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Coal needs to die, but it doesn’t need to be killed

by Crowhill on 29 August 2016

Solar power sounds like such a wonderful thing. You just put out a billion panels and, hey presto, you have all the energy you need. There’s no need to dig coal or burn oil or any of that. Wouldn’t it be nice?

Unless you want power at night, I suppose, or on a cloudy day. But nevermind about that. And don’t worry about the materials required to make the panels in the first place, or the problems with disposing of the nasty chemicals they use. Those are all irrelevant details that deniers cling to, along with their guns and Bibles.

The only thing standing in the way of this grand and glorious solar future is the recalcitrance of evil energy companies, their lobbyists and their bought and paid for politicians. They insist on digging dirty coal even though clean, fairie- and kitten-approved solar is cheaper. Those dirty rats.

So in order to promote solar we need to kill coal and force those dastardly energy guys to do the right thing. Then children will dance and sing, and dogs and cats will get along.

Or so some seem to believe.

Despite my snarky tone here, I’m actually a big fan of solar energy — for applications where it makes sense. And I hope that advances in battery technology will broader its usefulness. We’re not there yet, but solar’s future is looking better. Right now it’s a niche, marginal thing.

What bothers me the most about the solar activists is that they want to destroy a functional, working system (e.g., coal) in the hope that will propel solar into the mainstream.

That is madness.

Once solar becomes all the wonderful things that the activists say it is, it will replace coal just like coal replaced wood and cars replaced horses. Not because the government tried to destroy the wood or the horse industries. Just because the newer technology was better.

Coal needs to die, but it needs to die because something better replaces it in a market-driven, free economy.

 ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-08-29  ::  Crowhill

Does Pokemon Go expand our concept of “real presence”?

by Crowhill on 29 August 2016

I usually avoid theology on this blog, but an experience on vacation last week grabbed my attention.

We were driving through a parking lot and two of my kids asked me to go in a different direction so they could capture a Pokemon, which was about a hundred yards away.

Pokemon Go, as you’re probably aware, is a funny mix of the real and the virtual. The game relies on your physical location.

So … “where” was this Pokemon?

In once sense it was nowhere, because it’s just a fictional construct. In another sense it was in the cloud — a series of ones and zeroes on the network of computers that control the game. But in another sense it was in a parking lot on Merritt Island near the Walmart.

Where was it “really”? I don’t know how to answer that question.

Our natural perception of reality — that there are physical things in certain spaces at certain times — is very useful and appropriate, but might not actually be correct, at least in some respects. We make distinctions, for example, between matter and energy, but that may be a false distinction. There are theories that everything is energy. And if you want to go a little further into the weird, there are not unreasonable theories that we are living in a hologram.

After you read a little modern physics, you begin to suspect that “reality” is a pretty strange thing.

For most people, the idea that Jesus is “really present” in the consecrated host strikes them as pretty doggone odd, especially when you say that his body is present. What can that mean? His body is either in the ground, or decayed into a million pieces, or in heaven or … something like that, but certainly not in this wafer in this church on the other side of the planet.

I’m not taking any sides here, and obviously I’m not saying that Jesus is a Pokemon, but I am saying that new technologies and new ideas in physics are going to challenge our concept of “real” and “present” in a way that may make strange ideas seem not so strange any more.

 ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-08-29  ::  Crowhill

Is “she throws like a girl” insulting to all girls?

by Crowhill on 26 August 2016

Many (but not all) girls throw a certain (weird) way, because learning to throw well usually isn’t a big priority for girls. Boys who haven’t been taught how to throw sometimes throw the same way (and are then ridiculed for “throwing like a girl”). (Oh no, is that “throw shaming”?)

Obviously there are some girls who throw very well, and some boys who don’t, but generally speaking, boys are more likely to throw well. That’s simply the way it is.

I know this is going to be hard to believe, but some women take offense at the saying.

