Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Fafblog rides again!

The Medium Lobster's take on the Kick-me Democrats:

Once the proud torchbearer of noble causes like World War I and the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Democratic Party has recently become a nagging voice of doubt, questioning America's burning need to invade nonexistent threats and torture dangerously muslim cab drivers. Now the party's deranged lust for the rule of law has gone too far, as they push for congressional hearings on George Bush's illegal wiretap program. No doubt Harry Reid and his cronies think they might make some petty partisan hay out of the president officially placing himself above the law, but nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, Bush's extralegal vigilance will only remind voters of the integrity and competence the president has displayed throughout his handling of national security, from his swift dismantling of Saddam's weapons of mass imagination to his candor regarding the legalization of strictly hypothetical torture. Do the likes of John Kerry really want to face down the mastermind behind the Iraq War armed with nothing more than two hundred years' worth of checks and balances?
It helps to laugh. Really.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Kos calls bullshit: on Dean critics

In the din of posts at Daily Kos, I occasionally feel the need to single one out. Here is a defense of Howard Dean that I feel the need to call out — Calling bullshit: anonymous, cowardly beltway insiders

Republicans built their local parties, Dems let theirs atrophy. Finally, someone at the helm realizes that we are a national party and need to rebuild from the ground up. Finally, someone at the helm is providing resources and attention to those locals to build a counterbalance to the GOP's national machine.

And such rebuilding costs money. But in the long run, this is how you build a national party.
I hope Kos is right. I certainly like what I hear from Dean and I do no agree with the critics, like the Daily Howler, who are quick with the harsh criticism. Dean needs to upset more than a few people if he's doing his job. The fact that Dean critics will get media play just speaks to that Dao triangle again...

A new blog on the Bernal scene

There's a new blog in Bernal, and they are trying to stop a foolish plan to reduce after hour loiterubg at Bernal Hill park by blockading the most heavily used corner of the park. Check out this post -
Acting out for safety (and fun too!)

Save these dates to help rally support and raise money for a fair planning process and new plan for the top of Bernal Heights Park:

Planning and Preview Demonstration, Saturday, 2/4/06, 7 am to 10 am at the top of Bernal Heights Boulevard at the section which Tom Ammiano and his special cohorts want to close. Check it out for a surprise. We need help to prepare materials for the rally the following Saturday.

RALLY - Demonstrate against this unsafe plan - Saturday, 2/11/06 - 11 am to 1 pm. Our supporters will gather to demonstrate what will happen to the park and Bernal Heights Boulevard if Tom Ammiano’s ill-conceived plan goes ahead.w
Normally I'm opposed to obstructionist neighbors trying to get in the way of progress. But in this case I think they're trying to get in the way of a really stupid idea. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I guess.

Kick Me, I'm a Democrat - Michael Kinsley

More musing on Dao's triangle, this time in an article by Michael Kinsley, Kick Me, I'm a Democrat - The game politicians play:
It seems to be time once again to play Kick the Democrats. Everyone can play, including Democrats. The rules are simple. When Republicans lose elections, it is because they didn't get enough votes. When Democrats lose elections, it is because they have lost their principles and lost their way. Or they have kept their principles, which is an even worse mistake.
Just remember, ignorance is strength

Canadian miners rescued

Looks like Canada has not found it necessary to abandon their commitment to mine safety. Trapped Canadian miners rescued

Rescuers in Canada have brought to the surface all of the 72 miners forced to take refuge in safety rooms after a fire broke out at their mine.
Could the contrast to our recent mine disasters be any clearer, any more stark?

Planning the defence against Bush's health care reforms

Josh Marshall was perhaps the most important blogging voice raised against Bush's Social Security privitization scheming. So he has my ear when he speaks up against pending Bush plans on health care "reform": our over-insurance problem!

Health care policy is an immensely complicated issue. And that complexity can sometimes be a cover for politicians pushing policies that would screw most families. In this case, however, the president and his supporters have done everyone the favor is simplifying what they're up to and what they want to do.

