Say What?

Walking the talk.

  • Counter That!
    We talk a lot about the counterculture in the work we’ve been doing lately. It may surprise you to learn the term was coined no earlier than the 1960s by Theodore Roszak in The Making of a Counter Culture HERE. The tradition itself, though, no doubt goes back as far as societies have existed. I Read More
  • Play It Like An Artist
    Bob Dylan abruptly leaves the familiar orbit where he is widely celebrated and launches into a turbulent zone where none has gone before. Two years after this appearance at Newport, he returned with a rock band and blew down the walls. It was not well received. When Dylan went electric in concert July 25, 1965, it’s Read More
  • The Price of the Fourth Estate
    When did it begin? Within my recent lifetime, I believe. Like Hemingway said about bankruptcy, it happened very slowly and then very suddenly. The Fourth Estate is in its death throes HERE and HERE. To be accurate, there are many diehard journalists about and looking for new ways to practice their craft HERE, but the candle Read More
  • Inspiration
    We’ve all had the experience, some more often than others no doubt, but is there anywhere anyone who hasn’t had an “Aha!” moment? That burst from out of the blue that shows you something you never have seen before or clears up something that always before has been muddled, or maybe generates in you a Read More
  • Wonder (ing)
    Wow! Another new year is upon us and by now I’ve had this experience quite a few times. I was trying to remember among all those previous celebrations of this change from old to new which of them stood out to me and why. Surprisingly few did. I wondered why. Maybe it was the alcohol. Read More
  • Joy, too
    In this season of joy and goodwill to all, a persistent issue arises for me. Walking the streets and sidewalks of our prosperous little town, especially in the evening when lights in the store windows twinkle and cash registers ring, it’s always a challenge to ignore the flotsam and jetsam of our social order. People Read More
  • Sources of Information
    Radical Radio: FREEFORM Radio Archive was launched as promised (whew!) late on Thanksgiving Day. The response to this Version 1.0 of the archive has been great so far. More than 300 people have checked it out to date. The December 5 edition of the Colorado Music Hall of Fame (CMHOF) newsletter featured the site and Read More
  • Handy
    Is it true that the next iPhone will be a corneal implant? A device that can do everything your current one does and do it hands free. It can text your messages and comments, scan the Internet, even replicate your voice and make a call – does anyone actually call anymore except spammers? – all Read More
  • Get High, Get By, Deny, Decry, or Buy
    What do you think about drugs? Good, bad, indifferent? Chooser, user, abuser? Never, seldom, often, every day like clockwork? Maybe you take medicine for your heart. Maybe you like wine. Smoke a little reefer. Coffee may be your fix each day, or meth may be your pick me up because after all it’s cheaper. Perhaps Read More
  • Space To Contemplate
    My grandmother, Tina, was a young woman when she travelled with her family to California to visit relatives. It was her first trip to the West Coast. The second day there everybody hopped aboard the car to take in the ocean. When they arrived at the beach, Tina walked down the sand to the edge Read More
  • Prosperity Kills
    Is your prosperity killing people? All the glorious benefits of making it in the free enterprise system, where there are no limits on what you can make nor what you spend it on, has become a blood sport. Making and spending are the crux of climate change, which is killing people by the thousands.  Too Read More
  • Monocropping Culture
    You start with seeds of one type or another, maybe corn or wheat or whatever serves your market, and they are genetically modified. They are built to withstand the pesticides and herbicides you will apply to them at several stages of the crop’s development. You have water rights sufficient to spray copious amounts on even Read More
  • The Alchemist’s Cookbook
    Here’s a recipe for pleasure and one of those glorious moments in life when something you want to believe in is confirmed as scientific fact. It turns out that sex, drugs, and rock & roll are in fact good for you. Well, wow, like tell us something we don’t know.  First thought, best thought, and all Read More
  • Turn Your Radio On
    There was a new generation of music coming on and a new generation of people who wanted to hear it. There was a new generation of radio personalities, too, who wanted to play it for them. They had different ideas about how it should be done and what the purpose was. Traditional radio was about Read More
  • Radical Radio
    Radical what? Radio. Yeah, that’s what we said. There was a time, you know. And it mattered! Here’s why. It was called underground radio. Freeform was a better name for it. Radio without walls. No separation between different genres or types of music. No restriction on what you could play if you were at the Read More
  • Merited and Entitled
    Since the financial crisis of 2008, we’ve been presented with one example after another of the increasing disparity between the haves and have-nots in American society. Billionaires comprise the 1/10th of one percent and millionaires make up the other 9.9 percent of that gilded group that actually is prospering in our capitalist system. The remaining Read More
