Washington Crap Shoot

It appears that the Congress has come to “an understanding” on this billion dollar legislation, it is save the bank and burn the houses.  Nice try but no cigar, and it is anyone’s guess what is going to happen from this point on.

This morning I have been reading postings by bloggers who are thoroughly convinced that the world as we know it will end by Monday. I just read a 700 word post on another site, and the author could not spell “McCain” (McCane?), good internet advice abounds this Friday morn from the net.

The politicians are up there sitting on the stump, proclaiming that they are going to give me what I want, and life goes on. There isn’t all that much to worry about, we all OWE WAY TOO MUCH MONEY for it to all come tumbling down. As long as I have a buck in my pocket, they are going to come around and try and separate me from it.

It is a rule of life.

Yesterday I was watching this fascinating documentary on Robots and the 21st century, and it concerned issues dealing with computers and functioning machines built by man. One of these projects was out of Japan; have you ever noticed that the most interesting machines and/or products come out of Japan?

The documentary dealt primarily with how man has made them super smart, and it could in fact, lead to the end of civilization by creating a totally new species on the planet. This new computer species could look at us as a pet or something like that. Or in the worst case scenario, might find us useless and remove us completely. I believe the word for this is biotechnology. I would ask Brother John about it, but unfortunately he has joined a cult or something and they are not allowing him email or telephone privileges.

We are on the verge of creating life out of what amounts to randomly spliced cells. Researchers have taken nerves from a leech and integrated them into a computer (for the I.R.S no doubt).  In years to come, doctors may cure excruciating diseases with the aid of strangers’ biological materials (DNA). Somewhere in this din of innovation, we will have to answer questions about genetic rights, parental responsibilities and the government’s role in deciding who qualifies as a person and who “owns” an organism.

Let me be clear: I don’t believe these developments presage a new age of tyranny in this country. But it’s obvious that some trends in technology and governance aren’t exactly congenial to acknowledging the uniqueness of every human life.

What is crucial here is that Democracy depends on a sturdy notion of dignity. It establishes a social absolute. It limits what the strong may do to the weak. At the same time, it beckons us to help others … to recognize their dignity by offering our time, muscle and even money from time to time.  Above all, Democracy should be honest and fair to everyone, not just a select privileged few.

So as for robots taking over and the world ending on Monday?

I kind of doubt it.

It could be possible, who knows? I truly believe we are living amongst a den of thieves, money hungry industrial whores, people of low or totally non-existent American values. What they cannot do seems to be literally unthinkable any more.  With each day this run amuck wrecking crew in Washington seems to propel us towards financial ruin and into the abyss.

It is my profound hope that somehow we will weed this problem out and accomplish this daunting task sometime soon. If we don’t, then I suppose the soothsayers are correct … We are toast.  Will the last American leaving, please turn out the lites.

Having hope, I eventually desire to see dignity and honesty thrive again in this country, this money problem can be solved, it can happen since Americans are more devoted to our sense of personal worth than to ideology. This entire thing is basically a moral and monetary problem. I also seriously doubt if any one candidate can pull this off, the problem seems to be too complex and far reaching.

All this leaves the unanswered key question: “Will we defend other people’s rights to the point of bankruptcy or take care of our business FIRST here at home?”

Not easy being an American these days … We are the robots and the U.S. Government is our master. 540 some odd folks, telling 330,000,000 people what to do. Sorta like Sodom and Gomorrah in the bible, “Show me one honest man, and I will save the city.”

And we all know how that one went down, don’t we?

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More on this so-called rescue plan here.

“The cartoon(s) was published by the Center for American Progress” (online)

Water Woes

All day I face, the barren waste, without the taste of water, cool, clear water. Old Dan and I, with throats burned dry, souls that cry for water, cool, clear water.” Did you know that “Dan” in that song was a donkey?

Yup, true.

The last time I ventured into these familiar waters (pardon the pun) I was called an “Eco Freak” by some knot-head that wanted to go round and round with me on the subject. Personally I prefer the term “Tree Hugger” it just seems to me, more personal and friendly.

The city is raising the rates on my water again. Not because I am using a lot of it, but because they are a city, and they KNOW that they can always milk the consumer for the life blood that he needs, and he will pay it.  You see, “You need water, and if you live in a city, you are going to pay for it.”

