Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Perfect Morning

Morning comes across a clear sky
Its air breathing cool through the trees
The trees submitting to the change in season
Their leaves turning to auburns and goldens as a mark of their transition

This air cold on my skin and cold on the town’s
The gathered wood warms home and hearth
The air carries its scent and enfolds us all

My spirit revels in such a perfect morning
Like so many of the autumns in years past
The same morning that has taken me to school
The same that has baked warm sweets by my mother’s hand
The same that walked by my side as I journeyed abroad so far from home

This morning is of my heart and soul
A moment in a fleeting season that I can only reach for
Never to truly grasp before it is gone
A phantom of life’s eternal transition from rest to rebirth

Forever drawn into its gaze I can’t stay long enough before the cold sends me away
Back to my own hearth
To send the smoke signal to another’s heart.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Is America a Democracy?

Is America a democracy? This is a question that I have heard time and again through out my life. One occurrence has stood out in my memory. Once while studying at the University library I remember over hearing a conversation between two young girls, well I suppose more of an argument about this question. In the end one of the two insisted that America was not a Democracy, but instead was a Republic.

I doubt that she understood the definition of a Republic. That it included any state that was absent a monarch and whose government was a matter of public not private concern. This included nations like the United States that maintains universal suffrage allowing all members of the public to play at least a small role in the operations of the government. Of course the definition of a republic is on the other hand very broad. It would also include a nation such a Russia.

It is hard to argue that Russia is a democracy. Its elections are highly corrupt and constantly challenged by internal and external organizations. According to the website,, Russia has no freedom in the Press and only limited access to the Internet. In the US we enjoy complete freedom of expression through a free press and uncensored access to the Internet. The greatest fear our people experience when heading to a voting booth is that of having to wait in a long line. In Russia, and many other countries, voting comes with the fear of repression and threats of abuse, incarceration, and torture at the hands of local authorities.

In the US all of these freedoms are made possible by one key aspect of our form of government, The Rule of Law. I mentioned this idea before in a post I wrote about Chen Guangchengs the self taught Lawyer and activist of recent fame. It is an important idea, which many Americans have become hostile to over the passing years. Americans seem to be hardwired to oppose all forms authority they view as external to their individual lives. Even when the law in question may be for the exact purpose of preventing other individuals from restricting their individual rights or in many cases may be necessary in terms of the public good.

In the end there is a great deal going on behind the question I posed at the beginning of this post. Too much I feel for a single post, so it is my humble intention to write a series of posts on the subject over the next few weeks. For now I will leave you with a quote from Aristotle’s Politics. Feel free to leave your own thoughts in the comment section about this quote:

“But one factor of liberty is to govern and be governed in turn; for the popular principle of justice is to have equality according to number, not worth, and if this is the principle of justice prevailing, the multitude must of necessity be sovereign and the decision of the majority must be final and must constitute justice, for they say that each of the citizens ought to have an equal share; so that it results that in democracies the poor are more powerful than the rich, because there are more of them and whatever is decided by the majority is sovereign (Aristotle’s Politics 1317b).”

Looking forward to your thoughts as I start this series. Cheers.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Garden

Pathways. Grassways. Waterways.
Botanical Air
Freshness, Vibrancy, Life
So beautiful
Bright sky, Shading trees, Flowers everywhere
Your hand consciously in mine
You walked with me and I walked with you
Truly together
Feeling together. Experiencing together.
Joy to be together.
Moments taken in.
I wish there were more days in the garden.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Handbook for the Revolution

Should revolutionaries have a hand book? Today’s young revolutionary has one in the form of a website, I’ve been flipping through the numerous sections. Included in the site are instructions on every applicable topic. From how tos on civil disobedience, to occupy style protest camps, and even a section on the Fully Informed Jury Association dedicated to helping jurists to better understand their rights and obligations. According to a similar website linked to from,, our generation of upstart revolutionaries even have their own unique set of hand gestures to use during their daily General Assemblies. Which brings me to a question not so distant from the one I first posed today. How revolutionary are you if you’re googling how to start a revolution?

