Let the Earth Bring Forth Life

Sensational headlines get attention, so you can’t blame Salon for the bit of hyperbole in the title of the article God is on the Ropes, about a new theory that claims “Under certain conditions, matter inexorably acquires the key physical attribute associated with life”–certain conditions being those that prevail on a planet such as the earth.

I have been thinking for a while about a couple of verses in Genesis 1.  In the first God says, “Let the earth bring forth vegetation” (1:11).  Then in verse 24 “Let the earth bring forth living creatures (animals).”  Similar is verse 20, “Let the waters team with living creatures.”

God assigns a role in creation to the earth.  Other verses describes God as arranging “certain conditions,” separating the land mass from the oceans, providing an atmosphere, and roles for the sun, moon, and stars.

Genesis 1 uses simple images to describe the process of creation and the sequential development of life on earth as the creator willed.  If the language of science is mathematics, then you would have to say Genesis is unscientific because it does not use scientific formulas.  But there is nothing in Genesis 1 incompatible with what the natural sciences have shown us about the origin and development of life on the earth.

The Greatest Invention of the Twentieth Century is . . .

In my humble opinion, the greatest invention of the twentieth century was the bicycle derailleur shifting system.

This invention made the bicycle a realistic mode of transportation in a variety of terrains.

Average people with a few weeks of practice can travel on a modern multi-speed bicycle on moderately hills roads at an average speed of around 13 miles per hour.  With improved fitness a normal adult can average 15 miles per hour.  This makes daily commutes of 7-10 miles realistic.

Of course elite athletes race up steep mountains at speeds over 20 miles per hour, and they descend the other side of the mountain at 50 mph or more.

Before the derailleur was allowed in the Tour de France in 1938, racers had two gears, one on each side of the rear wheel.  Just before entering a mountain stage, for example, they could pull over, remove the rear wheel and flip it around.  In those days riders didn’t have support teams.  They had to carry tools and supplies in their pockets with spare tires slung over their shoulders.

Tullio Campagnolo invented the quick release in 1927 after frozen fingers prevented him from turning the wing nuts to release his wheel so he could flip it around.  He went on to found a bicycle parts company that eventually perfected (though they did not invent) the derailleur.  The device itself began to appear as early as 1905.  Its predecessors included complex systems of levers and pulleys.

The bicycle was invented early in the 1800s.  Hundreds of bicycle companies rose up in the United States.  By 1900 there were two large patent offices in the nation’s capital.  One was for bicycle inventions, the other was for everything else.

Susan B. Anthony once said,

The bicycle has done more to emancipate women than anything else.

The bicycle could also do a lot to emancipate us from dependence on oil.  The author’s of the book Bicycle Science estimate that a human powered by the equivalent number of calories in a gallon of gasoline could travel about 1000 miles.  Or, drinking milk instead of gasoline (remember milk is over 90% water) a rider could go about 99 miles.  If riders neglected to replenish all those calories, cycling could also help liberate us from the plague of obesity and diabetes.


Jim Langley, Campy Only, Pedaling History.

Oily Hair?

Since hair is a natural oil absorber, tons of donated hair are going to soak up the oil spill on the gulf coast.  Matter of Trust tells how you can help.

Support Your Local Cow

After reaching records highs a year ago, wholesale milk prices–the prices paid to farmers–have plummeted to a 40-year low.  As a result, many dairy farms are facing bankruptcy.  Two or three large agribusiness concerns control most of the milk industry.  Most farmers have no choice but to sell to them, even at a loss.  You probably haven’t notice much difference in the price at the store.  The “middleman” is making a killing.

There are a couple of area dairies that are bucking the trend.  We buy either Iwig or Emerich milk  (See “Mum in Bloom” for photos.)  Both are small scale, locally owned operations.  Both dairies treat their cows humanely and avoid injecting artificial hormones or routine antibiotics. They sell their milk, butter, and ice cream at local grocery stores, and at the Alma Creamery.

When my grandson is visiting we enjoy taking the short walk to the Alma Creamery to buy some cheese and a half-gallon of milk in an old-fashioned glass bottle.   In the past year, I have broken three bottles, through my own negligence–on the other hand I haven’t been putting plastic bottles in the local landfill, so I’ve learned not to cry over spilled milk.

