07/30/09 04:15 - 78ºF - ID#49418
A Real Clunker
His column is titled, "Landfilling old gas-guzzlers for new gas-guzzlers isn't green-it's a subsidy" -- and it's worth readingin its entirety. Here are some excerpts:
Let's be honest and get one simple fact straight. The Obama administration's "Cash for Clunkers" program is a $1 billion subsidy to the auto industry. We can debate whether or not that's a good thing and how it will or won't help pull us out of our economic morass. But let's not make believe this is about protecting the environment.
Putting more people in busses and subways, not crushing 16-miles-per-gallon clunkers and replacing them with 18-miles-per-gallon clunkers, is the real green solution. In this light, the billion dollars that the Obama administration plans to spend subsidizing the purchase of personal automobiles is a billion dollars not spent on mass transportation infrastructure or operations.
The Cash for Clunkers program also really doesn't address the smog issue, since you can only trade in a vehicle that is 25 years old or newer. Hence, all the clunkers will already be equipped with catalytic converters and will be relatively clean. The oldest of these cars, whose pollution control systems have already failed, will stay on the road, since their poorer owners will not be able to afford new cars, even with the cash incentive. If smog was the issue, some of the clunker cash could have been better spent as grants to repair anti-pollution systems on cars whose owners could not otherwise maintain them.
And my personal favorite rant that I've been going on for weeks now:
... the Cash for Clunkers program... rewards past irresponsible, and dare we say, anti-social behavior. If you bought a gas-guzzling SUV, say, 10 years ago, when it didn't take an Einstein to figure out the environmental footprint of such a pig, you now get up to $4,500 dollars as an unearned reward.
The more selfish you were back then, and hence, the lower the miles-per-gallon rating on your clunker, the more selfish you can be today, with your new clunker only having to best your old clunker's lousy fuel efficiency by two to five miles per gallon. Hence you can trade in your used 16-miles-per-gallon vehicle for a new 18-miles-per-gallon SUV and get $3,500, or best your old pickup by two miles per gallon for a $4,500 windfall. If, by comparison, you shopped responsibly 10 years ago and bought, say, a 35-miles-per-gallon Ford Focus, and you now want to trade up to a 50-miles-per-gallon car, there's nothing here for you, since the program only buys cars getting less than 18 miles per gallon-and that new car will cost a few grand more due to all the clunker cash flowing into the new car market.
Finally, why the program discriminates against the poor:
This program only benefits those who can afford a new car. And it hurts those who can't, since the crushing of hundreds of thousands of perfectly good used cars will tighten the bottom end of the used car market, causing prices to rise. Hence, the oldest and dirtiest cars will have to stay on the road a bit longer since their owners can't afford to replace their 20-year-old car with a 10-year-old model.
The influx of all this clunker cash into the new car market will also cause prices to rise as the market heats up with more new car buyers. Hence, where automakers were offering deep discounts to lure consumers into showrooms, they now can simply advertise that they'll give you $4,500 of the government's money for your junker-and ditch the deep discounts. In this scenario, the Cash for Clunkers program becomes a direct subsidy to automakers who can now sell cars at higher prices to newly cash-rich buyers. Again, if you never bought a gas-guzzler in the first place, this gravy train ain't for you, and all you get is higher new car prices.
Cars are like anything else. Throwing away usable things so you can replace them with new "green" products isn't green. It's just a way for you to feel good about being a consumer at a time when the world can no longer afford consumerism. Only now, the government will pay you to consume, and bless your new gas-guzzler with a green aura.
Sorry if this offends. I don't begrudge anyone who has decided to take advantage of the program. At the same time, I don't have to like the program itself.
07/23/09 10:35 - 69ºF - ID#49365
grrr...stupid weather, stupid Buffalo Pl
In other, better news, Social Distortion at Town Ballroom on Sunday 4 October. Mike Ness = good stuff.
03/23/09 04:54 - 34ºF - ID#48166
War Child, plus four
So, at the risk of starting one of these threads where everyone bashes everyone else's muscial tastes...
