Saving Face in Ukraine

I think that Biden and his team are smart enough to understand that Vladimir Putin needs a war like he needs a hole in his head. But Putin’s saber rattling works with some of his supporters. So they will, I believe, find a way for Putin to pull back but save face. Putin needs to look tough with his people and we know that. Give him an out. Let this slowly dissolve and the attention span of the modern internet world will quickly forget.

Update February 27, boy howdy was I wrong. I honestly believed he’d never attack and yet he did. Biggest mistake of that man’s life. What a fool.

We’ll start the new year off with a bit of science.

Floating Houses

Not like houseboats, but houses that are moored to the bottom of the sea that then glide “up and down their steel foundational poles with the movements of the waters below.” Movements that, of course, create energy. These homes float but are also “weighted by basins filled with recycled, water-resistant concrete…” to give them some heft on the sea, and they note that “Heavy pieces such as pianos are counterweighted with bricks on the opposite side of the house.” I wouldn’t have thought of that until they rolled the piano into the living room. 

Our oceans WILL rise and our coasts WILL flood, no matter what we do now, so thinking in terms of taking advantage of the changes that we will have to cope with in the coming decades, is exactly how we should all be thinking. 

Cognitive Issues Decline in U.S.

“From 2008 to 2017, the percentage of adults ages 65 and older in the U.S. with serious cognitive issues dropped from 12.2% to 10%…” This was from a Canadian Study that if accurate would have saved about 1.1 million people in the US from the ravages of dementia. My father had Lewy Body, a form of Alzheimers. It’s awful, awful stuff. This is good news and let’s hope it holds up with additional studies and continues in that direction. 

My parents smoked and drank quite a bit for most of their lives. Let us hope that didn’t have anything to do with it. I’d be screwed. 

More seriously, this is a beautiful piece of writing about an aging mind.

Synthetic Biology

What is it? Not much, just “a transformational technology to feed the planet, conquer disease and combat pollution.” Nothing to see here. What? Here’s how they describe it. “Biological information is coded in DNA, so it can be programmed – with the goal of redesigning organisms for useful purposes.” And if that don’t send a chill up your spine, you might want to read it again. 

They say that synthetic biology “holds the promise of reprogramming biology to be more powerful and then mass-producing the turbocharged cells to increase food production, fight disease, generate energy, purify water and devour carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.” They say it will grow exponentially, similar to computing power over the past decades. See. It’s not all “redesigning organisms for useful purposes,” in fact, “the potential is for civilization-scale flourishing, [That’s Drew Endy, “an evangelist” for synthetic biology and a professor of bioengineering at Stanford University] a world of abundance not scarcity, supporting a growing global population without destroying the planet.” 

In fact, the revolution is already here: “…the DEKALB seed business … is creating nitrogen-fixing microbes to apply to seeds, potentially reducing the use of chemical fertilizer.” And even better: “Cronos, a Canadian company, is using synthetic biology to develop cannabis edibles.” Seriously; that’s what it said.

Yoho’s got a new hole

Congressman Ted Yoho, “proudly serving Florida,” is obviously one troubled man-child. You’ve probably heard the story that this old fool accosted Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a first-term Democrat from New York, also known as AOC. This young woman is quite brilliant, fiercely dedicated to her constituents, a true believer in justice and fairness, no matter how much you agree or disagree with her opinions. Not sure what Yoho brings to the table, but it appears to be not much of anything good.

Yoho, like a pimply eighth grade bully, came after Ms. Ocasio-Cortez ON THE STEPS OF THE CAPITOL, and among many other things, called her a “fucking bitch.” Think about that. An old guy congressman accosted a fellow congresswoman on the steps of the capitol. If she were my daughter, Mr. Yoho would be in the hospital right now.

However, that is not the case and in fact Ms. Ocasio-Cortez herself performed surgery on Yoho with one of the most well-spoken pleas, not for any additional apologies (Yoho tried that and fell squarely on his fat head with the most pathetic “apology” – or non-apology – ever given), but instead a plea that this sort of behavior needs to stop for ALL WOMEN. It’s an amazing speech and if I were Yoho I’d resign now. These guys are dinosaurs and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and all the young people who are growing up to respect one another are the meteor that will end their time here on earth.

Watch it here:

Yoho’s got a new hole.

The Dubstep Show

Okay, so the dubstep show. That was trippy. And I wasn’t even tripping. I had no idea that happened. Picture these young folk with an array of colorful, brightly lit baubles and bangles, hula hoops and hats, glowballs and whatnot, much of which they swung around in slow sometimes erratic orbits in an otherwise mostly dark room.

