Category Archives: Commentary

If Stoned Monkeys Could Fly…

If stoned monkey’s could fly then:

  1. Kanye West would be able to seriously design good fashions that doesn’t look like his scrawny, somber, pathetic models just left the camp at Auschwitz. (in reality, those raggedy fashions were infinitely better)
  2. That British idiot Piers Morgan could write an article where he doesn’t sound like a whiny little bitch any more. (who uses proper English)
  3. Kim Kardashian would stop posting constant selfies that doesn’t show one of her exposed body parts that someone on this planet hasn’t seen already. (Repeatedly)
  4. The Republican Party would put forth a Presidential candidate in 2016 who doesn’t come across as cheap and sleazy.
  5. The Democratic Party would put forth a Presidential candidate in 2016 who doesn’t come across as cheap, sleazy…and desperate.
  6. Any Third Party would put forth any decent candidate in 2016 that I could actually vote for. (Sigh…if only Ross Perot were still with us)
  7. Lawyers would have to return your money if they lose your case (like that will ever realistically happen).
  8. All the countries in the would finally band together in a coalition of humanity for a couple of weeks and finally crush ISIS in one all out assault…and let the people they have terrorized dish out their punishments. (There would be burka’s-a-flyin)
  9. The Kennedy family would have to get out of U.S. politics forever…and move to Canada (the extreme Northern parts).
  10. Professional athletes would have to be positive role models or forfeit their salaries and be banned from their leagues permanently. (That’ll stop some foolishness)
  11. Hillary and Bill Clinton would be charged and tried for all their crimes just like every other criminal in this country who breaks the law…and then be banished to Canada with the Kennedys.
  12. Science and Religion would leave each other alone and let everybody do their own research, and make their own decision without being berated with unsolicited positions as to who has the proper point of view. (Each of us has the proper point of view already without their input)
  13. And on that line of thought: Mega-Churches have to pay taxes like any other multi-conglomerate corporation and not use the constitutional division of church and state as a tax dodge (that’s not what the Founding Father’s had in mind when they used that rhetoric for the small community churches that existed at that time)
  14. And on that line of thought: Every person, every business, every corporation, every church, every entity that makes money in or through this country would be taxed at a simple 10% rate with no tax loop-holes whatsoever. (And if they are caught hiding their money in foreign banks or tax dodging or moving factories to foreign countries, they forfeit their citizenship as well as their money)
  15. Pregnant celebrities can’t post selfies of themselves in bikini’s (I mean, really…stop it!)

Yep…If only stoned monkeys could fly.

Why Gardening Sucks (Part One)

Well, the Spring is finally here in the deep South and the Sun is shining brightly and the trees are beginning to bud and the whole world is shrugging off the dreariness of Winter. That’s when the dreaded gardening bug hits and all you want to do is get outside and root around in the dirt like a drunken, blind hog looking for grubs. It’s a primal thing to want to plant vegetables when the Spring comes although it could possibly be infinitely cheaper to buy the stuff at the grocery store. But I have no time to think of that now. I have goaded myself into the delusion that I have a proverbial green thumb so out I go to do battle with nature, and grow some plants to show off to the neighbors and take pictures for my Facebook page spouting my new mantra “I am gonna be ultra-cool this year and be greenly hippytoristic and/or naturally organismic!

I an one of the dirt people now!  An agriculturist!

An “agriculteur si vous plaît !” (to be posh)

Putting on my most fashionable garden outfit (consisting of my oversized “fat” shorts that are two sizes too big and covered with paint spots; a holey, turkey-turd brown XXL tee-shirt from my military days covered with paint spots; my favorite old gray, sweat-stained J3:16 baseball cap covered with paint spots;  my battered Nike sneakers from ancient jogging days covered in paint spots, that I just knew would come in handy again one day) I can now jauntily venture out into public like a multicolored leopard, to grow my own food like the peasantry of yore.

But what ho!. For some reason all my fossilized gardening tools, the one’s I can find anyway, have degenerated into what looks like rusty metal and petrified wood sculptures conceived by some stoned art students in community college. And the carefully stored cadre of vegetable seeds I had collected for the highly anticipated Zombie Apocalypse  seem to have disappeared into the waste land of my garage that looks remarkably like a Mad Max movie set. This will not do! I must venture forth for more.

So it’s off to the big box stores to purchase more “stuff” so I can make more work for myself to do on the weekends.

Apparently everybody else in town has been bitten by the same gardening bug as well, and have decided to occupy the garden centers I frequent just at the same instant I planned to invade. The parking lots are full of white, soccer-mom SUV’s full of baby seats and oversized, penis-envy pick-up trucks with sports decals all over it. And the place is over-run with a crowd of gardening miscreants pushing and shoving like it’s Black Friday, creating check-out lines reminiscent of  a  spring break Disney World ride. And the sun hasn’t been up for more than an hour!?!

All the good seeds are now picked over and gone, and I get stuck with the stuff like chard and cabbage and collard greens. You know, the plant fodder that nobody really likes and smells like crap if you cook it. The little plants that have already been started at some nursery in Bolivia have been picked over as well and all that’s left are the wilty twiggy guys that some brat has stepped on repeatedly. There is no humanity in a garden center in the Spring.

When I get to the new  gardening tool section to re-gizmo myself with the most modern utensils of the 21st Century, I find basically the same implements that were used during the Renaissance. Maybe the metal is a little better but I doubt it. Where’s the newest computerized LED display toy tools that tell you the Ph balance of the soil or if you’re a millimeter too deep in your plant to dirt ratio? Where’s the garden drones? The driverless rakes? Apparently gardening tools haven’t evolved much since Shakespeare wrote Macbeth. Something must be wrong here.

