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Archive for April, 2009

A little joy with a Privacy Policy

April 29th, 2009 No comments

Since I use advertisers I thought it was probably time to add a privacy policy.  It is a just a generic policy stating that I will do everything I can to protect visitors privacy. My privacy policy has a couple objectives that go like:

Privacy Policy of Chris-Estes.com

Your privacy is critically important to me. As Chris Estes I have a few fundamental principles:

  • I don’t ask you for personal information unless I truly need it. (I can’t stand services that ask you for things like your gender or income level for no apparent reason.)
  • I don’t share your personal information with anyone except to comply with the law, develop products, or protect our rights.
  • I don’t store personal information on my servers unless required for the on-going operation of one of my services.

You can read the rest on the privacy policy page if you are gluten for punishment.

American-made steel is cleaner than steel made in China

April 22nd, 2009 1 comment

Happy Earth Day!

Since today is Earth Day I thought I would share in something that is near and dear to my heart, Steel.  As a product of the American Middle Class and third generation of Steel Mill Workers in Birmingham lets just say the post below is a hot topic for me. China’s Pollution Problem

Growing up in a state that has weak environmental laws that barely expand the basic laws the Federal Environmental Agency demands has always been issue for my community.  We have come a long way and still have further to go.  But one country is not doing its share of keeping the environment clean.

American Steel is Cleaner than Chinese Steel

TreeHugger’s John Chamber’s has reported on AAM’s recent study of China’s steel industry.  Chambers notes that steel production in China creates 5 times more sulfer dioxide, 18 times more particulate matter and 3 times more nitrogen oxides per ton of steel than that of production in the United States.

graphic comparing china to us steel production.jpg

Moreover, carbon emissions for each ton made in China are twice that of their American counterparts. The American steel industry has worked hard to cut their environmental footprint. The reduction of greenhouse gases means industry has surpassed Kyoto target by 240%. Plus, the Chinese companies can expect smaller fines for non-compliance of environmental standards for the iron-based resource from their centralized governments. The maximum fine in China is $14,000.00 compared to $450,000.00 in the United States.

Read the report.

Steel isn’t the only thing China is polluting with. You might want to Check out what the Brits are saying about pollution in China too.  Somewhere else too look is the Australian’s chatter on the topic.

A 2007 New York Times Article puts the pollution in Bejing in Perspective:

As China Roars, Pollution Reaches Deadly Extremes

Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

No country in history has emerged as a major industrial power without creating a legacy of environmental damage that can take decades and big dollops of public wealth to undo.

But just as the speed and scale of China’s rise as an economic power have no clear parallel in history, so its pollution problem has shattered all precedents. Environmental degradation is now so severe, with such stark domestic and international repercussions, that pollution poses not only a major long-term burden on the Chinese public but also an acute political challenge to the ruling Communist Party. And it is not clear that China can rein in its own economic juggernaut.

Public health is reeling. Pollution has made cancer China’s leading cause of death, the Ministry of Health says. Ambient air pollution alone is blamed for hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. Nearly 500 million people lack access to safe drinking water.

Chinese cities often seem wrapped in a toxic gray shroud. Only 1 percent of the country’s 560 million city dwellers breathe air considered safe by the European Union. read more…

With all the problems China is inflicting on the world, why not buy American Steel?

Maglev Comes to Birmingham

April 17th, 2009 3 comments

High Speed Rail MapMaglev high speed trains are coming to Birmingham.  In a proposal by the Obama Administration high speed trains will connect Atalanta, New Orleans, Houston, and Birmingham in the Gulf Coast Corridor.

According the Federal Railroad Administration the “vision is to transform the nation’s transportation system, by rebuilding existing rail infrastructure while launching new high speed passenger rail services in 100-600 mile corridors that connect U.S. communities. Similar to how interstate highways and U.S. aviation system were developed in 20th century: partnership between public sector and private industry, including strong Federal leadership that provided a national vision”.

