[Politics\Humor] White House Correspondents' dinner

Stephen Colbert is my personal hero[MOV]. The full video in better res is available: Part 1 Part 2 (other clips on page NSFW)


[Energy] On the future of energy

With all the talk lately about moving us away from Middle East oil and the dependence on fossil fuel energy, I though I might run down a list of technologies and see just how they may pan out as viable energy sources in the future. A lot of politicians have been giving lip-service to R&D for energy, oil alternatives, biodiesel, ethanol, and on and on, but few seem to grasp some of the difficulties.

Fisrt of all, evidence has continued to mount that we are at or near peak oil, a condition when the ability to extract oil from the ground plateaus globally, and we begin the downard slope of the bell curve of oil production. Since so much of our economy is dependent on oil, this is very, very bad. This includes not only petrol car ramifications, but also diesel industrial vehicle and trucking system fuels, plastics production, home heating oil (really just diesel), and a myriad of other uses intergral to industrial society.

There is also indications that we are pretty much reaching the limits of regional natural gas production. Natural gas, unlike oil, cannot be easily shipped overseas. The large natural gas pipeline infrastructre that we have exists to pump gas over connected continental land masses. In order to get natural gas to America from the Middle East, or the Caspian, or Russia, we have to turn it into liquid state, called LNG. LNG shipping requires specially designed ships, hugely expensive and quite dangerous regassing terminals at port. It has been pointed out that a terrorist bombing of an LNG regassification terminal could theoretically create an explosion on par with a small nuclear warhead detonation. While Canada has been providing us with only a fraction of our natural gas supplies, that represents over 50% of the annual production in Canada.

So what are the solutions? The first thing I should indiciate is that if there were any easy or simple solutions to these problems, I'd write a book, file a few patents, and make billions. We would likely be using some of them already. But we aren't.

The first thing that people should understand, especially the politicians who will be creating policy and subsidizing certain potential solutions, is that entropy is a very important principle. ENERGY RETURNED ON ENERGY INVESTED (EROEI) is one of the most important concepts to understand when figuring out if any of these energy lifeboats is going to float. Many of the energy solutions that have been proposed require much more energy to create than they actually produce.

I'll start with cars, since so much of our economy has been designed with the car in mind. The costs of running petroleum in internal combustion engines are likely to rise to a level that makes the technology unviable in the near future. The global demand will simply outstrip supplies, and only with huge price increases will demand level off to any extent, as people will simply be unable to afford transportation.

Hybrid cars are an attempt at simply increasing overall efficiency of the internal combustion engine. Right now, they are for the most part, expensive 'statement' cars that are still dependent on gasoline. The price premium on the Toyota Prius is not worth it in the long run, and a small diesel car is a better value and would get better mileage (and could easily be converted to run on biodiesel). The Honda Insight is a better choice in terms of ROI, but the technologies themselves don't really fix the fundamental problem, which is the continuing need for oil supplies, even at a lower rate. I should also point out as a driving-minded thinker, that these are some of the worst handling cars on the road, although that is likely to change over time.

A new take on hybrids has been what is referred to as the 'plug-in hybrid', which is largely an electric car with a small petrol engine to provide boosts in power. While plug-in hybrids can get better mileage than even a diesel, at least potentially, that then takes the large burden of oil dependence and moves it to the electrical grid, which at times has been overextended (esecially at around 4 pm on a 90 degree summer day). One needs to be certain that the costs of electricity and the energy sources of electricity (in this state, that would be largely from coal - yes a plugin hydrid is a car that largely runs on coal) are any better or cleaner than what we currently use. Just as importantly, the large scale switchover to a plug-in hybrid or electric car approach by the bulk of the population would put enormous pressure on electrical production. I'll talk about electrical production later on in this essay. I must also point out that battery technologies require great deal of energy and fossil fuel inputs to build, and are often remarkably toxic, so disposal becomes an issue. EROEI must be calculated carefully to make sure that this will work.

