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5 Essential Hacks for Camping with Children

Saturday, May 10th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

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Camping season approaches, and spending time in the wilderness with your children is a joy but it can be a challenge too. Here are my five essential hacks for making sure the camping experience is a happy one for your family.

1) Bring Lots of Baby Wipes

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If your kids are out of diapers and you don’t think you need baby wipes any more, think again. Baby wipes aren’t just for diaper changes. The cooling, cleansing feel of a baby wipe makes all parts of a camping trip better. We pack three or four containers for each trip. In the morning, use baby wipes to clean faces and hands before breakfast. After breakfast, the tough wipes can clean out pots and pans so the food ends up in your trash bag and not on the ground near your campsite. Swish water in the pans after you’re done and they’re ready for the next meal. During the hot hours of the day, a baby wipe cools and refreshes the skin. At night, baby wipes clean sticky marshmallows off delicate fingers and faces. Which brings me to…

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How Much Would You Pay for Grass Clippings?

Monday, April 21st, 2014 - by Leslie Loftis

Whole Foods Easter grass

For Easter this year, Whole Foods sold Organic Timothy Grass for kids’ Easter baskets. The story sounds good, as usual—plastic is toxic and the stuff in the Easter baskets lingers for years on the planet. Not mentioned is how prevalent shredded, recycled paper has become for baskets or how the plastic grass lasts and gets reused year after year. That is, the menace of plastic grass is overstated. Also not mentioned in the real grass is great story, the price of the real grass.

As I first learned about the grass clippings in a Tweet from @johnrobison, “Salute the marketing geniuses at @WholeFoods for selling grass clippings for $23.96 a pound – More than good steak!”

Price Matters

A few months ago, Rhonda Robinson posted about a poor neighborhood that “ran off” a Trader Joe’s opening. The gist of the article and comments assumed the neighborhood had elevated politics over health and made a bad decision. She concluded, “The Portland African American Leadership Forum would much rather see empty decaying buildings in their neighborhood than give up their victim card.”

I doubt the neighborhood would rather keep vacant buildings. I also doubt that they objected to a grocery store opening. They likely objected to a Trader Joe’s opening.

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Is Smart Car Vandalism the New Cow Tipping?

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Growing up on the outer edges of Atlanta’s suburbs, I’d heard about cow tipping. For the uninitiated, the idea of cow tipping stems from the (false) supposition that cows sleeping standing up could be knocked over easily. Truth be told, cow tipping is an urban legend – probably what city folk think we do out in the sticks.

Last weekend in San Francisco, a group of people prowled the streets of the city overnight and vandalized Smart Cars by turning them on their sides, hoods, and rear ends.

Hitting four smart cars in a few hours, an eyewitness account indicated that eight people wearing hooded sweatshirts flipped one of the cars. At approximately 1,500 to 1,800 pounds per car, each vehicle had smashed windows as well as significant body damage from being flipped over.

Speaking about one of the car-tipping incidents, eyewitness Brandon Michael said “I thought they looked like they were up to no good and then sure enough they walk up to this Smart Car right here, all huddle around it and just lift it up and set it on its hind legs, like a dog on its hind legs, — that’s pretty much it.” According to San Francisco Police Officer Gordon Shyy, the car-tipping vandals have yet to be identified and will likely face felony charges if caught.

Vandals in other cities have targeted the tiny cars in years past. Three years ago, a group in Vancouver turned a Smart Car over as a crowed cheered them on. In 2009, authorities arrested an Edmonton, Alberta man for tipping a Smart Car.

The police don’t know if the vandals are random thugs going after easy targets or if they are trying to make a statement against the environmentally friendly cars.

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6 Kids Films Filled With Green Propaganda

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014 - by John Boot

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in September of 2013 as “6 Animated Kids Movies with Annoyingly Intrusive Political Messages.” It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months… Click here to see the top 25 so far and to advocate for your favorites in the comments.

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The animated children’s movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 lands in theaters this week [it's now available on Blu Ray] with a strange anti-food processing message: The bad guy wants to take adorable anthropomorphic animal-foods and feed them into his giant food processor to make energy bars.

Surprisingly, this movie is actually less obnoxiously political than lots of other offerings being sold to your kids. Here are five especially egregious examples of kids’ movies with intrusive political messages.

1. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009).

The original film took a fun kids’ book and loaded it up with political freight: it’s set in a struggling island town that hits a windfall when a young inventor named Flint Lockwood invents a machine that can turn water into food.

Before you know it, it’s raining meat and produce. Sounds like a resource-management problem: If it rained gold, would we figure out a way to profit from it or scream that doomsday has arrived?

The movie turns into a lecture on materialism, inviting us to see the connection between consumer habits and extreme weather/global warming. See, if we don’t get out of our big comfy SUVs and stop craving so much food, the weather-gods will plague us forever. Hollywood’s neo-Puritanism is alive and well. 

