One of my correspondents told me that a member of a church choir, at a service in which the choir doesn’t wear robes (or, apparently, have a dress code) stood in front of the congregation wearing an “I am a deplorable” T-shirt. My correspondent wondered why no one objected.
This brought to mind an article a couple of days ago which addressed the question of why Trump's anti-Muslim remarks hadn’t been taken down by a social networking site since the site’s rules prohibit posts that denigrate anyone based on race, religion, etc. The site’s answer was that that taking down the remarks would have shut down an important debate among the site’s users.
The word "debate" has been coopted by people who don't know what it means, and who assume that the trash people sling at one another on line, and that the ad hominem attacks Trump has made on his detractors and his opponent constitutes debate.
If "Deplorable" had caused people to think, to debate, to question, I suppose the T-shirt is okay.
It is more likely, however, that those in the congregation who support Trump had their prejudices and biases reinforced and that those in the congregation who support Clinton had their prejudices and biases reinforced. Their minds are already made up, and there’s nothing likely to change them. Their hearts are hardened.
There’s an irony to this happening in a Christian church whose founding philosophy includes the story of how God kept “hardening the Pharaoh's heart” so that God could keep bullying the Pharaoh and the otherwise innocent Egyptian people. Yes, read the story (beginning in Exodus 7) closely. The Pharaoh was ready to give in several times, but God took away the man’s free will, made him change his mind, and sent another plague. If God were a middle-school student, today, he'd be suspended for the rest of his immortal life.
Should “churched” people support Trump? He did promise that if elected he would lift restrictions on non-profits and churches spending money on candidates campaigns and on making endorsements from the pulpit, opening up another avenue for elections to be bought.
On the other hand, Clinton has suggested she would attack “Citizens United,” the Supreme Court decision that allows nearly unrestricted anonymous money to be used to support candidates. It’s a nice thought, but it’s a “throwaway.” It's not going to happen. The Supreme Court almost never reverses itself. Congress might, if united, be able to do something to curtail “black money” in elections. But, since sitting congresspersons are the largest beneficiaries of that black money, it's not likely that they’d vote to curtail it. We're on the slippery slope, and gaining speed.
After writing this on Sunday, I wanted to find something in the news that was cheerful and upbeat with which to close.
Nothing from the UN News site except dire warnings and demands for more money.
"Discovery" reports Brazilian monkeys are making knives. Soon, they'll be killing one another with them (they already do so with rocks), and demanding a seat in the UN.
Nothing on "Spiegel" online... it's in German and I've forgotten too much. Wait... Google just translated it for me. Hmmm. Looks like the alt-right (Trump’s core supporters), the AFD, Le Pen, and others of that ilk are about to unite in a worldwide movement. Not good.
"Vietnam Breaking News" reports on an increase in global Daesh/ISIL attacks. Not good.
Checking Associated Press now... wait, please…
Yes! The Chicago Cubs are going to the World Series for the first time since 1945. Go Cubs!
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a coalition of scientists assembled by the United Nations. They represent many countries and work mostly by email, but do get together occasionally to exchange ideas and drink, mostly beer. They publish massive reports.
The reports are very conservative in their findings, and they are quite clear about margins of error. They report most findings in terms of "how confident” and "how much," as in "low confidence that sea level will rise more than 15 meters by year 2100," or "high confidence that sea level will rise more than 1 centimeter by year 2050."
There are literally thousands of scientists who contribute to and review these reports before they are published. I cannot accept that there would be a conspiracy among this many people to provide false conclusions without someone blowing the whistle.
Further, IPCC people receive data from many academic institutions, worldwide. Much of that data is available if one looks for it. I've read and studied a lot of the raw data, and have reached the same conclusions as the IPCC. NASA and the European Space Agency have some pretty cool information from some incredible satellites, too. Much of that is on-line and searchable.
There are people, including scientists, who disagree with the IPCC's findings. I've read some of their positions, including peer-reviewed papers in reputable journals such as "Nature" and “Science”. On the other hand, I do not consider papers published by colleges and universities who claim to teach “a Bible-based understanding of the universe” to be credible, although I have read some. The Bible is not a science text. Some of the history it contains may have some association with reality. It contains (in the King James Version at least) some excellent poetry and clever aphorisms. But it is not a science text.
