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zane’s Letters to Congress

  • Date To Regarding Privacy
  • August 06, 2014
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zane’s Comments

zane 06/03/2009 10:19am

Absolutely contrary to any possible standard of transparency in government. Who inserted this? Is the Obama administration actively supporting this section, or the bill as a whole? His stance on digital government transparency was probably the most important one in my decision to support him.

Comm_reply
zane 03/06/2009 7:23am

It turns out that high quality scientific publishing can be done (and is now primarily done) in ones spare time. The amount of time spent by for-profit journal employees in getting an article to print is tiny compared to the amount of time spent by the people writing and reviewing the articles (for free). Open access publishing isn’t, and probably never will be free (as in beer), but it’s certainly a lot more free (as in speech) than the current setup, and monetarily cheaper than funneling profits to journals that don’t actually add any value to the process.

zane 02/12/2009 12:20pm

The academic publishing industry gets its content from people who are funded largely by the public, and then has those researchers do the peer reviews, and then charges the same researchers to read the papers, and often the institutions that are paying the journal subscription fees are also publicly funded! In this digital day and age there’s no reason scientific publishing should be run that way.

We should be implementing more open access requirements for publicly funded research (from NASA, NSF, NOAA, etc), not rolling back what little we’ve got. The Public Library of Science (PLoS) and the Alliance for Taxpayer Access are attempting to coordinate a campaign to get this bill defeated: http://is.gd/jiac

zane 01/14/2009 12:58pm

If transparency is good (and I think it is), it’s good regardless of who’s in charge. What is he thinking, backing away?

zane 12/11/2008 9:10am

Another thing, which you’re probably already aware of, is that listing the popular topics like this is a positive feedback loop. They’ll get more eyeballs, and so are likely to get more votes, and become even more popular. We need to accumulate votes and commentary on other less popular bills (preferably in a random way), which may simply be unpopular because people aren’t aware of them.

zane 12/11/2008 9:07am

Given the enormous dispersion in apparent interest in the bills on the site, it seems likely to me that this distribution is more due to which bills have had news coverage that linked directly to OpenCongress, and not due to the public’s (even the web 2.0 public’s) general levels of interest. How do we get to critical mass? (Yes, I know, Digg the page :)

Having become familiar now with IntenseDebate, after change.gov started using it, I think that having that kind of persistent owned commentary goes a long way toward incentivizing thoughtful input.
I immediately felt much more personally invested in my commentary, when I knew it wasn’t just going to vanish into the void. Now I expect it to be something I might be held accountable for across many sites, over a long period of time, and I want the quality of that commentary to reflect on my identity, and accumulate. I think it’d be great if OpenCongress would go that way…

zane 12/02/2008 11:01am

Incredibly, it seems that since this morning, they have added direct download links to all of the video clips on change.gov, allowing one to download the high-resolution MPEG/Quicktime files for re-mix purposes. Is it telepathy, or are they being mind-blowingly responsive? It’s like we live in the future or something…

zane 12/02/2008 8:43am

However, unlike the so-called Big-3, Toyota, Honda, and Nissan are not teetering on the edge of insolvency. Bad management has not necessarily resulted in the downturn in US automaker sales, but it has resulted in these companies being unable to survive a downturn without public support, whereas Toyota at least has substantial cash reserves which will hopefully be sufficient to see it through the recession. Should that prove not to be the case, is it not possible that we simply have a global surplus of automotive production capacity, that ultimately needs to be trimmed? And if that’s the case, shouldn’t we try to trim away the companies that did the poorest job of managing themselves for long term economic sustainability?

zane 11/20/2008 4:44pm

Even if they did all entirely collapse, it’s extremely that all that manufacturing capacity would completely evaporate. They’d declare bankruptcy and re-organize their operations while protected from their creditors. Current shareholders would lose their shirts (most of them already have) and current creditors would take ownership. They’d slough their pension obligations to the federal government (just like the airlines do every time they go bankrupt), and re-open for business. Or they’d sell themselves off to other manufacturers, like Toyota, who would probably be happy to take over all that capacity at bargain basement prices, and retain a lot of the employees and plants right where they are.

If they were really concerned about how horrible their bankruptcies would be for the nation, they would have made better long range business decisions instead of turning the quick and vulnerable buck making enormous, inefficient vehicles. This video is pure propaganda.

