Monday, December 31, 2007

The scandal-infested Bush administration

officials in scandal:

scandals (293! Is that a record?):

Let's just zip through 2008 so we can get a new president and congress that much sooner.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Food supplies dwindling, prices rising

"Diouf blamed a confluence of recent supply and demand factors for the crisis, and he predicted that those factors were here to stay. On the supply side, these include the early effects of global warming, which has decreased crop yields in some crucial places, and a shift away from farming for human consumption toward crops for biofuels and cattle feed. Demand for grain is increasing with the world population, and more is diverted to feed cattle as the population of upwardly mobile meat-eaters grows."

* * * *

There's a strange confluence of things working against each other; rising oil prices, global warming, rising population, more wealth (meaning more who can pay for food), etc. This is going to take some smart people to figure out.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

the US is not the US I grew up in

We torture people now. The president supports it. Congress is too wimpy to stop it.
When I was growing up all the movies made it clear that it was the Enemy who tortured. Never us. That was one way you could tell we were the Good Guys.
Then my step father told a few things about his work as in intelligence specialist in the Green Berets in Vietnam and Laos. This was definitely torture. In fact, I'd say it was sadistic torture. So, maybe what the movies were showing was what we wanted to appear to be, not what we really were. It was at least our policy not to torture.
But now even our elected officials, and those running for office, support torture. They might not call it that, maybe they call it "enhanced interrogation methods" or something, but it's torture.
Things are changing for the worse in my country. I don't like it. I've gone to the streets to protest. And I'm trying to figure out what else can be done to change this de-evolution of the United States.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Alberta oil sands environmental disaster

I didn't know that Canada sends the US 2 million barrels of oil a day! Or that the US burns 44% of the world's output of gasoline. We suck.

Monday, December 3, 2007

government debt clearly explained: $1 million a minute!

Every person in the US owes $30,000 in government debt. You can laugh at your grandchildren now...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Friday, November 23, 2007

FINALLY: solar cheaper than coal?

Their mission: to deliver cost-efficient solar electricity. The Nanosolar company was founded in 2002 and is working to build the world’s largest solar cell factory in California and the world’s largest panel-assembly factory in Germany. They have successfully created a solar coating that is the most cost-efficient solar energy source ever. Their PowerSheet cells contrast the current solar technology systems by reducing the cost of production from $3 a watt to a mere 30 cents per watt. This makes, for the first time in history, solar power cheaper than burning coal...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

General says bring the troops home

The former top US military commander in Iraq says American troops should pull out by next year.

Lieutenant-General Ricardo Sanchez said he supported troop withdrawal legislation by the Democratic-controlled congress that calls for most US soldiers to be home within a year.

* * * *

The occupation of Iraq has lasted longer than WWII, cost the US thousands of lives and so far about $1/2 trillion. The US first allowed Iraq to be looted, then fired their technocrats, then fired their entire army, then refused to say when they'd end their occupation. Unemployment in Iraq is pegged at 40%. There's less electricity now than under Saddam. Untold numbers of Iraqis have been killed. Over 2 million have chosen to flee.
People say we can't leave now because things will go bad. What? You mean we've been doing good? We haven't exactly been good stewards, with $9 billion unaccounted for, and thousands of weapons missing that have probably gone straight to the insurgents. Iraq is one of the oldest countries in the world. I'll bet they can run their country better than we have.

Friday, November 16, 2007

are we already in a recession?

For two months, we have been tracking data points that we believe illustrate the changing environment. It's always possible that the worst is over, but these cycles usually take years, not months, to play out.

Innovation of the year; solar power; stick it anywhere!

