Come Saturday Morning: In Which I Call Out The Solar Skeptics

If you’ve been following the Solar Roadways story for any length of time, you’ve probably encountered skeptics of various kinds, all saying variations of the same skeptical themes: It won’t collect much energy, it’s too pricey, road surfaces can never be good solar collectors, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

And all the while, not one but two Dutch concerns have been proving them wrong.

Here’s the first one, a bike-path project called “SolaRoad“:

SolaRoad is a pioneering innovation in the field of energy harvesting. It is a unique concept, which converts sunlight on the road surface into electricity: the road network works as an inexhaustible source of green power. SolaRoad is sustainable and can be used in practice in many different ways.

SolaRoad was officially opened on November 12th 2014.

But, you say, that’s just a measly bike path. Nobody’s yet planning on doing anything that involves having cars driving on solar panels (aside from those unrealistic freaks at Solar Roadways, of course).

Au contraire, mon frere! Check this out from Studio Roosegaarde, creators of the Van Gogh-Roosegaarde Bicycle Path:

Smart Highways are interactive and sustainable roads of tomorrow by designer Daan Roosegaarde and Heijmans Infrastructure. The goal is to make smart roads by using light, energy and road signs that interact with the traffic situation.

Glowing Lines are lines that charge at day-time, and glow at night for eight hours. The first road has been realised, and will be further launched international.

The recent Van Gogh-Roosegaarde bicycle path is made of thousands twinkling stones inspired by ‘Starry Night’. The path combines innovation with cultural heritage in the city of Nuenen NL, the place where Van Gogh lived in 1883.

New designs include Dynamic Paint, Interactive Light, Induction Priority Lane and Road Printer.

The collaboration between Roosegaarde and Heijmans is a true example of innovative industries. The design and interactivity from Studio Roosegaarde and the craftsmanship of Heijmans are fused into one common goal: innovation of the Dutch landscape.

Heh heh heh. (more…)

Come Saturday Morning: #pointergate, or KSTP Strikes Again!

KSTP-TV is the local ABC affiliate here in the Twin Cities, and the flagship station of Hubbard Broadcasting, as right-wing a crew as can be imagined outside of Sinclair and FOX. The Hubbard family has been entwined with the state’s Republican power brokers for decades, and KSTP has long been involved with right-wing talk radio.

Knowing all of that, it’s not surprising that KSTP would, through the hack Jay Kolls, try to further the agenda of some Minneapolis cops who don’t like Minneapolis’ newly-elected Democratic mayor, Betsy Hodges, with the silliest attempt at race-based dog-whistling demonization I’ve seen in quite some time:

Getting their picture taken above is the mayor of Minneapolis, Betsy Hodges, with Navell Gordon, a young volunteer from the respected Twin Cities charity, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change.

To better understand the context, please take just one minute to watch the beginning of the video below. Pay particular attention at 0:32-0:39 as Navell and Mayor Hodges share a clumsy “how do we pose in this photo together” moment.

Imagine, then, the shock, utter disappointment, and disgust when the local ABC news affiliate, KSTP ran a news story on Thursday night claiming that Mayor Hodges dangerously flashed a gang sign with a known criminal and has put officers in harms way.

KSTP’s “evidence”? The unsupported ravings of a few former and current cops who don’t like the current mayor and who are probably not too crazy about the current Chief of Police, Janee Harteau — who by the way was at the NOC event too.

Why would these current and former cops wish to undermine the mayor, an excellent activist group, or their own chief? Why would they collaborate with KSTP on a smearjob so badly botched that it’s rapidly made KSTP the laughingstock of the local media, the national media, and of the Twitterverse?

Would it be because of the promises of reform made by both the mayor and the chief? Would it be because of the concrete actions already taken towards reform, such as having cops wear bodycams — to clean up a PD that is notorious for coddling “thumpers”, “Metro Gang Strike Force” shakedown artists, and other bad apples?

