States that Discriminate

I love my state — California. We have an Assembly Bill AB 1887 that prohibits state sponsored travel to 8 states that have passed laws discriminating against various classes of people. I think more states should follow suit, to put pressure on these backward, mean state governments.

This list is here to help me remember to not vacation in these states and to minimize travel time if we must travel through them on the way to somewhere else.

• Alabama
• Kansas
• Kentucky
• Mississippi
• North Carolina
• South Dakota
• Tennessee
• Texas

Some day, hopefully, these states will change their laws and support all people.

Noam Chomsky Interviewed at Google

Noam Chomsky appeared at Google in Cambridge May 23, 2017, to speak to an audience of primarily Google staff. The video of the “Google Talks” event was published to YouTube June 5.

This discussion seemed to be more personal than I have heard Chomsky before. Usually Professor Chomsky is “on topic” all the time. The interviewer did a great job, acting like a student sincerely interested in Chomsky’s early life and how he became an activist.

Later in the talk, the word “internet” came up, more and more. Chomsky obviously uses Google products, but only mentioned Google Translate specifically.

He warned about using Artificial Intelligence for more than just data mining. AI should be used for more humanistic endeavors. Understanding ourselves, our species, should be the focus of our prime directive.

I enjoyed it and recommend that you take an hour to listen to a very open discussion: human existence should be our number one priority.

You can watch it by clicking here

or by going to www.youtube.com/watch?v=2C-zWrhFqpM directly.

You can also just search in YouTube.


Solving big problems is easier than solving little problems. – Sergei Brin


Good Books

If you are at all interested in anthropology or the lives of your Neanderthal ancestors, this novel will be an enjoyable read.  This reminds me somewhat of the old series called Clan of the Cave Bears, but it is much easier to read (and shorter). The author Claire Cameron acknowledges help from Yuval Harari and Ian Tattersall.

Perhaps this will be the first of a series.  I hope so.  I know I enjoyed it.  Thought provoking.  It is a “fast read” and holds your attention.  But caution is required, this is either adults only or at least older teens.

The book is about two women, separated by 40,000 years.

Real Patriotism

‘Real Americans’ have always been rebels: a guide for progressive patriotism

by Micah White in The Guardian newspaper March 2017

to see the full article Click Here

Thomas Jefferson, an author of the Declaration of Independence, once wrote in a letter to James Madison, architect of the US constitution and bill of rights, that “a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical”.

Jefferson also advocated only mild punishment for rebellions so as to avoid discouraging them too much. And, in a wakeup call to today’s Americans, Jefferson famously advocated revolutions every two decades, writing in 1787: “God forbid we should be 20 years without a rebellion … What country can preserve its liberties if the rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?”

Abraham Lincoln echoed Jefferson during his inaugural address in 1861 when he said: “This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember, or overthrow it.”

And so too did Ulysses S Grant in 1885 when he declared: “The right of revolution is an inherent one. When people are oppressed by their government, it is a natural right they enjoy to relieve themselves of the oppression if they are strong enough, either by withdrawing from it, or by overthrowing it and substituting a government more acceptable.”

and

Nowadays, the right of revolution is as inalienable as ever, yet it is rarely acknowledged by those in power. Unlike presidents Jefferson, Lincoln and Grant today’s leaders are loathe to concede that if their government is oppressive, then the people have a duty to revolt. Notice how Barack Obama is fond of praising protesters’s right of assembly but stops far short of celebrating the right of revolution.

All this leads to the final epiphany that we, the people, have a patriotic duty to defend our country whenever our governments conflicts with a higher, democratic ideal.


Human Existence Is in Peril

Whitney Robson Harris (August 12, 1912 – April 21, 2010) was an American attorney, and one of the last surviving prosecutors from the Nuremberg Trials. He wrote the following piece in 2006 at the age of 94.

Given the issues that Donald Trump has brought to our country and our world, I think it is important that we remember that God isn’t going to come along and save us from him, after the fact. We are going to have to solve the Donald Trump issues ourselves. As my Dad used to say: “Get up and do it yourself.” We can’t wait, get involved now. Don’t wait until it is too late.

This paper has always impressed me. So I am sharing it now with a spirit of hope. Be sure to read the finale.


