26 January 2008

More Recycling

There's an interesting piece of photo-journalism over at Wired about a sewage treatment plant in the OC (yes, affluent California) that cranks out drinking water from sewage.

Orange County has implemented a $480 million microfiltration system so advanced it can turn waste water into drinking water. The Groundwater Replenishment System, which started pumping purified water on Jan. 10th, is the largest of its kind in the world and will provide water to more than 100,000 Orange County families for the same or less than buying it wholesale.

If this is accurate information, then the price tag for each family is around $5 to build one of these plants. Sounds pretty reasonable to me.

still think gubmint is there for you?

NYC is considering a ban on the detection of toxins. wtf?!!!1! did i read that right? the underlying argument is that the city will be crippled by fear resulting from false positives, none of which have materialized, though even air quality measuring devices would be subject to the same rules. so Giuliani and his ilk make their name by fear-mongering and when people react, they're the bad guys. this is a classic example of a monopoly on regulation and protection. it tends to be illegal when the mafia does it, but it's only righteous when gubmint does it.

probably the worst consequence of such a ban would be the limitations placed on watchdog groups that could monitor air quality and other factors that effect millions in NYC every day.

if you're in trouble, whether you're being raped or poisoned, just sit tight and wait for the cops to help you. they are monitoring you with the cameras they've placed in your home so they know what's going on.

24 January 2008

the ├╝bernannies

a new version of the three little pigs story has been rejected by an awards committee due to its controversial content: pigs.

The feedback from the judges explaining why they had rejected the CD-Rom highlighted that they "could not recommend this product to the Muslim community".

They also warned that the story might "alienate parts of the workforce (building trade)".

The judges criticised the stereotyping in the story of the unfortunate pigs: "Is it true that all builders are cowboys, builders get their work blown down, and builders are like pigs?"

i really can't believe i live in these times.

liberal facism?

i've said it before: don't call people nazis to win an argument. Jonah Goldberg made the mistake with his new book, Liberal Facism: yada yada yada. he's causing people to close their minds to his message before even hearing it. so what ends up happening is that the only people who read the book are already those on board with his philosophy.

Freedom of the (American) Press

Apparently Donald Rumsfeld didn't disintegrate and blow away when he left the White House, as I had always imagined. He's apparently still alive and kicking... sand in the Iraqi's faces.

According to this article at Wired, Rummy doesn't think that the free press does a good enough job transmitting propaganda to the Iraqi people, and that the US gubmint needs to create an organization to do it properly. I'm sure he'd call for the same action towards the US free press, except the White House already does their best to corrupt our news sources as it is.

21 January 2008

recycling screed

I was just thinking that the recycling movement came out of the 60's,
when people started realizing how much pollution was being kicked out.
It was able to take off because it also fed on the idea that
irreplaceable trees were dying so we could fill landfills with them.
I see Recycling as the end product of a campaign to stop pollution and
save the trees.

Nowadays, however, I'm of the opinion that trees are a renewable
resource, as long as the methods and the scale of lumber operations
are restricted.

So that leaves us with the desire to stop pollution. And it has never
been addressed. Why? Because the people who are responsible for
pollution are not being made to pay for it - the companies that make
the polluting goods or packaging. That's step number one to reduce
pollution and stop needless recycling efforts.

Step number two is to repurpose as much of our waste as possible.
Recycling costs money to process. Repurposing much less so. And this
is where our habits would really have to change. Why recycle bottles
when we could merely re-use our existing bottles? I buy glass gallon
growlers of beer from my local brew pub. When I'm done, I take the
growler back to them, and get another one, filled up, for $4 cheaper.
I've paid a one-time $4 fee for a bottle that I can keep re-using. It
doesn't get tossed in the landfill at all. And it doesn't get
recycled until it's actually broken. If we could convince people to
adopt this sort of system for other goods, I think it would go a long
way towards reducing pollution AND bringing recycling to manageable
levels.