The president thinks you're over-insured. He thinks you have too much health insurance.

Add water and stir ...
Read the whole post and get ready. More and bigger bamboozelments awaits us.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Stick it to the man with your very own RFID-Zapper

Another Engadget curio. This one is oddly comforting to me: Stick it to the man with your very own RFID-Zapper:

it's fun to see some of the more paranoid types take matters into their own hands and kill those privacy invaders dead with the RFID-Zapper, a hacked up disposable camera that delivers an EMP of sorts to unsuspecting RFID tags, sending them to that great inventory management system in the sky.
It's nice to know that future fascist states won't be able to rely too much on RFID tags, not if we can bear arms like this to neutralize them. I wonder if the new RFID passports are designed with something like this in mind?

The $8700 oven for me

A sublimely ridiculous gadget noted on Engadget

the TMIO oven can be controlled from any Internet-enabled device (your cellphones, your PDAs, your PSPs) or touch-tone phone, which makes it super-handy for last-minute schedule-shuffling or for blowing up your house from afar if the Feds catch wind of that scam you're running. And even if it makes crappy food, how can you fully hate on any appliance that sports a 6.8-inch touchscreen LCD?
There are many reasons I want to spend a lot of money on a dream double oven. Web-connectedness is not one of them.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Where my head is at these days

What I can't get enough of:

What I can't bear to watch:

TPMCafe || Poe and Dowd

Following on the heels of the Dao's Triangle post, check out this one by Reed Hundt skewering Maureen Dowd: Poe and Dowd

But Ms. Dowd wants to walk on the left side of the street, or to have us think she belongs there along with her readers, while at the same time accepting the other side's personal attacks on the left as the starting point for her mockery. So when Ms. Dowd automatically criticizes Hillary Clinton now, we can apprehend that if Senator Clinton runs for President she can depend on Maureen Dowd to pound on her, while letting the Frists/McCains/Jebs get off comparatively easy. Yes, Ms. Dowd is entitled to mock, and she's as good at it as anyone in America, but shouldn't she swing at all the pitches and not just those thrown by left-handers?
Score another one for the netroots crowd!

Kinky - A Texan worth voting for

I'm with Debbie on this one. Kinky Friedman sounds like a breath of fresh air.

I Might Just Have to Move to Texas So I Can Vote for This Guy!

Friedman has at times spoken irreverently about Jesus. Does he worry that religious voters in the very religious state of Texas might be offended? 'Well, I just said that Jesus and I were both Jewish and that neither of us ever had a job, we never had a home, we never married and we traveled around the countryside irritating people,' says Friedman. 'Now, if that's comparing myself to Jesus, I don't really think it is. But, the Jesus in my heart is a Jesus with a sense of humor. And, personally, I think he's enjoyin' my campaign as much as anybody right now. I think he is.'
Run Kinky, Run!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The ecnonomic goodness of reefs and mangroves

Reports of a UN report on the economic value of coral reef and tropical mangrove habitats percolated up in a few of my favorite web watering holes. The BBC offered a nice overview in Coral, mangroves good for economy

Coral reefs and mangroves are worth protecting for economic reasons, contributing as much as $1m per sq km to tropical economies.
Another synopsis appears over on WorldChanging: The $1 Million per Square Kilometer Solution
The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami affirmed -- in a terrible way -- the value of mangroves and coral reefs to save human lives. But our history shows over and over that some influential forces in the world hold life relatively cheap. UNEP's new report does the math: balancing the wealth mangroves and coral reefs generate against the income and resources lost when they're destroyed proves that saving them makes overwhelming economic sense.
The full report is found here (PDF).

Daou's "Triangle"

Kos caught my eye with this emphatic recommendation of a Dao Report post:

This essay by Peter Daou, formerly Kerry's netroots guru, may be the most important thing I've read in a long time.
So I followed the link and drank it in.

