Friday, November 23, 2012

Blowin' In The Wind

       The federal government recently granted a lease to NRG Energy Inc. to build a wind farm off the coast of Delaware. As a result, it soon will be generating lots of clean, cheap electricity? And producing lots of 'good, well paying, green jobs?' Well, maybe...or maybe not.
      Apparently, no one is willing to put up the money to build those things unless the government, i.e. YOU, guarantees the loans and grants tax credits so they can be guaranteed a profit. 
      Nice work if you can get it. But why does anyone need a guarantee? Henry Ford never needed one and he did alright. So did Thomas Edison, John D. Rockefeller, and many, many others. Renewable, cheap, clean....sounds like a winner.
       Well, wind is definitely renewable but maybe not so 'cheap.' It's expensive to build those towers in the middle of the ocean. And building on land, while also not so cheap, may not really be all that 'clean and green' either. Turbines vibrate. People who live close to one complain about the noise and 'wind turbine syndrome' - sleep deprivation, anxiety, dizziness...
      And those whirling blades also kill an awful lot of birds (est, 500,000/year and up). What did you think all that fluffy stuff around the base of  the poles was? (Although, as we say in Brooklyn, "Dere's plenty more where dos' come from.")
      And finally, remember, the wind doesn't always accommodate us by blowing whenever we need electricity. Wind turbines, which on average, operate at 30% of maximum capacity, still need backup for when there's no wind. Building a wind farm? Don't forget to throw in a couple of gas turbines too.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Sandy's Law

      'Hate crime laws' add an extra layer of punishment for crimes committed against individuals solely because they are members of various religious, ethnic, or racial groups, etc. Maybe it's time to try something similar for crimes committed during a national disaster. Maybe there are some things that even the most humane societies don't have to put up with.
     How about tacking another 5 or 10 years onto the sentence of anyone convicted of committing a crime in any place declared to be a disaster area. Think that this is too harsh a penalty, especially for crimes that are merely crimes against 'property?'  
      If you think that, take another look at those pictures of people refusing to leave the wreckage of their homes after Sandy passed thru, living without electricity, heat, or hot water, because they wanted to protect from looters whatever was left. Take a good look and see if you still feel the same.
      Or talk to the business owner who's just lost his or her life's savings and maybe a business that took a lifetime to build. Is there any punishment too great for preying on people in a situation like that? Not everything in life is 'covered by insurance.'
      Think the problem is just poor mothers stealing food for their kids? Think again. Very few of the stores vandalized during hurricane Sandy were grocery stores. Much more likely to have been sporting goods, jewelry, or appliance stores. What was that recipe for 'Sneaker Fricassee' or 'Toasted Flat Screen TV a l'Orange?'
       A disaster 'hate' law? Maybe an idea whose time has come. The price of living in a civilized society is, or at least ought to be, living like a civilized human being.