September 13th, 2007

#560: Yet more headlines

In no particular order....

Earth might survive sun's explosion.

This is king of the misleading headlines. The article discusses what will happen to Earth in 5 billion years when our sun becomes a red giant. It will do this, it is thought, when it has fused the majority of its hydrogen into helium.

But it's not an explosion.

You get a "nova" when, for example, one star orbits so closely to another that some mass is transferred from one to another, the mass accumulates, and then "flashes over". This is an "explosion".

You get a "supernova" when a supermassive star has run through the periodic table as far as iron. Every element on the periodic table, up to iron, releases energy when its atoms are fused together. Not iron; iron fusion consumes energy rather than releases it. When a star enters iron fusion (if it is massive enough to get that far) the star collapses and explodes, making as much energy as an entire galaxy for a very short time.

These are stellar explosions. The sun entering helium fusion and becoming a red giant is not.


This article on global warming contains no surprises for me. In fact, a lot of what it says are things I have been saying here since I wrote my first Atomic Fungus entry on global warming. (I think that's the first one.)


Ann Coulter deals with Democrats and their constant negativity vis-a-vis the war in Iraq. I love Ann Coulter.

#561: Oh, brilliant; just brilliant.

Colorado says it wants to reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide by 37% by 2020.
Colorado must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, the substances blamed for global warming, by roughly 37 percent in the next 13 years to protect its lands and citizens from the harmful effects of the warming trend, a powerful blue-ribbon panel said Wednesday.
Oh, God.

To do this, they've got soem big plans. They're going to "impose inverted rate structure on electricity users so that customers who use more, pay more. Use any extra money generated by higher rates to pay for more energy-efficiency programs." (Al Gore should be glad he doesn't live in Colorado.) They're going to conserve their way to success. They're going to invest in renewable energy. They're going to reduce overall energy usage by 1 percent "annually" by 2013. They're going to make companies report their emissions.

Oh, man.

"Impose inverted rate structure on electricity users so that customers who use more, pay more. Use any extra money generated by higher rates to pay for more energy-efficiency programs", they say. In other words, the State of Colorado is imposing a use tax on energy. If you use more power than the average person, you'll pay more for it; but the power company won't get that money--the government will. It's a "luxury tax" for electricity!

They're going to require that 24% of the state's electricity come from solar and wind power? Do they not understand the shortcomings of solar and wind power, or do they just not care that all the solar panels in the world are useless at night, that all the windmills on the planet don't produce so much as a single microwatt if there's no freaking wind blowing? When you want or need electricity, you want it now (if you don't believe me, go shut off the power to your house. Leave it off for two days. Then see if you've changed your mind). Solar and wind power sound very fine on paper, but when it comes to the generation of electricity in commercial quantities, they're worse than useless.

And what's this BS about "reduce overall energy use by 1 percent annually by 2013"? Reduce from where, by what, in what time frame? Reduce 1% from current levels by 2013? Reduce 1% per year, for a total of a 6% reduction, by 2013? Or what?

It takes energy to do things, and beyond eliminating waste there is not much you can do. Even the most efficient air conditioner still requires power to pump heat out of your house, and the only way you can reduce your energy use is to keep your house less cool. A heater still requires energy to pump into your house, and the only way to reduce its energy use is to keep your house less warm. (It gets pretty cold in Colorado, doesn't it?) It takes a certain amount of energy to move a car around and beyond certain measures you can't improve on that figure, not reasonably.

(Incidentally, will they also apply their "use more, pay more" tax to gasoline? I'd like to see how they manage that. Maybe they'll just levy huge license plate fees on bigger vehicles.)

They're going to increase ethanol production. Whoopee.

But the most pernicious quote is, I think, this one:
John Nielsen, who represented Western Resource Advocates on the panel, said Colorado should push as hard as it can to promote energy efficiency because it is the cheapest way to reduce CO2 emissions - much cheaper, for instance, than paying for new natural gas-fired power plants.

"Efficiency is simple," Nielsen said. "This is where we need to be aggressive."
Sure; it's really easy to make things happen when you aren't the one who has actually to do them.

"Efficiency is simple"? Which efficiency? The first 50%? The last 5%? Does this idiot even understand the magnitude of what he's saying? Has he never heard of the law of diminishing returns?

