Thursday, December 4

Toronto has a plan to reduce its landfill contributions by 70% by 2010. As part of this process, their city council has approved a ban on sale of bottled water in all municipal properties.

Saturday, November 29

So, let me just string a few things together: (1) We, as a nation, put ourselves in debt by over-consuming. (2) Financial engineering, one of the U.S.'s primary exportable innovations in recent years, exacerbates this behavior by giving Americans ATM-like access to their home equity. Even sub-prime borrowers were included in the game because their loans could be sliced, diced, and securitized until the risks were well-contained...or so we thought. (3) This house of cards crashes, because nobody, financial wizards included, new how to appropriately price the risks involved. A global financial crisis ensues. (4) To top it all off, three people die--die!--shopping on Black Friday, a 'holiday' whose newly relevant name was supposed to bring hope to our faltering economy. We look like a bunch of idiots.

American consumer: YOU FAIL.

Monday, November 10

Worth reading (both the comments on Digg and the original article): "Undeniable proof that Arkansas is a backwards hellhole!!!"

Hate has prevailed...for now.

Wednesday, November 5

Ahhh...feels good not to be ashamed of our President.

This thread from Reddit says it quite effectively, I believe:
Dear Rest of The World
We didn't f*** it up
Signed,
America

Friday, September 12

As my wife says, Sarah Palin is the kind of woman that's bad for women.

Monday, August 18

Stormtroopers crack down on illegal vendors! Health police rescue untold thousands from unsafe and unlicensed food! Heavenly bacon wasted in an orgy of violence and self-importance! Pick your headline.

Monday, August 11

What makes a terrorist? Evidence runs counter to the conventional wisdom.

Friday, August 8

Follow up to this post about a Canadian censorship case... the defendant wins approval, but not recognition of his right to expression.
The plaintiffs make clear their motives:
"Obviously we didn't want [people making cartoons we find offensive] to continue, so [another goal was] perhaps to discourage people from further maligning our prophet and our religion... We wanted this to have a deterrent effect."
Details.

Wednesday, August 6

"....the WSJ is reporting, on your taxi's dash is a microphone that can be activated remotely, at any time and without the driver's knowledge, for a live listen into any one of Beijing's estimated 70,000 cabs. And then, if the folks on the other end don't like what they hear, they can take things even further.

The GPS-equipped devices also allow for remote disabling by "cutting off the oil or electric supply," effectively shutting down the engine and keeping it from being restarted."

Tuesday, August 5

A coalition of Islamic states is attempting to use the United Nations to enact international 'anti-defamation' rules. The kind of rules antithetical to the First Amendment.
Some legal analysis here.

Thursday, July 31

Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization.
Sysco: whether it's Wendy's, Applebee's, the local diner, a fancy restaurant, the cafeteria, or Guantanamo Bay, it's what you eat.

In related news, Bennigan's files for bankruptcy protection and shuts down 150 company-owned stores. Nobody cares.

Wednesday, July 23

Tuesday, July 22

There are now over 1,000 laws that will let the state's minions legally invade your home in the UK.

"A recent study by the Centre for Policy Studies think-tank warned that the 'proliferation and variety' of such laws mean householders can no longer 'realistically be aware' of their rights and legal obligations." Ya think?

Cast your vote for the worst company in America: Comcast VS Countrywide Home Loans.

Monday, July 21

"I won't just ask for your vote as a candidate; I will ask for your service and your active citizenship when I am president of the United States. This will not be a call issued in one speech or program; this will be a cause of my presidency.”— Barack Obama, December 5, 2007

Broken down a bit by Jim Lindgren...

So – if Obama means what he says – his civilian national security corps would cost at least another $100 billion a year, and perhaps as much as $500 billion a year. With total federal income taxes of $935 billion in 2005, Obama's proposal would mean using up to half of all federal income tax revenues just to fund his promise “to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded” as the military.

Three quick reasons to fear this even if you really like the guy proposing it:
1. Cost.
2. Invasiveness- what part of the country wouldn't be covered by a corps?
3. Imagine this army of "armies" under the control of a president you don't like so much.

