Wednesday, 16 May 2018

NORAD's 60th Birthday

     I worried that I was a bothersome nuisance in a wheel chair, propelled by Major Leslie Wenzel and retired Darrell Levitt, yet I was thoroughly spoiled here in Colorado Springs during the Friday-Saturday, 11-12 May, celebrations eulogizing the uniqueness, importance, and accomplishments of NORAD.  All this was due to my daughter, Barbara, and I being invited as Guests of Honour.
Embellished with positive greetings from the US president and Canadian prime minister and with numerous speeches by top Canadian and American political and military leaders, the celebrations started off Friday with a dinner and ball of some 600 attendees at the Broadmoor Hotel and ending Saturday at Peterson Air Force Base with a cake-cutting event and several flypasts by the 9-plane Canadian Snowbirds aerobatic team. 
It took 3 of us to handle the sword that cut the cake:  Our popular NORAD commander, General Lori Johnson, was joined by the youngest current member and by me as the oldest NORAD  survivor. 
The Joint Canadian-U.S. Military Group recommended the formation of NORAD in late 1956. It was approved in Feb 1957 with HQ at Ent Air Force Base, in downtown Colorado Springs.  The annual cost of $5.5 billion included the Nike-Zeus program and 3 Ballistic Missile Early Warning sites (BMEWS).
Canada and the United States signed the North American Air Defence Command 12 May 1958 thus placing the security of their people into each others’ care.   
Since then there have been 24 US commanders and 24 Canadian deputy commanders of the US and Canadian personnel intermingled at the many NORAD establishments in North America.
In 1963 I was among the group that moved NORAD HQ to the Cheyenne Mountain underground site and began operations there. Canada’s underground bunker, built 1959-63, is in North Bay, Ontario.
I was to take geology courses from the professor who had recommended the location to NORAD.  As he was just a professor, NORAD chose to employ expensive advisors who later came up with the same answer.     
My first NORAD connection came in 1958 when I was transferred to Air Defence Command in St. Hubert, Quebec, and in 1959 when I relieved the CO at the Mid-Canada Line site of Bird, Manitoba.  This was followed by 13 months as military commander of the 500-mile-long DEW-Line (Distant Early Warning) sector with its main site in Cape Parry, NWT and four satellite sites, two either side.   Here I made many friends among the Inuit, the subject of a different blog.  From the DEW line I was transferred in 1963 to NORAD HQ in Colorado Springs.
So, what is my assessment of NORAD?
It is a fine organization that, for the sake of human survival, needs to be a leader among the millions of concerned activists and scores of institutions that are striving for a safer world with greatly-reduced armaments.
In my memory, at the working level, US-Canadian integration was great and many friends were made.  There also were many marriages.  USAF personnel were superb at ignoring the inferiority complex we got when they had vast sums of money to spend, or squander, on projects we could only dream of.  Matching population differences,  our share of the cost is 10%.  Being much smaller the RCAF often got things done faster and I was to be part of this.  The USAF, nervous about its secrets, often used a NOFORN (No Foreign Eyes) stamp to deny us access to such documents.  Nevertheless, I got to write or revise several Noforn documents.    Our USAF friends would stamp the Playboy Magazines “Noforn” to emphasize their attitudes to Noforn.
One night when, as a major, I was the duty controller under a USAF colonel, some Soviet activity was reported by the USN.  I was summoned to the guarded intelligence room for a briefing, then ordered not to inform my USAF boss because I had a higher security clearance than he did.  Fortunately, the Soviet activity proved innocuous.  But, it was an awkward night as my boss was curious as to why I had been summoned.
One day, when I was on the Dew Line, a submarine surfaced briefly off our western shore.  I scrambled my entire air force which consisted of one Beaver.  We flew for an hour but found no trace of the sub, so I sent a brief message to St. Hubert and Colorado Springs: “Sub surfaced. Beaver scrambled. Sub fled.”  Of course I followed it with a detailed report but I never got a reply telling me whether it was one of ours or one of theirs. 
On the DEW Line we were totally unarmed so a small landing party from a sub could easily destroy us.  In my report I requested a few of those surplus WWII rifles.  A year after I left the DEW Line they arrived.
We did get the feeling that the Soviet threat was overblown to justify our huge expenditures on defence.  We would get scripts written in Colorado Springs for exercises which contained errors that lessened the time that threats could be reported and analysed.  My attempts to insert corrections were ignored as the script ran its course.  I did manage to correct this when I was moved to NORAD HQ and put in charge of writing exercises.
    Our human world is playing a dangerous game. Embracing nuclear weapons gave us the MAD era - mutual assured destruction.  Threats, real or inferred, make us nervous and prone to miscalculations.  
Close calls have been frightening, but we know only about those that have been declassified.