The average Chevrolet sedan manages about 32 MPG. This is with V6 engines, a lot of composite construction, and relatively light vehicles. To get to this point GM had to spend literal decades in R&D, learning how to make cars which performed well enough for the average American consumer yet which were lightweight, safe, and affordable.

For all of this, the average car self-destructs in a moderate-speed collision (say, 30 MPH) to the point of needing major repairs. In 1992, I hit another car at about 30 MPH in my 1991 Escort; the Escort was about 18 months old and it was totaled.

What do they have to do in order to get more efficiency? Honda had one answer when it came out with its first hybrid vehicle. But it cost $20,000--for a car smaller than a Civic (Honda's economy model)--and it got about 30% better fuel economy than other cars in its class according to the EPA rating.

You can build a car that gets 100 MPG...but few Americans would buy it unless they had no other choices.

Mr. Nielsen speaks as if power companies and citizens are wasting energy left and right, as if there weren't already economic consequences of wasting energy.

A power company must pay a certain amount of money in order to get fuel for its power plants, regardless of what they use. Doesn't it make sense for a power company to minimize its fuel costs?

But you can only take that so far. If you want to put a kilowatt of energy onto the power grid for consumption, you must burn enough coal to release more than that kilowatt, because no system is 100% efficient. When it comes to increasing efficiency, you must look at how much greater efficiency your money will buy: is it worth it to spend an extra $2 million per month on this or that technology? Will we be able to recoup the costs and--if so--how quickly? Is the extra efficiency necessary? If we spend the money, will the fuel savings be significant enough to matter?

You can build the cleanest, most efficient power plant ever conceived...but if you can't make a profit by selling the electricity it generates, it's worse than useless.

It makes sense to eliminate waste wherever possible...but only to a point, because once you've gotten there, you're wasting money.

And the real hell of all this--the real, central stupidity of it all!--is that we don't even know what man-made carbon dioxide has to do with global warming. We know the globe is about 0.6°C warmer than it was 107 years ago; we know that most of that warming occurred before 1940, and we don't know why. The data suggests that carbon dioxide levels trail, not lead, global temperature, but the correlation is only poorly understood and doesn't match the climate cycles nearly as well as the solar activity cycles do.

From here it looks to me as if Colorado is planning to screw up its economy with a load of snake-oil. What a pity.

#563: More stupid spam!


Allan gets his "Medz" from somewhere. Pity he doesn't get a spell checker.

Sheryl Broussard says I will notice an increase of up to 1/2 inch in the first month. Well, if I notice half an inch, how much is the actual increase? Is it more or less? How should I measure it?

No, I'm overthinking this one....

Fritz Hays ruins my self-esteem by saying that only one of their "sexy girl" wants to meet me. But the way that's written, I think they only have one "sexy girl" to begin with. And who decides how sexy she is, anyway? Reubens would have had to change his pants after meeting Roseanne Barr, but I'd run screaming.

Kelly Crenshaw doesn't believe in Vyag Rat and actually spells the name of the drug correctly. But I still don't want any. (Or need it, thanks.)

mico asks me if I'm "ready" for football season. Let me see: anime, check. Books, check. Computer with internet connection, check.

Loads of things which interest me a hell of a lot more than football does: check.

Irene Michael is Kelly Crenshaw's other e-mail account.

Attention, marilynlmurray: I Am Not Byron. I Own A Perfectly Serviceable Timex Watch ($45 At Target). By The Way, You Capitalize In A Very Stupid Fashion And I Suspect You Are A Total Fricking Idiot.

Gabrielle Nunez attempts to sell me penis enhancements by giving me an utterly boring anatomy lesson. Let me tell you something: men who are worried about the size of their equipment don't give a Vyag Rat's ass about how the thing works; they just want it to be bigger. And while we're on the subject, why the hell are women trying to sell me this shit? Is there some kind of conspiracy going on here? Is that why I never get dates--because someone thinks I'm "understaffed"? Is that the problem?

No, I'm overthinking this one, too.

Oh well.

#564: Anime Music

I've collected a lot of anime music over the last 13 years of my otaku career.