As I stand there in my paint spotted finery vainly searching for just one vegetable plant I could lavish all my attention on this season, or a gardening tool that couldn’t be found in a prehistoric peat bog, I realize I am just not into farming as much as I thought. I do some quick mental calculations in my head and figure I can buy a can of sweet peas for $0.69 at Wal-Mart…or spend $26.75 for the same amount of sweet peas 90 days from now considering the birds, rabbits, squirrels, rats, mice, ants, caterpillars, etc…don’t get them first and allow me a measly cupful. Ole Mother Nature can be a bitch like that.

I guess I’ll just have to settle for a quick  salad at the Olive Garden.

Touché.

A Bad Moon Rising

Sometimes you just get the feeling that there is a bad moon on the rise. It usually begins with that eerie feeling of a black cloud hovering over you until the hair on the back of your neck rises and a bizarre tingle runs up and down your spine. Is it just me or do other folks get that feeling as well? I don’t know what it is but I have learned over the years to take the feeling very seriously. Perusing through the news articles like I do, I begin to see events taking place that may have something to do with it. Let’s explore some of these current issues and see if that has the shivers a spinning.

Politics: Most of the primaries and caucuses for the 2016 Presidential Campaigns are over and it looks like Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee while Hillary Clinton will wrap up the Democratic ticket. How disappointing is this race going to be? We have a bratty, egocentric megalomaniac who is the closest thing to a card carrying Nazi that has ever run for public office heading up the right wing; and a known confusa-feminist, who is one step from an criminal indictment, heading up the left wing. Neither candidate is worth the trip to the voting booth where you will have to literally cast a ballot for the lesser of the two evils. No matter who wins the general election, we lose and now will have to endure at least four years of turmoil and bedlam.

North Korea: Here we have a murderous tin-pot dictator, Kim Jung-Un, who should be in a hospital for the criminally insane instead of in any kind of power position. He is seriously on the fast track to becoming a viable nuclear threat, and is working earnestly on the ability to spread those warheads halfway around the world. This guy must have a photo of Stalin somewhere in a shrine in his palace so he can bend over and worship that purging homicidal lunatic every day. If I lived on the west coast of the U.S. I would be watching this goon with great anticipation and dread. The really scary part is that China, who has had a stranglehold on North Korea since the ceasefire, is gravely concerned with his antics and foolery and is slowly losing control over him.

China: If you ever thought the U.S. or Russia or Europe or Africa or South America was weird, then China would be your huckleberry. They have one of the largest populations on the planet coupled with one of the strangest. Just read the news. They are still Communist but striving to be Capitalist while leaning toward National Socialism. They are just plain confused with what they are, and what they want to be. And their populace shows it by running around  like road lizards on hot pavement doing insane things .  They want to claim dominion over every bit of real estate in the Far East but have Russia to the north of them, Korea to the south, and Japan to the west saying they can’t have it, with America taking every opportunity to poke at them with a big military stick. We keep a fleet cruising in circles in the South China Sea daring them to come out and play. But we know, the bulk of their entire economy is dependent on U.S. consumers. Seriously, if Wal-Mart went bankrupt, China would fold like a house of cards and they would be back into the fiscal era of their ancient Ming Dynasty.

Russia: Vladimir Putin is a thug and a bully. He is crooked as a river and bold as an alligator. And he controls Russia with an iron fist. At the height of the Cold War, Russia could boast of a serious blue-water navy rivaling the U.S. Then during Glasnost and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, their military began to seriously decline as their navy began to rust away. But Vlad has  turned that corner and is revamping the navy again. He knows that if you’re going to be a serious global player at the chess board, you must rule the waves. They have a massive Army and a notable air force all ready, but the navy is the key to resurgence on the world stage. He has already done some questionable things in his neck of the woods, in the Ukraine and Crimea, and the rest of the world just stood around looking stupid. Putin has an agenda, and he is forty moves ahead of the West on this chess board.

I can see now why I have that prickly feeling working up and down my spine. Yep, there is definitely a bad moon on the rise. We have a bewildered and flustered China going deranged, a rootin-tootin Fascist cowboy in Russia kicking sand in our faces and a unruly mentally degenerate child working on playing with nuclear toys in North Korea; while we will have pin our hopes on which political moron will win our Presidential election and get to deal with this cauldron of shit: The Darling of Benghazi or the apprenticed Artful Dodger of the Shady Deal.

Could always be worse. Obama could still be the President.

Touché.

 

O.J. Simpson…Not Again !?!

It was over 20 years ago that we, the citizens of the United States, had to endure the most farcical travesty of judicial injustice in the history of the American legal system…The People of the State of California vs. Orenthal James Simpson. For those of us who were alive at the time of this trial, we now have the opportunity to relive it again except we have all the added interpretation, extrapolation, distorted spin and absurd fiction that drug-addled Hollywood screenwriters can concoct for the dubious “dramatic effect”. The FX Network has rehashed the event in a television series called American Crime Story: The People vs. O. J. Simpson. You would think they might try to get the name of the court case correct at least in the title. But this will just give you an indication of the mythical storyline this show will assuredly follow to keep viewers on the edge of their seats and to bolster the much relished weekly rating’s number.

Even back then, the whole affair was a cartoonish charade masquerading as a legal proceeding. Of course, the national news giants had to turn it into a media feeding frenzy trying to out do each other for the latest scoop and most tawdry tidbit of irrelevant information like putrid vultures circling an imminent battlefield. It was the first in a long line of following celebrity trials. Foolishly, for the first time cameras were actually allowed to roll into a courtroom to see the daily unfolding of motions, testimonies, arguments and the continual side-bar parleys. All the players strutting around trying their best to appear clever. And what a show it was!

Days turned into weeks which turned into months. And after a short while, you just got plain sick and tired of hearing about it!

Simpson had gathered what was called a Dream Team of big-name, high-dollar defense counsels consisting of the most infamous legal shysters, judicial flim-flam artists and courtroom divas that money could buy.  They were able to seat a mostly uneducated jury consisting of 9 blacks, 2 whites and 1 hispanic member, so you know Simpson had an unbalanced racial advantage at the onset. And the Dream Team hammered them constantly with complicated scientific evidence and verbal masturbation that only another lawyer could understand. The presiding Judge was weak. The Prosecution was inept. The cops might as well have been Keystone.

