Sunday, January 26, 2014

Child's Play
6 Benefits of Roughhousing for Kids
I’ve attended one play dates too many when parents flinch at the first sign of physical engagement between two kids.
“No wrestling, guys,” a protective mom will say, breaking up the fun. “We don’t want anyone to get hurt.”
I understand the rationale. I realize kids do collect injuries when they clutch each other in a full nelson. But I’m not alone in thinking our culture has gone to the other extreme in the name of safety. In their refreshing book, The Art of Roughhousing: Good Old-Fashioned Horseplay and Why Every Kid Needs It, authors Anthony T. DeBenedet, MD and Lawrence J. Cohen not only articulate the benefits of roughhousing, but also offer over a hundred fun exercises to try at home.
Here’s their claim: “Play—especially active physical play, like roughhousing—makes kids smart, emotionally intelligent, lovable and likable, ethical, physically fit, and joyful.” Let’s look at each benefit more carefully.
1. Roughhousing makes kid smart.
This is fascinating: Roughhousing fertilizes our brain. For real. This kind of physical play releases a chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which really is like fertilizer for our brains. Roughhousing stimulates neuron growth within the cortex andhippocampus regions of the brain, responsible for memory, learning, language, and logic. Animal behaviorists have found that the youngsters of the smarter species engage in physical play, so it isn’t surprising that roughhousing actually boosts school performance. Who knows? If your kid wrestles everyday, he might win a scholarship to Yale!
2. Roughhousing builds emotional intelligence.
Because roughhousing helps children develop skills in reading the emotions of others—Is he going for my gut? Or is he going to grab me over the head?—as well as manage their own emotions—I am not going to hit him in the gut or grab him over the head—they are well prepared to navigate successfully through the emotional adult world: reading a boss’s mood, knowing how to challenge a co-worker, being able to hang with the family during the holidays. Moreover kids learn how to regain self-control, which makes them more confident in their emotional lives.
3. Roughhousing makes kids more likable.
This is true for four reasons. First, physical play builds friendships and other relationships, and this is especially true for boys, who don’t gush all over each other, much less say “I like you.” Roughhousing can be a declaration of friendship or affection not only for elementary school boys, but for young men, as well. Second, kids who roughhouse are able to distinguish between innocent play and aggression; therefore, it helps children develop social and problem-solving skills. Third, youngsters who physically play learn how to take turns. If they are playing right, each person will get a chance to chase, and to be chased. No one person should be “it” the entire time. Finally, roughhousing teaches kids the concept of leadership and negotiation. Think about the rules that go into physical games. Everyone needs to agree, which is wonderful preparation for professional success as well as committed relationships.
4. Roughhousing makes children ethical and moral.
Interestingly enough, the animals with the highest level of moral development also engage in the most play, especially physical play. One way we can measure moral behavior in animal play is by observing “self-handicapping,” when the stronger animal holds back his strength when playing with a weaker or smaller opponent. Humans do this too, and especially parents, when physically engaging with their children.
Write DeBenedet and Cohen:
When we roughhouse with our kids, we model for them how someone bigger and stronger holds back. We teach them self-control, fairness, and empathy. We let them win, which gives them confidence and demonstrates that winning isn’t everything. We show them how much can be accomplished by cooperation and how to constructively channel competitive energy so that it doesn’t take over.
5. Roughhousing makes kids physically fit.
This one is obvious. But physical fitness isn’t just about body strength, say the authors. It involves complex motor learning, concentration, coordination, body control, cardiovascular fitness, and flexibility. So free play is going to offer different benefits than, say, gym class.
6. Roughhousing brings joy.
As a species, humans are hard-wired for roughhousing, so the body and mind are happy when we let it happen. According to studies in neuroscience, when the play circuits in the brains of mammals are activated, they feel joy.

A study done in a school

Monday, January 20, 2014

How do you evaluate wind energy?

