Ignorance of the Law Is No Excuse!

Really? Why not? Are we so desperate for jail inmates we feel it is necessary to prosecute and incarcerate large numbers of people for breaking laws they were not even aware of, let alone aware they were breaking?

We have so many laws on the state’s and nation’s books not even those responsible for enforcing them are always aware they exist. Laws in some states go back hundreds of years and are essentially meaningless today; yet they stay on the books. John Stossel, of FBN fame, is fond of displaying the truckloads of paper it takes just to embody our tax code. Guaranteed just about every citizen is breaking a law somewhere in that pile.

A simple solution to over legislation and regulation efforts would be for Congress to pass a law requiring an expiration date for every new law enacted. Laws funding wars, for example, would be good for one or two years, not for a decade or forever. Concurrent with the new law requiring a stale date on all new legislation will be the requirement that for every new law enacted an expired or useless law must be repealed. After one session of Congress our legislators would be so busy trying to figure out what to eliminate from existing laws, so they can get their new law passed, they wouldn’t be able to get any new regulation legislation passed for years. Talk about a nationwide stimulus package!

Soon, loopholes created during a specific period of need would expire without leaving a gaping wide federal revenue windfall for evermore for a few lucky beneficiaries. A good example would be the oil company tax bonanza created over 100 years ago. Somehow oil barons convinced the legislature that their product was becoming ever scarcer. I suspect the oil barons greased the wheels of Congress to an extraordinary degree to get this law passed. In America a “depletion allowance” was created to offset the “declining” value of a supposedly limited resource and to provide an incentive for those same oil companies to go find more oil. (It seems as if gigantic profits were not enough incentive at the time, and this law was enacted during a time when oil was trading at or below three dollars a barrel.) This tax loophole, which allows all oil producing companies to write off a portion of their income for no real reason, costs the American taxpayers billions of dollars in corporate welfare annually.

New technology has rendered the entire justification for a tax break of this nature obsolete. We are now discovering more oil yearly than the world uses due to the advances in shale oil recovery! But who cares about oil? The United States is the Saudi Arabia of natural gas and could be energy independent in a few years if we weren’t strangled by the oil companies. Oil companies are the proud owners of a product soon to be less and less in demand at a time when more and more is being found and brought to market daily. Incessant demand for more revenue for a less than necessary, obsolete, and environmentally destructive product has been harming the American economy for over 20 years. It’s time we moved on.

Another current body of law being used against the citizens of the world, and in particular against the citizens of this country, involves warrantless searches of our personal computers and digital equipment by the new generation of cyber cops spawned since 9/11. Say, for example, you are curious to discover what is available in the world of pornography. You could be in for a huge surprise! Although it is the largest generating revenue source on the planet, taking the wrong route to pornography can lead you straight to jail. Let’s say you join a chat room for “younger children” to see what your child could be exposed to online. You follow a few links to some streaming video sites and are horrified to discover children are being used as porn stars in some of them.

You get interrupted, it is time to prepare dinner, so you save the videos to review later to see if there is any possible exposure your own kids could have to this threat. Like any busy mom you may not get back to the link for a few days, and without your knowledge, a cyber cop may have followed your link to the file or files you saved to investigate later. You now have an uninvited snoop looking into every facet of your digital life. Based upon the “evidence” you created when you obtained the file, your life can now be turned upside down forever, and a visit from the cyber SWAT cops is probably in your future.

Why? You ask this question in complete innocence. What law could I have broken? The truth is you just tripped over a hair trigger. By law it is perfectly legal to watch anything your heart desires or anything you are curious about. In other words, if kiddie porn is your thing, you can watch children being sexually abused 24/7/365 and never break the law. But… The second you download a tagged movie because you didn’t choose to view it at the moment you acquired it, you just broke the law and entitled law enforcement officials to destroy your life. Does that sound fair or make sense? Who would have any idea such a ridiculously written law even exists?

