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Time to Get Serious About Our Future

I see lots of articles about climate change, Climate emergency and our running out of fossil fuels. They offer easy tips on what we can do to help, but none of them are serious about what we really need to do. So I have made a list of things that we really need to do if we are really serious. And we should be really serious.

  1. Keep your air conditioning thermostat at 78 degrees in summer and your heat at 67 degrees in winter.
  2. Landscape with trees and shrubby so little or no lawn mowing is needed..
  3. Avoid all trips in cars unless absolutely necessary and combine all errands into single trips as much as possible, including limiting trips to the grocery store to once every two weeks.
  4. Do not use plastic or synthetic materials, including clothes, if you have a choice.
  5. Work from home and let your employees work from home and use virtual meetings instead of business travel.
  6. Eat meat no more than two days a week.
  7. Do not make trips by air travel or take cruise ship for vacations or pleasure.
  8. Do not attend or support automobile racing events.
  9. Use public transportation, car pool to work, and move closer to where you work to cut down commuting.
  10. Stop using ice in your glass to cool beverages.

Please feel free to add to the list. Most of the lists I have seen make it easy by saying you don’t have to do all the things listed, just doing two or three will help and be enough. I am not going to say that. If we are going to survive as a civilization, or even as a species, all of us need to do all the above, and more. This is just a partial list. Unless we make discoveries and come up with substitutes for fossil fuels, we will eventually be forced to make all those changes and more. It will be better to make the changes now and give ourselves more time to find a substitute for fossil fuels before they run out.

Hormonal Karma: Sperm counts are nose-diving for the most populous animal on Earth — George Tsakraklides

(FINE PRINT) 100 other species are going extinct daily As much as we consider Nature non-sentient, it definitely has its thinking hat on at the moment: it is beginning to tackle climate change before humans can even begin to acknowledge it.  It is doing this by trying to curb human population, the number one aggravator of […]

Hormonal Karma: Sperm counts are nose-diving for the most populous animal on Earth — George Tsakraklides

What’s After Oil, Natural Gas, and Coal

We can look at the charts and statistics and tell when we are likely to run out of oil, natural gas and coal. It can now be measured in decades. What will life for humans be like then? That is a real question we should to be thinking about for the benefit of the next generations. Or maybe for the generation that has already been born and is now attending preschool or in nurseries. We seem to think a change to windmills, solar panels or nuclear power will help. I don’t believe it will, at least not much. The reason is that making the materials required to build all those things requires fossil fuels. Only buring of fossil fuels produces the high temperatures for producing steel and other metals needed. It nay be possible to use biomass for that. But quantiles are limited in comparison to the quantities of fossil fuels today. Another problem is that plastics come from oil. How will we produce plastics or plastic replacements in the quantities we use today. We have a few decades to come up with some substitute, or we will not be able to produce the machines needed to continue to produce and distribute the energy and materials our civilization requires. If we don’t then cultivation and distribution of food as we now know it will greatly decrease. We will be back to living on farms and growing and producing food to be consumed locally. Distribution over great distances will not be possible. Future generations will be living very differently then we are today. We have a few decades to adapt to the changes. That is not much time.

The General Welfare Clause of the Constitution

One of the most often discussed and misunderstood clause in our Constitution is what is referred to as the general welfare clause, also referred to as the spending clause. That discussion is part of our continued debate on the powers of congress and the federal government. The clause is found in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. The discussion is over the intentions and meaning of the clause. To understand the clause we have to look at the body of the constitution and that article, section, and clause specifically. The style of writing and use and placement of punctuation has to be analyzed. The founding fathers disagreed among themselves as to the meaning of the clause. One faction led by Alexander Hamilton believed this clause gave congress the power to collect taxes, and the power to pass laws to provide for the common defense and general welfare of the country. He believed the clause authorized congress to pass any laws as long the laws were to provide for the common defense and the general welfare. The other faction, led by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson believed that the clause only empowered the congress to collect taxes. They thought the clause prohibited congress from collecting taxes for any other purposes other than to provide for the common defense and general welfare, but did not think the clause gave them the power to pass laws to provide for the common defense and general welfare. That raises the question that if congress could not pass laws to provide for common defense and general welfare, why did the constitution give them the power to collect taxes to pay the expenses incurred for laws to provide for the common defense and general welfare. The answer is clear, the clause gave congress the authority to both pass laws for such purposes and collect taxes to pay for debts and costs incurred by said laws. That is also clear from an examination of the phrasing and wording used throughout section 8. When the Constitution was sent out to the states for ratification, several states realized that the general welfare clause gave the congress almost unlimited power to pass anything they wanted as long as it was to provide for the common defense and general welfare, and realized this would give congress virtually unlimited power, so they refused to ratify it until a bill of rights was added to limit the power of Congress to pass laws. More amendments have been added since to further limit the congress in what it can pass. Most of these limitations to what Congress can pass have been held by the Supreme Court to apply to the states legislatures as well.

