Posts Tagged ‘success’

Golden gated possibilities

June 18, 2012

The Golden Gate bridge was completed and dedicated for use in 1937. It was a pretty impressive piece of work. Check it out:

The idea of actually building this necessarily very big, complex structure took hold among some forward-thinking people; they were business leaders on the far side of the San Francisco bay area, in Santa Rosa, north of the waterway. Those enterprising folks in the California outback got together and started pushing the preposterous idea of building a bridge. Everybody who looked into the possibility of such a project knew it would be a tall order, no doubt about it.

Could such a thing even be done?

The Chamber of Commerce in the city of Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, set the wheels of potential progress in motion. That is to say, in 2012 parlance, the “private sector.”  haha. They ran with the idea of getting something started. Together with “public sector” legislative bodies, the elected Board of Supervisors of Santa Rosa and of San Francisco, they recruited some engineers to actually get the ball rolling on the design requirements of such a gargantuan task.

An elected governmental body, the California legislature, eventually took on the massive project in 1928, turning its implementation over to their highway department. Bond financing became a problem in 1930, after the Crash when times were hard and folks didn’t have much money. Many didn’t even have, as they say, “two dimes to rub together.” So a major player in the financial industry, a founder of the Bank of America in San Francisco, bailed out the debt logjam by, according to Wikipedia, agreeing to buy the public-issue bonds, in order to get the bridge constructed.  Actual construction work began in 1933.

By April of 1937, long story short, there was a bridge where none had been before; and now, seventy-five years later, it’s still there. I know this is true. Pat and I have walked across the thing many times, even though we live in North Carolina.  Our business-administrating son, a SF resident, rode across it yesterday on his bicycle.

These things have happened in history. Put that in your public/private-sector pipe and smoke it, all ye 21st-century couch-potatoed Americans. Where there’s a will, as our grandparents used to say back in the day, there’s a way.  And they proved it.

Now these days, such projects would be much more complicated.

Or are they? Well, yes, but that’s a deep subject.

These days, you can’t just cook up a big project like that and go out and round up a bunch of folks in need of work and get them to do the thing. Americans don’t work like that any more, and besides, our infrastructure is already built anyway, right? I mean, nowadays you can’t just find a bunch of shovel-wielding fellers and get ’em to dig a big hole in the ground, pour some concrete and steel into it, then do the same on the other side, and bolt up a bridge between them. Can’t do it. Americans don’t work like that any more. We’re not programmed like in the 21st-century.

I wonder what it is that Americans can do now. We are, you know, pretty damned good at, what? making excuses, blameshifting? These days, we’re about as likely to do a big collective work like that as we are to wander out in the yard and watch the sun heat up the roof, or watch the lawn grow.

Glass half-Full

The Swan Song of J. Al DasCapital

May 24, 2012

For some it’s a good thing; for others a bad,

to be like the capitalist, or provoke socialist rad.

Back in the day, Rockefeller and Carnegie forged the enterprise deal;

JPMorgan and Ford cranked up  capitalist zeal.

But then in ’29 the machine broke down; all hell broke loose.

It was a train wreck for sure, from engine to caboose.

Smart as he was,  Hoover was thought clueless in ’32,

so they brought in Roosevelt to set up a new deal crew.

The gov from New York saved us, so they say,

with a big shot of socialism,  making work for payday.


Now these days, since the meltdown of ’08,

we’ve the same situation, but reverse, on our plate:

Big Spender Barack’s in the driver’s seat; he’s catchin’ the flack,

while Money-movin’ Mitt says its time to get back

to those good ole days when investors and innovators were calling the shots,

before all these Keynesian Krugmanites got the hots

for quantitative easing, and stimulus, and priming the pump;

’cause they give us a ride, but we don’t get over the hump.


Now out here on Main Street where the grassroots grow,

in the shops and garages where the mom and pops know,

we whip up the long tails; we push pins in the bubbles;

we wink at the black swans and laugh at the troubles.

Class warfare’s just a phrase in some socialist goad,

inequality  just a pothole, a mere bump in the road.

No flash-tradin’ froth, no credit default fizz,

we just work with what can be, and we deal with what is.

If the day ever comes when the gov regulates us beyond reason,

or corporations have all the wealth tied up for the season,

we’ll just stick out our necks and  we’ll sing our swan song,

cuz life in the free market goes on and goes on.

