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Sunday, November 29, 2009

California Solar Power Transmission Line Approved at Thanksgiving

California Solar Power Transmission Line Approved at Thanksgiving: "

On Friday the California Public Utilities Commission approved a new 500 Kilovolt transmission line from desert areas deep in southeastern California where numerous solar projects have been signed, to urban centers on the coast.

As originally submitted the line was to have also carried electrons from sunny Arizona deserts too, but the project is having to moving forward without its neighbor. Arizona officials were concerned their state could become an “energy farm” for California, using up Arizona’s resources and costing the state’s rate-payers.

Even just the California portion could help bring many of the backlog of solar projects in our desert onto the grid, now that there is the transmission that they need.

Read more of this story »

They could also build a couple of ginormous nuke plants out in the desert and connect them to the grid as well. Then they could do the same on the East Coast also. Let say in the Oneonta, NY area. You could connect New England, Metro NY, Philly and Metro DC all to the new nuke powered grid. They could store the waste onsite or blast it into deep space.... :)

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Should the US Continue to Back Israel? ...Part 2

The comments below mine are from the following article. Below my comments are what I believe to be some very valid points made by a poster to the original article:

This article is well worth reading as it highlights the disconnect between the people and the policies of America. I don't think that we, collectively, consider our role in the problems of the Middle East. Although I can't really fact-check blog comments, one commenter stated that we spend more than $350,00 per hour on aid to Israel! How many Americans could we help with that money? How many Palestinians? It's time we stop blindly supporting Israel. We've helped create and support them for the last 60 years. I think we've fulfilled our commitments we made after WW2 to the Jewish people. It's time to let them stand by themselves. If they can't sustain peace with their own neighbors after 60 years, perhaps they don't really have much right to exist. It was a bad idea in 1948 and its a bad idea today. You can't steal someone's land and give it to someone else, and then expect that there will be peace. Ask any American Indian if they think they got a fair deal? If there were a viable way to take back their land, I'm sure they would be doing it. What do you suppose the US Government would do if Native Americans started lobbing rockets off the reservation? Would we negotiate or bomb them back into the third world? Oh wait...we already did that. Unfortunately, this is the mentality our government. Just because our great nation has more to offer than others is no reason to believe that we're right all the time or that everyone likes us or agrees with us. We simply never learn from our mistakes.....

