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Preparation for Katowice Climate Talks

by gmoke Tue Nov 21st, 2017 at 06:29:54 PM EST

I've been reading a little about Poland while thinking about the results of the climate discussions from Bonn and the talks next year in Katowice.

One of my thoughts is that it might be good for the climate change community to devote some time over the next year to visualizing a zero carbon transition for Poland's coal economy that the Polish people and perhaps even the Polish government can recognize as a significant step forward without sacrificing their jobs or security.  This would go a long way towards heading off any difficulties from climate deniers and those of the authoritarian nationalist persuasion who'd like to make trouble.

I've contacted Mark Z Jacobson of Stanford University who has produced 100% renewable roadmaps for over 100 countries and all 50 states of the USA.  He would be a primary resource for such an enterprise and now I've done my best to make sure he considers the possibility.

Comments >> (4 comments)

MIT Energy Hackathon Puerto Rico (Caribbean) Challenge Results

by gmoke Mon Nov 6th, 2017 at 05:00:48 AM EST

The MIT Energy Hackathon began on Friday night, November 3 and ended Sunday morning, November 5.  9 energy challenges were presented to about 300 people for 2 minutes each.  After a take-out dinner, each presenter had the chance to talk with individual and small groups of students for an hour and a half and to check back in over the weekend.   I presented my challenge,  Rebuilding Energy Infrastructure in the Caribbean After the Hurricanes (https:/www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/10/29/1710825-MIT-Energy-Hackathon-Challenge-Rebuilding-Energ y-Infrastructure-in-the-Caribbean-After-the-Hurrica), the only one submitted by an individual not a corporation, as best I could.  There were over 40 teams at the Hackathon working on problems with Shell and GM's and other' climate goals, beer and other food and beverage waste treatment, drilling fluids, building energy use, and other topics.

Three teams took the hurricane reconstruction challenge up.  Each of them concentrated on Puerto Rico although I had specifically reminded them of the situation on Barbuda which was a much smaller scale, about 2000 people rather than more than 3 million.  One team redesigned Puerto Rico's electrical system as modular micro-grids with energy storage to provide 40% of the island's power from renewables within a reasonable time period.  Hawaii, with a population of about 1.5 million, is planning on 70% of its energy from renewables by 2030.  This team intends to keep working on their proposal for another upcoming hackathon.  

The second team proposed an app to identify what areas had electricity and what areas didn't and then link people with energy suppliers and systems, an app which is applicable not only to Puerto Rico but any disaster or emergency aftermath.  The third team would use SolarCoin (https://solarcoin.org/en/node/6), an existing online currency, and blockchain using Mycroft, "an open source Alexa" or Siri, to bootstrap and crowd fund a solar transition for individual and groups as well as community solar installations.  The first team was also thinking of electrical current as currency with blockchain, an authentication or accounting system, something that can lead to what I call a solar swadeshi (http://solarray.blogspot.com/2005/05/solar-swadeshi-hand-made-electricity.html) and, possibly, Gandhian economics (http://hubeventsnotes.blogspot.com/2014/04/inclusive-economics-gandhian-method-and.html).

There were nine finalists.  Two of the finalists were teams that took up the challenge of Puerto Rico:  the app team and the SolarCoin team.  Neither won any of the three top prizes but the SolarCoin team won the best in its challenge.

This particular challenge, building and rebuilding our energy and communications infrastructure in Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, and here in the USA, is an ongoing challenge, a problem that won't go away without a lot of work.  

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MIT Energy Hackathon: Rebuilding Energy Infrastructure in the Caribbean After the Hurricanes

by gmoke Tue Oct 31st, 2017 at 06:19:05 PM EST

The content committee for the MIT Energy Hackathon, November 3-5, has accepted my challenge on "Rebuilding Energy Infrastructure in the Caribbean After the Hurricanes."  With luck, an extremely
knowledgeable and expert team of MIT and other students will study this question and propose solutions.  

My cunning plan is to see whether Hackathon weekend can snowball into a global brainstorm on the topic, sorta kinda like a World Game or World Peace Game for all those who want to participate, "for the benefit of all who will allow the benefit of all," as my friend Milt Raymond used to say.  I think renewables are mature enough and affordable enough now to be a feasible alternative to the fossil fuel economy if you start from scratch.  And there are islands like Barbuda and areas of Puerto Rico which are doing just that.  This is an opportunity to design an accelerated renewable transition, something that was already buiding before disaster struck.

Here is the challenge proposal I submitted:

Read more... (5 comments, 790 words in story)

Crowd Funding an Emergency Solar Electric Grid for Puerto Rico and Other Islands

by gmoke Sun Sep 24th, 2017 at 03:18:56 AM EST

Solar lights and cell phone chargers are now $1or less production costs and selling around the world for $5 or less retail.  Add bicycle generators and you have independent indigenous emergency power now, day or night.  AA battery to car battery and better microgrids.

It is conceivable that we could crowd fund a basic emergency electrical system (lights, cell phones or radio, computers) for Puerto Rico (as well as the other islands destroyed by the recent hurricanes) within less time than the established grid can come back on line.

