Thursday, July 31, 2008
Hilariously, they ask you to leave six to eight weeks for delivery. This is what it took to get sea monkeys out of a comic book in the 70s. Two weeks of that was just checks clearing, and probably a week and a half for the mail itself. First class mail used to take three or four days to get across the continental United States, you recall.
Anyhoo, Sunday's donation ended up being a single; there was a lot of intraoffice drama, including one tech yelling at another, "We're both adults here: I'm an adult, and you're an adult." Now that's only 100 points normally, but there's the 100-point Sunday bonus. So, the first donation was 500 points -- I was screwed out of my extra value Sunday and double by their practice of giving low value initial points. My one successful triple so far netted me 100 base points + 100 triple points + 100 Sunday points + 50 'week of July 4th' points, bringing me to my current 850. Last Sunday's single will bring it to 1050, and get me the 500 'three donations before August' bonus points for 1550. That's good, because the DVD player at 800 points in brandless. You have to get to 2000 points before they give you a branded one.
Now, seeing as I've bought an iPod Nano 3G and they had this crazy '500 point for your first donation' rule, I need a new goal. They've also added another bonus time period. Platelets are apparently a big need.
Now, I know I haven't been clear about this, but I think this rewards program is a pretty stupid idea. I don't think anybody's going to be more inclined to give platelets -- which is an incredible drag -- who wasn't already going to do it. I only found out about the program because I was looking up where to give platelets in the first place, so I couldn't tell you where it's being promoted. Maybe to lowly blood donors. I'm doing what I can to promote it to you, so, ah, go give platelets. They're super useful things to people with severe burns, leukemia or transplant surgery. Remember to collect your prizes. Weird, right? You go to have some evidence that you're not as bad a person as possible, and they pay you off with a trinket. I don't want your blood money! Well, I do, but I'm not trying to expiate anything. I just don't think other people want their blood money.
As you might imagine, I call Platelet Advantage with every little problem I have with the program or the web site. And they seem totally unaware of each of the glaring problems I bring up -- for instance, my eligibility date is miscalculated (it's 7 days after a triple, 3 days after a single -- the website makes it 8 days after a triple, 7 days after a single,) the solution to which is to call and have the program manager change it.
I really do suspect that I'm the only person paying attention to this program, and specifically the web site. I've been involved with the internet long enough to realize applications rolled out to great fanfare can have a very small number of users, only one of whom is vocal.
But, back to the matter at hand. They've instituted another bonus period, and another superbonus period. If I can do four triples on Sundays before the end of October, and one of those is September 7th, I get 4 * (100 + 100 + 100) + 50 + 750 = 2000 more points.
If you're keeping track, that'll bring me to 3550 points, in addition to my scratch off card gifts. At 3200 points, I can get $434 in cookware (or a $200 giftcard somewhere like Amoco.) There's a trap, of course, in that each point is worth more than the point before, due to the crappy initial points. So, it's important that the program max out, which it does at 3200 points, or I'd just keep collecting them until the program's cancellation.
So, that's the new plan.
President Bush approved an order Wednesday that rewrites the rules governing spying by U.S. intelligence agencies, both in the United States and abroad, and strengthens the authority of the national intelligence director, according to a U.S. official and government documents.Now, I think that if I dug around, I could find examples where our official policy was that we were engaging in assassination and experimentation, although maybe we just torture people without collecting data on it, which would make it not prohibited by this rule.
Executive Order 12333, which lays out the responsibilities of each of the 16 agencies, maintains the decades-old prohibitions on assassination and using unwitting human subjects for scientific experiments, according to a power point briefing given to Congress that was reviewed by The Associated Press. The CIA notoriously tested LSD on human subjects in the 1950s, which was revealed by a Senate investigation in 1977.
Anyway, that's for another time, and another blogger. I just want to celebrate the fact that they're still against the law.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
I always hear wonderful things about John Tierney. But, then, whenever I read anything by John Tierney, it seems kind of stupid. He sets aside yesterdays Science Column to list six things you needn't worry about. Unfortunately, being from a decimal culture, he puts them in a list of ten. What about Mercury in vaccines, or the old asteroid stand by? Yesterday would have been a bad day to talk about your low risk of being killed in an earthquake, but here's the list:
1. Killer hot dogs
2. Your car’s planet-destroying A/C
4. Carcinogenic cellphones
5. Evil plastic bags
6. Toxic plastic bottles
Now, those are fine as far as they go. I'm not saying that any of them isn't worth worrying about, just that Tierney backs up his reassurance reasonably well, with the possible exception of point 1. But, then it just falls apart.
7. Deadly sharks -- One fatal shark attack last year! Now, being acquainted with a mauling victim might make me a little more aware of this, but the reason we don't have fatal shark attacks is that we're worried about them. Sharks are as much a problem as they've ever been. Well, per shark. The more of them that die, the closer we are to winning.
8. The Arctic’s missing ice -- Of course, this is what set me off. While having an ice free Arctic Ocean does increase our chance of a Chinese naval attack on our Eastern Seaboard, the possibility of losing our Arctic Ice is really a dramatic example of climate change more than a problem in and of itself. The Fogball Earth Doomsday Scenario still looms.
9. The universe’s missing mass -- No news here, and Tierney doesn't change whatever emotional weight it may have. It doesn't have any for me, but if this were the sort of thing I'd fret about, I can't imagine this would comfort me.
10. Unmarked wormholes -- Really? Should have stopped at six. Or gone for meteors. Are meteors enough of an actual danger that Tierney's got to reach for wormholes? It's supposed to be a sort of a jokey end, but that would mean that even with sharks, ice and dark matter, he could only come up with 9 worries to dispel.
