Interesting Items 06/26

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

In this issue –

1.  Russia
2.  Hunter
3.  Toyota
4.  Folding
5.  Penetration
6.  Pipe Bomb

1.  Russia.  One of the larger stories of the week was a possible coup / insurrection in Russia, where the Wagner Group of mercenaries may have made a move toward removing Putin from office.  By week’s end, it appeared the move against Putin had failed (maybe).  But with so many things associated with Russia, most of the real action is completely out of sight, buried.  A few observations are in order:

  • The Wagner Group was reportedly the most effective fighting unit on Russia’s side in the Ukraine war.  Their leader has been publicly critical of munitions shortages and logistics issues.  A Ukrainian strategy to target Wagner so they would both abandon the battlefield and move against Russian leadership has been speculated for a number of months.
  • Neither Putin nor Wagner Group Prigozhin have been seen since the festivities began Thursday, though Prigozhin did release a statement this morning.
  • During the early stages of this event, Prigozhin demonstrated some decent persuasion chops, which makes him a threat.
  • It is relatively easy to put down an armed insurrection, especially in a criminal enterprise like Russia.  All you have to do is target the families of all his men.  And the only thing you need to do to target them is to simply release a list of names.  Note that democrats and their enforcers are using the same tactic against their political opponents on this side of the Atlantic. 
  • The final, and most important fallout from this event is a reminder what it takes for a coup / insurrection.  Despite what we have heard from democrats and their mouthpieces in the media over the last three years, an insurrection doesn’t involve grandmothers walking around taking selfies.  Rather, it involves men in uniform, tanks, automatic weapons, and shootdowns of multiple aircraft / helos.  Got it?  Good.

I don’t believe that whatever is going on in Russia is finished.  I believe there are more than a few dead men walking.  Given Putin’s willingness to off his critics and opponents, it is only a matter of time before either he or Prigozhin assumes room temperature.  Stay tuned.

2.  Hunter.  The ongoing investigation into Hunter Biden resulted in a plea bargain, guilty plea to two federal tax violations and one violation for lying on a BATFE form (firearms violation).  Normal response to these sorts of violations is jail time (remember how the feds finally got Al Capone for tax violations).  Biden is not expected to spend any time in jail.  The investigation and plea bargain did not consider anything on the laptop, the one that the FBI quickly verified as real, the one that 51 intel community people lied about as Russian disinformation, and the one that the FBI massaged social media into censoring during the weeks before the 2020 election.  Neither did the investigation consider any of the millions of dollars coming into Biden World as bribery.  Nothing to see here.  Move along.  Move along.  With a plea bargain like this, perhaps it is time for congress to pass legislation reducing criminal penalties for tax evasion and lying to the BATFE to precisely what Hunter Biden is expected to agree to.  After all, equal treatment under the law is supposed to be a positive lifestyle choice.  Other fallout from this is the extended investigation ran out the clock on the violations, moving it beyond the statute of limitations.  Happily, there is not a statute of limitations on conspiracy or RICO committed by those who participated in the political coverup.  Merrick Garland comes out as a liar, having lied to congress about the investigation, opening him and his deputy Lisa Monaco up for impeachment, which may be coming.  Finally, this plea agreement and clear coverup by federal law enforcement and Do(In)J, the issue of a two-tiered justice system at the federal level is now front and center for the 2024 campaign.  We will see if the Stupid Party is smart enough to use it properly.

3.  Toyota.  I am a convert over the last decade to Toyota vehicles.  They hold up pretty well, are moderately over engineered, go for a long, long time, and most importantly (to me) have great leg room in the back seat of their large trucks.  Toyota has corporately been skeptical of a complete bit flip move from ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) vehicles to EVs (Electric Vehicles), though they have been moving toward real hybrids (smallish ICE coupled with a smallish battery) in their vans.  A couple weeks ago, Toyota announced a new solid state battery design, with up to 1,000 km of range and an 0+10 charge time.  Both would be 4x improvements over what is out there today.  They are building several new battery factories, with a research facility in Michigan.  We hope they are successful.  Kartik Gada has been a real proponent of technological disruption of EVs and their batteries, documenting a near exponential improvement in capability with a similar decrease in cost over time.  Personally, they aren’t there yet, but they are getting closer.  Three main problems with EVs continue to be a concern, none of which will be solved by Toyota’s new battery.  First, we have the overall inability of the current grid to handle the new load.  And that grid will get even less capable the more wind and solar are shoved onto it.  Second, we have the problem of energy release.  Note that the only difference between a bomb and a battery or fuel tank is the rate energy is released from it.  Finally, we have the overall safety factor.  If we rely on electricity for everything, when that grid goes down for whatever reason, we are toast.  OTOH, if we rely on the current mix of electricity, natural gas, and vehicle fuels, each a third of our daily energy needs, when one of those goes down, we are still in business.  We can still stay warm, cook, and travel.  The following video is part of Gada’s Data University series.  The first 79 seconds introduced the series.  The rest of it discusses battery tech improvements over time.

