## Saturday, April 1, 2017

### If there is a hole all the way through the center of the earth...

If there was a straight hole through the center of the earth and you drop an object through the hole, what happens?

Thankfully I did not have to do any math for this question. And I was even able to find a website the question was posed and answered. All the way back in 2011 no less. The website can be found here. In laymans terms, the ball (in their example) would fall through the hole until reaching the other side. At the point the ball stops on the other side of the hole it would begin falling again. The ball would repeat this cycle until it finally stops at the center where gravity would be equal on all sides.

Now for an additional question. How long would it take the ball to reach the other side of the hole?

Again, I am not the first to pose this question. I did find two websites that present solutions to this question however. The websites are Hyper Physics and Live Science. According to Hyper Physics the trip would take around 42 minutes. According to Live Science the trip would take around 38 minutes (using a more realistic model of the earth). Either way, I would not want to take that ride. Especially since at top speed the ball (or person) would be traveling around 17,895 mph. It would be a hell of a ride though.

I think the trip would be like one of those dreams where you fall and as you are about to land you wake up. But in this case you would just start falling again unless you grabbed onto something when you reach the other side. Can you imagine a 7,900 mile water-slide though?! That would be an EPIC trip!

Ok, I admit. This post was not as exciting as I was expecting. So I'll add some Dinosaurs.

Oops. Wrong dinosaur...
As you fall you have to watch out for Dinosaurs. You would be a fast food delivery for some lucky creature.

Hopefully we will have teleporters soon as we wont have to worry about the Dinosaurs living at the center of the earth.

## Saturday, March 25, 2017

### America: the Oligarchy

What if I were to tell you America is an Oligarchy. Would your first question be "what is an oligarchy", or "why do you say that"? Well, to answer the first, according to Dictionary.com and oligarchy is:

[ol-i-gahr-kee]
noun, plural oligarchies.
1. a form of government in which all power is vested in a few persons or in a dominant class or clique; government by the few.
2. a state or organization so ruled.
3. the persons or class so ruling.

To answer the second question, well that takes a bit more time and words.

I'll begin with the media. The media has received a lot of bad press lately, especially with the accusations of "fake news" we so often hear about. The media is a double-edged sword. We rely heavily on the media to keep us (as citizens) abreast of the on-goings in America. But the media also influences public opinion. The Journal of Social and Political Psychology published a paper on The Role of the Media in the Construction of Public Belief and Social Change which states:
"The media are in essence a contested space in which the most powerful groups can establish the dominance of specific messages. But [...] the complexity of the reception process then creates the possibility of variations in attitudinal and behavioral response." Basically this means the media can shape public opinion.

We see "media" being used to shape public opinion in wars as well. Wikipedia actually puts it well when discussing Psychological Operations: "Psychological operations (PSYOP) are planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to audiences to influence their emotions, motives, and objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of governments, organizations, groups, and individuals.". The Washington Post has a good article on the roll of PSYOP in our current conflicts in the Middle East. So we can see evidence of media outlets being used to influence public opinion in wartime and in conflict. Are we to assume our own media outlets are less able to influence people than we are able overseas?

The reason I led with the media is because I think it is important to point out that a majority of our media outlets are owned by a mere 15 billionaires. Knowing how influential the media can be to shape public perception, I would bet anything that Politicians use our media to shape public opinion of themselves and their policies. Politicians can essentially shape public opinion however they want via the media.

Now on to Corporations... Specifically the lobbying actions of corporations. Most people are aware of the lobbying done by corporations but I would wager not many people know the full extent of the lobbying. In 2011 Forbes had an article about 29 companies that paid millions towards lobbying but did not pay taxes. I have touched on the whole taxes issue in a previous post here. More recently The Atlantic published an article titled "How Corporate Lobbyists Conquered American Democracy". The article outlines how lobbying has changed over the years and touches on how lobbying effects American politics. I'm not going to go into detail about lobbying and how it hurts the American people. But I will say that as long as Politicians are being paid by corporations they will always favor corporate interest over the interest of the people.

Final note on Corporations Political influence is a post from Mother Jones titled: Who Owns Congress? A Campaign Cash Seating Chart. Basically the information is insight into the money given to politicians by lobbyists.

Then is the issue of "affluenza". Many people have heard about the teen Ethan Couch killing four people and didn't go to jail. Ethan Couch, wall street and various corporations being bailed out to prevent economic disaster, lobbyists, etc. are all examples of American politics not serving the average American and instead favoring those who are able to buy influence.

