Friday, February 29, 2008

Water and Air

Here's a simple but fascinating picture: all the water in world (left), and all the air in the world (right):



Via Dark Roasted Blend.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization

If you like data -- and you should -- you can scarcely do better than Lester Brown's Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization. All the supporting data is here. You can make graphs to your heart's delight.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The End of the CD

Damn. I have lived though the end of the LP, the assent of eight-track tapes, then cassette tapes (I must have had a thousand of them, tossed into my backseat), and then CDs, and now....

Nearly half of all teenagers bought no compact discs in 2007, accelerating the music's industry's painful transition from CDs to digital downloads, according to a report released today.
Sure, we should welcome change.... but every 1/3rd of a generation?

Columbia River Bridge

Oregon and Washington want desperately to build a new bridge across the Columbia River, near Vancouver, to ease congestion. (Cost ~ $2.4B.) But, being Oregon and Washington, they want to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, too. In fact, Governor Kulongoski (D-OR) wants to decrease them by 75% by 2050.

So word has come down to factor emissions into the bridge planning process.

This completely misses the forest for the trees.

The difference between building a bridge and not building a bridge is only about 5,000 cars a day--fewer if the bridge is built. (I'm not exactly sure how about this conclusion--why are there fewer cars if the new bridge is supposed to ease congestion--but let's accept it for now.) There will be about 175,000 daily trips across the bridge, on average, by 2030. So the difference is about 3%.

Considering that this bridge and its associated commute will represent only a very small fraction of the total greenhouse gas emissions of Oregon and Washington, and that transportation only represents about 30% of all GHG emissions, the difference between building a bridge and not building a bridge is a small fraction of one percent. It's not worth worrying about.

If we are truly going to meet Kulongoski's goal, we need vast and comprehensive changes in our society. Whether we built this bridge or not will make little difference, especially if it primarily carries cars instead of bicycles, buses, scooters and light rail.

People have still not grasped the enormity of what's required to avoid significant global warming of even a couple of degrees. We must, almost literally, reinvent civilization. That's a lot more than just bridges.

Life Expectancy

From the upcoming documentary Unnatural Causes:
The U.S. ranks 29th in the world for life expectancy, among the worst in the industrialized world.

CFLs

Boston Globe:
According to the US Department of Energy, if every household replaced just one light bulb with a compact fluorescent, the United States would save more than $600 million each year in energy costs and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equal to 800,000 cars.
But you have to dispose of them properly.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Quote

Any reasonable person in science is racked with doubt and insecurity at all times. The important thing is not to share those doubts but to share the vision. When others doubt, you have to be their rock of stability.

-- Eric Lander, MIT biologist

Climate Debate Daily

I'm not very impressed by the new Climate Debate Daily site that purports to offer both consensus and dissenting views on global warming. The former consists of reports on peer-reviewed papers in the scientific literature, and the latter seems to consist of items like an experiment by some kid and his dad (who admits he has the attention span of an 8-year old).

(The dad, that is. Not the kid.)

I've been thinking that there ought to be a 24-hour cable channel called "Climate Daily" or something. It would be staffed by climatologists who would work in one- or two-hour shifts, and take phone calls from anywhere in the country. Let all the skeptics and yahoos call in with their disproved ideas and wacked-out theories, and the scientists could patiently give them an explanation of why they are wrong. The show would never end, of course, as the skeptics rehashed the same old points over and over again, but it might demonstrate a little about the scientific method and add something to the debate. And the climatologists could make some extra walking-around money.

Schaller

"Obviously humans are evolution's greatest mistake."

-- George Schaller, conservationalist
Discover magazine, Feb 2008

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Bikes vs. Cars

Quote

"What is happiness? The feeling that power is growing, that resistance is overcome."

-- Nietzsche, The AntiChrist

Friday, February 22, 2008

McCain's Lobbyists

Let's face the truth head-on: the corruption of money and corporate influence in the American political system is so deeply entrenched, so tightly wound around the roots of our "democracy," that neither John McCain or Barack Obaba can begin to slay it. McCain is up to his eyeballs in lobbyists and any pretensions otherwise just make him and us both look foolish. Does he really think that all of these lobbyists on his campaign staff are just there on a lark, absolutely pure intentions, no concern at all about the clients they have represented and will soon represent again. If so he is the stupidiest person on Earth -- except perhaps for the American public, who just might believe this kind of shit.

