One of our most memorable vacations was effectively traveling from
coverage-free zone to coverage-free zone for two weeks. When we pulled
into Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the darn thing beeped, and had 14 voice
Should have left it unplugged.
John Madden said that for him, success was not having to tie his shoes, if
he didn't want to. Measure yours however you wish.
Your choice. Some of use prefer to call people, instead of places. Or be
reached where we are, instead of where our telephone is.
And still isn't, but it's improving. Regulation (and social engineering
influenced taxation) is still the major cause of distortion in the
economics of telecommunications. However, the flow of technology in that
field is much like the flow of the Mississippi: It can be temporarily
diverted, but that water is going SOMEWHERE.
If _having a cell phone was mandatory_ then I guess leaving it
off was not acceptible.
However, given that cell phones haven't even been around at all
for that long spending 'too long where it was mandatory' implies
a rather rapdid burn out.
Yep...it was mobiles before the cell and required call in if out of
range on a schedule. Not my idea of a way to continue.
And to the other question--if I had one and simply left it in the 'off'
position that would seem a somewhat funny use of resources it seems to
The wife has hers and if we're on travel can use it for emergency and
the absolutely required "check-in" w/ the kids--otherwise, if I'm not
in, I'm "not in" and I intend to keep it that way... :)
I will note that it appears that >99.44% of all cell usage is of
absolutely nothing more than frivolous use and something approaching
probably 90% is annoying to others... :(
And, yeah, I'm a grumpy old man... :)
For the most part, the 'utilities' are/were 'natural monopolies'.
Natural gas distribution, for the most part, still is. Electrical
power, too, at least at retail. Communications & video programming, not
nearly so much so, technology and politics having managed feasible
Where the electricity is generated using oil or natural gas, these
facilities serve to compete for resources which might be used in other
activities, or for which a reduction in demand might reduce pricing.
But fuel substitution and/or new technology is generally not immediate,
or without unintended consequence.
Where you can put a refinery IS highly regulated. At least in MY part
of the world. And there are at least half a dozen of them within a 20
minute drive from my home, in one of the most expensive areas of the
world for real estate.
The technology is also heavily regulated, as are the characteristics of
the products. Not all refineries can produce using just any feedstocks.
(And now we reach the technical boundaries of my understanding of
The politics are not irrelevant. Politics are the means whereby society
has the conversations leading to decisions as to what we value, and how,
and over what time horizions. And the process is inefficient, awkward,
noisy, and hard to judge when we're in the middle of the fray. I don't
see an acceptable alternative, however. Central planning certainly
didn't work, did it?
Taxes are a viable means of introducing social or strategic factors into
a market, not just a means of raising revenues. To some degree, they
are means of allowing other generations a vote in the market. Is it a
perfect system? Not from where I sit. Suggest an alternative.
And I agree here as well. At some point, we have to communicate with
each other, government, producers, corporations, markets, voters, that a
vision of the future has to go beyond 36 months, or the next quarters'
earnings report,or the next election.
We didn't screw this up in a year or two. It isn't one storm, or one
refinery or platform problem, or one set of regulations, but the
cummulative effect of years of decisions. We won't fix it in a month or
By the way, thank you all for the reasoned, though completely OT
discussion. I haven't thought about some of these issues for some time.
It's been an unusual week, in that regard.
who loaded up a cord of firewood for a member of the family today,
because natural gas will be much more expensive this winter, even in
There's been a major unintended consequence particularly w/ NG as the
move to convert from "dirty" coal to "clean" NG has really been a
But most (I'd venture all?) were there <long> before the real estate was
either so regulated nor so expensive...
There's a <MAJOR> piece of the puzzle virtually no one in the general
public has a clue about...
I heard a nationally syndicated talk pundit the other night (and no, it
wasn't elRushbo or even one of that ilk) going on about how the limits
were artificial and all, and in some ways he was reasonably correct.
But one could tell that even he, who is generally pretty level-headed
and has good economic sense and is reasonably well read, had absolutely
no clue about actual production or generation processes.
I saw a comment in the "Talk Back" section of the Wichita Eagle the
other day apropos to the above I liked--
"To those folks who comment that a gallon of gas is cheaper than a
gallon of water or that we're paying so much less than those in Europe,
I say my car doesn't run on water and I do not live in Europe." :)
There's an important point there, too. The problem I have is that in
the current environment it seems like the only purpose of those who are
making policy is to "win" for themselves and their party of affiliation,
irrespective of which party that is. That has essentially
short-circuited any constructive solution to any problem not just energy
for going on to 15 years now.
Tim Daneliuk (in firstname.lastname@example.org) said:
| The truth is that most people use energy but very few pay attention
| to the politics of energy production. In one corner you have the
| Green Gasbag environmentalists who worship the earth and indulge in
| fantasy science. In another you have the politicans who want to get
| paid off before anything moves forward. In another corner, you'll
| find the irresponsible regulators who pay attention to all the
| wrong things. This allows genuine environmental atrocities like
| Love Canal to go unmonitored until it is too late so we have to use
| tax monies to clean up what should have been paid for by the
| polluter. In the final corner we have positions like the one
| above: Let's *inhibit* the energy companies from being too
| successful and lets blame them for all our miseries. Is it any
| wonder we have a supply/demand problem with energy today?
In your haste to stereotype you missed a corner: That in which there
are serious people engaged in the attempt to deliver useful
alternative solutions through research and careful engineering.
