Saturday, April 30, 2011

Remnick redeems himself a bit

The New Yorker's coverage of West Asia was quite bad leading up to the Iraq war, so it's a good thing, though culturally an easier thing, that he does some plain speaking here.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The most important number on earth

350 ppm

From Dr Saini's Cardioblog, which is here.

McKibben is building a mass movement quite well.

Some of my elderly friends have told me they don't want to live long enough to see the outcome, but those of us who have no choice have no choice.

This speech is good.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Don't forget about Fukushima even if the media have

I am not certain this means what I think it means. But it is very sobering and requires attention.....

Busby - Fukuparticles2

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

There are many roads to socialism

From the Associated Press:

China, one of Cuba's biggest backers, praised the island's ruling Communist Party on Tuesday for approving sweeping economic and social reforms.


Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said those decisions were sure to have a "profound and far reaching impact on the development of socialism in Cuba."

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I'm sure Brecht would do outstanding flashmobs

But everyone is still learning, with interesting results.

Bill Black on the Intersection of Stupidity and Injustice

I end on the fundamental problems with Geithner’s immunity doctrine and Yglesias’ support for it. The policy represents the intersection of the curves of injustice and stupidity at their respective maxima. Those curves have intersected to produce Secretary Geithner’s policy of protecting from prosecution the elite C-suite criminals who caused the financial crisis and the Great Recession. It is stupidity of truly epic proportions to leave felons in charge of banks. Doing so cannot stabilize a financial system – it is certain to cause recurrent, intensifying crises. When I was a regulator during a financial crisis our agency’s top priority was to prevent frauds from controlling S&Ls. Our second priority was to support the prosecution of those fraudulent leaders.

The injustice of Geithner’s “elite frauds go free” doctrine is every bit as extreme as the stupidity of believing that giving fraudulent CEOs de facto immunity is the road to financial stability. It is a travesty that I have to defend the importance of integrity and justice. No nation can be great if it allows its elites to loot with impunity and prosecutes its whistleblowers. Geithner is destroying the things that made America great. He did so as part of Bush’s wrecking crew and he is doing so now as part of Obama’s wrecking crew.

Bill Black serves as one of the key people documenting the viability of an alternative -- not for current politics, which is too far gone for rehabilitation, but for the historians. The whole post at Naked Capitalism is worth a read.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Durbin moves up a notch

This letter to the CEO of JP Morgan Chase has a nice combination of specific details about debit cards (I learned something) and a firm tone which is sorely lacking in a certain house on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Housewives of NYC --Another must read Taibbi piece

Christy is the wife of John Mack, the chairman of Morgan Stanley. Susan is the widow of Peter Karches, a close friend of the Macks who served as president of Morgan Stanley's investment-banking division. Neither woman appears to have any serious history in business, apart from a few philanthropic experiences. Yet the Federal Reserve handed them both low-interest loans of nearly a quarter of a billion dollars through a complicated bailout program that virtually guaranteed them millions in risk-free income.

The technical name of the program that Mack and Karches took advantage of is TALF, short for Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility. But the federal aid they received actually falls under a broader category of bailout initiatives, designed and perfected by Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, called "giving already stinking rich people gobs of money for no fucking reason at all." If you want to learn how the shadow budget works, follow along. This is what welfare for the rich looks like.

Read the whole thing here.

Has Obama Grown a Spine?

Hard to believe, but Al Ahram is reporting that he's sticking it to Netanyahu:

In this article, citing Israeli reports in Yediot Ahronot. A brief perusal of Ynet News doesn't show the story, but it may be in Hebrew.

US President Barack Obama announced a decision to recognise the creation of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, adding that the US will vote as such in the United Nations, reported the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot.

One of the newspaper’s head commentators, Nahum Barnea, stated that “senior” US officials attribute the president’s latest stance to “the revolutions storming the Arab world.” This coupled with resentment at Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu for failing to take genuine steps towards a settlement with the Palestinians reportedly inspired the president to adopt his latest position.

