Replace petroleum, but don’t burn your food

My friend Taylor says we should switch to methanol as an intermediate step to the hydrogen economy, he points out that our cars could easily be made to run on methanol with little modification and the distribution system would be little different from ethanol, but we wouldn’t be burning our food.

Monkeyfister has a great post, and everyone should read it. He writes:

We told you– You can have food, or you can have ethanol… you cannot have both.

BUT– you can grow Hemp and Cannabis on marginal soil, where nothing but weeds will grow. Not only will it provide industrial and edible oils, it will provide paper, clothing, organic fertilizer, medicinal pain killer/appetite stimulator, and/or much, much more. Hemp and Cannabis will help to not only resurrect exhausted soils, but also provide desperately needed Tax Revenue. Re-Legalization will also destroy the Black Market for Cannabis.

Ethanol is great for Local, Rural economies with surplus bio-mass to spare. It can’t be scaled-up to National use without starving millions of people. It is good that we’re waking up to that. Perhaps that multi-year mandated Law, and the HUGE Government contracts it generated, could be justified by Re-Legalization of Hemp and Cannabis. I see nothing but win, win, win, win there. Gov’t revenue wins, Farmers win, those suffering with cancer or other illnesses win, the soil wins, the economy wins, trees win, the People win… What’s not to love about that?

The man has a point, there. And I think cannabis hemp makes an excellent renewable feedstock for methanol production, as well.

No limits

but there are consequences.

Won’t you blog about this song?

Musharraf on US payroll

Josh Marshall has the story, details from Spencer Ackerman.

Big Oil, incorporated

In this case, the reality is considerably worse than the satire.

Lee Raymond

(h/t Monkeyfister)

AARP is one of the good ones, in America

(h/t Maha)

Just getting started…

Paul Krugman has a blog! (h/t Maha):

In fact, let me start this blog off with a chart that’s central to how I think about the big picture, the underlying story of what’s really going on in this country. The chart shows the share of the richest 10 percent of the American population in total income – an indicator that closely tracks many other measures of economic inequality – over the past 90 years, as estimated by the economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez. I’ve added labels indicating four key periods. These are:

Official conspiracies, untested in court, are unsupported

William K. Wolfrum, a blogger at Shakesville whom I have enjoyed reading for quite some time, has figured out the real profiteer of 9/11 — Alex Jones.

He recommends the totally non-commercial Popular Mechanics as a site to begin debunking these profit-hungry conspiracy theorists. Larry Silverstein would approve:

As a private developer with a 99-year lease on the World Trade Center, Silverstein insured the property. Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, he sought payment for the destruction of the towers as two incidents. The two dozen insurers held that it was one incident. If it were considered to be a single incident, the payout would be $3.55 billion and if it were two incidents, it would be $7.1 billion. Silverstein sued the insurers. In October of 2006, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld a Southern District verdict by a jury that the attacks must be considered a single occurrence. Yet, the same court also upheld a victory in the second phase of trial which was awarded to Mr. Silverstein in which temporary insurance policies in effect when the buildings were destroyed did require that the attack to be treated as two occurrences. Thus, nine insurance companies will pay double the approximately $1 billion in coverage under their policies.[10]

The disownership of America

Jeffrey Feldman:

This is what happened: Once upon a time, a mortgage was a long-term relationship between a bank and a home buyer where the bank made their money through decades of on-time payments. This meant that banks would encourage buyers to borrow only as much as they could afford. By the time Bush was in office, mortgages were no-longer seen as 15- or 30-year relationships between bank and buyer, but had become hot products where the banker made money at the point of sale. In a few years, the mortgage ‘approval’ process turned into an aggressive sales session. The end result was that consumers, walking into a bank hoping they would be approved for enough loan to buy the house they could afford, would encounter a mortgage seller looking to put them in as much debt as they were willing too take. So, if you thought you could only afford a $250,000 loan, the new kind of mortgage broker would try to put you into a loan for $350,000 on an adjustable rate, interest only for two years, throwing in a piggy back loan to get you past the down payment and making the whole thing possible with a little mortgage ‘insurance.’ An agents who sold a buyer too much debt did not care one bit because he or she made the commission at 9am, then dumped the the loan lock-stock-and-buyer into a secondary debt market the same day. The lender gets their check; the home buyer gets a letter saying their loan is now with a different company–somebody they’ve never met with only a P.O. Box somewhere in rural Iowa, and voila! Your mortgage is suddenly little more than credit card debt on steroids.

