I take my hat off to IPL for their commitment to replace outdated coal fired power systems at Martinsville with an advanced combined cycle power plant of significantly greater efficiency and greatly reduced stack gas emissions (Indianapolis Power and Light announcement, May 1st). However, it didn’t take long for Kerwin Olson of Citizens Action Coalition to throw cold water on the proposal–for apparent contradiction of what seems to be CAC’s continuing campaign to replace all fossil fuel power systems with the holy grail of renewable energy. IPL’s proposal to employ a combined gas turbine/steam turbine system fired by abundantly available natural gas is both realistic and forward looking. Switching from coal to natural gas alone would almost totally eliminate particulate, SO2, and heavy metal stack gas emissions. Moreover, at present gas turbine technology levels, natural gas is essentially the only fuel that will assure reliable combined cycle plant operation with its significantly greater overall energy conversion efficiency. For example, at demonstrated present day technology levels, a combined cycle system could realistically increase overall power plant efficiency of the existing Martinsville coal fired plant by as much as 90%, translating to an overall fuel–and stack gas emission–reduction of almost 50% at the same power plant output !
In fairness, renewable energy systems (wind, solar) clearly offer some future promise, but large scale implementation is problematical in terms spatial footprint, affordable grid connections, and overall cost effectiveness. Additionally, the intrinsic unpredictability of the most likely renewable energy sources would still require fossil fueled power plants to meet electrical energy demand on cloudy and/or windless days. The base load capability of IPL’s proposed plant is 650 megawatts, almost equivalent to 900,000 horsepower of continuous output, and well beyond the capability of any current on again/off again renewable energy system. IPL’s planning is clearly on solid ground and they should be commended.
David A. Nealy, PhD
Retired Power Systems Engineer
Take a moment to read Amendment X
The recent refusal of the Supreme Court to even consider a case involving taxpayers being forced to pay for extinguishing life is abhorrent and almost unbelievable.
Our Indiana General Assembly passed a law preventing our tax dollars from subsiding abortions. Planned Parenthood objected, and a federal judge sided with them. Now we must all pay for the killing of unborn children.
Why must I pay for killing, an act that ignores the sacredness of life, is against the laws of the land, and against the laws of God? If you choose to kill, that’s your choice and you must live with the consequences, but why must I pay for it? Freedom of choice is one thing, but would you agree to pay me to exercise my freedoms in ways you found unlawful and against your deeply held convictions?
Already, since the passage of Roe v. Wade, more than 56,000,000 lives have been ended by mothers through abortion, giving those lives no opportunity to exercise their own freedoms. If you must, ignore the tragedy of this act and ignore whether it is right, but please accept that it is wrong to make others pay for your choice. Even a CNN poll found that 61% of Americans were opposed to using public funds for abortions when the woman cannot afford it,” while an Indiana poll in 2010 “found that 79% of Hoosier voters opposed using tax dollars to pay for abortions.”
Where does our US Constitution say that our state cannot set guidelines for who can receive our tax dollars? Doesn’t anyone pay any attention to Amendment X anymore? It seems the federal court does not, nor do many of our elected officials in Washington, ALL of whom have sworn to uphold the Constitution! Take a moment to read Amendment X. It’s only one sentence of 28 words.
Keith A. Brown
The challenge of unemployment in the digital age
To the editor,
If you have ever been laid off, you won’t easily forget it. I was 31 and had been with my company for 11 years. I loved my job and the company I worked for – and yet that was the year I found myself unemployed. My position had been outsourced.
The emotional impact of being unemployed surprised me. Not only did it feel personal, it impacted my confidence and sense of identity. I would never have guessed that it would throw me so badly. But I knew what I needed to do: I applied for unemployment and started filling out applications. Of course, this was 20 years ago, and the journey to a new job was still paved with paper. I filled out applications and hand-delivered resumes. I went to the unemployment office, filled out paperwork, and waited in the hard plastic chairs until the number on my paper ticket was called. It wasn’t a pleasant process, but I knew it was what every other unemployed adult endured. It was at least a level playing field.
I did not succeed in finding a job, and in the end this meant a short-sale on our home and a move across country to Indiana. But it also meant new opportunities, a re-evaluation of our priorities, and the opportunity to stay home for several years with my daughter – something I wouldn’t trade for anything. Looking back it is easy to see this time as a blessing in disguise. But at the time, it was incredibly stressful.
