Friday, May 16, 2014

Five Things on a Friday: The Future is Now!

There was a bunch of stuff in the news early this week that I personally found very interesting, especially this first article on energy storage.  New York State is moving towards a new model of energy delivery, and the process is both experimental and fascinating.  I'd love to get into the engineering aspects of some of this stuff, but for better or worse, I think that's outside the scope of the blog.  Still, the issues are worth watching nationally because if the experiment works, it'll be the way of the future.

“New York state is, after California (and possibly Hawaii), the country’s biggest market for next-generation batteries and grid-scale energy storage. The action includes Long Island Power Authority’s request for up to 150 megawatts of energy storage, a soon-to-be-unveiled storage incentive program from Consolidated Edison, and emerging opportunities in microgridsbehind-the-meter storage, renewable energy integration and other grid edge applications.”
I didn’t know about the 150 MW project on Long Island.  There’s a lot of talk on this topic flying around in New York these days, but that Long Island project promises to be an interesting test case of what’s really possible using today’s technology and how much it will cost.
“A bipartisan bill to encourage energy efficiency in buildings died in the Senate on Monday, derailed by the contentious debate over the Keystone XL pipeline and President Obama’s plans to issue new climate change regulations…
Congressional staff members have been working behind the scenes for nearly a year to draft a consensus version of the bill that party leaders in both chambers could endorse. Just a few weeks ago, leaders of both parties were optimistic that the Senate bill would show that bipartisan agreement is still possible in a gridlocked Capitol and pave the way for a broader energy bill…  
But partisan differences emerged last week as the bill came to the Senate floor for debate and Republicans pushed for amendments, including one that would approve the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast and another to block Mr. Obama’s efforts to issue climate change rules without congressional action.”
The Keystone XL pipeline has been in the news for months, but I personally think this article is a little more interesting because it touches, however obliquely, on the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule and related EPA regulations that the Supreme Court ruled on last week.  It appears that the fight’s not over; it’s just moved to a different venue.  That said, it’s still well worth watching.
3.  Godzilla Opens Tomorrow
It’s currently sitting at 84% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.  For the sake of comparison, that is significantly better that Thor: The Dark World was running at this same point relative to its release and almost in line with the line we saw for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, even if the reviews themselves have been less enthusiastic on average.  Coverage I’ve seen describes the movie as either a well-balanced piece that skillfully blends human drama with monstrous destruction on a glorious scale or as a simplistic but still very good monster movie.

 In either case, I suppose I can live with it, but I have to admit that I was a little sad when I saw that they had set the thing in San Francisco.  Here I’d been thinking it was some kind of law of nature that demanded all great monster movies take place in either New York or Tokyo.  But maybe that’s just because I read too many comic books.  And anyway, if you must put Godzilla somewhere in the US, the West Coast is probably the way to go.  First off, no one ever destroys San Francisco, and then too, it makes that whole Pacific-based nuclear-monster thing work a Hell of a lot more logically.  At least this way, we don’t need a scene with some dumbass scientist explaining why the beast swam all the way around the tip of South America and up into the North Atlantic.  That would’ve really made it a stretch.
4.  New Transformers: Age of Extinction Trailer
Even from just that two-minute trailer, you can already see that Michael Bay couldn’t decide if this was a movie about government conspiracies or about an alien-robot invasion.  
Look, folks, you can get away with that kind of layered, convoluted plotting in a TV series, ongoing comic book, or series of novels.  Each of those is an excellent vehicle for sequential storytelling with complicated layers of plot.  However, movies are discrete affairs with decidedly more limited screen-time.  They’re more like short stories than full-length books.  Thus, it’s a lot harder to do a government conspiracy and a robot invasion all in the same movie.  Most folks would say to do one or the other and then make a whole separate movie to cover the second half of the idea, especially when you’re already scraping the bottom of the barrel for new ideas.
But hey, what do I know?
‘Buried on the military's secret computer network is an unclassified document, obtained by Foreign Policy, called "CONOP 8888." It's a zombie survival plan, a how-to guide for military planners trying to isolate the threat from a menu of the undead -- from chicken zombies to vegetarian zombies and even "evil magic zombies" -- and destroy them.
"This plan fulfills fictional contingency planning guidance tasking for U.S. Strategic Command to develop a comprehensive [plan] to undertake military operations to preserve 'non-zombie' humans from the threats posed by a zombie horde," CONOP 8888's plan summary reads. "Because zombies pose a threat to all non-zombie human life, [Strategic Command] will be prepared to preserve the sanctity of human life and conduct operations in support of any human population -- including traditional adversaries."’
Thank God.  Because, seriously, who wasn’t worried about that?
That’s all I got.
If you’re wondering, I gotta bag Tri Practice tomorrow.  Sally has to work, and we couldn’t successfully coordinate our schedules this time, so I’ve got to get out early in order to take Hannah to ice-skating.  The upside is that I’m hoping to hit the pool first thing tomorrow morning and put in some quality yardage, which is good because after riding nearly every day this month, my legs feel like dead weight.  Next week is a Rest Week, and frankly, I cannot wait.
Have a good weekend.  See you soon!


  1. What about the bridge project? You know from Long Island to Milford, CT? Oh wait! That was on the House of Cards.
    I'd like to see Gidzilla fight the zombies.

    1. I've been wondering what Godzilla eats.