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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Annual autumn "rant"


     Fall traditions used to be a time of colorful leaves, apple cider, and cool mornings.  For the past 10-15 years the season has also meant the return of the noise of leaf blowers.  Has there ever been an invention that was more annoying?  Right now I am listening to a leaf blower in the open space behind my house that has been working for the past 45 minutes.  This is something that happens on a regular basis every few days.  Recently there was a good article in the New York Times on this annoyance.


Monday, October 25, 2021

Conservatives shell game

     While multimillionaire Joe Manchin says he is opposed to "government giveaways" his constituents are from the poorest state in the United States.   His financial ties to the coal industry are trumping our Country's climate change needs.  Conservative politicians have played the political game of winning votes from poor people by their support of conservative social causes while supporting conservative economic policies that hurt their poor constituents.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Divided we fall


      The COVID-19 pandemic has only heightened the cultural and political divide that we see in the United States that has been building for the past 50 or 60 years.  Fifty years ago there were states that could swing from one political party to another from one election to another.  Remember when California was a Republican state and the South was solidly Democrat.  The civil rights legislation of the mid-1960's reoriented our political map where conservatives became scarce in the Democrat Party and liberal Republicans became non-existent.  We saw this switch of political parties locally when conservative Democrat County Executive Hugh Nichols switched to the Republican Party in the 1980s.

     If you watch Fox News and then turn to MSNBC we see news presented with a political and cultural slant.  Each channel only presents news that has a negative slant of whom they oppose.  Positive news doesn't get presented unless it reinforces your political or cultural beliefs.  Looking at the best-selling nonfiction books you can see this divide with a mixture of books written for both conservatives and liberals.  Most of us only expose ourselves to information that conforms to our view of political reality.

    Nowhere is this political and cultural divide headed for a collision than the issue of abortion.  With the Supreme Court having a solid conservative majority the right to life advocates now see the opportunity to finally overturn the Roe vs. Wade decision providing a right to abortion.  This issue may not have exactly the same impact as the slavery issue had in the 1860s that caused the Civil War but I do think that a decision by the Court that takes away the right to abortion will fracture the Country in ways we haven't seen since the Civil War.

     One factor that is different from the time of the Civil War is that the states that are liberal and those that are conservative are not geographically contiguous.  Liberal states are located on the West Coast and the Northeast with a couple of Midwestern states. The conservative part of the country is the South and rural parts of the middle of the country.  Our divisions don't neatly fit in the same north/south geography as happened with the slavery issue in Civil War times.

     So how will our present divisions play out in the future?  I would assume that we will see more state coalitions formed on different political issues.  Liberals and conservative states will look to interstate compacts that will weaken the federal government being the arbiter of a national policy.  States' rights will be used for both liberals and conservatives.  We have already seen this with Northeastern states coordinating their response to CovidWest Coast states did the same thing.  During the Trump Administration states banned together to address climate change.  The only question is when the interstate compacts become so common that the national ties among states become so weak that a national government division becomes a reality.  The only question will be if this process happens peacefully or more violently.  Maybe the January 6th attack on the Capitol is the first shot in this violent battle as the firing on Ft. Sumter was for the Civil War.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Privileged lives

The population of Earth is around 7.8 Billion.  
For most people, it is a large figure  
However, if you condensed  7.8 billion into 100 persons, and then into various percentage statistics the resulting analysis is relatively much easier to comprehend.        
Out of 100  :  
11 are in Europe  
5 are in North America          
9 are in South America  
15 are in Africa  
60 are in Asia  
49 live in the countryside  
51 live in cities  
12 speak Chinese  
  5 speak Spanish  
  5 speak English  
  3 speak Arabic  
  3 speak Hindi  
  3 speak Bengali  
  3 speak Portuguese  
  2 speak Russian  
  2 speak Japanese  
62 speak their own language.  
77 have their own dwellings.  
23 have no place to live.  
21 are over-nourished.  
63 can eat full.  
15 are under-nourished  
  1 ate the last meal, but did not make it to the next meal.  
The daily cost of living for 48 is less than 2 USD (US Dollars).  
87 have clean drinking water  
13 either lack clean drinking water or have a water source that is polluted.  
75 have mobile phones  
25 do not.  
30 have internet access  
70 do not have the availability to go online  
  7 received university education  
93 did not attend college.  
83 can read  
17 are illiterate.  
33 are Christians  
22 are Muslims  
14 are Hindus  
  7 are Buddhists  
12 are other religions  
12 have no religious beliefs.  
26 live less than 14 years  
66 died between 15 - 64 years of age  
8 are over 65 years old.  
If you have your own home,  
Eat full meals & drink clean water,  
Have a mobile phone,  
Can surf the internet, and  
have gone to college,  
You are in the miniscule privileged lot.  
(in the less than 7% category)  
Amongst 100 persons in the world, only 8 live or exceed the age of 65.  
If you are over 65 years old,  
be content & grateful.  Cherish life, grasp the moment.  
If you did not leave this world before the age of 64 like the 92 persons who have gone before you, you are already the blessed amongst mankind.  

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Friday, October 15, 2021

Latest COVID data for Howard County

     Howard County continues to lead Maryland in having the lowest positivity rate and the highest percentage of its population vaccinated against COVID.  Living in a highly educated, high-income Democrat county has its benefits.  Having recently traveled to states with different demographic and political orientations and seeing how infrequently people there took the virus seriously it is comforting to be back in Howard County.


Thursday, October 14, 2021

What truly makes Columbia special


      Every Fall we are treated to one of the best aspects of living in Columbia--over 90 miles of wooded trails.  It is hard to believe that we live in a city of over 100,000 people and yet within a few yards of our homes we can retreat to woods and lakes that are equal to many of the resort areas that we have to travel many miles to visit. Here are a few more pictures I have taken over the years.