Essentially, everyone needs to shop at their local co-op, instead of
chain supermarkets. And General Mills (for instance) needs to sell
bulk cereal to grocery stores that can be dispensed with a spigot into
whatever re-usable container the customer wants to use. I think you
see my point.
from the mind of Jessica Hagy

19 January 2008

recycling in the middle of a drought

i've posted before about my skepticism regarding the earth-saving merits of recycling materials that may or may not actually reduce pollution levels. i still recycle everything. which strikes me as odd, since i'm now rinsing bottles and cans with potable water in the middle of the worst drought my area has on record. why rinse? because items might otherwise never be reincarnated, sent instead to the landfill.

so what is preferable? a holier-than-thou recycle-at-all-costs attitude or a more pragmatic approach to recycling that examines the true costs and values? and maybe they can come up with a way to use recycled water to rinse this stuff (like car washes) so we don't waste so much good water.

a matter of respect for other people and their values

three times now we've been stood up by craigslist purchasers looking to pick up our old crib. (note the plurality.) i find that respect for one's neighbors and fellows is seemingly much lower now that in the golden days of my youth. i see it on the road everyday, too: people pull some stupid crazy shit just to get around one car, but putting all the people around them in danger, all for a small payoff.

i see the same behavior in political discourse and policy, too. there's always the idea that it's ok to get ahead at someone else's expense, especially if that someone else is a nebulous group, like drivers or 'the rich' or whomever the bad guys of the day are.

i've been talking about unions with some friends lately, given the writers' strike. why is it good for the country to give benefit to one group of people (union members) at the expense of another (employers or consumers)? why are jobs for a small number of people more important than jobs for others? if someone can do my job just as well (as measured by my employer), why shouldn't my employer be permitted to hire that person instead? what makes me so special that other people have to twist his arm to help me? why should people who buy my company's product be forced to subsidize the higher cost of my ensured wage?

i value letting people move ahead in this world just as much as the next guy. heck, my family had to do it, too. i just don't think it's proper to place the burdern on anyone other than the guy who wants the job.

all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

15 January 2008

who gets gubmint protection?

as Tyler Cowen points out over at the NYT:
There has been plenty of talk about “predatory lending,” but “predatory borrowing” may have been the bigger problem. As much as 70 percent of recent early payment defaults had fraudulent misrepresentations on their original loan applications, according to one recent study. The research was done by BasePoint Analytics, which helps banks and lenders identify fraudulent transactions; the study looked at more than three million loans from 1997 to 2006, with a majority from 2005 to 2006. Applications with misrepresentations were also five times as likely to go into default.
will the lenders who were bilked out of their money get any help from the gubmint? or will unreason prevent them from being seen as victims? i'm not sure i care. maybe they should have done a better job of vetting the applicants. i can say the same for people who overextended themselves, possibly trying to get rich with someone else's money. still, i'd like to see some outcry directed at the assmonkeys who made it more difficult for the rest of us.

14 January 2008

organ donation revisted

i'd like to call out a comment left by Dave that i wanted to get more exposure than a comment generally does, especially via RSS.
Over half of the 98,000 Americans on the national transplant waiting list will die before they get a transplant. Most of these deaths are needless. Americans bury or cremate about 20,000 transplantable organs every year. Over 6,000 of our neighbors suffer and die needlessly every year as a result.

There is a simple way to put a big dent in the organ shortage -- give organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die.

Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. People who aren't willing to share the gift of life should go to the back of the waiting list as long as there is a shortage of organs.

Anyone who wants to donate their organs to others who have agreed to donate theirs can join LifeSharers. LifeSharers is a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at www.lifesharers.org or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition.
thanks, Dave!

13 January 2008

mmm pork pork pork

i signed up for Tom Coburn's gubmint pork spending newsletter and cannot even keep up with it all. in fact, i find it so depressing, i might have to unsubscribe. it's the kind of stuff that kept me from becoming a lefty liberal.

should we believe him?

i've been disturbed by the recent (for me, and i've followed him for years) revelation of Paul's supposed racist views. when talking with Wolf Blitzer, he appears to deny ever having had a racist thought. he also bashes the war on drugs and foreign conflicts (rightly so), both of which have an exaggeratedly negative effect on minorities.



