Suicide Is NEVER The Answer

   I know these are difficult, troubling times with many people feeling hurt, nervous, uncertain, and afraid. Isolation from the pandemic has worn lots of people down, and all the viciousness that seems to be permeating our society is heartbreaking and disheartening. With everything going on, a number of people feel like they’re at the breaking point and think things are hopeless.
   But folks, suicide is not the answer.
   I’m going to say that again: suicide is not the answer.
   No matter how difficult things may be or how hopeless a situation may seem, taking your own life is never the answer. You’ve got to hang in there. Try to remember there are good things in life and activities that you enjoy. It could be a trip you took once upon a time that you really enjoyed, or it could be a movie that makes you laugh. Or a good book that you enjoy losing yourself in for a little while. Or perhaps a walk through a pretty park on a beautiful day. And even if it feels like hope is in short supply, don’t give up on it. Hope is still out there. Believe in yourself. You have the ability to persevere and get through to better times. You can do it.
   And don’t be afraid to seek out professional help. There’s no shame in that, and it could save your life.
   I’m including links to several sites which provide support for people in crisis. Check them out and share them with others.
   And remember: never give up. Believe in yourself. No matter what happens, you always have yourself.

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

https://afsp.org/lgbtq-crisis-and-support-resources

https://www.thetrevorproject.org/

Republicans Are Pushing For New Laws That Would Make Voting More Difficult For Many Americans

4-5-21
   Republicans around the country are pushing for new laws that would make it significantly more difficult for many Americans to vote. They’re particularly targeting mail in voting and ballot drop boxes, both of which were used heavily by people who voted for Democrats in the last election.
   This is no coincidence. It’s very clear that the Republicans are trying to make it more difficult for people to vote, especially those they fear will vote for Democrats. Historically, Republicans have often feared large voter turnouts in elections because they worry that it may favor the Democrats if more people come out and vote.
   This is clear voter suppression. Republicans are trying to increase the odds that they might win future elections by making it more difficult for those who may vote for Democrats to cast their ballot. This is sick, disgusting, and goes against what democracy is supposed to be about. Frankly, it starts getting dangerously close to authoritarianism and clearly goes against what this country should stand for.
   Everyone who cares about our freedoms and democracy should be furious and speak out against these horrendous laws that Republicans are pushing all around the country. Mail in voting has been shown over and over to be very effective and quite secure. The military has been using it for years. We should be encouraging people to exercise their constitutional right to vote and have a voice in American democracy.
   People need to speak up and speak out against these outrageous new laws.
   Let’s stand for democracy and the United States Constitution.

https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/30/politics/voting-rights-republicans-restrictions-key-states/index.html

Too Many People Are Hurting Due To A Lack Of Acceptance From Much Of Society.

   Hey there folks. I’d like to talk about something that’s very important which many people don’t realize. The fact is that there are a great number of LGBTQ people who are hurting, isolated, and alone because too many members of the Straight and Gay / Lesbian Communities don’t fully accept us. And this needs to change. It’s the 21st century for crying out loud.
   Who am I talking about you may wonder. It’s actually a lot more people than you may think. Bisexual+, Genderfluid, Genderqueer, Nonbinary, Transgender, Asexual, and others (NTBA+ for short) often feel like we’re not fully accepted by most of society so that far too often, we end up very isolated and alone.
   Many people fear, and even ostracize, individuals whom they see as too different. Often, they assume the worst. That somehow we must be confused and untrustworthy. Or that we’re just plain too weird. The result is that they don’t fully accept us.
   The consequences are that too many NTBA+ people end up feeling like we don’t belong anywhere and that people don’t want us. It makes finding true friends incredibly difficult and often dating becomes virtually impossible, despite the fact that we can be just as faithful and monogamous as anyone else and that we want love too. Unfortunately, too many of us are having to face the brutal reality that we are probably going to be alone for the rest of our lives.
   Things need to change.
   The Straight and Gay / Lesbian Communities as a whole need to open their minds and their hearts. NTBA+ people deserve acceptance and a chance. Don’t automatically reject us because of who we are. Try to open your minds and get to know us. We also enjoy the same interests and activities that you do, whether it’s movies, TV shows, and art or good food, travel, and the outdoors. Plus, diversity should be celebrated, not feared.
   We are people too.
   We have hopes and dreams.
   We want to have happy productive lives like everyone else.
   All we are asking for is a chance.
   If everyone strove to be kind, considerate, tolerant, open-minded, and accepting, imagine how wonderful and magical the world could be for everyone.