As I'm sure you heard, out of staters of all stripes can now get married in Massachusetts. This doesn't affect my pledge to only get married in a fair marriage state, as heterosexuals* were still allowed to come in-state to get married, but it's nice for other people.
Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, criticized the vote, saying the legislators’ “arrogance and folly are doing terrible harm to marriage laws across the country and eroding the people’s right to define marriage.”Anyway, that caught my attention. Do other people have the right to define your marriage? Is that in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR, pronounced 'udder')? What does "the people's right" mean? That these things should be done by referendum? The legislature modified the law -- I think that's how representative democracy work. 'The People' exercised their supposed right to define marriage, they just didn't agree with Kris Mineau.
* -- like, and I can't be too clear about this, myself.
Monday, July 28, 2008
So, of course, it turns out that Bob Novak has a brain tumor. This is what killed my Father, so it's not a good thing. To the extent that my best wishes for a speedy recovery matter to largely abstract talking heads, I'll send mine to Bob Novak.
Now, many liberal members of the intelligentsia are probably wishing they'd said less about this, so I'll be perfectly clear. Nothing about my blog post has changed. While Joshua Micah Marshall believed that "[I]f [i]t's true... Novak... didn't realize he'd hit anyone... it removes a great deal of the moral and potential criminal liability.... I don't get that... you don't notice when you plow into a guy and he rolls up on your windshield." So, now that that's been explained to him, he should be fine.
My point was that, in the eyes of law at least, there's very little liability to begin with.
About 25% of bridges in the U.S. are either "functionally obsolete" or "structurally deficient," like the Mississippi River bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis last August, killing 13 people.This is in part self-correcting. One of the reasons people are driving less is that they're abandoning their exurban palaces to foreclosure and moving places less insane -- this may give states the opportunity to simply close some highways. But, the one in seven unacceptable pavement? It got that way while states were doing fine. In any case, maybe it's time to realize part of Governor Mike Huckabee's dream, and replace the per gallon tax with a per dollar tax.
Moreover, the pavement is rated "not acceptable" on one of every seven miles of the nation's roads, according to the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission, whose job is to assess infrastructure problems and recommend fixes.
Overall, the commission estimated, $225 billion a year is needed to meet the country's transportation infrastructure needs. Current spending is about 40% of that level.
"We were losing ground to these incredible increases in construction costs, but then to see the erosion in driving -- it's a double whammy," said John Horsley, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue [said] "People need to understand that this infrastructure thing is not optional."Actually, so much of what we thought of as non-optional turned out to be. Like, say, responding to Congressional Subpoenas.
With driving down, the number of people riding Amtrak has risen 11% this year, and mass-transit systems in many areas, including Seattle and South Florida, are experiencing ridership increases of 30% or more, according to the American Public Transit Association.And these are all wonderful things. President Bush may be more than just the biodiesel president. He may be the guy to reform transportation in America, which even Dean Kamen failed at. There's a lot of human pain in this transformation, but there was always going to be.
Nancy Underwood, an administrator in Alexandria, Va., got rid of her gas-thirsty Ford Explorer in favor of a Honda Accord, which still cost her $69 to fill up Sunday morning. She and her husband have nearly stopped their frequent trips to Richmond, and gasoline prices have even influenced her job situation.
"I took a job three blocks from my home" to save on gas and parking, even though "I could make more money" working in town, she said.
Update: This isn't germane, but it's also from the Journal. It's a breathtakingly alternate view of this presidency.
Why is it then that left-wingers feel free to make their films direct and realistic, whereas Hollywood conservatives have to put on a mask in order to speak what they know to be the truth? Why is it, indeed, that the conservative values that power our defense -- values like morality, faith, self-sacrifice and the nobility of fighting for the right -- only appear in fantasy or comic-inspired films like "300," "Lord of the Rings," "Narnia," "Spiderman 3" and now "The Dark Knight"Or maybe it's because only fantacists can stomach what this administration has turned the organs of our government into? I'm not saying, I'm just saying.
Friday, July 25, 2008
“The housing boom is not going to resume,” opined James Howard Kunstler before Symposium attendees yesterday. “The homebuilders are going down, and they’re not going to come back. It’s done, its over. The suburban experiment is over.OK... Sleazy places for sailors? We have to worry about building those? Isn't that overthinking things a little?
“I don’t know what the city of the future will be like, but I believe larger cites will condense at their centers, but get smaller as a whole. Forget about the skyscraper and condo tower. Don’t even think about buying a condo in one of those things. They will be useless in the age of expensive energy.
“Our cities are where they are because they occupy important sites. Something will be in these places, but not the metroplexes of the 21st century that we’ve known them to be. We’re going to have to move a lot more things on water than we do now. We’re going to have to put back the piers and the docks and the sleazy places for sailors.”
That "we're going to have to move a lot more things on water than we do now" is pretty interesting. I wonder if we're going to restore the tow path canals? If you're in Easton, PA, check out the museum.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
It's good when things happen to celebrities, because we get to talk about them. Valerie [Plame] Wilson outer Bob Novak ran into a guy crossing with the light on a crosswalk today, and drove off. A cyclist stopped him, and he was cited for 'Failure to yield right of way.'
As you know, my friend* transportation activist Susie Stevens was ironically struck down by a bus when in a St. Louis crosswalk on March 21, 2002 at around 8:35 in the morning. The driver, Michael W. Wamble, was charged, like Mr. Novak, with failure to yield, and paid the minimum $500 fine.