They wore big furry bear hats, and sometimes that was about it. They wore footy pajamas with hoods. They even wore beaded masks. I’m not sure what that was all about but it was rather disconcerting mostly because it must be complicated to breathe, let alone drink. And they had gloves with lighted fingertips that they wiggled around in front of other dubsteppers faces like some crazed magician.

The deejays pounded out music with their fists in the air. I couldn’t tell exactly what else they were doing up there. A lot of dancing and then stopping to work on something on a table in front of them. But the music pounded the people and the people jumped up and down ecstatically. The ones toward the back, the really trippy ones, mostly just spun around in circles – often well-lit as well.

But it was cool! Kind of Build-A-Bear meets Cabaret Voltaire cool, but cool like that! I wanna go again – and be almost the oldest guy there. There was an elderly gentleman in a straw hat with a handful of glow stick bracelets on each wrist. He rocked back and forth in the middle of the crowd. I was proud.

Nice Windows

So there’s quite the kerfuffle about Pope Francis bagging a bit on the childless couples who act like their dogs and/or cats are even remotely decent substitutes. And I get that that is maybe a bit old school Catholic style. But I’m right there with him! I’m so tired of my childless friends talking about this new restaurant or that great band they saw. Screw that! How about you procreate – as we were all meant to do! That’s the only reason why you’re on this earth – the only real reason! Everything else is window dressing! That pottery you do? Whatever. The music you make? Fun, but ultimately pointless. All those great art shows? You wouldn’t miss them if you never saw them.

And yet the rest of us – the beaten and down-trodden who carry the future of the world on our shoulders and our credit cards – double-down, the women go through the amazing sacrifice of giving birth and the two of us (hopefully) feel the tectonic shift beneath our feet and realize that one now true truth: It’s no longer about me any more, it’s all about you. I live for someone else.

And you with your hip concerts and surprise trips to Costa Rica! You with your spotless houses and planned dinners! You with your facebook posts about all the kidless fun you’re having! You!

Have you ever cupped your hands to catch the puke of a little girl? Realized long after changing a diaper that you had poop beneath your fingernail? Have you ever listened to the banal goings on of a six-year-old orator on a car trip for 2.75 hours? NO, YOU HAVE NOT! And even if you have you could leave the little pains in the ass behind when you head home to your great new awesome HBO series binge-a-thon!

Yeah, I’m jealous. Really jealous. You got it made. I’m screwed. But you got to admit I got it right with the whole evolution thing. Crap out kids – the genetic coupling, halving yourself. Passing on the genes. Only the strong survive. That’s the only real reason we’re here. The rest is window dressing.

But I got to admit that your windows look awesome, god damn it.

06.17.14

Happy Birthday, Dad. You’d be 83. I graduated in 82 – not sure there’s a connection there, but I like numbers so I see something obliquely significant. The universe works on numbers – physics – so maybe that’s where we need to look to look beyond our insignificance.

83 years on this planet has to be a win. I know it is as a dedicated Sunday obituary reader. I see the numbers – the ages – the multitudes in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and now 90s, so I know that lasting into the land of the octogenarian is a win.

A win for you and a win for all of us. To love someone and then have them for so long is exactly what we live for. Early deaths are tears in our lives, our families and our psyches. They serve a purpose – they remind us of the fragility of it all, but they rip at our souls. Old deaths show purpose. They remind us of the reasons we fight to stay alive – not only for us but for the people we love, and more importantly, who love us.

We loved you – love you, but the distinction is profound. I’ve yet to pick up your ashes. I know they’re perfectly safe where they are and I really don’t know what on earth to do with them, despite our plans to do something earthly with them.

I’ll never forget the births of my children. That’s about as profound a moment as you can experience. Everything about me dissipated. It was now entirely about them. All selfish desires went from life to just plain selfish. But then again, it is about me and how I live my life for them. You did that for me. You lived your life to make certain we were provided for. Not that you didn’t live your life for you, you did! But underlying whatever you did was the knowledge that you had us and would provide for us and then make certain we lived our own lives.

Well done, old man! Happy Birthday! Your birth led to mine and your mind made certain I lived a good life. I am working – struggling – to do the same for my kids. It’s a struggle, you know/knew that. But it’s worth it. For living for yourself is one thing, living for others is a multitude of things.