The Triangle: Matthews, Moore, Murtha, and the Media
What's the common thread running through the past half-decade of Bush's presidency? What's the nexus between the Swift-boating of Kerry, the Swift-boating of Murtha, and the guilt-by-association between Democrats and terrorists? Why has a seemingly endless string of administration scandals faded into oblivion? Why do Democrats keep losing elections? It's this: the traditional media, the trusted media, the "neutral" media, have become the chief delivery mechanism of potent anti-Democratic and pro-Bush storylines. And the Democratic establishment appears to be either ignorant of this political quandary or unwilling to fight it.
He concludes wtih:
Progressive bloggers and the millions of online activists whose conversations they shepherd are fighting to close the triangle. Sadly, Democrats will resist, out of fear. And the press will fight back, hard. Not to mention the anticipated wrath of the rightwing machine, built on the 'liberal media' myth. Still, the latent power of the netroots is ignored at the political and media establishment's peril.
Let's not forget that the post-Goldwater Republican party spent decades wandering in the wilderness (OK, maybe not wandering in the wilderness, but...) before they were able to wash away the ancien regime and replace it with... our current affliction.

So maybe there is a lack of perspective and a rash impatience in the netroots crowd. Maybe it will take more time than anyone wants to imagine. Maybe a whole new generation of politicians will have to work their way up and replace the dated, clue-imparied Democratic leadership.

I hope not.

Observing Earth

A pair of disheartening reports about the health of the planet arrived today. This report grabbed headlines all over: 2005 Was The Warmest Year In A Century

The year 2005 may have been the warmest year in a century, according to NASA scientists studying temperature data from around the world.

Climatologists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City noted that the highest global annual average surface temperature in more than a century was recorded in their analysis for the 2005 calendar year.

Some other research groups that study climate change rank 2005 as the second warmest year, based on comparisons through November. The primary difference among the analyses, according to the NASA scientists, is the inclusion of the Arctic in the NASA analysis. Although there are few weather stations in the Arctic, the available data indicate that 2005 was unusually warm in the Arctic.
Another one that caught my eye -- but went unnoticed in the news outlets I visited -- was this news about China's purple haze: Are Clouds Darkening China?
China has darkened over the past half-century. Where has all the sunshine gone? The usual suspect, at least to a climatologist, would be cloud cover.

But in the most comprehensive study to date of overcast versus cloud-free days in China, a team led by the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, reporting in the current advance online issue of Geophysical Research Letters, has found that cloud cover has been decreasing for the past 50 years.

Eliminating clouds from the dimming equation now leaves little doubt that human activity, in the form of a nine-fold increase in fossil fuel emissions over the same half-century period, has entrenched China in a foggy haze that absorbs and deflects the sun’s rays.
The two stories are more closely linked than you might think. The exponential rise in fossil fuel burning in the developing world, especially China, figures to be a major component in the anthropogenic warming of the earth.

As foreboding as this all sounds, I can't help but think back to earlier gloomy environmental forecasts of the '70s. You'll remember when Earth's population was exploding in a Malthusian singularity? When all indicators pointed to unimaginable population cataclysms as we grew beyond the earth's carrying capacity? Now, unexpectedly, economic development and increased education -- especially among poor women -- curbed population growth and left us with unexpected possibilities.

Worth remembering as we face down the barrel of climate change. We can learn. We can adapt and make good, informed, transformative choices. We can change when our survival is at stake. Malthus could continue to be as wrong as ever.

Kevin Drumm's FISA Update

So hard to keep track on the Hydra headed mendacity of the Bushies. But we must.


