Political spam

I've been out of touch for a long time. An update is greatly overdue.

In the meantime, here are a couple of political spams that are timely, so they won't wait. I am on lots of political spam (i.e. click this link to send message X) lists, and I actually respond to maybe half of them (because lots of things that liberals support are frankly soft-headed). I rarely forward them, though, or post them because they are large in number and relatively low impact.

But things are different right now. Not only is there a new sheriff in town, but there's this stimulus bill. The quality of this bill is going to have a lot of impact on how, or if, the US recovers from the Bush years. In particular, I think it is essential that the bill be no more short-term focused than absolutely necessary to avert disaster, and that it make substantial commitments to long-term investments in energy and infrastructure.

To those who complain that a stimulus bill should be focused on the immediate disaster, I answer that they are fixated on the lesser threat -- of economic dislocation -- in the short term and failing to see the much bigger and long-term threat of a country that has lost its ability to produce things of actual value to itself and the rest of the world. In my mind, the current crisis is the first installment in that unfolding disaster. It's been a long time in making, so it will require long-term investments to counter.

That said, please sign this petition to show support for renewable energy in the stimulus bill:

And if you're just pissed off and want to see a few of the people got us into this mess suffer a long with the rest of us, encourage Congress to make RETROACTIVE the pay limits for executives at financial companies that take taxpayer bailouts:

Drill, baby, drill

The 2030 Challenge website has a great graphic that puts the whole offshore oil discussion in perspective:

That Page also points out that replacing the world's fossil fuel use with nuclear power would require the construction of about 13,000 new nuclear plants, conservatively estimated to cost $77 Trillion. Of course, the gross world product is only $65T.

A Fire in the Sky

SpaceX succeeds where Rotary Rockets failed: The first orbital flight by a privately funded rocket. On the other hand, they're doing two stages, rather than single stage to orbit, although their first stage is reusable. More to the point, they're founded and funded by Elon Musk, the founder of Paypal. They've got 550 employees -- Rotary never broke 100 even at its peak. As they say, you gotta have the bucks if you want the Buck Rogers.

A victory!

Monsanto is selling off their rBGH product. This is an indication, I think, that the use of "performance enhancing drugs" is losing its grip in the dairy industry in the face of rising public resistance. (It is also, of course, a reflection of the fact that being a drug pusher to the dairy industry isn't nearly as profitable as owning the intellectual property rights on the world's seed supply.) But it's also good news because whoever buys the rights to the product (assuming such a sucker can be found) will probably not have Monsanto's resources supressing resistance to their product.

a new way to grow rice?

This Cornell prof has a technique for growing rice that he says can double (or more) yields while using alot less water and less seed. Pretty cool, if it works. I am a bit skeptical: humans have been growing rice for an awfully long time, and if improvements of this order were available, you would think that someone would have figured it out in the last 4000 years. But the principles behind the technique are sound, so it probably works at least reasonably well.

Cheaper LED lights?

This sounds promising: these guys figured out how to make a practical LED on silicon, rather than on sapphire. Much cheaper that way. Also, this should let us produce much larger LED, since making and handling big silicon wafers is something that industry knows how to do.