Re: Hal G.P. Colebatch’s Where Have All the Poets Gone?
I recall an article on poetry in Commonweal almost 40 years ago that said poets mostly lost their nerve around the end of World War I. The author’s main point was that the universe had seemed to become so complex, difficult, and daunting that the poets moved to writing poetry that mainly gave voice to the beat of their own heart. However good or bad some of this poetry was, its scope of vision was extremely limited. The author praised scientists for at least having the courage to be (Tillich’s phrase), to try to make sense of the universe, to think with laudable creativity and daring, and to write about it.
Where that critic seemed to especially emphasize that the poets’ retreat had to do with cosmological doubt and inability or unwillingness to try to grasp the mystery of the wide universe, surely there is a parallel hesitancy regarding political matters, including patriotism, as Hal G.P. Colebatch spells out so well. I also recall critic Thomas Wolfe saying that American intellectuals had been impressed with the dour negativism of Existential and Socialist critique, even though it didn’t apply to the U.S.A. Indeed, it didn’t apply to Europe after 1950 or so. Theologian Paul Tillich wondered where dead Existentialism would find a home after its European funeral. Wolfe effectively said that it found an inappropriate home in American academia and with American literature. And leftist theologian Gregory Baum admitted that the Marxist critique doesn’t apply to the U.S.A., though that has not stopped the bloviating. By the way, Wolfe also commented on another version of covertly nihilistic thinking, deconstructionism. He said that the teachers he knew that were espousing it, didn’t believe in it and were running off at night to take courses in the new biologism.
At least there’s a little pop patriotic poetry in some Country Music.
— Richard L.A. Schaefer
Nobel Laureate Rudyard Kipling’s poetry was once so universal that even Mad Magazine could parody the poem “On the Road to Mandalay” and expect its lowbrow readership to get the joke. Now Kipling is an unperson in our schools and universities and even in our Barnes and Nobles. How we need him today!
Would to God some brave soul would stand up on the floor of the Senate, look the Murthas of the Senate in the eye, and recite “For All We Have and Are.”
Once more we hear the word
That sickened earth of old:
“No law except the sword
Unsheathed and uncontrolled,”
Once more it knits mankind,
Once more the nations go
To meet and break and bind
A crazed and driven foe.
Comfort, content, delight-
The ages’ slow-bought gain-
They shrivelled in a night,
Only ourselves remain
To face the naked days
In silent fortitude,
Through perils and dismays
Renewed and re-renewed.
— Lee Allred
Face facts folks! Poets like all of the rest of America need the basics such as food, shelter and water. Any poet that dares write a “patriotic” poem would be scorned out of existence, relegated to the trash heap of history and would not be allowed even, to sweep the floors of any university, let alone be recognized, in modern day America. They would be forced to sell match sticks on street corners, in bare their feet, during a subzero cat. 5 blizzard in order to survive….
— Jim L
East Sandwich, Massachusetts
Given that “patriotism and associated values like honor, courage and respect for tradition and heritage are surely worth celebrating,”, lawyer and author Hal G. P. Colebatch — in seeking to determine ‘”Where Have All the Poets Gone?” — suggests that the “absence of patriotic poetry that is both popular and poetically accomplished in the present great clash of civilizations and cultures is odd.”
Well, it would be odd but for one thing: the pustule-like eruption of the morally and spiritually diseased Cry Baby Boom elite in the 1960’s and the war these sick weirdos declared on a once decent society. The post-war vipers born of what Tom Brokaw famously called “the greatest generation” have utterly abandoned the honor and courage held in such high esteem by their heroic parents. As for respecting tradition and heritage, the Cry Baby Boom elite (aka the Counterculture elite) gleefully heaped scorn and contumely on their noble heritage of virtue, self-sacrifice, patriotism, compassion and heroism.
And just listen to the strident, whiny, thumpy, twangy offal they call “MUSIC.”