A Problem With Wind Power 
[]   [click here for printer-friendly PDF]by Eric Rosenbloom

Wind power promises a clean and free source of electricity that would reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels and the output of greenhouse gases and other pollution. Many governments are therefore promoting the construction of vast wind "farms," encouraging private companies with generous subsidies and regulatory support, requiring utilities to buy from them, and setting up markets for the trade of "green credits" in addition to actual energy. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) aims to see 5% of our electricity produced by wind turbine in 2010. Energy companies are eagerly investing in wind power, finding the arrangement quite profitable.

A little research, however, reveals that wind power does not in fact live up to the claims made by its advocates [see part I], that its impact on the environment and people's lives is far from benign [see part II], and that with such a poor record and prospect the money spent on it could be much more effectively directed [see part III]. Links to aid the reader's own research are provided throughout this paper as well as at the end [see Links; off-site links will automatically open to a new window or tab]. Click here for an abbreviated version of this paper. Click here for an even briefer version (a handy model for letters). This paper is also available as a 7-page typeset PDF file (156 KB) -- click here.

Tehachapi Pass, California

Top • II • III • Links ]

In 1998, Norway commissioned a study of wind power in Denmark and concluded that it has "serious environmental effects, insufficient production, and high production costs." 

Denmark (population 5.3 million) has over 6,000 turbines that produced electricity equal to 19% of what the country used in 2002. Yet no conventional power plant has been shut down. Because of the intermittency and variability of the wind, conventional power plants must be kept running at full capacity to meet the actual demand for electricity. Most cannot simply be turned on and off as the wind dies and rises, and the quick ramping up and down of those that can be would actually increase their output of pollution and carbon dioxide (the primary "greenhouse" gas). So when the wind is blowing just right for the turbines, the power they generate is usually a surplus and sold to other countries at an extremely discounted price, or the turbines are simply shut off. 

A writer in The Utilities Journal (David J. White, "Danish Wind: Too Good To Be True?," July 2004) found that 84% of western Denmark's wind-generated electricity was exported (at a revenue loss) in 2003, i.e., Denmark's glut of wind towers provided only 3.3% of the nation's electricity. According to The Wall Street Journal Europe, the Copenhagen newspaper Politiken reported that wind actually met only 1.7% of Denmark's total demand in 1999. (Besides the amount exported, this low figure may also reflect the actual netcontribution. The large amount of electricity used by the turbines themselves is typically not accounted for in the usually cited output figures. Click here for information about electricity use in wind turbines.) In Weekendavisen (Nov. 4, 2005), Frede Vestergaard reported that Denmark as a whole exported 70.3% of its wind production in 2004. 

Denmark is just dependent enough on wind power that when the wind is not blowing right they must import electricity. In 2000 they imported more electricity than they exported. And added to the Danish electric bill are the subsidies that support the private companies building the wind towers. Danish electricity costs for the consumer are the highest in Europe. [Click here for a detailed and well referenced examination by Vic Mason.

The head of Xcel Energy in the U.S., Wayne Brunetti, has said, "We're a big supporter of wind, but at the time when customers have the greatest needs, it's typically not available." Throughout Europe, wind turbines produced on average less than 20% of their theoretical (or rated) capacity. Yet both the British and the American Wind Energy Associations (BWEA and AWEA) plan for 30%. The figure in Denmark was 16.8% in 2002 and 19% in 2003 (in February 2003, the output of the more than 6,000 turbines in Denmark was 0!). On-shore turbines in the U.K. produced at 24.1% of their capacity in 2003. The average in Germany for 1998-2003 was 14.7%. In the U.S., usable output (representing wind power's contribution to consumption, according to the Energy Information Agency) in 2002 was 12.7% of capacity (using the average between the AWEA's figures for installed capacity at the end of 2001 and 2002). In California, the average is 20%. The Searsburg plant in Vermont averages 21%, declining every year. This percentage is called the load factor orcapacity factor. The rated generating capacity only occurs during 100% ideal conditions, typically a sustained wind speed over 30 mph. As the wind slows, electricity output falls off exponentially. [Click here for more about the technicalities of wind as a power source, as well as energy consumption data. Click here for conversions between and explanations of energy units.