Glass half-Full

Time for Soul-searching

April 26, 2012

America needs to find something else to do besides argue and complain. Each man, each woman has a destiny to fulfill.

Get hooked up with some person or organization with which you can at least partially agree; get your hands, your feet, your mind busy, to solve the problems that confound you now.

Act on behalf of those whom you love– those for whom you are responsible; assist those who are responsible for you.

If you are in a mess, Big Brother is not going to get you out of it. The government may toss a few greenbacks and food stamps your way, but ultimately you are responsible for your own life.

You go-getters out there–no corporation will fill your destiny. If you want to become an integral link in a corporate structure, remember: its all about what you can do for the company, not what the company can do for you. You do your job right and the good stuff will come after many days.

Get busy. Look around you. Find something in your vicinity that needs doing, and do it, whether that makes you underpaid, underemployed, or seemingly underutilized. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done out there in getting this country turned around from our present dead-end of overinstitutionalism and overgovernmentalization. We need to restructure from the ground up. And I do mean the ground literally. This could involve growing some vegetables or something like that.

If you’re at a loss as to how to find some direction, take some time for a little soul-searching. That’s what I did a few decades ago, and I was never the same afterward. I wrote a song about it: Like Moses, like Martin Luther King, I took a walk up the mountain.

CR, with new novel, Smoke, in progress

Trading a rose for a smile

March 17, 2012

It is amazing what I learned last night at a children’s play.

A revised presentation of the the classic Snow White tale was the setting. The blooming adolescents and children of Crossway church were the players.

In the story, an obsessively vain queen is hung up with jealousy as she compares her beauty to that of another woman. The young Snow White, object of the evil queen’s discontent, becomes a target of the wicked queen’s deadly schemes.

While the queen strives to reign over her subjects with harsh oppression, her unwittingly innocent nemesis finds abundant favor among the people, without even trying. Snow’s goodness outshines the queen’s ill-intent all over the place, especially in the village.

You understand the “village” in literary speak, don’t you? In this morality play, the village is like, the world in general, like, you know, the one we live in. And in this world we’ve got evil queens; we’ve got nefarious kings. And we’ve got Snow White types of good people. And then we’ve got, like, everything in between those two extremes, in adolescent-speak.

In this world we’ve got Hitlers and Bashar al-Assads; but we’ve also got George Washingtons and Vaclav Havels.

Well I’m here to tell you that the good gals and guys win in the end; that’s what this Christian thing is all about. Read the book and find out about it.

Anyway, here I am telling you what I really learned in this drama presented by a bunch of kids, with a little help from their parents of course.

The lesson took me by surprise. Snow White had just met a young prince–“the” young prince in the story. They were in the, as it were, marketplace, in the village–the main street, high street, the mall, whatever.  The young man is enamored of her beauty, of course–that’s a classic component of the story–the girl’s beauty; but even more importantly, especially in the context of this Christianized revision of the tale, Snow’s goodness, her godly character, is the shining attribute of her persona.

What the young prince does at that moment is the lesson. He trades a rose for a smile.

He hands a rose to Snow White; then she smiles. And that smile, on her loving, womanly face, becomes his inspiration and motivation from that moment onward.

And I realized, as I sat in the audience and watched the prince “trade a rose for a smile,” that I have spent the last 32 years of my life trading the the thorny, withering blooms of this life for my wife’s smile.

I have spent most of my adult life, and thankfully more than half of my entire life, loving one woman, and gathering joy abundantly just by making her happy. Just by seeing her smile. Her joy is what makes my life complete, and her well-being is what makes my life work. Furthermore, she feels the same about me. She is all about love. That’s what I detected in her smile. I caught a glimpse of that love that nurtures and prospers all that she sets her hands to, that love that birthed and raised our three children, that love that promotes excellence in her nursing professionalism, that love that fills every nook and cranny of our life together.

True love is the most powerful connection in this life.  Like the young prince in the story, I traded a rose for her smile over three decades ago; life has been so much better than it otherwise would have been because we made that commitment.

She gave me beauty for the ashes of my own self-effort; she gave me oil of joy for the mourning of this world’s reprobate condition; and she gave me a garment of praise that outshines the darkness of my self-importance.

Thank God.

Foundation for Debt Ceiling Research

January 8, 2012

Now is the time for all top dawgs to come to the aid of their country, y’all.

