Tag Archives: Daily Kos

Friday Linkage 6/19/2015

Summer is here and it is glorious. The vegetable garden is coming into its own—I even have little heads of cauliflower peeking out—and the miles are really starting to get racked up on the bike.

On to the links…

These New Quotes From Pope Francis Could Change The Debate On Climate Change—Climate change deniers will find a reason to quibble with the pope because their pocket books demand that they keep denying reality for their masters.

33% Of Electricity Produced In EU Now Comes From Renewables—Do I even need to comment on a headline like that?

Solar Power Passes 1% Global Threshold—One percent may not seem like a lot, but its significant because it means that solar is relevant in the grand scheme.

Survey Of Big Investment Companies Shows Why We Might Be On The Verge Of A Solar Power Boom—When big money begins investing in solar things will really take off.

Why Solar Panels are an Affordable and Smart Investment—I could just say, “Because they rock!” However, the logic is a little more sound than that:

JK_Solar_Infographic

100% Renewable Electricity For Minnesota Town’s Government Facilities—Talk about a solar garden!

India Just Upped Its Solar Target Five-Fold, Will Install More Solar This Year Than Germany—As the developing world deploys solar they will begin to leapfrog countries with a deeper investment commitment to the old fuel regime.

How In-Town Development Produces Less Traffic Than You Might Think—Car-centric development with bog boxes and acres of parking is really a dead end. No one, save for companies like WalMart, like the format because it is soul sucking in its conformity. Maybe the old way is better.

These Affordable Bamboo Houses were Built for Just $2,500 Each—When I see articles like this it makes me mad to read reports about how international organizations failed to build housing in Haiti despite millions in donations.

Farm Implement Clears Path for More Cover Crops—This is just cool. It’s cool to see old methods be made new by inventive engineering and a can do attitude.

Elementary Kids Dig Weeklong Camp about Urban Farming, Food—Kids need to dig around in the dirt and understand how our food is grown in order to grow up to become good consumers and stewards of the land.

Here’s the Latest Evidence of How Private Prisons Are Exploiting Inmates for Profit—Guess what? When you give companies a profit motive for keeping people in jail those companies are going to find ways to keep people in jail. Private prisons are one of the shames of our time.

How Walmart’s Hiding $76 billion in Secret Subsidiaries around the World—WalMart is a shitty company that take tax money to provide low wage jobs for people to sell stuff that is mostly made in China. Here’s a look at the subsidy picture:

Walmart-tax-haven-map-for-web

Friday Linkage 2/27/2015

February is almost in the books, but with about five inches of snow on the ground and more forecast over the next few days we should have good skiing into March. Just enough outdoor adventure to bridge until spring break.

On to the links…

Majority Of Republican Primary Voters Want To Violate The First Amendment—For people who tap little pocket copies of the Constitution every time they talk about President Obama, these clowns are pretty ignorant of the basic tenants of the document that they claim to hold so dear. Let me help them:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I do not think that the original intent of that amendment is very hard to interpret.  Even if your brain has been addled by countless hours of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

Noted Climate Contrarian in Hot Water—Wei-Hock “Willie” Soon, a noted climate change denier, has been completely “outed” as a shill for the fossil fuel industry as details of the big bucks funneled his way have come to light. Granted, truth and objectivity have never been traits the extreme right wing has looked for in its pundits.

Himalayan Ice Shows Chemicals Ban is Working—Stopping the distribution of these chemicals is a good thing. Science, the bugaboo of the right wing, works.

Wind Produced 10 Percent of Texas Electricity in 2014—Wow, 10% of Texas’—yes, Texas—electricity came from wind. Now, it’s a far cry from Iowa’s over 27% wind power percentage but we will cut them a little slack.

Wind Power Hits Record High In China’s Coal Hub—Usually when I comment about China it’s about dirty air or failed expectations, but this is good news. Shanxi is a polluted mess, but maybe things can be turned around with enough effort to deploy renewables.

India’s Air Pollution Is Cutting 3 Years Off The Lives Of Its Residents—Here is what is going to drive change in countries like India and China with regard to pollution. People will no longer accept ridiculous pollution as a prerequisite of development.

Diesel Braces For An Avalanche Of Solar Water Pumps—Solar is just awesome.

An Innovative Congestion Charge That Could Help Fix Our Crumbling Infrastructure—U.S. infrastructure is screwed right now. It’s in bad shape and national politicians have no plans to address the situation. At the state level things look a little better—heck, Iowa just passed a gas tax increase to address the shortfall in road repair revenue—but solutions are needed to bring in more revenue.

