Thursday, February 28, 2013

The sky is falling

Last week there was a meteor that came close to the earth.  It didn’t actually hit but the people in Russia have a new fascination and appreciation for life. The Chelyabinsk meteor exploded at an estimated altitude of 12 miles, sending shock waves that blasted windows and shaking the inhabitants into believing that we are not as safe as we once thought.

Most believe the Russian Meteor was a portion of the larger asteroid that skirted the planet within 17,000 miles, that’s close in cosmic terms and the break-off of the Russian portion makes that particular flyby even more intriguing.  “The asteroid, DA14, was discovered by a Spanish dental surgeon and space enthusiast using a high-end camera (so in Russian terms were talking about the equivalent of a Kodak instant). The rock will pass within 17,000 miles (27,300 kilometers) of Earth on Feb. 15, closer than the moon and many orbiting satellites. It is half the size of a U.S. football field and represents the closest recorded approach of an object of its size.”

It was not the first, our planet has experienced massive impacts in the past and with this recent pass the reality of another and perhaps larger Asteroid seems more probable.  I recall the movie “Armageddon” with Bruce Willis as they attempted to land on an approaching asteroid to blow it apart before it struck the earth with devastating power.  It was a good movie and it had a believable premise for near future disasters but for now we are simply at the mercy of a chaotic cosmos, careening haphazardly in every conceivable direction.

Like a game of marbles with the prize sitting within the circle the smaller objects are shot with great speed toward the coveted agate, most missing the mark but eventually a lucky shot hits the chunk of glass or stone and sends it spinning away from its set position.  You wonder how easy it would be for a football field sized chunk of iron to alter the orbit of our home.  How many unknown killer planetoids are searching for their mark and have pinpointed our earth as the prize.

We often think of the universe as a chaotic mass of spinning bodies held in check by unexplained gravity and anti-gravity, with each micro particle interacting with Higgs boson particles acting like magnets, pulling and repulsing smaller unknown elements to create the pattern of movement within space and regulating the orbits of suns and planets as they all work in concert.  Chaos, I think not.  Organized, planned, purposeful, currently way beyond our ability to understand, we can’t even get our own weather right, but in a form so controlled and strategic that it suggests premeditation.

I’ve always liked looking up into the heavens to see the stars rotate around the North Star.  I take great comfort in knowing that Orion’s Belt will be in the same place at the same time depending on the seasons and that all of the constellations can be predictable.  Even if some of those well-known astrological configurations could be long gone our perception based on the traveled light to our world still holds them in our minds.

The concerns generated over the unexpected problems of the Russian meteor have brought to mind how unprepared we really are for that major impact that will come; it’s only a matter of time. Like the great earthquake that will separate California from the rest of the continental United States, it will come and it will be devastating.  That’s why I bought a home inland so that when the event does come my chances for beach front property are improved.  I can’t afford to live by the beach now but maybe in ten or twenty years the big one will bring the ocean to me.

The problem and this is a reoccurring problem is that we only react to disasters after the disasters have happened.  I guess you could argue the case of why waste your time trying to think of every scenario but if I’m not mistaken that’s what our military does, it’s what our financial institutions do and it’s what most politicians have done, they try to prepare for those unknown contingencies, being better prepared to weather those unscheduled storms, the leaked stories of impropriety, the random email containing illicit information or even worse unflattering photos...  Isn’t that why we have a rainy day fund?  Well I used to have a rainy day fund, that was until it rained, now all I have is the hope that the rain doesn’t get too hard or that a meteor doesn’t find its way to the roof of my future beach from home.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Voting Guide for the future...

When in the course of human history, when a man is left to decide he generally decides logically.  When in the course of human history when men are left to decide they generally act irrationally and politically helping us all to understand the problems with group dynamics, the larger the group the less dynamic or in other words the larger the group the more stupid it becomes.

Our country is facing some very serious decisions and it would be nice if we had faith that those making those decisions had our best interest at heart.  Like a hard working father or mother deciding for their family or a small business owner trying to decide for his business, a business that includes the welfare of his family and employees or perhaps a farmer who strives to create a meaningful crop, profitable but responsible, knowing that a wrong decision could be disastrous.  

The problem with making decisions for others is the insulation they have from the consequences of their actions.  Consequences are an essential aspect of good decision making, without them there is no risk of failure and without that risk all decisions are selfish and self-serving.  

