Flipping Odometers

As a child, I enjoyed watching the car’s odometer count the miles.   I awaited the moment when all the nines would line up and then, holding my breath, watched them roll into all zeroes.  Ah, the simple joys of youth.

I also imagined the future.  There would be a colony on the moon, and ray guns, and smart robots.  Again, simple joys.

I did not imagine I would grow up in a world where people were afraid of the odometer.  In 1999, the odometer rolled over to 2000.  This was termed the Y2K problem.  People were afraid there would be anarchy, electricity would fail, and airplanes would fall from the sky.

Of course, none of these things happened.  Instead, our government spent billions working to solve the Y2K problem.  It was an imaginary problem, yet cost money.

You are now growing up in this world.  Instead of looking forward to visiting your friend on the moon, or taking a vacation on a space station, you are worried about imaginary problems.

Where did we go wrong?

We stopped working towards a better world and began paying more attention to entertainment in all its form.  Reality is no longer more interesting than entertainment.

What are some imaginary problems?

Our imaginary problems are those our politicians like to hold up in order to inflame our emotions and influence our votes: abortion, terrorism, military threats are a few.

Want more?  Just ask and I’ll go into details.  Thanks for reading.

 

 

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9/11 Nudity

Today is a day of respect and reflection.

As we reflect, let us ask ourselves WHY?

Why do perfectly healthy young men, all Saudi, dedicate their lives to destroying so many other innocents?

Why do their religious leaders condone such actions?

Why does the Saudi government condone, even support such actions; as recently alleged in recent court filings? and possibly in still-redacted government reports?

Why do our leaders and academics not discuss the underlying reasons all these people would want such violence?

Here are some possible reasons for the violence.

1) These Saudis and other religious extremists are crazy and like to do such things.

2) Perhaps these extremists are intent on starting a 100 year religious war, like the Crusades of old?

3) Or perhaps these extremists are registering their inability to fight Western evils in all its forms?

My bet is on number 3, because the other two don’t make sense.  It’s also the one that extremists use for recruiting.

What are these evils?  One is unconditional support for Israel and other religious countries, no matter how their Islamic populations are treated.  Another is our export of vice in the form of gambling, entertainment, movies, TV, songs, etc.  And finally, the icing on the cake, is that there are no regrets on the part of Western leaders.  Vice is big business!

On this day, this day on which we should all pause and respect those who died because of extremists, and those who have gone and fought the extremist enemy, we instead have fresh evidence as to how we are exporting our own morals onto those who don’t want them.

A beautiful young woman decided she would gain fame be desecrating ancient monuments in Egypt.  They warned her, they tried to stop her.  She and her photographer managed to survive, and escape with the pictures they wanted.

Was the experience enough to stop them from publishing those pictures?  Oh no oh no.

But what’s worse is the several news organizations decided they would help her by publishing her story to the internet.  And so it grows.  It’s news, of a sort.

But what is worse is that we are insulting today’s Egyptians.  We are insulting their very identity.  And we are tempting them to strike back in any way they can.

Here are a few links to her story, and a few others highlighting the US effort to “fight evil” as well as how “evil” also exists within our borders.

We will never fully appreciate the sacrifice made by those in the twin towers until we are ourselves brave enough to ask WHY.  Until we have enough backbone to fight against hate and disrespect WHERE EVER it appears.

The young woman should be publicly chastised, and the pictures deleted.  She should be returned to Egypt to suffer their laws.  The gentleman trying to murder people in his car should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  Those organizing “far-right” rallies should be suppressed by every leader who has sworn to uphold the costitution, sung the National Anthem (of the US), or recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

Until these things happen, nothing will happen.  Until the next set of extremists make their stand.

Honor those who perished, honor those who truly serve, and honor those yet to come by answering WHY.  Then do something about it.

Thank you.

 

 

http://www.francesoir.fr/culture-medias/voyage-sexy-et-nudite-les-deux-passions-de-marisa-papen-photos-instagram-blog-nue-tour-du-monde-seins-topless-blog

http://gulfnews.com/news/mena/egypt/belgian-model-s-nude-photos-at-pyramid-draws-egypt-s-ire-1.2086855

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4872328/Nude-model-reveals-forced-spend-night-jail.html

http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/real-life/model-marisa-papen-and-australian-photographer-jesse-walker-arrested-in-egypt-over-naked-photos/news-story/5797489cd1517920cc4f67f3a8c65fd6

https://thinkprogress.org/man-arrested-at-far-right-rally-for-allegedly-attempting-to-run-over-counter-protesters-3fc95906c458/

 

END

Rape Pillage Plunder

Whitesburg Park is a small nature preserve at the end of our street.  We met a neighbor who insisted we visit a small rotting log containing a trio of the most beautiful flowers.  He showed us a picture, and we all hastened to see the real thing.  But his excitement turned to anger; the flowers, the entire log, were gone.  This fragile object of natural beauty had been taken by someone.

