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Thoughts on Sunday

Links, Thoughts, and Open Thread
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2008/8/10 12:36:04 (1163 reads)

Seems like all I've written this past week has been political. But that's not all I think about.

The Job
I started a new job a few weeks ago. It still has me mostly brain fried as I try to learn systems that are new to me. Seems like the simplest tasks have been taking me way too long, since I have to spend a lot of time looking for things. I'm told they don't expect me to be all that productive for a year or two. On Friday, I got some of my marching orders to carry me through till December. It will be nice to start getting a regular paycheck again. My first paycheck last week was only for about half of what I'll normally get, since it only had one week of the pay period on it.

As I may have mentioned, most of my team works in Scottsdale, AZ, but I'm working at a corporate office in Carrollton, TX. I get my work assignments by IM and Email, doing my work remotely.

I'm sitting in an area with a bunch of older women. Earlier this week, after being there for a couple of weeks, one of the ladies came over to my cubicle, and expressed concern about whether anyone was giving me work to do. I guess she thought I was in her group, and that somehow I was flying under the radar. I thought that was funny.

The Electric Bill
You folks in North Texas check your electric bills yet this month? Holy crap! Mine was $486, I think. Our rate had gone up to 17.2 cents per kWh. (You know, because the price of wind has gone up...) My house is small too - only about 1500 square feet. My next door neighbor has a two-story house, and his was $780. He and one of my block captains both have First Choice as their electric provider. First Choice recently decided to rape their customers by increasing their rates to 22 cents. And I thought Green Mountain was sticking it to me with the 17 cents.

Folks, if you are still with First Choice, you need to go visit and comparison shop the electricity providers. I took a look and noticed that a company called YEP Energy has a 12 month fixed rate plan at 14.5 cents per kWh, that is 100% renewable energy.

I'm thinking about switching from Green Mountain to YEP to save some money, but my one and only concern is whether YEP is financially stable. If your provider goes out of business, your service is switched back to the default provider, who can charge you whatever they want. For me, that would be First Choice.

Harbor Freight
There's a new store in Carrollton called Harbor Freight. It's a man's paradise. They sell all kinds of tools and equipment at bargain basement prices. They also carry solar power equipment. If you're into tools, check them out. They're on the Southeast corner of Frankford and Josey Ln.

But: just know that a lot of the stuff they sell is Chinese crap, that is inferior quality to what you might find at Sears. Be sure to open the box and check out any major purchases first.

As an example, I bought a reciprocating saw there on Thursday for a project here at the house. At $20, it was a heck of a deal, but I should have opened the package and checked it out. The housing was cracked and there was sawdust on the inside, indicating that it had been used.

More energy-efficiency work
So, after my huge electric bill, I consulted an energy efficiency expert who gave me yet more tips for how to reduce my bill. I may post our conversation at some point.

He suggested checking my attic ventilation to make sure that I was getting enough air movement up there. After discussing my setup with him, we determined the first step was to check soffit vents.

Soffit vents are the openings under the eaves that let air flow upward into your attic to cool the hot roof from beneath and reduce moisture. The entire western side of my house, which is the hottest part, had NO soffit vents installed.

So, using that reciprocating saw, I cut 9 openings along that side, and installed vent covers from Lowes ($1.89 each). It was a messy job, and I was covered with insulation and sawdust. But I can tell you that our house already feels more comfortable. I really hope that does the trick. I have some other soffit vents that need new covers. I may do that next week.

Recycle Bin
I think we're going to break down and order a second recycling bin from the city. The one bin, every other week just isn't enough for us. I'll try to cut down on the amount of packaging I purchase, but there's only so far I can go.

Ron, the Bearded Dragon
We've been enjoying my youngest son's new pet lizard, Ron. He's growing so fast. Yesterday, I caught a 1.5" grasshopper on the back patio, and we put it in Ron's cage. It is simply amazing to watch how fast he can leap over and catch these insects. We watched as it took him about a minute and a half to swallow the grasshopper. Mamask8z was concerned that he might choke on it, since we normally feed him very small baby crickets.

The Kids
We're shipping the kids off to stay with my Dad. It will be a nice vacation for us. Having them home all summer is just too much for the nerves. I'm thinking year-round school may not be such a bad idea after all.

The Olympics
The Olympics in Beijing started Friday. The air quality there sucks. The President was there for the opening ceremony, and looked bored. Consensus among the folks I know is that most of us just don't care one way or the other about the Olympics. Not boycotting it, just not giving a crap.

Activia (From the "Way too much information" department.)
The first 30 years of my life, I never paid attention to my bowel movements. Now I feel like I have this adversarial relationship with my colon. I suppose it's one of those things you take for granted until it quits working right. Mine is on a work slowdown, or some other kind of job action. I'll have this urgent need to go, and be running to get there, then be utterly frustrated to only expel something the size of a green bean or a malted milk ball. Then 2 hours later, it's the same thing again.

