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Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 12:22 PM PST

The rise of LED light bulbs

by jerakami

Faced with a warming planet, the big question is: what can be done?  What can we do as individuals to make a difference, to cut our energy use?

The number thing I know of is to turn down the thermostat.  We have to get out of the mindset that we must always feel comfortable.  The point is, in the winter, we're supposed to be cold.  In the summer, we're supposed to be hot.  I'm not saying we get rid of heat and air-conditioning.  I'm only saying, we have to think in a more reasonable way, and have to be more connected to the earth we live on.  My thinking is if there's not at least some small degree of discomfort when the temperatures are at the extremes, then we're doing something wrong.  

With that out of the way, the second thing we can do is to change our light bulbs, and something I didn't realize until recently was the availability of the newest, and to my knowledge, most promising technology available:  LED light bulbs.   Previously, working as a reporter, I had done a story about CREE, the Durham, NC-based LED light-maker.  This was several years back, and at the time, I was told their availability was limited to larger fixtures; in other words, people who own a home and were making long-term investments, or to businesses, for indoor and outdoor fixtures.  As a renter, I was disappointed, because I simply wanted to change out my light bulbs with high-efficiency LEDs.  Now, in the short time between then and now, that is a possibility.

Why LED over the already efficient swirly compact fluorescent bulbs?  Several reasons.  First of all, the CFLs are less efficient.  For a 60 watt incandescent replacement, the range for CFLs, and I'm approximating here, seems to be around 13 to 18 watts.  For an LED, that is down to around the 6-12 range.   Second, CFLs contain a small amount of poisonous mercury.  While the amount is small, it means that when added up, CFLs that aren't properly disposed of can become a source of dangerous pollution.  And CFLs are supposed to be recycled.  But how many people will actually do that, when you have to take the bulb to a source that does that recycling?  And lastly, CFLs give off small amounts of UV rays.  This should not be enough for people to be alarmed.  After all, the sun gives off UV too.  But we certainly don't want more, and in our homes beaming onto us, say, after we've fallen asleep with the light on.  LED light bulbs have none of these concerns.

So LED lights are great, but yes, they are expensive.  However, the price is coming down quickly, and in the long-term, they will pay for themselves through lower power bills.  I recently bought these bulbs from G7 power on Amazon for about $15 per bulb.  I'm very happy with them.  They look like regular light bulbs, give off a great amount of light, use only 9 watts, and are supposed to last years longer than both CFLs and incadescent bulbs.  I'm not sure why they are not currently available, but that is what's going to happen I guess with a rapidly changing industry.  Notice also this horrible review of the same bulb.  I include this because they've reviewed a number of LED bulbs, and so that you can make an informed decision about the bulbs.  I'm not really sure, even after reading the review, why they warranted a 1 star review, but there you have it.  I think they're great.  I would encourage people wanting to buy LEDs to do research beyond Amazon reviews, though.  The point is:  good bulbs exist, they're getting cheaper, and hopefully more is on the way.

I started this diary with the bigger issue of global climate change.  This won't solve it, obviously, but it's something each of us can do, and if enough people do this, we can, maybe, slowly, somehow, get moving in the right direction.  My purpose in writing this is mainly to alert people to the availability of LED light bulbs, because I wasn't aware of them until recently myself.  Any feedback or dialogue of any kind is welcomed.  My thought is together we can make small differences that can add up to bigger changes.

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I've previously written a diary about the phenomenal documentary Chasing Ice, only to lament that the most shocking footage from the film was not on Youtube to share.  Now it is.  To see this on the big screen was haunting and life-changing.

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Via the Star News of Wilmington:  Republican David Rouzer calls for a recount in North Carolina's 7th Congressional District, trailing Democrat Mike McIntyre by 655 votes.  This is the last remaining Congressional race, and what should be a solid win for Democrats considering Republican redistricting that saw us lose 3 (at least) seats in Congress.  

