Saturday, July 12, 2008

Cow Farts

Do we really think that this is the main cause of global warming?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Defending Sweatshops

Along the lines of Recycling...

Penn & Teller: Defending Sweatshops


Where does Depken find this shit? Where did Penn & Teller find these morons?

Penn and Teller Recycling Test

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sounding Black versus Sounding Red

An interesting post from the Freakonomics blog: Blacks who "sound black" earn about 10% less than blacks who "sound white;" whites who "sound black" earn 6% less than whites who "sound white," and; it's almost as "bad" for your wages to "sound southern" (redneck) as it is to "sound black" (even if you live in the south). I wonder how much it costs to sound foreign?

It sort of reminds me of Levitt's (author of Freaconomics) articles on "name discrimination." Some have suspected that people with "distinctively black" names, a trend that began to emerge in the 1970s, earn less. Levitt (and coauthor Fryer find no such discrimination, which is interesting in light of the finding that voice distinctiveness does lead to discrimination.

In turn, this reminds me of my own job application process. My last name is Bang. It's a Danish name, but I'm frequently confused (on paper) with being Korean (in person, my Scandanavian heritage is clear at 6'3" with relatively fair skin). Once, after I had actually obtained a job and had been working a couple months, my employer confessed his own initial misgivings about hiring me to teach for fear of a possible accent or language barrier (on account of my Korean name). At a conference, I was about to meet a Korean colleague for breakfast (he had invited me blindly), and he was surprised that when he met me I was white (he still paid, but I think his intent was to help out a "countryman"). I also get loads of junk mail from Korean Air.

In an unrelated story my last name (Bang) was initially rejected by a social networking site for being "fake" and "inappropriate."

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

RE less than C

It's all about the costs. The key reason renewable energy hasn't hit yet is not feasibility or technology, it's cost. Biofuels ("chemurgies") have been in production since the 30s by Henry Ford. But, The whole key is that it 'R'-enewable 'E'-nergy's cost be less than 'C'-oal's, RE<C. Now, it turns out that wind might be meeting that condition - IF coal's emissions are priced according to current UN recommendations. Right now coal costs about $0.05 per kilowatt; wind costs $0.08. With the carbon dioxide cost of $30 per ton, coal's total cost would be about $0.08.

Please, recognize that a credit to wind to bring its cost DOWN to 0.05/kw would not be equivalent. It would push down the net cost of consuming all energy, including coal-based sources, and would not achieve the dual objective of finding new energies and reducing total emissions now.

Orient Depress

I've said for a while that to keep net exports in surplus, China would have to do some pretty crazy things to keep from accumulating stockpiles of undervalued dollars and prevent speculation on the fixed yuan. Inflows of paper currency recently surpassed FDI inflows as the main offsetting factor to China's Current Account (trade) surplus. Here's some recent evidence.

So, basically they're: (1) forcing banks to hold almost twice their usual reserves, in dollars so that the CB doesn't pile them up (contractionary), and; (2) print more yuan to meet demand and curb speculation (expansionary/inflationary). Add fuel prices and price controls into the mix, and we've got a nice recipe for stagflation.