Thursday, April 30, 2009

Countering piracy: A difference of opinion

Maersk captain testifies before Congress

Captain Philips, captain of the Maersk Alabama, testified before Congress that armed parties aboard ship under command of the ship's captain are necessary to protect ship and crew.

The chairman of Maersk Inc., on the other hand, in effect claimed arming the crews would create an arms race with the pirates, a race the crews could not win.

So-called 'witnesses' testified that the problem must be solved with diplomacy and cooperation between governments, shippers and seamen's unions.

So, of the three opinions, whose would you rely on:  The person who commands a ship?  The person who commands a desk?  Or, the anonymous kibitzers?

I'll go with Captain Philips any day.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Extra! AP Fact-Check Article

FACT CHECK: Obama disowns deficit he helped shape

Has fair and balanced reportage set in at the Associated Press?  The referenced article counters Obama's 100-day assessment (e.g.; Deficit:  It wasn't me.) with facts from the public record.

If I didn't see it with my own eyes, I wouldn't believe it.  It's a 'must read.'

History repeating itself

Ammonia-based refrigeration coming back

Ammonia was one of the early chemicals used in household refrigeration that was eliminated because of health and safety issues.  We went to safe CFC's around the 1930's, but that was destroying the ozone layer.  So, the Montreal Protocol of 1990 had us all switch to HFC's.

But, now, the Obama Administration is pushing to replace HFC's with "natural" chemicals including ammonia!

Here is OSHA's hazard write-up for ammonia in the workplace:

More... Ammonia is considered a high health hazard because it is corrosive to the skin, eyes, and lungs. Exposure to 300 ppm is immediately dangerous to life and health. Ammonia is also flammable at concentrations of approximately 15% to 28% by volume in air. When mixed with lubricating oils, its flammable concentration range is increased. It can explode if released in an enclosed space with a source of ignition present, or if a vessel containing anhydrous ammonia is exposed to fire. Fortunately, ammonia has a low odor threshold (20 ppm), so most people will seek relief at much lower concentrations.

This change is being done in the name of "global warming."  I suppose HAZMAT labels on the fridge door will be required.  Is this crazy, or what!?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Obama: No Nukes?

Obama calls for new era of energy exploration

The President has been pushing for new sources of energy; touting the advantages of wind, solar and (even) clean coal.  Curiously, the cheapest source for electricity, that also meets the dubious no-CO2-emissions goal, has not been mentioned:   Nuclear power.

The Weekly Standard has an article by Halbert Fischel that walks us through the economics associated with the various options including nuclear power.  Given the President's choice of energy alternatives, one  has to wonder if his Administration has yet to make similar calculations.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Obama ordering a 'witch hunt'?

Obama open to prosecution, probe of interrogations

The President has said CIA operatives that carried out interrogations of al Qa'ida prisoners would not be subject to prosecutions.  He was quite clear on this.

But, now, President Obama is saying that those in the Justice Department that worked on researching the law and wrote the opinion concerning the interrogation methods will be investigated and are subject to prosecution.

The President's clever dodge was to leave it up to the Attorney General, thus washing his hands of any repercussions.  Of course, the AG is the President's appointee and serves at his pleasure.

At the White House press conference today Gibbs, the press secretary, squirmed and squiggled in trying to spin this change in policy.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Rumors of global warming premature?

There was a period of cold temperatures--referred to as 'the little ice age'--in the mid 17th century. [1]  At the same time, the sun  had became exceptionally quiet in terms of sunspot activity.  Known as the "Maunder Minimum", the number of sunspots observed over a 70-year period were reduced by three orders of magnitude. [2]

Now we are again observing what may become a protracted quiet period for the sun.  In May, 2006, sunspot activity had fallen to a exceptionally low level. [2]   This period, marked by sporadic or no activity, has persisted into April of this year. [3, 4, 5]

So, with the current solar cycle off to a slow start and the next cycle forecasted to be weaker yet [6] , it seems the prudent course of action vis-a-vis global warming is to sit tight and do nothing rash.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Now is the time...

The following are the contents of an email to the EPA contact person about the recent EPA ruling:

"...these high levels are very likely the cause of the increase in average temperatures and other changes in our climate."