Nor is Obama much better. His campaign is swimming in corporate donations. He says pretty words about change, but there is no substance to them and of course lobbyists and money are going to rule Congress and the political parties over the next 4 years. Does he think we're moving to Mars and starting over?

Unfortunately most Americans are too stupid to notice or too selfish to care, and our corrupt system that favors corporations and those with money will continue to get worse and worse. There is absolutely no doubt of this, no matter what either of the Presidential candidates say.


Speech vs. Typing

I don't see this happening--perhaps in 15 years, but not in 5:
In five years, Microsoft expects more Internet searches to be done through speech than through typing on a keyboard, Gates told about 1,200 students and faculty members Thursday at Carnegie Mellon University.
If nothing else, it's going to take a good while for anyone over the age of 17 to get comfortable talking out loud to a computer. My grandmother could barely leave a voice mail message. I still feel weird giving an verbal account number to a bank computer somewhere, and almost always choose to enter the digits by hand.

Kunstler

James Kunstler isn't much of a prognosticator about oil, the Dow, or the economy (thought he likes to try), but he is a pretty good speaker on the urban and (especially) suburban ugliness of much of America. I heard him give this same talk at PopTech! a few years ago--he's very witty, insightful, and funny. Well worth watching.

BTW, least anyone thinks Portland Oregon is paradise, his descriptions of suburbia's failures exactly define Portland entire 82nd Avenue:



A few years ago they tried to pretend it was something else by renaming it "82nd Avenue of the Roses," but I don't think it's fooled anyone.



Thursday, February 21, 2008

George Taylor Retiring

A prominent global warming skeptic, George Taylor, who was stripped of his title of Oregon State Climatologist last year by the governor, has announced he will retire on May 1. He had a degree in meteorology, not climatology, but was a prominent spokesman here in the Pacific Northwest against anthropogenic global warming.

Taylor characterizes his view as:
I don't deny that human activities affect climate change. But I believe up to now, natural variations have played a more important role than human activities.
You can be sure the governor, Ted Kulongowski, will try to resurrect the office and that he will name someone on the IPCC side of global warming.

Interesting Things

Some interesting things I've come across recently:
  • Glucosamine is no better than a placebo in reducing hip pain. In my experience, it doesn't work for ankle joint pain either.
  • Is Portland, Oregon overrated? I've never seen a city that likes to talk about itself as much as Portland.
  • Who says there's no censorship in the United States?
  • In WWII, Japanese soldiers who waterboarded American prisoners were put to death by the US military for committing torture. Talk about moral relativism.
  • Yet another end-of-the-world movie coming up: The Happening. Are all these a response to the sentiment of our times, or helping to create it?
  • Americans are losing their employer-sponsored health insurance in both good economic times and bad. Bush couldn't care less.
  • Germany approves a "GM Free" label for food.
  • Ben Stein seems fine with asking questions, not so fine with taking them.
  • The Heartland Institute is offering to pay the way of legislators who want to attend their upcoming "International Climate Change Convention." I asked the Heartland Institute who was sponsoring this conference, but James Taylor of the HI wouldn't tell me, except to say that no corporations were providing funding, it was all coming from individuals and foundations.
  • The number of children living in poverty in American today (17.4% in 2006) is greater than what it was in 1969. This story (as all stories about the poor) is way undercovered.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Cindy McCain's pandering

Cindy McCain:
"I just want to make the statement that I am, and always will be, proud of my country."
Sure, she's just trying to show up Michelle Obama and pander to the crowd, but "always will be proud?" There's nothing the US might do in the future of which she won't be proud? Kill innocent children in new wars? Slide into fascism? Have a Nazi party voted into power?

She could at least be a little intelligent about her pandering. But probably the American people aren't that picky about it.

Earth Hour

I'm sorry, but I really don't have much respect for gimmicks like the upcoming Earth Hour, where we're all supposed to turn off our lights at 8 pm on March 29th. Yes, I know they mean well, and it won't do any harm. It won't do any good, either -- and that's the problem, because the people who participate somehow think it will.

Maybe it raises awareness, I don't know. But we didn't all become a big happy family after Hands Across America. If you aren't getting the message on global warming by now, you have ideological reasons for doing so.

The energy/GHG savings will, of course, be essentially nil. If every person on the planet participated, it'd be about 0.01%. Seeing as they only have about 40K people signed up so far, the savings will be on the order of 0.0000001%.

