Sunday, October 5, 2008

New York Windmills

Last weekend I took two staff members and visited the windmill complex in upstate New York. These windmills are located primarily in the towns of Chateaugay, Clinton, and Ellenberg. Each one generates enough electricity to power about 500 homes. There are hundreds planned.
I heard of the windmills in a dairy farm commission hearing last spring, but didn’t realize how big this was until I had occasion in August to pass through these towns on the way back from Canada. They are in people back yards and you can see corn growing or cows grazing right around the windmills. Testimony during the dairy hearings stated that the dairy farmers are sharing the profits form the windmills and most were enthusiastic about their placement. Here in Massachusetts where windmills are controversial, I wonder if we would be so quick to embrace these? If you click on these and enlarge the images, you can see the tops of windmills all around the farm.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Did Last Night's Vice Presidential Debate Provoke a Worldwide Crisis?

Reuters: London, England.
World English teachers today issued a multinational press release announcing that there is a sudden global shortage of the word “also” that is threatening the ability for people all over the world to make additions in sentences as a form of communication. Professor Ian Shellington, Professor Emeritus, Oxford University detailed this sudden shortage of the adverb today in an interview with Katie Couric. “This is a sudden and complete depletion of a very valuable resource in our ability to communicate with one another,” detailed Shellington. “It would appear that this is a very severe loss that has halted overnight communication in such things as email.”

John Soucer, a football coach in the Laffey-Bristol League described how this has impacted his ability to live a normal life. “Me and some mates were returning from Cracker’s Pub last night and I was going to post some of me exploits on me blog, when I was unable to one up some bloke from Stilton. His posts are usually cheesy and they stink, but he’s always bragging. I found an distinct and dreaded inability to one up him due to my shortage of , y’know, that word.” Bollocks! What’s a bloke to do if we can’t brag about our knitting??!

Closer to home Mitzi Smith-Hurst, spokeswoman for the American Teachers Association blamed the shortage on No Child Left Behind. “This is what happens when schools and teachers are under funded by the present administration. If we had more money, we’d have more language. It’s as simple as that.”

Speculation over the shortage has reached immediate consensus. Overwhelmingly the overnight news agencies have pointed to the overuse of the word during last night’s debate by Alaskan Governor and Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin in her one and one half hour debate with Democratic nominee Sen. Joseph Biden of Pennsylvania, and until recently, Delaware. Tom Brokaw, NBC icon stated that, while he didn’t usually pick winners and losers in these debates, she was the clear winner in use of the “A” word. Researchers at said that it hampered their ability to research facts used by the Governor. Researcher Derek Bloggonanon said, “Jees, we kept looking up statements because, you know, we are supposed to look these things up in real time. But we would start to look this stuff up and then she would add something else and pretty soon our computers were slower than assistance to New Orleans. It really hurt us.” The Presidential Debate Commission could not confirm or deny this as the source of the language crisis. Mimi Langdorf, spokesperson for the Commission said they keep count on many things, but not on language use. “Quite frankly, Langdorf said,” We haven’t run across anything quite like this since Ross Perot’s use of the word “Get”. The Commission did point to notes taken from the podium as possible proof that Palin did, indeed, precipitate this crisis. Ms Langdorf stated, “You may notice during debates that candidates will make notes for their use. We do keep the notes from the podiums in our archives as part of the Presidential debate collection in Windage, Minnesota, proposed home of the Presidential Debate Commission Museum and Gift Shop. On Governor Palin’s sheet, the word in question was scribbled one hundred and seventeen times. The only other notes were “wink, wink”, and “Make sure they flew in the moose meat for Todd’s dinner.”

Fox News had immediate overnight special programming on this issue with commentators ridiculing the press’ reporting of this story. “What a bunch of cry babies,” noted newsman Ron Huntsman, “This is from the elite eastern press corps who can’t seem to lower themselves to use the word ‘too’. For crying out loud, get over it.”

The White House issued a statement that it was studying the situation and would look to release more language from the federal language reserve. This would mark the first time in the eight years of the Bush Presidency that an expansion of language has been allowed. In the meantime, White House advisors, after an early morning meeting, have asked that people remain confident in our English Language. “Our Languages is strong,” President Bush said after being told of the early morning meeting. Advisors have advised that the language shortage is temporary and should abate as soon as Palin is placed back into isolation and away from the press corps. In the meantime, they have asked the general public to use the words “besides”, “likewise”, and the phrase “as well” until normalcy returns to the United States.

In related news, overnight markets were down substantially upon learning of this latest shortage, oil prices rose to over $100.00 per barrel, and Pubster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus, the largest of the wordsmiths in the US has asked Congress to consider a $150 million fiscal package to allow them to recapitalize the word market.