In high winds, ironically, the turbines must be stopped because they are easily damaged. Build-up of dead bugs has been shown to halve the maximum power generated by a wind turbine, reducing the average power generated by 25% and more. Build-up of salt on off-shore turbine blades similarly has been shown to reduce the power generated by 20%-30%. 

Eon Netz, the grid manager for about a third of Germany, discusses the technical problems of connecting large numbers of wind turbines [click here]: Electricity generation from wind fluctuates greatly, requiring additional reserves of "conventional" capacity to compensate; high-demand periods of cold and heat correspond to periods of low wind; only limited forecasting is possible for wind power; wind power needs a corresponding expansion of the high-voltage and extra-high-voltage grid infrastructure; and expansion of wind power makes the grid more unstable. [Click here for a good explanation of why wind-generated power can not usefully contribute to the grid and only causes greater problems, including the use of more "conventional" fuel.

Despite their being cited as the shining example of what can be accomplished with wind power, the Danish government has cancelled plans for three offshore wind farms planned for 2008 and has scheduled the withdrawal of subsidies from existing sites. Development of onshore wind plants in Denmark has effectively stopped. Because Danish companies dominate the wind industry, however, the government is under pressure to continue their support. Spain began withdrawing subsidies in 2002. Germany reduced the tax breaks to wind power, and domestic construction drastically slowed in 2004. Switzerland also is cutting subsidies as too expensive for the lack of significant benefit. The Netherlands decommissioned 90 turbines in 2004. Many Japanese utilities severely limit the amount of wind-generated power they buy, because of the instability they cause. For the same reason, Ireland in December 2003 halted all new wind-power connections to the national grid. In early 2005, they were considering ending state support. In 2005, Spanish utilities began refusing new wind power connections. In 2006, the Spanish government ended -- by emergency decree -- its subsidies and price supports for big wind. In 2004, Australia reduced the level of renewable energy that utilities are required to buy, dramatically slowing wind-project applications. On August 31, 2004, Bloomberg News reported that "the unstable flow of wind power in their networks" has forced German utilities to buy more expensive energy, requiring them to raise prices for the consumer. [Note, April 2012:  State support for industrial wind fluctuates, but the trend noted here has continued.] 

A German Energy Agency study released in February 2005 after some delay [click here] stated that increasing the amount of wind power would increase consumer costs 3.7 times more than otherwise and that the theoretical reduction of greenhouse gas emissions could be achieved much more cheaply by simply installing filters on existing fossil-fuel plants. A similar conclusion was made by the Irish grid manager in a study released in February 2004 [click here for 172-KB PDF]: "The cost of CO2 abatement arising from using large levels of wind energy penetration appears high relative to other alternatives." 

In Germany, utilities are forced to buy renewable energy at sometimes more than 10 times the cost of conventional power, in France 3 times. In the U.K., the Telegraph has reported that rather than providing cheaper energy, wind power costs the electric companies £50 per megawatt-hour, compared to £15 for conventional power. The wind industry is worried that the U.K., too, is starting to see that it is only subsidies and requirements on utilities to buy a certain amount of "green" power that prop up the wind towers and that it is a colossal waste of resources. The BWEA has even resorted to threatening prominent opponents as more projects are successfully blocked. Interestingly, long-term plans for energy use and emissions reduction by both the U.K. and the U.S. governments do not mention wind [click here for more about this (the article is in Spanish)]. Flemming Nissen, head of development at the Danish utility Elsam, told a meeting in Copenhagen, May 27, 2004, "Increased development of wind turbines does not reduce Danish CO2 emissions." 

