Showing posts from 2009

Progress! (The verb. An admonition)

How About Some (brilliant) actual Progressives for Obama's Economic Advisers?

Oh, now that it's out that Lawrence Summers blitzed Harvard for a billion bucks with derivatives (not to mention a huge whack to its gender equality image),

... doesn't our Prez now have the perfect excuse to put some, you know, real Democrats into the financial cat bird seats?

I recommend Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman,


Texas University's James Galbraith (Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. Chair in Government/Business Relations and Professor of Government.)

If you haven't seen these guys on TV, on the Net, in print or somewhere, you are just not paying attention. They are SMART (and I happen to think, right on economic issues).

At the very minimum they look more alert than Summers.

Wonderful, Wonderful Coping With Deniers

The Flat Ten Years of Climate Temperature

Never mind the stolen climatologists' e-mails (aka Climate-gate), the biggie among climate change deniers is the fact that worldwide temperatures have been more or less flat for the last ten years or so. "SEE!?" they say, "NO WARMING!"

Well, three things: (1.) The flat temperature where the thermometer is stuck is still warm enough to be melting the North Polar Cap and glaciers all over the world, i.e. "stuck on warm." (2.) A likely reason for the pause in warming is that the sun is in "the deepest solar minimum in almost 100 years" cutting its radiation to the Earth - a situation not likely to last very long. (3.) In the context of even a brief period of time - one century - this flat spot is just a normal wiggle in the temperature graph.

See the flattening there? (top chart, right side) When the sun "wakes up," you can bet the line will start up again.

Trends aren't smooth lines. T…

Vertical Farming

Running Out of Water, Land and Trees
Gotta love this:
Now THAT's a farm! Check it out. And this baby produces food 24/7/365, using a tiny percentage of the water the same production would use in flat farming. (Still Sci-Fi, btw.)

On a smaller scale there is Valcent. (Full disclosure: I bought some penny shares in Valcent.)
And further pumping up my Sci-Fi sense, when we master farming vertically, we will be ready to grow greens on the moon and Mars. Gotta have your greens, SpaceBusters.
Look ahead; behind is a mess.

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

Create These Jobs, Oh Government o'Mine

I hear from the right (a lot), "The government create jobs? Riiight." Like that is impossible. Well how about fixing some pure government stuff, like this:

As Sewers Fill, Waste Poisons Waterways

Yuck! This N.Y. Times headline spun me around a few times. Let's face it, sewer systems are mosdef government thangs. So fix them! Expand them! Hire a bunch of people ("create jobs"), buy lots of concrete and steel (American, of course, creating jobs), buy mucho equipment (from American manufacturers, creating jobs), and get underwayright away, PLEASE.

How many jobs would be created? I'm guessing tens of thousands, but I am but a blogger, bud, so I really don't know. However, this paragraph from the Times article makes it sound reasonable:

"In the last three years alone, more than 9,400 of the nation’s 25,000 sewage systems — including those in major cities — have reported violating the law by dumping untre…

Stand By Your Man

How to Respond to Reeely Rotten Politics

Wow, the hard Right is pee-ing all over President B. H. Obama. The Moonies' Washington Times revisited the whole Birther thing in a sideways slap at the Prez as "not one of us enough to know how wrong he is." (Heard about it on Rachel Maddow, MSNBC.)

So if the right is going to get (stay) irrational, untruthful and just nasty, maybe the rest of us shouldn't be so hard on Obama if he's not moving as fast as we'd like on some issues. I mean, he's had almost a year, for heaven's sake!

We snipe a lot, apparently expecting him to be FDR, Teddy Roosevelt and Abe Lincoln all rolled into one right away. Now. Today. Ooops, too late.

So let's keep our support for the issues and principles we believe in, and our backing for the best guy likely to come along for a while for getting them done.

I'm just saying...

Oh, Those Dogs

Those Blasted Blue Dogs

Don't I remember a lot of media noise during the 2006 Democratic take-back of Congress about how one way they did it was to nominate appropriate candidates in normally red districts and states who could ride the wave of Bush nausea and beat the incumbent Republicans?

And what amounted to "appropriate?" Why conservative Dems, of course. What a concept!

