I Think Not!


Home province British Columbia, Canada has a population of 5.1 million. Population of U.S. state Maryland is 6.06 million. As of today the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in B.C. is 2,659. Of that, 183 cases are considered active. 2,309 persons recovered, 167 died. Of the 183 active cases, only 16 are hospitalized, 4 of those in ICU. Compare home stats to those of Maryland – 58.404 confirmed cases, 2,776 deaths, 4,240 recovered. Even when taking 900,000 or so more Maryland residents into consideration, the difference is staggering.

Closer to home, ponder Washington State, population 7.1 million – 1,300 new cases over the weekend, compared to 29 in B.C. To date Washington state accounts for 24,401 confirmed infections, 1,161 deaths. And there’s impatience to open the border, why?

Total number of COVID-19 deaths in Canada is 7,835. New York state alone accounts for 30,374 of America’s 112,579 COVID-19 deaths. As more than 20 U.S. states report increased cases in the past 14 days, Canada maintains a sharp decrease. Still think the Canada/U.S. border should open? I think not!

See the source image

 

Ted Cruz – Please Stay Away From Canada


I don’t wish to be unkind. Americans have enough on their minds with the Trump show. Re-posting my impression of Ted Cruz, thoughts formed long before Trump reared his ugly head, is intended to give bat shit an extra helping of guano.

notestoponder

Our world is a weird and wonderful place – I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.

Ted Cruz is a Texas Republican elected to the U.S. senate; he’s also holding dual Canadian/American citizenship. Born 1970 in Calgary, Alberta to a Cuban father and American mother – he left Canada at age four, America has been his home ever since. He has served as the Texas Solicitor General, Director of Policy at the Federal Trade Commission, Associate Deputy Attorney General for the federal Dept. of Justice, Domestic Policy Advisor to George W. Bush in the 2000 Bush/Cheney campaign, taught U.S. Supreme Court litigation as a Law Professor at the University of Texas, and is endorsed by the Tea Party and Republican Liberty Caucus.

His father – Rafael Cruz – left Cuba as a teenager, finding his way to Texas where he attended school. Prior to leaving Cuba he supported…

View original post 404 more words

Facts


I take comfort in facts; irrefutable, set in stone, proven beyond a shadow of doubt,snippets of information used to define our world. The Oxford Dictionary defines fact as “a thing that is known or proved to be true”,  so far so good, right? Not so fast – fact missed the memo on truth.

I know for a fact we can’t pin point the exact age of our universe. Science says 13.8 billion years, give or take a millennium or two. We have no way of ever assigning “fact” to age, we can however say for a fact, the universe is billions of years old, science has proven this to be true. According to fundamentalist Christians the world is 6427 years old. The link below gives a timeline of their reasoning – for those requiring “proof”, a search on yahoo resulted in “best answer” rating for a response to the question “how old is the earth according to the bible?” – “the Bible doesn’t specify how old earth is but the lunar landing proved only 6000 years of dust had collected on the moon”. Yikes; that’s one hell of a fact.

http://bridavis.chickenfactory.net/timeline.htm

How about the “fact” Christopher Columbus discovered America – he never set foot on the continent, his 1492 landing was in the Caribbean – I suppose “close enough” makes for good historical “fact”. Leif Erickson found Newfoundland long before Columbus sailed the ocean blue – that’s a fact. Columbus Day based on historical fiction; truth bent so long as to become “fact”.

We need to take a long hard look at what we consider fact. Considering the source, burden of proof and context go a long way towards definitive truth. It isn’t good enough to say “I heard it on TV” or “the Bible says…” We need to understand that history , more precisely “historical accounts”, are often nothing more than one side of the story. We need to stop and ponder the difference between belief and fact. One year has 365 days, 1+1=2; facts beyond a shadow of a doubt – foundations on which we build our view of the world.

