Tag Archives: science

Nature vs. Prayer vs. Politics

28 Feb

Donald Trump, ignorance, public health

On Wednesday night President Trump told America that Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential primary debate had caused a stock market crash that happened on Monday and Tuesday mornings.

Apparently stock traders had traveled ahead in time, watched a debate that had not yet occurred and then traveled back to their own time in order to freak out in a massive stock trading selloff.

Because what is more disturbing than a world wide outbreak of Corona-virus? Democrats! Of course!

Then the President boasted about how he is preparing America ‘s Corona-virus defense by working with some of the greatest experts in public health in the world…and then he announced that he was putting  Vice President Pence, a man who does not really believe in science, in charge of coordinating the administration’s response to the Corona-virus’ potential (but probably not?) outbreak in the U.S.

Hopefully the Vice President is organizing a national prayer shield to fend off the virus (or the Democrats?) as I write this… Soon we shall see if it is nature or prayer (or politics) that carries the day!

However,  judging by Thursday’s continued and massive stock market selloff and a record 1,191 point drop in the Dow Jones Index, the largest one day drop in history, Wall Street traders have once again ridden their time machine back into the future and already know the outcome.

But what did they see?

More Virus?!

More Democrats?!

Stay tuned!

And let us pray?

Mine Eyes Have Seen My Shadow!

2 Feb

Image

 

In honor of Groundhog Day I went outside and saw my own shadow…and it was shivering!… So I went back inside. This told me that it is still winter! And I’m sure that’s what the poor marmot in Pennsylvania is thinking every time those silly Punxsutawnians take him out of his home and hold him in the light of a freezing day.

We have some strange and weird commemorative days in our calendar and I just had to look this one up.  The 2nd of February was once (and I’m sure still is) a Christian holiday traditionally known as Candlemas. It is also known as the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin, and the Meeting of the Lord.

According to the gospel of Luke, Mary and Joseph took the baby Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem forty days  after his birth to complete Mary’s ritual purification after childbirth, and to perform the redemption of the firstborn, in obedience to the Law of Moses. When they got to the temple the Gospel also records that they encountered Simeon who had been promised by the holy spirit that “he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ”

So once upon a time 40 days after Christmas Simeon saw the baby Jesus… and today, 2 thousand and some odd years later, a groundhog sees his shadow and then Spring comes!…eventually…like it always does.

Really the whole thing was and is about the celebration of light and it’s return. The days are getting longer and that’s always a good thing especially in times when electricity hadn’t been encountered yet. And metaphorically speaking Jesus is also known as the “light of the world” and his birth is often viewed as the shedding of light upon the human soul and condition…So let’s celebrate!

I have no idea why all of these religious icons and ideas have all been replaced by cute animals, parties and jolly old elves etc…but isn’t it curious that many pagan celebrations and festivals which began with the worship of earthly places and deities in the pre-Christian era morphed into religious holidays and the celebration of personal icons during the advent of Christianity and now thousands of years later have morphed again into celebrations of cartoon-like characters, who seemingly have nothing to teach us except that we should have a party and buy things.

Speaking of which, we now celebrate the Superbowl at this same time of year, a truly pagan festival  which commemorates the end of the barbaric football season and the thankful return of the light of baseball, a truly civilized sport of Spring, warm weather and safely returning home.

So…Happy Imbolc, Candlemas, Groundhog Day and Superbowl Sunday!

Some things just never change…even though they always do.

Are You Out There?

23 Jan

 

The scientists asked volunteers to spend an hour recalling as many faces as they could from their private lives, covering old school friends, work colleagues, past partners and colleagues.

In recent studies psychologists have developed the first evidence based estimates of the number of faces the average human knows.

Through a series of recall and recognition tests on volunteers, researchers have discovered that while the human ability to recognize faces varies enormously, people know between 1,000 and 10,000 faces of friends, family members, colleagues and celebrities, with most being able to remember and recognize about 5,000 different faces.

But did you know that this year a startup company called  Clearview AI with its newly developed app has made it possible for a human being to recognize just about everybody they see!

The app works by comparing a photo to a database of more than 3 billion pictures that Clearview AI says it has collected from Facebook, YouTube and other sites. It then serves up matches, along with links to the sites where those photos originally appeared.

The size of the Clearview AI database is gigantic compared to others already in use by law enforcement. For example: The FBI’s database, which taps passport and driver’s license photos, is one of the largest, with over (only!) 641 million images of US citizens.

Clearview AI said in a statement that its technology is intended only for use by law enforcement and security personnel and since its creation more than 600 law enforcement agencies (as yet unnamed) have started using the app in the past year. Law enforcement officers say they’ve already used the app to solve crimes from shoplifting to child sexual exploitation to murder.

