Sunday, July 31, 2011

Weekly Roundup for July 24th through 30th, 2011

This past week maintained the pace set the week before, when I posted 12 entries, readers made five comments, and the blog received 783 page views. Last week, I again wrote 12 entries, readers left four comments, one of which was spam, and the blog had 753 page views, more than 100 a day. This past week also saw the first time the blog exceeded 4,000 page views in a month, which happened late Friday. The month ended with 4,181 hits, a record. The stats are already looking good for this week, as readers left six comments, none of which were spam, and the 114 hits for today are well above last Sunday's 65. If this is the new normal, then I'm happy.


This was the last full week of Swim posts and most of my posts fit this theme one way or another, beginning with the previous Weekly Roundup in which I summarized all the previous week's Swim posts. The real Swim posts began with the second post of last Sunday, when I began covering the story of Raquel Nelson in A petition against the criminalization of walking, the most popular post of the week with 128 views. I followed up with Update on petition to decriminalize walking and wrapped up Raquel's story, for this week at least, in Her day in court, in which I also covered the conclusion of Julie Bass's legal journey.

Swimming against the tide of politics was the theme of many of the rest of the week's postings as well, beginning with I haven't forgotten about Troy's library, in which I revisited the struggle to keep local libraries open. The election for the millage will be the day after tomorrow. Look for a post about it. The swim against ignorance continued in Why do Tea Partiers hate high-speed rail?--a post inspired by a reaction to a story covered in Silly Sustainability Saturday: Carmageddon, Tea Partiers against manatees, and Butterbeer from a few weeks ago. This same story made another cameo in Silly Sustainability Saturday: The Onion, more manatees, heat wave denial, and a poem in which a U.S. Representative from Florida actually took their conspiracy theory seriously. If it weren't for the fact that the Tea Partiers are the epitome of what Kunstler calls "corn-pone fascists" who are standing in the way of sustainable solutions, I'd just type "LOL Teabaggers" and be done with them.

I didn't only document other people's attempts to swim against the political and cultural currents. I got up on my virtual soapbox myself. In What motivates Americans to act, I expressed my cynicism about America's screwed up priorities. For further commentary on this subject, read the LiveJournal version of this entry in which I explained why the NFL lockout had been resolved but the debt ceiling hostage crisis so far hasn't. I became a more idealistic in Allow me this rant on an anti-tax meme. I despaired in We could have had the Moon, instead we get Afghanistan. By this morning I was getting a bit punchy, as you can see in Debt Ceiling Cat, which will be in the next weekly roundup.

Of course, I also had the linkspams. This week, I posted only two of them, Sustainability news from Michigan's research universities for the week ending July 23, 2011 and Sustainability news from midwestern research universities for the week ending July 23, 2011. There were articles left over, which I'll collect into another sustainablity in archeology post, probably along with another CoDominion post and a leftovers post. That's in addition to the two linkspams of material I already have saved in another file. Hey, I'm an environmentalist, I recycle.

If you noticed, the previous weekly roundup didn't include a back-catalog champion. That's not the case this week, as Portland is watching "The End of Suburbia" cracked the weekly top ten with 14 page views. It also ended up as one of the top ten posts for July with 47 hits.

By the way, next month's theme for Nablopomo is Fiction. I'm participating. Here's the badge.

Open Book

More on this theme beginning tomorrow, which will be in a few minutes. See you then!

Debt Ceiling Cat

I always knew Congress was a bunch of wankers.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Silly Sustainability Saturday: The Onion, more manatees, heat wave denial, and a poem

Yet another week of sustainablity news worth laughing at.

First, The Onion, courtesy of Think Progress.

Nation's Climatologists Exhibiting Strange Behavior (Season 1: Ep 5 on IFC)
For some reason, climatologists have been running around in an agitated state, waving their little arms and squawking about "global warming."

It was only a matter of time until The Onion showed up in this series.

Do you remember Tea Party Patriots vs. manatees from the first Silly Sustainability Saturday? The Tea Party Patriots, tinfoil-lined tricorn hats and all, managed to get their local U.S. Representative to listen to them.

Think Progress: Nugent Amendment Pushes Tea Party Attack On Manatees
Florida Tea Party members believe that federal efforts to protect manatees from extinction are part of a United Nations conspiracy to place manatee over man. Freshman Rep. Rich Nugent (R-FL) is now standing up for the Tea Partiers against the feared manatee overlords, offering an amendment to the FY 2012 Interior and Environment appropriations bill (HR 2584) that would block the creation of a manatee refuge in Citrus County:
When I read "Nugent" in relation to an anti-wildlife political decision, I did a double-take. Michigan has its own Nugent who "is also noted for his conservative political views and his ardent defense of hunting and gun ownership rights."

More from the Citrus County Chronicle: Nugent aims to put brakes on manatee rule
Congressman pushes to strip funding to enforce rule
By Mike Wright
Wednesday, July 27, 2011 at 10:26 pm
U.S. Rep. Rich Nugent is asking Congress to withhold funding for a proposed manatee-protection rule involving Crystal River and King’s Bay, effectively stopping the rule before it starts.

Nugent, R-Brooksville, filed an amendment to the Department of the Interior’s appropriations that says “none of the funds” from the department’s budget may be used to implement the proposed manatee refuge rule.

Nugent said Wednesday the amendment is aimed at giving local residents and officials more time to meet with federal officials before the rule takes place.
“What I’m hearing is people want to be heard on it,” he said. “The federal government seems to work that way: We’ll let you have input after we design the rule. In the sense of fairness, I don’t see that as the way to do it. You have the discussions, and then make a decision.”
I'm glad he listens to his constituents, even ones as silly as the ones claiming that the manatee refuge is an expression of U.N. Programme 21. However, he doesn't have that same regard for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
He said he did not consult with federal wildlife officials before offering the no-funding amendment, other than to tell them it was coming.

“They didn’t talk to me and ask me about it,” Nugent said, referring to the manatee rule. “They wouldn’t even tell me about it until after it dropped.”
That's not all for the silly anti-sustainability amendments proposed for the Interior Department appropriations. The Democrats on the national resources committee have an entire list.

Sustainability news from midwestern research universities for the week ending July 23, 2011

In part one of last week's sustainability news, I wrote:
Next up, sustainability news from the public research universities of Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio.
Here it is. Again, I'm presenting this with minimal commentary. Too bad, as there are a lot of good stories worth reading and reflecting upon.

General Sustainability

University of Wisconsin: National Guard agribusiness team comes to CALS for “Ag 101” training
Many from campus are pitching in to help prepare troops for 2012 Afghanistan mission
Friday, July 22nd, 2011

CALS is welcoming 58 members of the Wisconsin National Guard Agribusiness Development Team to campus July 25–29 for a 40-hour “Ag 101” training. The course, organized by the Babcock Institute for International Dairy Research and Development and the Arlington Agricultural Research Station, is tailored to focus on farming techniques in Kunar province to help prepare the team for their spring of 2012 deployment. The training will take place at the Arlington station and on campus, with tours at area farms and the West Madison Ag Research Station.

The Agribusiness Development Team is a self-contained volunteer unit composed of Army National Guard Soldiers and Air National Guard Airmen with backgrounds and expertise in various sectors of the agribusiness field that work directly with Afghanistan farmers. During their deployment, members of the 82nd ADT will use their military occupational specialties and their civilian skills to teach Afghan farmers in Kunar province how to effectively farm and herd to expand agribusiness, create jobs and reduce poverty. The team is comprised of Wisconsin Army and Air National Guard members. Thirty-one of them, mainly infantry soldiers, will serve as security for the team. The other members consist of various administrative and technical staff, including forestry specialists, agronomist, agricultural marketing specialist, a hydrologist, a pest control specialist, engineers, a veterinary technician and multiple mechanics, medics and communications specialists.

University of Wisconsin: Air conditioning reported at normal levels
July 22, 2011

Campus air conditioning is running at normal levels in buildings across UW-Madison, facilities officials reported Friday morning.

After mechanical failures earlier in the week forced officials to shut down air conditioning to some buildings, facilities officials have worked around the clock to restore comfortable conditions and will monitor the system closely to determine if further adjustments are required.

University of Wisconsin: International panel: Is U.S. losing ground in higher education competitiveness?
by Kerry Hill
July 20, 2011
Countries around the world are ramping up investments in higher education in a push to create world-class research institutions. At the same time, the top research universities in the United States are confronting the challenges of dwindling resources and support.

Interim Chancellor David Ward will welcome a group of education leaders from around the world to the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Tuesday, July 26 for a panel discussion on these trends and what they mean for the U.S. pre-eminence in higher education.

"Education and Competitiveness: The End of an American Century?" will be held on Tuesday, July 26, from 3:30-5:30 p.m., in the Wisconsin Idea Room (Room 159) of the Education Building on Bascom Hill. Sponsored by the UW-Madison Division of International Studies and School of Education, the program is free and open to the public.

"This is an important topic, not just for higher education, but for the future of the U.S. economy and the U.S. role in the world," says Gilles Bousquet, dean of UW-Madison's Division of International Studies and vice provost for globalization.

University of Wisconsin: UHS seeks $23.5 million in public health funding
July 18, 2011
The Wisconsin Clearinghouse for Prevention Resources, a unit of University Health Services (UHS) at UW–Madison, has submitted a grant application to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for $4.7 million a year in public health funding over five years to combat chronic disease in Wisconsin.

The application, to the CDC’s Community Transformation Grant program, seeks funding for prevention initiatives against obesity and tobacco use and exposure, which are risk factors for serious chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer. If awarded, the funds would be distributed to local community-based coalitions and other public health partners throughout the state.

Public health advocates expressed concern last week when Secretary of Health Services Dennis Smith would not commit to providing a required letter from the state Department of Health Services in support of the grant application. Without such a letter from the state, the application cannot be considered complete and might have been ineligible for consideration.

University Health Services received the letter from DHS last week.

Indiana University: Geology journal addresses global water sustainability
July 18, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Water, water, everywhere, but not enough to drink -- at least not where it's needed. That's the dilemma that Indiana University geochemist Chen Zhu and colleagues explore in the current issue of Elements, a peer-reviewed publication sponsored by 16 geological societies.

Zhu serves as guest editor of the special issue on global water sustainability, along with Eric H. Oelkers of the University of Toulouse in France and Janet Hering of EAWAG, a Swiss research institute. In the lead article, "Water: Is There a Global Crisis?" they examine what seems to be a paradox:

The Earth's renewable water resources are 10 times as much as required by the demands of the current population. Yet an estimated 1 billion people lack safe drinking water, and poor water quality and management are responsible for more than 1.5 million deaths per year. While there is excess water in some parts of the globe, other areas face severe shortages or water that is ruined by pollution.

"Is there really a water crisis? In a sense yes; our current water policy is unstable and unsustainable," the editors write. "Yet, in contrast to non-renewable resources such as petroleum, we will not run out of water. The solution to this global water crisis is improved management of this valuable resource."

Purdue University: Purdue economists report on causes of high commodity prices
July 19, 2011

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Growing demand for corn to use in biofuels and for soybeans to help feed a booming Chinese economy are among key forces driving commodity prices higher this year, according to a report by three Purdue agricultural economists.

A weak U.S. dollar, high oil prices, declining grain supplies and poor harvests in 2010 also contributed, they wrote in the report, which predicts that high prices will continue beyond the 2011 crop year.

The economists – Phil Abbott, Chris Hurt and Wally Tyner – detailed their findings in "What's Driving Food Prices in 2011," commissioned by Farm Foundation, NFP, and released Tuesday (July 19). Costs of commodities influence retail food prices as do general inflationary pressures such as transportation, packaging and food processing.

Purdue University: Insect expert: Watch for hornworms, other garden pests
July 19, 2011

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Now that the weather is getting warmer, gardeners should be on the lookout for hornworms and other garden pests, says a Purdue Extension insect specialist.

Tomato and tobacco hornworms are the caterpillars of two large moths that fly in June. Easily identified by their protruding "horn," hornworms grow to four inches long and can destroy foliage and eat on the green fruit, Rick Foster said.

Both species of hornworms also feed on peppers, eggplants and potatoes. Removing them by hand is the best solution for most home gardeners, he said.

"Most of the time there aren't that many of them and they move very slow, so they are easy to pick up," Foster said. "Oftentimes people are nervous because they think the horn is a stinger, but it's just a diversion for predators."

Purdue University: European corn borer numbers up this year
July 19, 2011

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Reports of European corn borer damage have increased this year, but a Purdue Extension entomologist says there is little cause for alarm.

European corn borers devastated fields in the 1990s, but the development of a genetically modified hybrid called Bt-corn greatly reduced the pest's numbers. There have been very few reports of European corn borer in recent years, said Christian Krupke.

While there have been more sightings of corn borer damage in non-Bt-corn, he said the reason for that increase is uncertain and probably stems from environmental conditions.

"This is more of a curiosity than anything to be concerned about as levels are still considerably lower than in the past," Krupke said. "There is no evidence that the European corn borer has resistance to the Bt protein."

Sustainability news from Michigan's research universities for the week ending July 23, 2011

I'm running a week behind, as I have had three linkspams nearly ready since Saturday night. In a way, I think that's because they're victims of their own success, as there is just so much sustainability news these days. That written, here are the stories from last week with minimal commentary.

General Sustainability

Michigan State University: Convincing farmers to grow biofuel crops may be difficult
July 21, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 calls for increasing cellulosic ethanol production to 16 billion gallons by 2022. But persuading farmers to start growing biomass crops to produce this biofuel may prove challenging, according to two new studies by Michigan State University scientists.

In the first study, researchers calculated how many more acres of corn and wheat farmers planted after prices for those crops increased dramatically from 2006 to 2009. This allowed them to estimate how many acres of biomass crops farmers might plant on land that is currently fallow.

To meet the mandated levels, about 71 million acres of biomass crops are needed. In 2011, biomass crops covered so little land that the U.S. Department of Agriculture created a pilot program to encourage farmers to plant 50,000 acres – far less than what is required.

"We looked at the nation’s top 10 crops that already have consistent, recognized markets – and found that even when prices went up 65 percent, farmers only expanded production by about 2 percent," said Scott Swinton, professor of agricultural, food and resource economics who is also an AgBioResearch scientist and affiliated with the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center.
Yeah, but nearly all the increase in corn production for the past six years has been for biofuels, so things might not be as grim as the researchers think.

University of Michigan: New entrepreneurship master's degree leverages know-how from two top schools
July 21, 2011
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Two top-ranked University of Michigan schools are teaming up to establish a unique professional master's degree in entrepreneurship.

The U-M Board of Regents today approved a proposal by the College of Engineering and the Stephen M. Ross School of Business to offer a joint program that specializes in training students to turn ideas into inventions and inventions into successful businesses.

Pending approval by the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan in October, the program will accept its first students to start in fall 2012.

Michigan State University: 22nd annual Viticulture Day takes place July 27
July 19, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. – The 22nd annual Viticulture Field Day, which brings grape enthusiasts and experts together, will start at 9 a.m. July 27 at the Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center.

The Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center, located in Benton Harbor, is part of Michigan State University AgBioResearch. MSU AgBioResearch has on-campus facilities and 14 outlying field stations located across Michigan that support the work of more than 400 scientists in six colleges at MSU: Agriculture and Natural Resources, Communication Arts and Sciences, Engineering, Natural Science, Social Science and Veterinary Medicine.

Researchers at the center investigate breeding practices for fruits and vegetables and do a variety of evaluations. But on Viticulture Field Day, it’s all about the grapes.
Yet more food open houses from MSU.

Friday, July 29, 2011

We could have had the Moon, instead we get Afghanistan

In the spirit of a picture is worth 1000 words, I present the following.

Full sized original, along with explanatory text at The Pain Comics

Hat/tip to hrhqod1 on LiveJournal, who got it from jwz.

After the seeing the above, then rereading The end of an era: last space shuttle mission and Science and society for the week ending July 16, 2011, I'm tempted to drink heavily. Instead, I'll post my standard rant about Afghanistan.
I used to play a game called Pax Brittanica, which simulated world conditions from 1880-1916. In that game, Afghanistan was a region that was 1) most likely to revolt, 2) a real pain to conquer, and 3) cost more to govern than could ever be extracted from it. Furthermore, should anyone ever be dumb enough to actually invade it, the mere act of occupying the country would be enough to give at least one major power, if not two, cause to declare war. In the games I played, no one ever messed with the place.

If a friggin' game can figure that out, why can't people do so in the real world? Yeah, I know, Osama bin Ladin and the Taliban. Still, the above wisdom should have been enough to convince people to get in, get the job done, and get out.

I still stand by this piece of wisdom I gained by being a gamer geek.

Allow me this rant on an anti-tax meme

One of the favorite anti-tax memes that conservatives use is that "the government thinks it knows better how to spend money than individuals/the people do." I think that meme has it exactly backwards. First, the government in a democratically elected government is the people. Second, what government is doing when it spends is paying salaries of people and contracts to businesses, who then pay it to people. Those people now have more money to spend than they did before. As a result, government spending gives most people more power to make decisions over how they spend their money that they got from the government.

There is one exception to the above. Progressive taxation in support of government spending shows that the government thinks it knows better how to invest money than the wealthiest Americans for the greater good. The justification for keeping the tax rates low on the wealthiest Americans is that they will use that money to create jobs. They generally don't. Instead of hiring people for their own businesses, they use that money to blow speculative bubbles, whether in stocks, bonds, commodities, or real estate. Yes, those bubbles may create jobs while they're inflating, but they destroy jobs when they pop.

The last pair of bubbles was especially pernicious, as it first inflated people's home values then, as they started to collapse, leaving Americans owing more than their assets were worth, inflated commodities, making food and energy cost more just when Americans could no longer withdraw money from the "home ATM." Both of those bubbles harmed people financially even before the panic in the stock market and contraction of the economy threw people out of work. Now we're left with vacant houses, people who can't sell their houses to move to where there are jobs, and a government that has to borrow a trillion dollars a year to maintain the spending it's already doing to pay people the money they need to make more decisions with what is now their own income.

So, I think raising taxes, particularly on the wealthiest 2%, is a good idea. They're not doing much useful with that money other than trying to increase their own wealth by blowing asset bubbles. What the economy needs is demand, and the other 98% of Americans will gladly provide that demand if they have money to spend. Paying them that money shows that the government has faith that individuals do know how to spend their own money!


Thursday, July 28, 2011

What motivates Americans to act

I figured out something a while ago and posted it in a comment to a Huffington Post article on Dancing with the Stars. “America is quite clear about its screwed up priorities­. My experience has convinced me that the surest way to get Americans to act is to mess with their entertainm­ent." Google says my insight wasn't original. In a letter preserved in a blog post copy of a Paul Krugman New York Times article,# Paul Box, Alice Springs, Australia observed, "Mess with people's health care or retirement and they get fatalistic. Mess with their entertainment or Internet access, and you've got war!"

In other words, someone is going to have to mess with the circuses of "bread and circuses" to arouse Americans. Who knows. That might actually happen.

*That was in 2007. I swear that I never saw it before and came up with my opinion independently. Second!

Why do Tea Partiers hate high-speed rail?

In the first Silly Sustainability Saturday, I quoted an article from the St. Petersburg Times: Tea party members tackle a new issue: manatees.
Everybody knows what the tea party members oppose. High taxes. Big government. Obama's health care plan. High-speed rail.
That same article was reposted to Oh No They Didn't Political on LiveJournal. LJ user cecilia_ weasley started a thread by asking "why would Tea Partiers be opposed to high-speed rail. I gave a slightly smart-aleck response, "After all, haven't they read "Atlas Shrugged"?  It's all about railroads!" To which cecilia_weasley replied:
I haven't read that yet, I barely could read The Fountainhead. (ugh) But seriously, why would anyone oppose developing infrastructure? Making it easier for people to get from A to B? IDGI Americans, pls to help me.
I finally have an answer for her, but LiveJournal is under a DDoS attack and I can't post there right now, so I'll post a link and extract here.

Alternet: Why Do Conservatives Hate High-Speed Rail? 5 Reasons Right-Wingers Are Sabotaging Public Transportation Projects
In addition to busting unions and gutting voting rights, Tea Party governors are refusing federal funding for high-speed rail. What do they have against it?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Her day in court

Yesterday, July 26th, was the key day in court for two women whose sustainability-related legal plights I've been following, Julie Bass and Raquel Nelson. Both of them received about the best legal outcomes that one could reasonably expect given how things looked the day before; all charges against Julie Bass were dismissed and Raquel Nelson will not serve any jail time and may get a new trial. All of us should consider these small victories for sustainability.

Each of these women deserve their own posts, which I promise to do later. Right now, I'll just salute both of these women for swimming against the stream of government using the criminal justice system to enforce anti-sustainability standards of behavior.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I haven't forgotten about Troy's library

It's been two months since I last posted about the plight of libraries in metro Detroit, and even longer since I posted specifically about Troy's library. This is somewhat ironic, considering the advice I gave you.
Stay tuned. I'm sure there will be lots more on this issue between now and August.
I was right. Since the election is a week from today, the campaigns for and against the millage are heating up.

I'll start with this video, which was posted to Keep Troy Strong by Sharon.

Troy Library needs you. Vote Yes August 2nd.

This millage question is the first one where I've seen commericials, such as the one I embedded here. It's also the first library millage where I found out that there will be a televised debate.
Representatives on both sides of the debate surrounding a proposed millage to fund the Troy Public Library will have a chance to make their case this week during a televised meeting.

The meeting, which is being presented by Community Media Network TV and The Oakland Press, is scheduled to air at 7 p.m. Wednesday, will be held at the station's studio, 1230 Souter Blvd. and is open to the public. Viewers will be permitted to call in with questions at 248-589-7778.
If you live in Comcast's service area in southeast Oakland County, you can watch the debate on channel 18 on Comcast cable. If you don't or, like me, you do but don't have Comcast, you can watch it online at Community Media Network TV.

Still more from the article on Troy Patch.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A petition against the criminalization of walking

Last night, I read the headline When design kills: The criminalization of walking over at Grist. I thought that it looked interesting, but I had Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Shuttle era over and new moon for Pluto edition) to get ready to post about midnight, so I didn't get around to reading it last night. This morning, I read the following in my email from
A.J. Nelson was just four years old when he was killed in a hit-and-run by an intoxicated driver in Atlanta. Now his own mother, Raquel Nelson -- who was also hit by the car while trying to save her son -- faces up to three years in prison for A.J.'s death.

Raquel and her three children got off a bus and -- with several other passengers -- attempted to cross a five-lane highway to get to her apartment across the street. Standing at the median, little A.J. reportedly saw someone else jaywalk and ran out into the street to follow. Raquel ran out after him to stop him. But it was too late. Both Raquel and A.J. were hit by a vehicle, and A.J. died in the hospital a few hours later.

The driver, who admitted having a few beers and pain medication that afternoon, spent just six months in jail. This Tuesday, a judge will sentence Raquel Nelson to serve up to 36 months in jail for the death of her own son.
Though the stop itself was directly across the street from Raquel's apartment where she got off the bus, the closest crosswalk was nearly a mile away. After a long day out in Atlanta, and a missed transfer, Raquel crossed the street with other passengers on the bus, taking the most direct route home.

Raquel was prosecuted for "vehicular homicide" and other charges because she and A.J. didn't use a crosswalk to walk home. Unfortunately, she is not the first grieving mother to be prosecuted for the hit-and-run death of her child in Atlanta. The same prosecutor who convicted Raquel for her son's death also convicted another Atlanta mother whose daughter was killed in a hit-and-run while attempting to cross the street.
I wondered if this email was related to the Grist article. It is.

Weekly Roundup for July 17th through 23rd, 2011

After a record-breaking week, things were bound to slow down and they did. I posted 12 entries, readers made five comments, and the blog received 783 page views, down from 14 posts, 13 comments, and 1577 page views last week. Even so, I count it as a good week, as it was on par with the week before with eleven posts, five comments, and 832 page views of the week before. If nothing else, page views remained well above the average of 560 per week for all of May and June. Besides, Saturday saw the 10,000th page view in this history of this blog and on July 20th the number of monthly page views exceeded 3,000 for the first time ever. People are reading me, so I'm happy.


Most of my posts counted as Swim posts this week, although they weren't quite the ones I had in mind this time last week. To begin with, I counted Weekly Roundup for July 10th through 16th, 2011 as a Swim post, as a good chunk of the opening described my swimming against the stream of spam that flows into any blog with traffic. Bloody Vikings! I continued pursuing the Swim angle in my followup to Silly Sustainability Saturday: Carmageddon, Tea Partiers against manatees, and Butterbeer, Cyclists, subway rider, and rollerblader all beat jet during Carmageddon involved the advocates of sustainable transportation as well as a blogger about California Highways swimming against the stream of conventional wisdom about traffic. I also included the peaceful yet entertaining cosplaying protesters of In Chile, superheroes dance against austerity as people swimming against the tide of austerity sweeping the planet.

In a way, the local stories I covered could also be considered swimming against the tide, sometimes unsuccessfully. The demise of Borders Books, which I wrote about in Borders Books 1971-2011 and The funeral for Borders Books begins chronicled the end of my favorite booksellers to remain in business after two decades of swimming against the tide of their competitors and their own poor business decisions. The same could be said about my coverage of the heat wave in both Hot enough for you? and Still hot enough for you?, which described how people, animals, and the power grid were trying to beat the heat and sometimes failing. Some attempts actually involved swimming pools, turning Swim from metaphor to reality.

Finally, even my compilations of sustainability news items could be considered Swim posts. I explicitly labeled Sustainability news from Michigan's research universities for the week ending July 16, 2011 and Sustainability news from midwestern research universities for the week ending July 16, 2011 as such because I was too tired to comment on each item and it was an effort even to post them. I didn't make that claim for Sustainability in unexpected places: archeology 2, but I didn't comment on the individual items there, either. The heat was getting to me, too.

On the other hand, I was able to make comments on both Science and society for the week ending July 16, 2011 and Silly Sustainability Saturday: Boobs and Haboobs. In the first, I voiced my frustration with people making pro-austerity and anti-sustainability decisions; I was the one swimming against the stream there. In the second, I pointed out how the people who are frustrating me are themselves swimming against reality. I have confidence that reality will win, eventually.

That's it for last week. As for this week, I already have at least one post a day planned. There are three nearly completed linkspams already saved to another file, as well as the notes for the same four Swim posts that I had on tap last week, along with an article about Detroit a reader posted on my Facebook wall that I've already promised to cover. That doesn't even cover anything else I might write about, such as Julie Bass's court date on Tuesday. As I keep writing, I don't have to worry about finding something to write about the rest of the month. Blogging about sustainability in metro Detroit means never running out of material!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Silly Sustainability Saturday: Boobs and Haboobs

I had the following idea last Saturday.
I've collected a handful of really goofy stories with sustainability and food angles this week that deserve their own post instead of being buried in part three of a sustainability news linkspam, so I'm introducing what might become a regular feature here. Besides, I like the alliteration of the title.
After a week of generally downbeat sustainability stories with few upbeat ones, I decided to keep this going. We all could use a laugh, especially at the expense of the enemies of sustainability.

This week, the subject is the irrational response of climate change deniers to obvious signs of climate change.

For starters, here's a humorous take on a pair of climate change denying governors, Rick Perry of Texas and Mary Fallin of Oklahoma praying for rain, courtesy of Nonnie 9999 at Hysterical Raisins.

To the tune of Who’ll Stop the Rain, written by John Fogerty, as performed by Creedence Clearwater Revival:
A natural disaster, drives a lot of folks insane,
They drop to their knees faster, yeah, that old trick again,
The rainman down in Georgia, ex-Governor Perdue,
In aught 7, he looked to heaven, not one drop of dew.

Down in Oklahoma, the land is mighty dry,
You don’t need a diploma, to try and figure why,
It hasn’t rained in ages, at least last time I checked,
So Mary’s sayin’, please start prayin’, let’s genuflect.

Meanwhile, down in Texas, the drought is everywhere,
So the governor is prayin’, (when not grooming his hair,)
It’s a good thing Little Ricky, has a hotline to the Lord,
Don’t knuckle under, pray for thunder, rain’s our reward.
G-d may be telling Rick Perry to run for president but He is not setting him straight on climate change.

Speaking of G-d, here is the latest from someone who doesn't claim that G-d speaks to him, but does advertises himself as having "talent on loan from G-d," courtesy of Think Progress.

Still hot enough for you?

Follow-up to Hot enough for you? All videos from WXYZ on YouTube.

Three people are now being said to have died as a result of the heat wave.

In the clip, reporter Mary Conway not only describes the most recent of the three deaths from heat here in Detroit, but also that every hospital she contacted had heat-related admissions. That's no surprise to me, as I've blogged about heat being a health problem before. Remember this?

The funeral for Borders Books begins

I had this to say in Borders Books 1971-2011.
Sigh. I think my wife and I will go to the Birmingham Borders on Friday for a going out of business sale.
We didn't leave the house yesterday because of the heat, but lots of people did. WXYZ has the story from Borders flagship store in Ann Arbor.

Borders has begun liquidating their inventory as they go out of business.

Watching this segment really hits home. This store is where I spent more than a decade hanging out, browsing, drinking coffee, and buying books. That it will soon close permanently makes me grieve.

I'm not the only one grieving. I posted an obituary at Journal Fen, and got ten comments that agreed that this was a demise worth mourning.

For an even better obituary, read Goodbye, My Love: The Death of My First Real Job by Ferrett Steinmetz, who blogs as theferrett. He worked at Borders when things started to go south, but very few people noticed at the time. His perspective is that all of the things that bothered him about the company finally did it in. He has links to his other essays on what went wrong at Borders. The one I most recommend is this one, where he compares the causes of Borders decline and collapse with the lack of vision he thinks ails the United States. It's very perceptive and very discouraging.

Sustainability in unexpected places: archeology 2

In my overnight post on Science and society, I wrote:
There will be a part four, which will be the second in a series that began with Sustainability in unexpected places: archeology 1. Yes, I really did run into that many archeology articles with a sustainability slant in one week.
Without any further ado, it's time for the linkspam.

General Sustainability

Archeology News Network on Blogspot: Ethiopian lake reveals history of African droughts
Posted by TANN 4:49 PM
A new survey of Lake Tana in Ethiopia – the source of the Blue Nile – suggests that drought may have contributed to the demise of the Egyptian Old Kingdom, around 4200 years ago.

A team led by the University of Aberystwyth used seismic surveys and sediment cores to work out how the lake's water levels has varied over the past 17,000 years and linked this to evidence for global climate change.

Understanding how and why rainfall patterns change is particularly important for sub-Saharan Africa, where prolonged droughts have such serious social and economic consequences.

Science and society for the week ending July 16, 2011

Here are the leftovers from my linkspam source--two stories about anti-science decisions by politicians where they are using austerity as a weapon against sustainability, two articles about how one particular anti-science politician responds to a sustainability issue instead of science, then two stories about the science behind the mentality of people who would make such decisions. As you can probably figure out, I'm not in a mood to be nice today.

First, the anti-science decisions, which tie into The end of an era: last space shuttle mission.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Sustainability news from midwestern research universities for the week ending July 16, 2011

If you read this and think you're seeing repeats from Sustainability news from Michigan's research universities for the week ending July 16, 2011, you are. Two of the studies I cited yesterday had authors from both Michigan State University and University of Wisconsin. See if you can tell which ones they are.

Again, very little commentary today, as I'm swimming against the stream of the heat, my own exhaustion, and lots of other work that I need to attend to.

General Sustainability

University of Wisconsin: Climate change reducing ocean's carbon dioxide uptake
by Jill Sakai
July 13, 2011

How deep is the ocean’s capacity to buffer against climate change?

As one of the planet’s largest single carbon absorbers, the ocean takes up roughly one-third of all human carbon emissions, reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide and its associated global changes.

But whether the ocean can continue mopping up human-produced carbon at the same rate is still up in the air. Previous studies on the topic have yielded conflicting results, says University of Wisconsin-Madison assistant professor Galen McKinley.

In a new analysis published online July 10 in Nature Geoscience, McKinley and her colleagues identify a likely source of many of those inconsistencies and provide some of the first observational evidence that climate change is negatively impacting the ocean carbon sink.

“The ocean is taking up less carbon because of the warming caused by the carbon in the atmosphere,” says McKinley, an assistant professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences and a member of the Center for Climatic Research in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.

Purdue University: Grain production not keeping up with demand, economist says
July 14, 2011

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Grain crops are being gobbled up faster than farmers can grow them, and that could portend trouble down the road if production doesn't catch up, said a Purdue University agricultural economist.

There have been two major demand surges in the past five years, including the rising use of corn to produce ethanol and China's purchases of soybeans, Chris Hurt said. The former has been driven by government biofuels mandates and high oil prices, while the latter is the product of China's growing food demand brought on by rapidly increasing incomes that have enabled the Chinese people to buy more food.

"These greater levels of usage have placed a strain on the agricultural production system, resulting in low inventories that leave little room for any production shortfalls," Hurt said. "Producers certainly have responded to try to meet those demands, but what we've seen is that demand has really outpaced the ability of the world to supply."

Inventories of corn and soybeans are near "bare minimums" in the United States, Hurt said, with wheat stocks in better shape.
"Fifty-nine percent of all the growth in corn use in the entire world over the last five years has been in a category where ethanol would be placed: industrial use," he said. "Here in the United States over the last five years 100 percent of the increase in corn usage is for ethanol, representing 2.5 billion bushels of corn."

About 27 percent of the U.S. corn crop is used for ethanol, compared to 10 percent in 2005, Hurt estimated. All told, 16 million additional acres of corn from the 2010 crop was required to produce ethanol versus 2005.

Purdue University: High feed costs and increased exports lead to rising pork prices
July 12, 2011

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Pork prices are on the rise as international exports increase and high feed costs are passed on to consumers, said a Purdue Extension agricultural economist.

Retail prices this year are averaging a record $3.35 per pound, up 14 percent from $2.93 per pound in early 2010.

Increases in exports to South Korea, Japan, Russia and China have led to stronger demand for U.S. pork, said Chris Hurt. Meat designated for export comprised 22 percent of all U.S. pork in production this spring, and he said that is leaving less for U.S. consumers.

"While it now appears pork production will rise about 1 percent this year, the large sales to foreign customers mean tight supplies here at home," Hurt said.

Purdue University: Purdue researcher travels to China to promote EcoPartnership, sustainability
July 11, 2011

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue earth and atmospheric sciences professor Timothy Filley has been awarded a Chinese Academy of Sciences Visiting Professorship for Senior International Scientists, marking the university's first activity under a new Purdue-China EcoPartnership.

Filley will spend the next three months at the CAS Institute for Applied Ecology in Shenyang, China, promoting scientific and educational collaborations that address issues in the earth sciences. Specifically, the research projects will focus on the human impacts to terrestrial ecosystems and their influence on global change issues related to soil and water use.

"My goal is to link Purdue to research conducted at long-term field experiments in northeast China and Inner Mongolia," Filley said. "Of particular interest is how soil organic matter responds to stresses such as invasive species, grassland and forest fires, and excess nitrogen addition from a variety of sources including fertilizers, and the burning of fossil fuels."

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hot enough for you?

First, Next Media Animation for the global perspective.

The US is going through a prolonged heatwave that has blanketed the eastern half of the country. Although the heatwave hit the South and Mid-west the hardest, the hot weather is moving towards the East Coast in the coming days.

As people in the affected areas turn on their air conditioners, the nation's power grid is coming under strain. This summer is a hot one not just for the US, but also in other corners of the globe.

Beijing recently hit 105F, nearing records. A Stanford study says heatwaves could become common in the US in the next 30 years due to global warming.

But more and more Americans are becoming skeptical.
Now the local one from WXYZ-TV.

Today's forecast

Any local newscast will find human interest stories for an event like this. The first is at least relevant to this blog, as it could be considered a biodiversity story--keeping animals cool at the zoo.

Zookeepers try to help the animals beat the heat at the Detroit Zoo.

But what about the people?

Action News finds the coldest place in Detroit during this heat wave.

Yeah, one could expect a story like this in any heat wave.

It's not all human interest stories. Remember the first video pointing out that this heat wave was straining the power grid? The electricity went out last night in Ferndale.

Equipment problems are causing power problems in Ferndale.

This caused me some inconvenience, as I drove through the town expecting to get some take-out for my wife. I ended up driving to Troy instead. Neither my car nor the planet needed the extra miles on my car.

On top of all that, the heat wave coincided with austerity news and not in a good way.

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano says they may have to close Detroit's only waterpark to balance the budget.

The timing really couldn't be worse.

Finally everyone, stay cool!

Sustainability news from Michigan's research universities for the week ending July 16, 2011

What did I promise my readers?
I already have enough material for three complete linkspams, so watch for those later this week beginning with part one, sustainability news from Michigan's research universities, later tonight. I also have notes for at least four more Swim entries, not counting any new developments in Oak Park's war on Julie Bass's plants and animals.
"Tomorrow" was Monday. It's now Thursday. It's time for part one of the linkspam.

Very little commentary today, as I'm swimming against the stream of the heat, my own exhaustion, and lots of other work that I need to attend to.

General Sustainability

University of Michigan: World Population Day: Will 7 billion people create a crisis?
July 11, 2011
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—World population will reach 7 billion this year, prompting new concerns about whether the world will soon face a major population crisis.

"In spite of 50 years of the fastest population growth on record, the world has done remarkably well in producing enough food and reducing poverty," said University of Michigan economist David Lam.

Lam is a professor of economics and a research professor at the U-M Institute for Social Research. He delivered the presidential address, titled "How the World Survived the Population Bomb: Lessons from 50 Years of Exceptional Demographic History," at the annual meeting of the Population Association of America earlier this year.

In 1968, when Paul Ehrlich's book, "The Population Bomb," triggered alarm about the impact of a rapidly growing world population, growth rates were about 2 percent and world population doubled in the 39 years between 1960 and 1999.

According to Lam, that is something that never happened before and will never happen again.

University of Michigan: U-M will launch Planet Blue Ambassador program this fall
July 12, 2011
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Students won't be the only ones in the classroom this fall, as a unique pilot program involving University of Michigan students and staff kicks off as part of the university's commitment to sustainability.

Through a collaboration involving the Graham Sustainability Institute, University Housing, the Office of Campus Sustainability, the Voices of the Staff Environmental Stewardship Team and the Student Sustainability Initiative, a new seminar-based program will provide the necessary skills and training for "Planet Blue Ambassadors," while exploring similarities and differences between student and staff experiences. Planet Blue Ambassadors will model and teach sustainability practices and serve as "eco-reps" to the U-M community. The ultimate program goal is to create a culture of sustainability across all U-M units.

"This is an opportunity to connect students from diverse academic backgrounds with members of the U-M faculty and staff by providing an action-based learning experience," said Mike Shriberg, education director for the Graham Institute and a lecturer in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA). "The primary goal is to teach best practices so that students and staff can encourage environmentally responsible behaviors both in the residence halls and in organizational units throughout campus."

The beauty and peacefulness of the University of Michigan's Diag derive in large part from its trees. Many were planted as long ago as the Civil War, some just last week. Here's a glimpse at a spot we love through the generations.

Norm Lownds, curator of the Michigan 4-H Children's Garden, talks about the different types of interactivity that happen in the garden.
Michigan State University: MSU to host youth garden symposium
July 14, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University will host the 19th annual National Children and Youth Garden Symposium July 21-23.

The conference, which is sponsored by the American Horticultural Society, includes a number of keynote speakers and about 50 educational lectures, workshops and learning stations.

The educational sessions include:

"From Schoolyard to Backyard"
"Helpful Hints from Horticultural Therapy"
"Green Corps: Sustainable Youth and Urban Agriculture"
"Digging Into Worm Composting"
"Butterfly Gardening Using Native Plants"

Michigan State University: MSU’s Mott Group to host six FoodCorps members
July 14, 2011
Thanks to a recent grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service, the C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems at Michigan State University will help increase vulnerable children's knowledge of, engagement with and access to healthy food.

The C.S. Mott Group will aid six of Michigan's FoodCorps members in conducting nutrition education, building and tending school gardens and expanding farm-to-cafeteria sourcing of healthy food at the Michigan Land Use Institute, YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids, Food System Economic Partnership and the Crim Fitness Foundation.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

In Chile, superheroes dance against austerity

Video accompanies The Daily Telegraph's article Chile superheroes dance for education reform
Hundreds of caped avengers dance in downtown Santiago, as part of a demonstration for education changes.

After being bummed by Borders going out of business, I could use something like the above to cheer me up. Not only is it a demonstration by young people against austerity (the students want lower tuition and cheaper bus passes), something we've seen from Cairo to London, it's a creative and fun way to attract attention and get the point across. In fact, the students in Chile have been particularly creative, as the BBC video about this story shows, as they also staged a kissing protest. The BBC video, in fact, gives a lot more context than the one above, but I couldn't find an embed code for it, so The Telegraph wins.

As for how the story is being covered in the U.S., I present the lede from NBC 9 News in Colorado.
Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman demonstrated for education reform in Chile Monday night.
I saw more than just those the big three from DC Comics. I also recognized Huntress, Sailor Moon, and Mario from the Mario Brothers video games. It was a true geek riot.

I salute the Chilean students, who are swimming against the stream while flying their geek flag high!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Borders Books 1971-2011

WTNH on YouTube: On Thursday, Borders will ask a judge to begin liquidation of the company.
Reuters has even more details.
Borders Group Inc, the second-largest U.S. bookstore chain, said it has canceled an upcoming bankruptcy auction and will close its doors for good.

The company said in a statement Monday it was unable to find a buyer willing to keep it in operation and will sell itself to a group of liquidators led by Hilco Merchant Resources.

Borders' roughly 400 remaining stores will close, and nearly 11,000 jobs will be lost, according to the company.

"We are saddened by this development," Borders President Mike Edwards said in the statement. "We were all working hard toward a different outcome, but the headwinds we have been facing for quite some time ... have brought us to where we are now."
As someone who lived in Ann Arbor from 1989 to 1999 and hung out in Ann Arbor regularly until earlier this year, spending much of that time in the Ann Arbor flagship store, I find this very sad for me personally, as you can see by my previous two posts on the subject at my LiveJournal.

As someone who blogs about sustainability, including sustainable business and a just society, I find it distressing, if for no other reason that it was a Michigan company. I don't like seeing any of those go under.

The worst part of this? I'll let Schuyler Carroll, a bankruptcy attorney at Perkins Coie LLP, explain.
Carroll said the most significant loss associated with Borders' closing is that of jobs.

