[Whose] Happy Holiday

Celebrate life, celebrate love, celebrate family; but, don’t believe everything you’re told about holidays.

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Homebuilding kit lets you assemble your own house – and then bury it


Ever since the first Lord of the Rings movie came out, people have been fascinated with the concept of having their own “hobbit home” – a quaint, vaulted house that sits beneath a covering of soil and vegetation. Building your own from scratch, however, could be rather challenging. That’s why Green Magic Homes is now offering prefabricated hobbit-like modular structures, that can be joined up to match buyers’ specifications. After that, you just add dirt and plants.

Besides looking neat and being cozy, earth-covered homes like these also offer a practical advantage – the soil covering provides excellent insulation, helping to keep the structure warm in winter and cool in the summer. The window and door arches protrude from the sides, so they won’t be covered when the soil is heaped on top.

Each Green Magic Home is made up of individual fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) arches, which are bolted together sort of like sections of a waterslide. These joined segments become different types of watertight rooms/modules, which can in turn be linked together to form various styles of homes – buyers can also mix and match modules as they wish…

The company’s latest module is the Wikiki, a 404-sq ft (37.5-sq m) unit that can serve as a “man cave,” guest cottage, art studio, or pretty much whatever you want. It reportedly takes three people three days to put it together, requiring no special skills or heavy equipment … although it’s not clear if that includes adding the soil and plants, known as a “living roof.”

Underground homes rock – as long as they’re reasonably waterproof. We have a few half-buried designs in our community. Seem to work out just fine.

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Appropriate holiday card

Thanks, Ursarodinia

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You’re more likely to be shot by a toddler than a terrorist

As we whip ourselves into a frothing frenzy over Islamic terrorists in the wake of the Paris attacks, 20 Democratic senators want us to address a far more pressing threat: Toddler-aged shooters.

That’s right, toddlers.

In October, Christopher Ingraham’s “Wonk Blog” in the Washington Post revealed that an alarming number of us are getting shot by toddlers who get their hands on guns that aren’t stored and secured properly. So far, there have been at least…52 toddler shooting incidents.

Meanwhile, in this year’s only Islamic terrorist attack in Chattanooga, Tenn., five died and two were injured.

In 2015 so far, at least 13 toddlers have inadvertently killed themselves with firearms, 18 more injured themselves, 10 injured other people, and two killed other people.

And those numbers only include toddler shooting incidents (by children ages four and under): Every Town USA reports a total of 238 gun injuries and deaths by kids ages 17 and under. It’s likely that the numbers are even more grim, as incidents involving children and guns often don’t get reported…

After reading Ingraham’s post, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) wrote a letter to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) demanding that we address toddler shootings with the same sense of urgency and the same level of resources we devote to “fighting terrorism.”…

In an appeal to her red state colleagues, Sen. Patty Murray also points out that toddler shootings occur as often in rural areas as urban ones. 19 other U.S. senators signed the letter, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Charles Schumer, and Kirsten Gillibrand. And of course they’re all Democrats.

Republicans and Blue Dog Dems aren’t just rabid nutballs. They’re also cowards afraid to confront the NRA.

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A little more research which says coffee drinking keeps you healthy — Hah!

In a study reported in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, people who regularly drank moderate amounts of coffee daily –less than 5 cups per day — experienced a lower risk of deaths from cardiovascular disease, neurological diseases, Type 2 diabetes and suicide.

The benefit held true for drinking caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, suggesting it’s not just the caffeine providing health perks but possibly the naturally occurring chemical compounds in the coffee beans…

The findings are based on data from three large ongoing studies: 74,890 women in the Nurses’ Health Study; 93,054 women in the Nurses’ Health Study 2; and 40,557 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study…

In general, people who frequently drank coffee were more likely to smoke and drink alcohol. To separate the effects of coffee from smoking, researchers repeated their analysis among never-smokers, and found that the protective benefits of coffee on deaths became even more evident…

The study was not designed to show a direct cause and effect relationship between coffee consumption and dying from illness. So the findings should be interpreted with caution, researchers said. One potential drawback of the study design was that participants were asked to report how much coffee they drank, however researchers found the assessment to be reliable.

I have been keeping in touch with studies like this for 45 years. Living on the road BITD, I drank a fair amount of coffee. And quit – once. A preliminary study at Harvard had indicated possible ties to pancreatic cancer. Scared me all right.

Then the study was completed and there was no correlation at all. Back to coffee and haven’t stopped since. :)

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This Pink Hoodie zips over your face making you calm. Uh-huh!

Click to enlarge

❝In the late 1970s, a researcher named Alexander Schauss discovered something interesting about the color pink. It was a very specific color of pink — a Pepto, bubblegum shade created by mixing a gallon of white latex paint with a pint of red semi-gloss outdoor paint. He was the director of life sciences at the American Institute for Biosocial Research in Tacoma, Washington, and deeply interested in the work of psychiatrist Max Luscher, who hypothesized that a person’s color preference hinted at their emotional state. Schauss was curious if the flip side of that hypothesis was true: Could looking at certain hues encourage physiological and emotional changes?