What would it look like if someone had to start revolution on their own? Someone living under a not so democratic state of affairs. Someone with access to only parts of the internet. Perhaps with only a handful of friends, self educated, facing a post cold war sudo-communist regime, and blind as a bat. To specific? Well Chen Guangchengs fits that description to the letter. Google his name. The cliche that truth is stranger than fiction will be fulfilled in a instant.

Blind from an early age he was illiterate until age 23. After attending a High School for the blind in rural china he studied at the Nanjing School of Medicine and earned a degree in acupuncture and massage. After bearing witness to forced sterilizations and other discriminatory practices against women in china he became a self taught lawyer. His brothers read law books and journals to him and by age 40 he has won several major legal cases in china involving undue taxation of himself and other disabled individuals. After which he returned to Beijing to file lawsuits and expose the practice of forced sterilization in his home province of Shandong. Spoiler... he won.

Yes this blind self taught lawyer who took on the brutal and heavy handed regime of China won. Several officials were arrested and the practice of forced sterilization was exposed to the world in the pages of Time magazine. This did come at a cost. Chen was arrested on false charges by local officials. After multiple trials and false convictions Chen was released, but soon found himself under house arrest. Under brutal conditions of local officials, trapped in his home, his family beaten and tortured Chen continued to fight back. Pretending to be ill and bedridden for several days he convinced the local guards to let their guard down. Then he escaped his home, climbed several high walls, broke his ankle, walked several miles on a broken ankle, and survived a car chase in order to reach a US embassy in Beijing.

That is the broadest brush stroke one could paint of his story. And no I don’t believe Chan has submitted his screenplay to hollywood just yet( see ). Instead he is now deftly navigating a international relations chess match between Washington and Beijing as he works towards finding a new home for himself and his family. In the meantime he continues to speak out against corruption in China ( see Chicago Tribune ). If you're looking for a few pointers on how to be revolutionary you might want to check out this guys life story, not those other self professed field manuals to revolution. Or better yet you could, I don’t know, read a couple law books yourself, maybe go back to school, or just show up and cast a ballot sometime. No we do not live in China, we do not live under some communist regime; no matter what your local tea party supporter has told you. (Although if you are that guy carrying on about ‘tax reform’ Chan’s story might help you realize what wrongful taxation really is.)

In the end China is not a very democratic place. Although Chan’s methods should not be mysterious to you or I. They do not involve hand gestures or the construction of complex protest camps. Chan resorted only to the law. Whether it was filing lawsuits, writing articles, speaking out publicly, or simply being willing to speak the truth when no one else had the courage. Chan showed up. When no one else did, Chan got involved. If you want to start revolution you should try Chan’s method. But you and I both know you won’t. It's easy to complain about the way the government works. To moan about your taxes. To point fingers at other people. It’s another thing to get involved in constructive way. Although who am I to tell you what you will or won’t do. I just write a blog. I’m just another under employed philosophy major trying to scratch out a little bit of truth. Although, maybe I will try that voting thing at least one more time, and until then maybe I’ll ask a few questions, and even try finding a few answers in between. So what are you going to do?


Thursday, April 26, 2012


Last year in the US the Toy industry generated $21.8 billion in sales. They included childhood favorites like Legos, Play-doh, board games like monopoly, and one of my personal favorites Nerf dart blasters. The toys we buy for our kids, the ones we hold onto in our basements and attics, and even toys that are yet to come to market say a lot about who we are.

Missing from this year's sales will be nearly 650,000 toys seized by the Consumer Product Safety Commision at US ports this past month. It seems even our beloved childhood toys are not free from the domination of foreign imports and the ever revolving list of threats to our health such as lead poisoning. Although even with a speculated 90 percent of toys being made over seas there are still great companies making toys here in the US. Little Tikes and Knexs are both produced here in the US. Some US toy companies like Channel Craft outside Pittsburgh, PA may cost more but the quality greatly exceeds any import.

