By Doug Porter
Today’s supposed to be the day I hit you with the “Get Out and Vote or I’ll Shoot This Puppy” column. It ain’t happening. I’ve already voted.
I’ve written 22 stories and columns about the November 2014 general election, and I’ll probably write a few wrap ups after the dust settles. If you’re going to vote later, fine, read this column later. If you’re not going to vote at all, look for me to come to your house in search of a puppy.
So today, for those of you who have already voted, I’m going to cover other news, and some good news at that. I’m perfectly aware that I will be punished by the search engine gods for not going apocalyptic about the election.
(Seriously, if you need election info…)
Tired of Dark Money TV Ads?
How about some old fashioned arcade games that you can play on your internet device?
From Huffington Post:
If office productivity takes a tumble around the world today, you can blame the Internet Archive.
The online home of the “Wayback Machine” archive of old websites as well as libraries of books, videos and music has added some 900 classic arcade games that you can play in a web browser. And you don’t even need a pocketful of quarters (or slugs)….
…The games are not perfect, with audio hiccups and, in some cases, programs that just plain hiss very loudly while you try to play. The controls aren’t always the best either. Playing “Marble Madness” with arrow keys is a little tricky (but that shouldn’t stop you from trying anyway). Some of the games are also super slow in full-screen mode in some browsers.
“Of the roughly 900 arcade games (yes, nine hundred arcade games) up there, some are in pretty weird shape -– vector games are an issue, scaling is broken for some, and some have control mechanisms that are just not going to translate to a keyboard or even a joypad,” Scott wrote. “But damn if so many are good enough. More than good enough. In the right browser, on a speedy machine, it almost feels perfect.”
He also posted some solutions to common problems here, and recommends the latest version of Firefox for maximum performance. If you’re ready to play, load up a game and hit the “5” key to add coins. Pressing “1” or “2” will start either one- or two-player versions of the game.
Seeing the Forest for the Trees in Iceland
While it’s likely a majority in our next Congress won’t be open to addressing climate change, the terrain in Iceland is undergoing a fundamental transformation.
As a story in the latest Newsweek says, the running joke in that country used to be:
How do you get out of an Icelandic forest? You stand up.
The operative term here is “used to be.” Trees and forests are popping up all over the island, where there used to be just shrubs.
That’s due in large part to a warming climate, which is helping many new types of trees grow here. Over the past 20 years, average temperatures have increased by almost 2 degrees Fahrenheit. As a result, trees are growing faster and new varieties are now found here that couldn’t survive before….
…But in Iceland, nobody’s complaining. In fact, trees and forests have become something of the rage among the public. About 7,500 people (or 2.3 percent of the population) now belong to forestry associations, which help plant trees and educate people on the topic, said Ragnhildur Freysteinsdóttir, project manager of the Icelandic Forestry Association.
San Diego Schools: You Are What You Eat
The successes of San Diego Unified’s Farm to School Program, started in 2010, are quietly mounting up.
Starting last month the district kicked off a California Thursdays program, featuring lunch menus for elementary school students urced entirely from California growers and producers. The goal is to expand to all elementary schools within the district.
This month’s Harvest of the Month feature is Organic Fuyu Persimmons grown by Ron and Mary Sahu on their 60 acre farm near Rainbow, California. Thursday menus this month will highlight Mary’s Chicken Drumsticks from Pitman Family Farms located in Sanger, CA, where they raise free-range, air-chilled and antibiotic-free chickens.
Small gardens are popping up all over San Diego Unified, with grants available from the County Farm Bureau, Annie’s Foods, and the Western Growers Foundation, to name a few.
Among the (privately funded) projects in the works is The Bus Farm, a farm built inside a bus. The idea is to expand San Diego Unified’s Farm to School program by creating a living-learning lab that will travel to schools and engage students in concepts of sustainable agriculture and nutrition.
The Bus Farm’s goal is to inspire healthy eating through interactive learning. It’s really true, by the way, kids are much more inclined to eat those dreaded veggies if they’re involved in the growing process.
SDUSD has also launched an App enabling users to access school menus. After selecting the school users are able to:
- See what’s on the menu today, tomorrow or anytime
- View breakfast, lunch and supper menus for each San Diego Unified School
- See a photo of each menu item
- View nutrient and allergen data
To download the new menu app, use your mobile device to visit the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and search for “YumYummi Digital School Menus.”
