The weight of the gas we pump……….

is something we never consider when we fill up our vehicles, and as the motor runs, the air going through it has a weight too.

To one extent or another, most of us do know that the oxygen combines with the gasoline and a spark in the process of the internal combustion in our engines.

And then the wheels go round. And we’re happy as we go our merry way.

But fact is that personal automobile use is one of the very largest sources of the 32 BILLION TONS of man made Carbon Dioxide released into our thin layer of atmosphere annually – and that tonnage still is dramatically increasing every year.

AWOL in Berkeley, 1968

Look 3

Steve Murtaugh, photography by Kim Massie for the October 15, 1968 issue of Look Magazine

In about October of 1964 I had elected to drop out of my junior year of college to consider if I really wanted to stick with my rather newish quest to become a PhD in Experimental Psychology.

People had lots to say about the advisability or lack thereof of the hiatus, but no one had warned me about how quickly Selective Service would take away my 4s student deferment and move to draft me into the U.S. Army.

In a matter of weeks “my friends and neighbors” on the local draft board ‘requested’ that I to report to Chicago for their pre-induction physical. The presumptions was that as a warm body, I’d be found to be physically fit enough to serve, and I was.

Upon my follow up inquiry, the local draft board staffer made plain that very quickly after ‘bending over and spreading them’ there would be another free train ride to Chicago, destination two years in the Army. And by then it was in the air everywhere that the Southeast Asian war was growing rapidly. The need for ‘feet on the ground’ was fueling this new alacrity, so I was now considered ripe for service in the jungles and rice paddies of Viet Nam (as it was called then).

All this galvanized my thinking. I had gone to grade school one block from Ronald Regan’s official home. I was as thoroughly imbued with Midwestern values and culture as him or anyone. A patriotic outlook and willingness to serve never left my mind. But would I feel like re-entering college two + years on if my brief ‘time off’ was extended so drastically?

I decided to return to college and re-enter the Still Photography School. That would net me a Bachelors Degree, and if the Army were to make me a Photographer – that Military Occupational Specialty or MOS did exist, I discovered – I would return from my tour with a portfolio and a good chance to launch a career in photojournalism. And college would always be there.

So it all seemed to be going that way as I wound my way to Viet Nam in January 1968, but the ground I stood on became more and more eroded. A bit of that was told in the Look article, which will be posted here in the not too distant future.

A Suitcase in a Wristwatch

Do you remember ‘desktop’ computers from 20 or so years ago? Before being eclipsed by laptops and tablets, they were as large as a boxy briefcase (which probably lots of people don’t remember either).  So we usually put them under our desks. And when Microsoft released Windows 95, they included their brand new Version 1.0 of ‘Internet Explorer.’ The airwaves were bombarded by Microsoft asking everyone, ‘Where do you want to go today?’

Those powerful computers and that easy to use operating system with the new IE browser software came together and made web surfing ordinary.

But of course the relentless march of technology didn’t stop there, and this month some software guru decided it would be a simple weekend project to take the standard non Windows operating system out of his new Android Wear watch and replace it with that ancient clunky OS – Windows 95. Then he made a movie to show it in use and put it on YouTube to prove what had been accomplished.

He found that Windows 95 itself ‘ported over’ to his watch and ran more or less OK. You can watch those old fashioned menus pop up and etc., except the fellow wasn’t able to make Explorer work at all. But the project did make it pretty obvious that in 20 years the semi-conductors, circuit boards, power supplies, keyboard and other ‘resources’ that used to require a big boxy computer and a good sized monitor have all been miniaturized enough to fit on our wrists.

Amazing. Click here to see the movie…..

And for a more technical view of the accomplishment, check it all out on Gearburn.


Detroit – From leading “The Great Arsenal of Democracy” ……

……. To Bankruptcy.

During World War II, ‘The Motor City’ fulfilled hopes for a better life among the African American subsistence farm families migrating north. With GM as the #1 war contractor,  Ford as #3 and dozens of other enterprises booming in the mobilization of production, assembly lines multiplied and ran 24/7. Hard work built totals of 9,000 B-24 bombers at Ford Motor Company, 20,000 Sherman tanks at Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant (built by Chrysler), and myriad Deuce and a Half Trucks, Jeeps and etc. And the working families bought houses and supported schools and became middle class tax payers.