Their knowledge of the classics such as geometry is every bit as pitiful: what they mistakenly insist on calling ROCK and ROLL is in reality a largely unpredictable series of spastic, lurching displacements about their PITCH and YAW axes. Whatever it is, it is NOT dance.
They have abandoned cognition and enshrined in its place emotion. No wonder the wilting flower children continue to cling to their precious mantra, if it feeeeeeeeeeeels good, do it. No wonder they rise in unaccustomed vigor to defend what they INSIST is their “right” to smoke, snort, inject or swallow dope to escape a real world they have voluntarily disqualified themselves to deal with.
Some might argue it would be impossible to euthanize these pitiful smudges of dysfunctional protoplasm because they have never dared to LIVE in the first place. They occupy their present lofty status in the food chain ONLY by accident of birth. They are offer up convincing evidence that — as Ann Coulter asserted in “Godless” — Darwin was wrong in postulating survival of the fittest.
And finally there is not a shred of poetry to be found in the rancid ranks of these morally stunted, anti-intellectual runts of the Cry Baby Boom elite for one and only one reason: Poetry depends upon the existence of a soul — these absurd little ego-inflated whoopie cushions masquerading as human beings don’t qualify.
— Thomas E. Stuart
For what it’s worth, maybe Mr. Colebatch would like something like this:
Through outstretched hands uplifted toward a need not met,
On any virgin soil or storied hills of hold,
Strove men for whom this cause they saw most fit
To sacrifice with dignity and courage bold.
Each brother, son, and father
Whose name we hold in honor,
For men who braved the hellfire that their toil might set
A flickering flame of freedom that would ne’er grow cold;
For this, the glorious hope for which our heroes bled,
And which, the world in hushed and yearning tones applauds,
For light from which oppression’s heavy hand has fled,
For patriots who bore their task with shoulders broad
We stand in proud thanksgiving,
Each sacred soul now living
Beneath the leaves of Freedom’s Tree, whose roots are fed
By sacrifice so dear our very souls are awed.
No other tree yet planted by the hands of men
Has reached its root and branch out in such fervent zeal
To grasp those hands that flounder, wond’ring only when
That unseen dream of liberty be proven real.
As with our treasure and blood
O’er sea or land or mud
By hands upon the sword or paper under pen,
A path to Freedom’s tree for all we strive to seal.
Though knotted, marked, and in so many places marred
It stands the finest sight that mortal eyes will see
Though weathered and imperfect and by lightning scarred,
We swell with pride to claim this land that makes us free.
Our eyes brim o’er in tears,
To savor those blessed years
We’ve clung to solid branches when the winds blew hard,
And rested ‘neath the mighty limbs of Freedom’s Tree!
— Jeff Laird, 2007
I’m not exactly Kipling, but you get what you get for two hours’ work!
I appreciated his article, thanks!
— Jeff Laird
I’ve just read G.P. Colebatch’s fine article asking where the patriotic poets are during this time of war. I recommend this one: Frederick Turner, son of the anthropologist Victor Turner, and accomplished poet, translator, and literary and cultural critic. Shortly after the war in Iraq began, he published at TechCentralStation:
ON THE SECOND IRAQ WAR
Few wars are ever quite as pure as this.
Around the world’s round haunch you feel the shriek
Of thousands as their burning souls seek bliss,
The weight of guilt that bends us week by week;
But there’s another sense, the cooling ebb
Of fever as the great boil, lanced, begins to shrink,
The lightening that dawns across the web
Of human comradeship, the cold sweet drink
Of liberty that’s lifted to their lips,
The first small flowers of truth among the lies,
The lancet of a bright apocalypse,
The gasp of joy as death sheds its disguise.
Out of the sacred dust of Babylon,
The groves of Ur where Jacob once sought wives,
Has come the half-bred monster, half our own,
And half the oppression of a billion lives.