Human Existence Is in Peril — by Whitney R. Harris — June 2006

If we attempt to comprehend this vast universe with its millions of fiery stars and frightening dark holes, and say for comfort that only God could have created it, and therefore, there is a God, we default in our reasoning, for we are unable to answer the further question, “who created the God who created the universe?”

We do know that we live on Earth, spun off from the sun and, therefore, on a planet with a beginning. Moreover, we know that, once a fiery ball, the Earth has cooled and gained life upon its surface — static, nonthinking plants and mobile, thinking animals. We do not know whence came the first manifestation of that life — the tiniest amoeba — capable of discernible thought and movement. To ignite the spark of life requires the hand of God. Never mind the universe. Here on Earth, we find the quintessential role of God.

Hence, I believe first, that God exists.

Until this time at least, man has evolved far beyond any other animals on Earth in comprehension and intelligence. The carnivores exceed his strength on land; the amphibians surpass his power at sea. But man has the gift of reason, which enables him to dominate life on Earth — and the chance to survive as long as the solar system remains hospitable to him. That chance, alas, is not eternal.

And, thus, I believe human life is finite.

Within these limits of survivability man holds his destiny in his own hands. He has yet to prove his worthiness. In the last century, he destroyed more of his own kind in war and in merciless murder than in any other time in history. He is fated to acquire the capability of obliterating himself and all other life upon this planet. And he seems unable to appreciate the consequences of that power. The life that God gave to him may be by him destroyed.

And so, I believe human existence is in peril.

The challenge to man is to establish and to maintain the foundations of peace and humanity upon the Earth for the centuries to come that God has allotted him to live upon this planet. He must learn to end war and protect life, to seek justice and find mercy, to help others and embrace compassion. Each man must respect every other man and honor the God who made this incredible mystery of human life a reality.

I believe there is God,
I believe God is merciful and just,
But if man desires to destroy himself
I believe God will not save him.


American Values by Larry Kirby

Larry Kirby, a WWII veteran, aged 91 years, was on NPR’s OnPoint with Tom Ashbrook program on May 26, 2016. I luckily was able to hear that program and heard Mr. Kirby give an eloquent talk on American values and how things have changed, in his eyes, since WWII. It was the most meaningful essay I have heard in my lifetime. Mr. Kirby has shown the spotlight on what ails our society in a most honest way. I agree with and applaud Mr. Kirby’s address. I recommend you take about 6 minutes and listen to Larry Kirby’s speech yourself.

You can see the NPR article with pictures at OnpointRadio.

You can read the full essay at Foreign Policy.

Perhaps the audio will get through the WordPress filters here. Click this link, then click the red box in the next screen to make it play.

//embed.wbur.org/player/onpoint/2016/05/26/wwii-vet-larry-kirby

Click here to get your own copy of the MP3 file from my Dropbox file. Please bypass the Dropbox sign-in advert.


“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.” – Charles Darwin.

“Be yourself; everybody else is already taken.” – anonymous


Happiness Genes Discovered

According to a publication in the Journal Nature Genetics, for the first time in history, researchers have isolated the parts of the human genome that could explain the differences in how humans experience happiness.

Now, before we all run out to get our genes changed via CRISPR, realize these genes do not make you happy. And in fact, epigenetics can influence how genes are expressed. The researchers found three genetic variants for happiness, two variants that can account for differences in symptoms of depression, and eleven locations on the human genome that could account for varying degrees of neuroticism. The genetic variants for happiness are mainly expressed in the central nervous system and the adrenal glands and pancreatic system.

I have not seen the full article yet, it is behind a pay firewall. So be leery of what I say next. A previous study using data from the World Values Survey in 2014 found a correlation between the allele value “A” in the “FAAH” gene rs324420. Nations with the highest prevalence of the “A” allele were also those who perceived themselves happiest.

So just for fun, I decided to look up values for this allele in 23andme data for some of my family members. Here are the results:

  • AA – Sandra
  • AC – Courtney, Debra, Jamie
  • CC – Jim, Rachel

What fun!  I better watch what I eat!   I’m looking forward to finding a copy of the full study to see what the 16 real alleles are.   Meanwhile, Rachel and I had better practice smiling! 🙂  BTW, this is a real tongue in cheek posting.  Nothing said herein should be taken seriously.  My biorhythms are just running high today.

zoozimp2_251_243

RIP San Clemente Dam

Dam3

The San Clemente Dam in Monterey County, California has been removed, aka destroyed. It was built in 1921 and was intended to serve the Monterey Peninsula. I am one of the folks around town that are very unhappy with what happened to the dam. But it is done and gone. This post is intended to just be a simple record of passing.