I'm hoping that this Activia yogurt will help somehow. Supposedly it helps you be "regular". Alright, I'm giving it a try, having eaten it for about 4 days in a row now. It tastes better than prunes, and is fairly inexpensive when you buy the super-mega-pak at Costco.

In the Neighborhood
We have some new across-the-street neighbors in the rental house. I keep meaning to take a six-pack of beer over there, but haven't found the right time.

For some reason, the Lewisville police went through the neighborhood a week or two ago - about 3 in the morning, and put tickets on all the cars that were parked facing the wrong way on the street. We live in a neighborhood with wide enough streets and low enough traffic that it really hasn't been any sort of problem. We've parked for years facing the wrong way because it's easier that way. Luckily, we weren't ticketed. And we've begrudgingly began to circle the block in order to park facing the right direction.

Kit and Mamask8z
Kit and Mamask8z have been walking the neighborhood twice a day every day for the past few weeks - sometimes 4 - 5 miles a day. I think it's great that they're getting the exercise. Plus it's good training for Mamask8z for her 3 Day Walk for Breast Cancer. Again, thanks are in order to everyone who has helped Mamask8z in her efforts to raise money for breast cancer research.

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U.S. Congressman Michael C. Burgess Report Card / Rap Sheet

The Editor's Column
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2008/8/9 22:45:32 (2868 reads)

I realized some time ago that I was writing a lot of posts on Michael Burgess, and not doing a great job of keeping up with everything. My bad. I'll use this post from now on for the "rap sheet" on Congressman Michael C. Burgess, of Texas' 26th District


Esquire Magazine Endorses Ken Leach over Mike Burgess

Blog Posts on WhosPlayin

Burgess gets Goose Egg from League of Conservation Voters

Burgess Talks Energy Efficiency, but pushes more Drilling.   (2008/8/7 22:50:21)

Michael Burgess Wants a Secret, Unaccountable Government   (2008/7/14 21:04:47)

Poll Results - For Whom We Will Raise Money   (2008/7/1 8:40:45)

Congressional Resolution for War on Iran   (2008/6/26 22:16:30)

Credit Where It's Due: Burgess Votes FOR Medicare Increase   (2008/6/25 14:05:20)

Burgess, Barton, Sessions, Granger Press Conference Backfires   (2008/6/18 20:48:43)

Progressive Blog Roundup   (2008/6/2 7:24:03)

Burgess Off the Mark Again   (2008/6/1 0:54:54)

Congress Votes to Stop filling Petroleum Reserve, Burgess Gets It Right   (2008/5/14 8:19:27)

Michael Burgess Votes Against Mothers   (2008/5/9 21:53:29)

Burgess vs. Leach - Texas 26th   (2008/4/28 9:23:53)

Michael Burgess is just "flat wrong" on taxes  Trace(2008/4/24 22:58:47)

Michael Burgess is just "flat wrong" on taxes.   (2008/4/23 23:32:58)

We don't need no education.   (2008/2/12 5:49:42)

Burgess Votes Against Stimulus Package   (2008/2/5 12:19:58)

Thoughts on SCHIP   (2007/10/23 7:07:30)

Burgess: Mercenaries Should Have License to Kill   (2007/10/5 21:12:15)

Burgess Snubs American Muslims over Ramadan, Votes to "protect" Christmas   (2007/10/5 18:21:20)

WhosRunnin? Not Me. Not Likely.   (2007/9/15 15:32:05)

Burgess Still Loves Bush   (2007/9/15 8:33:19)

Exploring for U.S. Representative, TX-26   (2007/9/6 19:19:21)

P.S.A.: Marine stuff   (2007/9/4 22:25:44)

Considering a War With Iran?   (2007/8/29 17:25:11)

Concerns about Iran - Burgess weighs in.   (2007/8/28 20:22:51)

Danger from Mercury or fear from Uranus? Compact Fluorescents (Updated)   (2007/8/8 17:54:16)

Burgess Votes Against Equal Pay Bill   (2007/7/31 19:52:48)

Hey Burgess - Your favorite general is not welcomed anymore in Iraq   (2007/7/29 16:11:05)

Texas Town to Allow Public Smoking of Weed  MexicoBob (2007/7/22 7:49:02)

Rep. Burgess still clings to "Market Driven" Healthcare Reform   (2007/7/18 22:40:02)

Sunday night download   (2007/7/15 22:49:57)

Summit and Fair on Energy Efficiency - Denton, TX   (2007/6/26 17:11:51)

A Call for Responsibility   (2007/5/24 19:23:10)

