Thursday, May 31, 2012

I didn't know Canute was the King of North Carolina

Scientific American: NC Considers Making Sea Level Rise Illegal
These are hard days, people are crazyish, and you just have to soldier on, right? But then it turns out that North Carolina legislators are now tossing around bills that not only protect themselves from concepts that make them uncomfortable, they’re DETERMINING HOW WE MEASURE REALITY.

In a story first discussed by the NC Coastal Federation and given more play May 29 by the News & Observer of Raleigh and its sister paper the Charlotte Observer, a group of legislators from 20 coastal NC counties whose economies will be most affected by rising seas have legislated the words “Nuh-unh!” into the NC Constitution.

Okay, cheap shot alert. Actually all they did was say science is crazy. There is virtually universal agreement among scientists that the sea will probably rise a good meter or more before the end of the century, wreaking havoc in low-lying coastal counties. So the members of the developers’ lobbying group NC-20 say the sea will rise only 8 inches, because … because … well, SHUT UP, that’s because why.

That is, the meter or so of sea level rise predicted for the NC Coastal Resources Commission by a state-appointed board of scientists is extremely inconvenient for counties along the coast. So the NC-20 types have decided that we can escape sea level rise – in North Carolina, anyhow – by making it against the law. Or making MEASURING it against the law, anyhow.
Over at io9's post about this article, I left the following comment.
I'd be tempted to tell them the story of King Canute (Knut), who ordered the tide not to go in, but I doubt it would have the desired effect. Instead, they might take after Xerxes, who ordered the sea be given 300 lashes, fettered, and branded after a boat bridge across the Hellespont was destroyed by a storm.
The difference is that Canute knew full well that the sea wouldn't comply. I don't think these people care whether it does or not.

Sustainability education news from campuses on the campaign trail 2


I concluded the first installment by wishing that "with any luck, this will become a continuing series." The universities whose press releases I included in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Dragon docks with ISS edition) came through, so here's the next edition, featuring sustainability education news from universities in the states of Arkansas, Kentucky, Texas, and Wisconsin.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Remember Ted Cruz?

If you don't, maybe this will refresh your memory.

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

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

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

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

Agenda 21 attempts to abolish "unsustainable" environments, including golf courses, grazing pastures, and paved roads. It hopes to leave mother earth's surface unscratched by mankind. . . . Agenda 21 subverts liberty, our property rights, and our sovereignty.
In other words, Cruz is one of the maniacs promising people can keep their cars, McMansions, and commutes this year.

With the Texas Republican Primary yesterday, Cruz is back in the news.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Detroit's problems as tragedy and farce

First a serious report from WXYZ-TV in Detroit.

Now, the snarky sendup from Next Media Animation.

Originally posted as a comment on Daily Kos. I'd have more to write, but I was up all night reading "The Hunger Games" and have to go to work. Expect more tonight.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Sustainability news from campuses on the campaign trail for the week of the annular eclipse


Just as I noted in Sustainability news from campuses on the campaign trail for Mother's Day Weekend 2012, I'm still running a week behind on this installment of the series. So, without any further ado, here are the sustainbility stories from public universities in Arkansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, Oregon, Texas, and Wisconsin that I included in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Annular Eclipse edition) on Daily Kos except for the ones I already posted in Sustainability education news from campuses on the campaign trail, plus bonus stories from Kentucky, Indiana, and Nebraska that I saved for this edition.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Dragon and ISS dock plus other space and astronomy news of the week

In Space and astronomy stories for the week of the annular eclipse, the story below the jump was about the scrubbed launch of SpaceX's Falcon/Dragon to the International Space Station. This week, that story gets top billing both here and in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Dragon docks with ISS edition) at Daily Kos. Pride of place goes to the Los Angeles Times' article on the event.

NASA astronauts open SpaceX capsule hatch and begin unloading cargo
By W.J. Hennigan
May 26, 2012, 3:36 a.m.
Less than 24 hours after a historic docking, astronauts aboard the International Space Station clambered into SpaceX's unmanned Dragon spacecraft and began unloading supplies that were packed inside.

Wearing oxygen masks as a precaution, the astronauts opened the hatch, slid the door open, and took delivery of the 1,014 pounds of food, water and clothing aboard Dragon.

"Like the smell of a brand new car," said NASA astronaut Don Pettit, after going inside.

Live coverage of the hatch opening, which included some of the first video footage from inside the cone-shaped Dragon, started Saturday shortly before 3 a.m PDT on the Hawthorne company's website and NASA TV.
Speaking of NASA TV...

Enter The Dragon on This Week @NASA

The crew of the International Space Station opened the hatch of the recently berthed SpaceX Dragon capsule, the first commercial craft to fly to the ISS. Also, Venus Transit, Fallen Heroes, Carbon-Sensing Sherpa, and more.
That's not the only video I posted. Here is SpaceX Dragon COTS 3 Rendezvous Grapple Berthing Timelapse. Note: there is no sound with this video.

I wasn't the only diarist at Daily Kos to comment on the occasion yesterday. DarkSyde used the story to headline This week in science: Catch a Dragon by the tail and kindler placed it in a sustainability context by comparing and contrasting Forward vs. Backward: SpaceX vs. Heartland. That latter diary earned a distinction of getting a lot of recs and tips, but no comments. That's the equivalent of a silent standing ovation, a great sign of respect.

