Friday, November 28, 2014

When food rots for oil and coal company profits.

I bet you didn't know that wheat, corn, soybeans and milo are stuck in the great plains instead of on their way to markets and foreign buyers.  Oh, why?
Because oh dear uninformed one.  Coal and tar sand oil is buying up the intervals/capacity on the railroads.  Tar sand oil from Canada and shale oil from the Dakotas has the money to buy it.  Rail capacity is dependent on crossings and rail yard timings, these are the chokepoints.  You can only run so many trains over some of these nodes.

Well China has been buying less coal for the last few months, and maybe, just maybe the drop in oil price will slow the movement of these very expensive and low profit oils.  I don't think people realize what it means, we are shutting off our food supply to move fossil fuel around.

Replace dirty energy fuels with wind and solar and we can move our grain to market again, and the dangerous side effect will be clean air and lower energy prices.  Wind is cheaper energy than coal.

Monday, November 24, 2014

new NBC peacock

Technically that would be a peahen.

Wisconsin raised your rates $84 a yr, thats a lot of cheese.

Capitalism at it's best!  Utilities are government regulated monopolies, never forget that. They may be investor or private owned business like we are suppose to revere, but it's anything but a free market, and above all it wants to prevent a free market.

Wisconsin just approved a monthly fixed charge increase (some call it a connection charge) from $9 to $16 a month.  Also they approved lowering the price per kilowatt used, and (there's more) increasing the fee if you have a solar panel and lowering the price they will pay you for excess energy they take off your investment into self reliance and energy security.  Why all this raising and lowering at the same time?

This is to punish people who find ways to keep their own money through conservation, energy efficient bulbs and appliances.  So, if your an old guy on a fixed income and found a way to send less to the power company, they just said "fuck you old fart you now owe us more than you been saving with your LED's, ha!
This shift from charging what you use to a charge for just being alive has another target, wind farms. The lowest cost energy you can get now is new wind farms.  But by lowering the Kwh rate it makes them "look" a little higher than they were, it doesn't change that coal and nukes are even higher but this is to take a little shine off.  If winds lower charges are now a smaller percent of your overall bill then they will be less likely to lower the total won't they?   So, a little accounting trick, ha!
Then there is the tax on solar.  That's is what the Arizona, Utah and Nevada libertarian party calls these utility charges they stick on you if they spot a solar panel or you ask for a net metering connection.  This is to make solar unattractive, because at the moment home owned solar is less than utility supplied power.  I say use the libertarian argument, the sun that falls on my house is mine, and legislators should not be preventing competition or working for government regulated monopolies against home owners.
What can you do if these rate structures visit your wallet?  It doesn't change the main fact, you can keep more of your money from Mr. Monopoly utility by conserving - an 11 watt bulb (yesterdays 60) will still pay for it's self in a couple of years, after that you save.  Next time you buy a TV get the energy stingy one, my new TV (first in 15 years) uses $7 of energy a year (at 5 hr/day), some use 3 times that and cost the same.  A architect friend of mine says you can wire part of your house as stand alone, run your solar panel/battery back-up to those rooms alone, they are off the grid, screw'm.

Wisconsin today, your state tomorrow.  ALEC and the Utilities lobbies are behind this, to prevent a free market in energy, to empty your wallet, to keep us tied to fossil fuels. Oh, and if I lived in Wisconsin, I would be in front of my state legislator asking him why he thinks my sun shine belongs to the power company, and I would be shopping for insulation, a water heater jacket, and more LED bulbs.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


China if you only knew

Tired of hearing that China will cheat on the agreement made with the US on curbing pollution?  Worried China is untrustworthy?

In the words of an Italian business associate of mine, “OK, now I splain you”.  

Damn near everything in Ace Hardware to WallMart is made in China.  It got here by negotiated contracts, delivery deadlines, and guess what, it made it on time, they did what they were suppose to.  They did the same thing for Boeing and Airbus, they supply major components to both.  From McDonalds to my local farm co-op selling grain to them, there is no trustworthy issue.  They do what they agree to.

This CO2 target is good business for China.  A good percentage of solar power products and some wind power hardware come from China. Since the announcement India has indicated it will get onboard too, and Denmark already a convert announced it will go all the way to 100% green in a few years.  All this means an increase in the production of these products and falling prices through economy of scale.  Lower cost renewable energy will lower the cost of manufacturing and living in China.  Already at an advantage this is going to make them even more competitive.  It will drive down prices for all of us.

If you have seen the pictures of pollution in China, and read how much farm land is polluted from intense fallout and run-off from manufacturers and power plants there is no question, even an authoritarian government has to say stop, lives are being shortened and importantly it is embarrassing the hell out of them when the business world beats a path to China and comes home with a smog hangover and sore throat. They don’t like it, it’s all about saving face.

So, I say they are trustworthy on this agreement, it makes good business sense for them, and they have to do it for the health of the nation.  The exact numbers are not important, suffice it to say they will be installing thousands of wind turbines, and millions of rooftop panels and PV farms.  They are still building a coal plant a week, but this will taper off soon, and already they are closing some of their dirtiest oldest plants, resulting in a benefit if somewhat muted.  Last month they announced a $6 a ton on coal imports to drive up cost to impose efficiency.  Other things done recently (at least in some areas) carbon trading market, higher electric rates for the wealthy, local officials get promotion points if energy use goes down and air quality goes up in their region.

