Tag Archives: politics

131. Tech Advances Needed for Survival

8 Dec

I read a wide variety of publications and often find that great technological advances are met with fear and inappropriate limitations. Our planet is rapidly changing by increasing populations and by ignoring important factors like climate change. People are afraid of GMOs, automation, robots, vaccines, DNA innovations, and even medical pills. All of us on Earth are facing very serious problems, and we must rely on reputable science to provide solutions. Below is a brief discussion of three out of the many major issues, which I hope will serve as a stimulus for further research.

GMOs.  I provided detailed info on GMOs in a previous blog (number 87). The simple fact is that nature (without warning us) is constantly changing plant and animal DNA. Evolution selects for survival, not for the human health of a food source. On the other hand, when scientists develop a GMO, we know about it, and it can be tested for health factors. Lets promote GMO evaluation and research, and not abolish them.

CLIMATE CHANGE TECH.  Failure to deal with man-made global warming (see my blogs number 34 and 126) can lead to changes in ocean currents and wind. The consequence will be new patterns of flooding and some normal areas will become deserts. These changes will cause serious hunger problems and horrible mass migrations, unless we deal with these issues in advance. There is research on technology that could reduce the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and there are other tech innovations that can help  us. Let’s encourage and financially support tech and scientific research in this area.

ROBOTS AND AUTOMATION.  Many people (particularly workers) are fearful of advances in this area. Consider this: robots and AI are now used extensively in many industries (e.g. auto manufacture), and unemployment in the USA is way down, and there are no other problems of note. Like any other  tech, robots must be programmed and used carefully. In the future, robots could help shorten working times and improve worker safety. 

CONCLUSION: TWO PATHS.  We have serious choices to make. We can put money and effort into new tech and science, or take the negative path. It is very interesting that some in our current gov do not trust experts in climate changes, but do trust experts in military details and weapons development.  Could it be that climate solutions negatively affect greedy rich manufacturers, while the rich and powerful enjoy better weapons to preserve their enterprises.  

Here is what I think! Any tech innovation has some element of risk, which can be minimized by hiring top experts for evaluations. On the other hand, I think discouraging innovation can be much more dangerous.  Worldwide current thinking, if not corrected, can lead to major wars, starvation, worse mass migrations, and horrible increased poverty. Encouraging science/tech education and support is crucial.

 

 

Advertisements

129. Trump vs Hillary Administration

24 Nov

I often think about how the USA would be different if Hillary Clinton had won the election. Here is my comparison of the real Trump and my speculation about Hillary, based on her extensive experiences: first lady, Senator, Secretary of State, and a successful candidacy for POTUS (won popular vote by 2.7m).

Trump: Because of a questionable history involving fraud (Trump Univ, etc), failure to divest (hotel revenue from foreign leaders), and election irregularities, and other failures, Trump could not hire top cabinet members and advisory personnel. His primary concern had to be loyalty, rather than ability.
Hillary: Her varied experiences and association with Pres. Obama would have enhanced her ability to hire top personnel. There would be no loyalty limitations. She could hire top university professors, top scientists, top officials, top economists, and experts in many areas. Look at Trumps turn-over rate.

Trump: A horrendous record of thousands of lies and extreme exaggerations.
Hillary: No need to lie. She would value a reputation for truth and reliability.

Trump: Efforts to fulfill ridiculous campagne promises, like a South border wall to prevent illegal immigration.
Hillary: Realistic campagne promises that could be worked on during her office.

Trump: Petty name calling and childish conflicts, often with very respectable people.
Hillary: She would treat good people with proper respect, even if they made critical remarks.

Trump: He tried to break up NATO and destroy our valuable relationships with traditional allies.
Hillary: She would have preserved NATO, the UN, and other international organizations. We would have maintained our powerful and helpful, long-term allies.

Trump: No respect from foreign leaders.
Hillary: Her past experience as Sec of State and many other relationships with leaders would have engendered great respect.

Trump: Refuses to respect and believe our intelligence agencies. This promotes distrust by many parties and bad international actions.
Hillary: Always respected the intelligence agencies.

