The Preamble; Fix it or Nix It?

Transportation Without Petroleum or Biofuels

copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.

At present, oil saturates the Gulf Stream.  An official six-month cessation of permits for new drilling did not actually affect the industry or government decisions.  Despite Moratorium, Drilling Projects Move Ahead.  To explain such an authorization and waiver, the Department of the Interior and the Minerals Management Services Division which regulates drilling, pointed to public statements by Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar.  He did not intend to forbid all first cuts in the Earth’s crust.  Absolutely not.  The Federal Government approved wells off the coast of Louisiana in June. Regardless of the day, or realities that are anathema to our citizenry, little has truly changed.  Today, just as in yesteryear, we, the people of the United States of America, in order to form a more perfect Union, polish policies to appear as though our civilization would wish to protect and defend all beings, equally.  

In an earlier era, and now, the electorate embraces practices that establish justice, while we unreasonably raze the planet.  As a devoted citizenry, we insure domestic tranquility through appeasement. Furthermore, for the sake of homeland harmony, we adopt practices that encourage petroleum production, excessive oil and coal profits, whilst we also rob crops of their inherent dignity.  We, the countrymen, commit to the promise that we will provide for the common defense. In accordance with the demands of the public, policymakers further endorse perilous practices.  

These pursuits are realized in the form of perpetual war.  Blood for oil, minerals, or any resource that makes more money for the few, is what we, believe brings security to the native soil.   Our energy plans, or was it the profound Preamble to the United States Constitution, afforded us world prominence.  Globally, America is seen as powerful, so much so other countries chose to emulate us.  

Our governance and Preamble now belong to many a proud nation.  Collectively, in this country and the next, people clamor, “We the people commit to fossil fuels and biomass consumption.”

Over the years, there have been many opportunities to consider our constitution, our commitment to country, and our love of power.  Before this country was born, we could have seized on the chance to harness energy in a way that did not cause harm.  In 1766, British Scientist Henry Cavendish identified the energetic element, hydrogen.  By 1838, Swiss Chemist Christian Friedrich Schoenbein stumbled upon the “fuel cell.”  Only seven years later, Sir William Grove, an English Scientist and Judge, demonstrated the practicality of the discovery.  Mister Grove created a “gas battery.”  For this feat, he acquired the title “Father of the Fuel Cell.”

Most recall the Franklin kite experiment, which, while not the first appearance of an electrical consciousness certainly was one that gave us a jolt.  That event occurred in 1752.  Then, people began to realize that electricity, not produced from coal or dependent on fossil fuels, could make a meaningful difference in the society.  Initially, there were struggles.  Some people were afraid of an incomprehensible current.  A few did not wish to succumb to a change in lifestyle.  Convenience at a nominal cost convinced the citizenry to change their conventional ways, and of course, modify the meaning of the Constitution.

By 1769, with the advent of the first automobile, people began to ponder inexpensive means for mobility.  The invention of engines and the Industrial Revolution completed the conversion. Steamships and steam-powered railroads became the foremost forms of transportation.  These vessels used coal to fuel their boilers. Still, it was not until the 1880s that “coal was first used to generate electricity for homes and factories.”  Since then, there seemed no desire to turn back.  Way back when, our constitution, or at least the Preamble as practiced today, was set in stone.  

Give it to us cheap and dirty is the American credo.  We guzzle gas, burn through barrels of oil, and belch out endorsements for big businesses that earn billions on our backs.  Americans strip the countryside in search of more and more coal.  We savage the seas and shores whilst we annihilate all the creatures dependent on these.  Indeed, we ignore that we too are reliant on the chain of life to survive.  We disregard what science teaches us; each species and specimen plays a part in the planet’s endurance.  Instead, we loudly state, “We the people commit to cheap fossil fuels and biomass consumption that we have become accustomed to.”  Damn the damage to the planet, and ultimately to humans and all other populations.  We travel on, full speed ahead!

As the Gulf Bay puncture wound bleeds, present and former Governors, Jurists, and citizens clamor, Drill Baby Drill!  In June 2020, be it in Alaska, in the Gulf, anywhere, almost anywhere, regardless of known risks, we are ready!  We want our fix.  Fossil fuels and biomass flow through our blood.  Petroleum, or the reliance on this and other hazardous forms of energy, run our boats, cars, trains, planes, and our lives.  Even if a pipe, mineshaft, or the food chain are broken, the people say, Let it be!”

“Fix It or Nix It” defines the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity campaign. This statement is not an endorsement for renewable energy policies. Nor does it address the altered Preamble, No. This group does advocate for further advancements in fossil fuel usage.“ACCCE.cannot support the Kerry-Lieberman draft bill.”  This all-“powerful” organization considers these two Senators dissenters, or their proposed legislation a threat to the American way.  Reflective of past policies and practices, those who rebel are often forced into submission.  Popular opinion can suppress opposition.

Peers, polls, any pressure, can sway the people.  Promotional pieces are abundantly persuasive.  Ample advertisements feed the public and influence actions. Perhaps this explains why millions of people are easily fooled, or more likely just want to believe as we all do, that what we do now is wise.  

Factoids from associations such as the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity offer us food for thought.  Statements that support what we yearn for speak to our heart, head, and soul. These satisfy the American appetite for energy and satiate the anthem.  “We the people commit to inexpensive energy and welcome any reassurance that all is well, just as it is.”  

