Month: August 2006

Northeast ripe for a hurricane

I would link the original article but the Providence Journal requires an onerous registration process, even blocks usage of theBugMeNot Firefox extension.

In any case, the article titled “Massive clam die-off may bode ill for Bay”. Apparently Narragansett bay from the Providence River on down to Conimicut point is permanently closed to fishing because of pollution. As such it has become prime seeding ground for steamer clams.

The problem is, the baby clams are dying off in huge numbers.

Granted we’ve had lots of rain this past spring which probably washed god knows what into the water and it hasn’t been terribly windy which helps oxygenate water. But this isn’t so much about the clam die-off as it is about our susceptibility to a hurricane.

In shallow areas of the bay (3 to 10 feet) temperatures are 81.8F, whereas in deeper areas it’s 77F to 79F. That is damnably warm for Narragansett Bay. When you think about it, a hurricane is nothing but a heat engine. And water temps over 65-70F is prime fuel for a hurricane.

We’re better prepared right now than we were pre-Katrina. But we’re not well prepared when it comes to the amount of developent that has occured along the edges of the bay and along the coast of Rhode Island.

Waterfront living is nice when weather is perfect but can get downright ugly when a storm rolls in.

I’ve also noticed an uptick in the number of violent thunderstorms we’ve been getting lately. That is a harbinger of things to come.

Of course I also note that 24,000 National Grid customers lost power during last nights thunderstorm. But that wasn’t mother nature, that’s what happens when you deregulate a public utility and then let a foreign corporation come in and take it over. Investment in outside plant goes down, while return on investment goes up. Funny how that works.

This explains everything about the U.S.

Para Publishing has some interesting statistics on their web site. But most interesting of all are these fun facts:

  • 58% of the US adult population never reads another book after high school.
  • 42% of college graduates never read another book.
  • 80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year.
  • 70% of US adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.

That is a sad set of numbers. I’m not sure of the sources for this but based on my own observations I’d say it’s true. Neither I nor my SO fall into any one of those categories, but I’m the more voracious reader of the two of us. I go through withdrawal if I don’t have reading material. My readings appear in many forms, from paper to e-books, to online newspapers both foreign and domestic.

I suppose its because reading was a very big part of my education. From elementary school on, reading was in fact fundamental. In high school we were expected to read and critique books on a regular basis and we did. In a prior blog entry I lamented the fact that all the books we were required to read were on a list of books that managed to get themselves banned in some location for some assinine reason.

I pity those who dont’ read on a regular basis. Their world is so much more empty, so much smaller because of it. One of the genres I recommend most is fiction since a well written book can literally take you away with it.

Tax cheating by the rich

Apparently the Senate thinks its out of control.

And they’re right, it is out of control to the tune of some $70 Billion with a ‘B’. I think if they’d dug deeper they might find it’s much more than that. The rich are hoarding money, that’s why they’re rich. I’m particularly incensed by Robert Wood Johnson IV owner of the New York Jets and ‘scion of the Johnson & Johnson health care fortune…’ and Haim Saban being profiled as victims.

You cannot for a moment tell me that they didn’t know what their accountants were doing. When you have that kind of money you have accountants watching other accountants. Mrs. Johnson and Saban aren’t innocent victims.

And that this involves Lehman Brothers, Bank of America, etc. only inflames my anger. If they didn’t know what was going on, I’d have a very hard time believing in their competence.

When I search the GPO web site I come up with this pdf document which seems to indict the accounting firms. But that goes back to 2002. Even still, it paints a picture and it isn’t a pretty one.

Verizon’s "Come Back" scam

Every so many months I get a “Come back” letter from Verizon offering me this supposedly great deal. Their great deal is for $28.95 a month I’ll get calling features (A max of 3!) and 5 cents a minute for intra and inter state long distance.

I’m sorry but right now I pay $30 a month ($24.99 + taxes and fees like E-911 recovery) with Vonage. I’ve been very happy with Vonage. Not only do I get pretty much every feature, some of which I’ll never use, but I get unlimited local and long distance. That LD by the way is ALL of North America including Canada, as well as a good chunk of western Europe.

And its only a matter of time before my local calling area will include chunks of Asia.

That’s the beauty of VoIP. So why on earth would verizon ever think I’d want to switch back to them?

Earlier I said the cost was $28.95 right? Well I hadn’t added in all the taxes and fees. Once those are added in their little savings plan goes to $45 a month and that’s without LD usage calculated. Just to give you an idea, approximately 1/2 of my calls are what would formerly have been toll. Put it this way, there are 4 days to go in the billing cycle and already I’ve used 804 minutes – so if half those are LD that would be an additional $20.10 I’d have to fork over to Verizon, bringing my total to $65.10. So no, I’ll be sticking with Vonage thank you very much.

I figure by this point in the game Verizon has wasted approximately $20 trying to get me to come back to them over the last two years. Let them keep spending themselves into a their own grave.