And so it’s time the youngest breed of men,
Mixing themselves, as Tocqueville foresaw,
Back to the race of Adam, tried again
To build the Babel-tower on a just law.
And our young soldiers are so quiet and fine!
How did we merit their strange chivalry,
Their truthfulness, their loyalty, their spine,
After our decades of dishonesty?
And will again they save us from our flaws,
Those gentle warriors purged of irony,
As they once did, upon as great a cause,
Amidst the blood-drenched surf of Normandy?
Surely Mr. Colebatch can agree that this is the stuff that belongs “among the 300 who can create words that sing and inspire”…
— Gregory Borse
Just stumbled onto your online edition and have really enjoyed it. Especially Hal Colebatch. Please pass on my complements to him and let him know I look forward to reading more of his work.
— Charles Mohseni
Re: Jeremy Lott’s Who Killed Taleshia Ford?:
I don’t suppose anyone has in interest why 17 year olds are out at 2 a.m. Have we defined deviancy down to where it doesn’t even cross our minds any longer?
— James Wilson
Surprise, surprise the Washington Compost, the paper that single-handedly destroyed the reputation of an outstanding public servant like George Allen and helped elect a two-faced …. woman hater like Jim MINO Webb, gets a story wrong. Why any self-respecting conservative would waste his or her money buying that rag and reading it is a mystery. Even worse why any conservative or business would advertise in it. The time has come for conservatives to start boycotting all outlets of the Democrat MSM.
— Michael Tomlinson
Jacksonville, North Carolina
Re: Jay D. Homnick’s Move Over, Darling
Personally, I like the honor and love of one’s name best summed up in Dierks Bentley’s “My Last Name”:
Passed down from generations too far back to trace,
I can see all my relations when I look into my face,
May never make it famous but I’ll never bring it shame,
It’s my last name.
Daddy always told me far back as I recall,
Son, your part of somethin’, you represent us all,
So keep it how you got it, as solid as it came,
It’s my last name.
— Mike Dooley
LYNCH PROTECTION EXTENDED
Re: Ben Stein’s The Lynching of the President:
Ben Stein’s articles are the best.
How does one respond to an article where I find myself in complete agreement with Ben Stein ? Easy ….I rejoice in finding a practical reason for NPR….amusing felines ! Meowwwwwch
— Jesse Blankenship
Which is worse? The somnambluence of the media we saw during the first six years of this administration or the “lynching” we are supposedly seeing today?
I prefer a testy media. One of the biggest failures in the history of this war was the failure of reporters, probably due to harsh criticism by the current administration, to aggressively investigate the purported reasons for going into this fiasco.
— Mike Roush
Merle does not have to be an expert on the State of the Union to have an opinion about our president! If you need another opinion, just ask the Dixie Chicks! Enjoyed the article!
— Larry Ferrell
Tell Mr. Stein that there are about 25 million people who don’t think Iraq was/is a mistake.
— Mark Cleveland
After 9/11 we had the world and allies in the palm of our hands — now we have debt, war and no allies thanks to Bush.
This is not a coup from Americans — it is democracy — you are hearing freedom of speech. And yes he probably has done illegal wire tapping, but it will never go to the courts due to the secrecy and power Bush wields.
Remember the 8 year barrage against Clinton and friends? This has been 15 minutes in comparison! Millions of tax payer dollars down the drain! Now hundreds of millions of our taxes are going to Bushes friends to fight his bogus war — to say nothing of the lives on both sides have been lost. Bush and Cheney are the world’s biggest bullies.
Bush’s time in office is the same as all his other ventures. Businesses bought and paid for with family money and all failed due to his lack of interest or ability.
It is past time for American to speak their minds about all that bush has done to ruin our country!
— Trish Smith
We’ve entered at least a two-year season of payback and, as at least one saying goes, “Payback’s a (expletive deleted).”
