mm294: Making the world unsafe for bats and birds

February 23, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

Wind power, as are all alternatives to our majority present day power generation technologies, is of increasing interest, especially as coal-fired power and nuclear power plants are presently deemed obnoxious.

This nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© has covered alternative energy a number of times, and wind power specifically, most recently here and here.

Today’s NYTimes journeys to Texas to find the fastest growing region for wind power generation, since nothing, but nothing is done by half in Texas (except, perhaps, the wits of our sitting President, most proud of his Texas origin).

nytimes

The Energy Challenge

Move Over, Oil, There’s Money in Texas Wind

By CLIFFORD KRAUSS | Published: February 23, 2008

SWEETWATER, Tex. — The wind turbines that recently went up on Louis Brooks’s ranch are twice as high as the Statue of Liberty, with blades that span as wide as the wingspan of a jumbo jet. More important from his point of view, he is paid $500 a month apiece to permit 78 of them on his land, with 76 more on the way.

“That’s just money you’re hearing,” he said as they hummed in a brisk breeze recently.

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mm293: Star Wars, finally ready for prime time

February 22, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

Shooting a missile at a satellite is rocket science. And, apparently, a year late, we’ve figured it out.

washingtonpost

Spy Satellite’s Downing Shows a New U.S. Weapon Capability

By Marc Kaufman and Josh White | Washington Post Staff Writers | Friday, February 22, 2008; Page A03

The unprecedented downing of an errant spy satellite by a Navy missile makes it clear that the Pentagon has a new weapon in its arsenal — an anti-satellite missile adapted from the nation’s missile defense program.

While the dramatic intercept took place well below the altitude where most satellites orbit, defense and space experts said Wednesday night’s first-shot success strongly suggests that the military has the technology and know-how to knock out satellites at much higher orbits.

When the plans were announced a week or so ago, we were bemused.

The physics required have got to be astounding. See, the satellite is in a deteriorating orbit, so it might not be acting totally predictably.

The missile was built, of course, by the lowest bidder.

And they launched it from a missile cruiser sailing in the Pacific, which any mariner will tell you is totally falsely named.

I’m thinking the challenge was tantamount to shooting an arrow at a duck in flight several miles away, from the back of a rodeo bull.

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mm292: Voting technology: –Fragmented, fragile, in flux–

February 21, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

All of this fancy electronic equipment we’ve been blithely voting with… how accurate is it, really? And even those paper ballots and those infamous hanging chad laden punch cards… how careful, how bullet proof is the counting and authentication process?

This is a topic that during this marathon of an election season continues to trouble yr (justifiably) humble svt, so much so that we’ve tackled it a couple of times over the past few months (here and here most recently).

ars technica is a site that stirs guilty feelings, as one never gets there frequently enough. Tonight, as is typical, the long delayed visit was rewarded by a fresh look at the topic of ballot authentication.

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mm291: White (haired) man speak with forked tongue

February 20, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

Late start tonight; busy day led to a busy evening.

Did get time to step outside into the crystal clear 13°F night to gander at the lunar eclipse.

Very cool. Cold, actually, but fun to see.

Puts our everyday concerns into perspective, when you get that all too rare chance to slow down, pause and look up to see the cosmos working in its own time and rhythm.

To business.

As part of the NYTimes series of extended coverage of the presidential candidates, they’ve just published the following:

nytimes

For McCain, Self-Confidence on Ethics Poses Its Own Risk

By JIM RUTENBERG, MARILYN W. THOMPSON, DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK and STEPHEN LABATON | Published: February 21, 2008

WASHINGTON — Early in Senator John McCain’s first run for the White House eight years ago, waves of anxiety swept through his small circle of advisers.

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mm290: Gassing ’bout birds and supermen

February 19, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

Quirky things going on out there, folks. None seem expansive enough to go all expansive on you, so we’re going to have another episode of SASB:

shortattention_thumb2 ©

Gassing…

A couple of scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory have, they claim, found a way to turn airborne carbon dioxide back into gasoline.

nytimes

Scientists Would Turn Greenhouse Gas Into Gasoline

By KENNETH CHANG | Published: February 19, 2008

The scientists, F. Jeffrey Martin and William L. Kubic Jr., are proposing a concept, which they have patriotically named Green Freedom, for removing carbon dioxide from the air and turning it back into gasoline.

The idea is simple. Air would be blown over a liquid solution of potassium carbonate, which would absorb the carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide would then be extracted and subjected to chemical reactions that would turn it into fuel: methanol, gasoline or jet fuel.

This process could transform carbon dioxide from an unwanted, climate-changing pollutant into a vast resource for renewable fuels. The closed cycle — equal amounts of carbon dioxide emitted and removed — would mean that cars, trucks and airplanes using the synthetic fuels would no longer be contributing to global warming.

Of course, there’s a hitch, there’s always a hitch.

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mm289: Recession: Paying the price for letting our power bleed away

February 18, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

Distracting as the events of the day can be, when we get right down to it, the dire rumblings of our deteriorating economic state cannot be deflected for long.

Almost official

Last Thursday, our scholarly if modestly effective Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, finally said what he’s been hinting at for months: the economy hasn’t seen the floor yet.

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mm288: Videogames. Real warfare. An unsettling fusion

February 17, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

Mark Benjamin, writing in Salon.com, opened our eyes this weekend with an exclusive look inside the U.S. Air Force’s operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And the illuminating article allows this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© to return to an abiding interest, what’s going on up there in the sky?

The changing face of military aviation

eighth in an occasional series

The series so far…

No

Title

Link

1

U.S. pilot helped clear the fog of war

mm142

2

Go to war — Play videogames

mm155

3

Osprey: A Flying Shame

mm163

4

Abolish the Air Force

mm183

5

Proxy killers — Can you live with that?

mm211

6

A Maginot Line for the 21st Century

mm215

7

A shared obsession is a satisfying thing

mm225

The videogame theme has struck yr (justifiably) humble svt before. Take a look.

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