It’s time to reinstate the principle of consequence into the political system.  We used to use our vote as the ultimate consequence but that has failed miserably as more uninformed voters continue to vote for the promised handouts never ever considering the short term or long term effects of giveaway politics,   those who vote for what they want regardless of the overall needs of the nation, their community or their families. 

We have transformed a divinely inspired voting process into a scheme of musical chairs with everyone vying for the ever diminishing seats, lunging selfishly as the music stops, elbowing and kicking their way to get what they want regardless of what others need.

We have lost sight of the greatness of our nation and the goodness of our charity, forgetting that we have enough for all; we could easily feed the world but fail to feed ourselves.  Our politicians are corrupt, inept and colossally selfish; they have not had our best interest in mind for decades.

Warning:  The following is not meant to be racist but a great example can be found within the Black population.  Over the past 50 years political policies designed to ingratiate this specific segment of the population has created an almost genocidal wave of destruction.

A policy analysis released by the Cato Institute in April shows that despite nearly $15 trillion in total welfare spending since President Lyndon Johnson began the "war on poverty" in 1964, the poverty rate in the United States has remained relatively constant.   Not all of the 15 trillion dollars spent went to help this group but we can clearly see that the black community is worse off than when the programs started.  Black males in jail are at an all-time high.  Households with one parent have also skyrocketed, leaving children unattended and more prone to the problems of the street, gangs, drug use and teen pregnancy.  In short we could have saved the 15 trillion dollars and if you didn't already know our national debt is approximately 16 trillion, interesting isn't it?

Either the politicians who initiated the programs were enormously inept and continue to be incompetent or they have accomplished their task with great finesse and continue to pass rules and make laws that create a deliberately dependent population.  It can’t be both ways; either they failed at what they’ve tried or their doing it on purpose.  Regardless, the outcome is not good and continues to get worse despite the promises that continue to flow freely from the mealy mouths of mechanistic managers milling amidst morbid mediocrity.  

The American Indian is another great example of political force being used to alter the obvious freedoms of a people in order to control and regulate.  Perhaps the lessons learned from the aboriginal Americans and the displaced Africans are now being fine-tuned and tweaked to perfection in order to enslave us all.

It boggles my limited mind how stupefying our voting patterns have become.  We vote for an obvious crook, but he’s our crook so it’s OK.  We continually vote our incumbents back into office thinking that our politicians are somehow better than the other political offenders in Washington.  As a voter how can we be so blind?  It has to be obvious; the graffiti is all over the place, have we forgotten how to read? Or do we simply refuse to see?

Maybe it’s time for us to take a stand we still have the power, but for how long?

Monday, February 25, 2013

The FAT and Plane of it.

I don’t fly that much, a couple times a year only but when I do have the ancient expectations of the past, you know, nice looking stewardess, not generic stewards (flight attendants), ample leg room, not the torture chair that makes moving impossible and the marginally good food delivered on little trays compartmentalizing each food item, perfectt for those who can’t stand the peas touching their apply sauce.  

Last week I flew from Ontario International to Baltimore with a layover in Salt Lake City.  We almost missed our connection, the gates were miles apart it seemed and the hallways seemed to get narrower with each passing step, maybe that was my claustrophobia kicking in, anyway by the time we arrived at the proper gate the milling crowd looked like a lynch mob ready to attack the weakest link just to satisfy their growing blood lust.  They all knew what was coming and they were trying desperately to justify their growing apprehension with the marvels of technology that still allow us to travel across country in less than 8 hours.

Regardless of the advances of travel and technological options traveling, except perhaps in first class economy class has turned into a dungeon of torture, especially for those above the average height of 5’8” and of average weight, approximately 140 lb.  Females have fewer concerns by virtue of their slighter build and lower heights but even their experiences in current travel have been horrendous.
While standing in the security line in Baltimore a middle ages woman of portly size was complaining at having to remove her shirt to some lecherous security guy hoping for a quick peek, she had even purchased a pass that was supposed to allow her to bypass these exciting events but she was told that on occasion she would be screened like the rest of us cattle, penned in and waiting for our turn to be prodded, poked and humiliated.

A few months ago I was seated in the isle with two empty seats to my left hoping beyond hope that the other two would not arrive, leaving me the unencumbered freedom to actually move a muscle or two when a very large, overly large, (fat) man claimed the seat next to mine.  As he sat down his massive belly freely spilled into my personal area literately pushing me into the arm guard, pinning me helplessly in my seat. My left arm was useless as I struggled to regain some power over the seat I’d paid for, but to no avail I couldn’t budge this massive unmovable force.

