31 August 2007

Strickland Outlines Energy Plan for Ohio

From the Post:

...his plan seeks the development of new sources of energy: clean coal, new nuclear power technologies, wind, water and the sun. He wants 25 percent of the power produced in Ohio to come from such sources.

The goal is to bring stability and predictability to Ohio's electric power industry. That in turn will attract new jobs and keep existing ones here, Strickland said. "Other states are, in fact, outperforming us," Strickland said in announcing the plan Wednesday.

Erin Bowser, executive director or Environment Ohio, a nonprofit advocacy group, said her group would have liked to have more of an emphasis on "clean" renewable energy, such as wind and solar power.

"Because we have lumped coal and nuclear power into this plan, we are continuing to not give the lift we need to renewables to develop," she said.

Ms. Bowser may have a fair point, but Strickland is correct that Ohio needs to step up and develop a more progressive and technologically advanced energy policy.

Wind power in particular can make a substantial contribution around Lake Erie, which is pretty much the only part of the state with consistently exploitable wind. But my feeling is that, wherever wind can be exploited, it should be.

Nuclear power is controversial, but my take is that it is "conditionally good," by which I mean that it's a good idea only if there is a high level of oversight, regulation, and transparency. Companies will do what they can get away with to reduce costs and increase profitability. It's human nature. The only way to prevent it is to keep them under constant scrutiny. So I think that's a necessary condition for nuclear power to be a viable option.

29 August 2007

Huckabee and Brownback on Cancer

Lance Armstrong's cancer foundation held a Presidential debate on Monday. Of the Democrats, only Clinton, Edwards, Richardson, and Kucinich came. Only Brownback and Huckabee came from the Republican side.

This is the only debate I can recall not put on by the corporate media. It's worth noting for that alone. Since it discussed issues that would never show up in the typical debates, I thought it was worth posting some of what was said. I have to say that as I searched for articles, I discovered two things: First, the event seems not to have been covered very widely. Second, the only two articles I found were at TheHill.com and the Des Moines Register, and both discussed only the Republicans' comments.

Since that's all I found, here's what Brownback and Huckabee said:

Sen. Sam Brownback (Kan.) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, promised to rejuvenate a “war on cancer” as president, but disagreed over the need for a federal ban on smoking in public places.

Brownback restated his campaign pledge to end cancer deaths within 10 years through a "substantial increase" in federal money for research - as much as triple the current $6 billion - and likened his plan to President Kennedy's promise to reach the moon.

Huckabee committed to signing a nationwide smoking ban in public places, should such a measure win approval in Congress. Brownback said he would let states and local communities continue to control anti-smoking efforts.

[Huckabee] added that he would put more emphasis on preventing chronic illnesses, including cancer. The primary policy goal should be “universal health,” not necessarily universal healthcare coverage, he said.

28 August 2007

U.S. Open Men's Draw Analysis

Looking at the brackets, there is distinct possibility of some surprises at this year's Open.

Federer will run into trouble early when he meets John Isner in the 3rd round. Isner won the NCAA college championship at Georgia. He's a 6'9'' and hits aces pretty much every time. His 1st round victim, Jarko Niemenen, said Isner had the best serve he's ever seen.

I'm not a fan of players that win with cheap points, but the fact is that Isner could give Federer plenty of trouble. On the other hand, Federer beat Sampras, Philippoussis, and Roddick on grass so I guess if anyone can handle it, it's Federer. This should be one to watch. Mind you, it could be painful.

If Federer makes it past Isner, he'll meet Roddick in the QF. I presume he'll make sausage out of him as usual. In the SF he'll face either Blake or Davydenko. Blake has had a strong summer, but sometimes he's off his game whereas Davydenko is more consistent. I'm picking a Blake-Federer SF with Federer prevailing.

In the other half of the draw, the match to watch will likely be this weekend between Djokovic and Hewitt in the 3rd round. If this match isn't great, I'll be pissed. I'm picking Djokovic to win this and go all the way to the final, beating Youzhny and Nadal on the way. If Nadal goes out early, it will be to Tipsarevic in the 2nd or Tursunov in the 3rd. But I think he'll grind it to the semis.

The champion? A couple of weeks ago I picked Djokovic. I'll stick with that, but I'm less sure now that Federer seems to be his old self again.

24 August 2007

Brian May Receives PhD in Astronomy

No, I am not making it up...

Nearly 37 years after beginning work on his dissertation in astronomy at London’s Imperial College, the guitarist for Queen successfully defended his 48,000-word thesis, “Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud,” in a three-hour oral examination.

