The Consequences of Pulling out of the Middle East – 03/29/2015 (#181)
The Middle East is a very confusing place with complex political, religious, cultural, and boundary disputes. It is this very complex multidimensional aspect that is so difficult for anyone to understand making peace so problematic for the U.S. and even people living in that region. It is the U.S. failure to appreciate the complexities of such human behaviors and interactions in the Middle East that has led to our continuing attempts to unsuccessfully solve the problem of stability over there using primarily military means. The best thing we can do is withdraw all our troops from that part of the world. Pulling out of the Middle East will be no different. There will be a power vacuum that needs to be filled. Various militant and religious factions such as ISIS will want to fill that vacuum.
What do we have to fear from ISIS and Al Qaeda Terrorist – 03/27/2015 (#180)
Let us suppose the U.S. government decided that enough was enough and totally withdrew all military presence in the Middle East. What proponents of the war here fear most is that this would allow ISIS to increase (start) terrorist activities in the U.S. because they hate us so much for killing so many of their countrymen that all they want is revenge. Let us consider how reasonable this assumption is. First of all I am assuming that ISIS leaders are smart and rational men as we have seen of Al Qaeda leaders. Though there are some here who do not believe this the evidence is quite strong. One must wonder why ISIS terrorist have not yet struck on U.S. soil.
Do We have a Moral Right? – 03/25/2015 (#179)
Since the 1950s we have had political/economic interests and a military presence in the Middle East. It is no secret now that we are there because of Oil. In our self-interest we have attempted to maintain stability in that region so that the price of oil would remain under control. In spit of our claim of being civilized we seem to have a proclivity towards war and violence. I am sure that those who have been victimized by our civilized manner do not see us in the same light. So what Moral Right do we have for spending more money on killing people than education or any other worthy cause at home? The question of Moral Right begs an answer. I am Not asking if Arabs have a Moral Right to terrorize us. I’m asking does a civilized nation such as the U.S. have a Moral Right to impose its military might on other nations abroad who originally posed little danger to our nation?
Sustainable – 02/12/2015 (#178)
All living organisms on earth with the exception of man unknowingly obey Darwin’s theory of Evolution. Man has global impact due to his mobility and the shear volume of his pollution. That is because of man’s ability to create his own environment by consuming an enormous variety and amount of global resources just to build his communities. Medical science has made it possible to reduce the mortality rate of young, defective, and weak human beings to such an extent that his population continues to increase from 1 billion in 1800 to over 7 billion today in a little over 200 years and there is little letup as it increases by almost a billion every 15 years.
Doctors in the Future – 02/07/2015 (#176)
For the last century medical doctors have gained great respect and value in society because of their contributions to alleviating suffering, generally improving our quality of life, and prolonging human life. As a result they have commanded high salaries in relation to other professionals. However because of recent government and insurance requirements that doctors convert over to computerizing all of their records of tests, symptoms, diagnosis, and notes a database is quickly being built up that will aid networked computers in doing many of the important diagnostic services doctors used to do. So the writing is on the wall.
More Bicycles, Not Cars – 01/12/2015 (#175)
In 2012 33,561 people lost their lives to car accidents. Most people drive their cars less than 5 miles to shop or do other tasks. Our dependence upon cars is complete almost to the exclusion of other modes of transportation such as walking, biking, or public transportation. Yet in other countries bicycles are the major mode of transportation, not only in under developed nations but also in highly developed nations such as Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, and other norther European countries. These nations realize the negative impact of cars in terms of safety, pollution, and dependence upon oil so they have emphasized the use of biking with supporting infrastructure.
New Year’s Resolution for 2015 – 01/07/2015 (#173)
Most years in the past I have not typically made New Years resolutions because I have never been able to keep them. Now it my waning years my New Years resolution is always the same, not to physically or mentally do worst that the previous year. But of course these are not realistic expectations as my body progressively get older and less able to repair the normal ware and tear of the former year.
Consequences of a Car-centric Culture – 11/21/2014 (#172)
I heard it said that a 9/11 number of car related deaths occurs every month. More people are killed by cars than in all our wars and gun related shootings. Car related death is the leading cause of fatality among children. This is probably not a big surprise to anyone but why shouldn’t we be alarmed? Car deaths and injuries have great economic and emotional cost to those affected by it. It’s primarily because of our total dependency upon cars. America over the last 100 years has become a car-centric culture. Pedestrians and bikers use our roadways at their own peril. Kids no longer walk or bike to school or play in my city. They are driven everywhere by parents because our streets have become too dangerous for such activities. When I was young I used to bike and walk everywhere.
