05/27/2012 archive

Sunday Train: Sustainable Steam Train? / SF Muni – HSR Disconnect? / A Geary Aerobus?

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

This week’s Sunday Train is a trio of shorter topics. The first is a research development project to develop a modern steam train to run on biocoal. The target is a sustainable steam train that, as a headline grabber, will attempt to run at 130mph and break the world steam train speed record. There’s much to like about this research development project … but I am going to argue that biocoal to operate trains is not it.

Second, SF’s MUNI transport agency is one of the ten agencies slated to split $760m in Prop1a(2008) bond funds improvements to systems interconnecting with the planned High Speed Rail system. The balance of the $950m goes to the three existing Amtrak California intercity rail services, the Capitol Corridor, the San Joaquin, and the Surfliner.

Odd thing is, the proposal that SF MUNI is setting forward doesn’t actually connect to the proposed HSR system? What’s up with that, after the break.

And third, a speculative look at an alternative technology that SF MUNI might deploy that money on, that actually would connect with the HSR system at the Transbay Terminal, as well as connecting to BART, the MUNI light rail network, the existing (and proposed alternative) Caltrain terminus at 4th and King, and provide express transit service along Geary Blvd.

So instead of the traditional long trip, Sunday Train for Memorial Day Weekend has three short exursions. Join us for one, two, or all three, after the break.

Rant of the Week: Bill Maher

What Exactly Has Obama Done That Has Made Conservatives So Angry?

On This Day In History May 27

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on image to enlarge

May 27 is the 147th day of the year (148th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 218 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1813, former President Thomas Jefferson writes former President John Adams to let him know that their mutual friend, Dr. Benjamin Rush, has died.

Rush’s passing caused Jefferson to meditate upon the departure of the Revolutionary generation. He wrote, We too must go; and that ere long. I believe we are under half a dozen at present; I mean the signers of the Declaration.

A Rift

Despite their close friendship, Jefferson wrote that he and Adams were often separated by “different conclusions we had drawn from our political reading.” The two maintained their friendship despite their political differences until 1801, the year that Jefferson became president. As Jefferson wrote Mrs. Adams: “I can say with truth that one act of Mr. Adams’s life, and one only, ever gave me a moment’s personal displeasure.” By this, Jefferson was referring to last-minute political appointments made by Adams just before Jefferson succeeded him as president. Jefferson wrote that the appointments “were [selected] from among my most ardent political enemies” who could be counted on to work against his executive authority. Jefferson admitted to “brooding over it for some little time,” and during this period, they ceased writing one another.

A Reconciliation

When Jefferson retired from the presidency in 1809, Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration that Adams and Jefferson worked to create, took it upon himself to renew their suspended friendship. He had no success until 1811, when one of Jefferson’s neighbors visited Adams in Massachusetts. The neighbor returned to Virginia with the report that he had heard Adams say, “I always loved Jefferson, and still love him.” In response to these words, Jefferson wrote Dr. Rush: “This is enough for me. I only needed this knowledge to revive towards him all of the affections of the most cordial moments of our lives.” He asked Rush to persuade Adams to renew their correspondence. A letter from Adams was forthcoming, and they continued to write until their deaths.

This reconciliation began a rich correspondence that touched on myriad topics, from reminiscences about their contributions to the young nation’s history, to opinions on current political issues, to matters of philosophy and religion, to issues of aging. Their letters were also lighthearted and filled with affection. Jefferson wrote, “I have compared notes with Mr. Adams on the score of progeny, and find I am ahead of him, and think I am in a fair way to keep so. I have 10 1/2 grandchildren, and 2 3/4 great-grand-children; and these fractions will ere long become units.”

A Lasting Legacy

After fifteen years of resumed friendship, on July 4, 1826, Jefferson and Adams died within hours of each other. Their deaths occurred — perhaps appropriately — on the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Unaware that his friend had died hours earlier, Adams’ last spoken words were “Jefferson still survives.”

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

 Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

The Sunday Talking Heads:

Up with Chris Hayes: Sunday’s Up with Chris‘ guests are Michelle Goldberg (@michelleinbklyn), author of The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power and the Future of the World; Liliana Segura (@lilianasegura), associate editor at The Nation; John McWhorter, professor of linguistics and American studies at Columbia University; Michael Brendan Dougherty (@michaelbd), politics editor at Business Insider; Mary Kirkland, mother of Private Derrick Kirkland (1987-2010); Barry Scheck (@barryscheck), co-founder of The Innocence Project and co-author of Actual Innocence: Five Days to Execution and Other Dispatches from the Wrongfully Convicted; and Lt. Col. Steve Beck, active duty Marine, casualty assistance officer, and associate professor of naval science at Carnegie Mellon University.

