Friday, June 23, 2017

WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?

I recently saw a rerun of a TV program on the Meaning of Life by famous physicist Stephen Hawking (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJlNIWylQQ4.).

I have thought about this question a great deal and have decided that the meaning of human life is that we are a gigantic experiment by Nature to see if an animal capable of rational thought can survive, and I believe the jury is still out.

I say it is a gigantic experiment not because human being are so abundant, though considering our physical size, we are, but because of our ability to drive other animals and plants to extinction by various means, even live in hostile environments with the invention of clothes and discovery of fire, and have an effect on the surface temperature of the Earth.  We invented agriculture to have the ability to maintain so many billions of people living on Earth.  We have invented destructive items that theaten our very existence, such as the atom bomb, which is why the jury is still out.

While our ancestors have been around for about six million years, the modern form of humans only evolved about 200,000 years ago. Civilization as we know it is only about 6,000 years old, and industrialization started in the earnest only in the 1800s. While we’ve accomplished much in that short time, it also shows our responsibility as caretakers for the only planet we live on right now.*

While humans being have been around for 6 million years, sounds like a long time, there are many animals that have lived far longer: Sturgeons have been around nearly 200 m.y. (million years) (but we may drive them to extinction), Lampreys and Coelacanths have been around about 360 m.y., Horseshoe Crab has survived for 445 m.y., Jellyfish 505 m.y., and the record goes to the Sponge that has been around for 769 m.y.  Yes, human beings have a long way to go to compete with animals with the longest histories.**

Also see : Global Housekeeping:The Challenge Is Issued (1990) and Is The Atmosphere An Infinite Sewer?***

* https://www.universetoday.com/38125/how-long-have-humans-been-on-earth/
** https://mom.me/pets/17976-12-oldest-animal-species-earth/
*** http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2014/01/global-housekeeping-challenge-is-issued.html
http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2014/02/is-atmosphere-infinite-sewer.html

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

PROBLEMS WITH NEW VEHICLES - 2017

A list has been prepared of the number of problems owners have expressed per 100 vehicles by J.D. Power and Asso..  Given below are the top 10 best and the 10 worst:*

BEST (10)

Kia (72)
Genesis (77)
Porsche (78)
Ford (86)
Ram (86)
BMW (88)
Chevrolet (88)
Hyundai (88)
Lincoln (92)
Nissan (93)

WORST (10)

Infiniti (107)
Jeep (107)
Subaru (113)
Audi (115)
Mazda (125)
Land Rover (131)
Mitsubishi (131)
Volvo (134)
Jaguar (148)
Fiat (163)

Isn't it a surprise that Kia is #1?  But even so that is 72 complaints/100 vehicles that seems high.  Famous BMW is in the top 10 all right but well behind Kia. And look who is in the bottom 10, expensive cars like Audi and Volvo ( and Lexus is 98; Acura is 103).  In my opinion, Jaguar has always been a lot of trouble so I'm not surprised it is 2nd to last (I'm surprised it isn't last.).  A neighbor had one decades ago, and I think hardly a week went by that it wasn't in the shop.  Ditto for someone I knew at work.  Why people keep buying this car is a mystery.  Note there are 148 complaints per 100 cars or nearly 1.5 complaints per car.  I guess owners really like the styling.

* http://www.cnbc.com/2017/06/21/new-vehicle-reliability-hits-high-but-driver-assist-features-struggle.html


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

LONGEST DAY OF THE YEAR

We all know there is a longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere (It coincides with the shortest day of the year in the Southern Hemisphere). Technically speaking, the summer solstice occurs when the sun is directly overhead the Tropic of Cancer, or 23.5° north latitude. In 2017, this will occur at exactly 12:24 am (Eastern) on the 21st [of June]. (But we’ll celebrate on the 20th anyway.)*

If you pass a plane through the Earth and the Sun, called the ecliptic, the poles of the Earth should be a right angles to the plane; however, the Earth is tilted by 23.5 degrees for some reason (perhaps hit by a Mars-sized body billions of years ago),  So between March and September, Earth’s Northern Hemisphere gets more exposure to direct sunlight over the course of a day. The rest of the year, the Southern Hemisphere gets more. It’s the reason for the seasons.*

In the Northern Hemisphere, "peak" sunlight usually occurs on June 20, 21, or 22 of any given year. That’s the summer solstice. By contrast, the Southern Hemisphere reaches peak sunlight on December 21, 22, or 23 and the north hits peak darkness — that’s our winter solstice.*

Today we experienced nearly 15 hours of sunlight, a fraction of a second longer than the day before or the day after.  I hope you spent the extra time wisely.

