Are your isms in check?

30 10 2011

Are your isms in check?

Communism is a socioeconomic  structure and political ideology that promotes the establishment of an egalitarian, classless, stateless, society based on common ownership and control of the means of production and property in general.  Karl Marx posited that communism would be the final stage in human society, which would be achieved through a proletarian revolution and only becoming possible after a socialist stage develops the productive forces, leading to a superabundance of goods and services.  “Pure communism” in the Marxian sense refers to a classless, stateless and oppression-free society where decisions on what to produce and what policies to pursue are made democratically, allowing every member of society to participate in the decision making process in both the political and the economic spheres of life.  In modern usage, communism is often used to refer to Bolshevism or Marxism-Leninism and the policies of various communist states which had government ownership of all the means of production and centrally planned economies.

Socialism refers to various theories of economic organization advocating public or direct worker ownership and administration of the means of production and allocation of resources, and a society characterized by equal access to resources  for all individuals with a method of compensation based on the amount of labor expended. Most socialists share the view that capitalism unfairly concentrates power and wealth among a small segment of society that controls capital  and derives its wealth through exploration, creates an unequalsociety, does not provide equal opportunities for everyone to maximise their potentialities and does not utilize technology and resources to their maximum potential nor in the interests of the public. Socialism is not a concrete philosophy of fixed doctrine and programme; its branches advocate a degree of social interventionsimand economic rationalization (usually in the form of economic planning), but sometimes oppose each other. A dividing feature of the socialist movement is the split between reformists and revolutionaries  on how a socialist economy should be established. Some socialists advocate complete nationalizationof the means of production, distribution, and exchange; others advocate state control of capital within the framework of a market economy. The first socialists predicted a world improved by harnessing technology and combining it with better social organization, and many contemporary socialists share this belief. Early socialist thinkers tended to favor an authentic meritocracy combined with rational social planning, while many modern socialists have a more egalitarian approach. Valdimir  Lenin, drawing on Karl Marx’s  ideas of “lower” and “upper” stages of socialism, defined “socialism” as a transitional stage between capitalism and communism.

Capitalism is an economic and social system in which capital, the non-labor factors of production, is privately controlled; labor,   goods and capital are traded in markets; and profits  distributed to owners or invested in technologies and industries. There is no consensus on capitalism nor how it should be used as an analytical category. There are a variety of historical cases over which it is applied, varying in time, geography, politics and culture. Economists and historians have taken different perspectives on the analysis of capitalism. Scholars in the social sciences, including historians, economic sociologists, economists, anthropologists and philosophers have debated over how to define capitalism, however there is little controversy that private ownership of the means of production, creation of goods or services for profit in a market, and prices and wages are elements of capitalism. Economists usually put emphasis on the marketmechanism, degree of government control over markets, and property rights, while most political economists emphasize private property, power, relations, wage labor, and class.  The extent to which different markets are “free”, as well as the rules determining what may and may not be private property, is a matter of politics and policy and many states have what are termed “mixed economies”.

Corporatism is related to the sociological concept of structural functionalism. Corporate social interaction is common within related groups.  Corporatism, also known as corporativism, is a system of economic, political, or social organization that views a community as a body.  Formal corporatist models are based upon the contract of corporate groups such as agricultural, business, ethnic, military, scientific, or religious affiliations, into a collective body. One of the most prominent forms of corporatism is economic triparism involving negotiations between business, labour, and state interest groups to set economic policy. In contemporary usage, “corporatism” is often incorrectly used as a pejorative term against the domination of politics by the interests of private business corporations; however, such a system would be more accurately described as a form of corporatocracy. Corporatocracy (or corpocracy) is a form of government where corporations/conglomerates and/or government entities with private components, control the direction and governance of a country. Corporatist views of community and social interaction are common in many major world religions and Corporatism has been utilized by many ideologies across the political spectrum including; absolutism, capitalism, socialism, fascism, social democracy, conservatism and liberalism.  Meanwhile, the concept of corpocracy allows corporations to provide financial support to competing political parties and major political party candidates.  This allows the corporations to hedge their bets on the outcome of an election so that they are assured to have a winner who is indebted to them. As politicians are increasingly dependent on campaign contributions to become elected, their objectiveness on issues which concern corporate interests is compromised.

Realism is based on thoughts/deductions from the exercise of using common logic when studying real situations.  Direct realists might claim that indirect realists are confused about conventional idioms such as indirect perception.  An example of indirect perception is the media.   Optimism is defined as ” having hopefulness and confidence about the future or successful outcome of something; a tendency to take a favorable or hopeful view.” Pessimism is the opposite of optimism and is a state of mind that sees everything in a negative light.  The most common known example of optimism v/s pessimism is the age old question “Is the glass half full or half empty?”  Depending on one’s answer, it was decided if one was pessimistic or optimistic.  Obviously, the one who sees the glass as half full is optimistic while the one who sees it as half empty is pessimistic.  But, what about the one who simply sees 4 oz of liquid in a 8 oz glass? That is a realist! While optomists see things in an positive light and pessimists see things in negative light, the mildly discontented grey area in between in fact reflects the most accurate perception of reality.

