Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"Green" Lights in Europe, Asia, But Not U.S. (Except...)

The new Peekaboo version of The New York Times ran an excellent overview of the state of "green" business in the U.S. vs. the rest of the world, which pretty much explains what we're seeing today.
European and Asian governments had good game plans and put them in play effectively, while, until the last few years, the oil-bound U.S. stood alone bravely claiming that the science on climate change wasn't in yet. As a result, other countries have raced ahead in developing and implementing sustainable technologies on a wide scale.
"Many European countries — along with China, Japan and South Korea — have pushed commercial development of carbon-reducing technologies with a robust policy mix of direct government investment, tax breaks, loans, regulation," and emissions either capped or taxed, author Elisabeth Rosenthal writes. "Incentives have fostered rapid entrepreneurial growth in new industries like solar and wind power, as well as in traditional fields like home building and food processing, with a focus on energy efficiency."
Tighter energy-efficiency standards in Europe, Japan and China have incented companies there to dive into design and development with more gusto than their American counterparts — with the notable exception of California, whose standards are equivalent to Europe's.
The story contrasts insulation jobs on a single, four-story home each in the U.S. and Britain: $5,000 vs. $1,000, with the English tapping that 40-to-60% subsidy from their government, thus being able to recoup their full investment in 12-18 months in fuel saved. (Poor people and seniors got theirs done for free.)
"U.S. Is Falling Behind in the Business of ‘Green’" – NY Times, June 8, 2011, by Elisabeth Rosenthal
"California's Energy Efficiency Standards for
Residential and Nonresidential Buildings"

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Followup: "Dr. King" quote mostly accurate

(…depending on which network you saw it on.)

Just happened to see followups this past week about two different, almost-true stories, one of which I had passed along the longer, more-accurate version of to my purposefully-small corner of Facebook.

That would be the quote attributed to Martin Luther King, Jr. ("Rev. King," let's remember), which was being passed around when the U.S. government finally found, and killed, the mass murderer. Turns out someone noticed it was almost a King quote, garbled by addition, and one thorough individual took the time to track the messages back to the source; so here's how it happened.

The Christian Science Monitor reported, "Megan McArdle, a blogger at the Atlantic, tracked the original quote down to Jessica Dovey," a young lady recently graduated from Penn State but living in Kobe (the original one), Japan. She'd posted in Facebook, writing,

I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. "Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that." MLK Jr

Note, as someone down the line didn't, that she properly put quote marks at the beginning of the actual words of Dr. King. But as the message was passed along, those crucial open-quote marks were lost, and it became No-Longer-Really-A-Quote of MLK.. Then, as the wave spread to Twitter (ah-ha!), the rest was dropped and only Jessica's sentence remained, at which point it attained the state of true Fakeness.

So it was just due to this petty detail, a seemingly harmless omission, that the meaning was changed; only subtly, but enough that its credibility was compromised. But worse, this made it ripe pickings for Twitter, the Short Attention Span Medium (SASM), to phase it impatiently into a total "fake accompli."

Not the author's fault; first of all, her own statement still seems to me to be entirely faithful to the thought and intention of the great man she quotes in turn. And technically, she got it right — although it would have been an even better version of Right if she'd started the quote with its own paragraph.

So, right on, Jessica; and good work, Megan.

More to the story: Facebook to blame, too?

But, ah-ha! Here, once again, we detect the haughty hand of Fazebook's user interface design authority, which has turned its back on 25 years in the evolution of GUI design standards. They've decided that a Return or Enter is now the Send or Post command, not a line feed/"carriage return" as in pretty much every other piece of major or minor software out there.

And of course this fairly-significant change seemed to be turned on without any prior warning, much less inquiry into how their non-mobile access users felt about this new "feature" (since it seems geared to handhelds).

Therefore, Ms. Dovey may not have known that she's able to write posts with more than one paragraph — the trick is a couple "Shift-Return's." Only recently, finally, is it noted on-screen, while the function was always there (one UI tradition they have kept, so far). Maybe people were complaining.

