Monday, March 30, 2009

NtM- March 30.2009

News That Matters
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"Yet in parts of the region, the decline is being met by an unlikely optimism. Some people who have long fought to clear-cut the region’s verdant slopes are trying to reposition themselves for a more environmentally friendly economy, motivated by changing political interests, the federal stimulus package and sheer desperation."

Good Monday Morning,

For those of you not locked away in a sub-basement last evening, a line of thunderstorms came through the county hitting Philipstown about 8PM and passing Patterson about an hour later. The peas, lettuce and radishes in the garden enjoyed the drink. It really is spring!

Last week Carmel police nabbed a dangerous man on the bike path in Mahopac. No, he wasn't a child molester or an Icelandic terrorist recently escaped from Guantanamo Bay. He wasn't affiliated with AIG Insurance nor was he a member of Congress. No, he was just pissing on the side of the trail and charged with public lewdness and having an open container. So, what was it that brought the weight of authority down on this man? Did neighbors go screaming to the police? Did he shake more than twice? No, he was the wrong guy. See, Carmel police were looking for someone that looked like him but upon finding he wasn't who they were looking for decided, rather than to say, "Jeez man, we're sorry," and go on about their business, they nabbed him.
But let's think about the cost of nabbing that guy from the time police spent writing a ticket to the time the courts will spend on his case to the time this guy has to take off from work to answer the charges and the lost productivity of his employer. It's probably many hundreds of dollars. And if we ran our governments like we do well-managed corporations we'd know exactly what it costs, right down to the electricity used for his 15 minutes in court. Is it worth it?

We have many laws on the books that perhaps we might want to revisit or, at the very least, reassess how thye are enforced. If the guy wasn't hurting anyone or destroying property, where's the 'crime'? The ancient Hebrews used to throw out all their laws every seven years and keep only the ones which were regularly enforced and germane for the time. It's not a bad lesson to consider.

News Shorts:
  • Kevin McConville, 52 of Cold Spring, former MTA police chief, has entered the race for Putnam County Sheriff which brings the field to, oh, 40 or so... or at least it seems that way.
  • Scientists have discovered what anyone with half-a-brain already knows; when you drop that lobster into a pot of boiling water it feels pain.
  • A significant minority of psychiatrists and therapists are still attempting to help lesbian, gay and bisexual clients become heterosexual despite lack of evidence that such treatment is beneficial or even safe.
  • For all of you who participated in "Earth Hour" last Saturday evening, you did so without the 1.3 billion people who live in China. Last Friday, the Chinese government officially pulled the plug on the celebration. Students at Beijing University were explicitly warned not to "overtly participate" in the global event.
  • While right-wingers are praying that the nation collapses so that they can elect one of their own from the ruins in 2012, left-wingers have taken to calling the president Barack Obush. If everyone on the extremes dislikes the man, he must be doing something right.
The FAA is withholding information concerning the number of bird strikes airplanes encounter each year. They say they're afraid the public will get an "inaccurate perception" of airplane safety.  My, they really do think we're pretty stupid. Email the FAA the following message:
Dear Airplane people,
Thank you for keeping this information qu iet. The American people do not need too know how saif airplanes are and I think you should keep up the good werk. I feel beter now. My son wants to be a pilet one day if he do not become a NASCAR driver.
The most active and commented on story at the blogsite is the one about the Town of Kent's attempt to increase its supervisor's term from two years to four. But there's more there! Here's what's been posted to the blogsite lately:

And now, the News:

  1. Don't use subdivision as a traffic shortcut
  2. Conservation easements preserve open space
  3. Get it fresh from the farm
  4. EPA Helps Put America Back to Work Protecting Human Health and Cleaning Up the Environment
  5. Building Good Roads
  6. Loggers Try to Adapt to Greener Economy
  7. Advisory Against Visiting Caves
  8. Social Business: Health Savings Microphilanthropy
  9. Detachable RV Concept Shows Off Injection-Molded Future

Don't use subdivision as a traffic shortcut

A NYJN Letter to the Editor:

For the past 41 years, I have lived in Carmel. My neighbors and I strongly object to opening Kelly Road to Enoch Crosby Road as Councilman Richard Honeck suggested per The Journal News on March 7 ("Southeast spars over paving of dirt road"). Doing so would create a new primary access to the new subdivision on Enoch Crosby.

Read More

Conservation easements preserve open space

A legal strategy to protect privately-owned land in Virginia is growing in popularity nationwide.

Every spring since 2004, Esther and Pablo Elliott have tended the soil of their 91-acre organic farm, and every summer and fall they’ve been rewarded with broccoli, tomatoes, okra, chard and more. Just an hour’s drive from Washington, D.C., Stoney Lonesome Farm is the Elliotts’ passion and provides much of their livelihood. So in 2004, they were horrified to learn that the Commonwealth of Virginia was planning to slice a new highway exchange and electrical corridor through their treasured farmland.
The rumbling of nearby development started the family thinking about protecting their land for the long-term (although those particular projects have since been shelved or rerouted amid shrinking local budgets and public outcry). The Elliotts began discussions with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving open space in the state, about the possibility of getting a conservation easement — a legal tool that limits future uses of a property and is administered by a land trust. At least 37 million acres of privately-owned woods, meadows, rivers, mountains, farms, and wildlife habitats nationwide have been protected using this method. That’s an area more than 16 times the size of Yosemite National Park, and the protected space has doubled in size in the last five years. The properties are monitored annually to make sure that the owners didn’t suddenly have a change of heart and try to sneak in a golf course or other forbidden development.

Read More

Get it fresh from the farm

Community-supported agriculture provides supply of seasonal produce

By Theresa Keegan
For the Poughkeepsie Journal

For many local farmers, spring activities now include more than choosing seeds and preparing soil - they are harvesting a crop of members.