The United States And Guns

   The United States of America has a serious gun problem. One way or another, most people know this, although some are in denial and don’t want to believe it or admit it. But it’s true.
   Too many people are dying every single day tragically and needlessly because of gun violence.
   When the Constitution was created in the 18th century, it was a different time. There were no smartphones, communication was slow, the standing army was tiny, and many people lived in small rural communities or farms that were isolated and far away from help if something occurred. If you lived on a small farm in the 1700s, you couldn’t jump in the car and go to the grocery store. Small farmers frequently had to be much more self-reliant growing a significant amount of their own food and sometimes hunting for meat. Also if a criminal came to the farm, they couldn’t call 911. In many ways, they were on their own because it could take hours or longer to alert the authorities and get help. Something else to consider is that the muskets of the 18th century were much slower to reload and much less accurate than weapons today. Someone with significant practice could get off maybe three shots in a minute, give or take. In real world circumstances, it was likely often less than three a minute. And finally, the United States of the 18th century and early 19th centuries relied heavily on militias for defense because the standing army was tiny.
   In other words, the Second Amendment was written in another time when the circumstances were vastly different than today.
  It’s now the 21st century, and the United States has a large standing military, the National Guard, extensive police and law enforcement agencies, rapid communication, vehicles, planes, trains, grocery stores, and much deadlier guns. It’s definitely a different time.
   Let’s start by comparing assault rifles to muskets. A muzzleloading musket from the 18th century would take around 20 seconds to reload and fire if you were experienced, whereas a semi-automatic assault rifle can fire essentially as fast as your finger can squeeze on top of having high capacity clips. Realistically, someone could fire 60 rounds or more in a minute with a much higher degree of accuracy than the old muzzleloading muskets. The people who wrote the Second Amendment likely had no idea that assault rifles would ever exist or be in the hands of civilians.
   Now, let’s compare gun violence in the United States to that of other countries which have stricter gun control laws. First, death by firearms in 2017 per 100,000 people. According to the statistical site, Our World In Data, the United States rate was 4.63. The United Kingdom’s rate was 0.06, whereas Australia’s was 0.18. Germany’s was 0.1, and Japan’s was 0.03. Think about the vast difference between these countries and the United States.
   Now let’s look at the rate of death by interpersonal violence using any method in 2017 per 100,000 people. In the United States, the rate was 6.1. The UK’s was 0.5, and Australia’s was 1.4. Germany’s rate was 0.8 and Japan’s was 0.6. As you can see, the rates are multiple times lower than that of the United States.
   Take a look at these numbers. Look at the vast difference between United States and these other countries. The UK, Germany, Japan, and Australia have crime like the United States does. Their crime rates overall may be a little less than the United States in some cases, but not that much less.
   So let’s be honest about what’s going on. The major factor that explains the significant difference in murder rates is guns. The other countries listed here have much stricter gun control laws than the United States does. That’s the big difference. And if you compare these rates between the United States and other countries such as Belgium, France, and others, you will find similar results.
   It’s clear as day that the United States has a major gun problem and must enact stricter gun control laws. Gun violence in this country is just plain way out of control, and too many innocent people including children are dying every single day because of it.
   I’m not saying make all guns illegal. But there are practical, common sense gun control laws that would make a difference, especially in the long term. Ideas include banning assault style rifles from private ownership. No civilian needs an assault rifle. Assault rifles were created to kill human beings in times of war. That’s what they were designed for. Not for hunting animals or sport shooting. Restricting the size of clips is another practical idea that could save lives. Again, no one needs clips that hold 30 rounds of ammunition or more. Mandatory training and licensing would be a great idea. In order to drive a vehicle, you have to take a test and get a license, so why not do something similar for guns. Also, more extensive background checks would save a lot of lives as would tighter laws on proper storage of guns and ammunition when not in use. Too many kids die in tragic accidents when they grab their parents’ loaded gun that was sitting below the bed.
   By instituting laws like this nationwide, many lives would be saved, and law-abiding citizens who want to have a gun for hunting or similar would still be able to do so. As a matter of fact, many gun owners support gun control laws like this.
   So it’s definitely time to act. People need to stop automatically opposing gun control legislation ideas. Too many Americans are needlessly dying every single day. It’s time to enact better gun control laws.
   Future innocent lives are literally at stake.