Despite Low Gas Prices, Car Buyers Still Want Higher-MPG Vehicles—People understand that today’s low gas prices will likely be gone by summer, but a vehicle is a choice you have to live with for years. No one should buy an SUV expecting sub-$2 gas for anything longer than a week or two.

Proterra’s New Electric Bus can go 180 Miles Between Charges—I do not know what the average daily mileage is for a city bus, but this is an interesting development.

Cow Manure to Ethanol Plant Switches On in California’s San Joaquin Valley—Why not? I would totally fill the tank with some ethanol from cow shit.

Is the Junk-Food Era Drawing to a Close?—The government is finally coming around to the evils of added sugar and people are voting with their wallets.

Pol: Spy On Food Stamp Users to Make Sure They’re Acting Poor Enough—Glenn Grothman is just the worst. The absolute worst this side of Steve King. Steve King is really the worst.

Could Hops Help Fight Cancer?—Maybe that dry-hopped IPA is more than just a palate wrecker on a Friday night. Maybe it’s medicine. Dig it.

Chickens Help Small Brewery Dispose of Used Grain—I have imbibed at Lion Bridge more than once, so I have helped to feed these chickens.

No More Pay TV

I might start sounding like an ascetic here pretty soon. I’ve cut my beer consumption down to near zero. I’ve reduced household spending to such a level that my wife might start howling over the winter. Yes, I turn the heat down to 56 degrees at night. Yes, it’s chilly but everyone is under several layers of down, fleece, and flannel. Deal.

Now, I’ve cut the cord. More accurately I ripped the dish off my house and cancelled DirecTV. Why? Like the average DirecTV customer my bill was ~$105 per month and the television had become a huge time suck. A little wiped out at the end of the day? Just sit down, fire up the DVR, and watch three hours of television shows you really do not care about. Pretty soon it is 10:00 PM and you are off to bed. Rinse and repeat the next day.

Stop the insanity.

With the latest increase in my bill notice coming via email I called DirecTV and cut the cord. The customer service representative was surprisingly pliant when I asked to cancel. It was not the horror show of redirection that I expected. I suppose that they think you will just be back shortly.

Another payoff of cutting the cord was the reduction in energy usage. As Markos Moulitsas has shown in his excellent series of posts on saving energy at Daily Kos  , the energy requirements of entertainment devices are huge. Here is the breakdown:

Even though I upgraded to DirecTV’s latest and most efficient receiver over the summer, my DirecTV infrastructure sucks up 42 watts of continuous power draw, or just over 1 kWh per day—about seven percent of my daily total usage, for something that is on 3-4 hours a day. Cable boxes, particularly those with DVRs, are equally inefficient. When I cut the cord, the 365 kWh I shave off my annual consumption will save me (at my average $0.19 rate) about $70, and that’s before I even tally the savings in programming (which will be dramatic).

My DirecTV infrastructure is probably similar—two receivers with on being a DVR—so compared to my rolling monthly average electricity consumption I would be saving nearly one month’s worth of electricity per year by not having these devices plugged in. Damn. Start multiplying that kind of power consumption across all the people with multiple televisions and receivers. Pretty soon you are talking about some serious energy usage.

In the meantime I do not know how this is going to affect my television viewing. I will more than likely start picking up a lot more movies at the Cedar Rapids Public Library. I might even get a Netflix subscription. Maybe I will read a few more books instead of placing my brain on the end table and absorbing entertainment.

The Joni Ernst Watch 12/22/2014

Joni “Make ‘em squeal” Ernst is rarely without something to say. However, before officially taking her place in the U.S. Senate she has been oddly quiet.

Steve King, on the other hand, is never without something to say. Speaking with regards to the potential of a government shutdown he said:

What was the penalty? We picked up 15 seats in the House and maybe nine in the Senate. That’s the kind of punishment I can handle.

Think about that for a moment. Here is a person entrusted with running the government who views the calculus purely in terms of seats his party wins or loses. It’s not about people’s lives or the economy. It’s about the little right wing empire that Steve King is building in advance of the Iowa caucuses. He wants to be seen as the standard bearer for the wing nut portion of the party that will decide the next nominee for the Republicans.

And if you thought Steve King was a whack job, just check out his friends. The people responsible for those awesome overpass protests, Overpasses for America, and some other right wingers want to remove the president and vice president from office and replace them with either Steve King or Louie Gohmert. I guess the “love it or leave it” attitude of the George W. Bush years ended the minute your guy was not in the White House. Clowns.

A longtime favorite of mine and fellow alumnus of Winona State University Michele Bachmann gave her farewell address recently. There were some excellent Bachmann classics. Like:

No government gave me rights that only God can give, and no government can take away the rights that only God can give.

Sure. I don’t know what rights she is speaking about, but she is certain that only her particular god can grant rights or take them away. Those Muslim or Jewish or Buddhist or Hindu or Shinto or whatever gods need not apply. We will miss her very, very much.

