MUSING ABOUT SCIENCE

September 1, 2014

MUSING ABOUT SCIENCE

Note: Using Microsoft Word, I typed the original using superscripts to write exponents, powers of 10. Pasting such on Word Press, my blog mechanism, I find such superscripts do not convert and are shown as normal script. Thus 10 to the exponent of 22 is shown only as 1022, or something like that. Bear with that difficulty and just remember when you see a 10 with numbers after it, it is intended to be 10 to that exponent or “power of 10”. I can do the math but not the word engineering!!!

Having recently read “The Cosmic Landscape” by Leonard Susskind, one of the founders of String Theory, my mind has wandered as far “out” as it can go as well as far “down”, as well. I have wondered about our human limits, thus far, to understand both the Cosmos and the very small things making up that Cosmos. Thus this blog of idle dabbling and thinking about the “world” of science as described at least in that book.

Just how far can we see today? That answer seems to be about 1.3 x 1022 kilometers, “out”. That is simply the distance that light travels in 14 Billion years. Simple algebra is all the math needed to reach that conclusion. But what is beyond that distance becomes the question.

Susskind offers the hypothesis that pure energy, the plasma supposedly created at the instant and of the “big bang” is just beyond that horizon. In other words we are in a universe some 1022 kilometers in, well what, is the next question. Are we contained within a spherical universe with a diameter (or would it be a radius) of that many kilometers? Well maybe not suggests the author.

Maybe the universe is flat, not spherical. We can see the horizon on the X and Y plane of a flat surface. Einstein always proposed a spherical universe such that if a bullet was shot, at the speed of light, eventually it would come back and hit the shooter in the head. String Theory at least suggests that might not be the case. Instead the indestructible bullet would just keep going beyond our horizon, into the plasma of our creation, come out the other side of that field of energy and just keep going to ……….?

How ridiculous one might suggest, a “forever traveling” bullet. Well it would not be surprising to the bullet, as long as it travelled at the speed of light. Einstein figured that one out. When something travels at the speed of light, Time, remains unchanging. As far as all that energy beyond our horizon can tell it was just “born”. Its age is zero as it continues to fly around in space at the speed of light.

That of course raises the question of what, exactly, is time, the fourth dimension according to Einstein, along with X,Y AND Z (to make a sphere moving somewhere in time). I wonder if a year is something different on another planet within our own universe, one that circles its own sun (star) once every ???? Would “things” on such a planet think a year was different from the one we use to measure time? Probably. Or instead is there some universal clock that keeps time in something other than years, minutes, seconds or very larger (or smaller) units of time?

But so what you say, as no bullet will ever be able to travel at the speed of light. When any mass moves that fast the mass itself become infinite, according to Einstein and his equations, accepted by just about all scientists today. Only photons, units of energy containing no mass at all, can move at the speed of light, and not beyond that speed, as determined so far by science, at least in our universe.

So much for moving “out” into space. What about moving “down” into the very small segments of space. So far we have developed “microscopes” that can now see “down” to somewhere in the range of 10-22 meters. That is a decimal point with 22 zeros before the unit of 1 appears.

But Susskind suggests if we just built a better, more powerful, microscope we could see farther “down” into elementary space. Maybe the same is true with a bigger, more powerful, telescope as well to expand our horizon of observation in the Cosmos. But so far we can only see “down” about as far as we can see “out”, for now, at least in terms of positive or negative powers of 10.

How do we thus far find a way to see “down” to a very small segment of space? We do so by building very large accelerators, moving very small particles, like protons and neutrons and electrons, at very high speeds. The higher the speeds attained the more energy required to move small particles at such speeds, ones approaching but never reaching the speed of light. Those small particles then hit “things” and we see, yep, smaller things, like quarks, bosons, and some 20 or so other “things”.

Now for a really big leap. Susskind suggests that if we could build a big enough accelerator we might well find the smallest of the small, the actual “building blocks” of mass. But to do so he estimates the accelerator would have to be the size of our own galaxy and it would burn 3 Trillion barrels of oil per second to create the needed energy to move very small particles very fast indeed.

Susskind further explains that Plank, the man determining the Plank Constant, a very important number in quantum mechanics, thought there was a limit to “small”. He proposed something on the order of
10-33 centimeters (or was it meters?). But again, according to Susskind, we would have to have a galaxy size accelerator using a star (fusion energy) to power it to see that far “down”.

Then of course there becomes the issue of “space vacuum”. Take a small segment of space and see what is in it, if anything. Susskind believes there is all sorts of “stuff” within a space vacuum, but we can’t see it, yet, except maybe for very short periods of time in a very large, earth bound accelerator. He believes as well that is where a Higgs Boson is to be found.

OK, so what does a Higgs boson do? We know, or think, that a field of energy, like an electromagnetic field contains photons of energy. A field of gravity contains gravitons. It would lead one to believe that a Higgs field would contain, yep, Higgs bosons. And within String Theory mathematics, but certainly no direct observations, yet, those Higgs fields COULD define the nature of other physical laws in a particular Higgs field.

String Theory goes on, mathematically, to suggest a huge number of various Higgs fields, all at varying levels of intensity of Higgs bosons, all “over the place”, place being defined now as “space containing multiverses”, other universes. That number happens to be about 10500.

That is what Susskind, and others, describe as a Cosmic “Landscape”. It is a vast amount of space with energy fields, Higgs Fields as thus far best determined, of high, low and in between levels of Higgs bosons. Think of such a landscape as one on earth with high, low and in between altitudes; thus a landscape containing mountains, valleys and plains, of energy in space, or mass on earth.

One last question that comes to me after reading the “book” by Susskind. It involves the equation
E=MC2.

Even I understand, well sort of, how that equation moves in the direction to the “left”. I spent a career with the conversation of mass to energy, by splitting large atoms into small ones to create energy. But I am unaware of how to move the equation to the “right”, convert energy to mass. What makes that happen, I wonder? How does one take several photons of energy and convert them to mass? I can calculate what happens (algebra again) when mass goes to energy or energy turns to mass. I know how to make it happen to convert mass to energy. But I don’t know how to convert energy into mass, which obviously happened shortly after the “big bang” occurred and might still be happening “out there in the plasma” surrounding, maybe, our own universe. It may well be happening in our own sun right now as well, “making” more mass to send out into space. Who knows for sure, yet.

Is that, maybe, why we still believe our universe is expanding, plasma being converted to mass “out there” well beyond our horizon today? As well, recall all those photons in the plasma have been moving around at the speed of light. If or when such photons change to mass, that mass must slow down. But how slow must it become. Is that, maybe, why we see outer galaxies moving away from us much faster than the ones close by? Hubble discovered that phenomena and “science” stills thinks such is true today. Maybe after light speed energy turns to mass, the recently created mass still moves very fast and slows down later on due to the force of gravity “behind it”.

Final thought. Just how much energy is in that plasma surrounding our own universe? Use Einstein’s equation and one can determine (using algebra) how much total mass our own universe might ultimately achieve. At that point the plasma is exhausted, we run out of universal gas, and the universe then begins to collapse upon itself due to gravity. Over time, all that mass further contracts, like in a black hole. And as that “funnel” gets smaller, with mass ever becoming more dense, a singularity occurs and the black hole vanishes. Poof, there goes the universe.

Or instead does “this universe” simple show up elsewhere as a singularity of intense energy and the big bang happens all over again. Could that be where we “came from”, I wonder?