Beginning in the 1930’s the Supreme Court started relying more heavily on the general welfare clause to sustain laws passed by congress. The court and constitutional scholars have agreed more and more with Hamilton’s position. For the last ninety years the Court has continued to uphold laws based on the general welfare clause. There will probably be additional amendments to the constitution added to further change how our government works and may future limit the authority of congress to pass laws, or possibly expand their authority. There will be more Supreme Court cases deciding what congress can or cannot do. One thing is certain, there will be additional and continuous changes to our constitution, our government, and our way of life. Most of these changes will be driven by technology. As technology changes, lifestyles change, and laws have to be amended or passed to accommodate and deal with the changes.

How healthy is this world for other living creatures by Julie Peller Ph.D. —

Green Junction How healthy is this world for other living creatures, those living on land, in the seas? The extinction rate of species on earth may be over 1000 times greater than the natural or background extinction rate. Last year, a team of researchers reported the loss of nearly 3 billion birds since 1970 (30% […]

How healthy is this world for other living creatures by Julie Peller Ph.D. —

Voting Trends, Conservative, Liberal Choices

In the election the national vote was almost evenly divided as it has been for the last several elections. The last landslide was by Reagan in 1984. Since then the elections have been close. Trying to divide all votes between liberal and conservative is difficult because of the presence on the ticket of more than two parties. People vote for third parties for various reasons. Putting them in a liberal or conservative camp is not easy. Some libertarians think of themselves as on the liberal side and some think they are conservatives. I think of them generally as conservatives. Both liberals and conservatives make up about half of the population of the United States now, at least that is the conclusion to be reached by looking at the number of votes in the last few elections. Liberal votes were about seventy five million, and more than seventy million people voted on the conservative side of the ticket. More than that if you count the conservatives that voted for a third party candidate. That is a pretty substantial number of people. Too many to simply dismiss and discount. Better to look at those voters to try to determine why they voted the way they did. Liberals say conservatives are unintelligent and incapable of thinking in complicated abstraction terms, don’t understand the issues, and are backward and unthinking. That does’t sound right. There is no evidence to show that conservative voters are less intelligent than liberal voters. Brain scans show that brains of liberals and conservatives are different. They could be right, but why are the groups located in geographic areas, and why do some voters switch back and forth. More research needs to be done. One of the best ways to determine the voting trends of the country is to look at the makeup of the House of Representatives. The members of the house are elected based on districts of equal populations. Looking at the electoral college and the House districts indicates that the big divide is between rural and urban. The swing states have almost equal numbers of rural and urban voters. There are several reasons that people in rural areas vote for conservative candidates. First, rural voters are independent, self sufficient, and believe in liberty and freedom. They want government that favors business and the economy. Most are self employed or work for small businesses or family owned businesses, and they want as few regulations in business as they can get. They believe in capitalism, free enterprise and private property. They see a lot of corruption and waste in government and want that reduced. They favor a large military but do not want to see money and lives lost in interventions in foreign countries. Conservatives are concerned with work that keeps the economy going providing food and goods. Their responsibility is to provide for their families. That means supporting business and the economy Their most important issue is the economy. Urban voters want to see more government spending on welfare programs. They need more infrastructure and more government services. They want more funds for unemployment and welfare for low income families. Liberals are more interested in intervention in foreign countries. They favor more government controls, business regulation, and government support than rural voters want. As our demographics continue to change and our living conditions change it remains to be seen which direction the political views of a majority of our voters will take. If we continue to become more urban it appears our population may become more liberal. But predictions on the future are difficult to make.

Liberal, Conservative,and Other Political Terms

The meanings of terms is in constant change over time, and terms mean different things when used by different people. It is hard to have a meaningful discussion when the parties don’t agree on the definitions of the terms used without realizing it, and without some attempt to define and agree on the meaning of the terms used. The first part if a discussion should be to define the terms that are being used, but that does not always happen. The result is that the people in the discussion are talking past each other, with neither side really understanding what ideas the other side is attempting to express. The term liberal is an example.. The meaning of the term varies significantly when used by someone who identifies as a liberal and when used by someone who identifies as a conservative or a moderate. When I was growing up in the fifties, the term liberal was very clear. Liberals were people who were in favor of ending segregation. That was what the term meant in general use in everyday speech and everyday usw. In my class in United States history our instructor said liberals were in favor of big government. I knew that liberals were opposed to oppressive governments and wanted freedom. That meant less restrictive governments, not bigger governments. I also learned that liberal meant a willingness to move away from traditional and accepted norms of behavior, experiment, try new things, and not be bound by restrictions, prescribed forms of behavior and strict rules and regulations. That did not sound like big, restrictive government. Another current definition in use is that liberals believe that everyone is equal. In college I learned that people have different abilities, talents, tastes, values, energy levels and interests based on their DNA, and each person’s DNA is unique. That did not seem to fit with the belief in equality.. The term cobservative also has very dufferent meanings depending on who is using the term. The term meant someone someone who believes in liberty and freedom. Other people say conservatives believe in oppression. Then there us the term libertarian. It has numerous definitions depending on who is using the term. New terms emerge constantly to define some new theory or belief or combinations of theories and beliefs. Meanings of terms and labels change fast. Staying current is not easy. All terms of description are somewhat misleading and subject to misinterpretation. They should be used with care

