Comments about the “bigoted Wildrose”

Twitter is great and all, but sometimes you need more than 140 characters to flesh out an idea. Earlier this afternoon I came across a tweet that peaked my interest. People yelling “bigot” to each other across the internet is usually entertaining. I took issue with it because the provincial government was trying to make a political statement, generalizing comments on the the internet. Follow the link to read the statement.



So, here’s what happened.

The Wildrose Facebook page posted pictures of Danielle Smith, their leader, at a Sikh parade wearing a head covering. There is a screen shot showing comments that include some remarks that were offensive. MLA Manmeet Bhullar is upset by these comments, and there is a press release from the PCs saying “Danielle Smith needs to issue an immediate apology for the reprehensible behavior of her party’s supporters.”

If I’m getting this right, there is a call from the PCs, for the Leader of the Wildrose to condemn the actions of her supporters for making comments such as “If you emulate the Muslim faith, I will NEVER vote for you.” towards the Leader of the Wildrose. The PCs are observers during this entire exchange.

Here’s the thing about the internet, you don’t know who these people are. Did you check each and every one against the voter registry to see if they were in fact Wildrose supporters? Did you ask them? They could have voted PC in the last election. Maybe they aren’t Canadians… who knows. Mr Bhullar has every right to be upset about the comments being made, just as those who wrote the comments have every right to be upset if there is a public figure emulating a culture they don’t agree with. The Wildrose didn’t endorse these comments, they aren’t party policy.

So why create a public announcement that you are upset about people chatting on a public forum? Have you ever been to /b/? Comments made by individuals are not endorsed by the owners of the forum. It reminded me of the story where Gerry Rogers was removed from the House of Assembly for being added to a Facebook group without her knowledge.

I’m assuming that Alison Redford, Danielle Smith and Manmeet Bhullar all work together and see each other regularly.  Why not just stop Danielle in the hallway and say “Hey, I’m offended by the comments on your Facebook page that were made by some individuals. Can you take them down? I don’t want out government to be seen in that light”

Rather than handle it appropriately  the PC party wants to use this as political leverage. THAT is my issue here, that the PCs are claiming the high road while smearing blame when it could have been solved quickly and easily without creating a fuss.

I want politics to be about policy, not cheap shots and partisan fighting.

Methane Hydrate

I got myself into a little bit of a twitter argument. I saw a tweet from an anti-green evangelist claiming that green tech was expensive and Global Warming is a non-issue. Every time I hear that argument, I think of this comic. To me, it sounds like an argument against paying for quality. Yes, quality costs money. Anything that is worth having is worth the effort. Changing an industry takes effort, that’s a poor excuse for not doing it.

Why pay for good things?

Anyway, the claim was that there are plenty of hydrocarbons to go around, so why worry? Why spend money on anything else but Oil and Gas? Here’s the twitter conversation so you can get the background.


I’ll take you up on that! I’ve never heard of Methane Hydrate, so it’s worth a look. I’m willing to stretch my knowledge and see what’s out there. So what is Methane Hydrate? Basically it’s ice that’s trapped methane inside a crystal formation. It has a very exotic name, but at the end of the day, the resource is methane, something we are very familiar with.

I’m going to do a quick comparison between this resource and two others. It’s obviously not exhaustive and I’ve omitted quite a bit of information. This whole post came about from a conversation on Twitter, so I’m not going to sink very many hours into it. If you are looking for info on resources, I recommend Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air. The full text is available here.

Here are the resources I’m going to look at.

  • Methane Hydrate – Extension of the current Oil and Gas industry
  • Solar – Up and coming contender
  • Nuclear Fusion – A hail mary resource

What Are They?

Methane Hydrate is a hydrocarbon that is trapped in ice formations. It exists as a solid under certain conditions and releases the methane when melted. The hydrocarbons come from decomposed animal and plant life from millions of years ago. Because hydrocarbons are dead animals and plants, in a way, they are concentrated solar energy. (sun -> plants -> animals -> dead -> million years -> hydrocarbons) Methane is usually burned to create energy, but can also be used in fuel cells.

Solar is.. well, the sun. More specifically the radiation from the sun that fuels all life on Earth.  There are a few different ways of harvesting solar energy, I’ll stick with photo-voltaic cells.