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How 7 Crappy Green Products Threaten To Annoy Your Family

Sunday, March 16th, 2014 - by J. Christian Adams

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in January of 2013 as “7 Crappy Products, Courtesy of the Green Movement.” It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months… Click here to see the top 25 so far and to advocate for your favorites in the comments.

In the good old days, consumers got what they wanted. Supply and demand, not causes or ideology, governed product design and manufacturing. That’s why we have great American icons like the 1969 Chevy Camaro, the charcoal-burning Weber grill, and DDT.

But things have changed. The Green Movement’s worship of scarcity has changed the consumer landscape for the worse. Instead of big, powerful, and, most importantly, effective products, in 2012 consumers must suffer with pansy products. Sure, they are designed to save energy and make you feel good. But they just don’t work as well as the old, and usually cheaper, versions.

Below are seven crappy products we must endure, courtesy of the Green Movement.

1. Low Water Toilets

Any article with the headline above must start with low water toilets. Many of you will remember an age before the government decided water was scarce, when toilets could be counted on. In 1992, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act, and President George Bush signed it. It mandated a maximum flush capacity for toilets. Naturally, the 1992 version of the Green Movement was behind the law, and behind the Republican sponsor – Representative Philip Sharp of Indiana. Since Bush signed Sharp’s legislation, plunger sales have sky-rocketed. Sharp’s bad idea has caused some of the most embarrassing moments of people’s lives, especially when they are visiting someone else’s home.

Beware, the freaks next want to eliminate water in your toilet, as well as toilet paper.

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How 6 Green Lies Threaten To Starve Your Family

Sunday, March 16th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in October of 2012 as “6 Green Lies Threatening to Starve You.” It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months… Click here to see the top 25 so far and to advocate for your favorites in the comments.

Ain’t prosperity grand? We have so much to eat in this country that we toss nearly half of it in the trash. At least that’s the finding of a recent study conducted by a prominent environmental organization. From the Los Angeles Times:

Americans are throwing out nearly every other bite of food, wasting up to 40% of the country’s supply each year – a mass of uneaten provisions worth $165 billion, according to a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

An average family of four squanders $2,275 in food each year, or 20 pounds per person per month, according to the nonprofit and nonpartisan environmental advocacy group.

Among the study’s prescriptions is a call for government “to set a target for food-waste reduction” as the European Parliament has. After resolving to reduce food waste, the body stated:

The most important problem in the future will be to tackle increased demand for food, as it will outstrip supply. We can no longer afford to stand idly by while perfectly edible food is being wasted. This is an ethical but also an economic and social problem, with huge implications for the environment.

The obvious alternative to any government “standing idly by” is its taking action. Whenever government takes action, it applies force. That is the NRDC’s ultimate prescription, to force Americans to reduce food waste. This is ironic since government action already plays a substantial role in the amount of food produced and consumed. The Cato Institute’s Chris Edwards explains:

Farm subsidies damage the economy. In most industries, market prices balance supply and demand and encourage efficient production. But Congress short–circuits market mechanisms in agriculture. Farm programs cause overproduction, the overuse of marginal farmland, land price inflation and excess borrowing by farm businesses.

Force is not a morally permissible or practically effective means of guiding productive behavior. Our rejection of slavery is an acknowledgment of that truth. Yet the notion that government ought to act forcefully to prevent pollution and reduce waste remains popular. Why?

The case built by green movement organizations like the NRDC relies on a tightly wound knot of lies. These falsehoods appear in the NRDC’s mission “to safeguard the Earth, its people, its plants and animals and the natural systems on which all life depends,” as well as its “priority issues”:

    • Curbing global warming
    • Creating the clean energy future
    • Reviving the world’s oceans
    • Defending endangered wildlife and wild places
    • Protecting our health by preventing pollution
    • Ensuring safe and sufficient water
    • and; Fostering sustainable communities

Underlying this mission and these goals are six green lies which threaten to starve you and your family…

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Should Atlas Shrug Off Apple?

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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What would you do, as the owner of a company, if the manager you hired to run it rebuked your desire for the highest return on investment? Imagine that you approach your manager with concerns about his performance, and he tells you to stop worrying so much about profit.

Apple CEO Tim Cook did precisely that in a meeting with stockholders at the company’s Cupertino headquarters. Mashable reports on the confrontation with a group of stockholders objecting to Cook’s wasteful spending on environmental initiatives:

“We do a lot of things for reasons besides profit motive,” the CEO said:

We do things because they are right and just and that is who we are. That’s who we are as a company. I don’t…when I think about human rights, I don’t think about an ROI. When I think about making our products accessible for the people that can’t see or to help a kid with autism, I don’t think about a bloody ROI, and by the same token, I don’t think about helping our environment from an ROI point of view.

Anyone who had a problem with that approach? They should sell their Apple shares. “If you only want me to make things, make decisions that have a clear ROI, then you should get out of the stock,” Cook said to applause.

