Monday, October 23, 2006

Monday Round Up...

Just a couple quick stories and a challenge today...

First, congratulations go out to Howard County, which today earned the distinction of having the (subjectively) worst intersection in the Baltimore area. Winning yet another award for us was the Route 32 East to I-95 North ramp, a left-lane to left-lane doozie (it's funny that there's no mention of the Rt 32 West to I-95 South ramp, which has almost the same design but a different gradient).

Having spent much of my life in the King's Contrivance area, I have a special place in my heart for this interchange. It's really not that bad, as long as you stomp the gas pedal to the floor when going up the hill.


Since posting about this story always seems to drive up the hit count, here's a new installment about Howard's Madame Female Companion in Residence, Brandy Britton. Is it just me, or is the reporter -- former Flier scribe Luke Broadwater -- a little too involved with the story? Not in a money-changing-hands way, but in a Hunter Thompson, writer-centric way.

Maybe it's just me.

Regardless, the story has more than you probably ever wanted to know about Dr. Britton, including her measurements, contents of a text message, and what she's wearing -- "black knee-length high-heeled boots and a short black skirt" -- during the interview.

A related story raises the question of whether it's "worth" expending limited police resources to chase down practitioners (and customers) of the world's oldest profession.

Taken together, these two stories paint an interesting portrait of the Examiner's ideology. One favorably personalizes Britton and the other seems mildly in favor of relaxing vice enforcement. Perhaps something similar to the Association of Libertarian Feminists (ALF, a real organization!). Britton, it should be noted, is a former women's studies professor at The Best University in Baltimore County, UMBC.


Finally, a challenge.

Shortly after An Inconvenient Truth came out, a popular listserve in this county was full of questions about how we can make individual changes in our lives to reduce carbon emissions. There seemed to be a lot of energy and interest in this topic, which is an encouraging sign.

Sustainability starts with individuals and the ability to change our actions. We can hope and work for change on a larger scale, but ultimately, we can only change what we control -- our own tiny slice of the world. I don't mean to discount the efforts of those who advocate for big changes, but a better way of accomplishing these ends, in my opinion, is by starting at the lowest level and working our way up from there. A million micro changes are just as effective -- an infinitely easier to accomplish -- than a single macro change. Which is why I was heartened to see such interest on the listserve.

Anyway, recognizing the power of aggregated individual actions, the on-line magazine Slate is soliciting readers to participate in an eight-week carbon diet.

Americans are the climate's worst enemy. On average, each of us is responsible for about 22 tons of carbon-dioxide emissions every year, according to the United Nations, compared with an average of six tons per person throughout the rest of the world. That means the typical U.S citizen emits the equivalent of four cars.

Much of the discussion around climate change involves national and international policy—should the United States sign the Kyoto Treaty or increase auto efficiency standards? But even without major political or legislative changes, there's a lot that concerned individuals can do to make the problem better. To that end, we've created the Slate Green Challenge—a straightforward program to evaluate and reduce your carbon emissions between now and the end of the year.

What they don't say but should is that individual actions, collectivised over a large segment of the population, make enacting and enforcing national and international policy much easier. But I digress.
For the next eight weeks, Slate, in collaboration with eco-Web site treehugger, invites you to consider your own individual contribution to global warming—and challenges you to go on a carbon diet. The goal is to reduce the amount of CO2 that you put into the atmosphere by 20 percent.
Here's where you sign up and take your initial quiz. Here's a link to the first segment, which talks about transportation.

Also, if you're interested, go check out the Earth Day Footprint Quiz, which analyzes your lifestyle with a serious of questions and spits out the number of acres required to support your existence. Perhaps its most striking feature is on the final page where it shows you how many Earths we would need if the world's population lived like you. Feel free to leave your footprint in the comments.

Me, I'm 13 acres and three planets.


B. Santos said...


First, I like the sight upgrades. Very nice!

As far as intersections go, the 32E/95N is quite troublesome; however, my daily commute home is a challenge going from 100W onto 29S and then onto 108W. Three lanes over in less than two miles in traffic can certainly bring on the "white knuckles." Luckily, I have the common sense that if I cannot get over, I continue south and exit onto LPP-West, other drivers seem to have this fatal view that they MUST 3-lane sweep and exit onto 108.

This relates to your carbon diet challenge. Here in Howard County, we certainly can show the most change in the region, because our carbon footprint is HUGE. For a community that aspires to care about the environment so much, we do have the highest per capita car ownership in the region. We also have the longest commute, have the highest per capita vehicle miles travelled, and have the highest percentage of people who commute alone. So I concur that most should sign up. Personally, I think I have made it already. A friend of mine needed to borrow my pickup truck and parked his Prius in my garage. As long as he can stay away for the next eight weeks, I'm in there.

Seriously, Howard County loves cars. Let's see if we can all make a difference.

Anonymous said...

I thought Luke Broadwater did a brilliant job writing the article on BB.

mary smith said...

Sadly, I know one of Brandy's children. We have friends in common. The way Broadwater describes her is the same way others describe her.

I am so sorry for her struggle. Even sorrier that she doesn't seem to learn from her failings. She is someone's daughter, and I'm quite sure it breaks the heart of her family each time she fails to connect with reality.

It would absolutely kill me if she were my family member. Not because of the alleged prostitution, which is much more honest that what I'm seeing in the county exec race, and I'm not talking about Ulman or Wallis (abstract enough?). What would throw me into a grief-induced coma if she were my sister would be the disconnect with the world around her. Incredibly heartbreaking.

mary smith said...

fyi, the great new 'recent comments' addition is not updating.

Anonymous said...

One of the easiest ways to make a huge carbon footprint reduction is to carpool. And, that way, half (or more) of the time, you get to be chauffeured to work. Saves $, too.

Anonymous said...

mary smith, you make some hideous analogies all over these blogs...comparing prostitution to chris merdon's campaign and that whole bin laden crapola...get a grip lady...are you moving out of howard county if merdon wins?...hope so, bye bye..

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Mary take any comments lacking any substantive argument from the anonignorati for what they're worth. In other words, don't expect Mary to be pulling up deep roots any time soon...


mary smith said...

Oh goodness. Look what's happened while I was away.

David's gargoyle invaded the dukedom. And a wise and brave knight has defended free speech.

Knights: 1
Gargoyles: 0

mary smith said...


I'm waiting. When do you plan to take me out of moderation mode or post the innocuous comments? My comments are among the most harmless on the hocomd blog.

Do I have to post them here?