Clarence "Pa" Fisher

My grandpa, Clarence Fisher, 90, goes under the knife today at 1:30 central, same time as I go into the dentist chair in VT.

They had him open once before but closed him back up, saying it was too risky. So that means I guess that it's crossed a line.

Pa Fisher taught me to work hard and taught me to storytell. He taught me that the sweatiest old dirtfarmer or carpenter-man could be a Mensa in the rough. I've learned that poverty doesn't mean you are good or smart, but that if the poverty is regionalized (everyone in that country is poor) that statistically the chances are good that you will find a bargain smart person there.

Women's issues is like a region, in that way, and the 98 Economics Prize guy (?Amartya Sen?) demonstrated how much you sacrifice in your economy if you sideline the women.

American knows not to sideline guys like Pa.

That's where democracy works, quite simply, by increasing the number of people with a statistical chance to show their worth. My admiration for Pa went from ignorance to romaniticizing the poverty to just simply recognizing a poor man's capacity to be smarter than me.

good luck, grandma and pa.

A review of other blogs out there

The better blogs I've looked at try to be less profound, they say less. Some are also less accurate when it comes to recycling facts.

Easier and nicer to read, in other words.

Some say recycling is all hype, that the free market should drive it. That is correct, a "free" market would drive it. It is virtually impossible to throw away a cardboard box in a country which does not have government or institutional subsidies on virgin product. This has commonly been attributed to low wages, but that is a false indicator - the wages are also low at mines and forests in those countries, yet they recover recyclables at a higher rate. It has been blamed on poor solid waste management collection, and its true that the longer waste is exposed the less recyclables are in it, but even in Hong Kong and Signapore (which have excellent trash collection, high wages, and extremely high real estate prices) you will find the trash trucks sorting, or people pre-sorting the trash for a second truck.

Part of the problem is Bureau of Land Management subsidies, which I've covered before... Senators from unpopulated states go for the Interior Dept. committee and act to maintain those subsidies (why would a senator from NY or MA or CA go for Interior, when Health or Finance or Foreign Affairs committees are more prestigious?).

Another weakness in free market itself is that the unborn (future generations) do not get to invest in stock. This puts a limit on appreciation of natural resources - an investment must pay off in the lifetime of the average investor. A 25 or 50 year ROI is considered "long term", meaning a project to liquidate the Amazon or all known petroleum reserves in 50 years would be a very long term economic view.

The recyclers are not led by people that don't understand business and the economy. We are led by people with a longer-term view.

Free will petri dish

I read an inspiring NYTimes article about Free Will this AM, and spoke with my brother about global warming and world population. It's halftime for my environmental life, and the world is looking bleak, and it's making me want to take more risks and shake things up.

There was another really touching article about a NYTimes editor whose husband wrote a 200 page journal for their infant, in case he got killed in combat in Iraq. He did. Made me want to write today. But it's probably garbage, just see it as an attempt to shake the rust off. I'll probably get provocative.

I've been a skeptic of global warming (climate change). Not skeptical that it is occurring, but skeptical that we haven't had lots of fluctuations like this over the course of the past 5,000 years - which isn't long in earth time. I am waiting to hear something definitive about the Mars poles, which are also receding.

But I'm starting to get this petri dish feeling. From high school biology class, where you put a fingerprint in a dish of gelatin, then observe how the fungus grows like mad for 2-3 days and then starves itself, drowning in its own filth.

I used to give a speech in high school (to garden clubs and at high school forensic events) which was mainly about recycling and mining subsidies, but the serious introduction had to do with the petri dish culture experiment. It was never my favorite speech, I like to open with a chuckle or self defacing anecdote. But on this one speech, at least for the Arkansas Garden Clubs or anti-Littering Club audiences, I always went for the gut punch. Society was wasting up my planet, and I was young enough to be concerned about it.

