I just wanted to let our readers know that the Denton County Democratic Party had a press conference tonight before a standing-room-only crowd to announce our Democratic candidates for state, county, and federal office in 2008.
I'm really excited about this year's slate. Every one of them is qualified and is running to win. There are no "placeholders".
It's time for a change!
Candidacies announced: - County Democratic Chairman - Neil Durrance, Denton - District Judge, 16th district - Karen Guerra, Carrollton - Constable, Pct. 5 - Mike Ballard, Denton - State Board of Education, 14th district - Edra Bogle - County Commissioner, Pct. 1 - Phyllis Wolper, Denton - State Rep., Dist 63 - Jesus Garcia, Ponder - State Rep., Dist 64 - John McClelland, Little Elm - U.S. Rep., Dist 24 - Tom Love, Arlington - U.S. Rep., Dist 26 - Kenneth Leach, Gainesville
We'll see if we can get some video posted soon... ;)
An illustration of using the Scientific Method to answer a question:
1. Make Observations
My wife and I sleep on a king-sized bed covered with an electric blanket. The blanket is covered with a fitted sheet. This blanket has two independent zones with thermostats, left and right. We noticed the other night that as my wife was laying on the left, and me on the right, if she touched my arm with her finger, it resonated much like a finger on the rim of a crystal wine glass. It made a hum that was audible at close range.
Periodically this property of a resonating touch would go away. After awhile, it would come back. The resonance would happen whenever you touch and move your finger. It didn't matter how much pressure was applied.
Eventually, it was observed that the stopping or starting of this property coincided with a "click" sound. This click was determined to be coming from the temperature control switches for the electric blanket on either side of our bed. We also noticed that the property was only present when one and only one side of the electric blanket was on. If both were on, or both were off, the property did not exist.
The resonance, I would judge to be consistent with the 60hz frequency of household electric current. The resonance can be felt on the skin, but is not painful. No sparks are visible. Neither the skin, nor the blanket was wet or damp in any way. This can be repeated reliably by adjusting one of the thermostats to stay on and turning the dial on the other so that it turns off or on.
2. Research and Make a Hypothesis
Based on my amateur knowledge of electricity, I would say that the blanket is either leaking or inducing a current into our bodies. When one body touches the other, which is not energized, current will pass through the other body, and leak or induce back into the other side of the blanket.
More literature research is needed.
At this point, I am concerned that there may be negative health effects from this. Though an experiment of this scope will not make a finding as to health effects, it may be possible to quantify the current and use the literature to see whether it's thought of as unhealthy. There is a reason to continue the use of the blanket if there are no health effects, because it saves energy that would normally be used for heating the house at night.
3. Design an Experiment
(Incomplete) Obtain a multimeter capable of measuring voltage in AC and DC. Have each person hold a probe and figure out whether there is a current.
Possibly try different insulators to see whether the current from the blanket can be blocked.
Possibly see if a fluorescent tube would light when held between the two people.
2007 was a great year for the Texas Progressive Alliance and its many member blogs and bloggers. It was also a record-setting year for WhosPlayin in terms of both traffic and revenue. At this rate, WhosPlayin will begin to turn a profit in 2012! :D
In recognition of the excellent work done by our many bloggers we're treating you to a special New Year's edition of the TPA round-up. So, without further ado, here is your "Best of 2007" from the many bloggers of the Texas Progressive Alliance.
The most popular posts from The Texas Blue in our first year included: Our running coverage of the 2008 Senate race. We kicked everything off with one of our inaugural pieces analyzing Cornyn's potential vulnerability in '08, in a piece picked up by the Washington Post. We then broke the code on Kos' "mystery candidate," revealing that it was Rep. Rick Noriega that Kos had in mind with his draft movement, and interviewed the Representative shortly before he declared his official candidacy. And we published some of the first information examining Mikal Watts' candidacy in what became the most read story on the Blue this year; In what also became one of our most-read pieces, we analyzed the role of money in statewide Texas campaigns, looking at the efforts taken by the statewide campaign of David Van Os to illustrate the need for money in politics, the proper role of a nascent state party organization, and the limits on the effectiveness of a political message that come from the inability to effectively spread that message due to the lack of funds to reach large numbers of Texans efficiently. This article led to a dialog with David Van Os, and to an interview with him shortly afterward where he voices his side of the issue; And finally, though two interviews have been mentioned already, our "Who's Blue" audio interview series also includes a number of other fascinating figures in Democratic politics, both statewide and across the nation. Some of the more notable interviews have been with four-star Army General and 2004 presidential candidate Wesley Clark, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, and current presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.
