Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday Mad Science

It’s been an interesting week for Asian propaganda.  

By far my favorite piece was that bit from North Korea, but also worth noting was China’s Foreign Minister’s response to reports that his country has been engaged in cyberespionage.
“Anyone who tries to fabricate or piece together a sensational story to serve a political motive will not be able to blacken the name of others nor whitewash themselves,” he said.
 “I would like to be clear that this team, this defend-the-nation team, is not a defensive team.  This is an offensive team that the Defense Department would use to defend the nation if it were attacked in cyberspace. Thirteen of the teams that we’re creating are for that mission alone.”
So, bottom line, you put one of ours in the hospital, we’re putting two of yours in the morgue.
The kids these days are being taught environmentalism in school, and while I think that’s great, and I’d personally be ecstatic if we could come up with a way to engineer society so that we’re not so dependent on constantly consuming resources in order to re-allocate future resources, the reality is that there’s just no free chicken.  Fact is, we have lots of electronic and computer-driven gizmos, and half the economy is at this point either built on either developing more or selling more of the ones that we already have.  And yeah, I love me some electronic gizmos, but they do use power, and their batteries are highly imperfect and not nearly efficient when measured in engineering terms, and in the meantime, we still have to feed juice into all these things.
And it don’t look like renewable are gonna get us there, based mostly on the fact that they’re totally unpredictable.  In the words of the NYT:
Many environmentalists believe that wind and solar power can be scaled to meet the rising demand, especially if coupled with aggressive efforts to cut waste. But a lot of energy analysts have crunched the numbers and concluded that today’s renewables, important as they are, cannot get us even halfway there.
Well, that is the truth.  And yeah, it leaves us with a Hell of a challenge going forward.  
I’ve heard tell that the future is the hydrogen economy, with nuclear power and natural gas as the primary sources between now and then, but it’s hard to see how energy companies are going to extract hydrogen from either natural gas or sea water without expending more energy in the process than they are ultimately making available to consumers.  And if the process isn’t efficient at a basic level, then I don’t see how it’s going to help.
But maybe that’s just me.
Rep. Paul Ryan proposed a budget this week that’s relatively light on defense spending.  That’s notable not only because it provides a potential compromise point in the nation’s current budget negotiations, but also because it represents a sea change in Republican economic policy.
The biggest take-away from this for me is that Republican budget hawks in Congress are starting to show their true colors—they care more about controlling spending than about continuous expansion of Defense spending.  I say that without judgment beyond noting that I’ve always thought that many of the Republicans in Congress secretly (or not so secretly) wanted to go over the Fiscal Cliff—or wanted, at least, to see the sequestered spending cuts enacted—primarily because that gave them a fig leaf behind which to propose serious cuts to Defense spending in the first place.  Now with $90+ billion already cut from current spending, these guys are in a position to negotiate—without either cutting current spending or requiring further revenue for Defense.
As I say that, I should point out that I’m trying to stay positive on the budget outlook and on the nation’s economy in general.  So this is me hoping that common sense and compromise can win the day after years of wackiness and stubborn-hearted intransigence. 


And on that note, I think I'll close it up.

Long ride tomorrow!  Have a good weekend.

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