Who reports the news?

Long ago in a time, in a world where messages traveled along on the backs of horses and letters sometimes took weeks or months to get where they were going, the world was communication challenged. Because of this, news of any kind was difficult to obtain and scarce. Of course, at the time, no one could see the incredible future that was quickly approaching.

Because people have a basic need of knowing what is happening in their community, the natural need for small hometown newspapers caused them to sprout up in many small towns. These small independent niches of information kept track of town politics, land sales and of course, deaths. Occasionally they would take on corrupted politics or evil business but generally they just kept the neighbors up to speed on local and, the occasional, national news.

So you might ask, why do we need local papers? What purpose do they serve? Maybe we need to look at this issue another way. Maybe we need to look at our local paper as a county treasure rather than just a source of local news. Many people complain about our paper because it’s not the New York Times or the Washington Post. Well folks it’s not the NYT or the WP. It is the Hampshire Review which has been serving our community as a non-corporate business for over 190 years! People like to enshrine buildings or memorialize places, why not do the same for our local historic newspaper before it succumbs to financial woes?

Ok, so I go online to look at the subscription possibilities and what a mess! It was very difficult to find a place to sign up to have the paper sent to my house! There is no decent explanation of what services are available. There is no package deal. Every publication I ever had gave me free internet access to their archives. So, we need to work on this aspect of my plan of making the Hampshire Review a local treasure and right now its web page is right out of the Cenozoic Era.

A comparable paper, the Grant County Press, charges $55/year for home delivery and online access. I think this is a good place to start.

I will finish up with this point. We as a community need to support our local paper. We need to buy the paper weekly or subscribe to the paper, it is a county treasure! The newspaper needs to meet us in the middle by including internet access with the subscription.

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What is causing the super storms in the Atlantic Ocean?

Everyone has been inundated with reports, news stories and a little bit of science warning us of the increasing catastrophic nature of climate change. The recent hurricane Dorian rambled up the east coast and behaved in ways that meteorologists could not accurately predict, destroying complete islands, and causing havoc on the mainland. The subject of climate change has again become a topic of interest to the general public. I hear people discussing whether they believe in climate change or not and I felt the need to explain one small part of what’s happening.

I think one of the most important science concepts one must understand, to have a grasp of climate change, is heat transfer, which is a driving force behind earth’s climate. A simple and easy way to understand heat is through the following model. Heat is felt because of the vibrations of molecules. The hotter something is, the faster and more energetic the movement of the molecules. Heat transfer is when those molecules bump into neighboring molecules and cause them to increase their vibrations. Of course there is a lot more science involved but the basic concept is fairly easy to understand.

Now, lets look at the way a storm is created in the Atlantic Ocean. Storms have always existed, causing pain and destruction to human civilization, and will continue to do so. The problem stems from the level of destruction these new storms have and will bring. Below is a chart of ocean temperature over the last half century.

Joules are used as a measurement of how much heat it takes to raise the temperature of a certain amount of water (or anything) a certain number of degrees. You can also use BTUs but its all the same, there is an enormous amount of heat being absorbed by the ocean! This is a result of normal solar gain and increased atmospheric temperature, which is being raised by the increased CO2 in the atmosphere that causes the air above us to capture more heat from the sun. This is much like our fellow planet Venus which is blanketed with CO2 and is almost 800 degrees F.

Water around the equator tends to be the warmest on the planet and this is where the heat, in the form of humid warm air, rises up from the ocean into the atmosphere. Because of the rotation of the earth, in a process called the Coriolis effect, the air rotates slowly as the storm begins to form. The same effect causes your toilet to rotate the way it does. Storms get their energy from the ocean surface water, as you can see from the chart above, which has increased considerably over the last 50 years. The storms act as a pressure relief valve to the ocean which is storing more heat than it feels comfortable with. The hotter the water, the more energy is released into the storm. This process has a cooling effect on the ocean because the young storm is drawing its energy from the warm water. Due to atmospheric movements, the storm will begin to follow a traditional track towards the east coast. Of course, because of the chaotic nature of the weather, the actual course of the storm will be varied at best. As the storm moves over new water, it will continue to draw heat from the ocean. If the ocean is very warm, the storm will continue to increase in size and power. The Atlantic ocean is very warm right now and will continue to spawn large powerful storms. So, if you live along the coast, be prepared for flooding almost any time of the year.