I hope everyone has the best holiday season possible whatever belief system you subscribe to.

More Sh*t the Candidates Say in Iowa

Joni Ernst, the Republican candidate for Senate, is the gift that keeps on giving. If you thought Michele Bachmann was a lot of fun then you are going to love Joni Ernst. I’ve already written about cutting the nuts of pigs as a qualification for Senate, but now Joni Ernst has taken it one step further in showing where her loyalties lie.

The candidate does not feel that there is a need for the federal government to set a floor on the wages that employers can pay their employees:

The minimum wage is a safety net. For the federal government to set the minimum wage for all 50 states is ridiculous. The standard of living in Iowa is different than it is in New York or California or Texas. One size does not fit all.

Well, that’s some flaccid logic. Here’s the deal Joni, employers would collude to pay the lowest possible wages. Don’t believe that employers would collude to depress wages? Shall we cite the recent examples of companies in Silicon Valley doing just that? Didn’t think we needed to go into the corrupt practices of American companies.

The real kicker came from a recent conference sponsored by everyone’s favorite billionaires the Koch Brothers—who are beginning to sound like the super villains from an episode of Scooby Doo. Some great journalists, most prominently Lauren Windsor, teased out information and transcripts from this closed door meeting of the GOP’s brain trust and money bags.

Joni Ernst stepped to the podium delivered this doozy:

The first time I was introduced to this group was a year ago, August, in New Mexico, and I was not known at that time. A little known state senator from a very rural part of Iowa, uh, known through my National Guard service and some circles in Iowa. But the exposure to this group and to this network and the opportunity to meet so many of you, that really started my trajectory.

In essence, Joni Ernst owes everything to the hard core right wing of the GOP and the money of the Koch Brothers. Any attempt to paint her candidacy as anything other than a referendum on what the radical right wants to do in America is misleading.

Just remember, Joni Ernst is not running to the dog catcher of Montgomery County. She is running to be one of two US Senators from the state of Iowa.

Friday Linkage 6/27/2014

It’s amazing how busy you can be ferrying children to dance lessons, teeball games, and birthday parties. It almost makes you pine for the lazy winter weekends where the biggest decision was whether or not to put in three mini marshmallows in the hot cocoa.

On to the links…

Justices Uphold Emission Limits on Big Industry—Guess what? The new EPA rules are going to stand as long as a Democrat is in the White House. Assuming Hillary runs and the Republicans go with a slate of crazies as potential nominees these rules have a good decade or more to be law of the land. Dig it.

Nebraska Utility Is Phasing Out Some Coal Units, And It Won’t Cost That Much—Forget what the talking heads on Fix News and you hyperbolic members of Congress have said because the newly released EPA regulations that will likely close down some coal plants will not dramatically alter the American economy. It’s a good thing.

EPA to Reassess Sherco Coal Power Plant’s Effect on Two National Parks—It is starting to feel like coal is on its last legs as a fuel for the future in the U.S. Every time you turn around there is a movement to close down yet another plant for one reason or another.

What’s Better — A Solar Loan or a Solar Lease?—As companies offering solar leases proliferate this is a question that will be asked by anyone considering a residential solar photovoltaic system.

Buying Into Solar Power, No Roof Access Needed—How about a third option for getting access to electricity from the sun?

Colorado Springs Solar Garden Sells Out, Even Before Construction Begins—If you do not believe there is demand for solar power just look at the stunning success of solar gardens in Colorado. These things are fully subscribed well before construction begins.

Utah Utility Cuts Deal For 20 Years Of Solar Power Because It’s The Cheapest Option—Here’s why retiring dirty old coal plants is not going to be that expensive. Renewables are getting to be just as cheap.

Worldwide Solar Power Capacity is 53X Higher than 9 Years Ago! Wind Power 6.6X Higher!—Crazy. Crazy good that is.

How Your Bee-Friendly Garden May Actually Be Killing Bees—Bees cannot get a break. Even when you plant a pollinator friendly garden you may be inadvertently killing off bees. Ugh.

One Quarter Of India Is Turning Into Desert—This is why environmental restoration efforts are so critical. There is a lot of land all over the world that has been negatively impacted by mankind’s hand. We need to heal the land.

Rethinking the Word ‘Foodie’—Everyone would be better off if we recognized the costs—usually externalities—associated with our cracked up food system. Plus, killing the term “foodie” would be great.

How We Can Tame Overlooked Wild Plants to Feed the World—As we lose plants to disease because we have bred out food system to uniformity wild plants will be increasingly valuable. Think about your morning coffee. Most of the coffee we drink is descended from a single genetic strain originating somewhere in Ethiopia. The hundreds, if not thousands, of wild coffee plants that might have resistant to various blights have not been exploited.

