Monday: Grey Bull

Hope you have some free time today to enjoy this short film. Grey Bull by Khoby runs 15 minutes long, but worth it. Its pace is slow, but the emotions this short musters are full and richly explored. I look forward to more from filmmaker Khoby.

Energy escapades
NV ENERGY: Last Friday I posted a link to a story about Nevada’s governor replacing a member of the Public Utilities Commission as a result of costly barriers to residential solar energy integration. Commenter jo6pac pointed out that Berkshire Hathaway-owned NV Energy (NVE) has been part of the challenge to increasing the use of individual residential solar-generated electricity in NV. I thought there was another electricity provider in Nevada besides NVE given the number of businesses switching from NVE. It’s a challenge, though, if NVE has near-monopolistic position in the state’s electricity market, especially since NVE has the second highest residential rates for electricity in the mountain west region.

But that’s only part of NV’s problem. Like much of the U.S., NV must phase out of fossil fuels like coal and gas — NVE’s standard energy mix relies on 75% or more fossil fuels. As a nation we’re not talking enough about exiting fossil fuels, and how to prevent economic damage while winding down an entire industry in the case of coal. The public does not owe corporations guaranteed profits, but there is a compelling reason for the state to minimize damage to the public’s interests by ensuring coal does not crash.

Putting aside that rather large topic, Friday’s story is really the inversion — it’s not the lone PUC commissioner who might have been batting for NVE, but the largest industry in the state damaged by electricity monopoly and using its power to persuade regulatory change.

This January 2016 article explains a lot: casinos want to exit NV Energy for another provider, but they are being assessed enormous exit fees over which they are suing. More than $100 million in fees between three casinos is a lot of pressure to remain with the status quo.

We’re entering a phase where electricity attains commodification — any supplier will do, and the user should be able to freely switch — but the traditional infrastructure based on coal and other fossil fuel sources with steep and long-term sunk costs can’t compete with commodified alternative energy suppliers. It’s a challenge not unlike the transition from brick-and-mortar retail to e-tail, or newsprint to online news. The legacy system must give way, but it’s going to hurt when there is little forethought put into the transition. Nevada’s PUC is in for a very rough ride.

SOLARCITY: Tesla announced it’s buying out all of the solar power systems company for a price $200 million below its initial offer last month. While SolarCity’s headquarters are in San Mateo, California, after the merger it will have battery production facilities in the Gigafactory under construction near Reno, Nevada. Last year the SolarCity sued Salt River Project (SRP) claiming SRP’s increased rates for residential solar energy users violated antitrust laws since the consumers could not leave SRP’s portion of the grid.

Which sounds a lot like the situation in the rest of Nevada where NVE charges higher rates for residential users who install solar panels as jo6pac pointed out (more in NYT via bloopie2). Is there another antitrust suit in the offing? Or will billionaires Elon Musk of Tesla and Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway have a meeting of the minds?

Frightening flooding

Troubled Turkey

That’s it for Monday, only one more month before Congress returns to DC. See you tomorrow!

Wednesday Morning: Simple Past, Perfect Future

There are thirteen verb tenses in English. I couldn’t recall the thirteenth one to save my life and now after digging through my old composition texts I still can’t figure out what the thirteenth is.

If I have to guess, it’s probably a special case referring to future action. Why should our language be any more lucid than our vision?

Vision we’ve lost; we don’t elect people of vision any longer because we don’t have any ourselves. We vote for people who promise us bullshit based on illusions of a simple past. We don’t choose people who assure us the road will be hard, but there will be rewards for our efforts.

Ad astra per aspera.

Fifty-five years ago today, John F. Kennedy Jr. spoke to a join session of Congress, asking our nation to go to the moon. I was six months old at the time. This quest framed my childhood; every math and science class shaped in some way by the pursuit, arts and humanities giving voice to the fears and aspirations at the same time.

In contrast I look at my children’s experience. My son, who graduates this year from high school, has not known a single year of K-12 education when we were not at war, when terrorism was a word foreign to his day, when we didn’t worry about paying for health care because we’d already bought perma-warfare. None of this was necessary at this scale, pervading our entire culture. What kind of vision does this create across an entire society?

I will say this: these children also don’t recall a time without the internet. They are deeply skeptical people who understand how easy it is to manipulate information. What vision they have may be biased toward technology, but their vision is high definition, and they can detect bullshit within bits and pixels. They also believe we have left them no choice but to boldly go and build a Plan B as we’ve thoroughly trashed Plan A.

Sic itur ad astra. Sic itur ad futurum.

Still looking at past, present, and future…




  • Comparing Apple to BlackBerry, developer Marco Arment frets for Apple’s future ( — I can’t help laugh at this bit:

    …When the iPhone came out, the BlackBerry continued to do well for a little while. But the iPhone had completely changed the game…

    Not only is Arment worrying Apple hasn’t grokked AI as Google has, he’s ignored Android’s ~80% global marketshare in mobile devices. That invisible giant which hadn’t ‘completely changed the game.’

