Oct 23

Humanity Toward the Stars

In Brief—As we are told that habitable planets are increasingly being discovered in the universe, the author examines whether humans are likely to visit those planets in the future.

The Stars Beckon; Do We Measure Up?—

Today must be a slow news day. The Times tantalizes us with a report that another Galaxy Locationpossibly habitable planet has been found in the “Goldilocks Zone” of Alpha Centauri, our nearest neighbor in this galaxy. It’s only 4.37 light years away from us, a mere walk-around-the-block in terms of the enormous size of the known universe. The “Goldilocks Zone,” by the way, is that distance from a star that allows for the possibility of being habitable to Earhlings.

Not only is traveling to Alpha Centauri pie-in-the-sky, but interestingly the story allows Times readers to keep on doing as they have been doing since we can always go to another planet once we finish screwing up Earth. The Swedes call it the “Wear it out, Throw it away” philosophy. Humans are short-term thinkers, refusing to think about the future. I’m going to pop the “travel-to-the-stars” balloon.

Reality Intrudes—

A light year is the distance light travels in a year. Light travels at a speed of roughly 186,000 miles per second. A beam of light takes about 8 minutes to travel from here to our sun which is actually a star. Earth is in the “Goldilocks Zone” of our planetary system.

The number of miles between Earth and Alpha Centauri is 25 trillion miles. 25 TRILLION! And that’s if we traveled at the speed of light…which we can’t. With current technology, it’s estimated that we will be able to go only about one-quarter of the speed of light. Guess how long that would take? Like about 75,000 years!!

We’ve all seen Star Trek where they have warp drive that allows them to go faster than the speed of light. While that speed has been theorized, it’s no more than pipe dreams and certainly not within reach of the best minds in science even with the advances expected in the next decades. Here are a few sobering conditions of traveling to Alpha Centauri.

What’s the trip going to cost? In America today, particularly with an ever-expanding military and America’s political system, we don’t have enough money to take care of our own domestic needs, so any trip to Alpha Centauri will have to involve several other nations. Those nations have their own financial problems. Thus, it’s going to be a matter of priorities. Think about refugees? Or stretched world finances? Or climate change?

Planning? Such a massive undertaking requires years of planning. Unmanned probes. Vastly improved telescopes. Unknown exigencies will arise during the trip and must be anticipated.

Cost is a major part of the considerations. Cost overruns are as common as dirt. Nothing costs what is originally planned.

Here’s a list that undoubtedly understates the other roadblocks to eventually heading for Alpha Centauri.

Who goes and how many? Remember that this one-way trip will take generations. Females? Males? Ages? Marital status? If the astronauts have partners or children, they will never see them again. Technical expertise? A big space ship needs lots of maintenance, particularly if it’s struck by a particle of space debris. Elder care? Astronauts will age and die. Physical and Emotional health? Potential human conflicts? Jealousy or different habits. Food? People eat. Exercise? The film 2001 comes to mind. Diseases? Death? Disposal of remains?

Size of Space Ship? This will depend on the number of humans, propulsion, food and necessaries like equipment, etc. Remember they won’t know what conditions will prevail. The size of the vehicle will necessitate launch from beyond Earth because the load is enormous. Where? Earth’s moon? How is everything transported to the launch site and how long will it take? Indeed, where is the spaceship built?

Training? In any enterprise of this magnitude, the original crew will have to train for the trip. Training takes time. Additionally, we have to assume that children born during the trip will be taught the necessary skills required in order to take over when the previous crew is no longer able to perform the necessary tasks.

As we look around the world today, we see wars, displacement, fraternal disagreements, fear, disarray, greed and a whole laundry list of discord. That discord doesn’t bode well for a trip that will take thousands of years. How can we expect that short-term thinking humans will overcome this? And I haven’t even discussed human nature.

What we must do is deal with the many problems faced on Earth and forget about the fantasy of finding another planet to pollute and destroy. Earth is our home. Let’s care for it and its creatures. Let’s treat it as our home.

Oct 16

Live With It or Deal With It

In Brief—Problems come into our lives, so we have a choice to either accept what has come our way or we can change it. The choice is ours.

Not Choosing is a Choice—

Illusions book cover“Illusions” by Richard Bach contains a wise bit of advice: “There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts.”

A second story illustrates the difference between an optimist and a pessimist. Two little boys are put in different rooms. One little boy is put in a room filled with horse manure and a shovel while the other little boy is put in a room filled with shiny new toys.

After a while, the researchers open the second little boy’s door to find him crying and the toys untouched. “Why are you crying?” they ask. The second little boy sobs, “All of these toys are just going to get broken.” When they open the door to the first little boy’s room they find him whistling and digging away. “Why are you so happy” they ask. The little boy replies, “With all this manure there has to be a pony in here somewhere.”

Put the two stories together and I ask, are you looking for the gift when a problem arises in your life?

