IRANT

IMG_0221In my opinion, the main reason for the opposition to the Iran nuclear deal has nothing to do with security and everything to do with politics.  The Republicans need an issue that gives them some traction in the election cycle.  The Republicans claim the deal will unleash the terror prone state of Iran to make all sorts of mischief in the middle east.  Before the agreement, the Republicans argued that the biggest threat to the middle east was the nuclear state of Iran. And so the deal removes that threat and the region is safer and we can breathe a collective sigh of relief, but the Republicans aren’t buying it and are saying things like – “we didn’t get anything for the deal” (as if a non-nuclear Iran were nothing), and that Iran will use the “signing bonus”, which happens to be their own money previously tied up in economic sanctions, “to sponsor terrorism.”  They say we didn’t get the release of American hostages, which is regrettable, but never the point of the negotiations.  46 Republicans, in an effort to derail U.S. negotiations, even went as far as to write a letter to the supreme leader of Iran saying that any deal would have to be approved by congress. Such action is unprecedented in U.S. politics and shows a complete disrespect for the President, the will of the people who support him and borders on treason. This isn’t the first time that Republicans have refused to work with the Obama administration or tried to derail policies that the majority of Americans support – in fact they have attacked him relentlessly since 2008, and not just his politics. They’ve used incendiary rhetoric, compared him to Hitler, called him a liar, questioned his birthplace, demanded his college transcripts, hinted that he was not a Christian, and now claim that the Iran deal effectively makes him a terrorist who hates America.  They’ve obstructed, filibustered, wearing out the word NO in the process, and have shown more respect to the Israeli head of state than to the their own U.S. President. Unwittingly, they’ve done such a great job of whipping the conservative base into a frenzy that a billionaire reality star and real estate mogul, is now the leading GOP presidential candidate. Surprisingly, the candidates have done very little to discredit Trump because they are not used to standing up to billionaires.  And because of the tactics of the right, the GOP is now an entertaining party of scary clowns.

What the Frack?

The EPA found fracking has not caused widespread pollution of drinking water relative to the number of fracking projects in operation.  Are they serious?  This would have been a good April Fool’s joke, but we’re in June.  The FDA admits that the study’s conclusions are based on limited data and that in some isolated situations, ground water had been contaminated and that’s putting it nicely. The key word is widespread and I would add that the impact may not be widespread yet, but unless you enjoy flammable water, you should be concerned and call for a ban on fracking in your community.

Look, I think we can agree that water is a precious resource, in fact, a prerequisite for life, and if we spoil what natures provides, we are in for trouble. Unlike wind and solar power, water is not a renewable resource, there’s only so much.  Ok, true, we have lots of ocean water, but I challenge you to find a practical way to desalinate the stuff and anyway, thanks to climate change, plastic trash with a half life of 2 billion years and all those rogue jelly fish, our oceans are becoming ever more polluted and acidified.

So are we now ok with fracking?  Does the study give the green light to the oil and gas industry? Do we trust them to protect our water and land resources? Are we ok with the risks associated with fracking including earthquakes? I’m not.

Meat Labelling Humor at the WTO

Chiles Con Carne 3

Well, I was reading a story about some kind of meat labeling treaty or something discussed at the World Trade Organization (WTO).  From what I could gather from the article, the U.S. insists that meat be labeled as to country of origin.  This apparently had Mexico and Canada up in arms with chants of fowl play.

U.S. consumers might prefer the raised and slaughtered in the U.S. label rather than say Uruguay or some other meat producing places, like Canada and Mexico.  Now as a carnivorous American, I want to know where my meat comes from.  I would rather eat locally grass fed beef and cage free “home on the range” chicken and eggs.  And I would like to be reasonably confident that the beef, pork and fish I consume do not also come with a broad spectrum of antibiotics, fattened by GMO grains.  Of course, we can’t be sure.  The irony here is that the U.S. favors labelling meat but does not favor GMO labeling.