What about biodiesel or ethanol? This depends entirely on where it comes from, where the feedstock comes from, and how efficiently it can be produced. My local politicians would probably like to see our local corn farmers producing ethanol for cars. The problem is that every gallon of ethanol produced from corn is a net energy loser. On average, it takes 54,000 more BTUs of (fossil fuel) energy to produce a gallon of ethanol from corn than you get from the corn (pesticide, fertilizer, collection by farm marchinery, transport, refining). You would have been better off burning the oil and natural gas in your car than trying to make ethanol to burn. Other feedstocks for ethanol may be more efficient (beets, sugar cane). Brazil has been fairly successful in getting off oil with sugar cane production for ethanol. Still, there are some significant problems with biodiesel or ethanol production. Land size is a big one: to produce corn ethanol for every car in the US would require 97% of all the farmland in the US. Feeding the country is not going to be an afterthought, I'm afraid. Using weeds and crops that don't require big fossil fuel inputs (switch grass, etc.) are perhaps a better idea. Similar geometric projections make any kind of agriculturally produced fuel source difficult in country with so many people living in it with an industrial lifestyle. It would be easy to produce fuel for 20 million cars. It becomes vastly more difficult to produce fuels for 200 million cars. Biodiesel feedstocks with high efficiency (like algae) might require the energy to pave the equivelent of a dozen or more San Fransiscos. These are massive projects that we likely will not have the capital to afford.

What about synfuel? Yes, using the Fischer-Tropsch process, you can produce what is essentially diesel from coal. This doesn't get us off fossil fuel dependence, although the US has coal supplies that will last a hundred years or more. These processes are also quite expensive, and are not likely to replace any significant portion of our motoring fuel needs anytime soon.

How about hydrogen? Let me tell you right now, hydrogen is a sick joke. To create a hydrogren fuel cell car, you need to first create hydrogen. Where are you going to get the hydrogen from? The simplest way is to split water molecules using electricity. This itself requires huge amounts of energy. The cheapest way right now is to use natural gas as the hydrogen feedstock. This is not viable since we are running out of natural gas as well, and we still end up with dependence on fossil fuels. Unless we can determine a catalytic way to produce hydrogen at a much higher efficiency, it takes more energy to produce hydrogen than we will get out of the hydrogen. Again, EROEI, or net energy, needs to be our watchword. Lets say, though, that we can get some hydrogen. How will you store it? An automobile that runs on compressed hydrogen gas will need to have a physically huge tank pressurized to thousands of pounds per square inch to get any realistic travel distance. What do you think will happen to a person in a car who gets into an accident? Crash your car with a 5000 psi hydrogen gas tank into another car? The police will mop up what is left of you with a sponge. Hydrogen also leaks out of almost every container we put it in due to the small size of the atoms. The other major method is to cool the hydrogen down to a liquid state. This has its own myriad of problems and will be quite expensive and potentially dangerous. Then how do you produce electricity from the hydrogen. Well, right now you use a fuel cell. The cheapest fuel cell car that has been produced by a major manufacturer has a current cost of about $1,000,000 per car. Even if that price can come down by a factor of 10 (which would be a lot, and the car still costs $100k), the fact is that fuel cells require platinum as a catalyst. All the platinum ever mined in the history of humanity would provide enough platinum to create a fuel cell car to replace every car on earth...once. Even with recycling, platinum supplies make fuel cells for a mass motoring technology difficult if not impossible.

I'll set aside highly unlikely scenarios, like converting cars to run on propane or natural gas. The latter especially is unlikely due to a likely peak in natural gas production and in the far greater difficulties in transport.

Moving on to electrical generation, half of all electricty produced in the United States comes from coal. While our coal supplies might be equal to the oil supplies of Saudi Arabia in their heyday, coal is dirty, and it is a fossil fuel in any case. Cleaning up coal with technologies is a good stopgap approach, but coal is not a viable long term technology, especially given the threat of global climate change with carbon dioxide emissions. It is interesting to note also that coal plants produce more radiation than nuclear power plants do, as the burning of coal releases radioactive isotopes naturally found within the coal itself. In fact, if coal plants were regulated under the same rules that nuclear plants were, every coal plant in the United States would be shut down.

Obviously, if oil and natural gas are problematic by price for cars, they will be for electrical production. About 10% of Minnesota's energy comes from these sources. The overwhelming number of energy plants built in recent years have been natural gas, and with the industry beginning to realize that natural gas supplies are going to be tight, with nothing to fuel the plant there is no profit to be made on huge capital investments.

