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poly ticks

2006-02-16 16:12:55.76017+00 by Dan Lyke 4 comments

How about some politics today?

  • Ethanol's a Big Scam, and Bush Has Fallen for It isn't really about Bush, it's about the fallacy of ethanol as an alternative fuel, one that's politically popular because of the diverse constituent base it serves, but practically untenable.
  • I'm about halfway through The Myth of the Rule of Law, some good reading about how this notion of law as a truth apart from the humans who administer it and interpret it is actually bad.

[ related topics: Politics Law Current Events ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2006-02-16 17:21:03.760995+00 by: ebradway

On funding ethanol and other biofuels: Isn't the purpose of government subsidies to help shore-up processes that aren't efficient in order to: 1. eventually make the processes efficient and 2. provide a domestic source of a strategic commodity. After all, nuclear fusion has never, ever been efficient but we keep funding that. And a side benefit of ethanol process refinement is that we get to use the fuel now. Nuclear fusion research doesn't produce any usuable outputs.

And what's wrong with government focusing something "that's politically popular because of the diverse constituent base it serves"? Diverse consituency, to me, implies widespread interest - as opposed to focused special interests.

The use of ethanol in place of petro or vegetable oils in place of diesel is both new and old. Rudolph Diesel created the diesel engine to run on fuels produced by the farmers who would use the engine. Henry Ford intended for people to distill their own ethanol for their cars. The basic idea is as old as the technology in the vehicles. What is new is this idea that the process has to be efficent and scale to millions of vehicles and billions of gallons of fuel. To me, that just strikes of process refinement issues - i.e., solvable problems.

BTW, #1 Diesel is now mandated across the US. It's not actually available at every pump, despite the mandate. But it's amazing the results. My VW TDi, running #1 diesel gets 10% to 20% better fuel economy (I'm not experiencing around 40mpg in mixed use), better cold starting, and less obnoxious exhaust. The next big step in Diesel will be further lowering the amount of sulfur in the fuel and using particulate traps on the exhaust. This has been the norm in Europe for about a decade. Diesels there have lower NOx emmisions that even hybrid petro cars.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-02-16 18:28:21.459333+00 by: Dan Lyke

Ethanol seems to be an excuse to continue the welfare for farmers and to funnel taxpayer dollars to ADM, while causing short-term problems: mandated use of ethanol as an oxygenate in gasoline is causing higher emissions, costs, and possibly even environmental damage on a macro scale than some of the other options, large areas of pesticide treated farmlands aren't always a good idea, and corn is a crop that really needs rotation.

I really should be working, so I'll stash these off for further reading later:

But I'm also reasonably convinced that with 25 year patents we also don't need government funding of fusion research.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-02-24 16:55:35.762331+00 by: baylink

4 words: direct ethanol fuel cell

#Comment Re: made: 2006-02-24 21:43:07.017141+00 by: baylink

> I refer to the myth of the rule of law because, to the extent this phrase suggests a society in which all are governed by neutral rules that are objectively applied by judges, there is no such thing

The entire piece is a strawman: that isn't what (I understand) people to mean when they use the phrase "rule of law" -- it commonly goes to "no man is above the law; the law (whatever it is) applies as written to everyone".

Sure the creation of law is political; we got that.

This guy has a Ph.D., and he's pulling fallacies like this?