September 8, 2022

Posted by orrinj at 3:47 PM


Trump's Save America PAC finds itself in DOJ's crosshairs (BETSY WOODRUFF SWAN, 09/08/2022, Politico)

 The Washington Post calculated that as of June of this year, half the money given to Save America came from retirees.

Posted by orrinj at 1:19 PM


Posted by orrinj at 11:24 AM


Why electricity prices are rising unevenly across New England (Miriam Wasser, 9/08/22, WBUR)

The primary reason for the spike is our reliance on fossil fuels. Specifically, natural gas.

Natural gas accounts for about 38% of the country's electricity, though here in New England, it's more like 53%. And the price of our main source of energy is anything but stable.

Gas prices are extremely volatile

Historically, New England burned oil and coal for power, but we switched many of our plants over to natural gas after the "fracking boom" in the early 2000s. Supply was high and prices were cheap, which was good for consumers, but not sustainable, said Dennis Wamsted, an analyst at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

Indeed, prices started to rise after the U.S. began turning its glut of natural gas into liquefied natural gas (LNG) and exporting it.

The COVID pandemic in 2020 temporarily disrupted this trend; the global economy came to a halt and many oil and gas operations curtailed production. But as demand for fossil fuels began to rebound in 2021, supplies haven't recovered as quickly. This has meant steadily rising prices. Add in some record-setting cold temperatures in many parts of the country this past winter, and prices have gone up even more.

"And then Russia invaded Ukraine and the world changed," said Dan Dolan, president of the New England Power Generators Association. "We are now facing the largest international energy crisis of my lifetime. [We're] seeing enormous volatility across all the energy commodities, and in particular, natural gas and oil."

Russia is the second-largest producer and the largest exporter of natural gas in the world, and its invasion of Ukraine in late February sent global energy prices into a frenzy. In fact, natural gas experienced its biggest 30-day price swing of the last two decades after the war began.

There's another important factor that helps explain why New England pays a lot for natural gas. We simply have a hard time getting it. We don't sit on top of any fossil fuel reserves and we are at the end of the gas pipeline system, which means we can't easily bring in more when demand calls for it.

"We just have a physical constraint of how much gas we can deliver through the pipeline system to New England," said Ben Butterworth, director of climate, energy & equity analysis at the Acadia Center.

Thralldom to fossil fuel was a mistake.  Use the resources we have: sun, wind, hydrogen, etc.
Posted by orrinj at 10:52 AM


Steve Bannon surrenders to Manhattan DA (JULIAN SHEN-BERRO, 09/08/2022, Politico)

Longtime Trump ally and former White House adviser Stephen Bannon handed himself over to New York state prosecutors on Thursday.

Bannon, 68, reported to the Manhattan District attorney's office a little after 9 a.m. The office confirmed his pending indictment. He faces criminal charges for his role in a group that raised $25 million to build a wall along the border with Mexico, but which federal prosecutors said defrauded donors for the group's own enrichment instead.

He'll finally have time to write The Rest of My Struggle...

Posted by orrinj at 10:48 AM


The GOP Respose to Biden's Democracy Speech Proves His Point Yep, they are dominated, driven, and intimidated by Donald Trump. (Jonathan Chait, 9/08/22, New York)

Last week, President Biden delivered a speech warning that Donald Trump's authoritarian movement posed a threat to American democracy. The Republican response did more to confirm his point than anything he said.

Biden's main argument was simple: A wing of the Republican Party aligned with Trump refuses to renounce violence, respect the integrity of elections, or accept the rule of law. Biden argued that this faction composes a minority of the party, but has been able to bully the party's officials into compliance:

Now, I want to be very clear -- (applause) -- very clear up front: Not every Republican, not even the majority of Republicans, are MAGA Republicans. Not every Republican embraces their extreme ideology.

I know because I've been able to work with these mainstream Republicans.

But there is no question that the Republican Party today is dominated, driven, and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans, and that is a threat to this country. [...]

