Saturday, June 30, 2007
As you can see the lilies are in full bloom and really showing off. Hot and sticky here in Atlanta today but we did get some much needed moisture last night in some pretty good thunderstorms. Still way behind the curve but some is better than none. I picked my first two non cherry tomatoes today...two Brandywines, not real big but nice. Going to be real good for dinner tonight.
Good morning at the farmer's market. Heirloom tomatoes(Mr. Stripey and Lemon yellow) and some more of those sun gold cherry tomatoes. Fresh butter beans too! So it's going to be hot cornbread and butter beans with some tomato, cucumber and feta salad for dinner. Yes, some very basic southern summer fare. (Except for the feta cheese I guess.)
I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend.
Friday, June 29, 2007
In addition to the insane no-bid contracts for Halliburton that continue to be so lucrative for the company(think Cheney) and a wildly raw deal for US taxpayers we now have DHS expanding the idiots club. Scope creep (the bane of any project) has ballooned a project with Booz Allen, the pricey Washington consulting firm, from $2m up to an incredible $124m in just a couple of years. This is what I do for a living. I manage projects and I am a consultant. Reading this article just absolutely floored me. You can't even describe this as mismanagement which it might be if we overran by a half million or so. This is gross incompetence on the part of the government and almost criminal on the part of Booz Allen.
This is a common thread with this administration. They farm out work that should be done by a Federal worker to some consulting company with minimum controls on the contract. The average citizen doesn't realize what this means for his or her tax money. Even a moderately paid consultant paid to take the place of a government worker is going to cost you at least twice and probably more like three times as much as it would if you had paid a government worker. Even low end consults are going to cost the government $250,000 a year and Goddess only knows what if they have to travel to the gig. Read the article and get pissed.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Update: Home on time. Just had to keep the seat belt fastened for the trip. Mucho turbulence.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
The Goddess looks out for those who respect her power.
I'll post something meaningful later I hope but I stumbled on this while waiting for a query to run.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
h/t to Susie
Bucharest was Europe’s hottest capital on Tuesday with temperatures at 45 Celsius (113 Fahrenheit) but a heat alert was sounded for much of the south of the country. Ambulance services were beseiged with calls to help people fainting in the street, officials said. Fourteen people have died from the heat in the city over the past week, according to authorities who have set up more than 30 first aid tents in Bucharest alone to cope with the casualties.
Police have been handing out water in the street and the health ministry has warned the elderly and those with debilitating illnesses not to go out during the day. After a winter with much lower than average snowfall and a dry spring, the heatwave has worsened fears that Romania could lose more than half of its normal cereal crop this year because of the weather.
I mentioned the other day the negative impact on milk prices driven by the increasing production of ethanol and the resulting demand for corn. The USDA just yesterday raised the wholesale price of milk again. The fact that milk prices are going up maybe didn’t hit close enough to home for some you.
How would you feel if you knew that not only is milk for the morning cereal going up as a result of the increased demand for corn but the price of beer and tequila as well. That’s right party animals according to the Financial Times the strong demand for biofuel feed stocks such as corn, soybeans, and oilseed rape (canola) is encouraging farmers to plant these crops instead of barley, driving up its price. What’s the number one ingredient in beer? You got it…Barley.
Futures prices for European malting barley have risen 85 percent to more than €230 ($320) a ton since last May. Barley and hops account for about 7 percent to 8 percent of the cost of brewing beer. Meanwhile, barley production here in the
The rise in barley prices has also been driven by the drought in Australian which reduced the crop by two-thirds. Couple that with the heavy rains in
That’s only the barley and beer side of the party equation. About a quarter of Mexican farmers who now grow agave, which is used in the production of tequila, are expected to burn their fields to make way for corn, as prices have nearly doubled from what they were a year ago, due to US ethanol demand.
So there you have it. Our leaders have decided that it makes more sense to give Archer-Daniels Midland windfall profits using your taxes while burdening you with higher prices for the necessities of life. The next time you have to dig deeper for your Doritos, beer and tequila supply you’ll know who to thank.
Monday, June 25, 2007
I am sitting here waiting for someone with database access so I can actually do some work and reading around the blogroll. Scarecrow has a good post over at Firedoglake and it pointed out some of the environmental damage that is being directly caused by the Bush administration and the losses we are sustaining to our National Forests and National Parks. He quotes several passages from an article behind the New York Times firewall that really pissed me off.
Rooseveltroamed the West today, he’d find some of the same thing in the land he entrusted to future presidents. The national wildlife system, started by T.R., has been emasculated. President Bush has systematically pared the budget to the point where, this year, more than 200 refuges could be without any staff at all.
The Bureau of Land Management, which oversees some of the finest open range, desert canyons and high-alpine valleys in the world, was told early on in the Bush years to make drilling for oil and gas their top priority. A demoralized staff has followed through, but many describe their jobs the way a cowboy talks about having to shoot his horse.
