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All manner of schtuff

Boy, give money to the Democrats and all they can say is "thanks, now send more." *grin* Still, I just hope it's money well spent.

Of course, my dragons:

Adopt one today!

Adopt one today!

Adopt one today!

Adopt one today!

Adopt one today!

And I got this one by accident (I was trying to click a silver one, and the screen changed on me)... I'm not sure whether to abandon it or not, now that I have it...

Adopt one today!

I even joined the dragonspam community. Well, it's a hobby.

Why is it, when you order books from a series from Amazon, they send Book Six BEFORE Book Five?



Op-Ed Contributor
Save the Environment: Drill, Baby, Drill
By ROBERT HAHN and PETER PASSELL
Published: September 14, 2008

The audience’s mantra at the Republican National Convention — “drill, baby, drill” — reflected deep frustration with Washington’s decision to lock down tens of billions of barrels of oil under American territory in an era of $4-a-gallon gasoline. Whatever the merits of his argument, Barack Obama’s response that “drilling is a stop-gap measure, not a long-term solution” won’t make the sting go away as long as it costs $100 to fill the tank of a pickup truck.

The crux of the matter is how accelerated drilling would affect gas prices, now and in the long term. And the conclusions of our latest research aren’t likely to please true believers on either side. We found that full-speed-ahead exploitation of the restricted oil reserves would lower prices at the pump by a few cents at most. Nonetheless, it’s equally clear that the failure to develop these oil resources would cost the state and federal governments hundreds of billions of dollars in royalties and taxes. It would also, paradoxically, pass up an opportunity for a grand bipartisan bargain — going far beyond the deal to open up some coastal drilling that Congress is expected to vote on this week — that could preserve or restore huge swaths of wilderness that are a top priority of serious environmentalists.

Our projections are based on government estimates that some seven billion barrels of oil could be extracted from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and a whopping 11 billion barrels could be had from the restricted offshore sites. That translates into an extra million barrels a day in the year 2025 — one-sixth of the total projected domestic output.

A big deal, right? Not in the context of the current political debate. The markets in which oil prices are determined are global, not local, and the extra million barrels would represent less than 1 percent of total world consumption in 2025. Thus we estimate that the million daily barrels would lower the price of crude by just 1.3 percent, which few consumers would even detect against the background noise of the weekly ups and downs of fuel prices.

To many, that’s the end of the story. Why open a fragile ecosystem to drilling if it wouldn’t materially reduce Americans’ fuel bills? A good answer requires a shift in perspective, from the current focus on gas prices to a more comprehensive economic framework for weighing the public and private benefits of drilling against the likely costs.

Assuming that crude will still be selling for $100 a barrel down the road, we estimate that the oil from two new sources would be worth close to $1.85 trillion. Add to that the extra benefit to consumers of paying slightly less for imported oil and economic gains from being less vulnerable to supply disruptions, and the total benefit exceeds $2.1 trillion.

On the other side of the ledger, the expected costs of developing all that oil, including cleaning up environmental damage, would amount to a bit less than $400 billion. So, at a first cut, the decision to drill seems an economic no-brainer.

Why, then, the controversy? Many environmentalists argue that this calculation leaves out the biggest cost of all: the loss of the intangible benefits Americans get from knowing that the Alaskan refuge and outer continental shelf have been left untouched. Indeed, economists spend a lot of time thinking about such “non-use values,” if not much time agreeing on them. Still, our best attempt to get a fix on the non-use value of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge yields a figure of just $11 billion. In sum, this leaves about $1.7 trillion in tangible net benefits, so most people, one would guess, would still find the case for drilling to be compelling.

Some people, however, attach a much, much higher non-use value to the Arctic refuge, and their opinions count a lot because they are well represented in Congress. So here’s a question for them: If a big chunk of that $1.7 trillion could be spent on preserving wilderness that didn’t happen to sit astride vast quantities of oil, would you really choose to spend it on keeping human hands off the currently protected sites?

