American Dream not exactly what I thought it was
I am writing this as a 56-year-old, retired male with a decent pension. I have always heard of the American Dream, and I finally had one the other day.
As I was waiting in line at a local supermarket, with items that I can afford, I couldn't help but hear the guy in front of me calling for a cab on his iPhone. This guy looked physically fit, dressed well, with $100-plus Nike sneakers.
Now my curiosity was raised and I was all eyes and ears. When I took a peek at the two giant lobsters and four steaks on the belt, $94 and change on the register, and an EBT [Electronic Benefit Transfer] card in hand (that worked), I thought I was dreaming.
After 56 years on this Earth, it occurred to me: This is the American Dream.
No action will mean more oil explosions
Bakken crude is explosive. Fortunately, the flammable natural gas liquids can be removed from the oil; optimally before filling the tanker cars and sending the volatile mixture by rail through small towns and big cities.
But, at the Pipeline Summit on June 24 in Bismarck, N.D., Gov. Jack Dalrymple said there were not enough facilities in place in North Dakota to make that a viable option. (Reuters)
Viable for who? The oil companies? Is the governor concerned that the cash-strapped Bakken producers can't afford the cost of buying the equipment and building the infrastructure to stabilize the oil? And since when is the governor a spokesman for the North Dakota Petroleum Council? Our state officials and regulators work for us. Supposedly.
The infrastructure will cost a bundle. That's a shame. It should have been built years ago. It will cost $2.7 billion to rebuild Lac-Megantic (Ontario) and clean its lake. Forty-seven people are simply gone. Lac-Megantic's economy, based on tourism, is circling the drain. Three major explosions have happened since.
In Lynchburg, had the exploding tanker cars tipped to the right instead of falling towards the river, their downtown would be gone. And how many people?
On June 19, our state actually held a mock "tabletop" emergency drill involving a Bakken oil train derailment and explosion in Bismarck, or Fargo, with 60 casualties. Deaths. For what? To save oil companies some loot?
What is viable? Simply leave the oil in the ground until the stabilization infrastructure is in place, or burn off all of the explosive liquid gases before shipping. Either that, or we continue to wait for the next fireballs.
Maybe we'll lose places like Velva, or Harvey, or Mandan in North Dakota. Maybe chunks of Seattle or Albany. And more humans.
Is that viable?
Fargo, North Dakota
Climate change facts are not debateable
Russ Wege's June 30 letter on present-day global warming implies that climate scientists want "to squelch or stop other learned views." Nonsense, as any reading of actual climate research will show.
Debate, scrutiny, and arguments galore are the bread and butter of climate- and any other type of scientific research.
What is objectionable is the repetition of factually incorrect, irrelevant or misrepresented material. Saying things like, "No one has ever satisfactorily explained"... X, when in fact there has been a huge amount of work on the subject, for which conclusions are broadly understood by climate scientists. Or, "Perhaps a major factor is"... Y, when in fact Y has been the subject of hundreds of research papers that clearly document the major factors.
Here's another one: "...the minute increase of CO2 (carbon dioxide) in the atmosphere." Ice cores clearly show pre-industrial atmospheric CO2 concentrations were about 280 parts per million (ppm).
When I was born in 1955, the concentration was about 314 ppm; now it is about 400 ppm. A 43 percent increase over 250 years (27 percent in my lifetime) is largely the result of human activities, as endless studies have shown.
The debate is never over, but real debate involves actual science, not made-up stuff endlessly parroted by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sen. James Inhofe and Fox News. Climate science is complicated, no doubt about it.
To those interested, there are many freely available materials, ranging from introductory levels (such as climate.nasa.gov/climate_resource_center), to cutting-edge research papers and data sets.
For a middling level of actual debate, see www.realclimate.org, a site run by climate scientists who are, after all, the ones who do the actual work.
The writer is a member of the Geology Department at Union College.
Farm products best when grown locally
I appreciated your June 29 article, "Grocery chains adjust to changing market." To amplify the complexity, we are served by the wonderful food operation FarmieMarket-Mohawk Valley, which was not mentioned in the story.
FarmieMarket (which serves the Capital Region as well as the Mohawk Valley) offers home or office delivery of local, pasture-raised, GMO- and antibiotic-free meats and poultry, and 100 percent locally grown produce.
You can also buy a CSA (community supported agriculture) share for weeks of fresh produce. Eggs, garlic, honey and spices -- all locally grown and harvested -- are available.
Is it more expensive? Yes. But as prices rise in chain groceries, it's not that much more expensive. Is it worth it? Definitely, especially with delivery service, a real time-saver.
As the market for FarmieMarket continues to grow, grocery stores, from the swank to the down-home, may struggle to keep up.
Given the strength of the local foods trend, it doesn't seem far-fetched that grocery chains will find the best resolution to competitive complexity is simplicity -- a return to truly healthy food from the farmer who lives down the road.
Albany VA has been dependable, caring
Re Nanyjane Batten's June 22 letter, "Dedicated caregivers at VA are news, too": I am a World War II vet and had the pleasure of having Nancy as my primary doctor in the VA in Albany.
Nancy was kind and a person who took her job as a primary with lots of caring. For her patients, thank God for people like her.
I have been a patient at the VA for as long as I can remember. I have covered about every department in all these years and wouldn't trade it for the world.
When I am in need, they are always there.
I still have my follow-up appointments, and in case of emergency, the electron microscopy (EM) is the best in the world. So as the years creep up on me, I will always depend on them.