Privacy advocates however, warn that the app could return false matches to police and that it could also be used by stalkers and others. They’ve also warned that facial recognition technologies could be used to conduct mass surveillance. (what could possibly go wrong?!)

But the Clearview AI app is even more powerful than that because those who have had a chance to use and analyze it say that The computer code underlying its app includes programming language to pair it with augmented-reality glasses that would enable users  to identify every person they saw. The tool could identify activists at a protest or an attractive stranger on the subway, revealing not just their names but where they lived, what they did and whom they knew.

Remember those x-ray glasses that we used to see for sale in our comic books and hoped that for just $5.95 we’d actually have x-ray vision once they arrived in the mail?

Image result for x-ray glasses from the comic books

Wow! Forget x-ray glasses! In the foreseeable future we’ll be able to walk around with glasses that will be able to tell us who everyone we see… is! However, Clearview AI says that this new technology is not intended for use by the general public…but there are no federal laws against its public use. (what could possibly go wrong?!)

So get ready for a brave new world coming to a city near you. where everybody knows your name and you know theirs and privacy will be a distant memory…except in banks and airports no doubt… where they’ll probably still require 3 forms of photo ID before agreeing that you are who you… and their glasses… say you are!

Climate Mockery II

20 Jan

A view of the hotel and clubhouse with the 18th green to the right at the Trump International Golf Links Doonbeg.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has proposed a six-mile-long barrier of man made islands with retractable gates to protect New York City from flooding at a cost of around 119 billion dollars. The project would take 25 years to complete but a finalized proposal  won’t be presented to Congress until 2022.  Some experts however, fear that with the expected sea rise do to global warming the massive proposal will be too little too late.

But President Trump, upon hearing of the proposal to save the largest and most famous city in his United States tweeted this:

Besides global warming and sea rise is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese government and not something for any US citizens and cities to worry about, right?
Meanwhile… our President has appealed to the Clare County Council in Doonberg, Ireland  to allow his resort and golf club to build a line of two low, concealed seawalls on the landward side of a public beach to prevent storm waters from eroding three holes of his golf course. One wall will be 2,000 feet long and the other 840 feet long.

In his first application in 2016, Mr. Trump cited “global warming and its effects,” including rising sea levels and water erosion, as reasons for the wall,  despite his statements calling global warming and climate change “a total hoax.” He later submitted a second application without the mention of global warming which was approved in late 2017.

Thank goodness I suppose. Otherwise we might think him to be some kind of…

Hypocrite?

I’m also guessing that his wall in Ireland will be a beautiful wall that will be pleasing to the eye and most pleasant for the citizens of Clare County to look at… and not at all like the “foolish, unfriendly and terrible” wall that his US Army Corp of Engineers will plan to build.

So New Yorkers get your “Mops and Buckets” ready!

And Maybe while you’re at it you can also…

Eat Some Cake?

 

 

Climate Mockery

11 Jan

Image result for greenland ice melt

It’s now 2020! And After a summer of record temperatures in the Arctic scientists say Greenland’s ice sheet experienced its biggest melt, losing 197 billion tons of surface ice to the ocean — equivalent to 80 million Olympic swimming pools.

Temperatures are rising all across the planet. Weather patterns are changing. More and more animal species are in danger of extinction. Birds and bugs are disappearing. Our garbage and waste products are piling up all over the world and the oceans are filling with plastic debris from sea to shining sea.

And Australia is on fire…

Meanwhile:

President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign store now sells: Trump-branded plastic straws. And The description of the Trump straws is not subtle about the message the merchandise is meant to send. “Liberal paper straws don’t work. Stand with President Trump and buy your pack of recyclable straws today,” it reads. “Make Straws Great Again.”

A video that went viral last year of a marine biologist helping to remove a plastic straw from a sea turtle’s nose brought attention to the issue of plastic waste and specifically to the use of plastic straws…A recent study estimated that there are about 7.5 million plastic straws strewn on America’s beaches, amid 35 million tons of plastic pollution produced worldwide every year, about a quarter of which is dumped in rivers, streams and the oceans.

As a result many communities and businesses have begun to ban the use of plastic straws altogether. In the US, the west coast cities of Seattle and Malibu, near Los Angeles, have declared war on straws, while statewide bans of the items are being considered in California and Hawaii…and Many countries are even moving to phase out plastics in various forms.

 

But if you are a supporter of President Trump and the Republican Party then for just 15 dollars you can purchase a 10-pack of  red straws with Trump’s name “laser engraved” on them to show that you just don’t care about plastic waste. In fact his supporters so far don’t care to the tune of more than $856,000 in sales… since last July!

