28 April 2007

A Solution to the Energy Crisis

When oil runs out then gasoline cars will be obsolete. It is estimated that natural gas will peak 10 years after oil peaks(1). We cannot use LPG because LPG is made from either natural gas or crude oil. Hydrogen doesn't seem viable either because production of hydrogen requires fossil fuels to drive electrolysis. Electrolysis of hydrogen using renewable energy sources is not practical. To power the world's energy needs you will require wind turbines that cover the world many times over. The closest solution we have is battery powered hybrid vehicles, but even that solution is limited by battery technology.

I have a solution. Trams and trains run on electricity directly, which means there are no worries about energy storage, i.e. no batteries are needed. Hence just radically expand the public transport network to make it more comfortable and convenient and let everyone catch public transport. An alternative is to replace all roads with tram lines. Tram lines will be everywhere, even on your driveway at home. You will have your own personal private tram, which you will use to drive on the tram lines. People who want to go "offroad" will have to use electric vehicles. Private trams can be driven automatically. Once the tram gets into an intersection then its directions are controlled by by a computer for that intersection, which manages traffic flow. Because no one has to drive then there will be no road fatalities. Plus people can do something while they transport themselves, which increases productivity and thereby improves the economy.

Where will the electricity to power the trains and trams come from? The only solution is nuclear power.

1: www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/

26 April 2007

What is Wrong with the Ecohouse Challenge?

I've been watching the Ecohouse Challenge on SBS regularly. I've just watched the third episode. What is the Ecohouse Challenge? The series overview explains:

Can we save the planet? To find out, two ordinary suburban households have been wired to monitor their every eco move.

The challenge starts with a bang. Without warning four environmental hotspots, energy, water, transport and waste removal are shut down until further notice.

Over several weeks, while still living their normal lives, the families must radically reduce consumption and learn to live sustainably.

For the Edwards; a large, frugal family led by logistically minded ex-commando Spike and no nonsense working Mum, Mary, it’s going to be tough. With seven in the family, including their elderly grandmother, Nonna, consumption is high.

Meanwhile the Shepherds; an affluent family headed up by financially obsessed businessman, Cam and sharp witted domestic workhorse, Shauna, love the good life. Going without is not going to be easy for these consumer addicts.

But help is at hand. The families’ Eco Coach is modern day greenie and scientific number cruncher, Tanya Ha. Together they have just weeks to do what we all must do in just a few decades. If they can pass the Eco House Challenge and help save the planet…so can we.

The two families had their electricity turned off and were told to reduce consumption by 60 per cent. The Edwards family did everything correctly. They were totally frugal, and yet they failed because they only managed to reduce consumption by 45 per cent. The Shepherds, on the other hand, seemed to have a very poor attitude to the whole challenge and didn't seem to care. Yet they passed. They were able to lower consumption by more than 60 per cent. Tanya explained that the Edwards faced a difficult challenge because they already used little energy, and so reduction by 60% was going to be difficult. It is entirely possible that, say, the Shepherds used 100 units of energy and lowered it to 40 units, which is a 60 per cent reduction. The Edwards may have been using 20 to begin with and they lowered it to 9 units of energy, which is a 45 per cent reduction. At the end the Edwards use less energy, 9 units compared to the Shepherds' 40 units, yet the Shepherds' high initial energy use means their percentage reduction of 60 is greater than the Edwards' percentage reduction of 45 per cent. This game then punishes families for being frugal in the first place. If you are an energy waster you can win this game easily simply by turning off all your luxury appliances, e.g. dishwasher, etc. But if you are already living frugally you have to turn off necessities just to win. You have to turn off lights, spend only a few seconds opening the refrigerator door, etc. Totally unfair.

25 April 2007

Top Ten Reasons Not To Buy A Hummer

Anti-Hummer Campaign


Top Ten Reasons Not To Buy A Hummer

On the streets of Iraq, Hummers are the transportation of choice of the U.S. military. They are in every city and town, guarding gas stations and government buildings, and usually they carry U.S. soldiers who are holding machine guns.

Now Hummers are on the streets of the United States, too.

Just as the Bush administration plays on Americans' fears of terrorism and tries to make us believe that the Iraq war made the world safer, so do Hummer ad campaigns play on people's fears by using images of apocalypse and destruction. They also try to make Americans believe that we are safer in large, gas-guzzling vehicles like the Hummer, despite clear evidence that Hummers are a danger both to their passengers and other drivers.