, the bureau just gave the green light to industrial development on the aspen-forested high mountain paradise called the Roan Plateau. In typical fashion, the administration made a charade of listening to the public about what to do with the land. More than 75,000 people wrote them — 98 percent opposed to drilling. Colorado
For most of the Bush years, the Interior Department was nominally run by a Stepford secretary, Gale Norton, while industry insiders like J. Steven Griles — the former coal lobbyist who pled guilty this year to obstruction of justice — ran the department.
Same in the Forest Service, where an ex-timber industry insider, Mark Rey, guides administration policy.
They don’t take care of these lands because they see them as one thing: a cash-out. Thus, in Bush’s budget proposal this year, he guts the Forest Service budget yet again, while floating the idea of selling thousands of acres to the highest bidder. The administration says it wants more money for national parks. But the parks are $10 billion behind on needed repairs; the proposal is a pittance.
What the Bush folks have done to the country is a lot like loaning your car to someone who has no appreciation for the hard work and effort it took to earn enough to afford to buy it. Someone just like Bush.
When he brings it back you can see the dents and dings, scraped paint, stains on the seats and cracked front windshield. This is like the obvious stuff we see with Bush. Daily death in Iraq of Americas young and scores of Iraqis, the weekly bad news from other places in the middle east, the latest corruption, the latest lie and the latest affront to the Constitution.
What is not immediately visible is the internal damage from poor maintenance, bad driving and carelessness. Engine’s been overheated, brakes worn from riding, tires worn from misalignment because he couldn’t be bothered avoiding pot holes and not running into the curbs. Not to mention thousands of miles taken from the life of the engine due to dirty oil and no tune ups.
What’s happened to
It is not too late however to do what is necessary to put our dream back on the road in a manner which becomes her history. If each of us works on a scratch or dent and we team up to do the bigger tasks our dream and the dreams of our parents and grandparents can be handed to our children in roadworthy shape and once again turn the heads of all who see her cruise through the world. It really is the least we can do.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Got my few hours of minimal watering done this morning. Gosh it is no fun to roll out of bed on a Sunday morning before it is even light out and start tromping around the yard with the sprinkler. Everything important got a drink at least.
Thanks everyone for the Blogiversary wishes. Christy even noted it on Firedoglake. Wow!
I may get some time this evening in the hotel to spend a little time here. We shall see. I haven't had time to see what all of you are doing today and can't get too far behind.
BTW, if you think it will help you might look up your particular God, Gods or Goddesses and chat them up about a little peace. If you don't know any of the above just go out and talk to a tree or something...it can't hurt.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Already been to the farmer's market this morning and there were more farmers this morning that there have been. Still some nice cabbage and beets to be had. The yellow squash, cukes and zucchini are coming on strong and are really nice. Raspberries and blackberries were too good looking to pass up. Could be a blackberry cobbler in the offing today. Local tomatoes are showing up...especially cherry tomatoes and the early girls. The lady from Hanson farms was there with more of the little sun gold cherry tomatoes...they should be illegal. Best thing you ever tasted.
Madam Monk is out with the Hysterical Society surveying another old cemetery this morning and I am about to step out for my walk before it gets much hotter. Then I have to tie up my tomatoes. They seem to be enjoying the composted cow manure they got side dressed with last weekend. I have also noted that the sun flower seeds the chipmunks like to bury in the soft garden soil have sprouted nicely so a little work is due there as well. We'll check back in here later when it is too hot to be outside and all the chores are done.
Its been great meeting you all even if it is only over the tubes. I'll try and keep the candle burning here for another year.
Have a great weekend.
Friday, June 22, 2007
The bad news is, because of a GOP filibuster threat the 30 billion dollar tax increase on Big Oil didn't pass. This increase in taxes would have paid for research into renewable sources of energy. Leave it to the Rethugs to bow down before their masters and refuse to tax these highly profitable companies.
The really bad news is that the new energy bill includes incentives for Big Agriculture and the ethanol producers to increase production of ethanol to 36 billion gallons a year by 2022. This is a sevenfold increase. This is a huge mistake and a big giveaway to companies like ADM who make a boatload of money from ethanol and then turn around and take the tax breaks. All this is going to come out of our pockets in continued high taxes in increasing prices for foods such as chicken, beef and milk which are heavily dependent on corn for their production. Don't even think about the increasing cost and availability of corn on the third world. Estimates are that an additional 25 million people globally have been pushed over the starvation line by the increased cost of corn already. Multiply by seven.
The tragedy in this is that producing ethanol from corn is a net energy loser. Corn requires more nitrogen fertilizer that any other crop and nitrogen fertilizer is produced from oil. Add together all the costs of production and the oil used in producing the fertilizer for the corn and you end up in the red. The only winners in this are the big industrial corn growers and the processors like ADM.
The house is fudging with their version and of course we still have to get numbnuts to sign the compromise bill. To early to chill the champagne.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Even though this is an ancient holiday there is nothing much to celebrate when you think about all our boys and girls in Iraq and Afghanistan. Another 15 of which paid with their lives in the last two days for George Bush's ego and stupidity. We really need to bring them home now.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
As some of you may remember my daughter is a firefighter and paramedic. This kind of thing really hits close to home.
