Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Onward Civilian Soldiers

Those words are the headline message in a recent column by George Will.  Read it, and consider the dynamic English language.  Words tell.  Will's words penetrate like a cold fog wind.  Agree with him or not, he is a master of the language.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Tree as Symbol of Life

Sixteen inches of snow were followed by two days of freezing rain.  We lost power.  Four days after it began, the storm was over.  I watched a small birch tree outside our window.  May I be as flexible in the face of adversity as this tree.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Snowed In

It snowed here last night.  About 12 inches.  Not much by the standards of the communities in Alaska's Prince William Sound.  They are looking at 18 to 20 feet.  If you haven't read about it, here is a good summary.  But 12 inches is enough to paralyze our community on the southern end of Washington State's Puget Sound.  I have a ham bone and beans on the stove for soup, and made gingerbread this morning.  What would you do if you were snowed in?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

I Could Not Make This Up

Whooping Cranes are endangered.  As with other endangered creatures, Whoopers have a dedicated following of folk who are determined to re-establish viable populations.  Whooping Cranes nest in the north - Alberta specifically.  They migrate south - Texas traditionally.  Here is a link to some information.

The Whooping Crane rescue plan centers around teaching chicks bred in captivity to make the successful 2500 mile migration without the benefit of parents and flock.  An ultra-light airplane with wings enhanced to resemble the wings of a crane succeeds in bonding with the young birds.  They follow it in flight.  The plane heads south.  Ten birds follow and the migration is on.  Everything goes according to plan until the FAA gets wind and grounds the plane.  The cranes follow and the entire plan is stalled in Alabama.  It took the Crane team a month to negotiate with the FAA.  You can read about it yourself.  The birds are back in the air.  Surely, the FAA had bigger fish to fry. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Evangelicals

I am not welcomed to the political table set by the evangelicals.  Their "all or none" beliefs don't accommodate a different point of view.  Too bad, because there is much we care about in common, especially the importance of accountability and smaller government.  And now the political season moves into full stride.  The evangelicals can't win.  They can, and should, inform and influence the debate.  I can hear them better when they explain their view rather than condemn mine.  We are not so far apart that either of us can claim the other to be empty of a moral compass.  I am thoughtful and principled, as are they.  The question they raise with their political ascendancy is existential.  Do we Americans demand adherence to a common moral code? or do we accommodate ourselves to a broader view?  Our ancestors came here in search of the latter.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


You probably know many Jennifers.  "Jennifer" has been one of the top ten names for girl babies since the 1960's.  Its popularity peaked in the early '70's during which it was the # one parents' choice for a daughter.  Among the 4,000 Jennifers named in Illinois in each of those years was Jennifer L. Ellinger from Hanover Park Illinois.  She and the other Jennifers came of age in a new world.  Girls had opportunities unimagined by older women.  Jennifer Ellinger was welcomed into career service with the United States Navy - not in supply or support.  Onboard. In the chain of command.  This week Commander Ellinger aboard a Navy destroyer, the USS Kidd, called her Urdu linguist to the bridge.  He spoke in their common language with the captain of the Al Molai, an Iranian fishing vessel .  The Somali pirates who controlled the Al Molai could not understand what the captain said when he pleaded for help.  Commander Ellinger's crew boarded the Al Molai, freed the crew and took the Somali's captive.  All in a days work. 

I present Commander Ellinger.  Well Done.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Who Will Love a Little Sparrow

I thought of Simon and Garfunkel's song about the little sparrow today.  I was reading about wind energy.  Wind energy farms kill birds.  Perhaps not enough birds to change the course of development.  But enough to make me think about the song.  Here are the words. 

Who will love a little Sparrow
Who’s traveled far and cries for rest?
"Not I," said the Oak Tree
"I won’t share my branches with no sparrow’s nest
And my blanket of leaves won’t warm her cold breast"

Who will love a little Sparrow
And who will speak a kindly word?
"Not I," said the Swan
"The entire idea is utterly absurd
I’d be laughed at and scorned if the other Swans heard"

And who will take pity in his heart,
And who will feed a starving Sparrow?
"Not I," said the Golden Wheat
"I would if I could, but I cannot, I know
I need all my grain to prosper and grow"

Who will love a little Sparrow?
Will no one write her eulogy?
"I will," said the Earth
"For all I’ve created returns unto me
From dust were ye made and dust ye shall be"

If you are not familiar, here is the song.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Government Steps Away

To my amazement Congress has allow the 30-year subsidy for corn based ethanol to expire.  You can read about it here.  Even more amazing are the observations of Dan Taylor, former president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association.  " (loss of the tax credit) will reduce the profit margin for a lot of people in the ethanol business.  But it won't be fatal as long as the demand for ethanol and gasoline remains strong."

There is no demand for ethanol.  There is a federal mandate that it be blended with gasoline in order to reduce demand for fossil fuels.  If the federal mandate was eliminated, there would be no market for blended gasoline, and therefore no market for corn based ethanol.  Corn crops would be 100% available for food.  Might be a good thing for the world.