So, there you have it, a simple explanation of why these storms are getting so large. So the next time you hear someone saying that climate change is not real, you can explain to them the concept of heat transfer. Also, if they want to get involved in a discussion of who caused this problem, just tell them, who cares who caused it, its happening and effecting all coastal cities. Climate scientists world wide say that the problem is here and encroaching on our world faster than anyone predicted, so we better begin to address it or life as we know it will change.

A story about opioids

I recently watched The Weekly, a TV news show on opioids, detailing the history of this drug and how it came to be such a devastating part of American life. Below is a quick look at what The Weekly investigation found.

In 1996 a community drug counselor in a small town in Virginia, called Pennington Gap, noticed a large increase in the number of people seeking her help. They were talking about a new substance called OC’s or OXY’s that was extremely addictive. Sister Beth Davies went to her friend, the local pharmacist, and asked him what he knew about these substances. The pharmacist said that with Oxycontin, they could be witnessing the beginning of the worst drug epidemic in history! In the small peaceful town of Pennington Gap, crime began to increase, robberies were on the rise, prostitution was making its way into the streets and life would never be the same. This was one small town like many across the country that have been touched by this epidemic.

Local prosecutor, Art Van Zee, (sp?) approached Purdue Pharmaceuticals to ask them to recall the drug. Purdue stated they were outraged that people would abuse such an important drug and took no action to curtail the drug or better yet, inform the doctors and pharmacists of its dangers. In 1997 the Federal government was able to find 117 reports from almost every state stating that they were seeing very disturbing accounts of these new drugs. Purdue claimed they had seen nothing about problems with their drug before 2000. A team of prosecutors began investigating Purdue in 2002. Purdue claimed that Oxy was not addictive and would not lead to abuse. Their strategy was very similar to the cigarette companies approach in earlier times, saturating the media with false information about their drug. The key to this issue is that Purdue knew these claims were false and their own internal reports stated this! Their CEO was charged with fraud and several suits were filed against Purdue. Their response was to hire a top notch group of lawyers to be lead by the notorious Rudy Guiliano. In 2006 the justice department informed Purdue of the impending case with possible jail time for executives. With four years to prepare, the Purdue legal team was ready for the Feds. The case was presented to Justice John Brownly who took it directly to the US Justice Department in Washington, DC. Paul Pelletier, Deputy Chief of Fraud Protection at the Criminal Division felt the case had considerable merit and moved it forward in the judicial process.

In the Fall of 2006, Purdue made its final appeal behind closed doors to the Judicial Department. This is where it gets strange. A plea was submitted and a fine of $600,000,000 was assessed to Purdue. A single misdemeanor was charged to Purdue. Since it never went to trial, all the information was sealed away, safe from the public’s eyes. A judge, James P. Jones, approved the decision but was not allowed to see the information that was sealed away. Despite having to listen to a multitude of testimonials of the pain and suffering that this drug had caused, Jones approved the agreement and Purdue was free to continue to market the drug!!!

So, if you want to know why OXY is everywhere and destroying lives at a frightening rate, ask your government!!!! There are two systems of government in this country. There is one for us so when we speed in our car or fail to pay our taxes, we go to jail. There is another system of justice for the rich corporate America which allows them to take countless lives so they can make quazi-zillions of dollars. Hell, who knows, they may lock me up for writing this article….

MY 400th BLOG!

I have posted 399 blogs in the last 7 or 8 years and this one you are reading is number 400! Wow, I find it hard to believe I have written equivalent to several books on this site. I have to admit that there have been favorites. For my 400th blog I thought I might post for you a few of my favorites for you to revisit or see for the first time, enjoy.

