Energy Archives

Who Really Killed the Incandescent Light Bulb?

This year, the traditional incandescent light bulb is becoming extinct. There was a big push by environmentalists to force the change to higher efficiency bulbs, like Compact Fluorescent bulbs, or CFLs. The idea was that they light with less energy, and so everyone should use them. Never mind the market; coercion was necessary.

And one of the things they like to trumpet about this was that the light bulb industry supported this move. The thought is that if even they think it’s a good idea, government ought to force the issue. But not one of those environmentalists ever considered this:

Competitive markets with low costs of entry have a characteristic that consumers love and businesses lament: very low profit margins. GE, Philips and Sylvania dominated the U.S. market in incandescents, but they couldn’t convert that dominance into price hikes. Because of light bulb’s low material and manufacturing costs, any big climb in prices would have invited new competitors to undercut the giants — and that new competitor would probably have won a distribution deal with Wal-Mart.

Basically, with a low-cost light bulb, the major players in the market couldn’t just jack up the price on their wares. Someone else could step in and, with a low cost of entry into the light bulb market, build a better mousetrap, so to speak, and the world would beat a path to their door.

Unless. Unless the light bulb companies could push government regulations that would make the bare minimum light bulb incredibly more expensive. They’d get their price hike, and they’d further their hold on the industry by keeping out competition, because start-up costs are now much higher.

Now, you may be saying, “See, Doug? Eeevil corporations are to blame for this! And you’re always defending them!” Two things. First, the law itself is the problem, and the blame for that comes, not from corporations, but from a big government with the power to pass such a law, and which is more than willing to stick its hand into your wallet. Government did this, not corporations. And I’ll reiterate that, if you don’t like a corporation, you can stop buying from them immediately. If you don’t like your government, you’ll have to wait for the next election cycle, and hope there are enough people who agree with you.

Second, I don’t blame corporations at all for trying to lobby the government for things that will benefit them. If I did blame them, then I’d have to blame every single grassroots organization that does the same sort of lobbying, even those environmentalists. Is lobbying the government an evil thing to do? Not at all! But government should know its boundaries and should stay within them. That’s why we have a constitution. But these days, the Constitution has been reinterpreted to say, for example, that you must buy a particular financial instrument. If the government can force you to buy something, I think it’s gone far beyond what the framers of the Constitution ever intended, and that power is for sale to the highest bidder.

Oh, and consider this. If anyone claims that certain government policies are required because the free market has failed, just let them know that we really haven’t had a “free market” in decades. Light bulbs and ObamaCare are only the two most recent examples.

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    So … You Believe Man Causes Global Warming and …

    Your neighbor across the aisle does not. Here is some unsolicited advice for the left wing on this topic. If you really think this is a problem, and you want everyone, not just your side of the aisle to push for it futilely … Here’s a newsflash for y’all. You’re selling it wrong.

    Look at us over here on the right. We think the space program was cool. We love going to flight museums and wistfully wishing we (as a nation) were still flying SR-71s (RS-71 dammit, stupid Presidents). We gawk at daisy cutters and talk about yields and payloads. While we might take up on those government goodies that are “free” it sticks in our craw and we wish that ‘ol time Yankee rugged individualism wasn’t dying out, killed by bureaucratic mind-numbing cookie cutter schools among other things. Read these two books, here and here. That’s good reading. So, do you like Bob? We do.

    In a past era, a Democratic President challenged his nation to go to the moon, not because it was easy but because it was hard. You want a nation to get behind you with a climate crises. Challenge them that way. Tell ‘em to go out and fix it, not by sucking back our economy and going all green-ified on us, scrimping out toilet paper curbing consumption of interesting toys and things to do.

    No. Fix it the old fashioned way, with a hammer, tongs, and big bad-ass technology. Challenge us that way, and you might get a rise out of us.

    Of course it might alienate you’re side of the aisle, but you can’t break an omelette without making eggs, or something like that.

    (with tongue firmly in cheek … and attempting to ignore the silly season somewhat)

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      Links for Monday, 2 April 2012

      Gasoline Taxes by State
      Nothing surprising here… sheesh.

