An interesting interview heard on this week's Quirks and Quarks (mp3)
Is much of what we called depression manufactured? A lot of interesting question arise. One wonders if dealing with societal pressures is why some of the Scandinavian countries score very high on happiness surveys.
The ethanol industry is pushing to have the percentage of ethanol in the gasoline-ethanol mixture sold at the pumps raised from 10 to 15 percent in an effort to bail themselves out. There are numerous reasons why their effort is bankrupt financially as and environmentally, but they have a very powerful lobby - and even the Obama administration seems to favor it.
Of course conservation can work immediately, but politicians seem to have convinced themselves the American public lacks that will to do anything. The sad thing is they may be correct.
We're a country short on heros in this situation - it will be interesting to see how much of this holds up. The RS often does good work ... very troubling...
Even after the president's pTress conference, Rolling Stone has learned, the administration knew the spill could be far worse than its "best estimate" acknowledged. That same day, the president's Flow Rate Technical Group – a team of scientists charged with establishing the gusher's output – announced a new estimate of 12,000 to 25,000 barrels, based on calculations from video of the plume. In fact, according to interviews with team members and scientists familiar with its work, that figure represents the plume group's minimum estimate. The upper range was not included in their report because scientists analyzing the flow were unable to reach a consensus on how bad it could be. "The upper bound from the plume group, if it had come out, is very high," says Timothy Crone, a marine geophysicist at Columbia University who has consulted with the government's team. "That's why they had resistance internally. We're talking 100,000 barrels a day."
The median figure for Crone's independent calculations is 55,000 barrels a day – the equivalent of anExxon Valdez every five days. "That's what the plume team's numbers show too," Crone says. A source privy to internal discussions at one of the world's top oil companies confirms that the industry privately agrees with such estimates. "The industry definitely believes the higher-end values," the source says. "That's accurate – if not more than that." The reason, he adds, is that BP appears to have unleashed one of the 10 most productive wells in the Gulf. "BP screwed up a really big, big find," the source says. "And if they can't cap this, it's not going to blow itself out anytime soon."
The failure of the obama administration to crack down on BP – and to tackle the crisis with the full force of the federal government – is likely to haunt the Gulf Coast for decades to come. Oil continues to lap up onshore in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. Pelican rookeries are fouled, their eggs and nests soaked in oil. The region's fisheries – some of the richest in the world – are imperiled; anglers and shrimpers have been barred from more than a third of the Gulf's waters, which may never fully recover from the toxic stew of crude and chemical dispersant now twisting in its depths. The region's beaches are empty, and tourist towns are dying. Administration officials now admit that the oil may continue to gush into the Gulf until August, when relief wells are finally in place.
Both the government and BP have reasons to downplay the extent of the spill. For BP, the motive is financial: Under the Clean Water Act, the company could owe fines of as much as $4,300 for every barrel spilled, in addition to royalties for the oil it is squandering. For the Obama administration, the disaster threatens to derail the president's plan to expand offshore drilling. "It's crystal clear what the federal response to the tragedy ought to be," said Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who chairs the Senate subcommittee on environmental health. "Bring a dangerous offshore drilling pursuit to an end."
The administration, however, has made clear that it has no intention of reversing its plan to expand offshore drilling. Four weeks into the BP disaster, when Salazar was questioned in a Senate hearing about the future of the president's plan, he was happy to stand up for the industry's desire to drill at any cost. "Isn't it true," asked Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Republican from Tennessee, "that as terrible as the tragedy is, that unless we want $14, $16, $18, $20-a-gallon gasoline, that it's not realistic to think that we would actually stop drilling for oil in the Gulf?" Unbowed by the catastrophe that was still unfolding on his watch, Salazar heartily agreed, testifying that the president had directed him to "move forward" on offshore drilling.
That may help explain why the administration has gone to unusual lengths to contain the spill's political fallout. On May 14th, two days after the first video of the gusher was released, the government allowed BP to apply a toxic dispersant that is banned in England at the source of the leak – an unprecedented practice in the deep ocean. "The effort should be in recovering the oil, not making it more difficult to recover by dispersing it," says Sylvia Earle, a famed oceanographer and former NOAA chief scientist who helped the agency confront the world's worst-ever oil spill in the Persian Gulf after the first Iraq War. The chemical assault appeared geared, she says, "to improving the appearance of the problem rather than solving the problem."
I've recommended both of these items before, but they are really great in the sense that WD-40 and vice grips are great. Once you use them you can't live without them, plus they are both simple and well made.
The first is the fig8 cord organizer. You've been there - stuff the mp3 player or phone into your pocket and out comes a tangled headphone cable a few hours later. Sometimes you wind the able around the device and may even tie it off with a rubber band. These are tacky and unsatisfying solutions. The fig8 is just that - it gives two posts that make it easy to wind the cable in a figure eight fashion and then snap a cover down to make sure everything stays in place. The cable easily pulls off completely tangle free. Watch the video on the site.
Highly recommended! There is a discount for multiple units and these make really great gifts. Very clever and you won't be getting another tie. It is very well built and should last at least ten years - much longer than any phone or mp3 player.
They go for ten bucks.
I've mentioned the second item too, but it is too good not to recommend.
Thanks to mass production and Levittown, it turns out most kitchen countertops are about thirty six inches high. Most of us don't think good posture in the kitchen and many of us don't really cook anymore, but if you have above average height and do a non-trivial amount of food preparation, you probably experience some back pain.
Researchers have worked out optimal heights food preparation for standing postures and the three foot counter is just awesome for people in the five foot four to five foot five range - the average height of an adult female in the US in 1950 and 2010. Shorter and taller folks encounter problems.
One solution is a raised height cutting board. Colleen has one that gives her a forty nine inch high working surface, which is perfect for her stature. I'm quite a bit lower than her, but mine is set to about forty two and a half inches and is perfect for me. Mine is eighteen by eighteen inches and hers is eighteen by twenty four, giving her an extended platform -- a second countertop so she doesn't have to bend between her working surface and the real countertop.
Colleen has some videos on her colleenification blog. Both of ours were made by AWP Butcher Block. You can get whatever size you want and Colleen's blog has measuring instructions. A fifteen by fifteen inch model that is six inches high is something around $120, but call for a quote - they are extremely friendly. The hardwood construction is excellent.
We've found you don't give up any counter space as you can store stuff under them.
Don't let her two meter height suggest that your husband or father may not be able to use one. Anyone over about five nine or five ten probably could use something like this if they cook.