Wednesday, February 29, 2012 article on the Michigan primary

As I just wrote:
As for my analysis of last night's primary, stay tuned. I'll link to and post an excerpt to an article I just started writing for
The article is posted. Here is the link and lede paragraph.

Romney wins Michigan and Washtenaw County but splits delegates with Santorum
Washtenaw County Elections 2010 Examiner
For the order of finish of the top four Republican candidates, their vote percentages, and the splitting of the delegates between the top two candidates, Washtenaw County mirrored the results of the state of Michigan as a whole. On the other hand, the turnout, percentage of the vote cast in the Democratic primary, and order of the lower ranked candidates on the Republican ballot differed significantly from the rest of the state and displayed Washtenaw County's distinctive take on politics. Elsewhere in the state, Democrats crossing over to vote in the Republican primary may have had an effect on the result in at least one Congressional district.
For the rest of the article, surf over to My blog here isn't monetized, but is.

As for anything I left out of the article, note that I assign part of the responsibility for Santorum's splitting the delegates between the Republicans in the Michigan legislature, who came up with the redistricting plan that moved Calhoun County out of the 7th District and replaced it with Monroe County. That worked to protect my former representative Tim Walberg from a challenge by my other former representative Mark Schauer, but it also made the district more friendly to Santorum. Without that slick move, Romney would have won that district and its two delegates. The rest I give to Democrats crossing over to vote in the Republican primary, although the clearest example involves Democrats voting for Ron Paul, not for Rick Santorum. Sorry, Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos, Operation Hilarity wasn't as effective as you thought it was, despite your bragging. Even so, the video is hilarious.

In other news, one of my New Year's resolutions was to resume writing for As you can see, I finally got around to it.

Romney wins and the elephants depart for Ohio

WOOD-TV 8 on YouTube has the summary.

Romney wins Michigan primary, called it a "big win."

WXYZ-TV has the full speeches for both Romney and Santorum if you wish to watch them. I won't inflict either of them upon you by embedding them, especially since my wife and I got fed up with Santorum's and turned off the TV after about five minutes.

As for my analysis of last night's primary, stay tuned. I'll link to and post an excerpt to an article I just started writing for Yeah, I'll out myself, but a lot of you know who I am anyway.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Newt Gingrich on Volts and gun racks

First, Newt in Georgia, where he's hating on sustainability by making fun of the Volt.

That wasn't just a one-time remark. Here he is in Oklahoma, repeating the line that "you can't put a gun rack in a Volt" along with his call for $2.50/gallon gas. His supporters think this line is a winner, as his own superPAC put the video on their own YouTube channel.

President Obama has already taken care of debunking Gingrich's call for cheap gas, but what about it being impossible to put a gun rack in a Volt? Yes, you can.

Any questions?

Monday, February 27, 2012

LOL, Foster Friess=Foster's Freeze

I'm so glad nonnie9999 at Hysterical Raisins is back!

Full-sized original at Brainless Friess on Hysterical Raisins.

Here's a properly formatted version of my comment to nonnie9999's post:
Welcome back! To thank you for your return, I’ll let you in on an inside joke only people from California would know. When I first heard Friess’s name, I thought “this has to be a joke; who the hell is named after an ice cream stand?” Yes, there is a fast food chain specializing in soft serve ice cream in California called Foster’s Freeze. Even better, it used to be called Foster’s *Old Fashioned* Freeze. Here’s the link to the Wikipedia page. You can’t make this stuff up!
Whenever I hear the name of Santorum's sugar daddy major superPAC donor, I don't see him, I see these images instead:

Put the two names together, and the result is this:

Full-sized original at Winnie Toons.

Now you know why there were people in Bill Maher's studio audience snickering at the man's name week before last. They (and I) weren't the only ones giggling at the similarity. So were Dennis Miller and commenters at Crooks & Liars, Democratic Underground, Washington Monthly, and Huffington Post--and that's just from the first page of Google results! As for the best comment of the bunch, I give that honor to Paul the Sax Guy at Crooks & Liars:
"I knew Foster's Freeze, Foster's Freeze was an employer, and he, sir is no Foster's Freeze."
As Karoli at Crooks & Liars said, "Poifect!"

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sustainability-related films at the 2012 Oscars

At the very end of Sustainability-related news from Reuters for 2/23, I included the following excerpt and comment about the Oscars.
Michael Moore champions Oscar documentary makers
By Jordan Riefe
LOS ANGELES | Thu Feb 23, 2012 5:48pm EST
(Reuters) - Director Michael Moore championed non-fiction filmmakers on Wednesday night at a pre-Oscar event honoring nominees for best documentaries, attributing a growing appetite for the art form to a public starved for the truth.

The often controversial director, who won an Oscar for gun control movie "Bowling for Columbine" and scored the highest-grossing documentary of all-time with anti-war film "Fahrenheit 9/11," was hosting a symposium at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences featuring nominees for best documentary features and short subjects.

"We've been living in a time where people have been lied to a lot," Moore told Reuters. "People are tired of it and they want the truth, and documentaries represent the truth."
Feature film documentaries nominated for this year's Oscars include, "Hell and Back Again" by Danfung Dennis, "If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front" by Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman, "Pina" by Wim Wenders, "Undefeated" by TJ Martin and Dan Lindsay, and "Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory" by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky
I don't like the ELF, as I think they're too extreme and their tactics counterproductive, but their story should be told.
Here's the trailer for the movie from Point of View on YouTube.

