L’Shanah Tovah Tikatevu 5774

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Traditional foods served during Rosh HaShanah

May you be inscribed (in the Book of Life) for a good year.

Those words are the translation of the Hebrew in the title. Tonight, September 4th, 2013 at sunset begins the Jewish holiday of Rosh HaShanah. Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year and literally means “head of the year.”

Rabbi Benjamin Blech has an insightful article titled “Jews Don’t Say Happy New Year” on Rosh HaShanah. An excerpt quoting Kathleen Vohs, “”Happy people get joy from receiving benefits from others while people leading meaningful lives get a lot of joy from giving to others.” In other words, meaning transcends the self while happiness is all about giving the self what it wants.”

Jews and gentiles alike the world over could use a little dose of selflessness to counteract our impulse for selfishness. May there be peace in this time of upheaval as the drumbeat of war works its way through capitals around the world.

Inconsistencies Regarding Clean Energy

Watch the video above. It was presented to me as a great David versus Goliath story of “green” energy triumphing over Xcel Energy in Boulder, Colorado.

There are so many problems with the video, I simply cannot address them all.

Starting off, the wildfires in Colorado are presented as if there have never been worse fires. This is a complete falsehood that media outlets are perpetrating due to a lack of historical knowledge. Did you know that wildfires were actually worse before the European settlers? Native Americans intentionally burned large amounts of North America and did it regularly to alter the ecosystem. So much for tabula rasa regarding the indigenous people. Also there is significant evidence for the argument that settlers actually helped reduce forest fires and our movement toward naturalism in our forests have exacerbated the fires.

There are also two primary problems in “clean” energy: what is your definition of clean energy, and is the clean energy proposed a baseload power source. For all that video does to market what Boulder is doing, they ignore that coal plants are only being replaced by natural gas plants due to the reduced cost of natural gas for the power companies. As Michelle Kinman, Clean Energy Advocate for Environment California said on my show, no coal plant has been shut down in California with all of our clean energy mandates.

I suggest the entire environmental movement has been taken by other big money interests as there are hundreds of billions of dollars per year to be made in solar and wind. The subsidies for those industries are enormous and we still don’t have energy storage addressing when the sun isn’t shining and/or the wind isn’t blowing. Let alone the environmental damage happening in China (out of sight, out of mind anyone?) due to rare earth mineral mining, theft of the entire solar panel industry, and the massive pollution due to transportation of those Chinese-made solar panels all the way across the Pacific Ocean to our shores.

That’s right, are you going to turn off your television, computer, refrigerator, power charger, lights, microwave, and more when the sun goes behind a cloud or the wind dies down? This is the elephant in the room regarding non-baseload power sources. Thus we still need coal, oil, and nuclear power plants.

Everyone seems to ignore geothermal as the only clean, baseload power source that emits no pollution at all. And that is because there isn’t enough money to be made from geothermal, unlike solar and wind. 

Lastly, none of the above address the fundamental problem of a centralized power grid. Why not move to a neighborhood grid model where neighborhoods are in control and can choose what is best for them? For example, this solid oxide fuel cell could power a whole neighborhood. Or your development might choose solar panels on every roof, a windmill near the community pool, and a natural gas generator behind the pond, without ever connecting to the grid.

Think of the possibilities we can accomplish when relegating stale ideas to the trash bin and begin to creatively approach the problems we face. It is possible to reduce our reliance on hydrocarbons, but blind faith to a dogmatic approach should best be left to religion and not energy policy.

EDIT 09/03/2013 – I almost forgot another major problem with the Chinese stealing the solar panel business, a horrible defect rate of up to 22 percent. So now the environmentally damaging Chinese panels will possibly fail in two years instead of the promised 25 year lifespan. Don’t take my word for it, this information is from the New York Times.  Also, those giant solar plants in the desert are not only sucking up preciously scarce water resources, but killing endangered birds. Water birds are turning up dead. Stick with solar and wind for off-grid where buying the battery banks make sense. But grid-interconnect, no.