I’m talking about heavy hitters like Warren Buffett and Donald Trump, people whose impact can really make a difference.  If Donald and Warren want to contribute their money-gathering expertise to our national improvement, I propose they should organize three great charitable fundraising events. I’m suggesting that these guys do it because I’m just, like, one little guy with a big idea. But these two have the real wherewithal to get something done in the interests of balanced fiscality.

So, the first  fundraiser would be a prize-fight in Atlantic City featuring George Soros v. David Koch.

The second would be a fight in Las Vegas between Bill Ayers and Charles Koch.

The third would be a tag-team wrestling match with the four heavyweights in Chicago.

Referees would be Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid.

Rush Limbaugh and Chris Matthews would serve as the official voices of USA Spurts.

All proceeds would go to the brand-new Foundation for Debt Ceiling Research, to be fiduciarially managed  jointly by Goldman Sachs and ACORN.

So Warren and Donald, when you get a minute, give me a call and we’ll get going on this thing.

Glass Chimera

Rascals, Scoundrels, and Settlers

November 19, 2011

Rascals rock the boat. Scoundrels would sink it, but Settlers stabilize it.

The boat, in this case, is the USS America.

The Rascals have sensed that something is rotten in Denver, or in Dallas or Detroit, or in anyTown USA. This is certainly true. But hey….they don’t know what to do about it. And since their unemployed, or underemployed, or uneducated or unsettled condition renders the rascals relatively impotent to reshape the world according their tender sense of injustice, they take to the streets in protest. I can relate to it. I was out in the streets when we were in VietNam. Getting out there to make a stand seems like a cathartic something to do;  it is exciting, with all the comraderie and the shared suffering– until the nearby residents, shopkeepers, and civic leaders start upping the ante on the physical consequences of Occupation. Then the cops hype their heretofore patient vigilance into riot-gear insensibility.

Behind the scenes, chronic malcontents would manipulate the wandering rascals, maneuvering their newfound funk toward some kind of revolution, as yet unfocused. Maybe its Lennon’s revolution, or Lenin’s, or Marx’s, or Stephen Lerner’s, Naomi’s, or David’s, who knows.

There is a lot to be upset about, for sure. The rascals are enraged about the greedy corporations, mad at the mediocre politicians, intimidated by the police, yeah yeah. They screw you, yeah yeah yeah. A witch’s brew of issues boil up here: the destabilizing consequences of  competing globalized economies, inequality, outsourcing, bailouts for the 1%, outlandish executive bonuses, unpayable student loans, epidemic foreclosures, environmental degradation, polluted groundwaters, obsessive plastic lifestyles, plastic garbage in the Pacific, filthy pipelines, fracking, fricking…

It is true that we Americans need to be roused, before it is too late, out of our hydrocarbon/carbohydrate stupor, part of which is our self-immolating oil addiction. Our petrochemical habit is a dependency that has economically castrated this formerly-great nation’s independence, and greased us down into a red-light slow-idle energy complacency, comfortably numbed by an obsessive compulsion for visual and audial stimulation.

Up on Capitol Hill– where the WallStreet lobbying 1% conduct their dissonant orchestrations of unfunded mediocrity, the politicians pontificate about a lot of smokescreen issues. For instance, the so-called Solyndra-gate.

This is political grandstanding is dangerous. Their disengenuous inquisitions distract us from some imminent good news: New American job-creating possibilities  are actually being worked on, even as we speak, if the government does not obstruct.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, somewhere in America a few enterprising business people have, believe it or not, quietly settled into the tasks of doing what needs to be done.

… like, heating up technologies to elevate us out self-destructive oil addiction.

Yesterday, while up on a roof clearing gutters, I heard on the radio about two trailblazing west coast solar-tech  producers. Although Solar World and Solaria are not the the only two companies breaking new industrial ground, they are quietly settling us into a homesteading path that leads to real solar-tech cost-reduction productivity. Very soon (if not already), these manufacturers will, with a little help from their many power-hungry friends (US consumers), mass-produce photovoltaic roof- panels on an unprecedented scale. Affordability for John and Jane Doe will be the outcome.

I tuned into the ear-opening update about Solar World and Solaria yesterday while listening to NPR’s ScienceFriday. As it happened, Ira Flatow’s enquiry to the companies’ respective spokesmen, Gordon Binser and Dan Shugar, focused largely on a side issue; the issue was what Gordon Binser calls “illegally subsidized” Chinese dumping of artificially cheapened solar panels. But the entirety of thieir podcast discussion reveals far more than a cordial dispute between two industry leaders about trade strategies.  A half-hour listen draws us into a persuasive force field of updated solar capabilities. For instance, according to Dan Shugar and Gordon Binser:

~100,000 people are employed in US solar industry today. That’s more folks than are working in coal mines, and more than in steel mills.