As I read more of the article, I did find one point the Canadians made to be amusing and it went like this – because of the integrated nature of the industry, “animals might cross the border multiple times”.   Now just how these animals manage to cross back and forth across the border is an intriguing question.  They must do it in the stealth of night.  I suppose the chickens just fly right over the border undetected.  The pigs I guess dig their way across or access heavily traffic tunnels.  The cattle, well I don’t know how they do it, but they might disguise themselves as tourists with fake id cards.

I do remember crossing over to Canada once and was asked if I had any pork, beef or poultry of any kind on my person and I confessed that I had just eaten a chicken club sandwich and was allowed to cross but only after guards inspected my car and documents, apparently on the look out for stray animals looking for safe roaming across the border. I was so afraid that I promised to become a vegetarian during my stay in Canada.  They actually may have suspected me of being a cow, I do have a deep voice, and though I am sometimes as messy as a pig, I am not a cow, nor have I ever been.

Does America Really Want a Fresh Face?

If you look at recent Presidential polling from Iowa and North Carolina,only Hillary Clinton seems to hold a commanding lead among Democrats.  For the Republicans, it’s anyone’s game – Walker, Bush, Rubio, Cruz, Paul. And when Clinton goes head to head with any of the Republicans, she has a very small advantage in the polls. Iowans favor her over Rubio, Bush, Paul and Huckabee by just 2 points.  I doubt the other Democrats in the race or being urged to run would fare any better against the Republicans.  Bernie Sanders has no chance. Elizabeth Warren could pose a threat, but she’s not even running…yet.  Frankly, I’d prefer that she be nominated for the Supreme Court if any of the justices step down before President Obama’s term expires.  And who has even heard of O’Malley? The only O’Malley I know is Cardinal Sean from Boston and I don’t think he’s running for President, maybe for Pope in a few years, but not President.  It’s good that Hillary has challengers, but they aren’t exactly household names…well, there’s Biden, but Americans are fed up with most established politicians and there will not be a clear cut favorite.  Folks may want a fresh face.  Certainly this attitude was true in 2008.  Which leads me to this.

What if the fresh face were not a politician at all, or at least not seasoned, someone like the Baltimore prosecutor Marilyn Mosby? Or maybe comedian Jon Stewart?  Ok, he’s not exactly a fresh face, but he will soon be between jobs.  Conan O’Brien is a Harvard graduate, I think, and he’s not only funny but possibly even smart.  Ben Affleck and Matt Damon have Harvard experience, not that that means anything, but club membership is important if only for appearance sake. The Good Will Hunting masterminds don’t need any introductions or campaign contributions for that matter.  Have you ever considered Neil Tyson Degrasse? He’s the smartest guy on television and would be a fierce debater.  The GMO folks don’t like him much though.  I think Sanjay Gupta has earned the trust of most Americans and might be good for what ails America.  Now for the climate changers among us, we shouldn’t forget Bill Nye the Science Guy.  He has curb appeal and a fiesty personality  And there’s Chris Hayes from MSNBC who could make for an interesting candidate running on a platform of income equality.  Michael Steele should make a run as a Republican. Since he left the party leadership, the Republicans have self-destructed. Harold Ford, Jr. could be the moderate choice among Democrats. A wild card could be Anthony Bourdain who is widely traveled and knowledgeable of global affairs, right? Julia Louis-Dreyfus has real experience, no? She’s interesting, funny and smart and a better actor than Ronald Reagan ever was.  Dennis Rodman is another potential candidate who could bring the peace with all of our enemies through basketball.  Lastly, if Tom Brady wins another Superbowl, he might be elected as a right-in candidate, that is if he doesn’t have a scheduling conflict.  I don’t know his politics, but he was oddly absent from the Patriots meeting with the President.  He’s claims to be an Independent, but I don’t see him supporting Bernie Sanders bid.

