Thursday, 5 December 2013


     Once upon a time, there was no Time, only Nothing, but it sure took a lot of both to produce us, a life form that can understand at least some of this incredible mystery.  Today we humans know that our universe was born 13.8 billion years ago (bya), that our Milky Way galaxy, 12,000 light years across with some 300 billion suns, formed 13.2 bya, and that, on its Local Arm between its larger Sagittarius and Perseus arms, our solar system appeared 4.568 bya.  It then took a billion circuits of this sun for a tiny globe of gasses, water, and rock, known as Earth, to produce Life which then evolved into 8.7 million (and counting) species.  Each of these can survive only within a tiny niche with specific parameters.  As one of these species, we are amazed at what we have accomplished since we were a prokaryote cell 3.6 bya.  We continue to enlarge our niche by taking our environment with us as we wander.  There are now 100 trillion atoms in a human cell and 100 trillion human cells in a human body living in co-operation with 1,000 trillion bacterial cells.  Good government is a must to keep these constituents working in unison for the common good so we need two brains, one for internal and one for external actions.  What is more amazing is that we can understand all this, yet quarrel over necessary actions to preserve our niche, ourselves, and our progeny.
     As we went forth and multiplied we met numerous challenges.  We found pockets of arable land, wild game, minerals we could learn to use, and water.  Losing the warmth of hairy bodies we had to invent clothing, heat, and shelter.  Co-operation was a must as we developed sedentary living in cities (civilization).  As personal possessions increased so did Greed and Warfare.
     We have since killed over 4 billion of us in major wars.  We did develop scores of religions and philosophies to explain all this but then used them to justify conflicts.  Surprise - more Christians have been killed by Christians and more Muslims by Muslims than by those of different beliefs.  We must have a death wish because, for ten thousand years, we have not learned that wars beget wars leaving only brief interludes between episodes of immense destruction, hardships, and slaughter.
     Yet, we learned to increase our comfort and wealth by excavating and converting minerals to other formats and in the process releasing gases that alter our environment so that it can no longer support  a growing list of species and threatens us.
     In 1979 concern over human-made global warming was enough for some of us to convene in Geneva the first conference seeking counter actions from a concerned world of humans.  This led to a long series of conferences, the latest in Warsaw in November 2013, each deferring to the next one the task of agreeing to required changes.  There are  too many insular interests indifferent to the plight of others or of future generations and who say we puny humans are no threat to our rugged planet.
     Are you not aware, they argue, that the universe teems with threats, a few of which are the Milankovitch cycles of 21,000 (orbit shape), 26,000 (precession of the ecliptic), and 41,000 (axial tilt) years, continental drift, volcanoes, cosmic radiations, and asteroids, all of which have changed earth’s climate and over which we have no control, so why bother?
     Yes, but do not short memories fail to associate our current problem with carbon dioxide and methane with a previous disastrous problem with oxygen that killed almost all life on earth?   With a climate much like ours today, Life had been abundant for a billion years in our green-tinted oceans.  There was very little free oxygen, a poisonous gas to all living things, when, 2.5 bya, a new species, the blue-green algae, cyanobacteria, evolved in glacier meltwaters rich in minerals that had been scraped up and deposited into the seas.  They thrived and multiplied on iron oxide, releasing the oxygen that began a slow build-up eventually killing most life forms.  Free Oxygen interacted with the atmosphere’s methane that had kept the planet warm, resulting in an ice age where the ice over the equator was a mile deep.  A few survivors adapted, producing carbon dioxide by consuming oxygen.  This gradually warmed the earth allowing the species we know today to flourish.    Like cyanobacteria, humans were few and harmless for thousands of years but now number 7.1 billion that, with their technologies and cattle, can match, in produced gases, cyanobacteria who may not have realized they were creating their own near demise, but humans do.
      Is our species, and all those others dependent on us, not worthy of the sacrifices we must, and know how to, make now to preserve a good life style until some uncontrollable force kills all of us or do we just let our progeny try to survive rising temperatures and sea levels, storms of greater ferocity, loss of fertile land, widespread migrations, huge die-offs, and chaos?
     Warsaw was our latest failure.  Countries that should lead, including Canada and the US, did not, so hundreds of caring activists walked out in disgust.  In the US media, the only one I could find to give adequate coverage was Amy Goodman of PBS.  This in spite of the devastation typhoon Haiyan, a product of Global Warming, was causing the Philippines (although help from both the Canadian and US military was immediate and impressive among others). .
     Many humans remain so occupied in harming others that they cannot see the harm they are doing to themselves.  Syria has killed 100,000 of its citizens and caused millions to be refugees; Egypt continues its scorched-earth policy in the Sinai; China denies Tibetans autonomy; Israel has persecuted Palestinians for 65 years and rejects any criticism of its nuclear arsenal yet leads the charge against Iran whom we have harmed far more than it has us; the Taliban and Al Qaida find several replacements for every one we kill; Somalia is a failed state; human rights are denied in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Zimbabwe, and other countries.      And then there is the USA, that has led the world is so many fields, suffering from a dysfunctional form of democracy, an obsession with security that results in a bloated military that costs more than the rest of the world spends, a world-beating prison population, and spying on its friends.  It has an expensive for-profit health care system that lags most industrialized countries, immense income disparity, a $17 trillion debt - enough problems for those in power to put off those actions needed to mitigate climate change.  
      Actually, many of us, individually and collectively, are making slow progress, but quite insufficient without united world governments enforcing agreed-to actions.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Chris Hadfield - An Astronaut's Guide to Life of Earth