The reasons for the removal of the dam are complex and politically charged. The main excuses given were that sediment had built up and was dangerous, the dam was near a fault line, and steelhead trout and red-legged frogs were endangered.

The California American Water company has been in charge of the dam and did nothing to remove the sediment.

All I can say is that I hope someone actually counts the trout and frogs now that the dam is gone. After 92 years, I presume the fish and frogs have been pining away, waiting for this day. The humans left behind on the Monterey Peninsula have to try and find water by building a very expensive and experimental desalination plant.

Cal Am is a subsidiary of American Water Works Company, Inc. NYSE: AWK, which is headquartered in Voorhees, New Jersey. As a Utility company goes, it might be a good investment for the long haul. But I’m not recommending it. As you can tell, I voted to convert to public ownership of the water system in Monterey, but that initiative failed.

Maybe I’ll go out to dinner tonight and eat trout or frog legs. Presumably they will be discounted.

“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” by J.K.Rowling

Plastic Problems

We all know that plastics have become a major problem for the birds in the air and the fishes in the sea.  Plastics never deteriorate and tend to be colorful and attractive.  There are many sites around the planet where you can find lots more information about the negative aspects of plastics.  Following are my personal plastic pet peeves. 4 ps 🙂

A few years ago, I was walking on the Coast Guard Pier in Monterey and I saw a sea gull all tangled in some plastic wrapping, string-like stuff, possibly fishing line or soft-drink container material.  The bird could not get out of the stuff, it was behind a locked fence, and every time I tried to get close, it moved away.  There was nothing I could do, except feel sick.

I vowed to always cut any circles I find in plastics I use, to always pickup any loose fishing line I run into, and to never forget that image.

Time marches on.  One day two of my grand-daughters were visiting and we went out to lunch.  The waiter brought straws.  They had a fit, and said “No straws please”.  They reminded me that we only use straws once and then they get thrown away.  Most straws produced these days are plastic!  The lesson I learned from them is that things we use only one time should not be made of plastic!  And if they are, we should refuse to use them.  Here are a few of those items.


If the straws are made of paper, fine, use them. If made of plastic, speak up and say no.

plastic_straws


I love Starbucks coffee. But those damned stoppers are really just a one-time use, live-forever, kind of thing. What is even worse, if you get a coffee at the drive up window and the stopper is already in and you tell them to remove it, they will toss it in the garbage can! Please say “No stopper” when you order.

plastic_stopper


Milk cartons have two types of opening: all carton, or with a plastic opener. Guess what — the plastic opener has a little pull-tab that has a ring on it. Small birds can get caught in that ring! Cut the thing.

plastic_milk1
plastic_milk22


The other day, I bought a jar of relish. I wasn’t paying attention and grabbed the cheapest item on the shelf. When I got home, I realized the jar was made of plastic. Damn. I made a mental note to always buy the glass jars! They might cost a bit more, but so what. The savings just isn’t worth the potential harm the plastic jar will cause.

plastic_jar


Climate Change and Human Nature

(Sunday morning and the moon is New and I can’t sleep)

It’s always confused me why climate change is difficult for myself and others to really come to grips with, why we find it hard to change our living style in the face of reality. (Yes, the big question.)

A post at the blog Savage Minds this morning pointed me to an article by a writer named Lisa Bennett who recently wrote an article for the blog Grist in which she listed “10 things you want to know about human nature if you’re fighting climate change“. Wow, that title seemed to really imply it had the answers that I too was looking for, so I had to go read the full article (not just the extraction in Savage Minds). You can find the full article too by clicking here.

You really need to read what Lisa Bennett wrote to really understand the depth behind her 10 items. I have listed them here as teasers for you to follow.