China is hacking us, bullying in the Pacific, spying, making counterfit products, kind of like a lot of nations did, or are.  But saving money through a new kind of energy economy is something they understand, the numbers and approach vary, but it will happen, and if it causes clean air then hey that’s a good deal.  And since their air pollution blows all the way to our west coast, it seems like encouraging them is a net good to us. 

And there’s still one more over arching reason to do this, national security through energy self reliance, that is China’s unstated and maybe most important goal.  And why isn’t it ours?  Self-reliance through fossil fuel is never possible, 60 years of claims elect me to fix it proves it can’t be done.  Like China we should be jumping all over Obama’s goal.  Screw the politics and oil wars.  But the GOP will try to kill this agreement.  All over the world in the last 2 weeks other countries are saying or hinting at getting on board, all but Putin’s Russia.  Is that the partner the GOP wants in their fight to kill clean energy, Putin?  Really?

Did you ever have this dream?

Another one I have is it's the last week of school and I just found out I had a class I never went to, and the final's are - - TOMORROW!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Corporatocracy! I hope you like it.

Yesterday, the House voted 229-191 to pass H.R. 1422, which would change the rules for appointing members to the Science Advisory Board (SAB), a group that gives scientific advice to the EPA Administrator.
This bill prohibits scientist from talking about their own research or work.  It also changes who is eligible to be on the SAB, Experts of Industry and Corporations would be eligible to serve, and in fact scientist who have used government grants to do work will be ineligible to serve.  
If this becomes law, industry will control the EPA.  Science is censored and cut out.
Welcome to a corporatocracy

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Here is why so many cops are pissed off

Ever wonder why so many police are out of control?  Lead poisoning.  Ever wonder why so many gun nuts are so radical and excitable? Lead poisoning.  The source are the indoor shooting ranges.  Blood tests reveal police across the nation have high levels of lead in their blood, as do employees at shooting ranges, and visitors to indoor sites.
Lead leads to poor decision making skills and aggression, lower levels of intelligence, and life shortening diseases.
When a gun is fired, it sheds gasses and dust laden with lead, indoors it lingers airborne settles on everything in the building, including skin, lungs, clothes, hair, shoes, and it goes home with the shooter dosing their home and family.

Play it safe, never shake hands with a member of the NRA

ALEC looses 6 biggies in the last few weeks.

Koch and ebay is still there, google "cut ties with ALEC" to see a surprisingly big list that left ALEC the last 3 years.  Those that give a reason almost always list climate denial and gun support as their main reason.  ALEC if you don't know is a group that writes laws and hands them out to states and cities then buys votes to pass them.  The laws are always to benefit corporations, polluters, and the rich.

How much plastic surgery does it take

to have a horses ass?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Yea, you could say that, I'm excited to see ya.

Tell your farmer uncle look at this

All your Republican relatives living on those soybean farms or cattle ranches will want to know how much solar energy can save farmers, and protect them from local power failures.  And it's not a hippie magazine that did the study and wrote it.
The link direct to the article is below, it wouldn't link, so copy/paste it.

Friday, November 14, 2014

China just insured us of falling energy prices

 A few days ago China and the US agreed to improving the environment, and thus the climate.  Clean air is good, keeping glaciers on the mountains is good.  But the right is pissed, war on coal and all that, some on the left says it is to weak, some of both says it will let China cheat.

Here's why it is good, really really a good deal for everyone.  Lower prices.  Yes, much lower prices, prices that will undercut oil, coal, natural gas, nuclear.  Why, how?   Well for starters the newest wind turbines are already the lowest form of energy and home solar is already lower than retail utility, and it's now sometimes competitive in solar farm wholesale situations too.  But with the economy of scale in the production wave coming our way to meet the goals of this agreement, prices will fall, a lot.  China may or may not meet the exact numbers of their goals but they are already dwarfing everyone else in their clean energy growth rate.  Add to that, last week they changed their electric rates, the rich, or people in a mansions or fancy apartment, or a company that makes a lot of money, your energy rates just went up.  They want even the rich to turn off the lights.  Also they just added a $6 a ton import duty on most coal to drive up costs at plants to stimulate conservation.

Then today, India announces they will stop importing coal in 3 years or less.  This is a stunner for Australia, their supplier.  Instead they will boost their own mines but mostly launch a giant wind and solar growth plan.
A sad note, in the US black lung suddenly jumped to numbers not seen since the 1970's.  Mines are cheating on their safety and health requirements, and no one is doing a damn thing about it, fines go unpaid, the Senate and Congress stand up for these bastards.  The industry will blow down a whole mountain ruining the community and wilderness, it will do little to prevent it's men from getting black lung, it's an industry that does not deserve to prosper.

