Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Metal Deficit Disorder

Anyone who reads this blog regularly (and that's not hard. I don't post that often, so the commitment is minimal) knows that I hate Metallica.

I hate Metallica, and what they've become.

They started out strong, with great songs and one of the coolest names in thrash (as my brother once noted in a Burger King parking lot), but turned into one of the lamest, money-grubbing crap slingers in the music business.

First, they shortened their songs, then their hair. They started with videos and merchandised themselves to the hilt. Now, they're making our kids fat. (Oops, I almost forgot about the Napster thing = This link Not Safe For Work).

Anyway, back to making our kids fat. This is part of Metallica's latest sellout.

Just when I thought they couldn't sell out any further. When Metallica already rules the niche of sweaty jock anthems, they have gone and made themselves part of the Guitar Hero video game.

The point of the game is to stay inside the house as long as possible, staring at a screen, trying to sound like Metallica on a plastic guitar. That equals fat kids (being instilled with a taste in bad music, and probably being forced to listen to Lars).

So now Metallica has ruined metal and a video game. Is there a Whack-A-Downloader Bonus Level on the new Guitar Hero: Metallica?

There's something called Nature Deficit Disorder. Kids are spending too much time indoors, being deprived of nature and an appreciation for things of this Earth.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Last night, Eddie Vedder offered me a green job

Last night, I was at the campground, in my travel trailer, when I heard a familiar sound. Someone was playing a Pearl Jam CD. Or so I thought. 

I looked out the window and saw a sign at a bar across the street. "Eddie Vader," it said. Must be a tribute artist, or something, I thought. Pearl Jam meets Star Wars? But he sure sounded a lot like the real thing.

A little later, I was sitting outside my trailer when I heard someone playing an acoustic guitar and singing at the campsite next door. I walked over..

Lo and behold, the real Eddie Vedder was playing a song for the guys camping next door. 

They were sitting on a picnic table. Eddie was walking around, crooning. It was a familiar song. Can't remember which one, but probably something from the rich-boy-goes-green movie, "Into the Wild."

I'll say right now that I loved that movie, despite its problems. I loved the songs. I don't love Eddie Vedder. I blame him for the fall of 1980s hair metal. He "created" grunge, and grunge killed the music of my youth. But I digress ...

I walked over and sat down, and me and Eddie got to talking. The guys at the campsite asked him how he was making this weird, fluttering sound with the guitar. 

He showed them, taking another guitar sitting nearby and using a hammer to dent the strings. Sure enough, the second guitar began to flutter as he strummed it and pressed the fret board. 

I may be going on and on here, but bear me out. I, for some reason, picked up a third guitar and tried the same thing with the hammer. I proceeded to break most of the middle strings. They curled up like spaghetti. 

That's pretty much all I remember about the dream (if you haven't figured that out by now). I slept through the whole thing. 

I've been thinking about what it all means. Here's my analysis: Lately, I've been dreaming a lot about losing my job. More like nightmares. I'm really interested in this new green economy and the jobs that are supposed to be just over the horizon.

Eddie is the old school. He is the my current job. He's still good, but he's getting kind of old. Camping is a metaphor for moving beyond my current circumstances, "Into the Wild" so to speak. The broken strings represent the splintering of the media business. My short conversation (and friendship?) with Eddie represents my flight into the future. I'm excited.

- Green Mullet. 

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Green Hotspots in Michigan ...

according to someone far, far away. 

Plenty magazine, formerly made with paper, is now an online-only product. And it's been taken over by MNN, the Mother Nature Network, aka the green CNN. But MNN is not in Michigan, so allow me to help. 

An MNN/Plenty list of Green Hotspots throughout the United States includes four Michigan places (I've barely heard of): 

Wickwood Inn in Saugatuck, the Ford Rouge Factory Tour in Dearborn, Harbor Springs Antiques and Crosby Mint Farms in St. Johns.

I guess these are OK choices, but how about a list that features Michigan's unique and natural wonders:

1. Lighthouses: Michigan has more than 115, including some you can get to without a boat. You can spend the night in some of these. 

2. The Great Lakes. Recreation, fishing, serenity. Choose from Michigan, Superior, Huron and Erie (Ontario is actually outside the state).

3. Islands, like Mackinac and Beaver. Mackinac, no cars. Beaver, once ruled by a king. 

4. Iargo Springs, Iosco County. Just a personal favorite (pictured above). Take a long walk down a wooden staircase, and be transported to a wonderland. 

