moldybluecheesecurds 2

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Four recommendations for Obama, from a liberal

MinnPost - The cries and whispers of liberals:
  • "Don't get totally preoccuped with health care. Go after strong financial system reforms.
  • Embrace real populism
  • Don't tolerate the filibuster
  • "Be less like JFK and more like LBJ."

Monday, January 25, 2010

Turn Down the Heat When You're Out

Some folks I've talked to were under the impression that turning the heat down when you leave doesn't net much energy savings because the house has to warm back up. This guy's got the scoop on why lowering the temperature nets you more savings despite having to warm/cool the house again.

Ask Pablo: Turn Down The Heat! : TreeHugger: "Dear Pablo: I have heard that using a programmable thermostat to lower the temperature while you are out saves energy but isn't the same amount of energy used to bring the temperature back up when you come home?

The short answer is no. Because the rate of heat transfer through an insulated (or uninsulated for that matter) floor, ceiling, or wall is dependent on the temperature difference between the inside and outside air, less energy is lost to the outside when the inside air is cooler."

Friday, January 22, 2010

Bees like a varied diet

I wrote a fair amount about colony collapse disorder and bees when it first hit the news last year. Research has continued and one big finding is that species diversity (of pollinating plants) is crucial to bee health. The more varied the diet, the more robust the bee, and the more able to resist pathogens.
TreeHugger: "Apparently bees' immune systems are healthier when they are fed pollen from a wider variety of plants than when they eat only one thing."
So in addition to not whacking bees with neurotoxins, it may be better to let bees sample a lot of different pollen sources, not just eat what they get on the road.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What Democrats Stand For

This was an anonymous note from a Capitol Hill staffer in response to the victory of Scott Brown for the Massachusetts Senate seat, narrowing the Democratic margin to 59-41 in the Senate.
Talking Points Memo: "The worst is that I can't help but feel like the main emotion people in the [Democratic] caucus are feeling is relief at this turn of events. Now they have a ready excuse for not getting anything done...This is my life and I simply can't answer the fundamental question: "what do Democrats stand for?""
I'm so angry at this note I can't express it. Citizens did not elect Democrats to look for excuses, we wanted things done. And if it's hard to figure out what those things are, then let me remind you why we are Democrats.

We are Democrats because we believe:
1) Everyone should have an opportunity in life.
Thus, we support free public education, universal health insurance, and all of the other crucial building blocks for equal opportunity.

2) Everyone should pay their fair share
Rich folks get rich because the "socialist" government enforces rules that make markets work, builds the infrastructure crucial for market operation. That's why rich folks - who have received greater benefit - should pay more. Warren Buffet should not, as he does, pay a lower effective tax rate than his secretary. He should pay more.

3) The process must be fair
We use government to ensure opportunity and fair shares because it's the only institution that is created by and for the people. We elect it and we don't have to own stock to have a vote.

When we elect a lot of Democrats (like 59 of them in the Senate), it means there's a mandate to create opportunity and fairness by enacting health care reform, disciplining financial "innovators", and transforming America to clean energy to save the planet and our economy.

So dry your tears, get off your ass (pardon the pun) and deliver. You've got 11 months.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Post-Partisanship Epic Fail?

FiveThirtyEight: "the Democrats, from the White House on downward, have gotten a remarkably poor return on the investment of their political capital. The failures are more tactical than strategic."
In response to some Democrats who suggest that the election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts changes things, I say, "yes."

We know that a Democrat who runs a shitty campaign in a Blue state will lose. We know that Republicans will absolutely, universally oppose anything that gives you any bit of political victory. We know that we don't need the minority party to come along when we have policy that is popular with the public.

It's time to run right at those fuckers.

Scott Brown Wins Mass. Race, Giving GOP 41-59 Majority in the Senate - New York News - Runnin' Scared

New York News - Runnin' Scared: "The lesson, as always, is that when Democrats win, they lose, and when they lose, they are obliterated."

This is great satire, and an indictment of Democrats for refusing to ram some good policy through when they own Congress and the White House. As Jon Stewart said, Democrats have a larger majority in Congress than Republicans have had since 1923. If Bush got stuff done, then Dems damn well better do it.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Socialism is awful

Found by friend CM in an online forum:

This morning I was awoken by my alarm clock powered by socialist electricity generated by the public power monopoly regulated by the US Department of Energy. I then took a shower in the socialist clean water provided by the municipal water utility. After that, I turned on the socialist radio to one  of the FCC regulated channels to hear what the socialist National Weather Service of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration determined the weather was going to be like using socialist satellites designed, built, and launched by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. I watched this while eating my breakfast of socialist US Department of Agriculture inspected food and taking the socialist drugs which have been determined as safe by the Food and Drug Administration.

