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Thursday, April 28, 2022

The new form of World War in a nuclear age


      During the Cold War, we thought the next world war would have a nuclear exchange that had the potential to end all life on Earth.  We now see that having nuclear weapons does prevent two nuclear powers from fighting a war directly with their nuclear weapons but it is fought through a 3rd country like Ukraine.  We have seen this less clearly with Vietnam and Syria where the United States and Russia (or the old Soviet Union) weaponized each side.  The situation is far different this time when it involves a European country.  It is also different from the breakup of the Soviet Union.  The United States and NATO didn't become engaged in this way when the Soviet Union invaded Hungry in 1956 or Czechoslovakia in 1968 because they were then fellow members of the old Warsaw Pact countries.  We didn't oppose members of the Warsaw Pact invading each other.  It is now different when many of those Pact members are now part of NATO.  It is clear that Putin sees this process of those countries now aligning against Russian as a true "Domino Theory" similar to what we thought when we invaded Vietnam.   The "Theory" is probably more real when the dominos are next door to your country than halfway around the world.


      Even when you spend billions in aid to Ukraine is it a cheap way to wage a war with Russia and have the deaths only with Ukrainians and not American soldiers. 

P.S. 1

Can we imagine how different World War II would have been fought or turned out if Hitler had nuclear weapons?

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Confused on getting a 4th COVID shot?


      If you are confused about getting the 4th shot here is some information to consider.  The Omicron variant is different than the earlier forms of the virus.  In one way this difference is good in that Omicron and its variants tend to lodge in the upper respiratory tract of the nose and bronchial tube.  If you get sick like bronchitis which is far less deadly than pneumonia which involves infection in the lungs that can lead to serious illness and death.  The earlier forms of the virus caused more lung infections and complications that caused the surge in hospitalizations and deaths.  Right now we don't see that surge with the later variants. Our present vaccines don't seem to protect us from Omicron infections of the upper respiratory tract but still protect against lung infections.  Getting additional shots to protect against the current virus seems to have a very short-term benefit if any at all.

      As long as the new variants remain upper respiratory illnesses it is reasonable to wait till there are nasal spray vaccines that are designed for the new variants.  Those vaccines are now being developed and maybe the form that will be used in the future to fight viruses rather than shots.  Stopping a virus in the nose is better than fighting it in the blood.  

Sunday, April 24, 2022

To mask or not to mask

   I still carry a mask in my car and in my pocket but now I find myself evaluating if I want to wear the mask when I go into a store.  If it is a crowded Saturday I might put on a mask.  If it is a late evening when the store won't be crowded and I am only picking up a few things I might go maskless.  More and more I see less mask-wearing even in Columbia where we have been better at wearing a mask.

   As we learn more about COVID we have to factor in information that constantly has to be adjusted.  Did the lockdowns only prolong the pandemic as it attempted to protect vulnerable people?  The natural immunity developed by unvaccinated people may be the reason that the new variants seem to be less dangerous.  The unvaccinated vulnerable people may have paid a heavy cost but they may have paved a way for this virus to move to a milder form and moved us past needed to do another lockdown.

    I have to say that I no longer have much concern about COVID.  I am comfortable traveling and eating in a restaurant.  I am thankful that the vaccines and post-vaccine exposures have protected me from a serious illness.  I now feel that riding in a car is now a more dangerous situation than exposure to COVID.  That has always probably been the case but now I feel it more.

    One lesson that I have learned from experiencing a pandemic is that our Country has such an anti-government segment that nothing short of another country attacking us will ever unite us.  We can thank Ronald Reagan and his Republican followers for forty years of attacks on anything the government tries to do.  When protecting the health of our population becomes controversial we are all on our own.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Weekend funnies returns


Probably a Dad

A little musical humor for Baby Boomers

Sing the lyrics!

Monday, April 11, 2022

Raise the gas tax?