Michael Burgess votes to protect horses, abandon troops   (2007/5/1 20:18:44)

Most Americans Support Guaranteed Health Care   (2007/3/2 7:59:55)

Caption this Photo - U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess   (2007/2/21 22:21:13)

Burgess Blows off H.R.6 - Energy Alternatives - Blames Clinton...   (2007/1/31 20:49:15)

H.R.2 - Minimum Wage Bill Frustrations   (2007/1/30 22:09:43)

Rep. Burgess keeps foot on the neck of the working poor.   (2007/1/27 10:50:31)

Rep's Wife: You kids get outta my yard!   (2007/1/20 21:32:20)

Rep Michael Burgess is Anti-Life. Votes against life-saving stem cell research.   (2007/1/11 18:14:30)

Michael Burgess Retains Seat on Energy and Commerce Committee   (2007/1/10 18:13:05)

Will Michael Burgess Meet With Anti-War Constituents?   (2007/1/10 17:59:41)

Rep Michael Burgess' Statement on the Recommendations of the Iraq Study Group   (2007/1/4 20:34:23)

Thanks to Michael Burgess - Seriously   (2007/1/3 22:45:48)

Edging up on 3,000 Troop Deaths in Iraq   (2006/12/29 15:52:53)

Will Congressman Burgess lose his seat on Energy and Commerce? (updated)   (2006/12/10 2:39:34)

My son, the young activist. First letter to Congress   (2006/12/2 10:45:18)

My Thoughts About the 2006 Mid-Term Elections   (2006/11/11 11:21:13)

Michael Burgess ignores Air Traffic Controllers   (2006/11/10 17:28:17)

Why you should NOT re-elect Michael Burgess to U.S. Congress   (2006/11/5 13:38:34)

Michael Burgess using your tax dollars for last minute campaign push...   (2006/10/26 22:48:51)

Dallas Morning News Editorial Board Epitomizes Conservative Bias   (2006/10/17 22:48:54)

Michael Burgess likes PORK - Votes for every earmark   (2006/10/13 23:20:45)

The Doctor is In: Political Help from Michael Burgess   (2006/10/6 18:42:45)

Michael Burgess Drank Too Much Pharmaceutical-laden Kool-Aid   (2006/10/3 22:23:11)

British Petroleum getting heat from both sides of aisle.   (2006/9/10 10:23:46)

Michael Burgess Wasting Tax Dollars to Campaign with Tele-Town Halls   (2006/8/29 5:57:46)

Gays in the military? Burgess will "keep your thoughts in mind."   (2006/8/28 20:21:40)

Rep. Michael Burgess Town Hall Meeting 7/15/06 - Part II   (2006/8/24 22:53:25)

Rep. Michael Burgess Town Hall Meeting 7/15/06 - Part I   (2006/8/23 23:10:13)

New comments on the Fair Tax book   (2006/8/20 10:20:00)

Hutchison, Cornyn, Burgess, Marchant all vote for extortion of the working poor.   (2006/8/3 22:43:15)

Pollution Not Washington’s Job, Says Congressman Burgess   (2006/7/27 7:21:33)

Burgess' Bush Letter - Deconstructed   (2006/7/20 7:51:04)

Michael Burgess' fond admiration for President Bush   (2006/7/19 13:08:06)

Letter to Burgess about Guantanamo  ranfran (2006/7/7 0:34:01)

Congress saw its shadow - 6 more years of war...   (2006/6/16 19:35:28)

Texas Senators and Congressmen Environmental Dunces   (2006/6/2 18:40:20)

Preserving Net Neutrality - Who will? Barnwell, not Burgess   (2006/5/16 19:17:56)

Other Blog Postings

Michal Burgess supports making I-35 a TOLL ROAD.

Capitol Annex: Michael Burgess Loves Paris Hilton's Energy Plan 8/10/2008

- Michael Burgess lies to and insults local reporter: ... -burgess-insulted-me.html

- Disabled American Veterans scores Burgess a zero for his anti-veteran votes ... rating-burgess-votes.html

- Gullible Mike Burgess falls for GITMO dog and pony show, then says something utterly retarded ... compare-and-contrast.html

- Esquire Magazine says "Burgess, a lackluster congressman, is an MD who lives to limit damages in medical-malpractice cases. Shocking!" - Endorses Tim Barnwell ... orsements_2006_Texas.html

Gonzomuckraker reports that The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America has issued a report card on the Congress and who they feel has given our soldiers the support they need. Burgess' score: C- Are we surprised? ... n-vets-rate-congress.html

Consumers Union, publishers of Consumer Reports Magazine, scores Burgess 0% for his anti-consumer votes

Rep Michael Burgess is Anti-Life. Votes against life-saving stem cell research. ... g/details.php?blog_id=208

Burgess (hearts) the Wonderful, Wonderful Surge (WWS) ... rgess-and-mccain-bff.html

Burgess LOVES to BLOW YOUR MONEY on pork-barrel spending. Votes against reforms and for big government. ... ess-votes-against_12.html

Burgess VOTES AGAINST CHILDREN'S HEALTH CARE, wants to cut SCHIP program to insure needy children. ... en-abandon-poor-children/

Burgess continues to screw the middle class

Psst. Don't tell my constituents! (Videos)

Burgess argues for "flat" tax.