The proposal was released yesterday (April 17, 2009) and by no means definite. Funds have been allocated to the tune of $8 Billion initially and $1 Billion annually over the next five years. These funds are considered a down payment on what is surely to require many more Billions of dollars from state and local governments. First round Federal Grants are expected to be awarded by the end of Summer 2009.

Obama’s administration is promising a transparent approach in development and outlines what appears to be a three phase plan to implement based on merit and benefits.

  • First round of applications will focus on projects that can be completed quickly and yield measurable, near-term job creation and other public benefits.
  • Next round to include proposals for comprehensive high-speed programs
    covering entire corridors or sections of corridors.
  • Additional funds will be available for planning to help jump-start corridors not yet ready for construction.

Ten Major Corridors have been Identified.

  • California Corridor (Bay Area, Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego)
  • Pacific Northwest Corridor (Eugene, Portland, Tacoma, Seattle, Vancouver BC)
  • South Central Corridor (Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Little Rock)
  • Gulf Coast Corridor (Houston, New Orleans, Mobile, Birmingham, Atlanta)
  • Chicago Hub Network (Chicago, Milwaukee, Twin Cities, St. Louis, Kansas City, Detroit, Toledo, Cleavland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Louisville)
  • Florida Corridor (Orlando, Tampa, Miami)
  • Southeast Corridor (Washington, Richmond, Raleigh, Charlotte, Atlanta, Macon, Columbia, Savannah, Jacksonville)
  • Keystone Corridor (Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh)
  • Empire Corridor (New York City, Albany, Buffalo)
  • Northern New England Corridor (Boston, Montreal, Portland, Springfield, New Haven, Albany)

Also, opportunities exist for the Northeast Corridor (Washington, Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia, Newark, New York City, New Haven, Providence, Boston) to compete for funds for improvements to the nation’s only existing high-speed rail service, and for establishment and upgrades to passenger rail services in other parts of the country.

The proposed high speed rail system is intended for immediate economic relief creating new jobs, specifically in the construction and manufacturing sector.  Proposals have also been made that this system will be a green system.  A date for breaking ground on the project was not proposed in the announcement.  Planning and funding application time line goes through February of 2009.  So the immediate impact on Middle-class workers isn’t likely until years to come.

From the Federal Railroad Administration on the Gulf Coast Corridor:

Gulf Coast High Speed Train Corridor
Major Cities: Houston, New Orleans, Mobile, Meridian, Birmingham, Atlanta

Overview: The designated Gulf Coast Corridor would use New Orleans as its hub, with three spokes reaching (1) Houston, (2) Mobile, and (3) Birmingham and Atlanta. At Atlanta, the Gulf Coast Corridor would connect with the Southeast Corridor to Charlotte, Richmond, Washington, and Northeast Corridor points. At present, no corridor-type intercity rail service operates in this corridor, although Louisiana has been working with Amtrak and the Kansas City Southern to initiate a commuter service between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. The FRA has made study grants to the Southern High-Speed Rail Commission (SHSRC, formerly known as the Southern Rapid Rail Transit Commission), which comprises appointees of the three member states (Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama).

Status: Current activity includes a Baton Rouge to New Orleans conceptual engineering study and a New Orleans gateway rail improvement project.

For Further Reading on the High Speed Rail system from the Federal Railroad Administration:

Other News articles:

Billy Bob Thorton Interview

April 9th, 2009 2 comments

One of the most interesting video’s of off character interviews I have seen in a long time – Billy Bob Thorton’s radio interview goes south.

[sniplet Billy-Bob-Thorton-interview]

Thorton’s Interview may be one of the most childish radio interactions I have ever heard.  Apparently Billy Bob no longer wants to be know as an actor and only a musician.

The CNN Story

Billy Bob Thornton makes waves during music interview

By Alan Duke of CNN

(CNN) — Do not call Billy Bob Thornton an actor when you are interviewing him about his music.

