American Elephants

If At First You Don’t Believe, They’ll Try a Different Kind of Propaganda. by The Elephant's Child

Snort!  I ran across an ad campaign for WINDMADE™ a label that will “provide qualifying companies the ability to effectively communicate to consumers a commitment to wind energy that differentiates their brand, and signals a strong commitment to renewable energy.”

“Because now more than ever, we believe that one of the most important ingredients in a product is the energy used to produce it, and as the world struggles with the increasing impact of climate change, we need companies that are WINDMADE™.”

I guess if you are in a business that only exists on government subsidy, and the people are up in arms about spending, and it looks like those subsidies might just possibly get eliminated, it is more cost effective to try to drum up some public demand since your lobbying efforts might not get so far anymore.

Well, why should you ask for a product that is produced with wind power? It will cost more than necessary because wind power is more expensive.  The ad claims that Wind power generation does not produce any greenhouse gas emissions — which is false. Wind turbines must be backed up 24/7 by a regular power plant fired, usually, by either COAL or NATURAL GAS.  Wind itself is free, but producing power from the wind is very expensive.  Wind is by nature intermittent. It blows in gusts, and when it does not blow strongly enough or too strongly, the power plant has to cycle on and off, compensating for the intermittency of wind.

Low water Consumption? This obviously comes from the professional scarcity people. “They are driven to restrict access to energy because abundant energy fuels all the industrial activities they despise.” The Sierra Club is leading a War on Coal which aims to block all new coal plants and force the retirement of existing plants.  Coal is responsible for almost 50% of our energy. The Sierra Club has a budget of about $100 million annually for their war.

President Obama’s energy policy goes something like this” Phase One: Inaugurate the era of “green” energy.  Phase two: Overturn the first and second laws of thermodynamics.  Phase Three: Carbon neutrality.”

Don’t buy into this silly WINDMADE attempt to get you to promote a product that cannot stand on its own.  A label so you can know who to trust.  Not likely.

Are Texting and Tweeting Destroying Coherent Thought? by The Elephant's Child

You have to wonder about communication in the time of twitter, and texting.  In many schools, much of basic math is relegated to a calculator.  Kids no longer learn penmanship, for their teachers feel it is no longer necessary— because no one will actually have to write anything in longhand — and for the few times a handwritten message is necessary, printing will do. Soon one will either buy a Hallmark condolence card or just send an email? But it is not manners whereof I write, but thought, and understanding.

I am a devout adherent of the works of the late Richard Mitchell,  “the Underground Grammarian.”  The Underground Grammarian was a newsletter written and published by Mr. Mitchell, a Professor of English at Rowan University, to rescue America from its growing illiteracy.  You can download editions of the newsletter, and the entire texts of his four books: Less Than Words Can Say, The Graves of Academe, The Leaning Tower of Babel, and The Gift of Fire. His books are out-of-print, but can often be found at I recommend them highly.

He writes in Less Than Words Can Say of speech: “Speech is tremendously powerful.  It moves our minds and makes the path of history.  It is, furthermore perhaps the most complicated skill we have, and the uttering of words and sentences is only its beginning.”

…the recording of speech is not the proper business of writing.  The proper business of writing is to stay put on the page so that we can look at it later.  Writing, whether it be a grocery list or The Brothers Karamazov, freezes the work of the mind into a permanent and public form.  It is the mind and memory of mankind in such a form that we can pass it around to one another and even hand it on to our unimaginably remote descendants.  …

If we want to pursue extended logical thought, thought that can discover relationships and consequences and devise its own alternatives, we need a discipline imposed from outside of the mind itself.  Writing is that discipline.  It seems drastic, but we have to suspect that coherent, continuous thought is impossible for those who cannot construct coherent, continuous prose.

…Writing does indeed make us exact, because it leaves a trail of thought that we can retrace and so discover where we have been stupid.  At the same time, though, it makes us “men,” grown-ups who can choose what toys we want to play with and who can outwit the random suggestions of environment.  In his writing, then, we can judge of at least two things in a man — his ability to think and his intention to do so, his maturity.  An education that does not teach clear coherent writing cannot provide our world with thoughtful adults; it gives us instead, at the best, clever children of all ages.

Is that what is happening to our society and to our politics?  Have we lost the ability for clear coherent writing and clear coherent thought?  In neglecting to teach how to write clear, coherent, continuous prose, are we neglecting the ability to think clearly?  Do twitter and texting add to the superficiality of thought?

Is it too much of a leap to suspect that the brilliance of our Founders came from the lack of radio, television, the internet and thousands of magazines and books?  They had time to think deeply, to ponder alternatives, and to write clear coherent prose that they left for their unimaginably remote descendants — us.  And too many of us have not troubled to familiarize ourselves with what they wrote.  And does that matter?

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