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In all the coverage of Cronkite's death, I haven't seen any mention of Lizard Music, a young adult book by Daniel Manus Pinkwater. It's one of my favorite books, and the protagonist is a school kid who is Walter Cronkite's biggest fan.

There are a lot possibilities to the Walter Cronkite show. I used to try to get some of the other kids interest in it, maybe set up a Walter Cronkite fan club, but they didn't even take it seriously, and I got a reputation as a crazy.

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Sat Dec 20, 2008 at 08:48 PM PST

Biochar

by toedrifter

One concept which should be on the radar of Obama's new agriculture and technology directors is biochar. Scientists are studying the impact its potential for agriculture and combatting global warming. I've seen a few mentions of it over the last half year, but anything with the potential to help with our problems in both global warming and soil fertility should be getting more attention and funding than it seems to be generating.

Science Daily has a small vein of articles about it, the concept of adding charcoal to soil to improve it's fertility. I had previously read about biochar in a really good National Geographic article about soil, Our Good Earth, where the author uses the term "terra preta" (black earth). Basically, the concept comes from patches of human-made dark fertile soil in the Amazon, where fertile soil is supposedly impossible to create. Hundreds of years ago, people added tons of charcoal to the soil, in some places up to six feet deep, and the soil is still fertile today, in the same conditions where modern agriculture struggles to keep the soil fertile for five years.

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Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 06:32 PM PST

Wind is king, biofuels are bunk

by toedrifter

Politicians, scientists, and lobby groups who tout biofuels are trying to maintain the status quo of our current energy industry, rather than find the best options for powering our cars and homes. A new study by Marc Z. Jacobsen, a civil and environmental engineering professor at Stanford, finds that biofuels require too much infrastructure and produce too much pollution to compete with wind, water, and sun, and they end up at the bottom of the list when the major alternatives to fossil fuels are ranked for their effectiveness.

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Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 07:38 PM PST

Strip it and sell it for parts

by toedrifter

With apologies to whoever said it, the moral of the financial crisis was "Don't loan money to people who can't pay it back."  That goes for the auto industry as well as home borrowers.

Mitt Romney makes a similar point in his NY Times op-ed.

IF General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed.

Trying to stave off bankruptcies is like trying to avoid recessions, bad policy.  They're not pleasant, but they have to happen, and the longer you postpone them, the uglier they get.  

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Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 08:41 PM PST

California v. the Automakers

by toedrifter

So far I haven't heard much talk about the injustice of California taxpayer dollars being used to bail out an industry that has been fighting lawsuits against the state since 2004. In filing lawsuits against the state, the auto industry clearly showed its disregard for the interests or desires of Californians. That California now help support that industry seems offensive. Rather than bail them out, I would rather see that industry in Chapter 11 as an example--that companies should try to change their products rather than laws.

A timeline of the lawsuits can be read on the Union of Concerned Scientists website Automakers v. the People

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