It became a daily water-cooler discussion topic across America, and the world, with supporters and opponents quickly dividing into two separate camps of guilt and innocence. And because he was a black man accused of killing two white people, the race issue surely raised it’s ugly head further polarizing the populace even more. Then it went to the next level of sensational. But still, it was a ludicrous trial and an even more ridiculous media driven display of how our judicial system can be easily manipulated by enterprising attorneys. It was wrong on so many levels.

In the end, there were two distinct camps: the Not Guilty advocates vs. the Guilty proponents, and tensions were very high in the verbal sparring between the two groups. All for nothing. It should have been irrelevant to everyone concerned except Simpson himself, and the families of the victims. But for years afterwards, feelings still ran deep over the trial and verdicts. It was close to becoming just a footnote of judicial history.

But now we get to relive it all over again. Hopefully, the latest FX rendition of the whole sordid affair will not make us all revisit the fiery emotions and fanatical positions of the witnesses of the original event. Or is that their intent? And hopefully, people who will now watch this fictional television show based loosely on sometime fact, will not perceive this as actual historical events. Or is that their intent as well? Surely we hate being used and manipulated like that. Surely we as a society are smarter than that. Surely.

It is not my intention to regurgitate the proceedings of the trial in this article. There is plenty of material out there for review if you have any kind of sincere interest in it. It was litigated, it is over and O.J. Simpson walked out of the courtroom literally getting away with murder…twice. It sadly reminds me of the last four words of our once stolid Pledge of Allegiance: “and justice for all”. In America at that exact point in our history, justice officially became a perception instead of a right. And it has now become doctrine instead of farce.

You know, sometimes Hollywood should not be in control and allowed to make supposedly historical entertainment without constraint. The lazy and ignorant will perceive it as fact…when it’s such a lie to us all. I am beginning to despise the entertainment industry for what it is…and for what it does.

I do note they will not revisit their own perversions and  scandals with such fervor.

Bastards.

Touché.

 

And With The Whole World Watching

The Republican’s race for their parties presidential nomination has now officially become a three-ring circus of clowns, posers and buffoons. Donald Trump has literally turned this arena into one of the most humiliating and embarrassing events for the American people in our illustrious, and sometimes dubious, history. Too much of a crass television personality underhanded businessman and not enough savvy polished politician. In fact Trump, Cruz and Rubio have all worked hard to become the new three stooges of modern politics. It’s like watching adolescent boys try to out shout each other in a “Yo Mama is so fat…” schoolyard pissing match. And to bring up hand size in direct relation to penis size is unbelievable in a serious political debate. Absolutely unbelievable! Doesn’t the Republican candidates realize that the entire world is watching this farce unfold and that they are a direct reflection of us? We are becoming the laughing stock of the globe based on their infantile immaturity, and the real battle for the Presidential election hasn’t even started yet.

I have said before and I will say it again: Donald Trump is the most dangerous person to ever run for the Presidency of the United States of America. And if he is elected, we will have nothing but chaos and confusion and turmoil during his term. What little international prestige we have left will be totally extinguished by his inexperience and his antics. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are light-weight politicos punching way above their class, and it shows. Neither is Presidential material. John Kasich doesn’t even seriously count as a player in the game. And the GOP debate in Detroit again shows once again that the Republican Party has degenerated into an antiquated entity who has lost touch with modern reality. Their rogue elephant Trump is plowing his way over the rest of the candidates, and the Party itself, like a drunken sailor in a brothel. And he is going to be their candidate for the general election in November. This joke is now officially out of control, and no one is going to be laughing soon…but the whole world will be watching.

Then the Democrats have their mouthy prima-donna Hillary Clinton sharpening her fangs, and you know she will be relentless berating the Republican contender. She is so confident and full of herself, it is nauseating. I had hoped Bernie Sanders would come from behind and be the proverbial underdog taking away the crown from this unethical prom queen, but I don’t think he will muster the momentum to do it. Too bad, it would have been glorious watching  Clinton’s shady career go down the political toilet.

Soon the two party hopefuls will begin fighting with each other for the highest office itself, and the whole world will continue to watch the debacle as Trump and Clinton go at each other in a vicious toe-to-toe slugging match. You know they will too. If they can vilify and destroy their own party members for the nomination of their party, what do you think will happen when the whole enchilada is on the line? The head of the most powerful nation in history and the leader of the free world will come down to a vote between two egocentric megalomaniacs who are so power hungry they will willingly pervert their honor, stifle their self-respect and do anything they can to win. And the media will be loving it as that are sitting on the sidelines, drinking the kool-aide during the whole thing. How humiliating it will be for us, the American citizen.

And the whole world will be watching.

Touché.

Doesn’t All Lives Matter?

Why does it have to be a Black Lives Matter movement?  Doesn’t everybody’s lives matter? All persons with any skin color; their lives matter to someone. With all people in general, under any circumstance; their lives matter to us all as a community. It is a fundamental right of every living creature on this planet to have the ability to exist and for their lives to contribute to the collective whole of existence.  Human skin color is basically irrelevant because all skin has color to it, just varying degrees of shade and tone. If there is a stigma of some kind, then you attach it yourself…and that is the great trap.

The “Black Lives Matter” movement erupted from the undeniably questionable atrocities of some police officers shooting persons of darker color, and then the media hype that continually fed upon it. I’ll reiterate that part again; the media hype that continually fed upon it. But  you know, when any shooting death of any person happens, it needs to be and will be looked at by a Grand Jury of citizen peers in a forum of justice to determine if that action was justified or not, regardless of skin tone. And justice for all! That is the ultimate goal. If it is not an appropriate occurrence then direct action needs to be applied by the laws adjudicated by the Judicial System, not any self appointed portion of the populace basing it on skin tone alone. That division is what separates us from total anarchy. And surely not the sanctioned use of disruptive disobedience or rioting or looting in the name of any cause. That destroys any movement’s credibility and desired sympathy.