Barnea expects relations between Washington and Tel Aviv to head down a rather dangerous road, wherein “a US approval for the declaration of a Palestinian state would cause confusion and extreme embarrassment for Israel.”

Obama, according to Barnea’s sources, has “completely lost his trust in Netanyahu” and has not replied to the prime minister’s correspondence which stressed that approval of the latest peace proposal would lead to the collapse of Tel Aviv’s ruling coalition. It also noted that Israel cannot make any “geographical” compromises as this is its strongest playing card.

Obama proposed that Netanyahu provide him with a secret pledge showing the latter’s willingness to withdraw from the West Bank, but Netanyahu refused thereby exacerbating their crisis, Barnea explained.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The steam engine of the 21st Century?

My excitement remains, as the implications are nothing short of miraculous: nuclear energy without hazardous radiation. For the sake of life on earth, threatened by our stupid species, I am praying that it is real.
50 gms of nickel and 0.11 gms of hydrogen gave the energy equivalent of burning 3 liters of oil.

I don't know that any of my friends are science wonks, but regardless, here are the details of the operation from the report of the Swedish scientists: You should skip to the last 2 paragraphs if numbers scare you or bore you.

Surfing around, I found some complaints about the lack of MSM coverage in the US on this -- my take is that it is just the imperial attitude (rapidly becoming a provincial attitude as the empire fades) that there is no news unless we make it.

Prior to startup, the hydrogen bottle with a nominal pressure of 160 bars was connected for a short moment to the device to pressurize the fuel container to about 25 bars. The air of atmospheric pressure was remaining in the container as a small impurity. The amount of hydrogen with the assumed container volume of 50 cm3 is 0.11 grams of hydrogen. The electric heater was switched on at 10:25, and the meter reading was 1.5 amperes corresponding to 330 watts for the heating including the power for the instrumentation, about 30 watts. The electric heater thus provides a power of 300 watts to the nickel-hydrogen mixture. This corresponds also to the nominal power of the resistor.

Initial running to reach vaporization.
The temperatures of the inlet water and the outlet water were monitored and recorded every 2 seconds. The heater was connected at 10:25 and the boiling point was reached at 10:42. The detailed temperature-time relation is shown in figure 6. The inlet water temperature was 17.3 °C and increased slightly to 17.6 °C during this initial running. The outlet water temperature increased from 20 °C at 10:27 to 60 °C at 10:36. This means a temperature increase by 40 °C in 9 minutes which is essentially due to the electric heater. It is worth noting that at this point in time and temperature, 10:36 and 60°C, the 300 W from the heater is barely sufficient to raise the temperature of the flowing water from the inlet temperature of 17.6 °C to the 60 °C recorded at this time. If no additional heat had been generated internally, the temperature would not exceed the 60 °C recorded at 10:36. Instead the temperature increases faster after 10:36, as can be seen as a kink occurring at 60 °C in the temperature-time relation. (Figure 6). A temperature of 97.5 °C is reached at 10:40. The time taken to bring the water from 60 to 97.5 °C is 4 minutes. The 100 °C temperature is reached at 10:42 and at about 10:45 all the water is completely vaporized found by visual checks of the outlet tube and the valve letting out steam from the chimney. This means that from this point in time, 10:45, 4.69 kW power is delivered to the heating and vaporization, and 4.69 – 0.30 = 4.39 kW would have to come from the energy produced in the internal nickel-hydrogen container.

The experiment was continually running from 10:45 to 16:30 when it was stopped by switching off the heater and increasing the cooling water flow to a maximum of 30 liters per hour. On two occasions during the steam production phase, David Bianchini tested the radiation level which did not differ from the normal level in the room. The temperature at the outlet was controlled continually to be above 100°C. According to the electronic log-book it remained always between 100.1 and 100.2 °C during the operation from 10:45 to 16:30 as can be seen in figure 7. Between 11:00 and 12:00 o’clock, control measurements were done on how much water that had not evaporated. The system to measure the non-evaporated water was a certified Testo System, Testo 650, with a probe guaranteed to resist up to 550°C. The measurements showed that at 11:15 1.4% of the water was non- vaporized, at 11:30 1.3% and at 11:45 1.2% of the water was non-vaporized. The energy produced inside the device is calculated to be (1.000-0.013) (16:30-10:45) 4.39 =25 kWh.