     Yes,  I too  am intrigued by space.  My 57 book shelves are overflowing.  In fact some are triple banked.  Yet I continue to buy more books.  The younger generations tell me I need to embrace space-saving e-books.  It must have been good planning that I have a grandson, Braden, a whiz with computers,  now converting my book “It’s All Pensionable Time” to e-book format via Amazon, but electronics scare as well as delight me.  They change so rapidly they thoroughly confuse my 94 years.  Space-consuming books  remain old reliables, and right now I have 7 that I am part-way through.  I must tell you about one I have just finished that is really worth telling you about: Chris Hadfield’s “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth”.
     At mess dinners here, I have had, in 2001 and 07 Nov 2008, two good discussions with down-to-earth astronaut Chris.   Actually NORAD in Colorado Springs is a good location to meet highly- interesting humans. The sizeable and capable Canadian contingent here  does invite excellent guest speakers to its mess dinners which I have been attending since 1963.  At another of these I was fortunate to have a discussion with Julie Payette, another of Canada’s eight astronauts selected for flights who now have a total of 396 days on 16  space flights.  Julie made 2 flights, 1999 and 2009.  In the latter she  travelled on Soyuz to the International Space Station (ISS) and met up with Canadian Robert Thirsk on his 2nd flight, this time for 189 days there conducting  experiments.  Julie is currently Chief Astronaut for the Canadian Space Agency.  While there, Robert was visited by another Canadian - Space tourist Guy Laliberté.  Robert is now VP of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.  A Calgary senior High School is named after him.
     In July 1969, at age 9, while watching Neil Armstrong visit the moon, Chris Hadfield knew what his goal in life was and immediately started on the necessary steps that could lead him, against incredible odds, to his dream.  Now, after 3 journeys into space, totalling 146 days, and being captain of the ISS for Mission 34/35 that ended 13 May 2013, he published his book throughout which he describes the astounding number of things one must know to join the astronaut world.  It reminds me of the remark my grandmother, Maude Brodie, gave me when I thought I was a top high school student - “You will never know how much you have to know in order to know how little you know”.   This parallels Chris’s advice and has remained so true in my banking, RCAF, teaching, and writing careers.
     Careers in the RCAF and the space program are similar in that your ego gets put in its proper place - you need to accept all assignments as necessary and important - and to prepare yourself for what may or may not come next as well as volunteering for jobs or courses that may be helpful.  Attention to small details can be life savers.  One moment you are one of the peasants, the next you are the local leader, integrating with the top civilian authorities, but before you can become too impressed with your own importance you are transferred to be one of thousands in the supporting roles.  Years may pass before you bounce back up the ladder.  They are careers that demand you be ready for whatever the fates decree, believing that each role is important. A huge drawback, that Chris also regrets, is that families suffer and wives need to be of sterner stuff than their husbands.
     As Chris describes the steps he took, he frequently mentions attitude.  To be nearer his work as a pilot at the Toronto airport  his father, Roger, moved the family from Sarnia to Milton where they bought a farm.  When a teenager Chris thought he had become the area’s best tractor driver until he caught and broke the rear drawbar on a fence post.  His father’s orders: “Chris, you better learn to weld, repair that bar, and finish your job.”  He did, but with accepted tutelage from his Dad.
     He took advanced high school courses and, at age 15, joined the air cadets and got his glider pilot’s license.  While at the Royal Military College, he worked hard to lead his summer pilot-training course so as to get his choice of fighter pilot training. On his CF18 tour he worked to be selected for test pilot school which got him to Edwards AFB, California, then Patuxten River Naval Air Station where he mingled with would-be US astronauts and won the 1991 Test Pilot of the Year award.  When he started on this road Canada had no space program so his dream had no hope but, just in case, he would be prepared.
     In 1983 Canada selected its first 8 astronauts.  In 1991 Chris noticed an obscure ad in a Canadian newspaper for 4 more.  He, and 5,329 others, applied.  His wife, Helene, was a great help in preparing an elaborate resumé.  Five months of tests, interviews, and medicals ensued before he was advised he could pack his bags for Houston and 4 years of intense training before his first space flight of 8 days in 1994 to dock with MIR, the Russian space station (the only Canadian to do so), followed by 7 busy years before his second in 2001 to the ISS, during which, in a space walk, he installed Canadarm2 .   Selected as NASA’s Director of Operations in Star City, 2001-03 he and Helene chose Russian, rather than US,  quarters, learned the language, and mingled with Russians whom they genuinely admired.  His 3rd and last flight was not until Dec 2012.    In describing his numerous tasks during his ground time of  22 years with NASA, Chris provides a good description of the continuous training and the numerous tasks assigned to him as well as the careers of many of his astronaut friends.  His comparisons of the Shuttle  and Soyuz as well as the ISS are very detailed and informative.
     His guitar playing and his family, two sons and a daughter, receive frequent mention along with his parents and brother.  His son, Evan, was a major factor in polishing and preparing his guitar playing and acting out how to do things in space for the electronic media, so much so that Chris’s “Space Oddity” from the ISS received 7 million hits from a worldwide audience.
     Now, as Chris stepped  down from the NASA ladder in July 2013 only to start his climb on another, we can wish him well at the University of Waterloo where his first assignment will be to explain why some astronauts get fainting spells on returning to earth which bears a relationship to elderly people prone to falling like me, but I blame it on Mother Earth and Grace Gravity falling madly in love with me, grabbing me, and crushing me to their bosoms.  I will be interested in Chris’s research.