Applying a skin color to the equation for effect begins the process and promulgation of racism, where none may have initially existed. If that is the agenda of any movement, then that cause becomes questionable and suspect.  The root cause needs to be the acquisition of justice, not the furtherance of a personal vendetta against an authority based solely on race . If a movement is given a voice, then responsibility become paramount in it’s presentation and reception. Not just being used by a sensationalist hungry media to boost their ratings for the week. Then it will avoid becoming the proverbial slippery slope with two sides falling on opposite banks of the ditch, which then polarizes itself further into a situation with no positive resolution.

I personally find it insulting to direct any specific social movement, positive or negative, singularly to one specific skin color. That’s a form of racism in and of itself. AlI of us can say, without reservation, that no one race or skin color or ethnic or religious group is superior or inferior to another. To adopt any other position is just plain stupid as a philosophical doctrine. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary definition of racism is  “a belief that race is the primary determinate of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race”. Therefore the movement wasn’t about racism based on the definition. It was about the offending law enforcement officer’s abuse of justice.

Let’s test the humanistic theory practically. If you as a human being were walking in the desert and come upon another human of a different skin tone close to dying of thirst, would you share the water you have with them for their survival?  Conversely, if you were the one dying of thirst, would you expect and accept another human being of a different color sharing their water with you? Would you readily drink from the same canteen? What if it were an animal that was dying? Would you be humane and help?

It really is a ridiculous notion to do anything other than share the water, no matter which side of the predicament you are a part of. That is the basic component of human compassion, as we are a compassionate species. We have been indoctrinated since birth to follow instinct and do whatever we can to alleviate the threat of suffering to another human being,  an animal, or a community whatever the circumstances may be. That’s why there are billions of us living today worldwide, and why we diligently take care of our livestock. It makes us a viable part of the community of life on this planet.

Now, granted, there are some human beings that have serious mental issues such as sociopathic or psychopathic tendencies. They simply need medical help or separation from society. Then there are others who have been taught to despise based on unfounded attributes assigned to their belief of others. They simply need re-indoctrination and to learn empathy. Fortunately, these mentioned are the few…not the many.  The great civil right leader Dr. Martin L. King eloquently stated ” I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Lack of any racism towards anybody was his message. That cuts both ways, you know. Dr. King was talking about everybody of every colored skin.

Experience has shown most of us, when we begin to know someone’s character as a person, they usually become our friend based on that, and our own character. So instead of a “Black Lives Matter” movement, we need to strive for a seriously organized “All Lives Matter” movement when it comes to criminal abuse by law enforcement officials. Then any perceived racism by anyone of any skin color will begin to slowly fade away into the bowels of history where it belongs.  And if a police officer of any skin color is guilty of an unwarranted shooting against anybody, then color-blind justice needs to do it’s job and hold the perpetrator to righteousness…and their superiors

A life that matters is a fundamental right of all skin toned humans.

Touché.

The Back-Packers Guide to the Apocalypse (Part 2)

As we discovered in Part 1, the threat of the Apocalypse is not bearing down upon us at this very minute as the charlatans and commercial thumpers would have us believe. We are actually in pretty good shape as far as those things go. I stated in my earlier post the only realistic potential apocalypse scenarios are an asteroid/meteorite impact,  a super volcano or a pandemic/epidemic. The first two are really rare and we would most likely have time to prepare and adjust for the events. The pandemic/epidemic is the one to keep your eye on. When that comes it will be swift and severe, and because we are a globally traveling society, it will spread very quickly. But remember, if you are not exposed to the threat, it will not harm you.

In any survival situation, you can use Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as a rudimentary guide. Maslow used a pyramid to illustrate this concept with Physiological Needs as the largest and most relevant, encompassing the base. Next up the scale was Safety Needs followed by Love/Belonging Needs. There are two more needs at the top of the pyramid, Esteem and Self-actualization, but they are more along the lines of “feel-good-about-yourself” than actual immediate survival. Basically, you must satisfy your Physiological Needs (breathable air, food, water) before you can move up to your Safety Needs (shelter and defense). Both of these needs must  be satisfied before you can satisfy Love/Belonging (a mate and a community). It makes a lot of sense in that if you’re starving to death you’re first priority is sustenance of the body instead of finding a shelter, and then a mate or community to join. When you secure food and water, your focus then turns to adequate shelter. When both of these needs are met, you’ll look for companionship, and so forth and so on up the pyramid. Maslow’s Hierarchy kind of puts the situation in an initial primal perspective for your apocalypse survival.

Now most of the commercial entities who talk about dooms day survival are adamant about hoarding gold, silver and currency. Most likely because they are selling that product. That’s all fine and wonderful if you want to swap your gold bars and all your cash for a can of tomato soup to feed your family when you’re desperate. If economies crumble and we are reduced to a barter society, people will want to trade for the essentials of life not the luxuries. Gold, silver and currency is fine for a really short term event where society is relatively intact; but for a long term disaster where the economy has shattered, it will be a burden instead of a viable tool to secure any kind of supplies. And fully expect to get shafted in any trade using gold, silver or currency for an essential. If you’re in a daily struggle to secure food and water, then fish hooks or ammunition or vegetable seeds will be vastly more valuable to you as a trade item than a $100 bill or bag of silver coins. If I have something you need, I will trade you for something I need. This is where you must get out of the current worldwide economical mindset and get barter primal like the stone age. That’s the situation that will exist.

Next big issue is to shelter in place. You might have to forage for food and water, but at your home you have most of the weapons, tools, clothing and other essentials you will need for a decent attempt at daily survival. You can set up a perimeter and defend it, if needed. You may not have power or running water but it will be a satisfactory shelter regardless. Don’t cram your family, and whatever else you can, into the car and take off down the highway seeking a new horizon unless it is unavoidably necessary to escape a deadly situation. There will be total chaos and anarchy on the roads and highways, with desperate people doing despicable things. When a man is watching his wife and kids beginning to starve, he WILL rationalize the behavior and do whatever he needs to feed them. Harming or killing you and yours will not affect him in the least. It will be sad but true. That is the nature of humans. So if at all possible, be inconspicuous make your stand at home.