On 05 October 1960, the BMEWS site in Thule, Greenland, advised NORAD they had detected a massive Soviet launch, accuracy 99.9%.  This would allow us 10 minutes to decide on a retaliatory launch.  The NORAD commander was off flying and could not be reached, leaving Air Marshall Roy Slemon, RCAF, in charge.  He quickly determined the locations of USSR leadership that implied a launch was most unlikely, so he called off the alert.  Later it was determined that Thule, the rising moon, and a Soviet launch site were aligned and that the BMEWS pulses were bouncing off the moon.   Thule crews did not realize that their radar pulses could reach as far as the moon although the Australians had accomplished this feat earlier.    
On 27 October 1962 USN ships harassed Soviet naval ships off Cuba.  One of these, sub B-59, dove to escape and remained submerged for several days, unable to communicate.  To force it up the USS Beale dropped dummy depth charges.  Believing them real, the sub commander, along with his political adviser, ordered a nuclear torpedo launch.  Fortunately the sub-flotilla commander, Vasili Arkhipov, persuaded B-59 to surface and await orders.  The same day Captain Maltsby’s U-2 got lost and strayed 480 km over Chukotka peninsula and were met by Soviet nuclear-armed MiG interceptors.  US F-102As were then scrambled to escort Maltsby out.  On 01 May 1962 Gary Power’s U-2 was shot down deep over the USSR.  He survived as a prized prisoner.
In 1983 Lieutenant Stanisav Petrov, on duty in Moscow, got a warning that US missiles were headed their way.  He decided against a counter strike due to a gut feeling it could not be true. 
Soviet restraint saved us then.  How serious were flaws at NORAD?   
At 0300, 09 Nov 1979, Zbigniew Brzezinski, security advisor to President Carter, was awakened by a NORAD phone call that the USSR had just launched 250 missiles towards the USA.  A second call warned it was now 2,200.  Knowing that everyone he loved would soon be dead, Brezezinski concentrated on ordering a counter strike to ensure Russia would suffer the same fate.  Ten US and Canadian jets were scrambled and “Looking Glass”, the SAC command post, was airborne without Carter who had not been informed.   
A third phone call advised that no other detection system had seen a launch so things were put on hold.  It was discovered that a computer glitch had fed a training exercise into the live stream.  NORAD then spent $16 million to prevent such errors. 
Eric Schlosser’s 2013, 656-page, book, “Command and Control”, gives us a terrifying look at nuclear weapons, delivery systems, problems of ageing, human and computer failures.  He tells of the Pentagon admitting 32 close calls but claims he uncovered over a thousand mishaps, many serious.
The Domesday Clock of the Atomic Scientists is now set at 2 minutes to midnight.  Blame is put on a number of factors including: climate change, cyber warfare threats, misinformation, and nuclear-armed world leaders.
Sadly, the US spends more on the military than China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, France, the UK, and Japan combined.  Yet the current administration has boosted it even more (now $610 billion).  What a dangerous waste of funds that could do so much good elsewhere.  And, oh yes, do not overlook the immense funds earmarked for nuclear updates.  Our expenditures force those who mistrust us into boosting their militaries.  Yes, we have many groups with different ambitions, but slow diplomacy is much safer, cheaper, and less destructive.  The Military is built to be the servant of a country’s leaders, but the military does the fighting, the suffering, and the dying, so deserves a strong voice.  History gives us many examples of armies revolting against leaders in favour of the masses but this violence too often led to further upheavals.  Violence begets violence.
Today, how can the US military, in good conscience, support leaders who aid war criminals like the Israelis in their slaughter of the oppressed Palestinians, the Saudi Arabian crimes in Yemen, dictators in Indonesia, Latin America, the Philippines, and misguided wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria?  And, withdrawing from the beneficial Paris Environmental Agreement and the Iran Nuclear Deal warns the world not to trust the world’s greatest military power.   This demands change.
NORAD, you have the people, the brains, and the structure to work towards remedying all this.
Go for it!
Ye Olde Scribe

Friday, 30 March 2018


In a world where humans are so nasty to other humans and millions suffer horribly, I am indeed thankful and grateful to encounter so many of the superior version - people who care.   I was so impressed these past two months that may I tell you about some of them?  I was released to return home from rehab 07 March, and it has been a busy time since.
On 17 January, about 1530 (3:30 PM), I fell on my front sidewalk, shattering my right femur.   I was unable to move, Two women stopped their passing car, but were unable to lift me.   Twenty minutes later my daughter, Barbara, arrived and four people, including my grandson, Oren, got me into her car to rush me to emergency at Penrose Hospital where Dr. Barnwell started surgery at 1800, finishing at 2100.   Barbara did not get home until 0400.