One could imagine a political bargain in which several hundred billion dollars went into a fund with a charter to preserve wilderness in the United States, or climate-stabilizing rainforests in Africa and Latin America. As little as $100 billion would go a long way: the projected cost of preserving the entire Everglades against the encroachments of the Florida economy is $11 billion, while a comprehensive restoration of 200,000 acres of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands would run to $18 billion.

For better or worse, “drill, baby, drill” is now widely viewed as the cure for what ails. Giving the public what it wants wouldn’t lower gas prices by any meaningful amount. But it would create an opportunity to move public opinion (and huge sums of cash) in the direction of good environmentalism and good economics.

Robert Hahn is the director of the Reg-Markets Center at the American Enterprise Institute. Peter Passell is a senior fellow at the Milken Institute.

And this one REALLY struck a chord with me:

Op-Ed Columnist
Making America Stupid
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Published: September 13, 2008

Imagine for a minute that attending the Republican convention in St. Paul, sitting in a skybox overlooking the convention floor, were observers from Russia, Iran and Venezuela. And imagine for a minute what these observers would have been doing when Rudy Giuliani led the delegates in a chant of “drill, baby, drill!”

I’ll tell you what they would have been doing: the Russian, Iranian and Venezuelan observers would have been up out of their seats, exchanging high-fives and joining in the chant louder than anyone in the hall — “Yes! Yes! Drill, America, drill!” — because an America that is focused first and foremost on drilling for oil is an America more focused on feeding its oil habit than kicking it.

Why would Republicans, the party of business, want to focus our country on breathing life into a 19th-century technology — fossil fuels — rather than giving birth to a 21st-century technology — renewable energy? As I have argued before, it reminds me of someone who, on the eve of the I.T. revolution — on the eve of PCs and the Internet — is pounding the table for America to make more I.B.M. typewriters and carbon paper. “Typewriters, baby, typewriters.”

Of course, we’re going to need oil for many years, but instead of exalting that — with “drill, baby, drill” — why not throw all our energy into innovating a whole new industry of clean power with the mantra “invent, baby, invent?” That is what a party committed to “change” would really be doing. As they say in Texas: “If all you ever do is all you’ve ever done, then all you’ll ever get is all you ever got.”

I dwell on this issue because it is symbolic of the campaign that John McCain has decided to run. It’s a campaign now built on turning everything possible into a cultural wedge issue — including even energy policy, no matter how stupid it makes the voters and no matter how much it might weaken America.

I respected McCain’s willingness to support the troop surge in Iraq, even if it was going to cost him the Republican nomination. Now the same guy, who would not sell his soul to win his party’s nomination, is ready to sell every piece of his soul to win the presidency.

In order to disguise the fact that the core of his campaign is to continue the same Bush policies that have led 80 percent of the country to conclude we’re on the wrong track, McCain has decided to play the culture-war card. Obama may be a bit professorial, but at least he is trying to unite the country to face the real issues rather than divide us over cultural differences.

A Washington Post editorial on Thursday put it well: “On a day when the Congressional Budget Office warned of looming deficits and a grim economic outlook, when the stock market faltered even in the wake of the government’s rescue of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, when President Bush discussed the road ahead in Iraq and Afghanistan, on what did the campaign of Senator John McCain spend its energy? A conference call to denounce Senator Barack Obama for using the phrase ‘lipstick on a pig’ and a new television ad accusing the Democrat of wanting to teach kindergartners about sex before they learn to read.”

Some McCain supporters criticize Obama for not having the steel in his belly to use force in the dangerous world we live in today. Well I know this: In order to use force, you have to have force. In order to exercise leverage, you have to have leverage.

I don’t know how much steel is in Obama’s belly, but I do know that the issues he is focusing on in this campaign — improving education and health care, dealing with the deficit and forging a real energy policy based on building a whole new energy infrastructure — are the only way we can put steel back into America’s spine. McCain, alas, has abandoned those issues for the culture-war strategy.

