May 27, 2014

20,000 Views Later....

In honor of a pretty nifty milestone - 20,000 blog views - I opened myself up to a random topic, and my old friend Yann SoitiƱo challenged me to do an appropriate tribute to Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Fact is, that old book really had a profound effect on me, and it warrants a tribute.

I was first introduced to the novel by Walt Disney. I can't remember if I was on the ride at Disneyland first or
if I was watching the movie on Sunday night's Disney show, but I remember they were both well before Star Wars. Though the idea of being fascinated by the stars and the universe and dinosaurs were all part of my childhood realms of imagination, this movie was the first step. It was just like going to the moon, I thought, by dropping below the depths of the seas and exploring terrain no man had seen, facing unimaginable terrors and the subtle political and social themes present in the book - though they were lost on me in my initial exposures - as well as the overall epic scope.... come on, giant squids!

So here are a few things that maybe you weren't aware of - things I always found to be pretty interesting.

First, did you know how far a league is? Well, in this book they use the metric league, which is about 4 kilometers. 20,000 leagues is several times the diameter of the earth. I say this just to clarify that the title of the book is not referring to how far down the Nautilus went, but how far it went. Captain Nemo, in his desperation to remain undiscovered by the evil political constructs of mankind, was resolved to remain underwater, far below the reach of the nations of the world. Thus, 20,000 Leagues refers to the resolve of Captain Nemo, and the journey he took his crew and captives on, until his mad quest for vengeance eventually led to what we are left to believe might have been his death.

Second - his book contains many allegories against the plight of the common man ("No Man" = "Nemo") against the abusive might and crush of commercial industrialism. The Nautilus was described as a personal construct and design, with the octopus being a commonly used symbol for industry and revolution. Considering the way industry runs the world even now.... it still strikes a punch.

See, this is why it's a good book - - hundred+ years later, it's still interesting; still relevant.

Thank you again, Jules. Among the other books you penned, this still remains my favorite. In fact, I think I'll go give it another read. Been a while since I visited Atlantis. ;)

May 26, 2014


The word that is sticking in my head today is "independence." I know that the actual USA "Independence Day" isn't for another month and a half, but thinking about Memorial Day made me think about how many soldiers have fought for the idea of freedom from tyranny. "Freedom isn't free" - I keep seeing that slogan all over Facebook today, and I agree. Sometimes, you have to make the difficult choices when faced with something that goes against your moral core. Sometimes, that choice means being willing to risk losing something that matters to you - sometimes, that is a very scary choice to make. At least, I used to think that. Then you find yourself in the middle of the decision and recognize that it's always been clear what you should do.
So many people have died for this country. Died. It's a sobering thought. Many of them wore uniforms, held weapons to defend or attack their enemies. Our nation was founded on the principle of being prepared to defend this nation at all costs, from any enemy, without or within.
This Memorial Day also makes me think of all the people who have died in this country who were not soldiers. Who were not in uniform, who were not on the front lines in some other country, who were not holding weapons. Some of these lives were taken by foreign extremists. Many were taken by domestic extremists. People who believed that their philosophies, their rage, their hostility justified the taking of other human lives.
I think about those people as well. And I wonder how long we - all of us, this whole human race - will allow all this senselessness to go on.
If you'd like a rhetorical question, to help wind this whole statement up, then how about this:
What could we, as a world, accomplish, if we had one full year without violence? Working together, for the benefit of us all? What might we do?

May 8, 2014

Global Harming

Thought I'd take a bit of a thematic departure today and discuss something I keep seeing, reading, hearing about and I'm really close to getting a concussion from all the times I strike my head against the wall.

I see two political camps debating - stop laughing, I know I used the word "debating", in spite of the fact that the conversations rarely could be logically categorized as such - the premise of "Global Warming", or "Climate Change", or whatever term is being used to describe the status of our world as being globally climatically changed.

The debate rages - it's been going on for a good hundred+ years, in fact, and though the facts themselves have only clarified the causative link between our actions as industrious human beings and the gradual disintegration of our viable biosphere on this, our only currently known and accessible habitable planet. And this back and forth conversation has fallen into a pattern. See if this sounds familiar:

1. Scientists present facts: X is happening, Y is probably the cause.
2. Other interested parties (and if you go far enough, it's the people who make money from X) say "oh, pshaw. Your theories are bad because Z."
3. Scientists return to their science, come out with a better definition of Y.
4. Return to step 1.

Sometimes, this process results in a different name for X. Sometimes the clarification of Y gives us a better understanding of our world. Every single time, Z has no scientific basis, and is only the equivalent of "la la la! I'm not listening!"

Often, the Z pretense is a distraction, such as trying to make jokes about the term "global warming" as a way to oversimplify into falsehood the entire concept of X in the first place. Then, the scientists have to waste their time just coming up with a new term for X that people won't just decry out of hand.

Look, people, science can be hard facts. Sometimes you don't want to hear it. But the Sun does not revolve around the Earth, and life did evolve, and the universe is a big big place, filled with potential and wonder.

Let's look at the basic premise behind Climate Change. It's warning that our use and dependence upon fossil fuels, our drilling into the earth's crust, our pollution of the seas and waterways and soil - all these things are contributing to the destruction of our planet.

People who argue against this premise - I'm going to give you a simple challenge. If you pull your car into your garage, close the door and run the engine, what's going to happen? And now, multiply that times the BILLIONS of cars, trucks, buses, boats and other engines that use that same fossil fuel source for their combustion. And where do you suppose all those toxic fumes are going?

But I can see that some people still don't want to believe it. They still want to argue the facts. So here's another concept to chew upon.

We have the technology to convert our engines to clean burning processes. We have the ability to use solar, hydroelectric, wind power, and we have even newer technologies that go even further. We have these abilities to use technology in a way to generate energy that will NOT CREATE ANY POISONOUS FUMES AT ALL.

Let's pretend that all these "global warming" and "climate change" scientists are possibly wrong. Let's suggest that they have only a 75% chance of being accurate. No, let's go 50%. 25%. Let's go crazy and suggest that there's only a 1% chance their theories are right.

I have a daughter. One day, she might have children, and they might have children and so forth. If there's a 1% chance that they won't - because we failed to change one stupid thing that we knew there was a chance might KILL US ALL and did nothing about it.....

Think about this. If you're one of the people who clings tenaciously to the FALSE CLAIM that our dependence on fossil fuels, coal, and all the other unclean and non-renewable energies are NOT slowly killing us and our planet.... just think. If there was a 1 percent chance that you were wrong, and that this falsehood could result in the death of our entire planet.... WHY WOULD YOU NOT TAKE THE CHANCE THAT YOU MIGHT BE WRONG??

What is there to lose by changing this? Why not risk these petroleum companies and their chance of making their quarterly bonuses in favor of SAVING LIFE ON THIS PLANET?

Our great-great-great grandchildren won't care who those CEOs are.

At least, I pray they'll be alive so that they won't.

Stop arguing the wrong things. Start making the changes. Change what needs to be changed. Save this world. It's the only one we have.