Blogs

Should 4 Dollar Gas=4 Day Work Week?

| Thu Jul. 10, 2008 5:48 PM EDT

school-bus-170.jpgSchool districts across the country, reacting to wicked high gas prices, are shifting to four-day work weeks—and in some cases asking kids to walk a little farther to catch the bus.

While the potential benefits of having kids walk a bit more are intriguing, is it really possible to cram five days of student learning into four?

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"Eco Nightclub" to Generate Electricity From Dance Floor

| Thu Jul. 10, 2008 5:28 PM EDT

mojo-photo-electricclub.jpgHas anybody ever told you your dance moves are shocking? Wocka wocka! Ahem! A new nightclub in the UK has realized you can get tons of international press by incorporating a few token "green" tricks into your venue [Edit: as Nichole Wong already covered over here on Blue Marble, whoops]. Actually, that's mean, some of the ideas seem pretty good. The club, called Surya, will feature its own solar energy system and will offer free admission to cyclists and walkers (although how they know you didn't just get out of the cab around the corner is anybody's guess). Then there are the iffy ideas: "air flush" waterless urinals and low flush toilets might work at your home or office, but after seeing a variety of different nightclub bathrooms, let me just say I wouldn't recommend reducing flush capacity there in any way. Finally, there's the grabber: dance floor power!

The dancefloor uses the concept of piezoelectricity, where crystals and ceramics create a charge to generate electricity. "We estimate that if you had loads of clubbers dancing vigorously it would provide 60 percent of the club's energy needs," said the club's promoter.

Hey, baby, wanna join me on the floor and generate some sparks? No? Somebody used that line on you already? Like 300 times? Okay, fine, I'm heading for the air flush urinals.

As McCain Disavows Gramm, a Top Aide Implies Gramm Partly To Blame for the Economy

| Thu Jul. 10, 2008 3:55 PM EDT

Phil Gramm is in the headlines today--being slammed by Democrats and disavowed by the McCain campaign--for complaining to The Washington Times that "we have sort of become a nation of whiners." Gramm, who chairs John McCain's campaign and who advises the presumptive Republican nominee on economic matters, pooh-poohed talk of a recession: "You've heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession." The former Republican Senator and current vice president of Swiss bank UBS dismissed talk of US economic woes and declared, "We've never been more dominant; we've never had more natural advantages than we have today. We have benefited greatly" from globalization.

Predictably, liberal bloggers and Democrats blasted Gramm for being out of touch with the real world. The McCain camp initially stood by their man but then distanced itself from Gramm's remarks, with a McCain spokesman saying, "Gramm's comments are not representative of John McCain's views."

But as this tempest was under way, another Gramm story went little noticed: a top McCain aide indirectly implicated Gramm in the current economic mess.

On Thursday, Portfolio magazine released an interview with Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO who is now a top adviser and surrogate for McCain. In that article interviewer Lloyd Grove asked Fiorina "who and/or what is to blame for the souring economy?" Her answer:

Raleigh Man Chooses To Retire Instead of Honoring Helms

| Thu Jul. 10, 2008 3:40 PM EDT

A 51-year-old employee of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture chose to retire rather than lower a flag to half mast in honor of the late former senator Jesse Helms, reports the Charlotte Observer.

And it wasn't like L.F. Eason III, a registered Democrat, hadn't lowered other flags during his 29-year tenure at the lab where he worked:

...Eason said he had no problems lowering the flag for former Sen. Terry Sanford or President Ronald Reagan. But he remembers wondering whether he would be able to lower the flag after President Richard Nixon's funeral.

Wonder whether Eason had mulled this protest over beforehand, or if it was a game-time decision. Given the fact that Helms was in the senate even before Eason got his job at the lab, he certainly had time to think about it.

Heather Mac Donald: The Thinking Bigot's Ann Coulter

| Thu Jul. 10, 2008 3:20 PM EDT

I warned y'all to watch Heather Mac Donald.

The rest of us bloviators may have slowed down for the summer, but not Ms. Mac Donald. While the anti-Negro crusade remains her lode star, she takes a break now and then to dog women. I mean, feminism. Thank god that all those poor, oppressed white men have her to champion the sorry state to which they have been reduced.

I certainly understand the rigors of producing columns when nothing newsworthy strikes your fancy, but she spends a whole lotta words bemoaning the whole lotta words that the Times spent on a campaign at the no doubt ritzy Phoenix Country Club to equalize the sex-segregated facilities for which members pay bazillions each year:

Slang White People Like

| Thu Jul. 10, 2008 2:51 PM EDT

I don't know much about the folks at Soft Skull Media. Apparently, it's some kind of underground publishing house, or used to be. I dunno. But, I got a 'please review this book' plea from them today, which is utterly unusual in my line of work, free books being one of the decidedly few perks of my job. If that sad benny is is meant to offset the myriad "why is Debra Dickerson so stupid" blog posts, it's failing miserably.

Anyway, just another day on the job, just another pitch for a book which, for once, sounds at least initially interesting, until I get to the sign-off: "Holler for review copies, eh?". Holler, not holla, but in either case: ironic wiggerness in the workplace.

