Featured

YOU?

I hope you take a few seconds to read to the end.

poor georgie’s almanack

Life, science, medicine, the bible, and the sun’s rising … are all based on probability.  It is 99 percent probable that the sun will rise in the morning.  Based on the way deaths are reported, there is a justifiable probability that Gene Mater was the 200,000th American to have died of the current coronavirus.

One too many.  Every one is too many.  Every one is special in their own way.  Some to family and/or friends.  Some to a wider circle.  Some to everyone.

Gene was the sum of those “somes.”

His private life was devoted to family.  His public life was devoted to the promotion of liberty.  

Promotion is too weak a word because he not only talked about it, he built it.  He was a key player in the creating of a free press in western Europe, actually setting up newspapers after the fall of the Axis ended WWII.  He not only helped find the people who could report truthfully and edit, but the people who could run the presses, and finding a working press among the rubble was not always easy.  

He did other things equally important to the post-WWII world.  Your world.  Our world.

He was a hero.

Of all my dear friends and relatives who have succumbed to the virus, his is the most symbolic because of the timing and number.  200,000 certainly is in the mass murder category.

I blame the microscopic virus for the murder and I blame the human enablers, the accessories to the crime.  The deniers.  Those who don’t wear masks.  Those who don’t distance.  Those who show their disdain for anyone but themselves.  You played a role in the death of Gene and my other heroes.  

You are an accomplice to his murder.  An accomplice to all covid murders, no matter how disassociated, you have led yourself to believe that you are super special. You would rather see someone die.

Shame on your lack of caring for your fellow man, woman, and child.  

Shame.  

west coast fires, now what?

LIFE?
Checking in on several West Coast friends and relatives.
One comments on a fortuitous wind change.
Another says …  Wednesday was like Nuclear Winter.  Apocalypse.  Thursday is worse because the dust is settling to ground level.Friday?  Who the hell knows? We are looking into alternatives to breathing.Will keep you posted.”
Two days later.  No word.

Black Lives Matter is a little funny

fe7f408684d38cd15c68130412bfb5d0.jpg

Black Lives Matter is a little funny.

Not funny like ha-ha.

But funny how three little words can be so unusually powerful that most Americans agree.

So powerful that strong moms, vets, and people of all skin colors put their lives on the line to burn a vital message into our brains.

So powerful that weak people who never learned to share in kindergarten pull out their guns to protect themselves against those three little words.

Congratulations demonstrators, you have done your jobs.

You have our rapt attention.

Now what?

Isolation musings

Poor Georgie’s Almanack:  Thurs. July 23, 2020XPo7N3--_400x400.jpg

Musings on yesterday, another day in a long string of CoVid-19 inspired isolation.

  • Had a long phone conversation with an Auto Insurance agent.  I Was trying to lower my payment since we only drive about 25 miles a week.  The agent sounded like a 17-year-old girl.  She ended with a 70-year-old expression.  “Good-bye, Mr. Kroloff you’ve been swell.”
  • After watching my wife Susan for about 5 minutes I asked, “What are you thinking, just looking straight ahead for so long?”  Her answer.  “I’m staring at the chair.”  I decided it was best not to ask a follow-up question.
  • Later I talked with one of my favorite retired spies.  He asked if there will be Presidential Debates this year.  I am a historian, so told him I’d have an answer in November.  He is the one who predicts the future.  Everything is mixed up.
  • Last week I posted an essay titled, “WHAT IF GOD IS A STRING?”  It covered a lot of territory including my stay in a hospital just down the hall from Covid wards.  I should have added a couple sentences regarding how different religions, clans, countries and tribes have developed their own unique “origin” or “creation” stories.  Today, a large clan of scientists who study cosmology is creating a modern epic about the formation of the universe.  It is called “The Big Bang.”  Coincidentally, cosmic creation begins just like the Islam, Hebrew, and Christian Bibles.  They tell us that In the beginning there was nothing and then there was everything.  It is the same thing but different.
  • It also occurred to me that every day in isolation is Wednesday

What if your god is a string?

d68t8nu-a687f0df-8c7f-4e44-97c4-1e145e344e05.jpgpoor georgie’s almanack

George Kroloff … Thurs. July 9, 2020

It seems that every civilization, every tribe, every nation, and every family has a creation story.  They differ.  Something happened on a mountain top.  Or in the sky. Or because a stork brought a family a baby.

