Friday, July 23, 2010

Greenback Party

I'll consider myself a man of modest upbringing. It looks like I'm about to take a job that makes eating and having money incompatible, because I'm afraid of remaining unemployed the rest of the year if I don't. I've always found wealth interesting, and wonder if I'll ever accumulate any. Unfortunately, it appears I'll never make enough money to run as a populist political candidate. $70 million of your own money for your campaign before you get to the primaries? Wow.

This reminds me - Bush was not an 'everyman'. The next Republican presidential candidate will be just as out-of-touch as Obama is. Please don't vote for someone because Scott Brown drives a truck.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Punishing 'Green' States

Following the EPA's release of its design for regulating utility GHGs, the Senate is addressing the issue with renewed gusto. However, increased disbelief in climate change and adamant Republican opposition means a lot needs to happen for this bill to pass (in the end, Republicans would rather give the EPA greater control over utilities than accede to compromise).

So, what does a new bill need to guarantee passage? For starters, lots of giveaways to coal plants and pork to Senators on the fence. Liberal states like New York, Oregon, and California will receive fewer permit giveaways or other forms of financial assistance. Therefore, they will be subsidizing Oklahoma's coal plants after already investing in their own renewable energy and efficiency projects. On top of this, as a general rule you're also talking about the states with higher rates of productivity, ergo higher tax remittances.

Summary: states that pay the most in taxes will be funding pork projects in states that failed to take adequate steps to protect the environment in order to achieve votes necessary to regulate coal plants that will be exempt from regulations in the highest polluting states. Such is the danger of being a first mover when assistance is made available to actors that wait. Who else is excited about climate legislation finally passing in the US?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tosh.0, Doobies, and Other Non-Intellectual Pursuits

My sophomore year I almost got a job doing database entry for the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, and the only questions they asked were if I had ever smoked marijuana or been convicted of a crime. Anyone seeking a security clearance is asked the same question on marijuana - this government is serious about preventing hardened criminals from infiltrating the system. Yet assuming the nation becomes more reasonable and legalizes the substance, is this question still appropriate? Personal feelings of how idiotic present drug laws are aside, it begs a pondering.

The reversal of a law denotes an acknowledgment of either 1. misplaced judgment in crafting the original statute; or 2. a change in circumstances making the original reasoning no longer relevant. An altered marijuana policy scenario is likely both - present policy is wrong, which was reflected by a change in public opinion which shifts to legalization. However, there's no real moral high ground in breaking the current law - it's a law you're expected to abide by, even if you don't agree with it. A democracy is generally better off when people follow the laws prescribed by government. Problems arise when individuals only obey what they believe should apply to them, for no individual should be above others.

So, is it appropriate to expect a security clearance seeker to have abstained from the sticky icky, even after its legal reception? While I believe it should not be a question directly asked, abstinence remains an expectation. Though the codified criminal code is currently an infringement on civil rights, there is no moral righteousness in subverting it. Public defiance for the purpose of bringing attention to the issue is one thing - rolling a doobie and watching Tosh.0 in your living room is not. You've broken the law, yet in doing so failed to influence the trajectory of marijuana policy. Because even if I can provide a damn solid case against current policy, to say I'm more judicious than our lawmakers is more pretentious than cause for absolution - even if it's true.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Reflections From a 20-Hour Layover

Remember when offered the opportunity to offset the carbon emissions of your flight with some sort of e-carbon credit? For about $15 you could negate the CO2 from your flight by paying for like new trees or something. I'm sure they simply calculated the average fuel usage for a trip of XX miles, and multiplied by the carbon intensity of the fuel used for the flight. What I'd love to be a part of is looking at the real footprint of a plane ticket (while being exempted from having to partake in the necessary regressions).

The difference b/t what I want to do, what's probably done: that plane is flying with or without you - it's not like a car's carbon footprint which is entirely dependent on your driving habits. You'd actually have to calculate the likelihood that your ticket creates a tipping point, wherein a bigger plane is needed to transport everyone. Multiply that probability by the additional intensity of a larger plane, and you've got the carbon footprint of a plane ticket.

I don't know how this would work with the standby system, but it probably further diminishes the probability of you being of consequence. Additionally, I'm making a strong assumption that airlines react to demand by allocating larger or smaller planes to each trip. i really have no idea if this is the case, as the capacity to be responsive would take on an additional burden (i.e. having to store additional planes in the hanger). Predictive modeling would ballpark it pretty well, which I'm sure already occurs, but I'd like to know the extent. Then I could extort carbon offset companies by demonstrating how much the market signal of a single ticket really is, the carbon cost it really incurs, and get paid not to tell anyone else.

Willing to go in 50/50 with someone possessing in-depth knowledge and personnel access in the airline industry. Immediate proceeds will go towards paying for the ticket I just purchased, as I missed my plane and am sitting in the airport waiting for a second flight I definitely didn't budget for.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Observations from a week of Kansas conservative talk radio (the best option available whilst hauling wheat):

It's common to paint Democrats/liberals as intellectuals (which is bad - you'd rather have someone setting policy that you feel comfortable having a beer with, not someone who reads). However, I wasn't aware of how strongly Obama's ego was derided on talk radio. What's interesting is the interplay between this and the egotistical facade expected of major radio talk show hosts. Every episode is a reminder of how they accurately predicted something two years ago, that Nobel Prize winner Krugman is a doofus compared to their downhome understanding of economics, and they know exactly what's going on. Obama is then criticized for 'lecturing us.' Not surprisingly ironic, just interestingly so.

I don't know if it's more intriguing or frightening with how facts are presented on these shows. Fox and MSNBC have their respective 'issues' in how the news is spun, but it's amazing how Hannity will just straight up lie. Some is merely spin, but distortions also exist that no sane person properly equipped with facts would ever agree with. You want to merely dismiss it, but the ideas that oil merely dissipates in the ocean and it's impossible to reliably run machinery on natural gas reach millions of voters everyday. Many more than Air America (which I may begin describing as Al Franken's greatest joke to date).

Tiarht is running one of the most pathetic, rhetorical campaigns ever. We're used to campaigns light on substance, heavy on labels; he's taking it to a whole new level. You encounter an ad for that Senate race about every 20 minutes, with Todd running about two for every one ad Moran puts on. Moran's are 100% defensive in nature (he's obviously taking the 'enjoy your lead and don't do anything stupid to lose it' approach), and simply says he's conservative enough to represent Kansas. I've heard if you do a cross-comparison, they essentially share an identical voting record. The only real difference is that Moran has a spine, which is why he should get your vote in the primary. Your alternative is a man proud of earning Sarah Palin's endorsement.