Interview with a Palinite

This brings the lulz and then brings the ahhgeeze.

On November 20, 2009, Sarah Palin visited Columbus, OH as part of her book signing tour for “Going Rogue.” When her supporters were asked broad questions about why they why they thought she should be president, the responses were vague: She’s “real.” She’ll “stick up for America.”

THERE ARE UNINFORMED OBAMA SUPPORTERS, TOO
It has been said in comments that we would find similarly talking point-driven, substance-less supporters at an Obama rally, and we agree. But no politician has emerged on the national stage as undefined and unqualified as Sarah Palin, and her public persona–which is anti-intellectual by definition–discourages substance. Instead, we get winking. One could hardly imagine her giving a complex speech about race in America, or speaking eloquently about our country’s relations with Islam. Not just because she couldn’t write such a speech (Obama has speech-writers, of course) but because she wouldn’t–such necessarily academic discussion is antithetical to the persona she’s created for herself and that her supporters have come to love.

CHERRY-PICKING
As for accusations of cherry picking, which are commonly thrown at interview-based videos, it simply isn’t what we did. We interviewed only a few more people than ended up in the video, not hundreds, and what was cut was done for time purposes. The people were selected at random–some offered to be interviewed–and we were only there for about 90 mins (it gets dark early and fast in Ohio right now). What didn’t make it into the video was just more footage of people talking generically or about taxes/spending, drilling, and abortion, and we constructed blocks in the piece to represent those issues. Of course the piece was edited to be entertaining (this is YouTube, after all, where the currency is cat videos) but we don’t believe we misrepresented the attitudes of the people at that signing in any way.

This NEW LEFT MEDIA film was produced and edited by Chase Whiteside (interviews) and Erick Stoll (camera).

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These Are Not the Droid (effects) You’re Looking For

Over the last few weeks, Verizon has subjected anyone in front of a television with some pretty interesting commercials.  Kind of… Clovererfield/Transformers-esque.

I’ll go ahead and post one here for your enjoyment.

And then of course, the original advertisement.  Anti-Apple much?  I’m definitely an Apple Fanboy at this point and you might expect that I would be pissed that Verizon would put out such a commercial.  Not really though because it seems to me that it’s about time Apple’s iPhone got some real competition and if that’s the Droid, then bring on the ads.

So there you go, Verizon + Motorola + Google Android = DROID = iPhone Killer.  Fantastic. Competition is good! Apple will again begin pushing the limits on what a phone can do.  Maybe go after those attacks about no flash, only 2mp camera, etc etc.  Meanwhile, since the DROID phone is so closely tied to  Verizon and the iPhone to AT&T, maybe we’ll see some benefits there too right?

AT&T has horrendous 3G coverage around the nation, especially when compared to Verizon.  That’s an obvious first step on AT&T’s part.  How about cost?  I pay my iPhone bill every month and every month I think… wow that’s a lot of money.  I bet with the DROID phone, Verizon will go after AT&T’s bottom line.  Make their DROID plans significantly cheaper than the iPhone.  Any amount over $10 is a dramatic difference, if they were $30 a month cheaper I might even be tempted to switch!  Better 3G coverage and cheaper monthly plans?!

Well, unfortunately, Ronald Reagan was wrong.  Competition doesn’t fuel the benefits he and other “Reaganomics” economists promised.  For the most part, the DROID cost of ownership is exactly the same as the iPhone with only one plan cheaper.  By how much? By a massive $0.01!

Chart created by Nicole Lee from CNet.com

Wow that’s disappointing.  When you break down the differences in price which is only in the text message options, it becomes a total wash.  The DROID is cheaper for the small text message plan (250 vs 200 messages) but for the high end the iPhone is better (5000 vs unlimited).  Guess I’ll stick to my iPhone.

UPDATE: Turns out Verizon plans to charge $15/month for access to Exchange on the DROID, something A&T doesn’t charge for on the iPhone. So if you, like me, use Exchange on your phone, turns out the iPhone is $180 a year cheaper, $360 for the length of the contract which is around or more than than the price of getting out of your contract with either carrier!

Let’s get a bit political.  The Republicans are saying that natural competition between insurance companies will decrease the price of premiums and increase the availability of coverage.  Well, not so true as seen here.  When companies are in collusion with each other to keep prices at a certain point, they have no real reason to undercut the competition.  Ugh.

