Thursday, September 22, 2005

Klaus in the U.S.

This news is not covered by the U.S. media at all, so The Reference Frame comes to save the day.

When the Czech president Václav Klaus met Condi and Cheney, all of them agreed that there are no problems in the Czech-American relations. There have been some minor emotions during the war in Iraq; Klaus talked to the U.S. ambassador and told him that if the WMD were going to be found in Iraq, it would have been clear that they were probably seeded by the FBI. George W. Bush got a bit upset, too. ;-)

Of course, while Klaus is an outspoken politician and a principal opponent of most wars (that try to export systems which Klaus believes is impossible), he is also one of the strongest advocates of the American values in Europe and no battle between him and the U.S. could last for a long time.

Klaus and the American VIPs discussed various international politics topics - and also the asymmetry in the visa system. The Americans don't need visa for the Czech Republic but they require them from the Czechs (even for very short visits). The visa procedures I had to go through have been disgusting - and I am happy that Klaus opened this topic. Of course that they're probably not gonna be cancelled. But at least, Condi said a couple of polite words and the student visa procedures may be simplified a bit in the future.

Tomorrow, Klaus is visiting Harvard University and Brandeis University, and I expect that this article is gonna be updated.


  1. Lubos:

    I can not understand that you are talking about a leader from a small potato nation, even if you are a citizen there, at a time something of at least 10 orders of magnitude more heavy is happening!!!

    It's the Hurricane Rita. Storm May Be the Coup de Grace for the American Economy and Many of Us As Well

    It couldn't have come at a worse place and a worse time. If the persimistic view of the author is proven true, which I hope not, this would effectively pronounce that the United States is FINISHED. Rita and Katrina compliments each other and destroys a considerable portion of American's crude oil and natural gas production, as well as refineries.

    With the shortage of natural gas, we would either not being able to produce enough electrocity to keep the grid running, not not be able to produce fertilizers the whole world rely on to harvest food for the world population. You have experienced the North East blackout a year ago, all it took to trigger that was one of the line was slightly overloaded. What if up to 30% of power plants had to shut down due to lack of natural gas?

    The grid will be gone and a widespread blackout will be triggered when the temperature is worst this winter, when the load of the grid will be highest. Many people will be freezed to death due to either lack of electricity or lack of heating oil. It's going to be a very miserable winter this year.


  2. Remind you this guy is NOT a nobody, if he is being invited to a Congressional Hearing. Also his opinion is echoed by many other people in the economy and in the energy sector. Bloomberg is already calling it a national disaster, before it even happens.


  3. Dear Quantoken,

    I don't think natural disasters within the U.S. will bankrupt your economy, unless you have to pay 'small potato' nations to come in and fix the damage!

    The money the U.S. spends will be spent internally, and will help the economy by providing work for other Americans. Any tax rise to cover the cost will be largely offset by the boost given to the economy by the repair work.

    I don't think the issues you have with electricity are real, if power issues get really bad, people can buy solar cells to put on their roofs and accumulate power during daytime. It won't power air conditioning, but it would run laptops. The price of efficient solar cells has been falling. The fact that nobody dos this yet just goes to prove that there is no real energy problem yet.

    I think Lubos' remarks on visas needed by former communist states is referring to American attitudes, where they automatically suspect all foreigners to be spies or terrorists until proved otherwise. In order to prove themselves not spies, they have to do as we did and join in America's war on terror. In other words, sent troops to Iraq indefinitely, to be petrol bombed by the ungrateful locals, while costing a vast sum. With tax increases in Britain to make up these expenses, for example petrol is now reaching £1 a litre ($6.85 a gallon at today's exchange rate of 1.81 dollars per pound), a recession could start and we could really become a 'small potato nation'.

    People in America can survive in winter by getting extra blankets and warm clothing. It is possible to survive in a tent in the arctic if you have the right sleeping bags and high energy food. You don't need to rely on external heaters. It's a problem of preventing heat loss: thermal insulation.

