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Archive for the ‘Wisdom’ Category

Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.

— Mark Twain

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The Woman sent me this:

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Norbert at Sunset on Maui — Picture Credit: Trisha

One of the best things about Hawai’i is that it puts me in my place. I love the islands, and I love even more marveling about them.

The islands are one of the most remote places on earth. It takes six hours by plane from the nearest mainland, California, to get here. There is no land in between. And once here, there is no other land in any direction closer than that. We’re in the middle of the Pacific, as far away from any land as you can get.

As the islands formed, only one new species of animal was added every 10,000 years, since it was so difficult for life to get here. Driftwood carried insects and seeds, and occasional storms carried birds. Of course, that all changed when humans started coming here a thousand years ago.

Whenever I am here, I am struck by how young these islands are compared to geological ages. I can see the youngness in the land, and still, compared to human history, it is ancient.

The Hawaiian islands were formed by a single hot spot under the Pacific that has been spewing lava for tens of millions of years, while the Pacific plate is moving from east to west. The oldest of the islands are toward the east, the biggest one remaining is Kauai. There are older islands west of Kauai, or remainders of islands, all washed back to the sea. Kauai is 5.1 million years old. That’s all. Oahu is 3 million years old. Maui is 1.32 million years old. The Big Island is only 400,000 years old. Proto humans already walked the earth and came out into the savannahs in Africa when the Big Island was formed.

And now, Lo’ihi is an active submarine volcano located about 22 miles off the southeast coast of the Big Island. Its top is now about 3,000 feet below sea level. When it finally reaches the surface, it will be the next Hawaiian island as the other ones slide northeast.  

Maui is called the Valley Isle. There are really two major volcanoes on Maui,  the western side is 5,700 feet high, and Haleakala is 10,000 feet high. The valley between the two mountains is pronounced and very obvious when looking down from either mountain. Driving from ocean to ocean from the north end of the valley to the south end takes only about 20 minutes. Looking at the water lapping at the edge makes me think how the ocean is biting into the land, foot by foot. Every time I drive that stretch I am aware that this land will be under water in the not too distant future. It won’t take many feet of sea level rise before this valley ocean, and Maui becomes two islands. Our descendants will see two islands where I only see one. The only question is, will it be my grandchildren, or will it be another 50,000 years?

To think that all of Haleakala will be washed into the sea, completely gone, in another 10 million years boggles my mind. Ten million years is nothing in geological terms. To wash a 10,000 foot mountain completely into the sea in 10 million years, the rain and wind only has to erode it by 1 foot every 1,000 years. Quite possible.

In my entire lifetime I just got to catch a small glimpse of land being formed in Hawaii, and being washed away. A blink of an eye only. This puts my human lifespan into perspective and lets me understand how long a span of 10 million  years actually is.

Watching time shape Hawaii reminds me of a quote in a John Denver song:  I have to say it now, it’s been good life all in all, it’s really fine to have a chance to hang around.

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mattis-and-tillerson

James Mattis and Rex Tillerson

Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are the adults in the room of Trump.

I don’t necessarily agree with the political orientation of the two men, and their agendas, but I sense that they are men of principle and character. They are the adults in the current administration and it gives me some degree of comfort to know these two men are in the positions they are in, Defense and State.

They will not do anything stupid just because “the boss said so.” They will stand up to Trump when necessary. They will not be the lackeys of Trump or anyone else.

They are now working for a petulant, puerile, self-obsessed and basically ignorant president.

The only question I have is: How long will they last?

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trump-rambling

— from Colin Taylor, Occupy Democrats

Obviously, our president cannot form a clear thought in answer to a question and communicate that thought. He an embarrassment to our nation every time he speaks.

On the good side, we’re going to see a lot of love. Okay?