Trump: Makes impulsive decisions, not considering all the implications that are relevant. Example is our trade policies that have resulted in job loss.
Hillary: Trained to make careful decisions based on real gov experience.

Trump: Does not believe human-influenced climate change, that all reputable scientists confirm.
Hillary: Would have promoted responsible actions to avoid climate disasters. She also would have encouraged many energy-saving plans.

Trump: Gave us conservative Supreme Court justices that could undue numerous valuable laws and regulations.
Hillary: Better justices in all courts.

Trump: Withdrew the USA from several important treaties. This makes the US appear unreliable and discourages agreements with other nations.
Hillary: Most existing treaties would be maintained.

Trump: Is influenced by countries such as Russia likely because of financial entanglements. He clearly favored actions by Putin. Also he supported Saudi leader that murdered a Wash-Post associate.
Hillary: No foreign influence. Decisions only made which are for the good of our country.

Trump: Developed a policy of reducing gov regulations. Some of the regulations provided pollution safeguards. People will die from toxins.
Hillary: Would keep all appropriate regulations and would emphasize health.

Trump: Promotes seriously bad immigration policies such as separation of parents and children. He does not care about human suffering. He also moved thousands of troops to the border for only political purposes.
Hillary: Would never make such policies.

Trump: Our various agencies have been gutted and the Secretaries often sabotage the agency traditional goals; example EPA.
Hillary: Just the opposite.

Trump: Promised to drain the swamp but hired extremely rich agency chiefs that have wasted money and misused various funds.
Hillary: Would have hired responsible leaders.

Trump: Inappropriate in dealing with many important situations. For example, he said that bad forest management was responsible for the fires and promoted a ridiculous plan of raking 33 million acres of forest.
Hillary: would have been appropriately concerned and would have provided financial assistance.

Trump: Was tricked by the North Korean leader. He is still working on bombs and inter-continental missiles. Kim raised his international position at our expense.
Hillary: Knew that Kim would not be reliable and would have anticipated his tricks.

Trump: Ignores experts at our gov agencies, like the State Dept. He does not coordinate well which his agency secretaries so that foreign leaders don’t know what to believe.
Hillary: Would have made great use out of experts throughout the gov.

Trump: Press is enemy of the people.
Hillary: Not enemy.

————————–
I could add more, but I think I will stop here. You get the point. Hillary Clinton would have provided responsible and reliable leadership (no short-sighted tweet decisions), would have enhanced respect for the USA, and would have gathered around her the very top-most experts to guide her decisions.

128. China-USA War?

18 Nov

I made a comment to a good TED talk:

Graham Allison (at We the Future) September 2018
“Is war between China and the US inevitable?”  

There is and will continue for a time, a certain type of war between the USA and China. Instead of bombs and guns, the war will be fought with cyber attacks, trade policies, and clever diplomacy. The Chinese leader will be very good at this, but Trump, by himself, will do poorly. Success for the USA will require highly intelligent and knowledgable leaders. Democrats in the House may be able to provide the brilliant leadership required.

A few years ago, the world changed. No major country now wants a violent war. The ambitions of politicians today can be satisfied by more subtle conflicts. (But wouldn’t it be great if nations could be sold on the concept of friendly cooperation.)

Below are two of my recent Tweets (Nov 18, 2018) that are relevant this topic. (There are slight modifications, which could be applied with less space limitations.)

@RichardLeeWB
Trumps negative trade policies and his lack of attendance at important international meetings, will diminish the USA world leadership. As a result, the power of China will increase. China needs to develop more fair trade practices,  but experts agree that the USA must have a strong and large coalition of allies to achieve this goal.
.
@RichardLeeWB
To understand Trumps international trade failures, I recommend reading:  F. Zakaria (WashPost Nov. 15) “What effect does the Trump circus have on the world?” In 1988 President Reagan promoted a  positive trade policy based on strong allies, opposite from Trumps concept of “nationalism” and financial attacks on our friends. The Trump method is failing, causing job loss and a decline in our worldwide leadership.