Emphasis should be placed on that applause. Stockholders went on to vote down a proposal to halt environmental efforts which hurt the company’s bottom line. In other words, stockholders voted against making money.

The episode evokes comparisons to Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and the character of James Taggart, heir to a railroad company who squanders his inherited wealth on altruistic efforts which ruin both his company and the national economy. Like Cook, Taggart believes business should be motivated by more than profit. Like Cook, Taggart believes business holds some responsibility to help people.

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18 Reasons Why You Wish You Were in Israel Right Now

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

With 49 states buried in snow and most schools in the northeastern U.S. looking at anywhere from 7-10 snow days to make up, our country is ready for a warm up of national proportions. Throw on your heat lamps, put on a bathing suit under that fleece, and cuddle up to these 18 (the number of chai or “life”) warm images of sun, beach and desert (sweet, hot desert) from Israel.

Waking up before sunrise - totally worth it! </p>
<p><a href=Just an abundance of #beauty. #HulaValley #Israel #freedom #River #Mountain #Green

Good morning! בוקר טוב! Bonne journee! Доброе утро! Всем прекрасного солнечного дня! #flowers #instaflowers #nature #4simply4 #ig_treasures

Flowers of the Negev Desert. Цветы пустыни Негев. #israel #ig_israel #gf_israel #e_srael #hapitria #allunique_pro #israeli_moments #Israel_PhotoGraphers #ig_treasures #4simply4 #nature #desert #negev #naturehippys #Naturehippys #ig_captures #ig_captures_nature #power_group #ihavenicepic #nature_uc #awesome_foto #floralfix #_nature_features #ig_diamondshotz

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Firing Back At The Global Warming Radicals

Monday, February 24th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Two winter storms in a three week period blanketed the South in snow and ice. Naturally, the Left couldn’t resist the chance to link these winter storms to “climate change.” Qualified scientists like Bette Midler and Politico‘s Roger Simon - not to be confused with PJ Media’s Roger L. Simon - have tried to tie this winter’s weather to an assault on Mother Earth at the hands of capitalism. (News flash: the only climate change causing these storms was the change from fall to winter.) One climate scientist with his fingers on the pulse of reality is fighting back against the climate change madness, and he’s stepping up his game.

Dr. Roy Spencer is one of the most renowned climatologists in the United States. His work for NASA and the University of Alabama at Huntsville over the past three decades has proven valuable to the scientific community. Most importantly, Spencer has become a leading voice against the fallacy of manmade global warming.

Spencer can barely contain his anger against the vitriolic language of the environmental movement – particularly the use of the word “deniers” to describe those of us who do not subscribe to the dangerous, radical, and altogether false premise that civilization and capitalism cause global warming. And he has declared that it’s time to fight back, using their own metaphor against them:

They indirectly equate (1) the skeptics’ view that global warming is not necessarily all manmade nor a serious problem, with (2) the denial that the Nazi’s extermination of millions of Jews ever happened.

Too many of us for too long have ignored the repulsive, extremist nature of the comparison. It’s time to push back.

I’m now going to start calling these people “global warming Nazis”.

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Winter Isn’t Going

Thursday, February 13th, 2014 - by Hannah Sternberg

I’m going to the grocery store tonight, not to prepare for the upcoming snowpocalypse but just because I haven’t been to the grocery store in weeks and my dinner choices have been getting pretty grim.

Okay, and maybe to pick up a few things in case the power and/or roads go out. But darker than the skies outside are the moods of my friends and coworkers. We’re all tired of the inconveniences of missed work, closed schools, dangerous sidewalks and roads, and worse — loss of power or water or a shortage of food. Those are all very serious concerns, but you know what we could all grouch a lot less about? How cold it is. How long this winter feels. (It’s only February, people! That’s still technically winter!) How the weather is practically a personal affront – how dare the weather be bad?!

CARNAGE!

CARNAGE!

When’s the last time your grouchiness managed to stop a winter storm from overtaking your city?

I’m sick of people being sick of winter. It’s not my favorite season, and I grew up in Vermont, where winter lasted from October through April. But I discovered, through extensive testing, that the cold feels a lot less awful when you stop moaning about it (or at least try to cut back). And since you’re stuck in this winter anyway, why not focus on the enjoyable moments?

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‘The Way God Intended It’

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014 - by Hannah Sternberg
Union Station

I was standing, sleepily, at the counter of a coffeeshop in Union Station, waiting for the barista to remember I’d ordered a drink, when I overheard the woman behind me order hers:

“I’ll have a small latte.”

“What kind of milk?”

“Whole milk.” Pause. Muttered, half to herself: “The way God intended it.”

Maybe I was just cranky — it was my first day heading back to the office after a week out with the flu — but I had to fight the urge to say to her, “Just like God intended that sheep’s wool to be spun, woven, and dyed into your pretty pink plaid coat?”

I had little doubt it was a real wool coat. She looked like someone who would curl her lip at the thought of synthetic fabric touching her skin.

