Re: It's not easy seeing green.

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If one's fridge doesn't have doors, then how does one get to all the delicious food inside?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 12:30 PM
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Energy-inefficiently.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 12:35 PM
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I thought the interesting thing about the study was that the best predictor of knowledge of energy efficiency was simple numeracy. One of the bloggers at Practical Ethics used this to point out that all the environmental awareness in the world doesn't amount to jack unless you have a basic sense of number.

All this to say, you are doing the Lord's work, Heebie.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 12:41 PM
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You know what the most energy-saving action is?

Mass extinction event.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 12:48 PM
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You know what the most energy-saving action is? Voting for politicians who will regulate coal factories. Who will pass a climate change bill. Who will get their heads out of their fucking asses and legislate sound policy.

Okay, this is admirable. Say you're one of the majority of (voting) Americans who has already done that, over and over again. What's step two?

In any case, it seems very unliekly anybody would have come up with that answer to the study question, unless they were trying to be all "oh yeah?" to the people administering the survey:

The study began with an open-ended survey question that asked participants to indicate the most effective thing they could do to conserve energy.

I don't find the study very meaningful because, as you suggested (and as Obama memorably pointed out) it's collective, but it seems weird to criticize the study's authors for not addressing an issue they explicit are not trying to address and also weird to be mad at the study's participants for not answering a question they weren't asked.

And, you know, in the absence of meaningful federal legislation (which we aren't going to get any time soon), hey, why not try and do something, or at least why not make an effort to help people understand that they're not actually doing anything, even when they think they are?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 12:51 PM
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Man that typo is gonna cost like a half-ton of carbon.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 12:52 PM
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Or those eight typos. Geez. I should take a nap, save some energy.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 12:54 PM
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All this to say, you are doing the Lord's work, Heebie.

But she can't even figure out how to split up a restaurant bill!

Anyway, I suspect it's all just propaganda from Big Math.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 12:56 PM
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but it seems weird to criticize the study's authors for not addressing an issue they explicit are not trying to address

The whole premise buys into these individual virtuosity measures. Asking "What is the most effective thing you can do?" - why ask that? Why phrase it that way? It kills off the possibility of any sort of answer that doesn't buy into the individual virtue premise.

And given that scientists carry some authority, it perpetuates this idea as well.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 1:04 PM
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Based on the linked post, the study sounds like there's a hippie-punching element to it (or as if it's being reported in that fashion). What does it mean to say that buying an energy efficient car saves more energy than riding a bike? I'm damn sure that 'not driving a car', energy efficient or not, a strategy that might be described as 'riding a bike', is going to save more energy than driving an energy-efficient car.

It looks as if at least some of the questions were set up with assumptions that make the obvious 'good environmentalist' answer wrong, even if more naturally occurring assumptions would support the good environmentalist answer.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 1:05 PM
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I'm confused. How can riding a bike be less energy efficient than driving a more fuel-efficient car?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 1:06 PM
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And given that scientists carry some authority

Wait, what?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 1:06 PM
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... and 11 pwned by LB in 10.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 1:07 PM
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11: I'm not entirely sure, but maybe the idea is that a few bike rides a week subbing in for car rides on a less fuel efficient car (and using that car the rest of the time) vs. using a more efficient car all the time still pumps out more carbon. What I don't get is why on earth you would compare those to (as everyone does), as they are pulling out of different resource pots: riding your bike more often requires fitness, schedule-organization and a lack of laziness [I am painfully aware of this as I lack all three] while buying a better car requires money.

This book was apparently inspired by a Cambridge physicists' wrath at being told to unplug his mobile charger in order to fight climate change. It's basically all over the numeracy angle.


Posted by: Ile | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 1:11 PM
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oh Im such a terrible web person.


Posted by: Ile | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 1:11 PM
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Here's another quote from the study, talking about how people could have been so silly as to think that central air was more efficient than room air conditioners:

or they may have failed to consider important factors related to actual energy consumption and savings (e.g., the volume of air cooled by a central air conditioner usually far exceeds that cooled by a room air conditioner).

