Fri 29 Apr 2011
Thu 28 Apr 2011
This is one way that they end.
John Boehner courageously supported ending taxpayer subsidies to Big Oil for 12 hours, as Climate Progress noted yesterday.
But then he gets called on the mat (do they still say that?) by chez Big Oil and Limbaugh, and immediately flips back. But the writing is on the wall.
Again, not hopeful. They are posting the last of the massive profits, and they know it. The same way the House of Saud knows things are changing.
I cut my finger really badly two days ago, and the first two times I changed the bandage, the wound gushed blood, like crazy – I could barely take it, or staunch the flow. But this morning, I soaked the wound in warm, soapy water and slowly cut the bandage and dried blood away, until after a (long) while I had all the gauze out down to the clean wound with no hemorrhaging and noticeably less pain. It took a while, but… it worked.
Tue 26 Apr 2011
Nice catch from Klein via Yglesias:
Robert Frank, an economist at Cornell University, is one of the more innovative tax thinkers I know. In particular, I’ve always been partial to his proposal for a progressive consumption tax (pdf). So I ran the plan by him, as well. “The progressive budget proposal is of course an enormous improvement over the bizarre Ryan budget,” he said, “which for all its chest thumping about facing up to the hard choices, does nothing — absolutely nothing — to reduce long-run deficits.” But like Gale and Burman, Frank wanted to see more simplification and reform. In particular, he wanted more attention given to what we tax with an eye toward two-fers: raising more money off of things we want less of. “When we enter congested roadways, or buy heavy vehicles, or drink to excess, or emit CO2 into the air, we impose costs on others,” he says. “Taxing such activities kills two birds with one stone: It generates much needed revenue, and it curtails activities that cause more harm than good. Because these taxes make the economic pie bigger, it makes no sense to object that we can’t afford them.” He recommended this piece (pdf) for more on those ideas.
Emphases from the link. But the key: raising more money off of things we want less of. The whole idea of a two-fer has only yet manifested itself in the heads and hearts of those who want to keep their tax money and penalize the poor, children and the elderly by teaching them some kind of lesson.
But Frank’s is the real way to get to the things that matter, one that also has many corollaries, among them: make sure more people finish school and can go to college, wherever they are from, so that they can get jobs and spend a long productive life of at least intermittent happiness paying taxes. Hello?
Banning certain kids from college is stupid. Not taxing the externalities of energy production, ditto.
Fri 22 Apr 2011
From the story by V. Nabokov:
Thus I gain entry to your overcast eyes, to a narrow alley of black glimmer where the nocturnal rain gurgles and rustles. Give me a smile. Why do you look at me so balefully and darkly? It’s morning. All night the stars shrieked with infant voices and, on the roof, someone lacerated and caressed a violin with a sharp bow. Look, the sun slowly crossed the wall like a blazing sail. You emanate an enveloping smoky haze. Dust starts swirling in your eyes, millions of golden worlds. You smiled!
We go out to the balcony. It’s spring. Below, in the middle of the street, a yellow-curled boy works likety-split, sketching a god. The god stretches from one sidewalk to the other. The boy is clutching a piece of chalk in his hand, a little piece of white charcoal and he’s squatting, circling, drawing with broad strokes. This white god has large white buttons and turned-out feet. Crucified on the asphalt, he looks skyward with round eyes. He has a white arc for a mouth. A log-sized cigar has appeared in his mouth. With helical jabs the boy makes spirals representing smoke. Arms akimbo, he contemplates his work. He adds another button… A window frame clanked across the way; a female voice, enormous and happy, rang out summoning him. The boy gave the chalk a punt and dashed inside. On the purplish asphalt remained the white geometric god, gazing skyward.