"October 30th, 2009 6:24 pm GMT - Posted by Alison Weir
While some Israeli actions have served US interests, the balance sheet is clear: Israel’s use of American aid consistently damages the United States, harms our economy, and endangers Americans.
In fact, this extremely negative outcome was so predictable that even before Israel’s creation virtually all State Department and Pentagon experts advocated forcefully against supporting the creation of a Zionist state in the Middle East. President Harry Truman’s reply: “I am sorry gentlemen, but I have to answer to hundreds of thousands who are anxious for the success of Zionism. I do not have hundreds of thousands of Arabs among my constituents.”
Through the years, our aid to Israel has not resulted in a reliable ally.
In 1954 Israel tried to bomb US government offices in Egypt, intending to pin this on Muslims.
In 1963 Senator William Fulbright discovered that Israel was using a series of covert operations to funnel our money to pro-Israel groups in the US, which then used these funds in media campaigns and lobbying to procure even more money from American taxpayers.
In 1967 Israeli forces unleashed a two-hour air and sea attack against the USS Liberty, causing 200 casualties. While Israel partisans claim that this was done in error, this claim is belied by extensive eyewitness evidence and by an independent commission reporting on Capitol Hill in 2003 chaired by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Thomas Moorer.
In 1973 Israel used the largest airlift of US materiel in history to defeat Arab forces attempting to regain their own land, triggering the Arab oil embargo that sent the US into a recession that cost thousands of Americans their jobs.
During its 1980s Lebanon invasion, Israeli troops engaged in a systematic pattern of harassment of US forces brought in as peacekeepers that created, according to Commandant of Marines Gen. R. H Barrow, “life-threatening situations, replete with verbal degradation of the officers, their uniform and country.”
Through the years, Israel has regularly spied on the US. According to the Government Accounting Office, Israel “conducts the most aggressive espionage operations against the United States of any ally.” Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger said of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard: “It is difficult for me to conceive of greater harm done to national security,” And the Pollard case was just the tip of a very large iceberg; the most recent operation coming to light involves two senior officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Israel’s powerful American lobbying organization.
Bad as the above may appear, it pales next to the indirect damage to Americans caused by our aid to Israel. American funding of Israel’s egregious violations of Palestinian human rights is consistently listed as the number one cause of hostility to Americans.
While American media regularly cover up Israeli actions, those of us who have visited the region first-hand witness a level of US-funded Israeli cruelty that makes us weep for our victims and fear for our country. While most Americans are uninformed on how Israel uses our money, people throughout the world are deeply aware that it is Americans who are funding Israeli crimes.
The 9/11 Commission notes that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s “animus towards the United States stemmed from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel.” The Economist reports that ” the notion of payback for injustices suffered by the Palestinians is perhaps the most powerfully recurrent theme in bin Laden’s speeches.”
US aid to Israel has destabilized the Middle East; propped up a national system based on ethnic and religious discrimination; enabled unchecked aggression that has, on occasion, been turned against Americans themselves; funded arms industries that compete with American companies; supported a pattern of brutal dispossession that has created hatred of the US; and resulted in continuing conflict that in the past seven and a half years has cost the lives of more than 2000 Palestinian children and 119 Israeli children.
By providing massive funding to Israel, no matter what it does, American aid is empowering Israeli supremacists who believe in a never-ending campaign of ethnic cleansing; while disempowering Israelis who recognize that policies of morality, justice, and rationality are the only road to peace."

Well thought out and nicely put Allison!

Should the US Continue to Back Israel?

JERUSALEM -- The Palestinians on Sunday accused Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton of undermining progress toward Mideast peace talks after she praised Israel for offering to curb some Jewish settlement construction.

After meeting Israeli and Palestinian leaders during a visit Saturday, Clinton called for an unconditional resumption of peace talks and welcomed Israel's offer for a slowdown in settlement activity.

But Palestinians rejected the idea of resuming talks, reiterating their demand that Israel must first freeze all construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem - lands they claim for a future state.

"I believe that the U.S. condones continued settlement expansion," Palestinian government spokesman Ghassan Khatib said in a rare public chiding of Washington.

I don't understand why we don't tell Israel that they can't build anymore on occupied territory? It only makes sense. The Israelis make all sorts of conditions on Palestinians to get them to the table, but they refuse to do something as simple as cease and desist until a resolution can be drafted. I think we should stop all weapons sales to Israel and ask for UN sanctions if they continue to refuse to act responsibly. They know the settlement issue is a sore point and they willingly allow construction to continue. When pressed on the issue, the Israelis temporarily back down until they think were not looking, and they start building again. They're playing the game just as much, or more, than the Palestinians. I say that the UN should put sanctions on Israel that are equal to the blockades that have isolated the Palestinians for years...see how quickly they come to the table with a viable plan that puts the onus for peace equally on both countries. The British, the US and the Russians created this mess after WW2. Now it's time for us to clean it up.

Palestinians accuse Clinton of hurting peace talks - washingtonpost.com

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Steam Car Breaks World Speed Record Set In 1906!

Prior to smashing the world record set by American Fred Marriott in 1906, the spaceshuttle-esque vehicle was able to reach speeds of 129mph in a single run, but the attempt was cut short when engineers decided to investigate why it was not going even faster. The issue turned out to be an open valve which was allowing steam to escape into the atmosphere from one of the car’s 12 boilers. After repairs the vehicle was fired up again this morning and conducted two official runs where it hit blistering top speeds of 136mph and 151mph, setting a new international record.

Steam-Powered Supercar Shatters World Land Speed Record!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Turn Your iPhone Into a Movie Projector!