So, the silly people taking the survey might have been mentally comparing a house in which all the rooms are cooled by room air-conditioners to a house in which the whole house is cooled by central air, and saying that central air would use less energy, rather than correctly comparing the energy use of a room air conditioner cooling one room to a central air conditioner cooling an entire house. Is it just me, or do the surveyers' assumptions on that one seem insane?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 1:13 PM
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There is definitely hippy punching in the way this is covered in the media, but the original study doesn't do that at all. In fact, the study shows that environmental awareness correlates *positively* with knowledge of how to save energy effectively. A separate factor, belief that you personally are saving energy, is negatively correlated with knowledge of how to save energy. The authors are careful to separate these. Journalists, on the other hand are careful to conflate them, and to only report the latter negative coloration.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 1:13 PM
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The paragraph quoted from article is obviously wrong:

"The top five behaviors listed by respondents as having a direct impact on energy savings (turning off the lights, riding a bike or using public transportation, changing the thermostat, "changing my lifestyle/not having children" and unplugging appliances or using them less) yield savings that are far outweighed by actions cited far less often, like driving a more fuel-efficient car."

For example, the average car in the UK uses about 80 kWh per 100 km; a passenger train uses between 3-9 kWh per 100 km per passenger; and a bicycle about 1 kWh (figures from David MacKay). Riding the bicycle instead of the car yields a saving that massively outweighs the saving you could get from a more fuel-efficient car (e.g. a Prius uses about 40 kWh per 100 km).

This seems to have been a mistake introduced by the New York Times writer; the paper itself makes no such claim.


Posted by: Gareth Rees | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 1:15 PM
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Okay, but what if I ride my bike to dinner at a fancy restaurant that serves wild kangaroo meat, flown in next-day air from Perth, while the guy in the Prius drives to the forest and eats a wild onion. Then who's history's greatest monster?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 1:17 PM
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Still Jimmy Carter.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 1:19 PM
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He always wins!


Posted by: Moving-Around Jimmy Carter | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 1:21 PM
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Here's the study. I think the 'ride a bike' versus 'drive a more efficient car' comparison comes from the first question, where they asked an open-ended question about what's the best thing you could do to save energy. Then, if I understand correctly (this is the stupid bit -- stupid in the original study, but much stupider as reported), they sorted the answers they got into 'efficiency' -- using better, more efficient equipment to do the same stuff -- or 'curtailment' -- doing less. And then they said that efficiency works better than curtailment generally, so anyone who gave an 'efficientcy' answer was wrong.

I may be confused -- reading papers like this is hard -- but I think that's roughly what it says.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 1:23 PM
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And then they said that efficiency works better than curtailment generally, so anyone who gave an 'efficientcy' answer was wrong.

I suspect this sentence did not come out the way you intended.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 1:25 PM
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In so many ways.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 1:25 PM
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Words like "efficiency" should be utterly eradicated from journalistic coverage of scientific and even social-scientific issues. It means something different in the jargon of various disciplines. Just like you could say people overestimated "How much work did you do last year?" because they didn't exert very much force on objects, causing them to move through a distance.

I also feel this way about the word "productivity". It means "amount of labor accomplished per worker", right? As far as I can tell the primary, possibly only, way that corporations "increase their productivity" within my memory is by firing people, thus reducing the easy-to-measure denominator while keeping the hard-to-measure numerator vaguely the same as far as anyone can tell. Winners all around!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 1:27 PM
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LB is Jimmy Carter?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 1:27 PM
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"Not having children would seem" to me to be pretty goddamn effective at preventing their using energy. So...


