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Barry McGuire wrote Eve of Destruction in a single session in 1965. It became a number 1 hit and it made McGuire one of the classic “one hit wonders.” I recently listened to it again and I was amazed that 49 years after it was written, it rings as true today as it did in the sixties.

  • Ok, there is still “hate in Red China” but there is lots of hate in other places. Red China just has started making all the stuff we use in the whole world now. So we have to live with them.
  • You don’t go to space for four days, you go for four months, but when you return, it’s still the same old place. Except, we need Russian capsules now to get there.
  • We don’t have issues in Selma, Alabama now, but we have them in Ferguson, Missouri.
  • And we’re totin’ more guns than ever.
  • More than handfuls of senators still don’t pass legislation.

Barry McGuire probably didn’t know how visionary his song was at the time. Here he is in 2011:

Of course, if you want to hear the original version, here it is:

 

“Eve Of Destruction”

The eastern world it is exploding
Violence flarin’, bullets loadin’
You’re old enough to kill but not for votin’
You don’t believe in war but whats that gun you’re totin’?
And even the Jordan River has bodies floatin’

But you tell me
Over and over and over again my friend
Ah, you don’t believe
We’re on the eve of destruction

Don’t you understand what I’m tryin’ to say
Can’t you feel the fears I’m feelin’ today?
If the button is pushed, there’s no runnin’ away
There’ll be no one to save with the world in a grave
Take a look around you boy, it’s bound to scare you boy

And you tell me
Over and over and over again my friend
Ah, you don’t believe
We’re on the eve of destruction

Yeah my blood’s so mad feels like coagulating
I’m sitting here just contemplatin’
I can’t twist the truth it knows no regulation
Handful of senators don’t pass legislation
And marches alone can’t bring integration
When human respect is disintegratin’
This whole crazy world is just too frustratin’

And you tell me
Over and over and over again my friend
Ah, you don’t believe
We’re on the eve of destruction

Think of all the hate there is in Red China
Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama
You may leave here for four days in space
But when you return it’s the same old place
The pounding of the drums, the pride and disgrace
You can bury your dead but don’t leave a trace
Hate your next door neighbor but don’t forget to say grace

And tell me
Over and over and over and over again my friend
You don’t believe
We’re on the eve of destruction
Mmm, no, no, you don’t believe
We’re on the eve of destruction

 

a-town-like-alice
One of my Australian readers commented extensively about A Town Like Alice after my review of Trustee from the Toolroom. So I picked up my second Nevil Shute book and I loved it.

The story in Toolroom revolves around the  responsibilities of a trustee named in a will. Situations like that seemed to interest Shute, since A Town Like Alice is framed by a trustee telling us the story of a life.

The narrator is a solicitor (English for lawyer) who is the trustee of a will. The beneficiary is the heroine of the story, Jean Paget, a 23-year-old woman who becomes a prisoner of war by the Japanese during WW II in Malaya. During her terrible ordeal she briefly meets Joe Harman, an Australian cowboy, who takes enormous risks to help her and her group of fellow prisoners. Eventually Joe gets killed by the Japanese, or so Jean thinks.

After the war, the two meet up against all odds and end up building a life in the Australian outback, where Joe comes from.

“Alice” stands for Alice Springs, a city in the very center of the vast Australian continent. Alice, or even “the Alice,” as it is called by the Australians, was a comfortable place to live in the middle of the 20th century (1950). Shute published Alice in 1950, ten years before Toolroom in 1960, just before he died at the age of 60 in Melbourne, Australia.

A Town Like Alice is a finely crafted novel that really just tells a story. Other than the evils of war, there are no villains in this story. It just tells about life, during the war, and how it affected innocent women and children. Then it illustrates life in the Australian outback in vivid detail. I leaned much about Australia reading this book. Now I want to go and check out the places where no tourists go.

I want to see Alice Springs.

Rating: *** (out of 4)

 

Looking up Wall Street

Last week I visited Wall Street. I took the above picture standing down by the river underneath FDR Drive looking up the entire length of Wall Street, which terminates at Trinity Church, its steeple visible at the end.

Map of Wall Street

On this map you can see where I stood at the beginning of the red arrow, taking the photograph up the “canyon” of Wall Street. Trinity Church is at the top of the hill, about half way across the tip of Manhattan, at the green arrow of this map. The whole length of Wall Street is only about 0.7 miles long.