Nuclear fission is, I think, a viable option, if only as a stopgap. I know this is not what many environmental crusaders and anti-nuclear activists want to hear, but nuclear power is reliable, clean for the most part (the process of obtaining uranium is not so much), and safe when used properly. A lifetime of energy for a family of four would consist of uranium fuel that could fit into a beer can. Is nuclear fision great? No, it has many problems. One problem is waste disposal, which is a very real problem for very long term storage and also security in transport and storage. Still, all the nuclear waste ever produced on earth could be placed into an area the size of a high school gymnasium. Future technologies may make it possible to reprocess nuclear waste into a useful form as well. There are security issues with a 9/11 style attack on a plant, but good design for reinforced structure and containment make this better than many alternatives. There is the problem of fuel - uranium is not an infinite source, and the stress internationally on U235 reactors (non-breeder) makes it a fuel source that could vanish within a hundred years or so. Breeder reactors (U238) are much better for fuel supplies, and can be used to synthesize more fuel. The unfortunate side effect of this is that breeder reactors produce Plutonium, which is what you use to make nuclear weapons. In fact, some regard breeder reactors are nuclear weapon production facilities first and electrical generators second. Close watch and a strong IAEA would be neccesary, especially in regards to nations like Iran. A potentially untapped, but hugely difficult form of nuclear fission that could stand for a significant injection of R&D money is thorium reactors. Radioactive thorium is in huge supply and could provide us with significant energy, but the difficulties are significant.

Nuclear fusion is a technology that needs R&D money right now. The US should throw money at the ITER project, JET, and any significant project working on making nuclear fusion a net-energy gain technology. Nuclear fusion would be safe, reliable, and would likely be able to produce energy indefinitely in large amounts. I've even heard rumors about mining the moon for Helium3 supplies, since HE3
would be a much better fuel for fusion.

Methane clathrates, or natural gas in crystalized forms in deep, cold ocean depths, represent a potentially significant form of fossil fuel energy that has been untapped. These deposits represent huge amounts of natural gas supplies that could be used. The great, and significant danger of trying to mine methane clathrates is that every attept to disturb their resting places has offgassed orders of magnitude more gas than one would be able to capture, and since methane is a far more effective greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide is, any attempts to mine these sources commercially could accelerate global warming out of control in very short order. Thus, for now, I would say these already problematic sources are simply too dangerous to attempt to use.

Hydroelectric energy has been largely tapped. We've dammed just about every river that can be dammed, and the effects on the ecosystem have been significant. In the end, hydroelectric is just not a growth form of energy. A form of hydroelectric, tidal power, may be. The power of the ocean tides is significant (a form of energy that comes from the moon instead of the sun), and tapping them could help provide energy to coastal regions, but of course, this too may have significant effects on the ecosystem and the life in tidal bays.

Wind power is a great potential source for growth, is in abundance, is clean, quiet, and a useful way of harnessing the sun's power. We should build wind farms anywhere they are viable. Don't like what they'll do to your view? Suck it up. That includes all the rich Mass. citizens with beach property who don't want offshore wind turnbines.

Solar electricty and solar heat are huge potential resources, and R&D should be thrown at them, but solar is also inconstant, and any project that would make solar a significant source of electricty would be one of the most awesome and expensive engineering projects in human history. All the solar panels ever built in history provide only a fraction of the energy we consume. The materials required, energy required for investment, and sheer land space required would be beyond any previous project. Energy storage (batteries, capacitors) in a large solar production environment would themselves require quite a lot of energy. Right now, renewable energy sources are only 2% of Minnesota's electricity. Increasing that to even 20% will cost enormous sums.

There are a few other off-the-wall ideas, but these represent the bulk of ideas in energy thinking right now, and each has difficulties. When one realizes that a single gallon of gasoline contains the equivelent of 500 hours of hard labor of a human being worth of energy (think about this: one gallon of gas moves my 3700 pound car 22 miles at 60 miles per hour, and that is at less than 100% efficiency), you realize how this amazing resource, now in decline, cannot easily be replaced. Our ingenuity in figuring out how to wring such energy out has been clever, but we have significant challenges ahead of us.

So what should we do?

1) Conserve energy as much as possible. The longer we have to work on this problem, the better likliood we will come up with a good and working solution.

2) Don't cut the gas tax. Gas should be expensive, lest we disincetivize the needed development of renewable energy technologies. I know it is eating into your budget, but we have long-term problems here, and giving you a fuel refund isn't going to help solve them.

3) Stop trying to secure the last vestiges of cheap, reliable oil with military force. Your lifestyle is over. Get used to it. That money is better spent fixing and developing a more dense infrastructure and creating transit technologies that will let us keep some vestige of what we have. The faster we admit that things have changed, the better off we'll be. Right now we're in the denial stage (blame the oil companies), we need to get past even bargaining and into acceptance.