Thinking of Things – 11/19/2014 (#171)
As I write more posts it gets harder to find topics. I try to stay away from current news items and posts those opinions under Discussions on my Home page. But sometime I feel certain news items deserving of more attention so I address them as a post but more as a general topic unto itself rather than a discuss of the specific item in the news. I have a modest readership. I am surprised at my international appeal. I have learned quite a bit about myself as well as the world around me while writing. Writing hasn’t always come easy. I have dyslexia so I’ve never seriously seen how others write.
POT Controversy – 11/07/2014 (#170)
POT is becoming increasingly accepted in various municipalities and states throughout our nation, just as with many other taboo issues such as LGBT rights, as social acceptance standards and mythical perceptions are dispelled. It has been argued for decades that POT will lead to more serious drug use, but research has shown that this is no more true than alcohol leading to harder drugs. The medical harm and addictive effects of POT have been proven to be less than alcohol and cigaret smoking and highs experienced by users to impair their senses far less than alcohol. It is time to decriminalize it and treat it just as we do cigarets and alcohol. Billions of dollars are spent annually on cost with no revenue opportunities that could better spent on education just enforcing senseless marijuana laws.
The Value of Life – 11/05/2014 (#169)
There is a belief that every life is priceless. Our culture at home is built around this belief. Murder is considered one of the worst crimes with the harshest punishment. Suicides are illegal and considered murder and unsuccessful attempts treated as mental illness. On the other hand we have no qualms about sending our young troops who have great prospects for a future in harms way to, if necessary, die in the service of their country and deliberately attack and kill human beings made of the same flesh and bones as ourselves other than living abroad and believing in a different religion. So in truth life is not priceless.
Negative Political Campaigns are unDemocratic – 10/31/2014 (#168)
Somehow negative campaigns turn me off as I am getting older but unfortunately I see how effective they can be. But they are very distracting and confusing as political campaigns tend to be. With PACs and Super-PACs and now the ability of rich individuals and corporations to contribute almost endless amounts of money to their favorite candidates, parties and voting issues as part of free expression political campaigns are very big business. And as such candidate hires very pricy spin-doctors whose job it is to make their candidate look godlike and their opponents look like pure evil campaigns get uglier and uglier. This is truly a tragedy that Democracy is no longer about the truth about candidates but about winning. That is why we have a Congress that is so inept.
Anger, An All Too Common Response – 10/27/2014 (#167)
In the last few days we heard news of a mass student shooting in a school in Washington and two policemen killed in a senseless shootout in California due to anger expressed through the barrel of a guns. Every day in the U.S. an average of 289 people are shot. But gun violence is only one of the many acts of anger. Expressing anger is far too common a response when confronted with situations we have difficulty dealing with. When we can’t resolve a situation to our satisfaction we act out. It seems we need to humble ourselves and stop getting so angry both as a society with so much gun violence and as a nation of so much war.
Ebola: Fight-or-Flight – 10/25/2014 (#166)
Survival by flight when confronting an unknown threat or overwhelming foe is one of man’s strongest survival instincts. In the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa there are many who demand that the only course of action is to contain this deadly disease by isolate the nations where it is ravaging by closing boarders and ban flights from these areas or even the entire continent of Africa. On the surface this seems reasonable. Closing the boarders to Nigeria, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone will simply cause people in fear of contracting Ebola to cross the borders to other African nations illegally and spread it unchecked not knowing where it is coming from or going. As it rapidly spreads throughout there were be not enough world resources to contain and treat it from spreading throughout the world.
Taking So Much for Granted – 10/22/2014 (#165)
We all do many kinds of things daily without giving much thought to how convenient they are. Often we do them automatically without recollection of doing them. Thirty years ago I visited the rural farming village in China where my father was born. Things there are very much like they were over 100 years earlier… So when I occasionally think about all the things I take so much for granted in my daily life I think back to that visit long ago to that very poor farm village in China where life was much closer to its basic elements. I feel so lucky to have been born in American and not that village.
Time to Embrace Diversity – 10/20-2014 (#164)
Though social and ethnic diversity has always been part of the American landscape it hasn’t always been generally embraced. Much of this nation is still struggling to recognize the richness and contributions that diversity inherent brings. Majority groups often feel threatened by the intrusion of other social influences such as members of the LGBT community or the physically or mentally handicapped or the Black community. This nation was created with a vision mirrored in the Constitution reflecting the openness, freedom, equality, and diversity so lacking under British rule. The Bill of Rights further embraces and protects the diversity of man to believe as they wished, speak their mines freely, and peruse their dreams and aspirations. The founders of this nation were extraordinarily perceptive in their vision for a perfect nation. They realized that the diversity of citizens would make this nation great. The diversity of each ethnicity, culture, lifestyle, and beliefs in a free environment in totality makes for a far more enriching society.
