Natures hammer

If one travels far enough into space, the earth appears like a small blue ball floating, as if dangling from a string.  If we watch for a long enough time, we will notice that it is turning slowly beneath the sun’s rays.  In the background we may see the sun, a large yellow ball shinning brighter than anything we have ever seen.  From this vantage point, our Earth looks like a peaceful place to live.  The tranquil blue ocean is sometimes covered with fluffy clouds. Mountain peaks with glorious white caps reflect the incoming solar radiation.  I think one of the astronauts likened it to a beautiful blue, green and white marble.  To a passing alien vessel this might look like a serene, quiet place to settle, and most of the time it is.  As the inhabitants of this tiny world, we might be able to tell the alien a few good stories.  Recently our world has shown us what she is capable of.  Most folks do not see our planet as a dynamic and ever-changing place.

For us, the inhabitants of this world, we occasionally see a different side of mother Earth.  Much of the time things are reasonably peaceful but sometimes, as if to remind us that we are just tenants on this planet, Mother Nature raises her hammer and lets fly with a heavy blow. In the grander scheme of things, continents come and go, islands pop up and erode away, civilizations pass like the seasons, mountains push up and crumble over time and species, like us, are as transient as a sand castle on a beach.

It is almost comical when one listens to engineers declare that a particular device or structure has been built to withstand nature’s fury.  The people on the Titanic were told they were on an indestructible ship.  The oil platform in the gulf was built to withstand hurricanes and avoid possible explosions; the nuclear reactors in Japan were designed to withstand monstrous earthquakes and tsunamis.  So here we are today, on the back end of one of the largest oil spills in history, and nature just leveled Japan with a 9.0 quake which turned the Japanese atomic reactors into one of the most serious radioactive disasters in the history of man.  How long will it take us to learn to bow humbly bow before the awesome power of nature and realize that there is nothing that can stand up to nature when she unleashes her might.

When I taught science I would sometimes use this analogy: If the earth were a grain of sand on a beach, the ocean would repeatedly destroy us with each wave that struck the beach.  Our solar system is a grain of sand in the universe.  I wonder if the universe even knows if we are here.  One astronomical event, be it a meteor nailing us in the kidneys or our sun having a bad ‘hair day’ or a relatively close star deciding to go nova, at this point our home becomes a cinder and we are in deep do-do.

I am just thankful for each glorious day that the universe gives me and enjoy watching the sun pass overhead, the clouds glide peacefully by and the sound of the birds who tell me that spring is here.  I realize that all the things I build will someday rejoin the earth and my time on this planet will no longer be evident.  That is the way of the universe.

The little folk

I think it is important  that we, the little people, understand fully our lot in life.  It is our job, as a group, to keep our country working.

Let me explain what I mean by “little people.”  We are the folks who mine the coal, provide medical, teach the children, patrol the streets, defend our constitution, fight our wars, entertain the masses and everything else that the very wealthy do not want to do. As we become a society with a huge and ever-increasing gap between the very rich and the rest of us.  It is

harder for us, the little folk, to comprehend the life-style of the top one-tenth of a percent of our population. When thinking of rich people, I think Bill Gates comes to many people’s mind.  I do not believe that Bill is the kind of rich person I am referring to.  His is new money, not old.  This is somewhat  like moving to a small town. You may hold public office, do community work, attend church but will never be considered a local.  That takes time.  The very rich were born to money and never really experienced the world as we know it.  They often hide in the shadows making decisions about the direction of the world around them with little common contact with that world.

This is my list of indicators that may signal that a person is very rich:

* has difficulty deciding which yacht he want to use.

* has more cars than they could ever drive but seldom drives himself

* has several houses in various parts of the world

* is not sure where their money came from

* has never cooked a meal for himself

* has someone picks out his clothes for purchase and wear

* has no money in his wallet and perhaps no wallet to carry it in.

* is not sure how much income he makes yearly or his total net worth

If you find yourself answering ‘yes’ to several of these, you may consider yourself  very wealthy. My sincere congratulations!

Health care and abortion

I am so tired of hearing complaints about the new health care system! Repeatedly I hear people referring to “Obama care” as some evil entity that is going to bankrupt our country when, in fact, the new system is lessening the burden on the American people, reduce profits of the insurance companies and increase coverage for all Americans.  But this is not the main point of my article. The right-wing of this country has decided that they are going to do anything in their power to dismantle the new health care system. I could perhaps understand this if their only concern was controlling the budget.  Couple this with the elimination of abortion, and I see a major contradiction. How is it that a group of people could be so protective of an unborn fetus’ rights but so uninterested in children’s health and well-being after being born?  I believe that the sanctity of life extends from the beginning of life (whenever you decide that is) to death.  At the risk of repeating myself, our country spends more for medical care but gets less care than any other country in the world while many of us have no insurance at all.

The above forces us to address one of the most thorny problems of our time.  Steven Levitt, a noted professor of economics at the University of Chicago, author, and student of human behavior, suggest that the reason crime decreased in the 90’s was that almost 20 years earlier abortion was legalized by Roe V. Wade.  According to Levitt, when all these children were not born, because parents reached the conclusion that they were unable to properly raise a child, the crime rate dropped.  He hypothesized that when children are born into situations that do not lend themselves to good parenting and proper values, society suffers as these children reach adult age.  With that said, it is important to state that everyone is anti-abortion when it comes down to the basic idea, of ending a life, but sometimes we have to make extremely difficult decisions, which is something we Americans are not very good at.  Abortion is very rarely the first choice of a woman or a man but faced with the dilemma of raising a child, are forced to make an extremely difficult decisions.  Sometimes we have to decide if we have the means and stable circumstances to bring a child into the world.  There are over six billion people on earth, and the population is growing exponentially, this will put our population between nine and ten billion people  in 2050, baring a major disaster .  As the inhabitants of this fragile planet, we have to be caretakers or it will no longer be our lovely home!