4) Throw money at nuclear fusion research and R&D for renewables. Pay very close attention to net energy from start to finish. If it doesn't work with EROEI, then it won't work.

5) Move into a city or town that is more sustainable. Don't live in the burbs. Suburbs have no future. Build or live in a house that is energy efficient, with lots of natural light. Avoid high celings and single pane windows. Make sure the roof can handle passive soalr orientation for panels. Live in a condo if you can. Live near mass transit, and be able to walk or bike to work, to the grocery store, to the places you go every day. Try to live in a place where heating and air conditioning needs are limited. Insultate your house. Use compact florescent, metal halide, and LED lighting.

6) Support candidates for political office that get this kind of stuff. Throw out demagogues who think everything is fine, or that everything will just take care of itself if we let the free market dictate the rules.

7) Don't get behind any energy source if it is going to spew lots of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. We shouldn't kill off the ecosystem just to run the lights at the mall.

8) Get used to having less. Get used to travelling less, and staying where you are.

9) Most of all, get talking on these kinds of issues with people you know. Our myopia up to this point has been fine when we had cheap energy to burn, but now things are different, and we need to get serious about these problems, and fast, because our lives are going to depend on the choices we make.


[Oil] Politics of Oil

The Oil Drum makes a good case for why our national discussion on gasoline prices is missing the mark.


[Politics] MN Congressional District 5 Speed Dating

The 5th Congressional District DFL held a meet-n-greet Q&A for CD5 delegates and alternates, and being an undecided on a few things, I went down to the Hennepin County Government Center to attend. The entire setup was a 'speed dating' approach, in which delegates sat at tables, while candidates for various offices went from table to table and had 8 minutes to try and 'make a connection', and then moved on. It was rather an interesting approach, although a bit overwhelming. Eight minutes of trying to size up this candidate, goodbye, hello, eight minutes trying to size up that candidate, on and on. In the three hours there was not even enough time to speak with all the candidates (and in a few cases, their loyal supporters where the candidate themselves could not make it out).

My primary interest in going was to come to some decisions on the CD5 Congressional Seat, about to be vacated by Martin Sabo. There are a ton of people running, all with their own ideas, agendas, backgrounds and approaches. I figure picking who might be my next member of congress seems pretty important, so I paid as close attention as possible in such a frenetic format. Other office seekers included candidates for Secretary of State, State Auditor, as well as US Senatorial and Gubernatorial candidates.

I'll link candiate's websites below. I'm not endorsing any of them, except the ones that I personally plan on supporting, which I will indicate. I'm not a part of any campaigns, or working for any of these people at this time, so it is just my opinion and not some steath attempt at political campaigning by any of the candidates.

Every congressional candidate supported leaving Iraq, and soon. All but one candidate told me they would support impeachment. Virtually all talked about universal health care, most of them want single-payer. Most mentioned sustainable energy and getting off foreign oil, although the knowledge of the difficulties and challenges that entails varied. Some really seemed to know their stuff, and some sounded more like they had a few talking points and little data to back up their ideas. Most had good ideas in the areas they were interested in.

Each candidate has things to offer. Want mental health reform and mental health parity? Gail Dorfman is your candidate. Believe in strong unions? Keith Ellison is your guy. Want a veteran political pit-bull with the knowledge of how to get stuff done? Anne Knapp would appear to fit that bill. Interested in civil & human rights and immigrant issues? Jorge Saavedra is who you want. Really, really want us to get out of Iraq this minute? Then single issue peace candidate (perennial at that) Erik Thompson is your man. I also spoke with Paul Ostrow, whose positions I didn't quite get, and didn't have the opportunity to speak with either Ember Reichgott Junge or Gary Schiff due to time constraints.

The two congressional candidates that stood out for me were Mike Erlandson, who had the most mainstream approach that I could tell, a fiscally minded thinker with some good policy ideas, and Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, who is clearly the furthest to the left of all the other candidates with issues that speak to me. He gets fiscal accountability, peak oil, environmental degradation, and that we really need to get out of military adventurism. I like both candidates, and I'm not 100% sure yet, but my gut reaction at this point is that I will support Jack Neslon-Pallmeyer. Despite being a bit of a dark horse, he is the candidate whose issues most appealed to me, who spoke on a variety of issues that need addressing, and was progressive and outspoken enough to really make a difference. All things being equal, I'd like a little more of that Paul Wellstone spirit in Minnesota politics, and Jack would be the guy. If his support looks insufficient to get nominated or win the seat, I'll be more than happy to throw my support behind Mike Erlandson. He is certainly a good candidate, who has a number of ideas on a wide variety of issues, and I think he has the campaign skills to get elected. While he might not be a progressive in the firebrand style I'd like (he is fairly progressive in most ways, with a more moderate streak in economic policies, which I'm not necessarily against at this point), he would certainly make a fine legislator.

