Thursday, May 31, 2018

Financial Transaction Donation

Since Congress has determined that now is the time to repeal what little oversight we have over the Too-Big-To-Fail bankers, it’s also time to revive a concept from our nation’s past.

Yes, only a few years when the Wall Street boys and gals made a financial transaction, a minuscule tax was attached. So, a few bucks went into the U.S. Treasury.

It’s time to revisit the idea. Only this time, let’s make the whole idea a bit more patriotic.

Let’s call it the, USA Financial Transaction Donation (FTD). That way we’ll all fell a little better about it because it’s not a tax… it’s a donation… and it’s just for Uncle Sam, don’t you know.

Best of all, the “R” people can run it up the flag pole and feel good, too.

The FTD is simply a sales tax on a trade of stocks, bonds, or derivatives. In fact, it’s just like the sales tax which most of us pay every time we purchase something, only we pay a lot more... like .06% on the things we purchase here in Michigan.

The FTD legislation already proposed by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) would be in the order of 0.5 percent on stocks, 0.1 percent on bonds, and 0.005 percent on derivatives or other investments.

As I mentioned, FTDs are not new. In fact, they are currently law in the United Kingdom and 20 other nations, including France, China, and Italy. Indeed, a financial sales tax was formerly the law in the United States, too, from 1914-1966.

How much money are we talking about here?

According to Robert Pollin, co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, such a tax could raise around $220 billion per year, which equalsapproximately 1.2 percent of current U.S. GDP.

Still, that’s a good amount to keep in reserve for that Come and Get it Day when we are once again forced to bailout the Too-Big-To-Fail bankers. 

What Bernie said:

The Banker - 2010

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Mom Was Right! Again!

Mom always said I had two brains. One where it normally is and the other in my stomach. The one in my stomach always won over the other when it came to eating certain sweet things.

Well, now mom's been proven right. Again!

Unique neuronal firing patterns in our "second brain" observed for the first time, Rich Haridy,, 30 May 2018.

"Using a newly developed imaging technique, a team of researchers at (Flinders University, Bedford Park, South Australia, Australia) have directly observed a unique neural motor firing pattern outside of the brain or central nervous system. The pattern of neuronal firing, in the intestine, showed exactly how our enteric nervous system coordinates contractions in our gastrointestinal tract.

The enteric nervous system (ENS) is a massive mesh of neurons located in our gastrointestinal tract. It's the largest collection of neurons found in the body outside of the brain, and because of its ability to operate entirely independently it has often been referred to as our "second brain."

It is only recently that science has begun to seriously look at how this so-called second brain actually functions. While we have countless studies correlating neuronal firing in the brain with assorted physical actions, there has been little examination into how neuronal firing in the ENS results in intestinal muscle activity.

The new research outlines the development of a new, high resolution neuronal imaging method designed to expressly examine neuronal firing in the ENS. Using mice models, the researchers were able to watch the rhythmic firing of neurons and see the subsequent contractions in intestinal muscles. This is the first time this kind of repetitive rhythmic neuronal firing pattern has been directly observed in the ENS and the researchers suggest it could be an ancient neuronal pattern that evolved in humans a long time ago."

Please go here for the rest of the story.

Wait Until I Cook It - Preschool Popstars - 2012

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Not-So-Good People

Middle Class? Perhaps I was never middle class. But, I didn't know it.

Now comes this lesson... I'm not an aristocrat. But, I know that.

The 9.9 Percent Is the New American Aristocracy, Matthew Stewart, The Atlantic, June 2018.

"The class divide is already toxic, and is fast becoming unbridgeable. You’re probably part of the problem."

"Money may be the measure of wealth, but it is far from the only form of it. Family, friends, social networks, personal health, culture, education, and even location are all ways of being rich, too. These non-financial forms of wealth, as it turns out, aren’t simply perks of membership in our aristocracy. They define us.

We are the people of good family, good health, good schools, good neighborhoods, and good jobs. We may want to call ourselves the “5Gs” rather than the 9.9 percent. We are so far from the not-so-good people on all of these dimensions, we are beginning to resemble a new species."

1. The Aristocracy Is Dead …
"For about a week every year in my childhood, I was a member of one of America’s fading aristocracies. Sometimes around Christmas, more often on the Fourth of July, my family would take up residence at one of my grandparents’ country clubs in Chicago, Palm Beach, or Asheville, North Carolina. The breakfast buffets were magnificent, and Grandfather was a jovial host, always ready with a familiar story, rarely missing an opportunity for gentle instruction on proper club etiquette. At the age of 11 or 12, I gathered from him, between his puffs of cigar smoke, that we owed our weeks of plenty to Great-Grandfather, Colonel Robert W. Stewart, a Rough Rider with Teddy Roosevelt who made his fortune as the chairman of Standard Oil of Indiana in the 1920s. I was also given to understand that, for reasons traceable to some ancient and incomprehensible dispute, the Rockefellers were the mortal enemies of our clan. Only much later in life did I learn that the stories about the Colonel and his tangles with titans fell far short of the truth."

At the end of each week, we would return to our place. My reality was the aggressively middle-class world of 1960s and ’70s U.S. military bases and the communities around them. Life was good there, too, but the pizza came from a box, and it was Lucky Charms for breakfast. Our glory peaked on the day my parents came home with a new Volkswagen camper bus. As I got older, the holiday pomp of patriotic luncheons and bridge-playing rituals came to seem faintly ridiculous and even offensive, like an endless birthday party for people whose chief accomplishment in life was just showing up. I belonged to a new generation that believed in getting ahead through merit, and we defined merit in a straightforward way: test scores, grades, competitive résumé-stuffing, supremacy in board games and pickup basketball, and, of course, working for our keep. For me that meant taking on chores for the neighbors, punching the clock at a local fast-food restaurant, and collecting scholarships to get through college and graduate school. I came into many advantages by birth, but money was not among them.

"The meritocratic class has mastered the old trick of consolidating wealth and passing privilege along at the expense of other people’s children."

"I’ve joined a new aristocracy now, even if we still call ourselves meritocratic winners. If you are a typical reader of The Atlantic, you may well be a member too. (And if you’re not a member, my hope is that you will find the story of this new class even more interesting—if also more alarming.) To be sure, there is a lot to admire about my new group, which I’ll call—for reasons you’ll soon see—the 9.9 percent. We’ve dropped the old dress codes, put our faith in facts, and are (somewhat) more varied in skin tone and ethnicity. People like me, who have waning memories of life in an earlier ruling caste, are the exception, not the rule."

"By any sociological or financial measure, it’s good to be us. It’s even better to be our kids. In our health, family life, friendship networks, and level of education, not to mention money, we are crushing the competition below. But we do have a blind spot, and it is located right in the center of the mirror: We seem to be the last to notice just how rapidly we’ve morphed, or what we’ve morphed into."

Please go here for the rest of the story.

Billy Joel - Uptown Girl - 1983

Monday, May 28, 2018

Stop Sacrificing Our Grandchildren

For your grandchildren and in honor of your fallen loved ones, this Memorial Day is a good day for us to begin to walk a different path.

Rather than remaining the victims of our war economy that enables suffering for the 99.9% and wealth for the .01%, we can choose to a different way.

We know at least one other path. It’s an economy based upon renewable resources.

By making our conversion to renewable energy from oil and natural gas a top priority we remove one of the ages-old pretenses for war. Middle Eastern oil will be eliminated as a reason to bomb innocent children because the energy you require to power your home will come from your own rooftop solar array or the wind power system next door.

As for making the .01% more wealthy, allowing them more dominance and governmental control, well… perhaps we will never satisfy their insatiable needs. Still, conversion to a renewables-based economy will make trillions of dollars for them without sacrificing our grandchildren.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Water... We Don't Understand You

We take so much for granted, don't we? 

Take water for instance. If it is clean, drinkable and abundant, then, what's more to know?

A lot.

Here are two examples of mind-blowing water research I've discovered.