Using “fact” in the context of biblical or historical accounts, takes fact from the realm of truth, to that of speculation. History is not without bias; historical accounts often written from verbal folklore, or as a one sided “white washing” of the facts.  Alexander Graham Bell is credited with inventing the telephone – dead wrong, it was Antonio Meucci, a penniless Italian immigrant who couldn’t afford to patent his invention.Biblical “fact” based on a book neither proven or known to be true. We can say for a fact the bible claims Jesus performed 37 miracles, we can’t claim they are proven or true. “Facts” are solidified only when proven to be true.

http://www.zakkeith.com/articles,blogs,forums/who-invented-the-telephone.htm

Statistics aren’t “fact”; statistics are nothing more than a snap shot of one tiny demographic. Statistical “fact” based on responses from a few thousand hand picked respondents.  Editorial news stories aren’t fact, simply the opinion of a network or newscaster. We’re bombarded with “facts” based on nothing more than opinion or public relations firms presenting one side of the story. Fact has little to do with proven truth – fact and truth parted ways some time ago.

I can say for a fact that NOAA scientists reported November 2013 to be the warmest November since records began in 1880. November was also the 37th consecutive year, and 345th consecutive month where global averages of ocean and surface temperatures increased. Compelling facts but not irrefutable proof of global warming according to websites like thewatchers. Fact is open to interpretation – a nasty backlash since parting with truth.

http://thewatchers.adorraeli.com/2013/07/07/global-warming-debunked-nasa-report-verifies-carbon-dioxide-actually-cools-atmosphere/

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/

We all need to ponder the importance of getting our facts straight. Basing our statements of fact on the Bible, history textbooks, worse still, opinionated media or websites, makes us look silly. Bible stories or Scientology beliefs that humans are inhabited by the souls of an alien race from planet Xenu – bear no resemblance to fact; the only true fact being many people believe these stories. Teaching for a fact that Mesopotamia was the cradle of civilization, ignoring Gobekli Tepe, Varna, Puma Punku simply because we lack reasonable explanation, doesn’t change the fact these places blow our mainstream historical timeline out of the water.

We owe it to ourselves; not only remind ourselves of “facts” true meaning, but to expand our children’s minds with unbiased truth – science might not be able to explain, it doesn’t negate scientific truth. Ponder a world if we based our lives on factual truth rather than biblical references, historical hearsay, media opinion or statistical slants. Stop and think how different it would be if our lives were governed by fact based on truth instead of opinion. How simple life would be if a fact was a fact – so deal with it. A world where believe in your God ,or not , was irrelevant when educating our children. A place where “this is what we can back up with archaeological evidence”  or “this confounding truth defies explanation, yet is no less real”. A world where kids grew up with all the “facts”, were allowed to imagine and wonder, form their own ideas and taught to recognize the difference between fact and hogwash.

Fact needs to high tail it back to truth; our world needs to focus on what is proven to be true rather than how we believe, or would like to think the universe is ordered.

Silent Night – A Perspective


It could be that Fukushima got me pondering, it could be this time of year makes me into a marshmallow, or it could be I’m simply tired of stupidity. Anyway I slice it – take two minutes to watch this video clip.

Saucer Talk


On June 24, 1947 pilot Kenneth Arnold was in the air near Mt. Rainier Washington. Suddenly 9 “highly reflective” objects, moving in tight formation at super sonic speeds appeared; trying to make sense of it, Arnold changed his heading and angle of his aircraft – this was an era before jet aircraft – Arnold could think of no explanation. Without warning the objects simply disappeared, as if into thin air. Arnold stated they moved like saucers skipping across water. Newspapers across the country misquoted Arnold – “they looked like saucers skipping across water”. The term “flying saucer” was born. A few months later Roswell New Mexico became a household name – to this day the most controversial “alien cover-up” in history.

It doesn’t take much of a ponder for me to state – I don’t think for one second we’re alone in the universe. That said, and to the disappointment of friends who jokingly refer to me as a card carrying member of the “tin foil hat” club – there are some simple laws of physics needing a little reflection.