THE MIDDLE EAST, UKRAINE, GAZA AND THE WORLD

August 27, 2014

THE MIDDLE EAST, UKRAINE, GAZA AND THE WORLD

Is there a connection between conflict in the four regions and if so what is it, I wonder. In a sense, I believe the answer is yes. The connection, tangential as it may be is the relationship between Russia, the United States and Europe. If those three “powers” became united, well just imagine the world thereafter, today.

First however I wonder if you are as confused as I am with now all the various players in the Middle East. In terms of stateless factions there are at a minimum, Al Qaeda, ISIS (or is it ISIL?), Hamas, Hezbollah, and who knows how many other “moderate rebels” fighting against the Assad regime in Syria? Russia clearly backs the Assad government in Syria and the United States instead supports, well whom exactly I wonder?

Equally clear, in the Ukraine, the United States supports the Ukrainian government in Kiev and Russia supports, well whom exactly I wonder? It certainly is not the Ukrainian government in Kiev.

Then of course there is the conflict in Gaza right now, ongoing for several months. Which side does Russia support and the same question for the United States, I wonder.

Then in Europe, at least the larger countries in terms of geopolitical power or influence, Britain, France and Germany, where does Europe stand? In speaking of “Europe” for now, just consider those three countries and figure out where they stand and might be willing to support a favorable outcome, one side against the other.

If you really want to become confused, consider Saudi Arabia and Iran in all three current conflicts, Syrian civil war, Israel vs. Gaza (Hamas) and now ISIS vs the United States.

Take it a step “deeper” and consider the question, “Who, exactly is Saudi Arabia”? Is it the Kingdom of al Saud, or is it the Wahhabi mullahs and followers, or rich Saudi’s sending $ Billions of dollars into Saudi “charities” that ultimately provide considerable funds to Al Qaeda, “moderate terrorist groups” or the now hated (by the United States) ISIS.

Geopolitics is now so confusing, who is against whom, who does or should America “support” and what exactly does “support” mean, I wonder? I wonder if there is a way to clarify such matters, at least for America and where it stands, geopolitically today. I note it is far different now than either in WWII or the Cold War, an “us against them” type of geopolitical conflict. The fronts on the battlefields in WWII and the Iron Curtain were at least lines on a map showing who was against whom. Not so today in many cases.

At least to me I do see one thing America, under the leadership of President Obama, supports. Stop violence, anywhere and take the disputes to the negotiating table. That seems to be the tenor and substance of American foreign policy today, stop current “wars” and negotiate. And to get our way when negotiations stall or are non-existent, well it is OK to apply American economic muscle to the equation, right?

Now ask, just how effective has that approach been over the last six years. I at least see four real wars going on right now, in Syria, Gaza, the Ukraine and now it seems ISIS vs. America. Should I add Al Qaeda vs. America to that list as well or have we already defeated Al Qaeda, after 13 years of war against that faction in the Arab world?

As well, should I now leave Egypt out of such discussions, just the internal issues within that large Arab country? America’s position now seems to be, in Egypt, let the “people decide”. Well which “people” I wonder. Right now my guess, and it is only a guess, is the “military people in Egypt”. At least they seem able to keep the lid on things therein and keep Egypt off the front pages of American news outlets while other real wars are going on, some four of them by my count.

Take a step back from today’s world and think a little about history, relatively modern history and the geopolitical alignments in say 1914. How many Americans today understand exactly why WWI began? I have studied that issue rather carefully and still cannot put my finger on a single set of geopolitical tensions that caused that first WORLD war. All I, and most Americans understand is the results of that conflict in terms of cost, financially and in human suffering. As well, when the WORLD screwed up upon the conclusion of that war, well some 20 years later we had to go back and do “it” all over again, another WORLD war.

At least upon conclusion of the SECOND round, a second world war, there was real clarity about “us against them”. Of course it was America against communist Russia, the Soviet Union if you like. And at least with such clarity of opponents, AND the possession of nuclear weapons on both sides, a real war was avoided. Need I remind anyone that during the Cold War, deterrence worked and thus allowed diplomatic and economic power to prevail over “us against them”.

Is deterrence working, for America and the world, now? Not so in Gaza, Iraq (ISIS), Syria or the Ukraine, at least by my estimation. But I do know where deterrence, combined with the extraordinary ability to fight for about 66 years now, has worked. It is within the State of Israel, like it or not. Almost the entire Arab world has tried, repeatedly, to eliminate that country, kill as many Jews as possible and push them into the sea, never to return. Yet for some 66 years since Israel was formed as a State, with international approval from the UN, that State has prevailed, so far.

One reason for the success of Israel, if surviving is a measure of success, is clarity as to who the opposition might be. It is Israel, a Jewish State vs. just about every Arab country in the world. Oh that America could have such clarity as to who our opponents might be today. Our foreign policy seems to be today that we oppose no one, geopolitically and just “want to be friends with everyone”.

Is that the real world, anytime in history, one in which there are no geopolitical tensions that could rise to the level of war. Does a “good citizen of the world” really believe that geopolitics is such today that war will not be needed to determine geopolitical outcomes? Remember, “War is politics using other means”. Good citizens may not like that reality, but can anyone not say such is reality, today, with wars going on all over the world and becoming increasingly violent using modern, and thus far non-nuclear, technology.

Push even the left in America hard enough, much less the right in American politics, and war becomes the chosen option. Not so the left might say right now. They don’t call for war, they just want to eliminate ISIS today. After all those SOBs cut the head off of an American last week and thus we should…..

One last point if I may. About 13 years ago an American President declared “if you are not with us, you are against us”. It became “us against “terror”, according to that President and 80% of Americans thought that was a good idea, for about three years, until …….. That same President said such a war against terror would be a generational war.

That one went right over the heads of most Americans. The only generational war we have seen was our own Civil War, if one includes events leading up to that conflict and the first shot then being fired at Fort Sumter. Then America took off the gloves and won a bitter and very real war, in about 4 years.

No one knows today in the world what a generational war might be, except for Arabs and Israelis, I submit. Can or should we pick a side in that one and then win it, a multigenerational war “over there” (but increasingly “here” today).

Those of us born during or shortly after WWII grew up in the midst of a dangerous world, the Cold War. We then grew older and observed the end of that war and yep, we won it. America was united in that war and for that reason alone we prevailed, in my view.

Who or what today is our real enemy. Islamic terrorism is my choice for that single and very dangerous opponent, us against them today, at least from the perspective of an “old warrior”. Why can our country not gain the clarity of purpose to prevail against that single opponent? And yes, we can, if we just look, determine who is supporting those terrorists. If we are too blind to see such opponents, whether they call themselves “friends” or not, well we can always ask Israel to guide us. They have been the focal point of that enemy for a long time and know exactly against whom they are fighting, up front from time to time but always behind the scenes of headlines, for 66 years now.

If Americans today look only at geopolitical outcome, who, I ask were our greatest Presidents? Washington and Lincoln are undisputed on that list because they stood for American ideals and won terrible wars. FDR makes my list, in geopolitical terms for winning WWII for us, through his leadership on a global and domestic scale. I can forgive him for planting the seeds of domestic discontent before the start of WWII, misguidedly in my conservative view. And yep, Reagan was the last President to bring us to victory in the Cold War, like him domestically or not from those on the left today.

All four of those Presidents knew full well who the enemy might be and then led the American people to prevail in four terrible and costly wars. War is in fact politics by other means and those four Presidents knew it with clarity and had the resolve to win when it really counted.

I add a note after leaving this unpublished for a 24 hours. I see weapons fire has been noted from Syria into Israel, across a border crossing in the Golan Heights. The shells incoming on the Israeli side seem to be stray’s for a conflict in Syria and not an attack on Israel itself. Israel has not returned fire and holds the Syrian government responsible for any “stray fire into Israel”, as it should in my view.

