If you See Something, Say Something

In all the coverage of the James Holmes carnage, I keep asking myself; were I in that movie theater…would I have observed this individual, dressed in ballistics, somehow carrying quite a bit of fire power, and gas masks? Would I have considered this suspicious? If so, who would I report my suspicions to? The gangly teenager who collected my ticket at the front door? The short-fused women who sold me my popcorn?

         Is it too early in the news cycle to ask this question? In our sensationalized 24/7 media news cycle we recall Virginia Tech 2007, 32 killed, 17 injured. Or Ft Hood 2009, 13 dead, 30 wounded. Now we add to the list Aurora 2012, 12 killed, 58 wounded.

         In the aftermath of the Aurora carnage, we hear of police departments posting officers at places where people congregate. Add to this, fresh reminders of citizen action. Los Angeles and New York have their ‘If you see something, say something’ hotlines…by phone, by text, by email.

         We know the passengers on Flight 93 2001 who wizened to the Al Qaeda operatives, foiled the terrorists’ plans at the cost of their own lives.

         Somehow someway, we all need to step up to the plate, undertake the role of citizenship, observe the scene around us and know how to respond appropriately. If we are to live in a wholesome, healthy world, nothing less will do.

Graphic courtesy of US Army/Europe

Alternative Energy? It’s not always rocket science.

Alternative sources of energy: is it too complex, too ‘out there’ to even contemplate? Worse, is pursuit of glamour and glitz getting the go-ahead while the practical gets pushed aside?

Sure, wind farms look good, so long as the wind blows steadily. Solar has promise, too. But. There could well be more practical alternatives right under our very feet. Two examples- one to do with life down on the farm, and then, let’s head up to the big city.

If you have ever had the pleasure of staying over in a bed and breakfast; next to a feedlot (or even driven by a feed lot at 80 miles an hour on the interstate), you know that the stench of manure is nothing to sniff at. Yet, this vapor, rich in methane gas, can, with the help of an anaerobic manure digester, be transformed into energy.

In addition to producing energy, an anaerobic manure digester improves hygiene of the farm, reducing odor, fly problems and the like. It provides animal bedding, and creates a fertilizer rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Incidentally, if you scoff at the existence of ‘odor free methane gas,’ methane is key ingredient in natural gas.  Thank you, Sierra Club for this tip. See: Sierra Club Magazine/March-April 2012.

Oh and hey kids, build your ‘AMD’ right here: USDA guidance Perhaps some kind of loan funding could help the farming community in this transition.

Now on to the city. Performance Contracting is where energy costs can be markedly reduced. We are all becoming familiar with this process. As old furnaces die, more efficient furnaces are going on line. Better insulation, lower-cost-to-operate lights, and more fuel efficient cars with a longer service life are also examples of this trend.

A little more complex, but with the implementation of smart electrical grids, rates for energy usage can be demand based. Power plants are currently being built to meet peak demand times- i.e. extreme weather, hot or cold. But if some activities can be time-shifted to lower demand times, it may become cost-effective for rate payers to shift their demand and the electric utility to offer a reduced rate to encourage users to do so, thus changing consumption patterns and leveling demand throughout the day.

On a larger scale, here are other examples of more energy-efficient practices: An office building in Okinawa freezes a water reservoir at night, to provide cool air-conditioning by day.  In Zimbabwe, the Eastgate Centre uses a design inspired by African termites to markedly reduce AC and heating costs.

We are definitely in for a very interesting next 10-20 years. Will algal oil ever become practical? Why pump primordial ooze out of the ground that began fermenting way back in the Paleozoic Era and it often only accessible in dangerous, difficult and inconvenient places. Instead, we we can brew our own…

What’s next, brave new worlders? Solar panels in space, with power microwaved to earth stations?  Gigawatt megapolis sized batteries…The only limit is in the imaginative genius of our scientists and engineers and the support of our citizenry.

Move over teabaggers. Make room for the Espresso Patriots.

TR gave us the Square Deal, FDR the New Deal; OBAMA, give us the Real Deal!
It’s about time our country reinvigorates, revitalizes, revamps Education, Infrastructure,
and the Industrial Government Complex. As Thomas Friedman has titled his new book
“That Used to Be Us.” If you haven’t read this book, please do so.
It can be us again, back in the saddle again, off to reinvent America, and by proxy, the world.
China is sick, Russia is aging, while Muslim reactionaries are getting pinged by Predators, and ST6.
There’s a leadership vacum out there craving to be filled by stalwart sensible Espresso Patriots, teabaggers!
Let me hear an Amen!

What about the North Korean Escapees? How do they cope with the changes in South Korea?

Trouble keeping up with the changes in the modern world?

Take a walk in the shoes of North Koreans who travel south

until they are breathing free.  In the Christian Science Monitor, August 9, 2010


Some say we’ve outgrown God, Others say We’ve outgrown Technology. What’s up with That?

