Category Archives: science: not a very Republican thing to do

Tiny band of crazies choosing the GOP nominee for the Leader of the Free World.

Choosing a president, GOP-style

Timothy Egan points out the miniscule Republican primary turnout. This explains the “massive” surges, as one candidate after another rises up to challenge Mitt Romney: the numbers are so small that only a few thousand emotional extremists make or break a candidates momentum. Not to mention the power of the most expensive television propaganda campaigns in primary history, fueled by the Supreme Republican Court’s edict that corporations are people.

the small fraction of Americans who are trying to pick the Republican nominee are old, white, uniformly Christian and unrepresentative of the nation at large.

None of that is a surprise. But when you look at the numbers, it’s stunning how little this Republican primary electorate resembles the rest of the United States. They are much closer to the population of 1890 than of 2012.

Given the level of media attention, we know an election of great significance is happening on the Republican side. But it’s occurring in a different place, guided by talk-radio extremists and religious zealots, with only a vague resemblance to the states where it has taken place. From this small world have emerged a host of nutty, retrograde positions, unpopular with the vast American majority.

So far, three million voters have participated in the Republican races, less than the population of Connecticut. This means that 89 percent of all registered voters in those states have not participated in what is, from a horse-race perspective, a very tight contest.

Yes, we know Republicans don’t like their choices; it’s a meh primary. But still, in some states, this election could be happening in a ghost town. Less than 1 percent of registered voters turned out for Maine’s caucus. In Nevada, where Republican turnout was down 25 percent from 2008, only 3 percent of total registered voters participated.

This is not majority rule by any measure; it barely qualifies as participatory democracy.

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Stanford, UC Berkeley form science news wire service

The slow and lingering death of “traditional” news media has prompted some of the nations premier scientific institutions to create their own science wire service.

…35 top research universities—including Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley—have created their own “wire service” of sorts, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

The service, called Futurity, is drafting and distributing articles about the universities’ discoveries to sites like Google News and Yahoo News. They are also leveraging new media, like YouTube, to get the word out. And the stories are also being posted on the consortium’s own site, Futurity.org.

“Our preference would be to have the level of coverage of science and research that we enjoyed for decades,” Lisa Lapin, a Stanford spokesman told the Merc. “But the major news organizations haven’t had the resources to provide that independent, objective look at what we are doing. It’s been declining.”

The Merc notes that newspapers across the country have been whittling down their science reporting staffs. Both the Merc and the San Francisco Chronicle closed their Science sections several years ago.

Well done, and it has to be an improvement over the coverage provided by general news reporters or even science reporters.

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Shifting the world to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2030 – here are the numbers

wind-power
Stanford Report

Study: Shifting the world to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2030 – here are the numbers
Wind, water and solar energy resources are sufficiently available to provide all the world’s energy. Converting to electricity and hydrogen powered by these sources would reduce world power demand by 30 percent, thereby avoiding 13,000 coal power plants. Materials and costs are not limitations to these conversions, but politics may be, say Stanford and UC researchers who have mapped out a blueprint for powering the world.

Most of the technology needed to shift the world from fossil fuel to clean, renewable energy already exists. Implementing that technology requires overcoming obstacles in planning and politics, but doing so could result in a 30 percent decrease in global power demand, say Stanford civil and environmental engineering Professor Mark Z. Jacobson and University of California-Davis researcher Mark Delucchi.

To make clear the extent of those hurdles – and how they could be overcome – they have written an article that is the cover story in the November issue of Scientific American. In it, they present new research mapping out and evaluating a quantitative plan for powering the entire world on wind, water and solar energy, including an assessment of the materials needed and costs. And it will ultimately be cheaper than sticking with fossil fuel or going nuclear, they say.

The key is turning to wind, water and solar energy to generate electrical power – making a massive commitment to them – and eliminating combustion as a way to generate power for vehicles as well as for normal electricity use.

The problem lies in the use of fossil fuels and biomass combustion, which are notoriously inefficient at producing usable energy. For example, when gasoline is used to power a vehicle, at least 80 percent of the energy produced is wasted as heat.

With vehicles that run on electricity, it’s the opposite. Roughly 80 percent of the energy supplied to the vehicle is converted into motion, with only 20 percent lost as heat. Other combustion devices can similarly be replaced with electricity or with hydrogen produced by electricity.

The Scientific American article provides a quantification of global solar and wind resources based on new research by Jacobson and Delucchi.

Analyzing only on-land locations with a high potential for producing power, they found that even if wind were the only method used to generate power, the potential for wind energy production is 5 to 15 times greater than what is needed to power the entire world. For solar energy, the comparable calculation found that solar could produce about 30 times the amount needed.

