Missing Link Daily

A digest of the best of the blogosphere published each weekday and compiled by Ken Parish, gilmae, Gummo Trotsky, Amanda Rose, Tim Sterne, Jen McCulloch and Stephen Hill

Politics

Australian

From Terry Sedgwick

Jason Soon points out how Craig Emerson has misrepresented Alan Moran’s position on an ALP policy that modifies a Coalition policy regulatory predatory pricing – Moran thinks they both stink.

Nicholas Pickard reports on 2020 blowback. The co-opted are getting restless.

Andrew Bartlett finds that there is no link between to permit system in Northern Territory Aboriginal communities and child abuse.

International

 

Ken Lovell wants to know – does Iran have a nuclear weapons program or not?

Kim marks an anniversary that’s a recurring embarrassment for the Bush Administration.

As an antidote to the depressing picture in Zimbabwe, read this great openDemocracy article on promising developments in Rwanda by Gerard DeGroot.

Jefferson Morley dredges up yet another JFK assassination conspiracy theory.

Ronda Jambe gives the thumbs down to Chris Masters’ Four Corners story on Harlem and Obamamania, while Todd Zywicki doesn’t think Obama should be blamed for having dodgy friends and pastors, and Jonathan Chait explains how Obama can capitalise on Clinton/McCain’s dishonest populism on petrol tax.

Lauren Hilgers takes a close look at China’s ethnic “autonomous zones” and notes that in some like Tibet the level of autonomy leaves something to be desired (nevertheless maybe there are ways Tibetans could press for more real autonomy under the existing legal structure).

Perry de Havilland and Alex Singleton both look at a confiscatory stunt by Venezuelan “national socialist” demagogue Hugo Chavez.


Law

Nadine Faid looks at an unusual Greek litigious dispute:

a lawsuit filed by three citizens of the island of Lesbos against the Greek Homosexual and Lesbian Community (OLKE), a gay-rights group, in a Greek court. The plaintiffsone male and two femalesassert that the group has no right to the term lesbian and that the groups use of the name is an insult to the identity of the islands inhabitants, who often refer to themselves as Lesbians.


… and I can see

Thomas Chatterton eat your heart out

Fresno St San Francisco

doorways do it

Issues analysis

Ken Parish responds to thoughts raised by Mark Richardson (to whom we linked in yesterday’s episode) on a charter of rights. Tim Dunlop suggests an incremental approach, starting with a guaranteed right of free speech. Possibly as a result of mortgage stress, Mirko Bagaric, discoverer of the compassion gland, seriously overtaxes his wits on the subject.

Harry Clarke is pleased that STD incidence amongst Aboriginal youth is down and equally pleased to be able to snark at the Left because of it.

John Quiggin would like to see more data and fewer anecdotes in press coverage of economic issues.

Lauredhel finds people with disabilities excluded from the 2020 summit’s ‘productivity agenda’. tigtog struggles with a personal revelation.

Joshua Gans speculates on enacting emissions trading systems as a stalking horse for raising the stakes high enough that increased R&D expenditure obviates the needs for an emissions trading system.

Biologist blogger PZ Myers examines the dodgy manouevrings of the makers of a creationist movie.


Arts

Two of the finest documentary makers, Werner Herzog (Little Dieter Needs to Fly, Grizzly Man) and Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line, The Fog of War) in conversation. (Luckily no guns were pulled or animals harmed)

Chris Boyd interviews jazz maestro Abdullah Ibrahim, and Amanda Rose gives us all access to her jazz muxtape.((I intend playing it today  at work – a civilised way to prepare public law study guides, one of the compensations for crappy academic pay ~ KP))   

Stanley Fish considers the influence of French Theory in American academia.

PEN announces some of its literary awards, Cynthia Ozick winning the PEN/Nabokov life-time achievement award, Richard Nelson winning the Laura Pels playwright award, Marget Jull Costa awarded best translation (SH – highly deserved for her fine rendering of the Iberian exuberance of Jose Saramago, Eca de Queiros, Fernando Pessoa, Javier Marias and Lidia Jorge)

Boynton considers the semiotics of ex-boyfriend jewelery.

Pavlov’s Cat finds teaching grammar to aspiring writers a bit of a strain.

Jeremy and The Editor find a little dishonesty in the music industry’s anti-piracy campaign.


Sport

Graham Young argues (uncontroversially?) that elite sportspeople shouldn’t be given special tax breaks.