Burgess takes $1500 from Zachry (toll road construction co.) Republicans love them some inefficient toll taxes, don't they? Why? Because it's a way to take your money without having the balls to call it the tax that it is.

Various Photos

Click for detail and explanations

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Tell the Truth Please, John McCain

The Nimrods Never Cease to Amaze Me
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2008/8/9 18:38:51 (2887 reads)

If you work for a living, Republican tax and economic policies are taking money out of your pocket - whether you had to write a check to the U.S. Treasury or not. Inflation has out-paced wages, and energy costs take an increasingly huge bite. The interest rates you pay on your mortgage, student loans, and credit cards have gone up tremendously as the irresponsible fiscal policies of a Republican government come home to roost.

So, it chaps my hide when I hear people like John McCain, who ought to know better, flat out lying about Barack Obama wanting to "raise your taxes". Then again, they pretty much have to lie if they want any votes.

Today, via, Newsweek published a stinging critique and analysis of John McCain's untruthful assertions:

A TV spot claims Obama once voted for a tax increase "on people making just $42,000 a year." That's true for a single taxpayer, who would have seen a tax increase of $15 for the year – if the measure had been enacted. But the ad shows a woman with two children, and as a single mother, she would not have been affected unless she made more than $62,150. The increase that Obama once supported as part of a Democratic budget bill is not part of his current tax plan anyway.

A Spanish-language radio ad claims the measure Obama supported would have raised taxes on "families" making $42,000, which is simply false. Even a single mother with one child would have been able to make $58,650 without being affected. A family of four with income up to $90,000 would not have been affected.

The TV ad claims in a graphic that Obama would "raise taxes on middle class." In fact, Obama's plan promises cuts for middle-income taxpayers and would increase rates only for persons with family incomes above $250,000 or with individual incomes above $200,000.

The radio ad claims Obama would increase taxes "on the sale of your home." In fact, home-sale profits of up to $500,000 per couple would continue to be exempt from capital gains taxes. Very few sales would see an increase under Obama's proposal to raise the capital gains rate.

The truth matters, Senator McCain.

And the truth is that the Bush tax cuts, which you originally opposed, but now support, are just a small part of a large scale operation that soaks the middle class to give to the corporate welfare kings. It's a massive redistribution of wealth to the corporate aristocracy.

But, it's even worse because McCain reinforces another very negative aspect of something-for-nothing Republicanism, which is an unwillingness to pay one's fair share of the bills incurred by the government that serves and protects us. True patriotism involves more than slapping a ribbon magnet on your truck.

To be sure, I think we would all rather pay less in taxes, and nobody wants to raise more than we need. But we all want highways to drive on, parks to play in, and police, courts and prosecutors to enforce the laws. It gets progressively harder to do that when an increasing share of your tax dollars goes to pay debt service and interest on a record national debt of $9.7 trillion.

But hey, if you want to waste your vote in the ill-informed hope that you'll save a couple of bucks in taxes in the next few years - or that someday you'll be rich and you'd hate to put off buying that second Learjet, then go ahead. I'm pretty sure the IRS won't come after you for the profits on the stuff you'll have to pawn to make the rent when McCain's buddies outsource your job to India.

Read what Obama has to say about Fiscal policy...

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On the John Edwards Thing

The Editor's Column
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2008/8/9 11:43:49 (813 reads)

Yesterday morning, I was alarmed to hear that there was a brand new war brewing between Russia and Georgia. But that news was quickly pushed aside so that everyone could wallow in the news that a man cheated on his wife a couple of years ago.

Although I have some thoughts on it, my biggest thought is how tragic it is that this sort of thing matters more in our celebrity-obsessed culture than the myriad other real-life problems that affect us all each and every day.

Julie Pippert of Momocrats has just about the best writeup I've seen so far here: Top ten reasons I'm done with this John Edwards affair (and why you should be too)

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Burgess Talks Energy Efficiency, but pushes more Drilling.

The Editor's Column
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2008/8/7 22:50:21 (1243 reads)

You know, what I find very intriguing about our local Congressman, Michael Burgess, is that he is one of the few Republicans who shows that he understands the role of conservation when it comes to working at energy independence.. In this video on Congressional Quarterly, he spends quite a bit of time talking about efficiency and conservation before launching into the bit about drilling, and finally blaming Democrats for all the country's woes.