Imagine a solar panel without the panel. Just a coating, thin as a layer of paint, that takes light and converts it to electricity. From there, you can picture roof shingles with solar cells built inside and window coatings that seem to suck power from the air. Consider solar-powered buildings stretching not just across sunny Southern California, but through China and India and Kenya as well, because even in those countries, going solar will be cheaper than burning coal. That’s the promise of thin-film solar cells: solar power that’s ubiquitous because it’s cheap. The basic technology has been around for decades, but this year, Silicon Valley–based Nanosolar created the manufacturing technology that could make that promise a reality. The company produces its PowerSheet solar cells with printing-press-style machines that set down a layer of solar-absorbing nano-ink onto metal sheets as thin as aluminum foil, so the panels can be made for about a tenth of what current panels cost and at a rate of several hundred feet per minute. With backing from Google’s founders and $20 million from the U.S. Department of Energy, Nanosolar’s first commercial cells rolled off the presses this year. ..

Friday, November 9, 2007

Thursday, November 8, 2007

oil demand rising as oil output declines

A recipe for disaster if ever there was one. Worldwide oil production decreasing as demand skyrockets...

"The IEA said that China and India will account for around 45 per cent of the increase in global primary energy demand through 2030, when the world's energy needs are expected to be well over 50 per cent higher than they are today.
The agency added that the two emerging economies' growing appetite for crude oil imports, predicted to quadruple by 2030, could create a "supply" crunch as early as 2015. "

And meanwhile...

"In just the past six months, however, the signs of an imminent peak in conventional oil production have become impossible even for conservative industry analysts to ignore. These have come from the take-no-prisoners world of oil pricing and deal-making, on the one hand, and the analysis of international energy experts, on the other."

Monday, November 5, 2007

Ikea will recycle your CFL's

I didn't know those energy-saving flourescent bulbs had mercury in them until I looked at the package on the last set I bought. Fortunately, there's not much in there, and now Ikea will take any burned out CFL's you may have for recycling. I hope you have an Ikea nearby...

Monday, October 22, 2007

oil production to decline by 7% per year,,2196435,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=networkfront

"The report presents a bleak view of the future unless a radically different approach is adopted. It quotes the British energy economist David Fleming as saying: "Anticipated supply shortages could lead easily to disturbing scenes of mass unrest as witnessed in Burma this month. For government, industry and the wider public, just muddling through is not an option any more as this situation could spin out of control and turn into a complete meltdown of society."
Mr Schindler comes to a similar conclusion. "The world is at the beginning of a structural change of its economic system. This change will be triggered by declining fossil fuel supplies and will influence almost all aspects of our daily life.""

Just as China, India, and other countries are gearing up to build more cars for their people, the amount of oil available is dropping. As far as I can see, prices for oil products will zoom up while shortages grow around the world. This could create tension between nations; producers having to decide which countries get their product, consumer countries arguing over who gets in line first.
I wonder where we'd be right now if Al Gore was in office?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

top 35 environmental blogs

Saturday, October 13, 2007

This is a great site to see what new innovations are available, or will soon be, to help get rid of our dependency on oil.

turbineless windmill!

This little vibrating generator looks like it has all kinds of applications besides just generating electricity from the wind. Plus it looks to be really cheap and technically simple to make.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A nice graph showing national debt/surplus worldwide

So China and Russia, the "communist" countries, have a huge surplus, while the UK and the US have the worst national debts. Kinda weird, huh?
I just can't get excited about being the largest debtor nation in the world. When I was young I was excited about the US being the leader in innovation, in space exploration, in democracy, in freedom. But now the things available to get excited about just aren't as much fun...

Monday, October 8, 2007

The declining international influence of the US

"For the US power elite, being on top of the world has been a habit for 60 years. Hegemony has been a way of life; empire, a state of being and of mind. The institutional realist critics of the Bush administration have no alternative conceptual framework for international relations, based on something other than force, the balance of power or strategic predominance. The present crisis and the deepening impact of global concerns will perhaps generate new impulses for cooperation and interdependence in future. Yet it is just as likely that US policy will be unpredictable: as all post-colonial experiences show, de-imperialisation is likely to be a long and possibly traumatic process."

recapturing CO2 from coal plant; and making products!

This is cool. A huge coal-fired powerplant in Arizona is testing a way to capture CO2 with algae, and even make viable products on the side! I hope this works.

Friday, October 5, 2007

lotsa oil in the Rockies?