https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/homicide-rates-from-firearms

https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/homicide-rate

https://www.numbeo.com/crime/compare_countries_result.jsp?country1=United+States&country2=United+Kingdom

There Are Multiple Factors Leading To Intolerance And Hate

   Where did all the hate and prejudice that is pervading society today come from? It’s the 21st century! Many of us want to think that society would be better than this, so why does it feel like so much intolerance is all around us.
   We live in an age of incredible advancements in terms of technology and communication. We have access to more information than anyone in human history and the ability to exchange information with one another faster than ever before. You’d think this would help broaden people’s minds as they learn about other people and far away places. And for some people, it has. But for others, it appears that this is not the case.
   So where is all this hate and prejudice coming from?
   I think the answer to that question is very complicated and varies from person to person. Often, it’s probably a combination of multiple factors that come together and lead to prejudice and hate.
   Lack of knowledge is a big one. People often fear what they don’t understand, so when they are confronted with something that they know very little about and is different from their own life experiences, many people respond with mistrust and intolerance. Their automatic response might be suspicion that it must be something bad and that they must stand against it.
   The influences of people and/or organizations in a person’s life which that person trusts are also major factors. If those influences consist of open-minded and tolerant attitudes, that could help broaden an individual’s mind. But when the influences are intolerant and close-minded, that increases the likelihood that an individual will adopt those attitudes as well, especially if the person was already leaning in that direction to begin with.
   Another issue is how so many people these days surround themselves with (or follow) individuals, websites, organizations, and other sources of information that tell them what they want to hear instead of giving them objective information and showing them diverse points of view. Again, this can reinforce intolerant and prejudiced attitudes that a person may already have and even make them worse.
   Fear of the unknown and of change also frequently comes into play. Many people don’t want to step out of their comfort zone. They want to surround themselves with what is familiar and what they prefer.
   So when you think about it, it’s easy to see how all these factors can combine in leading to intolerant, prejudiced attitudes.
   As a society, we must do better than this. People need to have the courage to open their minds and broaden their horizons. Think for themselves and don’t automatically believe some individual, organization, or website. Seek out sources of information that are varied, independent, and reputable. Have the courage to seek out new ideas and learn about different points of view. Recognize that there is often multiple ways to do things and accomplish goals. That this is a diverse planet and that we need to learn about one another, learn from one another, and strive to work together as best we can.
   It’s time to do better.

Earth Is In Serious Trouble If We Don’t Make Major Changes. Period.

