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Avocado Tom Tarka
Go Giggle!
Go Giggle!
Avocado Tom's posts

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For those looking to help with Typhoon Haiyan relief for the Philippines, I wanted to suggest donating to Save the Children.

A good friend of mine works for them and just got deployed to the Philippines last night. They (and he) had a huge and prolonged Hurricane Sandy effort and do top notch work.

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Help transformative techs in India, or apply for a grant if you're in India.
+Jacquelline Fuller wrote:

"We recently launched our Google Impact Challenge in India — asking Indian nonprofits to tell us how they’d use technology to transform lives. We’re asking for your help to spread the word about this opportunity to Indian nonprofits in your network. 

The application window is now open and Indian nonprofits are invited to apply online until September 5th at: Four recipients will receive a Rs 3 crore (about $500,000) Global Impact Award, and technical assistance from Google to help make their project a reality."

If you're an Indian non-profit with big ambitions to change the world, check it out! 

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When I talk to people about the realities of energy conversion and where we get our energy, the discussion inevitably turns to Germany as a success story and how we can move to solar and wind just like they did.

When that happens I usually mention that Germany is hemorrhaging $10 billion Euros per year due to their energy policy: they've guaranteed that renewables will get a certain price for their electricity, but customers are not charged that actual cost.  

Turns out, I was wrong...last year it was $17 billion Euros.  

From Nature: 

"Renewable-power producers cashed in an estimated €20 billion last year for electricity that was actually worth a mere €3 billion on the wholesale electricity market. The difference came out of the pockets of consumers."  (Source:

Oh, and they're building new coal-fired power plants for baseload power due to the combination of nuclear plant shutdowns (based on a moratorium) and due to intermittent renewables being unable to provide that baseload power without storage.  There are also GDP impacts as companies are moving their energy intensive industries to countries with lower energy costs.

Again, I'm for renewables, but these aren't simple problems, and Germany's energy policy has been pretty far from a slam dunk in terms of renewables.

Additional reading:

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I know that you are all a very diverse group, with myriad and varied opinions and faith in the political process, so please feel free to ignore this as appropriate.  

I would ask that if you believe in moving the ball forward with regards to gun control - and yes, I know it's a very small step - please consider calling your Senator and asking them to support the Manchin/Toomey/Schumer/Kirk bill.  The vote will be this afternoon, and it's going to be a tough vote to get to 60.

If you have any questions, please p-mail me...

I'm new to gmail and over the last 12 hours I've been having problems connecting from my browser, both from home and work.  I.e. I'm getting the message:

"Unable to reach Gmail. Please check your internet connection or company's network settings. Help" messages in my sidebar.

Is this normal?

I'm confused by the opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline.  

Failure to build the pipeline does not mean the resource is not going to be developed: it's already being developed and being transported to markets and will continue to be developed and sold.  

All failure to build the pipeline means is that it's going to not be transported to the Gulf refineries, but instead transported to Canadian refineries, non-Gulf U.S. refineries, or exported.  

The benefit of it being transported to our refineries instead of other refineries is that we transform the raw material into a finished product, which increases the value and improves our balance of trade.  It also means we import more from Canada and less from the Middle East.  

The only downside of building the pipeline is that the crude we'll be using has higher greenhouse gas emissions than some other crudes.  However, as this resource is going to be used anyway - if not by us in the Gulf, then by others, either in North America or abroad - then it doesn't matter: those emissions will still happen.

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I listened to this on my iPod the other night and was blown away.  I'm not sure I had ever read it, but I'm sure now was the time for me to hear it.

As an aside, one of the things that always gets me about reading American writings from the past is that our forefathers and mothers had the same doom and gloom about our society as we did.  Maybe it's that paranoia that things are going downhill that keeps us motivated to work harder to stop it...

G+ fail: I accidentally added someone in the "Add more people" line, and when I go to remove them by clicking on the "x" it brings a pop-up preview of who that user is, hiding the "x".

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I passed this on to a couple of friends, and I thought it might be insightful to others. It's some simplified graphics to explain our energy usage:
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