His anger continued, but we could only sympathize.  He strongly questioned the morals of the thief and the declining standards of our society.  My own thoughts wandered to a greater issue, one that defines our very humanity.

This small event, one that would not even merit mention in our small time newspaper, was rape.  Our park had something taken from it by force.  Our friend was outraged, but there the insult would stop.  The rapist would feel no guilt, in fact they probably exhibited the trophy to their friends, raising their own standing as the owner of something beautiful.

Rape, pillage, plunder, these are behaviors that we encourage as a society, mostly without thinking.  Consider today’s popular television shows:  Vikings and Game of Thrones.  In the recent past we’ve had shows featuring the excesses of the Romans, Vampires, Zombies; all strong violent motifs with equally strong leaders.

Part of us exalts in the strong leader.  We look for it as children in our parents.  We look for it as young adults in our peers and teachers.  Finally, we look for it in our entertainment and our government.  Whether they are super-heroes or super-villains, village councilwomen or sitting presidents, there is a part of us that gravitates and admires the strength of those leaders.

That part may be very small, giving grudging acceptance of that strong leader’s influence on society.  Or that part may be so large that we embrace that leader as representing the best of humanity, the way society should go.

Here’s where we should become scared.  Strong leaders of the past include Hannibal, Alexander of Macedon, Chingas Khan, Attaturk, Hitler, and Stalin.  Today we have Vlad Putin and Don Drumpf (Trump) among others.  Every single one of these men got away with something illegal, including outright murder.  Not only were they proud of it, but their followers admired them for being so bold.

Scared yet?  This tendency favoring a strong leader is natural, followers prefer someone who does whatever they want to whomever they want when they want; strong leaders are the alpha male.

The alpha male calls the shots.  The alpha male takes more than one mate.  The alpha male doesn’t follow laws, they make them and break them.  The alpha male is always the most powerful male in the room, and lets everyone else know that.

Societies that are run by alpha males usually also have rape, pillage, and plunder.  After all, that’s what makes the alpha male an alpha.  It’s true of chimps and apes, and it’s true of Vikings and Romans.  It’s also true of Putin and Trump.

The fact that white supremacists met in Charlottesville yesterday to idolize Robert E. Lee and Hitler worries many, but this extremism is part of the natural process.  These extremists want an alpha male.  These people want to protect their “tribe” at the expense of all other tribes.  Law, reason, even morals are not a consideration.

Why did the alpha male fall out of favor in the first place?  Why didn’t the Vikings and the Romans become the dominant form of society?  What was fundamentally wrong with Hitler and Stalin?

The answer lies within our genes some 100,000 years ago.  Sometime around then we not only wanted to take care of our babies, like almost every other successful species, but we also wanted to take care of each other.  We call this “family.”  Many species mate when they need to in order to reproduce.  Modern humans mate many times, making few babies.  All the other times we mate strengthens our bond with our spouse.

Many species hold onto their offspring tenuously, pushing them out of the nest the instant they reach puberty.  Humans hold onto their children, in many cases asking them to take care of their parents deep into old age.  In this way humans have reached incredibly long lifetimes, far longer than nature intended.

The desire to have a family, or family phenotype, means that there is something in us that wants to be part of a group, something larger than ourselves as individuals.  And it is this need that helped create the concept of democracy in all its forms.  Many feel that family is the most important part of being human.  And family doesn’t have to mean only those born to our mother, but can mean someone adopted, our living next door, or even someone of similar interests.  Family means what you want it to mean, and some of us embrace strangers more easily than others.

Those who wish to live with an alpha male look towards that male to determine who is part of the family.  For those who are not family, it’s rape, pillage and plunder.

For those who embrace the idea of family, laws and morals tend to direct their actions.  Throughout history, the struggle between alpha male lovers and family lovers has swung towards family, towards law, and towards reason.

Today, rape, pillage and plunder is increasing all around us.  There are little clues from the missing flowers, bigger clues like the events in Charlottesville, and big clues like the rise to power of Putin, Trump and Erdogan.  From big to small, all these point to the pendulum of history swinging in the direction of those who prefer the alpha male.

How far will it swing?  History tells us it will not reverse direction without the application of great pain.

Will we be able to learn from this, and become a better society growing beyond this planet?  History also tells us that we will learn and be better for it.  But history can not tell us if it will be enough to get us off our planet.  For time is almost up.

