Category Archives: Philosophy

COVID-19 – Take Two

I apologize if this sounds brutal or uncaring, but I believe it is a legitimate subject. I am speaking, of course, of the future impact of COVID-19, now that we have at least two variants in addition to the original virus.

The scientists predict that the mutated virus will not only infect unprotected people, but in the process will continue to mutate, potentially leading to more deadly strains.

Some people cannot be vaccinated due to a variety of medical issues, such as those who are immunosuppressed. Those who have had an organ transplant are given medications to reduce the chance of rejection of the transplanted organ. People who are undergoing radiation or chemotherapy are also immunosuppressed, as are people with other medical conditions. Fortunately, this is not a huge segment of the population.

Those who have chosen not to be vaccinated, on the other hand, are a much larger group, and are clustered in rural areas. There are six states with less than 35 percent of their population vaccinated that are believed to be at higher risk. Currently, these include Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Wyoming.

It is feared that the unvaccinated could act as a virus incubator resulting in additional, potentially more contagious and more lethal strains of the virus. In a worst case scenario, this could lead to a repeat of the significant restrictions we saw earlier.

From a scientific point of view, the results will be interesting. It would have been better to examine the results in petri dishes in an isolated laboratory. In that case, the petri dishes would be sterilized and disposed of as biohazardous waste. Instead, we may once again see people in body bags stored in refrigerated trucks.

Independence Day

Writing the Declaration of Independence, 1776, an idealized depiction of (left to right) Franklin, Adams, and Jefferson working on the Declaration was widely reprinted (by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, 1900). Courtesy Wikipedia.

Independence Day, the fourth of July, is celebrated as the birthday of the United States. It was not, as some believe, the day the Declaration of Independence was signed. Given that this was a congress-the Continental Congress, the precursor to the United States Congress-it is no surprise that things took longer than expected.

Richard Henry Lee of Virginia had proposed a resolution for independence, which was finally adopted without opposition, on July 2, 1776. John Adams believed that the second of July would be the day celebrated. However, even though the resolution had been passed, the final wording of the Declaration of Independence was not approved until two days later with copies printed and distributed.

Although the language of the Declaration of Independence was approved on 4 July, there is historical debate as to when the document was actually singed. The best information is that about three-quarters of the members of Congress signed it on that date. Others are believed to have signed it after 2 August. This included several who had not yet been elected to Congress on 4 July 1776. In any case, once the Declaration was passed on 2 July,, it was official.

I would ask you to read the last sentence of this marvelous document.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

How many members of Congress today would commit so completely to our nation?

The Good Old Days and the NRA

I’m what they used to call, “long in the tooth” or a “grey beard.” I still have my own teeth, thank you, and if I grew a beard, it would indeed be grey. How do I know? Because the hair I have left on my head is grey and I’m damn glad to still have some, at least.

I’ve read many of the “back when” blogs. Yes, I drank from the garden hose. I rode my bike without a helmet–after all, helmets back then were for only soldiers, football players, and jet pilots. I still relate to the years when a gallon of gasoline sold for 36.9 cents a gallon.

Now that we’ve established that I’m ancient, there’s one important thing that I remember. This memory was triggered by a recent letter I received from the National Rifle Association. In bold letters on the front was printed, “NOTICE OF GUN CONFISCATION.”

Of course, there has been no gun confiscation.

The content inside was a plea for donations to the NRA. They used fear to get people’s attention.

I was a member of the NRA for many years. I remember the NRA differently. When I was a teenager, NRA instructors taught gun safety and marksmanship. Where was the shooting range? It was in the basement of my Catholic elementary school. That was where NRA instructors taught me gun safety and marksmanship. To this day, I treat every firearm as loaded. I am always aware as to where my muzzle is pointed and ensure it is pointed in a safe direction. I keep my finger out of the trigger guard. I only point a weapon at something I intend to shoot.

To me, using a gun to settle a dispute only occured on television.

As a parent, I have taken each of my children to the range and taught them gun safety and how to target shoot. Guns had no fascination for them either. They were taught that if a friend asked, “Do you want to see my parents’ gun?” they were to come straight home, immediately.

