Friday morning thoughts (and Open Thread)

The other day, Victorian posy of pansiesI wasn’t able to get to my desktop computer, which is where I write with ease and fluidity.  I was also was quite depressed that day.  Thinking about it, I told my sister that I wasn’t depressed because life is temporarily inconvenient.  I was depressed, instead, because I didn’t get my “writer’s high.”  For many years, I’ve kept myself buoyant through two endorphin-releasing activities:  martial arts and writing.  For the past six months, I’ve been unable to do martial arts, but I still had my writing.  When writing is also denied me, my endorphins vanish, and I get into a funk.  Just an hour at the computer is equal to several bowls of chocolate ice cream — without the calories.

And now to a variety of quick links that have come my way:

An artist in South Florida deliberately destroyed a 7,000 year old Chinese vase to protest the fact that the arts community in Miami isn’t paying enough attention to local artists.  If you’re like me, your first thought upon reading that story was “That man is just crazy.”  Well, if he’s crazy, so is Prince William.  Little Willy has announced that he wants to destroy the monarchy’s priceless 1,200 piece ivory collection to protest the illegal ivory trade.  He’s apparently unimpressed by the fact that these ivories span the centuries, meaning that they come from times long-predating modern environmentalism.  The combination of an appropriately Progressive education and a credulous, rather stupid father clearly has had its effect on the Prince’s reasoning skills and values.

One of my friends, upon hearing about Prince William’s proposal, had the perfect response:  “Perhaps he should also dismantle the monarchy since it has caused so many wars, slavery, and other human suffering. While he’s at it, why not return all the Egyptian treasures spread throughout London the monarchy looted?”

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Mark Steyn is representing himself in the case that Michael Mann — creator of the completely discredited hockey stick graph — has brought against him and against the National ReviewOne can argue that Steyn will find that there’s truth to the saying that “the man who represents himself has a fool for a lawyer.”  I’m not so sure.  In my experience, judges give an enormous amount of leeway to parties who appear on their own behalf.  The smart man representing himself may well be in a better position than the smart man trapped behind a mediocre attorney whose only virtue is that he’s affordable.

If Steyn’s answer and counter-claim is anything to go by, Steyn’s doing just fine.  He understands that the law is on his side.  This is a pure First Amendment case and doesn’t require complex legal analysis.  The only way to win is to make the facts come alive and to reveal Michael Mann for what he is:  a discredited scientist who has used shoddy research and false reports to make himself famous, and who now tries to cling to his dishonestly-won fame by bullying people through the legal system.

Not only does Steyn understand the necessary strategy, he’s taken advantage of his pro per status to write one of the most delightful pleadings I’ve ever seen.  My first drafts usually have the same puckish quality (although I lack Steyn’s wit, erudition, flair, and musicality), but I always take those bits out for fear the judge will think I’m making sport of him.  Steyn, however, is clearly, and deftly, making sport of Mann:

69. Denies the allegations in Paragraph Sixty-Nine of the Amended Complaint, and thinks we’re going round in circles here.

[snip]

111. Denies the allegations in Paragraph One-Hundred-And-Eleven of the Amended Complaint, and feels Plaintiff is going round like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a
wheel, like the circles that you find in the tree-rings of your mind.

[snip]

129. Plaintiff Michael Mann is a widely known figure in the scientific and public policy spheres of global warming research who has thrust himself into the politics of the
global warming debate by appearing in TV commercials for political candidates, writing newspaper columns regularly for The Guardian, The New York Times and others, serving as scientific advisor to and appearing in a climate-change TV series starring climate experts Matt Damon and Jessica Alba, and is therefore a public figure. In March 2012, Plaintiff published a book called The Hockey Stick And The Climate Wars: Dispatches From The Front Lines, the “front lines” presumably referring to his media appearances with Miss Alba et al.

[snip]

131. At the other end of the spectrum, Plaintiff and his counsel have issued demands that have no basis in law, as they well know – including the preposterous assertion, in response to a parody video by “Minnesotans for Global Warming”, that “Professor Mann’s likeness” is protected from parody and satire. (See attached letter from Plaintiff’s counsel.) Plaintiff has engaged in serial misrepresentation and false claims to authority, including (in his original Complaint against Defendant Steyn) purporting to be a Nobel Laureate and (in his current Complaint and elsewhere) purporting to have been exonerated by multiple investigations and by fellow scientists who have, in fact, pronounced Mann and his work “inappropriate”, “exaggerated”, “non-robust” and his defense of it “incorrect”. There is a smell to the hockey stick that, in Lady Macbeth’s words, “all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten” – nor all the investigations. And so Dr Mann has determined to sue it into respectability.