The success of the plastic straws – which the campaign says are recyclable (as is most plastic already) – is likely due to the hope of riling liberals, or anyone who is not keen on clogging up landfill, oceans, or the noses of turtles everywhere…with plastic straws.

Besides, President Trump has said that the US has bigger environmental problems than straws… And sadly, he has been addressing those problems by the way, by slashing and/or eliminating environmental regulations and protections on just about everything throughout the United States.

Now I know that we live in a free country and we all have the right to say and do as we please. And if you don’t think that our environment needs any special taking care of or that 8 billion people living on a planet that once had none, cannot in any way shape or form have any impact on how that planet behaves, then you are entitled to your opinion.

But do you really have to mock the rest of us who do? And mock the planet that you live on too? Really?

40% of America is now on board with tossing your soda cups, straws and cheeseburger wrappers out of your speeding car’s window while laughing and cavorting in your front seats as you wave your middle finger in the rear view window at Mother Nature… whenever the feeling moves you?!

Really? Remember when being a Litterbug was a bad thing?! Doesn’t anyone have grandchildren… who they love anymore?

I know that you won’t be around when they will have grown up to be the age that you are now. But if you were, what would you say to them?

“We did it for the straws? Plastic Straws were fun! Plastic Straws were wonderful! Plastic Straws were a necessity!

…You?… Not so much”…?

 

Carefree Highway

26 Apr

Photo of a busy highway/interstate

It’s Earth week and I’ve been repeating/updating some of my Earth Day blogs from previous years and here is one that I wrote 4 years ago…Every now and then when I go on long highway drives I have a revelation. I’m Not sure if they are in any way prescient or prophetic…hopefully not, but here is my revelatory story from a sojourn across the state of New Jersey not too long ago…

As I was driving down the highway at 75 MPH I noticed, while glancing into my rear-view mirror, an angry old man flashing his lights and gesturing for me to get out of the way. I was already traveling at 10 miles per hour more than the legal speed limit but I also noticed that as far as the rest of the traffic was concerned, I was a slacker! So I pulled out of his way only to find myself in front of a young woman talking on her cell phone who was rapidly gaining on me and looked as though she was prepared to go right through me if she had to.

Yikes! I was now pushing 80 MPH and still cars were passing me and weaving in and out of the traffic created by other motorists who thought that traveling in the 70’s was pretty damn fast…

And speaking of the 70’s I remember living and driving in the 1970s when the speed limit of the land was 55 MPH and set there as a way to save gas and oil and curb our need of foreign oil. And we were also concerned about pollution back then (remember those days?)  and the ecology and the ecosystems of our planet, or at least we said we were. We seemed to be trying. And we had hostages in Iran, and OPEC was ruling the day and we needed to change our dependence on oil and fossil fuels…

And now here we are in 2019, having finished 1 long and grueling war in the Middle East, engaged in another and continuing a third that’s already lasted 18 years!! And yet we are still held hostage by the fear of terrorist groups cutting off our oil supplies. So we now bust open every inch of the earth on our own homeland in an endless search for more fossil fuels for us to waste on our highways, in our wars and with our modern devices of leisure and convenience…while the vast majority of us no longer even believe that any of this is doing any great harm to our world. And even if some of us do, it does not seem to affect our participation in the madness of it all.

Traveling at 80 MPH, it would only take us about 3 hours to reach the end of Earth’s atmosphere…all around our planet… about the distance from North Jersey to Washington D.C…that’s it. 3 hours of air and then you would be driving off into space and hoping that your car’s air conditioning would save you while you try to turn around. Of course it wouldn’t because the guy behind you would be flashing his lights and honking his horn while yelling at you to get out of the damn way…plus the air conditioning thing wouldn’t work…but you knew that, right?

But I digress, because I believe my true revelation was that we all now live in a truly material world… and have no intention of going quietly into that good night…Unless some scientists come up with a way to save the planet from ourselves and then get the dumb asses in Congress to believe them, rather than take Big Corporate’s money and continue to commit global suicide, I fear none of the rest of us will care nor take the time to pay any attention to what’s going on around us to see our own end approaching.

Our planet is alone and finite…an island in a sea of endless space, with only about 240 miles of surrounding air for us all to breathe… The Earth is Over 7 billion humans strong, living and breathing and polluting each and every day, with still many, many more polluters to come… And a mere 56 billion polluting land animals are killed every year to sustain us.

