April 2013
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Month April 2013

Free Energy: Solar and Dynamo LED Keychain Lights

Last year, one of the vendors at NESEA’s Building Energy conference (http://www.nesea.org/buildingenergy/) gave away a keychain fob, a little two LED hand crank light. This year, another vendor gave away three LED solar keychain lights. A few weeks later, I got another solar LED light as a giveaway from the MIT Energy Initiative. A little searching found where these promotional gifts are available in bulk: 1.61 @ per 5000 solar keychain lights http://promotionalproductsonline.com/products/Colored-Solar-Powered-LED-Keylights.html 1.32@ per 5000 hand crank keychain lights http://www.dhgate.com/top-50-pcs-lot-brand-new-2-led-mini-dynamo/p-ff80808133cfdac80134165da92c2e25.html#s1-1-1 I wonder what happens when these cheap sweatshop trinkets meet the necessary invention of the bottom billion and a third, billion and a half people who do not yet have access to reliable electricity. In 1988 I visited China. One evening, I walked out of the White Crane Hotel on Shamian Island and crossed the bridge into the city of Guangzhou. There I saw a line of men standing behind small folding tables in closed shop doorways. Coming closer, I saw that they were rebuilding and reselling plastic “disposable” lighters. I want a solar rechargeable reading light just as cheap, adaptable, and readily available as a disposable cigarette lighter. We need to make it possible for every child around […]

Meanwhile, confusion reigns in the 1st Suffolk race – UPDATE: it appears that Dorcena Forry has won, but no concession yet from Collins

The results on both sides of the Senate race seem pretty clear.  Not so, unfortunately, in the hotly-contested 1st Suffolk state Senate race.  As of now, AP has declared Nick Collins the winner (they show him with a 190 vote lead out of about 20,000 ballots cast, with 72 of 77 precincts reporting), but Gin Dumcius reports that Linda Dorcena Forry’s campaign is declaring victory. Stay tuned … if you hear anything, drop it in the comments, and I’ll update as necessary. UPDATE: Looks like AP may have really sh!t the bed by calling the race for Collins an hour ago.  The city’s website now has Dorcena Forry up about 300 votes with only two precincts outstanding. FURTHER UPDATE: As PaulSimmons notes in the comments, the city now says it has 100% of precincts reporting, and shows Dorcena Forry winning: LINDA DORCENA FORRY 10214 (47.00%) NICK COLLINS 9836 (45.26%) MAUREEN DAHILL 1593 (7.33%) However, the Collins campaign has announced that they will not concede the race tonight; presumably they want some time to study the results and determine whether the ballot screw-up could have had any impact on the results.

Lift Cap on Charter Schools!

Next week, Education Committee will hold a hearing on legislation allowing more charter schools to open in the state’s lowest performing districts. Boston Globe publishes column by prominent Democratic lawmaker – Sen. Barry Finegold – and former Akamai Technologies CEO – Paul Sagan – calling for the Legislature to lift the cap. Several urban communities are closed to new charters, leaving parents without the hope of having additional choices and leaving tens of thousands of children on wait lists. The bill also calls for various district reforms to allow superintendents to have more authority to turn around underperforming district schools. Both elements of the bill are critical to improving our public education system. Finegold’s bill is S.235 and it is co-sponsored by Rep. Russell Holmes – a Democrat from Mattapan – who filed H.425. Here is the link to the column: http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2013/04/30/podium-charter/Zj3eFgao1WOlMLrkQ2s5tJ/story.html.    

Duplicity collecting signatures for mayor

Today is the first day to collect signatures for candidates to get on the ballot for the Boston mayoral campaign in the fall.  While I was collecting signatures for Felix Arroyo, a fellow who was collecting for Dan Conley was telling people that they could sign more than one candidate’s papers.  I told him I didn’t think that was the case but he insisted it was fine. So, I called City Hall and spoke to two people in the Elections Department both of whom assured me that it’s just one signature per voter.  I told him this yet he insisted that they were wrong and continued telling people they could sign more than one sheet. Finally I pointed out that it says right on the signature sheet, “The undersigned does hereby certify that he or she has not subscribed to any other nomination petitions for said office.” Didn’t matter he said.  I asked him where he was from: Belmont.  And I learned that two other people had already told him this formality about Boston elections. So, Dan Conley, District Attorney for Suffolk County, has a Belmont campaign worker telling Boston voters falsehoods to get them to sign his papers. And […]

Public policy: passion and priorities

We’ve now had two weeks to come to terms with the Marathon Bombing and our collective reactions to it. I am particularly concerned about the response of the government and the mainstream mass media. I think it’s time we have a conversation about the role of passion and priorities in public policy. I would like to highlight three different episodes to contrast and compare with the Marathon Bombing. I suggest that each of the three arguably reveals a more important and more urgent failure of public policy. I want to explicitly include the treatment by the mainstream media — especially the Boston Globe — in this discussion. Here are the three other events I’d like to consider: 1. The NECC/Ameridose Scandal 2. The Massachusetts Drug Lab Scandal 3. This weekend’s fatal fire at 87 Linden Street in Allston. I suggest that each of these three reveals a far more significant failure of government. The death toll from the NECC scandal is 48 and counting. The drug lab scandal puts an enormous number of dangerous offenders back on the street. I believe the scale of that scandal betrays the eagerness of overly aggressive prosecutors to gain convictions at any cost. I […]

Best Supporting Actor – David Kravitz!

