Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

Who Thought of That?
March 30, 2008


** “The tooth-in-eye technique, pioneered in Italy 40 years ago …” [Blind teen to have parts of tooth, jaw inserted in eye]

** “The procedure used on McNichol involved his son Robert, 23, donating a tooth, its root and part of the jaw.” [Blind Irishman sees with the aid of son’s tooth in his eye]

**“The surgeons then remove the iris, the lens and the jelly of the eye that lie behind the cornea.” [Tooth used to save woman’s sight]

**“Former soldier Lionel James, 72, will be seeing in the new year for the first time in more than seven years – thanks to his eye tooth.” [Miracle operation restores grandfather’s sight.]


If we are so advanced, “What makes us so mean?” Ron Padgett ventures a guess in his new book, “HOW TO BE PERFECT,” in the long political poem:

What makes us so mean?
We are meaner than gorillas,
the ones we like to blame our genetic aggression on.
It is in our nature to hide behind what Darwin said about survival,
as if survival were the most important thing on earth.
It isn’t.
You know–surely it has occurred to you–
that there is no way that humankind will survive
another million years. We’ll be lucky to be around
another five hundred. Why?
Because we are so mean
that we would rather kill everyone and everything on earth
than let anybody get the better of us:
“Give me liberty or give me death!”
Why didn’t he just say “Grrr, let’s kill each other”?
–The first stanza, of many, continued in HOW TO BE PERFECT by Ron Padgett



What Would Jesus Drive?
March 29, 2008

This semester, I’ve shown the films, “Who Killed the Electric Car?” (trailer above) and “An Inconvenient Truth” (good curriculum materials on that site too) to several sections of my basic writing classes. Shockingly while Generation Y cares about the environment and wants to take better measures than their predecessors did to protect it, most of them haven’t seen Al Gore’s film, which is essentially an encouraging primer on global warming and its effects.

I’ve had fun asking these twenty-somethings to research where the U.S. currently stands on the Kyoto Treaty, what the fuss is over a few melting ice caps, who gets to define “moral imperatives” and how, what the difference is between “fact” and “hyperbole” and how one can feed the other, what each individual can do to lessen their carbon output, how Halliburton and the industrial rebuilding of Iraq and New Orleans are related to big government & Mr. Cheney, among other things.

I’m learning a few things along the way as well. I keep running into the ways in which scientists and evangelicals are overcoming their differences in favor of a higher calling.

I find that solar research is expanding at a wonderful rate with new applications, thanks to folks like Stan Oshinsky. That grassroots movements to correct these “gradual”, now accelerating, planetary changes are picking up steam; check out Plug In America, Care2, and Sierra Club.

Fresh water
is taken for granted at the moment, but too soon, we’ll buy it by the gallon, watching the prices go up, like gasoline right now.

There are so many more things to educate one’s self about and respond to. If anyone would like to contribute to my pursuit, I have a few more dvds I’d like to acquire for my classes and for my own benefit. I probably expose 60 – 80 students per semester to this info. Please view my Amazon Wishlist here if you’d like to help out [my mailing address is here]. Otherwise, I’d simply recommend sharing the films mentioned above with as many folks as you can, get into heated debates, and generally ask yourself and others, especially those planning to have children, “Just what would Jesus drive?”

6 Responses to “What Would Jesus Drive?”

  1. didi Says:
    November 9th, 2007 at 7:46 pm eHagman is a hoot.
  2. Jeff Says:
    November 9th, 2007 at 8:22 pm eThis post is in response to the “Who Killed the Electric Car” and global warming the title of your post.

    I watched a video a few days ago in regards to using salt as power. It is impressive. But, they didn’t mention if the salt water fire was being powered by the radio frequencies…It appears that it is not self-sustaining. Darn!

    However, I suggest we keep an open mind and remember that at one time people thought it was crazy that we’d be able to go to the moon! Therefore, what if we consider supplemental fuels? Specifically, hydrogen on demand that is safe and burns with your gasoline?
    “Where Water Powers Our Cars!”

  3. Gary Says:
    November 10th, 2007 at 9:10 pm eChecked out your wish list. I have Iraq for Sale (the DVD — I’m not actually selling Iraq) if you’d like to borrow it for your classes.
  4. Tim Caldwell Says:
    November 15th, 2007 at 4:37 am eHi Amy,

    I just ordered MAXED OUT off your wish list. I hope others see this entry in your blog and decide to help out. I’m so glad that you mentioned a way for us civilians to help you shape the minds of the next batch of grown-ups. Thanks for your efforts!

  5. Amy King Says:
    November 17th, 2007 at 1:40 pm eYou rock, of course, Tim! My future students thank you and will appreciate the warning, fingers crossed. Many thanks!

    Gary – I’m going to certainly take you up on the offer to borrow! And likewise, I’d never buy Iraq either… hope you’re doing well!