Really Clean Nuclear Energy for the Near Future – 10/18/2014 (#163)
After all the bad press nuclear power received after the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster in March 2011 the world community has become paranoid about the use of nuclear power in spite of the rarity of nuclear accidents. But there are several old but newer technologies for generating nuclear power that are even safer. I have already written about breeder reactor technology. Another developing nuclear technology called Fusion emits a modest amount of radiation only while in operation and produces no radioactive byproducts. Two deuterium atoms, a heavier isotope of hydrogen having two neutrons instead of one, fuse together (Fusion) to produce ordinary helium gas releasing millions of times more energy than the most powerful conventional explosive. Lockheed Martin believes it can have an ultra-compact 100 megawatt Fusion reactor and generator that could be transported on a semi-trailer flatbed operating in ten years. This would generate enough electricity to run a very large aircraft carrier or thousands of homes.
Obama’s Weakness and Failures – 10/13/2014 (#162)
My favorite presidents are Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson. What these presidents had in common were a very turbulent presidency, the skills to work behind the scenes with an often hostile congress to barter for legislation important to them, and figuring how best to get very difficult things done. When President Obama was first elected he had a much less hostile congress to work with. He was able to pass the Affordable Care Act, something other presidents had failed to do. But he was not an especially skilled politician familiar with the art of negotiating. His skills were far more adept at going out to the public to ask for their support. This won him the Presidency in two elections. But this alienated him from Congress. Legislation is at the heart of making government work which Congress owned.
Mixing Religious Moral Values with Government – 10/11/2014 (#161)
The 1st Amendment of the Bill of Rights to the Constitution of the United States clearly states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …” This is referred to as the Separation of Church from State and Freedom of Religion. Interestingly the separation of church from state is the very first Right of all rights listed in the Bill of Rights. Unfortunately some fundamentalist Christian groups still do not believe in the separation of church from state as defined in the 1st Amendment. They believe that the laws of God takes precedence over man’s laws.
Legislators Not Doing their Jobs – 10/05/2014 (#160)
This election we have five state initiatives on our ballot. There are elections in which we have many more. Some of these initiatives are submitted by our legislature to voters to vote on and are often quite technically complex and beyond the ability of an average literate voter to understand. With all the deceptive political ads by special interest groups constantly bombarding voters they are often thoroughly confused about what they are voting on. There are simply too many problems letting the public vote on legislation. This is largely a problem with legislators who are too lazy to take responsibility of doing their jobs of legislating. Democracy is all about being informed voters. When voters are uninformed or make decisions based upon false or deceptive information then Democracy fails because government no longer represent the will of voters.
The Big Bang: Dark Matter and Dark Energy 10/03/2014 (#159)
This Post is a departure from my normal posts as it is about Theoretical Physics. One of my fascinations about science is the origin of the universe and the theorized existence of Dark Matter and Dark Energy. These concepts have gained more attention and popularity among scientists and science buffs in recent years. What I am about to describe is for those who know nothing about these concepts. Some of the discussions are not entirely scientifically accurate because very complex concepts involving very high level math are being greatly simplified to make them easier to understand as well as my own limited understanding.
Values Encompassing Expressions of Love – 09/30/2014 (#158)
The following are my personal values encompassing expressions of Love, not what Love is. There are several different definitions of Love but the one I am focusing upon is an acknowledgment of all the Love and good I have experienced in life and my desire to enable Love to my fellow man throughout the world. My Home page states four primary values of Love by which I try to live. Love has little value unless expressed in actions. Love for me is all about caring and being engaged and invested in making this a better world for all.
Terrorism: Pure Evil or a Matter of Perspective? 09/27/2014 (#157)
According to the dictionary terrorism is “the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.” Wikipedia expands upon the definition as “those violent acts that are intended to create fear (terror); are perpetrated for a religious, political, or ideological goal; and deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants.” Most ordinary people living in Iraq simply want to be left alone to make a humble living. They don’t know what freedom means nor is it important to them. They simply want to be left alone to live out their lives. Being shot at and bombed terrorizes them to death. So there are some who hate us and want to rid their nation of these foreign terrorist who killed and maim their family member. Some have lost their families and have nothing to live for so are willing to fight evil Americans to the death. So they join al-Qaida or ISIL and practice that form of jihad against American terrorist. Regardless of who is terrorizing who on whose homeland people who are being terrorized will consider the other side terrorists and pure evil.
Saving the World to Death From Itself – 09/22/2014 (#156)
For some reason we Americans often feel the need to save people in third world countries from their religions or cultural beliefs and traditions by imposing our Christian-Judaic values and form of government, which even fails us, upon them. We too often view their social and moral values as barbaric, morally corrupt, and inhumane. Even in our own country we likewise view religious practices that do not conform to our social standards and moral beliefs as cults, not to be tolerated. I am a strong advocate of human rights but I am opposed to changes under military threats or any forced action. Human rights must be dispensed with the same humanity, human rights practices, compassion, and respect that is being espoused. Otherwise it is hypocritically forced upon unwilling people with no consideration of the feelings and culture of the vanquished.
