Monthly Archives: November 2005

beck + qrio = robotastic

I, for one, welcome our new “robot dance overlords”: (Warning: your choice of crappy Windows Media or crappy Real Media.) Seriously, who knew that one day robots would be dancing like 80s pop stars dancing like robots?

how organic, exactly?

I’m probably late to the party on this one, but I just heard about this one today. A recent Senate vote “weakened the USDA Organic standard”: by allowing the definition of “organic” to include all sorts of artificial substances:

bq. Ominously, the Senate’s act would strip power to decide which synthetic substances can and cannot be used from the National Organic Standards Board, a 15-member panel made up of a mix of farmers, processors, retailers, scientists, consumer advocates, environmentalists, and certifying agents. Although the board is appointed by the USDA chief, it has acted independently — and by most accounts, responsibly — in its ten-year history, approving only 38 synthetic ingredients.

The Grist article (linked above) has some good comments at the end, from both sides of the fence. My favorite quote from one of them:

bq. If the USDA and the dominant companies in the OTA continue to ignore consumer and organic community expectations…, we will set up our own label, certification, and accreditation system and point out to consumers that “USDA Organic” means “grade B organic,” and that consumers looking for “grade A” will have to look for our new label.

Unfortunately, it’s just this kind of label confusion that the USDA Organic program was supposed to resolve in the first place. Sigh.

the real face of gitmo

If you aren’t outraged, you’re not paying attention. Either way, read “Detainees Deserve Court Trials”:, an outstanding opinion piece in today’s Washington Post.

bq.. As the Senate prepared to vote Thursday to abolish the writ of habeas corpus, Sens. Lindsey Graham and Jon Kyl were railing about lawyers like me. Filing lawsuits on behalf of the terrorists at Guantanamo Bay. Terrorists! Kyl must have said the word 30 times.

As I listened, I wished the senators could meet my client Adel. Adel is innocent. I don’t mean he claims to be. I mean the military says so. It held a secret tribunal and ruled that he is not al Qaeda, not Taliban, not a terrorist.

The military people reached this conclusion, and they wrote it down on a memo, and then they classified the memo and Adel went from the hearing room back to his prison cell. He is a prisoner today, eight months later. And these facts would still be a secret but for one thing: habeas corpus.

p. This deserves to be read far and wide. I’m ashamed that my government is doing this in my name, and I want it stopped right now.

inherit the wind (power)

Now _that’s_ what I’m talkin’ about. The UK government, which recently started supporting wind power in a big way, just completed a study that shows that “wind is a stable, continuous source of energy”: in the UK, and has been for as long as they have records. In fact, it seems to provide more energy during winter, when it’s needed most. Imagine that: a fact-based approach to evaluating energy resources. What a novel idea.