April 18, 2009

WSJ Documents ‘the Galt Effect’ ….

Filed under: Economy,Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:57 am

…. on doctors (HT Instapundit).

Imagine that. More doctors are deciding that participating in the government-run system (i.e., Medicare) isn’t worth their time and trouble. So they’re opting out, i.e., providing fewer subsidized services to the government (compared to what the market will pay for their services. This is just one of very many available forms of, to use the current shorthand, “going Galt.”

In LibLand, this is all right-wing conspiratorial fiction and doesn’t “prove” anything — not until every doctor is interviewed and the exact number of doctors engaging in these subversive practices is identified. Uh-huh.

Solar Energy: It’s Not Easy Being Green; AP Fails, As Press Usually Does, to Note Cost

PVpanels0409.jpgGosh, I thought you could just throw up a few solar panels, plug into the grid, and our energy problems would be solved in an environmentally perfect way. (/sarc)

Of course not.

Early this morning, Rita Beamish of the Associated Press reported that solar panel projects are running into problems with water availability and efforts to protect endangered species. But, as usual for a report on energy production, she fails to tell us how much the energy produced from such installations, if they ever go active, would cost.

Here are a few selected paragraphs from Beamish’s report:

Solar finds it hard to squeeze water from desert

A westward dash to power electricity-hungry cities by cashing in on the desert’s most abundant resource – sunshine – is clashing with efforts to protect the tiny pupfish and desert tortoise and stinginess over the region’s rarest resource: water.

Water is the cooling agent for what traditionally has been the most cost-efficient type of large-scale solar plants. To some solar companies answering Washington’s push for renewable energy on vast government lands, it’s also an environmental thorn. The unusual collision pits natural resources protections against President Barack Obama’s plans to produce more environmentally friendly energy.

….. The solar hopefuls are encountering overtaxed aquifers and a legendary legacy of Western water wars and legal and regulatory scuffles. Some are moving to more costly air-cooled technology – which uses 90 percent less water – for solar plants that will employ miles of sun-reflecting mirrors across the Western deserts.

….. The National Park Service is worried about environmental consequences of solar proposals on government lands that are administered by the Bureau of Land Management. It says it supports the solar push but is warning against water drawdowns, especially in southern Nevada. In the Amargosa Valley, the endangered, electric-blue pupfish lives in a hot water, aquifer-fed limestone cavern called Devil’s Hole.

….. Companies are wrestling with routes for long-distance transmission lines and habitat for the threatened desert tortoise. They also are worried about a proposal being developed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., for a Mojave national monument, which could put up to 600,000 acres off-limits alongside already protected park and military lands. It could affect at least 14 solar and five wind energy proposals.

Nowhere in any of this does Beamish give us information about how much energy installations such as these might produce, or what the cost of producing that energy would be.

Solar energy advocates tend to downplay, and the press tends to ignore, the massive amounts of land their facilities would demand, and the resources needed to keep solar panels operating efficiently.

Ultimately, these and other factors cause the cost of generating energy via solar to be far higher than that involving fossil fuels. One analysis (imperfect, to be sure; if anyone has a better one, let me know) shows that solar is “5-20 times more expensive than the cheapest source of conventional electricity generation, although …. (it) may only be 3-5 times the electricity tariff that utility customers pay.”

As to getting solar to be “economically viable,” the author of this post cuts to the chase in its final paragraph:

The bottom line is that despite the lower PV panel costs; we are still not at parity with hydrocarbon fuels such as coal and oil. Carbon based taxing or alternative energy stimulus and more investment into alternative energy is required to improve the economics of solar and wind.

So if the economics don’t work, governments are going to have to force them to work through taxation. At least the author is honest about it. It would be nice if the establishment press would shine a bit of light on comparative costs every once in a while.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Positivity: Teen amputee told he would be bed-ridden, but is now walking

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:57 am

From Tennessee:

‘Miracle man’ finds new life
April 12, 2009

Joshua Castle clutched the metal walker and carefully, slowly walked into Advanced Prosthetic Systems for his appointment this week.

