Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Scars upon the Land

[click to enlarge]

The hill in the background is in San Marcos, California. It used to be all covered by brush. The peak on the far left is Double Peak, the highest point in San Diego North County. Now somebody built a house on it (green arrow), and cleared his property all around it. The gap is visible for miles from many directions. It will be there for a very long time.

Scars upon the land.

Earth from Moon1

Three people were circling the moon that day. They took this picture, containing all of humanity in one shot. Then two of those people proceeded to land on the moon. It was a giant leap for mankind.

Norbert Haupt:

Here is a delightful summary of why parents should not text. Ever.
Oops, I am a parent. What am I saying?

Originally posted on The Journal:

1234567891011

View original

Zygote: a cell that is formed when an egg and a sperm combine : a fertilized egg. There are people in our country that say that a zygote is a person and should receive the full protection of the law based on that personhood.

There are also people who say that say that children that are in our country without documented citizen or resident alien status should be sent back to where they came from, no matter what the conditions. Are they thinking of those children as persons?

Does the zygote have citizen papers? No. So if he or she is eventually born in Mexico, tough luck.

I must admit, I am baffled.

 

News abound about looting going on at the crash site of MH17 in the Ukraine. People are going through luggage, taking electronics, any valuables they like, wallets and money. To me, this is astonishing on many levels:

1. The local government and law enforcement does not have their act together sufficiently to secure the crash site and perform a proper investigation. I must be naïve about the integrity of the area as it relates to the “almost” civil war.  Make a ring of troops around this area – we know you have enough manpower, and lock the place down!

2. Human beings living in the local area are poor and desperate enough to rifle through other people’s stuff, people who boarded an airplane in far away Amsterdam to go to far away Malaysia and just happened to pass through. Their moral code is lacking the concept that this stuff lying on the ground belongs to other people who, in this case, were extremely unfortunate and had very bad luck by being killed. They don’t understand that these objects might be very important to the relatives of the victims and that they might want them back. There are thousands of people who lost somebody in this disaster. Every one of those people is cringing in pain knowing that looters are going through the wreckage, disgracing their loved ones and their belongings.

3. Shooting down an airliner is one of the most heinous terrorist acts or mass murder imaginable. It does not happen very often, but when it does, the entire world usually grieves. I grieve for the victims. My world is not quite right, and I am thousands of miles away, safe and removed from the reality. However, people living in the villages right there obviously are not grieving, since they have the strength to scour the site and take away other people’s stuff as theirs.

I don’t think we’re any holier than the Ukrainians. If a plane went down in the rural United States, I can imagine that there could be looting, too, if the authorities didn’t lock down the site. The difference is, the authorities do lock down the sites pretty quickly here, so this does not happen. But remember Katrina, remember hurricane Sandy and the images of people carrying television sets out of stores.

The fact that our moral codes break down as soon as “the law” can no longer enforce a code shows how weak our civilization is. The smallest upset in the order of things, like a natural disaster or a terror strike, can remove the shackles of normal civilized ethics, and the concept of property disappears.

The frightening thing is: it’s not just the concept of property. The next step is that without “the law” bullies with guns will start extorting food, water and ammunition from others that don’t have guns, and they will pillage and rape. I am not saying that everyone becomes lawless, but it does not have to be everyone. If only one in a hundred thinks that they now have rights over other people’s properties or bodies, that’s sufficient to plunge us back into the Bronze Age.

Disasters like the MK17 terror strike brings out the worst in us.

Try to ask Siri whether it can give you directions using Google Maps and see what happens:

U-Sing-Along

Not only does it does it do this, but it launches Apple Maps and proceeds with directions from wherever you are to some location in Los Angeles, where there is presumably the U-Sing-Along Music Store.

Siri obviously has a very twisted sense of humor.

Time Travel

 

I am going on a time trip. I need to borrow some weapon, though. Does somebody have any weapons I could use for a minute?

No matter how long I’ll be engaged down-time, I will return exactly one minute after I leave, so we could arrange that you come to my place with the weapons. You give me the weapons, you just wait for a minute until I come back from my time trip, and I’ll give you the weapons right back.

But first I need to write to this guy in Prince George, BC.

As it turns out, a large percentage of the people onboard Malaysian flight 17 were top AIDS researchers on the way to Melbourne, Australia for a conference.

The conference will have a somber mood, with so many participants missing this year. This article in the Sydney Morning Herald shows details.

The insanity of ethnic strife and suppression, as evidenced in Ukraine, and of course going in on Syria and Iraq, is both depressing and agonizing.

Put the guns down, people!

And the rockets!

Here is a Verizon customer who found that his Netflix videos don’t load. This guy is an expert, and he did the research and discovered that Verizon purposely throttles traffic from Netflix.

He pays Verizon for 75 mbps down, 35 mbps up on his Fios connection. His research shows that a Netflix video streams at 375 kbps (or 0.375 mbps) at the fastest.