Some big challenges facing this country in the future, providing we make it thru this Wall Street debacle. One of them is going to be water. Fresh water is running out on a grand scale worldwide. The world is running out of potable water, which unfortunately, is a key ingredient to life as we know it. The last time I checked, the current numbers reflected less than 5% of the worlds water is now drinkable (potable) and that number is shrinking.

The latest data suggests we might be in big trouble, when it comes to water.

North America: The United States and Canada are the largest per capita consumers of freshwater, double that of our neighbors to the south in Mexico. Though supply has been abundant in the past, that may change. The High Plains Aquifer in the central United States that Mr. Pickens wants to deplete is expected to “decline dramatically.” Pollution, invasive species and under-priced water add to the stress of the region. In Canada, the demands put on water to harvest oil-sand petroleum is ruining the Frazier River Basin at an alarming rate.

South America: Due to fast population growth, the region’s major environmental problem of the next decade is expected to be a shortage of potable water.

Europe: Western Europe is pricing water at levels that allow for reinvestment and management of an adequate water supply. Easter Europe and the former Soviet Union, on the other hand, are still using more water per capita than Western Europe. In Eastern Europe, a business-as-usual scenario estimates water use will nearly double. Overall, water issues have more to do with quality and ecosystems than with quantity, which appears for the time being, sufficient.

But then again, Global Warming enters into the picture. A lot of people in Europe live below quickly melting glaciers, their primary water supply, when the glaciers have receded and are gone, then what?

Africa: More than half the population has no access to safe water, fewer today than in 1990. Almost half the population of the areas suffer from water-related diseases. In southern Africa, a business-as-usual scenario estimates water use will rise by half in just a few short years.

Asia: Nearly a third of the region has no access to safe water. Central Asia is already using 85% of available water, and South Asia nearly half that. Per capita availability of water has dropped by 70% in Central and Southern Asia since roughly 1950. In China the same applies, another business-as-usual scenario sees water consumption doubling in that country by 2025. Recently China has had to import huge quantities of rice, because acid rain has ruined the water in the surround country side and they are now growing crops in sterile soil.

Australia: Water usage increased by 25% in the mid ‘90’s, compared with the mid 80’s. At the same time, the water supply has been degraded, particularly in the Murray-Darling Basin in the southeast. A prolonged drought hasn’t helped matters at all.

You pick up any newspaper in this country and each day there is an item in there about the shortage of water or the possible contamination of an Aquifer that is used for public consumption. Water who most of believe is just plentiful and everywhere, is in fact, a precious resource (mostly non-renewable) and is being squandered.

Monroe Louisiana – Sixteen parishes in northern Louisiana depend on the Sparta Aquifer for drinking water, but one expert said the water is slowly deteriorating in quality because of drawdown. Ben McGee, a supervisory hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, said the aquifer is tapped into at a rate of 70 million gallons a day by users from paper mills to residential homes.

Shapleigh MAINE – Voters in Shapleigh, in a setback for bottler Poland Spring, imposed a six-month moratorium on the testing or large-scale extraction of water. Residents voted 204-38 to adopt the moratorium, intended to give the town time to work on a regulatory ordinance.

Rockingham, North Carolina – Residents in three counties are concerned that pesticides used by peach farmers decades ago may be polluting well water. The Charlotte Observer reports that tests by health officials found 117 tainted wells in Montgomery, Richmond and Moore counties. For now, state officials are delivering drinking water weekly to affected homes.

Lubbock Texas – Billionaire T. Boone Pickens put plans on hold for a pipeline to send water from a Panhandle aquifer to cities downstate. A Pickens spokesman said the suspension of the Mesa Water pipeline has nothing to do with a Justice Department ruling in August that blocked changes to Texas law that helped create a water supply district. The district was dominated by employees of Pickens. He is all set to drain this aquifer (Ogallala) to supply Dallas with drinking water. He has however one big snag, “no one has asked him to provide them with water at this time.” Meanwhile, on the western fringe area’s of this water system they are starting to suck sand.

Slowly people are starting to realize that we have to do something to conserve this resource or we will perish. This week in Tucson Arizona, a dry and arid portion of the United States legislation was passed to conserve or re-use water. Homes built there after 2009 will be required to have wastewater systems that use drainage from sinks, showers and tubs to irrigate landscaping.

The ordinance adopted by the City Council requires new homes to have “gray-water” plumbing systems separate from piping that takes toilet waste to sewers. The new systems will cost about $500 per house.

It isn’t much, but at least it is a start.

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