Thursday, February 15, 2007

A Fool's Gold

Give or take a few hundred million, today the earth is inhabited by about six and a half billion people. That is estimated to be as many people as have ever inhabited this planet over the millennia since its existence. Although with the technology, and medicine people are living healthier and longer lives. There are probably more millionaires, per capita than ever, we have bigger houses, more cars, more airplanes, etc, etc. We also have more poor, more starvation and more people who are sicker than ever.

Whether you are a fan of global warming or not, that is a totally different issue, there are other consequences of this population boom that do not bode well for our future, that is the future of the mankind as a whole.

And this brings me to the recent editorial in “The Dothan Eagle” of Friday February 16, 2007, “ Biofuel research must be a top priority”. I admit that most of it is well thought out and well intentioned, it still leaves out a few problems and concerns that I have with promoting the Biofuel idea as an alternative to the “black gold”.

As we, at the behest of our beloved decider, jump head long into the research and conversions in to Biofuel arena we must consider a few other points. Your editorial already mentions the increase in the cost of corn due to the ethanol production and the cost of tortillas in Mexico, here are a few other items that needs to be considered.

Whether we use the corn or the switch grasses to produce the ethanol, the price of corn will stay up as the land being used to produce corn for the fuel will be used to grow switch grasses, thus the increase in food prices will be the same or similar no matter what we use to produce that fuel. We already see the price of eggs and poultry going up, and surely the cereals, the price of beef and the soft drinks will also go up as the price of corn syrup used in the soft drinks climbs, ethanol also is more expensive to produce than the gasoline and is less efficient, as you correctly noted in your editorial.

We must also keep in mind that even as ethanol is cleaner burning, the fuel is not less polluting to the environment, as to grow more and more organic materials to produce ethanol we will need more and more fertilizers and insecticides and thus directly pollute the under ground water reservoirs and rivers and the oceans, endangering the aquatic life and our own lives also.

As the competition grows for the land use, as to what we need more, the fuel or the food, the price of food articles will keep growing and become almost prohibitive for the poor, or just like in South America we will be forced to cut down the forests to grow these new crops, or let people go hungry. We have always sent our surplus crops to the starving around the world, with a switch to the biofuels we will endanger our own people. Will our elders and the poor on limited incomes still be able to eat?

Will we increase the minimum wage and social security benefits yet again to cover the cost of new more expensive fuel and the cost of food? How will we explain to the starving that they can not eat so as we can still drive our SUVs? What will we do when the fish populations start to die in our rivers because they have become more polluted with the fertilizers and insecticides?

The true and the only solution to our predicament of dependence on foreign oil is to reduce our “addiction” to oil, foreign and domestic. And we can start that by improving public transportation, making smaller cars, using less drive through’, and yes imposing higher and higher taxes on gas to be used for improved public transport. Would you believe a four dollar a gallon gasoline/ diesel tax will give us better and less congested roads, clean the air, give us better transportation systems, actually reduce poverty, and help bring many of our jobs back from over seas, will force Wal- mart into smaller stores, cut our dependence on the Arab oil, reduce terrorism, keep the Arabs from buying out the United States, and tell Hugo Chavez where to get off at.

If we do follow the road to the biofuel heaven, the over all cost increase in foods and fuel and the environmental damage will be the same as a four dollar a gallon fuel tax.

So how patriotic are YOU feeling today?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Back Down on the Earth