Friday, July 18

January 17, 2001 - The Onion publishes a hilariously prescient article just before George W. Bush's assumption of the presidency:
"My fellow Americans," Bush said, "at long last, we have reached the end of the dark period in American history that will come to be known as the Clinton Era, eight long years characterized by unprecedented economic expansion, a sharp decrease in crime, and sustained peace overseas. The time has come to put all of that behind us."

Wednesday, July 16

Today is "the date of the calendar year on which the average American worker has earned enough gross income to pay off his or her share of spending and regulatory burdens imposed by government on the federal, state and local levels."
That is, for the average American, the government keeps every dollar the worker earned earned from January 1, 2008 up until yesterday.

Tuesday, July 8

The bulbous root is the only commodity for which futures trading is banned. Back in 1958, onion growers convinced themselves that futures traders (and not the new farms sprouting up in Wisconsin) were responsible for falling onion prices, so they lobbied an up-and-coming Michigan Congressman named Gerald Ford to push through a law banning all futures trading in onions. The law still stands.

And yet even with no traders to blame, the volatility in onion prices makes the swings in oil and corn look tame, reinforcing academics' belief that futures trading diminishes extreme price swings.

...

Since 2006, oil prices have risen 100%, and corn is up 300%. But onion prices soared 400% between October 2006 and April 2007...

So do we really expect Congress to learn from history, or do we expect them to blame the speculators?
When Fox News Is the Story.

Thursday, July 3

My Independence Day post, one day early:

Things to help you remember your love for America: great economic freedom; being able to eat what you want; being able to be an offensive jerk without speech police; growing freedom to love whom you want; still the place for science and genius.

Things that remind you of your disappointment with America: the low (48th) ranking in Press Freedom; not being able to eat what you want; our share of scary cops; 35 years of bad drug policy.

The founding of most nations, if you go back far enough, revolves around some guy with an army beating some other guy's army and carving out a kingdom for himself based on the spoils. That, and ethnic identity (England, i.e., land of the English).

I think it's pretty cool that country I call home was founded on some really awesome ideas, as imperfectly realized as they may be.
“As president, I’ll try to put your kids to work as soon as they’re out of the house. Not for full pay, of course, or anything resembling fair compensation. When Junior hits his formative years around high school and college, my administration will dangle all kinds of incentives that amount to a fraction of what you, a fully grown adult, would get for doing the same work.”

An honest translation of a popular popular position on generational welfare, I mean, national service.

America?

Friday, June 27

Tim Bond of Barclays Capital: "This is the first test for central banks in 30 years and they have fluffed it. They have zero credibility, and the Fed is negative if that's possible. It has lost all credibility."

Thursday, June 26

Lowering standards isn't enough: Last year the U.S. Army appointed its first Chief Marketing Officer, and is planning to open an entertainment-focused arcade-style recruiting center later this year.

Wednesday, June 25

Did you observe Kelo Day Monday? Wondering what Kelo Day commemorates?
On June 23, 2005, the Supreme Court ruled that your home is only securely yours as long as the government doesn't find it profitable to take it from you and give it to someone richer. Yep.
The $100 Distraction Device: Why giving poor kids laptops doesn't improve their scholastic performance.

Tuesday, June 24

Depave.org has one simple mission: Remove unnecessary concrete and asphalt from urban areas.

Friday, June 6

Remember when so many people wanted to run away to Canada after the 04 election? I always wondered if those people followed Canadian politics - things like this (sent to me by a Canadian friend).
An excellent recent article in the Economist on the transformation of American suburbs. Some excerpts:
In 1960 fewer Americans lived in suburbs than in central cities or the countryside. Ten years later the suburbs had overhauled both; by 2000 they contained more people than the cities and countryside put together.

...the white population of big-city suburbs grew by 7% between 2000 and 2006. In the same period the suburban Asian population grew by 16%, the black population by 24% and the Hispanic population by an astonishing 60%.

As the suburbs become more mixed, some inner-city areas are turning less so. Los Angeles ... and New York ... both added whites and lost blacks between 2000 and 2006.

...the Brookings Institution ... calculates that 45% of the jobs in America's 100 biggest metropolitan areas are found more than ten miles from the downtown core.

The popularity of such confections [outdoor lifestyle retail centers] suggests that Americans want to spend time in places that look like cities but feel like suburbs. They hint at a broader pattern: cities and suburbs are converging.