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      Best Buy to close 50 brick and mortar stores
      From the article,

      ”In order to help make technology work for every one of our customers and transform our business as the consumer electronics industry continues to evolve, we are taking major actions to improve our operating performance,” said Best Buy CEO Brian J. Dunn. ”As part of our multi-channel strategy, we intend to strengthen our portfolio of store formats and footprints — closing some big box stores, modifying others to our enhanced Connected Store format, and adding Best Buy Mobile stand-alone locations — all to provide a better shopping environment for our customers across multiple channels while increasing points of presence, and to improve performance and profitability.”

      Huh? My Google Translator doesn’t have a Corporate Speak -> English option.

      How many of you go to a Best Buy type store to actually buy something? Apart from the occasional cable or power strip, I typically do not make big purchases at these stores. Besides getting lackluster to pitiful service from the sales staff, the prices are too high.

      However, one thing they are good for is to actually view and handle potential purchases. Alas, that may be going by the wayside as well.

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      Geek News:  the F-1 engines from the Apollo 11 mission have been found
      Can you imagine predicting in July of 1969, when the Apollo 11 mission occurred, that those engines would be found by a private entrepreneur of an internet retail establishment?

      No, neither can I.

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      More Primate Fossils Found, More Digs at Religious Conservatives
      From More pre-human fossils, more skepticism,

      The same day as 3.4 million-year-old human-like fossils have been unveiled, a new study has been released saying that conservatives and church-goers are growing increasingly skeptical of science.

      “It is not necessarily the case that education or knowledge makes you more objective,” said Peter Ditto, who specializes in social psychology at UC Irvine.. “Liberals are biased in their direction and conservatives are biased in their direction. People find holes and problems in arguments where they look for them – and they look harder when the science offends or just upends their established beliefs.”

      ###

      Heh.

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        If Bush had said it…

        From HotAir, apparently President Obama thinks the price of oil is hovering around $1.25 a barrel. Per his speech to Sempra Energy,

        We have subsidized oil companies for a century. We want to encourage production of oil and gas, and make sure that wherever we’ve got American resources, we are tapping into them. But they don’t need an additional incentive when gas is $3.75 a gallon, when oil is $1.20 a barrel, $1.25 a barrel. They don’t need additional incentives. They are doing fine.

        Yet this snip from oil-price.net shows the price to be hovering about 100 times that amount.

        Honest mistake or intentional gaffe that leaves the impression that oil companies are gouging and, consequently, do not need government subsidies?

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          Friday Link Wrap-up

          [FYI, Part 2 of my "after-birth abortion" article will appear Monday, for both of you waiting for it. Smile ]

          Obama: ‘Drill Drill Drill won’t work. And you can thank Me that it did.’

          America’s per capita debt is worse than Greece. And Greece’s credit rating is in the basement.

          BBC: We’ll Mock Jesus But Never Mohammed. (Because Christians won’t cut off their head or burn things.)

          For all the talk about crude names called at Sandra Fluke, the war on conservative women goes merrily unreported. Meryl Yourish refers to this as the new Exception Clause.

          No wonder liberals think their unconstitutional ideas are constitutional. They don’t understand the document’s intent.

          Like all generalizations, it’s not true of every single case, but James Q. Wilson asks an interesting question: Why Don’t Jews Like the Christians Who Like Them?

          Just as Jews were once expelled from Arab lands, Christians are now being forced from countries they have long inhabited.

          And finally, the return of the political cartoon to Friday Link Wrap-ups.

          Posted Image

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            Friday Link Wrap-up

            In Canada, strip searches from possession of a deadly … crayon.

            Also from the Great White North, government intrusion into homeschool, saying that Christian parents can’t teach a Biblical view of homosexuality. Freedom of religion is being chipped away slowly enough that most don’t see it.

            If Obama is some post-racial president, why is he launching "African Americans for Obama"?

            Medical "ethicists" are seriously arguing that post-birth newborns are "not persons" and can ethically be "aborted".

            With all the religious implications of Obama’s policies, you’d think he’d have kept around his faith-based council for advice. Nope, they’ve just faded away.

            Movie reviewers of the liberal persuasion are all for anti-war, anti-military or pro-environmental message movies, but that idea gets thrown out when they disapprove of the message. Suddenly, it’s "propaganda".

            Scofflaw Democrats. "The Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 further provides that if, for two years in a row, more than 45% of Medicare funding is coming from general revenues rather than Medicare taxes, the president must submit legislation to Congress to address the Medicare funding crisis. President Bush dutifully followed the law, but President Obama has ignored it for the last three years."

