Cooperstown Crier - Your Source for Hometown News - Cooperstown, Baseball Hall of Fame

October 25, 2012

Human nature ... consistently inconsistent

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Cooperstown Crier

---- — We were pleased to hear the recent “Fall for Cooperstown” event was well-received by those who took part in the various activities.

 Unfortunately, given our current mobility issues, we found that we thought it best not to push our luck by attending the festivities and end up in still worse shape. Thus we were dependent upon reports from those who attended to keep us informed. And while we did not receive a huge number of firsthand reports, we were indeed most happy to have received via email a photo of the potluck dinner on Main Street as that particular event intrigued us the most.

Fortunately, for those who attended the potluck the weather got its act together and was quite pleasant by the time the dinner started.

And the picture we received featured a group of people, seated at the long, long table, against a lovely background of fall foliage. All in all, it looked like a most pleasant affair. However, the number of alcoholic beverages being consumed in the picture did give us pause. In fact, we must admit we were quite surprised by the presence of alcoholic beverages.

We knew that people attending the dinner were asked to bring a dish to pass, as well as their own table service and beverage. But, given the village’s stand on alcoholic beverages in other venues, we were stunned they were permitted in this instance. A quick check of the village’s website will confirm that alcoholic beverages are not permitted in at least two village parks, Three Mile Point and Fairy Springs.

We also know that when the permit is issued each year to Upper Pioneer Street to close the street for the annual block party, note is made that alcoholic beverages are not allowed to be consumed on the street itself.

Thus we are somewhat puzzled why alcoholic beverages were permitted at this particular event as we do also think it tends to suggest that the village is not consistent in what it allows at various gatherings. Why we wonder does the village chose to allow alcohol at its gathering while denying them at gatherings at Three Mile Point or Fairy Springs, as well as at block parties throughout the village? It is one of seemingly inconsistent moments about which “inquiring minds want to know” the explanation.

Of course, we encounter such “inquiring minds want to know” moments more often than we might think possible. In fact, we are still puzzling about two emails we received this past week which seem to us, at least, somewhat inconsistent, if not completely ironic.

The first email referenced an article “Insight: U.S. taxpayers poised to subsidize Asian coal demand,” which was found at www.reuters.com. The article read in part: “...At issue is how much miners pay the government to tap the coal-rich Powder River Basin in eastern Montana and Wyoming... Government auditors have long faulted lax oversight of the coal lease program, saying miners have too much sway. Officials have defended the system, saying their approach is the right one to help utilize a region that provides a large share of the country’s power ... That dynamic raises questions about whether taxpayers are essentially helping Asian economies save on energy costs ‘...A key question is whether the taxpayer is getting a fair return on the use of those lands,’ said Lynn Scarlett, who served as a deputy to two Secretaries of the Interior under President George W. Bush between 2005 and 2009.”

Much has been said of late by those opposed to natural gas drilling about the landowners in this area being nothing but greedy when it comes to wanting to lease mineral rights for natural gas development. And yet now it might seem that when the federal government is leasing its mineral rights, the government, and hence the taxpayers, don’t seem to be greedy enough. We are not certain, but we do tend to think it cannot be both ways.

Likewise, we were equally puzzled about an email which referenced an article “Holy Grail of Fuel? Scientists Make Synthetic Gas from Air and Water” which appeared on the website News.360.com.

In the body of the email, the tease for the article read:

“Engineers and scientists at a small company in the U.K. claim to be able to produce gasoline and other liquid hydrocarbon fuels from carbon dioxide and water vapor, which could be a huge boost in the production of renewable fuels.

“The team at Air Fuel Synthesis (AFS) has created a system for using renewable energy to power the capture of CO2 and water, which is then transformed into liquid hydrocarbon fuels that can be used directly in gasoline engines. The water is first electrolyzed to produce hydrogen, and then the CO2 and hydrogen are combined in a fuel reactor to produce gas using the company’s process.”

However, only by reading the accompanying article does one learn that an integral part of the process requires the use of sodium hydroxide, better known as lye. And while lye is probably not the most toxic chemical known to man, it also would not seem to be the most benign either. Thus, while the concept of making fuel out of air and water is without doubt intriguing, it would seem to make sense to look at the entire process before declaring it the best things since sliced bread. In addition it should also be noted that the process also requires electricity which means that some sort of existing energy source must be used in the process of making the fuel. It rather reminds us of the W.S. Gilbert lyric “Things are seldom what they seem, skim milk masquerades as cream.”

And while we have found these examples of seemingly inconsistent thinking interesting, we must admit that they are most interesting in that they point out that we all, in our own way, have our very own foibles.

PLEASE NOTE: Comments regarding this column may be made by mail at 105 Pioneer St., Cooperstown, N.Y. 13326, by telephone at 547-8124 or by email at cellsworth1@stny.rr.com