Coal Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

01.31.08 | Permalink | Comments Off on Coal Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

A colleague forwarded an interesting Washington Post article and pro-coal propaganda site to us yesterday. Given that the coal industry (mining, transportation, and generation) represent an enormous slice of our economy and are being directly targeted with new coal plant construction being delayed or canceled, it’s not surprising that the industry is starting to fight back. Their use of statistics (accurate, but slanted) is effective. For instance, the “Facts Map” shows about California that 1.1% of California’s electricity comes from coal and that California has the 8th highest electricity prices in the US. Ohio by contrast, gets 87.2% of its power from coal and has the 23rd lowest electricity prices.

Map of Coal Facts

It’s worth visiting the America’s Power propaganda site simply to see the messaging. It’s true that 50% of our power comes from coal and we will be the first to support coal generation when it has the emissions of a geothermal plant. Until that time, we shouldn’t invest in more coal plants, we should invest in cleaner generation technology and retire (or retrofit existing plants) for substantially lower emissions.


Deadpool 2008: Giuliani Out

01.31.08 | Permalink | 1 Comment

And then there were seven. Yesterday Rudy pulled the plug on his campaign after his Custer stand in Florida failed. We now can say that this race isn’t about 9/11. This isn’t surprising as the race has really now shaped up to be McCain vs. Romney on the Republican side and Obama vs. Clinton. Who knows what Rudy will do now, but my guess is it involves TV where he’ll be able to drop “9/11” into conversations liberally…Still alive, on the Republican side: John McCain, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Ron Paul. On the Democratic side: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Mike Gravel.

Former Presidential Candidate Rudy Giuliani
Former Presidential Candidate Rudy Giuliani


Deadpool 2008: Edwards quits

01.30.08 | Permalink | Comments Off on Deadpool 2008: Edwards quits

CNN is reporting that Edwards is out. Given the early results, it was inevitable. Edwards will now perhaps find a way onto the ticket as a VP again, we’ll see. He hasn’t shown strongly in the Democratic campaign being overshadowed by Obama and Clinton. Good luck John, at least you’ve got a bunch of cash to cushion the blow… Still alive, on the Republican side: Mitt Romney, John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, and Rudy Giuliani (for now). On the Democratic side: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Mike Gravel.

Former Presidential Candidate John Edwards
Former Presidential Candidate John Edwards

Energy, Innovation

Another Wind Harvest Approach

01.30.08 | Permalink | Comments Off on Another Wind Harvest Approach

Back in December, 2006 we first wrote about SkySails, the company that wants shippers to return to the age of sail. Well, since that time they’ve grown up a bit and now have commercial product. The idea is simple, harness a large ship to a kite/sail with a large area (~600 m2) about 300 m above the surface where the winds are stronger and more consistent. The result? Up to 15% savings on fossil fuel consumption by letting the wind help out.

Watch the SkySail in Action


There was blood

01.29.08 | Permalink | 2 Comments

Sunday my spousal unit and I were able to enjoy a rare treat, a date complete with dinner and a movie. We ate a very reasonably priced curry at Masala in the Inner Sunset (9th Ave/Irving) – OK food, OK atmosphere, nothing spectacular. Then we took in the latest Daniel Day-Lewis vehicle, There Will Be Blood. After having a little time to think about the film, I’m not quite sure what to say about it other than it was well made, well performed, and despite a slow start, compelling in the way that one can’t look away from a car wreck. One thing I couldn’t stand about it was the music, it seemed to be composed by an overly dramatic Philip Glass wannabe.

If you’re planning on seeing the film, don’t read any further. SPOILER ALERT.

OK, so you’ve seen the film or you’re not going to see it and you wanted to hear a little more. I thought the most interesting aspect of the story (other than the obvious blood/oil/drinking theme) related to the relationship between Plainview and Elijah, the self-proclaimed prophet and healer. It was clear from the start that Plainview would do whatever was required to access the oil and equally clear was his disdain for the religious “performances” staged by Elijah.

After Plainview’s son was injured as the well blew out the subtle conflict between the two erupted into physical confrontation that would escalate throughout the movie with the scene in the oil field, the church when Plainview is blackmailed into “salvation” to get his pipeline route, and in the ultimate scene when Plainview breaks Elijah mentally, spiritually, and physically in his home.

The scene that sticks with me is Plainview requiring Elijah to shout “I am a false prophet and god is a superstition.” It’s clear that Elijah comes to realize this during the confrontation and he can’t even take that false notion to his grave. Any other thoughts about this film from my esteemed reader community?

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