American Elephants


Science Moves On, and Our Old Bulbs May Yet Return! by The Elephant's Child

The incandescent light bulb. Gone, but not forgotten

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— February 28, 2014  Popular Mechanics

Incandescent era, RIP. Like it or not, it’s time to move on. Traditional incandescent lightbulbs are gone—not banned, precisely, but phased out because the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), passed in 2007, requires them to be about 25 percent more efficient. That’s impossible to achieve without decreasing their luminous flux (brightness), so, instead, manufacturers have shifted to more energy-efficient technologies, such as compact fluorescents (CFLs), halogens, and LEDs.

Wikipedia has a page entitled “Phase-out of incandescent light bulbs” the first sentence says: “Governments Have Passed Measures”

Governments around the world have passed measures to phase out incandescent light bulbs for general lighting in favor of more energy-efficient lighting alternatives.

This one was really a case of crony capitalism or a couple of very large corporations who used the power of government to force Americans to buy a new product that cost up to 10 times more than the old reliable bulbs. The profit margin on the new bulbs is significantly higher. Any environmental benefits were largely hooey, but the manufacturers got to pretend they were “saving the planet.”

The problem was that nobody liked the replacements, and the environmentalists insisted that the bulbs had to be disposed of in an environmentally friendly way. I don’t know about you, but the recycling enthusiasts are going way too far, and I can see a reckoning coming. People just wanted their friendly, cheap, satisfactory bulbs back.

The people may win. Scientists at MIT believe they may have come up with a solution which could see incandescent bulbs return to the marketplace — better and cheaper and more efficient.

MIT researchers have shown that by surrounding the filament with a special crystal structure in the glass, they can bounce back the energy which is usually lost in heat — while still allowing the light to come through. They call the technique “recycling light” because the energy that would usually escape into the air is redirected back to the filament where it can create new light. “It recycles the energy that would otherwise be wasted.”

Traditional incandescent bulbs are only about five percent efficient with 95 percent of the energy lost to the atmosphere. LED or florescent bulbs manage around 14 percent efficiency. Scientists believe that the new bulb could reach efficiency levels of 40 percent, achieving near-ideal rendering of colors.

If the new bulbs live up to expectations they would cost far less than the hated LEDs and CFL bulbs. Researchers have warned that the blue light emitted by modern bulbs could be stopping people from getting to sleep at night and there have been concerns about the dangerous chemicals they contain.

Luboš Motl explains the physics at the reference frame, for those who want more details, and there’s a picture of the prototype — which isn’t the bulb pictured above.



When You Reward Bad Behavior, You’re Going to Get More Bad Behavior by The Elephant's Child

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A deal that freed five Americans from Iranian jails at a cost of $1.7 billion in U.S. funds comes with a claim in Tehran that the transaction was a ransom payment. The U.S. Treasury Department wired the money to Iran  about the same time that the radical theocracy in Iran allowed three American prisoners to leave Tehran on a Swiss air force plane. The prisoner swap also meant freedom for two other Americans held in Iran, and the U.S. freed seven Iranians who had been charged or convicted of crimes in this country.

The $1.7 billion financial settlement concluded a 35-year legal battle that concerned a purchase of U.S. arms by Iran’s last monarch Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi that were never delivered because of the Iranian revolution in 1979 when the Shah was deposed.

The White House claimed that the settlement was good for American taxpayers because the  U.S. was likely to lose in the arbitration at The Hague, and could have been liable for billions more if the case had dragged on.

The release of hostages came at the same time as the implementation of the nuclear agreement with Iran that lifted the international economic sanctions in exchange for Iran ending its nuclear program. They supposedly filled the heavy-water reactor core with concrete, but if the IAEA inspectors actually got to inspect the concrete, I haven’t seen any confirmation. Earlier, there was some talk that inspectors would not be admitted to any Iranian facilities, and they’d just have to take Iran’s word for it. The Wall Street Journal reported:

A senior Iranian military official has publicly stated that the clearing of the $1.7 billion was a key factor in Tehran’s decision to release the imprisoned Americans, most of whom were charged with espionage.

“Taking this much money back was in return for the release of the American spies and doesn’t have to do with the [nuclear] talks,” said Gen. Mohammad Reza-Naghdi, commander of Iran’s powerful Basij militia, in state media on Wednesday. “The way to take our rights back from the arrogants [Americans] is to become powerful, and we must grow stronger and stronger every day.”

Jason Rezaian’s release got the most attention because he was a Washing Post journalist. The others were Marine veteran Amir Hekmati who had just about given up after four years in prison and Christian pastor Saeed Abedini. The fourth was Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari. A recently detained student. Matthew Trevithick was separately released. It’s high time we had them all home.