Here in Two Detroits, Separate and Unequal, Laura Gottesdiener’s latest post on TomDispatch, she traces an arc of “slow moving storms” from that ‘Arsenal of Democracy’ through the ‘separate but unequal’ finding of the Kerner Commission report of 1968 to the recent bankruptcy, even as enclaves of .01%ers flourish in the midst of the wasteland – and hire their own private security services.

By way of introducing her story in one of my favorite blogs, TomDispatch editor Nick Turse weaves in some dystopian premonitions then seen as barely conceivable satire in the ‘set in Detroit’ cult classic movie RoboCop of 1987.

Confused by the choices?  Just click here!

10 things ….. about the US-China climate deal

From: “Bill McKibben –” <>
Subject: 10 things you need to know about the US-China climate deal:
Date: November 12, 2014 1:00:39 PM PST
To: “Stephen Murtaugh” <>


Last night, just weeks after the largest climate mobilization ever, the world’s two biggest polluters — the United States and China — announced their most ambitious climate action yet. That is not a coincidence: it’s a sign that our pressure is working, and that we need to apply much more.

Here’s my take on what the just-announced plan from President Obama and Premier Xi is, and isn’t:

1) It is historic. John Kerry was right to use the phrase in his New York Times oped announcing the deal: for the first time a developing nation has agreed to eventually limit its emissions. This is a necessity for advancing international climate negotiations.

2) It isn’t binding in any way. In effect President Obama is writing an IOU to be cashed by future presidents and Congresses (and Xi is doing the same for future Politburos). If they take the actions to meet the targets, then it’s meaningful, but for now it’s a paper promise. And since physics is uninterested in spin, all the hard work lies ahead.

3) It is proof — if any more was needed — that renewable energy is ready to go. The Chinese say they’ll be using clean sources to get 20% of their energy by 2030 — which is not just possible, it should be easy. Which they know because they’ve revolutionized the production of solar energy, driving down the cost of panels by 90% or more in the last decade.

4) It is not remotely enough to keep us out of climate trouble. We’ve increased the temperature less than a degree and that’s been enough to melt enormous quantities of ice, not to mention set the weather on berserk. So this plan to let the increase more than double is folly — though it is good to see that the two sides have at least agreed not to undermine the 2 degrees Celsius warming target, the one tiny achievement of the 2009 Copenhagen conference fiasco.

5) It is a good way to put pressure on other nations. I’ve just come back from India, which has worked hard to avoid any targets of any sort. But the lesson from this pact is, actual world leaders at least need to demonstrate they’re talking about climate; it makes the lead-up to the global negotiations in Paris next year more interesting.

6) It is a reason projects like Keystone XL and fracking make even less sense than ever. If President Obama is serious about meeting these kinds of targets, then we need serious steps; the surest way to undermine this commitment would be to approve new pipelines or authorize other new fossil fuel developments like fracking. If you pledge sobriety and then buy a keg of beer, people are going to wonder.

7) It is another reminder that it is past time to divest from fossil fuels. The burgeoning divestment movement has been arguing not just on moral grounds, but also making the point that the future will inevitably lead to a downsloping curve for the old energies. This is another warning — for anyone who looks more than a few quarters out, the writing is on the wall that the fossil fuel era is on its way out.

8) It’s not, in any way, a stretch goal. These numbers are easy — if you were really being cynical, you could say they’re trying to carefully manage a slow retreat from fossil fuels instead of really putting carbon on the run. The Germans, for instance, will be moving in on 60% of their energy from clean sources by the mid-2020s, when we’ll still be cutting carbon emissions by small increments.

9) It is — and this is the real key — a reminder that movements work. President Obama first endorsed the 80 percent by 2050 goal he enshrined in this pact when he was running for president in 2007, a week after 1,400 demonstrations around the nation demanded that goal. This comes seven weeks after by far the largest global climate demonstrations in history, and amidst ongoing unrest in China about the filthy air in its cities.

10) It isn’t, in other words, a reason to slack off one bit in the ongoing fight for a livable climate, a fight we must continue at all cost. If we want this to be a start, and not a finish, we’ve got to build even bigger and more powerful movements that push the successors of these gentlemen to meet what science demands.

Today is an achievement for everyone who’s held a banner, signed a petition, and gone to jail — and a call for many more to join us going forward!

Thank you so much for everything you’ve done, and for everything you will do next.