With each step, he concentrated on making his prosthetic knee bend. And with each stride, the 16-year-old amputee smiled confidently.

Joshua, one of the youngest patients at Advanced Prosthetic on Dover Road, was there Wednesday morning for his appointment with amputee specialist Jeremy Harris, who is also an amputee.

Harris watched as Joshua walked down the hallway of the clinic, and he gave advice on how to apply pressure to the prosthetic knee to make it bend and straighten for a natural-looking gait.

“Considering his injuries and where he started, he’s come a long way,” Harris said.

“He’s progressed faster than what I thought he would in the beginning.”

For the Northwest High School junior, learning to walk with the help of a prosthesis is the beginning of a future that many thought he would never have.

The accident

Just a year ago, his mother Laura Cutshaw stood at his bedside at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville terrified that her son wouldn’t survive the night.

On March 11, 2008, Joshua was walking to Northwest High School when he was hit by a car on Purple Heart Parkway and Evans Road.

Dozens of people fought to save his life, and Joshua remained in critical condition and in a coma for more than a week.

His injuries included multiple broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, punctured internal organs and a nearly severed left leg that had to be amputated above the knee. It took 14 surgeries to save his life, and even after all that, his mother wasn’t sure he would have much quality to that life.

Doctors told her he’d be in a vegetative state and never walk again. But a dog tag necklace Joshua wears around his neck tells his story in two words: “Miracle man.”

The brain damage he suffered didn’t affect his speech and isn’t apparent from talking to him. Cutshaw said he suffers some memory loss, but said his brain should be healed within two years.

“This is just amazing,” Cutshaw said, joyfully laughing. “It’s a miracle to me. … Every day I look at him and I can’t believe where he’s at.”

Joshua doesn’t remember the wreck but has moved past it and is looking to the future.

“I feel natural, like my old self,” Joshua said.

And his mother said his sense of humor, which some may find unusual, helps him get by.

Joshua said he plans to get a T-shirt with tire tracks printed on it that reads, “I played in traffic,” or possibly a Honda tattoo on his chest.

But while those ideas make him laugh, he wears several bracelets on his arm that hold serious meaning to him: A green Donate Life, a blue and white Miracle Maker, an Egyptian image that represents death and a multicolor WWJD his aunt made for him.

One step at a time

A lot of things have changed about Joshua since he returned from the hospital in June.

His hair — shaven for brain surgery — has grown back in, and he looks healthy. Best of all, he now has a strong determination to succeed at whatever he sets his mind to.

It’s been a long journey for Joshua. “He was very depressed and down at first,” said Joanna Penna, patient care director at Advanced Prosthetic. “His attitude has changed. He wanted to get a leg and walk. He was determined. Determination is key to a patient progressing.”

In December, Joshua was given his first prosthetic leg, and after many therapy sessions, he took the parallel bars and his first steps.

“I cried,” Cutshaw said. “When the doctors told me he’d be a vegetable, I thought I’d never see him walk again. I kept looking back at him, I was sitting there in that hospital saying, ‘Yeah he’s a vegetable,’ and now he’s walking.

“It’s like watching a little baby do all their firsts again.”

The carbon graphite prosthetic leg, which is estimated to cost between $12,000 and $15,000, allows Joshua to stand with the knee locked and walk with a natural stride due to the way the knee bends.

He also has a foot that aids with applying pressure to make the leg bend and lock.

Harris, Joshua’s consultant, said as an amputee himself he is able to understand what patients like Joshua go through.

“I listen to them,” Harris said. “Everybody is different. With Joshua, we knew we had our work cut out for us. … As much drive as he’s put into this, I expect him to achieve his goals. As long as he uses what they tell him in therapy at home, he’ll do fine.”

Go here for the rest of the story.