Typically, Israel takes no side in that Syrian civil war, a war of Arabs vs Arabs (and Persians as well) it seems. Israel could care less which side wins that war, as any winner will remain anti-Israel whatever the outcome might be. Again, clarity as to who exactly their (Israel’s) opponent might be is a constant in their own war on terror. As well I doubt that Israel spends scarce resources, financially or diplomatically to “stop the bloodshed” (in Syria) as an end unto itself.

JUST TODAY IN AMERICA ACCORDING TO THE “NEWS”

August 23, 2014

JUST TODAY IN AMERICA ACCORDING TO THE “NEWS”

It is a “normal” Saturday morning in my home and I went online to review today’s News. Off the top so to speak, online, I found several astounding news items. Here they are on Saturday, August 23, 2014 in America, a brief look at the news:

A nine-year-old child in the South Side of Chicago is killed after running out of his home because he could not have a cupcake. His killer has yet to be found and his mother blames it on “the city” according to AOL News.

The Boston Bomber lawyers are calling for cancellation of all charges because the jury pool is tainted.

The front page of the Joplin Globe has an AP article expressing fear that the cop in Ferguson might not even be indicted, along with background news of old again showing our Governor calling for that cop’s prosecution, not a thorough and complete investigation, first of all. It also seems likely that the Grand Jury pool in Ferguson will be challenged because enough blacks are not on that Grand Jury. It hasn’t happened yet, but ……..?

The primary local liberal blogger is calling for our President to use force to “do something” to ISIL. I would describe that call to arms by the left to be one to “eliminate” ISIL. But you should read the blog to form your own opinion of what seems to me at least similar in nature to America’s call to arms against Al Qaeda about 13 years ago. Look what that got us, if you will.

As well, yesterday, that same liberal blogger posted a video and comments on a “crazy, knife wielding man” (in St Louis, again) being killed by two gun wielding cops.

Just that one brief snapshot of American news this weekend day shows, again, a deeply divided America with so many divisive issues before us it is a wonder we can even get out of bed as a country, each morning. The current topics are black against white, mobs versus law enforcement, terrorism against American jurisprudence, a never ending debate in America about what to do with or about the whole Middle East, and the list goes on.

And if you want to just stay local to see divide, just go read the Turner Report each day incessantly calling for the termination of employment of our local Superintendent of Schools and most of the current membership of the BOE, right after an election. That report will also keep you abreast of the latest sex crimes alleged in Joplin as well, if that is of interest to you. And to show that Report as a challenge to the Globe, you can usually find a daily weather report therein as well.

My point today is simple. I find it very hard to read “the news” and find any unity anywhere in America today. Where are we really “together” as a nation, united in a way to meet real challenges all around us with WILL POWER, as our motive force to start with, National will power to do the “next right thing(s)” each and every day?

Is such a question, questioning our unity, a glass half empty observation, while the other half is very full of unity of purpose? I for one have great difficulty finding such unity, about local education, turmoil in an American city focused, again, around race and justice, inane (to me at least) challenges to our legal system, now in Boston, but where next I wonder, or global jihad and the ability to strike such at its CORE, Middle East Oil, in my view.

There is however one “story”, a personal one, that lifts my spirits this morning. My grandson, his parents and my wife, his grandmother, are going through freshman weekend at Yale. He has moved into his dorm and all are heavily engaged in navigating that first weekend for a new college student.

During a briefing from a Dean to parents of freshmen, one parent stood and asked a HUGE and challenging question. “How will Yale deal with 90% of the freshman class that will no longer be in the top 10% of that class?” Wow, what a question. I assume that almost every one of those entering freshmen at Yale was in the top 1% of their high school graduating classes.

The Dean’s reply was good as well, maybe. He said that academic achievement was important for all entering students at one of the best universities in the world. But he also said the primary goal for EVERY graduate, four years from now, would be to produce graduates ready to be “good citizens of the world”.

What would be a real interest to me at least is to read an essay from that Dean, defining rather precisely and in a manner acceptable to most Americans, what a “good citizen of the world” would think and try to achieve during his or her adult lifetime. I wonder if Duty, Honor and Country would be contained in such an essay, coming from a Dean at Yale. If such a phrase is too “wordy” I wonder if at least “Honor” would be an attribute of a “good citizen of the world”, forgetting any sense of” Duty “(to what) or “Country” (whatever that might mean today)?

REACTION TO THE NEW IRAQ AND ISIL

August 21, 2014

REACTION TO THE NEW IRAQ AND ISIL

It is always interesting when people on the left of American politics call for the use of force. Go to http://duanegraham.wordpress.com/2014/08/20/no-just-god-would-stand-for-what-they-did/ as an example. Duane seems to believe that ISIL is so intolerable that President Obama should do all possible to exterminate (my word) that organization.

As I recall about 13 years ago another President called for similar actions against Al Qaeda, in 2001 and we wound up still fighting them 13 years later.

I also recall atrocities on the part of some Vietnamese against other Vietnamese and we wound up losing 55,000 Americans to make that stop, unsuccessfully after an 8 or so year war. And while it seems chemical weapons have not been used in Syria of late, the killing still continues, brutally in that war torn country. And of course it has now spilled over into Iraq.

One thing common to all these conditions “over there” and America’s inclination to “do something about it”, is our overreliance on air power. To say we won’t put “boots on the ground” but still have men in flight boots over the ground (in the air) killing other people, seems to be an unclear statement. No doubt America has decided, again, to use force, but only air force (not ground force) to stop mayhem, “over there”. Oh, I forgot. We can still put some “sneaky boots on the ground” from time to time, at least until a SEAL team gets captured or slaughtered, or both. Remember, the “lily pad” defense system called for a decade ago, still needs lots of “boots”, in the air, sneaking around on the ground, and manning ships at sea to save all those “boots” when the shit hits the fan from time to time.

Repeated experience from the use of military power since WWII is that air power alone is rarely decisive. The Balkan “war” during the Clinton years is the only exception and in that situation we chose to “bomb the enemy at home”, not just on a vague battlefield. Bombing Slavic cities caused them to stop killing in Bosnia, in the end.

But of course ISIL has no “home base”, yet and I doubt our President would choose to bomb Mosul, for example.

As well we now seem prepared to arm Kurds to fight against ISIL. Are the Kurds any different than Afghan tribes fighting against the Soviet Union long ago? Friends today and who knows what tomorrow seems to be a question still deserving an answer. How do we control the use of such arms, once they are delivered into the hands of a potential future opponent? Simple answer is we cannot. So what do we do if Kurds decide to use such arms against a “democratic government” constituted in Iraq, or maybe Turkey, a NATO ally?

The left asks such questions all the time when a conservative President decides to use force so I consider it fair game to ask such questions now, from the right, so to speak.

Sure, when Americans see, vividly, an American brutally killed they want the President to “do something”. But foreign policy must start with a much longer view and military power used only to advance that long term view, not just as a “quick” response to brutality. America in my view has yet to decide that long term goal against terrorism. ISIL, Al Qaeda, whatever or whoever comes up next, Hamas, Hezbollah, etc. are ALL terror groups, international in scope. So as Bush II suggested, are we still, in fact, in a “war against terror”, like it or not?

So the issue with terror certainly remains very much on the plate of America it seems to me, again, like it or not. What to do seems to still be the question for American foreign policy, in the short, medium and long term.