Click on "Read more" for the rest of the week's space and astronomy news.

Memorial Day Weather: Beryl, Bud, fires, and heat

In last night's Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Dragon docks with ISS edition) on Daily Kos, I included the following story with my opinion about the prediction.

Houston Chronicle: NOAA issues forecast, calls for ‘near-normal’ Atlantic hurricane season
By Eric Berger
May 24, 2012
This morning NOAA issued its hurricane outlook for the 2012 season, suggesting a near-normal hurricane season is most likely.

Federal hurricane scientists predict:
  • 9-15 Named Storms,
  • 4-8 Hurricanes
  • 1-3 Major Hurricanes

The median number of named storms — that’s tropical storms and hurricanes — that have formed during Atlantic hurricane seasons since 1980 is 12, with 6.5 hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes.

The reasons for the near-normal prediction are pretty straightforward: sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic, in contrast to most recent years, are relatively cool in some regions where tropical storms develop, and there’s the potential for the development of El NiƱo later in the season.
I'd bet on the high side of those predictions, especially for named storms, as we are already on the second storm on both coasts, Bud in the Pacific and Beryl in the Atlantic.

The very next day, Berger noted the unusual early activity in Subtropical Storm Beryl forms: Very rare to have two pre-June storms, which he concluded with:
What is more notable about Beryl is that it’s this season’s second named storm to develop prior to June 1. Alberto formed on May 19 in a similar region.

It joins rare company. There have only been two Atlantic seasons on record in which two tropical storms developed before June 1st. They came in 1887 and 1908.

So it’s been awhile.
Hurricane season officially begins on June 1st, but I'd say Nature has decided that it's been hurricane season for a couple of weeks, regardless of the official pronouncement.

For those of you who want visuals, click on "Read more."

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Sustainability education news from campuses on the campaign trail


Sometimes when I'm preparing a linkspam, a distinct theme emerges connecting many of the week's articles. That's what inspired me to compose U.S.-China EcoPartnerships: The CoDominion plans for sustainability, one of my most read entries, as well as Universities studying and promoting civility in politics, among others. This week's articles from Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Annular Eclipse edition) on Daily Kos just happened to have such a theme--sustainability education projects that get noticed by federal, state, and local government and end up recognized as worthy of financial support or, better yet, actually influence policy. Here are those articles, taken from universities in Kentucky, Nebraska, Oregon, and Wisconsin.*

ThomasNet: College Kids Strut their Green Stuff, Are Awarded $1M in EPA Grants
Author: Michael Lewis
May 16th, 2012
It may not be true that every generation is smarter than the one that came before.

But I think it is. Why? One big reason is that every succeeding generation has access to more knowledge, more technology and more resources than the one before it.

Especially in this age, when the world changes so fast every minute. So one thing I’m always fascinated by is what future environmental leaders are doing while they’re still learning in our schools and universities. There are many bright kids working on making the world more environmentally friendly and trying to come up with innovative solutions to problems many of us don’t even think about.

A good example of this was the recent Environmental Protection Agency’s 8th Annual National Sustainable Design Expo on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
The universities mentioned are Embree-Riddle University (Florida and Arizona), Appalachian State University (North Carolina), Oregon State University, Vanderbilt University (Tennessee), and University of Oklahoma. I found the article through OSU, so they get the credit.

More over the jump.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Student sustainability video festival, part 4: biodiversity

I promised to resume posting this series a couple of weeks ago, so here I continue with the series, here are three videos shown as parts of two student presentations about biodiversity. First, two videos from a presentation about Burmese Pythons, a spectacular example of an invasive species.

Based on findings in a recently published study, pythons in the Everglades are almost certainly responsible for wiping out multiple species in under a decade, and pose a major threat to the ecosystem. Most of them are released pets.

From an episode of "Swamp Wars" this is something we here in South Florida contend with on a daily basis. The Pythons in the Everglades is nothng short of an epidemic. They will and have literally ate anything and everything. Dogs, cats, endangered species.... children and yes, even aligators.
Those were sensationalistic videos, which were exactly what the students wanted.

Next, a video about beaching pilot whales, which served as the attention grabber for a talk about the environmental hazards faced by whales.

Rescuers are desperately trying to save more than 30 whales stranded on a New Zealand beach since Monday. Report by Sam Datta-Paulin.
That was a more serious video about a less sensational issue, but it still got the point across.

Still to come, climate change and the ozone layer.

Sustainability and austerity news from Reuters yesterday


While I figure out something more original to post, here are the sustainability and austerity stories I included in Tonight's top news from Reuters, which I intended to be a replacement edition of Overnight News Digest, but ended up posting as a comment to someone else's edition. As usual, I was able to find lots of stories about the interplay between sustainability and austerity, which I see as the main theme of our times.

General Sustainability

Los Angeles to become largest U.S. city to ban plastic bags
By Mary Slossen
Wed May 23, 2012 6:56pm EDT
(Reuters) - The Los Angeles City Council voted on Wednesday to ban the use of plastic bags in grocery stores, setting the stage to become the largest American city to date to implement such a measure.

The 13-1 vote kicks off a process that will include a four-month environmental review, a second vote to formally adopt an ordinance, and a six-month grace period for the roughly 7,500 grocers within the limits of the second-largest U.S. city.