Sadly, none of these folks will run and even if they did, they would not stand a chance.  As much as Americans distrust politicians (Congress has a 72% disapproval rating) we tend to gravitate toward establishment figures anyway; the tried and true, the Ivy educated, who have name recognition, gobs of money and the support of super wealthy donors. 2016 will be the battle of the royals.  Predicition: Clinton over Bush by 1 hanging chad of a point.

Poor Billionaires and the Environment

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What do Utah, New Mexico, Mississippi, Maine, Delaware, Hawaii, South Dakota, Alaska and Wyoming have in common? The answer might surprise you.  These are the only states in the U.S. that do not have billionaire residents.  All the other states can claim at least one billionaire among them, some states possibly several.  MarketWatch published an article with a list of the richest people by state.

Of those in the billionaire club, some of the least wealthy accumulated riches by exploiting their natural environments, which perhaps comes as no surprise. Dennis Albaugh from Iowa made his fortune in the pesticide business. He’s only worth 1.4 billion. The Kentucky billionaire, Brad Kelley, amassed his wealth, about 2 billion, growing and selling tobacco. Bruce Halle is Arizona’s richest resident, worth 4.7 billion.  A guy with an interest in rubber, he founded Discount Tire. Did you know that it takes 2,072 gallons of water to produce just 4 tires? It does. Not exactly an environmentally friendly enterprise, especially in such a dry state.  Arizona is the 4th driest state in the nation and is one of the states at risk of running out of water.  Missouri’s favorite and perhaps only billionaire is Jack Taylor of Enterprise rental car.  By the way, it takes over 39,000 gallons of water to manufacture 1 car.  And Oklahoma’s richest resident is one of our founding frackers, Harold Hamm, worth an estimated 17.6 billion. Recently, there have been reports that buried wells of toxic wastewater created by oil and gas operations in Oklahoma may be responsible for an increase in earthquake activity there.162

I am going to give some free advice to these billionaires – take it easy on the environment.  It’s made you rich, but those riches are dependent on finite natural resources. No one knows this better than Nevada’s richest resident, mega billionaire Sheldon Adelson, whose Las Vegas Sands Corporation has made him 49 billion and counting.  He has invested deeply in greening up his casino concerns. Unless others follow the LEED, Sin City may literally run out of water and simply dry up. And who says it doesn’t pay to go green.

Now if only Sheldon Adelson and the rest of the billionaire club members would stay out of politics.  It would be nice for the Super PACs to dry up, well, all but the NextGen Climate Action Committee.  Billionaires, you can contribute to that one.

Conservatives freaking out over Hillary Clinton candidacy…AGAIN!

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Politics are all about agendas.  Foundations want money to support their particular goals.  Donors of course want something in return too. Maybe it’s face time, influence, a good feeling, a tax deduction or a bumper sticker. Nobody gives for the sheer pleasure of giving. And speaking of agendas, the conservatives are desparate again to stop the political machine of the Clintons, this time by going after Hillary and the Clinton Foundation.  Peter Schweizer, a fellow from the Conservative Hoover Institute has written a new book called Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich, which alleges that as former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton promised policy favors in exchange for donations to the Foundation and speaking engagements for her husband, former President Bill Clinton. But even if foreign donors thought they could “pay to play” or were led to believe they could, doesn’t mean they ever got into the game. There’s no evidence that I’ve seen to suggest that “foreign” money has influenced policy any more than it already has through super PACs and other special interest groups.  If anything, foreign relations influence policy.  As to the insinuation by pundits that the email erasing was to hide incriminating information, there’s nothing there. She’s said she deleted personal emails and handed over official ones, not unlike other secretaries who had come before her.