What Makes Science so Creditable? – 09/21/2014 (#155)
I cannot stop being amazed at what modern science has accomplished in just the last 150 years. Just about all that we use and take so much for granted today were discovered or invented less than a century and a half ago. So what exactly is science? What makes science so compelling and globally accepted as the language of universal truth? Science is actually a methodology or process of discovery, experimentation, verification, and pear review to gain scientific consensus of its validity. In spite of the rigors of this scientific process it is often not exact. Science usually develops incrementally. Science is occasionally very wrong but it has a better track record than any other discipline and continuous refinements get closer to the ultimate truth. Sometimes people who know little of science try to discredit it for self-serving reasons. But Science is highly credible and cannot and must not be ignored even if revealing an inconvenient truth.
Is the U.S. Truly a Democracy or Republic? – 09/18/2014 (#154)
So often we Americans refer to our nations as a Democracy. But this is not entirely true. If it were a true Democracy everyone would vote on every law and there would be no need for a legislature. The United States is closer to the true meaning of a Democratic Republic as it is a hybrid between the two concepts. Our founding fathers cleverly took the best of both concepts to devise what they hoped would be a perfect nation. To keep it honest they created three branches of government and divided the power equally among them with checks and balances to limit the power of any branch from overwhelming the others. They also devised elections to be held frequently enough to make it difficult for any one person or group of people to become too powerful. Yet over the years and centuries legislators and those in power have found workarounds in the power limitations designed by the founding fathers.
Harnessing Greenhouse Gases – 09/11/2014 (#153)
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is the primary Greenhouse gas that contributes to Global Warming around the world. What if this CO2 and other Greenhouse gases could be captured and turned into something useful to man so that it doesn’t get released into our atmosphere? In fact there is some research being done around the world to see if this can be done but not much funding or public press is given to such research. Having a manufacturer process for capturing and using most of the CO2 released by power plants for example would have a significant impact on Greenhouse gas emissions and thus Global Warming.
Education Failures Ripe for Vouchers – 08/31/2014 (#152)
U.S. ranks among the lowest in math and science literacy in our public schools among developed and developing nations yet spends more per student on education than anywhere in the world. The question is how is this country to continue its leadership in technology and as an industrial nation as other nations quickly catch up and pass us by? For decades we have been arguing over how to increase the literacy and graduation rates of our public schools. While we have made some modest progress Asian and European nations outpace us in education and are on the verge of surpassing us as innovative technological and industrial nations. Since public education is failing to serve the needs of the next generation I think it about time we give serious consideration to school vouchers to give our public schools some serious free-market competition.
Upward Flowing Economic Prosperity – 08/30/2014 (#151)
The Trickle Down Economic theory proposed by the rich has it all backwards. It theorizes that tax relief of the rich will spur them to move their equity around which will stimulate economic growth. Perhaps it will stimulate further economic wealth for the wealthy but it will have little effect upon improving the standard of living for the average wage earner. The greatest factor for economic growth is consumer spending, not individual prosperity or investments. The more people spend on goods and services the greater demand there is for consumables and products. More demand means expanding businesses. Expanding businesses means more demand for jobs.
More Consumer Power to Realize Our Dreams – 08/29/2014 (#150)
The U.S. seems to have strayed from Dr. Martian Luther King’s “I have a dream…” in the 1960’s to only the very rich can afford to dream in 2010 after the Supreme Court rulings on Citizens United and in the 2013 ruling on McCutcheon. It is bad enough that the almost powerless middle class and the powerless poor have progressively less purchasing power and almost no political power but the extremely rich are now able to lend their enormous wealth towards further influencing votes and our legislators to rule over the nation in their interests.
What People Do in the Name of God – 08/24/2014 (#149)
Throughout the history of mankind wars have been fought, people have been persecuted and genocide has been committed in the name of God or against those of differing religious beliefs. What I do object to is the way religions practitioners often practice it. One thing I am convinced of is that if there is a creator of the universe who is infinitely wise and knowledgeable (omniscient) then one can only rationally conclude that all of creation must be exactly as it was intended. For the creator to say to man that he condemns the actions or belief of certain people and that his believers should punish, destroy, or outlaw their actions in his name is to say that God made a mistake.
