Friday, April 25, 2008

Civilization Costs $$

On Wednesday night in Seldovia a young man died in a motor vehicle accident. Details are sketchy as it is being investigated. Apparently alcohol was involved and stupid choices were made. The saddest part is he leaves behind an infant daughter, but it is tragic because IT SHOULDN'T HAVE HAPPENED.

Wednesday night we saw further illustration of the slow dismantling of this city. A demonstration of the fact we can’t provide ourselves with basic public safety.

Recently, the city of Seldovia placed our one and only law enforcement officer, Andy Anderson, on an administrative leave after some allegation were made against him. This left us with coverage from the troopers in Anchor Point. A 20 mile drive and an airplane ride away. Everyone in town knows that Andy is not available to be called out and the Troopers are not going to come over at 1 am to chase down a drunk kid on an ATV. This was the case, and he is dead.

Everyone has been stupid to some degree and it is obvious to everyone the young man and his friends were being stupid. Half the town was woken up as they were racing around in the middle of the night on these ATVs that are un-muffled, light-weight, high rpm, crotch rockets. They are built for racing, not transportation.

The community has traditionally had law enforcement in town. Then we didn’t. When we failed to have an officer available, it gave these individuals the opportunity to act out their “Grand Theft Auto” fantasies, and there was no re-start button. There has always been a contingent of people in Seldovia that think we don't need a full-time officer in town: too expensive, too much for such a little town. Now we have a bunch of traumatized EMT's, the kids that knew him are traumatized, another young man is under investigation and a baby does't have a father. Civilization costs, the wild west was a myth. A myth to sell you movie tickets, wars and guns. All folks that ascribe to the NRA bullshit about an armed populace is a polite populace, are idiots. It doesn’t work that way. Seldovia is pretty well armed and no one could, would stop him. The police should have stopped him.

The deterrence of just having someone who enforces the law (even if some Seldovians think he is arbitrary at times) cannot be underestimated. I suppose we are experiencing the difficulties of many of our Alaska villages. We have failed here and as a State, we are failing these villages.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Smug Alert!

Earth Day 2008.

Buy some solar panels and plug them in. It isn't really that complicated once you have it installed. I put up my meager 4 panels 12 years ago. I have a 1500 watt inverter, a charge controller, a little doohickey that I have forgotten what it's called (it reads my battery charge and lets me know when to charge with the generator.)
For the most part I have almost totally forgotten how it works. It maintains itself except for the charging with the generator and the battery maintenance. (I bought a more efficient diesel last year. I am never going back to gas. And I have changed the batteries 2 times.)

The main reason I am doing this is to not have a power bill, and that there aren't transmission line nearby. But now with H.E.A. pushing to fire up coal plants so they can energize the Pebble Mine, I don't want any part of that.

To be honest I am not sure how green all this is with the initial energy needed to produce the panels, the equipment and the batteries. And I do have to run a generator 6 months a year. But it makes me acutely aware of every amp I use (my family would say overbearing about every amp they use.) Before buying any electronic device I turn around and look at the power specs on the back prior to buying. (I made an exception for the kids Xbox, those thing are energy PIGS.) I try to buy efficiency and stuff that has a trickle charge to maintain setting, like most TV and radios, is out or a least unplugged when not being used. (In Europe, they have regulated out these little energy draws .)

I think that people living on the grid can easily be "greener" than what I am doing off the grid. I believe the environment will be "saved" not from small things we do individually,but the big changes that have to be made systemically. We can feel smug that we are reducing our impact, but really we have to put people in charge who see aren't placating us. I see movement to change things, but no real effort on the part of people in power.

I heard a commentator the other day talking about the credit and housing crisis and how back during the Depression, FDR would have Fireside Chats and explain to the American people what was wrong with the economy and how they were going to fix it. Now we get platitudes and denial. We need leadership. We need to immediately get the Republicans out of the White House. I miss President Gore.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Energy energy everywhere

The amount of corn it takes to produce 75 litres of ethanol -roughly a tank of fuel- is enough corn to feed one person on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet for a year.
I heard this on the NPR earlier this week and have been thinking it over it. There are many things I could do which, in the abstract, would end up feeding an entire Thai village. But the point that we are directly trading food for gas is powerful. Now that oil isn't cheap we are having to look to other sources of energy.
The United States has already lost the leadership it had in solar photovoltaics and wind, thanks to deep budget cuts by President Reagan and the Newt Gingrich-led Congress. By 2010, China will be the top manufacturer of photovoltaic cells and wind turbines. Must we also abandon our historical leadership in concentrated solar power to conservative doctrine? Other countries, particularly Spain but also Israel and Australia, are poised to be dominant. And China, which has already begun importing coal and pursuing CSP projects, will not be far behind. CSP could well be one of the major job-creating industries of the century.

Both these items resonate after I read the
book "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed" by Jared Diamond. The main point of the book is that the successful societies are the ones that remain adaptable, are efficient and can evolve quickly enough to match changes in the environment and social conditions. If you keep doing the same thing as your world is falling apart, then you fail.

"Doctrine" is holding us back, again. It isn't reality that is pushing energy and environmental policy in Washington, but a view of the way the world "should" be. "The the invisible hand of the free markets should shape the world. When solar energy is cost effective...." I think the invisible hand of Nature is going to slap the crap out of all of us, or maybe slowly squeeze the breathe out of us.

We all know that trying to find more hydrocarbon and using food for gas isn't going to fix the world's energy problems. It would be doing the same thing over and over even as we know it is bad for the long-term. But with a little foresight, looking at the facts, the science, we could make headway to solving both problems. It is going to require leadership and tough choices, but really quite an opportunity.

The current President thought being a "war president" would cement his name in stone as a great leader, better than his daddy at least. I think the next great president is the one that is going to directly address these issues. Where is Al anyway.

The photo up top is of the family on the hill across the valley.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Gross! More Legislation!

What gives? "Not a state responsibility" last year:

This year, apparently it is:

I am glad we got the funds for these capital projects that were vetoed last summer by the Mrs. Palin. As a matter of fact almost all of the projects proposed and requested by local communities last year that were vetoed are in the budget this year.
Last summer it was all about the principles and controlling spending. This year it is about what? Maybe $112.00 a barrel oil.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Legislating by Rumor

I ran across this item on the Alaska Politics blog.
The lengthy amendment from Rep. Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, would authorize the death penalty for first-degree murder as well as for first-degree sexual assault involving victims under 12 years old.
Murder is bad, sexual assault is bad. Yes, the individuals who perpetrate these crimes revoke there rights to be in a free society. They should be punished, maybe incarcerated for the rest of their lives. But what really gets me is the stupidity of Mr. Chenault. He goes on to say,

“I realize this is a pretty big step,” he said. “But I say in the case of child molesters, they can’t be fixed. I THINK STUDIES HAVE SHOWN THAT. If we don’t keep them in jail for all their life, Mr. Chairman, I would just as soon execute them.”

This man is proposing to kill people and he hasn't done the research. He is just "thinking" the facts support him. Get the facts and get back to us, alright. What an ass.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Class Consciousness? I'd settle for conscious

All Americans do better economically under Democratic presidential administrations than they do under Republicans. Read it here. There is a book coming out soon that inspired that post. Everybody makes more money. Rich and poor. I would buy the book, but I am a little short on $$$.
Again I wonder, "why do people vote for Republicans?" We must remember that they are better at foreign policy and keeping us safe from _______. The last 7 years are further demonstration of this.
The Republicans are better politicians than the Democrats. All the while they hold politicians in disdain.