First law of physics to consider is that of “inertia”. Isaac Newton said “an object at rest or in motion tends to stay at rest or in motion unless acted on by an outside source”. To put this in perspective; for a fighter pilot travelling near the speed of sound to suddenly stop or make a 90 degree turn – 300 G’s of force would be the resulting death sentence as his internal organs were turned to jelly. Currently the most force a human being can survive – in a pressure suit – before blacking out is 10 G’s.

In the 1950’s the Avrocar designed aircraft mimicked wingless craft described by people reporting UFO’s. The conclusion being – wingless aircraft lacked stability, had poor aero-dynamics, and were not capable of reaching high speeds in earth’s atmosphere.

http://www.airspacemag.com/military-aviation/flying_saucer.html

Almost all reports of UFO sightings claim the aircraft were completely silent. So what happened to the sonic boom? Sonic booms are the result of pressure differences between the front and end of an aircraft as it pushes through the atmosphere. The craft literally push a wave as they travel, resulting in what we’ve come to know as sonic booms. On a basic level we are able to effect “noise cancelling” by broadcasting the negative sound of what we want to cancel – this technology is used in “noise cancelling” headphones – no technology exists to cancel “shock waves”. Many reports claim the craft simply disappeared – this would require “light bending” technology; in essence an electromagnetic charge forcing light to “bend” around an object instead of that light being reflected or refracted.

Lastly, as technology changes, so do descriptions of UFO sightings. Once upon a time every last UFO was saucer shaped – today more and more witnesses describe a craft with wings, similar to “Stealth” fighters. UFO “sightings” appear to keep pace with technology.

Any attempt on my part to fathom what lies beyond the Milky Way are met with mind boggling possibilities – our universe vast beyond tangible points of reference – my gut saying we’re not alone, it simply isn’t possible. My head reminding me of our known laws of physics; laws allowing me to draw one single conclusion – if ET shows up on our doorstep; inertia cancelling, gravity defying, sound cloaking invisibility technology in hand – I hope they have a great sense of humour when I put on my tin foil hat.

Image – www,oom2.com

A Shifting Opinion


It’s no secret I have strong opinions regarding America’s constitutional right to bear arms My Canadian heart and soul lacks any point of reference to allow understanding of the NRA or gun lobbies. My stance is unlikely to budge when it comes to unelected, non-profit basking bullies being allowed to call the shots. Likewise fanatics like George Zimmerman, or the lust some Americans have for semi-automatic weapons. My tendency has always been to dismiss legal gun ownership outright. As a Canadian; our system seems to work just fine – hunting rifles yes, anything else and you have some explaining to do.

At least that was the case before an innocent response by wordpresser xbox2121 got me pondering.

http://xbox2121.wordpress.com/

Last night I wrote about the crash of Canadian cell phones for a number of nail biting hours from coast to coast. Pondering what we would do if an actual disaster took place and how it would be coped with. xbox2121 commented on his ability to survive at his rural property, and all else failing his ability to defend himself using his guns and ammunition. At that moment – a holy crap light bulb went off – I knew he was right.

My family has an emergency plan of sorts; actually more than one but in case of a true breakdown, our destination would be the homes of my brother and/or father 250 miles away. Why? They have guns – even if they are only hunting rifles – they have weapons, ammunition and mad skills on matters of survival without everything I take for granted. The truth is, the average Canadian city dweller wouldn’t last five minutes if bat shit actually hit the fan. Truth be told; if  finding myself in that situation, I would wish we had a gun for protection on that 250 mile march.

This unexpected shift of opinion is a double edged sword. For the first time in my life a small part of me “gets it”, while my head screams in outrage at a perceived questioning of  fundamental core beliefs. I loathe guns, abhor gun violence, detest the NRA and believe America’s gun obsession is out of control – at the same time I really want a rifle at my side if the unthinkable were to happen.

