You can keep Christmas, I’ll celebrate the Yule!

2008/12/02

Many folks don’t realize this, but Christmas is a distorted echo of an ancient pagan, or witchcraft, celebration of the Winter Solstice.  The Yule, or YuleTide, was begun on or about December 25th, which is the first day that it is always possible, no matter which day the solstice falls upon, to measure the shortening of a shadow cast at noon.  The celebration lasted weeks, or even months, as the primitive people of Western Europe gathered together to face their greatest enemy, the winter.  The evergreen tree was a symbol of Life carrying on through the Death of winter.  Candles were symbols of the Sun, which made life possible.

In a time when nothing was taken for granted, and gods peopled the heavens and earth, the idea that the Sun could just keep going South was not uncommon.  To believe that the world could end up in eternal night gave great cause for celebration when it was determined that the Sun was coming back.  Because people had lots of spare time during the months of Autumn, they could make handycrafts, which they shared with each other when they gathered for YuleTide.  An animal would be slaughtered, the thinning of the stock to ensure that some survived the winter, and a feast would be held.

Thus, the traditions of the Yule have been passed down, but the celebration has been distorted by Greed.  In order to get people out shopping, buying the things that they can no longer make, decorations go up early, special occasions are held, and people are encouraged to spend money on their loved ones.  A countdown to the day is held, and the anticipation builds, aided by commercials.  When the day finally arrives, it is a let down.  Soon, people are unhappy with the whole thing, and decide to take down the festive lights.

Killing a tree every year was never part of the Yule celebration, only decorating one outdoors.  For one thing, there was no room in the huts that families shared for a tree, and the idea of killing an evergreen at that time of year was like heresy.  Gift giving was not a given, (ha ha) but no one was expecting anything.  An article that someone has worked on for hours has that persons energy in it, and it has power emotionally.  Simply handing out gifts would have diminished the impact that gifts had, I believe.

because the celebration of the Yule was so deeply ingrained in the native population of Western Europe, the Christian church gave up trying to stop the celebration, and incorporated it into the Christian calander.  Because the populous believed that the Sun was reborn at the solstice, the church held that the Son was born at that time.  (This in spite of it being generally believed by scholars at the time that Christ was born during the Spring or Summer.)  The emphasis was placed on the religious meaning of the Christian celebration, and the Yule was not mentioned.

To me, Christmas has come to represent the worst of American culture, with Greed being the major offender, followed by Materialism.  People have been lead to believe that the celebration goes on before the fact, not after, so that they will buy more.  I embrace the Yule, because it does not have the materialistic trappings, and it spans the time when it is first noticeable that the days are getting longer.  That is the promise of another Spring, and Life returning.  That, to me, is the Reason For The Season.

Saving a little money

2008/11/23

Now that folks are starting to realize that it is not just them, we are all broke, maybe we can start changing some wasteful practices.  Such as paying one set of people to take care of our elders, and another set of people to take care of our children.  Both functions were part of the family experience up until about 60 years ago, the elders taking care of the children, teaching them culture, history, manners, and social skills, until the children were old enough to start taking care of the elders, when they became infirm.  Today, we seperate these two groups, so that many young children never get to know really old people, and our elders pining their days away wishing that they could spend time with children,  Any children.

Many of the people who have been placed in assisted living or nursing facilities are alert, active, and interested in what is going on around them, they simply are in need of care which family members can’t, or won’t, provide.  They are capable of spending an hour or two a few days a week helping to watch over a group of children.  Not by themselves, of course, but with the assistance of young, able bodied people.  And not in the common room of the facility catering to the elders, but in a special, home-like setting, perhaps not even on the same grounds.  Elders could be compensated for their time, and the proceeds used to help defray the cost of their care.

Somehow, a way should be found to utilize the free time, culutural knowledge, and historical background of our elders in socializing our youth.  Very young children love to please elderly people, and elderly people love to spend time with very young children.  When these two populations are allowed to interact, the results are often far more positive than when either interacts with any other age group.  It is a waste to keep them segregated.