Now, what do I get on the e-mail machine? "Let's Beat the BlueDogs - and Blanche Lincoln!"

This apparent rethinking of the 2006 strategy comes from

That's the "Progressive Wing" of the Dems. I hear no contradiction from the center of the Dems, where ever that is. (Kerry? Bingaman?)

Ah, well. I'm just finishing a book about Harry Truman (more later on that), and I'm reminded that politics is a mysterious art.

Picture credit: Michele Spiziri here.

A Conservative I Could Get Along With

The Frumster

Some of my best friends are Republicans. Seriously. However, only a tiny fraction are ultra-right-wingers. (Note the restraint. I did not say "wingnuts," which I think reflects the poison in our polarization.)

For the record, I think two strong parties with opposing, well-defined ideas for solving our problems and facilitating The Pursuit of Happiness, Justice for All, etc, is the way it oughta be here in the U.S.A.

However, the collapse of the current Republican Party into internecine warfare between the Tea Partiers and the Big Tenters is NOT helping the Repubs define their ideas for solutions and facilitations.

David Frum, ex-W guy and author of "Comeback; Conservatism That Can Win Again," vividly spells out the problem with the Tea Party approach; NO SOLUTIONS. Check it out.
So I say (in awe of myself for my open mindedness) that if David Frum suddenly replaced Sen Jim DeMint/Michael Steele as the main conservative thinker, I might put some of my…

Repower America Web Thang

Not Transparent Enuff

OK, I tried to put my vote on the wall of and my Internet powers failed me. It's a simple vote for clean energy, with a picture if you want it. I did a high wire act by our solar panels and I can't seem to get in on, so here:
There was some text that says something like "Clean energy makes even olde guys feel righteous." Be advised I did not fall off the roof.

So if it ever comes up on you know from whence it came.

The SECOND Bill of Rights

What Should Democrats Stand For? I hear a lot of "It can't be just anti-Trump. Democrats need a vision for our country.
In the midst of World War II, FDR had the time and the sense to make a very important point.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt: "In our day certain economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. " A second Bill of Rights ....under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, or race, or creed. Among these are:
1. The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines throughout the nation.  2. The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation.  3. The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living.  4. The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom, freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad. 5. The right …

The "Hidden" Causes of Obesity

Lookee, lookee... the "press" might be waking up to stuff a modest blogger has been saying for a while.
The Obesity Epidemic Isn't Just About Willpower"Overeaters now find themselves in the same category as smokers or drug addicts, tainted with the aura of moral weakness and lack of willpower." so sayethU.S. News & World Report.

Check out:
The Fat American Mystery - New Clues [Updated]Hopeless Fat [Updated]Plastics for Obeisity, Cancer and Diabetes - UPDATESo maybe America (and a lot of the rest of the world) didn't just suddenly lose its willpower after all? Maybe the processed food industry and the chemical industry had something to do with it?

Health Insurance Being HONEST?

Er....I mean...

The bizarre PriceWaterhouse Coopers "research" released by American's Health Insurance Plans (the health insurance industry) is the perfect argument for the PUBLIC OPTION.

Check out their conclusions as you can by any media report or direct reference to their "research."

I keep putting that in quotes because research it ain't. It is skewed, selective "fact" choice and strongly biased conclusions meant to frighten Americans into seeing healthcare reform as the bigbadboogieman. I hope we are a society too savvy to fall for that emotional BS.

But non-fear-laden conclusions from what they say about private insurance premiums in light of the Baucus Committee bill (sort of) say volumes about where the private health insurance companies are AT.

1. If they can't get a "safe" risk pool (98% of the population), they can't make their God-granted profit margin. (As it is, they create safe pools by weeding out the sick people w…

Death In Perspective

New estimate of how many Americans die each year because they don't have health insurance - 45,000 a year. That's up from the already staggering 18,000 we have been hearing.

Since the study seems sound (Harvard researchers), I was moved to crank out a PowerPoint slide. Now that's taking action!

Take a look:

Sources: Afghanistan; Iraq; Vehicle crashes; No health insurance

SEEMS like we should do something about that yellow bar.

p.s. Want to hear a really scary death statistic? 440,000/year from smoking.

Cure for Stupidity... In Only 8 Years!