Suddenly, after two years of thinking that you had it made by paying only the interest payments on a loan you could never afford in the first place, the interest-only term of your loan expired and your $500/month payment suddenly kicked up to $1,500. Things get tight for a few months, there is additional stress in the family as you can no longer afford vacations or dining out. After a few months of that, the floodgates open. With the Fed threatening to raise rates, your lender decides to adjust your mortgage rate up by 3.5%–completely within their right to do. Unfortunately, this means your payments skyrocket up to $2,800 per month. Unprepared for this change and in disbelieve, you cover some short term expenses by maxing out two credit cards. You make the first mortgage payment and the second, but now you are short cash and start to miss one credit card payment, then another. Life at home becomes unbearably stressful and you start talking about a second job.

But while Bush’s terrorism fetish filled the country with fear, his ‘homeownership’ mantra had the opposite effect: duping vast sections of the country into the thinking they owned homes, when in reality all they had done is sign themselves up for mortgages so rigged in the banks favor that they make credit card contracts look like birthday cards. Any honest financial planner would have looked at 99% of these ‘sub-prime’ and adjustable mortgages against the financial realities of the new home buyers and given vastly different advice about loan amounts. Somehow the simple questions never got asked–questions like, ‘Are you sure you can handle this much debt over the next five years?’ or ‘Are you aware that these radical increases in your payments will likely happen in the next three years?’ or ‘Is it clear to you that housing prices at these levels cannot sustain themselves for more than 24 months, after which it is likely that prices will drop?’ Nobody pushing the ‘ownership society’ on America’s first-time home buyers seemed able to ask those questions at the time they needed to be asked–when the new buyer was poised to sign onto a loan that would inevitably set them on a course for total financial ruin in 3-5 years.

Nobody asked the right questions that would have resulted in a slow expanse of responsible home buying boom and lessened the number of wildly foolish mortgages that Americans took. And nobody asked those questions because the President of the United States was busy giving mortgage sellers plenty of cover by convincing the American public that they were becoming ‘homeowners’ rather than ‘debt buyers.’

While we were distracted by war and terror

Let me see if I can explain the current financial meltdown as I think it is happening. My perceptions are based on reading only public information and there is certainly a great deal that I am unaware of. I’m not a current market trader, just an interested observer. I have no professional qualifications and I’m not your financial adviser. Just so we’re clear, and if you think I need to be corrected on anything feel free to do so in the comments.

Mortgage lending corporations (what used to be called S&L’s) have been making bad loans on bad credit for homes by giving some percentage against the entire value of the home, on the expectation that a default would likely occur and they would acquire the real estate at a substantial discount.

Now the loans themselves are not valuable, they are just paper which they don’t expect repayment on.

But the mortgage lenders have taken this paper and labeled it subprime, and sold it.

Somewhere along the line, they are going to expect you to bail them out.

Aug. 15 (Bloomberg) — The risk of owning corporate bonds rose after a Merrill Lynch & Co. analyst said Countrywide Financial Corp., the biggest U.S. mortgage lender, may have to file for bankruptcy.

Credit-default swaps on Countrywide widened after Merrill Lynch analyst Kenneth Bruce raised the possibility that a loss of access to short-term loan markets could force Countrywide into bankruptcy. Contract prices for mortgage lender Residential Capital LLC and for home-loan insurer Radian Group Inc. are also trading as if investors see a high probability of default.

“This market is feeling awfully similar to the fall of 1998″ when Russia defaulted on its debt and banks had to bail out hedge fund Long Term Capital Management, said Bruce, who is based in San Francisco. Bruce downgraded Countrywide’s stock to “sell” from “buy” in a research note today.

Hat-tip Monkeyfister.