If you have read any of my pieces you would realize that I am more spiritual than religious, but I love to think about the concept of god in its many different variations. In this blog, god comes to visit me and we discuss several different issues going on in this world. It is one of my favorites. https://streisel.wordpress.com/2013/02/16/god-stopped-by-and-chatted-with-me-the-other-day/

Since I am a man, I have a certain interest in the opposite sex. I was in a playful mood when I wrote this blog about women’s breast. I think this is also one of my favorites. https://streisel.wordpress.com/2010/12/16/an-analytical-look-at-boobies/

Of course being a teacher, I have written many articles on education but I think this is one of the best on education. https://streisel.wordpress.com/2010/03/10/how-to-fix-public-education-part-one/

And if you missed this one you should click and enjoy. Everyone loves FARTS! https://streisel.wordpress.com/2014/01/24/why-do-men-enjoy-farting/

And of course there were the more difficult topics. I was told by one reader that this was one of the best abortion articles she ever read. https://streisel.wordpress.com/2018/08/16/what-does-pro-choice-mean/

One of my early blogs which I have reposted several times is about Christmas and what it really means. https://streisel.wordpress.com/2017/12/20/a-christmas-story/

One of the most important pieces I published is about the herbicide ROUND-UP. This is a must read! https://streisel.wordpress.com/2016/08/09/monsanto-roundup-cancer-and-grass-fed-beef-is-there-a-connection/

Oh my, trying to decide which blogs to mention is very difficult. I have written on so many topics it is hard to choose. Anyway, I want to thank my many readers and I hope that some of my writings touched you a little. I have said that we are often seed planters. Planting seeds in other peoples lives and watching them grow. That is what I hope I am doing with my small attempt at writing. Again, thanks for reading my stuff!

The Age of Woman

I have witnessed so many amazing changes in our society, and in general the world, during my life that it would be hard to list them. However here are a few: changes in industrialization, the development of the computer and electronics along with so many social changes. I want to talk about a major social change that few have talked about, a change so revolutionary compared to what humanity experienced since we lived in our caves, over a million years ago, that it may have gone unnoticed by most. This change in direction will cause our society to go to places one can only imagine; I think they will be good places.

Before presenting this idea, I need to create a small platform from which I will leap. Since the beginning of humankind, males have been the dominant character in the human experiment. With his superior strength and speed, it seemed natural that the male make the important decisions in almost every situation. This being said, woman obeyed for fear of punishment or abandonment by the stronger man. As we progressed into a more sophisticated society, physical strength remained the determinant of social rank. One can see this with the preponderance of tall men in important positions. There were major exceptions (Napoleon for one) to this generalization, but overwhelmingly men in authority were taller. Many of our presidents have been tall.

This male-dominated society was moving along relatively unchallenged until World War II when women were necessary to help build machines that the men used to fight the war. Many women realized that they could do the jobs that, up to that point, were designated men’s jobs. For the status quo, this was the beginning of the end to a male-dominated society. Thus, women began to emerge from a sheltered existence to prominent positions in the world. One must realize that this humble beginning was not readily accepted by a male-controlled world and faced severe opposition in subtle and not so subtle ways. Any woman who bucked the male dominated system was characterized as a rebellious person and in some ways even ostracized by the larger society. The small number of women who stood up to their male counterparts oftentimes faced severe ridicule and were told to ‘get back to the kitchen where they belonged’. This was not an easy time to be a woman who was anxiously waiting to join the men’s club.

As most of us know, the times have radically changed, and will continue to change. Thankfully, women now hold many prominent positions in government and the corporate world. In our last presidential election we almost elected a woman president! Now I am prepared to make my leap from current dogma. I have been thinking about this idea for many years, as I watched changes take place in our world and am finally ready to make my prediction of a new order that we may all be entering.

When I speak of these following issues, it is in general terms and does not include every male or female. I am going to talk about a trend, and no doubt there are exceptions to every scenario I could present so just read to understand that this is merely a generalized statement.

I have often thought this: if women were in charge, there would be far less war. Let’s face it, we men are testosterone-driven and many times the big T gets in the way of our making good decisions. This is simply biology! We are controlled by the biological reality that men are programmed to be the aggressor, which oftentimes is expressed in sexual behavior. On the other hand, women are estrogen-powered, thus reacting less aggressively and less likely to react in stupid, inappropriate ways. So, I am beginning to imagine a woman-influenced world where peaceful settlements are the norm rather than the exception.

Increase in female college enrollment

The first time that I noticed this was in the classroom as a teacher. I began to see students electing more young ladies to be heads of clubs, and as class presidents. It was not unusual for young ladies to be trying out for the football team and dominating the top-ten grade-point average list. Over the last 40 years more ladies are attending college and graduating in unprecedented numbers. Another important attribute is learning to be outspoken! As in all social change, there has been and will be considerable resistance, but I believe in the end, if women continue to become more involved in the management of this world, we stand a better chance of surviving, and just maybe we will be a more peaceful and prosperous society.

