canstockphoto2602484Depending on your view point climate change is either a real problem we have to do something about now or you believe this is a bunch of trumped up alarmism flooding the media. The subject has been a hot bed of debate back and forth for quite some time.

Al Gore touted the issue and made a major stride in getting the message out back in 2006 with the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” but the issue has been on the science radar for much longer. In the 1800’s  scientists were theorizing and investigating changing climates and the subsequent effects on the world. In the 1820’s Joseph Fourier found that the atmosphere was what kept the planet warm and thus postulated what is now known as the greenhouse effect. Several scientists would take this further in the decades to come. A good timeline can be found here. Science has been observing, measuring, and reporting on climate change for centuries and yet we as a species have done very little in the way of accepting, at least in part, that we have affected changes on the natural order of things on our planet. For a bit of reading, here is an IPCC report from 1990, NASA

I would think any reasonable person can understand and accept that we live on a huge interdependent biosphere. We interact with other things around us all the time and have an effect on those things, good, bad, or indifferent, all the time. So why is it so hard for some to accept that we might have had a negative impact on the climate of our planet ?

We are still spending a lot of time going back and forth and much of the debate, in the media view, has been either flat out denial or “we are beyond saving”. We have politicians overseeing governing bodies of science and study stripping funding and shooting down any attempt at promoting additional research (Jim Inhofe,  Ted Cruze, Todd Akin…) . We have politicians in some states banning the mere utterance of the words “climate change” . And we have various players on the religious right claiming there is no way god would let this happen and that man is not powerful enough to damage the planet this way (queue Jim Inhofe). ( fun page of quotes here) People are spending money on debunking scientific facts, ad campaigns, and investigations into who was bought off by whom for which study. Meanwhile, the problem is still here.

I am truly failing to grasp why this is so hard to get a grip on. Most people who made it through basic science in grade school can look at scientific discovery for the last 200 years and piece together that things have indeed changed and there are some rather specific causes with measurable results. We could quibble endlessly about the details but the fundamental point is that the planet we inhabit is going through changes and we have had an impact in the way those are playing out and it is not heading in a good direction. I’ll re-iterate – the blue ball we as a species exist on is having problems, more so than had we not contributed, and it is serious.

I’m not trying to be alarmist about it all but if you’re in your house and it is burning, do you take a time out and  argue with your neighbor about the height of the flames, or what will or won’t burn depending on where it is in your house, or how long it will burn and if it will spread to his house ? No. Do you spend time debating about how it started or where ? No. Do you stand there looking at your coffee table in flames and flat out deny that it is on fire ? No. Do you stop and pray to god for help and wait for him to come down and rescue you? No. You get out and call the Fire Department to put it out.

Our problem is that we have nowhere else to go, though NASA is trying, there is nobody to call, and thus far praying hasn’t stopped anything. We are here for the foreseeable future so…shouldn’t we be doing everything we can to make sure we have a decent place to exist ?

Doesn’t it make more sense to move to green energy? Let’s use sources and processes that don’t put “potentially” hazardous gases, chemicals, and pollutants into our environment. Again, we could debate till we are dead about how much can the planet handle, is it really having an effect, etc. but my question is why find out, if there is an alternative that won’t pose a problem.. ? A bullet “might” kill me but I’m not going to shoot myself to see if it does. Are we really “those” people that will spend more time trying to find out how to hold the gun a special way, aim the gun and pull the trigger in just such a way that there is a good chance we might survive, or design a smarter gun so that if you do pull the trigger… ? Really? Does anybody ever consider not picking up the gun at all.. ? I don’t know about you but I could do just fine without knowing whether or not I might survive getting shot, when I do know I will for sure if I don’t play with the gun at all.

The planet sustains us in every way. If it dies, we die, fairly simple. Obviously things are not quite right and could be much better so why not do something that is good for the planet, and us.

UCSUSA

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DSIRE

One Way Sign creates Cross Shadow - Vertical Let me define the word zealotry: noun- fanatical and uncompromising pursuit of religious, political, or other ideals; fanaticism. Excessive zeal.

Clearly the perception of what could be defined as zealotry is open and a fluid dynamic since this perception can influence how the definition is applied. Some would say terrorists groups like ISIS are an example. ISIS and the like would say it is the west/America, or Christians. Jews might say Palestinians and vice versa.  Christians might say non-Christians. Every side claims beyond doubt they are in the right and anyone opposed is going to hell, an infidel, is damned, or should die. Every side is constantly on the war path and beating the drum of fire and brim stone; or some other version of burning /hell related torture. Your salvation can be only be gained by converting to our savior and prostrating yourself before our god and asking for forgiveness from whomever that savior/god may be.

So where does that leave us ?

