Freeing the Elephants

We hear this morning that Barnum and Bailey’s Circus will phase out the use of elephants in the circus.  Further, they are promising to let the elephants they own live out their lives in a spacious park in Florida.


Bravo, Barnum and Bailey’s Circus.  I will now take my grandchildren to your circus the next time you are in my area.

Now about those seals and big cats…



An Animal Lover

Old Plans Die Hard, so Recognize Your New Dreams and be Flexible

Somewhere inside of us is a child with desires, hopes and dreams. 

We may have seized upon some detail in the past and made that goal our over-riding desire.  Such goals can inspire us to great achievements over the course of our lives.

Enlightened humans spend years building a life plan, starting with childhood daydreaming and progressing for whole lives.  We make plans and go over them time and again, reinforcing our desire to accomplish early goals and eventually our “bucket list”.

Few people ever have the foreknowledge required to know what is best until their future unfolds.  Despite our noble ambitions and worthy goals, sometimes life events can completely disrupt your carefully-made plans.  Over our lifetime, accomplishments which we might have valued highly in our youth really are no longer as desirable.  Yet, many people will continue to follow their old plan, even when that plan no longer serves us well.

Crystalized constructs of yesterday’s thought

We become so focused on achieving our stated goals that we neglect to see if those goals are still as important to us as they once were.   We need to reassess and refocus as our needs evolve.  We need to get past the crystalized constructs of yesterday’s thoughts. We must validate our next moves with today’s measuring stick, not yesterday’s aging metric.

We resist reassessing our goals, it’s our psychological inertia.  We have invested so strongly in our life-plan that we can not bear to change course, because we believe it amounts to admitting defeat.  But that child which wove your ancient fantasy may no longer really desire the same things.  Even if we do attain those goals, they might not satisfy our true desire.

Listen to your inner child

Our goals change as we age, and our life-plan needs to be allowed to evolve.  All too often, our strength of character manifests as stubbornness, and we refuse to abandon obsolete goals because we have a life-long investment in those dreams.

But, if we can look into ourselves and talk to that inner child, we might find that we are chasing a storybook ending which we imagined all those years ago, but which no longer has any real impact.

So, as you move along life’s path, take care to reassess your current direction.  Our original aspirations may not be as meaningful today as they once were.

Listen to your inner child and ask yourself, “what do I want NOW?” and accept that changing course to arrive at your ideal destination  is better than stubbornly persisting in an old script that may no longer arouse your inner soul fire.

The wise speak from the grave, but the fools still do not choose to listen.

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it” – Aristotle

I have long observed that people with open minds discover more truth because they do not refuse to think about things they have already decided upon.  If you have an accepted belief and some evidence contradicts your belief, it is a rare person who can suspend their already-decided-upon belief to consider the new evidence.

Inferior minds suppress evidence that does not fit their world view.  Its the adult equivalent of children plugging their ears to show they are not listening.

Aristotle is rarely quoted in this era, but he still has lessons to impart to those who would choose be wiser.

Is it better to deny truth to maintain your faith?  Or should we deny faith and examine evidence and reach a newer understanding.

Bombogenesis: is it a natural result of unnatural climate change, mostly caused by man-made greenhouse gasses? Or another scientist hoax?

Any housewife who has boiled water can understand the clear difference between a simmer and a boil.  Simmers create vertical columns of convection and the water moves upward in a straight line and the water circulation is a gentle, orderly flow.  Add even a tenth of a degree and it becomes a boil, with violent swirls of turbulent water erupting all over the place.

Warmer air and water are more fluid.  This means more water in the air, and more wind.  Well, when those extra violent water-laden clouds get whipped up by the faster jet stream, that moisture arrives in unexpected places.

The sad irony is all these climate change deniers are willfully ignoring the truth that will kill their descendants.

Its that last one tenth of a degree, people.

That’s the part we can change.  If we reduce greenhouse gases we can save life on Earth.

Or you can make a lot of money and know your great grandchildren will all be smothered and starved.

News Media! Stop saying “Islamic terrorist” and instead say anti-islamic terrorist.

Real Muslims are not supporting the brutes who are committing genocide and worse in Africa, the Middle East, and the rest.