Posted by: A Guest | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 1:27 PM
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They seem to have done a weird conflation of aggregate effects and individual effects; in general people are only able to reduce their driving by so much, so getting an energy efficient car is likely to be a better net improvement in lifestyle than switching 50% (or whatever the number comes out to) of trips to a bicycle. But if you are able to replace almost all of your car trips with bicycle trips, or give up on owning a car altogether, then it seems, uh, rather implausible that said solution wouldn't be better in terms of net emissions.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 1:27 PM
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Here's the relevant quote:

The study began with an open-ended survey question that asked participants to indicate the most effective thing they could do to conserve energy. Two judges identified 17 mutually exclusive categories of responses in an initial set of 40 surveys (Table 1) and then independently coded the remaining responses. Interrater agreement was "almost perfect," with κ = 0.82 (18). We further classified these categories as curtailment actions (e.g., Turn off lights) or efficiency actions (e.g., Use efficient light bulbs), although some ambiguous responses (e.g., Conserve energy, Recycle) could not be classified in this manner. Despite Gardner and Stern's (6) conclusion that efficiency improving actions generally save more energy than curtailing the use of inefficient equipment, only 11.7% of participants mentioned efficiency improvements, whereas 55.2% mentioned curtailment as a strategy for conserving energy.

The "and so anyone who recommended curtailment is wrong" line isn't in the study, but seems to have been introduced in the reporting about it a fair amount.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 1:28 PM
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The didn't say that anyone who gave the curtailment answer was always wrong. Noticed that in general people were more inclined to mention curtailment, even though efficiency gains are more important.

It is a hard paper for an outsider to read.

Still, I blame the journalists for all the stupidity.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 1:28 PM
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Have there been any large-scale efforts to force owners of big apartment complexes to buy energy-efficient appliances? It wouldn't make much sense for me to buy new appliances since I'll probably only live in my apartment for one more year (plus it probably violates some terms of my lease). It doesn't make sense for my landlord to buy more efficient appliances, because their goal is to find the cheapest shit they can that people can tolerate enough to keep renting their place. The incentives seem all wrong.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 1:28 PM
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It's worth looking at the actual survey questions -- in fact there was no question about bicycles at all. The paper doesn't mention bicycles either.

So Felicity Barringer just made it up. Hippie-punching indeed.


Posted by: Gareth Rees | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 1:29 PM
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What makes the reporting on that bit so stupid is that people weren't choosing between riding a bike or driving a Prius, they were identifying one thing they could do to most effectively save energy. Analyzing that as if they'd gotten a comparative question (bike or Prius?) wrong is idiotic.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 1:32 PM
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I do think, though, that the gist of the study (which hasn't been reported very well) is that people don't realize how much benefit they can gain from switching to more efficient [ whatever it is ], and insofar as these products are available now, educating people that significant gains (in the limited scale we're talking about) are possible without necessarily curtailing activities (driving, frolicking in illuminated areas) seems like a net positive (so to speak).

Obviously, to the OP, it woul be better to provide an economic incentive (in the form of some kind of carbon pricing) for people to switch, but short of that, it seems like helping people understand that it's not all heavy sweaters and childlessness isn't a terrible thing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 1:32 PM
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31: One of my earliest political memories is listening to Rush Limbaugh mock the concept of a "BTU tax". I suppose the BTU tax still doesn't exist.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 1:32 PM
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Noticed that in general people were more inclined to mention curtailment, even though efficiency gains are more important.

Saying "efficiency gains are more important", though, as if it were an axiom, is ridiculous in itself. Someone living in Bangladesh uses one-eightieth the energy I do, and not through her use of high-tech efficient appliances.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 1:33 PM
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34.1: It is probably true that people don't realize how much they could painlessly save in terms of energy consumption by using more efficient stuff, and that that should be publicized. I don't think you can show that by looking at the study, though.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 1:35 PM
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34: Yes, the whole thing is premised on implicit assumptions about what are easy versus hard changes. Seems that there are less incendiary ways to make that point--like Obama did well with the tire pressure thing during the campaign.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 1:36 PM
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32: Looking at those survey questions, I remain irritated:

Check out question 2:

Think about an average household in the United States. Now think about the total amount of energy that is used directly by that household in one year. Consider that the energy used by a household can be divided into household operations, transportation and food production.

Household operations include electricity, natural gas, and heating oil that is used for the house.

Transportation includes air travel, motor travel, and public transportation used by people in the household.

Food production includes growing and shipping food that people in the household eat.

Please enter whole numbers with no other text (not decimals, ranges, or percent signs).