We at The North Texas Liberal had some trouble deciding on which posts were our absolute favorites of 2007! But we decided on a few standouts that seemed worthy of mentioning for a second time. First, a series on Shaquanda Cotton. Cotton is a fifteen-year-old African American girl from Paris, Texas. She was sentenced to up to seven years at the TYC for pushing a hall monitor at her school (the same judge that sentenced her gave a white girl that was convicted of burning down the family home to probation). Our coverage of Cotton garnered the attention of someone at the Lamar County DA's office who used some recycled talking points to trash Cotton and her mother. Despite all of this, after the mainstream media broke Cotton's story, she became a candidate for early release. By the end of March, it was official that she would be released from the TYC, and in April we showed a video of her reunion with her mother. Cotton has returned to school and wants to study to become a lawyer so she can fight future injustices. We continued our global warming coverage with our Planet Purgatory series, parts One and Two. In May, we heard that the global warming tipping point could be in only ten years' time. NASA scientist James Hansen, a tireless environment advocate who testified about global warming before the Congress back in the 1980s, explains the tipping point theory... the point of no return. But he also believes in prevention rather than adaptation. If you missed this one, check out the post... if you're concerned at all about the environment, you'll want to read it. We continued our global warming coverage with our Planet Purgatory series, parts One and Two. Lastly, we gave Sen. John Cornyn the credit he deserved when he finally stood right side of an issue. Despite a year of flops and fabrications, he said he would support seasonal workers through the H2-B visa program. But despite the efforts of Maryland Democrat Sen. Barbara Mikulski, the fix wasn't finalized before Congress broke for the winter holidays, leaving thousands of small business owners out in the cold this holiday season. When we spoke face-to-face with a legislative expert at Cornyn's DC office, we were told that the Texas senator would like to see comprehensive immigration reform and wouldn't lobby for the H2-B visas, though he supported seasonal workers, because he didn't want to piecemeal a fix for the immigration problem. So even though he stood with his constituents on the right side of the issue, in the end he let them down again.
It has been another exciting year at DosCentavos. I've tried to go over some of my better postings of the year and came up with three. DosCentavos wrote about his expectations for the 2007Lege Session. Beyond La Politica, we also know DosCentavos enjoys writing reviews on the latest releases in the Tejano and Mexican American music genre. This year, he received the honor of being asked by Los Lobos to rate their most recent release, The Town and The City. Finally, during the last Lege session, some Senators attempted to take up the debate on legalizing gambling to pay for education. DC tells us a few realities about higher education funding in the process.
Musings started the year concerned about science education in Texas (see: Warren Chisum, R-Dark Ages) and ended the year with some commentary about her friend, Chris Comer, being fired as Director of Science at the Texas Education Agency over her stand on evolution. In between it was all about Melissa and Rick Noriega.
The Texas Cloverleaf, another blog new to the TPA this year, was a submission hold performed by professional wrestler Dean Malenko, which tied up his opponent's legs, much like a clover. We are designed to be one of those lefty progressive Democratic type political blogs. We live in North Texas, so expect a lot of DFW area stuff. But, we like the rest of the state, sometimes. Maybe even America. But don't push us! Politics is like a Texas Cloverleaf. It takes you in different directions, and ultimately will make you tap out! The series we are most proud of since forming in the summer of 2007 was the continued exposure of the outright lies and misleading statements coming from the pro-toll road crowd in Dallas during the Trinity Vote effort. Even though the referendum failed, we feel we did our part to help Dallas voters make an informed decision. Read the series here, here, here, here and here.
Best wishes for a happy 2008 from the Texas Progressive Alliance.
1. Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton
2. Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's Daddy made war on him , a good guy when Cheney did business with him, and a bad guy when Bush needed a "we can't find Bin Laden" diversion.
3. Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is Communist, but trade with China and Viet Nam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.
4. The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing U.N. resolutions against Iraq.
5. A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multinational drug corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without regulation.
6. The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches, while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.
7. If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.
8. A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our longtime allies, then demand their cooperation and money.
9. Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy, but providing health care to all Americans is socialism. HMO's and insurance companies have the best interests of the public at heart.
10. Global warming and tobacco's link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.
11. A president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense, but a president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy.
12. Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet .
13. The public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades, but George Bush's driving record is none of our business.
14. Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a conservative radio host. Then it's an illness and you need our prayers for your recovery.
15. Supporting "Executive Privilege" for every Republican ever born, who will be born or who might be born (in perpetuity.)
16. What Bill Clinton did in the 1960's is of vital national interest, but what Bush did in the '80's is irrelevant.
17. Support hunters who shoot their friends and blame them for wearing orange vests similar to those worn by the quail.
I have a 2006 Toyota Prius that we bought from Toyota of Lewisville about a year and a half ago. It has only just shy of 19,000 miles on it. Overall, it's been a great car with no major problems and fun to drive.
However, last night when I had finished loading the back full of groceries bought at Target, I walked around to get in and discovered that the left front tire was completely flat.
At first, I thought that perhaps someone had slashed the tire, because it had not been low on the way to the store. So I pulled it slowly out of the parking space, flap-flap-flapping away into a more open part of the parking lot next to a light where I could see how to change the tire.
After removing the lug nuts, I reached around the tire to pull it off, and got several fingers full of prickly steel belt piercing my skin. The tire, as you can see in the photo above (click for larger version) had worn quite unevenly on the inside and could have blown out and injured someone. I was quite lucky to have it go flat in a parking lot.