So who needs a “Green New Deal” when our president is growing more popular and killing it every day with cow fart jokes at his pep rallies? Sooner or later this planet is going to shake us all off like a bad cold…or not. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see…that is if any of us plan on paying attention at that time…

Mercy, Mercy…Us

23 Apr

Image result for global warming

It’s the day after Earth day, 2019. Earth Day has become an annual event, celebrated every April 22, when events are held to demonstrate the support for environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970, and is now coordinated globally and celebrated in more than 192 countries each year.

In 1971 Marvin Gaye wrote a song entitled Mercy, Mercy Me and subtitled (The Ecology Song) in which he sang about the sad state of affairs that the Earth and the human condition found themselves in and how, on the Earth of 1971, “Things ain’t what they used to be”.

That was 48 years ago and after 50 Earth Day observances in which the world has come together to support and rally for environmental protection across the planet… how is the Earth doing?

In his song Marvin Gaye asked the question: Where did all the blue skies go? Today in China the sun hardly even shines and in its largest cities the morning sunrise is broadcast over giant televisions in efforts to cheer the population as they begin another workday. Smog alerts and air quality announcements are common in all major cities throughout the world and who among us can say that allergies and breathing ailments are not known to exist within ourselves or our families.

Mr. Gaye next lamented the oil slicks that could be found in the oceans of 1971 along with the fish contaminated with mercury. Today, in 2019, oil slicks and oil spills are still a common occurrence and when they occur they occur in amounts greater and greater each time and 49 years later we are still using oil and fossil fuels in increasing, not decreasing, amounts, while new and more imaginative ways for digging, sucking and fracking these substances from the planet’s very core are being pioneered each year and even as debate continues over whether or not we should invade our national parks and coastlines in the search for more and more.

As for fish and the oceans? Temperatures are rising, corral reefs are dieing, the ice caps are melting and fish are disappearing while plastic debris and garbage is replacing plankton within the fish food chain. Mercury continues to be a problem contaminant and tuna, perhaps the world’s most famous fish, are so contaminated with mercury that the FDA recommends no more than 1 can be ingested per person each week. And now many scientists predict that the oceans may be without fish all together by the middle of this century.

Radiation and air, water and ground contamination from nuclear power plants was a worry and concern back in the 70s and the subject of Mercy Mercy Me‘s next refrain, but back then the nuclear industry was promising safer standards and designs and yet years after this song was produced the very real scare of a melt down at 3 Mile Island occurred in 1979 in Pennsylvania. Then a real melt down happened at Chernobyl in the Ukraine in 1986 and then again in Fukashima, Japan in 2011. Radioactive debris from that disaster is still in our oceans today yet many of our politicians are still championing nuclear energy as the panacea for our future…and safer… energy needs.

Mr. Gaye then concluded his song with lyrics that discussed the over population of the world in 1971, a year that would see the greatest percentage of population increase in the world’s history, and the great strain that mankind was putting on the planet Earth with a world population of almost 3 billion 800 million inhabitants… Today, we have more than doubled that number and the Earth now has Over 7 billion 700 million human residents with a total world population of 12 billion predicted by 2050…we should reach 8 billion by 2022.

So, what have we accomplished with our 48 Earth Day celebrations since the debut of Marvin Gaye’s ecology anthem, almost 5 decades ago? Have these Earth Days been rallies to help raise awareness of the Earth’s plight and our complicity in its demise along with the sharing of a process for us to change our ways… or have they simply been a series of going away parties? A way to pay lip service to ourselves and our late, great planet Earth while we continue to pursue our ever more increasingly decadent and deadly ways?

Well, the only thing we can say for sure is that the most prophetic line of Mr. Gaye’s song was it’s first and it still rings true for each and every year that passes into the next…

Things sure ain’t what they used to be!

In fact, they are decidedly worse…In 2017, President Trump disbanded a federal climate panel whose task was to evaluate the National Climate Assessment. In 2018, he created a wildlife protection panel composed mostly of trophy hunters and politically connected donors to hunting groups. And the Trump administration has rewritten the mission statement of Department of the Interior, and has promoted the deregulation of fossil fuels through the Environmental Protection Agency.

But just to brighten your spirits, I will leave you with a bit of 1971 trivia that is perhaps even more prophetic and of greater irony than Marvin Gaye’s Mercy Mercy Me, the Hot Soul Number 1 Single on Billboard’s charts that summer… for what song did it replace at the top of the charts?…And you climate change deniers will just love this…

James Brown’s… Hot Pants!

Hey-uh!                                                                                                                                                      Ooooh! Bring it home!
One more! Hit me! Aaay!
Bring it home! Bring it home!
Oh uh! Bring it on home
Bring it on home…

Hot Pants!

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