Cars can be fun to drive, safe, and highly fuel efficient if they’re light weight, aerodynamic, and made out of composite materials instead of steel. Read “Winning the Oil End Game” by Amory Lovins for more information. It’s all online: http://www.oilendgame.com or check out this short interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8D-uhKHy7mk or search around for “hypercars”. If the Big Three aren’t willing to innovate on that scale, screw em.

zane 09/06/2008 11:29am

“tens of billions”? Like, how about 100 tens of billions? This just makes a mockery of even the idea of what money is. To think that this bailout could somehow ultimately “cost” as much as the entire Iraq war? What does that even mean? The mind boggles.

zane 09/06/2008 10:56am

Bailing out any of the US automakers is an incredibly bad idea. We’ve already bailed Chrysler out once, and look what they did. Companies that make bad business decisions need to be allowed to fail, or they don’t improve. I don’t think the job protection argument really holds much water, because it isn’t as if, after Chrysler implodes, all those cars that they would have made won’t get built – they’ll be built by other companies who take over Chrysler’s market share (assuming the market size stays fixed). As a politician, I think the right thing to do would be to try and make sure that the labor and infrastructure that Chrysler currently holds in the US was passed on smoothly to another automaker that has made good business decisions, and thus has a mountain of cash to spend at a bankruptcy auction (say… Toyota?). The idea that there are “US” and “Foreign” corporations is just not true. Large corporations have no national loyalties and really should not be treated differently based on the nation they were founded in. People all over the world own Toyota (and Chrysler) stock. A huge amount of GM’s manufacturing takes place in Mexico. Most of Volkswagen’s profits don’t come from Germany. Etc., etc.

zane 07/27/2008 3:50pm

Terrible blank check:
Ready your helicopters
Señor Bernanke.

Comm_reply
zane 07/27/2008 10:03am

A bunch of good discussion of the role of “speculators” in the global energy markets linked to from Interfluidity today: http://interfluidity.com/posts/1217152169.shtml

zane 07/27/2008 10:02am

Lots of good discussion about the role of so-called “speculators” in the oil markets, linked to from Interfluidity, here: http://interfluidity.com/posts/1217152169.shtml

Comm_reply
zane 07/24/2008 8:44am

@Dem02020 Have you actually read Pickens’ plan? It doesn’t sound like it. Wind can be used to displace oil imports if we start shifting our fleet to 1) plug in hybrids that use mostly electricity, or 2) natural gas powered vehicles, which can use the natural gas that is displaced in our power mix by the wind. Pickens favors the latter.

Re: speculators… even the fairly liberal economics columnist Paul Krugman at the NY Times doesn’t buy the whole “blame the speculators” nonsense. It’s just a good story Congress can tell, about a scapegoat nobody has any sympathy for, without addressing the problems behind the high oil prices: namely, that global demand has been skyrocketing, while global supply has been stagnant, and we have made huge infrastructural bets on oil being cheap and plentiful indefinitely.

zane 07/12/2008 10:19pm

SOME form of this bill has to get through before the end of the year, or the entire solar industry is going to seize up. The on again/off again tax incentives are impossible to build a business model around. sigh

zane 07/09/2008 3:47pm

There may be “consensus” about this issue on the hill… but the rest of the world has some serious doubts:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/27/opinion/27krugman.html

http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=11670357

http://interfluidity.com/posts/1213243935.shtml

I suspect that congress is fully aware they are doing nothing with this bill. It does make for good election year press though: we always need a scapegoat.


Number of Comments: 17
Average Comment Rating (0-10): 5.0
Comments Per Day: 0.01

zane’s Supported Bills

Bill Status Last Action
H.R.5351 Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2008 (110th congress) House Passed Feb 28, 2008
H.R.5642 SUSTAIN Act (110th congress) Introduced Apr 14, 2008
S.215 Internet Freedom Preservation Act (110th congress) Introduced Jan 09, 2007
S.223 Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act (110th congress) Introduced Apr 26, 2007
H.R.5244 Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights Act of 2008 (110th congress) House Passed Oct 02, 2008
H.R.833 Federal Reserve Board Abolition Act (111th congress) Introduced Feb 03, 2009
H.R.1443 Complete Streets Act of 2009 (111th congress) Introduced Mar 12, 2009
H.R.146 Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (111th congress) Bill Is Law Mar 30, 2009
H.R.1549 Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2009 (111th congress) Introduced Jul 13, 2009
H.R.1256 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (111th congress) Bill Is Law Jun 22, 2009
S.752 Fair Elections Now Act (111th congress) Introduced Mar 31, 2009

zane’s Opposed Bills

Bill Status Last Action
H.R.5889 Orphan Works Act of 2008 (110th congress) Introduced May 07, 2008
H.R.2208 Coal Liquid Fuel Act (110th congress) Introduced Jul 09, 2008
H.Con.Res.362 Expressing the sense of Congress regarding the threat posed to international peace, stability in the Middle East, and the vital national security interests of the United States by Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons and regional hegemony, and for other purposes. (110th congress) Introduced May 22, 2008
H.R.6377 Energy Markets Emergency Act of 2008 (110th congress) House Passed Jul 08, 2008
H.R.3221 Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (110th congress) Bill Is Law Jul 30, 2008
H.R.1955 Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 (110th congress) House Passed Oct 24, 2007
H.R.6845 Fair Copyright in Research Works Act (110th congress) Introduced Sep 10, 2008
H.R.1424 Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (110th congress) Bill Is Law Oct 03, 2008
H.R.3997 Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2007 (110th congress) Senate Passed Sep 29, 2008
H.R.801 Fair Copyright in Research Works Act (111th congress) Introduced Mar 16, 2009
H.R.875 Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 (111th congress) Introduced Apr 23, 2009