Creation stories changed over the years as people discovered and communicated new information.

Some scientists are working on creation stories for every “thing” that moves and even for things that appear to be dead, inanimate, and just lie there like a lump. For instance, a tiny grain of sand. Or, the even tinier “things” that somehow merged to build the atoms that constructed the grain of sand. Amazingly, those atoms turn out to have been built just like all other atoms that over time have joined together to make all bigger “things.”  Like brains, seas, suns, and the cosmos.  Or, as my father said, everything is the same thing but different.  All atoms are adaptations of other atoms.

Our Universe, we are told, started about 14 billion Earth-years ago from nothing, and in a millisecond the building blocks for every single thing exploded into being.  We call that event The Big Bang.  Then, and now, every thing contains information and every thing communicates with everything else, according to some science.

A few weeks ago I was thinking a lot about information and communications, while flat on my back in a hospital. A doctor had tried to simply explain my problem.  He said, my nervous system was not communicating, or talking, with other systems under my skin.  Especially the systems that control the surge of blood that rushes through my body every time my heart beats. When I stood up, not enough blood flowed uphill to my brain and I collapsed.  The small blood vessels didn’t get the message to squeeze tighter and push that lollygagging blood back to the lungs and cranium.

e1a1516b838fde5983580d6040e3d1ab.png

(Apparently, the two systems reconnected and I’m almost normal again.)

I assume my doctor was saying that my body systems, on their own, were making brain-like decisions.  These systems are comprised of cells.  Whatever makes up cells has taught them to take decisions.  A typical decision is whether to attack or absorb a neighboring cell.

image-1.jpg

When a corps of cancer cells invades a camp of red corpuscles, why do some corpuscles just give up, and others fight like the Spartans and Athenians?  I wondered if those brain-like decisions deep in my blood system were made before my brain’s nervous system got a “heads-up” message that my internal Wifi system was down.  What messages are being transmitted?  Clearly not all of them.  How are decisions made, and what determines which messages get passed on?  What language are they using to transfer information?  To communicate!

That night, laying in a hospital bed I couldn’t sleep. My physical condition was not aided by seeing the hospital staff in full battle-gear walking down the hall to the nearby ward with coronavirus patients.  To change my mood, I opened my curious but unscientific mind, and began thinking that lots of big cosmic stuff and funny tiny stuff look and act alike.  Others seem to be acting differently.  Are they communicating in different languages?  Fighting?  Just saying “HUH, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?’

 

I remembered that Albert Einstein famously told us E = Mc(2). The E is shorthand for Energy.  The M represents Mass (like a grain of sand).  c(2) has to do with the speed of light and I don’t think that is important to the following.

What is important is that Energy and Mass really are two forms of the same thing. That fact is the only substantive thing I can remember from the glorious day a drop-dead-beautiful high-school substitute physics teacher walked into our Junior classroom and turned on our senior hormones. (The physics we studied were spelled physiques.)

Anyway, before the EMTs rushed me to the hospital, I had read an article on a web site that reviewed a complicated academic report in layman’s terms.  Several scientists were recounting evidence that all energy contains and conveys information.  What information?  They don’t know.  But, common sense was saying to me that there must be a common language, a Universal Language, because so many things look and act like each other.  And affect each other.

neuron-galaxy.jpg new york times

During the past few decades, books, scientific papers, and popular websites like TED Talks, have been explaining one version or another of “String Theory.” It is a modern-day creation story about everything in our universe.  How the cosmos started and became what it is, and what we are.

The scientists use modern tools like supercomputers and the Hubble Telescope for the big stuff and electron microscopes for the little stuff, like figuring out the makeup of cancer cells.  As I understand it, in one way or another, everything in our universe is built the same way from the same kind of strings and are directed by some still-unknown knowledge how to use their stringy tools to build new structures, like a baby.

