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My river contact and social media friend C.R. Neale, whose family-owned business near Vienna, West Virginia, moves barges around on the Ohio and Little Kanawha rivers, gave us the Facebook post of the year this week.

He took a photo from the pilothouse of the boat he was steering. You could see nine loaded coal barges being moved to a fleeting area where six more waited. The caption: “Putting together 15 loads of electric car fuel, all this will be charging your cars in a couple days.”

That sums up the reality of the talk of zero-emission vehicles. Electric cars run on batteries, and until the electricity grid that recharges those batteries is totally powered by renewables and nuclear power, talk of zero-emission vehicles is a lie.

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A few days ago I was walking past a sandwich shop when I saw a sign in the window advertising for workers. The shop offered beginning pay of $10 an hour. Hmm, I thought. That’s two gallons of gasoline. If you live a few miles away, you might be spending an hour’s after-tax earnings on fuel.

No wonder some places are having trouble finding people to work for them. The cost of working is going up faster than wages.

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On my computer at home is a spreadsheet of gasoline purchases for my truck since March 2021. I’m behind on inputting the more recent numbers, but I do have enough data to describe the difference a year makes.

In June 2021, I averaged $2.81 per gallon. In July the average had risen to $2.97.

We can argue over who is to blame for the fact many of us are paying nearly $5 a gallon now. High on the list are COVID-19 restrictions that curtailed travel to the point some refineries shut down for lack of business and, because of the political climate that aims to eliminate the use of fossil fuels, refiners won’t justify spending millions to put them back on line for what could be only a few years of use.

As one person put it, the whole system of refining and marketing gasoline, diesel fuel and other fuels had been on the edge of chaos before the war in Ukraine upended everything and pushed the petroleum-based fuel system into unknown territory.

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Changing gears here: For a while my online news feeds were filling up with links to articles and videos of kids going to drag queen dances at bars and of drag queen story hours in public schools and public libraries. People argue over how early children should begin gender transition therapy. Meanwhile, unstable people who are angry at something buy a rifle and shoot kids in school.

Why can’t we leave little kids alone while adults work out their differences and their problems? Nine-year-olds shouldn’t be obsessing over gender identity and situation awareness. They should be taking walks in the woods or playing basketball in the back yard or out riding bikes. Let them grow a little garden so they can see the time and effort it takes to make a real tomato. If guns are available, let an adult show them what guns really are — not props in an unrealistic movie shootout.

Children will have plenty of time to form their opinions on adult matters when they’re a little older. Let’s leave them out of our fights.

Jim Ross is development and opinion editor of The Herald-Dispatch. His email address is

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