Saturday, January 07, 2006

For What it's Worth

I read the following this morning. I think it’s worth while. It has to do with the great divide and the fact that we (Right and Left) just aren’t talking anymore. I thought about the Buffalo Springfield Song:

There's something happening here.
What it is ain't exactly clear.
There's a man with a gun over there,
Telling me I got to beware.
I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound?
Everybody look what's going down.

There's battle lines being drawn.
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong.
Young people speaking their minds,
Getting so much resistance from behind.
I think it's time we stop, hey, what's that sound?
Everybody look what's going down.

What a field day for the heat.
A thousand people in the street,
Singing songs and carrying signs,
Mostly say, “Hooray for our side.”
It's time we stop, hey, what's that sound?
Everybody look what's going down.

Paranoia strikes deep:
Into your life it will creep.
It starts when you're always afraid.
You step out of line, the man come and take you away.

I can tell you with confidence that both left and right wing thinkers feel that song is about them, as the one the man will come and take away. Both sides feel the the other side is the one with the GUN. How is that possible? How did we get here? Who generated that much hate? Where is all the venom coming from? This is a conversation conservative thinkers are engaged in right now. Here's a peek into that world.

The Anchoress asked this morning:

I wonder if we are not putting too much energy into negativism, whether it’s actually constructive or just mean-spirited. It doesn’t matter if the left does these things, compiles these lists; for conservatives, some of this just seems to not be the best use of our time or our minds.

We on the right have tons of legitimate differences with folks on the left; on some issues our whole worldviews are utterly and absolutely at odds. There is more than enough to debate about, already, and too many subjects on which we may never be able to come together. We don’t really need to expend our time and energy on projects that simply come down to pointing a finger and saying, “ewwww…look at them” do we?

Isn’t that best left to the perpetual adolescents who live for it?

Negativity and cynicism are too easy to embrace. I know, because when back when I was a liberal, cynicism was the tool by which most of my opinions were shaped; it was simpler than thinking and always gave me a “moral” edge. And because I am human and sometimes inclined to laziness (and sometimes just eager to feel prideful and morally superior and “too smart to fall for” anything) I still find myself falling into cynicism (particularly about the fourth estate, for example) and going negative, because it IS so very easy to do.

Not all blogs embrace cynicism, of course, at least not habitually…but it’s worth thinking about: when does constructive criticism become negativity; when does healthy skepticism become cynicism, and do our better natures get buried under such easy weight?

Cynicism and negativity are like easy-to-make snacks, full of empty calories which fatten you up (and slow you down) while offering no nutrition. Feeding on them gives your body (and your mind) nothing on which to build, or grow, or heal.

I know, some will say that the left is incapable of extending a sentence of good-will toward the right, so why bother - President Bush tried changing the tone and got his extended hand smacked back - yeah, I know, I know. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

Remember Atticus Finch, in To Kill A Mockingbird, who explained to his son (after losing a case and watching his unjustly accused black client fall victim to entrenched racism), “just because we’re licked a hundred times over is no reason not to try.” A positive act, upon being rebuffed, does nothing to injure the party offering it.

Clearly, I have work to do on myself. It’s worth thinking about, is alls I’m sayin’.

She had said earlier:

I was thinking about left and right, about how our political passions can overrun our humanity, sometimes, and make us behave in ways that seem quite outside of our instincts. I didn’t write it well, though, and I ticked off a few people.

From Sigmund:

In making the decision who best represents interests, consider this: Anyone who really wants to help his fellow man or represent the best interests of citizens, will not make the focus of their work speaking of human weaknesses, failures and hate. They will speak of man’s great potential and the possibility of participating in good works. More than anything, they will let their love for their fellow man and good works speak for them.

Mother Teresa rarely talked about her work. She went out and did what needed to be done. When she needed money to continue her good works, she demanded that we help- because that would tap into our higher and better selves. We too, could share in those works. She had no harsh words for those of different opinion.

Contrast that, for example, with Rachel Corrie and the ISM. Neither Corrie or the ISM were Mother Teresas, in any sense of the word. Despite noble statements to the contrary, their entire raison d’etre was and remains to promote and publicize an agenda of hate. Their website, and others like them, are filled not only with hate, but instructions on how best to hate.

