The Toxicity Of The Trump Era Needs To Be Put Behind Us

1-16-21
   25,000 National Guard troops are in (or on the way to) Washington DC in order to protect the transfer of power from the Trump Administration to the Biden Administration.
   Think about that.
   Thousands of soldiers needed to protect the Inauguration of President Elect Joe Biden.
   It’s disturbing and sad that our country has sunk to this level. And it’s clear that Donald Trump along with those enabling him and blindly following him brought our nation to this twisted, deeply troubling state of affairs.
   Divisions, lack of understanding, intolerance, hate, prejudice, and so on were already problems in the United States when Trump started his campaign for the Presidency. The thing is: Trump took advantage of these problems and exacerbated them with his outrageous, hurtful, vicious, and often totally false rhetoric, actions, and lies. Instead of trying to unite people, he worsened divisions  and hate creating such a toxic atmosphere that prejudiced hate groups felt emboldened to become more brazen and vocal.
   And then we come to the 2020 election.
   He began attacking the election before it even had a chance to get started as he viciously went after mail in voting for months prior to a single ballot being sent out to anyone.  Once he lost the election, he quickly began spreading ridiculous, totally false claims and conspiracy theories in his quest to try to stay in office, even though Joe Biden clearly and legitimately won.
   And throughout all of this, numerous Republicans in important positions as well as millions of every day Americans have enabled Trump’s horrendous behavior by always going along with him, not standing up to him, and flat out blindly following him. And now we are having to endure the results of this sickening situation. We watched in disgust and horror as an angry mob of Trump supporters (incited by Trump and others) literally assaulted the US Capitol Building with the purpose of trying to stop Congress from certifying the free and fair 2020 election. This was clearly a form of undemocratic insurrection seeing how they used violence to attempt to stop Biden from becoming President.
   It’s disgusting, horrifying, sickening, and disturbing seeing how low things have sunk to. It’s also scary how many people are still blindly following Trump despite the fact he incited insurrection.
   We have to be strong and stand up for decency, honesty, compassion, science, caring, and democracy. It’s time to put the hate, narrow-mindedness, intolerance, and viciousness of the Trump era behind us and strive to make this a better place for all.
   It won’t be easy. We as a society and a country are battered and bruised. Healing will take time as will bridging the deep divides that have been tearing this nation apart.
   But we will get through it. Our democracy will endure and if we work at it, the United States will get closer to being the shining beacon we want it to be.

People Need To Educate Themselves About Bisexual+ Sexuality

  Let’s be clear here: I think most of the population still has a lot to learn about Bisexual+ sexuality. Evidence of this includes the fact that too many Bi+ individuals feel they have to live in the closet due to the lack of understanding, intolerance, and prejudice encountered from too many members of the Straight and Gay/Lesbian Communities.
   This has got to change. It’s way past time for everyone to open their minds and educate themselves about Bi+ sexuality!
   So let’s get started.
   What is Bi+ sexuality you may be wondering. Well, Bisexual+, or Bi+, is an umbrella term for anyone who can be attracted to more than one gender whatever terms or labels they prefer, for there isn’t one label everyone uses. Bisexual, Pansexual, Fluid, Omnisexual, Heteroflexible, Homoflexible, and Queer (a catch all for all LGBTQ people) are just some examples. There are different terms and different ways people look at the potential of being attracted to more than one gender.
   Now, like any community, there is a wide range of Bi+ folks from all walks of life with a plethora of feelings, ideas, and outlooks. Bi+ can be rich, poor, young, old, male, female, nonbinary, genderfluid, genderqueer, you name it. Most are looking for, or are in, monogamous relationships while there are others in ethically open or polyamorous relationships.
   Everyone needs to recognize that the vast majority of Bi+ people are decent human beings hoping to find someone special. Searching for love, romance, companionship, chemistry, and connection. Sound familiar?
   And sure, like all communities, there are a few jerks. But they are the exceptions, not the rule.
   One of the big problems facing Bi+ today is how so much of the Straight and Gay/Lesbian communities believe or go along with unfair, preconceived stereotypes that are not true the majority of the time. Bi+ are not a bunch of confused, lying cheaters, yet way too much of society goes along with such ridiculous notions. This is why so much of the Bi+ Community suffers in the closet, afraid of what will happen if their secret is discovered. And Bi+ individuals who are out frequently face intolerance and prejudice from members of the Straight and Gay/Lesbian Communities. As a result, Bi+ often finding dating brutally difficult since so many people categorically refuse to go out on even one date once they realize an individual is Bi+.
   Newsflash folks: if you like someone, you’re interested in them in many ways, there is great chemistry, you both want a monogamous relationship (for example), and so on, but you automatically refuse to go out with them (without giving them a chance) once you realize they can be attracted to more than one gender, that is a form of prejudice!
   This needs to change.
   People need to educate themselves and open their minds.
   They should not be intolerant, jumping to unfair conclusions, just because someone is Bi+.
   They need to remember that Bi+ are people too and deserve a chance.
   Remember: Love Is Love!

