My loving wife bought me a BioLite stove for Christmas. She was excited because she had found
We have used the BioLite for a while now and like it a lot, but are amazed by some of the negative reviews and comments. It’s too heavy and not ideal for backpacking. It does not charge electronic devices very quickly and you have to keep feeding it wood. It is slower to heat water than some stoves and is often very smoky.
A few of these criticisms are on some level warranted and some not. Take the smoky comment, for instance, the BioLite is not a magical device and I suspect those who made smoky fires in a BioLite might also do the same in their fireplaces or woodstoves. Fire making is as much a science as it is an art form that involves the use of good, dry wood and often the fuel addition timing sense of a practiced comedian delivering a punchline. Creative color schemes and clever designs do not change the nature of combustion. To think otherwise misses much of the essence of what fires are and have been for mankind across tens of thousands of years.
The wielders of these criticisms really and fundamentally miss the point. The BioLite is remarkable not because it is the best, lightest, or the swiftest stove or the whizz-bang fastest charger. It is remarkable because of the thought behind the device and the philosophy expressed through its design and the company's business plan. It makes me wonder what these same folks would have said at Kitty Hawk or during the rocky formation of this country.
Some might think it silly or inappropriate for me to compare the US to a spiffy, albeit imperfect, camping stove but please consider that the BioLite is a progressive product that looks towards a better future state for itself while encouraging change elsewhere around the globe. This is much like what the founding fathers intended with their actions either consciously or unconsciously. Although many would try to cast US founding fathers in a conservative light, launching a democracy in a sea of kingdoms was a pretty radical leap.
The BioLite is also a product that is criticized by those holding on to the status quo like steroid-dosed limpets which is reminiscent of criticism the rebelling colonists were subject to more than a couple of centuries ago. We often forget that only 40-45 percent of colonists openly supported the rebellion and they were heavily criticized by the 15-20 percent who seemed fine with maintaining themselves in a taxed, but unrepresented state and were unwilling to rock the boat.
And the BioLite needs to be maintained and adjusted during operation for it to work as intended. So too does a democracy formed in response to a distant government too beholding to commercial interests, ultra-sensitive to a particular class, and inextricably linked to a single church. Each time we deviate from the “We the People” model by allowing or enabling corporations, a class, or a church to recapture elements of this past power on our soil we must correct that situation just as we put in smaller twigs, use dryer sticks, or blow on failing and air-starved embers in our tiny stove.
We have had to rekindle the fire of our democracy repeatedly over the course of the past two centuries. The Civil War exploded in part because some confused “states’ rights” with the personal rights expressed by the “We the People” phrase and expanded upon in the Preamble of the Constitution. Theodore Roosevelt adjusted too in the early 1900s when he worked to wrest power away from certain snowballing corporations and the so-called robber barons bent on treating our natural resources as theirs and making America a playground for their abuses and excesses. And we adjusted again during the Great Depression in the 1930s and also during the Civil Rights struggles in the 1960s to make sure that institutions and programs were in place to protect people from peril and mistreatment as well as to further memorialize elements of the Preamble.
Right now our “stove” is smoking mightily. The corporations expelled at least twice from power in this country have become re-empowered by our inability to curb campaign contributions and quickly reverse the Citizens’ United decision. These corporate-led initiatives are increasingly perverting our political system in order to reduce regulations and once again grant themselves the unfettered access to our resources they once enjoyed. It is obviously a serious problem when entities established and forgiven taxes because they serve the “public good” are able to place themselves in a position where they greatly influence those who define public good.
In addition, some members of the billionaire class seem to be rejecting the idea of making this country more vibrant and sustainable in favor of sponsoring candidates who more resemble gladiators swinging swords of fear, ignorance, and hatred as distractions away from the material damage of their fiscal, foreign, and environmental policies. At times it seems like those bankrolling candidates are playing a cynical game where the prize goes to the one who can get the most outrageous and least qualified candidates elected.
If any gentleman supposes this controversy [about an American Anglican bishop] to be nothing to the present purpose, he is grossly mistaken. It spread a universal alarm against the authority of Parliament. It excited a general and just apprehension that bishops and dioceses and churches and priests and tithes were to be imposed upon us by Parliament. It was known that neither king nor ministry nor archbishops could appoint bishops in America without an act of Parliament; and if Parliament could tax us they could establish the Church of England with all its creeds, articles, tests, ceremonies, and tithes, and prohibit all other churches as conventicles and schism shops. . . . John Adams in a letter to Hezekiah Niles regarding the American Revolution February 13, 1818And then we have the church. While religion seems to be a waning interest in the coming generation and we see elsewhere in the world the problems associated with countries ruled by religion, some elected officials and candidates seem intent on making Christianity the state religion once again and even—in some extreme cases—suggesting that church attendance be mandatory. That a formerly influential Congressman would publicly make the specious claim that God wrote the Constitution and that it is based on the Bible—a document that contains absolutely no mention of democracy anywhere—without broad dismay and outrage seems simply bizarre and troubling in a country so firmly and purposely constructed to separate church from state (see Tom Delay video below).
So the three Cs that served in part as catalysts for the American Revolution (i.e., corporations, class, and church) are all now running rampant in the country that was constructed expressly to be insulated from these sorts of often abusive influences. Moreover, forces within these elements are working overtime to convince intellectually vulnerable segments of the population to argue against their own self interests. The Cliven Bundy incident and the emerging situation with the out-of-compliance miners in Oregon are perfect examples with the Oath Keepers and the III Percenters (see III Percenters rant here) fully strapped with weaponry and disturbing t-shirts as well as a manufactured paranoia that is simply stunning.
|Congress is not a reflection of the American people. That is a huge problem in a democracy.|
government assistance, and exploiting trade agreements that have contributed mightily to our trade deficit and the shipping of American jobs overseas. Likewise, the Koch Brothers have capitalized on our general acceptance of the externalization of environmental costs of corporations (i.e., impacts on our air and water quality) and are using part of their gains to make themselves even more unaccountable for these impacts in the future. In addition, the public good of American corporations (i.e., the rationale for them to be forgiven taxes at public expense) in terms of employment and prosperity becomes extremely questionable when the CEOs of these entities are rewarded too handsomely for cutting jobs and shipping functions overseas.
Corporate CEO (and senior management) compensation has to be controlled too as it makes little sense to argue that a corporation that pays their CEO several hundred times what they pay their average employees is making prudent use of their revenues with an eye towards creating jobs and public good. The last figure I saw indicated that corporate CEOs in the Standard and Poor’s 500 make 354 times what their rank and file employees make. Limit that to just 100 times and you would create employment room for 127,000 folks just at those 500 companies. There are something like 2.5 million traditional “C” corporations in the US. While not all follow the compensation patterns of these 500, it does not take a degree in economics to understand that a very large number of Americans could benefit from this sort of adjustment. (This is not in any way a condemnation of capitalism, it is rather a commentary on a broken system and abuse of public trust.)
|After roughly 20 days of use we are still learning about our BioLite and |
perfecting methods. It lets me know when I am not diligent. And
that is just fine with me.