This isn’t the first time KSTP’s stepped on a rake journalistically. In 2011 it lost the biggest defamation case in Minnesota state history when it was forced to pay out $1 million to its victim, Susan Anderson. And in 1995, the station ended two years of litigation with Expertech, a small appliance repair firm in Richfield, Minnesota, a Minneapolis suburb, with a large cash settlement after it ran a story smearing the repair shop.

Will Pointergate (or rather, #pointergate) finally bring KSTP to heel? Probably not — if having to shell out a cool million to Susan Anderson didn’t make KSTP straighten up and fly right, nothing can — but it will ensure that the call letters “KSTP” live in infamy for some time to come. (Especially on Twitter.)

Late Night: The Curious Incident of the Newspaper in the Night-time

Sherlock Holmes questions the StarTribune’s editorial board.
Inspector Gregory: “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
Sherlock Holmes: “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
Inspector Gregory: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
Sherlock Holmes: “That was the curious incident.”

from “Silver Blaze”, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Because it never gets old.

On Monday, October 27, the Minneapolis StarTribune’s editorial page writers endorsed a man for Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District whose every officially-announced stance is one that their paper has, up to now, opposed:

While praising Mills for his “intelligence and pragmatic instincts,” his “realism,” and his energy and “zest,” the paper also noted that it “would welcome more specifics” when it came to entitlement reform and — most importantly — that it differed with Mills “on a number of issues.”

How many is “a number”? Hard to say, exactly, but a look at recent Star Tribune editorials and Mills’ policy positions and statements shows that the candidate and the paper seem to disagree on quite a bit, including prominent issues such as gun control (which the Strib duly noted), taxes, Obamacare, the environment and foreign affairs.

How to explain this? Here’s a hint — the paper’s new owner, Glen Taylor, a longtime Republican and former member of the state legislature, said back in April, around the time he bought the paper, that it would become less liberal under his watch. (Not that the paper was really all that liberal to begin with.) Of course, he tried to say that it wouldn’t be because of his actively pushing the paper rightward, but one has to wonder why the Strib, which used to at least endorse Republicans whose public stances matched the paper’s stances, suddenly wrote this incoherent endorsement of a man with whom they categorically disagree on pretty much every major issue.

Then again, it could be the vast amounts of ad money spent on the Strib by Mills’ family’s business. You know, Mills’ Fleet Farm?

“Interstate Crosscheck” – Defective by Design?

Courtesy Al Jazeera America
The Republican Party’s latest defense of Jim Crow can be seen in its bogus “Interstate Crosscheck” pseudo-software:

Election officials in 27 states, most of them Republicans, have launched a program that threatens a massive purge of voters from the rolls. Millions, especially black, Hispanic and Asian-American voters, are at risk. Already, tens of thousands have been removed in at least one battleground state, and the numbers are expected to climb, according to a six-month-long, nationwide investigation by Al Jazeera America.

At the heart of this voter-roll scrub is the Interstate Crosscheck program, which has generated a master list of nearly 7 million names. Officials say that these names represent legions of fraudsters who are not only registered but have actually voted in two or more states in the same election — a felony punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison.

But there’s one small problem: The Crosscheck program is far, far more likely to find millions of false matches than it is to actually combat voter fraud. Of course, to Republicans interested in suppressing Democratic votes and voters by any means necessary, that’s a good thing. To people who actually care about democracy, it’s a horrific thing.

Here’s the Crosscheck sales pitch made by Kris Kobach, whose name you might remember from his dirty dealings in the state of Kansas:

There are 6,951,484 names on the target list of the 28 states in the Crosscheck group; each of them represents a suspected double voter whose registration has now become subject to challenge and removal. According to a 2013 presentation by Kobach to the National Association of State Election Directors, the program is a highly sophisticated voter-fraud-detection system. The sample matches he showed his audience included the following criteria: first, last and middle name or initial; date of birth; suffixes; and Social Security number, or at least its last four digits.

That was the sales pitch. But the actual lists show that not only are middle names commonly mismatched and suffix discrepancies ignored, even birthdates don’t seem to have been taken into account. Moreover, Crosscheck deliberately ignores Social Security mismatches, in the few instances when the numbers are even collected. The Crosscheck instructions for county election officers state, “Social Security numbers are included for verification; the numbers might or might not match.”