There are several different stories about why the street is named Wall Street. The most popular one is that there was a wall in the 1600s that separated the city from the wilderness and kept the Indians out.

1280px-CastelloPlanOriginal

This picture [public domain] comes from Wikipedia. Click to enlarge and you see a map of 1660, showing a wall on the right side of the city across the island.

Here is a picture [public domain] of Wall Street showing what it looked like in 1789, when Washington was inaugurated there. In the back you see Trinity Church.

New_York_City_Hall_1789b

Today I had dinner at a Panera Restaurant in a large shopping area in the suburban sprawl of Southern California, when I suddenly realized that the entire length of Wall Street would probably fit into the parking lot of the huge shopping mall where I was sitting.

Worlds away from Wall Street.

Did you know that today’s Iranian cabinet has more members with Ph.D. degrees from U.S. universities than Barack Obama’s cabinet does? In fact, Iran has more holders of American Ph.D.s in its presidential cabinet than France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, or Spain—combined.

Here is more information and links.

Should this make us think again about Iran?

Central African Republic

by Krista Larson : AP [click for picture credit]

Since January, the AP found that at least 5,186 people were killed in fighting between Muslims and Christians, based on a count of bodies and numbers gathered from survivors, priests, imams and aid workers in more than 50 of the hardest-hit communities in this African country.

Did you see Sean Hannity or Rachel Maddow talk about this on prime time TV in the United States?

Could you point out the Central African Republic on a map?

This is a country of 240,000 square miles. For comparison, California is 164,000 square miles. So Central African Republic is a little smaller than California and Arizona combined, or for my European readers, it’s a bit larger than Germany and the United Kingdom together. Yet, very few of us know where that country even is. It must be in Central Africa, duh.

Map of CAR

Christians and Muslims are slaughtering each other. Nobody seems to care. There is a token United Nations force there trying to stem the violence.

The United States media has given it very little attention. When Muslims slaughter Christians in Iraq, we somehow learn about it, but if it’s in Africa, don’t bother us. To give credit, however, I must add that the U.S. just now sent 20 people there to help open up the embassy again.

Of course, the Muslims in Africa are not terrorists plotting to blow up buildings in the United States, presumably, so they don’t rate.

Here is another example of why religion is poisonous to human life. These people, in their own vast country in the heart of Africa, with natural resources of diamonds, uranium, timber, gold, oil and hydropower, somehow choose to spend their energy on wars based on religious beliefs. As if those mattered.

The country should be spending its energies on attracting western capital to build up its resources, it needs leadership to run businesses harvesting those resources, it should invest in education for its children, build a workable infrastructure and join the international community, so the people of the world can point out their country on a map.

But their imams, priests and religious whatnots don’t seem to have that sense.

Why doesn’t Dick Cheney clamor for us to send “boots on the ground” to the Central African Republic? What’s the double standard here?

I am certainly not suggesting we do that, to get involved in a military conflict in a country that we don’t know, based on religions that we don’t understand, based on passions that we don’t care about.

So, why then, do we send American young men and women into Syria and Iraq?

 

 

 

 

California regulators have sent warning letters to Uber, Lyft and Sidecar to say that their new carpool features are illegal.

Will the government please keep its inept hands out of people’s private lives and decisions. We have been trying to reduce traffic in California for decades. Driving in the Bay Area is a frustrating, mind-numbing endeavor. There are too many cars on the road.

Yet here is our government telling us sharing rides is illegal.

Get with the program  and get out of people’s way.

 

Colliding with Andromeda

Andromeda by Pacholka

Andromeda Galaxy by Wally Pacholka [click for full picture credit]

The Andromeda Galaxy is visible in the picture above as photographed by Wally Pacholka in Bryce Canyon. Andromeda is the bright smudge in the right lower side of the sky. It’s actually very hard to see with the naked eye, but the disk is three degrees wide on the sky, six times as wide as the full moon. To get a good look at it, you need a good set of binoculars or a telescope.

Or you can look at one of the many pictures available online:

Andromeda

Andromeda Galaxy from Earth

Andromeda is the nearest large galaxy to our Milky Way. It is about 2 million light years away and it is a spiral galaxy not dissimilar to our own. Our Milky Way would look a lot like this to a viewer from the Andromeda Galaxy. Andromeda is larger than the Milky Way. We estimate that it contains about 1 trillion stars, versus “only” 300 billion in the Milky Way.

