Tag Archives: Los Angeles

Friday Linkage 2/10/2017

The abnormal has become the normal.  The surrogates of the president lie—massacres in Bowling Green, terrorist attacks in Atlanta, who knows that else—with a zeal that makes me wonder if it is overtly encouraged by the current president.  Alternative facts—known as lies to anyone with the sense of a first grader—have become the new currency of cable news.  Have we actually entered the Twilight Zone?

Wake me up in a few years.

On to the links…

U.S. Wind, Solar Power Tout Rural Jobs as Trump Pushes Coal—Trump has a narrative in his simple mind that coal is power and solar is for hippies.  Too bad the reality on the ground—like so many things—does not actually match this narrative.  Maybe it is an alternative fact?

Americans are Now Twice as Likely to Work in Solar as in Coal—If you were going to ask for a group’s support which would you pick: the group with more jobs that is growing or the group with fewer jobs that is declining?  Which one do you think the sitting president chose?

6 Reasons the Clean Energy Revolution Doesn’t need Trump’s Blessing—Trump may think that his perch atop his imperial presidency makes him capable of doing whatever he wants and making it happen via proclamation, but the reality on the ground is very different.

Reasons to be Cheerful: A Full Switch to Low-Carbon Energy is in Sight—I like the positive spin on this.

Cheaper Renewables to Halt Coal and Oil Demand Growth from 2020—This is what the death spiral looks like.  As the technology doing the replacing gets cheaper and easier to deploy there is no way that the displaced technology can compete on either cost or performance, so it’s displacement becomes self-fulfilling.  Once the coal mines shutter who is going to invest in coal?

Electric Vehicles Will Be A Major Oil Price Driver In The Future—The question is how much a disruption in oil demand will be needed to make a major difference in price.  Recently, we have seen swing production of less than 10% cause major price disruptions.

We’re Probably Underestimating How Quickly Electric Vehicles will Disrupt the Oil Market—Disruption can happen fast.  I cannot wait to see what the EV market looks like when both Chevrolet and Tesla are selling EVs at volume for an attainable price.

Californians are Paying Billions for Power they Don’t Need—This story kind of blew my mind.

Rachel Carson, ‘Mass Murderer’? A Right-Wing Myth about ‘Silent Spring’ is Poised for a Revival—With people like Scott Pruitt installed at the EPA and right wing whack jobs in Congress I am expecting this old trope to get a lot of play on the cable news cycle.

L.A.’s Mayor Wants to Lower the City’s Temperature, and these Scientists are Figuring out How to do it—The L.A. Times came strong with some stories this week that I think are of relevance to our understanding of the world.

Invading Pythons and the Weird, Uncertain Future of the Florida Everglades—Florida is a petri dish for everything we have screwed up over the past few decades.  Now it is also a living laboratory for what happens when invasive species change the dynamic.  After reading The New Wild [https://www.amazon.com/New-Wild-Invasive-Species-Salvation/dp/0807039551] I am left to wonder if anything can be considered invasive in Florida anymore given how dramatically that landscape has been changed over the last few centuries.

Friday Linkage 8/2/2013

It’s August…wow!  My daughter starts kindergarten in less than three weeks, so that is kind of mind blowing.  Where did all of that time go?  Where did that little girl go?

On to the links…

World Solar Power Topped 100,000 Megawatts in 2012—Just look at the graph in the first part of the article that shows the cumulative solar installations since 2000.  It’s amazing.

Thai Beaches Blanketed in Crude—And if you want to see what our future holds if we continue to be reliant on petroleum, witness the coast of Rayong.  Nice, huh?

A Plan to Save Yosemite by Curbing Its Visitors—I have not made it to Yosemite National Park yet, but I have read enough articles to know that the crush of tourists in the summer can be a little much.  So much so that it almost destroys the awesome beauty of the place.  Almost.

A Race to Save the Orange by Altering its DNA—Apparently there is a disease called citrus greening that is devastating the citrus fruit industry.  The interesting statement that I found in the article was that there was no proof of immunity in all of the cultivated citrus.  What about all citrus?  You know, including the citrus that might not be cultivated.  Just saying.