I’m so confused!

2008/11/23

Here in the United States, we use a celebration of Death to kick of the celebration of Life.  What am I talking about?  Thanksgiving and the Christmas Shopping Season.  Although Thanksgiving is dedicated to the Pilgrams landing at Plymouth Rock, it is really a harvest celebration, just a little late in the year.  (I for one never believed that people ate outside at Thanksgiving ever! Especially in Massachuesetts.)  The roast beast, the trimmings, the goodies, the pies, the whole production is a celebration of the bounty of the land, and the sacrifice made so that Life can go on.  Everything on the table will be dead, and that is what the celebration is all about.  We give thanks to that which has died so that we can continue.

Unless you live in some place without electricity, you will probably notice that the sky glows at night a lot more than usual in the days after Thanksgiving.  Some people already are burning their Christmas, or Yule, lights, and the day after Thanksgiving in the ‘official’ kick off of the Christmas Shopping Season.  The Yule Tide was a celebration of Life, of re-birth, of renewal.  It started a few days after the Winter Solstice, and ran for days or weeks into January.  (What else is January good for, except partying?)

Because merchants want us to buy our gifts, instead of making them ourselves, as was done in the old days, they sponser concerts, public events, lighting displays, and anything eles that they can think of to get people out shopping.  Gradually, the Christmas season has swung around from the weeks after the Winter Solstice to the weeks before the Winter Solstice.  Inadvertantly, we have moved a festival of Life into a time when the LifeForce is ebbing from the land, leaving nothing for when the days begin to get longer.

To make things even more unsettling, late autumn has always been a time when people tried to conserve their resources as much as possible, by staying close to home, eating very little, and sleeping a lot.  For thousands and thousands of years, what food we had would have to last until Spring, at the earliest.  So, getting out and being extra active in late autumn just feels wrong somehow.

We must remember our instinctual heritage, what cultures practiced before written history, when analyzing our motivations and emotional responses to modern societie’s demands.  There are ample reasons for feeling confused and out of sorts in the weeks ahead, and some we don’t even acknowledge.

Have a wonderful Harvest Festival!

Games people play

2008/11/18

Want something new and different to do during the downtime at work, or when you are sitting around wishing that there was something worth watching on TV?  Try the Volvo Ocean Race Virtual Game!  Over 70,000 people have signed up to run a virtual sailboat in this ’round the world’ race, which follows the same course as the real Volvo Open 70 boats.  You don’t have to be a sailor, or even know anything about sailing, just be interested in participating in an online game.

http://www.volvooceanracegame.org/play.php  is the URL that will get you to the sign up page.

For those of you who are into sailing, the new 24 hour record for a monohull boat was set during leg 1, at 602 miles.  That is by a sailboat, folks, not a power boat.  Maintaining an average of about 25 knots, or 30 miles per hour, for 24 hours is quite a feat.  This is the Formula One of sailing, with boats built entirely of carbon, huge sails, and a special ‘canting keel’ which allows the boats to go upwind.  This is not NASCAR, with things going around and around, this is not football, with people hitting each other,  this is not any sport you have ever seen.  People have died during these races, and boats have been lost.

In an age when burning gasoline is becoming less than politically correct, sailing is a clean, green sport.

What is ‘normal’ for markets?

2008/11/11

Over and over again, in reading about the financial/economic crisis, I come across the expression “when markets return to normal,” Do people really believe that we are going to go back to the dividend-driven, supposedly risk-free, immediate return seeking ways of the last few years? Doesn’t anyone realize that the wealth that was supposedly created in those years never really existed, it was just an illusion to allow a few people to benefit hugely at the majority’s expense? We artificially inflated our net worth, by bidding up the prices of everything, and paying ourselves huge bonuses for being alive. The money that was zooming around, being loaned out again and again, was a fantasy, with nothing to back it up. Just because someone claims that something is worth a certain amount does not make it so, no matter how hard we wish.