  • Coal costs less than any other major fossil fuel source.
  • According to an electric power industry journal, 23 of the 25 power plants in the U.S. that have the lowest operating costs (and therefore provide power to their consumers at the lowest prices) are powered by coal.
  • Thanks, in part, to $90 billion invested in new technologies, the environmental footprint of coal-based electricity generation has been significantly reduced.
  • Since 1970, the use of coal to generate electricity in the U.S. has nearly tripled in response to growing electricity demand.
  • Using coal to generate electricity is less than a 1/3 of the cost of other fuels.

Corporations that profit from the use of coal, petroleum, and biomass fuels flood the airwaves with anti alternative and renewable energy oratory.  Lobbyists and Legislators who like the status quo are also hard at work.

Commentaries, commercials, Congressional concessions, and common clichés do not negate the reality that whenever we invest in naturally replenished resources, environmentally friendly green energy, we ultimately provide jobs, as well as preserve the planet.  Research abounds.  studies confirm.  Pew Charitable Trusts asserts Clean Energy Economy Generates Significant Job Growth.

Nonetheless, the well-established Preamble persists.  We the people commit to fossil fuels and biomass consumption.”  Nations that did not accept our programs, sooner or later, were “willingly” brought into the fold. Money and might can move mountains, petroleum fields, and large quantities of botanical mass. Indeed, the production and use of any fossil fuel is encouraged.  Promised earnings offer a profound argument to dissenters.  

Some followers of the more modern Preamble, an altered petroleum policy, were brought onboard reluctantly. The bid for biofuels proved profitable.  Influential Advisors and Advertisers offered a rationalization. Plants can be grown.  Vegetation is renewable.  This thought removed a sense of guilt.  The public purchased the argument.  For most ethanol is envisioned as euphoria.

Some were less relieved by this opportune “reality.”  However, in time, they too do as the devotees do.  They drive hither and yon.  Petroleum and plants fill their gas tanks.  These persons call themselves environmentalists.  Yet, they know that they too, myself among them, consume gargantuan quantities of fossil fuels and biomass energy. To participate in present day life, we, the people, must pump petro and pledge allegiance to the American way, or else . . . For the sake of convenience, expediency, pragmatism and the Preamble, in a Twenty-First century culture, even conservationists surrender.  

Perchance, as gas and oil fill the Gulf Stream, and travel North, South, East and West, as microbes, mammals, and all other creatures in its path perish, we, the people, will think it is time to reflect.  Let us ponder our proud past.  Perhaps, through the plumes, we will unearth what the petroleum, coal, and biofuels Preamble has hidden, the history of hydrogen and how we abandoned this truly renewable and reliable source of energy.  

1920s German engineer, Rudolf Erren, converted the internal combustion engines of trucks, buses, and submarines to use hydrogen or hydrogen mixtures. British scientist and Marxist writer, J.B.S. Haldane, introduced the concept of renewable hydrogen in his paper Science and the Future by proposing that “there will be great power stations where during windy weather the surplus power will be used for the electrolytic decomposition of water into oxygen and hydrogen.”

1937 After ten successful trans-Atlantic flights from Germany to the United States, the Hindenburg, a dirigible inflated with hydrogen gas, crashed upon landing in Lake- wood, New Jersey. The mystery of the crash was solved in 1997. A study concluded that the explosion was not due to the hydrogen gas, but rather to a weather-related static electric discharge which ignited the airships’ silver-colored, canvas exterior covering…

1958 The United States formed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NASA’s space program currently uses the most liquid hydrogen worldwide, primarily for rocket propulsion and as a fuel for fuel cells.

It would seem that we, the people, could have endowed and empowered the energy that was first recognized before our forefathers penned what was the United States Constitution.  We might realize that great strides have been made in endlessly renewable hydrogen energy.  However, we, the people, never stopped to consider what we accepted as our manifest destiny.   What we defined as divine intervention or intervention by design was our chosen well-deserved deliverance.  As independent Americans, free spirits, mavericks, we would not be bound by physical boundaries.  Petroleum, coal, and biofuels, we decided, would set us free.  We would drive as if we were driven, deliberately.  

We did. Whilst barrels of oil flood from the ocean floor, we still do.  Nary a person proclaims; it is time to stop the madness, completely.  Hardly an American truly thinks he or she will reinstate the Preamble in its original form.  No, the “better life” has been fashioned. Yet, in Louisiana and elsewhere in the South there is reason to question what had been our truth. “We the people commit to fossil fuels and biomass consumption.”

Possibly, now we will acknowledge belatedly, the better question would have been why did we rely on reports released by the International Oil Spill Conference.,  This organization offers studies sponsored by those who are the worst offenders, who are most dependent on petroleum, and who gain greater power and prowess when oil flows. After the fact, will we abandon the Advisors who brought us our present burdens, our blunders, and our oddly converted Preamble?

Will humans resume operations and disregard reality?  Will we proceed on a false premise that biomass is the better source for fuel? Will we look beyond the boundaries of our desires or will humans, not BP, Exxon, the company of your choice, nay the Governments of, the United States, Britain, Nigeria, or . . . rape the land, place food in the mouths of machines rather than man?  Might we finally admit, that we need not concede to consumption, crave petroleum products, and biofuels?  Will we choose to see that people, and the planet, will not survive if we rely on what has been our folly, our friend, and our funeral march, our converted constitution, and a corrupted Preamble?   Only we can decide.  Fix it or Nix it?  Perhaps, we must do both.

Written with thanks to By Larry Hartweg Zero Energy Design® for a visual presentation that inspires and investigates, Transportation Without Petroleum or Biofuels

15 Minutes

Watch CBS News Videos Online

copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.

