Random Thoughts II
I feel sort of like Dug the Talking Dog from the movie "Up". Like Dug who was easily distracted by squirrels, I'm having trouble focusing on only one thing after the end of the school year because my brain is moving at 90 mph in 120 different directions. So here are a few random and unrelated thoughts.
Last year President Obama vetoed a bill co-sponsored by fellow Democrat Elijah Cummings that would have reduced former presidents' pensions if they accepted at least $400,000 in income after leaving office. So a president would lose a portion of his pension if he accepted $400,000 of outside income. Remember... he vetoed that bill. Now president Obama has accepted an offer by Wall Street investment firm Cantor Fitzgerald to give a speech for...you guessed it: $400,000. This in spite of the fact that he and his wife Michelle have also reportedly signed a deal to write their memoirs with an advance of more than $60 million. He really doesn't need that $400,000. Hypocrisy doesn't favor one party more than the other. Didn't President Obama criticize Wall Street for the last eight years?
The Republican House passed a repeal of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) after dozens of failed attempts. I don't think the Senate will pass it but I've given up trying to predict the government's actions. It appears the revised plan would harm the voters who helped elect President Trump and help the very wealthy. I obviously hope this is incorrect. Here is a quick comparison of the plans. Predicting the impact of legislation is almost impossible but the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office believed that the bill as originally introduced in March would leave an additional 24 million people uninsured within the next ten years. The House would not wait for the CBO's assessment of the current plan before voting on it.
On the same day the House voted to repeal Obamacare President Trump praised Australia's healthcare system, telling the Australian Prime Minister that "you have better healthcare than we do". Well, Australia has universal healthcare guaranteed by the government so nobody there goes without medical care.
I openly admit that I'm addicted to coffee, professional tennis (Ok, I'm actually addicted to most sports other than golf and curling), The Chef's Table on Netflix, chocolate, and the gym.
One of the most frightening potential consequences of our warming planet is that the currently melting permafrost may contain bacteria and viruses to which humans have not been exposed in thousands of years and against which current antibiotics and other drugs would likely be useless. The temperature in the Arctic circle is rising three times faster than on the rest of the planet, so we may find out fairly soon whether that threat is real.
I need to stop reading about stories such as that. .
I really don't care about much celebrity news. I think its pretty much a waste of time but our culture seems obsessed with why Brad and What's Her Name divorced, whether What's His Name was abducted by aliens in an Iowa corn field, or whether that dude who plays baseball cheats on his wife. But show me a video of a parrot singing Margaritaville or baby goats chasing each other and you have my undivided attention. The same is true of ANY baby pictures or videos.
At the end of World War II the human knowledge base, the totality of what we know, was doubling every 25 years. And now by some estimates human knowledge is doubling every twelve or thirteen months and IBM estimates that soon our knowledge base will double EVERY TWELVE HOURS because of the development of faster processing and artificial intelligence. If we could harness and use all that information for only constructive purposes our potential to cure diseases, solve problems such as poverty and environmental decline, and ability to reach the stars should be easily realized. It's too bad our artificial divisions (religion, ethnicity, income, greed, etc.) often sidetrack that opportunity.
A while back I started trying to write down the name of every single human I've ever met beginning with those who had the greatest impact on my life. I gave up after several pages because, as I said earlier, my mind tends to run off in multiple directions. Still, it made me realize that every human with whom I've ever come into contact has had an impact on my life. I appreciate them all, even those with whom contact was unpleasant.
In early March wildfires consumed large portions of the American Midwest. The fires killed at least seven people and thousands of cows and other livestock, led to the endangerment of some species of birds, scorched several million acres, and led to the evacuation of countless homeowners. Did you hear about that? I think the media was too busy reporting on whether What's Her Name was wearing a new shade of lip gloss or What's His Name bought a new mansion on Venus.
In 2015 about 43 million Americans lived in poverty and 42 million lived in a condition of food insecurity (not knowing about their next day's meals). Globally about 700 million people are hungry. It is estimated that as much as 1/3 of all food produced throughout the world goes to waste. This is disheartening.
I think I need a new hobby to keep me from watching the news.