Archive | April 2015

Freddie Gray protest + riots

We are living in interesting times in Baltimore this week. On Sunday April 12th, six Baltimore police chased down and arrested Freddie Gray, who reportedly ran quickly through several housing complexes when he saw police, but was eventually caught. In photos you can see one of the officers put his knee into Gray’s back while handcuffing him. They then put him in the back of a police van, but did not buckle him into safety belts. The van stopped once so they could put leg irons on Gray, and stopped a second time to “deal with Gray.” The van stopped a third time to take on another prisoner, and an officer lifted Gray off the floor and into a seat. When the van arrived at Western District, police called for an ambulance. Gray had a broken spine. A week later he was dead.

Last week there were several weekday protests at Western District and City Hall. They chanted the, “No Peace – No Justice,” refrain familiar to anyone that followed the Occupy movement, and variants of, “March All Day for Freddie Gray.” A larger demonstration was planned for Saturday. I wanted to go, but I’ve been trying to shake a persistent chest cold, so I watched on TV. The protests went well until late afternoon when a small group of young men and boys began running quickly through the streets near Camden Yards (baseball’s Orioles home stadium), smashing some police car windows, some shop windows and getting in fights with white citizens.

Occupy Baltimore’s website claims that Red Sox fans in bars near the stadium shouted racist slurs at the protestors to start the trouble. So does CIty Paper. It wouldn’t be hard to believe that a Southie would say something, but the result was some misunderstood photos of whites and blacks fighting in the streets.

I frankly thought the situation would die down as everyone went back to work and school. On light rail Monday morning some black men near my age were shaking their heads, saying, “What were they thinking? Didn’t they realize their faces were on camera?” But late Monday a coworker told me a cop friend told him that there was going to be trouble. Then the bosses sent out an email warning us that T Rowe Price and University of Maryland Baltimore had closed early due to, “an abundance of caution.” We had permission to leave early and several women coworkers were trying to organize an escort to their parking spots.

My coworker just shook his head when I told him I was biking down Martin Luther King Boulevard as usual. I took off a few minutes early. Vendors were setting up for the White Sox game, and though the road was crowded, the MLK sidepath was if anything, emptier than usual. Going up Eutaw Street was uneventful until I got to Druid Hill Park. Police were turning cars off Druid Hill Ave onto Swann Drive – through the park. I always go through the park because people drive way too fast on Druid Hill Ave, and had no trouble getting up to Park Heights, but I did see a phalanx of police on foot blocking off Gwynn’s Fall Parkway and Liberty Heights Road. Further up Park Heights I saw police cars at intersections, and heard sirens.

When I got home I saw what everyone else saw on WBAL TV: a burning police car and MTA police van next to a CVS drugstore that was being looted. That was on North Avenue and Fulton, just a few blocks from where I saw the blockade. Reportedly Mondawmin Mall had been looted, which is also a few blocks from there. WBAL switched to a check cashing store being looted then went back to the CVS, which now had billows of brown smoke pouring out the smashed windows.

Later on WBAL showed Christian and Nation of Islam church leaders in suits and ties trying to insert themselves between the looters and businesses, but the looters were just too fast. The WBAL broadcast team was unanimously dismissive of the looters, who they began calling rioters. Only Kweisi Mfume, who called in for an interview, showed any sympathy for the years of frustration that led to such actions. Later they announced that the baseball game had been postponed and that Governor Hogan had called out the National Guard.

In the morning I heard reports that there were scattered lootings and burnings over night. On light rail another fellow was complaining that the school let kids out early but didn’t provide transportation home. I wasn’t so sure that would have helped, but later read, Those kids were set up. Another pointed out that there are areas near there that haven’t recovered from the MLKing riots. When I got off at Convention Center, I rode one block and saw a line of khaki-clad national guardsmen and state police cars moving slowly down Conway from Camden Yards towards the Inner Harbor. They let me skitter through to Sharp Street.

This morning I heard a new meme that Gray had actually been injured riding an ATV before he was captured. I’m not sure how he could have run from police for several blocks with a broken spine, but it will satisfy the people who want to believe the police can do no wrong. In any case the problem is not just Freddie Gray – there is a long history of grievances.

The ideal since Gandhi has been to conduct non-violent protests, and often that has been sufficient, but it is worth pointing out that Gandhi lived in an era where there was a large middle class in Britain with some political power to effect change. Gandhi sensed that the right sort of protests would reach the British consciousness.

