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Archive for December 19th, 2011

Kim Jong-Il Dies

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 19th, 2011 5:47 am by HL

Kim Jong-Il Dies
Three years after suffering a stroke, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has died at the age of 69, state-run television announced. Kim Jong-il has been the dictatorial leader of the impoverished communist country since the death of his father Kim Il-sung in 1994.



Late, Late Night FDL: Apeman

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 19th, 2011 5:46 am by HL

Late, Late Night FDL: Apeman
The Kinks – Apeman

The Kinks – Apeman

What’s on your mind tonite…?


Kim Jong Il Is Dead

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 19th, 2011 5:45 am by HL

Kim Jong Il Is Dead
North Korea’s current dictator has died. State television gives the cause of death as—and this is not a joke—exhaustion from working too hard. Kim succeeded his father in 1994 and has indicated that his third son is to take over the responsibility of oppressing the North Korean people.  —PZS BBC: Mr Kim, who has led the communist nation since the death of his father in 1994, died on a train while visiting an area outside the capital, the announcement said. […] The announcement came in an emotional statement read out on national television. The announcer, wearing black, said he had died of physical and mental over-work. Read more

North Korea’s current dictator has died. State television gives the cause of death as—and this is not a joke—exhaustion from working too hard. Kim succeeded his father in 1994 and has indicated that his third son is to take over the responsibility of oppressing the North Korean people.? —PZS

BBC:

Mr Kim, who has led the communist nation since the death of his father in 1994, died on a train while visiting an area outside the capital, the announcement said.

[…]

The announcement came in an emotional statement read out on national television.

The announcer, wearing black, said he had died of physical and mental over-work.

Read more

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Todd Green, Ph.D.: An Open Letter To Lowe’s From Iowans Dedicated To Interfaith Understanding

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 19th, 2011 5:44 am by HL

Todd Green, Ph.D.: An Open Letter To Lowe’s From Iowans Dedicated To Interfaith Understanding
We call on you to reverse your decision and to send a clear message to all Americans that Lowe’s will no longer make advertising decisions rooted in Islamophobia.

Daniel Tutt: The Lowe’s Controversy And The Success Of Religious Pluralists
When Lowe’s decided to pull its ads from “All American Muslim,” they sparked a national crisis over Islamophobia in America. But crisis is the wrong word. I prefer opportunity.

White House To Republicans: ‘Get The Job Done’
With some Republican opposition toward a short-term payroll tax cut extension out in the open, the White House responded on Sunday with its own intentions….


Tea Party Leader Mark Meckler Arrested With Handgun At Airport

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 19th, 2011 5:43 am by HL

Tea Party Leader Mark Meckler Arrested With Handgun At Airport
Mark Meckler, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots and one of the most prominent spokesmen for the grassroots movement, was arrested Thursday and is being charged with illegally trying to carry a handgun onto a plane at LaGuardia Airport in Queens, NY.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio: DOJ ‘Sneak Attack’ Is Just Part Of Obama’s Reelection Bid (VIDEO)
Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Friday that the Justice Department’s extensive three-year probe of his Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office was all just part of a bid for President Obama to win the Hispanic vote in 2012, even though the investigation began five months before Obama was even elected.



World-wide, women are in trouble: “First they came for our daughters, then they…”

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 19th, 2011 5:41 am by HL

World-wide, women are in trouble: “First they came for our daughters, then they…”
I was just told by my dentist that I need three cavities filled, two teeth crowned and two root canals. We’re talking at least $10,000 here, probably more. But who has that kind of money these days? Looks like pretty soon I’m going to have to go toothless. But I won’t be alone. 99% of […]


How Obama Can Win By Losing

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 19th, 2011 5:40 am by HL

How Obama Can Win By Losing
Adam Winkler argues that if the U.S. Surpreme Court upholds President Obama’s health-care law in an expected decision next year, “it will stimulate turnout by Tea Party conservatives who believe the requirement that everyone have insurance is the epitome of government tyranny. Many of those Tea Party adherents might otherwise stay home rather than vote for a fair-weather conservative like Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich.”