Speaking as a well-seasoned litigator, I wish I’d written that.

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At African-American Conservatives on Facebook, a picture that perfectly illustrates why I’ve had a problem with electric cars — and with the fact that Obama is using my money to fund them, all under the umbrella of “anthropogenic climate change”:

Dirty electrical cars

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The more I know about Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, the more I like him. And the more the Left knows about Walker, the more it fears him. I have a feeling all the fishing expeditions will come up empty. After the recall vote, all the dirt that can be dug probably has been dug.

allen-west-20101Speaking of presidential candidates, even my apolitical sister asked me, “Who’s going to be the Democrat nominee? Hillary? I don’t think she can win, and there doesn’t seem to be anyone else.” Exactly. I told her to keep an eye on Walker. I also really, really like Allen West, and I think he could make an Eisenhower-esque claim to having executive experience notwithstanding his lack of a governorship. He and Walker could be a very exciting President/Vice President package. I also have to admit to something of a girlish crush on West. I think he’s just amazingly good-looking. He looks so crisp and fresh.

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Proof that not all news anchors are just talking heads. These two, stuck without any audio, are really funny.

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Do we need to say again that true science is never settled? Or that stifling dissent is unscientific? Probably we do. We need to say it again and again and again until we are like the horns bringing down the walls of Jericho. And if someone’s going to be your trumpet, Charles Krauthammer is the Louis Armstrong of intelligent dissent.

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Every year in Laredo, something amazing happens:  on both sides of the border, people gather together to celebrate George Washington, but they do so with an exquisite Tejano twist.  As with the last Independent Lens documentary I wrote about, the documentary maker isn’t very good, but the subject matter transcends the production.

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Do you remember this creepy video, with elementary school children singing about the glories of the imagined hope that the Messiah Obama would bring to America? Well, someone’s updated it (h/t Sadie):

EPA hides fact that electric cars are indeed similar to a plastic-wrapped chunk of meat at the supermarket

A few weeks ago, I asked just how energy efficient electric cars really are because it seemed to me that, as is the case with pre-packaged meat at the supermarket, all the dirty stuff is happening behind the scenes:

People hostile to American consumerism (that would be the AGW/Green crowd), as well as vegetarians and PETA people (often the same people as the AGW/Green crowd), like to point out that Americans, by buying their meat neatly packaged at the grocery store can ignore the living, breathing animal behind that ready-to-cook slab of meat.  They can also ignore the slaughtering process, and the slicing and dicing that follows slaughter.  American consumers are also mercifully separated from the pollution that the whole meat industry creates, whether at the farm end or in the abattoir.

With that in mind, can someone explain to me cars that are entirely electric, such as the Chevy Volt or the Nissan Leaf.  Hybrid cars create their own electricity, but these 100% electric cars need to be plugged into an outlet, in exactly the same way as that energy sucking computer or electric dryer.

Sure the cars run clean at the car end, but aren’t they the car equivalent of packaged meat?  The electricity that powers them has to come from somewhere and, unless you can tell me otherwise, I’m assuming it comes from coal or fuel burning power plants.  Likewise, I understand that the process of making these cars’ batteries is pretty darn dirty, not to mention so expensive that the only way rich people can afford to buy them — or are willing to buy them — is with hefty government subsidies.

My question resulted in 151 comments arguing the pros and cons of electric cars.  One of the main things that came through in the discussion was that government interference hides real costs, both economic and environmental.  It turns out that the government may not just be interfering with real costs, it may be fudging them too:

The Green Machine is now exposing how the US Government can choose to create data that disobey the laws of thermodynamics so that the worthless government policy of favoring plug in vehicles over gas or diesel powered vehicles can be supported by the public. Yes the US EPA chooses to make 34.4% equal to 100%.