Billy Bob Thornton’s interview on a Canadian radio show is garnering lots of attention.

A Canadian radio host learned that lesson when Thornton and his electric hillbilly band — the Boxmasters — visited his Toronto, Ontario, studio Wednesday morning.

When Jian Ghomeshi introduced the trio on his CBC show, he noted that its singer-songwriter-drummer was also an “Oscar-winning screenwriter-actor-director.”

Thornton’s publicist, Arnold Robinson, disputes suggestions that what followed was a breakdown by the actor — hmmm, musician.

He “simply elected not to engage with the interviewer because of the direction of the interview from the outset,” Robinson told CNN. Thornton took the reference to his movie career as an insult to his musical endeavor.

The radio interview, which also was recorded on video, may leave the audience wondering whether this was a controlled performance by Thornton or a public breakdown that revealed true anger over a perceived insult of his music.  Watch the interview with the actor-musician head south »

In their first exchange, Thornton stonewalled his questioner:

Ghomeshi: Billy Bob, you guys formed only in the last couple years, right?

Thornton: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Ghomeshi: How so?

Thornton’s radio rant

Was Thornton’s radio rant real? Or was it just an act? “Showbiz Tonight” tackles the story.
Tonight, 11 ET & PT on HLN

Thornton: I don’t know what you mean by that.

Ghomeshi: When did the band form?

Thornton: I’m not sure what that means.

Guitarist J.D. Andrew briefly rescued Ghomeshi by confirming the group came together two years ago.

The Boxmasters are on tour opening for Willie Nelson, which prompted Ghomeshi’s next question directed at Thornton.

Ghomeshi: What do you learn from Willie Nelson, Billy Bob?

Thornton: I’ve never met him

Ghomeshi: (laughing) Are you being ironic, or are you being serious?

Thornton: I don’t really know him.

Ghomeshi: You’ve never met Willie Nelson?

Thornton: I said hello to him once. He’s a nice guy.

Thornton’s band mates talked about how their music was a mix of Southern hillbilly influences and the 1960s British rock invasion. Ghomeshi tried to draw Thornton into the conversation again.

Ghomeshi: And that was true for you, Billy Bob, growing up it was sort of a combo of Stones and Monkees and Buck Owens?

Thornton: I just liked baseball when I was a kid.

Ghomeshi: And you almost became a professional baseball player, right?

Thornton: I don’t know. Maybe.

Ghomeshi: But you didn’t love music when you were a kid?

Thornton: I subscribed to a magazine called Famous Monsters in Filmland, which the publisher was a guy named Forrest J. Ackerman, who passed away recently.

The interviewer then asked Thornton if he remembered what music he listened to as a kid, but he rambled on about a monster model contest the magazine sponsored. Thornton said he entered but did not win.

The tension came to a head when Ghomeshi asked Thornton if his bizarre answers were a reaction to his brief reference to his movie career.

Ghomeshi: You would prefer me to only do this interview not mentioning at all, just to clarify, at all that you’ve ever done anything in terms of acting, screenwriting.

Thornton: That’s correct.

Ghomeshi: Part of the attention that you are getting is because of the great career you’ve had in other ways. What I’m explaining is I’m not trying to be insulting to your musical. …

Thornton: What I’m explaining is that we said do not talk about s**t like that. And we also said that we didn’t want to hear anything about how this is my first love. You wouldn’t say that to Tom Petty, would you? “I understand music is your first love.” Well, my first love was a chick named Lisa Cone. You know what I mean?

The two men then declared a truce so they could finally talk about the music Thornton called “cosmic cowboy music.”

No matter how good of a singer and drummer Thornton may be, his ability to create memorable characters is remarkable, as evidenced by his Oscar-nominated role of Karl, the mentally impaired convict in “Sling Blade.”

We now have a new Billy Bob Thornton character — the musician who wants you to forget he was ever an actor.