Link Roundup, 2/4/2016

Let’s take a break from the slow-motion triumph of The Politics of Crazy to survey an area in which mankind is still achieving great things. While our governments stagnate, technology is solving problems at an unprecedented pace. One interesting theme, in each of these situations (except the last one) technologists must find ways to circumvent obstacles from politics.

From the Washington Post: A simple approach to removing junk from the ocean will begin testing in June.

From the Max Planck Institute: German researchers are tantalizingly close to building a sustainable fusion reactor in the lab.

From Wired: The first start-up built around the gene-edited technology, Crispr, has filed a public offering.

From Pacific Standard: One down-note, a description of what it’s like when science has to defend itself to the moderately advanced primates on the House Science Committee.

From Gizmodo: Google is finally taking its self-driving cars for testing in more demanding real-world conditions.

From i09: Most important of all, some clever person has finally developed a Simpsons-meme search engine.

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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130 comments on “Link Roundup, 2/4/2016
  1. 1mime says:

    I am beginning to think that we should just let SCOTUS “pick” the President rather than have American voters do so. While they’re at it, they could disband Congress so that they could draft legislation that fits their political preferences. Gone is any pretense or suggestion of objective analysis; instead, openly political narrative and actions are operative. It is naive to think that these smart, well educated, experienced justices don’t have personal beliefs. What is incredibly sad (and seriously dangerous to the checks and balance within federal government) is that members of this court are flagrantly abusing the standard of objectivity that is both necessary and historically traditional for this great body.

    BTW, for those who find SCOTUS interesting, this journalist, Linda Greenhouse, is worthy of reading more deeply.

  2. texan5142 says:

    Rubio town hall just starting on c span, I have a morbid curiosity to watch.

  3. Bobo Amerigo says:

    Frank Bruni on Cruz in the NYTimes this morning (nice writing):

    Another Ted Cruz rally, another Ted Cruz rant about the media’s failure to give him his due. I endured one in the tiny town of Weare, N.H., on Thursday afternoon and had two thoughts.

    The first was that I’d seldom heard a voice as ripe with self-regard — as juicy with it — as his. He’s pomposity’s plum tomato.

    The second thought was that he’s right.

    We’ve sold him short. We continue to underestimate him. He’s even craftier than we appreciated. He’s more devious than we realized.

    And he has a better chance to win the Republican nomination than we want to admit, because he’s not just a preternaturally slick political animal. He’s an uncommonly lucky one.

    Pomposity’s plum tomato!

    • 1mime says:

      Gosh, that was well written! One question – since Cruz has made his move to dis Carson, I wonder if Carson will be endorse one of the other candidates, and, if he does, whether his followers will care?

      Gosh, Lifer, you have been prescient about this presidential race!

    • 1mime says:

      Sounds like I missed a pretty good debate. I may have to watch a recorded version….I don’t know about the rest of you, but haven’t we had enough debates? Maybe a better way to watch these Presidential debates would be backwards…….fewer candidates, more focused discussion, more substantive, less waste of time, better prepared moderators.

      This was an apt observation in The Hill that I believe we will all agree upon:

      “Trump’s appeal is so unconventional that assessing the effectiveness of his debate performances can be a fool’s errand. ” The winning assessment still goes to Bruni, thus far.

      • texan5142 says:

        That was no debate, that was petulant children blaming all the problems in the USA on Obama. Rubio acted like a child complaining. Could not watch all of that cluster puck.

      • 1mime says:

        Tex, If Gov. Abbott continues to evangelicize Texas, you may be wanting a new moniker, maybe Minn2016…

        About a year ago, Abbott and the AG (our indicted Ken Paxton) proposed and sanctified placing “In god we trust” on police vehicles….Well,uh, if it makes police officers feel safer…o.k., but pardon me if I cynically thought this was just the tip of the camel’s nose into the big religious first amendment tent. Turns out, I was right. This week, Gov. Abbott has upped the ante and asked his most cooperative and equally religious A.G. for an opinion allowing police officers to display crosses on their police cars. Hmm, wonder what they mean by that cross? Also, I wonder what’s next? Come on, ladies and gentlemen of GOPlifer’s blog, get creative…this is TEXAS, where there is nothing too outlandish to pursue in the name of god and, well, Texas…

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        Rubio’s stuck between a rock and a hard place. If he pulls back on what he said, then he looks feckless, and if he doubles down, which is what he’s doing ATM, then he risks enforcing that image of him being the Marcobot all the more.

        If he had that killer instinct, he’d probably still try to double down, but tie it into a larger narrative of what he believes is wrong with America, but how he’d try to fix it and what it would do for ordinary people; and if he were feeling particularly aggressive, use that a proverbial sledge hammer down on Christie and compare it to New Jersery’s economy and tie it up all in one neat little bow.

        Needless to say, I’m not holding my breath.

      • 1mime says:

        Rubio isn’t a deep thinker. So, he goes with what he does best: scripted, proven statements. If anyone tries to get him to dig more deeply, he just can’t go there. This is his problem. Frankly, I don’t think he has the gravitas to be a U.S. Senator, either, but at least his run for president has kept him out of the halls (mostly) for votes.

    • vikinghou says:

      It should be clear to everyone that Cruz is the nastiest, most dishonest, and least humane GOP candidate. This makes me wonder why he so appealing to Evangelical Christians. His behavior is distinctly un-Christian. Is it just because he opposes abortion, or is it because he would be most likely to bring about the Apocalypse? Someone please explain.

      • texan5142 says:

        The devils greatest trick is convincing people he does not exist….. Cruz has convinced many people.