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Happy Labor Day 2013 USA

Credit: tristan tan / Shutterstock.com
Credit: tristan tan / Shutterstock.com

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

Regardless of arguments regarding the state of labor unions themselves, workers built our country. They have done and continue to do the physical labor of creating transportation infrastructure, building and repairing machines, and myriad other forms of labor that built and maintain our country. That work is worth honoring and celebrating.

For me as a child, Labor Day was always a bit bittersweet. I was excited for the coming school year. Yet it marked the end of summer vacation. A distinct marker of the passage of time. Events in that warm summer that would never repeat. Adventures with friends, waterskiing and swimming in a number of the 10,000 lakes, lazing around the house, the sweet smell of freshly mowed lawns, the change into autumn, and the end of the Great Minnesota Get-Together a.k.a. The Minnesota State Fair. Labor Day had the weight of marking another chapter of life passing and another one beginning.

What Will Apple Announce September 10th

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Have you heard that Apple® is having a media event on September 10, 2013 that isn’t listed anywhere on their website?

The rumblings around the Internet tubes is that we will hear about the new iPhone® 5C and iPhone 5S. There might even be an appearance by that fabled new iWatch. And for those who feel forgotten running actual Mac® computers, the newest operating system Mavericks.

Much ado is being made that the high-end iPhone 5S will come in gold and champagne colors. Can you possibly imagine a smart phone in gold or champagne maybe even graphite, does it change your life? Apparently the color isn’t just for looks as early tests show it is a far more scratch resistant material. There is also a rumor floating that the home button will be transformed into a fingerprint sensor that will replace an onscreen passcode that is available today. Plus faster internals. Are you ready and willing to spend the cash or credit?

The new iPhone 5C is rumored to be the new, low-cost, plastic shell iPhone. Instead of selling refurb or excess inventory previous generation iPhones as Apple does today through partners like AT&T and Verizon Wireless, this new phone will be current generation tech, with low capabilities, and available in a wide range of colors as plastic is easily pigmented. This low-cost iPhone isn’t exactly free but will start out roughly $300 less than current (or future iPhone 5S models) as the rumor is for it to cost $200-$300 unsubsidized.

The iWatch. Doesn’t that sound like a decidedly non-Apple type product? It does to me and I am struggling to understand Apple entering into this space instead of just leaving it to niche products like Nike’s SportWatch or Fuel+Band. According to MacRumors this iWatch device may not be released until next year but it will run a full version of the iOS system like the iPhone or iPad®, along with biometrics and a 1.5″ display. Supposedly to keep you and me interested in such a seemingly unnecessary product the price should stay under $200. I like the idea behind the Nike specialized products but don’t know anyone using one and wouldn’t necessarily buy one myself. If Apple gave me an iWatch, which I think they should, I could see it as a handy method for calendar and email notifications while my phone is put away in my briefcase. Maybe it could even be used like the Dick Tracy wrist phone or have weather and a stock ticker, too. That would make it a useful device to me.

What about the Mac lineup? The MacBook Air® was recently updated with Intel’s Haswell chips. The new, Darth Vader style Mac Pro is coming soon. But the MacBook Pro lineup and iMac are awaiting updates with announcements missing in action. I want a new iMac with Fusion drives containing at least a 256GB SSD (instead of the limited 128GB SSD Fusion base today) and the latest chips from Intel! Apple might hold back on the MBP and iMac lineup announcements until Mavericks is released. Mavericks is the latest annual operating system update for Macs from Apple that will include features like better multiple display support, more efficient memory usage through compression, maps and reminders like on your iPhone, and the ability to tag files making locating them easier.

So, the two new iPhone models running the fresh new iOS 7, a potential announcement on the iWatch, and the yearly release of another OSX named Mavericks. Are you excited, bored, don’t care, or what?