Corn Ethanol Crew Cries Foul Over EPA Emissions Ruling

A draft rule that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency unveiled Tuesday about how emissions should be measured has the corn ethanol industry in an uproar, while newer next-generation biofuel startups seem to be more welcoming of the move. The rule calls for the inclusion of emissions from “indirect land use change,” which could include the impact of farmers cutting down trees or switching crops to grow corn for ethanol. The additional emissions would be calculated into a total emissions calculation that would determine whether specific biofuels count toward the renewable fuels standard.

The draft rule was announced the day before a show of support from the Obama administration for both corn and cellulosic ethanol. The administration held a call this morning with reporters to discuss not just the EPA rule but also $786.5 million in stimulus funds that will be allocated for biofuel research and commercialization and a task group called the Biofuels Interagency Working Group that will work on development programs and policies.

The EPA rule is the most controversial of the three. While many biofuel advocates favor an emissions standard, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson on Tuesday morning cited an estimate that biofuels only reduce emissions by about 16 percent compared with fossil fuels. Other studies put the number closer to 60 percent, said General Wesley Clark — an enthusiastic ethanol proponent and chairman of ethanol trade group Growth Energy — and Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis, during a conference call today. Growth Energy’s board of directors includes corn-ethanol companies POET, Western Plains Energy, Amaizing Energy, Hawkeye Renewables, and Green Plains Renewable Energy.
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How Technology Won the Presidency, Pt. II

I explained yesterday how the Obama campaign utilized data integration techniques to realize a distinct advantage in targeting voters. However, all that data wouldn’t have meant anything without the technologies to process it and disseminate it. Obama’s team excelled here, too, utilizing the latest technological advances and trends to do on the cheap what, just a few years ago, would have cost beaucoup bucks. Read More about How Technology Won the Presidency, Pt. II

How Technology Won the Presidency, Part I

Command of the issues, cool confidence and disarming smile aside, Barack Obama might just owe his campaign’s success to his team’s ability to harness the technology at their fingertips. Social networking, broadband and data management all played huge roles in making the Obama campaign the most personalized presidential campaign ever. I learned just how big a role technology played last week, when I sat in on a presentation at the WebTrends Engage conference by Obama data gurus Dan Langer and Luke Peterson. Afterward, I sat down with Peterson, data architect for Obama for America, for more details. Here’s what I found out. Read More about How Technology Won the Presidency, Part I

A Continuing Discussion of the Unibody MacBook 13″ vs. PowerBook 12″


Charles Moore wrote a great article about the unibody 13″ MacBook compared to the much-loved 12″ PowerBook. A friend of Charles argued that until the dimensions were nearly identical it could never be considered a replacement. Charles feels there’s a little more to it than that.

I think they’re both right (yes, life is good sitting on top of this fence).

I don’t disagree with Charles’ friend that width is a big factor, and here the new MacBook is much bigger than the 12.” However, I would suggest that depth is the more critical (for use on a table, airline tray table, etc.) and here the new model is only slightly bigger. Further, weight is a big factor and the two are pretty much identical.

So you need to consider just what you’re getting for those extra couple inches of width. It’s more than just a much bigger screen (in resolution, not just size). The larger case allows a larger thermal envelope so they can pack all that power in there. Remember that Apple (s aapl) could never get a G5 in a notebook no matter what. The G4 in the 12″ initially ran at 867MHz, less than the 17″ introduced the same day.

I’m just not convinced one must insist that every dimension be equal or smaller to be a true replacement. Given the near-equality of each dimension except width, and what you’re getting for that width — and its value — I’d say the 13″ kicks some serious butt. And I put my money where my text is, since I own one and love it.
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If Green Jobs Are So Hot, Where Are They?

In the economic downturn, “green jobs” has become one of the hottest political catchphrases. President Barack Obama has promised 5 million new green jobs as part of his energy and stimulus plans. Here in California, the mayors of Los Angeles and San Francisco, as well as the governor have made green jobs a priority. And states across the country, from Indiana to Washington, are considering bills to develop more green jobs.