The point is, you can kill pedestrians (and bicyclists!) with no fear of comeuppance. I'm not going to encourage you to try it, but thanks to Mr. Novak, I don't have to. There's no special treatment because he's a celebrity. Motorists in general get off, with excuses like "I didn't know striking and killing pedestrians crossing on a crosswalk with the light was against the law."
As of this writing, Mr. Novak's strikee hasn't died, but the reportage on his wounds has begun to get more dismal. His final disposition won't matter to Mr. Novak's fine, however.
* -- Well, we saw each other a lot, but mostly only ever talked about bicycle and pedestrian activism and various events and activities pertaining thereto. We very nearly hung out at least thrice, but could never quite make it work. Anyway, when acquaintances you like, respect and value the enormous civic contributions of die, they become your friends. Mostly because they can't deny it. I do miss Susie.
Penn Station, America's ugliest waiting area [is] made uglier by Amtrak's infernal blockheadedness. It is a lovely thought, passenger rail service, but Amtrak has an uncanny ability to take a few hundred ordinary Americans and make them feel like refugees. One moment you're in New York, 2008, and the next you're in Warsaw, 1939, trying to squeeze aboard the last train to Sweden. Passengers crowding into stairways, elbowing each other to find seats for which they've paid a pretty penny -- it's as if online reservations hadn't been invented yet.
Production vehicles require investment in the tens of millions of dollars for engineering and tooling to allow reasonable part costs. Several investors with the capability of funding Commuter Cars to this level are showing serious interest, however, they need the assurance that there is a market for the vehicles at prices that are profitable. The only way to demonstrate this definitively is to have a large number of orders with deposits. Therefore, in order to show investors that there is a market, we're requesting that any of you who are interested in a production Tango, even if it's 2 or 3 years away, place an order now with a fully refundable deposit.The main problem with cars is their emissions, CO2, particulate matter, this and that. But, close on is their total perversion of the spaces we live in.
The Tango is quite narrow and electric. So, it deals with one problem and nods to the next. The rest of us would be better off if you didn't have a car at all. But, if you must have one, don't you want the same one as George Clooney?
Seriously? According to this web site, I live in a Walker's Paradise. I thought I'd do my last few apartments:
This one: 100 out of 100
Kips Bay: 98, although I have to say the walkability was impaired a bit by the elevator ride. Penthouse living has its drawbacks.
Central Square in Cambridge, MA: 94
Boston's North End, Prince Street: 94
Boston's North End, Copp's Hill: 88. At this point I drop to 'Very Walkable.'
Downtown Seattle: 100! Back to a Walker's Paradise
First Hill, Seattle: 98
Tukwila: 43, Car Dependent. This was sort of a low point, but I was only there for a month. And I got by with a bicycle.
View Ridge, Seattle: 62, Somewhat Walkable.
This covers something like the last 13 years. I've been car-free this entire time, but I'm guessing there are swaths of the country that would find that more difficult.
My mother's at 63 (Somewhat Walkable) and my brothers who don't live with her are at 40 (Car Dependent) and again 63, somewhat better off than I was in View Ridge.
Looking for the Walk Score web site, through the Huffington Post and the Tree Hugger web site, I found news on an upcoming "affordable electric car" and a list of electric cars out now. I know what your thinking -- "Rionn, you've called for all electricity to be generated without hydrocarbons by July 17, 2018. This specifically excluded fossil fuels used for transportation. Won't adding cars to the things that use electricity make your goal that much harder to meet?" Well, yes, you make a good point. And I know you were already prepared to make some sacrifices in your energy use. But, really? I'm sure policy makers have thought about all this. It's not like they'd make a change in energy policy that would perfectly predictably make a resource much scarcer by using it to power cars. Well, besides corn.
Still, you may be better off emulating Louis Palmer (who's arriving at UCLA today) and driving around in a solar powered car. You've got 24 choices from the North American Solar Challenge alone, which the University of Michigan won, incidentally. Congratulations to them! I want to give special notice to the University of Kentucky's "Gato del Sol III" for two reasons
(1) UKY was the first American news outlet I could find that's covering the race, unless you could MarketWatch posting a German news release, and
(2) I doing an Ironman in Kentucky next year, so I'm going to start sucking up to Kentuckians. Even if (like my Kentuckian brother) they're car dependent.
Update: sorry, I know you're wondering how MIT did. Here are the top five finishers:
Daily Rayce Summary:
Calgary, AB (Updated 07/27/05)
|1||U. MI (O)||2||53:59:43||2494.9||Calgary, AB|
|2||MN (O)||35||54:11:35||2494.9||Calgary, AB|
|3||MIT (O)||6||56:34:43||2494.9||Calgary, AB|
|4||MO R (O)||42||57:20:11||2494.9||Calgary, AB|
|5||U. Waterloo |
Note that they're reaching Calgary, Alberta. This race is sponsored by our own Department of Energy. Do you feel like they're really promoting this stuff?
I'd like to direct your attention to the line
The remains of the hurricane Berta are approaching Iceland and will go straight across the country today. According to meteorologist Einar Sveinbjörnsson, a hurricane has not drifted all the way to Iceland in mid-summer before.Right? So mid-Summer hurricanes have a new playground. Iceland. And Eduoard is really looking like he'll be launching in about three days, and will hit Iceland two weeks later. When I'm there. Ironic to you, tragic to me.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Who ever said three's a crowd?
Each time you donate platelets from August 1 - October 31, 2008, we will scratch off one of 3 boxes on the postcard you receive in the mail to reveal a special gift. (Even if you don't receive a postcard, you will still receive a bonus gift for each platelet donation).
