Thoughts At Large

Passionate thoughts on random topics

Baseball

On October 15, 2015, forty-three days after my wife died, I smiled and I cried.


Today, Major League Baseball should be opening its 2020 season. Unfortunately, like life everywhere, it is on hold as the world wobbles off its axis and addresses the COVID-19 pandemic. Then, like now, I am unsure and hesitant, worried about those I love and unsure about the future. Now, like then, I look to baseball to bring structure, excitement, comradery, and normalcy.


Today, MLB.com offered full-length games from its storied past. Without knowing why, I clicked on the American League Division Series Game 5 between the Rangers and Blue Jays. A winner-take-all game, it is better known as the game in which Jose Bautista flipped his bat after homering late in the game.


It started as a great game between pitchers Cole Hamels (Rangers) and Marcus Stroman (Blue Jays). Tied 2-2 going into the seventh inning, Rougned Odor singled for the Rangers and ended up at third after a sacrifice bunt and groundout. After Rangers’ right fielder Shin-Soo Choo took a high pitch, Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin attempted to throw the ball back to pitcher Aaron Sanchez. Unbelievably, the ball hit Shin-Soo Choo’s bat and rolled down the third baseline. Odor took off and easily crossed the plate while the Blue Jays wondered what happened.
After a long conversation between the umpires, Odor was granted home plate as the ball was considered “live.” Needless to say, in a tight game, the Toronto fans erupted in protest. Bottles, cans, and trash were thrown onto the field. Play stopped for what seemed forever. After such a close game, I, too, was upset to see a team lose a playoff series in such a meaningless manner. After failing to save my wife from the relentless attack of cancer, my sense of life’s unfairness seemed to distill itself into this moment. I was incensed. What happened next, through baseball, I still can’t properly process.


In the bottom of the seventh inning, through a series of errors that almost made me believe in (at least a baseball) god and righting the wrong from the previous half-inning, Jose Bautista stepped to the plate. With the fans (and me) standing and on a 1-1 count, pitcher Eric Dyson threw a meatball that righted my world. The monster blast that Bautista hit into the upper deck released every pent up emotion I had no way of handling following my wife’s death 43 days earlier.


With my children back at school, finishing their senior year at the University of Texas at Austin, I was living alone at home with my dying dog who would not see Opening Day the following season. My days at work were blue and my lonely nights and weekends utter blackness. Fortunate enough to have cable and splurging on the MLB package, baseball was my roommate, the television conversation.


To have the game I love bring a sense of fairness, where doing the right thing is rewarded in positive results, meant the world to me. To see the Blue Jays (and Bautista) win the game and set straight a correct but unnatural technicality somehow made me weep as if I had beaten cancer for my wife (or was even a Blue Jays fan). I watched that game today and realized how soon after my wife’s death that game took place and how much it meant to me then and why.


That day, baseball showed me a flicker of fairness. That day, Bautista did something I could not. That day, baseball brought me back.

When it is safe, baseball will bring us back again.

United Prime

January 1, 2021

Houston – Today marks the beginning of a new era in flight at United Airlines! Gone is the short-lived Basic Economy, lasting less than one year despite being a favorite of company travel departments everywhere. Basic Economy offered a non-refundable ticket, no online check-in, no carry-on (other than a regulation sized candy bar), and the benefit of being the last passenger allowed onboard prior to departure. Replacing Basic Economy is the new, highly vaunted United Prime.

Taking its cues from Amazon Prime, United Prime is a new vision of commercial flight offering two distinct new ways to fly. The first, and most affordable option, is United Prime Corrugated. This option requires passengers to purchase (at a small additional fee of $89) a packing box large enough for one “average” adult and their luggage (providing the passenger’s luggage does not exceed the size or weight of a photo ID). Sealed at the United customer service counter, the box is weighed before being forwarded to the baggage area for “seating” assignment in the cargo hold. Boxes weighing more than 125 lbs. will be subject to a convenience fee of $18.95 per pound over the allotted 125 lbs. To better optimize the guest experience, check-in has also been eliminated, along with seats, lavatories, and pretzels. Rewards points can still be exchanged for air holes.