Sunday, 11 August 2013


                                                      THE MUSLIM MENACE
     My computer screen is presenting an increasing number of frightening essays, warning of the dire
threats of Muslim migrations into our Western societies with their proliferation of mosques, Sharia Law,
subversion of human rights, and terrorism with the aim of ultimate Islamic control. Not a great deal
different from the rise of Christianity after Emperor Constantine’s Edict of Milan in 313, but Christianity
has now lost most of its ability to create large-scale aggression in its name, necessitating other excuses.
Muslims in Palestine can still give us a long list of cruel current excesses by followers of Judaism but that
lacks the same publicity.
     Islam, established about 400 years after Christianity, has yet to have its Reformation so does have its
dangers, but to whom? Most battle-killed Christians were killed by other Christians who have created
3,400 distinct religious variants. Most Muslims are killed by other Muslims. Islam has 3 major streams
with 26 variants and are still their own worst enemy. How significant a threat are they to us? A forerunner
of alarmists, Winston Churchill in 1899 decried how Islam paralyses society. He was right. Islam today
cannot unite militarily. And for them, terror weapons like carrier groups, stealth bombers, or drones,
remain not affordable, so they have perfected cheaper terror weapons like suicide bombers and threats that
force us to curtail liberties, restrict travel, close embassies, and harm economies. It is a continuation of
the ‘Many’ being brainwashed and controlled by the ‘Few’ who go by many names: Extremists, priests,
ayatollahs, shamans, politicians, CEOs.
     Humans, are born (drafted?) into a cruel and uncaring world where, in order to survive, most living
things have to eat other living things. It is a world that has always been over-populated, necessitating
competition for available arable land, water, food, preferred climate, and shelter, and the ability to evolve
and organize to meet the challenges. Although humans have made astounding advances, no life form, to
our knowledge, has evolved the ability to understand who, when, how, what and why we all are.
Muslim science was the world’s best under the Abbasid dynasty, 750-1258 AD, that united most of the
Mediterranean. Today with 20% of world population Muslims generate 5% of its science. Our agnostic
Western scientists tell us that all life is one and that cells at the quantum level with a watery medium
communicate with, and influence, other cells even at long distances. Thousands of experiments prove
them right.
     Most humans, always bewildered, have needed myths to cling to. For some 25 thousands years, for
which we have artifacts, we know we worshipped female gods. Animism, still practiced by 40% of the
world, is even older. For us Westerners, Abraham and his small group from Ur (Iraq) changed all this
when they wandered, at their god’s call, south to infiltrate and eventually control in Canaan an Israeli
Semitic tribe forcing them to vilify their female gods and accept Yaweh, a god of war and vengeance. Our
once-supreme god, Ashtoreth, became Eve on whom we can blame our present predicament. This led to
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam with female gods having nearly all retired by 500 A.D. Abraham is very
roughly dated to about 2000 BC. Divine intervention allowed his wife, Sarah, to give birth at age 99 and