I feel as though this constitutes the removal of a large weight from the shoulders of men. Along with the responsibility of being the decision-maker and protector always, is the realization that many of the decisions we males make are inherently inadequate or at best misguided. Of course, women are capable of making their own mistakes, but I see the female portion of our population as more thoughtful and protective of the life around them. After all, what else is there without life, and which gender is more involved in the procreation and protection of life?

Although we men are statistically stronger, faster and usually better at mathematics and music, our dominant role in the world is changing as we speak. Women tend to be more cautious and thoughtful in their decision-making. People generally do not like to hear this, but we are chemical factories with a large chemical/electrical battery running the show. Our behaviors are a complex mixture of millions of years of evolution, genetics, hormones, environment and social norms. As our world evolves, the need for strong, fast men is diminishing, clearing the way for a more feminine and peaceful existence. Despite the fact I am a man, I whole-heartily accept my new role as an equal partner in shaping the destiny of mankind. We have run the show alone for several million years, and the results are not impressive: perpetual war, hunger, corruption, mass extinction and the possible environmental collapse of the world. It is time for a change in the command structure. We had our chance, and now it is time to try it another way. GO LADIES!

The death of the work place

Prior to Mr. Henry Ford, I do believe that the work place was part of a person’s life that was more enjoyable. Although many of the jobs were dirty and difficult, they provided a sense of accomplishment and often times the responsibility to complete, in a satisfactory and rewarding way, some particular, essential task. Since men made up a majority of the workplace until World War II, women worked hard keeping the homefront in order and raising the kids. Both partners worked hard, long hours and they gained some satisfaction for a particular job being well done. The war came and women were needed to build machines of destruction while the men gave their lives in the war effort. The combination of Henry Ford’s factories, the war, lawyers and the acceleration of the industrial and technological revolution was the perfect storm in terms of changing the work place. Ford’s automotive factories attempted to turn humans into robots; the war created an environment that people accepted this work place as the norm, lawyers began creating a hierarchy of legalese; the industrial revolution offered a rosy world of the future and technology dreamed of a world of untold riches and leisure. As I write this, parts of it sound tempting and maybe good but as in most everything, the proof is in the details.

So, lets look at the modern workplace. The first and most damaging is the binder of rules that usually accompany a new job. There are some jobs where the employee could be fired for being minutes late! In many cases there are rules in these documents that contradict other rules. Gone is the word ‘common sense’ and discussion of the issue, we simply have to find the rule in the book and take the appropriate stated action. More important than a rule book, is the loss of responsibility. No one is responsible. Every decision must be passed up the chain of command to some chap sitting in an office who may have no idea what is actually going on at the job site. This is because no one will make decisions due to fear of being sued or fired. A good boss gives his or her employees the power to make decisions and once they are made, backs them up. If the employee makes repeated bad decisions and talking with them has no effect on their decision process, fire them or move them to a job more suited to their talents. We have become so scared of being sued. Almost every decision made at any level must ask the question, ‘ARE WE GOING TO BE SUED?’. When some moron orders HOT coffee and spills it on himself while driving a car and sues the vendor for making the coffee too hot, AND WINS!, I feel confident in my assessment that we have lost our way. I once met a European who asked me why there were so many guard rails on the roads? He said there are far fewer side rails in his country. His feeling was that if people did not have the sense to drive reasonably on the road, they should not be driving. There is no arguing that making things safer is a good idea, but at what point do we say enough is enough. There must be a point when the cost of sanctifying every possible stupid thing people can do will simply not be cost effective.

Sorry, I got off topic, but it is related in a way. We cannot make rules that guarantee everyone’s safety all the time! We cannot have workplaces that work perfectly all the time. We cannot make rules that cover every possible situation. The world, and more importantly, we, are not perfect in any way. We make mistakes and sometimes bad stuff happens. If you believe that you can create a world where bad stuff never happens, good luck with that! In fact, it is the chances that make life interesting! Its the chaos in the universe that keeps us from falling asleep. Just imagine a perfect world if you can. I’m pretty sure it would be quite boring!

