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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

CAN THE LIBERTARIAN PARTY MAKE A DIFFERENCE THIS YEAR?


Can the Libertarian Party make a difference this year?  YES!!!  A poll conducted in March showed the following:
  • Hillary Clinton    42%
  • Donald Trump    34%
  • Gary Johnson 11% (bottom right)
Add 34 and 11 and you get 45%, which would beat 42%.  Of course, all of the 11% would not go to Trump.  But this  survey came a couple of months before the rousing Libertarian Party Convention this past week in Florida.  People are generally ticked off about the state of politics today and the masses are idiotic enough to vote on a whim for someone like a Libertarian.

Bet you don't know beans (much) about the Libertarian Party?  At the beginning, Libertarian won out over New Liberty, and the first official slogan was "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.  Thus, TANSTAAFL.

I remember when I first started teaching at the University of Hawaii in 1972 and played tennis with a Bank of Hawaii official.  His name was Sam Slom.  He was a Libertarian.  Still is, but also officially a Republican, and the only one in the Hawaii State Senate.

In a weird way, Libertarians are much like extreme Conservatives and Ultra-liberal Democrats:
  • repeal the income tax and dissolve the Internal Revenue Service
  • allow people to opt out of Social Security
  • support same-sex marriage and LGBT rights
  • eliminate social welfare system
  • end the prohibition of illegal drugs
  • pro-gun rights
  • anti-war
  • limited government
  • really really free market
  • anti-minimum wage
  • permanent shutdown of the U.S. public school system...let the free market prevail for education
  • let the free market preserve the environment because people are responsible and sensible
  • hate Obama-care
  • control immigration
  • legalize polygamy, prostitution, gambling, pornography, etc.
  • mixed on abortion
The Libertarian Party likes animal symbols.  

What was news to me, today, is that 1972 was the year of the initial Libertarian Party Convention.  I thought they had been around since the days of muskets and patriots.  In 1980 David Koch, a chemical engineer, was the Libertarian Party's vice-presidential candidate.  He and his brother Charles founded Koch Industries and they plan to contribute almost a billion dollars this year to prevent a Hillary Clinton presidency.  Interestingly enough, the Koch brothers HATE Donald Trump!

In 1988 the Libertarian Party Presidential nominee was Ron Paul, an obsterician from Duke University, who served 24 years in the House of Representatives as a Republican.  My claim to fame is that at one time I was beating Paul in a U.S. News and World Report Debate Club competition on military spending.  In a poll released just before the Libertarian gathering, Ron Paul actually received a higher favorability rating than Johnson.  However, Paul chose not be considered.

The Libertarian Party Presidential candidate in 2012 was Gary Johnson, as he will again be this year, with former Massachusetts governor William Weld as the running mate.  Johnson was the Republican governor of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003.  Among his current activities is CEO of Cannabis Sativa, which aims to sell marijuana in those states allowing it.

Okay, so about the Libertarian Party making a difference this year.  First, they have no chance of getting Johnson elected President.  However, you'll note that ALL the well-known Libertarians above were former Republicans.  Even Mary Matalin (for GOP strategist and wife of Democratic consultant James Carville) recently converted.


It is becoming clear that the Republican party is fragmenting, and the Libertarian Party could be that fatal catalyst.  However, one redeeming virtue for Republicans is that if a whole bunch of Republicans pull a Matlin, and many of them show up to vote for Johnson, they will also help preserve Republican control of the U.S. Congress.  But Libertarians are among the dozen reasons for Trump losing in a landslide.

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Monday, May 30, 2016

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BETWEEN MEMORIAL DAY AND VETERANS DAY?

The United States has eight Federal Public Holidays.  Two honor those who served in our military:  

  • Veterans Day always occurs on November 11--because the Armistice with Germany began on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918--and recognizes all who served in our armed services.  The name was changed to Veterans Day in 1954.
  • Memorial Day remembers those who died while serving in our armed forces.  Originally called Decoration Day after the Civil War in 1868, this holiday is now always on the final Monday in May, and marks the start of summer vacation, like Labor Day marks the end.
I served, but managed to avoid being sent to Vietnam by pure luck, which is a story for another day.  While I have become a peace advocate (five years ago my HuffPo provided a 10% Simple Solution for Peace), I certainly can appreciate the worthiness of holidays dedicated to the end of war and for those who sacrificed themselves for freedom at the peak of their lives. It is a shame that we are not doing everything we can for wounded veterans. 