This week as the sold-out Good Jobs, Green Jobs National Conference kicks off, and Congress sits down to vote on a new, pared-down stimulus package that includes billions for jobs in energy efficiency and clean power, “green jobs” are at the forefront of everyone’s minds. But the cleantech industry hasn’t proved to be recession-proof, and layoffs and hiring freezes are leading would-be green employees to question just how soon the jobs will arrive, and what kind of cleantech companies will be hiring. Here’s what we see:
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Obama Calls for Recovery With Energy-Efficient Public Buildings

As part of his Economic Recovery Plan that he hopes will create 2.5 million new jobs, President-elect Barack Obama is calling for an effort to make public buildings more energy-efficient. In his weekly radio address, Obama announced a plan to seek energy-efficient upgrades for federal and public school buildings (see video below).

Obama provided few details on how the green building makeover would work — or how many jobs it could provide — but he said he would start by replacing old heating systems and installing energy-efficient lighting. “Our government now pays the highest energy bill in the world. We need to change that,” he stated. He said he would unveil more about the plan in the coming weeks and push to have congress start working to get the plan approved in January.

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What About a “Manhattan Project” for Detroit?

“If we are lucky, we will come out with a bill next week that nobody likes.”

With those words, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chair of the House Financial Services Committee, wrapped up two days of testimony from auto executives intended to be something like a truth commission for the incompetent but ending up more like sado-masochism in bespoke suits. It leaves one wondering what happens if we aren’t lucky — and generally not looking forward to this week.

It also raises a question. What kind of solution would everyone like?

Enter Chad Holliday, CEO not of a Detroit automaker, but of Delaware’s DuPont (s DFT). It shows just how far the U.S. auto industry has fallen when it’s getting schooled by a guy who makes freon and spandex. DuPont gets a fifth of its revenue from its automotive division, so Holliday urged executives at a luncheon in Detroit’s storied Book Cadillac Hotel to consider a “Detroit Project” — a new Manhattan Project with all the innovations and none of the bombs.
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Top Three Virtual Worlds for Election Day

virtual-world-election-day3Say you’re looking for the perfect place to watch the election results pour in tonight, but your living room seems too lonely, your favorite blog seems too impersonal, and (depending on how the vote goes) your neighborhood bar may break out into a fight.
How about a virtual world space, where you can follow and discuss the tally live with avatars from around the globe? Here’s a handy traveler’s guide for doing just that: Read More about Top Three Virtual Worlds for Election Day

The Ultimate Guide to Live Election Coverage

The interminable U.S. presidential campaign season will come finally come to an end tomorrow night. If you’re looking for a map with updating red and blue states (a tradition that dates back to NBC in the 1976 election, it turns out), we’ve got you covered. If you’re looking for more than that, we’ve got you covered, too.

Last week we wrote up some of the best places to watch election results online. Since we compiled that story, additional news outlets have finalized their plans of attack, and more people have pointed us to other great resources. [digg=]
If you want to get your election news from a linear TV channel, that’s your call. But as Slate editor Joan Walsh told the New York Times, “At a time when almost anyone can check voter turnout in certain neighborhoods in Cuyahoga County, I don’t think everyone is going to sit there and wait to be spoon-fed the election results in the order Brian Williams thinks is appropriate.” So if you’re planning to set up a multiscreen command center, here are some sites to pull up:
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Steve Chen: Videos Provide More Political Context

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom sat down for a chat with YouTube co-founder Steve Chen last night to discuss the role of YouTube in politics. In the age of the “Macaca Moment” and the Hillary Clinton “1984” ad, video and YouTube specifically are affecting political campaigns. Chen mostly spoke in broad strokes when discussing his company’s role in the political process, but things got interesting when the conversation turned to context and the ubiquity of video.

One question was from an audience member who wanted to know if Chen felt that YouTube videos made politicians’ comments more in context or out-of-context. Chen said there was “more context with a 30 second video than a two sentence line in print.” He also said that the stuff that goes on before, during or after you watch the video (like comments) helps provide even more context.

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