Saturday, March 1, 2014

Obamacare is not health care

It is insurance care. It's a way to make sure insurance companies can stay in business. Sure it's better than the situation that existed previously, but still. It isn't good enough. We can keep Obamacare, but we MUST add a government health plan to the mix. Medicare for all. It's been mooted about for years. Why wasn't it put on the table? Clearly because the insurance companies threatened to sabotage any kind of deal if they didn't get all the goodies. Screw them.  All they do is suck money and resources from consumers and providers. Let their multimillion dollar CEOs get a real job. We don't need them.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Who is naive Senator?

John McCain went on the Sunday morning political program to announce that he believes President Obama to be dangerously naive.
This from the man who tried to place Sarah Palin second in line for the presidency of the United States. All I have to say is, if President Obama does something that John McCain approves of, I will start to really worry.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Superbowl? The gladiator games of modern day empires.

We aren't decimating the forests of endangered species, as was done in ancient Rome perhaps. Just destroying the bodies and brains of otherwise healthy young men for the viewing pleasure and mental distraction of the masses. How handy that billions of dollars are being siphoned off as well. No wonder we love our games.

Is it true the NFL is tax exempt?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

How stands the Union?

Daniel Webster's ghost is supposed to ask this question when his ghost is summoned. The traditional reply is" rock-bottomed and copper-sheathed, one and indivisible" or else his ghost will rise up from the ground in anger. 

The state of the Union today is anything but. It is fragmented and shaky, and governance is impossible in Congress. Thanks to a concerted conspiracy to divide us from each other, and grind the gears of government to a halt, we are no longer united. No longer one and indivisible. We are now tribal, red states and blue states, and like all primitive tribal regions, ripe for the conquerors. 

Thanks to the corporatocracy that made it all possible, brought to you by Fox "news" incorporated. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

When there is a solar spill, it's called a beautiful day

A massive explosion tore apart a pipeline in Canada. I wonder why it never made the news  headlines here in the US? All those homes relying on fossil fuels, without power or heat now. Seems like there must be a better way.

Climate change?

Just because it's cold in the US, doesn't mean the world ISN'T warming. Because, Fox "news" like it or not, The US isn't the whole world. It's happening now in the southern hemisphere, Let's see what happens next summer here in the northern hemisphere.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Blowing in the wind

Yet another mall shooting, after a week of school shootings, and it's starting to feel ho hum. Is it really OK to fear going out into public all the time? Do we like living in a war zone? Yeah it's people who use guns to kill people, but if want the shooting to stop, shouldn't we get rid of (most of) the guns? After all, we can't get rid of  people, can we?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Hero or Traitor?

I don't know about Snowdon. The information needs to be made public. We all should be aware of how much information the government ( and commercial interests for that matter) collects about us, our every thought and deed. We give so much away on blogs, facebook, credit cards we use, and "customer loyalty cards" we get from the grocery stores. There is a difference between giving it away and having it forcibly extracted. In some contexts we call that rape. Snowdon shouldn't have gone to the Ruskies, but then again what choice did he have? In the pre-9/11 era, the pre-Bush era, he might have been able to get a fair hearing, and a chance at a fair trial. Not so in today's America of torture and secret prisons.

Anyone remember Bradly Manning? Is he even alive? Is there a chance that poor tortured soul has any shreds of sanity left?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

More Bad News

Climate change deniers have been spouting like a pod of conservative whales during the recent cold snap here on the east coast of the US." Al Gore was full of balony!"" It doesn't feel like global warming now " We all heard the bloviators chortle and snort with glee. Meanwhile in more southerly regions of the hemisphere elderly people were dying from intolerable heat,

It's easy to minimize the dangers from something we aren't fully experiencing. Humans have a tendency to go with the flow, as long as things change gradually we tend to accept the changes as normal. But like the proverbial frog in a pot of water we may live to regret our casual complacency.

One of the arguments that deniers toss out is that Earth isn't heating up as fast as predicted by the amount of carbon dioxide we are pumping into the atmosphere. Most people don't consider or realize that two thirds of the planet is covered with water. In fact much the waste CO2 has been absorbed by the oceans. This mitigates the heat but comes at a terrible cost. CO2 and water form a mild acid called carbonic acid. The acidification of the oceans is setting us up for extinctions at a cataclysmic scale. Look at a map of human population centers. Most all of the major settlement areas are on the coastlines. They depend in large part on seafood for sustenance. What will happen when the oceans become deserts and the food disappears?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Unfit to govern

The only conclusion we can draw from the notorious emails about the George Washington  bridge lane closures, is that public officials, appointed by Chris Christie to serve the public, instead used their power to deliberately sabotage the public safety and well-being. That must be against the law, surely. If it isn't, it needs to be - starting last year. It really doesn't matter so much why they did it. It's not as if there could be an acceptable excuse in any case. So what does that say about the Christie administration? They are felons, or capable of felonious conduct, and stupid as all get out. These were Christie's right hand men and women. Why would they cook up a scheme like this all on their own, if they believed that their boss wouldn't approve? Why would they imagine that the Governor of the state would approve of actions that would cost so much money and risk to lives and livelihoods? There is clearly a culture of retribution and power-mad politics in Christie's administration.