Old Car

A quick read of any newspaper makes it clear, we are in a brave new world, a world which, judging from the works of Christopher Hitchens, has ‘outgrown’ God. God is not ‘sophisticated enough nor perhaps even intelligent enough to deal with the fast pace, the amoral code of conduct, ad nauseam, etc. Therfore it becomes the duty of believers everywhere to set teh record straight, while there still is some memory of such a record. Humanity has not outgrown God. Now admittedly, the ice gets thin here (climate change)? For while there are those who say we’ve outgrown God, there are some righteous godfaring types who are as quick to say ‘we’ ve outgrown technology.
For instance, if you are following genetic engineering at all, you’ve heard the genes that produce spider’s silk can be grown in a goat teat. The results are a very strong and lightweight  material. A question arise; What would God do? Well, the answer is he’s made man a little lower than the angels and given him a brain in the bargain. Hopefully junior’s brain with the spider silk in the goat’s milk is a brighter idea that Dad’s vision of yanking petrochemicals out of the ground and polluting the earth, air and sea all over the place.  

This strong material is being used for bulletproof vests for the military.  It is also used to make surgical patches and for other uses as well.
While ther are those who see a conflict between technology and God, my only response can be be “If God did not want people to think, God could have saved everyone a whole world of trouble by giving the dominon-over-the-world thing to the ants.
Those kind gentle hearted souls who look askance at technology have my sympathy. I too am often amazed how in the 20oo’s, CEOs made almost 300 times what the average Joe/Joane did. In the 1960’s, the ratio was 10% of that. Be that as it may, technology and the benefits of smarts arent going away anytime soon. Now is no time for the kind-hearted touchy-feely types to turn off on technology. The dynamic between government, industry and the people is a never ending battle- even food, a basic element of life gets caught up in the fray.

Speaking of replacing petrochemicals with organics, the gas and auto industy offers a classic case study in how industry and government have pulled one over on the people . Thanks to consumer activists, we now have (more expensive)safer cars with cleaner emissions. But even now, fuel efficient lags far behind.

Read EcoBarons–most urban areas would have been far better off with mass transit instead of such reliance on the automobile.

What the world needs now more than ever is for industry, government and the people to all meet at the same table and act in the best interests of everyone.

During the American Revolution, the church played a vital role in such a societal transformation…would that it could again.

The Real Cap and Trade—Seven Billion Affected!!!

webshots overpopWith the Copenhagen Climate Summit happening soon, there has been much skepticism raised on the value of cap and trade. Questions abound. “Is Carbon Dioxide really that bad? Will cap and trade really motivate the use of alternative fuels?
For anyone who doubts the human footprint has changed the environment, consider this. In 1960, there were only three billion people living on the earth. Soon, in the next two years, the population of the world will hit SEVEN Billion. Unless something drastically compassionate and widely supported happens soon, what will life on earth be like by the year 2050? Can the earth support TWENTY billion people? Yes, many of these people will be living in poverty, but even so, the demand on resources will continue to rise. Somehow means will have to be devised to reduce birthrates, and to more efficiently produce energy as well as process the waste stream. What do the nattering nabobs of Denial have to say about that?

Is Genetic Engineering for You?

How will behavior change when our thoughts are no longer our own?

It almost sounds like the Messianic Age is upon us. Bubble Boy Syndrome patients are able to live normal lives. There are blind people in Portugal who can now see, thanks to optic circuit implants. The life spans of laboratory rats is doubling and more. Understanding and mapping the gene strands, as well as advances in nanotechnology is making all this happen. Imagine the implications. The pundits are having a field day. Will the new hegemony of 120-150 year old people be resistant to change, entrenched in the status-quo or will long-range planning now take on new significance since more people will be living to see the consequences of short range planning? For further information check out http://www.morethanhuman.org/

“People who stop learning at 30 are dead. They just haven’t been buried yet.”

Apollo 11 turns 40.

It was 40 years ago today when Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins touched down on the moon. The Byrds, the quintessentail folk-rock group sang:

Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins were launched away in space
Millions of hearts were lifted, proud of the human race
Space control at Houston, radio command
The team below that gave the go they had God’s helping hand.

A high school senior at the time, I was very excited about the journey to the moon. I read widely…Jules Verne, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C Clark. I even wrote a book myself on space travel-It’s called
The Moses ProbeMaybe it was escapist, but with the media ballyhooing nuclear showdown with the Russians, with political leaders being assinated and riots wracking the inner cities….OK, we’ve got bad news today, too. Anyway, Neil Armstrong said it best as he uttered the first words on the moon… “A big step forward for humanity.” many There are those who said the space program was pork barrel, but look at all the technological advances that can be traced to the space race. Transistor radios, better paint finishes, communications tech. It was disappointing that not much new seems to have happened in the last 30 years, so far as manned missions go.

Then again, now take satellites for granted. The Hubble telescope, the Mars Rover. There is talk of travel to Mars in our lifetimes. One can only speculate what resources can actually be gleaned from space. But perhaps the greatest gift of all is the mental challenge and the focus it brings to discovery, invention and collaboration.