Scientists have discovered that the Andromeda Galaxy and the Milky Way are on a collision course, approaching each other at a speed of 245,000 miles per hour. This means that every hour the Andromeda Galaxy hurtles our way by more than the distance of the Moon from the Earth. At that rate, the two galaxies will “collide” about 4 billion years from now.

Andromeda Collision

Collision of Andromeda and Milky Way [Picture Credit: NASA; ESA; Z. Levay and R. van der Marel, STScI; T. Hallas; and A. Mellinger]

Here is an artist’s conception of what the Earth’s night sky will look like then. On the left you see the Andromeda filling up pretty much the entire sky. On the right is the Milky Way, already being distorted.

Would we get hit? If the Sun were the size of a ping pong ball, the nearest star to us, Proxima Centauri, would be a pea about 680 miles away. That’s how “densely packed” our galaxy is with stars. So even though billions of stars would race past each other at a speed of 245,000 miles per hour, statistically none will collide, but the gravitational forces will wreak havoc to their paths and the two galaxies will merge to become one super galaxy.

Too bad we can’t be around to see this. But then again, if there were viewers here at that time, what we see in the picture above would be their normal daily night sky, unchanged and apparently unmoving for many millions of years.

There won’t be any humans around then. The sun will have expanded and burned the Earth to a lifeless cinder crisp. Earth will be a dead rock circling that huge red sun none of us would recognize as our own.

It will be other civilizations, other beings alive then, on other planets near other stars, that will have the privilege of this view.

 

9/11 – 13 Years After

Thirteen years after this tragic event, here is a picture of the Freedom Tower, now completed at a height of 1,776 feet, with cranes working on the dramatic ribs of the roof of the 9/11 museum, still under construction.

Freedom Tower

LeSean McCoy of the Philadelphia Eagles leaves a 20 cent tip to his waiters in a Philadelphia burger joint on a $60 bill. Our sponsorship of the NFL funds millionaires enjoying their game and reinforces their boorish behavior.

Read the full story here.

“It’s a Quagmire”

Norbert Haupt:

Here is an enlightening quote from Dick Cheney from 1994, where he said on CNN that if you take out the government of Iraq, the pieces could fly off and it would be a quagmire. I can’t believe I am going to say this: Dick Cheney was right!
Dick Cheney was right!

Originally posted on The Bully Pulpit:

Dick Cheney

“Once you got to Iraq and took it over, and took down Saddam Hussein’s government, then what are you going to put in its place?

That’s a very volatile part of the world, and if you take down the central government of Iraq you can easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off. Part of it the Syrians would like to have to the west. Part of eastern Iraq, the Iranians would like to claim, fought over for eight years. In the north you’ve got the Kurds, and if the Kurds spin loose and join with the Kurds in Turkey, then you threaten the territorial integrity of Turkey. It’s a quagmire.”

__________

Dick Cheney, riffing in an interview with CNN on April 15th, 1994.

Go on:

View original

Measles1

[click for credit: History of Vaccines]

According to the blog the History of Vaccines, there were millions of cases of measles in the United States until vaccines were introduced in the 1960s. The graph above shows this obviously. By 2000, the measles were all but eradicated in the United States.

Worldwide, measles and many other dangerous diseases, like small pox, have been eradicated and just about wiped out.

By science.

Then religious people in the United States arose and started objecting to having  their children vaccinated.  Our society is succumbing to this insane trend, and now diseases that were all but gone are on the rise again.

Look at what happened to measles:

Measles2

CDC Statistics

The year is not even over yet and we already have more than 600 cases in the United States.

 We have schools in California where the percent of children who exercise the personal belief exemption is well above 50%. That’s going to be a challenge for any disease that is vaccine preventable.

– LA Times – Dr. Gil Chavez, deputy director of the California Department of Public Health’s Center for Infectious Diseases

Children don’t exercise this “exemption.” Parents do. And by doing it, they are killing their own children.

In the name of God.

 

 

 

NYC 09-07-14 - A

A view of uptown Manhattan from the JFK airport tonight just before sunset. The spire on the left is the Empire State Building. Since Brooklyn is a hill, I can only see the top halves of the building from here.

Busted!

The chairman of the board of my company always wrote the minutes of the board meetings and circulated them to the board members a few days after the meetings for verification and editing. As it goes with such broadcasts, nobody reads them, and everyone responds that the minutes are “okay.”