 

 

 

126. Checklist for Personal and Planet Health

7 Nov

For many years I have been studying (1) human health and (2) planet health. I have a strong scientific background so I can learn and understand the relevant concepts, which are constantly changing. This essay is a summary or checklist of things we must do to improve both 1 and 2. I have combined these two, as they are inter-related. All of us can fail to deal with important factors so I have tried to list those that are easy to forget. Everything listed is like the beginning of a path to further knowledge, which you should to explore. Some of the ideas presented are controversial and possibly imperfect, but all are based on published reputable investigations, and extensive personal experience. (In many areas, consultation with doctors and other experts is advised.)

1. Human Health
a. Pay careful attention to what you eat. As you get older, this will become more important. The availability of healthy foods will depend on planetary health discussed below.
b. Limit consumption of all sugars, sugar substitutes, and simple carbohydrates, which the body can rapidly change to sugar. Briefly, the possible dangers are weight-gain, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, migraine headaches, cognitive ability, aging of organs, energy loss, etc. Simple carbohydrates include bread, cereals, pasta, rice, etc. Processed foods often contain harmful ingredients. The internet provides much info on this subject.
c. Limit or eliminate all dairy products, as these will affect your joints. This includes milk (use almond milk instead), cheese, sour cream, yogurt, etc. There are excellent non-dairy substitutes for these. This is most important for people in their 40’s and beyond.
d. Concentrate on eating vegetables and decrease your intake of meat and fish. Too much animal consumption can lead to gout, acid reflux and other problems.
e. Study vitamin supplements and determine what you need. If your doctor says that vitamins often just run through your body, suggesting non-use, ask him/her if they understand what a “catalyst” is.
f. Drink plenty of water, which is vital for health and energy. Water is a key factor in almost every system of the body. For most people, water makes up most of the body. Don’t forget to keep you eyes moist.
g. Most vegetable fats are good for you, while most animal fats should be limited. Olive and some other oils have many health advantages. Sufficient fiber in foods is important.
h. Remember to exercise and stretch major muscles on a regular basis. This muscle work has a profound affect on many aspects of health, including: stress reduction, emotional control, sleep, proper glucose utilization, weight control, many diseases, accident prevention, etc. Even if you are old like me and have bad knees, there still are ways to get good exercise.
i. Most pains in the skeletal system (arms, legs, back, etc) of the body are fully or partially due to inflamation, which is the collection of certain body fluids that aid in healing. Generally, the best method for most areas is application of ice. Other areas, like the back, for example, benefit most from drugs, like Aleve. Back pain often is best resolved with careful, full stretching. I have written several blogs on this.
j. If you have dry skin, rub on moisterizing and restorative lotions.
k. Make sure everything that your body comes in contact with stays clean to avoid bacterial infections.

2. Planet Health for Humans
Your health and survival actually depend much more on planet health than you might expect. Immediately, we can see some common factors. Clean water and air are important for both. Trees provide conversion of CO2 to Oxygen, which is important for humans. Here is a list of environmental factors to work on.
a. Support laws and efforts to avoid water and air pollution. Under appropriate leadership, I think most manufacturers would agree with this.
b. Discourage the abolition of regulations that improve air and water quality. It is easy for rich people to move to safe areas, but many others can really suffer from various types of pollution. One must study history to be aware of these factors.
c. Burning coal and gasoline for warmth and transportation must be limited. We need solar panels, windmills, etc for energy. Cars must be gradually converted to battery operation. This is already possible, it just needs responsible leadership.
d. We need to plant and save more trees, as humans need the oxygen they provide, and they remove the CO2, which affects global warming.
e. GMO’s (genetic modification of plants) must be promoted, along with relevant safety regulation. The Earth’s population is quickly increasing so we will need more food. (Please see my blog on GMOs.) GMOs will also help with climate change problems as they will require less farm equipment energy. Remember that nature is constantly changing the DNA of animals and plants, without notification to us. On the other hand, if scientists develop a new GMO, it is known and can be tested. Our long-term survival will depend on the innovations of scientists.
f. The Oceans of the world are immense and yet they still need our attention. Large populations of fish have substantially decreased due to over-fishing, and oil spills (and pollution) have had great negative effects. Waste matter is filling the oceans and is damaging sea animals.There are many books and essays on this subject.
g. There are many ways to conserve energy, which will become more and more important as population increases and new tech requires increased energy. In our homes we can use low energy light bulbs, efficient furnaces, good insulation, etc. Our cars, factories, farms, etc must be designed for low energy use.
h. Meat requires much more energy to produce than vegetables (about 25 times as much). Scientists are developing methods of growing meat in the lab using DNA manipulations. Eventually, it will be more energy-efficient and less costly than using cattle. I have no problem with this, but some will object. Actually, humans need only a small amount of animal food for good health.
i. Vegetables can be efficiently grown in vertical structures so that they use less land and can be integrated into cities. Use of “vertical farming” buildings will require much less transportation cost and energy, and people will enjoy extra fresh food.
j. Failure to deal with climate change is already producing more hazards like severe hurricanes, droughts, forest fires, and flooding. Climate change causes alterations in worldwide air and sea currents. This can profoundly affect rainfall, so that some areas with normal rainfall will change to deserts and other areas will get too much rain. This will affect food production and will cause massive migration problems, that will make today’s migrations seem trivial.