Twenty years later, I see that same stress on the faces of our library users who are working their way through job losses. The emotion and the stress may be the same, but the details have become incredibly more complicated. The digital age makes our world an amazingly searchable place, but it also adds a necessary skill and resource to that search. Being qualified for a job is no longer enough. Even if you want to work in a job that requires absolutely no computer skills, odds are you do need those computer skills to apply.
According to the latest Pew Research Survey, 65% of Americans have broadband internet at home. I am fortunate to be one of those. Maybe you are as well. But in fact it wasn’t until I became a public librarian that I was able to put faces with the other 35% – my neighbors who do not have ready access to the internet. In Greenwood, this 35% equals roughly 18,000 residents. Not surprisingly, the 35% and the 65% have a lot in common. They work hard, pay their taxes, raise their children – but when those without access to broadband internet are laid off, they find themselves navigating the world of unemployment in the digital age. It is no longer a level playing field.
Fortunately, public libraries provide access to technology and broadband and level the playing field for everyone in our community. This free, tax supported service is essential in our communities. It is unacceptable that 35% of our community who are otherwise qualified should be put at a disadvantage in their job search. In addition to computers and internet access, librarians help job searchers create their first resumes, offer free computer classes to improve job skills, and provide one-on-one consultation to meet the unique needs of each user.
As I write this, the faces of the library patrons I have helped come to mind. They are your neighbors, your family, your friends. We get to know the patrons who visit every day searching for jobs online, creating resumes, or filing for unemployment. We take their job searches almost as personally as they do – and their successes motivate us to fight to preserve the service that leveled the playing field for them when they needed it most: The Public Library.
Sometimes I wonder if we should rename the Public Library. After more than a century of history in America, the public library has radically changed – it is a dynamic and flexible institution committed to meeting the needs of every resident and yet many of the 65% consider it a luxury or think it is a relic of the past. But when I see GPL with a full parking lot, well-used computers and wifi, and hundreds of thousands of books checked out each year, I know that there’s more to the public library than the stereotype would imply.
Should we rename the public library? Something catchy, something without the dusty connotations . . . or maybe it’s just as important to remember that the Free Public Library is still just that, and that it still functions to improve life for every citizen, just as its greatest American proponent hoped it would:
There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration. ~Andrew Carnegie
Director, Greenwood Public Library
Simmering down on grilling duty
I can state with complete confidence that I will never make the grade on any of those cooking shows one sees on the television. No, I am sure the Almighty did not intend for me to make my living cooking for somebody else.
Up to now, I have been fortunate enough that my three children are pretty handy in the kitchen and so I have been able to escape any and all culinary duties. My eldest son is considered close to a master with the outdoor grill. When he is here, I can rest assured that I will have no cooking duties foisted on me. His younger brother is on his way to equal the older sibling in skill and mastery of the outdoor grill. An added plus.
Both of my sons and my daughter are grown and gone now so I am, more often than not, left on my own to do any grilling that may be required. I can get out of it once in a while with a suggestion geared towards one of our fine Southside restaurants. This day was not one of those days.
I was assigned the job to fire up the grill and b-b-q some salmon that my bride had bought. That would be all well and good if the grill had cooperated. Try as I might, I was unable to get a fire of sufficient heat going. Lucky for me, my younger son was in residence as was my brother-in-law who is currently visiting from Seattle. I was able to delegate my grilling duties to them and assume my customary duties as a host of the evening. It is a task I excel at and would consider the duties as a professional host as an absolute specialty except it does not pay enough to evade the poor house.
As I write, my younger son and brother in law are hard at it preparing the salmon for dinner. Once the actual cooking began, I excused myself from the proceedings on the grounds that I have to write this column.
Time to eat! Dang, I’m good!
Scott Emmett lives in Greenwood with his wife, Karen, and an ornery old cat named Toby. Write to Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Internship; not Wedding Crashers good, but still a fun time
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone old enough to read that the economy continues to remain slow and sluggish. The factors responsible for the economic decline, the rate at which the economy is recovering or whether its recovering at all are all topics for discussion. However, classifying the current state of our economy as “fragile”, “weak”, or alike, seems to have almost universal agreement from Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, The Green Party, The Orange Party, and every other party. The less than stellar state of our economy has forced some individuals to look at alternatives means of employment, such as an internship, which is the idea behind the new film, The Internship, starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson.
