Christopher Merle

Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be, but first I need more coffee.

Month: May 2006 (page 1 of 2)

Bithidh sinn a’ phosadh

Bithidh Melissa agus mi fhn a’ phosadh an-diudh. An uair sin bithidh ceilidh mr againn.

I’m getting married today, for the second time. It’s Melissa’s second too. We’ve been together since the end of 2003. We are going to have a big ceilidh.

It will be a relatively small ceremony with a large reception. Since Melissa and I have everything we need, we’ve asked people just for the pleasure of the company and if they play or sing to bring their instruments and perform. Also, if they feel they must give something we’ve asked people to make a donation to TSHA in our names. THSA is Tulsa Speech and Hearing Access (its new name).

We have friends and relatives coming from as far as California, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. The largest contingent outside of Oklahoma are coming from Texas. I think Melissa is going to have more people.

There’s no point in saying much of anything about our exes. One they might read this, and two they each have their own lives now. All I will say is this her ex is named Patrick and mine is named Patti which I thought was interesting enough coincidence to mention.

Back to the future. I know I marked this post Gidhlig and there isn’t much Gaelic in it, but wasn’t sure where else to categorize it. I do want to voice my opinion on marriage.

Only the two individuals involved can marry each other, the priest, the minister, the judge, or the ship’s captain don’t marry you. They officiate. It doesn’t matter if the state, the public, or your friends and family recognize it, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. So if two individuals choose to and marry each other then no power on earth can stop it. It doesn’t matter what religion they belong to, nor race, nor sex. So the law can recognize or not. There are certain legal benefits to being recognized, but that shouldn’t stop two people even if it isn’t.

So what I’m saying, it doesn’t matter what I think of gay marriages. It only matters that the gay couple marry each other. It’s the last taboo. Multi-racial and cross-religion marriages used to be prohibited either culturally or legally. But they happen now. What about polygamous, polyandrous, or polyamorous marriages? Some societies recognize polygamy. Are they actually marriages? If I can say gay marriages are OK, why not polyamorous? I’m still thinking on that one.

Uell, tha sin uile.

Conserve This!

You’ve heard the question : What are conservatives conserving? It doesn’t appear they are conserving the environment. This is about future of oil. When it came for me to buy a new car, I seriously looked at hybrids. I wasn’t trying to be ecologically friendly, that was just a benefit. I’m a geek and I love cool technologies. I determined that it just wasn’t cost effective for me.

One note about my politics. I’m not a conservative, a liberal, a libertarian, a socialist, a communist, a fascist, a theocrat, nor an objectivist. My political views are eclectic and I consider myself independent though my views my overlap some of those ideologies mentioned. I’ve promised my friends an essay on my views, so someday I may state them.

None of the hybrids, the Toyota Prius or Honda Civic Hybrid, were pluggable. I thought, well that’s just insane. I ought be able to plug my car into the grid rather than totally rely on the gasoline to charge the batteries. You could get a kit to make the pluggable. Then I discovered that a Jetta TDI diesel got as good or better mileage tha a Prius. Then I thought why doesn’t someone make a diesel hybrid? Diesel-electric technology is a century old in submarines. And to make them eco-friendly you can use biodiesel. Since bio-diesel isn’t that plentiful in Oklahoma yet and I really didn’t want to make my own biodiesel (because you can), I opted for a 2001 5-speed Honda Civic. It was in my price point and it gets 33-37 MPG. I’ve calculated it.

Eventually, I’ll be able to buy ethanol blends and maybe in a few years, I could buy a biodiesel hybrid. Hybrids have two technical advantages. They can recover braking energy. This is sweet because instead of turning your forward motion into waste heat, you can recover it and use it to re-accelerate the vehicle. And they don’t need a big honking motor because, and I’m not too clear on this part, either the batteries help the engine to accelerate the car or vice versa.

I was all hot and heavy for biodiesel because I found out that certain species of algae can produce thousands of gallons of oil per acre. Many, many times that of any plant. Soybeans are one of the worst per acre producers. And biodiesel can be made from waste animal fat as well. And biodiesel burns much cleaner than the fossil fuel variety. Diesel engines last much longer than gasoline engines do.

I also heard about a microbe discovered on Guam that can break down celllulose to sugars and make it fermentable. Hence all the hype with switchgrass. Ethanol requires very special handling and preparation. It is difficult to remove the water and has to be mixed at the end. I’d heard of water being used to inject into airplane engines to increase thrust in WWII. So what’s the problem with a little water in ethanol-gasoline blends? I suspect that the water in the water injected engine has to be added at the last moment. Those engines burn cooler. But that’s a different topic.

I then just read about butanol, a four carbon chain, alcohol. Gasoline engines can burn butanol straight with no modification. Corn that’s used to produce ethanol can be used to produce butanol. That’ll make the corn conglomerates happy. Butanol is also created through fermentation. And there was an active industry producing it in the early part of this century. I’d also heard of methanol too, but didn’t seriously see any persuasive arguments for it’s use.
A word about hydrogen. Hydrogen is a storage medium. It is too expensive to produce and would require a whole new infrastructure. One of the benefits of making butanol is that hydrogen is a byproduct. The hydrogen can be burned right away to generate electricity. One note about hydrogen. I heard that it can be produced from coal. I thought that’s insane. Coal is mostly carbon.
Maybe, someday we’ll see all electric or fuel cell powered vehicles, but for now we have the technology to create hybrids that can use biodiesel and butanol. And the time to market and scaling up the technology is much less than any of the other alternatives.

