Thursday, August 30, 2012

Gone Camping


 ~ I'll be sleeping on the ground in Chelan for a few days and completely unplugged. Glad for the break from political mendacity and blather. Back posting on Tuesday. Stay safe everyone!

Shi Shi

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Where's It Wednesday—XCVI

Where in Seattle is this?

Somewhere in Seattle... but where?

Answer next week.

Details on the weekly Where's It Wednesday puzzle here.
Other weeks' puzzles here.
Answer to last week's puzzle, after the jump.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hamster Wheel

Pew Research

Pew Research on declining belief in hard work paying off
 ~ Hard work paying off for you?

Pretty much everyone I know works harder, often much harder, today than they did 10 years ago.

That hard work isn't working:
Over the past decade, the Great Recession, a housing market collapse, an unemployment surge and an anemic recovery have squeezed the middle class. An overwhelming majority of middle-class Americans (85%) say it is more difficult today than 10 years ago for those in the middle class to maintain their standard of living, according to a Pew Research Center national survey of 2,508 adults.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Constituent Service

But, Which Constituents Are Being Served?

 ~ Amazing how people vote against their own interests, and accept whatever baloney they're fed.
Cartoon | The American People Have Spoken

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Weasels and Their Words

Who Said That, Exactly?

 ~ Probably talking heads talking to other talking heads:

It's similar to an argumentum ad populum. Why do some people say that? Here's one NSFW explanation.

h/t Upworthy

xkcd on public opinion

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Incredibly Shrinking Middle Class

Watch Them Disappear!

 ~ From the Pew Research Center:

Income distribution by class from 1970 to present

When you consider how the ranks of the poor are swelling, their per-capita income looks even worse. Our country is having an identity crisis—is this who we want to be?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Lakes and Oceans

Scratching the Surface

 ~ We know less about the depths of the ocean than we do the surface of the moon. Maybe even the surface of Mars.

xkcd scale graphic of lakes, oceans and interesting things

We can only sense that in the deep and turbulent recesses of the sea are hidden mysteries far greater than any we have solved. — R. Carson

So we foul it with oil and plastics and pretend that acidification isn't a problem. But we don't know that.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Corporate Profits and Unemployment


 ~ Corporate profits have rebounded completely from the Great Recession. The employment picture is improving, but remains at levels not seen in 30 years. Apparently the rising tide is not lifting all boats as capital is buoyant in a way labor is not.

Federal Reserve graph of corporate profits versus unemployment rate

Corporate profits look like a hockey stick. The unemployment rate? Looks like workers have been pucked.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Where's It Wednesday—XCV

Where in Seattle is this?

Somewhere in Seattle... but where?

Answer next week.

Details on the weekly Where's It Wednesday puzzle here.
Other weeks' puzzles here.
Answer to last week's puzzle, after the jump.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Buried Treasure?

Keep Fossil Fuels Buried

Leave fossil fuels in the ground
 ~ We should leave our fossil fuels in the ground.

And not just because it would keep that carbon and its climate change impacts out of the atmosphere, but also because it would add to our energy security as a country.

Keeping more of our fossil fuel wealth in the ground would increase our energy security in two ways:

Sunday, August 19, 2012

So Just Build It Already

It's Not Who, It's Where

Tom Toles | Two approaches to reviving the economy
 ~ Actually, you did build it.

But you didn't just do it in the abstract; you actually built something specific, and more importantly, you built it somewhere specific. You built it in America, which, as every flag-waving patriot will insist, is the best place in the world to build a business.

Why? Just like in real estate: location, location, location.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Primitive Energy

Advancing Society?

Neil deGrasse Tyson embarrassed by humanity's digging of fossil fuels
 ~ How would you explain our society to a visiting alien?

Neil deGrasse Tyson is not Bill Nye or Carl Sagan, but he is at least as effective in making science accessible and understandable to the general public.

He's embarrassed by our addiction to fossil fuels. We should all be so, because it is an indication that our society is primitive.

Why? Consider the anthropological arc of humanity.

Friday, August 17, 2012


The Art of the Raw Deal

Goldman Sachs
 ~ Imagine I had some really hot investment opportunity* for you.

Imagine further that I talked at great length about how exciting it was, its high quality, its impressive fundamentals. I might tell you about all its wonderful aspects, attributes, and upsides. I might even suggest it was an unusual chance to make a lot of money. I might imply it was as close to a sure thing as you could find, and you should back up the truck to really load up on this rare chance for a big score.

Water-front property in Florida! Gold mines in South America! Penny stocks!

