Parapharsing: get rid of phone books and do assigned seating in movie theaters. Eliminating phonebooks saves us "fucktons" while assigned seating saves us from wasting time in line. Great ideas - the average person would probably be opposed.
This past weekend while I was out of town, the several bicyclists in the Denver Critical Mass ride got into a bit of trouble with the police. It's a little frustrating, as one rider pointed out, that 75,000 protestors blocking major roads in Denver had no problem, but a group of ~100 bicyclists exercising their right to be on the road got tickets.
Without further discussion - Westword's take on the subject
Ecology by Choice
I'm a big "choice" person. I want people to have the choice to do a lot of different things. I don't like monopolies, or overly restrictive regulation and I think those are fairly commonly held beliefs.
A few years ago I bought a house and started to pay more attention to the bills from our utility company, Xcel energy. One thing in the newsletter they send out got me curious: wind power for your homes. Xcel offers a program where you can buy wind electricity credits to cover your home usage. The details of the program aren't important aside from the fact that I pay a few extra dollars each month (and it really is just a few) so that my house and everything inside it "runs on wind power".
I like this solution because it lets Xcel know that I prefer a renewable energy source to a non-renewable one. Wind has its own problems, but I think they are outweighed by its benefits. This is great and I tell everyone I can to sign up for the program. It's amazing to me how many "environmentalist" friends that I know do not use this service.
Ecology by Force
A year and a half ago Colorado voted to force Xcel to make more of its energy from renewable sources with a specific amount from wind and a specific amount from solar. I'm opposed to this kind of regulation because our prescriptions for the amounts of wind/solar in the mix may not be the best decision 5 years from now, but we're basically stuck with them. I would much prefer that Xcel and residents work together in the way demonstrated by the wind credit program and through net-metering of home solar panels to help bring renewable energy into the mix based upon market demand. My belief was that if the people who voted for that renewable energy signed up for some wind credits then Xcel would see that the renewable energy sources stand on their own and that Xcel should provide more of them.
At the time of the legislation, there was excess capacity in the wind farm even though it's only 2% of the state electricity generation. How can a program that provides only 2% be under-subscribed when a ballot measure gets a popular vote by approximately 20% of the state? Basically it's because people are hypocrites or lazy or both. note: I got to 20% based upon ~60% of people in favor and ~30% voter turnout.
Spam is a problem, right? Everybody hates it except for the people making money on it.
Currently, spam is a cost to the service providers (it uses large amounts of network and disk space - fortunately, both of those are fairly cheap) and it's a problem for people who don't have unlimited time in their lives.
Predictive Markets are a really neat idea. Basically, you let knowledgable people bet on the likelihood of a particular event happening: Bush getting re-elected, 10 inches of snow falling in one day on New York City by 2008, or Nikki letting me buy a new computer this year. Then the price of the contract for that particular event will then reflect the collective knowledge of the community about that event. If you have something that is hard to analzye or hard to predict, this is a great way to get a fairly reliable answer.
Greed is good
I've had fun with stupid spam in the past, but this was basically just as good in a different way.
I just got a call from an aplus.net autodialer - they didn't actually talk to me, just played me a voice mail. I rarely go over on minutes, so I wasn't too worried about the time, but it's my cell phone for crying out loud.
Damn the man!