Since 2001 the number of violent crimes in suburban areas has risen by 10%, according to the FBI. ... it is a poor record compared with America's big cities, which have cut violent crime by 17%.

Tuesday, June 3

A secret element slipped into the farm bill makes it even more difficult to discover just how wasteful the Farm Bill actually is. Details...

Wednesday, May 28

"Shanghai and Beijing ... have become urban riots of aesthetic and technical flair, with skylines that are futuristic, inspiring, and sometimes sublime. [However]... The bulk of construction in China is not of the showcase variety, with the celebrity Western architects jet-classed in for consultations and photo ops. Instead, the vast majority of recent building has been non-descript, cheap and almost entirely ungoverned by safety standards or minimum building codes."

Friday, May 23

A good take-down of some so-called progressive hip-hop's politics.

And on the Che movie from Cannes... "In between the two periods covered in “Che,” Guevara was an important player in the Castro government, but his brutal role in turning a revolutionary movement into a dictatorship goes virtually unmentioned. This, along with Benicio Del Toro’s soulful and charismatic performance, allows Mr. Soderbergh to preserve the romantic notion of Guevara as a martyr and an iconic figure, an idealistic champion of the poor and oppressed."

Artists and politics - why so often such a bad combination?

Thursday, May 22

"Homo sapiens is the species that invents symbols in which to invest passion and authority, then forgets that symbols are inventions." --Joyce Carol Oates.

Tuesday, May 20

Warren Buffett, in his press conference endorsing Obama: "They say in the stock market ... buy stock in a business that's so good that an idiot can run it because sooner or later one will. ... Well, the United States is a little like that. We can take a little mis-management from time to time." ... No doubt referring to the Shrub's presidential tenure.
"By refusing aid, the Burmese regime has effectively declared war on its own population and is committing crimes against humanity."

Friday, May 16

"We need to stand up to the special interests, bring Republicans and Democrats together, and pass the farm bill immediately," Barack Obama declared last November.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.): "Obviously, I have been very disappointed in the comments coming out of the White House. But we do have a strong vote in both the House and the Senate, and I think that shows you that in a complex piece of legislation like this, and it truly is because it touches so many different areas of so many different aspects of agriculture and food production, as well as nutrition and conservation and energy, that there is something in this bill for every member of the House and every member of the Senate."

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D, NY): "I believe saying no to the farm bill is saying no to rural America."

A major moral victory:
Writing for the California high court, Chief Justice Ronald M. George first found that the exclusion of gays from marriage violated their fundamental right to marry, thereby drawing strict scrutiny from the court. This meant that the state would have to produce a compelling reason to bar gays from what the court deemed "the most socially productive and individually fulfilling relationship that one can enjoy in the course of a lifetime." In a crucial move, Chief Justice George rejected the state's argument that tradition was such a reason. Allowing tradition to thus entrench itself, he said, would have allowed for laws barring interracial couples. And, as he noted, the California Supreme Court struck down a ban on interracial marriage in 1948, almost two decades before the U.S. Supreme Court did in Loving v. Virginia.

Thursday, May 15

In case anyone is still wondering where Einstein stood on the 'god' issue:
The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.

Friday, May 9

When parties agree, the people pay...

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) supports the bill. Congressional leaders plan to bring it to the House and Senate floors next week for votes that could test the depth of support for it.

The package, the product of weeks of closed-door bargaining, is stuffed with plums for key constituencies. Dairy farmers will get as much as $410 million more over 10 years to cover higher feed costs, and negotiators tucked in an annual authorization of $15 million to help "geographically disadvantaged farmers" in Alaska, Hawaii, American Samoa and Puerto Rico.

The bill assures growers of basic crops such as wheat, cotton, corn and soybeans $5 billion a year in automatic payments, even if farm and food prices stay at record levels.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin C. Peterson (D-Minn.) acknowledged that the payments are "very hard to explain to our urban colleagues."

Wednesday, May 7

“They were just here doing their job,” he said. “It's a tough job to have to go to somebody's house and have to come through a window or break down a door. You never know what's in there. But I feel like, if I had time to think about throwing the gun down, they had time to think about whether or not to shoot me.”