Too Much Rain in the South means Too Little Produce on the Shelves—Man, the southern U.S. cannot get a break.  First it was drought and now it is too much rain.  Keep electing those climate change deniers guys.  It’s working out really well.

New York Is Pretending Factory Farms Aren’t An Environmental Problem For The Sake Of Greek Yogurt—Basically, the state of New York changed the rules on regulating dairy farms so that the facilities that produce milk for Greek yogurt could escape expensive CAFO regulations.  Nothing like money to grease the wheels of government.

City of Los Angeles says Parkway Gardens Need to Go—Yep, because when I have been to Los Angeles the number one problem I saw was people planting some gardens in the parkways.  Actually, it was horrible to see some green in the landscape on a long overlooked piece of land.  How awful!

Tour of an Oyster Farm—I do not eat oysters.  Something deep in my soul is scarred after watching my parents slurp down a whole lot of them when I was a child.  Nonetheless, how these bivalves are grown or farmed is pretty interesting.

Pro-Hemp Group Seeks Sen. Mark Udall’s Support—With Amendment 64 passed in Colorado and other states taking a more liberal stance on marijuana, I am hopeful that industrial hemp will get a second look as a viable crop.  I do not think it is a miracle plant like some proponents, but it is intriguing for a number of applications.

Cannabis in Your Car Doors, But not to Smuggle It—Speaking of applications, the newly introduced BMW i3—which I am digging as an EV—uses kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus) in the door panels.  Dig it.

Sailing Barge Launches in Vermont to Test Carbon-Neutral Shipping—There is something really romantic about the notion of sailing barges plying the Great Lakes to move cargo.  Boats harnessing the wind to deliver goods without the loud, dirty engines of the massive cargo ships.  Interesting.

Could Planting Trees in the Desert Mitigate Climate Change?—This idea has some merit, but the jatropha tree seems like snake oil.  It was supposed to be a miracle tree as an oil producer but that did not pan out when people realized that planting trees on marginal land would yield marginal results.

Nepal’s Tiger Population on the Rise—It was not all bad news this week.   It looks like there are now more tigers in Nepal than anytime since the 1970s.  If we could bring back Nehru jackets to celebrate things would be sweet.

The Medium Chill—A friend of mine like to quote that there is a leisure class on either end of the wealth spectrum.  It’s the people in the middle range who seem to be stuck in a never ending cycle of work.  I think that examining what really makes you happy is essential and that a lot of people would be surprised to find out what truly makes them happy.

How to Make the Perfect Hipster Label in 6 Easy Steps—Is there anything more annoying than the overwrought artisan movement?  Yep, hipsters involved in the overwrought artisan movement are more annoying.  I love artisan products, but there is a bland sameness to many of the products now that it almost seems like these things come from a hipster artisan private label manufacturer.

Friday Linkage 7/19/2013

The heat was just brutal this week.  Storms look to be on the horizon for Friday and the heat looks like it is going to “break” over the weekend.

On to the links…

The Anti-Science Climate Denier Caucus Infogaphic—Follow the money:

Denier-Caucus-FINAL

Keystone XL would Raise Gas Prices—So, how many lies and falsehoods are people willing to accept when it comes to the story surrounding Keystone XL?  This pipeline is like the gift that keeps on giving in terms of underhanded and devious play on the part of its backers.

Ideas to Bolster Power Grid Run Up Against the System’s Many Owners—Our electricity grid is a shambles because it is fractured along so many lines with so many competing interests at play.  A truly modern grid, however, is probably a pipe dream because of that dynamic.

Next Generation Wind Turbines With Storage Are Cheap, Reliable And Brilliant—Well, if our grid is going to remain dumb and outdated at least the wind turbines that are connected to the grid can be smart.  Each advancement in renewable energy brings the day closer when we will wonder why we even bothered with coal in the first place.