Rouzer's quote:

"Considering this is the closest Congressional race in the country and in light of the irregularity previously found in Bladen County, which significantly reduced the vote margin at that time, I have decided to request a mandatory recount of the votes cast in the 7th Congressional District as allowed by law," Rouzer said in a news release Tuesday. "In a race this close, accidental human error could easily change the outcome. It is important to ensure that every legal vote cast is properly and accurately counted."
As I noted yesterday, this will be a great win for us, considering the newly drawn district, however Mike McIntyre is about as "Blue Dog" as "Blue Dog" gets.  So I won't be jumping for joy when we get the results, presumably around the middle of next week.  

This is the last uncalled race, after Allen West conceded to Patrick Murphy earlier today.

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Put Chasing Ice on your must-see list.  This is currently playing in Washington DC.  Be on the lookout for it if and when it comes near you.  The footage is just jaw-dropping.  

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Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 01:43 AM PST

Dem Holds in Southeastern NC

by jerakami

This is now several days old, but I hadn't seen it diairied yet.  Congressman Mike McIntyre has held on to beat David Rouzer in the redrawn 7th Congressional district that includes Wilmington, NC.  Unless Rouzer decides to pull an Allen West, and he may, add another Democrat to the column, or rather one that we barely survived.

This should come as mixed news, as McIntyre is a quintessential "Blue Dog," routinely votes with Republicans on numerous issues (if my memory serves me correct, that includes major legislation like the Affordable Care Act).  He's also alleged to have ties to the Christian fundamentalist group based in Arlington known as "the Family"  (a link to Jeff Sharlet's fantastic expose of the same name).  All of this has given me serious reservation about McIntyre and I would personally like to see him lose the seat, but not to an even more conservative Republican.

On the plus side, McIntyre is very smart and articulate, and seems to be hardworking and hold a firm grasp of issues that are of importance to his constituents.  This is also a year in which Democrats were absolutely hammered with redistricting in North Carolina, resulting in a loss of three congressional seats (and that coming during a very favorable election for Democrats).  We also lost the Governor's mansion at a time when our state legislature is under full and unambiguous Republican control.  Dark times in North Carolina.  So at this time, a win is a win, and I'll take it.

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This is a particularly strong endorsement, following a more tepid, yet still notable endorsement from the state's largest newspaper (and sister paper) the Charlotte Observer.  

For those unfamiliar, the Raleigh News & Observer, while shrinking as all papers are, is arguably the most prominent and influential newspaper in the state.  

A selection on Obama:

Obama’s policies, including his economic stimulus efforts, have helped to reduce unemployment and create jobs, and in many parts of the country (including urban North Carolina) even the housing market is improving. There is hope. If one doesn’t believe it, ask workers in the auto industry, many of whose jobs were saved because of policies backed by the Obama White House.
Concerning Romney, the N&O took the high road, but were scathing nonetheless:  
Romney, born to privilege, also erred (though he didn’t know it) with secretly recorded comments to a group of donors that 47 percent of Americans were dependent on government and perfectly happy to be so.

That the group included those on Social Security and in the military didn’t seem to occur to him, and he later apologized. But it is fair to wonder if he meant what he said, the first time.

I haven't done an extensive search of North Carolina newspapers to find other endorsements.  Perhaps some of you might know of others.
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Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 11:09 AM PDT

Early Vote in Durham, NC

by jerakami

Cast my vote early in downtown Durham with family in tow this morning.  Three votes for Barack Obama.  I'd say there were 30 to 50 voters there as well voting early and the vote count was in the thousands on the machine.  Good turnout for a relatively gray and windy Saturday (with bands of Hurricane Sandy starting to just be felt).  Looked like a strong turnout to me.  

Latest poll today from Rasmussen has Romney up 6, but also acknowledges a slim deficit in early voting.  I'm more interested in yesterday's data from PPP showing the race dead even and a larger lead among early voting for Team Blue.  A Civitas poll had Romney up 1 yesterday so that seems to confirm PPP, whereas a Gravis Marketing poll has Romney up 8, more in line with Rasmussen.  Go figure.  There's no telling.  Seems to me that victory is within reach if we want it bad enough.  

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