Monday, May 5

Nature News is reporting that the Swiss government's ethics committee on non-human biotechnology has issued guidelines instructing researchers how to avoid offending the dignity of plants.
The committee does not consider that genetic engineering of plants automatically falls into this category, but its majority view holds that it would if the genetic modification caused plants to 'lose their independence' - for example by interfering with their capacity to reproduce.

Thursday, April 17

Are you an Obama supporter suddenly feeling down about the future in light of his recent remarks?
Or are you a Hillary supporter who's down because she's been getting raked for months?
Maybe you're a McCain supporter.... aw, how much does our next president even really matter?
You take this in good light or bad light, depending on who you want to win and who does.
Here's one reason why the "president doesn't matter that much" might make you feel good.

Monday, April 14

You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them...And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.

And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.
The truth hurts. It hurts to say it and it hurts to hear it.

Thursday, April 3

Following up on my good neighbor post, here's the study, with policy recommendations, in a pdf format. Breakdown:

1. For relief and recovery efforts and ensure that its role [the private sector] is officially recognized as part of disaster protocols.

2. Decentralize government relief to local governments and non-governmental organizations and provide that relief in the form of cash or broadly defined vouchers.

3. Move the Coast Guard and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) out of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

4. Reform “Good Samaritan” laws so that private-sector actors are clearly protected when they make good faith efforts to help.

Numbers 2 (decentralization) and 4 (enable people to act on their own to help) are the ones I immediately like.
Wal-Mart has decided not to commit public relations suicide: Debbie Shank, the former Wal-Mart employee who suffered severe brain damage in a traffic accident, won't have to pay the company back for the cost of her medical care.

Good job, internet, for showing Wal-Mart the asshole-ness of its ways. (via Digg)

Now, internet, how's that Scientology attack going?

Tuesday, April 1

Wow, just noticed the Wal-Mart posts below on the day I see this story, something I've heard about for a couple years but now has been fulled studied. The opposite of corporate policies preventing employees from doing the right thing, it's what happens when a company empowers employees to act as they see fit, as the Wal-Mart CEO did on the morning of Aug. 29, 2005:
This extraordinary delegation of authority ... saved countless lives in the ensuing chaos. The results are recounted in a new paper on the disaster written by Steven Horwitz, an Austrian-school economist at St. Lawrence University in New York. While the Federal Emergency Management Agency fumbled about, doing almost as much to prevent essential supplies from reaching Louisiana and Mississippi as it could to facilitate it, Wal-Mart managers performed feats of heroism. In Kenner, La., an employee crashed a forklift through a warehouse door to get water for a nursing home. A Marrero, La., store served as a barracks for cops whose homes had been submerged. In Waveland, Miss., an assistant manager who could not reach her superiors had a bulldozer driven through the store to retrieve disaster necessities for community use, and broke into a locked pharmacy closet to obtain medicine for the local hospital.
Empowered, decentralized actors - people on the local level given the authority to act - and the resulting response was leagues ahead of what FEMA was doing. This isn't testimony to Wal-Mart per se, but to the power of local, community actors as being in the best position to respond to disaster - look how well they did it!
Of course these managers would do everything they could to help these people - it's their freakin' home town(s)! Contrast this urgency with the disinterest of a remote FEMA bureaucrat in Washington who's never been to Gulf Coast... is the resulting difference any surprise?
(Note: The article I linked to takes this to a certain anti-federalization level, which you may or may not agree with. Personally, I'm always shocked at how many people who railed against FEMA in the case of Katrina support the same disinterested and distant federal government in rebuilding the Gulf Coast, and many other projects of this nature.)

Friday, March 28

The modern world, which prides itself on being a repudiation of the irrationalities of a culture that could give rise to an Inquisition, was in fact forged in the fires of those irrationalities, and we can still feel their heat.
This sentence from James Carroll's Constantine's Sword is extraordinarily insightful and can be generalized to many problems of modern life: Racism, the fight against scientific rationality, cultural hegemony, religious conflict, the list goes on... In fact, with a slight re-wording I think it becomes even more relevant:
The modern world, which prides itself on being a repudiation of the 'irrationalities of culture', was in fact forged in the fires of those irrationalities.
How long before rational thought runs the world?

