It takes a lot of energy to excite change.
Those of you with technical or scientific backgrounds are aware of this. Heat is a by-product of this change. Harnessing that heat is one of the ways that we are able to capture energy and transport it from place to place. When you take a look at the work Edison and Westinghouse--both real people, not just names of companies--and how that work has transformed civilization, our lives are really type and kind different from a scant 150 years ago. Throw in Henry, Morse and Bell, and you have the transformation of society and culture.
I am a product of the society and culture that has been built upon the work of these men. I'm not Eurocentric in terms of holding in greater esteem the culture and practises of our European forefathers. I'm a Rationalist. A Classic Liberal. I value the empirical.
At the same time I'm also aware of my humanity. My feelings and need for love. My appreciation of music and art. In many ways, these feelings are non-rational. I accept the fact that I feel a cringe of pain when a bird unwittingly flies into my car. At 65 miles per hour. My rationality can only hope to impose order on a random event. Am I responsible for the death of the bird?
When I was a boy I borrowed my next door neighbor's BB gun. When I gave my sons their first BB guns I told them not to shoot birds. Or any little critter. When I was a boy I thought I'd try my hand at shooting a bird. Well, mission accomplished. I gave my neighbor his gun back and never fired a weapon at another creature again. I didn't like the way it made me feel.
Now, dial back to my childhood. We raised 100 chickens each year. Twenty rabbits. One calf. For slaughter.
One of the advantages of living on a farm--in this case what was known as a "gentleman's farm"--is the proximity within which one is placed with the eventual victuals before they are borne off to Animal Valhalla. That is to say, chickens is stupid. You feed them. You collect the eggs. And once a year a whole passle of them sign up for dinner duty. It's more of a federal program. You don't actually volunteer. You're inducted.
When it's chopping block time the whole family is involved. Being the only male offspring had its perks (in my family's Male-Centric Culture!). Mom would organize the girls around the large pot of water over the cook-ring. My job was to round up the volunteers and take them to my dad. He would seperate and toss. I would then collect the carcass and carry it to my waiting mom and sisters, who would dunk the carcass in the hot water and proceed to denude the little chicken bodies. If you think a chicken coop smells, wait until the feathers hit the hot water pot. (Ah! memories).
Point is, we laughed at the chickens who, for the first time, attempted flight sans head. Chickens is amazing things. You lop their tiny heads and their bodies still attempt to take the 4 o'clock outta town. It's amazing and yes, funny. Rabbits? Not so much fun. I won't go through the process, you can find out on your own. But my dad did it quickly and with a certain grimness that attends taking your daughters' and son's "pets" to the dinner table. It's okay to have a relationship with your rooster. It's okay to have an almost relationship with your brood hens. But brood hens often end up in the stew pot. Circle of Life.
Rabbits are hard. You can take one or two out of their hutch and bring them with you into the yard. They're cute. And little ones love to pet them. So, dad did his best to minimize their demise. Lloyd, our beef--all beeves were named Lloyd, family tradition--was taken off for his trip to the other side. What we got back were white packages with words written on them, like "tongue", "roast" and "steak". So long, Lloyd. Lloyd will be back in a matter of weeks, new and fresh.
So shooting a bird, and I don't remember if it was a robin or a sparrow, is a hurt that I remember today. There was my prize. A dead bird. I had unnecessarily taken a life for absolutely no more reason than to prove to myself I could hit a target on the fly.
When I gave my sons their BB guns I shared my killing of this innocent bird. Don't do it. And if you do, to just see if you're a Gee-Whiz Ace, don't be surprised if you feel bad. Real bad.
When I kill a bird with my car I feel bad, too. And this whole memory comes back. The shock of death. It's finality. But I shake it off. We were both complicit in the act. I for driving, it for choosing the wrong moment to attempt to take a bug that coincidently also was a victim of the crash. Our compassion tends to extend to the furry and the feathered. Rarely for the exoskeletoned. Or opposums.
But I'm not giving up my car. That would be stupid.
And the source of the great divide in current political thoughts.
Let's assume that Oregon is going to need an additonal 360-megawatts of electricity in the next two years. And an additional 360-megawatts in the two years following that investment. For a total of 720-megawatts. How do we get there?
Two choices. Understand that if you want to eat chicken, you gotta kill the chicken. Or, the vegan way. Renewables. Sounds cool, huh? Wind!
