SaskTel’s email bait and switch

After offering free email since the 1990s, to start charging per email account is an absurd insult to customers and should probably be illegal. The problem is the provincial government who could potentially do something about it, is hoping to sell off the crown corp, so they won’t do something to keep it affordable and popular.

Plague Update: Logic Fails

There’s a cartoon showing how many people still think that COVID-19 is just like chicken pox, and you aren’t likely to get a symptomatic infection another time while healthy, so they magically think a COVID infection will build herd immunity and eventually end the disease. It’s going to be just like the 1918 pandemic, right? No one will have heard of it in 100 years because it was left in the past generations ago. No.

And I encountered someone who thought COVIDzero was a bad thing.

And China’s COVIDzero strategy is beginning to fall apart, with million of lives at stake. A disruption to global supply chains will inevitably follow, but in what ways? Can’t wait to see (grits teeth).

Fusion on Earth is Working, but Decades From Daily Use

There’s a big problem, however. Despite being able to do fusion, it’s not commercially viable, possibly for decades. This isn’t going to save us from fossil fuels in time like renewable power can this decade. Fusing Hydrogen into Helium takes a lot of energy, a lot of technology, and the attempts are limited when they need to be continuous to work for a power plant that boils water for steam turbines.

“”It is a big scientific step,” says Ryan McBride, a nuclear engineer at the University of Michigan. But, McBride adds, that does not mean that NIF itself is producing power. For one thing, he says, the lasers require more than 300 megajoules worth of electricity to produce around 2 megajoules of ultraviolet laser light. In other words, even if the energy from the fusion reactions exceeds the energy from the lasers, it’s still only around one percent of the total energy used.

Moreover, it would take many capsules exploding over and over to produce enough energy to feed the power grid. “You’d have to do this many, many times a second,” McBride says. NIF can currently do around one laser “shot” a week.”

“It’s not very easy to see how you scale this into a power reactor quickly,” he says.

By then most climate experts believe the world will have to have already made drastic cuts to carbon emissions to avoid the worst effects of climate change. To limit warming to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, the world must nearly halve its carbon output by 2030 — a far shorter timescale than what’s needed to develop fusion.

Betti agrees that the timeline to building a fusion plant is “definitely decades”. But, he adds, that could change. “There’s always a possibility of breakthrough,” he says. And the new NIF results could help spur that breakthrough forward. “You’re going to get more people to look into this form of fusion, to see whether we can turn it into an energy-making system.””

FTX O’Leary Loves

Watched an AOC Facebook story that mentioned the freshly arrested head of FTX had admitted to donating as much to the GOP as he openly did to Democrats. Is that going to stop the GOP from musing that FTX was a Democrat plot?

Former CPC leadership candidate and CBC TV star O’Weary still backs SBF and FTX. Maybe being paid millions by the platform SBF stole customer money from, has something to do with that?

Plague Update: Can’t Handle The Truth

One of the best doctors in the country, not only for the health services he provides, but for his outreach regarding the climate crisis, is Dr. Joe Vipond. Here he is explaining the current health crisis and what can be done about it, while many others in his field shirk their responsibility to clearly communicate.

It wasn’t even 3 years ago that everyone made an effort to #FlattenTheCurve as our healthcare workers faced impossible odds to help everyone through a crisis like no other. Now, with Conservative governments sworn to avoid public health measures to satisfy their anti-masker bases, we’re amplifying an already bad situation and children are suffering because of it.

@trudykeil · “I can tell you why leaders aren’t saying the “A” (airborne) word.. capitalism and pressure from the far right. Conspiracy theorists were loud, obnoxious, and threatening and politicians weakly bent to their will. Now here we are in dystopia as kids get sick and few people care.”

@AndersonBooz · “Speaking the uncomfortable truth: politicians and other adults refuse to protect children because it is inconvenient to do so. They say sentimental things like “Kids are our future” but then their actions betray their self-interest.”

It shouldn’t be limited to only people reading my blog, or following the best people on Twitter, to know that science has answers to the current crisis.

@Sitarj · “Safety culture was one of the defining Canadian characteristics that I used to point to in contrast to Mexico and COVID absolutely murdered that. I’m looking at you @WorkSafeBC.”

@ProHealth4MyKid · “You summarized 3 years of complete failure & strategic misinformation in a few minute interview. Well said & well done.I’m so tired of living in this vile society that forces children to be repeatedly infected with viruses when the tools are in front of us.”

We don’t hear Conservative Premiers back down from their ultimatums against public health protections, even when kids’ lives are on the line. They can’t bear the taste of crow, not even to save kids? It’s hard to imagine more ideologically despicable human beings.

If they gave a damn, here’s what would happen:

They’d have a TV suppertime announcement with a public health leader explaining that COVID-19 is airborne, and infected people need to be isolated while the source of their infection is traced. They’d required people wear respirators in public indoor spaces, and start distributing them. They’d issue a cell phone alert advising people to wear respirators, and limit social contacts for a few weeks. They’d admit that COVID-19 is an ongoing pandemic emergency that is not over and pretending it is done has caused harm.