The National Museum of Play in New York does not have a collection featuring defective or dangerous toys of the past, but they should. A collection of re-called or toxic toys would highlight just how important quality is over quantity. Some of my favorite toys growing up where the smallest like yo yos and lego blocks. Things that could fit in your pocket, whether it be something as sophisticated as a gameboy or as simple as a super bounce ball quickly became prized possessions.

I never felt any great attachment to the numerous numbers of cheap plastic dollar store toys short of perhaps toy soldiers. But even then I preferred the tin kind my grandfather had on his shelf. Parents should realize that more is not better, that fewer toys of a higher quality are what create lasting memories. There are a number of great blogs to help you find the right toys. Try, a site with lots of great ideas. Or if your really want to make some memories get creative and make some of your own toys at home. Check out  or or search around for your-self, the internet is full of sites about making your own toys with your kids.

Toys can quickly become a lot more than the sum of their parts. Jose Gomez -Marquez’s Little Devices Lab at MIT explores the toy world to find DIY medical devices to use in places like Africa. Bicycle pumps power nebulizers and lego sets become spectrophotometry kits saving lives and helping doctors to track diseases in places where hospitals may be out of reach and traditional labs simply don’t exist. Toys are the inspiration for young minds to, whole worlds are opened up through the types of toys we interact with. So who do you want the kids in your life to be like? What kinds of toys will you pass down?


USA Toy Companies:

My Favorites:

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Lost

Etan Patz, 6 years old, was last seen leaving his SoHo home in 1979. 30 years later SoHo is now populated with high in boutiques and restaurants. The artists lofts are all but disappearing and all but a handful of art galleries have moved to Chelsea. And still the memory of Etan lives on to such an extent that on Thursday NYPD and FBI investigators descended on 127B Prince Street to search the basement of the apartment building once home to prime suspect Jose A. Ramos. 

Utilities were shut down, the corner was cordoned off, and officers broke out jack hammers drills, and shovels in order to search for the body of young Eaton. The Soho of 1979 may be gone but so strong is the desire for answers as to the disappearance of young Eaton that even 30 years later police, family, friends, and even long time residents are still carrying on the search. This speaks volumes to the fact that our lives are defined as much by the people in our lives as those missing from it. 

Any of the thousands of widows, mothers, fathers, and siblings of service men and women who have gone missing in action can testify to the emotional effects of suddenly having a love one disappear from their lives. "When someone is killed, there's finality, with those who are missing, there's uncertainty. It's harder to know when to give up hope and when to begin grieving." Ann Mills Griffiths, executive director of the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia sister to Vietnam MIA Lt. Commander James B. Mills of the U.S. Navy Reserves. It is the same for those who have lost loved ones outside of the carnage of war too. 

It could be argued that it is the same for those who have never known important members of their family. A mother or father lost in war or to disease or simply absent leaves the same void for many children. A void that has no finality, no possible hope of closure. Our mortality to is in itself an absence, an uncertainty of what could have been or may never have been. The same day that officers descended on SoHo to continue the search for young Ethan the remains of Army Pfc. Richard E. Clapp, 19, of Seattle, Washington where discovered and began their journey home to friends and family who were still waiting for his return. Many more still wait for the lost to return in one way or another and many more wait for those that never were and never will be. 

In Russia a sudden series of teen suicides have been spreading throughout the former Soviet Union. In February two 14 year old girls, holding hands, leaped from a sixteen story rooftop. They were followed by countless others who chose to follow them in death through hangings or similar leaps. These children choose to join the ranks of the lost. One can only speculate as to the reasons for their desire to commit suicide but I would be willing to say that it had something to do with the individuals missing from their own lives. Russian authorities, on the other hand, cited the absence of mental health services and social support groups in a nation still suffering under the collapse of the soviet union. 

A countless number of people move through their day to day lives searching for someone who is missing. In the meantime they are surrounded by countless others just like themselves. Too few know they are not alone in this condition. Those two little girls in Russia may not have even known what individual was missing from the others life. They may never have even had the courage to ask. So, who is missing from your life? 