The PBS page for the movie is here and the full description is here. While I disapprove of the ELF's methods--they really are criminals--I'm astounded that they were the subjects of the largest domestic terrorism investigation U.S. history. In terms of suspects and total property damage, I can believe it. In terms of other ways of measuring it, I'd have to be convinced.

"If a Tree Falls" isn't the only documentary with a sustainability theme nominated tonight. There is also "The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossum," which has been nominated for the Best Documentary Short Subject. Here is its trailer from the film's own YouTube channel.

The film's description at the (ABC/Disney) page for the Oscars is here. It turns out that this isn't director Lucy Walker's first foray into sustainability-related documentaries. She directed the Oscar-winning documentary feature Waste Land. Here is its trailer.

I don't know if I'll be rooting for "If a Tree Falls" to win its category, but I'm more optimistic about "The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom" based on the director's track record.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sustainability-related news from Reuters for 2/23


I built the core of Gingrich pledges $2.50 gas; President Obama hits back from a Reuters article that I originally posted as part of a comment to Overnight News Digest on Daily Kos. Here are the rest of the sustainability-related articles from that comment. Note that most of them are heavily slanted to economy and society, especially through the lens of politics.

Gingrich pledges $2.50 gas; President Obama hits back

As I should have expected, rising gas prices have become a hot campaign issue again. Yes, Michele Bachmann promised $2 gas last summer, which was roundly criticized, but the issue didn't go away when she dropped out. Newt Gingrich, who has been demagoguing against Agenda 21 and beating up on sustainable living practices for months, has now taken up the mantle of the fossil fool candidate from the departed Bachmann.

From the Associated Press on YouTube:

Gingrich is playing fast and loose with his statistics, as he failed to mention that gasoline went well over $4/gallon during the summer of 2008 during the term of George W. Bush. Tsk, tsk, but I don't expect any better from Newt. I do expect better from our journalists, I found it. The hard-headed money people at the Wall Street Journal point out how patently ridiculous Gingrich's stance is.

Journalists aren't the only ones to point out the silliness of Gingrich's pledge. Our politicians are as well, and the best response comes from the very top, as shown in these two videos from Brad "climatebrad" Johnson of Think Progress.

Reuters has more on this speech.
President Barack Obama hit back on Thursday at election-year Republican criticism of his energy policies, offering a staunch defense of his attempts to wean Americans off foreign oil and saying there is no "silver bullet" for high gasoline prices.

Obama sought to deflect growing Republican attacks over rising prices at the pump, blaming recent increases on a mix of factors beyond his control, including tensions with Iran, hot demand from China, India and other emerging economies, and Wall Street speculators taking advantage of the uncertainty.
"It's the easiest thing in the world (to) make phony election-year promises about lower gas prices," Obama said, offering his most comprehensive rebuttal yet of the intensifying Republican criticism.

"What's harder is to make a serious, sustained commitment to tackle a problem that may not be solved in one year or one term or even one decade," he said.
"You can bet that since it's an election year, they're already dusting off their three-point plans for $2 gas," Obama said. "I'll save you the suspense: Step one is drill, step two is drill and step three is keep drilling."
As President Obama said, what the Republicans are promising is not a strategy, it's a bumper sticker. Bumper sticker slogans aren't enough to solve our problems.

Finally, here's the embed of the complete speech from the White House's YouTube channel. It's about more than just energy, but also about manufacturing and STEM education, two other priorities of the Obama Adminstration.

I love a president who really likes the idea of sustainable development packaged as making America competitive!

Finally, if the full 23 minutes of the University of Miami address is too long, the President's weekly address has all the highlights boiled down to under five minutes.

Above crossposted to Daily Kos.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Lou Dobbs thinks "The Lorax" and "The Secret World of Arrietty" are liberal propaganda

Time to be a good environmentalist and recycle.
The Hollywood Reporter via MSNBC: FOX's Lou Dobbs attacks 'Lorax' and 'Arrietty' as left-wing brainwashing
During his Tuesday night show, Dobbs dubbed Disney’s "Arrietty" and Universal’s "Lorax" “insidious nonsense from Hollywood,” then he announced: “Hollywood is once again trying to indoctrinate our children.”

"Arrietty," about four-inch people who “borrow” what they need from normal-sized humans, encourages class envy and redistribution of wealth, according to Dobbs, while "Lorax" is just another example of environmental radicalism.

“So, where have we all heard this before?” Dobbs asks after showing a clip from each of the two films.

Then he answers himself: “Occupy Wall Street forever trying to pit the makers against the takers and President Obama repeating that everyone should pay their fair share.”
It's Obama's fault! Never mind that "The Lorax" is from 1973 and "The Borrowers" is from 1952, as Keith Olbermann pointed out. Bonus snarking from Time.
In the case of "The Lorax," Lou Dobbs must really believe green is the new red. Just to tick Dobbs off some more, here is the trailer for "The Lorax," which definitely is a cautionary tale about overexploitation of the world's resources.

Winter has returned

After a couple of false starts, it looks metro Detroit is getting a respectably severe winter storm. As the Detroit Free Press reports, Weather service issues winter storm warning: 5-8 inches of snow from Detroit up through Thumb.
The National Weather Service this afternoon issued a winter storm warning for southeast Michigan tonight into Friday morning, projecting 5-to-8-inch accumulations in a swath of southeast Michigan stretching from Detroit up through the Thumb and across to Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.
The snow should begin falling between 9 p.m. and midnight tonight, National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Richter said.

“The heaviest will be in the overnight, sometime between midnight and 6 a.m., and it’ll continue to snow lightly through the morning hours,” Richter said. “There will be some impact during the morning commute.”