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Oldest Plant Yet Brought Back To Life

Sunday, October 6th, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt
Jurassic Park Meets Little Shop of Horrors

Jurassic Park Meets Little Shop of Horrors

According to National Geographic:

A Russian team discovered a seed cache of Silene stenophylla, a flowering plant native to Siberia, that had been buried by an Ice Age squirrel near the banks of the Kolyma River (map). Radiocarbon dating confirmed that the seeds were 32,000 years old.

The mature and immature seeds, which had been entirely encased in ice, were unearthed from 124 feet (38 meters) below the permafrost, surrounded by layers that included mammoth, bison, and woolly rhinoceros bones.

The mature seeds had been damaged—perhaps by the squirrel itself, to prevent them from germinating in the burrow. But some of the immature seeds retained viable plant material.

The team extracted that tissue from the frozen seeds, placed it in vials, and successfully germinated the plants, according to a new study. The plants—identical to each other but with different flower shapes from modern S. stenophylla—grew, flowered, and, after a year, created seeds of their own.

Okay, so it’s not the stuff of Jurassic Park, unless they can coax the rather pretty white flowers to roam the countryside overturning jeeps and terrorizing tourists, but pretty exciting, nonetheless.  And maybe next time they’ll find seeds for some massive ancestor of Venus Fly Trap and recreate Little Shop of Horrors.

What?  Oh, it would be terrible of course.  But think of all the people you could send one of those to.  I bet Washington DC would be full of flower pots and carnivorous plants before you could say “inadvisable horticulture.”

Picture courtesy of the author’s frighteningly bad photoshop skills! Stop me before I spoof again!

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Shop Where the Amish Shop From the Comfort of Your Couch

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013 - by Paula Bolyard

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Are you a prepper? An environmentalist interested in sustainable living? A homesteader? A missionary living on a remote island without electricity? A cave dweller? Chronically nostalgic? Amish? (Get off the internet this instant, Caleb Yoder!) Then Lehman’s Hardware is the place for you! The store, tucked into the tiny community of Kidron in Holmes County, Ohio, serves the area’s Amish community, helping them preserve their way of life by carrying a wide range of non-electric and other low-tech products. Jay Lehman, who founded the store in 1955 said, ”I was concerned that some day the Amish would not be able to maintain their simple ways of life because these products would no longer be available.”

It began as a small family hardware store and has grown into the largest store of its kind. Non-Amish customers now outnumber the Amish who shop at their 45,000-square-foot retail store. The 1973 oil crisis significantly boosted the number of visitors to Lehman’s. As domestic supplies of oil dwindled, people wanted low-tech products to help them cope with the shortages. According to Jay Lehman, “The oil embargo put us on the map.” Events like Y2K, the 9/11 attacks, and the blackout of 2003 all increased sales at Lehman’s.

No visit to Ohio’s Amish country is complete without a trip to Lehman’s. On your drive through Holmes County, home to the largest Amish community in the world, you’ll pass Amish buggies on the road (along with the ubiquitous horse droppings) and you may see barefooted Amish boys and girls in their straw hats and bonnets walking or biking alongside the road on their way home from school. Crisp black, white, and blue laundry flapping in the breeze on a clothes line is a telltale sign of an Amish farm.

Once at Lehman’s, you’ll see horses with buggies tied to hitching posts, juxtaposed with the cars of tourists and local “English” (the Amish name for non-Amish).  Inside the store you’ll encounter a maze of four buildings that have been attached over the years to make one store that seems to go on forever. Lehman’s received a major makeover in 2011 after a flood dumped 30 tons of mud into the store, which is decorated from floor to ceiling with museum-quality antiques and vintage memorabilia. Right inside the main entrance there is a Soda Pop Shop with 300 varieties of vintage and handcrafted soda. Across from the soda is a section of throwback candy that will bring back memories of childhood trips to the penny candy store. From there, you can wander the aisles, checking out non-electric appliances and composting toilets, wood stoves, kitchen gadgets, locally-made pottery, and vintage toys. You could easily spend a half day inside and still not see all the store has to offer.

An estimated half million tourists visit the store every year. But if you’re not able to travel to Holmes County in person, you can still enjoy Lehman’s through their print catalog or website. It’s surprising, really, that a store catering to the Amish and their simple way of life would even have a website, let alone a social media presence, but approximately 50% of Lehman’s revenues come from online sales. Their Facebook page has nearly 30,000 “likes.”

The store’s website boasts, “If you think it isn’t made anymore, check with Lehman’s before you give up.” Check out the site and see what they mean.

Click through to the next pages to see some of the more unusual items Lehman’s sells.

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Pimp My Hybrid?

