American Elephants

Raise the Minimum Wage, But Beware Unintended Consequences! by The Elephant's Child

McDonalds has added 62.000 employees in the United States. My guess would be that to be their response to ObamaCare, cutting back workers to 30 hours a week or less to conform to the mandate to pay for health insurance for all full-time workers. If everybody gets their hours cut in half, you need twice as many workers.

In Europe, McDonalds is drafting instead, 7,000 touch-screen kiosks to replace cashiers. The touch screens will accept only debit or credit cards, helping to spell an end to cash and coins. The move is intended to boost efficiency and make ordering more convenient for customers. McDonald’s Europe President Steve Easterbrook notes that the new system will open up a goldmine of data. They could potentially track every Big Mac, McNugget and shake in your order. What that information tells them, I’m not sure. A follow up with a mandatory diet program?

People who are sure that we need to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour or more, need to be aware that there are consequences. Momentum Machines automates the whole process, and there is a point where a machine that doesn’t demand sick leave and always shows up for work on time is cheaper than paying an undependable person.

The Harvard Bait and Switch; Harvey Silverglate by The Elephant's Child

Harvey Silverglate is a Liberal, but the old-fashioned kind of Liberal. And he cares passionately about free speech. So passionately indeed, that he was a co-founder of the  Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), that admirable organization that fights speech codes and the growing tendency of colleges and universities to demand that “You Can’t Say That!” Our Citadels of Learning insist that they want to teach critical thinking, but you certainly aren’t entitled to disagree.


A Major Quandry for Environmentalists! Birds Vaporized in a Puff of Smoke! by The Elephant's Child


“After several studies, the conclusion for why birds are drawn to the searing beams of the solar field goes like this: Insects are attracted to the bright light of the reflecting mirrors, much as moths are lured to a porch light. Small birds —insect eaters such as finches, swallows and warblers—go after the bugs. In turn, predators such as hawks and falcons pursue the smaller birds.

But once the birds enter the focal field of the mirrors, called the “solar flux,” injury or death can occur in a few seconds. The reflected light from the mirrors is 800 to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Either the birds are incinerated in flight; their feathers are singed, causing them to fall to their deaths; or they are too injured to fly and are killed on the ground by predators, according to a report by the National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory.”

We’ve seen the slaughter of birds caught in the revolving blades of wind energy turbines, but even nastier is the nearly invisible vaporizing of birds that fly into the new Ivanpah solar mirror project in California’s Mojave Desert, seeking to feed on the insects that are drawn to the light of the reflecting mirrors, as moths are drawn to the lights on our deck in the summer night.

The birds are uncountable, for dead birds on the ground may not be an accurate way to measure the impact on the entire ecological food chain. Many of the birds are simply vaporized in mid-air and there is no trace of them left— except a momentary puff of smoke.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement staff observed birds entering the solar flux and igniting, thus becoming a ‘streamer’ — an average of one streamer every two minutes. Solar thermal tower energy plants thus become what is technically called an “attractive nuisance,” in real estate terminology. Yucca moths are a species of moth essential to pollinate Joshua Tree yuccas. The moths cannot live without the yuccas, the yuccas cannot live without the moths. Are we wiping out the yucca moths?  Such is the ecology of the Mohave.

“If a bird is vaporized in a forest of solar panels and no evidence is left behind, did it ever happen?”

Robert Bryce adds at Master Resource:

Without cheap, abundant, reliable supplies of electricity produced from coal, the ongoing revolution in information technology, as well as the age of biotech and nanotech simply wouldn’t be possible. Electricity accelerates the trend toward objects and systems that are Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper.

The essentiality of electricity to modernity is incontrovertible. Countries that have cheap, abundant, reliable supplies of electricity are able to bring their people out of darkness and poverty and into the light of the modern world.

So we subsidize wind energy, which is intermittent and requires 24/7 backup from a conventional power plant. We subsidize solar energy which is only available in the daytime, when it’s not cloudy, and requires 24/7 backup from a conventional power plant. Wind turbines chop up birds of prey and solar arrays vaporize them.

” Over the past half decade or so, just the growth in coal use is equal to about 25 times the contribution now being made by all of the world’s solar projects.”

“While we remain obsessed with so-called “clean” energy here in the U.S. the rest of the world is rushing to produce electricity from the  cheapest fuel they can find. And that fuel continues to be coal. ”


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