            Obama claims that we can’t drill our way out of the energy problem, and then, in the same speech, notes that domestic oil production is at it’s highest level in 8 years. Because we drilled! Can’t have it both ways, Mr. President, but the press will try to let you have it.

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              Friday Link Wrap-Up

              If Samuel L. Jackson voted for Obama because he’s black –  using as his reasoning, "’Cuz that’s why other folks vote for other people — because they look like them … That’s American politics, pure and simple." — then is it OK for white folks to vote for white guys just because they’re white? Could those white folks expect the non-reaction to their reasoning as Jackson got for his?

              Albert Mohler takes Nicholas Kristof to civics class.  The Constitution protect freedom of religion as a basic right, not only when it’s convenient.

              "Actor Sean Penn criticized Republican presidential candidates during a visit to Venezuela on Thursday, saying that right-wing policies in the United States aim to benefit the wealthy." No, we want to make as many people as possible wealthy, as opposed to Venezuela’s socialism, which is making as many people as possible poor.

              Stoning Christians on the Temple Mount. No, not Jews. One more guess.

              Germans are discovering that, when they need their solar energy most, during December and January, it doesn’t help that they don’t get much sunshine then.

              Sign of the Times: "For Women Under 30, Most Births Occur Outside Marriage" Perhaps Rick Santorum isn’t as kooky as some are making him out to be.

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                Technically Speaking

                We have a lot of oil here in America. Obama said we have only 2% of the world’s oil reserves. But John Hinderaker reminds us that

                …very few Americans are aware of the technical definition of oil “reserves” that is enforced by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Under American law (other countries record as “reserves” whatever is in the ground), oil isn’t counted as part of our “reserves” unless it can legally be developed under current regulations, and it would be economic to develop at current prices. So when Obama says we only have two percent of the world’s oil “reserves,” he is documenting the extent to which the Democratic Party, by blocking energy development, is destroying jobs and making us all poorer.

                Read the whole thing.

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                  Wikipedia Is Back

                  After protesting the SOPA/PIPA bills going through Congress (rightly, in my estimation) by going "dark" for 24 hours, Wikipedia is back, to the relief of students everywhere who may have never opened a real, physical encyclopedia in this post-book world. The protest brought the issue of anti-piracy vs. anti-freedom to the attention of many people.

                  Now, I’d like those folks who were very concerned over those bills to look up a couple of things on Wikipedia that should also have garnered their attention recently, if they’re really concerned about what government is doing without their knowledge.

                  Operation Fast and Furious

                  Solyndra

                  If you’ve not heard about this in the news, that’s perfectly understandable. They’ve been nearly blacked-out themselves regarding these issues. Which is odd considering F&F is responsible for the deaths of Americans.

                  Are you really concerned about what your government is doing, and you’re not just jumping on the SOPA bandwagon? Read up.

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                    Obama’s Job Council Says, "Drill, Baby, Drill"

                    Indeed.

                    “[W]e should allow more access to oil, natural gas and coal opportunities on federal lands,” states the year-end report released Tuesday by the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

                    The report does not specifically mention the Keystone XL oil pipeline, but it endorses moving forward quickly with projects that “deliver electricity and fuel,” including pipelines.

                    I agree creating jobs for the sake of jobs is not always desirable (i.e. make-work, do-nothing jobs, or, as an extreme example, increasing the demand for contract killers), but this is energy we have at home that does not prop up terrorism or our enemies. The result is economic prosperity, and not just in the energy industry.

                    Thanks to capitalism, millions of America’s poor are paying less to heat their homes this winter. The middle class and even the rich are saving money because capitalists have found a cheaper way to drill for natural gas on American soil. That increases supply, which drops the prices — by 35% this winter over last winter — but the capitalists still profit because drilling this way dropped their costs.

                    Not only that, but the natural gas from this drilling has resulted in cheaper feedstock for plastics, ammonia and fertilizer.

                    The natural gas feedstock supplants oil-based feedstock, thus reducing our dependency on foreign oil.

                    And, if you continue reading, the EPA is trying to scare folks with junk science so they’ll be against drilling.

                    I guess this will be just another panel, like his deficit commission, that he can sweep under the rug and ignore, but bring up if anyone says he’s done nothing about the problem.

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                      Friday…er, Tuesday Link Wrap-up

                      I’ve been on something of a sabbatical with regards to blogging and news-reading in general. I have, however, saved some links during that time, so here’s a bunch of them.

