Indomitable American spirit on full display
It was five days after the bombs in Boston. A bike ride in Napa to promote the Rotary ride for veterans and cycle for sight was on my schedule for the following Saturday morning. I had the honor to ride with Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan Sykes. Ryan was wounded in Afghanistan, has the bronze star for bravery and has been on numerous rides in the past few years.
Twenty-five hundred supporters from ages 5 to 81 "saddled up" and hit the road for the 50-, 25- and 15-mile rides that day. Because of Boston, uncertainty lingered, but the crowd was ebullient. Grandmothers, kids, vets and people with guide dogs were all on two wheels, bike chairs or four legs. The good people of Napa exhibited alacrity from the sidelines with flags and music, cheering the participants in this epoch to achieve their best.
The standout moment for me was the halfway point, a slight incline up a hill to the veterans home in Yountville. As we made the turn at the center, Vets with American flags, voicing encouragement with Lee Greenwood on the sound system singing "God Bless the USA," sent us to the first rest stop. A good amount of the riders had tears in their eyes at this juncture, smiles and hugs from complete strangers came straight from the heart.
The finish was at a local high school with live bands and food booths. There may have been big trouble brewing on the East Coast. But in the Napa Valley on that Saturday afternoon the American spirit was alive and well; the things that made us great showed in the riders. The sightless still couldn't see, the vets still had their problems, but the spirit of the ride, with the grit of this phalanx of all age groups had a strong finish.
I'm betting on the same results for Boston.
Killing two birds with one stone
What could possibly be better than a hunger strike at Gitmo? We save money on the food we no longer have to provide, and the terrorists eventually die. That was easy.
You're getting fooled again
Readers will be aware of the furloughs of air traffic controllers imposed by the Obama administration "because of the mandatory cut in federal agency budgets" (which amount to 5 percent or so) and the sudden finding by Congress of monies in other accounts to rescind the controller furloughs.
According to FAA publications, there are a total of about 16,000 air traffic controllers on the payroll -- the group that 100 percent of the budget cuts hit. But the FAA in total employs almost 50,000 people -- with staff, back office support and management jobs more than double the number of controllers.
Did you hear of any of these folks being furloughed? Of course not. That would be the smart thing to do -- not something the politicians in the Obama administration have in mind, though. They chose the most visible employees, not the least essential.
Only suckers keep re-electing these folks over and over again.
The rich, not the NRA, are the true villains
The government has already been overthrown. Overthrown by Big Corporate America, pharma-corp, private money and perpetual debt (the biggest part of our deficit and which will never get paid off).
The NRA is anything but subversive, as one writer likes to put it. The NRA is akin to the groups from the beginning of organized societies, the groups that helped the hoi polloi, the people, to keep a grasp on personal freedom without the fear of governmental oppression through tyranny, dictatorship and the removal of any type of tool, whether it be a plowshare, pitchfork, machete, word or even writing implement that would cause the "establishment" to fear the very people it was created to protect and serve. When did it become OK for any one person or group to mandate what is right for the rest of the people? It goes so much deeper than just the NRA or what's blue and what's red. So much has gone wrong with our country. Who will regulate the governmental militia when it mandates laws and rules that only serve the machine and not the people?
What are we really leaving behind for our descendants?
Lab's budget priorities are totally wrong
Looking at the breakdown of funds requested by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for 2014, I noticed a few interesting facts. Energy efficiency and renewable energy combined constitute less than 1 percent of the budget. Defense environmental cleanup is a minuscule tenth of 1 percent! On the other hand, nuclear weapons activities constitute a whopping 84 percent of the requested budget.
Are these priorities truly in line with most Americans' feelings? LLNL is a national lab that could be using science to bring about a better future. After six decades of poisoning the environment, can't we take a break and spend some time cleaning it up?
Burning wood, fossil fuels good
Recently, The Contra Costa Times wrote about Livermore "going green" by installing new LED streetlights.
Driving around town, I see no green streetlights. I see yellow-orange lights, plain vanilla lights and a few black streetlights, like the one at Concannon and Vega which has been black about a year, but zero green streetlights in Livermore. That may be good, since the 2 a.m. drunks might see a green streetlight and speed through the intersection.
Seriously, there is nothing "green" about LED streetlights, regardless of color. LEDs promote no photosynthesis, nor do photovoltaic systems (every photon captured is a photon not reaching green leaves).
Reducing electricity consumption is not itself "green" (electricity doesn't harm plants). Electricity sources that are truly green are those that promote photosynthesis by, for example, releasing carbon dioxide -- meaning electricity sources that use combustion of hydrocarbons: coal, oil, gas, oak, pine. But those are the sources which the so-called "greenies" try to kill-off.
Apparently, Livermore needs grants to fund the lights, since they won't pay for themselves. Maybe that makes them "green."