Saturday, March 17, 2007

other side of the world

I have to say that its a bit strange being on this side of the globe. I think that we all get these romantic notions that things are better here or there because they're there and not here and there are so many problems with here and none that you can really focus on there. That is, of course, until you're there and then you also realize that they've got problems as well.

It all makes sense in the head, seriously it does.

Since this is my first real post from abroad, I figured it needed to be wordy and deep or just wordy. As someone once told me about opening bands, "if you can't be good, be loud". I plan on being plenty loud. How can I not? I'm in the UK and if they're anything they're about the subtle humor vs the American "pie in the face" kind. They suffer awful weather graciously. Wear monkey suits when they go to their day jobs and in general, are fairly pleasant even when they don't need to be. Generally speaking though, humor wise, I prefer a mix, sarcasm and slap stick, yes, there is room in my comic universe for both Carrot Top and John Stewart.

I will say that the news here is about a thousand times better than what you get in the states, if for one simple reason, I can turn on my teevee and watch Al Jazeera and make my own opinion about it vs having that opinion made for me by cable marketing execs who fear the fallout of rightwing wacko conservatives who get their noise from the Big Dick's secret bunker. And strangely enough, I like Al Jazeera. A little more mid-east focused than I'd really care about but you have to figure that'd be the case with a station that is based in Qatar. Otherwise, its clean (no waving flags or 18 different news banners going off at the same time or crazy graphics) and professional and unlike the Dick's secret bunker, it is quite balanced.

It is certainly a different world here though. Yesterday there was a story concerning the controversial issue of bi-weekly garbage pickup. Basically, the news did an admirable job of attempting to tie the issue to global warming, which is now the justification for any poorly thought out policy. This is probably going to ruffle a few feathers but I don't completely buy into the man made global warming story. Don't get me wrong, I have absolutely no issues with using less carbon, recycling, etc and I can see their merits outside of a "global warming" prism but I suppose its the cynic in me. Something about this just seems too neat, it smells. But if it makes people wake up a bit and attempt to reduce their footprint on mother earth, then I'm fine with that, gospel truth or not. That having been said, a purely financial decision and an unpopular one at that was being tied to global warming so as to lower the amount of criticism for it. Cause if you just came out and said, we're not going to pick up your garbage and recycling every week because we don't want to pay people to do it, that might get a lot of people's gander up. But if you tie it to global warming, then anyone that complains obviously doesn't care about the environment and so on and so forth. Sort of like stuffing spinach farmer relief and other pork into defense authorization bills. If you veto that, well then you must hate our military.

The justification for the 2 week pickup was that most waste is food, food is carbon but "encouraging" people to not throw out as much food since having it piling up is a bad thing, then you're lowering carbon and saving the earth. This all fails basic logic when you start thinking about things like, well, the carbon from your grapes that you didn't eat would still be carbon some place else, in your rubbish bin or someone else's. Basically the only thing you've done is move it around like a bad shell game. Not only that, but there are people who seriously need to have their trash picked up, like families with kids (imagine two weeks of dirty diapers). This doesn't even begin to cover things like rats and other vermin that will more than likely thrive under such a regime, etc.

Recently, there was a new tax on flying here in the UK. It was brought in to help curb the effects of global warming or some such nonsense with respect to flying. Are the proceeds of the tax going to make the airlines more efficient? No. Are the proceeds going to making airports more efficient, either by adding new systems that would mean less taxi-ing or more direct routes to destination airports, expanding airports so that flights don't endlessly circle when there is bad weather, limiting flights so that their aren't more scheduled than safely take off or land at a particular time, etc? That'd also be a big fat no. Basically, they've just added a tax to discourage the average Joe person to not fly. But a 40 pound tax isn't going stop Joe Holiday Maker from putting off his vacation plans. A 400 pound tax on the other hand, would. But you don't see people screaming for that, do you. Why not? Because people really wouldn't fly. This is less about global warming and more about putting money into the hands of the government and then painting anyone against it as someone who hates the earth.

Anyway, I just with people would think a bit more critically about this kind of stuff. I'm not against paying taxes or anything of that nature (goodness knows I was for the monorail and I owned a car in the city) I just want the revenues for such things to basically go for the justification that was given for levying it. I mean, wouldn't it be great if the lottery revenue (I'm not sure about WA but the lottery was sold in NY for this purpose) actually went to schools? Or tolls from roads actually going to fixing the road? How about global warming taxes that actually went to reducing carbon emissions? Or encouraging people to use less of it or buy more efficient cars, lightbulbs, appliances, etc? Placing windwarms off shore or using wave energy?

Been around the world and I'm cynical. Its good to see that some things don't change. Though I do have to say that the outlook on life certainly did.

Now I wonder what those boys are doing with that new fangled Globe Theatre thing...