The Poormanov Files

Monday, January 28, 2013

New York Dating

Why is it so hard to meet people in New York City?

I would think that in a city like this where you walk everywhere you would be more likely to meet people.  The links contained here can be very helpful in meeting people whether you're in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, or Long Island.  If you're in a relationship or single in New York City you should be able to find a date for casual romance or something more serious and long term.

What do you think?  Why is it difficult to meet people in NYC and what could make it easier?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Turn Waste into Energy

Looking through any issue of science, technology, or business magazine or just searching news articles online will yield many stories about how the businesses that first embraced using low waste and more energy efficient business practices are realizing greater savings in money than they expected. This leads you to believe that if cutting energy saves so much money, making energy from garbage would provide just as much savings in money. Actually this is what many of the largest, most successful garbage collection agencies have already started.

A landfill is sealed to prevent any contamination. The decomposing garbage produces methane, because it is sealed away from the air, which must be vented. This methane is what makes the landfill stink as well as pollute the air. For this reason some landfills even go so far as to flare the methane, which is just burning it off.

Waste Management and Allied Waste Industries (two of the leading publicly traded municipal waste management companies) are burning this methane to power a generators. While it is debated whether it is actually 'renewable' or not and about the value of recycling instead, the point is that we already made this garbage, it has to be disposed of somewhere, and it will break down into methane regardless of anything we do.

The obvious way to maximize our gain from this situation is to use the gas to generate electricity. A larger supply of electricity will prevent energy prices from rising, so it makes sense for the individual. (Yes, I know the amount of electricity generated is negligible compared to a coal fired power plant, but this is essentially free energy, that is already being delivered to a centralized location and if all landfills across the world harvested energy this way it would make a large impact).

If you are at all serious about getting your local government to make a difference when it comes to our energy supply, contact your local government. The costs are reasonable for municipalities when they take advantage of federal and state incentives. This is something that can make an immediate impact on your community as well as being a piece of the big picture, (because let's face it, there's not much any one of us can do on the national scale besides voting for politicians who rarely do what we actually want them to do).

Please make your voice heard. More information found here

Friday, April 25, 2008

Texas and the Ethanol Dilemma

According to this article from Reuters Texas is seeking for a cutback in the amount of ethanol mandated to be produced. The purpose is to ease food prices. The problem is that the ethanol mandate is designed to push the U.S. past food derived ethanol. Cutting the amount of ethanol in mandated as suggested by the Governor of Texas would have worse effects than leaving it in place. The purpose of the mandate is to force the technology for cellulosic ethanol to be developed. It would not be cost effective to produce 7.5 billion gallons by 2012 out of corn. Do so would increase the demand for corn to unheard of levels and raise the price of corn so high it would not be worth it to make fuel.

So, the mandate should force cellulosic ethanol to replace corn-based ethanol in the long term. In the short term though it seems food prices will just keep climbing and put the pinch on lower income households. One thought that I guess did not occur to Gov. Perry is that Texas is one of the few states that can produce sugar beets year round. On top of that ethanol from sugar beets is cheaper to produce than from corn. In conclusion it appears to me that instead of attacking the ethanol mandate Texas should be using it to create jobs in sugar beet processing. This will take some of the pressure off of corn (not a complete solution to the food crisis as farmland is still being used to produce fuel) by providing alternative methods of ethanol production. So in the near-term corn prices should at least increase slower while the mandate already in place will encourage cellulosic ethanol processes in the longer term. What do you think?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Iraq Hearings: To Withdraw or Not to Withdraw

Well, General Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker gave an update on Iraq today (More information can be found here). This article (different from the first one) offers some interesting insight about the situation. It seems an important perspective on the issue that is often overlooked is that of the Iraqi citizens who whether we like it or not are more deeply affected by this war than any other group involved in it. In a you broke it you bought it situation like Iraq I believe we should take into account how they feel. I regret to say that the democratic candidates have missed this point.

Anyways, according to the article it seems like many Iraqis, especially Iraqi soldiers, would prefer if we would stay in Iraq. I have to say I agree with them even though I disagree with many of Bush's policies in general, and specifically I disagree with America invading Iraq in the first place.

I refuse to make my mind up about any candidate before the general election gets closer (and I encourage all of you to do the same) because it doesn't make sense to me to decide anything before all the facts have been weighed in, but right now I am leaning towards Mccain. This is because of his stance on health care (but thats a topic for another post) and Iraq. Yes I know it is a complicated, drawn out war, which has essentially been a "waste" of time and money for America as well as a huge distraction from more important issues, the important thing is that now that we've caused these problems we fix them.

History can teach us some lessons; take a look at Europe after World War II, we conquered and then left without rebuilding or ensuring any sustainable peace in the region. What happened? A regime even more terrible than the one we ousted rose to power. While something that dramatic hopefully wouldn't happen if we withdrew from Iraq, I would like to know that we took responsibility for our actions and left a positive mark in the Middle East instead of so many negative ones.