This article quotes a Rand study that there are 800 billion barrels of oil available in the oil shale around the 3-corners area of Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah. In that case, it's just a matter of economically getting it out, and trying not to destroy the environment. I don't understand the problem, though, since Canada has been getting oil from shale for years.
Anyway, this potential for us to continue to rely on oil is not good, in my opinion. We should get off oil dependency as soon as possible to a cleaner more environmentally friendly source.,+alberta&ie=UTF8&ll=57.028727,-111.655898&spn=0.026205,0.093555&t=k&z=14&om=1
There you can look at the oil sands of Alberta and see if that looks environmentally friendly or not.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Every American is $30,000 in debt (government debt)

I guess it will take us a while to work this off, eh? Or we could just borrow more and let our grandchildren deal with it.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Future generations are saddled with our debts

With the U.S. government fast approaching its current $8.965 trillion credit limit, the Senate on Thursday gave final congressional approval of an $850 billion increase in U.S. borrowing authority.
* * * *

This money doesn't come out of thin air. It's borrowed. With interest due. We're saddling the next generation with a huge debt because of our fiscal irresponsibility. The one trillion dollars (let alone all the deaths and destroyed lives)thrown into Iraq isn't helping either.
Perhaps we need economists in Congress rather than lawyers.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

How you treat prisoners matters,,2174648,00.html

...Foley used his official position as passport control officer in the embassy to save thousands of Jews from the death camps. He helped Paul Rosbaud send his Jewish wife, Hilde, and their only daughter, Angela, to the safety of the UK. But Rosbaud, who worked as a scientific journalist, insisted on remaining in Germany to fight Hitler's regime from within.

Born in Graz in 1896, he served in the Austrian army during the first world war. Rosbaud's experience of being captured by British forces, and his appreciation of their civility, created an enduring impression.

* * * * * *

The UK got one of their best secret agents in World War II because they treated him fairly when he was a prisoner of theirs. Think about that. How many sworn enemies are we creating by how we treat prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, when we could be making a good impression instead.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

oil production to peak in 2010, while demand increases

If you have rising demand for oil from India, China, and elsewhere, at the same time that supply will start to dwindle, that is a problem.
A smart society would wean itself from oil in favor or renewable, less polluting energy resources. Is the US preparing for this change? Not fast enough, I don't think.

Friday, September 14, 2007

dollar collapse in sight?

The world is getting tired of financing our overspending. I never hear investment advisers and other experts comment on this. If no one buys our bonds, we'll have to make a very sudden belt-tightening maneuver that will be very painful. Or, we can raise our own interest rates, which will slow the economy. Thanks Bush for such wonderful choices!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

LA Times says; prepare for change! US is slipping

Like all empires before it, the U.S. will slip from the top of the heap. Let's start getting ready.
By David Rieff
September 9, 2007
In Washington these days, people talk a lot about the collapse of the bipartisan foreign policy consensus that existed during the Cold War. But however bitter today's disputes are about Iraq or the prosecution of the so-called global war on terrorism, there is one bedrock assumption about foreign policy that remains truly bipartisan: The United States will remain the sole superpower, and the guarantor of international security and global trade, for the foreseeable future. In other words, whatever else may change in the decades to come, the 21st century will be every bit as much of an American century as the 20th.

This assumption rests, in turn, on two interrelated beliefs.

The first is that because no country or alliance of states has shown any great desire to challenge U.S. preeminence -- or demonstrated the means of doing so -- no country is going to. China's interests are regional at most, the argument goes, and the European Union is too divided, too unwilling or too weak to rebuild its once-formidable military machine. As for Russia, believers in the durability of a world order anchored in Washington insist that its declining population and excessive reliance on its energy wealth will in the long run preclude it from playing a central role in global affairs.