Hummers are horribly destructive to the environment. With an Environmental Protection Agency rating of two out of ten, because of the Hummer's average gas mileage of nine miles per gallon, it is not difficult to see how Hummers hurt the environment through their astronomical consumption of fossil fuels. Oil consumption is a major contributor to pollution and global warming. Hummers literally threaten the very air our children breathe.

Additionally, the Hummer is fueling this country's dependence on oil, which ends up pushing the U.S. into conflicts around the world, most recently Iraq.

To top it all off, small business owners who purchase Hummers receive a $100,000 tax break under Bush9s new Economic Stimulus Plan.

This same plan only grants a tax break of $4,000 for the Toyota Prius hybrid.

Hummers cost upwards of $55,000, which means that yet again wealthier individuals (the only people able to afford a $55,000 car) receive disproportionately more in tax breaks.

Top Ten Reasons Not To Buy A Hummer

Hummers may look cool on the outside. They might even appear to be a symbol of patriotism and solidarity with our troops in Iraq. But don't let appearances fool you. Peer beneath the surface and you'll find a host of reasons why the Hummer.is a bummer.

1. The Gas Mileage Alone Will Kill You The Hummer has the worst gas mileage of any civilian vehicle. Although the number is tightly guarded(vehicles that weigh over 8,400lbs, the weight of the smaller and lighter model of Hummer, the H2, are exempt from revealing their gas mileage to consumers) it hovers somewhere around 9 mpg. The Environmental Protection Agency gave a 2 out of 10 rating for the H2. In fact, the Hummer's gas mileage is less than half the mileage of the Model T Ford, the first car ever made. As our country's gas prices continue to soar and our economy continues to sink, ask yourself, can you honestly afford the astronomical cost of driving a hummer?

2. The Hummer Receives More Complaints Than Any Other Car Hummers are full of bugs. According to the 2003 J.D. Power and Associates Automotive Survey, Hummers received more complaints than any other line of cars both foreign and domestic-225 reported problems per 100 new vehicles compared to an industry average of 133. Complaints ranged from wind noise to poor performance to.you got it: poor gas mileage.

3. Oil Addiction Leads to War The global addiction to oil is leading to resource wars through out the world, and the US is the #1 addict! According to a recent World Bank study, countries that export oil are 40 times more likely to be engaged in war than non-exporting countries. Would over 500 American soldiers and countless Iraqis have died if our country was not addicted to fossil fuels? The EPA reported that an improvement of just 3 mpg overall would save 1-million barrels of oil per day. Considering that the United States imports 740,000 barrels of oil per day from Iraq, a modest improvement in fuel economy would free the country from its dependence on this hostile state. And if we all drove hybrid cars, which get over 50 miles per gallon, we could prevent all future wars for oil.

4. They are Killers on the Road According to a study by the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration, if you are in an accident with an SUV, you are 3.4 times more likely to be killed than if you had been hit by another car. Simply put, on the road, mass wins. The 8,400 pound H2 and 10,000+ H1 weigh significantly more than the average SUV, and are thus some of the most dangerous killers on the road. Their height, weight and the stiffness of their frames put drivers of smaller cars at great risk for fatalities, Tough luck for the other guy (or woman or child), you might say, but at least I'll be protected, right? Wrong.

Hummers are not safe for their own drivers, either. The higher mass of SUVs and Hummers make them more difficult to stop. This lack of maneuverability INCREASES the numbers of fatal accidents.

5. Soldiers Are Dying In Them Although the Army does not keep a breakdown of Humvee casualties, almost every week the media reports incidents of soldiers being wounded or killed in their Humvees. Some officers estimate that upwards of 60% of the casualties suffered by their troops occurred in Humvees. Beyond the unavoidable dangers of war, there are two primary causes of the high number of Humvee casualties, faulty armor and terrible maneuverability. Most Humvees being used in active duty in Iraq were originally built with no armor whatsoever, as they were not meant for frontline combat. The newer armored models are not expected to arrive in Iraq until 2005. The weak or non-existent armor of the Humvees allows roadside bombs to rip through the vehicles. This leads to countless deaths and amputees. Beyond the lack of armor a significant percentage of humvee casualties is due to accidents such as tipping over, resulting from the humvee's poor maneuverability.

6. The Tax Break Is Unfair.and Unpatriotic Hummer dealers are snagging new customers by telling them they can get a tax write-off of up to $100,000 as a business expense. How can that be??? This tax break was originally designed for farmers and their trucks, but the legislation defines the vehicle by weight, not use, creating a loophole big enough to drive a Hummer through. Many people are furious about this loophole and are pushing for Congress to change the law. With our nation facing a $500 billion deficit, is it fair for Hummer owners to rip off the US government and their fellow taxpayers? Is it patriotic? Hardly.