    Best wishes,

  4. Dear Quantoken,

    I am not talking about Rita because I have nothing too interesting and certain to say about it.

    It is the history's 3rd strongest hurricane, with pressure 897 millibars - stronger than Katrina. Nevertheless, I predict that once it hits the land, it will be a non-event. The casualties will be at least 1 order of magnitude below Katrina's (which are around 1,000). The economic damage will be orders of magnitude below Katrina, too - simply because there is no New Orleans on the way.

    Rita is the very same kind and size of hurricane that hit the very same place in Texas in 1900 and killed 6,000 people or so. I predict that the casualties will be uncomparably smaller, as evidence of our stronger technological prowess today.

    Hurricanes, category 5, used to be pretty standard things. There have been two in a year in 1960 (or 1961?). People forgot that there should be hurricanes like that roughly every other year. I don't think that every new one deserves a new article before something actually happens.

    Best wishes

  5. Incidentally, I also predict that the motion of Rita's center of mass will slow down so that it won't hit land this week, as officially predicted, but next week, if ever, and it will already be a weak storm.

  6. Nigel:

    The solar panel price is actually going up due to extreme shortage and the shortage could even go up much further when people start to realize the grid is not as reliable as they thought in providing electricity. Actually with tax insentives etc, installing solar panel is becoming economically sensible and attractive for those people why are paying high electricity bills. You pay much more per kilowatt-hour if you use more electricity. My neighbor up above my backyard installed solar panels and he saved at least $400 to $500 electricity bill just for heating his swimming pool.

    Lobos: I don't give a damn if any one is killed by RITA. If New Orleans is any lesson at all, every one who is not dumb to the point of un-salvageable should escape now and they have plenty of time this time. So human casualty will be low. But damage to oil facilities will be unavoidable. And consequence of supply disruption will be a MAJOR MAJOR problem, serious enough to bring this country to its knees, because we are already at the PEAK OIL.

    Diesel fuels will be in extreme shortage since virtually all diesel refineries are in the RITA affected area.

    In an era of abundant oil that's no problem at all, we simply import more from other countries. But since we are at the peak oil and every one barely make ends meet, no one has spare diesel fuel or spare refinery product to sell us. Even if some one can sell us the shortfall of diesel, there is no spare oil tanks to carry them to us. All the oil tanks in the world are already fully booked transporting crude or refined oil around the world. If you empty some oil tank to carry diesel to USA, you are simply converting one shortage to another.

    Without diesel, there will be no machineries or combines running to harvest the food from the field. And there will be no running trucks carrying food to grocery stores, and all consequences due to shortage to transportation and production shortage. Isn't a serious problem already if people can't buy food from grocery stores?

    And natural gas will be in an even worse shortage also. Unlike oil, you can not import natural gas by tankers. Most of America's natural gas is produces domestically and it's already in short supply in recent years without hurricane. Natural gas is mainly used for three things, 50% for making fertilizers that the modern agriculture rely on to grow food. Without fertilizer, the harvest will be slashed to only 1/3 or 1/4. And it is NOT like the world already have enough food to feed all its populations and 1/3 of food will be enough. So you see how serious it is.

    And then 30% of natural gas is used for generating electricity. Especially it is used to kick in to generate peak electricity power. Imagine what happens when the grid is overloaded and certain generators need to kick in to generate extra power to balance the grid. They can't due to lack of natural gas. It could cause overload and force the generators to be shut down, putting more burden on the rest of the grid, and it will shut down one by one due to overload, causing massive blackout, like the great North East blackout we saw. If it happens during the cold of the winter, it would be the least of your worry that you are unable to use your laptop computer!!!

    You see how horribly horribly we are dependent on fossil fuels? And what kind of catastrophic consequence results when there is a serious shortage. The fact is we are approaching or past peak oil, and such horrible consequences are becoming a reality. And some would still think they are "rational" enough to discuss spend big money on LHC. Wake up! Even if it's built, the Genewa city will not be able to afford the electricity to run it.


  7. Correction:
    my neighbor saved at least $400 to $500 electricity bill PER MONTH