It emphasizes the wrong thing -- that the solution to climate change requires we regress to some pre-technology state. We don't need no light, we need better lights. We don't need to use less energy--energy makes us affluent, healthy, and happy--we need to use it more efficiency and from cleaner sources. Focus on that.

I'd rather everyone kept the lights on and spent an hour reading a good primer on global warming and its mitigation. Or wrote a letter to their Congressman advocating against new coal-fired power plants.

UK Daily Express

Daily Express (U.K.), December 31, 2007:
BRITAIN faces one of its bitterest winters for 100 years....
Daily Express (U.K.), February 18, 2008:
The UK has reported one of its warmest winters on record.
They call themselves "The World's Greatest Newspaper."

Monday, February 18, 2008

Lotus Cafe

2nd Ave. and Salmon St., Portland, Oregon


Quote


"When you have shot and killed a man you have in some measure clarified your attitude toward him. You have given a definite answer to a definite problem. For better or worse you have acted decisively.

"In a way, the next move is up to him."

-- R. A. Lafferty



Sunday, February 17, 2008

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Zetabytes

By 2015, the Internet is expected to carry 1 zetabyte -- that's 10^21 bytes. 50 times larger than 2006.

Do you think Comcast can keep up?

Anthropic Principle

I like how Robert Park puts the Anthropic Principle here, which I can never quite get my head around (perhaps because it says little more than this):
If things were different, things wouldn't be the way they are."

Portland's problems

In a poll of residents of Portland (Oregon), no more than 8% of them agreed on any one problem. And that was "public school funding," over which the city has little control....

WaterWired

Via John Fleck I came across this interesting blog, WaterWired.

I've though for awhile that fresh water availability is going to be a sooner (though not bigger, ultimately) problem than global warmer. The US west is...screwed, I think. Even here in the Pacific Northwest (snow pack down 40% since 1950). Did you see these news items from a few weeks ago?
  • Lake Mead has a 50% chance of being dry within 13 years....
  • ...and that the western snowpack decline is caused by human-induced global warming....
  • ...and, shit, now I can't the press release, but it basically said the 19th century was an anomaly for the US southwest -- that historically almost every previous century had much less rain, and the current drought appears to be taking us back to the historical average. We built up the southwest at a very anomalous time, thinking that water would be plentiful forever.... And guess what?
UPDATE: Here's the article mentioned in the last bullet item above.

Interesting Things

Things I found interesting this morning:
  • Identical twins do not have identical genomes, but can differ by the number of copies of individual DNA segments (or by missing segments). Here's the paper by Dumanski et al.
  • The list of the top 15 Grand Engineering Challenges for the 21st century.
  • Science News: "sleep is a necessity for every animal that's ever been studied." Omnivores sleep more than herbivores. Some animals sleep in the ocean with half their brain active and one eye open. Some animals sleep while flying. Personally, I love sleep.
  • Coldplay: "Fix You."
  • General Motor's Vice Chairman Bob Lutz calls global warming "A total crock of shit." I wonder if Bob's scientific skills are as good as his business skills--GM lost $38B last year.

Obama on guns

ABC News:

After another campus shooting, this time in his home state of Illinois, Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama offered thoughts and prayers for the victims and their families. But no new ideas for gun control.
Change?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Comment

Good comment over at Kevin Drum's blog:

It's the little unexpected consequences of global warming that charm me, like the fungus that is thriving in the new warmth and killing frogs all over the world.

I wonder how warm it will have to get to cause a decrease in the number of comb-overs in the Senate.

Posted by: anandine

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Northern Illinois University


How many times have we seen this picture now? At Columbine. At Virginia Tech. At Jonesboro. At this point it's almost porn, printed just to titillate us. How many times do we have to see it yet again?

Biofuels

I love this story about biofuels, which came out in the last week:
Converting corn to ethanol in Iowa not only leads to clearing more of the Amazonian rainforest, researchers report, but also would do little to slow global warming.

It may often make it worse. Growing plants store carbon in their roots, shoots and leaves, which will end up as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere when cut down. And diverting food crops into fuel production also leads to ever more land clearing and has the unintended consequence of driving up food prices.
All these politicians thought they had the answer and all these farmers thought they were going to get rich. Here in Oregon, Gov. Kulongoski strongly encouraged the use of biofuels, with little analysis except for that of the bandwagon. I have been reading press releases and studies for at least three years now that showed biofuels required more energy to produce than they were good for. So this result doesn't exactly come out of the blue. Now it turns out that the situation is complex (who would have ever thought that?) and you need to think deeply and carefully. How often does our government every do that anymore?