Make 3 platelet donations from Aug. 1 - Oct. 31, 2008 and get 500 Platelet Advantage bonus points. Make 4 platelet donations and get 750 extra points. All donations made between Aug. 28 - Sept. 8, 2008 will receive an extra 50 bonus points.
To schedule an appointment visit us at: www.plateletadvantage.com
Or, call the Platelet Concierge Desk at: 1-866-PL8LETS (758-5387)
If you cannot donate but still wish to participate in bringing life-saving products to those in need, please consider volunteering at your local blood drive. For general inquiries, or for additional information about volunteering, please call 1-800-933-2566.
You can see Cristobal as he veers harmlessly off into the North Atlantic, and Dolly as she smashes harmlessly into Monterrey, 'harmlessly' here meaning 'in a way that does not impact my commute.' But. There's trouble brewing in the Eastern Pacific.
Now, quick. If you had to choose between a goofball Manned Mission to Mars and better cyclone intensity forecasting, which would you choose? I don't mean 'goofball' prejudicially.
Did you ever wonder how those people got into business school?
Palm-vein scanning on GMAT test takers... targets "proxy" test taking, a fraud in which applicants hire high-scoring imposters to take the exam in their place. Five years ago, federal authorities broke up a ring of six fraudsters who took more than 590 exams, including GMATs, for customers who paid at least $3,000.I'm enough of a sucker for a free market that this sounds less like a boondoggle to me than if the government were doing it.
I was accused of cheating on my GMAT myself, incidentally.
GMAC*: You're accused of cheating!
Me: I didn't.
GMAC: Well, OK, then.
They did seem like they could use some beefing up in the investigative department.
* -- Graduate Management Admissions Council, not General Motors Assurance Corporation. They felt I had started a section early. The irony was, it was a computerized test. I didn't have any more control over when it started than they gave me. I've been accused of a lot of things -- I've been guilty about 72 % of the time, just so you don't start thinking it's an unfair world -- but this was one of the most puzzling.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Just looking at Greener Choices from the publishers of Consumer Reports.
1. Switch to green power -- did that.
2. Seal and insulate duct system -- I'm a renter. I use New York's infamous steam heat.
3. Drive a fuel-efficient car -- Got no car.
4. Replace an old hot water heater -- Renter!
5. Control heating temperatures -- I do this, which involves a lot of painful valve operation. See 'infamy' above under 'steam heat.'
6. Choose an energy-efficient central air conditioner -- I don't use an air conditioner. I'm thinking of changing that, though, at least for my bedroom. I'll try to get an efficient air conditioner, but that's really number 17.
7. Reduce driving speed and drive evenly -- ahhh, more on this below.
8. Control your hot water heater temperature -- Renter!
9. Tune up and maintain your car -- No Car!
10. Put your computer to sleep -- I turn 'em off.
11. Replace 5 regular bulbs with compact fluorescents -- Could do.
12. Carpool or telecommute to work -- Subway!
13. Control air conditioning temperatures -- No A/C!
14. Choose an energy-efficient washing machine -- My laundry is done by neighborhood Bulgarians
15. Combine errands or ride your bike instead of driving -- No Car!
16. Pump up your tires -- No Car!
17. Choose an energy-efficient room air conditioner -- No A/C!
18. Choose an energy-efficient refrigerator -- Renter! The unit I have is pretty well-rated, though.
OK. So, the checklist is pretty irrelevant to me. It's almost like they want us to urbanize, and I've already done it. All I really have left is to, when I drive, not drive like an asshole. But, I'm not sure I can do it.
Really, I leave 3 seconds of space in front of me and try to keep an even speed, signal and minimize lane changes, but it's hard to feel you're using time effectively when you're much under 80 miles per hour. Has it come to this? I really only drive once or twice a month. Maybe I'll try a trip at 65 mph and see how it goes.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Now, I'm a returned Peace Corps volunteer. And one of the things that separates us as a class of people is that we're perfectly willing to talk about feces, specifically our own stool samples. It's a subject that comes up a lot over two years of tropical illnesses and strange foods, and after a while it's hard to recover the shame.
My own father developed sewage treatment devices, and I did some graduate work in supervisory control systems for municipal water systems at MIT. I am aware of the enormous waste water system that surrounds me, and I think it's a good thing (not a good a thing as weather prediction, but a pretty good thing.)
So, this idea that a waste water plant be renamed for George W. Bush, in order to remind us how shameful his administration was in perpetuity, makes me furious. I'm really angry. We're going to grow increasingly aware of our various public services as our standard of living declines, and we shouldn't be giving waste water plants names that lead us to expect "failure on... you name the subject."
Isn't there a trading floor that needs naming?
Maybe fancy news outlets like the Wall Street Journal are too hot stuff to cover local news, but I think New Yorkers should expect to get at least as much consideration as Baton Rouge.
Right? Here's the PDF list of closings. Note that Manhattan and New York are listed separately. And here's the quote from the Journal:
The list reads like a cross section of the U.S., with closures planned inside shopping malls, near beach resorts, in college towns and off highways. Las Vegas will lose the most stores of any U.S. city, with 13 expected to close. It is followed by San Diego, with 10; Dallas and Baton Rouge, La., each with nine; and Houston, with eight. Starbucks's hometown of Seattle is scheduled to lose seven cafes.
Now, I can't name every neighborhood in Queens, but I can name some. So, here are the boroughs or Queens neighborhoods that I can identify with their closings:
New York: 5
Staten Island: 1
The Bronx remains unscathed. But, the point is, we match San Diego at 10. There are only two in Los Angeles, a municipality of comparable size. I've mapped the Manhattan closures, because I'm compulsive. You'll notice they're bordered by 7th Ave or Broadway to the West, 54th Street to the North, Madison to the East and 34th Street to the South -- the box would actually be much tighter if it weren't for the store in the Herald Square Macy's.