So what do you think?

Debtor nation

Hat-tip Monkeyfister.

Pass it on

Would you please take one minute to call your member of Congress and ask him or her to vote in favor of the medical marijuana amendment that the U.S. House of Representatives will be voting on next week?

It’s easy: Just call the Capitol switchboard operator at (202) 224-3121. Give the operator your zip code and ask to be connected to your U.S. House member; you don’t even need to know your congressperson’s name to do this.

When the receptionist for the congressperson — not the Capitol switchboard operator — answers, say something like: “Hi, this is [name]. I live in [city], and I’m calling to ask that my representative vote for Rep. Maurice Hinchey’s [HIN-chee's] medical marijuana amendment to the Justice Department’s spending bill, which I understand will be considered on the House floor next week. The amendment would prohibit the Justice Department from spending taxpayer money to arrest medical marijuana patients in the 12 states where medical marijuana is legal.”

Please call now: (202) 224-3121

“Corporate personhood”

Len Hart:

Why do corporate polluters buy politicians like Bush? It’s cheaper to pony up for crooks than it is to respect the law and the environment. I’ve often wondered how big corporations could make a credible moral distinction between paying off the mob and paying off the GOP, a Bush, a Harding, a DeLay!

In Texas, it is all systemized. It’s the way things are done. Election laws in the “Lone Star” state allow unlimited personal or political action committee contributions to elected officials. It’s a licence to buy yourself a politician. Every fascist fat cat has one or several. As braggin’ rights, it beats a four car garage, a membership at the River Oaks Country Club, or the Enclave. Best of all, it’s a hedge against having to act responsibly. It’s license to act like an asshole.

Corporations get away with it because they claim the right of free speech. It’s called “corporate personhood” i.e., corporations have the same rights as do individuals. Clearly, however, corporations do not have the same responsibilities. I submit to this forum that if corporations have the same rights as people, then, when corporations break the laws, then the President, the Chairman of the board, the entire board of directors and every large stockholder should be rounded up and brought to trial. They are, after all, “persons” in the eyes of the law. Do the crime. Do the time!

Recommended reading:

Well as long as he doesn’t admit to it, never mind the judge and jury

Hat-tip thehim.

Jodi Rell

Your veto is recorded.

When you are one day in more pain than you’ve yet experienced, ask someone for help.

Good luck.

Instant karma

Amnesty International can do more good in Darfur than the Bush administration.

Time to end “Most Favored Nation” status yet?

Children’s toys, above, poisoned with lead paint.

(Article from the Consumerist forwarded by my wife.)

Withdraw, now.

Iowa poll of likely caucus-goers (hat-tip Andrew Sullivan):

Do you favor a withdrawal of all United States military from Iraq within the next six months? (Republicans Only)
Yes 54%
No 37%
Undecided 9%

Do you favor a withdrawal of all United States military from Iraq within the next six months? (Democrats Only)
Yes 81%
No 5%
Undecided 14%

John Lennon made lots of money too

John Edwards

John Edwards is a very rich man. He can afford a $400 haircut. He has made no secret of this.

He has not unjustly enriched himself, to my knowledge.

This cannot be said of Republicans who profit from human misery.

Judge the tree by the fruit

What is this?

As you look at those who have died in the war on drugs, remember one thing: There has never been a single recorded case of anyone dying from an overdose of marijuana.

Right fucking now.

Microfinance

We wanted to do something to help the developing world. We figured out what we could afford to spare and divided funds equally between two choices: Kiva lets you make no interest loans to individual people in developing countries, and the Grameen Foundation has a completely novel approach to microcredit that earned a Nobel Peace prize for itself and founder, Muhammad Yunis of Bangladesh. If you invest in someone through Kiva you get your money back eventually; if you give to Grameen you are donating to the developing world.

I thought it worth blogging in case others are interested in doing something like this.

On blogonomics

Melissa McEwan, my friend who runs Shakesville (formerly Shakespeare’s Sister), has an excellent post about how we as a blogging community might sustain ourselves. Obviously we can do this out of our pockets and free time for only so long, but we do not want to become compromised by anyone for the sake of a coin. Advertisers will limit what you can or cannot say. Mimus Pauly wrote a long but very good post about this the day before yesterday. For him this must be always a part-time endeavor, his advice — don’t quit your day job (he hasn’t).