 

END

Putin and Murdoch

Hello Friend,

A few days ago I threw out the idea that maybe there was a conspiracy about the Zika virus.  It was all in fun, because the chances of nefarious governments trying to decrease world population seems far-fetched.

Like you, I pay too much attention to the news.  The happenings around Trump’s white house are getting more ridiculous.  I even read where a House committee wants to reopen investigations into Hillary Clinton instead of digging into Trump’s Russian connections.  Of course, this sort of slant is loved by everyone’s favorite hateful news network – Fox.

And that got me thinking.

The Russians have always dealt with the cold war difgerently than Americans.  We spent money on technology and armies.  They spent money on spy networks and prostitutes.  Putin was one of their best.

We now have ample evidence that Russian hacking rings have been responsible for massive influences around the globe.  Facebook has admitted that there were 70,000 fake profiles set up in France in order to both destabilize the Macron campaign and bolster his radical opponent, La Pen (she’s a Trump clone).

Here’s the conspiracy.  The single greatest force that has been effectively destabilizing our democratic process since 1996 is Fox “News.” (Sorry, I can’t say this with a straight face, or without putting it into quotes.  Forgive me, Gentle Reader.)  That date is important, because that’s when Clinton (Bill) won his second term, and the Republicans were already preparing to put another Bush in power.

What if Rupert Murdoch got help from Putin?  What if they helped him in terms of supporting the network, making sure he got ad money, maybe even helping fake how well it was doing in the ratings?  All of these things are done on computers now, and we know how good the Russian hacking rings are.

Just think of the possibilities.  Putin hardly has to raise a finger.  Murdoch is doing the dirty work for him!  Creating whole new categories of “fact” and “alternative reality.”  Putting pretty women in front of lots of old white men, and then groping them behind the scenes.  That is pure Russian mentality.

Need some evidence?, besides this pretty darn good crazy thread of a theory?  Here it is.

If Fox “News” is so dang conservative and old-fashioned, where is the pure outrage against all the Russian influence we’ve uncovered since before the election?  Hacking into voting systems, spreading viruses, and leaking sensitive emails of Hillary and others.  What about the outrage we should be hearing even now?  Don Junior’s meeting with Russian agents?  Don Senior’s business dealing with Russians?  Perhaps that’s the real reason why he refuses to reveal his tax returns.

You can take it from here.  As far as I am now concerned, the conspiracy theory has hit its peak.  Fox “News” is a front for Putin and Russian influence in our society.  I know we’ll prevail, because we are far tougher than they are.  But now knowing there’s a Russian handler sitting behind every pretty Fox face gives the channel a whole new look.

Dasvedanya Tvarisch.

Yes, that’s Russian for goodbye comrade.  If you like Fox “News,” you should start learning the language.

 

 

 

Quiet Conspiracy

Hello Friend,

The Zika virus has been in the news alot.  First drawing international attention when babies were born with abnormally small brains in Brazil, it has lately made news because we now find that it can be sexually transmitted between people.  The mosquito is no longer the only way to get it.

But there are some researchers who have found out something else about Zika, something that should be upsetting people almost as much as malformed babies.

Male infertility.

Several researchers have looked at what the Zika virus does to testicles in mice, and their conclusions were not good.  Others have confirmed that the virus has a great affinity for neurons and testicles.  This helps explain why babies are so impacted during pregnancy.  But it also may explain why it makes men infertile.

Except we hear all about the babies.  What about the babies yet to come?

Here is where we have some conspiracy fun.  For many governments feel that there are simply too many people.  Think of how much more joy you would have if you didn’t have to deal with so many people all the time.

Consider also the fact that fertility in the developed nations has been falling for decades.  Some countries do their best to encourage larger families, but the overall trend is down.  Some large countries, like Japan, have already begun to decline in population.

The fact is we know that Zika is going to contribute to the decline in global fertility.  We won’t see the impact for decades, but we already know it’s here.  And so does your government.  The fact that they don’t want to make a big deal out of it is simple.  They want fewer people.

 

PS: I’m leaving links to both science and news articles out for now.  Ask and I’ll update as needed, but you can find everything here on the web.

 

Define Tyrant

The very first step towards understanding ANYTHING is knowing that a THING is a THING.

What????

Whether it’s the colors of the rainbow, or knowing if your leaders are corrupt, you first have to have a way to think about those things: colors, corruption, whatever.

These are definitions.  If my own little brain can’t define colors very well, then I’m never going to have a decent conversation about rainbows; even WITH MYSELF.

If I want to talk about rainbows with you, then I need to share my definition of colors with you as well.  If you agree, then we can have a nice conversation about rainbows.

The same goes for tyrants.  What is a tyrant?  Some people are already calling tRump a tyrant.  Many of his supporters totally disagree.  Who is right?

Let’s take a stab at a simple definition.  Let’s pretend that one way you can identify a tyrant is if they use their position as a public speaker to incite a mob towards violence.

Now, violence in general could include rugby or smashing beer bottles.  But what if the violence is targeted towards certain people?  Like people who wear yellow stars?  Or people who talk funny?  Or people with skin that looks like coffee or chocolate?

Here’s my definition.  A tyrant is someone who uses their public position to incite mob violence towards opposition or a group that is different from themselves.

Guess what?

We have video, much written experience, and even a lawsuit about President drumpf using exactly these tactics during his speeches.  I wish it was only during his campaign that he does this, but it turns out that he continues to use the highest office in the (previously) “land of the free” to do the same thing.

Now, many of his supporters will be quick to point out that this is fake news and have alternative facts.  However, Pres 45 did exactly these things even in his last press conference.  More like a press battle, but if you look carefully, you can see that he is at battle with a free and independent press, and pushing his supporters to punish them appropriately.

Disagree?  Fair enough.

So, what’s your definition?

 

 

Question Authority

I’m on a good sized airplane.  I’m comfortable, in my proper seat, and ready to fly.

So is the aircraft.  The pilots are almost through with their checklists, and the flight attendant is finishing up her required briefing to the passengers.

I look about, and the aircraft is only half full.  I have work to do, and it would be nice to spread out.

Since the attendant is still busy, I unbuckle and quickly switch seats.  In no time flat another attendant comes to hover above me.

We can’t have you changing seats sir.

Why?

I’m sorry, but I’ve been instructed by my superiors that no one can change their seats.  I’m sorry.

Alright.  I move back to my seat, and ponder.

Can’t move?  It’s not hard on the seats – they are designed for many butt touches.

It can’t be the airplane.  This one is large enough so that even an elephant could move around without bothering the pilots.

No, it can only be for the flight attendant’s convenience.  It makes it easier on them.  It’s for making their lives easier, not ours.  The more they can treat us like cattle, the better.

I realize that if the airline could figure out a way to put us to sleep and stack us up like firewood, they would.  No need for food, toilets, and more people on the plane.  Fewer attendants even.  Heck, they’re probably working on the idea even as I write.

More importantly, you and I live in this world, in this society, and are customers of that airline.  To the degree that we don’t question their authority in order that we can have better lives is our fault.  To the degree that we don’t insist on questioning their authority so that our children can have better lives is a sin.

I looked in that attendant’s eyes and said “sorry to have upset you.”

But in my heart, if it had been something important that I was fighting for, I wouldn’t have stopped.  The future is worth it.

 

President Trump

What goes through your mind when you hear these words?

President Donald Trump.

My brainy and / or more liberal friends shudder.  Then they gag.  Then laugh, hug each other, cry, and finally acknowledge that it could happen.

Quite a few other people are counting on it.  In fact, they plan to vote for him.

And why not?  Who’s to say he won’t make a great president?

The sad news is that our country doesn’t have any standards for what make a president good or bad.  Popularity got George Washington in for two terms and he’s voted our best president ever.  But the second-most successful president was also one of the least popular; Abraham Lincoln.

So Trump may become president, and he may be a great one.  At least, by his standards.

We have a pretty crazy country going on here.  It’s run by millionaires for one thing.  And those millionaires take lots of advice from very rich friends who make lots of money off the rest of us.

Anyone can be president in the USA.  Of course, certain conditions apply.

So, my advice to all of you who may be feeling a political chill, is to put on a sweater and deal with it.

Should you still be afraid?  Sure.  But not because Trump got in.  He’s just the symptom.

The reason someone like Trump gets elected (or any other idiot you’d like to nominate) is because not enough of us ordinary people care.

The reason Trump may be president is because there are too many special interests who are allowed to spend as much money as they want.

The reason our government feels like it’s going to hell in a handbasket is because it mirrors exactly what is happening in our society as a whole.  Yes, our poor government is also a symptom of our disease, not a cause.  What is that cause?

We’re getting older.  We’re getting poorer.  We’re getting dumber.

Perhaps worst of all, we are all of us getting tired of fighting the tide.  We don’t want to stand up in public and debate the issues.  We don’t want to demand better performance out of our candidates, out of our government, and out of our journalists.

I’m also getting older.  And poorer.  But I’m fighting the dumber.  And I haven’t given up fighting, not yet.

This is my weapon; the pen, and education.

So, to all of you who also haven’t given up as yet, get up and get out there.  Fight!