Christie has a reputation for bullying those who oppose him.  Now we see his staff are also bullies, on a scale that hurt thousands of the taxpayers who paid their salaries. Christie is a dangerous man. He is unfit to govern, at any speed.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Who owns your body?

If you are female, maybe you don't own yourself. Maybe the government owns your body and gets to decide what happens to it. This brain dead woman is being kept on life support against the wishes of her husband and her family because there was an embryo growing inside the woman's body when she died. According to the article there are 31 states where a woman's body becomes state property if she is pregnant at the time of her death. Maybe Marlise Munoz would have chosen to have her brain-dead body be hooked up on machines for months in order to incubate an embryo. Or maybe not. I would not want a child of  mine to come into this life via a dead mother. This pregnancy is not a joyful event filled with loving anticipation. It is a constant ongoing tragedy, and reminder of loss.  In this case the woman's closest kin does not want her to exist as a living incubator. Why are their wishes less important than the government's decision?

I wonder who is paying the bills for this medical torture? It must be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Will they bill the family who doesn't want it to happen? Will taxpayers pay the bills? Who has responsibility for the fetus if it does survive til birth?

This is an example of the sickness in our society. Women are not living incubators. They are living breathing human beings with volition, and consciousness and dreams, goals, and desires. When a woman dies, she deserves the dignity of a peaceful death. Her family deserves closure.
Shame on Texas and the bureaucrats who robbing her of the right to die in peace with dignity.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Beautiful snow day

I'm enjoying this Danish word I recently learned - Hygge. It embodies a concept related to coziness, safety and warmth, companionship and friendship. Right now snow is falling and there is a strong breeze with bitter cold temperatures outside. The rhododendron leaves are tightly curled, which as all mountain folks know, means it is really cold. Meanwhile I am warm and comfy by the woodstove enjoying a nice 3rd cup of coffee, and the company of my dear spouse. Feeling very hygge now.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Let it blow

The arctic blast is predicted to storm in tonight, with temperatures colder than anything we have experienced in 20 years. I swear it used to be colder when I was young. We had snow on the ground for weeks and months at a time. Now we are lucky to see it 3 or 4 times a year, mostly little piddling events that don't even come up to your knees. Last November we had warmer nights than what we used to see during summer days! It would get below freezing for days on end, a week or more at a time during January, February, and even March.

I'm not complaining mind you. It's a whole lot easier on my old bones, this mild weather. Summers are still tolerable here in the Southern Appalachians, as long as we stay on the mountain tops and away from the flatlands. I will likely be gone from this earth before the real global crises begin to set in for good. I shudder to think about my grandchildren though. They may be in for a really rough ride these next few decades.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Utah, of all states!

Marriage is really a social contract between the partners and society as a whole. As hippies from the 60's and free spirits today will tell you, no one needs a piece of paper to cohabit, or even to have children together. In many poor countries, and in the past it was common for people to simply live together without the expense or bother of a ceremony. This was recognized in the concept of common law marriage. So why bother? Why does the state even need to get involved?

Because marriage is good for society as a whole. Unattached young males are a tremendously destabilizing factor in any culture. Marriage gives a format for young men to take on important roles in the family, and settle down. Marriage gives a structure for two people to work together toward common goals, and to take care of each other, reducing the burden on society, or the state. People in secure settled relationships can contribute a lot more to the community in which they live. Single people can become a burden when they become ill or old. Most if not all cultures recognize this and create incentives and support for marriage.

What's the problem with gay marriage then? It provides stability, structure, and all the benefits of heterosexual marriages? There is no logical reason to deny  gay people  the benefits of legally sanctioned and supported marriage.It just makes sense.

Religions often denounce homosexual relationships because those relationships tend not to be as fertile as heterosexual relationships. Religions rely on reproduction and proselytizing to survive and propagate. Religions that don't emphasize fertility tend to get out-competed by religions that do emphasize unrestricted breeding. Mormonism, Islam, and fundamentalist Christianity grow so fast in large part because they restrict women's roles to  childbearing and therefor have lots of baby Mormons, Muslims, and fundamentalist Christians.  While it's great for the religions, this is not so good for the individuals, or for the society we live in today. Today our kids need access to good educations, and it's darn hard for the average family to send 6 or 12 kids to college. Overpopulation is a serious concern for our whole planet; energy and resources are rapidly becoming depleted.  It's better for our society if most people have one or two kids, and take really good care of them.   Gay families that don't reproduce, or adopt, place fewer demands on limited resources.