War is, indeed, hell.  Just during World War II 300,000 Americans and 15 million soldiers died on the battlefield.  However, another 58 million were killed, including civilians.  It was worse for the country in our own Civil War, as the death total was at least 600,000, and probably 750,000.  In all American wars, 1.2 million died and 42 million served.  However, during this period, 82 million were killed, mostly civilians.  According to Wikipedia, in all our wars from 1775, U. S. deaths totaled 1,354,554+, wounded 1,498,237" and missing 40,917+.  Roughly, 2% who ever served died during active duty.

You can go to all my previous postings and learn a few things more about Memorial Day.  As somber as this day might be, PBS, for the 27th year, carried a wet Memorial Day Concert from the National Mall in tribute to our military last night.  Co-hosted by Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise, the show featured  the Beach Boys, Renee Fleming, current American Idol winner Trent Harmon, and a long list of entertainers and dignitaries.  You want to feel patriotic?  Watch the re-run, although you can also CLICK on this site to watch the whole program on your computer.  Apparently, though, you will need to fast forward just about 20 minutes.



I thought I'd have my usual bento lunch at Magic Island.  Then, it occurred to me that parking might be a problem,  as the Lantern Floating Hawaii Ceremony was scheduled for tonight, so I instead went to 53 By the Sea.  Last year a 15 Craigside lunch outing was to this restaurant.

What was startling was the view of Diamond Head, left eye (top) versus right eye (bottom, after cataract surgery three days ago):


My right eye is now dominating, so my left eye feels ignored.  My regular photochromic/progressive glasses now do not work too well, so I bought a pair of dark glasses for driving.  Hopefully, in a couple of weeks the left will gain equality.  I should comment that those lanterns will be floated from a point just left of those coconut trees in the background.  But I'm here for lunch:



Escargot, Cajun-style, more reminiscent of Louisiana cuisine, rather than Reunion in the Indian Ocean, where the Cajun food was almost abominable.  The vegetable tempura was a nice balance.  The wine was Santa Margherita rose.  I ended with a cappuccino.



The view 30 degrees to the left is of Kakaako:


I grew up right in the middle of all those high rises.  Needless to say, 60 years ago, the tallest building near my home had two floors.

Here are some photos from Lantern Floating Hawaii Ceremony 2016:



The ceremony concluded with a group singing of Hawaii Aloha.



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Sunday, May 29, 2016

WHY IT MAKES SENSE TO BELIEVE IN HEAVEN

Earlier this month, on a Sunday, of course, my posting on SOON AFTER THE BEGINNING, MAN CREATED GOD, was one of my most read blogs of the year.  Also, on that day this site reached one million viewers.

It's Sunday again, so I thought I'd reach for the opposite extreme in my prefrontal cortex and suggest that logic argues for belief in something like an afterlife.  Richard Dawkins and most of the subscribers of Free Inquiry would not be pleased.  But the germ of reasoning that Heaven remains in my thoughts is that there could well be psychological value to believing, for the other fearsome option is eternal gloom.

There is, of course, Blaise Pascal's Wager:

Pascal argues that a rational person should live as though God exists and seek to believe in God. If God does not actually exist, such a person will have only a finite loss (some pleasures, luxury, etc.), whereas they stand to receive infinite gains (as represented by eternity in Heaven) and avoid infinite losses (eternity in Hell).[2]

At this point I have not yet advanced to the stage where I actually can believe in a God, which just about dooms me from anything like an afterlife, but I continue to search.

Here is the wager itself:

  1. God is, or God is not. Reason cannot decide between the two alternatives.
  2. A Game is being played... where heads or tails will turn up.
  3. You must wager (it is not optional).
  4. Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing.
  5. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is. (...) There is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite. And so our proposition is of infinite force, when there is the finite to stake in a game where there are equal risks of gain and of loss, and the infinite to gain.
  6. But some cannot believe. They should then 'at least learn your inability to believe...' and 'Endeavour then to convince' themselves.

  • There are something like 4200 religions, so if you pick the wrong one, 4199 Gods will be pissed, and you won't get into their Heaven.  Just be smart about this and pick the right one.
  • If you accept Pascal's Wager, take a look at the Atheist's Wager, which is funny with valid points.
  • Come on, do you really think God is that dumb as to be fooled by your bet-hedging?
  • If you presently don't believe, no way will you suddenly believe because of Pascal's Wager.
Many Muslim terrorists have faith that killing heathens will get them, and their family, into a landscape of milk and honey, plus, just for you, 72 virgins, or white raisins, depending on which interpretation.

Here is the world breakdown, according to the Ipsos Social Research Institute:
  • About half of the world believe in an afterlife.
  • A quarter think they will just cease to exist.
  • Another quarter, not sure.
Americans, however, are really religious:


So what will Heaven be like?

About 90% say peaceful and happy, while only 4% believe Heaven will be boring.  Interestingly enough, only 14% think they will have sexual relations with their spouse.  But, of course, these are just human feelings having no link to reality, which might be nonexistent.

