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Jack Phelps

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Electoral Map [Nov. 3rd, 2004|08:48 pm]
Jack Phelps
These maps always make me feel a little bit less oppressed by all that red squeezing us more reasonable types.

Just a little.

Also, Harper's has a great article entitled "A Reader's Guide to Expatriating on November 3rd." Xeni Jardin asks if you can declare yourself a citizen of the internet. No, I am not leaving the country, because I love this country. Just worth reading, that's all.
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Tyranny by the Slight Majority [Nov. 2nd, 2004|08:10 pm]
Jack Phelps
Up until this evening, I was willing to believe that I might be wrong. I was willing to believe that the 95%-liberal population of Cambridge, Massachusetts, among the most educated people in the world, were not necessarily right. That there might be republican voters out there who cared about something besides pushing their fundamentalist views on other people.

But now I am not. I believe quite the contrary.

It has been so long since I have heard a convincing argument for Bush and his cronies that I simply cannot conceive of him making America a more livable place over the course of the next four years. Or the world, for that matter. The republican party, which used to stand for reasonable, arguable conservatism, now stands only for Christianity. I don’t mean the basic tenets of Christ, either. I mean the Christians who peer over the fence and make sure that you’re obeying their God or else they call the police on you whether you’re interfering with their lives or not.

Anyone who has ever criticized Bush for his drunk driving incidents when he was younger is ignoring a much, much more important reality. That person is ignoring the fact that Bush is no longer a drunk driver, or even a somewhat more responsible driver. They are ignoring the fact that he is an undeniably fundamentalist dictator. He is born-again, and you are either with him or against him, and if you are against him and his unopposed congress, you are FUCKED, as we will be if he wins again.

Let's say the presidential candidate I voted for, Michael Badnarik, is elected president. He'd pull troops out of Iraq and reduce the size and scope and expenditure of the US army. That would be effective and have a meaningful impact on our budget deficit. Then he'd try to do a whole bunch of other shit which would be vetoed outright by congress, and nothing else legislative would be accomplished during his presidency. I would consider that a pretty fucking optimal occurence. That’s a very democratic outcome, because it is a compromise between parties as close to the decision process as possible.

With Bush, everything that 51% of the country believes in will be accomplished. It'll be Christians out there forcing their opinions on you, whether you agree or not. That is not democracy. That is tyranny by a very slight majority, and there is a huge and significant difference. After four years, the dems might win presidency AND senate. The cyclicity of policy would be devastating to both our national and world economies and detrimental to all, regardless of your beliefs. That is what happens when the delicate balance constructed by opposition is disturbed. If you are for democracy, you should be for not going to extreme on any measure, and making sure that everyone is represented appropriately in policy outcome. You should NOT be for tyranny by a slight majority, regardless of your religious position. If you think any differently, you are hurting America.

That's why I want Kerry to win. I would be just as scared of nationalized healthcare and strong trade barriers if democrats were elected throughout. But there is no threat of that, and so Bush is clearly the bigger threat. I can only hope that we will not see another four years of tyranny of the majority, because the next four will be unabashedly worse.

If Bush is elected tonight, then I am in full support of any civil disobedience against a tyrannical government. While I don't expressly wish harm upon anyone, someone needs to prove to the born-agains that they are one of the few groups in the entire world who think that their way is the only correct way possible. That should scare the fuck out of you, regardless of whether your beliefs coincide with them or not.

This, then, is my definitive statement: Everyone in the world has a gigantic stake in the outcome of the US election tonight. And yet, the Christian fundamentalists are an extremely small and non-representative percentage of the world population. If I were someone outside the US, I cannot see myself coming to the conclusion that America's policy could be trusted to the 51% of American people who are now setting it.
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(no subject) [Nov. 2nd, 2004|12:14 pm]
Jack Phelps
Google says vote. So does Jack.

Best Google logo ever.
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On Voting [Oct. 28th, 2004|07:54 pm]
Jack Phelps
A few things about voting:

1. I am voting for Michael Badnarik. If I didn't make that abundantly clear before (as people seem to keep asking me), there you go. This is not a decision I am making because I am a liberetarian, though there are a number of respects in which I agree with their ideology and/or policy outcomes. This is a decision I am making because I currently loath and always have loathed the two-party system. I think it's rotten and hurts our country. We live in a capitalist society which says competition benefits people. We have a government with power distributed among branches which says too much power concentrated under one ideology is a bad thing. And yet despite these foundation, democratic awesomenesses we all learn about as schoolchildren, we for some reason feel the need to support a system in which there are two only marginally different views. Therefore, I will vote third party for my second presidential election as I did with my first, and I will not compromise on a candidate I think is slime merely because he may be slightly better than the opposition. The only reason I really want kerry in office over bush is because I want liberal justices striking down restrictive conservative mandates like "no gay marriage for anyone!" and "no privacy for anyone!" and "perpetual copyrights."