5. Add your personal favorites here, and in the comment section. 

- Green Mullet. 

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Go Go Girls, Tommy, Slash, why should we care?

So my taxes are done, and my refund has come in. And I spent some of it on a trip to Mexico. Wife, sun, beach, relax, far away from the depressing Michigan economy.

I have three books to read: Go Go Girls of the Apocalypse, Tommy Land and Slash. Two rock books, one Tarantino-esque thriller.

While I'm in Mexico, I'll probably be thinking about the environment. That's just how I am. How will the beaches there compare to Michigan, and how come I can't drink the tap water?

Which brings me to a recent write-up by Michael Nelson in The Ecologist magazine. (Oh yes, I rarely miss an issue).

Nelson, an enviro ethics prof from Michigan State University, argues that the green mindset needs to shift.

Don't reduce your carbon footprint to avert disaster, he writes, do it because you care about the Earth, period. Learn to live sustainably. Even if you're the only one who recycles, do it because it's the right thing to do.

This may all be pretty deep for a Sunday afternoon, but it's a good reminder that the green movement needs to work harder at being more practical and empowering and less trendy. Change and hope Obama-ites take notice.

There's even a chart (pdf, page 3) that totally belongs on your refrigerator.

- Green Mullet

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Good livin' is green livin'

So I came across an interesting post on Lifehacker this morning about the most affordable (and least affordable) places to live in the U.S. 

I scrolled down the list and found a category of smaller cities (below 500,000). Four Michigan towns were in the Top Ten: Lansing/East Lansing, Bay City, Battle Creek and Saginaw/Saginaw Township.

The list, from the National Association of Home Builders, got me thinking. I drank coffee and kept on thinking. I wondered to myself, how much of this "most affordable" category has to do with the foreclosure crisis and record high unemployment?

But I thought of a more positive spin. Perhaps it's cheaper to live green, as in a low-energy, high-efficiency home. Low and behold, the Michigan cities on the affordable list are the same Michigan cities that are members of Green Built, a NAHB program.

Of course, this proves nothing, except that the next wave in homes is something to consider, for the cost-savings and piece of mind alone. 

Oh, what the heck. I have more proof. One of the first Green Built chapters was in Grand Rapids, Mich. From there, the program grew into a nationwide effort. 

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Living the life I was born to live ...

Giving it all I got to give ...

The great, under-rated film "Rock Star" is playing on E (so the kids can watch it, too). I'm sitting by the fire in the living room. Drinking a sort of Long-Island Iced Tea (since we're out of the ingredients for a High Ball).

The movie
is based on articles by Andy Revkin, of the New York Times, one of the best enviro journalists out there (An NYT guy actually e-mailed me for an interview the other day, but that's another story).

Andy writes a lot about global warming on his blog Dot Earth.

So what's my point here? A pretty jarring post I saw today from Bill McKibben, a "Stand Up and Shout" column on protesting coal-fired power.

Bill, an enviro from Middlebury College, writes that he's willing to go to jail to protest the burning of climate change chunks. This is good old-fashioned civil disobedience. Just as good as old-fashioned rock 'n' roll.

- Green Mullet.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Guns 'N' Roses 'R' Red

Sorry I've been neglecting you. But you might have heard, the weather has taken a turn for the better in Michigan. High temps last weekend, almost 60. The snow melted. Then it rained yesterday. Then there were some sewer overflows. Almost spring.

So I've been spending more time outside. The wife and I went to a Guns 'N' Roses tribute concert on Saturday. I looked for some Green Mullet material, but all I could think of was a rant about the guy on the soundboard who was apparently deaf, or at least tone deaf. I mean, I want to hear "Axl," not "Adler," so turn up the vocals and the friggin' bass.

Now, it's almost Valentine's Day. The wife and I are going out again on Friday, to beat the rush. For the folks out there who are celebrating, there are lots of green ways to go.

First off, shower with someone who love, or at least someone you like a lot. Right there, you're saving water and energy.

The other bloggers came up with a bunch of other ideas. Huff Post recommends buying eco-jewelry, abstaining from the holiday as a way of living more sustainably, making a vegan cake (yuck) or sending out naked digital pictures (yuck factor may vary).

