Thursday, May 17, 2012

Martha is a dancer. She was dancing before she was born. She dances through her childhood. She dances through her career.

Dance is the perfect subject to explore the physical reality of our lives. Dance is an activity that excites the dynamics of involvement while minimizing disruptions. Typically, society advices individuals that disruptions can only be avoided through compromise, acquiescence, subjugation and abnegation. Dance demonstrates how life may be pursued to the vigorous extremes while maintaining harmony. There is no more perfect melding of robust exertion and intricate expression in human nature.

Through dance, strength is presented not through a capacity for destruction, but rather the ability to maintain a composure that can withstand the extremes of physical and creative expression. Dance demonstrates the ability to broaden the limits of liberated movement, not through reckless abandon, but through gracious balance, dedicated integrity and bold aspiration. Dance is more than the refinement of the human physique; dance is the refinement of the human character.

This poem, Martha, is a lyrical narrative depicting an art that is not about life, but is life as this life is lived by a dancer.


{the dance begins}

Upon the stage, Martha stands in her place
and waits.  Her body is lunging to move
in every direction at once.  Beyond the curtain,
the clatter of clapping then a sudden hush. 
The conductor stands upon the podium,
a glowing figure in the darkness before
the sparkling polish of the instruments. 
At one moment, there is perfect silence,
as if space was the surface of a placid lake.
The speaker announces, “In humanity
I see grace, beauty and dignity.
Here.  Let me show you.”  Then the curtain
lifts with the rush of Niagara.  The music
moves, filling the openness with consoling
tones, a melody of the woods twirling
ribbons of wind and gently, the dance begins.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Carbon Market Diamond Mine

With the development of new techniques of extracting hydrocarbons, particularly natural gas, we are gaining a windfall in the energy market. However, the continued burning of fossil fuels will only exasperate our carbon problems if we continue belching the exhaust into the atmosphere.

Let us consider “waste” not as a nuisance but as an unrecognized resource. An abundance of carbon could easily sustain the development of new markets, new industries and completely transform our means of manufacturing. What is now considered pollution could be recognized as a highly prized and versatile construction material.

We have long recognized the value of carbon throughout our lives, not simply from the fact that we are carbon based organisms, but through a variety of applications from the graphite in pencils to the diamond tips of drill bits. Recently, we have been discovering even more valuable uses of carbon. Carbon can be constructed into Fullerenes for uses in the electronic, pharmaceutical and numerous other industries. Carbon fiber can be made for various applications ranging from plush clothing to building materials that are stronger than steel.

The new abundance of hydrocarbons could be utilized to fund the construction of new power plants that would capture carbon exhaust and sell it for various manufacturing purposes, thus eliminating waste. I realize that the byproduct of hydrocarbon combustion is carbon dioxide which makes a molecular bond that is difficult for us to break. However, vegetative life on earth has been breaking this tenacious bond with nothing more than solar power for millions of years through the process of photosynthesis. There are always practical means for accomplishing anything. In fact, Dr. Yun Hang Hu and his research team at Michigan Technological University have already discovered a way to convert Carbon Dioxide gas into a solid material that can be utilized as an industrial manufacturing material.

Then, with these power plants, we would have a new source of electricity that would empower every aspect of our lives. Consider the transformation of our transportation industry by completely converting to electric vehicles. On long trips, we simply drive onto the interstate that propels vehicles with magnetic pulses over long distances. Then upon reaching the proximity of our destination, we exit the interstate and switch to battery power to drive directly to our specific destination. Then, we would be practically eliminating our carbon footprint while not sacrificing the convenience of private liberties in transportation by personal vehicles.

In manufacturing, factories could be automated so that they produced on demand practically any product with carbon fiber. These factories could be continually refined and placed more locally and eventually even within one’s own home. If you need a new set of dishware, no problem. If you need a screwdriver to fix that doorknob or just need a new doorknob, no problem. Just purchase the carbon, the energy and the design (or make your own design) and you instantly have a new set. When you’re finished with the set, just recycle the carbon. This adjustment in the manufacturing industry would relieve people from the insufferable monotony of assembly work in factories and create a new demand for technicians and programmers, and thus providing more people with more skilled and gratifying jobs while increasing efficiency in production.

The important point is that this new source of energy we are beginning to tap into should not be wasted as another pool of fuel to burn. Rather, this resource could be used to create and sustain a new ecology of ideas and innovation. We could easily use this power source to reduce pollution while revitalizing the manufacturing industry, employ and engage more scientists, while further engaging developing fields such as nanotechnology. This is an important opportunity for civilization and life on planet earth. Let’s not let it go up in smoke.

Garrett Buhl Robinson

I would like to extend my thanks to Dr. Robert C. Thomas for his professional advice regarding certain points made in this article and Trent Deike for informing me of the work done by Dr. Yun Hang Hu and his research team. Any inaccuracies in the article are the responsibility of the author alone.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Praise for the PEN Literary Festival.  This event has drawn writers from all over the world and provides them with a platform to express their perspectives, culturally and individually, to a receptive audience.  As we continue to develop the global community we recognize that our relations may only be established, developed and sustained through understanding.  Events such as this provide the opportunity for the greatest number of people to be exposed to the greatest diversity of perspectives for the principle aim of understanding.  There are no greater ambassadors for any culture than the individuals who have dedicated their lives to master their art of articulating the ideas and experiences of their lives and communities.  This is truly a great event.