Monthly Archives: July 2008

One-stop Home Solar System shopping

Those lucky folks in California.

Sungevity is an online solar dealer/installer. You give them your zip and they tailor a solar system to your location without having to come to your home or you to their showroom. They give you lots of options on different systems, and claim to be a lower cost for buying a system than conventional dealers.

I’m hoping they come east real soon, or someone out here franchises or copies their business model.

From their website:

To make residential solar energy less expensive, Sungevity doesn’t work like other solar companies.

With Sungevity, you can learn about solar energy, get a free iQuote for your home, and order a solar system – all online. We think the convenience of an online purchasing process makes going solar easier and faster.

For most customers, Sungevity doesn’t need to visit your home to provide you with a free quote. New technology has enabled us to do remote roof analysis and accurately and efficiently determine your home’s solar potential from our office. A Sungevity consultant personally designs every system using satellite and aerial images to fit your specific solar needs. Most solar companies will come by your house 2-3 times to do this! Because we don’t need to do so many site visits, we can offer our customers fully-installed solar systems often at 10% less than our competitors. We think you’ll appreciate the savings.

Unlike many other solar companies, Sungevity specializes in home solar electric systems. We are fully committed to providing homeowners the best service and the highest quality solar system. People come to us because they want to get solar on their home that works and saves them money. Sungevity makes it happen!

Installed system pic

It takes a lot of work to start an energy revolution, but with your help, we can make solar a main source of power – starting today with your home. We appreciate your interest in solar and your business, and hope that you enjoy your Sungevity experience.

We call it: Sunshine Online.

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Drilling our way out of a hole

If you have the facts on your side, why tell lies?

Mortimer B. Zuckerman of US News and World Report has a 2-page Editorial on energy independence titled: Stop the Energy Insanity!!!!!! (I added all those exclamation points, but that’s the real title, sans !!!!’s) Upon first read, it seems. . .almost sensible. But if you do simple fact-checking. . . not so much.

Mort claims that awesome new technology makes offshore drilling for oil and natural gas super-safe. He then points to category-5 hurricanes Rita and Katrina that rocked the gulf coast in 2005 and spilled nary a drop of oil or gas offshore. Here’s what he said (can’t provide a link to Mort’s column as it is in the current issue of US News and World Report and isn’t online yet):

Similarly, the outer continental shelf is estimated to contain some 86 billion barrels of oil, plus 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas that is overwhelmingly off limits and underdeveloped–even though those reserves could be tapped now with minimal environmental disturbance. This is supported by the fact that there were virtually no oil spills when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita flattened terminals around the Gulf of Mexico. (emphasis mine)

Virtually no oil spills? This is from the US Minerals Management Service:

NEW ORLEANS – Minerals Management Service (MMS) today released an update of the assessment of damage to offshore oil and gas infrastructure caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

MMS also is releasing the following tally of hurricane-related oil/condensate/chemical spills in Federal offshore OCS waters as reported to MMS and the National Response Center. Six spills of 1,000 barrels or greater were reported; the largest of these was 3,625 barrels of condensate reported by the Gulf South Pipeline Company in the Eugene Island Block 51 area. A total of 146 spills of 1 barrel or greater have been reported in the Federal OCS waters; 37 of these were 50 barrels or greater. No shoreline or wildlife impacts were noted from these spills.

One barrel of oil is 42 gallons. The largest spill was 3,625 barrels, or 152,250 gallons spilled into the ocean. That was just the largest spill. There were 5 other large spills of at least 1000 barrels each (and least 1000 barrels but less than 3,625). 1000 barrels (minimum) X 5 major spills X 42 gallons per barrel = 210,000 gallons spilled, minimum, from the next 5 major spills. 210,000 + 152,250 = 362,250 gallons of oil, natural gas, and chemicals (mostly oil) MINIMUM from only the 6 largest spills. Looking back at the data from MMS we see there were an additional 140 spills, of which 37 were greater than 50 barrels. That, to me, is alot of spilled oil and natural gas.

That’s just offshore. How about oil and gas spills onshore? Virtually none, either, if you’re idea of virtually none is over 7 million gallons of oil, gas and chemicals spilled in southeast Louisiana alone (here).