Crooked lines

I know it’s just lines on a road. The new road work done in our community to widen and create pull-offs to help avoid accidents is a blessing. I have one problem with this project. After working on this stretch of road for over a year and creating a new road addition which is quite impressive, they hired a challenged person to paint the road lines.

This is looking east bound

I have to admit my mind has enjoyed creating images of a man driving the paint truck down the road in a haphazard fashion. Just picture the machine weaving in and out as it placed the paint on the road. Now, I realize there may be some rhyme or reason to this application of crooked lines on the road, but it has escaped me for the time being.

This is looking west bound

Of course you know that I would not write about this unless I saw some larger, deeper meaning in the crooked road of life. Pun intended. So, why are the lines crooked? What was going through the worker’s mind when he was placing these lines on the road?

If you have talked to anyone who is involved in the hiring of people in today’s world they will quickly tell you that it is VERY HARD to find hard working, competent people to fill the jobs. I assume the same is true for the line painting company. I will not discuss the possible reasons for this chaotic application of paint to the road but I will tell you the thoughts in my mind are numerous.. I do not remember in my life, road lines as crooked as these. I know it is a stretch, but these lines are a very small sign of our times. Its only a matter of time until the roads are built crooked as well, and then you won’t laugh at me…and then the buildings, and then who knows what else. Maybe we will elect a carny to be president…

Memorial Day

Today is a very sad day for me. It saddens me to think of the countless men and women who have died in war during the history of my country. It digs at my heart when I see veterans of war disfigured, or crippled or mentally and socially destroyed from PTSD. Even today there was a report that the rate of cancer in soldiers from our recent wars is skyrocketing. How many families have had the misfortune of learning that a father, mother, brother, sister or any relative has been killed in one of our many conflicts?

Very few of us realize that our country has been at war almost 222 years out of it’s 239 years of existence. That means we have enjoyed less than 20 years of peace! Our country began with a fight against the indigenous Native American population. Our country’s quest for expansion led to the death of nearly 160 million Native Americans! To date we have lost over 1 million soldiers in war!

Yellow is the time we were not engaged in war

The question, “WHY?”, begs to be asked. I am afraid the answer is not for God and country, but GREED! Could any of us fathom how much profit is made due to military involvement? I am sure the number is staggering! Behind the politics and patriotism is what is referred to as THE WAR MACHINE which flourishes during times of conflict. During war almost everybody is employed, making bombs, airplanes, war ships and creating new technologies to destroy the enemy. During war the rich become richer.

Several years ago I drove a tour bus in a procession through the Arlington cemetery. As I drove through the 642 acres of countless tombstones, the tears rolled down my cheek as I contemplated the death and misery associated with all those stones. It’s time to stop the killing! It’s time to lay down our weapons. It’s time to listen to what Jesus told us, live in peace.

Thoughts about cursing

Have you ever spent time wondering about the nature of human cussing? I’m sitting here eating lunch at McDonald’s and for reasons unbeknownst to me, I started thinking about cussing. Not that I had an urge to cuss or anything like that, but I’m just wondering why we do it. I hear people of all ages cussing all the time, and of course I let one slip occasionally, after all, I am a people. Folks like to distinguish between certain words like darn and dam and various other words but I think the act of cussing is much deeper than that. I constantly hear people using words like freaking and we all know it’s just a couple of letters away from the real cuss word. So, to cuss is not so much about others perception of you, but more about what in our brains makes us want to use words that might offend other people. If the highly religious Rev. Bill says darn, everyone in the congregation gasps in surprise, but if a raunchy comedian says a whole string of expleted-deleted words we are not phased and hardly notice the language used. If Rev. Bill says darn and feels like he said a bad word, in his mind he is cussing. Nowadays it is not unusual to hear a five year old with no idea of what they are even saying, yelling out the f word with virtually no response from the parent. No doubt the words used in cussing evolve and we continually search for words that truly express our anger or frustration or to just get someone’s attention. I remember when the word “shit” or “dam” were never used on TV, those days passed many years ago. On regular network TV the cussing vocabulary has expanded greatly and there are ways to imply that you are using other unacceptable words. HBO has literally no restrictions on language and is the place to go if you would like to expand your cussing vocabulary.

To pull this together, I think we may be the only creatures on the planet that do cuss. Think about it, when your cat sticks it’s foot in a mouse trap, it just screams out. Maybe that is cat cussing..