We are often told that we should leave the world a better place than when we arrived. Good advice but that doesn’t mean you need to engage in selfless service to those less fortunate although that is good way to live your life. Think of the many ways you can live your life for the betterment of those around you and those you meet.

A Blueprint for a Better Person—

First, a caution: Don’t let perfection be the enemy of the doable. Remember that you are human and give yourself a break. The goal is making yourself a better person, not a saint.

  • Be honest with yourself. Honesty with others will follow. Shakespeare’s admonition is always true: ”To thine own self be true.” Honesty with yourself is hard, but it’s necessary. Honesty becomes easy after a while; lies get harder until they collapse. A lie makes you feel bad, so it doesn’t make sense to court bad feelings.
  • Be fair to yourself. You give your friends a break, so give yourself a break. Put clearly, don’t beat up on yourself. If you make a mistake, refuse to tell yourself that you’re a bad person; you are human after all. Just try to avoid making that mistake again.
  • Several times a day—not just once or twice—tell yourself in positive terms that you are, for example, an honest and good person. It’s called an affirmation. Do you feel down? Tell yourself “I am feeling good” (present tense) not “I will feel good” (future tense).

If you want to read to your children Great! You’ll feel good, they’ll feel good and the bonus is that you might make them readers.

If you want to bring some cheer to your fellow workers in the office, Wonderful! They will feel better and so will you. That’s a good investment toward being a better person.

That’s enough for today. Honesty. Fairness. Affirmation. Your imagination can provide hundreds of suggestions. Let’s not overload you now with things you can do to leave the world a better place for your having been here.

Put your problems behind you and be a gift to the world. You are bringing about positive change. Beats living with the same old same old.


Oct 09

The Fusty Tradition of Changing Time

In Brief—A look at how we are being dangerously conned with Daylight Savings Time.


Time is Money

Savings TimeSpring ahead. Fall back. Yep, we’re talking about Daylight Savings Time (DST) here, folks. That’s how you’re supposed to remember how to change the clocks twice each year. In the spring, set the clocks one hour ahead; in the fall, set the clocks back one hour. The only thing worse is jet lag…but more about that later. And capitalism.

How many time pieces do you have? Wall? Bedside? Wrist? Car? Upstairs and down? Inconvenient? Is the Pope Catholic? We have to change the clocks twice a year unless you are one of those lucky enough to have an automatic system to take care of your wall clocks…or live in Arizona or Hawaii.

First the dose of castor oil: When did the tradition of Daylight Savings Time (DST) arise?

Daylight Savings Time has been around for some time. It is said that Benjamin Franklin first wrote about it in the 18th century (it’s his quotation above), but not until the 20th century was it actually instituted. With the exception of Arizona and Hawaii, all the American states have Daylight Savings Time. Since it has been moved around by Congress and the vast majority of Americans hate it, why in Sam Hill are we saddled with Daylight Savings Time (DST)?

There are a number of confusing beliefs about changing the time. Does it add to the number of daylight hours in any day? No, DST makes only the evening hour lighter! Regardless of where we live on Earth, the length of the day changes according to the inclination of the planet and the season. In America, the daylight hours are longer in the summer, shorter in the winter. So Daylight Savings Time adds nothing. Rather it shifts the daylight toward the evening hours and away from the morning. Mornings are darker thanks to Daylight Savings Time.

Benefits of Daylight Savings Time—

Who benefits by it remaining lighter in the evening? Mainly it’s business. Business maintains that most people—not everyone, of course—shop in the evening after they get off work. That’s why politicians in Congress rushed to set up Daylight Savings Time. Ain’t capitalism wonderful! Shopping and buying stuff is what the world is about. Buying and selling—profit-making—is the cornerstone of progress (a little sarcasm here).

Research shows that automobile accidents decline with that extra hour of daylight. That stands to reason. Human eyeballs don’t see as well when it’s dark. Duh! Except we won’t discuss dusk when eyeballs are less efficient, but auto accidents decline when it’s light out.

Another benefit is that we play more during the summer when there’s more light in the evening. Additionally, maybe we’re safer because there’s marginally less crime, but what about the darker morning hours? Do crooks sleep in?

Disadvantages of Daylight Savings Time—

According to reams of research, human health is adversely affected when the time is advanced in the spring and set back in the fall. Heart attacks are significantly more in the first three days after the start of Daylight Savings Time. More automobile accidents occur in these first few days (figure that one out). Same with injuries at work.

Every fall, there are more suicides in those first few days after the backward change. All humans are subject to daily ups and downs in our energy levels. Circadian rhythm, remember? We don’t adapt well to change. Never have. Never will. We arose from the sea where tides are a fact of life. But this isn’t about human evolution, it’s about the alarm clock going off earlier or later.

Experts in human sleep report that springing forward and backward every year is like jet lag except you aren’t traveling. Even though you aren’t traveling, your body doesn’t know it, so your health and alertness suffer. Why?

Thank Congress and politicians catering to business for needlessly stressing your body. They want you to get out there and shop. They don’t care if you die prematurely. Shopping is more important to them.