To see how far the press far fallen, honestly and intellectually, let’s hearken back to 1989, when the Exxon Valdez supertanker spilled 10.8 million gallons of oil in Prince William sound in Alaska and destroyed its ecology for at least another 30 years. Most probably due to the convenient scapegoat of a drunken captain, the press was all over the spill.The native people who made their living there through fishing and tourism went bankrupt. Exxon was sued and ordered to pay about 5 billion dollars in combined damages in 1994. They appealed repeatedly and finally got the Supreme Court of the United States of America to reduce the fines and damages to about half a billion dollars this year. Consider that Exxon made over 40 billion dollars in profits last year alone, but they still appeal and haven’t yet paid the effected people of Alaska a dime. (wiki of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill here)

So what’s my damn point? I’m wondering why, if Mort and the ruling class have the facts on their side, why do they lie? And, knowing Mort is lying, and he and the others repeating the company line that “virtually no oil was spilled during Rita and Katrina” are dead wrong, that the amount of oil spilled due to Rita and Katrina rivaled that of the Exxon Valdez disaster, how come nobody’s calling them on it? Why are they allowed to repeat such obvious falsehoods? I would posit it’s because everybody on TV and many voices in print media are servants of one or another corporate master, and they are simply repeating what the bosses want repeated. So: “No oil was spilled. No oil is ever spilled. And, even though no oil is spilled or ever will be, if it was, it wouldn’t do any damage anyway and don’t believe any tree-hugging communist who tells you differently. Now go buy some useless shit you don’t need.”

And how bout some real straight talk? Don’t you think Exxon and the other big boys, as well as the OPEC nations, like receiving over 140 dollars for a barrel of oil? What makes you think, even if we drill all over our coastlines and Alaska, that the oil powers that be won’t find a way to keep prices up, either through collusion or natural or man-made disasters? And even if they don’t, what makes you think demand won’t increase (via Chinese, Indian, and African development) to complete erase any added supplies?

Quite simply, we’ve reached the nadir of the oil economy. We can’t go on the way things are without terrible consequences. We need a Manhatten or Apollo-style project for clean energy technologies. We need solar panels and windmills or every roof or backyard, geothermal and tidal, cellolosic ethanol and electric cars. Pronto, chop chop.

According to a poster at Grist, they’re here:

Low-cost, hi-efficiency solar via Sunrgi.

Low-cost, non-food crop ethanol via Coskata.

From a joint GM/Coskata press release:

DETROIT, Jan. 13 – General Motors announced a partnership Sunday with Coskata Inc. to use the company’s breakthrough technology which affordably and efficiently makes ethanol from practically any renewable source, including garbage, old tires and plant waste.

Coskata, which was formally introduced as part of GM’s opening press conference at the North American International Auto Show, uses a proprietary process that leverages patented microorganisms and bioreactor designs to produce ethanol for less than $1 a gallon, about half of today’s cost of producing gasoline.

Again, oil, coal and nuclear are dying. Every barrel of oil pumped out of the ground, every scoop of coal taken from the soil, every barrel of radioactive sludge produced that has to be stored somewhere so it won’t kill or poison life on this planet, brings us closer to the end of those industries. But we aren’t doomed to a Mad Max existence if we get serious about this crisis and exploit our best minds, impulses and technologies. We can make it to a cleaner, brighter future.

One more thing. A friend send me an email about myths and facts about ANWR. Basically the gist is that environmentalists are full of what the birds eat and drilling there will be contained to a tiny piece (about 2,200 acres, out of 19 million acres) of land nowhere near anything pretty. The argument the email makes is that drilling would be clean and not effect much or any wildlife. Whether it’s a load of crap or not (Mort mentions it in his column, so I’m inclined to believe we’re not hearing the complete and accurate picture of what will go down up there), I’m of the opinion that we should go ahead and let the oil companies explore and drill there and on the offshore continental shelf (regardless of the risks in both places) as long as there is a new royalties agreement giving an increased share of the profits of oil and gas sales to US taxpayers. That’s the condition: they get more drilling permits, we get more $$$$’s. Put those extra $$$ in a fund exclusively for renewable energy projects for residential and business renewable, residential and business efficiency projects, clean energy R&D, mass transit, and converting coal and nuclear to clean energy projects. Not a dime for new coal or nuclear, for the obvious reasons that they aren’t clean or efficient–just incentives for them to convert to solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, etc. I know this may sound strange after the arguments of the rest of the post, but real change isn’t going to happen without compromise. This would be the Great Energy Compromise of 2009 (under President Obama, of course).

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Baby step towards Impeachment

Via Politico’s “The Crypt” Blog, by John Bresnahan:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said this morning that the House Judiciary Committee may hold hearings on an impeachment resolution offered by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio).

Kucinich is expected to offer a “privileged resolution” this afternoon calling on the House to look at whether President Bush should be removed from office for lying to Congress and the American public when he sought congressional approval back in 2002 for taking military action to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein.