What frustrates me is is that though he knows how effective conservation is, he preaches that it's the free market's job to promote it. Though he knows how much our district here in Texas could benefit from increased renewables like solar and wind, he won't do much more than pay lip service. Yet, when Big Oil comes knocking on the door carrying those huge campaign contributions, he suddenly finds government action and expenditure necessary.

Case in point, on his Congressional website right now, Burgess is running a poll asking two questions, which I quote below in its entirety:

1. Do you think the House should come back from August recess and vote on comprehensive energy policy to help lower the price at the pump and reduce America’s increasingly costly and dangerous dependence on foreign sources of energy?

[ ] Yes
[ ] No
[ ] Unsure

2. Do you support the American Energy Act that will increase the supply of American-made energy, improve conservation and efficiency, and promote new and expanding energy technologies?

[ ] Yes
[ ] No
[ ] Unsure

How can you be against making Congress go back to Washington? How can you be against something called the "American Energy Act?"

Well, my answer is that members of Congress need to come back to their districts, and the bill ought to be called "Welfare for Old and Dirty Energy". Here is the bill: H.R. 6566 - The American Energy Act It's a litany of everything that is dirty, dangerous, or on its way out, looking for a government hand out in the form of externalized liability, discounted royalties, and opportunity cost. It's coal, it's nuclear, it's drilling in ANWR (yet again), and offshore drilling. It's denying states the right to stop pipelines crossing their own waters.

If you're not aware, a few Republicans have taken the opportunity of the summer recess in Congress to go back and pull a stunt to get some airtime and demand new drilling. It's pretty ingenious actually for these Republicans, who are largely responsible for the crisis we're in, to turn things around and take the offensive.

They will blame the Democrats for this. In fact Burgess, in his video, implies that since the largest spike in oil speculation started in late 2006, early 2007, that it MUST be the Democrats' fault, since that is when they took over control of the House and Senate. Democrats are to blame for somehow not forcing oil companies to drill anywhere and everywhere. Democrats are to blame for the fact that nobody has built any nuclear power plants for 30 years, even though they are subsidized, and despite the fact that they are the most costly and dangerous option?

Folks, these Republicans are like the used car salesman trying to tell you that if you don't buy this car right now, there's a lovely young couple that was also interested in it, and it just might not be there later.

We can wait a few weeks on this. That oil has been there millions of years, and it's not going anywhere. It belongs to all of us, and we should make sure we're getting a good deal all the way around before we sell it.

What we really need is to stop the silly pissing contest, put all the options on the table, and get real about what the future holds for America, and for the world when it comes to energy. There will be some things that we can do short-term, medium-term, and perhaps 10 years out, but long term, we're going to have to seek sustainability. And if the problem wasn't difficult enough, we have to weigh all of this against the impact on the climate, our security, our economy, and on our environment.

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Join Rick Noriega in Denton County - August 15th

The Editor's Column
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2008/8/7 21:32:55 (972 reads)

The South Denton County Democrats invite you to join Rick Noriega, Democratic nominee for US Senate at:

the home of Ben Briseno & Toni Medellin
8670 Weston Lane
Lantana, TX 76226

Friday, August 15, 2008
7:30 - 9:00 pm
sponsor reception, 6:30 - 7:30 pm

Sponsor tickets: $250
Tickets: $50

Please reserve tickets at

To RSVP for this event or with any questions, please email Phil Lovegren at or call at

(512) 472-7425.

Contributions or gifts to Rick Noriega for Texas are not deductible as charitable contributions for Federal income tax purposes. To comply with Federal law, we must use our best efforts to obtain, maintain, and submit the name, mailing address, occupation and name of employer of individuals whose contributions exceed $200 per calendar year. Contributions are limited to $2,300 per individual and $4,600 per couple per election.

Disclaimer: Rick Noriega is a member of the Army National Guard. Use of his military rank, job titles, and photographs in uniform does not imply endorsement by the Department of the Army or the Department of Defense.

Paid for by Rick Noriega for Texas

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Conservatives Mocking Conservation

Links, Thoughts, and Open Thread
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2008/8/6 23:00:01 (2163 reads)

I want to know just what in the hell has gotten into the charlatans of the right-wing echo-chamber that would make them think they benefit by mocking the idea of conservation. Perhaps I am just dense, having taken my education at public schools, but is not conservation a cornerstone of true conservatism? Apparently not, anymore.

And it pisses me off, because I've always considered myself a fairly conservative person - or at least one who aspires to be conservative - or one who conserves - one who first considers the cost, and acts wisely.

