Putting on the heavy band uniform … dreading the heat … trying to walk straight while keeping my eyes focused on the music clipped to my trombone … playing the National Emblem, blaring out the notes … marching to the cemetery and then to the memorial plaque nestled under St. Stephen’s … feeling the heat … the home stretch, from the Common down South Main Street to the American Legion … waiting patiently in line with all the children of the town to get our cup of Hood ice cream … the little wooden spoon … licking the top clean.
May 12, 2015
World leaders recently celebrated the 70th anniversary of the surrender of Germany. WWII is often praised as the “Good War.” Some historians might question that. Noble objectives to save Europe got lost in the fog of war. We started out to save Poland, only to let it (and most of Eastern Europe) get gobbled up by Russia. Both sides made killing civilians part of the battle plan. Millions more civilians died than military, entire cities burned to the ground in the name of saving civilization. Even then, the morality of this was questioned. Our generation should be doing the same.
May 1, 2015
Climate change proponents are often accused of using scare tactics. Maybe there’s some truth to that. In a single cubic foot of earth there are billions of living things, so okay, we aren’t likely to kill the planet. But we are changing the planet. What began as a cheap source of energy has fired up a whole chain reaction of unintended consequences. We know now what we didn’t know then. Rapidly dumping billions of tons of carbon emissions into the air is a climate changer. Maybe we won’t kill the planet, but we’re definitely inflicting a lot of collateral damage.
April 29, 2015
Social injustice does not justify looting and burning. Looting and burning do not justify ignoring social injustice. Too many young people have no hope for meaningful work. Too many young people have been let down by an educational system that fails to educate. Too many young people are stereotyped as potential perps instead of as individuals with potential. Too many young people can’t get jobs because their youthful indiscretions are etched in digital stone. And way too many young people are raised by parents whose lives are controlled by their addictions. This is the life they must face every day.
April 23, 2015
There was a day when if you wanted to buy a house or build a retirement nest egg, you saved for it. Hardly anyone in the middle class invested in the stock market. That was for the Wall Street sharpies. Our money was safe in the banks, earning interest. Somewhere in the 80s it started changing. Fixed annuities became a thing of the past. So have interest rates on savings. The Fed’s Zero Interest Rate Policy (ZIRP) has made saving a joke. Nothing hurts the average American more, but it never gets discussed. Why aren’t we raising hell about this?
April 14, 2015
Ropes are multiple strands of hemp coiled around each other. DNA consists of two nucleotide strands coiled around each other. To prevent fraying in a rope, the ends are wrapped around with cording. To prevent fraying in DNA, the strands are capped with long sequences of non-functioning DNA called telomeres. Eventually any rope frays, and so does DNA. Each replication shortens the telomeres until the cell can no longer replicate itself, eventually resulting in cell death. Telomere shortening keeps cells from turning cancerous. It’s also what keeps us from living forever. You could call it the ultimate twist of fate.
April 8, 2015
Walking along a beach, watching the waves roll in as they have done for millions of years, our time here does indeed seem short. But if you think of each generation as a single wave washing up against the shoreline, then you can begin to sense our cumulative impact. Unfortunately, in geologic terms we are not waves gently lapping up against the shoreline. We are a sudden and powerful tsunami, a cataclysmic tidal wave washing away everything in its path, forcing every living thing to either flee to higher ground or perish. And our human wave has yet to peak.