Saturday, August 30, 2008

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Insofar as the ability to make a great speech is a qualification for President, Barack is qualified.

The inspiration we need.

Safety Propositions: ANSI 107-2004

The tour begins... originally uploaded by Strawbleu.

Never play (or work) in traffic without ANSI 107-2004 rated clothing.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Educational Game Saturday: the ReDistricting Game

I never thought I'd play a game that made both election law and map-making fun, but here it is.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Coffee and Cigarettes

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Grow Your Own Food

I like Clive Thompson's optimism about home gardens as sources of food. He makes some great points about the wastefulness of our food system. But I also think he might be overly optimistic about people's ability to keep plants alive given the brown thumb exhibited by some of my co-workers.

Our world faces many food-resource problems, and a massive increase in edible gardening could help solve them. The next president should throw down the gauntlet and demand Americans sow victory gardens once again.

Remember the victory garden? During World Wars I and II, the government urged city dwellers and suburbanites to plant food in their yards. It worked: The effort grew roughly 40 percent of the fresh veggies consumed in the US in 1942 and 1943.These days, we're fighting different battles. Developing nations are facing wrenching shortages of staples like rice. Here at home, we're struggling with a wave of obesity, fueled by too much crappy fast food and too little fresh produce, particularly in poorer areas. Our globalized food stream poses environmental hazards, too: The blueberries I had for lunch came from halfway around the world, in the process burning tons of CO2.

Urban farming tackles all three issues. It could relieve strain on the worldwide food supply, potentially driving down prices. The influx of fresh vegetables would help combat obesity. And when you "shop" for dinner ingredients in and around your home, the carbon footprint nearly disappears. Screw the 100-mile diet — consuming only what's grown within your immediate foodshed — this is the 100-yard diet.

Want to cool cities cheaply? Plant crops on rooftops. This isn't just liberal hippie fantasy, either. Defense hawks ought to love urban farming, because it would enormously increase our food independence — and achieve it without the market distortions of the benighted farm bill. You don't need tomatoes from Mexico if you can pluck them from containers on your office roof.|Clive Thompson on Why Urban Farming Isn't Just for Foodies - Wired|

The End of the Oil Age has an interactive feature that shows the cost of fuel around the world. The price map puts in perspective that the costs that US consumers face aren't high by global standards.

But Americans are certainly concerned about rising energy prices and I'm glad that the price of gas has focused more attention on the end of the oil age.

Grist has a nice chart showing the differences between the presidential candidates on the environment and energy issues.

The most notable difference is in the last column on nuclear power where McCain alone proposes a radical expansion of nuclear power in this country.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Safety Propositions: Don't Trifle with Ambien

Sarah takes Ambien for sleep and since my insomnia is getting worse, I decided to try half of one of her pills. It eventually did make me pass-out but Sarah woke me up in the middle of the night because the dog was barking outside. Apparently she'd gotten away while I was in my Ambien daze and I never even noticed.

The next morning I couldn't find my keys and what's more, I couldn't remember what I'd been wearing the day before to check my pants for my keys. I knew Ambien affected memory formation based on Sarah's experiences, but that freaked me out.

So, I'm staying away from the Ambien and blogging late at night instead when I cannot sleep.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Hard Times

With the price of oil persistently over $100 per barrel on the open market, the world has fallen on hard times indeed.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Devil went down to Georgia

Ian Black and Ian Traynor report on the fallout of Russia's offensive into Georgia.

[While] the Kremlin is celebrating an apparent win-win [in Georgia], much of the world has been appalled at Russia's invasion of a small defenceless neighbour. How will the west respond?

Obama has talked of blocking Russia's ambition to join the World Trade Organisation. There have been calls to throw Russia out of the G8. Some of the former Soviet satellites in eastern Europe now in the EU are calling on Brussels to freeze negotiations with Moscow on a new long-term partnership pact.

But with a surfeit of petro-dollars in the bank and its fingers on the energy valves that keep Europe warm, the Kremlin appears blithely contemptuous of any potential western retribution. Relations between Russia and the west are already poor and will worsen further, but there are unlikely to be any concrete penalties.

"What can have an impact on the Russians without damaging us more than them," asked one of the European officials....

[I]n April at a Nato summit when George Bush argued strongly for starting Georgia towards [NATO] alliance membership and was defeated by Angela Merkel of Germany and Sarkozy of France.

"This is the first time ever that an American president's request was rejected because France and Germany stuck together," said a senior source at the Elysee Palace in Paris.

In a tough statement yesterday, John McCain said the Nato rebuff to Georgia "might have been viewed as a green light by Russia for its attacks on Georgia. I urge the Nato allies to revisit the decision."

But the French and the Germans feel vindicated in rejecting Georgia and are unlikely to bend.

"A country that has such problems and is led by a hot-headed militant does not belong in Nato," said [Alexander Rahr, Russia expert at Germany's Council on Foreign Relations] in Berlin. "It could take the whole alliance hostage and start the third world war." |Georgian conflict leaves west reeling and Russia walking tall - Guardian|
Thank goodness that Merkel and Sarkozy are smarter than Bush.

I feel bad for the Georgian civilians killed, inured or disposessed in this brush war, but the Georgian president poked the Russian bear and received a totally predictable mauling for it.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Solomon's Seal

Solomon's Seal or Polygonatum, originally uploaded by Safety Neal.

Technical Difficulties

A corrupted file has largely kept me off line at home for the last week. My computer slowed to a crawl, and even diagnostic programs were taking forever to run.

But things seem better, at least in this profile.

I've been busy at home and at work. Orientation is this week and I'm helping out Wednesday and Thursday, but tomorrow I give a presentation on legal research to Turkish students which has given me pause to read about Turkish constitutional history. I may be a big nerd, but I found it fascinating...

Since I haven't been online as much, I've used the time to paint Sarah's new study and do some work in the yard. I feel like I'm making progress, today I transplanted some Solomon's Seal (aka Polygonatum via Wikipedia)

Monday, August 04, 2008

Thin Blue Line Overseas

Cop in the Hood has a post on a police officer recently killed in the line of duty in the Netherlands.

This was the fifth police officer killed since World War II.

This is a surprising fact, even if the Netherlands only has 16 million people in a country roughly twice the size of New Jersey.

The Netherlands is an international trading hub and does have a significant criminal presence and I've read of issues with mercenaries for hire and arms trading in the Netherlands in the recent past. For instance, this item on mercenaries recruited in the Netherlands from 1983.

But they are a far more tolerant society with very different ideas about vices such as drugs and prostitution as well as different gun control laws.

Whoever fights monsters

What kind of human monster is George W. Bush?

- Vincent Bugliosi on Book TV