I hope this is a lesson.

FutureGen

I think the NY Times hit the nail exactly on the head here:

The reason is that until quite recently the Bush administration never really cared about climate change. And it never seemed to care about FutureGen except as an excuse not to do anything truly meaningful about climate change....
The same goes for the hydrogen car -- remember that? They gave the auto insurance something like $1B. Now, it's barely a memory.

Actually, I think the GW Bush presidency has been very successful...in the way it was intended. I can't really prove any of this, but I think Bush was put into office by corporations and the superrich and superpowerful and he has done their bidding, almost all of it, being a good little establishment boy.... He gave them hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts, he gave them even more corporate subsidies and immunities, he gave them the vast wealth to be found in a war, and he gave them the huge Iraq oil fields.

Bush/Cheney clearly do not give one iota for the common person in this country. Why do we even pretend? Not for their health insurance, or their financial well-being (except to the extent it allows him to remain in office to serve the rich). Has Bush ever once visited a ghetto, a run-down area of some city, expressed any concern whatsoever for the people who live there, any concern for the 1/6th of this fucking country who live without health insurance, ever seemed concern about anything but accumulating more governmental power?

I try not to be a cynic, but it is becoming harder every day.

Another School Shooting

Man, Jesus, what is wrong with our society? I really mean this seriously -- because I don't have a clue and this happens over and over and over and over again and ... why?

The shooting was the fourth at a U.S. school within a week.

On Feb. 8, a woman shot two fellow students to death before committing suicide at Louisiana Technical College in Baton Rouge. In Memphis, Tenn., a 17-year-old is accused of shooting and critically wounding a fellow student Monday during a high school gym class, and the 15-year-old victim of a shooting at an Oxnard, Calif., junior high school has been declared brain dead.

We don't even seem to care anymore....


U.S. Plans to Shoot Down Broken Spy Satellite

This seems like a highly unusual step.... I wonder if their calculations, as best they can do them, show the satellite, or big pieces of it, coming down someplace serious.

They say it's because of unused hydrazine, which is indeed nasty stuff. But why wouldn't that have been a concern in past satellite failures?


Lunar Eclipse

There's a total lunar eclipse on Feb 21st, right across most of Asia and Africa. Unfortunately, here on the west coast it'd be only partial. Like the clouds won't be in the way anyway here in Portland. (Our average cloud cover for the three months has been 82%.)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

torture

Maybe you grew up reading the same books I did: One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, 1984, The Gulag Archipelago, Animal Farm, Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a Number... it all seemed very distant, so far away, so... unlikely.

But yet, now we're here -- now my government and your government carries out exactly these policies. And only God knows now what else, what fetid immortalities men believe they are justified in committing in the name of the American state, in some deep, dank cell, far underground, where they know to be ashamed of what they are doing but do it anyway.

And a man -- a man himself tortured for over 5 years, raised and sent to secure his country's empire, a man who apparently learned absolutely nothing in all those desperate, wasted, ugly, caged hours, days, months, and years -- thinks the way to attain progress is to convince us that torture is somehow OK, that this is what we must aspire to, this is what we must become. And this fucker wants to lead us.

We are further down the path than any of us will acknowledge. Can't any of you people see that?

When this is over we need some Truth and Reckoning. Up front. On all the channels. Haul them all out, the very top people and the sniveling go-alongs and mid-level ass-lickers, and the stocky gloved men who have been salivating for this kind of chance their whole lives. Smoke them all out, down to the very depths, until they come up gasping for air, looking around, pretending to be bewildered. Then clamp some justice around their puny little throats and watch closely for that one, exact moment when they suddenly wonder, deep down, if they will get anything like what they have given.

Watch for it.


"There is no way to peace. Peace is the way."

-- AJ Muste




Planktos Backs Down

Although I think man is in no way going to be able to reduce his greenhouse emissions enough to avoid serious global warming (far too many trendlines are tilting far too heavily against that result) and that geoengineering is perhaps the only way to save the Earth, I am glad to hear that Planktos is backing down from their plan to trigger blooms of phytoplankton in the Pacific. They just had not done enough research to know what would happen with their experiment, and had neither the necessary scientific nor the political consensus to proceed.

