Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Charlie +++

America’s newest cottage industry is outing men who are guilty of inappropriate, sometimes criminal, sexual behavior.  Some, like Weinstein, Moore and Trump, deny the allegations.  Others, like Spacey, Franken, Louis CK and now Charlie Rose, acknowledge behaving badly.

My thoughts have been both clear and confused.  Clear in that I believe the women, empathize with them, and know that they are the tiny tip of a societal iceberg that includes millions of women (and some men) who have been victimized in the same way and will never be heard.

Confused in that while I condemn what they have done, in some cases I admire aspects of their lives – their talent, their intelligence, their commitment to causes that matter.  This is particularly true of Charlie Rose.  He has been a daily part of my life for something like twenty years.

His nightly program has been an oasis of sanity in a world gone nuts with 24/7 breaking news, screaming pundits arguing their points of view, and headline depth analysis of complicated issues.  Listening to him and his guests has been on ongoing seminar in the fullness of life.  From science to philosophy to the arts to politics to global leaders, and more, the Charlie Rose Show has taught me, caused me to think new thoughts and entertained me.

For now, at least, it is gone.  With or without Charlie I hope Bloomberg and PBS fill the vacuum and create a new oasis of sanity – which we desperately need.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

In Case You Missed It!

The curator of flies at the Museum of Natural History in London says that tor each person on earth, there are an estimated 17 million flies.  Sounds a little high to me.

Another subject: I hear that quantum computers will transform the world.  OK, good, so what is a quantum computer?  A simple explanation: Today’s computers store information as ‘bits,’ with each transistor holding either a 1 or a 0.  A quantum computer uses a ‘qubit’ which can store a 1 and a 0 at the same time. 

This means two qubits can hold four values at once.  So as you expand the number of qubits, the machine becomes exponentially more powerful.  I think I get it, but an example would help.  Say a computer wants to find its way through a maze.  It will try one path and get blocked and then try another and another and another.  A quantum computer will try all paths at the same time.

Moving on to some medical stuff:

The heavier you are, the more likely you will be to develop an often fatal cancer.  I see, obesity isn’t healthy.  Why am I not surprised?

A new shingles vaccine is said to be an improvement.  Smells like someone is going to make a lot of money.

There’s a new recommendation for what is an acceptable blood pressure – lower than before.  Smells like someone is going to make a lot of money.

In Africa, ultrasounds are being used to entice women who are only a few months pregnant to receive care.  “You will be able to see your baby,” the ads say.  This is a good thing for both the mother and child.

When is our sense of smell at its best?  A recent study has concluded that our nose works best in the hours before we go to sleep.  Am I the only one that finds this is only marginally interesting?

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Back in the Day!

I don’t yearn for the good old days.  They were either good or they weren’t, but either way that was then and this is now.  I’d rather be in the present.

Having said that, I’ve been thinking about the time, long ago now, when I heeded John F. Kennedy’s call and went to work for my country as a Foreign Service Officer.  I represented us in India for seven years and was proud to do so.

Not everybody loved us, but we did offer an example of what freedom and liberty could mean for our citizens.  We could have a good life and our children could have an even better one.  We didn’t always agree with our leaders, but we trusted them not to lie to us.  We were not cynical, angry and disillusioned as we are today.

Today’s despair did not come upon us fully formed all at once.  It has been a process, sometimes loud and obvious, like Vietnam and Nixon, sometimes quiet and unnoticed, that has put us where we are.  We have been off track for a long time, and to correct our course now is difficult at best, maybe impossible.

I don’t yearn for the good old days.  I do yearn for the optimism I had back in the day.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


In the rush of everyday life we too often forget to be grateful.  Here are some reminders:

When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.
n  Willie Nelson

Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.
n  Karl Barth

Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer.
n  Maya Angelou

There are many things to be grateful “for” but, as I ripen with the seasons of life, the many reasons blend into a sacred mystery.  And, most deeply, I realize that living gratefully is its own blessing.
n  Michael Mahoney

Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint.
n  Henri Nouwen

Gratitude is the memory of the heart.
n  St. Mary Euphrasia Pelletier

If you can just appreciate each thing, one by one, then you will have pure gratitude.  Even though you observe just one flower, that one flower includes everything.
n  Shunryu Suzuki Roshi

Happiness is not what makes us grateful.  It is gratefulness that makes us happy.
n  Br. David Steindl-Rast

Friday, October 20, 2017


Big news from the cosmos – the collision of two neutron stars.  Some people are not fascinated by what’s happening way out there beyond the beyond.  But I am.  I don’t understand a lot, the universe is more than I can get my head around, and I know we know very little.  Still, I love the stuff.  And in August scientists followed gravitational waves to see the collision, something they’d never seen before.

A neutron star is what’s left after a massive star explodes in a supernova at the end of its life.  It then collapses into an extremely dense core.  How dense?  A sugar-cube-sized portion of a neutron star would weigh about a billion tons, about the same weight as Mt. Everest.  How large?  A neutron star is about the same size as Manhattan.  Like I say, it’s hard to even conceive of this.

Neutron stars, while common, are usually too small and dark to see with telescopes.  Many stars are binary – two stars that orbit each other.  In this case we had a binary neutron star spiraling into each other until they collided and merged.  When this happens, what looks like a star quickly appears, then disappears.  So seeing the event is a crapshoot.  But in August they hit the jackpot.  The detectable visible light lasted only a few days.

They call it a kilonova because it is about a thousand times more powerful than a supernova.  Scientists also say that colliding neutron stars produce the precious metals of our universe, like gold.  I wouldn’t know.  I just know it fascinates me!