More good stuff on the downside of the open frontiers – 7/30

The wide open frontiers of publishing, technology, energy and space do have a down side. Not everything is rosy. Here’s a few of the articles on the unpleasant side of this amazing world we live in.

The closed energy frontier and a great quote on the role of faith in environmental issues

7/8 – The Feed – Germany Bows to Green Folly, Backs Off Fracking (link broken) – Germany closed down its nuclear reactions and increased coal-burning to offset. It relies on Russia for most of its natural gas. To those two dangerous issues, a proposal on the table will ban fracking for 7 years, locking in their hostage status with Russia as they increase their carbon output.

7/8 – Wall Street Journal – Germany’s Fracking RetreatThe Environment Minister has a legislative proposal to ban fracking for 7 years. The country imports 90% of its natural gas even though the amount underground in non-conventional fields would provide its needs for 100 years if it wanted to pull the gas out of the ground. So the country is voluntarily turning off the clean nuclear plants, increasing use of dirty coal, increasing use of costly wind power, and now chooses not to use its own gas and instead chooses to remain vulnerable to Russia. I don’t get it.

Faith as driver in energy and environmental issues. The WSJ editorial starts with this line:

Modern environmentalism is sometimes likened to a medieval religion, in which articles of faith remain binding on believers even when contradicted by reason and evidence.

I have no trouble with one’s faith driving one’s opinions and actions. I boldly declare that my faith is the foundation for most things I think, do, and believe. Make no mistake, you won’t be changing the core components of my faith with any of your logical statements.

I have long sensed that faith is a core component of some issues in the energy area. The devotion to the concept of Peak Oil, for example, is incomprehensible if analyzed from a perspective of logic and evidence. Yet if analyzed as an expression of faith, it makes sense. Peak Oil is valid because its true disciples believe as a matter of faith that it is true.


7/16 – Insider Higher Ed – Adjuncts Urge Labor Dept. Inquiry Into Working Conditions – Petition to Dept of Labor from 500 adjunct staff asked the government to start a sector wide inquiry to wage and hour issues. Claim is that paying adjunct instructors only for their in-class time puts them in the annual income range of fast-food workers and constitutes wage theft.

Apart from this petition, the comp patterns in higher ed sounds like a fairly serious strategic threat to the entire industry.

I don’t think that an inquiry looking at time cards for hours reported compared to actual hours worked would be a pleasant experience for either an individual university or for the industry.

7/25 – WSJ – Obama’s Corinthian Kill – The editorial calls the efforts by ED a drive-by shooting and contract kill.  The rolling series of ever-expanding inquiries created huge compliance costs. A 4/12 inquiry netted 85,000 pages. Expansion in 9/13 covered every document, email, report, and presentation in existence on the student loan program. In 6/13, the SEC opened a broader investigation. In 1/14, ED asked for comprehensive data on 175,000 grads (with an initial demand of 30 days to produce). That was expanded to every student at every school.

The editorial now says the feds claim they had no idea there was any indication of cash trouble.

The college gave notice to investors of liquidity trouble. An investment report said there would be cash flow trouble. ED asked for notice of any adverse actions. ED posted a link to an SEC filing disclosing low liquidity. Then ED placed the college on ‘heightened cash monitoring.’ Instead of a few days delay in funds, ED imposed a 21 day delay.

The article again says the feds now say they had no idea there was danger. Editorial closes with:

This was a contract hit, not accidental homicide.

If this is the new standard for colleges and universities, I’m guessing there are a lot of private and public schools also in danger.

Downside of technology

7/25 – Wired- The App I Used to Break Into My Neighbor’s Home – Services on the ‘net, your smart phone, and a few seconds alone with your keys is all it takes to make a copy. Two key quotes:

Parking valets suddenly require a ludicrous level of trust.


“It only takes seconds to duplicate a key.

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