It was obviously predictable that the party's Trumpiest voices would respond to a critique of Trumpism with knee-jerk hostility. Lauren Boebert called it "one of the most disgusting and decisive speeches in American history." (She presumably meant to say "divisive," not "decisive.") Fox News personalities Mollie Hemingway and Tucker Carlson were even more unhinged.

If you thought he was talking about you he was.

Posted by orrinj at 10:44 AM


Posted by orrinj at 10:30 AM


'London Bridge is down': the secret plan for the days after the Queen's death (Sam Knight,  17 Mar 2017, The Guardian)

In the plans that exist for the death of the Queen - and there are many versions, held by Buckingham Palace, the government and the BBC - most envisage that she will die after a short illness. Her family and doctors will be there. When the Queen Mother passed away on the afternoon of Easter Saturday, in 2002, at the Royal Lodge in Windsor, she had time to telephone friends to say goodbye, and to give away some of her horses. In these last hours, the Queen's senior doctor, a gastroenterologist named Professor Huw Thomas, will be in charge. He will look after his patient, control access to her room and consider what information should be made public. The bond between sovereign and subjects is a strange and mostly unknowable thing. A nation's life becomes a person's, and then the string must break.

There will be bulletins from the palace - not many, but enough. "The Queen is suffering from great physical prostration, accompanied by symptoms which cause much anxiety," announced Sir James Reid, Queen Victoria's physician, two days before her death in 1901. "The King's life is moving peacefully towards its close," was the final notice issued by George V's doctor, Lord Dawson, at 9.30pm on the night of 20 January 1936. Not long afterwards, Dawson injected the king with 750mg of morphine and a gram of cocaine - enough to kill him twice over - in order to ease the monarch's suffering, and to have him expire in time for the printing presses of the Times, which rolled at midnight.

Her eyes will be closed and Charles will be king. His siblings will kiss his hands. The first official to deal with the news will be Sir Christopher Geidt, the Queen's private secretary, a former diplomat who was given a second knighthood in 2014, in part for planning her succession.

Geidt will contact the prime minister. The last time a British monarch died, 65 years ago, the demise of George VI was conveyed in a code word, "Hyde Park Corner", to Buckingham Palace, to prevent switchboard operators from finding out. For Elizabeth II, the plan for what happens next is known as "London Bridge." The prime minister will be woken, if she is not already awake, and civil servants will say "London Bridge is down" on secure lines. From the Foreign Office's Global Response Centre, at an undisclosed location in the capital, the news will go out to the 15 governments outside the UK where the Queen is also the head of state, and the 36 other nations of the Commonwealth for whom she has served as a symbolic figurehead - a face familiar in dreams and the untidy drawings of a billion schoolchildren - since the dawn of the atomic age.

For a time, she will be gone without our knowing it. The information will travel like the compressional wave ahead of an earthquake, detectable only by special equipment. Governors general, ambassadors and prime ministers will learn first. Cupboards will be opened in search of black armbands, three-and-a-quarter inches wide, to be worn on the left arm.

The rest of us will find out more quickly than before. On 6 February 1952, George VI was found by his valet at Sandringham at 7.30am. The BBC did not broadcast the news until 11.15am, almost four hours later. When Princess Diana died at 4am local time at the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital in Paris on 31 August 1997, journalists accompanying the former foreign secretary, Robin Cook, on a visit to the Philippines knew within 15 minutes. For many years the BBC was told about royal deaths first, but its monopoly on broadcasting to the empire has gone now. When the Queen dies, the announcement will go out as a newsflash to the Press Association and the rest of the world's media simultaneously. At the same instant, a footman in mourning clothes will emerge from a door at Buckingham Palace, cross the dull pink gravel and pin a black-edged notice to the gates. While he does this, the palace website will be transformed into a sombre, single page, showing the same text on a dark background.

Screens will glow. There will be tweets. At the BBC, the "radio alert transmission system" (Rats), will be activated - a cold war-era alarm designed to withstand an attack on the nation's infrastructure. Rats, which is also sometimes referred to as "royal about to snuff it", is a near mythical part of the intricate architecture of ritual and rehearsals for the death of major royal personalities that the BBC has maintained since the 1930s. Most staff have only ever seen it work in tests; many have never seen it work at all. "Whenever there is a strange noise in the newsroom, someone always asks, 'Is that the Rats?' Because we don't know what it sounds like," one regional reporter told me.