But that “the (mainstream) media is doing what it can to basically oust Mr. Bush while still leaving him alive and well in the White House” isn’t new. That’s been the MSM’s 24/7 approach since Election Day 2000. Besides, other than pouting and biasing the news, what else can they do?
Some things embolden them, though. One, regardless of their reasons, lots of Republicans and conservatives have turned their backs on the president. Two, he and his administration have failed to communicate successes or clearly communicate and defend their positions. Finally, there’s the recent electoral drubbing of the Republicans and, thus, the president.
As for former Republican and new Democrat attack dog James Webb chewing at the president’s heels: Did that really surprise anyone?
— C. Kenna Amos
Princeton, West Virginia
TAS frequently presents columns and letters decrying media mistreatment of President Bush. For example, Ben Stein found the State of the Union speech realistic and sensible, then was disturbed that rebuttals by James Webb and the ABC Newsies were reflexively negative. Merle Haggard appeared out of nowhere to augment the chorus of criticism. Senator Webb’s antagonism is easily understandable, since he is a newly installed member of the opposition attempting to advance himself. That ABC abandoned objective reporting in favor of partisan commentary is a serious dereliction, but it is hardly surprising.
Yes, many television and print news outlets are hostile to the President. They routinely cherry-pick gaffes in his speeches to present him as fumblemouthed, festoon their reporting of his policies with unflattering adjectives, and ridicule him openly with parodies and untruths. They can invariably dig up some disappointed but plausible ex-supporter with a personal anecdote about Bush’s failings, while deliberately not searching for similar individuals with gripes against Democrats. There is certainly no shortage of addled musicians eager to play in the Bush Bash Band. I accept that the news and entertainment industries are disproportionately anti-Bush. But if the liberal cavalry are in full gallop to trample Bush in the eyes of the nation, so what? Surely it is up to Bush to manage his public perception. It is not up to the press to keep it polished. They are already fully tasked in boosting Hillary to elbow him out.
If Bush didn’t make it so easy, he wouldn’t be in trouble. Two decades ago, the left launched the same hatchet job on Dan Quayle. He was derided as an overprivileged dimwit who couldn’t spell tomato and didn’t know JFK. His response, like Bush’s today, was to let it go unchallenged. Instead of countering the media caricature, he whimpered his way back to the bunker, appearing seldom and saying nothing. The consequence was that the only data voters had to evaluate him came from his enemies. He is remembered today as the press colored him then. George W. Bush may be less a repeat of his father than a repeat of his father’s VP. When bullied, he hands over his lunch money every time.
The economy may indeed be idling along smoothly, but the giant Medicare bills have not yet arrived. CEOs award themselves $400 million retirements, as layoffs and outsourcing erase lunch pail jobs. Terrorists may have shifted their sights to softer targets in Spain, England, Israel and Indonesia, but nobody believes they are gone. Two of three Axis of Evil partners are making nuclear threats, while Russian kleptocrats threaten Europe, and China prepares to dominate Asia . Of course the nightly anchors will bloviate about these stories; they are news. The blunders of FDR, Truman, Kennedy and Clinton are not news, they are history.
Bush’s problem is not that ABC misrepresents him, or that Democrats hate him. It’s that he’s a wuss. Nobody takes him seriously because there’s no need. The only enemy he’s ever beaten was Saddam Hussein, where the Army and Marines did the heavy lifting. Osama bin Laden still sneers at him, snug in some Pakistani cavern. Illegal aliens inundate the country, so he invites more. Senator Webb can burn him in effigy because he already burned him in person. Budget busting pork squirts through the Oval Office like something through a goose. His veto pen is rusted and cobwebbed. If George W. Bush is scorned by minstrels, scribblers and talking heads, it doesn’t take Ben Stein to figure out why.
— Jim Bono
Ben Stein makes some valid points about President Bush, who is, after all, the President. I agree that the media savages him in what one might call an “unfair and imbalanced” way.