3. Conclusion
Our planet will not suffer because scientists and technicians have failed to provide better systems to help with adjustments. It will be greedy, callous, and ignorant politicians that will cause disasters for Planet Earth and its inhabitants. There is enough food, clothing, and shelter, for all, and even some room for moderately rich people. Responsible leaders would be able to deal with all the adaptations that are needed.

125. Emergence of Tyrants; Balancing Competition and Kindness

23 Oct

It is in my nature to want to understand how tyrants emerge from relatively peaceful populations. This is a real issue for our times (2018). The essay below addresses this question. This subject is difficult, political, provocative and controversial. I have tried to present a variety of ideas relevant to this topic. The reader may want to use these ideas together with his/her own experiences and knowledge to form conclusions.

Excessive competition and bullying early in life might lead to greed and corruption in our leaders. Many humans strive to be on top, others settle for a limited comfortable life. Kindness as a way of living, has many social benefits, but you may live in near poverty and may have to settle for things of less value.

Your needs are determined by parental training, teachers, peers, and accidental circumstances. A father may encourage a young boy to fight. “Stand up for your values” or “Hit him back.” A child might join a gang for protection and end up harming others. A child may be bullied in early life and take some type of revenge in later life. And, some children are trained to be peaceful and enjoy education and constructive activities.

Evolution leads men to compete for women that would be best for reproduction and child rearing. It takes ability and strength for good parenthood. The drive of men for the companionship of women can be very powerful. In our society there is a great emphasis on attractiveness and I imagine that in some cases, efforts to “win” a good partner could be exaggerated and lead to corruption and anti-social behavior.

Most advanced male animals fight for the right to mate. This is very clear in horses, gorillas, bighorn sheep, lions, elk, baboons, etc. The competition can be extreme and end in a death, or much milder and consist mostly of threats. The type of competition usually depends on the species.

In many human communities, there is peaceful competition or very little aggression. In some human groups, physical fighting is typical. A few humans have been known to kill for power or the right to pursue a particular women.

Should humans give up fighting sports like boxing and MMA (mixed martial arts)? Regarding the latter, I cannot see a “sport” in punching someone in the face while he (or she) is lying on the ground. I think most citizens would vote against this, but leaders may acquiesce because there is a lot of money in it, and strong proponents. A substantial part of the male population enjoys the fights and can exert a powerful political force.

In Thailand, children as young as five become kickboxers and later (age 6 or 7) viciously fight in the ring, watched by large audiences. An important part of these fights is betting. Most children say they enjoy it and like to help the family with earned money. When the parents of these children are interviewed, they say it is not dangerous, but some children do get brain damage. I have to say, without hesitation, this is just WRONG.

Most sports demand a competitive spirit. I admit that I enjoy watching many sports, even boxing (briefly) on rare occasions. I played a number of sports and at times made a great effort to win. If you cannot demonstrate your skill, you may not be invited to play. We are all controlled by many social factors. In my later life, when unable to play sports, I concentrated more on kindness. But some politicians can continue their desire for dominance in old age.