Let’s put an end to this travesty. Only you folks in Arizona and Hawaii get to rest your pens. The rest of us need to sit down right now and call or write our representative and let him/her know that they should leave the clock alone. If they insist on catering to business, leave Daylight Savings Time in place all year. No forward and backward. Your pet will thank you, your heart will thank you, the majority of your fellow humans will thank you.

Stop messing with time.

Update—Today (August 30, 2016) I see that Massachusetts is proposing to change to year-round summer time. That’s a good sign. Fingers crossed that the other states follow.

Oct 02

Being “The Other”

In Brief— The author wanders through his memories of the New Mexico boarding school and his experience as one of the few Anglos in a predominantly Hispanic school.

Prejudice is the child of ignorance. (William Hazlitt)—

They called me “Whitey.” They called me crude names. I was a scrawny, blond, fifth grader, one of very few Anglos in the Catholic school where Hispanics predominated. The other Anglos, limited in number, were day students living in town.

Wait! I need to tell you why I became “The Other” in that school in Santa Fe.

Prejudice faintAs a kid in the humid Midwest, I was an asthmatic who endured seemingly endless shots to help me breathe when my lungs struggled for air. At his wits end, the family doctor finally said that unless I was in a high dry climate I would die. A boarding school in Santa Fe, New Mexico, was the answer. Alone, a thousand miles from home, I became “The Other” in a class of boys of Hispanic descent.

My class was presided over by tall, lean Brother Benedict dressed in his black cassock and split white collar. He ruled with an iron hand and brooked no nonsense. Pea shooters protruding from hip pockets were confiscated on sight, but piñon nuts were something that couldn’t be stopped. Hidden, but not stopped.

Piñon shells littered the floor and crunched under Brother Benedict’s feet as he patrolled the aisles. I really admired the way my Hispanic classmates could shell the piñons in their mouths and spit the shells out of their mouths while chewing the tasty little nuts inside.

Two of us, Guillermo and I, swapped places as the top students in the class. [I’ve occasionally wondered what became of Guillermo.] Anyway, nothing was quite so embarrassing as sitting on the Brother Superior’s lap and having him praise me while all my classmates’ eyes burned into me. Guillermo never sat on the Brother Superior’s lap. Curious, that. Maybe it was because he was Hispanic or maybe because I was the only Protestant kid in the school…or maybe because the Brother Superior was…

Twice a day, morning and evening, we attended mass in the oldest church in the United States, adjacent to the building where I slept. Damn, but those old wooden kneeling boards were murder to my bony knees. While the other kids took communion (got a round wafer and some grape juice), I had to kneel on that wooden board and wait. I was Protestant, you see. On Sundays, we had to dress up in our finest and march to the cathedral in town for the big weekly mass [Notice that God cares how his worshipers look.], but at least the kneeling boards were padded.

One day, Brother Benedict lost his temper—never far from the surface—when one of the boys was whispering to a companion. WHACK! Swinging with all his might, Brother Benedict broke the oak pointer over the boy’s head. The boy stood up and walked out the door. He never came back. Good for him! I always admired that boy.

Not all the brothers were as nasty as Brother Benedict. Some were close, like the one who struck me on the back of the head because I wasn’t moving fast enough to suit him, but friendly Brother Alec made spinning tops for all the boys and was much liked. Kindly Brother Isodor ran the infirmary and treated one of my friends who was cut by an angry Italian day student wielding a razor.

Not only was the asthma cured but I learned independence and self-reliance. Hikes into the foothills, turning over old gravestones in the abandoned cemetery looking for slithering pets, walking atop the high bordering wall studded with jagged broken bottles, eating the insides out of warm French bread while soft snow flakes drifted down, buying freshly-made tamales from a visiting vendor every weekend. These and more experiences contributed to my growth, to the person I am today.

But how did being the “The Other” teach me acceptance instead of resentment, fear and prejudice? I don’t know. Maybe I paid attention to what I felt. Maybe it has something to do with my character, but it taught me what it’s like to be an outsider in an unfamiliar environment.

Translate that to the current US election—particularly on the Republican side of the aisle—to England’s Brexit as well as the rise of the immigrant-fearing Right throughout Europe and it becomes more meaningful. All those who fear and distrust The Other need to show compassion and understanding as to what it’s like to be an immigrant in a foreign environment, a frightened human fleeing deadly violence, war and privation.

It may be too late for the fearful prejudiced ones to walk a mile in an immigrant’s tattered shoes, but it’s not too late to give thought to why those immigrants are fleeing. To them, it’s a matter of survival.

Humans have brains. They must use them. They must feel in their gut what it’s like to be “The Other.” It’s not too late to be cured. It’s not too late to experience humanity.

Sep 25

Marijuana: Benefits and Dangers

In Brief—A discussion of marijuana and other drugs examines the facts, the myths and the misunderstandings surrounding the acceptance of and resistance against consciousness-altering substances.

