American Elephants

What Happened to California? by The Elephant's Child

Here is Victor Davis Hanson on Tucker Carlson’s program talking about their native state of California. Both were born and grew up in California. Victor Davis Hanson is the 6th generation living in the same house, with obviously a deep sense of family history.I have lived in California, on both sides of the Bay area, and in Southern California. As I often say, I can remember when anyone who did not live in San Francisco dressed up to go to the city. Now, Travel agents and event planners suggest avoiding San Francisco because of the prevalent feces on the sidewalks and the  needles and addicts also on the sidewalks. So how did a once beautiful city and a once ‘golden’ state go so haywire?

California is now a state with probably more billionaires than any other and definitely with the largest number of people in poverty. Jerry Brown is not rated as abjectly low as the governors of Oregon and Washington in fiscal discipline—but what is it with this coastal corridor? There are lessons to be learned here.


George Gilder On The Future of Computing by The Elephant's Child

Uncommon Knowledge, from the Hoover Institution. 9/24/18

Is blockchain the technology of the future? George Gilder, author of Life After Google, argues that bitcoin and blockchain technology is revolutionizing the Internet. He sits down with Peter Robinson to discuss technology, cloud computing, big data, and the growing role of blockchain in innovating new technologies.

Gilder argues that cloud computing, while it was the hot new technology ten years ago, has reached its limits as the physical limitations of big data storage centers maxes out. Improvements in parsing big data are incremental at this point, and it’s time for the next big technology to take its place. Gilder points to blockchain as the technology of the future, with its ability to prevent corruption and manipulation of transaction data and the infinite uses it could have in third world countries.

Gilder also discusses the history of technology, artificial intelligence, and the revolutionary bitcoin. He argues that artificial intelligence can never replace human intelligence and creativity and that in principle, it is impossible for machines to take over.

For the full transcript go to:…

China’s Future and Current Megaprojects by The Elephant's Child

China has more than 400 companies making inexpensive tiny electric cars called LSEVs for Low Speed Electric Vehicles. The price starts at about $1,000. U.S.
Not exactly for long road trips, I guess, but interesting for around town.

I ran into this while looking at the tiny electric cars. China seems to be going all out to modernize and make the most of technology in every way. I’m not sure what the time span for all this to be built is. When we start talking about a big “Infrastructure” project here at home, it becomes a very big deal, and
everything seems to cost too much.

How are the Chinese managing to pay for all of this? We know they do a lot of stealing technology and plans, but they clearly have fine architects and builders and technology people.

This was originally published on February 9, 2016, so it’s nearly three years old, but fascinating.  China is a very centrally controlled country. People are tracked wherever they go, and earn points (or lose them depending on their actions), if you lose too many cooperative good points, you can’t travel or enjoy many ordinary privileges.

Do click on the link just above. When people start talking about “control” we need to understand fully what is meant by the word and the urge. I find it extremely scary.

Tucker Carlson Exposes Google: Is Anyone Surprised? by The Elephant's Child

At National Review, there is a book review of “Life after Google” The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy, by George Gilder.

In the shadow of Mount Hood in Washington State, six miles west of the dam in the Columbia River that holds back the Dalles (rhymes with “pals”) rapids, Google maintains its main data center. Three glass-walled warehouses, each one 10 million cubic feet, contain 75,000 computer servers linked together by thousands of fiber-optic cables, all crammed together as tightly as possible to reduce any signal delays. High-security gates and fences keep out unwanted visitors, while ad­vanced millimeter-wave body scanners examine every person, employee, and visitor entering the building.