An even more horrific scenario can unfold. Back in its heyday a service called LimeWire provided a platform for file sharing and boasted a membership of over 100 million subscribers worldwide. Not every country shares the same sexual taboos we do so you need to be very careful what you download. For example, you might be looking for classic movie called “Lolita” starring James Mason. You type in “Lolita” into the search box and you get dozens of modern versions of what are known as “Lolita” movies. These are movies starring children engaging graphic adult videos! Although this content had nothing to do with what you were looking for, by downloading these mislabeled films for viewing later you just bought yourself a lengthy stay in prison!

The tragic part is that justice is blind. You can have the best excuse in the world for downloading a mislabeled movie but no law enforcement department cares. They are looking for inmates and they don’t care where they get them from. The system will gobble you up, swallow you whole, and reduce your life to a pile of detritus.

I am writing in part to suggest most of our justice system is based upon outmoded, obsolete, puritanically biased nonsense. We are bankrupting ourselves putting people who are nonviolent figments of our legislators’ imaginations into prison. By way of compensation for these unfairly jailed victims of our society we provide them the equivalent of what I like to call a poor man’s health retreat. We supply them with a balanced diet, free healthcare while under state or federal supervision, and plenty of entertainment and exercise. Someone like Britney Spears would spend a half $1 million a year to get the same benefits our prisoners get for free. We provide these benefits to our victims of excessive democracy for the bargain price of only $50,000 per inmate per year!

Aren’t we wonderful the way we treat our prisoners? Perhaps, in our heart of hearts, we realize most of them didn’t need to be prisoners in the first place.

WordPress bloggers

I don’t own my own WordPress blog site but I have had phenomenal success with a few of my blogs using the host WordPress site…Until recently.

During July the entire site was shut down (at least in my neighborhood) for approximately four days. When the site came back online over half my blogs were closed to comments due to “the abuse of comments”.

I am not sure what that means. I checked a few other iblog@blog articles and found those articles to be closed to comments also.

Does anyone using the WordPress site know what this was about? With over 50 million bloggers using this site this radical change to the comments section must’ve caused a loss of millions of dollars in revenue. For those of us who use blogs to feed our websites this drastic action has caused the entire site to lose its best feature; that of author/reader direct communication.

In short, a great deal of the “fun” and “engagement” between a writer and reader has been lost. I will have to move to another blog site.

After tens of thousands of comments I am at a loss to understand why such a radical action took place. Any explanation would be appreciated. Please write me directly if you have an answer, or even a clue, since comments to this blog will no doubt be closed “due to abuse”.

You can reach me at my email address: bobparmelee4@gmail.com I hope to hear from every one of WordPress’s 50 million viewers to see if we can’t pinpoint the culprit responsible for causing such disruption and loss of revenue.

Thanks for listening, Bob Parmelee

Outrageous

The US is hooked on war like a junkie on meth.

I am old, going on ancient. As a young man I suffered through the Vietnam War during prime time. I was an engineering student in a military/industrial college during the 67-71 period in American war history and I saw two distinct forces at work at the time.

On the one side stood my potential employers; the military-industrial complex. This was the enormously powerful group of companies which took global hold after the Second World War. At the end of WWII the war machine was a huge piece of the American economy. There were giant profits in war matériel, a huge skilled labor force in place to make weapons of war, and an entire Third World of nations to use them on. On the other side of the war machine were students and people of peace.

We have been terraforming and terrorizing large pieces of world real estate for over half a century now. We haven’t accomplished anything of significance, but we have spent trillions of taxpayer dollars needed elsewhere trying to bend the world to our way of thinking. The peasants who have been on the receiving end of our smart bombs aren’t pleased but they haven’t had any success at repelling our invasions.

So what does it say about Americans that we are willing to support one of the bloodiest military regimes on the planet? In case you haven’t noticed, our war machine grinds on regardless of which party controls the White House or Congress. Death panels do exist. These are the military-industrial CEOs who decide where their air cannons and smart bombs will be used next.

We are not directly involved in every conflict on the planet, so not all war deaths have our fingerprints on them, but our agents are always in there somewhere. Google Mexico/ the drug war/ weapons supplier and guess which country pops up? So are we a country without a conscience? Is profit our only motive, our core value? Is everything our leaders say or do from Congress on up to the President just lip service to protect our war machine? Weigh in on this America. I for one am tired of seeing America being spelled in blood all over the globe.

