Friday, October 28, 2005

The DEW Line for October27, 2005

THE ELEPHANT ROLLS OVER

...do we then have to roll over? Or, in this case, if the elephant messes with its clock, do we have to go along with it too?

At this writing, three provinces–Ontario, Manitoba and New Brunswick–say they’ll go along with the US plan to extend Daylight Savings Time by four weeks, starting in 2007. Quebec is rumoured to be close to the same decision. Saskatchewan doesn’t do daylight saving at all. No word yet on what the rest of Canada will do.

Proponents say the change will save energy and keep us in synch with our mega trading partner, the US, on everything from timed deliveries to TV schedules.

But the Conservation Council of Ontario says any energy savings would be minimal, and Michael Downing, author of Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time, told the CBC that energy use will actually go up. "If you give people more sunlight at the end of the day, they’ll [drive their cars to malls] to spend money."

Opponents say the change will send children to school in the dark, making them less safe, while the Airlines Industry worries it will put international flight schedules out of synch with the rest of the world. Computer programmers will have to prepare to send out software updates that recognize the change.

More here.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The DEW Line for October 20, 2005

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

Promosexual: One who nauseatingly promotes their new movie and their new love interest.

–From the Canadian Expatriates blog.

More of this week's column here

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The DEW Line for October 13, 2005

FILL YOUR TANK FOR $1.74

Ever wonder how other oil-rich places are handling their "misfortune windfall?"

According to MSNBC, Venezuela (world’s sixth largest producer, at 2.9 million barrels of oil a day), has raised taxes and royalties on foreign-owned oil companies, and has used this money to reduce fuel prices not only in Venezuela, but for neighbouring nations in South American and the Caribbean. A gallon of gas in Caracas costs 14 cents. Four billion US dollars of the money has gone to social programs and public works programs that provide jobs to the country’s poor.

In addition to getting a dividend check, Alaskans don’t pay a state income tax or a statewide sales tax. State residents off the beaten track, however, "have seen heating oil prices soar and gasoline rise to about $6 a gallon, about what Norwegians pay.

But Norwegians aren’t complaining. "This revenue provides the tiny country’s pension system and other social benefits, including full college scholarships and universal health care. United Nations studies have found it to be the world’s best place to live, for five years running, with high incomes and low income inequality among its residents."

More of this week's column here.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The DEW Line for October 6, 2005

AND NOW, THE CATCH...

Is Ralph Klein poised to announce a tax cut? And will this tax cut benefit the wealthiest Albertans more than the rest of us slobs? And is that $400 egalitarian oil bribe a decoy/distraction to make us look the other way? Just asking.

More here.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The DEW Line for September 29, 2005

ONE FOR RALPH

Ralph Klein says nuclear power should not be used to extract oil from the tar sands, as proposed by a French company, except as a last resort. The Journal reports, "Klein says he would consider nuclear power only after other options including wind, solar and hydroelectrical power are exhausted."

The DEW Line isn’t completely anti-nuke. The new pebble-bed reactors are darned impressive. But we agree it’s a last resort, and wonder if the premier’s stand means the province will be promoting more alternative energy. Solar, wind, and other options are gaining in popularity due to the insane rise in oil prices. It makes sense to promote more research, development and manufacturing of solar and wind products in oil-rich Alberta, not only to get a share of this rapidly increasing market, but to ensure a good economy for the future of the province, when oil will be either redundant or unavailable.

There are some exciting things happening with solar, higher-efficiency, thinner cells that are cleanly manufactured, solar coatings and even solar fabrics that give new meaning to the phrase "power-dressing." You could recharge your cellphone or laptop or power a lamp from your elbow or an outlet in your pocket. These things are performing well in prototype stage, and just need political will and consumer demand to bring them to market.


As for wind, there are now new portable, bird-safe windmills ready to market–small, unobtrusive and easy to install. Given how damned windy it has been here, this makes a helluva lot of sense.

The rest of the column here.

Monday, September 26, 2005

The DEW Line for September 22, 2005

THIRTY PACKS OF SMOKES, 200 CUPS OF TIM HORTON’S COFFEE OR...

How are you planning to spend your 300 bucks in Alberta oil profit? Most of our friends answer with a variation of this: on gasoline/heating bills. If they are representative, it means most of this money will go back to the energy companies. Hmmm.....

BEIJING’s DESIRE

According to Investors Business Daily, the Americans aren’t the only ones eying our tar sands with lust and envy. China is also angling for access and a bigger role in overall oil and gas development in Alberta. But China, where mouthy bloggers still get thrown into jail and the parents of executed prisoners are often required to pay for the bullets used to kill them, isn’t satisfied with efforts to procure more fossil fuels. The Beijing government is also investing heavily in nuclear power and clean, environmentally sound energy sources such as solar and wind power with an eye not just to meeting China’s growing energy needs, but to marketing alternative energy technology to the rest of the world.

THE MILE HIGH CLUB IS FOR WIMPS

Canada’s expertise in oil, gas and mineral exploration should assure it a prominent place in the lunar base that NASA announced last week. As the Globe and Mail points out, the stunning engineering of the Canadarm will also give us an upper hand on similar moon-based projects. Meanwhile, there are already archtecture schools teaching lunar architecture, and Hans-Jurgen Rombaut of the Rotterdam Academy of Architecture in the Netherlands has designed a lunar hotel projected to open around 2050. Spaceref.ca says, the hotel ”will provide tourists space to indulge in ‘low-gravity games’ such as indoor mountaineering... and ‘flying’ using special suits with bat-like wings.”

You might one day be able to honeymoon ON the moon, but only in artificial gravity conditions. French scientific writer Pierre Kohler, who has devoted much time and brain power to this question, says sex would be possible but very difficult in low-gravity or weightless conditions. Paraphanalia like elastic belts, velcro straps and two-body sleeping bags would be needed to keep you and your partner from floating away from each other. And not all positions are meant for zero-gravity. "The classic so-called missionary position, which is so easy on earth when gravity pushes one downwards, is simply not possible," Kohler says.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“Five years of Prohibition have had, at least, this one benign effect: they have completely disposed of all the favorite arguments of the Prohibitionists. None of the great boons and usufructs that were to follow the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment has come to pass. There is not less drunkenness in the Republic, but more. There is not less crime, but more. There is not less insanity, but more. The cost of government is not smaller, but vastly greater. Respect for law has not increased, but diminished.” H. L. Mencken

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The DEW Line for September 15, 2005

AND I’M MODEST TOO

According to Roy Macgregor in the Globe and Mail, in The Secret Mulroney Tapes: Confessions of a Prime Minister by Peter C. Newman, Brian Mulroney is firmly convinced of his place in Canadian history:
"By the time history is done looking at this and you look at my achievements as opposed to any others, certainly no one will be in Sir John A.’s league–but my nose will be a little ahead of most in terms of achievements. Nobody has achievements like this, Peter. I can say that to you objectively. You cannot name a Canadian prime minister who has done as many significant things as I did, because there are none."

The jury is still out on that one... oh, wait, the jury’s back. Over on the Calgary Grit blog readers are voting on Greatest Prime Minister, and Mr. Mulroney didn’t even make the semifinals. (At the moment, Wilfred Laurier is leading King, Trudeau, and MacDonald.)

More of this week's column here.