Would You Trust Joe the Plumber With Your Pipes?

He’s unlicensed.

I’m terribly cheap as well as broke, and it gets me to pay what licensed plumbers charge. But I have hired many over the years, and I’m glad now to have a plumber who is very good, she saves me money in the long run.

Over the years, I’ve discovered that plumbers know some things about electric wires, where they are located, gas pipes, underground city water pipes, building codes. Good stuff to know. I don’t want to get electrocuted, blown up or drowned. My house is almost a hundred years old, and I have a twenty year plan to bring it up to the twenty first century. I trust my plumber. I think she votes Democratic, but it’s not a political relationship. It’s based on competence and honesty.

In Republican politics I guess you can be a plumber and bypass all that credential stuff. And I guess not show any references, or pay your taxes. It’s okay to talk about a business you are planning to buy as if you really were, when actually you don’t have the money. It’s okay to misrepresent the other candidate’s tax plan, which would be better for you but not for your new political friends. They’ll take care of you after the election.

Will Joe the Plumber get to work on the McCain mansions? I hope so, because a working guy needs a job, even if he’s paid under the table.

Max Cleland

Early in the Iraq War former Georgia Senator Max Cleland spoke at Brown. He said, ‘I’ve seen this film before.’ Max Cleland suffered grievous wounds during his service in Vietnam, and served his country as a US Senator, until his defeat by Saxby Chambliss in one of the dirtiest campaigns ever run. It’s a tribute to advertising genius that a man who missed the Vietnam War due to a bum knee could paint a triple amputee as unpatriotic.

I’ve thought of Max Cleland often, as I’ve not heard a word about him from his fellow veteran, John McCain, so I’m glad to see a post from him here.

A Ray of Hope

If we 21st century folk are eating more potatoes, at least we won’t have to sit in the dark

Columbus (OH) – Researchers at Ohio State University have accidentally discovered a new solar cell material capable of absorbing all of the sun’s visible light energy. The material is comprised of a hybrid of plastics, molybdenum and titanium. The team discovered it not only fluoresces (as most solar cells do), but also phosphoresces. Electrons in a phosphorescent state remain at a place where they can be “siphoned off” as electricity over 7 million times longer than those generated in a fluorescent state. This combination of materials also utilizes the entire visible spectrum of light energy, translating into a theoretical potential of almost 100% efficiency. Commercial products are still years away, but this foundational work may well pave the way for a truly renewable form of clean, global energy.

Whatever happens after Tuesday, we need to make energy independence a top priority. If we can buy a solar lawn light from China for 3 bucks it can’t be far away. Think decentralized, think clean, think of an Energy Race that will make our country proud and respected. Yes, we can.

Goodbye to the Year of the Potato

As 2008 rolls to a stop, I’m going to miss the International Year of the Potato. The potato is honored on a beautiful website here, and last winter, Kmareka reader Teresa posted a great baked potato recipe.

The spud got some respect in this week’s Sunday New York Times

Grains like wheat and rice have long been staples of diets in most of the world and the main currency of food aid. Now, a number of scientists, nutritionists and aid specialists are increasingly convinced that the potato should be playing a much larger role to ensure a steady supply of food in the developing world.

Poor countries could grow more potatoes, they say, to supplement or even replace grains that are most often shipped in from far away and are subject to severe market gyrations.

Even before a sharp price spike earlier this year, governments in countries from China to Peru to Malawi had begun urging both potato growing and eating as a way to ensure food security and build rural income.
Potatoes are a good source of protein, starch, vitamins and nutrients like zinc and iron. As a crop, they require less energy and water to grow than wheat, taking just three months from planting to harvest. Since they are heavy and do not transport well, they are not generally traded on world financial markets, making their price less vulnerable to speculation. They are not generally used to produce biofuels, a new use for food crops that has helped drive up grain prices. When grain prices skyrocketed, potato prices remained stable.

Beyond that, potato yields can be easily increased in most of the world, where they are grown inefficiently and in small numbers.

It’s good to have some simple and cheap recipes, especially if you can cook and warm up the house at the same time. What are your favorites?

The Big Black Man

My nephews are tall, handsome, smart and black. My nephews are tall, handsome, smart and white. We are a multiracial family. All of my nephews have to navigate being young men in this crazy world, but some more than others have to worry about profiling, rogue cops, corrupt courts. That is why Ashley Todd’s lie is so dangerous. Too many innocent black men have been picked up, tried and convicted, to advance someone’s career or political agenda.

Here’s a good post from the Washington Monthly, read it all, it’s worth it…

I’d like to give a shout-out to the Pittsburgh police. I know nothing about the officers who worked this case, but it seems unlikely that they are all Democrats, all Republicans, or all any political anything. They are professionals, and they did their jobs. If they hadn’t, some tall black man who was just going to the store or taking a walk could have ended up in jail.

Because the police did their jobs, some innocent man, somewhere, will get to enjoy the rest of his life. No one will ever know which tall black man would ever have been wrongfully arrested, or whose life might have been ruined, not even the man himself. But he’s out there somewhere, and while he owes his close call to Ashley Todd’s racism, he owes his escape to the Pittsburgh police. Had it not been for them, ten years from now the Pittsburgh papers might have had occasion to write a story like this:

“A decade after he was cleared as a suspect in one of Boston’s most notorious crimes, William Bennett is still very angry.

In autumn of 1989, the ex-convict was named a suspect in the killing of Carol DiMaiti Stuart, a pregnant, suburban white woman shot, allegedly by a black man, in what looked like a random street robbery. Bennett’s arrest seemed to solve a high-profile murder case, quieting an outraged city whose leaders promised swift justice. But when suspicion shifted to the husband, Charles Stuart, Bennett went from cold-blooded murder suspect to a symbol of police abuse and Boston’s lingering racial divide.

Yesterday, in a rare interview, Bennett told the Globe the case still haunts him. He blames it for his mother’s premature death and frayed family ties. And he refuses to hide his frustration.

“I don’t trust anybody. I barely trust myself,” said Bennett, now 50. “The police falsely pinned a crime on me once and they can do it again.

“I have no faith in the law enforcement and I don’t like cops,” said Bennett, who does kitchen work on Newbury Street for a food service company. “Nothing has changed. You still have those same racist cops on the police force.”” (Boston Globe, 4/6/2000.)

Ashley Todd will have to face the consequences of filing a false charge, but her lie damaged more than herself, it brought up all too recent injustices that have not been remedied, and if she had not been found out, her lie would have been used to smear the candidate who happens to be black.