We don’t have to be the biggest supplier of weapons of mass destruction on this planet. If we took the money we are wasting blowing Afghanistan to smithereens and spent it building our own roads, bridges, schools and hospitals, believe me this country and the rest of the world would be far better off for it. If we used the money spent in Afghanistan on humane and beneficial projects for the people in that poor country do we actually believe they would be trying to kill us for our kindness?

I won the draft back then and so was spared the direct experience of war but many of my friends weren’t so lucky. I saw these people I grew up with come back after a tour duty changed forever. Some died, some survived but no one was ever the same again. Being forced to participate in the most barbarian of human activities is the most soul corrupting activity imaginable. Being involved in the deaths of millions of women and children, not to mention their husbands and brothers, for the sake of profits of soulless corporations makes all of us somewhat less than human.

For men of good conscience an experience of this nature is utterly demoralizing.

Sex, Love, and War

Since most people living today have been able to put their personal survival in the rear view mirror, most of us are free to busy ourselves with what are clearly less critical areas of life than continuing living. We can begin to fine-tune our environment now that the lions and tigers are in their cages, and we can begin to concentrate on the less threatening but still clear threats to our society.

We send men off to war to die on a regular basis but that, for some inexplicable reason, doesn’t impress us much anymore. We see love and marriage and divorce and heartbreak on videos 24/7/365; we seem to have an insatiable appetite for this type of trivia. Affairs of the heart we seem to be able to take in stride, no problem, but when it comes to sex in this country, we fall completely apart. Our false modesty is showing everywhere.

Anyone visiting this country through the lens of the media would conclude that our country is obsessed with sex. While the love part seems to be pretty spin free in our lives, beyond the movies and sitcoms, , we are terribly conflicted about the place sex plays in our lives. We spend a fortune on sex. Here is a quick look at a some fast statistics: (These numbers are from 2006 data)

Pornography Time Statistics:
Every second – $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography
Every second – 28,258 Internet users are viewing pornography
Every second – 372 Internet users are typing adult search terms into search engines
Every 39 minutes: a new pornographic video is being created in the United States (Stats courtesy of Google Search)

Statistics abound but aren’t very recent. Nevertheless, you can believe this; sex sites enjoy the largest slice of Internet visitors online. More money is spent on pornography, just one segment of the sex market, than the entire combined sales of the top 10 tech companies in America. Add up the sales of IBM, Apple, Microsoft, Intel, Cisco, etc. and you haven’t yet made a dent on the money spent on sex.

So what you say, the money spent on porn or sex is not money out of my pocket. Guess again. More people are in jail for sex crimes than any other segment of prison populations except pot crimes. Who do you think supports these prisoners while they are in jail? Whether someone in your family is paying for a prostitute or buying porn online or not, and a ridiculously high percentage of both men and women are, you are paying to support your fellow citizens while they are in jail, to the tune of about $1000 a week per inmate on average. To be blunt about it, when someone gets busted for engaging in sex for money, you help pay the bill to prosecute them. When you take into consideration the number of people currently sitting in jail on your dime you will be amazed at your actual contribution in dollars annually. (Talk about getting no bang for your buck!)

Folks, 5 out of the 6 people you support through your taxes are in jail for victimless crimes or offenses like consensual sex and pot possession. Consider this. If I walked up to you on the street and asked you directly to give me $100 to help prosecute the hooker or the dime bag pot salesman I saw working the other side of the street, you would tell me to get lost, and you should. If you don’t have at least 1000 better ways of spending $100 you should be ashamed of yourself.

Ha, gotcha! The government takes far more yearly from the average taxpayer to provide this service for you; you just don’t make the connection. People in more advanced countries like those in Europe (it pains me to remember America used to resemble that remark; we are now about 25th from the top and falling rapidly) realized that they were supporting a fruitless persecution of harmless individuals, similar to the Salem witch trials in our country, and turned their attention and their money to better purposes.