Impressive. I wonder what American rock guitarists are up to...

23 August 2007

Astronomers Discover Foreign Policy Metaphor in Outer Space

University of Minnesota astronomers have found an enormous hole in the Universe, nearly a billion light-years across, empty of both normal matter such as stars, galaxies and gas, as well as the mysterious, unseen "dark matter." While earlier studies have shown holes, or voids, in the large-scale structure of the Universe, this new discovery dwarfs them all.

"Not only has no one ever found a void this big, but we never even expected to find one this size," said Lawrence Rudnick of the University of Minnesota...


Northwest Ohio Pummeled by Rain, Flooding

Nine inches in 48 hours... that is a lot of water, and most of it is above ground right now.

From the VanWert Times-Bulletin:

Besides Van Wert County, the state of emergency is also in effect for Allen, Crawford, Hancock, Hardin, Putnam, Richland, Seneca, and Wyandot counties in northwestern Ohio... Altogether, 21 counties in Ohio have been affected by flooding and wind damage.

I remember the last Ohio River flood back in the early 90s. Serpentine Wall was entirely under water. I remember looking at it and seeing just the top of a flagpole sticking out from the water. Crazy.

The VanWertVoice has links to some videos of the current flood.

17 August 2007

Erin Burnett: Cuter When Quieter

I had to take a break from my delicious grilled chicken and vegetables to post this. I'm sure BlurgGurl would agree this surely deserves an AssHat Award:

The MSM... still in a holding pattern above Stupid, USA.

The Cincinnati Masters Report

What is going on at the Cincy Masters?

Novak Djokovic beats Federer in Montreal but loses here in the first round. Rafael Nadal, about as close to a machine as a human can get, gets heat exhaustion and retires in the first round. Andy Roddick fucks it up again and loses to a guy I've never even heard of. Roger Federer plays like crap but barely manages to beat Marcos Baghdatis, who plays even crappier.

Ah, yes, 100 degree tennis. Glad I gave up my ticket for today.

Thank you, James Blake, for giving us at least one match worth watching. And good luck against Sam Querrey (He'll need it... they played a few weeks ago and Querrey won, 7-6,6-7,7-6. At one point he served 10 aces in a row).

I don't know what's going on with Federer. The last time I saw him play well, it was 20 degrees outside. I can assure you that he'll be in big trouble at the U.S. Open, where his current "hanging in there" style will not get him a trophy.

Based on what I've seen this year, I'd pick Novak Djokovic for the U.S. Open title. And I think Lleyton Hewitt might surprise some people, too.

Getting the Lead Out

The news of lead in children's toys has been a hot topic recently. The adverse health effects of lead have been known for decades, so it's a bit puzzling that these stories still appear from time to time.

Regardless of the reasons why the problem still persists, the fact is that it still does and parents with young children need to be vigilant and take precautions. The neurological damage is irreversible.

For those who can use such information, here is an article that explains how lead can get into the home and how to prevent it.

16 August 2007

I Am not Making This Up

Imagine your task is to find someone to send to Iraq to help set up the country's legal system. Who is the least competent, most under-qualified, absolutely last, worst person you would choose for the job?

Gonzales arrived in Baghdad on Saturday, his third trip to the country, and met with Justice Department officials there to try to help build the country's legal system.

AP story...

Secondary Smoke Linked to Childhood Asthma

Childhood asthma (as well as other pulmonary problems) has been on the rise for decades. The cause, however, has remained something of a mystery.

Recently published research in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology puts forth damning evidence for cigarette smoking. Researchers analyzed data on cigarette use and asthma incidence over the past 100 years and noted parallel increases in both. Their conclusion:

We present one possible factor that may be contributing to the epidemic of childhood asthma. We hypothesize that (1) there has been a marked increase in smoking during the past century, (2) this increase in smoking has resulted in a substantial increase in exposure to environmental tobacco smoke among children, and (3) increased exposure to environmental tobacco smoke has contributed to the increase in childhood asthma.

A report in the August Infectious Diseases in Children adds:

Children breathe more air than adults and have narrower airways, so environmental tobacco smoke is a greater causal risk factor for asthma in children.

Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, especially in the home, increased a child's likelihood of developing asthma by 63%...

Smoking. It pollutes, it litters, it stinks, and it contributes to asthma in children. But it's a synonym for freedom, according to at least one person (and read those comments to see who hates our smokings).

14 August 2007

Does Cincinnati Need a Signature Tower?

That's the question posed at UrbanCincy. He makes the point that many great cities don't have a signature tower and that such a monument is not what makes a city great. Strictly speaking, Cincinnati does not need a signature tower.