So we had better start adjusting to a new reality, one where wealth is again hard to come by, and is only created by work, not by manipulating numbers. We must accept that we cannot live off of our investments alone, because they are not going to provide the steady stream of money that so many have become addicted to. Stock dividends are going to become extremely rare, because the companies will be too hard pressed to come up with cash. Credit default swaps are not going to prevent risk, because too much has been invested under the false belief that it cannot be lost. The government cannot hand out trillions of dollars to keep investors from losing when the slowing of the economy stops the payment of debt.

The entire premise that being owed money increases one’s worth will have to be jettisoned, because too many accounts receivable are not going to be collected. A bank holding company may claim that it worth large sums of money because of all the debt that it holds, but how much of that debt will be converted into cash cannot be known in advance. Those companies that do not re-invest their profits into reducing debt and improving efficiency will not see their stock increase in value, unlike in the past. We have gotten used to believing that we were wealthy because we could easily borrow money. We never were wealthy, and we sure aren’t now.

Better than term limits!

2008/10/27

Do you ever get a little miffed that the person that is supposed to be serving you in some public office is instead spending their time campaigning for re-election, or, even worse, another office?  Both of the current candidates for president hold the office of U.S. senator, which should be their primary focus, in my opinion.  How has their candidacy affected their votes on the Senate floor?  If elected, would either person put the needs of the country ahead of their re-election?  Would either person be willing to take unpopular action, knowing that it would probably eliminate their chance for a second term?

How often have you heard that passage of critical legislation is unlikely during an ‘election year’?  If a person has choosen to make their career in politics, won’t they consider keeping their job the most important goal?  Many people have become disgruntled with the advantage than an incumbant has over a challenger, and various attempts at limiting the number of terms that can be served in a given office have been put forward.  Most have failed, because there is no agreement on the limits.

When this country was founded, getting people to serve in public office was a huge problem.  Often, it meant being away from one’s farm or business for months at a time, which could lead to financial ruin.  Now, we have legislators who have been in office for decades, who have hardly spent any time in the areas that they represent, who have developed close relationships with lobbyists.

I say, force people to step down when their term of office expires, and don’t allow anyone holding elected office, even if it is at the local level, to run for another office.  I am sick of mayors running for state representative, or county commisioners campaigning for state senate office.  I don’t want to see any more governers using their office as a stepping stone to higher office, because they have been elected to do a job.  When an office holder is campaigning for re-election, or election to another office, how focused are they on their job?  How likely are they to do what is right, even if it means displeasing the public initially?

No term limits, for any office.  But no incumbancy, either.  You serve your term, then you are out.  You can run as many times as you want, but, if elected, you have to step down when your term is up.  This is the only truly fair way to insure that we get proper representation in our government, as well as the only way that I can think of that important decisions will be made with the interests of the country in the forefront.  The term ‘career politician’ offends me, because a career politician is someone who has made staying in office their primary goal, not serving their country.

Future shocking?

2008/10/26

It amazes me that we are not hearing any straight talk about what lies ahead, as if things could somehow go on as they have before. Even though I have only a small education in economics, it seems obvious to me that the United States is going to have a huge amount of debt to pay off. This can only be done by working together to create things of lasting value which can be used by large numbers of people. Infrastructure. Trade cannot pay off debt, because nothing of lasting value is created in trade.

Consumer spending is based almost entirely upon trade, so consumer spending will have to decline. But how could consumer spending continue at previous levels if people are all broke? Something is going to have to replace consumer spending as the engine of the economy, and it will have to be big. Instead of building roads, though, maybe we should consider some new kinds of infrastructure. Like fiber optic cables to every home, and a combination data terminal/videophone in every house. A national high speed rail network. Upgrade the electric grid, and run transmission lines to areas where wind is plentiful. Insulate every structure in the nation. Not just spending money, but actually increasing our efficiency as a nation.