Re: EPA News Release

Cathy Milbourn,

The operative phrase in the above quote from the referenced EPA news release is "are very likely"  which is a far cry from  "is certainly".

The gases mentioned in the news release exist in trace amounts compared to argon, another greenhouse gas that is a natural component of the earth's atmosphere, casting doubt on the the role of those gases as the sole (or even significant) cause of global warming.

In the EPA studies, how much consideration was given to other causes of warming; e.g., cyclical solar activity?

Also, given the consequences of warming listed in the news release, how much consideration was given to the fact that cold kills more people than warmth?  That the (warm) tropical zones of the planet are richer in flora and fauna than the (cold) polar zones?  That the warming has stalled over the last decade despite ever increasing human activity?

And, finally, how much consideration was given to the idea that the consequences of warming listed in the news release are conjecture as opposed to demonstrable fact?

Alright, people.  Now is the time to act.  Get to it!  Contact the EPA and your Representative.

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Update: Comments open up after the proposed regulation (Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2009-0171) is published in the Federal Register; probably on Monday, April 20, 2009. A summary of the proposed regulation may be found here. Instructions for composing comments can be found here. Comments may be submitted by email or by using the Web interface at

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Obama's Drug Policy: Close but No Cigar

In Mexico, Obama to offer solidarity in drug war

With the murderous drug cartels affecting our side of the border, the President is heading to Mexico in support of Presidente Calderón.

The President is aiming to reinforce our drug policy:  To interdict the flow of drugs north and flow of weapons south.

That's nice, but it is missing an essential component if the problem is ever to be solved and that is the demand for illegal drugs in the U.S.  It is the American insatiable appetite for cocaine, marijuana and heroin that is fueling the drug trade.  Eliminate the demand and the market will dry up.

But, that is easier said than done because our  politicians lack the will, not to mention public support, for enforcing a policy that would force multitudes into rehab programs.  Nevertheless, unless the demand side of the problem is addressed, all other efforts will be futile.

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

The insanity continues!

Obama looking at cooling air to fight warming

This is getting weirder by the day.  Obama's science advisor, John Holdren1, is advocating cooling the earth by shooting sulfur particles into the upper atmosphere.  (As if Mt. Redoubt isn't already doing that.)

Holdren says  we don't have the luxury of ruling anything out.  He talks about "tipping points" rapidly approaching that will have "really intolerable consequences":  rising seas, powerful coastal storms, drought, food shortages, and on and on. All this because of a few degrees of warming.

This certainly is crazy talk.  The earth has been much warmer in the past than today, and it was the most prolific time in terms of flora and fauna speciation.

Where on earth is the most diverse species found now?  The polar regions?   No!  The tropics.  We would be in real trouble if they tried and succeeded in cooling the climate.  Produced the nuclear winter that everyone feared only a few decades ago.

What nonsense they are speaking.  So far, it is just talk.  But we must be ready if and when the day comes that they try to put their screwy schemes into practice.

1John Holdren is a John and Teresa Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy at Harvard University. Teresa Heinz is the widow of John Heinz and wife of Sen. John Kerry (D-MA).

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Enough already

Pentagon says crew retakes US ship from pirates

But the situation is 'fluid.'  Latest report is the crew has one hijacker in custody on board the Maersk Alabama and the hijackers are holding the captain in a lifeboat.

But, more to the point, there is no good reason the hijackers were able to board the ship at all.  When are these shippers going to arm the crew and post a watch when sailing through those rat-infested waters?  When?

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Friday, April 03, 2009

Dick Durbin votes against Illinoisans

The President's budget proposal (S.CON.RES.13) is now before the Senate.  This budget proposal includes a request to establish a cap and trade system on carbon emissions.  Such legislation would impose a ruinous regulatory regime that the Nation can ill-afford.

Senator Thune [R-SD] introduced an amendment,  S.AMDT.731, which would prohibit any cap and trade program from increasing the price of gasoline or electricity.  The amendment passed on an 89-8 vote; no thanks to Dick Durbin.

Dick Durbin [D-IL] voted to kill an amendment that would ensure Illinoisans, and the Nation, would not have to carry the onerous burden cap and trade legislation otherwise would impose.

Dick Durbin:  Whose side is he on?

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