Sunday, November 25, 2007

News and Views, and a correction

First a correction. In my last blog I said the Civic Honda Hybrid would save $237 per year under the conditions described and that it would take over 30 years to recover the additional cost of the hybrid as compared the standard Honda Civic. I was wrong; it seems my Log Log Duplex Deci Trig Slide rule was out of alignment. The correct calculation is that at a gasoline cost of $3.50 per gallon the annual saving would be $380 and it would only take 21 years to recover the additional cost of the Honda Civic Hybrid; mea culpa. If this makes buying the hybrid OK, go for it.

Now, on with the News and Views

News and Views

To my surprise, California residents pay for distributing purported ‘energy-saving’ light bulbs. It seems that utility companies in California are supposed to sell to California residents special fluorescent bulbs subsidized with money received from electric bills paid every month by you and me. Utilities were paid by consumers through their electric bills in order to distribute 25 million to 30 million bulbs. The expectation is that the bulbs will be used in the state and then less electricity would be needed. However, the ‘energy-saving’ light bulbs have been sold on e-Bay and the buyers can be anywhere. California utilities can receive hundreds of millions of dollars paid by their customers if they meet energy saving goals and these bulbs are relied upon to meet the goals. If the energy-saving bulbs are sold in the online market, the state may not save all the power expected and consumers will have paid for nothing.

For over 12 years wolves were introduced into Yellowstone National Park to satisfy the requirements of the endangered species law. The program started with 66 wolves and now it is estimated that 1,545 wolves roam Wyoming, Idaho and Montana and the number of cattle, sheep and domestic animals killed by wolves have increased from 123 in 2000 to 330 this year so far. Now the people that brought you wolf regeneration want to do the same with foxes. Santa Cruz, San Miguel and Santa Rosa islands will receive 300 foxes. However, it’s interesting to trace the ecological history of the situation. The population of bald eagles on the islands declined. In their place golden eagles took over and dined on piglets born of wild pigs on the islands. Ecologists added more bald eagles to compete with the golden eagles; now foxes are being introduced to compete with the eagles. If this isn’t confusing enough, a New Zealand firm was hired in 2005 to kill of the wild pigs; the last pig was killed in 2006. For eons Mother Nature took care of things but now we have a step-mother Nature that tries to outdo the original; when will they leave well enough alone.

A recent Scripps Howard News service article reported the results of a poll they conducted in association with Ohio University and the results are scary. A survey in 2006 found that more than 33% of Americans think federal officials assisted in the 9/11 attacks or took no action so the United States could go to war in the Middle East. With oil at record prices, 81% of Americans say it is “somewhat likely” or “very likely” that oil companies conspire to keep the price of gasoline high. Presidential candidate Kucinich can take heart with the survey results showing that 37% of Americans think it is “somewhat likely or “very likely” that the government is covering up UFO visits and 37% think the government “has proof there is intelligent life on other worlds”. The results of what Americans think about the Kennedy assassination are a little mixed but 42% think the federal government knew about the assassination in advance (17% “don’t know”). Who says our public education system is failing us?

There is good news for Chicagoans and anyone wanting to put their name on a Chicago landmark. Chicago is joining Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Winnipeg in offering to sell municipal naming rights for city features. The Mayor Daley administration has a $250,000 contract with Octagon Inc. to see what the city has to offer and produce a marketing plan to attract corporate and other sponsors and advertisers. Visitors to Chicago may one day ride on 'Macy’s Chicago El', shop on the 'Budweiser Magnificent Mile' or tour the 'Home Depot Pier'.

How many times have you seen the end of an adulterous relationship make headline news? If you live in the Los Angeles, California area, you now know from news headlines that the affair between Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and a Spanish-language newscaster Mirthala Salinas has ended. It must have been a faux slow news day.

Does Absinthe make the heart grow fonder? We will now be able to find out. After a century of being banned, the high-proof liquor made from the herb, worm wood, (doesn't that sound tasty) that fed inspiration and insanity to Toulouse LeTrec and Degas is now once again available on the U.S. market. "After the first glass", said Oscar Wilde, you see things as you wish they were. After the second you see things as they are not. Finally you see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world". Perhaps Absinthe has been responsible for Democrat actions and policies; lay off the stuff will you guys?

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