This fighting has been going on for thousands of years so far ( or 6000 for you die hard non-evolutionary folk). Guess what ? Nobody has won yet. Not a single one. No religion has finally been hoisted above all others as the great and ultimate truth. No one group or people has been exalted to the highest of high and held out to be better than any other. No divine nanny nanny boo boo uttered as of yet. Quite frustrating for all I am sure. I wonder why ? What’s the big wait all about? Why hasn’t “god” finally just set the record straight and put an end to all of the blustering ?  (Hold on to your “end times are here”,”judgement day will see us risen above all” thoughts for a moment).

Maybe, just maybe, it is because “god” has nothing to do with any of it. I know, I know, outlandish concept and I am surely going to burn in someones hell for even thinking this but what if? What if god; the omnipotent creator of all things known and unknown, has nothing to do with our religious zealotry..?

Here is a perspective to think about. What is god? According to most religions- A being/entity/force that is supposedly responsible for creating existence as we know it, all things, everything. Let’s contemplate “existence” for a moment – scientists have estimated (counted with reasonably good data to work with) that our observable universe contains at least one hundred billion galaxies. That is just observable and this is limited by our current technology – still a huge number- a HUNDRED BILLION. This “god” blinked over one hundred billion galaxies into existence. Think about that for a moment and how completely gigantic that actually is.

Now let’s consider us, people, we humans. Our world population is at around seven billion. Seven billion singularly unique individuals. Seven billion completely different human beings on one tiny blue marble floating in a sea of over one hundred billion galaxies that contain countless other marbles. Out of all that; multitudes of multitudes, this being is going to pick one tiny marble out, and on that tiny marble this being is going to single out one group of the even tinier beings living on that marble and make them the supreme right out of everything; the others be damned.

Yes, yes, I hear you..”god works in mysterious ways”. But seriously? Out of all that, your particular belief system is right, above all the others..? And with this “divine right” you are entitled to lash out against other groups, legislate your morality, judge and condemn, and at times bring death and destruction to other people because “god” said your group is best..? This is the premise from which you operate ?

This is the type of thinking and belief that will continue our wars, continue our killing in the name of “god”, and never allow a peace on our tiny blue marble. This is the type of thinking that justifies atrocities across the expanse of our little blue marble and throughout the whole of human existence.

Has anybody ever considered that religion is a very personal path ? That you and you alone embark on your journey toward “god”? That it is something internal to and for you? It is great to find others in your community who share that same choice. Outstanding. By all means, get together and enjoy sharing the knowledge that you are not alone on that personal journey. If you find something out in the world that goes against your personal belief then by all means, do not choose it, do not partake in it, do not let it into your internal personal space. That is your right and your choice. Your personal, internal journey shouldn’t go beyond that. To bad we can’t seem to keep our own choices our own.

Historically every religion on the globe has had its shining moment of crazy. They all step back and point out the atrocities other religions commit yet ignoring their own blood stained history. Every religion on the globe has murdered, maimed, schemed, raped, pillaged and generally acted in heinous fashion at some point, if not at several points in history in the name of “god”. Every. Single. One. Some more than others. Some to this day.
Is murder only ok if it is in the name of your god ? Is maiming, raping, and pillaging another religions people ok as long as it is your religions people doing it in the name of your god ?

I could be wrong but I don’t think that is what “god” had in mind for our tiny infinitesimally small blue marble in the middle of the huge gigantic expanse of everything.

Republican-and-Democratic-mascotsSince the advent of the “two” party democratic system, the predominant parties have been at odds with each other. Political mudslinging has been a staple in the American political machine since the late 1700’s and hasn’t changed in over 200 years. A sad fact if you think about it.  It has been a common place practice to attack the character of your opponent in most political races. If you can’t beat them flat out on issues of policy and doing the job, start tearing them down on a personal level. And we as Americans have accepted this, even fed into it. The truly disappointing fact is that it works rather well.  Divide and concur has been a long standing rule in any power seeking to undermine and control the people it seeks to subdue (govern), why do we allow it to continue ?

In those 200 years we claim to have evolved and developed a better system compared to anything else out there. So why do we have two political parties that go after each other like school children on the playground?  Seriously, this is the best we can do? This is the better system? If we are above and beyond the rest then why do we still employ mudslinging, character assassination, base emotional manipulation, and divide and concur methods in our governmental/political practices?  I know many will say we have done an awesome job and we have the best country in the world. I would have to answer that retort with a question – do we really ? Can you look at our political system and confidently say that it gets the job done in an efficient, civic minded way ? Are we as a people truly being served by this process and how it works today ?