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Keith Olbermann on Healthcare

There’s really nothing I can say to preface Keith Olbermann‘s one-hour “special comment” on the healthcare debate here in America.  It’s honest, frightening and often times brought me close to tears.

This special tells the truth behind the lies of what healthcare reform will bring and exposes what will happen if we don’t get healthcare reform here in America.  The statistics are startling. For instance, if you are without insurance in America, you are 40% more likely to die than someone with insurance.  40% more likely to die.

It’s worth watching, and watching again.

[flv:Countdown_Healthcare.flv 600 340]

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Ferris Beuller Would be Proud

One of those Kennedy/Lincoln situations.

In Ferris Beuller‘s day off, Ferris faked his health as an excuse for a day off.  Barack Obama is being blamed for using the healthcare crisis to draw away attention from the war and economic problems.

Ferris Beuller was from Chicago. Barack Obama was Chicago senator.

Ferris Beuller borrowed his friend’s dad’s car, convincing him there was no other way.  Barack Obama convinced Congress et al. that we needed to borrow money and buy out General Motors.

Ferrish Beuller was an incredible speaker that ultimately always got what he wanted.  Barack Obama (see Ferris Beuller).

So what do we have here?  Like a scene out of Ferris Beuller’s Day Off when Ferris runs through a Chicago parade getting the entire city in on his song and dance.  Well, Barack Obama is pushing for a more socialized health care system, not unlike Canada, the UK and France‘s systems, for America while simultaneously trying to win the 2016 Olympics for Chicago, which of course would bring a lot of song and dance to the city.

Follow me?

So here’s the two coming together.  A French Canadian, university (UQAM) gathers 172 of their communication students to perform a massive lip-sync of an American hip-hop group, The Black Eyed Peas, in a style ripped from the venerable 1986 film.  They did the entire thing in two hour and fifteen minutes and as you’ll see below, it’s pretty freaking incredible.

Moral of the story?  We need socialized healthcare, the 2016 Olympics and more mass-lip-sync performances.

Not too proud of my Americanism to say… I’d kill to be a French Canadian going to l’Université du Québec à Montréal!

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Cash for Clunkers Return on Investment

Most of my family is pretty extreme right-wing, conservatives that seem to refuse to open their minds to reality.  I’m not someone that is extreme left or right.  I feel I’m center-left.  I vote for who I think is best for my country, no my party.

That being said, I get a few emails, every single day, from a family member illustrating their blind following of the talking heads of the right wing.  Sometimes it’s racist, sometimes it’s anti-healthcare, anti-environment, anti-human rights… it’s really upsetting for me.  I wonder how someone I love so much can be so against the things I believe in and against me.  I want to get married some day, most in my family think I should be able to marry but that gay marriage shouldn’t be legal.

Conflict much?

The latest email came in today regarding the Cash for Clunkers program.  Here’s how it went.

Subject: Did anyone do the math?

A vehicle at 15 mpg and 12,000 miles per year uses 800 gallons a year of gasoline.

A vehicle at 25 mpg and 12,000 miles per year uses 480 gallons a year.

So, the average “Cash for Clunkers” transaction will reduce US gasoline consumption by 320 gallons per year.

They claim 700,000 vehicles – so that’s 224 million gallons / year.

That equates to a bit over 5 million barrels of oil.

5 million barrels of oil is about ¼ of one day’s US consumption.

And, 5 million barrels of oil costs about $350 million dollars at $70/bbl.

So, we all contributed to spending $3 billion to save $350 million.

How good a deal was that ???

They’ll probably do a great job with health care though!!

I’m sure you’ve already figured out what’s wrong with this email.

  1. The return on investment is expected after and calculated only for a single year
  2. Cost of ownership for these new vehicles is not considered
  3. Constantly increasing cost of oil is ignored
  4. Longer life of these vehicles ignored
  5. Environmental benefit overlooked
  6. etc

So, in my response, I decided to calculate in some of these oversights.

___________________________________________________________________

Howdy! Hope all is well in Kerrville. School and work has me burning the wick from both ends but I think it will be worth it in the end.  Remind me again why I chose Physics as an elective?!  Probably should have rethought that one haha.

Anyways, I thought I’d go ahead and do the math for that email.  The original math is flawed, big time.  Here’s the real deal.