I don't tend to pass any of these locations, but the 9th closest Starbucks (according to Google Maps) to my office and the 50th closest Starbucks to my apartment are closing up shop. So, my options for confusing drink sizes, misleadingly named concoctions and smooth jazz will be slightly more limited by "early next year."
Thursday, July 17, 2008
I call on America to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from electricity production by July 17, 2018
OK? Are you clear on that now? Incidentally, Al Gore has set the same goal. If you're keeping track at home, that's two of us. I know that it'll be hard to know which of us to credit when it happens, but let's leave that to historians to unwind.
Maybe he's a little more influential.
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said he supported Gore's challenge, and said he would fast-track investments in renewable energy like solar, wind and biofuels if elected. "It's a strategy that will create millions of new jobs that pay well and cannot be outsourced, and one that will leave our children a world that is cleaner and safer," he said.John McCain likes to talk about Iraq, and he sounds like a crazy son-of-a-bitch when he talks about Iraq (as opposed to most topics when he sounds like he's parroting wingnut ideology he doesn't buy), but he does identify climate change as an issue we need to address.
Obama's rival in the November election, Republican candidate John McCain, also backed Gore's plan. "If the vice president says it's do-able, I believe it's do-able," he told reporters.
Of course, so did candidate George Bush in September of 2000. He even had a plan to implement. Or, you know, a principle. Looking that link up (which took forever -- I was shooting for speech text) I got to read things like "the idea the global ice caps may melt." Now, we just talk about the disappearance of Arctic Sea Ice and the instability of Greenland's ice sheet, and I still meet people who don't believe in anthropogenic global climate change. What was crazy alarmist liberal science fiction 8 years ago is now just another thing that happens in God's creation.
The speech text I linked to is from the New York Times' "dot Earth" blog, and the blogger tries to annotate Gore's speech. However, he gets undeservedly snarky here and there.
Mr. Gore appears to have shifted from his original stance that climate change alone was the “planetary emergency” of our time to the multi-pronged view that including it in a basket of reasons to undertake a nonpolluting “energy quest” makes more sense.I don't see a shift. I hear him saying, "We have to change our energy production to save civilization, and here are some other nice benefits."
But, the main point is, we need to hear this from someone in power. I'm happy the Democrat and Republican candidates have signed on, but they seem to have largely separated their Senatorial work from their campaigning. If they're both so on board with this, can they go back to their body and get a non-binding bipartisan resolution through the senate?
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
I do believe we're in for a rough couple of weeks.
GULF OF MEXICO...
DEEP LAYERED TROUGH IS OVER THE E U.S. DIPPING S OVER THE N GULF
WITH A EMBEDDED SHORTWAVE NEAR 28N88W. THIS IS PROVIDING SUPPORT
FOR A STATIONARY FRONT THAT IS ACROSS CENTRAL FLORIDA AND FOR A
1016 MB SURFACE LOW NEAR THE COAST OF TAMPA FLORIDA NEAR 27N83W.
A WEAK SURFACE TROUGH EXTENDS FROM THE LOW CENTER TO 24N85W.
THIS SURFACE LOW ALONG WITH DIFFLUENCE ALOFT E OF THE SHORTWAVE
IS GENERATING AN AREA OF SCATTERED SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS
FROM 26N-29N BETWEEN 82W-86W AND ACROSS THE WRN COAST OF THE
FLORIDA PENINSULA AND THE WESTERN FLORIDA KEYS. ISOLATED SHOWERS
AND THUNDERSTORMS ARE FROM 25N-28N W OF 86W. FLORIDA SHOULD
EXPECT RAINFALL IN GENERAL FOR ABOUT THE NEXT 24 HOURS BECAUSE
OF THE DEEP LAYER TROPICAL MOISTURE AND THE LOW PRESSURE AND
CYCLONIC FLOW OVER THE STATE. SCATTERED MODERATE CONVECTION IS
IN THE FAR SW GULF OF MEXICO WITHIN 30NM OF 20N96W. ELSEWHERE
AT THE SURFACE ACROSS THE GULF S OF 25N...IT REMAINS FAIRLY
TRANQUIL WITH LIGHT WINDS AS A WEAK SURFACE RIDGE BUILDS BACK
INTO THE WRN GULF BY LATE WED. AN UPPER LEVEL RIDGE EXTENDS
E FROM TEXAS/NRN MEXICO COVERING THE GULF W TO 90W.
AN UPPER TROUGH IS ACROSS THE NW CARIBBEAN DRYING THE AIR NEAR
ITS AXIS THAT EXTENDS FROM ERN CUBA TO THE HONDURAS BORDER AND
KEEPING THE AREA N OF 16N W OF 77W CALM. THE ITCZ IS ALONG THE
N COAST OF SOUTH AMERICA AND PANAMA. A SURFACE LOW IS IN THE
SW CARIBBEAN ENHANCED BY UPPER LEVEL DIFFLUENT PATTERN.
SCATTERED MODERATE CONVECTION IS FROM 10N-13N BETWEEN 76W-80W.
SIMILAR CONVECTION IS ALONG THE NICARAGUAN COAST FROM 11N-15N
BETWEEN 82W-85W. AN UPPER LEVEL HIGH DOMINATES THE ERN CARIBBEAN
INTO THE W TROPICAL ATLC ANCHORED W OF THE WINDWARD ISLANDS NEAR
15N67W WHICH IS ENHANCING THE ACTIVITY ASSOCIATED WITH THE
TROPICAL WAVE ALONG 75W.