                      If even the Dutch have fallen out of love with windmills (by which I mean, they can’t afford to keep subsidizing them), you gotta’ wonder.

                      Right after Alabama’s illegal immigration law kicked in, unemployment dropped in a big way. Yeah, those jobs you keep saying Americans won’t do? Turns out they just might.

                      Spain has apparently had enough with the failed policies of socialists. They voted them in to appease terrorists back in 2004 following the Madrid bombings. But since then, Spain has been tanking economically along with the rest of Europe, and what seemed like a good idea at the time has now been revealed to be a huge mistake. This past weekend, conservatives won a landslide victory.

                      Iranian Christian pastor update: "Yousef (also spelled Youcef) Nadarkhani, sentenced to death a year ago after a court of appeals in Rasht, Iran, found him guilty of leaving Islam in September 2010, is in deteriorating health, according to a member of Nadarkhani’s denomination, the Church of Iran, who requested anonymity. "

                      "Who would Jesus protest?" According to Jimmie Bise, working from the New Testament, He wouldn’t be protesting government. He’d be changing hearts, one individual at a time.

                      Iran with nuclear weapons capability. This shouldn’t surprise anyone, but I’m certain many on the Left will be shocked, unfortunately.

                      And finally, the oldest social network is new again. (Click for a larger version.)

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                        Morale and Complex Malfunctions

                        Commenter Boonton has on a few occaisons mused about complex industrial accidents and the avoidence of the same.

                        Complex project development, in a book which came out in the 80s (Have Fun At Work, by Mr Livingstone) was an interesting read. The main thesis of the book was that complex projects (those are too large basically to fit in one smart persons brain … and he gave specific concrete ways to recognize those projects) fail. They all fail (or at the best have horrible delays and massive cost overruns). Much of the book devoted itself to orienting tech/engineer personel to recognize if your project was one of those which would fail and how to prevent that from career or psychic injury to self. As a sidelight he noted the only way that complex projects succeed. Complex projects succeed if heirarchical information pathways are removed and replaced with a model in which everyone can talk (and does talk) to everone. The cannonical such project is the Lockheed Skunkworks, which developed the SR-71, the U-2, and stealth combat aircraft. In their working environment, aerodynamicists and systems engineers sat next to draftsmen and machinists. “Can this …?” questions didn’t filter up and down the chain but you would ask the guy who might know the answer directly.

                        Big systems with complex working parts are put in place all over the world. Refineries, airplans, chemical plants, nuclear power plants and so on are all complex working systems. One way in which one might approach minimizing the occurance of complex accidents is to follow the Kelly Johnson/Skunkworks approach and shift it from project development to ongoing system operations. Why isn’t this done?

                        One reasons might be tied to morale. The Skunkworks team was a high morale operation. They had an impossible (basically) cutting edge project. They worked rediculous hours because of their excitement and the demands of the project and the basic urge human urge for success and to win, defined in this case as completion of the project, to scale that technical mountain. How can this translate to a multi-decade task of keeping equipment running safely, a far more mundane and routine task? If one identifies a clear difference in the two tasks as one of morale. High morale is essential for the operation of a non-heirarchical task/team project. High morale might also be an essential telling point in the operation of a long term operational facillity if one were to attempt to shift it to a more skunkworks-like approach to management. You can’t do that without high morale.

                        Ultimately government “regulation” of industrial workplace might be better served not trying to pretend it knows better how to drill offshore, run nuclear plants, and so on. It can on the other hand, have a better shot a spotting any number of ways in which workplaces are poisoned by poor morale and other working conditions conducive to failure (reckless risk taking has its own signature on morale). The point is, inspectors might be better served watching dynamics of workplace (social) chemistry and less on technical questions which they have, likely, less (or captive) expertise (not to speak of other agenda).  

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                          Friday Link Wrap-up

                          When the minimum wage goes up, low-wage jobs are lost. This isn’t a prediction, it’s an observation. The Wall St. Journal notes it’s happening again, at the worst time for it, and mostly for minorities.

                          Syria pulled out of the running for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. The problem is that they pulled out rather than being pushed. Given the number of human rights violators on that council, they could have easily been approved.

                          "I am a scientist who was on the carbon gravy train, understands the evidence, was once an alarmist, but am now a skeptic." Read why here.

