Archive for June, 2008

High Gas Prices = The End of Plastic?

Friday, June 20th, 2008

In days of high gas prices, we don’t feel bad for proprietors of gas stations. While this article demonstrates that proprietors don’t make a lot of money in certain areas (I don’t see this happening in, say, Massachusetts), it also shows that our plastic-based economy has a long way to go before the “convenience” of racking up debt via credit card for gas, food, and other commodities shows any benefit whatsoever.

“The more they buy, the more we lose,” said Randolph, who manages Mr. Ed’s Chevron in St. Albans. “Gas prices go up, and our profits go down.”

His complaints target the so-called interchange fee — a percentage of the sale price paid to credit card companies on every transaction. The percentage is fixed — usually at just under 2 percent — but the dollar amount of the fee rises with the price of the goods or services.


The dollar value of the fee goes up, but so does the dollar value of his sales, and therefore his profit. It’s a percentage-based profit, so it doesn’t really make sense that he’s banning credit cards at his station. Then again, maybe we could all benefit from more businesses banning plastic. Our economy would slow down, but an economy based on debt (like ours) is headed for disaster anyway. Do we really want to trade away our future for a couple of extra dollars now – dollars that are worth nothing on the international exchange markets?

Survivalists – From Marginalized Laughing-Stocks to Future Leaders?

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

Americans who pay attention to the news are starting to fear an imminent collapse of our civilization. Many of them are throwing in the towel before the slow decline, and heading to the countryside for a life of frugal self sufficiency. It’s a lot like how ex-smokers can’t stop talking about how terrible cigarettes are. That consumer lifestyle I used to lead? I had to give it up.


Interesting read. I’m not sure if Victoria likes the idea but not those who implement it? Seems there’s some criticism of those who practice survivalism but still some support for the belief that we should strive for a more organic culture.

Most survivalists are probably like those depicted in the article’s photo – there’s a gas-guzzling Range Rover, but two people in army fatigues w/ machine guns. If that’s a “survivalist”, count me out. Those are called militias. I like the ideas propagated by Michael Arth and John Feeney, as well as the writers – society isn’t a bad idea, modern society is; we just need better people to lead and less of a focus on the individual, as well as economic growth rates, and more of a focus on smaller, more organic communities. Imagine a society like that and tell me we’d still have any self-labeled “survivalists”.

Large nuclear waste dumps – the government's solution to the oil problem

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

The US government is already preparing for peak oil crises globally. What great long-term thinking; let’s build more nuclear power plants to feed the ever-hungry central air compressors and, who knows, maybe all those electric cars one day? Instead of waiting 50 years for oil to deplete, we can now stave off crises for thousands of years by burying nuclear waste deep underground and inside of mountains – no one lives there, so it doesn’t hurt anyone, apparently.

Didn’t we have this debate back in the 1980s? All we need is Mr. Burns to make guest appearances in Nevada and we’re off oil from those damn Arabs forever!

Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said yesterday that he’s confident the government’s license application to build a nuclear waste dump in Nevada will “stand up to any challenge anywhere.”

Of course it will, Secretary – who is going to stop you?

[full article]

Times Online (UK) embracing population problem

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

Why have I been entranced by population, of all things? I have my theories. I grew up in a religious, left-leaning American household that tyrannised my childhood with guilt. Before we ate, we had to pray for hungry Chinese peasants, and then we had to clean our plates for the starving Armenians (long dead, but no one told me). Everything nice that we had we were supposed to feel bad about; and I was required to give 10 cents of my 25c weekly allowance (that’s about 12p) to charity. So I think I resented all these poor people for whom I was supposed to feel sorry. They were a burden. Then I discovered that there were going to be more and more of them. Just because they had large families, I was going to have to feel even worse and give away more of my allowance.

The Duke of Edinburgh may not have employed the trendiest vocabulary but he’s not suffering from undiagnosed dementia. Whatever you call it, the threat of overpopulation is back and here to stay – because it never really went away. This could be a good time to start learning Arabic.


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