Friday, January 28, 2005

Responsibility for the eons

I see an article in Science ( ( that challenges the prevailing concensus on Dinosaur extinction...not a meteorite to blame, but rather global warming! Challenging the prevailing doomsday-from-outer-space scenario points out two things to me:

1. The recorded history of the planet [climate or otherwise] has no meaningful relationship to the records [climate or otherwise] of humans...human records represent so little, that they are incapable of being used to reach longer term using 1 minute of a 2-year-olds life to try and determine whether that child will be admitted to Harvard (or even that they would want to go to such a place!). In other words, it requires quite a bit of data to draw conclusions about things that can only be imagined.

2. Having the freedom to think something doesn;t mean that the thinker is free of responsibility for the consequences of their thoughts...hypothesizing what it would be like to kill your neighbor, and then telling them what you thought about, does not mean you won't be held under a restraining order, for instance. In other words, sticks and stones may break my bones, but words CAN hurt you.

So here's a thought...

Say global warming is real.

Further, say the combution of fossil fuels is responsible for global warming.

Do, then, the people whose words and images in the 1970s created an unreasonable fear of nuclear catastrophe--a China Syndrome in every town--now bear some responsibility for the rise in CO2 levels since then?

Arguably, as the % of electrical demand supplied by nuclear energy in the US lags below 19%, it's replacement by fossil fuels (particularly coal) has contributed to the assumed impact on global warming. Where are they who stopped nuclear energy? Where is Greenpeace, Jane Fonda and the multitudes of others? And when will they step forward to admit--with the mercy that reflection provides--that they made a mistake or two?

Then again, maybe Global Warming is the mistake.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The politics of action

A book I read so long ago told me that one can pursue the path of knowledge or the path of life...but that the two seldom cross. As I've meandered along the dusty 4-lane of my own, I've noticed that there are those who seem to overthink and underthink...the overthinkers are slow to act (even when it may seem to be in their interest to do something quickly). The underthinkers, with little reflection, seem quick to do something...anything...even when it may seem to be in their interests to do nothing. The thinkers, nourishing themselves from the tree of knowledge, the underthinkers choosing the action of life. And so from these broad-based, bifurcated, media-friendly stereotypes, I set the context for something very individual and personal...6th-grade girls basketball.

You see, my own 6th grade daughter plays on a travelling basketball team. When we signed up for the team, we thought it would be a good way for her to develop some of her physical abilities around another sport. She'd get to do it with a slightly different mix of acquaintances and friends than her soccer team...and she'd be part of a program that emphasized competitiveness a tad more than the recreational league our park district runs. Oh how naive we were...the competition on the court it seems, is nothing like the competition in the stands.

I'm sure it occurs to every middle age person to question whether their life is exactly how they envisioned it would be when they were younger. Some people respond with a 'What me worry?' attitude that probably contributed to where they, in fact, find themselves at this moment. Others, perhaps, decide to do work harder, to be more assert control over their world in ways that probably contributed to where they, in fact, find themselves. And when this question gets answered by thinking or doing something through your offspring, well, that's like lighting a match in an oxygen tent.

Some of the team parents can be vicious...spending their time at the games--and after--talking to the other parents about the little the coach knows, how ineffective he runs the team, that type of thing.

So as the season enters its last 6 weeks, some parents continue to whisper among themselves with smug superiority at how much better things would be if someone else were coaching these 11 and 12-year olds. Meanwhile, the girls continue to play basketball and improve. The coach continues to coach to the best of his ability...and the whisperers keep wishing that what they think ought to be will somehow come true if only someone...anyone...would step up and take action...