Most of the disagreements about global climate change seem to be in the noise. That is to say, someone will pick apart a minor point, often without showing how it fits in the big picture.
Nothing I have read or learned adequately counters several critical facts: the Earth has warmed in the past 150+ years; the only source of that warming is the sun; the sun's energy is (and long has been) trapped by greenhouse gasses (GHGs); there is no doubt that much of the GHGs in the atmosphere today have been created by humans burning fossil fuels; the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is higher today than it has been in several hundred thousand years (some suggest millions of years); the climate is incredibly complex and difficult to model *; the ocean has become more acetic; growing seasons and locations have moved northward in this hemisphere; one can no longer find real icewine because it's not been cold enough in wine country for about ten years **; and more.
Is climate change the only thing (or the most important thing) we need to worry about?
If I were to make a list of worrisome things, I'd include terrorism, overfishing, dead zones (usually in gulfs and bays at the mouths of significant rivers), Christian and Muslim fundamentalism, Kim Jong-un, rogue nations and Israel with nuclear weapons, Zika, residual radiation from Fukushima, the Congress of the United States, the two current presidential candidates, American television, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, college sports programs, fluoridated water, the racial divide in the US (in fact, perhaps I should say the Balkanization of America and the rest of the world), inequality of wealth and income, a rewrite of the Japanese constitution to permit aggressive military forces, refugees (worldwide), Mexican drug cartels, the spirit of indifference that has taken hold of so many people, the dangers that lurk in refrigerators and freezers, and more.
* To paraphrase a statistician whose name I've forgotten: "All models contain some error; some models are, however, useful."
** I read a recent article reporting that grapes, including grapes for icewine, are being grown in Siberia. Think about it.
There's an old saying, "Eat a live frog first thing every morning and nothing worse will happen the rest of the day."
I'm eating that frog by watching the third debate between Trump and Clinton on YouTube while I write this.
They have just moved to abortion and Trump is waffling and propagandizing on Roe v Wade while Clinton is being specific and strong. I think she has won this point.
Now Trump is denying that Russia has conducted cyber attacks on the US (seventeen US intelligence agencies have said Russia is doing so).
The live frog is kicking. They've moved on to nuclear weapons, and it looks as if every pretense of civility has disappeared.
One of my correspondents suggests that Millennials are not educated about the election. They may not be educated, but they’re not the only ones. A couple of elections ago, a big deal was made about the large number of people who got their news only from John Stewart’s “Daily Show.” That concern is trivial compared to the large number of people today who get their news from Twitter and other “social media.” The mis-information machine is a monster that grows as it feeds on itself. Despite claims otherwise, there are no gatekeepers on the internet.
How can one find the truth? It will take more than a lantern to illuminate an honest man.
I follow both Breitbart and Huffington Post (covering the far, far right and the far, far left). I also read, daily, online news sources including AP, BBC, Al Jazeera, Reuters, UK Telegraph, Christian Science Monitor, Drudge Report, UPI, and Politico as well as a random selection of other sources. Occasionally, I’ll watch one of the late-night comedians. And I still don’t know what is true. I can only hope that I have surrounded it.
Whether or not we know the truth, you and I must make a decision. It’s too late to change anyone’s mind, and what was said at this last debate likely won’t make any difference.
I voted on Monday, the first day the polls were open for early voting. There was a large turnout while I was there. My sister and her husband went Tuesday afternoon, and said there was only a trickle of people. I’m looking forward to seeing how the contest turns out.
There are only twenty days remaining before the November 8 election will be over. I hope the results will put to rest the bitter, derisive and divisive debates both formal and informal, on the stage, in rallies, in the so-called social media, and in advertisements. Please vote.
In the current very un-presidential presidential election, the notion of a willing suspension of disbelief has become a willingness to believe anything and to hold to that belief in the face of implausibility, contradictions, and facts that belie that belief.
Believing that Trump is not a misogynist who has assaulted women is as ridiculous as believing the world is only 8,000 or so years old. (It would be interesting for someone to correlate those two beliefs in a poll.)
