Let me be the last in the greenosphere to note that Nanosolar has shipped its first panels, and it’s no exaggeration to say that this moment will likely be seen as a historical turning point.
For a taste of the breathless anticipation around Nanosolar, read “innovation of the year” over on PopSci (or this recent piece in the NYT). Unlike so many other hyped green tech dreamers, the company is not just talking and researching prototypes. They’re building factories. Once the factory they built in San Jose is up to full production capacity, it will be cranking out more solar panels than every other U.S. plant combined — 430 megawatts worth.
Nanosolar’s claim is that power from their panels will pencil out at about $0.99 a watt. The implications are pretty stunning:
“With a $1-per-watt panel,” [CEO Martin Roscheisen] said, “it is possible to build $2-per-watt systems.”
According to the Energy Department, building a new coal plant costs about $2.1 a watt, plus the cost of fuel and emissions, he said.
Get that? If he’s right, we already have renewable power cheaper than coal.
Home prices fell 6.7 percent in October, compared with a year ago, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller 10-city home-price index. It was the largest drop recorded since the index began in 1987.
It marked the 10th consecutive month of price depreciation and 23 months of decelerating returns.
“No matter how you look at these data, it is obvious that the current state of the single-family housing market remains grim,” said Robert J. Shiller, chief economist at MacroMarkets, in a statement.
Case-Shiller’s 20-city index fell 6.1 percent. Shiller noted that 11 of the markets in the 20-city index posted a record fall.
“This is just the beginning,” said Peter Schiff, a Darien, Conn.-based investment adviser known for his bearish views of the housing market. “Pressure is there for much, much lower prices.”
Charges: You believe in freedom of speech, until someone says something that offends you. You suddenly give a damn about border integrity, because the automated voice system at your pharmacy asked you to press 9 for Spanish. You cling to every scrap of bullshit you can find to support your ludicrous belief system, and reject all empirical evidence to the contrary. You know the difference between patriotism and nationalism — it’s nationalism when foreigners do it. You hate anyone who seems smarter than you. You care more about zygotes than actual people. You love to blame people for their misfortunes, even if it means screwing yourself over. You still think Republicans favor limited government. Your knowledge of politics and government are dwarfed by your concern for Britney Spears’ children. You think buying Chinese goods stimulates our economy. You think you’re going to get universal health care. You tolerate the phrase “enhanced interrogation techniques.” You think the government is actually trying to improve education. You think watching CNN makes you smarter. You think two parties is enough. You can’t spell. You think $9 trillion in debt is manageable. You believe in an afterlife for the sole reason that you don’t want to die. You think lowering taxes raises revenue. You think the economy’s doing well. You’re an idiot.
Exhibit A: You couldn’t get enough Anna Nicole Smith coverage.
Sentence: A gradual decline into abject poverty as you continue to vote against your own self-interest. Death by an easily treated disorder that your health insurance doesn’t cover. You deserve it, chump.
There I stood at the pharmacy counter, with a head cold, sniffing away, and begging for some product that contains pseudoephedrine, which works like a magic nose unclogger. The stuff you can get off the shelf now contains the similar-sounding drug called phenylephrine, but it might as well be a placebo. It just doesn’t work, and most everyone knows this.
You can still get the good old stuff from the pharmacist but you will be suspected for this grave action. The government, you see, says that people have been buying the old stuff and turning it into methamphetamine. This is why Congress and the administration passed the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005, which rations the amount you can buy and requires that you prove your identity and sign a special form.
And, yes, this act is now part of the monstrosity called the Patriot Act. I went over this whole subject last year, but this year, I really began to smell a rat, about which more below.
Let’s follow the money a bit. It seems that most all pseudoephedrine is manufactured in China and India, and very cheaply, much more cheaply than it can be made in the United States or Europe. What that means is that these companies don’t have lobbyists in Washington who can make an effective case for their product.
Contrast this was phenylephrine, the world’s largest manufacturer of which is located in Germany. The company is called Boehringer-Ingelheim, according to MSNBC. It developed the drug in 1949 for use in eyedrops. In the last two years, virtually every manufacturer of cold medicine has changed its formula to include the Boehringer drug. Some continue to make the old formula available but only with special access.
Is it possible that the move against wonderful pseudoephedrine and in favor of useless phenylephrine was really a form of protectionism in disguise? That it was really about rewarding a well-connected company at the expense of companies without connections?
If that sounds cynical, take a look at this. It seems that our friends at Boehringer Ingelheim are rather interested in American politics, with 73% of its donations going to Republican candidates for federal office. You can see here that Boehringer even has a PAC located in Ridgefield, Connecticut. Someone with more time than I have ought to check to see how the people it supported for Congress voted on the act that resulted in a massive shift toward their product, and has nearly kept its competitive product off the market.
And in case you still think the “War on Drugs” is fought to make your life better and safer:
Social Indicator USA Netherlands Lifetime prevalence of marijuana use (ages 12+) 36.9%1 17.0%2 Past month prevalence of marijuana use (ages 12+) 5.4%1 3.0% 2 Lifetime prevalence of heroin use (ages 12+) 1.4%1 0.4% 2 Incarceration Rate per 100,000 population 7013 1004 Per capita spending on criminal justice system (in Euros) €3795 €223 5 Homicide rate per 100,000 population 5.566 1.516
Source 1: US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Household Survey on Drug Abuse: Volume I. Summary of National Findings (Washington, DC: HHS, August 2002), p. 109, Table H.1.
Source 2: Trimbos Institute, “Report to the EMCDDA by the Reitox National Focal Point, The Netherlands Drug Situation 2002″ (Lisboa, Portugal: European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, Nov. 2002), p. 28, Table 2.1.
Source 3: Walmsley, Roy, “World Prison Population List (fifth edition) (London, England: Research, Development and Statistics Directorate of the Home Office), Dec. 2003, p. 3, Table 2.
Source 4: Walmsley, Roy, “World Prison Population List (fifth edition) (London, England: Research, Development and Statistics Directorate of the Home Office), Dec. 2003, p. 5, Table 4.
Source 5: van Dijk, Frans & Jaap de Waard, “Legal infrastructure of the Netherlands in international perspective: Crime control” (Netherlands: Ministry of Justice, June 2000), p. 9, Table S.13.
Source 6: Barclay, Gordon, Cynthia Tavares, Sally Kenny, Arsalaan Siddique & Emma Wilby, “International comparisons of criminal justice statistics 2001,” Issue 12/03 (London, England: Home Office Research, Development & Statistics Directorate, October 2003), p. 10, Table 1.1.
Earlier today Kris Kobach, chairman of the Kansas GOP, sent out a self-congratulatory litany of accomplishments. Among them was one particularly eye-catching item:
To date, the Kansas GOP has identified and caged more voters in the last 11 months than the previous two years!
We’re going to move past the fact that any amount of voter identification would be more than the amount the GOP has done in the last two years, or four for that matter. The practice of caging is what caught out eye.
Caging is a particularly devious and underhanded method of purging likely Democratic voters from the pollbooks. It’s also illegal.
Slate.com has the best comprehensive write-up on how the Republican Party employs caging techniques to suppress the votes of the poor, the deployed, and college students. (You know, likely Democratic voters.)
Did we mention it’s illegal? And that Kris Kobach is proud to be doing it?