Saturday, March 31, 2012

Earth Hour 2012



More at Earth Hour.

Keith Olbermann fired from Current TV



For a summary of reaction around the web, I'll be a good environmentalist and recycle what I posted to political_wank on JournalFen.
The oft-dismissed sportscaster and political commentator lost another job, as today he was fired by Current TV and . In response, Keith Olbermann has threatened to sue. In the comments to the Politico articles linked above, conservatives gloat while trolling Keith's fans. The exchanges are very wanky.

Meanwhile, over at the liberal blogosphere, where it's more difficult for conservatives to troll, fans are mourning. PoliticusUSA is indignant and the commenters are taking Keith's side. At Daily Kos, the post has 650+ comments and counting, including a thread of Babylon 5 references.

Surprisingly, ontd_political on LJ is giving a more balanced response. Let's see how long that lasts.

ETA: For bonus wankiness, at Huffington Post, the main article on the subject has 9,000 comments both approved and pending.
I'm disappointed but not terribly surprised. I've been a fan of Keith's since he was the sports anchor for KTLA TV 5 in Los Angeles almost 25 years ago, which means I remember when the station fired him after less than a year. Therefore, his being let go from Current is just par for the course, although I'd been hoping he'd last longer than he did. As for what this means to me, my wife and I switched from cable to Direct TV just so we could watch Current. Now that Olbermann is no longer working for the station, we have no reason to renew our contract. After it expires, we will go back to the cable company.

I'll let Keith himself have the last word with this segment from the final Countdown he did on Current.


Links on oil and politics for March

It's the end of the month, so I'm making an insurance post, e.g., I'm mailing it in with a bunch of links that I've been sitting on. Enjoy your leftovers while I'm playing Star Wars: The Old Republic with my wife!

L.A. Times: U.S. report: Oil imports down, domestic production highest since 2003

Rhodium Group: Gasoline Prices and Electoral Politics in the Age of Unconventional Oil and Gasoline Prices and Electoral Politics Part Two

N.Y. Times: Obama Sets Gas Prices? Just Another G.O.P. Myth

CNN: Republicans are pandering on gas prices

Robert Reich: Why Republicans Aren’t Mentioning the Real Cause of Rising Prices at the Gas Pump

The Young Turks on YouTube: Big Oil Buys Senate To Protect Government Subsidies



Via Think Progress: "In a 51-47 vote, 43 Senate Republicans and four Democrats filibustered to protect $24 billion in tax breaks for Big Oil. Although a majority voted for Sen. Robert Menendez's (D-NJ) bill, it fell short of the 60 needed...A Think Progress Green analysis shows how oil and gas companies have funneled cash to the same senators who protected its handouts..." The Young Turks host Cenk Uygur breaks it down.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Good news about the Michigan economy

The Detroit Free Press had three postitive items about the Michigan economy in the past few days. Here they are in reverse chronological order with illustrations.

First, the unemployment rate for Michigan during February was revised down to 8.8%, the first time it's been below 9% since September 2008. Things are not great, as the article points out that Michigan's unemployment rate is still 0.5% higher than the national rate, there is still a mismatch between the needs of the labor force and the skills of the unemployed, and the combined rate of unemployment, underemployment, and discouraged workers is 16%. However, Michigan still has the best recovery of any of the 50 states, as shown by this graph from Calculated Risk posted earlier this month.




The more recent article at the Free Press highlights the strength of the manufacturing sector here, as well as the revival of the entrepreneurial spirit (I'm not seeing it, but I agree the area could use more small businesses). An earlier article also pointed out that construction seems to have stabilized as well, as the sector has lost only 2,000 jobs since this time last year and added 1,000 just last month.

Speaking of construction, it looks like metro Detroit home prices are continuing to stabilize and seem to be very slowly picking themselves off the floor, as they rose 1.7% compared to a year ago. Just the same, they're still down 31% from 2000 levels and off 5% from last August. The graph below from Calculated Risk shows that the decline from the 2006 peak has been even more marked at 46%.




Still, between the improving employment picture and the bottoming of home prices, it would be a good time to buy a house--that is, if business as usual still applies. I'm not convinced these are business as usual times.

While manufacturing is the number one sector of the state's economy, and gets credit in the Free Press article for its contribution to the recovery, the number three sector of the local economy, number two during good times, is tourism. The Free Press also had good news to report about that sector, too.

'Pure Michigan' brand, rebounding economy boost travel spending 7.8% in 2011
Finally, the mojo is returning to the state’s $17 billion tourism industry.

After a near-decade-long swoon, travel spending in the state jumped 7.8% last year – partly due to Michigan’s hot “Pure Michigan” branding and partly due to a rebounding economy.

This year, tourism spending should rise another 6%, according to a new Michigan State University tourism outlook report released today by MSU tourism researchers, who are speaking this morning at the Pure Michigan Governors Conference on Tourism here.

Tourism volume and prices in 2012 should rise 3%, the report forecasts, with strong showings statewide.

Tourism is the state’s third largest industry after manufacturing and agriculture.
I don't have a graph from Calculated Risk, but I do have this video from Pure Michigan.




As I sign off at Kunstler's blog, happy motoring--for now--from Detroit!

Time to fill up

In yesterday's post, I recounted my what I saw gas prices doing in my neighborhood, then made a prediction.
Monday, the gas stations by my house had regular at $3.91/gallon. When I filled up Wednesday morning, the price by my house jumped up to $4.15/gallon and the three stations two blocks away went up to $4.03/gallon. Since oil prices were dropping at the time, I decided against filling up, so I only put in half a tank on a bet that gas prices, at least on the short term, would go down a bit. The last time I made that wager with gas prices, I won, as the station near my house dropped its price to compete with the three stations two blocks away.
I was right, twice. This morning, the station at the corner had dropped the price of regular to $4.03/gallon, while the three stations two blocks away had dropped theirs to $3.99/gallon. By this afternoon, the station at the corner had dropped its price to $3.99/gallon as well. This is how competition is supposed to work in a free market system. Now I have to fill up in the morning before prices go up again, and they will. Reuters has the story.

Brent rise towards $123 on U.S. gasoline, Mideast supply worries
Brent crude rose towards $123 on Friday as investors bet on a tighter gasoline market in the world's largest oil consumer during the peak summer driving season and on persistent worries of a supply disruption in the Middle East.

Traders took the opportunity to cover short positions and bought on price dips after oil tumbled in the past two sessions on growing talk of a release of strategic petroleum reserves by some consumer nations and a surge in U.S. crude inventories.

Front-month Brent crude rose 38 cents to $122.77 a barrel by 0254 GMT (10.54 p.m. EDT), recovering from its sharpest daily fall in more than three weeks.

U.S. crude futures was up 67 cents to $103.45 after posting the biggest two-day slide since mid-December.
...
Traders are bullish on gasoline as the shutdown of several refineries could reduce supply of the motor fuel in the U.S. East Coast, Furumi said. Front-month April RBOB gasoline rose 0.51 cent to settle at $3.4006 a gallon on Thursday.
All the more reason to buy a bicycle and start cycling to work.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

$4/gallon gas in Michigan for the fourth time in four years

WOOD-TV has an overview for the state as a whole, as well as neighboring Chicagoland.