Stop an minute and be thankful that these firefighters are there in your town too, waiting to risk their lives to do what they can to save your life and property.
CHARLESTON, S.C. - One coached football when he wasn't fighting fires. Another cut hair at a barbershop. Yet another was known for quoting the Bible. They called each other nicknames like "Squirrel" and "Lightning."
On Tuesday, this city on the South Carolina coast mourned them all: nine firefighters killed inside a burning furniture store in the nation's worst loss of firefighters since the 2001 World Trade Center attack.
"They did exactly what they were trained to do," fire Chief Rusty Thomas said.
They went into the burning building on Monday in search of two employees who had been reported to be trapped inside.
AP Photo: This combination of photos provided Tuesday, June 19, 2007 by the City of Charleston, S.C....
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Senate today voted against two attempts to encourage the use of liquid coal, rejecting a pair of amendments to the energy bill that would have alternately mandated 6 billion gallons of liquid coal use annually by 2022 or provided $10 billion in loan subsidies to produce liquid coal.
"This is a victory for anyone who takes global warming seriously or cares about environmentally destructive mining," said Friends of the Earth President Brent Blackwelder. "Coal mining is a dirty process, and with current technology, liquid coal results in twice the greenhouse gas emissions of petroleum-based gasoline. We need an energy policy that helps fight global warming, and today's votes were a step in that direction. Unfortunately, the energy bill as a whole is not where it needs to be. We will continue to work for the inclusion of stronger efficiency standards and cleaner sources of energy."
The first of the two liquid coal amendments, sponsored by Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) and Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), was defeated by a vote of 39 to 55. Considered the more egregious of the two by environmentalists, it would have mandated increasing amounts of liquid coal use in the U.S. beginning in 2016 and concluding with a 6 billion annual requirement in 2022.
The second of the two, sponsored by Senator John Tester (D-MT), would have subsidized liquid coal production with a $10 billion loan program to fund carbon capture devices for liquid coal processing facilities. Such devices are intended to reduce global warming emissions, but they are an unproven technology that may not work, and they do nothing to address the pollution created when coal is mined. The amendment was defeated on a 33-61 vote.
Environmental groups and major newspaper editorial boards have come out strongly against liquid coal, and argued that the Senate should focus on other sources of energy, as coal mining is a pollution-intensive process, converting the coal into liquid emits large amounts of greenhouse gasses, and additional global warming emissions occur when the liquid coal is used as fuel. Experts estimate that replacing 10 percent of U.S. petroleum consumption with liquid coal would require a 43 percent increase in mountaintop mining.
Not only are you paying higher prices for food because of the use of corn for fuel but you are paying also for the subsidized production of the ethanol by way of your federal taxes. The only way corn based ethanol can be priced competitively at the pump with gasoline is by pumping massive amounts of federal dollars at the refiners. This is just a windfall for big agriculture and the refiners and really stupid environmental policy.
If you want to read more there is an excellent article over at the Gristmill in rebuttal to Dick Morris' article in support of corn base fuels. Well worth a read if you interested in environmental issues.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Some of you who stop by here are trying, like me, to make the smartest choices when buying food to put on your family or yourself. Whether it is the "carbon footprint" of the food, whether or not is organic or even "all natural". Some of us are trying to buy local produce and some of us are even growing some of our own. There are a lot of things to weigh...cost, organic, local, natural, pesticides and on and on. I try and buy organic and local but that is not always an option.
It is not an easy job but it is getting easier. You are seeing more organic choices in the stores but they are on average 20 -30% more expensive that conventionally grown fruit and vegetables. If you are like me I hate wasting money but don't mind paying for what I get. If you are trying to limit your exposure to pesticides but can't find or afford to always get organic you can still have some control over what you eat. According to the non-profit Environmental Working Group , soft-skinned fruits and vegetables like peaches, apples and bell peppers retain the most amount of pesticides. Buying organic when buying these makes sense even if it is more expensive. Onions, avocados and corn are practically pesticide free whether the are grown organically or not so you you have some wiggle room with these types of things. Foodnews.org the Environmental Working Group's website has a handy guide you can download that lists conventionally grown fruits and vegetables by typical pesticide content. The list will help you make a little better decision when it comes to whether you just have to have organic.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Claiming steady, albeit slow, military and political progress, Petraeus said the "many, many challenges" would not be resolved "in a year or even two years." Similar counterinsurgency operations, he said, citing Britain's experience in Northern Ireland, "have gone at least nine or 10 years."Anglo-Norman mercenaries invaded Ireland in 1169, and it has been nip and tuck since then. I'm surprised that he didn't compare the Iraq occupation with Korea's fifty-year military adventure. Maybe it wasn't close enough to home or something or else he didn't want to give us any false hope. Comparing the Iraq misadventure and disaster to Ireland is not very accurate in one or two other ways. For all of the 800 years or so the Irish have had food (except for the potato famine) and and water and the basic necessities of the time and they haven't been assaulted on a daily basis with shootings and car bombs. Details I know but for the Iraqis I can assure you they are important.