Friday, April 13, 2012


If you read my post yesterday you may have noticed an interesting fact I left out. Instagram is of course a company without profits or revenue but what it does have is users. About 10 million users. 10 million or so individuals who love sending photos to their friends. But wait couldn’t they already do that with their smart phone? Instagram does allow users to add crazy photo effects to pictures, although, this too could be easily accomplished before Instagram came along. So what is it that makes this app so appealing. It is simple to use and free; both points in its favor. But the app itself is not why Instagram is so successful. It is the photos.

A pictures says a thousand words...’ the most Cliche of phrases. True none the less. Recently Alison Nordström and Elizabeth McCausland released a new volume of Lewis Hine’s photographs. Hines’ was made famous by his photographs of Iron workers constructing the Empire State building and immigrants arriving at Ellis Island in New York. Instagram allows the average smartphone user to reproduce the brown hues or granny black and white that made Hine’s photos timeless. But it will take allot more to match the impact of his work as the photographer for  the National Child Labor Committee. It will take content. Content that simply is not mainstream nowadays.

Hine’s photographs turned the hearts and minds of millions of americans. Images of young boys working in coal mines and young girls crawling under gigantic cotton lumes proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that child labor was a problem in america. Everyone in america saw Hine’s photos. How many of us have seen a photo of a modern day coal worker? Type coal miner into google images. You’ll find hundreds of photos from Hine’s time period and a few from our own. Download any  photo of a modern coal miner to your phone and add the inkwell effect with Instagram and you have another timeless image like Hine’s.

The thing is you won’t. Images like those belonging to Hine’s still exist. Yes, of course we no longer have small children in the mines, but grown men are still descending into the dark unknown. Many more across the world in china are doing the same thing. Still more in between here and china take to the streets in places like Syria to struggle against repression and tyranny. Few if any photos arrive though from syria and of those that do slip out from china are few and seldom seen by the average american.

So what kind of power is there in a  image that's never seen? Instagram takes photos from your phone and in moments broadcasts them to every other human on the planet. In three seconds a photo is snapped, cropped, ‘photoshopped,’ and uploaded to facebook, blogger, and email. Whether those other people choose to view them is another story. And that is the point we come to. Instagram is not a force to be reckoned with because of its ease of use or even the content which people upload with it. Its impact comes from the other people. It comes from people viewing and interacting with those images. It derives its true effect when you choose to view photos of cats wearing funny hats instead of images of rural africa. Instagram is as much about the photos we don’t view rather than what we really use it for.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

One billion dollars.

One billion dollars.

If you are anything like me, or the other folks I work with, you most likely just read the title of this post with a Dr. Evil accent. I would like to think thats how it ran through the mind of Mark Zuckerberg recently when he decided to purchase the company instagram for exactly the same amount. $1,000,000,000 for a company with no profits, no revenue, and less than two dozen employees. A billion is a hard number to wrap one's mind around. It typically only comes up in conversation when discussing corporate profits or debating the finer points of government deficits. So what is a billion dollars?

The world population as of 2010 was beginning to close in on 7 billion humans. Only about 300 million of them live here in the US. But approx 1 billion occupy a continent just across the atlantic; Africa. Here in the US about 78 percent of people have internet access allowing them to join us in musing about the concept of a billion dollars. In Africa it is closer to 10 percent. About half of them live on less than one  dollar a day and about a third will go to bed hungry tonight. In the US the per capita income is $40,000. World wide approx 1 in 7 people go hungry every day, which conveniently enough, turns out to be approx One Billion.

A lot of numbers to toss around in your head, but still just numbers. You may feel outrage at the idea of a company with almost no tangible value selling for 1 billion dollars while a billion people across the globe go hungry. This outrage has no tangible basis, outrage at a number Many of us work for corporations with similarly outlandish monetary values. None of us actually ever see millions in cash being carried in or out of our offices, stores, or job sites. Almost no one reading this blog post has ever seen, met, or spoken to anyone living in Africa let alone encountered hunger on a personal level.

