Crinkle cuts

I love the environment. I truly believe we’re not doing enough to stop pollution, wean ourselves off fossil fuels, eat food that is grown organically (and impacts the soil less), use products that don’t release toxic red sludge across Hungary, and generally not throw empty fast food cups of soda on the sidewalk, or your empty pack of cigarettes out of your driver’s side window (I’m talking to you, Mr. Buzzy’s Taxi man).

And I have mixed feelings about the end of the noisily, crinkly, eco-friendly Sun Chips bag. True, as one commenter said, a little noise to help the environment is hardly a bad trade. That said, why couldn’t the Sun Chips Corp., Inc., put more effort into producing a bag that met (many) consumers with the appeal of nails on a chalkboard?

Hypocrite, perhaps? Me? Guilty as charged.

I’m not against eco-friendly packaging. In fact, it drives me nuts when I order something online and it comes inside a box, inside a semi-hard plastic thing that requires a Dremel diamond wheel to open, inside another box, knotted with those plastic twist ties secured against that plastic piece with the holes in it that look like the sticks from those homemade ice pops we had when we were kids. (Digression: I used those plastic molds to make ice pops with pickle juice once, and threw up after trying one.) Why can’t companies use “frustration-free packaging” with its attendant environmental friendly angle, to boot?

But what was it about the Sun Chips bags that made them so damn noisy? I find it hard to believe that a brown paper lunch bag is any less biodegradable — why couldn’t they make the Sun Chips bags out of that shit? Or deli wrap, dammit? Perhaps my knowledge of molecular plastic packaging is limited, so I don’t know if this is the equivalent of Steven Wright asking why can’t they make airplanes out of the same stuff they use to make those black box flight data recorders, but I digress.

Was this an effort that was set up to fail? Or are biodegradable chip bags inherently as noisy as the Nazgûl in flight?


Healthy food stuff

I like food. And I like to eat. So here’s one lonely vote in favor of changing the Department of Agriculture to the Department of Food.

Contemplate Nicholas D. Kristoff’s column about the need for a change in food policy in America, which will lead to a healthier America that pays less for health-care related costs in the future, while pissing off the Farm Lobby (but not farmers — the remaining small-town variety would stand to benefit from this change; not so-much the industrial farms).

“We’re subsidizing the least healthy calories in the supermarket — high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated soy oil, and we’re doing very little for farmers trying to grow real food,” notes Michael Pollan, author of such books as “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “In Defense of Food.”

and

Modern confinement operations are less like farms than like meat assembly lines. They are dazzlingly efficient in some ways, but they use vast amounts of grain, as well as low-level antibiotics to reduce infections — and the result is a public health threat from antibiotic-resistant infections.

Hopefully, the President-elect, who has shown a sensitivity to the policy connections between food and health, will heed this call.


It’s all connected — energy and security

I wish CNN scored it more like a boxing match, rather than those weirdly compelling but still annoying dials they used on-screen at tonight’s Debate at Ole Miss. They could have scored each question as a round. I think the only 10-8 round came when Obama made the most important point of the night — and I wish people would hammer this more often, including Obama — that linked the energy crisis with the War and the economy. It came way at the end of the question about Russia, but continued on his earlier point on energy dependence and “starting to invest in alternative energy, solar, wind, biodiesel, making sure that we’re developing the fuel-efficient cars of the future right here in the United States, in Ohio and Michigan, instead of Japan and South Korea.” Obama said:

We’ve got to walk the walk and not just talk the talk when it comes to energy independence, because this is probably going to be just as vital for our economy and the pain that people are feeling at the pump — and, you know, winter’s coming and home heating oil — as it is our national security and the issue of climate change that’s so important.

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Inheriting the Promise

Perhaps it was a speech that was more policy-oriented and political than broad and overtly hopeful, but Mrs. Icepick said that’s what she wanted to hear, so who am I to argue?

Let there be no doubt: This was a passionate address, and there were touches of inspiration in between the specifics and firey rhetoric that put to rest questions of whether Obama can go on the offensive when needed — a Jedi-like approach of using force when diplomacy and reason have failed.

