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The White House is starting to take flak from the public and some members of congress over its refusal to halt flights from West African nations currently in the throes of the Ebola outbreak. It’s interesting to read all of the contortions and gyrations that this administration will go through to protect whatever the hell it’s trying to protect from the travel ban; it certainly doesn’t appear that they’re too concerned about the general population of the U.S. Maybe it’s an esteem issue; certainly don’t want to “stigmatize” those folks in Liberia. If we banned travel from Liberia, we’d be horrible people; haters, no better than, oh, say Columbia, St. Lucia, South Africa, Jamaica and Guyana. Or maybe any of the thirty other nations that have imposed such a hateful ban. Question? What do they know that we don’t? Are they just panicking or do they hate the president because he’s black?

Ineffective; they'll just swim to shore....

Ineffective; they’ll just swim to shore….

Is the call for a ban really as irrational as the administration and its cadre of supporters want us all to believe? The current line of reasoning is that a ban would drive these folks underground, that they’d find other ways to get out of the affected areas undetected. That line of reasoning doesn’t really hold water in light of the fact that Thomas Eric Duncan lied his way onto American soil; we may never know how successful he would have been trying to cross the border from Liberia into the surrounding countries that have now secured their borders, a phrase quite unfamiliar in this country.

For me, it’s simple math. The number they bandy about is 150 people a day come to the U.S. from anyone of the hot zones in West Africa. Sounds simple right? Surely we can’t go apoplectic over 150 people a day. However, that doesn’t tell me how many flights per day, how many planes, how many passengers they may have spent ten hours mingling with. An Airbus can hold well over 300 people, about the same for a Boeing 777. Put those 150 on one plane and you’ve got another 150 people exposed. Distribute the 150 by 50 per plane and you get 3 planes with 250 available airborne petri-dishes per plane just pouring through the gates of Kennedy or any other major international airport. Where, of course, they come into contact with any number of TSA agents, attendants, food service workers and the general travelling public. Hey no issues there. Remember, it’s only 150 people a day.

The president, the congress and the CDC all have a constitutional and a moral obligation to protect the citizens of the United States. Why this fact is lost on them is anyone’s guess. Bigger question is why any of these idiots are still in office. The CDC can’t get their collective thumbs out of their asses long enough to provide clear directions to health care workers but it makes sense to send our troops and the national guard to ground zero? And the fawning press is making sure that anyone who rings the alarm bell is ridiculed and belittled; it’s fear mongering. This from a press that supports an administration that would never let a good crisis go to waste.

Frontier Airlines is now trying to locate up to 800 people who may have had contact with the Dallas nurse who contracted the virus from Duncan. Another worker from the same hospital who handed samples from Duncan is currently quarantined off the coast of Belize with her fellow Carnival cruise passengers. Does anyone know how many people are currently on that ship? Better than 2,000 one would think.

Any attempt at logic here is futile. We don’t allow school children to attend classes in our little podunk town without proof of inoculations; they can’t come back to school if they have been sick; a minimum of 24 hours fever-free is the guideline. No one is suggesting that these policies are draconian or fear mongering. Are we just hysterical for wanting to protect ourselves from the common cold or flu?

No, we’re actually quite reasonable. And doing what common sense, non-politicized, rational common senses suggests. The kind of common sense that Belize is employing. Reflect for a moment on their government’s statement regarding the quarantine of the Cruise ship just off its coastline;

“We remain in close contact with U.S. officials … we have maintained the position that when even the smallest doubt remains, we will ensure the health and safety of the Belizean people.”

That’s how it’s done folks. No whimpering. No excuses. No apologies. The government of Belize is ensuring the health and safety of its citizens; sensitivities of West Africa be damned. And us? We’re assuming that if we take the harshest of measures, that most punitive step of banning air travel, well then these folks might just find another way to enter the country anyway. One would assume by taking the “unaccompanied minor express” that rolls through most of Latin America with its final destination of anywhere USA.

