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-

Expensive Tires

Last Saturday I went to Sam’s Club to get new tires for the front of our new used Spark EV. The Spark is a torquey critter, you know, and the front tires can be scraped clean of tread fairly easily. The back tires looked like new while the fronts were worn out at about 12,000 miles. We will try to keep from smoking them as much as the previous owner.

While the tires were being mounted, I checked out a deeply discounted HP Envy 13.3 inch laptop on the computer display table, the display model only. I had been looking for a good Linux laptop, and had fairly well decided to get a Dell XPS 13 if a meaningful sale ever occurred at Dellsville, but this Envy looked really good. It had a high resolution touch screen, 8G RAM, 256G SSD, a 2.7GHz Intel i7-7500U processor, and an aluminum case. All the major components seemed to be on the approved list for Linux. A little waiting room browsing on the phone said this machine might be a very cut-rate XPS 13. Half the cost. Bought it.

On Sunday, I connected up a DVD drive and installed Linux Mint 18.1, blowing away the Windows 10 installation. Risky, but there were no hitches whatsoever. Absolutely everything I use worked as it should. (1) The high resolution touch screen required tweaking settings in the system preferences and in some apps, but the knobs were there to do that. The Linux Mint Envy is the now fastest and most delightful computer I own.

Expensive tires.

-George-

  1. I do not use suspend and hibernate, so I have not tried those functions.

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

The End Of The Laundry Clones

It’s over, finally. The laundry clones have been driven out. We installed an LG front loading laundry pair and put them to work this morning. These machines bore the same “Assembled In The U.S.A.” labels as did the Maytag equipment. That probably means something. We don’t know what. Maybe the door hinges were oiled with American oil — or something else. We’re done researching this stuff.

We took some measurements with our trusty smartphone sound meter app before Sharon’s trauma-inducing washer and dryer set went to wherever returned clones go and repeated those checks with the new gear. Here is what we found:

  1. Maytag washer in normal washing cycle — 62 dB
  2. Maytag dryer in normal drying cycle — 73 dB
  3. LG washer in normal washing cycle — 55 dB
  4. LG dryer in normal drying cycle — 66 dB

I seem to recall that the logarithmic dB scale doubles or halves power with each 3 dB change, and that a 3 dB difference is the degree of change that a human ear can readily discern. This means that the differences we recorded are not insignificant. And, subjectively, we can confirm that this is so. We did not measure sound levels for things like filling with water, brief spinning, and playing little tunes when done, just for the core function.

Three loads washed. Everthing got wet and clean. Yahoo!

Normality has returned to the laundry room.

-George-

Congressional and State Legislature Gerrymandering

What if we said that all congressional or state legislative election districts must be rectangular (a grid plan) except those along state borders, which must have boundaries that are determined solely by geographic reality? Perhaps in variants defined by this order of precedence:

  1. Legislative districts shall be perfect rectangles (of some acceptable range of ratios?) wherever physically possible, and then, only if not physically possible,
  2. three sides of a rectangle and one natural border defined by a state line, or
  3. where the land within the district is too narrow to accommodate three sides of a rectangle (see the middle of West Virginia’s northern panhandle) the district shall have two parallel straight line borders with two natural state line line borders, and finally, if nothing else works,
  4. three natural state line borders and one straight line border (the tip of West Virginia’s Northern Panhandle).

It will certainly be argued that a proposal like this does not preserve community integrity. But, sadly, “preserving community integrity” in redistricting projects can be little more than a code phrase for reducing the voting power of groups statistically in opposition majority party interests.

So, let’s do something to get the politics out of voting. Voting is sometimes about partisan politics, but the process itself should never be a partisan political activity.

A grid plan is simple. It can be automated and implemented in minutes instead of months of closed-door haggling about how to make sure community A’s voters do not upset representative B’s apple cart, and it might actually be good to have a legislator represent diverse communities. It might require them to devote some time to careful consideration of legislative impact, something sorely lacking in politics today.

Just food for thought.

-George-

Vive la France!

Congratulations to Mr. Macron and the French people. In France, one gets as President the candidate who received the most votes, not the least. France is a democracy.

Maybe the French people saw what happened in England (unimaginable) with the Brexit referendum and the insanity of last November in the USA. Not in France.

Perhaps France will have a President who can reduce national division. At least the people have created an opportunity. They have rejected Le Pen’s  “wall” for fraternity and accommodation.

Vive la France!

-George-