However, I think that Mr. Bush has played into their hands. Rather than exert leadership on behalf of those who elected him and the Silent Majority, he has signed into law a roster of abominations, opened the border with Mexico to allow that so-called ally to freely export it’s domestic problems over here, taken a dive on Social Security reform, and entangled our military in another half-measures, politically correct war.
I can hardly imagine what there is for the Democrats not to love about this guy. Of course, the point is that neither the Democrats nor the Mexicans will ever be grateful for or satisfied with anything or everything that he gives them. Rather than exert some tough leadership on behalf of his faithful, he has taken them for granted and appeased the enemy at every turn, with utterly predictable results. Had it been a Democratic president that did everything that Mr. Bush has done with a Republican Congress, hosannas would be ringing endlessly across the air waves.
Having squandered the chance to implement a sort of Contract With America Redux and rouse the Silent Majority to a righteous fervor, he has presided over an electoral debacle. I know that the media is ideologically driven, but it couldn’t ignore or disrespect indefinitely an impassioned electorate. Rather than inflame the Silent Majority by his leadership, Mr. Bush has laid us low with friendly fire in his unending efforts to draw the ungrateful enemy over to his camp.
It has been a remarkable failure of leadership. Perhaps if Mr. Bush had been more of a leader rather than an appeaser, at least the media would feel compelled to give him some grudging respect. I seem to recall that Ronald Reagan had some success in that regard. Of course, even facing a Democratic Congress, he had the brass to whip out and use his veto pen as indicated. Mr. Bush dares not even pull back his jacket to show that he has one. Now that Mr. Bush is facing a Democratic Congress, I shudder to think of the atrocities to which he will smilingly affix his signature. With all the talk of the Democrats’ agenda, I haven’t heard anything about Mr. Bush so much as hinting that he is still the boss without whose OK an override vote is required. It’s as if his signature is a given. Maybe if previous Republican Congresses had been given at least the chance to sustain some vetoes, the voters would have come out to support them in turn.
Trust me, Mr President, it will never be enough to make them love you, nor will it give them any reason to respect you or even your office. Put on your grim face and veto something once in a while.
By the way, is it my imagination or does Mr. Stein mention in every one of his missives that he lives in Malibu? I get it, already. I’ll drop by next time I’m out that way.
— Mark Fallert
The American MSM is, by and large, a sewer disgorging treasonous propaganda day in, day out, hell-bent on destroying George W. Bush. I’m no “spring chicken,” and I have never seen anything remotely comparing to the daily abuse spewed at the elected president of the United States of America! Not to mention the spectacle of representatives of the U.S. government brazenly undermining his every action in time of war.
To add insult to injury, the man not only endures hate-filled diatribes from the media and the “(dis)loyal opposition,” but from his own party and “conservatives.” (I have to hand it to liberals, they close ranks and “stand by their man”.) Even his so-called supporters are always careful to preface their remarks with a disclaimer. The insults and disrespect is beyond belief, and I, at least, am totally in awe of Mr. Bush’s strength of character in being able to carry on, performing his duty in the face of this nearly unbroken assault for 6 long years!
Those of you who say he is such a loser must be comparing him to his illustrious predecessor, the sainted Bill Clinton, who wallowed in the corruption of his administration while whining about the “vast right-wing conspiracy” out to get him. What a splendid leader he was! Oddly enough, Mr. Bush doesn’t have a legal defense fund, or a team of lawyers and assorted henchmen to dig up dirt and smear his critics. He is rarely even discourteous to his detractors; he simply presses on, doggedly pursuing the best interests of America as he sees them.
Apparently you Bush haters think Gore or Kerry would have made a much nicer world for us: Saddam would still be in his palaces; the UN would be handling things in Darfur; 9/11 would just be a vaguely unpleasant memory (Hey! The terrorists all died, right? No problemo!); a team of lawyers would be dutifully dispatched to issue indictments for any nuisance embassy bombing or whatever without upsetting anyone’s Perrier; educators and illegal immigrants would be divvying up the money wasted on Iraq; and the stock market would top 12,000!