Smaller grocers will have 12 months to phase out the bags.
This is another story like L.A. Subway on Daily Kos, an encouraging piece of news about my old home town becoming more sustainable. It's also one that I've already used in my environmental science class where one of the projects my students worked on was a life cycle analysis of grocery bags. Ah, serendipity.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A very warm April, 2012, and past 12 months in the U.S. and worldwide

Looks like southeast Michigan may not be alone in having the warmest spring on record. Not only did many cities, Detroit among them, have the warmest March ever, but it was the warmest March on record for the Lower 48. While April was cooler than March, it was still the third warmest April for the U.S. as a whole.
The contiguous United States had a mean temperature of 13.2°C (55.7°F) in April 2012, which was 2.0°C (3.6°F) above the 20th century average, resulting in the third warmest April since national records began in 1895.
It's not just the spring months, either. The year to date has been the warmest ever.
January-April 2012 was the warmest such period on record for the contiguous United States, with an average temperature of 45.4 degrees F, 5.4 degrees F above the long-term average. Twenty-six states, all east of the Rockies, were record warm for the four-month period, and an additional 17 states had temperatures for the period among their ten warmest.
The U.S. Climate Extremes Index (USCEI), an index that tracks the highest and lowest 10 percent of extremes in temperature, precipitation, drought and tropical cyclones across the contiguous U.S., was a record 42 percent during the January-April period, over twice the average value. Extremes in warm daytime temperatures (82 percent) and warm nighttime temperatures (68 percent) covered a large area of the nation, contributing to the record high value.
The record even extends back a full 12 months.
The 12-month period (May 2011-April 2012), which includes several warm periods for the country — second hottest summer, fourth warmest winter, and warmest March — was the warmest consecutive 12-month period for the contiguous United States. Twenty-two states were record warm for the 12-month period, and an additional 19 states were top ten warm. The 12-month running average temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 55.7 degrees F, which is 2.8 degrees F above the 20th century average.
The global temperature picture isn't quite as extreme, but it's bad enough, as April global temperatures are fifth warmest.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Warmest spring in metro Detroit history predicted

Looks like that record warm March led into a record warm spring season.

NOAA: Southeast Michigan on Pace to Shatter Warmest Spring Record
Through May 20th, Detroit and Flint already have the warmest spring on record and Saginaw is third. The warmest eleven days, by the averages, are still yet to go (May 21st to May 31st)! Based on the forecast for the remainder of the month, Detroit, Flint and Saginaw will have daily averages that will easily exceed the lower 50s that the 2012 spring is currently averaging. This will push the average spring temperatures even higher over the next eleven days, shattering the previous record warmest springs especially for Detroit and Flint.
There should be no problem breaking that record. Here is the forecast for Sunday and Memorial Day.
Sunday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 89.

Sunday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 67.

Memorial Day: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 90.

Monday Night: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 66.
At this rate, my fears for this summer might be realized.
Both the anchor on the Weather Channel and I are worried about what this might portend for this summer. I hope nothing, but after last summer, I'm expecting a hot one.
I still am, although one of the years with warm springs listed at the NOAA link above is 1992, which had one of the coldest, rainiest, and cloudiest Julys ever. Of course, that was because of the eruption of Mount Pinatubo the previous winter, and I don't think there's been anything comparable this past year that might have the same effect.

As for the other side of the state, they'll have a hot Memorial Day weekend, too. Here's the latest forecast from WOOD-TV.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sustainability news from campuses on the campaign trail for Mother's Day Weekend 2012


I know I'm a week behind as the corresponding entry using commercial sources was posted almost a week ago and the corresponding space and astronomy entry more than a week ago. Hey, better late than never. Besides, it's yet another example of what I first wrote on this date last year.
Blogging about sustainability in metro Detroit means never running out of material.
How true that has turned out to be!

Without any further ado, here are the sustainability-related posts from universities in the states of Indiana, North Carolina, Oregon, West Virginia, and Wisconsin that I first posted in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Total Recall and Marriage Equality edition) on Daily Kos, beginning with this story that I used to headline the entry.

University of Wisconsin: Important voting information for UW-Madison students
May 10, 2012
Dean of Students Lori Berquam emailed the following information to UW-Madison students Thursday, May 10 in an effort to help students vote in the June 5 recall election:

Dear Students,

As you are aware, Wisconsin's recall election will be held on Tuesday, June 5.

As always, I strongly encourage you to be educated about the candidates and cast a ballot. Recent changes in voting laws, combined with the end of the semester, may require you to plan ahead.
Thank you, Dean Berquam. I have only one thing to add. May the UW's students do their part as important players in the following movie.

I told you all that I cover sustainability with a science fiction slant.

The rest of the news waits over the jump.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Two environmental videos from Accuweather

Here are two videos from Accuweather that I included as part of Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Annular Eclipse edition) on Daily Kos that wouldn't fit in any theme other than sustainability news from commercial sources, but which I think are worthy of reposting. The first explains the paradox of warm summers decreasing sea ice resulting in winters with heavy snow. The second is a retrospective of the eruption of Mount St. Helens. Both of them are videos I plan on using in my classes. In fact, I expect to use it today as the opening of my lecture on volcanism. I'm sure it will get the students' attention.

