How to save gas

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This article describes some of the do’s and don’ts of trying to save gas in cars.  I was thoroughly surprised how large of an impact some of their tips had, which were tested by several sources.Gas saving tips

Wow:

  • 37% – extra overall fuel consumption from rapid acceleration in city driving
  • 12-20% – better mileage from driving at 100km/h rather than 120km/h

Anatomy of a Talking Point

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For years, we’ve been vaguely aware of Republican Talking Points, a set of officially sanctioned statements sent out to a mailing list of conservatives with the intent of keeping their message, and lies, consistent. Everyone from congressmen to Fox News anchors were on the list, and dutifully recited their talking points at every opportunity, ad nauseum. Yet, we’ve had few glimpses into this shadowy world of partisan spin until now.

Recently the Justice Department accidently pubished their talking points. Here you can read actual talking points from the memo sent to all Justice employees. It lists the exact statements partisan hacks are required to make in response to news stories which have yet to break in the mainstream media.

The invention of the talking point was brilliant, from a political point of view. They insure that the party leaders have control over the message, and thus the media. By creating a unified front, they frustrate investigative journalists and control the truth. Talking points in the past have urged wars in the middle east, spread propaganda about the administration’s enemies, attacked the integrity of their opponents like Joe Wilson, covered up mismanagement, nepotism, and fraud, deliberately confused the issues and generally misled the public.

If the current US administration has made mistakes, even committed crimes, then every person on their talking points mailing list is an accomplice and should meet the same judgement.

Al Franken would be a good Senator

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I think this is a good thing: Al Franken making U.S. Senate bid in Minn.

True, I’m a bit biased being a liberal person, but one thing is obvious: he’s an intelligent person who is willing to speak about the truth. I think that’s much better than 90% of politicians.

The media is offended for us

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These days it seems nothing can be done without offending some interest group, claiming to represent some minority of the population. I used to think these interest groups were finding ways to have much larger voices than they should, but I’m beginning to think it’s more the medias fault. We all know the media is all about sensationalism, and what’s more sensational than some interest group claiming they’ve been discriminated against?

I found these pretty ridiculous, in response to Super Bowl ads:

  • An ad showed a Robot contemplating being layed off and dreamed about jumping off a bridge. An anti-suicide group is offended, of course.
  • The snickers ad has gay groups up in arms. For the record, I’m definitely in the pro-gay-rights camp. I fully realize the ad may have rubbed some people the wrong way, but to the extent that it needs national media attention?

Come on. First of all, I can’t imagine very many real people (who don’t work for an interest group lobby) are actually offended by those ads. Second, it’s humour. It’s not intended to make a statement but to be funny.

I didn’t see any of those commercials broadcast, but because of all this furor I’ve seen them now, is that what these interest groups would want?

Defeated by Greed

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Lately, the waste, fraud and corruption of Halliburton has been getting a lot of attention. Yet the underlying lesson has yet to be learned.

The involvement of Halliburton and it’s infamous subsidiary KB&R in the Iraq war and it’s aftermath are generally public knowledge. We’ve know for years about their incompetence, like their attempts to provide unfiltered sewage-contaminated water to troops as drinking water. Their defense? No formal standards were set out for contractors that explicitly mandated effective water purification. They saw a corner they could cut and they cut it.

At the same time, KB&R has been selling fuel and supplies to the military at such huge markups that the military tried to sue them for fraud. Had the Administration not stepped in, they might have won that lawsuit.

Does it seem odd to anyone that a country with perhaps the most advanced military in the world would even need to outsource? It’s hardly a cost-saving measure for the military. Yet, all of the most essential tasks in post-Saddam Iraq have been contracted out, from reconstruction to security. Even intelligence gathering and interrogation are managed by civilians.

One of the factors hindering enlistment in the US military these days is the attractive salary of a contractor. Those working for KB&R get paid three to four times as much as a trained US soldier, without the hastle of boot camp training or the constraints of US military law. They get an ID badge, a plane ticket and a gun. These contractors are overpaid, undertrained, undisciplined and completely unaccountable for their actions.

With so much responsibility in the hands of such irresponsible people, is it really any surprise that reconstruction is stalled, security is a joke and the faith of Iraqis in their American liberators has evaporated?

History will look back and say that Bush was defeated by his unthinking obedience to Cheney, and Cheney was defeated by his own greed. The very company they thought would enrich them through kickbacks from no-bid government contracts has failed them at every turn. They thought they could outsource reconstruction, yet Iraqis have fewer basic services than they did under Saddam. They thought they could outsource security, and look at the result. And still Halliburton is making billions for their folly.

Bush and Cheney tried to run the country like their friends at Enron ran their business. They ran the Iraq war like a dot com. They outsourced planning, diplomacy and reconstruction and found that the companies they outsourced to are every bit as incompetent and corrupt as they are!

Which is why they can’t win. It’s like an internet startup promising a telepathic user interface. They can promise all they want, even go on expensive marketing campaigns, maybe raise some venture capitol for their vaporware. But they’ll never deliver. At the end of the day, the CEO pockets the money while the company and its shareholders spiral into bankrupcy.

Except that doesn’t work anymore. Skilling went to prison, Kenny Boy got the death penalty, Rumsfeld is facing charges for his war crimes, and similar fates await the Administration’s notorious leaders when they leave office.