Believing that Clinton was only ‘careless’ in handling classified information by using a private email server is as ridiculous as believing that all Bill and Loretta did during that meeting on the tarmac was talk.
Believing that either candidate, if elected, would be able to control (much less defeat) Daesh/ISIS/ISIL is as ridiculous as believing that the 3-4,000 year hatred between followers of Jehovah and followers of Allah will melt into a love-fest. It’s more likely that it will melt into glass, which is what sand subjected to a thermonuclear burst becomes.
Believing that the damage done to the American political system by Trump’s claims of “rigged” will be repaired—whether he or Clinton is elected—is as ridiculous as believing that Trump has cheated on his income taxes. [No, he probably hasn’t cheated. He’s taken advantage of parts of the tax code written and paid for by lobbyists for the real estate industry.]
Believing that the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obama Care,” has failed is as ridiculous as believing that either Clinton or Trump or a future Congress can do away with that act. (It hasn’t failed; and it already has too big a constituency to ever be discarded.)
Believing to be true everything you hear on any news source, whether far, far right or far, far left, is as ridiculous as believing that your neighbor’s opinion of either Trump or Clinton should sway your judgment. [Talking head: “How do you know that he/she didn’t do that?” Idiot person-on-the-street: “I just know.” Talking head: “But how do you know?” Idiot: “I just know.” *]
Believing that the un-presidential debates should be taken as any indication of how either Trump or Clinton might perform as president is as ridiculous as believing that either of them has the integrity to be president. [Come on! Three, 90-minute or so rehearsed, partly scripted performances are going to allow you to see the true heart and mind of either of them? You have to be at least smarter than that. Please tell me you are smarter than that.]
Believing that Clinton would seize all citizens’ guns is almost as ridiculous as believing that Trump would seize all female citizens genitals. [Sorry. May we have a discussion of the election that doesn’t involve genitals?]
Believing that Trump could do any more than make a dent in illegal immigration is as ridiculous as believing that Clinton would open the golden door ** to terrorists.
Believing that Trump would be able to build a wall between the US and Mexico (much less that Mexico would pay for it) is as ridiculous as believing that the woman whose house was in the walls of Jericho and who sheltered Joshua’s spies was an innkeeper. (She wasn’t. She was a prostitute. “Innkeeper” is a modern Christian perversion of that story.)
An author of fiction—historical fiction, science fiction, apocalyptic and dystopian fiction—must write in a way that allows a reader to “willingly suspend disbelief.” The setting, the characters, the plot all must be plausible enough that the reader can put himself or herself in the situation and in the characters’ minds in order to believe that what is written could possibly be true or come true. I tried to do that in “The Gospel Truth,” a historical fiction story of a boy growing up in Ty Ty, Georgia during the Great Depression of the early 20th century. I tried to do that in “The Stuff of Life: Book I,” which takes place not only on Earth but in outer space, millions of years ago. I tried to do that in “Holy Fire,” which is based on an extension of today’s news stories.
Please check them out on the home page.
* Redacted without changing the meaning, from a real interview.
** “Golden door,” as in “The New Colossus.” If you don’t know it, please follow this link and read the whole thing.
Think about it, especially the lines that aren’t often quoted.
The Montreal Protocol was created by some 200 nations to deal with the effect of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) on the ozone hole. It seems to be working. CFC use has virtually ended and the ozone hole has finally started to heal.
Where does the Law of Unintended Consequences come in? When CFCs were invented, it was thought they were inert. Years later it was discovered that when a CFC molecule got high enough in the atmosphere, ultraviolet light from the sun would knock off a chlorine molecule which would then react with ozone, and break it down. Hence, CFCs got blamed for the growth of the Antarctic ozone hole.
Since the Montreal protocol was implemented, virtually all CFCs have been replaced with a family of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). HFCs were thought to be safe until someone noticed that HFCs have a huge and unintended consequence: they are extremely potent greenhouse gasses (GHG).
HFCs are 100-3000 times more potent than CO2. The most abundant HFC, HFC-134a, is 1,300 times more potent than CO2.
