Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ignition Interlock Devices Sniff Your Seats, Hands for Liquor: Big Brother in Your Backseat

Big Brother in Your Backseat

Update 9/5: The article link by Sarah Longwell is no longer available at The Hill's website.

Most sober, sensible and sane people would overwhelmingly agree that the best way to curb drunk driving is to keep drunks at the curb, or as far away from the steering wheel as they can get. In her article entitled Big Brother in the Backseat, Sarah Longwell, Managing Director of the American Beverage Institute, reports on a new automobile technology that would sniff the seats and hands of all drivers, sober or not - to decide if the driver is drunk.

The author writes that a  “classic bait and switch” plan to keep drunk drivers off the road from Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) called the ROADS SAFE Act "would pour $60 million dollars of taxpayer money" into developing “a new generation of in-car alcohol detectors.” Although well-intentioned, such devices could  potentially risk leaving millions of  sober and or light-drinking drivers stranded alongside strip malls, nightclubs, restaurants, homes and driveways, workplaces and roadsides all across the country. The new generation of in-car alcohol detectors would be embedded in your steering wheel to sniff your seats, hands, and who knows what else to detect traces of alcohol in your car. Once a certain level is detected, the car would not start.

But what if your hands had hand sanitizer on them? Or you just had your nails done? Or you, the driver, were not drinking but the person groping you to your right (that's not ever happened to me, not even as a teen) in the passenger seat was totally sh*tfaced? While drunk driving is a serious problem, aren't there wiser, humane and civil solutions to make use of taxpayer funds that don't demonize sober and responsible drivers? Is putting alcohol detection devices in every car an “overreach and invasion of privacy that will deprive responsible adults of their right to enjoy a drink with dinner?”

Hell yes! And this ingenious, ominous seat and hand sniffing technology in your car may even be an excellent way for a few enterprising, public-private sector “thought leaders” and insiders to turn a mighty fine, profitable return by hooking up to the cash cow auto industry, too! On your taxpayer dime, of course.

Ms. Longwell also points out that while “alcohol detectors are a good tool for getting chronic drunk drivers off our roads”, we ought to be able to fight the problem of drunk driving without treating every American like a bunch of “irresponsible” alcoholics. If such a technology is available, why not limit it to the pool of “chronic” offenders instead of millions of non-lushes who drive?

In fact, why not kick social services programs to the curb, too? Perhaps all of those successful, good old fashioned, taxpayer funded alcohol rehabilitation programs that once employed millions of psychologists and social workers with good wages and benefits in alcohol and drug abuse prevention programs that flourished during the Carter administration years just aren't as profitable as an infinite supply chain of seat and hand sniffers to be installed in every vehicle from Detroit to the Delta from now to Kingdom Come?

Somebody has to prosper, and if this well-intentioned seat and hand sniffing detector is any gage of how far humanity has evolved in the emerging public/private partnership 21st century, drunk driving prevention, innovative technologies, and rehabilitation solutions that would be smart, humane, sensible and civil may have to take a backseat.

Party on (responsibly and safely), plebes!


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pink Flamingos - Marbles Trial with Judge Divine

(Very Special Thanks to Divine and John Waters)

Ode to Truth and Truly, Timelessly Offensive Art

"Is there any cross-examination? No? A very strange defense, I must say. Gentlemen, the verdict is guilty on all ten counts of first-degree stupidity."


“Connie Marble, you stand convicted of assholeism!”
-Judge Divine

From the brilliant writer and time-honored King of the truly tasteless director John Waters, the 1970's era Pink Flamingos is an all-time classic. Who will mold the delicate, impressionable minds of today's youth amidst stupid Nanny Staters and Groupthinkers polluting the intertoobes, TV and cinema? Ah, we'll always have South Park...

The South Park episode "The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs" has those bad boys writing a “vulgar, disgusting book with the sole intention of getting it banned by disgusting people”, a book SO offensive that nobody can read the first page without hurling - despite it being hailed a “literary masterpiece.”


