October 16, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 9:14 PM


Solar now generates the cheapest electricity in history, IEA says (STEPHEN JOHNSON, 16 October, 2020, Big Think)

Electricity from solar energy is the cheapest it's ever been, thanks largely to technological improvements and policies that reduce the risk of investing in renewable energy. [...]

 In the main scenario, the international community is projected to generate 43 percent more solar power than the IEA had predicted in 2018.

That increase, as Carbon Brief first reported, is partly due to new analyses showing the cost of solar power to be 20 to 50 percent cheaper than the IEA thought in 2018.

Globally, the average cost of electricity from large-scale solar photovoltaic projects has dropped by magnitudes over the past decade, from 38 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2010 to 6.8 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2019, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.

Posted by orrinj at 5:34 PM


EV maker Fisker just debuted its $37,499 all-electric 'Ocean' SUV coming 2022 which claims will be the 'world's most sustainable vehicle' (Brittany Chang, Oct. 16th, 2020, Business Insider)

American startup automaker Fisker has debuted its all-electric SUV, Ocean, which comes with a solar roof.

The Ocean SUV will go for $37,499 -- cheaper than Tesla's $74,190 Model X SUV and $49,990 Model Y SUV.

Ocean -- which the automaker claims is the "world's most sustainable vehicle" -- was unveiled at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.. The car starts at $37,499 but drops to $29,999 after US federal tax credit, according to Fisker, and can now be reserved with a $250 deposit.

Tesla just quietly updated the Model 3's range, performance, and styling -- here's what's new  (Tim Levin, 10/16/20, BI)

Tesla just updated the Model 3, giving it increased range and performance along with some new features and styling touches. 

According to Tesla's online configurator, Model 3 sedans now boast higher range estimates across all three variants. The Standard Range Plus now has an EPA-estimated range of 263 miles -- up from 250 miles -- while the Long Range version now promises 353 miles, a 31-mile bump.

The Performance model, built for speed and acceleration rather than distance, will now go 315 miles on a charge, up from 299 miles. Tesla also shaved one-tenth of a second off of the model's 0-60 mph time, and it now makes the sprint in 3.1 seconds. 

Posted by orrinj at 3:44 PM


Someone Called the Cops on a Statue of Jesus Thinking It Was a Homeless Person (BONNIE STIERNBERG, 10/16/20, Inside Hook)

Posted by orrinj at 3:29 PM


Mitch McConnell Confirms That the Senate Intends to Install Amy Coney Barrett on Supreme Court Before Election Day (MATT NAHAM, Oct 16th, 2020, Law & Crime)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) doesn't care about the misgivings of Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, he knows he has the votes to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court before Election Day. And it appears that's exactly what's going to happen.

...you no longer have any excuse; unless you were in it for the racism all along.

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The Conservative Push for a Social Media "Fairness Doctrine" is Pure Fantasy (CHRISTIAN SCHNEIDER, OCTOBER 16, 2020, The Bulwark)

On Wednesday, Senator Josh Hawley sent a letter to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) asking whether Twitter and Facebook had committed "egregious campaign-finance violations benefitting the Biden campaign" after they both blocked users from sharing a New York Post story of dubious plausibility.

In any sane non-election world, the FEC's response would be three words long: "No. Seriously. No."

But we are in the feverish last three weeks of a presidential election, so Team Red Hat is suddenly trotting out the idea that federal regulators should punish private companies both for what they choose to publish--or, in this case, what they choose not to publish--on their platforms.

Hawley's decision was immediately cheered by Trump sycophants like Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida), who claimed Twitter is "engaged in domestic election interference." Former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said that Twitter's and Facebook's decisions to ban the New York Post link were "much like Communist China," ironically using Twitter to call Twitter Communists.

Gaetz's tweet now has over 100,000 likes. Downright Stalinesque, right?

...the Right would have the confidence to enter the market and create social media alternatives, instead of trying to force their hate-speech on folks who aren't interested.

