Saturday, June 30, 2018

Why Didn't I Know That?

I read. A lot. I suppose you do too.

I watch MSNBC and CNN.  I look forward to Rachel but I often watch the whole line-up.  If there is a commercial, I flash over to CNN.

I listen to NPR almost every morning and afternoon.

And I spend a lot of time on the WEB, probably too much time.  I follow Talking Points Memo, The Huffington Post, Crooks and Liars, The Raw Story, Politicus, Politico, Think Progress and lots of other sites.

But I feel like I'm a little starved for the real stuff.  That's why I go to the Bill Moyer Russian investigation time line. And when I learn something there that isn't everywhere I wonder,  Why didn't I know that?

Like, Why didn't I know that Paul Manafort was partner with childhood friend Roger Stone way back in the dirty glory days of Nixon Republican politics.  And that when they weren't doing slimy campaigns with Republican operatives like Lee Atwater, they were doing slimy gambling casino work for a New York mafia connected developer named Donald Trump.

Why don't I know that the father of the former Russian Ambassador Kysliak, who was brought back to Russia last year after meeting with Trump campaign officials, was the head of the KGB for decades?

Why don't I know about Donald Trump's trip to Russia in 1987 when he was still married to the east European Ivana, and that the Russian government arranged and paid for the whole trip, including staying in the KGB Hilton right next to Lenin's tomb which has more bugs in it than an east Texas cottage without screens.

Why don't I know that Donald Trump's banker at Deutchebank is the son of a soon to be retired Supreme Court justice, who seems to have retired at the optimum political moment.

Why don't I know that 100s of millions of dollars in real estate sales of Trump properties were made to Russians for cash?

Why don't I know that Donald Trump used the New York Mafia to construct the Trump Tower, the home of Donald Trump and Paul Manafort.

And why don't we all know about Donald Trump's taxes?

And why don't all of us see that Donald Trump's positions to weaken NATO, offer money to Macron to leave the European Union, put tariffs on our allies and trading partners, add Russia back to the G8,  recognize Crimea as part of Russia, and generally do everything else are the signs of Russian puppeteer strings ?

We do know that over 20 of Trump's campaign officials have had contacts with Russian Agents before, during, and immediately after the campaign.

We do know that the Senate committee investigating Russian influence in the 2016 concurs with our Intelligence Agencies that the Russians worked to elect Donald Trump and to damage Clinton.

We do know that Russian agents broke into the National Democratic Party's computers and that those stolen emails were released by Wikileaks and that Roger Stone, Trumps meta-advisor knew of it before most. And we know they were released soon after the Trump pussy tape was revealed.

We do know that Trump is a serial liar.

We do know that Trump is racist.

We do know he was abusive to his first wife.

What I don't know, is

How is it that this Manchurian President gets to appoint another supreme court judge while under criminal investigation for collusion with a foreign power?

And why don't we all know that an illegitimate President 

cannot make legitimate appointments.

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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Texas Electric Transportation Resources Alliance

Here is the opening of the first Texas Electric Transportation Resources Alliance Newsletter.

Message from TxETRA Board Chair, Michael Osborne

About a year ago, I came to the conclusion that the time for a statewide electric transportation advocacy group was just about here.

Well, after a dinner in late October, a lunch in December, about 10 interim board meetings in Jan, Feb, and March, and a fabulous board meeting and founding reception at the Austin Club on April 6th, TxETRA was born.

Thank you to all of you who have helped make this happen. I'm especially grateful to Mark Kapner, Dale Bula, Joep Meyer, Cary Ferchill, Austin Energy, The Wind Coalition, Public Citizen, Janis Bookout of EarthDay ATX, and the Energy Foundation.  It goes without saying just how much rocket fuel our Executive Director, Tom "Smitty" Smith, has poured into this effort. We have also been blessed with the help of Stacey Abel, our Policy and Communications Director.

This spring alone, we have met or made presentations to ERCOT, LCRA, CPS, AECT, OMCOR, the Chairman of the PUC, Plug-in Texas, the National Alliance for Transportation Electrification, and a host of elected officials who will be critical to our effort in preparing Texas roads and infrastructure for the transportation transformation that is on the near horizon.