The Internship reunites the stars, Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, of the hit comedy Wedding Crashers. Instead of crashing weddings, The Internship has Vaughn and Wilson playing a couple of smooth talking, affable high-end watch salesman. One evening, as Billy (Vaughn) and Nick (Wilson) are laying on the charm during a business dinner, they’re informed their business is going under.
After learning their jobs are no longer necessary because “everything is going digital”, Billy and Nick’s lives begin falling apart. Billy’s much younger girlfriend up and leaves him and Nick begins working at a furniture store selling futons and beds. Desperate to find employment and purpose in life, Billy manages to get Nick and himself interviews for internships at Google. After an awkward and hilarious webcam interview, the two find themselves as interns at the tech giant, Google. Over the course of the internship, the two 40 something salesmen compete against tech-savvy ivy-league graduates in a series of events meant to test their tech capabilities with jobs at Google as the highly coveted prize.
First of all, anyone going into The Internship expecting to see Wedding Crashers part 2 will be disappointed. Although both films are meant to feature the talents of Vaughn and Wilson, there are stark differences between the two films. Besides Vaughn’s and Wilson’s characters, the other characters are not that well drawn, diverse or interesting, whereas the zany characters in Wedding Crashers gave Vaughn and Wilson to play off of. Here Vaughn and Wilson play off of each other very Wedding Crasher-like, the other characters don’t provide much at all, but instead serve as mere placeholders. Rose Bryne’s (Bridesmaids) character may be the most unnecessary character ever in a film. She plays the love interest and basically, that’s all she does, nothing more.
The Internship, while it does start with an interesting premise, idea and setting, the jokes get tend to become tired. Most of the humor in the film revolves around these two 40 year old men who are uneasy with technology and nothing else. When the jokes work, it’s pretty funny, but when they don’t, it falls flat.
While The Internship isn’t Wedding Crashers good, it’s a change of pace at the box office and a fairly good time nevertheless. Vaughn and Wilson are enough to make The Internship a fun watch.
Top ten recent events that left me shaking my head
10. I can walk as slow as I like as long as I carry a cane. Without one people honk a lot.
9. I overheard someone talking about the all-natural “Caveman Diet” and all I could think of is, “What do cavemen taste like?”
8. The dog turns her nose up to bologna but will snack from the kitty litter box.
7. McDonald’s is trying to take over the fast food market in China. I wonder how their lawyers will handle the competition from China’s M’Donald’s and MacDonald’s chains that are sure to pop up?
6. Kobe Bryant sued his parents because they were going to auction off some of his old stuff from high school. I wonder what my folks could get for my old Mork from Ork t-shirt and the 8-track tape collection?
5. I received a prescription for nitroglycerin pills. At what point did someone put that in their mouth and proclaimed it stopped a heart attack?
4. Somebody at the Respiratory Clinic snuck into the “one holer” bathroom for a cigarette…. and claimed innocence to the folks waiting outside the door.
3. The people who tell us not to worry about the government spying on our phone calls are the ones listening in.
2. Doctor: “Let me know if it hurts when you breathe.”
Me: “Doc, it hurts when I breathe.”
Doctor: “That’s normal. Don’t worry about it.”
1. A school in California held a toy gun buyback program. If they ever do that here I’m gonna cash in my GI Joe’s for a house payment.
The ornery fur ball that haunts this house
You may have noticed in my bio at the end of this column that I live with a cat that goes by the name of Toby. You may have a cat yourself and, if so, I hope he/she is more congenial than this orange short hair that haunts our home.
I am not certain of the validity of the theory that animals age seven years to every one calendar year but, if that is true, Toby is about one-hundred, give or take. He is, of a certainty, ornery enough to match anybody that age. Tell me, does your cat:
Park himself right next to your chair and stare at you all through dinner in the expectation of getting some “people food?” When you decline his demand, do you get the feeling that it is a good thing he does not have opposable thumbs and can’t whack you with, say, a baseball, bat?
Does he jump up into your bed in the wee hours and purr loud enough to wake the dead? At this moment, do you get the feeling that his loud purring is his way of telling you, at 3 a.m., that it is high time you got your sorry self out of bed and feed him his midnight snack? When you do not respond to his whim that instant, does he insert himself between you and your spouse with his posterior directed right in your face?
When he goes to the vet (there are several fine vets on the Southside, by the way) does your vet examine him with more than the usual number of assistants? Are the assistants armed? We take him to the vet in an animal carrier. Toby, no doubt, considers it a prison and, as loud as he can, laments his incarceration all the way from home to the vet’s table. You’d think he would want out, but, the vet has to reach deep into the back of the carrier to drag him out. He does so with heavy leather gloves and armed assistants at the ready.