But, of course, that is not the case. So-called "conservatism" has come to mean something more radical. To be a conservative, these days, you must define yourself and your ideology by being gratuitously contrarian to your perceived political foe.

Tiresome tires

Of course, what has set me on this particular rant is John McCain and his merry band of miscreants mocking Barack Obama for daring to suggest that perhaps individual Americans could take some control over their own motor fuel costs by simply making sure their tires are properly inflated.

How Dare He?

How dare a candidate for President of the United States actually suggest that in some way Americans might actually do their part to reduce our country's demand for petroleum? How dare a politician ask any of us to lift a finger and take charge of our own destiny in some way or another. Personal responsibility of any sort? BAH!!! Not when there are billionaires waiting for a government subsidy to support a sunsetting industry.

How dare Barack Obama ask that Americans do anything to conserve resources? Doesn't he know that conservation is the bane of the self-appointed "real" conservatives who know much better than the free markets or the scientists or the petroleum engineers, or the geologists? These "conservatives" who have decided to annoint coal, oil, and nuclear (CON) as an everlasting solution to our energy problems?

No, it doesn't matter that Barack Obama has spent countless hours with experts from all of the energy disciplines, and economists. It doesn't matter that he has a comprehensive plan that combines conservation with incentives for renewables. It doesn't even matter that Obama has even taken the fairly un-dogmatic approach of suggesting that he could live with some added off-shore drilling. In fact, they despise that kind of open-mindedness as capitulation.

It's just downright pussified that a candidate for president would stoop so low as to waste a breath on something so ordinary and common sense as a 79 cent tire gauge that could save you 3.3% on your fuel bill. Even if it does cost $66 to fill up the mini-van, no real man would care about saving $2.17 a fill up. No sir. A real man will drive all over town to save 3 cents a gallon. A real man will drive down the new tollway at $3 per day and bitch about paying 18 cents a gallon to build freeways. A real man's man would take that damned tire gauge, pour a gallon of gasoline over it, and set it on fire in protest for such a silly notion.

We Should Know Better.

Yes, we should. We have been trained by these so-called conservatives. Wrong is right, up is down, night is day, and if they're saying it, then it must be the exact opposite of what a prudent government would do:

When the economy is in the shitter, say it's good, then start a war.

When attacked, retaliate against the wrong country. When it hurts the economy, don't ask Americans to do anything but go shopping.

When you're fighting the war, don't raise taxes, lower them. Somehow, lowering taxes brings in more money, and record deficits and national debt prove that.

Big Government™ is bad. Therefore, make it bigger and more intrusive. Government is inherently incompetent, therefore appoint incompetent political hacks to mismanage it.

Promote Democracy around the world, setting the example by chipping it away at home.

The Glorious and Benevolent Holy Spirit of the Free Market® is all-knowing and all-powerful; therefore, we must provide corporate welfaregive alms to it. (Because its angels lobbyists told us to)
Democrats are responsible for the current energy crisis, because:
- they control Big Oil
- They failed to stop Republicans from passing the Enron loophole
- They literally forced automakers to sell cars that get shitty gas mileage, even though Republicans, er - I mean "conservatives" wanted improved CAFE standards on new cars.
- They think protecting the environment is somehow worthy of setting aside more than a few acres of land on this earth where we can't drill.
- Democrats keep stirring up shit in the middle east. Conservatives just want peace and cooperation. Every time a Democrat wants to invade another country full of jibber-jabbering towel-headed brown people, wouldn't you know it, the price of oil goes up another ten bucks.

Not Buying It?
I'm certainly not buying it. I don't think most Americans are buying it. You'd have to be drinking a steady supply of that Kool-Aid to buy it. You'd have to listen to a mind-numbingly large amount of talk radio circular logic to buy that shit.

"Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less" makes for a fine trite little slogan that would fit nicely under that "W-04" sticker you still have on the back window of your pick-up, that you'll have to drive a few more years because you can't trade it in. But slogans aren't what we need.

You don't just poke a hole in the ground and get an endless supply of oil the next day. Unless you graduated from Messiah College, you probably learned in school that petroleum is formed under high temperature and pressure from the ancient and microscopic remains of sea life. It took millions of years to get there, and man kind has now pretty much reached the point where not only are there no major new reserves being found, but we can't continue to extract it at the rate we're using it.

Long story short, oil is not sustainable. The human race will have to survive in perpetuity, but at some point in the not too distant future, we will have to do so without oil.

So, knowing that even if we do open up certain federal waters to off-shore drilling, potentially at great peril (anyone remember the Exxon Valdez?) just for the chance that 10 years from now, we can squeeze a small percentage of our demand out into the world market, they still insist it will make a short term difference.

They say it's psychological. Yes, my friends, it's all about psychology.

