Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Women's Tennis Tops Tie Tongues

It takes a different set of linguistic skills to keep up with current women's professional tennis. Serena is the apparently rare exception. Excerpted from a recent article.

"Serena overcame Shahar Peer ... to next play Nicole Vaidisova who beat Lucie Safarova. Vaidisova was the highest rank after Safarova upsent Amelie Mauresmo and Peer ousted Svetlana Kuznetsova, though Vaidisova lost to Kutznetsova at the last French Open. ... Williams' win over Nadia Petrova ... 4th round win over Jelena Jankovic. Pockets of Israeli fans cheered Pee [sic]. Maria Sharapova downed Vera Zvonareva and will play Ana Chakvetadze. Kim Clijsters will play Martina Hingis.

Try saying the previous paragraph fast several times over.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Ethanol is the answer?

With the talk that the energy component of the State of the Union will be highlighting making more ethanol, there is little discussion to address that, while ethanol might be a way to reduce our oil consumption, it has a lower efficiency (less miles/gallon) than gasoline and more importantly, depending upon the fuel source and location, costs more to make. Shouldn't we also consider the impact of diverting a lot of food source options away from food, which impacts the costs of those foods. Seems like the discussion over ethanol needs to be more refined and targeted. An article in the Washington Post starts to address this. The more fundamental answer is to reduce the demand, whether by efficiency or technology.

Monday, January 22, 2007

"Nucular" Power

With the State of the Union coming soon, the buzz is that Geroge Bush will talk about enhancing "nucular" power as a means of combating global warming and increasing our energy independence.

Nuclear power has been given some incredibly large incentives in the last few congresses under the Republicans. I ran across an article that explains a lot more than I could.

The push for nuclear energy is compelling except for the fact that accidents are extremely deadly and that we don't have safe places to put spent fuel that remains radioactive for thousands of years. It takes hubris to think we could be smart enough or know enough about what the future holds for a section of the earththat far ahead. That hasn't stopped them from trying.

A story more close to home is a plan hatched by Toshiba to put a sodium based nuclear reactor in Galena Alaska, a mostly native village and formerly a forward Air Force base housing a handful of fighter jets. What I find particularly interesting is that this reactor can't be licensed to be installed in Japan, home country of Toshiba, so they suggest it for the Indians of rural Alaska? Smallpox infested blankets anyone?

I'd be more inclined to support fusion over fission, as that would leave us without the nasty radioactive byproducts. We haven't figured out how to do this yet, but the sun has. Maybe we could spend a large portion of our nuclear subsidies to subsidize solar energy? Hello? Is anyone there?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Alaska on the wrong side of climate change

The state of Alaska is on the wrong side of climate change. We are both heavily favored for major impacts, but the State of Alaska has also taken the wrong side in a brief before the U.S. Supreme Court. The case has been argued before the court, with a decision due by June 2007. Justice Anthony Kennedy appears to be the swing vote.

One report out of the Anchorage Daily News recently spoke of the irony of the State of Alaska opposing the EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gasses at the same time as our state is most vulnerable from the impacts of those gases in our atmosphere. Gov. Palin is looking toward guidance from the Alaska Climate Impact Assessment Commission. In a companion article in the Fairbanks Daily News Miner, a longer version of the ADN article (not available on line) quoted Tim Beninendi, staffer to Rep. Samuels, chair of this commission, as saying that the commission wouldn’t address any suggestions of CO2 reduction, only the impacts from doing nothing about the cause.

This limited approach is inefficient, costly, and ill-advised. Since prevention is usually more cost effective than treatment, why not expend some effort toward reducing the things that are creating the negative impacts? It doesn’t serve Alaskans to have the Governor look at only one means of addressing this important issue.

Sometimes logic and common sense seems to baffle those who live in a political environment.

Monday, January 01, 2007

State House Rep. Mike Kelly goes off the deep end

I find myself deeply disappointed with my State House Representative Mike Kelly. I have always offered him respect even though I disagree with him and he likewise, but in his Dec. 29 Community Perspective, Mike Kelly has gone off the deep end in his righteousness to deny others the same benefits that he receives from his government.

In his grinch-like Community Perspective, Kelly spews hateful animosity in offering benefits to those who live in monogamous relationships not meeting with his approval, despite the Alaska Supreme Court instructing the Legislature and state government otherwise six months ago. That’s right, despite his protestations of not enough time to deal with this legally, he and the other majority members of the Legislature deliberately refused to comply by the ruling of our state’s highest court even after an expensive special session. He doesn’t agree with the Supreme Court, so he suggests we find ways to get rid of the objectionable justices.

Rep. Kelly seems to assume that anyone not in agreement with his view of private relationships is morally corrupt and, like Rep. Coghill, is willing to make this a major effort as a legislator. There was a time when the name Kelly would engender a response "No Irish Need Apply". I want to think our state has a large enough tent for diversity and humanity to rise above such discrimination in the eyes of the beholder.

I’d also offer that we WANT people to have health care. It’s better for them, their employers, private enterprise and society. I’d offer that we WANT people to be in stable relationships. I won’t legislate against them after climbing into their bedrooms to see if their private behavior meets with my approval.

Whether to deny those benefits or not will be voted on by Alaskans this coming April in a constitutional amendment, which I will oppose. I think of a constitution as providing rights, not taking them away. I want ALL our state employees to share in the basic benefits of employment. As long as they continue to offer their good services to our state, they deserve no less.

I appreciate the responses from Rich Seifert in his Community Perspective Dec. 30, the Newsminer's editorial the same day. There was also a short article on the front page.