Mother Teresa and her Order had no time to hate. There was too much work to be done. Rachel Corrie and her ilk had no time to get the job done. There was too much hate to spew.

We all of us do it, sometimes, let our passions get the better of us and spout off, and if we feed that, we find we are like little computers set for scorn, who cannot reboot - we get stuck on cynical, stuck on the sneer.

We might all do it, sometimes…but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to maintain a sense of just how far we are going, and know when we are out of control.


So, how did we all get here, how do we get back. How do we stop the hate and venom from BOTH sides. I am somewhat fearful that even if my side or your side wins that the Buffalo Springfield song will come true once again as it did in the 70’s.

We must stop the hateful talk somehow, from BOTH SIDES.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Mark of the Beast, and you thought we were kidding

So many people think that all the prophecy about a mark in the hand and in the forehead as just so much baloney from religious right wingers.  OK.  How's this.
Get your mark right here.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Fire and Death in the Hole (Reflections on the West Virginia Mine Disaster)

My heart goes out to the folks who have suffered loss. I admire their faith and steadfastness (mostly).

Here’s my thoughts:

The media who jumped the gun on this should be ashamed of their behavior. They did no fact checking, no digging. When wildfire started, they fanned the flame. What ever happened to the journalistic maxim, "If your mother says I love you, check it out". And they blame the bloggers for being irresponsible. THEY broke the people’s hearts, not the company.

I was sure that at some point the liberals would figure out a way on how to blame Bush for all this. It didn’t take long. Thursday night on Primetime I see a reporter opine that lax mine inspections because of Bush policies are partially responsible for this disaster. Is there no end to their hatred of this President? They are shameful.

Mining is dangerous. Not as dangerous as farming. We lost people every year on the farm in various ways. Don’t want danger? Work at Wal-Mart. Pays less but very very safe (mostly).

This is a case of the cost of the 100% solution. 60% mine safety is cheap and unacceptable. 70% is more costly by half again and better. 80% is double the cost. Etc. 100% mine safety means 10 pounds of coal are mined annually at a cost of $50,000 per pound.

I got a micro picture of how it will be when the wrath of God comes. Most people believe that they will find God at the end on when trouble comes. It’s not true.

I remember black box tape recordings of people in a burning airplane in Manila in the 70s. They weren’t calling out to God, they were cursing him loudly. Vile evil things.

Then there was the plane that went down in Sioux Falls in the mid 80’s. After it crashed people leaped over each other without much consideration for anyone but themselves. I saw an unedited report that day. The man was cursing God out for the whole thing. I thought it would be better if he stayed away from Church for a while.

At the mine disaster I saw the service on TV when they thought everyone was safe and only one man had died. They were whooping it up. Bless God, Amazing Grace etc. The one man who died (they thought) family was there, the pastor asked if people would please come up and pray for them, there were about 140 people there, 3 came up and prayed.

Then, the bad news came, no more amazing grace how sweet the sound. The god they thought they loved had let them down. They begin to say things like, what good is god, there is no god, _ _ _ _ god. _ _ _ _ Jesus. Rough stuff. Angry stuff.

I didn’t lose anyone in that accident. I don’t have the right to judge. Maybe. I’'ve had crisis, loss, disaster, pain, suffering and shock in my life. I have sat and held the hand of many who were going thru things as hard as this and they didn't curse God. Their anchor held.

When I heard the report of what the people said I immediately thought of a passage from the Book of the Revelation: The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. Men gnawed their tongues in agony and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done. (Revelation 16:10-11 NIV)

There will come a day when God will put all men in a place where none can look God in the eye and say, I never had a chance, I never knew, I wasn't aware. There will be no excuse. When God pours out his bowls in an attempt to cause people to come back to him, it will have in large part the opposite effect. They will curse God and die.

Sadly that’s exactly what happened to several when the small bowl was poured out on West Virginia. What will happen when the real woes begin?

It depends on who you are anchored to.

Proud to be a Republican or Democrat (are you?)

So you were waiting for me to tell you why this whole Abramhoff affair is going to taint but not bring down the Republican leadership in congress?

Why is this a non starter relative to the 2006 elections?

Here's why.  One brush paints the whole guilty bunch.  The list which I can't bear to publish is the one of the republican's who are just as guilty (only for bigger dollars, but then we are the party of the rich and we can't be bought with the puny contributions democrats apparently can).

