Saturday, November 26, 2011

News Roundup

  • From the "Brilliant!" Department - A ballot initiative in California could cause the shuttering of two nuclear power stations.  Analysts estimate that the stations provide 16% of the large states electricity, and their shutdown would probably cause rolling blackouts and higher energy costs, which would do a lot to encourage businesses to go somewhere else to employ taxpayers.  The proponents of the initiative point to an existing law that requires nuclear power stations to shut down if there is no permanent centralized place to store nuclear waste, such as the now defunct Yucca Mountain project. In replying to the analysis of the impact on California consumers and the states economy, supporters of the ballot initiative stated "Nuhuh!!!" and "Lalalalalala I can't hear you!".  As a side issue, I would like to express my thanks to those who influenced me earlier in life and kept me from returning to California.  It's very much appreciated.
  • From the "Meat Popsicle" Department - A British woman has begun a solo ski trip across Antarctica because.... well, honestly, I can't understand why.  Skiing solo across the South Pole seems to be either slow suicide or a pointless attempt to create a place in history for someone.  Maybe it's both.  Trips across the poles early in the last century could at least be done in the name of discovery and exploration. With the advent of reliable air transport and satellites, you don't have to get there on foot in order to learn and explore.  But I wish the intrepid lady luck and good health as she tries to accomplish something no-one has ever done.  Hopefully she's successful, or at least is still alive when she's found.
  • From the "Heavy Metal" Department - Congress is considering new rules that would allow cargo trucks to carry 97,000 pounds of freight, up from current limits of 80,000.  Proponents of the new rules claim that it will mean fewer trucks on the road to carry the same amount of cargo, which will increase safety and decrease pollution and fuel use.  Opponents suggest that larger loads will increase wear and tear on roads that weren't designed for such heavy vehicles and that heavier trucks will cause more harm in accidents.  I must point out that I work for a large corporation that has a huge fleet of cargo trucks, so take my opinion for what it's worth, and my opinions in no way reflect the position of my employer.  What I see happening here is that the new rules will be passed, but they won't save that much money.  Large unionized trucking companies aren't going to see a lot of cooperation from labor in downsizing truck fleets and their attendant driver and mechanic workforces.   Additionally, unless entire new fleets of semi trucks are purchased to haul the new heavier trailers, drive trains that weren't designed to pull 90,000 pounds of cargo are going to need more fuel to do it, will require more maintenance, and will have a much shorter lifespan.  Finally, with states being able to opt out of the new rules, it will be hard for network planners to find cost effective routes for these large loads if a large number of states don't allow them to use their highways.  Either way, unless most states and labor agrees to the changes that these new large trucks bring to trucking, this isn't going to change the business much at all.
  • From the "Aw Crap!" Department - Pakistan has closed supply routes to NATO forces in Afghanistan and is reportedly asking the United States to vacate a base in Pakistan that has been used for drone attacks against Taliban and other insurgent groups after a Pakistani border post was attacked by NATO aircraft.  Pakistan is reporting that upwards of 23 soldiers were killed, with several wounded.  Now is not a good time for the supply of fuel, ammunition, and food to take a hit.  Also, giving our Pakistani 'allies' another excuse to up the price of their continued cooperation isn't going to be helpful in finding a way to continue the fight without increasing costs.  Hopefully an investigation into what happened will be quick, the payoff will be swift and generous to get Pakistan to re-open the supply routes, and our forces in Afghanistan won't suffer because their supplies will be lean for a while.


WS4E said...

>Pakistan has closed supply routes to NATO forces in Afghanistan

Funny. This almost sounds exactly like what a certain republican presidential candidate says happens that no one seems to take seriously and the war mongering wing of the party keeps calling him crazy for.

Something about "blow-back" I think is what he calls it....and the DOD, and CIA, and the 9/11 commission....but the chest thumping candidates don't even want to admit its real.

Rauðbjorn said...

Wait, isn't Pakistan the place that claims they've no terrorists, but we keep finding evidence of them? Wasn't OBL hiding out there? I understand the need for logistical support, but everything I've heard indicates that Pakistan is part of the problem,not the solution.

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