America is going to have to wean itself off of fossil fuels, whether it be imported oil or local coal. Americans need to start conserving. We can do more with less. More efficient lighting, better insulated homes. More public transportation. We can still enjoy a high standard of living, but it’s going to require different technologies and changes in our lifestyles. I’d be in favor of nuclear power if the industry pulls it’s head out of it’s ass and really uses safer technology. Until they can prove they are going to do things right I’m against.

Ultimately, we are going to have to go solar. Wind is a good idea, but it could potentially harm birds. With more energy efficient technologies and improved solar conversion rates, solar will be the our source of energy. We’d still use renewable chemical fuels, such as biodiesel from algae and butanol from switchgrass and their ilk. I will keep my eye out for other biofuel alternatives.

Let’s Get Political

Will this be yet another, bash Bush blog entry? It depends on how you look at it.

Today’s topic. Immigration. We are a nation of immigrants. Even the Indians who were here first. You might say they were colonizers. In that sense, that is true. Why is everyone up in arms over illegal immigration? The Europeans stole this country fair and square. They marginalized the original population in the most brutal manner. The Americans stole half of Mexico fair and square from the Mexicans who in turn stole it fair and square from Spain who in turn stole it from the natives.

Are we not a nation of illegal immigrants? I’ve traced a few of my ancestors. I have a French surname, but they were ethnic Germans who came to the US in the 1920’s from Romania. Before WWI it was part of Hungary. My great grandparents had five boys and five girls. The boys were all born in the same house, but in two different countries, Hungary and Romania. The girls were all born in the US of A. Maybe it was a change in the water?

The Merle’s orginally came from the Alsace-Lorraine at the end of the 18th century and were part of the Danube Schwabians who immigrated into Hungary while it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The matrilineal line was already here. They were Cherokees and were immigrants into Oklahoma, forced out of their traditional homeland in the Carolinas. Other ancestors that I’m able to trace came from England, Ireland, Scotland, and Germany. I’m a little over 1/2 German and 1/8 Cherokee. The rest is mixed in the other 3/8.

Confused yet? What does this have to do with Bush? Well, seeing how he is President, he’s in the news alot. Lately, he’s been going on about illegal immigration, so have the Democrats, the Republicans, and the illegal immigrants. Reagan, the patron saint of the conservative movement, granted amnesty to illegal immigrants in 1986. If it was good enough for the conservatives then, why not now?

The problem is Americans are addiction to cheap labor. They are addicted to cheap oil and illegal drugs. Surprise, suprise. The solution to any problem is go to the source. Don’t go after the immigrants. Go after the people who hire them. If no one would hire them, they wouldn’t come.

Americans have always hired cheap labor. After abolishing slavery, the Irish and the Chinese were among some of the early groups to replace them. And cheap labor is what it’s all about. The biggest cost in any business is labor. Keep those costs down and you can keep your profits up.

In the dot-com era, we had the H1-B’s, high tech coolies from India, were effectively indentured servants. There was no shortage of skilled labor. There was a shortage of cheap skilled labor. When the H1-B visa cap was reduced, companies started outsource heavily.

I’ll have something to say on the economy and the belief that it is a zero-sum game, which it ain’t. I’ll also have something to say on minimum wage and health insurance too. Anyway, it’s a time honored tradition to hate immigrants. By making them illegal immigrants, we can hate the doubly so.

Here’s my two pesos on what to do. Grant amnesty, but make the clock for citizenship start today. At best a two for one for time already served with a minimum of three years. I’m not to keen on a guest worker program, because that effectively creates indentured servants. I suppose we could raise the minimum numbers allowed in, and any over that number would be given guest worker status.

Also, we need to heavily invest in Mexico’s future. If there is any country we should interfere with that would be Mexico. By working to increase the standard of living and reduce crime and corruption. Less people would desire to come to the US. But their are vested parties on both sides of the border that like the status quo. Companies want cheap labor and Mexico gets rid of their surplus population. And if the companies are going to outsource, lets outsource to Mexico. It’s a lot closer than China and India.

Unless the powers that be can create a vast permanent underclass as a pool of cheap, plentiful, and powerless labor, outsourcing and immigration will run the world out of cheap labor. Id like to see a large sustainable global middle class. We can’t do it with current American technology. It’s too wasteful, but it is possible. It’s not likely to happen, but it’s something that I can hope for.

Tear Down The Wall

I just watched the most appalling news story on Anderson Cooper the other night. It showed the Minutemen building a portion of fence along the Arizona border. They were sending a message to the President and Congress to help keep out illegal aliens. Remember the lesson of King Canute? If not, I’ll get back to it.

1. I remember growing up with the idea that America was a melting pot, but now a better metaphor might be more likened to a chunky stew. The Minutemen and a lot of other groups want to make it a bean and ham soup, made with white navy beans and surrounded by a thirty foot fence.

2. What is so amazingly wrongheaded about the fence is this. If people and companies wouldn’t hire the illegals they wouldn’t come. If amnesty was good enough for Reagan it should be good enough for the Minutemen. Let’s face it America is addicted to cheap labor and cheap oil and fatty foods and drugs.


What now? I’m not sure, but I wanted to make a second blog entry.

Since I don’t view this as a journal per se, I will rewrite, revise, and even expand on older entries should I feel the need to do so.

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