    Jeff, thanks for the info – I think we should be actively exploring all kinds of alternative sources for energy. It seems like a bad dream that we’re so behind in doing so …

  6. O.V. Michaelsen (Ove Ofteness) Says:
    December 9th, 2007 at 4:58 pm eIn response to WHAT WOULD JESUS DRIVE?

    Did he speak of his own Accord?
    He wouldn’t be driving a Ford.
    No pedals, no floor board,
    Nor anything four-doored.
    A vehicled anti-war lord?

    God drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden in a Fury.
    David’s Triumph was heard throughout the land.
    And the apostles were all in on Accord.

    How dumb can you be? Man alive!
    You ask me what Jesus would drive?
    He’d probably hike,
    Or travel by bike,
    But never by mule on I-5.

Make More Lungs
March 29, 2008


Let’s play more than politics now – and hope that Bloomberg’s proposals, such as the million trees project, will see the light of day. The first tree was just planted a few hours ago in the Bronx, with only 999,999 more to go (by 2017)! Mayor Bloomberg and Bette Midler planted the Carolina Silverbell themselves!

Not so incidentally, major kudos to Ms. Midler for founding the New York Restoration Project on her own dime (or million plus) and for saving more than 51 community gardens in NYC (& boroughs) slated for sale to private buyers, under former Mayor Guiliani’s reign. She also promoted, funded, and participated in the clean up of public parks that had become severely polluted and dangerous. Cheers, Bette!

And now, Mayor Bloomberg follows up:

“Our economy is humming, our fiscal house in in order and our near-term horizon looks bright. If we don’t act now, when?”


* Accelerate the cleanup of 7,600 acres of contaminated sites.
* Provide incentives to building owners to recycle water for non-potable uses like toilet flushing.
* Increase the city’s trees by 1 million.
* Waive the city’s sales tax on hybrid vehicles.
* Provide cleaner, more reliable power by upgrading the energy infrastructure and retiring dirty power plans.
* Add a surcharge to electric bills to finance incentives for retrofitting buildings.
* Promoting bicycling by completing the city’s 1,800-mile bike master plan.
* Eliminating roughly 40% of locally produced soot.
* Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent.
* The new building code – which is expected to be adopted this summer – will provide rebates for many environmentally-friendly features such as improved ventilation and white roofs, which reflect heat rather than absorbing it and so reduce energy needed for air conditioning.
* The city plans to offer a property tax abatement for solar installations.

And last, but far from least, the proposed and hotly debated congestion tax. “Under the plan, passenger vehicles entering Manhattan below 86th St. from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays would pay an $8 daily fee. Trucks would pay $21.” I live in Brooklyn, own a car, and take the train into Manhattan on a regular basis. Sometimes though, I drive through to the Holland Tunnel on my way out of town. As a resident, I would happily pay the fee. I view the tax as an encouragement to use our vital and efficient public transportation system that is already in place, and I would like to see more folks using it, residents and out-of-towners alike. Other major cities such as London already pay the tax to their advantage. Bike riders would also find the streets safer. God knows, pedestrians would love to be able to cross on the light without a car bearing down on them to turn. Etc etc. Hope these things come to fruition, fingers crossed …


4 Responses to “Make More Lungs”

  1. Jim K. Says:
    October 9th, 2007 at 7:18 pm eHopefully there is sufficient new mass transit planned to
    offset this(?). Usually there isn’t, and downtowns
    lose things, or turn into a super-wealth address.
  2. Jim K. Says:
    October 9th, 2007 at 7:20 pm eCogeneration (making heat and elec. inside the building)
    saves over 50%. But various groups oppose it.
    I hope it is actually done with smarts.
  3. Jim K. Says:
    October 13th, 2007 at 5:17 am eSorry for 3rd post,
    but I found out: the Bloomberg plan does include
    incentives and a scheme for dealing with Con.Ed.
    so they can hopefully install some cogeneration.
    There’s the savings, but also the reliability of
    local power sources. I’d call it a reaching and
    clever plan now!
  4. Amy King Says:
    October 13th, 2007 at 10:15 pm eThanks for the info, Jim! I hope it actualizes cleverly too …

I Don’t Have Kids
March 26, 2008


And it doesn’t look like I’m going to have them anytime soon. I can live for me, me, me, which means I can consume, consume, consume! Maybe I’ve got a good fifty years left on this planet, so should I be concerned with the condition I leave it in when I’m stardust? I’m not leaving any personally-birthed people behind. And yet somehow, I continue to wonder why it seems I’m more concerned with what’s happening with the environment than people who have children — I really, really don’t get why news items regarding the threats against breathable air and the dramatic rise of asthma and allergies in children don’t seem to strike a chord of even remote interest, let alone fear, in our gas-guzzling SUV-driven country. It’s truly baffling. Aren’t parents invested enough to at least research the plausibility and hazards of that term, “Global Warming“? These two little symptoms I mention are just the tip of the iceberg. For a brief display of the top ten global warming stories of 2006 that will affect your children’s lives, take a look at this.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming parents – maybe trying to incite a little, but I’m not pointing any real fingers. Everyone is responsible; we are a communal species that shares the same life-sustaining planet. So why won’t our government step up with the rest of the planet now and take action? Because our economy might take a hit? Perhaps it’s time we all learn to do with a little bit less, particularly those with vested interests in big business. “The United States, with less than 5 percent of the world’s population, produces between a fifth and a quarter of the world’s emissions, according to government data” 1. If you learned that you or your children were slowly being poisoned through the drinking water so that we would become ill in fifteen or twenty years, even dying as a result, I bet we would all be up in arms, demanding the U.S. government take action, locate the source of the poison, and eliminate the threat – immediately. We wouldn’t wait for a projected date of fifty more years for a possible fix. I’m no alarmist, but friends, this is not an outlandish possibility.