"BOISE, Idaho--Imagine you're on a camping trip with your family, and your kids are bored. They want to watch a movie, but you forgot your laptop at home. Hopeless? Not at all.

You pull out your fifth-generation iPhone--yes, this is a story about future technology--power it up, aim it at the wall of the tent, and start projecting their favorite film there.

This is one of the many potential promises of a new microdisplay technology from Displaytech, a recently acquired division of Boise-based Micron. Known as FLCOS, or fast liquid crystal on silicon, the technology is designed to make it possible to project from a relatively small form factor device, and with high image quality and vibrant colors, just about anything you'd want, be it a Disney flick or a complex PowerPoint presentation.

Today, the technology is still in its prototype stage, and when I visited Micron here this week as part of Road Trip 2009, I was shown a demonstration in which things like YouTube movies or ESPN clips stored on an iPhone were projected onto a screen via a small device with a tiny 3M projection engine in it.

Even that was pretty cool, because the little device probably had about the same volume as a deck of cards, and the image quality--in a very bright room--was fairly good, particularly when it came to showing text-based slides. But the most exciting thing to me about the technology is the promise that by late 2010 or early 2011, there's a good chance that the thumbnail-size chip behind the microdisplay could begin to be embedded in commercially available smartphones, like the iPhone."

Read the Full Article Here at CNET

If I was looking for a company to invest a few bucks in, these guys might be near the top of my list. The possibilities of this technology are pretty exciting. Their strategy of selling their technology to a wide range of device makers is sure to make them millions. You can bet that I'll be keeping an eye on this story as the tech hits the consumer marketplace.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

$4 Billion in Broadband Stimulus Grants Tied to Strict Net Neutrality Rules

I wonder if the state could qualify as a borrower under this plan? Maybe we could buy out Fairpoint with help from the Feds and take control of our own landlines. As I had stated in my previous post, the state could then pass control to the local municipalities in order to deliver broadband statewide. I still think this is a goal we should work towards before some other teleco comes in and does an even worse job than Fairpoint. Haven't we been screwed with empty promises of statewide broadband long enough?

$4 Billion in Broadband Stimulus Grants Tied to Strict Net Neutrality Rules | Epicenter | Wired.com

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Is It Time For Vermont to Take Control of Our Landlines?

Let me be one of the first Vermonters to jump on the "I told you so" bandwagon. Many folks wiser and dumber than I called this one from the start. The original idea defied logic. Verizon, with their internet and mobile business thriving, decided that it was a good idea to get out of the declining landline business. So, they sold the landlines to a much smaller company with far fewer financial resources. If Verizon couldn't make those lines profitable, how could a reasonable person believe that Fairpoint could turn a profit?

One of the major sticking points with either company has been the rolling out of all services to all rural areas. Verizon had made all kinds of promises to the PSB to gain rate hikes. Everytime they wanted to raise rates they promised to do more towards the goal of ruralfication. Verizon never met these goals and when it came time to pony up, they bailed. Surprisingly, Fairpoint made more promises in order to get approval of the Verizon buyout deal. Now it appears that they too will be bailing out on these promises.

This whole folly raises two strongly conflicting questions. First off, I'd like to know what jokers in Montpelier keep taking these promises hook, line and sinker? If someone (presumably) less educated and as out of the loop as I am could see this coming, why couldn't our elected/appointed officials see this and put their foot down before it happened? How hard is it to call obvious BS? Isn't the proof in the pudding? Who exactly is responsible for buying into these lies and why do they still have a job? These are questions that need answers. Before everyone jumps onto the blame the PSB bandwagon, lets not forget all the smoke and mirrors about "Ruralfication" we've heard from Washington and the Douglas administration.

Ok, so I admit that was a whole bunch of questions that were raised, but they are related and lead up to the second bigger question.