4.  Folding.  The media shiny object last week was a missing commercial deep diving submarine carrying five people on an inspection tour of the wreck of the Titanic.  The surface lost contact with the submarine about 105 minutes after launch.  At that point, a search and rescue operation was launched, with the US Coast Guard and Navy taking the lead.  Other nations also participated.  The news was dragged out for four solid days until a report surfaced that the Navy picked up the sound of the submarine folding at around the 9,000’ depth near the ocean bottom.  Remote vehicle cameras discovered a debris field at the location the sub should have been at that point in the dive.  There was some grumbling out of the political right that the story was carried front and center so as to deflect attention from the rapidly moving Biden Crime Family story during the week.  As it turned out, the Navy detected sounds that could have been the implosion of the sub at the time it lost contact.  They quickly contacted the company, who continued the rescue / recovery effort.  Note that in Search and Rescue (SAR), rescue happens when the target is alive.  Recovery happens when they aren’t.  This fed into right wing suspicions the media was doing what the media does, reporting anything other than democrat malfeasance.  The passengers included the CEO of the company, a billionaire and his adult son.  Tickets were a quarter million a pop.  Right wing reaction was moderately ugly, though not unexpected.  First was pure envy, that the rich guys got what they deserved.  This was shortly followed by demands that people who are rescued as part of a SAR operation have to pay for their rescue.  While this does happen at some places (climber rescues off Denali, for instance, and ambulance / air ambulance rides), generally people are not forced to pay for rescue.  In fact, it is the only reason rescue services (Coast Guard, for instance) exist.  Every time they participate in a challenging rescue, they get a little better at what they do, expanding their capabilities.  I suppose we could cover expenses with some combination of insurance policy / bonds, but that change ought to be made after a full public discussion, rather than knee jerk envy.  Note that this logic would extend to all first responders, perhaps even including the military, which does SAR from time to time.  As of this writing, it appears that the pressure hull which was built of composites, folded (collapsed inward / imploded).  There are storied floating around about the composite hull making cracking noises during test dives off the Bahamas.  While true, every single submarine movie out there has the hull creaking and groaning while the sub dives to depth.  That metal, which is usually more ductile than composites, would survive better is no surprise, though we won’t know what happened and why until the debris is recovered.  Final story was a pot shot at the CEO (who died) not wanting to hire 50+ white guys for his company, as they weren’t that inspirational.  This sort of thing can come from a couple places.  First, and worst, it can be simple age discrimination, which in this case turned out to be deadly.  OTOH, it could be that the experienced submariners who interviewed and took a look at the sub didn’t want to die.  Either explanation works, though I don’t know which one is real. 

5.  Penetration.  A couple weeks ago, WUWT published a post about renewable penetration into an electric grid entitled Limits to Wind and Solar on the Grid:  A Discussion.  This falls out of a LinkedIN discussion about the penetration of wind and solar into an electric grid, its impact on grid reliability, and the expense of renewables.  The discussion starts with early adopters of intermittent energy (wind and solar) starting to saturate the ability of the grid to remain stable and operating at 24% of total energy produced.  Curtailed production is production from wind and solar not allowed on the grid in Texas over the last 12 months – 10 – 30% of the generation.  In California, over the last eight years, curtailment has grown from 0.75 – 4.5%.  Cali imports a full third of its electrical needs.  This means the cost of additional solar and wind will be more expensive as they won’t be in production.  This will in turn raise costs on users more than it has already.  Solar and wind are notorious for failing to generate electricity when it is most needed.  For example, EVs charge at night, when solar is nonexistent.  Wind and solar are only profitable in a low penetration context.  As the argument ensued, the writer made the point that the only way intermittent power can be solved is by affordable (and massive) energy storage.  This doesn’t exist yet.  They also have huge material and energy requirements, making them invasive to the environment (think mining and waste generation).  Recycling is not required in most places and the toxic materials end up in landfills.  Today, wind and solar require 100% fossil, hydro, or nuclear backup.  It would be much less expensive to simply build the backup as primary generation.  Finally, new wind and solar require new transmission lines.  These take 10 – 15 years to deploy as they require the same environmental review as a reactor would.  The final comment summed things up nicely.  Solar and wind are grid reliability cancers.  Big hydro is unreliable due to bad water years.  Geothermal is unproven at US scales, though it does work nicely in smaller volcanic provinces (think Iceland).  Nuclear is currently capacity limited, and restricted due to NRC licensing foot dragging.  The writer ends up arriving at natural gas generation as the best, most efficient, and cleanest solution to generation.

6.  Pipe Bomb.  I mentioned this a week or two ago, but FBI malfeasance in the investigation of the pipe bombs left in in front of the RNC and DNC headquarters Jan 6 blew up nicely last week in two extended stories – Revolver and American Greatness.  When you are operating a fundamentally corrupt agency, you need fundamentally corrupt people to do your bidding.  One of these is former FBI official Steven D’Antuono, who was in charge of the Whitmer kidnap entrapment operation, then rewarded by being appointed as Deputy Director of the FBI DC field office.  He had his fingerprints on the Mar a Lago raid.  And he also had his fingerprints on the FBI investigation into the pipe bombs left on Jan 6.  He voluntarily testified before the House Judiciary Committee and didn’t have a pleasant time.  This is important because he knows where at least some of the FBI bodies are buried.  He testified that as constructed, neither pipe bomb was capable of functioning, as they were left in place for 17 hours with a one-hour mechanical timer attached.  D’Antuono did a lot of crawfishing during his testimony.  He won’t be the last one. 

More later –

  • AG

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.