I'm still confused about a number of things, but as near as I can tell here's the state of play on the NSA's domestic spying program:
  1. The administration has acknowledged that the NSA program violated the FISA act. However, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales argues that the Authorization for Use of Military Force, passed shortly after 9/11, superseded FISA.
  2. Yesterday, General Michael Hayden said that the reason they had to bypass FISA was because it required a showing of 'probable cause' that the target of a wiretap request was a foreign power (i.e., either a terrorist organization or a foreign state). That standard was apparently too difficult to meet in many cases.
  3. As Glenn Greenwald reports today, in 2002 congressman Mike DeWine introduced an amendment to FISA that would have retained probable cause as the standard for U.S. persons (i.e., citizens or foreigners with permanent residency) but lowered it to 'reasonable suspicion' for non-U.S. persons.
  4. Congress refused to pass DeWine's amendment. This makes it plain that Congress did not intend for AUMF to loosen the restrictions of FISA.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

It's Happening

We're not a fast blog. We're not a slow blog. We're a half fast blog... (Borrowed from a trivet that used to hang on my Mom's kitchen wall, along with all the other kitch she loved!)

Here's a story that is already yesterday's news. But it is huge. It has the potential to totally change the game. And John Battelle was onto it long before the fetid idea ever crept from the bowels of Bush's DOJ. Don't Look Now, But It's Happening

From my book, written a year or so ago:

As we move our data to the servers at Amazon.com, Hotmail.com, Yahoo.com, and Gmail.com, we are making an implicit bargain, one that the public at large is either entirely content with, or, more likely, one that most have not taken much to heart.

That bargain is this: we trust you to not do evil things with our information. We trust that you will keep it secure, free from unlaw- ful government or private search and seizure, and under our control at all times. We understand that you might use our data in aggregate to provide us better and more useful services, but we trust that you will not identify individuals personally through our data, nor use our personal data in a manner that would violate our own sense of privacy and freedom.
If you go to one place to follow this unfolding story, go to SearchBlog. Here are some other posts of his on this topic:
What's the Big Deal?
More On The Slippery Slope
MSN: What We Gave the Govt.
Yahoo's Jeremy Is Disappointed, I'm Bewildered

Hell, I use google and gmail all the time. Blogger publishes this modest Jones O mine. You bet I care about this one.

It really is time to re-read 1984. Scary times.

Universe Today - Self-Repairing Spacecraft

This is cool: Self-Repairing Spacecraft

After launch, spacecraft are on their own. They have no way to repair damage from the tiny micrometeorites that inevitably chip away at them. But now researchers at ESA are working on a protective seal that could give spacecraft a self-healing mechanism. This seal is made of glass fibres containing an adhesive material. Once a meteorite pierces the glass coating, the liquid adhesive and a separate hardener flow out to seal the wound and then turn solid.
Now if it only offered some radiation shielding too...

Daily Howler: Today's New York Times describes the progress of an admirable parent

I read the Daily Howler for politics, and recently for his education coverage. So it was unexpected to hear him talking about pop physics books

Hurrah! Normally, reviewers feel they have to pretend that books like this are amazingly readable. In fact, most modern Einstein-made-easy type books are, in large part, incoherent. But reviewers typically rush to say that the books are quite easy to manage.
This rings so true. I've had the challenge of explaining modern physics to my daughter, starting from an early age. So I've tried to find accessible texts, and clear explanations for various obtuse physical truths. It really is not easy. Rocket science would be easy. Explaining special relativity? Two choices: incoherent or unintelligible.

I did hear about this very cool "open" e-book physics text that I can't wait to share with my kids: Motion Mountain, "The Free Physics Textbook" Looks promising...

Monday, January 23, 2006

Cult of Bernal

A little local flavor, in the form of a Real Estate section article on the cult of Bernal

A few years ago when we bought our home in Bernal Heights, a hill of mostly little worker cottages, topped by an undeveloped park space with a giant radio antenna, I knew many things about the neighborhood. I knew I was within walking distance of two friends' houses, a cafe and a grocery store. That there was a library nearby and a lot of sleepy-eyed parents pushing strollers. I even knew that spring was marked by winds howling in from the Pacific.