As I was cruising the internet for my daily culture fix, I stumbled upon the list of winners for last night’s IRNE Awards. A familiar name stood out: Best Supporting Actor (Musical) – SMALL COMPANY David Kravitz: The Mikado (Lyric Stage Company of Boston) Bravo, David! A note from the IRNE Facebook page explains that “[t]he Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNE) Awards were founded by Beverly Creasey of the Journal Newspapers and Larry Stark of the TheaterMirror in 1997. The IRNE Awards recognize the extraordinary wealth of talent in the Boston theatre community.”

AP: IT’S GOMEZ VS. MARKEY ON 6/25 (was PRIMARY DAY) – open thread

What did you see at your polling place?  What’s the word on the street?  Inquiring minds want to know… UPDATE (Charley): Well, I was definitely not expecting Gomez to clean up like he did. This should tell us that we need to be on our game. The general election is Tuesday, June 25. The time is now to start marking off chunks of our calendars to help get out the vote. Ed Markey is a great champion against climate change, for consumers, for the average person vs. our oligarchic politics of The-Rich-Shall-Inherit-The-Earth. He will be a terrific partner to Elizabeth Warren in the Senate — we will truly have the best Senate delegation in the US. Let’s bring it home.

23 Million Years of Data Per Year: Why The Surveillance State Cannot Meaningfully Assess Terrorism Risks

[Cross-posted at Digital Fourth] The NSA has just vigorously denied that their new Utah Data Center, intended for storing and processing intelligence data, will be used to spy on US citizens. The center will have a capacity of at least one yottabyte, and will provide employment for 100-200 people. With the most generous assumptions [200 employees, all employed only on reviewing the data 24/7, only one yottabyte of data, ten years to collect the yottabyte, 5GB per two-hour movie], each employee would be responsible on average for reviewing 4500 billion terabytes, or approximately 23 million years’ worth of Blu-ray quality movies, every year.   This astounding and continually increasing mismatch shows that we are well beyond the point where law enforcement is able to have a human review a manageable amount of the data in its possession potentially relating to terrorist threats. Computer processing power doubles every two years, but law enforcement employment is rising at a rate of about 7% every ten years, and nobody’s going to pay for it to double every two years instead. Purely machine-based review inevitably carries with it a far higher probability that important things will be missed, even if we were to suppose […]

Quick Note to Boston TV Stations on Bombing Replays

I was eating breakfast today while watching NECN’s morning show and all of the sudden the Marathon bombings were happening again in my living room in full surround sound. Quite a way to start the day. After 9/11, television news outlets quickly developed unofficial guidelines to avoid showing anything overly traumatic outside of the anniversary of the attacks. To this day, the planes, burning towers, and collapses (when shown at all) are shown in still images to minimize revisiting the post-traumatic stress on viewers. Is it time for television news outlets to put the bombing footage on the shelf except for the anniversary of the attack? What’s the purpose of replaying the horrific attack we’ve all seen over and over again? Do the replays inform us of anything at this point? I can’t speak for what other television stations are doing (I watch local television news as little as possible exactly because most of it – either by design or by effect – makes you scared to walk out the door). But if they’re not already, it’s a discussion news directors should be having with their staff. Donate to The One Fund

Joke Revue: Obama orders reinvasion of Iraq

Onion: Obama Orders Reinvasion Of Iraq After Illuminating Trip Through Bush Presidential Library DALLAS—After taking an “eye-opening” tour of the newly dedicated George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas Thursday, President Barack Obama reportedly ordered the United States military to reinvade Iraq. The president told reporters that the museum’s numerous displays provided illuminating information concerning the ongoing threat posed by Iraq and the necessity of re-deploying combat troops in order to bring stability and lasting democracy to the troubled country. “I have no doubt in my mind, after spending some time in Mr. Bush’s library and museum, that the United States simply must intervene in Iraq in order to temper volatility in the Middle Eastern region as a whole,” Obama said, noting that bombers and approximately 250,000 ground troops were currently en route to the Middle Eastern nation. “The way I now see it, we have a responsibility as Americans to create that kind of change and to lead the world by example.” “Though it will not be easy, our work in Iraq will ensure a better life for the Iraqis,” Obama continued. “And they will, I am confident, greet us as liberators.” Pointing to the array of […]