This is just another example of the White House breaking the law with impunity. Let's hope Senator Waxman and his committee get some people behind bars on this. You can read more about the committee findings here
You can also check out the Speaker’s blog and the the Washington Post.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
As a kid we used make sandwiches out of the stuff that we called bread in those days. Good old plastic white bread and depending on where you were in the south it would be Sunbeam, Wonder or Merita. Nowadays I eat it on organic whole wheat or sour dough but it is still good. I like my sandwich with it spread about a quarter of an inch thick and sometimes I'll put a little mustard on one of the slices.
You can also try spreading it on a slice of good bread and running it under the broiler for a few minutes until it bubbles. It is also good spread into the groove of nice crunchy celery. Enjoy!
2 1/2 cups of (10 ounces o) of grated extra sharp cheddar cheese.
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper or more if you like it hot (you can also use a dash or two of Tobasco)
5 0r 6 grinds of black pepper (about a 1/2 teaspoon)
3/4 cup of good mayonnaise such as Duke's or Hellmann's
3 -4 tablespoons of roasted sweet red bell pepper (see note below)
a pinch of Kosher salt if you need it but usually the cheese is salty enough
Stir all of this together in a mixing bowl until it is well blended. Store covered in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Roasting red peppers is not too difficult. Rub the peppers lightly with oil and in a baking dish roast in a 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes until they are nicely charred. Take the peppers out of the oven and put them in a bowl that can be tightly covered or I use a 1 gallon zip lock bag. let them cool for 15 minutes or so until you can handle them. Remove the stems, pith and seeds and lay the pepper flat on the cutting board skin side up. With a knife scrape away as much skin and char as you can. You won' t be able to get it all. Do not rinse them under water as it will remove too much flavor. I usually find one good sized pepper is just the perfect amount when chopped for this recipe.
The other option is to use roasted red peppers from the jar. These are pretty good and makes this recipe a 10 minute job. I usually have a jar in the fridge to use when I am too lazy to roast a fresh pepper or when I can't bring myself to pay $4.00 a pound for red peppers.
"The eight most powerful nations gathered and were unable to do anything except to say 'We had good conversations and we agreed that we will have more conversations, and we will even have conversations about the possibility of doing something in the future on a voluntary basis perhaps."'
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
"It grows seemingly without control or limitation," said ACLU senior legislative counsel Tim Sparapani of the terrorism watch list. Sparapani called the 509,000 figure "stunning."
"If we have 509,000 names on that list, the watch list is virtually useless," he told ABC News. "You'll be capturing innocent individuals with no connection to crime or terror."
It would be very interesting to know exactly the size of the database and how it is structured and what the user interface is. How many Bill Smiths are on the list? How many people with your name are on the list? I can feel pretty sure that there is at least one. Just pick up a phone book and check for your name or your last names with the same initials. You might be surprised. What a mess.
The upside is I am going to bed early, getting some reading done and some solid practice on the guitar in. In every sunshine a little life must fall I guess.
There is plenty for you to read without my drivel anyway. Be sure to stop by Adgitadiaries where M is doing some good writing. While the guys don't post a lot what they do post is good stuff....be sure to enjoy the obit of the Pillsbury Dough Boy.
Anyhow, off to the client for another long day.Very suboptimal environment in a giant warehouse with much noise and dirt which I am sure precipitated my my early bed time last night.
Thanks to Bryan at Why Now? for the alert that one of the most important early influences on my life as passed away.
For a lot of us, this was our first taste of science, and you could do it in your kitchen without a lot of equipment or special ingredients. He was responsible for a lot people entering science, and was a hell of a teacher.
I was fascinated watching Mr. Wizard and much to my parents dismay tried to duplicate as many of his demonstrations and experiments as possible. I was not always successful but I sure had a lot of fun trying.
As I mentioned over at Bryan's place one experiment that stuck with me all these years and the one that always comes to mind when I Mr. Wizard is mentioned is the demonstration of atmospheric pressure. He put some water in a clean 1 gallon metal can like paint thinner came in and put it over hot plate to boil the water. Once the water was at a good boil and the can full of hot steam he removed the can from the heat and screwed the lid on tight. As soon as the steam in the can began to cool and condensate the vapor pressure in the can went down dramatically allowing the normal atmospheric pressure outside to begin to crush the can dramatically. Quite the impressive stunt.
Thanks Mr. Wizard for hours or even years of fascination and curiosity.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Monday, June 11, 2007
Anyhow, tired of wasting time trying to surf so I am going to do a little practice on the guitar and go to bed early and read some of Al Gore's latest. If I can get through a few pages maybe my faith in the possibilities for America will be restored.
See you on the morrow.
I will see you guys later today when I am all settled in at the motel.