This is the heart of the Google empire, which today is worth almost $800 billion (the valuation of Google’s holding company, Alphabet), putting it only a couple of hundred billion dollars behind Apple Inc. and Amazon. As George Gilder notes in his new book, “empire” is a fitting word to describe Google. The size and reach of the company is unprecedented in the history of computing. Its ability to process an ever-growing database consisting of thousands of petabytes (“peta” meaning 1 quadrillion, or a million billion) and handle 1.5 trillion searches every year means that it powers large sections of the U.S. economy. It also shapes our culture and mindsetand increasingly our political system. Yet Google itself, Gilder argues, isn’t best understood as a business at all. It’s a utopian cult, powered not by technology but by a philosophyone could even say a theologythat is about to meet its nemesis.

Gilder, a cofounder of the Discovery Institute in Seattle, has a long record of debunking conventional notions about how the world works. His groundbreaking book Wealth and Poverty (1981) debunked the idea that capitalism is driven by greed; Men and Marriage (1986) overturned the notion that chasing down so-called deadbeat dads was good social policy. His book on the microchip revolution, Microcosm (1990), made Moore’s Lawthat the output of advanced digital technologies such as microchips will double every 18 monthsa household term.

In his new book, it’s Bell’s Law that gets the center spread. Named after Digital Equipment Corporation engineer Gordon Bell, Bell’s Law states that every decade a hundredfold drop in the price of processing power creates a new computer architecture. This is what is happening now, Gilder argues: A new architecture for handling data and information is taking shape that will shake the Google empire to its foundations.

All About Global Warming Skepticism for Busy People by The Elephant's Child

Dr. Roy W. Spencer has a new Kindle book: Global Warming Skepticism for Busy People is meant as a concise and accessible summary of his skeptical views on global warming. After a year or more of thinking and writing, this new Kindle book is meant to fill that need.

32,000 words and 40 high-res illustrations, he says it is more comprehensive than his previous Kindle books, but still readable in about 2 to 3 hours. The book is not meant to cover all of the skeptical views out there, but everything that he believes is most important to the global warming and energy policy debate.

He adds Maybe the best way to summarize what is in the book is to list the chapter titles:

1. Overview of the Reasons for Skepticism
2. The Five Big Questions
3. Skepticism versus Alarmism
4. The Unholy Alliance: Politics and Science
5. How Could 97% of Scientists Be Wrong?
6. What is the Greenhouse Effect?
7. What Causes Temperature Change?
8. The Good News about Increasing CO2
9. The U.N. IPCC Consensus: Government-Funded Biased Science
10. Climate Models Exaggerate Recent Warming
11. Warming since the 1800s Suggests Climate Models are Too Sensitive
12. How the Reliance on IPCC Climate Models Affects You
13. Why is Warming Not Progressing as Predicted?
14. Refuting Common Climate Delusions

He adds:That last chapter is where I refute the frequent media claims about worsening heatwaves, wildfires, droughts, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, weather-related disaster losses, sea level rise, sea ice melt, ice sheet collapse, and ocean acidification.

I consider this my most complete treatment of the subject in one place, with my latest position on a variety of subjects. I have references to some of the latest findings and events of interest — as recent as September 3, 2018. I’ve included hyperlinks where appropriate so that readers can easily investigate my claims for themselves.

I hope you find it entertaining and informative. And, again, I am open to suggestions for material I might have missed… keeping in mind I am not aiming for the most exhaustive treatment of global warming skepticism, but the most effective one.


I have not read it yet, but it sounds like a very good deal to me (and inexpensive). I have been following Dr. Spencer and Dr. John Christy for years, and have great respect for their work and their explanations of the science.

Where Does Our Energy Come From? by The Elephant's Child

Coal is the most-used electricity generation source in 18 states; natural gas in 16, hydro, nuclear, petroleum — Wind? Solar?


From the U.S. Energy Information  Administration and WattsUpWithThat

Electricity generators that use fossil fuels continue to be the most common sources of electricity generation in most states. In all but 15 states, coal, natural gas, or petroleum liquids were the most-used electricity generation fuel in 2017. Since 2007, the number of states where coal was the most prevalent electricity generation fuel has fallen as natural gas, nuclear, and hydroelectricity have gained market share.