Totals could be anywhere from four inches around downtown Detroit to double that near Flint, he added. Winds gusting to 30 m.p.h. on Friday may lead to snow blowing and drifting, the Weather Service said.

“It looks like the further south you go, you’ll have a little bit lower amounts,” Richter said. “North-central Oakland County into Flint, you could see some places push 8 inches or so.”
WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids shows the Winter Storm Warning area for all of Michigan, although their segment concentrates on the other side of the state.

Snowy, rainy mix moving in, Bill Steffen said.

This is just a slightly above average storm in a normal winter, but it's the largest one we've had so far. Fortunately, the local road commissions are ready for it, as the Free Press article mentions.
Road crews have been busy today putting down salty brine water on roads as a preemptive strike against icy conditions during the morning commute, Road Commission of Oakland County spokesman Craig Bryson said today.
WXYZ has more about how the local county road commissions are preparing.

Counties prep for winter weather

Yes, everyone is ready, but I'm still glad that I'm on mid-Winter break starting today and don't have to drive into work in the morning. It doesn't look like it would be any fun. Besides, if it's bad enough, the college might be closed anyway.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

WOOD-TV on rising gas prices

When I linked to Gas prices going up again on Facebook yesterday, I alluded to Iran's role in the increase in the prices of oil and gasoline. One of the commenters on Facebook pointed out that I had neglected the actions of speculators. He was right. I was being lazy and just reflecting WXYZ's reporting, which emphasized Iran and the expanding economy, but left out speculation. WOOD-TV's report on the subject, on the other hand, does.

Gasoline prices have never been higher so early in the year.

McClatchy Newspapers via Truth Out have more in Once Again, Speculators Behind Sharply Rising Oil and Gasoline Prices.
While tension over Iran has ratcheted up over the last few months, the price of oil and gasoline has leaped far beyond conventional supply and demand variables. Financial speculators are piling into the market, torquing the Iranian fear factor into ever-higher prices.

"Speculation is now part of the DNA of oil prices. You cannot separate the two anymore. There is no demarcation," said Fadel Gheit, a 30-year veteran of energy markets and an analyst at Oppenheimer & Co. "I still remain convinced oil prices are inflated."
I highly recommend you read the rest of the article.

So, how much is the cost of oil being inflated by speculation right now? The experts interviewed in the article estimate that it could be anywhere from $10-$25 per barrel.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Gas prices going up again

It's been two months since I last blogged about gas prices, so it's time to revisit the subject with help from WXYZ.

Could gas prices rise to $5 a gallon by April?

The answer to the question is no unless one particular event happens. As I wrote last time:
Should Iran actually follow through with this [a blockade of the Strait of Hormuz], especially before they succeed in building nuclear weapons, there will be war and the price of gas will go to $5.00/gallon.

I have my doubts Iran's threats will much beyond saber rattling.
I don't know if Iran is so reckless as to invite the U.S., EU, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and who knows who else to beat up on them. That written, stranger things have happened, such as Manuel Noriega waving a machete on Panamanian television in 1989 and declaring that a state of war existed with the United States. That didn't work out too well for him.
The day after WXYZ posted the video above, the station broadcast and then uploaded the following clip that features a more measured analysis and gives a more reasonable answer to the question posed in the preceding segment.

Gas prices are soaring across the country and they could slam the economy.

As I wrote above, $5 gas by April is not likely. On the other hand, $5 gas by this summer I could believe, especially during high-demand holiday weekends. As for whether those predictions come to pass, that's up to Iran.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

More Paczki Day videos from WXYZ

Because one post wasn't enough.

Happy Paczki Day!

It is Paczki Day!

More Paczki Coverage!

Happy Paczki Day!

WXYZ has the story.

Live at New Palace Bakery in Hamtramck for Fat Tuesday

I already had my Paczki yesterday. No more today. After years of eating them, I can say people aren't kidding when they call the day Fat Tuesday!

Monday, February 20, 2012


Recyclemania 2012 is going on. Here are two stories I included about the competition, one of which I posted in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday on Daily Kos.

Michigan State University is participating in RecycleMania, an annual eight-week recycling competition between more than 600 colleges and universities across the United States. Learn more at
That one didn't make the cut for Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Michigan and Arizona Week 1 edition), although it should have. The next one was posted in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Darwin's Birthday 2012 edition).

Colorado State University: RecycleMania 2012
February 7, 2012
The annual collegiate recycling tournament "RecycleMania" kicks off Feb. 5 and will run through March 31. Colorado State will compete among hundreds of universities and colleges across the country and the world.

RecycleMania is a friendly competition and benchmarking tool for colleges and universities to promote recycling and waste-reduction practices on campus.

Over an 8-week period, schools will report recycling and trash data on a weekly basis, competing in these tournament contests:
  • the highest overall recycling rate (Grand Champion),
  • the largest amount of recyclables per person (Per Capita Classic), and
  • the least amount of trash per capita (Waste Minimization).

Nearly 550 schools from the United States and Canada are signed up for the 2012 competition.
There are community colleges participating. I'll see if I can get the one I teach at to participate next year.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A tale of two macros

The Fantasy.

Detroit Where the Weak are Killed and Eaten

The Reality.

Thanks to Lisa Frame on Facebook, who created the second macro.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Second day of WXYZ on the Michigan Republican Primary

Here are some videos that didn't make it into The GOP Circus returns to town, one because it was posted to WXYZ's YouTube account after the I posted yesterday's entry, one because it wasn't relevant then, and three simply because I missed them the first time. Here they are.

