But the good news is …

Bloomberg reports that A $1 Billion Solar Plant Was Obsolete Before It Ever Went Online.

The US taxpayer faces an eye-watering bill. Which is very bad. But the interesting thing to me is why it was obsolete:

By the time the plant opened in 2015, the increased efficiency of cheap solar panels had already surpassed its technology, and today it’s obsolete — the latest panels can pump out power at a fraction of the cost for decades with just an occasional hosing-down.

I am not a close student of solar power, but to my uneducated eye this sounds like very good news. The savings that this rapid solar tech progress will yield will surely be worth far more than whatever the US government wasted (by being too impatient and/or corrupt) on this particular slice of pork.

There’s a graph in the Bloomberg piece which says that the “Cost of Solar Technology in $ Per Megawatt-Hour” has fallen from around $350 in 2009 to around $50 in 2019. Which sounds like quite a drop. I had heard rumours about how solar power is getting cheaper, but I had not realised how rapid this improvement had been. And, I’m guessing, will go on being.

New and overdue category here: “Energy”.

Soleimani etc.

In connection with the death of Qasem Soleimani, Mick Hartley posts this picture [photo credit: AFP]:

Plenty of Middle Easterners are now, it seems, rejoicing.

In another posting, Hartley quotes Gerard Baker of The Times saying:

… But this wasn’t simply a case of retributive justice. This was no Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden or Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who were all essentially busted flushes when they met justice. Soleimani was the mastermind of a vast programme of slaughter, enslavement and repression that was continuing across the Middle East until the day he died. …

Meanwhile the Daily Mail offers this characteristically terse headline:

‘Death to liars!’ Iranian protesters in Tehran turn against regime and demand the Ayatollah RESIGN after country’s military admits it shot down passenger plane full of its own citizens

But no, I too had never heard of Soleimani until Trump had him killed.

Private Kissinger

Here is one of many fascinating little details from Snow & Steel by Peter Caddick-Adams (pp. 662-663), which is about the Battle of the Bulge:

[T]he town of Krefeld, a port lying on the west bank of the Rhine and north-west of Dusseldorf, had fallen to the US 84th (Railsplitters) Division, part of Simpson’s Ninth Army. Order needed to be restored to the town’s 200,000 inhabitants quickly, so the only GI in Divisional Intelligence who spoke German (the rest knew French) was promoted to become Administrator of Krefeld, in charge of everything from gas, water, power and transportation to garbage and hunting war criminals. The fact that he was a mere private mattered not; within eight days he had rebuilt Krefeld’s civilian government: the name of this multi-talented individual was Henry A. Kissinger.

That this book contains so many small pleasures like this one is all part of why it contains so many pages.

Ancient cars in LA

Indeed:

That was photoed by this blog’s setter-up Michael Jennings, last month, in Los Angeles. Presumably these cars were for some sort of movie or TV show. Whenever you see cars being carried about in lorries like that in London, that’s why they’re doing it.

I missed this photo when MJ first put it up at his Facebook site. But I encountered it more recently when an email incame, alerting me to another MJ photo. I liked that one, but then I scrolled back through all his recent Facebooked photos, and liked the above photo even more.

Another podcast I just listened to that was good

Here.

It’s Bryan Caplan (the guy who gave this lecture that I recently attended), talking to Darren Grimes of the IEA. Caplan disagrees with most voters, but in an ingratiating way. As he himself says towards the end of the conversation, if you have disagreeable things to say, say them agreeably and people will be more likely to listen.

LATER: Now, I’m listening to another interview. Scott Adams autobiographising. Terrific.

4-4-0

This evening I happened upon episode 1 of Trains That Changed The World on Yesterday TV, the show which has Steve Davies in it. This was the episode I missed the first time around, so I am very happy about this.

For the first half of the show, we were in Britain, covering the Stephensons and the transformation that trains wrought, as you’d expect, upon Britain. But then we crossed the Atlantic, and learned how trains put the U in USA. Which all the talking heads, including Davies, agreed that they did.

In particular I learned about this loco:

On the left, an Old Photo of what I take to be, more or less, the original. And on the right, painted in totally implausible paints of many colours, and also photoed in full colour, a Reproduction produced in the 1970s. And looking like it’s just got the part of its lifetime in Back to the Future 3.

This is the 4-4-0, the Model T of the railroad track. The big thing I learned about the 4-4-0 (which gets its name from its wheels) is that it burns wood rather than coal, on account of America being made of trees rather than coal; and that the big bulge on its chimney is to stop solid bits of burning wood pouring out and setting fire to America. I did not know this.

The Hong Kong news is good (for now)

Hong Kong just had two big reasons to celebrate. First, there was the result of their recent elections, which Hong Kong won and the Chinese Communists lost. And second, the USA just passed a law supporting the HongKongers, with wide support across the political spectrum. American politicians can agree about very little just now, but they do agree about what the Chinese Communists are doing to Hong Kong. They’re against it. Pretty much all of them.

Here’s the photo at the top of a piece about how Hong Kong is now celebrating this law:

And, since this is my blog, let me mention also that I too have today expressed my displeasure at the behaviour in Hong Kong of the Chinese Communist government of China, by posting a posting at Samizdata entitled How to defeat the Chinese Communists.

That’ll show them.

I have a meeting about Hong Kong at my home, tomorrow night. Judging by the RSVPs so far, the room will be comfortably full, and maybe even uncomfortably full.