America’s Erratic Drug Policies—

I have a confession. I have used consciousness-altering drugs until 2011 when a tumor and an operation ended my use. I drank wine, an occasional dram of single malt whisky and an even more occasional margarita. I used these drugs in moderation or sometimes not at all. However…

All these drugs—and they are drugs—are legal, regulated, readily available…and dangerous. They contain alcohol. Alcohol kills thousands every year through disease, accidents and overdoses while contributing to violence, addiction, homelessness, physical abuse, rape, divorce and other societal ills. Alcohol costs America billions of dollars per year in costs, social, medical, law enforcement and judicial. These costs come out of your pocket.

Marijuana:medicalMeanwhile, the mild hallucinogen marijuana is classified as a federal Schedule 1 drug—along with truly dangerous drugs like heroin—and far too often results in imprisonment for small amounts, even paraphernalia…and yet it is relatively harmless AND medically valuable. Deaths from marijuana overdoses? Zero!!

The United States is, to say the least, erratic when it comes to drugs. Some states allow marijuana, some allow medical marijuana but limited or no personal use, and some states allow neither. Regardless, the federal government’s Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) continues to arrest and prosecute people who use this mild hallucinogen despite the fact that they may hold a legitimate medical marijuana card (as Tommy Chong does) or use the drug in the privacy of their own living quarters.

And heaven help you if you happen to be a minority. The ACLU has documented that black people are arrested nearly four times as often as white people even though they use the drug less. Hispanics are similarly targeted. The enforcement agencies deny that race is a factor. Yeah, sure. If it walks like a duck, has feathers like a duck, etc.

lllegal Drugs—

Earlier I stated that I had used a consciousness-altering drug in the form of legal alcohol. I also confess I used illegal consciousness-altering drugs: primarily marijuana and hashish but also small amounts of psilocybin (magic mushrooms), peyote (once; it tastes awful) and LSD (once; a positive experience). Simultaneously, my use of alcohol dropped to nearly nothing. By the way, did I mention I’m white?

Given my personality, I researched the bejeezus out of these drugs before using them. I even read material from as far back as the mid-19th century. I could find no support for the government’s ludicrous scare stories. Although I would double-check if the government announced the sun rises in the east, since these drugs are Schedule 1 drugs, I avoided cocaine and all the harder drugs because they didn’t pass my research muster.

I used marijuana and the other mentioned drugs on weekends for about fifteen years. One day I simply decided to not use them any more. I had expanded my senses, loosened up and benefitted from their use, but the life of the mind became more important to me. That fact alone knocks the government’s addiction and dependence nonsense into a cocked hat. As I said, government pronouncements kick my skepticism into high gear. I advise healthy skepticism for you, too.

Of all my friends, acquaintances and associates, only two individuals refrained from using marijuana. However, musicians, doctors, lawyers, judges, police officers and college students all used marijuana. Without exception, everybody was stoned at every party I attended. I observed the joints and bongs being passed around. Anybody who tells you they never smoked weed is probably lying.

 Dangers of Marijuana—

  •  Arrest and prosecution!! This is particularly true for people of color. Be very careful whatever your skin pigmentation. This is also true in Sweden which propagandizes even now.
  •  Youngsters whose brains are not yet fully mature should not use. It is reported that the brain is not mature until a human is about 21. Children should NOT use…Period!
  •  Mentally unstable or dependent personality types probably shouldn’t use. Check an honest, unbiased and knowledgeable drug expert on this.

 Benefits of Marijuana—

  •  Food, sex, and music are enhanced. I’d even say they were great.
  •  Numerous medical conditions are treatable or improved: anti-cancer chemotherapy weight loss; chronic pain; post-traumatic-stress-disorder (PTSD); sleeplessness; arthritic pain; epileptic seizures; glaucoma; multiple sclerosis; colitis, approaching death anxiety and more.
  •  Tax revenues can improve state and federal budgets.
  •  Law enforcement and judicial costs can be reduced. A side-effect might be that inasmuch law enforcement no longer targets minority people, race relations might improve.

At the top of this piece, I said that the U.S. government was erratic in its treatment of drug violations. To see just how erratic they are while being entertained, click on the link below to see four comedians discussing the treatment of Tommy Chong, formerly of the comedy team of Cheech and Chong, explain his imprisonment for….paraphernalia (bongs). It’s hilarious, but it’s mind-boggling to learn that federal agents threated to imprison Chong’s wife unless he pled guilty. This is just a glimpse at America’s discombobulated drug laws. Funny but enraging. Click on the link below.


The whole point of this piece is that marijuana is a mild hallucinogen that has never killed a soul, but there it sits on Schedule 1 as a dangerous drug. You have to wonder whose interest keeps it there.

Follow the money” suggests that your representatives are dancing to someone else’s tune, not yours. So what are you going to do about it?

Sep 18

D is for Deity Delusion

In Brief—A review of the origin and delusion of belief in a deity. This review demonstrates a delusion, a dangerous and deadly delusion.


