that were causing, not only dirty, unhealthy living conditions, but coming ice sheets as our current ice age deepened and the glaciers reasserted over most of the northern hemisphere. Later, that fear morphed into global warming, now, just change. Of course, change is the only constant, and we hear most everything blamed on this supposedly alarming change in the undefined and undefinable climate.

Trying to keep things simple, I take advantage of the fact we humans are inherently religious. No matter what we are talking about, we frame it in a religious framework. Currently, the high priests, the bishops, and the popes, like Algore, tell us we are sinning by burning things, especially in our motor vehicles, and by eating (which is still burning). The alarmist religious leaders pretend we can be absolved if we drive unsafe tiny cars (and drive less) and if we eat unhealthy foods (meaning only plants grown in manure).

Of course, there are bigger sins, like coal, but that is a slow-motion effort that mostly hurts people directly involved in coal, and less coal does amount to less pollution to deal with for the rest of us.

Since essentially all of us are unwilling to repent of our sinful ways, the powers that be preach that “god” (Gaia, in this case) is punishing us with weather. All of what we used to call weather (which we admitted everyone talked about, but no one could do anything about) is now hailed as proof that we sinners must repent and stop burning anything and stop eating anything.

Again, we humans are going to continue eating. As we grow wealthier (in the developing nations) we will eat more meat. We will burn more fuel. That is the fact. It isn’t going to change. We will consume more and more energy (food is simply our tasty form of energy). It is inexorable. If you oppose it, you espouse death and slavery. Harsh? Not at all. The internalization of the fact that every individual has independent intrinsic value and the fact of the industrial revolution, specifically the burning of fossil fuels in productive industry, have been the significant factors in the reductions of slavery and death and abject poverty in the world.

I think that worth emphasizing: Understanding the worth of every individual as an independent good and the burning of fossil fuels are why things are better now than they were a century ago. We can step that back by century, still seeing progress for a few, but the same cannot be said of a couple millennia ago. Specifically, at that time, only the powerful were valued. All wealth was merely the effective use of enslavement. Life was dirty, brutish, and short unless you were powerful enough to use slaves. Restricting the use of energy, even fossil fuels, is turning to slavery and impoverishment.

The big picture is that energy is the single most important factor to the flourishing of humanity as a whole. Energy causally correlates to societal wellbeing.

Deficient engineers and bad politicians devised means of producing power without directly burning fossil fuels. These so-called renewables meet our religious need of blood sacrifice. These sacrificial altars kill insects by the millions, bats by the thousands, and rare birds by the hundreds continuously. These sacrificial altars provide us self-flagellation as well, at least for those forced to live within proximity. Eventually, the harm caused by renewables will be so self-evident that the religious leaders of environmentalism will turn the tables, and these will be the new sin. (Over and over for over 3,000 years, we have abandoned windmills. We will this time, too, and someone will have to clean up the mess.)

It cannot be over emphasized that the ready availability of energy as inexpensive, reliable electricity and fuel, is the essential requirement for a flourishing human society. It is globally and locally true. We must have more and more reliable energy availability. The alternative is death and slavery. It is harsh, but those are the cold equations (reference Tom Godwin).

Much of what we humans do is not life or death. Energy is.

Such notions as the “green new deal” deny reality and physics.

Such notions as socialism deny reality and human nature.

To deny reality is to invite death.

Is climate changing? Yes. It always has. It always will.

Is climate changing because of our consumption and burning? Is it because of the new sins of the new environmentalist religion? I can’t see that it matters. Climate has changed far more in the distant past than it can in the near future. I don’t think we can define climate in the near-term. I think climate must be defined over several generations. It isn’t useful to define climate in terms less than several centuries. Too many other factors affect all we are considering when looking at averages of various factors of weather.

I assert we are in no danger societally from any pending climate change. Our sins of burning are not going to kill us, and Gaia simply doesn’t care. Climate and earth will not kill us. (That big rock coming our way might, but we can’t say much about when.)

Teach your children the historical fact that fear and alarmism have never accomplished anything good and usually result in grave harm.

Bottom line: We must have more energy. It must be more readily available to all, and it must be reliable.

There is a clear and proven way to make more energy available in an environmentally responsible way, nuclear.

Nuclear fission power production is our only long-term option.

Repeating the bottom line: We must have more energy, and nuclear is the only realistic way to do it.

Ever heard that water is an incompressible fluid? Well, that is an approximation, and it is reasonable in freshman physics classes.

However, water compresses plenty. All matter will compress. An increase in pressure on the matter will compress it. This compression is work. This work is lost (used up) and unavailable for other purposes. The work typically heats the material, increasing its temperature.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had many arguments about this bit of oversimplification throughout my years. It is one of those situations where a little knowledge (an inadequate amount of knowledge) is dangerous. Fortunately, it is only the kind of danger that is annoying, not destructive.

My point is when we consider a hydraulic system, we generalize and simplify, and we say that a force acting on the water or hydraulic fluid within an enclosed system will act on all surfaces equally. Yes, kinda. Nature will not let you get away with the approximation.