Star Alliance members will have the opportunity to upgrade to United Prime Corrugated Plus+ for an additional $75. This option offers passengers the option of a brand-new, responsibly sourced packing box with a professionally embossed United logo, an additional 5 lbs. of allotted weight (including the weight of the box), and the option of a new, crew member-installed catheter. In case of emergency mid-flight, this premium packing box has even been classified for use as a coffin, though the user warranty warns that travelers assume all risk for any “surprise cremation” sustained in a crash.

An aggressive advertising campaign is launching to accompany these new options. The media blitz has already featured celebrity endorsements ranging from Captain Chesley Burnett “Sully” Sullenberger to Big Bird, who was used to demonstrate the competitively priced “child crates” United is hoping to roll out sometime later this year. Gone is the dated Gershwin penned Rhapsody in Blue, replaced instead with the hip Alice in Chains classic Man in the Box. The riff kicks in just as the ads fade out and the viewer is saluted by a digitally resurrected Paul Tibbets. United Prime Corrugated and United Prime Corrugated Plus+ are both available now on all domestic and international flights. Other airlines are expected to unveil similar options in the coming weeks.

Despite its recent launch, United is already looking beyond the Prime Corrugated lines. Although they remain unconfirmed, the long-rumored and highly secretive United Drone (reserved for long haul flights) and United Cannonball (for shorter service flights) projects are thought to be well past the development stages and possibly conducting trials at undisclosed locations in the Houston area.

Not without its technical challenges, United Drone has already been linked to several recent accidents. In May, a driver on Interstate 45 near Kingwood was involuntarily man slaughtered when a box bearing a United logo and filled with clay hit his pickup truck. The story was initially misreported as having been “a joke gone bad” after responding officers identified the man’s artfully entombed head as a sculpture. Coroners and lawyers would later announce that the package “transitioned” through the man’s windshield before “opening in an operationally unintended manner” and killing him instantly. Entitled “Ode to Traffic,” the sculpture was eventually moved to the Houston Museum of Fine Arts in October of 2020.

In a possibly related case earlier last year, a cat was killed when another responsibly sourced packing box seemingly fell from the sky in a neighborhood just north of George Bush International Airport (home of United Airlines Research and Development). In both cases, witnesses claimed to have seen drones flying in the area emblazoned with the familiar United tagline, “Fly the Friendly Skies” on their sides, only to see them quickly disappear before authorities could investigate. Local authorities have not responded to a request for comment on the incident, though a veterinarian presented with crime scene photos declared it unlikely that “poor diet” was to blame for the Chernobyl ash shadow imprinted on the sidewalk.

So too has the United Cannonball project been plagued by setbacks. According to a United engineer who spoke to me under the condition of anonymity, one recent Cannon prototype exploded with a test dummy still inside it. The follow-up model, which was specially calibrated to transport valued passengers up to nineteen miles in the direction of their final destination, instead fired a test passenger eighteen feet into the side of a lunch trunk parked in front of the testing facility. The engineer was pushed into early retirement after he attempted to revive the test passenger, whose body was discovered just this past week with a professionally embossed logo on his forehead. It is with both optimism and dismay that I add that the passenger’s final resting place, or “destination,” was a dumpster just over seventeen miles from the United Airlines Research and Development facility.

This story is still being developed. Please return here for occasional updates.

Imus and Dad

Radio Personality Don Imus (Photo by Deborah Feingold/Corbis via Getty Images)

Controversial? Yes. An asshole, sometimes. An original? Undoubtedly. Don Imus died Friday at the age of 79. And with him, part of my childhood and a link to my father.

You see, in the late ’70s and early ’80s, Imus was on WNBC in New York City. My father would drive my sister and me to school, and he would fiddle with the rotary knob on the car radio until a barely audible signal would emanate from the static din, and the caustic, witty sound of Imus’s voice could be heard. News of the thunderous approach of Moby Worm would alert us that he had found the correct station. Zeroing in on an NYC station from Middletown, RI was no easy feat with the radios of the early ’80s! The preaching from the Right Reverend Dr. Billy Sol Hargis always made me laugh before heading into school. The worst situation was when we would have to get out of the car and enter school before Imus’s bit was done. I was left trying to fill in the blanks and finish the skit on my own.