Why does the Bush administration continue to vote in favor of profit while dancing around — and then giving the finger to — first the Kyoto Protocol and now the G8 proposal? Is the rest of the world wrong, including Britain? Are we that pompous? Ignorant? Flagrant in our sense of superiority? Can we continue to blatantly share our poisons with the rest of the world, disregarding their effects, so that we might remain the top economical power? Do we care that our children will reap the hazards of our apathy?

After the last election, even Christian evangelicals felt betrayed by Bush, who seems to be truly faithful only to those whose stock reports papered his campaign trail. Now, the Christian right is teaming up with scientists, both groups tolerating their differences in beliefs for what they now see as a moral issue rather than a political one. And yet, Bush continues to play monetarily-motivated politics with the future health of this planet. Are we going to let him carry on? Will our next president return to business-as-usual after the campaign promises fade? Between the pressing matter of Iraq and the long-standing neglected cooker that is global warming, we can’t afford to sit around waiting for someone to take the reigns and guide us. One of the people who has been at the forefront of getting Christians and scientists to come together on the matter, E.O. Wilson, has a few things to say on the matter that might motivate you (FYI – population growth factors in heavily too). As you become more informed and gear up to get your political voice in tune, there are also things that can be done in the present and in the midst of your daily movements – some practical suggestions found here and here.


My grandfather was an entomologist, whose specialty was ants. Likewise, E. O. Wilson is too:

Say you’re president. What’s your environmental agenda?

New, sustainable energy generation, new forms of transportation, conservation of natural resources and general improvement of the quality of American life with a simultaneous reduction in per-capita consumption of energy and materials. The president who exercised that kind of leadership would ensure his or her legacy for all time.

Somehow that doesn’t seem likely from any president, let alone a Republican.

Last spring I was invited to speak at one of the leading conservative think tanks, and I asked two questions: What is the core of conservatism if it does not include conservation? And why have the conservatives needlessly and destructively abandoned the moral high ground on the issue? We had a lively discussion. They essentially said the liberals are blue sky, they’re big talkers and dreamers, whereas conservatives are problem-oriented, practical people who keep the wheels turning and the world on course. But they’re not solving this problem. Too often they don’t even admit that the problem exists.

–from Salon

If atheists and the God-fearing can get on board, why can’t the dreamers and conservatives find that same common ground? It’s high time we figured out how.


p.s. Water? Do you and your children actually need it?

“Also, fresh water is declining around the world, with many of the aquifers scheduled to give out in the next several decades. The forests, estuaries, coral reefs, river systems and, increasingly, even the oceans are being either destroyed or seriously degraded.

The experts on natural resources around the world are in pretty much complete agreement that the world population as a whole is running down arable land, and the trend shows no sign of being reversible.” –excerpt from Salon Interview with E.O. Wilson


5 Responses to “I Don’t Have Kids”

  1. Jim K. Says:
    June 2nd, 2007 at 3:29 am eI get worried that the success of our
    boom-or-die economical (stock) system works
    because it taps into the warm-blooded, always-hunting,
    energy-intense animal. That means it taps deep…addicted for eons.
    But there will be serious reminders soon that we are running out
    of it all. The efficient must thrive, not the intensive. We need a scheme
    that drives that.
  2. Jim K. Says:
    June 2nd, 2007 at 3:32 am eBTW, if we really screw up the Earth and perish in big quantities,
    we will do what only the blue-green algae mats did when they
    loaded the oxygen into the air and poisoned themselves.
    Creepy to think that our aggregated smarts was no better
    than algae mats. They had the excuse of no brain.
  3. Sam Rasnake Says:
    June 2nd, 2007 at 3:38 am eStrong post, Amy. Thanks for this.
  4. SarahJ Says:
    June 11th, 2007 at 4:12 pm eHi –
    like your blog. i was reading with interest the anne boyle post, and then came down to read this. thanks.
    I was at the zoo this weekend and was glad to see people with children and babies because I remember when I had children it made me way more concerned about the environment and the future. I was pretty environmentally conscious to begin with, but kids brought it home to me like nothing else.
    yes, babies are being born like crazy, and mostly in countries where they think they can’t afford to make concessions to the environment if economic growth is at stake. it’s complicated and tetchy, because it’s hard to go somewhere like Africa and say, “well, you guys haven’t hurt the environment much over the past 200 years, and we have but please lay off all polluting activities right now.”
    if you don’t mind, i’m going to link to you.
    best, sarah
  5. SarahJ Says:
    June 11th, 2007 at 6:27 pm eboof, sorry, anne boyer!