Monday, August 30, 2010

Wrapped in the Bible.....

Some months back, I mentioned here that Sinclair Lewis said, "If Fascism ever comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a Bible".   Well, Glenn Beck has been wrapping himself in the flag, has done so ever since he emerged from the murky smog-bank of the far right.  (Hey, they are the folks who just LOVE big business, right?)  But, as he stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial last Saturday, he picked-up the Bible and revealed an evangelical side of himself that caught a lot of folks by surprise.  He took great pains to align himself with the Evangelical right, and he has now become the spitting image of Lewis' Fascist Archetype.

Does anybody else find it somewhat astonishing that Beck, Palin, Bachmann et al , are always spouting off about getting our freedom back....and yet the agenda of their Tea Party ilk is inextricably bound into the same bundle of ideology with taking away freedom of choice, freedom from discrimination due to gender orientation, de facto racism and a host of lesser planks in their agenda.  By picking up the Bible Beck is adopting what many people consider to be the Ultimate Authority on right and wrong.  Nevermind that Christianity makes up only a minority percentage of the people on this planet (with approximately 2.2 billion adherents, Christianity is the largest religion, but makes up less than a third of humanity), nevermind that every soul is born with a CONSCIENCE as a part of their original software package.

No matter what any religion lays down as 'law' the fact is, there is a higher law than what is written, and it abides in the Heart of each human being.  God never planned that we would have to consult a book--of any sort--to know what is against Life, Love, Harmony and Beauty.  But, Glenn Beck and his cohorts have a plan of their own....and it includes telling you and me what we can do in our own lives according to how THEY interpret what is right.  Never doubt it.

In the days leading up to this 'rally', Beck denied that he chose either the location--the steps of the Lincoln Memoral, or the date--the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a Dream" speech--and that all of that was just 'coincidence'.  This tells me that he is either one helluva dumb-ass, with virtually no knowledge of American History...or he is a man who lies with a straight face and expects people to believe WHATEVER he says.  Actually, I believe he is BOTH.  But, I do not believe he is so stupid that he chose those two parameters for his 'coming out' speech as a leader of American Evangelical 'Divine Providence'.  And, by the way, his choice of words there is a little bit unsettling to me...simply because it is the exact wording that Adolph Hitler used to describe his ascendancy to the role of Fuerher, i.e. Germany's Savior.

In fact, there are way too many similarities between how Beck seems to see himself and how Hitler viewed himself for me to look away and pretend that they aren't there.  At a time when the German economy was in collapse, people were out of work, the political system was in a shambles....this man of humble background and apparently even humbler intellect (have you tried to read Mein Kampf?) emerged to proclaim that Divine Providence had chosen him to lead Germany back to a place of Honor and prominence in the world, which was their rightful place among nations.  Too late, the German people found out that what this really meant was to crush the rest of Europe and as much of the world as possible under the jackboot of Nazi rule...and the vast shame of being the perpetrators of the Holocaust.

So, as you watch his antics, and see his audience of followers swell, ask yourself where all of this is headed. Pay attention to it. Take it seriously.  The lessons of history are harshest when you realize that you were warned and still remained passive.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Moon of the Shroom....

Where we walk in the woods each morning there are TONS of mushrooms, and they really come into their own this time of year.  Beginning in mid-August and through September, one can see easily over 20 varieties if they are looking as they walk.  There is a couple I see there often, Pat and Mike...and their dog Max.  Pat is an amateur mycologist who photographs fungi and knows all of their latin names.  I am doubtful that I could ask her a question about mushrooms that would stump her.

Yesterday, I ran into them as we were headed in and they were headed out.  I brought up the topic of mushrooms and Pat said it is shaping up to be a very good year for them.  So, as I walked on, bearing this in mind, I scanned the forest floor for fungi of all sorts.  Last year I came across a variety known as 'turkey tails', which seem to grow all during the warmer months and are very beautiful as they go about consuming dead branches and tree-trunks.  Just the other day I happened on some fungi that were growing smack dab in the middle of the trail--telling me that they had basically sprung up overnight--and the cluster was exactly the color of 'cheese puffs'.  I didn't feel inclined to give them the taste test, however.  Pat told me that this variety is called the "lobster mushroom", and it IS edible depending on what and where it is growing. As she said this, I was mentally crossing it off my list of possible forest treats. But, it did look a lot like cheese puffs.