In the seventh grade, I was disciplined by my homeroom/social studies teacher for not knowing the difference between wit and sarcasm. Maybe that’s one reason I liked listening to Imus. The other was because it was a shared experience with my dad. We laughed together and shared a sense of humor.

I continued listening as Imus moved to WFAN and then MSNBC. His politics changed, as did mine. But he was always able to get the newsmakers of the day to let down their guard and show the humanity behind their polished, over-produced exteriors. I thought of my father every day I listened. I wondered what he thought of the interviews. What he thought of the skits. What he thought of me.

My dad died in 2014. And now Imus is gone. That link is gone. But as I’ve learned over the past few years, I don’t need the “thing” to have the memories. The car is gone. High school is (thankfully) over. My dad is gone. And now Imus is gone. But I’ll always have the memories of those morning rides. Good night, Imus. Say hi to Dad.

The Rise of the Lowest Common Denominator

Today, scientists will introduce a new vaccine through the World Health Organization to three African countries in a pilot program designed to prevent malaria. Three hundred sixty thousand children each year will receive the vaccine, which has a 40% success rate in preventing the disease. 40% may not sound impressive, however, when you consider 435,000 people die of malaria each year (a child dies every two minutes from the disease, 250,000 children alone in Africa) this “complementary malaria control tool” is better than nothing at all. This is a victory for humanity and a proud moment for science.

This news comes on the same day (April 24, 2019) when, in the United States, a record 681 cases of the once eradicated measles disease have been reported. Twenty-two states report instances. The previous record for an entire year was 667 in 2014. Again, it’s only April 24th. This is a loss for humanity and an embarrassing moment for rational thinkers.

Science, I believe, is in its infancy. We pose far more questions each year than we answer. But as Donald Rumsfeld famously said, “There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.” Knowing there are unknowns (both known and unknown!) keeps science humble and curious. Each step forward reveals new questions, new problems, but more knowns (even if they are known unknowns).

Research into the demographics of “anti-vaxxers” always identified them as living on the outskirts of both political parties, but recent analysis has identified a distinct skewing toward the far right. The same conspiracy believing, science ignoring (climate change, pollution, flat earth), demographic who consider education to be an elitist, global cabal and who embraced the plain-spoken crudeness of a New York billionaire as their savior, believing he tells the truth, is a victim of the deep state and the mainstream media and was fully exonerated by the Mueller report. The echo chamber from which they obtain their news meets their confirmation bias, and anyone disagreeing is ignored and scorned as unpatriotic.

Fortunately, some African children will benefit from scientific advancement, children not of privilege or means, but beneficiaries of scientific progress. At the same time, some children in the United States will suffer from an entirely preventable disease because first world freedoms afford even the ignorant the right to put them in jeopardy.

As Harlan Ellison wrote, “You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.” Unfortunately, specific demographics of our society have all of the answers when the rest of us are convinced of less and less each year, embrace that limitation, and continue to seek wisdom.

Thomas Paine wrote, “To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture.” In a country where education should be celebrated, instead, we seem to elevate the lowest common denominator — shame on us.

Today

Picture1We are divided. We are angry. Regardless of what side of the political chasm you stand on, we each scream at ears that cannot hear. Each side can site their own origin for our condition, but increasingly, our cold civil war is getting hot.

And now we have lunatic sending bombs to critics of the president while the president continues to pour gasoline on the growing firestorm.

Words are my religion. They are far more important to me than physical persuasion. Books are portals. Carl Sagan wrote as part of his incredible Cosmos series,

“What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.”

And yet, in our hurry-up world of 280 character pontifications, arguments and debates are reduced to ad hominem attacks and ad reductio gotchas. We are a heavily armed society with hair-trigger sensitivities and no sense of personal responsibility. That’s a terrible combination.