“Pigs (3 different ones)” is track 3 on the Animals album, a concept album by Pink Floyd based on the fiction novel Animal Farm by George Orwell which tells the tale of farm animals rebelling against humans to form a social system called “animalism”.  In the preface of a 1947  edition of Animal Farm Orwell explained how escaping the communist purges in Spain taught him “how easily totalitarian propaganda can control the opinion of enlightened people in democratic countries.” In that preface Orwell also described what gave him the idea of setting the book on a farm by stating; “I saw a little boy, perhaps ten years old, driving a huge carthorse along a narrow path, whipping it whenever it tried to turn. It struck me that if only such animals became aware of their strength we should have no power over them, and that men exploit animals in much the same way as the rich exploit the proletariat.”

lyrics to “Pigs (3 different ones)”
Big man, pig man
Ha, ha, charade you are
You well heeled big wheel
Ha, ha, charade you are
And when your hand is on your heart
You’re nearly a good laugh
Almost a joker
With your head down in the pig bin
Saying ‘Keep on digging’
Pig stain on your fat chin
What do you hope to find
Down in the pig mine?
You’re nearly a laugh
You’re nearly a laugh
But you’re really a cry

Bus stop rat bag
Ha, ha, charade you are
You fucked up old hag
Ha, ha, charade you are
You radiate cold shafts of broken glass
You’re nearly a good laugh
Almost worth a quick grin
You like the feel of steel
You’re hot stuff with a hatpin
And good fun with a hand gun
You’re nearly a laugh
You’re nearly a laugh
But you’re really a cry

Hey you, Whitehouse
Ha, ha, charade you are
You house proud town mouse
Ha, ha, charade you are
You’re trying to keep our feelings off the street
You’re nearly a real treat
All tight lips and cold feet
And do you feel abused?
You got to stem the evil tide
And keep it all on the inside
Mary you’re nearly a treat
Mary you’re nearly a treat
But you’re really a cry


“People misinterpret my passion for anger”

6 03 2011

Charlie Sheen was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.  He never had to worry about anything or want for anything.  He was given free reign at birth to do whatever he pleased.  Today, he blames his father (who basically gave him that silver spoon and freedom) for his wreck of a life.  Is that wrong? In some ways, not so much.  If you have lived your entire life doing as you please, no matter how bad it may be, and not suffered any real consequences then why not? Sure, this path of destruction began with the freedom of being a rich, spoiled, Hollywood son but in his adult life is his father really still to blame? Well, being so spoiled in his youth was the groundwork for not having to mature and deal with reality but how has he evaded reality in his adult life? He has done things many common men would still be sitting in a jail cell over, yet Charlie Sheen has never had to do so.  Our legal system has continued to polish the silver spoon forever planted in his mouth by continuing to allow him to avoid the consequences of his actions simply because he’s a rich celebrity who can afford to buy his way out of any situation he may find himself in.  His only real consequences have been that he is under the media microscope.  Is he crazy? Maybe not.  If I had such a silver spoon in my mouth and a microscope over my actions, perhaps I too would be beyond obnoxious.  It only seems logical.  Why are we so shocked? I’m not.  I love it.  I think he’s spitting in the faces of all the fools who enabled him.  He really is winning… at least for now.  Even though there are no legal consequences for his actions that we’ve really seen, I do believe there will be some health issues in his future.  There probably already are and we just don’t know it yet.  But, while we all sit back and enjoy the showing of Charlie’s melt down  there are bigger questions left unanswered.

For instance, why is this man’s moronic behavior headline news when so many other things are going on in this world that are far more worthy of our attention? Is this part of the media’s game as they work closely with our favorite Uncle Sam to distract us from real news?  Is Charlie Sheen’s decline really more important to our daily lives than the unraveling of the middle east, the raping of the middle class American or the push to continually feed racism? Is Charlie Sheen an optimal candidate for the destruction of his name because he was once on the front lines fighting against our government with his support of the 911 conspiracy?

Granted, the government didn’t drive him to the ultimate insanity that we are eating up daily but in all seriousness, he’s 1 in a million… a million egotistical addicts who think they are winning.  He’s really not that different than anyone else.  He got paid over a million per episode of “Two & ½ Men”.  Nearly 200 episodes have aired in 7 years.  That’s a butt load of cash.  Do you really think you’d be the same person you are today if you had that kind of cash? Seriously? Ok, well you can lie to me if you want but don’t lie to yourself.  Personally, I have a bit of a demanding nature and if I was worth over 200 million I think I’d be a raging bitch.  I probably wouldn’t do any of the hard drugs but I’d try like hell to keep up with my new friends in the Hollywood scene.  I guess I’d be drinking a lot of Starbucks Double Shots to stay up, maybe shooting up some B12 and such.  I’d be the healthy freak.  I can’t deny that if I got interviewed I wouldn’t go out on a limb and say some crazy shit like “I’m high on Susan Monti” because…well, frankly I would be.  I always like to joke and be sarcastic though, and having the world as my audience would probably fuel my fire beyond description.  Being obnoxious is fun, but us regular folks can’t get away with it the way a celebrity can.  Money really is a God.  With money comes freedom, power, immediate gratification, and so many things us regular folks can’t acquire.  I’m sure having millions upon millions of dollars is quite the high in itself and spending it any way you like is probably pretty addictive.

I’m only human.  I’m enjoying the Charlie Sheen show just as much as everyone else.  I’m in no position to judge anyone, especially if I’ve never been ‘in their shoes’.  I can say, in my current pair of shoes, what I’d do if I were worth millions and it would be sharing with everyone I love, traveling, raising awareness on the causes that matter most to me and donating to them, and more of that kind of stuff.  And, of course, having a good time all the time.  I can also honestly say, I’ve never wanted to be a celebrity.  Truly.  Now, of course I’d like to be rich but there’s only so much money you can spend in a lifetime and even though it can buy a lot of fabulous stuff, it can never buy true love.  I would be happy if I was in a financial position where I and those I love would never have to do without anything we needed.  My dream has always been to write a best seller and be known for that.  When that happens, then I will be winning.

Anyway, in all of my recent viewings of Charlie’s chattering I have to say my favorite quote is “People misinterpret my passion for anger”. Oh come on, who hasn’t felt that way?