But good writers should have a way to write full-time. Good bloggers should be able to make this a profession, and afford to feed themselves and their families without selling out. The alternative is that you will have no good bloggers that do it for a long time, and eventually our whole ecosystem will be corporate shills like we have on the mainstream media today.

We need patronage, we need to do some things to make a network of bloggers that can rate one another in terms of worthiness, and help new bloggers get connected with a source of funding. We need a structure that is more than each of us having a donation box, as patrons may not know about more than a few of the larger blogs, and some of us blog semi-pseudonymously for good reasons.

Cannablog is a blog about cannabis, and I am a medical marijuana patient in California. This is information I have made public and I feel no great concern about my safety in saying so. California law protects patients. The federal government may have other ideas, and that is something that needs badly to change. Though I feel safe now, I am not safe forever, if it does not. But in other states, medical patients who are living and not dying because they take cannabis are constantly at risk of arrest and imprisonment by local and state officials now. If they want to be bloggers and honestly talk about how cannabis helps them, they cannot use their names. This needs to change.

I want to ensure that they can be funded somehow, to be given help so that they can afford to live, so they can feed their families. They are capable of being great writers and bloggers, and if you think otherwise, if you think this blog is substandard in any way, then I would ask you to please leave a comment and tell me what you’d like to see me do better.

This is, for me, a labor of love. I do it because I must do it. I do it because it is more important to try to stop war than anything else I can do, and this is how I can help to achieve that objective. But I must eat. All must eat.

Any questions?

Hat-tip Cory Doctorow.

This is my church.

Related post:

Story of Rabbit

Hat-tip Neil Gaiman.

Recommended viewing:

Taxonomy

It is because we were hunters, because
we killed for a living, because we matched
wits against the whole of the animal world,
that we have the wit to survive even in a
world of our own creation.

—Ardrey

Homo domesticus.

Copyright be damned, and torturers go to hell real quick

Terry Jones Here is Terry Jones. Via Why Now?

Call that humiliation?

No hoods. No electric shocks. No beatings. These Iranians clearly are a very uncivilised bunch

Terry Jones
Saturday March 31, 2007
The Guardian

I share the outrage expressed in the British press over the treatment of our naval personnel accused by Iran of illegally entering their waters. It is a disgrace. We would never dream of treating captives like this – allowing them to smoke cigarettes, for example, even though it has been proven that smoking kills. And as for compelling poor servicewoman Faye Turney to wear a black headscarf, and then allowing the picture to be posted around the world – have the Iranians no concept of civilised behaviour? For God’s sake, what’s wrong with putting a bag over her head? That’s what we do with the Muslims we capture: we put bags over their heads, so it’s hard to breathe. Then it’s perfectly acceptable to take photographs of them and circulate them to the press because the captives can’t be recognised and humiliated in the way these unfortunate British service people are.

It is also unacceptable that these British captives should be made to talk on television and say things that they may regret later. If the Iranians put duct tape over their mouths, like we do to our captives, they wouldn’t be able to talk at all. Of course they’d probably find it even harder to breathe – especially with a bag over their head – but at least they wouldn’t be humiliated.And what’s all this about allowing the captives to write letters home saying they are all right? It’s time the Iranians fell into line with the rest of the civilised world: they should allow their captives the privacy of solitary confinement. That’s one of the many privileges the US grants to its captives in Guantánamo Bay.

The true mark of a civilised country is that it doesn’t rush into charging people whom it has arbitrarily arrested in places it’s just invaded. The inmates of Guantánamo, for example, have been enjoying all the privacy they want for almost five years, and the first inmate has only just been charged. What a contrast to the disgraceful Iranian rush to parade their captives before the cameras!