I recently learned that at least one of these dairies is having a tough time financially.  To all of my friends in NE Kansas–do yourself a favor.  See how much better naturally and humanely produced milk tastes.  Support Iwig or Emerich.  If your grocery story doesn’t sell it, ask them.  In Manhattan, Kansas, you can find it at People’s Grocery or Eastside and Westside markets.  In Lawrence, try the Merc.  Here in Alma both the local grocery story and the Alma Creamery sell it.

If you know of other places that sell local dairy products, let me know.

By the way, the ice cream, chocolate milk, and eggnog (available around Christmas) are fabulous.  (More)

Earth Day

Happy Earth Day

Happy Earth Day

The day before Easter Sunday we helped Alex and Margaret burn the pastures.  Not a scorched-earth tactic, it is actually an environmentally friendly, natural way of managing the prairie.

Alex and Margaret send this message:

EatingWell This Week

Happy Earth Day All!!        Do something green today- recycle if you are not, drive less-walk or bike more, take your sack lunch,
pick up someone else’s litter, Carry on the spirit!!!!
It can start a snowball effect!!!!!
Margaret participated in the first Earth Day, back in 1971.  She was a student back then, full of youth, energy, and idealism.  She still has those same qualities, to which she has also added wisdom.

Are There Too Many of Us?

The earth is finite; it would be idolatrous to suggest otherwise.  There is a limit to how much human life the earth can sustain, and we are probably getting close to that limit.  Overcrowding is already causing immense human suffering.

The population is exploding in the poorest areas of the world; the birthrate is shrinking in wealthier nations.  When women have access to opportunity, education, and health care, the population problem takes care of itself.

In countries like the United States and most European nations, the birthrate is already below 2.1 per couple, the “zero-growth rate.”  Those few couples with more than two are three children are statistically insignificant.

So, it makes no sense to call for oppressive laws to limit family size in countries that already have a negative growth rate.  Freedom, not coercion, is what is bringing the size of families down.   Yet, some in the UK–a country that already has a negative population rate–are calling for mandatory enforcement of a two-child rule.

The problem is not the rare families who want to have several children.  The problem is the economic assumption that growth in consumption equals economic health.

The Optimum Population Trust calculates that ‘each new UK birth will be responsible for 160 times more greenhouse gas emissions . . . than a new birth in Ethiopia’. (Telegraph).

The solution is not for wealthier countries to stop having babies.  The solution is for people in wealthy countries change their consumption habits and help people in poor countries gain access to education, opportunity, and healthcare.

Earth Hour Is Upon Us

Tonight at 8:30 PM citizens around the world will turn the lights off for one hour as a symbolic gesture.  This is the Lenten season when many people are voluntarily fasting or giving up something as a sign of repentance and humility.  Unplugging for one hour is what I call a “coal fast.”

Will it change the world?  Symbolic gestures don’t change the world in themselves.  What they do is raise consciousness.  And a change in awareness could make us take other actions.  Here is what people in other countries are doing:

In Switzerland, the city of Geneva plans to switch off the lights on its theaters, churches and monuments. Among these are the Reformation Wall, where floodlights normally illuminate 10-foot (three-meter) statues of John Calvin and other leaders of Protestantism. The city’s motto engraved on either side of the statues is:

“After darkness, light.”

Romania planned to turn off lights at the massive palace built in Bucharest by the late dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.  (more from Yahoo News)

Last night I attended a Care of Creation seminar.  I learned that one in four mammals is endangered, and one in three mammals, and half of the world’s frogs.  Half of the world’s forests, wetlands, and grasslands are endangered or already gone.

Turning off the power for an hour and meditating on what we can do individually and collectively, might be a good way to spend the evening of the fifth Sunday in Lent.

Planet Earth–Unplugged

Here’s a verbal cartoon–I don’t have the time or patience to draw actual cartoons, but sometimes I come up with ideas for one.  So here’s one:

A guy sitting at a computer desk calls his local utility company and says,

Hey, could you throw an extra lump of coal on for me?

Sure, but, uh, why?

I’m going to leave my computer on all night; I just don’t feel like shutting it down.

OK, buddy you’ve got it, one extra lump of coal.

Any volunteers to illustrate?  OK, here’s a better idea.  A friend forwarded this to us:

On March 28, 2009 at 8:30 pm your time, TURN OFF ALL YOUR LIGHTS for 1 HOUR. I plan to include everything but my fridge and freezer, no TV, no computers, no radios, etc. It will be like a wave of turned off lights across the world, for one hour. If you visit this site it will tell of the business, governments and citizens across the world that have and will participate again this year.  It started with 2.2 million people in 2008 in Australia and has grown to over 100 million. I think we should do this every month on the 28th. I joined this group on Facebook. I am  not debating climate change, for or against. Just that worldwide we can stand together for a good cause, our planet and less energy consumption. If the energy companies lose a few dollars in the process, well, that’s a big bonus.


