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Leland Waldrip

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Optimism Rides A Strange Vehicle
by Leland Waldrip   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Monday, July 21, 2008
Posted: Sunday, July 20, 2008

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Winds of change are stirring.





A couple of years ago I penned a short poem to cast the old argument between optimism and pessimism in a different light. I called it “Ah, Pragmatism!”


“Glass half full,” some say,


“Half empty!” others inveigh.


Depends what it is, I think,  


Before I’d gurgle a big drink!


For some forty years, since the 1970’s, I’ve had little choice in characterizing my view of the long-term outlook for America and the world. Whether the glass is half full or half empty, if we look at the glass as the prospect for an improving quality of life, the word had to be “pessimistic.” As I watched society, both locally and globally, hurdle down the road toward a nightmare of deficit petroleum production and surplus demand, before my eyes the atmosphere loaded up with choking greenhouse gasses and the ecology fell into a state of disintegration.


But at long-last an aroma of hope wafts across the landscape. Around the world, in the U.S., Europe, Japan, India, Australia, Indonesia and even China, the winds of change are blowing and the sails of alternative energy are filling. That vessel is gathering strength, beginning to move. Everywhere there are efforts under way to identify combinations of energy sources that can power transportation, homes and commercial buildings at dramatically reduced costs. There seems to be a consensus that finding a single solution is not the way of the future, but rather finding fractional solutions such that in the aggregate these techniques provide the better part of it. Remnant oil may have to furnish the remainder.  


Physicists, chemists, engineers and an army of garage mechanics are searching for more useful combinations and uses of materials to replace fossil fuels alone as the energy that moves the world. And there is progress being made in solar, both in photovoltaic cells and passive technologies, wind turbines, geothermal (from hot springs and from natural residual earth temperature), in electro-storage battery technology, hydro power, ocean wave energy capture, techniques for shifting power surpluses to power deficit areas through power grid extensions, hydrogen power through hydrolysis and/or chemical reactions, and undoubtedly there are other techniques forming behind the scenes that are still hidden pending secure patent protections. And these processes have the promise of exponential growth.


Everywhere, people are examining the cost of piling our household trash into landfills that promise only continuing problems for the future. Instead, these smelly residues of society are being looked at as sources of feedstock for new processes of bio-diesel and ethanol that have a neutral or negative cost (citizens who dump at the landfills are often charged fees). Everywhere, there seems to be an attitude of turning wasteful practices into beneficial ones, of turning around and tuning in to the natural processes of the earth.


So what is fueling this vehicle, this “wind of change” attitude, this aroma of excitement? The knowledge seeping into consciousness everywhere that life won’t long be sustainable at the rate we are pumping greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere is the backdrop factor. But the most immediate factor is the price of gasoline and heating oil.


There is the old joke about a balky mule. The mule driver picked up a two-by-four and whacked the mule between the eyes. When the mule regained his feet he pulled the load. A bystander asked, “Why did you do that?” The driver said, “He always listens to me, but I have to get his attention first.”


Gasoline at $4.00 to $12.00 per gallon is a two-by-four between the eyes for everyone who has an interest in having machinery run. We are all paying attention now. And that is the fuel turning the fan blowing that sweet smell of excitement across the land.


Perhaps these fractional technologies can be made to add up to the whole of the energy consumption we have come to expect or maybe not. My suspicion is that into the future the overwhelming fraction that oil occupies in this equation will not be fully supplanted by these technologies. It may very well be that the most important fraction will be from the demand side, where everyone concentrates on reducing demand for energy in a myriad of ways. Ultimately, the most effective way to reduce demand is to reduce the population. Most people don’t want this. But then, prior to $4.00 gasoline, most people didn’t want to curb their desire to drive Surburbans to the grocery store for a gallon of milk. The new realities may yet make an impression on potential parents, an impression that could improve our quality of life, an impression that could make all the difference for our offspring.


Optimism does indeed, ride a strange vehicle. That vehicle is $4.00+ gas.     



© 2008 R. Leland



Web Site: Rappahannock Books

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Reviewed by Tom Hyland 7/21/2008
PRAGMATISM? Being posted separately!

© - Tom Hyland - 07-21-08

Re: Leland Waldrip’s - Optimism Rides A Strange Vehicle -

LELAND - good article and points!

Optimism - Glass Half Full?
Pessimism - Glass Half Empty?
Pragmatism ... What are the Contents?