I know the Huff Post is allegedly a liberal rag, according to my co-worker, but I've found its enviro coverage to be top notch. Maybe I'm a liberal? Maybe not. Maybe I just value good info. Huff Post has been delivering. Gotta tell ya. Welcome to the jungle.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Who's the next Enviro Villian?

I miss Dubya.

Don't worry. Just a little. Kind of like when Kip Winger retired. It's nice to have a villian to throw darts at (check your Metallica history). Now that George W. is gone, who do we blame for the world's environmental problems?

Oh, I know, the Bush administration! I'm sure that will be a common refrain in coming years, especially in Congress: "We're trying to undue the damage done by Dubya."

With Friday the 13th approaching, and a new (re-imagining of) Friday the 13th coming to theaters, I thought I'd take some votes on who the next environmental villian, environmental killer, environmental horror guy (or gal) should be.

Oh, I got it: Sean Hannity . This guy ... He's just ignorant when it comes to topics like climate change. And I keep listening to his radio show. The show switched from AM to FM in my market, and I keep listening. I guess I just want to know what the Flat Earthers have to say.

Today he was going on about the new energy secretary, Steven Chu, making fun of Chu for sounding the alarm about global warming in California.

Here's Chu, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997, being ridiculed by Hannity, a former bartender and co-host on Fox News. Oh, I know Chu isn't a climate scientist, but he can read (Hannity?) and two recent university studies make similar warnings about the Golden Gate State. OK. I know who to believe.

I vote for Hannity for Environmental Villian of 2009 (at least until I can find someone better). Sen. James Inhofe?

I welcome your thoughts.

- Green Mullet.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

It's a great day to run over something

What a day. Could it get any worse? Broken computer? Broken garbage disposal?

Nah, it can only get better (sending positive vibes your way).

I stumbled this afternoon across a Facebook posting for my 20-year high school reunion. I feel a little old, but it turns out I'm doing just what I wanted to with my life: Writing. Didn't think it would be about the environment, to tell you the truth. I used to be addicted to True Crime. Anyway, maybe there's a novel in there somewhere.

On to someone else who's "living the dream." Remember my post the other day about recycling shedded or combed-out pet hair? That, actually, was a tip cut from "An Inconvenient Truth" due to time constraints. Not.

The latest eco-tip out there is on recycling roadkill. As fun as it is to run over a small animal (guilty pleasure, bump), I can't imagine doing more than scraping roadkill off the road and putting it into the trash. Maybe into a compost pile? Nah, not at my house. Kidding people, I wouldn't kill a bunny or squirrel on purpose.

Autobloggreen, usually pretty level-headed, tells the story of one Amy Nugent, a Canadian (figures) who turns bits of smooshed animals into bracelets and wall hangings.

With Valentine's Day coming up, this is a sure-fire romantic gift. Not. But at least it's sustainable. "Honey, I care about you and I care about the Earth. So I bought you this sustainable animal bracelet. No animals were (intentionally) harmed to make this fine trinket for your wrist."

And fitting with the theme of this blog, Amy plays music, but is not related to Mr. Stranglehold. She gets $255 for porcupine-quill bracelets, so it's not all bad.

- Green Mullet.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Lisa from Jersey gets tough on grunge

Spent some of the night laying (lying?) in bed. Couldn't sleep. But the wife says I was snoring, so I must have slept some.

As I laid in bed, I thought about things I should post here, like Lisa Jackson's memo to her new EPA staff.

Jackson, from Jersey, was confirmed last week as the new EPA chief. Her memo laid out her priorities: Reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality, managing chemical risks, cleaning up hazardous-waste sites, protecting America's water and reviving 80s hair metal. OK, I snuck that last one in. But these are all laudable goals (including the revival).

I say all of this because just the other day, I was ripping on an over-reaction to a recent EPA ruling on a coal-fired power plant in South Dakota. I still think I was right (write?) about that one, but I must say this memo signals a turn in my mind. The Bush EPA sought comments on global warming pollution. And what does Lisa say?

"EPA will stand ready to help Congress craft strong, science-based climate legislation that fulfills the vision of the President. As Congress does its work, we will move ahead to comply with the Supreme Court’s decision recognizing EPA’s obligation to address climate change under the Clean Air Act."