BROAD UPPER LEVEL TROUGH IS OVER THE E U.S. AND INTO THE FAR
W ATLC WITH A NARROW UPPER RIDGE EXTENDING ACROSS SOUTH FLORIDA
TO 31N75W PROVIDING AMPLE DIFFLUENCE TO GENERATE SCATTERED
SHOWERS AND ISOLATED THUNDERSTORMS FROM 28N-32N BETWEEN 75W-80W.
A STATIONARY FRONT REMAINS W OF THIS ACTIVITY. AN AREA OF
SURFACE HIGH PRESSURE IS LOCATED S OF T.S. BERTHA CENTERED NEAR
28N60W. A BROAD DEEP LAYERED TROUGH IS OVER THE CENTRAL ATLC N
OF 15N BETWEEN 42W-58W WITH A SURFACE TROUGH ENTERING THE REGION
NEAR 30N45W TO 26N50W GENERATING SCATTERED SHOWERS AND POSSIBLE
ISOLATED THUNDERSTORMS WITHIN 120 NM EITHER SIDE OF THE TROUGH
N OF 30N. AN AREA OF SCATTERED SHOWERS AND POSSIBLE
THUNDERSTORMS ARE NW OF THE TROUGH AXIS FROM 28N-30N BETWEEN
50W-53W. AN UPPER RIDGE EXTENDS FROM THE UPPER HIGH IN THE ERN
CARIBBEAN TO OVER THE W ATLC W OF 55W. A LARGE UPPER LEVEL HIGH
IS CENTERED OVER THE E ATLC ANCHORED NEAR 31N23W COVERING THE
AREA E OF 41W.
Monday, July 14, 2008
The only really confusing thing about the housing bubble collapse is that its looked like wealthy, well-connected investors had been left holding at least part of the bag.
Thankfully, the President has stepped in and transferred their difficulties to taxpayers, making my worldview whole once more.
Thanks, Mr. President!
Sunday, July 13, 2008
So, cigarettes are suddenly bad for Iranians, suggesting they may be bad for Americans, at least those of Iranian descent. This will hamper GOP plans to have Medicare pay for them. The nation is not in a mental recession, and McCain can no longer have surrogates speak for him. Our plan to stay in Iraq forever is at loggerheads with our 'peace dividend,' and awkwardly opposed to the expressed wishes of the Iraqis.
John McCain seems to be collapsing as a candidate. He's just flaming out. Obama's leading by three points in national polls, winning in both... Carolinata? Carolinae? Carolinas, and catching up in Texas. It's looking bad for the straight talk express.
Which is fine. Whatever MoveOn.org will tell you, Greens do not want Republicans in the Oval Office. If Cynthia McKinney doesn't take it -- and I'll point out she's not even included in Pollster.com's 4-way polls, which have Senator Obama over Senator McCain by 5 per cent -- Barack Obama would be my second choice.
But, I worry. I worry that McCain might find some pretext to drop out before the convention, and the fact that he was constitutionally ineligible to run for office in the first place might not be in anyone's back pocket. So, if Huckabee retakes the stage, well, I'll look amazingly prescient, but we may have another Republican in office. His campaign has only been suspended, remember. If the candidate slot opens up, he and Romney will be slugging it out within minutes.
Update: Our judicial system is a joke. This is from the story linked above in re McCain's failure to be born a citizen.
In the motion to dismiss the New Hampshire suit, Mr. McCain’s lawyers said an individual citizen like the plaintiff, a Nashua man named Fred Hollander, lacks proof of direct injury and cannot sue.Right? If only voters are harmed, and individual voters do not have standing, who exactly is going to bring suit?
Daniel P. Tokaji, an election law expert at Ohio State University, agreed. “It is awfully unlikely that a federal court would say that an individual voter has standing,” he said. “It is questionable whether anyone would have standing to raise that claim. You’d have to think a federal court would look for every possible way to avoid deciding the issue.”
So, FotB* Lexiconance has started an apparently anonymous book reviewing site, and done a link exchange. You'll notice that I updated to a far fancier link exchange applet. Anyhow, I got listed under 'minutiae blogs,' along with 'What I Ate For Lunch Today and Why' and 'What I Saw Riding My Bike Around Today'.
O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us
It wad frae monie a blunder free us
An' foolish notion
What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us
An' ev'n Devotion
* -- Friend of the Blog, in a nod to Stephen Colbert
The McKinney-Clemente acceptance speech is airing on C-Span today at 6:30. This is your official notice that they're the official ticket. From the campaign:
Hello Powerful People:
Welcome to the 12th issue of the
-- McKinney - Clemente Nominated by Green Party --
Cynthia McKinney won the Green Party's Presidential Nomination at its Chicago Convention, taking 313 of 532 first round ballots in an eight way contested race to lead the 2008 Party's Peace slate.
Once securing the nomination, she asked the Convention to also nominate as her running mate, Rosa Clemente, Bronx born activist, journalist, scholar and organizer who helped to found the HipHop Political Convention. Clemente said, "I chose to do this, not for me, but for my generation, my community and my daughter. I don't see the Green Party as an alternative. I see it as imperative."
-- Campaign Visibility --
It appears that CSPAN's Road to the White House will carry the Acceptance Speech, today, Sunday, July 13th, at 6:00 pm and again at 9:00 pm.
-- Federal Matching Funds --
Cynthia McKinney is a candidate as well for the nomination of the California Peace and Freedom Party, which will resolve is Presidential slate at an upcoming meeting of its state committee.