I say the Republicans are desperate again because back in 2008, they pulled a similar stunt, but instead of a book, it was a scathing documentary on Hillary Clinton that they wished to promote on TV during the presidential campaign.  The FEC said no, and the dispute ended up in the Supreme Court as Citizens United (the conservative lobbying group) vs. FEC.  And we know how that turned out. Yes, it started a new era of extreme influence pedaling by wealthy individuals who can bankroll super PACs. U.S. News and World Report reported that since the ruling, super PACs have spent over 1 billion on U.S. elections, and according to the Brennan Center, 60% of the money came from only 195 families. This outside money has no boundaries. Open Secrets.org reported that in 2014, U.S. divisions of international companies donated over 19 million – 7.8 to Democrats and 12.4 to Republicans.  Companies like Seven-11, Airbus, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Teva, Nestle, Shell, BP and many others contributing to both sides to buy influence, the sort of influence that Republicans enable and yet now seem shocked to hear exists.

This new influence pedaling appears to have been effective in influencing policy.  BP got off pretty lightly after practically destroying the Gulf Coast and now the U.S. is back to drilling and fracking with a passion to the point where our finite fossil fuels literally runeth over – we’re running out of tanks to store the stuff.  And now that Hillary Clinton is in the Presidential mix again, the Republicans are freaking out and doing everything they can to derail the Clinton train because they know that once it gets going full steam ahead, they won’t be able to stop it.  Not even Jeb Bush.

Hillary and Bill are tough and can weather the attacks, but the haters have gone too far by attacking the reputable Clinton Foundation which has done more good for the world than the do nothing Congress has in the last 8 years. And this desperate attack will cost them the election and another 4 more years.

Marco “Polo” Rubio quite the explorer

078Marco “Polo” Rubio made his announcement for the Presidency recently in Miami.  He said that after months of prayer, he came to the conclusion that he wanted to serve his country which he referred to in the feminine case:  “I have come here tonight to make an announcement on how I can best serve her.”  By the end of the speech, it was still not clear how he would serve her.  He sounded like your typical Republican. He’d repeal and replace Obamacare, with what is anyone’s guess; he’d modernize immigration, how is unclear.  He referenced a Prince album in an attack on the democratic party leadership saying they “put us at a disadvantage by taxing, borrowing and regulating like it’s 1999.” Rubio is said to be a fan of “old school” rap, and as one must know, Prince is anything but old school and rap.  Perhaps he doesn’t like or respect Prince.

His “namesake” Marco Polo, (well it might be) on the other hand, had nothing but admiration for “royalty”, serving in the “court” of Kublai Khan in self-imposed exile from the Holy Roman Empire.  Many Venetians thought Marco Polo made up his Asian travelogues, though he claimed he told nothing but the truth and later was proven to have done just that.  Unlike Polo, Marco Rubio was initially less than truthful about his family story, saying that they had escaped Castro and came to America as exiles.  In his speech, he walked back this story saying his family left Cuba in 1956 to fulfill a dream.  This would have been some 3 years before Castro came to power, so it was not that his poor family was being persecuted, it was more that his family wanted to improve their economic status, a sort of self-imposed exile, just like the many millions of undocumented immigrants who are living in the States today.  So his reference to modernizing immigration policy is intriguing.  Does he mean modernize the fence?  Or does he mean amnesty for all?  Does he mean to continue to modernize Cuba – U.S. relations, as President Obama has started, or does he mean to place more quotas on who can come to the U.S? Does modernize mean a guest worker program or does it mean fast track to citizenship for hard working families like his immigrant parents?

To remind that he is still allied with the Tea Party fringe lest we forget, he bashes students who graduate with debt and degrees that don’t lead to jobs.  And he suggests that parents should have more control over their child’s education. This could mean that he favors homeschooling or more charter schools.  Or it could mean that he’d favor eliminating subjects that are not related to employer needs.  I guess that means anthropology, sociology, the arts and hard sciences are out.  There’s not a big demand for dancers at Fortune 500 companies. Walmart has no plans to hire many geologists. And big oil certainly does not need a bunch of “liberal” climatologists snooping around making trouble.