Wed 20 Apr 2011
So, I guess it’s pretty sure bet that we will run out of petroleum before we fatally poison the planet, at least by burning oil for energy. In other words, the planet would be much worse off if there was an unlimited supply. Hence will the Earth save itself by running out of easily accessible fossil fuel deposits.Peak oil hysterics aside, you can tell this is true by how oil companies were reacting to war planning in 2002, verified by a recent document dump:
The British daily, The Independent, has been given 1,000 documents detailing talks between the British government and oil companies such as BP and Shell in fall of 2002 about their share in Iraqi petroleum. The memoranda were gained through Freedom of Information requests over five years by the activist Greg Muttitt, who has a book forthcoming. The documents flatly contradict denials 1) by Shell that its representatives met with the Blair government on Iraq at that time; 2) by BP that it had “no strategic interest” in Iraqi petroleum, and 3) by Tony Blair himself that it was a “conspiracy theory” that he was interested in Iraq’s petroleum as a motive for war.
In every decade since the 1950s, fewer and fewer big new petroleum fields have been discovered. Companies such as BP and Exxon-Mobil are desperate for new fields to exploit and fearful for the future if global oil production has peaked or is about to do so. Iran and Iraq hold most of the likely big reserves of unexploited oil known or suspected to exist in relatively easy-to-get-at regions.
That, plus ads for the Nissan Leaf and it all adds up to a bit too much protesting while the companies maneuver behind the scenes, as much as there remain scenes and any ability or desire to orchestrate behind them.
BUT, even with all of this and the planet saving us and it from ourselves, it still does nothing to change the fundamental predicament: How to get around? This has to be plugged into where and how we live, even outside of the resource scarcity environment we have entered. Indeed it is the namesake and patron of said environment, and these would tend to be only signifiers of a, if not the, greater issue.
If this is optimism…
Tue 19 Apr 2011
The Afghan poppy crop could be repurposed away from illicit drug production, and towards manufacturing licit opioid analgesics to address unmet needs for pain palliation, particularly for diseases such as HIV/AIDS and cancer in the developing world—that is, illegal opium could be converted into legal pain medicine, solving two problems at once.
Are they saying that you could actually think about a problem differently and then do things differently to achieve a desired result? Instead of being a’scourge’, opium production in Afghanistan could be channeled into a legal, profitable trade that would reduce pain and suffering worldwide? Wha? Would this sort of change in thinking be open to other issues, or is this a one time offer? I think we should still take it.
Bonus question: What’s the drug war going to say about this? I’ll bet it will worry and won’t be happy.
Mon 18 Apr 2011
Could you get to work if gas became unaffordable? To get groceries? Get the kids to school?
What is obvious is that the kind of monocultural economy that we have, based on gasoline, is unsustainable and vulnerable to price increases not to mention availability.
So many of the “controversies” we have in planning really come down to building a land use and transportation paradigm that is resilient, one that is less dependent on external inputs.
Hello? The extraordinarily limited (~1) diversity of options is not something we can suddenly retro-fit to our society in the face of skyrocketing transportation costs. And so we’ll be left to simply not go to school and work, and spend our days trekking from suburban enclaves to the grocery store and back. Well, what? Why not consider it that way? Do you actually have a perception of how far two miles is? Five? We rigidly ignore any possibility that our way o’ life will ever be interrupted. People have internalized the idea that transportation alternatives are some kind of antagonistic socialism meant for depraved urban scum or hippies or the poor (commutative property could be in order here). Now what?
Fri 15 Apr 2011
I had another work dialed up for today, but I’m not quite finished with it. So, in lieu, here’s some more Robert Hughes we can always all use. Consider the fact that it comes from the 9/10/01 issue of Time a sort of time-encapsulated bonus.
When Americans interested in art are asked what they have heard of from South America, the answer tends to be pretty much the same: two dead Mexicans and one live Colombian. The Mexicans are, of course, Diego Rivera, a great artist by any standard, and his wife Frida Kahlo, not a great painter by any reasonable judgment, but a tough and gifted woman who, owing to her hagiographic suffering (not to mention being ardently collected by the likes of Madonna), has become Exhibit A, by now somewhere above Artemisia Gentileschi in the pantheon of feminist art-saints. The live Colombian is probably the richest artist alive, the unbearably repetitious and banal Fernando Botero, 69, who has made millions, millions and millions of dollars painting and sculpting mountainously fat people over and over and over again. These sleek, bloated lumps of cellulite have the same appeal to the international nouveau riche that the semi-skeletal poor of Picasso’s Blue Period used to.