I was able to reach up and touch the steward, whoops flight attendants button and after a few minutes and elderly woman with gray hair, excessive wrinkles in her hands and face touched the service button off and asked what I needed. 

“um, well,” I stammered a bit not quite sure how to proceed.  

“um, I paid for an entire seat but it seems as though a third of my seat is being annexed and overrun, would you check to see if there are any other available seats, please?”

The look I got from the flight attendant (steward is insensitive, it actually implies some competence) was unbridled anger and disgust and with a practices shove off she quickly announces, a bit too loud perhaps that the plane was full so please buckle your seat and get ready for takeoff.

“but I don’t have my entire seat…”,I tried to continue as she apologized to the weighty individual next to me who was by the way not only taking my seat but the half of the empty seat, his massive legs spread apart with one large shoe sitting under the seat in front of me and another to his left, his leg area was bare except for his large garment bag. I knew that any further words would land me in big trouble and possibly find myself extricated from the plane, I think we all know that look.

The window seat was eventually taken by a petite woman of indistinguishable age and who even though looked perturbed said nothing except a slight role of her eyes as the behemoth extricated himself  on two occasions to waddle down the length of the plane to relieve himself.

What’s funny is I could swear that the pitch of the plane had to be adjusted as he moved back toward the tale section.  The relief when he was gone was only short lived as the circulation came back with pins and needles  just to have my limbs restricted before the transition back to life was complete.
I’m really trying hard not to complain about conditions on board our domestic fleet of planes nor do I decry those entities from exacting their pound of flesh but when I pay for a seat I expect my seat to be all mine.  When I pay $10 for a sandwich I do expect a little taste and perhaps just a little bit more than stale bread, wispy pieces of meat and wilted lettuce.

I know I don’t have to buy the food I could buy it elsewhere but I cannot afford to buy two seat to ensure one of my own, nor can I afford the leg room I require for a 6’3” frame, but I do expect that service be helpful, the food offered edible and for those with larger frames to have to sit somewhere other than next to me.  Be as fat as you want but be prepared to pay for it.  I suffer being tall, you should suffer being fat…..

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Higgs Boson Found

(This is a re-post of a previous article discussing the possibility of the higgs Boson.  It has sense been reported that scientist at CERN have found that particle creating a fire storm of questions related to the world we call home and the universe eternal above.)

We often live and die by the standards set to regulate our lives.  Education has standards, everyone should be able to read and write and do some fundamental math.  There are standards of society, we call them laws and even though it seems as like the rules of life are suffocating and overshadowing our very freedoms we would be a lawless and chaotic people without them.  We have standards for morality and dating, health and safety, in fact we have standards for just about everything.

Even physicists have standards and have coined a specific theory the “standard model” to help explain their desire for understanding the cosmos.  Not really a standard like those mentioned above but an understanding of accepted findings that have coalesced over hundreds of years to create a more precise acceptance of particle physics.  

Their findings recently of particles that acted very much like the Higgs Boson brings this science even closer to that preeminent standard of understanding and nearer to the ultimate goal of being able to explain the processes of the universe itself.  “The standard model comes to us by way of particle physics, a field filled with physicists dedicated to reducing our complicated universe to its most basic building blocks. It's a challenge we've been tackling for centuries, and we've made a lot of progress. First we discovered atoms, then protons, neutrons and electrons, and finally quarks and leptons. But the universe doesn't only contain matter; it also contains forces that act upon that matter. The standard model has given us more insight into the types of matter and forces than perhaps any other theory we have.”  It is this “other” matter that they suspect is the elusive Higgs Boson.

Because we live with standards we are expected to abide by our understanding of those standards and most of us do, living our lives staying within the posted speeds, not lying or cheating, living by the Golden Rule and instinctively understanding that “We Reap What We Sow", but what of those who are different, those with unexplained difficulties, those still in search of their personal Higgs Boson to explain their purpose of life?  

Science has endeavored to fill in the gaps of theoretical studies for generations, slowly building upon the scholarly work of great minds, bit by bit and line upon line they advance their understanding but a person, an individual has only one life time to understand life with many struggling to cope with associated norms, besieged by their inner demons that pull them away from the principles that give others meaning and purpose.

