mr. zilla goes to town

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

black gold of the sun

Two German scientists, Dr Gerhard Knies and Dr Franz Trieb, calculate that covering just 0.5% of the world's hot deserts with a technology called concentrated solar power (CSP) would provide the world's entire electricity needs, with the technology also providing desalinated water to desert regions as a valuable byproduct, as well as air conditioning for nearby cities.

CSP technology is not new. There has been a plant in the Mojave desert in California for the past 15 years. Others are being built in Nevada, southern Spain and Australia. There are different forms of CSP but all share in common the use of mirrors to concentrate the sun's rays on a pipe or vessel containing some sort of gas or liquid that heats up to around 400C (752F) and is used to power conventional steam turbines.

The mirrors are very large and create shaded areas underneath which can be used for horticulture irrigated by desalinated water generated by the plants. The cold water that can also be produced for air conditioning means there are three benefits. "It is this triple use of the energy which really boost the overall energy efficiency of these kinds of plants up to 80% to 90%," says Dr Knies.

This form of solar power is also attractive because the hot liquid can be stored in large vessels which can keep the turbines running for hours after the sun has gone down, avoiding the problems association with other forms of solar power.

Read the whole thing. And then can someone please explain to me why there's a desperate need to spend the next 40 years building nuclear reactors in Australia?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

military jazztice

Even Military bands, although I am a pacifist, cheer me up.
Kurt Vonnegut

Military justice is to justice what military music is to music.
Groucho Marx

As you can see, the value of military music divides some of the greatest thinkers of the modern age. Military musicians, on the other hand, are a wholly less controversial topic - especially when you can point to the example of Salah Ragab, who double-timed as a bandmaster in the army of Nasser, as well as founding the Cairo Jazz Band. You can hear a small sample of his work on the latest textureDJs podcast. Also, other ace music.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

single-source-solution sickness

A single government enquiry designed to pave the way for the adoption of nuclear energy in Australia, rather than work from first principles to discuss the full range of options and alternatives in a progressive national energy portfolio? It's like offering a no-bid contract to Halliburton: there's no doubt they've got the capacity for large scale service delivery, but by failing to consider all options, you've boxed yourself in for a shellacking down the line.

Oh yeah, and John Howard now comes on board with the idea Australia is a part of Asia, and not in fact situated in the mid-Atlantic? Welcome to 1994, ya wally.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

we must destroy the rule of law... in order to save it!

Thick as a tin of treacle you left in the fridge by accident one night on the turps, that's Ralph Peters in the New York Post:
To master Iraq now - if it could be done - we'd have to fight every faction except the Kurds. Are we willing to do that? Are we willing to kill mass murderers and cold-blooded executioners on the spot? If not, we can't win, no matter what else we do.

Yes, yes! Because extra-judicial executions of captives is just the ticket for defeating an insurgency and bring hope of victory on the home front! You frickin' moron!

Robert McNamara, and his mea maxima culpa over Vietnam:

We failed then as we have since to recognize the limitations of modern high technology military equipment and forces in doctrine in confronting unconventional highly motivated people's movements...

...our misjudgments of friend and foe alike reflected our profound ignorance of a history, culture and politics of the people in that area, and the personalities and habits of their leaders.

We failed to draw Congress and the American people into a full and frank discussion and debate of the pros and cons of large scale U.S. military involvement.

...we didn't recognize that neither our people nor our leaders are on a mission. To this day we seem to act in the world as though we know what's right for everybody. We think we're on a mission. We aren't. We weren't then and we aren't today. And where our own security is at stake, I'm prepared to say act unilaterally, militarily. Where our security is not at stake, not directly at stake, narrowly defined, then I believe that our judgement of what is in another people's interest, should be put to the test of open discussion, open debate, and international forum. And we shouldn't act unilaterally militarily under any circumstances. And we shouldn't act militarily in conjunction with others until that debate has taken place. We don't have the God-given right to shape every nation to our own image.


Well, you can clap but we're still trying to do it, and that's sad.

This speech was given in 1995.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

he's back.