We are over 70 transportation professionals, utility execs, car and truck manufacturers, and academic thinkers, along with electric owners and activists who want to work together to shape the future.

Our Mission is to guide and accelerate the adoption of electrical transportation in all its forms in the most cost effective way providing maximum benefit to the Citizens of Texas.

If you haven't yet joined us, I hope you will.

Please enjoy the 4-minute video (below) from our TxETRA Launch on April 6th where we were joined by Phil Jones, Executive Director of the national Alliance for Transportation Electrification, Austin Mayor Steve Adler, and a host of other distinguished leaders who are applauding our efforts.

Our Executive director Tom Smith says it well:

"We are at the frontier of developing new ways of transporting ourselves across Texas and we need your help to make it happen. Electrified transportation is growing rapidly all over the world because it lowers operating costs and reduces emissions, while creating new business and manufacturing opportunities.

It’s already cheaper to own and fuel an electric vehicle - and it will be cheaper to buy an electric vehicle by 2025. The transformation in how we transport ourselves is largely being driven and developed in Asia and Europe, and so the change will occur with or without policy changes in the U.S.  How Texas responds will determine whether we are in the driver’s seat or in the back of the bus.

As battery technology continues to evolve at lightning speed, people are turning to electric vehicles for health, environmental and economic reasons. Moreover, a recent AAA customer survey revealed that 20% of American drivers indicated that their next car would be an electric vehicle. We believe it is our responsibility to put the infrastructure in place to be ready for this future that is racing quickly toward us."

Yesterday I drove my "S" to San Antonio to see a dear friend who had just received a new set of LUNGS at University Hospital.  Going to the other side of SA on a 102 degree day made the 85 mile drive a 105 mile drive with the Air Conditioner going strong.  With my 235 mile range, that made the return trip a little close, so I stopped at the super convenient super charger in San Marcos behind the outlet mall at mile marker 200 on Centerpoint road. I had about 60 miles left.

I plugged in and watched through the window as the charge took hold. As it reached 200 KW,  I walked off to the POLO shop.  In 15 minutes or so, I bought a new Ralph Lauren sport coat and came back to a car with 180 miles of charge.

Going electric is different.  And you don't realize what a healthy luxury it is to NEVER stop at a nasty, stinking, oil soaked gas station again...until you experience it.

You can even get a little shopping done.

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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Patient Zero

My contribution to EARTH DAY

The Texas Chronicle
April 22, 2038
by Max Stamp

Few took notice of a story back in 2016 when a team of Japanese scientists sifting through plastic waste found bacteria capable of breaking down and “eating” one of the world’s most popular plastics ― polyethylene terephthalate, or PET. It was hailed as a potential breakthrough at the time.

But in a new twist, British and American scientists have announced that while studying this bacteria, they accidentally created a mutant enzyme that’s even more efficient at breaking down plastic bottles.

The discovery came as a team of scientists from the University of Portsmouth in the U.K. and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in the U.S. examined an enzyme produced by the Japanese bacteria to find out more about its structure. By shining intense beams of X-rays on it, 10 billion times brighter than the sun, they were able to see individual atoms. Manipulating the structure to better understand how it worked, they accidentally engineered the mutant enzyme.

It was seen as a great opportunity to begin to break down the swirling bogs of bottles and plastic sacks that were beginning to become problematic in our oceans and waterways.

So in the spring of 2022, with great fanfare, implementation of the Clean Oceans Project began.  A large fleet of tankers moved into the south Pacific where a large accumulation of pollution had grown to several thousand square miles.  Tanker ships from all over the world participated in the global effort to help eliminate one of the greatest legacies of over a hundred years of affordable and plentiful oil supplies.

Millions of tons of the now mutated bacteria was released by Dow, BASF, and even ExxonMobil. Virtually every shipper of global oil supplies participated in the effort to clean our oceans from our reckless indifference towards them.  Within a few months, the results were encouraging.  The mass of bottles and plastic sacks began to decompose at a rapid rate and then fall deep into the ocean where it would further decompose and become relatively harmless to ocean marine systems.

The combined scientific panel at the United Nations (IGPOO) published a preliminary report declaring the initiative a scientific success and recommended that other trouble spots in the Indian Ocean be treated with the same protocols.

