Rod Blum is a Coward

Rod Blum is scared of his constituents.  According to his website he has zero events scheduled.  None.  The last event that is listed occurred in October. Not one town hall.  Not one silly tele-town hall or Facebook event or “ask me anything” digital event.  Nothing.

Recently, constituents in Cedar Rapids—which is the largest city in Rod Blum’s district—protested in front of his office downtown.  Naturally, Rod Blum was not available for comment or anything really.  Why?  He is a coward.

What do you get when you contact Rod Blum’s office and ask when his next face-to-face with constituents will occur?  Nothing.

What do you get when you contact Rod Blum’s office and ask if he supports a Congressional investigation into Russian interference in our nation’s electoral process?  Nothing.

What do you get when you contact Rod Blum’s office and ask if he supports a Congressional investigation into the current President’s potential conflicts of interest?  Nothing.

What do you get when you contact Rod Blum’s office and ask if he supports the repeal of the Affordable Care Act?  Oh, he supports that one but his office is fuzzy on the details of what to do about the millions of people who will lose health insurance coverage.  I am sure it is going to be “beautiful coverage” like our new orange overlord has said.  Too bad he is on the wrong side of his constituents on that issue.

You get the idea.  Rod Blum is afraid to actually tell his constituents where he stands on issues because he is afraid that people will realize that he does not represent their interests.  He represents Rod Blum getting elected to future terms as a member of Congress.

Friday Linkage 1/20/2017

It will be official in a little bit, but Donald J. Trump is the President of the United States.  If the recent confirmation hearings are any indication we are in for many years of incompetent officials, corrupt hangers on, and a Republican led Congress that cares more about scoring long sought after political points rather than actually helping people.

Get used to it because according to experts the spate of gerrymandering in 2010 will continue in 2020.  To actually flip control of Congress to Democrats would take an estimated Presidential election vote share of approximately 60%.  The best that we can hope for is a prevention of the most extreme Republican agenda via the filibuster and that the Trump administration is so horrible that people actually wake up.  I am not holding my breath.

On to the links…

Iowa to See Fewer ‘Nice’ Days—Freaking climate change.  Yuck it up all you want about global warming making winter milder—which sucks for people who actually like winter—but a world where Iowa is more humid in the summer is the definition of hell.

People Still Don’t Know Obamacare is Just a Nickname for the ACA—Jimmy Kimmel may be doing it on late night television, but there are a lot of voters looking around wondering when Trump is going to repeal Obamacare and what that means for their state exchange or Medicare expansion. Guess what morons?  It’s going to suck.

Lessons for Navigating the Trump Economy — Drawn from the Developing World—Get ready for corruption on a yuge scale.  Imagine if any of Hilary Clinton’s potential cabinet secretaries had been accused of making stock purchases and writing favorable legislation?  Republicans would be livid. Now that it is their guy all we hear are crickets.  What a joke.

Trump’s Tax Trumpery—Get ready for the tax cut idol to make its appearance and for Republicans to prostrate themselves before its purity.  However, as this article lays out, tax cuts do not produce widespread economic growth because the benefits are concentrated on a few individuals.  You know, like the 8 people who have assets worth as much as half of the world’s population.

China Halts Over 100 Coal Power Projects—China is trying to kick its dirty coal habit.  It will be hard.  It will probably be expensive.  It might just be the last hope we have for the climate.

The Year Coal Collapsed: 2016 was a Turning Point for Britain’s Electricity—Few countries are as tied historically to the industrial revolution and the concurrent rise of coal power as the United Kingdom.  That same United Kingdom now gets less than 10% of its electricity from coal.  It can be done.

World Needs to Invest $25 trillion in New Oil Capacity over Next 25 years—That number is crazy.  Why not invest $1 trillion per year in renewables?  Oh right, this is coming from the guy running Saudi Arabia’s state owned oil company.

The Sleeping Giant Stirs: Russia Revs Up Renewable Tech—I suppose with the incoming administration that Russia is our new bae.  At least the news is not all bad in Putin-land.

When Will the Chevrolet Bolt Glide Into Your State? Find Out Here—Do you want a Chevy Bolt?  Get ready to wait unless you live in a state that did not vote for Donald Trump:

Chevrolet-Bolt-2017-distribution-plan-610x373.jpg

Go Ahead, Wander Your Way—I spend a lot of time outdoors and there is a lot of judgment by people enjoying the outdoors.  Does it really matter why you are getting outside if you are still getting outside? I say that it does not.

The Hermit Who Inadvertently Shaped Climate-Change Science—I wonder if true eccentrics are gone from our lives forever in a world where everything is documented on Facebook or Instagram.  Long live the freaks.