https://bi.org/en

https://biresource.org/

http://stillbisexual.com/

Trump’s Assault On Democracy Should Enrage All Americans

1-10-21
   We’ve seen over and over how unfit for the Office of President Donald Trump is with repeated examples of his inappropriate, outrageous, and disgraceful behavior. He’s ridiculed people with disabilities, lied more than any other modern president, regularly undermined his own government officials and policies, insulted valuable allies while going out of his way to avoid saying anything bad about Vladimir Putin and Russia. Also consider how horribly the Trump Administration has handled the COVID Pandemic so that in many ways, states have been left largely on their own to deal with the devastating crisis. This alone has undoubtedly cost many lives to be lost tragically, needlessly, and unnecessarily.
   Then we come to the 2020 Presidential election. This was a free and fair election. Every state has certified the results. There were Democratic, Republican, and Independent observers in all the ballot counting rooms. International observers from multiple countries were even present monitoring the election. There was no widespread irregularities or fraud. But Donald Trump has been attacking the election making totally baseless and completely false claims of fraud that he has no evidence for. He has lost over 60 lawsuits because of his lack of evidence. And many of the judges who ruled against Trump were conservative. The fact is that there was no widespread fraud. It was a free and fair election, yet millions of people, who have been blindly following Trump, seem to believe his disgusting lies. He has been purposely spewing out these false claims of fraud, getting his followers angrier and angrier, as he has tried to stop Biden from becoming President. Trump has become dangerously unstable, unhinged, and obsessed with the election which has culminated in his inciting an angry mob to storm the US Capitol Building.
   Think about that. The President of the United States incited a mob to assault the Capitol Building. The clear intent of the insurrection was to try to interfere with Congressional certification of Joe Biden’s victory.
   The horrendously undemocratic and frankly unAmerican effort failed, for Congress reconvened within hours and finished it’s Constitutionally mandated duty.
   Joe Biden will be inaugurated on January 20th as President of the United States.
   Now the question is what to do about Trump. In my opinion Trump’s behavior has been so clearly unstable and wrong on so many levels that he should be removed from office as soon as possible. Since voluntary resignation almost certainly will not happen, I feel that it’s time for Vice President Pence and the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office for being unfit to serve. Unfortunately, since the Cabinet is full of Trump loyalists who have been going along with and enabling Trump’s terrible behavior for a long time, it doesn’t appear likely that enough of them will the courage to do the right thing.
   That leaves Impeachment. It looks like this will happen quickly in the House of Representatives. And Trump must be held accountable. The problem is that Mitch McConnell is most likely not going to call the Senate back to session early. As a result, the Senate wouldn’t be able to even start a trial until the day before the Presidential inauguration of Joe Biden. Once Biden is in office, he understandably wants to immediately start dealing with important legislation, such as getting economic relief to the country and organizing a national strategy to fight COVID-19. A Senate trial right after the inauguration would delay such action. Plus, there is the concern about whether enough Republican Senators have the guts to be willing to vote to convict. One option would be to delay a Senate trial for a few months. This would let Biden and Congress focus on immediate issues that need to be dealt with as soon as possible. It would also allow more thorough investigations to occur into what happened, including the events leading up to the attack. A big positive of Trump being successfully convicted would be preventing him from running for office ever again. But would enough Republican Senators be willing to convict Donald Trump.
   We are going through unprecedented times. I truly hope Donald Trump is held responsible for his horrendous and disgusting actions in attacking our democracy. It is also time for people, who have been following Donald Trump, to open their eyes and recognize how bad, undemocratic, and unAmerican he is.

