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Wednesday links

  • “It’s complicated.” HL Harris explains her love-hate relationship with firearms. Rape is a mind-changer.
  • Surprise, Surprise. Drugs are vanishing at V.A. hospitals. (And no doubt many other medical facilities, though you can bet fedgov hospitals will be the champs in this variety of corruption and sloppy record-keeping.)
  • How Peter Thiel’s Palantir helps the world’s worst spies keep tabs on us all.
  • But at least those Deep State spooks are good for something! 🙂
  • Is the age of the giant battery upon us? Battery costs have certainly come down and capacities gone up, as testified by those amazing little lithium-ion gadgets we can now use to jump-start our cars. But I expect certain readers hereabouts might dispute the grander claims.
  • Heh. Pretty cool. A Federal Appeals Court judge cites blogfriend Jim Bovard in a decision regarding Fannie and Freddie and their role in the housing-market collapse. Pity the cite must appear only in a dissent from the majority opinion.
  • In the age of social media, even shelter cats attract attention via their likes and (hilarious) dislikes.


  1. Bear
    Bear February 22, 2017 7:58 am

    “Giant Battery”: hydroelectric dam

  2. s
    s February 22, 2017 8:27 am

    The “big money” (not really so big) is financing energy storage because CA and MA have mandated it.

    This isn’t investment, it is mulcting ratepayers to satisfy the fantasies of regulators. The market price for energy storage is far too low for chemical batteries to compete.

    As Bear points out hydroelectric dams, particularly pumped storage dams, presently fill that demand. Hydroelectric is genuine renewable energy that doesn’t require expensive subsidies and can be turned on and off on demand. It produces over 6% of all US electricity and 35% of “renewable” energy.

    Battery Energy Storage Facilities (BESS) are very dangerous. Batteries can’t be turned off, and a really large battery system stores a very large amount of energy. When things go wrong, and they always do sooner or later, that energy fuels fires and explosions.

    Three highly touted energy storage companies went down hard: A123, Beacon Power, and Xtreme Power. Xtreme power built an extremely dangerous battery system on the Kahuku wind farm in Hawaii that caught fire several times before finally burning for 3 days and damaging both the facility and the company beyond repair.

    Expect more of the same as technologically ignorant politicians pick winners and losers in a not-ready-for-prime time technology, then force ratepayers to foot the bills for their mistakes. The companies financing these boondoggles are just carrion eaters feasting on soon-to-be roadkill.

  3. Comrade X
    Comrade X February 22, 2017 8:37 am

    Prescription drug abuse is an epidemic today and the stealing of drugs from the VA or even another hospital is a small drop into the bucket of drug abuse when that bucket is being filled on a regular basis by Medicaid. Tens of million are on Medicaid (it’s amazing how many under the age of 55 too) today which can make opioid’s cheap and plentiful to anyone who can get a scrip from a doctor somewhere to buy those drugs that cost substantially more on the street which then can make it an affordable drug lifestyle for that consumer or you can always resale them on the street for a big profit to help supplement your lifestyle otherwise paid for by the tax payers in all the other government handouts available today.

    Better living by government programs, we have come so far!!!

  4. pyrrhus
    pyrrhus February 22, 2017 9:36 am

    Every year since the 1990s we have read some story about revolutionary batteries, and I get the thankless task of pointing out that the laws of thermodynamics (including entropy) have not been repealed. Batteries are expensive, waste a lot of energy with every cycle and deteriorate steadily until they are useless and present a serious recycling problem.So far I am batting 1.000….. Pumped hydro is the best we have currently for large scale energy storage.

  5. rochesterveteran
    rochesterveteran February 22, 2017 9:42 am

    “A Federal Appeals Court judge cites blogfriend Jim Bovard in a decision regarding Fannie and Freddie and their role in the housing-market collapse.”

    Another “player” in the housing-market collapse is my governor, Andrew Cuomo.

    Andrew Cuomo and Fannie and Freddie

  6. jed
    jed February 22, 2017 11:15 am

    Fun factioid, from the NOVA program, In Search of the Superbattery: the Tesla Model S (IIRC) uses 3,000 18650 cells, or maybe it was 8,000. Irrespective of quantity, the theoretically simple task of hooking that many batteries together in series-parallel seems a bit boggling. I’m sure it’s really not difficult, just the large number of cells makes me go, “Wow”. An 18650 cell is a cylinder 18mm diameter and 65mm long.

    Pumped hydro seems a good solution. Except for the difficulties in finding terrain suitable for it. Well, maybe since it’s “green”, the eco-nazis will give it a pass, as they do for wind turbines.

  7. Desertrat
    Desertrat February 22, 2017 11:25 am

    Re Harris: It may be harsh, but “…you cannot escape the results of reality” still applies.

    No matter how good giant batteries can be, the price of electricity will continue to increase–and the good days for this nation came about from cheap energy.

    The pumped storage at the Oroville and San Luis reservoirs was a big plus for the operating costs of the California Water System.

    Per the archives at, the USVA ranks rather high in corruption.

    Fannie/Freddie? Don’t forget that the tipping point in the bubble-pop was Carter’s Community Recovery Act. Dominoes.

  8. ExpatNJ
    ExpatNJ February 22, 2017 12:06 pm

    Whatever happened to that “nuclear-powered’ car Popular Mechanics said would be sitting in my garage by now? Did it die with TMI and Chernobyl?

    And, unless one is employed on a lake, that hydroelectric dam is not going to help too many people get to work unless they’re surfing their way there.

    I appreciate the thoughtful discussion and introspect on the battery problem. But, prey tell, what IS one to do???

  9. jed
    jed February 22, 2017 12:53 pm

    Well, gas pumps use electricity. Or, there’s the alternative – the electric vehicle, for driving to work.

    > But, prey tell, what IS one to do???

    Oh, you can agitate your duly elected representatives to end subsidies. I suspect that’s a futile approach. OTOH, you can just try to ignore it as best you can, and figure out what’s best for you. Maybe that means setting up your own personal solar system, or riding your bicycle to work when you can, or, if you’re a chemical engineer, exploiting the system to make money working on future battery storage advances.

    I think the latter would be a lot of fun. You’d get to spend time in a research lab, studying how alkaline metals are all sorts of volatile, and blowing things up in the process of figuring out how to keep exactly that from happening.

    I’ll make the bold prediction that long before small-scale fusion reactors become practical for use in personal vehicles, some other technology will have come along to render the point moot. After all, we already have electric cars (well, have had, for a while, in fact). I do expect that ongoing research will overcome the issues of range and fire hazard. Or maybe it’ll be supercapacitors. Or something else entirely.

    I just wish the government would get it itself out of the business of distorting the market.

  10. John Hardin
    John Hardin February 22, 2017 5:33 pm


    “Pumped hydro … Well, maybe since it’s ‘green’, the eco-nazis will give it a pass.”

    Sorry, no, because dams are built on rivers. Fish have precedence, don’cha’know?

    Now if you could build a dam somewhere else, not on a river…
    …then they’d still oppose it.

    Re battery technology: it looks like Lithium-Sulfur is poised for a big breakthrough:

  11. bud
    bud February 25, 2017 11:46 am

    Don’t get me wrong, I love hydro, but it has its own dangers. See: all the reports on the possible failure of Oroville dam in the last couple of weeks.

    When they built that dam, I said that you’d have to be crazy to live in Yuba City or Marysville, much less Oroville. I haven’t changed my mind.

    Might be family tales, I have a great uncle who’s family lived in Johnstown in 1889. He was only 3, but he repeated the stories.

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