Much Ado about Going Nowhere – 07/24/2014 (#148)
Cars are the primary mode of transportation in the U.S. even for short distances. But there are alternatives to the use of cars if we are willing to get off our seats and use some human power to move ourselves from one place to another. Ironically the U.S. has one of the greatest stores of transportation energy in the world but all we do is accumulate it to great excess. That energy is our body fat which is embarrassingly abundant and a major cause of medical complications such as diabetes, heart and coronary disease, skeletal problems, and added weight that our bodies are not designed to constantly bear.
The Price we Pay for Gas in the US – 07/18/2014 (#147)
Since the price of oils is a commodity it is fixed everywhere around the world, so the difference people worldwide pay at the pump is based primarily upon the taxes imposed by each state or nation. In general the more wealthy the people are of a nation have the higher the taxes imposed upon fuel. The single most blatant exception is the United States where we have by far the lowest tax rate on gasoline of all the developed nations and most developing nations. Fuel is considered a luxury everywhere else except the United States. Currently the United States federal tax for gasoline is $.0184 per gallon vs. for example Germany where the tax is around $3.50 per gallon or about 20 time higher than the U.S.
Terrorist and Terrorism – 07/27/2014 (#146)
When one hears the word terrorist one usually conjures the images of Osama bin Laden or Al-Qaeda Islamic extremists suicide bombers blowing them selves up and killing many Americans such as at the Twin Towers on 9/11/2001. The problem with our view of terrorist is that we have been brainwashed by our government and media (news, TV, and film) to think only one dimensionally about this subject. As a matter of fact Arab Islamic extremest such as the Afghan Taliban and Al-Qaeda are not the only ones to employ terrorism. Looking at this through the eyes of many Arabs the U.S. is the terrorist.
Is Al-Qaeda bent on Killing Americans? – 07/23/2014 (#145)
There are those who see Al-Qaeda as a militant group of mad Taliban jihad terrorist who are out to kill all Americans at any opportunity. That may sometimes seem the case on the surface but if you really pay attention to what they do and especially what they don’t do you might come to a somewhat different conclusion as I have. First of all it would be a gross underestimation to assume that the leaders of Al-Qaeda are crazy madmen. They are quite sane and very rational people. They may hate us but their actions are very measured and well planned and executed to gain the greatest effect of demoralizing us.
The Secret to Success – 07/21/2014 (#144)
When I feel I am successful it generally means that I feel I have meet or exceed my expectations for doing something major. I find intrinsic success far more rewarding because I am more in control and don’t have to depend upon others for confirmation. I can set my own bar for measuring success. In all the professional and academic successes I’ve had though life one characteristic stands our and it isn’t being smart, brilliant, or talented. It’s Perseverance. Once I start something I want to finish it and even go another step further. I wasn’t very smart but I had Perseverance in trying to exceed my personal goals and usually did.
Human Rights as I See It – 07/19/2014 (#143)
As I see it, our values and form of freedom, democracy and government will not work where religion plays a dominating role in every aspect of life. Over the centuries the Western world has developed human rights values that are less based upon religious doctrine than upon a rational right of All human beings to dignity and “…life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. But much of the world is not yet ready. We cannot cram our values down the throats of those unwilling to accept them without long-term consequences. It took us hundreds of years to develop the principles of freedom, democracy, and equality and it did not come without a revolution and much bloodshed. During the Dark Ages we were very much like the very people we are trying to change.
Happiness – 07/14/2014 (#142)
I believe that everyone should have the right to pursue happiness. But what do I really mean by Happiness? The obvious answer is that happiness is whatever makes one feel good. Most of us spend some if not much time finding things that we hope will bring happy into our stress dominated and often unhappy lives. We shop online or at shopping centers or go on vacations or party it up to bring us some sort of happiness. Most of these activities bring only brief periods of happiness. However when I do something good to help another, especially a strangers, I find that the feeling of accomplishment and happiness last far longer. Why is this so? We are a social animal. We are genetically programed to work cooperative together as a social community. True Happiness lies in that social essence we have lost site of through civilization so long ago.
It’s in the Nature of Things – 07/11/2014 (#141)
Man has been civilized for only a small fraction of his existence. Our species has existed for 130,000 years, perhaps as long as 1.5 million years by some accounts. In the last 20,000 years we have changed little including brain development. 15,000 years ago when we were still living in caves we did not have the benefit of medical science or technology. Our bodies were tough and able to endure what we would consider the hardships of daily living but what they likely considered normal everyday living. However civilized man has devised clever means of getting around the natural order of things. Our species is able to survive far beyond any other. We are by far the most prolific species of mammals on earth by a very far long shot. We are also by far the most hungry and demanding living organism upon earth’s resources.
