GO ‘BAMA! 

Last night Alabama did itself proud. It put country before party, something we all must do in the future if we are to save what’s left of this country’s democracy. I say, “save what’s left” because very serious damage has been done to our democratic institutions in recent years largely by the influence of conservative evangelist media like Limbaugh, Breitbart, Fox, and others, leading to the resultant general election disaster of 2016. But Alabama has done what few expected and offered up the first stone to lay in a new foundation for the restoration of reason in United States politics. Now we must each day never fail to lay our own stones. We must resist the haters. We must take the time to understand political issues. We must speak the truth as it is, not as we wish it was. We must all remember country before party, and we must never, never fail to vote in an election.

GO ‘BAMA!

Thank you.

-George-

Powerful Words

Michelle Goldman has assumed a columnist position at the New York Times. Gail Collins interviewed her today, September 25, in The Conversation (1). In an exchange related to the possibility that Trump may choose to follow a path to war, Goldman said:

Yeah, I think we’re learning that the Constitution may, in fact, be a suicide pact. It’s a source of constant astonishment to me that the country has handed over the means to destroy civilization on this planet to an unhinged lunatic who lost the popular vote and was installed with the aid of a hostile foreign power. It’s such an epic institutional failure that it calls everything we thought we knew about this country’s stability into question.

Very Powerful Words. It’s time for a constitutional convention, as scary as that may be in a country full of people and legislators that can put a person like Donald Trump in its top job.

Must read her first column tomorrow. (2)

-George-

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/column/the-conversation
  2.  Did. Wow.

Mary, Mary, To The Contrary

I read in The New York Times today that Mary Barra pushed back against China’s aggressive plan to ban the sale of gasoline powered automobiles. In her Shanghai speech, she said:

“I think it works best when, instead of mandating, customers are choosing
the technology that meets their needs,”
(1)

Shame, Mary. Shame. Should we permit customers to choose plutonium powered cars because they would only need refueling once every twenty years? Hey, convenient, quiet, zero emissions. I think not. It’s the old critical mass problem. We’ll probably agree that Governments should control that option. But, if you look at the alphabet soup of Climate Change (2) hurricane names in the Caribbean and the mess they have left (or will leave) behind,  you might think a few plutonium bombs had been loosed down there. That’s not the case, of course, but you know, I know you do, that gasoline powered cars are just slow atmospheric time bombs, and the timer has run out.

It certainly does not work best when customers are choosing their own automobile power technology if that choice chokes us in poison gases, fills the atmosphere with CO2, acidifies the ocean, and blows Florida and its neighbors to the south off the map. Your customers are not equipped to sort through the real facts, industrial propaganda, bullshit, and lies that surround matters like these. They’ve been trained well by Detroit and decognified by political evangelists. We need a some real leadership here. Leadership with brains, not what we have in Washington and Florida now.

How about this, let’s use up what gas cars we have for as long as they run, but make no more. Or not many more. It’s past time. Hell, Cuba did it. We can, too! China is right.

Or, maybe we could build a wall around the country to keep hurricanes out, and evolve leaves to breath CO2.

-George-

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/15/business/gm-china-ceo-gasoline.html?hpw&rref=automobiles&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=well-region&region=bottom-well&WT.nav=bottom-well
  2. In bold and capitalized for Rick Scott, who has trouble seeing or saying those words.

A Cloud Over The Sunshine State

I posted an article on this topic a day or two ago, and thought it missed the mark. Here’s a redo. I Blew the old one away.

My son lives in Sebring, Florida. As a result of Irma, he’ll be without power for about two weeks according to local power company folks. The Washington Post has a good article on the scope of the situation, (1) and CNN covers the cost of rebuilding traditional electrical utility infrastructure. (2) Both stories miss the point of my post here. That point is that this completely unnecessary mess is in the “Sunshine State”, a state in which everyone SHOULD be generating power on their business and home rooftops with solar panels for personal use, to share with neighbors in a microgrid, or to feed back into a conventional grid if that’s what one wants to do. But, because of regressive State regulations that protect utility interests, solar power has simply become too expensive to deploy. (3)

Many of the “shoulda-been” rooftop installations would certainly have been damaged by Irma, but many would have made it through just fine. How many people would be cool and comfortable tonight running on their Powerwalls (4) while repair crews from as far away as Michigan work around the clock to patch up Florida’s coal and gas fired grid so it can work until the next storm comes rolling in and they can do it all over again? Would the twelve who died in a hot nursing home still be alive? (5) We don’t know, but we do know that not having strong governmental policies and incentives promoting the rapid conversion to decentralized microgrid or personal solar power in Florida is simply foolish — unless you own a coal or gas power plant — or unless those folks pay your political office campaign bills.

Something to think about very seriously if you are a Floridian when the next election opportunity comes about. There is something you can do.