I'll tell you all about the psychology of it, straight up.
- Energy policy is damned complicated.
- If voters really think about it too much, their heads will explode.
- Instead, right wingers will make a straw-man Democrat to blame.
- They'll distract you from the truth of their culpability by wailing about off-shore drilling
- They'll make it easy: Oil comes from the ground. Drill a hole, get oil. "Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less".
- They will most of all let YOU off the hook by not asking you to sacrifice anything.
- You will be asked to believe that you are entitled to never-ending cheap gasoline.
- You will be told that there is nothing wrong with your consumption.
- You will be told that it will cost nothing to fix the problem, and that it's all in their hands.
- They will discredit conservation by claiming it's just a ruse to somehow get control over you.

And having worked all of that psychology, they won't give you any time to question it all before they champion the cause, like they are the protectors of all that is good and holy.

They will do stunts designed to make it look as if they want Congress to reconvene immediately to get this drilling situation resolved. They will blame Nancy Pelosi. And though they will all get a three week summer break, having worked more voting days under Democratic control than they ever had to before, they will each act righteously indignant that "Congress" (meaning the other 434 members, and not themselves) chose not to act immediately to bring oil to market 10 years from now from offshore drilling.

An amount, coincidentally, that just may add up to the savings we could attain by just simply checking our tire pressures.

You tell me who ought to be getting mocked.

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Texas Republicans: The True Story

Posted by WhosPlayin on 2008/8/5 21:35:27 (962 reads)

Republicans in the Texas Legislature are all about touting their values and campaign slogans, like "Faith, Family, and Freedom." But, the real story is often much farther from the truth.

Today, a new website, Texas Republicans: The True Story, has launched to highlight some of the worst GOP incumbents in the Texas Legislature. In "honor" of the first five incumbents featured on the site, we've got a quick quiz for you. Let's see if you can match the incumbents we're featuring with their records before visiting the site:

1.) Who "stage managed" an effort to kill legislation that would have seriously hampered the ability of large corporations to influence Texas elections?

(a) Rep. Betty Brown; (b) Sen. Mike Jackson; (c) Rep. Dwayne Bohac; (d) Rep. John Davis; (e) Rep. Bill Zedler

2.) Who authored legislation to legalize horse meat for human consumption?
(a) Rep. Betty Brown; (b) Sen. Mike Jackson; (c) Rep. Dwayne Bohac; (d) Rep. John Davis; (e) Rep. Bill Zedler

3.) What legislator has such a poor record that Texas Monthly had to create an entirely new designation for them in their annual "Best & Worst" Legislators list?
(a) Rep. Betty Brown; (b) Sen. Mike Jackson; (c) Rep. Dwayne Bohac; (d) Rep. John Davis; (e) Rep. Bill Zedler

4.) What legislator was part of a citizens group that projected images of scantily clad women on the walls of a Texas courtroom during a hearing before a county judge?
(a) Rep. Betty Brown; (b) Sen. Mike Jackson; (c) Rep. Dwayne Bohac; (d) Rep. John Davis; (e) Rep. Bill Zedler

5.) What legislator said that a 44 percent increase in college tuition wasn't a problem for his constituents?
(a) Rep. Betty Brown; (b) Sen. Mike Jackson; (c) Rep. Dwayne Bohac; (d) Rep. John Davis; (e) Rep. Bill Zedler

Grab the answers here, and vote in the poll on the sidebar to help us decide which incumbent Republican to feature next.

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Updated: Is McCain Senile? Or Was It Just a Brain Fart?

Links, Thoughts, and Open Thread
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2008/8/4 17:07:36 (1626 reads)

Updated video:

Wow, he really seemed like a deer in the headlights here.

Forget for a moment whether you like him or not; did the guy just have a momentary brain fart like we all have, or is he senile?

The original video link posted was for another McCain video.

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Beware of "Free Energy" and the Like

Posted by WhosPlayin on 2008/8/3 0:20:00 (1041 reads)

Someone on one of the email groups I subscribe to asked about a device purported to save energy by connecting to your home's electrical panel. The response was so interesting, I got permission to repost it here. For years, consumers have been approached with all sorts of devices claiming either free energy, or miraculous savings, sometimes claiming to be suppressed technology. Just today, I saw a device for sale in the store claiming to increase gas mileage using magnets. Since the current energy crisis has had prices again on the rise, and consumers are hurting, the hucksters are at it harder than ever.

Bill writes:

Anybody know anything about this?

The device linked is the "Power Save 1200":
The Power-Save 1200™ is a small gray box that fits neatly next to your breaker panel, saves you money year after year and protects the entire home.

The Power-Save 1200™ was designed with the homeowner in mind, providing lower energy bills, increased motor and appliance life, as well as surge and lightning protection for all of the equipment inside of your house.

