Tuesday, November 25, 2014

                                                              Police Shootings

Once again we're seeing how quickly some of our police officers and border patrol agents resort to the lethal use of fire arms instead of using non-lethal methods of apprehending or getting control of suspects. Yesterday a police officer shot a 12 year old boy who had a toy pistol. Was that really necessary or justified?  Michael Brown in Ferguson may indeed have been physically attacking the policeman while he was sitting is his patrol car but the policeman had no reason to fear for his life. All he had to do was call for back up and stay in his vehicle..He claims he wasn't carrying his Taser because it made him feel "uncomfortable". So he decided to shoot Mr. Brown? Even then he could have shot to wound instead of shooting to kill. Border Patrol agents almost routinely shoot fleeing suspected aliens with total impunity. No one disputes that law enforcement officers have a dangerous job but the decision to kill someone who has not, or is not committing a life threatening crime can't be justified. It's far better to lose control of a suspect- even allowing the suspect to escape rather than killing them.

Monday, November 24, 2014

                                               Immigration Policies

What are the odds that Congress would have passed an immigration bill if President Obama had waited for them to act? For all their complaining, both Boehner and McConnell must be thrilled that Obama has given them an excuse to back away from public pressure to pass a bi-partisan immigration bill. Now they'll be able to continue their endless attack on Obama instead of actually passing any significant legislation for the next two years.

Friday, November 14, 2014

                                            Climate Change- Fact or Fiction?

Disclaimer - I'm not a Scientist but I do have a masters degree in Geology and I've got a basic understanding of the chemistry involved as well as the climate history of our planet. Fact number one is this: Climates change and always will change whether we continue to exist or not. Fact number two is that without climate change there would be no life as we know it on the planet. Fact number three is that Carbon Dioxide is Nature's chemical buffer. It has a major influence of the acidity of our oceans and atmosphere.

The climate history of our planet reveals a fascinating chain of events which eventually created enough oxygen in the atmosphere for life to come out of the ocean and live on land. Originally our planet was extremely hot. As it cooled down it began to solidify into layers some of which were less dense than others. Eventually these layers began to float around - migrating from one climate zone to another. For example at one time half of North America was below the Equator. Another example is that the Sub Saharan Desert was at one time a tropical rain forest. Our orbit around the Sun is elliptical and the path of that ellipse changes periodically over millions of years-thus changing the portions of the planet which receive the most  heat from the Sun. Our planet also wobbles in predictable patterns of time which also has an effect on the distribution of heat.  We've also been bombarded by numerous asteroids over the ages which threw up clouds of dust blotting out the Sun and affecting temperatures on Earth. Finally, there have been numerous volcanic eruptions which also send clouds of tiny particles into the atmosphere with resulting changes in the climate.

Our planet has endured numerous ice ages over millions of years. There have been times when almost the entire planted was covered by ice. Many people aren't aware of the fact that we're still in the the grips of the most current major ice age- as proven by the fact that an entire continent is buried under a mile of ice at our South Pole and our North Pole has still has permanent iced over areas. Additionally, we still have glaciers in some of our higher mountain peaks. Those glaciers are mostly the remains of what is called the "Little Ice Age" which occurred oddly enough during the so called "dark ages" from about 1450 to about 1750. Interestingly enough some scientists believe that the Little Age was caused by melt water from Greenland which may have cut off the warm Gulf Stream from the South. In other words it's possible that global warming could actually start another Ice Age. Modern civilization as we know it blossomed just as the Little Ice Age drew to a close. Coincidence or not- who knows? There is some thought by Anthropologists that the Little Ice Age and it's retreat stimulated human experimentation,  scientific advances and the development of new technologies.

Now that we've hopefully established that Climates by their very nature change, whether humans exist of not, we find ourselves asking whether our activities are contributing to the well documented temperature changes we're currently witnessing. Many people are in strong denial that human activity could cause climate change.
That denial is so strong that one can get the impression that they take such charges personally. That's  probably due to the fact that they fail to realize that human activities can produce the same type of atmospheric and oceanic pollution as a volcano or an asteriod. This brings us to the basic point. Our planet isn't able to distinguish between the effects of human activity, or volcanic activity, or changes in our orbit path around the Sun.  After all, Carbon Dioxide is Carbon Dioxide. We're part of Nature and part of the natural forces of the Universe. We're not separate from Nature. We rose from the dust by natural processes and everything we do,or produce,or use, is part of that same process. The difference is that we have the ability to minimize the effect of our activities on the environment whereas volcanoes, earth quakes, and asteroids do not.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

                                    AMERICANS VOTED WITH THEIR FEET!

Almost two third of eligible voters stayed home on election day. That's hardly a mandate for either party or any candidate. Politicians claim that they got the 'message" and they claim to understand that we want them to "reach across the aisle" and "compromise"- but everybody knows that most career politicians are wired for only two things  -  getting re-elected and attacking each other along partisan lines.  Compromise, cooperation, listening to each other, are out of the question. I doubt there is a single voter in America who actually believes that the politicians are capable of working together on anything other than approving their own annual their salaries and fringe benefits. Congressional hearings are eerily similar to staged reality shows.  Lots of posturing and self righteous emotion in front of the cameras for the folks back home.  Their primary goal is to get re-elected and they'll spend the majority of their time and votes preparing for the next election. The separation of our political class from the rest of us is a chasm as wide as the Grand Canyon. They know virtually nothing of our lives and we know virtually nothing of theirs. We speak different languages. We have different goals. We have different values and different skill sets. The thing to remember is that we are the employers and they are the employees.We set the agendas- not them. We fire them when they fail to perform. The high rate of turnover in Congress this election was more about their performance and less about the issues. We're far more united on the issues and far less partisan than the politicians are. Unfortunately they don't seem to have received that message yet.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

                                                          Veterans Day is not a Holiday

Too many Americans think that Veterans day is a day to relax, go out to dinner, and catch a movie. Some may see a person in uniform and "thank them for their service". but for those who have served on the battlefield and been physically or mentally injured those words sometimes sound hollow and have little meaning. It's become far too easy for many Americans to look the other way and forget the sacrifices that so many young men and women have made in battlefields on distant lands. Many of these young men and women volunteered to put their lives and limbs at risk - believing that they were doing so in defense of their country. They did not question the "cause" or the reason they were sent into battle. They accepted the risks with incredible bravery and when they returned minus a few limbs they did not wallow in self pity, or regret their decision.

Politicians send these young men and women into battles while they themselves remain safely at home. Sometimes the causes are just sometimes not,  but our soldiers, once in uniform,  don't have the option to decide which cause they're willing to die for.

Many Americans feel that the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were just causes for someone other than themselves to fight and die for but very few were willing to put on a uniform and put their own life and limbs at risk. When I see people taking advantage of Veterans day to go shopping and catch a movie it makes me sick to my stomach. Please spare me the token "Thanks for your Service". Sometimes that comment is truly heart felt but far too often it's just a cop out.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

                                                   Obama earns his salary

Members of Congress have spent the past six years of the Obama Administration sitting on the side lines criticizing and attempting to block every single action President Obama takes while they essentially only work a two day week themselves. Members of Congress typically spend more time raising money for .their re-elections than dealing with legislation. They also give themselves periodic extended breaks by shutting Congress down between "sessions"  Meanwhile our Presidents work 24/7 looking out for our National Security interests, dealing with trade issues, domestic issues, economic issues, problems in the Middle East, energy issues, environmental issues, immigration issues, diplomatic issues--- the list goes on and on. A President rarely gets a single day when he's not faced with some type of problem requiring his immediate attention. Presidents noticeably age and turn gray while in office. Members of Congress grow fat and rich and when they leave office they become lobbyists and grow even more wealthy. Whether you agree with Obama or not I think we can all agree that he shows up for work everyday and never once complains about the burdens of the job. I wish we could say the same for Congress. 

Monday, November 10, 2014


It seems more like a lifetime, instead of only 25 years, since the Berlin Wall  came down and the cold war came to a close.  After the wall came down Russia become more democratic, allowed it's ethnic satellite countries to self govern - even worked together in Space with America, and now we're on the brink of plunging back into another cold war because Russian paranoia eventually prevails. Let us pray this war, for however long it lasts, stays "cold" and doesn't turn hot. The reason for walls come and go but the walls remain as scars and testimony to our never ending conflicts with one another over the ages.  The Great Wall of China, Hadrian's wall in Scotland keeping the Roman Army at bay. The welded iron fencing we've been installing along our border with Mexico. They all eventually become historic reminders of fear, paranoia, invasion, and misunderstandings. Not all walls are made of concrete, iron, or earth. There are ideological and religious walls as well as in the Middle East and even between our two warring political parties here in America. Putin seems like a man who needs some love. Some TLC. We need to bring him and Russia into the circle of global democratic nations. Welcome them to global trade markets. It benefits none of us to allow Russia to fall back into self inflicted isolation.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

                                                     Vote early and vote often!

If you haven't already voted please try to do so before the polls close tonight. I know it's only one vote and I know how tired you are of all of the negative advertising but one vote can make all the difference and it often has! They say that fewer people vote in the midterm elections. That makes no sense. The mid term elections are every bit as important as the four year elections. Remember, if you don't vote you lose the right to complain and none of us wants to lose that basic right!  Nag, Nag, Nag!

Monday, November 3, 2014

                                                   The lost art of letter writing

 The younger generation is missing out on one of the most pleasurable and personal forms of communication.
No matter how easy and efficient it may be to communicate with your friends and loved ones by texting or using email you'll never be able to achieve the closeness that comes from receiving a letter in the mail with recognizable handwriting on the outside of the envelope. The sight of that handwriting with its unique personalized  loops, curls, slants,capitals, style, and scent stimulates every sensory image of the reader before the envelop is even opened.. You don't have to look at the return address to know who wrote that letter.

Writing a letter takes time and requires the writer to search for the perfect words to express the thoughts and emotions that one wishes to convey. In days of old letters were routinely used  for purposes of courting and expressing devotion and love. Many a long distance romance between parted lovers kept the fire of passion alive. Mothers wrote letters to sons on the battlefield. Travelers sent letters back home describing their adventures. Business was conducted by letter also. Each form of communication required its own special protocol which was commonly known to all. 

Exchanging letters by mail (or the pony express) takes time and thus creates a certain delightful level of anticipation when awaiting a reply. There is no instant gratification when exchanging letters with someone which fact makes the waiting all the sweeter. Writing letters also requires that you chose your words carefully in order to prevent any possible misunderstandings. People often find it easier to express their emotions in letters rather than when talking face to face. Many a heart has been poured out on hand written page. Give it a try sometime you might find it rewarding. I promise you that whatever you write by hand and personally address in an envelope will be read much more carefully than anything you text or tweet.