6/23/2008

To George Carlin

Here’s a toast to George Carlin. I first heard a George Carlin album when I was about 10. We used to hang out at a friends house and his older brother had “Class Clown”. As an impressionable youth, I was immediately hooked. That set me on my quest to be a stand-up comic (see my Monty Python post a few weeks ago). It was great being a 5th grader who could recite “The 7 Words you can’t Say on Television”. …s$#@, p(&&, f^%$ , c&$%, c(*&s*&^%$#, mother%$#&^% and T(*&. The heavy seven, the ones that will infect your soul, curve your spine, and keep the country from winning the war”

Since you haven’t seen the HBO Special “The Amazing Jimbo”, it’s safe to say I never made it as a comedian. But that doesn’t keep me from trying. I figure if I tell enough jokes, sooner or later, one of them has to be funny based on the Laws of Probability (sorry Eldridge).

Here’s to you, George.

6/20/2008

Economic lesson 101 (again)

If we want to reduce the price of gas, we must do one of the 2 following things: Increase supply or reduce consumption. These are our only choices. Since we don't have control over China's, India's or any other country's consumption, we are left with exactly one choice: increase supply.

(for you liberals, was this lesson slow enough for you to understand?)

Let me see if I can get through to you with this example of basic economic supply vs demand principle.

You run a lemonade stand. It is outside and operates 365 days per year.
  • On a hot summer day, there is a line to purchase your product. You can increase your price and people will still pay for a cup (High demand, unlimited supply).
  • On a cold winter day, there is no one lined up, even though you have reduced your price to almost cost and you fear that your ingredients will spoil (low demand, unlimited supply).
  • On a hot summer day, you find your supplies running out. Your customers begin bidding up the price to get a cup. (High Demand, limited supply)
This is how it works, like it or not. At the moment, the oil industry is experiencing a hot day with limited supplies.

6/19/2008

Sue Opec?

Thomas Evans writes in the New York Times that suing OPEC would be a good idea. the idea is that OPEC has broken the US anti-trust laws and therefore can and should be sued.

THE president of the United States has the power to attack, and perhaps destroy, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, the illegal cartel that has driven the price of oil over $130 per barrel. This can be accomplished without invasion or bombing. No special legislation is needed. The president need simply allow the states to seek relief in the Supreme Court under our antitrust laws.
ooookaaay... Lets go with this. Let's sue them. After all, it must be a good idea to bite the hand that supplies us with the majority of our oil. And win or lose this lawsuit, we will succeed.... succeed in pissing off the oil producers so much so that the global oil prices will be reduced. How? Because when America's share of the oil is redistributed to the other countries that have NOT pissed them off, there then will be ample supply for everyone else, just not Americans.

Let me give Mr. Evans an analogy, I will sue Tavern on the Green because their prices are too much for me to afford. During my lawsuit, I get a bonus and now want to take my significant other to the best restaurant in the city, so we go to Tavern on the Green who recognizes me as the jerk who is suing them. Should I expect good service? Should I expect any service at all?

Bottom line, suing OPEC will not create one more drop of oil. It will not reduce the price of gas. It will not solve our energy problem. In fact, it will do just the opposite. It will decrease our supply of oil because OPEC doesn't have to sell oil to us. Thus, it will drastically increase the price of gas and further exacerbate the problem.

On so many levels, suing OPEC would be extremely stupid. But for loony liberal logic, I guess it makes sense.

Geeky Engineering Stuff

My fellow “Reality Distillates” should have known that would only be a matter of time before I threw in some engineering geek stuff. Here is a wonderful book that I recommend. There is a lot more to ceramics than making birdbaths and bathroom sinks.

The Magic of Ceramics
David W. Richerson, Bonnie J. Dunbar (Foreword by)
ISBN: 978-1-57498-050-9
Hardcover
302 pages
February 2000

Description
What do the following things have in common: the space shuttle, cosmetics, color TVs, concrete, and kayaks? Ceramics! All these items are made of or include ceramics, the most common and diverse of all materials - yet most of us would be surprised at its variety of uses. You will be amazed by how ceramics make possible such diverse products as cellular phones, many of your favorite sporting goods, radio, television, and lasers. You will be surprised by how ceramics are used in medicine for cancer treatments and restoring hearing, in our cars, and even in some cosmetics. This book introduces readers to the many exciting applications of ceramics. By using simplified technical explanations, it answers the question: How do ceramics improve your everyday life? It describes how the ceramic material functions, and why it is superior to other materials, while teaching key scientific concepts like atomic structure, color, and the electromagnetic spectrum.

Table of Contents
Our Constant Companions.
From Pottery to the Space Shuttle.
The Beauty of Ceramics.
Ceramics and Light.
Amazing Strength and Stability.
Ceramics and the Electronics Age.
Piezo Power.
Medical Miracles.
Ceramics and the Modern Automobile.
Heat Beaters.
The Hardest Materials in the Universe.
Energy and Pollution Control.

On sale at Amazon for only $38.65. It is currently #1,711,433 on the Amazon Best Seller list

6/18/2008

Celtics win

Stayed up too to watch the Celtics. It was nice to see a unselfish teamwork for a change in the NBA. Maybe NBA teams will realize that hard work and team play win championships (Celtics, Spurs, Lakers, Pistons), not hyped-up, thug culture ball (Nuggets)

6/08/2008

Hope and Change

"Hope and Change" - Another Barack Obama Campaign Slogan. Translation: 'I hope I have some change leftover when Obama Leaves Office".