Saturday, June 09, 2007
Nothing special on a nice brilliant Saturday. On the way back from the Farmer's Market this morning we stopped at a flea & antique shop along the way and I found an antique cast iron corn stick pan that was in excellent shape, well seasoned and under $10. I now own it as you can see and rushed right home to give it a whirl. My mother used to have one of these but I haven't seen it in years and you see them in antique shops now again but they are always rusty or ruined in some way or priced not to sell. As you can see in the picture above this one turned out a perfect and tasty batch of corn sticks on the first run. I think it might have been used a bit before. I do love these corn sticks as I think they have the perfect ratio of crust to middle and I like the crust best.
I am also soon to be the proud producer of my first tomato. If you look closely you can see the little "Tiny Tim" tomato just turning red. Shame is I will probably be out of town when it is ready next week and Madam will have the honors. That's OK though as there are more on the way.
Friday, June 08, 2007
It appears ,however, that the most important thing in the universe today (if you believe CNN) is that Paris is going back to jail. The cable news networks are camped out in front of her house and speculating on this and that. Live while we watch. It is absolutely insane. What have we come to as a nation when this is what our news organizations find the most compelling thing to put on TV. It brought to mind the introduction to Al Gore's new book.
It is simply no longer possible to ignore the strangeness of our public discourse. I know I'm not alone in feeling that something has gone fundamentally wrong. In 2001, I had hopes it was an aberration when polls showed that three-quarters of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was responsible for attacking us on September 11. More than five years later, however, nearly half the American people still believes that Saddam was connected to the attack.
At first I thought the exhaustive, nonstop coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial was just unfortunate excess --- an unwelcome departure from the normal good sense and judgment of our news media. Now we know that it was merely an early example of a new pattern of serial obsession that periodically take over the airwaves for weeks at a time.
Late in the summer of 2006, American news coverage was saturated with the bizarre false confession of a man who claimed to have been present at the death of JonBenet Ramsey --- the six-year-old beauty queen whose unsolved murder eleven years before was responsible for another long-running obsession. A few months prior to John Mark Karr's arrest in Bangkok, the disappearance of a high school senior in Aruba and the intensive search for her body and her presumed murderer consumed thousands of hours of television coverage. Both cases remain unsolved as of this writing, and neither had any appreciable impact on the fate of the Republic.
Like JonBenet Ramsey, O.J. has recently been back at the center of another fit of obsessive-compulsive news, when his hypothetical confession wasn't published and his interviews on television wasn't aired. This particular explosion of "news" was truncated only when a former television sitcom star used racist insults in a night club. And before that we focus on the "Runaway Bride" in Georgia. And before that there was the Michael Jackson trial and the Robert Blake trial, the Laci Peterson tragedy and the Chandra Levy tragedy. And of course we can't forget Britney and KFed, and Lindsay and Paris and Nicole, Tom Cruise jumped on Oprah's couch and married Katie Holmes, who gave birth to Suri. And Russell Crowe apparently threw a phone at a hotel concierge.
In early 2007, the wall-to-wall coverage of Anna Nicole Smith's death, embalming, and funeral plans and the legal wrangling over the paternity and custody of her child and disposition of her estate, served as yet another particularly bizarre example of the new priorities in America's news coverage.
And while American television watchers were collectively devoting a hundred million hours of their lives each week to these and other similar stories, our nation was in the process of more quietly making what future historians will certainly describe as a series of catastrophically mistaken decisions on issues of war and peace, the global climate and human survival, freedom and barbarity, justice and fairness.
Thursday, June 07, 2007
Some good news for our much abused Constitution today. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act (S. 185) this morning, with no amendments and no debate, 11-8. Specter was the sole Republican supporting the legislation. The bill should come before the entire Senate later this month.
From the ACLU's Find Habeas blog:
Though far from the comprehensive legislation needed to either close Gitmo and transfer the detainees into secure proceedings in civilian courts, or provide the detainees with a full and fair opportunity to challenge the grounds for their detentions, S. 185 is a crucial piece of lawmaking.
It signals to the White House and the Republican minority in Congress that this is a real issue, and that the quick and dirty passage of the MCA in the final days of the GOP-controlled 109th Congress was ill-advised and somewhat ham-handed.
It is not over by a long shot however, the bill must pass the full Senate, the House, be reconciled and last but not least. Mr. Habeas himself must sign it. In light of that, the ACLU is sponsoring a Day of Action on June 26th with a rally and citizen lobbying. ACLU folks will also be at Firedoglake at 3:00 Eastern today to discuss this legislation and the plan for getting it passed.
Right now though there is some room to celebrate a small step back from the edge of insanity. We can revel in this move toward restoring the most fundamental right in our Constitution and the only one actually enshrined in it. Senators voting aye:
Leahy (D-Vt.), Specter (R-Pa.), Kennedy (D-Ma.), Biden (D-Del.), Kohl (D-Wis.), Feinstein (D-Cal.), Feingold (D-Wis.), Schumer (D-N.Y.), Durbin (D-Ill.), Cardin (D-Md.), Whitehouse (D-R.I.).h/t to DailyKos
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Let's just hope it doesn't get any worse. They are already threatening with food prices because of the drought.