If you are an average American think of how you are able to influence Politicians. Any Politician really. The most we are able to do as an average American is write a letter to our representative, take part in a town hall meeting, or join in a protest. We are not able to influence Politicians like a CEO of some corporation is able. The deck is stacked against us as a population. The rich and powerful are able to do nearly whatever they want to do. If you doubt the rich and powerful are able to get away with murder (quite literally at times) just scroll through this page from cracked.com titled:
The 18 Most Horrifying Things Rich People Got Away With. Feel free to Google the incidents like I did.

Justice in America is not equal, unbiased, or blind. Lady Justice's scales are tipped every day by money and power. Until justice is once again fair and impartial, America will continue to be an Oligarchy. I do not know how we can get back on track. Personally I think the whole system needs an overhaul. I hope Trump being in office wakes enough people up for change to take place. We need change from top to bottom. But change is something the rich and powerful will fight every step of the way. The rich and powerful want to stay rich and in power. At least we have numbers on our side. If only we can be united to push for the change.

## Wednesday, March 15, 2017

### The wealthy (1%?) and the feelings towards them

My Girlfriend was watching John Oliver a little before I left for work this morning and in the episode which main segment revolved around "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and Republican replacement proposals", John Oliver mentioned the 1%. By and large, the 1% are praised by Conservatives and attacked by Liberals yet I can understand both sides of the argument (when I mention the 1%, I am referring to the majority of wealthy of Americans, including the 1%.)

As someone who wishes to be an entrepreneur, I have made effort to do what I need to do to start businesses. I do not like working for someone else to make them rich. I understand that I need a job to pay my bills and keep food on the table but I hope to one day be an employer and not an employee. For anyone unfamiliar with the process of starting a business it is a difficult process. For those interesting in the steps to start a business the steps can be found at sba.gov. Not only is the process to start a business difficult, it can also be costly. In my attempt to start a non-profit organization I have so far paid close to \$1000 just to the Secretary of State office and I still have to pay another \$500+ for more forms to be recorded. That's not easy for someone living paycheck to paycheck like I am.

Knowing how costly it is for me to start a business the right way, I can understand why more people do not open businesses. With business startups being costly it is obviously easier for someone who already has wealth to start businesses. Because 50% of small businesses fail in the first five years many people avoid attempting to open their own business instead opting for the security of working for someone else. In the case of the non-profit I am still working on getting operational, if it fails that's a lot of money I am out that could have been saved or used for other things. The failure rate makes opening a business less risky for the 1% since they do not rely as heavily on regular paychecks. In fact this article by Salon summarizes my point quite well. Knowing more of the 1% are able to start businesses than everyday people, and businesses create jobs, it's not wonder Conservatives praise (or do not oppose) the 1%.

I am not particularly a fan of the 1%. People with wealth and power always seek to retain their wealth and power. Usually the rich and powerful maintain their wealth and power at the expense of those less fortunate. A good example that is recognized by many is the Dakota Access Pipeline. According to the article from Salon, "At maximum capacity the pipeline is a \$1.7 billion-a-year revenue cash cow for Energy Transfer Partners". By making the process to start a business so complicated and expensive the 1% do not have to worry as much about potential competition and their wealth helps them bully their way to getting what they want. The wealthy lobby politicians for political and legal benefit as well as donate to political campaigns. A very good organization to track money "donated" to politicians is OpenSecrets.org. I could go on and on about how businesses influence politics. Instead I'll just leave this link here about the Top 5 Industries Lobbying Against Cannabis Legalization.

Now, I can understand why Liberals oppose the 1% so much. They have become so entrenched and had their fingers in politics for so long that they are nearly unopposed. The 1% do in fact pay a lot in taxes according to PEW research center. The issue is not the 1% paying a high percentage in taxes, the issue is the tax loopholes. The wealthy pay accountants very well to find ways they can legally pay as little in taxes as possible. Everyone tries to pay as little as possible in taxes. I cannot and will not condemn the 1% for doing exactly what I would do in their situation. I can blame the politicians who pass laws making those loopholes possible. According to Bankrate the top earners pay 39.6% in taxes while the bottom only pays 10%. The issue, as I mentioned is the loopholes. According to realtor.com the tax rate for Capital Gains tax on Real Estate earnings is capped at 20%. So if the wealthy earn their money through Real Estate they pay less in taxes than someone who made the same amount from working. As I said, the wealthy are able to influence politicians to make these loopholes a possibility. Every loophole that is made allows the wealthy to become more entrenched.