Today, Americans are engrossed in earthquake coverage.  The tremor in Haiti bought unimaginable death and destruction just south of our borders.  Events related to the recovery and rescues emerge as banner headlines.  Haitians Seek Solace Amid the Ruins. For a week now, the struggle to survive, revive the injured, and retrieve the bodies strewn on the streets of Port-au-Prince was also the central theme of most every broadcast.  In the midst of the misery, many Americans, felt desperate for a reprieve from the devastation that emotionally drained them. Millions took time to escape in a welcome distraction.  Sassy, former Governor and Vice Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin Made Her Debut appearance on Fox.  Tomorrow another reality will replace these stories, just as each superseded the hoopla over Harry Reid’s reference to race.  Metaphorically, the tales provide persons, policies, and, or practices fifteen minutes of fame.  In actuality, these  fade from our mind quickly.  

One narrative can and will replace another instantaneously.  Americans need only an inspiration, a titillation, a temptation, or a tease to turn their thoughts from one subject to another.  Over the next months and years, a myriad of yarns will receive quick and ample consideration.  Populist positions, presented with flare could captivate the country again and then again.

A prominent person fallen from grace might be the nation’s next amusement.  A young boy, or girl, might seem to be in imminent danger.  Another sexy blonde accompanied by her husband could crash the White House gates.  People want “the dirt,” that is, as long as it is not toxic waste, or pollution news.

Ability moves Americans.  We are attracted to appealing personalities, presentations, and performances.  Authority impresses us. We will tune in if, perchance, the President of United States makes an appearance.  The prospect of a sensational speech draws international attention.   This truth is not lost on regular people, politicians, or the President.  Any or each of these individuals might use this “reality” to their advantage.

Mister Obama might, once again, plan to further his own fifteen minutes of renown.  On an issue as important as environmental imbalance, the nation’s Chief Executive did just that.   Mister Obama scheduled “about nine hours” to actively engage in climate change policy negotiations..  This might be considered a colossal amount of time.  After all, President Obama is, as many Americans are, busy.  

Whilst true; people have much to do, perchance, the Chief Executive and citizens have become thrill seekers.  In this country countless wish to be the provocateur.  Others only crave the provocative.  Scientists who study climate change would want to be amongst those who roust the people. Their research, while they believe it to be racy, for most is nothing but mundane.

The veracity is for most environmental explorations are as reality, mundane.  On Monday, it is snowy. Tuesday brings rain.   Wednesday will be sunny.  “Wait five minutes and the weather will change.”  What appears outside the window is merely a matter of natural conditions.  Excitement lies elsewhere. Enter animated images that move quickly across the screen.  Exit purported facts and figures.  Data does not deliver delightful moments.  Decoration, declarations, drama, any distraction, these are the diversions the Western Press provides, and the people demand.  

Possibly, that is why most of us missed previous reports.  In September 1998, headlines heralded, what we experience in modern times is the Fastest mass extinction in Earth history.  While fascinating, this discovery was nowhere near as delicious as Bill Clinton’s testimony about his relationship with a young female assistant.  That little tidbit could easily occupy more than the measured fifteen minutes.

Months earlier, the esteemed Washington Post, also examined the issue.  Mass Extinction Underway, Majority of Biologists Say.   However, for most humans, that morsel was nothing in contrast to the news that a Conservative Group Buys Reagan Ranch.

That the research reveals humans may be the reason for this horrific destruction is nothing since our day of doom cannot be foreseen in the visible future.  The 680-acre Reagan spread being bought by Young America’s Foundation, a 29-year-old group that teaches patriotism, limited government, and other values espoused by the former President, surely that will have an affect on all of society.

Of course, there was the article published late last August; Study Finds Big Storms on a 1,000-Year Rise.  Certainly, this is troublesome for those who  understand How Storms Can Trigger Earthquakes,   Unfortunately, few appreciate what they likely did not read, let alone realize.  No time to waste on climate change, report declares.

Americans are preoccupied with the abrupt, instant, urgent, today and perchance tomorrow, the earthquake in Haiti.   What traditionally garners our attention is massive, murderous, moments that miss those of us in the States by mere miles.  In times such as these, Americans come out en masse.  We donate millions of dollars to a cause.  We cry for what has clearly been a crisis for years.  

Yet, even as we attend to the plight inflicted upon those in Port-au-Prince, and throughout the Haitian terrain, we do not address the notion that man and womankind have an affect on what for eons ago was the natural balance.  In the midst of the mad rush to assist those who were injured during the seismic activity, most overlook what the majority of scientists thought obvious.  Research reveals Point to ‘Carbon Starvation’ as a Cause for Tree Mortality.

It might be said that Americans were consumed with the current circumstances.  There was no time, not even fifteen minutes to contemplate columns that appeared alongside news of the trembler.  The truth might be that dry statistics do not sway people.  

Prowess. Performance. Presence.  Power.  Pretty.  Americans are captivated by what they think cool.  Even corny tales can tempt people, or convince them of what is true.  Persons who are believed to be capable can also be a source of stimulation.  However, nothing compares to the person who falls from grace.  In a world full of individuals who watch television, endlessly, the trivial has replaced principled, profound, practical, and all that is pertinent.   A planet in peril, for citizens who pine for sizzle, is but a distant possibility.  Indeed, most muse; “In my lifetime, I have seen meteorological conditions change.”  The climate offers no warning.  The situation is not critical.

Some in the Press choose to substantiate that sentiment.  Man-made CO2 has minimal effect on climate change, claim global-warming skeptics. Distraction, and the attempt to diminish the deluge of discoveries, is far more electrifying than what appears in scientific archives; Humans Linked to Climate Change.  NASA Study Links Earth Impacts to Human-Caused Climate Change   Perhaps, President Obama said it best long ago, when he was amongst the masses  In 2006, the Senator penned . . ..

It’s hard to deny that all the sound and fury, magnified through television and the internet, coarsens the political culture. It makes tempers flare, helps breed distrust. And whether we politicians like to admit it or not, the constant vitriol can wear on the spirit.

The spin works precisely because the media itself is hospitable to spin. Every reporter in Washington is working under pressure imposed by editors and producers, who in turn are answering to publishers or network executives, who in turn are pouring over last week’s ratings or last year’s circulation figures and trying to survive the growing preference for PlayStation and reality TV. The spin, the amplification of conflict, the indiscriminate search for scandal and miscues – the cumulative impact of all this is to erode any agreed-upon standards for judging the truth.

Sadly, Mister Obama too can get caught up in the cult of culture of personalities, pandemics, Party politics, and a performance.  Given the chance to change the climate in a curative manner, an opportunity to transform policies, and amend practices that harm Mother Earth, Mister Obama faltered.   He fell into the habit that is all-too American.  Follow the favored fifteen minutes of fame rather than do the work necessary to understand, and bring about authentic change.

It seems that Mister Obama did, as citizens do; he chose the path of least resistance.  President Obama  performed in a manner that maintains his celebrity status.  Originally, the Chief Executive expected his travel to Oslo to be ceremonial.   Initially, he wondered whether he would even go to the Summit.  Indeed, it was not until late in November 2009, the White House announced that Mister Obama, who previously had not committed to an appearance at the summit, decided he would deliver a speech.

Extensive pressure from other world leaders and environmental advocates influenced America’s Chief Executive’s decision.  Most thought it vital that Mister Obama make the trip as a statement of American dedication to the climate change discussions. Heads of State from 190 nations, were expected to talk, and produce a definitive, albeit incomplete political declaration.  Surely, fame would be fleeting, if the possibility existed at all at the end of the twelve-day meeting.  A short, and less than fully constructive, Summit could not hope to strike a chord with viewers of reality television.

Pass the cookies and milk.  American Idol is on the telly.  In a country once proud to be the most educated, people perceive airtime is the ultimate achievement.  If an individual has yet to appear on the screen, they gaze longingly at those who have.  People dream of the day when fame is theirs.

Countless wish to be a star.  Be it Barack Obama who flies in solely for the show of an accord on climate change, only to offer none.  or the Golden Globe winners gone wild.  Fifteen minutes of fame is not nearly enough.    Vast numbers of individuals hope to create the video that will go viral, or a tweet that will be picked up by the press.  Perhaps, a facebook message will move the media to cover me, or as meteorological , biological, and experts in Climate Change say, our shared predicament  

The statement the planet is in peril evokes but a small amount of excitement if that.  Indeed, those who see no visible sign of climate change say where is the evidence.  One day it is cold.  The next morning the weather report says it will be warm.  Tales that tell of a dramatic rise and fall of the temperature seem unreal to those who think all is well.  It is as it always was, millions cry, at least in my world.  For billions of beings, life is dull and dreary, that is until fifteen minutes of fame comes their way.  With climate change, a constant, legendary recognition could arrive sooner than later.

Citizens could find themselves caught in a historic blizzard.  However, for the man in the Oval Office, just as for average American Jane’s and Joes, is a not big enough to make an impression on men, women, the President, Premiers,  who prefer to deny the abundance of documentation or answers to the question, does man, or do.Large Dams Alter Extreme Weather Patterns?

As an attractive television meteorologist, a glorious good-looking girl [or gent] with a pointer demonstrates. We watch the visionaries who prance and dance on the screen.  Surely, a physically appealing person can predict the future with flare and finesse.  Scientists may know much, but do not entertain, titillate, or show us what we want, reality in the form of fun, folly, and fulfillment.  Perhaps, the planet in peril will furnish what environmental experts cannot.

Reference Reality . .

Fear Factor; The Telephone Rings in the White House?

US Democrats – Walter Mondale 1984 Video 10

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

A telephone fills the screen.  The deep blood red hue warns us war is eminent.  Little light shines on the barely visible instrument.  The tone is ominous and foretells the future.  The audience is aware there is trouble in the world.  Slowly, the table turns.  A yellow bulb in the center of this contrivance communicates doom. It  glows and pulsates.  We concentrate on the orb shaped object squarely in the center.  The dominance of this display is foreboding.  Our future is in the hands of the person who picks up the receiver.  The question reverberates through our mind.  Who will we place in this most powerful position?

Americans are familiar with the symbol and the stories attached to this crimson contraption.  With a word, the leader of the world’s superpower can commit this country to war.  Perchance, the voice on the other end of the line will inform the President of the United States, we have been attacked.  No matter what is said or done, citizens in this country recognize the dire circumstances.

In cinematography circles, the term is mis-en-scene.  An auteur creates the scene, sets the stage, and decides what is essential to communicate. A desired message is maximized.  The method and manner in which a communiqué is delivered can manipulate a made-up mind.  The choice of lighting is critical.  Textures and colors are telling.  Space can be used to intensify the sensations a spectator will experience.  

If characters are in view, the make-up they wear must be impeccable, believable, and impressive. Costumes must speak with a voice so subtle as to be unnoticeable.  Prominent persons in the cast must dress in a manner that draws attention to them.  Interiors convey a meaning.  The medium is the message.

Advertisers understand this and take advantage of the props.  If the product to be sold is luscious to look at, then a director will focus on the appearance.  If the façade is less appetizing, alterations are possible.  When the exterior is less expressive, the experience can be enhanced.  Sex sells.  Food is fine.  Meals fill our minds.  Snacks satiate our stomachs.  Sustenance stuffs the pocketbooks of industrialists who manufacture the provisions.  Profits are plenty with thanks to the primary ingredient, promotional advertisements.

Product placement, a more discreet statement, can be far more powerful than a blatant cry for attention.  Consider the items purchased by patrons as they wait at a counter or in line.  A magazine title titillates.  A shopper will stop to scan the articles.  Sunglasses positioned at the front of an aisle remind a buyer it is bright outside.  If the weather looks as though it may take a turn for the worse, and umbrellas are near when a patron enters the store, the collapsible canopies will leap into human  hands.  Storeowners understand, it is location, location, location.  Humans hope to be comfortable and comforted.

Political consultants comprehend the dynamic is true  for the candidate.  Name recognition is the first priority.  Once a person’s identity is established, a professional public relations representative will work to solidify a respectable reputation.  Slogans echo throughout the airwaves.  Experience, judgment, the record, and a personal biography that captures the character and imagination are publicized.  

A Presidential aspirant, desirous of greater exposure, and an opportunity to appear average Joe or Jane, will perform on a popular television program.  Light hearted comedies and self-deprecating humor certainly will sell a figure considered too formal or firm.  A so called “candid” communication will garner more votes, just as a can of Pepsi in the hands of an athlete will stimulate more sales.  

Public relations persons, campaign coordinators, and advertising consultants such as Roy Spence, creator of the 1984 Red Phone commercial and the 2008, 3 AM advertisement, know what the public wants.  Mister Spence is familiar with what the electorate will buy.  This specialist selects the stage, and sets the scene.  He has a flare for the dramatic.  Just as a knowledgeable film director can gently induce an audience to suspend disbelief, a fine marketeer can persuade the constituency to cast a ballot for the candidate of his or her choice.

In 1984, Mister Spence convinced Democrats that then Democratic Presidential hopeful Walter Mondale was  preferable.  Mondale would protect them from an unknown enemy.  Democratic Presidential challenger Gary Hart was doing well in the polls.  It seemed the good-looking well-spoken rival had a chance.  Hart might have won the nomination.  However, political commercials warned the public Gary Hart might not experienced enough to hold the office or the red telephone receiver.

Human as he is, a public performance brought Hart’s judgment into question.  His own folly hurt him.  However, even without such a slip, history tells us an advertisement can change the public’s perception.  From television sets nationwide a narrative evolved.

The most awesome, powerful responsibility in the world lies in the hand that picks up this phone.  The idea of an unsure, unsteady, untested hand is something to really think about.  This is the issue of our times.  On March 20, vote as if the future of the world is at stake.  Mondale.  This president will know what he’s doing, and that’s the difference between Gary Hart and Walter Mondale.

Voters were intentionally filled with fear.  Might a Senator be less senior and not as prepared as a former Vice President was?  Could it be that time in the White House better qualifies a person to be President of the United States?  Americans cannot be certain of what might have been.  We only comprehend what we believe.  Whether the world was, or is, in fact dangerous, it matters not.  Humans feel great trepidation for the unknown.  An imminent threat daunts and taunts us.  The unfamiliar is perhaps more ghastly than any reality might be.

When it comes to ruling the brain, fear often is king, scientists say.

“Fear is the most powerful emotion,” said University of California Los Angeles psychology professor Michael Fanselow.

People recognize fear in other humans faster than other emotions, according to a new study being published next month.  Research appearing in the journal Emotion involved volunteers who were bombarded with pictures of faces showing fear, happiness, and no expression.  They quickly recognized and reacted to the faces of fear — even when it was turned upside down.

“We think we have some built-in shortcuts of the brain that serve the role that helps us detect anything that could be threatening,” said study author Vanderbilt University psychology professor David Zald.

Other studies have shown that just by being very afraid, other bodily functions change.  One study found that very frightened people can withstand more pain than those not experiencing fear.  Another found that experiencing fear or merely perceiving it in others improved people’s attention and brain skills.

When people are panicked, they react and remember.  Any good  advocate [advertiser] understands if the message is to be effective, it must be unforgettable.  Public relations is the power of storytelling. Anyone can create a market for merchandise if they recognize they have three to four seconds to grab the attention of an audience.  An promoter has moments more to tell a story.  If an impression is to made, and the message is to influence, the information and delivery must be memorable.

In recent days, the public has been flooded with extraordinary expositions.  The narrator warns in a portentous voice “It’s 3 am and your children are safe and asleep.  But there’s a phone in the White House and it’s ringing.  Something’s happening in the world.  the question is asked of voters, ‘Would you want Hillary Clinton to answer the call or Barack Obama?’  Will experience settle your mind or will judgment quell your angst?

New York University researcher LeDoux says, “We’ve gone from ‘vote for me or you’ll end up poor’ to ‘vote for me or you’ll end up dead.'”  . . . .

Why do these ads “work?”