Community-supported agriculture, where members from the community pay a set fee in advance and then receive weekly produce during harvest season, is an increasingly popular way for farmers to stabilize income and consumers to secure a steady supply of farm-fresh produce.

"CSAs provide very fresh food," said Oleh Maczaj, who, along with his wife Nadia Maczaj, owns Rusty Plough Farm in Ellenville. They joined with two other neighboring farmers to create Rondout Valley Organics, a CSA in Southern Ulster County.

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EPA Helps Put America Back to Work Protecting Human Health and Cleaning Up the Environment

Release date: 03/27/2009

Contact Information: (Media Only) Elias Rodriguez (212) 637-3664,

(New York, N.Y.) In a move that will boost the economy, create new jobs, build the foundation for long-term economic strength, and protect human health and the environment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced a national competition for $156 million in funding to jumpstart clean diesel projects through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). The projects will create jobs and reduce harmful diesel pollution. Nearly $18.5 million of this funding is slated for projects in EPA Region 2, which covers New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and seven federally recognized Indian Nations. EPA is encouraging organizations and government entities to apply for the National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program. Applications are due by April 28, 2009.

"This Recovery Act funding for projects to control diesel pollution will go a long way toward creating jobs, while significantly reducing pollution,” said George Pavlou, Acting Regional Administrator. “This is proof positive that a strong economic and environmental future not only can, but does go hand-in-hand.”

Read More

Building Good Roads

One problem in our transportation policy is that funding is unduly weighted to spending money on roads rather than spending money on mass transit. Another problem in our transportation policy is that funding is unduly weighted to building new roads rather than to doing the necessary work to maintain the roads we already have in excellent condition. But yet another problem is that there are roads and then there are roads. There are freeways, and there are boulevards. There are connected networks of streets that can be walked or biked as well as driven, and there impenetrable mazes of cul-de-sacs. See the contrast below:


And there are little things like lane-widths. Wider lanes make driving feel safer, which leads to faster driving and an environment that’s unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists and typically actually less safe for drivers. There are roads with sidewalks and there are roads without sidewalks. And obviously you’re always going to have more roads and streets than metro lines in any given city, so getting this stuff right is important.

Read More

Loggers Try to Adapt to Greener Economy

LOWELL, Ore. — Booming timber towns with three-shift lumber mills are a distant memory in the densely forested Northwest. Now, with the housing market and the economy in crisis, some rural areas have never been more raw. Mills keep closing. People keep leaving. Unemployment in some counties is near 20 percent.

Yet in parts of the region, the decline is being met by an unlikely optimism. Some people who have long fought to clear-cut the region’s verdant slopes are trying to reposition themselves for a more environmentally friendly economy, motivated by changing political interests, the federal stimulus package and sheer desperation.

Some mills that once sought the oldest, tallest evergreens are now producing alternative energy from wood byproducts like bark or brush. Unemployed loggers are looking for work thinning federal forests, a task for which the stimulus package devotes $500 million; the goal is to make forests more resistant to wildfires and disease. Some local officials are betting there is revenue in a forest resource that few appreciated before: the ability of trees to absorb carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping gas that can contribute to global warming.

Pragmatism drives the shifting thinking, but a critical question remains: can people really make a long-term living off the forest without cutting it down?

Read More

Advisory Against Visiting Caves

Federal officials are asking people to stay out of caves in states from West Virginia to New England, where as many as 500,000 bats have died from a disease called white-nose syndrome.

The Fish and Wildlife Service made the request to guard against the possibility that people are unwittingly spreading the mysterious affliction when they explore multiple caves. There is no evidence that the disease is a threat to people.

White-nose syndrome is named for the sugary smudges of fungus on the noses and wings of hibernating bats. White-nose bats appear to run through their stores of winter fat before spring.

Read More

Social Business: Health Savings Microphilanthropy

Posted by: waynejsmith on March 25, 2009 at 11:54 am

I have an idea to get between 20,000 to 200,000 people baseline funding ($1000) for their healthcare by using a default giving option in health savings accounts.

Basically, this is a social business model. The idea allows people to give small amounts of their pretax paycheck each week to pay for others’ health care without anyincurred risk and by bypassing government channels. It is privatized health care philanthropy administered on an individual payout basis.

0.1% (or some other small amount) will be the default giving level. Members of the HSA will be signed up automatically and informed that they may choose to opt-out or increase their giving. The objective is to set the default option low enough that people will not be motivated to opt-out. There is also the opportunity to allow individuals to donate the balance of their HSA to the program at the end of the year (potential default option), and to the program as the beneficiary upon an individual’s death (another potential default). The idea may also be able to leverage the Cass & Sunstein idea of Give More Tomorrow, since the contributions will be withdrawn from pretax individuals’ pay.

Read More

Detachable RV Concept Shows Off Injection-Molded Future

By Ben Wojdyla, 10:00 AM on Fri Feb 6 2009, 5,523 views

German design student Christian Susana is shopping around his concept for a dockable and detachable RV concept which makes the family Winnebago look like a leftover from the stone age.

Certainly, this is not the first time the idea of combining towing vehicle with trailer has come around, but this one does offer some pretty snazzy design. Old Susana's concept is dubbed the Colim (Colors of Life in Motion) and its central trick is obviously the little car up front, which does the towing and can pull away for scooting around your destination.

The back half is a cleanly designed, modern interpretation of RV living; it sleeps four, has a kitchenette, and a bathroom, along with fancy storage and seating. By having a detachable car instead of towing one behind, the concept would be considerably more fuel efficient and take up less space at the campsite. At the end of the day though, it's just really neat looking. We're wondering if there are provisions to load up some filthy dirt bikes and tow a blown up CJ-5. [Tuvie, LikeCool]

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