Friday, October 29, 2010

The Electric Car

To Gavin the physicist, the electric car is just plain stupid. The new Nissan Leaf has a battery that costs Nissan, the car manufacturer itself, $15,600. The car has a range of 100 miles, costs $33,000, and requires the owner to install a $2,000 charging station in his home garage, where the car will be plugged in for 8 hours after going its 100 miles. Contracts have been let for the installation of thousands of these charging stations in the United States.
The equivalent-sized car would be the Nissan Versa, which costs less than half the Leaf. Not only that, but the carbon footprint of the Versa is smaller than that of the Leaf by a factor of 2.
Rare earths, today's hottest topic, figure in as well. The rare earths that go into the Leaf's battery are in short supply. China, the main producer, is threatening a set of severe export restrictions. Surprise. ("What a golden opportunity! We'll hold the world ransom while we can.") No recycler in the United States is yet handling such batteries, so they will end up in the landfill; and the rare earths in them will be wasted.
The much-ballyhooed Chevrolet Volt, at $41,000, has given up being an electric car and has put in a gas engine--to make it just another hybrid. Why "just another"? Because it goes only 50 miles on battery power. Gavin's favorite program, Top Gear, tested a Nissan Prius against an 8-cylinder BMW 5 Series at highway speeds. The Prius got 17.6 miles to the imperial gallon; the BMW got 22.

If all this sounds rational to you, raise your hand.

Meantime throughout Europe and in California there are hydrogen cars. The hydrogen itself is made at the gas station, so it does not have to be transported in tanker trucks along crowded highways. The Honda Clarity has been available since 2008, going over 300 miles on a fill. Its price tag is higher than the standard Honda, but it is available in this nation on lease for $600 a month. 2010 marked the tenth consecutive year the Clarity was the pace car for the Los Angeles Marathon. The effluent from hydrogen-fueled cars is water.

Iceland has decided that in the near future all its vehicles shall run on hydrogen. Its fleet of public-transport buses are already converted.

The key to the hydrogen car is the fuel cell and the availability of hydrogen. If the United States spent as much money on fuel-cell research as it is spending on battery research--$15 billion--we could all be driving hydrogen cars. How long will it be before a smart inventor makes hydrogen car rechargers for home use? It ain't rocket science!
Bash head here,

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Trends that Make Us Crazy, or When Technology Sucks

Yvonne writes : Malaria

Sometimes we are so frustrated with today's life that we could climb the walls, so you troops are gonna get the brunt of our thinking.

There's yet another annual malaria-spasm going on in the World Health Organization and all the other hand-wringing letterheads. Recent reports worldwide show that there may be a half-million malaria deaths per year in India and Africa. For a time the use of bed nets had a dramatic impact on lowering the malaria rate--however, the mosquitoes have learned; now they're waking up to bite earlier in the evenings and even later in the mornings. Hence the advantage of the bed net technology, simple though it was, is fading fast.

The other main technology against malaria is the spraying of powerful insecticides--toxins--that kill all insects, good, bad, and indifferent. "Malaria is a bad thing," the hand-wringers all lament, "so let's throw poisons everywhere to kill the naughty mosquitoes that carry it from one person to another. What the heck? If the poisons kill all the good insects: the pollinators, the butterflies, the bees, everything within reach, so what? We can do big drama, spend big bucks, grandstand and strike attitudes full time, all to show what virtuous, important, essential, crusading heroes we are. First things first."

And yet.

Here's today's reality smack: That same heroic spraying reduces the population of bats and birds that rely for their very survival on the vast variety of insects.

Have you heard of bats? Of hummingbirds? Of purple martins? Of swallows? Of frogs and toads? Of dragonflies? Of gambusia minnows--surface feeders that think larvae are nummy?

All these creatures and many more are eager--eager--to find mosquitoes and eat them. Such creatures do not need annual renewal. They do not spread toxins. They do not demand benefits. They do not march for early retirement. They simply want (and deserve) to live as part of the Mother's natural cycle.

The suits, on the other hand, under whatever letterhead, seek to justify their bloated paychecks by trumpeting their strenuous activities in the anti-malaria effort. How stupid can you get? Instead of killing off the bats and birds and other creatures with toxins, how about having massive breeding programs for them and constructing inexpensive bat- and bird-houses?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Update Witch's Ball

After the disappointing cancellation of the ball in Radford, we are now able to confirm that we will be attending a Witches' Ball at the UU in Charleston WV on the 30th of October.
There we will be teaching Argentine Tango and giving a short workshop.
 It's a dress-up affair with prizes for costumes.
Gavin and Yvonne


Hi, guys and girls.

We will get back to work on blog-think eventually. This is just to tell you that the Witches' Ball in Radford VA, set for October 30, has been canceled. You'll just have to do what we do : dress up like Christians and go trick-or-treating. Have fun. Don't do anything we wouldn't do. BB GY

Yvonne's PS If you have scheduled on October 31 a spiritual-type event in observance for Samhain, don't come within range of my sticklerism and codger-hood or I'll give you a real reality-smack. You're scheduling your observance by some pope's calendar??! Do what I do. Consult the Old Farmer's Almanac in your bathroom and observe that this year's full moon nearest October 31 occurs on October 22. THAT's when the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest. That's when I hope you will open your spirit to whatever the Guides and Elder Ones choose to let you have.

Do have pleasure in the spiritual experience that may come. BB

Saturday, October 2, 2010

When is enough enough?

It seems to us that American culture reached its optimum point in about 1960. There was no need for any household to have two jobs: a small house with 2.2 children and one car seemed adequate. Since that time the god Mammon has gradually eroded our lifestyle and the American dream has become ever more swollen. Now we feel denied, underprivileged, if we don’t have

* two cars, one of them a monster battlefield weapon,

* a pantry jammed full of synthetic obese-making “foods”,

* at least two computers per family member ((not to mention all those little personal devices including death-dealing thumb games, obsolete or replaced in a week, flogged by the electronics empires, and

* a wall-filling TV 8 feet by 10 feet and ½ inch thick--whose offerings consist largely of mind- numbing drivel.

All this together with a multi-bedroomed house on a green quarter-acre of perfectly groomed lawn.

Paying for such a lifestyle requires at least two working adults per family, though with each passing year those two adults are earning less and less in real terms. The separation between incomes of the middle class and of the rich has widened to such an extent that (in our opinion) the United States has passed what is called the tipping point.

It looks as if it will continue to get worse with more people demanding more and more, though less able to afford it; paying for it all over a lifetime with the “aid” of broken financial institutions that will charge higher and higher percentages if you are to support your self-indulgent, over-consuming life style.

It may be difficult for you troops to believe this, but we Frosts live on Social Security, on less than $1,300 a month. We occupy a pleasant little house 100 years old and drive a reasonable car that’s only four years old. Our estate, “Gingerbread House”, is a city lot measuring 44 feet by 150 feet. At least one third of it is given over to a vegetable garden. Yes, it has trees--fruit trees. Yes, it has some grass, but not much; and we’re replacing more and more of the “lawn” with purslane for salads.

So look around you. Look at your life style and decide for yourself: When is enough enough?

Blessed be Y'all  (we just got back from the ozarks)