Today, the small amount of HFCs in the atmosphere keeps them from playing a large role in global warming. However, HFCs are very stable; what is already in the atmosphere may be there for hundreds of years. HFC-134a, for example, has a lifetime of about 13 years in the atmosphere. That’s not as long as CO2, which can last for tens of thousands of years.
HFCs are created and released more and more often as they are manufactured, as air conditioning units leak or are scrapped without the gas being recovered.
This week, representatives of nearly 200 members of the Montreal Protocol met in Kigali, Rwanda to address HFCs.
There is little about the conference in the US mainstream media. Google searches (and I’m a fair dinkum searcher) showed pre-conference coverage only by Voice of America, Reuters, Vox, Physics.org, the Daily Mail, and Reuters UK.
“The Washington Post” ran in July a preview of an earlier conference in Vienna.
CNN posted a summary of the Rwanda agreement on Saturday, 15 October 2016, within minutes of the Kigali agreement being reached.
A search for comments by Presidential Candidates yielded zero hits for Clinton, and from Trump, only an old diatribe on hairspray, which contained several factual errors.
By passing the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, member nations agreed to reduce HFCs. The reduction is expected to protect the environment from what was predicted to be a 0.5 degree Centigrade rise in overall global temperature. That’s just shy of one degree Fahrenheit.
But what will replace HFCs, and will we see more unintended consequences?
At present, the candidates include carbon dioxide and ammonia, and a family of chemicals composed of hydrogen, fluorine, and carbon, called hydrofloroolefins (HFOs). They are short-lived if released into the atmosphere. One known unintended consequence is that one member of the family breaks down to trifluoracetic acid (TFA), which is then washed out by precipitation. The ultimate effect is not known, but it is judged to be negligible compared to natural sources of TFA.
Let’s keep our guard up (and our fingers crossed).
All references were accessed on 2016-10-15
One of my correspondents said that he viewed the people protesting police shootings of Blacks as “people who demand criminal entitlements.” An interesting turn of phrase, “criminal entitlements.” What does that mean?
I could read that as a comment on the fact that many times, the “protests” have turned into mob actions at stores that coincidentally (?) carry expensive merchandise… stores that are looted. That’s criminal. On the other hand, let’s separate “entitlements” from “wants.”
To personalize this: I’m entitled to a pension from the taxpayers of the USA. That is based on a contract between the “government of, by, and for the people” and me; the contract that led me to an Air Force career. I am also entitled to subsidized medical treatment based on that same contract, plus my contributions to Medicare. I am also entitled to social security payments. That is based on a similar contract and on my contributions to social security during my 35-some years of employment. These are entitlements.
The Constitution of the US contains entitlements. One entitlement is the right of every citizen age 18 and above to vote. Another is the right of every citizen to equal protection under the law. The Constitution also entitles us to protection against cruel and unusual punishment. It entitles us to practice the religion of our choice, no matter how idiotic, without fear that an official government religion will supersede it. There’s more, but I hope I’ve made my point.
There is, however, no entitlement to many of the benefits granted, at taxpayer expense, to the poor and homeless. The words from “The New Colossus,” while welcoming are not a guarantee. (If you don’t recognize “The New Colossus,” open a new window and look it up.) The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in the Declaration of Independence are not an entitlement. They are a hope.
Enough people believe children should not be allowed to starve that programs to feed poor children were implemented at taxpayer expense. Enough people believe providing early childhood education would pay off in later life, that programs like Head Start were funded. And some people take unfair advantage of these programs by buying cigarettes, liquor, and lottery tickets with WIC money, and using Head Start as free childcare. Some, not all.
Enough people believe that no nation could call itself great unless it offered a basic level of healthcare to all its citizens, that the Affordable Health Care Act was passed. Yes, it’s had problems, but it is better than anything else anyone has come up with. Yes, the cost of health insurance and the cost of healthcare have risen dramatically. But the Affordable Care Act is not the culprit. That will be treated in a later post.
Enough people believed that every defendant has the right to a lawyer that public defender offices were established… and then defunded when it became apparent to enough people that not everyone really deserved a lawyer.
Enough people believed that illicit drugs were harming this country that the so-called “war on drugs” was begun, funded, and continued. Whether anyone knew at its inception what a disproportionate effect the “war” would have on the black community we will never know.
