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Member since: Sat Mar 29, 2008, 09:11 PM
Number of posts: 45,851

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Steven Leser has proven that Bernie can win the general

If someone with political opinions as objectively held as a professional pundit can switch in a mere seven years from believing a candidate is a lying Machiavellian manipulator who should never be allowed to hold office to believing that same person is the very best available candidate for President then anyone can change their mind about Socialism and vote for Bernie Sanders.


The only things Hillary's experience seems to be good for is perfecting how to talk out of both sides of her mouth, engaging in the politics of personal destruction and other aspects of her ruthless pursuit of power that remind one of what a Karl Rove might do. That kind of person ought not to be the Democratic nominee.


If that's all her detractors have got, I'm more confident than ever that she is the right candidate.

For Presidential politics at least, social media is in the process of slaughtering the old school

Social media is letting people see politicians and political operatives saying one thing to one audience at one time and a completely opposite thing to another audience at a different time.

Once people really come to grips with how common the practice of political doublespeak is then politics is going to have to change. When every major policy statement a politician or pundit has made is subject to instant video review of their own words in many different settings it seems to me that being both correct and consistent become major political advantages.

One person shooting many people is just the flip side of many people shooting one person

I think probably the image that comes to mind the most to me is the truck of the wrong make and color that got shot up by trained professional police officers during the hunt for the LA cop killer. The two women who were delivering papers in the truck were amazingly fortunate to survive.

The fact is we live in a society where violence is not just acceptable but the preferred method of accomplishing all sorts of things. Our politicians laugh and claim credit when foreign leaders are assassinated by mobs, and that's the liberal ones.

Mass gun violence is a symptom of a broken society, focusing on gun control as the only solution implies that machete control would have prevented the mass killings in Rwanda. Focusing strictly on the symptom is a way of avoiding paying attention the cause, a vastly alienating society in which violence is accepted right at the top of of the social pyramid.

I'm reminded of an old Yakov Smirnoff joke, "In Soviet Russia was dog eat dog, in America is other way around."

Made in China—Cheap at the Store, Costly for the Earth


In a new study, researchers found that goods made in China have much higher carbon dioxide emissions than the same products manufactured in other countries. That’s because the factories making them rely on antiquated technologies and processes and source much of their energy from heavy carbon-emitting coal-fired power plants.

One of the worst-polluting culprits identified was petrochemical plants, which produce propylene—the main ingredient in most plastic products—to feed growing demand from first-world countries such as the U.S.

“To make a pound of propylene in China is 21 times more carbon-intensive than to produce it in the EU,” said Steven Davis, an energy scientist at the University of California, Irvine.

He, along with collaborators at Harvard University and the University of Maryland, looked at data from China, reviewed the life-cycle assessment of various products, and researched how Chinese industries exchanged goods and services. They then calculated how much energy the different industries use and how much carbon dioxide is generated from that energy. Their findings were published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Re: Hillary's email brouhaha, a point of view I haven't seen brought up elsewhere

It seems to me that the Department of State is an organization in which communications is even more critical than it is in most forms of human endeavor, a matter of war and peace, life and death.

At no point have I heard of any effort by SoS Clinton to improve the allegedly atrocious DoS official email system despite the fact it is so bad she could not depend on it for her own official communications. Indeed, rather than moving to at least bring attention to the problem Secretary Clinton worked around it for the benefit of herself and her closest aides and let the rest of the crucial global endeavor known as the US Department of State just deal with a system that by all reports makes AOL look like cutting edge technology.

Putting aside any questions of propriety or legality Hillary's behavior in this matter strikes me as poor leadership, when the leader makes sure their own needs and those of the inner circle are met but the needs of their troops go unfulfilled and indeed unrecognized that breaks every rule of being a good leader I've ever heard.

On ISIS's Wahhabist theology and the best weapon we have to use against them

Ironically it seems that our best chance of defeating ISIS may depend on our compassion.

Note that I have long standing permission from the owner to repost anything I wish at any length from this blog.


Earlier today Betty Cracker wrote a very thoughtful post about the Syrian and Iraqi refugees. I had been planning on doing one as well and wanted to wait a bit so as not to step on her post. There are two things that I find really interesting about what is going: 1) the responses of the various EU states, including the responses of their citizens and 2) that the most potent informational weapon we have against ISIS is providing aid to the Syrian and Iraqi refugees.

I’m going to take these in reverse order, because the second one is (sort of) shorter. While ISIS’s theology/ideology/dogma is something of a mishmash of several revivalist and reactionary Islamic concepts, at its heart it seems to be based on tawheed. Tawheed, or the unitary nature of the Deity, was the core of the doctrinal teachings of Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab. At the time that he developed his doctrine of the unity of the Deity it was quite radical. Basically, it asserts that the Deity is completely one; that any form of intercessory prayer is therefore a denial of such unity and apostasy; that any form of adornment or adoration of great men/saints is a denial of unity and apostasy (hence the destruction of tombs and heritage sites); and living among apostates is forbidden requiring the devout believer to relocate to where tawheed is practiced and enforced.

Abdul Wahhab’s doctrine also included an extreme opposition to and distrust of Jews, Christians, Shi’a and Sufi Muslims, as well as all Sunni Muslims that did not accept tawheed. It was the combination of an inflexible understanding of apostasy, opposition to non Muwaheedun (unitarian) Muslims, as well as non-Muslims; and forced indoctrination of the tribes of the Najd (the Ikhwan – not the same as the Muslim Brothers) that led to the violence of the conquests of Ibn Saud.