Nuclear Fusion is the golden child of the energy industry. Basically engineers create a mini-sun on earth and directly harvest it’s energy. Not to be confused with traditional nuclear energy  fusion uses light atoms and fuses them together, not spiting heavy atoms. This isn’t science fiction,  you can make a fusion reactor at home for about 5k. Most of these reactors use a D-D or D-T fuel cycle.

Energy Density

So, how much energy can each source produce? This gets complicated as the sources are difficult to directly compare.

In one cubic meter of methane hydrate there is 160 m^3 of methane. (source). This means each cubic meter of ice holds 6240 MJ of energy. That’s a hell of a lot. Hydrocarbon energy concentration is part of the reason it’s so valuable.

Solar energy is different depending on where you are in the world and if it’s day time. The energy hitting the top of the atmosphere is about 1,400 W/m^2. On earth, the average is about 250 W/m^2. That gives us about 21.6 MJ of energy per square meter per day. There is a lot more in space, and the reason spacecraft have solar panels.

These guys estimate there is  1.78 g of lithium in every cubic meter of seawater and 30 grams of deuterium. Using my mediocre chemistry skills, that comes out to 1.6*10^12 MJ per cubic meter of water. That’s a few hundred million times more dense than methane hydrate.

Extraction of the Resource

Methane uses semi-established methods. We know how to make drilling rigs and pipelines  but getting at the ice is a different story. It’s like oil sands vs drilling; the end product is the same but the method is very different. Lessons learned and techniques can be ported over, but you can’t directly use the previous technology. Looking at the billions of dollars spent in Alberta to develop the oil sands, you can expect similar numbers for hydrate extraction. (Here is a good source to learn more)

Solar, it’s pretty easy, install panels, point at sun, extract. It’s passive and automatic.

We can get lithium from sea water. Using a lot of the same technology we use for distilling sea water into fresh water.

Energy Reserve

So, how much of the stuff is there? In 2008 the world used 474 EJ of energy. I’m assuming we stay at 2008 consumption levels  and I’m ignoring a whole rats nest of other variables.

According to these guys, there is 74 744 Gt of CH4 in ocean hydrates. 4.4 * 10^16 m^3 of the stuff.  That’s on the very high end of global estimates, and no guarantee we can extract that much. In any event, that’s 1,716,000 EJ of energy, giving us 3620 years of energy assuming we used every last drop on earth.

Solar isn’t going to run out for 5 billion years, so that’s the good news on solar. It will last as long as we have a sun. Yes, it gets cloudy and night time does happen. A world network would solve most of those issues; it’s always sunny somewhere. Here’s a map of how much land mass that would take.

Fusion has a similar length as solar  If we get D-D reactions up and running, we are set for life. The available resources will power the earth for a million years. The fun part about this is that this is just including the resources on earth. Without exaggeration  the fusion fuel available in our solar system will power a Human Galactic Empire for millions of years.

DD Fusion

So what?

I have to shake my head when Oil & Gas evangelists tell me that there are plenty of resources available. Coal companies are very proud of the fact that there are a 100 odd years of coal reserves. The Oil Sands folks claim they are second in the world in reserves only to Saudi Arabia. When you factor in how much of that resource is recoverable, it’s only a few hundred years of energy left and they wave that flag proudly. We have resources that will last millions of times longer. We have energy resources that will last thousands of times longer than the whole of human recorded history.

For those people who are waving the Oil & Gas flag, I have to ask why. Bud Lyght, answer me this: with the knowledge you know have, why choose short term solutions when we could have unlimited energy for longer than either of us can imagine?

Justin wants our questions

If you take a walk, skip and a jump over to the Liberal website, you will see something interesting. Justin Trudeau is asking Canadians what questions they would as the Prime Minister. This is exactly the sort of activity the internet was made for! Long Live Direct Democracy! It has yet to be seen if the questions will be asked, or how many they will get or how well this experiment will work in general. But in a twitter world, my hope is that this will become more common place until it’s the norm.

For what it’s worth, here’s my question. As a space enthusiast and future Mars Colonist, I’d love to know the answer to this.