For rehabilitation, I ended up, complete with catheter, in the Center at Centennial, a 4-wing, 80 bed rehabilitation facility where I was soon impressed with the organization, the single room with a view, the routine, and the staff who worked either a 12-hour, 3 days a week shift or a 5-day, 8-hour, shift.  Pay started at $12 an hour, increasing with experience.
Many of the Certified Nurses’ Assistants (CNA), mainly female, were also taking university courses to enhance their medical careers.   All were likable, capable, and cheerful.   A major drawback for me was the absence of time to socialize. Staff were kept busy answering patient needs, so it was usually a quick in and out.  Another drawback was the frequent change of staff assignments. We would have the same CNA for 3 or 4 days or nights, only to have them rotated, but some were seen again in a week or two. Each CNA was assigned about 13 patients on a daily basis so it was a problem remembering names. 
There are at least a score whom I would like to praise for their genuine concern for their patients.  I did ask them for career summaries and comments for this blog, but few found the time to do so. I do thank Lucie, Lia,  Janet, Jennifer, Karena, Lydia, Teresa, LaTisha, Jane, Elisa, Lacie, Jewel, Lenore, Kelly, Agi, Dee, Linda, Monica, Jared, Jessie, Jill, Montana, August, Zack, and others for their contributions to my on-going progress. 
I must thank Sam, a Masai from Kenya, for the extra time he gave me.   It was customary to rush patients via wheel chairs to my 3rd floor elevator for meals and therapy (occupational and physical) on the ground floor.   To allow me extra exercise, Sam cheerfully accepted my request to walk the distance by walker while he towed my wheel chair after installing a wide belt around me that he could grab if I appeared unsteady.  
I also owe a debt to Tricia in physical therapy whose hours of massaging my swollen and painful right leg, and other exercises, speeded its recovery.   Tricia traces her ancestry back to original Mexican inhabitants that predate the unification of city states into Inca and Aztec empires.
Adam in occupational therapy shared control of the gym with Tricia.   He grew up by the beach in central New Jersey, earning a BA in Television, following his father who produced children’s TV shows.   His mother is a psychotherapist and social worker,  Adam earned a degree in occupational therapy from Stockton University and worked for a few years before settling in at the Center at Centennial.   His goal is to improve lives, functions, and independence.
Tricia and Adam have a staff of 28, divided among full-time, part-time therapists, and Certified Therapist Assistants.   Included are 2 full-time Speech Language Pathologists.
Ron Albright relates that his interest in emergency medicine started when he was 10 years old so had to get special permission to take the CPR course.  Shortly thereafter, in a classroom in Texas, a classmate started chocking on what he was eating.  I dislodged the stuck food.  In the military medical school I took classes in elementary, psychology, and emergency medicine. I have saved lives with my CPR ability and helped many others.   I also try to educate patients to care better for themselves. One of my favorite quotes is Robert Williams in the movie Patch Adams “When you treat a disease you win and lose.  When you treat a patient I guarantee you win.” As I assess my life, I see that God has directed my steps into doing what I love to do.  
The kitchen staff prepared a wide assortment of tasty meals with portions far more than I could consume.  They catered to individual requests.
This human urge to excel in one’s chosen or assigned occupation, regardless of monetary returns, is too often  overlooked when assessing the successes and failures of Capitalist vs Socialist societies.
Oops!  This could lead to another blog while I slowly regain my old abilities.  Sorry for my absence.
But, before I go, I must admit how grateful I am for my 5 daughters, all of whom have been a tremendous  help.  Diane flew down from Toronto for a week of ceaseless help.  Valerie, Trish, and Linda have each driven 3 to 5 hours each time to provide help over weekends, Barbara has neglected her ranch and horses to be my mainstay.  I cannot vouch for sons but the old saying fits my picture: “A daughter is a daughter all her life.  A son is a son until he finds himself a wife.”  They have moved furniture, installed hand rails, bought me a recliner, and thoroughly spoiled me.  They have restricted me to a walker-assisted domain extending from my bedroom to bathroom to kitchen to den to dining room table where I am busy describing for buyers over 40 albums of a fabulous worldwide stamp collection started in 1928.
Ye Old Scribe

apitalist oligarchy.  Companies that succeed allow 

Friday, 5 January 2018


    Is it not long overdue to retire Jerusalem as a capital city for any warring grouping?
   Having been attacked 52 times, captured 44 times, and completely destroyed twice, Jerusalem reeks with the aftermaths of human folly. It has been vasty overused as a source of conflict. Yet, it does deserve to survive, minus politics, and as an historical mecca for those who relish human emotions.
    In Canada, in 1979, Joe Clark, to curry Jewish votes, made an election promise to move Canada’s Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. With victory for his Progressive Conservative party, he started to fulfill his promise, but was met with such animosity from other nations that he prudently abandoned the move.