Link to our website and make your donation now.
This gives us two more weeks now to qualify for Federal Matching Funds. With enthusiastic pushes from McKinney supporters in both Wisconsin and Washington DC, we believe both those have now joined the list of qualifying states, including California, Michigan, New York, Oregon, Illinois, Texas and Washington.
If you are from any of these states:
Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Massachusetts, Maryland,
Your urgent action to put us over the top is needed now. We also need at least two additional states to enter the mix and help us make a difference.
These states' residents have already given $1,000 or more and are on their way towards that goal: Arizona ($2.1k), Conneticut ($1k), Florida ($3.5k), Iowa ($1k), Massachusetts ($1.8k), Maryland ($1.6k), Maine ($3.7k), Minnesota ($4.4k), New Jersey ($3.7k) and Oklahoma ($1k). Colorado, Georgia and Pennsylvania are the next closest to entering the running at the $1k level. (Unaudited figures current through June 30th, 2008; indicates change since last month).
-- Joining our Updates list --
To all new readers, thank you for subscribing to the Power to the People Committee Campaign Updates. To all readers, new or otherwise, please encourage your friends and family to join the Campaign Updates list by sending them this link:
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Some puff piece on Ronald Reagan was enthusing about his patriotism, saying he knew both versus to 'American the Beautiful.' I'd always thought there were three. Wikipedia adds a fourth. Or, really, a third.
O beautiful, for heroes provedApparently, I've been singing this song wrong. But, that's not my question. My question is with the line
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine,
'Til all success be nobleness, and ev'ry gain divine!
Thine alabaster cities gleamNow, when I first learned the song, which I think was Third Grade, although it could have been as late as Fifth, I assumed this referred to our national callousness. Cry all you will, but your grief won't dim the gleam of our cities. However! In my 30s, I came to understand it as aspirational, that one day we would be a nation of whiners no more, and there'd be no tears shed. But, now I'm not so sure.
Undimmed by human tears!
What do you think?
[D]oes all this wrangling over Obama's shift to the center really matter to Democratic voters? Some who follow the minutiae of the daily campaign might care, but the LAT says that most Democrats are too focused on the bigger picture to give it much thought. "When I hear people complaining," one Democratic strategist explained, "I tell them I have one thing to say: 'President John McCain. Three Supreme Court appointments.' That's all I need to say."Right. Ah... OK. Thank goodness the days of an unaccountable executive are coming to an end. No, but, seriously. Are Republicans the new Al Qaeda?
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Secretaries of State Warren Christopher and James A. Baker III oversaw a year-long study of the longstanding tension over war powers between the executive and legislative branches. In a report to be released on Tuesday, they concluded that the 1973 law, which was passed in the waning days of the Vietnam War and which aimed to limit the president’s ability to commit American forces to war unilaterally, never served its intended function and must be replaced.Seriously. Between this and FISA, you've got to wonder what the point of the laws Congress passed in Nixon's wake really were. If you were wondering why I simply don't care about these 'closing the barn door after the horse is out' mortgage reform laws, it's that until the horse tries to escape again, there's no way to know if they're working.
Sunday, July 06, 2008
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
The link's to the gift cards page. Gift cards start at 20 ppd (that's "points per dollar," a regular single platelet donation is 100 points, or $5,) drop to 16 ppd at 2000 points, max out at 12.8 ppd at 3200 points for a $250 gift card. For 3200 points, incidentally, you could instead get a camera available at B&H for $176. However, it's $260 at Circuit City, a gift card provider.
So, you'll recall that the plan was to rack up 2600 points in platelet donations, then trade it in for a Nano. Now, I bought a Nano, but I can probably find something else. However! Other elements of the plan were called into question. Firstly, I found that the first donation couldn't be a triple.
First piece of news? They somehow extracted a double from me. Well, oops. That brought me to 500 points. One hundred for the donation, 50 for the double, one hundred for the Sunday and 250 for no discernable reason whatsoever. Now, they might be giving me the first four fifteenths of my 750 point four-donation-before-August bonus early. But, I suspect it's just arbitrary, especially as I can no longer find a reference to said bonus on their site.
Now, I was going to give last Sunday and this coming Sunday, to get the "week of July 4th" bonus twice. However! Despite the clearly stated rule that I can give platelets every three days, I'm not eligible to give again until July 14th, 16 days after my last donation. I don't know why this is, but there's probably a longer unpublished delay between triple donations. This, however, is a huge problem, as it means I can't get my 750 point bonus for four donations. I'll try to clarify the rules, and if need be just do a single next time.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking with Google employees in Mountain View, Calif., in May, said, “after Sept. 11, whatever was legal in the face of not just the attacks of Sept. 11, but the anthrax attacks that happened, we were in an environment in which saving America from the next attack was paramount.” She added, “there has been a long evolution in American policy about detainees and about interrogations...we now have in place a law that was not there in 2002 and 2003.”
I... If, as Senator Leahy believes, the US Government itself was behind the Anthrax attacks... There's no comment, I am just still occasionally shocked by the shamelessness of this administration. Really, though, I guess their choices are to ride it out or go to their secret bunker and turn their lugers on themselves.
Inflation in Zimbabwe is estimated at one million per cent. I know there are a lot of horrors talked about there, but this one seems imaginable. So, imagine living with one million per cent inflation.
Zimbabwe's central bank stopped posting inflation figures in January, when it stood at a relatively modest 100,580%. A loaf of bread costs 30 billion Zimbabwean dollars.
