Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Storm's Acoming

It was around fifty degrees when I got up this morning with colder possibly freezing weather on the way. It started raining. It is still above freezing. Apparently our ultra-efficient highway guys here in Austin, Texas where we rarely see winter weather had already spread sand on overpasses. Which became wet sand and which became slippery. And, yes, cars skidded and ran into one another. Just had to add that to this long-neglected journal of unintended consequences.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Washing Up on Shore

Yes, it's bad when, far out at sea there is a gigantic oil spill and it upsets the oceans and washes on the shore. But The New York Times reports that land mines have been washing up near North Korea. These devices have been leaving behind unintended consequences for years. Chalk up yet another way we humans make this a scary world.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

When Journalists Actually Say UC

I know, I know. Unintended Consequences abound (oil we wanted for SUVs and powering gadgets spilling in gulf, etc.) and the JUC has been silent. But today, on the front page of The Wall Street Journal, the writer actually says 'the law of unintended consequences' so I felt compelled to speak about that situation. Which is, thankfully, far less dire than the Gulf Disaster. It seems that San Diego banned drinking on beaches. So...people float a little off shore in calm bays using rafts and floating coolers (picture from ebay sale of such a device). The drunks and beer cans still wash up on the shore. The law may be amended to eliminate drinking on the water.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Dam It...An earthquake

Most of us consider an earthquake an 'act of God.' Even if we don't believe in any particular god. We believe that certain things are beyond the cause and effect of humans. But is it so???

There is now talk that a dam that created a reservoir in China may have caused or hastened the earthquake that left 80,000 people dead or missing in Sichuan Province. Seems all that weight of water less than a mile from a fault line could change the actual geological activity.

With a dam fifty stories tall you might really be able to change nature at its most basic. Which leads me to wonder if we can the a force for preventing or delaying seismic activity. But probably not. Our best efforts at intended consequences seem to always go off track.

See the story here in The New York Times.

The Destruction of the Rain Forest

Like global warming (and a cause of it) we assume that the rain forests are being decimated as we speak and that there is little we can do about it except shake our heads at big corporations (and individual indigenous people) destroying the forests to harvest things from it or to clear fields and raise crops.

I was surprised then to read in The New York Times that another trend might be partially or even completely reversing the downward spiral in the number of acres of this pristine wilderness.

Yes, as people leave the land and go try their hand at life in the city, their cultivated land is quickly turned into...rain forest. Naturally there is a debate about whether these new forest are really rain forests or 'caricatures' of same. Read the article for yourself here. But whatever is happening surely urbanization causing new acres of natural (or quasi natural) forest qualifies as an unintended consequence. Individuals leaving the land, of course, does not stop global corporations operating so that, as one 'expert' put it "every stick of timber is being cut in Congo is sent to China." But there is certainly more going on than the simple views bandied about outside JUC. Yeah, it's here where we find the 'hmmm' in every story that might seem black and white.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Women's Work

In this picture from the sixties you see a couple of my aunts in the center. One was a school teacher and one was a secretary or admin in a bank trust department. I had a couple of other aunts who were teachers, another secretary and one who was a non-com in the Navy. My mother finished her education to become a teacher after I went to school. By the time I graduated from college a few more things were open to women. I got a job as a computer programmer. I worked that job for two and a a half years and was never promoted. Still I didn't have to take a job as a teacher (fact is I washed out of the requisite ed. courses to get a certificate) and while I visited the Navy recruiter, a job offer for this computer job came along before I had to resort to that and I got free training there. The year was 1970. I bet my Aunt Mary (looking at the camera on the right above) was still wearing gloves to work. We both worked downtown and we'd meet for lunch sometimes. I was required to wear a dress or suit with skirt to work.

So why am I telling you this? What are the lurking unintended consequences? Well, in the depression of 2008/2009 (and beyond?) a funny thing has happened as people were laid off. The majority of laid off employees are men and women's percentage in the work force was already increasing. They work in many more fields today but many are nurses, teachers, etc. A trend is occurring that could make the proportion of women in the work force greater than fifty percent. The NY Times wrote about this phenomena. Of course, since women are still paid less, generally, this is a way to slash payrolls I suppose.

More women than men in the work force! But, where a couple has only a working wife, will he do the dishes and shrub the shower?

History shows us that men won't take it easily, though. When they returned from WWII, they just booted the women out of factories and construction. This time maybe some will retrain as nurses and teachers.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Crack Kids

Remember all the approbation? How crack-using moms were vilified and their kids taken away because they endangered them in the womb and how they were born addicted, those kids, with an uncertain and hopeless future? Yeah, turns out, writing about the subject in Tuesday's New York Times that they titled it "The Epidemic that Wasn't."

Turns out that if you were a baby boomer and your mom smoked and drank (and who wouldn't if you were a woman after WWII), it could be you were more abused in the womb. Yeah, crack cocaine? About the same as if your mom smoked cigarettes. She drank a little too much? Worse than that.

Lots of mothers-to-be are very kind to the developing pup these days, giving up caffeine, alcohol, druges, cigarettes for the duration and even for the nursing period.

[The picture? Stolen from an ebay trader trying to sell a hyper-realistic doll. Scary, I know.]