Now, I still am still open minded whether a few volcano eruptions in our recent past may have put us in the same spot we are now, and that cooling and warming may be a flea's perspective alarm. But when I see the Amazon rain forest and deep ocean beds being harvested without abatement, I see all the oxygen-converting going to hell, and see all the co2, and it looks like we are so dangerously out of balance that a tiny solar flare which would have been the weather blip of the past will now turn us into a toaster oven... I anticipate the following.

"Wait, no fair, we were just going to solve man-made global warming on a just-in-time inventory basis!"

I'm going to be 45 this month, pretty mid-life, and all I've done is tried to recycle as much as I pooped. I've tried to have a net-balance ledger which would put me in the place where my kids and kids-kids would see me as less responsible for the petri-dish escapade. Now I think it's pretty weak. To the degree I've done ok or well, I'm now just competing for someone else's job again, like when I had the recycling director or division deputy thing at MA DEP. I left there knowing it was in good hands, and the best I could do was break a few plates and leave the spot in the best position for those who inherited it. I had to be sure that the folks who stepped into my place at DEP were better for it than I was, and succeeded with mines and booby traps.

Both inside and outside of DEP, I found that environmentalists have way too little R&D. Many were willing to institute environmental 'remedies' with no more precautionary principal than Midgley (inventor of leaded gasoline). I came into a field under fire from a lot of well-meaning, half-baked, shoot from the hip ideas and solutions, and have tried to bring economic insights and free market it success. I tried to focus eco-attention on the economic subsidies (GENERAL MINING ACT OF 1872, for example). I once stuck a rock in the end of a sewage pipe in the Fayetteville AR city park, and probably thought more about it than the drafters of some "extended producer responsibility" mandates.

For the second half of my life, I guess my options are to 1) make sure I do a hell of a good job raising my kids, 2) learn to write better (I can have really good writing episodes, and also really over-labored exhausting episodes), and 3) offer fresh leads to young environmentalists who must be listening to us hoary old beer-drinking long-haired ecologists and wanting to do something which will break out.

I don't think attacking free trade, attacking the WTO, etc. is the way to go. I think understanding the WTO could actually allow us to use it to set back the environmental anti-subsidies, beit GMA1872, the consumer gold standard, lack of women's rights, etc.

Maybe I'll run across a young writer with the chutzpah to rattle the cages of my generation of eco-farts. We are a good bunch of people. There's really no better set of friends in my age group than the environmentalists. We are probably more open to the challenge than, say, middle American Christian evangelists.

Who are actually pretty good people too.

Hey, that reminds me of a digression which is proving kind of pivotal for my opinion of abortion. My opinion had been that I don't like it. My gut says it's not good. I've been very afraid to get myself into an abortion predicament, and that's probably for the best.

If you think abortion is murder, then, there's no way to be half-baked about it. As my sister said, if abortion is murder how could you be anything but the most strident opponent? How could you merely "disapprove?"

Then the smarter people I know kind of suggested that infanticide is just abortion for the world's poorest people. Yikes. That makes sense and I don't like it.

Then maybe hypothetically, this occurred to me. Supposing abortion is murder. Now suppose you know a woman who desperately wants to have a baby, and she has trouble getting pregnant. But she finally does, let's say, but it's early, one missed period, 7-8 weeks. She doesn't even want to let herself hope, or count her chickens. And she gets on a ride at the fair with her 15 year old niece, and the ride is way rougher than she expected. And that night she's vomiting and having all the signs of hemorrage and miscarriage.

If abortion is murder, could miscarriage be manslaughter?

I don't think so.

I don't think God has a plan and a reason to cause millions of miscarriages and that that's somehow different, that God wants this fetus but not that one.

Hey, I'm a genius. I start a recycling company, then I attack the environmentalists, and then I get into an online debate about abortion! Brilliant! This ranks up there with dumping a truckload of office paper on the streets of Cambridge, or backing a truck into a delivery van for a 200K computer at our largest client (both in the late 80s or early 90s).

Well, this blog is really just for a one in a million reader anyway.