There are examples of islands which are planning and working toward 100% renewable power:
El Hierro, 7,000 people, one of the Spanish Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, uses wind and pumped hydro energy storage to supply 50% of its power
http://www.dw.com/en/renewable-energy-on-el-hierro/av-38694579

Kodiak Island, 15,000 people, in Alaska has been running its grid with wind and hydro power since 2012
http://www.sierraclub.org/pennsylvania/southeastern/blog/2017/05/kodiak-island-100-renewables

Samsø, 4,000 people, in Denmark has spent over the last decade moving towards zero carbon with wind, solar, and biomass
https:/www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/feb/24/energy-positive-how-denmarks-sams-islan d-switched-to-zero-carbon

Bornholm, 14,000 people, also in Denmark, is working towards a CO2-neutral society based on renewable and sustainable energy by 2025 and was the site of the EU's Grid 2.0 project
http://www.theinnovationofenergies.org/bornholm-energy-2016/
http://www.globalislands.net/greenislands/docs/denmark_44043147.pdf
http://www.ecogrid.dk/en/home_uk

and Hawaii, 1,400,000 people, has the goal of using renewables like wind, sun, ocean, geothermal, and bioenergy to supply 70 percent or more of Hawaii's energy needs by 2030
https:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_Hawaii#Hawaii_Clean_Energy_Initiative

How about an ad hoc global online design charette and hackathon to rebuild Anguilla, Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, St. Martin / St. Maarten, the US Virgin Islands, and Turks and Caicos, Dominica... ?  

That might be a good thought experiment.  Perhaps we could run it through the Small Island and Developing States UN organization
https:
/en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_Island_Developing_States

Civic Self Defense Resources

by gmoke Tue Sep 19th, 2017 at 04:35:45 PM EST

Always useful to start with A Guide to Crap Detection Resources
https:/docs.google.com/document/d/163G79vq-mFWjIqMb9AzYGbr5Y8YMGcpbSzJRutO8tpw

Then to look at what just happened.  The Shorenstein Center at Harvard's Kennedy School tracked the 2016 election and published what they found.
Media Coverage of the 2016 Election
https:/shorensteincenter.org/research-media-coverage-2016-election

Combatting Fake News:  An Agenda for Research and Action
https:/shorensteincenter.org/combating-fake-news-agenda-for-research

Exploring the Role of Algorithms in Online Harmful Speech
https:/shorensteincenter.org/exploring-role-algorithms-online-harmful-speech

Another academic report from Harvard comes from the Berkman Klein Center at the Law School
Partisanship, Propaganda, and Disinformation: Online Media and the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election
https://cyber.harvard.edu/node/99981

The Alliance for Securing Democracy, a bipartisan, transatlantic initiative housed at The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF), is studying how foreign state and other actors are undermining democracy around the world and developing tools to cope.
http://securingdemocracy.gmfus.org

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City Agriculture - June 13, 2017

by gmoke Tue Jun 13th, 2017 at 07:32:16 PM EST

InFarm for supermarkets who want to grow their own food
https:/www.fastcompany.com/3058155/at-this-supermarket-the-produce-section-grows-its-own-produce
Editorial Comment:  This may be my favorite of the shipping container farms now as they seem to be thinking most seriously about reducing energy and water requirements

Forest cities to fight air pollution in China
https:
www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/feb/17/forest-cities-radical-plan-china-air-pollution-stefan o-boeri

Greenhouse for the Moon and Mars
http://inhabitat.com/nasa-unveils-inflatable-greenhouse-for-sustainable-farming-on-mars/
https:
cals.arizona.edu/lunargreenhouse/PhaseII.htm

World's largest vertical garden in Bogata, Colombia
http://inhabitat.com/the-worlds-largest-vertical-garden-blooms-with-85000-plants-in-the-heart-of-bog ota

Hong Kong'a rooftop farms
http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170517-an-inside-view-of-hong-kongs-hidden-rooftop-farms

Plenty - an indoor vertical growing system aiming for high efficiency in both input and output
https:/www.fastcompany.com/40420610/has-this-silicon-valley-startup-finally-nailed-the-indoor-farmi ng-model

Seoul's Skygarden - urban overpass to greenspace transformation
https:
www.mvrdv.nl/en/projects/seoul-skygarden
http://www.archdaily.com/871754/mvrdvs-skygarden-a-transformed-983-meter-former-highway-opens-in-seo ul
https:
www.dezeen.com/2017/05/22/mvrdv-seoullo-7017-conversion-overpass-highway-road-park-garden-hi gh-line-seoul-south-korea
Editorial Comment:  Seoul has also resurrected a formerly buried river: https:/en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheonggyecheon

Texas supermarket chain to grow its own produce in shipping "Growtainers"
http://www.andnowuknow.com/quick-dish/h-e-b-owned-central-market-partners-cea-advisors-and-growtaine r-store/jordan-okumura/53774#
http://inhabitat.com/this-texas-supermarket-is-growing-its-own-veggies-in-a-shipping-container-farm/

Chinese plant factories to grow clean food in dirty cities
https:
www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-05-25-plant-factories-churn-out-clean-food-in-china-s- dirty-cities
hat tip Fred Hapgood

Taipei "Forest Bus," with turf-lined seats,hanging orchids and ferns that continued to run as a mode of transport from florist Alfie Lin and designer Xiao Qing-Yang
http://inhabitat.com/city-bus-transformed-into-an-enchanting-forest-reconnects-commuters-to-nature/
https:/www.facebook.com/1973lin

See through garden house in Ho Chi Minh City
http://www.archdaily.com/872113/less-house-ha
http://inhabitat.com/glowing-see-through-garden-house-lets-plants-soak-up-the-sun/
Editorial Comment:  Vietnamese architects and designers are doing some very good work on urban agriculture.

Google's million square foot "Landscraper" for London - rooftop gardens over multiple storeys with "plateau," "gardens," and "fields" planted with strawberries, gooseberries and sage
https:/www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jun/01/google-submits-plans-million-sq-ft-london-hq-cons truction-kings-cross

200 square meters, 3500 kg per year production in Gaza hydroponic urban farm
https:
vimeo.com/192703220

Terrill:  solar weeding robot, Roomba for your garden
https:
/www.kickstarter.com/projects/rorymackean/tertill-the-solar-powered-weeding-robot-for-home-g? ref=5j5256
hat tip Michel Selva
Editorial Comment:  I, for one, welcome our new robot gardening overlords

Also archived at http://cityag.blogspot.com/2017/06/city-agriculture-june.html where you can find all my City Agriculture links list posts.