We live in an era where political power is concentrated in the hands of the wealthy. Moreover we live in an era where even white girls raped at colleges engender remarkably little sympathy among the public at large. As much as I hate to be stuck in the middle of all this, I do understand why it may seem to young people that non-violence is a failed strategy. I don’t look forward to violent struggle, but I do expect it.

Update 20150428: At ScienceBlogs, Greg Laden compares Baltimore rioting with events that led to the American Revolution, which I’m sure will thrill Tea Party members.

Update 20150429: Talking Points Memo has an article by a Morgan State prof on how the police sparked the Monday riot.

Are Solar Panels Sustainable?

The price of photovoltaic solar panels is on a very impressive downward spike. Cheaper PV holds out the promise of keeping the lights on and keeping our electrical tools and toys going. Even if the oil industry goes belly up, with cheap electricity, we could switch to driving electrical vehicles and not contribute to climate change. It all sounds so good.

But amidst the growing buzz about cheaper panels, cheaper batteries and grid parity, Low Tech Magazine asks, How Sustainable is PV Solar Power?

It’s generally assumed that it only takes a few years before solar panels have generated as much energy as it took to make them, resulting in very low greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional grid electricity. … A more critical analysis shows that the cumulative energy and CO2 balance of the industry is negative, meaning that solar PV has actually increased energy use and greenhouse gas emissions instead of lowering them.

What about the PV price drop? Many articles claim that government incentives led to increased efficiencies in manufacture. Low Tech cites studies that say otherwise:

 … the decline in costs accelerates sharply from 2009 onwards. This acceleration has nothing to do with more efficient manufacturing processes or a technological breakthrough. Instead, it’s the consequence of moving almost the entire PV manufacturing industry from western countries to Asian countries, where labour and energy are cheaper and where environmental restrictions are more loose.

This is similar to the long tailpipes argument against electric vehicles. It would be a lot more sustainable to build PV on a PV-powered grid in Germany instead of coal-intensive Asia. But buyers voted with dollars for the cheaper products from China. And the tax incentives only accelerated demand from unsustainable suppliers:

Several studies have undertaken a dynamic life cycle analysis of renewable energy technologies. … the net CO2 balance of solar PV was negative for the period 1998-2008. Solar PV power was growing too fast to be sustainable, and the aggregate of solar panels actually increased GHG emissions and energy use. According to the paper, the net CO2 emissions of the solar PV industry during those 10 years accounted to 800,000 tonnes of CO2. These figures take into account the fact that, as a consequence of a cleaner grid and better manufacturing processes, the production of solar PV panels becomes more energy efficient and less carbon-intensive over time.

The sustainability of solar PV has further deteriorated since 2008. On the one hand, industry growth rates have accelerated. … On the other hand, manufacturing has become more carbon-intensive.

Solar Panels vs Solar Panels

When I was starting out, solar panels were those rooftop contraptions which used sunlight to heat water for the house. Solar panels contained row after row of copper or pvc pipes, painted black, all in a frame behind a sheet of glass. The idea was to create a small chamber where the pipes heated up from sunlight faster than they lost heat to the air. Many were custom-built by ecologically-minded amateurs with Whole Earth Catalogs, and looked suitably low tech. Some didn’t deal with freezing temperatures well. Some leaked, but some are still working.

For about ten grand, you can now get very complete solar hot water systems by companies like Velux, which started out making roof windows – a cross between skylights and windows for attic spaces. Their solar water panels aesthetically mimic their roof windows. To deal with freezing temperatures, Velux runs a propylene glycol solution (antifreeze) through its panels, then exchanges heat with the domestic water supply. A Green Building Advisor contributor raved about his unit.

When solar panels are mentioned in today’s news, the reporter is probably talking about photovoltaic (PV) panels, which turn the energy of the sunlight into electricity. PV panels used to be horribly expensive, but after over a decade of government subsidies, prices have come down from Lotus to Porsche range. (It may also be the case that the same declining demand that is pushing down oil prices is pushing down PV and battery prices.) Some PV panel companies offer lease deals, where the cost is spread out over decades and supposedly paid for by the energy savings. But some of these deals have escalation clauses tied to the price of electricity, and electricity is actually the smaller and less important part of your energy budget compared to heating. You may find yourself trying to wring savings out of electricity while your heating bill is killing you.