Thursday, August 8th, 2013 - by Becky Graebner
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A Tricked-out Honda Insight

The Wall Street Journal had an interesting story last week:

Today, more people are choosing gas-saving, practical cars; the hybrid Toyota Motor Corp.’s 7203.TO -1.09% Prius was the best-selling car in California last year. But that doesn’t stop drivers like Mr. Redmond from trying to put a little panache into being prudent, turning eco-friendly cars into lowriders, race cars and mini-monster trucks.

They are a far cry from more traditional souped-up rides. A Smart car is nine feet shorter than some classic Chevy Impalas and has five fewer cylinders. But even mockery from old-school hot-rod drivers hasn’t fazed this new generation.

Many Prius “pimpers” have followed the lead of comedian Tommy Chong. He turned his hybrid into a black lowrider, with its body lowered to the ground, and added red and gray detailing and tinted windows in 2006. Mr. Chong, 75, who came to fame as half of the Cheech & Chong comedy duo, installed hydraulics to lift the car up and down, blacked out the taillights, and added a loud exhaust.

I don’t think it’s a secret that I am wary of “green” cars. It’s not because I don’t believe in their function, but because the barrage of green-energy initiative failures has left a bad taste in my mouth. But, that being said, I admit that, even as a “green vehicle skeptic,” I enjoyed this article. It proved me wrong regarding some aspects of car culture — and I’m okay with that.

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Matt Damon Brings Elysium Nonsense to Letterman

Friday, August 2nd, 2013 - by Walter Hudson

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Try as I may to give the upcoming Neill Blomkamp sci-fi actioner Elysium the benefit of the doubt, the more I hear from star Matt Damon, the more I stand convinced the film could have just as easily been titled Occupy Space Station. Promoting the project on the Late Show with David Letterman this week, Damon joked about his 2012 flop Promised Land, a film produced on the presumption that American audiences love a good yarn railing against oil fracking. “You and I are the only ones who saw it,” he told Letterman after the host claimed to have liked the environmental tale.

Naturally, when one movie preaching against the evils of capitalism and development fails, Hollywood tries and tries again. Damon describes the forthcoming Elysium as an attempt to cloak the social commentary of Promised Land in sci-fi garb. Truth be told, the tactic may work. The science fiction and fantasy genres boast a long history of controversial social and political themes going back to 1951′s The Day the Earth Stood Still. Stick forehead ridges or antennae on a painted head and you can recast real-life tensions with alien stakeholders, lowering audience resistance to embedded ideas through making the players unreal.

Letterman turned serious on the topic of fracking, making the ridiculous claim that “water is disappearing from the planet [because of fracking], we’ve poisoned and drained the great aquifers underneath the great plains.” Damon took the opportunity to tout his non-profit, which seeks “safe water and the dignity of a toilet for all, in our lifetime.” The hand-wringing commenced.

Every 21 seconds, a child under the age of 5 dies because they lack access to clean water and sanitation.

The irony of Damon’s concern takes shape when we consider his opposition to capitalism, development, and the free-market process. All of these things enable the world’s poor to rise and enjoy the benefits of modern civilization.

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The 90-Second Tesla Battery Swap: Misleading and Far From ‘Magic’

Thursday, June 27th, 2013 - by Becky Graebner
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Not so fast, Tesla.

In an attempt to woo potential customers, Tesla is pulling out the stops. Earlier this month they released plans to beef up their supercharger network. Last week, Tesla unveiled its newest gimmick to get people into its electric cars: 90 second battery swaps.

Tesla is attempting to outmaneuver gas-powered cars and their fuel fill-ups via the release of a video pitting the new “battery swap” against a “gasoline fill up.” This video shows a Tesla employee filling up a car at the gas pump — while an automated machine swaps two batteries out of two different Tesla Model S’s in the same amount of time.

Problem #1, what some of these subsequent reports on the “battery swap” miracle won’t tell you or, what people don’t realize,  is that the car used for the “gasoline” part of the race is an Audi A8 — which has an unusually large gas tank of 23.8 gallons. That’s the same fuel-tank capacity as the Hummer H3. Yeah, not really a fair fight.

Most gas tanks for a mid-size sedan are around 15-17 gallons. (The Toyota Camry is on the high end with a 17 gallon capacity tank.)

Problem #2, the cost to swap the battery will be around $50. This price looks awfully nice compared to the $99.83 price tag to fill up the tank-like Audi A8. They also did this race at a Los Angeles gas station… Oh, and the Audi takes Premium gasoline — further inflating the cost difference in this comparison.

An Exxon station two blocks from the D.C. Capitol (2nd St NE and Mass Ave) is currently selling premium gas for $4.59/gal. In a Toyota Camry with a 17 gallon gas tank, a COMPLETE fill up with Premium would be $78.03. Also, Camrys don’t take Premium like the Audi A8 — they’re fine with regular.

Let’s try a gas station in my hometown for giggles. To fill up a Camry with Premium gasoline would cost $65.79. If the driver were to use regular, like they should, the price would be $60.69.

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Can We Actually Even Tell if Humans Are Affecting the Climate?

