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Showing posts from August, 2011

Tough Choices Ahead

August 29, 2011 - I was reading today that birdwatchers in California are disturbed because of the deaths of six Golden Eagles that collided with wind turbines. Some of the most enjoyable hours of my adult life have been spent birdwatching, and my concern regarding birds' plummeting populations has gone on for a long time now. Certainly the loss of these majestic birds hits home for a number of reasons: 1) the dead birds were found and accounted for, which had to be unnerving because 2) they are extremely large birds, as American birds go; 3) wind turbines are still a relatively new technology with which we are only beginning to grow accustomed; and 4) all of us in the birdwatching community realize there are lots of other accidents that can and do happen to birds every day, particularly the young, inexperienced birds.

The reason I mention the fact that the birds were seen and identified is that so, so many of "our birds" winter in Central and South America, where loss o…

Making It Work

August 22, 2011 - I don't know about you, but it seems like I'm having a growing number of conversations that begin something like this: "I can't put my finger on it - it just seems like something is wrong these days." As more and more of us come to the realization that bad news isn't as rare as it used to be, a commensurate number have begun thinking in terms of preparing for what lies ahead. If you're a baby boomer, like me, those preparations include looking toward the day when you will stop working. That won't include all of us, however: 40 percent of all baby boomers will not ever be able to quit working. Part of the reason for that is another grim statistic - namely, that 36 percent of boomers have never saved for retirement. Statistics do not, of course, tell the whole story. They never have, they never will; particularly not now, with the future looking so very uncertain. Be that as it may, there is one unrelenting fact confronting these indiv…

Taking It to the Streets

August 15, 2011 - Awhile back, I indicated, upon receipt of an email inviting me to participate, that I would be interested in taking part in an action protesting the KXL (tar sands) pipeline. Unfortunately, I've been unable to find a place to stay in the Washington, D.C. area, so I'll send an email to President Obama, telling him that I support the protestors, heart and soul. That's the best I can do. If you're going to be in our nation's capital during the second half of August, and would like your voice to be heard, take a look at this website: http://www.tarsandsaction.org/sign-up/.

I feel enormous admiration for the demonstrators who are participating in this action, which begins August 20 and lasts though Labor Day. Having grown up during a time of great upheaval and unrest, I know the truth of the words, "The People, united, will never be defeated!" I believe the people of the United States are growing more united with every passing day. Our count…

The Straight Poop

August 10, 2100 - Say what you like, I think this is exciting: in Orange County, California, human waste is being turned into hydrogen and electricity, and then the hydrogen is used to run cars. An experimental fuel cell makes this possible. Its usefulness will be tested during the next three years at the Fountain Valley Sewage Treatment Plant, where a filling station for the area's hundred or so hydrogen cars will operate. Should the fuel cell prove reliable and economically viable, Fountain Valley could become a major stop on California's incipient Hydrogen Highway (HH).

As things stand right now, moving the HH in the direction of functionality is happening, albeit hesitantly. Without the cars, there's no need for filling stations. Without filling stations, the cars aren't going anywhere. The good news is that new stations are slated to open in two Orange County communities soon. The ultimate goal of having 12 to 14 stations up and running to serve Southern Californi…

Thanks, Sharon

August 8, 2011 - Those of you familiar with Sharon Astyk's books may recall her referring to the Riot for Austerity. If the concept sounded just crazy enough to work, you'll be glad to learn she's at it again: time for another riot. She writes about the particulars in her blog, Casaubon's Book (http://scienceblogs.com/casaubonsbook/2011/08/time_to_riot.php). It's an idea that has so much positive going for it, I decided I'd like to spotlight it today.

Since words have always fascinated me, I love the story of the naming of this activity: rioting for austerity. As Astyk tells it, she and a friend were piqued by a line in George Monbiot's book, Heat, in which he observes "no one has ever rioted for austerity." In point of fact, there are folks in many places rioting in opposition to austerity measures right now! The idea of individuals pleading they want less of anything runs so entirely counter to what we know about human beings and their seemingle…

The Meaning of Patriotism

August 1, 2100 - I read in an online Boston paper today that doctors at a major Boston hospital are now reporting that 18% of children under the age of three who come to the hospital are malnourished or painfully thin. Heaven knows the Tea Party's plans to End Debt in Our Time should do them a world of good.


The Japanese offer us both an example upon which to model our own behavior, and an inspiration. Their government's calls for conservation have been met with a determination to do even more than what the government has asked. Conservation is necessary, of course, because of the shortage of electricity caused by nuclear reactors, not only at Fukushima, but in many places throughout the country, having been turned off (only 17 out of 54 remain operational). Few countries do better than the Japanese in living by the code "all for one, one for all."

This proclivity is furthered by daily power supply reports, broadcast along with the weather forecast each morning. The he…