Xcel Energy to Boost Wind Power in Upper Midwest by 33 Percent—Lost in the headline is the statement that the utility believes the introduction of more wind power generation will save consumers in excess of $180M over the lives of the projects.  So, it’s not just a “green” play anymore.  It’s the smart money play as well.

Is Solar Cheaper than Grid Electricity? Yes and No—Here’s the thing, getting down to what is the “true” price of any electricity, regardless of generation method, is damn near impossible because of subsidies and externalities.  At the end of the day, the moral of the story, is that solar is getting cheaper every day.

Wind At Parity With New Coal In India, Solar To Join By 2018—I remember listening to someone say that the price of solar and wind in the U.S. was almost irrelevant because it was the China or India price that mattered.  Guess what?  The renewables are already at the India price.

China Plans a Major Solar Buying Spree—Speaking of China.  It looks the Chinese government is going to try and erase the glut in solar panel supplies by massively expanding its capability to generate power from the sun.  Dig it.

In Los Angeles, Developer are Building Small Homes on Tiny Lots—I read this whole article thinking, “It’s called supply and demand.  Why are we surprised?”  People do not want to spend the better part of several hours in a car to get the simplest tasks done anymore.  Developers will have to accommodate that desire if they want to sell houses.  End of story.

Friday Linkage 7/12/2013

It is almost mind blowing how time just flies during the summer.  You spend the week doing a few things in the yard, attend a few teeball games, and suddenly it’s Friday afternoon. The weather has been beautiful and I am really looking forward to a lot of unstructured time this weekend to work on a few projects that have been lingering.  I promise that there will be some non-beer related posts in the near future.  Of course, there will also be some beer related posts as well.

On to the links…

What’s in the Water: Searching Midwest Streams for Crop Runoff—This is one of those problems that people do not ever really think about, but field runoff is a huge problem here in Iowa.  This is especially true when the fields have recently been treated with waste from hog CAFOs.  Yep, there is shit in the water.

How Can You Give A Community Better Health?—I have watched several presentations by Ron Finley and I have loved every one of them.  His line about people in poor neighborhoods being killed not by drive bys, but by drive throughs is priceless wordsmithing.

Scientists Work to Perfect Broccoli—I would argue that sans-genetic engineering broccoli was already pretty much perfect.  Sure, the heads of broccoli in the grocery store are often inedible bunches of bitter tasting green stuff.  But, a fresh head of broccoli during the cool season is a perfect treat.

Monsanto Is Losing the Press—Big Ag’s problems keep piling up because the problems are legion.  If it’s not genetically modified wheat showing up in Oregon, it’s scientific studies questioning the health impacts of GMO crops or citizens demanding that products be labeled in such a way to make it apparent that the food contains GMO ingredients.  It’s got to be like holding back the sea for these guys.

Republicans are Happy to Help Big Ag, but Feed the Hungry…Not so Much—I just do not understand the conservative furor over the food stamp or SNAP program.  Why is feeding people who are the most vulnerable something to cut from the federal budget when sacred cows like defense spending survive.  Gotta’ keep those defense contractor CEOs in the steak dinner!

Your Clothes Biggest Ecological Impact is not What You Think—Big surprise…it’s the lifecycle of an item that really measures its impact on this planet.  I try to get people to think about lifecycle costs and embedded energy all the time.  It rarely works.

Solar Costs and Grid Prices on a Collision Course—Every day the cost to deploy solar gets lower.  Considering that the fuel to keep a solar PV panel running is free for eternity—assuming energy companies don’t figure out a way to restrict our access to the sun—the lifecycle costs are going to be low.  Solar power is part of the energy solution.  People just need to deal with that reality.

The Coal Industry Knows That Enviros Are Winning—The game is over for coal in general because everyone realizes that it is the fuel of the past.  The real question becomes how do we unwind modern society from the coal hydra without causing massive disruption.

Bad Infrastructure Design Leads to Bad Bike Behavior—People are surprised by this idea?  Why?  When I am on my bicycle, particularly if I am commuting somewhere, I am more worried about staying alive and unharmed as opposed to being a good citizen.  Sorry, but arriving alive is the first order of the day.

