Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The Sword

There are few archtypes in our language as strong as the sword.

Solomon would slay the baby in half with a sword.

Micah and Isaiah speak of swords to plowshares.

Joel even speaks of plowshares to swords.

Those who live by the sword, die by the sword.

One of the scariest suits in the Tarot is Swords.

Then, there is the Sword of Damocles

If you are familiar with allusions to the "sword of Damocles," you may know that to feel that the sword of Damocles is hanging over you is to have a sense of anxiety, of impending doom.

The reference is to a story recounted by the Roman writer Cicero in the first century B.C.

Damocles was a courtier in Syracuse during the reign of a powerful tyrant named Dionysius. Tired of hearing his young courtier go on and on about how wonderful the life of a ruler must be, Dionysius decided to teach Damocles a lesson. Damocles was treated to a lavish banquet in which he was to experience what it really felt like to be a ruler. In the midst of the festivities, he noticed a sword suspended overhead by a single horsehair.

You could say it ruined his party.

In this nuclear age, the Sword of Damocles has become a metaphor for our own perilous situation.

Practically every body has said something memorable with the word sword in it. Here are a few more:

"Beware of the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry, [who] infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How will I know? For this I have done. And I am Julius Caesar."
Julius Caesar

There are only two forces in the world, the sword and the spirit. In the long run the sword will always be conquered by the spirit.
Napoleon Bonaparte

Those who play with the devil's toys will be brought by degrees to wield his sword.
R. Buckminster Fuller

The pen is mightier than the sword.
Edward Bulwer-Lytton

There never was a time when, in my opinion, some way could not be found to prevent the drawing of the sword.
Ulysses S. Grant

The badge of the violent is his weapon, spear, sword or rifle. God is the shield of the non-violent.
Mohandas Gandhi

There seems to be pretty good agreement among our generals, our poets, our philosophers, and our spirtual leaders that using the sword to settle problems is at the very least, the very last option.

And even then, it may simply amplify the violence as it is passed to another time and generation.

Yet, we glorify our armed forces.

We allow our media to whip us into a frenzy with shock and awe.

We entice our young and our impoverished with commercials

to Be All You Can Be.

The geographic state of the United States

spends almost as much as the entire rest of the World on Weaponry

It spends eight times what the Chinese spend,

And they are in second place.

With the 200 Billion and counting we are spending on the War,

We could have built 300 Gigawatts of Windpower.

Which would, believe it or not,

provide enough energy to offset 1/3 of our oil imports,

and almost all of our oil imports from the Middle East.

We could be feeding, clothing, educating, and powering the planet.

Instead, we are swinging our sword.

This is not being All You Can Be.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

what do you base the wind numbers on? besides, electricity can not replace the oil we need for our cars.

9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to your response to the previous comment ;0)

8:45 PM  
Blogger oZ said...

Here are the basics of the energy numbers:

200 billion of wind (the Iraq war) would yield about 7.5 quads of energy a year. (at 10,000 BTUs/Kwh, which only partially accounts for the different energy efficiencies of the ICE engine and the electric motor)

400 billion of wind (the defense budget) would yield about 15 quads a year.

This is based on 3000 hours per MW (34% cap factor) and $800,000 a MW.

The US imports about 15 quads year. Less than half of that comes from the Mideast.

The total transportation sector is about 25 quads.

Total U S energy consumption is over 100 quads.

Now, as to the issue of replacing oil with electricity.

Obviously, this requires different transportation appliances. Over 200,000 hybrids have entered the domestic market in the last 2 years. Many, many more are in the proverbial pipeline. If these hybrids were plug in hybrids, running on either gas or electricity, wind power could be used to charge them, especially at night.

Plug in hybrid development is underway at EPRI, at Daemler Chrysler, and Plug in conversions for the Prius are becoming available.

Also, the rapid development of Lithium ion batteries(laptop batteries), will soon make all-electric motorcycles, scooters, and even passenger cars realistic and desireable.

New appliances such as Kamen's Segway already use electric fuel.

The present stationary generation sector and the transportation sector are not unified. This needs to change, regardless of fuel supply issues.

According to electric utility data, electric fuel costs are less than 56 cents a gallon (at 9 cents/Kwh). When you include advanced battery costs, total electric fuel costs are more like the cost of gasoline. (2.00 a gallon). Wind costs, by the way, are around 3 cents/Kwh.

As a final note, in a sustainable scenario, wind power to hydrogen, back to electric power for transportation or electrical generation is plausible as long as fuel cells are not used.

10:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it hard to accept that we spend this more than anyhone else. why do we not know this if it is true.

6:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

we do know it. we just don't want to realize its implication and, in turn, its moral requirement. and that it, our might must always be used for good and not for our own enrichment. otherwise we have become the proverbial empire of history and of star wars.

4:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A new cut of the film Big Red One has just come out. In it the life of the soldier in combat is depicted to be that of staying alive and only that. I recall that to be quite true and seeing it reminded me of it. In Irak the soldier isn't thinking of buiding democracy he is thinking or she, of staying alive and getting back to the world. Just a thought that the Sword thing brought to mind...

7:10 AM  

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