Cicero wrote, “He only employs his passion who can make no use of his reason” and I understand the sentiment. As of right now, three bombs have been sent to New York City. My son lives in New York City. This individual has subjected everyone handling these packages (whether politically likeminded or not) and everyone around them to harm from within a potential blast radius. I look at Google Maps to identify where the newest bomb has been located and then see where my son should be at that moment. I am a civilized man, but also a father. I do not own a gun, and I treasure words. However, as a father, should I encounter the individual sending these bombs, I would not hesitate to punch them in the face.

Perhaps that makes me part of the problem, maybe I’m merely a parent, regardless, we all must do better. And it starts at the top. And it begins with the individual. The president leads, and we are responsible for ourselves. I’ll do my part. Mr. President? #Vote

Rules

Rules

 

Following the news that the Trump family cheated us out of over $497.80 million in estate taxes comes news that son-in-law and senior White House advisor Jared Kushner paid little or no federal income taxes between 2009 and 2016. Couple that with the “still being audited” bullshit being run by Trump as the reason why he “can’t” release his tax returns and we can only guess whether we, as taxpayers, are subsidizing the current kleptocracy at an over or under $1 billion price tag.

And yet, at this point, we have been conditioned by the daily shitstorm of Tweets, rants, insults, and societal oversteps that we simply yawn. Shame on us. Our gag reflex at the absurd and unacceptable has been blunted by repetition and callused by social media. But Viktor Frankl said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” That is the freedom we should be seeking, that is the independence we should be searching for and celebrating, not whether our president weirdly hugs a flag or misrepresents a football player for kneeling before a game.

My life is extremely important to me and me alone. My story will appear in no history book, my children my only legacy. I get up, go to work, do my best and I pay my taxes. We are all the result of our circumstances and our decisions based on those circumstances. I have raised children the best I could while making mistakes for which I will forever be ashamed. That said, they are the best thing that has ever happened to me and the best thing I will ever leave this world. I have willingly sacrificed a career to be a caregiver. I have buried my wife and tried to find happiness in a world I hardly understand. In other words, there is absolutely nothing remarkable about me. And I pay my taxes. I am happy to do so. I enjoy driving on paved roads. I complain about potholes. I enjoy living in the United States. I complain about military spending. I enjoy pizza. I complain about being too heavy. I still think I can hit a fastball and I see wrinkles in my neck.

But I am tired of playing by the rules when the rulers do not. I doubt Donald Trump has paid any taxes in the past 20 years. None. And he claims to be worth $10 billion. Jared Kushner paid little or no taxes over an 8-year period. And he’s worth $324 million. How many potholes would that have filled? How many schools would that have built? How many teachers would not have to buy their own supplies with that influx of taxes? Not to mention the $497.80 million Donald’s Daddy bilked us out of over the years by funneling money to his children. How many veterans, that the president claims to adore, could he have been personally treated or outfitted?

Having been raised Roman Catholic, and hard-wired with intrinsic guilt, the old saying, “How can you sleep at night?” always played in my head. That was always the guilt trip for past transgressions. Too late for future improvements. I always liked to play it in advance with the opportunistic, “What would I do in that situation?” This has afforded me the chance to make decisions, not always the correct ones, that I could defend to my children at a future date. “What did you do about gun violence after the murders at Sandy Hook Elementary School, dad?” I can answer that.

But kleptocrats answer to neither guilt nor history. To the question, “How can you sleep at night?” Trump answers, “Fine, either in the White House or in one of my gold palaces.” To the question, “What did you do about climate change?” Trump will answer, “Got us out of the Paris Climate Accord, watched the icebergs melt and the polar bears starve to death (before poor Don Jr. and Eric could shoot them to death), watched Florida sink into the Atlantic, and spent my gazillion, tax-free dollars golfing and eating KFC. I’ll be dead before the air is too toxic to breathe and burns you to ashes. Now go pay your taxes, suckers.”

 

#FreePress

Free Press

In May of 2016, a research article was published showing the rising level of partisanship in Congress from the 81st Congress (1949-1951) through the 112th Congress (2011-2013). The video, posted by Business Insider in 2016, looks like some bizarre red/blue organism’s mitosis except the resulting two cells have nothing to do with the original host cell. It is less mitosis and more segregation.