Electric vehicles have also progressed from do-it-yourself projects to mainstream cars like the Nissan Leaf or luxury cars like the Tesla Model S. The Leaf has found success as a short range car among people who can drop $35K on a second family car, while the Tesla is selling well to people who can choose to spend $100K on a full range electric car and charging station instead of on a liquid-fueled supercar or limo.

With his SolarCity project, Elon Musk is hoping to sell other sorts of batteries to those same people who can swing an EV. One sort would be storage batteries for a rooftop photovoltaic array. Since the sun only shines during the day, and most of us expect electricity all the time, having a big battery would allow PV owners to rely less on the grid as backup.

I think buying batteries will work out fine for the crowd who can afford it. The rest of us will be better off designing our homes around passive solar principles and going to bed when it gets dark. It sounds straightforward to make sunlight into electricity, and use that for everything, but it is actually five times more efficient to use the sun to heat water, and lots more efficient again to use sunlight to heat your home through an arrangement of windows and well-insulated walls.

Our house was poorly sited for passive solar, so we’ve put our money into insulation, caulking, weatherstripping, thermally-efficient windows and a garden.


A few days ago I read about the letter. You know, the one asking that Columbia University fire Dr Oz, America’s (and Oprah’s) latest beloved TV doctor. Unlike Dr Phil, Mehmet Oz is a medical doctor – a very accomplished cardiothoracic surgeon who also happened to put some stock in alternative therapies like reiki. A few years ago, Oz was bunched together with RealAge founder Michael Roizen – they wrote several successful YOU books together – but Roizen isn’t nearly as photogenic and has faded into media oblivion.

Since then Oz has gotten deeper into what some call alternative medicine and others call quackery. At what seemed to be a damning moment, he was criticized by Senator Claire McCaskill during a committee hearing (video) because of his weight loss claims. He survived, however.

Anyway, ten other medical doctors cosigned a letter by one Henry Miller (no, not that one) to the effect that Dr Oz was giving the medical profession an even worse name than Jim Cramer gave screaming tv market analysts.

I am writing to you on behalf of myself and the undersigned colleagues below, all of whom are distinguished physicians.

We are surprised and dismayed that Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons would permit Dr. Mehmet Oz to occupy a faculty appointment, let alone a senior administrative position in the Department of Surgery.

As described here and here, as well as in other publications, Dr. Oz has repeatedly shown disdain for science and for evidence-based medicine, as well as baseless and relentless opposition to the genetic engineering of food crops. Worst of all, he has manifested an egregious lack of integrity by promoting quack treatments and cures in the interest of personal financial gain.

Thus, Dr. Oz is guilty of either outrageous conflicts of interest or flawed judgements about what constitutes appropriate medical treatments, or both. Whatever the nature of his pathology, members of the public are being misled and endangered, which makes Dr. Oz’s presence on the faculty of a prestigious medical institution unacceptable.

To that first line I would have added, “especially me.”

As discussed on Respectful Insolence at Science Blogs, many of the undersignatories had dubious claims to being pure scientists themselves. Some were climate change deniers, others seemed to be in the pocket of industry.

Now it seems that it all comes down, again, to the struggle over Genetically Modified Organisms.

In, A publicity stunt against Dr. Oz threatens to backfire spectacularly, Orac notes that among his many offenses, Dr Oz thinks GMOs are not harmful but should be labeled.

Dr. Miller is a huge booster of GMOs, having served as the founding director of the FDA Office of Biotechnology, and you can bet that it didn’t pass unnoticed that what provoked Miller to write his letter was not so much Dr. Oz’s promotion of quackery but rather a specific fear mongering segment on The Dr. Oz Show about GMOs, in particular the non-browning apple.

I’ve noticed that questioning GMOs is frowned upon in science. Even Bill Nye, America’s favorite science guy (not counting Bob Newhart) took a lot of flak on science forums because he had expressed some skepticism about GMOs on his old Eyes of Nye show. (Nye recently recanted and has become a fan of GMOs so all is well with the force.)

Anyway Orac is really worried that this will reflect badly on GMOs. I’m no fan of Oz or GMOs, but it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

Will Renewables Be The Next Bubble?

There has been a lot of positive press for renewable energy lately, but despite international conferences and resolutions about greenhouse gas emissions leading to climate change, about 90% of the energy the world uses is still the result of burning some fossilized sink of carbon, whether coal, petroleum or natural gas. With petroleum I include tar sands bitumen which the Canadians cook to make synthetic oil.