So while this will cause great discourse it's without teeth. The relatively subdued tone and normal self-righteousness from the left has been muted.  And, NO, giving the money back (or to charity) doesn't make it OK that you are a slimebag (something my congressman Denny Hastert just did and so did Harry Reid).

Besides, this isn't the big one.  There's another shoe to drop.  Look out, that one WILL hurt.  I'm a little surprised Jack Abramhoff hasn't been killed and all his files disappeared.  No wait, that was only during the Clinton Administration. (for those of you historically challenged see Vince Foster)

40 Of The 45 Members Of The Senate Democrat Caucus:

  • Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) Received At Least – $22,500
  • Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) Received At Least – $6,500
  • Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE) Received At Least – $1,250
  • Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) Received At Least – $2,000
  • Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) Received At Least – $20,250
  • Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) Received At Least – $21,765
  • Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) Received At Least – $7,500
  • Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) Received At Least – $12,950
  • Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) Received At Least – $8,000
  • Senator Jon Corzine (D-NJ) Received At Least – $7,500
  • Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) Received At Least – $14,792
  • Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) Received At Least – $79,300
  • Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) Received At Least – $14,000
  • Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) Received At Least – $2,000
  • Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) Received At Least – $1,250
  • Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) Received At Least – $45,750
  • Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) Received At Least – $9,000
  • Senator Jim Jeffords (I-VT) Received At Least – $2,000
  • Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) Received At Least – $14,250
  • Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) Received At Least – $3,300
  • Senator John Kerry (D-MA) Received At Least – $98,550
  • Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) Received At Least – $28,000
  • Senator Pat Leahy (D-VT) Received At Least – $4,000
  • Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) Received At Least – $6,000
  • Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT) Received At Least – $29,830
  • Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) Received At Least – $14,891
  • Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) Received At Least – $10,550
  • Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) Received At Least – $78,991
  • Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) Received At Least – $20,168
  • Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) Received At Least – $5,200
  • Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) Received At Least – $7,500
  • Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) Received At Least – $2,300
  • Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) Received At Least – $3,500
  • Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) Received At Least – $68,941
  • Senator John Rockefeller (D-WV) Received At Least – $4,000
  • Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO) Received At Least – $4,500
  • Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) Received At Least – $4,300
  • Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) Received At Least – $29,550
  • Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) Received At Least – $6,250
  • Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) Received At Least – $6,250

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Of Beer, Barley and Bio-Breweries

I got this from a friend of mine out west.  AJ Skurdahl.  It is one of those things that seem too good to be true, but I think it just might be.  At first I thought it was one of those "raise rats to feed the cats for fur" things you've all seen.  But It's a legit deal.  So read the exerpt, look at the website.  This is the kind of thing that just might help many of us do well by doing good.  I love the creative thought.
An excerpt:

"This is not just theory; it's what we've put in practice in three breweries: one in Fiji, one in Tanzania and one in Namibia. When you make beer you have solid waste, C02 waste, heat waste and liquid waste. In solid barley waste you have 70% fibre and 26% protein, plus a few other things.

"In our three breweries we're growing mushrooms on the fibres. In collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Hong Kong Chinese University, we've developed a system to grow mushrooms on the spent grain. You can have up to five harvests of mushrooms in one batch of spent grain, and we've even succeeded in producing high-priced mushroom delicacies like shiitake and miyatake.

"None of the mushroom experts around the world ever thought of growing them on beer. As a systems thinker; I asked: what can we do with the fibres? We discovered that fibre is a mushroom feed, and so we use our fibre as mushroom feed.

"Now, with the 26% protein waste, we're cultivating earthworms. Earthworms like hot, sticky, wet environments, in which they convert vegetable proteins into animal proteins. To give you a figure, a middle-sized brewery with an annual production of 100,000 litres of beer will give you 10 tons of solid waste a day. 70% of that you can use to grow mushrooms.

"But what I found even more interesting is that with one ton of solid waste, you can produce about 130 kilos of earthworms. Therefore, a mid-sized brewery will produce about 1.3 tons of earthworms a day. That's a lot of earthworms. We feed them to chickens. So now we also have a chicken farm linked to our brewery.

"What this means is that there's no need to have any aid programmes for food in Tanzania. Just convert the sixteen breweries into chicken farms, and mushroom farms. You can create massive amounts of food. On top of it, the food is extremely healthy.

