Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “Washington Post”

Starving Writer

Yahoo’s Financially Fit Website recently ran a number of articles about people living on very little income. One particular story grabbed my attention.

” … we tracked down Joseph Fonseca, a writer currently living in Seattle who supports himself on $20,000 a year. Fonseca, 28, authored a first-person piece in the Washington Post over the weekend describing his “10 cities, 10 years” project, in which he moves every year and starts over in a new town. An aspiring novelist, he plans to eventually write a book about his quest.”

Joseph Fonseca - seriously committed to getting published

Most of the article deals with how he budgets and lives on such little money. You can catch that part here. But what struck me is how far we are willing to go to realize our dreams of becoming authors. I rarely go to bed before midnight and am up by 6.30 in the morning. I realize that I am extremely blessed to have a loving family and a job that inspires me, so please don’t take this the wrong way. but the drive to write and get my books out to the world is immense. Outside of work and family, I have little tolerance for anything that take my time away from writing.

I was recently told by a well-known agent that, while he liked my work and me personally, he would not work with me because I am not willing to make my ambition of being a widely-read author my only goal. I protested that I have a family and a meaning job, to which he agreed that these were all very important, but that is not what he requires of his authors. He, I realize now, would prefer me to be the starving author like Mr. Fonseca.

I hold on to my dream and will realize it while balancing my responsibilities to family and work. I will burn the clock and continue to set and pursue the goals I seek to make it work. I keep telling myself that it is good to be multifaceted. But I would love to have a beer with a guy like Joseph Fonseca, especially when he writes sentences like this:

“To retire requires having a career to retire from. My ambition is to be a writer, and I’d love to be writing into my old age, to be like Vonnegut and write until the day I die. “

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

Nuclear Energy – A Green Goal?

“In the early 1970s when I helped found Greenpeace, I believed that nuclear energy was synonymous with nuclear holocaust, as did most of my compatriots. That’s the conviction that inspired Greenpeace’s first voyage up the spectacular rocky northwest coast to protest the testing of U.S. hydrogen bombs in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. Thirty years on, my views have changed, and the rest of the environmental movement needs to update its views, too, because nuclear energy may just be the energy source that can save our planet from another possible disaster: catastrophic climate change.”

Very credible scientists are wearing this T-shirt.

So begins Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, currently chairman and chief scientist of Greenspirit Strategies Ltd., in an article published in the Washington Post. Mr. Moore goes on to address the dangers of nuclear proliferation (he wrote this article days after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that his country had enriched uranium), and Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island nuclear power plant reactor core meltdown “that sent shivers of very real anguish throughout the country.”

Interestingly, he considers the damage done at Three Mile Island to be a success in terms of its containment and eventual net damage done. This is interesting as I have quoted over the past week or so, other experts who offer the same response in regard to what transpired in Japan.

He also quotes a study (I can’t find the source) that finds that 80% of the people living within 10 miles of the US nuclear plants are in favor of their use. This statistic does not include those employed at the nuclear power plants). I want to assume that these people did their due diligence and didn’t just jump at low house prices (it’s all about location!).

Finally he offers a number of ‘stars’ from the environmental world who support nuclear energy, including British atmospheric scientist James Lovelock, father of the ‘Gaia’ theory, Stewart Brand, founder of the “Whole Earth Catalog,” and the late British Bishop Hugh Montefiore, founder and director of Friends of the Earth. Incidentally, Bishop Montefiore was forced to resign from Friends of the Earth’s board of directors when he authored a pro-nuclear article in a church newsletter.

More bumper sticker wisdom?

Moore does highlight many serious problems with pursuing nuclear power. While I list them below, his article goes into more detail.

– nuclear power is expensive

– power plants are not safe and there is the potential of a natural disaster

– power plants are vulnerable targets for terrorist attacks

– we do not have proven solutions to get rid of nuclear waste

– the move from a nuclear energy program to a nuclear arms program is a short one

Finally, for those of you less interested in plowing through a article, here is a 17-minute talk from Stewart Brand. He actually deals with more than just nuclear power in his speech, but it is fascinating.

Can we envisage nuclear energy as a green source of energy after what happened in Japan?

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

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