For senatorial candidates, I have actually been a bit underwhelmed. I think both Amy Klobuchar and Ford Bell leave me wishing for the days when Paul Wellstone was my guy. Both are good candidates, and with some good support, either should be able to beat that creepy twit Mark Kennedy, the Republican challenger. Ford Bell is probably a little closer to my beliefs, but Amy Klobuchar has the tenacity to go after corruption in government, and that isn't a bad thing. I just wish the senatorial race had a bit more 'wow' factor. A shame too, since the senate seat is probably the most important seat I'll vote on this year. I spoke with Mr. Bell, and a couple of spirited supporters in lieu of Mrs. Klobuchar. Still, I'm undecided.

For Governor, I plan on supporting Becky Lourey. Mike Hatch is the heavy hitter, but frankly, he's kind of offputting (read: a dick) from what I've heard from my fellow DFLers, and a lot of people will not support him. I didn't get a chance to speak with any of his supporters, and he did not make an appearance so far as I know. Also, Becky is just a really nice lady and when I think of the kind of person I want in the office, she's a great choice. I hope she can mount a spirited campaign leading up to the primary, because she'll need to to beat Mike. Steve Kelly is also running for Governor, but I did not get a chance to speak with him, although I did chat briefly with a supporter from his district.

For Secretary of State, I plan on supporting Christian Sande, who came off a lot better to my ear than Mark Ritchie, in the role I want the SoS to play. Either of them should defeat Republican candidate and incumbent Mary Kiffmeyer, who is just beyond the pale in her cronyism.

For State Auditor, my choice is easy: Rebecca Otto is running alone for the DFL ticket. She was nice enough to chat with me about the position (including explaining to me just what the State Auditor does - I really should have known more about the position than I did). Any candidate that pretty much is going to win the endorsement no matter what I do and still take time out of her schedule to come meet-n-greet deserves some props.

I kicked in $5 for a going away gift for Rep. Sabo. Enjoy, Marty! I have no idea what I got you!

I look forward to seeing the candidates next weekend at the CD5 convention, and then in June in Rochester for the State Convention.

[Security] Bruce Schneier - Movie Plot Threat Contest

Bruce Schneier in his latest Cryptogram has asked that bloggers spread the word about his 'Movie Plot Threat' contest. Here are the details:

** *** ***** ******* *********** *************

Movie-Plot Threat Contest

NOTE: If you have a blog, please spread the word.

For a while now, I have been writing about our penchant for "movie-plot threats": terrorist fears based on very specific attack scenarios. Terrorists with crop dusters, terrorists exploding baby carriages in subways, terrorists filling school buses with explosives -- these are all movie-plot threats. They're good for scaring people, but it's just silly to build national security policy around them.

But if we're going to worry about unlikely attacks, why can't they be exciting and innovative ones? If Americans are going to be scared, shouldn't they be scared of things that are really scary? "Blowing up the Super Bowl" is a movie plot to be sure, but it's not a very good movie. Let's kick this up a notch.

It is in this spirit I announce the (possibly First) Movie-Plot Threat Contest. Entrants are invited to submit the most unlikely, yet still plausible, terrorist attack scenarios they can come up with.

Your goal: cause terror. Make the American people notice. Inflict lasting damage on the U.S. economy. Change the political landscape, or the culture. The more grandiose the goal, the better.

Assume an attacker profile on the order of 9/11: 20 to 30 unskilled people, and about $500,000 with which to buy skills, equipment, etc.

Post your movie plots here on this blog.

Judging will be by me, swayed by popular acclaim in the blog comments section. The prize will be an autographed copy of Beyond Fear. And if I can swing it, a phone call with a real live movie producer.

Entries close at the end of the month -- April 30.

This is not an April Fool's joke, although it's in the spirit of the season. The purpose of this contest is absurd humor, but I hope it also makes a point. Terrorism is a real threat, but we're not any safer through security measures that require us to correctly guess what the terrorists are going to do next.

