Featured
Coronavirus Pandemic

Coronavirus Pandemic

Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.

Do the five.

Big Questions

How is the U.S. economy going to recover from this disaster? Are we caught in a looming moral disaster trying to balance the number of lives lost against damage to the economy?

When can America go back to work?

Brave guys wearing sharp ties.

Thou Shalt Go Back to Work: Does Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick know what the f**k he’s talking about when he says he is willing to die from coronavirus in order to go back to work now and help save America’s economy for his grand-kids? He subscribes to the evangelical christian gospel of “growth and prosperity” which says “thou shalt not sacrifice a quarter or two of gross domestic product to save tens of thousands of lives.” What a brave guy he is, always looking so sharp in his yellow power ties. If Patrick were to contract a coronavirus and die, in the process he would infect his family and become the source of the virus that might kill one of his grandchildren. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, are you willing to pay that price? Did you ask your kids and grand-kids if they are willing to pay that price? Of course we all have to go back to work sometime and want to go back to work, but the tough question is, when is the right time for the greater good? Should this be decided unilaterally by one man? — sp

Are we ready for medical rationing and its unintended consequences?

Does authoritarianism actually help in a crisis, or is the more important requirement how much the people trust their leaders?

  • institute uniform social-distancing and quarantine policies
  • ramp up testing and produce faster-acting test kits at scale
  • prioritize testing of health workers
  • allocate masks and ventilators to stop states’ competing
  • simultaneously fast track development of
    • rapid trials to race for a vaccine, and
    • multiple production plants for each vaccine.

Big Picture

Big Picture / Human Life / Human Diseases / Coronavirus

COVID-19 Photo Chronology

Poems

And the People Stayed Home
by Kitty O'Meara

And the people stayed home. 
And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, 
and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, 
and were still. 

And listened more deeply. 
Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. 
Some met their shadows.
And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed. 
And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, 
mindless, and heartless ways, 
the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, 
and the people joined together again, 
they grieved their losses, 
and made new choices, 
and dreamed new images, 
and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, 
as they had been healed.

Pandemic
by Lynn Ungar

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath —
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.

And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love —
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

Books & Movies

         

Featured
Untrustworthy Hall of Shame

Untrustworthy Hall of Shame

Big Picture / Human Society / Law / Untrustworthy Hall of Shame

A fish rots from the head down.

Just because someone claims it to be true, does not make it true.

Big Questions

Are Trump and Barr undermining the integrity of the Justice Department?

Is the normalization of redaction creating a fog of secrecy that obstructs democratic vigilance, accountability, and justice?

Should Russia be banned from all global sport including 2020 Olympics and 2022 World Cup for planting fake evidence and deleted files linked to positive doping tests?

Is Boeing being made fully accountable for its actions?

What is the greater risk to our democracy: That our adversaries lie to us? Or that our own government, politicians, and corporations lie to us?

What can/should Congress do when Trump appointees defy it?

Hall of Shame

Banks: Collusion by Nomi Prins

Corporations, CEOs, Boards: NRA, United Airlines, Volkswagen, Massey Energy, fake it ‘til you make it: The Inventor

Courts, Justices, Attorneys: justice department: William Barr | crooked lawyer: Michael Avenatti | obstruction: Matthew Whitaker | West Virginia

Banks: massive corruption: Australian Banks, money laundering: Deutsche Bank, Wells Fargo

Data Privacy: Facebook and Cambridge Analytica

Despots: greed: The Despot’s Guide to Wealth Management Sharman

Education: Secretary DOE: Betsy DeVos

Entertainment: Seaworld: Blackfish | sexual harassment: Bill Cosby, Louis C. K., Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein

Immigration: separation & abuse: Immigrant Children

Legal Profession: sexual harassment: Alan Dershowitz, Brett Kavanaugh

Media: extortion: American Media/National Inquirer | evangelical extremism: Sinclair Broadcasting

Oil & Gas Industry: climate change disinformation, oil & gas extractors: Blowout Maddow

Pay-to-Play: largest admissions scandal in history | The Price of Admission Golden | anything for a profit: Heineken in Africa van Beemen 

Pharmaceutical Industry: opioid addiction conspiracy: Sackler Family, Purdue Pharma

