September 30, 2005

Rev Up Those Fuel Cells

Posted by TMLutas

It seems that the cost of splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen for fuel cell use has just dropped by a significant degree Instead of 2000C, water only has to be heated to a temperature of 1000C. This means that we'll be able to significantly lower the cost of cracking hydrogen via its most plentiful, easily handled source, water. Everybody who has been complaining about how hydrogen is too expensive to use as a storage medium for energy just got sent back to the blackboard.

HT: Worldchanging

Memo to Self

Posted by TMLutas

If you're going to forward a new employee's extension to his cell phone, tell him first. I think I just surprised somebody.

On second thought, you should insert a "I'm transferring to Xs cell phone" too. I was surprised as well to not get voice mail.

September 28, 2005

Abortion News

Posted by TMLutas

Arkansas Abortion clinic offers free abortions for hurricane evacuees. Women and minorities most affected.

September 26, 2005

Serenity Now!

Posted by TMLutas

Serenity is a feature film that's been reworked from a very promising TV series, Firefly, that died a premature death from boneheaded executive groupthink.

The movie blurb is below:

Joss Whedon, the Oscar® - and Emmy - nominated writer/director responsible for the worldwide television phenomena of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE, ANGEL and FIREFLY, now applies his trademark compassion and wit to a small band of galactic outcasts 500 years in the future in his feature film directorial debut, Serenity. The film centers around Captain Malcolm Reynolds, a hardened veteran (on the losing side) of a galactic civil war, who now ekes out a living pulling off small crimes and transport-for-hire aboard his ship, Serenity. He leads a small, eclectic crew who are the closest thing he has left to family –squabbling, insubordinate and undyingly loyal.

What's really neat about the project (beyond that it's likely going to be a good time had by all) is that it's shaping up to be a major event in the development of media transmittal. It's a rarity for TV series to go to the big screen after so few shows aired (the closest I can think of is the original Star Trek and that took decades after its much longer run). As far as I know, this is the first time that bloggers have been invited as members of the press to review the movie. It's a very gutsy move and they're not going to be able to spin this one if the movie turns out to be badly executed. The show in Chicago runs on the 27th and blogs have enough collective media heft to make or break this thing.

I can't wait to see how it all turns out.

September 23, 2005

Sometimes You Don't Want it Back

Posted by TMLutas

Thanks (sort of) to Good Morning Silicon Valley I have a nasty image stuck in my head.

Romanians are very inventive...
...even the thieves...
...especially the thieves.

Personal Political beliefs

Posted by TMLutas

I found this over at Balloon Juice. Here are my results.

You are a

Social Liberal
(60% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(80% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid Free Online Dating

September 15, 2005

Pot Head's Delight

Posted by TMLutas

I hold in my hands a box marked Vosges Haute Chocolat. It houses (or housed, more accurately) a Woolloomooloo Bar. Listed ingredients are:
roasted & salted macadamia nuts
Indonesian cocnut
hemp seed
milk chocolate

The hemp seed is the reason the post bears its title. Hemp is a cousin of marijuana and it contains minute (non-intoxicating) quantities of THC, which is what drug tests pick up when they test for marijuana. It's expensive, but not as expensive as a failed drug test for employment.

I wonder when the first lawsuits are going to start to fly for wrongful denial of employment.

MSM Decomposition Recipe

Posted by TMLutas

James Pinkerton gets the tactical moment right in his metanalysis of the MSM assault on President Bush. I think he doesn't quite get the MSM's vulnerability

So is there any hope for the administration? And, more to point, for a fair and balanced media? And for a limited government to go with it?

Sure there's hope, for two reasons:

First, the MSM is still shrinking. It hasn't disappeared yet, and it may never go extinct, but new players continue to crowd into the marketplace, including Google News and now, even more dramatically, Yahoo!

Second, libertarians and conservatives have proven that they can win arguments, even in such touchy areas as race and poverty. There's a reason Republicans have won seven of the ten presidential elections since Lyndon Johnson launched the Great Society. So by all means, let's compare the domestic ideas of the national Republicans to those of the national Democrats -- letalone the New Orleans Democrats. Let's put Rudy Giuliani up against Ray Nagin, and see which approach the country prefers.

The missed point is why is the MSM shrinking? It isn't new entrants. They only exist because there is unmet demand. If the MSM was on its game properly, it'd be able to fight back the new entrants and buy out the marginal successes after their venture owners tired of being in the asterisks of market share.

The MSM is shrinking because every time after they pull a fast one on the people, a few percentage points more people get fed up with it and seriously look for alternatives. A few percent more that were already looking settle on alternatives to add to their mix. A few percent more that already have alternative news sources just turn off the MSM as not worth the time and the effort to sort the wheat from the chaff anymore. Most deadly, a few percent more people start viewing those who depend on MSM news with contempt for being led around by the nose.

It's that last group that is the most deadly because it sets up a counterculture enforcement mechanism that speeds the transfer of consumers of MSM away from those outlet. Even the least political, least observant person around can understand a sudden chill in a group conversation and the raised eyebrows that go with an incredulous "you watch/listen/read that?".

This is industry suicide and very demonstrably contrary to shareholders' interest. I do wonder when the shareholders will realize it in an actionable fashion and stop the political activity that is tanking their investments.

September 09, 2005

Judicial WW III Was Always Coming

Posted by TMLutas

John Hindraker opines:

If President Bush nominates another strong conservative to replace O'Connor, the result will be the political equivalent of World War III. Liberal interest groups will face an existential crisis if they do not fight bitterly to keep the Court's current ideological makeup. Win or lose, they have no choice but to make the effort to oppose Bush's second nominee. And, unfortunately for Republicans, it appears likely that any conservative jurist whom Bush may appoint will give the Democrats more ammunition than John Roberts did. So be prepared for the ugliest, most bitter confirmation battle in a generation.