7. People Won't Like You Hummer drivers have become a target for angry pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers who don't like seeing super-sized gas guzzlers lumbering down their roads or parked in over-sized spaces on our city streets.

Hummer drivers get yelled at, flipped off, cut off; their vehicles get plastered with anti-Hummer bumper stickers. The website FUH2.com, for example, features pictures sent in from around the world of people flipping off Hummers. As anti-Hummer campaigns continue to pick up speed and disseminate information, the public sentiment against Hummers and their owners will only increase. Do you want this anger focused on you and your vehicle?

8. Mother Earth Won't Like You, Either Beyond the safety and well-being of yourself, your passengers, and other drivers, by driving a Hummer you are endangering the health of the planet itself. Hummers, with their absurd weight, are exempt from meeting ANY emission standards. In other words, Hummers and other extremely large SUVs, such as the Ford Excursion, are allowed to pollute as much as they want without any government interference. Not only does the Hummer emit over 3 times more carbon dioxide than an average car, hastening global warming, but it gives off substantially more smog-producing pollutants and dangerous particulates as well. These are issues affecting all of us today, especially children. In fact, rates of asthma among our nation's children have increased to the point of constituting an epidemic. The EPA predicts that by the year 2010, even with the benefit of current and anticipated control programs, more than 93 million Americans will live in areas that violate health standards for ozone (urban smog), and more than 55 million Americans will suffer from unhealthy levels of fine particle pollution. Is your Hummer really worth the very air you breathe?

9. Will You Really Survive a Falling Asteroid?

A recent ad campaign for the Hummer says: "When the asteroid hits and civilization crumbles, you'll be ready." Makes you sound pretty safe, no? But if the military Humvees can't even protect soldiers in Iraq against roadside bombs, how well do you think the unarmored civilian version will fair against the apocalypse?

10. There are MUCH Better Deals The H2 starts at $50,000, the H1 at $100,000! They are super-expensive, not very comfortable and big gas guzzlers. Stack that up against a Toyota or Honda hybrids, which cost under $25,000 and get 50 miles a gallon. If you really need a bigger car, in 2005 you can buy a hybrid SUV that will get significantly improved mileage. According to the New York Times, the most "cool" Hollywood stars drove to this year's Oscars in hybrid cars and wouldn't be caught dead in a Hummer. So why not save $25,000, be kinder to the planet, and join the "cool crowd"? So what are you doing wasting your time with the Hummers? Go on over to your nearest Toyota or Honda dealer. You'll be glad you did.


Hold a rally, crash an auto show, or go wheat pasting. Plan an anti Hummer action with your CODEPINK community! Email webmistr...@codepinkalert.org to have it listed online. Take part in one of our upcoming anti-Hummer actions!

Click here to download a printable Hybrids Not Hummers poster.

April 22 -Earthday

Organize an April 22 rally at a Hummer or General Motors dealership in your city. If there isn't a Hummer or GM dealer in your city, protest at another well-trafficked downtown location. For a list of U.S.

Hummer dealerships call 415-575-5555.

deas for signs include: Hummers: Driving Us to War, You Play Soldier in Your Hummer, While Soldiers Die in Theirs, Big Hummer Little Brain, etc.

Tell us about your planned protest so we can publicize it as part of the national day of action. Email us at i...@codepinkalert.org or call us at 415.575.5555

Source: Top Ten Reasons Not To Buy A Hummer - soc.retirement | Google Groups

21 April 2007

Melbourne University Dreamlarge Ads

On a lazy Saturday one day I was watching TV with my family, getting ready for another episode of Funniest Home Video Shows, and then I saw an ad that asked "Do you see abundance?" and displayed a picture of dry land. It asked "Do you see peace?" and showed images of tanks being blown up. At the end it says, "We can" and then the Melbourne University logo showed up. I was quite impressed with this ad, so I checked out the website http://www.dreamlarge.edu.au/ and looked at the other ads in the Dreamlarge series. I especially liked the music, which was made by a student at the Victorian College of the Arts.

Melbourne University is starting an ambitious transition into US-style broad education. Some critics call it elitist because it will make the degrees longer and more expensive. Although Melbourne University is not up there with Harvard, Cambridge, or Oxford, the University of Melbourne is number one in Australia and its global rank in recent years has fluctuated between 19 to 22. Either way it is usually consistently in the global top 25.