Demand for resources can easily outstrip supply if developing countries begin large-scale consumption. The resulting supply-side shocks cripple the economy, pushing up inflation at the same time that wages become stagnant. Greed overwhelms the markets, and a herd mentality emerges, where any profitable strategy is immediately copied, over and over again. One sub-prime mortgage is not a problem. Several million of them are. So markets will have to be guided into spending a portion of their capital on long-term projects, which will dampen the volatility in the short term, while providing guidance for investors as to where long-term growth will be.

Our future economic expansion must be based in increasing our net worth, not financial manipulations of value. Paying for this increase will mean working longer hours, so that the tax burden is spread over more earnings. The payment of cash dividends has got to be discouraged, so that corporations can invest their earnings into new means of production, training, and research. Military spending has got to be reduced, as that is money that disappears from our economy after one pass through it. Spending on space exploration needs to be increased, because it generates new wealth at a rate nearly unequaled, while engaging the high-tech military-industrial complex.

Saving has got to be encouraged, so that the government will have access to money to use for these programs. Payroll accepted in the form of U.S. savings bonds should be tax free, and the payroll value calculated in immediate redemption value, not the face value at maturity. Interest on savings accounts should be tax free. We are going to have to stop relying on foreign countries to carry our debt, because we are making our money worthless. Only by working together, and sharing the sacrifices, can we have any hope of coming out of this economic meltdown.

Hey, buddy, can you spare a billion?

2008/10/23

A landlord once told me that he was worried where he was going to get his next 1,000 dollars, which kind of put my problems in perspective.  For many major companies right now, figuring out where they are going to get their next billion dollars is a major concern.  America has become addicted to easy credit, from the Federal government down to the folks next door.  The term ‘bridge loan’ has nothing to do with bridges, but instead is an industry term for short-term financing to get through until expected funds become available.  It is kind of like a payday loan, but at much lower interest rates.

The state of California was used to getting bridge loans, a few billion to tide it over until tax revenues start coming in next spring.  Many companies borrow for a day, a week, or a month, at low interest, to cover payroll, for instance.  But it wasn’t always like this, which is why things are so messed up right now.  It used to be, companies kept cash in bank accounts to cover any conceivable expense, because credit was hard to get, even for multi-million dollar organizations.  States would borrow money, but only through bond sales, which were usually long-term instruments, often 20 years.  They had to keep their accounts in the black to cover day-to-day expenses.

Homeowners had savings accounts that often represented a year or more worth of income, to protect against a water heater going bad, or having to buy a new car, or somebody getting really sick.  The only way to get the equity out of a house was to sell it.  But most people had enough in the bank to see them through, so they didn’t need to borrow against what they had paid on their home.  Then, something changed, something which was a fundamental shift in thinking.

When people had spent all of their extra cash, they quit buying stuff that they really didn’t need.  This seems logical enough, but it meant that consumer spending began to decline, which hurt the profits of many big corporations.  In order to keep people buying stuff, an new idea surfaced.  Easy credit.  The credit card.  A homeowner was a sure bet, because their house would be their collateral for their debt.  Enter Monster Card, and its brethren.  In an amazingly short period of time, the United States went from being the largest creditor nation to the largest debtor nation, as easy credit spread from homeowners to big corporations to states.

Borrowing money used to be looked down upon, because good people paid cash.  Little by little, that stigma was erased, and replaced with a belief that we deserved what we wanted, right away.  Instant gratification became the standard operating procedure of not just teenagers, but adults, executives, and elected officials.  Of course, lending out money is a profitable enterprise, so everybody jumped on the bandwagon.  And, an obscure rule of accounting made it even easier.  If someone owes you money, it increases your net worth.  Accounts receivable are counted as an asset on a balance sheet.

The more money that is owed you, the wealthier you are, irregardless of the ability of the debtors to pay you back.  On paper, you can be worth millions, even billions, but not have two dimes to rub together.  Say, buddy, can you spare a billion?  I’m a little short right now.

Words for the season

2008/10/22

HARVEST KING

AND

THE FESTIVAL OF AUTUMN

I am the Harvest King.
My colors are brown and yellow, orange and black.
I am the bounty of the land.
The death which brings life.
I am Change, and Sacrifice for the Future.
I am that which makes space for new life.
I will come for you.

In Death, we celebrate new beginnings,
As we cherish that which has passed on.
The Harvest King reminds us of the sacred nature of life,
And drives us together,
So that we may face the coming Winter.
The Life Force withdraws from the land,
And we gather to draw strength from each other,
And the memories of those who have gone before us.

We celebrate the Life Force which has died,
Cherishing the sacrifice made for the living.
We glimpse the full cycle of the wheel,
Life emerging from the residue of Death,
Growing, creating more Life, sharing in the harvests,
And then, joining the slumbering pool of Life,
Waiting to be reborn.

Scott P. Holman

No more IOU’s, just cash from now on.

2008/10/17

It cracks me up to hear the presidential candidates saying that they won’t raise taxes.  We are so deep in debt right now that we are probably going to see a longer work week sometime soon, just so that we can have something to take home after taxes.  Bailing out the greedy and the lazy will push us much deeper into the red than anyone thought possible just a few months ago.

What happened to the American work ethic?  When did it become disrespectful to work?  A great deal of the economic woe that we are facing now is because so many Americans were trying to get wealthy without having to work.  Not to mention the impact that having to pay a cash dividend every year has had on our industries.  Even when business is horrible, big companies have continued to hand out hundreds of millions, even billions, in cash to people who own their stock.

It used to be that buying stock was considered an investment in the future, because the payoff would take a few years, as the company gradually grew.  Somewhere along the line, somebody realized that they could sell a lot more stock if they promised to pay the people who bought that stock a cash payment every year, just for owning the stock.  In today’s world, large sums of cash can be hard to come by, resulting in companies having to get loans to pay the stockholders their dividends.

Even when that doesn’t happen, the profits that the company make are not being reinvested in the company, they are going to the shareholders.  Instead of developing new products, and more efficient methods of producing existing ones, companies are ‘outsourcing’ much, if not all, of their production.  This looks great on the balance sheet, but in the long term, it is suicide.  Who is going to buy the products that the company makes if everyone is out of work?

Everyone is getting all hot and bothered about the completely unrealistic levels of compensation that many executives have been getting, but all of their salaries and bonuses together would hardly be a drop in the bucket compared to the billions and billions that are paid out in dividends every year.  Those dividends are the future of our nation, the ability to grow, to innovate, to improve.  We are throwing those things away so that a bunch of lazy idiots can sit around doing nothing.

If the work week ends up being 50, or even 60, hours, than I think we should make it illegal to pay stockholders in cash any kind of dividend.  Make their shares worth more, so that all of us will be worth more.  The growth that we thought we were enjoying has turned out to be an illusion, a bubble that all of us helped to create.  Wealth is once again going to be measured by tangible things, not pieces of paper.

No matter how much the government gives the banks, the banks are not about to start loaning money out, because the bankers know that we are all broke, and they don’t want to lose any more of the so-called value that they are responsible for.  Because they will have to pay their shareholders with cash, not IOU’s.

Sailing around the world

2008/10/02

In a couple of days, on October 4th, the 2008-2009 running of the Volvo Ocean Race Round The World begins.  This is ‘life at the extreme’, sailing around the world in the most advanced yachts in there are.  People have died during this race, and boats have been lost.  The race covers much of the globe, from Spain to South Africa, Australia, Brazil, the United States, and back to Europe for the finish.  From dodging iceburgs in the Southern Ocean to standing watch in shorts, the crews experience a wide range of weather.  In-port races provide action up close, while videos are recorded and transmitted from the boats during the 5and 6,000 mile long open ocean legs.

The race began as the the Whitbread, in 1974, the result of a challenge thrown down in an English pub.  Run every 4 years until now, the race is considered the Himilayas of sailing.  The boats are now built specifically for the race, at a cost of millions of dollars.  They are constructed almost entirely of carbon, using techniques developed in the aviation industry.  In order to allow sailing even faster, they have keels which can be moved from side to side.  The last race saw 25 whole days subtracted from the previous record, with boat speeds of 25 to 30 knots being common.  One boat covered 562 miles in a 24 hour period, setting a mark which still stands.