Time for a New Economy?

Communism collapsed in 1988-89 and capitalism collapsed about twenty years later, in 2008.  What both economic systems had in common is that they were big and impersonal.

Meanwhile a quiet alternative has been growing steadily–the local economy.  It means supporting business and buying products from people you actually know.  It means being able to look the farmer who grows your tomatoes in the eye.

A couple years ago I bought a wooden toy made by a local craftsman.  I don’t have to worry about whether it was tainted with led pain–well that was easy, it wasn’t painted.  My grandson received some wooden toys this year made by our nephew; those toys will be in the family a long time.

If I go to the supermarket here in the middle of American, I have no idea where the food came from.  My daughter who lives in New York City belongs to a community farm cooperative.  Once a week she gets to meet the farmers who bring her a basketful of fresh vegetables.

Around the world one of the most effective forms of fighting poverty is through microloans.  It is a way of helping poor women and men start local, sustainable businesses.

We don’t know what will happen to the national economy in the coming months.  We can all pitch in and help our neighbors.  We can support local small businesses.

Peddling Peace

Marco Polo?

Marco Polo?

About ten years ago I went on a backpacking adventure on the Apallachian Trail with my daughter, who had just graduated from high school.  Some day I’ll describe some of our adventures, but right now I’m thinking of some of the interesting characters we met on the trail.  Some of them included men who had left the rat race of high-pressure careers to go for a long walk and sort things out.

Marco Löchner is a young man like that.  This December he began a bicycle Odyssee from Berlin that will take him to Hanoi.  He is going to interview the people he meets along the way.  Marco and his team just recently passed through Lithuania.  Maybe I should have deferred my Sabbatical and joined him on the adventure.  Maybe my colleague Wes would have even joined.

But I have had my own adventures and look forward to more in the future.  For now, here’s wishing Happy Trails to Marco and team.  (More here)

Did I say bicycle? Now that I have seen the video of Marcos peddling through the snow in Lithuania, his ride is acutally a 4-wheeled cycle with a trailer attached for his gear.  But it is definitely a human powered vehicle.  Check out the video from Lithuania TV by clicking here.

Two New Voices

I’ve discovered two new writers today–new to me that is, but I may be reading what they have to say.

Stephen C. Rose wrote a book in the sixties called the Grass Roots Church, and more recently Abba’s Way.  He agrees with me–or maybe I agree with him; he’s been around longer–that we need to dethrone the automobile and build liveable, walkable local communities.  He thinks we need to invest in this kind of future rather than merely rebuilding the car-co-dependent infrastructure and bailing out Detroit.  (More here)

Christen Day is the author of Democrats for Life (review here) and executive director of an organization by the same name (website).

Who Needs Detroit?

super_record_cassetteI can have all my transportation needs met in Vicenza, Italy.  If congress would just forward me about 0.0001% of that bailout money, I could upgrade my bike with the new Campagnolo Super Record 11-speed system.  That’s 11 sprockets on the rear X 2 on the front, for a 22-speed setup.  Who needs internal combustion?  With this, I can tackle any hill.

But until the economy improves, I guess I’ll just have to limp along with my lowly 9-speed (X 3) setup.

Seriously, I am concerned about the workers in Detroit.  Mitt Romney says it’s their fault for wanting health insurance and the retirement pension they were promised.  He says the automakers should use the bankruptcy laws to absolve themselves of those burdensome obligations.  Part of the competitive disadvantage Detroit has is our system of health care.  The Republicans have always resisted publicly-funded health care (that’s why they hated their own candidate, McCain)–and now they are blaming workers for wanting health benefits from their employers.

But I say, who would we be saving Detroit for, if not for the workers?  And I do seriously hope some of the funds will be used to develop sustainable transportation options.

Why couldn’t Detroit compete with Italy in producing precision bicycle parts?

Save the Dinosaurs!


Is the saying still true, “What’s good for General Motors is good for America”?

Now that the car companies are asking for us to bail them out, like we did the Wall Street high rollers, it could be a good opportunity to retool our transportation system.

In the 1950s president Eisenhower made a momentous decision.  In the name of national security, he used the power of imminent domain to nationalize thousands of miles of farm land and build the Interstate Highway system.  The national security interest was the transportation of troops.