The further north you are, the more sunlight you’ll see during the solstice. Alaska-based climatologist Brian Brettschneider created this terrific guide:*


(Click on figure to enlarge)

In case you noticed, the earliest sunrise actually came about a week ago and latest sunset will come about a week after June 20th.  This is due to solar time that I will not go into.  We will lose on average roughly two minutes a day of sunlight as the days progress.

*https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/6/19/15832952/summer-solstice-2017

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP

I am endeavoring not to talk about President Donald Trump and I tend this to be my last post on Donald Trump until something significant happens.  I have already said most of what I feel there is to say just search for Trump, and it is time to just watch developments and hope not too much damage is done to the U.S.  I accept that Trump is the big Exception.

Donald Trump is a big exception in that he will not reveal his tax returns.  Perhaps eventually he will have to do so, but I doubt his supporters care.

I accept that Trump is an exception through monetizing his presidency while being president, so far as I know, the first president to do so.  He is in clear violation of his lease on the Trump Tower in Washington, d.C.  And the profits from Mar-a-Lago , Trump's "winter White House," jumped 25%:
While Mar-a-Lago, the Palm Beach, Fla. country club he's dubbed the "Winter White House," saw a nearly $8 million increase in revenue — a 25 percent increase from last year — other golf courses had unchanged revenues. Mar-a-Largo has also doubled the amount a person must pay to be a member over the past year.*

Not suprisingly people want to visit the places Trump stays and for some hopefully get some influence.

I accept that Trump has colluded with Russia.  So far as I know, he is the first president who has done so, even during the election period.  After all he asked out loud for the Russians to find the missing 30 thousand e-mails of Hillary Clinton.**  I can't tell you how shocked I was when he said such an un-American thing.  He also has said he loves Wikileaks.**  But I doubt it will ever be established further than we all ready know.  Time will tell.  I'm not even sure whether colluding with a foreign government in an election is illegal.  Perhaps getting a foreign government involved in our elections is another step down in the decline of American politics.

I have to accept that Donald Trump constitutionally cannot tell the truth.  Everyone really knows this.  Yes, politicians lie, but, again, Trump takes it to a new level.  To some extent he is fawning to his supporters by telling lies that his base believes is "Telling it like it is."

True, Donald Trump has narcissistic personality disorder.  Politicians, however, tend to be narcissistic, but Trump takes it to a new level.  I felt so sorry for his cabinet members who had to say how much they love Trump on TV.***  How humiliating.

Republicans have enough ammunition to impeach Trump;however, I doubt anything will be done so long as Trump's favorability rating is so high among Republicans, and, after all, so far Trump has been willing to sign any bill sent to him..  It has generally been astounding, above 80% among Republicans, but a recent poll came in at 75% so maybe it is falling.  I don't know how low his ratings will have to be  before any action is taken.

So long as Trump slows down important legislation like health care and tax reform,**** I don't care if he continues.  While I oppose personal income tax cuts, I have long been for corporate tax cuts, though not as steep as to 15%, though down to 22% from 35% might be all right.

I'm all for giving Donald Trump the Wall, or at least part of it, something he could sand beside and have his picture taken with a sign that says "The Great Wall Of Trump."  For a half billion dollars you could build the wall farther than the eye can see.  There could be promises to "finish" the wall, which, of course, would never happen.  It could be a nice going away present and many of his followers seem to want the wall above everything else.

* http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/338208-trumps-financial-disclosure-released
** https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/28/us/politics/donald-trump-russia-clinton-emails.html?_r=0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUtT0b0EnSw
http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2017/apr/21/jackie-speier/did-trump-really-mention-wikileaks-over-160-times-/
*** http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4596152/Trump-meets-Cabinet-time.html
**** http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2010/05/effectiveness-of-taxes.html
http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2016/09/tax-cuts-and-economic-stimulation.html

Monday, June 19, 2017

REP. SCALISE AND GAY MARRIAGE

Perhaps not surprisingly, seriously injured Rep. Scalise has been against Gay marriage.  It turns out, however, that one the injured police officers on his detail is a married Lesbian (Yes, married to another woman.).  Apparently though Scalise is against Gay marriage, he doesn't take it personally, something to his credit, I guess.

http://www.snopes.com/crystal-griner-steve-scalise/

Saturday, June 17, 2017

REP. SCALISE SHOT. NOW WHAT?

