Interesting Items 09/12

Howdy All, a few Interesting Items for your information.  Enjoy –

In this issue –

1.  Content
2.  Britain
3.  Algae
4.  Thermostats
5.  Gesticulating
6.  Librarians
7.  Green

1.  Content.  Discovery is proceeding in a federal lawsuit by MO and LA alleging the Biden administration and Big Tech have colluded to censor and suppress what they are calling “misinformation.”  The lawsuit was filed in May to expose the collusion to censor freedom of speech in a variety of topics, most notably COVID response.  The court decided in July that communications between the administration and Big Tech needed to be turned over.  On the Biden side, over 45 officials at DHS, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), CDC, Fauci’s NIAID and the Office of the Surgeon General were immediately involved.  On Big Tech’s side, Meta (Fakebook’s parent company) admits that 32 feds talked with the company about content moderation on its platforms.  These feds worked for the FDA, WH, and US Election Assistance Commission.  YouTube disclosed that WH and Census Bureau employees spoke to the company.  Most of these were not disclosed by the Biden administration to the Plaintiffs or the court.  It looks like Big Tech is working hand and glove with the regime, essentially becoming a censorship tool for the administration.  In turn, this collusion also makes it much easier to regulate Big Tech, as they are not doing things as private entities.  Rather, they are an integrated censorship arm of the administration itself.  And they dare call conservatives fascists. 

2.  Britain.  Great Britain had itself quite a week, with a new Prime Minister, the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, and ascension of her son Charles III.  Elizabeth served well for 70 solid years, changing her job from ruler to the heart and soul of Great Britain.  She will be a tough act to follow.  She worked right up until the end, meeting with the new Prime Minister two days before her passing.  The new Prime Minister, Liz Truss looks to be taking the impending energy shortage seriously, repealing the national ban on fracking shale deposits for natural gas.  This a positive first step from her predecessor, Boris Johnson.  Unhappily, she demonstrated learning a century of British socialism by also announcing caps on energy prices as long as the shortage continues, which in turn will create even more shortages.  Looks like a delay in mandated closures of existing coal-fired generation is being considered along with fast tracking new reactors.  Greens are taking this seriously and are not unexpectedly very unhappy about it.  Good start by a new PM in a very sad week in Great Britain.

3.  Algae.  It’s always nice when the liberals get what they have voted for and get it good and hard.  Last week’s story from San Francisco was about a deadly algae bloom in San Francisco Bay that killed fish throughout the bay.  Note that I didn’t think there were any fish left in SF Bay simply due to the millions upon millions of people who live around it.  The dead fish littered the shores of the bay as they decomposed, which is generally a pretty fragrant affair.  The bloom was blamed on urine and feces runoff into the bay.  Solution?  A $14 billion expansion of the existing water treatment infrastructure.  Note that runoff is generally not treated unless it goes directly into the sewers.  What is running off are the gifts of the homeless population turning the streets and sidewalks of the city into open air toilets, a third world cesspool.  Two problems are in play here, though unsaid in the piece linked above.  First is the proliferation of homeless encampments on the streets and sidewalks.  Second is the inability of San Francisco water and sewage utilities to upgrade their facilities to handle the growth of the city over the last half century.  Sooner or later, you need the infrastructure to support the number of people.  Otherwise, things get very, very expensive right before they break down entirely.

4.  Thermostats.  Today’s lesson in trust comes from Colorado, courtesy of Xcel Energy, the regional electric utility.  Xcel has been pushing smart thermostats connected to their system to their customers.  Agree to install one, and you get an immediate $100 rebate with an additional $25/year rebate for as long as the thermostat is installed.  Smart thermostats, like smart meters, are sold as efficiency upgrades that will make everyone’s lives easier, so they are popular.  What they don’t tell you is that smart devices hooked into your utilities, also allow the utilities control what is going on in your homes.  A good 22,000 Colorado customers found that out the hard way last week, when Xcel locked thermostats in those homes to control air conditioning on a very hot day.  Hot day in a region with air conditioning means peak usage during the hot parts of the day.  Xcel, which has been suckling off the renewable energy teat hasn’t been developing their reserves like they should have been and were facing an electric usage spike.  Solution?  Limit customer ability to cool their homes.  I am reminded of the scene from Animal House (note:  NSFW): 

This wasn’t the only thermostat event of last week.  Cali energy officials also called for customers to turn their thermostats up during a very hot day.  Those customers gladly complied with the request.  Scott Adams happily announced his compliance and his support of keeping the grid operational during a time of stress.  The problem doing this is that there is never any pushback by customers when they are asked to limit energy use.  Nobody asks either the utility or the state to take steps to make sure these annual requests are few and far between or even go away altogether.  None of this will end until the customer base tells both the utilities and their masters in the political and regulatory world to pound sand until they fix their little problem. 