Climate Change: Summer Bummer For Your Fourth Of July?—And if you needed any reminders about climate change, here is an infographic to totally bum you out:

2013_06_ClimateChangeJuly4th_DISTRESS

China’s Beaches Overwhelmed by Algae—But, if you think you’ve got it bad in the U.S. just check out what China’s beaches look like covered in a thick blanket of algae.  What does 20,000 tons of algae even look like?

Piling Up Keystone XL’s Petcoke—If you thought 20,000 tons of algae was a disturbing proposition just think about what the petcoke byproduct would be like from the proposed Keystone XL pipeline:

oci_petcoke_infographic

Why You Should be Watching Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown

You should be watching Anthony Bourdain’s new television show on CNN.  It’s titled Parts Unknown and it looks a lot like his old show on the Travel Channel, No Reservations.

This is a good thing.  When he left the Travel Channel for CNN I feared that one of television’s most insightful voices was going to disappear into the abyss that is Wolf Blitzer’s awersome beard.  However, this was not so as evidenced by the first episode of the show that premiered this weekend.  Just the fact that the first episode focused on Myanmar, you might know it as Burma, is reason enough to give the show a chance.

Once you get past Bourdain’s bad attitude chef persona—read the now-infamous Kitchen Confidential to get an idea of what I am talking about—his work on television has been mostly excellent.  The episode of No Reservations that took place in Beirut during the resumption of hostilities between Lebanon and Israel was, in my opinion, a pitch perfect lens through which to view the odd spectacle of modern armed conflict.  It was silly and random and strange and macabre all at the same time.

The new show takes the best elements of No Reservations, cuts out some of the antics—witness the focus on late night escapades during one alcohol fuelled binge in Montreal, and injects some much needed perspective.  This is not just a travel show or a food show or a politics show…it’s some kind of hybrid that works real well because it shows us that, on the whole, people are pretty damn similar the world over.  Sure, the food we eat is different or the clothes we wear are different, but the vast majority of us are just trying to get through the days with a little flavor and beauty.

Kicking it off with a bang in Myanmar is a statement.  There are few countries less transparent to the West than Myanmar, maybe North Korea or some nations in Africa or central Asia.  Outside of Aung San Suu Kyi, most of us have no idea about Myanmar save for a bad movie with Bridget Fonda.  This is not like filming a show in Japan or China or even Vietnam.

Bourdain does not shy away from the bad parts of Myanmar’s history.  Almost everyone he speaks with who is local mentions the time they have spent in jail for various offenses.  Heck, one guy even details how the kangaroo court handed down his sentence in an almost arbitrary way.  Off you go to six years’ worth of prison!  As he says, when referencing the fact that government still restricts tourist travel, there is bad shit going down that the government does not want you to see.

It’s about more than exposing the authoritarian regime’s Orwellian nature.  It’s about showing the essential human qualities that exist regardless of geography.

Food and drink are humanity’s gateway into acceptance.  Share a meal or a drink with someone and the chances are that you will be more considerate of that person.  What Bourdain is doing in these shows, through the lens of food and drink, is showing you just how alike we all may be no matter how weird or bad the exterior conditions are locally.  I may be as different as someone from Myanmar, but hell if I don’t want to spend a night eating street food, drinking cold beers, and hanging out with an indie band.

It looks like next time he is going to spend the episode with the mad genius that is Ray Choi in Los Angeles.  Uh oh!

Friday Linkage 8/17/2012

It’s Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, so I thought some shark themed links were in order…

This infographic from the Discovery Channel is a nice primer on the status of sharks today.

What Would Happen if Sharks Disappeared?—Sometimes you have to think about the worst case scenario to get people thinking about making some kind of positive change today.  We have a hard time understanding the role of apex predators in the environment.

