lobbyists exploit this weak link

Congressional hearings are supposed to have a high purpose.

That hearings have degraded so egregiously is indeed troubling. Yet to really understand the problem, one must place hearings within the context of the larger issue of how Congress informs itself about the issues of the day and uses that information to create policy. In that context, the Congress of today is doing both better and worse than the Congresses of before.

“An honest politician,” he declared, “is one who when he is bought, stays bought.”

the radiation ratepayer

Moody’s says investing in new nuclear plants involves significant risks and huge capital costs at a time when national energy policy is uncertain. Yet power utilities are trying to find $6 billion for new nuclear projects. Fourteen companies have submitted applications to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build 17 new reactors.

As Moody’s downgrades the investment ratings of these utilities, guess who puts up the capital?

bootricity

Piezoelectricity, electricity from movementShe answered, “Oh, that fella running by is recharging his phone.”

The Engineer magazine cites Leeds in the U.K. are reducing soldiers’ backpack weight by harvesting energy from movement.

Small piezoelectric transducers around the knee will extract energy as a soldier stretches his leg.

No more heavy batteries.

Piezoelectricity wiki.
More on Flexoelectricity.

rebooblicans

Kansas City Star:

Marked by accusations and backstabbing, it’s the story of how a small but intense movement called “birthers” rose from a handful of people prone to seeing conspiracies, aided by the Internet, magnified without evidence by eager radio and cable TV hosts, and eventually ratified by a small group of Republican politicians working to keep the story alive on the floors of Congress and the campaign trails of the Midwest.

It’s a powerful story about what experts call political paranoia.

find a way to fix this

What are we doing, what are we thinking?

We need to wake up.

Food, this gift that nourishes our body and soul, that brings us together in celebration and in grief, we are putting it in the hands of people who don’t give a shit about anything except profit.

I cried for my son and his future.

One: wherever and whenever, try to know or find out the source of your food. And two: every time you buy food, it’s a vote for more of that food; if it’s excellent, you’re asking for more; if it’s shitty food, you’re asking for more.

Off the cuff by popular food author Michael Ruhlman.

either swim or brew

http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2009/07/30/2640838.htm

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=bio-ocean-mixing

moonshiners and oil fats

When a line at the door reaches a certain length…

C.D. Howe Institute finds that the lowest-cost and highest-value programs are NOT properly supported.

  1. solar air heating
  2. solar water heating
  3. solar electricity
  4. wind
  5. biomass

The Canadian government’s cost to displace one ton of CO2 from any of these technologies ranges from CAN $4 per ton (for solar air heating) to CAN $30 per ton (for biomass).

In stark contrast, the most expensive government programs underwriting liquid biofuels cost taxpayers CAN $295 to $430/ton of CO2 displaced from ethanol and CAN $122 to $175/ton of CO2 displaced from biodiesel.

McKinsey & Company found that better buildings, efficient equipment, and sealing leaks is the fastest and best way to cut USA energy – quick reductions “greater than the total of energy consumption of Canada” while pocketing $1.2 trillion by 2020. [US Energy Efficiency Report, .pdf] Ecogeek points to fixing electronics sucking energy while not in use leading to energy savings equal to the yearly electricity consumption of the Netherlands.

I see the Canadian incentives study as striking. Our human mind is so vulnerable to fashion.

scale is astounding

China recently shut down 7,467 coal fired power generators, moving 400,000 to new jobs.

That’s 124 million tons less carbon dioxide than its average emission of 6.2 billion tons.

Plus the government is paying 70% of the cost of new solar systems.
[figures from cranky AP]

psychopathocracy

Chris Hedges says the move from “managed capitalism” to “unfettered capitalism” over the last four to six decades – accomplished with the help of government deregulation – has refashioned America as a “corporate state run by and on behalf of corporations rather than citizens.”

Chris Hedges “Empire of Illusion”Hedges is no garden-variety prophet. Pulitzer Prize-winner.

“Our manufacturing base has been destroyed. Tens of millions of Americans live in real or near poverty. Our infrastructure is collapsing. We have massive deficits that we can never repay.

And we have a permanent war economy that eats up “half our discretionary spending.”

How do we react to all this? We shop, watch TV, shop some more, watch a bit more TV.

And, for the most part, we love it.

“What is so mendacious and pernicious about this is that until these institutions collapsed, all they talked about is the market and unfettered capitalism. And when, because of their own folly, greed, and mismanagement, it collapsed, they are raiding the Treasury.

We’ve become a socialist nation – but socialism for corporations.

converging crises

We expect high unemployment during a crash, but

the steep job losses during this recession should not be looked at in isolation.

They are the continuation and intensification of a trend that began in the 1990s, and really took off with the 2001 recession.

The trend is that of subpar job growth during economic expansion, and intensified job losses during recessions.

In short, the employment losses during this recession are not special.

Rather, they are the continuation of a trend caused by the ongoing, chronic trade deficit, most particularly the offshoring of employment.

facts, figures, charts

talkative at age 71

Madoff is shocked at failures of the SEC.

In a 4 1/2-hour interview at Butner Federal prison, “He opened up and told us everything about how the scam went down.” Madoff had little hesitation in answering questions.

New civil lawsuit implicates “a number of new people the SEC has never looked at.”

How did Madoff fool so many people for so long?

“No one bothered to ask simple questions. People foolishly – including accountants and regulators – never looked in the right places.”