What I didn't know was that we'd joined a cult.
17 years ago we moved here for the village feel of the place. It's still here, even if the place bears no demographic resemblance to its old self. I guess it is some self-perpetuating, self-fulfilling trait of the hood. Ingrained into the built environment. We live in a walkable neighborhood, packed in on top of each other. You have no choice but to get to know your neighbors. What can I say, I really like it. Still.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Don't forget the cheese

On a lighter note, New Scientist brings us this useful info: Vintage or vile, wine is all the same after cheese

Next time you are organising a cheese and wine party, don't waste your money on quality wine. Cheese masks the subtle flavours that mark out a good wine, so your guests won't be able to tell that you are serving them cheap stuff.

Retired military ask Bush to ban torture

Found a link to this story on TalkLeft: Retired military ask Bush to ban torture

Twenty-two high-level retired military officers expressed their concern in a letter to the White House Thursday that the new anti-torture law will not be enforced.

When U.S. President George W. Bush in December signed the law banning cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of detainees championed by Sen. John McCain R-Ariz., he did so with a caveat: As commander-in-chief, he can waive the limits when he deems necessary for national security.

The generals and admirals who signed the letter Thursday, including a former four-star commander of Central Command, said the issue is less about the detainees as it is about the values that the military holds dear.

TPM - Just a question

Just a question

Back in 1988, then-Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-GA) launched his jihad against House Speaker Jim Wright over his infamous book deal -- an arrangement which, while by no means kosher, seems almost quaint by today's standards.

Wright was eventually forced to resign the speakership in May of 1989.

Did Gingrich base his crusade on pushing for tighter rules on book deals?

Can we learn something from this?

Friday, January 20, 2006

What he said

TPM reviews Gore's speach

The basic structure of our Republic really is in danger from a president who militantly insists that he is above the law.

Friday, January 13, 2006

BBC shines some light

A pair of headlines from the BBC that you won't see in the US press:

Europe 'complicit over CIA jails'

A Swiss senator carrying out an inquiry into claims the CIA has run illegal secret detention centres in Europe has said he has no doubt they exist.

Dick Marty accused the US of violating human rights and attacked European nations for their 'shocking' passivity in the face of such violations.
Spain defies US on Venezuela deal
Spain has said it will go ahead with the sale of 12 military planes to Venezuela despite US objections.

Ingsoc National ID law SNAFU

Ars Technica reports on another front in facism's assault on the republic: National ID law poses unique technological challenges

State government officials claim that implementing the Real ID Act within the federal government's established timeline is technologically impossible. Passed in May of 2005, the Real ID Act creates a set of uniform standards for state-issued ID cards, and mandates the construction of a centralized national identification database that will contain the personal information of every citizen in America.

Condemned as a wasteful and self-defeating piece of reactionary legislation, critics argue that the Real ID Act will make it easier for criminals to perpetrate identity theft while actively degrading national security rather than improving it. The burden of implementation has been placed entirely on state government agencies as a dreaded "unfunded mandate," none of which have the resources or personel required to fulfill the requirements of the ill-concieved law.
War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength

Harry on Sam

Since every blog must run an Alito post, here's mine, courtesy of Laura Rosen: Harry Reid on Alito

Senate Minority leader Harry Reid statement on conclusion of the Alito nomination hearings: "I have followed the Alito hearings closely. ...Unfortunately, Judge Alito’s responses did little to address my serious concerns about his 15-year judicial record. I have not forgotten that Judge Alito was only nominated after the radical right wing of the President's party forced Harriet Miers to withdraw. The right wing insisted that Justice O'Connor be replaced with a sure vote for their extreme agenda. Four days of hearings have shown that Judge Alito is no Sandra Day O'Connor. Senate Democrats will meet next week to discuss the nomination."
Unfortunately, they can meet and discuss all they like. Until we elect more Democrats, there ain't much they can actually do.

GCC: $2.9 Billion Solar Energy

Green Car Congress reports some good news: California PUC Adopts $2.9 Billion Solar Energy Initiative

The California Public Utilities Commission today voted to adopt a $2.9-billion plan designed to add 3,000 MW of solar capacity to homes and buildings in California by 2017. This is the largest solar program of its kind in any state in the country.[...]