The coal industry is getting ready to cash in on the liquid coal boondoggle and you need to let your Congress critters know that having tax payer money pumped into this program is insanity. This is just another way that the carbon lobby wants all you to pay them to pollute.
Moveon.org is also getting a petition up and you can go here to sign it.
The facts are that liquid coal releases twice as much green house gases than does gasoline and it takes a ton of coal to produce two barrels of liquid coal and four gallons of water for every gallon of fuel. Mining coal is a dirty process and the environmental impact of the mining coupled with the additional green house gas burden is unthinkable.
From moveon.org Congress is rushing through a package that could lock us into liquid coal as our country's new energy source for transportation. For every mile driven, coal-based fuels produce as much as twice as many greenhouse gases as petroleum.2 That means even a Prius would drive like a Hummer. The coal industry has been lobbying for this break for years, and many in Congress don't understand the facts. "Liquid coal would be a disaster in our fight against the climate crisis. Congress should vote against tax breaks and subsidies for coal." The legislation would take billions in taxpayer dollars to build up to 10 more dirty coal plants, provide taxpayer subsidies when the fuel can't compete on the open market, and guarantee that the government will buy this fuel no matter what.3
Congress is rushing through a package that could lock us into liquid coal as our country's new energy source for transportation. For every mile driven, coal-based fuels produce as much as twice as many greenhouse gases as petroleum.2 That means even a Prius would drive like a Hummer.
The coal industry has been lobbying for this break for years, and many in Congress don't understand the facts.
"Liquid coal would be a disaster in our fight against the climate crisis. Congress should vote against tax breaks and subsidies for coal."
The legislation would take billions in taxpayer dollars to build up to 10 more dirty coal plants, provide taxpayer subsidies when the fuel can't compete on the open market, and guarantee that the government will buy this fuel no matter what.3
The industry promises to clean up after itself, but "clean coal" doesn't exist yet—it's pure fiction. While some technology is being tested to capture the greenhouse gas before it goes into the air, no one knows if it will work. But the plants will be built regardless.
To make matters worse, the financial outlook on this technology is shaky, which means taxpayers could be left holding the bag. According to an MIT study, we could spend $70 billion to replace just 10 percent of current gasoline use.4 And by the time we bring the technology to market, it is likely that cheaper, cleaner fuels will be available for less money.
These snake oil salesmen are in the Capitol in force—selling Congress a line that kicking our oil habit is easy if we just commit billions in taxpayer money to coal. And some in Congress are buying it—even folks who have been with us thus far on the climate crisis. But with this bill, they're gambling with the future of our planet.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has this to say about the proposal:
The coal industry is touting a plan to transform millions of tons of coal into diesel and other liquid fuels—an expensive, inefficient process that releases large quantities of heat-trapping carbon dioxide into our air. Fortunately, better, cleaner options exist to reduce America's dependence on oil: efficiency, smart growth, and renewable fuels.5
An OpEd in the Lexington Herald-Leader, in the heart of coal country, put it this way:
We need less coal, not more. And we need government support to go toward developing the commercial scale technology for truly clean alternatives—solar and wind. These energy sources are clean and abundant, and these industries create jobs and can be a boon to the economy.
Updated 6/7/07 at 9:01 EDT to elucidate the Prius versus Hummer comparison that was challenged by a commenter.
Based on comparisons of greenhouse gas emissions of a Honda Accord Hybrid and a Hummer H3 (www.fueleconomy.gov), and where
liquid coal produces 47 lbs CO2 per gallon and regular gasoline 25 lbs CO2 per gallon.
To be completely accurate it was a Honda Hybrid and an Hummer H3.
1. "Lawmakers look at coal to break oil dependence", Los Angeles Times, May 10, 2007
2. "Coal-To-Liquid Fuel Plant Plan Advances", The Houston Chronicle, May 31, 2007
3. " Billion-dollar boondoggle," The Roanoke Time, June 5, 2007
4. "Why Liquid Coal Is Not a Viable Option to Move America Beyond Oil," Report by Natural Resources Defense Council, February, 2007
5. ""Liquid coal a new version of snake oil" The Lexington Herald-Leader, June 3, 2007
Monday, June 04, 2007
I have been hinting at it for weeks but we are closing in on the reauthorization of the Farm Bill, that wickedly complicated cluster fuck of food, energy, conservation, environment, trade, and poverty policy that is getting closer and closer in Congress, with a target of September for its completion. I cannot tell you how important this piece of legislation is.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) makes the case for just how critical this piece of legislation is in a post at TPM Café, where he is writing on the issue all week. In this post, he lays out his Food and Farm Bill of Rights:
- Americans have a right to a policy free of special interest giveaways: Current farm policy favors corporate special interests. Fully 70 percent of the payments go to the top 10 percent of farmers, and even more of that benefit is concentrated for the large processors. What’s more, aid is so concentrated in a few powerful states that the support received by most states is almost negligible. We deserve a food and farm policy that serves all Americans, not just the politically-connected.
