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You are here Editorials Alex Baer

Alex Baer

Texas Tea, Coin Flips, and What's Missing

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Here is a story about the present and the future.  It is a story about energy.  Now, it is a story about fracking.  And, not to repeat myself, it is a tale about unbridled madness.  Later, the story could be about something else.

For now, there are plenty of deep and scarring errors in this saga, but no redemption -- maybe in time, but not right now.  Right now, there is only an equally deep, dank, and abiding feeling the world is no longer under any obligation to make sense, that some elemental bargain has been voided, that some vital bank of dead man's switches has been locked out and they no longer work.

To quote the band Jethro Tull, from Locomotive Breath:

  • In the shuffling madness
  • Of the locomotive breath...
  • the train won't stop going
  • No way to slow down.

Our era is shuffling madness.  Our locomotive breath is the unending hunger for energy, for fossil fuel.  Imagine this era and its impossible hungers, and then imagine them slowing down. The train won't stop going -- no way to slow down.

Of course, that train has been barrel-assing along for some time.  The world -- its people and systems -- has been straining for a long time, trying to gain, and retain, even a micron of credibility and sense.  This old world hasn't made sense for a while and it may not make sense ever again.  Or...

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 June 2014 17:50 Read more...

Pains & Fears, Lessons & Gifts

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The thing about unexpected lessons is that you never know what it is you'll learn, or that you had anything at all to learn in the first place.

In a quintzillion years, I never thought I would say this, but Donald Rumsfeld had a point, albeit a circuitous one, when he reeled off his screed about known knowns and unknown unknowns, and so forth, through every last permutation, down to the potentially uncertain but likely quite improbably unknown, but still completely possible, percentagewise, knowns. Or something.

Lessons are difficult, even if you're open and ready for them, and they involve small-beans issues like going to a different movie than you'd planned, or having to break down and order an alien beer or pop when your fav has been pumped dry at Drac's Stake-N-Steak or Burger Queen or Pasta Palace or whatever.

Much, much more seriously now:  If you think such teaching moments and learning opportunities -- as we currently call Big Windows of Life To Go Look Out Of And See Something New -- are tough, imagine what the lessons are like when they rip your heart out.

Last Updated on Sunday, 25 May 2014 21:46 Read more...

Put Your Lips Together and Blow

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My Muse, lately, has been feisty, haughty, and downright bumptious.  Churlish and surly, too, but that is surely an outgrowth of my ignoring it as much as possible.  It hates that.  Kicks up a fuss something fierce.

It's been unavoidable, though.  It's yard work season.  Out here in the country-ish places, Nature never stops trying to take back the small encampment it's allowed us for an assortment of the old, small, odd-shaped buildings we call home -- a place where all of the structures and sheds compete against one another to see which one can return its raw materials and minerals to the earth firstest with the mostest.

During this time of year, before the showers cease and the hot weather sets in, slowing the Leaping Green Growth Spurts hereabouts, I am part person and part mule.  Writing and scribbling and helping words jump through any pedantic hoops must wait.  My muse is much more amused in the cold and rainy months, when I am inside, and where keeping the pellet stove comfy, cleaned, nourished and well-fed is all at once a vocation, an avocation, and a spectator sport.

Last Updated on Saturday, 24 May 2014 22:37 Read more...

Who Goes There - Friend or Faux?

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Not counting the things that looked like mushed M&M's or maybe some cushion-dried salsa chunks, the best I've ever done is a couple of hard-shell taco divots, a remote control for an oscillating fan, enough unpopped popcorn kernels for a hamster's tea break, a ripped bus transfer, half a poker chip, a pizza crust that could double as a drywall hammer, two wallet-pocket buttons, the keeper-part of ticket stub for a 1993 charity auction, and a dollar-seventeen in change.

Talk about being outclassed.  Three roommates in northern New York state found $40,000 in their couch.  The one they bought.  Second-hand.  For twenty bucks.

It was a major oops.  The daughter sold it, when her mom was in the hospital for a surgery.   But, it all got straightened out.  The roommates tracked down the original owner somehow, maybe through the charity shop that had sold them the couch, and then, the original owner and the original cash were all restored to original condition.  And they all lived originally, and happily, ever after.

Yes:  Good works were done, a smidge of confidence was restored to the bucket of human nature, and the roommates received a thousand bucks for their effort -- a profit of $980, one could say, providing one wanted to focus on the upsides here.

Last Updated on Friday, 16 May 2014 13:37 Read more...

KISSS: Keep It Simple, Stop Struggling

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Time to add another "S" to that old acronym, about Keeping It Simple, Stupid:  The updated version is Keep It Simple, Stop Struggling.

It's advice that the Brazilian police are handing around to European and American tourists who are in town for the World Cup.  The actual tip is closer to "do not react, scream, or argue," and is meant to help newbies to the country avoid a popular kind of robbery in which being murdered is the farewell thank-you gift from muggers.

The police are being realistic.  Brazil has one of the highest murder rates in the world, so says the United Nations, at more than 25 per 100,000.  (This number, obviously, does not include the hectares of rain forest in Brazil routinely strangled, bulldozed, and cremated, nor does it include the amount of oxygen-producing capacity murdered daily.)

Police are concerned tourists from abroad do not usually experience the joys of robbery, and so, need to be counseled on their manners, in order to avoid latrocinios -- the aforementioned keepsake memento of death following one's souvenir stick-up.

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Last Updated on Monday, 12 May 2014 16:52 Read more...

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