In the US, most of the elite universities only offer two undergraduate degrees, Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science. If you want to do law, medicine, business, etcetera you have to study these in graduate school. In Australia it usually doesn't work like this. If you want to become a physician you get the MBBS undergraduate degree, if you want to become a lawyer you get the LLB, and so on. One extreme example of this is La Trobe University. With the Melbourne Model, the number of undergraduate degrees will drop from 96 to 6. However, La Trobe has over 200 undergraduate degrees. Normally, if you want to study, say, accounting, you study a Bachelor of Commerce and major in accounting. At La Trobe, each major is its own course. There is a Bachelor of Accounting, a Bachelor of Economics, and so forth. These changes are supposed to align Melbourne University with the best in Europe and America.

Gun Incidents Continue after Virginia Tech

It's only been a few days after Cho Seung-Hui went on a murderous rampage in Virginia Tech and killed 33 people in an event similar to the Columbine High School murders. Today, however, a contract worker in NASA named William Phillips shot dead a hostage before shooting himself. In Northern California, a man, Jeffery Thomas Carney, threatened to go on a killing spree but turned himself in afterwards.

This of course is one of the problems with easy availability of guns. The right to bear arms is protected by the American Constitution as people need it for personal protection. On the other hand, if guns were outlawed, anyone who happens to obtain one illegally and go on shooting sprees would meet little resistance.

15 April 2007

Youtube Stuff 15/4/07

Toyota Commercial - I Like Him

A father wants to know if her daughter's new "boyfriend" is appropriate. The Corolla, being such a conservative car, suggests a traditionally conservative boyfriend.

Roadfly.com - 2008 Lexus LX570

This luxury Lexus LX seems to have a nice-looking front that seems to follow Lexus's new design principle. However, the back looks really strange. The LX also seems to lose its agricultural look and instead leans towards being too fashionable, probably to appeal to the soccer mums. The Landcruiser, however, is not a city car. It is a pure off-road vehicle.

The End of Suburbia - 52 minute documentary on oil

Even if oil runs out I wonder whether there will still be enough LPG.

Reason Behind 2008 Ford Big Super Duty Truck Recall

This is scary. The exhaust spills fire. If your Ford is like this, have it checked out immediately.

03 April 2007

Trading Spouses: Chase/Lane

In this episode of Trading Spouses, mommies from two families are swapped. The mom in the Chase family is an angry, intolerant woman who, if she was pregnant with a child with Down's Syndrome, would abort it. She also hates Hispanics and thinks homosexuals have defects. The Lane family coincidentally happens to be a Lesbian couple living in California with two kids, one boy and one little girl. As you may expect, the spouse swap created a lot of drama.

The Chase household turns out to be filled with anger. The father kept verbally abusing the teenage daughters, especially during sports games. These sports games are just regular suburban soccer matches, yet the father acts as if they were in the Olympics. He constantly criticizes his daughters, telling them they're fat, they're too slow, or they're having too much fun. During a game of baseball he throws the ball at one of his daughter's legs and the force of the ball on her legs was so much she started crying. The father just brushed it off and went back to playing the game. The new spouse recommended the father lighten up.

In the Lane household, the new woman was offending the lesbian, telling her that she thought lesbianism is wrong, etc. The lesbian decided to invite all her friends over for a dinner and then everyone spoke to Ms Chase about her opinions. Ms Chase revealed that she had something against Hispanics, disabled children, and homosexuals. It just so happens that she was having dinner with a crowd that includes Hispanics, a woman who had a daughter with Down's Syndrome, and some homosexual couples. Ms Chase was infuriated, accusing the lesbian of setting her up. This was strange because one minute Ms Chase was saying she doesn't care if she offends people, yet when she actually does offend a crowd she seemed to care very much. There's no question the lesbian did set up the whole thing. If I met a woman who was as rude as Ms Chase, I would try to keep her away from others for their own safety. Ms Chase later described herself as a "monster" and if you had a monster or an angry dog you would keep it away from other people. What the lesbian did was release this angry dog out into the public. But Ms Chase at the end seemed to realize the effect her rudeness had on other people, and at the end she says she doesn't want to be a monster anymore. I'm guessing here but I don't think deep down she is a monster, but she acts that way maybe to feel better about herself. Ms Chase was told that she could "dish it out but couldn't take it." She seemed to be perfectly happy offending others but she couldn't take it when someone else offended her. Like I said, in the end she seemed to learn her lesson, but I have little faith in these reality TV shows because I suspect that usually they contrive a happy ending. It's be great if she did change.