The Clone Wars

The Clone Wars on Netflix: http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/70155581

Being an original Star Wars era child, I was of course excited at the prospect of the prequels. I was, like others, totally let down by them. My tune has changed now that I’ve finished the 40+ hours of The Clone Wars on Netflix. They took a bit to get going and there were a handful that weren’t worth watching (Episodes rated on IMDB) , but they improved vastly over six seasons. The storyline and the graphics got better and better. They brought Episodes 2 & 3 together very well. They answered questions and tied up so many of the loose ends. Lucas’ broad strokes tried too hard to deliver too much information in the movies.

Disney cut the series a bit short so you don’t get to see what happens to some characters. Sadly the animated Anakin is much better than live and Episode I still stinks. I maintain hope that these 5 or 6 new movies and The Rebels series keep the story going in the Universe that consumed so much of my childhood…

Finches at Floreana Island, Galapagos

“Seeing this gradation and diversity of structure in one small, intimately related group of birds, one might really fancy that from an original paucity of birds in this archipelago, one species had been taken and modified for different ends”. -Charles Darwin

Wanted to post this on Darwin day, but forgot to… Better late than, well, you know.

My album from the Galapagos Islands

Current cosmological model

20120831-234821.jpg

This picture show the current cosmological model based on a homogenous, isotopic, inflationary (accelerating) universe. You can see the big bang and subsequent rapid expansion and cooling. From there the cooling allows stars, galaxies and clusters to form as the Universe continues to cool and expand. The widening at the throat of the cone shows our current understanding that the Universe is going to expand faster and faster. As it does galaxies will recede away from us faster.

Are you sick of highly paid teachers?

(I found this on Facebook, I have no idea where it originated)

Teachers’ hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or10 months a year! It’s time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do – babysit! We can get that for less than minimum wage.

That’s right. Let’s give them $3.00 an hour and only the hours they worked; not any of that silly planning time, or any time they spend before or after school. That would be $19.50 a day (7:45 to 3:00 PM with 45 min. off for lunch and plan– that equals 6 1/2 hours).

Each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children. Now how many students do they teach in a day…maybe 30? So that’s $19.50 x 30 = $585.00 a day. However, remember they only work 180 days a year!!! I am not going to pay them for any vacations. LET’S SEE…. That’s $585 X 180= $105,300 per year.

What about those special education teachers and the ones with Master’s degrees? Well, we could pay them minimum wage ($7.75), and just to be fair, round it off to $8.00 an hour. That would be $8 X 6 1/2 hours X 30 children X 180 days = $280,800 per year. Wait a minute — there’s something wrong here! There sure is!

The average teacher’s salary (nation wide) is $50,000. $50,000/180 days = $277.77/per day/30 students=$9.25/6.5 hours = $1.42 per hour per student–a very inexpensive baby-sitter and they even EDUCATE your kids!) WHAT A DEAL!!!!

My last words on illegal immigration

Most in “America” have no problem with those who come over the border legally. Most in America have a problem with those that come over illegally. But I have a huge problem with a racial profiling bill written by Russel Pearce who seems to have close allies in the AZ Neo Nazis… How does one tell a legal immigrant from an illegal one? Why single out Hispanics when one out of every six illegals in this country are Caucasian or Asian… Or when an estimated 40,000-50,000 humans are brought to this country against their will to be prostitutes, sweatshop workers or servants (i.e. slaves). This bill is wrong on so many levels… not only because it’s unconstitutional.

There are about 2.5 million Hispanics in AZ (an est 500,000 are illegal), so 1 out of every 3 people in the state. Giving police open license to question anyone they “think” is suspect is wrong. It is an unreasonable search and is protected against in our constitution. Once you are a “legal” citizen, you are protected by the 4th amendment, are you not? What’s next, legal immigrants must show “outward” evidence of their legality? Should they sew patches on their jackets a la stars of David? This sets a dangerous precedent for the future.

