An anniversary and an iCar

February 20, the day of my birth. That’s right, I made it another year! And while grats are great and a poor guy like me would never turn down a birthday shekel or two sent to my paypal lifeline using Darksydothemoon/at/aol-dot-com, what I’d really like someday is an nice, iCar! In that vein, as oil prices edge higher amid growing Middle East tension and US fossil fuel production grapples with price volatility and safety concerns, one entrepreneur has offered up a possible, intriguing new piece of what our future, collective energy solution might look like:

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, announced Wednesday that the company is working on a new kind of battery that would be used to power homes. Based on Tesla’s lithium-ion battery technology, the new battery is expected to help the company become a leader in the growing home energy-storage market.

At this moment, many solar or wind-powered homes have to remain on a the grid because there has not been a way to store extra power for lean hours. If given a relatively cheap and reliable battery to hold the power needed, building off-grid in the country will become commonplace …

Generation capacity in alternative energy including solar has grown dramatically over the last decade or two. But longer term storage of energy in general remains an issue for designers. Especially in places like this week’s wintery Northeast, where peak energy consumption often coincides with lower levels of alternative production and traditional distribution headaches.

But when it comes to cars and batteries, Musk is not the only one pursuing next generation technology:

New reports suggest that Apple is developing an electric and possibly driverless iCar to rival Google and Tesla. Apple are poaching Tesla employees with Elon Musk admitting Apple are offering a $250k signing bonus and a 60% pay increase. There have also been sightings in the US of Apple registered cars with some interesting tech attached to them.

US support for ground war ticks up

Isis

Graeme Wood at The Atlantic has posted a powerful, comprehensive introduction to ISIS which reviews the nascent movement’s recent history, stated goals, and current status. It is highly recommended for anyone with even casual interest, and especially to those concerned we may we well be in the middle of a real war here shortly. The short cliff-note version is that ISIS is a real brand of fundamentalist Islam working to bring ancient values, from over a thousand years ago, in to all aspects of their modern culture culminating in a war of civilizations. The final battle — or one of the final battles — will occur near a Syrian town near the Turkish border, where Jesus Christ himself will ride to the rescue of the good Islamic guys and join the fight against the evil might of vast Roman armies: [Read more…]

ISIS wants us in a war

When you live long enough you see the same thing over and over again, sometimes in a slightly different package, too often in the same old wrapper. This is true for human interest stories and it’s the same with the Greatest Threat on Earthtm. Even in the pre 9-11 era, the latter kinds of threat seemed to somehow pop up every few years, although the fallout from Vietnam and a Cold War with a credible adversary kept us cautious for a couple of decades.  But after Sept 11, 2001, that caution was long gone. Even the hard-earned second thoughts from the ill-conceived Iraq War has worn off remarkably fast. And these ISIS clowns want us and anyone else they can get in this war real bad: [Read more…]

GOP presidential hopeful Gov Scott Walker “punts” on evolution

Why do politicians venture to London like it was an epic journey to the North Pole, where glorious foreign policy cred awaits ye who plants his banner in the middle of Downing Street? Because that hasn’t gone well in the last few years, especially for the GOP, and it has already started off on a small snag even for the careful, bland likes of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker: [Read more…]

The wingnut Wurlitzer fires up on Obama’s prayer breakfast

Predictably, the religious right is shocked — shocked I say! — at Obama’s recitation of the many sins committed by Christianity over the centuries. And it has nothing to do with politics! It just happens that one of the more recent sins, slavery, was egged on precisely by the very confederacy that now makes up an inordinate amount of right-wing opposition to progressive policies and is whining about this. Can someone please assume the martyr position?

Crooks and Liars — Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Sunday declared that all slavery in the world had been eradicated thanks to the Christian faith.
At the National Prayer Breakfast last week, conservatives accused President Barack Obama of comparing Christianity to the Islamic terrorist group ISIS when he observed that many religions had been used to justify violence throughout history.

“So we’re responsible for the Crusades a thousand years ago?” Carlson complained. “Who’s ‘us’ anyway? And by the way, who ended slavery and Jim Crow? Christians. The Rev. Martin Luther King. Christians.” “Christianity is the reason we don’t have slavery in the world today,” he added. “I mean, talk about ahistorical.”

Yes, many abolitionists were motivated in part by their faith. Which is a perfectly fair point to make — and in fact that’s the whole point Obama was making. That there were and are powerful, moderate factions within Christianity, that one of these factions prevailed in the US over southern extremists and sympathizers — who went on to drag the entire nation into a bloody, horrible Civil War in their fruitless quest to preserve slavery, but that’s a story for another day. And that maybe, we can all hope, similar moderate factions will prevail in Islam, preferably with even less senseless slaughter and misery than the Inquisition and Crusades and the antebellum south and whatever else I’m missing. Although imo, hoping Islam will pull that off with even less bloodshed is quite a lot to hope for at this point. But I guess putting those comments in context would screw up a perfectly good chance to fan the flames of Obama hatred, and we can’t have that.

The fact is, slavery was an honorable trade in the ancient near east back when the Bible was written. There’s little in the Bible explicitly condoning slavery, but there’s plenty that seems to just assume it exists and nothing should be done about it beyond calling for a little humane treatment. The Old Testament sure sounds comfortable with the idea, and that fact didn’t escape the notice of some southern preachers back in the say who justified slavery right from the pulpit.

 

Vaccination isn’t a left vs right issue, yet

From time to time you may hear that anti-vaccination hysteria is a left-wing problem. But that’s simply not accurate. There are a number of groups resisting vaccination, those who have been misinformed about the safety and efficacy of vaccines may lean a little more to the left, those who refuse to vaccinate for ideological or religious reasons may lean a little more to the right. But for now at least what polling we have suggest it’s mostly a non-partisan problem and that’s probably a good thing: [Read more…]

Great answers to what atheists should say to God

Video speaks for itself and it’s dead on. There’s the credibility gap with the idea of God. For the Abrahamic version, that it’s unlikely in the extreme that loosely organized clans of bronze-aged farmers and herders found the one true answer to the meaning of the cosmos.

But then there’s the implications if they actually turned out to be right, which are nothing short of terrifying: that our collective fate one and all, rich and poor, good or evil, is in the hands of a super powerful crazed alien monster, an insecure bloodthirsty maniac that tortures little kids to death every day by the thousands. A creature who, so we are told, determined by way of a vastly superior intellect, that the universe just wouldn’t be quite complete without rabies or Alzheimer’s or a million other excruciating traumas it created and inflicted on its most “beloved children,” in part as punishment for a great to nth grandparent disobeying it, despite the fact that that that g-g-g-grandparent could not by its own intentional divine design distinguish the simplest right from wrong and, apparently, in part because it really couldn’t come up with a better way to run things.

And even that wasn’t enough human anguish to satisfy its ghoulish appetite! Any victim who didn’t regularly drop to their knees in abject worship, basking in and praising — get this! — its infinite mercy and benevolence and love would be further punished by a sentence of eternity in everlasting torment worse than any of those mere mortal afflictions thanks to a cosmic pissing contest with a rival maniacal deity said to be, if anything, even more evil. Although how anything could possibly be more evil than the one running a universe like that strains the most pathological imagination.