AAA Drafting Blog

A SolidWorks designer talks about stuff related to CAD and mechanical design

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The F-35, Joint strike search and rescue fighter

The recent 16 billion dollar purchase of F-35 stealth fighters is a triumph in buying American . While Canada needs more search and rescue planes to patrol the oceans the Canadian government decides to purchase stealth fighters. One wonders what kind of a changing role the Canadian air force has up its sleeve for these high tech seek and destroy weapons.

Perhaps the stealth and speed will allow our pilots to sneak up on sailors before they even get shipwrecked. The pilot can launch missiles at the pesky shoals or reefs blowing them up, preventing any marine disaster from ever happening.

Canadian Pilots flying the joint strike fighter solo over the arctic are assured that the fighters engine is more “robust” and unlikely to fail. Much like the Titanic was unsinkable. It will be cold comfort to a our pilots, reflecting on their emergency manual which said “relax, your jet engine is robust” as they eject in 50 below temperature.

Worse, the purchase of joint strike fighters protect American jobs, not Canadian ones, as the purchase of Bombardier search and rescue planes would have. Unfortunately when the Pentagon barks, we have to pay attention. This was true in the days of the Avro Arrow and now again with the F-35 joint strike fighter.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Farmers feed cities, but not with solar power

The McroFIT program scares me to death. This is the Ontario government program which promises to pay the owners of small scale solar panel installations 0.80 per kw/hr for power generated from their solar panel energy farm installations.

Just recently the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) adjusted the rate payable so that solar panel installations in farmers fields receive to only 0.58 per kw/hr. This after 11,000 farmers applied to the program in good faith, expecting to reap the benefits of electricity as a new cash crop.

To add insult to injury, the OPA retained the 0.80 per kw/hr rate only for city dwellers and maintained that they never expected the16,000 applications to come from farmers. Not suprisingly farmers had figured out you could get make good money generating power from an open field than any south facing city rooftop.

Theres a lot of things to be concerned about here, beyond the OPA slight to hard working farmers. As consumers, how can we afford to pay anyone 5 to 10 times more to produce electricity than we actually pay for it.

This scares me most because perhaps it gives consumers an indication of where the cost of electricity is ultimately going. Are we all going to be paying updwards of 0.80 to 1.00 a kw/hr for power in the not too distant future to accomplish a “sustainable” electricity supply ?

If the OPA could not figure out that small solar power producers were going to jump all over the free money they were offering, what were they thinking ? Was it just possible that this program was supposed to be purely for optics to show the world that Ontario was at the forefront of grass roots energy sustainability for cities ?

Worse still, the OPA is sticking it to the Ontario farmer, who honestly expended their time, effort and money spent planning and building solar panel installations. Not expecting their government would renege on an agreement to pay them 0.80 kw/hr.

Personally I would rather see farmers paid to develop the answer to power generation problems than to see tax dollars soaked up by nuclear power development projects. At least you know the average farmer is far less likely to reward himself with outrageous salaries and perks and spend money with wild abandon building nuclear facilities that end up getting mothballed.