Snark, strangeness and charm

Adrian has some photos of the Pittwater…and a solar powered tinny.

rotwang has a few words on long-time Radio National broadcaster, John Cargher, recently passed away. His last show was broadcast last Saturday.

Broken Left Leg finds today’s yoof ugly and capitalistic.

Audrey shares a couple of Grange Hermitage disaster stories.

Has Mark Bahnisch found the ultimate crochet project for nerds?

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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John Greenfield
John Greenfield
13 years ago

Even Herodotus discusses “the Lesbians” without even a hint of carpet-munching going on. The Roman poet Catullus’ poems to Lesbia similarly reveal nothing fishy. Plato went so far to call Sappho – of Lesbos – the “tenth muse” again without even a whiff of her being a ‘Lady who munched.’

So I offer my full support to the modern day Lesbians of Lesbos in their fight against the Queer barbarians.

gilmae
13 years ago

So I offer my full support to the modern day Lesbians of Lesbos in their fight against the Queer barbarians.

But…surely they *do* speak Greek.

Patrick
Patrick
13 years ago

Perhaps not classical greek

gilmae
13 years ago

3…2….1….

saint
13 years ago

Correction: P.Z. Meyers is snarking about a movie made by IDers not creationists. And they can all snark at each other for all I care.

I know a Lesbian, the others I know are pretenders.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
13 years ago

Even John Derbyshire of the conservative National Review thinks that Ben Stein’s movie is rubbish

http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=NWRmOTU2YzZlN2RhMzhjNzEwNzQ3MzFiZDE2NjM3NWE=

gilmae
13 years ago

Is there a difference?

I’d (reluctantly) allow my daughter to date a creationist, because at least he’s just gullible.

Gummo Trotsky
13 years ago

You’d have to draw the line at creationists from Lesbos, surely.

gilmae
13 years ago

Absolutely! I mean, *those* guys are hyper-frustrated

Legal Eagle
13 years ago

My sister dated a half-Lesbian once (his Dad came from Lesbos).

Gummo Trotsky
13 years ago

Whereas if it had been her dad, your sister would have been dating a half Lesbian lesbian.

saint
13 years ago

#6 Yes. Both off the wall in my view, but yes there is a difference, in degree if not in

Myers and Dawkins et al. have good reason to be peeved about this movie due to some shenanigans during production etc. and they have sympathy amongst Christian academics who have also been caught out in the same way by the same groups (even if not exaclty the same people as in this case).

However, when it comes to people promulgating bad science in defense of (usually equally bad) theology (creationists and IDers), or people presenting (bad) theology under the guise of science (eg Dawkins), they all deserve each other in my view. Never let it be said that God doesn’t have a sense of humour.

W.C. Varones
13 years ago

McCain to borrowers: Stop paying your mortgage!

JC
JC
13 years ago

Joshua Gans speculates on enacting emissions trading systems as a stalking horse for raising the stakes high enough that increased R&D expenditure obviates the needs for an emissions trading system.

Well, yea, but then Joshua G ought to explain to his readers what would have happened if the use of coal had been banned or taxed heavily during the industrial revolution. My best guess (and it would be an easy win if we could go back in time and tried it) is that the IR would have been stopped in its tracks. Stopped dead and there would never have been an IR.

When were taxing and capping emissions and limiting our potential for substitutes ( nuke power) while relying on such technologies as solar that will only bring diseconomies of scale were simply kidding ourselves into oblivion- if not oblivion certainly a lower living standards. Solar and wind power are and will always remain technologically inferior to coal and nuke especially nuke power if limiting emissions is the way forward. Anyone pretending otherwise is simply kidding themselves.

NPOV
NPOV
13 years ago

What on earth is technologically superior about coal? Coal-fired power stations are essentially 19th century technology whose single benefit is that they run off a fuel that is highly energy dense (thanks to millions of years of compaction by mother nature) and that is available 24/7. There’s far more sophisticated technology in a modern wind turbine or solar panel, and if you don’t think human ingenuity can adequately solve the issue of intermittent energy supply to wind or solar generators then I suggest you don’t have a great deal of faith in it.
As for nuclear, well yes, I’d be shutting down coal power stations and replacing them with nuclear ones as fast as I could if it were up to me (not least because they’re far safer), but unless you’re willing to set yourself up as a dictator to get it done, NIMBYism is going to reign supreme.