We are still in our infancy here in America. Our society is barely 350 years old and our democracy just a few decades past 200 years of age. We are still drooling over salient gossip like teenagers, relishing every detail of the numerous sex scandals grabbing the headlines daily. Isn’t it time we started showing a little maturity? Isn’t it time to recognize that wasting $2 billion weekly on pot and sex-related offenses is just plain stupid? Can’t we citizens find some better way to spend the $500 average cost per taxpayer to house these nonviolent offenders? Wouldn’t an extra $500 help you and your family? Couldn’t we spend the money more responsibly on education, healthcare, and our country’s infrastructure?

While it’s said democratic nations, theoretically, always end up getting the government they want, I don’t believe the citizens in this country have the first clue about the government they got. We haven’t made any real social progress since Martin Luther King forced us to open our eyes and see blacks as people. The next great step in our society will be to recognize that, low and behold, we are all sexual creatures, and we should look at each other without feeling the need to censure each others behavior. A simple change in attitude from sticking our noses into everybody else’s business to leaving each other alone would save us 2 billion bucks a week. How smart does that sound?

The Two Theories of Creation

There are two distinctly different theories about the birth of the universe. I believe I am fairly representing the points from both sides of the debate.

Astrophysicists have determined there was an event called a singularity and have given it the name “the big bang”. This event sparked the conversion of energy into matter. As this matter cooled, condensed and passed through the Higgs bosun particle field it acquired the property required to hold our universe together (gravity) and became everything in existence. This process started some 15 billion years ago and has advanced to where we are today.

On the other hand, we have what I call the 6K theory. This theory suggests that a supreme being created the heavens and earth and everything in between approximately 6000 years ago. Early civilization produced some of the greatest minds in all history, but… They didn’t have the math and science we have today or the tools we use to measure our world, so they made a few mistakes. They looked upon the midnight sky as if it were a giant canvas. Everything shining down on earth appeared to be the same distance away except for those bright lights in our immediate solar system they could see moving about. They drew their astronomical conclusions from this false set of data. They concluded that the Earth was the center of the universe. They didn’t realize that as they looked into space they were looking back in time. It is possible they overestimated the importance of this world and mankind’s place in the grand scheme of the universe.

For the 6K theory to be correct “God” had to do one heck of a lot of backfilling; 15 billion years worth, or thereabouts. Background material in the form of billions of galaxies and trillions of stars had to be planted throughout the universe in order for the universe to be discovered by us in the shape it is in today. Four billion years of background and false trails, including fossil records hundreds of millions of years old from creatures no longer on earth today had to be planted around our world. Geological evidence of vast tectonic plate movements and ice ages and meteorite impacts had to be created in order for them to be discovered by us.

So what makes more sense? Let’s look more closely.

On the one hand man has evolved over the last 2 million years within a universe that has been evolving for 15 billion years. Or, mankind started out from within the Garden of Eden with a brand spanking new universe, artfully arranged to look 15 billion years old, just 6000 years ago. According to the Bible God created man. Shortly after God created His perfect universe and plan for it, He realized His first error. He realized Adam would be incomplete without a mate, and to guarantee man would be incomplete forever God took a rib from Adam and created a woman He named Eve. Now this second adjustment to the plan was a real doozy at the time. Apparently God neglected to take into consideration the behavior of His second human creation, Eve, and the havoc she would soon create in the Garden. All we know for sure is that God was so disgusted with the behavior of Adam and Eve He kicked them out of his paradise forever, or at least from the time he caught them seeking knowledge until now.

If you are still on the fence about which theory makes more sense perhaps these ancient words from a philosopher known for his clarity and common sense will help. Occam’s razor states that whenever more than one solution presents itself to a problem the correct solution will inevitably turn out to be the simplest solution. Either we have 15 billion years of evolution that got us to where we are today, or we have 15 billion years of false trails and background story for the 6K theory to be correct. You decide.

The God Particle:A Plethora of Surprise and Delight

Surprise is a light in our brain that goes “on”, and while on connects us to the AH HA moments of discovery which are the true learning exercises throughout our lives. From our earliest moments we delight in discovery provided for us by those common elements in all our lives. Smell, taste, touch, and our senses all develop to accommodate our new environment. I believe one of our first spontaneous reactions to life is to clap our hands in delight at each new discovery; we clap our feet also until toddler age.

