Green Energy & National Security

With all due respect to necessity, war is the mother of all invention.

Need to find planes? Invent radar. Need to find submarines? Invent sonar. Need to wipe out cities? Split the atom. Need to beat the Soviets to the moon? Invent the math and technology required to do so.

If green energy and renewable fuels will be necessary for future military conflict, perhaps we should stop presenting them as environmental issues and instead frame them as matters of national security.

After all, how many years of economically sensible oil consumption remain? 30? 45? 60? A little more than that? Do we really need to wait for dire circumstances to develop an alternative means to operate tanks, trucks, aircraft, and warships? Being an innovator in this regard would give our nation a massive strategic advantage, not only placing us ahead of the international curve, but no longer making us dependent upon Middle Eastern despots for our energy needs.

If a Minnesota high schooler can turn floating plants into biodiesel, don’t tell me our nation’s finest scientists and engineers can’t get this done with a little gumption and a whole lot of funding.

The best news is that once alternate fuels become a national security concern, funding becomes infinite and criticism becomes irrelevant. The list of Defense Department cost overruns and cancelled military programs stretches a mile long.

In the end, everyone wins. Politicians get votes. The military gets money and new toys. The defense industry gets to build the things. America enjoys long-term security and energy stability. The entire planet reaps the environmental benefits. The only losers are the oil companies, who will either need to invest in something else or fall back to their GIANT FUCKING PILES OF MONEY.

The only missing ingredient is a leader with long-term vision and political courage. I’m not holding my breath either, but I will be thinking about this in 2016. Money talks, but an informed, intelligent electorate is far louder.

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Just Do Your Job

Last year, linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, previously known only to special teams aficionados, gained national attention when a Maryland state delegate asked the Ravens to prevent Ayanbadejo from speaking out in support of same-sex marriage. Vikings punter Chris Kluwe published a response on Deadspin eviscerating said delegate, becoming a national civil rights figure himself. Now, both are out of jobs.

This isn’t about them. After all, Ayanbadejo himself noted that he was 36 years old and not producing like he used to. As a Vikings fan, I know firsthand that Chris Kluwe was and is a maddeningly frustrating punter. These decisions can be easily defended in a football context.

This is about the rest of us. Continue reading

Asking the Wrong Question

(Editor’s Note: This is a slightly updated version of something posted as a Facebook note several years ago.)

Wisconsin’s labor issues disturb me.

If this were to come to Minnesota (and it probably will), I would have a very hard time deciding what to do. Certainly, my right to bargain collectively is important to me. But it is not as important as my responsibility to help my students grow as learners and individuals? How can I fight for my own rights at the expense of my students’ right to an education? The fact is that I don’t know what I believe on this issue. Continue reading

Inevitability

As we speak, twelve human beings, fraught with fallibility and riddled with bias, will decide whether or not an approximate tenth of our nation’s citizens are entitled to the protections afforded all Americans by the 14th Amendment: “No State shall… deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Despite my knowledge of and interest in constitutional law, I really can’t merit a guess as to how the Supreme Court will rule. With eight justices probably already decided, my gut tells me that Justice Kennedy is leaning towards overturning Prop 8. Whether or not that leads to an end to the discrimination against our gay brothers and sisters for simply being who they are remains to be seen.

However, come June, we will await our Brown v. Board despite the very real possibility that we are only at Plessy v. Ferguson.

That is, however, my point. Continue reading

Causation

The Sandy Hook Shooting made me think about guns, children, mental illness, the Bill of Rights, violent video games, and an assortment of related topics. I’ve also been thinking about collective guilt and the NFL. Concussions, suicide, premature deaths, and my role as an avid football fan have been weighing heavily on my mind since the death of Junior Seau, the first casualty whom I can remember watching play. I also play video games with violence and explosions. (Yay!)

While these topics might not seem connected, all three have led me to the same place. Our society’s glorification of violence doesn’t cause violence. It’s an effect. We glorify violence because, at heart, we are a violent people in a society that values violence. Continue reading