Mental Illness Safety Nets

We have a rich economy and a high living standard. But everyone does not enjoy it. In the midst of wealth there are people in the United Stated who are homeless because of mental illness. Cold weather has started and the homeless really suffer. There have been a few deaths from cold reported last week and it is only early December. The homeless sleep on the streets, under bridges, in doorways, any other place that may offer some shelter. Many mentally ill now make up our prison populations. It does not have to be like this. Mentally ill people have brain orders that prevent them from being able to hold jobs, organize their life and maintain a place to live. There was a time in the past when people with mental illness were housed in large state institutions. Those were closed beginning fifty or so years ago. The idea was to treat the mentally ill on the local level instead of in a central location. The local level treatment plans were never implemented. Most of the people who lived in the large institutions were left without help or a place to go for treatment. More mentally ill people are housed in prisons than anywhere else. Prisons have become our institutions for housing our mentally ill. It is more accurate to use the term brain disorders or brain disease than mental illness because the problem is a disorder or disease of the brain, but no matter what term is used to describe them, the people should not sleep or spend nights without shelter. We need to find a way to house people. Local or state governments should get more involved owning and operating shelters. The federal government programs for providing low cost housing needs support and more funding. Charitable snd private organizations should be encouraged and supported. Homelessness should not be a way of life for mentally ill in the United States. We should have safety nets. If we decide that prisons should continue to be places for our homeless than they should be designed and to provide proper care for these individuals. With winter approaching, the homeless from mental illness need help.

How the Electoral College Works

We just had an election and call it a presidential election. That is not true. What we just had was an election to chose the electors. In December the electors meet in each state capital and cast their votes for president.. They have sworn to vote for certain candidates if they were elected, but that is only an oath. In a few states it is a crime to vote for someone other then the person they swore to vote for, but the penalties are not severe, a small fine which they can easily afford to pay. Electors in some states can be replaced if they try to vote for someone other then the candidate they pledged to vote for.. Depending on state law, a new group of electors can be selected by the state legislature and they can vote for someone other than the candidate who received the most votes, or received any votes at all. Under the constitution it is all up to the state legislature. The votes totals are then sealed in envelopes and sent to congress. In early January congress will meet in joint session, open the envelopes and count the votes. One year three states sent in two sets of ballots. Congress appointed a committee to decide which ballots to count. After some deliberation and deal making one candidate withdrew and the other was elected. That was in 1876. Congress had time to deliberate because the inauguration was not until March. Now the inauguration is in January and there is not time for deliberation if the electoral ballots are in question or if there is litigation taking place. There is also very little time for transition if the president is not chosen until January. Officially, the president elect is not decided until congress opens the electoral ballots, counts and certifies the votes and declared the winner.

What we have in effect is a three part process with three elections. The first, in November is a non-binding public vote to show the voters preference and to elect the electors. The second is in December when the electors cast their ballots. The third is in January when the congress counts and certifies electoral ballots after determing they are valid. If no candidate gets a majority of electorale ballots then the House of Representatives choses between the three people getting the most votes, with each state getting one vote. The procedure of congress counting the ballots takes place about a week before the inauguration. If there is a conflict, a surprise or a dispute that does not allow much time for a transition. It is time to amend the constitution to creat a procedure that is more direct and efficient. And one that is easier to understand. No other country has a procedure so complicated and protracted.

Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity Plea

When a defendant uses the insanity defense the jury decides whether or not the evidence established that the defendant was insane at the time he committed the act. The problem with the defense is that there is no way to define insanity and to determine the state of mind of the defendant at a particular time. There will be testimony by experts for both sides. The first argument for abolishment of the defense is that statements of experts is not reliable. A better argument is that if a person commits a crime, that is evidence that the person should be removed from society, for the protection of others for a period of time. If the defendant has murdered someone that fact itself shows that the person should be removed from society. Too much is unknown about sanity and insanity and human behavior to do otherwise. Under present rules, if at anytime after the trial, which includes immediately after trial, it is determined that the defendant is sane then he is free to return to society. Considering the disagreement among experts in the field as to what constitutes insanity, it would be better to hold the person for a minimum period of time to make that determination. The better system would be for the jury to first decide whether or not the defendant committed the act he is accused of committing. If they decide he did, they should return a guilty verdict. The jury then should decide what the sentence should be. Once a sentence is pronounced, the defendant should be turned over to the prison system to serve out the sentence. The prison system should decide where the defendant should held and how he is treated. Among the things to consider is whether the person needs medical treatment, psychiatric treatment, counseling, education or job training. The goal should be to get the person ready to return to society safely after the sentence is completed.