Convention season continued last night with the congressional district conventions. In some districts like the fifth these are competitive affairs. However here in the first district we already know and love Congressman John Larson so it’s more of a party. Political junkies from towns across the first district gathered to eat food, drink, and listen to the congressman lay the foundation for the upcoming campaign. The logo for this season is a star with an eagle and Larson spent much time talking about Pratt & Whitney and how his father would go to work to keep the eagle flying.
For readers that are not involved in the political process getting to go to a convention is not a terribly difficult process, especially if it is uncontested. The local town committee usually approves the slate of delegates that will be sent to the convention. So if you are involved and volunteer with the committee then you can ask to be put on the list, and even if you are not there are often last minute cancellations so you can go as a proxy. If you cannot register as a delegate you can also sometimes show-up as a guest. One town at the convention actually brought several republicans with them as guests. It was nice to see the spirit of bipartisanship is still alive in some places.
If you want to read accounts of the third and fifth district conventions I recommend reading Aldon Hynes’s blog.
With the end of school coming up I have been pretty busy. I took the morning Saturday to volunteer at the Connecticut Democratic State Convention. It was an early morning, I woke-up at 6 a.m. and started helping out around 7 a.m. However it was fun and I got to see some old friends. The lull of posting will probably continue over the next week as I hustle to finish up my remaining papers for school but I wanted to share this video of Chris Murphy taking the stage and the beginning of his victory speech at the Democratic State Convention. The convention hall was emptying out by the time he gave it but it was a good speech.
I was looking at buying a scanner like a Fujitsu ScanSnap. They come highly rated and my thought was that it might tame the large amount of paper accumulating on my desk. However I recently became aware of scanner applications for the iPhone and decided to test a couple. The first one I tried was JotNot. It worked decently but if there were too many folds or a document was crinkled then the text would get too light in parts. This made some of the scans unusable. After doing some research I saw people recommended TurboScan and so I gave that shot.
I must say that this is the new must have application for iPhone. It takes the pictures quickly (or has an option you can take three photos to maximize that sharpness of the scan) and then you have several post processing options to lighten or darken it, rotate it, and set the boundaries. In my experience TurboScan worked much better than JotNot with a crinkled receipt. For only $1.99 you turn your iPhone into a scanner and can e-mail the PDF of the document to any address from the phone or save it to the iPhone camera roll or print if you have an AirPrint enabled printer. If you have a large number of documents a copier might be better but this app is good in a pinch and certainly saved me a $300 purchase.
I’ve been a customer of ING Direct for a while. So I was really excited to discover that not only do they have an iPhone app but the app lets you deposit checks using the phone’s camera. It’s pretty simple, you just take a picture of the front and the back of the check using the application and it uploads them to the bank. You wait two days and then the money is in your account. Friends had told me about this service with their bank which made me jealous, now I can say that I too have joined the 21st century. My only complaint is that the phone does not yet print cash.
I just got back from the Connecticut Forum on Our Fragile Earth. The panel was a great: Dan Esty, Michael Pollan, and Majora Carter. John Dankosky did a fantastic job as moderator. All three of the panelists were pro-environment and as a result I think that the discussion lost a little bit of flavor it could have had if someone was there advocating for the interests of business. I’m sure it could not have been difficult to find a construction worker or factory owner that was overburdened by environmental regulation. Though as Mr. Esty noted, many times there are places where the interests of business and the environment align and that’s the best and easiest way to create positive environmental change.
The one large point of contention had to do with the issue of hydrofracking. Mr. Esty noted that New York was moving to regulate it and that hydrofracking could be fairly safe if done properly. Ms. Carter felt that leaving regulation to local governments would cause poorer areas to disproportionately host hydrofracking. While Ms. Carter’s concerns are real, I think she failed to consider that the people in these areas still have choices and can regulate hydrofracking in the same manner as the wealthy areas. Mr. Esty also raised the idea that the risk of polluted water in some areas might be worth the benefit of cleaner air that would result from the switchover to natural gas from coal. I was surprised to learn that Connecticut is a big pollution importer. Mr. Esty noted that with the pollution coming in from New Jersey and New York we already exceed emission standards without contributing our own.
When it came to tackling the policy issues the panel identified corporate contributions and influence as a major barrier to implementing effective policy. One panelist noted that it was the large agricultural firms receiving the best subsidies. I think that as a state we are still hurting from the Rowland era and Citizens’ United still sits in the back of our minds. I wonder if the cheers would have been as loud had the audience been from New York or New Jersey. If so, it is surprising that there is not an appetite in the United States Congress to tackle that issue.
Mr. Pollan focused on the issue of food. He laid out the principle that you should eat food with few ingredients and never eat anything your grandmother would not recognize. There was also some discussion of food deserts and agriculture policy. It was not clear to me how these tangents on food topics tied in to the environment until Mr. Pollan described some kind of enclosed greenhouse system where food was grown and fish swam. This greenhouse was warmed by compost and was designed to be a sustainable self-contained system. Though maybe the point of the food discussion circled back to the beginning where Mr. Dankosky noted that the Earth itself is not that fragile, but we are the fragile ones, and so it is important that we think about caring for ourselves as much as we think about caring for the Earth.
Overall the three-hour discussion generated many interesting ideas. At the end the panelists suggested if we want to do something then we should read more about the topic (I will add the book recommendations when I find them later), change something in our community, and change something in our own lives. By doing that we can take some small steps to protecting our fragile Earth.