~The industry grew by 69% last year.

~5000 companies are involved in solar technology here today.

~Labor expense is only 10% of the cost of solar panels. So the issue of Chinese (or developing nations) competition is not as difficult as we might at first think.

~The relative fragility of glass panels reinforces the logic of domestic production and distribution.

~Actual production levels of rooftop electricity are approaching (or already at) a scale that is competitive with other power-generating sources such as nuclear and coal.

~Last year, the solar industry in USA installed, operated and delivered 17 Gigawatts of electricity, the equivalent of 17 nuclear power plants in the middle of a day.

~In the summertime, there is a direct, favorable correlation between solar energy supply and the peak power demand occasioned by widespread air-conditioning.

~When smartly integrated, individual home installations (or institutional ones) can be connected to our existing power infrastructure (with modifications)  to inject electricity into the cumulative power grid. Thus, consumers can become net PRODUCERS of electrical power at certain times of the day, thus lowering their electric bills.

~As demand for solar installations has grown, the cost-reduction curve has followed the same pattern of cell phones, computers, and dvd players. Bet you didn’t know that, huh?

~Solar World has over 1000 employees in Oregon, and has been making photovoltaic panels for over 35 years.

~In Germany, there are some peak-demand times when 40% of contributed electrical input is being generated by solar panels.

I was quite impressed with all these statistics, both yesterday as I heard Dan and Gordon list them for Ira on the radio, and this morning when I replayed the ScienceFriday podcast.

So hey! In the turbidity of all this stir-crazy Occupy controversy, and right in the middle of the bad banking news and European woes, here we find some very real, very timely good news about newfound American industrial innovation, and developing job opportunities on the dark-cloud horizon, maybe even on your community’s own rooftops.

What Dan and Gordon communicated to Ira really comes down to this: the time for cost-effective solar design and application is no longer future. It is now. This is one sector of manufacturing that the Chinese will not be able to dominate, because our automated capabilities can effectively competetive with developing-world low-wage production expense (which is only 10% of a solar panels cost).

And everybody needs a little sustainable wattage.

So, all you angst-ridden discontented shivering souls out there–

Before you Occupy the frigid streets and possibly get thereby injured, infected or arrested, think about a productive alternative:

Occupy, for an hour or two while you fill out the application, the human resources foyer of your local appropriate technology producer. If you don’t find one locally, maybe you’d become the entrepreneur-installer to heat up this movement in your community. Perhaps you’d  be the first one in your community to capitalize on this work–work that really needs to be done if America is going to continue to Occupy its Can-do legacy. The time to Occupy energy independence is now.

Think about it. Like Ira mused yesterday: we Americans invented the light bulb; we invented the energy-generating solar roof panel.

What’s the next thing (or process, or service) we need to invent to light our way out of this oil-pit we’ve dug ourselves into?

Glass half-Full

Why I am a Republocrat

November 17, 2011

The other night Pat and I were enjoying a meal in our home with a couple of dear friends. Our after-dinner conversation turned to heartfelt expressions about past, present and future. In the midst of some shared recollections about previous phases of our life, I wondered aloud about how this idealistic young McGovernite college kid could now find myself, at age sixty, running with a bunch of Republicans.

Then last night, Pat asked me why I am uncomfortable being a Republican. I found myself unable to offer an answer. But today, after some mulling the question over, I collected a few thoughts.

I am in fact not a Republican at heart, although I am registered to vote that way. But that’s because I’m not a dam Democrat either, and wouldn’t want to be caught dead anywhere near their gov’ment-take-all way of doing things.

Here is why:

I believe in the power, proven in our American history, of a free people to do great works. I believe in the limitless possibilities of a free people who, with their individual liberties constitutionally assured, can do what needs to be done, and prosper while performing it, both individually and collectively.

I believe in free enterprise, free markets, free trade, the invisible hand, Main Street, and God.

I believe human life, from its earliest inception , is worthy to receive the protection of the law.