“Elementary, my dear Watson”: the amygdala. The amygdala overrides the work of the more thoughtful cortex of our brains. It is a vestigial organ that testifies to the superior nature of the brain’s fear circuitry. Neurons only carry traffic one way from the cortex to the amygdala, which allows it to override the more logical and thoughtful cortex; it doesn’t work the other way around.  You might be able to “think” yourself out of an unreasonable or irrational fear, but, usually, the amygdala hobbles logic and reasoning, making fear “far, far more powerful than reason,” according to neurobiologist Michael Fanselow of the University of California at Los Angeles, whom Ms. Begley quoted in her article this way, “It (the amygdala) evolved as a mechanism to protect us from life-threatening situations, and, from an evolutionary standpoint, there’s nothing more important than that.”

Some say talk is cheap.  Speeches are not solutions.  However, in reality resolve is an afterthought actually well-founded in fear.  Try as humans might to silent the beast within, hysteria burgeons.   Frenzy follows. Men, women, and children act on fervent beliefs.  The telephone will ring in the dark of the night, and an experienced person must be in the Oval Office to answer it.  People prefer to place their hope in reason, regardless of the fact that fear, our emotions are not really rational.

By the time the telephone rings in the White House Military officials have already acted.  Professionals in the Pentagon are the first to respond and react.

Contrary to popular myth, and Hollywood portrayal, the hot line has never been a pair of red telephones, one in a drawer in the Oval Office, the other in the Kremlin. At first, it was a set of teletypes with messages punched in at a rate of about one page every three minutes. That system was replaced in the late 1970s with two satellite systems, as well as an undersea cable link.

The American end of the hot line is located not in the White House but across the Potomac in the Pentagon — at the National Military Command Center.

Without knowledge, people presume.  Humans fill in the facts.  Citizens rely on sources, even if these references appeal only to our innate fears.  Indeed, if a informant can touch a nerve, they can cause abundant concern.  Consternation is often the catalyst for great change.  We see this in political polls and through our purchases.  Currently, post September 11, 2001, Americans have bought the idea, we are in a necessary battle.

Even as far back as the 18th century the theorist Edmund Burke said, “No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.” It’s no wonder, then, that the electorate since 9/11 has been constantly manipulated with “orange” and “red” alerts and color-coded systems of assessing the threat of terrorist attack.  (Duct tape, anyone?) After 9/11, few of us doubt that there are terrorists who threaten our country, but constantly invoking that threat for political purposes has become Plan “A” for this Republican administration.  And it seems to be getting a great deal of play on the caucus stump, as well, especially from Republican hopefuls.

Here is one interesting example of fear trumping reason. Flight insurance was offered that would cover “death by any cause” or “death by terrorism.”  The specificity of the word “terrorism,” combined with the responses that it triggered, caused more people to spend money on “terrorism” insurance than they spent for “death by any cause” insurance, even though “terrorism” insurance is merely a small part of the “death by any cause.”

Harvard University psychology researcher Daniel Gilbert is quoted in the article: “Negative emotions such as fear, hatred and disgust tend to provoke behavior more than positive emotions, such as hope and happiness do.”

Hence, we may speak of peace and prosperity; nonetheless, Americans, as humans throughout the planet act on antipathy.  Our aversions drive us further and more frequently than affirmations do.  Politics, with all the claims that it is practical is in essence personal.  Affairs of State are also psychological.  More than a century ago, advertisers realized that the best tool they had was human emotions.  Brain researchers may not have plotted the patterns at work within the gray matter, until recently; nevertheless, Applied Psychologist, Walter Dill Scott explains, entrepreneurs knew how to move the masses.  Marketeers, then and now, acknowledged art alone, presented on a page or on a silver screen, does not have the appeal that an inferred message might.  Science, if applied subliminally, sells as well as sex does.

In an address before the Agate Club of Chicago the speaker said: “As advertisers, all your efforts have been to produce certain effects on the minds of possible customers. Psychology is, broadly speaking, the science of the mind. Art is the doing and science is the understanding how to do, or the explanation of what has been done. If we are able to find and to express the psychological laws upon which the art of advertising is based, we shall have made a distinct advance, for we shall have added the science to the art of advertising.”

In a recent address before the Atlas Club of Chicago the speaker said: “In passing to the psychological aspect of our subject, advertising might properly be defined as the art of determining the will of possible customers…. Our acts are the resultants of our motives, and it is your function in commercial life to create the motives that will effect the sale of the producer’s wares.”

Perhaps that is why politicians invest as they do.  The expected expense for influence in the 2008 Presidential election could exceed three [3] billion dollars, according to TNS Media Intelligence/Campaign Media Analysis Group, Cable News Network’s consultant on political television advertising. Professionals in the public eye have learned from profiteers.  ‘You must spend money if you hope to “change” public opinion or odious perceptions.  We all are familiar with the notion politicians are crooks.  Image is everything if you wish to be elected or selected as the best software system, or the most sumptuous soda. Search engines also understand the importance of image and advertising.  Coffeehouses are not exempt.  As much as customers crave caffeine, without a bit of gentle coercion even the most loyal consumer might consider the cost of the Jamaican bean unnecessary.

  • Microsoft – more than 20 percent of their annual revenue or $11.5 billion
  • Coca-Cola – more than $2.5 billion
  • Yahoo – more than 20 percent of their annual revenue or $1.3 billion
  • eBay – 14 percent to 15 percent of its revenue – which was $871 million, much of that to advertise on Google
  • Google – In the millions rather than billions of dollars – with $188 million
  • Starbucks – $95 million

Fear can convince a constituent to vote as they will.  When a presentation is deftly designed, people forget the influence of media.  Persuasion is palpable.  Human hearts are touched by tone, tint, and tenor.  After, the emotional sentinel, the amygdala internalizes information, then people intellectualize.  Men, women, and children ponder, and ultimately affirm that they are right to think as they do.  The fives senses may not be directly involved in decisions made; still, information [or intuition] is studied through the filter of fear.