for him to live at least 175 years. The Torah, Bible, and Ou’ran were all written by selected humans
claiming divine inspiration. Nature’s lesson that Force Begets Force has never been learned by any of
     Today, Christianity is in decline while Islam is growing. Why, I fail to fathom. The percentages of
Muslims in selected countries are: Canada 3.2 (5% in Toronto), USA 2.1, France 1.0, Germany 3.2, Israel
14.1, Palestine 98, Italy 1.5, Mexico 0.1, Sweden 1.7, Turkey 98.3, UK 4.8. Iran, 99% Muslim, has one
of the lowest mosque-attendance records. Hardly the united thousands-strong barbarian armies that
destroyed Rome. Muslim Immigrants tend to congregate in run-down, cheaper areas, and have more
children to worsen the poverty. Did not other immigrants experience similar conditions, especially the
Irish, Jews, Catholics, Italians, Portugese, African, and Asian groups? By the third generation they had
acquired the appearance, pronunciation, and education to drift away and join the mainstream while the
ethnic issue passed to a new group. There are encouraging signs of Muslims doing the same, The 6,000
Indian Muslims who had settled in Uganda only to be kicked out in 1972 by Idi Amin and accepted by
Canada have become model, and highly productive, loyal citizens. Most Muslims now live in crowded
Africa and Asia. High bloodletting persists in too many of these Islamic countries.
     What to do about it? First off, we North Americans need to realize that we are already over-populated.
Sure, we have lots of empty space but only 5% of Canada and 19% of the USA is arable and climatic
change is playing havoc with much of that. Geography has permitted us to evolve a high standard of living
accompanied by a falling birthrate, so, perhaps, we do need a steady, but limited, stream of immigrants
who should have to pass courses explaining our culture and human -rights concerns. We can afford to be
selective. The main remedy to threats lies in the home countries. We do have a good record of
humanitarian and educational work in poor countries to improve their lives but it lacks co-ordination,
collective funding, and protection of local pride. We also have a good record of exploiting their resources
causing much of their resentment towards us.
     We have no shortages of greater threats: climate change bringing fires, floods, droughts, and
environmental damages, growing rich-poor gaps, dysfunctional government, 1,360 armed US radical
militias, greed of individuals and corporations failing to accept their fair share of taxes and contributions
to the nation’s welfare, and so on and on. Can Muslim immigrants match these threats?
     Yes, there has been a large increase in the number of mosques in western countries, 80% run by
extremists and too many financed by Saudi Arabia. Only 19% of these mosques have no texts promoting
violence, but mosque attendance is only one third of our low Christian church attendance. It would appear
most Muslims avoid extremists. After a year in Western countries the Muslim birthrate has fallen to just
over 3 per woman, approaching our rate of just under 2. In Canada the attempt by some Muslims to have
Sharia Law made legal for Muslims was shot down by Muslim community groups.
     If the extremist fraction of Muslim immigrants become more that a minor problem they are much easier
to deal with than the major problems to which we are giving much too little attention

