27 October 2011

breathe the air

I’ve watched the first few episodes of Terra Nova.  I haven’t yet decided if I like it.  But the show does have an interesting premise.  In the 22nd century, Earth’s atmosphere has become so polluted that the human race itself appears doomed.  However, at the aptly-named Hope Plaza, a rift in spacetime has been discovered.  (Pictured below.)  Entering the portal allows travel to 85 million years in the past.  There is no possibility of those in the past altering the future, because the rift opens to an alternate timeline.  (That’s a nice way to keep the show plausible!)

The show centers on the Shannon family.  The mother (played by Shelley Conn) is a medical doctor, and the father (played by Jason O’Mara) is an ex-cop and prison escapee.  (I won’t go into the details about that.)

What I found especially interesting in the first episode is the scene in which O’Mara’s character emerges from the portal into the world of 85 million years ago.  He has difficulty breathing; it looks like he’s having an asthmatic attack.  His wife, the doctor, understands what’s happening.  She yells out, “He’s going into hyperoxic shock.  CO2 infuser, now!”  His lungs aren’t used to having so much fresh air.  He needs a little carbon dioxide to make the adjustment.

The symbolic parallels to our own lives are numerous.  We can become so accustomed to a toxic atmosphere that, when we’re exposed to clean air, we can’t handle it.  We can be so enmeshed in a poisonous environment that we believe we’ll die without the toxins with which we’re familiar.  We drink venom as though it were pure water. 

We just have to hold on and breathe the air!

18 October 2011

goodbye, little prince (28 Dec 1996-17 Oct 2011)

Yesterday, we had to euthanize our Shetland Sheepdog, Duncan.  He was two months away from his 15th birthday.  We had known for about the past year that he was nearing the end.  He was no longer able to walk with the stride that Banu early on thought of as “royal.”  When we wanted to talk about him without getting his attention, we would use the third person, as in “the dog,” “the Sheltie,” or, going back to the way he would walk, “the prince.”  Finally, on Sunday night, he lost the ability to walk at all.

The top photo is one I have called “Handsome Man Duncan.”  This is from our time in Jamestown.

The next three are from his time as a puppy, when we lived in Nebraska.  The top one shows him gazing into space.

Here he is, abandoning his leash and playing some nighttime basketball on the half-court behind our house.

Finally, a sleepy puppy is yawning at Banu, telling her it is bedtime!

12 October 2011


“Every seventh year you shall grant a remission of debts.”  As I’ve thought about the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, it has occurred to me that a mechanism to prevent the widespread debt we see in our country—and around the world—was given to us thousands of years ago in the form of the sabbatical year.  The above quote comes from Deuteronomy 15:1.  Leviticus 25 outlines the year of Jubilee, which occurs every fifty years.  Today, we might call it “land reform.”

Biblical scholars are unsure how faithfully these measures were practiced.  There is a half-hearted attempt during the time of Jeremiah.  The prophet has been warning the people about the impending Babylonian invasion.  In chapter 34, we see the wealthy grant release to their slaves, but then think twice about it and go back on their word.  Perhaps they thought that they would ruin the economy!

In any event, I’m not the only one who thinks implementing these measures in some form is urgent public policy—that is, if we’re serious about dealing with the immense burden of debt our country carries.  For that to happen, however, the large banks that run our nation would have to be reined in.  As a society, we would have to decide that the extreme disparity between rich and poor is no longer acceptable.

05 October 2011

no disaster, please

This was my (as yet unpublished) response to an article on our US Representative Tom Reed’s support of Eric Cantor’s suggestion that disaster relief must be tied to spending cuts: 

In his confidence that “the government will ultimately find the funds necessary to cover the damage done by Irene,” Tom Reed must be referring to other members of Congress who are more responsible and compassionate. In the Sept. 4 issue of the Courier, Reed was quoted as agreeing with Eric Cantor that “additional funds for federal disaster relief ought to be offset with spending cuts.” 

One flaw of this approach is that it ignores the money made available to stricken areas. Looking at it purely through the lens of employment, after a disaster, there is plenty of work to be done. Work means jobs. Added money means added jobs.

“I support spending on disaster recovery,” Reed was quoted, “but” (here it comes) “we’re living in a day and age where we have to hold DC accountable. We’re going to have to find money to cover it.” 

Our military spending equals the rest of planet Earth combined. I think we can come up with the money. 

If disaster ever strikes the Finger Lakes, what will Congressman Reed tell us?