After years of (somewhat questionable) research, Schauss suggested that this very specific shade of pink could slow a test subject’s heart rate and even reduce a propensity for aggressive, violent behavior. He believed the color, called Baker-Miller pink, had a calming effect akin to what you might experience during yoga or meditation. How a color might do this is still debated. “I think it’s based on associations rather than physiology,” says NYU psychologist Adam Alter, who wrote a book, Drunk Tank Pink, that examines this phenomenon. “I’m open to being convinced otherwise, I just haven’t been yet.”…

❝Steve and Nick Tidball, twin brothers who are advertising creative directors and avid adventure sports athletes, started the company…The hoodie borders on obsessive in its dedication to designing for relaxation. The brothers knew they wanted to incorporate Schauss’ color theory to reduce heart rate, so they designed a hoodie with a mesh visor that gives a pink tint to everything you look at…But that’s only one part of the problem. “We started to think, how can design influence the way you breathe?” Tidball recalls. They designed the mesh visor so it naturally encouraged athletes to breath through the nose…which ultimately slows down the rate of respiration. And they retooled the hoodie’s pockets so that when an athlete sticks his or her arms into the holes, they’re cradled like a broken arm in a sling. “Essentially it’s like wearing a straight jacket,” he says. The idea is to discourage the wearer from exerting any more energy than absolutely necessary.

Sounds like a natural for the LAPD. Though – at $330 a pop – I think it more likely early production will go straight to the NSA/CIA/FBI. You and I get to pay for them.

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When the Texas of Canada elects a government committed to the environment…

The starting line for the tar sands boondoggle

Alberta is sometimes called the Texas of Canada. It’s home to one of the largest rodeos in the world, a respectable number of annual tornadoes, and a plethora of oil and gas reserves. Falling in the not-quite-so-Texas category: blankets of winter snow, the way they pronounce their vowels, and most recently, a tax on carbon emissions.

The tax, which goes into effect January 2017, will add a few cents onto every dollar spent on coal, oil, and gas. When formerly cheap fossil fuels are forced to compete on even economic playing field with renewables, the thinking goes, people will choose sustainable energy…

A US Energy Information Administration study shows that a carbon tax like Alberta’s could reduce CO2 emissions by as much as half by 2040 (bearing in mind that comparing Alberta to the entire US is not quite apples to apples). You might recognize this strategy—using money to shape your behavior—from taxes on cigarettes, booze, and Keno. Pretty simple, pretty darn effective.

Cap and trade, the other economic climate strategy, is kind of like an inverted carbon tax. Instead of using taxes to reach a certain emissions goal, economists begin by deciding the maximum amount of carbon emissions they’ll allow. That’s the cap. But let’s think of it more like a pie, because then the regulators slice it up and auction the pieces off to energy companies.

“Some people look at tax like it’s a dirty word,” says Yoram Bauman, the economist who crafted British Columbia’s carbon tax. But taxes have their benefit, too. Many investors prefer a carbon tax because it doesn’t fluctuate along with external market factors. That stability lets them make long term plans. It’s also good for smaller economies, which is why Finland chose to implement the first in 1990.

Of course, given the choice most energy companies would choose neither tax nor cap—they’d just keep thrashing the commons. But the Paris climate talks are looming, and most world governments have already committed to some sort of emissions cuts. Heck, even Texas might come around.

But, uh, don’t hold your breath. The Democrats in Texas ain’t winning much and they don’t come close to the New Democrats in Canada.

Posted in Earth, Environment, Government | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Photo essay – World’s largest solar farm

Click to enlargeMarcelo del Pozo/Reuters

Spain has made renewable energy a top priority. The government has paid over $76 billion in subsidies for clean energy projects since 1998.

And the investment has paid off: 42% of Spain’s electricity came from renewable sources in 2013, according to the country’s grid operator. The majority comes from wind power, but solar provided 13% of the country’s energy and is increasingly becoming a bigger part of the pie…

❝Spain is also home to the largest solar farm in the world, Andasol.

Here’s how Spain’s largest solar farm works — and why it could be a model for the future of energy around the world.

Click through to the article here. Lovely photos of the world’s largest solar farm.

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A Muslim Marine’s retort to Donald Trump


❝A former US Marine who inspired an online campaign by Muslim-Americans who oppose the idea of a religion-specific identification card says he’s had hundreds of messages of support from serving members of the US armed forces.

Tayyib Rashid’s post was prompted by remarks by Donald Trump, the presidential candidate who’s leading his Republican opposition. In a recent interview, Trump said that he’s open to the possibility of special security and surveillance measures targeting Muslims.

❝Rashid took a photo of his military ID and put it on Twitter along with a barb directed at Trump: “I’m an American Muslim and I already carry a special ID badge. Where’s yours?” Others soon began posting their own identification cards under the hashtag #MuslimID, which been used more than 10,000 times in the last three day

RTFA for many more responses.

I expect little or no truth-telling from these so-called debates from so-called Republicans.  The real shame is the cowardice of the journalists too candyass to challenge what they often know to be bald-faced lies.  I know they’re usually under orders from editors, network flunkies, to be polite at all costs.  That’s not what journalism is about, folks.

Backbone is part of the job description unless you think you signed-on to be a public relations flunky.

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Cartoon of the day

Kipling war

Same as it ever was.

Posted in History, Politics, Uncategorized, War | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment