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Monday, December 31, 2012

12 Predictions for 2013

Clarity Moving Beyond the Past


Tarot Deck | 6 of Swords
 ~ The best part of 2013 is that there won't be a federal election. Consequently, some useful things will get done. There will still be way too much partisan malarkey for my tastes, but the electorate expects action on a host of things and the political dynamic will allow more progress than last year's gridlocked, posturing debacle.

This year's predictions:

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Ice Follies

Skating


 ~ Enjoyed ice skating with my daughter today.

video

The seasonal ice skating in Bellevue's Downtown Park continues every day through January 13. Skate as long as you want with rental blades for $10. As you can see from the video, the rink is covered from the rain.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Labor Burden

Looking For Something to Reform?


 ~ I'd rather see us (temporarily) go over the so-called (and inaptly named) fiscal cliff than "reform" the core programs of the social safety net.

However, if we do end up reforming them, we should start by removing the arbitrary threshold above which earnings are not taxed. This is indefensible as sensible from either a fiscal or social standpoint:

NYT interactive charts of tax burdens 1980-2010

There's lots else that could be done too, especially more equal taxation of labor and capital, but removing special treatment that benefits only the wealthy is really a no-brainer.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Where's It Wednesday—CXIII

...special Thursday edition! Apparently, due to a surfeit of eggnog or other facile excuse, I totally failed to provide a solution and a new puzzle yesterday, Wednesday, posting a brief political diatribe instead. Oh well. Here is what I meant to post...



Where in Seattle is this?

Somewhere in Seattle... but where?

Answer next week.

Details on the weekly Where's It Wednesday puzzle here.
Other weeks' puzzles here.
Answer to last week's puzzle, after the jump.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Like Night and Day

Not Alike


 ~ Do you think the two parties are the same shade of gray? That they're just about the same? Can you imagine the GOP responding like this:

Ted Rall cartoon

Actually, we don't need to imagine, because they don't. Instead, they act like this.

Monday, December 24, 2012

What I Want For Christmas

Peace, Hope, A Better Future and ...


 ~ ...to stretch out with my back to the sand.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Divestiture

Money Talks


Protest against apartheid South Africa, Harvard 1978
 ~ Protest and divestment work.

Seattle is the first US city to announce formal divestiture of investments in the fossil fuel industry. Mayor Mike McGinn made the announcement yesterday, making good on a promise made November 7 during 350.org's Do The Math tour. Said McGinn:
Climate change is one of the most important challenges we currently face as a city and as a society. I believe that Seattle ought to discourage these companies from extracting that fossil fuel, and divesting the pension fund from these companies is one way we can do that.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Purpose of Art

To Provoke


Artstrike | What's mine is mine, what's yours is ours

 ~ The manufactured and fictitious crisis of the so-called fiscal cliff has provoked a lot of people. Time to provoke a broader audience about the real crisis, and to replace the bogus framing of the problem.

We're not broke—we're being looted.

More from Artstrike, including this evocative poem:
Artstrike | Prosperity not austerity

Proverbs 22:16
by Elizabeth Conall

what do they care
if we can’t pay
the bills run up
to keep us alive?
to save our kids?
why bother with
expensive care
we don’t deserve?
plenty more
where we came from

Plenty more serfs out there. Read the whole thing.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Frost Flowers

Bizarre, but Beautiful


Sea ice blossoms
 ~ A meadow of saltwater ice crystal flowers, three time saltier than the ocean itself.
The air was extremely cold and extremely dry, colder than the ocean surface. When the air gets that different from the sea, the dryness pulls moisture off little bumps in the ice, bits of ice vaporize, the air gets humid — but only for a while. The cold makes water vapor heavy. The air wants to release that excess weight, so crystal by crystal, air turns back into ice, creating delicate, feathery tendrils that reach sometimes two, three inches high, like giant snowflakes. The sea, literally, blossoms.
With the disappearance of Arctic sea ice, I suppose we'll be seeing more of these.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Where's It Wednesday—CXII

Where in Seattle is this?

Somewhere in Seattle... but where?

Answer next week.

Details on the weekly Where's It Wednesday puzzle here.
Other weeks' puzzles here.
Answer to last week's puzzle, after the jump.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Zero-Waste

3 Steps


Material and waste flowchart

 ~ Zero-waste, the goal, the practice, of becoming landfill-free, is an objective of a growing number of organizations. Those that have either achieved zero-waste or are in the midst of a zero-waste initiative have had success with a three-pronged approach according to Ashley Halligan:
  1. Setting and defining a goal. Or a series of them. Zero-waste is a great goal, but initially getting to 80% of zero-waste can be a stretch effort, significant and laudable.
  2. Engage Employees. Empowering your employees produces some powerful results.
  3. Audit-and Tackle-Your Waste Stream. You can't manage (and mitigate) what you can't measure.
Quoting Kirk Varga:
When approaching a zero-waste goal, it’s important to consider that all materials are recyclable or reusable in one way or another.
For organizations, indeed, for businesses of any size, reducing waste means saving money. Consider: there are costs entailed in every component or constituent part of anything one buys. Discarding a portion of that is just trashing money. Best to buy only what one actually, and in an enduring way, uses. Otherwise, "rent" the materials—deploying them usefully, but acquiring and divesting them as part of an unending loop. Not to the land-fill, but to another use.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Neoliberalism and Plutocracy

They're the Same Thing


 ~ The always stimulating George Monbiot's recent blog post examines the need to fight plutocracy in order to address climate change.
George Monbiot
Humankind’s greatest crisis coincides with the rise of an ideology that makes it impossible to address. By the late 1980s, when it became clear that manmade climate change endangered the living planet and its people, the world was in the grip of an extreme political doctrine, whose tenets forbid the kind of intervention required to arrest it.