Now, what you store up against the apocalyptic event for survival is basically up to you; whatever your personal needs will be and the environment you will live in until the crisis has ended. The basics for everyone will be food, water, special medicines needed, shelter and weapons for defense. Maslow’s Hierarchy again. It’s not brain surgery so put a little thought into it and start putting smart things away if you deem necessary. Depending on the event, you may need to learn some canning/preserving skills or first aid or farming skills; or at least buy some books to have on hand outlining those skills if you need them.

The key to the whole issue is to be aware of the threats and know what options are available if they occur. To be perfectly frank, a dooms day event will most likely never occur in your lifetime so don’t be foolish and start spending frivolously for naught. There is a lot of commercial companies that thrive on the foolish who they can terrify into buying their products. Don’t get caught up in that circus. Be mindful of the news media stories, know where you can procure threat appropriate items and have a general plan. You will endure.

Personal common sense has saved more lives than all the collective doctors, clerics and academics who ever lived.

Touché.

The Back-Packers Guide to the Apocalypse (Part 1)

Apocalypse! The very word sends shudders up some peoples spines making them manic and paranoid; running around like Chicken Little personified screaming the sky is falling and getting ready to hide under the proverbial bed. Well, in the parable an acorn simply fell on his head. But then most recently, the end of the world scenario has been utmost on some Chicken Little minds, especially when prophetic events like the ending of the Mayan calendar, or the incredibly cryptic prophecies of loonies like Nostradamus are touted and seemingly validated by media eccentrics who believe such nonsense, and want you to believe it as well to sell their books or get you to buy elaborate doomsday supplies.  Our old friend money has popped his head up again. But let’s now be realistic and look at the issue from the perspective of someone with no commercial agenda and a little common sense.

First, what does Apocalypse actually mean. The English word comes from the Greek word apokálypsis, meaning “uncovering”; being translated literally as “a disclosure of knowledge”.  What? That doesn’t mean the end of the world? Where does the doom of the world come from? Well, it takes on that meaning inadvertently from the Book of Revelation in the Bible, in the context of meaning the return of Jesus Christ, the destruction of Satan and his forces and the beginning HIS one thousand year reign of Peace. See the English Bible was translated from the Greek translation. So then it becomes a religious disclosure of knowledge proclaiming the end of the former world as we know it. Not a bad thing if you’re a Christian. A very bad thing if you’re not. Research the Book of Revelation for more information on it. This event is a matter of Faith and when/if it happens a whole new set of rules apply.

So now let us look at the physical ways this planet can actually be scientifically injured thereby posing a realistic threat to mankind. Note I didn’t say destruction of the planet. There is no probable, practical mechanism or significant threat that can seriously destroy the planet itself at this time. But the surface can be rendered uninhabitable, or the life forms can be eradicated. And also distinguish between “probable” and “possible”. Almost anything can be possible, just not always probable. These are two completely different concepts when you deal with events. It is technically possible that a coconut wielding maniac hippie shark with an eye patch will jump up behind you in the rain on the toilet and beat you senseless while singing Ave Maria…but not realistically probable.

The most noteworthy ways of our collective destruction are:

Geomagnetic Reversal: This is a change in a planet’s magnetic field such that the positions of magnetic north and magnetic south are interchanged completely, or to varying degrees. On average this happens every 450,000 years or so, and most reversals are estimated to take between 1,000 and 10,000 years. The latest one occurred about 780,000 years ago.  A brief complete reversal, occurred only 41,000 years ago during the last ice age. Did the world end. No. Were there mass extinctions? Possibly. No one really knows for sure but the evidence indicates that this is not an event that will crumble the planet and eradicate all life. It may be a spooky thing to happen but we would continue to survive. This is a possible but not likely event so don’t buy a new compass. Possible but not probable as a civilization eradicator!

Gamma Ray Burst: This is a flash of Gamma Rays associated with extremely energetic explosions that have been observed in distant galaxies. Bursts can last from ten milliseconds to several hours and are believed to consist of a narrow beam of intense radiation released during a supernova or hypernova as a rapidly rotating, high-mass star collapses blah, blah, bah. The sources of most Gamma Ray Bursts are billions of light years away from Earth and are extremely rare. In fact, all observed Gamma Ray Bursts have originated from outside our galaxy. It is only a theory that IF a Gamma ray burst in the Milky Way, and IF it was pointing directly towards the Earth, it MIGHT cause a  mass extinction event. That’s a lot of ifs and maybes to take a Gamma Ray Burst seriously especially since they are not even in our own galaxy. Possible but not even probable! I’ll throw the bullshit flag on this one as no threat whatsoever.

Black Hole: This is a theoretical region of spacetime exhibiting such strong gravitational effects that nothing, including particles and  light,  can escape from inside it. It would literally shred our planet to pieces and absorb it into the void. The nearest black hole to Earth is believed to be at the center of our galaxy. So it’s not nearby, and there is not a traveling hobo black hole that has been identified coming through our neighborhood, so this phenomenon is virtually non-threatening at all. Possible but not probable! Another bullshit flag.

Biotech disaster: Biological technology is another way of saying genetically modified. If you buy non-organic groceries at the supermarket, you are most likely buying meat and vegetables that have been genetically modified to look better, taste better, last longer; and be insect and weather resistant. We have even seen cloning of sheep in our lifetime. Genetic modification and the biological science’s are researching more ways of enhancing and changing genetic structure’s of organisms at an alarming rate. But when you tamper with Nature’s genetic engineering, you are asking for trouble. This is an area where the technology can get away from the architects very easily if they are not fanatically diligent. When I begin seeing cattle with claws and fangs, as well as a nasty carnivorous appetites, I’ll worry about this one. We could technically engineer our own destruction, but on a planetary scale it’s not realistically feasible. This one is possible and probable if due care and responsibility is ignored! In extraordinary circumstances, this event might cause problems for, or irritate the human race, but not destroy the physical planet.