As they have begun turning to oil and natural gas, China’s coal consumption and production fell by 3% last year, but they still burned almost four million short tons, four times as much coal as the US. In the US we still produce 40% of our electricity with coal, “clean” or otherwise. India burns slightly less than the US, but it is often dirtier, low grade coal. Russia and Germany each burn less than a third than the US. Germany has quite a bit of wind and photovoltaic (PV) solar installed and probably leads the world in passive solar, but were also relying heavily on nuclear plants until the Fukushima Daichi failure. They then closed their nuclear plants and returned to coal, but even Japan is considering giving nuclear another go. Hardly any African nations burn much coal except South Africa which burns about 200,000 short tons. Australia burns less than SA and sells a lot to China. South Korea burns slightly less than Oz.  Canada burns relatively little coal, but after processing tar sands into dilbit, sells its dirty pet coke byproducts across North and South America where they are burned like coal. Coal is nasty stuff, and more deadly in the short term than nuclear, but we’ll probably have to see a lot more devastating climate events before we give it up.

Fracking is slowly being revealed as a financial bubble, but even with the boomlet, the US is still a net importer of oil. Canada exports its diluted bitumen (dilbit) to Asia, and wants to use the XL Keystone pipeline to move it instead of railway cars. Indonesia generates its electricity with oil. It used to export oil, now it is a net importer. Pakistan relies on Saudi oil, and Saudi debt forgiveness, for electricity, but experiences load-shedding so often that it has become a regular part of life.

The US has replaced many of its coal-fired electrical plants with cleaner natural gas plants. Russia sells natural gas throughout Europe. Canada uses natural gas to process its tar sands. But though it burns cleaner than oil, natural gas is not a renewable resource, and the output from gas wells can decline very quickly with little warning.

Despite the gloomy prospects for carbon fuel, a Deutsche Bank report notes that the Solar Investment Tax Credit drops from 30% to 10% in 2017, and new subsidies for renewables seem unlikely in an election season. Nevertheless, many media outlets, like Clean Technica, are quoting that study’s claim that the world will achieve “grid parity” by 2030 as evidence that we can smoothly transition from a world burning carbon to a world run with energy from renewable sources – meaning the sun, wind, trees and flowing water.

Deutsche Bank Predicts Solar Grid Parity In 80% Of Global Market By 2017

Investment bank Deutsche Bank is predicting that solar systems will be at grid parity in up to 80 per cent of the global market within 2 years, and says the collapse in the oil price will do little to slow down the solar juggernaut.

In his 2015 solar outlook, leading analyst Vishal Shah says solar will be at grid parity in most of the world by the end of 2017. That’s because grid-based electricity prices are rising across the world, and solar costs are still falling. Shah predicts solar module costs will fall another 40 per cent over the next four to five years.

Even if electricity prices remain stable – two thirds of the world will find solar to be cheaper than their current conventional energy supply. If electricity costs rise by around 3 per cent a year, then Deutsche’s “Blue sky” scenario is for 80 per cent of countries to be at grid parity for solar.

“We believe the trend is clear: grid parity without subsidies is already here, increasing parity will occur, and solar penetration rates are set to ramp worldwide,” Shah notes.

The technical definition of grid parity is when you can generate your own power, “at a levelized cost of electricity (LCoE) that is less than or equal to the price of purchasing power from the electricity grid.” That would seem to indicate that powering one’s home or small business with PV would make financial sense.

The reality of grid parity is less compelling. For example, Australia achieved grid parity in 2012, but less than two percent of their electricity is generated by solar energy. The electrical demand curve of a house or business is vastly different than the supply curve of an array of panels. The difference means that either each user only use electricity when the sun shines, store a great deal of power in a great many batteries for dark and stormy nights, or draw power from the wind and natural gas-fired grid when necessary.

As noted in the Washington Post, utilities are not excited about their delivery interface getting more complicated.

Electric utilities appear poorly equipped for how technology will transform the energy industry. For years there hasn’t been an incentive to innovate, in part due to a lack of competition. Plus, making their product cheaper means less revenue, so why innovate?

I’ve been reading about battles between early solar adopters and their local electrical utilities since the 1970s. It may be a tall tale, but back then I was told that one Western US utility expected to be paid for any electricity generated in the state, even if you were off the grid. I am still running across articles about disputes, but it seems that sometimes a developer or panel vendor can actually strike a deal with the local power company where the homeowner both generates power and uses the grid.