One of ISIS’s major recruiting points is that Americans, Europeans, Jews, Christians, Iran, Shi’a, and non-Muwaheedun Muslims are all at war with the real Islam of tawheed. They use this as one of the informational tools to hook potential recruits. In a nutshell “you are surrounded by apostates and infidels; they are at war with you; and you can not trust them.” One of the best and most easily acceptable counters that we have to ISIS is to take in more Syrian and Iraqi refugees – the majority of whom will be Muslims. As a result providing aid, assistance, and refuge is not just doing good for those in need. It also provides us with a powerful informational antidote to counter ISIS’s recruiting pitches.

On to point #1. When the EU created the Schengen Accords in the mid 1980s the purpose was to push the border as far out as possible. By doing so the original EU member states, which are also its core, sought to make immigration issues the responsibility of the newer states to the East and Southeast, as well as the poorer states bordering the Mediterranean.* The EU security concern at the time, as posed in a number of publications, was that a common, single border made commerce easier, but also could lead to an increase in crime and terrorism. The Turk on Kurd guest worker violence in Germany helped to drive these concerns.

The basic idea was that if immigration controls for poorer immigrants or for asylum seekers was pushed to the periphery, then they would be dealt with there. Asylum requests would be made closer to point of entry rather than in the wealthier, original EU states in the North and West of the EU. This would keep refugees in the periphery and perhaps explains why Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia are all fighting against centrally set EU refugee quota requirements.

There was little to no data to support these concerns. In fact the EU didn’t even collect crime data from its member states into a single data repository. The only member state that seemed to be collecting this data for the entire EU was the UK for their own comparative crime research. Subsequent testing, using just basic correlations due to undifferentiated data, indicated that those EU states that granted more asylum requests actually had lower rates of crime and terrorism. This refuted the oft cited, but never empirically supported, security concern of immigrants to the EU being responsible for the majority of the crime and terrorism within the EU.

This basic empirical refutation of the popular belief among both European law enforcement and security professionals that more immigration is equivalent to more crime and terrorism is simply wrong. Though it is still widely believed and asserted; especially by the neo-fascist parties and movements. As a result I was very pleasantly surprised to see that a number of the core EU states are stepping up. Germany is on course to accept 800,000 refugees and Britain, after some internal and external pressure on the Cameron government, is going to take in an additional 20,000. Sweden has taken in about 80,000 and France 24,000. Reports of refugees being met and provided with supplies have been numerous, though marred by some of the recent anti-immigrant xenophobia that is part and parcel of the reemergence of far right and neo-fascist parties in different EU member states.

That so many of the citizens of the EU member states are willing to reach out and provide aid and refuge, as well as pressure their governments to take action, is a very positive sign. It is highly unlikely that it will actually pressure or shame the US into doing anything as we are going through one of our cyclical bouts of nativism and xenophobia partially fueled by us losing our societal mind as a result of 9-11 and still not having come to our senses. As a political science professor of mine once said: “there is nothing as dangerous as a democracy when it’s scared.” Despite a lot of tough talk, as a society, the US has been scared since 9-11 and this fear has contributed to the warping of our domestic and foreign policies.

DIY Electric clothes dryer energy recovery for those colder months


This easily built project recovers warm moist air from a clothes dryer that would otherwise be exhausted to the sub-zero outside.

Energy is saved two ways: heat used to dry clothes remains in the house and less cold air is drawn in by preventing negative pressure. Electrical energy that is used to dry clothes contributes to house warming. Moisture that is added to the house air is welcome during a northern winter when the cold temperature outside causes the air in the house to become very dry.

I only use this in winter. In the summer, I re-route the vent to the outside but I use the clothes dryer only on rainy days. I use the outdoor clothes line whenever possible. I also have a indoor clothes line which is used on damp days and even in the winter.

My clothes dryer is used as little as possible as it uses an enormous amount of electrical energy. The nameplate on mine lists 25 amps at 240 volts or (25x240=) 6000 watts. When I do use it, it is good to know that the expensive heat is used twice by not being blown outside.

Two Delta Aquarid meteors from early morning July 27

So I picked up a Canon Elph 300 HS at a yard sale a couple of weeks ago and I've been playing with it a bit, it's a tiny thing smaller than a deck of cards but it has a wide angle 24mm equivalent f2.7 lens that's sharper than I would have thought for such a dinky little camera.

One of my obsessions is the night sky and it came to me that the 300 HS with its rather fast wide angle lens and high-ish sensitivity might be good for capturing meteor trails. I've downloaded and installed CHDK firmware (Canon Hacker Development Kit) on the camera and set it up to shoot 30 second exposures at ISO 1600 (max is 3200 on this Elph) continuously onto a 16gb SD card and then pointed it at the night sky now for several nights when it looked like there might be some clear sky. Last night the effort paid off with the clearest night yet and among the half dozen satellites and three planes in the 500 or so frames between 1 AM and 6 AM I also got two decent meteor trails, the first at 2:58 AM and the second at 5:03 AM. Both shots are cropped fairly severely, if I put up the full frames you'd barely be able to see the meteor trail by the time it shrunk down to DU size.

Gary Clark Jr: Nextdoor Neighbor Blues & If Trouble Was Money

Bird on a wire (updated with new image)

This Hawk was out calling to its mate this morning, I could hear the other hawk responding but couldn't see it. I've seen them around from time to time and hear them quite often, this the first time I've had the camera to hand in quite a while though.

Vivitar 300/5.6 @ f8 Sony NEX C3 1/1600 @ISO 1600

ETA: Since so many liked the Hawk pics I found one more salvageable image on my card and worked on it last night, I'm putting it first.

Thanks for all the positive comments and recs, I appreciate it.

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