Are you angry, yet? I hope that your anger isn’t at me or what I’ve said, but at the truth of what I’ve said.†
What can you do?
First, vote. No matter what you think of either or both current candidates for president, vote. Let the numbers show that the great majority of Americans are invested in their country’s future.
Second, keep yourself informed. Not every one of you has the luxury I have of spending 90-120 minutes a day searching news sources. However, make some time and look for balance… not in a single source, but among several.
Third, become involved. Write a letter to the editor of a local or regional newspaper. Attend a meeting of your city council or county commission, and speak out on an issue. Become an active member of a local political party.
Fourth, learn more about yourself and others. We are born with the prejudices that separate us from those different from ourselves. It’s the “If you’re like me, you’re good; if you’re not like me, you’re bad” inherited from millennia of tribalism. Remember, we are all descended from people who migrated from Africa between about 120,000 and 40,000* years ago. While our evolution burdened us with this, it also gave us a mind that is capable of overcoming that primitive instinct.
† Some of these topics are expanded and others are introduced in “Holy Fire.” Please see the Home Page of this site for ordering information.
* There were several “waves” of migration and at least one was caused by climate change.
“One of the penalties for not voting is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”
Plato said that (or something like it) more than 2,000 years ago.
(I have not used Plato’s words to disparage any of our current elected officials.)
I will, however, use those words to point a finger of shame at the majority of those eligible to vote in the United States. We have an abysmal record for voter turnout. Fewer than 45% of registered voters turned out in the 2014 mid-term elections. And we know that not every eligible person is registered. And there’s no excuse for it.
Where I live (Peachtree City, Georgia), the County Election people have arranged for two weeks of early voting at the Peachtree City library, as well as the Tyrone Town Hall and the Elections Office in Fayetteville. Voters from any precinct may vote at these locations during this early voting. The lines are usually considerably shorter than on Election Day, itself. It takes only a moment to present your drivers license to the poll workers, sign a form, and press a few buttons on a voting machine. It’s not rocket science. (Deciding who to vote for is, however, a little more difficult.)
Every year I hear the same excuses for not voting.
Number One Excuse: “My vote doesn’t matter.” My answer to that, in technical language, is, “crap.” Yes, few if any elections have been won by a single vote. However, your vote combined with the votes of others who think as you do can swing an election.
Number Two Excuse: “I don’t know anything about the candidates/issues.” In technical language, my answer to that is, “No excuse.” There have been many and adequate opportunities to learn about the issues and about the candidates and what they stand for. There is still time. Your local election people have already published sample ballots. Check your local newspaper for information on candidate forums. Start Googling candidates’ names. Information on some candidates is scant; and candidates’ web sites and Facebook pages are under their control. Read with caution.
This year (2016) we have an additional excuse: “I don’t want to vote for either of those clowns.” I hear Trump described as a loose cannon; Clinton described as a crook.” Can you say ad hominim? That’s the name for an attack on a person rather than on their ideas or on what they stand for.
I found it difficult to watch the second un-presidential, presidential debate. Both candidates’ behavior disgusted me. However, I’m going to go back to YouTube and watch it again, slowly, to look for the candidates’ ideas and what they stand for. (At least, what they want me to believe they stand for.) I’m also going to continue to read each day as many news sources as I can. If I cannot find the truth that way, at least I may be able to surround it. I recommend watching the primary US news source that does not promote your candidate (that is, if you are a Trump fan, watch a little CNN; if you are a Clinton fan, watch a little FOX). Consider also reading other sources, available on the internet, including BBC, Al Jazeera, Reuters, the Christian Science Monitor, AP, telegraph.co.uk, upi.com, the Drudge Report, Huffington Post, and Politico. (Most of these lean toward one candidate and away from the other, at least as far as it appears to me. Your goal is to sift through the information and search for the truth.)
There are apocryphal stories that the word, “idiot” comes from the Greek and was used to described a person not involved in the essential political processes of their times. Whether true or not, it is “well told.”
[For readers in Fayette County, Georgia, go to www.TheCitizen.com and look for articles reporting on candidate forums, and for their letters to the editor. Go to http://www.fayettecountyga.gov/elections/sample_ballots.htm, download the sample ballot.]