Applying 1 pound-force on 10 in2 allows us to calculate 10 pound-force on a 1-in2 ram, but not all the 10 pounds-force is actually there on the ram. Some of it was lost in work compressing the fluid, and some more was lost in friction acting on the liquid moving through the ram channel to push against the 1-in2 ram.

Accountants make up all kinds of formulas and rules. Each has its purpose and use, and some are limited and not usable in all situations. No amount of accounting can eliminate cost incurred. Obfuscating it somewhere other than final price is sleight of hand.

When a petroleum company incurs cost, such as gross production or severance tax, and every other tax they incur, the petroleum company must account the cost, and somewhere, they must pay it. Revenues must be higher than costs, or the company goes bankrupt (and all the employees become unemployed). Sooner or later, in all circumstances, increasing costs, even gross production taxes, increase the price the petroleum company must charge in sales or fees.

Refiners will pay more. In turn, they must cover the costs with revenues, and the end result is a rise in the price every poor sod pays to fill his vehicle so he can get to work and feed his family. If fuel costs increase, and his paycheck doesn’t, he will have less with which to feed his family.

Real life, be it accounting or physics, never lets us get away with anything. Everything has its costs. To do anything, one must expend time and energy. For anything to happen, time and energy are used up. (That is the purpose of the universe, to use up all time and all enthalpy.)

We all know these things when we pay attention. Pay attention. One can never be so poor as to be unable to pay attention.

In physics, if work is done, it is used up. We have to get energy from somewhere again to do more (or just to do it again). The same goes for money and costs. If we had to pay it, it is gone. We have to get money from somewhere else, or we fail. In the world we live in, you and I, the end consumers, pay that extra money. It doesn’t come from anywhere but us (in general, the business owner, even an oil baron, is one of us; not so the government; they don’t make money; they only take it). Everywhere (like a bank or the government) that has money got it from us. We paid. To the bank, we hope we get more (in interest or intangibles) than we put on deposit. With the government, we can only hope they don’t waste it all, and we live in fear they will only keep coming for more.

I often disagree with specific points he makes, but I can never dismiss Mr. Kummer.

The FRED data indicates Kummer is on the right track, but the data hardly support his specifics.

First, we need more data and more thorough data. We also need to account for the effect of taxes. For practical purposes, taxes on the companies are simply taxes passed to the consumer, the laborer. (Government involvement distorts everything in many ways, which are often unnoticed. Taxes are direct government involvement and distortion. Even when problems get fixed, the government can change the rules or the taxes and foul it all up again.)

What Kummer presents is only a starting point. I will be rethinking my stance on private unions, but I’ve never been against private unions; I think they are too powerful, but that would seem a bad assumption. I do think they are more corrupt than can be useful. Unions have not held themselves and their leadership accountable.

I can’t change my stance on public unions. Public unions are inherently immoral. Public unions are against freedom. Public unions are inherently coercive. Coercion is evil. Public unions are wrong and should not be tolerated in a free society. For instance, government-school unions hold children as hostages, which is coercive and violent against parents and other taxpayers. One cannot justify such actions. One cannot justify such organizations.

As to the middle class, I’m not sure that is a valid notion. Still, much of the information in the article (and linked) is useful and can be used to build for a better future.

Group mentality, which too often degenerates into mob mentality, is a root problem. There is strength and there is safety in numbers, but the individual is the only group that matters in the long run. When we scapegoat and resort to coercion and violence, we are retreating from what is right and good. We must acknowledge each other as individuals and each with separate and worthy aims. Somehow we have to charitably work together to maximize the freedom and wellbeing of all.

Pointing out problems is easy. Finding solutions is hard. Avoiding coercion and violence is even harder. We must work together in ways that do not promote coercion and violence.

Source: What unions did for America. We should miss them. – Fabius Maximus website

(WordPress apparently no longer allows me to add categories. I get to chose from the ones I already have.)

All my life, as well as I can remember, supposed experts have been saying our deficit spending is going to bankrupt the country. Sooner or later that has to happen. If we don’t stop borrowing, eventually we will get past a point of no return. Will it be another 50 years? Longer? Shorter? The warnings I recall from the 70s were no less dire than today, with this article as an example. There is more data now; it looks bad. There is more inflation now, but for some reason, it doesn’t look bad. There are more growth and global trade now, and it is hard to tell how much that matters. Regardless, we are overspending and over-borrowing. Sooner or later, the bills come due. If we don’t reduce spending soon, the day of reckoning will be grim indeed.

Yes, I was paying attention 50 years ago. It is why it is hard to get excited about the latest alarm. I’ve heard it all before, and nobody else seems to remember. My cynicism has been acquired honestly, and its payment was (and is) extracted painfully.

Every step of the way, the role of government at all levels has increased. Every step has been made harder by that government involvement.

We need less government in every way.

The video at the end of the article is worth watching, in my opinion.

Source: The US Is Burying Young People and the Unborn Under a Mountain of Government Debt – Foundation for Economic Education

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