Archive for January 27th, 2009

Pre-Superbowl Vignette Of The Day

Gotta love the reporters and media organizations who don’t take the Superbowl too seriously…

[F]or entertainment, there was an ample male reporter (from Telemundo) wearing a red dress and a feather boa while interviewing the players. There was also one athlete who spent an uncomfortably long time checking him out before saying, “Oh no, is that a guy?” The guy, by the way, was telling players he was the “fairy godmother” and that they needed him to win Sunday’s game.

I generally don’t have much interest in watching the Superbowl in person, but I’m starting to wonder if I can buy a ticket to Media Day…

January 27th, 2009 at 11:00pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Media,Sports,Weirdness

Clean Coal = More Coal

Apparently, making coal “clean” uses so much energy that you end up needing 25% more coal to compensate:

In fact, because carbon capture requires a roughly 25-percent increase in energy from the coal plant, about 25 percent more coal is needed, increasing mountaintop removal and increasing non-carbon air pollution from power plants, he said.

My question is, would that be considered a bug or a feature for the coal-producing states that the clean-coal gospel panders to?  I mean, not only does clean coal make coal magically okay, but it means coal consumers would have to buy 25% more of it.  It’s a win-win!

(Why yes, I am assuming that environmental impacts are not a consideration – why do you ask?)

(h/t kirk)

1 comment January 27th, 2009 at 10:27pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Energy,Environment,Politics,Science

111-Year-Old Lizard Daddy

Tuatara
AP Photo/Karori Sanctuary

I know, technically he’s not actually a lizard, but he’s pretty close…

A captive reptile in New Zealand has unexpectedly become a father at the ripe old age of 111 after receiving treatment for a cancer that made him hostile toward prospective mates.

The centenarian tuatara, named Henry, was thought well past the mating game until he was caught canoodling with a female named Mildred last March — a consummation that resulted in 11 babies being hatched on Monday.

Tuatara are indigenous New Zealand creatures that resemble lizards but descend from a distinct lineage of reptile that walked the earth with the dinosaurs 225 million years ago, zoologists say.

(…)

Henry was at least 70 years old when he arrived at the museum, “a grumpy old man” who attacked other reptiles, including females, until a cancerous tumor was removed from his genitals in 2002, said Hazley.

“I went off the idea he was good for breeding,” Hazley said, but once the tumor was removed, “he was no longer aggressive.”

(…)

A male Tuatara takes 70 years to fully mature but reaches sexual maturity about age 20.

While there’s no scientific data on the life span of the ancient reptiles, “they go beyond 100 well and truly,” Hazley said. “They can be around for 150 to 250 years.”

Huh.  So today I learned that it’s not just tortoises that live forever, and that untreated genital cancer makes you cranky.  Who knew.

January 27th, 2009 at 11:18am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Science

Robert Reich Makes The Case For Trickle-Up And EFCA

Hey, instead of giving massive tax breaks to rich people and corporations, how about improving wages instead?

Why is this recession so deep, and what can be done to reverse it?

Hint: Go back about 50 years, when America’s middle class was expanding and the economy was soaring. Paychecks were big enough to allow us to buy all the goods and services we produced. It was a virtuous circle. Good pay meant more purchases, and more purchases meant more jobs.

At the center of this virtuous circle were unions. In 1955, more than a third of working Americans belonged to one. Unions gave them the bargaining leverage they needed to get the paychecks that kept the economy going. So many Americans were unionized that wage agreements spilled over to nonunionized workplaces as well. Employers knew they had to match union wages to compete for workers and to recruit the best ones.

Fast forward to a new century. Now, fewer than 8% of private-sector workers are unionized….

(…)

It’s no wonder middle-class incomes were dropping even before the recession. As our economy grew between 2001 and the start of 2007, most Americans didn’t share in the prosperity. By the time the recession began last year, according to an Economic Policy Institute study, the median income of households headed by those under age 65 was below what it was in 2000.

(…)

The way to get the economy back on track is to boost the purchasing power of the middle class. One major way to do this is to expand the percentage of working Americans in unions.

Tax rebates won’t work because they don’t permanently raise wages. Most families used the rebate last year to pay off debt — not a bad thing, but it doesn’t keep the virtuous circle running.

Bank bailouts won’t work either. Businesses won’t borrow to expand without consumers to buy their goods and services. And Americans themselves can’t borrow when they’re losing their jobs and their incomes are dropping.

Tax cuts for working families, as President Obama intends, can do more to help because they extend over time. But only higher wages and benefits for the middle class will have a lasting effect.

Unions matter in this equation. According to the Department of Labor, workers in unions earn 30% higher wages — taking home $863 a week, compared with $663 for the typical nonunion worker — and are 59% more likely to have employer-provided health insurance than their nonunion counterparts.

(…)

Most of the time, employees who want to form a union are threatened and intimidated by their employers. And all too often, if they don’t heed the warnings, they’re fired, even though that’s illegal…. We tried to penalize employers that broke the law, but the fines are minuscule. Too many employers consider them a cost of doing business.

This isn’t right. The most important feature of the Employee Free Choice Act, which will be considered by the just-seated 111th Congress, toughens penalties against companies that violate their workers’ rights. The sooner it’s enacted, the better — for U.S. workers and for the U.S. economy.

The American middle class isn’t looking for a bailout or a handout. Most people just want a chance to share in the success of the companies they help to prosper. Making it easier for all Americans to form unions would give the middle class the bargaining power it needs for better wages and benefits. And a strong and prosperous middle class is necessary if our economy is to succeed.

Trickle-down has been discredited every single time it’s been tried, while trickle-up actually worked.  And yet, the former is still considered some kind of Serious Economic Theory, and the latter is completely ignored, or treated as taboo, “class warfare.”

I would like to see the Obama administration and the overwhelmingly Democratic Congress start focusing on Stuff That Works rather than Stuff That Rich And Powerful Elites like, but I won’t believe it until I actually see it.

3 comments January 27th, 2009 at 07:17am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Economy,Labor


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