My Kitchen, My Choice

The Gas Stove Story

The American public is being prepped for possible action by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission who say they are reviewing possible health hazards posed by gas stoves and will likely take action to regulate the appliances at some point in the future.

Oddly enough, Canada isn’t jumping on that bandwagon yet, but… early days…

Are Gas Stoves Really Responsible for 12.7% of Current Childhood Asthma Cases in the US?

Recently there have been stories about the risk of childhood asthma caused by natural gas stoves. It has been suggested that this news was one ‘trial balloon’ to influence public opinion on gas stoves.

Pushback about the validity of the Gruenwald Asthma-Gas Stove Research paper came from independent sources such as this:

… the Gruenwald et al paper seems to have some clear challenges that would typically preclude it from consideration in a policy-making process. Its underlying data is of low statistical power. Its conclusion is directly contradicted by more recent studies with significantly greater statistical power and it relies on a statistical tool that is considered invalid in situations with confounding variables yet it is being used to analyze an association that is absolutely rife with confounding variables.
– Blair King, Professional Chemist, Analysis January 12, 2023

How Much Pollution?

Stanford Researchers estimate, (based on a study of 53 California homes) that  methane leaking from natural gas-burning stoves inside an estimated 40 million U.S. homes has an annual climate impact comparable to the annual carbon dioxide emissions from about 500,000 gasoline powered cars.

This suggests one stove releases emissions equivalent to .0125 gasoline-powered cars.

To put this into perspective, The U.S. Department of Energy has calculated the annual well to wheels emissions for vehicles (they used an average driving distance of 11,579 miles per year.). An All Electric vehicle emits 2817 pounds of CO2 equivalent. A gasoline vehicle emits 12594 pounds of CO2 equivalent.

By extension then, a stove would emit 157 pounds a year, though that doesn’t include emissions from manufacture, etc. Put another way – each year a gas stove releases the equivalent emissions of driving a gasoline car about  144 miles.

In response to the possibility of any mandated ‘mitigation’ strategies, this comment appeared on Twitter a few days ago: “My kitchen, my choice”. I thought this variation of “My body, my choice”  was quite funny and apropos!

“…we currently live in a political climate that prioritizes grand symbolic gestures without regard to unintended consequences or even whether they will achieve their purported goal.
– Tristan Hopper, National Post: You want to ban me? A gas stove makes its case

The Babylon Bee, a satirical news site, offered this story:  “Biden Calls for Two Weeks of Not Cooking on Gas Stoves to Flatten the Curve”.

Other Reading:

Steve Everley, Managing Director in FTI Consulting’s Energy & Natural Resources, Current Research

Time: The Best Stove for Your Health and the Environment
Gas-Stoving America
Do Gas Stoves Cause Childhood Asthma

Data Sources:
U.S. Department of Energy Emissions from Electric Vehicles
U.S. Department of Energy Alternative Fuels Data
Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment Climate and Health Impacts Natural Gas Stoves
Study on Natural Gas Stove Emissions in 53 Homes

Algorithms and Victor Hood – What’s That All About?

The newly published author, Victor A. Hood, is better known to followers of his blog as Al Hood. His work can be found at:  The Cvillean – The adventures of little read writing Hood.

Al recently published an autobiography, “So, That’s What It’s All About, Alfie!” I wanted to purchase it. I knew it was being sold by Amazon,  but wondered if it would show up in a ‘Google’ search. I started with the author’s name and the name of the book. The search engine came back with  some books, including ones about Robin Hood, some obits, a type of range hood… but not what I was looking for.

Next I went to Amazon.com and looked in the book section for “So, That’s What It’s All About, Alfie!” Amazon told me I had used too many words, so they showed me 2000 results for a search for the words ‘so thats all’. Al’s book was fifth in the results. The first four books were about preaching, teacher leadership and sex education for youth.

I then tried searching in Amazon for Victor A. Hood. While Al’s book did come up on the top of this list, Amazon asked me if I meant to search for Victoria Hood. That was an interesting suggestion because in Al’s book, he noted that his mother had hoped he would be a girl. She had already picked out a name: Victoria.

Searching and Algorithms – What’s that all about?
The results we see when we search for anything is decided by an algorithm. This is a set of instructions with certain conditions that will deliver a pre-defined result. The people who write these algorithms influence what you are going to see. A Google Spokeswoman unintentionally confirmed this by saying:

We do today what we have done all along, provide relevant results from the most reliable sources available.
– Google Spokeswoman in response to a WSJ article in 2019 –

“The most reliable sources available”  – someone is deciding for you what the reliable sources will be.

Now the Government Wants to Decide What you will See
The Canadian Government has introduced Bill C-10, the internet streaming tax. The primary goal of this bill, as stated by Openmedia.org, is:
… expanding Canada’s Broadcasting Act to apply to all streaming audio or video content on the Internet… In addition to the taxes… C-10 would grant the CRTC the right to set quotas for how much of a streaming platform’s content must be CanCon (Canadian Content), and to require… apps, websites and search results to make CanCon appear more frequently and prominently within the service.