Anyhow, long story short, all 4 tires were worn beyond where they should have been for the amount of mileage on them. Tires on a brand-new car should last more than 19,000 miles.
This morning, I called the dealership - Toyota of Lewisville, expecting that my super-duper extended bumper-to-bumper warranty would have me covered, at least on a pro-rated basis. Wrong, banana breath. Let me just say that I'm surprised that they were not in the least bit helpful on this. Even with me explaining that the car had less than 19,000 miles, all I got was that "Tire wear varies with your driving habits."
Poo on that. We drive the Prius on city streets. We don't burn out, or race. We take it to the dealer for periodic maintenance. We check the air in the tires now and then. But even if I was peeling out in this car, you'd still expect tires to last at least 40,000 miles.
Well, if you search Google for "Prius tire wear" you see that quite a few other people have had issues with this. It seems that even though you pay nearly $30,000 for this car, Toyota and Goodyear cheap-out on you and put downright crappy tires on it as OEM equipment.
So, I went to a place that I've been trusting for at least 15 years or so: Discount Tire. I spent a little over $400 and got a good set of Pirelli Cinturato P3000 P185/65R-15's It's an 85,000 mile tire, so hopefully they'll last through the first battery replacement.
I like going to Discount Tire because they don't do anything else but tires. They don't play games with up-selling you a bunch of crap. You ask for a set, they give you installed prices with no hassle and get you in and out in a hurry. You get new valve stems, mount and balance, free rotations and a good no-hassle warranty. (I've collected on it a couple of times from road hazards, and two off-brand tires I bought for my van that wore out prematurely)
One of the things I really like about Discount Tire is watching those guys work. They really work fast and efficiently.
Anyhow, I digress. I'm still conflicted about whether I should try to pursue anything with Toyota about compensation for the tires. I know that tires don't last forever, but they should at least last through the third oil change. In the past, I've been impressed with the folks at Toyota of Lewisville, but I'm pretty disappointed today. If I ever buy another car from them, I will definitely get a tire guarantee in writing. I'll let you know how it goes if I pursue anything.
It's beginning to look a lot like Monday, every where you go. Take a look at the blogs and posts glistening once again with threads and comments aglow. It's beginning to look a lot like Monday, Round-ups on ev'ry blog, but the prettiest sight to see is the post that will be from your own favorite blog....enjoy this week's Texas Progressive Alliance Blog Round-Up compiled by Vince from Capitol Annex.
Fred Thompson couldn't make the ballot in Delaware because of FIVE HUNDRED SIGNATURES. Mayor McSleaze at McBlogger thinks that's pretty pathetic. You will as well.
Muse discovers a list of 300+ women political bloggers! Female bloggers are playing a powerful role in this presidential election cycle – and are increasingly recognized for this. Texas bloggers are on the list. Check it out!
In his piece titled John Cornyn Files for Senate, Hal at Half Empty entertains the notion that the junior senator is really looking for an elusive seat on the US Supreme Court.
Stace at DosCentavos tells us about the newest Pew Center poll! It's no wonder many Citizen-Latinos (and especially undocumented folks) are feeling like people without a country.
And, last but not least, don't forget about Dan Barrett in House District 97, who has been endorsed by the Texas Progressive Alliance in his special election runoff. Matt at Burnt Orange Report has a great post about the race here.
One of the interesting things to see in this report is the distribution of household income in the population. The report gives income and taxation data from all 5 quintiles (20% intervals) of the population, plus the top 10%, 5%, and 1%.
Adjusted Household Income is determined by taking the total of all pre-tax income in the household, and dividing by the square root of the number of individuals.
To determine what your Adjusted Household Income is, plug your household income and number of family members into the form below: (Don't worry, this data is not sent to the web - it stays on your screen only.)
20% - 39.9%
40% - 59.9%
60% - 79.9%
80% - 89.9%
90% - 94.9%
95% - 98.9%
Were you as affluent as you thought? Unless you're in the top quintile, you didn't benefit from President Bush's economic policies.
I'll write more on this as I look into the numbers in more detail, but it's quite interesting to note that the bottom 80% of households had fairly stagnant total growth in wages, ranging from 2% to 3.9% in inflation adjusted numbers from 2003 to 2005. The top 20% had growth of 16%. Top 10%, 5%, and 1% had growth of 20.9%, 27.7%, and 43.5% respectively.
The data strongly suggest that the rich are getting richer, while the middle class and poor struggle along. However, economists are quick to point out one thing that this data does not show, which is year-to-year growth in income for the same people. If we had that data, we would be able to adjust these numbers to reflect "upward mobility" which is the tendency of households to earn more as they get merit raises and move forward in their careers. Even so, upward mobility can only explain so much.
Perhaps I'm a geek, but I'm finding it really interesting to comb through these numbers. As I find a better way to interpret them, I'll post some of the tax rates, tax liabilities, and average gains.