WXYZ gets the view from ground level here in metro Detroit.




For a print source, the Detroit Free Press published Gas tops $4 a gallon in state, may go higher yesterday.
That day has come.

Gas prices have topped $4 in Michigan and could continue rising.

The Detroit average was $4.03 and the statewide gas average $4.06, as of 5 p.m. Tuesday, according to gasbuddy.com. That is a 5-cent increase in Detroit over the last 24 hours -- and a 10.5-cent hike across Michigan.
...
"They may start going down a penny or two in the next few days, after of course, they've risen to $4. Long-term over (the) next few weeks, I expect Michigan's statewide average will continue to rise," said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for the website.

The switchover to summer gasoline, refinery maintenance and speculation are all explanations for the price hike, he said.
Monday, the gas stations by my house had regular at $3.91/gallon. When I filled up Wednesday morning, the price by my house jumped up to $4.15/gallon and the three stations two blocks away went up to $4.03/gallon. Since oil prices were dropping at the time, I decided against filling up, so I only put in half a tank on a bet that gas prices, at least on the short term, would go down a bit. The last time I made that wager with gas prices, I won, as the station near my house dropped its price to compete with the three stations two blocks away. However, the long term trend is still up for at least the next month and a half.

Adding my account means this report has four sources involving the number four. As someone who has a passing familiarity with the cultures of East Asia, I know that four is an unlucky number, so a story about the number four with four sources is probably tempting fate. Oh, wait, I just added a fifth source with Wikipedia. According to their entry on numbers in Chinese culture, five combined with four becomes 54, which means "not die" or "no death." Hah, I'm safe!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The first year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News: Part 2 of several

In Part 1 of the retrospective of the first year of this blog, I promised to "continue with the second most popular of the top twelve posts tomorrow." True to form, tomorrow stretched out for several days. In fact, I took so long that the subject of the next post showed up in comments.
kudos to you on all the hard work of posting- i thought i'd raise your comment stats by saying hello and checking in! sad to see that the city of troy beat the city of oak park on your blog, but glad to see you have such a strong (and well-deserved) following! -julie
I responded enthusiastically.
Julie! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. It turns out that Oak Park is number two on the list when it comes to most popular posts. My retrospective on blogging about you and your problems with Oak Park will be the next in the series.
As I promised Julie, here is Part 2.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Warm weather over for now

The record streak of warm weather that prompted me to mow my lawn on Sunday is over and seasonal temperatures, meaning freezing nights, have returned. WOOD-TV reports.



As you can see, cold temperatures will spread overnight over most of Michigan, including Detroit. The biggest concern will be preventing the frost from damaging already sprouting and budding crop plants.



Unfortunately, the steps farmers are taking to prevent damage may not work.



Welcome to Michigan. Even if you like the weather, wait ten minutes and it will still change.

Monday, March 26, 2012

New York Magazine thinks Detroit is a travel destination, too


Street cred, something vague about hopeful post-apocalyptic gardening.


One of the ten most viewed posts from the first year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News was Detroit as a travel destination? The New York Times, BBC, and Financial Times think so. It, like the most popular post from last year, fit the pattern of promising Kunstler's readers a link to an article in the New York Times about Detroit and getting their attention. I don't have a New York Times article to tease them with today. Instead, I have the next best thing--an article from New York Magazine promoting Detroit as a fun place to visit as part of their five-point escape plan series: Discover Urban Renewal in Detroit. It's the same theme that the three articles I summarized from the NYT, BBC, and FT last year: Check out the city picking itself off the floor and dusting itself off. Looks like it's not dead after all! Hey, it beats ruin porn.

Seriously, the piece is all about places to stay, eat, and see in Detroit proper plus Hamtramck, not the suburbs, so it really is for the adventurous. Each page lists a handful of businesses for each purpose. The lucky three places to stay are Westin's Book Cadillac Hotel downtown, The Inn at Ferry Street, and the Honor & Folly Bed and Breakfast. Russell Street Deli, Le Petit Zinc, and Supino Pizzeria make the cut for places to eat, along with honorable mentions for Motor City Wine and City Wings. The things to do and see are all sustainable--yes, really. Four of them are examples of urban agriculture at work: Rising Pheasant Farms, Brother Nature, Eastern Market, and of course, Urban Farming itself. The fifth is a bicycle tour run by Wheelhouse Detroit, which will stop by some of the urban farms. There is also a page for insider tips, like the ClandesDine, something I'd never heard of before, but which sounds like a lot of fun. The closest thing I can think of is a fine dining equivalent of a rave. Cool

Finally, there is an oddball tour page, which hits some of the more eclectic and eccentric sights and tastes of the city. Such a trip would not be complete without seeing the Heidelberg Project and, sure enough, it's on the itinerary. So are the Imagination Station, the Power House, and "Hamtramck Disneyland." Stops for breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks, and a midnight snack include Astro Coffee, D'Mongos, Cass Cafe, Avalon International Breads, and Lafayette Coney Island. Looks like a good day of sightseeing to me!

The Detroit Free Press called their readers' attention to the article and asked for their suggestions. Additional sights to see and places to eat include Lincoln Street Sculpture Garden, Greektown, Belle Isle, and the Mighty Wurlitzer Theater Organ at the Senate Theater. An enterprising commenter also put in a plug for Colors restaurant, complete with phone #. Hey, this is one instance where free advertising would be appropriate.

After reading and writing all of that, I'm eager to take my wife on a tour of the city, and I promise we won't be one of the fearful suburbanites who tour the city from inside a bus.



Sunday, March 25, 2012

Forget Farmville; I have a real garden to tend

The weather today is too nice for me to spend a lot of time blogging, which is why I've already cultivated my garden plot for the third time in eight days and mowed my lawn (with a push mower, which is better for both the enviroment and me) already today. In fact, eight days ago was the earliest I've weeded and today the earliest I've mowed since I moved to Michigan 23 years ago. According to the Detroit Free Press, I'm not alone.

Record-high March temperatures give metro Detroiters a jump-start on yard work
Spurred by sunshine and warm temperatures, metro Detroit residents are getting a jump on assorted outdoor chores such as raking leaves, pruning shrubs and trees and mowing lawns.

The increased activity has prompted several local municipalities to accelerate yard waste pickups in an effort to accommodate their industrious residents.
The article lists Madison Heights, Southfield, Sterling Heights, and Plymouth Township among the municipalities that have moved their yard pickup dates up. My town is not among them, as my bags of yard waste were not picked up on Friday. I'll have to wait until April for that to happen.

As for the cause of all this activity, how's the weather been lately?
The unseasonably warm weather that persisted during the past winter has continued with the arrival of spring as record temperatures were set last week. Detroit Metro Airport recorded just 26 inches of snowfall this season -- well below the normal average of 39.5 inches by Thursday, according to Joseph Clark, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in White Lake Township.
The record-breaking streak of warm days for Detroit in March has continued through today, extending the record by a full week. That's impressive. I just have to remind myself that weather isn't climate, but so far southeast Michigan has had a full year of extreme weather, even if some of the extremes have been pleasant.