The world scientific community was almost giddy with success.

Then late in 2026, an odd report came out of Saudi Arabia. Even though Saudi reserves were still quite strong, production from the Kingdom dropped about 10% from 9 million bpd to a little over 8 mbpd.

It seemed that some of their older wells and especially the mighty Garwar area had seen its fine quality crude  become more tarlike and more difficult to pump and to refine. One area was closed off completely and was reportedly quarantined.

The next year, production in the Saudi oil fields again declined but they also declined in Azerbaijan. Production in Qater was off.  Then in 2028, the price of Brent crude  ticked up from 90.00 dollars a barrel to $120.  This was the highest price seen in the markets since the 2014 oil price collapse.

The next year production went down everywhere, including Russia and in the US, and prices increased again to $140.00; as they would for the next 10 years, closing this year at $240.00.

It seems that when the over 300 tankers used in the UN's Clean Ocean Project went back to work moving oil from one point on earth to the next,  they took in sea water for ballast after delivering the jacked up bacteria to the south Pacific experimental operation and the other sites. When they arrived at the oil terminals, the ships discharged that bacteria tainted water into the waterways of every major oil channel on earth, thus infecting the earth's oil producing facilities with uncanny epidemiological precision.

The mutant bacteria, hungry to eat even more hydrocarbon chains mutated again as it prospered in the polluted oilways of Earth's petrochemical complex. How it got upstream into the oil reserves themselves is still a mystery.  It's as if the bacteria knew where the oil was. Some speculate that climate change activists somehow engineered the entire event.

Whether brought about through serendipity, stupidity, or guile, the events that have transpired are breathtaking in their influence on human culture. Global oil reserves within a decade became unavailable.

Because of the high price of oil and the reduced price of advanced electric transportation, coupled with the continued reductions in price of solar cells and wind power, renewable powered state of the art EV's became ubiquitous.  In many cities and countries, laws and milestones to outlaw internal combustion engines were met years ahead of schedule.

But not only have most cars and trucks become electric drive vehicles, the vast majority drive themselves.  This has led to a 50% reduction in vehicles on the roads with all new highway projects canceled or deferred. Many deliveries are handled through small delivery bots and drones.

The air in Bejing is now better than Boulder's.

The transition that occured in the blink of an eye in the early 1900's as human kind moved from horses to horsepower was reversed in another wink of an eye in this century because of bacteria.

Oil reserves were simply too thick to remove as they became tar pits.

For the first time in 150 years, parts per million of CO2 have actually dropped from 450 ppm to 448 as the Earth has grown a beard of carbon life.  It's projected that our carbon molecule needs for fiber and construction will come from these renewable stores of carbon.

As if some alien smart bomb went off, humankind moved from a culture of consumption to a new age of wisdom and opportunity.

Or maybe Mother Earth simply decided to take our gasoline away.

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Friday, March 30, 2018

Transportation Transformation

Sometimes, in the spirit of blogging about things that are bigger than the parts, I seem to forget to simply share what I'm doing in my own world and life.  When I blogged everyday 14 years ago, it was not only easy but essential to talk about my projects.  With my reduced blogging schedule over the last 5 years, a lot of that has gone by the wayside.

But last night, as my mind was rolling like a bowling ball down an Olympic bobsled course, I realized that my current project deserves a little attention.

I've been working on it steadily since early last fall and it's coming together.

Last fall at the TREIA conference in Georgetown when Al Gore spoke, I invited several dozen folks to dinner.  At that dinner , we agreed to meet before the end of the year to kick off the new project.

My November letter said:

Dear Colleague:

Several months ago,  (OK it's been almost a year) it occurred to me that the time for a state wide organization to promote electric transportation is just about here.

With announcements coming from existing car manufacturers of their intentions to move their product lines toward electric drive,  and with whole nation states like China, India, and France announcing timetables to end combustion engines within their boundaries and cities, the message is not just on the wall, it's on the jumbo-tron.

In the mid-eighties, a group of us started the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association.  We knew back then that the time for Renewables was on the horizon. Today we have over 20 GWs of Renewable Energy  in Texas alone!  And it will soon be approaching 30 GWs.