But that was in 2BT, a time which only seems like 2,000,000 years ago on the geologic time scale. A time we now call Before Trump (BT). Now in 2ST (Since Trump), we live in the “post-fact” world, a world of “alternative” facts. A world where, according to the Washington Post’s Fact Checker, as of August 1, 2018, in 558 days of the Trump presidency, Mr. Trump has made 4,229 false or misleading statements (an increase of 978 in two months). For those wearing neither their 1970’s calculator watch nor wanting to do a quick calculation on their smartphone, that works out to an average of 7.58 false or misleading statements per day.

And while no president thinks the press treats them with the deference they feel they deserve, the Founding Fathers felt so sure that a free press was necessary as a check on power they acknowledged it in the First Amendment.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Edmund Burke’s “Fourth Estate” was thus protected.

But now in 2ST, the president considers the press “an enemy of the people.” Although, let’s be clear, only those institutions who disagree with his positions. Today, over 350 papers across the country printed editorials restating their mission and discrediting Trump’s outlandish statements. Of the several places my family or I have lived and/or the newspapers to which I subscribe I give you a sampling of these editorials:

The Boston Globe

The New York Times

The Houston Chronicle

The Providence Journal

The Cape Cod Times

The Hartford Courant

The Austin Statesman

And before anyone rebuts with an argument of “well, if you’re such a fan of the First Amendment” how can you want every media outlet to remove Alex Jones?” Alex Jones, the InfoWars clown who once interviewed Donald Trump on his show and on which Trump said of Jones, “”Your reputation is amazing. I will not let you down.”

Simple, the press is responsible for reporting facts. As longtime New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” In response to a different assault on reason, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson also once said, “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”

When newspapers get the facts wrong, they print retractions and corrections. The Wild West world of social media has no such disciplinary mechanism other than the individual organization’s self-government. However, as private companies, users of these social media platforms are subject to the organization’s guidelines. I find what Alex Jones has said and instigated, specifically to the families of the children and educators murdered in Newtown, CT, beyond abhorrent. Oscar Wilde’s once commented,

“I may not agree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to make an ass of yourself,”

Private social media companies owe Jones no such freedom. He remains free to spew whatever hateful, disgusting lies he chooses (in order to continue selling snake oil tinctures to tin foil wearing well-armed survivalists awaiting some impending race/religious/political philosophy/government Civil War redux), it’s merely that no platform is forced to publish it.

So today I stand with news outlets across the country to call out a delusional president living in his own, self-created echo chamber determined to silence critics of his “agenda.” And I sleep confidently that the First Amendment can withstand calling out the president while private companies exile Alex Jones.

Celebrate Knowledge

Professor Hawking

“We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.”

 

Earth has lost one of its great thinkers. Stephen Hawking died at age 76.

Consider this: Professor Hawking was born 300 years to the day after Galileo died and died on Albert Einstein’s birthday. If he stood on the shoulders of other intellectual giants, perhaps his most significant achievement lies in the number of scientists who have followed him into science. He sought answers from the cosmos and conveyed it to the masses.

In an age where we celebrate celebrity, where fame is counted in magazine covers and computer clicks, Professor Hawking was famous for his mind! Today that seems as fundamentally difficult to grasp as Hawking radiation. And yet, in an America whose president conveys policy and fires cabinet secretaries in 280 characters or less, Professor Hawking, along with Jacob Bekenstein, was able to describe the thermodynamic entropy of a black hole in eleven characters.

Bekenstein-Hawking Entropy Formula

Celebrate Professor Hawking’s life today and contemplate what we value. Consider valuing health over drama, love over money, and intellect over fame. Idolatry is not the answer, knowledge is.

Happy Pi day.

Groundhog Day, Again

I’m pissed, and I’m tired, again. We’ve had another mass shooting in America. Surprise!

Our Founding Fathers (capitalized for respect!) were human, both flawed and determined. Their intellect and debate resulted in the living breathing document we call the Constitution. It, like them, is flawed and determined. It, like them, should not be considered sacrosanct. As a living, breathing document, created by humans, not gods, it is malleable to time. It is time we repeal the Second Amendment and confiscate the guns.

