atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,
atomic_fungus
atomic_fungus

#2942: F is it cold in here

Inside temp is 65° at noon, and all the windows have been closed since yesterday afternoon. What the hell is up with that?

Someone tell me again that "global warming" will lead to colder temperatures. *rolleyes*

Of course, it's obvious why it's so freaking cold now: I have a motorcycle I'd like to ride, and I don't have $40,000 worth of riding gear to protect me from cold temperatures. The gear I have is adequate to keep me warm down to about 60° (think "wind chill") but if it's much colder than that I'm freezing as I ride.

Anyway, I had to turn the freakin' heat on to get it up to a reasonable temperature in here. An indoor air temp of 65° is too cold for me; even if I layer up in sweaters and stuff I freeze.

Projected high for today: 59°. Current temp: 57°. I checked the outside temp before turning on the heater, but there was no joy there, so on went the heat. *sigh*

* * *

Oh, THIS explains it. Al Gore's Bore-a-Thon is happening right now, and it's September, which is too early for snow in most parts of the US. So it's just cold.

Gore Effect FTW!

Meanwhile, The Concensus Crumbles."

* * *

I steadfastly refuse to listen to the Darth Vader "NNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" take from the impending BD release of SW, but I did listen to the "Ben Kenobi gets a hummer" clip.

...

It doesn't even sound remotely like it's coming from Alec Guinness. It sounds like it's coming from someone in his twenties. Further, instead of sounding odd and otherworldly it just sounds like a guy cheering a spectacular touchdown at a football game (while getting a hummer).

But of course this more closely matches Lucas' "original vision", right?

Dear George: this kind of shit is why I still watch the damn movies on videotape.

* * *

Is the Obama administration engaging in pay-for-play? Solyndra, now LightSquared--this is the kind of thing that breaks an administration.

* * *

Union goon gets arrested for union good activity. This is related to the longshoreman union which held six security guards hostage while cutting train brake hoses and opening grain car dump hatches.

"...workers have been repairing the train over the weekend, and it should be ready to leave the terminal this week, BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas said." Do you know how much money it costs to have a train stuck in a terminal for a week?

Being in a union and being "frustrated" does not give you carte blanche to break the law, even when a lot of you are doing it.

* * *

DOOM!

China's going to start selling off US treasuries. This is bad for us.

Electric cars are a bad idea. I disagree; they're a good idea...assuming we can fix a few minor problems:

1) The power grid can't deliver enough electricity to charge a million electric cars.

2) Most of our power is generated by burning fossil fuels, meaning we will only move the source of pollution.

3) Electricity costs too much.

4) Battery technology is insufficient to the task.

The article makes many of these same points, in less pithy form. I want to examine them in a little greater detail, though.

1) Our electrical infrastructure is pretty old. Think about how old houses had one 20-amp line for the whole house and you understand why; what we have works fine. The power demands of the average house have not increased significantly since the 1980s, and as consumer devices become more advanced they require less power.

But if everyone's plugging in their car for an overnight charge every night....

2) If your electricity is generated by burning fossil fuels, the typical electric car generates about one ton of CO2 less than its gasoline-fueled counterpart over its lifetime. This savings is due entirely to the economy of scale--bigger is more efficient--but if you're going electric to save the planet, you might as well not bother.

3) The article cites a figure of $0.11 per kilowatt, which is optimistic. Absent any new capacity going on-line that figure is not going to go down, either. If you suddenly add a few million electric cars to the grid, electricity will go up in price without a concomitant increase in production. Laws of Supply and Demand--they work, bitches.

4) The best battery we have stores a minor fraction of the eqivalent volume of gasoline, and it takes hours to recharge.

The thing about electricity is, it's convenient. Think about this: you can build a machine which exerts tons of force yet is controlled with a single pushbutton because electricity is so easily controlled. To someone from the 18th century it would seem like magic: lift a little lever and the room is brightly lit, without having to strike a single match.

The same outlet that can run your light bulb can run power tools, a TV, a computer--all kinds of things--yet if you don't need to use it, you can leave it open because nothing will leak out.

It's clean--once you get past the messy business of generating it, anyway. You don't have to put an exhaust hose on your computer.

It's efficient. Electric motors are a mature technology, and just about everything else we do with electricity (save heating) has a pretty good efficiency. Lay your hand on the electric motor that turns the fan blades; it's warm but not hot (unless there's something wrong with it). That warmth is waste heat, impossible to avoid, but compare that waste heat to what you get from an internal combustion engine.

Electric cars are a fine idea but without certain changes to our energy economy they're going to remain impractical at best.

...still think that the 1950s vision of nuclear power being "too cheap to meter" is the way to go, here. If you want people to switch to electric cars, that's what you'll have to do: make electricity so damn cheap that nothing else makes sense.

Make it so cheap that stores can afford to fill their parking lots with charging stations for electric cars, the way some coffee shops have free WiFi. Make it so cheap that municipalities can line their streets with combination charge stations and parking meters, and charge for the electricity instead of the parking.

An electric car would do for about 90% of most peoples' daily lives. Commuters would still need gasoline; people like Og would still need it for their jobs and plenty of folks wouldn't want to change--but fossil fuel use would plummet because most people would stop using it, because electricity is free and gasoline isn't.

(Not "free", of course. You'd pay a monthly subscription fee for your electricity. The utility company would still make money hand-over-fist because the power would be incredibly cheap to generate. Most of your subscription fee would cover maintaining the delivery system.)

* * *

Therapy today, and not a moment too soon, but I've got to hit the shower! Off I go.
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