We may be close to solving the mysteries of the cosmos but the workings of the mind may be generations away.  With the current rash of shootings by Christopher Dorner, the tragedy in Connecticut with the very troubled  Adam Lanza and the recent self-inflicted suicide of a country singer (Mindy McCready) the real questions of why continue to surface. 
If the Higgs Boson particles do exist they may shed some serious illumination on the connections of matter and their relationship to each other and give a more concise understanding of how our universe expands, grows and exists but in the mind of man those connections may be far more complex with each interaction of memory, each firing of a neuron or every single experience received from every sense, including those not readily realized.  Throw into the mix of complexity diet, chemical balances and the issues of nature verses nurture and the resulting mesh of emotional mysteries create the incalculable level of society’s mental illness.  

As society continues to spiral away from the standards that allowed societies to flourish those outside the ever shirking norm will continue to expand, causing more abnormal acts, acting with anomalous and illogical motivations causing the standard bearers to continue to question why, waiting and wondering if there will ever be that important discovery that will help to explain the often chaotic action of so many.  

Will it be through science, religion or simply by improving diet, we can only hope that someone, somewhere discovers that Higgs like boson that helps those with troubled minds the peace and serenity so badly needed.  

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Ethereal Expressions

There are defining events in everyone’s life that do more than simply outline the calendar of existence.  These occasions are rare and often more spiritual than temporal, helping the inner man to listen more closely to the ethereal realm forgoing the five basic senses, forcing us all to rethink our solitary life, helping us to believe in a greater dimension than the corporeal, finite time defined from birth to death.

Experiencing the unexplained, the vision of the unbelievable or the simple feeling of pure love as a granddaughter recognizes your face after months of separation.  The human mind is not enough to grasp the understanding of why, leaving only the possibility that a greater force is at work in creating these overwhelming feelings.  

Like a ghost wisping by, their tell-tale signs of eerie, waif-like impressions coalesce at the corners of our sight, just beyond clarity but just within our consciousness, they appear and then quickly disappear, back into the dream world of uncertainty.   Unexplained visions of beauty, the scary realization of dread or even the clairvoyant understanding of things to come, not yet realized they are all real to some extent, at some level the truth of the unknown is known to all of us.

As a child I lived in a large home of Mediterranean design, it was a Spanish Stucco built around the 1920’s and was originally the center of an orange grove empire.  As a small child the house was an amazing playground and I in precociousness explored and discovered every inch of this great home.  From basement to attic I knew each hiding place, every cubby-hole and spying view and relentlessly pursued my efforts to find that secret passage and the lost chest of treasure that I was sure was hidden deep within its secret walls.

The home breathed and exhaled, especially when the weather changed. It moved and danced as the lights changed and in its walls lived a variety of ghouls and demons fairies and spirits, creatures of all kinds that were nothing more than figments of my overactive imagination or projections of a recently read sci-fi story, but as a child they were real, not frighteningly so but mildly fearful, just enough to keep my eyes wide late at night while watching Bella Lugosi hypnotize a young maiden with his venturous eyes and fanged teeth.  The 10” black and white TV hidden under my covers, flickering its lights in warning, telling me in some psychic manner that my mother was coming but I never listened, I couldn’t listen the show was too good.

Perhaps it was these experiences that softened my skepticism and opened my mind to the possibilities of life beyond life, existence beyond understanding or the feelings far beyond what our mindset can comprehend.  It’s these feelings that we all get from time to time that really do define who we are.  If we try to remember, try not to forget, these memories will return and with each remembering perhaps the visions of what cannot be explained will reveal a momentary glimpse of the uncertain reality that should never be but most assuredly is.

The intuition of a mother saving the life of her child, the feelings of doubt regarding a decision to be made or even the connection of two strangers meeting for the first time, each knowing of a prior relationship with no possibility of past association.  The combined prayers or thoughts for the benefit of a single purpose coalesced for good, the hope of a father worried over the safe return of a child.  These and millions more surround our lives, envelope our souls and encompass the deep recesses of our minds and hearts like a hidden truth an alternate reality, giving us the hope of goodness and the possibility that if we try hard enough, think long enough or pray fervently we will be rewarded with the desires of our hearts.

I have never seen a ghost, but I have seen the evidence of others visions.  I have never been prophesied of great events to come but I have been inspired to choose correctly.  I have never been given a direct apparition but I have had those fleeting, ghostly like feelings that someone was there, someone was watching.

What does it all mean?  It means to me that there is more to life than life itself.  More to life than science or temporal understanding, more than what we can see, hear, touch or even feel, there is an unexplained, often hidden level of existence that we all share, revealed enough to let us all believe, let us all suspect, keeping us searching, hoping and praying for more.  So next time your long dead uncle bill or aunt ruby comes to visit, see what they have to say, it might be what you need to hear…