Archive for June, 2011

Corny Numbers

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

The tide may be shifting against ethanol.

The government subsidizes corn ethanol to the tune of $6 Billion every year. (That’s 6,000 million dollars for the mathmatically challenged, or about 25 bucks per year for every man, woman, and child in America) For this subsidy, we get:

-More expensive food (since corn is diverted away from food production and towards energy production)
-“Gasoline” that eats away at rubber and brass parts on older cars
-Worse fuel economy than with non-ethanol-infused fuel

On top of that, it actually consumes the equivalent of about a gallon of gasoline to produce a gallon of ethanol. (Whereas you can get about 30 gallons of gasoline into your tank for 1 gallon of equivalent energy usage)

I realize that, in the process of chasing the elusive goals of energy independence and reduced fossil fuel consumption and “green” (blec) power, there are going to be obstacles, hurdles, dead-ends, etc. along the way. The trick will be recognizing when you’ve hit a technological dead end, and cutting bait before too much harm has been done. For ethanol, I think, the time has come to cut bait.

Screw cheap gas. I’m tired of paying $3/ lb for bacon.


Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Despite being colder than an Eskimo’s backside, the city of Minneapolis is considered the bicycling capital of America. And with projects like this, it’s easy to see why. A self-service bike repair kiosk, complete with repair stand and a vending machine stocked with tubes and other handy parts, has been installed on the main bike path through the city.

What an awesome idea. Hopefully Buffalo is paying attention. Oh, who am I kidding – we’re barely on the verge of breakthroughs like “bike lanes” and “motorists might be legally barred from running over cyclists”.

The Larger Point Here…

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

So there’s been this outcry lately over a 95 year old wheelchair-bound woman who may, or may not have, been ordered to remove her adult diaper when subject to a TSA screening. Something about her daughter missing the flight, and her having to travel alone…blah blah blah, she was flying home to die in Michigan…and now calls for TSA officials to resign

Look. This is what was going to happen all along. Civil liberties groups and everyone else saying what an atrocity this is aren’t seeing the bigger picture. We’ve established the TSA, told them its their job to make us safe, and that under no circumstances should they discriminate against anyone. So whether they pick a 40 year old businessman or a 95 year old wheelchair woman for “expanded scrutineering” or whatever the heck it is they call it these days, it shouldn’t matter, right? Her number was up, she had to deal with it. No bigotry, baby. What you do unto one passenger, you do unto ’em all.  And boy, have we all been done unto.

And this is why the terrorists have won.

Hurt Locker

Monday, June 20th, 2011

Some of you may have heard about the class action lawsuit the MPAA filed against 100,000+ downloaders of the arguably horrendous film, Hurt Locker. Frankly, the lawsuit itself bothered me- I’ve never used bittorrent, and don’t illegally download music or movies, but the whole concept of a reverse class action lawsuit -where a single plantiff sues multiple defendants- seems wrong.

Now, at least according to the Piracy network, the lawsuit’s been dropped. Anyone else heard about this? What about all the people who paid up on the MPAA’s extortionary letters that were sent out?

Happy 40th Birthday!

Friday, June 17th, 2011

Today is the 40th anniversary of Richard Nixon’s “War on Drugs”. Much like all the other “wars” we’ve waged in the past half-century, on everything from poverty to terror, this one has been an absolute, unqualified, raging success. I mean, drugs have been completely obliterated from the landscape, schoolchildren frolic freely in the streets, and every criminal who’s ever even touched a doobie is now safely penned up behind bars for ever and ever. Right?

When the police themselves are saying the War on Drugs might need a reboot, maybe you ought to listen.

“”Since President Nixon declared ‘war on drugs’ four decades ago, this failed policy has led to millions of arrests, a trillion dollars spent and countless lives lost, yet drugs today are more available than ever,” said Norm Stamper, former chief of police in Seattle and a speaker for legalization-advocacy group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.”

“More available than ever”. Yup, that sounds like it was a worthwhile expenditure of MY hard-earned tax money. Yup. 

Now, let’s imagine a world where this little excercise in futility was never adopted…your ideas on how the last 40 years might have played out differently if the War on Drugs had never been waged, in the comments below.

Happy Bloomsday

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

The Irish will make up any excuse to have a party. From our pals at the ‘pedia:

“Bloomsday is a commemoration observed annually on June 16th in Dublin and elsewhere to celebrate the life of Irish writer James Joyce and relive the events in his novel Ulysses, all of which took place on the same day in Dublin in 1904. Joyce chose the date because his first outing with his wife-to-be, Nora Barnacle happened on that day, when they walked to the Dublin urban village of Ringsend. The name derives from Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of Ulysses.”

Now to find a pub in Greenville that celebrates this very official and completely legitimate holiday…

Cardboard Helmets

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Bicycle helmets could be getting a makeover. A design student noted that polystyrene distributes the impact energy of a crash across the entire skull, which while better than the alternative still does not reduce the damage. Turns out corrugated cardboard can deal with 4 times the impact of polystyrene, reducing that much energy transferring onto your skull.

Helmets protect your head only 16% of the times during a crash and have been giving us the false implication of safety. Emphasis this day is given to styling and aerodynamics. However, polystyrene does little to absorb impact energy but distributes it over the head. Since the past twenty years improvements have been made in the fields of aerodynamics and styling. However while cycling through a busy city at an average speed of 12mph, safety is more important than aerodynamics.

So while a cardboard helmet may not impress the girls or help you win the races, it’ll do a better job doing its job. You know…the whole reason bike helmets were invented in the first place.


Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Oh how I love what I find on thee, Craigslist!

$5900! What a steal!

Light Off…Lights On!

Friday, June 10th, 2011

When the weather gets hot here in early summer, the humid, scorching air is a ripe breeding ground for pop-up thunderstorms. They’ve been forecasting them for about the past 2 weeks, and finally last night we had a deluge hit the house. It poured and boomed and hailed and Zeus his’self shot lightning bolts down out of the sky. It was pretty impressive.

As a result of this, the electric went out.

I called the number on my power bill from Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative and was directed to an automated outage reporting center, which asked for my account number. I typed it in, hung up, and played on the laptop for about an hour until the lights flickered back on.

About 5 minutes later, my phone rang. It was an automated return call from Blue Ridge Power, asking me to press ‘1’ if my power had been restored. This is something I’ve never heard of before, and I thought it was pretty cool. Good service, especially for a rural southern electric co-op.


Thursday, June 9th, 2011

I love Neon. Its got a cool sounding name. Just say it out loud. “Neon”. It sounds so…futuristic. Plus, its got an atomic number of 10. And, it makes cool signs. Just check out this Bowling Alley sign- probably my favorite ever:

Just seeing that sign makes me want to strap on some multicolored rental shoes, grab my 14 pounder, and go hoist some cold ones.