Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Morax

After writing about Kior, I am reminded of the Dr. Seuss book the Lorax.   In the Lorax the Once-ler was a greedy industrialist who felled all the Trufulla Trees to knit Thneeds his comical yet versatile yarn for socks, shirts, hats and even carpets.

Of course after all the Trufulla Trees are felled, the Once-ler’s enterprise fails and the Once-ler lives as a recluse in the Street of the Lifted Lorax.  A young boy visits the Once-ler and pays the Once-ler 15 cents, a nail, and the shell of a grandfather snail to explain why the area is so run down and dilapidated.

Well Folks we now have the sequel to the Lorax and this book is The Morax.  Remember children M comes after L in the alphabet.  In Latin Morax means “that delays’ or “that stops”.  In demonology The Morax is a daemon that is the President of Hell.   

In the Morax we do not have the Once-ler.  We have the Mega-lors who live on the Crooked Sand Hill Road.  They are the megalomaniacal VCs who have screwed us over and over with their UnTrufulla yarns of making biofuels from trees, grass, straw, and even seaweed.    The definition of the Mega-lors is a psycho-pathological condition characterized by delusional fantasies of renewable power, relevance, or omnipotence.  

Unlike the child who spent only 15 cents , a nail, and the shell of a grandfather snail to hear the story, we paid tens of billions of dollars to live through this thermodynamic fake out.   The timber barons in Northern California tried to ban the Lorax in public schools.  I got a feeling the Morax will be banned in Silicon Valley.

The sequel to the Morax is not the Norax but is the Moraxella.  Moraxella are rod shaped pathogens that cause infections in humans.  We simply have nothing to look forward to.


  1. It used to be public money was spent on public good. Government research money was provided to universities to provide both education, and research results. Now the money is spent supporting startups hoping the private sector, leveraging government support, is more efficient at producing results than the government. Effectively it is a jobs program - whether any particular technology makes sense is left to the private sector, free market, to sort out. You do not have to be accountable just because you’re receiving government subsidies; in fact, accountability equates to government regulation, and we don’t want an intrusive overbearing government. Rather, we want a government bought and paid for by the money distributed by the government… Most teenagers wish they could find a way to put their parents in that position.

    1. Sounds like China to me where some pigs are more equal than others. The US government should support basic research and the rest should be up to the marketplace to figure out who should win and who should lose. In the world of the Morax the field is vertical not level and the Megalors who have the government in their pocket just keep on with their delusional fantasies of total yet renewable power. The Megalor behind Kior is a big time contributor to the politicians that support his enterprise. The same Megalor brought us Range Fuels another woody bust. Perhaps the Megalor's greatest challenge to second law of thermodynamics was his claim to make cement from sea water and carbon dioxide. This Megalor should go back to Bangalore

  2. One of the unfortunate consequences of government support of the private sector is that we, the US, spends the money on the R&D and then loses control of it as these private companies go belly up. The patents and intellectual property that these companies hold should be retained or at least paid for. As it stands, the last person in line to get their money back is the government... which of course never happens. And of course, just because US companies hold intellectual rights to anything does not mean the products produced will be manufactured here. A few years ago I was told that to get the Chinese business for gas turbines, GE put their turbine technology on the table. In other words, give us your business and we'll teach you how to manufacture them... Not really a sustainable business model, but then again GE have some pretty stiff competition.

  3. Look the inventions of one company are copied by others and only in a few instances can the courts really uphold the IP. The battle between Apple and Samsung will go on for years in the courts. I bet you that the Chinese have the formula for Coca Cola and could make it if they wanted to. The DOE was plain dumb thinking we could beat China in solar PV power when the Chinese went down the route of selling PV modules for below cash cost of production. We don't need a government that is a clone of China. We need to tell the world we have land, food, water and shale gas and oil. We certainly have enough of these for ourselves for ourselves and can export our surplus food. Let the Chinese give us gifts of goods they sell below their cash production cost to keep the masses from swarming. Let's produce our shale gas and oil and let's buy Ford C Max hybrids. But let us not delude ourselves that we will have copious amounts of diesel from wood, straw, corn stalks, seeweed, or switchgrass. Let's also not delude ourselves that mother nature intended photosynthesis to propel almost a billion vehicles. Mother nature like this old Chemical Engineer is very tired of the stupidity that prevails on the planet. Tesla won car of the year and Ernst and Young chose Tesla as their top company. Remember Arthur Anderson approved the books of Enron. We have some mighty stupid gurus. Someday in the future a kid studying chemistry may stumble upon this blog and ask the teacher how people in 2012 could believe that see weed was a possible source of advanced biofuels. The teacher will respond that because the morons on the planet over fished the ocean there was no longer any fish for Sushi and the VC's thought it was a great business plan to get help from the kelp to propel their vehicles that had a mass of 4,000 pounds and only one occupant.