5.  Gesticulating.  Latest outrageous sentence on a Jan 6 protester was inflicted on a guy from PA who yelled at Capital Police.  After some time in the DC Gulag, he was charged with trespassing, eventually pleading guilty to a felony count of obstruction of an official proceeding.  His criminal activity was wandering in the hallway of the Old Senate Chamber.  He managed to get pepper sprayed twice for yelling and arm waving at Capitol cops in the building.  He was not part of the initial break in.  The funny part is that the FBI did not identify him as part of the crowd to be arrested until the guy’s girlfriend turned him in after he called her a moron in a text.  Nice relationship, that.  Sentence for this little soiree?  Nine months in prison followed by two years of supervised release.  Federal prosecutors and the federal judges who are allowing them to get away with this sort of dual tracked justice system are playing a dangerous game, as they are systematically undermining respect to both the law and the legal system, with different treatment based under the law based entirely on where one sits on the ideological spectrum.  Scott Adams noted that should Biden be elected, Republicans would be hunted.  Appears he was spot on. 

6.  Librarians.  There was an old warning about the Soviet Union that held that while you might not be interested in the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union was interested in you.  And when that happened, too bad for you.  Worse, there wasn’t anything you could do about it.  Generally, the warning was applicable to people inside the USSR who simply didn’t want to play the game.  Our version of this today is found with the currently fashionable drag / trans craze. Joy Pullmann in the Federalist documented the hard work and absolute glee by librarians trying to host drag performances in their libraries and marketing attempts aimed at children particularly in Republican leaning suburbs.  Talk about the enemy within the gates. E-mails from librarians who brought drag shows to St Louis suburbs over the summer document how librarians (all public employees doing this on the public dime) pushed at least three of these events in June as a way to promote “Pride Month.”  The profession is overwhelmingly white (87%) and female (81%), the most significant democrat voting bloc, and the most likely to push identity politics.  The American Library Association has been complicit with encouraging librarians to push sexual information, sneaking LGBBTQWTF materials in, generally during drag Storytime events.  We had a few of these here in Alaska.  The St Louis Public Library booked two drag events, one for children and one for adults.  Cost for the two performances was $300.  The librarians were quite excited about the events and coordinated their response to public objections.  LGBTQWTF clubs in local public schools help recruit volunteers and audience members for these sorts of public events, with a special education teacher at Collinsville High School leading the response to parents.  Public complaints were ignored by the libraries and their trustees.  The trustees are elected officials, half of them will be up for election next year. 

7.  Green.  Joel Pollak writing in Breitbart a week and a half ago described the current democrat push as Green-by-Force.  Democrats like power.  And they really like using that power.  They can and will be expected to support anything that will increase that power, which is the actual underlying rationale behind O’BamaCare and the Green New Deal.  Republicans generally like to make their own decisions about what they want to do and what they don’t want to do.  For at least half a century, those personal choices have driven this nation generally to a cleaner, more sustainable environment.  But this is not fast enough for the True Believers, who want that change to be made instantly, if not sooner.  Latest example Pollok discusses is recent Cali legislation that makes it illegal to purchase gasoline (and diesel) powered vehicles in Cali by 2035.  Solution is to force the general public into electric vehicles (EVs) whether they want to go or not.  No matter that electric generation is unable to keep up with current demands (thermostat story earlier), and no plans are being made to add sufficient new generation to the Cali grid over the course of the next 13 years to charge all the new EVs.  The conclusion appears to be that they can generate everything they need via solar, wind, unicorn flatulence, pixie dust and good intentions.  Color me skeptical.  Cali democrats, led by the Silicon Valley elites and kept in power by their electoral shock troops in the unions, are not content to allow their neighbors to make their own choices, mostly due to their hubris that because of their wealth and economic station, they are far more capable of making our decisions for us than we are.  This will eventually trigger a reaction in the opposite direction.  What a waste this all is, as EVs are popular, and growing in both popularity and capability.  If Cali democrats and their mini-me’s at the federal level would simply step aside and allow the marketplace to operate without “helping” it along, we would arrive at a solution and more importantly a path that is far less disruptive to far fewer people for a far lower cost.  Pollock attempts to make the case that efficiency as among the solutions that should be prioritized.  Sadly, this is as misguided as the internal combustion engine ban.  It has already been tried and failed miserably.  Half a century ago under Jimmy Carter the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standards were introduced (1978).  These standards put an average miles per gallon limit on what vehicle manufacturers could build their products to.  The fleet, whatever that was, had to deliver a certain average miles per gallon.  Some were higher.  Some were lower.  Some sold well.  Some didn’t.  The result of CAFÉ was that vehicles got lighter and collisions more deadly, part of what made pickups and SUVs more popular today.  These standards were also part of jacking average new vehicle costs from a few thousand dollars then to $46,000 today.  When everyone hangs on to their vehicles for a decade or longer entirely due to price, you aren’t going to get incremental improvement in efficiency nearly as fast.  You can probably make a decent point that all the low hanging fruit in environmental improvement have been solved over the last half century, and now we are in the realm of small, incremental improvements, which will go pretty fast, as long as consumers are allowed to do this at a time and place of their own choosing.  At the beginning of this, I noted that Green New Deal legislation like O’BamaCare was simply a power grab.  O’BamaCare was enabled the use of Medicare and Medicaid by hospitals and doctors that take patients covered by those programs to inflict and enforce randomly created COVID edicts from the CDC over the last two years.  Imagine the damage the EPA can do with their newly granted Green New Deal powers.     

More later –

– AG

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