Possibly Close The Schools temporarily. Offer UBI or CERB to parents losing income to care for their children. Extend sick leave benefits.

We’ve done it before, we know it works to delay infections and give the healthcare workers time to catch up.

Why Drive A Gas Car When There Are EVs?

The following was given as a presentation to the Unitarian Fellowship of Regina. I enjoyed my time this morning after being invited to speak about Electric Vehicles.

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Most adults in Regina have driven a car before, but fewer than 1 in 100 have an electric vehicle. As a driver, why would you want to drive an EV, instead of a gas vehicle? There is a long list of reasons to do it, while the reasons not to are shrinking as the years go by. At the end of my talk, I promise you’ll know more about EVs, and can use this knowledge to save money, reduce pollution, and help others to resist the disinformation campaign to keep EVs mysterious and less-used than their petroleum burning cousins.

blue EV in front of Mac the Moose in Moose Jaw

The first thing to know about EVs is that they were the original motor car. Gas cars came later, and didn’t have as much appeal to many people, because they were less convenient. You had to crank start them, for instance, and find fuel for them. Electricity was more easily available. Battery technology was heavy, however. You couldn’t go on the long, convenient trips that people expect from their automobiles now. So as electric starters came into being, gas cars took over. The prevalence of fuel stations had expanded too, making travel by gasoline more convenient.

Technology has flipped this situation again though. With improved batteries, the more simple and efficient electric vehicle is again on top for technology and convenience. Most Regina homes have a driveway or garage with electricity, so you can fill up at home, on an ordinary 120V outlet like your gas vehicle’s block heater uses. There are long-range EV from many manufacturers like Hyundai, Kia, Tesla, GM, Ford, and others. There are also convenient filling stations for EVs across the province, and the charging network is getting better each year. There are apps like Plugshare.com that show you where virtually every charger is located.

So that’s where things stand for the moment.

Why should you trust my opinion about this? In comparison to 99% of other Saskatchewanians, I’m an expert in EVs. I’ve owned an EV since 2017. I’ve managed a fleet of two other EVs for Regina Car Share Co-operative. I took a borrowed EV on a 6100km vacation road trip this summer to Ottawa and back to Regina. I’ve driven 4 makes of EVs, and I’ve been given rides in every sort of production Tesla model. And I’m confident in the technology gaining wider market share so I’ve invested in 4 different EV-specific automakers too.

I’ve spent a decade and a half working to build alternative transportation to the predominant privately owned automobile that has misshapen our city. What do I mean by that? How have cars misshapen Regina? Practically every community project revolves around parking cars, whether it’s an event, or even the construction of a new building. We’ve placed less emphasis on public transportation for generations, and it shows in how we think about, build, and move ourselves around our city. It’s difficult to exist in Regina without access to a car.

In 2007 I learned about car sharing, and with a few dozen other Reginans we formed the Regina Car Share Co-operative the following year. We’ve held several of our AGMs in the basement of the Unitarian Centre, over the years. The idea is to have cars available to people for hourly rentals, 24 hours a day, using the Internet to book time with them. This reduces the cost of using a vehicle. Most people pay for a vehicle even when it sits idle in their driveway. Insurance is a daily cost we tend to overlook. People pay for carsharing vehicles mostly when they’re driving them, instead of while they’re asleep. We’ve managed to add 2 EVs to Regina Car Share Co-op’s fleet, as electric vehicles are less costly to maintain and to recharge. They also don’t need oil changes, which saves hassle and expense while maintaining a fleet of vehicles.

I mentioned that there’s a disinformation campaign keeping the electric car from widespread adoption despite its advantages over the more common gasoline vehicles. Regina City Council got a taste of some of it in past years when it turned down free EV chargers from Sun Country Highway. Council was given some unusually high cost estimates for installation, to dissuade it from accepting the chargers. It didn’t take the gift. Now the City has an electric pickup truck, and could have charged it on that free hardware.

In early 2021 a city Councillor pitched the idea of preventing fossil fuel companies from advertising on city-owned property. The Premier of Saskatchewan, whose party happens to take large donations from fossil fuel and advertising companies, responded angrily. Ward 6 Councillor Dan LeBlanc lost his job at a law firm in the organized backlash. As you can see, there is big money, and powerful people behind keeping us stuck on gas powered transportation, so you have to be skeptical of negative things you hear about EVs. That’s not to say they’re perfect, they certainly have their faults, but stacked up against gas burning vehicles, they’re better in most ways.

Have you heard of problems regarding EVs? What are some of them? Let’s address those ideas:

_______

Winter, battery recycling, slow charging time, range, cost, limited servicing options, conflict minerals, pollution shifting, etc.

