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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

CAN ONE PERSON MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

Today, Donald Trump has been PUS#45 for exactly 14 months, with, hopefully for him, 34 months to go.  Last week Angela Merkel was sworn in as Chancellor of Germany for her fourth term.  Mind you, the country has been in political turmoil for nearly half a year, and it took her 171 days to form a new coalition to only barely prevail with 364 of 709 Bundestag votes.

On Sunday Vladimir Putin got 76.7% of the total votes to bury his challengers (there were seven, one female--stronger candidates either were barred from running, exiled or, perhaps, assassinated).  This was also his fourth term (Dmitry Medvedev served between #2 and #3), so he will rule for a total of 24 years (6-year term).  As China did, he could arrange for a 5th by changing their limit, or wait until he is 78 to legally run again.  Donald Trump is 71.  Joseph Stalin ran the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1952, or 30 years.

A Republican, Senator John McCain, slammed President Trump for congratulating Putin.  Said McCain, an American president does not lead the free world by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections.

Which leads to a question.  Who was the worst among Stalin, Putin and Trump?  History will tell.  Certainly, there have been rulers who governed much longer.

Just in the 20th century, Fidel Castro led for 52 years, Kim Il-sung (Jung-un's grandfather) for almost 49 years and Chiang Kai-shek for 47 years.   I've long felt that a benevolent dictator was the ideal form of government.  The problem is getting someone benevolent, as was the case of Lee Kuan Yew for Singapore.

 Current longest tenures:
  • Paul Biya (right) of Cameroon, almost 43 years
  • Teodoro Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, almost 39 years
  • Ali Khamenei of Iran, 36 years
Then there are monarchs:
  • Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, 66 years
  • Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei, 50 years
  • Qaboos bin Said al Said of Oman, 47 years
Absolutely longest length of any type of head?
  • Sobhuza II of Swaziland, 1889 to 1982, almost 83 years
  • Bernhard VII of Lippe (historically, a part of Germany), 1429 to 1511, almost 82 years
  • William IV of Henneberg-Schleusingen (also early Germany), 1480 to 1559, almost 79 years
#18 on this list was Rama IX (Bhumibol Adulyadej) who was King of Thailand for 70 years, and passed away in 2016.  Elizabeth II comes in at #39.

On the other hand, most of Humanity's influential had no national or international leadership role, in no particular order:
  • Mahatma Gandhi
  • Jesus Christ
  • Muhammad
  • Isaac Newton
  • Buddha
  • Confucius
  • St. Paul
  • Johan Gutenberg
  • Christopher Columbus
  • Albert Einstein
  • Louis Pasteur
  • Galileo Galilei
  • Aristotle
  • Charles Darwin
  • Nicolaus Copernicus
  • James Watt
  • Karl Marx
  • Wright Brothers
  • William Shakespeare
  • Thomas Edison
  • Plato
  • Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Leonardo da Vinci
  • Thomas Malthus
  • Henry Ford
  • Homer
Many of these individuals began life modestly, some with little chance of influencing the world.  More than a hundred billion Homo sapiens have been born.  Another hundred billion will surely come.  The pace of technology is accelerating.  While it takes a village to get things done, nothing happens until that unique individual appears to make that difference.

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The eye of Tropical Cyclone Marcus formed nearly a week ago near Darwin and already rolled over northern Australia.  However, something happened when Marcus returned to the sea, now at 125 MPH just around where Sue Elcock caught that big fish, and, while seeming to head for Perth, should further strengthen into a Category 4, but weaken before threatening land again:


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