Coal and air
I got to thinking the other day. That’s what you do when you live on the prairies, you get to thinking. I’m not sure what the difference between just thinking and getting to thinking might be, but whatever it is, that’s what you do when you live on the prairies. Anyway I got to thinking the other day about railroads and coal the other day.
It’s like this. There are railroad tracks a couple of miles north of Chez Harter. Half a dozen times a day a big long train rolls on by, carrying coal from Wyoming to the industrial Middle West, states like Illinois and Indiana and Ohio. As I understand it, the people in those parts burn that coal and convert it into electrons that swish back and forth. I believe that they call those swishing electrons alternating current. This whole idea of swishing electrons doesn’t sound too good to me – I’ve heard of upside down quarks but gay electrons is pushing it. Still, it’s none of my business what the folks in states like Illinois and Indiana and Ohio do with their electrons. Live and let live I always say – particularly when it comes to letting me live. I’ve always been particular about that part.
Anyway (there was a special on anyways at K-mart – I bought up a bunch of them and figure I have to use them up before they go bad) I got to thinking about all those railroad cars carrying all that coal east from Wyoming to states like Illinois and Indiana and Ohio. What are those all those railroad cars carrying from states like Illinois and Indiana and Ohio to Wyoming. As near as I could make out, it seemed like they were going back empty. That didn’t seem right to me and I got to wondering about it.
Eventually it occurred to me that those cars weren’t going back empty, they were full of air. That seemed mighty mysterious to me. You see, I’ve been to Wyoming. I’ve been to eastern Wyoming and western Wyoming and southern Wyoming an northern Wyoming and all around and about it Wyoming, and one thing I’ve noticed is that they have lots of air in Wyoming, much of it nice clean air. So it didn’t make a lot of sense to me that folks would ship air to Wyoming.
Anyway (that anyway had a couple of brown spots so I had to use it up right away – I think it will be okay though) I got to thinking about why they might to ship air to Wyoming and I think I got it figured it out. It’s like this: when they dug up all that coal they made big holes in the ground. The EPA says you got to fill those holes up with something and that’s what all that air is for, to fill up all those holes they made in the ground.
Then I got to thinking a bit more about air. Now in states like Illinois and Indiana and Ohio they burn all that coal and the air gets all dirty, with lots of particular matter and carbon dioxide and I don’t know what all. I don’t quite understand that; I would have thought that folks would like nice clean air, but apparently the folks in states like Illinois and Indiana and Ohio like dirty air because they sure do burn a lot of coal. So that cleared up one point for me; if the folks in states like Illinois and Indiana and Ohio like their air dirty then if stands to reason that they would want to ship out all that clean air to keep it from messing up all that dirty air.
It took me a while to figure it all out, but I think I’ve got the lay of things now. You see, it all comes down to money. The thing is that folks with money just naturally like dirty air. Where ever you see dirty air you see a lot of people and where ever you see clean air you don’t see many people. Money is sort of like dirty air; as a general rule money goes where the people are. So in states like Illinois and Indiana and Ohio they have lots of people and lots of money and dirty air. But in Wyoming they don’t have many people so they don’t have much money and their air is clean. I don’t quite understand why all of that should be, but then I live in South Dakota, and here there aren’t many people and they don’t have much money, and the air is clean, so naturally I wouldn’t undestand why people in states like Illinois and Indiana and Ohio would like all that dirty air.
Anyway, that’s what I was thinking about coal and air.
I wrote what!?
In the June Letter column one of my correspondents mentioned reading a review I had done of Darwin’s Black Box by Michael J. Behe. I only vaguely remembered writing something about it at some time in the past. Being curious as to what I might have written, I went back and read my review. I was surprised; it’s really quite good, but I don’t remember writing it at all. I guess it must be time to reread “Flowers for Algernon”.
I will commend to my readers a parody of creationist fantasies written by Richard Forrest. They beggar description, abounding with dark conspiracies and evils within evil. It may be found at http://plesiosaur.com/scribblings/index.php. I particularly commend chapter 8 in which Huxley is revealed as Jack the Ripper, Archaeopteryx is revealed as a forgery by Haeckel, and Hitler’s grandfather is Haeckel’s assistant. And what of Darwin? Why, having begun his adulthood as a weak and worthless young man, and given over to all manner of vices, Darwin has risen (or sunk) to become a dark eminence. The title page begins in the palmiest style. I quote:
There is much I wanted to add this month but it was not to be. Between trips
to DesMoines, Iowa and Grand Junction, Colorado, to say nothing of the Ghost
Parade, I slipped behind yet once again. Never fear friends, next month it
will all be better.
This page was last updated July 5, 2007.