First, some old news, the state of the race three days ago.

Dead heat in GOP race

That was three days ago. The polling situation changed rapidly enough in two days that WXYZ posted a follow-up clip yesterday.

Rick Santorum has a lead in Michigan over Mitt Romney

Someone actually gave this video a dislike rating, which is rare for WXYZ videos on YouTube. Based on the one comment so far, it probably was a Democrat, although one might have expected that it was a Romney supporter.

Santorum may be the front-runner in the polls, but Romney is still being targeted by Democrats for his positions, as expressed in a TV ad and op-ed piece in the Detroit News about the auto bailout.

Speaking of the auto bailout, here's the most recent piece of news to come out about its aftermath.

General Motors Company announced Thursday a net income for the 2011 calendar-year attributable to common stockholders of $7.6 billion.
That came out two days after Romney doubled down on his opposition to the bailout. As Rick Perry would say, oops.

Finally, Rick Santorum gets his time in the spotlight, just like Romney did.

7 Action News reporter Julie Banovic speaks one-on-one with Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum.
If you get bored listening to Frothy, concentrate on his nose and notice that, like the person it belongs to, it turns to the right.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The GOP Circus returns to town

The elephants came to Michigan for a debate last November, which produced one of the epic fails of the campaign so far. However, that was only for one night. The remaining four candidates have returned to Michigan, this time for two weeks until the primary on February 28th. WXYZ on YouTube reports.

GOP Contenders Campaign In Michigan

While the candidates themselves have just arrived, their campaigns have been active here for weeks. Ron Paul's campaign has been canvassing since the middle of January, when I found a flyer from the Michigan campaign chair on my door. Also, Newt Gingrich's campaign was running ads at the beginning of the month. However, those aren't the candidates WXYZ has been covering. Instead, the station is devoting its airtime to the two front-runners, Romney and Santorum. Native son Romney, who grew up in Oakland County, is getting marquee treatment, both from the station and the local GOP establishment. In fact, Governor Snyder endorsed him, as shown in this WXYZ clip.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder endorsed Mitt Romney as he visits Michigan.

Romney even sat down for an interview with WXYZ's Val Clark.

Val Clark talks one on one with Mitt Romney.

Romney may be the native son, but Rick Santorum is the front-runner, so he gets his own segment.

Presidential candidate Rick Santorum appeared in Michigan to campaign.

Looks like The Froth has risen to the top again.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

New nuclear reactors in U.S. finally approved

L.A. Times: First new U.S. nuclear reactors in decades approved
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approves construction and licensing of two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle in Georgia, the first such approval in the U.S. since 1978.
By Ralph Vartabedian and Ian Duncan
February 9, 2012, 10:13 p.m.
Reporting from Los Angeles and Washington—A consortium of utilities in the South won government approval Thursday to construct two new atomic energy reactors at an estimated cost of $14 billion, the strongest signal yet that the three-decade hiatus of nuclear plant construction is finally ending.

Several new projects will test whether new technology and streamlined government licensing can help the industry avoid the economic and safety disasters that have tainted its past, nuclear experts say, though critics condemned the action by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The commission's 4-1 approval of the construction and operating license to expand the capacity of a Georgia nuclear power plant came 11 months after the meltdown at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi facility left a wide swath of radioactive contamination.
I've been expecting this news since spring of 2005. Back then, I could see the beginnings of the price run-up in oil that eventually led to the record $147/barrel in July 2008. Based on who was in power, a couple of Texas oil men (Bush and Cheney), I knew they would push for more conventional energy sources. They'd already started working on expanding oil and gas production, which is already bearing fruit, however poisoned (who do you think approved the regulatory framework that made fracking and Deepwater Horizon possible), but they'd soon start working on building more coal-fired plants (this hasn't worked out too well so far, as a lot of the proposed plants have been disapproved) and eventually nuclear plants. That's what I told my students in Howell that semester. With the approval of these two plants, my prediction is looking better all the time. It only took seven years and another Administration to make it happen.

Above based on a link and excerpt originally posted as part of Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday on Daily Kos.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Science for Valentines Day

Colorado State University: In time for Valentine's Day: Your questions about love, sex, relationships answered by scientists
There's a science to sex, love and relationships, according to a new book published by a CSU psychology professor and her colleagues.
February 13, 2012
Relationship books are dime a dozen, but very few are written from the perspective of researchers using science to answer pressing questions, says Jennifer Harman, an assistant professor of applied social psychology at Colorado State.

Harman was one of 15 university researchers nationwide who wrote chapters of The Science of Relationships: Answers to Your Questions about Dating, Marriage and Family, which is available on Amazon.
The Science of Relationships is based on science unlike most relationship and self-help books, which are opinion-based and written by clinicians, Harman said. In this recently released book, scientists address 40 of the most common questions on such topics as attraction and relationship initiation, love, intimacy and attachment, long-term relationship processes, the dark side of relationships, sex and parenting.
The Science of Relationships is not just a book, it's an entire website devoted to the subject, including an extensive list of recent articles. Since it's Valentines Day, the page has lots of great links, such as the video I embedded at the started of this entry, articles, and images, including the XKCD cartoon I used above. I highly recommend that you readers take a look.

Above based on a link and excerpt originally posted as part of Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday on Daily Kos.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Winter appears to be just visiting

NaBloPoMo February 2012

The day before yesterday, I quoted a Free Press article and added my comment.
The forecast calls for cold temperatures through Monday, said Mosteiko, with two chances for snow as far out as they can measure.

Snowfall is expected overnight between Monday and Tuesday. Overnight Wednesday into Thursday could see levels much like what happened last night. But during the days, said Mosteiko, "it warms back up to above normal." By Wednesday, the high will be 38 degrees.
In other words, it's continuing to be a mild winter, as Staten Island Chuck predicted at the same time that Punxsatawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter. I'm not surprised that both predictions are playing out.
The latest Free Press story on the weather confirms that the prediction from Saturday still holds.
[A]nother little blast of snow is expected to hit metro Detroit overnight, according to the National Weather Service.

Accumulations will likely be about one inch, with the snow starting after midnight, meteorologist Mike Richter said from the agency's office in White Lake Township.

It may be only a brief encounter with winter, with warmer temperatures and the possibility of rain by Thursday, Richter said.
The highs for the next three days will be 36 tomorrow, 40 on Wednesday, and 37 on Thursday. All of those temperatures are above average for this time of year. I'm with Mike Richter on this season's mild winter.
"That’s why I didn’t want to say winter’s here to stay now. It does warm up by Wednesday," Richter said. "We just keep getting little shots here and there, like we did this weekend. We haven’t had a long stretch of cold weather this season. It’s just been one of those weather patterns, we haven’t been able to get it."
Mind you, I'm not complaining. I just hope the summer won't be as much above average as the winter has been.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Happy Darwin Day!

Alternet: Sunday is Darwin Day. How Will You Celebrate It?
February 12 is Darwin's Birthday -- a holiday for the reality-based community
By Glenn Branch
February 10, 2012
Despite the white beard, Charles Darwin isn’t Santa Claus, but like Christmas, Darwin Day comes once a year, and when it comes it brings good cheer. Across the country and around the world, at colleges and universities, schools and libraries, museums and churches, people assemble around February 12 to commemorate the life and work of the British naturalist. But it’s not just about Darwin: it’s about engaging in—and enjoying—public outreach about science, evolution, and the importance of evolution education.

Where are they celebrating? Where aren’t they celebrating! You may not be able to make the trip to Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, to participate in a discussion of life on other planets, or to Perth, Australia, to hear a lecture on “some really odd evolutionary features in tortoises,” but no worries, mate (as they say in Dnepropetrovsk): the Darwin Day website, operated by the International Darwin Day Foundation, maintains a useful registry where you can find a Darwin Day event near you and spread the word about your own.
More at the link, including details about the state of the teaching of evolution in education throughout the nation, as well as suggestions about how to improve it. I hope the readers of Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Darwin's Birthday 2012 edition) on Daily Kos, where I first posted the above link and excerpt, follow through in their home states.

As for how I'm going to celebrate the day, you're looking at it. According to the list of events, there are none here in Michigan. This makes me a sad Panda's Thumb.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Halfway though winter, it finally looks like it

It snowed last night. By my count, it's only the third snowfall totalling more than one inch so far this season. This is both good and bad news, but first I'll let WXYZ-TV report.

Snow Finally Hits In Michigan

The Detroit Free Press has more on the weather and its aftermath.

Michigan police urge drivers to slow down on slick roads as accidents pile up
National Weather Service forecaster Matt Mosteiko said between two and five inches of snow fell around metro Detroit during the night, with much of it falling after midnight Saturday.

Metro airport saw 4.8 inches, while Warren saw 2.5 inches. The snowfall is helping the area catch up to normal levels, he said, as we were about a foot of snow off the mark as of Friday. But for February itself, we're right on track, he said.
I'm due west of Warren, so the 2.5 inch figures looks about right for here. It's probably the heaviest snow we've had so far this winter.
Of course, since this is the first really heavy snowfall of the winter, drivers are having issues.

Michigan State Police are reporting accidents all over metro Detroit's freeways after the overnight snowfall, and are urging drivers to slow down.

"There are too many to name," said an officer in the MSP Detroit dispatch center, who said she was also fielding numerous 911 calls. "People need to reduce speed, especially over bridges."
WXYZ has another report just about driving conditions today.

Drivers Deal With Snowy Roads

I'm glad I'm not driving today.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Two Deep Forest fan videos

Not up for heavy blogging this morning, so instead I leave you all with these two fan-made videos with environmental images and themes using music from Deep Forest. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Worth 1000 words on Santorum

I saw the following at Daily Kos last night.

My response was, "I'm more likely to believe the guy with the hat."

Yes, I like my politics with a science fiction angle, too. Just ask Newt Gingrich.

By the way, my cat didn't like the video. In protest, he stepped all over my keyboard. And you wonder why there are more cat macros than dog macros.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Two Super Bowl ads about Michigan

After reading and watching the controversy over both Chrysler's ad featuring Clint Eastwood and Pete Hoekstra's ad that was made by the same people who created "Demon Sheep" and "I'm not a witch," I thought I should write a post titled "A tale of two ads." It turns out that my Facebook friend Scotty Urb at Michigan Liberal beat me to it.
You've probably seen (or at least heard about) these ads by now, but in case you haven't, click the links below (embedding won't seem to work):
Halftime in America
Debbie SpendItNow
One is a hopeful look at the spirit of Detroit and the spirit of America. The other has embroiled the controversy-prone Hoekstra in yet another bitter controversy.
For more at Michigan Liberal, there's Pete Hoekstra calls Asian-baiting ad a "home run" and Hoekstra ad costs him support from within his own party, as well as the first two items in Links for the commute home. Hoekstra and his advertising people apparently forgot that there are Chinese-American elected officials in Michigan who are Republicans. At least one of them is not happy with him. As Rick Perry would say, "oops."

