The Practical Radical

Tragedy in Pictures

May 31, 2010
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Photo: Infrogmation

AP Photo

AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

AP Photo/BP PLC

AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

Photo: Infrogmation

Image: Zero-lives

Photo: ctberney

and who other than God can solve this …

Photo: AP/Gerald Herbert

Sorry Mr. Obama, not this time.


Addiction leads to decades long hangover …

May 28, 2010
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I am getting quite nauseous knowing our addiction to the black liquor is destroying the environment and economy of the gulf coast states. What makes it worse is that I feel I am watching the disaster in slow motion, with oil slowly and inexorably making its way onshore, while we watch grainy low definition movies of the mile deep oil well  belching out its black death.

So, as we can’t seem to do much but watch, what better time to reflect on some of the myths we hold regarding our addiction to gas as it relates to our cars.  The following are six gas mileage myths (stop doing them and nagging your husband/wife about them) and some solutions (that if 100,000,000 of us started doing something would change).

Remember what Margaret Mead says – “A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” (yeah, I’m not believing that much right now either .. )

Myths

  • It takes more fuel to start a vehicle than it does to let it idle.
    Idling uses a quarter to a half-gallon of fuel in an hour, costing you one to two cents a minute. So, turn off the car when stopped for more than a few minutes.
  • Vehicles need to be warmed up before they’re driven.
    Maybe true back in the old days, no longer.
  • Old cars have bad fuel economy.
    A well-maintained car will have like-new mileage.
  • A clean airfilter makes a car run more efficiently.
    If you have a car from the 70s, maybe. Now, no.
  • That expensive additive s%^t you put in your gas helps.
    Probably not, you might feel better, but no. Both the Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Reports have weighed in on this. There are no top-secret 100-mpg add-ons out there.
  • Using premium fuel improves fuel economy.
    Nope. Use only if filthy rich.

and this one is for Lee-Anne as we disagree on this all the time …

  • Having your windows down while having the air conditioning effects gas mileage.
    NONONONONONO. Two studies by Consumer Report and some group called Edmunds.com  just say no, nothing really even measurable. (I win, the windows are staying down air-conditioned jacked).
So, some things you can do …
  • inflate your tires
  • don’t leave tons of s$%t in your car, especially bags of sand, bricks, cement, large mammals, etc.
  • use cruise control – it works
  • and, drive the speed limit

Thanks to yahoo.com, edmunds.com, consumer report, and my personal angst for making this happen. Have a nice day.


An ounce of humor prepares us for decades of pain … BP and Twitter #bpcares

May 26, 2010
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A fake British Petroleum twitter account gives us the best analysis of what is going on. Here are some example tweets …

Proud to announce that BP will be sponsoring the New Orleans Blues Festival this summer w/ special tribute to Muddy Waters.

Think about it this way, the ocean is like rootbeer and oil is like ice cream. We just made America a giant rootbeer float!

The good news: Mermaids are real. The bad news: They are now extinct.

The ocean looks just a bit slimmer today. Dressing it in black really did the trick!

remember … #bpcares


The U.S. welcomes the world to their Tea Party

May 24, 2010
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With the selection of tea partier Rand Paul as Senate nominee in Kentucky, and his “my government is no government” views, the world will now be engaged in the 24/7 news cycle discussion on whether we want to be invited.

So, if we are invited as Canadians or Kenyans or Dutch or whatever nationality, the question for me is, what type of tea is being served (or id Koolaid … but that’s another blog), and do we want it? The tea that Rand Paul and the Tea Party is serving is a re-brew of something I think Americans thought they had moved on from 50 years ago, and it has to do with Paul’s repudiation of parts of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In short, the Civil Rights Act required the integration of schools and other public facilities, and made employment discrimination illegal. The issue for Paul is part of the Act which states that All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, and privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.

Rachel Maddow from MSNBC pressed Paul on whether private business had the right to refuse to serve African-Americans, Paul replied, “Yes.” You can watch the full interview here and here. Paul is also now on record saying  that he doesn’t like Obama putting his “boot heel on the throat of BP” because “it sounds un-American – his criticism of business.”

We don’t need to be overburdened by regulation, but when we are dealing with something as basic as not banning people from places due to their race , or as important as assuring that an already catastrophic environmental disaster and its costs be taken care of, then government IS what represents our collective will and action, not corporations.


How Animals spend their tax refunds …

May 23, 2010
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And yet some more funny quantification of our animal brethren … for me the animal would be a one-celled protozoa with the option “return – too small to spend”.

Thanks again to pleated-jeans for the great posts.


Of Graffiti, Youth and Space #2 – Favela Painting

May 21, 2010
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Cross posted from Sustainable Cities: PLUS Network Blog

Favela Painting is a graffiti program initiated by artists Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn. In 2005 they started a project focused on bringing works of art to unexpected places such as the slums of Rio. Their most current project entitled ‘O Morro’ (meaning ‘The Hill’), is in the central square in the community of Santa Marta, Rio de Janeiro. The graffiti was all done by local painters who were trained by the artists.