Politics:

Ponzi: Bernie Madoff

Religion: (not) holier than thou, 20 years, 700 victims: Southern Baptist Convention | Catholic church: Australian cardinal George Pell, Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, Pennsylvania, Spotlight

Schools: child abuse: The Quiet Rooms, St. George’s School, Boy Scouts of America

Sports & Athletes: cheating: Astros | sexual harassment: Larry Nassar/MSU/Olympics | doping: Russian Olympic Athletes | corruption: FIFA

Trump: list of dismissals and resignations: Trump Administration, Russia: The Apprentice Miller

Social Parasites

Religion, sports, corporations, police, and the military are massive global communities that attract people who want to do good to make a difference in the world. But because they are so huge and complex, they also attract a percentage of impostors with bad intentions who infiltrate and hide within these professions to silently and secretly pursue evil and wreak havoc.

Like parasites, they hide inside their host. Their leverage is magnified by many times because they operate in an environment of trust which enables them to ambush kids and adults they are sworn to serve and protect.

This is a dark corner of human nature that will be very difficult to stamp out. Some priests and ministers will molest children; some cops will occasionally kill people on the street; some soldiers will rape the women of their enemies.

Our only hope is to be constantly vigilant and never give up on the ideal of giving every woman, man, and child a chance to grow up in a safe and loving environment without abuse, without violence, without trauma, so that we stop replanting over and over the seeds of evil that may someday sprout again.

sp

Books & Movies

         

Surrealism Returns to Campus

Surrealism Returns to Campus

Big Picture / History / World Since 1920 / United States Since 1920 / Surrealism Returns to UIUC Campus

If you didn’t attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) in 1970 and/or 2020, you’re memory of life on campus is a bucolic montage of uniform stately buildings that projected solid traditionalism, meticulously groomed green grass and trees on open spaces, and thousands of students happily passing each other on the way to classes and some taking a relaxing break on a nearby bench. But since coming to UIUC in 1967 as a freshman (M.S. Civil Engineering ’79) where I met my future wife of 59+ years (B.S. Education ’72), I have witnessed two unequivocal and surrealistic episodes in the history of this campus that punctured the serene bubble of campus that we all know and love, and locked down and took control of campus if only for an existential moment in history. One happened over half a century ago, and one is happening now.

The first surreal experience was brilliantly chronicled in the recent Illinois Alumni Magazine article Flash Point by Michael Metz, which tells the story of the student protest movement of the 1970s, particularly the week of May 4. I remember that week like it was yesterday when many campus intersections had a Jeep and two national guardsmen standing guard with bayoneted rifles. I suspect some of those soldiers were a year older than me, having joined the Guard to avoid the draft and ending up in Vietnam. A student today would find that surreal scene an impossible vision to believe.

Did that really happen?

It’s taken me 53 years, but now I want to say “thank you” to those courageous students who stood on the front lines of those protests and shouted “Enough is enough!” with respect to the endless war in Vietnam. You could take issue with the violence and damage that was done, but I believe the students were on the right side of history having enough of the losing endless war in Vietnam and so many lives needlessly lost on both sides. Sadly, in spite of the painful and tragic lessons of that history, we are still plagued by endless wars to this day.

Fast forward to 2020 and the second most surreal event in UIUC’s history, and that is the shutdown of the campus due the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, the evacuation of students, and the self-quarantine status of C-U and towns across the U.S. The other day I took my typical run across campus which is now an absolute ghost town. Typically on a warm spring day campus would be buzzing with students walking to class, playing games and sports, or just laying out in the sun and enjoying the day. I did not see a soul except for one solitary couple walking furtively across campus wearing masks like a strange scene from a dystopian sci-fi novel. COVID-19 has put a stranglehold on campus and effectively shut down most operations as it has towns, states, our country and indeed the world. We’ve never seen anything like this before in our lifetimes.

While it is a surreal site to see, the silent and empty streets and shops are the manifestation of a raging war against the Coronavirus going on inside the hospitals. This time around, I think our Illinois Governor and campus administrators are on the right side of history in solidarity with most of America. But unlike the Vietnam war where the lessons of history are sharper and more obvious after half a century, the enemy in this war is a mutation of nature and not a war we created, but a war we must fight.