    Likewise, Donald, could I convince you that a little humility is a good thing and persuade you to back off your declared goal of moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, also an election promise. It could lessen the distaste that too many in the rest of the world nurture over the numerous missteps the US has made worldwide to enhance the interests of US oligarchic capitalists, a small but powerful grouping.  The Middle East, both blessed and cursed by Geography having placed it at the confluence of Africa, Asia, and Europe, inherits an ever-changing ethnic mix that promotes both trade and turmoil. Yet, the current mix of the area is all Semite and Arab, but what is a Semite and what is an Arab?
    We humans are all one species, yet we have excelled in dividing ourselves into a bewildering array of aggressive, altruistic, economic, ethnic, language, national, political, racial, religious, etc groupings.  Greed infiltrates all of these as do dangerous human passions.
    So, what role has, and does, Jerusalem play?
   First, we need to know that Semites were an Akkadian Indo-European people who replaced the Sumerian civilization in the upper reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. They were not Arabian as widely believed.  Once-fertile Arabia became desert over 7,000 years ago (ya) before the Semitic exodus. Between 8,000 and 6,000 ya the ecological disaster of the Mediterranean breaching its bounds and flooding what became the Black Sea (origin of the Hebrew and Christian flood accounts?) prompted the Semites into fleeing.
    About 6,500 ya, Semitic Canaanites built a settlement where Jerusalem now stands, but it did not enter the history books until 4,000 ya when Egyptians recorded it under the name Rusalimum. Much later, archaeologists revealed that, about 3,700 ya, a rock wall, 1.8 metres high, was built to protect water sources. Then, 3,500 ya, Egypt expanded to include it as a vassal state under the name Urusalim.
    Jerusalem, known as Jebus, remained a Semitic Canaanite area, inhabited by the Jebusite tribe until 3,000 ya when Semitic Hebrew Israeli tribes, led by King David, attacked and sacked it. It was then called the City of David and capital of the United Kingdom of Israel even though it was in the adjacent Kingdom of Judah. The Bible tells us that David wrote psalms, played the harp, slew the Philistine’s Goliath of Gath, had 7 wives, two of whom were daughters of King Saul, numerous concubines, 19 sons, and one daughter.
    The Philistines were also Semites who fled to Gaza, Israel, Lebanon, and Syria 3,300 ya. The Greek historian, Herodotus, 484-425 BC, labelled them Palestines and the whole area Palestine.
    The Arabs, originally out of the Arabian Peninsula, were late arrivals. Converted to Islam a mere 1,300 ya, they burst out to take their language and religion to what is now the Arab League that includes Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
    While Palestine’s claim to Jerusalem as first there is valid, Islam’s claim is weak. Jerusalem is mentioned 823 times in the Jewish bible, 154 times in the Christian bible, and not at all in the Our’an (Koran).
    Nor is it mentioned in the Hindu Bhagavad, the Taoist Tao-Te Ching, the Buddhist Dhamapada, or the Zoroastrian Zend Avesta.  Outside the Judao-Christian world, Jerusalem was unimportant.
   In 622, when Muhammad fled Mecca for Medina, he was quite friendly towards the Jews and adopted many of their practices, including praying facing Jerusalem but, in 624, the Jews rejected his new religion and his friendship.  So, Muslims rejected Jerusalem and prayed facing Mecca. Muslim interest in Jerusalem became political and temporary. The based-in-Damascus Umayyad dynasty, to suppress a 680-692 dissident revolt, glorified Jerusalem, established a mosque there and started a building spree including the Dome of the Rock where a Jewish temple had stood. Myths were created, including an overnight visit to Heaven from there by Muhammad to add to the Islamic importance of Jerusalem.  Women had a significant role.  The caliphate stretched from Spain and Morocco to Afghanistan,  In 750 the Abbasids took over, moved the capital to Bagdad, neglected Jerusalem, and ruled until 1258 when overthrown by the Mongols.
    The Dome of the Rock collapsed in 1016 and Jerusalem was described as a shambles. It was not until well after the 1099 Crusader conquest did Islamic interest revive. In 1187 Saladin, the first sultan of Egypt and Syria, retook the city and his Ayyubid dynasty went on a rebuilding spree, including the Dome of the Rock. During the Crusades, Muslim treatment of the defeated was considerably more humane than Christian.
    In 1229, a grandson of Saladin ceded Jerusalem to the Crusading Franks. It was re-taken in 1239 by Ayyubid an-Nasir Da’ud only to have him give the ruins back to the Franks in exchange for help against a relative. The Franks turned the Temple Mount mosques into Christian churches.  In 1244, the Ayyubids regained control, and Jerusalem stayed under Muslin rule for 700 years.
