Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Catch

Glenn links to an Ambrose Evans-Pritchard column in the U.K. Telegraph urging Obama to back large-scale research into thorium reactors:

There is no certain bet in nuclear physics but work by Nobel laureate Carlo Rubbia at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) on the use of thorium as a cheap, clean and safe alternative to uranium in reactors may be the magic bullet we have all been hoping for, though we have barely begun to crack the potential of solar power.

Dr Rubbia says a tonne of the silvery metal – named after the Norse god of thunder, who also gave us Thor’s day or Thursday - produces as much energy as 200 tonnes of uranium, or 3,500,000 tonnes of coal. A mere fistful would light London for a week.

Thorium eats its own hazardous waste. It can even scavenge the plutonium left by uranium reactors, acting as an eco-cleaner. "It’s the Big One," said Kirk Sorensen, a former NASA rocket engineer and now chief nuclear technologist at Teledyne Brown Engineering.

"Once you start looking more closely, it blows your mind away. You can run civilisation on thorium for hundreds of thousands of years, and it’s essentially free. You don’t have to deal with uranium cartels," he said.

Thorium is so common that miners treat it as a nuisance, a radioactive by-product if they try to dig up rare earth metals. The US and Australia are full of the stuff. So are the granite rocks of Cornwall. You do not need much: all is potentially usable as fuel, compared to just 0.7pc for uranium.

Sounds good, and I'm all in favor of lots of small-scale nuclear reactors as electrical power sources. There's just one problem with Evans-Pritchard's stance, though:

You might have thought that thorium reactors were the answer to every dream but when CERN went to the European Commission for development funds in 1999-2000, they were rebuffed.

Brussels turned to its technical experts, who happened to be French because the French dominate the EU’s nuclear industry. "They didn’t want competition because they had made a huge investment in the old technology," he said.

Ah, incumbents with vast investments in old technology and deep hooks into the politicians. Evans-Pritchard rightly bemoans the thorium-blocking tactics of such incumbents in Europe.

But who's got the heart to break it to him that General Electric and GE employees are among Obama's lead campaign donors, with well over $3 million in donations to Democrats over the last two election cycles?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Petard? Check. Hoist? Check.

The Blogfaddah is (correctly) fond of noting that he'll take jet-setting "Green" lefties seriously about global warming just as soon as he sees them taking it seriously in with their own behavior. In the same vein, I don't think anybody should be placing too much stock in economic or business advice coming from the Washington Post or Newsweek. Check out this tidbit, buried at the end of a Politico blurb regarding the WaPo Company's remaining profitable subsidiary:

In the last two fiscal years, The Washington Post Company’s newspaper division lost $356 million, while Kaplan’s higher education unit, not even counting its test prep business, posted a profit of $450 million.

I thought it was a big deal with Creative Loafing reported that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was losing $1 million a week. If the Politico story above is correct, the WaPo is losing about half a million dollars a day. That makes the AJC look like middling country cousins.

Rather delightfully, the Politico piece includes a quote from WaPo honcho Don Graham whining about the effects of Obama Administration regulations on the Kaplan division.

As ye sow, so shall ye reap...

Friday, August 27, 2010


Rich Lowry:

In the last 20 months, Democrats have had the power to do almost everything they want, except command the allegiance of the public. That has made them and their allies feel embattled, isolated and perpetually aggrieved. They act like a forlorn minority at the same time they control every lever of elective power in Washington.

In the midst of a catastrophic loss of the middle, Obama's supporters exhort him to get more angry, insistent and ambitiously liberal. Having already pushed for a bridge too far, they want to go farther still. When they can't, they conclude it's a damning indictment of Obama's failure of nerve and the nation's ungovernablility.

There's little acknowledgment that the country is in a different place than they are. To the extent there is, so much worse for the country, which is condemned for its backwardness and intolerance. The majority is not just wrong on immigration enforcement and the Ground Zero mosque, it's contemptible. Who knew that the American public would get accused of bigotry more often after electing an African-American president than before?

As former Bush speechwriter Peter Wehner writes, liberals "are expressing deepening alienation from our nation and turning on the American people with a vengeance." They thought they had a mandate from heaven in 2008 and can't bear the thought that they deluded themselves. They've gone from triumphalism to a petulant and uncomprehending tantrum in less than two years.

Charles Krauthammer:

Liberalism under siege is an ugly sight indeed. Just yesterday it was all hope and change and returning power to the people. But the people have proved so disappointing. Their recalcitrance has, in only 19 months, turned the predicted 40-year liberal ascendancy (James Carville) into a full retreat. Ah, the people, the little people, the small-town people, the "bitter" people, as Barack Obama in an unguarded moment once memorably called them, clinging "to guns or religion or" -- this part is less remembered -- "antipathy toward people who aren't like them."

That's a polite way of saying: clinging to bigotry. And promiscuous charges of bigotry are precisely how our current rulers and their vast media auxiliary react to an obstreperous citizenry that insists on incorrect thinking.