The Trmp Conspiracies: A Few Political Fantasies

by gmoke Mon May 29th, 2017 at 09:48:31 PM EST

In my political fantasy life (no resemblance to persons living or dead), I like to play with the idea of deep conspiracies wondering, "What if?" from different directions, a variation of umpteeump dimensional chess. I don't believe any of it but just like to consider the possibilities.

What if Ivana Zelníčková Trmp was the original Russian/Soviet/espionage honeypot?
What if the Trmp's are actually "The Americans," deep cover sleeper agents like the ones in that show?
What if Ivanka and her siblings are the second generation of the operation? (Hello, Jared.)

That's one thread.

What if Fred Kch, father of the Kch Bros, who made his first millions with Stalin back in the 1930s, cooked up a long-term Fifth Column operation from the Right at some desk in the Kremlin back in those bad old days?  What if the Jhn Brch Socity was funded to destabilize American democracy (such as it is) as much as the Communist Party USA, a Rightwing/Leftwing combination?

Fact of the matter is, with the 2016 Rpblcn Party, the "Eisenhower is a Commie" and "Impeach Earl Warren" Jhn Brch Socity of the 1950s won. It is the Rpblcn Party today, with a healthy helping of Christianist Dominionism added, all those preaching theocrats who are happy to ignore President Trmp's public behavior. This religious strain (take that any way you want) hearkens back and forward to Sinclair Lewis' It Can't Happen Here and Robert Heinlein's Revolt in 2100 as well as Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale.

And that's a whole nother group of conspiracies to play. Lotsa conspiracies and dystopias to go around.

Read more... (23 comments, 756 words in story)

City Agriculture - April 21, 2017

by gmoke Sat Apr 22nd, 2017 at 02:52:05 AM EST

An apartment filled with plants
http://modernfarmer.com/2016/07/summer-rayne-oakes/

Daytonian in Manhattan - "The stories behind the buildings, statues and other points of interest that make Manhattan fascinating."
Can't have a viable city agriculture without an understanding of the buildings on the land and their histories.
http://daytoninmanhattan.blogspot.com

MyFood smart solar backyard greenhouse with aquaponics
https:/myfood.eu

Ecoqube Frame - tabletop or vertical garden for micro greens
https:
www.kickstarter.com/projects/kevinzl/ecoqube-frame-best-vertical-garden

Purdue University Biowall to clean air and save energy
https:
techxplore.com/news/2017-03-biowall-household-air-energy-bills.html

Starchitect Daniel Libeskind designs shyscraper with vertical garden for Toulouse, France
http://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/daniel-libeskind-skyscraper-first-in-historical-french-city

Buildings like trees:  Oas1s
https:
www.oas1s.com
https:
youtu.be/B3gbfDfjDto

BBC on vertical farming
http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170405-how-vertical-farming-reinvents-agriculture

100 hectare urban farming district in Shanghai
http://www.archdaily.com/868129/sasaki-unveils-design-for-sunqiao-a-100-hectare-urban-farming-distri ct-in-shanghai

Vietnamese house which provides food for three generations of residents in Ho Chi Minh City
http://www.archdaily.com/868963/binh-house-vo-trong-nhia-architects
http://votrongnghia.com/projects/binh-house/

Hanoi house with plants to clean polluted air
http://hungnguyenarchitects.weebly.com/our-work.html
http://www.archdaily.com/869376/pavilion-of-the-origins-hung-nguyen-architects

First vertical farm in the Netherlands
https:
cleantechnica.com/2017/04/19/vertical-farming-taking-off-europes-first-commercial-vertical-f arm-construction-netherlands

To Earth [also known as Gaia], Mother of All

by gmoke Wed Mar 15th, 2017 at 01:43:56 AM EST

To Earth [also known as Gaia], Mother of All

I shall sing of well-formed Earth, mother of all
and oldest of all, who nourishes all things living on land.
Her beauty nurtures all creatures that walk upon the land,
and all that move in the deep or fly in the air.
O mighty one, you are the source of fair children and goodly fruit,
and on you it depends to give life to, or take it away from,
mortal men.  Blessed is the man you favor
with willing heart, for he will have everything in abundance.
His life-giving land teems with crops, and on his fields
his flocks thrive while his house is filled with goods.
Such men with just laws rule a city
of beautiful women, while much prosperity and wealth attend them.
Their sons glory in youthful glee
and their daughters with cheerful hearts in flower-dances.

from The Homeric Hymns
Apostolos N Athanassakis, translator
Baltimore, MD:  The John Hopkins University Press, 1976
ISBN 0-8018-1792-7

Comments >> (3 comments)

China's National Carbon Cap and Trade Program

by gmoke Sat Dec 24th, 2016 at 06:16:15 PM EST

Notes from China's National Cap-and-Trade Program: The Promise and the Reality Wednesday, November 9
3:30PM TO 4:45PM
Harvard, 100F Pierce Hall, 29 Oxford Street, Cambridge

Wang Pu, Fellow at the Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, HKS.

Co-sponsored by the China Project, SEAS, and the Environment and Natural Resources Program, HKS.

China Project Seminar Series
https:/www.seas.harvard.edu/calendar/event/92611

Contact Name:  Tiffany Chan tiffanychan@seas.harvard.edu

------------------

China started 7 different pilot programs with local administration of carbon trading in 2013, covering electricity and heavy industry but also including buildings in the Shenzhen pilot program.  The average carbon price was $4-5 per ton.  Problems included lack of consistency and transparency, weak legal enforcement, and lack of accurate emission data, but there was very high compliance, up to 98% participation by the entities covered.