All news organisations will scramble to get films on air and obituaries online. At the Guardian, the deputy editor has a list of prepared stories pinned to his wall. The Times is said to have 11 days of coverage ready to go. At Sky News and ITN, which for years rehearsed the death of the Queen substituting the name "Mrs Robinson", calls will go out to royal experts who have already signed contracts to speak exclusively on those channels. "I am going to be sitting outside the doors of the Abbey on a hugely enlarged trestle table commentating to 300 million Americans about this," one told me.

For people stuck in traffic, or with Heart FM on in the background, there will only be the subtlest of indications, at first, that something is going on. Britain's commercial radio stations have a network of blue "obit lights", which is tested once a week and supposed to light up in the event of a national catastrophe. When the news breaks, these lights will start flashing, to alert DJs to switch to the news in the next few minutes and to play inoffensive music in the meantime. Every station, down to hospital radio, has prepared music lists made up of "Mood 2" (sad) or "Mood 1" (saddest) songs to reach for in times of sudden mourning. "If you ever hear Haunted Dancehall (Nursery Remix) by Sabres of Paradise on daytime Radio 1, turn the TV on," wrote Chris Price, a BBC radio producer, for the Huffington Post in 2011. "Something terrible has just happened."

Having plans in place for the death of leading royals is a practice that makes some journalists uncomfortable. "There is one story which is deemed to be so much more important than others," one former Today programme producer complained to me. For 30 years, BBC news teams were hauled to work on quiet Sunday mornings to perform mock storylines about the Queen Mother choking on a fishbone. There was once a scenario about Princess Diana dying in a car crash on the M4.

Posted by orrinj at 10:26 AM


Posted by orrinj at 10:00 AM


United Airlines raises bet on electric air taxis with 200 aircraft from upstart Eve (Leslie Josephs, 9/08/22, CNBC)

United Airlines is pouring more money into the future of electric air taxis, which the carrier says could help reduce carbon emissions once the aircraft come to market and replace car trips.

The carrier said Thursday that it agreed to buy 200 electric air taxis from Eve Air Mobility, an Embraer-backed startup, and that it has options to purchase 200 more. Chicago-based United is also investing $15 million in Eve, which listed on the New York Stock Exchange in May.

Posted by orrinj at 9:51 AM


The Queen's Tears (Mark Steyn, September 16th 2001, National Review)

The foreign leader who said it best last week was the Queen, though she didn't really say a word. I have met Her Majesty from time to time (I am one of her Canadian subjects), and to put it at its mildest, for those with a taste for American vernacular politics, she can be a little stiff: the Queen stands on ceremony and she has a lot of ceremony to stand on. But on Thursday, for the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, she ordered the Coldstream Guards to play "The Star-Spangled Banner" - the first time a foreign anthem had been played at the ceremony.

The following day something even more unprecedented happened: at Britain's memorial service for the war dead of last Tuesday, the first chords of "The Star-Spangled Banner" rumbled up from the great organ at St Paul's Cathedral, and the Queen did something she's never done before - she sang a foreign national anthem, all the words. She doesn't sing her own obviously ("God Save Me"), but she's never sung "La Marseillaise" or anything else, either; her lips never move.

And at that same service she also sang "The Battle Hymn Of The Republic", for the second time in her life - the first was at the funeral of her first Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. On Friday, she fought back tears. When she ascended the throne, Harry Truman was in the White House. The first President she got to know was Eisenhower, back in the war, when he would come to the Palace to brief her father. She is the head of state of most of the rest of the English-speaking world - Queen of Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Bahamas, Belize, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, etc. But she understands something that few other leaders of the west seem to - that today the ultimate guarantor of the peace and liberty of her realms is the United States. If America falls, or is diminished, or retreats in on itself, there is no "free world". That's the meaning of the Queen's "Ich bin ein Amerikaaner" moment.