  • Cascadia
    Late in 2015, I thought about the recent election and why I continued each morning though November to wake up with the immediate thought that it was just a bad dream, until I was fully awake and realized once again that it wasn’t. I began to sketch out a novel about the dissolution of the Read More
  • Making a Living
    credit: Adam Borkowski for Unsplash   “What do you do for a living?” That’s a common question when people are introduced. A way of saying, “Who are you and what do you do?” “Where is your place in the social strata and how should I relate to you?” “Are you a doctor, a lawyer, an Read More
  • What If Again
    We have spent a lot of time and energy, yours and ours both, in arguing for a simple and equitable tax policy that will serve our society far better than what we have now. People tell us it’s complicated. Not that easy. Our efforts are appreciated, of course, naïve though they may be. But, really! Read More
  • Them Changes
    Last month in this space, we posted a blog entitled What If? It suggested we stop taxing income and start taxing assets. How’s that for a long shot? Wonder of wonders, a small piece of that idea briefly seemed like it might actually happen. When the President’s efforts to increase taxes on corporations and high Read More
  • Plastics
    Remember the 1960s movie The Graduate, where Dustin Hoffman is taken aside by Mr. McGuire, who says to the young man just setting off on his way to a career, “Just one word: plastics! There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it.” “I will,” says Hoffman. “I will.” Many of us thought not enough Read More
  • What If?
    Do you ever ask yourself: what if? How things might be if we took a different approach. Maybe changed our priorities. Set new goals. See what the world might look like from one particular perspective or another if we altered our point of view. There are certain things we believe to be true that are established Read More
  • Inflection Point
    Do you ever get the feeling we might be reaching an inflection point? Not because the sky is falling, although it often seems to be when we wake to another day covered in ash. Not because strongmen (and they are nearly all men) in the service of plutocrats are once again the dominant political force Read More
  • Consumer or System
    More discussion about where we best might focus our efforts to deal with the critical problems of our time. None is bigger than climate change, none is more overwhelming to contemplate, and nothing else is quite as insidious at inspiring nihilism. But there are effective ways to address these issues if we’re willing to challenge Read More
  • Consumerizing Blame
    Recently, a friend was passing out those little curlicue florescent light bulbs, the type that every hotel now uses. She said we all needed to start using them because of climate change. They save a lot of energy precisely because they give off so damn little light. All we need to do is learn to Read More
  • Free Form
     “Whoever controls the media controls the mind,” said the poet Jim Morrison, lead singer for the Doors in the late 1960s.   “Who are the Brain Police?” asked Frank Zappa of the Mothers of Invention is his 1966 album Freak Out. Those quotes and so many more like them were just part of that drug-addled Read More
  • Acuity
    As we bid goodbye to the year 2020 and welcome 2021, it is for most of us a welcome change from a year unlike any other in our lifetime. Maybe that is true for one and all, but not everyone had such a bad year in 2020. Some people profited tremendously. Elon Musk, he of Read More
  • How Wide the Divide?
    Turn a few sacred cows on their heads. Think about the aphorisms that support our concept of American society. The place where meritocracy determines your fate. Anybody can get ahead, right? The great gift of our free enterprise system. Competition brings out the best in us and the cream rises to the top. If you start Read More
  • Basic Income
    As the pandemic of 2020 rages, a new Administration forms, and Congress lobs partisan volleys back and forth across that ever widening aisle on the Hill, we are at an inflection point of unprecedented gravity. Possibly not since the Civil War has the United States seemed so divided and likely to come apart. If ever Read More
  • No Kill Meat
    Big agriculture feeds the world. The energy industry keeps it lighted, warmed, cooled and mobile. Together they supply our most basic needs. In the process, both of them do tremendous damage to the natural world. The energy required to produce meat, beef, pork, lamb, and poultry, is no small matter. Neither is the havoc wrecked Read More
  • Supply and Demand Upended
    When supply becomes an ecological value and demand becomes a value of human need, the new dynamics of society as a living system begins. James Quilligan Thinking about where and why we invest capital, and what it costs us, is one of the critical considerations in examining late stage capitalism. The sanctity of our concept of Read More
  • Energy Source Comparison
    Energy Source Comparison Energy Source Pros Cons Solar Energy Non-polluting Most abundant energy source available Systems last 15-30 years High initial investment Dependent on sunny weather Supplemental energy may be needed in low sunlight areas Requires large physical space for PV cell panels Limited availability of polysilicon for panels Wind Energy No emissions Affordable Little Read More
  • Use It or Lose It!