As we grow older we gain some sophistication in the “delight” and “surprise” departments. Not all moving objects and pretty colored lights thrill us as much as they once did. We begin to look for more stimulation. We begin to crawl; to expand our universe beyond mom, her breasts, and the crib. This process of surprise and delight should never end. It is one of the things in life that refresh humanity like none other.

But here is what happens.

Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, and all our childhood heroes are introduced into our lives at our most impressionable ages. We learn that the triumph of good over bad means we get more presents. We learn that the reward for pain, the loss of a tooth for example, is compensated for by a coin of the realm. This system of naughty and nice, no pain no gain, and other ways of compelling compliance through award and punishment remain with us for the rest of our lives.

Until we begin to grow up. We finally notice dozens of Santas in malls at Christmas time and bust our moms and dads buying presents and stuffing them under the tree. We lose our naïveté and so begin our lifelong slide into cynicism. We become hip to the game of myth belief and realize we are being played by the very people we trust the most, our parents and our institutions, and we forget that our deception is for a good cause, the betterment of society.

People are incredibly resilient. As Jeff Bridges said in his famous “Starman” movie of the 70s, (sorry for the paraphrase) “you humans are amazing. You are at your best when things are at their worst.” People everywhere are becoming bored. We are tired of war (at least I hope so), we are tired of big business controlling everything that big government doesn’t control, and we need a transformative event. We need some new discovery or invention which revitalizes our imagination as a nation and will unite the world as Buckminster Fuller suggested a half a century ago, and that will encourage a worldwide recognition and appreciation of our life on spaceship Earth.

Well, I think that moment is about to be revealed. We have learned over the last millennia how little we really know about the universe we live in. Today, advances in math and science and astrophysics are solving the riddles of the universe at a ferocious rate. 1500 years ago the concept of our universe was that Earth was in the center and everything revolved around our planet. 500 years ago it was common knowledge that if you sailed too far across the ocean, and reached the edge, you would simply fall off the world. Within the last hundred years we busted up the atom and discovered the true building blocks of the universe, and in just the last year we have discovered proof of the “God” particle.

The Higgs Bosun mystery has been with us for about 50 years. It wasn’t until technology caught up with theory, and engineering caught up with technology, that we were able to produce the equipment necessary to prove the theory. The recent data pouring out of the Large Hadron Collider in CERN may have provided the information necessary for our gigantic computers to crunch out those forces which were present at the birth of our universe.

This information, coupled with the astrological data being provided by the new Hubble telescope, should be enough to tie up the loose ends still remaining concerning the birth of the universe.

Folks, the surprise is that it won’t be long before we are the gods we dream about; unfortunately, that technological advance will not include a corresponding growth in empathy and understanding necessary for the survival of humanity. It may take another couple universe sized evolutions over many more billions of years to straighten out humanity.

If you Google the God particle you may come across this entry:

“My friend and collaborator Ainissa Ramirez, a Yale University materials scientist and TED Talker, likes to call herself a science evangelist and her passion and expertise at science education is unparalleled. So this week, with the announcement about the discovery of the Higgs Boson, was both exciting–because of an amazing opportunity–and frustrating–because she thought the science world largely blew it. Here’s her guest post about this defining moment in the history of modern science.
By Ainissa Ramirez, Yale University

Here’s what you need to know about the God Particle.

The Higgs boson (Higgs is a guy’s name, BTW, and a boson is a particle that’s smaller than an atom) is the biggest scientific discovery of the 21st Century. Period.
This discovery is up there with Copernicus.

If we did not find the Higgs boson, everything that we understood about how the universe works would have been wrong. We would have had nice equations that describe things we observed in the world, but they would have been crap. That would have been $10 billion flushed down the toilet with the creation of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and we would have gone back to the drawing board with our tail between our legs after fifty years of an aimless pursuit.”

Fortunately this does not appear to be the case. Math and science appear to join forces and collaberate when it comes to the birth of our universe. Only religious doctrine seems to be out of phase with new realities.

Parmsplace.com

Victimless Crimes Part II

An interesting reversal fortune has befallen tens of thousands of inmates in jails all across the country. Law enforcement budgets artificially inflated due to 9/11 hysteria have lost their charm a decade later. Reality has finally forced legislators to bring budgets and expenses back in line with revenues.