  4. Ryan Ashfyre says:

    Marcobot malfunctions at the Republican debate. Beautiful slam by Christie:

    • 1mime says:

      I confess that I didn’t watch the GOP debate. I binge-watched “Mozart in the Jungle” instead (love the series). I’ll try to pick up best clips tomorrow but hope some of you will share your impressions. Just couldn’t sit through it tonight.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        As for any kind of self-fulfilling momentum that Rubio’s campaign was trying to drum up out of Iowa, I think tonight all but shattered that. All anyone will be talking about Marco is that “25-second” faux pas that Christie just rammed down his throat.

        Kasich, I thought, was on fire the whole night. It was his best debate performance by far and I wouldn’t be surprised if he finished surprisingly strong in NH.

        Trump. No one managed to lay a glove on him or even really go after him. There was a bit of a back and forth between him and Jeb! at some points, but it never really went anywhere. He seemed pretty happy with how things went tonight.

        Speaking of Jeb!, he seemed more in the moment and energetic than before. I think I understand a bit better now why so many Republicans were expecting so much out of him early on, but it’s too little too late to matter much at this point.

        Cruz obviously displayed why he’s not putting much on NH. Iowa was his turf. This? Not so much.

        Carson. He was the Jim Webb of this debate. ‘Nuff said.

        And Christie. Aside from his beautiful dismantling of the Marcobot, he stuck to his usual shtick of trying to have it both ways, being an establishment/anti-establishment candidate. Not expecting him to do particularly well on Tuesday, but he may yet surprise.

    • texan5142 says:

      Did see that part last night. Rubio looked like a shorted out fembot from the Austin Powers movie.

    • flypusher says:

      “”We don’t need Muslims. We need smart, educated, white people,” according to the male voice on the calls, which began Thursday night and urge voters in New Hampshire to vote for Donald Trump.”

      The irony is, the smart, educated White tend to not voluntarily associate with Taylor and his ilk.

      • MassDem says:

        That does seem to be a flaw in their reasoning.

      • 1mime says:

        As cynical as I am, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that this White Supremacist group is working for another candidate – surreptitiously, of course. That’s a deep “guess” but even Trump knows this group won’t help him. Look at who it does help……

      • MassDem says:

        Please don’t start another Clinton rumor….

      • 1mime says:

        Clinton? No!!!…..It would be coming from Trump’s GOP flank! Hillary would not do something like this. You misunderstood, and I probably shouldn’t have expressed even a “what if”…I have seen ugly things go down in campaigns like this though.

      • MassDem says:

        If it’s Cruz, do you think he paid them in Bitcoin?

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        MassDem, you win the internet sly comment award. 🙂

  5. 1mime says:

    There is a bi-partisan bill to overhaul the justice process. While it does not achieve as much as is needed, it offers a fine start. Both Democrats and Republicans worked to draft it and propose it. It has yet to be scheduled for a vote. Why? McConnell says that he doesn’t want to bring any bills to the floor that would provoke dissension. Tragic.

    Dissension? Reforms to improve justice for all people? While we wait for the “right” moment, here’s what’s happening to juveniles incarcerated in some of our nation’s most difficult prisons.
    Warning: this problem is the target of the SPLC, which is one of the few organizations that seem to care enough to help.

  6. Rob Ambrose says:

    Man, poor Jeb, bless his heart, has no clue as to the current mood of the electorate.

    In a cycle where ‘establishment’ is a dirty word, outsiders have a commanding lead of the electorate and there’s powerful populist uprising on both side, Jeb trots out the iconic matriarch of one of the most established, famous, connected, blue blooded, old money clans in America.

    Is there anything that says ‘establiahment’ more then Barbara Bush?

    And of course, Jeb never had a chance anyways because he’s a member of said clan, but seriously, who thought it would boost his fledgling campaign by trotting out his mother? And who looked over her notes and let her say how “nice” he was, and how “he’s not a braggart….we didn’t allow that”? I couldn’t help but cringe.

    She seems like a lovely lady, and I think Bush is probably a really decent man, even if I disagree with his policies. But man…..Jebs advisors are clueless.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      Well, he can put on an act, sacrifice his dignity, and be more Trump-like, but if he’s going to go down, he may as well go down being himself and keep his integrity intact.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        The timing and circumstances were just not right for him.

      • 1mime says:

        One other thing that I think subconsciously hurt Jeb. When he (and his bundlers) bragged about having raised over $100 Million dollars – the old “shock and awe” thing, I think that didn’t “sit well” with a lot of people. As you noted, Tutta, the “times” are hard for a lot of people now and having someone of privilege talking about how many millions they can raise with the presumption that they will blow everyone else out of the running – I think it bothered people. The very people that are supporting Trump and Bernie. Everyday Americans, to whom the discussion of raising millions of dollars just to run for office when they were worried about having enough to live on or retire on, kind of sent the wrong message. At least Trump was smart enough to recognize the mood of the quartrile he could most effectively solicit. He, of course, is patently insincere whereas Bernie is speaking from the heart and the gut. It matters.

        Bad timing, indeed. Bad strategy as well. Totally misread the public – as many of us have.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        @1mime: Doubt that would’ve hurt Jeb! near as much if he’d actually knocked anyone out of the race and consolidated the establishment vote early on. People might’ve still been annoyed, but they’d have gotten over it. Bush’s biggest mistake, aside from just being a god-awful candidate, was his lack of appreciation for just how long everyone else could stay on.

    • 1mime says:

      I disagree with you about Barbara Bush, Rob. She is one of the nicest women in the political world. She stands up for women in a way that most Republican political women don’t/won’t, and generally has my respect. If I were Jeb, I’d ask her to be by my side too. I like his dad, George H.W. Bush, and, I voted for him. It’s unfortunate that W was placed in a position beyond his capabilities. He did pretty well as TX Governor and he could have retired a happy, well liked man. But…….Jeb doesn’t fit the “times”. We shall see if Hillary does either.

      • Disagree about Bush Senior,
        Junior was a disaster and has massively destabilised the Middle East

        Dad, provided the advisory team that helped Russia “westernise” buy telling then to sell all of the state owned operations to the only people in Russia who had money – the Russian Mafia!

        Junior stuffed up

        Dad missed the opportunity to made the New Russia a friend and ally and has instead created an enemy that will last for decades
        If it goes really badly junior’s million unnecessary deaths could look trivial

      • MassDem says:

        I actually like Barbara Bush a lot, not for her niceness, but because she says whatever’s on her mind, and it’s refreshing. Remember when she called Geraldine Ferraro “that $4-million–I can’t say it, but it rhymes with rich”? Good stuff!

        I also like Laura, who truly seems like a decent person. Why she married that guy–I guess love is blind after all.

      • 1mime says:

        At least the Bush men seem to select women who are wiser than they are. I did not realize that George Sr. had been so irresponsible in Russia. I knew, of course, of W’s many shortcomings. Jeb has always seemed capable but from what I have read, his reputation was built during a time when things were very good in his state. He did handle Hurricane Andrew well.

        Nobody is perfect, including our guy Barack. What I have come to hope for is that they are basically good, will do no lasting harm, and have the wisdom to surround themselves with smarter advisers. Guess that’s why the framers of the Constitution set things up with a checks and balance system of government (which is on life support)…

    • tuttabellamia says:

      If Mrs. Bush did say “rhymes with rich” then my good impression of her just went down several notches.

      • MassDem says:

        Barbara Bush is a pretty complex person. In a different age, she might very well had run for office herself. One tough lady, according to a 1992 profile in Vanity Fair:

        “The same reporters who spin misty reports of Barbara Bush toiling in soup kitchens discuss a different reality among themselves: the flinty stare she fixes on the source of a question she doesn’t like; the humorous dig; the chilly put-down. For behind her rampart of pearls, the nation’s most self-effacing celebrity is in fact a combative politician. Always there, not far below the surface, is the Barbara Bush who briefly emerged in 1984 to denounce Geraldine Ferraro as “that $4 million—I can’t say it, but it rhymes with ‘rich.'”

  7. 1mime says:

    Here’s a link to the article on SOSs Powell and Rice email re-classification. I’m with the DOJ official who stated that the government seriously needs to “fix” or re-work its classification rules for all officials who work within sensitive departments. Sounds like a fair criticism given what we are learning. After the fact classification shouldn’t be used to crucify people. Either stamp it on the front end, or don’t re-classify and blame on the back end – for anyone, Republican or Democrat, elected, appointed or staff. This problem hardly compares with the breach of professional judgement exercised by Gen. Petraeus who handed over volumes of classified material to a journalist. Now, that, was serious as it was an overt decision even though I think Patraeus is a good officer and citizen who made a poor decision, but it was clearly by choice.

  8. Rob Ambrose says:

    Interesting profile of Ted Cruz through the eyes of his college classmates, and its, shall we say, unflattering.

    Obviously, any normal person will have people in their background that has bad things to say about them. What’s telling I think here is that of the 75 or so ppl interviewed, not one had a positive thing to say about him other then that he had good debate skills, and also the strong reactions he seemed to invoke, almost like a reflexive repulsiveness.

    I’m sure I’m quite biased, but this paints a picture of exactly the type of person I intuitively percieve Ted to be. From the odd but harmless “weirdness” of him (like the guy who said the very first thing Cruz said to him while meeting him in a social setting was “Hi, I’m Ted Cruz. I trust I have your vote for student council president?”) to the downright sociopathic, like this story:

    “the two were having an “intellectual debate” about abortion one day, when she disclosed that her mother had once ended a pregnancy. “I remember telling him [that] my mother had two children, they really couldn’t afford to have another child, they really would have struggled. And it was a very difficult, painful decision for my mother.” At that point, she said, “he became vicious and made it personal,” eventually telling her, in his loving way, “that my mother was going to hell and was a whore.”

    There’s lots of good and decent and moral ppl who genuinely believe that abortion is wrong. But to face another human being and say that to them is something else entirely. Literally nobody who is a mentally healthy, well adjusted individual would ever say that to someone who just told a deeply personal story like that, regardless of how they feel about abortion.

    I don’t care how polarizing or shy or obnoxious you were in college . if you don’t have ONE person (whose not currently working on your campaign) out of 75 who can say anything good about you as a person, that’s pretty damning.

    I’m with Mime. As bad as Trump is, Cruz is a menace. Forget about being a good president. He can’t even be a good human being.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      I’m not saying this about Ted Cruz, but since you bring up the possibility . . . The possibility that a sociopath, someone with no conscience, a truly evil person, could end up as President of the United States is something that had never occurred to me.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        People like that are few and far between, thank God.

      • 1mime says:

        I really don’t like Ted Cruz but I wouldn’t go so far as to label him a sociopath. Narcissist, ideologue, elitist, really insensitive – yes. It is my hope that he doesn’t get the nomination so we don’t have that worry. Whoever the GOP nominee is will not get my vote as I abhor their platform of divisiveness and elitism.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Yeah it would be odd. Cruz is one cold, calculateing reptilian character.

        That said though, and maybe we’re just arguing semantics, I wouldn’t necessarily call all sociopaths ‘evil’. Certainly, since they utterly lack a conscience or ability to feel empathy, they tend do lots of “evil” acts, especially when partnered with intense ambition, as Cruz seems to have.

        But to me, for a PERSON to be considered pure evil, they have to not only do evil things, bit take a certain pleasure in it. I’m not sure that’s Cruz. I don’t think he takes pleasure in doing shitty things to ppl. I think he’s just willing to crush anybody who gets in the way of ambition and not think twice about it.

        Maybe I’m just splitting hairs here.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Could we say that someone with no conscious and unable to feel empathy would be neutral — neither good nor evil?

      • 1mime says:

        Hey, Tutta! I have the perfect VP recommendation for Ted Cruz – Martin Shkreli. They deserve one another (-:

      • johngalt says:

        Tutt, if the decision about what to do about ISIS were left to someone with no conscious and no ability to feel empathy, what would be the most effective solution, at least in the short term? Nuke’em. Carpet bomb ISIS-held territory until not even the cockroaches are left alive. Let it be known that new recruits will suffer the same fate. We, of course, don’t do this because of the terrible collateral damage to innocent people under the thumb of ISIS. We don’t bomb entire cities to get rid of a few militants. Who would even suggest such a thing? Oh, wait…

    • vikinghou says:

      I’ve had to deal with a couple of sociopaths who thought nothing of wrecking others’ careers in their quest for job advancement. In each case they eventually went too far and were terminated. What goes around comes around. I believe Cruz’s Waterloo will also eventually occur in spectacular fashion. As they say, Karma is a bitch.

    • rightonrush says:

      IMO Ted Cruz is the personification of Snidely Whiplash. I’d vote for Trump over Cruz in a NYM.

      • 1mime says:

        Right on, I’m trying to read the wording on your logo and not sure if I have the words correct. Does it say: “New Republican Party” “We’re Batshit Crazy”?

        BTW, agree with you on voting Trump vs Cruz, but do some reading on Rubio too, just in case.

      • rightonrush says:

        Yep, that’s what it says Mime. JMHO but Marco is too lazy to wipe his butt so he isn’t even a consideration. Right now because of my college age grandkids urging I’m voting for Bernie. However, I’m in with whoever wins the Dem primary, I’ve sworn off anybody that has the R. after his/her name.

      • 1mime says:

        Bernie is an interesting candidate and I would vote for him if he beats Hillary out of the nomination, but I hope that doesn’t happen.

        Just curious, if Hillary becomes the nominee, what do you think your grandkids will do? Will they turn out to vote for her? This has been a big concern for Hillary supporters, that is, if she becomes the nominee, will Bernie’s base turn out for her or just not vote.

      • 1mime says:

        Polls now are probably not worth much except as a snapshot in time, but you might find this interesting regarding Rubio:

      • rightonrush says:

        Mime, my college age grandkids will turn out for Hillary if she is the nominee. Our twin granddaughters attend Hofstra University in Hillary’s backyard (so to speak). They have nothing against Ms. Clinton but feel that Sanders best represents what they stand for. Both girls are really into social work and community involvement. Just a couple of bleeding heart progressives that are passionate about the future of America. Both my wife and I are damn proud of’em.

      • 1mime says:

        I’ll bet you are! Glad to hear they won’t abandon the Dem ship if Bernie loses. Watch this contest closely, Right on, there’s a lot at stake. Personally, I think Bernie has done a hell of a job to build his following – demonstrates clearly that there is a large mass of underserved, unhappy people out there who are tired of the status quo. Especially the young.

        AFter watching the Dem debate last night and thinking back to the GOP debates, there is not one person on that red stage that can hold a candle to either Dem candidate, IMO. But, there are some very scary men that might get the nomination for the Republican Party. What that says about the base is equally alarming but not surprising.

        Saw an interesting segment of Shark Tank the other night with a guy who holds the title for the largest striped bass ever caught – (I think he said 67# or close therein). He had developed a lure that combined sound and vibration and said it works every time. He got an offer from one of the Sharks. It was fun and I thought about all my fishing buddies out there who now have a “new” fishing toy to put on their Christmas list (-:

      • rightonrush says:

        My wife raised our 5 sons to be fine men, in turn they have done a great job with their kids. I was too busy making that almighty $$$, so all the accolades go to Savannah (my wife).

        About that fishing lure…I’m still fishing but not really trusting the fish I catch. Way too many chemicals in the fish we eat so have to be careful. We limit ourselves to fish about twice a month.

        Back to politics. I have no reservations about voting for Ms. Clinton if she wins the Dem primary. I seriously doubt that I can ever in good conscience vote for another Republican.

      • 1mime says:

        That fisherman wouldn’t put that prize catch on a plate – it’s hanging on the wall! Beautiful catch – if fishing’s your thing.

        Glad you will consider Hillary as your default candidate and really happy to hear the grandkids will not abandon voting Blue. I worry that a lot of Bernie’s young supporters won’t vote if he’s not the candidate.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Mime, I can almost hear the worry in your voice.

        Its my opinion you need not worry, I think anybody in interested in politics enough to vote for Sanders is probably also clued in enough to know that Hillary, while maybe second choice, is light years better then anyone the GOP could nominate.

        I think the vast majority of Sanders supporters will vote for Hill. And I think that as long as HRC or her associates doesn’t do anything too nasty during the primary, that Bernie Sanders will offer his unequivocal support to Clinton if she is the nominee.

        I think there can be no doubt that Sanders is a True Believer in his cause (primarily wealth inequality, and the disastrous social effects it tends to have society) and that he realizes that any GOP president will be far worse then HRC w/r to inequality.

      • 1mime says:

        You are right, Rob, but politics is a funny business. I have great respect for not only what Bernie has achieved, but for getting a message out that is important to our country and millions of people. The income divide is being ignored by the GOP and with their party in the majority in Congress, nothing’s happening there either. We have got to get more balance in Congress, but absolutely HAVE to hold the Presidency. If Repubs ever screw their heads on straight, I’ll take another look, but boy are we miles apart now.

  9. 1mime says:

    Jobs numbers are out and while they are far lower than predicted, the fact that unemployment ticked down to 4.9% is seen as a positive balancing point. This has some ramifications for the FED as they contemplate their next balancing action.

    “…the January numbers “are about momentum. While 151,000 new jobs in January is below expectations and off pace from prior months, the data shows America’s recovery is continuing,”….

    An interesting point is that January’s jobs numbers were increased by 28K – a very solid number in all. The U.S. is still hiring, and given how many layoffs we know have occurred in the energy sector, the fact that unemployment ticked down is pretty good. Of course, world events can and will impact America’s economy going forward, and globally, there is deflation. We must be cautiously optimistic but vigilant about the fragility of our own economic stability.

  10. rulezero says:

    Is anyone else watching the debate on New Hampshire? Good night, Hillary is channeling WJC. If she continues debates like this, she’s going to destroy Rubio if he ends up with the nomination. There won’t be enough water in the entire building.

    • 1mime says:

      I’m watching. I wish Hillory would “tone” it down a bit. Answer forcefully but not so loudly and strident. She’s a very smart lady and smart people don’t have to shout – even in debates.

      I think Bernie is handling himself well. He’s so consistent in his message and style that there’s not much change there.

      • 1mime says:

        Oops, Sorry for the misspelled name Hillary (-;

        Her knowledge is so deep in foreign affairs and when she speaks on this area, she is compelling. Her more “hawkish” views are evident. I bet she’s a tough negotiator…wouldn’t want to play poker with her.

    • Ryan Ashfyre says:

      Hillary’s doing well. If she campaigns like that across NH before Tuesday, I think Sanders will have to put in a good fight. I still think he’ll win, though I believe the margin’s going to be closer than a lot of the polls are saying.

      More to the point, Hillary’s greatest strength is her strength. She’s always at her best when she’s talking about issues and displaying the depth of her knowledge and belief. You notice that her opponents only ever really pounce on her when she seems to hedge too close to caution.

      No doubt, she’d resolutely crush Rubio in a debate, though Cruz is a different beast. Whatever you might think of the manipulative ass, his intelligence and ability in a debate aren’t to be underestimated.

      • 1mime says:

        I was proud of both Hillary and Bernie. Great job! Hillary I thought did best, but both turned in substantive debates. I agree with the moderator comments – wonderful debate. Republicans take note! The viewer learned something about each candidate and it wasn’t entertainment.

        I am proud that the Democratic party set up a debate format like this. The news today from SOS Powell and Rice that their private email server use also has been criticized for sending retroactively classified material is helpful to the charges against the FBI. I also liked the fact that they were feisty but cordial and that the moderators allowed them to extend lines of thought so that the audience could better understand their strengths and positions.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Ryan, I think Cruz danger in debates is oversold.

        Don’t get me wrong, I understand hes got excellent debate skills. But his pedigree is as a college debater, where topics that are chosen are ones where a reasonable case can be made for both. Cruz’s ideology forces him to take positions that are demonstrably false, and this basically amounts to him enteri g every fight with his hands behind his back.

        The best debater in the world couldn’t win a debate about climate change if he was assigned the denilalists position, for example. There’s skill in debate, just like there’s skill in poker. But like poker, in debate you can only play the cards you’re dealt, and Cruz is going to have to defend some pretty untenable positions.

        And the fact checking will be much more stringent. Right now there’s so many candidates saying so many things (with so many falsehoods) lots of lies can get swept under the rug (see: Fiorina, Carly). When it’s only two though it will be much, much harder to get the whoppers through unnoticed.

      • 1mime says:

        Great point, Rob, although a skilled debater can usually work around subjects pretty well. Especially when the audience doesn’t think deeply about substance.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        After I replied to that, I came across the article I linked above, which is interesting.

        Specifically, this part from one of his debate colleagues at Princeton about his debate skills:

        “I would say that there are elements of Ted’s debate prowess that I respect, but we were not what I would consider friends.”

        “There was nothing spontaneous about Ted Cruz as a debater,” she said, adding that this didn’t go over well with fellow debaters, because the American Parliamentary Debate style emphasizes improvisation. “While nobody would argue with his intellect or his precision, there are definitely debaters who I would consider more extemporaneously talented than Ted Cruz as speakers and as leaders.”

        Which I guess makes sense. I dint think anyone doubts Cruz’s sharp (but cold) intellect, and I have no doubt he was the most prepared debater on that stage. I believe he’s a very hard worker. But Hillary is quite good at improvising on the fly (as we saw in Benghazi hearings) and she will no doubt be superbly prepped as well. If Cruz can’t adapt, hes going to have a tough time against Clinton.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        @Rob Ambrose: Broadly speaking, I agree with you. All I’m saying is that, given how we haven’t had the chance to see how he performs in a one-on-one format, Cruz shouldn’t be underestimated. He obviously knows how to throw red meat to the base and pander when it suits him, but he’s smart enough to know just how well that would sell in a general election. I’m not saying he does a 180 or anything, but it’ll be up to Hillary to nail him when he inevitably starts playing his word games and slithering around the issues.

    • goplifer says:

      Have all of the Democratic debates been like this? That may have been the best quality political debate I’ve ever seen. They were actually…well…debating. They discussed substantive issues, at length and in depth. They disagreed but managed to remain reasonably respectful.

      The hour or so I watched last night is the only snippet of the Dem debates I’ve seen. I was impressed.

      • 1mime says:

        I think this one was the best I’ve seen, but all have been substantive. The two-person format clearly lends itself to a better debate; however, I think the moderators should get some credit as well. They allowed the debaters to extend discussion points which developed the thought more fully and truly allowed both the debater and the viewer to have a more in-depth understanding of their positions. Of course, the candidates comported themselves more civilly even when they sparred, so the moderators job was easier than dealing with ten egos.

        However, all of the Democratic Debates generally followed this format. It’s just more direct with two instead of three. But, the Democratic debates have all been very substantive. Not only does the viewer get a better understanding of what the candidates believe, but the substantive exchange is very informative. The Republican stage achieves nothing except soundbites and posturing opportunities. In effect, it makes the candidates look shallow and silly in comparison.

        For the record, while I cannot honestly claim I have watched every Republican debate, I watch the majority and usually some part of all. How do you fairly assess the opposition if you don’t? For that matter, how do you fairly critique either their platform or your own party’s? In doing so, it either discredits or affirms the candidates’ positions, and that makes me a better informed voter. At the very least, I feel I can defend my choice of candidates more effectively.

      • johngalt says:

        The GOP debates have been hamstrung by many factors but I’ll be charitable and say that the sort of debate one can have with two people on stage lends much more to a productive policy discussion than if you have 10 people on stage.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        I saw the town hall two nights ago, and was amazed atnthe differences in substance and style. Literally, I cannot fathom how any moderate or undecided could prefer ANY Republican candidate to any Dem. That isn’t the case in every election, but it sure seems to be the case here.

      • 1mime says:

        Well, as Lifer pointed out, First – you have to get people to “watch” the debates – both parties – so they can make an intelligent, informed comparison. If you “never” watch, you’ll think all debates follow the GOP model. Heck, those who like the GOP debate format may find the Democratic debates heavy and boring….all that intense, indepth discussion and such…..

      • texan5142 says:

        Come into the light Chris, the dark side is not where you belong. By no means can the gathering of the bloviating blowhards of the current GOP be described as a debate by any rational human being. It is embarrassing to watch especially when contrasted with a Democrat debate.

      • 1mime says:

        Well, so much for substance………….First, you gotta get people to watch……Dems can blame Debbie Wasserman Schultz mostly, but, damn, Democrats are so hamstrung at getting their message out! Frustrates me to no end. I have to give it to the GOP, they know how to market themselves, even if I don’t like the message, I know it.

      • MassDem says:

        Come to the Dark Side young Padawan.

      • 1mime says:

        Here’s another thoughtful analysis of last night’s Dem debate. The summation went like this:

        “Sanders entered with momentum and did nothing to lose it, meaning he probably gains more from the debate—but it’s hard to make a case that Clinton lost the debate. The big winner from the night might be the American people: After months of overcrowded debates, the chance to see just two serious presidential candidates engage each other was a valuable and refreshing change of pace.”


      • Griffin says:

        It was honestly better that Martin O’Malley wasn’t there. As a more standard campaigner he was much more prone than the other two to making more personal attacks and was unbearably glib (he was prone to telling personal stories whenever he was asked a question), so it was a bit better than the others in that regard. Otherwise yeah the Democratic debates have been about 100x better than the GOP debates.

        Don’t worry though Lifer. When Kanye runs in 2020/2024 your predictions about both sides collapsing to the politics of crazy may come to full fruition. For now the Dems haven’t gone off the deep end though. If DWS keeps annoying the base though…

      • Griffin says:

        Change we can believe in…

  11. MassDem says:

    Lander’s essay on the development of CRISPR that caused such a huge fuss. It has a nice diagram explaining the process. Critics say it overstates the contributions of Feng Zhang at the Broad.

    Click to access S0092-8674(15)01705-5.pdf

    • MassDem says:

      And here is an excellent short article from Nature explaining how CRISPR could be used, and where some of the concerns about it lie.

    • MassDem says:

      Finally, an article outlining the controversy. Good fodder for a reality show.

    • johngalt says:

      In the scientific world the recriminations against Lander’s self-serving essay, which Cell published without any conflict of interest disclosure, has been significant. It probably won’t matter much, but public opinion is on the side of Doudna and Charpentier rather than Zhang.

      • MassDem says:

        I’m kind of surprised that Lander handled this whole thing so clumsily. I remember him as being a lot more politically astute. I guess it’s the money at stake that’s driving this.

        I do miss the scientific world, but when you’ve been away as long as I have, it’s very, very hard to go back. Plus I like the new direction my life has taken (education), so there’s that.

      • johngalt says:

        I’m not sure “politically astute” is the right word for Lander. He’s certainly skilled at getting what he wants and he’s brilliant enough for that to usually be a good thing. He has definitely left enemies in his wake.

  12. Stephen says:

    I just retired from a quasi government power and water utility . The CEO is embracing green energy moving generation that way. The planners are very good and have not missed in over 30 years. It’s plants are world class and attract people all over the world to study them. Cost and efficiencies are as good and more often better than investor own utilities. Not all energy companies are fighting the energy revolution.
    And the B.S. that government cannot be as good as private business or better is shown to be a lie. The energy revolution train is departing and those who are not aboard will be eventually be supplanted by those who saw this opertunity and took advantage. Many who profited off the old system as always will use the courts, lobbiest, try to buy off compeitors, and in general intimidate the competition to stop the future . As always will eventually be overrun.

    • 1mime says:

      Stephen, You have been fairly quiet about the Flint, MI issue. Do you have thoughts that you’d care to share? You certainly are well qualified to assess the problem. One specific question: does public water management protocol allow problems to be cordoned off from those at the top?

      • Stephen says:

        Of course not. The Michigan Governor and his officials are quilty as sin.

      • 1mime says:

        Thank you, Stephen. I am glad there will be an independent investigation. Wherever the evidence leads, those who misrepresented critical information or withheld it need to be prosecuted. There has to be consequences for things like this. My understanding of MI law is that the state cannot be sued (per state law) , but if criminal charges are determined appropriate, individuals can be prosecuted.

        I’ll take that.

  13. objv says:

    All I can say is that if Bernie is elected, we are going to have some interesting State of the Union addresses.

  14. MassDem says:

    I for one was surprised to learn Angela Merkel had a Ph.D. In physics. It was probably easier for her to become the German Chancellor than to find a professorship. The job market for Ph.D.s in physics has been bad for years.

  15. rulezero says:

    I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Germany manages to pull off cold fusion and then something mysterious happens to the data and research. I don’t believe the fossil fuel industry will quietly go into the night for a second.

    I can just imagine all of the commercials warning of the dangerous of “nuclear” fusion. Congress will be in the back pockets of the barons like usual.

    I’ll believe it when I see it.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      There was a time when Big Whale Oil was never going to let those upstart petroleum companies thrive. “Never happen” they say.

      People can obstruct progress. But nobody is big enough to stop it, and this would be impossible to keep under wraps. If this technology works (a huge ‘if’ at this point)/it would likely be a civilization changing discovery.

      • vikinghou says:

        On the subject of Big Oil obstructing any threat to their hegemony, there is an interesting thriller you might check out called “Chain Reaction,” starring Keanu Reeves and Morgan Freeman. It was generally excoriated by critics, but I kinda liked it!

      • 1mime says:

        One we watched recently and thought was good was: “A Dark Truth”. Concerned corporate exploitation of water rights in Ecuador. Great cast – Andy Garcia, Eva Longoria, Forrest Whitaker and others. We are so focused on fossil fuels that we forget about water and air abuses….

      • 1mime says:

        Speaking of water……I wonder if anyone here (other than Objv) believes that Snyder’s staff failed to inform him about the Legionnaires deaths being traced to Flint River water. You may not recall that the MDEQ head, Brad Wurfel was appointed by Snyder. You think he kept something like this from his boss? Deniability is going to be a tough line to hold.

      • MassDem says:

        I can buy that his underlings were afraid to bring their boss bad news, but it doesn’t absolve him of the ultimate responsibility. If there was a huge ethical lapse in the office culture there, then that was the fault of the man or woman in charge.

      • 1mime says:

        Call me the oldest, biggest cynic in the crowd, but I don’t buy Bridgegate or Flintgate gubernatorial innocence. All of us have worked under a boss at some time. None of us would keep information of this type from our bosses, for many reason. For most, it would be principle; for others, it would be CYA. But they would be told.

        Deniability is absurd.

    • MassDem says:

      If they fossil fuel industry is smart, they’ll want in.

    • 1mime says:

      Sort of like why it’s taken so long to see light rail in the Houston metropolitan area, right? The road construction industry in concert with those in commercial real estate development have thwarted that needed transportation modal for decades.

      As for fusion and how it will progress while the fossil fuel industry still has “teeth” – I don’t know. What I do believe (and we made our living in that industry), is that we need a mix of energy sources – for many reasons. Our environment is principle, but our economic structure has a huge investment in the fossil fuel industry and it should remain a “part” of the energy supply. I wish I were younger or hope to live long enough (and still be senile) to appreciate the wonderful new adaptations and creations that lie ahead. Renewable energy will not be stopped. Economics, the environment, cost, convenience, and more – will push it ever forward. It’s both terribly exciting and frightening at the same time.

      Today, on CNBC, there were several very interesting energy experts invited to share their views of what’s ahead in their sector. It was a terrific primer on current events and all the intervening forces that impact energy supply and demand. The most interesting two were Jeff Currie (Goldman Sachs) and another gentleman who heads up an energy fund. Currie explained why OPEC doesn’t move the needle anymore (think – fracking), and how lopsided the global energy market is given low prices and massive supply. Supply and demand was front and center in this discussion, and it made sense. Currie predicts that crude prices will improve in the 3 and 4th quarter, but prices will not reach levels of yesteryear. Majors are positioning themselves accordingly – spinning off non-essential assets, trimming work force, cutting dividends, increasing cash, both to survive and to position when the time and opportunity presents itself.

      The next gentleman talked about the global economy more broadly, but included energy. He noted that many countries are interest rate negative and that the U.S. Fed would likely withhold interest rate increases, or reduce them in order to keep the U.S. competitive with those who are pursuing negative interest policies. All of this naturally impacts the U.S. dollar which is (fortunately) still quite robust, but this has its difficulties given the global deflation that most economists agree is present. (Possibly Mossler will weigh in here.)

      Hearing this interesting, informative commentary from people who have a deep knowledge of world economic affairs and the broad energy market, is especially relevant against the backdrop of Lifer’s link round up today. The whole inter-connectedness of traditional fuels and currency are fighting for space with innovation beating at the back door. Interesting times!