Should the state step in and take control or outright ownership of the landlines as a part of critical infrastructure? Before you scoff at such a huge expenditure in such harsh financial times, consider the fact that there are reasons that our sewer and water lines are not privatized. These are basic services that should not be impeded by profiteering. If no company will step in and deliver because it's not profitable, maybe we should do it ourselves. Perhaps there are Federal funds available to assist in the transition. As I recall, this was one of the many planks in the Obama presidential campaign. Why do people in larger areas have fiber optic cable right to their home and businesses while people in rural areas have 1950's copper wire technology to their's? Because it's not profitable. As our rural state struggles to compete for jobs, can we afford to be at a disadvantage because of inferior infrastructure?

Let's face it, we've been held hostage by one company or another since the dawn of time. Ok, so at least since the dawn of the Bell monopoly. Perhaps now is the appropriate time to take control of our own future. Many will point to the successes of the city of Burlington as they've wrested control of essential services as one company after another failed to deliver. There are already efforts underway to deliver high speed internet to several counties in the southeast portion of the state. These communities have taken it upon themselves to bring high speed to their towns because the phone company (insert name here) hasn't delivered the promised coverages.

Of course all of this crap has gone on directly under the noses of several administrations of both political flavors. Call me skeptical for doubting the ability of the pinheads in Montpelier to agree on a good solution that makes a real difference. I've sat and watched us all get the shaft for years. It makes sense for the state to end this once and for all by taking control and eventually return the control of local services to the local municipalities. I'd be be happy to pay for the actual use of communications services just like I pay for the actual use of water. When I have a service problem I can call someone local and someone that has filled the newly created local jobs will have been dispatched to my home to do the repair.

I know there will be some who cry socialism and other such ballyhoo, but haven't we endured enough. All we're really looking for is the ability to be connected to the rest of the world with a technology from this century. Apparently, that's too much too ask. My guess is that we will remain on the short end of the stick unless we do something drastic to change the way these services are delivered and maintained.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

8th Grader Strip Searched by School Officials Vindicated

Back in March of 2008 we reported on this outrageous case involving a teen that was strip searched after being accused of being in possession of a controlled substance....gasp, ibuproffen!

Our Original Post of March 2008

It seems that the Supreme Court today vindicated this poor girl...

By an 8-1 vote, the justices upheld a ruling that the school and its officials violated the U.S. constitutional right that protects against unreasonable search and seizure.

Read the article about today's Supreme Court Ruling

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"Synthetic Tree" Cathes the Carbon of 20 Cars Daily!

The thought of an artificial tree usually excites memories of building and ornamenting a Christmas centerpiece. But here's an innovation that will put those plastic branches to shame: scientists at Columbia University are developing a structure that can capture carbon 1,000 times faster than a real tree.

Klaus Lackner, a professor of geophysics at the university, has been working on the project since 1998, according to a CNN report, and is optimistic about a near-future application.
Modern improvements in coal-fired power plants have reduced carbon emissions, but Lackner is seeking a different function. The "tree" would be used to trap carbon that has already been emitted into the air by car gasoline or airplane fuel, CNN reports.
Unlike the real thing, the synthetic "tree" doesn't need direct sunlight, water, a trunk, or branches to function, as it looks more like a cylinder than a soaring Redwood. The concept, which Lackner says is flexible in size and can be placed nearly anywhere, works by collecting carbon dioxide on a sorbent, cleaning and pressurizing the gas, and releasing it. Similar to the way a sponge collects water, the sorbent would collect carbon dioxide.
Each synthetic tree would absorb one ton of carbon dioxide per day, eliminating an amount of gas equivalent to that produced by 20 cars. Lackner is also co-founder and chairman of Tuscon, Ariz.-based Global Research Technologies, which is working on the technology.

Synthetic 'tree' promises to catch carbon | Green Tech - CNET News

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Obama Chokes on Marijuana

President Obama's experiment Thursday with an otherwise traditional town hall format flecked with questions posted and voted on at whitehouse.gov was a useful experiment with interactivity. But it was a relatively small step forward, and the online crowd did not provide much of a disruptive alternative to topics Obama certainly would have been asked about anyway.