Friday Linkage 1/13/2017

Did that circus sideshow…er, press conference actually occur on Wednesday morning?  Is this the beginning of the end for the American experiment?  Or is it the beginning of the end of the Republican Party?  We can always hope.

Furthermore, can someone please tell right wingers to stop making comparisons to Nazi Germany.  One, it is factually wrong on so many levels and right wingers have been getting it wrong for the better part of a decade.  Just because the official party name included the word “socialist” does not mean that the Nazis had anything to do with socialism.  Two, it cheapens the horrors committed by the Nazis and their allies.

On to the links…

All the Risks of Climate Change, in a Single Graph—Try and think some happy thoughts:

nature_cc_reasons_for_concern_graph.png

States, Power Companies Lead in Cutting Carbon; Election Not Slowing Expected 2017 Progress—The Federal government may be screwed for the next several years, but paralysis at the national level will not stop progress by states and utilities.

US Energy Analysis Sees Renewable Electricity Passing Coal by 2030—Granted, natural gas is still going to be getting burnt.  A lot, but there is hope that we can kill the coal beast.

Arab Gulf Firms Set their Sights on the Region’s Growing Appetite for Solar Power—Lots of sunshine…check.  Available land…check.  Urban populations…check.  When oil rich gulf states are realizing the potential you know the jig is up.

Costa Rica got 98 Percent of its Electricity from Renewables in 2016—Costa Rica uses a lot less electricity per capita than other nations, but 98% is a totally rad figure.  Yes, I used the adjective rad.

China Is Pumping Hundreds of Billions of Dollars Into New Renewable Energy Projects by 2020—While the U.S. led by an orangutan dithers on what to do about the next generation of energy, China is blowing everyone’s doors off by investing billions on top of billions into renewables.

Clean-Energy Jobs Boosting Colorado’s Economy—The key element of this report is not the jobs related to energy production like wind turbine mechanics or solar installers, but the jobs around things like energy efficiency.  There is hay to make in driving efficiency into all corners of our economy.

Arizona still a Force in Solar Power, despite Other States’ Gains—The economics must be good because Arizona politicians have definitely tried to kill solar power on a number of occasions.

Infinite Solar Power Technology Could Completely Change Our Future—Headlines like this remind me of old newsreels that proclaimed nuclear power was going to be so cheap that it would be “too inexpensive to meter.”  How did that work out?

The Bizarre and Inspiring Story of Iowa’s Fish Farmers—What if our fish came from aquaculture in the middle of the U.S. instead of dirty farms in South America or Southeast Asia?  What is that fish was raised on plant based meal instead of ground of fish meal?  What if…

Nine Easy Things You Can Do To Save the Ocean—Some of this is obvious, but repetition is not always a bad thing when you are trying to change people’s behavior.

Friday Linkage 12/23/2016

This is it for 2016.  I would like to wish this year a gigantic f*ck you as it seemed like a real downer and I hold out hope that something in 2017 may redeem my faith in the United States.  Granted, this year was the moment when I saw the Chicago Cubs win the World Series which was something my father and grandfather never got to see.  Damn.

I sincerely hope that everyone enjoys the holiday season with their families.  Turn off the television, put down the phones, and spend a few minutes with the ones you love in pure analog bliss.

On to the links…

Skiing Is Not Important—Why don’t we lead off with a little philosophy.  It is totally true.  Skiing is not important in the “will I survive through the night” kind of way, but everyone should do it.  Or no one should do it.  I loved the following part of the article:

Mountain air, the smell of hot wax, the sound of cables on lift towers, laughing with friends, laughing at friends, testing your limits or just cruising and not testing anything at all, caring more about weather than you ever thought possible, sacrificing comfort, security, and relationships just to furrow fields of snowfall for no practical reason whatsoever.

Pretty much sums up the dream.

Winter Park Express Ski Train Adds Another Car to Meet Demand from Denver Union Station—You mean to say that people actually like and use mass transit when it goes to places people actually want to go?  Wow.

Trump, Putin and the Pipelines to Nowhere—I hope the carbon bubble becomes a thing in 2017.  Like investors fleeing coal, the same thing could happen to other fossil fuels if demand falls just enough to begin initiating the death spiral.  In a world that demands constant growth from investments this is a most powerful market force.

There is No Reason to Ever Build Another Coal Plant in the United States—Granted, there are a lot of coal plants in operation now.  Those plants, however, will get more expensive to fuel as coal demand drops and harder to maintain as the industrial base surrounding them erodes.