      This just announced by WH…..senseless timing. WH proposing a $10/barrel of oil fee to finance needed improvements in transportation grid, etc. Great goal – dumb proposal. With oil at $20/barrel and the oil and gas industry in the toilet, the WH wants to tax them half of the spot market price of a barrel of oil???!!! All of the ideas are great, but, this is not how they should or will get implemented.

    • WX Wall says:

      The oil industry has already lost. Every year since 2013, more renewable energy power has been installed worldwide than fossil fuel. This despite coal and natural gas prices crashing. And the disparity is increasing as renewal energy costs plummet even faster than coal and NG.

      In fact, I’d speculate that current renewables (solar, wind) are improving so fast, even fusion’s window might be rapidly closing…

      • Glandu says:

        When the barrel price is down to 30$, and still, many air companies invest in less drinking airplanes(Air France ditched its last B747 in January, replaced by either B777 or A380), you know that they’ve lost confidence in cheap oil. Even if cheap oil is true today. the new generation of single aisle airplanes(B737MAX, A320Neo, Bombardier CS) sell only on the promise of drinking less & less oil. Even at 30$ per barrel. And the Chinese C919, despite its qualities(the 3D manufacturing of the spar, a huge piece, is a huge improvement over existing techniques), does not sell out of China because of marginal excess of oil drinking.

        On the regional jet industry, the Irish Cityjet recently prefered the Russian SSJ to the Brazilian EJet. The EJet, in nominal flight, drinks less petrol. But its envelope of “ideal flight” is far smaller than the SSJ’s, and real data has proven that in standard exploitation, the SSJ in fact drinks slightly less. And it begins to sell in the Western world(Mexico, Belgium, Ireland) despite the bad reputation of flying russian steel. Of course, having western avionics, american-drawn fuselage, and half-french engines help the confidence. But it’s still a russian plane. That sells in the west for minor oil consuption gains. Against the long-time, proven leader of the category.

        Down one more category, the ATR & the Q400 are very attractive to air companies as turboprops drink even less fuel than modern, efficient jets, . And that, despite their inferior cost-to-speed ratio, that means you invest more money for transporting the same number of passengers.

        Fusion is a tough beast, though. There are real technical problems, whatever the approach you take, and this alone could kill the German project. It killed countless other projects. I’m not expecting industrialization before I’m retired, and probably not while I’m alive. I’m 40.

        Finally, self-driving cars have 2 main problems.
        (1) they cannot drive the most dangerous areas, where many pedestrians crosse in any directions. Simply because they cannot interpret the pedestrian’s behaviour, and will simply stop for safety. Where a driver makes an eye contact with the pedestrians, and end up forcing the passage. Those place are not in big numbers, but often in big numbers in terms of importance.
        (2) they take far too much place in dense areas. . While they are an overwhelmingly good replacement for taxis and buses in rural areas, the excess of place they occupy makes them a very bad idea in any town that has real problems of traffic jam – or parking place.

  16. 1mime says:

    These ideas are incredible! Thanks for sharing them with us, Lifer. I particularly loved the 21 year old plastic ocean recycling device by Slat. Millennials are gonna save our bacon in more ways than one!

    I can see why you are so excited about the future with technology pushing out in all directions. When I listened the other day to the engineer talk about how imbedded devices in roadbeds could collect and generate energy from vehicular traffic, I was amazed! The frontier for recycling and sustainable design is breath-taking.

    TX Sen. Pete Sessions is an ass. What a shame that this eminent expert had to suffer through the ignominy of a House Committee Meeting that really was designed to destroy, not enlighten. I feel your pain, Lifer.

  17. johngalt says:

    DO NOT invest in Editas, the CRISPR gene editing company. This is a startup from the Broad Institute of MIT/Harvard. Despite shameless propaganda by Eric Lander, the Broad’s head, they are likely to lose the patent lawsuit that underlies all the intellectual property. Lander is proving to be quite a schmuck about this, continually tearing down the two scientists (both women, incidentally) who were the first to demonstrate that the gene editing system works.

    • 1mime says:

      Will the two female scientists be able to continue their work, JG?

      • johngalt says:

        Sure, they’re both academics (Jennifer Doudna at Berkeley and Emmanuelle Charpentier at the Max Planck Institute in Berlin). Both those institutions have filed patents and there is a legal battle going on between them and the Broad. It’s a battle that should be settled to the mutual benefit of all three people and their institutions, but that’s not how lawyers roll, so they will each rack up enormous legal bills in a winner take all affair. Regardless of how that works out, the academic research should be unaffected.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        If there’s a public relations component to the conflict, the Broad Institute website compared to the Doudna Lab website is a PR winner.

        Animated explanations, useful information for all levels of understanding, even a forum where researchers can share their techniques and difficulties.

        The Doudna Lab website is pure, very pure, so very pure it lists everyone who has ever worked there. Surely they hold the moral high ground.

        Just an observation…

    • MassDem says:

      To be fair, Lander would have been just as ruthless had the two scientists been men.

    • Bobo Amerigo says:

      Does the bacteria that kicked it all off have any patent rights :-)?

  18. antimule says:

    Fusion power is perpetually 30-years away.

  19. RobLL says:

    Joe Romm of Think Progress posted an article and now thinks that renewable energy is unstoppable, and will exceed the first goals of the Paris agreement. This, to my mind, is really significant, and marks the first time many of us have any optimism for our grandchildren.

    • Creigh says:

      There’s a lot of work to be done on climate change, but when I worked in high tech, we generally assumed that people would overestimate what they could accomplish in the short term, and underestimate what they could accomplish in the long term.

  20. Rob Ambrose says:

    Man, that fushion reactor could be a game changer. Sounds really promising.

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