How did the tech president do? Fine. He genuinely took popular questions and he certainly took many of the top-rated ones. His answers were long, which meant he took only five of the 104,000 questions submitted and, more important, only a tiny fraction of the approximately 1,000 questions that the public seemed truly enthusiastic about.

But it wasn't exactly as if he took penetrating, unanticipated questions from "Open for Questions," which the administration set up two days ago to solicit questions in advance. In fact the only subject that might not have otherwise been addressed came from an organized campaign to ask Obama his position on legalizing marijuana.

Obama obeyed the spirit (and letter) of the event by entertaining the question while blunting the troll effort that had put it to him: "No, I don't think that is a good strategy to grow our economy," he said to laughter in the room.
Other than that bit of comedy relief how exactly would it have differed if this town hall were to be entirely scripted by the White House? They would have touched many of the same subjects — health care, veterans, outsourcing — and Obama would have given his regular stump points.

Change my ass! I'm insulted as an American that the President would only offer a one liner on the marijuana issue...I'd even give it a reverse Michelle Obama. "Up to this point I was a proud American..."

I'd rather see 10 bridges to nowhere built than see another penny wasted on marijuana enforcement. The hell with the money gained from taxation. What about the money saved at every level of government from not enforcing, prosecuting and/or incarcerating people for smoking weed?

I'll even play devil's advocate here for a second..."What about all those poor cops across the country who would lose their Federal funds they use to buy new cop cars and weapons to chase all the potheads? Some of them might even lose their jobs!"

I say fuck em'. Welcome to the real world. I hear they need cops in Mexico.

I say now is the time for public outrage on this issue. Are we going to let the President give 40% of the population lip service? I certainly plan on giving him my two cents. I'm tired of spending billions of dollars on this when there is no measurable progress. It's not working no matter how much money we throw at it. It's simply time to move on. Prohibition doesn't work.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Is it time for Vermont to Privatize Rest Areas?

The Douglas Administration will permanently close three interstate rest areas that were temporarily closed earlier this month.

The facilities in Highgate and Hartford and the southbound rest area in Sharon will either be torn down or sold. We should emphasize it's the southbound Sharon rest area-- not the northbound which is a memorial to Vietnam Vets.

The Randolph rest area will close later this month but will re-open next year. And in July the state plans to reduce the hours of operation at the state's 17 other rest areas.

This plan is expected to save the state $1.5 million a year."

Here we go with another round of Rest Area roulette. Whenever the budget gets tight the first thing the politicians go to cut are the rest areas. When times get better they are then the first ones to lament the disadvantage we are put at when we don't have rest areas to direct travellers to local attractions. There seems to be no consistentcy on this issue and it appears to transcend party lines. When you think it couldn't get any more bizarre, we spend enough on the Veterans Rest Area to renovate the rest of the existing rest areas.

I would like to put forth the notion that the state has had enough chances to screw this simple task up. We live in a state with a tourism driven economy and we can't seem to all get on the same page to point travellers in the right direction. When you visit other states, it's easy to see how we've missed the boat. I think that we could partner with the private sector or simply put it out to bid and get far better results at a better cost to the businesses and taxpayers of the state. Closing more rest areas simply isn't a good return on our already stretched dollar.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Google Gets Power!

Every year, Google Inc. invites a group of global A-listers to its own Davos-style conference to think big thoughts. The event, called Zeitgeist, tends to be as pretentious as its name—captains of industry, finance, and government chattering onstage in front of about 400 of Google’s friends and customers about the fate of the internet and the world.

The 2008 version bordered on the surreal. The stock market was tanking, the bond market had flatlined, and the price of gold was surging to its biggest one-day jump in nearly a decade, an indication that investors everywhere thought the global economy was going to hell.

Yet here was Eric Schmidt, Google’s chairman and CEO, on a sparse stage at the company’s Mountain View, California, headquarters, in a green-energy love-in with his counterpart at General Electric Co., Jeff Immelt. The pair bathed in the glow of each other’s affirmation, convinced that the two companies, working together, can save the planet.


