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Category: rant

07/31/09 01:32 - 75ºF - ID#49426

just say NO!

How to make the clunker debacle ((e:chico,49418)) worse: throw good money after bad.

(Well, "good" depends on your opinion of government stimulus spending.)

From the Wall Street Journal Online:


House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) told Democratic lawmakers that a bill to transfer $2 billion in emergency funding from the economic stimulus plan to the program will be voted on Friday, according to a senior Democratic House aide.

The legislation would shift $2 billion from the $787 billion stimulus plan to the clunkers program, which appears to have exhausted its $1 billion in funding after just one week.

While the House, which is set to begin its August recess, will vote on the bill, the Senate is unlikely to do so until next week, according to Sens. Carl Levin (D., Mich.) and Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.). The Senate is in session next week.



No!!!
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Category: rant

07/30/09 04:15 - 78ºF - ID#49418

A Real Clunker

Mike Niman writes in this week's Artvoice about the cash for clunkers program and manages to capture some of my complaints about it (while also using a deeply flawed extended example from Cuba...).

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.



Amen, brother.

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.

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07/23/09 10:35 - 69ºF - ID#49365

grrr...stupid weather, stupid Buffalo Pl

Am angry that Buffalo Place canceled the Neko Case with Jason Lytle Thursday in the Square tonight! Naturally there was no rain or thunderstorms between 5:30 and 9:00 pm, precisely when the concert should have gone on. Periods of sunshine, even... so disappointing.

In other, better news, Social Distortion at Town Ballroom on Sunday 4 October. Mike Ness = good stuff.


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Category: music

03/23/09 04:54 - 34ºF - ID#48166

War Child, plus four

In keeping with (e:MrMike,48125) I'm wondering about influential records -- not necessarily autobiographical, but what are you listening to these days? Like, what are your current top 5 records/CDs?

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"

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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?


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10/24/08 05:22 - 52ºF - ID#46307

Belated B-day, Belated Post

Hi everyone, long time no talk/post/read, apologies, hope all is well or that you are hanging in there at the very least.

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!

Chico
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Category: food

08/27/08 10:12 - 56ºF - ID#45468

jbeatty's Omnivore 100

Thanks (e:jbeatty,45440) for providing this fun time-waster... it's making me hungry...

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:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile/ Alligator (as jerky)
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich

14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
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
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float

36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat

42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat's milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth $120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut

50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald's Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV

59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S'mores

62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs' legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette (I think-in Korean soup)
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill (depends)
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini

81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare (if you mean rabbit, yes)
87. Goulash

88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab

93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee

100. Snake

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!

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08/21/08 03:00 - 81ºF - ID#45396

update on the car situation

UPDATE: Regarding my '92 Dodge Spirit ("Chuck"): I was very tempted by (e:metalpeter) 's advice (i.e., enter the Dodge in the America's Fair demolition derby...see comments below) but went with a more boring option, sort of a variation on (e:mrmike) 's advice. Instead of trying to get money for it, I donated the car to the National Kidney Foundation's Kidney Cars program:

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.
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08/08/08 09:53 - 62ºF - ID#45274

update, and good "beater" car for $100

Hey friends,

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:

The Good


low miles for old car
4 cylinder with no known motor trouble
automatic transmission
good tires
reliable battery
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

The Bad


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

The Ugly


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:
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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:
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Category: science/lgbt

06/17/08 12:42 - 58ºF - ID#44689

Gay Men, Straight Women: Similar Brains

Interesting article in the Washington Post about some brain-imaging research. Don't know whether the study is any good, methodologically, but if there is a neurophysical similarity between gay men and straight women and between lesbian women and straight men, then... well, I don't know what exactly, but it's food for thought.

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.



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rainbow brain image courtesy of stianrasmussen.com
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Category: chores

06/11/08 10:51 - 69ºF - ID#44623

Drinking...

...an ice-cold brewski out of a brown paper bag really takes the edge off of fighting for dryers at the laundromat.

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mike said to grandma
I'm so glad you made it safely!...

mike said to grandma
I'm so glad you made it safely!...

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OMG welcome!...

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New years resolution to top (e:strip)?...