Fossil fuels are the fuels of the past; solar is for the future

Friday, December 21, 2012
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Fossil fuels are the fuels of the past; solar is for the future

It was good to read your Dec. 16 solar power editorial.

Solar energy is planetary income; fossil fuels are Earth’s stored savings. While occasionally our family may need to dip into our savings, as rational adults we know long-term that we need to live on our income. The same for my business, or any viable business.

Our society needs to do the same.

Solar energy is free and unlimited; we only need the collectors (infrastructure). Fossil fuels are expensive and limited. We shouldn’t be wasting money (resources) on any new infrastructure (pipelines, wells, foreign military bases) which only benefits the short-term interests of greedy gas and oil corporations.

The time to act is now, individually and societally. The future of all our families depends on it.

Peter Looker


Our problems go beyond guns and mental illness

Politicians’ responses to the mass murder of elementary schoolchildren in Connecticut, in letters to the editor, on Facebook, blogs and even by columnists like Richard Cohen, whom I usually respect, are disappointing to say the least.

Before offering knee-jerk solutions to the problem of mass shootings in schools, why not first frame the questions and do the research?

Questions like, why are these shootings almost always carried out by white men and boys and generally in upscale white schools? Why do they rarely happen in poor, urban, minority school districts? The answer to that might lead to some real solutions. Focusing on the common denominator between killers might provide a better answer than focusing on security or the weapon that was used.

Furthermore, maybe we should think more about trickle-down violence. When use of the military and assassinations by drones are often our first choice for solving national and international problems, does it send a subtle message to our young people?

Finally, we also need to ask whether a culture that doesn’t teach that disappointment is as important and valuable to growth as is accomplishment, is setting people up to deal with disappointment by taking it out on others.

These are only thoughts and questions. I don’t know if they are true or part of the solution. But somehow I think the problem of violence in our nation, including mass killings in our schools, goes much deeper than guns and even mental illness. The solution may very well be in the values we teach and in those we fail to teach.

Dan Weaver


Say goodbye to the Second Amendment

I wish to start a movement called “Occupy Gun Stores.” Members of the movement will picket gun stores, which are dealers in death. I think it’s time to say “enough!” to the ownership of guns by citizens of this country.

This radical problem requires a very radical solution: the confiscation of all guns that aren’t related to the military and law enforcement, and the complete repeal of the Second Amendment. The movement should settle for nothing less than the complete repeal of the amendment and the verified destruction of all guns.

Gun “enthusiasts,” “hobbyists,” and “hunters” should be forced to find more wholesome hobbies. Period. Enough of the endless parsing of the meaning of the Second Amendment by the Supreme Court. Simply take a pair of scissors and cut it out of the Constitution.

This goal will not be accomplished overnight, of course, but the citizens of this country must make this sacrifice for the good of all. Otherwise there will be no end to these appalling atrocities.

Robert J. SanFilippo


Business a stakeholder, belongs in education

The Dec. 9 Viewpoint by L.D. Davidson about the negative consequences of business needs shaping public school curriculum is praiseworthy in its intent but historically wrong in every aspect.

Here are just some facts missing from the argument:

1) Business elites were the key social leaders supporting the radical idea of establishing public schools for everyone in the first half of the 19th century, in part to guarantee a supply of more educated workers;

2) Federal law beginning in 1917 to promote vocational education was a response to major social changes and pressure from the National Association of Manufacturers to help train workers for the industrial power America had become.

3) The need to compete more effectively in the global marketplace motivated the Business Roundtable to advocate for and promote the curriculum standards movement in the late 1980s, which ultimately led to the common core curriculum in place throughout the United States today.

4) Business organizations play a significant role in the multiple contemporary coalitions that support efforts to provide an education that results in career readiness and more effective teaching in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

To claim that business leadership has been indifferent to educational developments that support their interests is to miss the obvious point that schools exist for a variety of reasons, including a responsibility to help sustain the economic system in which those schools are located.

School reform is an incremental process. Despite the above, have we stopped the teaching of history and civics so students can know the world and understand the obligations of citizenship? Have we abandoned the language and literature courses that promote creative expression and an imaginative engagement with people in different times and places? Have the problem-solving capacities necessary in math and science been deemed unimportant? The answer is “no” to all of these questions, and Davidson’s desire that these objectives remain central in the curriculum is laudable.