Like Marco Polo, Marco Rubio is an explorer.  He’s playing around with different messages to see if he can find something that resonates with voters.  Many Italians found Polo interesting, but didn’t fully believe his strange tales. Rubio is searching for a path to appease the right and appeal to the center where Jeb Bush supporters live.  And while he thinks he’s ready for the presidency, this announcement is really nothing more than an exploration.  Young Marco knows deep down that he needs to wait his turn.

Galaxy 6 from Samsung, just Ho-Hum but not all bad

From the technology desk of Ribbie’s Weblog

I finally “upgraded” to the Samsung Galaxy 6, from the Samsung Galaxy 4, which, by the way, was and still is a pretty decent smartphone. Galaxy.  Where did they come up with that name?  I imagine it was designed to conjure up space age technology, whatever that is, or some kind of concept of futuristic sophistication. But being the late blooming baby boomer that I am, one of the last I’m told, it just conjures up memories of the Ford Galaxie, like the one that Sheriff Andy Taylor drove on the Andy Griffith Show.

1963 Ford GalaxieThat was one monster of a car by today’s standards, and so is the Samsung Galaxy 6 when compared to the Galaxy 4. At first glance, they look about the same size, but the 6 is appreciably heavier, although I can’t say I appreciate that. The 6 has a metal trim, not unlike the iPhone, whereas the 4 was constructed of some sort of plastic composite – what do they call it?  Polycarbonate? Maybe it’s carbon fiber or fiberglass, I don’t know, but it’s noticeably lighter, which reminds me of the song by Heart called Lighter Touch.

Perhaps a deal breaker for some is the fact that the two phones look about the same and no one will know that you have upgraded if you do.  But upon closer inspection, apart from the weight, there are some differences. The camera lens on the back of the 6 protrudes a bit, whilst (to borrow the term from the Brits) the camera lens on the 4 rests flush.  This protrusion is slightly annoying and does not appear to offer any advantage to the user.  The speaker on the 6 is next to the charging hole which is a welcome improvement over the stupid backside speaker placement on the 4, which means when you set the phone down you can still hear music playing.  The sound of the speaker is not much of an improvement, however, and sounds just as tinny as ever.  Configuring the thing to play music over a Bluetooth speaker is the way to go.  I’ve got a little JBL that sounds swell.

The 6 is faster, I’ll give it that.  It’s fast as lightening in fact.  It comes with a load of Samsung bloat, but at 32GB of storage, it’s got all the memory I’ll ever need.  Some folks on message boards refuse to get the thing because unlike the 4, the 6 has a solid body, like the iPhone, which means you can’t take the back plate off and add a memory card or replace the battery.  If you need more than 32GB of storage, you’d be better off with a tablet or another kind of phone.  How many apps does one need, really?  Hey, if you shoot a bunch off memory consuming videos, get a video camera or a DSLR. Or if you don’t want to deal with multiple devices, just offload some of your stuff to the cloud or you home computer rather than storing everything on your phone. And it’s smart to back up your stuff anyway.  But trust me, for the average user, and like it or not, most of us are just that, average, 32GB is plenty enough.  Look, the Samsung 4 came with 16GB and that was all I needed and then some and I took a ton of pics, a ton.

The screen seems sharper and I feel like it reads better in sunlight than the 4.  The camera has lots of effects and you can download still more for free, but I don’t think it has a zoom, if that’s important to you.  Well, it might, but I haven’t been able to find it.  Zooming isn’t that important to me anyway.  The 16 MP primary camera takes sharp pics that will make you forget about your old point and shoot if you still have one.  While the camera is not quite a Nikon, if you know what I mean, it’s plenty good and said to be better than the 8MP camera on the iPhone 6.