Have a great Saturday night everyone & be as obnoxious as you can afford to be

Thinking outside the bun

11 10 2010

Tom cooked a feast of beef ribs, sautéed with veggies in a golden sauce over rice… with a side of southern style corn and asparagus salad.  Served with a refreshing coca-cola.  It was nice.  We don’t eat many dinners together because of our conflicting schedules.  Now, I can’t quite remember how it came about but I think I was referring to the dogs when I said “Flash always gets the ‘shit end of the stick’ when I throw them scraps of food” (because Jackie is just much faster). Anyway, this spawned a conversation about where the saying “Shit end of the stick” comes from.  I know where I got it from (and she’ll beat me if she reads this, but … ) it was something my mom always said and it stuck with me.   So, over our fine dining we tried to derive where the phrase originated.  We both agreed that it probably stems from olden days when there wasn’t really any sewerage or flushing of toilets as we are so spoiled by today and that probably you had to dispose of shit by somehow shoving it down a hole with a stick …  therefore, occasionally you’d goof up and grab the “shit end of the stick”.  Well, needless to say we were wrong, but it made for fun conversation over fine dining, don’t you think?
Well, much to our disappointment, The proper saying is “Short end of the stick” or “Wrong end of the stick”… even though my mom’s version is much more fun … but here’s what I learned:
This expression refers to a walking stick held upside down, which does not help a walker much. It originated in the 1400s as “worse end of the staff” and changed to the current wording only in the late 1800s. Also see “Short end of the stick”.  The inferior part, the worse side of an unequal deal. For example, ‘Helen got the short end of the stick when she was assigned another week of night duty.’ The precise analogy in this term, first recorded in the 1930s, has been lost. Some believe it comes from worse end of the staff, used since the early 1500s, which in the mid-1800s  became, in some instances, short end of the stick.
-From The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms_(1997) by Christine Ammer
And, of course, all this fun talk of food and poop reminded me of yet another time these 2 very different objects were intertwined in my life…
In the early 90’s I was struggling financially, but I loved my job and all of the people I worked with. We had been in business for at least four years together and all employees were there from the grand opening and throughout. We were a tight knit family who had grown to know each other very well over the years. The business was growing and we had to make room for new employees. We hired a new guy in the sales office and a couple of guys for the operations department. I chose the guys for operations and both were very good friends of mine, so they fit right in. The new guy in sales, John, was also new to the area. Though he was a stranger, our family extended a warm welcome and strived to have him fit in as well. John was very different, however. He always seemed kind of shady and we all struggled with accepting him, even though we all gave it an honest effort. He was a heavy set man and dressed rather frumpy. His jokes were bad and he was very weak with customer service. Anyway, as I said, this was a time of financial struggle in my life. One of my biggest struggles was the fact that I absolutely loved to fine dine and couldn’t afford to. I loved to feast for breakfast, lunch and dinner … but unfortunately, I couldn’t afford most of my expensive feasts. So, I trained myself to eat a small breakfast, but have a large lunch. Lunch meant more to me than any other meal. I always went all out for lunch. I would have steak lunches with baked potatoes, steamed veggies, bread and salad or something equally as extravagant daily. I decided I would force myself to eat half of my meal at lunch and then take the other half home for dinner. It was working out well, and I was saving money. I had been practicing this concept for a few months before our new associates had joined the team. I would simply place the other half of my meal, stored in to-go boxes, in the break room fridge to retrieve later before going home from a hard day’s work. Not long after we had the new associates join our staff, I started noticing that my to-go boxes were being ravished. It wasn’t a small ravishing either. I would open a box when I got home to find only the fat from the steak trimmed off and left behind with maybe one sprig of broccoli, 1 salad cruton and teeth marks left on my piece of bread and such. This was happening almost daily. I was infuriated by this. I complained several times around the office, making very clear that I did not appreciate someone consistently stealing my food and that I could not afford it as well as it was a very rude thing to do. I went to my boss about it several times and he said I was overreacting, maybe the thief needed the food more than me. I began leaving notes with my lunches that said things like “Please don’t eat this, I can’t afford to feed you and me”, but the culprit would simply move my note aside and eat my food. I suppose the straw that broke the camel’s back (another great saying) was the day I went to my favorite Mexican restaurant and ordered quesadillas. This was one of my favorite things to eat. They come in the shape of a half circle and are stuffed with chicken, cheese, sour cream and all sorts of goodness. I remember my joy of having a full, beautiful and delicious quesadilla saved for my dinner. I thought about it all day long. I really struggled during lunch not to eat the 2nd quesadilla. It weighed heavy on my mind … oh, the melted cheese swirling in rich sour cream, with savory shreds of perfectly seasoned chicken breast … it called my name all afternoon, but I refrained. When 5 o’clock struck, I rushed to the kitchen to snatch up my to-go box. Then I froze, what if someone had eaten it again? What if I was about to get screwed out of my dream dinner? Slowly I opened the box … and there I found … the quesadilla, almost completely eaten. The bastard had eaten it from the straight edge all the way to the round outer edge, leaving me just about a half inch frame work of nothing but fajita dough with disgusting teeth marks all around it. All the cheesy, creamy and chickeny goodness was gone. After blasting a slew of obscenities and storming out of the kitchen with my useless to go box, I threw it on the passenger seat of my car and drove home on fire with a rage and desire for revenge.
I stewed for about one week. I continued to eat lunches for several days and have the remains stolen from me. But, I quit reacting and just took the pitiful boxes of raped left-overs home with me. The fact that I had quit reacting should’ve been a sure sign to take cover, but that gluttonous bastard didn’t catch a clue from it. The following Friday, instead of feasting on a delicious meal, I went to the drive-thru at Taco bell.  I ordered 2 burritos and 2 sides of pinto beans with cheese and sour cream.  I went home and ate one of each, then I took the two extras and began my project.  Carefully I unwrapped the second burrito and unfolded the flour tortilla, scooping out the center of beef and beany goodness and refilling it with several turds from my cat’s litter box … dotted nicely with pebbles of litter.  I re-folded the tortilla and placed the newly designed burrito in a Styrofoam box from my favorite Mexican restaurant.  I then put a small clump of cat pee infested litter beside it and gently scooped the pinto beans on top, keeping the sweet dallop of sour cream on top.  I placed a decorative piece of parsley between the two fancified items and closed the lid.  I returned to the office and put the surprise to-go box in the fridge.  As the day progressed I was overcome with excitement to check the box, but I refrained.  By 4:30, I could no longer resist.  I went to the box, and sure enough, he had eaten more than half of the burrito.  Without a word, I penned a note and stuck it on top of the box that read “I was really looking forward to eating that cat shit burrito, but once again you stole my food.  I hope you enjoyed eating my cat’s shit, asshole!”  He never ate my lunch again.  Ironically, a couple of months later he was caught stealing from the company.  I guess shit eating John couldn’t get enough of his cake and eating it too. (I know, I’m just full of catch phrases this evening!)
And now, just for fun.  If you’ve never tried this, it’s a must.  We made this cake for a friend of ours who is a real cat lover.  It’s kitty litter cake.  Here’s a picture of the cake we made below with the recipe.  Believe it or not, this cake tastes freakin’ awesome and it’s very easy to make.