1 Billion. Enough money to double the per capita income of most of africa. A small connection. Maybe just enough to bridge the gap between us and them. What would it mean to you if your income doubled tomorrow? How much more would it mean if your children had been starving the day before? One Billion is a meaningless number to a woman in africa, but one dollar, one dollar would be worth killing for.

Numbers are a queer business. We probably see Billions of them in our lifetimes. Finances, math classes, election results, sports scores, weather reports; numbers poor into our lives at a steady and endless rate. With the advent of smartphones we all travel about with tiny computers in our pockets pouring digits into our hands and sometimes overwhelming us mentally and emotionally. Although, typically we manage, we are used to most of the quantities we encounter in our day to day lives. Repetition and the human races unique ability to catalog and sort through the endless amount of data in our lives have made us almost immune to most large numbers. Now with a 7 billion plus people roaming the earth, maybe we’ll soon learn to cope with the idea of a Billion. Maybe we’ll even learn how to use it.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Memories and Madness (Part III)

I have held onto precious instruments and I have lost others upon the hearth of love. I have listened to the tunes written for cows and sea shells and been left wishing that I had seen an old cow of my own sink into the dark depths of some bog; longed for the sights and smells of sea shells and sand. A fool I’ve been many times in love, now a long lost memory. All of this is madness and somewhere along the way I think I may have forgotten to take my meds…

The following is yet another chunk of lyrics, these from a much more modern song by the band Placebo. The band was founded around 1996, and released the record that bears this track as its title in 2006:


I was alone, falling free,
trying my best not to forget,
what happened to us, what happened to me,
what happened as I let it slip.

I was confused by the powers that be,
forgetting names and faces,
Passers by, were looking at me,
as if they could erase it.

Baby...did you forget to take your meds?

This song hit the airwaves, so to speak, the following year. It was right around the time I felt I too was going a bit mad. The bands name, according to Stefan Olsdal, comes from the Latin for ‘I please.’ It was intended in someway to be a stab at the 90’s cliché of naming bands after popular drugs. It’s a band name that could resonate with anyone caught up in an unauthentic existence trying only just hard enough to please the people around them.

This Song, and several others by the band, has been floating around on my IPOD ever since. The rest of the lyrics drive home the meaning:

Baby...did you forget to take your meds?

I was alone, staring over the ledge,
Trying my best not to forget,
all manner of joy, all manner of glee,
and our one heroic pledge.

How it mattered to us, how it mattered to me,
and the consequences.
I was confused, by the birds and the bees,
forgetting if i meant it.

I’ve fallen. I’ve been left holding onto whatever once was. I’ve been confused by sex, lust, music, drugs, and who ever it is that really is the ‘powers to be ‘ (I’m leaning towards the thought that no one is really in control…).  And now I have come to the point where I truly believe I may not be alone.

Although my path in life seems dedicated to it, and Musashi being my one true guide, I have found a pattern in the winds. When I play the tunes of old pipers gone to dust in the madness of love and war, when I turn on an old album, or when I sit and watch the comings and goings of the world around me, I keep feeling it. That MacDonald, Raghnall, Placebo, myself… we are not just isolated incidents. A pattern emerges. We are all together in being alone.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Love and Childhood Memories (Part II)

 An album tells a story just as well as any Bard of old. Here is an excerpt from an Album I’ve had since I was a great deal younger. Purchased direct from its creature while I was a student of hers at the Ohio Scottish Arts School:

Lament for Ronal MadDonald of Moroar/
South in Autumn
…as featured on Ann Gray’s 1998 Album ‘Shouting at Magpies.’