The target of 3,000 MW is roughly equivalent to the output of six large power plants, or enough to serve 2.3 million people. Currently, the entire US has about 397 MW of solar energy capacity in place, according to the EIA—the smallest amount of the major renewable sources of power generation.
10x the current installed base? We will see if this yields the expected build out. SF passed bonds intended to spur a whole lot of renewable energy installations. I was happy to vote for it. But language in the bond requiring that each project be economically viable has thus far meant that almost nothing has been built. This fund will definitely grow. The question is who will build what and when.

Abu Aardvark: Dorrance Smith recess appointment

Remember the small note about Bush making some recess appointments? Seemed pretty fishy. Sure enough, Abu Aardvark fills us in on one of them with, : Dorrance Smith recess appointment

Dorrance Smith has received one of George Bush's precious recess appointments. How exciting!

We now have as Assistant Secretary of Defence for Public Affairs a man who is on record as describing (without offering any evidence) al-Jazeera as having 'a working arrangement [with terrorists] that extends beyond a modus vivendi'. It's almost as if the Secretary of Defence specifically wanted to neutralize a potentially effective, reality-based State Department-housed public diplomacy which included an outreach to al-Jazeera.
Whatever the reason for the recess appointment of a proven incompetent political hack (who evidently couldn't even get through a Republican-controlled Senate) to this crucial position, it's a dark day for America's public diplomacy efforts in the Arab world.
How comforting...

BBC - global vulture alert

I've been reading about this story for years. At first it was a mystery. Now we know what is happening: Study sounds global vulture alert

A widely used livestock pain killer could endanger the survival of vultures around the world, researchers suggest.

The rapid decline of Indian vulture populations has been blamed on the use of the drug diclofenac to treat inflammation in cattle.
This one seems so fixable. The damned cows don't even need the meds. We just have to stop administering it. One nation at a time if necessary.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

GI Schmo - How low can Army recruiters go? By Fred Kaplan

Fred Kaplan returns to form with: GI Schmo - How low can Army recruiters go? By Fred Kaplan

Three months ago, I wrote that the war in Iraq was wrecking the U.S. Army, and since then the evidence has only mounted, steeply. Faced with repeated failures to meet its recruitment targets, the Army has had to lower its standards dramatically. First it relaxed restrictions against high-school drop-outs. Then it started letting in more applicants who score in the lowest third on the armed forces aptitude test...
So if I'm reading this correctly, our high tech army requires high calibre recruits. Dim bulbs just don't catch on, and gunk up the works pretty badly. Now we are relying on dimmer and dimmer bulbs to meet recruiting targets. Great. Just great.

NYT - Centrist Recasts Warming Debate

One less shred of doubt. Another informed scientist joining the consensus: With Findings on Storms, Centrist Recasts Warming Debate

Professor Emanuel asserted often that no firm link had been established between warming and the intensity and frequency of hurricanes.

But in August, two weeks before Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, Professor Emanuel wrote in the journal Nature that he had discovered statistical evidence that hurricanes were indeed affected by global warming. He linked the increased intensity of storms to the heating of the oceans.

'His paper has had a fantastic impact on the policy debate,' said Stephen Schneider, a climatologist at Stanford. 'Emanuel's this conservative, apolitical guy, and he's saying, 'Global warming is real.' '"

Hitchens?? The Bush Bombshell

It's been a long while since I've enjoyed reading anything Chistopher Hitchens has to say. So this is refreshing, in a scary sort of way:
The Bush Bombshell - Did the president propose to take out Al Jazeera? By Christopher Hitchens

...Al Jazeera is not describable, perhaps, as a strictly objective station, but it is the main source of news in the Arab world because it is not the property of any state or party, and it has given live and unedited coverage of things like the elections in Iraq. In 2001, its office in Afghanistan was destroyed by 'smart' bombs. In 2003, its correspondent in Baghdad was killed in an American missile strike. If it becomes widely believed that it has been or is being targeted, the consequences in the region will be rather more than Karen Hughes' 'public diplomacy' can handle.
As with the Downing Street Memos before them, these leaked memos and the trails that stem from the leaks figure to be our best way of learning any iota of truth about Bush and his imperial court.