Radley Balko may be able to give voice to my concern:
I have no idea if Paul is a racist. I suspect that he isn't, at least today. But he's certainly had no problem benefiting from the support of people who are. It's more than a little disingenuous for him to now defend himself by invoking what the criminal justice system has done to the black community when for fifteen years a newsletter bearing his name, and the profits from which went into his bank account, celebrated and encouraged the black-people-are-savage-criminals lie in particularly vile and perverse ways.
i'm keeping my finger on the jettison button. what do you think?

update: gotst me a forwarded link to a repudiation of all this mess. very much worth a read.
This only tells me that Ron Paul is a real threat to the political establishment, and they are pulling out all the stops in an attempt to stop the Ron Paul Revolution.
...
If Ron Paul is somehow racist because some racists support him, does that make him a socialist lefty hippy because some far left anti war hippy supports him? Does it make the lefty hippy a racist too, because he supports Ron right along with the skin-head? There are also gay people who support Ron Paul. Does that make Ron gay? Does that make the Nazi guy gay too, or a "gay lover" because he also supports Ron? No, of course not.
i tend to believe him, mostly because all of this seems so out of character for the guy i've followed with interest for years, wishing i lived in Texas at times so i could vote for him.

organ donation

while i'm trying to pull together some thoughts on universal health coverage in order to make more than a few-line post, i thought i'd share something in that vein. i, too, read Graham Glass' post re: opt-in versus opt-out organ donation programs. i think it's a great idea: given preference to those people who are themselves registered organ donors. it might encourage participation, providing an more personal incentive to help others, all without requiring participation. that last point is important to me. we will effectively become meat farms to be parceled out by our political superiors, without regard to our own wishes.

Joe Gregorio thinks NC has an opt-out program, meaning that one has to specify that one doesn't want to donate. i can't think of a policy that is more repulsive than having a gubmint control disposition of the most personal of property: one's body. i am a donor by choice, but i'll be damned if i'll let someone tell me i am required to donate myself to anyone. involuntary servitude, indeed.

please be an organ donor. give a hoot, don't pollute human land-fills or crematoria with organs that could make a difference.

12 January 2008

thermostate: CA

california wants to control consumer energy consumption in order to prevent emergency outages. should they be allowed to wield so much control? i smell a rat, but i'm thinking that it is ultimately up to the CA electorate to make that decision for themselves, as a properly functioning system of gubmint would encourage.

the other side of this coin is the crackdown on CA's desire to set its own emission standards for automobiles. without getting into the merits of that plan, why is the state not permitted to set its own standard? i guess this is yet another power that falls under "provide for the general welfare [of fat cat oligarchs]."

i can only shake my head and heave a sigh as we see the necessary and foreseeable results of an overly strong central gubmint: overreaching powers with no constitutional basis for such authority.

if you care about sick people, you will make sure they can't seek help

Boston Mayor Menino is not alone in opposing low-cost health care (like those who prefer to keep prices artificially high), although his arguments don't make much sense. take this statement:
Allowing retailers to make money off of sick people is wrong.
it would be much better for sick people to die than for someone to make a profit off of them. let's storm the waiting room! in-store clinics are just the tip of the tip of the iceberg when it comes to freeing up regulation that can lead to easier and cheaper access to health care for those who can't afford to grandstand.

fyi: the comments at the linked article are really worth reading. thanks, MJP.

how can we destroy the environment and create jobs at the same time?

prop up the US postal service! FDR would be proud.
"This is an infringement on commerce and an infringement on free speech," DeSarro said.
DeSarro is a USPS spokesman. i find his quote especially hilarious since his organization is necessarily destroying competitive commercial activity that could provide a service like a no-spam-mail list voluntarily.