The Melissa Harris-Perry Show: MHP’s Sunday guests were not announced.

This Week with George Stephanopolis: George has an exclusive interview with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta who will tell everyone why we still need to be afraid and must continue to act against our own self interests at home & abroad with military aggression, and trampling the Constitution.

The roundtable guests are ABC News’ George Will, former Michigan governor and host of Current TV’s “The War Room” Jennifer Granholm, Fox Business Network anchor Liz Claman, Washington Post national political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson, and National Journal editorial director Ron Brownstein.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer:  Sunday’s guests are Republican Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY); and Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) who lost his bid for reelection to a Tea Party backed candidate, opening the possibility of a Democratic take over of the seat.

The panel guests are authors Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy, co-authors of “The President’s Club,” Robert Merry, author of “Where They Stand,” and Douglas Brinkley, author of “Cronkite” who will examine the role of the president through history.

The Chris Matthews Show: This week’s guests are Kasie Hunt, Associated Press political reporter; Helene Cooper, The New York Times White House correspondent; Major Garrett, National Journal Congressional correspondent; Joe Klein, TIME columnist.

Meet the Press with David Gregory: The guests for Sunday are Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-MD) and former Republican Presidential Candidate Newt Gingrich; best-selling author and award-winning journalist, Maria Shriver< and best-selling author Michael Lewis will give their advice to the 2012 graduates.

The roundtable panel guests are Mayor of Los Angeles and Chairman of the 2012 Democratic National Convention, Antonio Villaraigosa; Vice Chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and former head of Hewlett-Packard, Carly Fiorina; author of the new book “Our Divided Political Heart,” the Washington Post‘s EJ Dionne; and from the New York Times, David Brooks.

State of the Union with Candy Crowley: Ms. Crowley’s guests are former Republican Presidential Candidate Rudy Giuliani, and DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz; General Peter Chiarelli (ret.), Fmr. vice chief of staff of the U.S. Army on treating PTSD and brain injuries in veterans; and Senator Patty Murray, chairwoman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, on the V.A.’s struggle to break the backlog of disability claims; Tim Tetz, Legislative Director of the American Legion, and Paul Rieckhoff, Founder and Executive Director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America on the challenges our nation’s veterans have in finding a job in a struggling economy.

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

Syria massacre in Houla condemned as outrage grows

 Western nations are pressing for a response to the massacre in the Syrian town of Houla, with the US calling for an end to what it called President Bashar al-Assad’s “rule by murder”

The BBC 27 May 2012  

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council this week.

The UN has confirmed the deaths of at least 90 people in Houla, including 32 children under the age of 10.

The Syrian government blamed the deaths on “armed terrorist gangs”.

Houla, in the central province of Homs, came under sustained bombardment by the Syrian army after demonstrations on Friday.

Activists say some of the victims died by shelling, while others were summarily executed by the regime militia known as the “shabiha”.

Sunday’s Headlines:

Gorilla areas bombed by Congo rebels

Fight goes on, without athletes

In Brazil, a showdown over rainforest deforestation

In Mexicali, a haven for broken lives

India’s Hampi heritage site families face eviction from historic ruins

Formula One: Circuit de Monaco

Monaco is the preening face of Formula One which is the only reason it has survived practically unchanged while the other great courses have been warped almost beyond recognition.  It’s a short twisty funnel of doom where you start where you finish unless you park.

And by park I mean flaming chunks of twisted metal or mechanical failure.

The study of entrophy is hugely depressing-

The law that entropy always increases holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations – then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation – well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.

The thing about young people is that each slice of their existence represents such a large portion of the whole.  It takes close study or direct comparison to detect the decline.

Nothing is what it was and implosion is never far away.  We circle the drain.  The makeup is cracking and the surgeon repaired throat wattles…

Well, wattling.

But the point is the decaying facade of western civilization is on display today.

‘I think it’s time I was thinking of getting back to New York.  Let’s have a meal somewhere and I can phone the airline for plane times.  What day is it, we seem to have lost a weekend.  I need a drink.’

‘You need a lynching.  You’ve upset my friends and I haven’t written a goddamn word.  I’ve been too busy looking after you.  Your work here is done.  I can never come back here again.  This whole thing will probably finish me as a writer.  I have no story.’

‘Well I know we got a bit pissed and let things slip a bit but there’s lots of colour.  Lots happened.’

‘Holy Shit!  You scumbag!  This is Kentucky, not Skid Row.  I love these people.  They are my friends and you treated them like scum.’

Pretty tables to come.

Pretty tables done.

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