Good luck.

Post your entries, and read the others, here:

Movie-plot threats:


There are hundreds of ideas here:

** *** ***** ******* *********** *************

[Asinine] Bush uses first reponders to break up crowd

From salon.com, 'Abusing the first responders':

When protesters blocked the route Bush was to take to the Hoover Institution, somebody apparently thought it was a good idea to create a ruse by driving a firetruck toward the crowd and claiming that it needed to get through for an emergency.


[Oil] The slowly boiling pot

It would appear that President Bush is going to launch an investigation into rising gas prices (about a week after the Democrats demanded it). It will be a fruitless exercise. Since it would appear that we have nearly reached, or have reached peak oil, the rise in prices is likely a natural response to realistic predictions of the value of crude oil as a commodity. For the most part, gasoline's rising costs come from speculation on the world oil futures market (and in recent days, due to the switch from MTBE to Ethanol as an octane booster). With nothing but growing demand, especially from China, and no more likely supplies forthcoming, prices of this limited and extermely important energy source were bound to go up - oil company profits are just a side benefit to an otherwise normal market reaction. With many Europeans paying around $6-7 per gallon equiv., we shouldn't be complaining. One of the major differences is that our infrastructure (that would be low-density suburban housing and commercial/industrial development) was built on the promise of cheap and abundant oil forever. Well, sorry, those days would appear to be over. While major gains in efficiency could be made (cars, housing), the fact is that our infrastruture is a major liability. Even were we to create a viable replacement for the ICE automobile, say something that gets 150 miles per gallon (and we'd need the factories and energy to build millions and millions of them), there is still huge swaths of modern civilization that require huge fossil fuel inputs (methane gas for electricity and home heating, petroleum for pesticide, methane to make fertilizer for agriculture production in the green revolution style, oil for plastics, and on and on.) We are likely to see the end of things like economic growth, previous lifestyle, and virtually everything that we have come to take for granted in the US.

My own travel expenses have been racheting up along with everyone elses. While I have a job that I can do, to a certain extent, anywhere there is a high speed internet connection (which also presupposes an electrical infrastructure that never fails), most folks are not so lucky (I sense my future employment will involve setting up lots of SSH/VNC or VPN setups for white-collar workers - probably around the time gas hits $6/gal, which I fear, won't take too long...). At one of my main client's place of business, blue collar workers assemble expensive custom industrial machinery. Not only will skyrocketing prices make the goods cost a fortune, but my guess is many of the men building them make perhaps $12-15/hr. One of my coworkers indicated that his gasoline bill is now $500/month. Something's going to break, and soon, and my guess is that it will be the backs of the poor and lower-middle class in the very near future, and not long after, it will probably be the middle class. People's imagined wealth (3000 square foot homes, houses 50 miles or more from where they work) will become nearly worthless overnight, and with them any hope of economic well being. I'm personally looking to buy my first home right now. I'm dismayed at how little I can get for what I can afford, even knowing I make more than most Americans. I'd like to live right in the city [downtown-core/uptown](high density, able to walk, take the bus/light rail to work, telecommute, etc.), but frankly the sprawling suburbs of the Twin Cities give me a certain pause. The smart thing would be to live in a smaller town, not overdeveloped, but those can be hard to find (and more difficult to live in if you are an urbanite by nature), and odds are, any such places will become very hard to get into once the housing bubble burst blows this country's 'wealth' to kingdom come, as sustainable living arrangements will likely come at a price premium. With a personal savings rate of -0.5%, Americans are in no condition to weather such a mess, assuming rising medical costs don't bankrupt many of them even sooner.

As an aside, later this evening I should be chatting with the various and sundry candidates vying to take over Martin Sabo's Congressional seat (my phone has been ringing off the hook since I became a state delegate). Here's hoping a couple of the candidates 'get' this kind of stuff, and are electable to boot.


[Politics] A bit of Advice to all Democrats, Green Party, Libertarian, non-Republicans...

Get a game plan to counter Karl Rove and his spin machine. He stepped down from the White House position in order to pursue managing the Republican races for the 2006 election.

Figure out a game plan.

Here are some tips:

1. He makes lies the truth, and tells them often. Respond with truth and don't be baited.

2. If he can't find anything against your candidate, he will fabricate truths. See #1.

3. Reality is relative. Up is down. He will go dirty right away and he won't play or fight fair. When in doubt take the moral high ground and don't waffle. To him waffle = weakness and weakness is exploitable.