I've been listening to (in no particular order):
1. The new Morrissey record, "Years of Refusal" (great show last week too)
2. The most recent Death Cab for Cutie record, "Narrow Stairs"
3. The new Franz Ferdinand CD "Tonight" (unfortunately narrowly missed these guys in London....grr)
4. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs "Fever to Tell"
5. War Child presents "Heroes"
The fifth one is a compilation of songs--all remakes--sold (apparently) to benefit children in war-torn countries. The original artists, who are iconic rock artists, choose a performer or band from "the younger generation" to remake one of their classic songs. Beck does a fantastic version of Dylan's "Brand New Leopardskin Pillbox Hat," Hot Chip does a groovy take on Joy Division's "Transmission," The Hold Steady does their best impersonation of the Boss on "Atlantic City," Franz Ferdinand does a great version of Blondie's "Call Me," TV on the Radio reinterprets Bowie's "Heroes," etc. Lily Allen and Mick Jones's remake of the Clash's "Straight to Hell" has been stuck in my head for two weeks. There's other great stuff on there too (complete list of tracks here: ). Highly recommended!
So, what are you listening to? What are your current Top Five?
10/24/08 05:22 - 52ºF - ID#46307
Belated B-day, Belated Post
Hi to (e:matthew) -- spotted you at the gym but too late to say hi before you ran off. Ditto to (e:libertad).
Also, a special shout-out to chica who is treating me to a belated birthday dinner tonight -- can't wait, it will be fun. I've never been to DiGiulio's before but I hear good things.
Have a great weekend (e:strip)pers one and all!
08/27/08 10:12 - 56ºF - ID#45468
jbeatty's Omnivore 100
Incidentally I just read Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma. Great book. As a result of reading it I am really trying hard to buy locally grown, organic foods. Years of buying cheap, industrially produced food makes it awfully hard to pay 50 percent to 300 percent more for the good stuff, but having read the book in its entirety, it's hard to go back to the old way.
My VGT Omnivore's Hundred:
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile/ Alligator (as jerky)
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
10. Baba ghanoush
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
44. Goat's milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth $120 or more
47. Chicken tikka masala
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
60. Carob chips
66. Frogs' legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette (I think-in Korean soup)
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill (depends)
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
79. Lapsang souchong
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare (if you mean rabbit, yes)
90. Criollo chocolate
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
Wow! I'm just short of the halfway point. I'm looking at this as a glass half-full, though -- so many exciting things left to try!
Couldn't help but notice that there's no Ethiopian/Eritrean food on the list... if you're using these lists for inspiration, try a stewed meat flavored with berbere. Beg wat (lamb or goat) is particularly savory and delicious; mesir wat (lentils) is a good vegetarian option.
Also, no fine (traditional) wine on the list!
08/21/08 03:00 - 81ºF - ID#45396
update on the car situation
I am now officially sans auto! Carbon footprint: reduced a little bit more. And no worries about on-street parking this winter!
Of course the downside is that I'm now officially a ride-moocher. But hey, I sortakinda already was one anyway.
Chuck, I salute you! And thank you for your nearly seven years of faithful service. I'm sorry that tree fell on you during the October Storm of 2006. I hope your new owners, whomever they may be, will give you the tune-up and repairs you deserve. Or tear you up for parts...I suppose it doesn't hurt.
08/08/08 09:53 - 62ºF - ID#45274
update, and good "beater" car for $100
Long time no post... have had the busiest craziest summer in terms of work, plus the typical trying-to-take-advantage-of-good-weather-whenever-possible types of shenanigans in and around Buffalo. Highlights: Spiritiualized at Town Ballroom (utterly fantastic), Sam Roberts Band at ArtPark, Babik and Latin jazz at Bidwell, and getting caught in the downpour at Taste of Buffalo, plus a long weekend in Niagara Falls Ontario. Good stuff.
In other news: after some soul searching, I have decided: I am letting go of my car. I'm sure I'll regret this sometime in January, but I live close enough (2 blocks) from the NFTA rail station to make this work on a daily basis, and my gf has a car, so groceries and occasional trips to Hertel, Amherst, etc. remain fairly easy. The trouble is, it's been a good car to me, and I hate to see it go.