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013 - by Charlie Martin

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We know, with great certainty, that the overall average temperature of the Earth has warmed by several degreees in the last 400 years, since the end of the Little Ice Age. Before that was a period called the Medieval Warm Period; before that was another cold period; and back at the time of the Romans there was a long period that was significantly warmer — Southern Britain was a wine-growing region. What we’re a lot less certain about is “why?”

Of course, the “why?” here has been, shall we say, pretty controversial. It’s worth wondering about the controversy and about the social mechanisms through which science is done — I wrote about them during the Climategate controversy as the “social contract of science” — but that’s not what I want to talk about today. Instead, let’s talk about how a scientist thinks about these sorts of questions and arrives at new answers. Back in grad school we called that “doing science,” and it was something everyone liked doing and wished they could be doing instead of whatever they actually were doing, like faculty meetings and refereeing papers.

The process of “doing science” is something you usually learn more or less by osmosis, but there are some good hints around. One of the best is a paper from the 16 October 1964 issue of Science, “Strong Inference” by John R Platt. Let’s say we have some phenomenon of interest, like global warming, or high blood sugar, or that damned yellow patch in my lawn. We want to know why it happens. Platt’s strong inference describes the process we should use when “doing science” as:

  1. We generate a number of alternate explanations, hypotheses, that might explain the phenomenon.
  2. For each hypothesis, we come up with an experiment which will prove the hypothesis wrong. That is, not one that “proves the hypothesis,” but one which, if successful, would disprove or falsify the hypothesis. (Sir Karl Popper argued in his book The Logic of Scientific Discovery that this falsification was the core of scientific knowledge.)
  3. We do the experiments. If an experiment falsifies a hypothesis, we discard it ruthlessly. Then we go back to (1) and try again.

A lot of times, the rub — and the really creative thinking — comes in from finding the right experiment. Richard Feynmann was known for an ability to see right through a problem to a simple and elegant experiment that would disprove a hypothesis. He demonstrated this during the review following the Challenger disaster. You may remember that the launch happened on a very cold morning in January; less than two minutes after launch the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up, killing all seven astronauts.

The question, as always, was “why?”

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Ronald Reagan Conservationism Vs Radical Environmentalist Pantheism

Thursday, May 30th, 2013 - by J. Christian Adams

Sagebrush Rebel: Reagan’s Battle With Environmental Extremists and Why it Matters Today (Regnery, 2013) by William Perry Pendley, describes how radical environmentalists sparked a revolution against federal land regulation led by head rebel Ronald Reagan. Today, high fuel and energy prices, formerly caused by Carter administration policies, have returned with a new President to blame. Pendley’s book provides valuable lessons for the next Sagebrush Rebel who might try to end the environmentalists’ stranglehold on energy production and American economic potential.

Sagebrush Rebel details Reagan’s history as a conservationist. Conservationism was the original environmentalism. Conservationists considered humans to be stewards of natural resources. As a conservationist Reagan believed in a moral obligation to protect resources for future generations. Conservation’s elevation of human needs is a value thousands of years old and is described in the Old Testament:

You have given him rule over the works of your hands/ putting all things under his feet/All sheep and oxen/ yes, and the beasts of the field/The birds of the air/ the fishes of the sea/ and whatever swims the paths of the seas. (Psalms 8, 6-9)

Throughout the 1970s and culminating in the heavy handed policies of the Carter administration the human-centered conservation movement morphed into the environmentalist movement which revered inanimate objects and animals. The beasts of the fields and fishes of the sea were on par with human needs, or even superior to them.

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Is Fisker About to Join Solyndra and A123 Systems in the Green Failure Graveyard?

Saturday, May 25th, 2013 - by Becky Graebner
fisker-karma-port

Was Hurricane Sandy’s infamous destruction of the Fisker Karmas an omen?

Thanks to Justin Bieber’s platinum Fisker Karma, which has been the frequent recipient of traffic tickets and an unfortunate party of a few auto accidents, electric car maker Fisker has been a popular name in the headlines in the past few months. Although it wasn’t the best PR to have the “Biebs” and his friends crash the Karma throughout the U.S., Fisker might be wishing it were Bieber splashing its name in the headlines again this week. The story this time is that the end may be near for Fisker; which means, yet another “alternative energy initiative” might go belly up.

The faster Fisker is sold, the better.

Wall Street Journal reports that Fisker is holding out against bankruptcy, hoping they can locate a private buyer to salvage its name. One of those paying court to Fisker is Wanxiang Group — the same company that bailed out A123 Systems. That name should sound familiar — it is usually paired with the words “Solyndra” and “bankruptcy.” It seems Wanxiang wants to swoop in once again and snap up the carcass that used to house A123′s batteries: Fisker.

