Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Retreat!

America’s retreat from the world continues:

We’ve opted out of free trade in Asia, leaving China free to fill the gap.

We’ve opted out of climate change accords, leaving us at the mercy of a benevolent Mother Nature – or is it a benevolent God?

We’ve opted out of NAFTA, leaving North America to others.

We’ve opted out of tax reforms, opting instead for tax cuts benefitting the rich and corporations and leaving middle income people to pick up the tab.

We’ve opted out of Syria, leaving Russia, Turkey and Assad to lead the way toward some kind of end to the civil war.

We’ve opted out of a sane and human immigration policy, hurting millions already here and preventing from coming millions more who might bring their genius and initiative with them.


And by announcing that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital we’ve stuck a poker in the eye of every Muslim around the world and opted out of any role in a Middle East peace process, if there ever is to be one.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Head in the Sand!

Current news I’m avoiding.  I know keeping my head in the sand won’t change anything or help, but getting sucked into these stories would be a waste of time:

Trump’s tweets.  This unending irrational tirade is boring.

The proposed tax cuts.  Behind the scenes maneuvering to convince/cajole/bribe politicians to do the wrong thing is predictable behavior that sacrifices the public interest on the altar of the lobbyists.

Which teams will make football’s final four.  The conjecture about who will and who won’t and whether Alabama will sneak in isn’t illuminating.  Wait until the weekend and all will be known, and the arguments about injustice will replace conjecture.

How the city and state are preparing for legal recreational pot sales come the first of the year.  Will this or that location be approved?  Will small growers be put out of business?  How do we protect children from evil temptation?  Etc…

North Korean missile tests.  Just let me know if San Francisco is threatened and spare me other details, including all the bad things we’ll do to them if they don’t stop.

Grammy nominations.  I’m a jazz guy so all the hoopla falls on my deaf ears.

There is more, but I’m bored discussing what bores me.  Have a nice day!


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.