Al Gore's Personal Energy Use Is His Own "Inconvenient Truth" - The online gotcha gang is circulating this report on the amount of energy consumed by the Gore compound in Tennessee. The source of the report and the way the guy provides his own odd quote may make you scratch your head, but I was able to confirm that the 10,000 kWh per year average is about right.
For what it's worth, Gore does have a response, the short version of which is that after employing a number of energy saving tactics (what would the energy draw be without those?) he buys carbon offsets to make up the rest. In case you're not familiar, buying carbon offsets is giving money to some kind of eco charity or technology company so that you're advancing the green cause even if you're not personally hitting all the green cylinders.
I have to guess that something like this was also how they justified saying the Oscars were green since I didn't see anyone arriving to the red carpet on bicycles and I don't recall reading about solar panels power all those production lights (of course, I could always look it up to find out what was so green about the Oscars). The Times recently had a piece on whether these offsets actually alleviate the guilt of polluting. Apparently the effectiveness of some of the offsets is questionable and furthermore, by not forcing people to change their behavior the offsets can be counterproductive in the long term.
In case you're interested, the Bush ranch also has some green features. I clicked that link among the considerable collection in this blog entry making the rather lengthy case that Gore is a hypocrite.
The unfortunate thing about having a prominent spokesperson for a cause is that the cause is so easily confused with the person. Whether Gore (or Bush for that matter) recycles his empties has nothing to do with the state of the planet. Hopefully this latest bit of drama stays contained in the pundit-sphere.
A question I have is whether concentration of pollutants matters. I know the local brewery in my neighborhood offsets its energy consumption with wind power. But I don't look out my window and see turbines. Those are on a farm upstate somewhere. Maybe I'm being selfish but I would have hoped that having a green company in the neighborhood would make for a greener neighborhood particularly since I have to think the pollutants in my neighborhood are in greater concentration than they are upstate. Am I mixing apples and oranges?
Speaking of questionable offsets, one solution particularly criticized in the Times piece is the tree planting offsets. I felt some sympathy for Dell in seeing that as their solution to the customer demand that they be more ecologically aware in their computer production. The reason I feel sympathy is that Dell ran a huge campaign to solicit feedback on how to make their company and products better and they've just released their response to the feedback. In all it looks like a pretty sincere effort.
Speaking of dubious green ideas, this Honda F1 race car isn't green but it has a pretty picture of the Earth on it, so it's helping "raise awareness." (Wha?) Instead you're meant to pledge to do something green like "recycle all of my paper" and purchase a tiny spot on the car's body graphic so they can maintain their sponsorship money without having to cover the awareness raising paint job with sponsor stickers.
Speaking of green cylinders, it turns out that a smart car holds up pretty well against a wall at 70 mph. I have to assume that has something to do with its weight/mass.
"Before Amanda Marcotte's short-lived tenure as blogger for the John Edwards campaign, I was offered the job. Here's why I said no." Though the Edwards blogger drama is over and cold by now, this is a fascinating look at how campaigns work with and recruit bloggers. Well... maybe not "campaigns" but the Edwards campaign at least. This is the article you want to print out and hand to the campaign manager who says, "Let's hire some of those bloggers."
"OpenCongress brings together official government data with news and blog coverage to give you the real story behind each bill." I love this idea. Finally political coverage that's more substance and less horse race that helps the American people understand what their government is doing in their name. (This site just launched, so I may be jumping the gun, but I do like the idea.) "Small groups of political insiders and lobbyists know what's really going on in Congress. Now, everyone can be an insider. OpenCongress is a free, open-source, non-profit, and non-partisan web resource with a mission to help make Congress more transparent and to encourage civic engagement."
GadgetTrak looks like LoJack for your iPod. Their software lets your gadget phone home (to them) so you can log in and see where it's being used and by whom (and even how?). They're offering a free account now and later there will be a pay version with more features. It makes me think of the "free" flash drive trick in which the memory sticks are handed out on the street as a promotion but they're all loaded with phone-home software to show that people are dumb enough to stick anything into their computers. Imagine what you could load onto someone's computer from a "lost" or "free" iPod.