The national program has no specified emission reduction goals, projections, or trajectory for carbon reduction.  It is a bottom up approach with the national cap to be based on the sum of facility data.  The national carbon trading administration identifies industry sectors and thresholds while the regions identify the covered facilities:  steel, electricity, petrochemical, cement, nonferrous metal, paper mills and aviation. Around 10,000 firms are included, covering 30-40% of national carbon emissions.  The allowance allocation is similarly two tiered with provincial authorities allocating allowances based upon the national allowances using a combination of benchmarking, grandfathering, and auctions.

State-owned enterprises control 50% of electricity capacity and much of heavy industry.  The electricity sector has generation quotas and prices set by the government so market mechanisms don't necessarily work.  Steel, cement and glass production are decreasing but becoming more efficient.  The electricity and petrochemical industries may buy up their allowances to create inequities and reduce emission effects.  Climate policy is thus being used to force manufacturing to upgrade technology and improve energy efficiency to reduce air pollution, a pressing political issue around the country.  (And one becoming increasingly urgent given the most recent news in December 2016.)

CO2 is not categorized as a pollutant and the trading is supported only by administrative documents, with the climate department outranked by many state-owned enterprises and a very small staff, about 30 people in the NDRC (National Development and Research Commission).   Emission data is very weak, a problem of credibility more than technology, with self-reporting, third party verification and emission data checked against production data for consistency.  As China has strong regional differences in emissions and economic benefits - high emission/middle income (North), low emission/high income (South coast) and low emission/low income sectors (Western provinces), the calculations for each province of air pollution co-benefits range from $2 to $200 per unit of carbon capped, extremely unequally across the country.  

This cap and trade program may simply be symbolic, a gesture to the international  community, but it can also serve as an experiment to build institutional capacity, and a market based policy for reform.  It's the only policy control on CO2, more flexible than command and control, and can help toward an economic soft landing by driving the less efficient businesses out without a big shock.  It also certainly builds the public awareness of climate change.  However, the speaker, Wang Pu, believes the program will not provide all the advertised benefits.

---------30---------

If Alex Steffen is right in this article Trump, Putin, and the Pipelines to Nowhere (https:medium.com@AlexSteffen/trump-putin-and-the-pipelines-to-nowhere-742d745ce8fd#.k2tuyyh7g ), and I believe he is correct in identifying what is happening as a global carbon coup to monetize as much fossil fuel as possible before climate change becomes undeniable, then I suspect the Trumpian USA and Putin's Russia will try to distract China from its own climate change activities like this national cap and trade program.  Might be good to keep that in mind as we descend into the depths of the fossil fools.  

More information on the current cost of carbon at http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/8/16/1412568/-The-Current-Cost-of-Carbon

Comments >> (7 comments)

City Agriculture - December 15, 2016

by gmoke Sat Dec 17th, 2016 at 12:20:52 AM EST

Guizhou - Mountain Forest Hotel:  a vertical forest hotel so green that it may also purify the surrounding air
http://www.stefanoboeriarchitetti.net/en/portfolios/guizhou-10-thousand-peaks-valley-project/

Paris "Mille Arbres" or Thousand Trees building with an urban park on the ground and a forest in the sky
http://inhabitat.com/reverse-pyramid-in-paris-is-a-sustainable-urban-community-up-in-the-sky/

Vertical farming and urban ag tech article
http://www.core77.com/posts/57398/The-Urbanization-of-Farming--A-Love-Story

Living wall in London for construction site
http://www.arup.com/news/2016_11_november/1_november_arup_and_grosvenor_champion_new_living_wall_tec hnology_in_mayfair

Regenerative villages
https:/www.businessinsider.nl/self-sufficient-village-regen-2016-9

Amsterdam - redesigning Amsterdam for urban agriculture and more
http://www.hofmandujardin.nl/oamsterdam/
http://inhabitat.com/urban-farming-food-markets-and-parks-replace-banks-and-parking-lots-in-this-mas terplan-for-amsterdam/

Artisan Moss - moss for green walls - I wonder if they are doing edible mosses too
http://www.artisanmoss.com
http://www.artisanmoss.com/retail-residential-gallery/
http://www.artisanmoss.com/gallery-commercial/

Mississauga Food Bank starts an aquaponics food farm
https:/www.themississaugafoodbank.org/aquaponics-101
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/mississauga-aquaponics-1.3865423

Living Food Bank - their first is in Haiti at the Northwest Haiti Christian Mission in St. Louis Du Nord
http://aquaponics.com/living-food-bank/

Agora Gardens in Taipei - a green building that absorbs CO2
http://vincent.callebaut.org/object/130122_taipei/taipei/projects

Michigan Urban Farming Initiative - America's First Sustainable Urban Agrihood is "two-acre urban garden, a 200-tree fruit orchard, a children's sensory garden, and more. Annually, the urban garden provides fresh, free produce to about 2,000 households within two square miles of the farm."
http://www.miufi.org

Mobile greenhouse for urban farming
http://www.resilience.org/stories/2016-12-08/insurgent-architecture-students-built-a-mobile-greenhou se-to-overcome-urban-farming-challenges?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

McKinsey Talks Energy and Climate at MIT

by gmoke Tue Dec 6th, 2016 at 10:49:57 PM EST

On November 21, 2016 Scott Nyquist of McKinsey & Company (http://www.mckinsey.com) spoke to the public at MIT's Sloan School (https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeTLrGhwLlrx3wx3eTYcnTX6pIS6iziw4RTLiYNL9uP0dWmVQ/viewform ?c=0&w=1).

Over the next 20 years, there are projections for 80% more demand on resources as a result of growing populations and growing economic production.  However, higher energy intensity, efficiency, and slower GDP growth leads McKinsey and Company to consider a less than base case view.

