R.I.P. Anatoly Dobrynin, Malcolm McLaren — and 29 W.V. coal miners at

I awoke this morning to word of two notable deaths. Anatoly Dobrynin, the  Soviet Union’s longtime ambassador to the US, and Malcolm McLaren, who spawned the Sex Pistols and the accompanying roil of the English punk movement. Mr. Dobrynin was 90, McLaren was 64. Both affected my life (and yours) in innumerable ways, effectively making a ripple in the universe through their lives. McLaren helped changed the sound of Western culture, and gave us some great music. Dobrynin helped ensure that we would still be alive to enjoy it.

Of course, I cannot overlook the apparent deaths of at least 25, if not 29 miners, in the explosion that happened in a southern West Virginia coal mine on Monday. A political cartoon in yesterday’s Journal Sentinel that showed a man marveling over his new iPad, exclaiming about how “eco-friendly” it is. Meanwhile, a tiny coal miner was standing on the device’s power cord that was plugged into the wall.

I had a similar thought. Sure, it’s great to have cell phones and laptops, and computers and the Internet in general. But it all takes electricity to operate. We get most of our power from coal, with all of its incumbent drawbacks and defects. While we’re not going to get away from coal any time soon, we need to start the process of doing so. Installing a small solar panel on the roof would supply much of the electricity our laptops use, though I wonder how much the DVR underneath our TV uses. It’s always on, spinning up to do something, and producing a lot of heat. That’s wasted energy.

Not sure where this is going now. Save the coal miners through solar energy? Hmm. Need a better slogan.

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Author: Jason Haas

Jason is an elected member of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, occasionally moonlights as an amateur gardener, and is a proud father of two, or three, depending on how you do the math.

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