Saturday, December 22, 2012


Infant mortality has reduced significantly over time. This article quotes: "The decline in infant mortality is unparalleled by other mortality reduction this century. ".

Apparently, in the U.S. at any rate, we're waiting till the children are a bit older....

Monday, December 17, 2012

SANDY HOOK SHOOTING - Where from here?

There is so much posturing going on in the media over a span of issues from the events of December 14, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Posturing helps the helpless feel as if they are helping, I would guess.

Some feel the need to be angry, and upon finding a target for that anger, aim everything they have at it. I feel that anger is like a different kind of gun. "I will kill you with bullets of hate!!!!" or disapproval, or judgment, or condemnation! "I will shoot you with my righteous stares and words!"

The news is full of this. Crying for GUN LAWS!! Which we actually have. Just not enforced.

 I find in these current shooting situations that there is an aversion to focusing our shock and sadness at the shooter and what caused someone, who apparently moved through society as a so-called normal person, to pick up weapons and kill children and their teachers and protectors. And in this case, apparently, to shoot the children more than once. It was a child who killed children in this case. Twenty-years-old is still a child in terms of neural growth.

 There's sympathy for the victims and survivors and the family of the shooter. And the anger. The outrage. Lots of this. Just take a breath. Step back. This is the most horrific event. A twenty-year-old child picked up a number of powerful weapons and used them on his own mother and then on innocent children and adults in a setting that should be considered sacred and safe for our youngsters.

 Our society's version of compassion is to yell angrily. When bankers rob people of their savings and homes, we cry foul! Though none of them were punished or went to jail, though lots of folks yelled that they should!!! And the banking regulations were not overhauled enough to restore those people to their full and upright position. As those in power know will happen, time passes and we forget and go back to our handheld electronic devices for commentary and entertainment. And we just don't speak of it much any more in any place that might effect a profound change.

 When a tsunami hits, we don't yell at the ocean and spout ideas for how to punish it. When hurricanes or tornadoes kill and destroy property we don't blame the weather reporters or meteorologists as being the cause. It's easy for us, in these circumstances, to understand the why of these events. The best we can do in these situations is to find better ways to predict and prepare, in order to keep safe.

 In the case of these shootings, we have a better opportunity to prevent. But we are going to have to start looking at the true causes in a way that heals and not harms. We don't need the Salem witch hunts again. We don't need asylums that offer ice baths, lobotomies or being locked up in a small room. We need to work with our neuroscientists for understanding the true why and to develop strategies for preventing these events in the future.

 Innocent children and adults are being gunned down in cold blood at political gatherings, movie theaters and schools, and the angry yelling is at the cold metal objects that did the deeds. And I suspect this will also die down and nothing lasting will be done to look at the synaptic processes in the heads of the shooters that created the impetus for these incidents. We really do have very short attention spans.

 Compassion. It's not just sitting in an easy chair feeling bad for those who have suffered such things. It's not going on in anger over the occurrence of such things. It's not tweeting and retweeting to the world in all caps how this must STOP!!

 Compassion. It is a feeling of wanting to help. And it's that feeling that moves us in the right direction. To really help. Not to punish or cause more harm. To help. To take a big breath, relax and look at what the real issues are here. Because there are real issues. They are very big. And we need to be very careful how we proceed here.

 What happens in these shooters brains? How did they get to this place where they acted out so horribly? That's the first order of business. Let's start.  And then let's toss out the assault weapons. We don't need them. You don't need them to hunt deer. All you need for that, really, is a bow and arrow and some skill and practice. Though skill and practice seem to have died in our society along with true compassion and common sense.

 Just imagine if we worked on these issues globally.

 If we don't do something wise then we are indeed headed for a bigger world of hurt.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


When a neutron bullet hits an atom it begins the process of fission, or splitting the atom. When this happens to a uranium atom, we get a nuclear explosion used in certain types of atomic bombs and nuclear reactors. When the atom splits, additional neutrons are released, splitting more atoms. This continues until all the fuel is exhausted.

 The split parts of the atom move away from each other, until all the fuel is exhausted.

  Visit the Hubble site. There are wonderful advances in space photography. The galaxies and nebulae are beautiful. To me, they strike similarities with the ideas of particles as presented by quantum physicists. The structures of neutrons, photons, electrons, bosons, all the forces could be illustrated in the photographs of other solar systems. The search for the Higgs Boson, aka "The God Particle", is as impassioned as the search for intelligent life on other planets.

 As if what's true above is true below.