2. I hear San Francisco has moved to instant runoff voting for the local portion of its election ballot. That is pretty awesome. IRV consistently gets a lot of criticism from proponants of other condorcet methods, which I think is pure bullshit. The other condorcet (or, candidate ranking) methods are excessively complicated and really would scare people away from voting like opponants of condorcet voting in general (specifically: incumbent democrats, republicans) say IRV will. I fail to see how IRV is difficult, but then, I am not stupid.

Regular voting:
Me: I'd like some ginger ice cream, please.
Jockey: $3.65 please
Me: Here you go.
Jockey: Thank you.
Me: Can I have my ice cream now?
Jockey: No. Maybe if you'd ordered vanilla or chocolate you could have your ice cream now. But you didn't, you ordered ginger.
Me: Well can I order vanilla instead, then?
Jockey: Sorry, too late. You are fucked and will be given chocolate, which all rational people are allergic to.

Okay, I threw in that last part; it's not usually in there.

Condorcet voting:
Me: I'd like some ginger ice cream, please.
Jockey: $3.65 please
Me: Here you go.
Jockey: Oh, I'm sorry, we're right out of ginger. What is your next choice, choosing between our two main flavors, chocolate and vanilla?
Me: Well, it's too bad, but I guess I'll choose vanilla.
Jockey: Okay, here's your vanilla, and I will write a note to management letting them know that you and many others are actually interested in ginger. They'll probably stock an increasing amount of that flavor in the future because of your interest.
Me: Now that's how competition is supposed to work!

I will be writing about the local and national ballot questions, also, when the city of Cambridge sends me the ballot summary they promised to several weeks ago and which is for some incomprehensible reason not available on the internet.

That is all.
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More on FedEx [Oct. 28th, 2004|06:12 pm]
Jack Phelps
This article will never see publication because after I submitted it to Will he informed me that he had written one on the same topic (at my suggestion, even) last week. Alas, here it is here, comparatively unedited, anyway.

Technology Enables FedEx’s Environmental Vision
Jack S. Phelps
Business & Technology Editor Emeritus

Last week, FedEx Corporation, the shipping giant with over $26 billion in annual revenues, announced its plan to construct California’s largest corporate-owned solar power array. The plan, which would contribute 80% of the peak-load electricity requirements for its Oakland, CA distribution hub.

The prospective array will be constructed on top of the company’s two buildings at the Oakland International Airport, which employ roughly 1,700 people. It should almost one megawatt, or enough to power 900 area homes during the daytime, to the Oakland grid.

This is not the first major environmental leap the company has made. In March, FedEx announced the integration of “hybrid” diesel/electric trucks into its fleet of shipping vehicles. The new vehicle is expected to decrease particulate emissions by 96 percent, reduce smog-causing emissions by 75 percent, and travel 57 percent farther on a gallon of fuel, reducing fuel costs by over a third. Though it doesn’t specify its exact plans for how deeply it will phase in the vehicles, the company’s website notes its vision for its 10,000-vehicle fleet to save a million barrels of oil worth of diesel every year if complete adoption takes place.

The company’s other environmental visions for the hybrid fleet include reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 83,000 tons annually, the equivalent to planting 2 million trees, and reducing smog-causing emissions of nitrogen oxides by 1,700 tons annually, the equivalent of taking passenger cars off New York City roads for 25 days.

These technologies are not new, but such major implementations are essential steps in the trend of their increasing adoption. According to reporting on Tuesday by the Earth Policy Institute, world photovoltaic cell sales increased 32% in volume in 2003. The Institute says that cumulative world solar power production now stands at 3,145 megawatts, “enough to meet the electricity needs of more than a million homes.”

Also important to this trend are the cost efficiencies that come with higher-volume production of photovoltaic cells: the Institute estimates that for every doubling in production of solar cells, a 20% cost reduction is achieved.

Moreover, as anyone following the auto industry should know, Toyota’s Prius gas/electric hybrid car is a real hit (although some say that the Chevy Suburban still outsells the Prius 3-to-1 in the US).

Even though the technology isn’t exactly new, FedEx deserves kudos for its precedent-setting move. It is difficult for any major corporation to step up to the plate and take what is generally considered a risk to its shareholders’ interests. With its focus on adopting environmentally-friendly technologies, though, FedEx is demonstrating to everyone in the market that such moves can be both cost-effective and attractive to stakeholders. Now that FedEx is showing ROI from its environmental investments, what excuse do other companies have not to participate in the movement?

So take note, Babson students: when your company is looking at new facilities, building a service fleet, or other such major investments, consider green alternatives. Not only can you be saving the environment, but you can also save your shareholders some cash and draw positive publicity while you’re at it.
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Phone Post [Oct. 28th, 2004|12:19 am]
Jack Phelps
Okay, this phone post came out unbearably lame because my phone is far too good at blocking out the background noise of the city. But you can just trust me--it's pretty fucking crazy out there.

508K 2:44
(no transcription available)
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(no subject) [Oct. 20th, 2004|06:53 pm]
Jack Phelps
First, a summary of a comical statistical analysis out of the office:

Ray: Yankees fans are so mean! I can't believe they had to bring out the riot police!