Pelosi has said previously that impeachment “was off the table,” so her comments this morning were surprising, and clearly signaled a new willingness to entertain the idea of ousting Bush, although no one in the Democratic leadership believes that is likely since the president has only six months left in this term.

“This is a Judiciary Committee matter, and I believe we will see some attention being paid to it by the Judiciary Committee,” Pelosi told reporters. “Not necessarily taking up the articles of impeachment because that would have to be approved on the floor, but to have some hearings on the subject.”

Pelosi added: “My expectation is that there will be some review of that in the committee.”

A spokesman for the House Judiciary Committee had no immediate comment when asked whether Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), the panel’s chairman, planned hearings on Kucinich’s impeachment resolutions.

Update: Conyers said he had just gotten Kucinich’s new impeachment resolution, and he was not sure of when hearings would occur, or what kind of hearings be held. Democratic aides said they would examine “abuses of power” by the Bush administration, although it is unclear why or how that is different from what has taken place already throughout the 110th Congress.

One thing is clear, however — there will be no move to remove Bush from office, despite Pelosi’s comments this morning, or Kucinich’s resolution.

Most pundits I’ve heard discuss this seem to think that its Pelosi’s way to block Bush from preemptively pardoning everybody in his administration for any charges brought up after he leaves office. The Constitution states that a president under impeachment proceedings can’t use the pardon power for anything involved in that process.

P.S. Don’t skip the comments on the Crypt post, as most are (unintentionally?) hilarious. My favorite so far, by Jane:

These Libs will contiue to do and say nothing but negative remarks about America. Obama says we are gun totten bible banging people. Yesterday we are only able to say one sentence in a foreign language. They not only bad-mouth America but, do the same too American’s.Impeachment……the entire Lib party need to be impeached.

“Yesterday we are only able to say one sentence in a foreign language.” ?????????? Priceless. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to continue to do nothing but negative remarks about America–while I sip my latte–and spit on some returning Iraq War vets–as I do 90 in my Prius–on the way to spend my food stamps and welfare check on cigarettes, booze and crack.

(apologies for the two snarky posts today, can’t be helped)

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Ultra-violent, radical protester escorted from McCain town hall event

Watch the video.

Thank God the authorities were able to keep this 61 year-old librarian and grandmother and her sign out of an event open to the public in a public building–and away from TV cameras and mics.

Clearly, the woman is super dangerous. . .and belligerent. . .and way outside of her “free speech zone”. She’s lucky she wasn’t tasered and extraordinarily renditioned to Syria for some “enhanced interrogation”.

God bless America, land that I love. . .And God damn Americans who think they have 1st amendment rights to free speech and assembly.

First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

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Pilots, POW’s and Supreme Allied Commanders in Chief

Hey, did you hear that Retired General Wes Clark”impugned” the patriotism of former-POW and all-around swell guy John McCain by simply talking the real straight talk?

Yeah, I thought so.

But for anyone who doesn’t pay that close attention to these “controversies”, skip to the bottom of the post and read a partial transcript of the Face and Nation exchange (or read the whole thing here).

After General Clark answered Bob Schieffer’s questions and McCain called on Obama to renounce Clark and called in former swiftboaters and sycophants to refute and retaliate, McCain backer Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said something that caught my ear: He said John McCain was the best qualified candidate to be commander in chief since Dwight Eisenhower (here).

For anyone unfamiliar with Graham, besides being a lifelong bachelor, and kind of goofy, he’s very prone to hyperbole. Still, the Eisenhower comparison made me chuckle.

Like General Clark said on Face the Nation, John McCain is a hero to millions of servicemen and women and his service to our country is laudable and enviable (count me among the millions on those points), but with regards to LEADERSHIP ABILITY and COMMANDER-IN-CHIEFINESS, John McCain’s military and senatorial service records don’t pass Wes Clark’s (legitimate) standards. And (sorry Lindsey Graham) he sure ain’t no Dwight David Eisenhower. No how, no way. Not even close.

Both Ike and McCain served, to be sure. But General Eisenhower was a leader of men, specifically the Supreme Allied Commander of the European Theater in World War Two. He was the “overlord” of Operation Overlord, commanding the army that freed North Africa and Europe from Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. His patience; cunning; training; tactical, administrative and organizational brilliance; and ability to forge a working coalition of stubborn, hot-headed but superbly talented officers like Generals Patton, Bradley and de Gaulle and Field Marshal Montgomery in no small part won the war, but also, on a personal level, allowed my existence. (Both my maternal and paternal grandfathers served in Europe during World War two, and General Eisenhower’s august leadership, combined with my grandfathers’ martial skills and a measure of good luck allowed them to return home whole.)