Where does all that terrorism come from today, and yesterday for that matter? The simple answer is from the Middle East as a point of origin. Almost all terrorists on the international scene are Arabs or Persians it seems to me. And more important, where do those terrorists get the money to commit acts of terror? Is not “follow the money” a basic element in fighting against crimes, bank robbers or genocidal types as well. It takes huge amounts of money to be a “criminal”, at least on an international scale, so where does the money come from and how do we stop that flow of money, to terrorists?

My simple point is that terrorism funded by Middle East countries or individuals gets money from one source, OIL located in the Middle East. If the American Navy blockaded the Straits of Hormuz, well no more money for terrorism, or at least a helluva lot less money for sure. Hmmm, just as an idle thought, musing perhaps!!!

Don’t want military action to block the flow of oil? OK, how about the international banking system freeze all funds associated with oil, until ……..? How about a few bombs on some oil fields, bombs that kill only “oil” and a few workers but certainly no women or children?

I can even get more focused in stopping the flow of funds to terror. Saudi Arabia is that primary source from all that I have read. The “Emirates” probably come in second as a source of money for terror. Sure they seem to be our “friends” yet $ Trillions, over time, flow to terror groups from such two sources. Why do we let them do it? And then of course our “enemy”, one still trying hard to make nuclear weapons and fund terror at the same time, no matter what they might say. Hmmmm? Should we try to appease Iran into peace with us and Israel? Are you kidding me?

OK, now I have proven again that I am “nuts” correct? NO WAY can the world stop relying on Middle East oil, right? Right of course, today. But what about tomorrow? Could not a focused, long term program to divorce the democratic Western World at least from any need for Middle Eastern oil? Make it a “fly to the moon in a decade” matter of American policy. That is called long term goals that are a matter of both foreign and economic policy of the highest sort. Shorter term goals are then established to achieve the long term policy statement.

Should I also mention that such a long term policy would go hand in hand with “climate control” as well!!!!!

As a minimum, Middle East countries and people would be put on notice that American power, economic power will align against them for the long term. Such power would be used, consistently and for a long time to return those countries to desert tribes on camels, unless………

I submit we did the same thing in our Cold War, stopped all or most of the economic ties with Russia. After 50 years, well look at the results. And in the intervening years we stuck together as a united nation, one leading the rest of the world against a communist threat. But keep in mind; we had to have the military power to hold that communist “world” at bay, while it slowly died on the vine. Is America ready to do that, sustain enough military power to hold terror at bay until the funding dries up? In the end those people will try to go down fighting against us, for sure.

Today we face an Islamic threat, terrorism in the details if you will. So why not a long term goal to shut down the economic engine from the Middle East that funds all sorts of mayhem, in America and around the world today?

One final thought, of a long term and enduring nature. If the Middle East today causes most of the terror in the world today, then who, exactly created that Middle East? Simple answer is “we did”, meaning of course the Western World following WWI. Every country over there was created by the West to carve up the Ottoman Empire. The West drew lines on maps to create countries and neglected how the people in those new countries might have wanted to align themselves, even Israel. Just look at Iraq today, splintering all over the place.

Why I wonder is it a matter of long term foreign policy for America to sustain countries that are not really countries from within. Is it really in the long term interest for America to sustain Iraq as a whole country today? Or would it be truly be in our best interests, in the long term, to let Iraq decide what it really wants. In fact, just let the whole Middle East today decide what the people in the Middle East want for themselves, including Egypt. Israel knows full well what it wants and gets it democratically, just as an example. Why not just let Syria, Iraq, Iran, you name it, make their own decisions, and while they are doing so, CONTAIN the living hell out of the whole crazy region to keep terror at bay.

The only thing preventing such an American policy, geopolitically at least is OIL, in my view. Unless, that is, you want America to try to “surgically kill terror” with a few bombs here and there, but only when we really get pissed off at “them” whoever “them” might be, tomorrow.

Now go back to 2001. Bush II went to war immediately thereafter. He also said, clearly, that the war would be GENERATIONAL in length. That means a long time. Yet about 3 years later we lost our focus in what was in FACT a War on Terror. So there we went, typical in my view in today’s America. We stopped the war on terror, even stopped calling it a war on terror. Instead we tried to drop a few bombs, surgically if you will, killed about 7,000 Americans over 13 years and still have a mess on our hands.

If we no longer conduct wars on terror today, don’t even call it such, then why are we dropping bombs on ISIL today? The last time I checked dropping bombs from airplanes is an act of war against somebody and for sure it pisses them off. Is that a “tie that binds”, something “Obamapolicy” called for in Cairo in 2009 and he still seems to focus on that approach, today, except when he really gets pissed off because one journalist had his head cut off, another act of war if you will by my estimation at least.

It is far beyond the time for America to get its long term, multiple presidential and political parties’ turns in leadership, policy established. We must stop the knee jerk reaction to terror, call it what it is and establish the correct approach over the next decade or so to COMBAT terror, not just try to talk terrorist out of being terrorist, which will never happen. Ask Israel.

THE APPROPRIATE USE OF FORCE

August 17, 2014

THE APPROPRIATE USE OF FORCE

This blog provides my reaction to the violence and mayhem in Ferguson, Missouri. But it also observes a similar debate, the appropriate use of force, in current and future military conflicts. The underlying issue remains very similar in both situations, combat in foreign lands and abuse and/or violence in America, today.

Of course the key word is “appropriate”, when discussing any use of force, be it a threatening posture and words, actual force employed by just human physical means (fists, strength, etc.) and the ultimate use of force with weapons designed to kill or maim. All such means of the use of force can be correct, appropriate, under certain circumstances. But exactly what those circumstances might be is a huge political issue for sure. Lives are lost whenever such force, at least the last one, are employed, by legal authorities or thugs and criminals as well.

Most Americans will claim that we are a country that must adhere to the rule of law. But laws that are not enforced are meaningless, simply words on paper that many will simply ignore. But if we are to be a country ruled by law, there must be someone to enforce those laws.

Actually, we are also a country that attempts to rule by rules, administrative guidance if you will to establish standards of behavior and actions. Schools for example are generally ruled by rules, not laws. When laws are broken in schools things have really gotten out of hand, by lawbreakers, be they teachers, students or administrators. But rules nevertheless are standards or guidance established by authorities to achieve a better good, the education of all students in a school. And the rule enforcement must rely on teachers, by and large to enforce the rules, be they established by the Boards of Education, administrators assigned by such boards, on down the line to the lowest level in schools, companies, etc.

In the broadest sense of the word “force” I include the “power” to enforce both rules and laws. So the question becomes that of the appropriate use of power. I see the Texas Governor, just for example, has been indicted for “abuse of power”, which is force as far as I can tell, though it was non-violent force it seems for now. Certainly we experience alleged “abuse of power” by even Presidents of any party from time to time, Nixon being the quintessential abuser of late, but many others in the past and present as well being accused at least of such a thing.

Duane Graham wrote an interesting and short blog discussing what it feels like to be a “nail” when the power of a “hammer” is applied. That implies raw physical power, a hammer being used to drive a nail into something, supposedly for a useful purpose. The “hammer” in that case is being wielded by a person believing, for whatever reasons, that such use of power, a hammer, is justified. The “nail” on the other hand is just expected to “take it”, being forcefully driven into a board to build a home, perhaps. He of course was speaking of black citizens under the “hammer” of legal authority when a bunch of rules or even laws were apparently being broken by such citizens, at least some of them.

