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Sunday, 04 May 2008


"A Random Walk Down Mike Street?" {g}

Nice piece, rather depressing though I must say - the truth hurts.

As to a name, how about "Sunday's Open Mike" or some other variation on "Open Mike"?


Thank you Mike, now you're forgiven for the horse racing episode!

Cheers, Robin

Why not just 'Sunday Ruminations'? Has the virtue of fidelity to what it describes.


Sunday Strolls

How about 'Weekend Perambulations"?

I don't have much faith that governments will solve the energy crisis or find a solution to global warming. As you so rightly point out humans don't like long term planing and politicians are more guilty of this than others preferring only to think in 3-4 year time spans. It will be industry that will approach the situation on the pragmatic basis of long term profitability and viability.

My partner and I are considering going self sufficient in our energy needs. At first when you look at the costs in terms of today's prices the economic benefits are negligible, but look at them in the light of what energy will cost in 5 or 10 years time and it becomes a much different proposition. At the moment we think we will have a hybrid system based around solar-panels and a wind turbine selling our surplus power back to the grid. Our biggest worry is water. With diminishing rain falls (where we live it has fallen by 50% over the last 20 years) and increasing temperatures ( 47 degrees Celsius over summer - or to put that in perspective what is called in cookery books a low heat in an oven) we have our work cut out in looking for a solution.


I think I prefer ...

"Sunday Soliloquy"

"Open Mike" is *MUCH* cleverer than my idea.

I'm changing my vote.

pax / Ctein

I used to do a thread on DPR called "Sunday Word" It was a tongue and cheek response to "The Sunday Bird"

"Open mike..."
short, sweet and to the point


I agree with you in part. It probably is foolish to think that guvmint will solve our energy problems. But, so far as I can tell, only guvmint can or will fund the kind of ground-breaking scientific research that will lead to brakthroughs 10 years from now that may help in that regard.

Private industry does not fund pure research. Every breakthrough in applied science that private industry comes up with depends entirely on the previous decades' worth of knowledge that has built up in society.

They would not have developed the transistor without thousands of obscure graduate students doing peculiar research in solid state physics most of which never saw the light of day.

One thing that humans do is to throw out the baby with the bathwater, and then are surprised when the drain is clogged.

Glad you liked my suggestion, I feel honoured to have even a phrase of mine gracing TOP's hallowed pages. Keep up the good work Mike, Ctein et al.


Dear Paul and Robert,

Sometimes there is Door Number 3. The cost of solar power was driven down by an order of magnitude 30 years ago by neither technological breakthrough nor long-term business pragmatism. A clever governmental appeal to short-term greed did the trick.

When the Carter administration came into office the price of solar power was around $30 a watt (if memory serves; I'm in the right ballpark which is sufficient for this story). The administration wanted to drive the cost down to the point of being competitive with traditional power sources, which meant under one dollar per watt. So they instituted a pump-priming program.

The concept is very simple. Guarantee the industry a market that steadily increases as they drop the price of power. They identified specific markets where high-priced cells would still be cost-effective and they promised the solar cell industry that the government would purchase $X worth of cells at $Y per watt to fill those markets. For example, an early use of high-priced cells was for marine navigation buoys, where even at 10s of dollars a watt solar cells were a very cost-effective solution to the power problem.

The plan was that over two administrations, they would be able to get the cost down by a factor of 30. By the time Carter lost the White House, the program was a year ahead of schedule. Prices were down to a few dollars a watt.

The Reagan administration killed the program as part of its economic policy. And the rapid decline in the price of solar power stopped.

~ pax \ Ctein
[ please excuse any word salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital restorations http://photo-repair.com


Thanks, interesting history that.

In 30 years, I've worked for small and medium-sized privately owned companies, large multi-national corporations, and now lastly an arm's length branch of the federal government (Cdn). When I hear people talk about the efficiency of the private sector, all I can do is laugh.

"When I hear people talk about the efficiency of the private sector, all I can do is laugh."

God, I second that. Every time I hear that, it's like, don't these people WORK for corporations? Some of the corporations I've worked for are like being stuck inside a Kafka novel. But with benefits.

Mike J.

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