Is there any other good news as a result of the mild and short winter? Yes.
The reduction in snowfall this past winter translated into a savings of approximately $1.5 million to Oakland County taxpayers, as far as road salt usage and overtime were concerned, according to Road Commission spokesman Craig Bryson.
Of course, not everyone is happy, as you can read in Warm weather is headache for Michigan asparagus farms. The same concerns about a potential frost damaging early sprouting crops are also worrying fruit growers in the state.

Finally, I leave you all with the most recent weather report posted to WOOD-TV's YouTube channel, which mentions the possibility of frost after all this warm weather.




Welcome to Michigan. If you don't like the weather, wait 10 minutes. It will change.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Religious Right pitches a fit over same-sex romances on Star Wars: The Old Republic

Time for this player of SW:TOR to be a good environmentalist, and recycle.



"My hed is pasted on, yay."


MaddowBlog on MSNBC: A long time ago, in a galaxy far far, a gay...
Apparently the whole Religious Right versus same sex-romance-in-Star Wars-video-games dogfight isn't over yet.

Quick rewind: Recently, BioWare, the makers of the massively popular MMO video game Star Wars: The Old Republic, decided that one of your role playing options should be a same sex romance. Diverse, the universe is, hm?
Newsarama via Yahoo! News has the report: Same Sex Romance Comes to a Galaxy Far, Far Away. Back to MaddowBlog:
Right on cue, the usual right-wing watchdogs got their midi-chlorians in a bunch and, just like here on Earth, they are trying to eliminate these rebel alliances.
The American Decency Association, Family Research Council, and Florida Family Association all piled on and their cluelessness is at Cowboy Bebop at His Computer levels. The wankiest of all the complainers were the Florida Family Association, who made the image of Darth Ru-Paul illustrating this entry.

Also posted to unfunny_fandom on JournalFen.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The first year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News: Part 1 of several

Yesterday, I wrote:
I know I promised a retrospective post yesterday. Don't worry, I'm working on it and will post it tonight or tomorrow.
I've decided to make this a multi-part post spread over the rest of the month. Today's installment features an overview of the statistics and the first part of a series reflecting upon the most popular posts from the past twelve months.

Stats

During the first year of the blog, March 21, 2011 through March 20, 2012, I made 483 posts, readers posted 204 comments, and the blog received 47,808 page views. That means I averaged 40.25 posts per month. Considering that I was starting to complain of burnout by the end of last May and decided not to use Crazy Eddie's Motie News as my official blog for NaBloPoMo during June, I'm pleasantly surprised that I managed to have that much consistency and endurance in my blogging. Here's to keeping that up this coming year.

The readers also did their part, helping the blog average 3984 page views per month and 99 views per post. I'm pleased with those stats as a baseline to build on for the coming year, especially since the blog has had more than 4,000 page views per month for seven months running, including the current one that has another week to go. About the only averages I find disappointing were those involving comments, with 0.42 comments per post, 17 comments per month, and 0.0043 comments per page view. However, it's not surprising. As I've mentioned before, if I want comments, I'll cross-post my entries to LiveJournal, JournalFen, or Daily Kos. Blogspot is great for readership, but it really doesn't have the sense of community the other blogging platforms have.

Most Viewed Posts




In first place, with 615 page views and 4 comments is The New York Times reports on Troy's problems from May 20, 2011. It figures with all the posting I've done about the city of Troy, Michigan, that one of them would be the top post. However, I don't consider this to be my best post about the subject (either Troy Mayor Janice Daniels shows how to be vulnerable to a scandal or "Save the Library, save Troy" would be), just the best marketed and promoted. Here's what I wrote over at Kunstler's blog.
I'm surprised you didn't write about The Rapture as a non-event the news media would rather report on than our real problems. I did, as I thought a blog about the collapse of civilization would be remiss if it didn't have something to say about the supposed beginning of the end of the world. I guess you didn't agree. However, we might agree on the following:
No supernatural causes will be needed to bring about the collapse of civilization; the interaction of human behavior with limited resources can do that all by themselves. That end will be completely natural, not supernatural.
As for managing contraction, the New York Times reported on the Detroit suburb of Troy facing that issue. I blogged about it on Crazy Eddie's Motie News, where I have a link to the original article. It's a sign that contraction is hitting even the most well-off areas.
That comment was just about as long as the post itself. Speaking of which, this entry was the most successful of several where promising Kunstler's readers a link to an article in the New York Times got their attention--567 pages views worth, the most of any single referring page. There are at three others on this list.

I'll continue with the second most popular of the top twelve posts tomorrow. Until then, I'll leave you with my two favorite images of signs in Troy. The first is from the library millage election, and counts as a cruel but effective political practical joke. The second proves that I can fail the Butt-Head half of the Beavis and Butt-Head test. What makes it even worse is that is the exit sign for the Hooters in Troy. Think about it.



Thursday, March 22, 2012

Detroit "what people think" meme

I know I promised a retrospective post yesterday. Don't worry, I'm working on it and will post it tonight or tomorrow. However, in the process of composing it, I found this meme macro about Detroit over at Julie Bass's blog. She wrote that it was too good not to repost, and I agree.




Detroit Represent!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Happy birthday to Crazy Eddie's Motie News

Today is the anniversary of the first post on this blog, so I'm going to wish it a happy birthday.




I plan on having a retrospective post tonight. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happy Vernal Equinox!


The Guardian (UK): Spring equinox Google doodle heralds change of season
Google marked the vernal equinox, or the first day of Spring, using a doodle based on a design by Marimekko, the the Finnish textile company famous for its bright, bold prints.
If there's an event worth celebrating, it will have a Google doodle--eventually. At least the Vernal Equinox has one now.

As for what's being celebrated, I'll let Joe Rao of Space.com explain in the following article in Huffington Post.

Spring Equinox, Vernal Equinox: Whatever It's Called, New Season's Arrival in 2012 Is Unusually Early
Across much of the United States, this has been an unusually mild winter, especially for those living east of the Mississippi. Not a few people have noted that spring seems to have come early this year. Of course, in a meteorological sense that could be true, but in 2012 it will also be true in an astronomical sense as well, because this year spring will make its earliest arrival since the late 19th century: 1896, to be exact.
The Vernal Equinox arrrived at 1:14 A.M. E.D.T. today, which meant that it arrived during the night of March 19th from Mountain Time Zone west to the International Date Line. That is incredibly early. So, any of the groundhogs that predicted an early spring in the eastern U.S. would have had the odds on their side.