Climate Change: We may be seeing this event unfolding at this very  minute. Since the Industrial Revolution, we have been pumping carbon dioxide and other pollutants into our air and water supply to the point the planet is beginning to change. This is a serious threat to our current way of existence but not to our species survival. At the very worse, we may have to adjust to an ice age existence but realistically we would continue to survive as a specie although populations would plummet like ice cubes in a tumbler. The planet itself would endure fine albeit in a different state. Possible and most likely probable if changes are not initiated immediately to correct the pending imbalances!

Super Volcano: This one is one of the more serious threat’s today. Super volcanoes do exist worldwide and there is historical evidence of their periodic eruptions. Most of our planet is molten rock and we live on our planet’s shallow and fragile crust which is governed by plate tectonics.  Where the plates meet, there will be always be seismic activity. There are volcano’s all along these plates but the few super volcanoes are extraordinarily dangerous to our species. Sadly, they are inevitable. Scientists are monitoring them constantly and are getting consistently better at predicting eruptions. Therefore, we can at least get away from the blast range of an eruption and evacuate ahead of a pyroclastic flow if warned in time. But it’s the ejection of billions of tons of matter into the atmosphere that’s the issue. A super volcano could throw enough ejecta into the air to cover the Earth with a blanket of dust, block out the Sun’s rays and thrust us into a volcanic winter for an indeterminate period of time. This is the true end time scenario as used in movies for drama. Crops and all vegetation would eventually fail, animals would die, starvation would soon begin on a massive scale, water supplies would be non-potable, world and communal societies would devolve into chaos, economies would crumble, and we would be thrust into a literal dark age existence again bartering for our needs, or taking them by force of arms. We would have to survive on stored rations until the overcast dissipated and the land could support plants again. Mankind would most likely survive as a species, but in the interim, it would be the most harsh, cruel and base existence for the few survivors. Civilization, as we know it today, would never exist again. They are rare but this one is very possible and eventually probable at some point.

Asteroid/Meteorite Strike: Scientists tell us this is another of those events which is a matter of WHEN not IF it’s going to happen. The most recent serious threat was probably the Tunguska Event in 1908. Our planet and Moon are pockmarked reminders that asteroid and meteor strikes have rained down on this planet throughout it’s existence. The destructive power of this event depends on the size and the speed of the object that collides with the Earth. But an asteroid roughly 5 miles in diameter travelling at a hypersonic speed will destroy all living things on the planet…that’s the feared Planet Killer. No need to hoard food or water, no need to crawl in a hole, no chance of survival unless you leave the planet. But even then there’s no place to go. Scientists and world governments know of this threat and are making minute strides to address it when it does occur; but any realistic plan to deal with it is still on the drawing boards at this stage. At least the scientific observers have identified several larger near Earth objects and are tracking them, so we can have advanced warning (if the officials decide to tell us). The smaller ones are to numerous to track. Now, some of these smaller impacts we can survive, once again, depending on the size. We could have something like the volcanic winter mentioned earlier except this is called an impact winter. Same results, just a different name for the cause. This threat is very possible and eventually probable at some point.

Artificial Intelligence/Nano Technology: This event is more theoretical than practical at this point in our technological development. Until we reach “technological singularity” and our thinking machines and computers become smarter than our programming and failsafe measures, we have no serious threat from AI to destroy our human civilization. Also Nano-technology is predicted for the future but the technology is just not upon us yet. Supposedly these microscopic robots can turn rogue and reduce all matter on the planet’s surface to gray goo. Sounds more science fiction than science. This is another instance to throw the bullshit flag and not worry about something that doesn’t exist, except in the mind of a pot smoking Hollywood screenplay writer. Like a ghost in the machinery, when I see it I’ll believe it possible and take the threat more seriously. No matter the outcome, the planet will survive without any problem. It’s the indentured servant of humanity vs. the master machine scenario that’s the issue. Possible and maybe probable…just not anytime soon.

Pandemic/Biological Warfare: This one is another of the more seriously probable events. Nature has a way of culling an animal population to get it to appropriate, balanced numbers that can survive and flourish in it’s environment. When the population get’s too large she’ll starve it back to the proper balance or introduce disease. Epidemics and Pandemics are nothing new to our history and is Nature’s way of culling our human herd. Almost everybody has heard of the bubonic plagues of medieval Europe, killing almost 25% of the population. Basically one in every four people died of the disease. And it’s still around. Even recently, in 1918, the Spanish Influenza killed 100 million people worldwide. And I am sure there are others throughout history. In our times, we have had the luxury of antibiotics to stave off infections and other nasty’s, keeping us out of the grip of pandemics. But Nature has ways of counteracting our cleverness. Scientist’s are now seeing a rise in antibiotic resistant strains of viruses and bacteria which could leave our medicines and treatments useless to combat the threat. Also Nature has a way of causing viruses and bacteria to mutate allowing them to change their way of attacking us, as well as being shielded from the medicines. So this event is very possible and eventually probable at some point in our future. Is it a planet destroyer? No. Planet will be just fine. Is it a mankind destroyer? Possibly. But not an extinction event for the species. And there is no such thing, or ever will be such a thing as a Zombie Apocalypse. That’s just being stupid. There has never been a virus or bacteria that has caused humans to crave eating brains of another human. Pot smoking Hollywood screenwriters trying to make a buck again. To me personally, the possibility of a pandemic or epidemic is the most serious threat of them all because we have seen it too may times before, and Nature is diligently working against us to whittle our numbers down.

