17 February 2007

Teach the Boobs Economics

Now the poor in Mexico are facing hunger because the price of corn is rising on speculation, because the US is planning to up the percentage of ethanol (made from corn) in auto fuel. But that would require re-directing a substantial fraction of US corn production from food and animal feed to fuel. This in turn would raise corn prices. Moreover the demand for more corn acreage would displace other grains, like rice, and drive up the price of rice as well. And the poor of Mexico can't switch to wheat flour because they need the nutrients in corn flour to complement the rest of their diet. So, we are driving up the price of corn and rice worldwide, and pushing more poor people into malnutrition. Why?

The idea was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels. But (duh!) to make ethanol you have to heat the corn mash using - you guessed it - fossil fuels. The net result is that the ethanol will have a bigger "carbon footprint" in the atmosphere than the gasoline it is supposed to replace.

In other words, we are starving people and polluting the air so that our legislators and regulators can make a show of caring for our environment. I'm tired of people who know nothing but politics trying to run our world when they don't understand how it works.

So here's a resolution for you: Let's require all newly elected federal and state officials to take a three week crash course in Economics and Energy before they assume office. Heck, let's make them retake the course every time they are re-elected.

The effort on their part to learn the course material would be an act of loving their neighbors, namely us - the people they presume to govern.

08 February 2007

Flying Low

Speaking of technology, have a look at this video of low flying jets.

If you can't see anything, click Flying under the radar.

04 February 2007

Name Your Fear

Since the previous post mentioned fear, here is a post from my MySpace page.

The other evening, we got together with friends for a "Bring Your Own Barbecue." We talked about law school, career changes, psychotherapy, religion... And then we talked about the future. We must be in a time of great transition, because the dominant mood was not hope. It was fear.

I talked about how genetic engineering, implants, and other high tech "enhancements" could make the people of the future so different from us that they might not consider "non-enhanced" or "natural" people like us to be fully human. And how, by tinkering with human nature itself, we would undermine the basis of Natural Law.

Our host spoke of Global Warming, and how climate change could wipe out agriculture in some parts of the world, and sink coastal cities.

My wife talked about how the melting of the North Polar Icecap could decrease the salinity gradient in the North Atlantic that drives the Gulf Stream. If the Gulf Stream were to stop, that would almost shut down the transfer of heat from the equatorial to the polar regions. The result could be a rapid re-freezing of the northern latitudes resulting in a new Ice Age. In other words, our climate is metastable, with tipping points beyond which large and sudden changes may occur.

I suppose we could have mentioned asteroid impacts, and global thermonuclear war while we are at it. Or maybe the day some terrorist organization gets hold of a nuclear weapon and detonates where you would least like it.

So I'm just curious. Was it just us, or are other people having anxious thoughts about the future. What sort of thoughts?

02 February 2007

God's Balls

The other day LutheranChick wondered why there is so much resistance to inclusive language references to God in the Church. "Inclusive language" means either avoiding the masculine pronoun or using both masculine and femine pronouns for God. She offered her hypothesis that the resistance is grounded in fear, specifically the anxiety that God is out to get us if we don't act the way God wants.

That may indeed be the case for many. For me, it's different. I'm comfortable with someone beginning The Lord's Prayer with, "Father-Mother God," instead of "Our Father." I might even do it myself, if I were praying with people the majority of whom would find the traditional reference off-putting. But generally, I stick with "Our Father." I do it out of respect for those who have gone before me, who made extraordinary sacrifices that Christianity might be a living faith to my generation, who learned to say it that way. I do it out of respect, even awe, for the tradition goes all the way back to a wandering Jewish woodworker, healer, and lay preacher named Yesu (Jesus) who called God, "Abba," which is Aramaic for something like, "Daddy."

Now we could use the original Aramaic and say "Abba," instead of "Our Father." "Abba" doesn't mean anything in English, and therefore is not automatically associated with gender by English speakers. But for English speakers that would come at the cost of losing the emotional and spiritual impact of addressing God in terms of an intimate parental relationship. In the same vein, we could start the Lord's Prayer with the word, "God," but again we would miss the impact of what something like "Our Father," says about God.

I'm not afraid, just respectful. I can let the tradition bend. And yet, I get my back up when someone insists that I must use inclusive language. I know that the idea of God being masculine is God's sop to the patriarchal tribal society of Hebrews in which God first planted ethical monotheism. And I know that many of us no longer need that sop. But must we wrench things the other way, cutting off God's balls, as it were, in order to make God into an icon of gender-equality? Must God be treated like some kind of intellectual property, to be stretched in a tug-of-war between Fundamentalists and Feminists?

Yes, I know. God transcends gender. Balls are not God's problem. But the historical Jesus, recognized by his followers after his glorious Resurrection as the unique Incarnation of God, had them. Let's be honest about that while we are working to include each other, however we are gendered (male, female, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered only begin to describe the possibilities).

Finally, our concern over inclusive language must seem extremely parochial to non-English speakers. What about speakers of German, French, and Italian whose nouns have gender and for whom the word "God" itself is masculine? I think we have it relatively easy.