Archive for August, 2015

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While Trump et al. were at the Iowa State Fair…

August 23, 2015

Rand Paul was in Haiti doing something that impresses me no end.

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Name that system Lucy

August 20, 2015

An efficient way to make carbon nanofibers is pretty cool, even if you’re not all that concerned about atmospheric CO2 concentration.

But will this process scale? That’s the question.

Now if they could only do this to make graphene. I’m waiting to see an electric car powered by graphene super-capacitors which are the car’s body panels. You’d have to add weight to make it stable.

‘Diamonds from the sky’ approach turns CO2 into valuable products

BOSTON, Aug. 19, 2015 — Finding a technology to shift carbon dioxide (CO2), the most abundant anthropogenic greenhouse gas, from a climate change problem to a valuable commodity has long been a dream of many scientists and government officials. Now, a team of chemists says they have developed a technology to economically convert atmospheric CO2 directly into highly valued carbon nanofibers for industrial and consumer products. […]

“We have found a way to use atmospheric CO2 to produce high-yield carbon nanofibers,” says Stuart Licht, Ph.D., who leads a research team at George Washington University. “Such nanofibers are used to make strong carbon composites, such as those used in the Boeing Dreamliner, as well as in high-end sports equipment, wind turbine blades and a host of other products.”

Previously, the researchers had made fertilizer and cement without emitting CO2, which they reported. […]

Licht calls his approach “diamonds from the sky.” That refers to carbon being the material that diamonds are made of, and also hints at the high value of the products, such as the carbon nanofibers that can be made from atmospheric carbon and oxygen.

Because of its efficiency, this low-energy process can be run using only a few volts of electricity, sunlight and a whole lot of carbon dioxide. At its root, the system uses electrolytic syntheses to make the nanofibers. CO2 is broken down in a high-temperature electrolytic bath of molten carbonates at 1,380 degrees F (750 degrees C). Atmospheric air is added to an electrolytic cell. Once there, the CO2 dissolves when subjected to the heat and direct current through electrodes of nickel and steel. The carbon nanofibers build up on the steel electrode, where they can be removed, Licht says. […]

Licht estimates electrical energy costs of this “solar thermal electrochemical process” to be around $1,000 per ton of carbon nanofiber product, which means the cost of running the system is hundreds of times less than the value of product output.

“We calculate that with a physical area less than 10 percent the size of the Sahara Desert, our process could remove enough CO2 to decrease atmospheric levels to those of the pre-industrial revolution within 10 years,” he says. […]

Via Gizmag

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The real american civil liberties organisation

August 19, 2015

Actually, I’m a little surprised that Texas would be doing something so silly. But you find this type of nonsense everywhere, I suppose.

You’ve gotta love the IJ.

Via What We Think and Why

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So food is a controlled substance in Venezuela?

August 19, 2015

I’m taking this video at face value. That is, I don’t know for certain how serious or how frequent the food shortages are in Venezuela. Based on other reports, though, I think they’re both pretty serious and pretty frequent.

So I have to wonder what the hell is going on When I see the military chasing down a food "smuggler."

Here’s a video from Operacion Libertad Venezuela.

¿Debería la gente espere a que el pan? Creo que no. El pan debe esperar a la gente.

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Props to the cop (2)

August 19, 2015

Chief Campanello puts his finger on the nub: "There is no way we can arrest our way out of this."

“The War on Drugs is Over, and We Lost,” Meet the Police Chief Who’s Starting a Revolution

Gloucester, MA — Leonard Campanello is not your average police officer, which makes him even more of an atypical police chief. While police departments across the United States double down on the war on drugs with more military gear and violence, Campanello is doing it right.

While cops continue busting down doors of suspected drug users, and killing their dogs, or killing them, Campanello is reaching out his hand. The Gloucester Police Department serves the small town of 30,000 people, and when they experienced their fourth heroin death in three months, Campanello realized that police violence was not the way to deal with the problem.

“The war on drugs is over,” Campanello said in an interview. “And we lost. There is no way we can arrest our way out of this. We’ve been trying that for 50 years. We’ve been fighting it for 50 years, and the only thing that has happened is heroin has become cheaper and more people are dying.”

The fact that a police chief is unafraid to speak such truth to power is astonishing. Despite the war on drugs being an abject failure and an immoral stain on humanity, police departments across the country continue to support it. Those who speak out against it are shunned by the same Police Unions who lobby congress for more strict drug laws.

However, Campanello says, no more.

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Intellectuals and capitalism

August 18, 2015

I think Mr Mackey makes a good point early in this clip about what amounts to snobbery, in a word. (After the mid-point, he gets off onto other topics.)

A free market is the most reliable way to let the next mad genius succeed.


Glenn Reynolds had a good op-ed on a related topic this week.

Fast moving bad news builds prosperity

Nassim Nicholas Taleb recently tweeted: “The free-market system lets you notice the flaws and hides its benefits. All other systems hide the flaws and show the benefits.”

This drew a response: “The most valuable property of the price mechanism is as a reliable mechanism for delivering bad news.” These two statements explain a lot about why socialist systems fail pretty much everywhere but get pretty good press, while capitalism has delivered truly astounding results but is constantly besieged by detractors.

It is simple really: When the “Great Leader” builds a new stadium, everyone sees the construction. Nobody sees the more worthwhile projects that didn’t get done instead because the capital was diverted, through taxation, from less visible but possibly more worthwhile ventures — a thousand tailor shops, bakeries or physician offices.

At the same time, markets deliver the bad news whether you want to hear it or not, but delivering the bad news is not a sign of failure, it is a characteristic of systems that work. When you stub your toe, the neurons in between your foot and your head don’t try to figure out ways not to send the news to your brain. If they did, you’d trip a lot more often. Likewise, in a market, bad decisions show up pretty rapidly: Build a car that nobody wants, and you’re stuck with a bunch of expensive unsold cars; invest in new technologies that don’t work, and you lose a lot of money and have nothing to show for it. These painful consequences mean that people are pretty careful in their investments, at least so long as they’re investing their own money. […]

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House of Claire

August 14, 2015

I’m not surprised that this happened. All’s fair in love & war, after all.

But I am a little shocked to see Senator McCaskill writing about her scheming – just calling a spade a spade – in Politico.

How I Helped Todd Akin Win — So I Could Beat Him Later
By SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL August 11, 2015

It was August 7, 2012, and I was standing in my hotel room in Kansas City about to shotgun a beer for the first time in my life. I had just made the biggest gamble of my political career—a $1.7 million gamble—and it had paid off. Running for reelection to the U.S. Senate as a Democrat from Missouri, I had successfully manipulated the Republican primary so that in the general election I would face the candidate I was most likely to beat. And this is how I had promised my daughters we would celebrate.

But first let me go back to the beginning. […]

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