Paying to house millions of inmates all across the nation at an average cost of close to $50,000 per inmate per year takes on the features of a luxury item in budgets, even in formerly sacrosanct areas where over bloated egos and pompous asses have managed to plunder and waste public funds for decades. When it is their own pensions and insurance policies that are in danger of shrinking or their perks disappearing legislators scramble to ensure proper funding. The first things to go from the budget are the things that never needed to be in the budget in the first place.

So who are the beneficiaries of our budget shortfalls? Actually they are in huge measure inmates accused of or convicted of a group of crimes called “victimless crimes”. These are crimes like pot possession or prostitution. No specific person or property was harmed in any way during the commission of the alleged crime. These are crimes of a moral nature, the definition of which changes frequently over the years. The beneficiaries of an early jail release from our prison system are people who would not have been in jail anywhere in Europe, for example, or in Asia. We are busting the public bank enforcing immature, antiquated moral laws created  by a few moral dictators leading from a pulpit. Laws written to modify (or add a fun tax to)  common social behavior.

Uganda, a tiny little country in Africa, finally got tired of wasting money chasing pot criminals and became the first country in the world to legalize pot for everyone. Now the government is making money regulating the sale of pot in Uganda like we do with liquor in this country . All that red ink is now turning into green ink on their bank and budget balances. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention and in this case innovation. By taking the lead in this area Uganda will be fast tracking its economy and will begin catching up with the world in education and health care in no time.

So are we, as a society, really putting ourselves at  more risk by releasing millions of our people from our prison system? Do we really need to be spending in the neighborhood of $50,000 per person per year rather than release people guilty of victimless crimes back into society? If people have more sex and smoke more dope do I really care? Do you? Do we really need to afford public servants earning $150,000 year in salaries and benefits to sit and watch people in cages all day? Why are our jails filled with cameras if we don’t trust them enough to use them? Are we really this paranoid?

Issues like these need to be brought to the attention of the public. Unfortunately “good” news is “bad” news for networks and newscasters. The fact that crime rates have been on a decade-long decline is seldom mentioned as long as law enforcement basks in the euphoria of 9/11 hysteria. The fact that huge numbers of people recently released were apparently incarcerated for no good reason or benefit to society will continue to go unreported. The reason is obvious. To suggest to the public that we need fewer numbers of policemen, fewer judges and far fewer jailers just seems, well, un-American. This is probably one of the smartest things we could do to be saving money around the country. Unfortunately that would also be un-American.

Parmsplace.com

UA-31270593-1

Every day is a new day.

The Day Begins

Most of us slip into old age without a whisper or a clue. We start forgetting things without being aware of our loss. We lose our keys and misplace our bills. We can’t find our car at Wal-mart without a neon sign pointing the way. We talk about past events which may have happened but would not ring a bell in anyone else’s belfry. Should anyone attempt to align our memories with theirs we defend our memories like a dog with a bone. Somehow being right about everything becomes more important than ever.  Never mind that our our information could be decades out of date.

At some point our hearing begins to lose frequencies. I recall working in a noisy factory when management decided to avoid possible lawsuits by requiring everyone to take a hearing test. Management was attempting to establish a baseline for insurance purposes. Interestingly enough everyone seemed to have hearing losses in the frequency ranges where air tools and high-speed drills operated. Gee, no surprise. In my opinion I could hear perfectly, but after the test I joked that the lost of certain frequencies was an acquired ability developed to filter out the frequencies my exes spoke on. I was concerned about the result nevertheless.

Our eyes go on the blink. At first we can’t see up close as well as we used to. Our arms are just not long enough to achieve focus. We develop squint lines around our eyes and credit them (to ourselves anyway)  to being laugh lines. Finally the indignities begin to occur. We hear a funny joke and during our laughter we sense dampness in our nether regions. Women are accustomed to leakage from the onset of puberty and are well-equipped to handle this situation. Men however, well let’s just say this; we replace our yellowing underwear more frequently.