Posted by orrinj at 9:40 AM


Most Americans see Trump's MAGA as threat to democracy: Reuters/Ipsos poll (Jason Lange, 9/08/22, Reuters) 

Days after Democratic President Joe Biden gave a fiery speech attacking former President Donald Trump and his Republican allies as an extremist threat, a Reuters/Ipsos poll completed on Wednesday found a majority of Americans believe Trump's movement is undermining democracy.

Fifty-eight percent of respondents in the two-day poll - including one in four Republicans - said Trump's "Make America Great Again" movement is threatening America's democratic foundations.

Just because they want to reinstitute the Confederacy?

Posted by orrinj at 9:30 AM


'He Was Bored': Historian Alexander Etkind On Putin's Mechanisms Of Self-Destruction In Ukraine War (Sergei Medvedev, 9/08/22, Radio Liberty)

Famously, one of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's favorite phrases was, "It's boring in the world, gentlemen!" And according to Vienna-based historian, culturologist, professor, and author Alexander Etkind, Dostoyevsky stands as a particular hero to current Russian President Vladimir Putin for exactly this sentiment.

Etkind, born in St. Petersburg, is well-known in the world of the humanities and social sciences for his series of books that have become fundamental to the perception of Russian history.

In an interview with RFE/RL, he delves into the need to psychoanalyze the deep pathology that has manifested itself in the current Russian government, and he maintains that it is through the understanding of Russia's past preoccupations and prerogatives that we can glimpse the true mechanism of Putin's motives in detaching modern Russia from the modern world -- and, ultimately, its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

RFE/RL: Your book Eros Of The Impossible: The History Of Psychoanalysis In Russia, published in 1993, is a collection of essays about Russia's Silver Age (1890-1917) from a psychoanalytical perspective. Nietzsche plays an important role in the intellectual history of that period, and you write that everywhere else Nietzscheism was a beautiful intellectual game, but in Russia it was practical Nietzscheism. Lenin is a practical example. Can we apply an understanding of Nietzsche to what is happening in Russia now, to its war in Ukraine, and to Putin himself?

Alexander Etkind: The first chapters speak of there being a strange combination of Nietzsche, Marx, and Freud. This led to extraordinary phenomena: Trotsky, for example, was both a Nietzschean and a Freudian, although he considered himself, of course, exclusively a Marxist. The most difficult thing for these people was the idea of a "superman." For Trotsky, as for Gorky, and for other people, this idea was essential: to create new people, and these people will live in a completely new way.

Putinism, unfortunately, is intellectually very poor. I believe Trotsky read Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud, but I don't believe Putin has read anything like that.... Once upon a time, [Andrei] Illarionov, the [former] chief economic adviser to the Russian president, gave him Ayn Rand to read.

Can't help but be hopeless.

Posted by orrinj at 9:19 AM


EVs aren't straining the electric grid -- and they just might save it (Joann Muller, 9/08/22, Axios)

Even if they're plugged in all day, owners can schedule when they need their car to be fully charged. Then smart charging technology will automatically find the optimal time to charge.

Where it stands: Many utilities commonly charge customers lower rates for electricity use during off-peak hours, which is helpful when charging an EV at home.

Utilities also typically reward EV owners with discounts for participating in "demand response" programs that automatically interrupt charging briefly when demand is high, allowing the utilities to smooth out energy peaks and avoid blackouts.

What's next: Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology takes that relationship even further, enabling utilities to draw power out of an EV when it's most needed. That's already working for school buses.

Car owners set the rules about how much energy they're willing to give back, and when. [...]

Using a special charger introduced this week from Fermata Energy, Leaf owners can earn money selling electricity to their utility without affecting their car's battery warranty.

The city of Boulder, Colorado, for example, saved about $250 a month on electricity by using a Nissan Leaf to power a city-owned recreation building in a pilot project.