Now what if it turned out I wasn't being truthful with you? What if I knew the opportunity about which I gushed was actually much less wonderful, and perhaps had some real problems? What if I knew there was a lot of hair on the deal? What if that great opportunity was not so great, or even a complete dog?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Energy Lies—XIII

"The Administration continues to prevent, delay and obstruct development of [oil and gas] and puts off jobs for another day"

Deepwater Horizon rigs burns
 ~ This allegation, by Erik Milito of the API, and many others like it, are zombies of political mendacity. They just won't die!

We've been hearing this since the start of the Obama Administration. It both ignores the larger truth, and has been consistently wrong for three years.

What occasioned the latest surge of reflexive outrage? The announcement of the proposed management plan to develop oil and gas on Alaska's North Slope. That's right—a management plan. Not an unfettered free-for-all of fossil drilling frenzy certainly, but not a moratorium either. According to US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, "About 11.8 million acres would be available for leasing, including most land projected to contain oil reserves." According to Alaska Senator Murkowski, however, it is the "most restrictive management plan possible." Um, no. The most restrictive plan would be to, you know, actually "prevent, delay and obstruct" rather than what the Administration actually has done—open up the richest half of the entire National Petroleum Reserve.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Where's It Wednesday—XCIV

Where in Seattle is this?

Somewhere in Seattle... but where?

Answer next week.

Details on the weekly Where's It Wednesday puzzle here.
Other weeks' puzzles here.
Answer to last week's puzzle, after the jump.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Free Speech

Free in What Sense?

Cartoon on speech impacts of Citizens United
 ~ There are just under 3 months until the November elections. Many are spending freely, but what are you hearing? Mostly a lot of hooey:
An analysis by the Annenberg Public Policy Center conducted for the Center for Responsive Politics found that from December 1, 2011 through June 1, 2012, 85% of the dollars spent on presidential ads by four top-spending third-party groups known as 501(c)(4)s were spent on ads containing at least one claim ruled deceptive by fact-checkers at,, the Fact Checker at the Washington Post or the Associated Press.
These "top" 4 groups are the American Energy Alliance, Americans for Prosperity, the American Future Fund and Crossroads GPS. All are closely aligned with the most reactionary faction of the GOP and all are hostile to renewable energy. Despite persistent efforts to equate corporate and union spending, the numbers show clearly the dominance of corporate speech on our political debate. Big money is free to buy megaphones, but we are not free to learn who's doing the buying.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Olympic Transport

Tubing in London

 ~ Olympians can be role models for more than their athletic prowess. Check out the gold medal means of getting around:

US gold medal-winning men's basketball team taking public transportation at London Olympics

The US men's gold medal-winning basketball team weren't the only Olympians skipping the limo and the various other chauffeured options, either. Also seen on the Tube were medalists from Venezuela, the UK (of course) and Rwanda, as well as other Americans.

Public transit, offering "cachet as well as convenience" is, as Chris Paul tweeted, a #fasterwaybacktothehotel.

Cross-posted to Fare Free Northwest blog.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Saying Hello

Welcome Leo

 ~ Look who got a puppy for her birthday!

Even though we still keenly miss the Hounderrific Fellow, puppies do perk up everything and everyone.

He's a pound puppy of course, and we are told a Saint Bernard mix, which seems a bit unlikely based on what he looks like, as well as a trifle overwhelming, since the "average" size of a purebred can be over 200 pounds. However, the mix may matter more, so... mixed with what? Any dog aficionadi want to weigh in?

Update: The vet today opines: a Saint Bernard and Boxer mix. That would explain his pugnacious yet plucky character!

Friday, August 10, 2012


E-Waste isn't Recycled

E-waste on the riverbank in Guiyu, China
 ~ Most people with any environmental consciousness know not to throw obsolete or nonfunctional electronics in the trash. Such e-waste ends up in landfills where, over time, they release dioxins, heavy metals and other poisons into the ground and ultimately into the water table.

Sadly, "recycling" e-waste is little better, and arguably worse.
Guiyu, China is often referred to as the “e-waste capital of the world.” The city employs over 150,000 e-waste workers that toil through 16-hour days dis-assembling old computers and recapturing whatever metals and parts they can re-use or sell. This is far from an organized operation, however. Rather than having computers neatly stacked on palettes in storage units waiting to be recycled, computer carcasses are strewn about the streets and river banks. Huge tangles of wires and cables lay on street corners. Workers, whom will usually specialize in dis-assembling specific parts, will pull parts from the various scattered piles of parts about town and begin their work right on the street.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Climate Change Optimism...