While my mind is racing about the cost savings and green impact that would result from a smart power grid, there’s one sore spot that keeps resurfacing. I think its the Republican in me that keeps wincing. Here’s the rub….

According to our deeply ingrained capitalist ideals, any time the government becomes involved in dictating what businesses should do, we come one step closer to socialism. Yet when a company succeeds too much we call it a monopoly and step in and break it up or we regulate it into a very small profit margin. I’m all for leveling the playing field when a company becomes so dominant it stifles competition, but when we create a monopoly, or break one up, we stifle innovation. It becomes impossible to change the status quo. For, example, our electrical distribution system is still running on systems developed 50 to 75 years ago. Thomas Edison would at first be proud of his accomplishments, but then horrified at the lack of progress and innovation since his original discovery.

Once this monster has been created, it is very difficult to institute any kind of meaningful change. Since the profits are low and closely regulated, there aren’t really the deep pockets one might expect to fund massive reconstruction of the grid or to spur innovation. The only other alternative is to turn to the private sector. The problem is that you can’t lure the private sector to invest somewhere that has intense regulation and built in low profit margins. This is what makes this Google/GE partnership so interesting. GE has the technology and Google appears to have the cash and the gumption to get this project started.

So far, so good. The other piece of this puzzle is the government. The Obama administration has so far said all the right things about energy policy, but this is not an issue that will take care of itself in 4 or even 8 years. The government needs to be in this transition for years to come. As we decease our dependency on fossil fuels and continue to move towards electric vehicles, we need to start now to ensure that the grid is able to handle the new demand efficiently and more importantly profitably. This is going to require a huge change in the way the bureaucrats in Washington regulate, as well as a huge change in the way utilities implement new policies. Both of these mechanisms are ill-suited to foster any kind of real change because they are bogged down in a sea of red tape. If every step of the way is going to have to be studied in-depth by the utilities and the government. The technology will be old by the time we’re done the permitting processes. A serious change from the top down is required. The Obama administration can step in and streamline the process if they can get support in Congress. The question is will they be able to do enough to make investing from the private sector attractive or should the grid simply become another inefficient government agency? I can hear the cries of Socialism already….

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Mark Cuban Stimulus Plan - Open Source Funding

If you have an business idea you've been kicking around for a while, now might be the time to give it the float test. Mark Cuban, entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, would like to hear your business idea. If it passes his muster, he will provide the start up capital you need.

While there are a few caveats, there is also a lack of the restraints usually required to obtain venture capital. Cuban thinks that he can leverage some of his wealth to stimulate the economy. If he funds start ups that create jobs (one of the requirements)they will put meaningful investment, that has tangible results, into motion. The theory is that these start ups will also spur innovation and free up lending by creating new business that traditional investors will want to back.

It all sounds a little too good to be true, but it is an opportunity that you may never have again. Nothing is free, but the terms that Cuban demands aren't unreasonable. Some folks, as you see by posts on his blog, are very leery of posting their ideas on public place. This is an opportunity for some people, but many are too stuck in the traditional way of thinking to realize what they are being offered.

You can read more and decide for yourself here...

The Mark Cuban Stimulus Plan - Open Source Funding

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Michael Phelps Caught On Video Doing Bong Hits?

Olympic great Michael Phelps has acknowledged "regrettable" behavior and "bad judgment" after a photo in a British newspaper showed him smoking marijuana.

In a statement released to The Associated Press, the swimmer who won a record eight gold medals at the Beijing Games conceded the authenticity of the exclusive video published Sunday by the blog Blogging Vermont Style.

