December 21, 2007

TV Debris


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Before you rush out to buy the family a high definition 50" TV for Christmas

Consider the following:

A 42-inch plasma TV can consume more electricity than a full-size refrigerator even if you use it only a few hours a day.

According to the BBC you'll increase your carbon footprint

In terms of carbon emissions, the EST says old-style TVs produce 100kg of climate-warming CO2 per year - while larger, plasma screens (there are no small plasma TVs) will pump out 400kg.....

And disposing of the unwanted CRT televisions is going to be a challenge in itself - with an anticipated 70 million old-style sets to be dumped by the end of the decade.

Engadget predicts that energy costs from TV's will increase by 50% in the next four years, while we're hardly noticing.

Then there's the question of compromising brain development in children with a room- sized, more intrusive, high definition screen.

In 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended no screen time at all for babies under 2, out of concern that the increasing use of media might displace human interaction and impede the crucially important brain growth and development of a baby's first two years. But it is a recommendation that parents routinely ignore. According to Kaiser, babies 6 months to 3 years old spend, on average, an hour a day watching TV and 47 minutes a day on other screen media, like videos, computers and video games.

"These new media toys are growing and becoming quite prevalent," said Claire Lerner, a child-development expert at Zero to Three, a nonprofit advocacy group that includes information about brain development on its Web site. "This generation of parents grew up thinking technology was all positive, so if they see their child looking happy, engaged with what's on the screen, it's very seductive. But a group of toddlers making up a story together is a much richer learning experience than dragging things across a screen to make a story. Children learn best in the context of relationships."

Oh darn -- you already bought it? Well just send it back.

Photo note: The dump, with droll three dimensional commentary by the DPW

Posted by Dakota at 06:36 AM

December 20, 2007

A Paperless Christmas Greeting


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Merry Christmas! That is, if you're celebrating.

In lieu of chopping down even more trees than the evergreens already sacrificed for pagan ceremonial purposes, we have compiled a compendium of jolly Christmas on-line activities, which you can view after the mall closes.

First, a bit of holiday acappella

Now prepare yourself for an important educational experience, which regular Dakota readers will have to suffer through for a second time. It will take twenty minutes, which you probably don't have right now, but when you do, "The Story Of Stuff "is a fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world."

If you got through all that "Stuff", reward yourself with a look Mr. Bean's Christmas

And here's a how-to list - for those of you with Christmas questions

A llittle something for the mechanically inclined

For mothers

For cat lovers

Or perhaps you'd rather just elf yourself

We will be partaking of the baths and pastries of Budapest for the holidays, thus blowing our entire carbon allocation for the year 2008, which we hope will be a healthy and happy one for all of you.

Good wishes from all of us here at Dakota

Photo Note: Santa hanging by a thread

Posted by Dakota at 07:25 PM

December 17, 2007

Tis the Season - Flu Season, That Is


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A couple of days ago I received this avian flu alert in my email from an online drugstore as part their tamiflu promotion. In addition to Asia, West Africa has an outbreak in the poultry population, made more ominous due to the voodoo practice of drinking chicken blood.

There are new human cases in Indonesia, Vietnam, and China, and it looks like Pakistan has more than one bomb we need to worry about.

From the comments at Effect Measure, where we always turn for accurate public health information:

Pakistan, a human cluster in a remote, low-intensity war zone, an ungovernable (but not uncommunicated) area, a very powerful national poultry lobby, an authoritarian central government--formula for disaster. Political unrest in both of these locations makes good public health measures hard to institutute.

The politically turbulent, repressive Myanmar reported it's first death too, with much positive reinforcement from WHO. However, Revere notes:

But there is a curious coda to the WHO news story (a story WHO clearly wanted told, so we assume they also want this part told, too). Cordingly observes that flu season was upon us, that birds got the flu, too, even before humans, and because of wild bird migration and human caused poultry movement (legal and illegal) bird flu will continue to spread unless ... unless what?

"This virus will continue. We cannot fight it on a public health front, it depends on how farmyards and chickens are raised and that is a long-term fight," he said.

