Quote of the Day - This report, by its very length, defends itself against the risk of being read.
470 Counties Fall Below Smog StandardsSan Luis Obispo.com reports that USEPA designated 470 counties as "non-attainment" areas under a new smog standard, first drafted in 1997. The new standard measures eight hours of smog averaged over three days, as opposed to the old, standard one-hour measurement.
As a result, the new regulation is about one-third more stringent and increases the number of states containing unhealthy areas to 31, placing 170 million people in smog zones. The 19 states not listed are located primarily in the West or where winds blow steadily to disperse the smog.
Environmentalists are skeptical of the effectiveness of the more stringent standard. They claim that the Bush administration's new flexibility for regulations allow some communities to avoid imposing rules that would otherwise require cuts in pollutants from smokestacks and tailpipes.
The passage of the new standard forces Texas to institute new pollution controls to reduce smog-causing ozone, ending the efforts of Congressman Joe Barton to block the measure. Barton currently heads the House Committee on Energy & Commerce that approves the USEPA's budget.
The American Revolution All Over Again?Remember the American revolution? You know, our ancestors were tired of the King of England exempting himself from the law of the land.
Well, maybe we need to start again. The Department of Defense thinks that it doesn't have to comply with environmental laws.
Thankfully, the MWD doesn't agree. Apparently, Congress is considering granting the exemption. The MWD believes that it is bad public policy.
This writer agrees. Granted, the government (read USEPA) will end up paying for the cleanup anyway - or local agencies if the military abandons their bases - or regular citizens if nothing is done. Our taxes will do it one way or the other.
We fought before to make the government responsible to the people. Perhaps we'll have to do it again. In the meantime, write your representative.
Call me from the MountaintopHello? Can you hear me now? From a 15,000 foot mountain? Sure, cell phones are ubiquitous, but how about in isolated areas like Mount Whitney?
Excuse me while take this call, I'll grab the belay line when I'm finished. Oops!
On the other hand a number of people have been rescued by cell phone users.
Where do you draw the line? There are numerous calls for increased etiquette. But on a mountaintop?
Hey, if you want someone else to share in conquering a mountain, bring them along. Don't call someone else to rub it in. Who cares anyway?
Flying the Tricks of the TradeYou buy a plane ticket from Washington, DC to Louisana and pay a fortune. Your everyday Supreme Court Justice, Anton Scalia, buys a cheap plane ticket also between DC and Louisana, but pays substantailly less. You both fly the same distance. Why is his cheaper?
According to the Baltimore Sun, it's because you bought a $698 one-way ticket, and he bought a $218 round-trip ticket. Except Justice Scalia only flew one leg of the round-trip ticket.
Sounds reasonable, you say?
Not according to the airlines. They consider it fraud.
But a Supreme Court Justice did it, you say.
There are other tricks, too, such as the hidden city itinerary. In that trick, the expensive ticket is from one big city to another. But, that flight also extends on to a less popular city, and the airlines discount tickets to the less popular city. You buy the ticket to the less popular city, but just don't take the last leg.
You could also try the back-to-back itinerary, likewise saving you money. You know the old "Saturday night stayover" requirement - but you want to fly midweek. Buying two tickets that both stayover Saturday, but allow you to fly two midweek days.
Such a deal. Airlines argue that it violates their tarriffs and is illegal. There are horror stories out there of airlines filing suit against individuals and companies, so be forewarned.
As the Sun points out, if a Supreme Court Justice can do it....
Headed to the BeachIt's a nice weekend for the beach - in fact I may be down there myself later this afternoon. I am, however, a little disappointed to know that California beaches are not in compliance with USEPA regulations.
At least one environmental organization, Oceana is monitoring our beaches for us. Today's map is all green (with some "no data available" blips), so it's looking good.
Probably not good after a rain, though. You can check here for the Newport pier webcam to get an idea before you go.
Lead in Soil, Now in Grapes?As one of my friends likes to kid me about, I live in Orange County, California, and yes, I go to Italian restaurants and, yes, they serve olive oil and balsamic vinegar for bread.
According to Prop 65 News, however, an environmental group, the Environmental Law Foundation, filed a lawsuit under Prop 65 against makers and sellers of some popular wine vinegars, alleging that they contain small amounts of the metal lead.
ELF says lead can contaminate wine vinegar in the manufacturing process, and that the highest concentrations are found in Modena-style balsamic vinegar, a dark, rich vinegar favored by gourmet cooks.
The attorney who represents the wine vinegar manufacturers and importers in the suit, said that lead occurs naturally in the soil, is taken up by the grapes used to make the wine vinegar and, therefore, is not regulated by Prop. 65.
Where did they think the lead came from?
Will Computer Processors Run Faster?They don't really seem to go together - lead and computer processors - but that's one of the ingredients that Intel uses to make computer chips. You know, let's get the lead out and all those sayings. Just doesn't instill my faith in computer processors if there's lead in there.
But, not to worry. Intel's working to remove the lead from their processors.
According to an environmental group, the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, there are more environmental worries, though. But, it's a step in the right direction.
Maybe with the lead out, now the computer chips will run faster.
Who Can Help Me Buy A House?Now we know. The term "Realtor" is a protected trademark of the National Association of Realtors.
You simply can't write it anymore without an R inside a circle or (R) [parenthesis]. Or something like that.
Attorney Dave Barry filed suit to challenge the NAR's use of the term "Realtor." Apparently, it also had something to do with ownership and sale of the realtor.com website. Go figure. Someone wanted money.
In any event, the Trademark, Trials and Appeals Board thought the term was trademarked by the NAR. The argument was over whether the term "Realtor" was generic or unique. Apparently, unique won out.
I guess "real estate agent" is still available for those of you who are looking for help buying a house.