Average score since September 18, 2007: 73.4%
Some of the questions are pretty esoteric. I guess I should have read more of the heavy philosophers so I could understand the real, underlying reasons for shooting at revenuers.
John McCain has proposed a “Cap and Trade” scheme to help save the world from Global warming (see post below). Let me try to explain in simple terms that even I can understand, just what this means.
First, there’s carbon, in the form of carbon dioxide. When Mr. McCain proposes limiting carbon emissions, you bet he isn’t talking about the black solid stuff. That’s called coal, and is used for fuel in a process called combustion, or if you are a simple rock-banger like me: fire. Now there are two types of fire, the traditional type used for cooking or transportation, and the lower-level, but no less important kind called metabolism, without which you become a candidate for use of the first kind, which changes your status from “member of society” to “food”.
“Cap and Trade” refers primarily to the first kind. You burn carbon (mostly) and in return you get cooked food, transportation, and a warm place to sleep. So far, so good. Under the proposed scheme, everybody will be given a ration card (allocation) for an arbitrary amount of fire (permission to burn carbon). Some will need more than their allocation, and some will need less. Maybe you agree with Pope Al that the world is getting warmer, and decide to drive to Jellystone park for a summer vacation, betting that winter will be warm, and you won’t need permission to burn extra carbon to heat your house in December. If you’re wrong, and you have some money, you can buy permission to burn carbon from someone who doesn’t need as much heat or transport as you, say the Cuban government. Of course if you don’t have money, you may have to sit out the snowfall wrapped in blankets at home. Remember, any powered transport at all requires a ration card to use. Hope you live close to work.
Speaking of work, note that businesses are also included in this plan. In fact, they’re the primary targets of it. Imagine that the company you work at, say Acme Widgett, needs to produce 4 million widgets a year to cover their expenses, including, but not limited to, your paycheck. Now, imagine that the amount of fire allocated to them by the Dept of Fire, falls a bit short of what’s actually needed to produce those widgets. First off, nobody gets a raise next year, as the money is necessary to buy more fire rations. Second, some of the employees will be let go, for the same reason. Third, unpaid overtime will be required, and lastly, the factory will be relocated to some place where all you have to pay for is the energy, and not some damnfool permission slip to actually use it. Places like this are, universally, in another country, and you can bet they won’t pay to relocate you there, even if you actually wanted to go.
So Cap and Trade is actually an all-encompassing tax on fire in pretty much any and all forms, coupled with an arbitrary, and decreasing limit on how much can be used for any purpose, independent of population shifts or anything else.
Imagine a utopian future in which Winter is cold, Summer is hot, shelter is a cave, and food is killed with a pointy stick and eaten raw, as nature intended.
I love a good hoax. Properly executed, they provide entertainment by causing some folks to behave irrationally to the amusement of others. The scale is only limited by the means of communication for the thing. One of the largest was H.G.Wells radio broadcast of War of the Worlds. My own personal favorite in recent history was the “Bananas-as-a-hallucinogen” hoax of the late 60s. Think of them as the practical jokes of the mind.
They can be abused, however, and when this happens, they transform from a relatively harmless hoax to an outright fraud, the difference being that a fraud is perpetrated to separate someone from their life, liberty, or property, and is a crime in most societies.
Historic frauds include various end-of-the-world scams involving perps predicting the imminent demise of everybody, and promising salvation, or something, to anyone who would turn over their soon-to-be-worthless worldly goods to them. Several of these turned out not too badly when the instigators, apparently believing their own prophecies, neglected to leave town in a timely manner with the most portable of the worldly goods, and were treated to their very own apocalypse by their former devotees.
I am NOT advocating that anyone set out to make their living by becoming a professional grafter, but if you must, the best way to run one of these is to describe some vaguely defined, but definitely bad outcome that can only be forestalled by a modest, but regular sacrifice. Money, for example. An example of this is the ongoing NPR fund drive, without which, NPR would have to rely exclusively on taxpayer funding. Donate, they say, or else we’ll be shut down. Unlikely, I say.
The best scam yet, millennial division, has to be Global Warming. For this, you pick a phenomenon that’s been going on since the rocks cooled, and inform people that unless they sacrifice mightily, the phenomenon will …. keep on happening, but you won’t like it. The threat is so nebulous that anything at all can be used to “prove” it, and the consequences so awful (Canadian wine, Manhattan populated by gondolas) that no tax is too high, no regulation too onerous, and no bureaucracy too useless if it forestall the coming doom.
Here is a list of things that will happen, or might have already happened, as a result of global warming. For myself, I suppose I can tolerate the beer shortage . I’ll drink rum and suffer.
When I started this blog, I really didn’t want to get wrapped around the axle of politics, but in an election year, I suppose it’s unavoidable, especially in light of my own interfaces with the forces of bureaucratically imposed mediocrity.