Oh, and the Crosscheck lists have far more nonwhites on them in terms of percentage of the population than they have white people. See the graph at the top of this post.

Want to see if you’re on the Crosscheck list? AJA has a handy tool for you to find out.

“Interstate Crosscheck” – Defective by Design?

Courtesy Al Jazeera America
The Republican Party’s latest defense of Jim Crow can be seen in its bogus “Interstate Crosscheck” pseudo-software:

Election officials in 27 states, most of them Republicans, have launched a program that threatens a massive purge of voters from the rolls. Millions, especially black, Hispanic and Asian-American voters, are at risk. Already, tens of thousands have been removed in at least one battleground state, and the numbers are expected to climb, according to a six-month-long, nationwide investigation by Al Jazeera America.

At the heart of this voter-roll scrub is the Interstate Crosscheck program, which has generated a master list of nearly 7 million names. Officials say that these names represent legions of fraudsters who are not only registered but have actually voted in two or more states in the same election — a felony punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison.

But there’s one small problem: The Crosscheck program is far, far more likely to find millions of false matches than it is to actually combat voter fraud. Of course, to Republicans interested in suppressing Democratic votes and voters by any means necessary, that’s a good thing. To people who actually care about democracy, it’s a horrific thing.

Here’s the Crosscheck sales pitch made by Kris Kobach, whose name you might remember from his dirty dealings in the state of Kansas:

There are 6,951,484 names on the target list of the 28 states in the Crosscheck group; each of them represents a suspected double voter whose registration has now become subject to challenge and removal. According to a 2013 presentation by Kobach to the National Association of State Election Directors, the program is a highly sophisticated voter-fraud-detection system. The sample matches he showed his audience included the following criteria: first, last and middle name or initial; date of birth; suffixes; and Social Security number, or at least its last four digits.

That was the sales pitch. But the actual lists show that not only are middle names commonly mismatched and suffix discrepancies ignored, even birthdates don’t seem to have been taken into account. Moreover, Crosscheck deliberately ignores Social Security mismatches, in the few instances when the numbers are even collected. The Crosscheck instructions for county election officers state, “Social Security numbers are included for verification; the numbers might or might not match.”

Oh, and the Crosscheck lists have far more nonwhites on them in terms of percentage of the population than they have white people. See the graph at the top of this post.

Want to see if you’re on the Crosscheck list? AJA has a handy tool for you to find out.

Come Saturday Morning: Joan Jett’s GOTV Video

Joan Jett has the following messages (among others) for women of all ages:   “100% of Senate Republicans voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act.” “Politicians are making laws that put your body into their hands.” “The most regressive anti-equality laws are being passed at the state level.”

Kudos for her for recognizing that the state level is where the battles are often the most intense.

 

Late Night: Why Not Let Them Go?

Hey, let those people go!

I’ve found that, over the past decade and a half, the commentator who’s made the most sense (and got the most things right) about wars and warriors past and present has been a bloke who goes by the nom de guerre-plume of “Gary Brecher”, aka The War Nerd.

He’s not perfect — he and a bunch of other folks got fooled by a YouTube video that was sold as Kurds blowing up an ISIS tank that was instead the Syrian Army blowing up a captured tank — but he’s a lot better than pretty much any commentator working in America.

Here’s what he has to say about the “home-grown jihadis” who want to go to the Middle East, and who go berzerk when they can’t, as happened in Canada recently:  Just let ‘em go.

Here’s why:

So, two soldiers are now dead, Canada’s uncommonly flustered, and all because the RCMP didn’t do the obvious, and let these guys go where they wanted to go. If the RCMP had taken DNA samples, front and side photos, and seen them off at the airport with a “Mazel tov!”, Canada would be a lot better off. It took both Rouleau and Zehaf-Babeau weeks, between being refused a passport and their final act, to work up the courage to kill at home. Most wannabe jihadis feel a certain grudging sentimentality for the country where they grew up, which makes them more willing to kill for God far, far away from home than to kill people who look like the kids they grew up with.