“Oh lad of the brown hair, your are eyes are autumn
Leaves fall like tears; I cannot cry
In bitter wind, then, my heart is lonely
Lonely hills and sky

The fields are untended, the cattle scattered
Magpies quarrel overhead
My thoughts are stones to throw at them

If you can, come to me again
Travel by little known ways
Through the high passes, before they fill with snow”

At home now they’ll be turning the fields,
The shadows lengthening, the winter coming
The rooks will call from trees without leaves,
And oh now the seasons are turning…

And if my feet had wings to fly, then tonight in your arms I’d lie
But I’m two hundred miles South in Autumn…

The battles lost, the battles won – are as a dream to me now
Amongst the heather
Of fine rain and mist, we are its children
And I slowly turn for home


I think I shall not see you again, last night a vision to me came
The women they were keening ‘round a hearth grown cold
And I had gone to my last battle


The lament was written for Ronald MacDonald of Morar, known in his time as Raghnall Mac Ailein Oig, a celebrated hero and composer. The tune it self, according to Barnaby Brown, falls with in the Free Lyrical form of the classic Ceol Mor tradition of Scotland. It is ‘unfettered by geometrical repeated patterns,’ other wise so common to other classic Pibrochs’. It’s a good tune but not one I’ve had the pleasure of learning.

Although, according to Highland legend as recorded by folklorist Calum MacLean in his 1959 book The Highlands, MacDonald may have composed another tune I learned as a young man:

‘There is one very lovely pibroch called, MacCrimmion’s Sweetheart… Tradition in the Arisaig district has it that the pibroch was composed… by Raghnall Mac Ailein Oig to a sea-shell that he picked up one day as he strode along the shore.’

According to Iain Macey, who taught me how to play the tune while I was attending his course on beginning piobroch, a different account of its creation could be given. His version, also recorded in MacLean’s book, told how one MacCrimmon wrote it for a favorite brown polled cow that fell into a bog…

Brown pulled cows aside, the tune holds too much emotional weight for me to play a note of it without the memories of my own love past filling my heart with remorse. It carries enough baggage for me to sink my own heart in any bog or swamp.

South in Autumn is a track that tells a tale of a man far from his love, unable to return to her side. At face value it would seem that the war that has separated him from his sweetheart would be difficult to relate to for you or I. But the emotions that come out are universal. The kind of emotions found in millions of love songs and thousands of lines of verse.

Something about being alone, far from the one you love. It strikes a cord deep inside anyone’s heart. Love; Lost or destroyed, in madness or death. That love ‘which paints the petal with myriad hues, glances in the warm sunbeam, arches the cloud with the bow of beauty, blazons the night with starry gems, and covers earth with loveliness.’ In the Highlands or Lowlands, the waters in the north or the mountains to our south. No difference is perceivable in what was and still exists in the hearts of all.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Fools and Love (Part I)

Coffee shops are a good place to tell stories. The following story immortalized Murdoch MacDonald as the “The Harper of Mull” and comes from M.P.A. Ramsay’s ed. of Tamahill’s Poems:

“In the Island of Mull there lived a harper who was distinguished for his professional skill, and was attached to Rosie, the fairest flower in the island, and soon made her his bride. Not long afterwards he set out on a visit to some low country friends, accompanied by Rosie, and carrying his harp, which had been his companion in all his journeys for years.

Overtaken by shades of night, in a solitary part of the country, a cold faintness fell upon Rosie, and she sank, almost lifeless, into the harper’s arms. He hastily wrapped his plaid around her frame, but to no purpose. Distracted, he hurried from place to place in search of fuel, to revive the dying embers of life. None could be found. His harp lay on the grass, its neglected strings vibrating to the blast. The harper loved it as his own life, but he loved his Rosie better then either.

His nervous arm was applied to its sides, and ere long it lay crackling and blazing on the heath. Rosie soon revived under its genial influence, and resumed the journey when morning began to purple the east. Passing down the side of the hill, they were meet by a hunter on horseback, who addressed Rosie in the style of an old and familiar friend.

The harper, innocent himself, and unsuspicious of others, paced slowly along, leaving her in converse with the stranger. Wondering at her delay he turned round and beheld the faithless fair seated behind the hunter on his steed, which speedily bore them out of sight. The unhappy, transfixed with astonishment, gazed at them. Then, slowly turning his steps homewards, he, sighing, exclaimed –

‘Fool that I was to burn my harp for her!’

