California

How Green is Your Electricity?

A few years back I wrote about how driving an electric car isn’t necessarily the most climate-friendly choice.  That’s in a large part because the electricity used to power those cars is often generated by very carbon-intensive methods. Well today over in IFLScience University of Sydney Professor of Sustainability Research Manfred Lenzen provides a surprising chart of the greenhouse gas emissions of electricity generation technologies. 1From the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Electricity Generation Technologies
Source: IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation

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1. From the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation.

Kate Hansen is My New Favorite Olympian

Kate Hansen with her Luge World Cup medal

I love this interview with US Olympic luge racer Kate Hansen from KCRW’s Press Play. Kate just became the first American, male or female, to win a luge World Cup race in over 16 years. This despite getting her start in never-frozen southern California, rolling on a sled down the streets of La Cañada, just a few miles up the 2 freeway from me.

Kate 1On Twitter as @k8ertotz. won her World Cup race in Sigulda, Latvia. A few years ago on that very track, I fulfilled a childhood dream of riding in a bobsled. I will never forget how much it hurt. The centrifugal force when we hit a curve was massive. It pushed straight down, like a helicopter landing on my shoulders. And we didn’t move anywhere near Kate’s speed. Our sled maybe touched 60 mph, while Kate flew down at 75.

So Kate routinely endures 25% more force than I did, and she does it lying down, so it smashes right into her heart and lungs. Meanwhile, she’s riding a sled going so fast that it steers with the slightest movement. “If you’re just going down a straightaway and you just look left,” Kate says, “You will bash a wall pretty hard.” “Pretty hard” being about the same as if Kate rode her sled the wrong way down the 2 and into an approaching Escalade.

You can cheer on Kate in her four Olympic runs on Monday Feb. 10 and Tuesday Feb. 11, assuming you’re willing to get up at 3:45am ET and stream it on NBCOlympics.com. That’s because, while Kate has a world championship, she doesn’t have the one thing NBC Sports requires for TV coverage: a penis. Despite six networks’ worth of coverage, NBC only plans to broadcast men’s luge.

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1. On Twitter as @k8ertotz.

A Last-Minute Guide to the March 2013 Los Angeles Local Election for the Indecisive and/or Lazy

Vote AquiI’m tossing these endorsements out way late, because I didn’t make up my own mind as to whom to vote for until yesterday and didn’t consider until this morning that anyone would give a shit what I think. But if you’re voting on the way home from work or, like my fellow unemployeds, during a commercial break in Love It or List It, maybe my picks will help you wade through this 8:45am-at-theMcDonald’s-drive-thru of a race. 1My district’s ballot has 38 candidates for six offices.

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1. My district’s ballot has 38 candidates for six offices.

In California You’re More Likely to Be Killed by an Illegal Gun Than by a New Toyota

California GunsGood news! The number of guns in the hands of Californians who aren’t legally allowed to own them is only about 40,000! That’s just a few thousand more guns than the number of Toyota Corollas sold in the state last year and works out to a shade over one illegal gun per 1000 residents. 1CA population of 37.7 million ÷ 40,000 guns = 1 gun per 942 residents

I’m proud to say that 40,000 illegal guns is enough to hand out one to every resident of my hometown of Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania (one of the largest suburbs of Pittsburgh) and still have 6,000 or so leftover to stockpile in the Red Lobster. And I feel secure knowing that my adopted state is well protected against invasion by the Dutch, because just those 40,000 known illegal California firearms equal about six percent of all the civilian-owned guns in the Netherlands. 2Netherlands population of 16.7 million x per capita gun ownership of .039 = 651,300 guns. I updated this stat from my earlier misstated 15%.

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1. CA population of 37.7 million ÷ 40,000 guns = 1 gun per 942 residents
2. Netherlands population of 16.7 million x per capita gun ownership of .039 = 651,300 guns. I updated this stat from my earlier misstated 15%.

My Equally Partisan Rebuttal to Teen Sleuth’s “Very Partisan California 2012 Voting Guide”

The Great Seal of the State of CaliforniaI was a little surprised when I read the very smart Kara Vallow’s (AKA Teen Sleuth) Very Partisan, November California 2012 Voting Guide to discover that I disagree with her on close to 25 percent of the ballot measures. 1I originally tweeted that I disagree with her on one and half of them but, as usual with anything involving a number larger than one, I miscounted. Kara said she’s open to arguments, so in the interests of critical thinking and doing something to justify my spending the afternoon playing Skyrim, I’m posting a rebuttal.

I’m only mentioning the propositions on which I have a different view than Kara. For the rest of them, read her arguments and when in doubt vote the way she says.

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1. I originally tweeted that I disagree with her on one and half of them but, as usual with anything involving a number larger than one, I miscounted.

End the Death Penalty in California by Voting Yes on Prop. 34

Yes on Prop 34

Over the last year I’ve written about the effort to place an initiative on the California ballot to eliminate the state’s death penalty. On November 6, 1Or now, if you vote by mail. after a long and successful campaign, we finally have the chance to vote for the measure. Here are a few reasons to end capital punishment in California by voting yes on Prop. 34:

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1. Or now, if you vote by mail.

The Guy Who Wrote California’s Death Penalty Law Wants It to be Repealed

A gas chamber in CaliforniaIn 1977, the California legislature reinstated the state’s death penalty. A short time later, Ron Briggs helped his father, State Senator John Briggs, write what’s become known as the Briggs Death Penalty Initiative, which upped the number of death-penalty-eligible crimes to 28. California voters passed it, and as a result 13 people have been gassed or dosed on our dime. Now Ron Briggs says his death penalty law “simply doesn’t work.”

Briggs, now a county supervisor for El Dorado County, spoke on KCRW’s Which Way, L.A.? this week to explain why he supports SAFE California’s ballot measure to replace the death penalty with life in prison without parole. He put aside the complex arguments that America’s modern right has trouble wrapping its collective gourd around (arguments like “killing people is bad”) and focused on a fact that any bag-bedecked tea partier can love: capital punishment wastes crock shits of money.

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