Monthly Archives: January 2013

Recently, I posted my own pessimistic view of green energy sources. Since then, I have come across several more optimistic articles and this is one of them. If we really can develop inexpensive solar energy, then we will be taking a major step towards energy self sufficiency.


Over time I’ve grown more and more suspicious of stories about breakthrough technologies. I always think back to those heady days of EEStor, the guys who were going to make a battery that would revolutionize grid storage and electric cars alike. “EEStor CEO says game-changing energy storage device coming by 2010”! As you may have noticed, 2010 came and went and the game remains unchanged.

All of which is to say, regarding the post to follow: caveat lector.

Still, this looks very, very cool.

CleanTechnica has an exclusive on a new solar technology that claims to be able to produce power with a levelized cost of energy (LCOE) of 8¢/kWh. That is mind-boggling, “two-thirds the price of retail electricity and over 3 times cheaper than current solar technology.” If the claim proves to be true (and a lot can happen between prototype and mass manufacturing), it…

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Regarding Django and Media Violence

This article was originally posted on January 19. It is reposted now with added content.

Recently, I saw the movie, “Django Unchained.” If you have never seen a Tarantino movie, I do not recommend you start with this one. If you have, and you appreciate his style, then by all means give this one a try. Notice I did not say, “like his style.” I used the word appreciate very deliberately. It is a very violent movie with way more blood flying than is humanly possible but that is his style. There are also scenes that are laugh-out-loud funny and serve as comic relief between scenes of dreadful misery.

The theme of the movie centres around slavery and the cruelty and violence that pervade slave society. As a condemnation of that entire era, this movie is very effective. I am sure that this film will pick up at least one Oscar. In general, the acting was excellent, especially in the case of Cristoph Waltz who does an excellent job of combining winning charm with stunning violence.

And speaking of violence, the question that will not go away is whether or not there is a correlation between violence in the media and violent behaviour. My answer is “No.”

I should explain myself. I am not a behavioural scientist but I did spend 30 years as a high school teacher. That gave me ample opportunity to study behaviour in the developing mind. In my experience, people are not, by nature, violent. In the teen years, we are inclined to be impulsive and sometimes thoughtless. We are risk takers who are learning about boundaries. We are learning how to define ourselves. We are exploring our place in the world. I remember my own teen years as being a very difficult time.

If we throw violent media into the mix, it can only complicate this difficult time, however  the words nature and nurture have to enter the equation at this point. Both contribute a great deal to how we respond to our world. Our family environment has a major influence on our development.

I will never forget a student I had in my first year of teaching. She was constantly angry and belligerent, and frequently fought with her classmates. She was one of six children. Both parents were abusive alcoholics and were known to police. Three of her brothers were in prison. A couple of years after I knew her, she ended up in prison serving a lengthy sentence for the attempted murder of a police officer. She committed suicide in prison.

In the case of this very unfortunate young woman, both nature and nurture were strong factors. As far as nurture was concerned, she was raised in a violent atmosphere and was exposed to conflict on a daily basis. As for nature, I suspect that she may well have been a victim of fetal alcohol syndrome. As a result, she was pre-disposed to violence and would have ended up the way she did with or without exposure to violence in the media.

I have taken a long route to my conclusion. I have watched many violent movies and TV programs but I have never raised a hand against anyone. In my opinion, video violence does not make people violent. Under normal circumstances, we are not violent and seeing a violent movie will not turn a peaceful person into a violent person. We can only be violent if there is an underlying predisposition to violence. On the other hand, in extreme circumstances, such as witnessing an act of violence against a loved one, all bets are off.

Regarding climate change

“We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,” Mr. Obama said at his inauguration. “Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.”

That has got to be the most encouraging statement I have heard in a long time on a topic that rates as one of my hot buttons. I am delighted to see that someone in a position to initiate change is willing to step forward and try to get things done. I am very concerned, however, that too many people in the Republican party are going to be trumpeting their deliberately ignorant denial talking points. And I do mean deliberately ignorant. They are deliberately ignoring the obvious, simply as a matter of political expediency.

Climate change is very real and I am running out of patience for the deniers. Those who insist that climate change is some massive government inspired hoax are definitely running low on common sense. All you have to do is look around with eyes wide open. Evidence for change is all around us.

All I have to do is look in my own back yard. What I am most aware of is the absence of snow. Once upon a time, by this point in the winter, there would be at least a couple of feet of snow. We used to go cross-country skiing in the fields next door and in the nearby regional forest. Today, there is less than an inch of snow on the ground. Total snow fall so far this winter is less than six inches. You cannot ski on that no matter how enthusiastic you may be about outdoor winter activities.

On a recent holiday out west, we visited a very popular glacier field. What we were particularly aware of was how much the glacier had receded  since a previous visit about 20 years ago.

Autumn is lasting longer and spring is arriving earlier. And this is local climate change. Pay attention to climate references from anywhere in the world and it is patently obvious that the world has changed and is continuing to change. The ONLY debatable point, in my opinion, is the extent to which humans are responsible. From my perspective, once again, it is painfully obvious that we contribute a great deal. Once again, just look around. Step outside and watch the exhaust fumes spewing from passing tail pipes. Look to the horizon and the brown stain that sits in the atmosphere above Toronto. Look at news film footage of the dreadful pollution over Beijing. That is all man-made and that is changing our climate.