McKinsey sees 74% of our energy still coming from fossil fuels by 2050, with an energy related CO2 peak by 2035, and a similar peak in transportation by 2025.  COP 21, the Paris Agreement, has businesses going ahead and beyond waiting for negotiation, regulations and governments.  Nyquist pointed us toward not only the Energy Transitions Commission (http://www.energy-transitions.org), 28 leaders from business who recognize that COP21 is not enough and are setting zero carbon as a planning goal but also the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (http://www.oilandgasclimateinitiative.com), 10 companies with 20% of global oil and gas production, which has pledged $1 billion for low carbon technology.

Read more... (10 comments, 525 words in story)

Some Patterns of American Political Demographics

by gmoke Fri Nov 11th, 2016 at 02:34:16 AM EST

I like to watch/listen to CSPAN while I write and search the Web, especially the weekend Book TV.  Around midnight, as September 17 slid into 18 this year (2016),  Alan Taylor was talking about his book, American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804.  He referenced John Adams' 1815 letter which introduced the rule of thirds for the American Revolution "I should say that full one third were averse to the revolution.... An opposite third... gave themselves up to an enthusiastic gratitude to France.  The middle third,... always averse to war, were rather lukewarm both to England and France;...." (although he was writing about American views on the French Revolution instead of our own Revolutionary War).

Alan Taylor, based on his research, believes that the Colonists were one fifth loyalists, two fifth Revolutionaries, and two fifths in the middle.  At the time, Colonist population was 2.5 million, a fifth of whom, 500,000, or 20%, were slaves.

The day before, Bill Clinton on the September 15, 2016 The Daily show mentioned a 40% Democrats, 40% Republicans, 20% independent breakdown, at least historically.  "...For most of my life, each political party has a 40% base and then there were 20% that were genuinely were up for grabs.  By the time the 2000 race came along, Between Al Gore and President George W Bush, it was probably down to 10%.  It may be down to less now because we're getting siloed."
Some other numbers which may be revealing.

"According to polls on February 27, 2006, two weeks after the accident [shooting Harry Whittington], Dick Cheney's approval rating had dropped 5 percentage points to 18%.

To the end of the Watergate scandal, 24% of Americans supported Nixon.

In the 2016 election about 117 million eligible voters didn't vote. Of the 241 million people eligible to vote only 200 million registered. 51 to 52%, a bare majority of voters voted this time.  By Thursday, Clinton had 59,938,290 votes nationally to Trump's 59,704,886, or 233,404 more, the fifth time a candidate won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College.  Neither candidate got 50%: around 47.7% for Clinton and 47.5% for Trump.

Half of the eligible voters didn't vote and those that did vote are split about equally just shy of a majority.  Less than a quarter of the electorate are for Trump, less than a quarter are for Clinton, and half didn't vote.

These are some of the patterns of American political demographics I see.

Comments >> (1 comment)

The Atrocity Election: A Ballardian Forecast

by gmoke Tue Sep 27th, 2016 at 12:36:49 AM EST

I've always liked JG Ballard.  Some know him as the author of the novel about being a British child in an intermit camp in Shanghai during WWII, Empire of the Sun, the source of the Spielberg movie which gave us Christian Bale.  Others know his more quintessentially Ballardian books of "dystopian modernity, bleak man-made landscapes and the psychological effects of technological, social or environmental developments."

I took the DVD version of the recent movie of Ballard's novel High-Rise with Tom HIddleston and Sienna Miller out of the library the other day.  I had read the book long ago and originally wanted to see the movie in the theater but it came and went too fast.  Watching the film, it reminded me of the other novels of Ballard which followed the same theme of the balance between modernity and savagery from high rise apartment blocks like High-Rise to a Spanish resort community (Cocaine Nights) to the all-in-one business park of Eden-Olympia (Super-Cannes) to an environmental conservation project in the South Pacific that goes terribly wrong (Rushing to Paradise) to middle class rebellion in a gated community (MIllennium People).

Kingdom Come (NY:  Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2006  ISBN 978-0-87140-403-9), the last novel Ballard published during his lifetime, is about the confluence of consumerism and fascism. Digging into my archives, I came across my notes from when I read the book a few years ago.  Looking over the quotes, I found it to be quite an apt commentary on the current political climate, not just in the United States of America but all around the world (see this article on the relationship between Brexit, Trump, and authoritarian movements in Europe and other countries (http://www.vox.com/2016/9/19/12933072/far-right-white-riot-trump-brexit).  Don't tell anybody but there's an Asian contingent too with Rodrigo Duterte, President of the Philippines, and Shinzo Abe's moves toward the re-militarization of Japan.  

The links between consumerism and fascism are becoming commonplace with late stage capitalism in a world ecosystem collapsing under the thoughtless appetites of the human population as we see political violence and 24/7/365 mediated lone wolf and small group criminally insane terrorism.  In this book Ballard combines the mall with mob politics.  He does not really provide any answers but JG Ballard does have a detailed definition of the problem.

Read more... (9 comments, 2095 words in story)

City Agriculture - September 25, 2016

by gmoke Sun Sep 25th, 2016 at 11:44:00 PM EST

NYC Farm condo for the High Line?
http://westonbaker.com/#projects/hybrid-farm-apartment
https:/www.cityrealty.com/nyc/market-insight/features/the-new-skyline/could-this-farm-condo-gallery -hybrid-be-coming-rem-koolhaas-high-line-parcel/5122

NYC World's Fair NY State Pavilion reimagined as greenhouse bubble
http://therealdeal.com/2016/08/05/winning-design-reimagines-worlds-fair-site-in-flushing-as-giant-gr eenhouse-bubble

LEED for vertical farms
https:/www.greenbiz.com/article/leed-vertical-farms-defining-high-tech-sustainable-food

Tulsa, OK's urban farming to reduce food deserts
https:
www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/aug/25/tulsa-oklahoma-community-garden-urban-farming-oasis-f ood-desert

Seeing the Forest for the Trees: Planning for Parks and Urban Forests in Los Angeles County
http://losangeles.urbdezine.com/2016/08/23/trees-planning-parks-urban-forests-los-angeles-county/
hat tip Gil Friend
Editorial Comment:  My observation from years of listening to major journalists talk at Harvard's Shorenstein is that sometimes there are also people who can't see the forest for the leaves.

