Renewables Growing So Fast the IEA Can’t Keep Up

The International Energy Agency had to revise it’s five year forecast because renewable energy grew even faster in 21015 than expected.

About half a million solar panels were installed every day around the world last year. In China, which accounted for about half the wind additions and 40% of all renewable capacity increases, two wind turbines were installed every hour in 2015.

This is all very good news, and somewhat under the radar.  The area that we think is growing fast is actually not. Despite the growing number of Priuses, Volts and Teslas on the roads here in the U.S., transportation fueled by renewables lags behind electricity generation and heating. Surprised me.  Hopefully innovation in battery technology that we know is coming will explode the international market for electric cars like wind and solar have exploded.

The Blue Wave


There’s good evidence of a possible blue wave here in 2016.  Josh Marshall sees some internals on the ABC poll that were unusual and encouraging.

The previous ABC/Post poll found a sharp 12-point decline in enthusiasm for Trump among his supporters, almost exclusively among those who’d preferred a different GOP nominee. Intended participation now has followed: The share of registered Republicans who are likely to vote is down 7 points since mid-October.

Trump’s awful debate performances, the Access Hollywood tape and the dozen women (and counting) accusing him of abuse may not have dimmed the enthusiasm of his ardent followers, but those that weren’t really on board to begin with were naturally deflated.  As we get closer and the polls shake out a ceiling of 44 seems very realistic.  All along I said any Republican likely had a ceiling of 45 due to the demographic diminution of Romney’s 2012 result of 47%.  All good.

Obviously the 5-12 point leads that Hillary has in various polls is pretty good.  Also, the present Five Thirty Eight call on the Dems taking the Senate is  73%.  The Clinton campaign is moving resources to those down ballot races and surrogates like President Obama are on the stump to support Dems at all levels.  In what would have been a likely decent Democratic year, the GOP threw their candidates a Trump shaped anvil, so it’s time to take advantage.

But this is just the tip of the Blue iceberg.

Democrats seem to have finally figured out that it’s not enough to win the presidency every 4 years.  Soon to be retired President Obama, Vice President Biden and probably First Lady Michelle Obama will be part of a plan to turn state houses blue in advance of the 2020 election.  2010 was a census year and the GOP had been, very smartly, working behind the scenes to turn state houses red so that they could redistrict to give the GOP an advantage. The results of that was that in states like MI, OH, PA and WI millions more people vote Democratic than republican and yet each of those states have larger Republican delegations in the House than Democratic. The fruits of redistricting are sweet and long lasting.

But 2020 will be a presidential year which advantages Democrats. So the opportunity is there to at the very least negate the gerrymandering that the GOP did in 2010. Take away that baked in advantage and level the playing field and the Dems have a chance at dominating D.C. for a decade.  At the very least it’s encouraging to hear Dems actually strategizing for 2018 and beyond.

Add this to the roiling schisms in the GOP, the aging of their hard core followers, the strong blue bent of the younger generation and the continuing browning of America, it’s entirely possible that we could be verging on a second Era of Good Feelings with one party domination for a decade.

We sure need that to get some shit done.  But okay, one election at a time.

AHHHHHH! White Castle Closed?

The White Castle on 8th Avenue in the 30s was shut down this morning.  I believe that was the only White Castle in Manhattan.  It’s not that I ever went there (well, maybe once or twice).  But the idea of a White Castle closing is very disturbing to me.

That is an institution, man!

Is This Real Life? Researchers Find a Realistic Way to Turn CO2 to Ethanol

Wow!  This could be huge news. Researchers at Oak Ridge National Labs accidentally found a very doable way to create ethanol from CO2 which has tremendous possible applications. Real and efficient carbon capture is on the table here!

The researchers were attempting to find a series of chemical reactions that could turn CO2 into a useful fuel, when they realized the first step in their process managed to do it all by itself. The reaction turns CO2 into ethanol, which could in turn be used to power generators and vehicles.

Wow! Have to follow this one.

Rick Perlstein (GOAT Explainer of Conservatism) Interviewed In Slate

How many times do I have to say that Rick Perlstein’s work is essential to understanding today’s politics? Okay here’s the elevendyfunfth time.  He is the Greatest of All Time explainer/historian of how modern conservatism began and evolved. I have not read his book on Barry Goldwater but Nixonland and The Invisible Bridge are ridiculously informative and entertaining books. Perlstein actually coined the phrase “Conservatism never fails. It is only failed.”