ETA: The Debbie SpendItNow video has been taken down.  Here's an embed of what I agree is a Racist Pete Hoekstra SuperBowl ad.

With ads like this, no wonder Asian-Americans voted overwhelmingly for Obama.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A moment of science

Keep the following in mind when you read this blog.

I shared the above on my Facebook yesterday, and it received 20 21 likes with two additional people commenting, making it probably the most popular link/image I've posted there yet. It's right behind my most popular status update, which had 21 likes and three other people commenting. I found the response gratifying.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Newt Gingrich and the Republican National Committee demagoguing Agenda 21

While I've blogged before about the grassroots paranoia among Tea Partiers about Agenda 21, this time the movement has moved beyond the grassroots to the highest levels of the Republican Party. As the New York Times reported on Friday, Activists Fight Green Projects, Seeing U.N. Plot. Most of the article reviews the same examples that the Washington Post and The Atlantic have already used. However, it also shows that people higher up than a mere member of the House of Representatives are taking this crackpot idea seriously. In fact, it goes all the way up to the top.
In January, the Republican Party adopted its own resolution against what it called “the destructive and insidious nature” of Agenda 21.
The Republican National Committee resolution, passed without fanfare on Jan. 13, 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.”
Hey, this sounds familiar.
There will be a great battle to preserve the supposed entitlements to suburbia and it will be an epochal act of futility, a huge waste of effort and resources that might have been much better spent in finding new ways to carry on an American civilization.
In the service of defending suburbia, the American public may turn to political maniacs...who promise to allow them to keep their McMansions and their commutes...
That looks even more familiar.
To make the point that anyone who disagrees with him on housing policy is just an elite liberal snob, instead of engaging them on substantive economic policy grounds, Gingrich has taken to mocking people who don’t own a detached single-family home in the suburbs and drive everywhere.

At the National Association of Home Builders, “Rally for Homeownership” in South Carolina, Gingrich said, “Those who, you know, live in high-rise apartment buildings writing for fancy newspapers in the middle of town after they ride the metro, who don’t understand that for most Americans the ability to buy a home, to have their own property, to have a sense of belonging is one of the greatest achievements of their life, and it makes them feel like they are good solid citizens.”
On Friday he reiterated his hatred of people who live a more environmentally efficient lifestyle. Speaking in Las Vegas ahead of the Nevada caucus, a contest he is sure to lose, Gingrich attacked “elites” in Manhattan who live in high rises and “ride the subway.”
If it sounds like Gingrich with all of his hating on mass transit and city life is fully on board with the Agenda 21 bashing, he is.
On the campaign trail, Mr. Gingrich has called Agenda 21 an important issue and has said, “I would explicitly repudiate what Obama has done on Agenda 21.”
Looks like Newt and the RNC are banking on Kunstler's prophesy that the "American people will elect maniacs" who promise people the entitlements of suburbia, including "single family homes, private car ownership, and individual travel choices." If it means stirring up anti-environmental paranoia, that's a feature, not a bug.

Speaking of stirring up anti-environmental paranoia, the Tea Partiers at the grassroots seem to be confused, and their confusion is contagious.
But some local officials argue that the programs that protesters see as part of the conspiracy are entirely created by local governments with the express intent of saving money — the central goal of the Tea Party movement.
Well, that's what the Tea Party says both to itself and to outsiders, but as I've pointed out using Troy Mayor Janice Daniels as an example, the movement isn't really about fiscal issues; it's about social ones, including preserving what they see as the American way of life. It's not a coincidence that Troy at first voted down a transit center, then acted in a penny-wise yet pound-foolish way by approving the transit center with a conventional gas furnace instead of a geothermal heating/cooling system. To top it all off, the public comments after the vote included remarks about Agenda 21. The New York Times article didn't mention Troy as an example, but they should have.

I mentioned that the confusion was contagious.
“The Tea Party people say they want nonpolluted air and clean water and everything we promote and support, but they also say it’s a communist movement,” said Charlotte Moore, a supervisor who voted yes. “I really don’t understand what they want.”
Truth be told, neither do they.  They just don't realize it yet.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A sustainable Super Bowl?

On a day dedicated to excess, spectacle, and American Exceptionalism, is it possible to watch The Big Game and still engage in sustainable behaviors? On their Facebook page, Grist made a modest step by asking its readers:
What sustainable snacks will you be whipping up for your Super Bowl party? Share ideas and recipes!
The responses were not encouraging. Most people mocked the idea of combining sustainable food and the Super Bowl. The most popular comment just thought the entire idea was not worth considering.
F*ck the Super Bowl in all of its excessive entirety. I'm packing some trail mix and going hiking.
SOCRRA, the local recycling facility, skipped asking questions entirely, and just offered advice on their Facebook page.
Don't make Super Bowl Sunday super wasteful! As many people are planning their celebrations for this coming Sunday, consider opportunities to reduce waste. Serve beverages in their recyclable container (aluminum cans, plastic and glass bottles). Reduce the amount of disposable items as much as you can - do you have extra plates, silverware, and cloth napkins as an option? If you must use disposable, look for those with recycled content. Good luck in making it a Super Reduce, Reuse, and Recycling event!
That got a more favorable response, as no one dissed it, four people liked it, and two people, including me, shared it.

Now, what about the event itself? In a story I shared on last night's Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday on Daily Kos, Discovery News has the information.

Super Bowl Tackles Climate Change
Analysis by Tim Wall
Fri Feb 3, 2012
The field won't be the only thing green about Super Bowl XLVI. The NFL has a plan in their playbook to tackle the carbon dioxide emissions caused by energy use at the six major Super Bowl facilities. Renewable energy certificates will pass 15,000 megawatt hours of clean energy to the NFL's environmental receivers.

