18 October 2008

This woman is from my state.


She's long been known to be rather nuts, but this takes the cake. Now, when you look at Congresswoman Bachmann's record of being a right wing nut, and the current beautiful shade of blue that the state is polling on the presidential election, you might wonder what the heck is going on. Bachmann is from the 6th district which is primarily the northern suburbs, from the Wisconsin border, up over the Twin Cities and west out past St. Cloud. A blend of rural and suburban that leans a little red. Bachmann was elected in 2006 and her reelection seemed well inside possible despite being, well, bat shit crazy. But apparently this little outpouring of McCarthyism has lead to a small surge in donations to her opponent. This might get interesting.

But there is something more here. When you look Bachmann's apparently sincere belief that Democrats and Democratic party's nominee for president might be anti-american, and put it in the same context as the vile things said about Obama at Republican rallies, there is an obvious theme. These are the equivalent of a Freudian slip. The party officials can only talk about "palling around with terrorists" for so long before their supporters make the logical connections and start saying the things the party officials could never get away with. Its one thing when supporters with only the power of the vote and their voice scream things at rallies. But you know the meme has grown bigger when an elected official, up for reelection no less!, thinks she can get away with saying this on a national cable channel.

One more thing, even the most liberal, left wing, progressive elected Democrat in the federal government believes in our democracy enough to try to change it from the inside. That faith that our government can be fixed, and is not fundamentally flawed, is proof enough for me of their pride in America and the American system of governance.

Addendum: I made that lol, what luck that Bachmann used Impact as her campaign font!

15 October 2008


The last debate is tonight and McCain has been saying he will utter the name William Ayers at some point, which is probably a guarantee that he wont.

I'm not a drinker, but if McCain says "that one" again, I think we can all agree that you have to finish your drink and blame the person to your right.

14 October 2008

This will take years

Judge postpones hearings for RNC 8

The court cases stemming from the RNC protests are starting to wind their way through the courts. Many people arrested and charged with felonies at the time have had their charges reduced to misdemeanors. Which is good for them, but it hints that the original charges were more for intimidation than anything else.

There were eight people arrested on the Friday before the RNC. Because they were arrested after the close of business before a three day weekend, they were held until the last day of the convention. They had their hearings postponed today at the request of their lawyers.
Criminal complaints allege the eight are members of an anarchist group that was attempting to disrupt the convention and assault police.
Oh, gosh, anarchists are SO scary. Yeah, uh did you see what those cops were wearing?

Photo credit: Zak Forde

I don't think anyone wearing anything less than the same really stood a chance at hurting these cops. (And there were literally hundreds more just like these three.) Wanting to do something, and actually having the ability are not the same thing. I've talked about this before. Plotting to do something is different than gathering information and writing violent poetry, but there's still that part where they didn't actually disrupt the business of the RNC.

Larry Leventhal said he and other defense attorneys working on the case can't mount good defenses until they see reports from various law enforcement agencies that provided security during the RNC.

"It's important to know what the charges are based on so we can prepare a proper defense," said Leventhal. "There are reports from the FBI -- we have nothing, and they were all over the place. These are reports from other jurisdictions -- we have nothing. All we have are materials from Ramsey County."
I have no doubt that the lawyers will get what they need. If there is nothing else I have learned while working as Queen of the Copy Machines at a law firm, its that lawyers are really good at getting what they want, and being a real pain in the other side's ass when they don't.

13 October 2008

Enzymes vs. Metal Catalysts

Mushroom enzyme could strip pollutants from fuel cells

This had to come up sooner or later.

They have demonstrated that laccase, an enzyme produced by fungi that grow on rotting wood, can be used as a cheaper and more efficient catalyst. Fuel cells use chemical reactions — such as that between hydrogen and oxygen — to produce emissions-free electricity. But current technology is expensive and requires electrodes that contain rare metals such as platinum.

When we talk about sustainable technology, one of the things that often gets over looked is the metals. Especially the heavy, toxic, and rare ones. And especially the ones mined in terrible conditions in poorer nations. We really don't like to think about the way our lovely technologies are dependent upon plundering the natural resources of other nations.

Scientists and entrepreneurs have come up with ways to replace the oil used in energy and the oil used in making some plastics with other things. So this step of replacing metal catalysts with biological enzymes was bound to start happening.

Materials that can hold the enzymes, such as carbon, are cheap and plentiful. But the second problem could prove a more difficult problem to crack. "This has puzzled scientists for decades, why are enzymes so large?" said Fraser Armstrong, a professor of chemistry at Oxford University. "There are a lot of people trying to work out how to make small molecules do the same thing. If you could do that, you could put a thousand times more enzymes on a surface."

This is where it pays to try to figure out the shape of the enzyme and the way the active site works. There is probably a large portion of any given enzyme that goes towards putting it in it's proper place in the cell, and interacting with other proteins, that wouldn't be needed in a fuel cell. The key is to take away the parts you don't need, keep the parts you do and then get the cell to produce this new stripped down protein in high concentrations. That takes some serious protein analysis and genetic modification. This biotechnology is decades out. But its being thought about and worked on, that's the first step.