Microscopy Advance Reveals Unexpected Role for Water in Energy Storage Material,Veronica Augustyn, Matt Shipman,  North Carolina State University , 24 May 2018

“Specifically, we found that the water layers do two things,” says Ruocun “John” Wang, a Ph.D. student in Augustyn’s lab and lead author of the paper. “One, the water layers minimize deformation, meaning that the material expands and contracts less as ions move in and out of the material when there are water layers. Two, the water layers make the deformation more reversible, meaning that the material returns to its original dimensions more easily.”

“In practical terms, this means that the material with water layers is more efficient at storing charge, losing less energy,” Augustyn says. Much more here...

Life Changing Discoveries

The one thing I have learned in this life is that what we discover today will turn a bright, revealing light on what we thought we knew for certain.

Consider water. Because water is everywhere, we believe we know a lot about it. After all, water is water, right? We know potable water is better to drink because it is clear of unhealthy contaminates and not to drink bad water. That’s about it.

But, there is much more to learn about water.

Dr. Gerald Pollack, professor of Bioengineering, University of Washington (Seattle), explains, “More than 99% of molecules in our body are water, but we don’t have a clue about how water works. We really don’t understand it,” he said.
After years of research, Dr. Pollack and his associates have discovered that water is not just a solid (ice), a liquid or a vapor. There is a fourth phase of water… EZ water or structured water.

Please go here for the rest of the story...

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Future World Hangs on Who Owns Your Data

Facebook, Google, Amazon, the CIA, the FBI, have all this data about each of us.

In time, because of advances in data analysis, improved algorithms, "they" will know more about each of us than we understand about ourselves... which this or that we will choose to purchase, which way we might choose to vote... if we will vote.... etc.

You name it, one or more of those "Theys" will know your choice before you make it.

What does it all mean?

Could it mean that the future will not be the domain of humans. Will the algorithms dominate?

"The future of life itself may depend upon the answer to this question."- Prof. Yuval Noah Harari

Will the Future Be Human? (in 3 minutes and 25 seconds)

White Animation
Published on May 14, 2018
Animation produced by:

"Prof. Yuval Noah Harari tells us about the clear and immediate danger hidden within the information revolution. If we are not careful, in the future we will become the property of commercial companies and legal entities that will use our personal data for their benefit. This is a grave warning that if we take seriously will lead us to a more optimistic future."

Audio sourced from a presentation given by Prof. Harari at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2018:

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Do Snails Portend Human Memory Transfer?

UCLA Scientists have succeeded in transferring a memory from one marine snail to another. (Please see story below.)

When I read the story I immediately thought of a future when humans live forever, perhaps as clones. But not as “tabula rasa” or “blank slate” clones, only looking like the original.

No, living forever, in my mind, means retaining life-experience memories, as well as the personal characteristics that make us who we are, no matter the “body” we occupy. In fact, our body cells replace themselves all the time. but we still retain our memories.

Eventually, death arrives, and we are no more in this world.

The “living-forever-body” must also include “living-forever-memories”, too.

That’s why the marine snail memory transfer success is so important. It may portend a day when our memories live forever.

Biologists 'transfer' a memory, University of California, Los Angeles,, 14 May 2018.

“UCLA biologists report they have transferred a memory from one marine snail to another, creating an artificial memory, by injecting RNA from one to another. This research could lead to new ways to lessen the trauma of painful memories with RNA and to restore lost memories.”

"I think in the not-too-distant future, we could potentially use RNA to ameliorate the effects of Alzheimer's disease or post-traumatic stress disorder," said David Glanzman, senior author of the study and a UCLA professor of integrative biology and physiology and of neurobiology. The team's research is published May 14 in eNeuro, the online journal of the Society for Neuroscience.”

“RNA, or ribonucleic acid, has been widely known as a cellular messenger that makes proteins and carries out DNA's instructions to other parts of the cell. It is now understood to have other important functions besides protein coding, including regulation of a variety of cellular processes involved in development and disease.”

Please go here for the rest of the story.

Elvis Presley - Memories -1968

Monday, May 21, 2018

Complications Are Not Simple

Make America Great Again?
Simple, Right?