As for why the Vernal Equinox arrived so soon this year, the HuffPo article lists several reasons.
  • A year is not an even number of days, and neither are the seasons. To try to achieve a value as close as possible to the exact length of the year, our Gregorian Calendar was constructed to give a close approximation to the tropical year, which is the actual length of time it takes for Earth to complete one orbit around the sun. It eliminates leap days in century years not evenly divisible by 400, such 1700, 1800 and 2100, and millennium years that are divisible by 4000, such as 8000 and 12000.
  • Another reason is that Earth's elliptical orbit is changing its orientation relative to the sun (it skews), which causes Earth's axis to constantly point in a different direction, called precession. Since the seasons are defined as beginning at strict 90-degree intervals, these positional changes affect the time Earth reaches each 90-degree location in its orbit around the sun.
  • The pull of gravity from the other planets also affects the location of Earth in its orbit.
Read the rest of the article on HuffPo (or Space.com if you can find it; I couldn't). Between it and The Science of Today's Spring Equinox, which was originally from LiveScience but is also on Space.com (are the articles playing musical chairs today?), one can get a good understanding of the history and significance of today.

Oil boom in Irish Hills hits close to home



The following has been the most popular story on the Detroit Free Press site since yesterday morning, when I first read it.

Oil boom fears flow in pristine Irish Hills
By Tina Lam
March 18, 2012
BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Bringing with it concerns about potential earthquakes, contaminated drinking water and dangerous spills, an oil boom has hit the popular, pristine vacation destination of the Irish Hills in Jackson and Lenawee counties.

Tall rigs punch holes among lakes and wetlands, and gas flares light up the night sky.

In Adrian, rows of pink flags mark the spots where oil companies are doing seismic testing to determine whether there's oil below homes. Schools and colleges have leased out lands for oil drilling. Horses gaze across fields to pumping oil derricks.

The boom that began with discoveries of oil near tiny Napoleon three years ago has made Jackson County the state's top oil producer. It produces about 2% of the oil customers consume statewide, a company executive said. Manistee County in northern Michigan is the second-highest producer, and Lenawee County is third.

But some say the growing string of more than 60 oil wells in a diagonal line across Jackson and Lenawee counties -- in the midst of summer cottages and lakeside pubs -- shouldn't be happening. Along with promises of fattened bank accounts and higher tax revenues, there is alarm about deep-injection wells planned for drilling waste, which have been tied to earthquakes elsewhere, and about oil spills in this watery paradise, where everyone gets their water from wells.

"Even the guys collecting oil checks have got to feel some regret," said John Bancroft, a former Troy teacher who retired and built his dream home in the Irish Hills. "What they did changed everybody's life."
I lived in the Irish Hills for seven years, so this hits close to home. In fact, one of the wells is just on the other side of the nearest highway from my old house. It freaks me out a bit to think that none of these wells were there when I moved out the area in 2007. At least there's no fracking--yet.

Read the rest of the article. It's well worth it and also will keep a local sustainability and energy story high up in the site's rankings.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Record-breaking streak of warm days for Detroit in March

Detroit Free Press: Metro Detroit may tie record for longest stretch of days reaching 60s in March
Metro Detroit is expected to tie a record Monday for the longest stretch of days reaching the 60s this month, and by the end of the week, that record is expected to be shattered.

Today marks the eighth consecutive day in March that temperatures have reached at least 60 degrees, one short of the record set in 1945, National Weather Service Meteorologist Rachel Kulik said from the office in White Lake Township Today.

Temperatures have reached 75 degrees today at Detroit Metro Airport, she said.
The record for above 60 degree days should be matched today (Monday), broken Tuesday, and be set on Thursday. All of those days are forecast to be above 70. In fact, both Tuesday and Wednesday should set new records for their dates. If I recall what I heard on the Weather Channel on Sunday, the record temperature for the next three days is about 76 degrees F. Tuesday is predicted to be 79 and Wednesday is 78.

The good news is that I've already worked on the vegetable garden for two days during the weekend just past. The bad news is that the weeds have already started sprouting, a month earlier than usual. Both the anchor on the Weather Channel and I are worried about what this might portend for this summer. I hope nothing, but after last summer, I'm expecting a hot one. It could also be a violent one.

Speaking of which, here are the latest videos from WOOD-TV and WXYZ on the Dexter tornado.











I'm glad to hear that no one was hurt and things are getting back to normal.

ETA: Yesterday was the warmest March 18th on record for Detroit.
According to the National Weather Service office in White Lake Township, Detroit broke a record for the highest temperature for March 18.

The old record, set in 1903, was 72 degrees, said Phil Kurimski, a meteorologist with the weather service.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Paul Krugman has discovered Agenda 21 paranoia



Paul Krugman made a point about how crazy he thought the Right had become in First, they came for the golf courses. There, he linked to the Think Progress article TX Sen Candidate Ted Cruz Spouts Paranoid Fantasy About United Nations/George Soros Conspiracy To Eliminate Golf. Yes, really.

As soon as I read the combination of George Soros, the United Nations, and eliminating golf courses, I knew I was dealing with someone who had bought into the paranoia about Agenda 21. I was right. The Think Progress article quoted a page from Ted Cruz's own website railing against Agenda 21, one with a title so precious that I have to reproduce it here: Stop Agenda 21: The Constitution should be our only “Agenda.” I have to hand it to Cruz; that's the perfect framing for someone who wants to run with an anti-Agenda 21 plank.

As for what Cruz wrote about Agenda 21 eliminating golf, here's the section that Think Progress quoted (bolding theirs).
In 1992, the United Nations adopted Agenda 21 to “achieve a more efficient and equitable world economy,” outlining a process to eliminate environmental decay and social injustice through micromanaging industries, communities, and culture. They will meet again next year to discuss its “progress” in over 100 nations.

The originator of this grand scheme is George Soros, who candidly supports socialism and believes that global development must progress through eliminating national sovereignty and private property. He has given millions to this project. But he is not the only one promoting this plan; in fact, the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) now consists of over 600 cities in the United States.

Agenda 21 attempts to abolish “unsustainable” environments, including golf courses, grazing pastures, and paved roads. It hopes to leave mother earth’s surface unscratched by mankind. . . . Agenda 21 subverts liberty, our property rights, and our sovereignty.
First, Ooga booga! George Soros! Yeah, scare your base while saying "Pay no attention to the Koch Brothers behind the curtain!" Second, golf courses? I have no problem with golf courses here in Michigan. I live within a few blocks of one. It adds to the green space around me and helps keep this neighborhood quiet, along with the two cemetaries and the city park on the other three sides of my house. Golf courses in California are another matter, but that's a small matter compared to all the other extravagant uses of water there. Third, it's not cow pastures that are the problem, it's CAFOs. I rather doubt anyone is going after Joel Salatin for the pastures on Polyface Farm. Finally, the man is projecting about paved roads. After all, he belongs to the party that is underfunding state and local government, which means roads don't get paved.

I didn't post any of the above in response to either article. Instead, I compiled some of my greatest hits on Agenda 21 paranoia and posted the result as comments to both the Krugman post and the Think Progress article. Here it is.
Ted Cruz isn't the only Republican candidate who is using Agenda 21 to rally his party's paranoid base. Newt Gingrich has been explicitly campaigning against Agenda 21 since last November, vowing that he'll reverse all the sustainable development initiatives during the past 3 years that he claims are evidence of Obama implementing Agenda 21. It's a major part of the reason why he's been hating on New Yorkers and residents of D.C. who live in high rises and take the subway, saying that one can't put a gun rack on a Volt, and promoting his candidacy with a vaporware program to reduce gas to $2.50/ gallon. Newt is even putting the $2.50 gas logo on his campaign signs. He thinks this is a winner.

