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.

John McCain, Statesman

In a talk radio interview in Pennsylvania, where he was campaigning for his pal Pat Toomey, McCain told the conservative interviewer that a GOP senate would block ANY Clinton nominee.

“I promise you that we will be united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up,” he said.

He was being pushed because his line was that you need me and Pat on that wall to stop Clinton from taking over the country.  The interviewer asked him point blank “but you weren’t able to stop Sotomayor…?” So McCain’s mouth cashed a check his guts could not actually pay and guaranteed the radio hack that they’d block anybody. Four years of obstruction is my promise to you today if you vote for me and Pat Toomey.  Merrick Garland is only the beginning, we can rationalize not doing our jobs for way longer than just 1 election year.  And isn’t that what the public clamoring for change wants?

McCain’s people, of course, later walked ran that back.

“Senator McCain believes you can only judge people by their record and Hillary Clinton has a clear record of supporting liberal judicial nominees,” spokeswoman Rachel Dean said. “That being said, Senator McCain will, of course, thoroughly examine the record of any Supreme Court nominee put before the Senate and vote for or against that individual based on their qualifications as he has done throughout his career.”

The fact that his campaign had to issue a rational retraction tells you all you need to know about whether he and other GOPers really believe that this issue cuts for them. I’m told that rational voters exist in states like Arizona and Pennsylvania despite the conventional wisdom that those people have been baked by the heat (in AZ) and meth (in PA) and they really don’t like unthinking partisan gridlock.  This won’t even really help them with their base who is all over the Trump Train and are indifferent to McCain who has denounced Trump and Toomey, who has been as slippery on Trump as an eel in a vise.

Toomey is the only U.S. senator running for re-election who has not decided whether or not he supports Trump. This months-long waffling has even caught the attention of  late-night comedians, including Jimmy Kimmel who satirized it on Oct. 13.

Trumpers are vindictive and shortsighted enough (like their hero) to go to the polls and vote for Trump and not vote for those down ballot curs like McCain that have not been sufficiently obsequious to Trump.

For voters of good faith such a gaffe backs up the unprecedented obstruction on Garland, and can only help candidates like Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ), Katie McGinty (PA), Deborah Ross (NC), Maggie Hassan (NH), Tammy Duckworth (IL) and Jason Kandor (MO) (whose race was upgraded to leans Dem by Nate Silver yesterday).

538 has the Dems getting the Senate by 74.7% today.  If McCain keeps talking that’ll keep going up.


Not so Fast with the Greatest Country on Earth Stuff

Had an interesting conversation on a train recently with a woman from the Ivory Coast. She had a baby with her and was nervous being on the train after the horrible Hoboken train crash.  I expressed that I took trains all the time and never felt nervous about it, the Hoboken accident being such an anomaly.  We chit chatted mostly to relieve her nervousness.  She started to tell me about how she came here as a young girl and feels that America is all about “money and stuff.” She loves it when she goes back to the Ivory Coast and can relax.  “There it’s all about friends and family and life, you know?  Real things. You have things here, but really I believe my country is better.”

So there you go, a country most Americans have never heard of, never crosses their minds, could not find on a map, might actually think they have a pretty good country even if they don’t have a Super Bowl or walked on the Moon.  The constantly repeated and validated rhetorical trope that, of course we live in the Greatest Country on Earth, would be ridiculously arrogant if it wasn’t just nonsensically hyperbolic.  I understand why politicians say it because politics is fueled by bullshit, but why would anybody else?

But we’re Americans so of course it’s the Greatest Country on Earth, that’s why Jesus gave the Constitution to the Founding Fathers while riding a dinosaur.  That shit never happens in the Ivory Coast.