Quality of Life – 06/30/2014 (#140)
When I was much younger I never thought about dying of aging. More than seven decades after I made my entrance on earth I can see my health waning and my ability to do things diminished. I can feel the end of life approaching closer and closer. I now focus upon the Quality of Life instead of longevity though they are somewhat intertwined. My health, which is a major factor in the quality of living is holding its own though I can see myself gradually slowing down. The key attributes I have in wanting to live are good health, feeling self worth, and being independent. But what does good health mean to me personally? I am after all in worst health than I was 10 years ago.
Lacking Memory – 06/25/2014 (#139)
I mentioned on my Home page that I am somewhat mentally impaired. My short term memory is greatly impacted, so much so that I’m not sure if my long term memory is any good since little ever get there. I have little visual memory so cannot remember people and people’s dress accounting for why I have great difficulty picking people out in a crowd or remembering scenery I have just seen or passed by. That is not to say that I cannot remember anything. I remember concepts if I am given the opportunity to understand them. In spite of my mind being so limited in physical images I can visualize simple isolated objects that I conjure up in my mind. I think my mind gets confused with seeing so much background imagery that I cannot focus upon the image of interest. As a student at school I was always at the bottom if not the very bottom of my class. I could barley read (dyslexia) or write since I read so little. I lacked math and science skills, something that I had to later deal with as an engineering student in college. It took me 10 years to get my Masters degree as a full time student.
Profiling – 06/22/2014 (#138)
TV shows, crime movies and novels sometime contain professional law enforcement profilers who are able to characterize the behavior of individuals through body language, habits, and appearance. But we are all amateur profilers. The primary difference between the armature profiling we do and that of professionals is that the professionals have learned through the accumulated knowledge taught in education the psychological makeup of people and how this relates to their physical appearance and behaviors. But where would we all be if we didn’t characterize various physical characteristics and behaviors in people? Profiling is part of our defense mechanism that has socially been built into us to help us differentiate between friend and foe. The problem is that we often profile people based upon one physical characteristic such as skin color or obesity or shape of nose or eyes or beauty or ugliness. Such profiling fails to look as multiple features and behaviors that flaw profiling as a defense mechanism and sometimes makes foes out of friendly people and friends out of devious people.
Returning to the Essence: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness -06/18/2014 (#137)
It is unfortunate that so much about our government and legislation is about promoting self-interests. I think the founding fathers intended this nation to be based upon common interests instead of self-interests but this goes contrary to our current self-centric nature which has corrupted our interpretation of the Bill of Rights. Prime examples of such interpretive corruptions are two Supreme Court rulings in the case of Citizens United vs. FEC that ruled that corporations could make contributions to political campaigns similar to ordinary citizens and McCutcheon v. FEC that recently ruled that a single donor can give up to $3.6 million in one election cycle. These two rulings have in essence empowered very rich corporations and individuals to make enormous political contributions to influence election outcomes. I am convinced that this nation was founded on the principle of fair rights and treatment for the vast majority of citizens not primarily the nobility and royalty of the rich.
“War Powers Act” Repeatedly Ignored by Presidents – 06/11/2014 (#136)
Article I, Section Eight Clause 11 of the Constitution says that “The Congress shall have power… To declare war…” In Article II, Section 2 the Constitution says “The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States…” Clearly the authors of the Constitution intended that Congress should have the sole responsibility for declaring war and that the President would have the power to command the troop once war has been declared, a clear division of power regarding war. Over the years the presidency has gained more and more power to engage in military actions independent of Congress primarily because a single person can response quicker to military emergencies. Towards the end of the Vietnam conflict Americans had enough of police actions so Congress pass the War Powers Resolution (Act) in 1973.
Is the Cost of Carbon Reduction Too High? – 06/07/2014 (#135)
Early this week President Obama announced that the EPA will enforce a 30% reduction in carbon emissions for power plants by 2030. Republicans, conservatives, and climate change deniers claim that the cost to the public in loss jobs and increased cost of energy will be devastating to many. Climate deniers will say that these recent catastrophes are not the result of global warming by man but the result of normal cyclical changes in weather patterns. But what if they are wrong as the vast majority of climate scientist are saying? As storms become more frequent and increase in severity they cause more damage and loss of lives in the communities they hit. This results in the loss of jobs and cost of damage to affected residents. The government then declares these disaster relief areas and provides disaster relief money which comes from tax dollars we all pay.
Change– 05/25/2014 (#134)
Change has always been uncomfortable and often quite painful requiring effort and adjustments to the way things used to be. The pain of social change has often been accompanied by violence such as the civil rights movement of the 1960’s in the U.S. But it is the shakers and makers of change whose stories are told in the history books, not those who did no change or resisted it. Change is what brought mankind from the stone ages to today. ‘If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it‘ is NOT the motto most great shapes of change use. Instead ‘If it can be done better, Chang it‘ is. So progress is change. Often we fight progress because at that instant of change we are placed outside of our comfort zone.
