I started thinking about all of the things that come our way as a result of the air currents. Certainly, the rain would be the top thing on our mind. Next would be the seeds and pollen that travel without borders on the back of the winds. I guess we could call the allergies that result from those pollens a, “possible side effect”, like they do in the drug commercials. We see the pollen, so we know that there is a potential for an allergic outbreak. We just don’t know if it’s the pollen that affects us the most. Should I be more concerned about putting on a mask than writing “wash me” on the trunk of my car?

Fortunately, the government tracks all that stuff for us now, and we can look at the government charts to see which pollens are affecting us the most. The question is whether you’ll already be wheezing before the government can produce the charts. Pollen is a pollutant that we can see. How about the noxious gasses that we don’t see until they get so thick they’re visible? Wearing a mask won’t help with those pollutants, and some may be so deadly we don’t have time to put on a mask anyway. I’ve long complained about Georgia Power and their coal burning plants being responsible for making the “Smokey Mountains, smokey”. There is something worse, though.

We passed the thirty-seventh anniversary of Chernobyl on April 26th. If you are unfamiliar with the disaster, here is a quote from Wikipedia: “The Chernobyl disaster was the worst nuclear power plant accident in history in terms of cost and casualties. It is one of only two classified as a level 7 event (the maximum classification) on the International Nuclear Event Scale, the other being the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011. The struggle to contain the contamination and avert a greater catastrophe ultimately involved over 500,000 workers and cost an estimated 18 billion rubles. During the accident itself, 31 people died, and long-term effects such as cancers are still being investigated.”

The cleanup involved volunteers who knew they were committing suicide for the promise of the government taking care of their families, forever. Shortly after the accident, the nearby town of Pripyat was evacuated, and the 53,000 residents disbursed through Ukraine. The rest of the Soviet citizenry remained in the dark about the accident until April 28th, when radiation levels set off alarms at the Forsmark Nuclear Power Plant in Sweden, over 620 miles away. The Soviet government was then forced to go public with the accident. Ten days after the accident, the Soviet government expanded the evacuation area to a 20-mile radius of Chernobyl. This “dead zone” is still in place today.

How does Chernobyl play into my dissertation on shifting winds? Well, in a couple of ways. First off, it was the wind that carried the radioactive fallout to Sweden where the unsafe levels set off alarms alerting the rest of the world to the problem. Secondly, and this one is the most important, we have a propensity in the United States for building nuclear power plants to the Southwest of large population centers. The wind pattern in the United States is predominantly from the South and West.

In Georgia, our two nuclear plants are located at Baxley and Augusta. Not good for Augusta, or anywhere in South Carolina, but at least they’re not Southwest of Atlanta. We have to go to Alabama to find a nuclear power plant Southwest of Atlanta, where I live. Alabama also has a number of plants that are West and Northwest of Atlanta. As we all know, the wind shifts. Currently it’s coming from the Northwest. It is my fervent desire to avoid a “Silkwood” situation.

As we move to clean energy I’m hopeful that we’ll take a look at the French designs of nuclear power plants. They’ve had a remarkable success record and produce about 70% of their power from nuclear power. Bill Gates is also on the right track in the development of safe nuclear power plants. I’d far rather supplement his efforts than supplement the oil companies’ offshore drilling, we know their track record.

We have the opportunity to learn from the past and “Build Back Better“. Will we, or are we just marking time until our next Chernobyl?

Wrongly Accused

I read an interesting piece about an old fellow that had been released from jail for a crime he didn’t commit. Jack McCullough, who is now 78 years old, was released from prison after serving five years of a life sentence. Where all of this gets real curious is that McCullough was convicted in 2011 for a murder that occurred in 1957.

McCullough was accused of murdering a neighbor girl back when he was 18 or so. McCullough was not accused in 1957 when the crime occurred, he was accused in 2011. He was brought back to Sycamore, Illinois, his childhood home, from Seattle, Washington where he was living, to stand trial. In a trial that has now been overturned, McCullough was railroaded into a murder conviction. It seemed that the community had to have a perpetrator for what they described as their “9-11”.

To say the evidence was shaky is a vast understatement. Many people who had given police statements at the time of the crime are no longer living. To that end, McCullough was not able to face his accusers. His attorney was not able to question the accusers or offer a rebuttal to their testimony. Old eye witness accounts were read into the record that loosely described McCullough at the time. Teenage behavior being what it is, it probably described every other teenager at the time too. Testimony about wearing your hair in a ducktail is not as relevant in the ’50’s as one might think it is today.

The Innocence Project states on their website, “Eyewitness mis-identification is the greatest contributing factor to wrongful convictions proven by DNA testing, playing a role in more than 70% of convictions overturned through DNA testing nationwide.”  There are a bunch of reasons why eyewitnesses can get it wrong, which is why it is imperative that the physical evidence is unimpeachable. In this case, most of the physical evidence was missing or destroyed. A key piece of evidence, a doll that the killer was supposed to have touched, was missing. The DNA from the doll could have excluded McCullough, but it was no where to be found when the trial came about.

