Friday, December 14, 2007

I like sarcasm...

It is my favorite form of humor.  And the onion drips with it.

This article however, "Factual Error Found On Internet", is the Crème de la Crème.  Very funny, very very funny.  It is an old one, but funny still.

On the other hand, there is some factual information out there - I enjoyed this poster from Germany.  Thought provoking.



Anonymous Lance said....

Wow, the I first clicked on the link to the German poster about 5 minutes ago and it is still loading... is it really worth the wait Tom?

Fri Dec 14, 11:33:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Ben in Boston said....


The poster is a great idea in theory. The problem is that for a bus, everyone has to want to go along the same route, and a bike is not a useful option in bad weather.

I personally love that people are trying to find ways to reduce pollution and congestion by removing cars. The trouble is that they don't often stop to realize that there's a reason that cars are so popular in the first place.


Fri Dec 14, 11:34:00 AM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Lance - I have no problem loading it - it is a small image... try again maybe?

Ben - ever been to the Netherlands? It rains a lot. They bike every day.

I personally solved my commuting problem permanently... I work at home now :)

Lots of things that are bad are popular - that doesn't make them good.

But yes, I could not foresee giving up my car - but in a city - definitely. I'd rather take the train to New York and use the subway to get around than drive (I've done both - driving is really quite a hassle).

Fri Dec 14, 11:39:00 AM EST  

Blogger Don said....

I just turned the page to start Chapter 7 in Jonathan Lewis' CBO book. The first line in the chapter begins:

"A lot of misinformation exists on the Internet about histograms"

Made me chortle.

Fri Dec 14, 05:19:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Mette said....

There is no such thing as bad weather - just a matter of correct and sensible clothing :-)

People here in Denmark bike a lot - and just have a shower when we get to work!

Private cars should be forbidden in the middle of the big cities - or you should pay toll for entrance - like in Norweigian capital Oslo and many other cities.

Public transportation is good - walking and biking is good - and healthy as well

Fri Dec 14, 05:39:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Public transport is lovely... until one uses it oneself! Maybe it's just me, but whenever I use it, it's:
1. Late (or doen't turn up at all)
2. Standing room only
3. Dirty
4. Invariably populated with folk who smell funny
5. Invariably populated with folk who play their favourite music on cell phones/radios/i-pods/whatever - if only they'd play Beatles or Zappa!

I eagerly await the affordable & reliable hydrogen fuel cell - then I can use my car without guilt or impunity!

Sat Dec 15, 02:58:00 AM EST  

Blogger Gary Myers said....

"I eagerly await the affordable & reliable hydrogen fuel cell - then I can use my car without guilt or impunity!"
But where does the hydrogen come from ? Split out of water molecules using energy from a great bug power station.
I think Tom's got the right solution. Now if only more businesses would realise that people can work as easily at home as they can in the office. Obviously it isn't appropriate for all work, (especially five days a week) but it would do more for pollution than a lot of these pie in the sky solutions.

Sat Dec 15, 03:26:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

"But where does the hydrogen come from? Split out of water molecules using energy from a great big power station?"

I suppose so. But maybe it'd still be better than bizillions of gasoline-powered vehicles each acting (often) as an outrageously poorly-configured and, so, woefully inefficient powerstation?

Mon Dec 17, 05:30:00 AM EST  

Blogger Gary Myers said....

"But maybe it'd still be better than bizillions of gasoline-powered vehicles each acting (often) as an outrageously poorly-configured and, so, woefully inefficient powerstation?"

Actually it is the generation of electricity that is 'woefully inefficient'. Burning fuel to boil water to drive turbines to work as a dynamo generating electricity is more wasteful than actually using directly in an engine.
Hydrogen fuel cells are a great solution to local air pollution around cities. Unfortunately, the problem has changed before the solution ever got off the ground.

Mon Dec 17, 02:27:00 PM EST  

Blogger Joel Garry said....

A while back, Ford came up with a better idea - plate radiators with catalysts to reduce smog-forming pollutants in the surrounding air, make each car generate net negative pollution.

Regulators wouldn't give them smog credit for the idea, so it went away.

I saw a cutaway hydrogen powered minivan at a car show - the hydrogen tank was right under the rear passenger butts.

I drove a fuel-cell car, it was notably... carlike.

From what I've seen (which is necessarily skewed), small groups of workers at a place of business work much better than individuals at home. Even many who work at home wind up at hotspots - haven't you noticed?

Mon Dec 17, 05:50:00 PM EST  

Blogger Alberto Dell'Era said....