I took that metaphor in a broader sense and claimed that I had been a “nail” many times in my life, being subjected to the power of “hammers”, always legally or administratively constituted rules or laws being enforced by people. Try going to boot camp for example, or the extreme, SEAL training (which I never did), and just observe “hammers” being wielded all the time. No I never was hit in the head or body with a hammer but just the verbal power of enforcement of rules seemed “hammer like” on many, many occasions. I could not imagine what I might have done, sometimes, that deserved such use of power on or against little ole me. Of course on other occasions I knew exactly what I had done wrong as well, but I still didn’t like a “hammer” being used against me. But being a gradually and well trained “nail”, I knew I had to just “take it”, like it or not, for the “better good”, like a competent United States Navy ready to carry out its mission, in a very large sense.

When rules or laws are violated, or seemingly violated, there is usually someone responsible for enforcing such rules or laws. That is their responsibility, under law or other supposedly competent authority. Most of the time such “enforcers” act appropriately. But on occasion they do not. So what is a “nail” to do when a “hammer” is seen coming its way. In this case all “nails”, humans, have the power to think and act, appropriately if they are good citizens, students, well-educated and/or trained to react appropriately, there is that word again, to power being used against or on them.

Just as enforcers are expected to only use appropriate power on “thinking nails”, such “nails” are expected to respond appropriately as well. In fact we have laws and rules specifying how “nails” should act, do we not? Like it or not, our laws generally specify that when police power is used a good citizen obeys the orders of such legally constituted power (verbal force if you like). Most good citizens do exactly that, like it or not in the face of police orders. It is when citizens react with their own power (verbally or physically) against such power, legal power, that bad things start to happen, most of the time. Sometimes someone gets hurt, or even killed when such confrontation ignites against police power. As well students get administratively “hurt” when they react abusively to legitimate (usually) “teacher power” as well.

Now to the crux of the matter, deciding what power is appropriate power, from either side, the enforcers or the alleged wrongdoers. Unless they are “nuts” no cop or teacher or “boss” (authority) acts against “rightdoers”. Such authorities are simply trying to enforce a rule or a law. And when someone believes they have done nothing wrong, there is supposedly a right way to settle such differences. And raw verbal or physical power, at the moment of such confrontation is NEVER the right reaction under most normal rules of law or behavior in socieyt. We have courts empowered (or legitimate administrative processes in schools, businesses, etc.) that are supposed to settle such disputes, under carefully controlled conditions, fair conditions, to allow all parties involved to be heard.

A term often heard these days is “people power”. In a sense that means, I suppose, the way the majority of people want things to be handled. But any mob is a source of people power when the mob acts abusively against other forms of power. My experience is that when abuse, verbal or physical is used, well bad things sometimes happen. At a minimum fights start and generally fights are illegal, from either side. The only legitimate “people power” is found in voting booths as far as I can tell, in America, at least as far as the law is concerned.

Sure all citizens rightfully have the right to “petition government” (a huge source of power). But when such petitions become abusive or the reaction to such petitions becomes abusive (usually from government or other “authorities”), well there we go, escalating a dispute to less rational and carefully considered solutions.

In both war and “peace” (domestic confrontations in America) many call for better training and more stringent rules on how authorized enforcers of rules or laws use their power. I never hear much about how to better train citizens how to react to such power however. Try telling a mob to “behave itself”. Hell we would get into an argument over the meaning of “behave”, in America today. But I know one thing for sure, “people power” in the form of mobs, large numbers of very angry citizens will not work in an America designed to live under the rule of law. Abuse or violence begets more counter-abuse or violence, in war or “peace” it seems to me.

But as well, any society must have “enforcers” of law, order and even administrative rules. And rules or laws must be changed, calmly and thoughtfully, when they are wrong as well. Most “lefties” call for more and more negotiations, diplomacy, to avoid wars “over there”. But I hear few calling for more negotiations in Ferguson today. The mob just wants to get their hands on a cop or group of cops and the cops (some of them) just want to “take it to the mob”. I think that is called human nature, a hard thing to control in any society unless the rule of law prevails, on both sides.

In the case of Ferguson, Watts, Oakland, Washington, DC and other places with similar outbreaks of abuse and violence, I would suggest such a discussion as that above be conducted in a “color-blind” manner as well. Inappropriate use of any power is wrong, from either side of a dispute, and race should have nothing to do with such a discussion, under the law or other rules of society in America, today. My great granddaddy was a slave, or slave master, has nothing to do with the problem on the best way to handle disputes or confrontations, on the streets so to speak.

MENTAL HEALTH OR THE LACK THEREOF

August 12, 2014

MENTAL HEALTH OR THE LACK THEREOF

Robin Williams, an iconic comedian, died by suicide and now the world mourns. A young man kills students and teachers in an elementary school and the world mourned. Other mentally ill people wander the streets in almost every city and town in America. And yes, some 60 million or more Americans suffer from the mental illness of addiction (drugs and alcohol) all over America today. All those people that have already acted in response to a mental illness and the millions more that consider such actions, all over America today, cost this country untold $ Billions (if not a $ Trillion of so) each year and the grief created by their actions burden American society today.

We count the deaths and consider the grief caused by physical disease, cancer, bad hearts, etc. and we hear the political debate of how best to use our resources to combat such physical diseases all the time. There are large “societies” that argue their points before Congress, etc. as well in response to actions needed to combat physical disease. We even have a very expensive and large Center for Disease Control in America. When did the CDC say anything of import about mental health rather than epidemic-like physical diseases, like Ebola, etc.? Any citizen that watches TV or reads a news outlet knows full well the ravages of physical diseases and what is being done to combat them.

Not so I suggest with mental illness. It remains by and large an elephant in the living room of America today that most just don’t want to confront until it hits them or a family member right between the eyes. But when it does hit there is not all that much that mental health professionals can do today, beyond filling patients with enough drugs to keep them calm, for a while. And oh yes, there is the inevitable “talk therapy” recommended for “treatment”. Did anyone ever get “talked out” of having cancer eat them alive?

The best example that I can offer is the almost static response to alcoholism over at least the last 50 years while the disease continues to ravage the same percentage of Americas as it has done for decades or centuries even. At least 10% or a lot more of a given large group of Americans suffers from that mental illness. Both of my parents died, miserably of that disease, almost 50 years ago. And the “treatment” for such people today remains what it was 50 years ago, go to AA and find a spiritual path to recovery. All the mental health community has done that I can tell is improve the way, with drugs, to detoxify people with severe physical reactions to alcohol in their bodies. After that, maybe, a patient gets about 2 weeks in “rehab” and then is right back out doing what they did before. Statistically, the recovery rate for such people is around 5% IF they attend “rehab”. Without rehab, well the recovery rate is close to zero for an alcoholic.

Yes that is crazy but people, millions of people each day, do it all the time in America today. And the cause is just ONE mental illness, most of the time for such people. The only remedy so far is to try to “talk them out of it” a crazy act that kills and creates all sorts of mayhem in society today at the cost of, again, $ Billions each year.

From the “outside”, Robin Williams had it all, fame, wealth, a family that cared and the list goes on. He sought all sorts of treatment as well, recently readmitting himself back into rehabilitation for a short time. Yet look what happened. Why the world should now ask and no one can provide a solid, science based answer, at least that I have heard. As well the world asked why the young man in Connecticut did what he did and no science based answer has been forthcoming from the mental health community, again that I have heard.

Had Robin Williams died of cancer after medical science had done all it could, people would mourn but not ask “why” he died. Well I ask “why”, now, why there is not better treatment (over 50 years) from the mental health community for alcoholism, and a host of other DSM V (I think that is the latest issue of mental health diseases). Was Robin Williams taking the best anti-depression medication available today and if not, why not, comes to mind. If despite such modern medication he still committed suicide, then “why” becomes the question in his case. Or instead was it some form of both alcoholism and depression that killed him? Note if you will, Robin Williams ultimately CHOSE to kill himself. Why?

