Where Are the Moderate Muslims?

Found this at Always On Watch (sound optional):

While I am not an atheist, the author of the video does bring up a very good point – if the radicals are the minority and the moderates are the majority, then why doesn’t the majority take care of the minority? Is it fear or is it something that the majority wishes that they had the guts to do?

I’m waiting for the fatwa to be declared against the video’s author…and maybe against me.

Where’s the Energy?

During this past week, President Bush lifted the Executive ban on offshore drilling.  The response of the market was to start easing back the price of a barrel of oil.  That’s the good news.

The bad news is that it will be some time before that oil hits the market.  Once the speculators figure this out and the Middle East has its next crisis, the price will go back up.

So what is the answer?  Well, according to our favorite Global Warming cheerleader, we would all start driving electric cars powered by renewable, non-carbon emitting power generators.  That’s right, Algore wants us to change everything in ten years from the current carbon power generation (coal, natural gas) to depend exclusively on green energy sources such as solar, wind, and geothermal.  To quote the article:

His path to a decarbonized electrical supply doesn’t surprise: more investment in solar and wind, keeping nuclear in the mix, maximizing energy efficiency and implanting carbon capture and storage for existing fossil fuel plants, plus a shift to electric cars. But Gore’s message was subtly different this time. The man who has in the past called climate change a “moral and spiritual challenge” sounded more pragmatic notes. While sounding the alarm on melting Arctic ice and strange weather, Gore also emphasized the financial toll that high gasoline prices were taking on average Americans, and the security threat posed by our increased dependence on foreign oil.

So Al want us to go green at what cost?  While I admire the thought of getting away from foreign energy supplies, the economics of this is tremendous.  Let’s just think of this for a few minutes…

One of the reasons that we use the energy supplies that we have is that they are economical.  Yes, $4.25 is a lot to pay for a gallon of gasoline, but what is the alternative? 

  • Riding a bike may not be possible for many people because they live too far from their employment, and PETA will object to riding a horse (not to mention the streetsweepers union). 
  • Electric cars are not economical nor environmentally friendly at this point in time, and there would need to be a severe upgrading of the power generation and distribution needed to support millions of electric cars plugging in for a recharge.  Can you say brownout?
  • Wind turbines have their own problems besides not turning all the time.  There are reports of noise being generated by the turbines that will annoy nearby residents (and might just induce low frequency stress in structures).
  • Solar only works during the day, so what’s going to power and charge the cars during the night?
  • At one time, steam cars were driven, but they used various sources of fuel (coal, wood, alcohol) which may not be environmentally friendly in either carbon emissions or from their source.
  • Alcohol is not economically feasible at this time without massive subsidies.  This means that your tax dollars are used to produce this fuel.  The same can be said of other bio-fuels at this time.
  • There hasn’t been a new nuclear plant (or refinery) built in the past 20-30 years due to massive costs and mind-boggling environmental regulations.
  • Mass transit public transportation in this country is a joke.  Plans to implement light rail systems died on the vine as political wrangling and mismanagement ate up the funds (at least here in Detroit).

Many pundits and detractors flame the energy companies for not developing new sources of non-carbon energy.  There is a very simple reason for that – there isn’t a profit to be made from those sources (yet) unless they charge tremendous amounts for it, and the majority of consumers will not pay extra for it.  Until there is a substantial business case for developing and using an alternative to carbon-based fuels besides the controversial Global Warming argument, it’s not going to happen. 

That is, unless Maxine Waters convinces the government to nationalize the energy industry

Frankly, I’m not counting government to do anything for us.  Just look at the political idiocy going on over what to do about the price of gas, and you’ll understand how moronic & how out of touch with their constituents our elected Congresscritters really are.  For instance:

President Bush dropped the executive ban on offshore oil and natural gas exploration last week, and House GOP leader John Boehner plans to lead a congressional delegation to Colorado and Alaska to highlight America’s abundant energy resources this week. Polls show more than two-thirds of the public support increased domestic energy exploration and production. Guess who stands in the way.

Congress has its own ban on offshore energy exploration, and the Democrats who run Congress have shown no sign that they are willing to follow Bush’s example. They have preferred to make excuses–about why the price of oil is rising, who is to blame for its rise, and why increasing domestic supply won’t do anything to ameliorate the problem.

The rest of the article is damning for the Democrats.

I’m traveling back to Germany for another three-week stint on Monday.  I wonder if I’ll see Obama’s plane flying back as I’m flying over…

The Engineer & The Programmer

A Programmer and an Engineer were sitting next to each other on a long flight from Detroit to Germany. The Programmer leans over to the Engineer and asks him if he would like to play a fun game. The Engineer just wants to take a nap, so he politely declines and rolls over to the window to catch a few winks.