This is 0.5% of the speed that he is paying for, or 200 times slower.

Check out the article here and how he works around it now that he knows it’s going on.

I don’t care what the arguments between Netflix and Verizon are. However, I do care that my service provider gives me the product they promised and contracted for. It says nothing in this guy’s contract that Verizon gets to throttle Netflix.

Now I have to check my own connections with Cox.

Here is something I thought I’d never read: Steve Forbes is worried about birds. In the Forbes July 21, 2014 edition, in his signature column Fact & Comment, on page 23:

ForbesBirds1

ForbesBirds2

Put fossil fuel burning in jeopardy and, as it looks, Steve Forbes would start writing columns protecting the California Gnat Catcher, too.

AlmostAdam

What if a tract of land in western Kenya had remained untouched by humanity and influences of evolution and essentially remained stuck in the Pliocene (1.5 – 5.0 million years ago), complete with living tribes of australopithecus afarensis?

Ken Lauder, the protagonist in Almost Adam, is an anthropologist who works with his Kenyan friend Ngili in a remote area. They come across foot prints and fossils that indicate that there might be ancestors of humanity living right now.

The story involves much scientific explanation and a lot of speculation into what life might have been like for early humans living in the Pliocene. It also delves deeply into African politics (albeit fictitious) and scientific competition and intrigue.

The result is a complex story full of youthful dreamers, murderous villains and a lot of sexual tension. I enjoyed the bush episodes the most, where we followed Ken into the savannah and bush, watching him slowly lose his modernism and turning into a prehistoric human full of the raw emotions and needs, consumed by the simple and vital needs of finding food, water, shelter and fighting off foes of all kinds.

I could have done without all the complicated machinations of Kenyan politics and the lives of the elite. The most difficult character to accept was Cyril Anderson, supposedly a world-renowned anthropologist, but a maniacal egotist who does not think twice before stealing the finds of others and taking the credit, and who is willing to kill to meet his endless need for glory and fame. The Cyril character was just too far-fetched for me to accept and therefore never seemed real.

Almost Adam is a very entertaining and educational story about the dawn of humanity. The book is 600 pages long and my only criticism is that it was probably too long. Popescu could have told the same story with the same impact in 400 pages.

However, I learned a lot about the evolutionary development of human genitalia. Did you know why the modern human vagina is forward facing and not exposed to the back? Why do modern apes have large testicles and very small penises, and why are human penises so disproportionately large? Popescu knows a lot about penises and why size matters. If you also want to know, you will just have to read Almost Adam.

Rating : ** 1/2 (out of 4)

 

Here is a blue light special that I knew nothing about. High profile civilians in Russia get to drive with police-like lights and sirens and bully their way through traffic jams. Thanks goodness we don’t have this in the U.S. Can you imagine what it would be like if rich people and government officials got to slap lights on their Lamborghinis?

The class system seems to be alive and thriving in Russia.

Portugal have Ronaldo
Brazil have Neymar
Argentina have Messi
Germany has a team

Korean Concentration Camps

The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea estimates that North Korea holds as many as 120,000 people in its system of concentration and detention camps, and that 400,000 people have died in these camps from torture, starvation, disease, and execution.

Some reports indicate that they also practice generational imprisonment:

Many prisoners of the camp were born there under North Korea’s “three generations of punishment”. This means anyone found guilty of committing a crime, which could be as simple as trying to escape North Korea, would be sent to the camp along with that person’s entire family. The subsequent two generations of family members would be born in the camp and must also live their entire lives and die there.

Source Wikipidia

See this Wikipedia article for more details and links.

If you are unlucky enough to be born the grandchild of a person who tried to escape the country, you will serve slave labor for your entire life. Imagine the world-view you would have under those circumstances?

And we, in 2014, allow this to go on, while the baby face dictator gets media coverage.

Bees are Dying

In North America alone, the National Agriculture Statistics Service reported that there were 2.44 million honey-producing hives in the United States in February 2008, down from 4.5 million in 1980, and 5.9 million in 1947. This is also happening in similar proportions in Europe and the rest of the world. We don’t exactly know what is causing it, but we suspect pesticides. Our agriculture depends on bees to a large degree, and entire crops are in peril without sufficient numbers of bees available.

Overfishing the Oceans

Faced with the collapse of large-fish populations, commercial fleets are going deeper in the ocean and father down the food chain for viable catches. This so-called “fishing down” is triggering a chain reaction that is upsetting the ancient and delicate balance of the sea’s biologic system.

A study of catch data published in 2006 in the journal Science grimly predicted that if fishing rates continue apace, all the world’s fisheries will have collapsed by the year 2048.