"It's one more knife in an economy that really doesn't need that," he said. "And for people who may be living on the edge right now and may not be able to quickly find a new job, they may not do very well."
Neither 11,000 lost jobs nor 400 empty large buildings will be good for the economies of the places where Borders currently still has stores. Just the scramble to fill the retail spaces will be ugly, as Royal Oak is finding out as the city is trying to replace a vacant auto dealership with a supermarket--and that is an example where there is a replacement. What happens if there isn't one?

Finally, this is not good news for John McCain Barnes and Noble.
For all its innovations on the digital side, Borders' main retail competitor, Barnes & Noble, remains in its own difficult straits, Carroll said.

The company put itself up for sale in August amid years of declining print book sales, saying its shares were undervalued. It is examining a $1 billion takeover offer made in May by John Malone's Liberty Media Corp.

David Strasser, an analyst at Janney Capital Markets, said liquidating Borders could make Barnes & Noble more valuable.

"This is perhaps an opportunity for a higher negotiated bid via Liberty or an entrance of another bidder," Strasser said last week in a note to clients.

But Carroll isn't so sure.

"Barnes & Noble is having its own problems," Carroll said. "I don't think one less store down the street is going to solve them."
The news didn't even help, as the company's stock dropped more than $4.00 today before finally recovering enough to close down $-1.34 (-0.63%).

About the only silver lining is that some of Borders' stores might be picked up by Barnes and Noble.
Barnes & Noble was thought to be interested in buying a handful of Borders stores after Glenn said at a hearing last week that the company had voiced some interest in select Borders locations.

Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch said in February that certain Borders stores appeared attractive to the company, which operates more than 700 stores.

Borders' statement did not address whether Barnes & Noble had made an offer, and a Barnes & Noble spokeswoman declined to comment.
Sigh. I think my wife and I will go to the Birmingham Borders on Friday for a going out of business sale.

R.I.P. Borders, although I don't think that P will stand for peace, but instead for pieces.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cyclists, subway rider, and rollerblader all beat jet during Carmageddon

Remember me popping popcorn on Saturday?
It's not all bad news for the planet. As USA Today also reported, a bicycle club decided to challenge Jet Blue to a race.
Will JetBlue's special "Carmegeddon flights" between Burbank and Long Beach really help Los Angelinos get across town faster during the city's fear 405 freeway shutdown?

That may be hard to judge, but a group of L.A.-area bicyclists plans to put the airline's crosstown flights to the test in a "bike vs. airplane" race between the airports.
I just watched the end of Rachel Maddow's show, and she bet $1 on the cyclists "For the Schwinn." I would, too.

As for JetBlue, they didn't miss a beat.
[JetBlue spokeswoman Allison] Steinberg says "we're thrilled that the Los Angeles Cyclists want to race us from Burbank to Long Beach."

And, she adds: "If they're too tired to ride back home, bikes fly free with us for the month of July in celebration of Tour de France. Enthusiasts can even kick back in our comfy leather seats and watch live coverage of the 2011 Tour de France in-flight."
Score one for JetBlue for PR, even if the planet loses.

Finally, the cyclists promise to "fight fair."
For the details, says: "All riders will depart from the same location, the Burbank Airport, at the same time, and be required to follow all traffic laws."
This will be a hoot.
Slate reported that the race went even better for the planet than I expected.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Weekly Roundup for July 10th through 16th, 2011

This past week was the busiest so far at Crazy Eddie's Motie News, whether one measured it in terms of posts (14), page views (1577), or comments (13). This topped last week, where the comparable stats were eleven posts, 832 page views, and only five comments, itself a very good week. For comparison, this blog averaged 560 views/week during all of May and June, 486 views/week for April, May, and June, its first three full months, and 488 views/week the week before last. As I mentioned in Boosting the signal about Oak Park's "War on Veggies", I thank the readers of Oak Park Hates Veggies for making this possible, with 369 referrals last month, at least 216 of which came last week alone. This puts Julie Bass's blog in third place as the source of views for this blog throughout its history so far, behind only Kunstler's blog, where I have been promoting my blog every week since my first post here, and Google, which just happens to own Blogspot. Again, thank you, and keep reading!


This past week also saw another milestone--my first spam comments. I know a blog hasn't arrived until it gets enough traffic to make it a worthwhile target for spammers.That's the good news. The bad news is that I should be careful what I wish for.
Honestly, I'd like more comments. I could even deal with a couple of trolls, as I'm not above trolling my own comments sections.
Trolls I don't mind, as I can hold my own against them. Spammers are another matter. From July 13th:
This blog achieved a milestone today. It received its first spam comment. However, it's not such a milestone that it was worth saving. The spam was canned.
Now, July 16th:
This blog has arrived. I've gone from no spam comments to not one, but two spam comments in one week. I have advice for you. If you want to promote your blog or a relevant news story, fine. If you want to advertise for a commercial enterprise not germane to the topic of this blog (and education isn't really it), your comment will be hidden. Bye!
I don't make any money off this blog, so no one else gets to, either!

Enough of my swimming against the stream of spam--on to the week's posts in review.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Oak Park's "War on Veggies" is now an election issue and other news


There have been more, mostly good, developments since my last update. For starters, I was wondering when this would happen.

Candidate for Oak Park Mayor Marian Meisner McClellan's campaign website.
"Oak Park is going through a very difficult time with record numbers of foreclosures, property values sinking, and crime an all too often occurrence and threat. Devoting scarce public safety resources to prosecuting a vegetable gardener does not reflect our needs.

Sadly, when Oak Park residents hear crime, they think of theft, arson, hate crimes, and burglary - not vegetable gardens. We need city leadership to focus on jobs, fighting crime, and building strong and safe neighborhoods."

--Marian Meisner McClellan, July 12, 2011
Three days later, she met with Julie Bass and her husband. I'll let Julie describe the meeting.
my husband and i met this afternoon with a woman who will be running for mayor (against incumbent gerald naftaly) in oak park, michigan.

she is sooooooooooo sweet, but she’s also smart and down-to-earth and personable and easy to talk to.
even the police officers in oak park are on the side of this woman, so i decided to check her out.

we emailed her and asked her if we could sit down and talk to her and hear some of her ideas. and she emailed us back!

unlike the current oak park officials, who won’t even return phone calls, she got right back to us. now i know she is not mayor yet, and maybe if she had a city to run she would have less time for her constituents, but i don’t get that feeling from her. she seemed, via email and then in person, like a very genuine person.
i think more people should contact her and hear what she has to say. i’m not saying you should like her because i like her; i’m saying that if you meet her, i think you will like her all on your own
I'm really liking this development; it's good for both Julie and Marian M. McClellan and bad for the current Mayor, who is ultimately responsible for this mess.

Julie had more good news to report.
thanks to you, we currently have enough money to cover litigation costs. if things get more ugly and it looks like we will have to do more, i will post again to let you know. but for now, please don’t send any more donations. we don’t want you to be sending too much money ;)

thank you all really seriously for the tremendous outpouring of encouragement and support- you are what is getting us through this difficult time.

Finally, Julie has her own summary of the situation so far. Please read.

That's it for this week in Oak Park's "War on Veggies."