> Burning fuel to boil water to drive turbines to work as a dynamo generating electricity is more wasteful than actually using directly in an engine.

Not true - big power plants are extremely efficient in the thermo- chemical->mechanical energy transformation, and then mechanical->electrical, and electrical->mechanical, are energy conversions close to 100% efficiency.

A car engine is extremely inefficient, it wastes a lot of energy as heat.

Hybrid cars of the "serial" type (thermo engine charging the batteries, that in turn provide power to the electrical engine) are better, since the thermo engine rotates at constant speed, optimized for maximum efficiency; yet they can't use the full range of tricks used by big power plants (for budget constraints and physical limitations of e.g. weight).

Not to mention that big power plants can efficiently and economically use anti-pollution filters that are impossible to use in a car. And can be solar, windmills, etc etc

Mon Dec 17, 06:46:00 PM EST  

Anonymous doug c said....

Big power plants are no where NEAR 100% efficient.. more like 36% - remember, still a lot of coal and oil plants out there. (About 50% of all power?) Sorry, but the technology is NOT there yet. The West Wing TV series did a nice show on this years ago where they pointed out that if you wanted to run the U.S. on wind power, you would need to cover Arizona, Utah, Nevata, and New Mexico entirely with turbines. Yes, things have probably gotten a bit better. Every other form of power has a problem as well. I always point this out to the hydrogen folks - where you going to get the hydrogen? There is NO free hydrogen on the planet. Things can improve and probably have, and maybe even will - but no way is hydrogen a simple solution right now. Have a look at for your 100% efficieny figure. Look up the Queisser-Shockley limit of efficiency for solar as well - that technology also has limits.

Tue Dec 18, 01:13:00 AM EST  

Blogger Adellera said....

> Big power plants are no where NEAR 100% efficient..

Sorry, the 100% efficiency was meant to be associated with the "mechanical->electrical, and electrical->mechanical" conversions only, I botched the syntax. Those are conversions between high-quality energy (sometimes named "low entropy" energy) and are, indeed, near to 100% efficiency. The thermic->mechanical conversion is far from being 100% efficient, and it's the same conversion type used by car engines and big power plants (albeit technologically different, they both convert fuel in heat as a first step).

My point was that big power plants have an efficiency much, much closer to the max thermodynamic theoretical efficiency than cars. 36% is probably very close to the max limit, a car has an efficiency much, much lower than that.

Not to mention that the heat produced by big power plants, (100-36)% of the energy inflow, can be used e.g. to warm buildings (it's quite common in Northern Europe), the one produced by cars is wasted...but that's another story.

Tue Dec 18, 05:29:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Titanium disilicide seems to be the "hydrogen from water" superstar catalyst of the moment: cheap to make and seems to come up with the goods.

Tue Dec 18, 09:46:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Sokrates said....

I hope we all go by car so the weather will be getting better - just in case we want to go by bike sometimes

Tue Dec 18, 06:32:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

CH 0 - I 1

Thu Dec 20, 08:13:00 AM EST  

Blogger Arun Mathur said....

Hi Tom,

Your post was a good read. In fact, I read a nice article on the same topic from a site called FactCheckEd:

However, the link you provided has put the Brady Bunch theme song in my head for an indefinite period of time :)

Best regards,

Thu Dec 20, 09:30:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

You grew a beard.. when did you do that? Happy Holidays.

Sun Dec 23, 01:56:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Wow, was that profile pic 'shopped? Or have you really grown a beard?

Happy Holidays!!

Sun Dec 23, 02:52:00 AM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Yes, I am bearded - since August :)

Sun Dec 23, 10:05:00 AM EST  

Blogger Alberto Dell'Era said....

But remember that unless the beard is acknowledged by Wikipedia, you have no beard at all ;)

Sun Dec 23, 05:44:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Is that Santa Claus with the beard?


Is that when you started working from home? You might scare customers with the beard lol jk...

Looks good... You look like those computer geeks from the late 70's/early 80's like Steve Wosniak and Paul Allen? Oh wait, you kind of look like Larry Ellison too.

Sun Dec 23, 09:36:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Duke Ganote said....

This looks local to you...

Tue Dec 25, 11:47:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

A guy called Tom once grew a beard.
Some folk thought it made him look weird!
Still, it saves him buying razors,
And continues to amaze us!
But it'd be better, for sure, if it were sheared!

Thu Dec 27, 06:53:00 AM EST  

Blogger Anthony C said....

I have been thinking about importance of associating creditability score (subjective, mind you) for news mining.