 It seems that the more that is learned about science, the greater the divide grows between the scientific community and the religious community. Granted, I have to say by my own observations, that the scientific community has been putting far more dedicated study and objective work into discovery than the modern day church of the last two or three decades. The modern day church's various denominations and sects seem to be bent on sticking their heads in the sand insisting that their particular narrow interpretation of a group of questionably translated books is the way everyone must live. Then when they finally do lift their heads out of the sand, very few people are there.

 The societies of our world in the last decade are experiencing accelerating changes. Much of this change I attribute to the advances in technology. Political leaders and rulers have a harder time controlling their populace with spun facts and outright lies. The truth comes, usually from an anonymous insider, tweeted or facebooked or instagramed out to the world. And while pictures can and do lie via Photoshop, the evidence of tampering seems to come out as instantly as the next set of photos. Plus the live streaming of events supports all the other information that floods our devices. If you give it some effort, you can suss out what's really going on. But you certainly can not rely on television talking heads any more. Except maybe for Jon Stewart.

 Could it be that the technology is the "neutron bullet" that has set the splitting of our societal atomic structures in motion?

 Most of the world's citizens in so-called civilized societies have worked together, for the most part, to maintain the society's civility. World Wars I and II are big examples of this. But since the '60's I believe, this acceleration to split apart has been gathering momentum every year.

 In the U.S., after a presidential election, the party that lost the White House would shake hands and then go back to work addressing the best interests of the people. This didn't happen this year. The leadership in the Republican party was shocked with the result of the election and instead of going back to the people's work, have been running around in a state of panic much like Chicken Little's frenetic claim of the sky falling. Because they did not "win."

 I believe that the country in general has underestimated the depth of anger and feeling of betrayal of those upset Republicans. And this is not going to improve any time soon. Enough numbers of people unhappy with the results are now petitioning for secession.

 The split parts of the atom move away from each other, until all the fuel is exhausted.

 The banking and finance industries no longer serve the financial needs of the general populace. Their focus is only on their own bottom lines and pocketbooks. The aftermath of the government bailouts has not resulted in any substantial benefit to the large numbers of people who lost their homes and savings. Government officials continue to skew the math on unemployment and foreclosure figures.

 The split parts of the atom move away from each other, until all the fuel is exhausted.

  The New York Times says that 50.7 million people in the U.S. are uninsured. This doesn't count the number of people underinsured. Obama care will now go into effect. I have a friend who moved here from England many years ago because England did the same thing to health care that we have just done. In England, according to my friend, when you get seriously ill you are put on a waiting list for treatment. When you finally get to treatment, you are put through a predetermined course that may or may not have anything to do with what ails you. The result is that more people with serious illness are going to die waiting, or running through the predetermined numbers of treatments until the one they really needed is now too late to help. Because health care is no longer run by healers. It is run by financial interests.

 I believe this brings us to the big bullet. This particular issue addresses the fallout of an unspoken neutron bullet that has hit a troubling atom affecting our entire world. It's the elephant in the living room. And I believe it is a bigger neutron bullet than technology.

  Overpopulation. There are too many of us alive today for the earth's resources to support in a viable way. We are putting too much carbon dioxide and other gases into the atmosphere that will not dissipate before becoming toxic to our species and all the animal species on earth.

 Our natural resources will begin to seriously deplete in the next five years. This will impact our economies as well. The only way our planet can sustain any kind of human population is by globalizing our resources. This is what "the powers that be" have been moving toward for a very long time. But in the process, our societies are splitting apart.

 The split parts of the atom move away from each other, until all the fuel is exhausted.

 I believe that it's not just a fiscal cliff we in the U.S. are facing. I believe that our entire way of life is on the precipice of radical change. What we believe, how we interact, our moral compass - it's all going to be different. And I believe this will happen as if overnight. Very soon. If you look at things that are now in your own life, that used to be so very different, you'll get a sense of this.

 In the film "Cloud Atlas" the various societies moved to depletion as we are doing. Yet there was a concerted, expensive and valiant attempt for one visionary to deliver a message of hope and healing - to just one influential person. Just one. Today, my son and I saw "Rise of the Guardians" that carried the same message. Just one believer saved the day. Yet enormous cooperation of joint effort was required to ignite the spark of that one person. In both stories. And maybe this will be our story as well. The stories are important. We best not lose them.

 We might be doomed. We might not. The church is not going to help us. This is clear to me. Science will give us tools, but it will depend on the heart and focus of the use of those tools that will decide whether we're done here or not.

 A bubble is the most beautiful right before it pops. We're close to this.