In 2017, coal provided the largest generation share in 18 states, down from 28 states in 2007. Natural gas had the largest share in 16 states, up from 11 in 2007. Petroleum remained the largest generation share in only one state—Hawaii—providing 62% of the state’s electricity generation in 2017. For the United States as a whole, natural gas provided 32% of total electricity generation in 2017, slightly higher than coal’s 30% share.

Beyond fossil fuels, nuclear power plants provided the largest electricity share in nine states, up from six in 2007. Hydroelectricity is the most prevalent electricity generation source in six states, up from four in 2007. Hydro is the only renewable energy source with the largest share in any state, but that may soon change with the continued addition of wind turbines in states such as Kansas and Iowa.

Even though coal’s lead has been cut from 17 to 2 States since 2007, it’s still in first place. Numbers in parentheses reflect the change since 2007.

•Coal: 18 (-10)
•Natural Gas: 16 (+5)
•Nuclear: 9 (+3)
•Hydroelectric: 6 (+2)
•Petroleum: 1 (0)

Neither wind nor solar are capable of providing the energy needed by a state and all of its communities and industries. I haven’t yet been able to find an answer to the question of electric cars. If all vehicles were required to run on electricity, could our grid produce the needed energy? I suspect not., but I simply do not know. If, as we are told, it would be easy for foreign hackers to hack into our grid, could they just shut down — everything?

The Puzzlement of Trading With China by The Elephant's Child

You have probably noticed that I favor columns from Victor Davis Hanson, among others. I think he is an important voice today. Yesterday was no exception with “Trump on the Ground”— which is a comment on contemporary California. Dr. Hansen is currently in Hillsdale for a teaching assignment for some lucky kids at Hillsdale College. Does Trump Get Deserved Credit? he asks. Not necessarily since it wars with the paradox that Trump is now seen by many as useful, but not as presidential. When one is doing well, he has the luxury of dreaming that it might be better to do poorly under a so-called presidential leader. (Do read the whole thing)

Abroad, for all the hatred of Donald Trump, there is a quiet, though usually repressed, recognition that the United States is doing what it long should have been doing—leading the world to an economic recovery, despite Trump’s trash-talking tariffs, and going to the mat with China. Critics concede that China is culpable of all sorts of trade violations. They add in the past that nothing much worked to persuade them to follow the global norms of currency, labor, environmental, and safety regulations, as well as copyright and patent laws. And while they abhor tariffs, they nonetheless have no ideas otherwise how to nudge China to follow the rules of global citizenship.

“The Obama years may have allowed China to infringe on American global power, but under Trump. this tide is turning. As governments around the world watch China’s expanding reach with resignation, the president has signed into law a bill promising to restrict foreign investment in the U.S. Under the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act, the U.S. government has added a powerful tool to block other countries—namely China—from buying up or funneling money into US companies. This is directly protecting vital strategic assets and know-how.”

In 2015 and 16, Beijing’s corporations went on an overseas acquisitions spree that concluded with multibillion dollar deals throughout the U.S., while the Obama administration stood idly by. U.S. intelligence  has long classified Chinese firms as security risks, raising concerns that China is able to access technologies underpinning American military might and economic power. Now the new investment law and the new National Defense Authorization Act prohibits U.S. government agencies from using telecommunications and surveillance products from Chinese technology firms like ZTE and Hyawei, their voices are now codified into U.S. law.

America has been a major destination for Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) in the last decade, and the largest target of Chinese capital flows since 2005. But even if Chinese President Xi tirelessly touts the supposed benign nature of investments, don’t be fooled: such investments are a favorite, and more surreptitious, weapon in the Chinese arsenal than the military – a weapon China is employing freely given the country cannot compete with U.S. military might in terms of capabilities and global force projection.

China is clearly trying to undermine America’s global power status through money rather than military might. Beijing’s pockets seem deep. Trump must draw some red lines abroad when it comes to Chinese investments. The consequences of Obama’s years of neglect will give China more of an advantage.


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