HOW MANY TIMES...Have we all seen great news about... ... a science "breakthrough" story with the promise of some cure or another [my favs: obesity, brain cancer, aging, etc.] but it will be years before we can get an actual prescription in our aging hands?Now there's "translational medicine!" This is the go-from-basic-discovery-to-human-applications-at-warp-speed idea. I love the way the people in this new-ish field think. Here's an excerpt from an article in Science Magazine. (You have to be a subscriber to read it.) It's kind of a how-to on making translational medicine work:

Recommendations for the Future Our analysis documents objectively show the long length of time that passes between discovery and translation. As scientists, we should convey to our funders and the public the immense difficulty of the scientific discovery process. Successful translation is demanding and takes a lot of effort and time even under the best circumstances; making u…

HELP! I Don't Want to be a ZOMBIE or a ROBOT!


Neither Zombie... Nor Robot

Get your act together. Develop a foolproof program that will tell me if my computer has been taken over by bad guys for bad business. And then DESTROYEEE the worm/virus/slimeware!
Surely this isn't too much to ask.
Pix:;; Robbie the... (several locations)

Single Payer Redux

As you who patiently wait long periods between posts know, the old Duffer is a strong supporter of single payer health insurance, my one unabashed opinion that's pro "socialism." Here's a paragraph from a May 30, '09 article in the NY Times:

"Public opinion polls suggest that many consumers would like to have the choice of a public plan. But insurance companies and Republican lawmakers say a public plan could drive private insurers out of business and lead eventually to a single-payer system run by the government."

The "many consumers" mentioned are in the 55-65% range, depending on how the polling questions are asked.

Read the NYT article at

And you are invited to see the whole "Duffer Plan" on single payer and how to make it happen at

Obama Speech Recommendation - DECISIONS without FEAR

Here's another brazen suggestion for what Prez Obama might say to the Joint Session of Congress next Tuesday. (I've played this game before. See this.)

The Fearless Usually Win

When things are scary, it’s time to be rational.Be cool.Keep your head while all about you are losing theirs.Be a leader and show the frightened how not to lose their heads. It’s time for all of us to be leaders.The rational, cool thing for Americans to do in this economic situation is to make spending decisions without fear.For instance, if you need a new machine at your small business for productivity or safety reasons, and you have thought it through carefully, don’t let fear keep you from making the right decision.Or if you think some work on landscaping your house will improve its value in the long run and your personal satisfaction in the short run, don’t let fear lock up your thinking.The “fear” influence on decision-making might cause you to just reject a productive spending decision.Fear can …

Bury Them!


So how much did that Kentucky ice storm cost?

Millions of people without power, plus of course, their factories, shops, offices, banks, government installations, plus the call-up of the whole Kentucky National Guard... on and on, the costs skyrocketed.

Main problem? Power lines. Wires on top of poles, the way we have distributed electricity since the first days of the telegraph set the standard. Power line wires run by and through trees. They not only collect unsupportable ice weight during bad ice storms, but the trees around them are worse, crashing down on millions of lines.

So here we are at the crucial crossroads of a decaying infrastructure that can't function through a normal weather phenomenon (what? a "fifty year storm?"), and an economic meltdown that demands government spending to replace all the missing consumer spending. Simple idea:

Let's start turning overhead power lines into underground power lines. Then bring on the storms, the juice…

Hard to Get the Straight Nutrition News


Hard to Get the Straight Nutrition News

I read – it must be 10-11 years ago – about a medical research study that said people who eat a “helping” of nuts (not peanuts, thank heavens) three to five times a week had about a 45% advantage on the poor nutless for not having a fatal heart attack over any fifteen year period. It seemed like a credible study to me; many thousands of people tracked over fifteen years with full records kept on what they ate and how they got sick, died, etc.

When I recalled this recently (with a handful of walnuts ready to eatin hand), it occurred to me that I have read similar studies claiming similar benefits for eating fish three to five times a week, drinking red wine (but not too much!), cooking everything in olive oil, eating a lot of garlic, eating a lot of “cruciferous” vegetables, drinking the juice of various “superfruit” I have hardly heard of, like gogi, acai, black elderberry plus enough cranberry juice to shrivel one’s tongue… and on and on. …