- Green Mullet
P.S. I left out references to Lisa's last name, and connections to Thriller Michael Jackson, and how I think sidewalks light up when Barack steps on them, a la Billie Jean. I thought of these things while sleeping/snoring.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Reading the coal ashes

Like reading the tea leaves. I can't. But here's my take on the latest big shift in the EPA:

Yep, Sheriff Barack is in town and enviro groups are falling over themselves to find new ways to jazz up the story. Here's the latest: The EPA has turned down plans for a coal plant in South Dakota at the last minute. Says the state didn't do enough to regulate for pollutants like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide and greenhouse gases. 

So the story is, this is a major shift, since there's a new president in office. And as the story goes, all new coal plant permits will now be under the microscope of Captain Planet. Goodbye coal plants, hello wind and solar magic.

Uh huh. Barack has been in office for about five days. He issued some executive orders to freeze pending regulations and pledged more openness in government. His pick for EPA chief was confirmed Friday. This isn't Barack-related. The letter was sent the day before Lisa Jackson was given the nod. And the EPA didn't reject this permit. They aren't requiring CO2 controls. All they want is for the permit to be revised for SO2 and NOx. 

Enviro groups (and the media) need to calm the heck down. Give it time, people. Don't jump the gun before Janie gets it out of the bag. Every time an enviro group makes a big deal out of something like this, they hurt their cause. 

- Green Mullet. 

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Light saber politics

So Obama has taken the oath of office --- twice --- now comes the real work. Kind of like working on your second album after a campaign that rivaled "Appetite for Destruction."

If the "Use Your Illusion" allusion carries through, Obama will have four years of ups and downs, but will come out with great accomplishments, a la "November Rain" and the less-appreciated "Estranged."

In his first couple days of office, The New Guy has frozen some last-minute Bush regs until they can be reviewed. That includes removing gray wolves from the endangered species list and mining for uranium near the Grand Canyon.

I'm waiting now for the Mainstream Media to start ripping Obama to shreds (they love to lift them up, then tear them down). But for now, the lovefest continues, and Obama is seizing the moment. A million-plus at the Jan. 20 inauguration, high viewership of the pageantry, lots of cheering and a feeling of hope in the air, even among Republicans.

- Green Mullet.

Friday, January 16, 2009

When enviros go too far

No, I'm not talking about buying a Prius. I'm talking about making sweaters out of pet hair.

Of course, we've all thought about it (not). Michigan has been frozen stiff by subzero temperatures this week. People are even driving slower. Too cold to drive the speed limit. That's good for the environment, but this isn't:

Inhabitat, a blog about eco-design and other goodies (Oh Jill ), has a post on turning your shedded dog and cat fur into a sweater. I suppose you could also comb the hair out.

This is sick. Throw your pet fur away, fer God sakes. Or at the most, mix it with candle wax to make some quick campfire starters (although the smell would probably be nasty). I can't imagine wearing a pet sweater. It would have to itch like crazy. Dogs and cats would be following you around all day, sniffing your stuff. Would you need to get a flea collar?

OK, I'm being silly now, like those folks at PETA. Would they throw red paint on you if you wore dog or cat fur? They might think you killed your pet just to keep warm. I'll take the Kid Rock challenge with PETA, while eating a grilled "sea kitten."

- Green Mullet.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Nuclear assault begins

or never ends

I've been seeing a lot of posts lately on nuclear power. The take away from most of these rants: Nuclear power bad.

The latest is from Compass, the Sierra Club blog. Seems another blog, Climate Progress, has a lengthy post about the cost of new nuclear far exceeding renewables and the low-hanging fruit, energy efficiency. They say the power you don't create is the cheapest to eliminate. Perhaps that could be the chorus of a song. 

The study, by "a leading expert in power plant costs, Craig A. Severance" (never heard of him) says the generation costs for nuclear in 2009 are 25-30 cents per kilowatt hour, or three times current electricity rates. 

Since when is cost the factor in new power? Surely, we all care about what our power costs. But the latest argument is about the cost of nuclear? What about the benefits? What about the next generation of nuclear power that is safe? 

What about the experience in France? What about all the myths associated with the dangers of nuclear power? You're about to spit out Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, right? Chernobyl wasn't designed correctly. Three Mile Island is an example of nuclear safeguards that worked. Next!

This country needs new sources of baseload power that are not coal. Nuclear can provide that source, minus the greenhouse gas emissions. I just don't think that efficiency, wind, solar and whatever else can replace coal. 