Mr Speaker, our military needs to be equipped and able to fight along side our allies for the safety of all Canadians. The F-35 program is intended to help keep pace with our allies and enemies and providing the Canadian military with new capability.
The program unfortunately reinforces the brain drain trend where Canadian talent leaves to where the opportunity is. Not only does this increase costs while putting quality control out of Canadian hands, but also puts Canada at a disadvantage to compete in emerging industries such as private space flight. Judging by the popularity of Cmdr Hadfield’s online presences there is a generation of Canadian’s who are interested in space and the Canadian Space Agency.
How does the government plan to use the momentum created by Cmdr Hadfield to increase the Canadian presence in the private space industry, there by remove the military’s reliance on international engineering and lowering the cost of military procurement?

Ban Dodgeball?

I just read an article from Slate called “Dodgeball Should Not Be Part of Any Curriculum, Ever” Go and read it. It’s awful. I mean, the writing is well done, sentence structure is proper and all that.. but it’s sound like a fat kid complaining to me. All I could think about while reading is was “I’m bad at sports; they should be banned.” As an adult who loved dodgeball as a kid and plays it as an adult, I take offence.

Calling the class “physical education” was some sort of sick joke. The lesson I was learning about my physical body was that it was useless, inferior, and quite possibly infected with a cootie-like virus. We should have been learning about how complicated and capable our bodies were and how to make them healthier. Instead we were playing dodgeball.

Don’t get me wrong here, I’m all for a well rounded education. Teach healthy eating habits, stretching and meditation. Biology knowledge is important for putting your body in the best shape it can be, much like you will be a better driver if you understand how an internal combustion engine works. Sports in school teaches kids they need to bring it to win.

You practiced during the summer and couldn’t compete with the other kids? Well, you should have tried harder. You should have trained better. If you gave it your all and it didn’t workout, move on. We can’t all be super stars in everything we do, but we need bring honest efforts and then choose what we love. K-12 is about trying different things and gaining viewpoints and understanding. The author got hung up on how poorly she was at sports instead of learning how good others could become. She focused on the negative instead of accepting her shortcomings and finding something she was good at and could be proud of. We should add to the education, not remove parts because some kids won’t be good at them. Learning you can’t do something is an important lesson.

I spent a year of high school in Japan, where a component of PE class is Judo. If you think being picked last for a team was hard, try being literally thrown to the ground by the biggest kid in class as part of the curriculum. I didn’t complain, I got better. That’s the key to success in life; some kids learn in in math class, some kids learn it in the gym.

Maybe she has a valid point, but I can’t see it; because all I can hear is elitist complaining that sports should be removed because the other kids were better at them than her. Life isn’t fair, there are winners and losers. It’s a hard lesson to learn.


April was Abs month

In March I went to Vegas for the first time and had a blast. Vegas was everything I thought it was going to be, with a sprinkling of adventure for good measure. However, endless pancakes, cheap street booze and all types of entertainment can take a toll on the body. I wanted to reboot myself and get this old war horse I call a body into some sort of shape other than soft. I decided to name April Abs Month.

The state of my abs early April

The state of my abs early April

During my thirty years, I’ve never really paid attention to what I eat. My parents use to buy me blocks of chocolate for Christmas and I’ve been known to eat family size portions of pasta in one sitting. Not that I really ate poorly, I just didn’t eat that well. The first thing I looked at was my diet. I tried to cut out bread and wheat as much as possible. Lots of veggies and lean meats and no cream sauces. I picked up energy bars, almonds and walnuts for snacks at work instead of eating two lunches. I eat a standalone salad almost every day. On top of that, I’ve been making a breakfast shake. The main ingredient is Vega One, a meal replacement / protein shake. The Vega products in general have been really good at keeping my energy up and helping my push through my workouts.

Abs early May

Abs early May

I get up at 5am to do Insanity, and do a workout at lunch time. No every day, but I’m getting my heart rate up close to 10 times a week. I dropped about 10 lb in a month doing this. My abs still need some work, but I’m pretty happy with their progress. Yesterday I went for a run, something that I haven’t done in a while. I had a huge improvement in time and there was a very noticeable change in my cardio. My goal during my runs has been to keep my pace under 6 min/km. Looks like I can lower that to 5:30 min/km.

  • Feb 18 – 8.0 km Pace 6:10 min/km
  • Mar 29 – 7.01 km Pace 5:45 min/km
  • May 2 – 8.02 km Pace 5:23 min/km

Now the real training begins. I’ve got another month of Insanity, then it’s full on training for the Spartan Race. I’m going to murder that course.