The Canadian Government deciding what you should see. What could possible be wrong with that?!?

For more about Algorithms, click these links to my posts:
Math and Number Quotations
Algorithms – Do They Have a Hidden Agenda?

Skeptics Notebook – Inauguration, Media Bias, Free Speech

Excerpts from three short essays on the lingering divide in America. The President, Joe Biden is calling for national unity – an ideal which his party did not give when President Trump asked for the same thing in 2016.

The American Inauguration

We have refused to unify around the most basic of things, like America being basically good, respect for the flag and the national anthem, two genders and the use of personal pronouns…

Today is inauguration day for a new president… Is anyone going to put their hand over their heart? Is that a hostile move right now? And if they do it for this particular president (and this particular inauguration), will they for the next one they might disagree with? Or will we be treated to another national berating about our flawed founding and how we’re all children of a huge crime, who will never find redemption?

But there won’t be national unity, today. Not by a long shot. And I’ll tell you why …

America is like a married couple who have said too many horrible things to each other and now can’t reconcile. We can’t just put on the tux and little black dress and be cordial at cocktail parties anymore. We can’t even fake smile at each other. We said the things you never say. We went there. We left no insult unturned. We simply know too much about what we all think, now.
– Regie Hamm – UNITY?

Media Bias

After all, American needs unity! And that unity can only be provided by the same people who have wrecked all pretense of institutional objectivity in the pursuit of partisan outcomes.
People will continue to seek information from alternative sources, of course. But that will only provoke the media to seek new methods of repressing those alternatives. As it turns out, the commitment of many in our media isn’t to truth or facts. It’s to monopolistic control.
– Ben Shapiro, Get Ready for 4 Years of Media Sycophancy


Censorship and the Loss of Free Speech for Everyone

The way forward is difficult, and hugely complicated by a crisis of credibility. Lots of worried Americans, including many who don’t support Trump, have lost their faith in the institutions we rely on to tell us the truth – most notably, the mainstream media. This has been the case for some time, but now it feels different. Now, the patina of fake news has covered everything with a sheen of doubt and suspicion. Politics, science, law, medicine, academia…experts from every discipline are subject to new levels of skepticism, in part, because those experts hold forth on platforms that are no longer credible to half the country.

How many friends do you have who dismiss anything they hear on FOX, simply because it’s on FOX? Likewise, CNN? I have many. That’s why we can’t blame millions of Americans for dismissing the academic studies that contradict their belief that racism in law enforcement is systemic; they simply don’t trust the studies. Nor can we blame millions of other Americans for dismissing the findings of multiple courts who say the election wasn’t fraudulent; they simply don’t trust the courts. This level of mistrust is the real enemy, and I’m afraid it’s about to get a lot worse.

But I can promise you that banishing people from platforms, or banishing platforms from people, or deliberately cutting off the way millions of people communicate is not the way forward.
– Mike Rowe, I’ve Been Struggling to Get My Head Around What’s Happening in Our Country

Bias in Journalism … Truth Decay

Ever had one of those ‘eureka moments’ where you come across a previously unknown, or perhaps once known but now forgotten, piece of information that explains one of those ‘how on earth did we get here’ observations?

Example: how did we (and I can only speak for Canada and the USA) get to a place where balanced, unopinionated news is now (often) very biased journalism? Part of the answer, according to the video below (and numerous stories on the internet) was the introduction, in 2008, of Accountability Journalism.

Accountability Journalism was the brainchild (or perhaps given a voice by) Associated Press Bureau Chief, Ron Fournier. Mr. Fournier believed that the conventional press model – where both sides of an argument are entitled to equal weight – was no longer needed in journalism. In it’s place, he gave free reign to first-person emotive language in news reporting. Previously, this had been reserved for opinion editorials. He gave the journalist the power to decide what was factual and fair and whether or not to include an opposing opinion.

Is this a slippery slope where journalism becomes not an outlet for news, but becomes an interpretation of said news?
– Susan Duclos, Digital Journal, July 2008 –

Ten years later, the answer to the slippery slope question is ‘yes’:

Journalism in the U.S. has become more subjective and consists less of the detailed event- or context-based reporting that used to characterize news coverage.
– ‘Truth Decay,’ RAND –

Of course, the situation seems worse than it is if you consider there are roughly 12000 journalists in Canada and 33000 in the United States. The wackadoodle reporters are just the most visible.

Who tops your list of Journalists you trust the least? Who do you trust the most?

Opinion Dressed Up in ‘News’ Clothes – Steven Pinker (Video)

The QuipperyWhat we used to call the ‘News‘ isn’t really news anymore, is it!? Often it is simply ‘Opinion‘ dressed up in its ‘news’ clothes… and there is so much of it. It is hard not to be overwhelmed with the volume of information that you might have to digest in order to make a decision about something.