People Need To Educate Themselves And Open Their Minds About Bisexual+ Sexuality.

  Let’s be clear here: I think most of the population still has a lot to learn about Bisexual+ sexuality. Evidence of this includes the fact that too many Bi+ individuals feel they have to live in the closet due to the lack of understanding, intolerance, and prejudice encountered from too many members of the Straight and Gay/Lesbian Communities.
   This has got to change. It’s way past time for everyone to open their minds and educate themselves about Bi+ sexuality!
   So let’s get started.
   What is Bi+ sexuality you may be wondering. Well, Bisexual+, or Bi+, is an umbrella term for anyone who can be attracted to more than one gender whatever terms or labels they prefer, for there isn’t one label everyone uses. Bisexual, Pansexual, Fluid, Omnisexual, Heteroflexible, Homoflexible, and Queer (a catch all for all LGBTQ people) are just some examples. There are different terms and different ways people look at the potential of being attracted to more than one gender.
   Now, like any community, there is a wide range of Bi+ folks from all walks of life with a plethora of feelings, ideas, and outlooks. Bi+ can be rich, poor, young, old, cis gendered men and women, transgender men and women, nonbinary, genderfluid, genderqueer, you name it. Most are looking for, or are in, monogamous relationships while there are others in ethically open or polyamorous relationships.
   Everyone needs to recognize that the vast majority of Bi+ people are decent human beings hoping to find someone special. Searching for love, romance, companionship, chemistry, and connection. Sound familiar?
   And sure, like all communities, there are a few jerks. But they are the exceptions, not the rule.
   One of the big problems facing Bi+ today is how so many people believe or go along with unfair, preconceived stereotypes that are not true the majority of the time. Bi+ are not a bunch of confused, lying cheaters, yet way too much of society goes along with such ridiculous notions. This is why so much of the Bi+ Community suffers in the closet, afraid of what will happen if their secret is discovered. And Bi+ individuals who are out frequently face intolerance and prejudice from members of the Straight and Gay/Lesbian Communities. As a result, Bi+ often finding dating brutally difficult since so many people categorically refuse to go out on even one date once they realize an individual is Bi+.
   Newsflash folks: if you like someone, you’re interested in them in many ways, you both want a monogamous relationship (for example), and so on, but you automatically refuse to go out with them once you realize they can be attracted to more than one gender, that is a form of prejudice!
   This needs to change.
   People need to educate themselves and open their minds.
   They should not be intolerant, jumping to unfair conclusions, just because someone is Bi+.
   They need to remember that Bi+ are people too and deserve a chance.
   Remember: Love Is Love!

https://biresource.org/

http://stillbisexual.com/

https://bi.org/en

A Number Of Congressional Republicans Are Threatening US Democracy

1-2-21:
   In a few days, January 6th, Congress is due to certify the 2020 Presidential election. Normally, this is a simple formality, but this time, it has become much more complicated.
   There was no widespread fraud in this election. As with all elections, there were a few isolated problems here and there (which is normal), but nothing systematic or widespread and nothing that would change the outcome of the election. State government officials (both Democrat and Republican) have certified the election. There were Democratic, Republican, and Independent observers in all the ballot counting rooms.  There were even International Observers from multiple countries monitoring the election as well. The conclusion from all these people is that it was a free and fair election.
   Joe Biden won, and Donald Trump lost, fair and square.
   But dangerously and pathetically, Trump is making totally baseless accusations of fraud that he has no evidence for. He has lost lawsuit after lawsuit because he has no evidence.  It’s clear that his claims of fraud are completely false and self-serving, yet he continues spewing out this utter nonsense, apparently for his own twisted reasons.
   Trump will not steal this election as he is apparently trying to do. Joe Biden will be inaugurated January 20th.
   But it is extremely disturbing how numerous Congressional Republicans are going along with Trump’s disgusting, unAmerican behavior. Some are threatening to object to Congressional certification of the election despite the fact that the election was free and fair. This terrible, cowardly behavior is undermining our democracy.
   And you know what: History is going to treat the actions of Trump and those going along with him very, very harshly. And they will deserve the harsh treatment because they are going against (and even trying to overturn) the will of the American people who have already spoken by voting.
   Think about it. The actions of Trump and those going along with him are threatening the very foundation of our country, Democracy.
   We must never forget what is happening.
   We must never forget that elected officials are knowingly and willfully hurting our democratic way of life.
   We must remember who these individuals are and vote them out of office when they come up for reelection themselves.
   And we must all strive to do better in the future in upholding and defending our democracy.

2021 Is Here

1-1-21
   It’s a new year!  The twisted, tortuous, brutal year of 2020 has finally drawn to a close which is a huge relief to people around the world.
   While we all hope that 2021 will be better than 2020, the reality is that it will take time.
   In the United States, COVID case numbers are scarily high with death tolls often reaching over 3000 in a 24 hour period. Many experts expect January to get particularly bad with a surge upon a surge occurring as the effects of people, who disregarded medical experts’ pleas to avoid big holiday gatherings, are felt.
   In addition to the COVID situation, Trump and his people are undermining American democracy with outrageously false claims about the election. While Trump’s attempts to steal the election away from the American people will fail, it appears he is going to try to hold as much power over the Republican Party, after he leaves office, as he can get away with. This is disturbing to say the least. Even though he will no longer be an elected official, he will likely try to control what Republicans (who are in elected positions) do by threatening to turn his followers against them. This is a form of authoritarianism that is dangerous and damaging to democracy.
   Thus, 2021 will not be a walk in the park. But hopefully, it’ll get better. Perhaps with time, some of the Republicans who have been going along with Trump’s outrageousness (even when they know he’s in the wrong) will finally grow a spine and turn away from him, but time will tell if that actually happens. Hopefully, the COVID vaccination program will pick up steam so that the majority of the population can get vaccinated as soon as possible, that way we can start reaching herd immunity. With herd immunity, we can begin getting life back to a more reasonable, enjoyable state.
   So, hang in there. People need to listen to medical experts and work together in combating COVID-19. We must stand up for our democratic values. People need to stop enabling Trump’s abhorrent, unAmerican behavior and recognize that the election was fair and that Trump legitimately lost. It’s time to put the toxic divisions and hate of the Trump years behind us and strive to help one another and work together in creating a better future.

Fast Food In The Ancient Roman World

12-27-20
   A fast food place (known as a thermopolium) uncovered at Pompeii, Italy gives us a glimpse of everyday life in the Ancient Roman world.
   Thermopolia were quite common in Roman towns and cities. There are over 80 in the ruins of Pompeii alone. They were places where people could stop by to get hot food and drink. While some thermopolia had a room in back for people to dine in, many did not. So it appears that these places were often used as take out.
   This particular thermopolium has the typical counter whose top contains a row of sizable holes. These holes are the tops of embedded jars called dolia. Since the dolia were built in, they probably held dried foods such as nuts because cleaning them out would have been clearly problematic otherwise.
   Thermopolia served a variety of things such as wine, meats, cheeses, fish, lentils, and nuts. A sauce made of fish guts called garum would have often been involved since it was commonly used back then, similar to how something like ketchup is today.
   While the wealthy may have gone to Thermopolia on occasion, it was probably ordinary people on the lower end of the financial spectrum who frequented these establishments the most because the majority of lower or middle class Romans who were in towns and cities lived in apartment buildings called insulae. The apartments (especially those for the poor) were often small, cramped, and without a private kitchen. As a result, the lower classes would often frequent thermopolia for prepared meals.
   Decorations in thermopolia varied. For some, they would have been quite simple while others more elaborate. This particular thermopolium has multiple frescoes whose subjects include one with two mallard ducks, one of a rooster, and another of a mythological figure. A fresco of a dog was discovered which is unique in that a person(s) of the time had scratched some graffiti along its edge insulting someone, possibly the proprietor of the establishment.
   While there are certainly major differences between our time and the ancient Roman world, there are similarities too. They were human beings trying to live their lives.
   Check out the links below for more information and photos, including about the thermopolium discussed in this piece.

