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Good Grief


PBS is running a BBC show centered around an English town called Kibworth. History of England's host narrator Michael Woods flits between an archeological dig, nearby fields and local archives to illustrate stories about British history. It's informative, but also funny to watch, because when an archivist or archaeologist pulls out some old parchment or bit of bone, Woods' enthusiastic gushing sounds much like the appraisers on Antiques Roadshow. "That's a really nice tibia, dear." It is also clear that Brit reenactors have a lot more history, and costumes, to work with than Americans.

In Episode Four, Woods talked about Henry V putting down an insurrection of Lollards — heretic peasants led by Henry's old friend Sir John Oldcastle (a probable model for Falstaff). Henry's forces were alerted, dispersed and executed the insurgents forthwith, and years later Oldcastle was slowly burned at stake, but Woods blithely reassures the audience that the government eventually granted the religious freedoms they and their predecessors who followed Wat Tyler had wanted. So it was all good.

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Bane for Dummies

Have you heard, this new movie, the Batman movie -- what is it, the Dark Knight Lights Up or something? Whatever the name of it is. That's right, Dark Knight Rises, Lights Up, same thing. Do you know the name of the villain in this movie? Bane. The villain in the Dark Knight Rises is named Bane. B-A-N-E. What is the name of the venture capital firm that Romney ran, and around which there's now this make-believe controversy? Bain. The movie has been in the works for a long time, the release date's been known, summer 2012 for a long time. Do you think that it is accidental, that the name of the really vicious, fire-breathing, four-eyed, whatever-it-is villain in this movie is named Bane?" - Rush Limbaugh
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Piling on the Leaf

In between following sports and writing haikus, I've noticed that the Leaf can't catch a break. As if temperature management problems in Phoenix weren't enough, the NY Times' Wheels blog and Plugin Cars each report that for eleven Leaf owners, something has gone haywire between the Nissan Leaf and the GE Wattstation, leaving their batteries severely damaged.

TTAC's Alex Dykes offers a clear explanation of charging an EV or plugin hybrid in the US. Briefly, the EV's onboard system manages the charging as long as the charging station meets the minimum Society of Automobile Engineers (SAE) J1772 standard. What could go wrong? Dykes speculates:

Assuming there is no design fault inherent in the Wattstation’s “control pilot” design (and we might assume this logically because the issues are limited to Nissan Leaf vehicles only), the most likely possibility is a problem with an underrated or faulty D1 diode in the Leaf’s charger that makes the control pilot circuit more susceptible to transient current and failure. While it does seem fishy that the problems are only reported with the Wattstation and not the popular Leviton and Nissan branded chargers, the issue likely comes down to surge suppression and bad luck. It is likely that Nissan uses a D1 diode with a lower rating (and therefore affording less protection) than the Volt and Prius plug-in. With so few EVs on the road, and little public information on the specifications of electrical components in the chargers it is hard to say for sure.
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Green Party Convenes in Baltimore



I biked home last night, took a quick swim, then turned on Democracy Now. As I sorted laundry, I listened to Amy Goodman interview the presumptive Green Party presidential nominee, Dr Jill Stein, and her veep nominee, Cheri Honkola. In the first interview Goodman asked Dr Stein what she would do after elected, and she spoke about a Green New Deal and Medicare for All. "But how's she going to get Congress to approve anything? That's what I'd ask her." I thought. She also felt that the ACA, "basically pits the very poor against the near poor."

At the end of the second interview, Goodman said, "We’ve been speaking with Jill Stein, who’s the Green Party’s 2012 presumptive presidential nominee. The vote will take place tomorrow here in Baltimore, where the Green Party convention is underway." "What?" I thought. While local news told me that a detective had resigned after being caught stealing groceries, and that more speed cameras were being placed near school zones, they hadn't mentioned that the Green Party's National Nominating Convention was being held at the Holiday Inn near the Convention Center. Sheesh.

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Should MyCar be YourCar?

Last week in Mississippi, strange bedfellows former DNC chair Terry McAuliffe, former RNC chair Haley Barbour and former President Bill Clinton grandly unveiled the MyCar — an EV made in America.

"Too many people have given up on American manufacturing, saying manufacturing jobs are not coming back. But GTA set out to prove them wrong," said Terry McAuliffe, chairman of GreenTech. "For too long, America has been inventing products here and sending the production jobs overseas. But we're part of a rebirth for American manufacturing. We're proud to bring manufacturing jobs back and prove that the U.S. is still the world leader in technological innovation and manufacturing."
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Interesting times

We live in interesting times, but everyone seems to be watching TV. Actors Andy Griffith and Ernest Borgnine recently died. Each man proved himself in serious roles, Griffith in A Face in the Crowd and Borgnine in Marty, but they were far better known for long-running comedic roles on television. Don Grady died, too. He was only 68, and was known for playing Robbie on My Three Sons, but apparently he was a serious and devoted musician.

I wonder how many of us will be better-known for our long-running comedic lives?

With bike share programs blooming, and so many people biking to work and even enjoying it, articles about automobiles vs cyclists vs pedestrians abound right now. The basic problem is that people are just about as law-abiding on bikes as they are in cars or on foot, and the foolhardy ones get all the attention. In the comment sections are the usual crude threats against cyclists by territorial drivers. I just defriended someone after reading that sort of comment on Facebook.

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The Sky is Pink

THE SKY IS PINK from JFOX on Vimeo. Essentially, this is an eighteen minute update to Gasland. Very much worth seeing.

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At US Trials, Lochte, Phelps, Kalisz advance to 400IM Final

After Beijing, Michael Phelps swore that he was done, finished with the grueling 400 meter Individual Medley. A day or so ago, Phelps dodged speculation about whether he would swim the 400IM again, even refusing to answer when he would shave his fu manchu mustache so as not to give away the time of his first event in the US Olympic Swimming Trials in Omaha.

The 400IM was the first event today. You start with 100m Butterfly, and it is nice to get that over with because swimming Fly when you're tired is no fun at all. Then you swim 100m Backstroke. Back lets you breathe a lot more, but isn't quite as restful as it seems in Esther Williams flicks because you have to kick like blazes. Then comes 100m Breaststroke, which to my mind is even more grueling than Fly, and your legs are already burning. And finally you can open up with 100m crawl, the fastest stroke, if your arms aren't already full of lead lactic acid. I have swum a 200IM, but I've never even attempted the 400.

Phelps, Chase Kalisz and Kevin Webster represented the North Baltimore Aquatics Club, where I swim, so it was fun to track them on the Omega Timing site. Webster looks to be about 23, and Kalisz is 18. I wondered if Kalisz was one of those kids zooming by in the afternoon practices, but apparently he swims in the mornings.

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The 1500m Freestyle in London


Competitive Swimming is one of the obscure sports I follow. Swimmer's Daily posted this video dedicated to the Korean swimmer Park Tae-Hwan. I instantly recognized the tune from the Marine Boy anime I watched as a child, and indeed the song is titled Marine Boy, though with quite different lyrics than I recall:

Hi, flip over that London town
The marine boy yo is coming out
Everyone move out of the way, new record
Set a record, a glorious venture
Higher, faster, further, let’s go
Marine Boy is a brave hero
Conquest a victory, the best in the world is going
Let’s go Marine Boy

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Donal is now posting on a wordpress blog called simply, Donal.

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