Bottle Drives and Chocolate Almonds


I can’t take credit for this ponder. It took shape after reading a post from one of my facebook friends. At first I laughed; soon irony took hold,  forcing one of those holy crap moments – that split second when clarity replaces mirth, leaving me pondering – why not?

Obviously this isn’t a suggestion that prisoners go door to door with satchels of chocolate almonds. My “why not?” more of a “why not fund education?” Correct me if I’m wrong; isn’t education the single most important thing society can provide? How can we erase ignorance without education; without a basic frame work or point of reference on which decisions and opinions are formed?
I ponder the state of basic schooling in both Canada and the U.S. – it gives me the willies. Teachers backed against a wall – oversized classes, lacking basic supplies, drastic cuts to ESL and special needs assistants, music programs dropped, library resources trickling away when it comes down to new books or paper.
I can’t speak for America but in Canada more and more financial burden is placed on parents.Depending on which side of the tracks you happen to fall, the line between “have” and “have not” schools is unmistakeable. “Public” education is a joke – the punch line is biting us in the ass.
Bizarre, is the only word I can think of to describe our lack of education funding. I can’t wrap my head around our lack of attention to one, if not the most important issue facing society.  The cliché “knowledge is power” should be the battle cry sung from every last roof top. It simply doesn’t make sense to gloss over mankind’s first building block.

Our Greatest Weakness


One of mankind’s greatest strengths, the ability to control and transform our surroundings, is our greatest weakness. Invention, ingenuity and perceived dominance over the natural order, lead to greed and arrogance.Residing comfortably at the top of the food chain, bloated egos feed on a sense of entitlement. Unstoppable appetites for more money, land, or progress are blind to warnings of collapse.

The Anasazi people of ancient America’s south west believed civilization unstoppable. Rising from the floor of Chaco Canyon, this ancient New Mexico metropolis stood as the jewel of North America. A spiritual and cultural centre, surrounded by remarkably engineered roads leading to a magnificent city; elaborate irrigation systems, dwellings rising 5 or 6 stories  along the canyon walls. Exceptional astronomers, farmers and engineers, the Anasazi were masters of their domain. From around 800 AD until 1150 AD they could do no wrong. None saw the extended drought or imagined being unable to feed themselves – the Anasazi vanished.

http://www.exploratorium.edu/chaco/HTML/canyon.html

The Anasazi of Chaco Canyon flourished at the same time as the Maya capital Copan. Arguably one of the greatest, most highly organized civilizations the world has known – cut off at the knees by lack of foresight and regrettable planning. As the population grew, wealthy Maya built palatial homes on fertile soil along rivers; forced to slash and burn surrounding jungle to plant crops, poor soil produced increasingly smaller yields.. Malnutrition and disease made for angry Maya, their last gasp played out in escalating violence and war.

http://thisishonduras.com/Copan_Ruinas.htm

I’m left to ponder how society ignores the past – why is it that mankind believes we are indestructible. We’re no different from the Anasazi or Maya, simply another time and place; equally stubborn, just as oblivious to our actions and ready to pick a fight with anyone who dares get in our way.

Photo credit – http://beautifulplacestovisit.com/ruins/anasazi-ruins-usa/

Just An Idea


I had an idea, far from claiming it original or earth shattering; just a thought crossing my mind. One of those little moments of clarity, akin to that instant when Algebra makes sense or you understand “cereal box French” – for the first time in your life not having to flip to the English side.

I’m still bargaining with “promise” – I assured her I wouldn’t write about religion. Promises born of good intent are common – minuscule snippets of idea arrive when least expected. My apologies for a flippant promise – little ideas will trump every time.

