Monkey-brained Musings

Monday, February 20, 2006
Honoring Our Parents

The current issue of Tricycle has a feature on honoring our parents and an editorial that offers the following quote from the Buddha:

[W]hoever encourages their faithless parents, and settles and establishes them in faith; or whoever encourages their immoral parents and settles and establishes them in morality, or whoever encourages their stingy parents, and settles, and establishes them in generosity, or whoever encourages their foolish parents, and settles and establishes them in wisdom--such a person, in this way repays, more than repays, what is due to their parents

It is nice to be reminded that there are many ways to honor our parents, even if, at times, the honor isn't apparent to them.


Saturday, February 18, 2006
Highly Skilled Work Avoidance

Joss Whedon and Warren Ellis dish about ComicCon.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Baxter Costs County Four Deputies

As reported in Quorum Report (Feb. 7th), the House District 48 special election and runoff will cost Travis County taxpayers $246,191, the equivalent of the annual pay and benefits for four full-time deputies. This is all so that Todd Baxter could line his pockets as a lobbyist rather than serve out his full term.


Monday, February 06, 2006
Sustainable Austin

Austin is one of four cities reviewed in a Sierra Club case study (pdf) of best practices for sustainability, particularly renewable energy and energy efficiency. The other cities reviewed were Chicago, Portland, and Fort Collins.


Cloudy With a Chance of Chaos

Like the tourists on Phuket beaches who stood and gazed at an oncoming tsunami because it was outside their experience, society is reacting to the coming wave of climate change without urgency. People still believe that the science is controversial and the threat of climate change far off in the future; and while a few businesses, notably major insurers, have begun to adapt, governments are responding only slowly, as the lack of progress at this fall's international forum in Montreal showed.

Originially published in Fortune, this article notes how the insurance industry is beginning to respond to the growing threats posed by climate change.

More than 1,000 miles from New Orleans, in Cape Cod, Mass., a far-flung echo of Katrina has been the 20% rise in reinsurance costs (reinsurers are financial institutions that backstop insurance companies). The increase prompted Hingham Mutual Group, a property and casualty insurer, to drop coverage for 6,500 commercial properties. Customers left in the lurch have a fallback in FAIR (short for Fair Access to Insurance Requirements), a program mandated by various states and run by insurers. But Massachusetts's FAIR plan recently requested big rate increases, arguing that past weather patterns may no longer be a guide to estimating future climate risks. That rationale was "unprecedented," a team of industry experts noted in a report entitled "Availability and Affordability of Insurance Under Climate Change"; it's a vivid example of how insurance has difficulty adapting to changing climate.

As businesses begin to recognize the dangers of climate change, markets will help economies adjust, pricing the risks and shifting resources. Yet markets have blind spots: They typically underprice long-term or novel risks. In the case of climate change, where large-scale actions must be taken lest change hit with full force, a purely market-based response would be too little, too late. To address the risks, governments need to get involved.

The truly distrubing conculsion, though, that is suggested by recent studies is that we may have already passed the point where we could have addressed climate change without major economic and social hardships. Meanwhile, the Bush Administration continues to ignore this ongoing debate over whether we are approaching a tipping point when the effects of climate change will exceed our ability to respond. Even as other nations become increasingly concerned, the Bush Administration continues to argue that uncertainty about climate change means that it may continue to be ignored.

Graph courtesy of The Oil Drum


Damnable Quote of the Day

Americans used to be defined by how we went to church, or by our schools. But now it's really about consumption communities. The question becomes: "Can you assemble, by buying things, a coherent presentation of the self as part of a community?"

James Twitchell, author of Lead Us Into Temptation: the Triumph of American Materialism, as quoted in Salon.


Saturday, February 04, 2006
Congressional Staff Hack Wikipedia

Wikipedia has opened an inquiry into unethical edits that have been made by Congressional staff.

This RFC is being opened in order to further a centralized discussion concerning actions to be taken against US Congressional staffers and possibly other federal employees who have engaged in unethical and possibly libelous behavior in violation of Wikipedia policies (WP:NPOV, WP:CIV). The editors from these IP ranges have been rude, abrasive, immature, and show disregard for Wikipedia policy. The editors have frequently tried to censor the history of elected officials, often replacing community articles with censored biographies despite other users' attempts to dispute these violations. They also violate Wikipedia:Verifiability, by deleting verified reports, while adding flattering things about members of Congress that are unverified.

The offending editors have been blocked. This RFC is needed to gather community comments. It is proposed that a one week block is not enough.

Congressman Marty Meehan's staff (D - Mass.) replaced Wikipedia content with the Representative's staff-written biography. Entries on Texas politicians Phil Gramm, John Colyandro, and Tom Delay were among those altered.


Friday, February 03, 2006
Enron Legal Blog

The Houston Chronicle has set up a legal blog to cover the Enron trial. I've added the blog to my links.


Enron Legal Blog

The Houston Chronicle has set up a legal blog to cover the Enron trial. I've added the blog to my links.


The scattered musings of Jeb Boyt, Austin Texas. A collection of the random bits that scamper through my monkey brain. This blog is my personal record. The opinions expressed here are my own and are in no way associated with any employer, board, commission, organization, or other entity that I may be affiliated with. So there.

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