1. We are overly optimistic about the future — our future, that is.
2. We can be blasé about the most important issues in the world because the global perspective is way beyond ordinary human scale.
3. We are wired to refute imperatives.
4. We are vulnerable to peer pressure, especially about things that confuse us.
5. We shy away from topics that remind us of our mortality but can be motivated to take action on behalf of beings more vulnerable than us.
6. We perceive and respond to risks only when we feel them.
7. We are motivated more by hope than fear, at least in matters of social change.
8. We are more likely to take action when we know precisely what we can influence.
9. We need to believe our actions will make a difference.
10. We will continue to behave the same way we always have — even after we know it is problematic — until there is a realistic alternative.

Again, read the full article: Lisa Bennett in Grist. It is worth our time.

Trophy Hunting

A dentist was recently in the news for killing Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe. The problem is that this dentist isn’t the first and probably won’t be the last. Trophy killing seems to be in our nature.

A study published in Science 21 August 2015 titled “The unique ecology of human predators” suggest that

humans function as an unsustainable “super predator”, which – unless additionally constrained by managers – will continue to alter ecological and evolutionary processes globally.

We are the only known predator to regularly kill the largest of our prey, which, in the long run, is not sustainable. The largest are the breeding population — kill the parents and you kill their future offspring.

As Science Insights said about this study:

There are three key insights. First, the hunting of large prey is deeply embedded in our identity and remains a powerful ecological and evolutionary force. Second, the ability to target mostly adult individuals across marine and terrestrial prey groups makes us unique among all other predators. And third, we have the unusual ability to analyze and consciously adjust our behavior to minimize deleterious consequences. This final point, I believe, will prove critical for our continued coexistence with viable wildlife population on land and in the sea.

Do us all a favor. If you have a need to hunt, just hunt for food, and target only juveniles. Let the “big buck” go so he can continue to generate the species. No more trophies, no more bodies mounted on the walls. Our cave-man days should be in the past.

Write me a movie 3

My wife reads a lot. She is currently on a “time travel” kick. I like to have her tell me about these stories since I too get a kick out of the potential paradoxes involved. I used to read lots of sci-fi but in those days, there was lots of politics involved too.

I have decided that the idea of meeting oneself in the past or future is not far-fetched after all. The accepted opinions say that you can’t have the same thing in the same place at the same time. But hey, that is a religious view, a philosophical opinion. Physically, our cells are always dying and being replaced by new ones. Therefore, at the cellular level, this current me only exists at one time. If a new me shows up, popping in from the future, we could converse quite easily, as person to person. If you think you have a soul that is “the real me” that exists as-is throughout time and beyond time, and that is the cause of the paradox — well suffice it to say that I don’t agree with you. The soul isn’t governed by the laws of physics.
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The Papal Environmental Encyclical Is Online

On Care For Our Common Home

Today Pope Francis officially released his Encyclical that is concerned with the environment and how we are not taking care of the earth as requested.  The point of this post is to help you find a copy, not to argue the points.  Yes, I agree with most of what he has said, but we’ll leave that for another day.

All of the encyclicals are online.  They can be found here: www.papalencyclicals.net

This unique paper, I call it the “warning encyclical” can be located directly by clicking here

I pulled a PDF copy of the 184 page document from the above site (by clicking on the small PDF icon in the first page of the document) and emailed it to myself, and then opened it in my iPad which then allowed me to save it to my iBooks on the iPad so I can read it fully at my leisure. I also saved a copy here to make it easier for you to get a copy. Download the PDF by clicking here

Of course, I wouldn’t be me without tossing out a few zingers from the document:

43. Human beings too are creatures of this world, enjoying a right to life and happiness, and endowed with unique dignity. So we cannot fail to consider the effects on people’s lives of environmental deterioration, current models of development and the throwaway culture.

and

53. These situations have caused sister earth, along with all the abandoned of our world, to cry out, pleading that we take another course. Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years. Yet we are called to be instruments of God our Father, so that our planet might be what he desired when he created it and correspond with his plan for peace, beauty and fullness. The problem is that we still lack the culture needed to confront this crisis. We lack leadership capable of striking out on new paths and meeting the needs of the present with concern for all and without prejudice towards coming generations. The establishment of a legal framework which can set clear boundaries and ensure the protection of ecosystems has become indispensable; otherwise, the new power structures based on the techno-economic paradigm may overwhelm not only our politics but also freedom and justice.

Before you let the political pundits and the fossil fuel industry tell you what you should think about it, why not give it a chance and read it for yourself. A quick scan won’t hurt, and it might help us all.