This seems to bring together some of the best of Rio graffiti – it reflects that youthful feel, builds on local talent,  beautifies the community, and trains people to boot. Cudos to the artists, and lets hope that projects like this continue on to other communities.

Here are some more shots of the project:

Thanks to This. That. and the Other. blog for pointing out this project.


Who needs a Scarlet Letter when you have CNN

May 19, 2010
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Michelle Obama was holding one of her “chat with the children” events when someones world was turned upside down. One of the children she was chatting with states “My mom said, I think that she says that, Barack Obama is going to take away everybody that doesn’t have papers,” the young girl then goes on to say “… my mom doesn’t have any.”

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and Ms. Obama clearly has laid the way to that by allowing this young girl and her family to branded with a proverbial Scarlet Letter illegal immigrants on international TV. Who can say with the tone of the debate going on regarding immigration what might happen next to them.

We all have to take personal responsibility for our actions in this global age – the challenge is who should we blame. Is it Michelle’s fault for using kids to move her message? Is it CNN’s for airing the video? The child for saying something stupid? The parents for illegally immigrating?

For me, maybe it’s not what the leader of the free world has done in the past, but here’s hoping that Michelle and Barrack take responsibility for their actions, and take care of the mess they have put that little girl in.


Pradical Blog: Donald Trump as Diversity Advocate

May 18, 2010
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I opened the paper this morning and there it was:

ARAB-AMERICAN WINS PAGEANT

Miss USA: Nod to diversity, or ‘affirmative action’?

Donald Trump’s Miss USA pageant sure knows how to make headlines.


Go figure, nothing against the Donald, but he would not be the person I would think would be an advocate for affirmative action. Now, clearly, the Miss USA contest is kinda gross and sexist in itself, but from my perspective if you are going to go beyond the “progressives” talking to one another, Miss USA is a great place to start.

It is amazing/scary to watch the flash points in this rapidly changing world. This story has a lot of the ingredients. In a post 911 world in the US, an Arab woman winning an award, even Miss USA, is hailed as a victory by groups such as the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee. This within the context of the post-Arizona immigration law world, where some “harsh critics” (read one of the most vocal bloggers) charged that the Oklahoma delegate she was up against might have got the boot because she supported the law.

So in the end pop culture meets political culture, in a place we didn’t expect it to be. Good on ya Donald!


How Animals spend a typical day …

May 17, 2010
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I am still working on my graph … I am thinking that before my Starbucks mocha in the morning, I am between a lion (ripping the face off a gazelle) and a jellyfish (being a jerk and ruining a perfectly good day at the beach). How about you?

Thanks to Pleated Jeans for this great infographic.


Posted in humor, Musings

Pradical Blog: Harper Consolidates his Minority!

May 16, 2010
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10,000 Harper Loyalists

There has been much hullabaloo about Harper bring back the old chestnut of abortion – the reporting on this issue reflects the general opinion about Harper from many commentators (for example Rex Murphy, Don Martin) which  seems to be that this issue only plays to the Conservative base, demonstrates Harper is an ideologue, and won’t allow him to gain a majority.

I believe it is much more Machiavellian than that.

Except by complete implosion of one of the 4 main parties, there will be a minority government, and Harper knows it. Of course he will never say this – keep the dream alive! – but he is too canny a player not to realize it.

So, if we put his actions on abortion and other policy pronouncements such as climate change within this context, what he is doing makes sense. He is energizing his base through wedge issues, just as one Karl Rove was so good at with George W. in the states. Activate the base, demoralize the others.

So the 10,000 people on parliament hill rallying against abortion with 18 Conservative MPs in tow? All dyed-in-the-wool-never-to-vote-for-anyone-but-Stephen supporters.Those 10,000 people are the vanguard, and they will assure Harper his minority and slim chance majority (watch for a Conservative/Bloc alliance in the next election).  The Armageddon Factor is a good read on the religious right and Conservative politics in Canada, or read some quotes from evangelical youth leader and Conservative darling, Faytene Kryskow. She believes her Christian fan club should emulate the Hitler Youth, who she admires for mobilizing people to their cause, and ponders how much more who group could accomplish with the power of God behind them. To understand her impact, Check out her group MY CANADA and her blog, which outlines her political work like the recent face to face meetings with 30 MPs and the reception she hosted that had in attendance 70 conservative MPs.

Harper has made the calculation that it will be a minority government – and has duped the media and the general public into believing that a coalition against him would be the coup d’etat by the social hordes. The other parties? Still trying for a majority seemingly. Until such time as the NDP – who have never been in government – and the Liberals – who believe they have never been out of government – get together and strategize it will be Harper all the way.


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