Humans believe what they choose to believe—

Our ancestor, George, was walking along not being careful where he was putting his foot. A rock tripped him. Since humans are said to be pattern-seeking creatures, George believed that the rock deliberately tripped him and therefore the rock must be inhabited by a spirit. Patterns, remember? George believed that the rock’s spirit must be placated. Thus, prayer came into being.

Abstract:ReligionsAlthough this is a fictitious abbreviation of the process, it’s an illustration of the process that led humanity to the belief systems that surround us today. Many of these belief systems are what we call “religion.” The spirit in that rock has been transformed into the deities that plague humanity today.

I have written about how those early deities were the product of the humans who created them. Over the millennia, those deities have evolved as a result of power struggles, mistakes, promotion by the faithful believers—all men, by the way—designed to attract the ignorant humans in the area. Although many were gullible, some were forced at the point of a sword to adopt the belief system peddled by the guy in charge. The deities demanded obeisance or death. How’s that for a choice?

So what are the factors that drove belief—or the factors that drive belief today? My theory is that the motivators are Fear, Ignorance and Brainwashing, the FIB Theory.

Wait a second! For three years, I have been politely telling believing readers that they must use their brains and logic in determining the non-existence of a deity. The believers either let me do my dance or they ignore me altogether. They either believe I’ll be punished by that loving God for using the brain that he gave me—how’s that for illogic?—or they get back to other diversions without weighing the illogic.

By the way, this piece isn’t directed at those who already disbelieve. The seculars add up to roughly 16% of the people on the planet, the third largest and growing group in the world. (Whoopie!) It is directed at Christians and Jews who together make up only about 32% of the world’s believers. It’s also directed at the worshipers of Islam, about 23%. What must the non-Christians, non-Jews and non-Muslims of the world think of the God/Jehovah/Allah worshipers? Who’s wrong? Hm-m-m.

Let’s peer around at what we can see wherever we look. Humans of all ages suffer from cancer and a whole litany of painful diseases. Did the good, all-seeing and all-powerful deity create these people and diseases? Humans kill one another because “The Other” is different and has another view of the good life. Every group does it, and the worshipers of Islam are particularly good at killing their kin. Did the deity create these differences? Starvation abounds. Was the deity resting that day and didn’t want to be disturbed? Humans drown trying to escape privation and corruption. Does the deity care?

What do we fear? In earlier times humans primarily feared natural disasters, enemies, outbreaks of disease or other simple threats. Today, we fear ostracism, abandonment, change, being different.

How has ignorance limited us? In early times, humans were ignorant of physiology, disease, history, human nature and a host of other conditions that science and education have answered. Today, we are unfortunately ignorant of many of the same conditions, we accept the pronouncements of demagogues who prey on that ignorance, but most of all we are ignorant of how our brains work, of our psychological make-up.

How are we brainwashed? In earlier times, humans were led to believe nonsense taught to them by parents, teachers, holy men and society. Today, we are brainwashed by the same influences as in the past. We haven’t progressed. Brainwashing has humanity by the throat. Fear. Ignorance. Brainwashing. To a greater or lesser degree, these lie at the root of the human delusion that a deity exists and that deity looks over everything, even the fallen sparrow.

This by no means implies that non-believers are without fault. We are all humans with many of the same strengths and flaws. Many are good and many are less so, but some take to heart the belief that they want to leave the world better than when they arrived. The sooner the ones who believe in a deity give it up, they will at least be standing on their own two feet free of one more delusion.

As Bertrand Russell once said, “Even if the open windows of science at first make us shiver … in the end, the fresh air brings vigor, and the great spaces have a splendor of their own.”

Sep 11

Dupes Are Born Every Minute

In Brief—With apologies to P.T. Barnum (sorta), the author points out how humans will believe what they want to believe despite solid evidence that they are wrong, whether it’s politics, religion or science.

“There’s a sucker born every minute.” (falsely attributed to P.T. Barnum)—

Machiavelli deceveYou can dress it up and put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig. You can grind up the leftovers of a slaughtered pig and make baloney, but it’s still baloney. Similarly, a politician’s slick lies, a preacher’s promises of salvation and surcease from pain or a demonstrator’s belief that a fertilized egg denotes pregnancy is baloney. Believing does not make it a fact. Those who accept this baloney are dupes.

A naked majorette can march down Main Street ahead of a sixty-piece band and a huge float carrying large signs and banners proclaiming reality, but all the crowd will notice is the naked majorette. I can write dozens of pieces giving enough facts and evidence to choke an elephant, but like that crowd and the majorette, people will believe what they want to believe, see what they want to see. I might as well be shouting into a rain barrel.

My blog pieces on the FIB Theory illustrating how fear, ignorance (NOT stupidity) and brainwashing are the basis of belief might as well be written in a foreign language. Most readers will nevertheless believe what they want to believe.

Governments, ISIS, the Taliban, Boko Haram and other extremist groups recruit cannon fodder who may experience patriotic feelings but are still dupes. I can hear the cries of outrage from here, so what follows will explain how these people are dupes.

