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Piffle Squared


Piffle squared? That's what we think of the national renewable energy program.

What is the relationship between Friday the 13th and Father's Day, both which occurred this weekend? Nothing much, although this coincidence provides me yet another opportunity to point out the wisdom of priorities we have on how we spend our money.

Some of you suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia, a fear of Friday the 13th. Buildings sometimes skip that floor and people tend to be a bit more careful that day. Almost a billion dollars is said to be lost to business on this day and the British Medical Journal reported that there is a significant increase in traffic accidents on that day.

You can probably blame the Bible for most of this nonsense because Eve offered that fateful apple to Adam, Christ was crucified and Noah's Great Flood began, all on Friday the 13th. Judas Iscariot was the 13th guest at the Last Supper. This will be the only Friday the 13th in 2008, but three are coming in 2009.

As Christianity is not popular in the Middle East or Asia, they don't bother worrying over this day over there. However, the number 4 is considered to be bad luck in Japan, so don't give any presents of four pieces. Why? Because the number 4 is pronounced shi, which is also the word for death. Superstitions are generally based on such things.

We also have Father's Day in the U.S., which is celebrated world wide throughout the calendar year. Our first Father's Day occurred almost exactly a century ago, on July 5 in 1908 in Fairmont, West Virginia to commemorate a coal mining tragedy.

President Woodrow Wilson was instrumental in making this day popular, but it was President Lyndon Johnson who made this a Sunday "holiday," officially recognized by President Richard Nixon in 1972 on the third Sunday in June.

With Mother's Day, these remembrances help keep business in business. Sons and daughters spend $30 billion each year to honor their parents. This is more than thirty times what the U.S. Department of Energy (our tax money) annually sets aside for renewable energy research. Hmm, maybe one year we should apply all the money spent on these two celebrations towards saving Mother Earth and prolonging the life of Father Time, perhaps today also known as Peak Oil.

Oh, yes, we treat Peak Oil / Global warming about the same as Friday the 13th: we're somewhat careful, but hope that nothing bad will happen. As a Nation where 90% of us believe that there will be some kind of afterlife, it is no wonder that we can blithely go on hoping for the best (see SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity in box on the right).

Yes, $30 billion is a piffle compared to the $45 trillion reported by the International Agency as needed to just deal with mitigating climate change. But, again, $30 billion is more than thirty times what we currently spend on renewable energy research. Thus, Piffle Squared!