Probably the most damning point in this scenario is the fact that McCullough was forced to act as his own lawyer in his appeal process. The road to McCullough’s eventual freedom was started by a petition prepared by another inmate with paralegal training. The petition was denied, but caused the current prosecutor for Dekalb County, Illinois to review the case. When asked by the judge to comment on the appeal request, State’s Attorney Richard Schmack responded that he had found, “clear and convincing evidence”, that McCullough was innocent.

Well, the wheels of justice finally started rolling, and eventually McCullough was released. Interviews with McCullough detail that he will be, “living his life at one hundred mile an hour”, since he has so much time to make up. Truthfully, it was a wonder that McCullough had survived the length of time he did in prison, and not just because of his age. Prison inmates have a particular fondness for people that are accused of crimes against children. “Baby fondlers” they call them. I speculate that many prison inmates were abused themselves as children, and can imagine that they would have had a much different life had they not been abused. The inmates consider it a privilege to help society rid itself of child predators. McCullough is very lucky to have survived vigilante justice for a crime he did not commit.

Currently, the Innocence Project has helped to free 365 wrongfully convicted people. Of those, twenty-one had spent time on death row. Just as important, the Innocence Project has found 147 actual perpetrators. Thank God there are people out there righting the wrongs of overzealous prosecutors and police. We need more of them.


Cognitive Dissonance

While I mull over the thought of being happy and sad about the same event, I think of politicians who must get caught up in the disconnect of taking a vow to protect the Constitution and then promoting or covering up an attempted coup. Cognitive dissonance is what it’s called.

Of course politicians have a political party to tell them how to respond to all topics so they don’t get confused by their own feelings. I’m thinking that part of the attraction for the Donald is his lack of a party filter to clean up his language before it airs to the public. I know we all are tired of hearing the same tried and true party answers. Maybe that’s why the Donald’s followers are energized by his speeches. The Donald just freestyles like a rapper searching for rhymes. What he says doesn’t have to make sense, it just has to fill his followers with a sense of entitlement and rage.

Just for grins, I was looking at some Trump quotes to prove my point. Thank you Google and Goodreads for your ease of use. Right off the top I found a doozy: “One of the key problems today is that politics is such a disgrace, good people don’t go into government.” The Donald forgot to add, “that’s why I’m throwing my hat in the ring”.

The Donald let a little bit of his dissonance slip through in this famous quote: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re not sending you, they’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bring crime. They’re rapists… And some, I assume, are good people.”  “And some I assume are good people”, kind of explains the opposition of thoughts in Trump’s brain that he can’t reconcile, and yet, feels compelled to pontificate about.

The Donald’s actions belie his rhetoric with regard to his famous Mar A Lago club. In an investigation by The New York Times it was discovered that American citizens were repeatedly overlooked for hiring by the club in favor of immigrants. “Since 2010, nearly 300 United States residents have applied or been referred for jobs as waiters, waitresses, cooks and housekeepers there. But according to federal records, only 17 have been hired.” Building a wall to keep low price labor from entering the country while almost exclusively using legal and illegal foreign labor for his projects seems a little bit dissonant or at best, disingenuous.

The Donald will never be concerned about saying things that he doesn’t really have resolved in his brain. For example, “I try to learn from the past, but I plan for the future by focusing exclusively on the present. That’s were the fun is.” You kind of have to let that management style marinate in your brain while you’re pondering his six bankruptcies. Of course you could try to ascertain the Donald’s owns self evaluation, “I often say that I’m a member of the lucky sperm club. But did it give me a natural talent? I don’t think so.” No, but the 400+ million the Donald got from his daddy kind of disputes his claims of being a “self-made man.” In a rare moment of consciousness, the Donald did declare, “Everything in life is luck.” I agree, he is the undisputed expert on that topic.

I’m thinking that women are going to play a large part in electing our next President. I’m not saying that because I believe that all women are going to vote for Joe and Kamala in a tsunami of gender solidarity. I’m saying that because there is such a great paper trail for women to familiarize themselves with to let them know how the candidates really feel about women. The Donald says, “Nobody respects women more than I do.” which is a great quote to match up with,“You know, it really doesn’t matter what the media write as long as you’ve got a young, and beautiful, piece of ass.” Let’s all be honest here, isn’t it the height of respect being called “a young, and beautiful, piece of ass?”

I guess if the Donald doesn’t mind having his daughters evaluated by their looks and sexual proclivities, there’s no dissonance.




Il Duce

I kind of got focused on the Donald again while waiting for the insurrectionists to get together this weekend for fun and games in the Capitol. Sounds like they want to get the old gang back together, kind of like a high school reunion. They’ve modified the prom theme “Starry Nights” to “Turn Out The Lights” to more accurately portray their intention to leave democracy in the dark in their wake.

In an attempt to appear to look like normal folks, the organizers have asked the returnees to leave their MAGA duds at home. I’m hopeful that the organizer also requested they leave their guns, knives, bombs and other implements of torture behind. I know this puts the group at a real disadvantage of knowing who the other lemmings are, but I’m sure they’ll be able to just look for people frothing at the mouth and self identify.