  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package German chocolate cake mix
  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package white cake mix
  • 2 (3.5 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 (12 ounce) package vanilla sandwich cookies
  • 3 drops green food coloring
  • 1 (12 ounce) package tootsie rolls


  1. Prepare cake mixes and bake according to package directions (any size pan).
  2. Prepare pudding according to package directions and chill until ready to assemble.
  3. Crumble sandwich cookies in small batches in a food processor, scraping often. Set aside all but 1/4 cup. To the 1/4 cup add a few drops of green food coloring and mix.
  4. When cakes are cooled to room temperature, crumble them into a large bowl. Toss with 1/2 of the remaining cookie crumbs, and the chilled pudding. You probably won’t need all of the pudding, you want the cake to be just moist, not soggy.
  5. Line kitty litter box with the kitty litter liner. Put cake mixture into box.
  6. Put half of the unwrapped tootsie rolls in a microwave safe dish and heat until softened. Shape the ends so that they are no longer blunt, and curve the tootsie rolls slightly. Bury tootsie rolls randomly in the cake and sprinkle with half of the remaining cookie crumbs. Sprinkle a small amount of the green colored cookie crumbs lightly over the top.
  7. Heat 3 or 4 of the tootsie rolls in the microwave until almost melted. Scrape them on top of the cake and sprinkle lightly with some of the green cookie crumbs. Heat the remaining tootsie rolls until pliable and shape as before. Spread all but one randomly over top of cake mixture. Sprinkle with any remaining cookie crumbs. Hang the remaining tootsie roll over side of litter box and sprinkle with a few green cookie crumbs. Serve with the pooper scooper.

See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil…

23 05 2010

You have just been offered at job earning TEN TIMES your current pay rate working for a major corporation that has been successful for over 50 years and continues to be successful.  You don’t have to relocate or change very many aspects of your life.  Would you accept?
Ok, your new job is working for Acme Cigarette Co.  You will be part of their marketing team.  In doing so, you have to start smoking.  That’s right, you HAVE TO.  Acme carries two types of cigarettes… Full Strength or Lights.  You are allowed to choose between the two, but you must start smoking one of the two in order to get paid.  While smoking is always dangerous, of course, the lighter cigarettes are slightly less dangerous.  The lights have 10% less chemical additives.  But, that’s really irrelevant.
So, you choose the lights.
You work for Acme for 10 years before you get laid off, but you get a nice severance package that buys you an additional 5 years to obtain a new career.
In the first two years, you find out you have lung cancer because of the chemical additives in those cigarettes.  It isn’t 10% lighter than the cancer you would’ve gotten from the full strength cigarettes because … well, chemical additives are chemical additives, right? So… smoking is smoking, cancer is cancer, toxins are toxins… But, you’re shocked because Acme never told you this could happen.  Any time you questioned your health, they would simply show you a mirror and ask you if you looked unhealthy? Well, due to the fact that lung cancer isn’t externally visible… this was easy to dismiss, right? Acme would reinforce it by telling you how healthy you look, and how great you look puffing on that light cigarette. But, when you would have respiratory issues … maybe a cough or trouble breathing, Acme was able to prove to you that there is no direct link to smoking and it cannot be proven that your respiratory problems are connected.  Period.
If you can’t see the problem, it isn’t there.
Lies are lies.
British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig was drilling in dangerous territory under dangerous circumstances.  Safety issues and red flags were ignored in order to meet the bottom line.  An irreversible, horrible incident occurred taking the lives of 11 rig employees and creating the largest (man made) ecological disaster in US history.  For over a month today, oil has been gushing from gaping holes in the Earth and filling the Gulf of Mexico.  But, many find this easy to over look because much of the oil is not visible.  Despite the fact that this disaster has already eclipsed 1989’s Exxon Valdez oil disaster times 8, BP has hidden many of the facts from the public regarding the damages that have already occurred and continue to occur, as well as the what the future holds.  The truth is, the future is really questionable even by scientists as to just how bad this could turn out to be for the Gulf Coast, the nation and the world ecologically and economically.  But, one thing for sure, BP has not only hidden the facts but the oil as well.  How do you hide a huge amount of oil that has gushed millions upon millions (upon more millions) of gallons into the waters? Chemical dispersants is the answer! Currently, the Gulf has been using those full strength dispersants and the cancer has only started to grow but now the EPA is questioning why full strength and not lights? Lights are so much better, right? So, they’re being forced to switch to a “safer” chemical dispersant to continue to break up the oil and push it to the ocean floor.
Years from now the hidden cancer that we couldn’t see will be revealed.  Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
Just like, if you took that job and discovered you had cancer later on … it would be too little too late.  And, if you found out that cancer was terminal, all the money you could sue Acme for wouldn’t make a bit of difference, would it?