Before the Bagpipe took hold in Scotland, the Bard and the Harper held dominion on the Battle Field and by the hearth. They where the keepers of the cultural store house, so to speak, of the Isles and recounted genealogies and histories, tragedies and tales of adventure. MacDonald, in many accounts, is referenced as the last of the Harpers. He reportedly died in 1789 just a few years after the Highland Society began its first Piobaireachd competitions in Scotland.

I could never claim the innocents of the Harper in this story. I have though sacrificed an instrument before for the purpose of visiting a fair flower of my own. One that was long gone before my feet ever took to the road… thankfully it was not my pipes.

I wonder how far MacDonald’s feet carried him before Rosie was pushed from memory. If ever he could, how did he move on? Harps are replaced easily. A little time and money and a new instrument replaces an old one. Although, I'm sure none of the Harpers I have known in my life would agree. 

It should be left at that. A harp, a set of pipes, a fiddle; none are equivalent to the love of ones life. But who among us knows for sure whom that is, in till our lives are already completed. In the mean time we keep walking. As MacDonald, we let our feet carry us forward down the road, even as we are forced to leave the one we loved behind.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Government Conspiracies: Agenda 21, Light Bulbs, and Smart Meters

Government Conspiracies

Agenda 21, Light Bulbs, and Smart Meters

A few weeks back I opened the local paper. I was sitting at work on my lunch break, and as I often do I turned to the Readers Tell Us column, a local section where readers can call in and leave their personal remarks on local and national issues. A individual had called in to complain about the current federal regulations restricting the sale and manufacture of incandescent light bulbs.  This is a complaint that has been made repeatedly by every one from presidential candidate Newt Gingrich to local Tea Party groupies. But this time the argument, or compliant, was not about having his personal liberties encroached by the new restrictions. The individual was insisting that his home heating bills had increased do to the removal of incandescent light bulbs from his home. He claimed that the bulbs had produced so much heat that their absence was causing a increase in his heating bills.

This sort of argument is becoming more and more commonplace. Today the New York Times printed an article featuring a number of arguments about how local plans to develop green spaces, reduce carbon footprints of local communities, and even smart meters where all products of a U.N. conspiracy to create a new world order.[1] In the past these concerns would have been brushed aside as non-sense. Today with the growing presence of local Tea Party Groups these sorts of arguments are having considerable impact on decision-making on the local level.

If we look to the Chicago-Sun Times we see how misguided such fears are.[2] To steal a quote Kateri Callahan president of the Alliance to Save Energy, stated:

 “There is a lot of misinformation… Retailers don’t have to take inventories of old bulbs off the shelves. The government is not going to come into homes to check. ... You’re still going to be able to buy incandescent bulbs. They’re just going to be 28 to 30 percent more efficient.”

So the gentlemen above may still not be placed at ease because more efficient bulbs mean less of the ambient heat that represents the primary source of wasted energy. Although the pro and cons of ‘light bulb home heating’ seem like something better left up to the Myth Busters we can rest assured that when big brother does invade our homes it wont be to check our desk lamps. For the time being make sure to check out this article and Wikipedia for a break down of the different kinds of bulbs:

Newt and his Tea Party fans commonly cite the same UN resolution when defending their fears of a new world ‘lighting’ agenda. It is ominously titled ‘Agenda 21.’[3] Apparently no one at the UN has a degree in marketing, because naming your environmental initiatives in the same way B-movie directors name films is no way to win over the masses. Upon actually reading Agenda 21 you’ll find a very vague plan for reducing consumption and limiting development in rural areas. The plan for in acting this agenda is more carrot then stick. It involves offering developing countries special financing for local planning and developing. For big countries it means mostly education and out reach. If this is the new world order we’re to fear, then we truly have nothing to fear but fear it self.

That is simply what most of the Tea Party’s outrage boils down to, blind fear. Individuals who, do to a lack of education, old age, misinformation from media and politicians, or simple laziness, lack the ability to adapt to an ever-changing world. This is not new. It is a story as old as time. People fear change. Therefore people fear funny shaped light bulbs. What do you fear?


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