As I walked on one of our favorite trails, I saw a beautifully formed, large snow-white mushroom.  "Snow white", being just my descriptor for them, not an allusion to Disney's character.  There was a smallish capped shroom the other day that was British soldier red...and as it enlarged it became a warm, beautiful brown.  I also came across some large flat-topped fungi that are dead ringers for pancakes....until you turn them over, of course.  We need a little rain to 'plump up' the duff of the forest floor and sprout a new crop.  My wife gave me several mushroom books last year, but I will not know as much as Pat does anytime soon.

Mostly, I just like seeing the amazing diversity of these living plant-forms that burst forth in a day, and then either get eaten by the critters, or simply dissipate a day or two later. 

Thursday, August 12, 2010


In my last post I mentioned that we put over 70 million tons of carbon dioxide into the earth's atmosphere.....EVERY DAY.  I found myself wondering how to picture that.  I mean, how big is a ton of carbon dioxide in its gaseous state?  Well, it would actually occupy 556.2 cu. meters. Okay, how big is that?

556.2 cubic meters equals 727.5 cubic YARDS, and that is 19,642.5 cubic FEET. Okay, how big is that?  To help myself visualize that I looked up the volume of an Olympic-sized swimming pool.  It is 648,000 gallons, and that equals 86, 625 cu. ft.  That would mean that about 4.41 tons of gaseous carbon-dioxide would FILL AN OLYMPIC SWIMMING POOL. 

Since we are emitting 70,000,000 tons of CO2 daily......we are putting approximately the volume of 16 MILLION Olympic pools into the air.......every single day.  Since a regulation pool is 164.5' x 82' and has an area of approximately: 14,965 sq.ft. or 1662.8 sq. yds.  simple arithmetic tells me that we are covering an area of over 116 BILLION sq. the depth of over 6 feet.....with gaseous carbon dioxide.

I still just cannot get my head around it.  Okay, there are 4,840 square yards in an acre.  Therefore each ton of CO2 (at 1662.8 sq. yards) covers a little over a third of an acre, i.e. .343 of an acre.

So, 70 million tons of CO2 covers about 24 million acres to a depth of six feet. I grew-up in New Jersey, and that state has only 5,586,560 acres, or 8,728 sq. mi.  And so, we're releasing into the atmosphere a volume between four and five times the size of New Jersey (six feet deep) every day.

And, I STILL just cannot get my head around that......or the idea that there are some people out there who have the temerity and even the pure audacity to think we can make this massive and steady input of a 'greenhouse gas' into the climate of this not so huge planet we live on and that it will not have any effect. 

It would be better to simply admit that a person who thinks this way is just hiding under a cloak of simplicity and ignorance....than to think that they are actually intelligent and simply refuse to accept the stark power of the Truth that is confronting us:  WE NEED TO CHANGE WHAT WE ARE DOING TO THIS PLANET, OR BE PREPARED TO ACCEPT THAT WE ARE PLAYING A CENTRAL ROLE IN OUR OWN EXTINCTION.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Truth and Denial.......

This is a response to a comment on the last entry here.  I am not going to attack the person who took the time to share her opinion.  I am glad she did.  I hope that she will not take this as either an attack or an insult to her intelligence, but the fact is we are living in a world--as previously noted on this blog--where Truth (yes, with a capital 'T') is becoming progressively more ephemeral and endangered.  And that is a problem.....for all of us.

In order for a society to be a society it must have communication among its constituents.  If the members of it cannot speak to each other and hear each other, that society will eventually tear itself apart.  There are many examples of this: China 1927, Russia 1917, Germany 1871, and again in 1933.  Japan in the 1920s and a host of smaller countries, including many so-called Islamic Republics.  What these times and places all have in common is that some people had ideas of how things should be, and others disagreed.  An inability to communicate and rectify the divergent views of the citizens resulted in revolutions in which the stronger element simply took charge and in many cases imprisoned or simply eliminated those who disagreed with them.

In every case the opposing forces had to resort to armed subjugation or conflict instead of using the power of communication to find a solution that at least partially met all parties needs.  When communication breaks down history tells us that armed conflict and tyranny almost always result.  Mao Zedong himself said, "All power flows from the barrel of a gun."  And, ultimately, he was right.  But, it is never a painless or wholly satisfactory process or result.