Write me a movie 2

Sometimes I dream up ideas for stories, books or movies.  Generally they get told to the unlucky grand-kids who happened to be riding in the back seat on a long drive.  No one ever writes them down, of course, and they get forgotten.  I’ve never had the patience to actually write a full blown story.  In this case, I wrote this on my iPad just a few months ago.  Maybe someone else can “make me a movie”.

Marsha was skeptical when she first had the idea about the power of “imagination people”.  In her Comparative Literature class in University, they had talked about how the ideas in science fiction books of the past seemed to be coming true in the present.  But that was just discussion for grades sake, trying to see how many author’s names students could remember.
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Megadrought?

These quotes below are from an article found at Science Advances – 01 Feb 2015, a new journal of the AAAS American Association for the Advancement of Science.

You can also listen to a talk given on NPR’s Science Friday 13 Feb 2015 about this study, with Jason Smerdon, one of the authors. Click here => Science Friday – 13 Feb 2015

There is ≥80% chance of a multidecadal drought during 2050–2099 in the Central Plains and in the Southwest United States. … Ultimately, the consistency of our results suggests an exceptionally high risk of a megadrought occurring over the Central Plains and Southwest regions during the late 21st century.

We have demonstrated that the mean state of drought in the late 21st century over the Central Plains and Southwest will likely exceed even the most severe megadrought periods of the Medieval era in both high and moderate future emissions scenarios, representing an unprecedented fundamental climate shift with respect to the last millennium.

Our results point to a remarkably drier future that falls far outside the contemporary experience of natural and human systems in Western North America, conditions that may present a substantial challenge to adaptation. ….. And, perhaps most importantly for adaptation, recent years have witnessed the widespread depletion of nonrenewable groundwater reservoirs, resources that have allowed people to mitigate the impacts of naturally occurring droughts. In some cases, these losses have even exceeded the capacity of Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the two major surface reservoirs in the region. Combined with the likelihood of a much drier future and increased demand, the loss of groundwater and higher temperatures will likely exacerbate the impacts of future droughts, presenting a major adaptation challenge for managing ecological and anthropogenic water needs in the region.

Do listen to the NPR podcast linked above. It isn’t as technical as reading the article.

Huge water shortages are coming. The probability of a huge megadrought goes above 80%! Should we move? These are personal questions. On-the-ground stake holders have serious question to ask. It is going to become more expensive to live in California! The rains of the AT&T Pro AM may indeed be a thing of the past.

The problem with moving away from these areas is that, as more and more of these studies come out, people all around us will begin to move. This drought is going to be with us no matter what we do. Planning where to move that will give one a “good life” will become more and more difficult. Northern California or perhaps SW Canada is looking more and more inviting! We don’t need to rush, sometime in the next 15 years would be good. We just need to be ahead of the collapsing land values. 🙂

Start Research On Climate Engineering

From Nature Magazine – 5 Feb 2015

Climate engineering — cooling Earth intentionally by modifying its radiation balance — worries many people. We know little about the effectiveness of these technologies or their side effects. The unintended consequences could be profound.

As the consequences of climate change become starker, public calls for interventions may grow. Governments or companies may try climate engineering to reduce the severe impacts predicted by 2050.

The article recommends that government agencies and scientists should begin climate-engineering research now.  You can read the full article through the above link. The line that woke me up is “public calls for interventions may grow.”  My grandkids will be part of the “public” in 2050.

I finally see how this climate change issue may play out.  The fossil fuels lobbies will continue to use mass mind control to obfuscate the issues (disinformation) until the weather itself convinces the populace that something must be done.  It will be too late to stop major catastrophes, and we will want to “engineer” our way out of the mess.  Finally, the public calls for interventions will grow.  

We need to help our Congress understand that we should act now so we don’t have to wait for the above scenario to happen.


Fossil fuels lobby” is the umbrella term used to name the paid representatives of large fossil fuel (oil, gas, coal) and electric utilities corporations who attempt to influence governmental policy. So-called Big Oil companies such as ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Total S.A., Koch Industries, Chevron Corporation, and ConocoPhillips are amongst the largest corporations associated with the energy lobby. General Electric, Southern Co., First Energy, and the Edison Electric Institute are among the influential electric utilities corporations. Both electric companies and big oil and gas companies are consistently among the ten highest-spending industrial lobbyists.