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Category: Rant
Thursday, October 13th, 2005 @ 07:39 pm
Posted By Brent

The bulk of this post is about hydrogen, but I figured I'd toss hybrids in here too, just 'cause I'm a dick. I've been reading and hearing a bunch about alternative fuels and hybrid technology lately, but it would seem that no one has taken the time to do a smidge of research and try to digest all of this crap. No one seems to look past the immediate benefit of these technologies to see if the ends outweigh the means, so I thought I would throw together what little I knew about it so people can have some insight into why this shit will never work. Ever.

Ok, well maybe not ever, but definitely not with our current technology and/or infrastructure. Let me take a whack at Hybrids first:

Hybrid. The name just sounds cool. In a nutshell a Hybrid is a car that runs on gas in conjuction with an electric engine that operates on stored energy that is usually lost during breaking. This saves you oodles at the pump, right? These cars usually go for two to five thousand dollars more than a comparable non-hybrid. Now let's do the math: Honda says that its Insight gets 66mpg while its Civic gets 40, so you get roughly 40 percent better gas mileage. The average American burns roughly 465 gallons of gas per year at, to err on the side of caution, roughly three dollars a gallon. That's $1,395 a year in gas, forty percent of which would be $558 per year saved. Given a margin of error for my number rounding, that would place you breaking even on your "gas saving investment" in anywhere from four to nine years. Hardly relief from the current gas prices.

This of course leaves the people who will take the wallet hit just to feel good about burning less gas, and who am I to go and be a dick by raining on their do-gooding parade? Oh yeah, I'm me: you fuckers are stifling the actual alternative power market by adopting dipshit scams that don't do jack to curb our reliance on foreign oil, in addition to stealing mindshare away from people and companies that have truly innovative solutions to these problems.

For my next trick I'll be discussing hydrogen as an alternative energy source and its bright future as the cornerstone for cleaner, better America:

Hydrogen is a fucking sham. First thing that people need to understand is that hydrogen isn't so much a energy source as it is a medium to transport energy. Think of it this way: hydrogen doesn't represent the powerplant supplying electricity to your homes, it's more analogous to the wires carrying that electricity from the powerplant to your home. Is it an alternative fuel? No, burning wood logs in a boiler in your car is an alternative fuel, hydrogen is just a way to move the fossil fuel combustion out of your car and into a hydrogen production plant. Why do I say that? Because the main problem with hydrogen is the inverse of the main benfit of fossil fuels: you can punch a hole in the ground and oil will start pouring out by the tanker load; you have to produce hydrogen.

There is no natural source of hydrogen in the amounts that would come anywhere near meeting the demand for energy. That leaves us with having to extract it from existing molocules that are found naturally occuring in bulk, namely water, and that's where we hit the grand paradox of hydrogen production. From the Wikipedia article on hydrogen:

Despite its ubiquity in the universe, hydrogen is surprisingly hard to produce in large quantities on the Earth. In the laboratory, the element is prepared by the reaction of acids on metals such as zinc. The electrolysis of water is a simple method of producing hydrogen, but is economically inefficient for mass production. Large-scale production is usually achieved by steam reforming natural gas.
So there you have it, you have three main methods.

The first is using a chemical that is more attractive to the oxygen in water than the hydrogen, thus wrenching away the oxygen leaving only pure, lovely, enviromentally friendly hydrogen. Now we just have to figure out what to do with the sludge that the oxygen attached to. And how are we going to transport massive amounts of the original substances and the two separate products? Hydrogen powered cars? You would need to create more hydrogen than you used making it thus, in a round about way, breaking a teeny little principle of physics called The Law of Conservation of Enery. Unless of course we power the entire process with fossil fuels, wouldn't that be convenient? Actually, that's exactly what we do.

The second method is electrolysis of water. Simply put this running a shitload of electricity through water in order to separate the bond between the oxygen and hydrogen atoms. Now where do you think we'd get that electricy from? More hydrogen? I think not my friend, that's where our good friend the fossil fuel enters back into the equation. We just can't seem to shake him.

The third is some crazy shit called "steam reforming of natural gas." Now I like to imagine that I'm a pretty bright guy, but I have no idea what that is so I defer to a quote about this process from someone who knows what the hell they're talking about (while he reiterates the point I've been making over and over):

At present, most of the world's hydrogen is produced from natural gas by a process called steam reforming. However, producing hydrogen from fossil fuels would rob the hydrogen economy of much of its raison d'ĂȘtre: Steam reforming does not reduce the use of fossil fuels but rather shifts them from end use to an earlier production step; and it still releases carbon to the environment in the form of CO2.