He is interviewed in Slate about this campaign and whether Trump is an extension of Republicanism or an anomaly. Can they recover? How is he reminiscent of George Wallace or Richard Nixon?  Not good when those are your analogues, to be sure.

Regarding a Hillary presidency:

The other day I allowed myself the fantasy of what a Clinton presidency is going to look like, and of course the big tactical question for every new president is which of their bills they introduce first, because that’s the one they have the most political capital to get across. I was like, well, it could be her paid family leave bill, it could be her bill for free college for everyone making under $125,000 and the debt relief for everyone. It could be her new tax credits for the very poor, who Peter Edelman—who resigned from the first Clinton administration over welfare reform—has said is the best poverty program he’s seen in a long time. I was like, wow, there really isn’t anything on her plate that isn’t a pretty strong, progressive, populist intervention. I’m pretty certain that there’s very little room for her to abandon that. She’s laid down some pretty strong markers. This is the Hillary Clinton who in her first major speech after the Democratic convention went to Planned Parenthood and gave perhaps the most unflagging, straight ahead, pro-choice message of any Democratic presidential candidate.

That’s some of that optimism that I think progressives can reasonably entertain.

Harry Shearer Sues For “This is Spinal Tap” Profits

The business of Hollywood is screwing creative people until those people get too big to screw.  The brilliant Harry Shearer has been lucky enough to have that Simpson’s money to play with and now, like Batman, he can use his fortune to build batsuits and right wrongs. Or at least retain lawyers to right wrongs.

“This is Spinal Tap” is one of the great comedies of all time.  It is inarguable that it’s a classic, always playing somewhere since it was released in 1984 and the lines, music and images are universally recognizable across generations.  So it is indeed baffling that the 4 creators – Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, Christopher guest and Rob Reiner have never shared in the profits. The current owner of the property, Vivendi, will argue that the film is not profitable, yet.

But according to a copy of the lawsuit posted online by Deadline, Vivendi paid the four just $81 in worldwide merchandising income between 1984 and 2006, and $98 in music sales between 1989 and 2006.

“Well, $98 is about enough to buy one miniature Stonehenge,” said Shearer.

The most important people in Hollywood aren’t directors, actors or (lord knows) writers, the MVPs of Hollywood are the accountants in the cubicles in New York and Burbank who can create spreadsheets that are masterpieces of numerical fiction.  30 years of distribution, records, tapes, DVDs, cable TV showings around the world and a film that cost  $2,500,000 to make is not yet profitable.

Harry’s website with more details on the suit is Fairness Rocks.

Good luck Harry, every suit like this is heroic. Make ’em open up the books and show their work.


I Have to Post This From Charlie Pierce

If you don’t go to read what Charlie says you should, before you come here, really but you know whenever.  What amounts to his endorsement of HRC is worth reading in its entirety.

However, and this is a big however, I think you make your decision this time around based on how deeply she understands the changes that have been wrought in the country and in its people in the days since the twin catastrophes of the Iraq War and the near-destruction of the world economy eight years ago. Does she know that the political world has changed, and that the universe of options available to a Democratic president is wider now even than it was when Barack Obama took office?

My call, strictly from the elbows, is that she does. She has a good, tough plan to pursue further reforms in the financial sector. She has gone far out on a limb publicly regarding the TPP agreement and the need for urgent action on the climate crisis.

He notes that it is very important for Clinton skeptics to keep in mind the vast difference between the world her husband was elected in and the world today.  It is why I was cautiously optimistic as far back as 4 years ago that a HRC presidency could be assumed to not be a repeat of Bill’s triangulation and centrism.  And now that she’s had the equivalent of a political tilt-a-whirl named Bernie Sanders pull her to the left, there’s room for real optimism for progressives.  With a Democratic Senate we could see a very consequential presidency.

She will have won because people like Elizabeth Warren, and Sherrod Brown and, most of all, Bernie Sanders, worked for several years to create a force that broke up the coronation and pushed her off easy positions and in the direction that HRC’s most earnest admirers insist she wanted to go all along. (Remember that, all during the first Clinton presidency, it was something of an article of faith that HRC was a leading liberal voice within the administration.)

Room for optimism. Which from me, and Charlie, is a rave.