So, that's another fine mess you've gotten us into, Mr. Zuckerberg. (And you can quote me on that.)

"How Osama bin Laden's death sparked a fake Martin Luther King quote"
– Christian Science Monitor

"Anatomy of a Fake Quotation"
by Megan McArdle, The Atlantic, May 3 2011

(The next day.. )

Only later does it occur to me that there's a genuinely wonderful thing to appreciate here, which should also be acknowledged. That's the fact that a near- and very-faithful-to-the-original quote with this perspective, this nature, struck such a chord in so many people, all over the country and globe. Nice to know that such a sensibility is that alive in this world, don't you think?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Good Guys Finish First, Too: Ray Allen Hits Record 3

[Thursday night, 8-something:] Just watched Ray Allen hit his 2,561st three-pointer, breaking Reggie Miller's all-time record, and in a game against the Lakers in the Boston (TD) Garden, no less. "All-Time" here should be understood to mean, "in 32 years," since the three-point shot only dates to 1979 in the NBA.

Ray Allen is by all accounts a real stand-up guy, and Reggie Miller, on the scene as a TV announcer, spent the whole first recording-breaking half sending up Allen's hours of work perfecting his craft. He's at the top of his game at age 35, a real old-timer by NBA standards, so it's worth noting how he's gone about it.
The new record holder is interviewed and says that what inspired him, when he first came into the league 15 years back, was seeing how long before a game Reggie would be out there practicing. So Miller explains that he in turn got the idea from watching Larry Bird, hours before gametime…
Later in the broadcast, Miller explained that, "it was all about having the whole court free" so you could practice taking shots from all different spots on the floor. (Ah-ha! That little mental-vision jolt you get from an expert insight.) And it's always about that 10,000 hours.
These are guys who take around 1000 practice shots a day. Miller spent the entire night repeating variations on the phrase, "those long hours in the gym, working on your shot." Because as all these gentlemen have made obvious again, for whatever craft we can talk about, that's how it's done.

Friday, February 11, 2011


The traditionalist part of my brain will not allow me to let seven months sans postings go by unacknowledged. Search-engine-wise, of course, it doesn't matter, because people reach you by tags, not chronological lists.

But in the narrative sense, in the words of Chico Marx, "Nah, atsa no good, too." I'd moved my blogging attention primarily to logging events in the movement to make the Hudson Valley a Green Tech center, and what seems to have happened, at least at this point, can be summed up in a word: China.
In a few more words, Vince Cozzolino of The Solar Energy Consortium in Kingston talked about a specific solar manufacturer's setback, but he could have been speaking for the sector.

He explained they were "hit by a combination of the bad economy, reduced demand for solar cells because of lower subsidies in parts of Europe, and competition from countries such as China, where solar manufacturing is heavily subsidized by the government."

(From the story by Christian Livermore in the Times Herald-Record/Recordonline, 12/22/10.)
At the same time, I've gotten busy with successive new documentation projects, two of them back in the field of professional video, one for large-scale live events and the other for broadcast studios.

As a guy who was trained to really take the time to choose the right word and proofread carefully, I can't just dash off some breathless verbiage and hit Send. It takes time. Even here in the 21st century, if it's worth doing, it's worth doing right — right?

Now add the increasing if still stingy amount of time on Facebook, because naturally I've discovered a couple dozen old buddies that I wind up riffing with on subjects both serious and JPF (Just Plain Fun*), and all that's how the blog went "on hold." You've got to have a sense of when you're getting spread too thin; and that's coming from a skinny guy, where it becomes especially important.

But I knew the tide would come back in, and there it is. It just took the right time and an exciting enough reason — in this case, Ray Allen's night — to take keyboard in hand again.

(* - "Just Plain Fun" - no, I'd never seen that acronym before, either.)