So there, I've blown my hydrogen vitriol load. In closing, I'd like to say that I don't disagree with hydrogen being a clean, renewable energy medium, we just need to find a better way to produce it, and we ain't there yet folks. Well, we're sorta not there yet. We do have nuclear energy we could use to produce the hydrogen, but mention building a nuclear powerplant and you're lucky if you don't get stoned to death.


Category: Rant
Thursday, September 15th, 2005 @ 10:37 am
Posted By Brent

For the past handful of years I've considered myself a pretty keen observer on the political front. I've been quick to debate others on their opinions, and I've been quick to defend my own. I've also looked for ways to view the weaker aspects of my beliefs in an effort to find an angle that makes these opinions harder to attack. This is what's known as "spinning" an issue, and it's something I've done consciously for quite some time.

When you muck yourself up in spin, you enter an unspoken pact with your opposition. Basically you silently agree to not call each other out on their spin, unless woefully egregious, and they agree the same. It's a sort of bullshit version of Mutual assured destruction. Without this protection the argument ends up being analogous to two people standing six feet apart firing machine guns full of blanks at each other (barring any Brandon Lee mishaps).

Fortunately for me, being affected so severely by the New Orleans flood, I am seeing past all the alternating blaming and back patting. I have no interest in finding a villain or a hero. I don't give a fuck whether it was the Republican President who was slow to act, or the Democratic Governor who dragged her feet. Whether the Bush Administration's appointed FEMA director was incompetent or if Mayor Nagin should have been better prepared. I don't care, I just want my goddamn city back.

Above and beyond all of this, there are two pieces of spin that I've been hearing over and over in the past two weeks and I'm just going to roll them out and point out what I see.

First and foremost there is nothing other than sensationalism linking climate change and Hurricane Katrina. Nothing. Category 4 and 5 hurricanes have been occurring on this planet before we ever even showed up on the scene, much less having been caused my some yuppie's H2 Hummer. I'd go even further and say I'm glad we have huge gas guzzling behemoths available to truck my ass out of there and supplies in. Without horribly fuel inefficient vehicles, this would have been even more catastrophic.

Now don't give me any shit about "unprecedented levels of activity" either. Are you trying to tell me that the last two years has had the most hurricane activity ever? Sure, there were quite a few, but when you live in this area your whole life and you see multiple hurricanes threatening your general area every year, you begin to view the events of the past couple years as unlucky, but in no way unprecedented or unbelievable.

Secondly, there are poor black people in New Orleans, a lot of poor black people. Jesse Jackson never gave a shit about them, Al Sharpton never gave a shit about them, and Howard Dean never gave a shit about them. They were there a week before the hurricane, they were there a year before the hurricane, they were there for every Democratic and Republican presidency since the Civil War. When Bill Clinton was president they didn't all live in mansions. Trust me, I've lived there all my life.

The law of economic relativity states that in order for you have people who are not poor, there has to be people who are poor. The majority of New Orleaneans are black, therefore a majority of New Orleans' poor people are black. Nobody's been "hiding" them there or are "sweeping them under the rug" there. They've been there, out in the open, poor as dirt for as long as I can remember. In fact, a healthy fraction of them wear their abject poverty like a badge and brag about the dilapidated parts of town they're from as if they were talking about West Hollywood or Brentwood Estates.

So there. If you've pushed one of these points, shut your goddamned mouth because you don't know what the fuck you're talking about. In closing I'd like reiterate my main points here:

  • Extreme weather has existed before global warming, people, and maybe even before oil.
  • Hurricanes, or the government's response thereof, can not go back in time and cause people to be poorer or blacker.


Category: Rant
Wednesday, May 25th, 2005 @ 04:57 pm
Posted By Brent

Dear Congress,

Please stop wasting your time on steriods. The last thing I want my government involved in is legislating sports. These are grown men who chase balls around for a living and I don't give a shit if they are injecting horse piss into their eyeballs in order to chase the ball around better. In fact, if you let this go unfettered, it might evolve into something like mutant football players with cybernetic legs, and that would be awesome.