This experiment in socialized transportation was a huge success.  It turned out to be a great subsidy to the automobile industry.  The auto companies thrived, suburbs sprouted, boosting the construction industry–and the middle class emerged realizing the American dream for a whole generation.  These programs of governments subsidies and centralized planning produced a level of prosperity no one could have imagined.  There was only one problem.  It relied on an unlimited supply of cheap petroleum–and fifty years ago, who could have imagined that the supply of fossil fuel was limited?

Our dependence on automobiles–and therefore on oil from unstable countries–has produced a national security nightmare.

Don’t let the temporary cheap gas prices fool you.  As soon as the world economy begins to recover, oil will resume its ascent to $200.00 per barrel.  The reason is simple.  There are ten times as many people in China and India as there are in the US; and they all want to drive cars like we do.  And who can blame them?  The problem is, that there is not enough oil in the world to supply them and us.

We could use this opportunity to retool the factories in Detroit, Ohio, Kansas City, and other places to produce mass transportation: high speed train cars, clean bio-diesel hybrid buses, trolley cars, bicycle lanes.  We could improve our health, simplify our lives, clean up our air, and revitalize our economies.

Or we could try to save the automobile–the dinosaur of our age.

Yes We Can!

Bob the Builder

Bob the Builder

Here’s the link to Bob the Builder’s official website.  My grandson has been listening to his theme song for about a year now:

Can we fix it?

Yes we can!

Here’s a little tidbit my daughter passed on: President Obama website:

You can submit you ideas and be part of the “change we need.”


This is pretty neat, I hadn’t heard about this Web site until my friend Melissa mentioned it yesterday. It’s the Obama web site for the transition. It’s supposed to have a lot of information about appointments in the future, but it already has a lot on different issues and places to submit ideas.

Here’s the energy environment page too: http://www.change.gov/agenda/energyenvironment/

A Little Help from my Friends

Check out this clip on how we can stop Global Warming.  For more info, go to Green Peace.

Meanwhile, here are Garrison Keillor’s thoughts on the current election campaign.

I suspect the extra “Pages” on this site don’t get used often.  This is just a reminder that I have updated the “Friend’s Finds” page.  Check it and “Joe’s Finds” ever once in a while to see what’s new.  Joe keeps us updated on archaeology discoveries, among other things.

Voodoo Economics 2

London has always been known for its fog, but by 1905 Londoners realized there was toxic smoke mixed with the fog–and the word smog was born (EPA).  Over the long weekend of Dec 5-9, 1952, the London smog killed more people than would later be killed by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Four thousand people died during the infamous “London Fog” weekend of 1952.  Several thousand others died later from lingering illnesses–the total number of fatalities may have reached 12,000.  (“The Killer Fog of ’52” NPR).

Republicans were not always opposed to regulations protecting the environment.  By the late 1960s, rivers in the United States were on fire, and the health hazards of smog in large industrial cities were well known.  Some of the most important environmental legislation was passed under the watch of Richard Nixon (Nixon and the Environment).

It wasn’t until the Reagan Revolution that the Grand Old Party of Teddy Roosevelt began to mock environmentalists and portray them as opposed to progress and part of the lunatic fringe.   Under George Bush’s watch, reports from EPA scientists were “redacted” under orders from Dick Cheney’s quarters, indicted criminals were appointed to chair hearings into infractions of environmental protection laws–the foxes were allowed to dismantle the chicken coop.  According to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.,

“You simply can’t talk honestly about the environment today without criticizing this president. George W. Bush will go down as the worst environmental president in our nation’s history.”  (Interview)

Environmental regulations, like brakes on a runaway train, do slow the economy.  During the era of the the Reagan Revolution of deregulation, the economy did accelerate.  Without burdensome gas mileage requirements, the U.S. auto industry, for example, made a killing on SUVs during the nineties and for a while into the new millennium.  General Motors was riding so high on its fleet of gas guzzlers it abandoned its billion-dollar investment in the electric car.

But the voracious appetite for fuel in the U.S., along with China’s unregulated industrial growth, eventually let to to $150.00/barrel oil.  The perfect storm of deregulated forces finally came together, and now we have the nationalization of the whole financial sector and a trillion dollar debt to pass on to our grandchildren.

The End of Voodoo Economics



Well, I hope we have been rescued from economic meltdown; I hope I won’t be out in the street selling pencils next month.