Before being shot down and captured, McCain was a Naval fighter/bomber pilot and performed his difficult duties admirably. Unfortunately, he is also famous in Navy training film history because he was on the flight deck of the USS Forrestal in his A-4 during the greatest shipboard fire catastrophe in recent naval history (true story: I first heard of John McCain in US Navy boot camp while watching that training film–I don’t think he’s mentioned in the film but one of the instructors must’ve said his name and that he was there). He returned from war and captivity with a shattered body from years of torture and mistreatment. He had an relatively uneventful end to a fine naval career and went into politics. He is currently running to become the next president of the USA.

Again, like General Clark said, McCain’s a war hero and his patriotism and service are amazing and worthy of spectacular praise. But none of his exploits or torments are even vaguely analogous to leading the allied forces in liberating Europe.

Graham might’ve been on to something, though. McCain is very similar to Ike in one way: as politicians, Ike was and McCain is very, very, very cosy with big business. So if that’s Graham’s idea of being the best qualified to be commander in chief, McCain’s in like flynn.

General Wesley Clark on CBS’s Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer (from WestPac):

Bob Schieffer: With us now from Little Rock, Arkansas Retired General Wesley Clark. He was for Hillary Clinton during the primaries. Once Hillary was out of it, he announced that he was supporting Barack Obama. And let’s get right to it here, General. You heard what Senator Lieberman said. He said that Barack Obama is simply more ready to be President than, than Barack Obama. (sic)

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, I think Bar- I think Joe has it exactly backwards here. I think being President is, is about having good judgment. It’s about the ability to communicate. As one of the great Presidential historians Richard Newsted said, “The greatest power of the Presidency is the power to persuade.” And what Barack Obama brings is incredible communication skills, proven judgment. You look at his meteoric rise in politics, and you see a guy who deals with people well, who understands issues, who brings people together and who has good judgment in moving forward. And I think what we need to do, Bob, is we need to stop talking about the old politics of left and right, and we need to pull together and move the country forward. And I think that’s what Barack Obama will do for America.

Bob Schieffer:
Well you, you went so far as to say that you thought John McCain was, quote, and these are your words, “untested and untried,” And I must say I, I had to read that twice, because you’re talking about somebody who was a prisoner of war. He was a squadron commander of the largest squadron in the Navy. He’s been on the Senate Armed Services Committee for lo these many years. How can you say that John McCain is un- untested and untried? General?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Because in the matters of national security policy making, it’s a matter of understanding risk. It’s a matter of gauging your opponents, and it’s a matter of being held accountable. John McCain’s never done any of that in his official positions. I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in Armed Forces as a prisoner of war. He has been a voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and he has traveled all over the world. But he hasn’t held executive responsibility. That large squadron in Air- in the Navy that he commanded, it wasn’t a wartime squadron. He hasn’t been there and ordered the bombs to fall. He hasn’t seen what it’s like when diplomats come in and say, ‘I don’t know whether we’re going to be able to get this point through or not. Do you want to take the risk? What about your reputation? How do we handle it-‘

Bob Schieffer: Well-

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: ‘ -it publicly.’ He hasn’t made those calls, Bob.

Bob Schieffer: Well, well, General, maybe-


Bob Schieffer: Could I just interrupt you. If-


Bob Schieffer: I have to say, Barack Obama has not had any of those experiences either, nor has he ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down. I mean-

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be President.

Bob Schieffer: Really?!

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: But Barack is not, he is not running on the fact that he has made these national security pronouncements. He’s running on his other strengths. He’s running on the strengths of character, on the strengths of his communication skills, on the strengths of his judgment. And those are qualities that we seek in our national leadership

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Vote theft for idiots, p.1

Everybody loves cartoons. From Ted Rall and Greg Palast (if you can’t read it, click on it to see it in a larger, higher-res version at

From Greg Palast:

Are they going to Steal 2008? Don’t worry: it’s already stolen. But you can steal it back. Ted Rall and I have teamed up for one of the first ever series of hard-edged investigative journalism – in ‘toon form. Steal this strip … and pass it on: VOTE THEFT FOR IDIOTS – PART 1 … (click the photo for higher quality, or click here to download a pdf)

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Tuesday activism: sign Employee Free Choice Act petition

via Joe at Joe’s Union Review:

Click it. Sign up. Upload a photo if you want. Hopefully the petition will land on Obama’s desk in late January 2009.

Not sure what the Employee Free Choice Act is? Here’s the wiki.

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