Vending machines, which take coins, fell out of service in Zimbabwe years ago. A single soda would require the deposit of billions of coins. Imported from South Africa and in very short supply, a Coke sells on the black market for around 15 billion Zimbabwean dollars. Civil servants mostly get paid through direct deposits into bank accounts, which limit withdrawals to 25 billion Zimbabwe dollars a day.
I'm going away for a few days to celebrate our nation's throwing off the yoke of the dirty, dirty brits, but the 'tropical wave in the far east Atlantic' has gone from low probability of becoming a tropical depression to medium probability. There's (as always) some chance this could become a Category V Hurricane bearing down on Sandy Hook, so can you keep an eye on this for me?
The New York Times leads with a look at how a growing number of economists now believe that current economic woes aren't going away in the near future as tight credit and trouble in the job market could continue until late next year.
Hey! Look! Shinola! Let's step in it!
No, no, that was definitely shit. Not shinola at all. Really shouldn't have stepped in that.
I mean, we let economists call themselves scientists because they're supposed to have predictive models. I'm pretty sure that without a predictive model, you're not a scientist. So... shouldn't this number have grown between 1997 and, say, 2002, and just been holding steady since then? Well, OK. Maybe into mid-2003. But, by a few months after the Invasion of Iraq, everything that's hurting us now was in place. Economists should have been predicting disaster then, when we could have mitigated it.
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
It's a good thing the Dow is in the hands of the free market and too big to manipulate. Otherwise, I might suspect something.
You'll recall I laid out different dates that different Dow closings would regress us to. And we seem to be stuck in September of 2006. There's an interesting point in that a 'bear market' is defined as a market close 20 % lower than the high market close. Roughly -- that's good enough for our purposes. On October 9 of 2007, the DJIA had its highest close ever, 14,164.53. Twenty percent lower would be 11331.62, 50.64 points lower than today's close of 11,382.26, 18.39 points lower than yesterday's (quarter end) close of 11,350.01, and only 14.89 points below Friday's close of 11,346.51. By 9:32 this morning, the index stood at 11,236.68, having lost over 120 points in 2 minutes, and it lost 175.87 points in one 84-minute period, and 58.95 in another 32-minute period -- this amount of volatility ending up within 51 points of, but out of, 'bear territory' three days in a row implies that something is forcing it.
A conspiracy theorist would infer a forcing mechanism. Not me; I know it's just the wisdom of the markets.
You'll recall that my electricity comes from Iderbola's wind farms. But, this is informative as to how New York City and Westchester (50 % nuke, 0 % coal) stack up against the rest of the nation (20 % nuke, 50 % coal.) Wind, or other 'non hydro renewables' such as giant gerbil wheels, are at 1 % here, 2 % nationally. So, signing up for Iderbola can make a difference.
Look how little emissions we have here! This really makes nuclear power look attractive. The Wall Street Journal had a sales bit on it yesterday. Al Gore's concerns regarding proliferation aside, we have a serious waste disposal issue with nuclear as well as a sourcing issue going forward. Also, I live near Indian Point, so I know how highly the NRC values safety.
Mark Jacobs, of the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition, said the “… lack of comprehensiveness …” in the [NRC relicensing application] process does not protect the public.
I feel I'm justified in just taking the whole list from the New York Times, as they simply took it from Men's Health. I might feel differently if I thought they'd notice.
1. Beets: Think of beets as red spinach, Dr. Bowden said, because they are a rich source of folate as well as natural red pigments that may be cancer fighters.
How to eat: Fresh, raw and grated to make a salad. Heating decreases the antioxidant power.
2. Cabbage: Loaded with nutrients like sulforaphane, a chemical said to boost cancer-fighting enzymes.
How to eat: Asian-style slaw or as a crunchy topping on burgers and sandwiches.
3. Swiss chard: A leafy green vegetable packed with carotenoids that protect aging eyes.
How to eat it: Chop and saute in olive oil.
4. Cinnamon: Helps control blood sugar and cholesterol.
How to eat it: Sprinkle on coffee or oatmeal.
5. Pomegranate juice: Appears to lower blood pressure and loaded with antioxidants.
How to eat: Just drink it.
6. Dried plums: Okay, so they are really prunes, but packed with cancer-fighting antioxidants.
How to eat: Wrapped in prosciutto and baked.
7. Pumpkin seeds: The most nutritious part of the pumpkin and packed with magnesium; high levels of the mineral are associated with lower risk for early death.
How to eat: Roasted as a snack, or sprinkled on salad.
8. Sardines: Dr. Bowden calls them “health food in a can.'’ They are high in omega-3’s, contain virtually no mercury and are loaded with calcium. They also contain iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese as well as a full complement of B vitamins.
How to eat: Choose sardines packed in olive or sardine oil. Eat plain, mixed with salad, on toast, or mashed with dijon mustard and onions as a spread.
9. Turmeric: The “superstar of spices,'’ it has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
How to eat: Mix with scrambled eggs or in any vegetable dish.
10. Frozen blueberries: Even though freezing can degrade some of the nutrients in fruits and vegetables, frozen blueberries are available year-round and don’t spoil; associated with better memory in animal studies.
How to eat: Blended with yogurt or chocolate soy milk and sprinkled with crushed almonds.
11. Canned pumpkin: A low-calorie vegetable that is high in fiber and immune-stimulating vitamin A; fills you up on very few calories.
How to eat: Mix with a little butter, cinnamon and nutmeg.
There's a lot of discussion of wrapping prosciutto (yuppie bacon) around the prunes. Of course, I eat prunes by the handful, so I don't see the need. The discussion thread also recommends purslane, which I'm excited to try.