What makes an EV cost less to operate than an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicle? Physics. An electric motor is far more efficient than an ICE. For each unit of energy you put into an electric motor, you go further and produce less waste heat compared to any ICE. Energy is expensive, and in most cases in Saskatchewan it’s produced from dirty sources. However, Saskatchewan’s electrical grid is only 40% coal powered right now, and that figure is dropping this decade, approaching 0%. Even on today’s fossil fueled grid, SaskPower confirms EVs charged by it produce 30% fewer emissions than if they came from the tailpipe of a similar vehicle.

The cost comparison when you look at electricity vs. fuel, is stark. In April 2022 I took a trip to Moose Jaw in my EV, and it used $3.33 of electricity for the entire round trip. With gas at about $1.55/L it’s more like $24 for that same trip if I burned gas. It used to be about 4-5 times less expensive to use electricity instead of gas, but with the price of gas much higher, it’s more like 7-9 times less expensive.

Now you have a sense of how much money you’d be saving if you switched from driving a gas-burning car to an EV. A back-of-the-napkin calculation would be to think what you spent on gasoline in the last month, divide that number by 7, and apply the result to your next power bill instead.

If you charge it using SaskPower’s electricity instead of a solar array at home, you’d be producing at least 30% fewer emissions, with no tailpipe emissions inside Regina.

And if you share some of these bits of experience with people replacing their cars, they may have a greater opportunity to save money, and reduce emissions than if they stroll into an auto dealer ready to accept outdated gas technology that will cost them more to operate while making more pollution than they would with an EV car or truck.

blue Kona Electric in front of green painted parking for EVs in a parking garage.

November

There are things going on. From absurd numbers of kids home sick from school, to the Grey Cup going on today in Regina.

The most vocal civilian critic of the SaskParty’s support of abusive religious schools (who were teaching dinosaurs were around with Creationist people), had their home vandalized with bible verse graffiti. They fled, and their home was torched, killing some of their pets and destroying their belongings! A fundraiser is attempting to help them. I’d like to see it exceed their goal, to show that the governing party’s thugs can’t chase good people away.

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Doug Ford in Ontario kicked an ant hill and almost got bit. He legislated workers back to work with the Notwithstanding Clause in the Charter, overriding their Charter right to collective bargaining. He caved when he saw a general strike was imminent. The fines were so big, the unions had to fight to the mat and beyond to win.

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The US election looks like the Democrats will take the Senate and the Republicans the House. Fingers crossed that the GQP doesn’t take a majority in the House, so it won’t be tied up with stupidity for quite as long. The counting and recounting is taking quite some time, and there’s a runoff in Georgia again between Walker and Warnock this time. Walker is a complete idiot, so he’s got a chance.

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Russia just launched missiles into Poland the other day, a dangerous escalation of their war against Ukraine. There are Russia supporters claiming this was disinformation, and that Russia didn’t launch an attack, even accidentally, on Poland.

Plague Update: Upon Reflection, Let Me Off This Ride

Here’s a frank account of what the last 3 years have held for hopes, dreams, and ultimately failures. I can’t disagree with his points.

Here’s my summary.

We went into the pandemic unprepared. Canada landfilled crates full of expired N95 masks stockpiles prior to needing them in 2020. Our leaders insisted there was no problem, as pro athletes mocked the seriousness of COVID-19 just before their leagues shut down to save their lives. Schools were closed, and the Canadian government issued emergency funding to many people since they couldn’t work in offices or at worksites until we got a better handle on how screwed we were. March 2020 went by, and many places didn’t ‘become Italy’ with its absurd death rate, so capitalist governments still chomping at the bit, announced they’d “Re-open economies”.

Kids went back to schools without any protections aside from masks worn most of the day in crowded rooms, some with poor ventilation. Infection rates crept upward, there weren’t any vaccines to rely on, and few experimental drugs to help those ending up in hospitals with overwhelmed bodies.

Then vaccines arrived for most people in the western world in 2021, but it quickly became apparent that variants were infecting “fully vaccinated” people. Terrible governments who wanted to emulate the Americans, like Alberta, dropped mask requirements, before admitting it was based on faulty UK data and analysis. Infections got worse, and Delta arrived and thrived at the expense of lives. Saskatchewan’s incompetent and malicious Premier Moe got COVID after spreading it at a school he was campaigning at. The Speaker of the Legislature got it. The Prime Minister of Canada caught it a second time after attending a maskless conference in the USA.

Then things really fell apart. There’s no public health measures, no testing and tracing available, and no chance for most people to access drugs to fight COVID-19 infections at home. All this while we know that repeated infections are terrible for your health, and could very well shorten lifespans in meaningful ways. Kids are needing hospitalization at a rate that our systems can’t keep up with. If we aren’t even willing to do what’s best for our children, what good is our society?

UPDATE: Will Santa’s reindeer be a bio-hazard this Christmas?