As an aside, we have no solar panels, but we just got an offer from Penelec to, “insure” the outside power lines for some amount of money per month. “Be a shame if something were to happen to our line where it runs across your property.”

Batteries are getting better, and cheaper, but don’t last forever. Elon Musk and others are trying to invest billions to advance the technology for Electric Vehicles (EVs), and that may cross over to home batteries. Hence we see the idea of using your EV battery array as a storage unit for your home’s solar panels.

What is likely to happen? Over time, electricity will become much more expensive and more intermittent. People will adapt their schedules to the vagaries of the power grid, as they do in Pakistan now. I see rich people investing in solar arrays, inverters and battery arrays, as they do in Pakistan now, to stay up late and get through the downtime. Even though many condensers are natural gas-fired, I can’t see how forcing cold air through buildings the way we do now can continue on a renewable grid. Perhaps office dwellers will rediscover operable windows.

As far as transportation, wealthy people are already transitioning from gasoline to battery and fuel cell personal vehicles. Some middle class people are already driving smaller cars, hybrids and motorcycles, but the big tree falling will be when American pickup truck sales decline. Electric assist bikes are very popular in Asia, and will catch on elsewhere, but dirty two-stroke motor scooters are still faster and cheaper.

I can see more people accepting EVs. I already see buses with fuel cells. I have a hard time seeing industrial farm vehicles, which run all day, running on batteries or fuel cells instead of diesel. I can see construction workers switching their handheld tools from air compressors to batteries, but I can’t see battery-powered dump trucks and concrete mixers putting in a full day. I can see street lights being replaced by larger versions of those lawn lights with the little PV panel and rechargeable battery. In Pakistan now, manufacturers simply can’t run their textile machines during load shedding, so I expect there will be a series of ideas floated to solve that problem elsewhere, many of which will fail.

I’ve written about it before, but I’m still thinking back to a Harper’s article from 2008, The Next Bubble. That bubble was to be in renewables, or Cleantech:

There is one industry that fits the bill: alternative energy, the development of more energy-efficient products, along with viable alternatives to oil, including wind, solar, and geothermal power, along with the use of nuclear energy to produce sustainable oil substitutes, such as liquefied hydrogen from water. … Other ventures … are funding an array of startups working on improvements to solar cells, to biofuels production, to batteries, to “energy management” software, and so on.

… The Energy Policy Act of 2005, a massive bill known to morning commuters for extending daylight savings time, contained provisions guaranteeing loans for alternative-energy businesses, including nuclear-power technology. The bill authorizes $200 million annually for clean-coal initiatives, repeals the current 160-acre cap on coal leases, offers subsidies for wind energy and other alternative-energy producers, and promises $50 million annually, over the life of the bill, for a biomass grant program. …

There certainly has been a great expansion of renewable energy, but it hasn’t had the sheen and bluster of a bubble. Here and there, wind turbine ‘farms’ are built and subsidized by tax credits. Sometimes they stop turning when the credits dry up. Photovoltaic solar panels suddenly became more efficient, but local manufacturers were undercut by cheaper products from China, and concerns were raised about PV waste. Molycorp reopened an old mine, and attempted to break the Chinese stranglehold on rare earths, but as recently reported on 60 Minutes, has yet to turn a profit.

Supporting this alternative-energy bubble will be a boom in infrastructure—transportation and communications systems, water, and power.

Harper’s missed the call on US infrastructure. Although the media regularly raises alarms about rusting bridges, and despite President Obama championing infrastructure spending, federal, state and local governments are still reactive rather than proactive. Harper’s also missed that the next bubble was actually in unconventional energy sources like fracking and tight oil and tar sands, but they may be on the verge of being right about the next, next bubble:

… the gross market value of all enterprises needed to develop hydroelectric power, geothermal energy, nuclear energy, wind farms, solar power, and hydrogen-powered fuel-cell technology—and the infrastructure to support it—is somewhere between $2 trillion and $4 trillion; assuming the bubble can get started, the hyperinflated fictitious value could add another $12 trillion. In a hyperinflation, infrastructure upgrades will accelerate, with plenty of opportunity for big government contractors fleeing the declining market in Iraq. Thus, we can expect to see the creation of another $8 trillion in fictitious value, which gives us an estimate of $20 trillion in speculative wealth, money that inevitably will be employed to increase share prices rather than to deliver “energy security.” When the bubble finally bursts, we will be left to mop up after yet another devastated industry. …

Will Harper’s be correct? Or can we adopt aspects of renewable energy with careful consideration rather than believing the hype that we can continue to live a non-renewable lifestyle using renewable energy sources? It does seem clear that the financial industry knows that their customers are not going to be satisfied with slow steady returns. That’s why we see Deutsche Bank hyping grid parity into a done deal on renewable energy.