Coal’s Big US Stronghold is Losing Steam, Even as Trump Aims for a Revival—I cannot wait to see if Trump spends what little political capital he has—losing the popular vote by almost 3 million votes and entering office with the lowest favorability ratings in history do not make for a mandate—trying to revive coal as he promised on the campaign trail.  Now, he is a charlatan and a liar so he was probably just doing that to rile up people.

Solar is Top Source of New Capacity on the US Grid in 2016—This is demand destruction in process. Each solar panel or solar thermal facility represents another kilowatt of electricity that does not require a single gram of coal.

World Energy Hits a Turning Point: Solar That’s Cheaper Than Wind—Solar, with no moving parts and silent panels sucking up the sun, is actually cheaper than wind in some places.  Think about that for a minute.

All the State Energy Legislation from 2016, in One Place—Over the coming years the states and, to a lesser degree, cities are going to be where the action takes place on renewable energy.

Make Your Life Less Oily in 2017—Since the federal government is in the hands of fossil fuel crony capitalists, we have to take the initiative to reduce our use of fossil fuels.  This article serves as a nice starting point to figure out where the low hanging fruit might be.  Suggestion: get out your bicycle and pedal.

On Isle Royale, Park Service Intervenes to Save Nature—I am fairly conflicted about this intervention.  After reading The New Wild I wonder if our conception of nature has an ecosystem in harmony is relevant anymore.

Newly discovered soil microbes may have helped eat methane after Porter Ranch natural gas leak—The gas leak near Porter Ranch in southern California was a freaking ecological disaster of some truly epic proportions.  However, it looks like nature may have found a way to ameliorate some of the damage.  Nature always finds a way.

USDA says Use-By Labels aren’t Really Needed on Foods—Now I do not feel so guilty about using hot sauce that was past its “expiration” date.

Stuff I Like: RumbleRoller Foam Roller

I have spent the past month or so really dialed in to getting prepared for the upcoming ski season.  At the ripe old age of 38 I did not want to be that guy on the slopes who goes hard his first day out and spends the next week walking around like his legs are welded at the knee.

The only downside to an intense focus on building a base of strength and explosive power around multi-part kettlebell movements and an array of core focused exercises is that I really feel it in my shoulders and hamstrings some mornings.  As it gets colder, I feel it a little more.

If I were a rich man, I would rely on the trained fingers of a masseuse to work deep into the affected tissue and knead the soreness away.  Alas, the closes I can get to a masseuse on a regular basis is begging my five year old son to pretend my back is a bed of hot coals and have him walk on me.  Not a pretty picture.

Instead, I turn to a RumbleRoller Foam Roller:

IMG_0933 (1).png

The idea behind foam rolling is that it allows for myofascial release, which is a fancy way of saying applying gentle and sustained pressure to the connective tissue of one’s body for the purpose of relieving pain and/or restoring motion.  Evidence of efficacy is apparently lacking in the scientific or medical journal world, but anecdotal and personal evidence abounds.  I will tell you that I am a believer because I have seen and felt the impacts on my own body.

Using a RumbleRoller primarily on my upper back, shoulders, hamstrings, and calves has allowed me to recover quicker from resistance training.  Furthermore, it has helped to restore range of motion and reduce pain in a shoulder that has suffered from severe tendonitis.  I spend about five minutes, sometimes closer to ten, almost every night and it has made a world of difference as I trundle down the path of improved fitness.  A “nubbed” roller like the RumbleRoller is preferable, in my opinion, because the raised bumps have enough height and spacing to really dig into pressure or trigger points.

The RumbleRoller comes in two densities: Original and Extra Crispy…er, Extra Firm.  I own the Extra Firm version which may be a little aggressive for some users new to foam rolling or who have extremely sensitive deep tissue.  I love the Extra Firm version because I feel that it really digs into the deep tissue to get at lingering soreness from a long day on the slopes or in the saddle.

Now, you may find people online who claim that myofascial release is the stuff of quackery, akin to homeopathy.  This is not a treatment for all that ails you.  Any treatment that claims to be the cure all for a grab bag of ills is likely a false prophet of wellness.  However, for helping to relieve MSK pain and restore range of motion a tool like the RumbleRoller is a home run.

Note: I bought and paid for the RumbleRoller with my own funds and have received no compensation from RumbleRoller whatsoever.

Friday Linkage 12/16/2016

Is Donald Trump just trolling America now with his picks?  The Scott Pruitt choice was bad, but Rick Perry to lead the Department of Energy is just ridiculous.  Rick Perry literally does not know what the Department of Energy does.  Most of the people claiming he will do a good job talk about his coming from an oil and gas state.  Never mind that oil and gas exploitation falls under other federal agencies and the Department of Energy actually spends most of its time and budget on nuclear responsibilities.  Maybe we will get a return of George W. Bush’s interesting pronunciation of nuclear.

On to the links…

Full Levelized Cost of Electricity In the United States by County—This is an amazing interactive map that lets you play with assumptions about cost, tax incentives, etc. to see at what the lowest LCOE of various electricity generation methods would be by county.  I am surprised that nuclear is able to be competitive in any of these scenarios.

If Trump Wants to Dismantle Obama’s EPA Rules, Here are all the Obstacles He’ll Face—Given the makeup of the cabinet and its glaring lack of experience in public service, I cannot wait to see them whine, moan, and bitch that government does not operate like their personal business fiefdoms.  No shit Sherlock, there is a reason that government does not work like a private business…it’s not a private business.

Solar Capacity has Increased 99% since Last Quarter—Maybe the best thing I have heard in a while: “The industry is booming, and President Trump will be hard-pressed to stop it.”

White House Releases Strategy for Deep Decarbonization by 2050—Save this document because we are about to spend four years without such vision.  We are far more likely to see reports about how we can make America great again by being big league and classy and yuge.

The End of the Commonwealth—The gilded age has returned and the crony capitalists have swept into power.  Populism was co-opted to allow for a takeover by wealthy elites.  The “blue collar billionaire” who criticized his opponent for giving speeches to Goldman Sachs has tapped former employees of the bank for key positions and even nominated the CEO of the most reviled oil company to be Secretary of State.  Our government is at the service of a very few very rich people.

Without These Ads, There Wouldn’t be Money in Fake News—The dictum “follow the money” has always been true.  Without the ability to garner revenue from clicks, fake news would be a gnat’s ass.

Renewables Produce 56% Of Denmark’s Domestic Electricity—The U.S. is unlikely to be leading a lot in this area for the next few years, so we need to take solace in the world making progress.

Solar Panels have been Benefiting the Climate ‘since 2011’—The carbon debt has been paid.

Your Hobby Is Action, Not Accumulation—I used to be so guilty of this when it came to books.  I read a lot, but I still acquired books like crazy.  It became more about a good looking library as opposed to actually reading and accumulating knowledge.  At what point do the things we own begin to own us?

I Love Meat. But these New “Bleeding” Veggie Burgers Convinced Me to Give it up for Good.—These burgers are only available in limited markets right now, but I cannot wait to try them once availability increases to more markets.  Now, if they could tackle the whole veggie bacon thing we would be cooking so to speak.

Homeopathic “Drugs” Will Have to Carry Disclaimers That They Are Bunk—Finally.  Homeopathic drugs are just ridiculous.  It’s like the snake oil salesmen of yesteryear were allowed to continue peddling patent medications without any repurcussions.

First Industrial Hemp Seeds Certified by Colorado Department of Agriculture—The “Green Rush” hype in Colorado has focused on the recreational smoking aspect of marijuana legalization, but there has been a steady increase in the interest of farmers and industry to exploit industrial—e.g. non-psychoactive—hemp as an alternative crop.

Degrowth Is Punk as F*ck—Maybe this is the answer.

Friday Linkage 12/9/2016

It seems like the announced cabinet for President-Elect Trump, which still makes me vomit a little in my mouth every time I say it, gets worse every day.  Now we have Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency.  This is a guy who has made a career out of suing the EPA.  Is it any wonder that government fails to work when we elect people who do not want to make it work?

On to the links…

Why the International Energy Agency has Grown Bullish, but Perhaps not Bullish Enough, on Renewables—In Trump land I do not know if we can be bearish enough about anything environmentally friendly.  I fear that the next four years will be nothing but walking backwards into climate change oblivion.

Trump Advisors Aim to Privatize Oil-Rich American Indian Reservations—I am sure that this will go really well.  Nothing like allowing Trump’s fossil fuel besties to grab resources from native communities.

Four Reasons 30% Wind and Solar is Technically No Big Deal—The important part of this story is that there are places that are already operating at over 30% renewables.  We have made a lot of progress and need to fight to make it stick.

Solar Panels Repay their Energy ‘Debt’—One of the negatives that climate change deniers and fossil fuel lovers like to spew is that solar panels can never produce more energy than was used in the manufacture of the panels.  Wrong.

U.S. Brewery Count Topples 5,000-mark per Brewers Association 2016 Year in Review—5,000 breweries is amazing and scary.  Is this a bubble?

My DIY IKEA Backpack—In the forthcoming Trumpocalypse I can see lots of people having to make survival gear from whatever they can find around.  These blue IKEA bags may be the bees knees.