Posted by orrinj at 9:11 AM


Posted by orrinj at 9:04 AM


Deflation -- Not Inflation -- Is the Real Concern (DAVID BLANCHFLOWER, 09/08/2022, Politico)

The only reason inflation would rise again is with another shock. The Covid supply shock was ebbing away which made the Fed think inflation was temporary, but then another shock -- the Ukraine war -- gave prices a boost again. But now prices are headed down and inflation is temporary, unless another Covid shock comes along, say. And unfortunately, central bankers have little clue on how to fix deflation and the kind of depressed economy that follows.

The longest timeline on the path of inflation that exists anywhere is instructive. The data is downloadable from the Bank of England in "FRED" and shows Consumer Price Inflation for the U.K. since 1210. (The U.S. for age reasons can't compete.) The chart shows after bursts of high inflation, it's common to see years of falling prices. Deflation occurred in 340 of these years. High inflation is not usually followed by nearly as high inflation. Historically that doesn't happen.

Oil prices have been sliding as have the prices of many commodities. An important signal of what is coming is the Baltic Dry Index, which collapsed in June 2008 ahead of that year's economic crisis and is in freefall again. It is the daily price of renting giant ships called capesize vessels, which are too big to go through the Suez or Panama canals. Prices are announced at 10 a.m. daily on the Baltic Exchange in London; wheat and coal are dry, oil is wet. BDIY was 5600 in November and today it is 1100 and the cost of shipping containers has halved in 2022. None of this is a surprise given that China's economy is slowing, with the lowest growth rate in 40 years and the Eurozone and the U.K. are already in recession. When global demand is falling, ships stop sailing and prices drop. Deflation is the fear.

Meanwhile, the conversion to renewables and mechanization are going to nearly remove the cost of labor and energy from production. 

Posted by orrinj at 8:28 AM


Israeli study: Vaccines slash long COVID cases, with 80% drop in shortness of breath (NATHAN JEFFAY, 9/08/22, Times of Israel)

Coronavirus vaccines dramatically reduce the occurrence of long COVID, new Israeli research has shown.

All ten of the most common long COVID symptoms were reduced by at least 50 percent among people who had at least two vaccine shots, the peer-reviewed study found. The reduction in shortness of breath, for example, was 80%. [..]

"This is really the cherry on the top of the cake -- a benefit of vaccination that wasn't anticipated," Prof. Michael Edelstein, a Bar Ilan University epidemiologist who led the study, told The Times of Israel.

"We've known for a long time that vaccination reduces the severity of COVID-19 illness," he added. "We are starting to see evidence there is even more benefit, namely protection against unpleasant -- and sometimes life-altering -- long COVID symptoms. So there is now an extra reason to get vaccinated, if you ever needed one."

Posted by orrinj at 8:16 AM


Hydrogen-Powered Passenger Trains Are Now Running in Germany (Sarah Kuta, September 7, 2022, Smithsonian)

Once all 14 of the new trains are in service, the line will become the first route to run exclusively on hydrogen, according to a statement from Alstom, the France-based company that developed the trains.

The high-tech trains, called Coradia iLint, combine hydrogen with oxygen to produce power. The byproducts are only steam and water, and any heat created gets recycled and used to power the trains' air conditioning systems.

Diesel trains, on the other hand, produce high amounts of nitrogen dioxide pollution--even more so than cars traveling on busy streets, according to a study published last year. Developers say the new hydrogen trains are quiet, and they make the air cleaner for passengers to breathe.

"It's less noisy," says Bruno Marguet, an executive with Alstom, to Fast Company's Adele Peters. "You don't smell the diesel smoke when you're in the station... there aren't diesel emissions from [nitrogen oxides], which are harmful for health."

Posted by orrinj at 8:10 AM


A Better Conservative Media and a Better Politics: Why I joined The Dispatch. (Nick Catoggio, 9/07/22, The Dispatch)

As I write this, the most powerful establishment conservative media outlet in America is being sued for defamation because some of its hosts were too eager to entertain theories that the 2020 election was stolen. Increasingly, the two tiers aren't so neatly distinguished.