Calling them “Muslim” anything helps them achieve credibility in their home lands.  They are Un-Islamic terrorists.

When the ISIL Puritans assault a town they kill the men, rape the women and enslave the children.  They are hated by the populations they conquer.  When the West gives these punks television time it helps the thugs to recruit.

In short, quit sensationalizing acts of inhumanity.  Let’s spend ten minutes finding solutions, not ten minutes poking insults at the terrorists that end up giving them an aura of meaningfulness.  Our media is doing recruiting for the terrorists.  Editors:  limit ISIS atrocities coverage and always color the ISIS as murder gangs stealing from the people.

Let’s cover the stories the enemies hate:  Human rights, right to free speech, rights to study for boys and girls.  Human rights for all women.  Show the billions of true Muslims who observe the peace taught by the true schools.

ISIL is about one Muslim in 5000000 or so.  That’s why they have to brutalize their conquered communities.

Legislators score cheap victory by making citizens suffer. IS there a legislator who you want to read this??? Then Pass it on!

cropped-we_the_people_american_map.jpgDear Legislator:

My wife was in a traffic accident in 2003 and has lived with terrible pain every day.  She is on painkillers and she is careful to just take as few as possible to get through the day.  I have often seen her hold back tears because the painkillers are not strong enough.  She is strong-willed and she is very careful to not take as much as she could, because she fears becoming dependent on the painkillers.

Leg Brace II

She has been taking synthetic codeine at a relatively high dose for eleven years now, and has managed to not fall prey to overuse.  She has terrible leg pain, and the doctors know her case well, and her use of the painkillers is well monitored by her doctors.  It is very difficult to get her and the wheelchair out of the house.  We try to schedule medical and dental visits to minimize the number of times we have to get her into the car to go out.The+Dead+KIA+2

Now, you have passed a bill preventing out normal physicians from prescribing her medicine.  Now, she has to go see a doctor far away so he can validate her need for her medicine.  This is painful and very inconvenient.  I do not understand why legitimate patients like my wife are being punished for the behavior of others.

Yes, we understand that the Legislature is trying to save the kids who abuse medicine.  We understand that you want to minimize the deaths of the few hundred people who overdose each year in our state.Leg Brace IIa

But in saving those few hundred, you have punished hundreds of thousands of innocent citizens.  In your haste to save a few dozen drug abusers, you have inflicted needless pain and suffering on many thousands Illinoisans.

Please rewrite the law so that innocent people who need their medicine are not punished in your attempt to modify the behavior of the fools who abuse drugs.

Leg Brace IIv

The measure that was passed that went into effect this month is simplistic and will never achieve your goal of ridding our state of drug users.  What you have done is make these patients many who are senior citizens more depressed by making them suffer more pain.  I fear there are thousands, who are crying in pain every morning, every night.

Every time you eat please remember the many thousands of innocent people who are crying for pain, at that very moment.  Before your law, these people has a level of control over their pain.  You have taken their hope away.


Please use your power to ease the pain of your constituents, not increase it.  The measure probably looked good for you legislators, so you can posture that you are hard on crime and drug use.  But, despite your good intent, you have imposed a painful sentence on the people who elected you to protect them.

Please fix this law.

My wife, and the thousands of others who depend on pain killers deserve better from you.  I have been pricing drugs on the black market and to mi great surprise, street heroin is cheaper than buying medicine from the hospitals and pharmacies.  The downside, is you never know what strength the next does will be, or what other substances have been added to stretch the drug for more sales.


So don’t make Grandma and Grandpa criminals for wanting to not live their final years in pain.  Allow people with self control who take their medicine properly to have the drugs they need. Drugs they had legally before your meddling legislation.

Twin Pillars of Civilization

It has been said that if a man is not an idealist at twenty he has no heart, and if he is not a pragmatist at forty he has no brain.

I tried to find the origin of the quote but it seems that this saying has been around a long time.

“The man who is not a socialist at twenty has no heart, but if he is still a socialist at forty he has no head.” –Aristide Briand

“Any man who is not a communist at the age of twenty is a fool. Any man who is still a communist at the age of thirty is an even bigger fool.”  George Bernard Shaw

John Adams, the President, is quoted in Thomas Jefferson’s Journal, Jan. 1799 as saying “A boy of fifteen who is not a democrat is good for nothing, and he is no better who is a democrat at twenty.”