Choices – 05/17/2014 (#133)
In modern day society in the U.S. and elsewhere we are constantly being barraged with a mind boggling array of choices for every aspect of life. So numerous are my choices that I tend to do that which is most familiar to me in order to reduce the uncertainties of choices I am confronted with. Perhaps this self-imposed restriction of choices is symptomatic of my autism but I think I am not alone. For example I lose much of the joy of eating when going to a new restaurant where I am confronted with a menu written in some foreign language.
Balance and Harmony – 05/14/2014 (#132)
When one looks at nature and the universe one notices that the greatest complexity of atoms and molecules exist at an optimum temperature range between extreme hot and absolute cold. Take for example the universe. In places where the temperature is extremely high such as stars there is much randomness and little order to matter. Atoms exists in extremely unstable states as plasmas where it is so hot that their electrons have been stripped off leaving unstable nuclei of primarily the two simplest atoms, hydrogen with one proton and helium with two. Temperatures are simply too high for stable elements and chemistries to exist. In much cooler areas of the universe such as our planets more complex elements and compounds can form and exist for long periods. Earth is at an optimum temperature that is ideal for extremely complex organic chemistries making possible the formation of life.
Patriotism – 05/09/2014 (#131)
I feel that I am a true patriot though others may not agree due to my numerous critical comments about our government, our laws, and our social morality. I feel that it is a fool who sees no wrong or an apathetic fool who seeing a wrong but does nothing about it. I see my relationship with this country a little like my relationship with my children or others I deeply love. My love for my loved ones is without question as is my love of my country. But if I see my loved ones doing something I strongly disapprove of I will let them know in no uncertain terms and tell them my reasons. The same goes for my country.
“Gettysburg Address” – a Wake-Up Call – 05/06/2014 (#130)
Somehow chills always run up and down my spine every time I hear the Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln recited. This speech did not receive great attention when given to commemorate all the soldiers who had given there lives during one of the bloodiest battles of the bloodiest war this nation has ever engaged, the American Civil War. But a newspaper man had written the speech down and published it. It was one of the shortest speeches ever given by an American President, consisting of only 3 relatively short paragraphs spoken in less than 5 minutes. However its significance sunk in after its publication and is now considered one of, if not the greatest speeches ever given in this nation.
Vision for a New Nation – 05/04/2014 (#129)
It doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to agree that our government has strayed far from the vision our Founding Fathers had for this nation. So what can we say was the vision of our Founding Fathers? Some wanted a government that somewhat resembled British rule and others who wanted the exact opposite. The Declaration of Independence and the framing of the Constitution and Bill of Rights amendments express the consensus conclusion that the new government should have distributed powers consisting of very cleverly conceived checks and balances allowing no single person or branch of government too much power. The other consensus was that the government should promote the best overall well being of all citizens through elective representative who would do exactly that, represent the best interests of their constituents.
Do American Juries Dispense Justice? – 04/24/2014 (#128)
One major problem is that most jurors are by in large ignorant of the technicalities of law and trial procedures. Both the prosecuting and defense attorneys know this and try to use this ignorance to their advantage. They often appeal the the jury’s emotional sense rather than the legal merits of the case. It is a judge’s primary responsibility to make sure the two lawyers follow the technicalities of the law when the other attorney raises an objection. He does little to enlighten the jury of such legal technicalities leaving it to the two lawyers to spin the case in their favor. There are obviously better lawyers than others, so depending upon the ability of each lawyer a case can be won or lost based upon his or her skill at outmaneuvering the other lawyer and influencing the jury.
If Only Women Were In Charge – 04/17/2014 (#127)
Before my retirement I worked in the high-tech industry of Silicon Valley. It was my observation that most successful professional women I’ve known were more assertive and goal oriented, characteristics largely attributed to men. But they were few in numbers. I keep returning to Of Modern Times and the Caveman where I describes how the caveman in us is still ever present. The cave women stayed at the cave to raise the cave family and take care of domestic tasks like skinning game and caring for the cave kids while the cavemen went out hunting for food. In the modern world high level jobs have become largely related to mental focus and aggressive temperament. It is an extremely competitive working world. To get ahead one must be the best or have the drive to fight to be best. I believe that if this world were run by women this would be a far better and more harmonious world. When I say women I mean typical women, not the aggressive over achieving male like women.