But curriculum is meant to evolve, and when it doesn’t, the results are high dropout rates, inferior achievement and young people without the knowledge, skills and character to succeed in the technological society we and everyone else has become.

The Tech Valley Connection for Education and Jobs that Davidson finds objectionable is part of the continuing historical struggle to make schools relevant, and the Center for Economic Growth’s leadership of this initiative is not to be feared, but watched with hope that it succeeds and benefits the students fortunate enough to participate in this experiment.

To say that “we need lawyers, teachers and social workers in far greater numbers than we need narrowly educated [early 21st century] tech workers . . .” is to be oblivious to the fact that many recent law graduates are unemployed and that teachers and social workers are being retrenched everywhere.

High-quality technology education that is experiential, problem-oriented, analytical and collaborative, when connected to the values and goals of traditional general education, benefits everyone. We call this kind of evolution progress.

Richard Ognibene


The writer is a retired Siena College professor and dean.

How does do-nothing Farley get re-elected?

The Dec. 15 editorial concerning Sen. Hugh Farley is "right on."

The senator's ineptitude is exceeded only by his arrogance. Farley has been so ineffectual in representing Schenectady's interests that the city schools are seriously underfunded by the state. As a result, the city's taxpayers are overburdened to support its schools.

Sen. Farley refuses to acknowledge his failings; instead he tries to persuade the Schenectady residents that they are really well off compared to some rural districts. He misses the main point — that there is an appalling lack of fairness in the distribution of school funds.

As stated in the editorial, the Legislature has ignored the 2007 court ruling that established a formula for funding equity. Obviously, Sen. Farley doesn't think this is important.

What a shame that the voters of our state Senate district continue to elect a man who represents us so poorly!

Eugene Rowland


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December 21, 2012
7:09 a.m.
wmarincic says...

Robert J. SanFilippo I think we should stop free speech, I think free speech allows people like The Westboro Baptist Church and The Occupy people too much power and it disrupts too many people. I also think while we are at it we should get rid of that other pesky problem in the constitution, the right to freely assemble, that for sure will get rid of the WBC and Occupy people that I dislike so much. Finally we should end seperation of church and state, we should let the government make a religion of peace, happiness and harmony where we can all come together and sing Kumbaya......

December 21, 2012
1:05 p.m.
FrankLowe says...

Dan Weaver, you said,
"Finally, we also need to ask whether a culture that doesn’t teach that disappointment is as important and valuable to growth as is accomplishment, is setting people up to deal with disappointment by taking it out on others"
Thanks for putting articulate words to what I've been trying to say for years. We've had it so good for so long here that we've lost sight of what it's like to strive, fail, and try again. Our country was built by those who tried, failed, tried again, failed, yet kept going. Abraham Lincoln, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin. just to name a few, all failed many times before they succeeded. Kids are taught today that failure is not an option. That's fine, as long as they're also taught that there will will be failures, and disappointment along the way as part of a normal life.

December 21, 2012
1:57 p.m.
FrankLowe says...

Robert J. SanFilippo,
You conveniently left out some facts about mass murders. The worst mass murders throughout history have been committed exclusively by governments against unarmed citizens.
You and your views are in very good company. Your list of heroes probably includes Mao Tse Tung, (tens of millions murdered), PolPot, (millions murdered), Hitler, (millions murdered),Idi Amin, (tens of thousands murdered), Joseph Stalin (hundreds of thousands murdered),Papa Doc & Baby Doc Duvalier, (only tens of thousands murdered here, they were such nice men)and on and on and on right up to today with Bashar All Assad in Syria massacring his own defenseless people. These murderous thugs and the rest throughout history mirror your opinion on guns, I wonder where you got your ideas.
Since you advocate a police state where only the "Authorities" have weapons, and since your vile ideas are a foolish pipe dream here, why don't you take up residence in one of these police states you so desire, perhaps Mexico, where private citizens can't own guns, certainly no gun violence there, if you don't count the 30,000 murders, or maybe North Korea, where Kim Jung Un (aka The Jolly Little Pumpkin Boy), would welcome another defenseless subject who shares his views. And of course there's always Africa, where right up to this minute, no one really know how many unarmed innocents are being murdered by armed government thugs as we speak.

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