If the world built just enough wind and solar installations to meet the projected demand for the scenario outlined in the article, an area smaller than the borough of Manhattan would be sufficient for the wind turbines themselves. Allowing for the required amount of space between the turbines boosts the needed acreage up to 1 percent of Earth’s land area, but the spaces between could be used for crops or grazing. The various non-rooftop solar power installations would need about a third of 1 percent of the world’s land, so altogether about 1.3 percent of the land surface would suffice.

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Nestle to package products in Charmin?

New packaging for cookie dough?

New packaging for cookie dough?


Nestle seems to have gotten caught with its poop in the cookie jar:

Nestle USA Friday recalled its refrigerated cookies, one kind of Nestle’s famous Toll House products, after federal health officials linked the dough to infections from the bacteria in 66 people in 29 states, including five in Washington. The recall does not affect other Toll House products, including ice cream that contains raw Toll House dough.

Consumers were asked to throw away the dough or, to get a refund, return it to the store where it was purchased. The FDA advised against baking the dough because bacteria could be transferred to hands and preparation surfaces.

Gee, can’t “teh markets” take care of these poopy food issues? Oh, I guess that was something Bush thought up. I’m surprised the FDA still exists. Nestle seems to have brushed off the inspectors:

A WSJ report today says inspection reports covering the past five years show that officials at the company’s Danville, Va. plant, which made the suspect dough, “refused to allow a Food and Drug Administration inspector to review consumer complaints or inspect its program designed to prevent food contamination.”

Of course, no one wants someone watching while they “go number 2″…

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Obama plus Gore!!

link

Barack Obama will give Gore a big part to play in his adminstration. Great news and a great move by Obama.

“I would,” Obama said. “Not only will I, but I will make a commitment that Al Gore will be at the table and play a central part in us figuring out how we solve this problem. He’s somebody I talk to on a regular basis. I’m already consulting with him in terms of these issues, but climate change is real. It is something we have to deal with now, not 10 years from now, not 20 years from now.”

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Guns or butter? Bombs or healthcare? participatory democracy or plutocracy/fascism?

Washington Post talks about Clinton and Obama tying the economy to the war in Iraq.

That is getting close to what this election is about. This election is fundamentally about the survival of this nation as a good place to live and as a positive force in the world.

There are two directions we can go. The first is the Bush/McCain way. We can allow entrenched multinational corporations to run our country in the best interest of their short term profits. This will involve using our tax dollars to maintain our control of the world and its resources by military might, and we will press on with fossil based fuels that we will try to steal from others. This will require enormous military expenditures, and a virtual fascist state. The world will be our enemy, and we will be perpetually at war. This will entail loss of our freedoms and civil rights, domestic spying, racial and religious intolerance, and turning away from transparency, and from intellectual and scientific pursuits. History and reality will be defined by the ruling class.

Our citizens will do without healthcare coverage, and major illnesses will result in bankrupcy for all but the wealthy.  Our country will eventually go bankrupt, our currency will be worthless, and social security will vanish. We will do nothing to mitigate global warming.

Our citizens are already fed up with the corruption and sleazy politics, and our young people are turned off by, and to, the democratic process. Election of John McCain will further entrench those attitudes.

The other way is to elect someone who represents and gives hope to young people, who will go to the polls, who will demand some say in their future, who will demand that their tax dollars buy something useful, like universal healthcare. This way sees the rest of the world as a partner, not a slave or a colony. This way sees change as necessary, and will put money into generating new solutions, rather than holding on to the fossil fuels of the past and present. This approach will revitalize our economy. This is the way (we hope) Barack Obama can lead us. Some fear that he has not had enough experience. What presidents in the past have had “enough” experience? Lincoln? FDR? Teddy Roosevelt? Kennedy? Reagan? By the time you get a candidate with “enough” experience, they are in their sixties, and unable to inspire and lead those to whom the country really belongs.

Barack Obama has a record as an intelligent and responsible leader, and is an inspiring person. He connects with the young; he can bring them into the process. He is the hope of this country and, I dare say, the world. It took me a while to figure out what Obama’s message was about…it seemed like empty rhetoric…but now I get it.  This is about mobilizing our people, and taking back our country.  It’s leadership. Hillary Clinton is not the person who can do this. She represents the aspirations of millions of women, but she just can’t inspire large numbers of people to enter the system. Perhaps that is sad. Already she has become a less admirable figure, because of the lies and slurs she has employed in the campaign.  She cannot bring more people into the process and she cannot win against John McCain, even if she were to defeat Obama for the nomination by sleazy tactics.

It seems ironic that Texas would be the state that can decide the issue. A year ago, who would have expect that an African American could win a primary there? No one who has ever lived there, I can tell you that. But let’s see if it happens. It would be a powerful statement.