Jack: Actually, I figure they aren't necessarily any worse. You just have to figure there are 55,000 fans at the game instead of 35,000, so you're naturally going to bring in a greater absolute number of the maximally obnoxious fans who lie on the tail end of the demeanor distribution. Even though they're not a greater percentage of the population, they are the only ones who stand out, so it just seems like yankee fans are worse.

Gordon: Ahh, but you're drawing your sample from a larger aggregate population, so the relative sample size is smaller and exactly the opposite could be quite true. And the larger population should be more normalized, anyway.

Jack: Good point. Additional testing is probably necessary.


Neal Stephenson's Slashdot interview is up, in case you didn't see it. He talks, among other things, about literary criticism and about the three occasions on which he dueled William Gibson, as excerpted below. God that man is a genius.

In a fight between you and William Gibson, who would win?


You don't have to settle for mere idle speculation. Let me tell you how it came out on the three occasions when we did fight.

The first time was a year or two after SNOW CRASH came out. I was doing a reading/signing at White Dwarf Books in Vancouver. Gibson stopped by to say hello and extended his hand as if to shake. But I remembered something Bruce Sterling had told me. For, at the time, Sterling and I had formed a pact to fight Gibson. Gibson had been regrown in a vat from scraps of DNA after Sterling had crashed an LNG tanker into Gibson's Stealth pleasure barge in the Straits of Juan de Fuca. During the regeneration process, telescoping Carbonite stilettos had been incorporated into Gibson's arms. Remembering this in the nick of time, I grabbed the signing table and flipped it up between us. Of course the Carbonite stilettos pierced it as if it were cork board, but this spoiled his aim long enough for me to whip my wakizashi out from between my shoulder blades and swing at his head. He deflected the blow with a force blast that sprained my wrist. The falling table knocked over a space heater and set fire to the store. Everyone else fled. Gibson and I dueled among blazing stacks of books for a while. Slowly I gained the upper hand, for, on defense, his Praying Mantis style was no match for my Flying Cloud technique. But I lost him behind a cloud of smoke. Then I had to get out of the place. The streets were crowded with his black-suited minions and I had to turn into a swarm of locusts and fly back to Seattle...
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(no subject) [Oct. 19th, 2004|05:46 pm]
Jack Phelps
FedEx to Build California's Largest Corporate Solar Power System on FedEx Facility.

It only takes the space of two rooftops to do this. Very large rooftops, I'm sure, but just two.

This release mentions that FedEx also runs a fleet of hybrid diesel trucks; what it neglects to mention is that the company is also working to start using biodiesel in those trucks. It's fantastic that a corporation with significant scale can also have the foresight to invest in great green technology.

That is all.
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(no subject) [Oct. 18th, 2004|12:47 am]
Jack Phelps

I think this is a really funny popup ad.

But I just don't get it!

Who pays for this ad to pop up on my computer?

Who cares enough about my opinion on the legalization of weed to give me an iPod (even a mini) for it?

How did they get that nice picture of a pot leaf without possessing some of the not-yet-legal substance, hmmm?
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(no subject) [Oct. 16th, 2004|03:49 pm]
Jack Phelps
I was in Brattle Square today walking from comic store to comic store looking for Dream Country (Sandman 3) when I overheard one of the DNC people trying to convince someone to donate money to Kerry's campaign. The person was thoroughly unconvinced, and the DNC chick offered:

"Kerry's not that bad... He's a good guy."

Oh how convincing.

The US presidency has been compromise after compromise for years. It really sickens me. I believe that anyone who is so ready to compromise their beliefs in order to increase their chances of getting elected is not worthy of the presidency. Unfortunately, these days you can't accumulate any decent amount of political power without bowing to a lot of special interests (i.e. not those necessarily in the interests of the American people). I was talking to my mom last night (why, what do YOU do on your friday nights?) and the last example of an uncompromising president I could come up with was Jack Kennedy. And how interesting is it that he was someone who was so rich and such a playboy that he (or his father, anyway) bought his way into political and never had to make any real compromises? He was just an incredibly strong personality with the resources behind him to achieve regardless of whom he pissed off. I think that's pretty interesting.

William Clay Ford Jr, Henry Ford's great-grandson, is another interesting occurence. This is a guy who grew up living and breathing Ford Motor Company in the same way Kennedy grew up presidential, and because of that he's been preparing his whole life to lead that company. It's not unlike that loser whatsisname in Atlas Shrugged (no, I didn't finish reading the book). Ford is doing tremendous things for his company; kudos to him.

I guess I am wishing right now for someone slick with backbone to match his charisma to step in and pull us out of the political messes we're in. Preferably democratic, but republican works too if he's got the balls to act in the best interests of the American people. Someone who can step up to the domestic AND international communities and say that this is America, and that we will not compromise freedom to gain marginal, near-useless protections from terrorists, but instead, we will support the education and prosperity of the entire world, because doing anything else is administering a weak, expensive treatment to the symptoms, rather than curing the disease.

-Jack out
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