We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Saturday, August 20. 2016
Early one morning the sun was shining. I was laying in bed. Must be Saturday.
In my grandparent's lifetime, everyone was expected to work at least half a day on Saturday. Sunday was the only day of rest. My great-grandparents didn't even get that. They had to ask for a whole day off from working far in advance, and their wish might not necessarily be granted.
The peasant working class is reappearing everywhere. Tugging their forelock and saying, "Morning, Guvna" as they hold the door open for their latest Uber cab customer. Hawkers and pedlars don't take the weekends off. That's when they hunt their prey. Er, that didn't sound right. Leisure hours for others are target rich environments. Hmm. That sounded a trifle violent as well. Anyway, they work weekends.
Even the hoity toity don't get Saturday off in the traditional sense anymore. Unless they're smart enough to claim their cellphone ran out of batteries on the weekend. That doesn't work on a steady basis. After all, excuses must be refreshed from time to time. You can only attend your grandmother's funeral like four or five times before the boss catches on.
On to the links!
While everyone was busy worrying where a doltish swimmer lost his wallet, the NSA was teaching every bad actor and tinpot dictatorship how to hack even the most secure systems. It's OK, I imagine, because they didn't mean to. Comey means never having to say you're sorry.
Look at the headline. It's magnificent. I love watching Millennials trying to operate punctuation and spelling. Apparently all twelve years of regular schooling now consists of the advice: Take a stab at it. Anyway, we ran a link yesterday that mentioned that internet security warnings often get ignored. This is why ignoring them is usually a good idea.
Half of that list is stupid. The other half would be useless if it were practical, which they won't be. Self-driving cars aren't a problem to be solved, because there's no problem there. Why do Millennials want to sit in a booster seat clutching a ziploc bag of Cheerios and a Gameboy until they're ready for a nursing home? Drive your own damn car. It's not that hard if you're not texting.
Wow, it really is Jimmy Carter's second and third term. BEOG grants are coming back. Can roller disco be far behind? They really did call them BEOG grants back in the day. It's like calling a cash-hole an ATM machine.
This is news? The Pentagon also planned nuclear strikes against the Vatican and Turks and Caicos back in the '60s. That's what they do. If they didn't plan fourteen different ways to move the Soviet Union six inches to the right, the hard way, they should have been fired.
Our friend Gerard remembers that Randy Newman has long since caught up with his famous relatives.
See what I mean? No high-schooler should be on FriendFace. WWTCLTOPED? Luckily, it'll flop, because kids think Friendface is for olds.
Have a lovely weekend, Maggie's readers. Drop your smartphone into the lake, by accident, on purpose, and take two full days off from work.
Tracked: Aug 21, 09:14
Tracked: Aug 23, 21:06
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It was inevitable that the lawyers would get their hooks into Uber. This is just the beginning. Before Uber rolls over and spreads their legs they should think about that. If I were Uber I would consider going Galt. Get their corporate lawyers together on a Friday afternoon and by Sunday night dismantle the company, pay off the creditors and distribute the funds to the shareholders. Monday morning grab a flight to Tahiti and forget it all.
I doesn't feel weird to me that online advertisers tailor their pitches to me. I just wish they'd get better at it. Lately I've taken enormous pleasure looking through ads for beautiful, wild-looking boots nearly every morning, just because someone has my number. OK by me. I still retain the important function of the "off" button.
Half of that list is stupid. The other half would be useless if it were practical, which they won't be.
This is where your curmudgeoninity leads you astray. Many of those technologies have the potential to transform society.
It is difficult to know at this point which new technologies will be successful and transform society partly because of the tendencies for scientists and companies to exaggerate the benefits of their discoveries and largely because the cost is hidden and needs to be subsidized by governments and others. Will these incredibly expensive and environment harming batteries transform the Madagascan society? If so will the Madagascans pay for it or will the West somehow have to foot the bill? I find it hard to believe that poverty stricken Madagascans will be able to pony up billions so they can have lights.
Every couple of years there is a predictable headline in the scientific journals about a new breakthrough in solar power. Cheaper photovoltaic cells, more efficient, longer lasting, easier to manufacture, etc. But after the big hoopla fades away the cost of PV is still incredibly high, still requires incredibly expensive government subsidies and rate payer expenses and even with these subsidies cost far more than conventional power does. After awhile shouldn't we recognize that we are the Charlie Brown's and the alternative energy lobby are the Lucy holding the "football" only to yank it away again and watch us fall on our ass? I submit that "THAT" is the big transformation of society; a never ending scaming of the public who pays and pays for broken promises and always ends up falling on our ass again and again.
