Saturday, June 14, 2008

God Help me...

but this actually seems like a good idea (even though every Libertarian bone in my body is screaming to say so)
Announce a schedule of gas tax hikes of 50 cents every six months for the next two years. And put a tax floor under $4 gasoline, so that as high gas prices transform the U.S. auto fleet, change driving habits and thus hugely reduce U.S. demand -- and bring down world crude oil prices -- the American consumer and the American economy reap all of the benefit.Herewith concludes my annual exercise in futility. By the time I write next year's edition, you'll be paying for gas in bullion.

Only caveat would be that every cent collect be sunk either into public transportation or into new energy research (peak oil has me REALLY concerned), maybe in a ratio of 70/30 (since the transportation is a short peg and people like seeing quick results. The other is a longer plan hence while it should be getting as much as it can you must face political realities). I am talking seriously tight oversight to make sure this happens, no pork barrel shit that so often occurs. EVERY SINGLE CENT.

The current American attitude of ignoring it until a crisis is too dangerous with this one (sometimes I think we should have selected the ostrich as our national bird, as we seem stick our head in the sand and ignore the problem as much as we can), we MUST come up with a solution and lessen our dependence on this region of the world (and that doesn't even take into account of not wanting to send any more of my fellow Soldiers (or myself) back to that god-forsaken region).

The current solutions that I have seen all involve a "and then a miracle happens" (as a SF fan I call this the Star Trek technobabble solution... where they face this insurmountable problem and all of a sudden the engineers/science officers whip this technological solution right out of their asses (they even had it inserted in the original scripts, where the writers would make a note for the technology continuity folks to insert a solution)) scenario where we somehow solve our energy problems. They all seem to fall under, "we can defeat any problem put in front of us" and that really scares me, since this problem is so big and affects every aspect of our lives that it scary to think about its impact. This problem is so ginormous that we have to start tackling it now as well as come up with ways to stretch and husband what resources we have. This problem is why I am not really worried about Global Warming (lets ignore that solving this will definitely curb the other "problem"), this problem is far more likely to end with fights over what resources there are remaining, with some of those fights eventually ending with bright flashes and enormous fireballs.

The American Way of Life (TM) (as defined by the silly dream of everyone having a huge house in the suburbs, 2+ cars etc) is dead if we don't start making corrections, though I would argue that its going to change anyway (heck, the overall impact of this dream is what got us to this problem in the first place. 3 (maybe 4) people do not need a 3-4k sq ft houses). But hey, its been well established that I hate the suburbs/exaburbs. My fellow Americans, be they on the far right, the far left, and that so helpless and clueless group in the middle (that the ones on either side feel is their responsibility to shepherd) will drive me batty/be the death of me yet.

Honest to God, I actually have dreams (and fantasy's) where I can solve this energy problem. (though all those seem to involve miracles as well)

hat tip to CDR Salamander

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Hot enough?

All I can think is thank god this training is indoors, since its been awfully hot (Cat V days in military terminology, the worst and most dangerous category). My "Flow" (yep, that's how they broke us up, into "flows" (basically 27 per flow, an A-Flow and B-Flow). Not platoons, not squads, not something military sounding, but flows.......) is working on basic electronic foundation stuff. Resistors, capacitors, inductors, AC/DC. I am having flashbacks to end of high school/first year of college, the last time I really thought about this stuff. Luckily its coming back, but you can see that a lot of people struggle with it.

Friday was an "Organization Day". Basically a picnic. In almost 100 degree weather. Lucky us. Though it did allow me to sleep in late (didn't have to show up until 930... a nice switch from the 0530 during a normal day). And we did get out early.

Friday night was definitely interesting. I went to an indoor football game (hey, the tickets were free) then headed a couple of blocks over for the downtown "First Friday." Basically its an event where the businesses downtown stay open, there is street food, different vendors set up and there is music. Very fun (and a very different set of food in my stomach, teriyaki with payaia).

I sampled some more of the local food over the weekend. I hit this place called "Sconyers" and was quite pleased with the BBQ there. They had a big master plate (1/4 chicken, 2 ribs and a healthy scoop of pork and beef BBQ plus sides) that pretty much sent me into a food coma. Good thing I went for a 6 mile run in the morning (wow did that wipe me out as well! 1 liter of water right before and completely drained my camel-back on the run) along the canal here in Augusta. Not as nice as the C&O canal but it is also a more functional canal than that one.