You don’t have to be into sailing to get excited about this race, because it is flat out, balls-to-the-wall action from start to finish, apart from the occasional windless days.  The crews come from all over the world, and are the best of the best at what they do.  This race is about using a knowledge of Nature, advanced technology, and the power of the human spirit to challenge the deep blue sea.  Check it out at http://www.volvorace.com.  They even have a web TV site, with highlights of past races.  I think that it is a lot better than watching cars burn up gas.

Moonlight stroll in the quiet

2017/07/10

Just returned from a brief walk in the light of a full moon, enjoying the quiet of early Monday, when most people are asleep.  Sometimes, I believe that I can sense the moods of others, and nighttime is the most stress-free time, it seems.  There is a belief, which I subscribe to, that the moods and thoughts of others can influence our own thinking.  Not drastically, or overpowering in intensity, but discernible.

Looking at the moon made me think of an animation made up of images taken from a space satellite which is between the Earth and the Sun.  The animation   shows the Moon crossing the face of the Earth, and you can see the far side of the Moon.  How would our minds be affected if we were that far away from the rest of humanity for a period of at least a month?  Is the Moon close enough that there would be no difference?  Will we ever find out?  I hope so.

The Better Wealth Care Act

2017/06/25

The Republicans in the Senate are scrambling to pass a bill gutting the health care system in the United States before anyone can examine it.  The bill was drafted in secret, without input from doctors, insurance companies, hospitals, or those who it will affect.  The primary purpose of this bill is to allow taxes on the very wealthy to be reduced.  Those taxes have supported the expansion in Medicaid which has allowed millions of people access to health care for the first time in their lives.  (I don’t consider emergency room visits to be ‘access to health care’.)

What the Republicans are basically saying is “we don’t care about you, you little grub.”  They don’t feel a part of the community, because their wealth allows them to survive outside of the community.   Our society is under attack by people who are afraid of society, of community, of sharing the surplus.  They don’t view the average person as a person, but as bunch of numbers; productivity, age, pay rate, etc.  People are a resource to be mined, exploited, used up and thrown away.

The supporters of this bill are not concerned with health care, they only want wealth care.  More tax breaks to the people who would never be able to spend all what they have.

Greed Kills!

2017/06/21

London experienced a horrible fire recently, when a 24 story apartment building caught fire and burned rapidly.  So far, 79 people are either confirmed dead or missing and confirmed dead, and the death doll may go higher.  I happened to be reading the New York Times at the time that the fire was reported, and the video that I saw was terrifying.

High rise buildings are designed to contain fires to their starting point, so that people have a chance to get out.  This building burned like it was soaked in gasoline.  Seeing a multi-story residential building burning from top to bottom is utterly wrong, never supposed to happen kind of stuff:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKe2I-s_AQo&index=1&list=FLT0coajYwPzUbTWP5a9lTEQ

From the first, people who lived in the building were saying that the cladding,  which had been added during a 10 million pound renovation as insulation, had burned rapidly, spreading the fire from a lower floor to the top floor in minutes.  Additionally, the building only had one fire stairwell, and there was no central fire alarm system.  As the building had been built in 1974, it was not required to have sprinklers.  That anyone escaped at all is mostly due to the presence in the building of many Muslim people who were awake preparing their Ramadan meal and spread the alarm.

This horrible tragedy was completely preventable, and most certainly is the result of criminal negligence.  Terrorism is an act meant to force people to change.  Setting people up to die  by saving a few pennies is far worse.

Strength through knowledge, not arms

2017/06/12

President Trump has been talking about spending a bunch more money on the military, supposedly to make the U.S. safer.  But the military cannot make us safer, they only can provide the means to retaliate for any acts of terrorism.  What can make us safer is technology, technology to detect threats and identify the people behind them.

A big part of the justification for increasing military spending is to insure that the high-tech companies that are essential to the military are kept in business.  But these companies are also the ones which make possible our exploration of space.  By spending money on space technology instead of on the military, we can support the development of new technologies as well as keeping the industrial side of the military-industrial complex healthy.  Many of the military’s weapon systems have been impacted by developments resulting from space exploration.

Aircraft carriers, tanks, and airplanes will not protect us against acts of terror.  Spending more on the military will not make us safer.  Spending on space exploration promotes the development of new technologies, while at the same time providing business to companies involved in defense.  The microprocessor was a spin-off from the space program which has affected every aspect of our lives.  Spending on space is a far better investment than spending on the military.

Wanting Change

2017/06/07

Americans by and large want to see changes in their country.  They see many problems that should be addressed, they see large amounts of money disappearing into government treasuries, and they wonder if they will be employed in six months.  Change is happening, but not very often for the better.

The changes that we need are ones that deal with our selves, our expectations, our hopes, our strengths, and our weaknesses.  Understanding that we need to work together to achieve things, so that we can combine our strengths to counter our weaknesses.  We have been trained to crave physical, material, monetary rewards in lieu of all else, yet we need spiritual rewards as well;  the pride of a job well done, the thrill of achieving a goal with teamwork, the feeling of being included when part of a group working together.

Even more so, we need the emotional and spiritual energy of sharing good times with others, excitement and novelty to inspire creativity, and affirmation and recognition to develop self-esteem.  We need to open up to our spiritual side, the side of how we treat each other, and how we treat ourselves.  All of us have worth, all of us contribute somehow.  Treat yourself like you would treat a good friend.  Do not fear change.

Russian interference? Nyet!

2017/05/23

There is now overwhelming evidence that Hillary Clinton would have won the 2016 election had not the Russian government gotten involved.  And there is little question that Donald Trump does not represent the majority of the people.  What should we, the People do?  Vice-President Pence is so deeply in the Russian’s pocket that he had to recuse himself from the investigation, so merely impeaching Trump will not solve the problem.

I am incensed that our government has been corrupted by foreign interference, and I want to see action taken to right this wrong!  Oh, wait a minute…  We need the Russians to be able to get to the space station, don’t we?  We can’t put a person in orbit ourselves, can we?  And here we are talking about sending people to Mars.   No wonder people want to go to Mars, there is no intelligent life here on Earth.

The Russians got a double deal with Trump; not only someone  more pliable than Hillary Clinton, but a person whose personality is likely to destroy the office of the President of the United States.

The West in crisis

2017/05/07

France teeters on the edge of a anti-Eurpopean revolt, the United States seems locked in a internal war, and England has decided to leave the European Union, which it was never completely a part of.  Spain, Italy, and Greece, the foundation of the Western mind, are trapped in financial suspended animation.  Germany’s premiere auto maker admits to designing vehicles to cheat on emissions tests.

Social issues, such as financial in-equality, health care, and retirement benefits are becoming very important in the U.S., eroding the dominance capitalism has had for the last 150 years.  Church attendance is at all-time lows, yet many people are interested in spiritual growth.  Evidence indicates that Russia meddled with the American election, throwing the result into question.

The acceptance of capitalism and materialism in areas outside the West is very troubling, because they are not working very well in the West.  Greed for ever increasing profit, disregard for environmental issues, and lack of sustainability are becoming trademarks of the Western world.  The West consumes the majority of the world’s resources, yet represents only a fraction of the world’s population.  That is unlikely to continue, especially as countries like China adopt automobiles in place of bicycles.  We all are going to be riding bicycles soon, I think, and we will consider ourselves lucky to have them.

The wrong stuff

2017/05/01

America was made great by companies working together with employees to build products which would last and last.  America was made great by governments investing the public’s money into roads, bridges, and water systems.  America was made great by working people sacrificing part of their lives to an employer, or by people who built their own empires from the ground up.