Posted by orrinj at 8:56 AM


Woman who nodded, gave thumbs up behind Trump in Miami ran pro-Trump campaign in 2018 (ALEX DAUGHERTY, OCTOBER 15, 2020, Miami Herald)

Supporters of President Donald Trump and former vice president Joe Biden gathered outside Perez Art Museum, where Trump is scheduled to appear at a televised town hall on Oct. 15, 2020. BY AL DIAZ | MARTA OLIVER CRAVIOTTO

A woman who gained internet fame for nodding and giving President Donald Trump the thumbs up sign during his Miami town hall on Thursday night could have used the free airtime two years ago -- because she was running for Congress as a pro-Trump candidate.

Posted by orrinj at 8:33 AM


Rudy's Latest Variation On The Same Dirty Trick That Got Trump Impeached (Joe Conason, October 16 | 2020, National Memo)

Verifying the emails might have proved difficult because, as served up by Giuliani, their images lack identifying marks to establish firmly who sent them, who received them, and when this exchange might have happened. In fact, a close examination of the typefaces on the email by bloggers Brian and Eddie Krassenstein raises strong suspicions of forgery.

Writing for Medium, the Krassensteins note "the tremendous clarity of the text, when compared to the 'VP' gmail icon in the upper right-hand corner." By zooming in on the PDF published by the Post, they explain, it is easy to see that the file text "remains crystal clear, yet the gmail icon for 'VP' gets extremely pixelated. ... This is the hallmark of email alterations. There is no reason that the gmail icon should be of a different resolution than the text on the same document, unless of course the icon or the text were photoshopped in."

The Daily Beast reported that metadata on "the PDF files purporting to show [Hunter] Biden's emails ... suggest they were created on a Mac laptop" in September and October of 2019, whereas Biden supposedly had dropped off his laptop at the Delaware shop in April 2019. (He was then living in Los Angeles, not Delaware.) But that date coincides with Giuliani's trolling for dirt in Ukraine.

Posted by orrinj at 8:26 AM


MSNBC's Morning Joe mocks Trump-loving 'snowflakes' freaking out over 'white supremacy' questions at town hall (Travis Gettys, 10/16/20, Raw Story)

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough mocked the "snowflakes" who whined that President Donald Trump was mistreated by the moderator of his solo town hall event.

The president appeared Thursday at an event televised by NBC, and the "Morning Joe" host ridiculed Trump supporters who complained that moderator Savannah Guthrie asked him too many tough questions.

"They're such whiners and in constant search of victimhood," Scarborough said. "You have anti-Trump people who attack woke culture for look for victimhood status. They go around every day -- they're such snowflakes constantly, constantly looking for victimhood status."

Posted by orrinj at 8:23 AM


The delightful boringness of Joe Biden: If you didn't watch it, you didn't miss much -- that's kind of nice! (Matthew Yglesias, Oct 15, 2020, Vox)

Biden does not do this kind of in-the-weeds policy discussion with the command of detail that we associate with Hillary Clinton, or the mastery of explanation that made her husband famous. And he certainly doesn't reach the soaring oratorical heights of Barack Obama, who managed to elevate the most banal conversations. Listening to Biden talk about public policy is like listening to, well, a veteran mainstream Senate Democrat. It's pretty boring.

And after four exhausting years of Donald Trump, it's an incredible relief.

He needs, but is unlikely to appoint, a W level cabinet and chief-of-staff. 

Posted by orrinj at 8:19 AM


Trump Places Campaign's Fate on Oppo Research Hail Mary (Hanna Trudo & Maxwell Tani,  Oct. 16, 2020, Daily Beast)

Political opposition research is more an art than a science. At a technical level, it's the act of finding out damaging information on an opponent and introducing it to the public. More colloquially, it's mud-slinging.