Back to that war on coal thing.  It's actually a war on smoke, not coal.  You should know the laws gave each state a target to clean up air.  The utilities can buy scrubbers, and wind and solar, geo-thermal, what ever it takes to meet the standards, including closing coal fired plants if they don't want to install smokestack scrubbers.  These scrubbers are a product, industry here makes them, installs them, it's a business, it creates good jobs, and electric rates only go up a few pennys a month for each of us, don't listen to this shit about millions or billions it costs us, it lets you create jobs for a few cents, and you get clean air too. If they want they can still burn their beloved coal.

NPR had 3 full time reporters covering the environment.  Last week they cut it to 1 who can work on it 1/2 his time.  Lets see, I seem to remember that as Bush 43 left office they demanded for npr to keep it's support they had to let a right winger head up NPR.  Talk about a sleeper cell of terrorist.

Fracking cost me money now

About 5 years ago oil and gas companies started fracking about 45 miles southeast of here.  About 4 years ago we started having earthquakes.  Wednesday we had a real boat ride, lots of rocking, I was getting an eye exam and the doors were slamming and the fat ladies working there were moaning and holding on.  It was in the mid 4's, 4.6 I think.  In the fracking area bricks fell off some buildings, here no damage.

This morning I called the insurance agent and added earthquake coverage.  It's currently only a few dollars a year, but he said they may yank the rate higher if the shaking continues.  So, now fracking actually costs me something.  My expenses and risks (still a big deductable on masonry damage) go up so a few oil guys can get rich.

Kansas Gov. Brownback early this year set up a 3 man panel to see if fracking and the earthquakes are related since they started in the same place at the same time. 2 oilmen and a geologist that spent his life working for an oil company were his picks.  "Probably not related, no solid evidence, it's just a random thing" said Pope Brownback of the report.  Breaking up the stoney arches and layers under our feet is like going under your house and shattering the foundation, things are going to sag, fall, settle, slip, crack, shake, your not going to like it.   Unrelated?  Like sugar and obesity!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Things going on around here.

It was cool yesterday afternoon, I got out and mowed the yard before dinner.  Really nice out.  Yellow leaves from 5 100ft+ cottonwoods near the house mulched nicely under the old mower, a few red leaves out front from a neighbors maple.  My maple has not changed yet, still green as are some of the mulberries, hackberries.  The redbuds are about half green leaves and half yellow with some falling.  The elms and dogwoods still green, the walnuts turned yellow long ago and are almost bare.  The grass is dry so I turned the well on this morning and the fescue looks greener already, sprinklers still running and the wind came up to 22mph blowing water all over the yard, a few late robins are running through the mist.

So far we haven't had a frost, it's really late in the year to be frost free here.  I need to put some oil on my wooden deck floor, I did the rails already.  I don't want to do it when it's under 50°f, the oil won't soak in good enough, I don't want it drying laying on the surface.  It's suppose to get up into the 50's for a couple hours but I think I'll wait for a day when it will get warmer and stay up for several hours.

I am struggling with my latest sculpture, a full sized realistic and accurate bust of Hermann Hesse, 17" tall, author of Steppenwolf, Sidhartha, Glass Bead Game, If the War Goes On. In Sidhartha a young man leaves on a life long journey seeking spirituality and self and in the end he finds it, one of my favorite books, set in the time of the Buddha, it's one of my favorite books and with his other books was widely read in the 1960's.   Hermann fled Germany with his Jewish wife and was given citizenship in Switzerland just before the war.  He has a wrinkled forehead that has given me fits.  I have put the wrinkles on and scraped them off 5 times.  Plus I made one of the best mouths of all time, it looked like it could talk, only to see later it was too far forward compared to his nose and chin, my tutor cut it off, I couldn't do it, the new mouth is in the right place now, it's well done, but it doesn't have that look, it's not as good, and messing with it is dangerous, I don't want to do the 5 times forehead wrinkles routine on the mans lips.

The wife is lurking around with projects in mind, something is about to happen I can feel it.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Robertson of 700 club tells their listeners invest in oil stocks, it's biblical

A few days ago I found an article about the life of fracked oil and gas wells.  Thousands of the 1.1 million active wells in the US are fracked, leading to the industry boasting of energy independence.  Don't get your hopes up that fossil fuel can do that.  Fracked wells have a terrible habit of dying young.  Within 2 years the (national) average well production falls about 50%, within another couple of years the output becomes uneconomical which means re-frack or cap.  At this rate the industry needs to replace over 1/4 the fracked wells a year to maintain current output.  The payback may fall short over time at this rate if oil prices fall further, and natural gas prices don't rise faster.  Seeing your investment wiped out due to charlatans advice and greed, well that's biblical.
Your fathers oil wells produced for at least 5 years, most lasted decades with a few approaching a century.  Why the change?  In dad's day, they were going after the easy to recover oil and gas, now we are into the expensive hard to get at era.  We need to leave it lay, nature put it where it wouldn't hurt us, and gave us wind and sunshine.  Next time you see an add about energy independence, watch to see how much they talk about renewables, more efficient lighting and transport, energy stingy standards for homes and appliances, energy efficient industrial equipment, - these things will get us to energy independence quicker than any other method.