Worn to my last nerve at the thought of defending my “Godless” views, sick of the label Atheist, and steadfast in belief that religion will be the death of us all – I had an idea. Instead of the “Godless” patting themselves on the back for cleverly debunking the faithful; they need to organize and form a recognized “religion”. Before fundamentalist Atheists vow to jump down my throat – hear me out. We pride ourselves on analytical thinking, minds open to possibilities and truth. The truth is – this idea has some merit.

Like it or not our world is based on religious bias. Values such as freedom of speech and religion become contentious when a segment of society is deemed void of religion. The Godless can justify their position till blue in the face – truth is, nothing less than official recognition will level the playing field. If the Godless stepped down from their fortified positions, organized, put their minds to good use and refused to take the bait dangled by fundamentalists mouth pieces – think of all the good we could do.

Wouldn’t irony rule the day if the Godless behaved with dignity, respect, inclusion and charity? How perfect would it be to exhibit virtues so many faithful overlook in their rabid agenda to eradicate the Godless?

No one will win a pissing match of egos, intellect, common sense or values.  I’m tired of the game.  A proposal to change the rules – more accurately a “game changer” set in motion by tactical planning aimed at putting an end to the madness strikes me as a refreshing summer rain.  Forming a “religion” isn’t hypocritical – it’s smart, decisive, and pivotal towards getting on with more important issues. Granted, the Godless might have to choose something to “worship”. I say – suck it up people, look at the big picture. Maybe we could worship “seeds”, the implications could vastly alter genetic modifications if we put our minds to it.

I could care less if my neighbour was waiting for the rapture or a reincarnated soul from the planet Xenu. As long as they don’t shove it down my throat, making the world a better place should come easily. It wouldn’t be difficult to find a qualifying niche. The link below is for the IRS rules regarding tax exempt/ non profit religious status. Following is an excerpt regarding the validity of religious belief. At least give it a ponder – somebody has to take the high road for the good of us all – why not the Godless?

http://www.irs.gov/irm/part7/irm_07-025-003.html

7.25.3.6.4  (02-23-1999)
Validity of Religious Belief

  1. In making a determination whether a religious organization qualifies for exemption under IRC 501(c)(3), the Internal Revenue Service cannot pass judgment on the merits of the applicant’s asserted religious belief.
  2. Accordingly, proof of entitlement to exemption does not include proving the validity of the religious doctrines or beliefs of the applicant or its members. It is the government’s duty to “make room for as wide a variety of beliefs and creeds as the spiritual needs of man deem necessary.” Zorach v. Clausen, 343 U.S. 306 (1952).
  3. This concept is also discussed in U.S. v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78 (1943), in which the Court stated “The Fathers of the Constitution were not unaware of the varied and extreme views of religious sects, of the violence of disagreement among them, and of the lack of any one religious creed on which all men would agree. They fashioned a charter of government which envisaged the widest possible toleration of conflicting views…The religious views espoused by respondents might seem incredible, if not preposterous, to most people. But if those doctrines are subject to trial before a jury charged with finding their truth or falsity, then the same can be done with the religious beliefs of any sect. When the triers of fact undertake that task, they enter a forbidden domain.”

7.25.3.6.5  (02-23-1999)
Religious Belief Defined

  1. The term “religious” as used in IRC 501(c)(3) is not subject to precise definition. The leading interpretation of the term was made by the Supreme Court in United States v. Seeger, 380 U.S. 163 (1965), in which the Court interpreted the phrase “religious training and belief” as used in the Universal Military Training and Service Act, 50 U.S.C. section 456 (j), in determining an individual’s eligibility for exemption from military service on religious grounds. The Court formulated the following definition: “A sincere and meaningful belief which occupies in the life of its possessor a place parallel to that filled by the God of those admittedly qualifying for the exemption comes within the statutory definition.”
  2. The Court elaborated upon the Seeger definition in Welsh v. United States, 398 U.S. 33 (1970), stating that “[i]f an individual deeply and sincerely holds beliefs that are purely ethical or moral in source and content but that nevertheless impose upon him a duty of conscience to refrain from participating in any war at any time, those beliefs certainly occupy in the life of that individual a place parallel to that filled by… God in the lives of traditionally religious persons.” Thus, religious beliefs include many beliefs (for example, Taoism, Buddhism, and Secular Humanism) that do not posit the existence of a Supreme Being in the conventional sense.

