Friday, August 29, 2008


China maiden,
Anaemic hind,
a China mined,
a maiden chin.

Machine and I,
China named I,
chain maiden,
a machine din.

Chained man I,
Acid Man he in,
can aim end hi?
manic head in.

Naiad inch me,
Niacin had me,
maniac end hi,
Iceman had in.

Canine am hid,
China dame in,
aha - nice mind!
idea man Chin.

by Ana Gram


I was looking around at the many stories on the net today about John McCain's pick of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential candidate. I found this video of the Palin acceptance speech on CNN, which you should watch - and then watch it again, this time focusing on John McCain. Um, is it me, or does he look like a guy who is very uncomfortable and doesn't know what he's doing? He fiddles with his wedding ring, he picks his finger nails, and he doesn't smile. He hugs Gov. Palin very stiffly, then goes back into a trance-like state. And also, um, what does he keep looking at? He keeps staring at something - you decide what.

In any event, this will be interesting and exciting political theater for the next 2 months. The McCain pick of Palin makes one wonder how the Republicans are going to continue to use their "Obama doesn't have the experience to be President of the United States." Palin is smart, tough and young, but has very little political experience for someone who will literally be a heart beat away from the U.S. presidency. (Can you imagine the anguish Hillary would go through if Palin became President?)

I'll write another post about the Democratic national convention, which I thought was absolutely boffo! And I might tune into the Republican convention to see what the other side is going to do.

This election cycle has been the most interesting I can remember in the 43 years I've been of voting age, and it is only going to get better! Stay tuned folks, the fun has just begun.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


I've always liked Senator Joe Biden; he seemed like a level-headed, straight-talking guy, for a senator. During the debates between the Democratic Party candidates for president, it was Joe Biden who impressed me the most as a very solid candidate with deep roots in government and foreign policy. His statements about the Bush administration taking their eyes off the ball (Afghanistan) to invade Iraq, and the continuing debates about Iraq keeping us diverted from the real issue - Iran - were right-on. I was sorry to see Biden drop out of the race.

Barak Obama's selection of Joe Biden makes a lot of sense politically and electorally. Biden has the length and depth of experience that John McCain claims, without all the baggage clattering along behind McCain. This will certainly add to the Obama candidacy as the election gets into high gear. And Vice President Biden will be a valuable asset to an Obama administration.

This election contest will be heating up very soon, following the two national conventions. I think we're in for some entertaining debates, and if things continue on their present course, some real mud slingin, too.

And so I say: "gObama! jObama!

Friday, August 15, 2008


My wife and I took our almost-ten year old grandson Max to see WALL*E yesterday (his second time, our first - so maybe he took us?). What a good movie! We had a great conversation afterward about the movie, and Max was particularly interested in discussing the concept of people ruining the Earth with too much garbage and pollution. In my discussions with all four of our grandchildren, I've learned that kids these days are very much tuned into environmental problems, and think about ways to solve them. I don't sense fear in these young minds, the kind that my generation was taught regarding the imminent A-bomb sent by the Soviet Union. Instead there is thoughtfulness and a willingness to be part of "fixing it."

I think the film WALL*E is more than a cautionary environmental tale combined with a robot love story (is it OK to have a few tears about robots holding hands?). The root of the global environmental disaster in the film is consumerism on steroids, a superstore (Buy n Large, or B n L) gone wild that became everything - store, government, media, etc. The garbage produced by overachieving consumerism becomes unmanageable, and people leave WALL*E and his robot cleanup comrades behind to clean up the mess while humans cruise the universe on luxury B n L space liners.

The premise seems kind of silly, or does it? This post is not a Walmart bash, but Walmart is the obvious model that the film might have had in mind (I certainly walked away from the film thinking WALL*E - Wal*Mart). I've written previously (see November 25, 2006) about the U.S. consumer demand for home electronics resulting in more factories being built in China fueled by more coal-fired power plants producing a huge plume of air pollutants that drifts across the Pacific Ocean to the west coast of the U.S. As consumers, we are trained to buy whatever gadgets and gizmos we see, and throw them away when they break or become obsolete (often within a year or two). If you've ever visited a landfill, you can picture the mountains of trash that we ship out of our cities. From cradle to grave, most consumer products leave behind a trail of environmental harm, including a changing climate, polluted air and water, and mountains of trash.

Will we ever have cute little WALL*E robots cleaning up our messes? Will we get to the point where leaving the planet is the best option? Will robots save humanity by re-creating life on Earth? Likely not. I'm unhappy about the mess my generation is leaving our grandkids, but their understanding and excitement to change the world gives me hope.

Thanks Pixar for a wonderful film that is so much more than entertainment.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


If you've read my recent posts, you know that I think this gasoline price crisis has been orchestrated by the oil industry and large commodity speculators. Think about it this way: gasoline is what we would consider a staple in our society, kind of like milk, eggs, flour, sugar. We all rely on it, either for our private vehicles, the public buses we ride, air travel, and, in some areas, generating electricity. Have you ever seen the price of milk, eggs, flour, sugar go up and down to such an extent, and in such a short period of time, as we have recently seen with gasoline? No. So why is this happening?

How do our political leaders respond to this situation? John McCain wants to drill the hell out of our coastal waters; Barack Obama now wants to open the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to put more gasoline on the market and get some price relief. Although I shake my head in dismay watching Obama cave in to political and election pressure, at least I know that he frames the discussion with the need for a comprehensive energy policy. (Note: the Bush policy was developed behind closed doors by Lord Darth Cheney; it seems to have been: invade Iraq and get their oil - oops.)

Where is the leader, or presumptive leader, who is truth-telling about petroleum? Where is the leader who is telling us exactly why the price of gasoline at the pump is jumping around like a drop of water on a hot skillet? Does anyone get it that the petro companies are raking in the largest profits ever (I call it obscene)?

Note to presidential candidates (Barack, are you reading this?) - tell The People why the price of gas is so high and so volatile; tell us what your plan is to fix this once and for all. And by the way, drilling for more oil, or developing coal shale deposits (a costly environmental disaster) is not the correct answer. For me, something like "let's accelerate alternative fuel technologies; let's build a great mas transit system, including fast trains, let's nationalize the oil industry (oops, can't do that - it's socialism)" is getting close to where we need to be - but I won't hold my breath.

(Full disclosure: I actually think gasoline should cost $5.00 per gallon to get us off the habit - with provisions to help those who really can't afford it and need to drive to get to work, etc. Also, my wife and I own some Royal Dutch Shell stock, and last time I looked, our return on that buy is 40-some percent - nice. But I can live without that kind of profit IF it means a more rational energy policy.)