Saturday, May 29, 2010

28 of the Worst Money Saving Ideas Ever

This is a pretty funny article from The Consumerist.  You ever get a brainstorm on a way to save money, and it ends up blowing up in your face?  Yeah, me too.  This is a small list of some of the best examples sent out by people.  My favorites:

22. "Dollar store trashbags when I was fresh out of college. I could put like, a paper cup in the bag before it tore."  (Although I always try to be frugal, I shun the dollar stores.  Rule of thumb: you almost always get what you pay for.)

20. "My elderly neighbor used to rinse out used paper towels then dry them. Over her gas stove."

18. "We have a 5-cent tax on disposable shopping bags here in DC. A few people, in protest of the tax, go to Maryland or Virginia to get their groceries. So instead of either paying $1 one for a reusable bag or 5 cents each for disposable bags, you pay for gas to go to Maryland or Virginia. Plus, Virginia has sales tax on food, which DC doesn't."  (Although deeply amusing, I can't say that I'm surprised.  Americans can be real Polacks at times.  This one reminds me of when we weren't able to get France to support our Iraq invasion, and to "retaliate", Americans did things like buy French wine and dump it into the nearest sewer or drain.)

10. "Generic Oreos. NEVER AGAIN."  (I made this mistake once too, buying store's-own Oreos.  Although most store's-own stuff is nearly identical to the real thing, Oreos are a notable exception.)


5. "Letting my auto insurance lapse was a bad, bad idea, which I learned when I got into an accident... and then my wife got into an accident, three days later, with the same car.  (Letting the auto insurance lapse...sounds like someone I know.)

Friday, May 28, 2010

2010 Hurricane Season May be Worst on Record

An article from Yahoo, in which the NOAA is claiming that 8 to 14 hurricanes will hit this summer.  Also according to the NOAA, sea surface temperature in the Atlantic is up 4 degrees above average (and in the age of climate change, who really knows what the "average" actually is?)  And as everyone knows, warmer surface temperatures means stronger hurricanes. 

What is new this time around, of course, is the Gulf oil disaster.  All we would need is for a category 5, Katrina-style hurricane to come blasting through BP's ground zero, and everything within distance of the Gulf Coast would be treated to a massive shower of shit.  You'll need disaster teams just to scrape the oil from the Home Depot parking lot.  

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico

I'd been meaning to post about this, but hadn't been able to.  To sum up my feelings on it, I do think that it's a grave disaster.  I'd go so far as to deem it our Chernobyl.  I also don't think that anybody really knows how bad the damage will end up being.  Initially, BP said that a daily total of, what, 5,000 barrels was being distilled into the Gulf?  Now, it turns out that this is probably not true, and it can be as much as 75,000 barrels a day.  That could end up doing a lot of damage to our oceans, especially if the Gulf Loop ends up circulating some of that oil to the Atlantic.  The worst-case scenario can be, literally, an end-of-the-world type scenario, since our oceans are pivotal to maintaining the proper oxygen level in the atmosphere that we breathe.

Even if it doesn't come to that, the consequences can still be pretty dire, and those are just the ones that I can envision.  Just one is the supply of seafood.  I read that roughly half of the fish that are used for the world's seafood are found in the Gulf of Mexico.  If a lot of fish die, or are unsafe to eat due to toxicity from the oil, common everyday staples like shrimp may just become rare delicacies.  Another is the certain backlash to deepwater oil drilling.  This is a little more unpredictable.  As far as I see it, we are in a "damned if we do, damned if we don't" situation.  We can't afford to continue, but can't afford to stop either.  More ecological disasters like this are bound to happen as a result of deepwater drilling, but stopping now will only bring our day of reckoning (by this, I mean PO of course) that much closer.  To those who think we have all this easily available oil, I ask this:  If that is true, why are oil companies building these rigs in remote, hostile environments where oil is so much harder to get, and where presumably, it also takes more energy to access?  And where, also, spills like this are harder to contain, due to the water pressure in the Gulf?

Anyway, here is a good article on the effects of a hurricane on the spill.  And hurricane season is just around the corner.

Update:  This is an image from NASA of the spill:

2nd Update:  The National Geographic Channel (NatGeo) is airing a special documentary on the oil spill tonight (Thursday, May 27) at 10 PM ET. Check your local listings for the station.  

Monday, May 10, 2010

Death By Car

This is a blog that totally speaks my language.  It is called "Death By Car: Capitalism's Drive to Carmageddon".  I sometimes feel that humankind needed at least a little more time in the evolutionary process before discovering and using fossil fuels.  We might have been able to use them more responsibly.  As it is, we have already exhausted at least half of the oil reserves on this planet, and it does not seem as if we have nearly the time or the resources to switch over to some kind of alternative energy source, at least not painlessly. 

I feel that a strong case can be made that our coming reckoning with reality could have been averted were it not for the invention (maybe, if not the invention, than at least the widespread use) of the automobile.  Say what you will about the plastics, our toys, all the crap that is made with oil, cars have been (by far) the single foremost entity that is pushing us off the cliff.  After all, the invention and widespread use of the car led to the development of the suburb, a place where owning a car is mandatory.  You can't walk to the local market, the cafe, or your job.  You have to drive, sometimes at great distances, just to do basic, everyday things.  I shudder to think how much "liquid gold" would still be in the ground if the powers that be had decided on a different living arrangement for the American people than the almighty suburb.  I highly recommend reading Kunstler's "The Long Emergency" and "The Geography of Nowhere" (the former dealing with peak oil, the latter with suburban sprawl), he gives a great overview of these two interconnected issues.