Monday, 30 April 2012


Miller Moths and Me

Miller Moths have been educating me on similarities with my species. They agree with me that Global Warming is real so they are early this year and in much greater numbers, so we are quite careful in opening doors or windows not to let any in. Yet, it is always a surprise every evening when we turn on the lights to see several flirting with each light source. Blessed with a few different abilities I try to be helpful to critters that are harmless and in need of help, so, with a transparent plastic cup and a postcard I rescue about 50 every night, opening the door briefly and just enough to let them fly off to the street light.

The ingenuity they reveal in getting into the house baffles me; so does the stupidity once they are in. This morning I discovered five desperately trying to get out through a solid glass window in the garage. They were within a foot of the garage door which I opened to let them escape. Their fixation was such that not one deviated to find salvation. They were too high up on the window for my cup routine. I left the door open for them but hours later I found them dead. Was spending hours rescuing such stupid creatures worth the effort?

But then, I saw too many similarities. Their salvation was only a foot away. Perhaps ours is too but we do not recognize it either. Too many of us get into trouble through our own fault and fail to see escape routes. Too many of us also have fixations. Too many who escape go right back to the practices that got them into trouble in the first place. Yes, Miller Moths, we are cousins after all.

So, how far on the evolutionary ladder have we come compared to them? They can fly; we cannot. They are attracted to light; so are we. Their lives are short; ours somewhat longer. I can go on for pages listing things we can do that they cannot, but the difference in intelligence remains insufficient for us, like them, to understand our surroundings. What steps do I need to take to better my condition and how do I amass the gumption to take them?

Our species leads, or at least we think so, all living things in the knowledge we have achieved yet with every advance the Unknown expands to still challenge us. Why? Democritus, 2400 years ago, theorized the existence of atoms, the smallest entity of matter, but it took us until 1897 before we started to know that atoms were made up of electrons and protons and the 1960s before we knew that they were made up of smaller units called quarks and then to learn quarks come in 6 varieties. Far too small for us to see, but we have proven their existence by colliding protons at the speed of light in billion-dollar accelerators. Delving into this we learn about, but cannot understand, the Quantum World, even though we have learned to use it.

Then we have done an amazing job of tracing our origins back to The Big Bang and we can even date it at 13.6 billion years ago. So, what was there before that and what does it mean anyway? How could the collision of two Branes create such enormous amounts of energy? What is Energy? What is Life? What is Death? Even if we knew, would that tell us WHY?

Just while thinking about, and typing, this, I have rescued 9 miller moths who came to see and walk over my screen. They could not understand the words or know I was writing about them, yet I was their unknown Supreme Being, the Rescuer of Moths.

It would be nice if I could count on a Supreme Being to rescue me, but many who are responsible for all this knowledge we are accumulating keep telling me there was never any Supreme Being - just Science.

Really? We are still almost as ignorant as Moths. That is why I am an Agnostic. Who among us knows? I certainly do not and something tells me that you do not know either. But that is no excuse to stop searching for answers.

I am now turning out the lights. You and the Moths will have to wait until tomorrow - my dreams are my own.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012


    Statisticians tend to lump them together when listing percentages with Sweden 85%, Japan 65, France 49, Germany 45, the UK 44, Canada 30, Israel 26, and the US, where no non-religious politician can survive, only 9%. There is an important difference. An atheist denies the existence of any supreme being while an agnostic, although skeptical, maintains an open mind, ready and eager to assess all the evidence he/she can find. Agnostics decry the lack of historical proofs, the bigotry, exploitation, intolerance, persecution, and wars religions have caused but admire the usefulness of churches, mosques, synagogues, philosophies, and the like in uniting groups and in providing solace. Agnostics have been with us as great thinkers at least since the invention of the written word. The evolution of all religions into so many varieties confirms a vibrant skepticism. So, from an agnostic point of view, what are the facts? How much free will do we have? What conclusions, if any, can we draw?
     We humans have evolved the ability to recognize, amass, and analyse data at an ever-increasing rate. Our conversion of raw materials into foods, housing, clothing, buildings, transportation, communication, and so on is amazing. All this with just a few quite-limited senses and a short life span. Compared to ferns, termites, bees, dolphins, crows, and other creatures we have come an even longer way, so what percentage of the Truth is in what we think we know? Do our genes control us? I do know that I was propelled, like many others, into a successful 59-year genealogical hunt, pushed by the sudden realizations, at different times, that I was behaving exactly like one or more of my parents or grandparents. But, what about away back?
     Avoiding the gender trap, let us assume that originally there were gods, branes, and space. Where, how, and why they came to be we will tackle if and when we uncover sufficient data. Our multiverse was created in such a sloppy, cruel, wasteful, and trial-and-error fashion that the job must have been left to young gods under training and ones who had no care or responsibility for what they created. The created would have to care for themselves, and have, in a wide variety of ways in spite of 99% of species achieving only extinction.
     These gods started out alright by rubbing two branes together that freed immense gobs of energy that joyously burst forth, unfettered, to explore space. But slavery was born when they turned down the thermostat forcing many particles of energy to congeal into bits of matter we call quarks, electrons, positrons, neutrons and so on, all subject to both the weak and strong forces that were about. Atoms of hydrogen and helium were formed, that imprisoned these particles forever into a dance around each other. Forced to obey the imposed laws, they formed suns where immense heat and pressure changed them into a variety of elements thus setting the stage for the emergence of life billions of years later. These gods never acquired compassion as they chose competition rather than co-operation for us new life forms to adapt and improve to become more like gods. They injected pain, suffering, pleasure, and the essential need to eat, resulting in us preying on each other while evolving into millions of temporary species in temporary environments.
       At this moment in Time, which is something else we do not understand, some humans believe we are at the pinnacle, yet we have little concern for all those other life forms we consume for our needed energy and growth, although we do choose a few to protect so they can serve us as tools, companionship, eye appeal, or recreational retreats. This has made Greed a dominant characteristic. We fear that certainty for everything we know: Death. There is little solace in knowing that those trillions of atoms that make us what we are have existed from the beginning of time and will recycle after we have gone to survive to the end of time.
      We have saddled ourselves with this gnawing need to be useful, wanted, respected, and loved. Few of us are satisfied with what we receive, so imagine supreme beings who love and care for us. Does imagination, including dreams, have any reality or permanence? Do we know what reality and permanence are?
      We do have a huge challenge. It is easy to fall into hopelessness if nothing matters, and exertion is futile. Even though we had no known say in us being us and no one who has passed on has sent back any message as to what, if anything, lies beyond, we agnostics are blessed with an immense curiosity that delights in using what resources we have to probe as long as we can the mysteries of our being. Who knows? Maybe, in the long distant future, our progeny will evolve into the benevolent gods so many of us long for today. Perhaps that is why we refuse to join atheists in their no-god stand as we have a glimmer of hope that we can evolve into gods, but that could take a million years or so during which we must preserve our only home - this earth. Being an agnostic is not for the lazy, the afraid, the extremists, the uncaring, but it is rather exhilarating.