JC
JC
13 years ago

N

What on earth is technologically superior about coal?

It produces cheap and abundant energy with large economies of scale.

Coal-fired power stations are essentially 19th century technology

The wheel is also 1,000’s of years old technology, N. Age has absolutely nothing to do with the price of hippos when a technology is economically worthwhile.

Theres far more sophisticated technology in a modern wind turbine or solar panel, and if you dont think human ingenuity can adequately solve the issue of intermittent energy supply to wind or solar generators then I suggest you dont have a great deal of faith in it.

There are physical engineering limitations that are insurmountable even if they were freely handed out and their large-scale use would result in a reduction of economies of scale: we would suffer diseconomies of scale in energy production

As for nuclear, well yes, Id be shutting down coal power stations and replacing them with nuclear ones as fast as I could if it were up to me (not least because theyre far safer), but unless youre willing to set yourself up as a dictator to get it done, NIMBYism is going to reign supreme.

Well, it should also be understood that people will begin to suffer material cuts in living standards as we have no technology that would provides cheap abundant energy other than nuke that is emission free.

NPOV
NPOV
13 years ago

So the most technologically superior cars are the cheapest ones?

Anyway, no-one’s disputing that with present technology, coal-fired power stations are better than wind turbines and solar generators (PV & CSP) at producing cheap continuous electricity. Of course, a good part of the reason coal power is cheap is because it’s indirectly subsidised (e.g. health costs associated with black lung disease), and the cost of long term environmental damage isn’t priced in.

Why would you assume there aren’t significant economies of scale to be gained from mass-producing wind turbines, solar panels and/or reflectors? To be sure, a large wind or solar plant requires far more land area, but we’re not exactly short of that. And what “physical engineering limitations” prevent the development of large-scale storage devices that can be used to turn a variable/unpredictable energy supply into a continuous, reliable flow of electricity?

In fact, I’ll confidently predict that by 2020 it will no longer be economically viable to build a new coal-fired power plant, even with very modest carbon pricing (say, $15/T). Of course, there’s a decent chance that well before then it will be no longer politically viable.

NPOV
NPOV
13 years ago

BTW, one reason I’m confident in my prediction is precisely because solar and wind are far more scaleable than coal – you can start up a 5 or 10 man company and work on solar technology (or storage technology). Indeed, there are thousands of companies all around the world of varying sizes all attracting some of the best engineering and scientific talent there is to work on what’s a “new-and-exciting” challenge. Contrast this to coal, where there’s only a handle of companies large enough to invest heavily in improvements to coal power plants, and the fact that, CCS aside, there aren’t really a lot of opportunities for new breakthroughs in burning coal and powering a turbine.
Plus of course the fact that a lot of coal-fired plants are owned by risk-averse governments that aren’t all that interested in funding risky new technologies.
In fact, renewable energy really is a great chance for private enterprise to prove its advantages over state-owned utilities.

JC
JC
13 years ago

Why would you assume there arent significant economies of scale to be gained from mass-producing wind turbines, solar panels and/or reflectors?

As I suggested it’s not the production of these things that’s the problem. A Martian could come down and give them to us for free and we still be worse off.

Australian climate is generally similar in 1,000 sq mile blocks. So you would need very wide collection area which means there would be huge losses in “transportation” as the turbines etc. would have to be placed in numerous places in equal numbers. The maintenance work is also huge compared to a nuke of a coal-fired plant.

There is also the issue with base load requirements with coal and nuke offering the best reaction times.

Central production of energy is far superior to individual set ups in terms of obtaining economies of scale.

And what physical engineering limitations prevent the development of large-scale storage devices that can be used to turn a variable/unpredictable energy supply into a continuous, reliable flow of electricity?

Cost. We can do it, but the relative cost comparison is huge.

In fact, Ill confidently predict that by 2020 it will no longer be economically viable to build a new coal-fired power plant, even with very modest carbon pricing (say, $15/T). Of course, theres a decent chance that well before then it will be no longer politically viable.

I confidently predict that we will begin to see reason build reactors and move away from this debate once and for all.

Buy uranium stock because at 75 bucks a pound yellowcake is really cheap as most of the worlds stocks are still coming from deactivated nuclear weapons. We have 1/3 supply of the worlds reserves, so were the Saudi Arabia of yellow cake.

JC
JC
13 years ago

Ummmmmm
I confidently predict that we will begin to see us building reactors and move away from this debate once and for all.