OBSERVATION - The Contents or Amounts do Not Matter -
IF - Something is covering the top of the glass and we can’t reach those contents! Invariably, they can’t be used!

If the Robber Barons of the OIL Industry have their way, they will be the OWNERS and CONTROLLERS of any and all Major sources of Alternate Energy!

While I have no facts to substantiate my theories, I believe that THEY (OIL) have been in collusion with the Automobile Manufacturing Industry. THEY (BOTH) have known for over 50 years that the gasoline combustion engine was NOT efficient, and did nothing to correct it. In Fact, any and all Patents by any and all Inventors were just GOBBLED UP - BOUGHT OUT - and BURIED!

The little Nash Rambler METROPOLITAN of the early Fifties got about 50 miles per gallon - after a couple of years, THEY SQUASHED IT!

In the Documentary film “Who Killed The Electric Car” GMC produced a beautiful, efficient electric car, and the Drivers who used them (on lease, I think - none sold outright) - LOVED THEM and wanted to KEEP THEM - GMC COLLECTED ALL AND DESTROYED THEM!

But GMC somehow managed to SELL a really big bunch of big HUMMERS to our Military, didn’t they? And at WHAT EXORBITANT COSTS?

Our collective Governments and Corporate leaders ALLOWED our American Steel Industry to be WIPED OUT by Japan. Then, by further collusion, now our Automobile Industry is being WIPED OUT! Our major Hi-Tech Industries and Communications Systems have been FARMED OUT OVERSEAS - eliminating hundreds of thousands of American JOBS!

Our Banking Industry has been infiltrated by both Foreign Corporations and COUNTRIES - HSBC - is a HUGE firm based in Hong Kong, CHINA - and the stupid, dumb, apathetic American public does not even have a CLUE! Just today, NPR announced that one of their branches in White Marsh, Maryland is being CLOSED - Over 400 JOBS LOST!

Even some of PORTS themselves have been over-run and controlled by FOREIGN COUNTRIES - and our so-called leaders and governments supposedly didn’t KNOW! DUH!

The KNOCK OFFS from CHINA are pouring into American ports by the BILLIONS, including supposedly BRAND NAME DRUGS and Medicines that have POISONS and PAINTS MIXED IN THEM!

Our Mexican BORDERS are a SICK JOKE! Tens of thousands of ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS are sucking our economy dry - AND - to add insult to injury - WE’RE SUPPOSED TO LEARN THEIR FRIGGING LANGUAGE!

Our returning VETERANS are being SCREWED ROYALLY - and neither the Administration, nor Congress (the crooked lying greedy 537) - could give a RAT’S RECTUM!

The entire MORTGAGE Industry has FAILED - Bankruptcies and Foreclosures running rampant - the Housing, Real Estate Market, and Construction Industries are FLOUNDERING! HOMES LOST - JOBS LOST - FAMILIES RUINED - and guess what our government’s answer is?


According to NPR - the top 25 Officials of FANNIE MAE and FREDDIE MAC have been paying THEMSELVES SALARIES OF ONE MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR EACH! Along with BONUSES TOTALLING IN THE BILLIONS! OH - and most of these guys are Political APPOINTEES!

Purposely MANIPULATED OIL AND GAS PRICES are destroying our economy, driving up the prices of FOOD, SERVICES, and every form of TRANSPORTATION!

And guess what else, my friend, Leland - in less than 4 months now, this same stupid, apathetic, ignorant American public will rush out to the polls and VOTE FOR MORE OF THE SAME!



Is the glass half FULL or half EMPTY?

After reviewing all of these Negatives, I am now Positive -

Peace, Tom.

Reviewed by Tinka Boukes 7/21/2008
Interesting write Leland...but hey that looks like our local Taxi MAN!!

Love Tinky
Reviewed by C. J. Stevens 7/21/2008
Excellently written and totally right-on!
Reviewed by Karen Vanderlaan 7/20/2008
a well written and interesting write--
Reviewed by Ronald Hull 7/20/2008
Good write. I, too have remained optimistic since first hearing Paul Erhlich's call for action forty years ago. The alternatives were there then, but few gave them any mind as long as energy was cheap.

In Biography of Earth, it is projected that sea level will rise 17" in this century. I think that that is way too short of the actual and we had better move face or millions will die in disasters to come.

Curtailing population is our choice, now. Later, the Earth will do it for us.

Reviewed by - - - - - TRASK 7/20/2008
REDUCE POPULATION,i.e. You Obviously Do Not Live In MEXIFORNIA...


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