- American taxpayers have a right to a fiscally responsible policy: Today’s Farm Bill contains some of the federal government’s largest programs. We deserve a food and farm policy that ensures our tax dollars are invested in fiscally sound policies and programs that fit in with the priorities of the American farmer and taxpayer.
- Americans have a right to a policy that serves all farmers: Our current farm policy ensures high profits for a few select commodities while neglecting the needs of many other valuable commodities and smaller producers. In fact, 60 percent of America ’s farmers and ranchers get no support whatsoever. We deserve a food and farm policy that supports producers and helps them access new local markets, thereby generating jobs by adding value to their products.
- Americans have a right to a safe and healthful food supply: Recent crises in food supplies (Hurricanes Katrina and Rita) and food safety (fresh spinach and tainted pet foods) are painful reminders of the vulnerability of our food supplies and distribution systems. We deserve a food and farm policy that guarantees a safe and healthful food supply in this country, in good times and in bad.
- American children have a right to good nutrition: Children who are hungry perform poorly in school and are at greater risk for long-term health problems. We deserve a food and farm policy that makes sure our children are well nourished by allowing more healthful choices and opening up access to fruits and vegetables.
- Americans have a right to local supplies of fresh food: Too many Americans do not have the option of buying affordable, locally-grown fresh food. We deserve a food and farm policy that includes programs that deliver healthy food to all communities, regardless of location, class, or economic standing.
- Americans have a right to a policy that promotes energy independence: The pursuit of heavily subsidized corn-based ethanol is a fool’s game fueled only by massive government subsidies and regulations not justified by the science or economics. We deserve a food and farm policy that enables our farmers and ranchers to produce vast quantities of renewable energy: wind, solar, in some cases small-scale hydro, geothermal and biomass.
- Americans have a right to a policy that protects the environment: Virtually every urban area is surrounded by productive farmland that also provides important environmental services – wildlife habitat, carbon sinks, clean water – as well as landscapes and vistas that define our sense of place. We deserve a food and farm policy that promotes good stewardship of the environment and our natural resources.
- Americans have a right to preserve farmland from sprawl: In many areas of the country the pressures of sprawl are forcing farmers off of their land. We deserve a food and farm policy that gives farmers the tools they need to protect their land – and our heritage – from development pressures.
- Americans have a right to a policy that fosters sustainable farming practices: The current farm policy offers conflicting messages about good farming practices, sometimes promoting sustainable practices while other times offering incentives that undermine the long-term health of our soil and water resources. We deserve a food and farm policy that enables farmers to be responsible with their land so that they can pass it on to the next generation.
This is big time ambitious for this gigantic bill, it is stuffed to the gills with legacy programs that have long benefitted corporate agriculture and the status quo. These corporate constitutents still have a powerful hold in Congress, and won't give up the goodies they've long felt they were entitled to easily. We'll be lucky if a quarter of his proposals could be enacted in this version of the bill, but it's an excellent set of goals for where we should be taking farm policy in the coming decades.
You can participate in the discussion about the bill over the next several days at TPM Café and at Blumenauer's Food & Farms Bill of Rights page. For a great overview of the bill and all its historic problems, see Whose Subsidy Is It Anyway at In These Times and the Farm Bill diary series at MyDD.
H/T to DKos
Rising gasoline prices have been getting all the attention, but the cost of another, more-important staple is actually rising even more: food.Some of this is due to higher prices for the corn that feed cattle and chickens because so much corn is being demanded for ethanol production, but some of it is also due to rising fuel costs. As the article says we haven't seen the end of it either.
In the past year, food prices have increased 3.7 percent and are on track to jump by as much as 7 percent by year's end. The current increase is more than double the 1.8 percent jump seen the year before, according to the consumer price index.
Meanwhile, gas prices rose 2.9 percent. Only the cost of health care rose more, and then just slightly.
It really kind of ticks me off about the ethanol thing since using corn to produce fuel is one of the least efficient ways to produce energy. It actually takes more energy to produce ethanol from corn than is derived from the resultant ethanol. It takes a tremendous about of oil to produce the fertilizers that growing corn demands. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
"Our goal is political extinction for war supporters." now there is a slogan and concept I can get behind. The next three months are going to tell the tale with respect to Iraq. The trend of violence against Americans is going very rapidly in the wrong direction. Over the next three months it will help if you call your elected representatives and express your disfavor with Bush's "not excellent adventure". Let's not give them any respite over the summer...we sure as hell know our men and women in Iraq aren't going to get any.
Both efforts seek to ensure that anxious Republican lawmakers — many of whom have said they want to wait until September to assess President Bush's Iraq strategy — get no break from the war over the summer.
"The debate on Iraq will continue," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) said last week. Pelosi, who in March helped push Democrats to embrace a withdrawal of American combat forces, has pledged that the House will vote on numerous measures aimed at ending the war.