What percentage of the total energy consumed per year by an average household in the United States is attributed to energy used by household operations?___

What percentage of the total energy consumed per year by an average household in the United States is attributed to energy used by transportation?___

What percentage of the total energy consumed per year by an average household in the United States is attributed to energy used by food production?___

I'm pretty sure that non-food purchases also take energy to produce and transport. And yet they don't seem to fit into any of those categories. Are they supposed to go into "Household Operations"? Because the description wouldn't make you think so. If the questions are this ill-thought out, deducing that the survey respondents are confused seems unjustifies.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 1:49 PM
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the benefit from any change in action depends on the price elasticity of demand and supply. it really drives me nuts htat the people who don't get this are the ones that think hayek is so brilliant.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 1:50 PM
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I save energy by not commenting.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 1:53 PM
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D'OH!


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 1:53 PM
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I'm so efficient, I've already commented on this paper.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 1:54 PM
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43: Your productivity is so ... large.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 1:57 PM
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43: Kevin Drum had a post on it as well. I kind of looked at that one, and couldn't quite figure out what the study had shown -- I got that the takeaway was "No one has a good idea about how to save energy, and the more you say you care about it the stupider you are", but not what the study had actually shown, and I didn't bother to figure it out. I should learn to follow those up better.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 2:04 PM
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Heebie: And given that scientists carry some authority...

essear: Wait, what?

Most scientists have a lot of authority, essear. Just not you.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 2:06 PM
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remember when that one guy compared driving a car to walking, and then assumed walkers would have to eat more food, and that it would be industrial beef, and so walking is worse than driving. i think in slate or somewhere like that.

also agree with 31. My apartment the last few years is terribly drafty, and i'd have to pay very roughly roughly 500-2k per winter to heat it. I bought some lumber and foam and sealed up the door/window, and wore extra sweaters, but that probably was not kosher visavis the lease.

And almost as bad are the centrally heated place you can't control. My sister had one of those last year, and left her windows open all winter.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 2:12 PM
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46: Oh, good. I was worried there for a minute.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 2:25 PM
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48: You should try yelling "RESPECT MAH AUTHORITAH!!1!" at frequent intervals. That should do the trick.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 2:29 PM
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No, no, I prefer to be unauthoritative. Less pressure.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 2:38 PM
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50: So you want us to respect your lack of authority? Is that it?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 2:44 PM
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25: (Labor) efficiency in economics is output per worker. Output per worker has gone up a whole bunch in the last thirty years, while wages have not gone up. This is what has allowed the rich to become super-mega-rich.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 2:57 PM
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50: Scientific authority rests with the lab coat. Avoid that and you'll be fine.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 3:04 PM
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Actually the most effective form of green action is restricting immigration.


Posted by: bjk | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 3:54 PM
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It's not your fault, and don't take this as any kind of a judgment on your comments, but I can't look at your pseudonym without thinking Bind, Jorture, Kill.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 3:55 PM
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52: Yeah, if you look at a graph, it's stunning. From the end of WWII to the early '70's, productivity and wages rise together, then they split radically apart. Since then, productivity is up 50% and real wages are down about 18%.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 4:05 PM
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Jorture is like when someone tells you really awful jokes, right?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 4:08 PM
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I was more thinking of a serial killer with a really unusual speech impediment.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 4:09 PM
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55: what terrible comments, though! I mean, look at 54.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 4:12 PM
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58: And he's got a twin brother with the same impediment, except that brother walks the straight and narrow and goes on to fight for legal reform. Specifically, he's interested in Jort Reform.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 4:18 PM
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They share two pet turtles.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 4:20 PM
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61 = Awesome.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 4:28 PM
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*jortle*


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 4:48 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 5:20 PM
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I don't generally link to myself much - partly just because I don't post much, of course - but a recent blog post I wrote seems relevant. I'd link but I haven't figured out how on this new phone, so just follow the link to my blog. It's relevant, I swear.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 5:26 PM
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I'm confused. How can riding a bike be less energy efficient than driving a more fuel-efficient car?

riding the bike makes you hungry and you eat more. More exotic foods, possibly flown in from Australia!