I once asked the director of a world-class genetics lab how, in a mother’s womb,  stem cells knew (or were told by supercells) that they would begin working on building a knee, while others were creating an earlobe.  Apparently, there are cells or parts of cells that act like a construction foreman directing which stem cells would build the different parts of a baby.  Some things in that woman’s womb were making brain-like decisions during the baby-building project.  There probably is a manual or architectural plan for building a baby.  We don’t know how to access or read it.

Plans are a kind of language.  We wax poetically about the language of the Stars but not much about the language of the sand or a wave at sea … or the hurricane which looking down from the International Space Station looks and often acts suspiciously like a scaled-down version of our Milky Way Galaxy.  Interestingly, there are a gazillion other spiral galaxies across the heavens just like ours.

In case I lost you, let me refresh. During an event about 14 billion Earth years ago, out of nothing, there was everything.  Everything being all the stuff that became our expanding universe.  Things like stars in the sky, stars underfoot on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and starfish at the beach.  And everything is built by itty-bitty bunches of energy, billions of years old.  They have formed a humongous Legos-like set with virtual boxes full of vibrating strings. How they fit together is yet-to-be-answered.

All those strings popped-up when The Big Bang banged. To some scientists, violin strings mimic the strings at the heart of the Big Bang.  The strings carry information. When they are twanged by a finger with different energies, different sounds come out.  Sounds are energies that contain information.  The language we use to translate the violin’s sounds from its strings is called Music.

maxresdefault. violin string.jpg

So, we humans and every thing else everywhere, are bundles of strings (or energy, or information) in different forms.  Unfortunately, human evolution allowed us to sense only a very few of the vibrations.

Fortunately, we are learning how to sense more. A few machines have been created to help us hear or see some of what is hidden from us.  Like an AM/FM radio or X-Ray device.  We don’t know much about a lot of other “things.” For example, a Smithsonian Magazine article claimed that about 100-trillion hard-to-detect neutrinos created by The Big Bang are right now passing through our bodies every second.

Still staring at the hospital’s ceiling I wondered how a single hydrogen electron makes the decision to jump into another orbit around a tiny neutron. What communication/information is being transferred?  And why do the electron and neutron want to make a Menagerie de Troi with a couple of oxygen atoms that, in turn, will join a community, like a hippie-commune, and combine to make a raindrop?  And why does that raindrop commune of atoms join with similar ones to make what we call a sea?  And if the water atoms are communicating information to each other and making waves, how is it that they often appear to be getting along better than we humans?  What is the secret of their communication?

Are they related like the Lakota Sioux American Indians and speak the same language?  Seems so.  But, what happens, such as in my body, when the strings that make up my blood and brain systems lose their electric connection.  Is our universe filled with communications and occasional mis-communications?

Rosetta_Stone

I concluded, just before finally falling asleep, that the granddaddy of all Nobel Prizes will be for the person or group that discovers a Cosmic Rosetta Stone unlocking the language of the stars. (The Rosetta Stone is a rock on which an ancient Egyptian government had a message carved in three languages. It was the breakthrough tool in figuring out how to read hieroglyphics, one of the languages.  Another language was Greek.)

Whoever or whatever provides the funds for the research that helps translate every little and big “thing” will get the biggest-ever bang for their buck.

nobel coin.jpeg

XXX

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

illustrations

stork

https://www.deviantart.com/cookiebaby722/art/Moonlight-Stork-Baby-377598234

blood system

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/770326711252862513/

cancer cells

https://www.news-medical.net/news/20181029/Scientists-discover-kill-code-in-all-cells-that-can-be-triggered-to-destroy-cancer.aspx. Medical Sciences book review Oct. 29, 2018

Image Credit: Kateryna Kon / Shutterstock

brain, cell, internet

wikipedia

dancing violin strings

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vH_5XUW8zo

Rosetta stone

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosetta_Stone

a touch of politics, baseball, basketball, one French word, history, a urinal in the National Press Club and that pesky little “ç”

poor georgie’s almanack.    June 25, 2020

This is a nice little story.  It has a touch of politics, baseball, basketball, one French word, history, and a urinal in the National Press Club.