I remember the election campaign of 1980; The father of our current president was seeking the nomination of the Republican party.  He called Ronald Reagan’s economic plan “voodoo economics.”  Regan of course, prevailed, and his philosophy is now sometimes called Reaganomics.  Reaganomics is the economic theory and practice that has prevailed for the past 28 years.  The key elements of Reaganomics have been deregulation, deficit spending, and income redistribution.

First, a disclaimer: economics is messy and complicated.  In fact the current economic crisis is based on economic instruments so complicated even the banks that own them don’t understand them.  So what follows are the memories and reflections of a marginal participant in the U.S. economy, not those of an expert.


One of the basic principles of American democracy is the balance of power.  Our political creed is based on a fear and loathing of tyranny, a belief that the concentration of power in any one source or segment is dangerous.  Reaganomics is based on a fear of government–which is genuinely part of our heritage: That government is best which governs least.  But with Regan this became absolute: Jefferson with a vengeance.  President Bush can still recite the words, “I’m from the government, I’m here to help” as a self-evident joke (and verified by hurricane Katrina).

Anyone who has ever dealt with a bureaucracy can understand this side of Reaganomics.  But the other side is an unbounded confidence in the good will and ability to do good of the free market.  There is no attempt to balance the evils of big government vs. the evils of big business.  Reaganomic diehards would see no irony in the words, “I’m from the global oil company” or “I’m from your HMO, and I’m here to help.”

Regulations were designed primarily to protect the public against three dangers: reckless gambling with other people’s money in the financial markets, the loss of genuinely free markets through concentration of power in monopolies, and damage to the air, water and other natural resources we all depend on.  Reagan and his disciples saw environmental protection as a threat to the free markets.  They managed to portray those who wanted to conserve nontoxic air and water for their children as a crazy bunch of deranged tree hugging Luddites who wanted to stop progress.

In response to the energy crisis of the 1970s, President Carter initiated a series of energy-saving programs that actually worked.  By the 1980s and 90s the price of oil had plummeted–to the point that we got fat and lazy and started driving gas-guzzlers again.  But that’s another story.

One of Carter’s projects was to install solar panels on the White House.  One of Ronald Reagan’s first acts as president was to remove them.  They were a reminder of the need to conserve, of the fact that resources are finite–and as such they did not convey the kind of optimism he wanted to mark his presidency.

So, for nearly the past thirty years, regulations have been rolled back or swept under the rug–and it worked.  It produced a booming economic bubble.

But now the bubble has burst and some of the financial gambling turned out to be losing bets.  Now Congress has to provide a security net for the Wall Street high rollers.

The Free Market Is Working

I admit, I’m reluctant to call it a free market when one of the parties is a Cartel. By definition a Cartel is a small organization of suppliers whose reason for existence is to manipulate prices by controlling the supply. I am also reluctant to call the market free when government policies subsidize oil companies and the manufacture of SUV’s–not to mention the fact that government policies subsidize highways rather than mass transit.

But I will admit, no one is taking a gun, putting it to my head, and forcing me to buy gasoline, so there is some freedom for the law of supply and demand to operate.

And, it’s working. We as a nation are driving less. Highway deaths are down. Presumably we are also walking more, or engaging in conversation with our neighbors and families; so it all has to be good. The market has forced us to do some things we needed to do anyway. And, miracle of miracles–the price at the pump is going down (more here).

So why are the champions of free markets whining? Why are they calling on the government to do something? Why aren’t they saying, “Trust the invisible hand of the market–it will take us where we need to be”?

Beside expensive gasoline, there is another problem with our dependence on automobiles. Our infrastructure is crumbling. The past week saw the anniversary of the bridge collapse in Minnesota. It turns out that on average, our bridges are built to last 50 years–and they are about 43-47 years old. Yikes!

It is going to take about 180 billion dollars to fix all those bridges, according to CBS. One problem is that since we are starting to use less gasoline, there is less gas-tax money available for highway and bridge projects. So, someone is going to have to find a way to pay for new bridges.

A higher gas tax might give us the additional shock needed to further reduce our consumption. The long-term result would be that the price of oil would drop further and the tax would be absorbed. But few politicians have the political will to support any kind of new tax.

Or maybe we should follow the “free market” idea all the way. The nation’s bridges could be privatized and sold to the highest bidder, who could then recoup their investment in the form of tolls.

The alternative is to admit that the free market can’t do everything; there is a place for some public projects. But then, if we admit transportation is a public need, maybe we could rethink the kind of public transportation we subsidize.