Change We Can Believe In

"Change We Can Believe In" is Barak Obama's catch phrase. The only change I can believe in is what is jingling in my pocket and my in my change jars. If Obama is elected, this will be the only change I'll have left.

6/05/2008

Monty Python Ramblings

I was warped at an early age by Monty Python. When I was about 12 or 13, one of the older kids in the neighborhood said that there was show on PBS called Monty Python's Flying Circus and it sometimes showed topless women!!! When you were young back in the "old days" (before the internet or even HBO), catching a short glance at something on a 19" TV was as close to heaven as you could get.

Well, Monty Python did show an occasional quick shot of a topless model, but they were few and far between. While endlessly waiting for them to show some naughty bits, I started to enjoy the humor. The next summer, our cable system started offering HBO and had a free preview for about a month. One of the movies playing that month was Monty Python and The Holy Grail. My friends and I must have watched about 10 times. The killer rabbit and "bring out your dead" had me hooked.

No need to repeat the lines. It's getting late and I have to work tomorrow. But here are some links that may be of interest

http://pythonline.com/daily

This link has the Script to The Holy Grail. Now you can impress your friends by quoting the exact phrases from your favorite scene.
http://www.mwscomp.com/movies/grail/grail.htm

Some more movie scrpt links to Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life. Not all of the links work but there is lots of interesting stuff if you fish around
http://www.mwscomp.com/movies/brian/b-script.htm

Now it's time for an extended rest after writing this prolonged squawk.

6/04/2008

Hooked on Real Reality Shows

Two years ago, I got hooked on the Discovery Channel series “Deadliest Catch”. That’s the show that films the crab fisherman in the Alaska. I have no idea why I find it interesting, but I do. The first part of the new season was a little boring but last night’s episode was better. They are now fishing in the winter in the Bearing Sea. The nice thing about networks like the Discovery Channel and the History Channel is that they repeat the show a couple of times during the week, so if you miss the original air date, it will be on again.

There are 2 similar shows on the History Channel that I also enjoy, Ice Road Truckers and Axe Men. They have the same script; follow people around as they do difficult jobs.
Ax Men is finishing up its season and Ice Road Truckers starts a new run of shows next week.

So after a day of crunching data and writing experimental reports as a process development engineer, these shows offer a nice change of pace (and they sure are a lot better than American Idol).

6/03/2008

Kids grow up too fast

Recently, I had my kids for the weekend and we in the car. The kids wanted to listen to some music so I pulled out a ZZ Top CD. I asked my daughter, who was sitting in the front, to put the case back in the glove box. She was looking at the cover and said “That’s gross. How can someone go out dressed like that?” I looked at the cover and noticed that there was a 1980’s vintage, big hair girl in the background. I asked her what was wrong with it and she said that the girl hardly had anything on.

As soon as she said that, my 8 year old son chimed in from the back seat, “Can I see?”

The Fallacy of Raising the Gas Tax

More and more, I hear people saying that the government should raise the gas tax to help wean the country off foreign oil. Not only is this coming from the environmentalist side but now it’s starting to make its way into the realm of the conservatives. The logic is simple, use the tax revenue to provide funding for alternative energy research. How can anyone be against that? All we need to do is provide some funding for someone to figure out how to do it.

We live in the greatest country civilization has ever seen. Generations of Americans have used the capitalistic ideals of good ideas and a strong work ethic to improve their lives and the lives of others. Today, however, new technology is expensive so a little capital to jump start the process can’t hurt, right?

In theory, it’s hard to argue with this approach. But as with any good idea, the devil is in the details. And we have one great, big devil (so to speak) in the details of this plan. It’s called Government.

Can anyone name a program run by the Government that is efficient and cost effective? Yeah, I thought so. Let’s look at the track record. Welfare? I guess it helps a few who really need, but how many people fall into the “lifestyle”. Whether it is the inner city or rural America, there are numerous 3rd generation welfare trash sitting on their @$$, pumping out kids, and feeling entitled to your taxes. Social Security? Pork Barrel entitlements from Congress? You get the point.

Can you really expect the Government to efficiently manage a program flush with cash? And can we trust them? Back in the 1980’s, when Mario Cuomo controlled NY, he raised the gas tax to cover the cost of road repairs. The increase was supposed to go into a special fund specifically for roads repair and improvement. Being a na├»ve conservative, I actually thought this was a good idea. After all, I drove on the roads, and they could use some repairs, so I didn’t have a problem with paying to help keep them up. Two years later, the NY state legislature voted to put the special fund road repair money in with the general fund. Their reasoning was that road repairs came from the general fund so why not put all of it there. But the general fund also paid the rest of the bills so there was no way be certain that the extra gas tax revenues were actually going to road repair or some other mismanaged program. So the tax went up, the roads didn’t get fixed , and NY state drivers are still paying extra.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe that we absolutely have to find a way to develop alternative energy. As a country, how can we protect ourselves when we have to rely on an energy source controlled by despots and barbarians, all the while competing with China and India for the resources? Here is a better idea. Let’s use tax breaks to encourage businesses and entrepreneurs to invest in alternative energy. Allow the capitalist system to work. Americans have always been good at innovation, government has not. Let’s streamline the process for building wind farms by not subjecting companies to frivolous lawsuits because it may hurt a subspecies of bat that is nearly identical to other bat populations or it may be ruin the view of the Kennedy’s and other rich socialites when it id placed 20 miles off the coast of Nantucket. Let’s build some more nuclear plants. If the French can manage a national system of nuclear power without screwing it up we should be able to. But whatever we do, don’t give the government more money.