It’s the end of the blog as we know it…

I’ve migrated the DP blog to a hosted site.  The first post is up here:  I can’t say that this will be my last post here, but I don’t expect to add any new posts in the near future.  If you’d like to keep up with the new blog, there’s a follow button in the bottom right corner of the page.  I’d love to have you join me there.

Thanks for the good times!


thank you


Justice… is the ligament which hooks civilized beings and civilized nations together


I noticed the quote above (A trimmed down version of the Daniel Webster quote below) on the DOJ building while walking to The Smithsonian this afternoon.  I couldn’t agree more and wonder how much of that ligament is left these days.


Can Inequality in America Get Any Worse?

PBS Frontline has a special airing on Tuesday night (7/9/13) on our growing inequality issues.  Check out the trailer for that program.  More on this below the fold.

I encourage you to watch that program and if you feel so inclined, I’ve linked out to a handful of related articles below.

Losing Our Way

It seems we’ve allowed ourselves to fall into a reverse Robin Hood economic mess and we need to better inform ourselves if we’re going to pull ourselves out of it. (And that’s to say nothing to of the growing challenges of resource constraints which further complicate matters.)  The chart below shows the trend of our Gini Coefficient over the past four plus decades.

The Gini Coefficient is a relative measure of equality/inequality in which zero would represent perfect equality in which all citizens were financial equals and a Gini score of 1 would represent a country in which all the money was held by a single person.  Scores tend to fall between .25 and .60 for countries which report scores.

As you can see, there are countries that have it worse than the U.S., but we’ve made up a lot of ground on them in recent years.

I believe that fabric of society is held together by a human relationships and the commonly held belief that the systems which are in place are fair and just.  The figures above tell me those things are headed out the window, if they haven’t already left.

The foundation of this country, the thing that made us the envy of much of the world, was the promise of the American Dream.  The idea that anyone could improve their lot in life by working hard, following the rules, and persisting through adversity.  In a fair and just system with opportunities, those virtues seem well placed, but in a system that does not reward those, toeing the line seems less virtuous and more obedient.

The things I might have expected to teach my kids to value, seem less important than they once did.

“Follow the rules.”

“Be patient.”

“You should be happy you have…”

The list goes on.

So much of what our predecessors taught us seems more geared to keeping us under a thumb rather than making us valued and valuable people.  Given the results, maybe we should worry less about teaching our kids to follow the rules and more about being free thinkers who can give the world a nudge towards a better direction?

As goes the American worker, so goes America.

Back to the question in the title.  Can it get any worse?

Answer:  A whole lot.

If we let it.

Further reading:

The New Yorker: The Fall of the American Worker
Zero Hedge: 15 Signs That The Quality Of Jobs In America Is Fading Fast
CNBC: State of the American Dream Is Uncertain

Could Big Ag Boil Niagara Falls?

I’m running some numbers for a paper that I’m working on and I’m trying to come up with a way to make the 11 exajoules that are consumed annually in U.S. crop and livestock production a bit more tangible.  Let me know if this grabs you.

11 exajoules is equal to 10,432,965,210,899,000 British Thermal Units (BTUs)

A BTU is the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of a pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.

The 10,432,965,210,899,000 BTUs consumed annually is equal to 330,600,711,76 BTUs/Second.


6,320,000 Pounds of water flow over Niagara Falls every second.

330,600,711,76 BTUs/Second divided by 6,320,000 Pounds/Second = 52.31 degrees Fahrenheit.


So, it appears that the energy used in direct production of crops and livestock would not be enough to heat the water going over Niagara Falls to the boiling point of roughly 212 F, but it sure would take it a long way towards the goal, and this leaves out all of the energy used in trasport, processing, packaging, retailing/wholesaling and end use.  So, in total we might just get there!


Does this help make the 11 exajoules of energy seem a bit more tangible?  Any thoughts on that comparison, or other ways that might make it more concrete, would be greatly appreciated.


Scientists Predicted A Decade Ago Arctic Ice Loss Would Worsen Western Droughts. Is That Happening Already? | ThinkProgress

In just over thirty years the arctic sea ice minimum has dropped by about 80%. Nothing to see here…

Transition Studies

By Joe Romm on Jun 30, 2013 at 12:36 pm

Scientists predicted a decade ago that Arctic ice loss would bring on worse western droughts. Arctic ice loss has been much faster than the researchers — and indeed all climate modelers — expected (see “CryoSat-2 Confirms Sea Ice Volume Has Collapsed“).

It just so happens that the western U.S. is in the grip of a brutal, record-breaking drought. Is this just an amazing coincidence — or were the scientists right and what would that mean for the future? I ask the authors.

Here is the latest drought monitor:


And that drought monitor predates the record-smashing heat wave now gripping the West.

Back in 2004, Lisa Sloan, professor of Earth sciences at UC Santa Cruz, and her graduate student Jacob Sewall published an article in Geophysical Research Letters, “Disappearing Arctic sea ice reduces available water in…

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