A Case of Real Bad Knees

I’ve been biking and and swimming for as long as I can remember, and running since my twenties, but it has only been in the last few years that I have felt any pain in the knees. Aging may be a contributing factor. Another may be that I essentially stop running when I’m biking a lot. Or it may be the bike.

For the last several years I’ve been riding to and from work – about ten miles each way – several days a week. My early route involved several steep hills. I initially managed with no pain, but after a few years, I was finding it painful to climb the stairs at work after riding.

Last summer I switched to a less hilly, slightly longer route, which helped. I also switched from a single 53-tooth chainring to a 50 and 40 in front, which helped in climbing hills. I’ve also tried to be diligent about not pushing big gears. But I still had some pain.

A lot of articles on knee pain advised that pedaling with your legs too straight or too bent can put too much pressure on the joint. Other articles claimed that cycling itself over-exercised some leg muscles which then overwhelm other leg muscles and hurt the knee. This Active article is typical of those:

The VMO, or vastus medialis oblique, is the teardrop quadriceps muscle that runs along the inside of the thigh down towards the knee. In cycling, the vastus lateralis (quadriceps muscle on the outside of the thigh) often becomes overdeveloped, resulting in a muscular imbalance. The overpowering of the vastus lateralis can make the kneecap track too much towards the outside of the femur during pedaling, which in turn wears away the cartilage and causes pain.

And here’s another from Bike Radar:

Those ‘large muscles of the thigh’ can get very large with regular two-wheeled activity, and this is where problems start.

The normal movements of the knee are finely balanced, and with different muscle groups pulling at the patella from slightly different angles, it doesn’t take much to upset things. Add to this tight muscles restricting normal motion, varying saddle heights and feet firmly planted in angled cleats, and it’s amazing we don’t all cycle with fixed grimaces.

I ride a Xootr Swift in an upright position. It folds by removing the seat post, so there are two quick release clamps on the post. When you unfold the bike you have to estimate the height of the seat post and clamp it. Despite the two clamps, I have often found that the seat slowly drops as I ride. Tightening the quick release only slows it down a bit.

According to a second Bike Radar article, and many others, pain at the front of the knee is usually blamed on a saddle set too low, or long crank arms, or pushing big gears. Pain behind the knee is rarer, and usually blamed on a saddle set too high, or too far back. Because I was stopping several times to raise it, my saddle may have been too high at times, and too low at times. But the pain feels more anterior than posterior, so I suspected pedaling when the saddle was too low was the problem.

A few months ago I measured the saddle position on my Serotta. All Serottas were custom-fit, so I figured that maintaining the same saddle distance from the crank would be ideal. I set the Swift saddle to 31.5″ from the center of the pedal axle, and added a pipe clamp to keep the seat post from dropping. The last few months were challenging due to a snowy winter and a pulled hamstring, but it seemed that my knees were improving over the last three weeks of riding again.

Sunday night I measured and found that the saddle had migrated two inches lower over the last few weeks. So I set it back to 31.5″. Riding on Monday I felt more power in each leg stroke, but also some twinges of pain, particularly in the back of the left knee. I also felt some discomfort climbing the steps at work. Pain in the back of the knee tells you the saddle is too high, so last night I set the saddle down to 31″. We’ll see how it feels tonight.

Update 20150415: Riding was pain-free with the saddle at 31″, and climbing the steps at work is less painful than yesterday.

Indiana to change name

The Indiana General Assembly has doubled down on the recent religious discrimination law with a joint Senate resolution that will change the state’s official name to Homophobiana.

In addition the bill provides that the Constitution of the State of Indiana guarantees the right of the straight people of Indiana to engage in homophobic practices. Provides that the general assembly may not pass a law that unreasonably abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to refuse to employ homosexual or transgendered workers, or anyone that owns a small doggie named, or frequently called, Precious. Provides that no business is required to transact business with any homosexual or transgendered workers, or anyone that has ever watched more than three episodes of Ellen DeGeneres in one calendar week. Provides that the new constitutional provision does not modify any: (1) provision of the common law; (2) statute relating to trespass or eminent domain; or (3) other property right, existing or previously enacted statute, or existing or previously adopted administrative rule.