Neoliberalism, also known as market fundamentalism or laissez-faire economics, purports to liberate the market from political interference. The state, it asserts, should do little but defend the realm, protect private property and remove barriers to business. In practice it looks nothing like this. What neoliberal theorists call shrinking the state looks more like shrinking democracy: reducing the means by which citizens can restrain the power of the elite. What they call “the market” looks more like the interests of corporations and the ultra-rich. Neoliberalism appears to be little more than a justification for plutocracy.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Welfare Incentives—II

Money for Nothing


 ~ Why invest in new products, plant or equipment, and hire more workers (jobs!) to make it happen, when the rate of return is so much higher from lobbying?

Welfare payments to industry

Time to cut the subsidies. We can expect corporations to work harder, just as people must, if they have less handed to them for doing nothing.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Entrepreneur Fuel

How Much Coffee is Too Much Coffee?


 ~ The latest medical wisdom?
If you like coffee, go ahead and drink as much as you want and can... If you drink [mass quantities], it's not going to do you any harm, and it might actually help you. A lot."
Too much coffee man

I'm going to tune out any further studies, preferring instead to spend my time brewing another pot.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Welfare Incentives

Our Unmotivated Oil Industry


 ~ Big Oil is getting worried about their subsidies going away as part of the action to address the so-called fiscal cliff. Horrors! They might lose their taxpayer-funded welfare! Said a letter signed by a phalanx of 14 lobbies:
Any attempts to target the oil and gas industry for punitive treatment should be avoided as higher taxes could put the economic growth we’ve created at risk.
Public support by party affiliation for various fiscal solutions

Yes, I suppose it "could" in the same way buying a lottery ticket "could" make me rich. Fat chance. But whether it is merely possible or not isn't really how we should decide this. Let's focus instead on likely outcomes. If I buy a lottery ticket I will make myself poorer by the cost of that ticket. And the potential "treatment"—reducing or eliminating taxpayer handouts to an insanely wealthy industry—is hardly "punitive." It will simply help out (a tiny bit) on our fiscal problems.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Where's It Wednesday—CXI

Where in Seattle is this?

Somewhere in Seattle... but where?

Answer next week.

Details on the weekly Where's It Wednesday puzzle here.
Other weeks' puzzles here.
Answer to last week's puzzle, after the jump.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Climate Change Taxes

New Policy Tools


Tom Toles cartoon | fixing climate change and the debt together
 ~ The world probably won't come to an end tomorrow, but it must certainly be close when conservatives start embracing new taxes:
More jobs and growth; reduced deficits without raising income taxes; lower taxes for middle-class families; a kick in the pants to Chinese polluters; and more happiness for American commuters -- one policy instrument can do it all. What's not to love about a carbon tax?
It's been working in British Columbia for a few years now. There's a lot to like about taxing behaviors and outcomes we want to reduce or eliminate.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Who Needs a Business Plan?

Show, Don't Tell


Scribe writing
 ~ Brad Feld, startup luminary, writes that the business plan has become an historical artifact.

He's right. Mostly.

It's certainly true that there's much less demand by investors for full-fledged business plans now than when I was starting my life as an entrepreneur 15 years ago. I'm just finishing up raising a seed capital round now, and of the roughly one dozen investors already in, not a single one has asked for the business plan. Why? None have told me, and I didn't ask, but it's not hard to guess—the only thing possibly more tedious than writing a business plan is reading one.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Illusory Problems

The Politics of Distraction


 ~ Misdirection, a key technique for those creating illusions.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The End

Rewarded by the Journey?


cartoon cliff
 ~ Perhaps you've been looking for this? Or perhaps this? Or this? Or this? Or maybe this?

Whatever you do, don't press the button and ruin it for the rest of us.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Climate Change Clown

"Lord" Monckton


 ~ Fitting, and long overdue:
Climate nincompoop 'Lord' Monckton
The hereditary peer, who is not a member of the House of Lords, took the chair of Myanmar and spoke into the microphone against U.N. climate change protocols.

After a short speech, in which he was booed, he was escorted out of the meeting by UN guards.

He is understood to have claimed there is no global warming in the last sixteen years, and therefore the science needs to be reviewed.

Claiming to represent Asian coastal nations, he is understood to have said: “In the 16 years we have been coming to these events there has been no global warming at all.”
Such buffoonery by Monckton is not new.

Monckton had his credentials to the conference permanently revoked, and his visa cancelled. He was to leave the country in 24 hours.

(h/t Grist)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Corporate Forgiveness

Well, Excuuuuuuuuuuse Me


Dimon and Blankenfein
 ~ The CEOs of America's largest business are ready to "forgive" the Obama Administration, provided they get more of what they want.

Yes, they're willing to offer forgiveness for the fact that their record profits aren't even better than ever. Mighty magnanimous of them.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Where's It Wednesday—CX

Where in Seattle is this?

Somewhere in Seattle... but where?

Answer next week.

Details on the weekly Where's It Wednesday puzzle here.
Other weeks' puzzles here.
Answer to last week's puzzle, after the jump.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Phytelligence at the Hort Show

Success!


 ~ I've missed blogging the past several days, because I was way too busy to spend any time on social media things. Instead, I've been getting ready and doing the Washington State Horticultural Association's big annual show.

Phytelligence booth at the Hort Show in Yakima

We had a great time and it was a great success for us. Will post more on the Phytelligence blog soon.