Another complication with taxing the 1% even more is the very real possibility they will leave the US. The 1% are already wealthy and as with most people they look for ways to make more money. The 1% do not have to live in the US. There is no law preventing the 1% from moving to another country. If we increase the tax or penalize the 1% in some other way we risk the 1% moving out of the US which could prevent additional jobs being made. If the 1% do move away we may see many of the legal requirements to start a job becoming more lax to allow small businesses to be started more easily. Who knows what would happen. I do know if I were a member of the 1% and I lived in a country that tried to take a ton of money from me every year I would move to a country that would allow me to keep more of my money.

Everywhere you look the laws favor the 1% (the rich and powerful). To do anything but work for someone else we face an uphill battle. To merely open a lawn care business we have to jump through hoops. There are resources available from the Small Business Association that help out with everything but it is still too difficult for many people to accomplish. I'm not sure if the 1% are a necessary evil at this point in our history, but I do wish it were easier for an average citizen to start a business.

This is just another instance of Ron Swanson being my spirit animal. I think Ron Swanson (from Parks and Rec) puts starting a business perfectly:

## Saturday, March 11, 2017

### Calendars, years, BC, AD, etc...

So I guess we can call this my first official "High Thoughts" post. I often wonder obscure pondering when I am not exactly in a clear state of mind. One of the times I was en altitude I was curious about the very first year that was tracked (ie. 2017 CE or AD). This is not about the oldest calendar used to keep track of seasons, months, etc. I was curious about the first use of years to keep track of history.

The calendar we use today is the Gregorian calendar. The Gregorian calendar is named after Pope Gregory XIII, who introduced it in October 1582. Before the Gregorian calendar we used the Julian calendar. The Julian calendar was proposed by Julius Caesar in 46 BC. As with the Gregorian and Julian calendar, the Julian calendar replaced the Roman calendar. The most notable change in the calendars was the refinement for accuracy in tracking days in the year. For example, the original Roman calendar was attributed to Romulus (the mythical founder of Rome by the way) and called the Calendar of Romulus. Very original, I know.

From what I have been able to identify, the first tracking system for years was the Regnal year system. Basically the years were tracked by the years of the reign of the monarch at the time. The easiest explanation for the Regnal year system I have found is from crystalinks.com and reads: "The only unit of time that was larger than a year was the reign of a king. The usual custom of dating by reign was: "year 1, 2, 3 . . . , etc., of King So-and-So," and with each new king the counting reverted back to year One. King lists recorded consecutive rulers and the total years of their respective reigns." I realize the website is questionable but the explanation is very good.

As far as B.C. and A.D. year systems we know today, they were proposed by a monk named Dionysius Exiguus. Dionysius used the current AD system to do away with the memory of an emperor who persecuted many Christians. I would write more on the B.C. and A.D. system but I would not be doing appropriate justice considering how well explained it is by Live Science.

Many cultures kept track of the year by tracking months and seasons on a solar calendar. We know cultures kept track of the progression of the year to know seasons, harvests, festivals (which often revolved around seasons and harvests), etc. I will not get into the purposes of calendars but more information can be found here and here.

Well, with everything I have mentioned and covered I think it can be accepted that there was no set point that we said something along the lines of "we shall call this year, 1". Instead it seems we measured years by significant events. Most notable events were, monarchies and Jesus birth. Eventually we seem to have settled upon Jesus being the central figure to identify years based on the year of his birth. I still have been unable to find the earliest date claimed to be a specified year so the search continues... As far as the earliest "writing" we know of occurred in 4th millennium BC. But I would imagine not many people were concerned with recording history in a chronological order so they likely were unconcerned with tracking years.

As car as earliest recorded chronologies we can go back to Sumerians of Mesopotamia and the Early Dynastic Period of Egypt. Again, this is not indicating years. Try as I might I cannot find the earliest record of years being identified outside of a specific geographic location. The only other account of years I can find, along with Regnal years is Ab urbe condita ("from the foundation of the city"). Also seen on Wikipedia here.

This has been a learning experience for me and an enjoyable one. This does not satisfy my inquisitive mind but few things are able to give me complete satisfaction. I hope everyone else enjoyed this journey as the first official "High Thought". More will be coming and hopefully with better research on my part. Until then, roll'em and smoke'm if you can and remember to question everything.