   Earth is amazing when you think about it. The Universe is such a vast place with countless stars, planets, solar systems, and galaxies. It’s incredible to think about how so many things had to come together just right in order for life as we know it to form and evolve on this world. If Earth had been a little closer to the Sun or a little farther out, it wouldn’t have happened.
   So it’s really unfathomable how human beings, who are supposed to be the most intelligent species on the planet, are in the process of destroying the only home we have.
   Why are we doing this? Why are human beings devastating this beautiful world?
   Humans get so caught up in their daily lives that they often become thoughtless and short-sighted. They seem to only think about what will improve their own personal lives, families, careers, friends, and so on. People often lose sight of the bigger picture. Many don’t think about how their actions impact the world around them and as a whole. Plus, there are also humans who knowingly damage the environment out of pure greed. They don’t care. Companies and individuals that have willfully and illegally dumped toxic waste into lakes and rivers are classic examples.
   Most of the time I would say it’s a combination of these various factors. There are plenty of people who don’t necessarily want to be hurtful and greedy, yet to varying degrees become so as they pursue what they want and what they feel they need.
   The thing is: there is overwhelming evidence that human activity is causing serious damage to the only home we have, Earth. Ecosystems are being lost and too many species of animals and plants are on the verge of extinction because of human activity. CO2 levels continue to rise which is leading to dangerous increases in global temperatures and changes in the Earth’s climate. This in turn leads to more frequent extreme weather events, droughts, wildfires, water shortages, and more. Many scientists are genuinely concerned that if things don’t change very soon, there will be mass extinctions of many species of animals and plants.
   We can’t keep doing this to the only home we have.
   We all need to make changes in our lives, big and small, in order to take better care of Earth. People need to start educating themselves and seeing the bigger picture of what is going on and what we need to do.
   If we start making better choices and working to make this a better world, in a hundred years, Earth could be a beautiful place where humans and nature have found a balance and live in harmony.
   But if we continue down the destructive path that we are headed, in a 100 years, Earth will be a place that is grossly overpopulated, badly polluted, and where countless species of plants and animals have gone extinct.
   It’s time for all of us to make changes so that in a hundred years, the former will hopefully be true and not the latter.
  

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

https://climate.nasa.gov/

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-24021772

We Must Fight COVID Aggressively Right Now And Avoid Getting Too Lax Too Soon

3-6-21
   The COVID pandemic has been raging for over a year now. People are getting tired of wearing masks, social distancing, not seeing friends and family in person, not attending gatherings, and so on and so on. A great number of people are hurting financially due to jobs being lost or hours being severely curtailed because of the economic impacts of the pandemic. Many businesses are suffering and quite a few sadly have closed permanently.
   So I understand why people are so eager to try to get life back to a more normal level.
   But, the pandemic is still raging. While in a number of areas, cases have slowed down to some degree compared to during the holidays, the numbers of new cases are still dangerously high. And in many states and cities, the rate of new cases right now is higher as compared to the spring of 2020 when states went into total lockdown.
   I’m not saying we should to go into a total lockdown again. But we must continue to fight the pandemic.
   Texas has rescinded its mask wearing mandate and is allowing businesses to open to full capacity. This is dangerously premature and in my opinion will absolutely cost lives to be lost unnecessarily and tragically. It’s way too soon to open businesses at 100% capacity, and rescinding mask wearing mandates is grossly irresponsible.
   The COVID virus has mutated as viruses due. Currently, there are multiple variants spreading around the country and the world. Several have shown to be more contagious than the original strain. We also can’t say how efficacious the current vaccines will be against all these new variants. This is why mask wearing, social distancing, and restrictions on how many people are allowed inside businesses are still vitally important in fighting this virus.
   What we need is for everyone around the country and the world to continue wearing masks and social distancing in public. Businesses will have to find ways to function as best they can with restrictions such as limiting the number of customers allowed inside. We also need as many people as possible to get vaccinated as soon as they are able. If we do this, we will get control over the COVID virus much sooner, which in the long run will save lives and help businesses get back to more normal levels sooner than otherwise.
   But fully reopening and relaxing mask wearing/social distancing rules too soon will prolong the pandemic and cost more lives to be lost, lives which could have been saved otherwise. The other thing that would prolong the pandemic is if too many people refuse to get vaccinated. In order to reach herd immunity, we need as much of the population to get vaccinated as possible.
   So please, continue taking precautions. Wear masks and social distance in public. And when your turn comes, unless your doctor has a genuine legitimate reason not to, get vaccinated against the COVID virus.
   By working together we can get through this and get through it sooner. But it’s up to all of us.

The United States Badly Needs The COVID Relief Bill Passed

3-1-21
   People all around the country are hurting badly during this pandemic between health concerns, tragic deaths, and economic impacts.
   A great number of businesses are seriously hurting, and as a result, many people have found their hours being cut or their jobs lost completely. Even places that have been around for decades with devoted customers have had to shutter their doors permanently. Many people are on the precipice of potentially being kicked out of their apartments and homes. Millions of Americans are barely hanging on.
   But the thing is: this pandemic is still raging. People are still getting sick and too many are dying, so various restrictions are still needed to try to control spread of the disease and save lives.
   It’s a terrible dilemma. We have to balance fighting the virus while trying not to devastate the economy at the same time.
   This is why we really need Congress and the White House to pass the COVID relief bill as soon as possible. Everyone’s not going to get everything they want in the bill. This is a democracy in a time where partisan divides are often extreme and bitter. But we have to find ways to work together and get something passed to help people and businesses who are struggling economically as well as provide strategy and coordination in the effort to battle the devastating virus.
   Come on DC. Please get it done.