Part the I, Rusmfeld redux: Bush picks out of retirement a flunky of his father's who has a usefully vague memory around Iran-Contra and was known to politically massage intelligence.

Part the IIeux, seafood reflux: whale sushi is on the menu. I suspect the delusionary would enjoy the odd bite.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

from the kosophere

I know some of my 17 readers aren't quite so cut to the quick on US politics as I am, though you'd be hard pressed to live on this planet and not notice the rout (some would say: thumping) that went on last night across the pond. I mean shit, you kick George Bush in the arse and Donald Rumsfeld gets a bloody nose: who woulda thought?

I'm one lazy mofo of a blogger though, and I'll get back to referencing/linking these quotes from dailykos writers tomorrow, but here's the gist.

Not only did we take the Senate, take the House, and destroyed Republicans at the state legislative level, but we didn't lose a single senate seat, we didn't lose any House seats, we didn't lose any governorships, we didn't lose any state legislatures. It was a rout of epic proportions.

Democrats are now the one-party government in 15 states -- including New Hampshire for the first time since 1874, and Colorado for the first time since 1960. No party has controlled as many as 15 states since the Republicans achieved that exact number after the 1994 election.

When you can't get an abortion ban passed in freakin' South Dakota, America isn't trending conservative. When you can't get a gay marriage ban passed in Arizona, America isn't trending conservative. When opposition to gay marriage bans was more than 40% in 5 of the 8 bans that passed, America isn't trending conservative. When a majority of Americans choose Democrats to represent them, America isn't trending conservative.

The question about conservatism has always been could it mature enough as a governing philosophy to replace 20th century progressivism, and provide America with a true alternative governing approach? The Bush era has answered that question, and the answer is no. Given the extraordinary failure of conservative government to do the very basics - keeping us safe, fostering broad-based prosperity, protecting our liberties, balancing the books and not breaking the law - history will label this 20th century conservatism a success as a critique of 20th century progressivism, but a failure as a governing philosophy. It never matured into something more than an ivory-tower led and Limbaugh-fed correction to a progressivism that had lost its way.

Despite the many billions spent in building this modern conservative movement, history will label it a grand and remarkable failure. And we will look back at 2006 as the year this most recent period of American history - the conservative ascendency - ended.

You got it? This is a shutout to end all shutouts. The cleanest sheet since the puritans boarded the frickin' Mayflower. Not ONE Democratic incumbent got 86'ed. That is one hell of a powerful swing - think of Robert De Niro as Al Capone wielding baseball bat to the back of the head. Good night.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

an end to the clash of ciggalizations?

Friday, November 03, 2006

tim blair = a wally, tim blair = a wally

Say, Mr Lambert, do you mind if I borrow your piñata?

Clever clogs climatologist and master logician Tim Blair thinks its inconsistent that I loathe the crappy weather and lack of daylight hours in the English winter, but at the same time also aren't real keen on us givin' the jandal to climate change.

Which, it's expected, will make Britan colder due to the disruption of the Gulf Stream.

Zing zowie kapow! Got me, Blair! I repent!

But seriously, what could prompt a blogger of such stature to take a clumsy swing at this minnow? Well, because I called his position on climate change petulant and idiotic in a thread over at RTS. In case you don't read Blair's blog, and there's no reason why you would except for the occasional pith and vinegar, this is what he said on the issue:

“There is one position even more morally culpable than failing to take preventative measures, and I’m proud to say it’s mine: encouraging the continued (and increased) consumption of fossil fuels.”

Man, the only argument to be had is whether this guy is a turkey or a plastic turkey.

I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor

The horror.

The horror.

The horror:
An American general in Baghdad called Iraq a "work of art" in progress yesterday in one of the most extraordinary attempts by the US military leadership to put a positive spin on the worsening violence.

On a day in which 49 people were killed or found dead around the country, Major General William Caldwell, the chief military spokesman, argued that Iraq was in transition, a process that was "not always a pleasant thing to watch."

"Every great work of art goes through messy phases while it is in transition. A lump of clay can become a sculpture. Blobs of paint become paintings which inspire," Maj Gen Caldwell told journalists in Baghdad's fortified green zone.