Friday, 9 August 2013


                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I have just finished another book on the incredibly-complex quantum world and still do not understand it, but then I admit I do not understand the macro world either.  I do wonder if Dolphins and Bacteria discuss the same complaints.   In our human world the hardest people to accept change are scientists who have spent decades pursuing lines of thought and evolving answers they are loathe to discard.  So, Lynne McTaggart, an investigative reporter and author of several books does have her skeptics and detractors, but I found her book, “The Field”, fascinating as it amplifies many deep feelings I have had throughout a long life.
     But, do consider the book just a beginning in our quest, at least ever since we became “Homo sapiens”, to understand who, what, where, how, and why we are.  As a combat veteran, my most lingering post dramatic stress disorder is a worrisome conviction that all life is one and that what I do to others I am doing to myself. This fear outweighed the fear of enormous attention from flak and fighters during 17 bombing and mining operations before being shot down and assigned to 800 days in what became my Alma Mater, Stalag Luft III.
     Lynne McTaggart describes the Zero Point Field, an immense sea at the quantum level of nothingness near absolute zero that is empty, yet full of energy, quite sufficient for all human needs if we learn to tap into it - and having the capacity to store everything that has ever happened.  She goes on to explain the work over the past 40 years of hundreds of small groups of scientists around the world who are, with stringent controls to exclude unwanted influences, finding new powers that life forms have and how they can influence events well above what chance alone achieves.   Among the new avenues and findings of research are: (1) Cells can communicate with and influence other cells, that correct Darwinian evolution by adding cellular choice,  (2) Vibes, good and bad, are real and can influence health, behaviour, and events with the more numerous and united participants are increasing the effects, so mass prayers or thoughts do work more than chance allows, (3) There are more truths in aboriginal beliefs than we care to admit, (4) Consciousness is separate from our bodies, (5) Our current brains, incredible as they might be, are incapable of understanding quantum physics in spite of the fact they are capable of using it in many fields, (6) All living things interact with each other and with the environment, and (7) living things include atoms, molecules, clouds, seas, rocks as well as you and me.
     Lynne cannot tell me, can you?, that when I die and my remains mingle again with the Zero Point Field,  do they ever reassemble themselves into other life forms and how enduring is my consciousness?  Will it be there to decide whether I want to be a salamander or a better human?
     Humans have made immense strides in understanding Life and our Universe(s).  Let us not be content with just using our brains to survive from day to day in our present format in our present world.  There remains so much unused brain power that you and I can extend our powers to probe its depths so, perhaps, one or both of us can contribute another breakthrough in understanding.
     Bon Voyage.