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 6:32 PM
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wow, pwned multiple times. Never skip to the bottom to answer an early comment.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 6:34 PM
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I just want to thank you for this post, because I've seen the study blogged about in a couple of places but on quick skims of the inexpert summaries of the reporting on the study, I'd been so far unable to get the gist of it.


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 7:11 PM
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5

Okay, this is admirable. Say you're one of the majority of (voting) Americans who has already done that, over and over again. What's step two?

In what alternative universe has a majority of voting Americans repeatedly voted for extremely green politicians?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 8:08 PM
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In my alternative universe they have. And Nina from Sprout returns my e-mails instead of having her lawyers send threatening letters.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 8:13 PM
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I think my new rule this winter is that I can turn the thermostat up to 70 on any day that I write a letter to a public official, newspaper, or other important person about an environmental issue.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 8:13 PM
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72: You're keeping the thermostat below 70 degrees? In this heat??? You are truly history's greatest monster.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 8:21 PM
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66: Ah, the 2nd post down, not the Starcraft 2 one. (Starcraft 2 has dominated a sector of the household recently, 1v1ers, 3v3ers and even tournament watchers, for fuck's sake.) And yes, it pretty much describes the same media phenomenon.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 8:23 PM
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remember when that one guy compared driving a car to walking, and then assumed walkers would have to eat more food, and that it would be industrial beef, and so walking is worse than driving.

I didn't see that one, but I remember a really stupid one a few months ago (not in Slate, somewhere else) in which the writer tried to compare drinking water out of plastic bottles with using a stainless-steel one. Yet somehow the comparison stopped at the resources involved in producing plastic vs. steel. No analysis of 1x versus repeated shipping costs. Bizarre. (And I don't even have a dog in the fight.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 9:09 PM
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In what alternative universe has a majority of voting Americans repeatedly voted for extremely green politicians?

The more than half of the senate that (would have at some point) supported cap-and-trade are "extremely green" in your universe? Geez. Don't drink the water over there, is my advice.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 9:12 PM
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The more than half of the senate that (would have at some point) supported cap-and-trade are "extremely green" in your universe?

No, I think he's saying they aren't.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 9:15 PM
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More than half of voting Americans have voted for politicians who would have supported meaningful change but couldn't overcome the opposition by the politicians (voted for by far less than half of voting Americans) who were not interested in that, for various reasons. I don't get where "extremely green" comes into it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 9:22 PM
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I don't get where "extremely green" comes into it.

It doesn't. Shearer is inserting it, in his usual tendentious way, apparently to cast doubt on the idea that those politicians would have actually supported meaningful change if it hadn't been blocked by the others.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 9:25 PM
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76

The more than half of the senate that (would have at some point) supported cap-and-trade are "extremely green" in your universe? Geez. Don't drink the water over there, is my advice.

No they aren't extremely green. That was my point. It is unclear there were 51 votes in the Senate for anything, there weren't 51 votes for anything effective.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 9:26 PM
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well, and it passed the democratic half of congress.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 9:27 PM
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It is unclear there were 51 votes in the Senate for anything, there weren't 51 votes for anything effective.

And how do you know that?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 9:27 PM
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I mean, it contradicts what people were saying at the time, but it's certainly possible that you have some kind of a secret operative doing whip counts for you.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 9:28 PM
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(And I don't even have a dog in the fight.)

Dog fighting is very green as far as hobbies go.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 9:31 PM
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83

I mean, it contradicts what people were saying at the time, ...

It's easy to claim to support something that you know has no chance of passing or even coming up for a vote.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 9:36 PM
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I thought it was pretty clear there were 51 votes, and maybe even 60, up until the BP spill demolished the tenuous support from some Republicans like Lindsey Graham. We can debate whether the legislation that would have been passed would have been enough (we probably don't need to: it wouldn't), but just passing something would be a nice start and a precondition to future improvements.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 9:37 PM
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It was never clear to me that there were 60 votes. There probably were 51, but Shearer is right that expressing support and actually voting for the bill are different things.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 9:38 PM
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I suppose the argument against conserving energy on an individual basis is that your sacrifices are mostly benefiting others. But doesn't this argument apply to countries as well? Why should the United States make sacrifices that mostly benefit the rest of the world?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 9:39 PM
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85: well, yes, and it's just as easy to claim that something that didn't reach a 60 vote supermajority had no chance of passing. I'm relying on the public and privately leaked statements of all the principals, as filtered through the media. You're relying on (I guess) one of those legendary Shearer hunches? Should we do rock-paper-scissors or something? Because I'm not figuring out how to further progress otherwise.