These days, although I empathize with the opportunity-challenged. underemployed Occupy wall street 99% crowd, I also have no complaint with the so-called 1% gathering as much wealth as they can accumulate. The rich cats can only squander so much of the gravy before spreading some of that prosperity around as expenditures and investments, whereby the rest of us 99% can catch a little of the action.

Philosophically, I do not favor the practice of governmental income redistribution, and I surely do not want to see government take over everything– not health care, not business, not philanthropy, not any of that stuff that good citizens ought to be doing from the abundance of their own hard-earned resources.

Now perhaps you can see why I am not a Democrat, and here’s why I am not really a Republican either.

Beginning about 200 years ago our pioneering American spirit began to focus on settling and developing the north American continent. Figuratively speaking, yankee industry, southern agronomy, widespread entrepreneurship and nascent capitalism took on the challenges of capitalizing and developing this exceptional experiment in democratic/republican nationhood that we call the United States of America.

Led by wealth-seeking industrialists and prosperity-seeking workers, we built in short order an amazing infrastructure of railroads, electricity grids, highways, airways and communication networks. Thousands,  yea I say unto thee millions, of folks got in on the action and got a slice of the copious wealth. We were in high cotton for 150 years or so, in spite of a depression or recession or two.

But now we’ve gotten lazy. And I’m not just talking about couch-potato consumers. Now, American business, unwilling to take on the risks—and the sweat and the toil and the uncertainty—of capitalizing the upgraded prerequisite infrastructure  for 21st-century prosperity, dithers with profit-obsessive derivatives and credit default swap schemes, instead of venturing out into the new frontiers of what really needs to be done.

The infamous, phantasmic Wall Street, whatever that is, refuses to capitalize for us a way out of the self-destructive oil addiction rut in which we find ourselves cluelessly  bogged down. I can’t blame the Dems for taking a stab at these dependencies when our famous free enterprise entities won’t, or can’t,  take a chance on it. So the self-appointed prophets and the planners and the socialists and the gov’ment do-gooders and the democrats and the intellectual elites  want to take on the burdens of what unbridled industry used to do. Maybe they’ve overregulated the captains of industry into neutralized industrial impotence, I don’t know, but now it seems that the Dems want the government to initiate everything. Meanwhile, the Repubs are still dreaming in lala land about  bonuses, unfettered capitalism and tax shelters.

If I could, I would cast out  both the demonDemo bureaucrats and the corporatublican devils.

What has happened to our business leadership in this country? Have they abdicated the wealth-generating mantle of industrial innovation?

President Reagan, patron saint of the Repubs, said that government IS the problem. But now, thirty years later, that’s only half the picture. We’ve got a new problem: business.

Business is the problem—not enough of it. Why has business shrunk from the profit-possibility challenges of the 21st century? Why have the capitalists conceded the venture-risking function to government? Why? Because there’s not enough money to be made, and too much risk and expense required to do the work that needs to be done. Call uncle Sam, even if he’s broke busted and his mother can’t be trusted. He”ll take the risk; he’s got a pump-priming Fed to back him up.

Where are the Rockefellers, Carnegies, Edisons, Fords, Morgans and Watsons of our era? For that matter, where is the Gates, or Jobs, of the next generation?

In Congressional hearings today… Solyndra? Hey, I don’t care about the rhetorical politicized blameshifting and fault-finding. Solyndra was attempting to do the work that needs to be done, before wily Chinese competition cut them out of the emerging solar collector market.  Where’s the company that will, Henry Ford-like, put a solar collector on every roof by capitalizing mass-produced affordability in that sector? Where’s the UAW that’s willing to cut a deal so that every half-prosperous American can afford to put an electric vehicle in their garage? Where’s the bold corporation that will take a chance on new-tech American bullet trains?

It almost appears that American business, labor and industry has outlived its usefulness. How can that great trail-blazing entrepreneurial thrust of ages gone by be recovered, and recycled?

Don’t get me started; I’m a Republocrat, and dam proud of it.

Glass Chimera


The American

September 24, 2011

The American invents things, develops new technologies, seeks efficiency, strives for productivity, turns a profit, pays taxes, lives and dies.

The American wants to be self-reliant, but expects there are times  when seeking the help of others is necessary. Independence is a state to be sought after, but when in the course of human events in becomes necessary to link with others in order to get the job done, then so be it. He doesn’’t want to ask what others can do for him, preferring instead to ask, “How can we help you today?”

