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Archive for March 19th, 2016

These $150,000 Prefab Houses Don’t Need Any Energy From The Grid

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Via, this article by Adele Peters in Co.Exist:

When a home-building company called Deltec Homes first launched in 1968, they focused on designing houses that could survive a hurricane. Now one of their main focuses is a different challenge—how to make affordable prefab houses that don’t require any electricity from the grid.

The company has been developing a line of net-zero homes for the last decade. “People 10 years ago didn’t call them net-zero homes,” says Steve Linton, president of Deltec. “But people were building homes that essentially produced all their own energy and asking us to play a big part in that type of project. It’s sort of a long evolution for us.”

At first, it was a limited experiment, but the company quickly realized that they could make an entire line of houses. “We kind of had an ‘aha’ moment where we said look, we’ve gotten really good at designing homes this way,” he says. “We really can drive down the energy consumption piece so that the amount of renewable energy required is really affordable—so why not apply it to other architecture?”

The company currently makes nine different models of net-zero houses, each designed to cut out two-thirds of the energy used in a typical house of the same size. The rest is powered by rooftop solar.

“It starts the energy conservation,” Linton says. “We know that ultimately it’s better to save a kilowatt hour of electricity than to produce an extra one.” By making the walls in a factory, for example, it’s possible to include gaskets that make them more airtight than if they were built piece by piece on site. The company also works with clients to plan a design based on their land—how the sun can warm and light the house, and how trees can keep it cool. Windows are chosen to either let in heat from the sun or keep it out, based on the location.

The company also helps save energy by encouraging people to buy smaller homes. “The average home size today in America is twice what it was in the 1950s,” he says. “It’s gone from a 1,000-square-foot home average to over a 2,500-square-foot home average. That, at the end of the day, is really driving energy consumption. . . . We’ve got to find a way to start changing that dynamic for new homes if we’re really going to have an impact on the overall sustainability of homes.”

Though the line includes larger houses for larger families—up to around 2,100 square feet—it also sells models that are only 800 square feet. . .

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more info and photos at the link.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 March 2016 at 4:29 pm

America’s Role in Argentina’s Dirty War

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America has been ill-served by the CIA, with its long support for oppressive right-wing dictatorships and its enthusiasm for teaching torture techniques when not actually engaged directly in torture. The NY Times has a pointed editorial:

A few months after a military junta overthrew President Isabel Perón of Argentina in 1976, the country’s new foreign minister, Adm. Cesar Guzzetti, told Henry Kissinger, America’s secretary of state, that the military was aggressively cracking down on “the terrorists.”

Mr. Kissinger responded, “If there are things that have to be done, you should do them quickly,” an apparent warning that a new American Congress might cut off aid if it thought the Argentine government was engaging in systemic human rights abuses.

The American ambassador in Buenos Aires soon reported to Washington that the Argentine government had interpreted Mr. Kissinger’s words as a “green light” to continue its brutal tactics against leftist guerrillas, political dissidents and suspected socialists.

Just how much the American government knew about Argentina’s repressive “Dirty War,” which lasted from 1976 to 1983 — and the extent to which it condoned the abuses — has remained shrouded in secrecy.

When President Obama visits Argentina next week during the 40th anniversary of the coup, he should make a pledge that Washington will more fully reveal its role in a dark chapter of Argentine history. Military officials abducted thousands of civilians during this period. Hundreds of babies, stolen from Argentines who were arbitrarily detained, were raised by military families.

Human rights groups in Argentinahave long sought access to classified American intelligence and diplomatic records, hoping that they will shed new light on the abuses and the fate of missing Argentines. The Argentine government itself has formally asked for declassification. “There is absolutely no doubt that the release of these records on repression in Argentina would reveal substantive information on the years of repression and advance the cause of truth and justice in that country,” said Peter Kornbluh, an analyst at the National Security Archive who specializes in Latin America.

In 2002, Washington partly declassified roughly 4,700 State Department records from the Dirty War period. Those documents have aided judicial proceedings and added to a historical record. But much of that record remains obscured.