86: I thought so too, but then I also thought Rashomon kinda dragged.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 9:40 PM
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I mean, you could just as easily claim that nobody in government or the relevant NGOs was ever serious about passing a climate bill. I'm sure somebody does.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 9:41 PM
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It was never clear to me that there were 60 votes.

Certainly it wasn't clear -- but it seemed like a possibility.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 9:48 PM
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A possibility, sure, but my impression was that prospects were not looking great even before Graham bolted. But I wasn't following it very closely at that point.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 9:54 PM
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89

... You're relying on (I guess) one of those legendary Shearer hunches? ...

Actually I'm relying on my belief that the House bill didn't do much. How much would it have raised the price of gas for example?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 10:26 PM
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Shearer's right about the elected officials. That there were maybe enough votes at one point to pass an almost completely symbolic gesture is not good evidence for environmental enthusiasm.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 10:48 PM
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That said, it was still an important thing to do.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 10:54 PM
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Why should the United States make sacrifices that mostly benefit the rest of the world?

Because it's the right thing to do, as well as the smart thing to do. Obama isn't wrong to note that there's a big and growing market for green energy, and it's largely developing outside of the United States.

Seriously, though, you think an extra $100/year for fuel and utilities is a sacrifice worth kvetching about?


Posted by: dob | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 11:52 PM
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"Actually I'm relying on my belief that the House bill didn't do much. How much would it have raised the price of gas for example?"

See, this is a good example of what the original post was talking about!


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 2:33 AM
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I actually think it's quite a good idea to make the point that you have to value efforts to save energy in the light of their chances of successful implementation. Obviously, you'd save a lot of energy by getting rid of your car and travelling exclusively by bike (and wouldn't you smirk, too!) - but this isn't equivalent to the proposition that "the best thing you can do is buy a bike". You may well find out that you can't eliminate your car, for example, if you live 40 miles from work.

Getting a turbodiesel that you actually drive would be a better idea than getting a bike you don't use very much and continuing to drive the old car. Similarly, rebuilding your house to passivhaus specifications will save a lot of energy, more than swapping out the lights, but do you have several hundred thousand bucks and two years handy?

Seriously, though, you think an extra $100/year for fuel and utilities is a sacrifice worth kvetching about?

Libertarianism is a belief system that badly needs a de minimis clause.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 5:09 AM
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96

Because it's the right thing to do ...

If this is a sufficient reason it applies to individual actions also.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 5:20 AM
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96

Seriously, though, you think an extra $100/year for fuel and utilities is a sacrifice worth kvetching about?

A carbon tax (not a BTU tax which is ridiculous) wouldn't bother me much. But conservation measures in general just delay the exhaustion of fossil fuels (and any resulting adverse climate effects) a few years, they won't by themselves prevent them.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 5:25 AM
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75: Allow me to present you with a dog. (Click on the graphic to make it readable.)


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 8:17 AM
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100 gets it right. Civilizational collapse in 50 years, civilizational collapse in 5000 years, it's all the same thing to Gaia.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 9:01 AM
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101: For someone like me who loses stuff, I do wonder about how long I'd have to successfully hold onto a stainless bottle to make it preferable to a series of plastic bottles. I solve this by mostly drinking water when I'm near a faucet and a cup, and refilling plastic bottles when I need a plastic bottle.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 9:06 AM
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I'm still convinced that if people are willing to buy bottled water, my give me a dollar idea is bound to work.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 9:21 AM
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104: Perhaps of interest to you.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 9:53 AM
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This weekend at the Baths, I heard a couple of guys debating the best kinds of bottled water, and one guy kept repeating, "I only drink Fiji. I only drink Fiji."

