Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A National VMT tax? Now with more tracking!

Earl Blumenauer is once again talking about about switching to a VMT tax rather than (or in addition to) a gas tax, this time at the federal level. Yes this would be a pilot program (full details here), but it will cost over $150 million to do the pilot program. It would also require drivers to have a GPS tracking device in their car, which opens a number of privacy concerns.

The article above fortunately mentions that some of his biggest campaign contributors are Honeywell International and Accenture. Honeywell is an RFID manufacturer (RFID is part of the GPS program) and Accenture is a leader in video tolling technology.

Blumenauer has his own political action committee as well, the Committee for a Livable Future, and Honeywell just happens to be the second largest contributor to them as well. He's best known for being very pro-streetcar (including bringing jobs to a Portland-area businesses under the "Buy American" guise) and pro-bicycle, but I don't think it's a coincidence that he's pushing for something that is so anti-civil liberties that will just happen to benefit major campaign contributors.

Slashdot has a great discussion about the topic as well. I understand his concern about potentially dwindling tax revenues from having more fuel-efficient cars, but pushing for a tracking system does not seem like something that I could see people supporting.

There are also numerous potential technical problems with the proposal, but there are also a number of Pacific Northwest businesses (hint: Garmin acquired Morrow, an avionics-related company started in Salem, and Garmin employs people in Newport, Salem and Portland) that would likely see a large windfall from this coming through. I have to wonder if his motives are in any way legitimate, or just based on making money for contributors to keep him in office.

Monday, September 14, 2009

This is not a test of the emergency broadcast system

The Station Fire might be impressive, but that impressed me almost more. Something like palm trees and radio towers et al. Only, you know, not in German.

Once again, the hills of Los Angeles are burning.

Glenn Beck's Saga Continues

So (yawn) Glenn Beck is wasting America's time, once again. Is he misleading? Probably. Some blogs are comparing him to Joseph McCarthy. That's not a compliment, regardless of what he thinks. It's a good thing that he's respectful of 9/11 by having his minions act on 9/12 instead.

Mr. Beck may be innocent, but that can't be proven definitively yet. He is still refusing to discuss the matter, without his lawyers suing for trademark infringement, but he sure likes to make others look guilty. Fark, in all its glory, seems to be the root cause of this unproven meme.

Obviously people accusing him of raping a murdering a girl in 1990 are satirizing him in the same way that he attacks others, but it's still absurd he hasn't just dismissed these accusations yet. It does seem like the same smear campaign he's engaged against others. And of course, he's fighting it.

Of course, rape and murder aren't funny, but Glenn Beck's career seems to be getting raped and murdered anyway. His number of advertisers is going down like a pederast in a boy's school.

He may burn for this. Especially if he's unable to just discuss it like a rational adult, which may be beyond his abilities. I almost have sorrow for him.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

NFL week one

It was a fun week to watch the NFL so far. The 3-2 score in the Sunday Night Game between the Packers and da Bears was entertaining while it lasted, Minnesota was fun to watch beating Cleveland, but unfortunately the only late-afternoon game we got live here in Portland was Seattle vs St Louis. I was really hoping for 0-0 there.

Hopefully the Bills and the Chargers make it entertaining tomorrow. If only I had ESPN so I could watch it.

And I really hope you all caught the end of the Denver game. That was an amazing catch.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

What's up Glenn Beck?

So Glenn Beck is disputing the claims that he's a rapist and murderer. It's about time he addressed these baseless concerns (that have shown up on Fark and other sites), but the ways he's doing it using various trademark laws may still leave concerns in the minds of some who haven't heard the whole story yet.

It really isn't a believable story, but the fact he hasn't discussed it in the slightest, other than leaving a layer of lawsuits is disconcerting. Even sites of a questionable nature are covering it. He obviously (in the minds of some) manipulates the truth and might make his viewers think that things that aren't the truth are, but that doesn't make him as evil as the person some claim he is.

The claims of his evilness come from the lack of his dismissing this all as just a large load of BS, which it seems to be, but it would be nice if he would attack the accusations instead of the accusers in long form, much like he's asking Obama to do.

Obviously Mr. Beck is probably an upstanding citizen, but it is unfortunate that he (as of yet) has not disputed these claims without using his legal teams to attack a blog rather than just simply stating how false these accusations are.

Return from Seattle

After helping my friend move up to Seattle this weekend, I've got some new pictures to post on my Flickr account. Here's a quick preview of Mount Rainier from the Amtrak train I'm on:

And the Columbia Center from the King St Station:

It was a great weekend up there, and I'll have more pictures to post soon. Sorry about the dirt on the windows, I can't get outside to clean them.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Cleaning out the fridge

I just was trying to figure out what to eat, and took inventory of my refrigerator. It dawned on me that the refried beans and mashed potatoes weren't going to last too much longer. I also had burrito shells.

Also for the first time in a while, I had a few eggs in the fridge. I don't normally eat scrambled eggs, and haven't made them in years, but I have some time to kill tonight so I did what any geek would do. I went to YouTube to try to find a 'better' way of making them. I found a method by Gordon Ramsey, so I decided to run with that. They were awesome (though I left out a few ingredients I didn't have, and substituted in garlic salt.)

Added in a bunch of hot salsa, cheddar cheese, beans, and mashed potatoes. Nothing fancy, and common leftovers around me. I was pleasantly shocked how tasty the combo ended up being.

So now you know, next time you have leftover beans and mashed potatoes, there's a nice burrito that can be made.