Olympic musings

As a person with a last name that begins with the letter “V,” I’ve always felt a genuine and lifelong simpatico for the end of the alphabet. “T” is cool, but really, my affection is richest for the “U” through “Z” section of our letters. Which is why I’ve enjoyed the Olympics on a deep, fundamental level. Because, man, those Chinese really get it on with the Xs and Zs. And they ain’t too shabby with the Qs, either. On the other hand, all those bonus points get flushed down the toilet because of the merciless way the Chinese have run roughshod on Tibet. China’s wretchedly heavy-handed treatment of the world’s highest country for the last 49 years will be a gigantic stain on Chinese karma for at least the duration of the current kalpa (which the Buddha defined thus—“Imagine a giant mountain, 80,000 feet high. Every 100 years, take a small cloth and wipe the mountain once. The mountain will be gone before the end of the kalpa.”)

In watching the Olympics, I’ve been reminded, on a nightly basis, that to watch network television these days, especially sporting events, without the aid of a Tivo/DVR unit is to subject oneself to relentless tsunamis of advertising, delivered in doses of six to 10 units at a time. To sit there and actually watch, listen, and consume these messages, a large number of which are delivered by a guy in a crawdad outfit, is to figuratively open the top of your head and dump a load of coffee grounds into it. The DVR is now in the same league as broadband internet—essential. And, like broadband, once you get it, there’s no going back.


A notable article recently dealt with the interest shown by companies that want to build more and larger solar power farms, facilities that would be able to supply electricity to thousands of homes. There’s a reference to a 300-acre solar installation that will be able to fire up 64 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 14,000 homes in Vegas. The Bureau of Land Management reports that it’s received applications for 125 new solar projects on 1 million acres of its land. It’s encouraging to see that an ever-increasing number of businesses are finally ready to pony up and give it a shot.

Then, there’s this. “The Investment Tax Credit, which covers up to 30 percent of a CSP [Concentrating Solar Power] facility’s costs, will expire at year’s end unless renewed by Congress. But bills to renew the ITC have been blocked eight times this year by Senate Republicans.”

“What we’re seeing with all these companies lining up for solar thermal is hugely promising, but without the ITC, all these solar thermal plants will be put on hold,” said Monique Harris, spokeswoman for the Solar Electric Industries Association.