Mobile green living room touring Europe
http://www.turas-cities.org/blog/52
http://inhabitat.com/plant-covered-mobile-green-living-room-travels-through-europe/

3 "forests" for London Design Festival
http://inhabitat.com/asif-khan-and-mini-unveil-3-plant-filled-microshelters-for-urbanites/

Fruit walls and urban farming in the 1600s
http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2015/12/fruit-walls-urban-farming.html#more

Proposal for Brussels Botanic Center renovation as plant-covered and smog fighting building
http://vincent.callebaut.org/page1-img-botaniccenter.html

Spherical Growroom to demonstrate urban farming in Copenhagen
https:
www.space10.io/journal/growing-sphere-exploring-how-cities-can-feed-themselves-through-advan ced-urban-farming

Agro Food Park for the "Silicon Valley of Agriculture" in Aarhus, Denmark
http://www.mcdonoughpartners.com/projects/agro-food-park/

The Hanging Gardens now being built in Copenhagen will allow residents to grow, buy, and sell their own vegetables without leaving the building
http://inhabitat.com/hanging-gardens-tower-will-allow-residents-to-grow-and-sell-their-own-vegetable s-on-site

http://www.tegnestuenlokal.dk/Himmelhaverne-Gronttorvet-1

Editorial Comment:  Do these three links mean an eyewitness report from Denmark is necessary?

Williamsburg Brooklyn's 15,000-square-foot public rooftop park atop the new William Vale Hotel.
http://inhabitat.com/nyc/enjoy-sweeping-city-views-from-this-new-public-rooftop-garden-atop-the-will iam-vale-hotel/
http://www.gunnlandscapes.com/in-progress/level-hotel-2/

Local food can go too far
https://the-macroscope.org/local-food-is-great-but-can-it-go-too-far-ba686abe2ab7#.qks5sk1v5

The Politics of PT Barnum

by gmoke Sun Sep 11th, 2016 at 02:16:12 AM EST

Phineas Taylor (PT) Barnum was not only a show business producer and early mass marketeer but also a politician.  He was elected to two terms in the Connecticut state legislature (1865 and 1866) representing the town of Fairfield as a member of the Republican Party.  A decade later, he was elected by acclamation as mayor of Bridgeport, CT.  His political career was very different from the candidate he is being compared to this 2016 Presidential season.

At the end of the Civil War, Barnum ran for the state legislature expressly to ratify the 14th Amendment to the USA Constitution and extend Connecticut state voting rights to African-American men as he stated in his speech to the legislature on May 26, 1865:

Mr. Speaker: I am no politician, I came to this Legislature simply because I wished to have the honor of voting for the two constitutional amendments--one for driving slavery entirely out of the country; the other to allow men of education and good moral character to vote, regardless of the color of their skins. To give my voice for these two philanthropic, just, and Christian measures is all the glory I ask legislativewise. I care nothing whatever for any sect or party under heaven, as such. I have no axes to grind, no logs to roll, no favors to ask. All I desire is to do what is right, and prevent what is wrong. I believe in no "expediency" that is not predicated of justice, for in all things--politics, as well as everything else -- "I know that honesty is the best policy." A retributive Providence will unerringly and speedily search out all wrong doing; hence, right is always the best in the long run. Certainly, in the light of the great American spirit of liberty and equal rights which is sweeping over this country, and making the thrones of tyrants totter in the old world, no party can afford to carry slavery, either of body or of mind. Take down the blinds from his intellect, and let in the light of education and Christian culture. When this is done you have developed a man. Give him the responsibility of a man and the self-respect of a man, by granting him the right of suffrage. Let universal education, and the universal franchise be the motto of free America, and the toiling millions of Europe, who are watching you with such intense interest, will hail us as their saviors. Let us loyally sink "party" on this question, and go for "God and our Country." Let no man attach an eternal stigma to his name by shutting his eyes to the great lesson of the hour, and voting against permitting the people to express their opinion on this important subject. Let us unanimously grant this truly democratic boon. Then, when our laws of franchise are settled on a just basis, let future parties divide where they honestly differ on State or national questions which do not trench upon the claims of manhood or American citizenship.
Source:  http://lostmuseum.cuny.edu/archive/p-t-barnums-speech-on-negro-suffrage-may-26-1

Barnum was also instrumental during that session in keeping the "railroad ring" from selecting the Speaker of the Connecticut House and appointing the head of the railroad commission, fighting against Commodore Vanderbilt who had raised the price of tickets on the Hudson River and Harlem railroads from 200 - 400% and was about to do the same with the New York and New Haven road in which he was also a major stockholder.  The fight lasted all through the legislative session and was so bitter that the railroad interests' main proponent on the commission took to his bed "sick" ten days before the close of session and stayed there until the legislature adjourned.

"Through Barnum's efforts a law was passed that no person in the employ of any railroad in the State, should serve as railroad commissioner."
Source:  http://www.electricscotland.com/history/barnum/chap36.htm

"In March, 1875, the nomination for Mayor of Bridgeport was offered Barnum, but he refused it, until assured that the nomination was intended as a compliment, and that both parties would sustain it."   The city of Bridgeport usually voted Democratic but Barnum ran on the Republican ticket and was easily elected.  He campaigned against public intoxication, closed the bars on Sunday, and crusaded to lower utility rates, improve water supplies, and eliminate the city's houses of prostitution.