Understanding Fossil Fuel

22 05 2010

With all this chatter about global warming, being green, energy sources and the spewing oil nightmare that is rocking the nation I thought I’d give myself a little assignment.  I thought not only would I educate myself, but some of you too.  In all seriousness, when you are fueling up your gas tank do you ever consider the life history of where that fuel came from? Was it really once a dinosaur?
What is fossil fuel?
Fuel that was formed through anaerobic digestion of microorganisms in the earth from prehistoric times which break down into biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen from remains of living-cell organisms.  Some commonly known fossil fuels are oil, coal and natural gas or their by-products (such as petroleum).  The age of the organisms and their resulting fossil fuels is typically millions of years, and sometimes exceeds 650 million years.  Fossil fuels range from volatile materials with low carbon:hydrogen ratios like methane, to liquid petroleum to nonvolatile materials composed of almost pure carbon like coal.  Because they take millions of years to form, fossil fuels are a non-renewable energy source and are being depleted much faster than new ones are being formed.  Fossil fuels are of great importance because they can be burned, producing significant amounts of energy. (To read a more detailed explanation of fossil fuel, go here: )
When did man begin to use it as an energy source?
Fossil fuels have been used since cavemen discovered how to burn peat (decayed plant materials that have not reached the coal stage) or coal for heat. Plutarch, a Greek historian, wrote about the “external fires” in the area of present day Iraq. These fires were probably caused by natural gas that was seeping through cracks in the ground and ignited by lightning. Alexander the Great burned petroleum to scare the war elephants of his enemies. The Egyptians used asphalt, a derivative of petroleum, to preserve human remains. Coal was discovered by explorers in 1673, but it was not mined commercially until the 1740’s in Virginia. Before then, coal had been used by the Hopi Indians in the 1300’s for heating and cooking. However, prior to the latter half of the eighteenth century, windmills or watermills provided the energy needed for industry such as milling flour, sawing wood in mills, or pumping water.  Burning wood provided domestic heat.  The wide-scale use of fossil fuels (coal at first and petroleum later) to fire steam engines (to perform mechanical work using steam as it’s working fluid) enabled the Industrial Revolution[1].  Also during this time, sources for light were using natural gas or coal gas derived from fossil fuels.  Natural gas was first sought commercially in 1821, when William A. Hart[2] drilled a 27 foot deep well in Fredonia, NY, to get a larger flow of gas from a naturally occurring surface seepage. This natural gas was sent through wooden pipes to nearby homes for lighting. The wooden pipes allowed some gas to escape and was not an effective way to send natural gas long distances. It was more than 100 years before an efficient distribution system allowed natural gas to be sent long distances to homes, factories, and businesses. In 1859, Edwin L. Drake[3] began the modern day petroleum industry in Titusville, Pennsylvania, when he drilled a 69 foot deep well and discovered crude oil. The crude oil that was obtained from this well was used to form kerosene to use in lamps for illumination and to form grease for machinery. The invention of the internal combustion engine, also during the mid 1850’s, greatly increased the demand for gasoline and diesel (both fossil fuels) thus creating a huge demand for such fossil fuels in the transportation industry for automobiles, trains and aircrafts.  Major use for fossil fuels became the use of generating electricity and, of course, the petrochemical industry.  Also tar, a leftover of petroleum extraction, is used in road construction.  “The capital fact to note is that petroleum was born in the depths of the Earth, and it is only there that we must seek its origin.”-Dmitri Mendeleev, 1877[4]
What are the pros of using fossil fuels?
The main reason behind the immense popularity of fossil fuels is that combustion of fossil fuels generates a large amount of usable energy and they are considered high efficiency fuels.
The pros of using fossils fuels begin with the benefit of increased income for our country’s economy. The sale of fossil fuels involves much more than simply providing a finished fuel product to a buyer. A long list of businesses exists along the supply chain employing millions of people. Mining fossil fuels here in the U.S. also helps our country in avoiding dependency on foreign energy supplies.  Another pro is that it is really is easy to transport fossil fuels in liquid, gas or solid form. The cheap cost of fossil fuels tops the list of pros. In addition, technology currently exists to use fossil fuels, which makes their use immediate. The cost of obtaining and using fossil fuels may become an issue in the future, however, currently large deposits of oil, natural gas and coal are available.
What are the cons?
Some studies show that with combustion of fossil fuels, large amount of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. In the atmosphere, it absorbs heat and contributes towards the green house effect. However, other studies disagree with this concept.  Cons include both the limited supplies of fossil fuels and the fact that no fossil fuel can be recycled. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, fossil fuel use accounts for 85 percent of total energy use. To continue at our current rate of consumption, suppliers must tap existing and new reserves of fossil fuels. Excavating and oil drilling are dangerous and expensive endeavors requiring long-term planning and research. The biggest disadvantage lies in the fact fossil fuels are only housed deep within the earth’s surface, making acquisition a difficult task. Cons can also include the cost of advancing technology to use fossil fuels more efficiently as well as reduce the acquisition impact on the environment. Both require extensive research to develop new techniques for extraction of fossil fuels. Extraction is expected to become even more dangerous as mining gets deeper and farther out in the ocean.  Also, extraction of fossil fuels is harmful to the environment in numerous ways ecologically as well as some of the gasses produced in the burning of these fuels creating pollution.
What are the alternatives?
The renewed interest in alternative energy sources is steadily gaining popularity as people become more aware of the globally damaging effects of the extraction and use of fossil fuels.  Though it would be nearly impossible for mankind to completely stop the use of fossil fuels, we can use other renewable energy sources and work toward preserving the longevity of fossil fuels for more necessary uses.  In doing so, we can also help to better the environment and possibly save lives of plants, animals and human beings too!
Solar powered energy is a great idea and one of the most resourceful sources of renewable energy available today.  Solar energy, radiant heat and light from the sun, has been harnessed by humans since ancient times.  Unfortunately, today only a small fraction of solar energy available is actually used. The ways for people to obtain solar power in most cases is unaffordable or not very easily obtained.  Now is the time for our government to step up to the plate and make this resource easily available to the people.  There comes a time when greed and the desire for capital gain must be put aside in order to ultimately save the planet before there is nothing left to fight for or fight over any more, right? Why are we ignoring a free, natural and renewable energy sources? The creation and maintenance of solar panels would generate employment in place of the employment lost as well as income.  Of course, solar power would depend on the weather which may cause complications.  In my opinion it could be used as a primary source in a household for powering appliances with fossil fuels as a secondary source or back up should the solar energy fail for some reason.
Wind is another natural and renewable source of energy which also relies on the weather (more than solar powered energy), but through the use of windmills producing energy we can avoid damaging the environment using this as an energy source for some smaller necessities.  The fins of a windmill rotate in a vertical plane which is kept perpendicular to the wind by means of a tail fin.  On average, the power that can be produced when an wind mill is facing the wind of about 10mph is around 50 watts.
As we know, in the past water was often used as an energy source.  It’s a relatively simple concept, but can be slightly expensive to achieve today in order to meet modern energy needs/standards.  Hydroelectricity comes from the damming of rivers using the potential energy stored in the water.  As the stored water is released at a high pressure, it’s kinetic energy is transferred onto turbine blades and used to generate electricity.  While this system does have enormous costs up front, it is relatively low maintenance and provides power quite cheaply.  Again, this would provide employment and income in the construction and maintenance of the dams and turbines.  Once again, I am made aware of the greed involved in the industry of power production when I learn that in the U.S. an estimated 180,000 MW of hydroelectric power potential is available but only about 1/3 of that is being harnessed.  (Learn more about renewable energy resources here: )
The alternatives are plentiful and the desire to use them should be too! Cars fueled by renewable sources such as lard or water have been in existence for decades, but not approved for market sales.  Why? Geothermal energy uses the heat of the earth and while it does require excavation, the process is much simpler and safer than the extraction of fossil fuels.   Why are these alternatives not being used? What will it take to activate the use of renewable energy? A disaster?