Tell me what you think about it. Should we withdraw, should we remain, or is there some other option I did not think of?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Battle of Baghdad

According to news reports here, here, here, and here, an uprising has begun (once again) in Iraq. If you are too lazy to read the articles, the short story is that Al-Maliki has ordered Al-Sadr's Mahdi Army to surrender all weapons. The militia refused and so fighting has broken out. The U.S. is supporting Iraqi security forces in Baghdad, while the British support them in Basra (where the conflict has spread to).

One thing that is interesting is that Al-Sadr's side claims that this is an attempt by Maliki to destroy his party before the elections. My view is (and tell me if you disagree because it is an American view) that Sadr is missing the point that his militia is essentially a private army in the heart of the capital. What would an American think if (insert any politician's name) had a private army outside of Washington D.C. to help support his/her power in the Government. Chances are it would make you a little uneasy. Besides the obvious conflicts of interest involved in having two armed groups in the country following rival political leaders, it is extremely counterproductive for both sides.

Sadr is destroying his own party before the elections. It is not unreasonable for a government to disarm gangs and militias while trying to take over security operations. By refusing to lay down arms and promote peace in the war-torn city his bloc is committing political suicide because they will likely be imprisoned, killed, or lose backing. Had they laid down their weapons and promoted peace, or at least pretending to, they could have much more clout to use at the elections.

What do you think about this?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Rock and a Hard Place

The U.S. is in a tight spot these days when it comes to energy. Aside from the uncertainty over carbon limits, the economic outlook is weakening. The Federal Reserve is trying to stimulate growth but keep inflation down. Fuel price spikes are racking up costs along supply chains and biofuels intended to increase fuel supplies are raising food prices.

According to this biofuels have kept gasoline prices 15% lower than if there were no biofuels. If it is true, this proves that biofuels can make a noticeable dent in gas prices. The only problem is that food prices (particularly corn, soybeans, and wheat) are inflating from the limited amount of land for farming.

The obvious move the federal government should make is to eliminate the tariff on imported biofuels, especially ethanol from Brazil. This would alleviate prices of food and fuel for Americans in the short term while the federal mandate issued for cellulosic biofuels creates the new technology. The drawback is that importing more biofuels does nothing for energy security, but that is not entirely true. A larger fuel supply provides more buffer for rising prices. Brazil may be seen a more stable economy and a more attractive investment location compared to some middle eastern or African oil economies.

The odds are not good that Bush will approve eliminating the tariff, so it may be a long shot. What do you think?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Natural Economy

Every economy on Earth is facing large problems. The slow down in the USA, tackling environmental policy in Europe, controlling the effects of growth in China, and providing basic services in Africa are all examples of the looming problems. The fact that policymakers are missing is that the economy is a system, and like any other system it's made of entities, subsystems, and processes. These Comparing it to another system such as the life system on Earth:




Individuals, companies



Geographic, Online






Trade, Employment


Governing Laws

Regulations, Policy

Laws of Physics

The similarities are intriguing. Every participant is acting in their own interest which causes new entities to fill niches (Such as lichens in nature. The long tail in ecnomics). These innovators help to expand the system (certain plants grow faster in recently burned forests. The tech industry provides jobs to many recently impoverished populations). Resources flow throughout the system (Energy and water in nature. Money moves through trade and investment in the economy). Some act as buffers (Trees to absorb CO2. Banks for lending.) while others inadvertently work together (The tiny fish that clean sharks' teeth. The joint ventures between multinational corporations).

This leaves questions unanswered though. Why hasn't the success of industrial nations spread to the destitute parts of Africa? Why can't even well developed economies be sustained without government management the way the earth sustains life without having to alter the natural laws? I believe the answers are in the laws: the laws crafted always have unintended consequences (sort of like how every drug has side effects). These mismanaged regulations act like an economic pollution, disrupting the entire system.

Milton Friedman proved to most of the world that the less regulation and government intervention in economic affairs is better for the economy. I think it caught on so well because laws intended to solve one problem usually creates other problems. The regulation we humans make are not 'natural' or universal like laws of nature. As an example, gravity has an effect in all situations, from the planets circling or limiting flight to certain creatures on earth. The difference is the effect of the law of gravity always serves the purpose of maintaining equilibrium. Tax laws provide loopholes, energy subsidies that keep rates low discourage more expensive renewable energy, i.e., the laws we create are imperfect. This is likely because most laws crafted are reactive instead of proactive. (This is inherent in democracy because it requires consensus.)

The idea is that as a society we should work towards making our economy more 'natural' in this sense. It will provide more stability and equality for all. The process will not be easy, like science it must constantly be reexamined with increasing understanding. This will be hard to reach consensus on as the system is so complex. I think the best idea would be to start with tenants we can agree on such as achieving energy security or easing the forces that keep more people from investing in retirement rather than relying solely on pensions. It will take time and there will be mistakes, the central bank had to learn how to work as well as they do now (it's been seventy something years since we've had a worldwide depression). It may be a pipe dream but you've gotta have some hope.

What are your thoughts o n the matter?