7.25.3.6.6  (02-23-1999)
Actions Distinguished from Beliefs

  1. The constitutional protections afforded religious beliefs do not prevent government from regulating conduct or actions when it has a compelling interest to do so. Thus, the First Amendment does not prevent the government from requiring compliance with general laws designed to effectuate an important governmental policy or objective even though compliance may be contrary to an individual’s sincerely-held religious beliefs.
  2. In Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145 (1878), the Court upheld a law passed by Congress that made the practice of polygamy by persons residing in United States territories a crime. The Court interpreted the constitutional prohibition in this way: “Congress was deprived of all legislative power over mere opinion, but was left free to reach actions which were in violation of social duties or subversive of good order.” Finding that polygamy had long been considered an offense against society in all the states of the union, the Court held that the statute under consideration was constitutional and valid as prescribing a rule of action for all those residing in the territories. In holding that religious belief did not except persons from operation of the statute, the Court said: “While they [laws] cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices.”
  3. In Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296 (1940), the Court endorsed Reynolds, stating that “the [First] Amendment embraces two concepts, freedom to believe and freedom to act. The first is absolute but, in the nature of things, the second cannot be.” See also Davis v. Beason, 133 U.S. 33 (1890), and Mormon Church v. United States, 136 U.S. 1 (1890), where the Court grappled with the same issue. While continuing to affirm the right of freedom of religious belief, the Court nevertheless held that legislation for the punishment of actions “inimical to the peace, good order and morals of society” did not violate the First Amendment.
  4. A notable recent application of this doctrine is Bob Jones University v. United States, andGoldsboro Christian Schools v. United States, 461 U.S. 574 (1983), in which the Supreme Court upheld revocation of the exemption under IRC 501(c)(3) of religious and educational institutions on the grounds that its religiously motivated policy forbidding interracial dating violated a fundamental public policy against racial discrimination. The Court concluded that educational institutions that practice racial discrimination based on religious beliefs are not charitable in the generally accepted legal sense and thus do not qualify for federal tax exemption.

The Citadel


Call me a silly Canadian but I’m inclined to think building a fortified town, populated by heavily armed citizens in a remote corner of Idaho borders on treason – America on the other hand calls it “The Citadel”.

According to an article that appeared in the Idaho Statesman in January of this year, convicted felon Christian Kerodin is the promoter behind the “fortress”. Kerodin, convicted in 2004 of extortion, posed on-line as a security expert with knowledge of malls in danger of terrorist attacks. He then demanded $122,500.00 from a mall executive to release the names of an additional 14 targeted malls. Mall executive turned out to be a homeland security officer and Kerodin served 30 months. A pay-pal account set up under his wife’s name is collecting the $208.00 application fee from prospective residents – people of like mind, drooling at the prospect of living behind a wall with enough rounds of ammunition to sink a battleship.

http://www.idahostatesman.com/2013/01/22/2421922/group-taking-citadel-fees-tied.html

According to The Citadel website, this planned community will house between 3,500 – 7000 patriotic families willing to prepare for any emergency, people who are proficient with “the American icon of liberty – the rifle” They promise no home owners association, recycling,city hall, taxes, or credit/background checks.

http://www.iiicitadel.com/

With all due respect – what is wrong with you people? Have you taken leave of your senses, or is this all a big joke? The fact that this man was even given the time of day by – surprise, surprise – Glen Beck makes my blood boil.  Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness doesn’t translate into convicted felons promoting hate, fear, and weapon caches. Holy crap America; you’re losing your grip. Snap out of it.