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Global Climate Change and the Future of the Domesticated Turkey

pollutionThere’s an old wives’ tale that turkeys are so stupid that when it rains, they’ll look up in fascination with their mouths open and drown. Much to the dismay of old wives everywhere, this is false. The turkey has been given a bad rap in the folk tale channel. The truth is the domesticated turkey isn’t the brightest bird in the barnyard, but it’s not that stupid. You’ve never seen one watching Fox News have you? Case closed.

Unlike the turkey, other animals have been awarded a falsely elevated status where it comes to intelligence. It’s unfair, but once rumor turns into avalanche, there’s just no stopping it. There is no question in my mind that the single animal with the most overrated brain is your common, run-of-the-mill, garden variety homo sapien. Mankind has spent much of its history trying to exterminate itself. If it hasn’t been through warfare, it has been through soiling its own nest. A common house cat has the innate smarts to use kitty-litter and bury its waste. Mankind’s not that smart. The fact is the species isn’t bright enough to save itself.

Looking for evidence for my claim that humans are grossly overrated in the intelligence department? This one seems to be incontrovertible – there are still people who don’t believe we have a serious problem with global climate change. As a scientist, I find this beyond stunning. It amounts to an indictment of the human mental machinery that is without defense. The mere fact that there remains one person on the planet who hasn’t spent the past quarter century living in a cave in Borneo that doesn’t have at least some grasp of the problem proves, “Mankind is too dumb to save himself from his own self-induced calamity.”

The scientific evidence keeps piling up and up and up. But even if someone’s not “scientifically inclined”, how sharp does he have to be to conclude that if a half dozen kids spend an afternoon in a swimming pool, there’s a good chance there’s an element of “pollution” in the mix? With the obvious in every corner, there are those who still cite the claims of their preachers and Foxite talking heads to deny the phenomena exists.

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A Brief History of the Future – The Return of Sherpa

With totally false humility, I confess I’ve had some complaints recently. Some people actually miss the misguided, unsupported, unsubstantiatable, reckless, feckless and fiction like missives on politics, philosophy and the human condition for which 54 Candles had come to be known. I stopped writing my regular diatribe after being confronted with the unpleasant reality that the human animal is too dumb to save itself from its own destructive behavior. I mean look at the Tea Party. Here’s a large group of proudly undereducated people who brazenly showcase their collective inability to analyze the facts and make intelligent decisions about the “big picture”.

After the successful publication of my recent book (The Man on the Bench), I began writing another about true accounts of life’s most embarrassing moments. I thought it might be interesting to publish a few of those vignettes here and maybe periodically continue to do so. However, it dawned on me that the Tea Partiers and other fringe members of prescient society provide a nearly endless sequence of moments that should be embarrassing. Sarah Palin is a perpetual embarrassment to thinking Americans everywhere. Glenn Beck amazes me as the foppish fool whose ability to withstand embarrassing moments with a straight face is legend. No doubt the pain of making an intellectual ass of himself is numbed by the Novocain of colossal piles of money heaped upon him by those who use him to entice unsuspecting Americans into their webs of deceit.

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On the Importance of Underwear

When Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt called it “a date which will live in infamy.” Little did he know that shortly before that day, another day passed that would live in infamy. And just between the two of us, I’ll forget Pearl Harbor long before I will forget that day.

Life in the waning years of the Great Depression was hard. When my father died in 1938, it became brutally difficult for a young widow trying to raise four young girls in the remote mountains of Arizona. My mother got a job cooking in a local diner for next to nothing. It wasn’t the secret to building wealth; it was the formula for just hanging on.

She was giving it everything she had, but her four girls had to help. We had to learn how to split wood, clean, cook, help with the laundry, ironing, washing and drying the dishes, pulling weeds and working in the garden. Continue reading

COMING NOW! – A new direction for 54 Candles.

Yes – I confess. I’m ready to surrender. I have long feared that the human animal is grossly overrated. After watching recent events, I am convinced humanity is collectively too dumb to save itself. Like the turkey that looks to the sky in a rain storm and drowns itself, mankind is steadily marching forward to its own demise. (Unlike the false legend of the turkey doing this, mankind truly is relentlessly marching off the cliff.)

With the pervasive racism of small minded bigots like Russell Pearce in Arizona (S.B. 1070 fame) and Sheriff Joe, what hope can there be for taking civilization (I use the term loosely) to a higher plateau? When a significant percentage of the American populace believes evolution is a myth, how bright can we be? Those who deny the significance of global climate change are allowed to breed. We have a government owned and operated by corporations who have become “people” in our society. Right wing tea baggers are up in arms in support of extending tax benefits for the rich they will never know at their own expense. And worst of all, there are actually people walking unattended amongst us that believe Sarah Palin has a brain and a sound moral character.

I could go on, but you get the point. The human animal has survived on this planet in spite of itself and for far less time than the shark and the cockroach. It is an ego driven plague upon itself and its days are limited. Why fret? I’m going to sit back and watch the show. It’s sort of the global version of the events on Easter Island where the natives consumed themselves with greed.

This isn’t to say the 54 Candles blog is going away. It’s merely putting on a different face, a more human face. As a member of this human race, I’m constantly entertained by its foibles. Our egos drive us into to some pretty amazing circumstances. Unlike those enumerated above, some are relatively harmless and provide great insights into those common attributes of being human that tie us all together. I’m planning on bringing some of those stories forward.

With the completion of my recent book, The Man on the Bench, I’m putting together the beginning of another book. At this time, it is untitled, unstructured and unwritten. However, here’s the plan. All of us have been embarrassed in our lifetimes. It’s part of the human condition. No matter how powerful, important and self absorbed a person may be, he or she has stepped in it. Therein lies the beginning of the next book.

I hope to document vignettes of life’s most embarrassing moments. We’ve all had them. Each short story will be true. In most cases, it will be funny in retrospect. And it will be human. As the stories are created, I will post them to this site. If all goes well, I will put them together and publish them.

But to succeed, I will need your help. I’m asking that you share your most embarrassing stories. You can send them to me anonymously or otherwise. If you want me to use a different name to protect your identify when I rewrite the story, just let me know. You’ve got the stories. I want them. You don’t have to write them in flowery, eloquent prose; just scribble them and send them on. It will be fun for all. It’s your chance to be published albeit vicariously.

There you have it. No more rants, tirades and polemics. (Well, maybe once in a great while.) Just little bits of humanity. When we look at life, we can cry or we can laugh. Let’s take the most enjoyable path. Let’s laugh.

Book’s Progress

I’m please to report that book sales for “The Man on the Bench” are brisk and exceeding expectations. In part, I thank some great publicity from media like The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Pennisula Beacon, NPR and KPBS, and Channel Six in San Diego. Thanks to all. Keep spreading the word.

View the most recent TV show by clicking here.

The Man on the Bench

Feel free to view this as a self serving missive about my new book. The reason being – this is a self serving missive about my new book. The Man on the Bench is available from Barnes and Noble and Amazon. It’s already getting good reviews so why not sing about it?

Nearly a year ago, I wrote a piece about the death of a homeless, mentally ill man that became a good friend. When I wrote it, I knew my friend’s first name, but not his last. I decided to try and find his family and learn more about his past. The book chronicles the amazing story of Jeffrey Pastorino, the man we called the Mayor of Point Loma.

He sat on a bench for nearly twenty years. People thought he was crazy and by many standards, he was. But after discovering his past and the events that brought him to that bench, I began to wonder who was truly crazy. The path of that discovery turned out to be the basis for this amazing story. The life of this unlikely man serves as a beacon for all of mankind when it comes to dealing with our insecurities and shortcomings. For in the final analysis, we all spend at least a little time sitting on the bench. Learn more at www.54Candles.org.

The Value of Faith?

A Google quote-of-the-day caught my eye this morning. It amounted to a backhanded slap to the arrogance of humanity. After all, we’re all so damned important or so we think.

The greatest mystery is not that we have been flung at random between the profusion of matter and of the stars, but that within this prison we can draw from ourselves images powerful enough to deny our nothingness.

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Obama and the Great British Petroleum Scandal

Damn Harry Truman! Harry was President when I was born. And here I am a mere 5’8” in height. Truman could have done something, maybe sent in the government to insist the hospital staff do something to accelerate bone growth. My basketball career was done before it ever got started thanks to Harry T. What is government for if not to help citizens like me? Hey, Harry – I thought you said the buck stops with you.

By the mid-fifties, I was playing hockey on the frozen ponds of Michigan. Hockey sticks weren’t cheap and I ended up breaking my share. Where the hell was Ike when this was going on? Those diabolical Canadians were obviously selling cheap “Northland” hockey sticks to the kids in the U.S. to keep them from becoming a hockey power. The proof can be seen in the results of the recent Winter Olympics where Canada beat the Americans by a goal. The whole time this was going on Ike was visibly absent. He could have stepped in, but he didn’t. And there you have it – we lost the gold.

In the sixties, I was at the lake when a freak storm blew over a tree which knocked over a power pole which sent a big electric transformer crashing through the roof of our neighbor’s house. There was only one way off the island with its five houses and the fire that burned in one of them blocked access to the bridge. We were trapped. No one came to the rescue for over three hours. Where was Lyndon Johnson as this was going on? Why didn’t he have an emergency backup plan ready to go? Wasn’t his job to anticipate such problems and deal with them when and if necessary? He fell down on the job. That’s probably why he didn’t run for another term. The incompetent bastard!

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The Absence of Allen Sherpa – A Visit to the Tribal Areas

Everyone has at some point heard references to the “tribal areas” of northern Afghanistan and Pakistan, but few grasp the significance of the term. Our perceptions are colored by the books we’ve read, Hollywood movies we’ve seen and the pseudo-news coverage to which we’ve been exposed. They’re painted as dark areas where bandits lurk in the shadows that would exist if the sun ever shined. The people are sinister, uneducated and clannish. They view all outsiders with suspicion and distain. They know little about the outside world other than that it is bad and its influence should be resisted when its extermination isn’t possible. As our efforts in Afghanistan continue to meet with great frustration, I wanted to know more about the tribal areas in the hope of getting a better understanding of the “big picture”.

Upon my arrival in the tribal area, I found much of the stereotype justified. It was almost like a walk back in time. The levels of civilization varied substantially. It was obvious there was some wealth, but it was clearly concentrated in the hands of a very few. Most of the “houses” were more basic than those to which I am accustomed. Some had electricity, intermittent as it may have been, but some did not. Plumbing (with the exception of sewer) was common, but not taken for granted. The lucky ones had firewood piled high. Others had to forage for wood on an “as needed” basis when the severe winter cold made it a matter of survival.

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The Arizona Republic Takes a Stand!

I came to Arizona this week to participate in the big May Day celebration at the State Capitol. I wanted to show my vehement opposition to the short sighted, self defeating and yes, racist legislation recently signed by Arizona’s bimbo-in-chief, governor Jan Brewer. I wanted to be present for the demonstration both personally and financially. You can interpret my opposition to the bill not as much as support for the Hispanic community, but a defense of something I hold dear, the U.S. Constitution. For those of you that have read it, you may remember references to lofty concepts such as a guarantee to “equal protection under the law” and the prohibition against “unreasonable search and seizure.” You might even remember them as the 14th and the 4th Amendments to the Constitution.

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