——————-

For the life of me, I cannot see how anyone who really wants clean emissions would not be actively supporting nuke. Are there risks? Yea limited ones it seems but surely the risk of AGW must be seen to be greater by proponents.

gilmae
13 years ago

Actually, I have one lingering question about reactors. My understanding is that they need quite a bit of water. I don’t know if that is correct or not and how passing through the reactor affects the water. Not unfit for human consumption, surely?

gilmae
13 years ago

Err…passing *around* the reactor would be my guess on how the plant is actually constructed, not through the chamber where the reaction is occuring :- )

NPOV
NPOV
13 years ago

JC, like I said, give me nukes over coal plants anyday, but they are not any sort of silver bullet. I’d be more than happy for governments to get out of the way and let any private enterprise that thinks it can make nuclear cost-effective in Australia have a go at it, but it’s not going to happen in the next 10 years.

Can you give me some references indicating that operating costs for solar or wind plants is higher than for coal or nuclear plants? Everything I’ve read has implied quite the opposite. Maintenance costs are generally estimated to be about the same (except some older wind farms), hence the zero fuel cost for solar/wind adds up to something around half the operating costs of coal or nuclear. Admittedly it’s hard to find reliable sources for this.

NPOV
NPOV
13 years ago

http://books.google.com.au/books?id=CnHnsUBCgSUC&pg=PA36&lpg=PA36&dq=%22operating+cost%22+kWh+wind+farm&source=web&ots=nSZ7Ua9aE3&sig=6FI-fOp9ChakCg5yJMOazwed2nI&hl=en

gives the operating costs for modern wind farms as 0.5c/kWh, rising to 1c/kWh after 5 years.

http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/issues/opctbl1.html has the operating cost for a coal-fired power plant at 1.8c/kWh. There is a downward trend here, but given recently rising coal prices, I doubt it will ever get as low as 1c/kWh, especially once carbon pricing is factored in.

OTOH, there’s some reason to assume that maintenance costs for wind farms may well decrease in the future with better automation and tougher materials etc.

There are some estimates that PV operating costs are in the order of 0.25c/kWh, but I haven’t found a good free online source yet. Nobody seems to have any good data on solar thermal.

JC
JC
13 years ago

OTOH, theres some reason to assume that maintenance costs for wind farms may well decrease in the future with better automation and tougher materials etc.

And why and how make that assumption and on what grounds? You can’t assume you’ll get what you done have.

And why make the assumpton that technology would only improve for your favourities. If your naking assumptioons on one side of the ledger you have to also make the assumption that there will be better technology for coal and nuke in an unhampered market.

JC, like I said, give me nukes over coal plants anyday, but they are not any sort of silver bullet

Why not? Cuddly little Sweden and France use nuke for 80% of the energy needs.

Id be more than happy for governments to get out of the way and let any private enterprise that thinks it can make nuclear cost-effective in Australia have a go at it, but its not going to happen in the next 10 years.

Well lets get ready for lower living standards then.

Can you give me some references indicating that operating costs for solar or wind plants is higher than for coal or nuclear plants?

Its not costs, although it is evident that solar and wind turbines are not efficient as they require heavy subsidies to keep them going. Its operating efficiency. Wind can only ever work at about 59% peak efficiency. That means that we can only ever extract 59% of the energy input going in. Solar is almost as bad.

Everything Ive read has implied quite the opposite

Look, sticking a solar panel on every roof as even less efficient than sticking generators in every home.

Maintenance costs are generally estimated to be about the same (except some older wind farms),

Theyre not and you need very, very wide geographic displacement.

JC
JC
13 years ago

You cant assume youll get what you DON’T have.

NPOV
NPOV
13 years ago

Peak efficiency is irrevelant. Coal power plants run at about 30% efficiency.
As for the subsidies – the reason renewables require subsidies is because they only become competitive with coal or nuclear over a far longer period than most investors are prepared to. And like I said, coal and nuclear get plenty of subsidies anyway.

As for lower living standards – sure, moving to slightly more expensive forms of electricity generation in the next 10 years could have a very slight negative effect on GDP growth, meaning we won’t be quite as immediately wealthy as we would be otherwise, but I can hardly see this keeping anyone awake at night. At any rate, the extra cost of electricity generation is pretty easily recouped by using it more efficiently.