Francois Guisot, a French monarchist statesman under Louis Philippe is recorded as saying “Not to be a republican at twenty is proof of want of heart; to be one at thirty is proof of want of head.” -Francois Guisot (1787-1874)

Another version is credited to Georges Clemenceau (1841-1929) “Not to be a socialist at twenty is proof of want of heart;
to be one at thirty is proof of want of head.”

So we have evidence that some pretty serious thinkers considered liberalism and conservatism as both being part of the systems that make the world more democratic and therefore, more stable for citizens.

For many years in America, there has been a tug-of-war between liberals and conservatives as to how the nation should be managed.

For a long time, I like many others believed there could be only one.  We could have communism or we could have capitalism.  Any other choice is a move away from democracy.

Many people see the wealth of the world and want a slice of the pie.  Of these, many think they are owed that slice and demand benefits from society at large.  Others, who have worked hard for many years, have finally attained a measure of comfort and demand that their benefits are theirs solely because they succeeded, and the prize is theirs.

Both of these views, pursued to a final conclusion, end up destroying the economy and ultimately the nation.

Each side is correct about a part of the puzzle, but neither side is completely correct.  As long as the objectives are defined as the absolute victory of one philosophy over the other, we are destined to fail.

When the rich, whether individuals or corporations, get all the wealth, people revolt and the whole economy ends up in shambles and the wealthy are often held to blame (see Revolution, French).

When the poor demand all the wealth, the people who are motivated by greed are no longer allowed to operate the systems of the economy that lead to wealth creation, and the economy collapses.  (See Revolution, Boxer)

It does not take a lot of brilliance to realize that a perfect system must exist somewhere between communism and capitalism.

It is the balance between wealth generation and maintaining the well-being of our poor and dependents that leads to a democracy where people can rise in wealth from poor to middle class, yet the wealthiest get to keep their heads by paying their fair share of the taxes.

So stable government comes about when both capitalism and communism are both encouraged.

Capitalist free markets can generate a lot of wealth, but a few individuals can not concentrate too much of the world wealth or the system that makes them wealthy falls when the peasants go for the torches and pitchforks.

So, marvel at the miracle of democracy, a stable lintel based upon the twin pillars of civilization, free market capitalism for the rich, and social safety nets for the poor and disadvantaged.

Stability then comes not from achieving a victory of one system over the other, it comes from the merger of the two ideologies, in a stable society where the people know they have a fair chance to prosper, and for the wealthy to have a fair chance of keeping their heads.

In Memory of Life on Earth

A large spinning object in space has very little friction, but is affected by gravity. The sun and moon both play a role in sapping off a tiny bit of the Earth’s rotational inertia every year. Still, it will be many millennia before that braking mechanism will affect the climate in any significant way.

So, a potential “uneven melting” should have very little result. The landmasses of Earth are like the weights on an automobile tire. The Earth has found a balance between tidal forces from space and gravity. Inertia has squeezed the planet into a slightly fat sphere, flattened at the poles by the rotational forces.

Now, if the Arctic or Antarctic completely melts, the resulting water weight will be evenly distributed around the equator. However, Antarctica and Greenland are weights pulling the center of gravity a slight bit.

When that ice completely melts (or finds its way to the ocean) the water level goes up all over the planet but the ice depth in those two location is removed from the land masses which lightens their load, and at that point, that land should rise slightly.

Now, who can really say which of these never-before-observed phenomena will be the most detrimental to life on Earth? What matters is the tiny bit that mankind’s industrial activity is causing. That is the part that a) nature never had to deal with before and b)it is the only part that we can control at all.

We can not change gravity or objects in space or the heat rate of the sun or the relative activity of volcanoes. All we can do is generate more or less greenhouse gases.

So, regardless of who or what is to blame, the fact remains that modifying human industrial activity is our best (and only) option. Once you take politics out of it, it becomes an equation of how wealthy is this generation going to be versus how many generations there ever will be.

American Fossils

Avoid Extinction! Fossil Fuels, Just Say No!

I suspect our grandchildren will be very unhappy at our current choices. Burning fossil fuels is speeding up the end of life on planet Earth.