A thermopolium at Herculeaneum. On the right, you can see how dolia were built in to the counters.

http://pompeiisites.org/en/comunicati/the-ancient-snack-bar-of-regio-v-resurfaces-in-its-entirety-with-scenes-of-still-life-food-residues-animal-bones-and-victims-of-the-eruption/

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/romans-loved-fast-food-much-we-do-180971845/

The Border Between North And South Korea Is One Of The Most Tense And Heavily Fortified In The World

12-26-20
   On May 3rd of this year (2020), North Korean soldiers fired across the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) towards a guard post on the southern side. South Korea says its soldiers then issued a warning broadcast and fired two shots back in return. No one on the southern side was injured.
   Did you know that the Korean DMZ is probably the most heavily fortified border in the world?
   It is.
   The Demilitarized Zone was established in 1953 when the Korean War came to end and runs across the Korean peninsula separating the Communist North from the Democratic South. It’s approximately 150 miles long and 2.5 miles wide running along the 38th parallel. An estimated 2 million mines are dispersed in or near the DMZ which is in addition to all the guard posts, fences, barbed wire, tank traps, artillery, combat vehicles, and hundreds of thousands of troops that line the entire border area.
   And guess what? This isn’t the first incident to occur there. Oh no. There have been scattered clashes occurring between the two sides since the end of the war which have included helicopters being shot down when they accidentally strayed across the border, engagements on water, and guard posts having firefights against each other.
   Panmunjom is a village that straddles the border itself. Here, North Korean and South Korean soldiers stare at each other day in and day out, sometimes with just feet separating them. There are 5 one story buildings, 3 of which are painted United Nations blue, that stand directly on the border line so that half is in the South and half is in the North. These buildings are where delegates can sit down at a table (that is also bisected by the border) for talks. When South Korean soldiers open the door to the North, they do so in pairs. One opens the door while the second holds on to him. They do this because there is genuine fear that North Koreans might try to grab and abduct the first soldier. That is how tense things are.
   Considering how dictatorial and ruthless the North Korean regime is, it doesn’t look like there will be any significant easing of tensions at the Korean DMZ anytime soon.

Restrict Indoor Holiday Celebrations To Only Those Who Already Live In The Home.

12-20-20
   COVID cases are rising at a dangerous rate here in the United States. As a matter of fact, right now, the leading cause of death in the US is COVID with a person dying of the dangerous virus approximately every 30 seconds.
   Think about that: every 30 seconds, a human being dies of COVID-19 in the United States. Putting it in these terms: when you listen to Bing Crosby’s “A White Christmas,” odds are that 5-6 people just died of COVID in the United States.
   Think about that.
   As of 10am EST on December 20, 2020: 316,209 people have died of COVID in the United States, and with the way things are going, by April 1, there is a very real chance that number will be well over 500,000.
   There are a number of reasons for why the US is getting hammered so badly. One factor is that a number of viruses get worse in terms of spread during cold weather. Flu is an example of that.
   Another reason is due to the fact that the United States has mishandled this pandemic so badly. Leadership from the Federal Government has frequently been severely (or at times totally) lacking and when present, has often been uncoordinated and terribly inadequate. The Trump Administration has botched the job with confused, inconsistent responses and messaging which has often been filled with bad information and even flat out lies. In many ways, states have been left on their own in battling the pandemic (to a far greater extent than they should have been) with some states being more effective and responsible than others. The result has been a kind of disorganized ad hoc, patchwork approach instead of a coordinated national strategy.
   On top of this is the fact that many Americans (including Donald Trump) are still not taking this pandemic seriously and frequently disregard social distancing and mask wearing guidelines. Far too many people ignored the pleas of the medical community and went ahead and traveled for the Thanksgiving holiday to have inappropriately large gatherings. This undoubtedly worsened surge of COVID cases and deaths this country is seeing.
   Enough folks!
   The COVID pandemic is real, serious, and deadly. COVID has a significantly higher mortality rate than flu and can lead to debilitating long term effects in some who survive it.
   Another factor in COVID’s rapid spread is how a number of people who get COVID have mild or no symptoms but can still unknowingly spread it to other people, who in turn may be at high risk of serious disease and potentially even death.
   Hospitals around the country are nearing (or have reached capacity), and ER personnel are beyond exhausted with too many getting sick themselves. Southern California is literally running out of ICU beds as I write this. When hospital systems get overwhelmed, more people die who could have been saved otherwise.
   So, damn it, open your minds and do your part.
   Listen to the scientists and medical experts. Practice social distancing and mask wearing in public. Don’t have big holiday gatherings. Holiday celebrations (particularly indoor ones) should be restricted to only those who already live in the household. Stay home as much as you can. This is not the time for unnecessary travel, big indoor gatherings, and such.
   We are at war with COVID, and everyone should make adjustments in their lives in order to do their part in combating the virus to save lives.
   It’s up to all of us!