I don’t care what your political leanings are at this point; Ebola doesn’t register as an “R” or a “D.” Epidemics don’t start with thousands, they start with a few. Maybe as few as one on a cruise ship or one of 150 on a daily excursion into the land of the free.

Are the administration’s excuses the real hysteria? The world used to look to the U.S. for leadership in a time of crisis; what a shame that the world must now turn to a small country on the eastern edge of the Yucatan peninsula to see what true leadership looks like.

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I just bought 5 “8 packs” of 100 watt bulbs at my local Lowes.  Consider it an “after Christmas” present to myself.  I’m one of those folks who just cannot stand fluorescents, period.  No, literally, I can’t be around them.  It took several years to figure out what was causing the burning in my eyes, sharp sudden pain above my brows, inability to focus.  I went through several eye doctors and many prescriptions before one doctor asked me simply to read a book in his office.  In minutes my eyes were tearing, burning like crazy.  He then asked me to take a walk outside and as usual, the pain went away.  I went back inside and he asked me to read the same page in his waiting room, the one that was in full sunlight.  No problems.  Back into his office we went and I tried to read the same passage under the glaring obnoxious glow of the industrial fixtures planted into his ceiling and sure enough, I was back rubbing my eyes and swearing at my glasses.  A casual stroll in a mall, grocery store, even the office where I work and no matter what I’m wearing for glasses, I’m reduced to someone who just got hit with pepper spray.

Government knows best....

The laughably named Energy and Securities act of 2007 means that I’ll need to start stocking up on contraband bulbs while they’re still on the shelves.  The act bans the manufacture of bulbs in the United States, starting this year with the 100 watt.  Of course, the bulbs will still be manufactured in China by General Electric and sold throughout most of the world.  It’s only us idiots at home who decided that a 55-cent light bulb was inferior to the homely-looking squiggle shaped CFL that was next to them on the shelf at Lowes, at 4 times the price mind you.

Many folks like me never really paid attention to the ban in earnest.  I just assumed that we would get 100-watt incandescent lamps that would be far more efficient than those of old.  And besides, I went through the hassle of switching to halogens when they were destined to save the planet.  Remember those? I had several explode on me in normal usage and they all burned so hot that I couldn’t put them on any of the conventional lamp shades we had in the house for fear that we’d get more light and heat than we bargained for.  I just never assumed that the freaking government would want to decide for me how I light my dammed living room.

So even though congress has decided to withhold funding the enforcement of the ban, the 100-watt bulb is on its way out.  I’m now going to have to be convinced that I should use the new CFL’s around my house.  You know, those bulbs that will cost me 4 times more and probably raise my taxes and or trash removal rates when my town has to meet federal standards for their disposal.  The ones that will require my kids to wear HAZMAT suits when replacing.

At some point in time, we as a people need to get off our lazy butts, stop asking for more and take this country back.  Any government that can require you to buy healthcare at the same time it decides you can no longer buy a light bulb has already over stepped it’s authority.  There’s no better description of tyranny.


I admit it, I haven’t been paying attention.  I’ll bet you haven’t either.  Quick, someone tell me what the Northern Pass project is.  Don’t be embarrassed if you’ve never heard of it.  I had no idea of its existence at all until a good friend told me to get off my blogging butt, look into it and write about it.

In essence, the plan is to take a huge swath of New Hampshire beauty and carve out a 140-mile path from the Canadian border all the way down to the small town of Deerfield New Hampshire.  The goal?  Deliver up to 1,200 megawatts of Quebec-Hydro generated electricity into the lower New England power grid.  Oh yeah, that would mean Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.

Okay, so here’s the first sign that I’m going to have a problem with this.  The project website touts this as “A Unique Opportunity in time”.  It goes on to inform me that the goals of the New England states are to reduce carbon emissions as part of their climate change action plans.  Say what? When the hell did I vote on putting high power transmission lines from the border of Canada right through the heart of some of the most beautiful real estate in New Hampshire, using coercion and eminent domain, so we could give Hartford and Springfield 2 cent per kilowatt hour electricity rates?