Thursday, March 27

The case of Deborah Shank vs. Wal-Mart.

Alternet: "Wal-Mart Sues Brain-Damaged Employee".

Wall Street Journal: "Wal-Mart Prevails in Case to Recover Health Costs".

However you spin it, it's tragic when 'policies' prevent corporate drones from doing the right thing. You can only alienate so many people... You can only bankrupt so many suppliers... You can only shutter so many competing stores... Before the general tide of public opinion turns against you. (Thanks, Rose.)

Wednesday, March 26

Thursday, March 20

Ted Atkinson at Daily Kos, commenting on the fact the Obama wrote his recent speech on race and America himself:
Here is a chair. Regardless of who you support, or what you think of Obama, I want you to sit here, right here on this chair and consider something wonderful. To wit:

It is possible that we will have a President who not only will speak in full, complete sentences, but who will do so in a manner that is eloquent, and who will also be articulate and eloquent in delivering words he is intelligent enough to know, understand, and use in a speech he is capable of writing himself.
The Mayor of Seattle has signed an executive order that will stop the city from purchasing bottled water, citing its detrimental effect on the environment. Good leadership by example; thank you Seattle.

Tuesday, March 18

Yesterday I was ready to post a nasty anti-St. Patrick's Day entry, and then I started thinking about the day's heritage as a binding of Irish community in the face of adversity in the 19th Century United States. Felt bad; couldn't do it.

Then I walked around downtown after our city's parade and saw all the stupid drunken idiots, and I reconsidered. St. Patrick's Day is stupid.
"We stand by our president..." (via Digg)

Thursday, March 13

Could it be? The fulfillment of my career-long dream...the beginning of the end of the McMansion.
Kiss the Gas-Guzzling NASCAR Era Good-Bye.
Slum Visits: Tourism or Voyeurism? (Answer: Voyeurism.)
If the prosecutor is obliged to choose his cases, it follows that he can choose his defendants. Therein is the most dangerous power of the prosecutor: that he will pick people that he thinks he should get, rather than pick cases that need to be prosecuted. With the law books filled with a great assortment of crimes, a prosecutor stands a fair chance of finding at least a technical violation of some act on the part of almost anyone. In such a case, it is not a question of discovering the commission of a crime and then looking for the man who has committed it, it is a question of picking the man and then searching the law books, or putting investigators to work, to pin some offense on him.
- Robert Jackson. On Spitzer and prosecutor discretion...

Wednesday, March 12

At the beginning of the 21st Century, Americans' primary contribution to global society became clear: shopping. Now what happens when we begin to bumble our special talent?

Tuesday, March 11

President Bush used Saddam's alleged relationship with al Qaida, along with Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction, as arguments for invading Iraq after the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks. ... An exhaustive review of more than 600,000 Iraqi documents that were captured after the 2003 U.S. invasion has found no evidence that Saddam Hussein's regime had any operational links with Osama bin Laden's al Qaida terrorist network.

Monday, March 10

Dave McNeely in the Edmond (Oklahoma) Sun:
The Oklahoma House of Representatives Education Committee has just approved House Bill 2211. ... The bill requires public schools to guarantee students the right to express their religious viewpoints in a public forum, in class, in homework and in other ways without being penalized. If a student’s religious beliefs were in conflict with scientific theory, and the student chose to express those beliefs rather than explain the theory in response to an exam question, the student’s incorrect response would be deemed satisfactory, according to this bill.

The school would be required to reward the student with a good grade, or be considered in violation of the law. Even simple, factual information such as the age of the earth (4.65 billion years) would be subject to the student’s belief, and if the student answered 6,000 years based on his or her religious belief, the school would have to credit it as correct.

Thursday, March 6

The apparently inevitable and ugly face of urban growth: The Bridge to Nowhere (Anchorage, Alaska; more here); and, A Stoic Little Town Faces Tomorrow (Los Angeles, California).

Wednesday, March 5

The report from the Pew Center on the States, referenced by John on 2/29, says that from 1987 to 2007, average state general fund expenditures on corrections (prisons, etc.) increased 127%, while during the same period expenditures on education rose only 21%.
Bottled water hate.