At crude’s highest,  June 2008, we were paying $126 per barrel.  October 2008, crude was at $68 barrel, after the election it dropped to $49, then into the low $30s before heading back up in the last months towards $72.

Over the last 18 months, the average price of crude has been $73.36 barrel.

73.36 * 5,333,333 barrels = $391,253,308.88

By rounding down 333,333 barrels, and ignoring the oil trends, the email is misleading by $41,000,000.

While that might seem like a drop in the bucket of $3,000,000, this price benefit lasts for over one year.  Cars from this program don’t stop working after one year.

The most popular cars from the Cash for Clunkers program were Toyota and Honda cars.  These cars have an expected life expectancy of over 200,000 miles and a cost-of-ownership that sits significantly lower than the most popular cars turned in.  Ford trucks, Jeeps and Chevrolet SUVs and Pickups, which have a significantly shorter life expectancy.

Using the average distance traveled per year format the email, we can figure how long these cars should be on the road, and thus calculate the long term costs.

Using the 18 month average of oil, ignoring inflation, depletion of oil reserves and the lower cost of ownership, here’s how it works out.

200,000 / 12,000 = 16.667 years of use

16.667 * $391,253,308.88 = $6,520,888,481.33

We have more than doubled our money.

Looking at the attached graph, the idea that crude would stay at its current value is comical.

Cost of a Barrel of Gas from 1946 to 2008

Since 1972, crude has gone up over 2441%

Again, ignoring the fact that oil goes up in price every year, on average, by quite a bit, we still more than double our money back.

So yeah, making back the money in one year is ridiculous and I haven’t heard a single person behind the Cash for Clunkers program claim in a single year $3billion would be recouped.

But over 16 years, we’ll double it.  In just over 7.5 years, if crude oil doesn’t go up in price, contrary to historical data, we would pay off this program, dollar for dollar.

And then, there’s the environmental benefits.  Not only do these cars use less gas, they put out fewer emissions.  The Honda and Toyota cars, which made of the vast majority of Cash for Clunkers cars are Zero or Partial Zero vehicles.  The amount of emissions released is substantially lower.

I’d have to spend a good bit of time to calculate the total, speculative return on investment for this program.  I would have to include a reliable futures for the price of oil, calculate the cost of ownership for the cars new and old and compare the life expectancy of these new cars to the ones they replaced.  However, this information would only INCREASE the measured effectiveness of the program.

So, yes, someone did do the math and the original math was terribly misleading.

-justin

___________________________________________________________________

If anyone wants to do the stats on this and give me the true numbers of return on investment over 16 years (the life of the car) including cost of ownership and likely oil futures, I’d love to forward it on.

It sure felt good to get all that off my chest, though responding to these emails all the time is tiring. Do you find yourself doing the same thing with your family?
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Barney Frank Talks to a Dinning Room Table

At a Barney Frank town hall meeting in Dartmouth, MA, a constituent asks, “Why are you supporting this Nazi policy?”

Frank, an openly gay, Jewish, Democratic Congressman from Massachusetts from  responds: “On what planet do you spend most of your time?” He then calls her approach “vile, contemptible nonsense.” He closes by saying: “Trying to have a conversation with you would be like arguing with a dining room table.”

Glad someone finally said what was really on their mind about this, way to go Barney Frank.  I have a feeling Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri will be the next to open a can of whoop-ass.

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KATG – Gay Marriage

Keith and The Girl logo
Image via Wikipedia

Keith and the Girl is one of my favorite podcasts, definitely my favorite comedy podcast, everyone, subscribe to their podcast now.

Ok, with that outta the way, Keith and the Girl (KATG) have gone to the airwaves to defend gays and advocate for gay marriage twice in a row.  Their commentary is not only hilarious, but also straight forward and honest.

[audio:KATG_Gay_Marriage.mp3]

I really couldn’t have put it better, or at least couldn’t have been as funny.  It’s one thing for a group of gay people to get together and stand up for their rights, or lack thereof.  To have four people regularly stand up for gay rights, 1 bisexual woman and three straight guys, means a lot more, at least to me.

Thanks for sticking up for us Keith and Chemda!

Disappointed that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) will seem to continue under Obama along with Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT).  Both of these were major issues Obama fought for during the campaign.  I really want to get married some day.  Not for tax benefits but because I love someone and my church recognizes that love.

Sometimes America just disappoints me, but maybe this “Federal employees will get domestic partnership benefits” thing is an olive branch…

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