The American takes personal responsibility seriously. She works hard, but takes some time off now and then.  He generally knows what he wants, but realizes you get what you can until what you want is within reach.

The American collaborates with others to build bridges. Sometimes she discovers deep down inside a destructive impulse to burn those bridges. Maybe she herself has been burned, with injustice or abuse. But what good can come of being vindictive? To forgive is divine. To move on is necessary.

An American gets a transfer, or switches jobs when it just ain’t happenin’

He plans ahead, but expects the unexpected. If something can go wrong, it will. He’ll cross that bridge when he comes to it. She sees obstacles ahead, but doesn’t obsess about them; they are understood to be part of the landscape. Trouble comes with the territory.

Yet is he faithful, and knows when to persist, and when enduring humiliation is a chasm that must be crossed. She perseveres through thick and thin.

The American may occasionally use objectionable language, but he learns that inserting the f-word, the n-word, and a few other ill-advised utterances can prove self-defeating. A tactful propriety may prove more productive, and even political correctness has some value now and then. Euphemism can be fun, but speaking truth plainly when others are occupied with beating around the bush can prove quite expedient. Cut to the chase.

The American speaks correction to a bully, a thief, or a drunk.

Most of the time, he is kind, but every now and then a little means streak comes out, and must be checked.

She’ll cut you some slack, but understands there comes a time to take it back, for your own good, of course.

The American is neighborly, but he doesn’t pry into other people’s business.

She is tolerant, peace-loving. He defends the weak instead of exploiting them.

She minds her own business, but persists in making appropriate inquiries; he sees that some folks want to be left alone.

The American wants to discern the difference between a means to an end, and an end itself.

She tries to save money, like grandma used to do. He wants to work hard for everything he has, but sometimes just an afternoon of NCAA basketball will contribute miles of inspiration that neutralizes exhaustion. With potato chips and a beer or two.

He doesn’t do pie in sky, nevertheless understands the power of dreams.

She appreciates the liberty of being casual, but enjoys spiffing up when it is time for cuttin’ a shine.

He takes a shower every Saturday evening whether he needs it or not.

The American turns on his hot water spigot, his car ignition, her electric light, but takes it for granted. It may not always be so easy.

Playing by the rules is a prerequisite for order and for decency, but there are some times when practicality, or fair play, requires that the rules to be set aside. Wisdom is knowing the difference.

The American respects law, but has been known to occasionally scoot under the changing red, on a bad day.

On a good day, which is most of them, he’ll wait his turn.

The American avoids talking about religion or politics. If you believe that, I’ve got some swamp land in Arizona I’ll sell ya. De Tocqueville can tell you more about that.

The American is a democrat, or a republican, but that third-party possibility is always in the back of his mind; it could happen, although when’s the last time it did? 1840? Who knows? Wikipedia?

The American is liberal, maybe even a socialist, but possibly a conservative, perhaps a libertarian, but not a communist, although those who wish to stand beneath that banner have liberty to do so. But they are barking up the wrong tree, or spinning their muddy wheels.

It’s a free country.

The American votes, and likes to keep up with what’s going on in the world, and to form an opinion of her own, although it is not so different from everybody else’s as she might think. Hey, everybody has an opinion, but what’s it worth?

What’s it to ya?

Through each American–through her, through him–government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth, if that citizen is willing to do her part, and pull his weight. The American says keep up the good work, and keep on keepin’ on.

Last one out, turn off the lights.

Btw, Are you an American?

Glass half-Full

Praise God for the NAACP

July 25, 2010

Praise God for the NAACP, an organization in which a person is still able to publicly testify, without nitpicky persecution, about what God has done for her.

Shirley Sherrod recently addressed a convention of their members at the Freedom Fund banquet. She delivered a powerful, timely message for  that organization, and indeed for our nation during this perilous time. You may want to watch Shirley’s entire address as it has posted online,

Her testimony constitutes an exemplary demonstration of how one person who has love, a constructive attitude, and a little help from God can overcome adversity. Ms.Sherrod has persevered though lifelong persecution and  hate to make a positive impact on a dysfunctional society. Hers is a rare contribution in a world ithat desperately needs  help.
I’d like to share with you a few selections from what she told the NAACP that night of March 27, 2010. The rest of this blog consists of quotes I have selected from Ms. Sherrod’s message:

“I knew that on the night of my father’s death (in June, 1965, ed.), I felt I had to do something.I had to do something in answer to what had happened. My father wasn’t the first black person to be killed. He was a leader in the community. He wasn’t the first one to be killed by white men in the county. But I couldn’t just let his death go without doing something in answer to what had happened. I made the commitment on that night at the age of 17 that I would not leave the south, that I would stay in the south and devote my life to working for change…”

“Two weeks after I had gone to school at Fort Valley, they called and told me that a bunch of white men had gathered outside our home one night and burned a cross….”