I don’t think it’s insulting at all. Stereotypes are just generalities, and there’s nothing insulting about recognizing them. Women who find such a saying insulting are being petty and thin-skinned, IMO. But I am a proud Neanderthal about such things. What do you homo sapiens think?

12 comments  ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-08-26  ::  Crowhill

Ambition on steroids

by Crowhill on 25 August 2016

I was just reading about the court order to release even more Clinton emails, and my overwhelming reaction was, “why put up with this?”

Whether you’re sane and believe Hillary is a power-hungry crook, or delusional and think she’s being hounded unfairly by a right-wing conspiracy, you have to marvel at her determination to keep going. The woman has drive.

1 comment  ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-08-25  ::  Crowhill

No, the right is not winning the culture wars

by Crowhill on 19 August 2016

Jim Geraghty has what he himself admits is a crazy theory, that the right is winning the culture wars.

But all he shows is that we’re not going to Hell in a handbasket quite as fast as some people want. Which is really the essence of the modern “conservative” movement. “Yeah, okay, but less and slower.”

13 comments  ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-08-19  ::  Crowhill

Hillary’s coronation is likely, but not certain

by Crowhill on 19 August 2016

Regular readers know that I went out on a limb and predicted that Hillary would not only not be president, but wouldn’t even get the nomination. That prediction was mostly based on two assumptions.

  • That there is still something almost like justice in this country, and Hillary would be held accountable for her clearly illegal handling of her emails.
  • That Hillary is such an awful candidate that even Democrats would sour on her.

I was wrong on both counts for the same basic reason. The system is rigged. Laws are only for the little people, and the Clintons have done such a good job laying the groundwork for her run this time that nobody else had a chance. That despite the fact that Hillary Clinton is an extremely unlikeable person.

But there is still a ways to go, and a lot can happen before election day to spoil her coronation. I think the most likely thing is a health issue, but there are other events / revelations that could get in her way.

I don’t say these things in support of Trump. While I reject the ridiculous anti-Trump rhetoric of the left, I don’t like the guy and I don’t want him to be president. If I didn’t live where I do I might agonize over who I will vote for. But in reliably blue Maryland it hardly makes a difference.

7 comments  ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-08-19  ::  Crowhill

If you’re not reading Scott Adams …

by Crowhill on 17 August 2016

… you should be.

I watched Clinton surrogates on CNN criticize Trump’s speech, and their criticisms were mostly these two:

1. All of Trump’s foreign policy ideas are crazy and uninformed.

2. Obama is already wisely doing all of those same things.

That would seem absurd in any other context. But keep in mind that we voters believe we can assess foreign policy ideas by listening to biased liars talk on television. So the entire situation is ridiculous, but we play along.

Trump’s Foreign Policy Speech

 ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-08-17  ::  Crowhill

Ideologically driven data, “studies” and political rhetoric

by Crowhill on 17 August 2016

This morning on CSPAN radio I listened to a portion of a Heritage Foundation seminar on the Gingrich-Clinton welfare reform in the 90s. The part I heard addressed some recent claim that while welfare reform did move some people toward work, it hurt the very poor who, it’s been claimed, have to live on $2/day.

The panelists said these claims are based on income studies where people on public assistance report how much money they have received over a certain period of time. According to the guys from Heritage, the data from these studies is pretty much useless because when you compare people’s reported income with their reported spending, there’s a huge discrepancy. E.g., people are spending $5 for every $1 they allegedly get as income, and a relatively large number of people report no income at all. So how are they buying these things?

People underreport their income, these guys claim, and fail to report as income many of the benefits they receive, like food stamps and such.

After one of the presentations, somebody asked if the people promoting the $2/day story are lying or stupid — which seemed like an apt question.

I don’t know who has their facts right and who doesn’t, but I know with dead certainty that people twist and bend and spin the facts to promote their agenda. It’s usually a question of who is twisting the most.

This thing about welfare reform is just one example of a trend we see all the time — that both sides can present seemingly compelling cases and claim that their position is “fact-based.” That’s always in the back of my mind when I read political memes, or when I hear politicians talk about how their programs did such and so, or how housing or jobs or crime or whatever went from X to Y.