Don’t believe the hype

7 05 2010

There are a couple of important items I’d like for you to take into consideration here.  I’d first like to clarify that I am a citizen of the Gulf South who is and will continue to be directly affected in a negative way by the BP Oil Spill here in the Gulf of Mexico.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you must be living under a rock on another planet, but here’s a video that should enlighten you.  If you do know what I’m talking about, skip the video & move on…

Now, it’s easy to point the finger and blame the oil industry and bad mouth and fight to put an end to drilling systems like this one that failed, but let’s look at the big picture here…
Yes, there are options … One option is to shut down the drilling for oil in the USA and hug trees and be happy whilst paying $5.00 per gallon of gasoline to get to and from wherever it is you need to travel in this already economically crippled nation, which in turn will be more crippling when foreign fuel becomes our prominent source of fuel.  Another is to give up the use of vehicles all together  (which is an even more environmentally brilliant plan) and walk or bicycle or ride horseback everywhere you need to travel and save lots of money and hug lots of trees along your journeys.  You can leave home a few hours before your estimated arrival time and you should be able to handle it.  Or, we can all be realistic and face the fact that drilling for oil in the US is a necessity and while this recent incident is incredibly horrible and destructive in countless ways, it would only be worse on this entire country to end drilling for oil here.  Tree huggers will then ask me why? Why??? Especially as my homeland takes the brunt of this horrible ecologically damaging incident!?!? I’ll tell you why! Jobs for one.  Think of the millions of jobs lost in a country that already is at an all time unemployment high with zero jobs available.  Fuel cost is another reason, and I think I made that abundantly clear in the beginning of this paragraph.  I, personally drive 35 miles one way to work every day and (though I do have an extremely fuel efficient vehicle) I do not earn enough money to support an increase to an estimated $5 per gallon of gasoline.  I suspect not many people can.  I also suspect that people are already struggling to hold on to their jobs and already can barely afford to get to them in some cases.  I consider myself fortunate right now because I’m average.  I earn average pay (I used to earn above average pay before the economy and job markets went to shit here in the last few years).  So, let’s look at other options.  First of all, for many years other forms of fuel have existed that would be cheaper and better for the environment, however the government has purposefully ignored these options because the oil industry is big money.  Maybe now is the time to explore those options and consider making them available to the general public at a reasonable price.  Producing these other means of fuel enables jobs and a better economy, let alone it is better for the environment.  It just seems a little too logical, doesn’t it? Second of all, if we chose to ignore that option and continue to use fuel as is … should we really rely on foreign countries to supply it? I mean, that is nearly suicidal for America, don’t you think? Do I even have to explain why? If I do, then you have been doing more than hugging trees and perhaps you’ve eaten too many of the mushrooms growing below those trees!
Listen, the human race is very spoiled … well, maybe not in third world countries but there is a vast majority of human beings that are far too spoiled to give up conveniences such as driving OR electricity.  And that’s another item I’d like to discuss here.
Simply stated, when you lose electricity you lose light, heating or cooling, refridgeration, and other great spoils that come with that magical power that flows into your home spoiling you in ways your ancestors never dreamed of.  Currently, coal-burning plants provide over half of the electricity generated in the US.  Coal is abundant and cheap.  Wind and solar energy is neither.  By comparison, these alternate methods are costly and unreliable and also require less man power which equals less employment.  The US is home to huge reserves of coal and oil.  Renewable energy currently represents about 1% of all the energy produced nationwide.  If it weren’t for massive amounts of government cash there would be little or no renewable energy.  Tree huggers really hate these fuels we use to maintain our economy and our lifestyle, but in the privacy of their homes they are enjoying them … trust me.  So, all these ignorant people who preach the well being of the environment open the door for much larger issues that they are too blind to focus on, for instance the Cap & Trade Legislation.  Let’s look at purpose of this legislation for what it really is, a control issue (Similar to controlling our health care, our banking, our industry and so on).  The Cap & Trade Legislation will boost the cost of coal to unreasonable rates while claiming that it generates “greenhouse gas” bringing global warming even closer.  Please!!!! Hasn’t anyone caught on to the fact that global warming is a farce yet? And besides, the greenhouse gasses include carbon dioxide … you know that stuff that’s vital to all plant life on Earth.  Now, those of us who this all of this my way (the right way) will be spat at and called naïve by tree huggers, the media, and government officials but let me be frank with you here; there is no such thing as “Natural Capitalism”.  There is just capitalism.  Period.  Capitalism operates on the basis of profit … need I say more? I certainly hope you aren’t someone who’s purchased “carbon credits” in the midst of all this nonsense.  If so, I’m sorry … not sure how you’ll be cashing those in or how they’re going to pay off for you, so maybe you should just hug a tree or something…