-George-

  1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/09/12/florida-struggles-with-top-job-in-irmas-wake-restoring-power-to-millions/
  2. http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/14/us/underground-power-lines-trnd/index.html
  3. http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-no-solar-20140810-story.html
  4. https://www.tesla.com/powerwall
  5. Updated Sep 29, 2017. https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/hurricane-irma/florida-nursing-home-death-toll-rises-twelve-after-irma-knocked-n805846

Hot Out There

I’m trying to get back on track. I have really tried to stay away from U. S. politics lately. I tend to “lose it” when I consider the tragic silliness emanating from Washington these days. I mean, what can you say? Nothing. What can you do? A lot, and vote. So, less saying and more doing, and on to the topic of the day.

USA Today reported that Ahvaz, Iran experienced 129 degree temperatures today (1). That may be a record.

I have come to regard internal combustion powered cars I see on the road as principly CO2 generation plants. About 75% of what they do while running is create waste heat, and, of course, the CO2 associated with that process. Something like 25% of the energy used goes into moving the car, and the CO2 related to even that would be bad enough.

This week I went out to buy a pickup truck to use while we are building our new house. I test drove one, a fairly new Chevy Colorado. It was a nice work truck, but in the end, I couldn’t do it. In my mind, I could see over 108 basic 19th century (yep, 19th) parts flailing around inside the engine pumping out CO2 as I would drive it for non-essential purposes.

But, we need two cars. We just passed our Chevy Volt on to a son, and our new Tesla Model 3 won’t be here until late this year, if then. So, I hopped on the CarMax web site and looked for a used Chevrolet Spark EV. Guess what, there are a few (2), all in California, of course. So, I ordered one shipped to Ohio. It’s not a pickup, but it will do all the milk runs. We’ll rent a pickup if we need it. And I think I already have a home for the Spark when the Tesla arrives. Cool on a hot day, I think.

More doing, less saying.

-George-

  1. https://www.usatoday.com/story/weather/2017/06/29/129-degrees-iran-earths-hottest-temperature-ever-recorded/440644001/#
  2. https://www.carmax.com/cars/chevrolet/spark-ev/

The Three Stooges

When I started this blog I really wanted to be as respectful as I could in any criticisms I made of political action, to stay away from the people involved and to focus upon the acts themselves. But, since November 2016 that has become very, very difficult. I have frequently failed. One can reduce ignorance by supplying information, but stupidity is something else again. One cannot debate complex issues with a stupid person. Reason will not penetrate the cognitive walls built up around a stupid mind, and now we have a government with two stupid minds leading the congress and one leading the executive. We have actually got a real set of Three Stooges (1) running our country, and we can do nothing about that fact in the short-term. So, that’s about all I can say about Trump, Ryan, and McConnell. If I say any more about these people, it might be considered disrespectful.

This blog is about what we can do, not what we cannot. And, of course, Trump’s Paris Climate Agreement withdrawal is what set me off today. Having, like Elon Musk and Bob Iger (2,3), given up on the idea that Trump, Ryan, and McConnell might only be ignorant, needing only some coaching, there is nothing to do but implement the deal ourselves, by states, localities, companies, and individuals.

California is pressing ahead. As Governor Jerry Brown said (4):

. . . the world is not waiting for Donald Trump. He has given a body blow to the cause of environmental sustainability, but we will take it and we will respond. We’re on the field of battle, and we’re going to overcome. That, I can promise you.

And others (5,6,7,8).

Our family is on the field of battle with Jerry Brown. We have already laid the plans for that in the construction of a new Zero Energy Ready home (9). We are now bumping that up to be off-grid capable upon occupation. After a shakedown period, we want to unplug the house. There is no reason not to. We are buying absolutely no more internal combustion engine vehicles. We’ll keep our 2015 CR-V until the wheels fall off or until we are sure we don’t need it, and replace our 2013 Chevy Volt with a Tesla Model 3 in 2018 (reserved). Tesla’s charging network is an important part of the Volt replacement choice. The Volt, by the way, has delivered well over 1000 miles per gallon since we bought it new due to our driving pattern and the 240 volt rapid charger (wind offset) in the garage.

There is a lot we can do without the Stooges (oops, sorry).

-George-

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Three_Stooges
  2. http://money.cnn.com/2017/06/01/news/elon-musk-resigns-trump-adviser/index.html
  3. http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/paul-ryan-mitch-mcconnell-praise-trumps-move-against-paris-climate-deal/article/2624722
  4. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/gov-jerry-brown-trumps-move-reject-paris-agreement-hurts-america-will-cost-jobs/
  5. http://money.cnn.com/2017/06/02/news/companies/trump-ceo-revolt/index.html
  6. http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/obama-musk-other-world-industry-leaders-call-paris-climate-deal-n767296
  7. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/01/climate/american-cities-climate-standards.html?hp
  8. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXH2ojr7wi4
  9. A Renewable Energy Project

Bringing Down The Idiocracy

There are many good reasons why idiocracy has replaced democracy here in the USA. I’ve written about some of them before; our divisive two-party system and the undemocratic electoral college are two. Another is legalized bribery of elected officials by corporate entities through so-called campaign donations. Maybe I’ll write about that someday.