What's the take home lesson here? What does it mean to say we "cannot fight it on the public health front"? Vaccines for humans and poultry are surely weapons on the public health front. More importantly, however, public health and social service systems are the public health front. I would think an essential message here would be that along with trying to stop a pandemic emerging from the current panzootic of avian influenza, an effort that is likely to fall short, we should be preparing for the consequences of a pandemic.

That means turning our attention to the global, national and local public health front. Or am I missing something?

Here's an up to date disaster preparedness report. If any of you were caught for hours in traffic because of the snowstorm in Boston last week, consider it a grim preview of the possibility of evacuating a major city in the face of a disaster more ominous than ten fluffy inches of non toxic snow.

Photo note: Light on bird

Posted by Dakota at 07:09 AM

December 16, 2007

Shovel Weary


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I have spent the last eight hours, when not removing many inches of 90 lb. per square foot snow from the various staircases, walkways, terraces and labryinths on the property, compiling my egreenchristmas card. It's still not finished, due to the severe weather conditions. Along the way I found a petite collection of videos to brighten up this otherwise bleak afternoon.

May I introduce Mrs. Hughes, as herself, and John Roberts, playing what has to be his own mother in "The Phone Call"

Photo note: Bleak, don't you think?

Posted by Dakota at 11:22 AM

December 15, 2007

Expression, However Shoddy


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green house
red berries

off kilter
out of focus
oh well

at least
we slapped
it up

at last


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Posted by Dakota at 07:15 AM

December 11, 2007

The Prius Disappointment


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You haven't heard much about my new Prius, have you? Even though the new Consumer Report survey says that Prius owners have the highest customer satisfaction, I personally am pretty disappointed.

If I'm lucky, I get 28 miles to the gallon which wouldn't be bad if the damn thing hadn't been advertised as 61mpg in the city and 51 on the highway. This may be due to my "bad driving" -- but could that really account for a thirty mpg difference? I blew up the tires and always make sure to keep the AC off, since it turns on spontaneously with a multitude of other buttons -- that isn't difficult , since it's 25 degrees outside.

Buying a 2008 Prius was the next best right thing to do, rather than the really right thing which would have been giving up a car altogether. I do feel that I have made a some significant sacrifices by chosing this auto, the worst of which is the terrible visibility in the back and the two semi blind spots on either side. If it's not too sunny, the compensatory back up camera shows you large living things that you may be about to squash with your rear wheels. However, it distorts the space by about 15 feet, which leaves you to parallel park by ear. I also miss my trunk, but not that much.

I had occasion to ride with the heir to my old Camry. I felt like I was on a visibility prairie, rather than in a one room third floor walk up in a four floor building in the city at the end of a dark alley facing the air shaft.

Oh I sound so grumpy, Esther Hicks would be ashamed of me. Okay the Prius handles well, is comfy and peppy enough for a little old lady. It also makes a great background for a leaf shot.


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Photo note: The Prius in autumn

Posted by Dakota at 06:42 AM

December 06, 2007

The Story of Stuff


Skip the

your time
The Story of Stuff

then email
it to all
your friends
with a

Photo note: Jewel from the dump - extracted from a heap of discarded consumer goods forty feet high, covering a square acre

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in context

Posted by Dakota at 08:09 AM

December 05, 2007

Surprise, No Nukes


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It was quite a press conference yesterday. Pretty Perky Pompous Presumptuous Pernicious Dana Perino, was displaced at the podium by the President himself. He had a big news doody to drop, which he usually does of a Friday. Guess what! Iran hasn't had any nukes since 2003. You can watch the whole performance if you have the stomach, or simply skip to the end where he gets petulant.

Dan Froomkin of the Washington Post was there, and has transcribed the grand finale for all of us, in a piece entitled "Neck Snapping Spin from the President".

But to hear Bush talk about it at the White House press conference this morning, the new NIE vindicated his beliefs and makes his warnings about Iran more potent.

It was neck-snapping spin even by Bush standards. He intentionally misread the report's central point, failed to acknowledge a huge change in his argument for why Iran is dangerous and exhibited pure bullheaded stubbornness.