The problem is our world is just not that simple.

Algorithms… algorithms... more algorithms...

Life has become complicated…

"Never Under Estimate Human Stupidity."

Yuval Noah Harari
Why fascism is so tempting - and how your data could power it

"In a profound talk about technology and power, author and historian Yuval Noah Harari explains the important difference between fascism and nationalism -- and what the consolidation of our data means for the future of democracy. Appearing as a hologram live from Tel Aviv, Harari warns that the greatest danger that now faces liberal democracy is that the revolution in information technology will make dictatorships more efficient and capable of control. "The enemies of liberal democracy hack our feelings of fear and hate and vanity, and then use these feelings to polarize and destroy," Harari says. "It is the responsibility of all of us to get to know our weaknesses and make sure they don't become weapons." (Followed by a brief conversation with TED curator Chris Anderson)

"This talk was presented at an official TED conference, and was featured by our editors on the home page."

"The most important thing is to liberate ourselves from suffering... understanding what suffering is, what causes it and how to be liberated from it."

Yuval Noah Harari TED Dialogues
Natinalism vs. globalism: the new political divide

"How do we make sense of today's political divisions? In a wide-ranging conversation full of insight, historian Yuval Harari places our current turmoil in a broader context, against the ongoing disruption of our technology, climate, media -- even our notion of what humanity is for. This is the first of a series of TED Dialogues, seeking a thoughtful response to escalating political divisiveness. Make time (just over an hour) for this fascinating discussion between Harari and TED curator Chris Anderson."

"This talk was presented at an official TED conference, and was featured by our editors on the home page."

Friday, May 4, 2018

To: Great-Great-Great-Grandchildren

Dear great-great-great-granddaughter and great-great-great-grandson:

A brilliant man once explained to me, “You are not here on this earth to accumulate money, fame or power. Nor, are you here to find the love of your life. You are not here to “get” something. No, you are here to contribute that which will uniquely flow through you.”

He continued, “That uniqueness will come to you in time. It will find you. You will not find it.”

“And, when that day comes, accept it. Then do whatever it is that you must do, for it is your gift for those you love and those yet unborn generations to follow.”

Well, that day has arrived.

Now, I know my unique gift for you is to continue the work of my ancestors - your ancestors, too.

They worked unceasingly to provide a secure, loving home. They built that home in a land of opportunity, where the air was clean, the water sweet, and the earth poison-free. Flowers and trees surrounded our home. Birds sang, and a multitude of wildlife flourished nearby.

Hatefulness was forbidden and learning cherished. Our door, always open to new experiences, was still protective against harm.

Outside of home, your ancestors, women and men, served selflessly and heroically out of compassion, in pursuit of happiness and peace for all.

In my time, as in times past, leaders have proven cowards, soullessly sacrificing the future, your world and the helpless, for trillions and trillions of dollars of the public trust. All for personal gain.

I, and many others, struggle day-in and day-out to counter this never-ending ruthlessness of these soulless beings, who have forced us into a last-ditch battle to preserve something of our earth for you.

The fact that you are reading this letter is proof that we have somehow managed to overcome our inadequacies, faults and frailties in the face of unrestrained avarice and unmitigated evil.

My hope is that I have helped to pass to you a secure, loving home in a land of opportunity, where the air is clean, the water sweet, and the earth poison-free. That you, too, enjoy the flowers and trees surrounding your home... that birds sing for you and the wildlife flourishes nearby.

This is the world I hoped for you and the reason I lived.

May God be with you, now and forever. May he give you the strength and wisdom to pass our world on to your great-great-great-grandchildren. Whatever you do, please, Don't Stop Believin'.

Your great-great-great-grandfather, Ron

Journey - Don't Stop Believin'- 1981

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Fossil Fuel Geezers

While much of the known world has, and continues, to develop and implement sustainable energy technology, the good old USA, led by the Trumpists, has retrogressed into the fossil fuel Dark Ages.

Most Americans falsely believe their nation is a technology leader. We are not. We are Fossil Fuel Geezers.

