Saturday, March 29, 2008

Heat pumps (Shock, Horror) use Electricity!

This just has to be a No Shit, Sherlock moment for the hapless central planners of our funny little economy.

For the otherwise unenlightened, the backstory is that, due to Clean Air fixations, wherein chimneys emitting smoke are deemed to be a Bad Thang, there is a movement afoot to replace open fires and old wood fires, with 'clean' heat sources. And to encourage the masses, there are Gummint Subsidies to make a switch. (Bad puns, I've told you before. Sorry, Ed)

Heat pumps are a huge beneficiary of this move.

Oh dear, they cause a switch from sustainable, carbon based fuels (trees, unnerstan?) to electricity. Where peak load is generated from gas and coal. Nasty, dirty stuff, accordin' to some.

Which (spare generating capacity) NZ is rather short of at the minute. Double oh dear.

And heat pumps, particularly those of the reverse cycle persuasion, can also Cool. Cool pumps use power too! Damn, that wasn't in the Planners Plans! Folks were just meant to Heat with the things...And they Cool things in Summer, when electricity generation raw materials were traditionally stockpiled for Winter. Triple oh dear.

Funny, whodathunkit, them Central Planners never saw any o'this a'comin'.....

And you'd have to prise the remote controls for all them Heat Pumps from consumers' cold dead hands.....

Friday, March 28, 2008

Earth Hour = Soft fascism

Couldn't agree more with This (ht Tim Blair). While I'm wholly in favour of reducing consumption (and am well ahead of the curve, in that I have LED lights drawing 1-3 watts each as downlight replacements), I abhor the collectivist pressure inherent in EH.

And there's a less-well-publicised aspect to dimly lit precincts and premises that you won't hear about anytime soon from the promoters: they are, quite simply, crime magnets.

Earth Hour = A'robbin' we will go!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Little Boxes

The proposal to streamline the building industry consents etc process is gathering steam. Not PC has easily the best summary of my views - planners, who needs 'em? They don't have anything to say about boats or cars. So why houses?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Bearing up

Great thread here, where the comments throw up all the usual suspects. And the lead paragraph is just it: what Were they thinking? Scapegoat time, methinks....

My own take on things is that of a Bear of Very Little Brain:

Sadly for conspiracy theorists, the US debacle is much simpler, much more widespread, and much more worrying. There are four underlying causes:

1 - the US has for many years spent rather more than it has earned, hence a continuing and chronic deficit which must be funded with Other Peoples Money.
2 - the Greenspan years encouraged cheap credit, with a built-in 'buy now, pay later' incentive, which has become entrenched in consumers' minds, especially as they figured out that there was an ATM bolted to their house value, and kept going and punching its buttons. And cheap credit = price bubbles.
3 - financial institutions have re-discovered leverage (but in a new way, because it's Different this time), and have used it to unprecedented heights (or widths, or depths, pick your metaphor). Bear's book assets supported a 32x multiple of business...and the variety of option and Adjustable Rate mortgage products was all too tempting.
4 - accounting leniency (especially the Qualifying Special Purpose Entities - QSPE's) allowed most or all of this financial wizardry to exist outside conventional balance sheets, reporting requirements and other regulatory safeguards. The mess was out of sight, out of mind.

So this Ponzi (meaning, dependent on new suckers coming in and paying cash) edifice is what's coming apart before our eyes. There are a lot of 'unknown unknowns':

- because of the opacity of the QSPE's, and of how to value the cross-linking chains of financial instruments, no-one has any real grasp of where the financial bodies are buried, or how many there are. And most everyone has a cellar. Thus when another cellar is excavated and another crop of recently deceased is uncovered, the vital element of mutual trust is further eroded. 'Who's next?' is the whisper.

- the Fed is out of ammo: it's treating this whole thing as a liquidity issue, and pumping in money. That merely fuels inflation, while leaving untouched the real issue: solvency. The off-balance-sheet junk is coming back On.

- real assets such as houses, which have become well overpriced in traditional household-income-to-phouse-price multiples, are returning to the safe zone of 2.5-3.5. Rather suddenly.

- there is a flight to 'safe' havens such as Treasuries and commodities. Unfortunately, as money floods in to commodities such as wheat, gold and oil, which are all highly supply-inelastic, the old rule of supply and demand kicks in and prices rise. And as oil and wheat etc are our grocery bills in raw form, guess what's happening to them...

If you can recognise li'l ol' NZ in some of these conditions (the chronic deficit BH rightly fingers above) then, yes, we should be worried, too. But we are a commodities maker (food, gold and to some extent oil and gas) so may be well placed to take advantage. And we have some of the best accounting reporting in the world (yes, don't laugh). So we can probably say that our cellars are relatively safe. Maybe a mummified rat or hedgehog. Nothing real bad. Pity 'bout those houses, but.

There has to be a marketing slogan in here, surely?

"NZ - Home of the Lowest Level 3 Asset ratio in the World!"

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Really Bad Rhymes

I seem to have been infected by a Rhyming Bug, and to exorcise it, have commented all over a bunch of otherwise blameless victims.

To hell with posterity, here they are, each with their context:

Cullen and tax cuts:

There was an old teacher named Michael
who chortled at down trending cycle
They'll have to vote we back
Instead of that Key hack
Let's nationalise Fisher and Paykel!

Damn Furreners and their money:

A Fly on the wall of Floor 9
Eavesdropped on the Grand New Design
"To hell with the voters -
those ungrateful floaters -
we’ll foobar it all then resign!"

Politicos in general:

A caution for pollies who thirst
for power, and getting in first
for what you intend
may turn out in the end
to obliterate you in one burst

The poor old OBEGAL - Clementine occurred to me almost immediately and I just had to update it:

To the tune of ‘Clementine’. Y’all enjoy, now.

1. In an office, at the Treas’ry
hoping not to hit the wall
Lived a muller, Mickey Culler
and his offspring OBEGAL

Oh my darling, oh my darling,
Oh my darling OBEGAL
You are lost and gone forever,
Dreadful sorry, OBEGAL.

2. Light she was, her numbers leery,
And ninth floor did twist them all,
Ten wine boxes without topses,
scandals were for OBEGAL

3. Drove her voters ‘cross the water
As her taxes made them gall,
Hit her lowest polling ever,
Fell into internal brawl.

4. Roug’ed lips above the water,
Blowing bubbles through her shawl,
But alas, Mike was no swimmer,
Neither was my OBEGAL

5. In a graveyard near the Treas’ry,
Where the ngaios often fall,
There grow rosies and some posies,
Fertilized by OBEGAL

6. Listen fellers, heed the warning
Of this tragic load of bawl,
Lower taxes, better praxis
Could have saved my OBEGAL

But, y'all be pleased to hear, I'm better now.

Another climactic known is revealed to be unknown

This leetle bombshell affects, oh, around half the marine organisms in the world. In essence, by omitting the 'assumed in the current paradigm' step of releasing oxygen while consuming carbon dioxide, these organisms have never done a darn thing in the carbon cycle.

That sound you may hear if you listen closely is a whole bunch of Gerbil Worming gravy train riders saying 'bugger' and re-calibrating their GCM's to show that We're All Freaking Doomed, still. Gotta keep them grant shekels flowing.

The shekel quote:

Wolf Frommer, director of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Plant Biology, agrees about the discovery's ground-breaking importance. "If we thought we have understood photosynthesis, this study proves that there is much to be learned about these basic physiological processes."