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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
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Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

Car Dealers Are Terrified of Tesla’s Plan to Eliminate Oil Changes


Car dealers fear Tesla. In states across the country, powerful car dealer associations have lobbied to ensure the electric car maker and its direct-sales model are kept out. This movement claimed another victory this week when New Jersey banned Tesla stores in the state.

On the surface, the fear is hard to fathom. In New Jersey, for instance, sales of Tesla’s $70,000 Model S reportedly number in the hundreds. But if you dig a little deeper, it becomes obvious why dealers are worried. They don’t just fear Tesla’s cars. They fear Tesla’s plan to create a world where you never have to bring your car into the shop again.

The first and most striking way Tesla kills the dealer service department cash cow is downloads. As part of its sales pitch, Tesla says you should think of its Model S sedan as “an app on four wheels.” That may sound like vacuous Silicon Valley marketing copy, but the company isn’t just being metaphorical. Software is at the heart of what keeps Teslas running. These internet-connected cars are designed to self-diagnose their problems. The vehicles can also download software fixes or updates — even new features — much like an iPhone when Apple puts out a new version of iOS. When fixes happen over the air, there’s no need for a shop in the first place.

The ability to repair a car via software is especially important when the vehicle itself consists of so much new technology that traditional mechanics don’t know how to fix. The flip side is that without an internal combustion engine, there’s not as much to fix. I’ve written before that a Tesla without its outer shell looks like a cell phone on wheels. It’s basically just a big battery. That means no spark plugs, no air filters, no fuel pumps, no timing belts. In short, Teslas don’t have any of the parts that force you to take your car in for “regularly scheduled maintenance” — services that can cost dearly at the dealer. But it’s hard to charge for an oil change when there’s no oil to be changed.



The Pathetic Lives of Putin’s American Dupes

By Jonathan Chait

A tragically large number of left-wing Westerners in the 20th century deluded themselves about the horrors of Soviet communism. As awful and unforgivable as it was, the process by which they made themselves into dupes was at least explicable: They loved socialism, and one country in the world was implementing socialism, so they persuaded themselves, and for a while, it was working.

Today’s Russia dupes are a smaller, more pathetic lot. Above all they are just plain weirder, because they lack a clear ideological motive for their stoogery. Soviet Russia not only commanded a vast propaganda network, but embodied a doctrine with international appeal (and which had originated outside of Russia). Vladimir Putin’s Russia follows no model except Russian nationalism. To the extent it employs a non-nationalist philosophy, its main idea is that gays have weakened Europe. And yet the dupes still come.

The most prominent intellectual apologist for Putin is Stephen F. Cohen, Princeton professor, Russologist for the left-wing Nation. Cohen is a septuagenarian, old-school leftist who has carried on the mental habits of decades of anti-anti-communism seamlessly into a new career of anti-anti-Putinism. The Cohen method is to pick away at every indictment of the Russian regime without directly associating himself with its various atrocities. Is Putin persecuting gays? Well, Cohen wants us to know that various Ukrainians nationalists dislike gays, too. And also Barack Obama’s claim to snub Sochi because of gay rights is probably not on the level. Is Putin bullying and killing journalists? Eh, says Cohen, “Every time a journalist breaks a leg, they say the Kremlin did it.” Accidents happen.

The primary hub of Russian propaganda in the West is Russia Today, an English-language Kremlin-funded propaganda outlet. Joe Pompeo reported last fall how RT has actually acquired a devoted following in the West, in part through relentless viral YouTube sharing of its reports. Cohen, of course, appears regularly on RT. (Is RT biased? Well, he says, so is CNN: “I’m highly suspicious about the narrative I’m getting on CNN. It seems to be the flip side of RT.”)



Senate suddenly confirms new CIA lawyer

The Senate voted abruptly Thursday to confirm a new general counsel for the Central Intelligence Agency, after senators apparently withdrew holds they had placed on the nomination over concerns that the spy agency was not cooperating with an ongoing investigation into Bush-era interrogation practices.

Justice Department lawyer Caroline Krass handily won confirmation to the legal job in a 95-4 vote just moments after Majority Leader Harry Reid obtained unanimous consent for an immediate vote.

Senate aides said the change-of-heart about confirming Krass to the CIA post came after several Democrats said they had grave concerns about recent actions by the CIA’s acting general counsel, Robert Eatinger.

Reid persuaded his Democratic colleagues in recent days that an immediate way to address their lack of confidence in Eatinger would be to drop their objections to Krass’s nomination and allow her to take over the CIA’s legal shop, the aides said.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/03/caroline-krass-cia-lawyer-senate-confirmed-104646.html#

Another idiot celebrity anti-vaccination family- Jay Cutler and Wife

Reality television personality Kristin Cavallari appeared on Fox News today and disclosed that she and her husband, Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, are not vaccinating their children because they are worried about their offspring developing autism. In Cavallari’s words, “I’ve read too many books and studies.” She then went on to describe an anti-vaccination group she is a part of and how none of them have been vaccinated and they haven’t had one case of autism. Sounds like a pretty scientific study from Ms. Cavallari.

Sadly, Culter and Cavallari have fallen victim to conjecture and disproven theories and not only are putting their own children at risk, they are risking the health of other families around them. Just this month Nature Magazine published an article titled Public Health: An Injection of Trust which underscored how difficult and important it is to reach parents who refuse to vaccinate their children.

Read more: http://kissingsuzykolber.uproxx.com/2014/03/jay-cutler-joins-irresponsible-doooonnnntttt-caaaarreee-vaccinations-herd.html


Recipe for a Happy Life: Less Materialism, More Gratitude


Picture the most materialistic people you know. They don’t seem very happy, do they? They certainly have more stuff than most of us, and we’re constantly bombarded with messages that equate stuff with bliss. So what’s missing from their lives?

Newly published research suggests a clear answer: Gratitude.

“High materialists are less happy in part because they find it harder to be grateful for what they have,” writes a research team led by Baylor University psychologist Jo-Ann Tsang. The researchers argue that, because of this low level of gratitude, “basic psychological needs (which allow) individuals to thrive” go largely unmet.

In the journal Personality and Individual Difference, Tsang and her colleagues describe a study in which 246 college students took a multifaceted survey. First, their level of materialism was measured by their response (on a scale of “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree’) to such statements as “My life would be better if I owned certain things I don’t have.”

Their dispositional gratitude and overall life satisfaction were determined by their reaction to two more sets of statements, such as “I have so much in life to be thankful for.”



Emails Link Duke Energy and North Carolina

Environmental regulators in North Carolina consulted Duke Energy last year before seeking to exclude citizen activists from talks to settle charges that the utility’s coal ash ponds had polluted the state’s groundwater, newly released email exchanges among the regulators indicated on Thursday.

Duke officials and the state later settled the charges by proposing a fine and a requirement that Duke study the potential for further pollution before offering solutions. That agreement collapsed in February after one of the utility’s coal ash ponds spilled tens of thousands of tons of toxic slurry into the Dan River.

Federal prosecutors have since opened a criminal investigation into the spill and the relationship between Duke and the state’s environmental bureaucracy. Critics charge that environmental regulation has been hobbled by political interference since Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, a former mayor of Charlotte and a Duke Energy employee for 29 years, took office last year.

The emails were obtained in legal proceedings by the Southern Environmental Law Center, which had announced in January 2013 that it planned to sue Duke over charges that its coal ash pollution violated the federal Clean Water Act. The act allows citizens to sue over pollution violations unless governments move to correct them — and to go to court if a settlement is too weak.



U.S. Agrees to Allow BP Back Into Gulf Waters to Seek Oil

Source: NYT

HOUSTON — Four years after the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion, BP is being welcomed back to seek new oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

An agreement on Thursday with the Environmental Protection Agency lifts a 2012 ban that was imposed after the agency concluded that BP had not fully corrected problems that led to the well blowout in 2010 that killed 11 rig workers, spilled millions of gallons of oil and contaminated hundreds of miles of beaches.

BP had sued to have the suspension lifted, and now the agreement will mean hundreds of millions of dollars of new business for the company. But even more important, oil analysts said, it signifies an important step in the company’s recovery from the accident, which has been costly to its finances and reputation.

“After a lengthy negotiation, BP is pleased to have reached this resolution, which we believe to be fair and reasonable,” said John Mingé, chairman and president of BP America. “Today’s agreement will allow America’s largest energy investor to compete again for federal contracts and leases.”

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/14/business/energy-environment/epa-to-lift-suspension-of-oil-leases-for-bp.html

Friday Toon Roundup 3: The Rest




Friday Toon Roundup 2: Spy Fi

Friday Toon Roundup 1: Repubs

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