I’d like a 100-watt heat ball, please

January 4, 2011

Many of you know that the California legislature, in a valiant effort to save us from both a problem that does not exist* and a problem they helped create†, banned the evil 100-watt incandescent light bulb as of January 1st, 2011.  Those of us who’d rather not light our homes with mercury-filled, hard-to-dispose-of CFLs were beginning to fear we’d have to smuggle contraband light bulbs in from Mexico.

But, fear not, for human ingenuity and the desire to thumb one’s nose at the nanny state know no bounds! In Germany, an ingenious man has found an invention to circumvent the EU’s earlier ban on incandescents: the heat ball!

You gotta hand it to German businessman Siegfried Rotthaeuser, who came up with a brilliant run around the European Union ban on conventional incandescent light bulbs- he rebranded them as “Heat Balls” and is importing them for sale as a “small heating device”.

Rotthaeuser’s website is in German but Google does a passable job of translation. First, he’s very clear that the Heat Ball isn’t for lighting, stating (in German, the following is translated) “A HEAT BALL ® is not a lamp, but it fits in the same version!”

Further down: “The use of Heat Balls avoids the lack of heat. The intended use of heat Balls is the heating. “

The funny thing about this is that incandescent bulbs are fairly efficient when they are used as heaters, throwing off around 95% of the energy they draw as heat.

The article clucks its tongue in mild disapproval, but I like Herr Rotthaeuser’s style. Take that, Eurocrats!

Meanwhile, I need to look into getting the Heat Ball(tm) concession for California.

*Global warming, that is.

†Power shortages caused by doing everything humanly possible to block the construction of new power plants in this state.

via Moe Lane

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China’s big challenge to the US Navy

January 4, 2011

For the last 70 years, the centerpiece of US naval strategy –and, indeed, essential for the projection of American power around the globe– has been the aircraft carrier. Born of necessity after the disaster at Pearl Harbor decimated our battleships, the carrier battle group has been an effective tool of hard power for American presidents of both parties when the time came to show a foe we were serious. They provide the United States with a flexible and rapidly deployed instrument, and any plans to challenge us must find a way to neutralize them.

Something the Chinese may be on the verge of doing:

The Chinese have made significant progress on a missile system designed to sink a moving aircraft carrier from nearly 2,000 miles away, according to the top U.S. commander in the Pacific.

China’s anti-ship missile system has reached the rough equivalent of what the U.S. military terms as “initial operational capability,” Adm. Robert Willard, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, said in an interview with Japan’s Asahi newspaper Tuesday.

At the heart of the system is the Dong Feng 21D, a mobile, land-based missile that is projected to strike a carrier from between 1,200 and 1,800 miles, depending on its payload and other factors.

Willard said that the “component parts of the anti-ship ballistic missile have been developed and tested,” according to Asahi.

The missile has not yet been flight-tested over water, Willard acknowledged.

A report at Fox News relays opinions from experts that the Chinese are a decade away from developing the guidance systems need to give the Dong Feng 21D the needed accuracy, but we all know how perceptive outside observers were about developments in the Indian nuclear program. (Hint: we were caught completely by surprise.) We shouldn’t rest easy.

What makes a weapon like this all the more threatening is that, being land-based and mobile, they can be very hard to find and put out of action. Our experience hunting missile launchers firing at Israel in Gulf War I bears witness to that.

The possibility of deployed Dong Feng 21Ds will have to factor into any actions we take during periods of tension or crisis in East Asia. Both Korea and Taiwan are potential flash-points for conflict, as are Chinese claims to international waters. Whenever there has been friction with China involving any of these, we have deployed carriers to the area to demonstrate our resolve. The new Chinese missile threatens to make that a much riskier proposition.

Of course, military technology is a game of call-and-raise. Whenever someone has developed a new offensive weapon, the other guy has found a way to counteract it — and vice-versa. Sword met shield, armor met gun, and radar met stealth. One can bet that the US Navy is looking for ways to parry the Dong Feng 21D before it’s even deployed.

We’d better hope they find them.

RELATED: A very interesting article at The Diplomat on China’s risky bet against history, with a comparison to Germany prior to World War I.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Obama spin zone: local edition

January 4, 2011

I received an email from my employer (an organization of devout statists)  this morning about the new, reduced Social Security tax withholding rate. The part that struck me read:

On December 17, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Tax Relief Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010.

As if everyone was all smiles, bluebirds sang in the trees, and unicorns pranced outside the West Wing. The President was just so happy to cut taxes for his overtaxed people!

Yeah, right. This really should have read…

“…signed into law as bile rose in his throat and over the screams of progressive Democrats in Congress and his Socialist base in a deal with Republicans (who had kicked his and his allies’ butts in the most recent election) to avoid the largest tax increase in US history and thown the economy into a second recession, all because his party’s congressional leadership were too stupid to do this when they had the chance.”

But, I guess they forgot that part. How odd.