The paranoia extends beyond Newt Gingrich. In January, the Republican National Committee passed a resolution against what it called “the destructive and insidious nature” of Agenda 21. It declared, “The United Nations Agenda 21 plan of radical so-called ‘sustainable development’ views the American way of life of private property ownership, single family homes, private car ownership and individual travel choices, and privately owned farms; all as destructive to the environment.” So this isn't just an isolated incident. The belief that Agenda 21 is the new black helicopter goes all the way to the top of the GOP.

And to think this all started last summer as Tea Partiers vs. manatees in Florida.
It turns out that Krugman would have found out about the RNC resolution if he had clicked through to Cruz's website. The very first paragraph mentions it.
The Republican National Committee recently took a stand in voting unanimously to oppose Agenda 21, a dangerous United Nations plan that takes aim at the American economy – and American freedom – in the name of environmental reform.
Look for more Republicans playing the roles of maniacs promising people can keep their cars, McMansions, and commutes this year.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day from Crazy Eddie's Motie News!

Since the sun is shining and I have a garden plot to tend, another blog to write, and a wife to love, I'll leave you all with a video spam from my YouTube subscription feed for today's holiday post.

The saying is that everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's day. Russia Today demonstrates the truth of that saying with St. Patrick's Day in Moscow.





British Royalty even got into the act, with the Duchess of Cambridge presenting shamrock sprigs to the Irish Guards, including the unit's Irish Wolfhound mascot, as ITN reports.





The cermonies continued with the Irish Guards toasting the Duchess with beer.





Speaking of beer, Discovery News posted this video showing the highlights of the history and science of beer.




Beer has a lot more to it than just suds and bubbles. Daron Taylor takes a look!
On that note, here is a link my wife posted to her Facebook wall: The Nutritional Lowdown on Guinness.
Since St. Patrick’s Day is on a Saturday this year, we figured that more than a few of you would be down for celebrating with a pint of Ireland’s most famous export: Guinness stout.

If you are on a nutrition plan, you don’t have to forgo the Guinness entirely. Guinness has a reputation for being a meal in a glass, but it’s actually lower in calories and higher in nutrition that you might think.
Bottoms up!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Beware The Ides of March



What did you expect, Shakespeare?

Also, beware of the health effects of Daylight Savings Time.

University of Alabama, Birmingham: Heart attacks rise following daylight saving time
March 6, 2012
Daylight-saving time this year begins March 11, and while we all might look forward to another hour of sunshine a University of Alabama at Birmingham expert says the time change is not necessarily good for your health.

“The Monday and Tuesday after moving the clocks ahead one hour in March is associated with a 10 percent increase in the risk of having a heart attack,” says UAB Associate Professor Martin Young, Ph.D., in the Division of Cardiovascular Disease. “The opposite is true when falling back in October. This risk decreases by about 10 percent.”

The Sunday morning of the time change doesn’t require an abrupt schedule change, but, Young says, heart-attack risk peaks on Monday when most people rise earlier to go to work.

“Exactly why this happens is not known but there are several theories,” Young says. “Sleep deprivation, the body’s circadian clock and immune responses all can come into play when considering reasons that changing the time by an hour can be detrimental to someone’s health.”
Of course, if you're reading this, you've already escaped the worst of it.

Story originally part of Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday on Daily Kos.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy Pi Day!



Huffington Post: Pi Day in America
Today, 4,000 years after people first discovered how useful pi could be, we are about to celebrate International Pi Day. The first time a day was dedicated to pi was on March 14, 1989 at the Exploratorium, a museum of science, art and human perception in San Francisco. The idea was the brainchild of Larry Shaw, a physicist at the center...

Since then, this museum and many others, as well as universities, schools and individuals have celebrated Pi Day by performing pi-related activities; some serious and some less so, such as creating pi puns; baking, throwing and eating pies; and singing pi songs. You can check out this year's bash at the Exploratorium here.

The date is derived from the first three digits of pi -- 3.14 -- using American dating order, just as September 11 is 9/11. And 2015 is going to be a big year for pi since we will celebrate 3.14 15 (correct to 4 places).

At first, Pi Day was a gimmick and a good joke, but now it is a big deal. Many North American and UK schools use it to spark interest in maths and science projects (for example, learning how the Greeks or Arabs did arithmetic; studying famous scientists like Gauss, Newton or Archimedes who worked on pi; or perhaps calculating the volumes of real pies before eating them).
Also, Mathematicians Pictures is having a pi drop at 1:59 PM EDT today (get it? 3.14159) here.

Don't expect a lot of serious posts for the next week. Tomorrow is the Ides of March. Two days after that is St. Patrick's Day. Finally, a week from today is this blog's first birthday. Party time!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Nate Silver makes a punny

In the middle of a long explanation about why polling in the Deep South has been more inaccurate than in other regions of the U.S., Nate Silver made what looked at first glance like an error, but really was a clever pun, however accidental (bolding mine).
Polls can sometimes have problems because of social desirability bias — the tendency to provide an answer that you think might seem most acceptable to the stranger on the other end of the line, rather than what you really think.

This bias is potentially stronger in cultures that have stronger codes of etiquette, and where people are more self-conscious of the front they present to strangers. This is pertinent in some Asian and Asian-American cultures, for instance. Polls of Hawaii, where there are many Japanese-Americans, have a bad track record; one survey there somewhat infamously predicted a win for George W. Bush in 2004, but John Kerry instead took the state by 9 percentage points.

Etiquette also remains more in tact in the South, and especially in the Deep South, than in most other parts of the country. If so, polls there could encounter similar problems.
I couldn't resist ribbing Nate about his diction.
My proofreader's eye notices something odd about the use of "in tact" in that sentence. Let's see what the Free Online Dictionary has to say about "in tact" versus "intact."

tact: Acute sensitivity to what is proper and appropriate in dealing with others, including the ability to speak or act without offending.

intact: Remaining sound, entire, or uninjured; not impaired in any way.

The proper usage is "intact," but I think you should let this one stand. In context, writing "etiquette...remains...in tact" makes for a good pun. I hope it was intentional.
Even if it were unintentional, I still found it funny. Hey, I like looking at Freudian slips showing. ;-)

Tornadoes overnight in Michigan

A tornado wall cloud was spotted in western Michigan yesterday, which was enough to trigger a tornado warning. WOOD-TV has the report.




The tornado kept moving.




The storm continued to the northeast and may have spawned a tornado near Midland. The Detroit Free Press reports.
The National Weather Service will determine today whether a tornado hit Midland County overnight, as storms move east for sunshine and warm temperatures in metro Detroit.

Trees and wires were knocked down and some buildings damaged in Coleman, Michigan, in Midland County overnight, meteorologist Dave Gurney said today from the agency's White Lake Township office.