Americans think they analyze, what will occur if the red phone rings.  Then, just as advertisers hope, they act emotionally.  As citizens of the United States listen to the campaign commercials, watch the stump speeches, and seek solutions, we must accept that our choice will not be logical, for we are not reasonable.  The two-legged animal called man is but a blip in the natural cycle of neurological events.  The difference is, we have the capacity to build, and create machines that kill.  Humankind acts more aggressively on apprehensions than other animals are able to do.  We, the people are perhaps more vulnerable to descriptions, metaphors, and similes.  The psyche is profound as is psychology.  So, this election season remember.

This illustration of the way in which one chapter of psychology (Mental Imagery) can be applied to advertising is but one of a score of illustrations which could be given. Psychology has come to be one of the most fascinating of all the sciences, and bids fair to become of as great practical benefit as physics and chemistry. As these latter form the theoretical basis for all forms of industry which have to do with matter, so psychology must form the theoretical basis for all forms of endeavor which deal with mind.

The householder in glancing through his morning paper has his attention caught by the more attractive advertisements. The mechanic in going to and from his place of employment whiles away his time in looking at the display cards in the trolley or the elevated cars. The business man can scarcely pass a day without being forced to look at the advertisements which stare at him from the bill boards. The members of the family turn over the advertising pages in their favorite magazine, not because they are forced to, but because they find the advertisements so interesting and instructive.

These persons are oblivious to the enormous expense which the merchant has incurred in securing these results. They are unconscious of the fact that the results secured are the ones sought for, and that in planning the advertising campaign the merchant has made a study of the minds of these same householders, mechanics, business men, and members of the family. Advertising is an essential factor in modern business methods, and to advertise wisely the business man must understand the workings of the minds of his customers, and must know how to influence them effectively, — he must know how to apply psychology to advertising.

Roy Spence certainly knows his stuff.  The Texas advertising consultant for Senator and Presidential hopeful Hilary Clinton, creator of the first 3 Ante Meridian commercial and the Red Phone infomercial has captured our attention.  Mister Spence is truly a master.  He is an artiste and a scientist.  This amazing man has moved the media and the masses.  He has advanced a implication, increased the audience, and altered the focus.  Roy Spence, on more than one occasion, has triumphed.  He successfully worked to make the most of the fear factor in a manner few can match.  Perchance, when the telephone rings in the White House or at the Pentagon, we may want our man Roy to answer the call.  Mister Spence grasps what alludes most malleable minds.

Congratulations Roy Spence.  You are a marvel.  You apply psychology and artistic principles.  Mister Spence, you have proven yourself to be the genuine candidate of change.  At a crucial moment in your candidate’s campaign, you alter reality.

Situations, Sources, Slogans, Speeches, Solutions . . .

Evolutionary Biology Lost By Design; Scientific-Creationism Rises? ©

© copyright 2006 Betsy L. Angert
Evolutionary Biology has fallen out of favor in America.  Currently, it is not listed an acceptable major for low-income college students seeking financial assistance.  Intelligent Design is a popular pursuit and belief in this country today.  For quite some time, a majority of Kansas State School Board members advanced the study of scientific creationism.  Recently however, the tide turned.  The Red sea parted and the balance was shifted.  An earlier 6 to 4 majority was reversed.  Still, there is little reason to rejoice.  This Renaissance occurred before and likely, we will witness it again.

In 2000, the state regional panel of science-based creationist eliminated the study of evolutionary science.  The public panicked.  In the following election year, the people brought about their own evolution.  They voted the 6 to 4 Intelligent Design board out and installed a council that supported Scientific Theory.  However, again the balance of power was tentative.  The new board majority was 6 to 4.  Still, with this reversal the core curriculum was restored.  “Science” survived.  Yet, it is clear, history tells us fluctuation is fluid.  Creationists come, and science goes.  The evolutionary progression of panel members is not etched in stone.  It is pliant.

However, the information engraved in computer chip is stable, or so it seems.  This data effects many.  Though it can be changed, for now, Evolutionary Biology has disappeared from the Department of Education databases.  The subject is no longer listed as an accepted study for struggling college students wishing to receive a federal grant.

It is true this reality can change with the help of humans.  It takes time, effort, and desire.  Creatures created in the image of G-d, must care to construct a varying truth.  Transformation is often slow in coming.  Katherine McLane, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, the organization that administers the grants states, “There is no explanation for it being left off the list.  It has always been an eligible major.”  Nevertheless, for now it is gone.

Samara Yudof, another representative for the Department reassured journalists and university scholars.  She vowed evolutionary biology would return to the list.  However, according to New York Times reporter Cornelia Dean, “as of last night it was still missing.”

This “minor” mishap might not be of concern, mistakes are easily made; nevertheless considering the climate and the current Bush administration, there is reason for concern.

Our “fair” President, just as the people he serves, thinks G-d guided the process of creation.  Sixty-seven percent of those that voted for George W. Bush believe God created humans in their present form.  Forty-five out of every hundred Bush backers think that evolution need not be taught.  However, creationism must be part of the curriculum.  Mr. Bush advocates the causes of his Religious Right supporters and has changed policies to advance their agenda.