As I understand it, the group is still determined to right the wrong of the majority of Americans finding Joe Biden more presidential than the Donald. They continue to foment the “big lie” that aliens from space and other countries manipulated the vote total by 8 million or so votes to throw the election away from their candidate. The Donald continues to do his part by waddling from venue to venue to separate the rubes from their money by saying anything that convinces the crowd that they alone hear the truth.  

If you are a candidate who is willing to say anything to stir up a crowd, what does that say? If you promise to build a wall between Mexico and the U.S., and use Mexican money to do it, what happens when you can’t deliver on your promise? How do you appease the people who voted for you and the wall, and then were disappointed? How do you backtrack on your promise to deport 12 million aliens?

Forget the part that the voter should be smart enough to know that the promise was a physical impossibility. What happens after four years of constant prevarication and obfuscation? Do the voters that aren’t card carrying cult members peel away and vote for the other candidate? Do the fence-sitters just become disillusioned with the whole process and stay at home? Do the “fool me once” crowd search the horizon for the next “prophet”?

Salesmen and hucksters prey on the uninformed and the “wishful thinkers” every day. That’s why the Consumer Protection Agency was formed. Seems like we’re in desperate need of  a Voter’s Protection Agency. It’s not like The Donald is masking his lies in obscure language. He’s speaking his mind right up front of everybody, and unfortunately, the feedback he’s getting is only fueling his egomania. His statement, I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters”, speaks to The Donald’s mental state. He believes he is infallible. That’s not a good quality for a leader of 330 million people that are as diverse as we are in America.

The world has a very bad history with infallible leaders. Normally I would do a separated at birth caption for this, but maybe this is more an argument for reincarnation.

Would Mussolini have been drug through the streets if he had had the Donald’s hair? Hard to know. Let’s hope we don’t get that close to history repeating itself to make a comparison.

Wearing Your Sin

While I like to rant about things out of my control, like the pollen, I also feel entitled to rant about other things as well.

One of the things that should be in everyone’s control is parenthood. Whether or not to have a child should totally be up to the parents. I guess in a perfect world we would want two happy well adjusted people who really loved children and would do right by them to be parents. Failing that, at least one of the parents should meet that criteria. In my mind, you have to have the mother’s total 100 percent buy in, or it’s a nonstarter. I don’t think I’m being sexist, or old school, I think I’m being pragmatic. If the mother can’t commit to 100 percent love and devotion to a child, she should have an out.

No, I’m not talking about adoption or orphanages. The horror of state run orphanages and places like depicted in the Magdalene Sisters are well documented. The potential mother should have a choice about when to exercise her lifetime commitment to raising a child, if ever.

Obviously what got me started thinking about this again is the law in Texas making abortion vigilantes out of the anti-abortion folks. They want to punish the mother and anyone associated with a woman exercising her rights over her body. How mean, how hateful, how non-Christian, how non-conservative.

Non-conservative, you say? Yes, because, while the Repubs have created their “Big Tent” by drawing in every hateful nut job in America from bigots to misogynists under the label of “conservative values”, actually being a fiscal conservative has not come in to play. How so, you ask?

As far back as 1972, the Rockefeller Commission determined that a liberalized abortion policy superseded a reduction in crime eighteen years in the future. The statistics were further confirmed in a study done by Steven Levitt of the University of Chicago and John Donohue of Yale University in 2001. Their study concludes that the states with a high abortion rate have also experienced the greater reduction in crime. You can’t argue the facts, unless you’re a Republican political candidate.

How can the Republicans, “true conservatives”, ignore the study commissioned by one of their own? The study conclusively points out that unwanted children become society’s burden in the future. It would seem that true conservatives should be in favor of molding a society where the “unwanted” children would not be disrupting classrooms, creating crimes of varying degrees of sophistication and violence before finally being moved into the prison system. The average cost to house a criminal in prison is $32,000 a year. It would seem that true conservatives would prefer these children to be taxpayers, not taxtakers.

The only rationale that I can come up with the Republicans disconnect from a demonstrable conservative issue is the “holier than thou” elements they’ve attracted over the years. These folks would like for us to turn back the clock to the “Scarlet Letter” days. Rather than a letter sown onto their dress to signify their sin of fornication, the “modern” Christians would prefer the woman have a child to carry as a constant reminder of her sin. I think all of the concern about “fetal pain” and the “beginning of life” are just red herrings designed to draw us away from their true motivation. These people want the woman to pay for her sin, and they are not content to wait for Judgement Day. They want her to pay now, and in the hereafter. They want her to wear her sin.

I’ll finish this one up by saying I’m for free, on demand birth control, whatever shape it takes. There should be a Planned Parenthood office every hundred feet if necessary to keep unwanted children born. Bob Barker used to end each show by reminding everyone to have their pet spayed or neutered. Are we more concerned about unwanted pets than we are children? God, I hope not.