Next to afflict us seniors, nature seems to attack our reproductive organs. Women develop uterine or breast issues and a high percentage of men experience prostate and erectile dysfunction problems. Some or most of the fun goes out of life at this point.

Our daily diet?

Finally, if we manage to live long enough, we begin to lose our mental acuity and short-term memory. Events occurring decades ago may be as fresh as yesterday’s news, but yesterday is gone completely. This may be the silver lining in a darkening cloud. Peace of mind comes to troubled minds as each new dawn brings a clean plate to the breakfast table.

I am of an age where this subject has a special significance. Death becomes a real possibility for the first time in life. For most of our lives we live without consciously dwelling on our own mortality. We know we will not escape this life alive, but death is on a far distant horizon. It may be visible in every direction but it has left us untouched for the moment.

If we haven’t already been questioning ourselves about who we are or what we have become we do so now. We look at who we say we are and try to match that up to someone else’s point of view. Some people make it to this point in life without having spent a single moment of their lives in serious introspection.

I feel sorry for these people, though, because I believe the worst forfeit anyone can make in life is to fail to recognize who they really are. Most of us are treated like silly putty. We are pressed into a mold from birth and never break out of it. Our ink is readily transferable.

Whether our lives have made a difference to anyone else’s life is irrelevant. If there is a God I believe She could care less. The big question is what your life has meant to you. If you, on your judgment day, can honestly say you did your best, who could ask for more? No God would love his fallen children less than those most gifted and rewarded.

The idea that you have to pass some type of test to get into heaven could not possibly be correct. Simply put, it takes all kinds of people, both in line and across the line, good and bad, weak and strong to make a village. We wouldn’t recognize one without the other. It takes many deaths and much pain to make up the rich tapestry that is the signature of  humanity.

The only thing every human being has in common with another is the gift of life. From the moment of birth forward we all go our separate ways to the grave. I would much prefer to present myself as someone who knew himself, and lived life on his own terms. I would prefer to move on with my eyes wide open; not, as Tom Cruise’s movie suggests, with eyes wide shut.

Parmsplace.com UA-31270593-1

Staring into the face of the future…

And the face that stares back at you is not human! How does this concept grab you?

I looked hard at the possibilities the future could hold for us. Of course there will be medical “miracles” and technological improvements. Nanotechnology will shrink electronics to the point where implants in our eyes, ears, and limbs will enhance our engagement with our world. To the expression “better living through chemistry” we can now add the expression “better living through nanotechnology”.

As a result of our continuous wars, advances in prosthetics are giving people new arms and legs. Some people are now able to compete in downhill skiing and long-distance running on these artificial limbs. Soon the government will probably propose the addition of some magnetic ink in the form of a nanobot inserted somewhere under our skin to keep better track of us.

Developments like man/machine interfaces, growing our own replacement organs, and genetically enhancing our own natural abilities are easy to predict. I go one step further though. I predict the big one, the monumental, astronomical, Google to the nth degree biggie. I predict we discover evidence of other life beyond our immediate solar system. I do concede it is likely we are the only living forms of life circling our sun at the moment.

That may not have always been the case. Mars, for example, being much further from the sun, would have cooled off and turned into a water world as many as 1 billion years before Earth cooled to the point where it could sustain life in its most primitive forms.

The more we learn, the more we realize that life might have begun elsewhere and just landed in our solar system, by accident (or by fate if you prefer) after riding on an asteroid from who knows where.

As science marches forward, Western religions are digging in their heels and, as incredible as it seems, still insisting the universe is only a few thousand years old. In fact, some polls in America indicate that a majority of our citizens believe in the theory of divine creation.

In order to retain these archaic beliefs religion is interfering with politics. Religious leaders are heavily involved in insisting creation be imprinted on our young school-age minds. To accomplish this they seem to have taken control of the content in most school textbooks in use today. Instead of focusing on science, or the future of technology and its impact on civilization, religious leaders attempt to brainwash future generations into irrationally clinging to the past.

This may explain why we’re falling behind the rest of the world in the important disciplines of math and science. It may explain why we have to import thousands of people to work in our high-tech industries. American schools are failing to provide the education necessary to supply the human capital required to fill these types of jobs. This is shameful policy that needs to be corrected before we fall further behind the rest of the planet in these critical areas.