We Have a Crappy Healthcare System—I don’t usually talk about the U.S. healthcare system because it pisses me off so much. Have a parent struggle with the system while they are dying and you will have an unceasing hate for insurance companies. In the U.S. we have great practitioners of healthcare—doctors, nurses, etc.—but the archaic and bloated system around these practitioners does nothing but add cost and inefficiency.

Bjorn Lomborg Is Part Of The Koch Network — And Cashing In—If you didn’t already thing that Bjorn Lomborg was a fraud, then the latest news about his affiliation with the evil Koch brothers will just erase any lingering doubts. The man defines sell out.

Friday Linkage 6/13/2014

I watched the primary returns on Tuesday night with a disinterested eye that was more focused on drinking a glass of my latest House Pale Ale and figuring out the family’s upcoming trip to Colorado with my wife. When the news came in that Eric Cantor had been defeated in what was being described as a stunning defeat my ears perked up.

Is this the last gasp of the Republican Party as a national party? Think about it for a moment, Eric Cantor was considered too “moderate” to win a primary in a Congressional district where he was the incumbent. Never mind he outspent his opponent by a factor of 10 or more and his opponent was a virtual unknown to boot. If you thought the days of Todd Akin, Sharon Angle, and Christine O’Donnell were over…well, it’s mid-term election season baby!

On to the links…

In Some States, Emissions Cuts Defy Skeptics—Some states have already made the cuts in carbon emissions being rolled out by the EPA at the behest of the president. To complain vociferously is to prove that your elected leaders are in the pocket of special interests and not concerned with the long term viability of the planet.

Krugman: In The Real War On Coal, The Mining Industry Won And Workers Lost—The coal industry has a mythic hold on portions of this country, but it is ironic because the industry has been notoriously bad with regard to the treatment of its employees.

EPA Carbon Standards and Iowa: Breezing Past Proposed Goals—Sometimes, Iowa does not get the credit for being bad ass when it comes to renewables. As it stands today more than one quarter—27%–of our electricity is generated via wind and with new investments coming on line that numbers could approach as much as 40%. Now, if we can just get some solar rocking then Iowa will blow past whatever carbon goals are set at a national level.

In Response to President Obama’s Greenhouse Gas Regulations, Republicans Roll Out Their Usual Lies—At what point do people just stop believing these guys? It’s kind of silly at this juncture. Maybe that is why the only place the party is viable is in gerrymandered districts with voter suppression and a high viewership of Fox News.

Finland to Cut CO2 Emissions 80% by 2050, Legally Binding—Just when I think we are doing something grand in the U.S., some country in Europe goes and steals the thunder. Finland…way to go.

The Hot New Frontier of Energy Research Is Human Behavior—The way we act everyday can have a major impact on our energy usage. Just think about driving. You could take three drivers—one who drives normally, one who drives conservatively, and one who is a hypermiler—and get radically different mileage results with the same vehicle. Expand this to the rest of our daily interactions with energy.

It Took Until June, But The Great Lakes are Finally Ice Free—The summer has been a little cool in my neck of the woods, but it is nothing compared to seeing ice on the Great Lakes over Memorial Day. The last vestige of this very cold winter is finally gone.

St. Paul Makes a Bet on Revival with Green Line Light-Rail Train—It’s amazing how the residents along the Green Line LRT route are looking at the development as a way to really revitalize what has been a lagging area of the Twin Cities metro. I watch with interest as new light rail lines are installed in places because the development has been fascinating.

Illinois May Have Just Banned Your Favorite Face Wash—Thank god some state has finally taken action of getting these silly plastic microbeads out of the water supply. Do we really need to exfoliate with something that pollutes our waterways with even more plastic? Nope.

40 Maps that Explain Food in America—I have been a little light on infographics lately because nothing has really piqued my interest. This series of maps is interesting in a different way.

Farmers Markets Reaching more Consumers Who get Nutritional Benefits—These programs seem like one of those rare win-win type moments. People who need access to more fresh food are afforded access, farmers get access to a pool of money, and the community has better health as a result. Dig it.

Driving a Car Built in the ’90s? Join the Club—Now, think of all of these cars being retired in the coming years and replaced with vehicles meeting new mileage requirements. I am guessing this will be a driver, pun intended, of fleet mileage increases for years to come.

Japan Seeks to Squelch Its Tiny Cars—I have never owned or ridden in a kei car, but these little sprites just seem so Japanese. On my one visit to Japan these cars were part of the scenery that was unique to the country. I guess globalization will claim another victim in the inexorable drive toward a homogenized landscape.