And now it's time to begin to use that energy in our transportation sector.

In late October, I hosted a vision dinner in Georgetown to  introduce TxETRA  at the Al Gore TREIA conference.  About 40 folks attended. And from that meeting, about a dozen folks showed interest in making this happen.  I have also chatted with several dozen industry folks who also want to help make this a reality.  So, I am enclosing a very basic Power Point of the concept, our constituency, and our mission.

I have reserved TxETRA as an org, net, and tech. And if we don't like it, we can change it.

I am proposing that we schedule a preliminary organizational lunch meeting at the Austin Club in early December with a goal to convene the first organization meeting in early February.

You can help by sending me your suggestions for other groups and individuals we will need to make this happen.

Have a good turkey day



We met in December and created an interim board of directors.  With that board, we built up a good mailing list and began to meet over the last three months.  In the meantime, I got the corporate documents together and put together the TxETRA web site,

Then, in February, we made contact with a guy named Phil Jones.  He was a utility commissioner from the state of Washington and for a while was the president of  NARUC, a national organization for utility commissioners.  Interestingly, he was doing the same thing we were doing, but at the National level.

Also during this time, Tom Smith, the 31 year veteran executive director of Public Citizen asked if he could become the interim executive director.  Smitty and I have worked together for years, so this was not just music to my ears, it was a symphony.

Then we brought in Janis Bookman, the Earthday lady in Austin, who has a lot of contacts and expertise.

Now we are inviting folks to the Founding Meeting and Reception on April 6th at the Austin Club.

We have put together a board consisting of utility execs, transportation professionals, car and truck manufacturers, transmission companies, and academic heavy weights for UT and Texas A and M.  And thanks to Smitty we have folks who can represent the important equity issues that must be considered.

And thanks to a unique mixture of corporate, private, and foundation commitments, we will have the funding to hire a communication director.

We're hoping for a good crowd at the Austin Club.

Mayor Adler is coming and so is County Commissioner Brigid Shea.

And our guest speaker will be Phil Jones.

Sometimes things come together.

And the Texas Electric Transportation Resources Alliance is almost a thing.

And it needs to be.

Henry Ford built 500 cars in 1905.

He built 500,000 in 1915.

Elon Musk is on the same trajectory.

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Condition Red

In today's political landscape, we all seem to agree that the Democrats are blue and the Republicans are red.  If a state votes for the R's most of the time, it is a Red state.  If it's Democratic, its a Blue state.  If it's a tossup, its purple.

But it has not always been this way.  In fact it has only been this way for 18 years.  It all started and then crystallized in the Bush v Gore election, and even that year, one network still had the R's as blue.  There's a good history on it from the Washington Post, but this comes from Wikipedia:

"The choice of colors reverses a long-standing convention of political colors whereby red symbols (such as the Red Flag or Red Star) are associated with left-wing politics, and right-wing movements often choose blue as a contrasting color.[5] Indeed, until the 1980s, Republicans were often represented by blue and Democrats by red. The current terminology of "red states" and "blue states" came into use in the United States presidential election of 2000 on an episode of the Today show on October 30, 2000.

According to The Washington Post, the terms were coined by journalist Tim Russert, during his televised coverage of the 2000 presidential election.[6] That was not the first election during which the news media used colored maps to depict voter preferences in the various states, but it was the first time a standard color scheme took hold; the colors were often reversed or different colors used before the 2000 election. (clip)

In the days following the 2000 election, whose outcome was unclear for some time after election day, major media outlets began conforming to the same color scheme because the electoral map was continually in view, and conformity made for easy and instant viewer comprehension. On Election Night that year, there was no coordinated effort to code Democratic states blue and Republican states red; the association gradually emerged.

Thus, red and blue became fixed in the media and in many people's minds, despite the fact that no official color choices had been made by the parties.[20]

Some Republicans argue the GOP should retain its historic link with blue, since most center-right parties worldwide are associated with blue. On March 14, 2014, the California Republican Party officially rejected Red and adopted Blue as its color."

But California is blue. And Democratic to boot.

Tradition would have the  Commies to be Red.  Red Dawn.  Red alert. Better dead than red. The Republicans demonized them. But the real Reds died in 1991 when the USSR collapsed.