The most important part of the deal was Iran’s claim that the money returned was a ransom — which implies that Iran’s bad behavior, falsely accusing American citizens of Iranian background of espionage, and imprisoning them gets a big ransom from the “arrogants”. When you reward bad behavior you get more of it. President Obama does not seem to understand much about strategy, ransoms, or rewarding bad behavior, which he has been doing a lot of.

Obama’s release of terrorists from Guantanamo, which is part of his unfortunate obsession with closing the detention facility, plays into this deal. Mr. Obama seems to believe that terrorists use Gitmo as a recruiting tool. This was once true some years ago, but no longer is.  And Mr. Obama seems to value “world opinion” which he misconstrues, as favoring his end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and an Americas retreat to isolationism as a positive agenda.

Expect all of the released terrorists  to return to the war against America and Americans, as so many of those previously released already have. The nations to which we turn them over don’t do a very good job of keeping track of them. These remaining detainees are considered the “worst of the worst,” committed to killing Americans. It is against the law to bring them to this country, but Obama is looking for a way around that.



Rewarding Bad Behavior Just Gets You Way More Bad Behavior by The Elephant's Child

Homeless in Seattle
Local Seattle radio, “Eyes on Washington” — conversation with a Seattle policeman. It seems like the city is getting a lot dirtier, more trash, shopping carts, what’s going on?

Policeman — The  homeless population is up by about 400 percent. They’ve come here for the pot. 

(Marijuana is now legal in Washington State.) If you are thinking of voting for it in your state, you might want to reconsider.



Tom Cotton “Mr. Obama, Here’s why closing Guantanamo is a big mistake” by The Elephant's Child

Tom-Cotton
Here’s Senator Tom Cotton, who has had the unpleasant task of actually fighting jihadists. He has also gone to Guantanamo to find out for himself what the prison is like.

In his final State of the Union speech President Obama promised to “Keep working to shut down the prison at Guantanamo.” He said “it’s expensive, it’s unnecessary, and it only serves as a recruitment brochure for our enemies.”

MEMRI, the Middle East Research Institute, keeps track of the propaganda coming from al Qaeda, ISIS, and all the affiliates throughout the Middle East, and although Gitmo was used once as a recruiting tool, it didn’t work and they dropped that effort. Sending committed fighters back to the battlefield is not a joke. These are not prisoners of war, but terrorists who do ot obey the laws of war, and who are not entitled to prisoner of war status.  Tom Cotton wrote:

Early last year, I visited Guantanamo Bay and witnessed prisoner operations. I saw firsthand that it is not the barebones prison camp President Obama purports it to be. In fact, it couldn’t be further from the picture he’s painted for the public.

Guantanamo Bay can be and has been visited repeatedly by the International Red Cross and other human-rights groups for observation in an open, regular, and transparent manner. Detainees receive the same medical care as the guard force and are able to participate in their daily prayer sessions.

Guantanamo Bay is also a critical tool in our counterterrorism efforts. It is secure from attack and allows us to concentrate trained experts in interrogation in one place, to extract intelligence of paramount importance in uncovering and stopping plots against Americans.

Information obtained from detainees at Guantanamo has been described by the CIA as “the lead information” that enabled the agency to recognize the importance of a courier for Usama bin Laden, a crucial understanding that lead to Bin Laden’s secret hideout in Pakistan and the U.S. raid that killed him. It is this kind of information that we are losing by not making greater use of Guantanamo.

It is hard to deal effectively with terrorists when those who decide how they will be detained have no understanding of why they are terrorists, what they want, and why they are committed to killing Westerners.

I believe President Obama’s Iran Deal is a ghastly mistake, and we will pay a heavy cost for his ideological errors.

Do read the whole thing.



Obama’s Very Bad, No Good, Terrible Week. by The Elephant's Child

A federal judge ruled Tuesday the Obama administration may not use executive privilege to keep requested documents regarding Operation Fast and Furious from Congress, and ordered the administration to turn them over. Makes you wonder how many attorneys are professionally involved in Freedom of Information Act  (FOIA)  litigation full time.

Since he lost his congressional majority, unlike most previous presidents, Mr. Obama has attempted to govern entirely by executive authority, just ignoring any laws or regulations or constitutional requirements might get in his way. He may get his way on some issues, but he is enraging the country.

“The Department of Justice (DOJ) has already revealed the sum and substance of the very material it is now seeking to withhold,” District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson wrote. “Since any harm that would flow from the disclosures sought here would be merely incremental, the records must be produced.”