Patterns of Life – 04/15/2014 (#126)
Life and existence are all about structure and patterns. This is actually quite a profound concept. Think about life without patterns. Actually the universe as we know it could not exist without structure and patterns. Patterned structures are what bind the universe together. Science is all about the recognition, study, and modeling of the many patterns and structures that exist in the universe as will as life on earth. The science of psychology studies the patterns of our behaviors and minds. These patterns often seem irrational but there are patterns to our irrational behavior. Criminology is an offshoot of psychology where patterns of the criminal mind are studies and utilized to identify and capture criminals. Weather may seem somewhat unpredictable for some but to the weather scientist who views satellite photos of earth, they can identify patterns of cloud formations. So life is largely about recognizing pattern and making predictions to reduce uncertainties. We make plans and do tasks with varying degrees of confidence based upon our familiar with the patterns of that activity and their potential unpredictability.
The Future is Here yet We Remain Unaware – 04/10/2014 (#125)
In the newest high tech wafer fabrication facilities where very small amounts of contamination could mean the death of chip making everything is done by robotics and computers. Humans are only there in very limited numbers to maintain the machines. The steps taken to make the hundreds of millions of MOS transistors that are crammed into each memory and CPU chip in our computers, tablets, and cell phones is extraordinarily complex and precise requiring close to absolute cleanliness. So for those in the high tech chip making industry you already know that the future has been here for the last decade or two. If chip making can be fully automated so can just about any industry and manufacturing facility. The technological know-how is already here for automating most other industries. Many have already already been slowly automate and permanently eliminate jobs for decades.
Free Expression by Personal Wealth – 04/07/2014 (#124)
Last week, on April 2, 2014, the Supreme Court ruled in McCutcheon v. FEC that a single donor can give up to $3.6 million in one election cycle, money that political parties and other political organizations, PACs, and Super PACs can now funnel into aiding individual candidate who still have campaign limits as well as to ballot initiatives. This is a 30 fold increase over what an individual could previously contribute. I have a larger problem with large political contributions being a 1st Amendment protected free expression. Protected free expression implies expressions publicly expressed without consequence. In order to protect the expression of donations as in the 1st Amendment there must be something needing protection.
A Spoon Full of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down – 04/03/2014 (#123)
One would think that in the medical profession there are tons of opportunities to dispense compassion along with medical tests, treatments, and medications. However in my experience I have found the medical profession rather lacking in compassion. I do have one doctor who comes close to what I consider as compassionate but most want to keep you waiting as long as tolerable and get you out of the office as quickly as possible after ever so briefly seeing you and hardly palpating you. Today’s doctors spend less than a minute listening impatiently to what patients have to say then write orders for a battery of blood tests, X-rays, CT scans, etc. and tell you to come back in 3 weeks to discuss results.
Are Rules Made to be Broken? – 03/30/2014 (#122)
Recently there was news of a 9 year old girl who shaved her head with her parents permission in solidarity for an 11 year old friend who was being treated for stage 4 cancer and had lost all her hair. The 9 year old was suspended from school for violating the dress code [School Reverses Decision To Suspend Girl Who Shaved Her Head For Friend With Cancer] in spite of doing no harm. I have a problem comprehending what drove school administrators to expel a student for doing a good and compassionate deed even if violating a dress code. These administrators seems to be acting quite childish disciplining a child for doing a mature and grownup act. I feel that some common sense needs to be exercised by people when rules are broken.
Inequality for All – 03/27/2014 (#121)
The other day I viewed the documentary “Inequality for All” by Robert Reich for the first time on NetFlix. I was struck by its similarities to articles I have written in past posts such as The Economic Power of the Middle Class March 19, 2013 and Prosperity is with the MassesSeptember 16, 2013 in terms of the disparity in income between the very rich and the typical middle class as well as the parallel conclusion we both drew that the well being of our economy depends largely upon the ability of a large middle class to spend on goods and services. As a matter of fact our mutual conclusion seems quite self evident so I fail to see why so many people don’t realize this.
Running out of Time – 03/24/2014 (#120)
When I was young I feared death but never though my life clock was running out of time. Now that I am in my senior years I don’t fear death as much but I am aware that every day I am alive on earth is a day closer to death. And of greater importance how much time will I be mobile and mentally active. I now have to spend more effort taking care of myself. My objective is not to live as long as possible but to extend the time I have available to be mobile and mentally alert. Thus diet and exercise are important. But for now life seems well worth living and investing time to keep on going.
The Job Terminator – 03/20/2014 (#119)
We are already experiencing the subtle impact of job terminating technology today. Our tech savvy technologist are turning out new technological innovations at an ever-increasing rate. New generations of cell phone come out ever six months to a year that are each smarter and cheaper than the previous. Other gadgets are being created constantly to satisfy our insatiable appetite for gadgetry and convenience. Ask yourself what can people do that computers are unlikely to do other than screw thing up. Through artificial intelligence computer can learn to get increasingly smart and they never forget anything and some can constantly think billions of times faster than us without rest. So unemployment is no longer as a result of the 2008 crash. It is as a result of outsourcing and automation.