    In 1258, the Mongols, who had swept out of Mongolia to slaughter and rape, sacked Bagdad but were met with their first major defeat 50 km north of Jerusalem at Ain Jalut in 1260 by Egyptian Mamluk forces.
    During WWI, when a British army detachment was approaching Jerusalem in a drive to take it from the crumbling Ottoman-Turk Empire, the Ottomans did not consider Jerusalem important enough to risk resources in defending it, but ordered their local commander, Captain Schwartz, an Austrian Jew, to devastate Jerusalem and to blow up the Dome of the Rock before leaving. He refused, disabled his artillery, and surrendered in December 1917 to General Allenby and his UK-Australian-Indian-New Zealand troops.
    The current power struggle in the Middle East has many contributors: Churchill’s conversion of the Royal Navy from coal to oil, the discovery of immense oil fields, the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire by Britain, France, and Italy, leaving the US and Russia out of the picture, the Versailles Treaty, the Holocaust, the spread of Islam and its breakdown into warring fractions, the re-creation of Israel and its continued aggression to seize ever more land, and the need of the US to bind itself to Israel to achieve and maintain a dominant base in the oil-rich area.  US president, Harry Truman, did have to threaten several countries with withdrawal of US post WWII aid if they did not vote for a UN bid to recreate Israel at the expense of Palestine to whom Britain owed thanks for help in defeating the Ottomans.
    Oil has been a boon to humanity, even though a source of much grief in the Middle East.  Greed quickly took control there with UK, French, then US companies, exploiting oil fields, many of which they found and developed, leaving scant amounts of the profits to the locals.  Oil came to dominate and enlarge conflicts in Persia (Iran), Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Russia, causing humanity much grief. Competing interests in the re-routing of pipelines to Israeli refineries are a major cause of the Syrian disaster.
    Sadly, the biggest culprit is Israel, heavily and consistently backed by the US. Israel has achieved
international status in creating a modern successful state but it has lost the sympathy it had due to the Holocaust.  The Palestines are not blameless but, since 1948, Israel has thwarted every attempt at a 2-state solution. With vastly superior might, thanks mainly to German reparations and US bribes, it continues to defy the UN by stealing ever more Palestine land, thus creating opposition such as Hezbollah, Hamas, and Iran who now all claim historical rights to Jerusalem. What it is doing to Gaza is criminal. Its leadership and many of its citizens treat their fellow Semites, the Palestines, as a non-entity. It has benefited from the wealth and people that much of Europe and America showered on it, sharing little with its neighbours. Yes, Israel does have millions who disclaim the harsh policies of Prime Minister Netanyahu who has a 35% current approval rating.
    Facebook and its ilk abide by rules set up by countries like China. Under Israeli orders they allow hateful attacks on Palestinians but have closed the accounts of Palestinians who protest Israeli policies. Resentment simmers but lacks power.
    The so-called West is guilty of economic, military, and political incursions into the Middle East. The lack of concern for the local people is pathetic and criminal. Yet, the West does have hundreds of organizations and millions of people bursting with empathy. Their attainment of the power to improve is a slow process.
    Perhaps a glimmer of hope lies in the rapidly-growing threat to oil from non-fossil energy sources. They should erode a major reason for Middle East conflict.
   Jerusalem, you do need to slumber for a while, but you could awake as a beacon of brotherly and sisterly co-operation. 
Make it so!

Ye Olde Scribe

Monday, 11 December 2017


     First off, I suspect that you believe you are much too busy working on your millions of current species to listen to my pleas.  But you do have self-created responsibility which gives me the audacity to venture into your good and bad characteristics.  I do thank you for fashioning a consciousness for me, but it does question if you designed one for yourself.  You were amazingly quick, this time around, and 13.8 billion years ago (bya) to accept your job by taking only a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang to realize you had only a single force to work with, so you set the thermostat down a tad to create gravity, the weak and the strong nuclear forces, and electro-magnetism.
You played with these, via trial and error, for 10 billion years, enjoying the chaos of explosions and collisions before coming up with a solar system and a planet with the right chemicals to create organisms that could self-replicate.  What a fantastic environment for experimenting!  You created trillions of species, an awesome accomplishment, but, you did take some 3.8 billion years to fashion billions of organisms like me, each with a personal consciousness which does make us question you, and to ask what is your purpose? 
Your exuberance has led to at least one species, homo sapiens, who is beginning to question your strategy   while exploring what meaning or purpose it has.
Over 99% of the species you created are now extinct.  This does question your methods.    Those currently existing number 1.6 billion that we humans have already described, a figure only 20% of what we assume we have yet to find and study.
Your planetary creation is so complex and your humans so limited that we must channel our abilities into numerous specialties: 
Our biological scientists tell me that you have devised 5 x 1037 DNA base pairs, weighing 50 billion tonnes, leaving a biosphere on this Earth of 4 trillion tons of carbon, so you have plenty to still play with.