In the past five generations, we have never had a gun incident and the NRA was actually part of the solution.

As they say, if you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem. Today, with their fear tactics, the NRA is no longer part of the solution.

Blogs are Hard

I have written over 70 blogs that I never finished. Most were thoughts that I really wanted to share, but I couldn’t because of my day job. Mind you, I never disagreed with the requirements of my day job, but I will soon retire and no longer be quite so constrained.

Ask any writer if writing is a challenge. If they tell you it’s not, they’re either lying or Stephen King. (Great first name, Mr. King.)

Having over 70 good ideas that I couldn’t publish says something. That’s as many sidelined blogs as years I will celebrate in September. However, soon, I will be able to be more honest.

I hope you don’t hate me if I am honest.

Oh, yeah!?!!

We have become a divided and divisive society. No matter what the topic, it seems that at least one side takes their viewpoint as a religious crusade or jihad. The other side, they seem to opine are all degenerate idiots who engage in pagan rituals at the dinner table.

Here’s an example, based on the question “Is Drinking Non-Homogenized Milk Healthier Than Drinking Homogenized Milk?” from Brittanica

Pro – Robert Cohen, Executive Director of the Dairy Education Board, wrote in his article “Homogenized Milk: Rocket Fuel for Cancer,” accessed Nov. 28, 2007 on the Health 101 website:    “Homogenization is the worst thing that dairymen did to milk. Simple proteins rarely survive digestion in a balanced world. . . .”

Con – Laura Paajanen, Division of Nutrition at the University of Helsinki, and Tuula Tuure, Researcher at Vailo Ltd., et al., wrote in their 2003 article, “No Difference in Symptoms During Challenges with Homogenized and Unhomogenized Cow’s Milk in Subjects with Subjective Hypersensitivity to Homogenized Milk,” published in the Journal of Dairy Research.

The term “Rocket Fuel for Cancer” is, of course, a well-known scientific term. It is believed to have been first used in 1676 by Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, the scientist who discovered bacteria. Van Leeuwenhoek spent the rest of his life desperately trying to find what “rocket fuel” was.  His search was unsuccessful and he died in debtors’ prison, having spent every penny (or was it pfennig?) on the search

I say, if you want to fight, find something that strikes at the heart. For example, did you know every day of the week is named after a pagan god?

Sunday – Named after Sol, the Roman and Norse god of the sun

Monday – Named in honor of Mani, Norse goddess of the moon

Tuesday – Tiw, the Incan god of single combat

Wednesday – Wodin, also known as Odin, Norse god and father of Thor.

Thursday – Like father like son, Thor, the God of thunder, lighting, and strength

Friday – Frige’s day—Frige was the Norse goddess of love and SEX!!! Did you hear me, SEX! She was known in Rome as Venus.

Saturday – Saturnus, Roman god of plenty, wealth, and agriculture

And just to add fuel to the fire, guess which kind of milk they all preferred????????

Does This Look Odd?

Donald Trump et al. standing in front of a crowd

The Interior Department Inspector General decided that the US Park Police acted appropriately last year when they cleared protesters from Lafayette Park. They cleared the area just before the president was photographed, holding a Bible in front of St. John’s Church.

Here’s the link to the article [LINK].

Whether you agree or disagree, there’s one thing I find confusing about the picture from the article (reproduced above). Notice all armed, uniformed police officers, some wearing riot gear. Did you spot it?

Standard procedure for providing protective services is to always face in the direction of possible threats. If there’s a crowd, face toward the crowd. If the VIP is boarding the plane, don’t watch the VIP go up the stairs–look for threats. In order to head off danger, they must always watch the directions from which a threat may come.

Makes sense.

So why are all of the police facing Trump?

Pants On Fire

Huey Long ends epic Senate filibuster, June 13, 1935 ...
Huey P. Long—Master Politician

Among the many old jokes I recall is this one:

Q: How do you know when politicians are lying?
A: Their lips are moving.

When I was a child, I remember my father asking–usually during election season–“Why would anyone spend millions and millions of dollars on a campaign in order to be elected to a job that pays far less than that?” Good question. Unfortunately, the only logical answers are based on the idea that there is remuneration in other ways.