"There’s a little damage up in Midland county, but not down around these parts," Gurney said. "We’re going to do a storm survey for one portion of the damage to see if it was straight-line wind or a little tornado."
No tornadoes here in Oakland County, but the storm did produce a strong thunderstorm with heavy rain about 10:30 PM. It was enough to interfere with reception of the satellite TV at my house. I can put up with the inconvenience so long as worse weather avoids me and nice weather awaits.
Today, expect warm sunshine with temperatures climbing to an unseasonably warm 60 to 65 degrees, Gurney said.

"It's above normally, certainly," Gurney said. "Normal high temperature for this time of year is 40, 45 during the day. So we’re running 15 to 20 degrees above normal."
The rest of the week will also be just as unseasonably warm. I'm enjoying it, but not everyone is.
The mild winter has affected not just the ski resorts and snowmobile dealerships, but also the tertiary businesses that depend on cold and snow to thrive. They include shoeshines, pizzerias, hot chocolate companies, and a whole slew of businesses that rely on a real winter for real dollars.
I have to say this has been the mildest winter since I moved here from California in 1989. May the summer not be as hot as the winter was mild.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mitt Romney and George Carlin on grits

On Friday, Mitt Romney tried to win over the crowd at a rally in Pascagoula, Mississippi, with his newfound love of grits.



Romney repeated his affection for grits in Jackson, Mississippi. The panelists on Alex Wagner's show couldn't restrain themselves from facepalming.



This is enough to make me think his saying "the trees are the right height" sounds intelligent in comparison. That's my second reaction. My first is to recall George Carlin's standup bit about cooking grits.



Actually, you can eat them damned grits, but I doubt Romney actually does.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

First anniversary of Japanese earthquake, tsunami, and meltdown

From ITN News on YouTube comes the official memorial.




Japan holds a minute's silence to mark the one year anniversary of the massive earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 19,000 people. Report by Katie Lamborn.
ITN also has this retrospective.




A look back at the destruction caused by the massive earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan a year ago. Report by Katie Lamborn.
Click on Read more to see the earthquake/tsunami/meltdown stories from last night's Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday on Daily Kos.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

WXYZ: $4.00 gas! Econobrowser: Not that big a deal

In yesterday's post, I described how the combination of high unemployment and high and rising gas prices has thrice resulted in increased gasoline thefts during the past 4 years. Within hours of my posting that entry, WXYZ uploaded a video that marks an important psychological milestone: Gas prices in metro Detroit jumping over $4.00/gallon.




The price increase extended to my corner gas station, which raised its price for unleaded regular to $3.99/gallon. How long they keep that price is open to question, as the three gas stations just two blocks away were still selling regular at $3.85/gallon this morning. I suspect the corner gas station will lower their price down to $3.87 by Monday. However, a return to the $3.75/gallon I paid on Tuesday is not in the cards any time soon.

That written, and the reactions of people in the WXYZ clip about higher gas prices curbing their other spending notwithstanding, James Hamilton at Econobrowser was surprisingly sanguine earlier this week as he explained Why Current High Oil Prices Won’t Derail the U.S. Economy.
Although the prices of oil and gasoline have risen significantly from their values in October, they are still not back to the levels we saw last spring or in the summer of 2008. There is a good deal of statistical evidence...that an oil price increase that does no more than reverse an earlier decline has a much more limited effect on the economy than if the price of oil surges to a new all-time high.

One reason for this is that much of the impact on the economy of an increase in oil prices comes from abrupt changes in the patterns of consumer spending. For example, one thing we often observe when oil prices spike up is that U.S. consumers suddenly stop buying the less fuel-efficient vehicles that tend to be manufactured in North America. That drop in income for the domestic auto sector is one factor aggravating the overall economic consequences. But if consumers have recently seen even higher prices than they’re paying at the moment, their spending plans and firms’ production plans are likely already to have incorporated that reality.
Although gas prices have risen over $4.00/gallon for the fourth time in as many years, at least in Michigan, they aren't at that level for most of the country yet, and nowhere have they reached record levels, as the graph immediate below shows. Therefore, the impact of the current price rise will be less than for the previous two, which merely slowed down the economic recovery, to say nothing of the first one, which helped put the economy into a tailspin.




The main line of evidence Hamilton looked at was the rapidly improving automobile sales figures, which are showing no sign of a slowdown related to oil prices, at least so far. That's not the only statistic that Hamilton analyzes.
Another series I pay close attention to is the share of total consumer spending that is eaten up by the cost of energy. But the remarkable thing here is that nominal consumer spending on energy goods and services actually declined on a seasonally adjusted basis between September and January, even as the price of gasoline was going up considerably. This represents a combination of an unusually mild winter, very low natural gas prices, and consumers finding ways to reduce their energy consumption and thereby insulate their budgets from some of the damage of higher gasoline prices.
Here's the graph he uses to illustrate his point, which shows the percentage of consumer expenditures devoted to energy for the past 50 years. The blue line is the 6% level, which Hamilton has determined is the threshold for consumers to change their spending behavior.




There is one thing that worries Hamilton, which just happens to be the same thing that worries me.
If tensions with Iran were to escalate, then I would start to worry a good deal more. But based on what has happened to oil prices so far, I find myself in the unusual position of being less concerned about the impact of oil prices on the U.S. economy than many other analysts.
I hope he's right.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Hard times plus rising gas prices equals gas thefts

Today's good employment news that unemployment is the lowest it's been since it was time to party like it's 1929 in September 2008, which means it's down nearly two percent from a year ago and more than five percent from its peak back in 2009, still isn't enough to hide one important fact; Michigan's unemployment rate is nine percent. That means that conditions are improving, but times are still tough for a lot of people. Adding to the difficulties of both the employed and unemployed is that gas prices are up 25 cents this week for a statewide average of $3.93/gallon, $3.89 in metro Detroit.

We've seen this movie before, first in 2008 and again in 2011. Both times gasoline theft increased. Since it happened then, it should be no surprise that it's happening now. This time, gas thieves in Detroit are adding a new twist to the plot.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The first warm day of spring

Here's what I wrote on my Facebook page earlier tonight.
It's a gorgeous night, so [my wife] and I have the heat off and the windows open, enjoying the warm breeze from the south.
As for how warm, I'll let the Detroit Free Press tell you.

Temps expected to soar to 65 degrees in metro Detroit
It won't be a record-setter, but temperatures today are expected to soar to 65 degrees in metro Detroit, according to the National Weather Service.

The record high for March 7 at Metro Airport is 76 degrees, set in 2000, meteorologist Matt Mosteiko said today from the agency's office in White Lake Township. And the record low is a frigid 2 degrees, set in 1913. The normal high is 42 degrees, and low is 26, he added.
...
It's expected to be breezy and partly cloudy with peeks of sunshine today, with the temperature peaking at about 2 p.m. Rain is expected to move into the region around midnight, with an overnight low of 52 and an 80% chance of precipitation, Mosteiko said.
Yeah, it's nice, but it's not going to last until tomorrow. As for what's in store, here's the latest weather report from WOOD-TV, which looks at space weather in addition to the forecast for the western half of the state.