I am not addicted to George Will, the conservative political columnist.  He has a highfalutin way to say simple things.  Each column seems to have one word that needs to be looked up to figure out what the devil he is trying to say.

However, I am addicted to George Will’s alter-ego, a sports columnist and author.  Yesterday he wrote about America’s addiction to Baseball.  As expected it had one of those hifalutin words, “aperçus.”

5e5f08b7de13fdb5c06197927debd430.jpgThat, if you Will, in a very convoluted way made me think of President John F. Kennedy’s political counselor, Lawrence F. O’Brien, a truly nice man from Massachusetts.  He was one of the three Postmasters General for whom I worked as director of special projects.    

jfk stamp. download

I learned he, too, had an alter ego.  The other Larry O’Brien was addicted to basketball.

Most people might have thought politics was Larry’s vocation and basketball his avocation.  For a while they were right.  Then his vocation and avocation flipped.

Background: I forget why Larry left his job at the White House dealing with politicians.  But, there were a lot of perks as a cabinet officer.  For instance, he had the biggest most elegantly wood-paneled office in Washington.  

One of my tasks was to be an advance-man.  A few of us on O’Brien’s staff took turns setting-up and shepherding his many business trips around the country. 

Each of us would devote a lot of time preparing.  We would be coordinating with folks in Washington and wherever he was going.  Then we would fly to the site or sites, arriving two or three days in advance to coordinate with the hotel, the venue, the police, the news media, local politicians, and the undertaker who usually supplied the black cars for the “caravan” that sped us from one speech or meeting to another.

Once I forgot to check-out the trunk of the limo.  The luggage compartment popped open and, with Larry standing next to me, I began loading his suitcase.  Oops, the trunk was full of the phony grass used around graves at burial ceremonies.  Fortunately, the PMG knew more about advancing than I did.  He shrugged it off.

Usually, the trip back to Washington was the best part of the job.  Almost always the flight home was just Larry and Georgie chatting, in first class no less, sort of unwinding and getting to know each other.  

We both had other jobs not related to public appearances.  Larry was running the largest civilian government agency, as well as still doing liaison work between the White House and Congress.  

I was mostly tied-up with the introduction of ZIP Code to the nation’s letter writers and explaining to reporters why and how the postal cops (The Inspection Service) just busted some really bad guys. 

Larry obviously adored his only son, “Young Larry,” who around that time was an Army First Lieutenant in Vietnam, at the height of the fighting.  A very vulnerable position.  Meanwhile, the senior O’Brien was working for a president (Lyndon Johnson) who powerfully backed the devastating Southeast Asian battles.  Larry’s concerns were an occasional topic of our conversations.  

O’Brien was not an orator, nor much of a public speaker.  He’d look down though his glasses onto the podium and see a typewritten page, try to memorize the next sentence or two, and look up to talk.

“Bam,” right in front of his already impaired eyes would be the intense, almost disabling lights set up by the TV crews.  

basketball hoop.jpg

Then came the speech in Springfield, Mass, his home town.  It doesn’t matter that I can’t remember a word or the theme.  The event was in a high-school gym … the very basketball court where he grew up loving the game.  

It was off-the-cuff, humorous, sad (bringing a tear to the eye), informative and one of the best speeches of the hundreds I’ve heard throughout the years.  He didn’t have to look down and readjust his eyes.   

At least in my presence, O’Brien was not one to show much emotion or even enthusiasm.  He was just sort of an even presence, accepting life as it flowed over and around him. 

Once, long after the Post Office days, while standing at a urinal at the National Press Club in Washington doing what one does in those situations, I looked up and who should be at the urinal to my immediate right, but Larry O’Brien.

By then he was well settled-in as Commissioner of the National Basketball Association, which logic said should be an ideal place for him to work.  

love basketball.jpg

“Larry,” I asked, “how’s the new job?” wondering if his dreams had been fulfilled or shattered.