4. Read Machevelli's 'The Prince', he is this century's Machevelli. We already have a term for his brand of politics, 'Roveian'.

Know your enemy. Know his weaknesses. Exploit them. He found the weaknesses in your parties and exploited them. If you do not counter Rove, you will not win anything in the 2006 election.

[Boredom] Sports Car Quiz

What kind of sports car are you? A stupid little quiz to kill a minute or so.

(I'm an Audi TT, which didn't surprise me in the slightest...)


[Musings] My horoscope for this week

 VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): In early spring, some of our forebears made love in newly seeded fields, hoping to magically propitiate the growth of the crops. Right now would be an excellent time for you to perform a similar ritual on behalf of what you love. If you're game, find a secluded outdoor spot on a warm day. Bring a Spartner if one's available, or take the earth or sky as your lover. Then carry out a rite of pleasure in which you offer up the spiritual essence of your bliss to the health and success of a beloved person or creature or situation that you want to thrive in the coming months.

Hmmm...sounds nice...ties in with the 'soul polutice' of a few posts back.

This entry made me think of the song 'Suvetar' by Gjallahorn. 'Suvetar' or 'Goddess of Spring' is a song in Finnish Rune chant, a very old musical form. The video is spectacular in its paganey goodness. I first heard this song late, late one night on a music segment from 'News Night MN', which was a small, locally produced public TV news show, at the end of the program they would feature music, often live, from various artists.

I had once found the translation for the song. The basic story is that it is a praise, a prayer to the goddess of spring, wishing for the renewal of the earth and the blessing on things that grow.

I play it loud at least once every spring.

Lyrics (original / english, note I do not have translation for the last stanza):

Suvetar hyvä emäntä / Suvetar, fine matron
nouse harja katsomahan / arise to see the seeds
viitimä emännän vilja / raise the matron's corn
kun ei tuskihin tulisi / so that we may be spared pain

Manutar maan emänätä / Manutar, matron of the Earth
nostele oras okinen / lift up the shoots from the ground
kannon karvanen ylennä / new shoots from the stumps
kun ei tuskihin tulisi / so that we may be spared pain

Syöttele metisin syömin / feed us with honey-hearts
juottele metisin juomin / give us honey-drink
mesiheinin herkuttele / delicious honey-grass
vihanalla mättähällä / on a blossoming knoll

siull on helkiät hopiat / you have shining silver
siull on kullat kuulusammat / you have glistening gold

nouse jo neitonen / rise up, o maiden
mustana mullasta / black from the soil

Akka mantereen alanen / underground crone
vanhin luonnon tyttäristä / most ancient of Nature's daughters
pane turve tunkomahan / lift up a thousand seedlings
maa väkevä väantämähän / to reward my efforts

Akka mantereen alanen / underground crone
vanhin luonnon tyttäristä / most ancient of Nature's daughters
tuhansin neniä nosta
varsin vaivani näöstä

[Politics] Good Riddance

Good Riddance you fat, lying twit. Since you became press secretary, I don't think I ever once heard anything come out of your mouth that wasn't a damned lie. I know you're just the messenger, but seriously, screw the messenger.


[Video/Politics] Still Free tagged on Air Force One

Note, the video is fake (yet convincing). From http//www.stillfree.com



[Music] Yeah Yeah Yeahs! Concert

Last night.

GeistX + Nerdwife + Celesathene + First Ave + YYY = FUCKING AWESOME!

Great concert. Made even better when the Amazon Bitches in front of us left.

Sadly no olive oil was used in the act.


[Musings] Heading to a meeting soon

Scarfing down a rather poor salad (Thursday is salad day) from the food kiosk (closest source of sustenance to my office) before I go to a noon meeting. This made me think about how much of a hurry everything is in. A lot of this hurry is self-imposed. I don't have to go to this meeting, I should as it is the team meeting. But if I am late, I will still be employed.

Another example is my workload. I put pressure on myself to meet a deadline because I don't like confrontation or to see someone disappointed. But, in almost all cases, if I miss a date (which I do frequently because it is hard to balance home, work, fun, and break everything into enough time slices to accomplish everything in a week), I won't be fired. I may not get a raise (which in America = praise, employers don't truly thank you unless they give you more money, everything else is just a boss trying to show you that he personally understands what you are doing and it trying to encourage you, but employers show their thanks in the form of more $$$).