Wednesday, 10 July 2013


     Yes, I prefer the old, currently UK and phonetically correct, spelling of ageing.  Its use is a privilege of being 93 and a half, somewhat removed from those days when I bragged about being 5 and a half.
     Ageing does have its own problems, one of which is that there is quite a time lapse since my last blog.  Yes, I still have the necessary verbal diarrhea but I spend much more time thinking about doing rather than actually doing.  And, my memory is taking too many holidays, making it harder to recall facts and to decide among a confusing multitude of topics that I would like to address, like Echoes of the Arab Spring, The Widening Gulf between the rich and the poor, Climate change, Saving our Environment and Economy, Is Our Democracy the best form of government?, What is Life and Consciousness?,  Would the world be more peaceful if we had kept the female gods, like Ashtoreth who went by so many names and whom we worshiped for 23,000 years and not allowed Abraham and his gang to force Yahweh, a god of war and vengeance, on us?  Why do we persecute Conscientious People Like Manning and Snowden who promote open societies when we forget those who created financial ruin for millions?
     My desire to acquaint you with my views has been interrupted by the cruelties of ageing.  For instance: Ladders have taken a distinct dislike to me.  Over the years I have treated them well and with respect.  Now they rebel at me using even their first step.  Then there is sexual harassment.  Those two passionate women, Grace Gravity and Eva Earth have fallen madly in love with me, seizing me at every opportunity and crushing me into their bosoms for extra-marital affairs.  Their love making is violent as blood on my face, arms, and knees testify.   Years ago I bought a sturdy cabbage stock made into a formidable cane.  It has been an honoured house guest but now I must draft it into service to defend myself.
     After 27 years of publishing the 8-page bimonthly Wing newsletter with book reviews and comments on world affairs I retired after the May 2013 edition (copies can still be found on
      But ageing does bring surprising benefits, one of which is acquiring a new family.  Amid the grief of gradually losing practically all of my friends who were among the 17% of WWII aircrew veterans who survived being shot down, over a dozen daughters, sons, and grandchildren of now-deceased kriegies (POWs) who were with me in my Alma Mater, Stalag Luft III, and who worked on the Great Escape have found me and maintain active, highly valued, correspondence.  They are searching for every scrap of data they can uncover including my views on the Great Escape which differ from the Hollywood version.  Some have done such a good job of researching that they have given me data that I never knew or have forgotten.  One, from East Sussex, UK, has compiled a page of data on each of 200 aircrew who were part of the Great Escape.  A daughter, from Ohio, USA, made trips to the UK and Germany, finding a few originals but mostly descendants of people who had interacted with the father she lost a few years ago.  She published a 487-page book on his career.  Another daughter who emigrated from England to Canada to Hawaii to Colorado never knew her Dad as he was killed before she was born.  She made several trips to Trenton, Ontario, where a Halifax retrieved from a Norwegian fiord was being rebuilt, to Belgium to stand on his grave, to Australia to meet the sole survivor of her Dad’s crew and went on to publish a book on her Dad’s crew. Another good friend of the younger generation, from Telford, Shropshire, who has also authored an excellent and haunting story of a Bomber Command crew and who has built the world’s best data base of Bomber Command casualties delights me with professional DVDs of the motorcycle trips he and two or three friends make of Europe each summer, including WWI and WWII battle sites and my old Alma Mater, Stalag Luft II, or what is left of it.  In my den is a bottle of sand he sent me from it.
     I am also very grateful to be still on my honeymoon with Joan, my war bride since January 1943.  In spite of expensive hearing aids I now have difficulty understanding her and, with failing eyesight, she can no longer drive or make those fabulous clothes for herself and our five wonderful, talented, daughters who have now scattered with six grandchildren.  The nearest daughter is 25 miles away and has been a tremendous help.  The others make frequent visits even from Toronto.  This big house was ideal when the girls were home but is too much now for the two of us but we will remain as long as we can.
     We do enjoy hearing from all of you out there:

Tuesday, 26 March 2013


       I can certainly vouch for this conclusion summarized in the March 2013 issue of The Lancet (UK) from studies in the UK, US, and Australia.  Whether you have been a giver or a receiver of violence, or both, you are traumatized and subject to abnormal behaviour including a 53% enhancement of any tendency you may harbour for violence.