Back down on the Earth
My sympathies and condolences to Lisa Nowak and her family, the NASA and the Navy, and to our country. I hope that the judge will find that Lisa was suffering a major depression episode or PTSD and needs psychological treatment and counseling more than she needs being sent to a jail cell. One could argue that she committed a major crime, and yes, I agree, but do you not think that her sudden fall from grace is punishment enough? Surely she will never fly again, let alone be an astronaut, surely she will be retired by the Navy, may be after a small punishment under UCMJ. She would have been going places, as a professor in a military college, or a high level position in NASA, or a consultant. And for a great loss to the little girls everywhere, to whom she will never be invited to speak about the space and the stars and careers, about dreaming big. Now she is going no where, literally.
A genuine star has fallen.
How much more punishment does she deserve. And who among us does not know of a case or two where the system let a few pass through with a slap on the wrist, and if any one ever deserved a break I thinks Lisa and her children have earned this one.
I really do feel sorry for the other girl also, and hope she recovers fine from her shock and can continue, happily, with her own life.
What has bothered me the most about this incident is how it reflects upon the women under stress, in authority, and on our culture.
I personally know, and who does not, of many many incidents of spousal infidelity, even within the ranks of our military, of which I am a part of. I also am a father of two daughters that I would like to see go places, to be the lawyers and doctors and senators and judges. But I would also like them to have some sense of morality, decency and a modicum of modesty, even at the risk of sounding a bit “old fashioned”.
It is not that I am a religious being, I do “however” fully believe that it is the morals and the decency and the self control and certain standards of conduct, that make us humans, superior to our other fellow animals.
I also do not believe that one should be stoned to death, or even jailed for a romantic indiscretion, divorced, yes, murdered, no, even if that is what the “gods” have decreed.
But what, if any part of the blame for what Lisa did can be laid at our own feet as a society, we told her she was great, she could do things that ordinary humans don’t do, she was not an ordinary human being. But at the same time, we also live in a society that preaches “it is all about me”. That you can have “everything” you want. We are a society that says if you are a successful woman you can also have any man you want, whether you are a CSI girl, an Alley Mc Beal, or just a “Desperate House Wife”.
And it is not just the women that are doing it, from Newt Gingrich and John McCain and Rudi Giuliani to Bill Clinton, all have had the same idea. Is this the cost of progress? We are willing to destroy lives, destroy relationships, destroy families. I hope this is not a watershed, I hope that we decide that women can also progress without losing their sensibilities, I hope my daughters are still given the opportunities to succeed to the best level of their own capabilities. I hope that our daughters and sisters and mothers and wives are no longer taught that their only mission in life is to get sex, or just to satisfy another person sexually.

Friday, February 02, 2007


Why does man think that there is a reason? Bob L. asked me about my beliefs. Do I believe in God, well what can I say, if there is a God, such as the one mentioned in the Koran, and the Bible and the Torah. If there is a "God" that created the heaven and the earth we don't have a clue as to why he created man. Despite the explanations of the "prophets" I doubt if the prophets themselves had a clue.
Why for instance there must be a reason for the existence of man. We wonder, and we wonder because "we can think", and we can reason, thus we think that their must be a reason for our own existence also. Also if there IS a reason for our existence, then we are important. But can you explain why there are galaxies by the billions, in space, that are going around and going away and being established and being torn down, surely they are much more massive than any of us, and much more powerful in the amount of the gravity they create, the mass that they hold, the energy they generate,has anyone ever thought of why they exist? Why there is a Jupiter or a Mars? Exactly. Man is not thinking about any of it, man is so self loving, so self absorbed that he can only think of himself in all the cosmos.
And if there is no reason at all for this all, then what? why? No one wants to believe that we don't want to live for ever, that we die and then we are dirt, we want to believe that we will live on, didn't the ancient Egyptians prepare themselves for an after life? What the monotheism offered of a life in the here after was not a new concept man already "KNEW" that life continues, man had always been scared of dying.
Gods also have always walked the Earth, Buddha was a God Man, so was Krishna, and Rama and probably others we have never heard of. There are suicide bombers that go out to kill innocents thinking that is what God would want them to do. There are those who "Believe" that going to Iraq and getting caught in a crossfire is what God wants them to do through the most recent disciple "the President".
We don't believe that what we do on this Earth is futile. No matter the riches we have or earn, the degrees, the children we still die, right?
Much as I think, and I write and talk to others, I for one am most assured that I do not make any difference, and I am willing to live with it.