Alternative energy news

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Ran across some articles today about alternative energy.

Here’s one that includes a ranking of automakers in terms of fuel efficiency.

The BBC claims that Hybrids are taking hold in the US. It’s great to hear that about 80,000 hybrid vehicles were bought in the US last year, but that’s still less than half of one percent. It sounds like Toyota is going to significantly increase production of the Prius because their customers have to wait 3 to 6 months.

Jeb Bush has given up $15 million for development of hydrogen fuel in Florida.

I can’t wait to buy a house so I can use Use solar water heating.

Who’s going to shoot Canada?

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Wow. Two major news items that make me proud to be Canadian this week. The first was the Civil Marriage Act and now this…

Paul Martin, showing extreme common sense, has opted out of the US “Missile Defense System” as reported in this article in the Star.

I really don’t care if the US wants to create this “shield.” My current US taxes are unfortunately helping fund this effort, but I don’t have any long-term interest in how US tax money is spent (aside from if it’s used to kill someone.) But considering the billions that have been spent on this as-yet-unproven holdover from cold-war mentality, I really think this project is like financial aid to the defense sector. To be honest, I don’t necessarily think Republicans like war so much as they like spending on defense. The wars then become the justification for spending on defense.

Good job to Martin, and the statement is even non-confrontational in that it’s not saying he disagrees with what the US is doing, they just don’t want to spend their money on it.

Air pollution

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A newspaper here in Bangalore had an article on the Kyoto Treaty the other day. As I was reading it, something struck me as slightly strange.

As they were explaining what the treaty was, they were also trying to explain why it was necessary to curb polution. Their statement was something like “since the early 1900s the western countries have been pumping mass amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.” Now, this is definitely a true statement. I just found it to come across as very naive, because apparently the writer hasn’t stepped outside in any Indian city and felt the immediate effects of massive air pollution.

Again, everything they said was true. But for someone reading this who may not be educated on the world air pollution problem, they will take away that it’s all the fault of the “West.”

Some interesting data here on the levels of pollution of various cities around the world. Right now I’m in a city in India rated as having about 56 micrograms of particulate matter per cubic meter (as of 1999, it’s probably much higher now). Let me tell you, it’s VERY noticable. You can feel the pollution as you breath it. But, the scary thing is that Bangalore was the second lowest city in India in 1999, and Delhi had a value of 187!

I’ve spent most of my life in cities that would probably have a value well below 20 on this chart. One thing I couldn’t find was data at a country level. I’d like to see how all countries in the world compare. If India or China have not yet overtaken the US for air pollution, the trends are obvious that they will, and increase very fast from there.

You mean people should be equal? Hmmm.

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Cheers to Paul Martin for working to bring the Civil Marriage Act to the Canadian House of Commons.

The text of his address on the Act is here.

I’m out of the loop, though. Is there any chance this won’t pass?

Isn’t bribery great?

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I had my first true bribery experience today, which was exciting. On the way home from work the car was pulled over by a police officer. The headlights on the car weren’t working perfectly, so he either had to have the headlights on or have them off. The driver had been keeping the headlights on, but when passing through this same intersection earlier in the evening the cops pulled him over to tell him to turn them off. Now we were going back through the same intersection and he turned them off while waiting for the light, because the cops were still there. This time the cop pulled him over for not having them on, and was trying to shake him down for money.

The system of bribery in India seems much more fair (and capitalist) than in North America. The only thing that matters is cash, whereas in NA social status also is a big factor. For instance, if I get pulled over for speeding I’m likely to get a ticket. If a famous basketball player gets pulled over, chances are he’s not going to. Then there’s also the back-room high-power bribery that goes on in politics and business.

I want equal opportunity bribery. I don’t want to have to be famous like OJ Simpson to get away with murder. I want to be able to pay the cops $20,000 and have them “forget about it.”

Maybe not. But I do think that the North American style of bribery is elitist. Somehow the Indian solution seems more fair.

Freedom of speech – as long as it’s conservative

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A conservative Ohio lawmaker is trying to push through a state law basically saying that the “liberal professors can’t discuss their liberal agenda in class.”

The article is here. Quoting from it:

Marion Sen. Larry A. Mumperís “academic bill of rights for higher education” would prohibit instructors at public or private universities from “persistently” discussing controversial issues in class or from using their classes to push political, ideological, religious or anti-religious views.

and

Mumper, a Republican, said many professors undermine the values of their students because “80 percent or so of them (professors) are Democrats, liberals or socialists or card-carrying Communists” who attempt to indoctrinate students.