Tom Matzzie, campaign manager for Americans Against Escalation in Iraq, the leading coalition against the war, promised an equally unpleasant summer for Republicans whenever they return home.
"Our job is to go into the congressional districts of members and create a political environment that is toxic," he said. "The public is there already. It is really about focusing their anger."…
"But it is incredibly important that the debate continue in June and July. It keeps the pressure on the White House, and it keeps the pressure on Republicans to break with the president," he said. "At a minimum, we need to be building … for a showdown in September."
While antiwar lawmakers push ahead, so too will the antiwar groups that have played an influential role in the national debate over Iraq.
Americans Against Escalation in Iraq, a coalition of organizations including MoveOn.org, VoteVets.org and the Service Employees International Union, plans to hire 80 people this summer to organize rallies and other protest activities aimed primarily at Republican lawmakers, Matzzie said.
The coalition also plans an aggressive television advertising campaign, particularly against Republicans who are up for reelection next year and seen as vulnerable, such as Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, John E. Sununu of New Hampshire and Norm Coleman of Minnesota.
"Our goal," Matzzie said, "is political extinction for war supporters."
Sunday, June 03, 2007
Global warming is accelerating three times more quickly than feared, a series of startling, authoritative studies has revealed.
They have found that emissions of carbon dioxide have been rising at thrice the rate in the 1990s. The Arctic ice cap is melting three times as fast - and the seas are rising twice as rapidly - as had been predicted.
News of the studies - which are bound to lead to calls for even tougher anti-pollution measures than have yet been contemplated - comes as the leaders of the world's most powerful nations prepare for the most crucial meeting yet on tackling climate change.
The issue will be top of the agenda of the G8 summit which opens in the German Baltic resort of Heiligendamm on Wednesday, placing unprecedented pressure on President George Bush finally to agree to international measures.
The study, published by the US National Academy of Sciences, shows that carbon dioxide emissions have been increasing by about 3 per cent a year during this decade, compared with 1.1 per cent a year in the 1990s.
It is time for the rest of the world leaders to tell Bush to quit trying to delay and obfuscate the issue of Global Warming and get the U.S. taking the hard actions that are going to be necessary to get us an even chance of surviving this.
Saturday, June 02, 2007
Thanks Steve for your attention and contribution to the progressive dialog on the web. We are sorry to lose your voice.
Update: Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake actually got a chance to spend some face to face time with Steve last year. Her remembrance is special.
Friday, June 01, 2007
Here is something that I grew up with and I bet a lot of you from the South did as well. They always were a fixture in the little grocery store that us kids used to trek to with our wagons full of found bottles. There was always that big old jar of pickled eggs and almost always there were also jars of pickled pigs feet, pickled sausages and another of big jar of sour pickles. While the money we earned from collecting bottles along the road more often than not went to ice cream, candy and soda there were also many times it went for a pickled egg or a pickled sausage. It is not unusual to still see these jars of pickled goods in country stores around the south.
My mother and grandmother both made pickled eggs at home but both were partial to pickling them with beets to make them nice and red. I love those too but I am especially partial to just the plain old pickled egg. They are easy to make but the only bad thing it takes about four long weeks before they are ready to eat.
Anyhow, here you go. The picture above are the ones I made this morning...can't wait until July.
A dozen hard cooked large eggs peeled ( I am assuming here that everyone knows how to properly hard cook an egg. Take the eggs pierce the (round end where the air bubble is) with a pin. Put the eggs in a pan and cover with tap water. Put the pan on the stove and bring to a boil then turn the heat off and cover the eggs and let them sit in the hat water for 13 minutes. Rinse them for a bit in cool running water then tap them to just barely crack the shell and put them in a bowl of ice water for 15 minutes before you try and peel them.)
2 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of kosher salt
2 teaspoons pickling spice
3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional but I like my eggs a little spicy)
6 cloves of garlic peeled and halved
1 quart glass jar with lid
Heat all of the ingredients in a sauce pan until it boils. Pour this mixture over the eggs in the jar making sure the eggs are covered and then refrigerate for 4 weeks before serving. These will last in the fridge for a couple of months thereafter but mine are usually gone in a couple of weeks. Technically the acidity would keep these eggs from spoiling at room temperature but I like the idea of keeping them cool.
I bought a new bicycle yesterday and took my first bicycle ride in years. It was a bit wobbly but fun. Even though I try and get a brisk 3 mile walk in everyday the muscles used in bicycling are evidently quite different. Seems like I am going to have to work up to this. The walking everyday is good exercise but it is starting to wear on my knees a little so I thought I might mix in some cycling. I only cycled about 5 or 6 miles yesterday and with the hills involved I know it today.
After shopping around I settled on what is now called a hybrid bicycle (Giant Cypress DX) which is sort of a cross between a mountain and road bike. It has a front suspension and 24 speeds and has an aluminum frame so it is pretty light but sturdy. It has bigger tires than a road bike but not as big as a mountain bike. Looks like just the answer for getting a little exercise.
As for the skin tight riding pants...I will give you the same answer I gave Madam. Not on your life!