Battery. I used to have a HTC with a battery that lasted me about 3 hours a day. I finally gave up and got the Samsung Galaxy 4, which had a much better battery life.  The Galaxy 6 seems to have a slightly longer lasting battery than the 4.  I’ve been able to go a day with fairly heavy use and not run out of juice.  The battery has a quick charge feature, which is nice, but it won’t quickly charge up all the way, just some of the way.  As mentioned, you can’t change out the battery.  That is, you can’t pop in a spare, if the other one dies or runs out of juice.  Smartphone batteries are designed to be recharged everyday so if you think you won’t have access to an electrical outlet when traveling, well you’ll be out of luck eventually, even with a spare.  I also got a little wireless charger with the 6.  It’s neat.  You just plop the thing on the disk and it starts charging.  But the charging pad itself has to be plugged in, so it’s technically not a completely wireless operation, but it’s still pretty cool.

In the end, the Samsung Galaxy 6 is an excellent phone but may not be appreciably better than the 4 or 5.  I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed, but the advances are, let’s just say Ho-Hum. So, before you buy, see if you can get a closeout deal on the 5.  Galaxy users, if you must take the upgrade plunge like I did, beware, you won’t be blown away by the 6, but you’ll feel the difference in more ways than one and you won’t have buyer’s remorse.

Tax day but where does it all go?

484Like most of you, I paid my taxes and filed them too and on time.  I am not opposed to paying taxes.  I believe in a social contract.  I want to be protected from an enemy invasion.  I am not one who believes we should abolish the IRS, as some have called for, people like Groover Norquist, I wonder if he was named after former President Grover Cleveland, a conservative, pro-business leader who lead the U.S. into a major depression.  Fringe candidates Ran Paul, and Marcus Rubio are also notorious critics of the IRS.  Now, I don’t love the IRS, but without taxes, there can be no government, no military, no support for public schools, no social security, no environmental protection, no regulation of food and drugs.  I guess we could have an all-volunteer government, install a monarch or ask a big company like Apple or Proctor and Gamble to just take over.  Maybe Warren Buffet and Mitt Romney could be in charge of investments.  Our government leaders are already beholden to big business and with special interest PACs calling the shots, the interests of the 99% are not seriously addressed.  It’s so bad that big oil and gas can compel educated politicians who know better to say stupid things like we should invest in KLEEN coal, and that “there is no consensus in the scientific community on climate change” or that “the science is not settled as to whether humans have contributed to the problem of global warming”.  They can’t admit what they know to be true that carbon emissions from our persistent use of fossil fuels is a major region why we are having catastrophic weather events that one might have previously witnessed once in a lifetime, practically twice a year.

Did you know that in 2014, 27 cents of every tax dollar went toward military spending?  2.5 cents went to support public education.  1.6 cents went to the energy and environment and just 1.5 cents went to science.  President Obama’s proposed discretionary spending for 2015, which needs congressional approval, has 55% going to the military, 6% to education, and 3% to science.  When you add in mandatory spending on entitlement programs which includes social security and unemployment, veterans benefits, food and agriculture, it’d be 16% to the military, 2% to education and 1% to science.  Some priorities.  It’s no wonder that American students significantly lag their peers in other countries in math and science.  It should also come as no surprise that companies have to search for talent outside the U.S. to fill positions that require a high degree of scientific expertise. Nor should it be a surprise that so many Americans actually don’t believe in science at all.  They don’t understand it and would rather just take a lazy political side and deny or take a hard line religious stance with a literal interpretation of the creation story and claim the earth is something like 6,000 years old contrary to scientific evidence that the earth is about 4.5 billion years old.

Let me ask you this:  Do we really need to spend 640 billion on the military each year?  How much does safe enough cost? Do we really need to spend 391.2 billion on 2,443 F-35 fighter jets at 160 million a piece? By comparison, we are slated to spend around 100 billion on education AND science in 2015.  That’s it.  Doesn’t this disproportionally light in comparison to our spending on defense? Don’t we want a literate and competitive populace?  The 1% and their minions in Congress don’t.  If the voting public wised up, Congress would be out of a job and the 1% scrambling to create the next scam. I say people and the planet over profits and a little more equality please.