The company describes the device this way:
How Does the Power-Save Unit Work?
The Power-Save reduces the amount of power drawn from the utility by storing (in its capacitors) otherwise lost electricity (watts) caused by the inductive motors in your home. (Some examples of inductive motors are Air Conditioning units, refrigerators, freezers, washers, dryers, dishwashers, pool pumps, vacuum cleaners, furnace blower motors, fans etc.) The technology applied by the Power-Save 1200™ Unit supplies that stored electricity back to your inductive loads, thus causing you to decrease your demand from the utility. If you decrease your demand from the utility, your meter slows down, and you use less electricity. The thought is, you’ve already paid for that electricity, why pay for it and waste it when you can pay for it, store it, and reuse it again. This whole process is called power factor optimization.

Dan is an electrical engineer with 40 years experience, currently working in the renewable energy industry. He responds as follows:
Hello Bill,

The short answer: it doesn't do what you think. And no .. it doesn't and won't save you money on your utility bill. Any savings you might see are the result of installing a unit like this, then YOU and your family changing their use habits, consciously or not. The same would likely happen if the box were empty.

Long Answer:
In detail .. the answer to "why" isn't easy. It requires some technical explanation, which means using words not many understand .. but I'll try.

The box has a capacitor inside. What's a "capacitor" some may ask? It's an electronic component that's used for a variety of tasks, such as energy storage, or smoothing out "bumpy" electricity.

When an appliance such as a refrigerator or vacuum is operating .. they don't use electricity in lockstep with the "volts" (electrical pressure) and the "amps" (amount of electricity being "pushed") occurring at the same time. This device purportedly "fixes" this "problem". In reality, this out-of-step issue IS a concern to the power company, but the power company can't and doesn't bill you for it. Your meter reads only "real" power consumed, not any "imaginary" power this box claims to correct.

Think of a slinky attached to a small weight, such as a small brick. You pull on one end of the slinky, but the weight doesn't move until the slinky is stretched out far enough to overcome the friction between the brick and the surface on which the brick is resting. When this happens, the brick suddenly moves toward you until the tension in the slinky is reduced enough for the friction to once again take over, and the brick stops. If the slinky were instead a piece of heavy twine tied to the brick, the brick would move as soon as you pulled hard enough on the twine.

Electric motors (think refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, vacuums, fans, air conditioners, etc.) are something like the slinky. They don't use electricity the moment they "pull" on the electric lines. There's a hesitation in consumption between the applied "pull" (consumption) and the electricity being pulled on (so to speak).

This box is supposed to alleviate that and allow the "pull" and "supply" peaks to occur simultaneously. Problem is, every motor needs a different value capacitor to cancel out this effect. It's like buying clothing of all one size and expecting everything to perfectly fit every member of your family. Won't happen.

In reality, just being aware of the box changes peoples' usage habits. You're more careful when you DO use things. You turn off lights and appliances when not in use. This results in decreased energy usage, lowering your bill .. and you attribute the reduction to the magic box.

Yes .. it's UL approved. But note! UL approval doesn't mean it works. It means only that the parts inside have been evaluated for safety. Nothing more.

As to the "increased motor and appliance life, as well as surge and lightning protection for all of the equipment inside of your house."??? The box does contain surge suppressors, the same as any protective power strip. Will it protect your house and appliances from a direct hit on the lines? Consider this: if lightning jumps hundreds or even thousands of feet from cloud to earth, and can measure millions of volts and hundreds of thousands of amps per lightning bolt, will a device the size of a quarter protect your circuits? Of course not. These coin-size parts *will* absorb the little electrical "love taps" that come down the lines now and then .. but that's all.

Save your money and buy more insulation, fix the leaks in your ducts, your windows, and your doors. Install compact fluorescent lamps. Buy a quality air filter and change out your old one (if needed) .. and so on. They all have measurable impact on your electric usage.

As to this box? Let's put it this way. I'm an electrical engineer with nearly 40 years experience in power engineering and energy conservation. I don't now and never will own one of these. And yes .. I've checked them out at the request of others .. and have done so with lab-grade equipment.

So why do they sell them? Something about "one born every minute" comes to mind.

I hope this answers your very good question.


Any of our readers have any devices like this? Years ago, I saw some little plug-in devices like this on close-out at Home Depot. I bought them, and installed on my appliances. At the time, I didn't have any way to measure the effectiveness.

As with many things these days, this may be a case where marketing trumps science, even though there is some scientific basis for the claim. Inductive loads like motors on your appliances and air conditioning do benefit from installed capacitors, but many of these devices already have capacitors installed that precisely (or at least fairly closely) match the actual rating of the motor.

In other words, your $300 is probably better spent elsewhere.

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