We operate our society on electricity generated by antiquated coal and natural gas, or worse, nuclear-powered generation plants, that are wired together with an “1880 Power Grid” that loses nearly 69% of the electricity generated and distributed to us. (See video below.)

Additionally, the “Grid” is invitingly vulnerable to any “nutcase” or terrorist committed to causing painful mischief, or natural disasters, including floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, solar storm cosmic radiation, etc.

An answer? A bunch of small power plants.

Solar or wind electricity generated by rooftop systems, or a plethora of standalone systems, massive wind farms or massive solar arrays, in many cases joined together in microgrids, is fast becoming the world standard.

Why? Because we have developed a lot of new technology since the 1880s, and it is cost effective.

Please check out: Solar Surprise: Small-Scale Solar a Better Deal than Big, John Farrell,, 9 Mar 2018.

"If you’re a Public Utilities Commission eyeing the least cost solar energy, it’s clear that electric customers benefit regardless of the scale of the solar build, but there’s definitely not a benefit to building bigger than about 10 to 20 megawatts. In other words, you may need to consider different factors, such as who earns the return on investment from the solar project. If solar projects are comparable cost, a Public Utilities Commission ought to favor project development with maximum public economic benefit, as opposed to utility shareholder benefit."

"If you’re a city or community looking to maximize the value of your solar investment, smaller is best. There’s every reason to favor distributed solar because the economic multipliers far outweigh any benefit from building solar bigger. The final chart shows the combination of purchase price less local spending value."

Small is beautiful, wrote E. F. Schumacher, but when it comes to solar,
it’s also an economic smash-hit.

One supposed sticking point I often hear is, "What happens when the sun goes down or the wind stops?"

No doubt you’ve heard about Tesla Powerwall? That is one proven solution.

Under development is another that may be coming your way…

Stanford researchers have developed a water-based battery to store solar and wind energy, Tom Abate, Stanford University, 30 Apr 2018.

“Stanford researchers have developed a water-based battery that could provide a cheap way to store wind or solar energy generated when the sun is shining and wind is blowing so it can be fed back into the electric grid and be redistributed when demand is high.”

Please go here for the whole story.

Tired of being a Fossil Fuel Geezer? I am. (Too, please consider the potential for new, higher-paying jobs that will be created when we switch over.)

"Lost in Transmission": How much energy we lose from plant to plug

"How much energy is lost between the power plant and your house? Inside Energy's Jordan Wirfs-Brock explains."

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Check Your Six Shooter, Cowboy

So, Dodge City, Tombstone, Abilene and the others of the Wild West had it right.

“… statistics show that, next to drunk and disorderly conduct, the most common cause of arrest was illegally carrying a firearm. Sheriffs and marshals took gun control seriously.”

“Although some in the gun community insist that more guns equals less crime, in the Wild West they discovered that gun control can work. Gun violence in these towns was far more rare than we commonly imagine. Historians who’ve studied the numbers have determined that frontier towns averaged less than two murders a year. Granted, the population of these towns was small. Nevertheless, these were not places where duels at high noon were commonplace. In fact, they almost never occurred.”*

Back in 1879 all cowboys had to leave their six shooters and Winchesters at the stable at the edge of town or with the sheriff, who then gave ‘em a token to be redeemed upon leaving town.

Oddly, even the NRA has decided guns are not welcome when Vice Pres. Pence is scheduled to speak before the esteemed body this Friday.

I guess, according to the NRA and the Secrete Service, guns aren’t welcome at this particular NRA shindig.**

So why should guns be welcome everywhere else?

Shouldn’t what’s good for the goose be good for the gander?

Better, let’s just follow the Old Western tradition and check the six shooters at the stable or the sheriff’s office.

*Did the Wild West Have More Gun Control Than We Do Today, Adam Winkler, THE BLOG 09/09/2011 03:42 pm ET Updated Nov 09, 2011 

**The NRA said guns will be banned during a Pence speech. Parkland students see hypocrisy,
Alex Horton,, 30 Apr 2018.

Lyle Lovett - If I Had A Boat - 1987