The Programmer persists and explains that the game is real easy and a lot of fun. He explains, “I ask you a question, and if you don’t know the answer, you pay me $5.  Then you ask me a question, and if I don’t know the answer, I’ll pay you $5.”

Again, the Engineer politely declines and tries to get some sleep.

The Programmer, now some what agitated, says, ”OK, if you don’t know the answer you pay me $5, and if I don’t know the answer, I’ll pay you $50!”

This catches the Engineer’s attention, and he sees no end to this torment unless he plays, so he agrees to the game. The programmer asks the first question. “What’s the distance from the Earth to the Moon?”

The Engineer doesn’t say a word, but reaches into his wallet, pulls out a $5 bill, and hands it to the Programmer.

Now it’s the Engineer’s turn. He asks the Programmer “What goes up a hill with three legs and comes down on four?”

The Programmer looks at him puzzled. He takes out his laptop computer and searches all of his references. He taps into the Airphone with his modem and searches the Net and the Library of Congress. Frustrated, he sends e-mail to his coworkers – all to no avail.

After about an hour, he wakes the Engineer and hands him $50. The Engineer politely takes the $50 and turns away to try to get back to sleep.

The Programmer, more than a little miffed, shakes the Engineer, and asks, “Well, so what’s the answer?”

Without a word, the Engineer reaches into his wallet, hands the Programmer $5, and turns away to get some sleep.


At least I came out of the deal $40 richer and fully rested…

GM Downsizing (Again)

Excerpts from AP at msnbc.com:

General Motors Corp. said Tuesday it will lay off salaried workers, cut truck production, suspend its dividend and borrow $2 billion to $3 billion to weather a severe downturn in the U.S. market.

GM said the moves will raise $15 billion to help cover losses and turn around its North American operations, including $10 billion from internal cost-cutting and $5 billion from selling some assets and borrowing against others.

Chief Operating Officer Fritz Henderson said GM wants to reduce its total salaried costs in the U.S. and Canada by more than 20 percent.

A large chunk of the reduction, he said, would come from cutting health care benefits for salaried retirees over age 65. Those people would get a pension increase from the company’s overfunded pension fund to help compensate for Medicare and supplemental insurance, the company said.

Several thousand jobs will be cut through normal attrition and retirements, and through early retirement and buyout offers, Henderson said. The company could resort to involuntary layoffs but does not want to, he said.

GM said it will suspend its $1 per share annual dividend immediately, which will improve liquidity by $800 million through 2009. It’s the first time the company has suspended its dividend since 1922.

The original article also stated that executive bonuses were to be suspended and upper level manager’s salaries could be reduced. However, the latest revision omits this information. So is the pain going to be shared or not?

There is no question that GM is in trouble. While the overseas divisions are doing well, the revenue they are generating does not offset domestic losses. So now they are in a race between running out of cash and bringing new product to market. And that product must meet the expectations of the consumers with a profit to the automaker. In today’s economy, that’s going to be tough. Consumers are watching their pennies ever closer with higher costs for food & fuel.

The automotive industry is hurting, and badly. Some sources are sounding the death knell for the domestic auto industry, and I can understand why. A thread in the comments section of the above article expresses it this way:

The American United Auto Workers put themselves out of work by over-valuing the worth of its members.

The American automobile company executives put themselves out of work by insisting that their engineers design products on the cheap so that they would increase their dividends and profits, even though their products couldn’t last for a year without major repairs.

Finally, the American Automobile industry’s Boards of Directors members put themselves out of work by lobbying Washington to raise duties, fees, and tariffs on their foreign competitor’s products, hoping that the American public would be too stupid to realize that this only served to make their competition work harder to build a better-quality product while the American automobile industry was manufacturing … ahem … GARBAGE.

And I will most heartily enjoy my Toyota, thank you very much!

If the American automobile industry had as much interested in manufacturing quality products as they were in making sure that their directors retired on 10-digit pensions, maybe … just maybe … there would be more American-made cars on the road.

So don’t blame honest consumers like me, who have the freedom to make a quality-based choice. Blame the American auto industry, who was and still is so out of touch with the real world that they can’t even conceive of the possibility that they are the source of their own problems.

And there’s one other thought that occurs to me – if jobs are shipped over to China to build a cheaper product, then who in this country is going to be able to afford those products if they don’t have a job, never mind if it’s decent-paying or not? In some respects, this is a shoot yourself in the foot strategy. All a service-based economy does is move money around – and that’s what this country is moving toward.

Quite frankly, the automakers have lost sight of what is important – the customer’s needs. Without the customer, there is no revenue. The customer will go where they get the best value for their money. And I hate to say it – it’s not with the Detroit automakers right now. Maybe later, but that’s to be seen, and I hope it’s not going to be too late.