When Chicago Tribune reporter Mark Silva noted that Bush appeared dispirited and asked if he was troubled about what this would do to his credibility, Bush replied: "No, I'm feeling pretty spirited, pretty good about life, and have made the decision to come before you so I can explain the NIE. And I have said Iran is dangerous, and the NIE doesn't do anything to change my opinion about the danger Iran poses to the world. Quite the contrary. I'm using this NIE as an opportunity to continue to rally our colleagues and allies. . . .

"And so, you know, kind of Psychology 101 ain't working. It's just not working, you know? I am -- I understand the issues. I clearly see the problems and I'm going to use the NIE to continue to rally the international community for the sake of peace."

Help me remember... did they cover Korsakoff's syndrome, sociopathy and/or psychotic delusion in Psych 101? Maybe at Yale.

Why even Dancing David Gregory got a little rambunctious with the cocky rancher.

Undetered by truth, the usual Republican hate mongers were spinning their usual tales. John Bolton, Norman Podhoretz and Bill O'Reilly rushing to the President's support, rallied round and demonstrated a phenomenon which we all learned about in Sociology 101 -- at Yale.

Whereas Seymour Hersh and other members of the press who feel compelled to report reality told the truth.

Rudy and Mike Huckabee found that they had to do a little ad tweaking.

Hooray for our new chief of intelligence, if this was his doing.

Photo note: Notice something fishy behind the faded, limp and tattered American flag, flying next to the light and shadow - it must be a metaphorophoto

Addendum #1: Josh Marshall summarizes
Addendum #2: Former CIA officials call the claim that Bush wasn't privy to the information about Iran's nukes "preposterous".
Addendum #3: Pretty Perky Dana P says Bush was told in August, but feels there's no contradiction to Bush's baldfaced lie
Addendum #4: Dan Froomkin analyzes Bush's subtle language changes since August
Addendum #5:

December 01, 2007

Rumors Flying


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Even though it took us eight years to awaken, the media tactics of the right are becoming clear to all of us here at Dakota, so we thought we'd pass them along, since this week's news has been bursting with good examples.

In his infamous address to the Washington Press Club, Steven Colbert (oh, we miss you so) clarified:

But, listen, let's review the rules. Here's how it works: the president makes decisions. He's the Decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put 'em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know - fiction!

Once the lie is published, it can be blithely quoted as the truth, or the "balancing opinion", which feeds the process of "swiftboating" -- though everyone does not see swiftboating as a despicable activity.

This week Glenn Greenwald and friends held columnist Joe Klein's feet to the fire for his "wildly inaccurate" reporting of the new FISA legislation in Time. You can read all of Greenwald's excellent entries on the subject, or, if your attention span is limited, Dan Gillmor's fine summary of the events in which Time's editors refused to correct their errors, even when contradicted by the author of the legislation.

And again this week the Washington Post recirculated the rumor that Obama is a Muslim. Cartoonist Tom Toles took on his own paper for this travesty

As if that wasn't bad enough, the Washington Post printed the whopper that Karl Rove told on national TV blaming Congress for the war in Iraq. Our question is why the hell are discredited people like Rove given airtime on national TV anyway, or Ann Coulter or John Bolton?

In a short but pithy parody entitled "Modern Journalism" Atrios writes:

In the original version of this story, Joe Klein wrote that the House Democratic version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) would allow a court review of individual foreign surveillance targets. Republicans believe the bill can be interpreted that way, but Democrats don't.

Democrats believe that Rick Stengel ( and Mickey Kaus have regular threesomes with a goat, while Republicans believe Mickey has a strictly monogamous relationship with his goat.

For a very short time, Rick Stengel's Wikipedia entry contained the fact that he had 32 convictions for child molestation, but the Wikipedia editors took care of that swiftly, unlike some paid editors we know.

Have heart, the New York Times came through and finally did some good fact checking on Guiliani's misrepresentations. Let's hope this is a trend.

Photo note: Scattered to the wind -- a metaphorophoto since the leaves are being blown by a reverse vacuum in the hands of an unseen agent. The shadow of the battle hatchet in the left corner is really just the single leaf left on my poor basil plant on the kitchen windowsill, but it serves nicely.

Posted by Dakota at 08:15 AM