Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Gas Prices Are Absurd and so Are We.

I just bought gas last weekend. It cost me $30 to fill up 8.5 gallons, or about $3.52/gal. Gas has since gone up about another ten cents. Yikes. What's even worse than this in my opinion is how groceries also go up in cost due to increased transportation cost. My dirt-cheap-tastes-like-punch-but-is-actually-juice $2.99/gal orange juice is now $3.89/gal. You may say, "Well this isn't a big deal - it's not like drink two gallons of orange juice driving 60 miles home to Layton or anything." However, you might be surprised. I've had to go even cheaper now and purchase frozen orange juice concentrate. How inconvenient.

Here's why they blow though. Yes, the oil companies are screwing you over. Yes Exxon posted upward of a 10 billion dollar profit on the quarter. No Exxon isn't even one of the larger oil companies (Seriously, if you compare the assets of Exxon or Chevron to Saudi Arabia National Oil... it's like comparing Shasta Soda with Coca Cola or Utah Valley University with Harvard.) So yes, you're getting completely raped by oil companies, but you're also laying there letting it happen. Never once saying no or trying to get away from the situation. Then we complain about it as if we're just completely taken advantage of in our innocence. However, the next week we go on a date with the oil company again by going back to the pump and buying $40 more of the precious elixir that we so desperately need and in return get raped again. We're like drug addicts. It's sickening.

Yeah, I understand we need oil. I do too. I get raped buy gas just like any of you. I buy stuff at the store that was shipped by diesel powered trucks. I run a heater when it's cold and take hot showers. This blog doesn't change the fact that I'm completely addicted to hydrocarbons. It's like a crack fix, but healthier. Wait, no, I hate that back. If we look at the long term effects rather than just the fact that oil isn't going to rot my teeth out by next year, the human populations addiction to oil is just as unhealthy as an addiction to crack.

392.40 ppm CO2 was what was recorded in the atmosphere for March of 2011. Basically what that should be is below 350ppm. 350ppm isn't an ideal number, it's a maximum healthy number for the planet above which significant climate changes will occur. It hasn't been below 350ppm since 1987. "Oh, well if it's been above the threshold for 24 years why haven't we seen any effects of it?" Well, you have.

There are all kinds of species that have been going extinct in the last few decades (and before that too, but so much more rapidly as of recent) we just don't notice it because they are more unknown creatures like several species of hyrax, the Baiji River dolphin or the Javan tiger rather than dogs, cats and green iguanas. No, climate change is not a hoax. There is not a single scientific organization in the world who believes that it is and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. Earth's gradual rise in temperature is removing sea ice and melting polar ice sheets (the ice on Greenland and Antarctica which does effect sea level) causing it to rise. No, not hundreds of meters. Al Gore exaggerates, but a few meters. Enough to displace a tens of millions of people. If you think Katrina was bad... imagine that kind of sea level rise slowly occurring all around the globe over the next fifty years. Temperatures really are rising. Now sure if you email Orrin Hatch with your concern about this he'll shoot you some data about how the average temperatures in 2000 were cooler than they were in 1998, which is true, but this is not climate. However if you throw a 5-year running annual mean temperature, you will see an almost constantly increasing temperature.

I won't bore you with more statistics as I know that if I try to, you'll simply hit the back button on your browser, but yeah. ~$3.65/gal and rising is bad. However the number concerning fossil fuels which is even worse is 392.40 ppm and rising.

Wait, so if gas prices are so terrible, as previously discussed, and by paying this horrific price for an addiction, that we really should not have, we are ruining the planet, why the hell do we do this? It doesn't make any sense. It really is an addiction no different than drugs, porn or cutting. I realize that may sound extreme, but we really are hurting ourselves and everyone around us.

The Earth doesn't care. Thousands of years from now it'll rebound and get back to normal. We're not going to destroy the planet, but we're certainly going to make it a pain in the ass to live on for humans in the long run and the amount we all spend on gas per month sure can make it difficult to buy nice things like 2 gallons of orange juice per week or a new laptop (Yes, this laptop has about had it.)

So please, for your sake and for everyones sake. Support nuclear power, as well as other alternative fuel sources, drive less (use mass transit), if infrastructure in your area supports it buy a CNG vehicle, turn off the lights and don't commute to work in your Ford F350. You'll save money and you'll save the hyrax.

