Tuesday, October 13, 2009
I'm in Washington this morning, Chicago this afternoon, and South Bend tomorrow, so my over-scheduling continues. There's still time, though, for a tab dump!
E.J. Dionne, of all people, writes about the "authentic rage" of white men, which he says the Obama administration fails to address at its own peril. Typical liberal that he is, he ascribes the authentic (as opposed to racist) white male rage to the declining economic fortunes of men, particularly those who did not go to college. That some of this rage may stem from a generation-long denigration of values that they hold dear never oocurs to him. Either that, or Dionne is afraid to go where that will lead him.
There's a long article in the new Scientific American (download pdf through this link) that purports to show that the world could get to 100% sustainable energy by 2030 if it only had the political will. I have not read it, but I just know that some of you have the time and inclination, so tell us all what you think in the comments.
The exodus of actual taxpayers from New Jersey continues. The looting voters who remain will probably exacerbate the problem by re-electing Jon Corzine, who is now in a dead heat with the Republican challenger.
The Obama administration has, at least temporarily, come to its senses on an arcane but actually momentous matter of corporate income tax, its proposal to eliminate "deferrals" for taxes on income earned in foreign jurisdictions. Call me a racist if you will, but this idea was absolutely one of the stupidest to come out of this administration.
Venture capital investment and money raised therefor has collapsed since 2002. I blame George W. Bush. No, really. The Sarbanes-Oxley law and other "governance" initiatives enacted on his watch have made it so expensive for small companies to go public and so unpleasant actually to run a public company, that it is far more difficult to exist early-stage businesses. You may regard that as a feature or a bug depending on your taste for paternalism, but one consequence is obvious: We are funding many fewer start-ups because investors do not know when they will be able to get their money out.
Perhaps not all is bleak for the U.S. dollar, Insty-warnings notwithstanding. Bloomberg's chart of the day and the accompanying story (click the tab at the top of the chart) show much improving trade balances and savings rates, which bode well for the greenback over the long term.
Interesting. The Scientific American article rejects nuclear power because it increases pollution assuming that fossil fuels are involved in the reactor construction and uranium refining and transport. In the next paragraph they assume renewable electricity is use to produce hydrogen which, with electricity, is used to power industry.
So why wouldn't all that nuclear reactor construction and uranium refining and transport use renewable electricity and hydrogen to be pollution free?
Sorry, it doesn't look like I'm going to make it past the second page (and the first two pages are mostly pictures).
I posted several months ago that Christie was the wrong candidate based solely on his obesity.
Christie isn't just slightly pudgy or soft around the edges as one might reasonably expect from too many years of working behind a desk. He's a fat pig, a beached whale, a walrus. I'm sorry, but being that obese just screams out: "I'm an undisciplined slob."
If Christie can't resist the temptation of too much food, how on Earth can he be expected to resist the temptation of corruption as Governor of NJ??? And based on the allegations by the Corzine camp, it looks like he can't.
More and more I am becoming convinced that the Republican Party is broken at a fundamental level. We are our own worst enemy. Democrats must spend their days reveling in the unbearable stupidity of the Republican party.
Another Bloomberg story on the flight from the dollar takes a less positive spin.
The Scientific American article is right, I think, in that those goals could be technically achieved if we put all our effort into it.
Although 2 things really bother me about the report:
1 - It completely ignores the substitution effects of renewables on fossil fuels. This is typical among these types of papers. They always assume that fossil fuel prices always and inevitably increase. This is foolish. There is still a lot of cheap gas/oil/coal in the world. If demand for fossil fuels drops tremendously, we would expect to see prices closer to those from 1998 than 2008, meaning that all the cost comparisons have to be re-figured.
2 - Without scouring the underlying data, it appears that they solve only for net annual generation without consideration for daily reliability. Grid reliability planning isn't determined by a "typical July day", it's determined by the hottest of hot days. On those days, load is at its highest and wind is likely to be close to it's lowest. In other words, the grid has to be constructed such that it is significantly overbuilt 99 days out of 100, and I'm not sure if the calculations for # of power plants needed are acceptable for the 1-out-of-100 days (or worse).
It's not SOX.
It's the realization that the risk-reward payoff for all asset classes must be equal. For a while, people believed that new companies, and new ideas, were as, well, likely to come along as Cisco, Microsoft, Intel, Adobe, and Ebay.
Most failed. Those with sufficient capital to put some aside for higher risk ventures began to realize that there was actually higher risk involved, and scaled back that allocation.
Just as now Americans are holding less of their wealth in equities, sensibly or no, because of the risk that they did not realize they were taking -- an S&P 500 where it was around 1998.
SOX is rounding error when it comes to an implicit 1% increase in the estimated cost of capital invested in venture capital projects. Truly. Do the math.
To follow up a bit, I'm not sure that the Scientific American article is ready for prime time.
Earlier I was able to download the report directly. Now there is no link to the report. There is a link to http://scientificamericandigital.com/ that is broken. Additionally, the report says to visit www.ScientificAmerican.com/sustainable-energy "to comment and see more detailed calculations". That link is broken and the address goes to nothing but a 404 page.
Furthermore, the report claims "Today the maximum power consumed worldwide at any given moment is about 12.5 trillion watts (terawatts, or TW), according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration." The EIA, from what I can tell lists 2006 energy demand as 472 quadrillion BTU, which converts to an average hourly use of 15.8 TW. Wikipedia lists average consumption as 16TW, also claiming to source from the EIA. So there's a chance that all the calculations in the article are based on an initial calculation that is perhaps half of what it should be.
Now that I've found a better set of links, I can see that the authors of the paper have attempted to address the concerns I had. For example, on their power consumption number, the larger paper reports, "The power required today to satisfy all end uses worldwide is about 12.5 trillion watts (TW) (Energy Information Administration, 2008a; end-use energy only, excludes losses in production and transmission)."