At the appropriate time, as kept accurate by the socialist National Institute of Standards and Technology and the US Naval Observatory, I get into my socialist National Highway Traffic Safety Administration approved automobile and get out to work on the socialist roads build by the socialist local, state, and federal departments of transportation, possibly stopping to purchase additional fuel of a quality level determined by the socialist Environmental Protection Agency, using socialist legal tender issued by the Federal Reserve Bank.  On the way out the door, I deposit any mail I have to be sent out via the socialist US Postal Service and drop the kids off at the socialist public school. If I get lost, I can use my socialist GPS navigation technology developed by the United States Department of Defense and made available to the public in 1996 by President Bill Clinton who issued a policy directive declaring socialist GPS to be a dual use military civilian system to be managed as a national socialist asset.

After spending another day not being maimed or killed at work thanks to the socialist workplace regulations imposed by the Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, enjoying another two meals which again do not kill me because of the socialist USDA, I drive my socialist NHTSA car back home on the socialist DOT roads, to my house which has not burned down in my absence because of the socialist state and local building codes and socialist fire marshal’s inspection, and which has not been plundered of all it’s valuables thanks to the socialist local police department.

I then get on my computer and use the socialist Internet which was developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration and browse the socialist World Wide Web using my graphical web browser, both made possible by Al Gore’s socialist High Performance Computing and Communication Act of 1991. I then post on <>  and fox news forums about how SOCIALISM in medicine is BAD because the government can’t do anything right.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Do we need Flintstone's vitamins?

MinnPost: "But is there any truth to that widely held prescription for health? Does the typical American really need vitamin and mineral supplements?"
I always took my vitamins as a kid and for a while as an adult, believing that it was a key part of having a healthy diet. But I've been coming across more discussion recently that the jury is out on regular use of multivitamins as general dietary supplements.

The issue is a big one, of course, because if there aren't significant health effects, then people are paying for an expensive placebo.

In some ways, I like giving up vitamins, because it makes me feel more responsible for getting proper nutrition from the food I eat.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

A Democratic Exodus, or a Little Media Spin?

The two high-profile retirement announcements of CT Senator Dodd and ND Senator Dorgan have got the Washington media establishment all aflutter about a Democratic exodus. But the Washington Monthly is one of the few media outlets providing context:
The Washington Monthly: "Quick quiz: which party has more Senate retirements so far this campaign cycle, Democrats or Republicans? Follow-up question: which party has more House retirements so far this campaign cycle, Democrats or Republicans?"
Senate: 6 Rs, 2 Ds
House: 14 Rs, 10 Ds

Who has an exodus?

Summary of NPR coverage of new airport security restrictions

  • There are some new rules, but nobody knows what they are, and Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano actually said they are "designed to be unpredictable."
  • Women sometimes have to throw away cosmetics, which they didn't have to do before
  • Women subject to pat down searches that would have "found explosives in my bra"
  • Israeli passengers are sanguine, because they always have had tight restrictions
Questions they might have missed:
  1. What are the new rules?
  2. No, really.  What are the rules?  
  3. Isn't transparency important so that airline passengers can prepare (and avoid having play-doh confiscated)?
  4. Isn't transparency important so that policies are enforced consistently across all airports? 
  5. How do the new rules ensure that another "underwear bomber" would not be able to bring explosives on a plane?  (since it seems that nothing has changed in certain international airports and many terrorists have not come from the 14 countries targeted)
Let's try asking some tougher questions, eh?

Monday, January 04, 2010

Common Disinfectants Create Mutant Superbugs

TreeHugger: "While it is important that hospitals be virtually bacteria-free, at home it's important to clean regularly, but 'not the chair you sit in every day or the telephone or the doorknobs if you're a reasonably healthy person,' according to Fleming."

Climate change in 2 photos (update: or not)

Update 12:50pm: Reader rick notes that this comparison is unfair. From the original article on iceboating:
The Toronto Harbour Commission, a five-man committee set up by the city and federal government in 1911, was tasked with modernizing the harbour to accommodate the largest commercial ships. Among the wide array of improvements undertaken, the Western Gap, the narrow western entrance to the harbour long unpopular with larger ships because it was difficult to keep dredged to an adequate depth, was altered. A new channel was dredged just to the south (and the old gap was filled in). As a result of the shifting currents caused by these changes, along with the increasing necessity for grain-storage ships to shift from slip to slip in the winter months, ice no longer formed as regularly or as thickly as before.

TreeHugger: "Two local blogs show two very different views of people using Toronto's waterfront"

Early 1900s: iceboating
Early 2000s: swimming

Cool chart: health care spending v. life expectancy

FiveThirtyEight: Chart