    The goal of a post-carbon energy system, at least as we’re currently (ahem!) pursuing it, can’t happen without storage. Batteries where power can be kept until needed are woefully inadequate now, but incremental progress is being made. Whether it will mature quickly enough remains to be seen. Read about it here.    
  • Pandemic Price Guide
    It was widely reported this morning that Pfizer Pharmaceuticals is finding positive results in the Phase Two trials of a vaccine for Covid-19 protection. The federal effort to secure an effective vaccine may not play out as promised, however. The nearly $2 billion dollars it placed on the table sounds formidable but may in fact Read More
  • Food and Climate
    Are you willing to change your diet to save the planet? What if you learned that farts are releasing as much methane into the atmosphere as oil & gas exploration? This is classically “food for thought.” In an article about the Paris Accords by Henry Fountain in today’s New York Times Digest (no link available), climate Read More
  • Robber Barons of the 21st Century
    While high-tech Mandarins continue to accumulate staggering wealth, and the Revenge of the Nerds assumes dominance in the economy, service sector jobs make up most of the rest of what’s available in the marketplace and the pay sucks. The pandemic has convincingly demonstrated, among other notable inequities, that most of the “essential workers” keeping society Read More
  • Pay It Forward
    The thing about change is that it usually is forced on us. Few of us go there willingly, foregoing the familiar for a venture into the unknown. When truly dramatic change happens, like the world wide pandemic we are suffering, all the pain is readily apparent. But sometimes, too, the sheer magnitude of the disruption Read More
  • Power Play
    It may surprise you to know where your electricity comes from. This state-by-state look at the sources of power generation over the past 20 years is provided by Nadja Popovich and Brad Plumer in The New York Times edition of Oct. 28, 2020.  
  • Police: their uses and abuses
    Being a good cop might be the toughest job in the world. Maybe that’s why there are so few of them. Fortunately, there are some very good cops. Peace officers who walk the talk about “Protect and Serve.” Men and women in blue who do their level best to treat people, all people, fairly and Read More
  • World Population Through History
    Our world is rife with problems. Many of them, some would say most of them, are related to the earth’s burgeoning population. A fascinating look at the growth of population world-wide from humankind’s earliest days to the present can be found HERE.
  • Something Scary and All Too Real
      “On current trends, the Arctic will be ice-free in summer by 2040.” Think about that statement for a minute or two…and then think about the fact that the evidence to support it is absolutely clear. Read the full and very scary story here 
  • Birthplace of Climate Change Changes
    Maybe it’s unfair to call the United Kingdom the birthplace of climate change. The world’s burgeoning population is a factor, too. It is, however, the place where coal was first employed on a mammoth scale to provide energy, powering the Industrial Revolution. And it was an early example, with its soot stained buildings and poisonous Read More
  • Talk About a System that ISN’T Working…and Why?
    So, United Airlines takes a passenger who’s sitting in a seat he paid for and knocks out a couple of his teeth in dragging him off the plane, just ’cause it can, you know. It’s yet another egregious example of systems in our society that no longer serve the customer (except a whipping!) and rather Read More
  • Want to Get Away From It All?
    This man did, for 27 years, without human contact. He didn’t have a plan, he wasn’t running from anything. He just headed into the woods one day and stayed there for nearly 3 decades. A fascinating story here.    
  • How to Capture an Autonomous Car!
    Cars without drivers are about to become common on our roads and highways, a new subspecies roaming the earth. How can you capture one of these creatures in the wild without doing it any harm? The answer can be found HERE.
  • Infrastructure Blues
    Infrastructure, the stuff that ties the vast reaches of our country together, powers our homes and businesses, stores our water and delivers it to where we need it, and enables us to get from one place to another, receives another poor grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers. Ain’t quite a total failure but Read More
  • Whither the Jobs? Robots on the March!
    Will robots replace humans in performing most of the jobs that now provide paychecks for the majority of workers? If so, when? And what will be the fate of those workers once they’re out of work? The Economist offers an interesting look at the subject here.