No matter how well Bush plays the tactics of nomination. It is, and always was, inevitable that the Democrat party would play obstructionist whenever it faced the serious prospect of losing its last bastion of federal power, the split US Supreme Court which so often still rules as they like even after so many Republican appointees.

Excuses would have been made, reputations would have been libeled, people would, and possibly will, perjure themselves to launch nomination killing accusations that cannot easily be disproved. I agree with Hindraker that it's going to be ugly. It always was.

September 06, 2005

They're Full

Posted by TMLutas

I love this country.

When my wife called up to get the "more details" promised late last week for her to go for hurricane relief, she was told that they have plenty of volunteers to staff all positions already.

There are going to be dozens of federal medical camps (from memory, 40), a hundred and fifty people staffing each one and field teams in rougher conditions, and they're all full based on people coming in from closer to the disaster areas and already displaced doctors signing on for duty.

September 05, 2005

Saddam's Legacy

Posted by TMLutas

After the Oil for Palaces scandal, reading articles like this lead me to just one question. Who has Tehran bought in the FRG government?

Germany, Russia's key ally in Europe, threw its weight behind Moscow's call, saying Iran's talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency watchdog and European negotiators were key to ending the stand-off.

"The Iran negotiations are not yet a topic for the Security Council, rather the negotiations should be revived," said Wolfgang Gerhardt, Germany's most likely next foreign minister after the September 18 election.

Is it honest opinion, or is it paid for by bribes under the table? This, ultimately, is the cost of the international community's acceptance of Saddam's dirty money. Saddam has really narrowed the space that the social democrat left has to differentiate themselves from the center-right as well as the EU to differentiate itself from the US.

Any significant internal dissension in the West will, for the near future at least, raise questions about its sincerity. The worst is yet to come. The vast center has not heard all the details of how corrupt the international political scene became and the dots have not been linked in a way that makes it perfectly clear. What Baghdad did, Tehran could do and might, in fact, be doing right now.

HT: The Dignified Rant


Posted by TMLutas

I've been posting elsewhere on Katrina because I don't want to fall too deeply into the finger pointing blame game. This is a time when we should be pulling together as a nation. For too many of us, this has not happened.

Personally, I'm getting ready to defend the home front for the next few weeks. Tomorrow, we should be getting enough information to figure out whether things are organized enough for my wife to go answer a call for doctors to help with hurricane relief and start the mammoth job of reassembling the patient files of entire US cities. There's a huge spike in medical demand right now just because of the record destruction, not to mention the increase of actual medical problems. Starting from scratch isn't an impossible task, or even a really difficult one. It's just very time consuming. New patient appointments always pay more than returning patients because they are just more work.

We long ago decided that one stays sane and the other can go and try for the brass ring. It's her turn and if JC Nationwide can swing the logistics, she'll push back her medical practice opening in order to take care of some people in trouble on the Gulf Coast. After all, they need doctors more than network administrators.

The logistics of moving doctors in for an operation like this is huge. You normally can't write a prescription for penicillin if you don't have a state license. Federal projects are one of the exceptions for that. The issue of malpractice suits is another worry. People are likely to be in a litigious mood and the "where were you two days ago" attitude is tailor made for trial lawyer exploitation and massive lawsuits. This doesn't even start to cover the issue of how your normal malpractice carrier tends to freak out if you practice "naked" in another state especially if you're not licensed there.

If things go massively wrong and we get hung out to dry on a lawsuit, the extra cost on our malpractice policy during the next three years could sink us. Malpractice rates shoot up when you're sued and shoot up even more if you're found culpable. If things are physically safe enough, I want her to follow her heart and go anyway. That's what we mean by solidarity and the only way to really teach it is to live it. We have three children. We have to teach it.

September 02, 2005

Get $50 a Barrel Oil, Today

Posted by TMLutas

You can buy $50 a barrel oil today. There's just one catch. It's in the PRC. The PRC is forcing a $20 per barrel domestic subsidy on fuel. It's completely unsustainable. There are gasoline shortages. Refiners are threatening the government. There are strong worries about civil unrest if fuel prices rise to market levels. There are strong worries about civil unrest if fuel shortages persist.

In short, it's a complete mess, unsustainable over the long run, and a good candidate for the reason which will eventually take down the PRC's ruling party. For those of us who remember President Carter, the gas lines and unhappy people are pretty much what we all expect but it's been 25 years and a lot of people don't remember the '70s as something they personally experienced. Now they can get cheap gas in the PRC along with long lines, closed stations, and very angry people. And to think, yesterday I listened to Michael Savage actually call for gasoline price controls.

God save us from idiots and worse.

September 01, 2005

New Orleans

Posted by TMLutas

I don't know what to say to help New Orleans but I've got a blog and no excuse not to say something. Give what you can to Catholic Charities, that's a start. They do good work and are going to need the extra cash. They not only do the emergencies but also the hard, long slog that constitutes the road to recovery.

We're not ready, we're still not ready to deal with losing a city all these years after we started thinking about it on 9/11/2001. New Orleans isn't the worst that could have happened. It's a light reminder of a darker nightmare and we, americans without hyphenation or faction, weren't ready. There will be a next time. We should do better.

There is good news and bad, hope and fear in this disaster and I'm sure I'll mine it for further articles as soon as the sickness in my heart lets my thoughts out without too much emotion. So far, all I've had up to this point is unpublishable. Prayer, grief, and donations, that's all I can do right now and I hate myself for not being able to do more.

A product of BruceR and Jantar Mantar Communications, and affiliated contributors. Opinions expressed within are in no way the responsibility of anyone's employers or facilitating agencies and should by rights be taken as nothing more than one person's half-informed viewpoint on the world.

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