There's lots of things going on right now that don't warrant a whole post, but do deserve a comment or two. I'll try to cover all the things I've been reading lately that deserve such treatment.
Fluorescent light bulbs
The "distinguished" Senator from Colorado, Ken Salazar, is pushing the use of fluorescent light bulbs in homes to reduce "greenhouse gas emissions". My wife and I have switched to fluorescent light bulbs in about 2/3 of the lighting in our home, not to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but to cut our electric bill. We estimate we save about $.30/month per bulb. If the average bulb actually lasted the 60 months they're advertised to, we'd save about $13.25 per bulb($.30/mo x 60mo - difference in cost - about $4.75/bulb). Unfortunately, most fluorescent bulbs DON'T last 60 months, but only last about 30 months - cutting the savings in half. Also, there's a problem with burned-out fluorescent bulbs - they contain toxic materials that end up in a land-fill, and eventually into the soil. We still use them, but I wonder if the actual savings is all that spectacular. I guess it depends on how much you pay for electricity, and how many lights you leave on all day.
Wildfires in California
Once again, the combination of Santa Anna winds and stupid people have ganged up on southern California, causing misery for a half-million people. Some of it could be prevented, but at a very large cost. Eventually, however, the cost is going to be less than the cost of constantly rebuilding in the path of danger.
We have a similar problem here in Colorado - we have several million acres of trees that are a monster forest fire waiting to happen. The trees need to be thinned, beetle-killed trees need to be removed, and a lot of the underbrush needs to be plowed under. Unfortunately, a lot of "environmentalists" don't want ANYTHING done. They want Colorado's mountains to "remain in an unspoiled state". That's utterly impossible, but some people who are gung-ho to "preserve nature" know absolutely nothing about the subject. In reality, things change, and change constantly. There is no standing still. Trees grow, mature, and die; they're attacked by disease, insects, and an ever-changing environment; water is taken out of the western slope watershed and piped to a thirsty Front Range with a population of more than 4 million people, most of whom want bluegrass lawns in a semi-desert.
Teddy Roosevelt created the National Forest system to ensure the continuity of the nation's lumber industry, yet today "environmentalists" have all but killed that industry through legislation, lawsuits, and intimidation. A vibrant, CONTROLLED lumber industry could do a lot to restore our forests to more healthy, fire-resistant, and economically sustainable resources. Locking things up forever is both arrogant and stupid. It's time it stopped. Building homes in fire-prone areas without adequate safeguards, and expecting the "insurance industry" (I.E., the average insured, regardless of where they live,) to bail out destroyed communities, is also arrogant and stupid. Insanity is sometimes defined as doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results. We have over 50 years of history telling us that doing some things bring bad results. Maybe we need to do a few things differently, at least on an experimental basis, to see if we really can make a difference.
The Colorado Rockies are the National League champions, and will meet the Boston Red Socks in the World Series. In order to get where they are today, the Rockies won 21 of their last 22 games. We'll see if the Red Socks, or a week's inactivity, have made any difference in how the Rockies play. Whether they win or not, it's good to see the Rockies, a franchise that's only been in existence for 15 years, at the top of the heap. It's also fun to watch many of the former Colorado Springs Sky Sox players in action in the major leagues. May the best team win (the Rockies, of course)!
Politics - Yuck!
This election cycle's early start, the crowded field, and the fact that the Republicans aren't fielding their Vice President, has made for a wide-open, no-holds-barred dogfight for the nomination. Some of it's already gotten VERY dirty. Sometimes I wonder how politicians can survive in all that slime they constantly fling at one another. Some of the candidates are beginning to drop by the wayside, either due to poor performance, or more frequently, lack of money. Again we see a Clinton running for the Presidency, and again we see tainted campaign contributions. There's a pattern here, and I hope the nation can see it. We've also seen that McCain-Feingold has done nothing to remove corporate money from the campaign, or done anything else it was touted as doing. It's a bad law, a bad precedent, and needs to be repealed. The Supreme Court's failure to declare the entire thing unconstitutional just goes to prove how badly the courts have become politicized over the past 75 years or so.
It's going to be hard for this Independent voter to make a choice this year. There doesn't appear to be a truly outstanding candidate from either party. A third-party candidacy would probably screw up things even greater than they currently are. So far, there's not a single candidate that meets even my minimum criteria for president.
It only takes one side, one incident to trigger a war. World War I was triggered by a lone Serb assassinating Archduke Ferdinand of Austria. World War II was triggered by the Treaty of Versailles, and Hitler's unilateral repudiation of the truly disgusting treaty. Failure of the West to stand up to Hitler early led to a cataclysm that killed more than 60 million people. But people forget.
The West (not just the United States, but all non-Islamic societies) have been at war for the past 35 years. Yasser Arafat declared war against the West, and attacked targets throughout the Middle East, as early as the late 1960's. The abduction and killing of Jewish athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics was just one in a series of events that saw Islamists (mostly Arabs) attacking Western civilization. The assassination of an American diplomat in Sudan, the killing of American citizens during aircraft hijackings, the destruction of American foreign assets throughout the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Europe, and the killing of American citizens by "terrorists" has continued to this day.
These are acts of war. It doesn't matter that they're being conducted by "non-state" entities, they remain acts of war. They are sanctioned, supplied, financed, and assisted by a half-dozen Islamic states through out the Islamic world. Refusing to accept that we're at war is just as insane as refusing to accept that your brakes need replacing, and driving 200 miles every day on an Interstate highway. Sooner or later, each will result in someone's death.
We used to know how to wage war. That was before the lawyers got involved. Too many people think they can talk away the problems. That worked so well with Hitler and Tojo, with Ho Chi Minh, with Fidel Castro, and today with Osama bin Laden, Amadinijad, and Hugo Chavez. It takes at least two people to make an agreement, but only one to wage war. Talking has failed to achieve any lasting results. It's time to go back to a process that worked - destroying your enemy's ability to fight against you.
People talk about how "stupid" George Bush is, and how badly he's handled the war. Wars are always full of surprises. We seem to have adjusted, and the war is heading in the right direction. As for the "stupidity" of attacking Iraq, anyone who says that doesn't know much about military history. Establishing a secure base in the midst of your enemies is one sure-fire way of ensuring you're going to be the victor. A secure base of operations in Iraq would provide ideal placement to take on Iran, Syria, an aggressive and degenerating Turkey, Saudi Arabia (the source of more than half the funding for terrorism), and with bases in Afghanistan, a rapidly degenerating Pakistan. The war we're currently involved in will last five or six generations. I wonder if the current United States will be able to survive five or six more YEARS of fighting.
A lot of people have tried to compare the war against state-sponsored terrorism with the Cold War. The main difference is that there will be far more dead bodies from the current war than people who died in the Cold War. For the uninitiated, more than 80,000 people died in the service of this nation during the Cold War, and that doesn't include Korea or Vietnam. Many died in training, others died in accidents, and a few died in operating against an aggressive, determined enemy. Few are known to anyone but their families.