Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Nuclear Energy revisited...

James Lovelock by Eamonn McCabe

"Lovelock believes global warming is now irreversible, and that nothing can prevent large parts of the planet becoming too hot to inhabit, or sinking underwater, resulting in mass migration, famine and epidemics. Britain is going to become a lifeboat for refugees from mainland Europe, so instead of wasting our time on wind turbines we need to start planning how to survive. To Lovelock, the logic is clear. The sustainability brigade are insane to think we can save ourselves by going back to nature; our only chance of survival will come not from less technology, but more.
Nuclear power, he argues, can solve our energy problem - the bigger challenge will be food."

I have severely neglected my austin permie blog and one of my explorations I had wanted to continue was the issue of nuclear energy. After a few posts, I had a few commenters who either from experience or who had no preconceived notions re. nuclear energy found that, it wasn't the 'evil' energy solution it had been touted to be. I am taking the liberty to post some of these comments with the link to two of my posts on the subject. As someone who is truly interested in finding solutions, I cannot but keep an open mind.. considering that James Lovelock, the originator of the Gaia theory, has endorsed nuclear energy, it counts for something. Also, there are different manners of nuclear waste solutions practiced like in Canada (if memory serves me correctly).. are the comments with highlights from yours truly. Read, think, digest and read some more.. to challenge people to keep an open mind is not just something for 'conservatives' or Republicans.. there are many preconceptions out there that on its face will face dismissal, nuclear energy being one of them.

The Revenge of Gaia- James Lovelock

From Rod Adams;

"As a former US nuclear submarine engineer officer, I made up my own mind a long time ago. My experience sealed up underwater for months at a time leads me to want to shout from the mountaintops. Anyone who is truly concerned about the environment should be at least willing to learn a little more about a power source that works in a closed environment.

Since I have a hard time finding a good mountaintop where there is a ready audience, I have been sharing my thoughts and knowledge on the Internet for more than a decade at Atomic Insights. More recently I have added a blog and a podcast to try to share even more widely and open up avenues for discussion.

Some people try to shut down the argument by pulling out what they believe is rhetorical trump card "what do you do with the waste"? There are many good answers to that question - the simplest form of the answers is "we can recycle it." About 95% of what is currently considered to be waste is still fuel material, and the rest is rare elements with unique physical properties that have potentially valuable uses.

Politically speaking, one should look around and see just how many people in the conventional fuel industry would loose a fair portion of their wealth and power if nuclear fission is allowed to play on an even moderately level playing field.

Here are some stark facts - the average operating cost of nuclear plants in the US is 1.7 cents per kilowatt hour. That compares to 2.2 cents for coal, 7.5 cents for gas and 8 cents for oil (2006 figures). Because of those low operating costs, our 104 nuclear plants operate flat out, with capacity factors over the past 4 years averaging about 90%. For every additional 1000 MWe nuclear plant, there would be a reduction in demand for coal of about 4 million tons per year.

In the past dozen or so years, I have been searching for the source of funding for nuclear opposition groups and have found a lot of sooty, but smudged fingerprints traceable to the fossil fuel industry."

From Karen Street:

"In Berkeley, where I live, denizens of Lawrence Berkeley Labs are wandering down the hill to downtown to lecture on energy and climate change. Their main focus for the spring lectures is cellulosic biofuels. Steve Chu, director of LBL spoke last Monday and addressed one of the points in the first comment: what about nuclear waste? Coal power emits just while the plant is operating 4 x as much radioactivity as nuclear power will over its complete lifecycle, from mining the uranium until the waste has decayed.
OK, so if you're worried about nuclear waste, you'll fight coal first! (No one mentions the radioactivity in coal waste because it's so far down the list of coal's sins.)

Chernobyl taught the Soviets to make no more commercial reactors without containment for the core; the rest of the world already knew that lesson. Chernobyl has already killed 50 - 60 people, and perhaps as many as 4,000 more will die over the next 7 decades. It was horrible.

You have a picture of Palo Verde in the part 2 post. If coal power plants had been built instead, then 400 members of the public would die every year (coal kills about 30,000 Americans annually with its particulates, and another 1,000 with ozone). A few coal miners would die each year, mostly from black lung disease. Over the 60 years service expected from Palo Verde, 6 times as many people would die from Palo Verde coal substitute as are expected to die from Chernobyl.
Good luck with your explorations -- this is a path I began wandering down a decade ago, without strong preconceptions. I was surprised at what I learned."