At the slick new Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis even the lights shining on the New York Giants and New England Patriots will be accounted for by renewable energy certificates provided by Green Mountain Energy Company.

The stadium's namesake, Lucas Oil sells gasoline additives and other automotive products.

But the NFL doesn't want grease stains on their uniforms. They bought carbon credits to intercept the emissions resulting from transporting the Super Bowl teams to the stadium, according to
Click on Read More to see the infographic accompanying the Discovery News article and the relevant part of the NFL press release.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Newt Gingrich hates on mass transit

I knew Gingrich being pro-science wouldn't last. Ben Adler of The Nation has the story.

Newt Gingrich’s New Enemies: Subway Riders
Newt Gingrich has taken phony cultural populism to its logical extreme. Gingrich abandons his supposed free market and small government principles when it comes to federally subsidizing over-consumption of housing. That’s both a biographical fact, in light of his work for Freddie Mac, and a policy position.

To make the point that anyone who disagrees with him on housing policy is just an elite liberal snob, instead of engaging them on substantive economic policy grounds, Gingrich has taken to mocking people who don’t own a detached single-family home in the suburbs and drive everywhere.

At the National Association of Home Builders, “Rally for Homeownership” in South Carolina, Gingrich said, “Those who, you know, live in high-rise apartment buildings writing for fancy newspapers in the middle of town after they ride the metro, who don’t understand that for most Americans the ability to buy a home, to have their own property, to have a sense of belonging is one of the greatest achievements of their life, and it makes them feel like they are good solid citizens.” As Matthew Yglesias wrote in Slate, “it’s telling how swiftly any kind of commitment to free market economics melts away in the face of the identity politics concerns of prosperous older white suburbanites.”
Adler goes on to call Gingrich stupid and ignorant. I don't think that's a fair characterization. Gingrich probably knows the environmental benefits of mass transit and urban living, but he also knows the GOP primary electorate and values what they think more. After all, there is a reason why Ezra Klein and Paul Krugman call him "a stupid person's idea of what a smart person sounds like." This is exactly why I think Yglesias has Gingrich exactly right. Newt and the rest of the GOP represent core interest groups instead of having core ideologies and thus have no respect for their own ideas except as vehicles for promoting the interests of themselves and their supporters.

Gingrich then doubled down on his position.
On Friday he reiterated his hatred of people who live a more environmentally efficient lifestyle. Speaking in Las Vegas ahead of the Nevada caucus, a contest he is sure to lose, Gingrich attacked “elites” in Manhattan who live in high rises and “ride the subway.”
This attracted the attention of Dan Amira of New York Magazine, who posted this screen capture of a tweet repeating Gingrich's words.

Amira then mocked Gingrich in the most scathing terms.
If by "elites," Gingrich means people who can't afford to own cars or take taxis; who don't mind keeping an eye out for rats as they wait God knows how long for a standing-room-only train; who are willing to spend 40 minutes next to a lady with whooping cough while basking in the smell of the semi-conscious homeless man laying all the way at the other end of the car; who have no choice but to put up with panhandlers, gropers, proselytizers, straight-up insane people, crying babies, break-dancing teens, spaghetti fights, garbled announcements, unexplainable delays, unexpected route changes, and the occasional elbow to the kidney, then yes: "Elites" are the ones taking the subway in Manhattan.
Amira's take on Gingrich's hating on New York and subways has been drawing in more eyeballs than any other recent post on New York Magazine's Daily Intel blog. It's also the fifth most commented on article, with 67 responses and counting. Most consisted of simple derision, but a few cut to the heart of what Gingrich was trying to achieve. Boris4 managed to do both.
It doesn't have to make sense. Right wing populism is a fantasy anyway - and Gingrich is its Tolkien.
Mollysgaga translated the motivation.
"Elites" in new GOP-speak are the 20% who were educated at good colleges, and supposedly look down on the culturally inferior 80%. The trick is to create resentment against these amongst the 80% who didn't get much of an education. That way the rich can keep their tax cuts.
GraduatedAmbition was even more terse.B
By "elites", Gingrich means urban whites who aren't Real Americans. Fck him.
Boris4 induced me to respond.
He's also hating on mass transit. Newt has a real talent for hitting multiple targets in one sentence. The record so far was in his comment about poor kids in schools working as janitors. In one sentence, he hit poor people, poverty programs, minorities, unions, public education, and child labor laws. Top that for a cluster bomb of conservatism!
You're a mean one, Newt Gingrinch!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Relative: Yosemite video from Vimeo

If you have ever wondered where my love of the outdoors comes from, just watch the video.

Yosemite HD from Project Yosemite on Vimeo.

io9 has more to say.
If you've ever visited California's Yosemite National Park, then you have an appreciation for how absurdly majestic its scenery is. You also know how difficult it can be to encapsulate that majesty when describing it to others; somehow, adjectives like "breathtaking" don't even begin to describe it.

For years, I've referred to Ansel Adams' iconic photographs of Yosemite when describing the Park to friends who have never been. Now, I have this video to show them, as well. Feast your eyes on Project Yosemite — a time-lapse, HD tribute to some of the most jaw-dropping wilderness on Earth.
I spent at least part of every summer growing up in Yosemite and both my sisters worked there.* I use the park and its features every chance I get in my Geology lectures, including this past Wednesday, when I showed my students the hikers climbing up the back side of Half Dome. One of the scenes in the video shows that. I tell my students that I love Geology, because it's my chance to get paid showing my family vacation photos. I'm only half joking.