Listen, I’m really not trying to be ugly.  If you think I don’t care about the environment, you’re very wrong.  Ever since the great oil catastrophe struck right outside my back door basically, I’ve been somewhat hysterical.  I think it could’ve been prevented … not by avoiding oil drilling in the Gulf but by better safety measures that were studied, engineered and so fourth after the (similar) Exxon-Valdez incident 20 years ago.   Heck, they are still dealing with the aftermath … just as we will be here probably 20 years later.  All I can hope, as my area is completely destroyed economically and ecologically, is that this time they learn something from this and are more prepared.  But, I don’t hope this puts an end to oil drilling in the US.  We here in the Gulf South have a lot at stake.  We’ve already suffered a tremendous blow with Hurricane Katrina crippling us and setting us back nearly a decade for recovery.  Now, our two main sources of income; seafood and tourism are severely damaged and facing the possibility of complete destruction (depending on how quickly they can solve this horrible underwater oil spewing mess and the thousands upon thousands of gallons erupting from it on an hourly basis).  Not only that, but very special and unique wildlife is threatened by extinction all because of this.  BUT, realistically, having lost so much already … the people of this area cannot afford to also lose jobs by closing the oil industry here NOR can we afford for gasoline prices to spike up to outrageous heights in the midst of our already severely crippled economy!
Anyway, as I was saying … I don’t intend to be ugly or belittling to those who have so much faith in our government or the fight against global warming or anyone who wants to save the planet.  Hell! I want to save the planet.  I really do! But, there is little to no evidence that global warming even exists … or, “Climate Change” (the new, improved name for global warming since it was starting to become abundantly clear that the term “warming” wasn’t working).  It outrages me that my tax dollars are being spent on proving the existence of something that doesn’t exist (of course, my tax dollars are spent on a lot of shit that outrages me).  For years, scientists that were skeptical about global warming were scoffed at and labeled as evil, Earth-hating monsters.  Turns out they were right to be skeptical, and in fact should’ve been more skeptical.  Not only should they have been questioning global warming, but also the scientists who supported the concept.  The scientific community has been profiting from huge grants and political power growth by propagating fear of extinction and global warming.  The media loves the global warming lie and the media is the backbone that pushes our nation toward a (dare I say) “Natural Capitalism”.  I wonder what term will be used to candy coat the capitalism.  It will have to be comparable to other great terms like “politically correct” and “diversity”.  I can hardly wait.  I’d like to be the owner of the advertising agency to come up with the slogan for it.  I love big money too.  I mean, come on … don’t you?
For that matter, I’d like a high ranking position in the “carbon credit” biz.  I mean, whole industries (like the automobile manufacturing industry, the oil industry…etc…)were required to buy these magical credits to offset their use of “fossil fuels”.  I’d really like to know how that works.  I mean, how does money change the effects? Seriously!?!?! For the love of God, make me understand how credit will help the environment.  How does the fact that I buy credit from you so that I can continue to do an act that is damaging to the environment help the environment? How does this make sense? But, big money in forcing people to do so none the less … and from what I gather, you can spend more to gain the rights to do more to create more damage.  Of course, it’s not worded that way exactly, but that is what it boils down to.  Brilliant!!! Brilliant indeed!!!!!!  And here’s an interesting tid bit; There were 3 major corporations who battled the climate change fraud which included none other than BP … yes, BP the very corporation who’s rig just sank in the Gulf of Mexico creating this disasterous tragedy we speak of.  Coincidental, isn’t it? But, it is essential to understand that the Cap & Trade Legislation (passed by the house and pending a senate vote last I checked) is based on false reports and threats by the EPA to begin regulating carbon dioxide emissions that has no legitimate basis in science.  Global warming a.k.a. Climate Change has no real basis for any law or expenditure of public funding as it no longer exists really.  It’s far past the time media should continue to refer to it as anything other than fraud.
So, people I implore you, think for yourselves and don’t be mislead.  Hold on to your freedoms and don’t be fooled by candy coated name games for “natural capitalism” or just plain capitalism.  Yes, coal mining is dangerous business … but it doesn’t have to be.  Just like oil drilling is dangerous business but doesn’t have to be.  Foreign suppliers and big taxes take away from our economy in more ways than one.  How great do we want this depression to get? Seriously! Do your homework & think for yourselves!