We’ve long accepted that politicians will say or do anything to further their ambitions. And why do they do this? For power and money. In fairness, power and money are inherently attractive to most human beings. However, some lack the opportunity. Some are unwilling to sacrifice their morals and ethics. Some go into politics.

Demagogues make it clear which is the most attractive. Genghis Khan, Joseph Stalin, and Adolph Hitler did not worry about money. None of them whipped out their wallet when they wanted something–they just told their lackeys to get it and armies marched in to take it. Like energy and matter being converted from one to another, the same is true of money and power. Money buys power. Power controls money.

There is a lesson from about 100 years ago. Someone asked notorious gangster Willy Sutton why he robbed banks. Willy’s replied, “That’s where the money is!” Today the money and power is in politics and the modern day Willies know it.

Random Thoughts

Or, as George Carlin called them, brain droppings.

If someone steals my identity, wouldn’t it be easier for all concerned for me to start over with a clean slate, create a new identity, and just nullify the old one? All my bank accounts could be forwarded, just like they do with mail when you move to a new address. But if the thief tried to open an account in my name, they’d be told, sorry, that person doesn’t exist.

Wouldn’t it be great if, when we’re old enough to retire, our mind could purge all the crap we had to learn for work so we’d have enough brainpower available to remember where we left the car keys?

When e-mail and cell phones were new, they were almost sexy. Now they’re merely repositories for spam with the occasional important message buried somewhere in the mess.

Wouldn’t it be great if all of us normal people could barrage the spammers with OUR uninvited messages and offers? Somebody knows how to do this and they’d have no trouble finding volunteers.

If “celebrities” only want people to see photographs of them that are taken from the right angle, perfectly lighted, and then Photo-shopped, how would we even recognize them in real-life. Don’t forget, this means cellulite and all.

If, as I’ve read in the news, there’s a shortage of workers for lower paying jobs–like fast food, etc. Maybe we could convince people from poorer countries into moving here and taking those jobs.

Memorial Day – A Selfish View

How COVID Is Affecting Memorial Day 2021 - TREMG

Memorial Day honors those who have died in defense of our country. Veterans Day, in November, honors those who served. For this reason I do not celebrate Memorial Day, I observe it.

However, there’s one tiny part of Memorial Day that is a bit celebratory on a personal level.

Fifteen years ago, the Sailors I was responsible for were returning home. These sailors had been boots-on-the-ground supporting the Army. Many had carried weapons every day and dealt with mortar fire, rockets, and IEDs. All had worked hard while enduring desert heat, mountain cold, or ankle deep mud.

Some I knew well, others, not so much, but given that there were hundreds spread all over Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kuwait, it wasn’t possible to spend more than a little time with some. I never know their political views nor did I care. I do know that we had a number who were not American citizens. Dozens were sworn in as citizens in desert cammies while deployed. Dozens more had completed all the requirements and were sworn in after they returned home.

The Command Master Chief and I were the last ones off the last plane home. He took the lead, as he often did, and we checked inside the passenger compartment, then the cargo bay to make sure that all our people were off the plane and inside the terminal.

Together, we breathed a sigh of relief. We had returned without a single casualty. On Memorial Days, we would not grieve the loss of any of our Sailors.

However, more than a few of those from other units stationed with our Sailors had lost men and women. Today, while thanking God that none of our people are honored today, in war, too many are lost–the number doesn’t matter, it is always too many.

Far too many.

Almost Normal?

Maybe we made it. I hope so.

Vaccinated people can now visit certain places without wearing a mask. Churches around here are going back to live, in-person services, rather than virtual online services. I won’t know what to do if the priest doesn’t periodically freeze or jitter during Mass like he did via the Internet, but I’ll get used to it.

I always told my kids that I’m a planner and therefore paid to be paranoid. I wonder if we could have reached this near-normal state earlier if wearing a mask hadn’t been perceived as a political statement. How would it have been if the COVID vaccine had been accepted the way the mass polio vaccinations were.