How trustworthy are you?  You have allowed me a brief lifetime with amazing, but limited, intelligence, quite insufficient to find out, yet you also give me a curiosity to do so.  Is that fair?
  To be fair myself, I cannot blame you for those multitudes of factors over which you have no control.  You awoke amid a maelstrom that would devour anything less persistent than you.
But, Evolution, do you not have many flaws yourself?  Have you not had a one-track mind?      Having created Life, you have an insatiable desire to diversify it.  You have sought reproduction without considering compassion.  You did start out with asexual which is faster, easier, and still used.  Was it not some 1.2 bya that you dreamed up eukaryotic bisexual cells with long-term goals and adaptability to changing environments?
When you divided us into males and females you made reproduction brief and pleasurable for the male but lengthy and burdensome for the female who is saddled with gestation times in days such as: mice 20, rabbits 33, dogs and cats 60, pigs 114, goats 140, bears 210, chimpanzees 227, orangutans 260, humans 266, cows 284, and elephants 640.
By giving males, in most species, superior physical strength combined with stronger sexual drives, but without superior intelligence, you have caused  enormous harm to billions of females.  In fact, my blog #143 Rape vs Love, published 27 January 2016, describes some of them.  Your negligence is revealed shamefully in today’s society that has encouraged the emergence of women to full equality.  We are seeing increasing scores of men, who otherwise contributed much to humanity, having their careers and respect wrecked due to a failure to control the sexual impulses you gave them.
Evolution, have you not overreached yourself and therefore need a rest to contemplate what you have done and how you can correct flaws?  Something is wrong when the environments you evolve, with their varied humans, result in so many who believe that you do not exist even though they can easily see manifestations of your work, and even indulge in it themselves.
We humans, who do believe in you, suspect you are far from perfect.  Your DNA creates humans that visually belong to one sex, yet are endowed with feelings that belong to the other.
You evolved us to where we can discover our cellular composition is only 10% human with the rest bacterial, 99% of which are beneficial.  Being much smaller, bacterial cells provide less than 3% of our mass. So, who is in charge?  Who really runs the show?    Who actually is composing this blog?
Or, is this a good lesson in the importance of co-operation?  If so, why can we not do a better job of commuting with, and taking care of, each other?  
Our sub-conscious mind has always been an integral part of us so why is it only recently that our conscious mind became aware of it and how it accomplishes all those household chores, seldom bothering our much slower conscious mind that sometimes acknowledges that our gut feelings need to be considered?
The most frightening examples of your lack of empathy lie in your creations.  You have given us pain and pleasure receptacles to guide us not only among natural phenomena but also among your numerous and bewildering living organisms.  I give you credit for the plant kingdom in which life and growth depends on inanimate contributors like sun energy and water.  Your Animal kingdom is a cruel battleground where survival is a kill-and-eat necessity.  Eaters must be immune to the pain and suffering not only of the eaten but of their relatives.  Your lack of balance is criminal.  Yes, we humans are quite guilty ourselves, but you set the stage.
Actually, many of us do thank you for giving us, and a few other air, land, and sea creatures, the intelligence to know the harm we do, but we still need the will and ability to enforce changes. 
Humans, after placing themselves as number one, have rated creative intelligence in this order for the highest 15 animals:  orangutan, bottlenose dolphin, chimpanzee, elephant, crow, African grey parrot, pig, rat, squirrel, racoon, veined octopus, pigeon, dog, portia labiata jumping spider, and ant.  Evolution, are you grooming any of these as replacements when you tire of us?
I suspect, Evolution, that you are now using us to do your work for you such as evolving intelligent machines, but you have not given us sufficient intelligence to do the job minus the frightening risk of exterminating ourselves.    
Perhaps your biggest goof was to introduce Greed that has enabled a few humans to become oligarchs, manipulating the rest of us into destroying ourselves.  You must know that humans have killed, over 7,000 years,  the same number, 8 billion, humans that currently exist.
Terrifying is the fact that sores of intelligent and well-meaning scientists have been used to create nuclear arsenals that leaders claim they need for coercion that they call protection.  As reaction time is so limited, responsibility for use has been delegated to a frightening number of military personnel across the globe.
This is a topic deserving of its own blog, so here I will just remind you of just two examples of escaped exterminations and the risks of relying on human fraility:
During the Cuban missile crises when Krushchev had placed nuclear missiles in Cuba to counter missiles the US had set up in bordering Turkey, the US employed aerial and naval exercises, implying an invasion of Cuba was imminent.  The USN also dropped dummy depth charges on Soviet submarines that were nuclear armed.  To the sub crews they appeared real so Commodore Vasili Arkhipov was highly tempted to destroy his attackers - a move that would have ended all of us.  He refrained and the world avoided catastrophe.