The NBA does UGC - It's a wicked ugly page, but idea of recording your basketball moves sounds fun.
Though this isn't a topic on which I often dwell, there's an interesting discussion here of whether the Yahoo CEO is doing a good job and/or is worth what he's being paid.
Also from Consumerist, The Really Big Guide To Secret Menu Items - The more you read, the weirder the list gets. For the most part the idea is that you can ask for any combination of fast food ingredients even if it's not technically a menu item. I wish I had one to contribute but the most creative thing I ever did was putting shredded cheese on the free breadsticks at Houlihan's or putting mozzarella sticks in the microwave. Both are desperation items for hungry waiters during the evening's clean-up, not something you'd order.
I was just reading that Microsoft bought this medical search engine. Still in beta, but it's hard to deny the value of such a site (if it works).
Joan Jett could very well be the most under rated rock god. I don't even care if she sold her story to Cadillac. (Her A.C.D.C. song is better than the one she sold to Cadillac.) Self-indulgent anecdote: In the late 80s as a high school kid I used a fake college ID to see Joan Jett and the Blackhearts play at the University of Lowell (this was before it was U. Mass at Lowell). Her cover of Crimson and Clover remains a giant red exclamation point on the timeline of my life. She wore the same black pants as in the video. Hoo man... like it was yesterday. Today's Clicked is a little late in being published because I just watched every single result in the YouTube search for that song.
Word Source calls itself a social dictionary. What that means is that you get to vote for words or identify yourself with words. I'm not sure I've ever wished a dictionary would do that for me, so I'll be interested to see if this catches on. I do like their advanced search features. What I'd like to know is where their definitions and spellings come from. Whose dictionary are they using as the database? Ultimately it's the reliability of the information that matters more than the social toys.
Obvious headline of the day: Wireless users 'do more online' - I touched on this yesterday when I talked about people who have computers in their back rooms. In fact, the other day I was joking with a colleague about how frustrated he gets with his parents when he visits them and they have crappy dial-up service on a slow PC in the back room and they tell him they don't see what's so great about the Internet. While switching to broadband was a no-brainer for me, I was really surprised at how much my life changed when I added wifi to my apartment. The dark side of the equation is when I go someplace without wifi and feel like I've lost one of my senses.
Video game dance music - What would be really impressive is if it could be played live.
A herd of sea cucumber? The movie writes itself.
Speaking of giant animals, what you can't hear on this video are the screams of the person as the snail devours his arm.
Last time I linked to Zamzar the file converting site, the one shortcoming was that it didn't also apply to online video. Now it does.
If I were a trouble maker I'd point out that Frenchie Davis's nude pics got her dumped from American Idol. I don't think this new girl's pictures are all that different, and whether it's a publicity stunt is beside the point. Most of these American Idol contestants are on a "famous by any means" mission. Anyway, I know I try to bring links that are in the news, but of course I can't link to the dirty pictures in question on this one. I saw them on a porn blog called Drunken Stepfather. They're probably on Fleshbot somewhere too.
Speaking of kids taking dirty pictures of each other, this is the second time I've read about a teenager engaging in some kind of online sexual activity and becoming ensnared in child porn laws. I don't have a good answer, but it does seem wrong to be painted as a child pornographer when you're the child in question. This is one of those cases where technology and the law are not quite in sync, but I can't imagine how the law could keep the technology out of the hands of teens. Are you going to put an age limit on cameras like cigarettes?
A Clicked follow-up:
You posted on Clicked a while back that whole thing about the UNC student breaking up with his girlfriend in front of a large crowd on Valentine's Day. I just thought you might be interested to learn that it was all a big hoax.
Will replies: Meanwhile, this is the best quality video of it yet. NOTE: Cursing out loud. I'm not sure I believe that it's fake. I mean, I know the guy is saying it is, but they sure don't look like they're acting. I don't mean that as a compliment either. It's not good or bad acting, it's sort of non-acting.