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New Words

  • Gaslighting
  • Narcissism
  • Bigly
  • Emoluments
  • Terrific
  • Nepotism
  • Alternative Facts
  • Breitbart

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Obama 2016

national-prayer-breakfast-obama-2016

Trump 2017

national-prayer-breakfast-trump-2017

For search purposes:

And on this occasion, I always enjoy reflecting on a piece of scripture that’s been meaningful to me or otherwise sustained me throughout the year. And lately, I’ve been thinking and praying on a verse from Second Timothy: ‘For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.’

— President Obama

 

Thank you as well to Senate Chaplain Barry Black, for his moving words. And I don’t know Chaplain whether or not that’s an appointed position — is that an appointed position? I don’t even know if you’re Democrat or if you’re Republican, but I’m appointing you for another year, the hell with it — we had tremendous success on The Apprentice … and they hired a big, big movie star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to take my place. And we know how that turned out. The ratings went down the tubes. It’s been a total disaster … and I want to just pray for Arnold if we can, for those ratings, OK?

— President Trump

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Twenty sixteen is nearly gone
Good riddance, I can’t wait for new
It’s really time that we move on
Of happy thoughts there were just few.

We’re stuck in endless war and strife
With no way out anytime soon
The world needs help and cherish life
But we elected a buffoon.

Let there be hope, we now need light
And thoughts that we look forward to
Let our days ahead be bright
Start twenty seventeen anew!

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The US Horror-Clown

For those of you who are able to read German, here is a column from a paper (Taz) in Germany, musing about Christmas, terror, the world’s problems and an outlook for a better future on a gray, cold and foggy morning in Berlin. I have underlined one sentence for you:

Despair over the US Horror-Clown

Take a wild guess.

horror-clown

[click to enlarge]

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Sick cultures show a complex of symptoms such as you have named…but a dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot.

— Robert Heinlein

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Wisdom on Our Democracy

The larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, and the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most easily adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum.

The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

— Henry Louis Mencken, a prominent newspaperman and political commentator, Baltimore Evening Sun, July 26, 1920

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Cracks

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

— Leonard Cohen

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What This Means

trump2

Here is a great article in Current Affairs.

text

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After You Lose

You know the feeling after the home team is eliminated from going into the finals: “Well, we’ll do better next season.”

So it is with me.

Bernie Sanders would have won. I was a Bernie supporter and donor. He was forced out by Clinton. The country is the worse for it now. Hindsight is 2020.

Speaking of 2020:

Unfortunately, Bernie Sanders is already 75 years old. He’ll be 79 in 2020. I don’t think he’ll be able to do a successful run for the presidency then.

But then there is Elizabeth Warren. A woman. Squeaky clean, sharp as a razor, gutsy as a bulldog, and motivated.

Maybe I’ll see a woman president in my lifetime after all. Warren 2020. Where do I send my money?

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There are 42 immigrants on the Forbes 400 list. That’s just over 10%. Most of them have a very high “self-made score.”

For instance, Jan Koum, the founder of WhatsApp, is 40 years old and worth over $8.8 billion. That’s more than twice the net worth of Donald Trump, at $3.7 billion.

Koum immigrated from the Ukraine with his mother in 1992 due to the political and anti-Semitic environment there. His mom worked as a babysitter. Koum was 16 years old and he got a job as a cleaner in a grocery store. They got an apartment through government assistance, and bought groceries with food stamps. Then Koum went to San Jose State, definitely not ivy league, and then got a job at Yahoo! where he worked for nine years before he started WhatsApp.

The American system has supported this immigrant in the beginning, yes. Cynics will lament that our tax dollars paid for penniless immigrants. They did. However, Koum created American jobs and American wealth, for himself, and for many others. He made many people millionaires.

The fact that 10% of the Forbes 400 are immigrants, and that many of them came to this country with a single suitcase, no money, two hands to work menial jobs, and an indomitable belief in themselves and the American Dream, attests to the value of immigrants in America.

Nothing can be more misguided than the nonsense we’re hearing spouted every day now. Go get the Forbes 400 edition of 2016. It provides many inspiring stories.

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