What is a dupe? A dupe is defined as one who is deceived, gulled, misled or fooled. Such a person may be sincere but s/he is blinded by some form of belief. Government propaganda or religious convictions can easily lead someone to become a dupe. The deceiver plays on a person’s belief, needs or fears. No matter the motivation, the person is not using his/her brain to decide whether it’s a lie or not. That person is being duped.

America pumps out propaganda that is slavishly reported by the mainstream media telling us how our society and our very existence is threatened, what we should believe, how we should act. The films America produces, its TV, the fashion world all contribute their fair share to the all-inclusive propaganda designed to dupe us.

Similarly, extremists throughout the world inflame the devout with the belief that death and destruction will result in victory for their group. Many believers accept this and sign on the dotted line. Frightened civilians are subjugated or killed by the extremists in the belief that these acts of violence assure that their side will win. Belief is the key. They are dupes.

The Israeli government believes that expanding into Palestinian land and that killing the oppressed and angry Palestinians will assure peace. Trampling free expression, they falsely shout “anti-Semitism” intended to destroy the BDS movement because it threatens their policy. Many Israelis and politicians believe these lies. Belief is the key. The Israelis who believe this and those in other countries who support the Israeli government’s lies are dupes.

Former football player Pat Tillman and all those who bought the government’s line may be patriotic, but they are dupes. Those who believe that military service will put bread on the table while ignoring the risk of death or injury are dupes. They hold the belief that they are serving their nation. In fact, they are serving the rich investors who profit from war. They are dupes.

Somebody with a degree in geology tells us that climate change is a fraud. Some preachers tell the faithful that a fertilized egg denotes pregnancy. Both are peddling lies. A corporation assures one and all that dynamiting the tops off mountains for the coal beneath or that injecting chemicals into the earth to extract the oil are telling lies in order to assure their profits. These are dangerous lies that condemn all inhabitants of Earth to destruction. Anybody who accepts this claptrap is a dupe.

A politician who takes part in obstructing rational progress toward the future is acting in his/her own self-interest or adhering to pure partisanship instead of acting in behalf of the nation. Voters who accept this behavior are dupes.

A voter who hasn’t the faintest idea what the party platform sets forth, what his/her representative votes for or stands for and merely votes for the party is not using his/her independent brain. This voter is a dupe and probably stupid, i.e., willfully ignorant.

Religious believers who listen to and believe so-called holy men, priests, preachers, rabbis or imams and repeat the traditional prayers are not using their independent brains. They are dupes.

Are we all dupes to believe without question what we are told, what we read or hear? Are we failing to use our rational minds to logically question what’s done in our behalf? Are we dupes?

Sep 04

Dishonesty, Sex and Abortion

In Brief—The author presents the facts showing—whether sincere or duplicitous—that reproduction is governed by both scientific reality and human nature. Believing in myths does not make something true.

Sex is Popular Because It’s Centrally Located—

True or False? Pregnancy occurs when the egg is fertilized by a sperm cell.

Facts in circleThis is False. Though many otherwise sincere people—as well as dishonest opponents of abortion—contend that as soon as a female egg is penetrated by a sperm cell pregnancy occurs. This is known as fertilization, but it does not mean a female is pregnant.

Virtually all educated people know that pregnancy does not occur until the fertilized female egg implants in the uterine wall. The medical profession and science agree on this. If the fertilized egg does not implant in the uterine wall, it will be expelled from the female body naturally. Several contraceptives prevent the fertilized egg from implanting OR the egg can simply not attach naturally and will be expelled from the body.

Despite the false belief that contraceptives preventing uterine implantation are abortions, they are not. Contraceptive pills and IUDs merely prevent the fertilized egg from implanting in the uterine wall. As stated above, belief in a myth does not make it a fact.

True or False? Planned Parenthood (PP) devotes most of its efforts to abortions.

This is False. Many abortion opponents believe that Planned Parenthood (PP) devotes most of its efforts to carrying out abortions. They are glaringly wrong…or pandering politicians. Though they may sincerely believe this hogwash or consciously lie in the pursuit of their goal of ridding America of all abortions—they are spouting falsehoods. Only 3% of PP’s activities are abortion services. The overwhelming majority of PP’s services are devoted to sex education, reproductive health such as PAP smears and breast examinations, treatment of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and family planning. Put clearly, PP is important to America’s health.

True or False? PP profits from the sale of fetal tissue derived from abortions.

This is False. Despite tons of independent proof of blatantly doctored footage of hidden camera interviews, opponents and hostile Republican politicians continue to attempt PP clinic closures, defunding the organization and even attacking cell researchers by falsely claiming that PP profits from their sales to researchers. This is not only false but injurious to the states pursuing PP and to researchers. Indeed, it is injurious to America’s health.

It’s interesting to note that a Texas grand jury cleared PP and instead indicted the abortion opponents and their leader, David Daleiden, for committing a felony. Repeat: PP was given a clean bill of health while the abortion opponents were indicted. Republican politicians choose to ignore this…and surprised Texas prosecutors are squealing and appealing.