I will cop to enjoying a nice sparkling mineral water, in place of buying something like wine or beer to drink, but I really can't get behind bottled still water when NYS tap is so delicious. You want it cold? Put it in the refrigerator. Yum!

It really grates on me that it's so difficult to get a cup of ice water in some places. No, I don't want to spend $2 on a bottle of water with my cup of coffee. This happened in Germany a lot, despite the tap there being perfectly lovely.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 10:17 AM
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This basically can't be true, right?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 10:21 AM
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107: Nope! And not being "green" is the least of it.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 10:24 AM
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105: It won't work. He's got the schtick wrong. He needs to appeal to self image of the young and carefree. The whole thing needs to have a Flash intro and models giving him a buck.

He's just engaging in and making fun of ordinary internet begging. I'm going to change the whole paradigm for how people relate in the 21st century. See the last decade was all about creating a social networking level on top of the internet. The next layer, web 3.0, will be about harnessing the connectivity to reshape society. And give me a dollar.

106: You can also use one of these to make your tap water fizzy.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 10:26 AM
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106 I always was able to get it when I asked specifically for 'Leitungswasser'.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 10:37 AM
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I will cop to enjoying a nice sparkling mineral water

Well, up to a point, Lord Copper. Yeah, I usually drink mineral water when I go out, it's what there is. But what was good enough for Joseph Priestly is good enough for me. The only problem being to find a bar that stocks it, because it's so cheap.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 10:40 AM
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Speaking of "Give Me a Dollar" scams, did they try this stunt in America?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 10:48 AM
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109.last: To repeat myself and ruin more people's day (if they care about those things) Soda Club/Soda Stream are made in an illegal West Bank settlement.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 10:48 AM
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"I only drink Fiji. I only drink Fiji."

I only light $20 bills on fire. I only light $20 bills on fire.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 10:49 AM
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Burning Andrew Jackson in effigy is to be applauded.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 10:50 AM
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109.2: The Rob Helpy-Chalk Decade.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 10:50 AM
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113: Shit.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 10:52 AM
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DON'T GIVE ROB A DOLLAR. HE'LL ONLY USE IT OPPRESS PALESTINIANS.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 10:54 AM
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112:

Bromide is a naturally occurring trace chemical which has a sedative effect. It is said to have been added by the British army to soldiers' tea during the second world war to dampen down their lust.

Lust-dampening is in the tap! Only rain water for me and Gen. Ripper.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 10:57 AM
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I've always already not given Rob a dollar.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:00 AM
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119: Oh, God. I can see it already. The next big trend in college Greek communities: getting your buddy to drink bromide-laced Dasani.

Bros Bro-ing Bros!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:02 AM
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Only rain water for me and Gen. Ripper.

And Sharron Angle.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:03 AM
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I have probably given Robert a dollar. But he has also probably given me a dollar. So I hold myself blameless.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:06 AM
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113, 117 - The situation is somewhat more complex than that! I believe the West Bank-produced ones were going to Northern Europe, leading Sweden to become livid etc.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:16 AM
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124: I guessed that that was the case (that perhaps the WB ones only went to Europe) the last time this came up, but I can't find any evidence of that (except that it comes up as a problem in Europe, and never here, but that wouldn't be a problem here). The bottom line is still that they're a company that wants to do its business from an illegal settlement in the West Bank.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:19 AM
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There are I think 7 other factories, though.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:22 AM
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Yeah, Snark did some more reading the last time this came up, and somehow what he found made me feel a little better, but once again I can't remember the details.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:31 AM
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I can't remember the details.

That God specifically promised that land to the chosen people, perhaps?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:34 AM
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There are used Soda Streams on eBay, if that makes buying one ethically acceptable to you (and there are biscuits in the cupboard if you want some).


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:35 AM
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It is said to have been added by the British army to soldiers' tea during the second world war to dampen down their lust.

A similar myth was going around in 2003, viz. that NAPS tablets made you impotent. That would have been a real problem if Iraq had actually had any chemical weapons. Whew!


