Warren Buffett profiting from working on the railroad.

 Warren Buffett’s Burlington Northern Santa Fe LLC is among U.S. and Canadian railroads that stand to benefit from the Obama administration’s decision to reject TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s Keystone XL oil pipeline permit.

With modest expansion, railroads can handle all new oil produced in western Canada through 2030, according to an analysis of the Keystone proposal by the U.S. State Department.

 

I’ve been workin’ on Obama,

All the live long day.

And I told him without drama

Ship the oil my way.

Don’t you hear the hot air blowing?

Rise from the pundits every morn.

Don’t you hear the people shouting

“Sarah, won’t you run?”
Sarah, won’t you run,
Sarah, won’t you run,
Sarah, won’t you run the race for us?
Sarah, won’t you run,
Sarah, won’t you run,
Sarah, won’t you run the race?

Something big is cooking with Sarah.
Something is cooking up, I know.
Something big is cooking with Sarah
Strumming on the old banjo.

Fee, fie, fiddle-e-lies
Fee, fie, fiddle-my-Obama.
Fee, fie, fiddle-e-lies
Strumming on the old banjo.

Water, the real climate challenge, much bigger than CO2.

The safe, clean water essential to all life is rapidly running out in much of the world. Yet the politicians are concentrating on air pollution in the form of CO2 and methane as if a catastrophe is about to hit us. The world has gotten colder the last 11 years, and the future trend is down, unless the sun does something quite unexpected. In the meantime much of the world’s safe water supply is disappearing. The western US, much of the 10-40 corridor, Australia and western South America are using up its safe water much faster than it is replenished. In addition, what is left is getting polluted.Let me give you an anecdotal example.

A few years ago I was part of a team that made wet processing equipment for making  computer chip wafers. It involved cleaning and etching using isopropyl alcohol, hydrocloric, sulphuric, and hydrofluoric acid as well as Ozone, all potent stuff. To collect the used chemicals we had designed a 5-way output port, so the chemicals could be collected separately. The equipment was made and shipped off to South Korea. It was assembled in a brand new, state of the art positive air pressure clean room facility. The processing equipment was installed, and under the 5-way port was a large funnel, going  to the drain and directly out in the sewer.

A couple of years before, in the US we had a leaking valve, so a small amount of hydrofluoric acid got discharged into the sewage. This poisoned the sewage processing plant, and a large fine was levied. No such worry in Asia. The sewage goes directly out in the ocean to be diluted.

In China many of these facilities are inland, so large water aquifers get poisoned for centuries to come. These are the people we entrust with our future production of just about everything, since we will have to cut down on our energy use thanks to an administration  hostile to energy development, while China is exempt, building dirty coal-fired plants as fast as they can.They install scrubbers, but scrubbers cost money to run, so they are frequently out of service ( being “serviced”). This results in a large brown upper atmosphere smog extending from China to Pakistan acting as a giant heat sink.

The evolution of evolution from my childhood to now. Science is not settled.

The evolution of evolution from my childhood to now. Science is not settled.

In my early childhood in Sweden we lived is a small community where grades 3-6 were taught together in one class. This meant that the teacher did allow a lot of freedom to explore on my own books in the school library. They had not thrown away any old books the last forty years, so I had quite a selection of old textbooks to choose from.

One in particular caught my eye. It was about anthropology and classification of races by skull index. It was originally based on the works of the Swede Anders Retzius (1796-1860). His research was to classify old bone fragments, but his findings were now extrapolated to explain the evolution of man. There were pictures of people of all kinds of races, with the Nordic, blond and blue-eyed being the most evolved, and the black race, with some exceptions much closer evolutionary to the apes. Not only that, but since men have 40% larger brain volume than women, men are further evolved than women. Being 9 years old I believed everything, since it was in a book. I especially liked being superior to girls.

The next time evolution was taught it was the standard stuff with the horse’s hoof being a nail; fishes grew legs instead of fins and so on. We also had a lot of rudimentary organs, not only the appendix, but tonsils and tailbones too. And this time dogs can look quite different, but people are all equal, and girls are as smart as boys (especially the blond Lithuanian girl who emigrated to Canada. I had to admit she was both cute and smart).

The third time around we tackled some of the hard stuff, mutations being a necessary ingredient for evolution. I read up on radiation gardens, where we can grow superior plants, since we know that at least 10% of mutations are beneficial, just weed out the bad ones and superior plants will emerge.

The radioactive gardens are now but a memory, since it was discovered that nobody could find any positive mutations that way. The closer you got to the source, the worse it got. It turns out that positive mutations are rare indeed. The ones most commonly found are in viruses, but they are positive only from the virus’s point of view.

Survival of the fittest tends to weed out bad mutations, but does nothing to explain the mechanism for speciation creep; it tends to reinforce the speciation boundaries. The genetic code that allows adaption in species is already there, so when the changed environment occurs, we are changed accordingly. None of the mechanisms we have used to explain evolution holds up to examination. The mathematics is just not there. And a system this complicated and beautiful, where so many parts of it are at a mathematic optimum is not possible to bootstrap.

We are left with the humbling fact that we do not know the mechanisms. Yet the textbooks still explain discredited mechanisms as evolutionary facts to yet another generation of kids, thus depriving them of the wonder that there is something beyond themselves, which they can try to grasp, but realizing that there is always one more level of understanding that is beyond them.

Obama’s State of the Union. A Limerick.

I  listened to the State of the Union message and found the president unusually lightweight and repetitive.

Obama as leader: We will end up last

Over his head – his rule must not last.

We all start to feel

He is but a heel

Shoemaker, stay at your last.

80% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050? Is that even possible?

Let me see if I get this right. The Cap and trade legislation has as a goal to meet an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050, but China is exempt. China just passed us in total CO2 emissions. As of March 2009 China had 19.66% of the world population while the US had 4.53%. If we assume a population growth in the US of 26% between now and 2050  we are promising to cut our CO2 emissions to less than 69% per capita of what China emits today. And they can continue to emit as much as their production demands. Looks like a cold and dark future for us.