We Waste the Few Opportunities We Get For Change

How many elections will we allow to pass before we realize that we can no longer wait for the changes that need to happen?  The pattern I see is clear.  An election year arrives, we listen to party platforms, propaganda, flame wars and the kind of dialogue that is unhelpful and divisive.  We place our vote and wait to see who “wins”.  When the party we voted for doesn’t get in we say “oh, well… four more years and we’ll try again”.  We don’t really realize how few kicks at that can we really get.  Hell, I didn’t even realize it until 10 minutes before this sentence, while watching a Real News Network interview.

Let’s do that math now, shall we?  I’m 50 years old.  The legal age to vote in Canada is 18.  So far I have had 32 years as a legal voter in Canada.  Let’s divide that by a typical 4 year term.  The answer is pathetic.  I have had about 8 opportunities to vote in Canada’s federal elections.  I have had 8 opportunities since 1985 (rough calculation but it is very close).  

Back in 1985 I was young, ignorant and hopeful for the future.  That first election was a landmark moment for me.  I mean, I was able to finally vote!  Being a young, new voter I had no clue about the political environment, the nitty-gritty of political issues and how they related to me personally.  Out of the last 8 years I voted for the CPC 3 times, thinking that if mom and dad liked the CPC than I should also.  After all they knew something I didn’t, or so I thought at the time.  The next two elections I abstained from voting, because I reached a conclusion that the Conservatives were not going to be the best for Canada… ever.  

Yet I was still not Liberal and I wasn’t going to vote for them, as mom hated them, and if mom hated them there had to be a good reason.  I felt it was pointless to vote at all, so for a time I just stopped caring about my vote.  I didn’t feel it mattered and my voice was drowned out by a multitude.  By this time I blew away about 5 elections just learning the political environment.  I was 38 years old, give or take.  I became a Liberal supporter shortly after this, because I felt that I finally understood that the state our nation was in was obviously because of the misgovernment of the CPC.  So, in the following 2 elections it was the LPC who I voted for.  As an aside there was that extra one in there due to that proroguing incident that avoided the non-confidence vote against Harper, but that is an aberration in the pattern.  

But then, something happened.  Something broke inside my brain that shattered the illusion of the entire party system.  I refocused my attention with a distrust that I never felt before.  For 7 out of 8 elections I had voted with a level of ignorance that today I find appalling.  This last federal election I voted strategically, with many others, just to get a tyrant out of office.  I voted NDP, and not because I believed anything they said.  By the way, the Conservative candidate in my riding didn’t win.

So, what is the point of this personal history?  Why am I telling you all this?  Out of 40 years as an eligible voter, I only got 8 or 9 chances to have my voice heard.  Each time it didn’t matter what the party platform was, what promises were made/honoured/broken, or what controversy ruled from moment to moment.  Until very recently I hadn’t really realized how untrustworthy and inept every single politician is.  I found that it didn’t matter who was in power, who promised what or who did what behind the backs of the voters.  Our country still seems to be sliding further down Parliament Hill, and if it continues in this manner, it will drown in the raging river of history.  Last election I put in great effort in my writings, cartoons, memes, and social media comments to push this point home.  Because I wasted 8 elections learning this does not mean that everyone has to waste a good portion of their life figuring it out.  Being an optimist, I would like to think that I have about another 12 elections left in me and I’d like to spend the next 50 years of my life in relative security.  

My point is simply that we all only get a few shots in our lifetimes.  I get the feeling that our political system knows this and uses this to keep the same pattern of robbery and ruin going.  I mean, after a while new generations of foolable people become eligible to vote and the cycle begins anew.  So… exactly how many elections are will all willing to let pass until we wake up and demand the change we need?  How many campaigns of lies are we willing to suspend disbelief in, and how many times are we going to play the my-party-is-best game, until we start using our votes effectively in order to kill the status quo?


Since September 11, 2001

It’s not about the Muslims. It’s never been about the Muslims. It’s not even about terrorists, either. It’s about excuses that give permission to corporations, corporations that contract out their own military to the government, to move in and take valuable resources (in this case oil) from those nations. Have you not noticed that every administration has their own war, for their own corporations (republican corporations or democrat corporations) and only in countries that have a valuable resource (in this case oil rich nations)?

Did you not even try to wonder why it is that ISIL exists in the first place? Did you keep yourself blind to the fact that when the US “pulled out” of Iraq that they left behind military hardware, into which ISIL somehow came into possession? Why does this not seem very odd to you?

Okay, did you honestly not realize that the US government uses, non government, military contractors in Middle East nations? That’s what “contractors” actually means, my friends. Did you know that “military contractors” is simply a longer way to say “mercenary”? Well, it is. Now that you know that little truth, that seems to skip by every single news agency (including the “good” ones), you can pretty much deduce that when the US says it is “pulling out” their troops from a foreign nation, they are actually NOT pulling out the mercenaries they hired. Those “corporate” troops get to stay and work for the best interest of, not the American people, not the nations that have been suffering the effects of ISIL, but for US corporations that are only interested in increasing their capital? Did you also not realize that the profit they make NEVER “trickles down” to the people, for the people… and is never handled by the people?

Did you not know that it doesn’t matter if you are liberal or conservative, LGBT or hetero, white/black/hispanic/asian etc., you are still suffering from corporatism? If you have to work 9-5 – and often 7 days a week, just to survive – did you not realize that YOU are not profiting from these wars? You are being used. If you hate Muslims it is because you have been fooled into patterns of thought that misdirects your rage (often invented and not true) toward other people who find these wars – and the hate that is manufactured to support them – despicable?