America is being destroyed by greed, the belief that work is somehow demeaning, only fit for inferiors.  Greed which drives corporations to focus on practices which drive away customers; cutting costs often means cutting staffing, so there are fewer people to provide customer service.  The emphasis on profit has become obsessive, driven by shareholders who demand an income from lending money to a company.

Capitalism may have been great during the early years of the United States, but it is doing great harm today.  Wealth is so concentrated that the economy is capsizing.  Debt is considered an essential financial tool, instead of last resort.  Banks no longer are lending depositors money, but money from investors hungry for immediate rewards.  Many dwellings are mortgaged for more than they are worth, and there are vacant homes all over the country.

Taking care of the people should be the most important aspect of society, insuring that there are healthy, educated, well-fed people to perform the work needed to support an advanced society.  Single-payer health care is an essential aspect of an advanced economy, protecting the employer from the costs of employee’s health care for life.  This health care should include dental, vision, and behavioral aspects, as the prevention of problems is far cheaper than dealing with the problems.  Providing minimal housing is another essential government role, insuring that everyone can sleep indoors if they want to.  We don’t need a three-bedroom home for every person, but a shipping container can provide superior protection from the elements for a very small price.  How you fix up the inside is up to you.

Taking care of the people is like taking care of your car.  Unless you don’t care about costs, taking care of tools, vehicles, or plant and equipment is essential.  People are our most valuable resource, and we have been exploiting people without mercy.  The rewards for submitting to the constraints of employment have been diminishing for decades.  Our spiritual lives are frequently empty and barren, amidst a society obsessed with material things.

Our culture  of greed is making people sick, to the point of killing each other, and themselves.  Our society is destroying us, exploiting us to death.  We cannot go back to earlier days, nor can we afford to continue as we are.  Change is inevitable, and the longer it is delayed, the more disruptive it will be.

Science saves lives!

2017/04/24

On Saturday, April 22nd, I joined hundreds of people to march in the streets for Science.  In was also Earth Day, and we were marching for Earth as well as Science.  After chasing down materials an hour before the march, I made a sign that said “Science saves lives!”.  This message was my own idea, and I liked it more than any that I had seen on the Web.  I discovered that it was also an easy slogan to chant, and got people to chant it several times.

Science is under attack, by people who don’t want to believe that our existence is threatened by our own activities, or who feel that profit is more important than the future.  Some people believe that Science is anti-spiritual, anti-religious, because their faith depends on miracles.  I happen to believe that Science does not have all the answers, and that there are things which we cannot measure, or detect, which still have an impact on the Universe.

Science is not bad, or evil, it is neutral.  It can be used to do harm, to destroy, but it also is an important part of survival.  But Science can be hard for people to understand, and even intelligent, well-meaning people can get confused.  Vaccines are beneficial, the square root of negative one does exist in mathematics, and electricity flows from negative to positive.  Investigate, study, question.  These are fundamental to the scientific process.

An artificial family

2017/04/14

The extended family, tribe, or clan has been the support system of humanity for thousands of generations.  In the United States, that support system is nearly extinct.  Never before have parents been the sole, primary caregivers of their children.  The breakdown in the behavior of youth is a direct result, I believe, of children not having elders available who have time on their hands to spend with children.  This is most critical for children in the toddler stage, ages 2 to 5, when self-esteem, awareness of social history, and feelings of inclusiveness are developing.

Instead of putting children in daycare centers where a small number of young adults oversee 20, or even 30 children, I recommend that we establish daycare centers in assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and other places where there are many elders with time on their hands.  This would benefit not only the children, but the elders as well, giving them a sense of connection with the future.  Large concentrations of elders without any young people is totally unnatural, an environment where depression and despondency are to be expected.

Having high school-age young adults help with the toddlers and small children would provide the able-bodied people needed to ride herd on a group of rambunctious kids, while allowing the elders to spend time with the youngest children, listening to them, telling them stories, singing songs with them, and generally letting the children know that they are important, and are part of the group.  And we could probably save some money in the process.