The top 2.5 rows of my CD cabinet, which is itself not small, are entirely anime. And I have a lot more of it stacked atop the thing--maybe two more rows' worth--because I needed room for my non-anime CD collection. Most of these are import CDs; stuff which was not, and never will be, released in the US. And I have many, many more CDs worth of anime music that I've downloaded from alt.binaries.sounds.anime, particularly things which are out of print.

But I have two or three 90-minute tapes which I filled with anime music the hard way: by taping opening and closing themes from the videotapes.

In 1994, you couldn't just go to the internet and order the soundtrack for Ranma 1/2 or Oh! My Goddess!. You could get some stuff via mail order or by going to conventions, but I didn't do cons then--no time--and mail order depended on finding places that did anime business, a non-trivial exercise then. So if I wanted to listen to anime music in the car, I had to make my own tapes.

The tapes included a lot of music I rarely hear now--the Ranma music, for one, but that's not all. The opening theme from the first season of Slayers. The MAPS OP. Lots and lots of other stuff.

I keep telling myself I have to get out the old videotapes and start watching them again--and digitizing all those songs--because it's all good stuff. Truth be told, I'm not even sure what I've got, now; I haven't even had the tapes out since October 2006, to dig out the Halloween anime.

If I am smart, what I will do this year is dump the Halloween anime to DVD as I watch it. Whatever one may say about DVDs, they are slightly more convenient than VHS cassettes are.

In fact, it would be wise to dump all my tapes to DVD, but that's a Herculean task since I have tapes coming out my ears. I collected a lot of anime before DVDs became commonplace.

In fact, I need to get a working laserdisk player so I can copy my laserdisk anime to DVD. How sad is that?

One of the most frustrating things about anime music is finding the TV-length OP and ED themes. For some reason, it never seems to occur to the people making the CDs to include them until the third or so CD--assuming the series is popular enough to get that far. For example, I have two of the Chobits OSTs, and neither has the TV-length OP.

Others put them on the first CD, though.

The OSTs for the Oh! My Goddess! OVAs have both full-length and TV-length OP and ED themes on them. But the full-length versions suck.

They suck because they contain bridges which are utterly out of place, which are just there to pad the length of the song and do not fit at all. I cringe when I hear them. It's not just that they're jarring and ruin the flow of the song; they're fucking stupid.

The You're Under Arrest! OVA OST suffers from the same malady, too. The TV-length OP and ED themes are awesome, but the full-length ones contain crappy bridges which ruin the songs for me...and the OST CD doesn't contain the TV-length ones.

I bought every Tenchi Muyo! OST CD I could find, hoping to find an audio track used in a couple of the OVAs; it was never included in any OST until a big box set came out some 5 years later. (I copied the track from a friend. 95% of the box set contained music I already owned.)

I am still trying to find a copy of the Laughing Target OST. In 1994 the four "Rumik World" titles--Mermaid Forest, Maris the Choujo, Laughing Target, and Fire Tripper--were all available, and of them I believe I have all the OSTs except the one I've wanted the most: Laughing Target. I downloaded most of Mermaid Forest from alt.binaries.sounds.anime but a couple files were incomplete, until I finally paid more for the CD than I have ever paid for one in my life. I got Fire Tripper from the newsgroup as well, and I don't really care about the Maris the Choujo OST. (Though I should; the ED theme contains the useful phrase, "bween bween bween".) But no one has the OST for Laughing Target. No one.

And of the Rumik World titles, by the way, both Laughing Target and Mermaid Forest are staples of my Halloween anime fest. People say that Laughing Target did not capture the manga all that well, but I disagree; I think it's a good adaptation.

In fact, what I really want from the Laughing Target OST is one track: the song that plays during Asuza's flashback, right before she slaughters the three tough guys in the warehouse, the one that shows her being traumatized as a little girl. That is the best piece of music in the show, and several times I have contemplated ripping the audio from the tape and to hell with the sound effects and dialogue. *sigh*

And I do that quite a lot, anyway. Out of the fansubs that I've been downloading and watching, I've ripped audio to MP3 and made CDs. Current favorites include the OP to Potemayo, Ichigo Mashimaro, and Hidamari Sketch. And they really sound good, too.

I guess old habits die hard. Only the technology changes.