What we didn’t know at first was that he purposely sprinkled odd spelling errors into the drafts so he could always tell whether we actually read them.

Once we figured this out, the race was on to find the “spello” and the minutes always got read from that point on.

Just like map makers used to put fake towns on their maps for copyright reasons, basically so they can tell who copied their work and come after them, the New Oxford American Dictionary did it with the word “esquivalience.” Now that the secret is out, I am sure there is a new word in there. Go find it!

I might note that my WordPress app does detect it as a fake:

Esquivalience

So does Microsoft Word:

Esquivalience1

Here is the whole story from  Wikipedia:

From Wikipedia:

Esquivalience” is a fictitious entry in the New Oxford American Dictionary (NOAD), which was designed and included to protect copyright of the publication.

The word was invented by Christine Lindberg, one of the editors of the NOAD and discovered by Henry Alford.

It was leaked that the dictionary had put in a fake word in the letter e and Alford set out to find the word. It was discovered after review of a short list by several experts. When the editor, Erin McKean, was contacted she admitted that it was indeed a fake word and had been in since the first edition, in order to protect the copyright of the CD-ROM edition.

When fictitious matter is inserted in official documents it can be referred to as a paper town. Map makers used paper towns (a fake town on their map) for copyright reasons just as “the New Oxford American Dictionary” did with the word “esquivalience”.

The word is defined as “the willful avoidance of one’s official responsibilities”.

The fake entry apparently ensnared dictionary.com, which included an entry for it (that has since been removed) that was attributed to Webster’s New Millennium Dictionary, both of which are owned by the private company Lexico. Possibly due to its licensing of Oxford dictionaries, Google Dictionary included the word, listing three meanings and giving usage examples.

What do you think would happen if this were sprung on a high school spelling bee champion?

 

Passenger-Pigeon-300x208This week we had a very sad anniversary: Exactly one hundred years ago, on September 1, 1914, the last passenger pigeon in the world, named Martha, died in the Cincinnati Zoo.

Scientists estimate that there were three to five billion passenger pigeons in North America when the Europeans first arrived. It was the most abundant bird on the continent.  More than a quarter of all birds were passenger pigeons.

Relentless hunting by humans was the cause for their demise. Pigeons served as cheap food for slaves and the poor. After a slow decline through the beginning of the 19th century, the collapse became catastrophic between 1870 and 1890. The populations never recovered, and the last pigeon died in 1914.

Pretty much nobody alive today has ever seen this bird.

We are doing the same today to elephants. There are only about 600,000 African elephants and 30,000 to 50,000 Asian elephants alive today. Already 20% of all elephants are in captivity. It is estimated that there were 1.3 million elephants in the world in 1979. So in 35 years, we have cut the population in half.

Conservationists estimate that in the last three years 100,000 elephants were killed by poachers. This is up sharply from about 20,000 a year only a few years ago.

To put this into perspective:

Poachers are killing about four elephants an hour right now, 24 hours a day, every day, every year.

And it’s all about the ivory. In most parts of the industrialized world, ivory is tightly controlled or even banned now. However, in China, ivory carving is deeply rooted in tradition and massive amounts of ivory are still being consumed for that purpose. Newly rich Chinese love to shower each other with gifts of elaborately carved pieces of ivory.

But even in the United States, we don’t all agree. Obama has recently faced opposition from, believe it or not, the National Rifle Association. If ivory can’t be sold, then guns or rifles with ivory inlays in the handles, could also not be sold. So the NRA opposes the initiative.

The insanity of it all is mind-numbing. If the killing goes on at “only” the current rate, there won’t be any elephants left in 20 years. Like any population, once it is small enough, it can no longer sustain itself and it will collapse. We may be the last generation that can still witness live wild elephants.

Then what are the Chinese going to carve? Then what are we going to inlay into our rifle butts?

Unlike the burning of fossil fuels, which we can’t just stop overnight, we could easily just stop buying ivory. Cold turkey. The killing would stop overnight.

But it doesn’t. And just like there are no more passenger pigeons, there will soon be no more elephants.

The pilot of a Virgin America flight facilitates a wing to wing encounter with the Virgin Galactic White Knight and creates a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle for the passengers. I always thought that Branson’s Virgin companies were cool. This tops it off.

It’s not every day that you get to fly next to a spaceship!

 

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