Thursday, January 30, 2014

@PhilHoganTD Charge by volume, not weight, if you want to encourage recycling

Maybe it's my jaundiced eye, but I can't help thinking that this is a "bad thing" in the mind of the journalist who wrote it, "Currently, private waste collectors can offer customers any price and any charging structure they choose."

Well, Olivia Kelly, I happen to think competition is a good thing. Ever since competition came into my neighborhood's refuse market, it has helped lower my waste bill significantly. Long may it last.

But what of the bigger issue? What of the government's desire to incentivize "better" behavior? That is, what of the government's view that we need to dump less and recycle more and, thus, need a pay-by-weight system?

I've said it before and I'll say it again: if the goal is to reduce the amount going to the landfills then charge by volume, not weight. The problem is that landfills are filling up, not that they're getting too heavy. So where's the logic in charging by weight?

If we are forced to pay by weight rather than volume – as we can now, paying so much per lift – I will recycle less, not more. A lot less. Why? Because most of my recycling is empty plastic containers. Those things don't weigh much and they're a pain to store because ... they take up a lot of room.

Can you see where this is going?

So if it isn't going to cost me a whole lot (more) to dump all that plastic I'm going to. Therefore, charging by weight will actually reduce the incentive I have now to recycle as much as I can.

Got that Phil Hogan?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

An "oleaginous" name change propsal in Limerick

I love this one sentence.

I know nothing about the move to rename a bridge in Limerick after JFK. I don't know the Shannon Bridge in Limerick or anything at all about it. All I like is a sentence from the Limerick Leader report on the proposal.

The motion to change the name has "the unanimous support of councillors," but has apparently "polarised public opinion."
Many callers and readers of the Limerick Leader, in writing letters to the editor, have expressed bemusement at the name change, which they fear will add to the taxpayer’s already depleted public purse.
Instead, some members of the public have called for the bridge to be named after Frank McCourt, Richard Harris, Willie O’Dea, or Des O’Malley.
Others called the JFK name change “lazy and oleaginous”.
You see that? "Others" said the name change was "lazy and oleaginous." Others, meaning more than one.  Oleaginous – what a wonderful word. I had seen it before, but I had to look it up. I love the idea that the people of Limerick have that word at their fingertips. I just kind of doubt it, but if I'm wrong I hope someone will let me know.

I absolutely love the idea that Limerick people are casually tossing out the word "oleaginous" to describe the proposal to change the name of the Shannon Bridge to the JFK bridge. If they are, you know what? They're right.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Dear Minister Quinn: digital does not = iPad

Clare Daly asked RuairĂ­ Quinn about a secondary school in Lusk, Co Dublin looking for parents to buy €700 "iPad systems" (her words, not mine) rather than the traditional books and his response is amazing in its (feigned?) ignorance:
 it’s about more than merely getting information. It is about getting used to the format in which much information will remain in situ for the rest of their lives, even though they will be highly engaged in digital learning as well. 
Now maybe something was omitted by the Irish Times, but what the heck is the Minister for Education talking about?

Of course information is digital and (maybe) there's some value in schoolchildren "getting used to the format in which much information will remain in situ for the rest of their lives." None of that means parents should have to buy an iPad for their child.

Someone needs to inform the Minister that there are many far cheaper options than iPads if the concern is that children need to learn get used to information in a digital format. It doesn't have to be an all-too-fun, all-too-expensive iPad. You can get a Kindle Fire for under €200. Tesco and others have tablets for even less.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Lidl is here to stay

Tesco, Dunnes & Superquinn are losing out to the "the lower price stores." In fact, five times as many people are shopping in the "discounters" than "before the recession."

'Will this trend continue?' Checkout magazine's editor asks.

My sense: Yes. Why? Because the savings are signficant and the products on offer at Aldi & (especially) Lidl are good. The German supermarkets are not 'Yellow pack' stores. They have limited product lines, but the jar of jam that costs €0.99 at Lidl is as good as one at Tesco or Dunnes for €2. Lidl's fresh bakery goods are far better than Tesco's or Superquinn's.

For me Lidl is not a "discounter," but simply has "even more better value" than Dunnes. Or Tesco.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Christie's problem: it's not the underhandedness. It's the nitwittedness.

Look I don't believe there are any angels in politics, especially American politics. That my side is as capable of turning to dirty tricks as the other side is a truism that too many people forget.

So I'm not all that bothered by this ploy to get at the Mayor of Fort Lee as I am worried by the stupidity.

First—the plan.

The Christie-ites devised a plot that they hoped would 'get' Fort Lee's mayor, but what they came up with was something that would inconvenience tens of thousands of people, voters of both parties. That's just so stupid. Did they really expect to get away with it?

Anyone who has lived or worked in or around Fort Lee understands how an incident on the George Washington Bridge can create havoc on the streets of Fort Lee. People get angry enough when the cause is legitimate – even fatal accidents get little sympathy – so this politically inspired fake traffic study to clog the roads of Fort Lee was bound to infuriate people even before they knew it was all political jiggery pokery and not real. Just so stupid.

Next—the communications.

The geniuses used e-mail and texts to communicate with one another about what they were going to do and then how it was working out. Everyone – everyone, right? – knows that you can't use these forms of communication if you want to leave no trail. Right? I mean every schoolchild is getting pounded with this message. Heck, it's the reason Snapchat exists.

So what were these people thinking? Did they really think no one would be annoyed enough to investigate what was going on with the abysmal traffic around the GWB?

Just so, so stupid.

That's the real measure of this scandal. Just how dumb are the people that Christie chooses to surround himself with?

I can't see him winning in 2016 if he doesn't know how to get the right people around him.