In 1957 at the Ballistic Missile Early Warning site in Thule, Greenland, electric pulses were bounced back off the moon that happened to be in direct alignment with a Soviet launch site.  Reactions raced to the highest levels to the Norad deputy commander, Air Marshal Roy Slemon, RCAF, the man on duty to make the final decision.  He quickly, but carefully, assessed the political status that told him a strike was unlikely so he called off a real retaliatory strike.  It is dangerous to assume other humans will posses the same wisdom.
Evolution, your current playground on Planet Earth is only 10 billion years old, yet is well on its way to self destruction.  Do you really want it to end so soon?  There is so much more you could do here and we could have another 1.75 billion years before our sun loses its ability to sustain life.
Sadly, Evolution, everything we are aware of is mortal, but, really, we now have the ability and knowledge to try co-operation.  We could work together to increase our longevity, minus the aches and pains of ageing, to limit reproduction  to sustainable numbers, all of whom could have a much more enjoyable experience on this tiny, but fortunate, speck in the immensity of creation?
Accept, and enjoy, the challenge!

Ye Olde Scribe

Monday, 20 November 2017


Before delving into this topic, remember that only 10.6% of the world’s land is arable. A Western life style requires half a hectare per person to sustain it.  Only Australia, Kazakhstan, Canada, Niger, Lithuania, Uruguay, Paraguay, Ukraine, Latvia, and Guyana, exceed 0.5 and in that order, ranging from 2.0 to 0.6.  Europe and Central Asia average 0.59.  The USA has .49 not counting recent flood and drought damage.
  Whatever Nature can do man can do better.  This is by no means a new boast born of the atomic age.  Homo sapiens has always been jealous of the forces in Nature's inventory, and has striven to better them.  Nature has always burned large areas of forests with fires started by lightning.  How terribly inefficient!  Nature must build huge cumulonimbus clouds, marshal great gobs of positive and negative particles, and expend energy equal to a dozen Hiroshima bombs.  Even Early Man learned how to do the job by simply rubbing a couple of sticks together or by using a bit of flint.  Man made his own forest fires  to drive animals to slaughter.  This method killed far more animals that could be eaten or used, and it often produced deserts, but why worry?  There were lots of forests, lots of animals, and few people.  Homo the Sap may not be very good at mathematics or biology, but he has never stopped competing with Nature.
Nature has made lots of deserts, but she has had to exert prodigious effort, both in raising mountain chains to stop moisture-laden winds, and in pushing land masses all over the globe so that large areas are remote from sea breezes.  Man, on the other hand, has just plodded away - and look at the beautiful deserts he has created by simple methods:
Irrigation:   All you have to do is to apply too much water. This will raise the water table which often permits harmful salt to reach surface layers.  This has ruined irrigated areas ever since man started irrigating.  Just before the 1979 Soviet invasion, this method created new desert areas in Afghanistan.
Ploughing:   Use a "hoe" plough.  It cuts a shallow furrow allowing top soil to pulverize into dust and blow away.  This ox-drawn plough is still used in the Middle East where once-rich soil now has poor or no yield.  Many Syrian towns now lie buried under sand and dust that was once soil on cultivated fields.
Grazing:   Sheep and goats are great desert-builders. Unlike cattle, they crop so closely to the ground that plants lose their recuperative powers.  Over-grazing and intensive farming around the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates caused such heavy erosion that silt, deposited in the Persian Gulf 2,700 km away, extended the coastline of Sumerian times outwards by 300 km in 4,500 years.  Over grazing is also a factor in the huge expansion of the Sahara Desert.
Lumbering:   Do not let lush vegetation discourage you, particularly in Mediterranean climates that have wet winters and dry summers.  A little persistence, like the Greeks used, will do the trick.  Greece was once lush and fertile.  Remove some trees for ship building, some more for house building, a few to make charcoal for smelting metallic ores, and just a few more to warm the house in winter.  Clearing all these forests left good soil for farming, and patient winter rains slowly washed it all into the sea.  Yes, you will still find a few olive trees surviving through cracks in the rocks, but that is a desert compared to what once was.  The Greeks were not the first at desert-making.  The Indus Valley was a great civilization in 1500 BC.  Wide streets, flush toilets, and all that.  They were good at using charcoal to smelt metals.  Each year they had to go a little further out to harvest the trees to make the charcoal.  After a few hundred years it does get to be a chore going so far for trees.  Apathy and poor workmanship increased enough to so weaken the civilization that Aryians were able to sweep in to murder, rape, and pillage while the deserts grew.  
