Saturday, April 26, 2014

Our Brains Circling Down the Drain: PBS, Then and Now

Watching Wednesday night PBS, "science night" in 2014
is "science lite". Decades ago, we watched more serious
physics programs like "Key to the Universe", several hours
long, with Nigel Calder, only one example. Sir David
Attenborough may not produce and narrate many more
future nature series. (All his superior and endearing/enduring
body of work is still available at PBS online and elsewhere,
thankfully.) Some cable offerings might delight us still, although
none I've seen can compete with PBS at its best.

Free Wednesday nights now feature "Your Inner Fish"
with way too much Dr. Neil Shubin and his university's
scenery, way too little of the actual science. [--Damn
all this dumbing down vanity video!] Don't even talk about
"Nova Science Now" with Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson and
David Pogue acting far too immature (silly-cute), again,
at the expense of the science, given programming and
watchers' time constraints.

"Nova" is funded by a Koch Industries brother, so I
won't bother contributing to PBS until Koch disappears
from the credits.

Meanwhile, I can feel my brain circling down a
metaphorical drain, viewing various vanity science
showpieces showcasing certain profs.

Geography AND History Are Almost Destiny...

Unless many brave and intelligent souls militate publicly against
the outrages and mistakes of the past. To wit: The Monroe
Doctrine has hubris written all over it. Current and future U.S.
presidents can't rely on that old, imperialistically controlling
document, morally, any more than Russia rightfully reinstitutes
the Soviet Union by fiat and/or devious ambiguation.

The charges and counter charges now flying back and forth
between big bear and exceptional eagle are dangerous,
dragging us all back by degrees to a past MOST do
not want. The U.S. and Russia are attempting to mold
the entire planet in their competing yet flawed images.

Get gumption now, please, people of any ability:
get organized, create an indisputably LARGE cohort,
focus on a few important goals, and present them
FIRMLY to both Russia and the U.S.

The lives you save just might include your own. 

Meanwhile, Santayana, make room for Nostradamus;
you two may as well spin together, joint outrage,
one grave. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Travelers, Be Wary of the Ferry--at Home and Abroad

...Because many of them have serious design flaws, to say
nothing of the totally inadequate safety protocol/information
culture.  Too top-heavy and high in the water, aggravated in
some instances by having too many cars parked too high up
atop many of these working ferries causes some of the very
same sinkings of more than a few cruise liners.

Physics is fundamental; we WERE to have learned that in
school, but if not, ignorance is not bliss, so learn how it
controls your every waking hour, in cars, ships, boats,
motorcycles, building and architecture. (You can't expect
your luxury home to survive long term if it is perched on
a mountain made almost solely of mudslide-prone earth,
look out California!)  

Please, I beg you: check out the design and safety culture
of any ferry you may wish to take. As we have all sadly
seen, many lives can be lost when  we are too trusting.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A World-Famous Philosopher Has Never Stopped Spinning in His Grave

...why on Earth should he have? It is difficult to understand how
world leaders can continue to react in the same dangerously,
murderously tired ways they have always done--knee jerks
BY JERKS. George Santayana cautioned that those not
learning the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them:
so here we go again...the armed skirmishes in the Ukraine
have devolved into violent clashes with deaths, about three
so far, but it's early days.

There are two solutions that might make sense I'll offer here:

(1) Let the Ukraine become two states, divided by the
Dnieper River which does cut the country in half, call them
East Ukraine and West Ukraine. Let the East U align itself
with Russia, which seems to be what that region wants,
let West U line up with Western factions like the European
Union.  Not NATO, however: I don't see the Ukraine
anywhere near the Atlantic.

(2) Perhaps Russia could remove its troops in a face-
saving manner, all in charge could begin to relax,
and allow the Ukraine to line up with BOTH
Russian-related interests and European ones, as it is
literally located  between both.

Geography is destiny, someone said once. Being
mindful of such situational realities, can't we all
just get along? (so right, Rodney King). If we
can't, more murders, mayhem and destruction are
inevitable in a world that lost approximately 40%
of its financial worth during the Great Recession
2007 and counting.

Meanwhile, George Santayana continues his
graveyard spins....

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Heap O' Hubris (-and apparently, ignorance!)

U.S. sailors are suing Japan because they were
exposed to radiation during a rescue mission
to the stricken Fukushima disaster area. SURE,
why not kick a dog when it's down, WOW,
wotta brave who do (should) the sailors
suppose CAUSED this disaster?  Why, the
USA's GE Mark I and II reactor designs, sold
to a not quite up to speed technical society,
our former enemies, the Japanese--sold to an
island people subject to numerous earthquakes 
and tsunamis...

If the Japanese were really smart, they would
countersue re: being sold a pig in a poke,
faulty reactor designs by GE. Smart people
all around the world AND here at home
know/have known the GE Mark series are
flawed--GE engineers knew it in the
SEVENTIES when most reactors were
being built. Certain Japanese engineers
realized it as well, but ego and big-business
thrills often outweigh good sense; good,
innocent people are actually killed when
dangers are dismissed/overlooked.

Our sailors should sue the U.S. government,
but wouldn't dare, as employees; probably
some federal law exists to forbid such a

A heapin' helpin' o' hubris (aka willfull
stupidity) going back to the late 60s and
the seventies are at work here, to the
detriment of all.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

USA/USAID, Stay Out of Cuba! We Can't Control the World...

and we'd better stop trying. Cuba is an independent
nation, deal with it; 1962's Cuban Soviet missile threat
is not a current issue, so stay outta there--do you want
more problems like those we have with our not-quite-a
state, Puerto Rico? If this nation were so on top of the
many myriad concerns we've had here, why did it take
sooo long for Washington DC's residents to get full voting
rights? --Come ON. Democrats and Liberals, why aren't
you (figuratively) baying for blood as your peers with the
same philosophical inclinations did during Reagan's little
adventure (actually Ollie North's) in 1980s'
Central America?