[snip]

The EPA allows plug in vehicle makers to claim an equivalent miles per gallon (MPG) based on the electricity powering the cars motors being 100% efficient. This implies the electric power is generated at the power station with 100% efficiency, is transmitted and distributed through thousands of miles of lines without any loss, is converted from AC to DC without any loss, and the charge discharge efficiency of the batteries on the vehicle is also 100%. Of course the second law of thermodynamics tells us all of these claims are poppycock and that losses of real energy will occur in each step of the supply chain of getting power to the wheels of a vehicle powered with an electric motor.

I started thinking about all of this last night when my wife asked me how the Honda Fit that is now available as an electric vehicle could get 118 MPG as the equivalent rating from the US EPA? I told my wife that was because the US EPA believes in Political Science and not Real Science and that I would investigate this claim for her. Well it is simple the US EPA uses a conversion factor of 33.7 kilowatt hours per gallon of gasoline to calculate the equivalent MPG of an electric vehicle.

Dr. Chu Chu of the Department of Entropy is instructing the EPA on thermodynamics in coming up with the 33.7 kwh per gallon. On a heating value of the fuel 33.7 kwh equals 114,984 BTUS which is indeed the lower heating value of gasoline. The fit needs 286 watt hours to travel a mile and the Green Machine agrees with this for the 2 cycle US EPA test with no heating, cooling or fast acceleration. Using this amount of energy per mile and the 33.7 kwh “contained” in a gallon of gas, the EPA calculates the Fit gets 118 MPG equivalent.

In other words, the government data about electric cards on which so many “greenies” rely, is hiding not only the cow, but also the cost of the feed, the environmental impact of the manure production, the ugliness of the slaughterhouse , the fuel used to ship meat to market, and the cost, waste and labor of packaging. Please be sure to read the whole Green Explored post here.

(Hat tip:  Breitbart)

UPDATE: Mike McDaniel, who is surely one of the most graceful writers in the blogosphere, has more — much more — on the Volt’s myriad hidden costs and on the Obama politics driving this government boondoggle.

Government perverts the marketplace, destroying true value analysis.

I have been following with interest the running comment thread on my post asking about whether electric cars are actually cleaner, or if they just shift pollution outside of the consumer’s view.  Very quickly, and probably inevitably, the post shifted to a cost-benefit analysis, which aimed to compare fossil fuel to alternative fuels.  Just as quickly, each side started accusing the other of hiding the real price of these energy sources behind government funding, whether in direct funds (alternative energy) or tax benefits (fossil fuels and alternative energy).

After reading everything, my question about the clean-air benefits of electric cars remains unanswered.  I don’t think anyone delivered a killing blow about electric cars’ virtues or failures.  What is patently clear, though, is that government interference perverts the marketplace, preventing a true analysis of each energy source’s true costs and, by extension, its true benefit in decreasing pollution.  It’s impossible to tell whether there wouldn’t be more utility in putting energy into clean methods for extracting, refining, and using fossil fuels, as opposed to having the government prop up the creation and use of alternative energy.  Only the marketplace can provide this true value analysis, and the government is completely corrupted the marketplace.

If I was king of the world, I would do away entirely with all direct or indirect subsidies.  Only in that way can we measure what really works.

Can someone explain electric cars to me? *UPDATED*

People hostile to American consumerism (that would be the AGW/Green crowd), as well as vegetarians and PETA people (often the same people as the AGW/Green crowd), like to point out that Americans, by buying their meat neatly packaged at the grocery store can ignore the living, breathing animal behind that ready-to-cook slab of meat.  They can also ignore the slaughtering process, and the slicing and dicing that follows slaughter.  American consumers are also mercifully separated from the pollution that the whole meat industry creates, whether at the farm end or in the abattoir.

With that in mind, can someone explain to me cars that are entirely electric, such as the Chevy Volt or the Nissan Leaf.  Hybrid cars create their own electricity, but these 100% electric cars need to be plugged into an outlet, in exactly the same way as that energy sucking computer or electric dryer.

Sure the cars run clean at the car end, but aren’t they the car equivalent of packaged meat?  The electricity that powers them has to come from somewhere and, unless you can tell me otherwise, I’m assuming it comes from coal or fuel burning power plants.  Likewise, I understand that the process of making these cars’ batteries is pretty darn dirty, not to mention so expensive that the only way rich people can afford to buy them — or are willing to buy them — is with hefty government subsidies.

So, what’s the difference between a Volt and a nice slab of this:


UPDATE: Having read everybody’s contributions, I’ve concluded that government machinations preclude an accurate answer to this question.