Nuclear Holocaust: This threat has been around since World War II. Yes, there are enough warheads to throw the planet into a nuclear winter, like a volcanic or impact winter, but it would take them all exploding during a single series of events to do it. Only two countries have the vast majority of the world’s stockpiles. And the possibility of that happening has been dwindling since the Cold War. Could it happen? Sure. Why hasn’t it happened in the last 70 years then? Because leaders and politicians know humanity will not stand for it. Their perceived use has become so caustic, that any leader that uses just one will surpass Hitler as the most despised and reviled man in history. And the country he represents will be ostracized from the human community. Even if a terrorist cell used one, it would cause only localized destruction not a worldwide event. They have become weapons of bluff and bluster with little chance of realistic use any more.  If that were not so, they would have been used somewhere already by someone. And remember, for a world destructive event, it will take nearly all of the warheads being utilized to catapult us into a nuclear winter. The U.S. and Russia would pound each other with conventional weapons before they would revert to nuclear weapons. And the winning power would never push the loser to the point of all out launch. Mutually assured destruction theory. This event is possible of course but I personally don’t think it’s really probable anymore.

Alien Invasion: I’m not even going to give this any credence or thought. When intelligent, combative, war-mongering, resource stealing life forms from another planet’s civilization appear, we’ll give this consideration. We haven’t even found microbes on other planetary bodies so don’t bother looking for destructive battle fleets from other worlds. Oh, by the way, if you see a UFO flying around I’ll bet you the farm it has a government contract funding it.

Massive Solar Flare: This is another possible but not probable event. A solar flare of a magnitude large enough to strip the Earth of it’s atmosphere is so rare as to be not worth the calculation.

So there you have the choices. Most of them are not even probable events. However, pandemics, super volcanoes and asteroid/meteor strikes are viable possibilities and we should take those threats very, very seriously. Are they common? No, just the opposite. Super volcanoes and asteroid impacts are rare events but when they can happen, the results can be catastrophic. Pandemics and epidemics on the other hand are not as rare and we need to prepare for the next one very sensibly. So the next time you hear one of the modern commercial prophets of doom saying the end could be near at any minute and you need to buy their survival products right now or soon you’ll be eating your grand babies, naked and in the dark; you can least look down your nose at them in righteous condemnation and say with confidence: “You’re an idiot!”

Touché.

A Realistic Flying Car Comes

Bravo! It’s finally–almost–a reality. The first realistic concept for a flying car has been released and you will see it before the close of the next decade. For the last fiftyish years I have waited for this dream to come true. As a late baby-boomer child growing up in the 1960’s, with science fiction trumpeting all the extraordinary innovations we would have in the 21st Century, the flying car was always the coolest and most wondrous of them all. I also daydreamed of our domed underwater cities, and huge space stations orbiting the planet, and our colonization of the Moon, and eradication of all diseases, and extermination of all wars, and terraforming of Mars, and exploration of the solar system with our vast fleet of starships, and armies of benign robots performing all our mundane tasks. Apparently mid-20th century science fiction writers were a bit ambitious in their prophecies, but at least one is at hand and soon may be available for abuse. The phenomenal flying car.

A U.S. based company called Terrafugia claims it’s new concept vehicle, the TF-X, will be a real prototype by 2018 and available to the world by 2024. For all you techno-geekers, it will have fold-out wings with twin electric motors attached to each end. The vehicle will have a sweet cruising speed of 200 mph along with a 500-mile flight range. These motors will allow the TF-X to move from a vertical to a horizontal position, and is powered by a 300 hp engine. The planned four-person TF-X will be semi-autonomous and  computer-controlled so that passengers can simply type in a destination before taking off. The TF-X vehicles will be capable of automatically avoiding other air traffic, bad weather, and restricted and tower-controlled airspace. It will be able to recharge its batteries either from its engine or by plugging in to electric car charging stations. Just makes your under-drawers explode with delight!

Of course, there are some caveats to ownership of your own TF-X. Firstly, it is expected to have a price tag around $261,000.  Roughly the same price as one of Elon Musk’s trendy electric Tesla POS’s. So us poor folks will have to scrimp and save our beer money and do without some serious groceries. Secondly, you will have to have a pilots license in addition to a drivers license, as well as 20 hours of flying time to boot. But at least you can drive it home, and around your cronies, until you pass the pilot’s course. Thirdly, the insurance will be brutal to own one, if you can get insurance at all. But hey, it’s a flying car! You can now be at Granny’s house in a fraction of the time it takes now. And will she be thrilled as you drag her kicking and screaming out for a ride in the future.

And flying cars will bring up a whole new crop of issues about the use of the heavily controlled airspace. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) governmental Nazis will be having fits over the general public suddenly having access to buzzing through the skies. Amazon is seeing that firsthand with their drone delivery program right now, and you aren’t seeing them flying up to your doorstep. And, as always, you have the human factor. Suddenly, thousands of flying vehicles will be in the possible control of bold geriatrics, or possible drunks, or living troglodytes, or 40 year old adolescents who’s most muttered suicidal statement is “Hey guys, watch this!”  What about pampered little inexperienced Jimmy who just turned 16 and rich Daddy bought him his first car. And let’s be totally honest, maintenance on this puppy is something you can’t ignore, and will take a NASA trained engineer to work on it. No shade tree mechanic work here. If you have a fender-bender with these beauties, it will be most distinctly and permanently fatal, most likely. And then there’s the collateral damage. You’re innocently sitting on your couch eating a bean burrito lathered in guacamole, watching the latest episode of your favorite cartoon Keeping Up With the Kardashians, when a flying car drops through your roof and destroys your only toilet.

Well, we are at least on the verge of watching flying cars zooming around the skies, but there are a lot of other issues that need addressing first. Those things were supposed to be handled by now, when I was dreaming as a child. Apparently not.  But it’s a flying car and I am still excited to see the first one zoom by, several miles away from my family and home and commode.

So once again, technology is arriving before the responsibility to control it. Reminds me of the line in Macbeth: “Something wicked this way comes.”

Touché.

 

So You’re FOOLISH Enough to Want to be Rich and Famous?