In many ways, it was a cumulation and conclusion to the major speeches we’ve heard this week — Hillary’s inspiration, Bill’s reminder of our own potential, Kerry’s preemptive attacks, and Biden’s foreign policy focus.

There was the forward-looking call to serve the next generation and the Kennedy-like call to service, something I particularly liked:

And we will keep our promise to every young American – if you commit to serving your community or your country, we will make sure you can afford a college education.

But in between the policy talk, and right before invoking the legendary speech delivered 45 years earlier, Obama did not forget to focus on the theme that brought him so far: Hope.

Instead, it is that American spirit — that American promise — that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend.

That promise is our greatest inheritance.

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The long haul

Sixteen Tons. What do you get? Another day older, and deeper in debt.

—Merle Travis

Big to-do in the New York Capital on Thursday with truckers clogging the streets with a rally to protest taxes and tolls and the high price of diesel.

Before you shout irony at the idea of protesting gas prices by driving and idling, you need to remember one thing: You might argue with their methods, but we’re talking blue collar families. We’re talking workers that were sold the American Dream, and of course I am paraphrasing David Simon here, that if you worked hard and did your job, then America has a place at the table for you, that you can make a proud living wage. And, again paraphrasing David Simon, that’s not so true; your life is actually worth less every day, as Simon has frequently said.

You might argue that $5 per gallon gas (and $6 per gallon diesel) can help wean the country off environment-killing and unsustainable oil (foreign and domestic), much the same way that $8 per pack cigarettes can help wean smokers off of their own killing habit. And I would agree with you.

At some level, it’s a good thing, especially if it forces people to give up their showboaty and unnecessary SUVs and sprawling McMansion existence (though I disagree with the biofuels bandwagon).

And as this AP article points out, drivers can recoup some of their fuel costs through adjustable surcharges — but there’s apparently a lag, which creates a cash-flow problem that many of them cannot ride out (excuse the pun) until the money comes in.

However, kicking the oil habit will be fruitless if government does not strongly step in to increase mass transit and to increase the use of rail in hauling goods, which is vastly more energy efficient, emits less greenhouse gas (PDF) and is generally safer than trucking. Trucks would still be needed, but for shorter trips — hauling from rail sidings to the goods’ destinations. By far, trucking consumes the most fuel out of any other form of transportation.

But what of those driving the trucks?

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Garbage to fuel our flying cars

Don’t say I didn’t tell you so, but I ain’t the only one who thinks Congress is taking the cynically easy answer with this corn-for-fuel bullshit. Check out this story from NPR’s All Things Considered. Frankly, I always thought that the answer to the fuel problem and the garbage/landfill problem could be one and the same — and if you were watching closely to the end of Back to the Future you’d have known if for, like, 23 years! Right at the end of the movie, Doc returns in the flying DeLorean and fuels up by dumping household garbage into the “Mr. Fusion” at the back of the time machine. Hmmm, let’s see, NPR article, can you help me out?… Read the rest of this entry »


Evening buzz 1.

Random thoughts this evening while the coffee buzz again wears off:

And I thought we had it bad when we had a landlord that controlled the “free” heat (he kept it below, like, 60 degrees during the daytime, back when I was working nights — we tricked the box-locked thermostat by laying icepacks on top of it). Story from Daily News, via Gawker.

Best way to drink up this weekend.

I like this guy. Newsflash for Gannett: local people like local news. Second newsflash: People don’t like stuff that sucks.

I also love this follow-up criticism surely from a Gannett zombie (“one of us, one of us, one of us”). Complainer’s Alec-Baldwin-in-Glengarry-Glen-Ross-like comment: If you don’t like it, leave. That’s priceless! “All for company!”

Wonder if this fascist judge knows that at the rate he plans to impose these fines, he should hit this journo’s annual salary in about 18 days (via Romenesko, who also turned us onto the Gannett blog, and the blog after the jump).

More coffee, more coffee (thanks again, Romenseko for turning me on to this blog.