Up in the air

31 03 2010

As a child, I used to always refer to clouds as “mashed potatoes in the sky” because that’s how they looked to me.  As I type this, I’m flying above the mashed potatoes and I have to say they really still look like that to me.  But what a beautiful sight they are!  Back in those days of lying on the ground with my mother, dreaming up shapes together as we gazed up at the clouds I never would’ve dreamed it possible to be looking down on them.  That seems like such a long time ago, and then it seems like yesterday.  Now I’ve flown over them many times.

Flying is not really special to me.  I’d trade it to be lying on the ground imagining with my mother any day.  But it’s an easy way to get from point a to point b I suppose.  One of the main things I don’t like about flying is the fact that I feel like my ears are going to burst out of my skull.  Today, surprisingly, I didn’t experience this discomfort… which is shocking and the first time I haven’t faced this issue.

I’m flying to Houston for business.  In some ways I’m excited and in others not.  The learning experience is a positive thing, but I guess I get homesick pretty easily.  I’ll be locked up in a hotel without transportation when not in class.  Maybe not homesick as much as bored really, as it’s a short trip.

Work has provided me with this lap top I’m using, of course the internet access is blocked.  So, basically I can type this, save it and post it someday.  In a way I’m just typing to pass the time as I travel from a to b.  When I’m not typing I’m staring out the window at mashed potatoes and getting hungry.  My Dad makes the best mashed potatoes on Earth! I wish I had some right now.  Instead I get a bag of 10 pretzels and an ounce of juice, or so it all seems anyway.  If I don’t type or stare out the window I get to look at the skymall catalog and see all the things I’ve always wanted and needed and never knew existed until I find them there.  Such amazing items in skymall.  Usually, after about 15 minutes of browsing I get frustrated because I can’t afford any of it.  Seems like everything I’ve always wanted and needed but never knew existed is very expensive.  Go figure.

The lady next to me is downing vodka.  I’m way too chicken to drink on a flight.  It’s not the flying part, it’s the airport.  I can get lost in my neighborhood… so I have to be 101% in an airport.  Airports really stress me out.  They’re loud and crowded and confusing and stressful.  Thank God I don’t have a layover on this flight.  I paid $200 extra to avoid it.  Actually, my company paid $200 extra so I can avoid it.  I hope they don’t mind.

Well, there’s only about 30 minutes left on this flight.  I hope it goes quickly.  We’re at 36,000 feet.  My head is starting to ache.  I’ll take this brief moment to tell you another flight tale before I close… enjoy…

It was March of ’97.  I was traveling to Savannah, Georgia to visit a friend in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.  It’s a pretty big deal out there.  It was a small passenger jet, rather old and somewhat rickety, but I wasn’t concerned.  I’ve flown on worse, and I know when it’s my time … well, then it will just be my time.  So, I don’t really sweat flying too much.  We had boarded the semi-crowded plane.  It wasn’t packed, but somewhat stuffy because it was so small.  I was comfortably nestled in my seat beside the window … well, as comfortable as one can get on a plane anyway.  I was gazing out on the runway, ready for action.

The plane was still boarding, slowly.  My new neighbor was guided to the seat beside me.  He was nervous and sweating.  He wore a plaid button down shirt, half tucked in and half out … slightly sloppy … with oversized kahki polyesther slacks.  He had on very thick glasses that he was persistently pushing up his sweaty nose, sort of like a nervous habit.  His salt and pepper hair looked as though it needed a good washing.  He carried an old brief case and a thick paperback novel.  He sat on the aisle seat, placing his briefcase on the seat between us.  I nodded and then looked back to the runway, with this gut feeling that making conversation would be a huge mistake.  He fastened and un-fastened his seatbelt a number of times.  The plane was still boarding.  You know the process, you sit on a plane for a good 30 minutes before they even begin the spill about safety and such.  I glanced over at my nervous neighbor uncontrollably.  He was cracking open his novel with an intent expression.  “Good,” I thought to myself, “He doesn’t want to make conversation either.”  I watched him, even though I didn’t want to … I just couldn’t resist it.  He led his fingertip across each line of the novel at the speed of light, as if he was reading in fast forward.  He had completed the novel before the plane had even finished boarding.  “Interesting,” I thought to myself and gazed back out to the runway.  I’m not one to judge, but it quickly occurred to me I was sitting beside a real basket case.  For a moment he rocked back and fourth in his seat, he picked up the novel then placed it back on the seat between us on top of the brief case.  He pushed his glasses up his nose a couple of times as he stared down at his belongings.  I continued to fight the urge to watch this man, but I just couldn’t resist I tell you! I suppose 20 minutes had passed.  20 minutes since I had boarded the plane, acquired this neighbor, and watched him read a complete novel.

And then it happened … he carefully pulled the brief case from the seat and meticulously placed the novel back in it’s place between us.  I was, of course, dying to know what contents were in this briefcase.  I pretended not to care, shuffling through my purse but with my eyes cut to the right so that I could spy on his personal property.  (Get ready for this because you are not going to believe me, but…) When he opened his brief case it revealed 2 ziplock bags and some packages of mayonnaise … and this was the ONLY contents!  I kid you not! One ziplock held a single slice of bologna and the other held 2 slices of white bread.  So, my neighbor proceeded to make a sandwich as the final passengers boarded the plane and the safety show began.  As the stewardess explained seat belts, gas masks and emergency exits my neighbor shoveled down his sandwich even faster than he could read a novel.  The only thing he was able to do faster than eat that sandwich was, of course, puking it out all over the seat between us.  Yes, that’s right … he didn’t opt for the courtesy barf bag so delicately placed in the seat pocket in front of him … he chose to spew out a hardly digested bologna sandwich right between us.

“Prepare for takeoff” is announced.  I call to the stewardess and point at the disgusting mess beside me.  “Excuse me,” I plead, “Can I move to another seat?” She shakes her head with a thoughtful smile and leads me to another seat before take off.