April 29, 2007

Energy Conservation vs. Environmental Conservation

Wait a minute - what do you mean my new CFL lightbulbs contain mercury? Yes, I guess it DOES say it right on the box. In fact, it says I must dispose of them according to local and state laws. Yeah, I'll get right on that. In fact, I'll have my corporate lawyer look up those disposal instructions right now. The main link goes to a story about a woman who dropped one of these new CFLs.....onto a carpet.....in her house......and it broke.....and cost her thousands to get cleaned up properly.

Are CFL's right for homes? People drop light bulbs all of the time, and when they break, they may not be aware of the high risk they are at for exposure and what Mercury can do to them. Mad as a hatter was a term coined because working with mercury would make hat-makers insane. We already know that mercury is extremely bad for the developing minds of young children. Is a chemical so dangerous that it's no longer allowed in children's toys or medical implements (thermometers) be put into every light socket in America, in the name of energy conservation?

At what point does one environmental catastrophe pay for another? Yes, we need to save energy, but I'm not so sure that I'm feeling very safe now that I realize that I've put 10-12 mercury-laden bulbs in my house. I know that I didn't read the warnings on the box before seeing this article on the Internet. Are American families being asked too much of when they're asked to dispose of these bulbs according to applicable laws? [The answer is yes - SOME_MADE_UP_NUMBER % of people don't even both to separate/recycle.] When we start mass-producing these bulbs, do we even have a place to put them when they burn out; or even a process to recover the mercury to make them safe to dispose of?

You just KNOW that these CFLs are going to end up in landfills. I'm seriously thinking, after reading this article, that we've made a big mistake in marketing CFLs to the population at large. Not that we have many alternatives to incandescent lighting yet, but this doesn't seem like a viable option.

April 19, 2007

The Psychology of Overreaction

There's a reason I call this blog Randomblings. It's mainly because I want to ramble on and get all of the short thoughts out of my head and onto paper (heh) without having to bother putting them together to form a complete argument or stated thoughts. Today will be one of those days.

What is it that drives people to overreact to their environment? Let's start with the VA Tech shooting this week. A crazed mass-murderer went on a rampage and killed, what, 33 people, and wounded a score more. He planned the rampage, as evidenced by the note he left, the bomb threats he called in, the fact that he purchased two weapons at separate times. This man was crazy. I feel horrible for the victims, really, truly horrible. But that's the entirety of my reaction. I'm not about to put the blame for this incident on the shoulders of anyone else. Others, however, are blaming the campus police, the university, the teachers, the mental health community, society (video games - Dr. Phil), immigration policy [thanks, Bill O'Reilly] and Virginia state gun laws.

The flaw here is that people look at these statistical outliers and start to react with their preconceived agendas. People who don't like guns blame gun laws. People who don't like immigrants blame immigrants. People who don't like rent-a-cops blame the campus police. We need to focus, people, and blame the crazy son-of-a-bitch that shot 50-odd people.

So many thoughts run through my head. I don't know how many of you already know, but I would call myself a Libertarian. One of the first thing I think about when people start talking about more restrictive gun laws to help prevent this is the oft-misquoted phrase "Those who would sacrifice liberty for safety deserve neither." I looked up the quote, it's actually "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.", and researchers believe that the quote belonged to Benjamin Franklin, although it goes unattributed in the original publication (info on Wikiquote btw). No matter who said it, there is a lot of wisdom in this little quote. The erosion of our rights is more dangerous to American society in the long run than individual accounts such as what happened at VA Tech.

As far as rights erosion goes, gun rights have long been hotly debated, but free speech probably less so, especially when we're talking about the opinionated speech of our fellow man when it does not use federally funded airwaves. Well, the day after the shooting, a student was arrested in Colorado for stating out loud that he was empathetic toward the VA Tech killer. He was arrested for saying that some things about his environment made him angry enough to kill people........ARRESTED......AND CHARGED WITH A CRIME......FOR OPENING HIS MOUTH.

I guess the police would rather that he close his mouth and just stew on his thoughts for a while. God forbid that he discuss his feelings openly with students and teachers. No, they might be shocked to know that he was angry. It is better for him to keep his feelings to himself until he snaps.....


God (if you believe in him) created us with the ability to speak. We have vocal chords, brains to think with, air in our lungs. To legislate our ability to speak when the speech itself does not deprive our fellow man of life, liberty or the ability to pursue their own happiness, should be a crime because that legislation itself would be depriving each one of us of our liberty.

I could write more, but I don't have the time right now....I'll rant more later.