In the meantime, my analysis of the below is beginning to convince me that belief, per se, might not actually be necessary to gain access:


I haven't quite made the argument for why it makes sense to believe in Heaven.  Here are a few reasons to believe:
  • Most people around you will less likely look upon you as some kind of untrustworthy malcontent.
  • An attitude of belief might well diminish the frightening feelings of eternal gloom upon death.
  • There must be something to why more believe in Heaven than not
  • I could be wrong.
Yes, weak, but I'll keep working on the above list.  In the meantime, a few friends are praying for me and maybe that will ultimately save me.  For if not eternal gloom, it could get worse.

  
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Saturday, May 28, 2016

MY CATARACT SURGERY

Cataracts cause sixty percent of blindness in parts of Africa and South America.  While cataracts can affect younger people, more than 50% of those 80 and older have this ailment.  Cataracts are a clouding of the eye lens leading to decreases in vision.  A cloudy lens cannot focus properly.  You get cataracts from genetics, sunlight, smoking and alcohol.  Interesting, though, that this report indicates one should wear sunglasses and not smoke to prevent cataracts.  No mention of don't drink alcohol, mostly because this evidence is sketchy.

Yesterday I underwent cataract surgery on my right eye.  Initially, my operation was supposed to occur at 1:30 PM, so I was told not to eat anything after 7PM the night before.  The whole process can easily take until 4 PM, so that would be 21 hours of abstinence.  My body does not tolerate hunger.  If I miss a lunch (after having breakfast) my blood pressure can jump to 190/110.  If I miss both breakfast and lunch, who knows what can happen, and it can't be good.

Thus, I got a concession.  I could have breakfast before 7AM if the surgery was moved to 2:30 PM.  I  thus had an enormous breakfast and my blood pressure seemed to stay below 150/80 during the entire period in the Surgery Center.  I can see not eating if one were to be under deep anesthesia for open heart surgery.  But a 20-minute cataract surgery where you are always conscious?  That, to me, is being overly conservative.

I showed up at 1PM, had a lot of forms to fill to mostly protected them so that  I would have difficulty suing anyone if the worst happened.  I was accompanied to a dressing room where I had to remove all my top clothing to wear one of those hospital gowns that ties in the back.  I was then taken to a room where they gave me more eye drops than I've ever had in my life.  I counted 27, but mostly because my pupil could not be dilated to a certain required size.

After a while, they gave up on the eyedrops and walked me into the operation room, where Dr. Jon Portis (I might add that he has been a Best Doctor in Hawaii for many, many years now) did his thing.  The surgical tool used today is a femtosecond (10 to the minus 12 time length the laser is on, where a nanosecond is only ten to the minus 9).  This system has been used on half a million procedures used by 3500 surgeons in 67 countries.

He said that my cataract was much worse than anticipated, but was able to overcome all hurdles to insert an AcrySofToric IOL, which can reduce astigmatism, while correcting distance vision.  I told him that I wouldn't mind using reading glasses, but wanted to see my ball bouncing on a green 150 yards away.  This lens has been inserted into 25 million eyes.

This surgery is supposed to be routine, but my condition required some extra attention.  There was no pain as such, except for a tiny amount of piercing discomfort a couple of times.  After surgery, I walked out to be served Passion Orange Guava juice and peanut butter something.  There was definite eye irritation, close to having an eyelash in the eye.

I had to wear an eye shield until the next day.  You would think with all the advances in medical technology something better than scotch tape pieces would be used to position the shield over my eye.  Taking it off was a royal pain.  Anyway, I caught a cab home,  ate a large lunch with no alcohol (they said not to) and went to sleep at 3PM.  I woke up at 7PM, and the eye discomfort was gone.  After a couple of hours not doing much, I went back to bed and had a total of 13 hours sleep.

Felt great, had a cereal with milk, and caught a bus to see Dr. Portis.  He said all looked well and indicated my eye test showed accelerated recovery.  He indicated I could re-start golf anytime I wanted.  One thing is obvious:  the blacks are black and the whites are not yellowish.  I've been seeing the world through a yellowed plastic sheet for the past few decades.  I've never observed such beautiful white color pigeons and vases in my life.  Still not quite unblurry, but great hue.  And no pain or discomfort.  Wonderful.  In two weeks, the left eye.

So with an extra hop to my step I walked into downtown Honolulu to seek out a best place for lunch.  It was only 10:15, and Lucky Belly and The Pig and the Lady were not opened yet.  So I had a teriyaki chicken bowl and onion bomb at Marukame at the Fort Street Mall:


Note McDonald's across the mall.  That onion bomb, except for being horribly greasy and not hot enough, was actually quite good.

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