Too much of conservative media defines big media by its worst episodes of ideological bias and information suppression and resolves to live down to that standard. When forced to choose between the truth and the cause, most right-wing sites now unfailingly choose the cause--to the extent there remains any "cause" beyond defending the authoritarian impulses of Donald Trump and his disciples. Many have become the propagandists they once undertook to expose, a facet of the Trump-era ethos that conservatives can succeed only by behaving as badly as their opponents have in their most depraved moments.

But here's the worst part. Many of their readers want it that way.

Not everyone who caters to a Trump-worshiping audience does so out of ardor. Many do it for grubby reasons of audience capture, because they fear losing the adulation (and remuneration) of their fans. There's a certain, not uncommon type of activist who reads partisan political sites simply to sate their desire for total war against the enemy. To them, if you're not fighting dirty, you're not trying to win. War is war, after all. Alienate that sort of rage-junkie and you might find that any relevance you had within your media niche disappears with them.

Conservative media needs better authorship and better readership. Which is why I'm here.

Steve Hayes and Jonah Goldberg have built a precious thing in The Dispatch, a publication with the right kind of writer and the right kind of reader. One of the few hopeful notes in conservative media over the last five years is that a new site that prioritizes the truth over the cause might find enough of an audience to grow quickly into the success that this one has become. As a Dispatch reader, I appreciate that the writers on this team aim above all to inform, not to own the libs. (Although lib-owning is often a natural consequence of better information.) And I admire them greatly for having resisted the vogue of illiberalism, the ends-justifies-the-means logic of "better an autocrat than a Democrat." In a populist age, they've held populism to account for its most toxic excesses.

As a Dispatch writer, I'll do the same.

Posted by orrinj at 7:59 AM


Researchers pluck green hydrogen from the air, without any need for liquid water (Sophie Vorrath, 8 September 2022, Renew Economy)

An electrolyser that collects atmospheric water vapor, including from seemingly "bone dry" air, and converts it into hydrogen has been developed by Australian and international researchers.

The breakthrough, led by a team at the University of Melbourne, paves the way to produce renewable hydrogen without the need to consume precious drinking water.

In a study published in Nature Communications, the prototype device, which absorbs moisture from the air and splits it into hydrogen and oxygen, is powered by solar and wind.

Posted by orrinj at 7:51 AM


Malthusian Theory Has Always Been False: A review of Superabundance: The Story of Population Growth, Innovation, and Human Flourishing on an Infinitely Bountiful Planet by Marian Tupy and Gale Pooley. (August 2022) (Robert Zubrin, 8 Sep 2022, Quillette)

The authors start by comparing today's Malthusians to Thanos, the villain of the blockbuster movie Avengers: Infinity War, whose goal was to kill half of all living beings in the universe to preserve its allegedly scarce resources. They then go on to show in considerable detail why, in the modern world, such thinking is not only deeply evil but completely counterfactual. That is, while human numbers have quadrupled worldwide since the 1950s, in virtually every category human wellbeing has radically improved. Average personal income has risen 315 percent in the USA, 278 percent in the UK, 82 percent in sub-Saharan Africa, 690 percent in India, and 1,936 percent in China, for an average of 307 percent overall. So, whereas Malthusian theory would predict that per capita income would decrease when the population quadrupled, it actually multiplied fourfold--and total worldwide income increased sixteenfold. Malthus said that population growth would outrun food supply, because population increases geometrically while food production increases arithmetically. But for the past 70 years (in fact, for the past 200 years), total worldwide income has increased as the square of the increase in population!

As the authors show, Malthusian projections of population growth leading to impoverishment have proven equally wrong in all other metrics of human wellbeing, including average global lifespan, which increased 38 percent over the period in question; infant mortality, which decreased 55 percent; per capita caloric intake, which increased 38 percent; battle deaths, down 95 percent; secondary school enrollment, up 90 percent; extreme poverty, down 75 percent;  and deaths by natural catastrophes, down 99 percent. Et cetera, et cetera.