                          The headline says it all: "WikiLeaks Threatens Its Own Leakers With $20 Million Penalty If They Leak Elsewhere". Transparency for thee but not for me.

                          Green energy losing green: A solar farm in Texas is losing money because the property taxes are so high.

                          High-speed rail losing speed: "California’s much-vaunted high-speed rail project is, to put it bluntly, a train wreck." Of course, the solution, according to the LA Times, is do it over, throwing good money after bad ($43 billion of bad money).

                          What a shock! "Autotrader survey shows most motorists go green to ‘save money, not the environment’." Make green energy affordable, and the world will beat a path to your door.

                          A big reason health care costs are rising so fast is because of central planning (aka Medicare, Medicaid). The Democrats solution? More central planning.

                          Civility Watch: Wisconsin Attorney General releases 100 pages of threats against lawmakers during the budget battle.

                          The White House shut out a reporter from the Boston Herald because of a critical editorial that the Herald put on their front page. The issue with Obama is not Fox News; it’s anyone who disagrees with him. But if you didn’t know about this, it’s not your fault. The rest of the media, who you’d think would be all over this treatment of colleagues, were virtually silent on the matter.

                          The anti-war crowd has seemingly melted away into the woodwork with the election of President Obama. I mean, if George W. Bush had violated federal law by invading a country without, within 60 days, getting congressional approval, how loud would the outcry have been, from the Left and the Media? Instead, a collective yawn.

                          (Sorry, no cartoon this week.)

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                            Friday Link Wrap-up

                            Question: What government program costs us 7 times what NASA does?
                            Answer: The department of Improper Payments.

                            Question: In a study looking at data from over 50 years, towards which political party does the NY Times lean? 
                            Answer: Well, do you really have to ask? And it’s more about what stories are covered than about bias within stories.

                            Question: Why do movements like pro-democracy or the Tea Party seem to balloon overnight?
                            Answer: The "Preference Cascade".

                            Question: What are 5 truths about Planned Parenthood that you’re not likely to hear in the media?
                            Answer: Read them here.

                            Question: How could you defend the use of sola Scriptura, "Scripture alone", to someone who objects on the basis that humans are fallible, so you just can’t be sure what is Scripture?
                            Answer: C. Michael Patton has a good response.

                            Question: Has Paul Krugman ever flip-flopped on an issue for politics’ sake? Not a little quibble, but on really substantial stuff?
                            Answer: Oh yeah, he has.

                            Question: Has Nancy Pelosi ever flip-flopped on an issue for politics’ sake?
                            Answer: Well, she blamed high gas prices on "two oil men in the White House" before. Wonder who she’s blaming now.

                            Question: Is Syria, a country that is killing its own citizens for protesting the government, really being considered for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council?
                            Answer: Oh yeah, it is. And the UN is divided on whether it should even investigate their recent human rights abuses.

                            Question: Was Stanley Ann Dunham punished with a baby.
                            Answer: No, the baby (Barack Obama) was not a punishment, even though Barack’s campaign rhetoric would tend to suggest otherwise.

                            Question: Has Hamas moderated, since it had to take on political leadership and run the Palestinians?
                            Answer: Oh no, it hasn’t.

                            Question: Did Fox News push the whole "birther" issue the most?
                            Answer: Oh no, they didn’t.

                            Question: Does Europe want us Yanks, with our neo-con aggression, out of their backyard?
                            Answer: According to this Norwegian liberal, oh no, they don’t.

                            Question: Shouldn’t the federal government be a limited one?
                            Answer: Click for a larger image.

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                              Don’t Freak Out About Nuclear Power

                              It’s not often I agree with Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo, but I certainly do this time. Regarding the issues with the nuclear power plants in Japan that are near meltdown, he advises caution on making pronouncements on the use of nuclear power in general, given that just about any energy source has its drawbacks. There is a bigger picture.

                              If we imagine a hundred years into the future of fossil fuels and a hundred of nuclear power, at the end of a century, how much damage do we imagine each will have caused? I suspect that if it’s really an either/or, the nuclear route is likely much safer.

                              Again, I’m not wanting to say anything definitive. But even at these moments when we see the most frightening side of nuclear power, I think we should still draw back and look at the global — meant both literally and figuratively — costs of different fuels and consider the possibility that nuclear power is actually safer for our own health and that of the planet.

                              It took the 5th strongest earthquake since 1900 and the resulting tsunami to do this. Very little can withstand that.

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