Saturday, July 29, 2006


Today wondering about some things... Future energy. My costs at home aren't too high right now, but in researching the cost of energy from PG&E since 1972, the bill has risen at an annual rate of 6% per year on average. It's been rising faster than inflation, which is about 3% per year. When I'm an 80 year old, I'd better have planned for this. That' why looking into solar seems appropriate. Another thought has been on the current state of energy in California. We just had a heat wave and some areas suffered blackouts or brownouts due to the heavy demand on the supply. After a tour of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant (DCNPP) this past spring, I feel much, much safer knowing how well engineered that plant is. I also feel a l bit uncertain about the next nuclear power plant to be constructed by PG&E to be built east of Modesto on the Stanislaus River. Maybe if pebble bed nuclear technology is used I may feel more comfortable, but if a huge containment structure is built with existing technology, I'm still skeptical (even after the tour of DCNPP). The pebble bed technology (google Stuart Brand pebble bed nuclear) is interesting and brings hope. The Chinese are ahead of everyone in their research and may bring some plants online soon. There's still the disposal of nuclear waste in a geologically stable area to face - no free lunch.

Something else I wonder about has to do with the rise of gangs. It seems like there's such an attraction for young males - mostly at risk - it's almost like the source of missing love for them. The gangs provide family, guidance, structure, connection/relationships with others, support, love - all the things they grew up missing or in great lack of. The gangs all have their constitutions with their bylaws, the first of which says, "get your education". Ironic, but true. They've become so sophisticated - teaching themselves swahili, navaho, sanskrit, and other languages to communicate within prison walls so that guards can't intercept and make sense of the coded communiques. Also using psychological profiling techniques to identify and attract potential new members (the ideal person is a 10-13 year old disaffected male showing signs if truancy, minor criminal infractions, and other misbehaviors at an early age - no father figure providing moral guidance). The rule is to give that boy anything and everything he wants without exception. That tends to build a relationship to the point where the kid then has to make a serious decision whether or not to join the gang. Then it's in-by-blood, out-by-blood - serious consequences for either choice (either he stomps someone or is stomped by the gang (or his mother, sister, etc.)). The root of the problem is the breakdown of the family over the past 150 years or so, in my opinion.

Since the industrial revolution, we've moved away from an agrarian culture where we used to value cooperative activity - barn raisings, tending to the farm animals, crops, etc. Men worked with women with clearly identfied roles for each (as well as children). If a man mistreated his wife his chances of survival were diminished as were the chances for his family. Today we live in an industrial, consumer-based culture where we can simply plug in a new wife or husband or we don't plug anyone in. We're affluent enough that we can cope as single parents. The family breaks down...less support all around. The children don't witness dad taking care of the plants and animals on site (the original term husband meant something like "tiller of the soil" - connoting a sense of nurturing and caring). They don't work with dad during the day - they see him come home at night, tired, worn out by long work and commute hours and they feel his negative temperament ("Leave me alone, I just want to read the paper and not think about the boss!").

So what to do about reversing this situation? My hope has been through education, but I don't know that that would work in reality. We spend so much money on things deemed more important 0r made more important by our poitical choices (i.e. terrorism and war). Over half of the federal budget goes to the Pentagon! What needs to happen to change the priorities? Do we keep limping along this way, suffering losses? Do we limp along while others less fortunate suffer? Can we buy happiness by changing how we spend and whom we spend on? Will anything change if our policies change?


At 12:17 PM , Blogger cowbabe said...

jewato, i finally checked this out, some interesting and good stuff here! i'm replying to this one in particular as i had some training on gangs back in my first teaching position. basically gangs are a constant source of all things for those who have had no constant in their lives. they provide material compensation because they know that is what many young people have been "given" as love. this seems important to the gang members because they have not learned that happiness comes from within...but how can you learn this if there is no one there to teach you. basically i see the family break down coming from the all mighty dollar. parents are working to provide necessities but also to keep up with the jones' as it were. the kids become secondary, and they are given stuff to compensate for the time that the parents are not spending with their kids. i think that much of this started around the 1950's with the tv taking the place of the quality family time that families used to spend together. the tv hidden persuaders convince viewers that they don't have the perfect life unless they attain stuff. even worse are the cast of characters that lend their values and mind set to impressionable viewers. and why are the kids watching so much tv? their parents are working too much, are too tired to interact with them, and the parents are too busy trying to have (basic necessities, in some cases). our government plays a roll in this... they, by our uneducated votes, choose to supply more and more funds to the military, to governemnt officials, and to projects that do not improve the basic living standards of the US citizens or the infrastructure of out nation. that is my two cents.


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