The abundance of natural resources has also greatly increased. The authors show this by measuring the price of goods measured in average wage labor hours. This is a fair approximation, but it actually understates the authors' case, because the advance in technology has eliminated the need for people to engage in huge amounts of unpaid labor, especially in the area of housework. For example, a couple living in a house with running water, gas heat, and a washer and dryer can now spend time earning money that their ancestors would have previously needed to devote to hauling water, chopping wood, and washing and drying clothes by hand.

Nevertheless, even measured by this conservative metric, the average "time price" of 26 natural resources and commodities for US blue-collar workers has fallen by 98 percent (i.e., dropped by a factor of 50) since 1850. Globally, the increase in abundance has been even faster, with the average time price of the 37 top commodities tracked by the World Bank reducing by a factor of 14 since 1960. The statistics the authors advance to support their thesis of rapidly growing abundance in virtually every category of good for the past two centuries is encyclopedic, with over 180 pages of charts and tables of data presented. If anyone ever needs data to prove that the application of Malthusian theory to the modern world is total nonsense, they will find it in this book.

The book also has many other valuable features, including tracking the antihumanist conceit across history in the literary and philosophical genres. It also contains a collection of absurd apocalyptic predictions by arrogant Malthusians that offers so much fun as to make it alone worth the price of the book.

Even the Malthusians only ever think there are too many "others".

Posted by orrinj at 7:50 AM


Posted by orrinj at 7:43 AM


Heat pumps can cut your energy costs by up to 90%. It's not magic, just physics (Alan Pears, 9/08/22, One Step Off the Grid)

Relative to an electric fan heater or traditional electric hot water service, I calculate a heat pump can save 60-85% on energy costs, which is a similar range to ACT government estimates.

Comparisons with gas are tricky, as efficiencies and energy prices vary a lot. Typically, though, a heat pump costs around half as much for heating as gas. If, instead of exporting your excess rooftop solar output, you use it to run a heat pump, I calculate it will be up to 90% cheaper than gas.

Heat pumps are also good for the climate. My calculations show a typical heat pump using average Australian electricity from the grid will cut emissions by about a quarter relative to gas, and three-quarters relative to an electric fan or panel heater.

If a high-efficiency heat pump replaces inefficient gas heating or runs mainly on solar, reductions can be much bigger. The gap is widening as zero-emission renewable electricity replaces coal and gas generation, and heat pumps become even more efficient.

Heat pumps available today achieve 300-600% efficiency - that is, for each unit of electricity consumed, they produce three to six units of heat. Heat pumps can operate in freezing conditions too.

Posted by orrinj at 7:39 AM


Texas Mass Shootings Up 62.5 Percent Since Permitless Carry Bill  (Jef Rouner, 9/07/22, Reform Austin)

Just over a year ago, Governor Greg Abbott signed a law making it legal for anyone in Texas over the age of 21 to openly carry a gun in public without a permit or license.  Since then, the number of mass shootings has risen 62.5 percent.

Neither party is pro-life.
Posted by orrinj at 7:37 AM


Marco Rubio downplays classified docs scandal as a 'storage' issue (Steve Benen, 9/06/22, MSNBC)

Six years ago, Sen. Marco Rubio repeatedly warned Americans that Donald Trump was so "dangerous" that he couldn't be trusted with highly sensitive national security secrets. As it turns out, the Florida Republican was right: Trump brought classified materials to his unsecure country club and refused to give them back, apparently putting our national security at risk.

Posted by orrinj at 7:30 AM


Why the populists failed (Miquel Vila, September 07, 2022, UnHerd)

[F]or all its charming British idiosyncrasies, Johnson's rise and ignominious fall is not a drama specific to the UK but a defining feature of the first populist wave. Under this label, we can classify a diverse range of anti-establishment forces and leaders which rose to power in the period from 2014 to 2022, whether Donald Trump, Syriza, or the coalition government between the Movimento 5 Stelle and La Lega. These movements all represented different ideas and varying degrees of claimed distance from liberal power brokers, but they all campaigned under the slogan of taking power from the elites and giving it back to the people, promises they all singularly failed to achieve.

