Friday, March 16, 2012

Our Own Power Plants!

Signing the Contract with
Kevin from Solterra Systems
Using less oil has become more practical for my family because the roof on the house we bought last year was in such bad shape that we could install solar cells only after reroofing.

That's good news becuase now the credit union will finance the roof on the same loan as the cells! The CU isn't being charitable of course; the reason they don't normally finance roofs is the difficulty of repossession, whereas the solar units are relatively easy to move and resell should there be a default on the loan. So the upshot is that the CU has a secured loan that pays them well, and we will be generating most of our own electricity (here in cloudy Seattle!) and occasionally feeding a bit into the grid.

I had thought that the incentives and so forth were simply social engineering, and perhaps there is some of that, but what I have come to realize is that I am effectively capitalizing peak-load generating capacity for Seattle City Light! Electricity usage peaks (during the week) roughly the same time as peak solar energy production (10am-2pm) so my units are not competing against the cheap baseload generators, but against the expensive stuff that kicks in when everyone's running their work computers etc. City Light *could* invest in more capacity but instead *I* and other homeowners are taking the risk and borrowing the capital. My investment breaks even in 14 years (which may not sound fast, but remember, I'm not investing any labor time into this!), and after that it's pure profit.

Yay micro-capitalism!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Topics in Digital Law Practice: a really good MOOC

The Center for Computer Aided Legal Instruction (CALI) is doing a 9-week Massively Open Online Class (MOOC) entitled "Topics in Digital Law Practice" with a subversively useful structure:
a series of expert webcasts, including Q+A for the realtime participants, each of which comes with publicly viewable wiki'd homework assignments.

Does this sounds unexceptional? the technology required is available to any smart middleschooler today. But the homework element makes it just plain better than just about any other continuing ed class I've taken. Who wants to craft the best solution to the homework problem? Why I do of course ... and so do enough other participants to make it fun.

And if the homework assignments are well-chosen to result in a useful compendium of knowledge ...

For example, Class #5 was about free legal research online, during which a major issue raised was the efficient sifting through the overly large mound of potentially useful sources of law. The homework assignment is to
(A) locate the most authoritative sources of law (statutory & case law) for one state and (B) add that to a Primary Legal Research Sources by State page which will be quite a useful compendium for CALI and free for all comers!

There isn't any scoring; each student who produces satisfactory homework is rewarded with a badges plus the pleasure of creation and the bragging rights for a Job Well Done.

This model could be used in a number of fields.

Happy Pi Day!

Today, at 1:59 and 26 seconds, it was 3.14.1:59:26.
In honor of irrational numbers everywhere, here's a few images.

Rick Perry Is A Serial Rapist

Rick Perry Smiles
As He Orders the Rape by Sonogram
of 80,000 Texas Women
Texas Governor Rick Perry ordered the rape of up to 80,000 Texas women a year by signing and threatening to enforce a law mandating the involuntary vaginal probing of any woman seeking a safe and legal abortion.
Under the common law and Texas statute, rape includes the nonconsensual insertion of inanimate objects into a woman's vagina. In ordering these probes, Perry becomes the leader of a rape gang and under conspiracy statutes is liable for any crimes committed in its furtherance.
Perry is known to be armed and dangerous. If you see him, do not approach! Leave the area and contact local law enforcement.
The rapist Rick Perry is at serious risk of repeating his offenses. As recently as January 2012 he told media of his pleasure are ordering rape by sonogram, and of his intention to ensure they continue.
Perry is considered a serious flight risk. He has access to millions of dollars in funds given to him by associates, and an organized gang assisting his efforts to rape tens of thousands of women.
All law-abiding citizens should call upon the Governor of Texas to order the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) establish a multi-jurisdictional major crime task force to help local law enforcement agencies catch this serial rapist and give him the justice he deserves.

Monday, March 12, 2012

What Violated MY Conscience? (#ViolatesMyConscience)

If we're going to say that an employer who gets a tax credit for proving health insurance to his employees does not have to cover contraception, on the grounds that the government can't force you to pay for something that violates your conscience, can we make a list of things that I am forced to pay for that violates MY conscience?

  • The occupation of Afghanistan
  • The oil depletion allowance 
  • Nuclear weapons
  • The invasion of Iraq
  • The blockade of medical supplies to pre-invasion Iraq
  • ...
I'm sure you can think of a few more yourselves!

The point is this: in a democracy, we don't always get our way. I'm a liberal; I'm USED to not getting my way. But that doesn't mean I pout!