Hell’s bells, in “polite” society, such questions won’t even be asked and we will just speak of what a great man he was, looking only at that half full glass and politely ignoring the half empty part with science driving the questions, not personal attacks or whatever against a great man with a terrible disease(s).

Having experienced the death of both parents due to alcoholism, loving parents, 50 years ago and now observing mental health conditions in America today, I ask “why” that science based community has not made the same progress seen in the physical health profession today over that same period of time.

I ask readers to consider that question and begin to ask “why” themselves in a more public forum and NOT ignoring what I believe is a huge “elephant” in the living rooms of America today.

And when you ask the question, please don’t react by thinking that just throwing more money at the problem will work. Go to downtown Joplin and give a drunk and homeless man $10 and see what happens, for starters. Hell, take him home with you to provide food, shelter, clothing, etc. and see what happens a week later. Feeling sorry for that man does nothing to relieve him of his disease(s) and throwing more money into temporary solutions out of humanitarian concerns does not achieve much at all as well, other than temporary relief.

SPACE, TIME, KNOWLEDGE AND OTHER THINGS

August 11, 2014

SPACE, TIME, KNOWLEDGE AND OTHER THINGS

This blog started in my mind as simply a book report on an exceptional book I just finished. The Cosmic Landscape, by Leonard Susskind is the book. If nothing else, it brought me up to current thinking in terms of the subject of physics, the science of mass, energy and why things move and “work” as they do. But it also unleashed a torrent of philosophy (of a sort) in my mind. Hopefully you will understand why that was the case if you read through my thoughts on the matter.

For reasons I still do not understand, I have always been fascinated by “science”, the knowledge of how things “work” and the recognition of many things we yet do not know and understand. Scientists are like explorers, constantly advancing the frontiers of knowledge, finding things well beyond our current horizons. When I was about 9 years old I first saw the rings of Saturn through a telescope set up one evening on a college campus. You can imagine the questions that came to my mind, then and now, about “how did they get there?” and a host of other related issues.

50 years ago my college education focused on all sorts of “science”. I studied chemistry, physics, electrical engineering, thermodynamics, metallurgy, lots of math, nuclear physics, even a course in quantum mechanics. What I learned then is so far out of date now that I wonder if I really learned anything. As well I did not specialize in a particular field of knowledge such as obtaining a major in say chemistry. Scientifically I went a mile wide and about an inch deep with some understanding about a lot of subjects but no real depth of knowledge in a given field. Such was the nature of my college years, being trained to become a Naval Officer, not a “scientist” or even a degreed engineer.

With one or two exceptions, my scientific education was limited to classical theories with only one or two courses that probed the emerging worlds of chemistry and physics. By the time I started actually operating nuclear reactors I was well educated in how everything from atoms “on up” worked under particular conditions, including splitting them to create energy and the engineering to contain that energy for useful purposes. That was a hard sought “frontier” of knowledge for me, to learn how things “worked” on the nuclear (atomic) level of science. Even today I could give a good lecture on how to take a nuclear reactor critical for example, to a group of high school kids (assuming they would sit still long enough to listen!!).

But science has gone so much farther than my little “horizon” of knowledge that I feel unable to grasp many of the things that science now endeavors to learn more about. Thus the book which at a layman’s level brought me up to speed on current topics and ideas being investigated by science today on both the macroscopic (the universe) and micro-microscopic levels (elementary particles).

Permit me to provide an example. If a hard working college student of reasonable but not genius level intelligence studied physics today he or she would know as much about quantum mechanics as I did about classical physics, in 1965. But they would also know more about classical physics today, after four years in college, than I did when I graduated. How do you cram all that stuff into brains the same size as mine, I continue to wonder. As well a current physics student would be conversant in String Theory and its implications as well.

Two topics that were not even topics as far as I knew 50 years ago are cosmology and elementary particle physics. Just how big is the universe and how do really little things, things much smaller than atoms, protons, neutrons and electrons “work” is the scope of the two subjects and they must work together to find answers it seems. The referenced book is filled with such details.

I offer just a smattering of information provided in the referenced book.

When Columbus sailed many believed the world was flat and had no idea what was beyond the horizon. Some were afraid to even go look. Today science believes, knows quite well it seems, that we have a cosmic horizon, one about 14 billion light-years distant from us. String theory tells us that something more is beyond that current horizon. And rather than a spherical universe, our universe, String Theory is leading many to consider a flat universe, a “sheet” that goes 14 Billion light-years in either of two dimensions. Einstein believed if one shot a “bullet” into the sky it would eventually return to hit the shooter in the back of his head, a spherical universe. Not so now by current thinking. Go figure that one out if you can.

String Theory also implies a “megaverse”, a range of space filled with other universes, some trillion upon trillion and then more of “other universes” or possibilites of such. The book uses layman language and suggests vivid pictures in one’s mind to make sense of what would seem to be nonsense as well. Science today believes, knows to some degree of certainty, that there are about 10 to the power of 22 (over a billion, trillion) planets in our own universe. What are the odds that one more than ours has an environment that allows liquid water to existed and thus, maybe, life sort of like ours. Then, using the math of String Theory, consider that there are about 10 to the power of 500 regions in the “megaverse” that could contain universes such as ours or vastly different ones as well in terms of the Laws of Physics, on a “megaverse” scale of thinking.

Incidentally, the author introduces the idea of a “Landscape” of space, where the Laws of Physics might well be very different from our own. Some of them may well have NO speed limit in that universe, or at least one much faster (or slower) than our own speed of light.

Readers may think I am just nuts or really off on a tangent to write such a blog. Most would not even consider trying to read the book as well.

But the good thing about writing as an old man, I get to pick my subjects and interests now. I struggled to write a term paper as a senior in high school on Einstein’s theory of relativity. Little did I know at that time just how far science would go since 1960 in both valid observations through experimentation and the new horizons (based primarily on mathematics, not observation through experimentation) of scientific knowledge today.

Who knows what tomorrow might bring. But I, for one hope to live long enough to buy and use a quantum computer. Instead of just atoms and electrons moving around, such a computer would “work” using bosons, fermions, quarks, gluons and a bunch of other things that I cannot remember or never knew “existed”. This book tells me such is really possible, and a lot more as well.

PRIORITIZING PUBLIC SCHOOL PROBLEMS

July 25, 2014

PRIORITIZING PUBLIC SCHOOL PROBLEMS

Nationally and locally, complaints about public schools are legion, a lot of them. I suggest that the accumulation of problems over time, like the last 50 years, has resulted in a list so long that no one can “fix the system” to avoid the myriad complaints all at once. The really big ones, legitimate complaints must be fixed, first, or at least mitigated to a degree to move that complaint or issue lower down, making it a lesser complaint or issue.

Since the campaign for the April 2014 local election began I have read the Turner Report frequently. That blogger and I disagree on just about every issue addressed during that campaign and I wanted to “know my detractors” and their views as I began to write publicly about such issues. Since the election I have continued to read that blog several times a week to remain up to date on what the blogger and his supporters are concerned about, particularly how our public school system, R-8, is being operated.

In this blog I focus on the problem of first deciding what the “biggest problem” might be in Joplin public schools. I challenge anyone to conduct a thorough review of the Turner Report over the last two years alone, starting with the firing of the author of that blog by the Board of Education and find a prioritization of problems to be confronted and fixed or mitigated. I would submit that the “biggest problem” according to that blog is the performance of the Superintendent of Schools and the BOE. Fire Dr. Huff and stack the BOE with Turner blog supporters and all will be resolved is the general thrust of that blog. In other words our problem in public schools is performance by elected officials and one man, the leader of the R-8 district.