The promise and virtue of anti-establishment forces lay in their capacity to build their strength by gathering support from aggrieved sectors of the working and middle classes who felt the system was failing them. They introduced topics to the public agenda that were excluded from political debate. The new communication techniques introduced by populists disrupted traditional political parties. This ensured populist coalitions were successful election-winning machines, but governing effectively was an entirely different story. Perhaps one of the most significant traits populist governments share is that absolutely none of them actually fulfilled their pledge of rebuilding their nations anew.

The constraints of real-life governance will always water down any promise of revolutionary change. Nevertheless, the problem with that recent wave of anti-establishment governments is not that the reforms they implemented fell short, but that such reforms never even began. The first thing Trump did was to suspend the TPP and the TTIP agreements, but then his government failed to present a programme to re-industrialise America. Boris Johnson eventually got Brexit done, but his real merit was preventing Brexit from being actively undone by technocratic liberal activists. Leftist Syriza passionately campaigned against EU austerity measures but, in the end, surrendered before a humiliating memorandum imposed by the Troika. Overall, almost no remarkable policy change was delivered by any of the numerous anti-establishment governments that took office during the past 10 years.

This is because these new forces were always weaker than hysterical liberal pundits wanted us to believe. To begin with, populist platforms have often been unwieldy coalitions of the disenchanted, united around a charismatic leader and common contempt for liberal elites. Their leaders have often been excellent communicators -- especially compared with the boring centrist grey men -- but they rarely had deep ideas of their own. If populist governments did not deliver meaningful change, that is partly because they didn't know what exactly they wanted to do once in power. Political opportunism may get you into office, but it can't reform a country.

Without a clear set of ideas, populists had a hard time framing social events in ways that could break with traditional political allegiances. And once in power, sooner or later, they all withdrew to their original  ideological safe space. When BLM protests erupted around the country, Trump took a traditional Republican stand, invoking "law and order", though until then, a central part of his discourse relied on a strong mistrust of the deep state and the security apparatus. On the Left, we have seen how Bernie Sanders, Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Podemos sided once and again with the liberal centre to "Stop Fascism". For a brief moment, it seemed possible that Boris Johnson would unleash the sovereign power of the British state towards reindustrialisation and finally lead the Tories from under Thatcher's shadow.

Despite their use of disruptive communication and reliance on mobilised grassroots, the platforms that enthroned populist leaders were ultimately all too similar to the traditional electoral machines they aimed to confront. In the case of Johnson or Trump, they used conventional parties with almost no internal reform. Regardless of the lack of clear vision at the top, populist platforms lacked a competent, reliable line of middle-ranking officials able to translate the orders of the command staff to the tailored demands of everyday politics. History teaches us that reliable bureaucracies are the backbone of good governance. Every visionary start-up leader needs a bunch of boring Excel drones, but the boring work of government was never quite to the populist, crowd-pleasing taste of Johnson, Trump, or Salvini.

For the hard work of actually governing, they'd have needed the immigrants they hate.

Posted by orrinj at 7:26 AM


Posted by orrinj at 6:57 AM


Schumer Super PAC Spends Millions To Damage Moderate Republican in New Hampshire Primary (Patrick Hauf,  September 7, 2022, Washington Free Beacon)

A super PAC aligned with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) is spending millions in New Hampshire's Senate Republican primary to damage a moderate, competitive candidate--a move that benefits a pro-Trump challenger who has called the state's Republican governor a "Chinese Communist sympathizer."

Posted by orrinj at 6:25 AM


Elected officials, police chiefs on leaked Oath Keepers list (ALANNA DURKIN RICHER and MICHAEL KUNZELMAN, 9/07/22,  Associated Press)

The names of hundreds of US law enforcement officers, elected officials, and military members appear on the leaked membership rolls of a far-right extremist group that's accused of playing a key role in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol, according to a report released Wednesday.

The Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism pored over more than 38,000 names on leaked Oath Keepers membership lists and identified more than 370 people it believes currently work in law enforcement agencies -- including as police chiefs and sheriffs -- and more than 100 people who are currently members of the military.

It also identified more than 80 people who were running for or served in public office as of early August.