Thursday, March 25, 2021

Bad Luck or Karma

How many times in your life have you been mired in a string of bad events, one after the other, and muttered to yourself Karma is a bitch. The truth of the matter is Karma is a bastard - he was male, according to Wikipedia. So much for today's history/anatomy lesson.

I commented to one of  our blogging group members not long ago that if not for bad luck she'd have no luck at all. She was having a run of serious bad luck including deaths in the family and was having a tough time. In this instance she literally was having a run of bad luck. Or was it really Karma? Karma, you see, is subject to cause and effect and related to things you have done in the past that cause a specific event. The term karma (Sanskritकर्म) refers to both the executed 'deed, work, action, act, and the 'object, intent'.

Luck is what Karma gives you when it sees you working hard with all you've got to achieve your goal. However, luck is a result of Karma. There's almost no such thing as pure luck. If you win the lottery, it's not that the ticket came flying to you. You bought it. In this case, Karma is you buying a ticket and luck is you winning the lottery.

Karma Chameleon - according to the lyricist and lead singer (Boy George) is 
about trying to suck up to everybody. Basically, if you aren't true, if you don't act like you feel, then you get Karma-justice. That's nature's way of paying you back. Bad luck.

With Karma and luck so thoroughly intertwined, it is easy to understand why they are so commonly misused and misunderstood. Those who believe in a higher "authority" - god, the universe or whatever are likely to subscribe any luck to their personal Karma.

People have free will to choose good or evil and suffer the consequences of their actions. John Lennon addressed the notion of people accepting responsibility for their actions in his song Instant Karma.

Karma became very popular in western culture in the late 60s and early 70s when the Beatles had something of a spiritual revolution (some might call it a spiritual evolution). It has been an important part of Indian philosophy for centuries, with roots in Hinduism and Buddhism. Buddha took what he learned of Karma from Hinduism and took it in a different direction - reminding me of Martin Luther a bit.

Where do I land in all of this? Well let's just say I believe in a higher power and in taking responsibility for my actions, good, bad, or otherwise. I have no objection with calling the results of my actions Karma. The jury is still out on how I feel about reincarnation, but if I suddenly find myself a duck-billed platypus at some time in the future I expect I might reconsider.

That's my quick shack take on this week's topic. Be sure to check what the others have to say on their blogs.

RamanaPadmumRajuSrinivasConradMaria, and Sanjana---

I'll see all y'all next week, same bat time  - same bat channel.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Vaccination Drama

 I am sure most people my age remember their first mass vaccination experience. We all stood in long lines at a designated vaccination site to take the latest, greatest polio vaccine developed by a gentleman named Sabin. We popped a little sugar cube in our mouths and headed back home. Mine was given at Southgate School - the first school in California that I attended after moving from Colorado to California in 1959. That was the second polio vaccine available, the other being developed by Jonas Salk. I had that vaccination (regular needle type) years earlier in Colorado. As a result of those vaccinations,polio has been nearly eradicated. In 2016 only 42 cases of  polio were reported worldwide. Unfortunately the number of cases is on the rise, including cases caused by live strains of the virus included in the oral vaccinations.

Vaccine-derived polio is caused by remnants of earlier versions of the live virus used in the oral polio vaccine. The vaccine can be shed through feces. In places with poor sanitation, the vaccine can be spread through wastewater. Over time, the virus from the oral vaccine can replicate, regain strength and become just as virulent as the original virus against which it's supposed to protect. Most kids born after 2016 have no immunity to the most prominent vaccine-derived polio strain because that strain was thought to be on the verge of elimination and is no longer included in the primary oral vaccine they would have received.

The attempt to eradicate polio was going very well until it wasn't. Hmmmm - a few hundred cases of polio instead of hundreds of thousands. Have you heard of a case of smallpox recently? 

Now we are facing a worldwide pandemic that has killed over 500,000 Americans and 2.6 million worldwide. We are in the midst of a massive vaccination plan using vaccines approved for emergency use. Not surprisingly there is a degree of resistence to the vaccines available from a growing cadre of antivaxxers.  Covid-19 - the disease under assault by the vaccines is already mutating and changing. 

So why the drama over vaccination? Who wouldn't want a free vaccine that could protect them from serious illness and/or death? More people than you might think. Vaccination protects you and wearing a mask protects others because even if vaccinated you can be a carrier. Who wouldn't want to protect their loved ones? There are people that have been used by the government - experimented on and lied to that have a mistrust of the government. Trust me to them means buyer beware. Add to that the notion that the vaccines available for Covid-19 are seemingly  rush jobs thrown together without adequate testing and you can understand the resistance.  Then too, there is the fact that the part of the population that is the most adversely affected by Covid-19 is the least respected age group - seniors - and populations of color in our population. It is as if Covid-19 is simply the tool of natural selection and is just thinning the herd while offering survival of the fittest. Of course very few people will publicly state their support for that concept but we are clearly in the midst of  a white supremacist revolution of sorts. Lastly, a segment of  our population view Covid-19 as a biological warfare assault on the USA by the Chinese.

