June 30, 2007

Genocide's OK if We Blame Someone Else...

Over at Winds of Change, Mark Danzinger has an excellent piece on  the NYT's recent Op-Ed .

Ignoring for a moment the resulting bloodbath that the NYT glosses over, abandoning those we have sworn to protect is very very poor foreign policy.

That it is ethically reprehensible certainly seems irrelevant to the Times.

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Burning Rage Boys

 Thankfully, the attack in Scotland today by the burning rage boys was ineptly executed, but the increased vigilance is certainly warranted.

  The Brits, as always, seemed to handle it with stride. Mr. Clarkson, by his actions, may have not just saved lives, he may have helped provide an intelligence coup as this is the rare case of a suicide bomber survivor. Had he not punched the terrorist, the asshat might have blown himself up and killed people....or simply burned to death.

Of course now the BBC has reported this capture, (hardly something the public has a right/need to know), so not only do we know of Mr. Clarkson's heroics, the bad guys know of the capture of one of their number and can, flee/ make adjustments/ kill weak links....

The BBC, so impartial they're on the other side.

Of course they are hardly alone in this regard someone else would have likely leaked this info even if they'd been responsible.

More news here.

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Terrible News

Kirk Sorensen's infant son died last night.

Send him a few kind words.

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June 28, 2007

Martian Weather News

A Babe in the Universe reports on the massive dust storm that is springing up on Mars right now.

More here....

This happens just as Opportunity is set to attempt a fairly perilous descent into an impact crater.

Tangentially related, in that they involve Mars, dust, and weather is this cool clip of some dust devils taken by Spirit....courtesy of Space.com

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I'm not sure what to say....

Which has always been a problem here, but this was unexpected....

At least I'm edgier than my old blog....which is rated G!

Colleen Doran gets an R rating

....as does ACE.

Instapundit is PG 13

Chizumatic rates an R...it seems because of the serious and edgy discussion that goes on there.

All the cool kids have darker and edgier ratings than me!

Well....there is only one thing for it......

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Case Ejecting Revolver ?

For the second time in as many weeks ACE posts a seriously interesting revolver pic.


No I have no idea what it is yet, but reading the comments, it seems this thing can actually extract the cases as they are fired!

That's unheard of in a revolver. If this were to work, it would make a good police or defensive firearm. One could top off ones cylinder like one can top off a weapon with a tube magazine, like a pump gun. This would be very good in a lot of tactical situations.

 Of course...given the general lack of these things filling gun store shelves, there is likely something I'm missing.

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June 27, 2007

Microsoft Table

Via Twentysided:

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June 26, 2007

I'm Sensing....Bitterness Perhaps?

I've no idea who did this...but I'm not entirely sure it's actually a "fan" piece.

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Oil From Algae

 The Brickmuppet's crack team of science geezers celebrate the construction of the first Algaeal oil plant...in Alabama.

Oil production from algae is highly promising for several reasons but gets not nearly the attention of other biofuel processes, in large part because it is incompatible with current farming methods. The Iowa corn Mafia is not going to plant algae next year.

 In my admittedly undergraduate opinion, this would seem to be  a feature rather than a bug. Algae will inherently not displace food production, nor will it use up "waste" portions of crops that are normally recycled into the soil, preserving soil quality.

  For some years I've been a member of a Yahoo group dedicated to this sort of thing....which from watching the news one would think is about the level of support its been getting worldwide. However there are several companies actively pursuing this as can be seen at this biodiesel wiki.

Algae can in theory, be grown off of sewage and in generally un-suitable areas for other crops. Algae has a high oil content....in some species over 50% making refining rather straightforward. Algae grows fast multiple crops can be pulled in in months, but the mechanics of how to avoid diminishing returns require fairly complex geometries in the incubators that are still being learned. Few companies have approached theoretical levels of oil production but the potential is rather stunning.

Compared to other biofuel crops (excepting, curiously, sugarcane)

Gallons of Oil per

Acre per Year











Oil Palm


Micro Algae


Chart is shamelessly stolen from here where one Thomas F. Reising (PhD) reports on some successes by a company called Green Fuel Technologies and at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. He estimates that biodiesel produced from 15,000 square miles (a drop in the bucket given the CONUS land area of over 3 million square miles) could produce all  the fuel for our transportation needs. Note that efficiencies actually can be higher than this as it seems to be assuming ponds as opposed to the more efficient "watertube greenhouses" most of the focus is now on ....often as side units to various manufacturing operations eating the CO2 emissions. More on Green Fuel Technologies can be found here.

Between this and small scale (backyard) operations the potential for a highly robust, distributed, renewable energy source fairly resistant to monopolistic tendencies is really interesting.

A rather less sanguine take can be found in this Popular Science article, but at least some of the issues raised here seem to have been dealt with by other companies/ universities as related above.

The Wikipedia page on Algaculture, while fairly cursory is here.
Many hours of time can be wasted perusing this facinating  Oil From algae Wiki..

One note:
Those numbers listed are concerned with oil production not total energy usage. The assumption is that power is added from somewhere to refine the oil.

Now algae is very easy to refine to oil, but it still must be refined and refining takes energy. Ignoring the solar energy the algae used to grow itself, Algael oil is one of the very few biofuels that can really fuel itself. It is very efficient. But to achieve its potential the power for the refining must come from elsewhere.

The highest density, least polluting energy source we have is nuclear...(I'm partial to thorium cycle reactors myself)

 Again, there is no free lunch.  We are (again )confronted with the simple fact that those who oppose nuclear power are not serious about the environment.

Oh...and one more thing....scarcely worth mentioning....
Regards the relative potential yield of various biofuels...take a look below the fold to grasp just what a boondoggle the corn to ethanol initiatives are......

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Impact Crater Found At Tunguska?

If this pans out it's really cool!

Update: via the Blogfather....more here.

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