Why are the conservatives in the US so scared? I know they need to be, because fear is the only thing making people vote for their agenda, but I just don’t understand this. They currently are in control of most of the country, yet they’re afraid professors are “indocrinating” students. Obviously this indoctrination hasn’t been working for the last 50 years, or else we’d be living in a liberals paradise.

Why don’t the conservatives who actually think for themselves get upset by this? Isn’t freedom supposed to be a “core value” of the Republicans? Now they’re trying to restrict free speech, even more than they already have with things like the Patriot Act. Where are the people with brains?!?!?! Are they all drones?

California, where are your Eco-Friendly values?

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Saw this article about California considering taxing drivers by the mile as opposed to taxing gas. The driving factor is the expected reduced tax revenue from gas taxes as cleaner cars, such as hybrids, are used more.

So, the state that has the reputation of encouraging eco-friendliness is going to make it less appealing to drive a cleaner car?

I really doubt this would go through there, but I’m curious to see what happens.

India, revisited

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I’m back in India. I just got in a few hours ago. My company sent me again on fairly short notice, but I don’t mind. I’m also going to stay for about 6 weeks as opposed to 2 the last time. It definitely had a different feeling leaving for this long. At least my wife will be coming for the last 3 weeks of it.

Plus, it’s also interesting to get news about the “West” through a different filter.

Logic? Reasoning? Creationism?

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I stumbled onto the website for the Creation Museum.

I’m all for people believing whatever they want to believe, but once you post something on your website, or say something publically, it’s fair game. I’m not implying here that I think Creationism is wrong anymore than I can say the purely scientific approach is correct. However, I think if you’re going to try to have a meaningful debate on the topic you should be using sound logic and reasoning. I also just find this fun. Let’s take a look at some content in the FAQ portion of their website.

1. On the topic of the origin of life on earth, speaking of Scientists:
They have been unable to explain the origin of life on Earth, and even the ‘simplest’ living cell is now known to be unimaginably complex.

Hmm. And the Creationists have a great explanation backed up by a whole ton of facts, right? Both sides of the argument have “explanations.” One just happens to have been subjected to more rigorous scientific inspection. I’ll let you decide which…

2. On the topic of life on other planets:
Whether there is life on any planet other than Earth is another matter. The Bible teaches that life began on Earth through a process of commanded-by-God creation (Genesis 1:11-27). It also tells us that God’s purposes are centred on Earth. Thus God created Earth (on Day 1) before ‘the lights in the firmament of heaven’ (on Day 4), which were ‘to divide the day from the night’ and were ‘for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years’ (Genesis 1:14), i.e. for the benefit of mankind.

Man and woman were both ‘made in the likeness of God’ (Genesis 1:27). This, coupled with factors such as the Fall, the Incarnation, the redemption of mankind through the once-only death and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Second Coming of Christ to Earth, and the coming Judgment of all mankind, show Earth’s unique importance among the billions of billions of stars in the universe. This is despite the frequent belittling, by evolutionists, of the importance of Earth.

The above also implies that God did not create any other life forms elsewhere in the universe.

This is a great attempt at using logic. It sounds very believable because of their use of the fancy word “implies.” There is absolutely nothing in the paragraphs above that “implies” anything meaningful, aside from the fact that they say so. It’s like me saying “Pigs eat their own crap. This implies that pigs eat their own crap.”

3. On the topic of the search for life elsewhere:
No scientists have ever seen a complex language system like our DNA evolve by chance. They know that it takes information to get information, that information never arises unless an intelligence is operating.

What? What are they basing this on? What is their definition of intelligence. And where does this “it takes information to get information” come from? If I randomly scatter a handful of rocks, there’s information to be gained from the output. Was my hand somehow conveying intelligence in the way it scattered them? This makes absolutely no sense.

4. NASA scientists today know there is an intelligence greater than they. They know there has to be more than just us. In a sense, they are desperately trying to find God, not accepting that God has already found them.
Ok, I’ll let them know. I think the ones who are not devout Christians just forgot.

I’ll hopefully have some more fun and post more of these when I get some more time :)

Did freedom or liberty win?

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I thought this webpage was extremely cool. It’s a “parser of the state of the union.” It shows the transcripts for several of these speeches in super-small form. You can then search for terms and it will highlight the sentences where the term occurs.

While I’m sure people use this for interesting political purposes, I just find the webpage cool. I’m mildy interested in the state of the union speeches since it does impact me to some extent, but I only really care if he’s declaring war on someone again.

State of the Union Parser

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