The decision was easy for me as every comorbidity that could affect my chances of survival is part of  my makeup. I am an obese senior citizen with type 2 diabetes and congestive heart failure. My chances of surviving a bout with Covid-19 are about the same as surviving a fight with Mike Tyson or George Forman in their prime. As we have learned how to treat the original strain of Covid-19, the new  variants are more virulent and  more highly communicable. We are likely to be dealing with this bugger for years. 

The choice is yours. Take the protection offered by vaccination or take your chances against a virus whose sole objective is survival. Don't want the government having any more control over your life? Do you really believe Bill Gates wants to microchip the planet through vaccines? Are you convinced that 5G radio frequency communications have a damaging health impact, and that either these are directly making people sick (i.e. COVID-19 doesn’t exist and people are actually suffering from 5G effects) or the radiation is depressing peoples’ immune systems and therefore making them more likely to suffer from the virus.

Your drama is your drama. Take the vaccine or do not take the vaccine. The choice is yours. Common sense win out or not. That is my take on this week's topic. For the record, I am approaching 24 hours since my second shot of the Pfizer  vaccine. No effects.

Be sure to check the other bloggers in our little blogging group to see what they think of Maria's suggested topic. 

RamanaPadmumRajuSrinivasConradMaria, and Sanjana

I'll see all y'all next week, same bat time  - same bat channel.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

The Exploration of Outer Space

Space, the final frontier...To boldly go where no man or woman has gone before. 

The irony is not lost on me. Thanks to the pandemic,we have been locked down and quarantined. Now, some states are opening up and unleashing the heretofor cooped up masses. 

While we work to once again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, we are seriously on Mars - checking out the red planet more seriously than ever before. Manned flight to Mars is on the drawing board, private enterprise is doing more for space exploration than we ever thought possible. Reusable launch vehicles are now a reality and another moon shot in the works. Once again, we have something new and exciting to keep our minds off the failures brought on by the pandemic.

Do you remember this? 

That song - in its original version - is one I 
heard on the car radio (in that infamous Mustang convertible) on the day Armstrong walked
on the moon. I was on Hwy 92 having just crossed the San Mateo bridge and headed to Half Moon Bay to meet the gang. Call it a Twilight Zone moment - the song was not released nor even  completed when I heard it. I looked for it for months as John Stewart was and is a favorite of mine.

Space exploration has been on my mind since I lived in Pueblo Colorado when my folks and I went to the drive in movietheater and watched Forbidden Planet. That was it for me - I was hooked. Then I saw The Day The Earth Stood Still on TV. The politics of the time went right over my head but boy was that robot Gort cool. In fact, the guy who owned the company that  my late wife and I worked for in the early seventies nicknamed me Gort.

Next came Star Trek and then Star Wars and all of the one off movies - including my all time fave space opera, The Last Starfighter. 

We launched Voyager and that one is still out there. Then there is the SETI Institute - America's only organization whose very existance is dedicated to searching for life in the universe.

Space has been on people's minds since the days of Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon - even longer. For all of our flaws, 
we humans are a curious race. Not  curious as odd but curious as inquisitive. What is out there? Who is out there?  What is our place in the grand scheme of things? 

So here we are - back in a space race and our timing could not be better. After being locked down for a year, we are raring to go. Private companies are building the vehicles. Our resident crazy South African is building a vehicle to get us to Mars and that Branson guy may as well. The excitement is building and should continue to do as we press on. Every milestone we reach should fuel the fire within us to keep exploring. We may even run into this little guy once again.

If nothing else, I hope this weeks blog captures some of the excitement I feel about space exploration. These are strange times we live in - and the times they are a changin'. See ya next week for the next 8 on 1 blog as we get back into the swing of things. Conrad picked this week's topic and be sure to see what the other bloggers have to say. I'll see ya next week, same bat time - same bat channel.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Will the Balance of Power Be Impacted by the Pandemic?.0

With the entire world stage dominated by the Pandemic, it is interesting to contemplate how the pandemic will impact the balance of power, if at all.

I see the world stage dominated by China/India, China/USA, and China/Australia along with USA/China, USA/India, and USA/Australia relations. Russia can possibly sneak in with their relations with Central and South American countries. Primary among those relations are the world's continued  reliance on fossil fuels.

As solar and other sources are developed pay careful attention to the countries rich in the compounds that make up the lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles. Watch how Russia, China and the USA react to those countries as they each seek to gain control over those critical resources.

How is the Pandemic impacting countries and thus possibly the balance of power? Vaccines. Watch how Russia and China share their vaccines with the nations of the world.

We have spent decades living under a Balance of Terror. Russia and the USA have long stockpiled sufficient nuclear arsenals to obliterate the planet several times, and even though the cold war ended decades ago whenever a new country enters the nuclear club it wants to flex its muscles. New alliances may be in our future and the balance of power may enter a state of flux like no other in history.

Yes the balance of power is likely to change and  I think in large part it will realign largely how we exit the pandemic. The primary influence is likely to be if the USA ever regains the respect it once commanded on the world stage that was nearly rendered extinct when our previous administration was in office. The extent of the damage it presided over is only now showing itself, including the spreading danger posed by white supremacist militias. Can we overcome the internal strife caused by POTUS 45 and his band of marauders? We are about to find out.

Please check the blogs of the other members of this unique blogging team