Some cooler weather will move in before we get warm again, Bill Steffen says. And a magnificent solar storm.
The weather is not returning to the deep freeze again, but will warm up after turning merely cooler. So far, it looks like I was right to believe Staten Island Chuck over Punxsutawney Phil on Groundhog Day.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Universities studying and promoting civility in politics

Coffee Party Survivor Logo


It is no secret that I'm a member of the Coffee Party, as I blog about it here. One of the founding principles of the Coffee Party is civility, including having members sign a Civility Pledge. So when I stumbled into what looks like the beginning of a trend for universities to be interested in and promote civility in politics as part of my long-term project on Daily Kos to highlight the research stories from the public universities in each of the states having elections and caucuses during the week, it piqued my interest.

Here's the first story, which I posted in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (AAAS, Arizona, and Michigan edition) week before last.

University of Arizona: Gabrielle Giffords to Join National Institute for Civil Discourse Board
By University Communications
February 21, 2012
The National Institute for Civil Discourse is a nonpartisan center for the research and advocacy of civility in public discourse.

The National Institute for Civil Discourse at the University of Arizona has announced that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has been named to its National Board of Advisors. Fred DuVal, chair of the institute's Working Board, and Eugene G. Sander, president of the UA, made the announcement Tuesday.

"There is truly no greater example of a public servant committed to the idea of increasing civility in politics than Congresswoman Giffords," DuVal said.

"We are honored that Congresswoman Giffords, who is beloved and respected around the world, will partner with the institute on advancing the quality of our nation's public discourse," Sander said.
This past week, I found two more stories in the same vein, which made their way into Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Massive March Storms edition).

University of Massachusetts: Forum on Civility Draws Audience of Hundreds
Pamela Worth
February 28, 2012
What is civility? Does the word indicate etiquette and manners, or a deeper and more fundamental quality in a democracy? Has America ever truly embraced civil discourse in its history? Have incivility and disrespect hindered Americans in recent years from working together?

On Friday, February 17, UMass Boston’s Center for Civil Discourse hosted its inaugural event: a national Forum on Civility and American Democracy that aimed to explore these and other questions with a day of discussion and thought.

The forum was the brainchild of Stephen Crosby, outgoing dean of the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies. The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), along with Mass Humanities, Boston’s National Public Radio station 90.9 WBUR, and the McCormack Graduate School helped to sponsor the forum.

University of North Dakota: Conflict Resolution Center to focus on politics and ‘civility in public conversation’ at annual symposium
Former U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan to speak; event delves into the question: Have we lost our ability to talk civilly?
March 2, 2012
The University of North Dakota Conflict Resolution Center (CRC) will explore the current state of political and public discourse at its fifth annual "Symposia on Conflict Transformation" seminar.

The CRC wants to use the occasion to talk about "civility in public conversation" and its impacts on society locally and beyond. The symposium is set for May 21-25, 2012. Most events will take place at in the River Valley Room of the UND Memorial Union.

Former U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan, a UND alumnus whose spent more than 30 years in local, state and national politics, will be a guest speaker for the event.
Three stories about promoting political civility from three states in two weeks--must be something in the Zeitgeist. I'm encouraged.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I was one of "about a dozen" yesterday

Paul Ryan came to town yesterday to be the main attraction for a fundraiser for Pete Hoekstra, who is running for Senate.  Since I've had my share of things to say about Paul Ryan, it was an easy sell to get me to be one of the people demonstrating his visit. A bunch of us carried signs about protecting Social Security and Medicare. The protest even made the Detroit Free Press.

Candidate Pete Hoekstra rallies support
About a dozen protesters, including some senior citizens, picketed the event at the Westin Hotel in Southfield and were more than happy to talk about their fear of spiraling health care costs.
“All I have is Social Security and my husband’s pension and now I feel like I’m being squeezed out,” said Deanna Tachna, 73, of Birmingham. “I always thought that I was part of the middle class, but with this, there’s not going to be a middle class anymore.”
The reporter came at the end of the demonstration as people were starting to leave. If she had counted five minutes earlier and included the people demonstrating by the entrance to the parking garage less than 100 feet away, she would have recorded twice as many. That's not the only error in the report.  She identified Paul Ryan as an "Illinois Republican."  He's not.  Paul Ryan is a representative from Wisconsin, not Illinois. He represented my wife when she lived in Kenosha County, not when she lived in the Chicago suburbs.

On the subject of followers of Ayn Rand, there is a diary about their ill effects on U.S. politics and society over at Daily Kos: Book Review: Ayn Rand Nation, by Gary Weiss. I recommend you read it.

And now, the macro I keep on hand just for mentions of Ayn Rand.


Fat Cat goes Galt

Monday, March 5, 2012

Look who I found while doing something else

Over at Daily Kos, I've been engaging on a long-term project to "highlight the research stories from the public universities in each of the states having elections and caucuses during the week (or in the upcoming weeks if there is no primary or caucus that week)."* Among the states having elections and caucuses coming up are ten states participating in Super Tuesday, and I included stories from eight on them in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Massive March Storms edition). One of those states is Vermont. It just so happens that I ran across a familiar name while searching through the University of Vermont's press releases.

University of Vermont: Kunstler Headlines 'Vermont's Energy Future' Lecture Series
By University Communications
February 23, 2012
James Howard Kunstler has no love for flashy, contemporary architecture. "These redundant monumental gestures are the last gasps of the cheap energy fiesta," he writes on his "Eyesore of the Month" page of his website, which regularly skewers images of skyscrapers, poor urban planning and futuristic buildings. "The closer we get to the end, the more soulless they get."

Kunstler is author of The Geography of Nowhere, Home From Nowhere, and The Long Emergency, among other books, which critique and offer solutions to America's "tragic landscape of highway strips, parking lots, housing tracts, mega-malls, junked cities, and ravaged countryside," symbols of disregard, he says, for an impending energy crisis.

In the keynote address of a spring semester lecture series on "Vermont's Energy Future," co-sponsored by the Center for Research on Vermont and the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, Kunstler will speak on "The End of Cheap Energy," Wednesday, March 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the Davis Center's Silver Maple Ballroom.

In this lecture, Kunstler will lay out a vision of a world dependent on cheap energy and approaching a devastating turning point that will return the nation to a place where community matters, where neighbors gather and people build places they value.
I filed the above under "Energy" but I could just as easily have filed it under "Science, Space, Environment, Health, and Energy Policy," "Science Writing and Reporting," or "Non-Science Research." In any event, it's a small world!

*I have a bunch of stories from Michigan among all the rest of the sustainability news from all the other primary and caucus states so far. I've been saving them for a slow day. The problem is that slow days in the politics of sustainability have been rare lately. I'll see about getting around to posting them soon.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

I hope Thomas Friedman doesn't care what Newt Gingrich thinks

In the spirt of a stuck clock being right twice a day, Tom "Suck on this" Friedman made a very eloquent plea on behalf of sustainable development of energy.
But this is not a column about traffic — per se.