https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/

Human Caused Climate Change Is Here And Must Be Battled Now

12-15-20
   Human Caused Climate Change is here!
   It’s too late to prevent it.
   It’s here whether we like it or not! And worse yet is that human activity brought this on.
   That’s right, it’s our fault.
   Human activity, particularly the extensive use of fossil fuels for energy, has resulted in rising CO2 levels in the Earth’s atmosphere. In 1850, the CO2 level was 280 ppm (parts per million) while in November, 2020, it was 415 ppm. That is a major increase in atmospheric CO2, which along with other gases, has created a greenhouse effect that is warming the planet.
   What makes this situation even more tragic is that scientists have been warning everyone about this for decades. But most ignored it.
   Well, it can’t be ignored any longer!
   The effects of Climate Change are affecting us now.
   For example, glaciers and the polar ice caps are melting, thus raising ocean levels. Many mountain snowpacks are getting smaller in winter, in large part due to the fact that more precipitation is falling as rain (especially at lower elevations) instead of snow. This means that water problems will likely worsen for areas that rely on the spring melt for their drinking water, places like California and India.
   Weather patterns are changing so that some areas are experiencing greater numbers of intense storms while others are getting significantly drier so that droughts are occurring more frequently and often with increased severity. This is why we are seeing worsening wildfires in various parts of the world such as California and Australia. Both of these places were already prone to wildfires, but as they become hotter and drier, they are experiencing wildfires that are greater in terms of number and intensity.
   Climate Change is also affecting tropical coral reefs around the world. Increasing air temperatures are warming the oceans’ water. When the water gets too warm, coral expels algae that was living in its tissues. This turns the coral white in color (this is also known as coral bleaching). In this state, the coral is under stress and at greater risk of dying.
   Now consider this: as the conditions of the planet are altered (by human actions), there is a greater chance of more animals going extinct.
   Because of us humans.
   These are just some of the effects we are seeing from Human Caused Climate Change.
   Now, it’s up to all of us to work together in battling it to try to minimize the damage.
Each one of us must make changes in our daily lives to be more pro-environment. Examples include using public transportation, carpooling (after COVID), driving vehicles with better fuel efficiency, recycling, decreasing use of plastic (take permanent reusable bags to the grocery store, and if you use plastic bags, take them back to the store for recycling (plastic bags can’t be put in curbside recycling in most places)), and educate yourself. Spread the word. Put pressure on businesses, governments, and organizations to become more pro-environment.
   In addition to these, vote!
   Vote for elected officials who acknowledge Human Caused Climate Change and are taking action to fight it.
   Vote out Climate Change deniers.
   If we all take action, we can slow Climate Change down and minimize the damage.
   But we must act now! 

https://climate.nasa.gov/

http://ocean.si.edu/through-time/ancient-seas/sea-level-rise

https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/coral_bleach.html#:~:text=When%20water%20is%20too%20warm,and%20are%20subject%20to%20mortality.