Old fashion gun shoot outs numbers
November 25th, 2009, 02:47 PM #7
“In his book, Frontier Violence: Another Look, author W. Eugene Hollon, provides us with these astonishing facts:
In Abilene, Ellsworth, Wichita, Dodge City, and Caldwell, for the years from 1870 to 1885, there were only 45 total homicides. This equates to a rate of approximately 1 murder per 100,000 residents per year.
In Abilene, supposedly one of the wildest of the cow towns, not a single person was killed in 1869 or 1870.
Zooming forward over a century to 2007, a quick look at Uniform Crime Report statistics as shown in Table 6, shows the following regarding the aforementioned gun control “paradise” cities of the east and our home town:
DC – 183 Murders (31 per 100,000 residents)
New York – 496 Murders (6 per 100,000 residents)
Baltimore – 282 Murders (45 per 100,000 residents)
Newark – 104 Murders (37 per 100,000 residents)
San Antonio – 122 Murders (9.3 per 100,000 residents)
It doesn’t take an advanced degree in statistics to see that a return to “wild west” levels of violent crime would be a huge improvement for the residents of these cities.”
just something i found.
I wouldn’t put too much faith in those stats. People in Abilene and Dodge City in the 19th century were not bureaucrats and bean counters like modern Americans. Who knows what they considered a homicide? Who knows what percentage of homicides they bothered to document? I’m currently “translating” for publication a diary from a Missouri cavalryman in the 1840s and I cannot begin to explain all the various ways that this English-speaking American’s world was different from mine. Those differences make it difficult for me to interpret what he’s saying about even mundane things. For God’s sake I was 1/4 into the project before I even realized he was in Kansas, not Missouri, because at that time Missouri was a territory that encompassed the area which later became the state of Kansas.
I’m not saying people were being shot every day in Dodge City, but I’m guessing if two rival cattle drives shot it out in the street over something, and the wounded then retired to their respective camps to die in private, the Dodge City marshal wouldn’t bother with it – not his problem.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Repeat dire climate warnings

Earth Day predictions of 1970. The reason you shouldn’t believe Earth Day predictions of 2009.

by EDITOR on APRIL 22, 2009
Luckily, we haven't run out of oil, but have exhausted our supply of 70s fashion.
Luckily, we haven't run out of oil, but we have exhausted our supply of 70s fashion.
For the next 24 hours, the media will assault us with tales of imminent disaster that always accompany the annual Earth Day Doom & Gloom Extravaganza.
Ignore them. They’ll be wrong. We’re confident in saying that because they’ve always been wrong. And always will be.
Need proof? Here are some of the hilarious, spectacularly wrong predictions made on the occasion of Earth Day 1970.
“We have about five more years at the outside to do something.” 
• Kenneth Watt, ecologist
“Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.” 
• George Wald, Harvard Biologist
We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation.” 
• Barry Commoner, Washington University biologist

“Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.”
• New York Times editorial, the day after the first Earth Day
“Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”
• Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist
“By…[1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.”
• Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist
“It is already too late to avoid mass starvation.” 
• Denis Hayes, chief organizer for Earth Day
“Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions….By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.”
• Peter Gunter, professor, North Texas State University
“Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution…by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….” 
• Life Magazine, January 1970
“At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it’s only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable.” 
• Kenneth Watt, Ecologist
Stanford's Paul Ehrlich announces that the sky is falling.
Stanford's Paul Ehrlich announces that the sky is falling.
“Air pollution…is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone.”
• Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist
“We are prospecting for the very last of our resources and using up the nonrenewable things many times faster than we are finding new ones.” 
• Martin Litton, Sierra Club director
“By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, `Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, `I am very sorry, there isn’t any.’”
• Kenneth Watt, Ecologist
“Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, believes that in 25 years, somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.”
• Sen. Gaylord Nelson
“The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years. If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.”
• Kenneth Watt, Ecologist
Keep these predictions in mind when you hear the same predictions made today. They’ve been making the same predictions for 39 years. And they’re going to continue making them until…well…forever.
Here we are, 39 years later and the economy sucks, but the ecology’s fine. In fact thisplanet is doing a lot better than the planet on which those green lunatics live.
You’ll also enjoy (or hate) our article, 25 Global Warming Debunking Videos Al Gore Doesn’t Want You To See.
Update: Earth Day 2010 version.