It is a measure of the corruption of liberal thought and the collapse of its self-confidence that, finding itself so widely repudiated, it resorts reflexively to the cheapest race-baiting (in a colorful variety of forms). Indeed, how can one reason with a nation of pitchfork-wielding mobs brimming with "antipathy toward people who aren't like them" -- blacks, Hispanics, gays and Muslims -- a nation that is, as Michelle Obama once put it succinctly, "just downright mean"?

The Democrats are going to get beaten badly in November. Not just because the economy is ailing. And not just because Obama over-read his mandate in governing too far left. But because a comeuppance is due the arrogant elites whose undisguised contempt for the great unwashed prevents them from conceding a modicum of serious thought to those who dare oppose them.

Oh, I don't know. Insulting the electorate is always a dynamite tactic.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Branding The Maverick

Oh my, I wish I'd written this. Yuval Levin at NRO:

McCain (who has raised and spent more money than any Senate candidate in this cycle, other than self-financed candidates) must be glad that none of the smug busybodies who have tried through the years to restrict political expression by preventing candidates for public office from raising enormous amounts of money and spending them on attack ads has succeeded.

As we say down South, "Dang."

Monday, August 23, 2010

Bottom Story Of The Day

Per the NY Times, Chuck Hagel has endorsed Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania.

Please, try to contain your excitement.

Even the Times was obliged to note, "The currency of Mr. Hagel’s endorsement is an open question, given that he has no ties to Pennsylvania."

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Who Are You, And What Did You Do With Barney Frank?

From the "credit where it's due," or perhaps more appropriately, "better late than never" department, check out this account of a recent Fox Business interview with Frank:

"[Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac] should be abolished," Frank said in an interview on Fox Business, when asked whether the mortgage giants should be elements in housing market reform. "They only question is what do you put in their place," Frank said.
Frank also was critical of public policy that promoted homeownership at any cost. He also said the federal government should not be a "backstop" in guaranteeing mortgages.

"There were people in this society who for economic and, frankly, social reasons can't and shouldn't be homeowners," Frank said. "I think we should, particularly, stop this assumption that you put everybody into homeownership."
That's a very far cry from the Barney Frank of 2003, seen here scoffing any suggestion that Fan and Fred were encouraging lending to people unlikely to pay the money back, or that the taxpayers would be left holding the bag:

It's important to wonder just what Frank has in mind as a replacement--he calls explicitly for government subsidies, and given Frank's tendencies, one would expect those to be very large and expensive subsidies--but if nothing else, his change of heart regarding Fannie and Freddie is a welcome change. Too bad Frank's bad judgement cost all of us untold billions first, though.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Back With A Vengeance

Based on today's mountain of new posts, it looks like Mickey Kaus has shrugged off his post-election blues and returned full-bore to blogging. Go have a look; particularly including now ex-Senate candidate Kaus's rundown of the average senator's personality traits:

No management skill? Talks a good game? Egomaniacal glory-hound? Sounds like a made-to-order U.S. Senator!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Required Reading

Christopher Hitchens has an extraordinary essay--even by his standards--in Vanity Fair today regarding his cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Read it.

Life Imitates The Simpsons

When I heard about the Andy Griffith Obamacare ad, the first thing I thought was, a bunch of Obama P.R. juiceboxers probably huddled around a closet office in the EOB, brainstorming how to sell this mess to their worst demographic.

One of them pipes up, "Hey, I saw a Simpsons rerun last week, and Grampa said, 'I'm an old man! I hate everything but Matlock!' Maybe that's our angle."

"Not bad, Parker. We should hire him to talk to old people! But who the heck is Matlock?"

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Game To Bridge The Generational Divide

Millennial juiceboxers and Eighties slackers--unite!

Behold: HALO 2600!

Here's the backstory.

Recommended Reading

Check out this Christopher Hitchens column on the ambulatory blob of insanity known as Hugo Chavez. A sample:

In the early hours of July 16—just at the midnight hour, to be precise—Venezuela's capo officiated at a grisly ceremony. This involved the exhumation of the mortal remains of Simón Bolívar, leader of Latin America's rebellion against Spain, who died in 1830. According to a vividly written article by Thor Halvorssen in the July 25 Washington Post, the skeleton was picked apart—even as Chávez tweeted the proceedings for his audience—and some teeth and bone fragments were taken away for testing. The residual pieces were placed in a coffin stamped with the Chávez government's seal. In one of the rather free-associating speeches for which he has become celebrated, Chávez appealed to Jesus Christ to restage the raising of Lazarus and reanimate Bolívar's constituent parts.

And then there's this bit of classic Hitch:

Chávez, in other words, is very close to the climactic moment when he will announce that he is a poached egg and that he requires a very large piece of buttered toast so that he can lie down and take a soothing nap.

Read the whole thing--and the next time you're having an off-day, and not really feeling like doing whatever it is you do, remember: Hitchens wrote that while in the middle of chemotherapy.