It is now 68 years since my last exposure to  combat and I do feel I have been successful in controlling my emotions that do run deep.  Yet, over the years, from time to time, painful visions have flooded back, leaving mental pain as they slowly subside.  It may sound strange that visions of the 50-odd times that I have been in a universe of exploding flak, bombs, flying bullets, and crippled aircraft leave no pain, just frightful memories.  What do leave pain are lost friends and visions of the 17 times I have caused death and destruction to others.  Most of my bombing and mining operations were confined to six months of cold winter nights, followed by a dozen episodes  of “friendly fire” bombings and strafings while a POW
Increasingly, during these current cold winter nights when I pull back the covers to slip into a warm bed, visions assail me of people drowning in the cold North Sea from ships my mines sank plus visions of  poorly-clad families forced, wounded and bleeding, out of their homes, from streets wrecked by my bombs, into the snow with no heat, no water, no food, no sewage, no warm shelter, no tampax - all pitiful victims of man’s inhumanity to man.

On the return leg from bombing Berlin, 27/28 March 1943, I was shot down into Hamburg.  The 24 civilians, all women and teenagers, who captured me were survivors of our previous bombs, some of which were mine, yet all were friendly, considerate, and helpful.  They did seem quite envious when they handed me over to the Police and Luftwaffe, saying “Für sie der Krieg ist aus” (For you the war is over).

   Now, accompanying my current visions, there are those feelings of returning butterflies that used to swarm in my stomach during those scores of days I would try to build up the frame of mind needed to accept departing at dusk friendly skies, many cancelled at the last minute due to foul weather, but still demanding a long period of de-winding.

People tell me I was a hero, protecting our freedoms so we can create future wars.  I appreciate their concerns, especially with the 125 valued friends who did not, as I did, survive being shot down.  Their concerns can never help when it comes to those I have killed or hurt.  That is something I have to deal with alone.  My physical wounds healed long ago.  My mental wounds remain, even growing with age.  The older I get, the harder it is to forget.  The visions become more vivid, heavy reinforced by the burdens carried by legions of more recent combat veterans.

My frantic search for meaning continues.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013


      I had started on an essay of similar thoughts when my computer screen was enhanced with this essay from my friend, Tom Kupecz, also retired RCAF, but residing in Trenton, Ontario, where he, now as a civilian, trains RCAF personnel not only in how to fight a war but how to clean up the mess afterwards. Thank, Tom, for saving me the time and echoing so well my thoughts:

      I have somehow got on the mailing lists of some rather interesting organizations that are engaged in saving us from the nefarious forces that seek to enslave us all. The e-mails are reasonably well written, grammatically correct (something I believe is essential to good communication) and fraught with almost pathological paranoia.

       Where does this fear of others come from? In a democracy, the foundation of our system is the trust in our fellows - almost anyone can run for office, except President of the Unites States (where did that come from, in a nation of immigrants?) and we trust the winners to govern us all in the spirit of the law and in good will. Well, the trust is tempered by a knowledge of human nature, hence the complicated system of checks and balances that keep the politicians from succumbing too egregiously to the lobbyists. But overall it is trust and good will that makes our system function.

     But what is it that makes some people create vast conspiracy theories and inflict them on us relatively normal folk?   I realize that solving a good mystery is an enjoyable pastime, and a very fruitful profession for talented (and not so talented) authors, but how can people bend reality so far in such an apparent belief in their ideas?

      The latest missives try to persuade me that the horrendous massacre in Newtown was, in one of them, a hoax created by some government force bent on disarming the populace, or in another a real massacre perpetrated for the same nefarious purpose. Each claims proof in citing "facts" that are dubious at best, and ignore the overwhelming preponderance of evidence that we have seen from many irreproachable sources.

      Both use history to back up their claims: Hitler disarmed the Germans so he could take over the country, Mao disarmed the Chinese, Stalin disarmed the Russians, and so on. Ignored is the fact that they actually armed and enabled hoards of paranoid citizens to cow and suppress the rest, and used the real or imagined threat of foreign aggression to keep the population in line.

