January 2011

I love to carpool. We live in Vermont–a rural state where people drive many miles; possibly the most per capita in the country—yet we only own one car. My colleagues graciously drive me to work even though they know that they are unlikely to ever get a ride from me (though I always offer gas money and pay for gas whenever we stop). I have organized the carpool schedule, and would prefer to own zero cars. Yet, according to this article, carpooling is now unpopular, and the carpooling rate is falling. Car ownership, and accompanying convenience, is too common, urban planning and sprawl requiring driving, and driving is relatively inexpensive.


One of the great parts about being a Fulbright Scholar in China was meeting the recipients of the Fulbright student fellowships.  These American graduate students were all fluent in Chinese and had extraordinary research projects planned.  One such student studied the Chinese tea industry, but also found himself doing some fascinating environmental/public health journalism.  Here’s his fascinating (but disgusting) article about the China’s sewer-oil problem.

From today’s NT Times:

The Pentagon says that only two schools — Vermont Law School in South Royalton, Vt., and William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul — have barred military recruiters.

But as soon as Mr. Obama and the military certify the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” Vermont and William Mitchell will allow recruiters on campus, spokesman for both said on Wednesday. It is not clear when that might happen, but Mr. Obama said in his speech that he expected it to occur “this year.”


Should I submit my article to this journal?… just for the fun of it.


See here. The Times article reads:

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on Thursday that he would authorize the unrestricted commercial cultivation of genetically modified alfalfa, setting aside a controversial compromise that had generated stiff opposition.

In making the decision, Mr. Vilsack pulled back from a novel proposal that would have restricted the growing of genetically engineered alfalfa to protect organic farmers from so-called biotech contamination. That proposal drew criticism at a recent Congressional hearing and in public forums where Mr. Vilsack outlined the option.

See here.

Sitting here watching the State of the Union, and some brief thoughts:

I was happy to hear the President’s many calls for improved high-speed rail.

I think the biggest shout-outs to the liberal base were expressing the tax cuts on millionaires should not be permanent, and highlighting the end of DADT (and Vermont Law School has not allowed military recruiters in light of DADT, and I think the President just asked us to change our policy).

What is going to happen to earmarks?

As someone who teaches Natural Resources Law, I enjoyed the salmon joke.  “We live and do business in the information age, but the last major reorganization of the government happened in the age of black and white TV. There are twelve different agencies that deal with exports. There are at least five different entities that deal with housing policy. Then there’s my favorite example: the Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them in when they’re in saltwater. And I hear it gets even more complicated once they’re smoked.”

Finally, despite many on both sides of the political aisle who think Obama is a big liberal, the President is not.  He was and is a pragmatic moderate Democratic.  And I actually think, as a result, this political environment (e.g., the Dems not controlling both houses) will actually work to his political advantage.

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