Wally Wonders Why No editor, no publisher, you get what you get

March 8, 2012

Yes, the Green Stuff

Branco CartoonIf you don’t  follow Political Cartoonist A.F.Branco’s work on Facebook then you are missing out on some great art and satire.  His cartoons, like the one on the right from a few days ago, always seem to have the right balance between ironic bite and humor.    But if you want a political cartoon to be funny it takes more than a talented cartoonist, the reader has to also know what the heck the picture is all about.  That was the problem I had when I saw a  solar powered 747 trying to crash land in algae.  I didn’t really think it was that funny because I hadn’t heard anything about the President Obama/Newt Gingrich algae thing.

So I Googled “algae” so I could try and reclaim some funny and that’s where I got the scoop on the whole Newt trying to make his own funny out of what President Obama had said.

The President said we have to be practical. Drilling won’t solve it. And then he offered his practical solution. Anybody here remember what it was?  Algae. Algae. I mean I think this summer as gas prices keep going up, one of our campaign techniques should be to go to gas stations with jar of algae and say to people would you rather have the Gingrich solution of drilling and having more oil or would you like to try to put this in your gas tank. I’m amazed that SNL hasn’t taken that speech and turned that into a skit.

Gingrich Ruthlessly Mocks Obama’s “Algae” Energy Policy

Ok, so I had to admit that what Newt said sounded funny and it succeeded in making the solar airplane funny and so I was hoping for a little more funny when I sought out what it was that President Obama actually said it.

We’re making new investments in the development of gasoline and diesel and jet fuel that’s actually made from a plant-like substance — algae.  You’ve got a bunch of algae out here, right? (Laughter.)  If we can figure out how to make energy out of that, we’ll be doing all right.

Ok, well I wasn’t there, but it didn’t really sound that funny.  In fact it sounded a little condescending when he tried to explain that algae is a “plant-like substance.”   And it even made him sound a little dim since algae is not a “plant-like substance,” it actually is a plant.  And I didn’t really think it was funny that he thinks “we’ll be doing all right” if we can figure out how to make energy from algae.  What arrogance from a man to treat American’s like we all all some sort of hicks.  And when I read that the Department of Energy had made $14 million of taxpayer dollars available to support research and development of biofuels produced from algae…well I didn’t find that funny either.

I don’t really find much humor at all in government spending our money to research a process that  privately held businesses have already been investing in for years.  I brought algae here previously in a post titled Energy where I wrote how privateers from the dreaded big oil industry had aligned with visionary capitalists like Bill Gates to explore the potential of algae as a renewable fuel resource.

Bill Gates’ investment firm is funding Sapphire Energy, a company that intends to make auto fuel from algae. Sapphire Energy said Wednesday that a series B round will bring the total amount it has raised to more than $100 million.

The Energy post was from a couple of years ago and oddly enough, when I checked back now I found that Sapphire Energy is still alive, well and progressing towards viable commercial products as opposed to the fate of propped up heavily government funded companies like Solyndra.

As I have said many times, capitalism is the answer to our energy needs.

According to Environmental News Network Algae could yield more than 2000 gallons of fuel per acre per year as opposed to corn which they estimate at only 250 gallons per acre per year.  Algae also can be grown using land and water that isn’t suitable for other uses, so good land is still available for food crops.   Petrosun with another ex-big oil CEO, is a leader in algae based biodiesel and they describe the benefits in a little more detail.

Extensive research was conducted to determine the utilization of microalgae as an energy source, with applications being developed for biodiesel, ethanol, and bioplastics. Independent studies have demonstrated that algae is capable of producing in excess of 30 times more oil per acre than corn and soybean crops. Biodiesel produced from algae contains no sulfur, is non-toxic and highly biodegradable.
One of the biggest advantages of biodiesel compared to many other alternative transportation fuels is that it can be used in existing diesel engines, which relieves manufacturers of having to make costly engine modifications. Biodiesel can also be mixed, at any ratio, with conventional petroleum diesel. As a result, the alternative fuel can be used in the current distribution infrastructure, replacing petroleum diesel either wholly, or as a diesel fuel blend with minimal integration costs.

So really how funny is a commercially viable sustainable energy source that pulls CO2 back out of the atmosphere and can be used in existing vehicles and distributed in existing infrastructure?  Not really the rolling on floor laughing kind of funny is it?   It’s more like the, oh it kind of makes me look stupid for laughing funny.    I wonder if either Mr. Gingrich or Mr. Obama have gotten that yet?

We’re coming down to the end of of the road in the selection process for a conservative presidential candidate and I keep hearing how Newt Gingrich is such a brain,  but in this case he’s looking a little foolish next to the already foolish looking President Obama.  And yes it hurt to say that, but not as much as you might think because I am cheering for Mitt Romney.

March 13, 2011

Town Hall Meeting with 42nd District Legislators

IMAG0116I along with few hundred others attended a Town Hall meeting in Lynden yesterday afternoon.  The meet was put on by Vince Buys, Doug Ericksen, and Jason Overstreet, our freshly elected representation for the northern half of Whatcom County. 

After a brief introduction by our well known Sen. Ericksen, Rep. Buys and Rep. Overstreet spent a little time familiarizing us with how the 42nd District Legislators are approaching things down in Olympia.  Their goals, and I think they are good ones, are to balance our states budget without raising taxes, to strengthen the economy and to allow businesses to create more jobs.  They described the principles they would employ as they approached our already very out of whack state budget.

  • No new taxes
  • No fund transfers
  • No Federal Bailouts
  • No tricks, gimmicks or shell game tricks

They also referenced some thoughts that Microsoft’s Bill Gates had on state budgeting.  He said that state budgets have received a puzzling lack of scrutiny and have been "riddled with gimmicks"  and “when you get down to it, the guys at Enron never would have done this.”

The next two hours were spent in Q&A.  The lines of questioners were long within seconds and even though they proceeded quickly, their sheer volume had the program running over by 30 minutes.    Questions, and comments, ran the gamut, but most seemed to be centered on protecting funding for educators of one variety or another.  Their were also a couple of comments regarding Pregnancy Center regulation and the proposed coal export terminal being planned for Cherry Point.  The other thing that was brought up several times was the notion that our legislators were somehow union busters.  One questioner asked if they were operating from the same playbook as Wisconsin, to which Doug Ericksen replied, we live in Washington, I don’t even know what Wisconsin’s playbook is.  On that subject, I find it interesting that so many unions, union members and media refer to the new Wisconsin legislation as a stripping away of collective bargaining rights, when once the facts are read, we find that the employees of Wisconsin will have more collective bargaining rights than Federal employees have had since President Carter signed into law the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978

With the 42nd District covering northern Bellingham and much of rural Whatcom County, the wide variety of views did make for a lively meeting.  Perhaps the most entertaining comment I heard came out in the hallway near the end, when a young man collecting business cards asked one of the legislators assistants if Jason Overstreet was a liberal.  I guess he missed the question where stepped center stage and made it extremely clear that he was unequivocally pro-life and that he would never measure the life in economic terms. 

Overall the Town Hall was great event and I look forward to the next.

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