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  • ED Ads: Tick'd off By Annoying Child Actors

    April 26, 2007 3:56 PM

    First came Greenpeace's Angry Kid:

    Now come ED's clock kids:

    Why do big environmental groups think adults like being lectured by bossy tweens? The tone of the latter is at least a pit more pleading than demanding, but they're both obnoxious. Why don't we ratify the Kyoto Protocol? Because I said so, young man, that's why. Now go to your room.

  • Back to the Paleo Future

    April 26, 2007 2:41 PM

    The delightful and fascinating blog Paleo-Future has some entertaining video clips up from a short film produced by AT&T in 1993, showing what the company thought the future of telecommunications would look like. The dramatization, titled "Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future," features the story of a young woman about to get married, highlighting along the way all of the fantastic new technologies that people of the future (us, basically) would be using. Like most past visions of the future it was a bit off, in some rather amusing ways.

    First, everyone uses two-way video phones. Exclusively. Futurists have been predicting this for decades, never quite realizing that very few people want either to have to look at or be viewed by everyone with whom they're required to have a telephone conversation. As we know now, that's what webcams are for. Also, everything in one's home and office is (of course) computerized and operated by voice command, a la Star Trek. Characters in this film are constantly uttering staccato commands to unseen digital assistants like "begin message transmission," "enlarge image 17.5%" and "order us two Cobb salads."

  • More on the Neutrality Battle

    April 26, 2007 1:55 PM

    If this whole net neutrality thing sounds a bit complex, let The Simpleton's Guide explain it all. Because after all, simple is better:

  • What's the Gift for a One-Year Lobbying Anniversary?

    April 26, 2007 1:53 PM

    The inaptly named Save the Internet coalition is celebrating its first anniversary today, and Wayne is on the case:

    “We all can probably agree that we want tomorrow's Internet at the speed of light, not at the speed of government,” said CEI Director of Technology Policy Wayne Crews. “But a better starting point is to appreciate that we have no broadband today: cable and DSL are a trickle compared to the Niagara needed tomorrow. Freezing today's Internet into a regulated public utility via net neutrality's inevitable price-and-entry regulation would be the worst possible move, slowing investment and innovation, meaning fewer new companies, networking deals, products and technologies.”

    “Activists fear that not regulating network owners will leave the Internet at the mercy of a few large companies when, in fact, the activists' backers are themselves large companies. Moreover, often the problem is not that there's no competition, but that it's illegal or cumbersome thanks to franchise, zoning, and environmental barriers, or compartmentalization of our great network industries (electricity, water, rail, sewer, communications) into regulatory silos. Network liberalization should be the emphasis of both sides: Instead, the paradoxical result is that regulators and activists think we need “neutrality” on what, in reality, is sub-par infrastructure.

    Full statement here.

  • Green Spendthrifts, Get a Life!

    April 26, 2007 9:17 AM

    Christine, I loved your post about the new trendy green fashions. Via Fark I've just come across something I think tops it: a new 400 GBP (on eBay) shopping bag with the legend, "I'm Not a Plastic Bag" (Original price, 5 GBP). Except in environments where people purchase food to prepare at home every day or shop for clothes weekly, I can't see how this makes sense. People just buy too much to carry home in a reusable bag that's also small enough to be worthwhile to carry to the store. Paul Weyrich, the biggest booster of mass transit I know, knows that nobody uses mass transit for shopping. Before cars, he points out, nearly all stores delivered.

    Now, Sainsbury, the biggest British Grocer, is going to try to sell 20,000 of these reuseable bags. Boutiques have already sold out.

    But even if people decide that they must have some alternative to plastic bags, this particular bag seems really obnoxious. It seems to have no special qualities except for the logo that basically says: "I'm more environmentally aware than you are." If Sainsbury's managers really think they can boost margins or get props with the public by convincing customers to schlep these things around, well, all power to them. But, anyone who pays more than 5 GBP for one of these things really needs to get a life.

