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Energy, China and Helium-3

1:21 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

Helium – flicky creative commons

Of all the traits of capitalism and capitalists — greedy, self centered, cold,mean, devoid of compassion — the one trait that has not been mentioned is that for the most part they are chicken shit cowards. As this piece from Raw Story via The Guardian says:

The question is, why haven’t the moon’s resources been thoroughly plundered by now? Why hasn’t it provided us with the energy necessary to colonize the rest of space? I’ll tell you why: it’s because capitalism is weak and timid.

We know this to be true since no one on Wall Street will do anything without government guarantees. So it takes government to do those things that capitalism refuses to do. Those items that do not have have a guarantee of immediate returns on investment. Like building roads and transportation systems and putting people into space and education.

Energy will be the greatest need now and into the future and our attempts and generating have been increasingly fraught with ecological  impacts that are increasingly more disastrous, as the Fukushima reactors are showing. Add to this the ongoing pollution and carbon  dioxide greenhouse gases intensifying climate change. Fusion reactors of the type usually envisioned have been promised for well over 60 years and are still only a dream since there too many obstacles to make them practical. Solar and wind farms are only a stop gap measure in my and others minds.

A search for a clean and safe energy source is needed but no one seems to be interested in finding one..that is until now. This is where Helium-3 comes in. From Wikipedia.

Helium-3 (He-3) is a light, non-radioactiveisotope of helium with two protons and one neutron. It is rare on Earth, and it is sought for use in nuclear fusion research. The abundance of helium-3 is thought to be greater on the Moon (embedded in the upper layer of regolith by the solar wind over billions of years),[1] though still low in quantity (28 ppm of lunar regolith is helium-4 and from one ppb to 50 ppb is helium-3),[2][3] than the solar system’s gas giants (left over from the original solar nebula).

From io9:

Helium-3 is transmitted with solar winds, but Earth’s magnetic field pushes the isotope away. Thanks to its negligible magnetic field, the moon doesn’t suffer from this fate, allowing Helium-3 to build up in regolith, the layer of rock and dust covering the moon. The existence of Helium-3 on the moon is verified by samples retrieved on Apollo and Luna missions. Geologist-turned-astronaut Harrison Schmitt acquired and analyzed over 200 pounds of lunar rock acquired during 1972′s Apollo 17 mission.

Helium-3 exists on our Earth, but in extremely small quantities. Tritium (hydrogen with a total of two neutrons, or deuterium with an extra neutron if you prefer) naturally decays into Helium-3 over time. Helium-3 is also created, oddly enough, as a byproduct of nuclear weapons testing. The United States’ Helium-3 reserves are just shy of 30 kilograms, much less than the theoretical 25 tons of helium-3 necessary to provide for the energy needs of a country our size for one year.

Helium-3 reactors can be clean and simpler and restively non-hazardous. One way is to use Helium-3 in the nuclear fusion reactor:

Read the rest of this entry →

China, America and The Matrix

7:50 am in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

The Matrix - Funny-Leo Flickr

I don’t do much political writing myself. Nor do I cite many political writers. When I do it is usually to bring to the attention of others what they might not be completely aware of. This entry by  Paul Craig Roberts on his website comparing the US with China and citing Ron Unz of The American Conservative is one which I feel needs a further look at.

In it he shows with examples – what many of us already know – that it is America and NOT China that has been embracing tyranny, lawlessness and injustice. And how China has embraced the economic benefits of most to the majority of it’s citizens, where as we here have only been making life better for the elites.

For some time I have had in mind a realistic comparison of the two countries instead of the standard propagandistic comparison, but Ron Unz has beat me to the task (see, China’s Rise, America’s Fall and Chinese Melamine and American Vioxx: A Comparison ). Unz provides a chance for an education. Don’t miss it.

Unz has done an excellent job. Moreover, he cleverly understates the case for China and overstates the case for America so as not to unduly arouse the flag-wavers. Nevertheless, the conclusion is clear: The Chinese are less threatened by their “extractive elites” than Americans are by their counterparts.

Moreover, it is America’s, not China’s, extractive elites who are bombing, occupying, and droning other countries. As the bumper sticker says, “Be nice to America or we will bring democracy to your country.”