Cowardice married to presumption has trumped good
sense yet again: USAID, authorized by -?someone?-
has been broadcasting a Twitter-like program called
ZunZuneo to Cuba--COVERTLY. Just as anonymous
screedsters can say whatever they wish, because there
are presumably no accountability repercussions attached
to withholding one's identity, some in  authority want
to control Cubans and their political destiny by secretly
propagandizing....shame! Go through the Voice of
America, my dad's old employer, for any honest,
practical power of persuasion.

Check out the Platt Amendment; decide objectively,
if any American can, whether we have our collective
heads screwed on correctly regarding Cuba. For
those who don't know, 70 and more years ago Cuba
was near enough, yet far enough away for philandering
U.S. Senators and other "big shots" to escape their
dumpy, out of shape wives, having affairs with young
Cuban females...disgusting. (If you require sexual
variety, don't marry!)

I'm a Brazilian-Cuban American; I was in Havana
for several weeks in 1955 before Castro took the
island, follow events there and the antics of the
Miami Cubans as well. Because of the Spanish
American War (1898) we became occupiers
of the place...can't we let it go?? The scenario
is pathetic, reminding me sharply of Putin with
the Crimea, using his old KGB mindset.

Two shaky world powers, Russia and the USA,
with lack of control internally must externally
bully two little places in proximity. Memo
to Obama and Putin: this is NOT the way to
maintain super power status, count on it.

USA/USAID, stay out of Cuba, we are not
the world;

Russia, leave the Ukraine alone,
aren't you big enough right now?

--YOU aren't the world EITHER.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Illinois Is Ill Indeed: Quinn, Madigan and Cullerton Ignore Our State Constitution

No court case or informed objections from the public stayed the
illegal hands of the top three Illinois Democrats with respect to the
Illinois Constitution's STIPULATED requirements for content
in the yearly governor's projected budget for the next year:

Quinn proposed a five year plan (-borrowing from the old
Soviet Union's five year plan budget projections, perhaps,
which failed, by the way?) for 2015 and beyond. Consulting
our state's constitution,  Article VIII--Finance, Section 2.,
State Finance, Subsection (a) yields the following important

o The budget address to the General Assembly must be for the
   next budget year ONLY, (-2015).
o The sitting governor must provide estimated revenue receipts.
o Said governor must detail the plans for expenditures and
   obligations for EVERY DEPARTMENT, authority, public
   corporation, etc.
o Proposed expenditures shall not exceed funds estimated to
   be available by the General Assembly during that year.  

The Illinois Budget Speech on March 26th, 2014 fulfilled
NONE of these legally mandated requirements. Instead,
Quinn trotted out our commonly-felt fears about education,
needed services, etc. It was only a pleading, pathetic
political speech.  That is a no-go theorem for anyone
interested in obeying the law...which the top three
democrats clearly demonstrated they were NOT.

Harking back to the televised Joe McCarthy (R) hearings
of old, a lone, past voice of reason accused:
"Have you no shame, sir, none at all?"  That this is now
an illegal democrat rather than a republican underscores
how universal and deep the desire is to remain in
the spotlight--graceless and problematic though
such wishes often prove to be.

Pat wants to be remain governor; I understand. But
Quinn's quite able to give this exact speech on the
campaign trail, which is what he should have done...


Illinois is ill indeed: parse the state name, and
what do we find? Ill in noise. Can we never
overcome such seeming sad destiny?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

No One Gains as Ukraine's Pain Continues:

Crimeans want to return to Russia's hegemony; apparently
have succeeded, for the moment; the "interim" Ukrainian
government in Kiev is demonstrably shaky; Russian troops,
many thousands strong, purportedly are massed on Ukraine's
eastern border with Russia; Putin says he has no plans to
go in, unless "Russian speakers in Ukraine request it".
(--Sounds a lot like Pres. Kennedy and Ngo Dinh Diem,
early '60s, no?  We all know how THAT turned out....)

We do, luckily, seem to have some conciliatory negotiators
in the persons of Russia's Lavrov and the USA's Kerry, still
meeting and talking in places like "neutral" Paris. (I fervently
hope this is not just window dressing or the usual dog and
pony show...)  

We're in an extremely delicate, internationally involved moment,
including energy distribution across many European national
borders, supposed competition for allying Ukraine with either
Russia or NATO, posturing by the two greatest nuclear weapons
powers, etc. Since I don't really believe much actually ever lands
atop the dustbin of history permanently, I fear the "Cold" War
is returning, Putin's KGB background being what it is, and
Obama's "exceptionalism" comments being what they are.
(-A pity: in his first term, our president did what he could,
traveled to mend fences; now he seems more like Bush II,
"we are the world, the rest of y'all are jest onlookers".)

The Russians have some points against us on their side, sadly.
How has The Monroe Doctrine ever stood scrutiny as morally
just policy? Absolutely available to anyone with computer
access and history books  is the sorry saga of United Fruit in
Central America, the whole western coast of which the USA
practically owned...look up General Walker and the Panama
Canal as well. So again, why our outraged sensibilities over
the Crimea, Ukraine's allegiances, and Russian putative
power expansions/extensions? --As if we really have any
control what happens beyond our own borders, even
within them, at times.

If any nation's leaders WERE honest, they would admit
publicly that their countries have shameful entries in pages
of their own history books.  No one will profit from Ukraine's
present painful moment, absent extraordinarily deft diplomatic