Hard News by Russell Brown



Well, I bought my iPhone. 16GB, black, on the lightest of the 24-month plans. The sales process is reasonably impressive. At the Digital Mobile kiosk at St Lukes mall (there was a queue at the actual Vodafone Store), a sales assistant looked up my existing account, switched it to an iPhone plan, took my money, unbricked my phone, transferred my SIM and sent me on my way.

Actually, it took a little bit longer than that, but I wouldn't have wanted it to be too quick: I was quite enjoying the scene.

The new iTunes App Store is as slick as you'd expect -- selecting, downloading and installing applications is a breeze. The same can't be said for all the apps themselves -- the remote control app for iTunes was a mystery -- and I couldn't connect to my Gmail account. But it's all a fairly bright, shiny consumer experience whose details will doubtless become clearer over the weekend.

Meanwhile, Nat Torkington wanted to share after watching this week's Media7 (ondemand here, via YouTube here):

I nearly ran an energy conference and did I ton of reading and learning for it. Loved the Dog and Lemon Guide guy. His final comment was fucking brilliant, and I think he was closest to my opinion on the whole subject.

Offsets are easy to explain: you shit and it goes into your septic tank, but your backyard can't take it all the years of your turds. So you pay someone to truck your turds away and empty out the tank. You burn fuel (releasing greenhouse gases) or make things that rot (releasing greenhouse gases) or have some other chemical process that releases greenhouse gases like CO2. The Earth can't take it all so you pay someone to take your carbon away and empty out the atmosphere. The only way to do this that we've got at the moment is to plant trees. (If someone develops a "sequestration" system, aka burying the carbon back in the earth and thus out of the atmosphere, it'll qualify as an offset too)

Polluting = shitting. Atmosphere = your back yard septic tank. Offset = paying someone to truck it away.

Trading is also easy. It's like fish. Fish quota is really a license to catch a percentage of the fish in the water---if the Minister finds more fish or less fish in the ocean, your quota goes up or down. If you take a break from fishing, you can lease your fish quota to other fishermen. Companies can emit a certain amount of CO2, and as the government's obligations under treaties force the country to let out less total CO2 emission, each company gets its quota dialled back. But some companies will be supergreen and emit less than their quota permits them to. They get to sell their surplus polluting capacity to other companies in NZ, or overseas.

What offsets don't cover is the fact that trees rot. Releasing greenhouse gases. So they're a temporary measure. At best we should be replanting old growth forests, intending them to be around "forever". If we try to build offsets out of pine trees, we're just pushing the snooze button on our CO2. The sequestration is the hallelujah option--turn the crap in the atmosphere back into crap in the ground. But nobody's there yet.

Clean energy is all about not shitting in the atmosphere in the first place. If you didn't release CO2, you don't need to offset or sequester it. That's hard though, because the fuel we're addicted to is really convenient--oil is a beautiful storage system for energy. Wind power and solar produce electricity, which doesn't lend itself to such convenient storage--batteries are quite inefficient, even in their flash new forms. I'm not sure what that in the septic tank analogy: fuel = slow release porridge for energy, batteries = cheap carbohydrates like McD's, that give you shits. Hmm, maybe not.

I think my metaphors just exploded.

Meanwhile, Stephen Judd notes that the National Library is on Flickr. Indeed it is. And if you look at the Flickr photostream with the PicLens add-on for Firefox (or pre 3.1 versions of Safari on the Mac) installed, it's even cooler.

Also, here are the Flaming Lips practising a forthcoming tribute to The Who on VH1. 'See Me, Feel Me', 'Pinball Wizard', etc.

All right. Best do some actual work. Feel free to amuse and edify each other in comments …

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