Who cares how much steel John McCain has in his gut when the steel that today holds up our bridges, railroads, nuclear reactors and other infrastructure is rusting? McCain talks about how he would build dozens of nuclear power plants. Oh, really? They go for $10 billion a pop. Where is the money going to come from? From lowering taxes? From banning abortions? From borrowing more from China? From having Sarah Palin “reform” Washington — as if she has any more clue how to do that than the first 100 names in the D.C. phonebook?

Sorry, but there is no sustainable political/military power without economic power, and talking about one without the other is nonsense. Unless we make America the country most able to innovate, compete and win in the age of globalization, our leverage in the world will continue to slowly erode. Those are the issues this election needs to be about, because that is what the next four years need to be about.

There is no strong leader without a strong country. And posing as one, to use the current vernacular, is nothing more than putting lipstick on a pig.



I wish football season would wait until baseball ended before starting. All I hear now is football, football, football, when we're coming into the MOST IMPORTANT PART of the baseball season! Can't football wait for the end of the World Series? (Yes, I am perfectly reasonable.)

Companies that won't answer customer service emails aren't really interested in keeping customers, are they?

Got a call from my Mom the other night, and she's going to make it to the reception! I wasn't expecting that! Now of course the house will have to sparkle EVEN MORE... *happy dance*



Go ahead, quote a favorite line from Buffy the Vampire Slayer in your journal. Unless you don't have any favorite lines from BtVS. In which case, you probably shouldn't.

Oh, man, that's hard. I have several...

Xander: "I'm just gonna go home, lie down, and listen to country music. The music of pain."

Oz: "I wanted to ask you something: Is Jordy a werewolf? Uh-huh. And how long has that been going on? Uh-huh."

Xander: "To read makes our speaking English good."

Buffy: "Buffy want beer."
Giles: "You can't have beer."
Buffy: "Want beer!"
Xander: "Giles, don't make cave-Slayer unhappy."

And my all-time favorite:
Snyder: "That's the kind of wooly headed liberal thinking that leads to being eaten."



I had a thought, but it apparently disappeared.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
nutmeg3
Sep. 18th, 2008 02:08 am (UTC)
You can't abandon an egg! It's just not done. And hurray for your mom coming to the reception. I really wanted to make it, but it's just not going to happen. ::grumbles::
wildrider
Sep. 18th, 2008 03:09 am (UTC)
Very well, I shall raise it with love!

I know, Barb told me. *is sad* I was very looking forward to it, but I understand if schedules don't work. Still -- one of these days!

dsgood
Sep. 18th, 2008 02:21 am (UTC)
How to get a company to notice your complaint: Use a medium other than what they're set up to handle. They have a phone bank to listen to customers? Send a snail mail to company headquarters. They have customer satisfaction forms? Call them.
wildrider
Sep. 18th, 2008 03:10 am (UTC)
Yeah, I know. Phone call. Phhlllttt. I hate the phone. It's a demon instrument invented to torture me. The Internet was invented for us phone-a-phobic introverts who communicate well in writing but generally go "um uh er" when speaking on the phone.

janetmiles
Sep. 18th, 2008 02:59 am (UTC)
Xander: (baby talk): Who's a little fear demon? C'mon, who's a little fear demon?
Giles: Don't taunt the fear demon.
Xander: Why? Can he hurt me?
Giles: No, it's just... tacky.
wildrider
Sep. 18th, 2008 03:11 am (UTC)
Yes, that's a great one, too. And Oz's whole explanation of the differences between a gathering, a shindig, and a hootenanny.

ljs
Sep. 18th, 2008 11:32 am (UTC)
Hurrah for the good news re reception, and hurrah for you and Barb! :-)
wildrider
Sep. 18th, 2008 01:32 pm (UTC)
I'm actually getting pretty anxious, now!
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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