Today, we do things on the grand scale.  Throughout the rain forest we are clearing ever increasing areas for farming or ranching or just to sell lumber.  The cleared land will support only a few crops before it becomes exhausted and turns to desert, but we can move on.  If the environmentalists complain, show them all those small circles of trees that are being left intact.  Perhaps they will not stay around to see that this creates large circumferences exposed to the sun and drying.  No trees to provide moisture for rain makes more and greater deserts.    
Deserts in Lakes and Oceans:  Man tries to surpass Nature here. In only 50 years, using industrial wastes and pesticides, he killed Lake Erie, but, in this case, has made some amends.  Now, with oil spills and over-harvesting, he is killing the oceans.  Take the lush Grand Banks off Newfoundland.  In the early 1500's scores of European vessels made three trips per year to fish there among an inexhaustible supply of fish.  Then fleets of European and North American trawlers, using sonar and radar, reaped enormous harvests.  Factory ships would remain on station year round.  This so denuded stocks that Canada imposed a fishing ban in 1992.  Thousands went from a life of hard work at sea to collecting welfare cheques.  
Excitement was provided by frictions when Canada impounded temporarily a Portugese trawler in 1994 and a Spanish trawler in 1995 for illegal fishing.  Spain threatened to send gun boats to protect her right to create ocean deserts.
The Soviet Union, and subsequent entities, have been leaders in water mismanagement.  Lake Baikal  is badly polluted and the Aral Sea has shrunk dramatically due to the diversion of rivers.  Fishing boats are left stranded miles inland.     
Man has always destroyed his own creations. Deserts are no exceptions. Planned obsolescence philosophy perhaps?  But, how is it done?
Terracing:   Where you have removed all that protective covering, you will notice that water really does  run down hill.  You could terrace that area now to control water flow, but you must wait a thousand years for that bare rock to erode to soil.  If you are not that patient, find a virgin area, and terrace it before you remove the trees and grasses.
Wind Breaks and Strip Farming:   Treeless plains offer cultivated soils to the winds.  Planting rows of tree s and leaving strips of land in natural vegetation will deny the wind the long sweep it needs to be an effective desert-maker.    Take a look at Britain and Denmark to see how beautiful this can be.  Their hedgerows, hundreds of years old, are wildlife sanctuaries besides preventing erosion, retaining moisture, providing timber, and giving lovers romantic pathways where they can commune with Nature and each other.  Some short-sighted farmers are now eliminating hedgerows to plant more crops.
Foam Rubber:   This is proving effective in Arabian citrus groves.  Planted under the sand it retains humus and moisture.
Oil Spraying:  Oil, an excellent pollutant, is now being used to stabilize sand dunes, thus conserving moisture and permitting plants to take root.
Cloud Seeding:   Seeding cumulus clouds with silver iodide can cause super-cooled cloud droplets to freeze into ice crystals, releasing latent heat which forces the air in the cloud to rise, causing explosive cloud growth, terminating in seven times more rain than would have fallen had the cloud been left unseeded.
Tree Planting:   In the barren, wind-swept areas of Israel, over 77,000,000 trees were planted and carefully nurtured from 1948 to 1961 (35 trees per Israeli).    A forbidding land is now becoming a promising one. Many of these now-inhabited areas have not seen human habitation since biblical times.  In Africa women are leading the tree-planting effort.
Aswan Dam:  Since 1900 man has increased irrigated acreage 400% to 400 million acres.  The Aswan Dam was to have increased this acreage more.  The Egyptians worked faster at increasing their population than in building the dam, so the increased acreage was unable to feed the increased population.  More problems:  Bilharzia, an intestinal and urinary disease, spread because carrier snails are no longer controlled by annual floods and droughts.  Nile farmlands have become impoverished because they are no longer renewed by annual deposits of silt.  Accumultaed salt, that used to be flushed out by annual flooding, has forced some areas to be taken out of production.  And, sardines in the nearby Mediterranean have decreased 33% due to a drop in the amount of nutrients that the Nile used to wash out to sea. 
The Great American Desert:  Good soil in the southwest needed water.  The last ice age left lots of it underground which is now being pumped to create verdant farmlands.  This water will soon be all gone and we will need to wait for the next ice age to replenish it.  Meanwhile, enjoy the return of the desert.
For this blog we will leave the story there - but adding a PS to argue much more action is required.
PS:  COMMON SENSE: Since 1995 there have been 24 UN conferences in 18 different countries to monitor and promote progress in limiting human-made global warming. Germany has hosted four.  Only one country, the USA, declined to join the world at the week-long November 2017 conference in Bonn, yet a strong US delegation  showed up to insist that they, if not their government, were fully committed.
So, the world has awakened to the threat.  Alas, much too little effort exists in the very costly, but essential, removal of carbon already here.  Perhaps the subject of a future blog?

                                                                                                                       Ye Olde Scribe