From Randall Leavitt:
"About fours years ago I decided to do exactly what you are doing now - try to get to the bottom of the nuclear energy issue. I was shocked to find out how clean, safe, reliable, inexpensive, and sustainable nuclear power is. Based on the data that I dug up for myself I had to really change a lot of my deeply held beliefs. It was quite a revelation.

So be prepared to discover that nuclear power is much better than you imagine at the moment.

You can review some of the thinking that got me to this point at my blog site:

Positive Energy "

The Nuclear Energy Debate Part 1
The Nuclear Energy Debate Part 2

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Rest in Peace Randy Pausch..

"Randy Pausch, a computer science professor whose "last lecture" about facing terminal cancer became an Internet sensation and a best-selling book, has died. He was 47."

Whenever I read about people 'my age' (I'm only 3 years younger than him) who pass on and who have left their remarkable imprint on the world, I wonder what oh what can I do to do the same? It's not in the spirit of competition of course, but it makes you think of that quality, ability, personality trait that gives something to the people you meet, the community you live in or work in.. so much on tv and popular culture is about taking and making money and all manner of acquisition..
here was Randy Pausch who had a zest for life, an awesome adventurous and inquiring soul as a teacher, professor.. like the many who's seen his last lecture on Youtube (I posted it here a month or so ago), I wished I could have met him.

Like Steve Irwin, his love for life and his computer 'stuff' made you wish you had the same enthusiasm infused in your own life..

All the best to his wife and family. Randy Pausch..


Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Osterley Times: Savage on Autism: "It's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out"

The Osterley Times: Savage on Autism: "It's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out"

I'd been meaning to link to this as it just boggles the mind that this man hasn't been taken of the air. As a late teen, I once babysat two boys, one of them being autistic. The boy had the bluest of eyes that penetrated my head only to laserbeam somewhere out the back..beautiful eyes, unreachable. He was a little escape artist as well who had to be locked in his room at night and even during the day, when you'd think you closed everything off safe and sound..he could still find a way to get out of the house, only to stand in the middle of this country road his family lived in front. He gave me a near heart attack. He must be in his 20s now and I wonder sometimes what has become of him and his family. What help do they/he have/has?
If you want to know a little bit more about autism, there are different types as well apparently.
check out these blogs that I found at this point;
Athena, Ivan and the Integral and
Odd One Out

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hellow Dolly!

hurricane rain or not to rain (here in Central TX), that is the question.

Ok, Dolly won't be good for where ever she hits landfall with all the flooding and damage expected..however..for this parched Austin land (and area)..we sure can use some rain. This week my youngest, 5 yr old has been home and as expected, she needs a 'mrs Nesbith' week, my oldest will be home so the last leg of the holidays will prove to be a bit challenging activity-wise.

I need to take some pics of the backyard and talk about the changes I would like to make. That is the advantage of having my older one (10); we can make stuff together. Anyhow, it's time to get the brood out of bed to drop him off at his summer camp and take her to her swimming lesson (and hopefully get her tired out in the process)..

not much posting these days I'm afraid but I'll try to fling something on tomorrow. I see something I like and email the link to me for future references..I ought to post about it..oh well. Here's hoping we get some rain tonight..

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Congratulations Steve Metze and Don Swaymos!

They just won the Grand Jury Documentary Feature for their documentary "A Year at Danger" at the deadCENTER filmfestival in Oklahoma City this past week.

I saw the documentary a little over a month ago and as someone who has seen her share of docs, I have to say it was truly excellent. My friend Chris introduced me to Steve Metze (briefly) as he is one of her students in her memoir writing class. I was reminded of Steve today as I had lunch with her and caught up on how we should proceed with our goal to do something for veterans coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan with combat-related PTSD.

Part of our plan is to offer memoir writing classes (for free of course) in a retreat setting. Chris is an English professor who's been teaching that class through the University of Maryland. The retreat is supposed to help in the healing process, but of course, it would not be the healing component by and off itself. Today we discussed setting up a non profit and how we should refine and clarify our mission statement. At any rate, early August, Chris will go to Afghanistan to teach that same class plus some other classes at one of the big military compounds. She'll have to go through basic training/boot camp which we joked about today. In the early 90s, she did the same thing; going through boot camp as she was going to teach on a military base in Bosnia.

