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  • Worthwhile Reading & Viewing

    Posted by David Foster on August 7th, 2014 (All posts by )

    Knitted footwear…may have significant implications for the global shoe industry

    US Civil Rights commissioner uses “science” to argue for restricting the free speech rights of college students.  (Is anyone surprised that he was formerly an aide to Nancy Pelosi?)

    College professor accuses program about gardening of being “racist”

    Functional geniuses and business idiots

    Fuel cells as a major energy source:  for real this time?

    Sea and sand from the sky.  More here.

    The Social Pathologist is back!

     

    13 Responses to “Worthwhile Reading & Viewing”

    1. David Foster Says:

      Also: Ann Althouse notes that today is the 70th anniversary of the IBM/Harvard Mark I computer (if you measure from the date the machine was officially presented to the university..it actually started work a few months earlier)

      I linked an interesting contemporary article about this machine a couple of years ago: Robot Mathematician Knows All the Answers

    2. Whitehall Says:

      Let’s everyone get this straight – fuel cells are NOT an energy source. They are a fuel conversion device, like the internal combustion engine or thermocouples.

      They still require fuel, which is the “source.”

    3. David Foster Says:

      Whitehall…yeah, I know that. They are an “energy source” in the same way that, say, a turbogenerator is…you put fuel in and get electricity out.

      I couldn’t think of a better short phrase to use in a link…”energy conversion device” seemed klutzy.

    4. dearieme Says:

      Fuel cells: 65% efficiency is very good, depending on the honesty of the definition adopted. Given the by-product of syn gas, an interesting opportunity may exist for integrating these cells into petrochemical sites. That might be a good place to test them in application.

    5. Robert Schwartz Says:

      US Civil Rights commissioner, and a former partner of mine, Peter Kirsanow explains to Obama why amnesty for illegals is bad for blacks, not that Bambi is going to get it, or that he cares.

      “College professor accuses program about gardening of being “racist””

      One of his gripes is about invasive species. The claim that concern about invasive species is racist is laughable. However, the ideas behind it are the same 19th century, pre-mendelian pseudo science that was one of the ideological tent poles of 19th century racism. Those ideas also afflict dog and horse breeding.

      We should be vigilant to ensure that species from out of the area do not destroy existing ecosystems, like the Chestnut and elm blights did.

      But some of the non-native species can fit in and be useful. The zebra mussel, a native of Ukraine that spread to the Great Lakes and found them to its liking, had the horrible impact of cleaning the water of the lakes. Of course the environmentalists are upset, but so what. They are always upset.

      BTW, another invasive species the round goby fish showed up some years later. Its favorite food is zebra mussels. The bass and the trout in the lake like to eat the gobies.

      “Fuel cells as a major energy source”

      Those are solid oxide cells. They do not have two of the major drawbacks of the proton exchange membrane fuel cells that are often touted by the ignorant as a source of energy for cars. They don’t need platinum catalysts at $1500/oz. And they don’t have to be feed pure hydrogen as their fuel. OTOH, they run at high temperatures (the inputs on the GE cell the article describes at at 1500°F) and are not suitable for small scale or mobile use. OTOH, if you are designing a co-generation project, it may be what you need.

    6. David Foster Says:

      RS…wonder if they would be suitable for locomotives….the GE article said they scale down to 1 MW, so they are within the power requirements band for a locomotive.

    7. newrouter Says:

      too bad outside the factory door there’s so many anti frackers in ny.

    8. Joe Wooten Says:

      RS…wonder if they would be suitable for locomotives….the GE article said they scale down to 1 MW, so they are within the power requirements band for a locomotive.

      David,

      One of the problems with natural gas as a transportation fuel is carrying enough onboard to ensure you so not have to make frequent refueling stops. For a train engine, you would have to have a very large heavy walled tank at high pressure and probably low temperature to get the same range as an atmospheric pressure diesel tank. It’s doable under current technology, but will it be economic given the costs of both the fuels snd the handling systems. There would have to be quite a few pipelines built to supply gas at every yard in the nation and outside Texas/Oklahoma/Louisiana it’s very difficult to build pipelines these days. The envirowhackos reflexively oppose every project.

    9. David Foster Says:

      Joe W….both GE and Caterpillar are seriously pursuing nat gas powered locomotives (using conventional internal combustion engines)…the problem of storage would seem to be much easier in the context of a mile-long 15,000-ton train than for an automobile or even an over-the-road truck..I’d think one could add a dedicated fuel storage tank car right behind the locomotive, in the style of tenders for steam engines.

      A piece on railroading and nat gas, here:

      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-06/ge-races-caterpillar-on-lng-trains-to-curb-buffett-cost.html

    10. David Foster Says:

      Off-topic, but note the obsessive way in which the business media manages to work Warren Buffett into every possible headline….Berkshire Hathaway owns ONE of the FOUR major US railroads (and there are several next-tier RRs as well), but the headline makes it look as if GE and Cat are developing these locomotives specially for Warren.

    11. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      “College professor accuses program about gardening of being “racist””

      Gardening program accuses professor of being “idiot”.

    12. Whitehall Says:

      I’ve been following natural gas for locomotives for some time in “Trains” magazine. Railroads have tried both compressed gas and liquefied gas.

      I can see it coming first for yard switchers but mainline use might be hampered by both public opposition to the explosive risks and the need for additional gas storage and transfer equipment at dispersed track locations.

      The EPA has been screwing down hard on diesel locomotive emissions which is part of the impetus for NG locomotives, along with possible fuel economies. So far, the diesel designers have been able to meet the challenge. Ergo, the EPA can force the conversion in the future if they so decide via rulemaking requiring emission limits the diesel guys can’t meet.

    13. Jonathan Says:

      Warren Buffett is clever about managing media coverage. He has tacitly encouraged a personality cult in which financial journalists are prominent participants. CNBC is an extreme example – some of the female correspondents there appear to go into heat in Buffett’s presence. It looks like a big circus for the benefit of Buffett’s ego, but the time he spends schmoozing journalists buys him a lot of favorable coverage when he needs it later.