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Delicate Perfection

Maximally optimized systems are fragile systems.

Quoted from: NZC, a regular commenter at TJIC.

Post Style: 

Smokey Bear Wouldn’t Even Get Out of Bed

With the current President finally on the scene of the Transocean Horizon oil spill, expect increased hysteria from Big Media. Like this story from Christian Science Monitor (from last week when the explosion was breaking news):

Transocean Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion shows new risks

The dramatic oil rig explosion and fire aboard the Transocean Deepwater Horizon rig 50 miles off the Louisiana coast illustrates the growing risk for oil companies as they drill ever deeper into the earth's crust to satisfy domestic and international demand for fuel.


Another Choir to Join


Rick Webb: "The telephone was an aberration in human development. It was a 70 year or so period where for some reason humans decided it was socially acceptable to ring a loud bell in someone else's life and they were expected to come running, like dogs. This was the equivalent of thinking it was okay to walk into someone's living room and start shouting."

Oh sweet Jesus yes. I couldn't agree more.

Can I get an Amen!

How Rockwell Reduced Sinusoidal Repleneration

Here’s a fellow from Rockwell Industries who probably went on to join the Car Talk staff:

According to the folks at Maggie’s Farm, this was an off-the-cuff bit to test the sound levels before they shot the real video.

Landfill for Gaian Prayers

Recycling is one of the sacraments of the lefty/greenie religion. Sometimes, it is actually a good idea, too. Sippican offers an experiment to determine whether all that washing and sorting of your garbage is an act of faith or an exercise in reasoned stewardship of nature’s bounty:

I'll give you an experiment you can try at home, whether you're a raccoon or not. Strip the aluminum siding off your house, or the copper wiring, or steal a few manhole covers, or rip out all your copper plumbing, or cut all the steel fenders off your Prius. Go to the Yellow Pages and find a scrapyard and go there. They will weigh those items on a big scale for you. You don't even have to get out of your now fenderless vehicle. They'll weigh your vehicle coming in and out and calculate the difference. They will count money in your hand, because that stuff is worth money.

We’re Number One!

As righties and lefties argue about the merits of “drill, baby, drill”, the domestic energy industry has quietly been drilling here, now. For natural gas:

production hit a new record level in 2009, breaking the previous record set in 2008. The 2.2% increase in 2009 follows increases of 4.4% in 2008, 4.8% in 2007, and 0.33% in 2006, bringing last year's production to a level 12.2% above the output in 2006.

This surge in domestic natural gas production over the last three years has enabled the United States to overtake Russia as the world's No. 1 producer of natural gas, and is all due to advanced drilling methods now being used to drill for gas through a type of rock known as shale.


Cool Technology

A vintage ad from NRR’s left sidebar caught my eye:

1956 Philco Super Marketer refrigerator-freezer

From the ad copy, we learn that, in 1956, buying a week’s worth of food at one time and storing it at home was a new trend. It was clearly seen as a convenience to have all the food at hand. In the 50s, the big benefit was reducing the time spent making trips to the grocer. Today we might include saving the energy and pollution those trips generate, too.

This work-saving (and planet-saving) appliance, available in decorator colors, was priced at $229.95. In today’s dollars, that’s $1,852.89.


Gray is the New Green

After a decade or more of mainstream urging, I suggest that nearly everyone who wants to “go green” has done so. Or has at least started down a greener path.

Green messages may have reached a saturation point, becoming ubiquitous so we stop noticing them. There are still fortunes to be made—even outside subsidy capture—but green isn’t cutting-edge cool anymore.

So what’s next?

Going gray:

Forty years from now, one out of four Americans will be 65 or older.
Twenty million will be over 85.
One million will be over 100.

You Have No Excuse for Remaining Ignorant

If you’re reading this, you have access to the intertubes. Which also means you have access to this:

The web has made it easier than ever before to get a free education, and you'd join the ranks of great thinkers in history who were also self-taught, like Joseph Conrad, Albert Einstein, Alexander Graham Bell, Paul Allen, Agatha Christie and Ernest Hemingway. You, too, can be an autodidact; the breadth of free educational materials available online is absolutely astonishing.


Will Barry Go Nuclear?

In his State of the Union address last night, the current President repeated his vision for a “clean-energy economy” as a cornerstone to creating jobs. This time, Obama included something that many argue is not clean energy:

But to create more of these clean-energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives, and that means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country.


Either Way, You Get Your Dog Back

An item from last May:

Thousands of Americans are receiving federal stimulus checks in the mail, this week. Only problem: many of them are deceased.

The Social Security Administration, which sent out 52 million checks, said some of those checks mistakenly went to dead people because the agency had no record of their death. That amounts to between 8,000 and 10,000 checks for millions of dollars.

If Unicorn Care screws up your medical history and you die, at least you might still get your handout. A win-win, I guess.

Subject line reference.


Free-Market Regulation

Before the government became our collective nanny, insurance companies were primary defenders of our health and safety.

A house built to low standards, for example, would either be uninsurable or face premium surcharges. One might still build the shoddy house, but in case of fire, the loss would fall totally on the owner. And that owner would have to finance construction out-of-pocket, as no lender would make a loan against an uninsurable building.


Let’s Toast to His Memory

One of Iowa’s greatest sons has died. Usually we raise a glass in memory, but in this case, it seems more appropriate to toast with bread.

Norman Borlaug, the man who saved more human lives than anyone else in history, has died at age 95. Borlaug was the Father of the Green Revolution, the dramatic improvement in agricultural productivity that swept the globe in the 1960s.


Because We Can

I will likely never drive one, and almost certainly never own one, but I love that such things exist:

The Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

Bugatti Veryon Convertible

Shocking Ignorance

I first heard it from a landscape architect in a meeting about land use planning in the 55418. We were discussing the projected need for parking in commercial districts. The conclusion was that auto technology would evolve so that personal autos would always be a significant and vital means of transport, no matter the price of oil. As sort of an off-hand comment about electric cars, the architect said something like, “And I hear the cars will even sell power back to the electric company.”


Road Closed

I’ve dreamed of starting a car company. Around the turn of the millenium I needed a new ride, and wasn’t pleased with what my modest wealth would afford. For my budgeted $15K, I could choose something nicer than a pure econobox, but only the base model. Or I could pick the econobox in the highest trim level—chrome on a pig. I was looking for something in between. An efficient and reliable car, that could carry three friends around town, with a few luxury features like cruise control and a moon roof. Nobody offered one.


Obama Stabs Himself With Own Pen

The Keystone Kongress has sneaked another one past President Klink. Two days after Barry made headlines by reversing the previous administration’s restriction on embryonic stem cell funding, he unwittingly reversed himself:


The 747 Inside Your Computer

Seagate Technology makes computer hard drives. They sell over $11 billion worth of them each year. Inside each drive is a collection of platters that store information and an array of heads which read and write that information to the platters. Twenty percent of those heads are made in NRR’s core service area (in the suburb of Bloomington, MN).


Stem Cell Misperceptions

I’ve long been annoyed by lazy perceptions about stem cell research. Rhetoric and reporting tend to leave out important details. There are vital distinctions between embryonic cells and other stem cells. Taxpayer-funded research must be held to different standards than private research. Neo-neocon confronts the misperceptions in light of current events:


One Stereotype Smashed

Credit Default Swaps (CDS) are one of the financial instruments at the center of the financial maelstrom. I came across an interesting fact about them:

Blythe Masters made her career early on by recognizing the potential for credit derivatives, hedges that banks use to offset the risk of loan defaults. Despite her youth, she had enough gravitas to convince regulators around the world of the essential soundness of the little-known financial instruments.


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