Look, I quoted you figures showing that wind farms are less expensive to operate than coal fired power plants. I did find one or two sources that attempted to estimate maintenance costs, but nothing specific enough to be worth quoting (interestingly, off-shore maintenance is cheaper, due to lower turbulence). As for whether maintenance costs for wind farms are likely to decrease relative to maintenance costs for coal plants, it’s a reasonable assumption, given projected coal prices (US DoE projects them to remain basically flat on a $/BTU basis out to 2025*), and the fact that there’s plenty of scope for automating wind farm maintenance, whereas coal power plants have spent the last 100 years gradually reducing their maintenance costs through increased automation etc., and all the easy savings have been made already.

* Unfortunately like most organisations the DoE has a lousy recent track record forecasting fossil fuel prices, consistently underestimating them. If the DoE is predicting flat prices out to 2025, I’m willing to bet they’ll actually increase substantially, especially if CTL takes off.

JC
JC
13 years ago

Peak efficiency is irrevelant.

Like hell it is. You can’t blow into a turbine and hope the rotors roll over.

Coal power plants run at about 30% efficiency.

There are numerous grades of coal.

As for the subsidies – the reason renewables require subsidies is because they only become competitive with coal or nuclear over a far longer period than most investors are prepared to. And like I said, coal and nuclear get plenty of subsidies anyway.

Oh, that’s what they kept saying about the textile business in Australia when we were imposing quotas and tariffs.

As for lower living standards – sure, moving to slightly more expensive forms of electricity generation in the next 10 years could have a very slight negative effect on GDP growth, meaning we wont be quite as immediately wealthy as we would be otherwise, but I can hardly see this keeping anyone awake at night.

Not according to a survey that Andrew Norton reported on. The survey showed that people were only really prepared to pay about 10 bucks a week for mitigation, which shows what a low tolerance people have to lower living standards. Cheap advice. Never ever run a political campaign on lowering living standards as you will lose.

At any rate, the extra cost of electricity generation is pretty easily recouped by using it more efficiently.

How so?

Look, I quoted you figures showing that wind farms are less expensive to operate than coal fired power plants.

Which isn’t true otherwise we would be making a dash to wind farms without heavy subsidies.

As for whether maintenance costs for wind farms are likely to decrease relative to maintenance costs for coal plants, its a reasonable assumption, given projected coal prices (US DoE projects them to remain basically flat on a $/BTU basis out to 2025*),

Yea and you know this because………..

and the fact that theres plenty of scope for automating wind farm maintenance, whereas coal power plants have spent the last 100 years gradually reducing their maintenance costs through increased automation etc., and all the easy savings have been made already.

Youo don’t know what lies around the corner so it’s no use speculating.

*

Unfortunately like most organisations the DoE has a lousy recent track record forecasting fossil fuel prices, consistently underestimating them. If the DoE is predicting flat prices out to 2025, Im willing to bet theyll actually increase substantially, especially if CTL takes off.

China doesn’t have a problem with the use of nuke power but it still builds coal plants. Why? Clue, it’s not because she loves BHP and Rio.

NPOV
NPOV
13 years ago

JC, most of your above post barely even seems worth responding to, but your claim about making a dash to wind farms warrants some reply: wind farms have a far higher capital cost per kW than coal or nuclear, which is main reason the take up has been slow until recently. But as it is, we are “making a dash to wind farms without heavy subsidies” – in most Western nations, wind power is growing more rapidly than coal, and it’s by no means “heavily” subsidised (indeed, I read recently that in Australia it’s not directly subsidised at all – rather, utility companies are required by law to source a certain fraction of their electricity from wind farms).

Coal power plants in parts of China are extraordinarly cheap only because of extremely lax safety and pollution standards. They are already paying the price for this (in lives, as well as dollars), as ultimately will the rest of world. I suspect it will turn out to be extremely false economy.

JC
JC
13 years ago

But as it is, we are making a dash to wind farms without heavy subsidies

(indeed, I read recently that in Australia its not directly subsidised at all – rather, utility companies are required by law to source a certain fraction of their electricity from wind farms).

I’m left speechless.

NPOV
NPOV
13 years ago

As I understand it, all retailers easily met the target without having to pay a fine.

At any rate, there’s every reason to believe that if the government stepped completely out of the way and gave no special treatment to any energy generating industry that wind power would compete just fine. Unfortunately I doubt we’ll ever get a chance to find out.