There's no reason to discourage gay marriage anymore.  It's actually a really good thing for society. Thank goodness most of us are coming around to see that. Yay Utah!

Friday, January 3, 2014

American Exceptionalism

America, love it or leave it. The greatest nation. Patriotism. When did it become a conservative value to brag and boast about yourself?

We have vast territories with great climate for agriculture, mineral resources, forests, rivers, and tremendous scenic beauty. Our people bring with them tremendous diversity of culture and ideas. Why then do so many live in poverty? Why are so many unable to access basic health care? Why are our kids dropping out of school by the millions? Why are there no jobs?  Why are we lagging behind in technological innovations that will be necessary to provide energy and sustenance for our grandchildren? 

We can't afford to waste time and energy patting ourselves on the back and basking in past glory. We need to put aside  tribal squabbles and start investing in the future. How do the tiny Scandinavian countries with no resources to speak of manage to provide education, health care, and high living standards for all their people? They work together because their survival depends on it. 

I don't think we have that much to brag about. Yet. If we can get beyond the divisiveness and meanness created by political factionalism maybe we  can create something of which we can be really  proud. A country where every single child is born to parents who can provide a safe home and all the resources to give that child a strong foundation. A country where old people can retire with dignity and comfort, where sick people get the care they need without stress and worry about how they will live after going bankrupt to pay for it.  A country that invests in infrastructure, and education, and research, providing jobs and full employment for all. A country where people who work full-time at any job can live a decent life and provide the basics for their families.  

We are not there yet, but it's possible. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Sister wives

I am watching the reality show Sister Wives, with  obsessive fascination recently. The family of fundamentalist polygamists are exposing their lives and feelings to the public view in a kind of group therapy session every week. Kody Brown, the patriarch, has 17 kids and 4 wives. He doesn't seem like an old Testament Bearded stern god-to-be. More like a play dad who is living a fantasy life. His wives seem to be rather uni-dimensional, each with a clearly defined role. There is the  accountant and breadwinner, the nanny, the trophy wife, and the eldest wife who is the director, but considers herself a failure at the main job of wives, which is producing many children.

Kody himself doesn't seem to do much except have fun with the various families. He manages to go on honeymoons and anniversaries with each of his four wives every year, but we don't hear about how they manage to pay for the sports cars, vans, 4 houses, and adventures we see every week.

The whole sister wife concept appears appealing. I can see  how they benefit and it is pretty cool for the kids to live in a child-centered commune. But it is not sustainable in the long run. Each wife is younger than the last. We have to wonder if grey-haired Kody will continue producing progeny in his 60's and 70's with a new generation of fertile wives. What happens to the young men who are left without partners? And who will the children marry if most them are related to each other?

There is at least one documented  epidemic of severe recessive disease in the polygamous community of Short Creek due to inbreeding. The polygynous lifestyle (not true polygamy because it is always one husband with many wives, not the reverse) can only survive if it is rare in the community. When it becomes prevalent we begin to see the dark side, where young males are driven out, where young girls are coerced into relationships with old men, and where inbreeding creates genetic problems. The polygynous family is by necessity parasitic on society. Many, if not most rely on social services to feed the many children they have. One man is not enough to give 17 kids the financial emotional support they really deserve. We see only the fun times, and the good times in the Brown household.

The Browns seem like decent people other than being a bit short-sighted and selfish. They really want to fit into society but don't see the  harm they are doing.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


It still seems odd to write the numbers 20... in the date. I was born and raised in the twentieth century. The twenty first century sounds like science fiction to me. I remember when young men used to raise money for college expenses selling encyclopedia sets door to door. Each set cost hundreds of dollars ( a LOT of money back then) and had to be updated yearly with annual supplements. The volumes were instantly out-of-date as soon as they rolled off the presses but somehow it didn't seem like things changed as fast back then. Now we can find instant, in-depth answers and analyses of everything within 45 seconds (thanks Google and Wikipedia!). The world of information available is changing every second and I can wish my friends in England and Brazil a Happy New Year for free, and instantly. I see their baby pictures 10 seconds after they are made.

But my grandson may never know what it's like to spend long summer days playing in the woods and fields. He may never find and keep a box turtle for a pet. He may never see the vast flocks of birds that used to darken the sky as they migrated. He probably won't spend the summers on his bicycle riding down to the corner store and cruising for miles in the neighborhood. His life is already centered around electronic media. At 4  years old he can manipulate an iphone like a master.
I'm not sure if the tradeoff is worth it.