As for economic management, there is no comparison. Unz reports that during the past three decades China has achieved the most rapid rate of economic development in human history. Moreover, most of the new income has flowed into the pockets of Chinese workers, not to the one percent. While American real median incomes have been stagnant for decades, incomes for Chinese workers have doubled every decade for three decades. A recent World Bank report attributes more than 100 percent of the drop in global poverty rates to China’s rise.

In the last decade China’s industrial output quadrupled. China now produces more automobiles than America and Japan combined and accounted for 85 percent of the increase in the world’s production of cars in the past decade.

In 1978 the American economy was 15 times larger than China’s. In the next few years China’s GDP is expected to exceed that of the US.

And that we have jailed and tortured and invaded more people and countries than they ever could. As well as engaged in activities that even the worst dictators of the 20th century have. Read the rest of this entry →

Capitalism – The China Connection.

5:15 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

I came upon this link to an article in the UK Telegraph concerning the use of China manufacture parts in our weapons.

The US Senate Armed Services Committee said its researchers had uncovered 1,800 cases in which the Pentagon had been sold electronics that may be counterfeit.

In total, the committee said it had found more than a million fake parts had made their way into warplanes such as the Boeing C-17 transport jet and the Lockheed Martin C-130J “Super Hercules”.

It also found fake components in Boeing’s CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter and the Theatre High-Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) missile defence system.

Well what’s wrong with this ?

In Chinese bazaars, “military grade” microchips are openly advertised, although these chips are often commercial chips that have been modified and relabelled.

Military grade chips are designed to withstand far greater extremes of temperature and humidity, and there are fears that the fake Chinese parts could suddenly fail.

“We cannot tolerate the risk of a ballistic missile interceptor failing to hit its target, a helicopter pilot unable to fire his missiles, or any other mission failure because of a counterfeit part,” said John McCain, the senior Republican Senator on the committee.

Experts said the problems are not new, and have dated from a decision in the 1990s by the Clinton administration to cut costs by asking the Pentagon to buy “off-the-shelf” electronics, rather than designing its own systems.

As electronics manufacturing migrated to China, the US has been less and less able to control the quality of its military hardware. Some of the fake chips are bought by the Pentagon on the open market in order to maintain its fleet of older vehicles, which have outdated circuitry. These chips are often salvaged by Chinese scrap merchants from the dumps of electronic waste that have accumulated in the south of the country.

In 2008, an investigation by the US Commerce department found nearly 7,400 incidents of fake electronics in military hardware, while in 2005, internal Pentagon documents suggested that there had been equipment malfunctions because of fake parts.

The problem is that the parts are far too often of poor quality. And I can tell you from my own personal experience that this is the case. So much so that I now shy away from nearly anything that is made in China unless it has gone under very rigorous testing. But this is getting more and more difficult to do.  I have been looking for some power tools for myself. In the process I read any all consumer reviews that are posted. In fact I won’t even consider an unknown product/manufacturer unless it has been reviewed.   And far too many of the products I had looked at had two things in common. That they were made in China and had a large reputation for early failure.  IE they fell apart.

I remember when Japanese products started to show up here. The general conscientious was that they were of much inferior quality to ours. But this attitude very quickly was changed as within a few years their products quality improve markedly. To the point that by the late 1960s were considered in some areas to be superior to ours.   And as we all know eventually took over the market. Now China may get it’s act together at some point. I do hope so.

Now this does not mean that American equivalents are not available, they are in a lot of cases.  But they are often price prohibitive for most people to purchase.  Not because or just because they are priced so high do to greed on the part of the manufacturers. I would say that in the majority of the cases this is not so. NO…it’s because people do not make enough to begin with. That incomes are so low all they can afford is the junk made in off shore slave labor sweat shops.

There simply is no reason for this except that those who import and rebrand and sell this stuff care not on bit about what they sell, the people who buy it and how it’s made. All they care about is how much they can get for it. Totally bereft of any personal integrity what so ever.   So completely self centered and greed based they would embarrass Al Capone, Pretty Boy Floyd and Harold Hill.

Before writing this post I was watching RT news and there was an interview with a young lady that suggested that maybe we needed to return to the days when for a corporation to be chartered, it had to prove it was of value to the society. I think she was right.

As a side note – I quite often purchase radio and electronic parts from the auction sites that are Russian made of the Soviet era and have rarely (if ever) been disappointed in the quality and useability of them. Finding them often to be conservatively rated.   I have use these parts in a number of projects and they perform beyond expectation.