That said, anyone need a "beater"? There's nothing pretty about the car... it's a 1992 Dodge Spirit, sort of a grandpa car. Well, actually, it is a grandpa car -- it's a two-owner car (my grandfather and me) with just under 100,000 original miles. It's light blue and has a relatively clean interior. It needs a little work but nothing overly dramatic. Here's the skinny:
low miles for old car
4 cylinder with no known motor trouble
mechanic once said, "the only thing that'll stop this car from running is a tree"
front wheel drive, good in the snow
no serious accidents, ever; clean title
"The Dude Abides" bumper sticker
clunking right front end, needs repair (prob tie rod) immediately
needs tune-up to bring gas mileage to where it should be
trunk leaks a little
grandpa car -- see pictures below
some peeling paint
small dents in trunk lid and beat-up front driver's side fender (but all lights are intact and work, last I checked)
"The Dude Abides" bumper sticker
I'm looking to sell it for $100. I believe that after repairs it will still be a little less than what Edmunds would suggest is fair market value for the car. Obviously this is NOT a luxury car or something that will improve your social status in Buffalo. But if you need a set of four wheels, four seats, and an internal combustion engine to propel you around town, you're all set.
If interested, let me know ASAP by email.
NOTE: I am not interested in fixing the car to sell, I just want someone to take it as-is. I've got too much going on at work to spend the time fixing the car.
Here's a photo off the internet of another 92 Spirit, same color and styling, with representative wear-and-tear:
If you want to see the real thing, it's parked on upper North Pearl just north of Allen Street.
Here's a front-angle shot of a slightly cleaner 92 Spirit, same color and styling:
06/17/08 12:42 - 58ºF - ID#44689
Gay Men, Straight Women: Similar Brains
MRI and PET scan studies are showing remarkable similarities between the brains of gay men and straight women, and between those of lesbians and straight men. For example, the brains of straight men and of gay women share certain common features: both are slightly asymmetric, with the right hemisphere larger than the left, ... [while] the brains of gay men and straight women are both symmetrical.
Similar trends emerged when scientists tracked connectivity in the amygdala, the region of the brain involved in emotional learning and in activating the fight-or-flight response. They noted strong similarities between gay men and straight women, and lesbians and straight men.
rainbow brain image courtesy of stianrasmussen.com
06/11/08 10:51 - 69ºF - ID#44623
06/11/08 10:16 - 68ºF - ID#44615
Pride in the Name of Unicorns
Sunday was great fun. Started the day with a bike ride up Elmwood to Cecelia's, where we sat in the sun on the patio sipping drinks and eating brunch. Nothing like mimosas, Bloody Marys, and bacon to start your Sunday!
We timed it perfectly, settling the check as the Pride parade came up the street. Checked out the parade (sorry no pics), cheered a lot (Go Bears! ha) and collected a few strings of beads.
Next we walked up Elmwood and checked out the newly relocated Shoefly. A got a fabulous pair of Fluevogs on sale and I picked up a pair of boots for $50. They're great and it was the only pair left, and by sheer chance they fit (despite being 1/2 size down for me). What luck!
We walked up to Bidwell, looked over the scene, and settled down at Caffe Aroma for beers in the sun/shade, partially under the awning. Got a little bit fried (though not near as much as (e:fellyconnelly,44611) !) and sipped Rolling Rock from little bottles kept ice-cold in a bucket of ice (just five bucks for five beers during the soccer game!). Amazing people-watching at the corner next to the big tent, wow it was just so much fun. Among the people we saw were (e:paul), (e:terry), (e:matthew), (e:fellyconnelly), and (e:lauren)... and we had seen (e:lauren) walking ralphie on Saturday but we were whizzing by on our bikes and didn't have time to stop and fawn over the cute little SOB. ;-)
I did take one picture because I couldn't resist... a woman was walking her little dog and it had a t-shirt featuring a gay-pride rainbow with, yep, a UNICORN superimposed on the rainbow. I think even dogs are watching Planet Unicorn now! (see (e:jim,40361) ) Sweet.
Little dog with hard-to-see gay unicorn t-shirt catching some rays outside Aroma on Sunday
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