## Friday, March 10, 2017

### Orphans, Gay marriage and adoption

I really do not understand the apprehension people have with Gay marriage. I get the idea religious people feel Gay marriage removes the idea of "sanctity" of marriage. But divorce and adultery already removed the sanctity that was a pure marriage. We have come so far in America but some people still do not want certain people to be married. It was not that long ago that interracial marriage was illegal (Loving v. Virginia). Some people still think there should not be interracial relationships but by and large, people now accept interracial relationships.

I support Gay marriage and homosexual relationships. I mean, who are we to say whom a person is allowed to love? I don't personally want to be involved in a relationship with another man, but I will not stand in the way of a relationship between two people who are willingly in a relationship together. Or more than two people if that's what makes them happy. Besides, why should we prevent someone from being as unhappy (but preferably happy) as anyone else? Let them get married and receive tax benefits. Let them grow old together and sit on their front porch complaining about the youth of the day in their old age. In fact, there was a beautiful movie called Cloudburst about two elderly lesbians who escape their nursing home to get married in Canada. Beautiful movie. I recommend it for everyone who loves sappy movies.

How are homosexual couples harming anyone by being married? As I said before, divorce and adultery already removed any sanctity that a marriage once held. Are people afraid a Gay person will corrupt someone and lead them to think it is OK to be Gay? Oh no! So terrible! In fact there have been quite a few LGBT people who could be considered excellent role models. Whom a person is sexually attracted to does not make them good or bad role models. Look at Hitler. He was straight and one of the worst possible roll models out there.

Now to orphans and children in foster care. In 2015 there were 427,910 children in foster care as of 30 September 2015. That is a lot of children. Those numbers break my heart. The average age of a child in foster care is 7.5 years old. Personally, I am pro life but I am more pro-care. Let me explain. I don't think it is right to end a child's life before it has a chance to live its life. But it is equally abhorrent to allow children to live without a caring home. We are not caring for children already born. I'm glad foster care exists but foster care is still less than ideal.

Now, LGBT couples obviously cannot conceive in the traditional sense. Two biological men cannot have a child without the assistance from an outside source. With so many children in foster care, why not allow and encourage LGBT couples from adopting children? Is their homosexuality so terrible we should not allow children a chance to know love in their home? According to Gallup there are approximately 486,000 same sex married couples in the US. If every same sex married couple adopted a child there would be no more children in foster care. Again, would that be so bad? And those statistics are not even including heterosexual married couples unable to have children.

Think about things for a moment. Who cares what two grown adults do in the privacy on their own bedroom (sexually). It is nobody's business but their own as long as they are consenting adults. Nobody wants to be told they cannot do something that brings no harm to anyone. And we seriously need to figure out how to help the children living now who grow up and (often times) have no loving home or family. As much as I (and many other people) dislike abortion, it is not going anywhere. Least of all while we still have an issue with children in foster care. Lets allow LGBT couples to adopt children and encourage their adoption. I will thank LGBT people for caring for children when they would not have known a loving home otherwise.

## Tuesday, March 7, 2017

### Class. Where has it gone?

In the field I work I see many, many people every day. Most of the people I encounter have poor credit, little money, and receive government assistance to survive. Occasionally, I see a person who stands out from the crowd. A person who has old-school class. Not necessarily dressed in suit and tie, but dressed respectably. Men and women (and whatever else a person identifies as) alike. Rarely do we see people well dressed and well spoken. Somewhere in our recent history we have gone from this:

to this:

What the hell happened? Granted, I live and work in a not-too-good area of the country and have rarely seen anyone dressed like the white guys in the above pictures. But the people we see in malls, around town, etc. are nowhere near as classy or well dressed as we used to dress as a society.

Even our speech has changed! No more do we speak in an eloquent fashion. No longer do we choose our words selectively. I am just as guilty in regard to my word selection. Rarely do I select the most appropriate word. I instead opting for the more common word more people recognize.

If you have never seen Dead Poets Society with Robin Williams, I implore you to do so. DPS is an excellent movie with a good message about the written word. One of my favorite lines from the movie is: “So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys - to woo women - and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do. It also won’t do in your essays.” ― N.H. Kleinbaum, Dead Poets Society

Perhaps a portion of our issues as a society would be resolved if we once again dressed and spoke with class. Perhaps not. But as a society we would be perceived far differently if we returned to dressing and speaking well. For example, when someone uses words like fleek, turnt, swerve, doe, etc. I am always taken aback. I am amazed we came to a point those words were not uncommon. Thankfully, I do not hear most of those words myself any longer. But when I heard those words I automatically assumed the ones speaking those words were unprofessional and uneducated. Wrongly perhaps, but that is and was my perception of the people using those slang words. Again, we as a society would be perceived in a better light should we no longer use those words.