Cheer up! We’re probably about to find out the consequences of American defeat and the election of self-absorbed windbags as leaders.
— Jim Valentine
Priest River, Idaho
Sitting in front of George Bush during his State of the Union Address were the wives of two American Border Patrol Agents who had just been sent to prison for the heinous crime of defending their country against the incursion of a drug dealer carrying about 700 pounds of Marijuana. Meanwhile, just before the speech, officials grabbed up 714 illegal immigrants just in time for pre-speech publicity. Interesting, because, for other listeners elsewhere, those U.S. citizens who find illegals by the score on countless street corners every day, it had just been revealed that the City of Los Angeles alone has about 40,000 street gang members in about 700 gangs. LA officials are calling for some kind of Marshall Plan to deal with this issue which is metastasized by illegal immigrants. Among the by-products of this illegal incursion is the continuing Latino-vs.-Black violence which only recently killed an innocent young girl. Further south, the Orange County city of Santa Ana is so overwhelmed with gang violence that the city’s Latino City Council has actually had to have meetings to deal with it, since the local paper out here cannot always bury the events deep inside its Local section. These situations are by no means isolated for, elsewhere, we have somewhere between 10 and 30 million illegal immigrants in this country. They are here to work. Wonderful. But the price to maintain this “cheap labor for jobs Americans won’t do” is paid by still other Bush listeners who are forced to pay, under severe penalty of law, the billions of in taxes required to support the additional burden these otherwise fine people bring upon our failing schools and healthcare system while further burdening our law enforcement, legal systems, prisons and communities along with the personal costs of public safety plus home and auto insurance…to say nothing of the assault on our values of citizenship and culture. These kinds of issues, affecting a great many in Bush’s audience, make for a sharp disconnect between our real costs and experience in dollars and lives versus George Bush’s vapid immigration generalities that all boil down to “Amnesty” in one form or another….while us stupid taxpayers, for whom Bush appears to have utter contempt, can continue to foot the bill. Bottom line: We can heroically “surge” with billions of dollars and thousands of precious lives 10,000 miles from here to support Nation Building at its left-wing dreamiest in a chaotic, self-destructive sand pile that is not now and never has been a nation; but we do nada<.I> ensure the safety and security of our own borders. Thus back to Bush’s own listeners who convict his incompetence and evident malfeasance by their presence: Defend Bush and you get space in conservative publications. Defend America’s borders and go to jail.
— Gene Wright
Laguna Niguel, California
Methinks you might get out of your Beverly Hills bed and take a close look around you. The Bush term(s) in the White House have to represent a new nadir in the history of our nation. Unprecedented corruption, untrammeled greed, unparalleled bellicosity, resulting in two wars (both of which are mired in inefficiency, reflecting the absolute lack of a viable strategy) and a debt that will take many generations to pay off. So, the upside is …?
I would humbly suggest only one positive thing has resulted from the debacle that is the Bush administration: namely, everyone seems to be waking up and the media is finally plucking up courage enough to call a spade a spade. The result, a Democratic Congress that, hopefully, will put the brakes on Mr. Bush’s ill conceived Mideast adventure(s) and restore some semblance of democracy in our country.
Neocon mouthpieces such as yourself, that endlessly seek to whitewash the deeds of this dismal admininstration serve as little more than prostitutes of the fourth estate; megaphones of deception and disinformation ….. May you go the way of this administration, swept aside by the will of the people.
— Steve Mellor
Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
Really well written article. I agree with his assessment. I would like to see suggestions on what one individual can do to speak out against this. Write to your senator (ours are Durbin and Durkin) — not likely. Write to the president — not likely. Write to your newspaper — I’m sure it would be trashed. Our little neighborhood paper in Illinois printed an editorial [cartoon] from the Rocky Mountain News by an Ed Stein that showed the U.S. (state of the union) sinking and Bush on a little island away from it. Totally unnecessary. But what can one person do. I welcome suggestions.