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) among football players; the antlers of the Irish elk; the feathers of the male peacock. They’re all examples of the results of sexual dimorphism: gender-specific traits associated with sexual selection. In very simple terms, the peacock’s feathers, the Irish Elk’s antlers, and the football player’s brawn, all signal the female of the species that this male has enough testosterone to maintain physical health despite producing these features, and would therefore make a good genetic father for her children.
Generational repetition of selection for a specific trait—the male with the biggest display of feathers, antlers, or muscles—reinforces the trait. Feathers, antlers, and muscles become larger, more pronounced.
Nor are sexual selection traits limited to the male of the species. For example, large mammaries signal the male that the female is likely to be a good nurturer of children (although that is probably secondary when the footballer looks at the cheerleader).
In the southern United States, the match between football players and cheerleaders is a cliché. Footballers and cheerleaders seem to go together in some sort of natural order—selecting mates for brawn and beauty; breeding with one another to produce more brawn and beauty. It’s not a coincidence that the prettiest girls are cheerleaders and vice-versa. Both brawn and beauty are reinforced and exaggerated over the generations.
The late-twentieth-century trend toward school consolidation kept the footballer-cheerleader (F-C) gene pool large enough to prevent the inbreeding that occurs among smaller gene pools. However, as multiple generations of footballers and cheerleaders (F-Cs) and their offspring attend the same schools, some recessive genes are likely to be expressed.
The F-C example of sexual dimorphism may be in part responsible for the decline in the United States of education in general and science-technology-engineering-math education in particular. The success of the F-Cs, the relaxing of academic standards for them, the diversion of money to sports teams, and the designation as nerds (or worse) of non-F-Cs who do excel in academics all serve to push down academic standards.
Let’s not overlook the lesson of the Irish Elk. There is a strong hypothesis among biologists and paleontologists that the female elks’ selection for large antlers preserved and exaggerated this trait to the point that males’ antlers became a burden that the males could not support, both physically and, more basically, the males’ metabolism and ability to maintain homeostasis.
Is there a lesson, here? Yes. Will it make a difference? That depends on how readers’ react and whether it penetrates their perceptual filters.
For more, consider reading Darwin’s “The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex,” and the following article from the National Academy of Sciences:
For a broader, and less detailed treatment, try:
The House of WolfCahpter 1: The Elevation of GarrethGens Bleddyn, my father, stands before the Council and lifts me, his arms outstretched. He holds me thus while he recites my lineage from the founder of House Bleddyn. It is no great feat of strength or endurance for my father to do this. I am only six days old and weigh but 3.4 kilograms.
Thirteen members of the Council sit on the High Dais. My elder-by-eighteen-years brother, a lieutenant in the Home Guard, sits in the thirteenth seat—Father’s seat—at the right of the First Speaker. Patriarchs and Matriarchs of Lesser Clans are seated along both sides of the chamber.
My elder-by-twelve-years and elder-by-nine-years brothers, and elder-by-six-years sister stands at Father’s right hand. My elder-by-three-years brother fidgets beside Sister. Their surrogates stand behind them. My surrogate, in whose womb I had been nurtured after Mother’s egg was combined with Father’s seed, stands at Father’s left. Mother is a starship captain, and will not return to World for millennia. Other, older siblings are enrolled in Academy or serving on starships.
After he names himself, my father says, “I present to the Council my ninth child, Garreth Bleddyn.” Garreth is the name of an ancient soldier of our Clan who was known for both bravery and modesty. I do not know then how this name might guide my life. In fact, I do not know any of this at the time of my elevation. I do not remember much before my third year, when I witness the elevations of a younger sibling.
Nor do I remember that during my elevation three members of Lesser Clans stand from their seats and lift weapons. “Clan Bleddyn ends today,” one cries.
On the High Dais, Brother sees and reacts. Before the third word leaves the mouth of the enemy, he stands, raises his weapon, and fires. One of the three assassins falls, but not before firing his own weapon. The burst of energy does not hit Brother, but the First Speaker. My surrogate sees Brother’s movements. Without hesitation, she turns, lifts her own weapon, and fires on a second enemy. He falls and the energy from his pistol rakes the wall behind the High Dais.