I am a born tinkerer. I recently found a picture of my very first motorcycle, which I built when I was in high school. This thing started as a Huffy 3-speed bicycle, and I added a 3hp horizontal shaft lawnmower engine. The go-kart clutch and sprocket set from Sears drove into what was formerly the pedal crank, and from there back to the rear hub. No one ever warned Sturmey-Archer there would be days like this. You had to shift very carefully, lest you strip the innards out.
I actually licensed the thing. This involved visiting offices across 2 counties and 5 municipal districts, which I accomplished easily by driving the thing from office to office. At the end of the day, I had my plate, and was asking myself why I had bothered, as not a single cop had so much as looked at me twice, and they had all seen me at least once.
Later I branched out into trikes. They seemed so easy to make, and they were. After the first one I knew most of the things to avoid, and I had a good handle on what the DMV wanted, and what it actually needed, which are 2 entirely different things.
After 3 VWs, I built one from a Buick, and learned that the CO DMV understood what a VW trike was, and had no problem with it. If you say “Just like a VW trike.” the faces go slack and the approvals are forthcoming. If you suggest you have anything more than just passably different, the wheels grind quickly to a stop.
When you visit the DMV, repeat the magic mantra of approval:
“Just like a VW trike.”
“Just like a VW trike.”
“Just like a VW trike.”
You’ll be out in half an hour.
My last vehicle was sort of a doctors thesis in bureaucratic management. This one was made from a Subaru, and featured 2 wheels in front, and one in back. No matter what I said, I could not convince anyone that this was even remotely like a VW trike. The dickering over the paper on this thing ran 2 months, and included an engineer’s negotiation (pissing contest) with the deputy director. In the end, I got my paper, but was required to add in floorboards, a windscreen, and a windshield wiper on my 3-wheeled motorcycle.
The documents I had to produce were a stack nearly half an inch thick, and the process ate up valuable summer development time, so some of the bugs never did get sorted out. The D.D. also wrote out a 3-page “office memo”, which in his case carried the weight of statute law without involving a bothersome legislature or Governor, defining what constituted a “3-wheeled motor vehicle” in the state of Colorado, overriding existing statutes. Needless to say, my Subie did NOT meet his specs. Fortunately, this sort of meddling is limited to the tenure of the wonk writing it, and he’s long gone. The other day, I believe I saw my old Subie with the bugs worked out, cruising down the road. Victory for the good guys!
The point of all this is that I have a couple of ideas bubbling on the back burner, which might get started at some point.
At this point, politics, again, raises its ugly head.
The Federal government is not permitted by the constitution to actually do very much, but since FDR, has figured out how to grow and justify the growth. Each state sends money to the Feds, and the Feds spend a modest part of it on stuff they’re supposed to do: Provide for the national defense, maintain the patent office, and regulate commerce between the states, for example. After that the money is returned to the states, in approximate proportion to what was sent, but with conditions attached, and after some percentage is removed. If a state wants to improve its roadways, for example, it must know what to kiss, and how much tongue to use if it wants to see any of its money. In our case, road repairs came at the price of putting half the money into a trolley system that primarily benefits the mayor of Denver, and a requirement that the newly widened roads be restricted to their former width during peak usage hours, to promote car pooling. The upshot is that we only got ½ the roadways we thought we paid for, and most of us aren’t allowed to use them when we need them most. For this, we re-elect our congressmen.
By my own count, restricted access, or “carpool” lanes serve about 4% of the motoring public, and take 33% of the available pavement. The trolley system takes another 2% of the commuters off the streets, according to their own usage stats. This is good enough to get their funding increased every year over any voter objection.
Carpool lanes, being social engineering at its worst, the permitted users have been expanded from carpoolers (2 old ladies in a Caddy going gambling) to motorcyclists,
who are already at 50% capacity, and hybrid vehicles. So far, I do not believe the Smart car qualifies for the Birkenstock lane, as it’s not a hybrid, but I’m sure that’s coming.
In the summer, I really enjoy the carpool lanes on my motorcycle, bombing along at 50 mph while the peasantry is parked, watching me go by. My biggest fear is that frustration will overcome the fear of the $40 ticket, and someone will pull into my lane in front of me. This frequently happens, and the police have turned commuter frustration into a cash cow at certain locations.
In the winter, the state frequently neglects to assign me a rider to carpool with, and my employers recklessly neglect to hire people in contiguous neighborhoods, so I’m stuck in my car, alone, and wasting gas.
Remember that motorcycles are allowed among the anointed all year round. Now, what if someone were to take a Geo Metro, to keep this simple, and replaced the rear axle with a single wheel. This can be registered as a homebuilt motorcycle. With heater, defroster, windscreen, doors, cupholders, and everything, suitable for getting to work in the icy grip of global warming.I’m starting a new job, close enough to ride a bicycle to, and not subject to any restricted lanes in any case, so the urge to do this has dropped off. I am available as a consultant, should some daring soul feel up to fighting the DMV dragon.