Turner did not always write such attacks as best I can tell. He only focused his diatribes after he was legally and correctly in my view, fired for poor performance. I refer you to a recent blog at http://rturner229.blogspot.com/2014/07/before-bright-futures-before-c-j-huff.html. He reposts a 2008 blog wherein he addresses the problem of public school drop out rates.

That blog, written before Dr. Huff started working as the R-8 Superintendent, addressed how severe drop out rates had become and the need to address that problem. But he then does what many public educators have done, since 2008, and blame the problem on society, with little or no constructive advice on how society can fix the problem, much less how schools could do so In other words, a blog written by a teacher in 2008 does not indicate in any way what Dr. Huff or teachers themselves should do to resolve or at least mitigate the issue of drop out rates.

To me at least, such is a classic example of failing to identify the KEY issue confronting public education, locally or nationally. Drop out rate is NOT that key issue. Our public education system fails to produce graduates that have the level of knowledge and behavior skills to either enter college or trade schools directly or the work place as productive employees in a modern society today.

If every graduate learns, during 12 years of public education, “how to learn”, level of knowledge in core subjects and how to behave themselves then the major issue of failing public education would be resolved. Focus first on those that graduate and make sure they meet modern requirements for level of knowledge and behavior and do that FIRST is my long stated “goal” for public education.

The failure to achieve that goal or effective progress towards meeting that goal is the “biggest problem” facing public education, in Joplin, today.

Now drop out rate. I submit that progress has been made to reduce that problem and that Dr. Huff and the local BOE worked tirelessly at the State level to achieve progress. It was done very simply as well. The State Law was changed to require all students to remain in school until the age of 17 (vice sixteen). If that law was further changed to raise the age of legal “drop out” to the age of 18 another spike in graduation rate would be observed, in my view. In other words, thru the law, kids and parents in general are forced to “behave themselves” better by forcing students to remain in school for an additional year.

Of course that legal approach does absolutely nothing to keep those older kids from being “hoodlums” in classes. That remains the responsibility of individual teachers. But Turner does not address that issue, how teachers must better control students to achieve the primary goal, graduation of each student that “means something” later on as they enter adulthood. I guess that is “society’s problem” as well, at least according to Turner.

Well maybe that is not correct. Based on rather close reading of his blog of late, just firing one man and replacing various members of the BOE will achieve the goal of producing good graduates is all that is needed, I suppose, at least “according to Turner” and his supporters.

Permit me if you will to make a short list of “Turner complaints” about the local school system published in his blog in the last several months. I am sure I have missed some, but here is such a list. Huff’s salary is too high. Huff failed to report speaker fees as required and maybe even failed to pay taxes on them or some of them. Huff unjustly refused to renew contracts for various teachers and principals. The BOE unjustly allowed Huff to do so. Turner was unjustly fired. The BOE has wasted tax payer dollars while recovering from the tornado in 2011. Financial reserves have gone far too low since the tornado. Teachers have not been given sufficient pay and raises to such pay. Janitors and other staff have unjustly had working hours cut. The BOE is poised to improperly ask for a long term loan to make up financial shortfalls, with no tax payer approval of such action. The BOE is poised to improperly ask for a short term loan to cover expenses while awaiting reimbursement from state and federal authorities for restoration of destroyed facilities, without taxpayer approval of such action, again. Teacher retention rate (no longer drop out rate for students) is a looming disaster for R-8. The payroll for the administrative staff is far too high. Too many “teacher coaches” are on that administrative staff.

Nowhere on that long list of complaints to be found on the Turner Report is the issue of improving the quality in terms of increased level of knowledge AND behavior of all graduates from Joplin High School. If the State audit of “performance” by the local school district is going to be meaningful, I suggest the auditors look carefully why producing better graduates lacks the needed progress to improve.

OR, of course, the auditors could determine that R-8 is on the right track in such an effort. As well the auditors COULD term that all the above complaints found on the Turner Report are simply a tempest in a tea pot and fail to address KEY issues affecting public school performance as well.

We’ll see, in about six months when the audit is completed. Until then I think I will just no longer read the Turner Report.

STEPS TO IMMIGRATION REFORM

July 10, 2014

STEPS TO IMMIGRATION REFORM

An interesting exchange started on the EC blog but has not yet been concluded in my view. Thus this blog.

I challenged Duane Graham to state the immigration reforms that he SUPPORTED and not just throw barbs at what the GOP was doing or trying to achieve. He responded in a blog found at http://duanegraham.wordpress.com/2014/07/06/christians-beware-a-10-point-plan-on-immigration-reform/. Surprisingly, to me, I found that we were not all that far apart, fundamentally. However the dialog stopped at that point with no further comments from Graham or his supporters. To understand the nuances in this blog, I suggest you read the linked blog and comments thereto first.

We in America have both a National Security issue and a humanitarian situation on our southern border. Graham and I agree, substantially, on that point. But the kicker is that he agrees that we must have better control of our southern border today. However how to achieve that goal he suggests be left to “experts” which neither of us happen to be, “experts” on controlling who enters America across our southern border. But I believe it does not take an “expert” to envision such border control. Countries have been doing it for millennia, humanely in most cases.

Anyone entering any country should do so in accordance with the “rules”, the law if you will, stating specifically who can enter any country. Certainly such laws can be very unfair, biased, prejudicial, etc. For example a law could state requirements in terms of ethnicity, skin color, political or social orientation, etc. Or instead the laws can allow essentially anyone to enter a country, an open border if you will. Or of course there is a set of laws that find a “middle ground” if you will as to who might be allowed to cross a border, legally.

Basically, our current laws require anyone legally crossing the border, any border defining the boundaries of the United States of America, to obtain “permission” before crossing that border. That usually is in the form of a visa, advanced permission for anyone to enter the USA. What’s wrong with that requirement, a requirement established by almost all countries in the world?

OK, there are special cases, refugees if you will, those seeking political asylum because their country of origin is too “harsh”, unfair, etc. We have laws that define the requirements to be accepted into the USA without a pre-approved visa, for those fleeing oppression. Show up at a border without prior permission, apply for asylum and then enter the USA once your application for asylum is approved. What’s wrong with that approach?

In fact we take it a step farther for those seeking asylum. Generally speaking such asylum seekers are allowed to enter America but are “contained” while their application for asylum is processed through our courts, a legal process to validate the need, on a case by case or individual basis, for asylum. We are supposed to detain such asylum seekers, according to law.

The real and immediate crux of the matter today however is we do not follow those proscribed laws, have a legal visa to enter America or apply for asylum, legally, when crossing the border. Instead our long and very porous southern border is flooded with people trying to enter America illegally.

So is not the first step in that process to “secure our southern borders” to only allow people to enter America legally, by some legal definition other than just “showing up and looking for a better job”, etc.?

Other that just opening our borders to anyone, criminals, terrorists, people looking for a free ride at tax payer expense in America, etc. we must have some criteria or definitions that anyone must meet, before entering America, should we not? We have those laws on the books already, but now fail, miserably to enforce them. People from foreign lands now believe that if they can just “make it across the border” they will be allowed to remain in America as long as they want to so remain. Thus we see the current flood of illegal immigration by kids, adults, terrorists, criminals, malcontents of all sorts, some intending to cause great harm to America if they can just “get in”.