I don’t think I have seen an issue  handled or broached without some sort of manipulated partisan twist thrown in to garner allegiance to one party or the other in decades. The constant onslaught of “the dem’s are out to hurt women”, “repubs hate the poor, working class”. etc., is mind boggling. If you stand back far enough can you say with any certainty either party has our best interests at heart ? Is this the best example of government for the people, by the people ?

All the infighting and partisan line drawing has netted us what up to this point in time ? Dysfunction. Disarray. Discontent. And a growing apathy with the status quo of our government.

To be frank I could care less about many of the character flaws that are constantly dug up. I think more and more of the people want folks in office who are going to do the job they set out to do and were elected to do.  And that is exactly what it is, a job. We as tax payers are their employers. They were put in the position for fundamentally two reasons – they wanted the job and we hired them.

At some point it has to become irrelevant what party they affiliate with and more about if they are the people who are going to do the job right, and actually get it done like they were hired to do. In any other job on the planet they would get fired out right for not doing the job they were hired for. Yes, we could vote them out at the next election but they’re in the job now and will be for a while and they aren’t cutting it. And while they’re not cutting it, they’re drumming up all this drama, all this puffery, all this distraction to keep our eyes on the party line, tied up in the conflict, and diverted away from the real issue – they aren’t doing the job.

We can’t totally blame them, we allow it to continue and we feed it. Billions of dollars of our money gets spent on this grandstanding and crap flinging. Every time I see a politician “stumping” that’s what I picture, a pissed off monkey shrieking and flinging poo at everyone. And we as other monkeys join the fray, jumping and flinging more poo. This is our evolved, better than everyone else system ? This is the result of the two party system, our two party system.

How can we as evolved monkeys, not interested in flinging poo spend our time and money more wisely? Do we allow the partisan back and forth to continue to stall government and waste billions of our hard earned dollars? This isn’t the Presidents fault. This isn’t the Democrats fault. This isn’t the Republicans fault. It is our fault for letting it continue and feeding into it. It is our fault for teaching them that this is the way to get through to us as a people. We all may not agree on everything, it is human nature (we are humans right?) to disagree. Why let them continue to fuel the fight where there isn’t any? Why continue to let them divide us and create conflict where there probably isn’t? Why allow them to stir us up on issues that aren’t theirs to get involved with to begin with?  Why continue to let them do a crap job and get away with it, and all the while lie, cheat, steal, and manipulate us, the people, so we ignore the truth and don’t hold them accountable?

This isn’t grade school. This isn’t a popularity contest. This is a job and they should be interviewed accordingly. I may not like you as a person but if you are qualified to do the job and can do it well, so be it. Why not approach government the same way?

 

iStock_000000484993XSmallWith Fukushima quite literally hot on everyone’s radar, nuclear power is getting a lot of attention. It’s fascinating how a major disaster has to happen before people seriously consider the ramifications of any technology. As a global species we have had a few nuclear “accidents” over the last several decades. There have been some that weren’t; by popular definition, horrible and then there were “disasters” like Chernobyl in 1986. (list here)

Chernobyl is a good example of how this technology can render a huge amount of our world effectively unusable for decades. To this day there is an exclusion zone covering 1,660 square miles. The clean up is still ongoing and the cement cap used to bury reactor #4 is eroding. While this disaster was human error, Fukushima was not. Either way, the resultant damage is deadly and long lasting.

 

So why do we continue to use this technology ? I’ve read several arguments from supporters on how safe it is and how cheap it is compared to fossil fuels, etc. I don’t think those financials include the decades of after-effects and impact to heath. And how safe can something that wipes out our world in the blink of an eye be? I can see how an immediate ROI looks great but if one thing happens all the benefit is lost. I still have to ask why.

With all the great minds we have constantly working on viable solutions to our ever growing energy needs, can’t they come up with something that won’t destroy us and the world we live in ?
There really isn’t anything better ? Solar, wind? Something ? It’s almost like we keep building new things to catch the road runner, and we all know how that turns out.

I implore the great minds to stop spinning cycles on nuclear tech and instead push beyond the known and find a solution that will truly benefit us all without killing us when it blows up, either by our hand or mother natures.

Day Dreaming at Work

I’m sure you’ve read blog’s, news reports, and other media blasts on the poor in america. Some say it’s the “habits” of the poor. Many politicians firmly believe the US government has created a welfare state that has made the poor complacent and content to suck the welfare teat.

Rather than go opinion vs opinion, lets work with facts. I’d like to try basic math and see what we can come up with.

We will have a worker. I’d like to strip our “worker” down to the base, average, run-of-the-mill joe/jane. No rich parents, inheritance, lottery wind-fall, etc. Just Joe Schmoe/Jane Doe plain old human being, high school education. Since this is a perfect world, our worker will also start out with all the basic furnishings. A bed, couch, TV/Radio, pots, pans, silverware, cups, table , chair, lamp.  What do you think..microwave ? Ok, a microwave. We can’t have our worker living in the dark ages. A basic wardrobe with some work acceptable elements.  Sounds like all the modern day creature comforts are accounted for.