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Chuck "Chop Shop" Schumer Itches for Cheap Labor Lobby Cure

(Very Special Thanks to Redbone)

U.S. Itches to Match Indian Outsourcing Wages to Third World Levels

Rash of Cheap Slave Labor Spreads to U.S. like Posion Ivy

Scratching News

Contact with sap from poison ivy, oak, and sumac causes a rash in most people. While the majority of skin rashes are a threat to individuals who come into contact with them, they are not dangerous to others unless they are caused by an infectious disease - such as shingles or scabies. Or the dreaded clap.

But poison ivy, like the deadly U.S. cheap labor lobby that uses educated U.S. citizens as human slave trade bargaining chips with third world hustlers requires prompt treatment to remedy relief to its helpless and unwitting victims. How did the United States devolve into embracing horrific slave labor practices? According to this No Slaves article, India thinks displacing American workers is "trade" and the U.S. is "protectionist". When there are not enough jobs for U.S. citizens, isn't it time to protect U.S. workers? 

Poison ivy is unusually similar to the hubris disease, in how its inhospitable, parasitic hosts skulk around dark places, hoping to continue their assault and avoid the watchful eyes of vigilant rangers wielding potent sprays and machetes to eradicate the disastrous, locally unsustainable effects on the local body politic. There are effective treatments for poison ivy and the unsustainable Neo-Frat Boy Corporate State. (Don't miss the video.)

In this Financial Times article entitled US matches Indian call centre costs, workers “are becoming as cheap to hire in the US as they are in India.” This should come as no surprise, as the H-1B visa is the ultimate rash that the Neo-Frat Boy corporate state has spread to inflict educated American citizens and replace them with cheap imported workers who are hired by foreign outsourcing companies here. So what are our “thought leaders” and legislators doing to eradicate the poison ivy patch aka the Neo-Frat Boy corporate State's disastrous, imported third world slave labor policies?

As U.S. Politicians like Ted Strickland continue to lure foreign outsourcing companies to their states on the U.S. taxpayer dime, others like Senator Chuck “Chop Shop" Schumer recently introduced a bill  that would tax businesses for transferring U.S. based call center jobs to foreign countries by charging them 25 cents for every service call placed abroad. With millions of educated Americans available, why are foreign outsourcing companies moving their operations to the U.S.? Will Schumer's bill discourage more labor arbitrage and foreign outsourcing companies from moving their operations to the U.S.?

The FT article explains:

The move to expand operations in the US also comes as protectionist rhetoric against outsourcers rises in Washington. Last week, Charles Schumer, a US senator, described Indian IT outsourcing companies unflatteringly as “chop shops”, a term referring to places where stolen cars are dismantled for their parts.”

Stolen cars, stolen jobs, whatever. But this is tough talk from Schumer, if nothing more than tough talk. Who will put the brakes on it? The antidote, of course, to treating this rash of cheap labor arbitrage is for Indian outsourcing companies to just entice more U.S. politicians to pony up American taxpayer money to “lure” foreign outsourcing companies to  their states and continue their race to the bottom where it can thrive right here in the Poison Ivy Patch of America.

Somebody is feeling the looooove. More stinging Man-Crushinomics on steroids?

Party on, plebes!


Thursday, August 12, 2010

FutureGen 'Old Clean Coal' Project Bags $1 Billion from DOE

 "How many billions of taxpayer dollars will we send down what is now just a hole in the ground before we recognize that pumping carbon pollution underground is nothing more than an industry pipe dream?"
-Dan Howells, Greenpeace

Old Clean Coal was a dirty old soul
And a dirty old soul was he;
He tried to filter and pipe CO2 down a hole
And instead it blew up a tree.
Every fiddler has a carbon credit to piddle
Some carbon credit swaps had he;
Oh there's none so rare, as polluted air
With Clean Coal for all Mattoon Illinois to see.