If you're wondering what to do with all the spare time you will find once you've dropped this, here are a few helpful suggestions:

  • Stop spending all my goddamned money trying to pass stupid fucking laws.
  • Stop spending all my goddamned money trying to pass stupid fucking laws.
  • Stop spending all my goddamned money trying to pass stupid fucking laws.

Thank you for your time.


Category: Rant
Thursday, May 5th, 2005 @ 03:45 pm
Posted By Brent

I have a serious beef with sex offender laws these days. Actually, let me cut straight to the chase: I don't think there should be any sex offender laws. I'm not going to hold my breath until anyone agrees with me, so let me just explain myself.

I believe that if you've committed a crime, you should be held responsible. I believe that if a jury of your peers has deemed you unworthy or incapable of living in a free society, that you should be incarcerated in a government (state for federal depending) penitentiary. I believe that when the time comes that said jury or judge deems you capable or worthy of returning to a free society, that you should be granted your freedom as you have paid your debt to society.

What I staunchly disagree with is granting United States citizens gradations of freedom based on the crime they committed regardless of jail time or "rehabilitation" status. Why do we feel it is necessary to track child rapists after they've exited the penal system? If we have that much faith in their inability to live in a free society, why in the fuck did we let them out in the first place? Apparently everyone's in complete agreement that they should be supervised twenty-four hours a day, so what fucking genius decided they should be able to traipse around like anyone else, only with limited freedoms?

While on the subject, why is sexual predation such a "magic" crime? If I murder an infant and am sentenced to thirty years in jail for it, why I am just released once I've done my time (barring parole of course)? Yet, if instead of murdering that infant, I stuck a finger in it's hoo-ha, well then I'm put on a list of people that once they are released, they are never really given all of their freedom's back?

Now, don't mistake me for being lenient on sexual predators, far from it. Like I stated before, my argument isn't that they should just be released into society without any precautions, but that they should not be released at all if no one is convinced that they are not able to lead a non baby-raping lifestyle. If bank robbers are released from jail and everyone still thinks they are going to rob banks, do we still release them on the condition that they don't go near banks?


Category: Rant
Thursday, March 31st, 2005 @ 11:35 am
Posted By Brent

Once upon a time there were phones. These phones plugged into walls and enabled you to correspond with other phone owners. When someone wanted to contact another person with this contraption they dialed a number which in turn, through many technical hijinks, eventually sent a signal to the recipient's phone that caused a little hammer to strike a bell repeatedly, creating a pleasant "ringing" sound.

Well, progress waits for no man, so as soon as phone creators realized they could create this ringing electronically and without moving parts, thus cheaper, the bell and hammer was ditched in favor of a little speaker that created the desired sound. Now that we moved to a speaker, phone makers could experiment with all sorts of sounds, but the majority still opted for the ringing sound or variations of a repetitive electronic "bleat" that was still easily identified as a phone ringing. All was still good in the world.

Then cell phones came along. For a time, people were still locked to what their cell phone vendor wanted you to hear when someone phoned you, but again, progress waits for no man, and soon enough you could choose what you wanted to hear. The things you could choose from were aptly titled "ring tones," as there were tones that sounded like rings, but this too would soon pass.

Somewhere in the early part of the Twenty-First Century, a woman named Missy Elliot would write a song titled "Get Your Freak On," which, I can only assume, sounded just like a phone ringing to some people, because I began to hear it coming out of people's phones in place of the oh-so-familiar ringing sound. The majority of people seemed to still prefer the sound of a phone ringing, but again, this would not stand. As time rolled on more and more people jumped on the "songs instead of rings" bandwagon, the term "ring tone" came to mean nothing, and it has snowballed into our current situation:

There isn't one single actual fucking "ring" sound to choose from on my phone.

My previous phone had the usual plethora of annoying ass songs to choose from, and almost as a tip of the hat by the provider, had one single ring sound appropriately titled "Ring." Well, my company did something to our phone plan which necessitated us getting the newer version of the same phone we had (the Nokia 6010), which in turn had all these snazzy new features, minus the one freaking ring tone I used. Sure, I can pick from classics such as "Just Jazzy," "Tap Dance," "Bee Boogie" or any number scrotum tighteningly bad songs, but there's nary a ring in sight.

What's a boy to do? Well, one option is to go to the now pervasive ring tone purchasing sites on the Internet and simply buy a regular ring tone. What's that? They only sell ring tone versions of current Hip Hop songs and annoying catch phrases? You don't say! How can these sites, which have untold thousands of ring tones not have a single actual ring tone?

Any ideas?


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