The second is that the world needs the U.S. and appreciates the role it plays. (In some versions of this argument, the world needs the U.S. far more than the U.S. needs the world.) If there have been no serious challenges to American hegemony to date, it is asserted, it is because the U.S. provides what are referred to by foreign policy analysts as "global goods": It maintains political and economic stability around the world, it guarantees a democratic capitalist world order and, by virtue of its unparalleled military strength, it acts as a world policeman of last resort.
* * * *
Read the entire article...,0,7088267.story?track=mostviewed-storylevel

some useful links

Back Home Magazine

Back To Basics web site

Back Woods Home Magazine

Guide to Homeless Living













Saturday, September 8, 2007

New windpower system for your home?

Government subsidies would be nice.
There are solutions to what's wrong now. It takes interest, investigation, and implementation.

Monday, September 3, 2007

US not even in the top 10 of world democracies?

1. Sweden
2. Iceland
3. Netherlands
4. Norway
5. Denmark
6. Finland
7. Luxembourg
8. Australia
9. Canada
10. Switzerland

So... where is the US? Number 17.
The details of how this list was created are important, but for an influencial paper to leave out the US even from the top 15 is very telling that something is wrong here. shows their methodology.

Who is the prophet?

On This Week yesterday morning, George Will and Robert Reich gave completely different views of the future US economy:

Will: “I think we’re now in the 69th consecutive month of recovery, despite of the doom-sayers, one of which is sitting to my right. Uh - I think the economy will not be an issue because the economy is in terrific shape.”
Reich: “A recession is coming - and you can count on my words. Unfortunately.”

Which view is correct? I go with Reich.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Di Caprio's film "The 11th Hour"

I just saw Leonardo Di Caprio's film "the 11th Hour." I was actually disappointed in it, even though it had a lot of information. Maybe I just didn't like the style; talking heads of some kind of organization you've never heard of mixed in with 5 second blasts of interesting but disjointed videos of environmental stuff. Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" was mostly just Al standing there talking with some powerpoint thrown in, but I think it provided more useful information. "The 11th Hour" attempted to smash too much unsubstantiated (I don't think talking heads = proof) information into too little time and thus actually gave less.
Nevertheless, I think someone on the fence about the environment would have been swayed to see that something not only needs to be done, but can be done.
If I had made the movie, I'd have just had the biggest experts in simple terms explain the problem and how definitive it is (15 minutes) , then cover things that can be done (an hour), and then HOW we can get there from here (15 minutes).

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

SAT scores dive; prepare for change!

SAT scores reach a low.

By "prepare for change" I mean to just start thinking of the US as a declining country. When I was growing up, we were #1 in pretty much everything, including defense, technology, education, health care, you name it. My first inkling that something was wrong was Ronald Reagan. He promised to cut taxes AND increase defense spending. That could only be done with deficit spending, which he proceeded to do at an astonishing pace.
Next was a friend from Finland who told me in 1983 or so that Europe no longer looks up to the United States. That really surprised me.
The final straw was the current Bush administration. First he was just a lazy president, which is survivable. Then after 9/11 he became a crazy activist president, reacting in exactly the wrong way over the Twin Towers attacks. Bin Laden was a cult leader of a small band. Bush reacted as if the USSR had just dropped a nuke on us, and attacked 2 countries.
Bush and the republican congress went on a huge deficit spending spree again, on top of the war costs (about $500 billion so far). So now our military is worn down, our economy is weak, our infrastructure is crumbling, and our SAT scores are going down. My how times have changed. Prepare for them.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

So you think the US economy is healthy?

The US has spent its money on a military that is larger than ALL the other militaries in the world combined. And we still can't keep an army in Iraq.
The Bush administration has given huge tax cuts to the wealthy, thus starving the federal coffers. Meanwhile, it borrows like crazy, which means that this year we spend billions in interest that we wouldn't need to pay if we'd just pay-as-you-go in federal buying.
We need to strangle the military industrial complex, put that money toward the federal debt, drop the tax breaks for the rich, and start building up our infrastructure again.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

don't mix religion and politics

Helping to reduce heat island effect in cities

A replacement for asphalt is available that does not absorb the sun's energy like asphalt does. This can help reduce the "heat island" effect from cities' roads, parking areas, etc.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Things are About to Change

Time to change, my country. Be nice to other countries. Be nice to the environment. Make your own energy. Respect the law.