Patterico's Pontifications

1/7/2008

Bureaucrats Controlling Your Thermostats: The Possibility Is Real

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:29 pm

There is an imbalance between supply and demand in energy, and some California bureaucrats are standing around wondering what to do about it.

One says: “Run commercials asking people to conserve!” This is met with general approval.

Another says: “Make homeowners install thermostats that we bureaucrats can remotely control!” More general approval.

A third says: “Raise . . . prices?”

A roomful of angry people turns on him. “Raise prices — as a way of balancing supply and demand?!?!?! What an idiot!”

That’s California in a nutshell.

It appears that proposal number two — letting bureaucrats control homeowners’ thermostats — is indeed a potential reality. Earlier today I linked an article in the American Thinker written by Joseph Somsel warning of this possibility. Our friend Bradley J. Fikes saw my post, and spent the day checking out Somsel’s allegations and writing a Big Media piece on it. Bradley’s piece begins:

California utilities would control the temperature of new homes and commercial buildings in emergencies with a radio-controlled thermostat, under a proposed state update to building energy efficiency standards.

Customers could not override the thermostats during “emergency events,” according to the proposal, part of a 236-page revision to building standards. The document is scheduled to be considered by the California Energy Commission, a state agency, on Jan. 30.

The description does not provide any exception for health or safety concerns. It also does not define what are “emergency events.”

Sweet. Big Media is good for focusing attention on outrages like this. Once people get the idea that California bureaucrats really want to control our thermostats, it will very possibly be all over talk radio. If I’m right about that, the plan will die a quick death from there.

Congratulations to Joseph and Bradley on their excellent work. I hope it bears fruit.

I get in enough fights with my wife over the thermostat. I don’t need to fight with bureaucrats too.

Is California About to Seize Control of Homeowners’ Thermostats?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:51 am

Joseph Somsel at the American Thinker claims that proposed California regulations will allow bureaucrats to control the temperatures in our homes.

I tried reading the regulations themselves, but my eyes glazed over. So I can’t confirm that Joseph’s analysis is right.

But if it is, it’s time to howl and scream. Joseph says we have until the end of the month to put a stop to this.

You know, there’s a way to deal with shortages. It’s called the free market. If demand skyrockets, so should prices. Higher prices have this magical ability to increase supply relative to demand. That’s the way to conserve energy and avoid blackouts. California should try it sometime. (No, we didn’t try it before; we did half-assed deregulation, which is not the same thing. I explained this back in 2004, here.)

Why don’t we try a free-market solution before we give some Temperature Czar the power to keep our houses warm in summer and cold in winter?

UPDATE: More here.

L.A. Press Archives – Part 3 [The Illegal Immigration Debate – Reloaded]

Filed under: Immigration,Miscellaneous — Justin Levine @ 12:48 am

[posted by Justin Levine] 

What follows is a jaw-dropping bit of journalistic déjà vu taken from the Los Angeles Examiner, Section 1A,  July 24, 1951. (No, that is not a typo – July 24, Nineteen-Hundred and Fifty-One.)

* Please note that all of the language here is reprinted exactly from the original newspaper text, despite the fact that the use of certain terms would certainly be questionable in today’s culture (to say the least). Keep in mind that the term was generally not considered offensive at the time this article was first published.

[begin article]

Wetbacks

Endless Tide Crashes Border – – Problem to Two Nations

Mexicans Lured by High Wages

By Jack Massard

Vincente Estrada-Leon would probably be surprised to learn the trouble he and thousands of Mexican wetbacks like him are causing the two governments.

The efforts of the Mexican and American officials to keep him in his native Mexico must seem to him, if he ever thinks of such things, a contradiction of all economic sense.

All Vincente ever wanted to do was work and earn his daily bread and perhaps put a few pesos aside for his family, and, certainly, the ranchers of the Imperial and Coachella Valleys welcome his labor.

The Mexican and American Governments now are negotiating a new international labor contract that will (more…)

Is It Unconstitutional to Execute Someone for Raping a Child?

Filed under: Crime — Patterico @ 12:29 am

Is it unconstitutional to execute someone for raping a child? The Supreme Court has agreed to decide that issue.

I’m not sure it’s the wisest idea. I’ve seen firsthand cases where draconian laws have caused criminals to kill people, where they would not have otherwise. If you know that you face death for raping a child, what’s the incentive to leave the child alive?

Whether it’s unconstitutional is another question. Feel free to weigh in.

Helen Thomas: Vindicated Again!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:24 am

Helen Thomas has been proved right — yet again!

Recall (how could you forget?) how she said that bloggers don’t have the standards and ethics of Big Media types like her.

Exhibit A: Dafydd at Big Lizards admits he got a post completely, 100% wrong:

It doesn’t often happen that Big Lizards is completely, utterly wrong in a post; but I’m pretty sure this is one of those rare times…

Well, there you go. Helen has been vindicated.

And I mean that most sincerely. But read on to see exactly what I mean by that.