Since we do not have access to the internal design of the central fuel container and no information on the external lead shielding and the cooling water system we can only make very general comments. The central container is about 50 cm3 in size and it contains 0.11 gram hydrogen and 50 grams nickel. The enthalpy from the chemical formation of nickel and hydrogen to nickel hydride is 4850 joule/mol [6]. If it had been a chemical process, a maximum of 0.15 watt-hour of energy could have been produced from nickel and 0.11 gram hydrogen, the whole hydrogen content of the container. On the other hand, 0.11 gram hydrogen and 6 grams of nickel (assuming that we use one proton for each nickel atom) are about sufficient to produce 24 MWh through nuclear processes assuming that 8 MeV per reaction can be liberated as free energy. For comparison, 3 liters of oil or 0.6 kg of hydrogen would give 25 kWh through chemical burning. Any chemical process for producing 25 kWh from any fuel in a 50 cm3 container can be ruled out. The only alternative explanation is that there is some kind of a nuclear process that gives rise to the measured energy production.

Cautiously getting excited

via the Next Big Future blog:

They're calling it a "new kind of physics" which is "enigmatic".

Of the 3 possibilities of fraud, error, or scientific revolution, the probability of error is now much less. If it's a fraud, it'll be one of the great scientific frauds in history. If it's real, it will mark a turning point in human history.

Meanwhile the Italians seem pretty confident. They have shrunk the reactor down to improve some of its performance and remain on track with their plan to connect 300 of these in various series and parallel circuits to build a 1 Megawatt generator. Target is Oct of this year, so their confidence is high. They apparently have a customer.

Details from a Swedish newspaper, NyTeknik:

The reactor itself, which is loaded with the nickel powder and secret catalysts pressurized with hydrogen, has an estimated volume of 50 cubic centimeters (3.2 cubic inches). The reactor is made of stainless steel.

At a first meeting with Rossi at the end of February they were given access to a sample of the pure nickel powder, intended for use in the energy catalyzer, and another sample of nickel powder which, according to Rossi, had been used in the reactor for 2.5 months.

Their analyses showed that the pure powder consists of essentially pure nickel, while the used powder contains several other substances, mainly 10 percent copper and 11 percent iron.

“Provided that copper is not one of the additives used as catalyst, the copper isotopes 63 and 65 can only have been formed during the process. Their presence is therefore a proof that nuclear reactions took place in the process,” Kullander said

Analyses of the nickel powder used in Rossi’s energy catalyzer show that a large amount of copper is formed. Sven Kullander considers this to be evidence of a nuclear reaction.

For copper to be formed out of nickel, the nucleus of nickel has to capture a proton. The fact that this possibly occurs in Rossi’s reactor is why the concept of cold fusion has been mentioned – it would consist of fusion between nuclei of nickel and hydrogen. A term that many consider to be more accurate, however, is LENR, Low Energy Nuclear Reaction.


Kullander: Provided that copper is not one of the additives used as catalyst, the copper isotopes 63 and 65 can only have been formed during the process. Their presence is therefore a proof that nuclear reactions took place in the process. However, it’s remarkable that nickel-58 and hydrogen can form copper-63 (70%) and copper-65 (30%). This means that in the process, the original nickel-58 should have grown by five and seven atomic mass-units, respectively, during the nuclear transmutation. However, there are two stable isotopes of nickel with low concentration, nickel-62 and nickel-64, which could conceivably contribute to copper production. According to Rossi copper is not among the additives. 100 grams of nickel had been used during 2.5 months of continuous heating with 10 kW output power. A straightforward calculation shows that a large proportion of the nickel must have been consumed if it was ‘burned’ in a nuclear process. It’s then somewhat strange that the isotopic composition doesn’t differ from the natural.