Once again, I am very pessimistic about our chances for change. I believe that the climate change deniers are too numerous and that we lack the collective will-power to effect change. I believe that President Obama is sincere in his desire to move things in the right direction. I wish him the best of luck.

Regarding the green energy myth

On this particular topic, I really want to be wrong. And if you think I am wrong, please tell me. As far as I am concerned, so-called green energy is far from green.

I am an environmental pessimist. I believe that we have gone past the tipping point and that the damage we have done to this planet is irreversible. We have neither the ability nor the collective will-power to do what needs to be done. All that we can do, at this point, is work on survival strategies.

Green energy as it currently exists, is not going to save us. Let’s look at the two most popular solutions. Please excuse my lack of technical expertise. There may be occasions when the terminology I use could be slightly inaccurate.

Solar energy is expensive and highly inefficient. The solar panels that are in use now are highly inefficient, converting only about 17% of the absorbed energy into electricity. And what do we do with the electricity that is created. Currently, there are two options. Send it to storage batteries or feed it directly to the grid. There are problems with both processes. Battery storage is expensive and inefficient. And feeding it directly into the grid is problematic. The flow of electricity from solar panels fluctuates greatly during the day as a result of the passage of clouds overhead, and the flow diminishes as the sun sets. Electricity, in order to be useful and safe, must maintain a steady flow. Power surges and brownouts are highly damaging to electrical equipment. Solar energy is characterized by surges and brownouts. It must be cleaned up and stabilized before it can be used.

Wind energy has all of the same drawbacks that I have described for solar energy. As well, there are serious environmental concerns. Wind turbines generate considerable low-frequency noise which can be harmful to human health. People who live close enough to the turbines to be aware of this noise suffer in many ways.

According to Environmental Protection UK, “symptoms of LFN (low-frequency noise) annoyance are those associated with stress. These include feelings of irritation and unease, fatigue, headache, nausea and disturbed sleep. It is not clear at what level Low Frequency Noise may be physically damaging; however, the unpleasant symptoms it can induce are sufficient to cause disruption and significant social and economic penalties to sufferers.”

Even when wind turbine farms are far from human habitation, the damage to wildlife is enormous. According to Voice of America, ” there is mounting evidence that expanding “wind farms” are taking a toll on airborne wildlife. Thousands of birds and bats are killed every year by collisions with the wind towers and their giant blades. Environmental activists are taking the wind energy industry to court to find a solution.”

There are other energy sources under development but all that I am aware of are in some way damaging to their immediate environment.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I really want to be wrong. Will somebody out there please do something to ease my pessimism.


Regarding facts and opinions

Facts are raw materials. Opinions are manufactured products. Between the fact and the opinion is the machinery of our mind. Facts become opinions by being processed through this machinery which is strongly influenced by our life experiences.

Let me follow this line of thought with an exaggerated and fictitious example.

My kindergarten teacher taught me that two plus two equals four. Although I am a child, I am well aware that my teacher does not like me. Therefore, anything that my teacher tells me is suspect. The big question in my mind becomes, “Is two plus two always four?” My opinion – Two plus two equals four is a theory, not a fact. Now if you are into quantum mathematics, you will tell me that we can only postulate that two plus two equals four. But that’s a whole other ballgame.

My main point is that the opinions that we hold are strongly influenced by what we already know, or think we know. Opinions are also influenced by our perception of the credibility of the source of the facts. And our perception is also an opinion.

The bottom line is that the survival rate for facts cannot be high considering all the odds against them.

That is why President Obama will have a hard time pushing his gun violence initiatives. That will be the subject of another journal later on.

Regarding life with dogs

We have lived with at least one dog in the house for more than 20 years. We can no longer imagine life without dogs. They add unlimited fun and affection. In the first picture, Our dog Brandy, a miniature poodle and our daughter’s dog, Bella, a toy Manchester Terrier are on sentry duty. We tend to have squirrels visiting our back yard and the dogs consider this trespassing as an act of war. Eternal vigilance is necessary to protect our territory.

Watching for the enemy!

Watching for the enemy!

As you can see in the next image, the enemy has been sighted. Brandy is standing tall and Bella is actually airborne. If I open the door, they will launch at warp speed and drive out the enemy in a matter of seconds.

Enemy sighted. Attack mode engaged!

Enemy sighted. Attack mode engaged!

Once the enemy has been routed, the fearless warrior dogs will return to their post to guard against another rebel incursion.


I am retired. My life consists mainly of reading and eating, hence the name of this blog, Indigestion. I eat, and I digest. I read, and I digest. Sometimes what I eat causes indigestion. Sometimes what I read gives me indigestion. The ideas that come up most often will be the fodder for this site.

What I will be writing about here is exclusively my opinion. We read facts. We digest them. We turn those facts into opinions. Sometimes, the resulting opinions bear very little resemblance to the facts that inspire them. In any case, all of us like to share our opinions. And this is what I am doing here.

This blog was born at 5:10 am on Saturday, January 19, 2013. I had been up to let the dog out and was lying there waiting to fall asleep. Somehow, that was not happening. All kinds of ideas were running around in my head and I was thinking about how I would like to share those ideas. I remembered a blog I had been reading the night before. I decided I would give it a try, and here we are, just a few hours later.

It is my intention to share with you, things that I find interesting and/or important. I want to provoke discussion and the sharing of ideas, so if you feel the urge to comment, please do.