I don’t believe most of it, and I think the public is starting to tune it out as well. It’s not the boy who cried wolf, it’s the expert who cried yes, followed by the expert who yelled no, followed by ….

The public’s refusal to get on board with “fact-based” policies frustrates the heck out of the media because they are living under the delusion that there are accessible facts that resolve these questions one way or another. No, Trump can’t possibly build the wall and make Mexico pay for it (or yes, he actually can). Yes, Hillary can pay for free college (or no, she really can’t). “Experts” have resolved the issue and enlightened people will follow the “fact-based” policies!!

And those rubes — those idiots — that is, the general public — they can’t understand the plain facts, even when the media darlings patiently explain them using small words.

What the media doesn’t realize is that the public is smarter than the media gives them credit for, just not in a way the media credits. The elite find it hilarioius that so many people can’t name the country that borders us to the south, or whether it was Hillary or Trump who said X or Y, and in their mind that proves the people are idiots. And … of course it does with respect to general knowledge.

Just remember, as my son reminded me last night, when you think about how stupid the average person is, fully half of them are stupider than that.

But facts and policy details aren’t the whole story, and they really can’t be. It would take a lot of work to dig through all the he said / she said on any given policy question to have any decent assurance you knew the truth of the matter, and most people don’t have time to do that for even one issue, let alone the dozens of issues that we (allegedly) vote on.

I’m a decently well-informed guy, but I don’t know and really can’t know whether policy A will yield result 1 or 2, and people who think they do know those things are almost always kidding themselves.

This is why things like “morning in America” or “keep hope alive” are so powerful. They get past the arguments about facts and speak to vision.

Being a leader isn’t a matter of explaining all the details of your campaign. It’s about giving a vision of the task ahead, and how great it will be to achieve it.

9 comments  ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-08-17  ::  Crowhill

Let’s import people who don’t believe in democracy and pretend things will be just fine

by Crowhill on 16 August 2016

Things are so crazy these days that sometimes it’s hard for me to take seriously the garbage people say and, apparently, believe. What people say about immigration is a case in point.

To illustrate how crazy things have become, imagine there were only two countries in the world: Democracyland and Islamoland.

Democracyland has a system of government that’s based on clearly delineated powers that are limited, dispersed broadly among groups with different interests, with a series of checks and balances. Government power is generally distrusted, and is considered to derive its authority from the consent of the governed, who have the right to change it when it no longer suits them. The people in Democracyland believe in this form of government.

Islamoland is ruled by religious fanatics who take their marching orders from the Koran, which they believe is the ultimate source of law because it flows straight from the mouth of God. As a secondary authority they rely on the hadith because it recounts the words and actions of Muhammad, who was a violent, crazy person. The people in Islamoland respect power and believe in it, and they don’t believe in voting except as a means to impose sharia law. But voting is kinda tame stuff for them and they usually take over new areas through violence.

Why would the people in Democracyland allow anyone from Islamoland to even enter their country without first renouncing the insane stuff the people in Islamoland believe?

Obviously I have exaggerated the situation. Not everyone in America believes in our form of government, and not everyone in Islamic countries believes in their system. But a lot do, and in a system where people have the ability to change the government, why would you import people who don’t share your values? A few, maybe. But certainly not very many of them.

2 comments  ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-08-16  ::  Crowhill

The headline writer’s dilemma

by Crowhill on 15 August 2016

Shall I call attention to Michael Phelps, because he (as the most medaled Olympic athlete ever) gets clicks, which gets page views, which sells advertising, which pays my salary … or, shall I call attention to the gold medal accomplishment of Ledecky so the feminists won’t take offense? Hmmm.


1 comment  ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-08-15  ::  Crowhill

2016-08-09 :: Crowhill // General
Feminism is so exhausting
2016-08-04 :: Crowhill // General
Sorry for the down time
2016-08-04 :: Crowhill // General
The charming mafia boss
+ 1 comment