Monday, October 27, 2008

I've long been concerned about euthanasia and the slippery slope down which our society is sliding. Here in Oregon, of course, while we have rationed health care, you can legally have a doctor help you kill yourself. So much for compassion.

Anyway, thanks to Mark Shea for pointing out this good discussion on the truth about euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.

The notion that certain patients lack worthwhile lives is a judgment which Western law and medical ethics have long rejected and which no civilized society should accept. This is, moreover, no "private" decision. The question whether some citizens (doctors) should be allowed to kill other citizens (patients) is a decision with profound ramifications for the safety and well-being of the whole community, not least its most vulnerable members. The community, rightly, jealously guards its power to decide when human life may lawfully be taken and it has, again rightly, strictly limited those circumstances. The decision to allow doctors to kill patients who consent to have their lives ended is no more "private" a matter than a decision to allow plantation owners to buy and sell slaves who consent to be owned. There are, indeed, few questions which are of greater public import than the question whether to permit VAE/PAS.

Energy Independence

I've been doing a lot of thinking about "energy independence" since it's been in the news and a large part of the campaign cycle.

I'm really amused by the ads and hype that talk about this subject while showing pictures of... power plants!! It's nuts.

According to the Energy Information Administration, petroleum makes up 39.8% of our available energy. 70% of our petroleum is used for transportation, 24% goes for industrial use, 5% for residential and commercial (heating oil, propane) and 2% for electric generation. 2%! That says that power plants and petroleum have almost nothing to do with each other!

If the Chevy Volt and other electric (mostly) cars sweep the market, it would be possible for us to eliminate oil imports eventually (we currently import 52% of our oil). While this is a good goal it will take a while to get to that point, especially since the Volt's power train is aimed at cars (the biggest target), not trucks and other big vehicles that require lots of horsepower (bulldozers, diggers, etc.).

Natural gas is another story. We import about 15% of our natural gas consumption. This area is ripe to be replaced with renewable energy, except for one problem. Much of the natural gas consumption for electric generation (30%) is used that way because natural gas-fired power plants are good for peak power generation. (Natural gas plants can ramp up power output much more rapidly than coal plants or nukes, about the same as hydropower). This is a hard niche to replace with wind or solar, both of which work better as supplements.

A reasonable mix would be coal/nuclear (working to elimination of coal) for base load, with renewables to supplement, and natural gas/hydropower for peak loads.

Friday, October 24, 2008

End of an Era

After 24 years, Lute Olson has retired as UA basketball coach.

I have to say, it seems to me that (not surprisingly) things were never the same after Bobbi (his wife of many years) died. Thanks for the memories Lute!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Just got back from Courtney and Geoff's wedding down in Laguna Beach... it was beautiful! Stephen and Sissy went all out for the wedding (of course) and a wonderful time was had by all. I'm so glad I went! The weather was wonderful, and there's nothing like seeing old friends and hearing them say "I'm really glad you came!". All I could say was that I wouldn't have missed it for the world, and it's true. After the wedding I got to hang out with Stephen & Sissy and some of the family for a few hours -- so good to catch up with them.

While I was gone I also had the pleasure of hitting up a local In-N-Out Burger (of course). Mmmmmmm. The flight back (Southwest) was on a plane painted to look like Shamu! It was so cool! I also had the "pleasure" (as I found out when I got home and opened my suitcase) of having my luggage inspected by TSA! Fortunately nothing was lost or broken, and of course I didn't have any contraband!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Yes, I'm Alive

Sorry I've been MIA. Let's see... had a nice birthday -- many cards, emails, texts, etc. from family and friends -- I felt very loved! Almost makes up for being so darn old now! Grrrr.

On 9/27 I finally made the other trip for the summer I was hoping to make -- up to Mt. St. Helens. As it happened I got a beyoooooooooootiful day for it! It's an awesome sight and as it happened it was National Public Lands Day so I got in to the vistor center for free! Amazing stuff and highly recommended. The other trips I wanted to take this summer were to the Evergreen air & space museum (or whatever it's called) in McMinnville -- they have the Spruce Goose there now along with lots of other stuff (I saw the Spruce Goose back in the late 80s when it was in Long Beach); a boat trip on the Willamette River; and a trip to see Grand Coulee Dam. It doesn't look like the last will happen now that fall's here and the weather is ukky. Which it is..

Just busy with work and choirs and skating and so forth, staying busy. A week from Saturday I'll be in lovely Laguna Beach for my friend Stephen's daughter's wedding. Fun!

Here's a cool video from, check it out (thanks to Mark Shea for the link):