Phelps acknowledges photo showing Olympic swimming star smoking pot - ESPN
While this isn't really "shocking" news, it does go to show how badly we are losing the war on drugs. It also highlights the ridiculousness of marijuana prohibition. Come on now, you wouldn't see people freaking out if there was a picture of him totally shit-faced at a night club with a table full of empty drinks. I know the first thing that comes to mind is..."Well that's legal". While that may be factually correct, the social reality just doesn't pan out. Alcohol related arrests and prosecutions make up a huge percentage of the law enforcement expenditures in this country. The medical cost associated with health care for alcohol related problems is likely second only to the cost of tobacco related care. Yet, there's another legal product. Are you seeing the pattern here? Is there any sane reason for marijuana prohibition if a large percentage of the population is already using it? Obviously, by the Phelps saga, it shows that use is rampant in all sectors of the population. Also consider the tax revenue that could be generated. Look at how the industrial sector could benefit from hemp related products. Talk about going green....

Saturday, January 31, 2009

It's Okay To Drink From The Toilet...

We reported this invention back in September 2007. I was doing some house cleaning on the blog and I came across this post and I found it as interesting now as it was then. This device could have a huge impact on developing nations where infrastructure is poor or non-existent.

I went to the company website to get an update and found that you can purchase one of these devices for $230. While that may sound expensive, consider the uses. It would certainly be a great addition to any emergency preparedness kit and if you're a camper or hiker, this is a no-brainer...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Marijuana Ballot Item Goes Up In Smoke

For the second year in a row the Burlington City Council debated whether to ask voters if they are interested in decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana by way of a ballot question. For the second year in a row the City Council shot down the idea of letting voters weigh in.

Councilors voted 8 to 6, Monday night, against putting an advisory referendum on the March 3 Town Meeting Day ballot. Ed Adrian proposed the initiative, which would have asked voters if they want the city to urge lawmakers to examine the issue of decriminalizing marijuana.

"I think it's clear that after 70 or 80 years of active law enforcement against marijuana and the fact that we have not been able to solve the problem over that time period speaks volumes and I think it speaks volumes in that it's at least time to start looking at something else," said Adrian.

He garnered community support from several people who spoke at Monday's meeting.

"In this time of economic downturn I think that we might be able to spend our time and our resources and our money fighting real crime against persons and property," said Nancy Lynch, of the Vermont Alliance for Intelligent Drug Laws.

Burlington Police Chief Michael Schirling testified against the measure. He said even small amounts of marijuana pose a problem because they are just the tip of a much larger network of drug dealing. He was also concerned about confusing children.

"The dangerous educational message it sends to youth that it starts to blur the line about where safety really needs to be considered," said Schirling.

Councilors debated for over an hour before making their final decision.

Bianca Slota - WCAX News

WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-Marijuana Ballot Item Goes Up In Smoke

“I hate these stupid fucking arguments. Doesn't the Police Chief mean "further blur the line"? We already send conflicting messages by our stance on alcohol and tobacco. What are the Council members afraid of here? Are they saying their constituents are too stupid to decide this issue for themselves?”

We spend an incredible amount of money enforcing marijuana laws. Considering the amount of people who smoke it would make sense to generate revenue from its use. The state could also greatly benefit from the many indusrial uses for hemp products. While there is a process to become a hemp farmer, I have yet to hear whether anyone has applied for a permit. It would seem that while decreasing the stigma of hemp production would help, it would also help to streamline the process fo apply for a permit.

I think it's time once again for Vermont to take the lead on a national issue. The Legislature should decriminalize marijuana in small, personal use quantities. At the same time they should provide tax breaks for hemp related products that add new jobs to the economy. If we get ahead of the curve a bit, we could add "Vermont Made Hemp" to our growing list of fine agricultural products that receive the Vermot Quality seal.

Monday, January 26, 2009

WTF?: Toy Manufacturer To Sell Caylee Anthony Doll

"Now you too can be a part of the Caylee Anthony saga unfolding on cable news networks! What's that? This is a grotesque commercialization of what should be a private tragedy? Don't be such a downer! 'We want it to be a tribute,' Showbiz Promotions prez Jaime Salcedo told the Orlando Sentinel. Heck, he's even thinking of donating $3 per purchase to some good cause or another.