In the military, people are trained to understand that after a firefight or a battle is over, it’s best to be prepared for another attack. I hope we don’t have to worry about that with COVID, but it is one of the possibilities.

But then, I’m paid to be paranoid.

Heavenly Entertainment

"Musical Angels" Religious Stained Glass Window
“It’s a jazz riff in B, watch for the changes, and try to keep up.”

We all have strange beliefs. Mine is that my life is entertainment for the dead.

When people die and get to heaven, at first, it’s busy—music lessons and practice. Harps are probably the main ones that must be taught. Harps are complex; on earth they tend to go out of tune at the slightest breeze, which shouldn’t be a problem in heaven. Many other instruments, such as the tambourine or timbrel are percussion and almost intuitive. There are no accordions.

From what I can tell, the angels have the horn section covered.

In any case, before too long, heaven could get boring. God anticipated this, of course, so He arranged for alternative activities. One of which is that they treat my life like a situation comedy. They look forward to the next exciting episode, asking, “I wonder what humorous situation he’ll face this week?”

I must be doing okay, because so far I haven’t been canceled, at least to the best of my knowledge.

I figure the Steve Show must be the only true reality entertainment. It’s kind of like the old Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. You knew which guests were scheduled, but have an idea as to what will happen.

I thought, if that’s the case, would it be better if it were scripted?

The Steve Show

Characters: The cats, the dog, the parrot, the woman, and the man (Steve).

It’s dark—too dark to see anything. Things become slightly visible as though eyes are adjusting to the dark. There is a beeping sound that increases in volume. A slit widens, showing a digital clock. A hand fumbles, attempting to find the switch to turn off the alarm.

The man: (groaning) Ohhhh.

Man sits on edge of bed to the accompaniment of cracking sounds.

                The woman: (Has obviously already had at least one cup of coffee downstairs.) Are you up? Yes? Good. Love you babe.

                The man: (groaning) Ohhhh.

Man walks into bathroom and turns on the light, walks into the water closet room and closes door. Sound of toilet flushing as door reopens. Man looks into the mirror but isn’t quite able to focus on the reflection. Asks his reflection.

                The man: (groaning) What day is this?

Turns water on in shower, takes off clothes, tosses them toward the dirty clothes hamper, misses. Stares at clothes on the floor before picking them up and dropping them into the hamper. Steps into shower. Intermittent splashing sounds heard.

                The man: (groaning) Makes indeterminate guy sounds.

On the other hand, maybe unscripted spontaneity is better.

Ring! Ring! Hello?

Lily Tomlin's Lifetime of Funny Characters
“Have I reached the party to whom I am speaking?” The inimitable Lily Tomlin

I have a computer.

The first version of a digital computer by any stretch of the imagination was the Atanasoff-Berry Computer in 1937. The first personal computer, the Altair 8800 was available to geeks and other hobbyists in 1973, but required knowledge of computer and electronic technology. The first IBM PC—generally accepted as the first consumer-friendly (more-or-less) was unveiled in 1981.

My computer has a firewall, anti-malware, virus detection, virtual private network, spam filters, and other protective software that are readily available and affordable. This seems reasonable.

I have a telephone, a smartphone.

While many inventors were involved with the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell introduced the first- commercially viable telephone in 1876. That was almost a century before the Altair 8800 and just over a century before the IBM PC. For years, the telephone company controlled every aspect of consumer telephones, which led to such advancements as telephones with dials and eventually, telephones with push buttons (yawn).

Even with ~100 years head start, the telephone manufacturers and telephone companies have done little to help their consumers. I’m average so that 90 percent of the telephone calls I receive are spam. The spammers make so much money that when they are sued, the judgement is considered a (tiny) cost of doing business.

With my smartphone, I can surf the internet, send text messages, make international calls, and find the nearest Lithuanian-Italian restaurant. However, I can’t do anything about the 10 spam phone calls I receive each day because the spammers spoof the phone number they’re calling from.

Why don’t the telephone companies address this? My suspicion is that a) they aren’t willing to invest any money in solving the problem and; b) they just might make money off the spammers who maintain a thousand phone lines to call the rest of us.