Gasoline Prices Likely to Keep Falling
Enjoy it while you can. (And, yes, I know there’s a downside to it)
From the Wall Street Journal:
Oil prices tumbled to their lowest point in more than two years after Saudi Arabia unexpectedly cut prices for crude sold to the U.S., likely paving the way for further declines and adding to pressure on American energy producers….
…The move heightened worries over the resilience of the U.S. oil industry, which has expanded rapidly in recent years. But that growth, driven largely by new production technology used to extract oil from shale-rock formations, has never been tested by a prolonged slump in prices.
While lower crude prices generally help consumers by reducing the amount they pay for gasoline, analysts said falling energy prices will squeeze profit margins at many U.S. energy companies, particularly smaller firms or those with large debt loads.
Is Your Mars Wardrobe Ready?
The good news is that getting to Mars in one piece is essentially an engineering challenge but, speaking at the BBC Future World-Changing Ideas Summit, former Nasa astronaut Jeff Hoffman put his finger on a far bigger issue.
“It is going to be expensive,” he admitted. “What it will take to finance the human exploration of Mars is hard to say.”
The final figure is likely to be tens of billions of dollars, but Hoffman suggests that the new generation of entrepreneur billionaires who are “space nuts” might be part of a public-private solution. “[Paypal cofounder] Elon Musk says he wants to go to Mars and I hope he’s successful,” said Hoffman.
Get to Know Zephyr Teachout
New Yorkers got to know Zephyr Teachout via her long-shot campaign to unseat Gov. Mario Cuomo. If you’ve been liking what you’ve been hearing about the future potential for the Democratic Party from Elizabeth Warren, you’ll love Teachout’s What ever happened to ‘of the people, by the people, for the people’? A manifesto in the Guardian:
One early morning in Brooklyn a few months ago, when I was still running for governor of New York, I encountered a man talking to himself, agitated and loud. As I passed him on the sidewalk, he turned to me and started muttering, a blend of insults and epigrams. And then, just as I was about to vanish down the stairs into the subway, he yelled with a full throat:
I am the captain of my ship. I am the master of my soul.
I was shaken, and not a little moved. This man is all of us, protesting that we still have control over ourselves despite the obvious evidence otherwise.
Because I was on the way to a political event, I felt it more broadly. We – America – we are that man, yelling about our own self-government, broadcasting these elections, trying in bluster to defy this simple, terrifying truth: we are not governed by ourselves. We have given up control of the ship….
Finally, a Little Election News…
Ballot contests in San Francisco and the East Bay are worth a look if you get the chance. Oakland and San Francisco are likely to raise the minimum wage to $12.25. And there are attempts in Berkeley and San Franscico to impose a tax on sodas.
San Francisco’s Proposition E seeks a $0.02 per ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. In other words, tax on a 12 ounce soda would be 24 cents.
Berkeley’s Measure D would be a “1¢ per ounce general tax on the distribution of high-calorie, sugary drinks (e.g., sodas, energy drinks, presweetened teas) and sweeteners used to sweeten such drinks….”
As of early October Big Soda had spent $1.4 million to defeat Measure D in Berkeley (a city of 117,000 people), and $7.7 million to defeat Proposition E in San Francisco (population 837,000). Fundraising by soda tax proponents amounts to $135,000 in Berkeley and $260,000 in San Francisco.
Optimism is high among supporters in Berkeley, where only a simple majority is needed to win in November. Things will be tougher in San Francisco, where a two-thirds majority is required to win.
Election Night Pro Tip
If you’re reading this before the votes are counted and have a twitter account, this (courtesy of the UT’s Matthew T Hall) is the list of local activists, journos and politicos to subscribe to: https://twitter.com/
On This Day: 1879– Populist humorist Will Rogers was born near Oologah, Indian Territory (later Oklahoma). One of his many memorable quotes: “I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat.” 1961 – Bob Dylan made his Carnegie Chapter Hall debut in New York City. The show was seen by 50 people who paid two dollars each at Carnegie Hall. 1989 – About a million East Germans filled the streets of East Berlin in a pro-democracy rally.
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