— Pat Wolfsmith
I canned Willy years ago; Now Merle has to join him. I’ll miss them both.
— Mal Byrne
RINGS A BELL
Re: Paul Chesser’s Who Needs Brains?:
You may be right that Charles Murray stated in the WSJ what you summarize in TAS. But I may be one of the 0.001% of Americans who actually read The Bell Curve, and Murray certainly does not conclude “who needs brains” in that so unfairly maligned opus. What I recall Murray concluding is that there will be an exponentially increasing demand for tech savvy individuals, who can only satisfy the requirements if they have been gifted with above average IQs. With those tech jobs and the limited number of individuals who can succeed at them will come the best rewards that a market economy can confer. Conversely, especially in Western countries, those who cannot adapt to the demands of a tech driven economy will economically languish, with all its consequent political implications. Murray even goes on to observe that mating patterns have changed along intellectual lines, with intelligent men and their high incomes demanding intelligent women and their high incomes, and vice versa, further exacerbating the high/low divide.
Murray further provided an example of how intelligence mattered for a lowly table cleaner in a local diner, how more or less intelligence would result in a more or less efficient movement of customers to cleaned and prepared tables in the diner. Murray’s point was that [i]any[/i] occupation had an inherent bias in favor of intelligence.
And just for the record, Murray did have one chapter that documented the fact that one racial group in America had a one standard deviation lower IQ than America as a whole. That observation of fact was immediately lost when those whose hair bursts into flame at the suggestion of “problematic” facts chose to crucify Murray. But Murray’s point was that intelligence, not race, was the key to success [or failure] in America, and one needed to address intelligence, not race, if one’s object was to “level the playing field.” Since the subject race was only 13% of the overall population, giving “consideration” to every member of that 13%, while simultaneously giving no “consideration” to lesser IQ members of the remaining 87% arithmetically guaranteed egregiously unjust results.
And as a consequence Murray has spent the rest of his life attempting to atone for that singularly incorrect observation of fact.
— Frank Natoli
Newton, New Jersey
WEATHER OR NOT
Re: Peter Hannaford’s Greenhouse Gasbaggery:
It is sad to see Peter Hannaford proceed from a ludicrously wrong scientific premise — “Although ground temperatures have increased slightly over the last century, that is not true of air temperatures” — to a celebration of the man most responsible for that error’s endurance in the popular imagination.
When Hannaford was an aide in the Reagan White House, the Chief Scientist of the Department of Transportation was S. Fred Singer, whose new book Hannaford accepts on faith because Singer was an executive of the satellite weather service in those days.
Enormous credit is due Singer for his part in getting weather satellites started, but in the decades following, cumulative errors in the equations connecting the temperatures their radiometers measured on the fly and the ground stations to which those temperatures were nominally attached led to claims that the Earth was not warming. Those errors were at last detected , and corrected, in a universally accepted study published in 2005. Most scientists rejoiced at those responsible doing the right thing — by publishing a retraction.
Not Singer. His latest publishing venture — with an agronomist serving as co-author where climate scientists fear to tread — is little more than an ideologically sanctioned vanity press production of such negative scientific credibility that only a PR man could possibly celebrate it,. It is hardly surprising that one has been found, such are the ways of the Beltway, but if you must impose Fred’s alternative climatic universe on readers at large, at least give them fair warning — I hope these labels prove serviceable to that end..