In Cancun, Trying to Protect Reef with Underwater Statues—I do not know if this is more about promoting tourism or protecting a reef, but the underwater statue park sure is interesting:

Superfund Efforts to Clean up Waterways Come with Risk—I love how companies are allowed to pollute for the better part of a century and then make the claim that it is better to leave the pollution alone.  Sorry Charlie, but we need to remediate these problems.  It is your responsibility.

Paul Ryan’s Budget is Nice to Big Oil—Imagine that, Republican wunderkind Paul Ryan, the presumptive Republican candidate for vice president, has a budget that is very nice to oil and gas interests.  Call me shocked…oh wait, not really.

Soot Pollution 101—Soot pollution is one of those insidious environmental problems that is hard to talk to people about, yet it impacts everyone in various ways.  All of them negative.  Get educated and make a difference.

50 Year Decline in Some Los Angeles Vehicle Pollutants—The next time some right wing proto-fascist tells you that government regulation is shackling the United States take the time to point out that the government regulation of tailpipe pollutants is a major cause for celebration.  The air is cleaner and people are healthier because the government required car and fuel makers to clean things up.  End of story.

Efficiency is Powering Job Growth in Automotive Manufacturing—Vehicles are getting increasingly fuel efficient and not always at the cost of size, so people are not forced to compromise when making choices.  These same people are buying new, more fuel efficient vehicles that replace older, less fuel efficient vehicles that are raising the average fuel economy of the fleet.  There are some victories out there.

U.S. Using Less Gas than Anytime Since 2007—How much of a victory?  Oh yeah:

The U.S. consumption of gas peaked in 2007—just prior to the 2008 mega recession—and has not recovered, so to speak.  Sometimes I feel like I am screaming at the rain and at other times I feel like dancing.  Break out the dub step.

We Must Put a Price on Nature in Order to Save It—I have seen this argument made in the past and I do not know if I agree with it.  Do we need to put a price on something to save it or can something have a value so great that it cannot be monetized?  If we monetize nature, do we destroy its inherent opposition to a cold, industrial world?

How a Texas Town got Water Smart—San Antonio is water smart and with most of the country in the throes of drought we would be wise to consider learning as many lessons as possible.  Often, it is not about reducing our use of water, but reducing our waste of water.  There is a small and critical difference when making that argument for change.

Bears Break into Cabin and Drink All the Beer—Who can blame some bears for seeing a fridge full of beer and wanting to enjoy themselves?

Friday Linkage 8/26/2011

An unexpected death in the family and a road trip from Iowa to Ohio means that all the stuff I had planned to write about will get shifted until next week at the earliest.  This assumes that I do not spend the weekend laid up in bed with some mystery illness or a project I think will take an hour ends up consuming an entire Sunday.  The joys of being an adult homeowner.

At Vacant Homes, Foraging for Fruit—Imagine all the potential of all those vacant lots producing food.  Sometimes, it is already there waiting to be picked by an enterprising individual.

Fox News’ The Five Is Full of Clean Energy Errors—Imagine that, Fox News peddles distortions, myths, and outright lies about clean energy.  Imagine that coming from an organization owned by a media conglomerate implicated in phone hacking and general malfeasance globally.

Gasoline Demand Drops to Decade Low—Demand for gasoline in the United States in July was the lowest for that month in a decade.  Previous declines in U.S. gas consumption had been blamed on a variety of economic factors, but none of those trends are consistent with the most recent decline.  The unemployment rate is lower, economic activity is higher, etc.  Interesting.

Share a Car, Save the Planet—Car sharing uses fewer resources?  No way.  I just wish I had access to a car sharing service in my town.  Some day…

Mazda Harvest Old Cars for New—On one of my bike routes around town I pass an automobile graveyard.  The vehicles are in various states of disrepair and disassembly.  I always wonder about the ability of industry to recycle these vehicles into new vehicles.  It is encouraging to see that some companies are taking steps to consider how to recycle a car when the car is designed.

North Hollywood Community Garden—The latest entry in a series about community gardens in the Los Angeles area highlights a garden in North Hollywood.  It’s just an interesting snapshot of a community in development.