During 1875, he was also on the lecture circuit with a talk titled "The World and How to Live in It," that he gave 30 times around the eastern United States and traveled to Niagara Falls and Akron, OH to visit his Hippodrome which was on tour as far east as Thomaston, Maine and west to Leavenworth, Kansas that season.

When he was 81, he grew ill.  At his request, the New York Evening Sun newspaper published his obituary in advance so he could enjoy it.   Two weeks later, April 7, 1891, PT Barnum was dead.

There seems to have been a lot more to Phineas Taylor Barnum than we usually remember.

Comments >> (2 comments)

Zero Net Energy - August 5, 2016

by gmoke Fri Aug 5th, 2016 at 09:52:46 PM EST

I'm noticing a cross-over now between zero net energy building and city agriculture, two subjects I follow and publish links lists on.  The archive of the city agriculture links list is at cityag.blogspot.com

Net Zero Plus
The NetZero Plus Electric Training Institute (NZP-ETI), opened recently in Los Angeles, and is the largest net-zero plus commercial building retrofit in USA which "will function as a living laboratory, educational facility and demonstration center for advanced and emerging clean energy technologies."
http://nzp-eti.com
http://inhabitat.com/largest-net-zero-plus-commercial-retrofit-in-the-us-opens-in-los-angeles/

Eco-Cooler
http://inhabitat.com/this-amazing-bangladeshi-air-cooler-is-made-from-plastic-bottles-and-uses-no-el ectricity/
https:/youtu.be/jPuh8IFbIzQ
I've built a version of this for myself and it seems to work although mine is just a small test model

All terrain off the grid survival vehicle
http://www.treehugger.com/tiny-houses/survival-van-conversion-off-grid-all-terrain-john-mcelhiney.ht ml

New home construction moving towards net zero
http://cleantechnica.com/2016/06/23/new-construction-homes-moving-towards-net-zero-california-leads- way

Retrofit home in Whatcom County, Washington produces twice the energy it now consumes (in an area with solar insolation of 3.5 - 3.0 kWh/square meter/day)
http://sustainableconnections.org/news/sc-press-releases/100-powered-by-sunshine-first-home-in-whatc om-county-to-receive-net-zero-energy-certification
http://inhabitat.com/retrofitted-net-zero-home-in-washington-produces-double-the-energy-it-needs/

Virginia Beach,VA 10,500-square-foot Brock Environmental Center turns rainwater into drinking water, produces 83% more energy than it uses
http://inhabitat.com/incredible-net-zero-energy-brock-environmental-center-turns-rainwater-into-drin king-water/
http://www.cbf.org/brock

Net Zero Energy Vermont - blog focusing on making Vermont the first zero energy state
http://www.netzeroenergyvt.net/
Net zero energy feasibility study for Vermont buildings (and beyond)
https:/www.efficiencyvermont.com/news-blog/whitepapers/net-zero-energy-feasibility-study
Net zero downtown Montpelier design competition
https:
netzerovt.org/design-competition

Siemens new Munich headquarters, using 90% less electricity and 75% less water than the building it replaced

http://www.henninglarsen.com/news/archive/2016/06/one-of-europe's-most-sustainable-buildings-inaugur ated.aspx
http://inhabitat.com/renovated-siemens-headquarters-in-munich-now-consumes-90-less-energy-and-75-les s-water/

Los Angeles net zero solar powered  20 unit apartment building:  Hanover Olympic
http://www.hanoverolympic.com/eco-green-homes
http://www.hanoverolympic.com/los-angeles/hanover-olympic/photos/
http://inhabitat.com/first-solar-powered-net-zero-apartment-building-in-los-angeles-opens-its-doors/

Nanjing China zero net energy Green Light House
http://www.archdaily.com/792110/nanjing-green-light-house-archiland-international
http://inhabitat.com/zero-carbon-nanjing-green-lighthouse-is-a-beacon-for-sustainable-design-in-chin a/

Net Zero community in Salt Lake City
http://www.buildingsaltlake.com/net-zero-community-coming-salt-lake/

Telus Gardens in Vancouver, LEED Platinum with indoor gardens
http://inhabitat.com/vancouvers-greenest-office-building-envisions-a-new-kind-of-office-space-with-t elus-garden/
http://henriquezpartners.com/archimemo/telus-garden-grand-opening/
http://www.officemb.ca/work/telus-garden/

LIAR Living Architecture
"This project will develop blocks able to extract resources from sunlight, waste water and air. The bricks are able to fit together and create `bioreactor walls' which could then be incorporated in housing, public buildings and office spaces."
http://www.ncl.ac.uk/press/news/2016/07/liarlivingarchitecture/

Floating House - 100 sqm residential unit, 12 m in diameter and 4 m high, made entirely of recycled laminated timber on a recycled aluminium hull.
http://www.ecoflolife.com/floating-house/

Solar Electric Power to the People

by gmoke Fri Jul 29th, 2016 at 03:20:13 AM EST

I like direct action, positive protest that has immediate, practical, social and economic use.

That's why I say, Solar IS Civil Defense - light, phone, battery can be supplied by a few square inches of solar electric panel.  The solar bike lights on my backpack over the last decade have proven the concept to my satisfaction (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/6/30/352476/-).

Light, phone, battery are also entry level electricity for the 1.4 billion or so of us around the world who don't yet have access to reliable electric power.  Emergency preparedness at home, entry level solar power to the people who've never had it is essentially the same thing.

Bare minimum solar electricity for all, as long as the sun shines and the batteries hold out, is technically and practically feasible now.

It is rapidly becoming affordable too.  

I know of one company that is reaching the price point of $1 per unit production costs for solar rechargeable lights (http://www.thriveenergy.co.in) and believe that there are others that are doing the same or better.  That's $1.4 in production costs (or less, given economies of scale) to supply everyone among the presently powerless or $200 million if we start with one solar lighting system per family at a global average of 7 people per family.