Because — whoops! It appears Dafydd got it wrong because he foolishly trusted the accuracy of Big Media — namely, the Washington Post, which wrote a story that said:

[I]n an unusual case in which an Arizona recipient of an RIAA letter has fought back in court rather than write a check to avoid hefty legal fees, the industry is taking its argument against music sharing one step further: In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer.

Jeez Louise! The RIAA says all that music I ripped for my iPod is illegally copied?

If you read the Washington Post story, you’ll think: it sure seems that way. The story goes on to drive home the point that RIAA is saying even a personal copy on your own computer is a violation:

The industry’s lawyer in the case, Ira Schwartz, argues in a brief filed earlier this month that the MP3 files Howell made on his computer from legally bought CDs are “unauthorized copies” of copyrighted recordings.

“I couldn’t believe it when I read that,” says Ray Beckerman, a New York lawyer who represents six clients who have been sued by the RIAA. “The basic principle in the law is that you have to distribute actual physical copies to be guilty of violating copyright. But recently, the industry has been going around saying that even a personal copy on your computer is a violation.”

RIAA’s hard-line position seems clear. Its Web site says: “If you make unauthorized copies of copyrighted music recordings, you’re stealing. You’re breaking the law and you could be held legally liable for thousands of dollars in damages.”

Dafydd, believing this was accurate because it appeared in one of the most elite of all Big Media publications, wrote a post about how stupid the RIAA strategy was. He wrote the above-linked post, titled Use an Ipod, Go to Jail, noting that the RIAA’s strategy was counterproductive and would alienate the public, which would certainly respond by simply downloading more music illegally without ever paying for it. In other words, Dafydd, argued, people will say: if the industry is going after you even when you pay, why should you pay?

Except that the RIAA wasn’t arguing that simply copying files to your computer was illegal. (It appears they might believe that, but aren’t stupid enough to press the issue in court.) They argued that copying your files to a folder that you made available to other users on a peer-to-peer network like Kazaa would be illegal.

How did Dafydd learn that? From a blogger, LaShawn Barber, who bothered to find and read the legal brief from the case that the Washington Post reporter was writing about.

Oh — and when LaShawn asked the WaPo reporter whether he had read the brief . . . he wouldn’t answer.

Heh.

So, like I said, Helen Thomas has been proved right, yet again.

After all, remember what she said: “[T]hey certainly don’t have our standards. They don’t have our ethics . . .”

Nope. Here, bloggers’ standards were higher.

And I’m not just talking about LaShawn Barber, who did the work the WaPo reporter didn’t bother to do. I’m talking about Dafydd’s ethics, too.

Because, you see, when he saw he got it wrong, he admitted it — forthrightly, at the head of his post.

And the WaPo article? I don’t see a correction or clarification appended to that at all. (And, from LaShawn’s conversation with the guy, it seems clear there won’t be one.)

Go Helen!

Lethal Injection Case Heard Today

Filed under: Constitutional Law,Crime,General — Patterico @ 12:03 am

The Supreme Court today hears arguments on whether lethal injection as practiced in Kentucky is constitutional, or cruel and unusual punishment. Basic background is here; a much more detailed debate is here. Although the Court is considering only the cocktail combination used by Kentucky, it’s the same combination used by the vast majority of states. If the Court declares it unconstitutional, the decision will not legally mean an end to the death penalty, but rather that the states will have to develop a different protocol.

The current protocol used in Kentucky (and 37 of 39 states with the death penalty) is the product of historical accident — the result of a procedure developed by an Oklahoma medical examiner without any particular expertise in the area. Most states simply piggybacked on his procedure, meaning that most states use a procedure that provides far more risk of pain than the procedure used to put animals to death.

There are several ironies at work here.

One is that, if death penalty opponents are right, the procedure they pushed as a painless alternative to other forms of execution may well have resulted in far more painful executions for several hundred inmates.

Another is that, thanks to the bizarre Eighth Amendment jurisprudence that the Supreme Court has developed, Kentucky’s lethal injection procedure is less likely to be declared unconstitutional precisely because states have blindly copied the Oklahoma procedure, and stubbornly stuck with it in the face of countless attacks by abolitionists. You see, if states had started to move away from the cocktail combination used in Kentucky, the justices would be able to point to this movement as evidence of “evolving standards” in the various states. (And the cases of the past few years clearly show that it doesn’t take much movement to convince the liberal members of the Court that standards are “evolving” — as long as the Justices like the direction of the evolution.) But the pigheaded refusal of states to fix their procedures — even though it would seemingly be fairly easy and would minimize the potential for pain — deprives the Justices of this argument. I look forward to reading the oral argument transcript to see whether this irony is explored by the Justices and the lawyers.

The bottom line here is that, even if the method used causes pain, I don’t think it rises to the level of cruel and unusual punishment. But my opinion doesn’t really matter; I guess, as with so many other issues, the only person’s opinion that does matter is that of Justice Kennedy.

If I have time, I’ll revisit this tonight or tomorrow, after the transcript becomes available.


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