Insomnia Log

This is what keeps me awake at night???

Who needs sleep? (well you’re never gonna get it)
Who needs sleep? (tell me what’s that for)
Who needs sleep? (be happy with what you’re getting,
There’s a guy who’s been awake since the second world war)

-- words and music by Steven Page & Ed Robertson

Location: Boulder, Colorado, United States

Everything you need to know about me can be found in my posts

Sunday, November 25, 2007

We Can Work It Out

It's gotten to the point where most global warming deniers are agreeing that global warming is indeed happening. However, one of the most common songs is that there is no proof that humans are the cause.

Of course, there is plenty of proof. However, this comes down to a matter of philosophy. If humans aren't the cause, then we can't be expected to do anything about it. We just blame it on nature and then sit back and wait to "adapt".

However, if we accept that humans are contributing to global warming, it is incredibly empowering. If we can cause the problem, we most certainly can at least mitigate that problem. Isn't that a much better attitude?

Here's the rub. If we are causing the problem, then there seems to be some kind of moral imperative to address the problem. And that might mean that someone will suggest that they make a lifestyle change, or will impose a new tax or regulation. If you deny the problem, then you can deny any solution you don't like as more socialist conspiracy. And you can turn a purely scientific discussion into a political one.

Ok, three posts in a row with titles taken from Beatles songs. The first two were coincidence, but I'll admit the third was deliberate.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Baby You Can Drive Your Car

I heard something on the radio a couple days ago that really disturbed me. No, it wasn't a bad cover of a Beatles song. It was an ad for Allstate car insurance.

Yes, with Allstate Green, you no longer have to feel guilty about driving your car as much as you want. When you sign up for this option, Allstate sends $30 to, which in theory "offsets" the carbon dioxide emitted from your driving for a year.

We already know what I think about carbon offsets. And here is a prime example of why. You sign up one time for this plan. The reduction in guilt costs you nothing. In fact, Allstate donates money to cover one year's worth of carbon, but you might as well take credit as long as you have their insurance (or until this darn drought ends, which ever comes first).

Allstate gets you on electronic bill paying (part of the plan), which saves them more than enough money to pay for the discount you get plus the one-time donation.

So, sounds like a win-win, right? You get a discount on your insurance (which you could have gotten anyway), Allstate gets you committed to an electronic bill payment plan, and some solar energy or tree planting project gets a bit more cash.

Except, you have one more reason not to worry about reducing your driving. Your miles have already been offset, so they don't count. Kind of like when you sign up for Weight Watchers, and the calories you eat don't count any more. But you know they do.

Face it. This is only a marketing ploy by Allstate to jump on the green bandwagon. In fact, if you want the lower insurance rates, go ahead and sign up for automatic bill pay (it is greener, but recognize that it will be harder for you to cancel or change your insurance carrier). And, drive less. Today, insurance companies charge you a bit less for cars that aren't driven as much.

In a promising development, a few states (not Colorado) have experimented with something called Pay-As-You-Drive insurance. This is a plan in which your insurance cost is directly based on the number of miles you drive (e.g., a few cents per mile). Such plans are shown to reduce consumer costs by giving consumers more control over how much they spend on insurance, while also reducing number of miles driven. Sounds like a great idea -- cut out the fake green and actually do something constructive.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Revolution Number IX

When I'm at parties, people often ask me what my favorite Constitutional Amendment is. Free speech perhaps, or maybe the right to bear arms? Or maybe it's that whole protection from unreasonable search and seizure thing?

Well, I always tell my cocktail acquaintances that my fav is without a doubt Number Nine. And the reaction is always the same. What, is that the one that gave women the right to vote?

It turns out that the Ninth Amendment is "none of the above". That's right, it is the amendment that protects all the rights that aren't covered anywhere else.

Back when the Constitution was being written, there were some folks who argued against having a Bill of Rights at all. They were concerned that if you listed a specific set of rights the government would just assume the right to everything not on the list. So James Madison came up with this clever idea, which was enshrined near the bottom of the list:
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
In other words, just because something wasn't explicitly listed as a right it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. For example, the right to privacy is not listed explicitly anywhere in the Constitution, although it is certainly hinted at in the First, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments. The Supreme Court ruled that the right to privacy is indeed protected.

So, thanks to James Madison and the other Federalists for putting an escape clause in there to protect the rights that are "basic and fundamental and so deep–rooted in our society" that they didn't think they would need to spell them out.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Six Votes are Better than Seven

I discussed my choices for the Boulder city council election recently.
And, even though we get to vote on candidates for seven seats, I plan on only voting for six.

I came up with six candidates at the top of my list, and three not quite as strong. However, each of those three (Appelbaum, Cowles, and Osborne) is a pretty strong candidate with a reasonable chance of winning a seat (although none of them is a shoe-in). Osborne is the most highly endorsed candidate. The other two have significant city government experience (Appelbaum as a previous council member), and have as many endorsements as two of my favorites.

This means that a vote for any of these three could bump them up over one of my favorites. Therefore, a vote for one of my second tier selections could actually be a vote against one of my first tier selections. If I voted, for example, for Macon Cowles, he came in seventh place, and beat Larry Quilling by one vote, I could have cost big Larry the seat.

So, I suggest if you have some favorites that you consider not voting for candidates that you may not feel as strongly about.

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