I'm intellectually anal-retentive, so I can't help but burn daylight wondering: Did potential white reviewers get the same sign-off? Or have white folks developed several sets of 'pitch' macros with labels like "black, but an Uncle Tom who'll find this ironic," "white, but living in dream world wherein they're cool," and "confused, but too cowed to make waves."?

I don't know if it's better or worse that it's not a 'black' book...ok. It's better. But just what is it with white folks and black slang? And how do y'all know when it's appropriate?

And since we're on the subject: Why is the cabbage patch the universal dance of white joy?

I'm gonna ask the Soft Skull folks what up with the 'holler' and how long the staff meeting in which they debated the merits of 'holler' vs 'holla' was. Maybe they were being ironic. I often use formulations (with white institutions) such as "give a sister a...." etc—but I do it to be a bitch who makes her white friends uncomfortable in a way in which they can't respond. What's their motivation?

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Glacier Growth Caused by Climate Change?

| Thu Jul. 10, 2008 2:05 PM EDT

shasta150.jpg
As we already know, most of the world's ice is melting fast. Not so on California's Mt. Shasta, where glaciers are actually growing because of global warming.

Here's how it works: The Pacific Ocean is warmer now than in years past. Warmer temperatures mean more moisture, which in turn means more snowfall on Mt. Shasta.

This is not the case for other nearby mountain ranges. The Sierra Nevada range, which is just 500 miles south of Mt. Shasta, is losing ice—in fact, it has lost about half its ice over the past 100 years.

Like Antarctica's increasing sea ice, the Mt. Shasta glaciers are another piece of evidence that global warming is a little more complicated than most of us think.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia Creative Commons.

What's the Most Polluting Car?

| Thu Jul. 10, 2008 1:20 PM EDT

suv.jpgForbes.com has published a list of the ten dirtiest cars. Or more accurately—vehicles, since all but a few are SUVs and trucks. (And surprise! The Hummer isn't number one).

The list order is mostly based on the EPA's air pollution rankings, but to break ties, Forbes.com also took into account vehicles' carbon footprints. The nadir of the coverage is in their "Tips for Polluting Less":

Experts say that realizing even minor improvements in fuel economy among the worst polluters on the road is the most efficient way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions overall. For example, choosing a base GMC Yukon with a 5.3-liter V8, which gets 16 mpg overall, instead of the high-end Denali version and its 14-mpg 6.2-liter V8 would save more than 130 gallons of gasoline per year for the typical driver, and eliminate 1.7 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, says Therese Langer, transportation program director for the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Langer then goes on to say that "achieving the same savings through improvements to a 42-mpg Honda Civic Hybrid would require a 25-mpg boost, to 67 mpg."

So let's get this straight: Consumers should feel good about choosing a Yukon SUV over a hybrid, since the Yukon is way more efficient than the Denali? That's kind of like trying to lose weight by eating a ho-ho instead of a ding-dong.

Full top ten list after the jump.

Rove Is a No-Show

| Thu Jul. 10, 2008 9:52 AM EDT

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Members of the House Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law didn't even wait until the 10 a.m. mark to declare former presidential adviser Karl Rove a no-show this morning. The committee had subpoenaed Rove to appear to discuss the politicization of the Justice Department and allegations of selective prosecution of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman. But Rove, through his lawyer, asserted that "as a close advisor to the President," he is "immune from compelled Congressional testimony."

Committee Chairwoman Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) was having none of that, saying, "I hereby rule that Mr. Rove's claims of immunity are not legally valid, and his refusal to comply with the subpoena and appear at this hearing to answer questions cannot be properly justified." In her official statement, she pointed out that if Rove wants to assert executive privilege, he still has to show up and do it before the committee, not in some lame letter from his lawyer. Sanchez observed that the Judiciary Committee has already seen a parade of witnesses from the White House who have not made this argument, most notably, David Addington, Dick Cheney's chief of staff, who, while clearly hostile, did actually make the trip up the Hill to testify recently on the administration's torture and interrogation policies. Scott McClellan, the former press secretary, even testified without a subpoena!

Rove's arrogance has clearly irked Sanchez, who disparaged him for failing to cite a single court precedent that would back up his claim to absolute immunity from testifying. Quoting the Supreme Court, Sanchez said, "[n]o man in this country is so high that he is above the law," and "[a]ll the officers of the government, from the highest to the lowest, are creatures of the law and are bound to obey it."

Dems Ready to Cave on Offshore Drilling... In Face of What Pressure?

| Thu Jul. 10, 2008 9:43 AM EDT

This feels like a compromise in search of a conflict. The Democrats in Congress are ready to pass an energy bill that, in exchange for "investments in clean and renewable energies, a crackdown on oil speculators, and proof that the oil and gas companies are fully utilizing land that is already leased for exploration," will legalize additional offshore drilling.

Really? Am I just out of touch? Has there been a public outcry in support of offshore drilling? There was a media war on the subject a while back, and I thought we were able to prove the idea is a useless pander — it won't lower gas prices substantially, it won't put any additional oil on the market for seven to 10 years, it distracts us from serious and long-term energy solutions, etc. And after all that, congressional Dems are just going to cede the issue? Maybe they need to include offshore drilling as a sop to the Republicans in order to get renewable energy provisions in this upcoming bill. Those better be some pretty substantial provisions...