Friday is Earth day. Don't drive, plant a tree. It has to start somewhere, right?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Government Furlough

Edit: Apparently the government came to a conclusion and resolved their disagreements. I've not really read into that yet, but good for them. However that makes this blog post completely obsolete and almost worthless to read, but it might be entertaining anyway. /edit

So apparently the government has once again proven they're incapable of getting along and the Right's and the Left's can't agree on how to set our budget for the current fiscal year. The Right's wanted to cut funding for the EPA and PP (which is all kinds of stupid, but that's not what this is about) and the Left's said, "No, screw you." (so typical..) and instead of compromising they've just decided the best course of action is to have a furlough until an agreement can be made. Dumb.

I won't argue that they are not being ignorant and unwilling to see each others sides, from both points of view, because they are. I won't go into a detailed argument about which point of view I agree with, though I imagine we all already know, but that isn't important. However, this little government furlough happens to cut pay to a lot of people working for the government and put many temporarily out of work. Yeah, that's probably bad, but temporarily means what? Two? Maybe Four weeks? Okay, so that's bad, but not earth-shattering TERRIBLE, and really with a $14,000,000,000,000 (yes, 14 trillion) dollar national debt ... well ... maybe we could use a little less spending for a couple weeks anyway. Hell the Japanese just had their entire island jacked up by about 10 meters, managed, and we're going to freak out about a few weeks without pay?

However what seems to be getting all the attention is that the troops in Libiraqistania will have to go without pay for a couple weeks. Wow, that is very wrong. If you're going to be over there, working your ass off and fighting a war, you'd better be getting paid. Seriously, that would be wrong if they didn't get paid for that and would piss any loyal American off as they do have a hard job and do it well.

Well fortunately our government, as much as we all want to hate them, is a reasonable body of authority. The military is going to get paid for their service, in full. Just not next week. They'll get their paycheck a couple weeks late. Oh good, so what's the big deal then? Well you've got me. I really don't know what the big deal is. If Utah State were to tell me, "Hey Brandon, we're not going to pay you this month, but next month you'll be paid for all the work you did both months." I'd be like, "Okay, cool, thanks for letting me know." I really see no other reasonable way to respond to this. Actually as a UTF that's exactly how I get paid. For the entire semester - at the end of the semester.

If I'm going to get paid and the delay isn't significant, why should I care?

Oh, well this is where you argue that some people aren't able to go a month without pay because they just aren't paid enough to be able to subsist for a month without a static paycheck.

Well, that's their own damn fault.

That isn't a responsible argument to make at all. Here is why; Financial emergencies happen. Had we learned, what? just four years ago, during the housing crisis, that having money around for these emergencies could serve our best interests, this wouldn't be problematic for anyone who said, "Hey, maybe someday I'll end up needing an extra X number months of pay laying around - maybe purchasing a new TV or eating out thrice a week or buying the nicer car or buying the bigger house can wait." But we are American, I'm guilty of the same things. We like nice stuff now.

So basically what we get is a handful of people who believe that because they have some government position, they are privileged to living beyond their means and running their bank accounts dry month after month, then when a crisis occurs where they will have to wait a short while to get their pay they freak out because they've not planned for this. Not everyone, many have been quite responsible and won't have this problem. For them this will be a minor inconvenience, but there are a few that don't exactly understand the concept of using the words "financial" and "responsibility" in the same sentence.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not completely heartless and I can understand why this sucks, but it was bound to happen eventually. Whether it be because the government withheld your check, an uninsured motorist crashed into you, velociraptors wrecked your kitchen or nuclear fallout required you to spend money on a lead suit, iodine pills and laser rifles to shoot super mutants with - you were going to come across a month where finances didn't work out like they had every other month before and you went, "Oh... shit..." the difference here is that instead of blaming the velociraptors who wrecked your kitchen, you've got everyones favorite scapegoat to get pissed at, the United States government.

Grow up.

You elected them (assuming you even voted) and it's not the governments fault that you didn't plan ahead for a financial emergency. Sure a little fault is to be rested with them as they can't seem to come to an agreement, but hell - better to take time to get it right then make half baked choices right away without agreement from both sides then look back 10 years later going, "Oh wow, we really effed that up."

*cough* Bush *cough* Iraq.

