Coffee costs businesses $2.25 billion annually.

Ok, I totally made that statistic up.

According to the BBC:

Staff who use Twitter and other social networking sites while at work are costing UK businesses £1.38bn (about $2.25 bn) every year, a report has said.

Every new technology that comes along attracts an endless parade of analysts who use questionable math to determine these figures. I wonder how much productivity was lost when photocopiers were introduced to the workplace.

I’m willing to be that more people on average drink coffee during work hours, often several times per day, than use Twitter. Forget about social networking. Let’s kill the coffee drinking productivity killer.

Tip of the had to textually.org.

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Save the planet. Rent a goat.

Boing Boing notes that an innovative company in Seattle rents out goats as an alternative to machines or herbicides:

[R]ather than spending tons of money and time on diesel-powered machines, filing the proper permits, and administering dangerous herbicides, the Seattle-based Rent-a-Ruminant organization will loan your a team of 100 goats for all your brush-clearing needs–all at a very modest rates. As Serious Eats explains, the benefits of goats are numerous: they eat just about anything, they can work on uneven ground, you don’t need permits to use them, and they can clear a quarter-acre in about three days.

Unfortunately, given that methane production by animals is apparently worse than human carbon production (if you believe in any of that stuff), this isn’t that much more environmentally friendly than the alternatives. But it is way cooler to watch.

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We know better than you.

I’m often amazed by the number of people who think they have the right to tell others how they should live.

Local government has just decided to ban smoking in public housing. Even though smoking is perfectly legal, these tenants won’t be allowed to smoke in their own homes.

Now I suppose I can’t argue with the logic of trying to protect non-smokers in the same public housing units. But really, nobody else has any business jumping into this discussion. Yet a letter to the editor in today’s local paper shows just how some people think:

I strongly believe smoking should be banned in the multi-unit residential buildings owned by the region’s taxpayers. It really shouldn’t be too hard to enforce because you can smell the smoke that lingers behind the cigarette.

[...]

If smokers saved the money they spend on cigarettes monthly, they probably could get out of subsidized housing, own their own places and do as they please.

Last time I looked, this was still a free country and people were allowed to do what they wanted, even if we don’t necessarily agree with it. And I certainly wouldn’t appreciate someone who doesn’t even know me telling me what to do.

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Copenhagen isn’t about climate change at all.

The screaming over climate change is becoming louder and louder as we approach the Copenhagen climate change summit. And why not? We’ve been told that we have just four months to secure the future of our planet.

Yet nobody seems to be talking about the draft treaty – the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. But it seems that there may be something to be concerned about:

So far there have been more than a million hits on the YouTube post of his address. It deserves millions more because Lord Monckton warns that the aim of the Copenhagen draft treaty is to set up a transnational "government" on a scale the world has never before seen.

The "scheme for the new institutional arrangement under the Convention" that starts on page 18 contains the provision for a "government." The aim is to give a new as yet unnamed U.N. body the power to directly intervene in the financial, economic, tax and environmental affairs of all the nations that sign the Copenhagen treaty.

In fact, a glance at the draft treaty turns up numerous concerns, among them:

PP.14 Acknowledging that current atmospheric concentrations are principally the result of historical emissions of greenhouse gases, the most significant share of which has originated in developed countries.

PP.15 Further acknowledging that developed countries have a historical responsibility for their disproportionate contribution to the causes and consequences of climate change, reflecting their disproportionate historical use of a shared global carbon space since 1850 as well as their proposed continuing disproportionate use of the remaining global carbon space.

So developed countries (i.e. US) get to pay for their disproportionate historical use of a shared global carbon space since 1850 onward.

How about this clause on page 10:

[Developing country Parties] lacking sufficient capacity to respond to the challenges of climate change require access [to opportunities to obtain this capacity] [to resources] in a timely [sustained and cooperative] manner.]] [Measurable, reportable and verifiable financing, technology transfer and compensation must be provided by developed countries to address the full costs of adaptation in developing countries, supported by appropriate institutional arrangements under the Conference of the Parties.] It is also particularly important to provide adequate, predictable, stable, sufficient and timely funding for adaptation purposes particularly by developed countries. Developed country Parties shall support these developing countries in meeting the costs of adaptation.

Developed countries MUST PAY the full costs of adaptation to climate change in developing countries. Not the cost of minimizing climate; the cost of adaptation to it, whatever that means.

And my favorite on page 122:

[[Developed [and developing] countries] [Developed and developing country Parties] [All Parties] [shall] [should]:]

(a) Compensate for damage to the LDCs’ economy and also compensate for lost opportunities, resources, lives, land and dignity, as many will become environmental refugees;

(b) Africa, in the context of environmental justice, should be equitably compensated for environmental, social and economic losses arising from the implementation of response measures.

How much does it cost to compensate for lost dignity? I’m sure the UN has an amount in mind.

It is perhaps somewhat telling that a search shows that the document contains only 17 occurrences of the word "temperature", and 112 occurrences of the word "finance".

The word "government" is mentioned only 9 times, which is odd, considering that the agreement is really all about setting up a new multinational government to implement the Convention, starting on page 18:

38. The scheme for the new institutional arrangement under the Convention will be based on three basic pillars: government; facilitative mechanism; and financial mechanism, and the basic organization of which will include the following:

(a) The government will be ruled by the COP with the support of a new subsidiary body onadaptation, and of an Executive Board responsible for the management of the new funds and the related facilitative processes and bodies. The current Convention secretariat will operate as such, as appropriate.

(b) The Convention’s financial mechanism will include a multilateral climate change fund including five windows: (a) an Adaptation window, (b) a Compensation window, to address loss and damage from climate change impacts, including insurance, rehabilitation and compensatory components, (c) a Technology window; (d) a Mitigation window; and (e) a REDD window, to support a multi-phases process for positive forest incentives relating to REDD actions.

(c) The Convention’s facilitative mechanism will include: (a) work programmes for adaptation and mitigation; (b) a long-term REDD process; (c) a short-term technology action plan; (d) an expert group on adaptation established by the subsidiary body on adaptation, and expert groups on mitigation, technologies and on monitoring, reporting and verification; and (e) an international registry for the monitoring, reporting and verification of compliance of emission reduction commitments, and the transfer of technical and financial resources from developed countries to developing countries. The secretariat will provide technical and administrative support, including a new centre for information exchange.

In case it wasn’t clear, I’ve highlighted the relevant parts for you. The Convention is all about new funds for the UN and their new multinational government, compensation for climate change "loss", and transfer of technology and wealth from developed countries to developing countries.

And nary a mention of reducing the global temperature at all.

Take a few minutes and read the document that your government is about to agree to.

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Stop the TV tax.

I’ve been so inundated by ads telling me that Local TV Matters, or to Stop The TV Tax, that I finally hit my limit and had to say something.

Canadian networks, like CTV and Global, aren’t making as much money as they used to because – surprise! – their business model is collapsing. In their own words:

Although support from our viewers is strong, local television has been struggling financially for more than a decade, and now we have reached a critical point. Advertising revenues for local stations have decreased and the traditional model of free local television is unsustainable.

Their answer? Somebody else has to give them money. But they are very clear that this isn’t a bailout. They just want someone else to provide them a new revenue stream that they can’t generate themselves. Hmmm, that sure sounds like a bailout.They want cable subscribers to pay them for a product that would be free over the air, just because their model is now broken.

Actually, it sounds a lot like a tax. Cable companies should be forced to pay a portion of all of that money that they make to support local TV. Because local TV matters. Actually in their Facts section they never do get around to explaining why local TV matters. If they think that it is because I might want to watch shows like Flashpoint, Being Erica, Hockey Night in Canada, Entertainment Tonight Canada, Project Runway Canada, Dumont 360 and The Gemini Awards, then they are sorely mistaken.

They like to play a little fast and loose with the truth too:

As it now stands, local television stations give their product to cable and satellite companies for free (we are not allowed to charge them). They, in turn, charge their customers for our service, but pass on nothing to the local broadcasters. This despite the fact that the vast majority of our competitors do get paid by cable and satellite companies for their signal (called ’subscriber fees’).

Yes indeed, specialty channels that were created with subscriber fee models do indeed get subscriber fees.Broadcast television on the other hand was created with an advertising-paid model, thus the 7 minutes of commercial time per half hour show. Cable companies bill to cover two things: the cost of the wired network that delivers the programming to your home, and the subscriber fees for channels that use that model. They don’t charge me for local television service; they charge me to deliver bundles of channels in different tiers.

As a kid I lived a few miles from Buffalo, NY, and got all of my TV over the air.I’ve been a cable customer for over 30 years, primarily because where I’ve lived you simply couldn’t get that many channels over the air. I get the local channels, but the only reason I watch them is because they show American television shows like Big Bang Theory or Grey’s Anatomy. And that is only because when an American show is simulcast on a Canadian network, the cable company switches to the Canadian network, often screwing up a few minutes of the show, and forcing me to watch the Canadian commercials.

Imagine years of being forced to watch the Super Bowl with recycled Canadian commercials rather than the incredible American ones. Happily when we lived in the US we got to watch the real thing.

I may not have always been a happy cable subscriber. The prices have increased substantially, but they do provide a pretty decent selection of programming. But as far as I the viewer am concerned, the local TV networks have been getting a free ride on the cable system. I the customer am forced, without recourse, to watch the Canadian version of any show and the attendant commercials. Those networks get a captive audience, and therefore more ad revenue as a result of more Canadian eyeballs watching a particular TV show. And they sure aren’t watching Being Erica.

If Canadian networks want to force me to pay a TV tax for their programs – and make no mistake, that’s exactly what it is – then I demand the right to eliminate those channels from my cable lineup. I also demand that where a program is simulcast, I am allowed to watch it on the channel I choose.

Here’s my solution: For $10 per month, cable companies can provide a Local TV channel package option for subscribers. Subscribers can then either accept or drop that package option. After all, we are the ones that pay the bill in the end.

If Canadian networks really believe that people think that local TV matters, then they should be happy to allow customers to vote with their wallets.

For some reason though, I really don’t think that they’re interested in giving you and me that kind of choice.

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