An alternative to nuclear power

If the idea of having a nuclear-powered stove in your neighborhood gives you the creeps, especially after Fukushima, take a moment to consider the advantages: a solar oven utilizes the radiant energy given off by the sun, a nuclear furnace 93 million miles away, that cannot be subjected to corporate control, produces no toxic waste that must be disposed of, has no moving parts to break down, requires no security forces to guard it, and generously distributes its awesome power almost everywhere on Earth — for free. No wonder the ancient Egyptians worshiped this entity!

When correctly used, the humble solar oven can provide a carbon-neutral alternative, at least in part, to our dependence on fossil fuels in the home. It is a fact that almost any kind of food can be cooked to perfection in such an oven, as long as the sun shines, regardless of the ambient temperature; and it is especially satisfying to put our abundant sunshine to good use and to do the right thing for the environment — while enjoying home-baked bread, or roast chicken, lasagna, beans, potatoes, vegetables, whatever your imagination provides.

Don and Jack Wallace


Help! All my heroes are f***ing dead!

Nearly everybody writes the most inane crap on Facebook (I went to Starbucks today; “comment” “comment” “comment”) — but I think it’s an opportunity to speak from my own unique, original heart and experienced vision. So here goes:

Frank Zappa gave me my first job in the music business right out of high school. I used to call his office at Barking Pumpkin Records every day until I made friends with him and all his staff. I was hand-picked to handle college radio promotion for Frank — a true honor. He was a true hero (and genius). He listened to me, unlike anyone, and showered me with his wisdom, respect and kindness. I was blessed to have known the man.

But this story is about a dream.

Last night I dreamed I could time travel. In this dream, I was transported back to the radio station where I was booking him for an on-air interview. There was Frank! Alive again!!

OMG — I suddenly started shaking in my dream. It was my hero Frank! Right in front of me! Alive again. … ALIVE! I could see him clear as day. I went to grab my camera but as I was looking through the lens I could see it WASN’T Frank. My heart broke. It was a look alike actor playing Frank. I guess I couldn’t time travel.

OK, so you can’t go backwards in time — in a dream or otherwise — or at least I haven’t figured that one out yet. I broke up … crying. I woke up … crying. With tears in my eyes, I started the gray gloomy morning. A morning without any heroes. All my fucking heroes ARE dead.

My father and Frank both died from cancer on the same day. I lost two heroes on that fateful day. Then amazing 100-year-old Peggy died. She was a huge hero to me.

Don Van Vliet (Captain Beefheart) was my poet hero — his music shaped my generation. But he died last year after a long battle with MS. I spent a summer riding a KZ400 motorcycle all over California’s Mojave Desert, searching in vain for him in the burning sand. But it was a ruse! He actually lived up in Northern California. I was able to track him down with the help of a real estate agent and found him in Trinidad, Calif., innocently gardening in the front yard. At first he was angry to be bothered by a fan. But then he relaxed, and I had the amazing opportunity to interview him on cassette recorder about love, life and the music business, which he was eternally bitter about. Still — he was my hero. And now he’s gone, too.

I wanted Obama to be my hero, but he let me down fast as you can say BP Oil and healthcare, as he supports big corporations instead of regular folks and common sense.

The legendary Ross Jeffries took me under his wing as his publicist when my career took a wild swing into swingville.

But I quickly discovered him to be a shallow tin man instead of a gold. So I quickly abandoned that hero when he was disrespectful to a woman friend of mine.

The Cramps were my bread and butter for years, and were big heroes to me because they spoke their minds through music and friendship. But Lux Interior died last year, and Ivy is way too choked up to perform anymore.

Of course, John Lennon is dead — ain’t nobody left to protest the trillion-dollar war for oil (Iraq) and lithium (Afghanistan) that average folks pay for with school and resource closures, higher fuels and taxes, and worse, the deaths of our hero soldiers — kids who shouldn’t have died for corporations to get richer, heroes I should have met but can’t now. The slogan rings in my ears: Be all you can be, except dead.

OK, so I ain’t got crap in the way of heroes right at this moment. I ain’t got nothing but freaking scraps. A mind full of torn-up scraps. Memories, old photos and treasured CDs and a few well-played scratchy vinyl records.

All my fucking heroes are dead. So I resolve myself to find some new heroes in this messed-up world. I wonder where to look first. What rock should I lift? Where are today’s heroes? I need something to look forward to, to make this life worth living. I need to get myself a handful of heroes to look up to. I need to have a wise guru deserving of my respect.

I need some heroes. And fast …

Michael V.

The Secret Poet


It’s not the unions …

Paul Moomjean has shown once again that he lives in a fact-free universe dominated by ideology and based in mythology (Right Persuasion, 4-7). Mr. Moomjean yearns for that wonderful world free of the Department of Education and 100 percent local control. Well, America lived in that world, and we have an excellent history of the results. In 1957, the Soviet Union confirmed Isaac Newton’s 17th century gravitational theory that an object traveling fast enough will circle the earth, with the successful orbiting of Sputnik. America’s best high schools were teaching in senior math classes, solid geometry as defined by Euclid 2,500 years ago. Over the next five years, with federal funding, a national restructuring of the high school curriculum in math, physics and chemistry was completed. Math moved to 19th century calculus and 20th century set theory. Physics, chemistry and biology all moved to 20th century science.

In America, the average worker changes jobs every five years and moves every seven years. With the wonders of 100 percent local control of education, California kids were often set back one year when they moved to states with more advanced curriculum, and conversely, students from some of the more backward states were held back one year to catch up. The result of this chaos was high drop-out rates and demands for reform. Mr. Moomjean ignores the frustrated students and angry parents who were created in his dream world.

As to Mr. Moomjean’s constant anti-union nonsense, there is a paradigm of business, a company gets the union it deserves. Look at former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s history. Outstanding college graduate, Stanford Law School graduate and classmate of William Rehnquist. Only one law firm offered her a job, as a secretary! Tens of thousands of bright young women of that era had only teaching as an opportunity to earn a living using their educations. Today, they have many more opportunities, teaching must compete with wages and benefits, and has not kept close. Tax cuts have gutted funding for education at the same time that increased wages are needed to compete for the best and brightest. The unions today do little more than try to preserve what they have.

Norman Rodewald