Clearly, that can’t be the whole story from the vast continent, and Harvard’s Fogg Museum is filling in at least some of the gaps with a show of its diametric opposite: geometric abstraction, drawn from a distinguished and systematic collection made by Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, who lives in Caracas, Venezuela, and is an ardent evangelist for South American abstract painters and sculptors. Cisneros has a severe and finely tuned eye, and her collection is remarkably free from nationalist bias. This is a very catholic collection. Of course, some of the artists in it, such as the Venezuelan Jesus Rafael Soto, 78, have exhibited quite often in the U.S. But most of them are not all that familiar, and the show makes a strong case that some of them–including Brazil’s Helio Oiticica (1937-1980) and Lygia Clark (1920-1988), Venezuela’s Gertrude Goldschmidt (1912-1994, a sculptor who worked under the name of Gego) and Carlos Cruz-Diez, 78, and of course that long-dead Uruguayan father figure of South American abstraction, Joaquin Torres-Garcia (1874-1949)–emphatically ought to be.
There are practically no generalizations to be made that hold true across the whole spectrum of art activity in South America. How could there be? The histories of the countries that constitute it are so totally different, especially in the 20th century. What could a country like Argentina, long ruled by a semi-fascist dictator like Peron, intensely conservative in its cultural orientation, have in common with a long-running, more or less liberal democracy like Venezuela’s? In the real world there is no unified entity called South America. What this show presents is not some fiction of a general cultural ethos but rather the work of a number of talents underknown by norteamericanos, some of whom have some things in common.
The rest at the link.
Thu 14 Apr 2011
Sea water with a temperature of 45 degrees Fahrenheit would be pumped to a cooling station makai of Ala Moana Boulevard along Keawe Street, where it would undergo a heat exchange with fresh water circulating in a network of pipes to various buildings.
Company Senior Vice President Michael Ahern said the proj ect, whose investors are mainly from Hawaii, Sweden and Minnesota, is scheduled to start construction late this year and begin providing serv ice to customers in 2013.
He said a similar system has been designed in Sweden by engineers with his company.
Ahern said the system will reduce Hawaii’s consumption of oil by some 178,000 barrels a year and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 84,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually.
Meanwhile in other news, the good people of South Carolina bombarded Fort Sumter and Charleston Harbor with millions of dollars worth of live fake ordnance on Tuesday in an epic demonstration of solidarity with our Imperial past.
Wed 13 Apr 2011
Like it’s the garden variety sort of divisiveness that might propel us forward instead of say, back a couple of hundred years. Ah, yes, heads will roll. I’d much rather link to Spy, but because we’re about the green, (and you’re the priest) this VF article by Joseph Stiglitz cannot and should not go unread. At least not by you.
Economists long ago tried to justify the vast inequalities that seemed so troubling in the mid-19th century—inequalities that are but a pale shadow of what we are seeing in America today. The justification they came up with was called “marginal-productivity theory.” In a nutshell, this theory associated higher incomes with higher productivity and a greater contribution to society. It is a theory that has always been cherished by the rich. Evidence for its validity, however, remains thin. The corporate executives who helped bring on the recession of the past three years—whose contribution to our society, and to their own companies, has been massively negative—went on to receive large bonuses. In some cases, companies were so embarrassed about calling such rewards “performance bonuses” that they felt compelled to change the name to “retention bonuses” (even if the only thing being retained was bad performance). Those who have contributed great positive innovations to our society, from the pioneers of genetic understanding to the pioneers of the Information Age, have received a pittance compared with those responsible for the financial innovations that brought our global economy to the brink of ruin.
And now it won’t, go unread. The ruin part is mostly assured. Right?