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Iraq mortality study showing 600,000 excess deaths NOT funded by George Soros

Link

Let me convey what I thought was a simple and unremarkable fact I told Munro in an interview in November and one of the Lancet authors emailed Cannon the details of how the survey was funded. My center at MIT used internal funds to underwrite the survey. More than six months after the survey was commissioned, the Open Society Institute, the charitable foundation begun by Soros, provided a grant to support public education efforts of the issue. We used that to pay for some travel for lectures, a web site, and so on.

OSI, much less Soros himself (who likely was not even aware of this small grant), had nothing to do with the origination, conduct, or results of the survey. The researchers and authors did not know OSI, among other donors, had contributed. And we had hoped the survey’s findings would appear earlier in the year but were impeded by the violence in Iraq. All of this was told repeatedly to Munro and Cannon, but they choose to falsify the story. Charges of political timing were especially ludicrous, because we started more than a year before the 2006 election and tried to do the survey as quickly as possible. It was published when the data were ready.

The New York Post and the Sunday Times of London, both owned by Rupert Murdoch, followed the WSJ editorial and trumpeted the Soros connection and the supposed “fraud” which Munro and Cannon hinted. “$OROS IRAQ DEATH STORY WAS A SHAM” was a headline in the Post, which was followed by a story in which scarcely anything stated was true.

The charges of “fraud” that were also central to the National Journal piece were based on distortions or ignorance of statistical method, such as random sampling and sample size, or speculations about Iraqi field researchers fabricating data. Nothing close to proof of misdeeds was ever offered. 

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As sick as it gets: Cheney gets standing ovation for torture, at CPAC

The Conservative Political Action Conference; gathering place for the near-Fascist right; Dick Cheney is of course their leader.

From Sadly, No!, a description of these maniacs. I’m sorry, but I don’t recognize conservatism in this stuff. It’s just sickness.

Weirdly enough – or maybe not so much – his defense of torture gets a standing ovation, but his praising of our fighting men in uniform does not.

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Royal Dutch Shell: Oil production can’t keep up, by 2015

London Times:

World demand for oil and gas will outstrip supply within seven years, according to Royal Dutch Shell.

The oil multinational is predicting that conventional supplies will not keep pace with soaring population growth and the rapid pace of economic development.

Jeroen van der Veer, Shell’s chief executive, said in an e-mail to the company’s staff this week that output of conventional oil and gas was close to peaking. He wrote: “Shell estimates that after 2015 supplies of easy-to-access oil and gas will no longer keep up with demand.”

The boss of the world’s second-largest oil company forecast that, regardless of government policy initiatives and investment in renewables, the world would need more nuclear power and unconventional fossil fuels, such as oil sands.

“Using more energy inevitably means emitting more CO2 at a time when climate change has become a critical global issue,” he wrote.

Mr van der Veer is expected to discuss Shell’s energy outlook today at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

In his e-mail, which was reported on RoyalDutchShellplc.com, an independent website that monitors the company, Shell’s chief set out two scenarios for the world’s energy future.

The first scenario, “Scramble”, envisages a mad dash by nations to secure resources. With policymakers viewing energy as “a zero-sum game,” use of domestic coal and biofuels accelerates.

It is a world, said the Shell chief, where “policymakers pay little attention to energy consumption – until supplies run short.”

The alternative scenario, “Blue-prints”, envisages a world of political cooperation between governments on efficiency standards and taxes, a convergence of policies on emissions trading and local initiatives to improve environmental performance of buildings.

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Bush promises clean coal plant, then kills it

ThinkProgress 

During Monday’s State of the Union address, Bush said, “Let us fund new technologies that can generate coal power while capturing carbon emissions.”

Yet just 24 hours after his SOTU declaration, Bush’s Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman indicated the White House was pulling the plug on the ambitious FutureGen project, a clean coal plant that was touted as “the cleanest fossil fuel fired power plant in the world.”

In a meeting with lawmakers from Illinois — where FutureGen was set to be installed — Bodman “all but drove a stake in” the $1.5 billion project:

[Rep. Timothy] Johnson [R-IL] said Bodman told the group that he planned to disband FutureGen and go “in another direction.” At one point, Johnson and Bodman snapped at each other. At another, U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel, a Chicago Democrat, told Bodman that “the first action taken by the president after the State of the Union was a series of broken promises.”

“In 25 years on Capitol Hill, I have never witnessed such a cruel deception,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said, hinting at the administration’s political considerations for the project’s demise. “When the city of Mattoon, Illinois, was chosen over possible locations in Texas, the secretary of energy set out to kill FutureGen.”

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