These two only killed at home when the Syrian option was shut down for them.

So what was the downside of letting them go? The most likely outcome was that both would have been cannon fodder, dead in their first month. The Middle East, the non-tourist version, is a big shock to most Westerners, and amateur soldiers who don’t speak Arabic and are used to flush toilets will spend their first months just dealing with the gastro-intestinal adjustments. During that time, these pampered amateurs make big fat targets. And that’s all Martin and Michael wanted, “Istishad,” martyrdom. Though I doubt they knew the proper term; like many new jihadis, they were much more excited about the killing and dying than actually learning the religion. They would have found their deaths fast, vaporized in an air strike or hit by shrapnel. The death rates for foreign jihadis in Syria are horrific, and only the practically unlimited pool of replacements keeps foreign-dominated militias in operation.

[…]

And even if they survive, they’re marked for life; the second they try to return to their home countries, they can be pulled out of the line at the airport and detained for as long as necessary, on any charge you care to name. It’s not like charges are hard to find, since Islamic State actually brags, in its house magazine, that it sold hundreds of Yazidi women and girls into slavery.

Even better, from an intelligence standpoint:  Their motives are often suspected by the leaders of the jihadist groups they try to join (look at it from the leaders’ perspective: Why would pampered Westerners, from countries whose lowest-level army grunts live far more softly than even the cash-rich leaders of Saudi-backed jihadi groups, want to trade their cushy lives for this?), so they serve as unwitting cover for the various real spies sent, if not by the US, then by the Egyptians and Turks and Jordanians, the latter of whom had ISIS’ number a long time ago.

Go read the whole piece.  Its logic is cold-blooded and calculating, all right.  But it’s also unassailable.

Please support Firedoglake and keep the flame alive.

Keeping the Flame Alive: The FDL Book Salon

I’ve been hanging around FDL since about two years after its inception, when Jane, ReddHedd, and Emptywheel were holding down the fort with assistance from T-Rex and a bunch of other folks.

There are many reasons to like Firedoglake, but for me the biggest reason is the FDL Book Salon. The Book Salon is, quite simply, the best online forum in existence for the discussion of progressive books and other worthy publications. There are many worthwhile books out that might not have had a chance at finding wider audiences, if not for the Book Salon.

Its quality is such that a large number of first-rate authors have graced its precincts, authors like John Dean and Charles Pierce and Richard Wolff. Furthermore, as the authors and their publishers find out for themselves how much fun it is to take part in the Book Salons and engage with intelligent and knowledgeable readers, they spread the word and bring in more books to be discussed and more authors to discuss them.

I’d very much like to see the Book Salon stick around, wouldn’t you? If you agree, might I suggest making a smallish donation – say, $50, though I’m sure more would be welcomed – at the links below?

Thank you for everything you do.

Please donate today and keep the FDL Book Salon open for discussion.

Keeping the Flame Alive: The FDL Book Salon

I’ve been hanging around FDL since about two years after its inception, when Jane, ReddHedd, and Emptywheel were holding down the fort with assistance from T-Rex and a bunch of other folks.

There are many reasons to like Firedoglake, but for me the biggest reason is the FDL Book Salon. The Book Salon is, quite simply, the best online forum in existence for the discussion of progressive books and other worthy publications. There are many worthwhile books out that might not have had a chance at finding wider audiences, if not for the Book Salon.

Its quality is such that a large number of first-rate authors have graced its precincts, authors like John Dean and Charles Pierce and Richard Wolff. Furthermore, as the authors and their publishers find out for themselves how much fun it is to take part in the Book Salons and engage with intelligent and knowledgeable readers, they spread the word and bring in more books to be discussed and more authors to discuss them.

I’d very much like to see the Book Salon stick around, wouldn’t you? If you agree, might I suggest making a smallish donation – say, $50, though I’m sure more would be welcomed – at the links below?

Thank you for everything you do.

Please donate today and keep the FDL Book Salon open for discussion.