The other company paying tribute? VL Automotive. But, instead of thinking “green,” VL is thinking “black” — as in the black rubber mark that will be left on the pavement after their new Fisker-bodied sports-car peels away.  VL unveiled a prototype last January that had a Corvette engine in a Fisker body… that would definitely rev some gear-heads. It is called the VL Destino. We will see if it’s Fisker’s destiny to live…

The next few days are going to be like the last lap of the Daytona 500… who will pull ahead and win? Will someone actually BUY Fisker, will DOE take possession, or will Fisker decide to roll over and die?

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The Gospel from Planet X: Why Aliens Ignite the Imagination

Thursday, May 16th, 2013 - by Walter Hudson

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Editor’s Note:

Check out Walter’s previous articles in this ongoing series Thursday mornings exploring video games, cultural villains, and American values at PJ Lifestyle. From May 2: “Beating Back the Nazi “Sickness,” and last week: “What Zombies Teach Us About Human Nature.” And also see Walter’s A Reason For Faith series, reprinted last week here. In these four articles Walter begins to formalize his task of synthesizing the Judeo-Christian tradition with Ayn Rand’s Objectivism and Tea Party activism.    -  DMS

In one of the most vivid dreams I can recall, I witnessed the landing of a plainly alien spaceship. It came lucidly, dancing on the edge of wakefulness, informed by enough of my rousing consciousness that it felt particularly real. I remember the feeling that my feet were glued to the ground, that I couldn’t move if I wanted to, not on account of some external force, but due to an overwhelming sense of awe and anticipation. The one thought dominating my mind: everything is about to change.

Though it was only a dream, I retain the memory as vividly as though it were of an actual experience and believe I will respond similarly if ever confronted by a true interplanetary delegation. Something about that kind of moment, when the veil lifts upon an existential mystery, produces an irresistible thrill. Perhaps that tops the list of reasons why our popular culture remains ever fascinated by the prospect of extraterrestrial life.

Aliens have become such a prolific device in our entertainment that we sometimes take them for granted. Like a modern deus ex machina, aliens can be relied upon to suspend disbelief in an otherwise inconceivable scenario. (How does Superman fly? Simple, he’s an alien!) Extraterrestrials rank alongside Nazis, zombies, and generic terrorists as the most common villains found in video games. Unlike those others, however, aliens may also be allies. Nothing inherent to extraterrestrial life demands it be villainous. Beings from other worlds often act as mirrors for examining the human condition, when not merely lurking among shadow and neon strobe.

It’s probably no coincidence that the advent of ufology, which is an actual word in the dictionary meaning the study of unidentified flying objects, coincides with the initial proliferation of aviation and the early years of the space age. We began to look up into the sky right about the time we realized there was nothing left to find over the horizon. In times past, when the known world was still defined by the flickering edge of torchlight, we imagined unspeakable monsters much closer to home. Spirits, ghosts, goblins, ghouls, fairies, vampires — all were the alien invaders and abductors of their time. As we have come to dismiss them as infeasible and childish, our imagination turns to the stars, where the realm of possibility remains seemingly infinite.

Certainly, we can see how aliens have stepped in to fill the role of menacing ghoul. Ridley Scott’s original Alien was essentially a horror film, a science-fiction creature feature. While the execution was masterful, the formula proved well-established and has been revisited ever since.

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The 5 Most Annoying Things Bikers Do

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013 - by Hannah Sternberg

This week is Bike to Work Week in Washington, D.C., which is a perfect opportunity to point out why the vast majority of bikers are huge jerks who ruin the road for the rest of us. I’m not saying they’re jerks all the time; just when they’re on their bikes. Kind of like how someone turns into a Mr Hyde version of himself when he climbs into a Prius.

I’m not even saying all bikers are this awful. Just most of them. Enough of them to give bikers a bad rep, even when some of us actually try to be considerate, safe, and respectful. So this Bike to Work Week, please do bike to work — just don’t be a jerk about it.

5. Biking on the road, without following the rules of the road

You know what I’m talking about — the bikers who use the bike lane or actually drive in the traffic lanes, but breeze through stop signs without pause, creep past red lights, cross lanes when they turn, and generally act like the rest of traffic should bend around them. This is incredibly unsafe — for bikers, drivers, and pedestrians. As someone who walks to work every day here in D.C., I could count on two hands (and a few toes) the number of times I’ve nearly been run down by a bike that had no intention of stopping for a red. Hills are no excuse. If your brakes are too poor to come to a full stop when you’re pointing downhill — or your legs are too weak to stop then start again while climbing uphill — then you shouldn’t be biking on the road. Get in shape, get a tune-up, and come back when you’re ready to bike safely.

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7 Crappy Products, Courtesy of the Green Movement

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013 - by J. Christian Adams

In the good old days, consumers got what they wanted. Supply and demand, not causes or ideology, governed product design and manufacturing. That’s why we have great American icons like the 1969 Chevy Camaro, the charcoal-burning Weber grill, and DDT.

But things have changed. The Green Movement’s worship of scarcity has changed the consumer landscape for the worse. Instead of big, powerful, and, most importantly, effective products, in 2012 consumers must suffer with pansy products. Sure, they are designed to save energy and make you feel good. But they just don’t work as well as the old, and usually cheaper, versions.