The doll plays 'You Are My Sunshine' when you push her belly, so luckily you don't have to be sad when you look at your new Caylee doll. You do have to be one sick, creepy fool, however." Read More Here

This has to rank right up there with one of the more vile things I have ever heard. Some people have no sense of shame or consideration for others. The only thing they care about is the almighty dollar. The thing that makes this an even more despicable act is the attitude of this this guy. He tries to justify it by saying he had to invest the money to have the dolls made (or at least the doll t-shirts). The tastelessness of this is beyond reproach and I feel genuinely bad for the families involved. People should leave them alone unless they're offering to help.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Middle East - A One-State Solution

I started reading this Op Ed piece from the NYT and I'm thinking, "Wow this is someone who seems to have put a lot of thought into this subject and they've really developed a neutral position". What a well written piece it is...imagine my surprise when I got to the end of the article and I realized that it was penned by Muammar Qaddafi the President of Libya!

The last time we really heard from him, we were bombing him into the stone age for supporting terrorism around the world. I wouldn't have pictured him as a person who would take a rational and neutral stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I'm sure he has an angle here or a dog in this fight, but what he is saying appears to be one of the more sensible solutions I've heard...ever!

No longer how long you live, something will always happen that will leave you scratching your head, asking WTF?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

IRS Has No Love for Plug-In Conversions... It Should

For all the hype about hybrids and electric cars, the best way to reduce our carbon footprint is to make the cars we're already driving more efficient. But switching a vehicle to alternative fuels or getting a plug-in hybrid conversion is expensive, and the IRS, foolishly, doesn't cut you any slack for it.

Although the government provides tax breaks for hybrids and alt-fuel vehicles produced by major automakers, it doesn't provide any relief to those who make their existing cars greener. "There are no incentives for the 248 million vehicle owners in the United States to convert their vehicles into cleaner, greener plug-in hybrids," says Frank Kuchinski of Poulsen Hybrid, one of a growing number of companies doing such conversions.

IRS Has No Love for Plug-In Conversions. It Should | Autopia from Wired.com

It's these kinds of incentives that will make green auto technology more available to the masses. The first one to make a conversion really cheap will become extremely wealthy. In the meantime, we need a faster track to making substantial gains against global warming. There is a huge segment of the population that would love to be doing more to protect the environment, but they simply can't afford it. The cost of entry is too high. They aren't in the position to buy a brand new green vehicle. The already own, or are paying on, their existing vehicle. These folks are also not likely to plunk down, what would amount to a years college tuition for their kids, just to convert their existing vehicle. I'm betting a lot of these people would stomach a moderate rise in the gas tax if would go directly to covering conversion subsidies. I realize the capitalist in us all thinks we should get greener by everyone purchasing new vehicles, but it's not likely to happen any time soon. Applied for a loan lately?

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Redneck's Wet Dream - An 'Earnhardt and Elvis' Car

NASCAR.COM - 'Earnhardt and Elvis' car will be unveiled at Vegas - Jan 12, 2009: "LAS VEGAS -- Motorsports Authentics, along with Elvis Presley Enterprises and Dale Earnhardt Inc., will unveil its new 'Earnhardt & Elvis' car in the Neon Garage at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Feb. 27.

The 'Earnhardt and Elvis' car, which features the King of Rock 'n' Roll on the hood of the Intimidator's famous No. 3 Chevrolet, is the third car in the Enduring Legends Series from Motorsports Authentics and Dale Earnhardt Inc. This is the third collection in the series that began last year when Earnhardt was paired with American legends Johnny Cash and John Wayne."

I'm not sure that any witty comments are really necessary here. But, the thought did cross my mind that there is some marketing wiz in Las Vegas that figured that the lure of Elvis is on the decline while more recently deceased American icon Dale Earnhardt's fortunes seem to be well entrenched across the nation.

The next vision I had involved young people eloping to Vegas to get married at the Earnhardt Chapel. There were also Flying Earnhardts parachuting from the skies and it seemed like the Earnhardt impersonators were at every casino on the strip.....Now that's scary!

And yes, I know the picture is an actual hood from one of Jr's cars.....further proving my conspiracy theory! Someone should let the folks at Graceland know about this!