A recent movie release titled, “Paul”, brings us back to the concept that we are not alone in the universe. If you have not yet had a chance to see this movie you should put it on your agenda. The movie points out that if we were the only source of life in the universe it would be the most incredible waste of space imaginable. For those who believe in the “intelligent design” concept this fact alone stands in absolute contradiction to the “intelligent” part of the equation.

After all, what would be intelligent about creating billions of galaxies and trillions of solar systems and then allowing life to exist in just one of them?

To my way of thinking that would be the stupidest design possible and the worst utilization of a brand-new universe imaginable. Surely a “God” would do better.

parmsplace.com

Fair game??

A recent segment on 60 Minutes put a spotlight on an interesting philosophical battle going on between two groups of people supposedly working for the same cause, the conservation of endangered species. The battle is over exotic animals and the battleground is in Texas. On the one side we have 5000 cattle ranchers raising endangered and exotic species. This group, represented by Charly Seale, executive director of the Exotic Wildlife Association of Texas, has been successful at increasing some exotic herds to the point where they are no longer endangered. In the opposite corner, but on the same side of the street supposedly, is the “Friends of Animals”, an international animal rights organization led by Priscilla Feral.

What the argument and seven-year legal battle is about is how these animals are being used by the ranchers. Here is the back story.

Three species of African antelopes were in extreme danger of extinction in their own indigenous countries in Africa. Concerned American ranchers, at their own expense, offered to set aside grazing lands from their own property to try to save these species. They got breeding stock from American zoos, the last safe habitat for these rare animals, and hoped for the best. These ranchers just liked the look of a springbok or African Giselle mingling with their herds of Black Angus.

Long story short, the animals thrived. In fact, some of the animals closest to extinction have come back from the brink in spectacular fashion. They’ve done so well the ranchers have figured out a commercial use for these rare animals. Without these ranchers help the world may have lost some of the most beautiful animals on the planet to extinction in their own home countries. So where is the controversy you ask? Since the goal of conserving many endangered species from extinction has been a resounding success, why would an international animal rights organization be suing the pants off the ranchers doing the conserving?

Well it turns out the problem rests with the word conservation. Over the years the ranchers realized there was a commercial value to raising endangered animals; sport hunting. Rich trophy hunters from all over the globe formally made treks to the African Safari to bag one of these rare animals… until the supply ran out. Now they take their trips and money to Texas. The money they spend, up to $50,000 for a water buffalo, goes to the ranchers who raise these animals and pays for their upkeep and protection. Raising stock for sale is what ranchers do. Instead of raising a cow worth $1000, they are now raising animals worth tens of thousands of dollars. Sounds like kudos go to the ranchers and American capitalism is in good working order!

Not so fast. Remember Priscilla Feral from the international animal rights organization? Her idea of conservation of a species does not include the harvesting of a single one of them. In spite of the fact that these animals may have gone extinct already were not for the intervention of Texas ranchers, she feels using them for sport is wrong; morally, ethically, and legally wrong. The ranchers limit the amount of permits they sell to hunters to 10% of the herds for each of their exotic species, so as to assure a continuing growth in the herd population They use the money they raise for a good cause, rescuing nearly extinct animals from the dustbin of history, but apparently using an animal for a trophy is simply unacceptable regardless of the good it does.

So should American ranchers be allowed to raise exotic animals for profit to preserve a species which would probably go extinct without their intervention? The American government seems to think so. The US Fish and Wildlife Service, a branch of the Department of the Interior, states that “Hunting… provides an economic incentive… for ranchers to continue to breed these species.” Further, they state that “…hunting…reduces the threat of the species’ extinction.”

Nevertheless, it would appear the people suing the ranchers would rather a species go extinct than to see them being used like the cattle they are. They expect the ranchers to discontinue the very program which supports the whole conservation effort rather than to permit the harvesting of a few animals for the good of the herds. The sad part is they may be successful. Absent a reason for breeding these animals, ranchers will most certainly turn to other ways to earn their living. It is too bad that such an action will inevitable put these animals back on the road to extinction.

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