DeSoto, Iowa USA
Please note that I specifically limited my "stereotyping" to the
"politics of energy production". This was in no way a slap at
the legitimate work being done in alternative energy research.
But you and your colleagues are no part of the cabal to which I
referred, so you don't get a corner...
Tim Daneliuk email@example.com
Hi Morris, Tim et al,
On Thu, 1 Sep 2005, Morris Dovey wrote:
On the contrary, my take on Tim's posting was that serious R&D on
alternative energy sources will flourish without government
interference, especially as prices rise on conventional energy sources.
I think it's well supported by a basic understanding of economics
for which Hazlitt's book, Economics in One Lesson, can shed some light.
Note: Tim did state "the politics of energy production". My
interpretation of his position is that political interference in the
arena of energy production, distribution etc. introduces perturbations
of the market's natural distribution of resources. To drag this back to
rec.woodworking, do you as a purveyor of passive solar heating
technology think that people can homebrew such panels. Further, do you
think that solar generation of electricity given technological advances
can generate enough DC power to run a decent table saw or similar?
Joseph Crowe (in firstname.lastname@example.org) said:
| On the contrary, my take on Tim's posting was that serious R&D
| on alternative energy sources will flourish without government
| interference, especially as prices rise on conventional energy
| sources. I think it's well supported by a basic understanding of
| for which Hazlitt's book, Economics in One Lesson, can shed some
| light. Note: Tim did state "the politics of energy production". My
| interpretation of his position is that political interference in the
| arena of energy production, distribution etc. introduces
| perturbations of the market's natural distribution of resources. To
| drag this back to rec.woodworking, do you as a purveyor of passive
| solar heating technology think that people can homebrew such
| panels. Further, do you think that solar generation of electricity
| given technological advances can generate enough DC power to run a
| decent table saw or similar?
 Yes I do. Not too long ago one of the regulars' 12-year old
(grand?) daughter did her own research and under his watchful eyes
built a small working demonstration panel for a school science fair.
If a 12-year old can, then I'd have to believe that determined adults
can. To build reliable, long-lived, highly efficient, full-size panels
is a slightly different matter, but within the capabilities of any
woodworker willing to put forth the effort. It's a lot easier than,
say, building your own car from scratch - but a lot harder than buying
 Even with the current state of photovoltaics with enough PV panel
area and sufficient battery and inverter capacity, it's possible to
run even an obscenely large table saw. Having said that, I'll also say
that I don't consider it an economical solution to powering stationary
tools. PV panel cost is high and efficiency is low. You'd need a lot
of panel/battery to power my Unisaw or CNC router.
FWIW, I'm working with a friend to build a solar-powered stirling
engine to drive a generator. I'm hoping to learn a bit about
electrical power generation in the process. My involvement is centered
about collector fabrication and plumbing. It's a fascinating project!
DeSoto, Iowa USA
I recently judged the Connecticut finals for the annual statewide
"Invention Convention" held at UCONN. I was there as an engineer,
other judges include patent attorneys, manufacturers, etc...
If you saw what some of these kids came up with, you'd believe the
conspiracy theorists who rant about oil companies squashing energy
saving technology. <G>
Some of it was _very_ good... And some of it came from _ELEMENTARY_
Last I saw about PV efficiency a couple years ago the real problem was
that manufacturing them took almost as much energy as the *lifetime*
output of the resulting cells. I'm sure the ratio has improved, but
probably not to the point where they can be considered effective in
reducing energy consumption.
"We need to make a sacrifice to the gods, find me a young virgin... oh, and
bring something to kill"
Tim Douglass (in email@example.com) said:
||  Even with the current state of photovoltaics with enough PV
|| panel area and sufficient battery and inverter capacity, it's
|| possible to run even an obscenely large table saw. Having said
|| that, I'll also say that I don't consider it an economical
|| solution to powering stationary tools. PV panel cost is high and
|| efficiency is low. You'd need a lot of panel/battery to power my
|| Unisaw or CNC router.
| Last I saw about PV efficiency a couple years ago the real problem
| was that manufacturing them took almost as much energy as the
| *lifetime* output of the resulting cells. I'm sure the ratio has
| improved, but probably not to the point where they can be
| considered effective in reducing energy consumption.
I had in interesting conversation about this issue with Dr Royal
Haskell(sp?) at IBM. Royal had come up with a breakthrough method for
"pulling" silicon ribbons at high speed. IBM patented the process,
which wasn't considered useful for anything but photovoltaics - and by
now the patent (even if extended) has expired.
Anyway, I asked if, given an initial supply of the ribbon, it would be
possible to build a PV "farm" in, say, Arizona that would supply all
the power needed for a production facility to turn out the ribbons and
fabricate solar panels in consumer quantities. We kicked that around
enough to determine that the idea was, indeed, feasible.
Predictably, IBM had no interest in producing or marketing PV panels
or materials (Why should they - they were making and selling
multi-million dollar computers at capacity) and so, to the best of my
knowledge, nothing was ever done outside Royal's lab.
I would guess that the facility we talked about could be improved upon
using solar furnaces (much of the energy consumption went into
maintaining silicon in a molten state) and the efficiency of the cells
significantly improved with the knowledge we've acquired since those
If the cost of production energy were so reduced, the entire economic
equation would be radically changed...
DeSoto, Iowa USA
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