  • Slip Slidin’ Away
    The majority of people in the United States live within a hundred miles of the nation’s coastline. For those who live at the shore, in some of the country’s most expensive homes, climate change is lapping at their equity with relentless force. Many $trillions of real estate is at increasing risk of being lost to Read More
  • When You Really Want to Get On Down the Road
    Rocketing from one star system to another like Captain Kirk and the crew has any number of physical problems to overcome. Which is not to say it can’t be done. In fact, there is some high level academic speculation that someone may already be doing it. Story HERE
  • Cornhuskers Hunt Deere
    Thinking about systems that come to serve themselves rather than their customers can uncover a lot of egregious examples. Here’s the latest assault on the family farmer by Big Ag: Kyle Schwarting is a 36 year old farmer in Nebraska who likes to take care of things himself. He’s self-reliant and doesn’t take kindly to Read More
  • Money For Nothing
    ‘It’s an incredibly simple idea: universal basic income – a monthly allowance of enough to pay for your basic needs: food, shelter, education.’ The rapid development of technology such as artificial intelligence and robotics may someday soon make large swaths of the human workforce obsolete. There may not be corresponding growth in job opportunities elsewhere Read More
  • A Brief History of Gender Equity in Theatre
    How long has gender equity in theatre been an issue? Maybe forever. If you think we’ve moved closer to parity the past few years, we have. But not far enough and not nearly fast enough. If you’d like to gain a little perspective about the subject, you can get it here
  • Reclaiming a Healthy Economy
    Wall Street has come to rely not on interest from loans for its profits but on short-term trading, at the expense of almost everything else. The damage done in the name of capitalism and meritocracy to our current economic circumstances can be traced to the wealth-making wizardry of Wall Street on steroids. Imagine methamphetamines as Read More
  • A Radical Solution to a Pervasive Problem
    Homelessness in America is pervasive. Not a city anywhere in the country is free of the pain. The specter of people living on the streets is heart-wrenching. It’s also very expensive. Maybe society has a compelling self-interest in addressing the problem. Maybe it’s time to admit that homelessness is a healthcare problem. Political leadership in Read More
  • Who Knew What When?
    Another major oil & gas company knew nearly two decades ago that climate change was an issue that needed to be addressed, and the sooner the better. What it did next may not surprise you. Read about it here
  • Batteries Technology in Energy Systems
    Batteries can play an increasingly important role in energy distribution and storage, particularly in distributed generation systems. However, the emerging market is full of hurdles as well as opportunities. It’s a complex subject that should be examined by everyone with an interest in climate change mitigation and renewable energy. You can read an extensive article Read More
  • Hydrogen Powered Train
    The coolest train in town, well, in a German town, may be a harbinger of a cleaner energy future. Hydrogen power has arrived. See it here
  • The Wet and the Dry
    This is what the end of a lengthy drought in Sacramento, California looked like yesterday, after this winter’s relentless rain and snow:
  • Energy Systems Writ Large
    If we want to talk seriously about mitigating climate change, there are going to be a lot of oxen gored. The energy producers, of course, will be up in arms. The utilities, too. Everyone of them wants to do it their way, which doesn’t benefit from distributed generation. That we would expect. Some related industries Read More
  • Electrical Grid Cyber-Vulnerability
    Centralized generation and distribution of energy resources is a highly vulnerable way to support the nation’s need for power. Here’s why
  • Utilities Sabotaging Distributed Generation
    We have been speaking about this issue for some time. Utilities are becoming increasingly hostile to distributed generation and are using their clout to try forcing out the small providers of solar power. Indiana is one of several states where legislatures are being lobbied to ensure centralized energy distribution is the only kind they accept. Read More
  • Red Governors and Blue Governors are Green Governors
    A group of the nation’s governors from both major political parties sent a clear message to the Trump Administration about the value of renewable energy — not only as a means of mitigating climate change but also as a profound economic driver in rural America. Listen up, policy makers, and read about it here
  • Climate Change in Dollars and Sense
    The cost of climate change on one critical sector of our economy — the electrical grid — lends additional credence to the value of distributed generation. Read the full article.