[Time out here for a fist pump and a Yeah!!]

True or False? A fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks after implantation.

This is False. While this assertion is falsely reported to be controversial, it’s not controversial at all. The scientific consensus is that a fetus does not feel pain before 27 to 30 weeks after implantation. Abortion opponents are placing wishes ahead of scientific fact.

Please note that the abortion opponents specifically say that a fetus feels pain from 20 weeks AFTER FERTILIZATION. This, of course, fits their plan to establish pregnancy as the moment of fertilization. This is absolutely anti-science baloney, morally corrupt and typical of the dishonesty of the anti-abortion efforts. See my first point above.

Furthermore, many abortion opponents and conservative Catholics who adhere to Catholic doctrine want to outlaw not just abortion but contraception as well. Put clearly, they want to make any form of contraception illegal. It’s important to remember that. They want to overthrow the Supreme Court’s holding in Roe vs. Wade and take us back to the olden days of government interference in what we do in the privacy of our bedrooms…and to dangerous back alley abortions. Do you want somebody else’s religion forced on you?

Who are the PP clients, where and how do they operate?

PP’s clientele includes not just millions of mature females but teenagers and men as well. Working with high-quality partner organizations, they provide information on reproductive health throughout the world, not just in America. Many of PP’s clients are low-income people who are provided with top-notch services at low or no cost. Often, PP is the only source of reproductive health, pregnancy prevention and education available to the people they serve.


Despite PP’s essential services, the anti-abortion and anti-contraceptive opponents continue their attempts to prevent PP from providing their services. Unfortunately, in their zealous pursuit of PP, the opponents too often resort to lies, duplicitous behavior and even violence or murder.

To say we must oppose these underhanded methods is not enough. We must close all the doors to their underhanded efforts. The partisan Supreme Court conservatives stand ready to support such unscientific and duplicitous methods, so it’s essential to vote for forward-looking candidates who will reduce the power of conservatism whether on the court or in legislative corridors. Only an aroused electorate can stop the dishonest people who would force us back to the ugly past.

Support Planned Parenthood and Vote for truth.


Aug 28

How to Make an Enemy

In Brief—A examination of American policy on assassinations and how they have served to make more enemies than they kill.

Hypocrisy Fosters Contempt—

drone w: multiple rocketsA wedding celebration turns into a scene of horror. If the attack were only one wedding celebration it could be claimed that it was a tragic mistake, but American policy has assured that this horror has happened more often in more than one Middle Eastern country. On each occasion, American missiles have blown innocent men, women and children to pieces. Hospitals are targeted, too.

The mistake by the celebrants was in gathering to celebrate a special occasion. The attacks by the American military transform a mistake into a cold report falsely claiming that hundreds of “The Enemy” (EKIA) were killed in the strike. The American government quietly pays blood money to relatives. Will dollars replace a loved one? Is it even remotely possible that the citizens of that country will feel benevolent toward the United States?

A Nation of Laws?—

Executive Orders 12333, 11905 and 12036 make it a crime to assassinate an individual unless that individual poses an “imminent threat” to the nation. International law, the Geneva Conventions and the U.N. Charter all state that a nation can use military force only in immediate self-defense. Despite this— and along with the Israeli government, the Obama administration is a leading practitioner—American officials say such killings are legal. Saying so doesn’t make it legal. That fits the definition of propaganda.

What follows are simply two high-profile examples of the American assassination policy. Imagine what this suggests about lower targets of the policy and the innocents who happen to be in the target zone. In fact, are the targets there by mistake?

Anwar al-Awlaki—

Anwar al-Awlaki, a dual American and Yemeni citizen who preached that America was the enemy, was assassinated by a drone missile on a remote road in Yemen. His 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, was similarly assassinated two weeks later. The killings were authorized by President Obama who acted in disregard of the Due Process clause and the First Amendment of the Constitution. On a president’s say-so alone, a person can be killed. The “Rule of Law” is hollow rhetoric. That’s where America is today. What about tomorrow and the next president, or the next?

Because of the remote location, there appears to be evidence that Awlaki and his two companions could have been captured but were killed instead. It’s possible that they might have resisted, but capture was never even contemplated. The killing of Awlaki’s son was claimed to be a mistake, but it has never been explained. An illegal “mistake.”

Osama bin Laden—

The U.S. government has issued several different stories about the killing of Osama bin Laden suggesting that the government believes that smoke will work to obscure the truth. Put the varying stories together and the simplest answer appears to be that bin Laden was deliberately assassinated.

One of several versions put out by the government is that the Naval SEAL who assassinated bin Laden claimed that bin Laden was captured unarmed and offered no resistance, but he was nevertheless “tapped.” Indeed, we have never been shown bin Laden’s body. Again, the simplest answer appears to be that it was more convenient to kill bin Laden rather than try him and allow him to present a revealing defense.