Everyone Needs To Do Their Part In Battling The COVID Pandemic

3-1-21
   I know people are sick and tired of the pandemic. They want to get out and do things. They miss restaurants, family gatherings, bars, movie theaters, the list goes on and on.
   People are getting impatient. They want their lives back to the way they were before.
   But folks, the COVID Pandemic is still raging.
   People are still dying. As a matter of fact, people are dying at a daily rate that is higher than was seen back in early 2020 when strict shut down measures were first instituted.
   We must all do our part to fight this deadly disease, and that means keep wearing masks and social distancing in public. It also means that when your turn comes to get a vaccine, get it! Unless your doctor has genuine legitimate reasons not to, get a COVID vaccine when your turn comes because it’s not just about protecting yourself. It’s about protecting everyone. In order to gain herd immunity in the population, we need as many people as possible to get vaccinated. That’s how it works. If a bunch of people refuse to get vaccinated, the pandemic will continue and people will keep dying needlessly, tragically, and before their time.
   So please, please, please: do your part.
   Practice social distancing and mask wearing in public. Avoid large gatherings especially when indoors. And when your turn comes, get vaccinated!
   Together, we will get through this.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/

NASA’s Perseverance Spacecraft Is Due To Land On Mars Thursday, February 18th.

2-15-21
   We’re almost there!
   The Perseverance spacecraft will be arriving at Mars this Thursday, February 18th, after having traveled 292.5 million miles from Earth to the Red Planet. That in itself is an extraordinary feat. But then the real challenge begins.
   The plan is that at approximately 3:55 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, the descent stage of the craft will start the process of entering Martian atmosphere and descending down to the surface of the planet. This is what NASA calls “7 minutes of terror. “
   Why is it so terrifying you might wonder?
   Well consider this. The craft will enter the atmosphere of Mars at approximately 12,000 miles per hour. It must do so at the proper angle, otherwise the mission could fail right then and there. Once it enters the atmosphere, the craft must slow down in 7 minutes so that it can safely land on the surface without being damaged. It will essentially go from 12,000 mph to zero mph in 7 minutes. Also consider this: it takes radio signals approximately 10.5 minutes to travel from Earth to Mars. The result is that once NASA instructs the craft to begin descent, it will be totally out of NASA’s hands. The spacecraft will be entirely on its own as it conducts a complex series of dangerous procedures to land on the Red Planet. And NASA won’t be able to do a single thing to help it out.
   Pretty terrifying when you think about it.
   If all goes well, humanity will have sent a craft and landed it on another world. Impressive when you think about it.
   Once landed, there will be diagnostics and tests conducted to check things out and see if everything is performing properly. One of the Perseverance rover’s missions will be to find a flat surface onto which to place the miniature helicopter, which is called Ingenuity. The plan is that over a 30-day period, there will be a series of short flights to demonstrate the ability of flying a helicopter on another planet. This will be an amazing accomplishment by itself.
   The other primary mission of the Perseverance rover will be to explore its landing site, the Jezero Crater. Billions of years ago, it is believed that an ancient lake and river delta once existed there. Using a variety of instruments, the rover will explore the area learning about its geology and climate as well as searching for potential signs of ancient microbial life. This mission will take years.
   If all goes well, the Perseverance mission is going to be a great achievement that expands our knowledge of another world and further explores the question of whether life evolved on places outside our own planet Earth.
   I recommend checking out the attached links which go into more detail about the exciting Perseverance mission to Mars.

https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2021/02/15/world/mars-landing-nasa-perseverance-guide-scn/index.html

https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/

https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-invites-public-to-share-thrill-of-mars-perseverance-rover-landing