How much more for delivery and setting up the infrastructure?  The Dominican Light Project (http://www.esencialessrl.com) is beginning to provide solar lights for every family in the Dominican Republic at a proposed cost of $5 each to the customer's door.  They raised some of their money through crowdfunding (https:/www.indiegogo.com/projects/dominican-light-project-by-esenciales-j-s-srl--2#)

Bare minimum solar electricity for all, as long as the sun shines and the batteries hold out, is not only technically feasible but also affordable and practical now.

in 2015, the world's military forces spent $1,676.0 billion or $4.59 billion per day
Source:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures

2016 USA Presidential election spending to July 22, 2016:
Amount raised by candidates:  $904 million
Amount raised by Super PACS supporting them:  $492
Source:  http://www.opensecrets.org/pres16/

Just for reference.

Conceivably, there could be an ad hoc popular movement for crowd funding the end of electrical energy poverty within the next 3 to 5 years.  A day of what we spend on warfare or a US Presidential campaign could give everybody who needed a light, light.  

This is solar electric power to the people.

Now, add a bicycle or a hand-crank and you have two reliable sources of electricity day or night, by sunlight or muscle power.  
See http://solarray.blogspot.com/2004/12/three-solar-projects.html

Read more... (8 comments, 462 words in story)

Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman by William Tecumseh Sherman

by gmoke Thu Jul 28th, 2016 at 03:22:51 AM EST

Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman by William Tecumseh Sherman
NY:  The Library of America, 1990
ISBN 0-940450-65-8

Sherman went to West Point in 1836 and graduated in 1840, 4th in his class academically. He served in Florida, South Carolina, and California, and was at Sutter's Mill as the Gold Rush began. He resigned his commission in 1853 and became a banker in San Francisco and later a lawyer in St Louis before teaching engineering at the Louisiana Seminary of Learning and Military Academy in 1860, from which he resigned in January 1861 to accept a commission in the US Army in May. After his memoirs were first published, he included a long appendix in the second edition consisting of letters from interested parties correcting mistakes and offering different recollections of the events he covered. The first time he was in battle was the first Bull Run and he remembered
"...the whole scene of the affair at Blackburn's Ford, when for the first time in my life I saw cannonballs strike men and crash through the trees and saplings above and around us, and realized the always sickening confusion as one approaches a fight from the rear;  then the night-march from Centreville, on the Warrenton road, standing for hours wondering what was meant;  the deployment along the edge of the field that sloped down to Bull Run, and waiting for Hunter's approach on the other side from the direction of Sudley Springs, away off to our right;  the terrible scare of a poor negro who was caught between our lines;  the crossing of Bull Run, and the fear lest we shoudl be fired on by our own men;  the killing of Lieutenant-Colonel Haggerty, which occurred in plain sight;  and the first scenes of a field strewed with dead men and horses."
General Sherman knew that "Generally war is destruction and nothing else."

His letter to the mayor of Atlanta is remarkable and may be read at
http://hubeventsnotes.blogspot.com/2016/07/memoirs-of-william-tecumseh-sherman.html

Along with all my other notes from the book.

Comments >> (2 comments)

When Do We Practice Peace?

by gmoke Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 09:54:31 PM EST

We have all these wars and conflicts happening now.  When do we practice peace?

As the great bluesman Willy Dixon, a conscientious objector in WWII, sings
It Don't Make Sense If You Can't Make Peace
https://youtu.be/Yil7_XsLN1M

List of Ongoing Conflicts Around the World as of July 3, 2016
http://www.warsintheworld.com/?page=static1258254223
67 countries at war
715 groups involved

A map of current world conflict with "impact on U.S Interests" from USA Council on Foreign Relations
http://www.cfr.org/global/global-conflict-tracker/p32137#!/p32137

AFRICA:
(29 Countries and 209 between militias-guerrillas, terrorist-separatist-anarchic groups involved)
Hot Spots: Central African Republic (often there are armed clashes between muslims and christians), Democrati Republic of Congo (war against rebel groups), Egypt (war against islamic militants of Islamic State branch), Libya (civil war), Mali (clashes between army and rebel groups), Mozambique (clashes with RENAMO rebels) Nigeria (war against islamist militants), Somalia (war against al-Shabaab islamist militants), Sudan (war against rebel groups in Darfur), South Sudan (clashes with rebel groups)

ASIA:
(16 Countries and 165 between militias-guerrillas, terrorist-separatist-anarchic groups involved)
Hot Spots: Afghanistan (war against islamist militants), Burma-Myanmar (war against rebel groups), Pakistan (war against islamist militants), Philippines (war against islamist militants), Thailand (coup d'etat by army May 2014)

EUROPE:
(10 Countries and 80 between militias-guerrillas, separatist groups and anarchic groups involved)
Hot Spots: Chechnya (war against islamist militants), Dagestan (war against islamist militants), Ukraine (Secession of self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic and self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic), Nagorno-Karabakh (clashes between Azerbaijan army against Armenian army and Nagorno-Karabakh army)

MIDDLE EAST:
(7 Countries and 236 between militias-guerrillas, terrorist-separatist-anarchic groups involved)
Hot Spots: Iraq (war against Islamic State islamist militants), Israel (war against islamist militants in Gaza Strip), Syria (civil war), Yemen (war against and between islamist militants)

AMERICAS:
(5 Countries and 25 between drug cartels, terrorist-separatist-anarchic groups involved)
Hot Spots: Colombia (war against rebel groups), Mexico (war against narcotraffic groups)

Comments >> (4 comments)
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News and Views

 20 - 26 Nov 2017

by Bjinse - Nov 20, 32 comments

Your take on this week's news

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Your take on this week's news

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That thread which has drawn from every poet worthy of being read some attempt at description, or some lines of feeling

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by Bjinse - Nov 5, 38 comments

A new thread is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire

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