 The split parts of the atom move away from each other, until all the fuel is exhausted.

 In fusion, as opposed to fission, two or more atomic nuclei form a single heavier nucleus. Heavier elements tend to fuse more easily than lighter ones. Fusion powers the sun and stars. If scientists can figure out how to harness fusion, we'll have an inexhaustible energy source that is environmentally friendly and that produces no greenhouse gases. That'd be great.

 In the meantime though, I still drive my gas powered car and burn my electric lights at night and sit here typing on my electric powered computer, while I consume products created in factories that spew enormous amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

 I am therefore part of the split atom. Exhausting the fuel. As are you. As are most of us.

 Until the fuel is exhausted. Which is very very close.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012


The schools in my state are in decline. That this is so is not argued by anyone. But it's a curious thing when you google the subject and read the articles, the focus of energy on this subject is a rigorous exercise in finger pointing. The teachers point blame at the parents, the parents point blame at the administrators, Mitt Romney blames the unions.

This is such a long-standing and heated exercise that has been going on year in and year out, all the while the schools are turning out graduates or drop outs who will be completely unable to compete in a world economy, or interact with each other in any kind of functioning society.

There are misguided "enlightened" educators in private schools who either lather on piles of punishing homework to accomplish two things - pleasing parents thus keeping their tuition dollars and implementing a lazy and easy solution to the accusation that the dismal results aren't being addressed. Did you know that private schools call children "product?" They do. That's what your kids are. A commodity, a widget, a manufactured object for sale. We are a consumer society after all, so why not, eh? Just let that sit with you for awhile.

California is in bad shape educationally. I don't have all day to look up links for you. I'll try later. Just to say for now - that the collection of taxes for schools and the apportionment of taxes for schools is likely mutually exclusive. And a good chunk of the school taxes, I believe, go to a nifty budgetary item called "redevelopment," which has nothing to do with schools. But as this is not my main point today, I have to table looking this up for now. I did it before, but didn't save the bookmarks. Sorry.

The private school sector in my area is also taking it in the shorts because of the economy. The competition for "product" is intense. Better off schools are giving financial aid away like political campaign door hangers. Schools lucky enough to have endowments will weather the storm.

My son's school is not so lucky. He'll be fine as he graduates to high school next year, but he faces a year of surgically amputated services and questionable staff retentions. There are a couple really good teachers left for him and he is hard working and very bright. Sadly, this once sweet school has resorted to holding the parents in such contempt that we are fed half truths and outright misrepresentations too late in the day to make any kind of new arrangement for our children's product's education. And this is not my point either.

In listening to other parents speak around the parking lot, in our personal circumstance, the prevailing comments are "Parents aren't going to do anything. They'll whine and complain, but they won't do anything;" "Well, what can we do? There's nothing we can do;" and the worst one of all "I always wait for someone else to do something."

Wait for someone else to do something. This is exactly the prevailing attitude of the majority of parents in my school. I believe that this is the prevailing attitude of the majority of citizens in my community. I believe that this is the prevailing attitude across states and the country in general. And I believe that this has been the prevailing attitude for many years now, judging by the condition of our various state and federal governments.

"It's too big for me to fix" "I didn't break it, why should I have to fix it" "It's not my problem" And every year a little bit more is sliced off of our American body. Snip snip here, snip snip there. A little liberty off the sides and just a touch of prosperity there. It's happened so gradually and we've been rendered so compliant and complacent that the corporate we of citizenry have been managed into a feudal corner of impending serfdom.

But those few left running things have nothing to fear, because we all believe in our own incompetent impotence. To the point that any kind of organized protest is swiftly managed and turned into anger against each other (I refer to the Occupy Wall Street protests in particular). The days of this actually making any kind of meaningful improvement for society in general are currently dead -

When I heard that "I always wait for someone else to do something" yesterday, my response was "There is no 'someone else'. YOU are someone else, I am someone else (I pointed to other parents) he is someone else, she is someone else. And none of us are going to do a thing, because we are all pansies." I wanted to say "pussies", but it was school and kids were about to come out. And I'm a pansy too. I did speak up once. And because no one else has joined me - well maybe one other - I have to put the Kraken back into the cage and look after my boy. Because they will hurt him if I don't. They'll rationalize it and call it other things, but they'll hurt him and get away with it. They are doing it to other kids all the time. It's not big egregious hurts like physical molestation or anything like that. It's hurts like - sabotaging his high school entrance, skewing his grade average to a lower one, singling him out as "difficult" or "troublesome" when he's not at all. Telling him "your mother doesn't love you" (last year). Stuff like that. This happens in all the private schools from what I hear from teachers. And the public schools are worse.