“In other words, if Obama wins in the health-care case, it may cost him his job.”

“The Supreme Court is also going to decide whether Arizona’s harsh anti-immigration law is constitutional. Again, Obama might win most by losing. If the court disagrees with the administration and finds Arizona’s law constitutional, that will surely agitate Latino voters, who lean Democrat. A strong Latino turnout in swing states like Nevada, Colorado, or New Mexico could be exactly what Obama needs to squeak out a victory in the Electoral College.”

Can Romney Win By February?
The Hotline looks at Mitt Romney’s decision to play “to win instead of playing not to lose” in the four early caucus and primary states — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida.

“In the span of 24 hours leading into this weekend, Romney launched substantial ad campaigns in the first three nominating states – Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina – while his super PAC, Restore Our Future, made a massive $300,000 ad buy in the fourth primary state of Florida. Romney is now playing for keeps in all four states, and the risk of that strategy – i.e., the media coverage of an under-performance in Iowa or South Carolina – is far outweighed by the potential reward of strong showings in all four January contests, which would give him a head of steam entering February. If that happens, it becomes academic: Nevada, Michigan and Arizona are February’s three major contests, and Romney is favored to win all three states. We may not be in for a long slog, after all.”

Callista Gingrich’s Active Role
Politico profiles Newt Gingrich’s wife Callista and her role as his campaign’s “chief morale officer.”

“Often seen but rarely heard from, she occupies a central position on the Gingrich team. The former House speaker credits her with saving him from the dog days of summer… While some sources had said she had been involved in approving top staffer hires earlier this year, two other sources said that’s not the case — and denied claims from aides who walked off his campaign earlier this year that she was a ‘helicopter spouse’ who guarded his schedule fiercely and was second only to him in terms of control of the effort.”

“But in a campaign where candidate spouses like Ann Romney, Anita Perry and Mary Kay Huntsman have been highly visible public advocates and her husband has put her so solidly in the foreground…many have wondered exactly what role she plays and will play if he is the GOP nominee.”


Are Slower Cities Better for Bikers, the Air, and Our Mental Health?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 19th, 2011 5:39 am by HL

Are Slower Cities Better for Bikers, the Air, and Our Mental Health?
Cities around the world are considering radical new speed limits on cars — slowing down in the name of progress.

Why Is the FDA Saying It’s OK to Eat Seafood 10,000 Times Over the Safe Limit for Dangerous Carcinogens?
FDA not only downplayed the risk of contamination, but ignored staff members who proposed higher levels of contamination protection.

How Pay-Pal Squeezes Merchants with Unfair and Likely Illegal Business Practices
A class-action suit charges Pay-Pal with some shady practices that leave small businesses in a jam.


Message To Congress: With All Due Respect, If It Ain’t Broke Don’t Fix It

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 19th, 2011 5:38 am by HL

Message To Congress: With All Due Respect, If It Ain’t Broke Don’t Fix It
With an approval rating that is heading for sub-zero, Congress would do well to take this advice on many subjects. But the one topic I’m focusing on — as the former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission — is just…


The Great Rope a Dope trick
Barack Obama learned a political trick from Muhammad Ali called Rope a Dope. For you youngsters, this refers to the epic Rumble in the Jungle Heavyweight fight against George Foreman in 1974. Here is the Wikipedia explanation. The rope-a-dope is…



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What Are the Web?s Best 2011 Climate and Energy Blog Posts?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 19th, 2011 5:36 am by HL

What Are the Web?s Best 2011 Climate and Energy Blog Posts?
I will be on vacation Christmas to New Year’s, as will Stephen Lacey.  And for me this is a real vacation,  in that I probably won’t spend even 2 hours a day blogging! Climate Progress will still go on.  So if there is a major breaking story, we will cover it.  But mostly we will […]

http://www.thebestrealestatesystems.com/images/Best_of_the_Best.jpgI will be on vacation Christmas to New Year’s, as will Stephen Lacey.  And for me this is a real vacation,  in that I probably won’t spend even 2 hours a day blogging!

Climate Progress will still go on.  So if there is a major breaking story, we will cover it.  But mostly we will be rerunning the best climate and energy blog posts of 2011 from around the web.

So we’d love your suggestions for what those are — including any from CP you think worth reposting.

IF you are suggesting something from your own blog, then please keep that to just your single best post.

Note: Try to find stuff off the beaten e-path.  For instance, we know and love Skeptical Science, and we will definitely be running some of their stuff over the break.

Discovery Could Sharply Boost Solar Cell Efficiency at Low Cost
Chart from Emanuel Sachs of MIT with data that is already two years old.  Recent discoveries hold the promise of keeping the cost reductions going past 2020. New research on solar energy conversion finds, “the efficiency of conventional solar cells could be significantly increased.”  The research was led by chemist Xiaoyang Zhu at The University […]

Chart from Emanuel Sachs of MIT with data that is already two years old.  Recent discoveries hold the promise of keeping the cost reductions going past 2020.

New research on solar energy conversion finds, “the efficiency of conventional solar cells could be significantly increased.”  The research was led by chemist Xiaoyang Zhu at The University of Texas at Austin.  Their news release explains:

it’s possible to double the number of electrons harvested from one photon of sunlight using an organic plastic semiconductor material.

Plastic semiconductor solar cell production has great advantages, one of which is low cost,” said Zhu, a professor of chemistry. “Combined with the vast capabilities for molecular design and synthesis, our discovery opens the door to an exciting new approach for solar energy conversion, leading to much higher efficiencies.”

The research holds the possibility of increasing the efficiency of solar cells by 50% to 100%.

A recent study found that “Solar Power Is Much Cheaper to Produce Than Most Analysts Realize.”  And Climate Progress has laid out a path for further reductions (see Anatomy of a Solar PV System: How to Continue “Ferocious Cost Reductions” for Solar Electricity).

Advances like this one hold the promise of even further reductions post-2020.  The study itself in Science, “Observing the Multiexciton State in Singlet Fission and Ensuing Ultrafast Multielectron Transfer” (subs. req’d) is pretty technical stuff.

Here’s a more digestible version of the finding from the news release:

The maximum theoretical efficiency of the silicon solar cell in use today is approximately 31 percent, because much of the sun’s energy hitting the cell is too high to be turned into usable electricity. That energy, in the form of “hot electrons,” is instead lost as heat. Capturing hot electrons could potentially increase the efficiency of solar-to-electric power conversion to as high as 66 percent.

Zhu and his team previously demonstrated that those hot electrons could be captured using semiconductor nanocrystals. They published that research in Science in 2010, but Zhu says the actual implementation of a viable technology based on that research is very challenging.

“For one thing,” said Zhu, “that 66 percent efficiency can only be achieved when highly focused sunlight is used, not just the raw sunlight that typically hits a solar panel. This creates problems when considering engineering a new material or device.”

To circumvent that problem, Zhu and his team have found an alternative. They discovered that a photon produces a dark quantum “shadow state” from which two electrons can then be efficiently captured to generate more energy in the semiconductor pentacene.

Zhu said that exploiting that mechanism could increase solar cell efficiency to 44 percent without the need for focusing a solar beam, which would encourage more widespread use of solar technology.

And here’s the basics of the underlying science:

  • Absorption of a photon in a pentacene semiconductor creates an excited electron-hole pair called an exciton.
  • The exciton is coupled quantum mechanically to a dark “shadow state” called a multiexciton.
  • This dark shadow state can be the most efficient source of two electrons via transfer to an electron acceptor material, such as fullerene, which was used in the study.
  • Exploiting the dark shadow state to produce double the electrons could increase solar cell efficiency to 44 percent.

One never knows which advances will ultimately succeed in the marketplace, and new research typically takes many years to be commercialized.  But the trend toward a steady reduction in cost is poised to continue for a long, long time.

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