Accuweather: Less Summer Sea Ice Could Mean More Winter Snow
May 17, 2012

According to a recent study, there is correlation between summer Arctic sea ice cover and winter weather in Central Europe. Valerie Smock has the details.

Accuweather: Weather History: Mount St. Helens Eruption
May 15, 2012

On May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens stunned the U.S. shooting an eruption column 80,000 feet into the atmosphere.
In other news, I mentioned in The Hipcrime Vocab on J. J. Abrams' "Revolution" that I should start blogging about "Hunger Games." I bought the book yesterday afternoon, so expect me to start writing about it soon.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Space and astronomy stories for the week of the annular eclipse

After two Space and astronomy stories entries were so popular that I decided to post another. Besides, the headline story is about an event that happens today. I know from previous experience that posting breaking news about natural events can generate lots of page views. On that note, here are the space and astronomy stories from last night's Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Annular Eclipse edition) on Daily Kos.

This week's featured story comes from Accuweather and io9.

Solar Eclipse This Month!
May 6, 2012

On May 20th, an annular solar eclipse will take place. Andrew Baglini has the details.
Everything you need to know to catch Sunday’s rare "ring of fire" eclipse
By Robert T. Gonzalez
May 18, 2012 1:25 PM
This weekend, the Moon will pass between Earth and the Sun, giving rise to what sky-watchers call an annular eclipse. Also known as a "ring of fire" eclipse (for reasons that the top image should make clear), it's the first annular eclipse to be visible from the continental U.S. in close to 20 years. Here's what you need to know to catch a glimpse.

What is an "annular" eclipse?

Remember the supermoon from a couple weeks back? If you do, you might recall reading that one of the things that made the Moon "super" that night was its proximity to Earth. Because the Moon's orbit is elliptical, there are times throughout the month when it is closer to our planet than others. Two weeks ago, the Moon was at perigee, putting it closer to us than any other point in the month. In contrast, Sunday's Moon will be close to apogee, the point in its orbit at which it is furthest from our planet.

The Moon's distance from us means that its apparent diameter in the sky will be at its smallest for the entire month, so when it passes between the Sun and the Earth on Sunday night, it won't be able to cover the whole sun. As a result, some parts of the country will be able to witness a ring of sunlight like the one pictured up top, a defining characteristic of annular eclipses.
Not all parts of North America will see this event or even most of it. Here in Michigan, the maximum coverage of the sun will happen after sunset. It's almost as bad in Nebraska, as the following press release from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln explains.

Partial solar eclipse and transit of Venus for Lincoln, Nebraska
May 18th, 2012
Lincoln, Neb., — Of two significant astronomical events occurring in the next few weeks, only one will be visible from Lincoln, according to Jack Dunn, coordinator of Mueller Planetarium at the University of Nebraska State Museum.

Lincoln will experience a partial eclipse of the sun on May 20, but the Sun will only be 2 degrees above the horizon when the largest area of the Sun will be covered by the Moon -- which means that most people won't be able to see it. Due to the low probability of seeing anything of the eclipse, Hyde Memorial Observatory in Holmes Park will not open for a viewing of the partial eclipse.

On June 5, however, there will be an opportunity in Lincoln to observe the transit of Venus. When the planet Venus moves across the face of the Sun as seen from Earth, we experience a fairly rare phenomenon. These transits come in pairs, and there was one in 2004. This will be the last transit of Venus to be seen this century. Historically, astronomers used transits to help determine distances to the Sun and the planet. Today, the transit technique is used to discover extra-solar planets--planets around other stars.
Ah, yes, the transit of Venus. I have a video for that, too.

NASA Television: ScienceCasts: The 2012 Transit of Venus
May 17, 2012

It won't happen again until December 2117. On June 5th, 2012, Venus will transit the face of the sun in an event of both historical and observational importance. The best places to watch are in the south Pacific, but travel is not required. The event will also be visible around sunset from the USA.
Those two events weren't the only space news this past week. Join me over the fold for the aborted launch of SpaceX's Falcon/Dragon combination and other news from NASA.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Hipcrime Vocab on J. J. Abrams' "Revolution"

EscapefromWisconsin over at The Hipcrime Vocab notes that people seem to be interested in a Future Imperfect.
They say fiction is a representation of the mood of its consumers. Based on what's coming out, what's on people's minds is disaster and decay. So despite the chirpy prediction that "America's best days are ahead of us" that you're sure to hear ad nauseum from both prequalified political candidates this season, clearly the mood in America is somewhat darker.

After making the shiny, optimistic future of Star Trek, J. J. Abrams has apparently jumped on board the doomer bandwagon.
Here's the promo video for the show.*

After 15 years of darkness, an unlikely group sets out to save the world.
EscapefromWisconsin is onto something here. This video has 6,700,000+ views in five days, enough to make it the most popular recent video in the Entertainment category on YouTube right now, and it's still getting views at the rate of 20,000 every hour.

I think the show looks intriguing, but Escape seems less than impressed.
Their clothes look contemporary. Did J.C. Penney survive the blast?
I suspect he'd have like Hunger Games better. Then again, a search of his blog indicates that he hasn't mentioned it. Maybe I should step in to fill that void.

*ETA: Replaced original trailer with one at TV Function Junction.

Friday, May 18, 2012

A hotel to replace Kroger?