So, when people start to say, "This is true because it is what I believe," or, "This is the Truth because I say it is," or worse yet, "This is the Truth, and if you don't agree, you don't belong here," trouble is here and things are about to get nasty.  Truth is NOT a relative concept.  Nothing is 'true' because you want it to matter how badly.  Truth in earth-bound affairs is based on a collection of FACTS, not opinions.  Truth is almost always able to be established in concrete situations by gathering information about it.

For example: a murder case where there are multiple suspects, definitely a body and a crime that are a reality.  Truth is this: someone was killed.  It wasn't a suicide or an accident.  Suspect A was in Siberia at the time--we have proof of this, so he didn't do it.  Suspect B doesn't have an alibi, and does have plenty of motivation to have done it, but there's no immediately apparent forensic evidence to prove it.  There are two other possible suspects.  At this point, a very methodical investigation works on building a body of evidence, actual FACTS.....things that are physical proof of something.  And, eventually, all the evidence seems to point to the Truth.  A trial is held and the testimonies of witnesses and accused are considered, but the real proof of guilt lies mostly with  THE FACTS.

Well, there has been a very long and painstaking investigation--which still continues--and there has been a vast mountain of evidence collected and analyzed.  The Planet herself is the strongest witness...the 'victim' in this case.  And, the jury is back, has been back for several years now.   The verdict is overwhelmingly clear: the massive amounts of carbon-dioxide that we pump into the earth's atmosphere, i.e. 70 MILLION TONS EVERY DAY, are indeed causing a shift in the earth's climate.  Scientists all over the globe know that this is TRUE.  It is a scientifically established FACT.

So, people who still wish it weren't so, who still insist on claiming that all of the documented changes that are taking place are "....just cyclical and normal", are making the truth conform to their own viewpoint.  They are denying and ignoring and obfuscating because they don't like the real TRUTH.

The problem with this is.......that it just causes clouds of indecision, a lack of determination, a distinct lack of willpower with regard to taking any measures necessary to steer the planet AWAY FROM DISASTER.  People who think and act in this way are pushing the accelerator instead of leaning on the brakes.....and I submit that this is just about the worst thing a person can do if they really care about the future of not just their own kids and grandkids.....but the entire sphere of life that inhabits the planet Earth.

Do you really want to be playing at doing something so mindless and counter-productive when our future hangs in the balance?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Can't We All Just Get Along?

Ah, the pleading refrain of Rodney King.  You remember him: the fellow who was caught on video being beaten half-to death by LAPD, way back in '91.  Hardly seems possible that almost twenty years have passed since he uttered his plea.

So, here we are at the end of the first decade of the 21st century and we seem to be back-sliding somehow.  I read that Komosolskaya Pravda, a major newspaper in Russia, published an article blaming the record making heat-wave in  Russia this summer on--get this--an American weather weapon.  Yes, a super weapon of such capability that we can now control the weather in other parts of the world.  And, of course, we would choose to do this--according to Pravda--because we're intent on short-stopping Russian economic growth.

When I read this I was stunned, not by the idea that such a weapon might exist--I would bet the ranch that it does not--but by the fact that major spokespeople in Russia would think that we would target them, if it did.  Somehow, the mindset has become perverted to the point of needing to blame us for what is actually an outgrowth of global warming.  That isn't mere conjecture on my part; numerous scientific sources are citing the anomalous heat of the summer of 2010 as such.

I was relieved to read that President Medvedev himself  issued a statement to the effect that the Russian government knows this is climate-change related and that the U.S. is not responsible.  This is actually a hopeful sign, because the Russians have not admitted that global warming was either real or caused by human activities prior to this point in time.

But, my initial reaction to the Pravda article was, "What is going on here?  Are they watching Fox too?"  It is just so far out there, so paranoid and conspiratorial to get from a rational look at the ever vaster volume of science that supports global "The Ameircans are doing it with a secret super-weapon."  Wha?

Of course, the irony in all of this is that, more than anybody else--although the Chinese are doing their level best to pollute as much as they possibly can--we ARE 'doing it'.  But, we're just doing it the old, hard way, with massive energy consumption, ignoring most of what we could do to lessen our impact on the planet. Besides, what makes the Russians think that a country that watches Fox News and thinks it is real, could be smart enough to make a super weapon to manipulate the weather?  If we could really do is also likely that we could learn how to behave in a way that wasn't destroying our host planet.

And, I see no sign that we're there.....or even really headed there with any sense of urgency or responsibility.