11 January 2008

Paul v Kucinich

man, wouldn't it be great if, come November, i had to choose between Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich? even though i don't buy K's economic stances, he sure as heck would shake up the government for the better. not only do i think this, but so do others.

why aren't these guys getting a fair shake in the media? why are they portrayed as kooks by "unbiased" news organizations? i have my suspicions.

09 January 2008

gubmint problem solving

it's a good thing Taylor is a much better (and thorough) writer (and thinker) than i am. here he addresses what it really means to leverage The State to solve perceived problems.
That seems to be something many people don't understand anymore, judging by the demand for statist solutions to (in large part) State-created problems. It used to be that if someone realized they had a problem, they first went in search of the cause of the problem before attempting a solution. Now, it seems like no sooner do people discover problems before they start trying to solve them, causes be damned.
i can't really have political debates with people anymore because i get so upset by the willy-nilly application of state coercion to solve problems for the children. in this mindset, there are no fundamental principles protecting people's rights and a complete disavowal of each individual's inherent rights as a human.

07 January 2008

CF bulb attacks child

maybe that's a bit exaggerated, but really important scienticians in the UK have warned that CF bulbs are dangerous. not only do they spill toxic waste into your home when they break, they may also be linked to other problems.
Health experts warned this week that people with certain skin ailments will suffer from the new eco-friendly bulbs which cause conditions such as eczema to flare up. Additionally, the bulbs have been linked to migraine headaches in some people.
let's make sure we ban health problems along with incandescent bulbs. we don't want Big Bulb getting hit with any lawsuits. any way you cut it, using the coercive force of the state to nanny people into good behavior always has positive results!

thanks to alert reader, "Chris," for bringing this threat to our attention.

06 January 2008

thinking of the children...

"think of the children" (or other down-trodden group) is not an argument. it's not even useful rhetoric since it presupposes your opponent believes children should perish. so please please please stop using it to prove your point. it is a non-statement.

quote of the day-or-so

If you think the nanny-state is okay to make the society more fair economically, you use the same force there as you say, well, the conservative comes along, and we say, "Well, we're going to legislate virtue." It's the same issue. And this is what we're trying to put this issue of freedom back together again. It's not two parts of it, economic freedom and personal freedom. There's only one freedom.
Ron Paul, on Bill Moyers Journal

beautiful TDD post

i came across a wonderful statement of what TDD really means. this post points specifically to typemock, which to me is exactly the type of tool i would not recommend for new development. i believe tools like this, while possibly offering a testing foothold into a system reminiscent of Rube Goldberg's vomit, encourage practices that, as the poster put it, "lose one of the major benefits of TDD: the feedback it gives on internal design quality."
If you use unit-testing tools that let you side-step poor dependency management in the design, you lose this valuable source of feedback and, when you find that you do need to address these design issues because you have to modify the production code, it will be much harder to do so. The poor structure will have influenced the design of other parts of the system that rely upon it. The programmers responsible for the change will not understand the code as well as those who wrote it (even if they are the same people). It's far easier to nip these design issues in the bud as you discover them than let them remain to affect the design of the rest of the code.
i've played with plenty of mocking software in .net and java. while typemock is probably better than those (as it does not force you to write test code using strings!), it still encourages tests to know too much about implementation, which hinders change.

04 January 2008

quote of the day-or-so

12. It is a big mistake -- even in rhetoric -- to conflate concern for the poor with comparative egalitarian intuitions. The left ought to turn its back on this mistake, although it would mean losing one of their most effective rhetorical tools.

13. Most people are sincere in their views (even if wrong), and polemic attacks on them signal a weakness of the attacker, not the attackee.

14. The chance that a protectionism will be an economically rational form of protectionism is very low.

Tyler Cowen, "What I think I am nearly certain about"

01 January 2008

A good summary

I probably read a little too much Wired. Oh well. Here's their 2007 year in review. Good stuff, and a lot of it worth re-iterating, lest we forget the travesties of the past and re-enact them.

Good luck to everyone in surviving a presidential election year...