28 May 2010

Smart Grid Features Available Now!

In Wednesday's mail (2010/05/25) was the scariest piece of literature I've seen in a long time. No, it was not a piece of political campaign literature, although our primary is less than two weeks away. (I voted early, as soon as the polling place opened on the first day of early voting, so I simply throw away all candidates' mailings I receive.)

No, this was an offer from the utility company to participate in the "Cool Share" program. Just for signing up, we would be supplied with a "web-programmable thermostat"! These thermostats "can cut your cooling and heating costs by as much as 10% annually", according to estimates from the U.S. Department of Energy. And they allow me--and who knows how many bureaucrats--to manage my home's energy use. Remotely. From the internet. Regardless of how I've set it.

Now, they are careful to point out--on the reverse side--that these thermostats "do NOT allow [the utility company] to 'control' your home temperature". They say nothing about other organizations, such as the Department of Energy.

Of course, one of the bullet point advantages of these thermostats is that they "help…Reduce greenhouse gas emissions".

In a sidebar on that side, there is an explanation that in the Cool Share program, when it is very hot (104°F and above), the air conditioning unit will be placed in "conservation mode" for generally no more than three hours. They claim that this would typically happen only on weekdays, not weekends or holidays, except in case of…wait for it…"emergency."

As an additional enticement, participants can get $1.00 for each of these "conservation period[s]", up to a maximum of $29.

UPDATE 2010/06/12 I received a card in the mail explaining that this program is available only in Southern Nevada. That explains the references to 104° temperatures.

24 May 2010

Here (was) the Deal

If you got here by clicking "The Corner Office" at the bottom of one of my tweets, thank you! In order to get the free software to brand your own tweets, please visit my friend Kay Ballard's blog, New Media Martini.

Be aware that this software runs on Adobe AIR. I understand there is an AIR environment available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, so you should be covered. 

While the software itself is free of monetary charge, you will be asked for your email address twice: first by New Media International (they won't bug you much--just let you know when new products or websites are launching); then by the publisher of the software. I think it's worth it.

UPDATE 2010/06/23: I've been told the publisher of the free TweetBrand software has stopped supporting it. If you follow the steps, you may or may not be able to download and install it, but there will be no upgrades.

13 May 2010

Wisdom from Carencro

Marc Broussard (@MarcBroussard) tweeted this: "The Left is better than the Right at the game of politics, or, commanding gov $'s with an ideological policy platform. Ask me why."

I did ask why. I haven't seen his response yet, but here's what I think (you knew that was coming).

Statists believe that society as a whole owns all the resources and products, and it's the State's responsibility to distribute (spend) them. They know that they can buy some people's support, so they want to spend those resources and products to gain more and more power. They have no compunction in doing so.

Liberty lovers, on the other hand, know that whatever I produce is mine, and they have no right or power to confiscate it to use for their own purposes. It goes against their grain to spend public funds for political ends.

So you see, it is true that the "Democratic Party" (their name) is the party of "Yes (as long as you will vote to reelect me and my kind)", and the Republicans (followers of the Constitution) are the party of "No, you can't be taken care of on the public's dime, you must earn your own."

Update: as Mr. Broussard puts it: Basically, the Left, "We'll take care of everything." The Right, "We'd like to protect you."

12 May 2010

Social Security and Medicare in the 21st Century

If you're age 55 or over, nothing changes. You get full benefits and continue paying the Social Security and Medicare (SS&M) taxes as under the current contract, or law.

If you're age 40 to 55, you have an option:
  • pay 67% of current SS&M taxes and receive 50% benefits, or
  • pay no more SS&M taxes, get a one-time refundable tax credit of 50% of those paid so far, and receive no benefits
If you're under age 40, you get a one-time refundable tax credit of all the SS&M taxes you've paid, and you are released from the contract. No more SS&M taxes, no benefits.

The percentages can be tweaked, but these seem pretty fair to me, and we all know that, even now, the benefits payable under these programs bear no relationship to the revenues collected as payroll taxes.