I think one of the best things Cincinnati can do to make itself a world-class city (for those 3 or 4 of us who think about Cincinnati in such fantastic notions) is to focus on architecture and design across the whole city, not just a building or two downtown. A city characterized by great architecture is a city where people want to live, play, and visit.

Two words: Columbus, Indiana. If not for its notable architecture, this town would be nothing more than a place to stop for fast food on the way to IU. But its commitment to architecture and design makes it a regional attraction and brings in revenue consistently. You don't have to be a huge metropolis to have great architecture.

Three words: Paul Brown Stadium. Putting aside issues of boondoggling taxpayers, it's a great stadium. That's what I'm talking about. Imagine what the Banks could be if modern architecture were a priority. It could be the coolest urban development within 299 miles (since Chicago is 300 miles...).

Let's also remind ourselves that we have one of the best architecture and design schools in the country. It frustrates me that city government has repeatedly spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on east coast consultants rather than take advantage of top-tier resources right up the street.

Still like the signature tower idea? Check out MOMO's page on tall buildings. Very cool.

13 August 2007

Charter School Group Has History of Skirting Election Law

The Urbana Daily Citizen reports that Ohio's Secretary of State is looking into possible election law violations by All Children Matter, a pro-Republican PAC masquerading as a pro-charter school PAC masquerading as a pro-education group.

A Virginia-based national political action committee's transfer of $870,000 to an Ohio affiliate has caught the eye of Ohio's chief elections official.

Akron industrialist David Brennan, who also is president of the for-profit White Hat Management charter schools in Ohio and six other states, has given $200,000 since 2004 to All Children Matter, The Columbus Dispatch reported Sunday.

The Virginia group transferred $870,000 to an Ohio affiliate last year to help elect Republicans - the subject of a state election-law complaint.

Brunner's office says the Virginia PAC failed to register with elections officials in Ohio and did not file three required campaign finance reports in 2006. The Ohio group failed to make required changes to their finance reports and exceeded the limit that an Ohio PAC can accept...

All Children Matter was founded by Dick DeVos, the Michigan billionaire (Amway) and right-wing extremist.

A brief web search reveals that ACM has been in hot water over election law violations in both Missouri and Wisconsin.

In this case, the problem doesn't seem to be that the Virginia PAC transferred money to the Ohio PAC, but that it did so without registering as an Ohio PAC. As a result, it avoided PAC spending limits.

The hearing is scheduled for Aug. 23.

07 August 2007

Hormones vs. Homework

Sorry for the inconsistent postings recently. I have been hard at work on my new novel Deaf, Dumb, and Delicious about a time-machine accident in which Helen Keller's teacher Annie Sullivan swaps places with 1990s porn star Jenna Jameson.

I did come across a couple of interesting items (previous post and this one). From the Chronicle of Higher Education (Aug. 3) comes this interesting survey about sex and education (data is from the 1999-2002 National Health & Nutrition Examination Survey):

Percent of Americans 20 and older who have ever had sex, by education level:

All adults 95.9
Less than high school 91.8
High school 96.3
Beyond high school 97.0

Percent of Americans who were less than 15 yrs. old the first time they had sex:

All adults 15.6
Less than high school 27.2
High school 19.4
Beyond high school 10.4

Percent of Americans older than 21 the first time they had sex:

All adults 14.7
Less than high school 8.0
High school 8.6
Beyond high school 19.3

Local CEOs Pocket Perks-a-Plenty

The June 29 Business Courier has a good series on the compensation of local CEOs. Apparently one of the new trends in boardroom buttlovin' is the replacement of specific perks (cars, event tickets, club memberships) with cash (which has to be used for specific perks like cars, event tickets, and club memberships).

Here's a breakdown of some of the perks enjoyed by local execs:

Cincinnati Bell's Jack Cassidy (2006 compensation $3.8 million) received $35k for car, club dues, and legal/financial planning services.

Midland's John Hayden (2006 - $1.88 million) - $33k for financial planning, company aircraft, club dues, commuting, event tickets.

Meridian Bioscience's William Motto (2006 - $1.44 million) - $50k for "professional allowances" plus $19k for car.

Omnicare's Joel Gemunder (2006 - $13.4 million) - $60k for financial planning, $58k for car.

5/3rd's George Schaeffer (2006 - $4 million) - $95k for financial planning.

American Financial's co-CEOs Carl Lindner III and S. Craig Lindner (2006 - $10 million) - $400k for airplane services.

Macy's Terry Lundgren (2006 - $16 million) - 40% discount on store merchandise (totalling $48k).