Sunday, August 26, 2007

Recommended viewing: Daily Show 7.25.2007 (belated)

While more than a month old, I still enjoy this clip from the 8.25.2007 episode of the Daily Show. The clip shows Senate judiciary committee's questioning of the unquestionable Alberto Gonzales. The article linked to is essentially a transcript, so just watch the clip.

Update (8.27.2007): Gonzales is resigning, which I did not know at the time of posting. If this isn't positive reinforcement for me starting a blog, I'm not sure what is.

Update 2 (9.1.2007): Oops, the show was 7.25.2007, not 8.25.2007

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Scourge of my wallet

Cash receipts for simple purchases (non-restaurant or supermarket) are a pet peeve of mine (also, the phrase "pet peeve," but that's another post, I guess). I think comedian Mitch Hedberg says it best:
I bought a donut and the guy gave me a receipt for the donut. I don't need a receipt for the donut. I give you the money, you give me the donut -- end of transaction. We do not need to bring ink and paper into this. I can not imagine the scenario where I would have to prove that I brought a donut. Some skeptical friend. Don't even act like I didn't get that donut. I got the documentation right here.
To save paper, we really should have a no-receipts-for-cash-purchases policy (unless, of course, you ask for one). I wonder how much paper/trees/energy/etc. could be saved if we didn't have these things. I also wonder why many places will give you a free x if you don't get a receipt with a purchase -- there must be some legal precedent for this or something.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Springy light bulbs

Living with CFLs is a neat guide to those of us thinking about switching to CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) and interested in learning more about them. I am about to buy a bunch of CFLs of varying wattage to replace some of the lamps in my apartment. Sadly, I'm told the dimmable CFLs are very expensive and not worth it, so the study will remain incandescent.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Switch to green electricity

One of my problems with Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth is that it didn't focus enough on possible solutions (some suggestions are given during the credits while people are leaving the theater). One of those suggestions is to switch your electricity to renewable sources. If you live in a blue state, this is likely an option. According to some rough figures, the average American produces about about 19,000 kg carbon yearly. If we assume that the average energy usage is 500 kilowatt hours/month, this turns out to be about 3,636 kg carbon yearly, or about 20% of the average American's footprint. At a small premium (about 10-15%), my apartment's electricity comes from renewable sources and hopefully helps grow the renewable energy market to make it more affordable. This is a very easy and fairly cheap way to lower your carbon footprint, though I haven't checked to see if it is actually the most affordable or best footprint-decreasing-value.

See GreenUp if you use National Grid in New England (MA, RI) for more information. If you're curious, my GreenUp provider is Community Energy with 50% wind, 50% "small" hydro.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Six Flags: Brought to you by...

I recently visited Six Flags New England and was surprised to see the level of sponsorship: rides by Home Depot, napkins by Heinz (the usual condiments too), partnerships with D.C. comics and Looney Toons, and food by fast food chains (Papa John's, Panda Express, and others). If I remember correctly, I did not see nearly as much sponsorship when I went to Six Flags Darien Lake in 2004.

And another thing: What's with the ultra-greasy food at these theme parks? Seems like they're just asking for trouble and there's no way I'm the first one to point out this. As someone with a stomach that doesn't process fast food well, I wish there had been something light and not in danger of reversing its digestive course on the next ride. Ok, so there wasn't any real danger of that...or was there? [eerie music] But seriously...please serve at least one healthy thing.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Recommended viewing: Daily Show 8.15.2007

On 8.15.2007, Jon Stewart was on fire (or perhaps plasma or even the state after that). The episode has two important bits that I've posted in other fashions.

First, meet 1994 Cheney who explains why invading Iraq would be a mistake and predicts with alarming accuracy many of our current problems.

Then see Jon Stewart's grillfest (ranterview?) with Stephen Hayes, Cheney's biographer. For those of you who don't watch the Daily Show, he is clearly much more upset than normal. While he doesn't give Hayes much time to respond to his questions, he doesn't like the answers that he does get. It seems at points as if he sees Hayes as standing in for Cheney/Bush administration:
Stewart: Then stop making the rest of us feel like idiots when we question their strategy in the war on terror, and stop making the rest of us feel like — and I don't mean you, I mean them — [...]
I'm really glad to see interviews like this, despite somewhat misdirected outrage. I hope the segment doesn't prevent him from getting guests like Hayes in the future.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Some puzzles

My officemates and I have been doing a lot of Tangrams lately, but recently we discovered a bunch of cell-based puzzles (including the super popular Sudoku). Nurikabe is an interesting one. The 5x5s get easy after a couple of rounds, so try the 9x9s after that.