Yes, millions of dollars are leaving the country to help their families back home and about one half of one percent of the our tax revenue in the US goes to schools and ER visits just for illegals. BUT, it has been estimated by the Social Security Admin that 3/4 of illegals pay payroll taxes. They add about $7-$10 billion a year into Social Security funds. So, it is even possible that the taxes they pay actually offset the services rendered… Ask yourself this, how does it compare with the BILLIONS spent in Iraq and the HUNDREDS of BILLIONS that leave the country due to corporate (both US and non US) greed and offshore investments? How many BILLIONS are spent on a useless drug war? Illegal immigration is the wrong fight at the wrong time. It pulls us away from the bigger issues in our country and around the world.

I don’t deny there is an immigration problem and that taxpayers pay a cost, but it will never end, even if we made illegal immigration punishable by death. For many illegals the prospect of death is what drives them here… If you’re an illegal immigrant trying to choose between a life of poverty, with no prospect of an education or a job, versus a life of poverty in America with an education and a job, it’s a very simple choice. You would risk deportation, prison or your life to do it.

There really are only two choices, make it easier to become a citizen or help them improve their own countries… To solve illegal immigration you have to give these people a reason to stay home, to believe there isn’t a better life up North. Our money would be better spent helping our neighbors and other illegal immigrants to get education and employment within their own borders.

But then, that’s not what we Americans are about, is it?

I imagine the native Americans felt much the same way when white Europeans flooded into their lands. It is what humans do. We are like a plague on this earth. Ebbing and flowing across borders. Consuming everything in our wake. Frankly I doubt anything will improve until population is controlled. The earth is overpopulated by about 1.5 billion people. 1 in 6 people go hungry every day. Immigrants (legal or not) will be the least of our worries when food and water start to be an issue for 1 in 3 people in 20 or so years.

Losing an old friend

I wrote this after finding out a friend of mine had killed himself. He’d always had problems with life, but I never thought he’d go so far.

For Mike

I wondered what happened to you,
Not having heard anything in a long time.
I searched the net and stumbled across a note
More than a year ago, you passed away.

Instantly I thought about the past,
Images and memories flooding my mind.
I thought of the good things,
more than half a lifetime away.

You were my friend during my brush with death,
and for the years I was depressed.
But you hurt people I cared for and
I let our friendship fail.

There were things I could never tell you.
Things better left unsaid, I thought.
Foolish thoughts of a young mind.
But who was I trying to protect.

Although I avoided you as time wore on.
I heard from you here and there.
Positive notes, rising against your demons,
And boy… you had a bunch.

But you found your way out for a time.
A new family and new career,
I was proud of what you had found
But then silence for many years.

We parted ways so long ago.
What happened in your path I cannot know.
Could I have helped or even tried?
Another of my old friends has died….

Just learned a bit about Erich Fromm… never had philosophy or psych in school. Better late than never…

Don’t know if you’ve heard of Erich Fromm, but his ideas give some insight into why personal freedoms we enjoy in this country may lead to many of the issues we see in our society today (eg TEA party, fundamentalism, etc). Fromm grew up in Germany between the first and second world wars…

He said that freedom can create anxiety from aloneness and our inability to exert individual power. He said we use different unhealthy ways to deal with our perception of freedom: automaton conformity, authoritarianism and destructiveness.

Automaton conformity is when we mimic a larger society (or religion). By acting like everyone else we think we have control thereby making us not feel alone and helpless.

Authoritarianism is when people gain strength from the belief that there is a greater power, leader or belief. By giving up power to the powerful, we become the powerful and no longer feel alone.

Destructiveness, is an attempt to destroy those we perceive as having the power. Actions (often hurtful, socially unacceptable, sexist, racist,etc) are rationalized through a sense of duty to god or country or leader.

Fromm believed that real power came from individuality and freedom and we should embrace our selves and we should do what we want to do… But that’s not the society we live in…