In that regard, the stories in the New York Post have been oppo at its purest, most dastardly form. The original piece reported that Hunter Biden, the son of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and the obsession of some of the president's most fervent fans for over a year, may have provided a board member of a Ukrainian company a chance to convene with his father, hinting at (but by no means proving) a possible pay-for-play set up between the then-vice president and the business.

The biggest article came to be through highly suspect channels. As the piece recounted, Hunter Biden (or someone who appeared to be him) dropped off a damaged laptop at a store that repairs computers, after which the repair man found suspicious and incriminating data on the hard drive, decided to make a copy of it, and then passed it to an associate of Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer. Along the way, the FBI got involved.

Naturally, it made a splash. But that didn't mean it would prove effective, Democrats said. Hail Marys can be completed, but often they aren't.

"If this is the only thing they've done and this is the October surprise they were holding it's a little unimpressive," said Steven D'Amico, a political consultant who led the 2016 research team against Trump for American Bridge. "The fact that it's in the Post is evidence of that."

In some respects, the entire episode was reflective of how limited the president's ability to manage news cycles has become. Up until the publication on Tuesday (and the subsequent publication of other items), Trump-aligned GOP operatives had seemingly abandoned prior behind-the-scenes efforts to convince reporters at major mainstream publications to write stories spotlighting negative information about Biden and his family. Instead, they'd opted to work with ideological allies in the media (of which the New York Post is one) and blast out snippets from their own platforms.

Even worse for Donald, this is the entirety of his case against Uncle Joe.

Posted by orrinj at 7:57 AM


Trump appears to earnestly share satirical website's take on Twitter (QUINT FORGEY, 10/16/2020, Politico)

President Donald Trump on Friday shared a story from a known news satire website seemingly in earnest, using the fake report to blast Twitter's handling of dubious allegations against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

The story tweeted by the president early Friday morning was published by The Babylon Bee -- which bills itself online as "the world's best satire site" -- and stated that Twitter had "shut down its entire social network" Thursday to stop the spread of negative news about Biden.

To be fair, the Bee is no funnier than Rudy.

Posted by orrinj at 7:49 AM


Trump's town hall stunt backfires: NBC's Savannah Guthrie gives him the grilling voters wouldn't (SOPHIA TESFAYE, OCTOBER 16, 2020, Salon)

A sweaty and often out of breath Trump floundered on his stool under the bright studio lights and accompanying Miami weather Thursday night. While he looked almost suspiciously triumphant over his recent COVID diagnosis, a relentless grilling from moderator Savannah Guthrie certainly didn't do him any favors -- at least outside of his already secured base whose Pavlovian disgust for the media was undoubtedly reinvigorated. 

Guthrie's past experience working with disgraced "Today" show host Matt Lauer may have prepared her well for managing a most unruly Trump. More than merely moderating questions from would-be voters in the audience, Guthrie was quick to offer relevant follow-ups and fact checks. She was often able to pin down the president's familiar pattern of interrupting the preamble to a question, talking about whatever he wants, pretending the interviewer is interrupting him when she tries to finish, then moving on to the next question. She was prepared and pointed, delivering the grilling I suspect many anti-Trump voters found reassuring. 

The hilarious meme on the Right is that, by comparison, Uncle Joe seemed like Mister Rogers.  They apparently think that's a dig.
Posted by orrinj at 7:32 AM


Switzerland's Yodelers Created One of Europe's Worst COVID Hot Spots (Barbie Latza Nadeau, Oct. 16, 2020, Daily Beast)

Swiss authorities have voiced their concern about two sing-along yodeling concerts attended by 600 fans of the traditional singing that are now known to have been superspreader COVID-19 events that have turned a small Swiss canton into a hot spot as a second wave of the pandemic sweeps Europe.

People who attended the indoor performances in late September in the Schwyz canton were advised to socially distance, but not required to wear masks that would have impeded their yodeling.

The small village area now has a positivity rate of 50 percent, making it the highest contagion rate in all of Europe with case numbers doubling every day for the last week.