I think the clothes a person wears and the way a person speaks tells the world a great deal about that person. Speaking and dressing in a professional and classy manner gives the impression that person is to be respected. Even if they are not. Dressing and speaking in a way other than professional or classy leads a person to believe the individual is common and most likely uneducated and deserves only the respect given to everyone. Like the old adage, dress for the job you want. In every day life you should continue to dress for the job you want and also dress how you wish to be perceived. If you do not believe me, dress differently the next time you go out to dinner. If you typically wear jeans and a t-shirt, wear a suit. If you typically wear a suit, wear jeans and a t-shirt. People will treat you differently. People will treat you how you dress and act.

At least in the home we can wear whatever we want and not be judged. Like these awesome TARDIS pajamas!

## Friday, March 3, 2017

### Good and evil. God and the Devil.

So I have pondered good and evil, God and the Devil quite often. I guess that happens when you grow up in church and are the child of pastors. But I wonder more now that I am not a "Christian" than I did when I was a christian. Every culture I know of has recognized a deity (Christianity, Islam, Judiasm, etc) or a pantheon of deities (namely pagan religions and Hinduism. At least those are the commonly known ones). Western nations are unique in their openness to religion and variety of religions. In the US we even observe the Freedom of Religion as a clause to our First Amendment right. But this post is more philosophical thought than any real fact.

Humans typically attempt to blame someone or something for bad happenings. People normally try to avoid being to blame for something bad happening to them or another person. Just look at traffic accidents. People claim the other person is at fault during an accident. Look at the economy. Democrats often blame Republicans (Bush and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan come to mind) for the state of the economy. Republicans blame Democrats for the state of the economy (Obama and the stimulus package). Very rarely will you find people willing to accept the blame for something happening. But what about natural disasters and things nobody can control?

When good things happen, people (when I say people I am referring to Christians and they are who I am most familiar with) thank God. When someone recovers from sickness they thank God for answering their prayers and healing the person. When people win a sports event they thank God. You used to even see people thank God when they won Oscars or other notable award. I think the reason we don't see as many people thank God anymore is because we are becoming a more secular nation. I will likely have a post discussing religion in the (hopefully) near future.

Similarly, when bad things happen people often blame them on the Devil. Many people have heard or said the phrase "the Devil has been busy!". During a natural disaster people blame the Devil or the Devil tempting Eve in the Garden of Eden to allow sin on the Earth. Again, we look for something to blame for good and bad things happening.

What if the whole concept of God and the Devil is a result of humans placing the blame for the bad on some imaginary being? But since everything in life requires balance (even though I hate saying as much just because I like to aggravate my Girlfriend. Still love you though <3 ) we have to have something good to thank for positive things. Divine good and divine bad. If we are able to blame the bad things on the Devil we can escape the blame for ourselves. This only allows us to feel better about the situation. Especially situations we cannot control. In trying to understand why bad things happen we blame the Devil. Especially when we do not understand what happened.

As I said previously we tend to thank God for good things happening. People who recover from sickness, win sporting events, etc. We like to feel we were aided by a divine being when something good happens. We even use the phrase "God bless you". As if it were impossible for good to exist without God. When someone narrowly escapes a calamity (narrowly miss being hit by a vehicle for example) we have a tendency to thank God for his intervention. As someone who served in the Military I saw people praying to God for protection before doing something hazardous. I often wondered about the effects or prayer on the human psyche. If two opposing sports teams (lets take the Patriots and Falcons for example) pray before the game, who does God help? I'm sure Tom Brady thanked God for winning but was God to blame for the Falcons losing?

No matter how much we thank God for good things happening or blame the Devil for bad things happening we are never able to know for certain of their intervention. Some things are unavoidable. We cannot prevent tornadoes. Yet. But we still blame the Devil. I think we may have created the idea for God and the Devil to have an answer for good and bad things we do not understand. But the idea of God and the Devil are so ingrained in our psyche and culture it has become a natural reaction. I don't know that we will ever stop thanking or blaming things on a divine being. By thanking and blaming a divine being we escape responsibility for the good and bad that happens to us all.

I hope this has given everyone something to think about. As I said at the beginning, this is more philosophical than anything. Until we understand and have an explanation for everything that happens we will probably continue to thank God and blame the Devil. Even if we do have an explanation for everything people will still likely thank God and blame the Devil.

One thing I am certain of however, thank you God for creating a certain wonderful plant!