Meanwhile, some Christians are calling on God to intervene. They are starting a pray at the pumps movement. I guess that’s not wrong, since we are taught to “cast all our cares on him.” Since most of us have to fill up the tank to get to work and earn our daily bread–we could even add an addendum to the Lord’s prayer,

“Give us this day our daily bread, and the gasoline wherewith to drive to the place of earning thereof.”

Or maybe we should pray for the discipline to shake off our dependence on cars.

(Related article in Time)

What an Addict Needs

Shift ItTwo years ago our president admitted that we are addicted to oil. Now that gasoline is headed to $5.00 per gallon many of us are suffering from the symptoms of this addiction.

What is the solution?

There are many saying we need to open up a new vein.

Newt Gingrich, explaining why we need to drill in environmentally sensitive areas gasped in horror–

“They want us to drive small cars . . .”

“They” referring to Jimmy Carter sympathizers who think the solution is to waste less and conserve more. (Why is it that conservatives are so frightened of the word “conserve”?)

Others say we can find a synthetic substitute; we can make oil out of soybeans or ethanol out of corn.

Maybe the problem is not that we are addicted to oil

We are addicted to cars.

I just returned from Europe, where the price of oil was the equivalent of 8 or 9 dollars per gallon–it’s probably over $10.00 now that oil is approaching $150.00 per barrel.

The Europeans love to drive as much as we do. But they also drive more efficient cars, and they balance their use of cars and public transportation. They will walk or take the bus to work Monday through Friday and save their cars for a weekend road trip or special outing.

A simple short-term solution is to use alternatives when you can.

Walk, ride a bike, car pool, avoid unnecessary trips, have fun at home. Use your car when you need to use it; when it’s time to trade, buy a more efficient car.

What does this have to do with faith?

People of faith should ask themselves two questions:

1. Am I being a good steward? I as an individual didn’t make the policy choices that got us where we are. But the daily choices I make now do affect other people. They also affect me. If I drive when I could walk or bike, I’m hurting my health.

2. Is my car an idol? Do I find my identity in my automobile? Is it a status symbol or a tool?

The Europeans love their cars, but they know there have to be alternatives. In London they are encouraging people to ride bikes. In Lithuania you can ride from Russian territory to Latvia on cycling paths that run through beautiful forests and along the coast.

My American friends noticed how slim the Europeans typically are. Part of the reason is because they walk so much.

Did Environmentalists Cause the World Food Crisis?

A couple years ago, when you could buy a bushel of corn for about $2.00, I saw adds for corn-burning stoves. It didn’t seem right, burning food to keep warm.

Now we are burning corn in our automobiles, in the form of ethanol. The ditto heads are blaming it on the environmentalists. Those crazy tree-huggers have convinced us to fill our SUV’s with ethanol rather than good 100% pure gasoline.

Now that the prices of grain crops have skyrocketed, it is easy to blame ethanol.

Responsible environmentalists have been saying some of the following things for a long time:

1) We need to walk, bike, car-pool, use public transportation more–and drive less.

2) We need to develop sustainable sources of energy from a variety of sources.

3) Converting corn to ethanol is terribly inefficient.

The best thing you can say about corn-derived ethanol is that maybe, in the big picture, it could help facilitate a transition to ethanol derived from algae or switch-grass.

But is ethanol really to blame for the high price of wheat? Consider these other factors:

1) Investors have to put their money somewhere. The real estate bubble has burst, the stock market is in the doldrums–so what’s left? The commodities markets. It’s not just corn, wheat, and soybeans–it’s copper, gold, steal and –um, did I forget to mention oil?

2) There have been rumors for a couple years now that oil companies have been buying up corn (here). It would be odd if they were they only investors who didn’t invest their profits in grain.

3) The subsidies for ethanol have been promoted by the president, not by Greenpeace or the Siera club (here).

4) The continuing instability in the Persian Gulf (i.e., Iraq and Iran) has been a major factor in the runaway inflation of oil and all other commodities prices.

My travels in Europe have convinced me that we love our cars and won’t give them up. Europeans are paying from $8.00 to $10.00 per gallon for gasoline, and they still love their cars. They drive more efficient cars, and avoid unnecessary trips–but they love to get out on the highway.

By the way, when I saw the gas sign above, I thought “that doesn’t look too bad.” Then I remembered, that’s the price per liter, so you have to multiply by about four; then it’s in pounds, so you have to double it. And that was when oil was only $100.00 per barrel. Ouch!