So we have a dilemma in balancing our love of competition and the negative desperate actions that may be created. In a democracy, competitive politicians emerge that are clever enough to get votes, but may be painfully unskilled at governing. Many citizens may not recognize the promises made by these politicians as unrealistic and almost impossible to implement. Previous behavior is the best indicator of future behavior. We must try to imagine how a candidate will govern, if elected. Studying history and developing methods for determining truth are important.

 

124. The Man Who Would be King

19 Oct

The presidency of Trump has reminded me of a great movie: John Huston’sThe Man Who Would be King.” This 1975 movie starred Sean Connery and Michael Caine. From memory, the stars played the part of two former British soldiers that wandered into primitive Kafiristan around the year 1890 (I estimate). Their plan was to use their guns and knowledge to take over a small primitive country and become “kings.” After many adventures they were able to accomplish their goal. They were considered more than kings: the people worshiped them as gods. Their reign ends when one is wounded and the people see that he bleeds just like the villagers – not a god.

It seems that Trump has fallen into a similar role, and his loyal followers do worship him. They accept everything he says as the truth, no matter how absurd. He changes the details of historical events to support him and his ideas. He re-writes history. Several years ago, I wrote in a blog that this re-writing of history was his most dangerous trait. His revised version of history supports his actions so that he always appears right and people are happy to vote for him.

The big question facing our country is: how can we prove to Trump’s supporters that he is only a skillful con-man? Of course we could get lucky in a few weeks if the House turns Blue with majority Dems. This would slow down harmful legislation and radical conservative appointments. We would be able to convince our long-term allies that we are still with them. I have listed the dangers of Trump in previous blogs.

By the way, I highly recommend this movie to those that have not already seen it. It is a great adventure, with outstanding actors. It contains humor and is also thought-provoking. It also provides an appreciation of the times, places, and the societies.

123. Ford v. Kavanaugh * Revised

19 Sep

(Revisions are in blue)

As I was listening to commentators discussing the alleged sexual assault on Professor Christine B. Ford by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, in high school; I heard statements that I think need clarification. But before I begin, I must emphasize that rape (and attempted rape) is a serious crime, is never justified, and should be severely punished. I think that Prof. Ford should be taken very seriously and given a clear opportunity to make her case. Since I wrote the original, a date was set Monday 9-24-18 (a week later) when both parties could testify.  Dr. Ford has requested an FBI investigation before testifying.

Here are my thoughts about Ford vs. Kavanaugh.

First, the argument that holding back this issue was based on politics is not supported by any facts. Prof. Ford wanted to maintain her anonymity. She decided to come forward when her name was leaked. Also, Sen. Feinstein early on, sent information based on the  Ford letter to the FBI. The FBI confirmed this communication.

It is well-known that lie-detector tests are not 100% reliable, but could be used in conjunction with other evidence in a “hearing” (but not necessarily in a court). Prof. Ford passed a lie-detector test and that fact should be given some consideration.

An FBI investigation may sound like a good idea but could be a waste of taxpayer money. It is extremely unlikely that any physical evidence would be discovered, and testimony after all this time might never be fully trusted. If anyone else has information about this issue, the publicity about it would stimulate a response, if there were willing parties. That may have been that Ford’s original intent.  After further thought, I think it is possible that further testimony could be obtained. 

It is a valid argument that serious errors occurring in high-school should not be given great weight and should not ruin the rest of a person’s life. No “criminal” charges were made at the time. The issues of this controversy are difficult, and I can see both sides, and of course, I sympathize with Prof. Ford’s trauma, then and the death threats now.

Brett Kavanaugh’s friend in the room would have to deny what happened, or else he could be considered an accomplice. So his denial would be expected and not of relevance (not exculpatory). On the other hand, if he jumped on Kavanaugh to help Ford, then he should get some credit.

My tentative conclusion is that, so far, this particular case against Kavanaugh is compelling, but not conclusive.  I feel that there are better reasons, already elucidated in the hearings, for rejecting his appointment to the Supreme Court.

Revision added: Dr. Ford’s request for an FBI investigation supports her claim and the Republican refusal is further support for her. Generally speaking, a person who lies would not want to be questioned by the FBI.

(Revisions are in blue)