From the Atlantic:

"On December 25, 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as president of the Soviet Union, declaring the office extinct and dissolving the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), a massive communist empire that had existed since 1922.

 By December of 1991, 16 Soviet republics had declared their independence, and Gorbachev handed over power to Russian president Boris Yeltsin, ending the USSR."

And now Russia is run by a super wealthy Oligopoly that took the Nation's riches and privatized them in the hands of a few.  The Reds of Russia are no longer left but far right.

And we doubt or find it hard to understand why these Reds would support the far right red oligopoly party of the USSA?

And that they will do their best to make 2018 another red year?
And that our Rs will help them again?

Condition Red. 










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Monday, January 15, 2018

The Contents of our Consciousness

It's hard not to like MLK day.

There are no gifts to buy, no food to cook, no costumes to wear.

If you are lucky, you get to hear some of the greatest speeches ever made.

But this year, it's hard to  enjoy what has been my favorite holiday for years.


Well, to state the obvious, we have evolved to a point where the  political leadership in the USSA can no longer even help themselves.  They have become what they have exploited.  In exploiting the fear of dark skinned peoples, they have become white supremacists.  In exploiting the Christian belief in the sacred nature of  birth,  they have become thieves of woman's rights.  In exploiting fear of the future, they have become merchants of a very dark future where climate change is ignored and global unrest grows.

Today, there are parades celebrating a great man, while another much lesser man plays golf at his white golf club.

My somewhat asymmetric response is entitled "The Contents of our Consciousness."

It's the quick story and philosophical framework of another great man,  
J Krishnamurti

"Folks: It's time to evolve ideas. You know, evolution didn't end with us growing thumbs. You do know that, right? Didn't end there. We're at the point, now, where we're going to have to evolve ideas. The reason the world is so fv(ked up is we're undergoing evolution. And the reason our institutions, our traditional religions, are all crumbling, is because ... they're no longer relevant. They're no longer relevant. So it's time for us to create a new philosophy and perhaps even a new religion, you see. And that's OK 'cause that's our right, 'cause we are free children of God with minds who can imagine anything, and that's kind of our role." Bill Hicks


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Monday, December 04, 2017

The EcoNuclear Brink

Image result for pale blue dot
(The Pale Blue Dot inside the circle is Earth as seen by Voyager 1 space probe leaving our solar system)

"Today, science has brought all the different quarters of the globe so close together that it is impossible to isolate them one from another.

Today we are faced with the preeminent fact that, if civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships—the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together and work together, in the same world, at peace."

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, April, 1945

At this time in our journey, it is important for the human species to understand who we are and where we are on the map

We are primates, designed to live in extended family groups, like other primates who gather and hunt. We live in 5 kilometers of breathable air in a twenty kilometer wide life space delicately painted onto our planet. 

Several thousand years ago, we started recording our history.  Since then a lot of very complex culture and technology has happened. 

Many species outgrow their environment's ability to support them, a species
pincer point, at which time a species either collapses or becomes completely extinct. 

We have developed two unique, looming species pincer points.  At any second, our life as we know it could end in an intentional or unintentional nuclear annihilation.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking, and we are grinding toward catastrophe due to climate change

It is a fundamental error in planning for our survival to view these threats as separate. 

Please think about this. 

Does the collapse of human civilization due to climate change make intended or unintended use of nuclear weapons less or more likely? 

The traditional nuclear weapons understanding of Mutual Assured Destruction is a system, just like our communication services.  Does the nuclear destruction system become less or more unstable, as other systems fail?

As the mouse begins to starve, does the cheese on the trap become less or more dangerous? 

Countless actions by countless human beings over thousands of years have led us to The EcoNuclear Brink.

We did not plan our potential doom, but we did create it.

This is where we are on the map of our survival.

We have made our home here very small and unsafe, and we don't have much time to use what we have learned about ourselves to save ourselves.  We do not have much time to build the truly respectful human society that will help us survive this era. 

Respectism is the belief that a respectful society is a pragmatic necessity for survival.

Advertise respect for self, others and place.

Respectfully keep the abusive from power.

Promote fair dealing to back away from the brink.

We should start now.

Love is the soul of respect, and respect is the language of love.

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