  • Ivanpah Solar Power Facility in the Mojave Desert caught fire (WIRED) — IMO, sounds like a design problem; shouldn’t there be a fail-safe on this, a trigger when temps spike at the tower in the wrong place? Anyhow, it looks like Ivanpah has other problems ahead now that photovoltaic power production is cheaper than buggy concentrated solar power systems.
  • Women, especially WOC, win a record number of Nebula awards for sci-fi (HuffPo) — Prizes for Novel, Novella, Novelette, Short Story and Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy works went to women, which is huge improvement given how many writers and readers are women and women of color. What does the future look like when a greater percentage of humans are represented in fiction? What does a more gender-balanced, less-white future hold for us?

Either I start writing late the night before, or I give up the pretense this is a * morning * roundup. It’s still morning somewhere, I’ll leave this one as is for now. Catch you tomorrow morning — maybe — or early afternoon.

Don’t Fuck With The Ducks Trash Talk

I have been flattened like a bug in the road by a steamroller. Holy crap Batman, that Oregon jizzle shizzled on the Devils in Old Town Tempe last night. Like a nuclear tsunami plague earthquake. This year’s ASU Sun Devils have talent, and newly instilled discipline. They are not yet deep, but they are good. So, while I had some concern as I went down to Sun Devil Stadium THREE hours before kickoff to tailgate party like a rockstar, hope abounded in spite of the fact the Ducks are who we thought they are. Unfortunately, the Ducks were, and are, the number two team in the country. Put Down The Duckies baybee.

Hey Romney, keep yer Mitts OFF of Sesame Street and PBS!

A corollary point: My local NPR radio station is KJZZ in Phoenix, and they are doing pledge week currently. My guess is all NPR stations are as well. These folks kick ass and take names in a large way. They do so because of you, their listeners and supporters. If you can, help them out. It truly is a worthy cause. And, remember, Mitt Romney would cut their hair like a weak classmate. Because that is who Mitt Romney is.

Holy fucking shit. Have you seen the Quackers on teh TeeVee? You have NO idea just how fast their skill players, on both sides of the ball, are; nor how technically sound and quick both of their lines are. I don’t know if they can beat Alabama or not, but, man, they are something.

So, as I mentioned earlier, I went to a tailgater – uh – a little ahead of the game. Times have changed since we used to lug, like ancients with pyramid building blocks, a keg up Tempe butte. Now we roll like big dogs into a covered parking deal in reserved spaces with a custom designed tailgate rig. The pictures are attached for reference. Just to be clear, this gig belongs to my old roommates from college, not me. I actually gave up my 48 yard line seats about 7-8 years ago, about the same time I gave up my cherished Suns season tickets. After a while, it was too much effort, and way too much money.

But, I gotta say, it was one hell of a good time by one and all. I would like to make a quick, no-trash, point. Look at the canopy cover on the parking area where we were tailgating. That same canopy cover covers more area than some small towns. Know what it is? Yep, that evil solar energy. That’s right, ASU and sister university U of A, are both huge into the scourge of right wing mental midgets everywhere. The array of ceiling cover for out drunken binge produces huge clean kilowatts every day of the year for one of the six largest universities in the United States. Not bad.

Cause I know y’all were concerned about teh technicalities, yes the tailgate rig had its own generator, giant flat screen teevee (hey, the NFL was on too last night!) and, most importantly, airplane like bathroom as pictured to the right. The expensive jet set bars of Scottsdale are so yesterday, I was in heaven last night.

Alright, enough of this. Suffice it to say, I am focusing on the good from last night. The bad is that the Quackers wiped the Sun Devils’ asses. And then some. And, honestly ASU did not suck so much as they just were outclassed. The final score was 43-21 but, trust me, it was NOT that close. The Ducks still have USC, Stanford and the upstart and surprisingly good Beavers of Oregon State left on their schedule. USC is better than they appear. Stanford is really sound and well coached. Oregon State is shocking people, but Mike Riley is really a good coach. But if any of those have even a candle for the Ducks, I will be shocked. I think Alabama is the one true test and it will be in the BCS Championship.

Okay, I spent my wad last night and must get on to some other matters tonight and Saturday morning. So, the college games of note, and some of these look VERY interesting, are Kansas State/West Virginia, LSU/Texass A&M and South Carolina/Florida (no, Jim White, the Gators are not really the #2 team in the country).

But, wait, there is more!! A shoutout to two friends, Masaccio and Gaius Publius, I like to jabber with them relentlessly, but I truly love and respect both. Because I have so much respect for them, I must be honest: Anybody that thinks Notre Dame is really the number five team in the nation needs their head examined. The “win” against The Tree was as tainted as the Seahawks was against the Packers with the Replacement Refs. Seriously. If the Domers were playing in Provo against the BYU Cougs, I would say watch out. But, not to worry, you still have the Okies and Trojans coming up.

In the pros, look for Skins at Gents (RGIII ain’t Alex Smith boys), Cards at probably better Vikings, Tebows at Bradys and, on MNF, Kittehs at Cubs.

We also got Beisbol in progress. El Tigres have done the universe a favor by putting the light hitting Yankees out of their misery. The Giants, tonight, roared back behind, the once long lost, Barry Zito for a convincing win over the St. Louis Cardinals, to close the series to 3-2. Still, you have to think the Cards are looking good here. I am rooting hard for the Giants, but it would be kind of neat to see a replay of the 1968 and 2006 World Series. I still get goose bumps thinking about Gibson versus McClain and Lolich in 1968. Bob Gibson was one bad ass muthafucka.

There ya go, trash it up home folk.