 I believe it's just a mirror of our society as a whole. Therefore, my friends, when we are all grouped together in our feudal fiefdoms, cast into our roles of well supervised servitude, we have no leg to stand on to complain. We are not protesting now. We are not organizing now. We are not making any kind of viable changes now. Why? Because surely someone else will do it.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Now I've gone and done it! Remember a few years back, all those stories I wrote? Well I've gone and published them on Amazon e-books. Yes, that's right, for a mere $2.99 you can own an electronic collection of these stories.

Buy it here

Happy Reading, if you get it!!

Sunday, April 01, 2012


I really had this dream this morning. I did not eat before bed time. I had no wine yesterday. This was after almost eight hours of sleep. There is no explanation for where this dream has come from. 

It plays like a movie - the first clip I'm on a lovely vacation in Florida. I am persuaded to buy a crocodile because there are too many of them in this area and they are suffering so. Against my better judgment I bought one and was told it would be shipped out to me. 

Cut to the next clip. I am living in my childhood home, fixing a little chicken for my dinner. The doorbell rings. Diumping, a woman who is the mom of one of my son's schoolmates stands there expectantly so I ask her to stay for dinner. She sits down and I realize I have nothing prepared, so I go to the fridge in panic and don't see much. 

The doorbell rings again. Another friend and her husband, Catalina and Augustine, show up and I invite them as well. But I have nothing prepared, so I go back to the refrigerator. Upon opening the freezer I find a package of peas and I think "Perfect!" Then I check the expiration date on the package and it's September 25, 2005. I seriously consider heating and serving them anyway, but just for a wicked second and then toss them out. I find some packaged apples and some broccoli but then I hear the doorbell ring again. I pray it's not someone else for this dinner party I have obviously forgotten.

A smiling woman stands at the door. She is dressed rather like Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous, wearing a stylish coat over her dress. Behind her is  a giant delivery truck. "Here's your crocodile" she says happily and I almost expect her to pull out a microphone to interview me for the 6 o'clock news.  Then panic sets in because I have no place to put it and I've left my dinner guests without their apples and broccoli! I excuse myself from the woman to attend to this at once. I tell the woman that I have dinner guests who must be served and I turn and rush back in as her hand comes up with tastefully manicured forefinger pointed to the sky, eyebrows raised and a "...but.." escaping her lips.

When I return to the dinner table with the apples and broccoli I can see Augustine is really hungry, so I give him my share of everything. This makes him very happy. Good! One person happy! They ask who is at the door and I say "I bought a crocodile and apparently it's being delivered." They all look at me as if I am out of my mind and I tend to agree with them. I realize that when I bought the crocodile I did not actually believe it would be delivered. To my home. Yikes. 

I rush back to the front driveway where I see the box with the crocodile has been unloaded. A strapping, shirtless fellow is standing on top of it and I can see that it has been broken in strategically escape hatch positions. I wish mightily that I had a raw chicken or two to feed the creature. There is also a fantastical creature from another world there, laying on its side,  and a saddled horse being prepared for delivery elsewhere to other peoples dreams. And there, in a broken box lies my hapless crocodile. 

I look to the woman, helpless, and in a terrible panic. This has obviously happened to her before, her sigh tells me. 

I tell her that the only place I can put the creature is in my back yard and now it is her turn to panic. She waves desperate jazz hands at me and says "NO NO NO!!! Because a little baby will think it is a toy and crawl right up to it and say "Hi" and the crocodile will kill her with a swipe of his tail!!!!" And as she is saying this, the vision of this happening unfolds in my mind's eye. The adorable little baby, wearing a darling white lace dress and those sweet diaper covers with rows of lace across the bottom and a precious pink hair bow holding her only lock of hair, crawling up to the giant beast. She places her trusting hands on his reptilian head and looks straight in his eye as she says, in the most endearing baby voice ever, "Hi" and then.....WHOOOSH!!! The tail!!! Oh the tail.....just as the woman has said!!! 

Well I can't keep the damned baby-killing thing now. 

I turn to the woman, my resolve firm, and she begins to hem and haw about her place in Fontana. And I know I will talk her into taking the crocodile there until I can find a suitable crocodile home. But all the while I wonder how the hell much all THIS is going to cost me.

Well, my dears, I was never so happy to wake up after this,  lying comfortably on my office cot, ready for some coffee. 

I swear, as God is my witness, I will NEVER buy a crocodile. NEVER. Not even shoes and a purse.