My elder brothers’ and sister’s surrogates drop to the floor, pulling their children with them and protecting them with their own bodies and their robes while their eyes cast about for targets. Father clasps me to his breast and wraps me in the ceremonial and armored robe he wears over his uniform. He stands facing the Council, sure that his family will protect him—and me.
There is a scuffle with raised fists and flashing daggers and a third would-be assassin falls to the onslaught of those around him in the benches of the Lesser Clans.
“He is dead,” a voice calls from the melee.
He is dead. So are two other assassins and so is the First Speaker. He is the ancient Gens Hywel. He holds the Speakership of the Council for one solar year in a rotation among the Greater Clans. He is an innocent, struck down in one of the endless feuds that I learn are the true rule of the people—the Res Publica.
The assassination attempt is a foolish thing. Even if the attackers had killed all of us present at the ceremony, Clan Bleddyn would not have died. I have many brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins. The attack was not against the Clan, but against its patriarch, my father, Gens Bleddyn.
© 2016 Paul W. Lentz, Jr.
Remember the Great Georgia Gasoline Crisis of September, 2016? A broken pipeline created gasoline shortages in the southeast—and caused some gas stations to shut down.
The latest hard news on a mainstream site was dated 19 September, according to a Google search. A more thorough search found more information on other, more obscure, but legitimate sites. What do we know, now?
The good news is that a temporary bypass was completed by 22 September. The bad news is that Colonial Pipeline has announced that it will shut down Line 1 “at least once more this year to replace leaking segments…” Anyone with an iota of intelligence could certainly see that coming.
So, what’s the story?
In part, the story is that the story didn’t get good exposure in the mainstream media. Too many other things more important. Like the ex-wife of some sports star who suddenly stopped exposing her affairs on social media.
So, what is the story?
There was apparently more than one break, including one outside Atlanta. I didn’t find that in mainstream media. The pipeline is ancient… and its failure is just one more sign of the crumbling infrastructure in the US. No mention of that, either.
The US Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz, said, “It is incredible… the risk profile we have with one pipeline carrying half the gasoline supply to the east coast—70pc [percent] in many southeastern states.”
Incredible? Mr. Secretary, it’s frightening. But what is more frightening is the reaction of the public. There was nothing made of that. Have we become a nation of soma addicts? Sure seems like it.
According to news sources, spot shortages after the break extended to not only Georgia, but also the Carolinas. In some cases, gasoline was brought in from east coast ports (Savannah, for example). Of course, this justified higher prices because the gasoline would first have to be brought in by tanker from Gulf coast ports.
Add to that, there’s an archaic law (the “Jones Act”) that requires cargo between US ports be carried on US flagged and crewed ships. Because of the shortage of those ships, the cost of shipping is higher than if shippers could use foreign-flagged ships. If the east coast ports and pipelines from there to Georgia and Carolina distribution centers couldn’t handle the load, more would have to be carried longer distances by truck, which would really increase the price. This is a mess that we (the USA citizenry) created, and it’s come back to bite us in the butt.
Of course, no one is taking this seriously except the Goobernor of Georgia, who tried to make political hay and appealed to the GA-AL sports rivalries by calling it the “Alabama pipeline.” It isn’t. It belongs to Colonial Pipeline, which has 5,500 miles of pipeline crossing 13 states, according to the company’s web site. And, Colonial is based in Alpharetta, Georgia. I wonder if there’s anything that ever happens, good or bad, that some smarmy politician doesn’t try to latch on to and make it something to garner votes.
When I say no one is taking this seriously, I mean that throughout the so-called crisis, I saw people in huge SUVs lined up, air-conditioning running, in the drive-through lanes of fast chicken joints, fast burger joints, and fast taco joints. I didn’t driven past any schools, but I suspect that I would have seen the usual line of huge SUVs there every afternoon, engines and air-conditioning running, so soccer moms could pick up and transport the children who are too special to ride the school busses.
We are a sick society.
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Registered Curmudgeon, scientist, skeptic, humanist, and writer.