Saturday, August 06, 2011

Please Take This Presence Lamp Survey.

Do you have a loved one lived apart from you, such as a elderly parent in another city or a child in college?
If so, please take this anonymous survey, testing an idea for a technology supporting distant relationships

Thursday, August 04, 2011

100 Per Cent Solutions

Things that We The People both need and deserve:
  1. 100% self-government: every adult should vote in every election. Even people who I think are wrong must have their voice.
  2. 100% employment: everyone who wants a job should have a job that helps them feed their family.
  3. 100% transparency: in government and public works, information that affects the public must be known to the public. There are very very few exceptions with respect to security, quite a bit more with respect to personal privacy.
  4. 100% independence in energy and strategic materials: Currently we import all our personal computers, which puts us at the mercy of ... who?
  5. 100% public safety (police, fire, disaster preparedness and response)
  6. 100% health coverage: if you're sick, we heal you. It's basically public safety on the retail level.
  7. 100% food coverage: if you're hungry, you get fed. If this is because you don't have a job, see above.
  8. 100% education: If you have the ability and the will to study to become a doctor, then we send you to medical school because that's good for our whole nation.
  9. 100% access to justice: If you have a legal dispute, our legal system helps you get a fair shake. You might lose (after all, sometimes you are in the wrong!) but you don't get over just because the other side can afford a lawyer and you can't.
  10. 100% care:  our elderly, disabled and children. My friends, this is called "civilization". We do not let our helpless die in the gutter.
Some people may complain: "That's not practical!" but so what? complainers never achieved anything. A goal must be high to be worth attaining. And sometimes: you meet your goal.
Some people may complain: "We can't afford that!" but they are wrong on the facts. We are the richest nation on earth, and every single item above makes us richer. An unemployed person has the ability to do more, but not the opportunity. We cannot afford NOT to set 100% goals.

Jobs, Education and More Jobs - a Modest Proposal

This makes a lot of sense; it's fast, focused and smart. A message about jobs now plus education::
"With unemployment remaining above 9%, and fear of a double-dip recession, America needs millions of jobs NOW.
Trickle-down policies like tax cuts will not create millions of jobs.
Neither will complex infrastructure projects with long lead times, heavy capital equipment, and few workers - as ARA overseer Ron Klain explained.
Instead, we need an emergency jobs program that puts every single dollar into payroll. has a simple emergency jobs plan: hire a teacher's aide for every public school teacher in America for one year.
That's over 3 million jobs - and they can start on September 1 when school starts.
If we put 3 million of the 14 million unemployed Americans to work, the official unemployment rate would immediately drop from 9% to 7%.
In addition, the multiplier effect would add another 1 million jobs and reduce unemployment to 6.4%
How to run it?
We would administer a test to all applicants to determine the highest grade level at which they can meaningfully help the teacher.
We would give preferences to military veterans, and to workers who have exhausted their state's maximum unemployment benefits (so-called 99ers).
We would use law-enforcement databases to exclude applicants with criminal convictions and sex offenses.

How much would it cost?
If the Federal government paid each aide $30K per year, the total 1-year gross cost to employ 3 million workers is only $90 billion.
Moreover, the $90 billion gross cost would be offset by savings in unemployment, Medicaid, food stamps, and other safety-net programs. There would also be increased revenues for Social Security, Medicare, and federal/state/local taxes. Thus the net cost would be roughly $55 billion.
By contrast, the extension of the Bush tax cuts was expected to create just 1 million jobs at a cost of $858 billion - 1/4 the jobs at 15 times the cost.
Where could the $55 billion come from?
1. Extending the Bush Tax Cuts for the rich cost $858B. Raise $55B through a temporary millionaire surtax that is popular in every poll.
2. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cost $160B each year. Raise $55B by bringing 1/3 of our troops home.
3. Corporate welfare, including subsidies for Big Oil and Ethanol, costs $2 trillion. Raise $55B by slicing 3% out of corporate welfare.

PetitionDear Representative,
America's jobs crisis is much worse than its debt crisis - it's an emergency.
Official unemployment is already over 9%, the worst since the Great Depression. That's 14 million Americans who cannot find any job.
Another 12 million Americans are barely surviving on part-time jobs, or have given up altogether.
And economists say the "Budget Deal" will kill another 1.8 million jobs.
We're in a downward spiral that could lead from Recession to Depression.
America cannot wait - Congress must act now.
I urge you to enact an Emergency Jobs Bill to put 3 million Americans to work immediately as Teachers' Aides.
Our overburdened teachers and struggling students need the extra help, and our desperate unemployed need the jobs.

More information:

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Repurpose-Driven Life (#ctww)

This weekend, I lived a better (richer, more fun, less expensive, useful) life in part through repurposing things I had already.

Repurposed bamboo & twine
Our tomatoes have grown to the point at which they need support. Home Depot had plenty of inexpensive options, but I'm trying to be frugal and also to exercise creativity, so I looked around my inventory. With an hour of tinkering, I put together a nice functional frame using several staves of bamboo, the binder twine from last year's hay bales, and lashing technique learned from Mr. Sorenson in Boy Scout Troop 19 so many years ago (Thanks, Mr. Sorenson!)

Squidden dries a week of socks
outdoors as well as indoors!

Sunday we did laundry, and because it was so sunny, we set our drying racks outside. They work much faster in the open air with a gentle breeze blowing. Some day we'll get a regular outside laundry line going, but for the moment, moving our indoor racks outside is fine. Our "Squidden" sock dryer looks ready-made for Hallowe'en!

This week's Change the World Wednesday Challenge is all about reducing or eliminating the use of paper towels and suchlike, but I can't recall the last time I used a paper towel in our home. We have them, but for every purpose (except those involving toxins such as engine oil), a simple cotton cloth is better. They're inexpensive and last a long time; often I have repurposed a worn T-shirt into a cotton rag for many additional uses (See "Favorite T-Shirt Goes On To Another Life"). The only downside to cotton is that it has to be washed, but the volume of cotton napkins & rags we have is insignificant next to the sheets. Drying them in the sun provides an added saving!
 I do sometimes get paper napkins when we order takeout, but it occurs to me that we don't need them; if I tell the cashier to hold the napkins, I'm sure they'd be happy to comply. It's just a question of remembering to minimize or eliminate disposable napkins whenever possible!