Below are seven crappy products we must endure, courtesy of the Green Movement.

1. Low Water Toilets

Any article with the headline above must start with low water toilets. Many of you will remember an age before the government decided water was scarce, when toilets could be counted on. In 1992, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act, and President George Bush signed it. It mandated a maximum flush capacity for toilets. Naturally, the 1992 version of the Green Movement was behind the law, and behind the Republican sponsor – Representative Philip Sharp of Indiana. Since Bush signed Sharp’s legislation, plunger sales have sky-rocketed. Sharp’s bad idea has caused some of the most embarrassing moments of people’s lives, especially when they are visiting someone else’s home.

Beware, the freaks next want to eliminate water in your toilet, as well as toilet paper.

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6 Green Lies Threatening to Starve You

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012 - by Walter Hudson

Ain’t prosperity grand? We have so much to eat in this country that we toss nearly half of it in the trash. At least that’s the finding of a recent study conducted by a prominent environmental organization. From the Los Angeles Times:

Americans are throwing out nearly every other bite of food, wasting up to 40% of the country’s supply each year – a mass of uneaten provisions worth $165 billion, according to a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

An average family of four squanders $2,275 in food each year, or 20 pounds per person per month, according to the nonprofit and nonpartisan environmental advocacy group.

Among the study’s prescriptions is a call for government “to set a target for food-waste reduction” as the European Parliament has. After resolving to reduce food waste, the body stated:

The most important problem in the future will be to tackle increased demand for food, as it will outstrip supply. We can no longer afford to stand idly by while perfectly edible food is being wasted. This is an ethical but also an economic and social problem, with huge implications for the environment.

The obvious alternative to any government “standing idly by” is its taking action. Whenever government takes action, it applies force. That is the NRDC’s ultimate prescription, to force Americans to reduce food waste. This is ironic since government action already plays a substantial role in the amount of food produced and consumed. The Cato Institute’s Chris Edwards explains:

Farm subsidies damage the economy. In most industries, market prices balance supply and demand and encourage efficient production. But Congress short–circuits market mechanisms in agriculture. Farm programs cause overproduction, the overuse of marginal farmland, land price inflation and excess borrowing by farm businesses.

Force is not a morally permissible or practically effective means of guiding productive behavior. Our rejection of slavery is an acknowledgment of that truth. Yet the notion that government ought to act forcefully to prevent pollution and reduce waste remains popular. Why?

The case built by green movement organizations like the NRDC relies on a tightly wound knot of lies. These falsehoods appear in the NRDC’s mission “to safeguard the Earth, its people, its plants and animals and the natural systems on which all life depends,” as well as its “priority issues”:

    • Curbing global warming
    • Creating the clean energy future
    • Reviving the world’s oceans
    • Defending endangered wildlife and wild places
    • Protecting our health by preventing pollution
    • Ensuring safe and sufficient water
    • and; Fostering sustainable communities

Underlying this mission and these goals are six green lies which threaten to starve you and your family…

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The Hygiene Hypothesis: With Fewer Germs to Fight Does the Body Attack Itself?

Monday, September 17th, 2012 - by Dr. Peter Weiss

I devour good books, and have no problem putting down a bad one after 30 pages and never picking it up again. If it’s not good, why waste my time? If it’s good, I don’t want to stop. This one is a hell of a read! So was the The Andromeda Strain.

I read Moises Velasquez-Manoff’s  An Epidemic of Absence in one sitting. This was Michael Crichton with Hookworms. The premise is fascinating, although heavy with anecdote and less on peer reviewed clinical data, even with his 307 footnotes. Definitive science should never get in the way of a good read.

I was hooked, pun intended. Remember, I am Western-trained but still consider myself very open minded.

What Velasquez-Mannoff suggests is that maybe we are a little carried away with the pure benefits of hygiene. Does using Purell at every turn really benefit us in the long run, or will we end up dying from a dirty finger nail because of it? This puts credence in what I always believed…”The 10 second rule”. You know, if it’s on the floor less than 10 seconds you can still eat it.

His adventure begins with searching to cure his premature baldness. Okay, I’m a little hard on him here. He’s really looking into an area of medicine that has not been brought to light until now, and he was really looking for a treatment for Irritable Bowel disease and MS. Every action in medicine and in life has an unintended side reaction. We are all intertwined. We, meaning every organism that is in touch within our body. We don’t need to treat everything! Not all bacteria are bad. Our intestines, mouth, and nose are lined with millions of organisms that actually are our allies in keeping us healthy. I think we all know that.

The problem as I see it, which he does not address is deeper. I’ll explain in a moment.

First, physicians have 2 main edicts that we should follow

1) Above all, physician do no harm
2) Alleviate pain and suffering

Our job is not to make people live longer. That’s just a by product of the 2 edicts.

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