Remember this from last August?
[T]here will not be a Kroger on Main Street in Royal Oak.
Time for plan B. I wonder if Whole Foods is interested in buying a $3.5 million dollar property and complying with Royal Oak's master plan?
Whole Foods has other plans that don't involve Royal Oak, but Plan B has materialized.
A real estate brokerage representing Fresard Investments LP is shopping plans for an eight-story hotel in Royal Oak to the city's Downtown Development Authority to gauge its interest in the project.

Southfield-based CBRE Group Inc. is working with Fresard on plans for the site. Preliminary plans, submitted to the DDA to provide context for a discussion at its Wednesday meeting, call for redevelopment of the former Jim Fresard Pontiac-Buick-GMC auto dealership at 400 N. Main St.

Plans also include a banquet facility and five-story mixed-use development with apartments and retail.
Here's what it looks like.

Full sized version here.

Looks to me like the design has "storefront continuity," which the Kroger didn't have, but the Planning Commission will decide that. As for whether this is an improvement, I'd say yes. I'm sure there will be more traffic in the evening, but I like the idea of making this mixed use. I promise to keep you all posted about developments of this story as I find them out.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sustainability news from commercial sources for Mother's Day Weekend 2012

Following are the sustainbility-related stories I included in Overnight News Digest (Mother's Day fill-in edition) on Daily Kos, along with stories posted in the comments to that diary and the comments to Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Total Recall and Marriage Equality edition). If it weren't for the comments, I'd have had no environmental stories at all from commercial sources; all of those were from universities on the campaign trail, and will show up in a post of their own. Thank you, Magnifico on Daily Kos!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ron Paul rides off into the sunset

Ron Paul suspended his campaign the day before yesterday. WOOD-TV used that piece of news to begin And then there were two.

This makes for the fourth GOP candidate for whom I've bothered to make a label on this blog to leave the race. In honor of this occasion, I will bid him adieu, just as I did when Gingrich, Santorum, and Cain exited the contest. Join me over the fold for Ron Paul's greatest hits on Crazy Eddie's Motie News.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

L.A. Subway on Daily Kos

Full-sized original here

Every time I see a positive mention of the subway in Los Angeles, I feel a bit proud. As I wrote in Cyclists, subway rider, and rollerblader all beat jet during Carmageddon:
My last job in southern California was as an inspector for paleontological and archeological resources in the first leg of the subway, a provision of the federal money used for the subject. I went down in all of the station excavations between Union Station and MacArthur Park for two years ending in August 1989. Consequently, when anyone mentions L.A.'s subway, I can say that I helped build it.
I'm glad to have done my part to make my old home town more sustainable.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Willard Scissorhands, the Barber of Severe

Full-sized version at DeviantArt

I concluded last night's post about marriage equality with the following observation and promise.
The flip side to this was the story about Mitt Romney's bullying of a high-school classmate. I'll get to that later. Stay tuned.
Thanks for staying tuned. It's later.

I'll start with WXYZ's serious segment about the incident.

Reaction to Obama coming out in favor of marriage equality

This has been an eventful week in the struggle for marriage equality and against homophobia, something I blog about irregularly, but I have written about it here, here, here, here, and here.* As I've written before, "Remember, the social component of sustainability is about promoting a just society. So is the movement described above." I'm sure I'll be blogging about it and other social justice issues between now and the election.

Enough intro. Time to move on to the content.

WOOD-TV has a series of videos detailing the reaction, beginning with the station's report on President Obama's announcement. The segment references the vote against marriage equality in North Carolina.

He said that he supports gay marriage in an interview with ABC.

Now, two videos showing reactions. First, a couple hoping that action follows Obama's words.

That was the pro-Obama reaction. Now a broader spectrum of comments.

WOOD-TV wasn't alone in giving their opinions. WXYZ joined in, too.

Reaction to President's support of gay marriage

As for an educated opinion, I'll let Indiana University's expert on the subject, who I quoted first in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Total Recall and Marriage Equality edition), speak for himself.

Indiana University expert available to comment on President Obama’s position on same-sex marriage
May 9, 2012
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- President Barack Obama told ABC News today that same-sex couples should be able to marry, ending a two-year period in which his views on the issue were said to be "evolving." Brian Powell, Rudy Professor of Sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University Bloomington, is available to comment on the president's statement.

"President Obama's evolving view about same-sex marriage is strikingly similar to Americans' evolving views on the same issue," said Powell, who has conducted extensive research on attitudes toward marriage and family. "Nearly all national surveys indicate that half or slightly more than half of all Americans believe that same-sex couples should have the same marital rights as heterosexual couples.

"This evolution in American views has been rapid," Powell said. "Just 10 years ago, same-sex marriage was a foreign idea to most Americans. Years from now, President Obama's comments from today will be viewed as a critical historical moment in the movement toward marriage equality."
You said it.

The flip side to this was the story about Mitt Romney's bullying of a high-school classmate. I'll get to that later. Stay tuned.

*This last video alone puts the "play" in this post, as it's about same-sex relationships Star Wars: The Old Republic, a video game.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Space and astronomy stories for the week ending May 12, 2012

I enjoyed posting my previous post of space and astronomy stories so much that I decided to continue the series with the articles and videos I included in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Total Recall and Marriage Equality edition) on Daily Kos.

