Tuesday, December 18, 2007

NYT Year of Ideas Rabbi Reflections

Every year, for 7 years. the New York Times Magazine has a YEAR OF IDEAS issue.
Great Opportunity for Jewish reflections. Here is my first set.
1. Alzheimer's Telephone screeing-test of cognitive vital signs. A test like this should be as common as talking blood pressure.
RR We need a Jewish telephone test to determine basic Jewish knowledge and fill in holes

2. Appendix rationale Until this year "Medicine thought it was useless. It is a safehouse for healthy bacteria. When our gut is ravaged by disease, the appendix quietly goes to work
repopulating the gut with healthy baceteria. A reboot function. We can stay alive today without it because modern hygeiene and medicine."
Rabbi Reflects a. rationale/ metaphor for Jewish knowledge and prayer literacy. Substitute words soul for gut. b. Never assume because you think a Jewish tradition is "a shrunken reminder of some organ our ancestors required.In a word "useless" is true.

3. Best way to deflect an asteroid"-not much of a chance but if it happened it would be horrible. Scientists keep working on it.
RR My first thought-Iran. Even if US Intelligence reports are right, we need to be planning as if they aren't.

4 Biodegradable coffins-Paper stresses the simplicy and green nature. "Who needs embalming, cement vaults, ." RR coming around to the Jewish way

5. Biofuels
Unlocking its complex compounds of sugars, whose potential yield is 4 times that of corn on a gallons-per-acre basis, typically requires an aggressive, four-step thermo-chemical process. Taken together, these steps have been too costly or too energy intensive for cellulosic fuel production to become economically viable. Cracking the conundrum of plant cell walls cheaply has become a Brigadoon-like dream that has been “5 years away,” as one wry observer put it, “for the last 30 years.”
Until now — at least if you believe Vinod Khosla, one of the best-known venture capitalists in America, who was a founder of Sun Microsystems and an early investor in Google, and who has in recent years invested hundreds of millions of dollars into a dozen different biofuel companies using new and potentially revolutionary techniques...
According to Khosla, within the next two decades, petroleum, which accounts for 40 percent of the current total energy use in the United States, can be entirely replaced by biofuels. That’s a half-trillion-dollar market. In a kind of biofuels roulette, Khosla, a man with a big stack of chips, has covered the table with many different bets. One of them seems bound to hit, which would be a Google-like home run for Khosla and would similarly revolutionize life for the rest of us.

RR and help wean us off Arab oil.

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