All we can do is speed up or slow down the process by how much more fossil fuels we put into our air.

Empathy for Psychopaths

The factors that lead to our mental state are secondary to genetic inheritance.  Some people, from birth, form strange modes of thought in their neural formative stages.  These may be affected by events before birth.
The mother’s emotional and physical states can affect the development of the brain in a forming fetus.
While claims of alcohol and drug use affecting a developing fetus are probably overstated, there is a high probability that these could be a factor.
So, the genetic makeup gives a foundation for the developing brain.  Any errors or abnormalities here will of course affect everything that comes after.
The neo-natal environment then becomes a factor.  Events in utero mark the cell growth of the neurons that will form a baby brain.
The birth process itself can introduce changes to the brain, usually by physical damage from contractions or manual extraction, but also lack of oxygen.
Once born, the brain must go through several development steps.  Brains, like fingerprints, are unique and are created in billions of tiny steps.  Each forming brain has to find the neurons that are sensation, and figure out where those sensations are on a map formed by experience.
Each subsequent experience molds the neural pathways, and billions of potential paths are lost as the growing brain adapts to use the experience to organize thoughts and feelings into systems or behavior.
After all of these stages, some brains discover a way to express feelings and others wall those sections off and never develop those neural processes.
Some of these individuals will be so disconnected from emotion that they become a slave to the desires of the pure, unfiltered impulses of the animal body we inhabit.
Once the brain adopts a pattern, it tends to keep that pattern.  So once the development moves to extreme self-involvement, it reinforces the prior tendencies to be isolated and hostile.
If this is you, then your ability to be empathic is damaged.  You must consciously create the behaviors that most people would exhibit normally.  We must teach ourselves to observe social conventions, to be aware and respond to the subtle signals that ordinary humans intuitively react to.  We must by force of will and intellect, emulate a normal functioning human.
Lastly, we have to form deliberate patterns of behavior to reassure the rest of the world that we fit in.  It is by controlling our desire impulses that we can create successful behaviors that increase our acceptance in groups, and by contributing to society at large that we can derive personal satisfaction and a sense of our positive self respect.
We who cannot love others also cannot love ourselves.  Deliberately inventing a sense of purpose and the resulting feeling of accomplishment will, over time, become a motive that will help bridge the gaps in our lives.

Guitar wood and sound quality. Choose the right kind of guitar for acoustic players.

Greg Bennett Regency guitar

Laminate back and sides increases the playability of an acoustic guitar by reducing reflected vibration that leeches some of the mechanical energy from the soundboard, reducing sound. Shown: Greg Bennett Regency 12 with Nato laminate back and sides.

I’ve just come to an understanding that an Ovangkol guitar is very similar to Rosewood. Could this be a very close equal to the Brazilian Rosewood Guitars? Would anybody notice the difference?



Epiphone AJ-18S-LH with solid spruce top

Flexible wood with long, equal ring spacing amplify the sound as it transfers from the strings through the bridge. Shown: Epiphone AJ-18S LH with solid spruce top, rosewood bridge..

Like violins, guitars are a mechanically-driven vibration amplifiers. The top is the soundboard, and the tension of the strings to the bridge drives the energy from the vibrating strings into the soundboard. It is the soundboard that compresses air inside the body cavity, and the sides and back’s job is to not vibrate, but to contain the sound pressure.

Fender Kingman guitar

Custom and limited edition guitars sometimes feature rarer woods for the back and sides. Shown: Fender “Elvis Presley Clambake” guitar with Wildwood (tinted beech wood) rarity owned by me.

Thus, while flexibility is good for the top wood, you want rigidity for the sides and back.
While a denser or thicker wood would bring the resonance down towards the bass end, the effect is very slight. The construction techniques of the back and sides affect the sound far more than the material.

Epiphone mahogany back

Mahogany or other hard, dense wood, is preferred for back and sides. Shown: Epiphone Vintage Himmingbird, Mahagony laminate.

We observe that the light vibrant woods are great for the top, while heavy, denser woods serve best as back and top. The hardest woods, ebony, maple, walnut or rosewood, is best for the non-vibrating parts, such as the fingerboard and the bridge.

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