Toby is all this and more. Why do we keep such an ornery old cat in our house this long? Well, we have never been robbed in all the time he has been here and, I have yet to set eyes on the first mouse in the house.
Scott Emmett lives in Greenwood with his wife, Karen, and an ornery old cat named Toby. Write to Scott at email@example.com.
After Earth; mediocre sci-fi flick
Today, the average life expectancy for someone born in the United States is approximately 77 years for males and 80-81 years for females. Whatever the number of years we’re privileged enough to spend on God’s green Earth may be, we can rest assured those years will consist of ups and downs, both personally and professionally. Now, one person who had his share of ups and downs professionally is director M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Signs). Shyamalan’s latest directorial project is the new film, After Earth, starring Will Smith.
After Earth is a futuristic science fiction film that takes place, much like its title implies, after planet Earth has undergone extreme warfare and tremendous environmental stress, making it uninhabitable for human beings. After Earth is the story of a strained father-son relationship between General Cypher Raige (Will Smith) and Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith). An event, which we see in frequent flashbacks, serves as the primary reason for the great amount of tension between Cypher and Kitai.
While traveling through space to a routine military exercise, in which Cypher has reluctantly allowed Kitai to tag along, their spacecraft malfunctions. In an attempt to save the crew, Cypher orders the ship crash land on planet Earth. During the crash all of the crew is lost except Kitai and Cypher who has sustained badly broken legs, which one is life threatening. To save himself and his father, Kitai races against the clock as he ventures out into the unknown and unpredictable land that is now Earth as Cypher directs Kitai’s every move from the crashed spacecraft.
Without a doubt the biggest grievance After Earth commits is how the film decides to utilize its biggest asset, Will Smith. The film’s trailer and poster lead you to believe Will Smith is the star of the show, but unfortunately he really isn’t. Instead, Mr. Smith is reduced to basically a voice over role with occasional scene of him grimacing from the pain of his damaged legs. Most screen time is devoted to the younger Smith, Jaden. Although, Jaden isn’t terrible, he’s not ready to carry an entire film himself, not yet anyway. Also, for some odd reason, Will and Jaden display British-like accents that appear and disappear throughout the film.
As I mentioned, After Earth is a sci-fi actioner, but it takes a considerable amount of time getting to any action. Until any combat begins, the film muddles along with long, extended scenes with monotone dialogue with little to no expression from the actors. When the action does begin, it’s fairly consistent and rather entertaining. However, it’s pretty standard fare for a sci-fi action film and brings nothing new to the table.
After Earth is better than a typical Shyamalan directed film. On the other hand, it’s below par for Will Smith flick. However, the film’s redeeming qualities; the father-son relationship dynamic and enjoyable action sequences are not enough to keep it from drowning in a sea of clichéd sci-fi mediocrity.
Top ten special holidays they need to add
by Torry Stiles
10. May Not Day: like May Day only without all the hullaballoo.
9. Roadside Sign-Free Day: At least one day out of the year when there will be NO cheap plastic signs on the side of the road advertising
never-ending “Going Out Of Business” sales.
8. Giant Tenderloin Day: An opportunity to recognize one of America’s greatest contributions to civilization.
7. “You Forgot Didn’t You?” Day: Celebrants greet their significant others with that phrase just to watch them squirm.
6. Otorhinolaryngologist Week: I couldn’t care less about the holiday I just want to watch all the folks on Facebook try to spell it.
5. National Kickball Month: The kids at St. Roch’s are so ready for this.
4. Torry Stiles Appreciation Day: Send me ten funny things… or cash. I’m easy to please.
3. Procrastination Day: They’ve put this one off long enough.
2. Long’s Donuts Free Delivery Day: I am so there.
1. National Nothing Special Here Day: Move along, folks. Just move along.
Fast & Furious 6; insane, over the top and average
From fast food to Nascar to amusement parks claiming to have the fastest ride on earth, one thing about America is abundantly clear: we’re a nation addicted to speed. With a nation seemingly unable to get its fill of speed, it’s not a shock that a film franchise built around speed and adrenaline, the Fast and Furious films, would be so successful. As has become the norm, this summer brings another Fast and Furious film. The latest, Fast & Furious 6, directed by Justin Lin, stars familiar faces Vin Diesel and Paul Walker.