   It used to be that our gas spikes were caused by Middle Eastern countries cutting back on production.  Our present price spike however is caused by the lessening of the pandemic with life getting back to normal and the Russians invading Ukraine.  This week as I was filling up (the first time in 2 weeks) it was nice to see some of the price rise had dropped.  Next to me was a person filling up a very large truck ( not the one pictured but about that size).    He had been filling up a few minutes before me and he still wasn't full before I was done.  I can only guess how large his gas tank was but I am sure it was largely because his miles per gallon was so low.  The average vehicle driven today is more likely to be a truck than a car unlike 30 or 40 years ago.  Because of that increased size, the cost of a new vehicle is now $45,000.  Our relatively cheap gas has only encouraged Americans to drive cars much bigger than in Europe where the price of gas can be double what we pay.  Maybe now is the time to raise the gas tax to encourage people to buy more efficient vehicles rather than stop the gas tax.  Better yet maybe a tax on fuel-inefficient vehicles could be distributed as a rebate to persons buying fuel-efficient vehicles.  It would be like a carbon tax. All-electric cars would get the highest rebate.  Maybe I could then afford a Tesla!

     This answer to the recent price increase has been viewed very differently by conservatives and liberals.  Conservatives mainly want to increase drilling for oil and liberals want to move away from fossil fuels to renewable forms of energy.  The conservative response is only a short-term answer that ignores the climate crisis.  Conservatives are good at looking long-range at our debt problem but have a problem looking beyond today's gas price when it comes to the climate change problem.

Friday, April 8, 2022

Greenfest at Howard Community College on Saturday

Thursday, April 7, 2022

First cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye

     Looking at the pictures from Ukraine the past few days you wonder how anyone, even the Russian population, could be in support of an invasion that has mass murder of civilians as a war tactic.  We know that much of the Russian population is not seeing what we are seeing and the state propaganda is giving them a distorted picture of what is happening.  I used the quote from the Bible as the title of this post to remind us that our Country has fallen into similar distorted views of conflict that had similar mass atrocities.  While our Country may try in some ways to limit civilian deaths in the conflicts we wage we shouldn't overlook our own Country's actions that had similar results.

   The first example of this of course is the genocide of the Native Americans when they got in the way of our western expansion.  While it is hard to get a firm estimate of the number of Native Americans that died as a result of the expansion it is certainly in the millionsPresident Andrew Jackson signed the "Indian Removal Act" which led to the "trail of tears" which resulted in the removal and deaths of thousands of Native Americans. 

    The second example is Vietnam.  Americans were told that our existence as a country was threatened by what was happening halfway around the World in Vietnam.  The "Domino Theory" was created to justify our actions.  The theory was used to show how something similar was happening to the Nazis' taking over of Europe only in Asia this time and it must be stopped to prevent World War III.  Just as we have Putin not being able to accept defeat, we had President Johnson being unwilling to be the first president to preside over an American military defeat.   He was willing to have thousands of American soldiers and millions of Vietnamese die so that he did not have history record him in this way.  An estimates 2 million Vietnamese were killed in that war that our Country waged. As we see the destruction of the Russian bombs in Ukraine we should not forget what the bombing in Vietnam did to that country.  We dropped more tonnage of bombs on Vietnam than was dropped in all of Europe in World War II

     The final example is the misinformation that was used to justify the invasion of Iraq.   The desire of some in the Bush administration to "finish" what the first Bush president didn't do led to the justification of supposed "weapons of mass destruction" being created by Saddam Hussein. 

 As a result, the American public and most of Congress were willing to go ahead with the invasion of Iraq which led to the deaths of an estimated 461,000 Iraqis.  Those deaths are on our Country's conscience.  The deaths of those people are as horrible as the deaths of Ukrainians that we are seeing today.  While Putin is certainly a war criminal by his actions a similar case could be made for some  American leaders.  If Putin is a war criminal where does that leave Andrew Jackson and Lyndon Johnson and George W. Bush?


     There is an inside joke among the personnel of our State Department that goes like this.  "Why will there never be a coup in the United States?  Because there is no United States Embassy in the US."  The meaning of this joke is that US Embassies are the places where many coups around the world are planned.

P.S. 1

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

President Zelenskyy Comedy on Netflix


       The best example of life imitating art has been the case the past week as I have started to watch the Ukrainian comedy that starred President Zelenskyy called "Servant of the People."  This comedy series ran starting in 2015 in Ukraine.  In the show, Zelenskyy is a high school history teacher who has a rant against government corruption in Ukraine.  Unbeknownst to him one of his students is videoing his rant and uploading it to YouTube.  The video goes viral and the student enters Zelenskyy into the Presidential race again without his knowledge.  Because of the viral video, he is elected. Here is where life imitates the show.  The comedy show becomes so popular in Ukraine that a political movement is really created against Ukrainian corruption and Zelenskyy is chosen to head the movement that gets him really elected president.  I guess you could say only in Ukraine!  But then I remember we elected an actor as president too. One episode has actors as Lincoln, Obama, and Putin.  The show is hilarious.  I can't help but be amazed at seeing Zelenskyy as a comedian 7 years ago and the courageous wartime leader today.  Life really imitates art.  


      Maybe we can "pull a Ukraine" and elect Martin Sheen in real life after his appearance in the West Wing.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Wes Moore opens his campaign for Maryland Governor in Howard County


 I have posted one blog on Wes Moore but I was able to go to his kick-off campaign for Howard County on Sunday.  Having met Wes a number of years ago when I was doing some work in Baltimore I knew that someday I would get to vote for him one day and that day has arrived.  To learn more about this amazing candidate click here for some info.   Attached are 2 files with more information on his campaign.


Saturday, April 2, 2022

Grandkids are fun to have around


 My young grandson called the other day to wish me a Happy Birthday. He asked me how old I was, and I told him, 72. My grandson was quiet for a moment, and then he asked, "Did you start at 1?"

 After putting her grandchildren to bed, a grandmother changed into old slacks and a droopy blouse and proceeded to wash her hair. As she heard the children getting more and more rambunctious, her patience grew thin. Finally, she threw a towel around her head and stormed into their room, putting them back to bed with stern warnings. As she left the room, she heard the three-year-old say with a trembling voice, "Who was THAT?"

My grandson was visiting one day when he asked, "Grandma, do you know how you and God are alike?" I mentally polished my halo and I said, "No, how are we alike?'' "You're both old," he replied.

 A little girl was diligently pounding away on her grandfather's word processor. She told him she was writing a story. What's it about?" he asked. "I don't know," she replied. "I can't read.

When my grandson asked me how old I was, I teasingly replied, "I'm not sure." "Look in your underwear, Grandpa," he advised "Mine says I'm 4 to 6." (WOW! I really like this one -- it says I'm only '38'!)

 A grandfather was delivering his grandchildren to their home one day when a fire truck zoomed past. Sitting in the front seat of the fire truck was a Dalmatian dog. The children started discussing the dog's duties.  "They use him to keep crowds back," said one child.  "No," said another. "He's just for good luck." A third child brought the argument to a close. “They use the dogs," she said firmly, "to find the fire hydrants."

A 6-year-old was asked where his grandma lived. "Oh," he said, "she lives at the airport, and whenever we want her, we just go get her. Then, when we're done having her visit, we take her back to the airport."

Friday, April 1, 2022

NSA starting to test bird drones over our area soon

     According to some papers that have been publically released from the boxes that Donald Trump took to Mar-a-Lago, the National Security Agency has been working with the CIA on developing these "bird-like" drones that will be unnoticed in urban areas with large bird populations.  The report stated that the only problem with these drones was their limited range of 10 miles.  Columbia was identified as the most urban area that could be reached from the NSA headquarter.  An NSA spokesman wanted to reassure local residents that these drones were too light to carry any armaments and would only be used for surveillance. Residences are asked to notify NSA if any of these drones accidentally crash in your yard.  There is a phone number to call on each drone.  No reward was mentioned.  Now you have something to look skyward on in our area.