National Geographic

Anthropogenic Climate Change

97% of climate scientists agree that human activity is causing climate change.  We are pumping CO2 into the atmosphere at rates that will result in global warming to a degree that the ice caps in Greenland and Antarctica will melt, causing a rise of sea levels and overall changed in weather, resulting in droughts and many other climate related disasters, all within the next 100 years.

Most of the educated world agrees with this assessment. In the United States, however, there is a strong movement of “climate deniers” particularly in the conservative population that is well-funded by the oil and coal industries, putting the general consensus in question. Since the U.S. is by far the largest polluter in the world, this strong anti-climate-change sentiment has global implications. One of the arguments of deniers is that since China and India are just starting to pump pollution into the air, whatever we do will not offset that, so we might as well not even try. A significant percentage of the U.S. population seems to have bought into this philosophy.

We didn’t want to face that smoking was dangerous to our health, until the first generations of smokers started dying early in the millions in the 1960s and 1970, so the inevitable evidence eventually came and changed our attitude. This will happen with climate change, but the nature of the problem is much more calamitous in the event that climate scientists are right. We could ruin the planet for centuries or millennia – before it can recover again.

We are playing a big-stakes game of dice. Our conservatives are not even willing to hedge their bets – they’re betting the planet in exchange of jobs and profits.

Mass Extinction

Human beings are currently causing the greatest mass extinction of species since the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. If present trends continue, one half of all species of life on earth will be extinct in less than 100 years, as a result of habitat destruction, pollution, invasive species,
and climate change.

Source Link Here

Depletion of Fossil Fuels

Oil companies are making record profits, and did so during the hard years of 2007, 2008 and 2009. Right now, the United States has surpassed Saudi Arabia as the largest oil producer in the world. Oil companies are raking it in while they can, because they know the gravy train is coming to an end. The International Energy Agency announced in 2006 that the world had hit “Peak Oil” meaning that oil production worldwide had hit the maximum. Going forward from Peak Oil, it will be harder and more expensive to extract and deliver oil, and new supplies will lag behind new demand.

The evidence for is, of course, is the price we are now paying at the pump, which is more than twice what it was just five years ago. The free market speaks the ultimate truth here. Oil is in more demand than can be fulfilled.

There is a lot of controversy about the Peak Oil theory. People argue that the Peak Oil crowd does not know what they are talking about. So, for a moment, let’s put aside all studies and all science, and especially all American politics.

It took about 450 million years to make all the oil in the world. Oil is basically the end-result of millions of years of sunshine (solar energy) being trapped in organic material, mostly plants. The earth is not making any more of the stuff at an appreciable rate. About a hundred years ago we started using it up by burning it and as ingredients for manufacturing, and we have made a measurable dent in our supply. If you trust the doom-sayers, we have about 20 years of oil left at the current consumption. Some say 20 to 50 years. Wild and crazy optimists say 100 years. But it’s limited, very limited, and we will run out.

The question is not if Peak Oil is real. The only question we may ask is if it really happened in 2006, or if it’s still off in the future, perhaps in 2016 or 2026.

I once calculated [see formula here] that roughly every day we are using up as much fuel as it took nature 5,000 years to create.

We. Will. Run. Out. Of. Oil.

When the time finally comes, perhaps centuries hence, our descendants will have figured out how to make do without it. But there are legitimate uses of fossil fuels in reasonable amounts, and they will wish we had not squandered it to make plastic grocery bags or plastic forks for one time use; or for teenagers to drive to the mall. Fossil fuels are a limited resource, and when they are all gone, we’ll have to wait another 450 million years to get more, and haul them here from another planet with life on it.

Our strategy is pretty weird, isn’t it?

Slavery

There are more people in slavery today than any time in previous history. Slavery has many faces. Keeping people trapped in sweatshops in Bangladesh so we can buy cheap shirts at the mall in the United States is a form of slavery. Holding young girls as sex objects is a form of slavery. Bringing laborers from Pakistan to work in construction in Dubai and taking away their passports is a form of slavery.

We are making it possible and we let it happen by our willingness to consume the products of the various forms of slavery – at Wal-Mart and all the other retail stores in our neighborhoods. Go to the mall and try to find a shirt made in the United States, and you will recognize what I mean.

Wars over Religion

It’s 2014 and we are still bickering and shooting each other over whose god is right and whose is wrong. It’s been going on for thousands of years, and we’re still willing to die for stuff written in books in the bronze age or in medieval times. I know people in and from Israel, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. They are all good human beings, people who only want to make their lives and the lives of their children better. That’s what everybody wants. If we just stopped bringing gods into the picture, we’d all get along just fine.

The gods are propped up by those that get fat off of them. The religious leaders wearing Rolexes and driving Bentleys. The politicians who build palaces. The kings who tax the rest of their countrymen. And the whole religious food chain below them, all the way down to the basket that’s passed down the rows of pews on Sunday morning.

I say we just abolish religion and save humanity in the process. But I am naïve.

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 430 other followers

%d bloggers like this: