Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Democracy in Action!

Two recent elections demonstrate how democracy gives free choice to the people:

In Sudan, Omar al-Bashir was reelected.  He received 94% of the vote.
In Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev was reelected.  He received 98% of the vote.

Such popularity is indeed impressive!

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Big One!

The earthquake in Nepal is our latest reminder that the Big One could hit here at any moment.  There is no escape.  The surface of the earth is composed of moving tectonic plates.  When they move the surface shakes and breaks.  When two plates jam up against each other, as they do in the Indian subcontinent, the shaking and breaking is particularly strong.

In South Asia the Indian Plate is up against the Eurasian Plate and moving faster (two inches a year), so collisions are inevitable, which is what happened in Nepal this weekend.  We can’t stop it.  We can’t predict when it will happen.  All we know for sure is that the plates are moving and will keep moving.  They’ve been doing it for hundreds of millions of years.

In earlier times the collision of these two plates created the Tibetan Plateau and the Himalaya Mountains.  As the Indian plate moves north it is like sediment being bunched up like earth before a plow, except on a gigantic scale, so the Plateau keeps rising and the mountains keep getting higher.

Earthquake resistant construction helps.  We benefit from modern methods that mitigate the damage.  Not so in Nepal, where old structures and flimsily-built new buildings offer no protection.  But no matter what we do, when a really Big Big One hits, we won’t be protected.

In the meantime – have a nice day.

Sunday, April 19, 2015


In the world of international economics, people are worried that the U.S. is failing to lead, and leadership is necessary.  Blame is spread in all directions.  Here at home the Republicans are blaming Obama.  Abroad, the worriers are blaming our dysfunctional government.  Neutrals are bemused, when they too are not worried. 

Another topic of conversation, and a worry for many Americans, is the feeling that the U.S. is losing our position as #1.  Oh my God, China is catching us.  Oh my God, American exceptionalism is threatened.  OMG, the end is near.  OMG, the sky is falling, the sky is falling.  Again, neutrals are bemused.

The 19 (can this be true – 19 of them?) potential Republican presidential candidates are gathered in New Hampshire ostensibly to tout their credentials as the best of the lot.  But their touting is focused on dissing Hillary.  Who can gain the most points by bad mouthing the likely Democratic opponent?  I’ll talk about myself later, they blab, but first let me tell you how awful that Clinton woman is.  Neutrals are both bemused and disgusted by the charade.

Dick Cheney is in the news again spouting venomous lies about his time in office and taking no responsibility for leading us into costly, useless wars.  He is the poster boy for the validity of the proposition that if you lie long enough it will be accepted as the truth.  Since he should have been dead long ago but lives on thanks to a new heart and various other machines to keep him alive, I take his longevity either as evidence that there is a God or evidence that there is no God.  Choose what you want to believe.  As for me, I’m not bemused.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Early Onset Boredom!

Hillary says she’s running for President.  Yawn!
So does Cruz and Rand Paul and Rubio.  Triple Yawn!
And soon there will be the rest of them.  Multiple Yawn!
And so for the next year and a half the pundits will pund
And the bloggers will blog
And the pollsters will poll
And a few people will make a lot of noise
And it’ll be sound and fury – signifying nothing
Most of us will yawn
And wish that someone would come along who could excite us
And in the end someone will win
And we’ll applaud ourselves, not for choosing a great leader, but for surviving the process.


Tuesday, April 07, 2015

In Case You Missed The News!

Do vibrating belts that are supposed to burn off flab and help you lose weight work?  No.

Every autumn blackpoll warblers, tiny birds that weight about half an ounce, fly 1,500 miles nonstop from Canada to Puerto Rico.  I guess they go north again in the spring, but I have no confirmation about the return trip.

They’ve found another human forebear, an ancient hominid known as Little Foot who lived 3.67 million years ago.  That makes this guy who had tiny feet older than Lucy and suggests that there were more species who were related to us than previously thought.

A new study indicates that men taking statin drugs are twice as likely to exhibit reduced sexual function than those taking placebos.  Of course, it is also more likely that statin takers will live longer.  So guys, choose.

Speaking of placebos, another new study shows that people taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain are no more likely to get relief than people taking placebos.

It’s a myth that eating carrots will improve your eyesight.  On the plus side, eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids and spinach can cut the risk of age-related macular degeneration.

In his first game with the Boston Red Sox, ex-Giant Pablo Sandoval (who goes out of his way to bad mouth his former teammates) went 0 for 5 and struck out 3 times.  Great news, and good riddance.

In his first game back with the Yankees after being suspended for a year because of drug use, Alex Rodriguez went 1 for 2 with a walk and a single, to the cheers of forgiving fans at Yankee Stadium.  Of course the Yankee fans would cheer.  Hope springs eternal for the underachievers in the Bronx.