Time to clean up the neighborhood

TPM nails it: clean up the neighborhood

When you want to clean up the neighborhood, there's generally very little you can accomplish until you get the actual criminals off the streets. Once that's done, you can knock down the abandoned buildings, reseed the park, refound the neighborhood watch organization, whatever.

But the true, immediate and overriding problem with a crime-infested neighborhood is the criminals.

Congress, and thus the country, faces a similar predicament.
Lobbying reform is not the answer.

Daily Kos: More King George

"Seriously, why doesn't King George just dissolve Congress and get it over with."

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Atrios - Murdock and MySpace

Atrios posted this quick bit on MySpace: Idiots

Murdoch empire buys Myspace, and then destroys it.

It's simple technology. It can be easily duplicated. They bought a community, not a platform, and the community will scatter when you start censoring stuff...
And in kinda sorta related news, Hanna, on her own, decided to pull the plug on MySpace. Deleted her profile. Gone. Sucking too much time. Too muc of a distration.

I wish I had her self discipline. But here I am...

MS says "yes masta"

Another money-addicted tech company lines up — along with Yahoo, Cisco... — in service to fascism. Microsoft Shuts Blog's Site After Complaints by Beijing

Friedman on going green

More often than not these days, I don't like what I hear from Thomas Friedman. So it's nice to find one I one I can thoroughly get behind: The New Red, White and Blue(NYTSelect link, sorry)

As we enter 2006, we find ourselves in trouble, at home and abroad. We are in trouble because we are led by defeatists - wimps, actually.

What's so disturbing about President Bush and Dick Cheney is that they talk tough about the necessity of invading Iraq, torturing terror suspects and engaging in domestic spying - all to defend our way of life and promote democracy around the globe.

But when it comes to what is actually the most important issue in U.S. foreign and domestic policy today - making ourselves energy efficient and independent, and environmentally green - they ridicule it as something only liberals, tree-huggers and sissies believe is possible or necessary.

Sorry, but being green, focusing the nation on greater energy efficiency and conservation, is not some girlie-man issue. It is actually the most tough-minded, geostrategic, pro-growth and patriotic thing we can do. Living green is not for sissies. Sticking with oil, and basically saying that a country that can double the speed of microchips every 18 months is somehow incapable of innovating its way to energy independence - that is for sissies, defeatists and people who are ready to see American values eroded at home and abroad.

Living green is not just a 'personal virtue,' as Mr. Cheney says. It's a national security imperative.

WorldChanging - Pay-Per-Mile Car Insurance

I like this idea! Pay-Per-Mile Car Insurance: It's Coming.

How can you reward yourself for driving less? Or how can you make the costs people pay more closely match their impact on the world?

Car costs are largely divorced from car usage. Sure, you pay for gas as you drive, but for most cars, the average driver pays about as much for insurance as they do for gas; then there's the car's purchase price and maintenance. [...], insurance means being stuck with a fixed cost, no matter how much or how little you drive.

Well, not anymore. At least not in some places. Pay-Per-Mile, or Pay-As-You-Drive ('PAYD') insurance means that your insurance payments are based on how much you drive. Such plans have cropped up in places like the UK, Japan, and even a few US states.
This could have a big impact. I know I really want to join City Car Share and get down to just one car, using transit to get to work. But the economics don't yet work. (And might not until I'm working in the city.) PAYD insurance could change the economics for car sharing in a big way.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

1-click World Peace

Leapfrog shuts down for the holiday week. I have all this free time (not). What a great chance to dig into my many projects and do some extra blogging right? Funny how it did not work out that way.

My lesson in blogging zen: the most peace I've found in recent days was when I visited my bloglines subscriptions and clicked the "mark all read" link.
1200+ unread blog posts... gone. aaahhhh....