NASA Television on YouTube: Latest Update on New Space Station Crew on This Week @NASA

Activities for new Expedition 31 crewmembers, Soyuz Commander Gennady Padalka, NASA Flight Engineer Joe Acaba and Flight Engineer Sergei Revin include a pre-launch fit check in a Soyuz capsule at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the raising of flags outside the Cosmonaut Hotel crew quarters and launch to the orbiting laboratory to meet up with NASA Astronaut Don Pettit, Cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and Andre Kuipers of the European Space Agency. Also, SpaceX continues its preparations for the planned May 19 launch of the Falcon 9 rocket and unmanned Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station, new findings about the asteroid Vesta by NASA's DAWN spacecraft and more!
NASA Television on YouTube: ScienceCasts: Don't Judge a Moon by its Cover

Superficially, Saturn's moon Phoebe doesn't look much like a planet, but on the inside, the little gray moon has a lot in common with worlds like Earth.
Purdue University: Students honor former astronaut with outdoor sculpture of solar system, hope to inspire others in STEM
May 10, 2012
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – An interactive sculpture of the planetary system, about a football field in length, will crown a new mall at the south end of Purdue's Discovery Park.

Purdue students in a service-learning class designed the sculpture -Visiting Our Solar System, VOSS - and named it in honor of the late Janice Voss, a Purdue alumna who flew on five shuttle missions. Trustees and other Purdue leaders will get their first look at a three-foot high model at 3 p.m. Friday (May 11) on the future mall.

Completion of the mall, between the Hall for Discovery and Learning Research and Terry House west of Martin Jischke Drive, is expected in 2013. VOSS will be added in 2014 with spiral walkways and a model of the sun standing as much as 30 feet in diameter, while Saturn will be 4 feet and Earth 6 inches. Each planet will be lighted and suspended from 6-foot-high curved walls. Jeff Laramore teamed with Tom Fansler of Smock Fansler Construction, both of Indianapolis, to be selected as the artists from 10 entries in a national design contest.
Look for more sustainability stories from last night's Overnight News Digest on Daily Kos, as well as completing the other series still unfinished (two posts each in the retrospective on the first year of this blog as well as the student sustainability video festival) coming up this week. Looks like I'll be busy!

Happy Mother's Day!

Video news coverage of Mother's Day, including the segments promoting consumption (not that this is necessarily a bad thing, as Mothers Day weekend is one of the busiest days for greenhouses and nurseries, which can mean a lot of sustainable gifts; besides, mom deserves recognition), over the jump.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Oil and gas auction in Oakland County and 20 other counties in Michigan

One of my students tipped me off to this story. She asked if I knew anything about it. I told her I had no idea, but since she was going to one of the meetings described below, could she please report back to me about it. Only after that did articles and videos about the subject begin to appear in my news feed. Speaking of which, here they are.

First, an overview from WXYZ on YouTube: Drilling in Oakland County?

Join me over the fold for some background from the Detroit Free Press, which I'm presenting in chronological order. article on Ypsilanti city income tax and other ballot measures

In I was one of 33 voting for President Obama, I added the following to my agenda.
The issue I covered for, the city income tax and millage in Ypsilanti, is headed for defeat. I'll have a story about that result, which has important sustainability implications for Ypsilanti, at tomorrow night.
Well, it's a day later than I expected it to be, but I still managed to beat the 72 hour deadline for it to be news on, so I'm still timely as far as the people who matter.

Ypsilanti millage and tax fail, school bond issue and millage succeed
On Tuesday, voters in the City of Ypsilanti, the Ann Arbor Public School District, and the Clinton Community School District went to the polls to decide how to finance their municipalities' needs. Residents of the City of Ypsilanti defeated proposals to levy a city income tax and millage. People in Ann Arbor and the surrounding communities approved a bond issue to improve technology in their district's schools. Voters in the Clinton Community Schools, which includes a portion of southwestern Washtenaw County, also supported their schools by renewing an operating millage levied on non-homestead property.
While I believe the people over at Stop City Income Tax for the reasons why people voted against the income tax and millage, I don't believe their claims that dire cuts to city services, especially public safety, will not materialize. This is a vote for austerity, and that's not a good thing for a city in a depressed economy.

As for other millage proposals elsewhere in Metro Detroit, the Detroit Free Press has the stories.

Now off to play Star Wars: The Old Republic while this entry auto-posts. See you on the dark side!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Sustainability news from campuses on the 2012 campaign trail: Indiana, North Carolina, and West Virginia


Yesterday, I promised:
I'll have another installment of news from Indiana, North Carolina, and West Virginia tomorrow. I might even throw in news from Wisconsin if I'm ambitious. After all, Wisconsin had their own elections Tuesday, "Total Recall" starring Scott Walker.
I'm not feeling that ambitious, so I'll just stick with the stories I already included in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday. As for Wisconsin stories, I'll probably add them to this Saturday's OND and start posting them next week.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I was one of 33 voting for President Obama

I know I promised to post more news from colleges on the campaign trail, but I decided to pull out this item from the draft and give it an entry of its own.

The Detroit News: About 4,000 Dems hold quiet caucuses in Mich. for Obama
May 5, 2012
Royal Oak— More than 4,000 Democratic faithful caucused throughout the state today to cast their votes for President Barack Obama as their Democratic nominee.