On the battlefield.

The COVID-19 story is just beginning and the leadership decisions, american response and lessons of history are all ahead of us.

In the meantime, hunker down, stay safe, and stay healthy.

sp

Ohio

Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio.

Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are cutting us down
Should have been done long ago.
What if you knew her
And found her dead on the ground
How can you run when you know?

Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are cutting us down
Should have been done long ago.
What if you knew her
And found her dead on the ground
How can you run when you know?

Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio.

Crosby Stills Nash & Young
Games, Gaming, Play

Games, Gaming, Play

Men do not quit playing because they grow old;
they grow old because they quit playing.
— Holmes

Big Questions

Protect the children from the unintended consequences.

When it comes to Virtual Reality’s impact on kids, how long is too long? How young is too young?

  • Are kids now officially citizens of a dual world, real and virtual?
  • In time, which one will they like better?
  • How will it change things for the better and/or the worse?
  • How will it change how kids relate to pre-Internet elders?
  • Overall, will this be a “better” world?

What happened to free play?

  • On Being Outside: Your best experts are anybody over 50 because we literally grew up being outside and have now lived through a transition period and observed the differences between our generation and today’s. There is nothing that replenishes and repairs the soul like being outside and connected with weather, nature’s green, earth’s blue sky, the sun’s warm glow, fresh air, randomness, and serendipity. Outside for us old-schoolers was a giant playground, stage and fablab for creating things and making up play and games as you go. We could hardly wait to run out the front door of school and be with our friends and be FREE! It was always sad to have to go back inside. Unfortunately, the awareness of this special gift is slipping away with each internet minute. — sp
  • beach: The Beachmap Game, Dune-Water Dash (sp)
  • sidewalk: hopscotchium (sp)
  • trees: tree swing (sp)
  • un-virtual: Going Outside

Can a handicapped person break free of their chains of disability in a virtual world?

Is gaming addiction to Fortnite at epidemic proportions?

Do violent games contribute to youth violence?

Big Picture

Big Picture / Human Society / Social Groups / Games & Gaming

Games and Play

Gaming

Virtual Reality

Gambling

Books & Movies

         

Humor

Humor

Big Picture / Art / Literature / Humor

Don’t take yourself too seriously.

Big Picture

           

All The President’s Fixers

All The President’s Fixers

Big Picture / Human Society / Politics & Government / Utopianism / Dystrumpia / Fixers

Big Questions

Is Trump a schill for the secretive global anti-democratic Traditionalism movement?

Fixers Hall of Shame

Related

    

Military/Industrial/Religious Complex

Military/Industrial/Religious Complex

Big Picture / Human Society / Politics & Government / Utopianism

The mask is the iconic symbol of dystopia.

Dystopia is a [ Military-Industrial-Religious ] alliance that manifests itself as a/n

  • nationalist movement that
    • can do great things with brute force (people, cash), but
    • on issues that require a subtle, wise touch, they are clumsy.
  • government that restricts and/or stops
    • all movement in or out of the country
    • the Rule of Law any legal recourse to government demands, and
    • title to property and wealth-building in general.
  • masked populace struggling to survive
    • toxic air, and
    • pandemics.
  • extraction economy that
    • worships prosperity for a few at any cost to
      • the earth
      • workers, and
      • the people.
  • soulless machine that uses people as cogs in a wheel who are
    • subservient to The Party
    • expendable
    • disconnected
    • oppressed
    • marginalized
    • muzzled, and
    • defeatist.
  • authoritarian regime that
    • is a rogue’s gallery of
      • military
      • industrial, and
      • religious institutions.
    • centralizes economic and social planning to maintain absolute
      • power, and
      • control.
  • land under constant
    • surveillance, and
    • specter of fear.
  • secret police state that conducts
    • random raids
    • deportation and/or extraordinary rendition to camps to
      • be tortured, and
      • die.
  • untrustworthy regime that rules and fools by
    • control of all media to broadcast
      • disinformation and propaganda
      • smears, and
      • lies.

sp

Journalism

Journalism

Big Picture / Technology / Information Processing / Communication Systems / Journalism

Fact-based, trustworthy journalism is a cornerstone of our democracy.