If you don’t, you’ll have to live with the alternative.

 

Humility Helps

“Oh! why should the spirit of mortal be proud?”

So begins Abraham Lincoln’s favorite poem.  It’s all about mortality, and poetically reminds us that our time on this Earth is short.  Many act as if they are immortal, yet all of them eventually return to dust.

Why was it that Abe had to remind himself of this fact?  Certainly he already knew this.  Being surrounded by the Civil War must also have been a constant reminder as to everyone’s eventual end.  And he was the first President to start receiving actual death threats (as far as I know).  So what’s with the poem?

Another way to ask this same question is why don’t modern politicians and leaders remind themselves of the same thing?  How many actually acknowledge their mortality, not only in words, but in deeds?  The newest pope comes close, by the way.  Why does admitting their own mortality matter for leadership?

Because the sin of pride distorts your world in your favor, and increases the distance between your view of reality and the rest of us.

If you are proud enough you expect to have a 747 at your beck and call.  You expect to live in a palace with a staff of 100.  You expect a legion of photographers to follow your every move.  And the more you come to expect these things as normal, the more likely you are to make decisions that reinforce your reality.

Do small airplanes get in the way of your 747?  Tell them all to stop flying wherever you fly.  Are the parks around your palace looking dingy?  Ask the government for a few million to tidy them up.  Are the paparazzi getting a bit too close?  Ask for laws to keep them at bay, or decide you’re above the law and do whatever you want to mislead them – like speeding.

But if you’re serious about making great decisions and seeing the world as the rest of us, then mortal, be not proud.

Don’t be afraid of your public, take a regular flight from Washington to Chicago in the economy seats.  Palace park has litter?  Go pick it up yourself!  Paparazzi want your pictures?  Give it to them, and stand there till they get bored.  Heck, hire some yourself and make some money yourself.  Better yet, lead a modest, quiet regular life and bore them to exhaustion.  If you really want them to go away, that is.

Abe was humble because he wanted to be the best leader possible.  He knew he was smart and powerful, he didn’t need sycophants for that.  But he also knew he had to understand, to the best of his ability, what the world looked like for ordinary Americans.

He may have been afraid that fateful night when he went to the theater.  He certainly knew he had enemies and crazy people threatening him.  But he also knew that he could not live in fear, not if he wanted to be a great leader.  Especially when his country needed a great leader the most.

I like to think that Abe would still go to the theater that night, even if he knew what was going to happen.  And to me, that is the greatest attribute of leadership – humility and the loss of fear.

Thank you Mr. Lincoln.

 

Dancing?

I think I’ve finally figured this one out. Why do humans dance?

I’m pretty sure that it’s only humans. At least, after all the hours I’ve seen of wild animals doing their thing, none of them have ever gotten up and boogied. Of course, who knows what happens late on Saturday nights when all the cameras are gone, right? Maybe there are rabbit raves? After all, where do all those rabbits come from?

I’ve never been a good dancer, and I’ve never understood why people dance. As a nerd I can blame my computerish tendencies. I can also blame my lack of skill, balance, and coordination. As you can tell, I’m pretty good at rationalization. I can also blame the fact that I learned to dance in the 80s, when disco was big. That alone may have traumatized me.

But why do others like to dance? I could never figure this one out. Every now and then I’d ask someone, usually a dancing partner. At which point they would promptly dump me. I never did get a good answer.

Anyway, after all these years, I think I got it.

People dance as a way to show that they are in touch with nature, deep nature. That’s it.

What is deep nature? It’s the rhythms permeating our lives; rhythms that are so old and so deeply entwined in our being that words are inadequate. Deep nature is life itself, and death; deep nature is breath itself, and the beating heart. Deep nature is hunger, sleep, love, and fear.

You probably already knew this, most people do. Some of us don’t, and we stand at the wall wondering what all the undulating is about.

Dancing occurs in all cultures, to many different beats, in many different forms. It changes slowly between generations, because the beat of nature for your generation is slightly different than it was for mine. Your dancing reflects that.

More women dance than men in our culture; not surprising because women are more closely tied to nature. Do we need music? No, but it certainly helps, as music reminds us of the beating of natural rhythms, like our heart, the tides, seasons, or the sun and moon. Do we need a partner? Again, not really, but if dancing is about communicating our ability to feel nature, then a partner is required, for who else are we talking to? The more people the more the need to dance. The greater the celebration, such as a wedding or even funeral, the more need to dance.

So the next time I see the group get up and sway, I’ll do my best to join in. I may not feel the forces that they do, but at least I can try undulating a bit. I just wish my relatives wouldn’t laugh so much!