— Russell Seitz
WIND AT A STANDSTILL
Re: Bruce Clark’s letter (under “The Answer, My Friend”) in Reader Mail’s Going With the Wind:
Bruce Clark recently defended wind power, but in so doing committed several mistakes and made very questionable claims. He claimed a cost of 5 cents per kilowatt hour. I begin by pointing out that there is no “cost of wind power.” Cost depends in very large part on the amount of wind that’s blowing, and that varies across locations, even if only a 100 yards apart. A large portion of the cost calculation is totally unknowable — maintenance and repair of those very expensive and untested turbines and blades over the next 25 or 30 years. Other major and often ignored costs are the cost of connecting all those geographically widely dispersed wind turbines into the grid. Often major transmission lines need to be run hundreds of miles to reach the remote areas where wind is available in commercially viable quantities. Other costs are completely ignored by wind proponents as well: the cost that wind imposes because of its unreliability — any wind capacity requires duplicate controllable capacity in the form of coal or natural gas power plants. That’s because wind has this bad habit of never being around when it’s most needed — during hot summer days when the power demand peaks. Wind power has the least value of all electricity types that are generated, and often commands the absolute lowest rates. No one in the utility community likes having to deal with wind power. Its sole atractiveness is that utilities can charge their environmentally concerned customers extra for wind power, and the Federal government supplies hefty subsidies for this marginal power source. Probably never has so much print been expended discussing a power source that produces so little actual electricity — less than 1/4 of one percent of U.S. power capacity is in the form of wind power. Of course, wind proponents don’t advertise it that way. They make output claims for wind power using its imaginary “nameplate capacity” stamped on the side of the turbine generator. The turbine will usually operate instead at capacities below 30%, often close to 20% of nameplate capacity. 100 megawatt wind can be expected to produce less than 30 actual megawatts of electricity.
Lastly, Clark claimed that there are no other alternative energy souces better than wind. I would claim that there soon will be several more than there already are, when solar towers like those being constructed by Enviromission are operational. They’re superior to wind in every measurable way: 1) they don’t require enormous tracts of land out in remote areas; 2) the cost of connecting them to the grid is a fraction of the costs required by wind power; 3) their peak energy supply corresponds nicely with peak energy demand, and they have the ability to displace output in time, running 24/7 in a totally controllable fashion; 4) they have few moving parts and their electrical generator turbines are more numerous and manageable and not subjected to the stresses of an exterior placement.
Superior alternative power sources available here and now would include: nuclear, which is far more time tested than wind and controllable and the producer of cheap electricity. It also has the advantage of not being subject to fuel cost increases, since uranium ore comprises only 2 to 3 percent of the cost of nuclear energy. That fuel cost has doubled in the past five years, which has had the good effect of enormously increasing the supply of commercially attractive uranium ore deposits, but had virtually no effect on prices.
Another alternative to wind would be to spend the money to subsidize geothermal heat pumps in new and existing replacement operations. Money not used for wind turbines could save as much or more energy than that ever produced by those turbines and save the consumer significantly on his utility bill. And the reduction in demand would occur most during peak demand conditions, exactly the most cost effective way.
Personally, I would build wind turbines only as a last resort — after exhausting all research efforts to develop solar and regular geothermal — and subsidize geothermal heat pumps. In a nutshell, wind power is the least attractive alternative energy source, and unless some cheap method is found for storing and time displacing wind’s output, it will once again become the deadend technology that it has been for the past 100 years.
— Kent Beuchert
A GOOD CASE OF NOIVES
Re: Frank Natoli’s letter (under “Bleacher Creatures”) in Reader Mail’s Unfair and Imbalanced:
A — Frankie!! (If may employ both the informal and the diminutive) Duh Noive uv dat guy? Granted it’s been decades, but I don’t recall anybody in the old neighborhood talking like that. Being the young hooligans that we were, I suspect we’d have water-ballooned anybody who did back to Brooklyn where they belonged. Yes, Brooklyn, the home of Yankee fans who still pine for their Dodgers. See you opening day. Let’s meet at the bar, first beer is on me; maybe we can hook up with some real bleacher creatures.
— A. (Antnee) DiPentima
P.S. I bet Mr. Abe Grossman is a Mets fan.
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