SweetPea: Will these incredibly expensive and environment harming batteries transform the Madagascan society?
Newer batteries and solar cells are expected to be much less expensive, and more environmentally friendly, while solar energy is already beginning to transform Madagascan rural society.
I went and read the WWF article. To say that solar is already transforming Madagacan rural society is quite the stretch. Lots of coulds and shoulds, if only those Euopean ninnies will pony up some more money to the cause.
Insert SweetPeas' first and second paragraph, here...
In Madagascar, businesses have sprung up which provide cellular telephone connectivity as well as providing charging stations for cell phones, all powered by solar. Having access to cellular technology is certainly "transforming". Furthermore, many rural medical clinics now have power provided by solar.
Elisabeth's 13 children were born by candlelight. Her daughter, who has just become a mother for the first time, was more "fortunate".
Now, in Antasahadinta hospital in rural Madagascar, the use of solar energy means stories like Elisabeth's have been consigned to history -- a small success for a power source so abundant yet so hard to tap on a continent fraught with poverty, lacking infrastructures and prone to instability.
Going from giving birth by candlelight to having electricity for lights and other medical equipment is certainly "transforming". Again, that's just in Madagascar. Solar is currently providing electricity to millions of people who aren't connected to a power grid, and solar is expected to provide electricity to millions more in the near future.
"a power source so abundant yet so hard to tap on a continent fraught with poverty"
Sounds great but who pays for it and how much. With enough money we could buy them all Mercedes and their children could be born in the bright light of their headlights, but would that make sense?
My point is simple: Solar is not cheap, these people live in poverty so someone else has to pay. Why? Why does someone else ALWAYS have to pay and the deal is always couched in glowing feel good statements. Why not let the people who benefit pay and/or make their own choices and NOT force others to pay???
SweetPea: Sounds great but who pays for it and how much.
In rural Africa, where there may be no access to the power-grid, solar panels are making cellular connectivity cheaper and more available, which is helping to transform Africa. A Maasai goat herder in rural Kenya can use his cellphone to find water and green grasses, or to determine commodity prices in Nairobi so he can know when to take his product to market.
Glowing feel good statements. Who pays for it?
SweetPea: Glowing feel good statements.
If you mean facts that make you feel good, then sure. The Massai, and many others, really are adopting modern technology, much of which is due to advances in solar power.
SweetPea: Glowing feel good statements. Who pays for it?
People pay for cellphone service, which is leading to the proliferation of new cellular towers. The Kenyan government is paying for some charging stations, just like your government presumably pays for the public roads that you use. New businesses are springing up that sell access to charging stations. Many of these rely on solar power because the long-range costs are lower than diesel fuel.
The key is that solar is much cheaper in many rural areas than trying to hook people up to the electrical grid.
So it is safe to assume by the way you keep dancing around the question that the poor people in Madagascar DO NOT pay for it and someone else is on the hook for the bill. But wait! The Masai herd goats or something...
SweetPea: So it is safe to assume by the way you keep dancing around the question that the poor people in Madagascar DO NOT pay for it and someone else is on the hook for the bill.
If you had read our previous comment, money comes from a number of sources, including consumers, businesses trying to fill consumer demand, and governments providing basic infrastructure, just as they do in most countries, including, most likely, your country.
SweetPea: But wait! The Masai herd goats or something...
Fact: Maasai pastoralists go mobile. Much of this technology is now supported by solar power because it is cheaper than diesel in many areas.
You don't have to sell me on PV or technology. I have a PV panel on my camping trailer and love it. No more generator, don't really need to plug in and maintenance free (at least until the batteries need replacing). But that setup cost about $900. I paid for it. I would have happily accepted a check from you or the government but none was forth coming so I paid for it.
The question is still about the poverty stricken people in Madagascar and their new PV system. Who paid for it? It could well be the rich people in Madagascar but somehow I doubt it. It could be the organization of African states but that's very unlikely. It could be Pope Francis or the Mormans but probably not. It could be Bill Gates foundation (which really means the American taxpayers pay 40% of it. It could be the Clinton foundation... Bwahahahaha!!!
But someone pays for it and I'm guessing the American taxpayer is on the hook for some major part of it. No one asked me. I resent that. The least they could do is tell me even after the fact. A simple thank you would be nice too.
Look there is a Masai worrier with a goat!!!