What’s more, it is clear that the Iranians are not giving their British prisoners any decent physical exercise. The US military make sure that their Iraqi captives enjoy PT. This takes the form of exciting “stress positions”, which the captives are expected to hold for hours on end so as to improve their stomach and calf muscles. A common exercise is where they are made to stand on the balls of their feet and then squat so that their thighs are parallel to the ground. This creates intense pain and, finally, muscle failure. It’s all good healthy fun and has the bonus that the captives will confess to anything to get out of it.

And this brings me to my final point. It is clear from her TV appearance that servicewoman Turney has been put under pressure. The newspapers have persuaded behavioural psychologists to examine the footage and they all conclude that she is “unhappy and stressed”.

What is so appalling is the underhand way in which the Iranians have got her “unhappy and stressed”. She shows no signs of electrocution or burn marks and there are no signs of beating on her face. This is unacceptable. If captives are to be put under duress, such as by forcing them into compromising sexual positions, or having electric shocks to their genitals, they should be photographed, as they were in Abu Ghraib. The photographs should then be circulated around the civilised world so that everyone can see exactly what has been going on.

As Stephen Glover pointed out in the Daily Mail, perhaps it would not be right to bomb Iran in retaliation for the humiliation of our servicemen, but clearly the Iranian people must be made to suffer – whether by beefing up sanctions, as the Mail suggests, or simply by getting President Bush to hurry up and invade, as he intends to anyway, and bring democracy and western values to the country, as he has in Iraq.

· Terry Jones is a film director, actor and Python
www.terry-jones.net

Please help

I need some advice on how to continue to blog as I have been and still make a little bit more than nothing with two clients across the country one of whom may soon cease to be able to afford me due to the financial condition of his main client. I am in no risk of starving, between my wife’s graduate stipend and a bit we got for our condo when we moved we are okay, but we’re thinking we might want to have kids sometime and it can’t happen if we’re already running a small deficit every month.

This is my message to you.

Recommended listening:

Do you prefer plagues of locusts?

We all have one father and he does not want us to kill one another.

Look it up!

The preacher on that page reinterprets things in his own dark image, to invert plain meanings with deft commentary. Read with care. Judge every tree by the fruit thereof.

What is six times nine in base thirteen?

The act of writing is the means by which our consciousness can be focused and analyzed for coherence. If our thoughts are jumbled we would write in such a fashion. If we have a point to make, our thoughts can be arranged around that point. If we are searching for something which others could help find, our thoughts might be phrased as questions. If we already know the answer, it might be that in asking it of others we answer it to everyone.

What is the Ultimate Question?

You know. Life, the Universe and Everything.

Can you compute?

Following, the back of the Regional Transit Connection ID Center Processing Fee Receipt calculation, and verified by my wife, the graduate statistician.

Read the rest of this entry »

Happy blogiversary, Libby!

Last One Speaks is four years old, yesterday.

Pirates are the ones that steal the gold, not the kids listening to the music

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) are a bunch of music pirates that extort money to line their own pockets from people who cannot afford to defend themselves from barratry and who are accused of the awful sin of unauthorized listening to music.

Not that I have a strong opinion about them or anything.

Chuck Dupree has more.

Update: Xeni Jardin writes about the RIAA going after a ten-year-old girl (seven when she’s alleged to have done the dirty downloading deed).

Stoner genius

jibbs00 (2 days ago)

this is a true thing that happens! its not a chain letter! its kinda scary at first but it really works!! paste this message into 3 comments and press ALT F1 and your crushes name will appear on the screen!!! its soo wierd

Dong Hits 4 Kenneth: 420Hz on your radio receiver

Kenneth Starr loves the Clenis.

Recommended listening:

And for a minute there, I lost myself

Posted in Karma, Music. 1 Comment »

“I don’t have my glasses” — blinded by ambition?

Or just a bad liar.

Hat-tip John Amato.

So easy even a caveman could understand it

Glenn Greenwald:

First, the President began his Press Conference by admitting that the administration’s explanations as to what happened here have been — to use his own words — “confusing” and “incomplete.” Why, then, would Congress possibly trust Bush officials to provide more explanations in an off-the-record, no-transcript setting where there are no legal consequences from failing to tell the truth?

Related posts:

When in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout.

You have your own voice. Use it.

