Five at 8 – 7/9/09

1) Another front opened up in the gay marriage battle. Massachusetts has filed suit against the U.S. Defense of Marriage Act, which — for purposes of federal benefits — defines marriage as one man and one woman, the Boston Globe reports:

Massachusetts risks losing millions in dollars for MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program for the poor, and for veterans’ cemeteries overseen by the state Department of Veterans Services, unless it obeys the Defense of Marriage Act. The federal government has told the state that it cannot provide federal funding for MassHealth benefits given to same-sex spouses. It also informed the state it will lose Veterans Affairs funding if it buries the same-sex spouse of a veteran in a cemetery, as the state does for heterosexual spouses of veterans.

The Justice Department under the Obama administration is in the position of wielding the fiscal hammer and defending a law it says it doesn’t like.

2) Is there a bigger ethical question than that of extending or ending the lives of the very ill? The New York Times has the second installment of a series, Months to Live. It focuses on a convent near Rochester, NY.

3) The ethnic violence in China continues, leaving the Western world to wonder what on earth is at the heart of people picking up sticks against another countryman? Then I ran across this from Philadelphia, but it probably could’ve been anywhere..

(h/t: Conner McCall via Twitter.)

4) Whatever happened to the revolt in Iran? In the Loop has posted an interview with an Iranian blogger, who explains how the protests there are changing into quieter, more symbolic acts. She also told ITL why what Americans want to see happen in Iran and what Iranians want are two totally different things.

5) Did MPR’s Midmorning promulgate a myth when one of its guests on Tuesday’s show applauded a caller for pointing out he wastes more energy trying to dispose of CFL light bulbs? Jim Nicolow Janne K. Flisrand , writing on the American Public Media Greenwash Brigade Web site thinks so:

A quick web search on “mercury cfl” turns up a load of corrections – mostly about two years old. The Energy Star fact sheet (PDF) is clear, the EPA fact sheet (PDF) talks about other mercury sources in homes, too, The NPR story is the most nuanced. Then, there are a number of smart blog posts. Plus, there are new, lower-mercury bulbs now available.

I spent about 20 minutes last night looking for the exchange and I couldn’t find it; at least not to the detail that the writer suggests. Crowdsourcing time. If you find it, please type the transcript of the exchange in the comments section below. I’m not disputing it’s a myth, mind you, just trying to double-check the accusation.

Update 7:56 a.m. – The audio portion referred to is at 44:22.

Bonus – My, that’s an awfully serious 5@8. Let’s leave on a lighter note: The search for J.D. Salinger.


If you could travel through time, would you? And this is timely — no pun intended — because…..


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – We’re traveling through time today, sort of. At 10, Ronald Mallett is the guest. He is a theoretical physicist works out the mathematic equations that show time travel to be possible. In the first hour, Kerri Miller will discuss the practice of two health care groups that pay providers salaries instead of providing reimbursements.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – Why is this story so undercovered? The apparent cyberattacks on South Korea and the U.S. A fresh round hit South Korea this morning. In the first hour, cyber-crime expert and Purdue University computer science professor Gene Spafford will discuss the attacks.

At noon, James Fallows, Andrew Sullivan and Jeffrey Goldberg on an Aspen Ideas Festival panel called “Tweeting the Revolution: Will Social Networking and Journalism Drive Democracy?”

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Are private insurers really the the problem in the health care system? Second hour: Host Neal Conan talks to Ellen Ruppel Shell about her new book Cheap, taking a closer look at discount culture.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – MPR’s Sea Stachura, soon to leave us for the exotic land of Georgia, reports on a southeast Minnesota hog farmer who produces pork products, then recycles waste to support the operation. Also on tap: The wage of infidelity. What is the cost-benefit analysis of fooling around? And grown-ups who never learned how to ride a bike, are giving it a try. Oh, and the G-8 summit.

  • Those complaining about mercury in CFL (mostly conservatives, who don’t have a good track record lately as environmental champions) are missing the point.

    The concern is not the trace amounts of mercury in the CFL bulbs, but rather the mercury in the coal we burn to keep those lights on. A complete switchover from incandecents to CFL can reduce the amount of coal used in our power plants, thus reducing mercury in our air, our water and our walleye.

    I recently turned in several old CFL bulbs for free recycling at the Living Green Expo. There is also a facility in Blaine called Northern Lights that takes them for a very small fee.

  • 5) Just working from memory but the guest didn’t exactly concur with the caller, he just sort of glided over it without objecting. Either this caller or another one also trotted out a line about frequently having to replace CFL bulbs. The guest did a VERY poor job of responding to that point.

    My parents had the same problem. Then I reviewed their use of CFL bulbs and found they were using them in ceiling fans. The excessive fan vibrations were responsible for the bulbs short lives.

    I live next to two high speed rail lines. My apartment vibrates constantly but I just replaced my first CFL bulb a month ago. I don’t know if CFL bulbs are the best way to go, but neither did Miller’s guest.

  • Bob Collins

    I stuck a couple in the garage door opener. Same deal with vibration. They didn’t last more than 6 months. Not sure what’s going to happen when we can’t buy incandescents but perhaps LEDs will have advanced to the point where they’re not quite so focused and the light can be made more diffuse in high vibration environments.

    I bought one of those LED worklights (talk bout your vibration) from Sears a few years ago. I tossed it a few months ago; a complete waste of money. The LEDs started going out row by row.

    I’m back to an incandescent in a worklight holder.

  • bsimon

    On the lighting subject: I read an article yesterday on the ‘new incandesents’ that are being developed. They meet the ‘2012’ standards for efficiency & some will allegedly far exceed them, potentially providing an alternative for people who don’t care for CFL and/or LED alternatives. This should also provide some relief to Rep Bachmann, who apparently feels quite strongly about incandescent light bulbs.

  • Robert Moffitt

    I had some trouble with CFLs over the years (one nearly started a fire, I don’t buy that brand any more), but I am sticking with them.

    I saw the difference in the electric bill right away. I have been using them for nearly 20 years now. They were HUGE and expensive ($25 each!) when I first bought them.

    The cost (and size) has come down quite a bit, I expect this trend to continue as they become more common.

    They still are lousy as floodlights, but good for most other lighting needs.

  • @Robert Moffitt

    Why CFL mercury is worse than coal power mercury

    Greater coal power mercury problem was only ever true where untreated coal power dominated, and is not true any longer.

    New injection and photochemical techniques along with conventional gasification and wet scrubber use have -and will- dramatically reduce all coal power mercury emissions:

    USA Government EPA (Environmental Protection Agency): 90% mercury emission reduction by 2018 (phase 1 = 21% reduction by 2010, phase 2 = 69% further reduction by 2018):

    “On March 15, 2005, EPA issued the Clean Air Mercury Rule to permanently cap and reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants for the first time ever. This rule makes the United States the first country in the world to regulate mercury emissions from utilities.”

    (new EPA administrator Lisa Jackson early 2009 confirmed the vigorous reduction policy)

    About mercury and CFLs and emissions including EPA links and other references:

    In a nutshell:

    1. We know where the ever decreasing coal power stations chimneys are and we can treat their emissions with ever increasing efficiency at lower costs.

    2. Compare that with billions of scattered broken lights on dump sites, when we do not know where the broken lights are, and so we can’t do anything about them.

    [Return schemes as proposed in Maine would alleviate though not solve the problem, as seen by low compliance in the EU]

  • Adam-Edelgard

    Sometimes it’s really that simple, isn’t it? I feel a little stupid for not thinking of this myself/earlier, though.