Tuesday, March 4

As an Ohio citizen, today I cast my vote in the primary election, which I am, uh, pretty sure will be counted correctly, and, um, democracy will be served?

Monday, March 3

Everyone knows that the U.S. imports a massive amount of products from China. But do you know that our highest dollar-value export to China is...trash?

Friday, February 29

Follow up to my post US prison populations...

The Washington Post highlights the same comparison in the second paragraph of its story about the report, saying "the United States leads the world in both the number and percentage of residents it incarcerates, leaving far-more-populous China a distant second."

The source for the Chinese estimate is the International Centre for Prison Studies at King's College in London, which in turn relied on the Chinese government's numbers. I don't think I'm going out on a limb by suggesting that we should be skeptical of anything a totalitarian-cum-authoritarian government says about touchy, potentially embarrassing issues like how many of its citizens it imprisons. The official number at the end of 2005 was 1,565,771, but the King's College report says that does not include "more than 500,000 serving administrative detention in re-education-through-labour camps," according to the Chinese government's own count; "350,000 in a second type of administrative detention...for drug offenders and prostitutes," according to a U.S. State Department estimate; or pre-trial detainees, whose number "is not known but has been estimated at about 100,000." Assuming those numbers are correct (a big assumption), "the total prison population in China is about 2,500,000." That still gives the U.S. a higher incarceration rate, but not a higher total number of prisoners. And if the Chinese government actually had a few million people in re-education camps, instead of the half a million it claims, how would we know?

More...
Hillary Clinton is your new HD-DVD player. 'The Daily Show' Reports From 'Anti-Hillary HQ'.

Thursday, February 28

Hey, this good news, right? I mean, this certainly isn't...
Next time you're thinking about buying a house under some high voltage power transmission lines, take a look at these photos and reconsider. The photos illustrate fluorescent light tubes activated by nothing more than the ambient magnetic field under the power lines. I wonder what that does to your body over time? (via Gizmodo)

Tuesday, February 26

Retroactive post insert: Starbucks closes its stores nationwide for 3 hours to train 'baristas' (sarcastic quotes intentional) and, according to the company's former CEO, regain some of the romance and soul of the espresso experience. Coffee connoisseurs around the world laugh out loud at the news.

Monday, February 25

John Stewart at the Oscars last night: "Normally when you see a black man or a woman president, an asteroid is about to hit the Statue of Liberty."

Monday, February 18

Follow-up on previous post, an earlier NYT article about Susan Jacoby: 'Not only are citizens ignorant about essential scientific, civic and cultural knowledge, she said, but they also don’t think it matters.'
The Dumbing Of America: 'The problem is not just the things we do not know (consider the one in five American adults who, according to the National Science Foundation, thinks the sun revolves around the Earth); it's the alarming number of Americans who have smugly concluded that they do not need to know such things in the first place. Call this anti-rationalism -- a syndrome that is particularly dangerous to our public institutions and discourse.'

Tuesday, February 12

Picture the life of a young Urdu-speaking woman brought to Yorkshire from Pakistan to marry a man—quite possibly a close cousin—whom she has never met. He takes her dowry, beats her, and abuses the children he forces her to bear. She is not allowed to leave the house unless in the company of a male relative and unless she is submissively covered from head to toe. Suppose that she is able to contact one of the few support groups that now exist for the many women in Britain who share her plight. What she ought to be able to say is, "I need the police, and I need the law to be enforced." But what she will often be told is, "Your problem is better handled within the community."
This is England ?

Friday, February 8

Congress just mandated the production of 36 billion gallons of bio-ethanol for transport fuel by 2022.
But is the current selection of bio-fuels a net good for our planet?
It's complicated, to say the least (and I'm not even getting into the economics of government mandates like that here). Excerpt:

The new studies examine a different part of biofuel equation, and both suggest that the emissions associated with the crops may be even worse than that.

One analysis looks at land that is switched to biofuel crop production. Carbon will be released when forests are felled or bush cleared, and longer-term emissions created by dead roots decaying.

This creates what Joseph Fargione of The Nature Conservancy and colleagues call a "carbon debt". Emissions savings generated by the biofuels will help pay back this debt, but in some cases this can take centuries, suggests their analysis.