Focus on China in this week's CoDominion post

I'm serious about this.
The CoDominion's preparations for sustainability march on, so it's time for an update. From now on, whenever I get enough stories to fill out all sections, I'll post a compilation.
Even though I have only one article and one video, I still managed to cover economy, society, and environment.

Inderscience Publishers via China's competitive advantage
July 5, 2011
Research from Jack McCann of Lincoln Memorial University, in Tennessee, suggests that China could become the dominant economic power within a few years if it exploits the competitive advantages it is creating politically, culturally, legally and economically.

Writing in the current issue of the International Journal of Sustainable Strategic Management, Jack McCann suggests that China's business and political leaders have long worked to build strong relationships with developing countries. However, it is strengthening of its global political presence that is closely aligned with economic expansion, which could lead to a sustainable dominant position in the world.

The Chinese Communist Party has governed China for the past 55 years and remains secure in its position as the sole political party in China. Despite its seeming inability to respond with ease to changes in Chinese society, the Party has nevertheless witnessed an average annual growth of about 10% for nearly two decades and unique stability during the current world economic crises. Indeed, China's merchandise trade has been growing at about 14%, three times faster than world trade, making China the third largest economy as of 2008.
This isn't at all about cooperation between the U.S. and China, but it is about how China has built itself up to the position where it could actually be taken seriously as a partner to the U.S., including my conceit about it replacing the Soviet Union in a real world version of The CoDominion.

Next, the Chinese work on a biodiversity issue that is also a matter of national prestige.

NTDTV on YouTube: China Begins Panda Census

Expect both of these in a full post on The CoDominion in the future.

Silly Sustainability Saturday: Carmageddon, Tea Partiers against manatees, and Butterbeer

I've collected a handful of really goofy stories with sustainability and food angles this week that deserve their own post instead of being buried in part three of a sustainability news linkspam, so I'm introducing what might become a regular feature here. Besides, I like the alliteration of the title.

First up, Carmageddon.

Los Angeles is set for chaos this weekend as a busy stretch of Highway 405 is getting widened. The event could displace as many as 500,000 motorists.

It's such a serious event it's been dubbed Carmageddon.

Celebs with big twitter followings have been asked to help get the word out and minimize confusion. Jet blue is offering a cure for Carmageddon that is as convenient as it is planet-unfriendly: $4 tickets from Burbank to Long Beach.

Carmageddon will only last for the weekend. But even after the 405 reopens, Angelinos might still find bad traffic a fact of life.
$4 plane fares from Burbank to Long Beach and back? I'll say that's planet-unfriendly! Unfortunately, it was a very successful marketing stunt, as USA Today described yesterday.
The Los Angeles Times says that "in less than four hours, JetBlue Airways sold out all" of the special flights. The Press-Telegram of Long Beach has an even quicker estimate, writing that JetBlue's Carmageddon flights "sold out within two hours of the airline's announcement."
I lived in Los Angeles until 1989, when I moved to Michigan. It's stories like this that make me glad I don't live there anymore. As I tell my students, "there is a reason the place is called La La Land and it's not just because the initials are L.A."

It's not all bad news for the planet. As USA Today also reported, a bicycle club decided to challenge Jet Blue to a race.
Will JetBlue's special "Carmegeddon flights" between Burbank and Long Beach really help Los Angelinos get across town faster during the city's fear 405 freeway shutdown?

That may be hard to judge, but a group of L.A.-area bicyclists plans to put the airline's crosstown flights to the test in a "bike vs. airplane" race between the airports.
I just watched the end of Rachel Maddow's show, and she bet $1 on the cyclists "For the Schwinn." I would, too.

As for JetBlue, they didn't miss a beat.
[JetBlue spokeswoman Allison] Steinberg says "we're thrilled that the Los Angeles Cyclists want to race us from Burbank to Long Beach."

And, she adds: "If they're too tired to ride back home, bikes fly free with us for the month of July in celebration of Tour de France. Enthusiasts can even kick back in our comfy leather seats and watch live coverage of the 2011 Tour de France in-flight."
Score one for JetBlue for PR, even if the planet loses.

Finally, the cyclists promise to "fight fair."
For the details, says: "All riders will depart from the same location, the Burbank Airport, at the same time, and be required to follow all traffic laws."
This will be a hoot.

Now for a news item that would be hilarious, albeit unintentionally, if it weren't for the fact that the political movement responsible has real power.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Boosting the signal about Oak Park's "War on Veggies"


In addition to my posts about the travails of Julie Bass here on Crazy Eddie's Motie News, I've been blogging about it elsewhere, beginning with posts to my Dreamwidth and my LiveJournal. I've also posted it to ontd_political on Dreamwidth, unfunnybusiness on JournalFen, and peakoil_prep and ontd_political twice on LiveJournal. The results have been very satisfying.

For starters, those posts have received lots of comments. The winner so far has been the first post on ontd_political on LJ, Michigan Woman could go to jail for planting vegetable garden, which prompted 126 comments. Next is the unfunnybusiness post, Woman in Oak Park, Michigan, could go to jail up to 93 days for planting a garden, with 39 comments. The followup to ontd_political, Update: Michigan woman no longer going to jail for her garden but now in trouble for her dogs, has 21 comments and counting. The mirrored posts on my LJ currently have nine comments and their counterparts on Dreamwidth have six. In contrast, I have a grand total of eight comments on the same posts so far here on Crazy Eddie's Motie News.

This mirrors the situation with the rest of the Swim posts here on Crazy Eddie's Motie News, which have a grand total of three comments on the non-Julie Bass posts, two on the five posts about Kunstler and one on the post about Elaine Meinel Supkis, two once I respond. In contrast, the LiveJournal mirror of James Howard Kunstler swims against the stream on gender role equality, too alone received 13 comments, which I pointed out in Follow up to women in Kunstler's fiction. Honestly, I'd like more comments. I could even deal with a couple of trolls, as I'm not above trolling my own comments sections.

On the other hand, I have been getting readers from the signal boosting posts, with 108 views from JournalFen and 69 from ontd_political on LJ during the past week, handily beating out what I'm getting from Facebook, just 16 referrals. Even the hits coming from my own LJ, nine so far this week, are beating out what came in from Twitter, which is not even in the top ten sources. Facebook and Twitter may be the big boys on the blog, but they aren't the traffic drivers people think they are. Google, on the other hand, is my friend, with 176 hits. The big winner turns out to be Julie's own blog, which referred 296 readers in one week. Thank you, all of you coming here from Oak Park Hates Veggies!

Just the same, I've had nine days in a row and 11 days out of the last 12 with more than 100 hits, so I have no room to complain. On that note, welcome new readers, and keep the page views coming!

Happy Bastille Day!

At the start of the month, I mentioned the following.
I began July by wishing Detroit's neighbors across the river Happy Canada Day! It's the first of three patriotic holidays I celebrate on my blogs during the month of July, so expect greetings for July 4th and 14th as well.
I followed through with Happy 4th of July from James Howard Kunstler's Tea Party! I just realized that I almost missed Bastille Day. Almost? Yes, because it's still Bastille Day in Tahiti at the time I post this. So, for an appropriate Bastille Day greeting, I give you all the following, care of Tahiti Tourism's YouTube channel.

The 14th of July, on the Champs Elysées, the Haka was performed by the Pacific battalion.