Remembering the future

Where do you think you’re going?

What could make Helen Thomas smile?

Helen Thomas

Click her picture. Hat-tip Think Progress.

This world is going to survive

A song of seeds, the food of love

“She’s trying to stop me from helping you!” Click the video to watch it elsewhere, it won’t embed.

Various items

1. I began this post intending to write about broadcast reform, but got sidetracked. The public airwaves belong to the public, they are not the private property of licensees to spectrum. We the public own the spectrum in common and for our benefit, not for private profit unless that is consistent with our own public interest. I will come back to this in a future post but welcome general discussion in the comments.

2. It happens that America has come to believe in an economic theory of competition, a capitalist Darwinian survival of the fittest. Shamefully, we treat people as human capital, as resources to be exploited and consumers to be sold, and not as independent members of the public whose object the government is meant to serve. But we do not have a government of, for and by the people today. We have a government of, for and by the rich and powerful.

3. We do not need to compete in everything, we can cooperate instead. We can help one another with our ideas and our efforts to achieve a common purpose. This is not communism, this is just community.

Free software has taught me to be generous with my own talents, and to be able to use the commons at will means we are assured of our freedom and independence, because we cannot be held hostage to the proprietary limitations of the rent seekers.

4. I’m going to be posting another version of the Chromosphere in a day or so, maybe later tonight if I’m inspired enough. This project is really a life’s work for me, even though it is only a bare skeleton of the idea currently sketched out and on display. This is a new way of communicating, a living language. It is an old way of communicating, too. Perhaps we are all having conversations around one another and not understanding.

In the meantime, please do check it out if you can spare ten minutes, and if you feel like tossing me a dime or buying me lunch sometime you can use Paypal from there. I prefer not to ask donations here at Cannablog, because I don’t ever want to have my politics or my religion or any of my beliefs a matter of monetary gain. But if you like my work and want to support free software, art and music, I sure appreciate it.

Update: version1 has been released.

No music now, unless you read it

ARTIST: The Beatles
TITLE: Golden Slumbers/Carry that Weight/The End
Lyrics and Chords courtesy Gunther Anderson

[ Ebdim7 = xx1212 ]

Once there was a way to get back homeward
Once there was a way to get back home
Sleep pretty darling do not cry
And I will sing a lullaby

/ Am7 – – – Dm7 – – – / G7 – – – / C Em Am Dm9 – / G7 – C – /

Golden slumbers fill your eyes
Smiles awake you when you rise
Sleep pretty darling do not cry
And I will sing a lullaby

/ C – F – C – / C – F – / C Em Am Dm9 – / G7 – C – /

Once there was a way to get back homeward
Once there was a way to get back home
Sleep pretty darling do not cry
And I will sing a lullaby

{Refrain}

Boy, you’re going to carry that weight
Carry that weight a long time
Boy, you’re going to carry that weight
Carry that weight a long time

/ C – G – / – – C – / 1st / G – C Am7 /

I never give you my pillow
I only send you my invitations
And in the middle of the celebrations
I break down

/ Am7 – Dsus2 Dm / G – Csus4 C / Fmaj7 – Dm E7 / Am – G – /

{Refrain, ends with / C A / C A /}

Oh yeah, all right
Are you going to be in my dreams
Tonight

/ D – E – / A – Ebdim7 – / A – /

And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love you make

/ A – – – / G – – – / Bb – – F – G / C – /

Climate control

Greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, have a certain “half-life” in the atmosphere before they are eliminated by natural processes, such as by plant respiration. When the production of new greenhouse gases has equilibrium with the elimination of circulating greenhouse gases, the climate is kept in balance.

Much discussion of reducing and controlling global warming has focused on how we may regulate the production of new greenhouse gases, and we must do so or we could never eliminate them quickly enough to prevent their building without limit and turning the earth into a place uninhabitable to humans.

It would also be helpful to begin encouraging the reduction of circulating greenhouse gases by broad based home agriculture. One green plant can reduce the carbon footprint of one person by a significant amount. If climate science has taught us anything, it’s that small changes over a large population make a huge difference.

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