This is a column about energy and environment and why we must not let the poisonous debate about climate change so tie us in knots that we cannot have any energy policy at all, particularly one focused on developing much more efficient use of resources, through better designs and systems. If you are so reckless as to dismiss all climate science as a hoax, and do not accept the data that our planet is getting hotter and the oceans rising, I can’t help you. That’s between you and your beach house — and your kids, whose future you’re imperiling.

But you better believe this: The planet is getting flatter and more crowded. There will be two billion more people here by 2050, and they will all want to live and drive just like us. And when they do, there is going to be one monster traffic jam and pollution cloud, unless we learn how to get more mobility, lighting, heating and cooling from less energy and with less waste — with so many more people. We can’t let the climate wars continue to derail efforts to have an energy policy that puts in place rising efficiency standards, for buildings, windows, traffic, housing, packaging and appliances, that will drive innovation — which is our strength — in what has to be the next great global industry: energy and resource efficiency.
Friedman then goes on to explain how the last paragraph I quoted forms the message of two books, “The Sixth Wave: How to Succeed in a Resource Limited World” by James Bradfield Moody and Bianca Nogrady and “Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era” by Avory Lovins. Despite what I think of Friedman on foreign policy and partisan politics, which isn't much, I agree with him here. I highly recommend reading this column.

I only have one snarky observation about the column itself, separate from its author--the title: "Take the subway." Dude, Newt Gingrich hates your guts.


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Rich Robinson of Michigan Campaign Finance Network on Coffee Party Radio

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Louden Clear! Vince Lamb guest hosts for Jeanene
How can we get the money out of politics when we don't even know where all the money is? Finding that hidden money in politics is the subject of today's Louden Clear. Guest host Vince Lamb and his guest Rich Robinson of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network will be talking about the hidden money in Michigan politics. Rich has been investigating unreported expenditures for many years and has found $70 million in hidden money spent in Michigan alone during the past decade. He is finishing up his research on the just-concluded Michigan primary and could be ready to share his preliminary findings today. Join Vince and Rich today at 2:30 PM ET/11:30 AM PT for an hour of conversation about the hidden money in politics.
In addition to the guest host and the guest, Eric Byler of Coffee Party USA called in.  To listen to the episode, click on the embed below. It lasts one hour and one minute.



Listen to internet radio with Coffee Party USA on Blog Talk Radio


And, yes, I'm the host. Hi there!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Follow-up to Examiner.com article on Michigan primary

In my Examiner.com article on the Michigan primary I included the following in the article itself but didn't quote it in my post of a couple of days ago.
According to the latest figures from the Secretary of State, Romney won the Republican primary with 41.07% of the 996,126 votes cast in the G.O.P. side of the race, Santorum came in second with 37.86%, Paul placed third with 11.62%, and Gingrich finished out of the money with 6.53%. Despite Romney's clear victory in the statewide popular vote, he and Santorum split the state's delegates to the Republican National Convention evenly, at least according to the preliminary results on the Michigan Republican Party's web page for the primary. Romney and Santorum each won seven congressional districts, earning 14 delegates apiece, and split the two delegates determined by the statewide vote, for a total of 15 delegates for each candidate.
It turns out that the Michigan Republican Party decided to allocate both at-large delegates to Romney. Chuck Stokes of WXYZ-TV explains.




The state Republican Party has set the delegates that will be awarded, based on the results of Tuesday's primary.
As Stokes explains, Romney now has 16 delegates, while Santorum has 14, so the delegates are no longer evenly split. On the one hand, that's a reasonable result given the outcome of the vote. On the other, it wasn't what the candidates or the media, including me, believed would happen given how their understanding of the rules. I'll let the Detroit Free Press explain.
The vote came despite the party’s rules that the two at-large delegates are supposed to be awarded on a proportional basis based on the statewide popular vote.
...
Saul Anuzis, a member of the credentials committee, said the party’s rules were passed in early February to award the two at-large delegates to the statewide winner, but that a memo sent, in error, to the candidates’ campaigns said the delegates would be distributed proportionately.

“While we regret the error in the memo, it does not change what was voted on by the committee,” Anuzis said. “This is much to do about nothing.”
This decision didn't sit well with two members of the committee, one of whom spoke to the Detroit Free Press about it.
Former Attorney General Mike Cox is a supporter of Romney and even acted as a surrogate for the candidate on several occasions during the last three weeks.

But Wednesday night’s 4-2 vote to award the two at-large delegates to Romney didn’t pass the smell test for Cox.

“I have this crazy idea that you follow the rules,” Cox said. “I’d love to give the at-large delegates to Mitt Romney, but our rules provide for strict apportionment.”
This is the latest episode in a long-running comedy of errors in the Republican primaries and caucuses. I'll let Taegan Goddard of Political Wire sum it up.
The Republican presidential campaign has been one of the sloppiest in memory.

Mitt Romney was declared the winner in Iowa until several days later miscounted votes were "found" which put Rick Santorum ahead. Romney was named the victor in Maine without all caucus votes counted because they were "lost" in someone's email. Now, the Michigan delegate count was changed two days after the primary either due to sloppiness, ambiguity in the rules or a backroom power play.

It sure makes you wonder.
The question he asked was "Why so sloppy?" The answers range from simple incompetence to lack of belief in democracy. I'm not going to pick one. Instead, I'll just repeat that I am glad I am no longer a Republican!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Nablopomo for March: Whether



From Nablopomo on BlogHer
So what is the NaBloPoMo theme of the month?

WHETHER

It's actually whether... and it's weather... since both words fit with the season. March is a transitional month, bringing either warmer weather for the northern hemisphere or colder air for those down south. Being transitional means that there are a lot of whethers to your day: whether to wear a coat or not, whether to spend your time outside or in front of the computer, or whether to sign up for these summer/winter plans or that.

Some people love the open possibilities inherent in the word "whether" and others find the lack of concreteness terrifying. Whichever way you swing, this is a great month to explore why you feel the way you do; if you embrace or run screaming from the "whethers" of life.
...
NaBloPoMo is what you make of it. At its core, all you need to do is post daily on your blog. The point of NaBloPoMo is not to be restricted by the theme, but instead to either take it or leave it. If you'll do better blogging every day based on what's happening in your world, throw aside the daily prompts.

So start thinking about how you feel about the uncertainty of whether.
This will be easy, as I blog about weather regularly. Even easier, I have multiple sources for it. WXYZ on YouTube has frequent if irregular local weather features, but is very good for any kind of extreme event. WOOD-TV 8 posts their weather reports reliably on their YouTube channel at least once a day, if not more. If all else fails, there are Next Media Animation's Weather Girls. Besides, if the weather is boring, there is always the "whether." Choices and chances about the present and future abound! The big problem will be posting every day, not finding something to post about.

Speaking of weather, that snowstorm I was dreading turned out to be a complete dud. One inch of snow fell overnight instead of the four or more predicted and it all melted by the end of the day. Tonight, on the other hand, was more interesting--a thunderstorm to usher out February and herald March. In like a lion, indeed!