I never saw such a joyous, animated O’Brien.  He loved it, I learned.  Not just the basketball stuff, but the whole package.  

He could go to any game he wanted.  And he worked in an environment in which he could enjoy and contribute so much that now The Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy each year goes to the winner of the NBA Finals.  It is a biggie.

This, curiously, brings me back to columnist George Will and the confusing word “aperçus” in his recent column on sports obsessions.  

Apparently, that word is the past participle of the French verb apercevoir.  Something most of us would be afraid to speak, let alone write.  

I learned from Professor Google that among other things it is a synonym for “synopsis.”

Every synopsis of obituaries about O’Brien that I’ve seen, emphasizes Larry’s obsession with politics.  

Thank you Mr. Will for reminding me again that there is more to just about everything than meets the eye, and especially in this case, the “ç”.  Whatever that is.  

il_794xN.1345697161_233w.jpg

WILL THERE BE AN ACUTE SHORTAGE OF GRANDPARENTS? IF SO, IS THAT A GOOD THING OR BAD?

875bd72e9322116e650513472db801db.   uncredited picture from BestLifeonline.com.jpg

Everything we see, we hear, we feel, and what we believe, is relative to how we process what we see, we hear and we feel.   

For instance, we stand on a corner and watch a bus.  The passengers behind the windows are moving from left to right.  At that exact moment the passengers see us sliding from right to left.  (That’s a simplified explanation of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, which is about physics, but also works for some metaphysics.)  

So, please consider these four harsh and quite unpleasant big-picture statements that really are about money.

  1. Millions of otherwise reasonable Americans and citizens of other countries think supporting an unborn baby’s right to life is more important that their grandparents’ right to life.  Or vice-versa.
  1. Millions assume the survival of a business is more important than the survival of its staff and customers.  Or vice-versa.  
  1. Millions believe health insurance is a privilege only for those who can afford it, and the government should not be responsible for the others.  Or vice-versa.
  1. Millions are convinced it is more important to strengthen the safety net for wealthy people and businesses than the net for poor people (including the working poor).  They essentially argue that a strong circulating dollar is more important than a strong DNA.  Or vice-versa.

Millions of others probably are like me.  We bounce around in the middle between the vice and the versa.  We know that once in office every politician’s vote affects constituents’ quality-of-life and quality-of-death.  We know that some votes seem relatively innocuous yet unforeseen consequences can lead to tragedy.  

E.g, an unfilled pothole causes a car to veer into an oncoming vehicle.  Injuries occur.  That might not have happened if either of the drivers had learned about defensive driving.  But, someone made a budget decision to drop drivers-ed from their school curriculum because the money was needed to upgrade its football stadium, which grew in size.  Meanwhile, it had been a hard winter and someone else  knew there were too many pot holes and too little money to hire more workers.  So potholes grew too.

If you’ve lived in a rural school district, that kind of thinking would not be unusual. 

But, we don’t ask our elected officials (down to county and lower levels) how they determine whose life is worth saving or improving, and whose life is on the other side of the divide.  And why they think the way they do?  Especially in allocating budget monies.

For the most part, those of us in the middle don’t have an opportunity to ask decision makers about the pros-and-cons they considered when choosing options that affect our lives.  Especially the cons.  

So, we depend on the rapidly shrinking “edited and fact checked” free press.  We know that most of what we hear or read is provided by people who thrive on providing us what we want to hear or read, without nuance, or even what we in the middle consider to be fact-checked.  

Unfortunately, with minimal exceptions, members of the media neither ask nor report on the often complicated decision-making process.  In part they have given up and assume politicians will not answer, or bureaucrats will pivot off onto another topic, or the person behind the podium will stop them from even having an opportunity to ask. 

Grandmas and grandpas like me have no knowledge of what is going on behind the facades erected by newsmakers so we fear the worst.  We fear for our future and fear for the future of our children and their children.  

No matter what we may say to others, behind the facades we ourselves have built, we are relatively sure fear is stronger than hope.  And we fear we are as expendable as a battered old penny.

Or vise-versa.

What do you think?  

———————————————————————————————————uncredited picture from BestLife.com