Unlike the Feb. 28 presidential primary in Michigan where GOP candidates aggressively stumped the state, the caucuses were a relatively quiet affair with an incumbent president who is uncontested. Obama was on the ballot in February, but it's the caucuses Saturday the party recognizes as the official vote to award Michigan's more than 200 delegates to Democratic National Convention in September in Charlotte, N.C.

Obama received 4,126 votes in Michigan's Democratic Party caucuses and 11 votes went to "uncommitted" — the only non-Obama option. That means all Michigan's delegates will be awarded to the incumbent president who will face presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney in November.
Democrats caucused at more than 200 sites statewide that also served as local party organization meetings. At the Royal Oak senior center, all 33 voters raised their hands in support for Obama.
I was one of the 33 who voted for President Obama at that caucus. I can vouch for the article's accuracy, unlike the last time I was at an event covered by one of the local newspapers. That article from the Detroit Free Press was full of errors, but I digress.

I recommend you read the rest of the Detroit News article, as the most interesting items for local politics with an impact on sustainability are more than halfway through, including visits by two of three endorsed candidates for the Michigan Supreme Court, along with a representative of the third. All of them are women, so they and the Michigan Democratic Party are marketing the slate as "The Three Supremes." Yes, really.

Also, yesterday was a local election day in Michigan. The issue I covered for, the city income tax and millage in Ypsilanti, is headed for defeat. I'll have a story about that result, which has important sustainability implications for Ypsilanti, at tomorrow night. Stay tuned, both for that and for the rest of the sustainability news from states that voted yesterday.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Space and astronomy stories for the week ending May 6, 2012

First, news about the Supermoon, an event I first mentioned in The Wolf Moon, the first full moon of 2012, is tonight, which was one of the ten most viewed posts during the first year of this blog, as I detailed in The first year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News: Part 4 of several. It was also one of the headline stories in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Supermoon and Michigan Caucuses edition) on Daily Kos.

MSNBC: How big is that supermoon anyway?
May 5, 2012
Tonight's "supermoon" is the biggest and brightest full moon of the year, due to the fact that the moon is near the closest point in its orbital path around Earth. But just how much bigger and brighter does it look? That's a tricky question.

Most reports say the moon looks 14 percent bigger than usual, which is close to the truth but isn't quite right. They also say it's 30 percent brighter than usual, which isn't right, either. James Garvin, chief scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, ran the numbers to come up with an explanation that seems to make the most sense.
For the sake of the Play theme, here is the NASA ScienceCast video about the event, which I didn't include in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday last week, but should have.

And now, the rest of the stories from last Saturday's OND.

Student sustainability video festival, part 3: Water

Continuing with the series, here are two videos shown as part of a student presentation about water, specifically capturing rainwater and gray water systems. First, Water Crisis.

Kids talking about the use of fresh water and the need to recycle it.

Next, Water Changes Everything.

Almost a billion people live without clean drinking water. We call this the water crisis. It's a crisis because it only starts with water -- but water affects everything in life.

Health. Education. Food security. And the lives of women and children, especially.

We can end the water crisis in our lifetime. But first we have to let everyone know it's happening. Learn how water changes everything -- and share this with everyone you know.
The students enjoyed these videos and the presentation they framed. I liked them, too, which is why I'm sharing them with my readers.

More tomorrow. Time to stop playing and go back to work!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Student sustainability video festival, part 2: Greening of Detroit

In yesterday's post, I promised "more later, including videos on water, climate change, ozone, and biodiversity."  I didn't have the list of videos with me then, so I forgot a video that didn't fit into any of the above categories.  Here it is, Greening of Detroit 2011, which my students include in their summaries of local environmental charities, but which hasn't been the subject of a presentation before

I'm surprised that I haven't mentioned this organization before, especially since I tout this blog as covering sustainabilty with a science fiction slant and a Detroit perspective.

I'll get around to the other videos later. As for the Play theme, hey, the video plays and the children in it are busy playing while doing good things for the environment.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Student sustainability video festival, part 1: food and drink

In Mercy Mercy Me, I promised:
I'll have more videos from my students, along with their reactions to "End of Suburbia" in future posts. That will be after I correct their papers.
Their papers were graded and the grades entered last Wednesday, so it's time to follow through.

First up, a video from Lipton Tea and the Rainforest Alliance about Lipton's initiative to grow sustainable tea.

A Small Cup can make a Big Difference-Lipton is buying tea from farms certified by the Rainforest Alliance. for more information
The ad is classic greenwashing, but it's very well done. Also, it shows that Lipton at least cares about the environmental impact of its plantation crop, which is a step in the right direction. Also, the other students really enjoyed the video and the presentation it accompanied.

Next, Meat the Future's promotion of in vitro meat. Yes, really.

Meat the future is a project that intends to inform people about todays unsustainable and inhumane meat industry. But also give hope for a change as there is a solution in sight, called In Vitro meat.
I'm skeptical, as this is classic techno-utopianism and cornucopianism. However, I'm also a science-fiction solution to our problems, and I'd be hypocritical to shoot down a science-fiction solution to our sustainability issues. As for the student reaction, they were split; some were squicked by the idea, while others listed it as their favorite talk.

