Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I encountered an interesting word this morning: hedonics. I have been meditating on nuclear power since the recent unpleasantness in Japan, which is how some nuclear proponents seem to be viewing it. Mitch McConnell said that we shouldn't let what was happening in Japan affect how we think of nuclear power in the US. I guess Mitch has been listening to Frank Zappa's It Can't Happen Here.

The lead Talk of the Town New Yorker article is about nuclear power and mentions that, at its inception under Eisenhower in the 50s, insurance companies decided it was too risky to insure. They said they would only insure plants to one tenth of what they estimated a nuclear accident would cost. A government insurance pool was created for the nuclear industry instead.

All power generation has environmental costs, of course, even solar. I wondered what the effect of solar panels was on the resale value of a home, mostly because there are a LOT of houses with solar panels in my 'hood. The city of Austin, which owns its own power company, has generous rebates and citizen-friendly incentives for putting panels on your house. It's still freaking expensive, but pays out in a bit less than 10 years, with a life rating of 20, so you get perhaps 10 years of free electricity. Not a bad thing for someone hoping to retire...

I couldn't find a lot of info on the resale issue, but this little blurb from the Christian Science Monitor caught my eye:

This study uses a large sample of homes in the San Diego area to provide some of the first capitalization estimates of the resale value of homes with solar panels as compared to comparable homes without solar panels. While the residential solar home market continues to grow, there is surprisingly little direct evidence on the market capitalization effect. We find evidence using both hedonics and a repeat sales index approach that solar panels are capitalized at roughly a 3% premium. This premium is larger in communities with more registered Prius hybrid vehicles and in communities featuring a larger share of college graduates.
he·don·ics (h-dnks)
n. (used with a sing. verb)
1. The branch of psychology that studies pleasant and unpleasant sensations and states of mind.
2. Philosophy The branch of ethics that deals with the relation of pleasure to duty.
hedonics [hiːˈdɒnɪks]
n (functioning as singular)
1. (Psychology) the branch of psychology concerned with the study of pleasant and unpleasant sensations
2. (Philosophy) the study of pleasure, esp in its relation to duty

The part of the abstract where it says that the 'premium is larger in communities with more registered Prii' cracked me up. I joke that in my neighborhood you're most likely to be run over by a bicyclist or a Prius driver who's talking on their smart phone while sipping their green tea from a eco-friendly cup.

And, finally this morning, a present from the NY Times... Pictures of clouds.

A couple of recent-ish journal spreads...
pages 60-61 from Red Lead...

pages 72-73 from Red Lead...

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