Since it’s all driven by money, I suggest that Congress (if they ever decide to agree on anything) pass a law that the telephone companies have to pay their customers twenty-five cents for every spam call we receive. That will be the end of spam.

The Laws of the Game

As I approach retirement, I wish to share the wisdom that I have acquired from working over half a century.

There are certain rules that businesses follow. These are not prescriptive, nor are they written down anywhere, but businesses gravitate toward them the same way that moths gravitate toward lightbulbs. I am neither condoning nor endorsing these, I am merely sharing my observations.

  • Any problem in business can be resolved by training.
    • Q: Poor customer service? A: Training!
    • Q: Defective merchandise? A: Training!
    • Q: Nuclear radiation leak? A: Training!
    • Q: Cicadas hatching? A: Training!!
    • Q: Romulan Warbird uncloaking? A: Training!!!
  • Training must always be conducted by expensive external consultants.
  • It is always best to develop expertise within a small group and carefully protect it. It must remain within this cylinder of excellence and is not to be shared.
  • When working with another organization that has processes and procedures that work perfectly, they must be replaced since they are NIH (not invented here).
  • Every organization conducts drills, simulations, exercises, etc. When these are complete, meetings are held, after action reports written and other efforts undertaken to ensure that all lessons learned are captured. After the last meeting, the reports, data, etc. are either filed or shredded, never to be seen again. This allows the same wheel to be reinvented over and over.

If you look around the company or organization where you work, don’t be surprised if you see all or most of these.

The Ancient Levant

If you’re planning on solving a world problem, it might be wise to know, in great detail, what you’re talking about. For example, there’s the issue of war in the Middle East.

For a moment, let’s leave the politics and who owns what out of it. With the recent conflict in Gaza, in the news, more than a few articles have been titled or focused on antisemitism. This is normally interpreted as referring to a bias against the Jews. I have a problem with that. The Jews are not the only Semites involved.

What is a Semite, anyway? The Merriam Webster dictionary provides the following:

Sem·​ite | \ ˈse-ˌmīt , especially British ˈsē-ˌmīt \ – 1a : a member of any of a number of peoples of ancient southwestern Asia including the Akkadians, Phoenicians, Hebrews, and Arabs b : a descendant of these peoples 2 : a member of a modern people speaking a Semitic language

As near as I can tell, anyone who lives, or whose ancestors lived in the Levant, is a Semite.

This should not be a surprise to anyone. The Jews trace their ancestry back to Abraham through his son, Isaac. The Arabs trace their ancestry back to Ibraham through his older son, and Isaac’s older half-brother, Ishmael. Given that Abraham and Ibraham are the same person, it’s not surprising that at various times they both lived in the same neighborhood.

The reason I bring that up is that people find it far too easy to point out where people are different from one another, often making a bad situation worse. Maybe it would be better if we focused on the things we have in common. We don’t have to agree on everything–but perhaps we shouldn’t disagree on everything, either.
The Modern Levant


To quote the Byrds, “I’m lazing on a sunny afternoon,” so I’m taking the easy way out and linking to someone else’s post.

Here’s a laugh for those of you who like sarcasm.

Teddie (Cruz) and Me.

Coefficient of Friction

Every day–or at least many days–I try to write a blog, but current events dissuade me. I confess, I automatically select Netflix when I turn on the television, even though if my granddaughters have been here, I’m immediately exposed to ICarly. (I never knew that any children’s television program could induce urticaria, borborygmi, and myclonus. Mighty Mouse never did.)

Current events, especially in Washington, DC, are so–so–so, you know. It makes it difficult to write anything that doesn’t sound desperate. I’ve got two dozen blogs I started but I haven’t finished, because of that.

So why today’s title? It should be obvious: Friction force develops between contacting surfaces of two bodies and acts to resist relative motion between the bodies. The friction force, F, is proportional to the normal force, N, and the coefficient of friction, μ.

Still not tracking?

Okay. Whenever I have an idea for a blog and then become exposed to current events, the idea either slips away on its own, or else I push it out of the way. There is not enough friction to keep it in one place.

It’s pathetic, I know, but this is the world in which we live.