Living Free of Global Warming and Climate Change

Lake Winnipesaukee, NH

Lake Winnipesaukee, NH

Climate change and global warming have become political buzz words.  The right denies the science, the center accepts it and the left pleads for action.  Libertarians don’t give a crap, I think.  I guess their thinking is a little like Bill Belichick’s mantra, “it is what it is”, meaning, leave me the hell alone to live free or die, which is the saying on the back of New Hampshire license plates, a place where people don’t pay state income or sales tax, and I don’t think they pay their legislators very much either.  I once saw a tampered license plate that read: live free and die, which is more in tune with the natural cycle of life. We’re so dang polarized that it seems everything is either or.

The thing with climate change, and I’ve probably written this before, is that people really don’t care and are just used to taking sides.  If you are a conservative and never paid much attention in science class but have gone on and done well for yourself financially, why not side with the right? It’s your right. And if you don’t, a dang liberal might get elected and take away your tax advantage or worse, your gun!  I think that’s what people in the U.S. fear the most – that they’d be disarmed and then defenseless.  But against what? Global warming?  Hey, when that once in a lifetime hurricane comes around twice a year, an AK-47 won’t do much good. You’d literally be shooting in the wind.  That openly carried revolver won’t intimidate those raging wildfires and I’ve never seen a shotgun bring on the rains in dry California.  Now, I know that no one wants their gas guzzling carbon dioxide spewing SUV outlawed.  This is another big concern.  I mean, gas is cheap once again thanks to our fracking ways. Who cares if some guy in Pennsylvania has flammable tap water.  He could move to New Hampshire where the water is clean and unflouridated.

I also have a suspicion that many people just don’t want to think too deeply about something difficult to understand.  But if you pose the question the right way, I do believe that many folks would come around and admit that human activity has contributed to the warming of the planet.  It doesn’t take a scientist to see the effects of climate change. Take Boston. In 2015, it had the warmest January on record and also the most snow ever recorded for a season.  Down South, Texas and Arkansas had snow, ice and cold temperatures like never before.  People know something is going on.  It’s not just the natural ebb and tide of mother nature.  But the sad thing is that people know and do nothing.  They let politicians say and do the stupidest things like that one who help up a snowball as proof that the planet is not warming. What an idiot. The problem is we live this present tense existence.  No one seems to care too much about 50 years down the road.  Folks don’t seem too concerned about a livable planet for their children and grandchildren.  And very few are saving sufficiently for retirement either.  Live free for today; we’ll save and die later…but let’s not think about that now. But let’s do go out and buy an Apple Watch or the Samsung Galaxy 6. Instant gratification.

One might argue that the handwriting is beginning to form on the wall as you may recall from the book of Daniel where the tale originates.  The handwriting turned out to be a warning, actually, as is often the case in the Old Testament, a punishment from God, who found that party King Belshazzar had been insufficiently humble, wanting and unworthy of his reign.  He was shortly thereafter slain.  I think there is a lesson here, particularly as regards the question of humility. If we don’t show more respect for our planet, it may be handed over to a more intelligent life form from another planet to straighten things out. It’d kind of be like planet earth looses its certification and has to be temporarily held in receivership by some alien grownup with brains.

This all reminds me of a Star Trek episode called “Arena” from Season 1 where Kirk fights some Godzilla-like creature called a Gorn. The lizard monster has the upper hand with brute strength, so Kirk has to make gunpowder somehow and knocks the monster unconscious with a powerful projectile to the body.  Kirk stands over “Godzilla” with a knife, but decides not to kill him.  Then some childish god, who was like 1,500 earth years old, said that he would spare Captain Kirk and his people because he had shown the advanced property of mercy, to which Kirk replied that he hoped he could work out some diplomatic peace with the Gorn’s people.  The Captain was not found wanting and given another chance.  Let’s hope politicians learn to read before the writing appears on the wall, because when it does, it will be too late.

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