SweetPea: But that setup cost about $900.
Sure, and throughout the developing world, businesses are setting up cellular towers. Solar is cheaper and more reliable in many areas than diesel. Cheaper means faster penetration of new services. These businesses also provide power to locals so they can charge their phones.
Yadda, yadda, yadda.
So who pays for Madagascar's PV???
Don't know do you? All you can do is trot out distractions.
Look there is another Masai warrior with a cell phone!
You don't read very well.
Money comes from a number of sources, including consumers, businesses trying to fill consumer demand, and governments providing basic infrastructure, just as they do in most countries, including, most likely, your country.
Yadda, yadda, "Money comes from a number of sources, including consumers, businesses trying to fill consumer demand, and governments providing basic infrastructure" Yadda.
But these are poor people without a pot to piss in. So who paid and I don't consider "Money comes from a number of sources" to be an answer. What sources? Are you saying the Madagascan government paid for it? Somehow I doubt it because being a poor country they would have picked a cheap solution and PV isn't cheap. Somebody with deep pockets paid for it. Hmmmmm! Who has deep pockects?
Whoa! There goes another Masai warrior with a cell phone and a goat.
Are you particularly concerned about Madagascar? Do you think it is representative of developing countries?
Median income in Madagascar is about $1000 per year. Poverty is widespread, but not everyone is poor. U.S. aid is about $80 million per year.
The question concerns new technology and how it can transform developing countries. The example of Kenyan pastoralists certainly represents an example.
I am particularly concerned about who pays. While it may be a wonderful thing that poor people with an average yearly income of $1000 get technology that helps them why should I pay for it? There are probably about 3 trillion "poor" people in the world should we all be taxed into poverty to help them?
I am also concerned about the scam that is alternative energy. Without exception all of the alternative energy options that are being pushed cost far more than they produce. This isn't a secret. The experts and politicians know that none of these technologies will perform as advertised and yet we keep subsidizing them and mandating them. IF the PV for Madagascar was practical it wouldn't need massive influxes of money from other people and other countries.
SweetPea: I am particularly concerned about who pays. While it may be a wonderful thing that poor people with an average yearly income of $1000 get technology that helps them why should I pay for it?
In most of the developing world, cellular phone technology is paid for by consumers. Where there is no access to the power grid, most new installations are going solar because it is significantly cheaper than diesel (ignoring externalities).
All of the evidence shows that solar or more specifically PV is NOT cheaper than diesel. In fact it a significantly more expensive. What I believe you are trying to slip past us is that AFTER the subsidies that PV is low enough in cost to be competitive with traditional power generation options. What I'm asking is who pays? Not how happy are all the Madagascans. Not that individual Madagascans pay for their own cell phone. Who pays for the PV system? Who subsidizes it? There are no PV systems of any significance that are not subsidized simply because it is such a poor alternative energy option. So someone pays for it.
While poverty is still widespread in Africa, there are about 350 million people in the African middle class spending about $1 trillion per year. They are primarily young, entrepreneurial, and acquisitive.
Nearly 1 in 2 Malagasy now have a cell phone subscription.
This relates to the topic concerning how new technologies, such as spread spectrum technology, can transform societies.
SweetPea: It is difficult to know at this point which new technologies will be successful and transform society
While certainly true, most of the listed items have strong potential. Self-driving cars will probably become normal within a few decades. Smart cars are already becoming standard. The implications of this, along with other smart robots, will only become clear as the technology unfolds.
Re: U.S. Judge Rejects Uber’s Proposed $100 Million Settlement With Drivers
This reminds me of the suit against Microsoft. If you sign up as a contractor, you are a contractor not an employee. Coming back later and saying you are eligible for employment bennies is just attempted theft.
Yes, they are expected to be better and cheaper. No doubt they will be. Some day. My breath is not being held.
re Top 10 Ways Wood Pellets Beat Firewood
Reasons firewood beats pellets:
1) It's cheaper, by an order of magnitude.
2) I don't have to drive 50 miles to obtain a supply.
If it came to it, I would burn coal before I would burn wood pellets.
SweetPea: All of the evidence shows that solar or more specifically PV is NOT cheaper than diesel.
Why Cellular Towers in Developing Nations Are Making the Move to Solar Power
A cost and reliability comparison between solar and diesel powered pumps
SweetPea: What I'm asking is who pays?
In India, the government subsidizes diesel. In your country, the government probably provides a lot of infrastructure, presumably roads among other things.