Politicians need to come to come to grips with this kind of international situation, and fast. Unfortunately, that's...well, unlikely. I mean, here in the US we are barely even catching up with the Internet, law-wise, and fancier technologies are even further. Regulate nanotechnology? Congress barely even knows what it is. International diplomats are content to bask in the glow of the Bali "breakthrough" (as I saw it put in a UN email the other day), while temperatures and GHG levels continue to rise at record rates.

Oreskes Presentation

Here's a really great presentation by Naomi Oreskes (USCD) on "The American Denial of Global Warming." It's an hour long, but well worth your time -- she includes a good deal of information I've never see before. Watch it when you get a chance.

Obama

I haven't blogged much about the Presidential campaign. I just can't find myself getting excited about it. I think I have passed a threshold where I no longer believe anything is going change the political corruption, corporate influence, and militarism that now defines the United States. I agree strongly with Megan McArdle:
Obama killed in Virginia, carrying an overwhelming majority of the black vote, but also splitting the white vote right down the middle. I'm watching his speech now, and it's inspiring. But it's also saddening, because deep down, I don't believe that Obama is going to change Washington, eliminate lobbying, etc. I wish he wouldn't tell me things that I can't possibly believe--and moreover that I can't really understand anyone believing. He might be the best president; he might even make Washington work a little better, though I kind of doubt it. But he isn't going to transform American politics in the utopian way his speech implies. No one who has dried out behind the ears could reasonably believe that he has this power. So why is he saying he does?
Eliminate lobbying? Come on.

Sure, people want to hope...but you have to do it with open eyes.

Interesting Things

Some things I have recently found interesting:
  • Our Sun flips its magnetic field every 11 years. Now astronomers have found the first other star that has done so at least once: tau Bootis.
  • (Are star names cool or what?)
  • January was a relatively cool month: only 0.31°C above the long-term average (land-temperatures only). Skeptics are already making a big deal of it, is my impression.... Of course, just a year ago Jan-07 was the warmest month in recorded history, which they did not make a big deal of.
  • It turns out that there is another NASA temperature series, land + sea-surface temperature, available here. (All these years I have been referring to the land series only.) In it, Jan-08 was only 0.12°C above the long-term average, the coolest month since May-95. So which to use? Well, both I guess -- I mean, each for which it specifies. The latter is more global. On the other hand, humans live on land and are most interested in that temperature.
  • Now I can't find where I read this, but I read recently that China will emit more pollution in the next 20 years than all of industrialized civilization since the Industrial Revolution. All of it blowing right towards Oregon.
  • Good song: "Audience in the Room" by Dirty on Purpose -- top song on this page. Anyone know what instrument makes that screeching sound around 2:50 and then again at 3:03? I have heard the same sound in some Arcade Fire songs.... I love it.
  • A new climate resource with potential: Climate Debate Daily.... except the very nature of the site presents the debate as 50-50....
  • Tobacco could kill up to one billion people by the year 2100. Why is this product legal? Oh yeah, free choice. Plus, governments make a lot of money on it: $200B/yr. But I'm sure that's not a factor.
  • Roger Clemens is looking more guilty, and more of an ass, every day. The tactics of his defense team are despicable. So are the actions of House committee members, who have let Clemens visit them on a more-than-friendly basis before today's hearing.
  • This kind of thing does not help the cause: "Sen. Kerry Blames Tornadoes on Global Warming." It's unscientific, and maybe not even right in a statistical sense. And doesn't Kerry seem surprisingly flaccid anymore? And I voted for him.
  • I came across a fascinating new term in the book Falling Man by Don Delillo: "organic shrapnel." It's the tiny bits of bone and tissue from a suicide bomber that shoot out at high-speeds and hit people. Months later they can develop bumps under their skin from the foreign tissue still embedded there....
  • I loved this recent letter in the Oregonian:
    I was slightly amused by Marylin Shannon's concerns with the "homosexual agenda." I wonder if she is equally concerned with the "Latino agenda," the "black agenda," the "male agenda," the "female agenda" or the "short persons agenda"? I am more concerned with the "marginalize people who aren't born just like me agenda."

    GRANT S. RADDON
    Northeast Portland

Friday, February 08, 2008

MAX poem

I saw this poem on the Portland MAX the other night:

Teaching the Ape to Write Poems
by James Tate
They didn't have much trouble
teaching the ape to write poems:
first they strapped him into the chair,
then tied the pencil around his hand
(the paper had already been nailed down).
Then Dr. Bluespire leaned over his shoulder
and whispered into his ear:
"You look like a god sitting there.
Why don't you try writing something?"