Fast & Furious 6 begins with our anti-heroes, Dominic (Diesel) and Brian (Walker) weaving in and out of traffic, pulling hair pin turns on a narrow thoroughfare. When they reach their destination, what they encounter changes Brian and Dom’s life forever. Soon after this life altering event, Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) approaches Brian and Dominic needing help capturing a group of international criminals wreaking havoc and evading police. Initially, Brian and Dom are uncooperative, but both relent when learning a character previously thought dead may be alive.
The entire gang from Fast Five is off enjoying their new riches in exotic locales with private jets, expensive cars and beautiful women. Their picture perfect life is quickly interrupted when they all are summoned back into action by Brian and Dom. They all drop what they’re doing and the entire squad is reunited. What follows is a film filled with car chases, action, bulging biceps and more testosterone than Lance Armstrong during the Tour de France.
Fast & Furious 6 is peculiarly written and directed. Anyone buying a ticket to a film in the Fast and Furious franchise knows what they are in for; fast cars, car chases and some decent action sequences. And Fast & Furious 6 comes with all of the above in an overwhelming amount and that’s when the film works. But for whatever reason, the story goes off into several tangents that have nothing to do with the central story what so ever. It’s not only distracting, it slows the film and gets away from what made it so successful; the action and car chases. The film also spends an unnecessary large amount of time trying to explain the reappearance of a major character which could have been done in a few scenes.
The story is not bad at all. In fact, despite the undisciplined direction, the story is able to hold your attention. However, the dialogue is very, very bad. Almost all of it consists of characters speaking in usual tough guy cliché’s. The acting is ok, except new comer Gina Carano, who is Razzie- worthy bad.
The Fast and Furious franchise has produced some decent to average films (the original) and some not so great ones (Tokyo Drift ). Fast & Furious 6 starts off on a high note, but as it progresses, the more outrageous and absurd it becomes. Fast & Furious 6 isn’t the worst in the franchise, but it’s not the best either.
Searching through my not-so-smartphone
Why do they call them smart phones? I am in possession of one these so called smart phones and have come to the conclusion that they are not anywhere near as smart as one would be lead to believe. This “smart phone” won’t do a thing I tell it to.
By way of example, it will not talk to any of my other technological doodads. Come to think of it, none of them talk to each other. My oh-so-brilliant smart phone will not trade secrets with my tablet which won’t talk to my two laptops or my desktop. The smart phone will talk to my laptop but it duplicates everything so I have two sets of contacts for every person I know.
Among my arsenal of organizational tools, I have five calendars, four to-do lists, and have lost count of the number of contact files that are stored away in the mass of data spread throughout these machines. It’s kind of like a bunch of little kids on the playground. Each one has a couple of secrets that they think they are the sole possessors of. Fact of the matter is they have the same information but want you to think they and they alone are the sole arbiters of the information one requires. If they do tell you, well, they just don’t.
The other day I needed to find some information on my buddy Doug (he sells insurance on the Southside). I looked in my smartphone to no avail. I turned to both laptops, the desktop at home, and on the tablet. After all that looking, I could not turn up any useable contact information. The smart phone is supposed to be the final arbiter of my life’s collection of friends and colleagues. I even bought the thing a scanner that would read and file business cards. You’d think it would be cooperative. I thought about letting its battery run down once just to teach it a lesson. My buddy, Regina (she is a “nerdette” and also a Southsider), warned me against that. I don’t argue with Regina.
After all that, I managed to dig up Doug’s contact info in a gadget called a phone book. Imagine that.
Scott Emmett lives in Greenwood with his wife, Karen, and an ornery old cat named Toby. Write to Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Top ten thoughts about my 52nd birthday
by Torry Stiles
10. I may never make my mother proud by becoming a doctor but at least I can say I hang out with a lot of them.
9. Nobody even bothers with candles on a cake. I barely have enough breath to blow out a match.
8. I prefer watching the sod grow BELOW me.
7. If I cut anything more out of my diet plan I’ll be better off eating the paper it’s printed on.
6. I find myself worrying if my choice of cane clashes with my shoes and belt.
5. My kids have learned to run as soon as I say, “I remember when…”
4. I’ve lived life less famously but longer than Michael Jackson.
3. Birthday presents are far less important than being present for another birthday.
2. The dogs, cats and pig are NOT happy with the lack of greasy left-overs.
1. I find myself watching those extreme sports shows just to laugh at people stupid enough to intentionally fall down a lot.