So is this about climate change?  Really? We’re going to use climate change as an excuse for every misguided, destructive piece of legislation or project from now on?  Let me take a step back here a minute:  First, we needed renewable energy; this is from MY youth, and that was the mantra for years.  Clean renewable energy.  The solution?  Hydro.  Except that didn’t work.  That offended the other side of the eco-weenie spectrum and we could no longer build dams because we were killing off various species of fish.  Why Hydropower from another country is any more appealing, I don’t know, but hey, if you’re selling climate change, hypocrisy isn’t one of your hang-ups. I’ve been following the news around Maine over the last few years, as they’ve been busy tearing down one dam after another in an effort to reclaim the rivers and return them to the wild. Of course, they also closed Maine Yankee, one of the first nuclear plants I’d ever seen.  (Yeah, I know, not green, not renewable…) Where the heck does Maine get its power from one wonders?  For that matter where does New Hampshire get theirs?  Seabrook nuclear station? Eight years of protesting, one reactor got built, one was delayed and eventually canceled. I’m constantly reading about complaints and protests over the Schiller station in Portsmouth, that nasty oil and coal fired monstrosity that just happens to warm the protestors houses when they get home from a hard day of, well, protesting in front of Schiller station.  Anyone see a trend yet? We can’t produce our own power locally, let alone in our own country.  But not because we don’t have the resources or technology.

At the very least, it’s the “not in my back yard” scenario all over again.  Build a power plant or two in southern New England.  Maybe some fancy wind turbines subsidized by the federal government so that they can actually break even within 50 years.  Oops, I forgot, you can’t have those unsightly beasts in certain areas, especially places like the Kennedy Compound.  You can put them in the White Mountains though.

Maybe it’s me.  Maybe I have the NIMBY virus and it’s affecting my reasoning.  I don’t know, I just feel that there’s something nefarious going on here and I’m not normally given to conspiracy theories. But to begin with, I could only find a few articles on the issue and no awareness of it here on the seacoast at all. The only large TV station in New Hampshire has reported on it twice.  I managed to find just two articles in the Union Leader, one from November of last year and another this February.  And consider; Jeanne Shaheen, who I find myself at odds with most of the time, wonders in a letter to the DOE secretary Steven Chu why the same company that is advising Northern Pass LLC, the company under scrutiny, will perform the department’s environmental assessment.

We do know that Quebec-Hydro already has a transmission corridor in Northeastern Vermont.  But if they widen that by increasing the right of way, PSNH loses out on profit.  Why should we allow them to stitch a large ugly zipper through the White Mountains just for profit? How does it benefit the state of New Hampshire to be someone else’s conduit?  How about Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island destroy their own landscape to supply their addictions or scale back demand.

This is the legacy we will leave our children?  We will continue to be dependent on foreign sources of power, whether it floats across the Atlantic in a tanker or crackles overhead from Canada.  All for the lure of short-term construction jobs, temporary increases in property tax revenue while we lose the industry that brings in the most revenue of all: the tourists.  And let’s not forget how quickly the land values will depreciate given the change in view.  Let’s pack the car and take the kids up to the White Mountains so we can hike under the high voltage lines.  Sounds like a great memory.

Maybe it’s the tourists who are causing the problems in the first place.  I mean after all, most of them come from Massachusetts and Connecticut to get away from it all, to enjoy the mountains, lakes and streams of New Hampshire.  They get to shop at the Timberland and LL Bean outlet stores, spend a weekend camping at the motel six and call themselves stewards of the land.

Once we’ve destroyed the attraction for them to come, they’ll stay home to enjoy the benefits of the sacrifice we’ve made as the economies of these small towns in New Hampshire wither away.

 

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