Time is a funny thing, there is never enough of it until you are dead. I think the world needs to downshift a few gears. Let a day be a day. Not work cycle, eat cycle, sleep cycle.

*EDIT* Or I could just get out of IT and move to a less stressful, possibly less paying, but more relaxing (like gardener). I have accomplished a lot at work, it just doesn't feel that way. The workload is so deep, you can't appreciate that something is done and accomplished as the next thing is already pressing. Just take a deep breath and move to the next.


[Politics] How I learned to stop worrying and learned to love the bomb...

Listening to the BBC News Radio Podcast and I just heard that the Bush Administration and British Foreign Service have 'rebuffed' allegations of using nuclear weapons in Iran.

I would feel so much better if the definition of 'rebuff' meant 'removed'.

Time to rent "Dr. Strangelove".


[War] Ira*

Iraq: Civil War almost here.

Iran: Bombing a distinct possibility. Oh, and we might use nuclear weapons.

Pharyngula has some reasoned commentary.


[Theory] Scandal and the public

Scandals and politics are very familiar bed fellows. But there are certain scandals that incite more fervor and indignation from the public than others. I contend that sex scandals are more damaging to a career than money/drugs/corruption.

My supporting evidence:
-This administration. Every scandal short of a sex scandal, but still in power...
-Clinton. A couple of BJ's brought him down hard, but 'Whitewater,' 'Travelgate,' had less of a sting
-Gary Hart. Prostitutes or something ended his career
-Marion Barry. Did some coke while in office. Ran for DC council, won.

What is it? Our puritanical heritage? Sex and sexuality being a huge taboo to really talk about or acknowledge? Or is it the media coverage? Does the most effective media - right wingers - win? If Bush were to get some ass in the Oval Office, would it be the same?


[Politics] Scooter leaks on Bush

From the Guardian:

Bush implicated in leak on Iraq intelligence

· Scooter Libby told to brief journalist on Saddam
· Court documents point to White House role

The NYTimes also is covering this.

Even Fox News.


[Politics] Hey, Tom!

Don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out!



[Video] Yuki, "Joy"

The youtube addiction continues. I thought I needed to post something happier after "Army Dreamer". I like this video, I understand very very little of it since it is in Japanese, but the choreography is entrancing to watch.

[Music/Video/Politics] Kate Bush, "Army Dreamer"

I think this is a great anti-war video. Kate Bush is one of my favorite artists.

(from youtube)


[Politics] SD50 Convention

Well, political conventions beyond the precinct caucus level are always a pip, and this was no exception. What could have been a nice, quiet little convention was of course thrown into chaos in the CD5 side of things (in which I currently reside) due to the retirement announcement by longstanding CD5 Congressman Martin Olav Sabo. A scramble to fill the seat, and the next thing I know I have no fewer than nine candidates trying to get my support for their run for Congress. Of course, this is so recent, that I have only the vaguest notion what politics each of these people bring, much less what kind of legislator they would be. The names that had any clout, so far as I could tell, were Mike Erlandson (former DFL party chair), Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer (liberal antiwar darkhorse), and Keith Ellison (never heard of him). Ember Reichgott-Jung I also remember from my convention days, but there didn't seem to be too much buzz about her name. I'm amazed Satveer Chaudhary did not throw his name into the ring, but then he has a toddler, and being a new parent is hard enough work without a congressional level campaign. He'll get his State Senate seat back in a walk. He seems to be honing his firebrand speaking style since last I heard him.

I was amazed at the level of support Becky Lourey got for her gubernatorial run, and at this point, I plan on supporting her. Of course the 800 pound gorilla in the room Mike Hatch will probably flatten her in her attempts to get on the ballot, but I just can't support Hatch when Lourey seemed to speak more to my values. I'm also of an understanding that Hatch has alienated quite a few people.

I think Amy Klobuchar will get the nomination for U.S. Senate. I actually like Ford Bell more, and may or may not support him, but I'd guess it'll all be moot come November.

My resolution made it to the SD level and hopefully it passed. Asking for the impeachment of Bush and Dick is probably popular enough to go onto the CD5 convention level, at which I'll be attending. Oh, and I'm the first alternate from my walking subcaucus to the state convention, so I'll be doing that again. The state convention is always a blast. Here's hoping I can get up that early three days in a row. Oh, and it is going to be in "The Happiest Place on Earth" this June, so I'm sure I'll see a few of you down in Mayo country June 9-11.