I'll have more later, including videos on water, climate change, ozone, and biodiversity. As for the "play" aspect, I could let the jingle for the Lipton Tea promo stand by itself, but I'll let the Belle Stars sing their full version.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Sustainability news: linkspam leftovers from April


It's Saturday, which means it's time to for me to prepare an Overnight News Digest on Daily Kos. That also means that it's time to be a good environmentalist and recycle the stories from last weekend before I look at new ones for tonight's edition.

Friday, May 4, 2012

May the Fourth be with you!

I have lots of sustainability stories, at all levels from local to global, to share, but first allow me what Rachel Maddow calls a moment of geek to wish my readers a Happy Star Wars Day. Yes, it really is, at least according to both Wikipedia and Wookieepedia, although May 25th, the day when the film was released, shares that title, although it's being morphed into Geek Pride Day, so it is no longer associated solely with Star Wars.

Enough history. Time for a linkspam.

Denver Post: Photos: Star Wars Day – “May the fourth be with you”

Google News results for Star Wars Day.

I Can Haz Cheezeburger's Happy Star Wars Day site.

Posts with the Star Wars tag on I Can Haz Cheeseburger's Set Phasers to LOL

Star Wars fan page on Facebook where I got the image for this post.

Finally, even though I don't have to post anything else to fit this month's theme of Play, as the macro makers were having a lot of fun playing with images and there is cosplay in the Denver Post slideshow, I'll post some music from the MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic. "See You on the Dark Side!"

Watch out tomorrow, for then it will be The Revenge of the 5ith.

Dungeons and Dragons alignments for Game of Thrones characters

Looks like I can't leave Game of Thrones alone. At io9, George Dvorsky asks What if Game of Thrones characters had Dungeons & Dragons alignments? He manages to come up with a major character for each of the nine alignments. It's not bad, but the commenters have issues with it. To argue his point, Raoul Raoul posted the following image.

I think Raoul Ruoul comes closer to the truth than Dvorsky.

I don't need to post any videos to conform to the theme of play, but I will anyway. At least this time, I don't need lyrics.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Goodbye, Gingrich!

Newt Gingrich suspended his campaign yesterday, leaving only Romney and Paul actively running as major candidates in the race for the Republican nomination. This fits the implicit prediction I made last December, when I posted that only Romney and Paul qualified for the ballot for the Virginia Republican Primary, "I guess we know who's serious about continuing their campaigns, who has the organization, and who has already given up." Only Romney and Paul were both serious and had organizations. The rest just didn't have the organization to compete, not even Frothy.

Just like the other two former GOP contenders, Herman Cain and Rick Santorum, who made for such great blogging fodder that I bothered to make special labels for posts mentioning them, I'm going to give Newt a sendoff for ending his bid to challenge President Obama.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Driving update for May 2012

Yesterday, my car's odometer turned over 212,000 miles. That's 1000 miles since the previous update this past February 3rd. That was 88 days ago, which means I drove an average of 11.4 miles per day. Multiplying by 30.5 days per month, that means I drove 347.7 miles per month. That's a lot more than my previous monthly average, but I didn't expect to maintain that average.
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.
The two averages before that were 10 miles per day and 305 miles per month following 10.1 miles per day and 308 miles per month. Even though I drove more the past three months than I had during any comparable period during the past year and a half, it's still much less than I was driving before I moved into Oakland County. As I once quoted a Forbes article, "the most fuel-efficient vehicle is a moving van."

Consequently, I'm continuing to contribute to both the long-term decrease and short-term increase in miles driven as the following graph from Calculated Risk shows

An even more startling version of this graph was posted by peristaltor on LiveJournal two days ago. It's an update of a graph I reposted in Miles driven adjusted for driving age population

As I wrote last November, it mimics the classic peak oil graph. Peak driving, anyone?

Eddie Rabbit, play us off please with "Driving My Life Away!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Nablopomo for May: Play

I know I've been participating in Nablopomo for a long time when the monthly themes repeat themselves. Here was the theme from October 2010, when I was using my LiveJournal as my Nablopomo blog.

Greetings, NaBlo bloggers! The theme for October blogging is PLAY. It's a versatile word: you can play a game or a musical instrument; you can be in a play; and when you're steering wheel jiggles it's definitely got too much play. What does the word PLAY mean to you? It may take all month to find out.
Now, here's the theme for May 2012.
So what is the NaBloPoMo theme of the month?

This month, because we're in a frisky mood, our theme for NaBloPoMo is PLAY. We'll be remembering your favourite games from childhood, talk about ways you still bring that spirit of playing into your life as an adult, and even look at whether you're a gracious or sore loser. Make sure you head down to the storage room to reminisce about old toys. And you may even want to pull out the board games one night or create your own online game this month to play with your readers
So start thinking about different ways you played this week.
If it weren't for LiveJournal being the target of DDoS attacks that take it offline from time to time, I'd be tempted to move my posts over there. Instead, I'll keep them here on Crazy Eddie's Motie News. As for what I'll do with the theme, I think I'll keep posting music, except that now I can also post instrumentals. I can also post videos, even if they don't have music. After all, don't videos "play?" Also, I'll be a good environmentalist and recycle the theme images from last time, which lack either month or year. I get bored with the typewriter logo that Nablopomo seems to have settled on once it moved over to BlogHer.


So, what music will I post? I think I'll post my favorite song about gaming, "Do You Want to Date my Avatar?" Yes, I'm a geek. Why do you ask?