Sorry, Mr. President, sorry Congress, the United States is not burdened with higher levels of mental health issues than other countries. It is merely awash in guns. That is the problem. And until we face it, “active shooter” training in schools, emergency direction notices before movies, “thoughts and prayers” after every shooting from gutless politicians led by Republican intransigence at the direction of their NRA marionette masters will result in a continuing momentary sense or shock followed by a pandemic ennui throughout the public.

We now consider mass shootings and daily gun violence the new normal in America. The rest of the world also sees it as the new normal in America, and wonders why. We don’t even bother to wonder why anymore. This is not normal and should not ever be considered normal. Gun violence is a scourge injected into our society by flooding our lives with guns. Guns or drugs, it’s the business model. Flood the streets with them, deposit the cash, sit back and watch the inevitable, ensuing death metastasize. And the solution? More guns! Guns as the answer to fear caused by guns. Good marketing technique! A terrible shift in our collective consciousness.

We wring our hands and lament the “impossible,” multifaceted response required to address gun violence. No! The answer is simple. Remove the guns. No guns, no gun violence. That is my position. Call me a Democrat, call me a liberal, call me an asshole. I don’t care. No guns, no gun deaths. The Twenty-first Amendment repealed the Eighteenth, ending prohibition. Write a new Amendment abolishing the Second. And then have a big bonfire for the 300 million plus guns in an America with a new normal.

MLK, Jr. Today

MLK MonumentToday we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in America. We mark it under a racial cloud because of what our president said recently about African and Caribbean nations. “Shithole/Shithouse nations” according to our, at best, racially obtuse president, and at worst, racist president.

Solomon Northup, in Twelve Years a Slave, wrote, “There’s a sin, a fearful sin, resting on this nation, that will not go unpunished forever. There will be a reckoning yet… it may be sooner or it may be later, but it’s coming as sure as the Lord is just.”

Northup wrote that in 1853, eight years before the outbreak of the American Civil War, 10 years before the Emancipation Proclamation, 12 years before the ratification of the 13th Amendment, 76 years before Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birth, 111 years before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and 115 years before King’s murder. And today, 50 years after King’s assassination and 165 years after Northup’s account, we are still paying the price of what President Obama termed “America’s original sin.”

There are epochs in history, categories into which we place significant events. We may consider ancient history to encompass the construction of the great pyramids or the rise and fall of Rome.  And we may believe the American Civil War to be “ancient” within the framework of the United States’ existence. Too quickly we relegate events to history and therefore outside an era upon which our brains must examine events contemporaneously. If we think of an event as being “history,” we can, to a certain extent, dismiss it as being old and no longer relevant.

Consider this, then: Martin Luther King, Jr. would have been 89 years old today. Conceivably still living, had he not been murdered in 1968. His contemporaries, those also born in 1929 and still among us include journalist Barbara Walters, actor Christopher Plummer, actor/comedian Bob Newhart, actor Ed Asner, author Eric Carle, and actor Max von Sydow. Dr. King was only 39 years old when he was murdered. This April 4th will mark 50 years since his slaying. By 2008, King had been dead longer than he had ever lived. Imagine what he might have achieved, where we might have been as a nation concerning race relations, had he lived these past 50 years.

Martin Luther King, Jr. is not the monument in the photo above that I captured in Washington, D.C. last summer touring the city with my children. Do not let the black and white pictures you have seen or grainy, less than 1080p online video fool you. He is a contemporary man who was trying to make the world a better place, not an ancient figure no longer relevant. He words still give rise to voices now because we still have work to do.

Perhaps the rise of nationalism and xenophobic tendencies we see, not only in America (Trump) but all around the globe, is cyclical. At its worst, we devolve into world wars. I hope that what we see today is a venting, a voice being periodically given to those otherwise so staggeringly ignorant we usually must drag them kicking and screaming toward a better future for all creatures living on this small blue dot careening through the universe. I hope that this is only a venting and authoritarian plutocracies do not get a foothold. I hope that we will again celebrate President Kennedy’s (via Ted Sorensen) aphorism “a rising tide lifts all boats” and we are not moving toward a future resembling 1853 or some other cataclysmic date in our collective “ancient” history.