*That's the "relative" part for today's post. The brother of one of my ex-girlfriends worked there, too, and knew my sisters. That story, when I tell it, will be filed under "it's a small world."

Driving update for February 2012

Three days ago, I observed and predicted:
I still haven't put another 1000 miles on my car since my last update. That was in September. Look for the next one within a week.
Right now, Yuki the Kia* has 210,999 miles on her odometer, so she'll log 211,000 miles within minutes of my pulling her out of the driveway tomorrow (today when you read this post). Since I know exactly what's going to happen, I may as well go ahead and write the post about it.

My previous update was on September 27, 2011. That was 129 days ago. 1000/129=7.75 miles/day. Expressed as miles/month using 30.5 days/month, it's 236.4 miles/month. That's ridiculously low, and not an average I expect to get again until I start cycling to work two days a week during the summer. What contributed to it were two events I knew about in September, but forgot to account for when I wrote the previous post, along with something that came as an unpleasant surprise.

The known events were my trips to Mexico and New Jersey. I didn't drive at all during the trip to Mexico, not even to the airport (I was lucky enough to get a ride). I did drive some in New Jersey, but that was in my wife's car, which I don't monitor for mileage the way I do my own.

The unexpected event was my shifter cable sticking, which put my car out of commission for a week and a half. I also drove my wife's car then. I made up for one of those missing weeks by driving into work the week before classes started, which I normally wouldn't have done, but I'm still down three weeks of no driving when I'd normally only be down one.

All the same, I'm still doing my part to reduce the number of miles driven by Americans, as shown by the following graph from Calculated Risk.

Folks, that's four years of driving less than the previous peak in December 2007. That's a record, one that will continue to be extended for at least a year. Peak Driving, anyone?

*I still have to explain that name. Some other time.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Groundhog Day 2012 and the climate

The Associated Press has raw footage of the announcement.

As you can see and hear, Punxsutawney Phil (or rather, his human handlers) declared that there will be six more weeks of winter. As you can also see and hear, that was not a popular pronouncement. It's also a contested one, as the Los Angeles Times reported that the other animals observed today predicted an early spring.
From Canada to Staten Island to the tiny town of Dunkirk, N.Y., on the shores of Lake Erie, other groundhogs competing for the title of grand prognosticator offered differing opinions on this Groundhog Day, which marks the midway point of winter. Perhaps they were confused by the unseasonably warm weather across much of the eastern half of the country. The temperature Wednesday at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport hit a record for the day: 64 degrees. That's more than 20 degrees above normal for this time of year.
The number one competitor for Punxsutawney Phil is Staten Island Chuck. What did he predict?

Groundhog Day 2012: Staten Island Chuck predicts early spring
With the aid of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Staten Island's furry prognosticator did not see his shadow this morning in a ceremony at the Staten Island Zoo.

Staten Island Chuck's predicted that milder weather is likely to be with us until spring arrives on the calendar in late March.
Not only is Staten Island Chuck's prediction going to be more popular, I suspect it will be more accurate. The Los Angeles Times relayed the following.
The Staten Island Zoo claims that Chuck has correctly predicted the duration of winter 80% of the time since the 1980s.
Personally, I'm banking on Chuck. After the first significant snowfall coming in late January, there was a second snowstorm that hit over last weekend, which actually dropped more snow, despite getting less hype. Monday's commute was no fun, but Tuesday, the temperature was in the high 50s and the snow all melted. Today, it may as well be mid-March.

Of course, Detroit just finished a wild year in weather as did the country as a whole, so I wouldn't be surprised by anything that came along. For example, I was supposed to be at a rally in Washington D.C. the Saturday before Halloween, but missed it because I went to Mexico. The rally got hit by a freak early ice-storm, which became a blizzard farther north and east. Good thing I went to Mexico instead!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Nablopomo for February: Relative

NaBloPoMo February 2012

It's that time again.
So what is the NaBloPoMo theme of the month?


Families form in hundreds of different ways -- from the brothers and sisters you are born with to the people who become fictive kin as you go through life, our relationships define us and support us. Use the month to not only explore your connections to the obvious relatives -- your aunts, cousins, or grandparents -- but your ancestors, the people who are no longer part of your family, and the ones that you wish were related to you.
So tell us about your siblings. If you can name at least five things about them, it means you have at least five blog posts inside of you. And if you can do five posts, you can certainly expand that and do an extra 25 or so.
That's not really what I had in mind for this blog. If I were using my LiveJournal (not a good idea, as the service is subject to DDoS attacks, which would prevent me from fulfilling my pledge to post every day) or my Dreamwidth (I really don't want to post the name of that blog on a feminist site; I also don't want to rename it), I could do this, as both are personal blogs. Other than talking about what my relatives have done (or not done) in terms of sustainability, broadly interpreted, I think it would be off-topic.

However, these Nablopomo themes always have approved alternative interpretations.
This is also a month to look for connections between two unrelated concepts or objects. It's a month to get subjective, to state opinions, to examine your personal truth.
I do both all the time. I find two things that on the surface appear to be unrelated, but show that they really are. I also have been stating opinions all along. Looks like this topic is just fine for this blog.

As for who will be blogging with me under politics, the blogroll currently shows stay{up}early.
I’m Christina. A Democratic political operative working in and around the Texas Capitol.

I’m an over-zealous texter, a native Austinite and a social media evangelist. I’ve seen every episode of The Golden Girls and not one minute of The Godfather.
That's promising. I hope she can keep up the pace.