Monday, 2 April 2012


Netanyahu and Jenkin’s Ear

Am I missing something? I just cannot find any honest reason for our current persecution of Iran. Sure we dislike the regime but so do most Iranians who now hate us because of all the harm we have caused a nation that in modern history has never launched a war of choice. And now we have the gall to use it as a cover up. Reminds me of Jenkins’ ear. When building colonies in the Caribbean, Britain tolerated many provocations from Spain because it was unprepared for war. Years later, when prepared, there were no excuses for war . . . until, in a minor 1731 incident, the brig, Rebecca, was boarded by the Spanish, its cargo seized, and Captain Robert Jenkins’ ear sliced off in the scuffle. In 1738 his encased ear was paraded in the House of Commons and used as an excuse to declare war on Spain which resulted in 20,000 casualties and 407 ships sunk as the war evolved into the Austrian Succession dispute. Today, Netanyahu, needing to distract world condemnation from his continued persecution of, and stealing land from, the Palestinians, and in spite of extremely good relations between the people of Israeli and Iran, latched on to a few words spoken by Ahmadinejad that Israeli should be wiped off the map and that the Holocaust never happened, ignoring the rest of his rhetoric that the Holocaust was caused by Europeans and should be compensated for by Europeans and not Palestinians, and that Jews have a perfect right to live in Palestine but not in a state superimposed and run exclusively by them.

The current Iranian government is no threat to the US; it is no threat to Israel; it is a threat to Iran. It has many reasons to distrust us. Persia, 2500 years ago, was the world’s first, and most benevolent, empire. Later, in 1828, Russia seized Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan from it and in 1881 Turkmenistan. In 1907 the UK and Russia divided Persia into spheres of influence, then in WWI, both moved in. The UK stayed to exploit the oil, most useful in converting the Royal Navy from coal to oil. In 1935 Persia became Iran. In WWII it was occupied by the UK, US, and USSR, who still exploited its oil. In 1951 democratically-elected Mossadegh made social reforms and nationalized the oil. This democracy, like the one in Gaza, hurt our interests so we, the CIA and MI6, engineered a 1953 coup that re-installed Shah Reza Pahlevi who made some reforms like female suffrage, and Iran did serve on UN peacekeeping missions in the Congo and Golan Heights. The US had Iran start a nuclear program, hoping to sell it 18 reactors and had no objections to it having nuclear weapons. In 1979 dislike for the Shah’s harsh police and his heavy reliance on US power led to the "Islamic Revolution"that returned exiled Ayatollah Khomenei who scrapped the bomb program as un-Islamic. In 1980 Saddam’s Iraq, backed by the West, invaded, taking a million lives and using western-supplied poison gas on Iran that had banned such weapons. Iran then backed about 30 killings around the world while we killed all 290 aboard an Iranian Airbus and froze Iranian assets.

What is vital to realize is that the entire Middle East teems with minorities with unfulfilled dreams and that many are still persecuted. We need to show respect and understanding and support those among us who have provided genuine and selfless help. We are too prone to label groups like Hezbollah and Hamas as terrorist. Yes, Iran has helped them, but they are not puppets of Iran but indigenous responses to Israeli invasions, slaughter, and destruction. Like so many other countries, Israel has been its own worst enemy. Pity, as it could be the area’s hope.

Iran banned biological weapons in 1973 and chemical in 1997. It signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Israel, India, and Pakistan have not, yet we punish Iran merely on suspicion that its enrichment of uranium could be used to make a bomb against Israel’s 200. In 1992 isolated Iran started building its own weapons and does have 550,000 under arms at an annual cost of $9 billion. Israel spends $50 billion and has 3 million available for instant service. Both use conscription. No match for the US that spends more than the rest of the world combined. Utter Madness!

Surely, Netanyahu is not so stupid as to actually bomb Iran, but he has succeeded in getting US bunker-busting bombs and in removing his aggression from the US public eye. He is like the spoiled child who escapes a good spanking with a tantrum or two then extracts gifts for the promise of better behaviour. He seems intent on destroying the peaceful future Israel could build, and he harms the US.

Perhaps that is one reason the US ranks only 28th among world governments. Preoccupation with endless and costly electioneering precludes firm stands in the interest of humanity.