We have two big problems right now in America, both caused by a very porous southern border, I submit. What do we do with the vast number that are already here, illegally and remain here, illegally is the first problem, with more arriving at our southern border each day? Second how do we allow more legal immigrants into America, today?

I submit we cannot fix either problem, what to do with those already here or how to open our borders, legally, to more immigrants, until we secure our southern border, humanly, but at the same time stop those trying to cross the border illegally in a continuing flood.

We already do a good job of border control for those arriving by air or sea, the normal means of transportation into America for most immigrants. What we have thus far failed to do is control the land routes into America from the south. Any “expert” would say that we must “funnel” immigrants through control points on land routes, just as we do for airplanes and ships arriving in America. So why not do exactly that, funnel all immigrants crossing our southern borders through legal control points for entry into America?

The real reason many illegal immigrants now attempt to enter America, illegally, is they fully expect that after all is said and done they will be allowed to remain here and go free IMMEDIATELY after crossing our border, illegally. They want no control, no check points, no visas, no applications for asylum to be considered by courts of law. They simply want to go free in America, to do as they so choose to do like any other American citizen. As well, once they are here illegally and are “caught” breaking American law they demand the full privileges of any American citizen under our laws. They even would demand full legal representation at American taxpayer expense to argue their cases in courts even though they have no legal right to be here in the first place.

Can we effectively control access across our southern borders today? Yes we can I assert as a “non-expert” and I further believe we can do so humanly, at some considerable expense to American taxpayers. As well we need not have court cases so backlogged that it takes years to settle a single case in such jammed packed courts of law. After we bear the expense of regaining entry control of our southern border, we can and should devote the legal resources to moving immigration cases through such courts rapidly, fairly and of course legally, under IMMIGRATION LAW, not laws afforded to others in America legally in the first place.

If a ship at sea endures flooding, the first priority is to stop the flow of water into the ship. That is the emergency, stop the flooding. Fail to do so and ships sink, at sea or inport. After the flooding stops then other more careful efforts are then made to restore the ship (of State) to normal conditions under laws and regulations controlling the operation of any ship (of State).

FAITH IS WHAT ONE, ALONE, BELIEVES

June 23, 2014

FAITH IS WHAT ONE, ALONE, BELIEVES

I rarely comment on a blog with a blog of my own. But in this case, I am compelled to do so. Bottom line I am sick and tired of everyone on God’s green earth telling me what I should believe and do according to “God’s Will”, just sick of it.

What has really gotten my goat this time is a local event and the reaction to it, by a local Christian church, Ignite Church, located near my home and one that I drive by, frequently. Up until the Sunday Globe all I knew about that church was that it had a lot of young people surrounding it on occasion, waving signs, singing and trying to attract folks to attend services therein. Certainly nothing untoward was noted in dress, language, signs, etc.

But a front page article in the Globe showed the church, a Christian church, giving away two AR-15 “assault rifles” in a fund raising raffle. Then the commentary began, all over the place. The Globe did a reasonably good job getting reaction from a few religious leaders in Joplin, mostly negative reaction and it referenced some pretty strong online reaction as well. frankly, I am of the opinion that religous leaders should worry about their own “flock” and let other flocks fly as they like, as long as they obey the law in doing so.

But the Globe also ran comments by the minister of that church, a man described as having a “short Mohawk” haircut and “tattoos”. The implication of course was that a man with such a haircut and “tattoos” was suspect in terms of his view of God’s Will, for anyone.

OK, let folks get a little roused up. So what, right! Well then I read the Erstwhile Conservative blog. He used that church as an almost universal example of “religion in Joplin” or even Southwest Missouri, moaning in his cups about just how “crazy” everyone around here might be. Thus this blog!

I begin by noting that Ignite Church did nothing illegal that I can tell. Nor am I aware of any Christian restrictions on the ownership of weapons, assault weapons in particular. Of course there were no assault weapons during the time of Christ but I don’t believe he suggested that all swords held by Romans be turned over. Was it Christ that spoke of turning “swords into plowshares” or someone else and in which “Testament” in the Christian Bible? I’m Not Sure, Are You? Frankly in today’s world I believe “swords”, like nuclear weapons play an important role to keep me safe, and my family as well. But that is politics, not religion also.

But I believe the teachings of Christ related to how one used such things, weapons, not about whether or not someone should owe such things. So I suggest that Christianity as a religion only focuses on the use of weapons, not ownership. But maybe I am wrong, or maybe not. So what as it is what I “believe” and who are you to tell me I am wrong in such beliefs.

No doubt, the Ignite Church was not in any way politically correct today, except maybe in Southwest Missouri, to encourage ownership of assault weapons. If they had given away a .22 rifle would the uproar be as loud, I wonder? But you see that is a political reaction, not, or should not be, a religious reaction.

Let me be clear on that point. Politically I fully support strict, very strict control of gun ownership in America. More specifically I would support laws that outlaw the possession of hand guns (pistols) and all semi-automatic rifles. If you can’t “kill a deer” with one shot then go back to target practice to hunt is my call. I also assume automatic rifles are outlawed already, but am not certain on that point.

But to uphold that political belief I would NEVER try to argue that it was “God’s Will” to craft such a law. I have a pretty clear idea how God would suggest any weapon be used, or not, but owning one, well I have never heard God comment on that point, or any other political point in America. Are you arrogant enough to tell me that God has spoken to you on that point and you are simply being God’s mouthpiece???

I can be a friend with an atheist, an agnostic or someone that holds deep faith in God, and Christ as well if that is their belief, or Buddha, or Allah, etc. But I won’t share their faith either. Each to his own is my view. Don’t push yours onto me and I will not advocate my faith (or lack thereof) back at you. As well if you honestly BELIEVE that it is God’s Will to do something, fine go do it as long as it is legal. And if you think something should not be legal to do, then simply don’t do it, yourself. But if it is legal, political if you will, then don’t try to change a law that I might like by denigrating my faith, or lack thereof as well.

Another point if you will. I despise the message of people from Westborough Baptist Church, particularly when they insult the dead soldiers at funerals in front of families. Despicable in my view and certainly not what I believe God would want me to do. But legally, they have every right to say what they like, in a place deemed legal as well by competent authorities. Such authorities can and should respect free speech and the grief of loved ones as well. That is called a compromise, I think and God likes such things, I believe.

That my readers is the separation of church and state, in my view. Obviously, if one believes the Christian Bible, murder is wrong. I agree with God on that point and “there outta be a law” in that regard. But there are no laws now in America that outlaw adultery, today, at least that I am aware of. That suits me just fine as well. Let God dictate sex (except when violence is used) and let men worry about more pragmatic things, like murder!!

At least today, liberals are “defined” by a lack of deep religious conviction and conservatives as those with great “faith” in God. Well that misses me by a long shot and I do not believe I am alone in that regard. But frankly, I don’t give a damn if I am as well. It is just what I alone believe in terms of God and His Will for me that counts. If I think God’s Will is to do something illegal, then let men judge my actions and God take care of me, later on!!

One final point. If the minister of Ignite Church, or members of his congregation started telling people to use guns to achieve their interpretation of God’s Will, well I might get my own shotgun out to confront them and might well believe I would do so with God’s blessing, maybe!!! But make fun of them, denigrate them for their religion, their faith in God, perverted though it may seem to be to me, I won’t do that and don’t believe political pundits like the Erstwhile Conservative should tread on such ground either.

But he will for sure, even though at one point in his life he was a self-confessed evangelical preacher. Boy would I like to have copies of some of those old sermons to preach right back to him, today, in a blog on politics!!


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