Somebody needs to take these vegans out of their cells and into the world. At times I feel they must envision (visioning things is something vegans do well...maybe they need more meat in their diet?) the production process for wind generators as involving men in leather aprons hammering turbine blades on the anvil next to their hearth. Wind Power! It's Infinite! And incredibly expensive to produce. And, and here's the killer, dependant upon the wind. So if it's not windy? Storage Cells! And leather clad smithies are imagined forging these Storage Cells out of iron on the anvils next to their hearths.
There is a reason why children in this country are named Bilbo and Frodo. And I don't think it's good.
But it's a total package. The Vegan View is we can't eat meat. We can't pollute the world. And I shouldn't be allowed to drive my car if I'm going to go out and slaughter innocent creatures with it. Bugs and opposums, excluded.
But do you have any understanding of what happens to birds? Subtend an arc of 60 feet. Now, determine the speed that the tip of that arc is travelling at when the tip is rotated 10 times per minute. 30 times per minute. Bird, meet Animal Valhalla. The difference to the Vegan? When I drive my car, I'm there. When my leather-clad technology--think quaint Dutch windmill--meets bird I'm not there. More birds die, remotely. Not to mention all the exoskeletal life that will end up at the foot of their new altar.
And, of course, this whole looniness wants to ignore more than dead birds. It wants to ignore the manufacturing process for these new "renewable" wind turbines. In the manufacture of these devices, there is nothing "renewable" about it. Composites are made from metal and oil. Petroleum products. Minerals mined from the earth and oil pumped from the ground. The amount of waste products going into the manufacture of just one wind turbine would spin your head.
But, just like the birds you kill remotely, the manufacturing process is one involving leather-clad elven-folk. Complete with felt hat and arrow quiver over one shoulder. Not the white-coated, gleaming production plant that such stringent manufacturing methods require. But the unseen, white-coated production team is just another unseen part of their Miracle of Energy. Elven, leather-clad smithies. Infinitely renewable energy. A mantra of stupid, repeated over, and over and over.
If wind turbines were truly cost effective, do you think a single, non-wind turbine source for energy would exist in this country? Of course not. Just like dreams of non-gasoline engined cars is proffered by the political class as a solution to our dependence on Middle East oil, these political dreamers have envisioned white-coated technicians coming to the aid of our country, in our hour of crises.
While reasonable sources of energy are condemned. Because the interior picture, the one these vegan lefties refer to when thinking about common sense, is one of black smoke billowing from tall brick chimneys, and street orphans roaming the street as Fagins, searching for love and a meal.
We need energy today. If you were the Boss of Everything, would you look to coal? Nuclear? LNG? They're low-cost. They're efficient. They're doable. And they are cheaper than any of the alternatives. Except, perhaps, for Hydro. But, like nuclear I don't think we'll see a new power plant built in this country in my lifetime. Re-licensing these remarkably efficient power sources has become a marathon event in its own right.
So, what would you choose?
I live in a county the size of Rhode Island. I live in a county with around 33-thousand people in it. Will someone, please, explain to me why I'm in danger of living in an 18th century, pollution-filled future if we build one LNG or coal-fired power plant? Is it simply because, even though we aren't there, we can remotely "envision" the pollution pouring from such a plant?
I think that is so. Worried by apocalyptic warnings eminating from the pie-hole of such notable scientists as Al Gore and Governor Kulongoski, we live in fear of being a single trip-wire away from disaster. And yet my eyes, everywhere I look, see empty.
This is the disconnect between the "vision" and seeing.
When you reflect upon your choices this election season, I'd ask you to think about the man you're choosing to vote for. Are you buying into his vision? Or, can the man see things the way they are.
Chances are, if you're more into the vision-thing, you're a Democrat. Or a Ron Paul guy. And I can't change a single thing about you.
But, if your rational, a liberal, maybe you can learn something from a guy like David Hume. Or, even Al Bell, G. Westinghouse, T. Edison or that Henry feller. I know what kind of a future I had hoped for for my children. My vision was one of progress and reason.
Oops. There's that vision-thing again.
Thematic links: It seems that others have been considering this conundrum. Here are some different ways of approaching this divide between vision and seeing.
From Captain's Quarters. Make sure you click on the "1956 cartoon" link.
From Barking Moonbat Early Warning System. A brief essay from Pat Sajak. Yes. That Pat Sajak.
From The Belmont Club. Dreamers and Dreaming.
It's time to stop talking about the vision and start living it.