This is why people switch to the default mode –  ‘Confirmation Bias’. It makes life so much simpler. You can simply choose to read opinions that support what you’ve come to believe, and ignore the rest.

Terry Pratchett calls this type of ‘news’ – ‘olds’:

In short, what people think they want is news, but what they really crave is olds… Not news but olds, telling people that what they think they already know is true.
– Terry Pratchett; from the novel The Truth –

Are you Stuck in the Olds?

There is a wealth of information on the internet that can help you to explore fact based arguments that might take you beyond where your bias has parked you. Unfortunately, you have to dig pretty deep sometimes to find the information that supports a narrative that opposes the politically ‘correct’ arguments of the day.

The News is Worse but the World is Better

In the video that follows, Steven Pinker, Author and Harvard Professor discusses the basic paradox – news today seems worse than ever – but based on a number of key metrics, the world is better than it’s ever been. Pinker explores the data and makes the case for how can we tackle the world’s problems while not drowning in negativity.

Let’s explore bias.

What controversial issue do you feel strongly about? Would you be willing to seek out information that contrasted with your belief?

 

Not all Knowledge Comes from College – Mike Rowe, Ben Shapiro (Video)

Mike Rowe is perhaps the most down to earth, profoundly intelligent, practical person in the world. Yes, in the whole world.  This is his bio: About Mike.

In this video, Mike Rowe talks to Ben Shapiro about many things, including the skills gap that exists because young people are being educated for jobs that don’t exist while the jobs that are available go unfilled. (Don’t get upset because Ben inserts advertising – someone has to pay so you can watch this!)

We’ve become slowly and inexorably and profoundly disconnected from a lot of very basic things that, when I grew up, I was really connected to – like where my food comes from, where my energy comes from, basic history, basic curiosity, you know? The things that fundamentally allow us to assume a level of appreciation that, in my view, is the best way to bridge those gaps.

… if we don’t have appreciation… If we’re not blown away by the miracle that occurs when we flick the switch and the lights come on; if we’re not gobsmacked by flushing the toilet and seeing all of it go away; when we start losing our appreciation for those things, the gap deepens. And I think the gap right now is extraordinary.
– Mike Rowe –

The Revival of Conversation – Peterson, Shapiro, Rubin (Video)

Jordan Peterson (Canadian clinical psychologist and educator) and Ben Shapiro (American Jewish conservative) join Dave Rubin (American gay libertarian) for a discussion about postmodernism, religion, free speech, and rules for life.

Two of the most well-spoken advocates for freedom and responsibility take the stage on one of the best free thinking forums today. The individual versus the state, religion, gender politics, and the art of the conversation.
– The Libertarian Catholic –

In an era of goldfish-level attention spans, Rubin hosts a talk show featuring two or three people, seated in chairs, who discuss politics or society or religion for about an hour, often longer. It’s his solution to a societal trend he considers harmful to free speech.

Rubin, Shapiro and Peterson: If these three men were NFL players, their rookie cards would be worth a fortune. They aren’t quite household names, but you get the sense they will be, and anyone who’s attuned to the new media landscape knows how consequential they are.
– Kevin Ryan –

Palm Trees and Sunrises

Sunrise with contrails – a Radiance filter
Sunrise with a filter called Cave Dweller
Sunrise with a Cartoon filter
Sunrise with HDR, Contrast and Dehaze filters
Palm fronds – an impasto filter

All filters are available in a program called Topaz Studio.

This post was for the old WordPress.com photo Challenge Lines.

Utah – Balance Rock: WordPress.com Upsets the Balance

As of the end of this month (and 2,000 Daily Prompts, 380 Photo Challenges, 260 Community Pools, and 100 First Fridays later), we will no longer publish new posts, prompts, or challenges on this site.
– Ben Huberman, WordPress.com The Daily Post –

As you can see from the announcement above, WordPress Prompts and Photo Challenges will soon be a thing of the past. It isn’t the first time that WordPress has suddenly discontinued a feature that many bloggers faithfully use and enjoy.

I’ve been submitting photos to the Photo Challenges for almost 8 years. Polite words can’t express my disappointment that they have decided to terminate access to our community of photographers.

As a replacement, WordPress suggests that bloggers try this: post a photo (any topic you feel like) and tag it with ‘photo challenge’. Then, open your WordPress Reader and type ‘photo challenge’ in the search bar…  Really – you think that makes it a challenge? Nope –  it’s just a bunch of posts with photos.

WordPress, you remind me of this rock (Balance Rock) in Arches National Park in Utah. The disconnect between your head and our body is quite obvious. It isn’t good for the balance of either of us…

As for Photo Challenges, I’m using that tag on this photo. If this was a real photo challenge, what would you suggest as a theme?