  • Re: The Clothesline

    April 25, 2007 12:10 PM

    We used a clothesline when I was growing up, but were forever running outside to grab the clothes when the sky darkened.  In the North-East of England, you see, it rains a lot.

    Of course, the washing machine and clothesline were a step up from the machinery my grandmother had in her kitchen: a washboard, poss-tub and mangle.  Want to know what those did?  Here's a handy pictorial guide.

    People with no memory of this era should remember just what you had to go through to get the clothes into a state that they could be air-dried.

  • Speed Limits. . . Don't Need 'Em

    April 25, 2007 12:08 PM

    Some visitors coming to my home this morning complained of very slow traffic on the beltway at 10:00 a.m. Serious traffic this late in the morning may be a result of some truckers' efforts to bring beltway traffic to a standstill. While I disagree with the protest's objectives I think it's a telling sign that the protest could even work in the first place: the truckers are simply planning to obey all speed limits without fail and travel in multi-lane convoys thereby further slowing down already bad traffic.

    Thus, it stands to reason that the speed limits were obviously too low to begin with. Since the country rightly eliminated the federal 65-mph maximum speed limit in 1995 (after raising it from 55 a few years earlier) lots of less populated areas have set up 75 and, in a few places 85-100 mph speed limits. But best as I know, nearly all freeways in high-density areas remain stuck at 65 or less. Anyone have a good counter example?

  • Clotheslining Progress

    April 25, 2007 9:35 AM

    It seems recent posts by myself and Fran were all too prescient. The clothesline is apparently merely beginning its green-inspired comeback. Following Kathy Hughes' New York Times article from the 12th is today's Marilyn Gardner piece in the Christian Science Monitor:

    But now the low-tech clothesline may be poised to stage a modest comeback. In an age of global warming, lists of energy-saving tips routinely include suggestions such as "Hang clothes outdoors to dry when possible."

    It's good advice, of course. A dryer is typically the second biggest electricity-using appliance after the refrigerator, according to the website It costs about $85 a year to operate. Multiply that by the nation's 88 million dryers, and the energy costs spiral.

    The dryer, with its round-the-clock availability and shiny push-button convenience, has also created energy-wasting habits. As one mother says, "I've noticed the big conversation about energy-saving appliances. Where is the conversation about the habits of the people who use these appliances? Many of my friends who have teenagers say that their children wear an outfit only once before they put it into the laundry hamper. One of my friends only uses her bath towel once."

  • "Al Gore trains a global army"

    April 25, 2007 8:59 AM

    Beware of the storm troopers of global warming alarmism. According to USA Today, they're on the march.

  • How To Go Green For A Gazillion Bucks

    April 24, 2007 1:48 PM

    The May issue of Vogue arrived on my doorstep this week, filled with all the usual high fashion photos and news. But this issue also featured a section on how the trendy set can "go green." It seems that "the private-jet set are not just cutting carbs, they're cutting their carbon footprints." What that means, judging from the Vogue write-up, is that one can buy things like the Country Comforts-brand "repurposed" down pillows for $63 a pop, an $843 Marni tote, a $960 Hermes wallet-size pouch, a $275 painted tote, and-- my favorite--a $331 brown (cotton?) tank top from Bergdorf Goodman. And how could I forget the $1,425 leather grocery bag by Boudicca? The list goes on.

    Now, I'm not quibbling with columnist E.J. Dionne's column today arguing that charitable deeds by the entertainment industry -- or the super-rich, in this case --should not automatically be pooh-poohed. Big companies and rich people have can certainly have legitimate concern for the less fortunate peoples of the world. But what strikes me about the big-budget green consumerism advocated by Vogue is that it takes wealth to buy products that are economically inefficient to produce. If wealthy people want to squander their pocket change on goods and services that, in my view, are probably phony, ineffectual, feel-good things, that's certainly their right and privilege. But I hope they're not delusional enough to think the rest of us should go for the $331 "eco-friendly" tank top at Bergdorf's instead of the $2.00 tank top at Walmart. Or that any tax-and-ration energy scheme will make the "little people" better able to indulge in posh products.


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