Death Penalty

An unusual expression of logic, rationality, decency, and compassion, from the Nebraska Supreme Court. Notable for its rarity in this country anymore:
“We recognize the temptation to make the prisoner suffer, just as the prisoner made an innocent victim suffer. But it is the hallmark of a civilized society that we punish cruelty without practicing it. Condemend prisoners must not be tortured to death, regardless of their crimes. And the evidence clearly proves that unconsciousness and death are not instantaneous for many condemned prisoners. These prisoners will, when electrocuted, consciously suffer the torture that high voltage electric current inflicts on the human body. The evidence shows that electrocution inflicts intense pain and agonizing suffering. Therefore, electrocution as a method of execution is cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Nebraska Constitution.”

License to Kill

"Man thinks 'cause he rules the earth he can do with it as he please
And if things don't change soon, he will.
Oh, man has invented his doom,
First step was touching the moon.
Now, there's a woman on my block,
She just sit there as the night grows still.
She say who gonna take away his license to kill?"

-- License To Kill (Tom Petty &; The Heartbreakers) by Bob Dylan

Neil Young

Neil Young:

"I think that the time when music could change the world is past," he told reporters. "I think it would be very naive to think that in this day and age."

Young added: "I think the world today is a different place, and that it's time for science and physics and spirituality to make a difference in this world and to try to save the planet."

Wow, I'd really like Neil Young to explain how physics is supposed to save the world. It's far from obvious, especially to the physicists.


Bush Lied

As today's Washington Post editorial makes clear, George W. Bush lied when he said the United States does not torture.

For some reason I simply cannot fathom, Americans do not care. They care when a president lies about a blow job, but not about torturing people. This is ultimately a stain on us all.

Nietzsche wrote:
"He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
You could tell, within about a week of 9/11, that the US would make a mess of it. Nothing else would suffice. It was inevitable. Now look how stupid we look.

US decline

The most viewed story on the LA Times web site in January?
Spears hospitalized for mental health – By Andrew Blankstein
The rest of the most popular stories aren't much better.

-=-=-

We are doomed as a civilization. Completely, fucking, screwed.

Song of the Week

Miss Alex White & The Red Orchestra - Out of Style

Friday, February 01, 2008

Biased Presidential Debate?

David Roberts of Gristmill wonders whether the fact that there were no questions about climate change in last night's Democratic presidential debate, sponsored by the group Americans for Balanced Energy Choices (ABEC), is a sign of bias or control over the journalistic debate process.

Matthew Yglesias repeats the speculation without question or investigation.

Roberts calls the ABEC a "front group" for the coal industry, and looking at their list of supporters, that seems pretty fair.

It doesn't, of course, imply any dishonesty, and a real journalist might have asked.

So I asked the ABEC: "When ABEC sponsors a presidential candidate debate, does it have any control over which questions are and aren't asked of the candidates?"

Here's the reply I received from Brad Jones, West Region Communications Director for ABEC:
Absolutely not.
As a matter of fact, we are hoping the candidates address energy policy, but they have not as of yet.

Our investment in the sponsorship is strictly used to help raise awareness around the important role coal plays in meeting our demand for electricity.

CNN makes the decisions as to what questions are asked.

You may be interested in a blog posting we developed in relation to that
subject.

I've also asked CNN the same question, but haven't received a response or not.

Maybe you believe them, maybe you don't. But at least they're on the record as denying any control over the debate content. And as far as I know, questions about global warming haven't come up at non-ABEC sponsored debates either.

The fact is, climate change isn't exactly very high on the MSM's mind. And in the polls I've seen, it barely registers on the minds of voters. Small wonder CNN didn't ask any questions about it.

Oregon legalizes same-sex partnerships

Domestic partnerships for same-sex couples are now the law in Oregon, as of late this afternoon, making Oregon the tenth state in the U.S. to do so. It's not full marriage rights, but it's a very positive step forward, and after a few or ten years of this, when people see it makes no difference whatsoever to society-at-large (witness Massachusetts), I expect there will be a relatively easy push for same-sex marriage.

Oregonian plagiarism

A news story published this morning by the Oregonian on smoking rates is amazingly similar to the actual press release published earlier today by the Oregon Department of Health Services.

In fact, some of the paragraphs are exactly the same. Many people would consider that plagiarism. Other paragraphs are barely rewritten. That's not much better, journalistically.