Post COVID-19 Economics 2021

Pandemics have had an interesting impact on economics throughout history. While most “experts” predict doom and gloom, there is another possibility. Depending upon your economic status, it may be bad or not.

Many times when a plague hit, predictably it was the poor who bore the brunt of it, with many dying. The Black Plague, for example, has been estimated to kill one-third of Europe’s population.

When the plague abated and businesses tried to recover, the decimation of the lower class meant that there were fewer laborers available. Although many could return to their old jobs at their old wages, other businesses, desperate for workers, offered significantly higher wages to lure them away from their old employer. In some cases, they were offered two to three times as much as they had earned in the past.

The wealthy found some of these changes alarming. In the words of an anonymous English chronicler: “Such a shortage of labourers ensued that the humble turned up their noses at employment, and could scarcely be persuaded to serve the eminent for triple wages.”

The response from the wealthy was predictable. In one case, “the wealthy lobbied the English crown to pass the Ordinance of Labourers, which informed workers that they were ‘obliged to accept the employment offered‘” for the same measly wages as before.’ This was largely ignored, of course. It would require a violent suppression to force compliance. Over the years, some societies did just that.

In the meantime, landlords were facing an oversupply of real estate and a shortage of potential tenants. Prices were lowered, and the lucky elites managed to survive on their wealth rather than relying on their income. It is debated, bot possible, that these events created the middle class.

We can only wait to see if the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic has such an effect. I suspect that will be a while, since the unvaccinated provide a breeding ground for the virus to mutate. When this occurs, the original and the weaker variants are stopped while the stronger survive and will likely be harder to combat.

Many of the ideas and the quotes in this blog are based upon the writings of Walter Scheidel, Professor of Classics and History at Stanford University, and the author of The Great Leveler: Violence And The History Of Inequality From The Stone Age To The Twenty-First Century.

Don’t Worry

Don’t worry, those trillions of cicadas are going to pop out of the ground and make a thunderous nose any second now.

Will (Covid) Wonder (Cure)s Never Cease?

Just when you thought it was almost safe to return to normal. Many people, or at least those that don’t believe that the vaccines are poisonous or contain microchips, have been vaccinated. More people vaccinated means we’re closer to herd immunity. (Have you heard about immunity? No I mean herd immunity. Etc.)

Many times I’ve thought of devious ways to get rich, but usually as the plot for a story. Other people are more direct and actually reap the benefits (if they can be called that). Recently, a Florida family was busted for–ready for this–selling 28,000 bottles of “Miracle Mineral Solution” to treat virtually every known disease, which was actually bleach. [Link]

Okay, fair is fair, it wasn’t the off-the-shelf bleach we use in the laundry. I was closer to the type of bleach they use for industrial water treatment. But, hey, it was handmade in their very own backyard shed. I assume the chlorine dioxide solution, was manufactured under strict quality control and sterile conditions. My hat’s off to them–it’s hard to maintain such high standards in a backyard shed.

They marketed their miracle solution through a non-religious church. I’m still trying to figure that part out. In any case, they took in more than $1 million from sales of the stuff.

Drinking bleach to cure COVID and other diseases. You have to wonder where they got that idea.

120 – 140 – 150 – 200 – Bye

I’ve honestly been trying to write, but there’s so much going on that just drives me crazy and physically affects me, that I haven’t completed a blog in a while. Sorry. The spirit is willing, but my flesh is 70 years old.

I purchased one of those wrist blood pressure cuffs and wear it while I write. It’s distracting and awkward, but nevertheless helpful. As Bettlegeuse says, “Besides, this whole dead thing-it’s creepy!”

While I’m writing, I keep one eye on the meter, but since it’s on the inside of my wrist, I have to stop typing and roll my arm, to see it. Then it deflates. For the next reading, it has to reinflate and we go through the whole cycle again. To top it off, it never gives me a reading exactly when I want one.

So I do the best I can do. So here goes!

I’ve been watching the news about the Chauvin trial, Representative Gaetz, and the Trump Organization . . . .


Bluestone Automatic Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor ...

Oops. I gotta quit. Sorry.