“My mother and my sister were out on the porch, with a gun…she saw some of them; she recognized some of them. She said: ‘I see you. I know who you are.'”
“She became the first black official in Baker County, just 11 years later, and she is still serving, y’all.  She’s chair of the board of education, and she’s been serving almost 34 years.”

“I didn’t know how I would carry out my commitment that night…”

“…that night…I was back in one of the bedrooms praying, asking God to show me what I could do.  I didn’t have… the path wasn’t laid out…there that night…I just made a decision that I would stay and work (instead of moving up north, ed.),  and young people,  I want you to know that when you are true to what God wants you to do, the path just opens up, and things just come to you.  God is good; I can tell you that.”

“…I’ve come a long ways. I know that I couldn’t live with hate, you know. As my mother had said to so many, “If we had tried to live with hate in our hearts, we would probably  be dead now. But I’ve come to realize that we have to work together, and it’s sad that we don’t have a room full of whites and blacks here together tonight, because we have to overcome the divisions…”

Oil-bustin’ mycoplasm laboratorium, someday?

May 24, 2010

The nano-revolution is presently poised to catapult genetics biology into an exponential expansion.
Thanks to Professors Craig Venter, Hamilton Smith, and their colleagues, we now know we can “boot up” software in a living cell.
According to this week’s Economist article about their gene-bustin’ research, we’ve now crossed “a milestone on the road from the craft of biotechnology, which manipulates genes one at a time, to the industry of synthetic biology, which aims to make wholesale changes to living things.”
Pretty big progress, coming from a little mycoplasma.
These persistent researchers have now demonstrated that synthetic chromosomes can be gathered and harnessed, like oxen or a mules bred for specific purposes, to perform genetic tasks in the laboratory.
The scientists started with a computer program, and four chemicals–adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine. They whipped up a laboratory concoction, inserted it into a host organism, and came up with a designer life-form.

Intelligent design, don’t you know.
Surely this is a Nobel Prize breakthrough. These guys put together a self-replicating cell whose parent is a computer.

Perhaps one day, they, or those researchers who come after them, will engineer, let’s say, a new algae organism that can produce biofuels on a commercially viable scale.  The naturally-occurring algae are, you see, not inclined to do such a thing. But with a little nudging from us human taskmasters, they could be persuaded to maybe plow up our hydrocarbonal fallow ground for us.
These constructed genes can, as David Baltimore said on the Diane Rehm Show, “drive a cell.”
I think we’ll be, in days to come, like the pioneers of old, who would drive a mule to get the back forty plowed, except that our new customized chromosomal critters will be breaking new ground for medical and environmental progress. Agricultural too, no doubt.

Steve Roberts, sitting in for Diane Rehm this (Monday) morning, facilitated an incredibly instructive discussion about this most recent accomplishment. David Rejeski referred to the breakthrough as “gaining control of matter at a nano level.” Steve Roberts mentioned that we are moving forward toward “controlling the building blocks” of the next industrial revolution.

David Baltimore recounted that we have been on a path of microbiological progress that turned a big corner in 1953. That’s when Watson and Crick described the molecular structure of DNA.  Since that time we’ve learned to read that genetic code, and to even recreate it. Now, according to Baltimore, we can “see the trajectory of it (our accumulating knowledge.)”

Scientists work collaboratively toward synthesizing more and more genes. It will be a lot of work, for a long time. In the human genome–the main one we’re trying to sustain and protect– are contained 3 billion base-pairs of nucleotides.

This blob-buster microcoding has been a long time in the making–three and a half billion years, accoding to Craig Ventor, the originator of the mycoplasma laboratoriam project.

What an amazing age we live in.

However, not to oil on our parade or anything, but meanwhile down in the gulf…
Other, less controlled human experiments spew hydrocarbon muck irretrievably  into the murky waters just south of Louisiana.
Maybe one day we’ll concoct a nano chromosome to corral a brand-new organism into eating up oil spills.
It will be a petri-dish organism, a Glass Chimera.