For example, on Google News, why do I want read a U.S.-based news from a Chinese news agency website? I probably trust the neutrality of over

Fri Dec 28, 11:26:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Duke Ganote said....

These guys' credibility score is pretty low:
I'm not trying all that till I retire! Till then, it stays fairly short ( 1" ).

Fri Dec 28, 11:44:00 AM EST  

Blogger Alberto Dell'Era said....

Further on thermodynamic efficiency:
Fuel Cell vs. Electric cars
(from Reddit)

Fri Dec 28, 06:28:00 PM EST  

Anonymous doug c said....

"Electrolysis" 70% efficiency is somewhat misleading because it leaves out the 33% efficiency and CO2 producing methods to get the electricity to do the electrolysis in the first place.

Sat Dec 29, 04:01:00 AM EST  

Blogger Phil Miesle said....

Take a wood gasification plant and either burn the resulting methane through a gas turbine to generate electricity or else convert it to methanol which can then be used in a flex-fuel vehicle.

The waste heat from these two processes can be used to heat your water/house and should that be hot enough the wast heat can be used to keep your wood dry (or dumped into your greenhouse). Ash can be used for re-fertilizing the forest.

Still not as carbon-friendly as wind/solar (need to factor in fuel transportation and processing in addition to manufacturing costs) but far more dependable.

Now, if only I could get the time to design and patent such a system :)

Sun Dec 30, 07:38:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

my mom said you had a beard but i didn't believe her. nice.

- liz

Tue Jan 01, 12:06:00 AM EST  

Blogger Joel Garry said....

Carlsbad, CA is considering putting in a desalination plant that uses the pumps from the ocean-water-cooling of an existing power plant.

Of course, it turns out the newer regulations for entrainment and impingement and air pollution controls make it cheaper for the power utility to shut down the plant, replacing it with an air-cooled model.

It's always something. Or twice as much. Or no one properly calculates life-cycle costs.

word: tblwem

Tue Jan 01, 11:41:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Josh Wilson said.... Motorcycles? Too bad.

Wed Jan 02, 11:19:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Tom - you siad 'let me have feedback'.

Okay, get rid of that beard!!!

Wed Jan 02, 03:00:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

The image is nice, but it lies a bit. It uses different focal lengths and thus perspectives (look at people size and buildings...). The car image uses a longer focal length, and thus "enlarges the issue" (people are bigger than in the other two images, cars are broad as the bus and half the lenght...). The bus image uses the shortest focal length and makes everything smaller - even the bus. The bike one is more or less in the middle.
It's not true that an image never lies ;)

Thu Jan 03, 04:22:00 AM EST  

Blogger Aman Sharma said....

Happy New year sir!
Abut the beard,ok feedback is that you look same like you should be 'you' so in 2008,you remove that beard.:)

Thu Jan 03, 06:19:00 AM EST  

Blogger Doug Cowles said....

As to wood gasification - any solution that relies on wood is a no-go - would rely on massive deforestation. You will burn wood faster than you can grow it.

Fri Jan 04, 11:23:00 PM EST  

Blogger Phil Miesle said....

Doug, relying on any one source of fuel (such as wood) is problematic at best. There is no "silver bullet".

However, coppicing trees (willow, poplar) along with genetic modification of trees to have them take up carbon more rapidly has potential to dramatically improve crop yields.

In addition to finding new energy sources, we need to work on conservation and effiency. The wood gasification technique makes efficient use of the energy by using it multiple times.

That said, I'm a big nuclear fan but not how we currently do nuclear...we waste so much energy by not burning the uranium in a fast reactor for "reasons of security" (this technique involves weapons-grade uranium and plutonium during the transtion to what would ultimately be a product with a 200 year half-life.)

But we seem to have diverged somewhat from the "bike/bus/car" photos, eh?

Get on yer bikes!

Sun Jan 06, 07:20:00 AM EST  

Blogger Doug Cowles said....

Pebble Bed Reactors are much better. :-) To bring this back to the original topic - I would suggest people have a look at this -
Also I would note than when I was working in Long Island, companies deliberately had different shifts to keep congestion off the highway. (LIE) Why not keep people off the highway altogether and have most of the staff work at home. Busses and bicycles are not as convenient as cars.

Sun Jan 06, 05:27:00 PM EST  

Blogger Phil Miesle said....

RUF looks similar to what was called "Sky Taxi" (see ) but RUF looks like a more comprehensive solution...nice!

Pebble bed reactors aren't necessarily in conflict with fast reactors...basic point is that nuclear reactor technology has come a long way and we (as a society) need to get over the 1970's already!

Mon Jan 07, 07:17:00 AM EST  


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