Amazon Frustration-Free Packaging

Amazon is now providing what they call “frustration-free” packaging for some of their products.

Amazon Frustration Free Packaging

Basically, these items are packaged at in ready-to-ship boxes, minus the retail packaging. Amazon can send the boxes without using extra packaging. It sounds like it saves everybody some money and helps reduce waste. Great call Amazon.

Design-wise, I’m really digging the way that Fisher-Price cardboard box looks in the picture. Nice and simple.

The Federal Budget: the Public’s Priorities

This past week I’ve been finishing up reading Noam Chomsky‘s latest book, Failed States. I have had to slog through most of the book because it generally tends to be an overwhelmingly depressing read. Such is the nature of reading between the lines of US foreign policy.

The part of the book that really interested me (and kept me reading) was the the last chapter on “Democracy Promotion at Home.” This is definitely the best section of the book. I have often in the past resigned myself to being a hopeless radical leftist; a person whose social and political ideals will probably never even come to fruition in the United States (or perhaps even into popular discourse). There was however one survey of US popular opinion cited by Chomsky that gave me hope. The survey was conducted by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) and titled The Federal Budget: the Public’s Priorities.

In the study, conducted in March 2005, people were asked an array of questions about how they would change the proposed budget allocation. There are several amazing conclusions can be drawn from the survey:

  1. There is a very broad agreement that the military budget should be cut (on average by 31%)
  2. There is a consensus that much more money should be allocated to social programs
  3. The actual budget is essentially the opposite of popular opinion.

The full report in PDF format is available on the website. Here are some illustrative charts culled from the report.

Overall winners and losers in the budget changes:
Pipa Federal Spending Survey Winners Losers

Changes in social spending:
Pipa Federal Spending Survey Social

Changes in environmental spending:
Pipa Federal Spending Survey env sp

That last one astounded me. Here are the surveys finding results on that point:

By far the largest increase in percentage terms was for conserving and developing renewable energy. This amount was increased $24 billion, from $2.2 billion to $26.2 billion, an extraordinary increase of 1090%. This was also the area increased by the largest majority.

Perhaps there is hope after all.

Translation from PR-Speak of ‘A Greener Apple’

Waffle has kindly translated Steve Job’s “A Greener Apple” from PR-Speak to English.

Selected sample:

Apple products met both the spirit and letter of the RoHS restrictions on cadmium, hexavalent chromium and brominated flame retardants years before RoHS went into effect.

Not all Apple products met the spirit or the letter of the RoHS restrictions until just before they went into effect. However, some did, and we’re going to milk that.

Via Daring Fireball.

Global Warming a National Security Threat

Recently US Senators Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., introduced a bill to create a National Intelligence Estimate on the national security implications of global warming. has the full story:

This is an interesting move to attempt to reframe the debate about global warming. Instead of its traditional place in environmental realm (read: tree-hugging hippie issue), we can see it now in terms of a security issue (read: soccer mom issue).

“For years, too many of us have viewed global warming as simply an environmental or economic issue,” [Durbin] said in introducing the new bill at a Senate hearing. “We now need to consider it as a security concern.” Durbin characterized climate change consequences as “a clear and present danger to the United States” and “a potential threat multiplier for instability around the world.”

Perhaps this will finally get some more of the officials in our government on board with the issue.

On a side note, this bill is a very interesting move for Sen. Chuck Hagel, as points out.

Hagel, a possible contender for the GOP presidential nomination, led the effort to block U.S. participation in the Kyoto treaty and continues to staunchly oppose mandatory restrictions on greenhouse gases, but he has been a leader among moderate Republicans in moving to address climate change in other, nonregulatory ways. “Sen. Durbin and I differ on policy initiatives designed to reduce the impact of climate change,” Hagel said at the hearing. “We do agree, however, on the need to assess potential impacts of the changing climate on U.S. national security interests.”

Maybe he can sway other government officials that have historically been against environmental concerns to think again.

Google Swathed in Solar Panels

Google has covered all the buildings on it’s campus in solar modules. 9,212 of them to be exact.

My favorite part about this is that they didn’t just stop at doing the rooftops, they also covered the parking lots:

To gain even more solar surface area, Google installed solar panels as “shades” over several of its parking lots, keeping cars cool and generating power at the same time.