Scientists know this.  They find this reality troubling.  There are ample “threats to the teaching of evolution.”  A physicist at Case Western Reserve University, Lawrence M. Krauss, is well aware of this.  Professor Krauss said he discovered the omission of Evolutionary Biology from the master list quite unexpectedly. After an anonymous employee at the Department of Education contacted the physicist, he wrote an essay, which appeared in The New York Times on August 15, 2006.  The Krauss article addressed the necessity of teaching evolution.  “Dr. Krauss would not name his source.”  The Department staff member expressed his concern for being publicly identified.  He did not want to draw “attention to the matter.”  Nevertheless, suspicions and reasons for trepidation are mounting.

Scientists who knew about the omission also said they found the clerical explanation unconvincing, given the furor over challenges by the religious right to the teaching of evolution in public schools.  “It’s just awfully coincidental,” said Steven W. Rissing, an evolutionary biologist at Ohio State University.

Jeremy Gunn, who directs the Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief at the American Civil Liberties Union, said that if the change was not immediately reversed “we will certainly pursue this.”

It is well known that those categorized as the Religious Right are strong supporters of this President.  In August 2005, Baby Bush told Texas newspaper reporters that he believes that Intelligent Design should be taught in conjunction with evolution.  The boy Bush enthusiastically proclaimed, “Both sides ought to be properly taught . . . so people can understand what the debate is about.”

The “debate” is a not a discussion by any means.  It is a dispute of infinite proportions.  Those advocating Intelligent Design maintain that “evolutionary science” is a fallacy. 

For one thing, I.D. is not Biblical literalism.  Unlike earlier generations of creationists?”the so-called Young Earthers and scientific creationists?”proponents of intelligent design do not believe that the universe was created in six days, that Earth is ten thousand years old, or that the fossil record was deposited during Noah’s flood.  (Indeed, they shun the label “creationism” altogether.)  Nor does I.D. flatly reject evolution: adherents freely admit that some evolutionary change occurred during the history of life on Earth.  Although the movement is loosely allied with, and heavily funded by, various conservative Christian groups?”and although I.D. plainly maintains that life was created?”it is generally silent about the identity of the creator.

The movement’s main positive claim is that there are things in the world, most notably life, that cannot be accounted for by known natural causes and show features that, in any other context, we would attribute to intelligence.  Living organisms are too complex to be explained by any natural?”or, more precisely, by any mindless?”process.  Instead, the design inherent in organisms can be accounted for only by invoking a designer, and one who is very, very smart.

Smart indeed, clever constituents, proponents of religious policies and teachings are mounting their campaigns throughout the nation.

Proposals hostile to evolution are being considered in more than twenty states; earlier this month, a bill was introduced into the New York State Assembly calling for instruction in intelligent design for all public-school students.  The Kansas State Board of Education is weighing new standards, drafted by supporters of intelligent design that would encourage schoolteachers to challenge Darwinism.

Senator Rick Santorum, a Pennsylvania Republican, has argued that “intelligent design is a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes.”  An I.D.-friendly amendment that he sponsored to the No Child Left Behind Act?”requiring public schools to help students understand why evolution “generates so much continuing controversy”?”was overwhelmingly approved in the Senate.  (The amendment was not included in the version of the bill that was signed into law, but similar language did appear in a conference report that accompanied it.)  In the past few years, college students across the country have formed Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness chapters.

Thus I ask, is there reason for concern?  Is a clerical error merely that?  My intent is not to advance a conspiracy theory.  I only wish to “create” awareness.  I think the science behind evolutionary theory is sound.  I trust that is only my opinion.  However, in a world where those that represent the “superpower” repeatedly reiterates, “You are either with us or against us,”  I wonder what will happen to other theories that do not parallel those of our President. Will the hard drive mysterious be erased and replaced with a “Brave New World” hatchery?

Intellectually Design your Evolution.  Study the science and sources . . .

  • Bush Remarks On ‘Intelligent Design’ Theory Fuel Debate, By Peter Baker and Peter Slevin. Washington Post. Wednesday, August 3, 2005
  • Evolution Major Vanishes From Approved Federal List, By Cornealia Dean. The New York Times. August 24, 2006
  • How to Make Sure Children Are Scientifically Illiterate, By Lawrence M. Krauss. The New York Times. August 15, 2006
  • Did Humans Evolve? Not Us, Say Americans. The New York Times. August 15, 2006
  • Devolution; Why intelligent design isn’t. By H. Allen Orr.  The New Yorker.Issue of May 30, 2005. Posted May 23, 2005
  • George W. Bush, The Last Relativist, By Timothy Noah. Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2000
  • New scrutiny of role of religion in Bush’s policies, By Jane Lampman. The Christian Science Monitor. March 17, 2003
  • Bush’s Religious Language, By Juan Stam. The Nation. December 4, 2003
  • Poll: Creationism Trumps Evolution. CBS News. November 22, 2004
  • Bush Evolution Remarks Generate Wide Media Coverage, By Cindy Workosky. August 8, 2005
  • Bush rallies support for ‘faith-based’ services package. Inside Politics. CNN News. January 30, 2001
  • The Evolution Debate; Complete Coverage. The New York Times.
  • Teach the Controversy, Rick Santorum, Senator, Pennsylvania Republican. January 14, 2005
  • Intelligent Design Network. Seeking Objectivity in Origins Science
  • A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism.  Discovery Institute.

    For a good discussion of the topic, you may wish to study a Mark Thoma dialogue.  Please visit, Economist View, More Whining on Intelligent Designing?