In a time of uncertainty, facts provide clarity.
In a time of anxiety, facts comfort.
In a time of misinformation, facts correct.
In a time of division, facts unite.
In a time of crisis, facts matter most.

CNN

Big Questions

Can you believe what you read, see, and hear?

  • How do we really know the difference between opinion, advertising, and accurate news?
  • How will we fight state-sponsored disinformation and propaganda (deep fakes) in the future?
  • If Facebook’s content policies don’t require a post to be true, how do we protect ourselves from ourselves?
  • Is Facebook breaking our democracy?

How does a journalist report lies in a straightforward manner that doesn’t mislead and do a disservice to the readers/listeners of the news?

How much damage has the Trump administration’s rhetoric done to the public’s trust in the Fourth Estate?

Is the world suffering from a bad case of Trust Deficit Disorder? Are we becoming less honest?

Buyer Beware of Fake News

The cybersecurity profession learned early on that there is no way to protect every single computer and mobile device in the world against cyber attack by simply using policies and computer algorithms. Usually the weakest link is the individual that knowingly or not, clicks on a bogus phishing email or advertisement.

The same is true for protecting oneself against against fake news. We should not lay this off on the federal and state governments to solve this problem alone. Protection against cyber meddling starts with each individual being fully aware and educated about the role and responsibilities of citizenship, and having good common sense and judgment about the news they read and the sources they follow. At a minimum, we need to concentrate on education of the news consumer as much as we need to concentrate on the technology to identify, filter and block fake news.

Besides, who should be the decider of what the truth is? I don’t think we want the government and/or the internet giants to unilaterally decide for us, but ultimately it must be up to each individual. We need to protect the media’s ability to collect and serve up factual news as best they can, but each individual should have an informed suspicion of what is fake or not.

sp

Related

           

Biosphere

Biosphere

Big Picture / Life on Earth / Biosphere

REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE: Where all industrial outputs are inputs to a clean ecosystem.

Questions

Is coal collapsing faster than predicted? What will the adverse impacts be on base energy capacity and unemployment?

Cradle to Cradle: Does the company know how the parts, components, and materials are ultimately separated, processed, and disposed of and the cost of end-of-life disposal?

Big Picture

Basic Features of the Biosphere

Biological Populations and Communities

Hazards of Life: Disease & Death

Bio-geographic Distribution of Organisms (Ecosystems)

Human Impact on the Biosphere

  • Qualities that set humans apart
  • Effects of human action upon the biosphere
    • Extraction
      • Every Dollar Generated Takes a Bite Out of Our Planet: The extraction mentality has no soul, only a greedy drive towards profit at the exclusion of the Common Good. (sp)
    • Farming
    • Growth and land development (paving)
      • There’s enough for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed. — Gandi
      • Between a Rock and a Hard Spot: When it comes to the conflict between growth’s relentless extractive attack on the biosphere vs. the imperative to feed and provide jobs for 10 billion people in the future, are we truly caught between a rock and a hard spot? (sp)
    • Hunting
    • Noise
    • Pollution
      • Clean air and water is simply the cost of a civil, healthy, and sustainable society that we must all share proportionally. Our long-term survival depends on each of us and all of us conserving the commons. (sp)
      • Air
      • Water
      • Solid waste
        • hazardous wastes
          • bio
          • nuclear
        • plastics
  • Utilization of organisms by humans
  • Conservation
    • Conservation management
    • Types of natural resources
    • Management of natural resources
    • Management of the world’s food supply

Sustainability and Green: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

           

Utopianism

Utopianism

Big Picture / Human Society / Politics & Government / Utopianism

Is this the face of dystopia?

Questions

Does a Military-Industrial-Religious complex ultimately devolve into a dystopian state (fascism)?

What does utopia look like to you?

What does dystopia look like to you?

  • Dystopia is Utopia Gone Wrong: Utopia morphs into Dystopia and the inevitable unintended loss of self-determination and freedom when you ask for and get the Government or a Cult Leader to take care of your job (income), your health care, your education, your safety, your retirement, and your thinking. Unfortunately, while our dystopian visions are alarming, the children of the future won’t know the difference. – sp

Do we fully realize how much we are manipulated?

Is predictive policing nudging us towards a dystopian state?

Further Reading