Conflict is manufactured, for the monetary gain of a few people. It doesn’t matter if you hate or like Muslims or any other ethnic group, because as long as you are busy fighting those who are not in control, you are NOT fighting those who are guilty of the real crimes perpetrated against human beings all over the world every day. As long as white fights against black, poor against poorer, this situation can NEVER be solved. Wake the hell up!


The Wonder & Potential of Trappist-1

When the Spitzer space telescope was launched in 2003 few (if any) imagined that it would be used to find planets orbiting around the red dwarf star, Trappist-1. Yet that’s what the research group, headed by Michael Gillon, astronomer at the University of Liege, Belgium had done. Spitzer was not initially intended to find planets. It’s mission was to observe the universe in infrared wavelengths. The team that discovered the new worlds in Trappist-1, saw the potential in Spitzer and worked toward making this wonderful discovery possible. This find is amazing for many reasons, but those that I see that are at the leading edge are; three of the seven are nested beautifully in the habitable zone of the host star, and the strong suggestion of liquid water.

How water managed to get onto these three worlds is not completely known, however the team theorizes that the planets in question started further out from the star, where water ice was abundant during the system’s formation, and migrated inward to their current orbits. I’ve looked for the reasoning behind this and did not find any. However, I will take a rough stab at it. All seven worlds around Trappist-1 A influence each other gravitationally. They tug, pull and jostle one another as they circle the star in days-long orbits. This aspect of their behaviour tells me that these worlds would have been prevented from forming in the number and sizes they have so close to the star itself. If planets formed that close there would not have been that many. Some of the seven planets had to have formed elsewhere. In the end the matter that we see as seven planets would have formed perhaps three or four larger planets. But, this is not what we see.

Additionally, it is doubtful that water would survive so close to the star in ice form long enough to be delivered to the protoplanetary bodies. The water had to have been delivered further out where the star’s warmth could not melt, and evaporate, that water once the Trappist-1 A protostar began its core-burning, main sequence, life.

Whatever we discover about these planets is guaranteed to be extremely valuable, whether or not there is life on any or all of them. We are certain to learn more about how earth-like worlds form. The conditions required for stable orbiting, water bearing, life sustaining planets is turning out to be a very complicated story. The answers to the questions we ask will definitely lead to more complex questions. Discoveries such as this are the planetesimals that coalesce into a better understanding of how we got here, who and what we are and where we’re going.


The Mars Race – Getting There First at all Cost

This artist’s impression shows how Mars may have looked about four billion years ago. The young planet Mars would have had enough water to cover its entire surface in a liquid layer about 140 metres deep, but it is more likely that the liquid would have pooled to form an ocean occupying almost half of Mars’s northern hemisphere, and in some regions reaching depths greater than 1.6 kilometres.So, it appears that the Mars race is on. NASA, ESA, China, SpaceX, Boing and others are some of the top contenders for the prestigious claim to put people there first. No, Mars One doesn’t belong on this list simply because it really is a crap show and I honestly doubt their actual intent is to go to Mars. For Mars One, the colony they claim to want to start, if it is a sincere attempt and if it actually gets off the ground, will likely end up with all members dead within months (and I’m being generous). So this brings me to the following question. Should not survivability be tallied into the equation? It’s one thing to get there and plant a flag with a human hand – and not a robotic one – but it is quite another to have a permanent second residence for humankind. I’m sorry, guys, but if your crew dies, you should forfeit the prize.

Besides that, who would ever trust you to get them there and back safely next time? After all, if Mars One sends a hundred colonists to the red world and they all die of starvation, or toxicity, or radiation, or any number of other causes that we have not yet mitigated, then the venture was never intended to advance knowledge or have a second planetary home for humankind. The people you send trust that you aren’t just sending them to a sterile grave. It’s not necessary to rush it if five, ten or twenty years more of research and development will increase survivability.

There was a story from an amature writer many years ago that produced a piece of work where the scenario was that the Soviet Union had gotten to the Moon first, though it was a one way trip and the cosmonaut was doomed the moment he left Earth. In that situation, should the former USSR get the recognition of getting there first, or should there be a moral limit on the at-all-cost mentality? I supposed you could claim the prize of being first across the line even though you stumbled and collapsed at the end, but history has a brutal memory when it comes to failures of the epic nature Mars One heralds, and prestige was never awarded.

The more we humans involve ourselves in space the more morality will matter. Obviously we cannot treat other worlds like we have treated the Earth, because there may be many worlds within immediate reach that have alien life thriving on them. When the Galileo probe was finished at Jupiter NASA directed it into the gas giant rather than risk the probe contaminating Europa, which is suspected of harbouring sea life within a subsurface ocean. NASA is conscientious about how the search for knowledge can affect unknown ecosystems, and that it is part of their MO.

So, morality in our spacial endeavors is already being used today. Should that be limited in the name of knowledge? It is understood that with great risk comes great knowledge, but should that risk be human lives?

I know what you may be thinking, “isn’t space exploration an inherently risky business?”. Well yes, it is. You are never going to remove all risks, and that is true of any venture beyond current human experience. However, it is also responsible to do everything one can to reduce those risks to human, and extraterrestrial, lives. Trying to get to Mars too fast will inevitably trade off the safety we can employ for a bit of prestige. Money is nothing to lose… lives of the bold, though misguided, few who want to be the first humans on another planet is too high a cost. NASA may get there last, but they will get there safely. And that is as prestigious as you can get.