Oh, I almost forgot: The problem of nuclear waste. Right now, we store it in concrete casks outside nuke plants. So scary. But on the other hand, we pump the waste from coal into the air, and sweet mercury lands in our waterways. And other countries recycle nuke waste, but the U.S. doesn't? Don't we like recycling?

- Green Mullet

Sunday, January 11, 2009

electric avenue (we gonna rock down to)

Here they come, the electric vehicles. Forget that it's been tried before. They killed the electric car. They're back again. 

Toyota has one. Ford has one. C'hrysler has three. Hell yeh. But look closely. These are "concept" vehicles. Kind of like a mirage. 

Thanks for the bailout check. Here's an electric vehicle that will go 100 miles on a charge. All electric. 

The release of these Toyota and Ford electrics is coming in 2012, so say the bloggers (who are kicking the crap out of the journos so far at the Detroit auto show). Chrysler's is coming in 2010. Next year. 

Let's take a trip in the way back machine. Electric vehicles have been around since the 1800s. Are they nothing more than a promise that will never be fulfilled on a commercial scale?

It's something to ponder. I never thought David Lee Roth would rejoin Van Halen, so anything's possible. 

I'm looking forward to hearing some talk out there about where all the electricity will come from to power these next generation EVs. Coal? Wind and solar? Safe nuclear

- Green Mullet. 

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I want my big TV

Sing the title of this post to the ol' Dire Straits song. But while you're sitting back, watching an '80s video on your big 52-inch flat screen, get ready for this jolt: California regulators are drafting energy efficiency rules for LCDs and plasmas.

It's because the TVs suck up so much juice. 

Usually, federal regulations follow. 

Of course, this won't have any bearing on watching MTV videos, since they don't show videos on MTV anymore. That's what VH1 Classic is for (I feel old). 

I love my seven TVs. Did I say that? But none of them are flat screens, so I'll be able to sleep tonight (and pay my electric bill). 

As for the upcoming regs, what's this world coming to? 

Its senses, I guess. More energy-efficient electronics are better for everyone. Sure, the prices will be higher, but they'll come down. The next frontier should be regs on those energy vampires, which suck juice even when they're not being used. 

P.S. The new regs for LCDs and plasmas are reported to start in 2011. Unless Obama delays them

- Green Mullet. 

Thursday, January 8, 2009

DTV = trash

By now you've heard about D-Day, or Feb. 17, when "The Digital Transition" takes place.

What does it all mean? Better TV? Nope. It's a way for corporations to get us to upgrade our TVs. It's a way for corporations to increase their broadcasting spread for free under existing licenses. The public has been shut out of the process. Do you think there will be more content, better content, more public access channels? What a laugh

The DTV Revolution is a scam. Take a look back and you'll see that this was pushed by the big media corporations. Of course, there was little if any coverage of the legislation that led to this mandated conversion. The big media corporations don't do a very good job of reporting on themselves (if they could only get the damn bloggers to follow suit). 

Years back, there was a PBS documentary on this swindle. I can't find it online, but you can read more about this story, thanks to links like this. 

Maybe the corporations and Congress will help us to "improve" the Interent next. Hopefully not.

Which brings me to my point: The trash that this analog to digital switch is generating. Millions of people got new TVs for Christmas, or will soon. Most of the old TVs are going into landfills. Thankfully, there are decent agencies and companies out there who are helping recycle this stuff. Check it out.

- Green Mullet

Monday, January 5, 2009

Don't give up on green

This message (from me) has been a long time coming. Lake Superior State recently came out with its annual list of banished words. This year, they apparently decided to get political, and chose "green" and "carbon footprint."

Yeh, one year of environmental awareness and progress (Obama) is enough. Banish green and carbon footprint. How ridiculous. Sure, some companies and organizations took advantage of the green wave. But at least it's a part of the discussion now. And some companies are doing more than greenwashing.

Also, this will (hopefully) be the year when the U.S. finally sets some regulations on carbon dioxide. In other words, the year the U.S. begins green measures to reduce its carbon footprint, Lake Superior State.

I was listening to The Hold Steady on the way back from a post-holiday party this weekend. The title of the CD: "Stay Positive." Which fits my message here (one guy also is wearing a green shirt): Don't give up on green. The economy sucks. But that's partly because our economy is built on this old assembly line, fossil fuel model. The more things we do to go green and reduce our carbon footprint, the more jobs that will create. I'd like one of these green jobs, by the way.

Green Mullet.