Now the job. The minimum wage is $7.25/hr (source here) so we will assume that as a base number going forward. I’ll also say that the average worker puts in at least 40 hours a week, single, no children.

$7.25 x 40=$290

Let’s use a standard two week pay period, and average two pay periods per month. 52 weeks comes to  $15,080 yearly, $1,256 monthly, taxes are 15% -$188, monthly take home is $1,072- you can work that one out on your own.

Gross income is : $1160

Minus taxes (10% source here) -$116

Monthly take home: $928

Many full time workers are eligible for some type of health care from their employers (let’s not consider ACA for the moment) but we’ll leave that out and see how far we get with $928 a month.

Since our worker has all the basic stuff, we’ll need a place to put it. A cheap 1 bedroom efficiency can vary in price depending on where you live in the U.S. but is usually in the $300-$500 range, so we can split the difference at $400. Given acceptable trends in most urban living areas in major cities, the closer in you are, the more you pay. This cheap place isn’t real close and possibly just outside of public transportation lines.

$928

– $400 monthly rent

= $528

Utilities ? We want our worker to have all the frills so- electrical, water, gas, and a land line with local calling only. And in our perfect little world there are no deposits up front, no credit checks.

$528

-$65 electrical ( I have never had or seen a bill this low but it could happen)
-$50 water (usually includes waste disposal)
-$40 gas
-$20 phone

=$353

Our worker does not enjoy a cushy 8-5 work day like you and I, but rather shift work with a changing schedule which renders use of public transportation unlikely much of the time. It’s too far to walk and since the other people around also work or do not have transportation themselves we will need a reliable way to get to work. How about we give them a crap car that a shady friend of a friend sold them for a few hundred as is. (we loaned them the car money at no interest with no time limit on payback)

Most states require at minimum having liability insurance. Lucky us!! We found Billy Bob’s “We got ya covered” insurance plan!! Let’s give our  worker a break and let them have a clean driving record.

$353

-$30 monthly car insurance (your rates may vary, blah blah, read the fine print)

=$323

This mean machine certainly isn’t good on gas and our worker has to get where they are going and not so lucky to live in an area where everything they might ever need is located within a 5 mile radius of home. A driving we will go ….12 miles to the gallon, 10 gallon tank. They drive a bare minimum but have to fill up about 2 times a month; joy rides have to wait for the Christmas bonus. (gas prices may vary)

$323

– $80 gas for car

$243

A worker has to eat but no fancy lunches for our little friend. It’s a daily sack lunch. We want them to at least get some of the basic food groups so an apple, a lunch meat sandwich w/cheese, a juice like drink, a pickle, and maybe a cookie or two. One meal a day certainly isn’t going to give our worker bee enough energy so we’ll need some breakfast. Two eggs, toast with jelly, milk/juice, coffee on occasion. And dinner- Ramen noodles, a burger, misc. veggies, rice, soup. Being presentable and clean is also part of the job so miscellaneous toiletries are on our shopping list as well. As much as our worker wants to eat the all natural, organic food, and use the chemical free soaps, shampoos, etc., it just isn’t in the budget. Thank god for no-name or store brand items. Those are just as good right ?

$243

-$150 a month groceries

$93

Not bad huh? $93 a month left over. If our worker is diligent, stead-fast, and doesn’t spend a penny outside of this budget they should be well on the road to riches right ?

So what’s missing ? We know our mean machine will run flawlessly without ever needing maintenance or breaking. And of course our worker is in tip-top shape so needing health care or visiting a doctor is never going to happen. Thankfully our worker bee gets all the socialization they need on the job so no need to go out and enjoy a movie or a drink or two with friends. This job is absolutely stress free so there isn’t any need for an outlet or hobby. If all goes perfectly at the end of a year our worker will have banked $1116. WOW!!

Our workers income is above the federal poverty average  ( $11,490 for a single individual-source) so they wouldn’t qualify for any type of aid and by that they aren’t pilfering the coffers of the welfare system so life should be good right?

Who let the birds in with our bee ?!?! We suddenly have a child, but our worker bee has been doing such an awesome job that they got a raise to $7.75/hr. Not one day sick or a day off for vacation; or the birth of the mystery child. That got them up to $16,120 a year (52 weeks math). And hey, they are still over the poverty level of $15,510 for a two person household. Kids don’t have any extra expenses, no need for a doctor so health care coverage isn’t necessary. The little progeny is as fit as a fiddle just like our worker bee.

Sounds like easy street to me.