"In addition, the mushrooms convert lignin cellulose into carbohydrates. These carbohydrates, the waste from the mushroom farm, are given to the cattle. The cattle used to get food that had only 2% carbohydrates; now their food has 45% carbohydrates, thanks to the good work done by the mushrooms. So now we have a 45% carbohydrate feed stock for cattle, which is high quality feed.

"The cattle and the chicken produce much less methane with this type of feed, but they still do produce a lot. We catch all their droppings in a digester, which then generates steam. The largest digester we have is in Beijing, in a brewery that produces 800,000 litres of beer a year. It's one of the largest breweries in China. All the steam they need in the brewery comes from the digester; from the waste of the chickens and cattle. It's a very efficient process.

"So our chickens and cattle become a source of energy. We are not used to looking at a chicken as a source of energy; we look at it as the source of eggs and food. But a chicken is also one of the most efficient methane generators in the world. With three chickens and one cow, you can have electric light all evening in your home.

"Now, the digester also generates waste, called slurry, which has a very high BOD (biological oxygen demand). This is considered a problem by environmentalists, because of the large amount of oxygen that has to be added. The Chinese and the Vietnamese have worked with very high BOO slurries before.

"They put them into fish ponds on which they have floating gardens, so the roots of the flowers and ryes and tomatoes extract all the food. It's like floating hydroponics. Within twenty- four hours, the BOO of 1,000 (which is what our digesters give us) is broken down to a BOO of 25, without adding oxygen. So we have floating gardens and seven kinds of fish are bred in the ponds, which is the traditional Chinese way of dealing with slurries. This is nothing new; it's what the Chinese have been doing for thousands of years. We are now applying this at our industrial site which means that we have six or seven ponds the size of a hectare, one next to another, and we treat all our slurry that way.

"So, I'm asking my beer brewers, "In which business are you? Are you in the hydroponics business, the fishpond business, the chicken-farming business, or the mushroom business, while you happen to make some beer on the side?" From a systems point of view, it doesn't really matter. Nobody tries to maximize anything here; this is all optimization. That's the beauty of industrial clustering. The principle of the natural cycle is applied here as an industrial cycle. No more linear thinking.

"Let me summarize our results. First of all, in terms of output of nutrients, of fertilizer and of energy, we're doing seven times more than a brewery. This is the second Green revolution! We're producing seven times more food, fuel, and fertilizer. This means we've completely changed the economics of a brewery. It is also important to realize that you can't do this with a two-million-litre- a-year brewery. You can only do it with a small brewery.

"The second result is that we generate four times more jobs than in a normal brewery. We have four times more people employed, because all that clustering requires workers. However; every single component of the cluster is tested against the market. Our great advantage is that every resource comes free, because it is what was considered waste. From the brewery's point of view, everything is waste. Our additional expense is on the infrastructure, all of which is located around the brewery. That means we have eliminated transportation costs completely, which is a major advantage. The brewery is always located close to a consumption centre, which means the mushrooms are sold, the chickens are sold and the fish are sold locally. ~"

Of course, to work in the Dakotas water would have to be piped in from the Arctic or Great Lakes.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Right Place Wrong Guy

I have heard more than once from journalists and politicians that what Iraq needs is a “George Washington” to lead the country to independence. 

The lament has been that there is no such person on the horizon. 


I’m not convinced.  I watched 6 hours of a history of the crusades on the History Channel. I also saw a good movie, “Kingdom of Heaven”.  Also about the crusades.  My relatives according to ancient family trees were Germans who were part of the crusades into the Holy Land.  Since then I have done some reading.


Iraq doesn’t need a George Washington, Iraq needs a Saladin.  He is still a hero in the Muslim world.  What’s interesting is he wasn’t an Arab.  He was a Kurd.  Or if you like a Meade.


If you look at those links you will soon figure out why even today Muslims honor his name and revere his victories.


I would love to see a Saladin rise up.  I wonder if Saddam saw himself as a Saladin since Saladin was (like Saddam) born in Tikrit in Iraq. 


But, lets look for a new Saladin.  What is interesting is that the current prime minister is from Kurdistan, a Meade. 


Symbolism is everything in Islam.  Keep your eyes peeled.