Declassifying a more extensive set of documents would also bring into sharper focus a shameful period of American foreign policy, during which Washington condoned and in some instances supported the brutal tactics of right-wing governments in the region. It is time for the American government to do what it still can to help bring the guilty to justice and give the victims’ families some of the answers they seek.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 March 2016 at 11:31 am

Posted in Government, Obama administration

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Semogue 830—still bad—with Mystic Water Sensitive Skin and the iKon DLC slant

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SOTD 2016-03-19

I have to say that I do not understand the popularity of Semogue brushes. The 830 boar brush shown in the photo seems still unable to sustain a lather after many, many latherings to break it in. Whereas an Omega boar is typically performing quite well with a week’s use and well on the way to being broken in after 2-3 weeks, my Semogue brushes—those that have not failed utterly because of a badly splayed knot—are still not performing up to snuff.

I’m going to give this brush another few weeks of use (I make a lather with it each day following my regular shave), and if it still performs as badly as it does now, it goes into the wastebin: lesson learned once more. Semogue brushes are, in my experience, wildly overrated.

By loading the brush before the shave and again during the shave, I got enough lather to do a shave. I picked Mystic Water Sensitive Skin shaving soap because of a discussion on Wicked Edge, and brought out my iKon DLC slant for the same reason. The cutting sound from the slant was especially noticeable this morning, and by the end of the second pass I figured that it may be in part because the blade was getting dull: my face was already mostly BBS, which it generally is following the second pass with a slant. So I replaced the blade—a Personna Lab Blue—before the third pass and finished with a BBS result with no problems.

A small splash of Annick Goutal’s Eau de Sud, and I am opening the door to a pleasant weekend.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 March 2016 at 9:17 am

Posted in Shaving

Sanders is wrong about the lawsuit we filed after our son’s murder in Newtown

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Mark and Jackie Barden write in the Washington Post:

Our son, our sweet little Daniel, was just 7 when he was murdered in his first-grade classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012. We are among the 10 families suing the manufacturer, distributor and retail seller of the assault rifle that took 26 lives in less than five minutes on that terrible day.

We write in response to Sen. Bernie Sanders’s comments about our lawsuit at the recent Democratic presidential debate in Michigan. Sanders suggested that the “point” of our case is to hold Remington Arms Co. liable simply because one of its guns was used to commit mass murder. With all due respect, this is simplistic and wrong.

This case is about a particular weapon, Remington’s Bushmaster AR-15, and its sale to a particular market: civilians. It is not about handguns or hunting rifles, and the success of our lawsuit would not mean the end of firearm manufacturing in this country, as Sanders warned. This case is about the AR-15 because the AR-15 is not an ordinary weapon; it was designed and manufactured for the military to increase casualties in combat. The AR-15 is to guns what a tank is to cars: uniquely deadly and suitable for specialized use only.

We have never suggested that Remington should be held liable simply for manufacturing the AR-15. In fact, we believe that Remington and other manufacturers’ production of the AR-15 is essential for our armed forces and law enforcement. But Remington is responsible for its calculated choice to sell that same weapon to the public, and for emphasizing the military and assaultive capacities of the weapon in its marketing to civilians.

Indeed, Remington promotes the AR-15’s capacity to inflict mass casualities. It markets its AR-15s with images of soldiers and SWAT teams; it dubs various models the “patrolman” and the “adaptive combat rifle” and declares that they are “as mission-adaptable as you are”; it encourages the notion that the AR-15 is a weapon that bestows power and glory upon those who wield it. Advertising copy for Remington’s AR-15s has included the following: “Consider your man card reissued,” and “Forces of opposition, bow down. You are single-handedly outnumbered.”

Of course, causing forces of opposition to bow down is exactly what the AR-15 was engineered to do — in combat. But history has shown us, time and again, that it is innocent civilians in malls and movie theaters, and children in their classrooms, who have been made to bow down to the singular power of a gunman wielding an AR-15. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 March 2016 at 9:08 am

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