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:37 AM
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My SodaStream has definitely been a good purchase, environmental-impact-wise, unless of course it turns out that the CO2 cartridges are somehow made in a specially earth-destroying fashion. I wish it could lack all ethical complications.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:37 AM
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I was just looking at the stuff again and the most I can find is that certain parts for the product are manufactured in Maale Adumim.
From an Israeli workers' rights site:

Ian Wachtmeister, who is the Chairman of the company, says that he and Johan Kalling were not aware of the problem. The factory where the parts are manufactured is not owned by "The Empire", it is owned by a company called "Soda Club". The owner is a venture capitalist from Israel. Johan Kalling states that he has visited this factory and he considers the work conditions to be good. An opinion that is not shared by Salwa Elinat. She is a coordinator for the Workers Rights Organisation Kav la Oved and she has recently met with workers from the factory. "The Palestinian workers say that they are being discriminated against, they don't even earn half of the minimum wage and the work conditions are terrible. If they demand their rights they will be fired. It is like this in many factories in this area but Soda Club's factory is one of the worst" she says to Ekot.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 11:38 AM
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131: Ours, too, both environmental-wise and creating-excitement-for-the-small-nieces-and-nephew-wise.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:18 PM
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132: Also like rfts & snarkout, we bought ours before we knew that we were oppressing Palestians, so stop judging us.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:19 PM
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I thought about this thread yesterday when BR and I drove an hour (each way) to see two Unfoggeders. The two unfoggeders are committed walkers, vegatarians and stewards of the environment.

BR and I are dirty, gas-guzzling, date-wrapped-in-bacon eaters, and harmers of the environment.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:45 PM
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A commitment to only driving Chevy Vegas seems not particularly enregy efficient.


Posted by: Jimmy Pongo | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:53 PM
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On the other hand the Basassery offsets can balance out most of that, I hear.


Posted by: Jimmy Pongo | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:55 PM
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Palestians and Basassery? Too much enregy


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:58 PM
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Surprising number of Google hits for "Basassery". A meme? A type of restaurant?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 1:02 PM
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Goddammit!

"Badassery"

But if I weren't a commited vegatarian, I would get out of my muscle car and open up a chain of Basassery restaurants accross this fine bas filled land of ours. And wouldn't that be a relief?


Posted by: Jimmy Pongo | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 1:13 PM
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140.last: And wouldn't that be a relief?

If it weren't for low humor, there'd be no humor at all.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 1:16 PM
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141: STOP MAKING FUN OF THE WAY I TALK!


Posted by: OPINIONATED COW | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 1:20 PM
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Ooh update! In their new article, "A Convenient Contrarianism: Part DLXVII", Slate explore whether E-readers are more eco-friendly than books. Libraries are mentioned but the concept of the "used book" is unexplored. Also they answer Becks's age-old question of whether buying everything online is the eco-friendly option by assuming that it is. KILL ME NOW


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 2:23 PM
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Parents, they fuck us up.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 3:11 PM
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144: Obligatory.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 3:14 PM
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143: It took me a while to be seduced by it, but being able to buy books from Amazon and have them delivered to my iPhone instantly is really bad in terms of impulse buying. And they really are less desirable in terms of being lendable, or being referable to -- I'd much rather have a paperback. But the siren call of "You could have that book you just thought of right now to read on the subway home" is really seductive.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 3:29 PM
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Even after owning it for a year, the iPhone really still feels like science fiction. It's not perfect, but being able to read/hear/watch/look up almost anything I can think of, almost anywhere, in a minute or so, boggles me -- it hasn't become the new normal, it still means I'm living in the future.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 3:53 PM
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being able to read/hear/watch/look up almost anything I can think of, almost anywhere, in a minute or so

But not The Remembered Visit!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 3:57 PM
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148: Why not?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 3:59 PM
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145: Someday when I am truly worthy I will comment on that thread.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 4:14 PM
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Well I'll be.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 4:19 PM
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I don't think that album is particularly successful, though.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 4:19 PM
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