But here’s a problem that we can fix with no legislation and about which partisan zealots really can do nothing, although they will try at the state and local levels with gerrymandering and restrictive voting laws. That one thing we can do is to vote. If we just do that one thing, we’ll begin to get our present political tragi-comedy under control. But we don’t do that.

In Franklin County, Ohio we held an election yesterday. The turn-out, according to the Columbus Dispatch Editorial today, was, guess . . .

6.84%

Yep, 6.84%. If you don’t vote (we did), you are a stone in the foundation supporting our metastasizing idiocracy. Let’s start pulling the stones out from underneath the walls of our national embarrassment and let it collapse. It’s really easy, the exercise will do you good, and it will help make the hard stuff that comes later easier by creating truly representative legislative and executive bodies at local, state, and national levels.

Just get off your duff and vote when you have the opportunity, or, rather, while you still have the opportunity.

-George-

Internet Privacy In America Made Great Again

I’m guessing that this week Mr. Trump will sign (1) the resolution repealing a proposed FCC rule barring ISPs from collecting and selling information related to their customers’ browsing habits. This means that just about every service provider on the other side of the terminal block upon which your internet connection appears can proceed with projects to spy on your activities (just like the NSA) and sell the information they gather to the highest bidder.

The fact is that not much will change from the state of affairs that exists today except expression of the government’s intent to move away from the people’s interests and toward corporate interests when it comes to internet privacy policy. After the last election we should not be surprised by this. And, the privacy rule being repealed has not actually taken effect yet.

So, what’s a body to do in this new government of, by, and for the corporations? Lots of safe browsing advice is to be found on the web, but one piece of that advice now becomes a requirement for those who want to maintain even a modicum of control over what their ISP can see and sell. The prudent internet user simply must be using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to encrypt not only the content of traffic, but the identity of the service or destination to which one is connected.

I have been using a VPN whenever I take my laptop or tablet out of my home. I’ll be using it all the time now. When I selected my VPN, I looked for one operated by a European provider (government of the people, good privacy law) and which provided its own Domain Name Services (DNS). It does no good to employ a VPN that uses DNS servers that are owned by the ISP or some other privacy invading web service entity. That might take some research. There are many good options. (2)

Sadly, good VPN options all cost money, about $60 per year, a new tax on privacy in America made great again.

-George-

  1. Updated April 4, he did, on April 3.
  2. https://thatoneprivacysite.net/simple-vpn-comparison-chart/

Lemmings Thwarted

A few days ago I wrote a piece (1) about Speaker Ryan’s doomed “Obamacare” repeal and replace bill. The incompetent bill was something that an only a backwoods college freshman Randian might dream up in a closet shut off from any sensory perception. It accomplished nothing except to alarm thoughtful people.

I thought the bill might pass because the Republican majority, already detached from reality, really seemed to be running like a herd of lemmings toward Ryan’s legislative cliff. But, no, it did not happen. Quite unexpectedly, for me, it did not happen because of something else in that post that I wrote must happen to protect us from extremism:

We need diversity in government to force compromise, to force rationality that cannot exist within an intellectual climate dominated by dogma and absolute power. Let’s put away political “holy” books and flags and use our heads — for a change.

We got it. We got the diversity we needed. We got it from the Freedom Caucus, from a caucus that wants to return this country to the state of affairs that existed in 1861, just before the Civil War. And, that’s OK, not the return part, the help part. Those strong-willed folks prevented Ryan’s lemmings from destroying one of the best pieces of constitutional “general welfare” (2) legislation ever written, certainly in this century.

I’ll have to check my congressman’s (Pat Tiberi) website after the dust settles. Pat runs right in the middle of the lemming pack. Not too much evidence of independent thought in his voting record. Earlier today the health care pitch looked like it had been whipped up by Donald Trump, himself. (3)

As Speaker Ryan deals with the press, I know that this victory for reason may not be long-lived, but today I saw hope.

All-in-all, a very good day, today.

-George-

  1. https://muchado.blog/2017/03/14/healthcare-for-lemmings/
  2. We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
  3. http://tiberi.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=395127

Going To Mars

I read this morning that NASA has a plan to get to Mars in 20 years. (1) If it takes 20 years, they will probably land at Elon’s third DragonPort and freshen up a bit at the local SpaceX hotel. (2) But that’s not the point. Once on Mars and cleaned up after the long trip, when those intrepid NASA explorers take a Model Y out for a run in the circumplanetary desert they will have no water, no trees, no animals, no oxygen, and a thin CO2 atmosphere in which to suffocate should their breathable air bottles spring leaks.

Which is to say, why bother? Our new EPA chief may be able to recreate this environment on Earth in less than 20 years and save a lot of money.

-George-

  1. https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/journey-to-mars-next-steps-20151008_508.pdf
  2. http://www.space.com/34234-spacex-mars-colony-plan-by-the-numbers.html