The administration has been fighting over records related to the operation that ended up killing a Border Patrol officer for years. The House voted in 2012 to hold former Attorney General Eric Holder in Contempt of Congress for withholding the records. A federal judge ordered the DOJ to turn over the documents sought by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in August, 2014, and rejected claims of executive privilege, and they turned over some 60,000 pages then, but still attempted to shield more.



Not All Cyber Attacks Are Committed By Chinese Hackers by The Elephant's Child

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You have heard about Cyber War, I’m sure. Not all of the cyber attacks on our power infrastructure are caused by hackers in the People’s Republic of China or Russia or even ISIS. At least that’s what the former Deputy Director of the National Security Agency claims.

“I don’t think paralysis [of the electrical grid] is more likely by cyberattack than by natural disaster. And frankly the number-one threat experienced to date by the US electrical grid is squirrels.” – John C. Inglis, Former Deputy Director, National Security Agency 2015.07.09

The website cybersquirrel1.com is all about the declassified cyber attacks they have been able to document up to the present time. They have listed 623 successful attacks by squirrels, 214 by birds, 52 by raccoons, 47 by snakes, 25 by rats, and 9 by beavers.  They offer an interactive map showing the locations of confirmed strikes, a cybersquirrel 1 unit sticker, and a record of mentions in the press. I suspect this is only a small  part of the larger war against squirrels and other varmints by bird lovers who have major trouble with squirrels stealing the bird seed. All in fun, of course. There are books delineating methods for dealing with the bandits. Consult Amazon.

Real Hacking and Cyber attacks are no joke. We have had serious probes of our infrastructure, power plants, power grid, and military installations. There are worries about solar flares and severe solar storms that can cause damage naturally. Everything electric stops.

A real EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack has been estimated to kill 90 percent of the American population. It can be accomplished by detonating a nuclear missile at high altitude, and also by severe solar flares. Here’s a summary of research from the Heritage Foundation, and a survey of EMP preparedness, also from the Heritage Foundation. Or simply Google EMP Attacks, and you will get information, scoffing, how to prepare, and survival equipment and tips.

The federal government is apparently concerned with squirrels, and hardening off the grid will be a state problem. You might want to see if your state is doing anything.



The Keystone XL Pipeline Developer Sues the Obama Administration! by The Elephant's Child

Keystonepipeline
TransCanada Corporation has filed two major legal challenges to the Obama Administration. TransCanada is the company that has waited patiently while the Obama Administration played politics with the Keystone XL Pipeline project. The first lawsuit was filed in a Houston federal court stating that President Obama exceeded his authority in November when he blocked the pipeline’s construction.

The company separately filed an international petition under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) seeking to recover the $15 billion in costs and damages which it incurred in its attempts to build the cross border pipeline. What a colossal mess the Obama administration made of the U.S. end of that project.

I’m on TransCanada’s side in this one. I’ve been writing about it ever since the first proposal. It has always been a matter of politics. Obama’s green supporters are violently opposed to the pipeline, mostly because they don’t like petroleum and want it to stay in the ground. Their science is that deep. Also Hedge-fund billionaire Tom Steyer promised $100 million to the Democrats if they just continued to oppose global warming. (I don’t know if he gave them the money) The unions desperately want the 13,000 construction jobs promised by the project, and the 118,000 estimated spin-off jobs as well. Obama responds that the jobs are just temporary, but all construction jobs are temporary. Skills learned on one job make you more eligible for the next.

“TransCanada’s legal actions challenge the foundation of the U.S. administration’s decision to deny a presidential border crossing permit for the project,” the Calgary, Canada-based company said in a statement.

“In its decision, the U.S. State Department acknowledged the denial was not based on the merits of the project,” it continued. “Rather, it was a symbolic gesture based on speculation about the perceptions of the international community regarding the administration’s leadership on climate change and the president’s assertion of unprecedented, independent powers.”

Obama has asserted his power to decide the fate of the Alberta-to-Texas pipeline because it would have crossed an international border — an argument TransCanada said is not supported by the law, the Constitution or NAFTA.

The oil was always going to go to market. Obama’s denial meant that it would go by train, much more dangerous than supposed pipeline leaks, for rail is subject to derailment, as has happened too many times. The State Dept. approved it twice, then disapproved it. The route was changed slightly to allay worries from Nebraska, and from Indian tribes.

For the Obama Administration politics rules in all cases.  What is supposed to come first is the welfare of the American people. It’s really that simple.

Canadian and US Crude Oil Pipeline Proposals

 




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