  • Distributed Generation Roiling Industry
    Distributed generation of renewable energy is a no-brainer pathway to mitigating climate change. Nevertheless, it faces a host of challenges from the utilities and others who favor centralized distribution. Thanks to advancing technology, this may be one of those rare cases where good sense prevails over big money. Slowly but surely. Read about it here
  • Breathing Easy or Not
    There is a health crisis that is killing people in record numbers. It ” causes 6.5 million early deaths a year. That is double the number of people lost to HIV/Aids, tuberculosis and malaria combined, and four times the number killed on the world’s roads.” In Africa, it is killing 3 times the number of people Read More
  • Understanding Trump, Understanding Ourselves
    Probably no other president in American history is so confounding, so potentially dangerous, and yet so valuable a lesson in getting to know ourselves. A fascinating analysis by James S. Gordon here
  • Energy Industry Stumped by Trump
    The energy industry shares the uncertainty our new Administration has brought to our lives and livelihoods, as policy is yet to be formulated and campaign sloganeering gets sorted out. Read more here
  • EPA Objects to Secretary Pruitt
    Former and current employees of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency expressed opposition to President Donald Trump’s pick to run the agency on Monday – in an open letter and a small street protest – reflecting divisions over the new administration’s plans to slash regulation. Over 400 former EPA staff members sent a letter to the Read More
  • Energy Industry Jobs
      “The American solar workforce grew at a historic pace in 2016, a year when one out of every fifty new U.S. jobs was in the solar industry, according to the new National Solar Jobs Census 2016, the seventh annual report on solar employment issued by The Solar Foundation. The National Solar Jobs Census 2016 found that solar industry Read More
  • One View of Energy Costs Nationwide
    Some interesting information about the costs of different energy sources by region, here:
  • American Activism
    Sage observations from a veteran activist: Nonviolent resistance does not happen overnight or automatically. It requires an informed and prepared public, keen to the strategy and dynamics of its political power. Although nonviolent campaigns often begin with a committed and experienced core, successful ones enlarge the diversity of participants, maintain nonviolent discipline and expand the Read More
  • Status Quo – NOT!
    credit: Kara Q. Lewis How do you feel about the status quo? Business as usual. The same old same old? Our new president is taking a lot of credit for shaking up the status quo in Washington, D.C., but one would prefer creative destruction as opposed to the mayhem he’s inflicting on the system. The Read More
  • Small Wall or Big Wall?
    Very disappointing that our newly elected president is thinking small. A wall between the U.S. and Mexico should be only the beginning. With a little courage and a couple of $hundred billion more, we could build a wall around our entire country! credit: here Think of it! We can keep out the Asians, the Canadians, Read More
  • Converting from Coal to Natural Gas
    Not everyone supports the concept of a bridge fuel. Read more about the perspective of the Sierra Club here
  • Floating Cities of the Future
    What to do about climate change? There are any number of thoughtful responses to mitigating the problem, and some more fanciful plans for dealing with it and moving on. The impact of rising sea levels on coastal communities can be explored here One proposed response can be seen here Will all the coastal cities of Read More
  • Grid Security #1
    How secure is the nation’s electrical grid? There are any number of challenges to protecting it from intrusion and a lot to say on the subject. A quote to keep in mind: A 2014 Transmission & Distribution World article, “Cyber security: Protecting critical infrastructure in a changing world” by ABB characterized the issues addressed by IEC 62443 and related Read More
  • Emissions Chart
  • Politicians
    Ah! Politicians! Another election cycle has come and gone. How’d this latest slate of candidates strike you? Who among us has not wanted to wring their neck or spit in their eye? But, hey, let’s be kind: it’s not an easy life they lead. Kissing babies, shaking hands, pretending to care. How’d you like to Read More
  • Banking System
    Think of all the systems that factor in our lives: political system, economic system, banking system, energy system, communication system, transportation system, distribution system, education system, and on and on. Systems determine the solutions available to us. We want solutions that determine the systems, not systems that determine the solutions. As an example: banking. Why Read More
  • Inauguration Day 2017
    What should be a national celebration of democracy and the peaceful transition of power instead has become a day that portrays a deeply divided country. If your candidate won, you feel a smug satisfaction at having prevailed. If your candidate was defeated, fear, anger and disbelief mark your anticipation of the next four years. Perhaps Read More
  • Renewable Energy Growth in the Time of Trump
    Regardless of federal policy, renewable energy growth as a portion of the nation’s electricity providers will continue unabated, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. You can read its assessment here
  • Wind Vision Calculations
    The National Renewable Energy Lab has released new calculations that suggest wind energy could supply one-third of the nation’s electricity by 2050. You can read the article here
  • Hydrology
    Can increases in the use of existing dams to generate power provide a partial solution to our need for clean energy? Read Tom Russo’s thoughts in the matter here
  • Grid Vulnerability
    Centralized distribution of power is an accident waiting to happen. Whether the cause is a natural disaster or a terrorist strike, the electricity system can go down in an instant. Read the latest assessment from the Department of Energy on Grid vulnerability here
  • Systems
    Systems permeate our lives What do they do for your life? What do you do for them? Self-Licking Ice Cream Caught Live. Read About It Now! Systems permeate our lives. They are the connective tissue that hold society together. To a very large degree, they dictate the way we live. As they evolve, change and become more Read More
  • Whither NASA?
    Every few years a new administration is handed the power to shape the federal government, or at least to propose policies and promote the passage of laws that change the direction of the bureaucracy to a greater or lesser degree. Many of the various departments of government pretty much just plow straight ahead, regardless of Read More