Thursday, November 23, 2006

Objectivity AP style

From here:
The bloodshed underlined the impotence of the Iraqi army and police to quell determined sectarian extremists at a time when the Bush administration appears to be considering a move to accelerate the hand-over of security responsibilities.
It must not take too many brains to become a journalist if they needn't be able to distinguish between, say, failing and being a failure. They may ultimately be right in this case, but this article isn't enough to prove it. Did they just screw up this once, or are they incompetent and/or biased?

Do the usual suspects (ACU, ADA..) or anyone else rate newspapers for objectivity? Is lack of objectivity in reporting considered an ethical lapse among journalists?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Crumbs from the table

!@#$! Colby Cosh, the Canuckistani. *Just try* to link to one of his posts. It'd be different if his blog stunk, but it's one of my favorites, and every trip seems to generate a couple of linkworthy items. So let's see how long it takes before this link rots.

Anyway, yes, I know that the great Milton Friedman is dead. I didn't acknowledge it until now only because I had no idea what I could add. But CC came up with a story I hadn't heard before, showing how some people could have made an impressive career out of stuff Milton Friedman probably didn't even include on his CV.

What happens to abandoned blogs


That'll never happen here. I may (have) run out of things to write, but that won't stop me.

Driving a truck isn't what it used to be

There were some truckers in my family, and in younger years I'd ride with them once in a while. If nothing else, I learned that I didn't want to be a trucker.

But it's getting more livable out there. I still don't want to be a trucker, but nowadays it might take a couple more weeks longer before I lost my mind.

An interesting perspective on Iran

Quoth Spengler:That's just the most eye-catching part - it's all worth a look.

I don't recall where I found this, but a good bet was in the comments on Austin Bay's blog. It's always worth a look anyway.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Time to invest in micro CHP?

Maybe. But first it would be nice to know what it is.

CHP is "combined heat and power". It's really old news in industrial settings that use a lot of heat and power, but the typical implementations require lots of capital, space and skilled attention. And the proportions of heat and power are essentially fixed - one or the other will be either supplemented or wasted to match the actual demands.

Micro-CHP is an prepackaged implementation, like an appliance, designed for residential application. See this for an example.

Why buy it? You can generate your own heat and power for prices comparable to that for heat alone using readily available gas. And although the systems are not available yet, around 2007 they should be available as residential backup power systems.

Drawbacks: capital costs mean you'll wait a while for your full payback. And it still uses fossil fuels.

Electric utilities have mixed emotions about these devices. To understand why it helps to recognize a couple of things about the power business.

It's the peaks in load that are expensive to service - power generating companies must have the capacity to service it yet they can only use this capacity at peaks, which means high costs. Imagine if you could get by with a Beetle 99% of the time, but the rest of the time you might have to drive into a swamp or need to travel over 100 MPH, so you had to have a Land Rover and a Maserati on standby. It might be fun, but it's not something you make money with.

And these higher costs can be exacerbated when power distribution companies are forced to bid against each other for power during the very highest peaks. In severe cases businesses will shut down deliberately to reduce load, which of course is an economic hit to the business and community. At the worst there will be blackouts when utilities find themselves incapable of delivering power.

In short, electric utilities want to mitigate peak demands when they can. Micro-CHP can help if the peak demand is in heating season.

In cooling season? The heat must be rejected somewhere, which both adds capital costs and reduces the usable energy output for a given input. Under exceptional circumstances this might be worthwhile, but I wouldn't expect much of this.

Anyway, this might be the Next Big Thing, if only for the kind of people who like to buy hybrid cars nowadays. And it shows potential to do much more. Check out more here.