April 10, 2012

Posted by orrinj at 6:35 PM


Truckers are delivering better fuel efficiency (Ronald D. White, 4/10/12, Los Angeles Times)

Since getting hammered by expensive diesel in 2008, Johring and many other transport specialists have altered their businesses to reduce diesel use. Coca-Cola Co. is using electric and hybrid vehicles and training drivers to reduce idling time. FedEx Corp. has adopted sophisticated software to improve truck loading and route planning with an eye toward fuel efficiency.

Even the look of the rigs has changed. To improve aerodynamics on the road, a cutting-edge cab these days sports deflectors on the roof and sides as well as extenders to close the gap with the trailer behind. The trailer might feature side skirts or angled trays underneath so that the air flows easily past and doesn't drag on the vehicle, reducing the mileage a driver can get per gallon of fuel.

"Years ago, we preferred a classic style, rigs with tall front hoods," said Corey England, executive vice president of his family's trucking operation, C.R. England Global Transportation Inc., which operates as many as 320 rigs in California at any given time.

"Running those will lose you half a mile on every gallon," England said. "It just doesn't pencil out to do that."

We are only efficient at gun point.

Posted by orrinj at 6:08 PM


Ozzie Guillen and Modern McCarthyism (Matthew Rothschild, April 10, 2012, Progressive)

Here in America, we pride ourselves on our freedoms--you know, the freedom of speech, the freedom to express our political beliefs.

But how free actually are we?

How seriously do we respect these freedoms?

There's a lot of lip service paid to them, but when someone expresses an unpopular political belief, the price can be high. [...]

Showing no appreciation for our First Freedom, the Marlins summarily suspended Guillen without pay for five games. 

Okay, the fact that it is not the government that is punishing Mr. Guillen for his vile expressions is a tad too obvious here.  The broader point is that it cheapens the notion that speech is important to insist that one should suffer no consequences for what one says.  Mr. Guillen's admiration for Castro and Chavez is either important to him or it isn't.  If it matters then he ought not mind giving up a paycheck to express it.

Posted by orrinj at 4:35 PM


Santorum Suspends Presidential Campaign (MICHAEL D. SHEAR and JIM RUTENBERG, 4/10/12, NY Times)

Rick Santorum suspended his presidential campaign on Tuesday, bowing to the inevitability of Mitt Romney's nomination and ending his improbable, come-from-behind quest to become the party's conservative standard-bearer in the fall.

Posted by orrinj at 6:38 AM


For Big Companies, Life Is Good (SCOTT THURM, 4/09/12, WSJ)

Deep cost cutting during the downturn and caution during the recovery put the companies on firmer financial footing, helping them to outperform the rest of the economy and gather a greater share of the nation's income. The rebound is reflected in the stock market, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average at a four-year high.

"U.S. companies became leaner, meaner and hungrier," said Sung Won Sohn, a former chief economist at Wells Fargo WFC -0.92% & Co.,

The performance hasn't translated into significant gains in U.S. employment. 

The performance lies in not boosting US employment.  Adding back the jobs everyone is demanding would only make them less efficient and productive. 

Posted by orrinj at 6:33 AM


The Myth of America's Decline: Washington now has added China, India, Brazil and Turkey to its speed-dial, along with Europe and Japan. But it will remain the chairman of a larger board. (WALTER RUSSELL MEAD, 4/09/12, WSJ)

It is this trilateral system--rather than American power per se--that is in decline today. Western Europe and Japan were seen as rising powers in the 1970s, and the assumption was that the trilateral partnership would become more powerful and effective as time passed. Something else happened instead.

Demographically and economically, both Japan and Europe stagnated. The free-trade regime and global investment system promoted growth in the rest of Asia more than in Japan. Europe, turning inward to absorb the former Warsaw Pact nations, made the fateful blunder of embracing the euro rather than a more aggressive program of reform in labor markets, subsidies and the like.

The result today is that the trilateral partnership can no longer serve as the only or perhaps even the chief set of relationships through which the U.S. can foster a liberal world system. Turkey, increasingly turning away from Europe, is on the road to becoming a more effective force in the Middle East than is the EU. China and India are competing to replace the Europeans as the most important non-U.S. economic actor in Africa. In Latin America, Europe's place as the second most important economic and political partner (after the U.S.) is also increasingly taken by China.

The U.S. will still be a leading player, but in a septagonal, not a trilateral, world. In addition to Europe and Japan, China, India, Brazil and Turkey are now on Washington's speed dial. (Russia isn't sure whether it wants to join or sulk; negotiations continue.)

New partnerships make for rough sledding. Over the years, the trilateral countries gradually learned how to work with each other--and how to accommodate one another's needs. These days, the Septarchs have to work out a common approach.

It won't be easy, and success won't be total. But even in the emerging world order, the U.S. is likely to have much more success in advancing its global agenda than many think. Washington is hardly unique in wanting a liberal world system of open trade, freedom of the seas, enforceable rules of contract and protection for foreign investment. What began as a largely American vision for the post-World War II world will continue to attract support and move forward into the 21st century--and Washington will remain the chairman of a larger board.

Despite all the talk of American decline, the countries that face the most painful changes are the old trilateral partners.

One suspects the older powers will have an easier time just dying off than the younger ones will have accepting that there is nothing distinctive nor valuable about themselves and that their future lies in just aping Anglo-America more thoroughly.
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Posted by orrinj at 6:26 AM


Algae Might Replace Imported Fuel in Iceland (Iceland Review, 4/10/12)

Biodiesel could be produced from algae in such quantities that it could replace imported fuel and Iceland even has the potential to export biodiesel, according to Ásbjörn Torfason, managing director of Vistvæn orka ehf.

Ásbjörn states that energy-saving light emitting diode technology and access to geothermal energy makes circumstances to produce biodiesel from large algae or seaweed unique, Fréttablaðið reports.

He reasons that judging by the amount of fuel imported in 2011, two million tons of biomass would have to be produced to replace it. "But it is absolutely reasonable; in an experiment in Norway, they harvested 40-50 tons of dry weight from every hectare."