If 10,000 square metres of Brazilian rainforest is cleared to make way for soya beans – which are used to make biodiesel – over 700,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide is released.

The saving generated by the resulting biodiesel will not cancel that out for around 300 years, says Fargione. In the case of peat land rainforest in Indonesia, which is being cleared to grow palm oil, the debt will take over 400 years to repay, he says.

Wednesday, February 6

Super Tuesday woke me from my mild election stupor a little bit, and I paid more attention to the primaries since I found out Ron Paul was a little too skeptical on evolution and finally convinced me he was crazy...
I watched some returns, saw CNN make some early predictions, and got to hear Huckabee, Romney, and Clinton preach to their choirs a bit.
Interesting similarities between Clinton and Romney - both talking about responsibility in the same breath as promising a new bevy of goodies for us. Romney says we shouldn't look to Washington to solve all our problems just before offering to do so. Hillary talks about fiscal responsibility before listing a bunch of programs more expensive than anything in American history.
Call me skeptical about these solve all problem attitudes...

Saturday, January 26

Part of the Problem: According to the Beverage Marking Corporation, carbonated soft drinks account for one-third of total U.S. beverage consumption--more than bottled and tap water combined. A recent Boston University study (with 10 years of data collection) suggests that middle-aged individuals who drink one or more sodas per day were twice as likely to develop "metabolic syndrome"--a set of risk factors leading to heart disease and diabetes. (PDF link to Cleveland Clinic Magazine.)

Tuesday, January 22

Harry Shearer: 'The theft of US nuclear secrets, the diverting of them to Pakistan (and, according to Edmonds, Saudi Arabia), the involvement of Israel in the scheme -- all of these would justify as jaw-droppingly newsworthy in a rational journalistic universe. Clearly, that's not where we live.'

Monday, January 21

Aside from my concerns of claustrophobia, catching strange airborne diseases, sinking, questionable labor practices, food consumption logistics and freshness, and my complete failure to grasp the appeal of cruise ship vacations, there's another thing to worry about: sewage.

Friday, January 18

Norway is attempting to go "carbon neutral" by 2030 by reducing emissions at home and investing abroad in environmental projects that will give the country CO2 reduction credits.

Sunday, January 13

'Like other impoverished urban neighborhoods, Clay/Arsenal was entirely devoid of good quality food stores, and their residents experienced hunger, obesity, and diabetes at rates that were two to three times the national average. This group was comprised exclusively of Hispanic and African American residents. ... the group expressed an immediate consensus that fresh, inexpensive food -- the food they generally preferred -- was unavailable in their neighborhood. Everyone agreed that traveling to a full-line supermarket was a hassle because it required one or two long bus rides or an expensive taxi fare.'

Thursday, January 10

Jim Kunstler is a cynical poet: 'On the ground out in the heartland, in the anxiety-drenched, over-valued beige subdivisions of California and the ennui-saturated pastel McHousing tracts of Florida (not to mention the pathetic vinyl outlands of Cleveland and Detroit) a mighty keening welled forth as mortgage rates adjusted upward, and loans stopped "performing," and "for sale" signs failed to turn up buyers, and sheriff's deputies showed up with the rolls of yellow foreclosure tape, and actual ownership of the re-poed collateral entered a legal twilight zone somewhere north of the Florida State Teacher's Pension Fund and south of the Norwegian Municipal Councils' investment portfolios. What a mighty goddam mess was left out there by the boyz at the Wall Street genius desks, who engineered a magical system for eliminating risk from the capital markets -- only to see it leak back in from a million holes and seams and collapse the greatest bubble ever blown.'

Wednesday, January 9

'A new survey of U.S. adults who don't go to church, even on holidays, finds 72% say "God, a higher or supreme being, actually exists." But just as many (72%) also say the church is "full of hypocrites."'

Thursday, January 3

Don't we all love arbitrary milestones? Turns out the 'historic' event of a $100 per barrel oil price was caused by a single trader on a vanity mission.

Wednesday, January 2

Actual analysis of the differences in the policies - both proposals, and even outlook - between Obama and Clinton. Shocking! Actual analysis of candidates ideas!