atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#2562: Vital resources

Rare earth metals are vital to our economy and China has slashed its export quotas of them.

The article is full of a lot of bad reporting, though. For one thing, when discussing the hazards of mining rare earths, it talks about "occasionally unearthing dirt that is radioactive".

All dirt is radioactive, to one degree or another. There's a lot of uranium and thorium in soil.

The other thing: "The high costs and damaging techniques pushed most rare earth mines out of business in the early 1990s." The sentence is missing three words: "of environmental regulations". Tuck that phrase after "high costs". (Bonus points: cut "and damaging techniques" from it.)

It tries to make mining for rare earths sound like it's especially dirty, but all mining and smelting operations are toxic. There's a nickel mine in Nevada (I think it's Nevada) where the soil is so heavily contaminated with heavy metals nothing will grow there.

China's managed to become the dominant supplier of rare earths because the commisars don't care about the environment or the health of its workers. China can mine and smelt the stuff and just let all the crap go into the air, water, and soil; sure, it means that a bunch of people get cadmium and mercury and arsenic in their rice (beyond trace amounts, I mean) but the elites of the Communist Party don't have to worry about that. Party elites get richer and live better, and China has a few million fewer proles to worry about. (I mean, after all, they have a population problem there! What's a few million when you've got 1.1 billion people?)

But since China's going to drastically reduce its exports of rare earth metals, it means the supply of cheap metals is drying up. That makes mining them in the US into a more economically sound proposition.

...but there'll still be a transition period, where the world supply of rare earth metals is limited; and that'll drive up prices. So for the next couple of years, companies which need things made with rare-earth metals are going to be struggling--and that means less hiring.

See where this is going?

* * *

As always, feminists get what they want, and then bitch about it.

Nowhere does the article discuss how the marriage contract has been skewed in favor of women to the detriment of men. If you get married, she can divorce you at any time for any reason, and the divorce court will give her half what you own and alimony to boot. If you had a kid before the divorce, she'll get child support until the kid is 18, and the court doesn't care if that doesn't leave you enough money to live on.

Naturally men are going to avoid this kind of crap.

* * *

Monopoly played with house rules. Expanding money supply leads to inflation; cutting the same money supply leads to depression. Welcome to Economics 101.

* * *

I'm linking to this Ace of Spades post because of the first part, about how music sales have declined.

I don't know that piracy is really that big of a reason. I think the biggest problem the music industry faces is that THEIR PRODUCT IS SHIT.

Every once in a while I hear a song done by Ray Charles or Bing Crosby or any of a hundred other musical greats, and I realize, "This guy sang this song without AutoTune or tone correction." Musicians also didn't have MIDI or drum machines; think about that the next time you listen to an old song with drums: repetetive beat that the drummer is performing had to be done by hand, in real time, as an analog tape recorder ran.

To be a successful musician, you actually had to be able to perform.

Not so these days. Popular music is generated in a computer. If your singer hits a wrong note, or sings an entire song half a tone flat, you don't need to redo the take; just budget for tone correction instead. The music itself only needs to be programmed once via MIDI; after that, no one ever has to touch an instrument.

So what happens? You get talentless hacks who succeed because of marketing. So-and-so can't sing worth a shit, and he can't play an instrument, but he can talk fast and rhyme words and dance, and our talent scout liked his performance at some club, so we'll make him a big rap star.

What is happening to the recording industry is, in fact, economics at work. Their product is shit and--more importantly--bands no longer need the recording industry, thanks to the Internet. Bands can self-promote and keep all the proceeds of CD and merchandise sales; a guy working in his basement can produce a professional-level product in his spare time.

(Like this guy, a friend of the Fungus.)

* * *

Man, I slept too much.

Yesterday I made pot roast (not well, unfortunately, but edible) and did not do much else. I'd be up for a while, then go back to bed, then get up, then sleep more, blah blah blah.

I learned that when you're going to put a chunk of meat into a crock pot of turkey broth and let it simmer all day, you can put the vegetables (potatos and carrots) in at the same time; they won't turn to mush. I had arranged things such that dinner was to be around 6; I put the potatos and carrots in at 3, and they weren't done in time. After I ate I put the heat back on and let them go until 11 PM, at which point they were finally done.

I've been thinking about making corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick's day with the crock pot--throw in a hunk of corned beef, potatos and carrots and cabbage, and let it stew all day. I never used to like corned beef; now I do. Oh well.

Noticing that I have frozen bratwurst and two cans of sauerkraut, I think I'm going to try baking the brats in the kraut: just get a casserole dish and put down a bed of the kraut, then add brats and more kraut until it's full. Then add some beer, cover with foil, and bake at 350 for half an hour or so. Ought to be tasty.

* * *

I'm really not all that happy about anything right now. Well, it's not surprising--Friday sucked.

Saturday was all right, though I hated having to leave the party early, as it were. Og has the particulars; Cafe Borgia sounds like a nice place but I can't justify spending $50 on a meal when I've got no income. It's not anyone's fault; it's just how it is. What can you do? I certainly am not going to expect anyone to pick up my tab.

There'll be other opportunities.

Anyway, Sunday I spent alternating between comatose and kitchen, and started reading Building Harlequin's Moon, which is a collaboration between Larry Niven and one Brenda Cooper. do you get to collaborate with Larry Niven on a novel? I'm pretty sure that would help me a lot....

Anyway the story is not-bad. It's clear that 90% of the writing was done by Cooper, because I'm not seeing many of Niven's stylistic cues in the story. (Example: In recent years Niven has developed a tendency to have people address others with their names in a clunky fashion rather than insert dialogue tags. "'Sigmund, I don't know.'" rather than "'I don't know,' Billy said.")

Well, it's the last book I bought from Borders. I went there on Thursday, before going to the range, hoping to score Kimi ni Todoke #7; of course they didn't have it. They did have Strawberry 100% #12, which was the next book in that series that I wanted; so I got that and the Niven-Cooper collabo, and got out of there for (barely) under $20.

Then, on Friday, I got an e-mail saying they were going to have a 20% off "closing" sale. Argh. That's the story of my life. Anyway, since the place is closing and I can't justify going back for more books, it seems safe to say that I won't be buying any more books there.

Anyway, once I get going on the basement, I'm going to be finding all my other books, and I'll have plenty of stuff to reread.

I have an entire box of Mangajin I want to reread; it was a magazine which was devoted to Japanese language and culture, and it used comics to teach Japanese grammar. It was pretty neat, and it's where I first learned about Maison Ikkoku and Yawara!.

One of those issues mentions a manga series about a guy who turns into a girl. One day he wakes up female, and stays that way; it sounded interesting but I can't remember the title. Apparently it was a pretty popular series; someone might have scanlated it--and I could find out if I had the title of the stupid thing.

But cleaning the basement is a big job; and of course I haven't had anything else to worry about these past few weeks....

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