...Is Unwarranted

Surface of venus
 ~ The future is now. And it is hot. Pre-eminent atmospheric physicist James Hansen:

In a new analysis of the past six decades of global temperatures, which will be published Monday, my colleagues and I have revealed a stunning increase in the frequency of extremely hot summers, with deeply troubling ramifications for not only our future but also for our present.

This is not a climate model or a prediction but actual observations of weather events and temperatures that have happened. Our analysis shows that it is no longer enough to say that global warming will increase the likelihood of extreme weather and to repeat the caveat that no individual weather event can be directly linked to climate change. To the contrary, our analysis shows that, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change.

The deadly European heat wave of 2003, the fiery Russian heat wave of 2010 and catastrophic droughts in Texas and Oklahoma last year can each be attributed to climate change. And once the data are gathered in a few weeks' time, it's likely that the same will be true for the extremely hot summer the United States is suffering through right now.

These weather events are not simply an example of what climate change could bring. They are caused by climate change. The odds that natural variability created these extremes are minuscule, vanishingly small. To count on those odds would be like quitting your job and playing the lottery every morning to pay the bills.
So, do you feel lucky? Punk?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Where's It Wednesday—XCIII

Where in Seattle is this?

Somewhere in Seattle... but where?

Answer next week.

Details on the weekly Where's It Wednesday puzzle here.
Other weeks' puzzles here.
Answer to last week's puzzle, after the jump.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Drought Disaster

Truth or Consequences

 ~ Food prices are already edging up as widespread crop failures become more certain. "Dustbowlification" threatens not just more expensive food this year, but food insecurity globally for years or decades. It's another indicator that climate change is not a subject for rarified debate, but a real problem we are seeing all around us right now.

The USDA has issued its map of disaster areas affected by extreme drought—most of the country, and a serious swath of the American 'breadbasket':

USDA Secretary's drought designations

There's a long-standing drought of sensible response as well. One wonders how much longer farmers with parched land and withered crops will mock Al Gore and keep re-electing cretins like Jim Inhofe?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Bread and Circuses

Broadcast Daily

Cartoon: distracting the public as the looting continues
 ~ Too many voters obsess on the trivial and the unimportant. We are regaled with endless sideshows that distract from the serious policy issues on which the upcoming election ought really to turn. The news media is thoroughly and shamefully complicit, concentrated as they are, and driven by profit, leading to an emphasis not on news, but on entertainment of an increasingly uninformed and uncritical audience.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Quiet Voices

Can You Hear the Ocean Roar?

 ~ Many since have paraphrased it, but Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus memorably wrote: "We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak."

In the cacophony of competing voices, are we listening to those who speak quietly, or in more subtle and non-verbal ways?

Cartoon | Adrian Raeside | The Other Coast | Hear the ocean

It is not just the ocean, but the world itself that cries now for an audience. Can we hear?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A Renewable Future

Present-Day Germany

Infographic | German electricity generation from renewable and fossil sources
 ~ Europe's largest national economy hit a milestone in the first half of this year—for the first time, 25% of German electricity generation came from renewable sources.
Wind energy was the largest contributor of green power, accounting for 9.2 percent of all energy output... Biomass, or material acquired from living organisms, accounted for 5.7 percent and solar technology for 5.3 percent.
Germany is the largest market for electricity in Europe, and has long been a leader in boldly reshaping its energy policy, including forswearing all nuclear after Japan's Fukushima disaster.

Interestingly, the policy has been driven the past many years by the country's conservative parties. Preserving resources and the environment for the future is a truly conservative notion, a truth lost on this country's radicals who inappropriately like to be called conservative.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Election 2012

Look What's Going Down

 ~ What is happening with our democracy?

Cartoon contrasting ID needed by voters and by large contributors

As usual, our politicians are, with feigned righteousness and affected indignation, perseverating on a trivial problem while allowing a real problem to grow into a crisis. This is asymmetrical warfare, and conventional democracy is being routed.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Things I Learned From My Dad—V

Create Things

John Leyerle building a lavish playhouse
 ~ My Dad created many things. Academic endeavors, like articles, courses, books, colloquia and degree programs. Houses, gardens and beautiful spaces. Memorable parties with wine that could not be too big or cuts of meat too thick. Puns.

And things for his kids, and later his grandkids, like an elaborate playhouse.

He taught me to take ideas and create something real and memorable. Thank you Dad.

John Frank Leyerle
11/18/26 - 8/2/06

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Where's It Wednesday—XCII

Where in Seattle is this?

Somewhere in Seattle... but where?

Answer next week.

Details on the weekly Where's It Wednesday puzzle here.
Other weeks' puzzles here.
Answer to last week's puzzle, after the jump.