Personally I think a 2-4 week suspension on pay is a far better option that just simply dropping Planned Parenthood and the Environmental Protection Agency and giving a sustainable future one giant middle finger.

Now as for those government employees who are truly effected by this and won't be compensated in the future, those deemed "non-essential" employees. Well, I'm sorry and you probably do have every right to complain. Civil service or military workers, you're going to get paid, just have some patience.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Maybe I'm a little too outspoken..

Maybe I'm a little too outspoken.

Believe it or not, but I've actually toned it down a lot since I was 18ish years old. Back then I had that only-child syndrome that just forced me into knowing that I was always right because I never had siblings who disagreed with me, so I never had to experience being wrong around groups of my peers. I still think that at 25 I might be a little too out-spoken. I occasionally say things without regard to how some people may react. I often think that my opinion on topics that I really have little knowledge about is important and should be shared with people.

I told my roommate his shoes are ugly, I told my friend his car might be fast, but it's hideous, I point out things I feel are inconsistent with a religion nearly all of my friends follow, I tell girls when they do things that I feel are stupid. Who exactly makes me boss of what an attractive car or sensible pair of shoes are though? I may know a bit about religion and dating, but since those are completely subjective topics, do my thoughts on the matter really mean anything to you? No.

I could probably write an entire blog on any of those subjects and have on the latter two, but to what point? Why would anyone care to see my reasoning behind why Saucony is better than Nike or why Hyundai makes a better car than GM when in all likelihood people won't agree with me? Yet.. they do.. I actually get quite a fair bit of traffic on my blog despite how many people I've likely offended. It's almost as if some people read this hoping I'll say something to piss them off, so they can argue with me or find reason to stop following me or remove me as a friend on facebook. The three most viewed blog posts I made are the ones where I rip on the hypocritical social scene at Utah State, where I make fun of how taboo people here treat the topic of sex and when I actually argued that the gays were being fags over being offended at the LDS church's remarks during conference. These are definitely somewhat blunt force blows at a lot of people I know, yet they get the most views. A blog entry like this, where I'm being nice, I'll be lucky to get 50 hits on it :P.

I'm not making this up - but just about every time I post a semi-controversial blog entry on facebook I lose anywhere between 2-5 facebook "friends" within the next 24-48 hours. Wow. Cool.

One thing that I like about this is that at least I know people who actually put up with me and keep me around as a friend are good open-minded people. Why would I want to surround myself with anything less? They recognize that if I disagree with them I'll probably say so, but they are accepting of that. Likewise I am accepting of the things I happen to disagree with you on as well. Maybe I don't always say it, but I really am. If you hate alternative rock, that's fine - it's not for everyone. I don't want anyone changing their mind to think the same as I do. If everyone thought the same it would be like living in Logan, Utah. Nevermind, you should agree with me on everything I say.

Why exactly do I bother writing these then? Well I don't know. Enjoyment I guess? Not so much for the reaction. I just happen to really enjoy writing. Not writing stories or papers, that's no fun, but writing my thoughts in a public forum is an enjoyable way to pass time at 4:15 am. I mean c'mon - when I wake up sick as hell at 2am and I've exhausted my interest in Sportscenter, it's either this or Fallout. I'm bored of Fallout. Plus I really do enjoy when I make an exciting entry like my entry on sex and people I know thank me for my thoughtless rant of just whatever came to mind. It's nice to know my thoughts are, at least on occasion, appreciated.

I guess maybe when it comes down to it, I'm really not any different than that punk ass 18 year old that you probably wanted to punch in the face seven years ago, but the edges are a little more dull. I do usually try to consider the feelings of specific people I could offend and refrain from it and I like to pretend that my thoughts are more refined. If I offend you, I'm not sorry for offending you - however I do feel a sense of remorse that you got offended. I promise that I don't intentionally set off writing thinking, "who can I piss off today?" with the exception of maybe when my neighbor assaulted me earlier this school year because of my annoying vocal motorcycle sounds, haha, psycho.. but I digress.. I really just want to write. I guess sometimes I am too open when I write or argue or have a conversation with someone, but that's me and that's why you like me, isn't it? Or maybe it's because you enjoy how tan you look standing next to me. I suppose either way works. Maybe it's because I'm high off Nyquil, but thanks for being my friend, even if I can be a pain in the ass to put up with sometimes.