Osama bin Laden, the founder of al-Queda, was America’s creature in opposing the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. He and his mujahideen fighters were trained and financed by America’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The CIA has denied this, but a variety of reliable sources confirm the story. One wouldn’t expect the agency to admit that they and the ever-duplicitous Saudis financed the mujahideen fighters. The Saudis, by the way, made a pact with the devil in promoting the extremist ultra-conservative Wahabbi form of Islam. Thus were born ISIS and the Taliban.

This snake pit of conflicting claims ignores the attitude by the United States government that the people of other countries—in this case Middle Easterners—are insignificant, that they are “The Other” who must dance to the American tune. They must die if needs be to maintain the belief that America is the savior of the world and entitled to whatever it wants.

Whether it is wedding parties or community meetings, the mere suspicion that they are terrorists is enough to warrant the death penalty. All those humans killed in this arrogant belief become “the enemy.” Makes no difference if the victims are a mistake, innocents, women or children, they are all “the enemy.” Seems America is in the business of creating enemies.

This is America. Are you willing to accept this?

Aug 21

Men Crying—Personal or Cultural?

In Brief—The author looks at his own history and whether his tears represent just one man or whether the display of emotion is imposed by culture or environment.

Tears are the silent language of grief. (Voltaire)—

”Oh, God! That’s the last news I ever wanted to hear!”

As I write this, it’s been four months since I learned that my old friend, Lionel, is dead. Those are the words I wrote when I received the news of his untimely death. My initial tears are dry now and warm memories of times past have replaced the pain.

Gender InequalityWas I crying because of his pain? No. My tears were because he would no longer make me smile. We would no longer share our hopes and frustrations. We would no longer exchange messages and feelings. It was about me. Something has changed beyond the passage of time. There’s a wall blocking any tears. Is that me or is it the culture that shaped me?

In every loss there is an unexpected gift. The gift wrapped in this personal loss is the thoughts and questions that have surged through my head: When have I cried before? Are the feelings the same or different? Will they last or mellow with time? Is this just me or might it be part of America’s culture, of the world culture?

Tears of the Past—

We have all cried as children, but what about in adulthood? Memories whisper to me of a few occasions.

I have no recollections of love gone sour, but a clear memory of when John F. Kennedy was murdered in Dallas. ”Kennedy’s been shot.” Stunned, I drove to my office. Television sets blared the appalling news. Tears burst from my eyes then and later during the funeral cortege. Now, it’s tearless history. To many it is just words in a school book as distant as Abraham Lincoln.

Two airliners hit the New York Trade Towers. Fiery death, bodies plummeting to the plaza below. Thousands of people died. I wept as the tragedy unfolded. Today, it’s history that has resulted in perpetual war and thousands more deaths, grist for politicians. But no tears. Anger at the senseless waste, but no tears.

The old family dog was euthanized. No more walks in the forest. No more snowball chasing. Tears flowed. A dog. A loved family member. All that’s left today are fond memories and twinges of remorse at my occasional loss of patience, but no tears.

Åsne Seirestad’s searing book, ”One of Us” recounted Anders Breivik’s cold slaughter of innocents, of vacationing teenagers. I remained dry-eyed until the coroner zipped a youth into a body bag. Suddenly, sobs wracked my body and tears coursed down my cheeks.

I shed tears of frustration at my disability and the unfulfilled desire to die after nearly five years of this. Only the desire for eternal sleep. Lionel’s sleep. Nothingness. Tears, yes. But will time dull the sharp edges of the pain?

Cultural? Environmental?—

Why do we cry and when? Family or societal messages? Is it recognition of our own mortality? Will we miss the person or creature who will no longer warm our lives? The depravity of our fellow humans? Why not drowned refugees? Why not war victims? Why? The answers are as different as the humans inhabiting Earth.

My future wife cried quietly as the singer poured her heart into ”Send in the clowns.” Beside her sat the man she loved who was lost in the past. I suddenly realized what those tears meant, but my eyes were dry. A woman’s tears told me what I was missing.

Her tears met my heated wish for death. Her tears, not mine. The woman whose warm body next to mine would never be again. Her tears, not mine.

As I was growing up, I learned that men don’t cry, that I was expected to be strong, that only females cry. Despite this, leaders throughout history in all corners of the globe have shed tears, particularly when defeat has humbled them. Still, it is not considered manly to cry.

This may be changing. Researchers have shown that health and self-esteem improve with the freedom to shed tears when the occasion merits it. The old ways still exist and may in some respects be useful, but fortunately the stiff upper lip is giving way to a less judgmental mind-set and greater acceptance of shedding tears when the occasion warrants it. But it hangs on. I am proof of that.

I miss Lionel and mourn the loss. What will I do now that he isn’t there to make me laugh, to inspire me, to make me think? He has shown me the meaning of heartache.

I’m just one person, doubtless softer than many, but the old ways still live. They still cripple men, still cripple society…stiill live inside me. How do we end this harmful tradition? Will it ever end?

Older posts «