Rethinking the Keystone


“Are we going to be bullied or will we smack pig bottoms, so to speak?”

In architecture, the keystone is that wedge-shaped piece of an arch that locks the two curving sides together. I wonder if someone in the TransCanada Corporation was thinking about that when the Keystone Pipeline was named. Was he or she trying to evoke a criticial element of construction–the pipeline–that would bind our two countries together forever? If so, the keystone is a very ancient design, and one wonders if we should be thinking of something new.

The Keystone XL controversy will be inflamed again by speculation over the $5 gas prices being predicted due to hostilities between Israel and Iran. The United States is currently a net exporter of oil, so it’s not as though scarcity is driving the price upward. The rise is a combination of two things, the possibility of scarcity on the one hand and, on the other, speculative investment in oil at current prices in anticipation of scarcity. Fear and greed doing their number again.

Over and over again we are being shown the danger of our involvement in the Middle East, the very thing, according to historian Will Durant, that caused the collapse of the Roman Empire. The advocates of the construction of the Keyxtone XL Pipeline will claim that it will spare us oil price victimization by giving us unlimited access to oil from the tar sands in Alberta, Canada. After all, we have always felt an affinity with Canadians, who are probably more like Americans than any other people on earth. And we have common interests, right? Well, our oil and gas corporations certainly do.

This is a very complicated subject, and getting to the bottom of it is way beyond the resources of a regular old person like me. However, there are things about this deal that make me uneasy in ways journalists aren’t addressing. For one thing, I didn’t realize that TransCanada already has about 200,000 miles of pipeline in the United States. Well, that’s OK. We’re good friends, right? Read Full Post »

It’s Tumbleweed Time


“I learned that the tumbleweed is worse than a nuisance.”

The winds are howling, dust is flying, tumbleweeds are rolling, and hair is standing on end with static electricity. It’s spring in New Mexico.

Living “out” of Santa Fe a bit in a new development, I see a lot of the tumbleweeds, and this morning they were flying across open ground like wild children in a playground. I haven’t been here a year yet but have already noticed that they seem to proliferate wherever the ground has been disturbed by new roads or construction. After a heavy rain last summer, I pulled up the new ones wherever they sprouted around my property, and as fall winds rolled in big old dead ones, I put them into plastic  bags, stomped on the bags to make room for more, and put them into the garbage bin.

Growing up in Texas, I had always assumed that tumbleweeds were native to the West, but just recently I had heard that they arrived here from Russia, envisioned as cattlefeed. Since they seemed to be rolling all over the place today to attract attention, I decided to do some research. Read Full Post »

So What Do the Girls Say?


“The desire to protect wealth beyond a lifetime led to the concept of marriage.”


This is the instant reaction to the discovery that 53 percent of the children born to women under 30 are illegitimate.

The New York Times reported the finding on February 18, and the journalists who wrote the article did interview some young mothers in Lorain, Ohio, to find out why they didn’t want to marry. Lying west of Cleveland, Lorain is a town that has lost a huge number of blue-collar jobs in recent years and where the number of single mothers is rising rapidly. Their explanations included the following:

  • They didn’t think enough of the father to marry him.
  • The father was reluctant to marry them.
  • The marriage probably wouldn’t last anyway.
  • Just living together was fine.
  • If they married, they might lose government benefits like food stamps and child care.
  • They were making enough money to provide for a child themselves.

The article went on to say that, in these economic times, men are worth less than they used to be. Of course that statement pertains to the men most disadvantaged by the recession, but it brings up a question: How did the institution of marriage develop anyway? Read Full Post »

I Just Hate This!


“I think that the brutal truth of the feminine situation is that

we’re backsliding as the result of a degree of disillusionment.”

No sooner had I posted my thoughts on the Catholic Church’s effort to deny access to contraception among Catholic women in the United States than other news challenged a basic premise.

That premise was that, since many Catholic women of independent judgment and means are reportedly using contraception anyway, many more would do so if they had ready access. However, two days after I posted my opinion, a Washington research group, Child Trends, reported that more than half of births to all American women under 30 occur outside marriage. Illegitimacy is the new normal, except among college-educated women, 93% of whom are married when they give birth.

Clearly, marriage is on the decline, but child-bearing is increasing in its absence. As an elder, I am dumbfounded by these statistics. What they tell me is that some form of arrested development is manifesting in the feminine psyche in the United States. Read Full Post »