      I would like to believe that they are just having fun to see what reaction they can rouse, but when writes this sort of thing: "It was a made for TV drama to try to ram through the gun control laws, because they want to kill the American people and they can't kill armed people," he goes beyond fun. And when you see the likes of Alex Jones fulminating on Piers Morgan Tonight, you might begin to wonder from whom we need protecting.

      It is a matter for some concern that a significant proportion of the population of the greatest nation on earth, a country that has worked to export its system of government around the world, is so distrustful of their government and fellow citizens that they need to arm themselves to the teeth. And they have a constitution that enables them!

      Do we need to train more psychiatrists?

Tom Kupecz

Friday, 4 January 2013



     Honestly, girls, you should be flattered not annoyed at my intense gaze. Numbers bewilder me as I seek how your 30,000 genes placed so well your individual allotment of the 7x10 27 atoms we have all acquired. That is 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms each. I will not ask you to let me count and add your protons, neutrons, electrons, etc in each of your atoms as you have already made me think about numbers and about where you and I stand on what appears to be an endless gradient we named to put us in the middle:
YOCTO: 1/1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
ZEPTO:  1/1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
ATTO:    1/1,000,000,000,000,000,000              
FEMTO:  1/1,000,000,000,000,000                    
PICO:     1/1,000,000,000,000
NANO:   1/1,000,000,000                                 
MICRO:  1/1,000,000                                        
MILLI:   1/1,000 

KILO:     1,000
MEGA:    1,000,000
GIGA:     1,000,000,000
TERA:     1,000,000,000,000
PETA;     1,000,000,000,000,000
EXA:       1,000,000,000,000,000,000
     This puts a virus in the 10 attogram range and the E.coli bacteria at 655 femtograms.
At last count there were 7.5x1018 grains of sand on this planet, but they just lie there. In our universe there are 3x1024 stars that engage in a fiery dance as they race out into new space that seems to be created as they race along. This number of stars equals the number of cells in the 6 billion humans we now have.
     While engaged in all these thoughts, 10 normal drops of water dripped from my kitchen tap. Guess what? - they contained the same number of H2O molecules as there are stars in our universe.
     I am bewildered with counting so please allow me to forget the possible billions of universes in the Multiverse. That still leaves more bewilderment - I just wondered where all these thoughts are coming from. Some of you do concede that I have a brain even if it cannot survive out of my body which is only 10% human. Do the 90%, bacterial cells, contribute 90% to what I call my intelligence? How do I count the trillions of electrical impulses that interact with each other to produce thoughts?
     I should stop as I am getting that drowning feeling. How many molecules of lifeline can you throw me? If you do rescue me, do tell me why, when we are so complex, that we are allowed, on average, less than 100 rotations around our sun before we must disintegrate to join some other association that will, we suspect, remember nothing of this Association. Is that not an inexcusable waste or just good riddance?
     Is inevitable change desirable? It seems fairly certain that our universe, this time around, is 13.7 billion years old, yet our current telescopes can see near the edge of it which is 46 billion light years away, due to universe inflation. Moving along at 300,000 km or 186,000 miles per second, light photons, in the 31,536,000 seconds that exist in a non-leap-year, traverse 9,460,800,000,000 km per year (9.4 terakilometres). Why the rush? What the purpose? From our galactic centre our sun is 30,000 light years, or, if you prefer, 30,000 x 300,000 x 365 x 24, x 60, x 60 kilometres. It is speeding along at 792,000 kmh (495,000 mph), taking 235 million years to make each of the 20 orbits it has made in its 4.6 billion year lifetime.
     Now, that current galactic journey adds up to 9,460,800,000,000 x 235,000,000 = 22,232,883,000,000,000,000,000 km (22,232 exakilometres) of which you and I get to traverse only .00000042%. So much to see, yet we are given so little time. Can we appeal?
     So, girls, can you see why all this bewilders me when your few 7x10 27 atoms are so difficult for us men to understand when, really, our atomic arrangements are so slightly different (mais vive la différence!). But, then, do you really understand us? Come to think about it - I do not understand either you or us, so could I convince you that our respective atoms are here to console each other and to ease our passage?