For those of us who are not fabulously wealthy or world renowned, we all sometimes have little secret fantasies and longings of what it would actually be like to not have any worries about paying the bills on time or getting preferential treatment when we go out in society or having simple folks shout out our names in adulation every time we’re in public. We would reside in huge mansions, take extended holidays on mega-yachts, fly by helicopter to the grocery store and generally be pampered constantly with luxuries and opulence. Our fame would have us recognized by all, adoringly worshiped as modern legends as we step out into the world everyday to do our exceptional tasks and engagements. But are we REALLY stupid and foolish enough to want to be rich and famous? Lets explore that little avenue. Say you’re granted your wish and win the lottery of one billion dollars, and your recording of your song just hit the pinnacle of being number one for the last two years, and you just won the Oscar for being the best actor of all time. You are now officially rich and famous.

Let’s look at our being mega-wealthy first. You now buy a huge mansion in an exclusive neighborhood where you can put all your “stuff” and socialize with the other celebrities and mega-wealthy. You know, all the cool things you gathered, or were given as  presents, and collected when you were just plain old poor folk. Now, none of that will fit the décor of you’re new lifestyle. All the crayon drawings proudly done by your kids; the horribly ugly vase grandma saved her pension money to buy for you on your wedding day; the sofa you have sat on for the past ten years with your family as they grew up; your bed that you scrimped and saved for, and have spent years sleeping in and expressing love; the non-descriptive car that has never left you stranded anywhere and you meticulously washed every weekend. All that must go now, or be hidden away out of view. So you now get to buy all new stuff that will conform to your new house and lifestyle. Big house equals a lot of furniture and art shopping, and other critical decisions. But all must be tasteful and trendy. You can have anything you want at this juncture, not just what you could formerly afford. Now the list of possibilities is endless therefore the decisions suddenly become more and more demanding. And you have rooms and rooms and rooms to fill. And then, when the vendors know you’re a mega-wealthy type, the normal prices will suddenly jump sky-high because they know you can afford it. So now you can’t even enjoy shopping anymore and will have to have a staff member do it for you, to avoid getting shafted just because your rich and famous.

Now we have to hire the staff to run our new massive household. We are wealthy now so we don’t cook, clean or drive ourselves any more. That would be tacky and horrid because the neighbors and media would be scandalized. We have an image to maintain so we’re not laughed at for being rubes. Maids, cooks, chauffer’s, personal secretaries and…security guards. Yep! Now that we’re rich and famous, we have concerns for our loved ones health, safety and security. If you have lots of money, some criminal body with foul motives will surely want it. So our family must now be under 24 hour watch to avoid kidnapping, or theft, or assault, or attack. You’re rich and famous now, so some people will despise you just because you’re successful; or worse yet, somebody will become so enamored with you they harass you all the time with forlorn love and affection…the dreaded stalker. Your privacy suddenly is paramount. Your movements, your family movements, your private habits; all are subjects of interest to somebody so your house and personal staff have to be vetted and investigated properly. They have to be highly paid to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, obedient, friendly, kind, courteous and willing not to steal from you or divulge your toilet habits to the media for money. Every day, every minute, every move, every decision, every comment you make is now critical to someone’s welfare. And the whole operation is an endless, ravenous money pit.

Your fame is wonderful, but you can no longer go anywhere without being mobbed. You are always on display now and every movement or word you speak must be perfectly in accord with your image. No more public movie theater trips, no drama free meals at restaurants, no more trips to simply get a quiet coffee at Starbucks. Somebody is always thrusting an autograph book in your hands or a cell phone in your face for a Selfie. People want you to hold their child or dog, or put your arm around Granny, for a photo. They don’t realize they are the hundredth person today who has asked you for the same thing. If you are with your kids, they do not have all of your attention and they are constantly bombarded simply being with you. Their quiet trips are always ruined having to share you with the world all the time, when all they want is some time with you alone to bond and share what they’ve done for your approval.

You have strived hard to get there but now some people are jealous of all your adulation. That is the nature of humans. Also you have to be constantly aware that there is a fine line between fame and infamy. One can morph into the other very easily so you’re always walking on eggshells.  The media is constantly pressing your friends and family and staff for scoops of information about you. The more demeaning the better. The media is not interested in you personally, they are interested in using you to sell their articles or magazines. Yes, you are rich and famous, but to them you are still just a piece of meat to display and exploit so they can be rich and famous too. Photographers and journalists and writers and bloggers and critics and other leeches are tuned into every aspect of your existence now. When you step out in your yard to play a game with your kids, paparazzi is skulking out side the gates in the bushes with a camera and telescopic lenses trying to catch you in a compromising pose or embarrassing situation. Everything you wear, everything your family wears, everything you drink, smoke, eat or breathe is captured on film, and plastered on the websites and papers and magazines, with any headline they want to attach to it. If you fight back and attack them for it, they will retaliate and began a smear campaign against you, and yours. You are now their dancing bear, and you will do it to their tunes.

If you are famous but poor, the rules change a little but not much. If you are rich but not famous, the rules change a little but not much. Because both go hand in hand like a recurring benign cancer. Eventually and casually merging. You must live with it and care for it, or it will become malignant and then eat you and your loved one’s alive. If you are poor and become rich, then lose it, you will revert to the person you were before with little damage hopefully. But if you’re rich, then lose it all to become poor; it’s an adjustment most of those people can’t abide, and they dwindle into chaos. Conversely, fame is a like drug and can become highly addictive no matter who you are. You get it, and will always want more until it becomes as overbearing as any addiction. Then when you lose it, you become pitiful and pathetic striving to get it back again. Oscar Wilde was once quoted ”There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” He should have craved privacy because he was eventually imprisoned for homosexuality when it was illegal in England, and then died young and destitute.

So, the next time you see  a photo of, or listen to a recording of your most revered, rich and famous celebrity, you may want to feel some empathy for them. They are truly walking a desolate and troubled path. And I truly wish them well on it…for as long as it lasts.

But always be very careful what you wish for. You just might get it. And there is no such thing as an easy life.

Touché.