Ours is a long story in terms of how we met (definitely 'meant' to be considering how we connected) and how we seem to meet other people who can help us develop a viable program. The trick will be to start small but have a good non-profit organization set up. We view this endeavour as a community effort; it will take various parts to make it work, and various people/orgs have services to offer that could be of help. We're all for delegation!

At any rate, I'm excited and a bit nervous for Chris to go to Afghanistan but part of me wished I could go along on that adventure. It'll be an eye opener and who knows, she'll come back with more insight of what we can do. She'll only be gone for 6 mos, during which time I'll be getting 'us' ready with the non profit and making connections etc.

For those of you who missed this when I first posted on it; here's an excerpt of 'A Year At Danger'

check out what I wrote about it in my June 13th post.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Response to Enigma's Shower video... way they shower, the way they it is E..from you!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

More Washington pics

The three soldiers by the Vietnam memorial.

After our Capitol tour through a TX senator's office, we stopped by but..Obama wasn't there. I was so tired by this time (the end of the week)I was kinda glad he wasn't. I just wanted to sleep at that point and be beamed back to my hotel bed.

Of all things the kids will remember the metro the most..

One very bored panda at the zoo

When you're bored there's always keeping yourself occupied with self-portraits..

At the Museum of Natural History.. a great place for kids. Somehow, inspite of our comments to the contrary, my youngest is convinced we descend from Dinosaurs..

Dirk pointing something out for his uncle Roy (retired commander of a nuclear submarine)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Back from Washington DC - part 1

On the Mall in front of the Lincoln's so different seeing it in person than seeing it, yet again, in a picture.

The Vietnam Memorial

The 'latest' edition, finally; the World War II memorial

Wow, what a whirlwind that was. It was, trains, planes automobiles (and ofcourse, the metro and a cab here and there and a bus)

I'm catching up on things I need to do around the house as we came home very late Saturday night and this morning, both kids each went to their perspective summer for now.. just a few pics to show you before commentary and stories..

The one I will tell you is that I---WE (the family) got to meet Mash(from Docstrangelove blog) on our first day there and my kids and his daughter just took off and played loud and hard (a bump here and there but on the whole, no blood! [g]).. and my husband James and I had some very interesting discussions/conversations re. politics and the Obama campaign and American politics. James and Mash are really on par in terms of political knowledge and observation/insight..I was recuperating from a night of hardly any sleep, getting up waaay too early to be at the airport for the first flight and all that traveling..but..with coffee in hand, I enjoyed the company and conversation. I was not really too alert but hey, I am always good for an opinion or two.. Thanks for having us Mash and thanks to your lovely wife (doing an imitation of the Scarlett Pimpernell, she was not present) for the great spread of food and drinks...

Mash and moi!

Mash, 'moi' and James, great picture taking Surah!

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Reading the Hobbit..

and readying the family for a one week stay in Washington DC. Today I got the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. To think that the Hobbit was written in 1937! We've had the films for a few years now and I finally 'got around to' getting the books. I read the first chapter to my ten year old and then told him, sorry, I'm going to finish this off first, you'll get second dibs.

The Hobbit- J.R.R. Tolkien

He finished reading the Golden Compass and started with the Subtle Knife but somehow isn't that much into the second book.

The Golden Compass - Phillip Pullman

Reading a book that gets your juices going is a great feeling. I used to have it with murder mystery books and I had to finish it, even if it took me well into reading till 3 or 4 am in the morning (naturally usually on weekends)..

What are you currently reading and what book is the kind that keeps you up late??
Also, since we'll be in Washington next week, I'll be so lucky to finally meet one of my bloggers against torture-compadre; Mash from Docstrangelove. My family will be having lunch at his house with his family and I'm guessing we'll have some great Bangladeshi dishes..(big scoops or raita for me please, I'm pretty pathetic with spicy stuff but my dh can make up for that)..

Anyhow, I'm in and out of checking out blogs and probably will try to post more about the trip next week if we have internet access. I expect that at least Mash will have some pics to show from our fun.. I'm looking forward to the trip AND meeting Mash!

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