I assume we have all heard of the shooting spree in which the House Whip,  Republican Rep. Steve Scalise was shot in the hip and is in serious condition.  Yes, others were injured also.  The shooter seems to be a deranged follower of Bernie Sanders who has expressed his horror of the event  This shooting overshadows the murder of three white men in Fresno California at the same time, so maybe we are getting used to terrorism to a certain degree?*

After the shooting we have had a lot of politicians saying that we need to "tone down the political rhetoric."  There was Kumbaya the next day at the annual congressional baseball game, won by Democrats, who had the trophy put in Scalise's office as a show on unity.

Will this attitude stick?  Remember I am a lifelong pessimist and I fear I think it won't.  I'm not sure what can turn things around.  I remember Reagan being shot and his press secretary James Brady being turned into a vegetative state.  There too was a coming together for a short while.  I was sure that some meaningful gun control would result by Republicans from the injuries to their own (Republicans).  Yet, through an incredible effort, a temporary Brady Bill was passed requiring background checks for purchase of firearms, but it was rescinded by the Supreme court that ruled that requiring local law enforcement officials to pursue background checks is unconstitutional.  Most local police officers, however, voluntarily pursue background checks.**  In addition, gun shows and mail order were always exempt in the Brady Bill.

How did all this intemperate language in politics start.  I now believe it goes back to Newt Gingrich, in the early 1980s as suggested by conservative David Brooks and forward who even published a list of combative words to use (Included in the references are several articles in addition to lists of words to use.).***   Just a few words from Gingrich's list are betray, corrupt, and hypocrisy.

No matter who started it all, this is where we are today.  President Donald Trump used much violent language during the recent presidential campaign:  An example is:
There may be somebody with tomatoes in the audience. So if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. Okay? Just knock the hell—  I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees. I promise, I promise. It won’t be so much ’cause the courts agree with us too.  http://www.mediaite.com/online/trump-supporters-clash-with-blacklivesmatter-protester-at-campaign-rally-2/
Of course, Trump loves to use belittling nicknames for people like "Crooked" Hillary" or "Little" Marko or insulting Ted Cruz's wife's appearance, among many others.

Though I am sure there are some liberals using pugnacious language, they are not common.  In fact I don't personally know one such person, though I have heard occasional liberals use the words, "Worse than the Nazis" against people saying temperate things about asbestos and other dangerous things.  I agree that is pretty bad.  Now even conservatives use the phrase, e.g. Sean Spicer saying even Hitler didn't use chemical weapons in contrast to Bashar Assad..

So we will see what happens.  Some day, some year a turnaround may happen.  It has happened before, e.g. Sen. Charles Sumner was beaten on the Senate floor to near death by Sen. Preston Brooks using a cane in 1856.****  Of course the Civil War came later as the polarisation in American politics increased.

* http://www.latimes.com/newsletters/la-me-ln-essential-california-20170419-story.html
** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brady_Handgun_Violence_Prevention_Act
*** http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article4443.htm
 http://www.ajc.com/news/local-govt--politics/gingrich-language-set-new-course/O5bgK6lY2wQ3KwEZsYTBlO/
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/04/newt-gingrich-greatest-rhetorical-hits/2/
https://www.quora.com/Which-U-S-political-party-is-more-pugnacious-during-elections-Democrat-or-Republican
**** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caning_of_Charles_Sumner

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

BEST SAYINGS OF EVERETT ESTES FORD (Biography)

I always say:

“Untested virtue is no virtue at all.”

"I got further in life than I ever dreamed as a youth but not as far as I deserved."

"She should marry a rich man and be miserable in comfort."
Politically correct version: They should marry wealth and be miserable in comfort

“Could anyone possibly be annoyed
About the study of an asteroid?”*

“Politicians are skilled at the art of getting the votes of people they plan to fleece.”**

"But Unc, I'm not worried about assassination. What I'm interested in is assignation."***

* http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2011/07/so-how-about-asteroid-poem.html
** http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2015/12/trump-or-cruz.html
*** http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2011/08/gift-too-much-is-too-much-of-gift.html