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.

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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.

Living in the cloud

2017/04/05

A friend has gotten me to think about the difference between studying to gain knowledge and learning how to access knowledge quickly.  ‘In an era when I can look up practically anything, why should I spend years studying different subjects so that I can be tested upon them?’ is a paraphrase of what he said.  He also once talked about living in an “effluent society”, but that is neither here nor there.

Human knowledge has far exceeded the ability of any one person to grasp.  We need to decide what are the fundamentals that we must teach each other, what skills are so essential that we should group people together for hours at a time so that they can learn them.  Simply knowing that knowledge exists is not the same as having the knowledge, and knowledge affects our actions and thoughts.  But not all people are going to be receptive to the same knowledge, so we must choose a way to convey it that is flexible, with those who are interested being able to pursue something further.  The ‘classroom’ has become one of the biggest impediments to education, in my opinion, because it stipulates that everyone is going to learn at the same rate, and in the same way.

Treating us as individuals means stepping away from the industrial ‘assembly line’ method of instruction.  Focusing on a persons strengths, helping them to overcome weaknesses, developing their personalities, these are the role that the public school system must fulfill.  We can have a room full of students, but we should not view them as a ‘class’.  American society has gutted the family, destroying the network of relatives and friends that were responsible for the raising of the young for thousands of generations.  Nurturing means showing the world to someone, while helping them to cope with it.  The world is a vast mix of ideas, cold realities, and ignorance.

The electronic world offers us near instant feedback on our efforts, if we are strong enough to pay attention.  Living in the cloud means being aware of each other in near real time.  This promotes a group consciousness, a multi-mind, which can occur when a number of people are thinking about the same thing at the same time.  We may be evolving into a single sentient organism, if some science fiction writers are correct, but we still need to get along with each other in the meantime, and schools are where we will learn how.  People have to be taught how not to get caught up in emotions, how to say ‘no’ to themselves, and to others, and how to believe in themselves as people, with intrinsic value.  We have to care about ourselves before we can really care about others.

Destroying our community

2017/03/22

Without community, humans are nothing, for they will lose everything they create or accomplish, when their life ends. Community can preserve the creations of the individual, and build upon the accomplishments of its members. Community is what gives us strength in times of adversity, community is what helps us to find work or other resources, community is essential to the human existence.

Community is under attack, being gutted, by the wealthy of the United States. They have no sense of community, feeling no inclination to share their immense wealth in ways that create meaningful work for everyday people. The tiny fraction of the population which controls nearly all of the wealth resents any suggestion that what they are extracting from the community is, in any way, shape, or form, the property of those whose work made the wealth. Their incredible wealth has made it so that they can live beyond the community, without the need for others to help with the children, or the gardening, or the housework. They pay servants for those services, thus maintaining a barrier between themselves and the working class people.

The ‘haves’ label as communism any attempt to improve the community which requires the redistribution of wealth. Yet, without community, there would be no ‘haves’, or ‘have-nots’, because humanity would have perished long ago. If we do not take care of each other, eventually we all will encounter a time when we need help and there will be no one there.

Debt: Destroying us with money.

2017/03/14

“Money and debt make it possible to influence people without having public executions.” Justin Michael Barnett 2017/03/14

Money has been fundamental to human development. Debt has been an instrument of mass destruction, which is ravaging our society, our entire planet right now. Debt is funny money, money which has not been made yet. However, debt can be recorded in American accounting as an asset, increasing the monetary worth of the lender, even though collection of a certain percentage of debt is impossible. Debt is the American contribution to the world, a slavery made possible by using material things as a basis of our self image.

Americans probably were not the ones who came up with the idea of a company store, where employees can charge food and other goods to an account. The company never paid quite enough to get by on, so most of the employees were in debt to the store. But if they quit, they would have to pay off the company store. American companies went into Nicaragua, bought up most of the countryside, and planted bananas. Then the locals were offered employment with the banana company, (Day-O! Daylight come and me want go home.) or they could starve. Or move.