WASHINGTON, DC – President Obama gave a $1 billion enhance on Thursday to FutureGen, a “beleaguered” alliance aimed at curbing carbon dioxide pollutants created by burning coal to produce electrical power thorough an experimental, federally funded carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) project for Mattoon, Illinois. In a sudden shift of events this week, Mattoon dropped out of the project citing that it was “not in their best interest”. Mattoon was expected to serve as host of the experimental, jobs-creating, coal-fired power plant that would test whether carbon pollutants could be stored underground. The move is said to leave federal energy officials “scrambling to find a new site to store the pollutants.”

Is 'clean' coal really clean? If not, can carbon capture and sequestration technology (CCS) eventually be perfected to make coal become a leading American energy alternative at home and for export  abroad?

Jeff Biggers at the Washington Post explains What a Load 'Clean' Coal' is below:

Clean coal: Never was there an oxymoron more insidious, or more dangerous to our public health. Invoked as often by the Democratic presidential candidates as by the Republicans and by liberals and conservatives alike, this slogan has blindsided any meaningful progress toward a sustainable energy policy.”

He makes a compelling case against ever counting on coal mining becoming safe and clean for humans and the environment here:

Orwellian language has led to Orwellian politics. With the imaginary vocabulary of "clean coal," too many Democrats and Republicans, as well as a surprising number of environmentalists, have forgotten the dirty realities of extracting coal from the earth. Pummeled by warnings that global warming is triggering the apocalypse, Americans have fallen for the ruse of futuristic science that is clean coal. And in the meantime, swaths of the country are being destroyed before our eyes.
Here's the hog-killing reality that a coal miner like Burl or my grandfather knew firsthand: No matter how "cap 'n trade" schemes pan out in the distant future for coal-fired plants, strip mining and underground coal mining remain the dirtiest and most destructive ways of making energy.”

In his excellent article entitled Obama: The Making of a Clean Coal President, David Sassoon profiles both sides of the clean coal argument. While CCS “fits the limitless growth model like a glove, with the technology expected to double the size of the fossil fuel industry from its current size”, he speculates it will need two decades of government support to grow. In other words, the technology just is not there yet. A Department of Energy roadmap published late in the Bush administration (2007) projected that commercial-scale application of CCS would NOT be possible before 2030, saying:

"As a technology and a research discipline, carbon sequestration is in its infancy."

But the very real economic imperative of capitalizing on the abundance of  U.S. coal and patently owning 'clean' coal technology can not be underscored in these insecure economic times, as Sassoon explains that the Democrats are looking to the legacy energy industries which have another advantage:

They play powerfully inside a global economic system built on the assumption of limitless economic growth, and which is in dire need of boost in the wake of the US mortgage crisis. The coal supply remains a commodity that needs to be mined, shipped, exported and traded — a BTU bonanza for the nations that have it in abundance like the U.S., Russia, China, India and Australia.
Further, with China already leading the world in the export of solar and wind hardware, CCS offers the prospect of being an exportable big ticket advanced technology that even the Chinese will want to buy.”

So until 2030, President Obama may well believe – fervently and unconditionally – that government investment in clean coal technology is essential for our domestic economic growth and global climate sustainability.  Fair enough. You might call the phantom 'clean' coal the Skunkworks of polluting DIRTY coal development or the Manhattan Project of pollutants... But if all goes well, and at least until 2030 - it looks like we're stuck with plenty of DIRTY coal, and the choice of continuing to burn it and keep polluting the planet.

So what's next? Eli Kintisch from Science Insider explains below:

"Now, with $1 billion in stimulus funds, DOE has announced FutureGen 2.0—with decidedly less-aggressive goals. The project will retrofit an existing plant that burns the coal as solid coal—the old-fashioned way, pulverized into fine powder. But it will do so in burners full of rich oxygen, so the coal is burned more fully and produces a nearly pure stream of CO2 and water vapor—making the CO2 easier to collect and store than in traditional plants.
So instead of focusing on new technology for brand-new plants, the move emphasizes the need for understanding the decidedly less-sexy chore of creating retrofits for the coal plants that run today."

In the meantime, will dirty coal plants here and in countries around the world be fined for polluting? Will China, for example, be purchasing plenty of carbon credits in the near term? If we really care about the environment, dirty coal is not the way to go.