But that was not the worst. In order to keep consumerism from collapsing due to the American public having spent their savings completely, easy credit was introduced. Debt. This was a creation of the banking industry, the idea that someone would be allowed to purchase something with money that they had not earned yet. The idea of individuals being able to borrow money is exceptionally recent, compared to the immense history of banking. But then, so is the economic model of consumerism, which is the structure of the American economy.

As consumers, we are expected to consume. However, we are not making enough to consume very much, in spite of how cheap everything has gotten. Things are so cheap because they are made from American materials shipped half way round the world, processed into goods by people making a dollar or two a day, and then shipped back to the United States. That is a simplistic generalization to illustrate the insanity which prompted manufacturers to abandon a labor market which demanded health care benefits, retirement benefits, and vacation time. Calculating the worth of products in money makes it seem worthwhile to ship materials to China to get finished goods back. There is no monetary way of calculating the value of jobs, health care, extended families, and happiness.

Those are some of the things that we have lost because of money and materialism. We should also include the environment, courtesy, patience, and sharing. Money allows us to live outside of the community, not dependent on group resources to survive. Debt shackles us to the past, destroying our future.

Keeping the sky from falling

2017/03/06

Most people seem to have little interest in space.  They perhaps believe that nothing that goes on off-planet will affect them.  Yet, it has been shown that rocks falling on Earth can affect us.  Most recently, a city in Russia, Chelyabinsk Oblast, was nearly hit by a meteor large enough to destroy a building, and the shock waves damaged hundreds of buildings.  There are geological remains of impact craters kilometers across, and photographs of the results of a meteor blast which leveled trees for kilometers around.

Detecting these rocks from here on Earth can be very difficult, because they are dark and do not reflect very much light.  Also, some of them spend most of their time between the Earth and the Sun, so they are nearly impossible to see.  Back in the early 1990’s, a rock over a kilometer across passed between the Earth and  the Moon, and no one knew it was there until it was between the Earth and the Moon.  A rock that size would destroy an entire region, and could potentially cause extreme weather which would make life on Earth very difficult.  An impact of a similar size 65 million years ago is almost certainly what ended the long reign of the dinosaurs.

From outer space, rocks are much easier to detect, because they reflect some of the thermal energy of the Sun.  A satellite close to the orbit of Venus would be able to detect any large rocks with orbits near the Earth’s, and could also detect any intruders from the outer Solar System.  A few hundred million dollars for such a satellite does not seem too expensive to insure that we do not get blind-sided by a big rock.

 

Are community and society evil?

2017/03/06

There is a lot of talk about how ‘socialist’ the Affordable Care Act is.  To me, socialism is society at work, the caring for of the individual by the group.  If we ditch society, what have we left?  The individual?  Individuals die, leaving behind nothing except what they have created that is of value to the group.  Society, the group, may survive, but the individual will not.  The group, the community, is what our effort should benefit, because if we make things better for everyone, they will get better for us, too.  But ‘community’ is very close to ‘communism’ in some people’s dictionary, and communism is the mortal enemy of capitalism.  Except in China, apparently.  Any talk of ‘sharing the wealth’ brings out rabid, growling conservatives, bound and determined to protect everything that they have acquired.

For too long have humans been able to survive as individuals, without the aid of the community.  Being a member of a group, a community, was essential for survival for most of human evolution.  Being a member of community is also the only way that what we have accomplished, what we have learned, will be passed on, remembered, used.  But wealth has made it so that some can believe that they are above the community, that they do not have to contribute to the welfare of the group.   To these people, society is an enemy, an adversary.  They view individuals as faceless drones, of no value beyond their ability to work and to consume.  They are comfortable exploiting these workers because they are not part of the same community.

We can now look back at our home from outside, from the orbit of the Moon, for instance.  What we see is a single planet, which we all share.  No longer can we pretend that we are separate from any others.  We are all in this together.