People Should Be Responsible And Adaptable In Living In A World With COVID.

March 23, 2022
   Oh no, another piece about COVID lol! Well, sorry, but yes it is.
   I know everyone wants this damn pandemic to end. I get that. I feel it. But the thing is, COVID is not going to disappear as much as we wish it would. The hard, cold reality is that we have to learn to live with it. But in living with it, that does not mean totally ignoring it as if it wasn’t there. On the other hand, we shouldn’t live in desperate fear of it either. Instead, we need to be vigilant and flexible in terms of living our lives in a world with COVID in it.
   Now, you may be wondering what I mean by that. Well, let me explain. The COVID virus mutates which is why we keep seeing new variants sprout up. This is what viruses do which allows them to survive. Immunity (or immune resistance would be a more accurate term I think) can come from vaccines, previous infection, or both. We also know that with time, immune resistance to COVID decreases, which is why keeping up to date with boosters is so important.  Another issue that comes into play is that as more mutations occur, the risk of new variants becoming more resistant to people’s immunity increases because of the new mutated variants potentially being so different from earlier versions that people’s immune systems don’t respond nearly as well (and in a worst case scenario, not at all). So, when you consider all this and the fact that some people still haven’t gotten vaccinated and how many more have not received boosters, it’s easy to see why COVID cases go up and down.
   Now and in the future, people need to stay aware about what the status of COVID is in their communities and countries, and they should keep up to date in getting their boosters. In all likelihood, new boosters based on newer variants will become available, and it will be important for people to get those shots when they are able (like getting yearly flu vaccines). Also, people need to be prepared to make adjustments depending on what COVID is doing in terms of case numbers and severity. While we all would like to see COVID case numbers stay low, that may not always be the case. In all likelihood, there will be times when case numbers rise (and sometimes it could be to significant levels). As a result, when those levels are high enough to be of concern, people will need to make some adjustments to help bring those levels back down. This could include things like people who had not been wearing masks in indoor public places starting to do so again. Another example could be needing to make adjustments to indoor gatherings (like shifting them outside, decreasing crowd size, and perhaps asking attendees to take at home rapid COVID tests before coming). I’m not saying people will have to take severe precautions all the time. It will depend on what COVID is doing (whether case numbers and severity are low or high).
   While we all need to live our lives, we should be smart about it and do so in a responsible way being prepared to make adjustments if necessary. By being vigilant and flexible, we can keep ourselves and other people safer and healthier which in turn will allow everyone to live better lives.

We Should Send Planes To The Ukrainian Air Force That They Can Use Themselves

March 14, 2022
   We are all seeing the vicious, brutal, unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine on TV. The pain and suffering of the Ukrainian people is heartbreaking and infuriating to watch while their determination to resist and fight back is truly inspiring. There’s no question that Vladimir Putin and numerous members of the Russian military are war criminals as innocent Ukrainian civilians are clearly being targeted. Nations of the world need to support Ukraine with military and humanitarian aid while imposing severe financial sanctions against Russia for as long as it takes to help Ukraine prevail.
   The issues of a potential NATO no-fly zone over Ukraine or sending fighter planes to the Ukrainian Air Force are being discussed right now. I agree that NATO should not try to implement a no-fly zone because it would almost certainly lead to a much wider war with multiple nuclear powers involved. In order to enforce a no-fly zone, NATO would almost certainly have to shoot down Russian planes and likely also have to engage ground based Russian anti-aircraft systems. That would be a shooting war between NATO and Russia. In other words: WW3. So the risk is too great for a NATO no-fly zone.
   But I do think we should supply Ukraine with fighter planes that they would use themselves. I would recommend that Ukrainian pilots be the ones to fly the aircraft across the border into Ukraine with the provision that once in Ukraine, the planes stay there no matter what. It would also be preferable for the planes to try to avoid combat until they have landed inside Ukraine, refueled and armed there. At that point, they could take back off to then engage Russian forces. While Russia would not like this, I think it’s highly unlikely they would do anything militarily against NATO because of it. We are already supplying Ukraine with other military equipment such as anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, and considering the crimes against humanity that Russia is inflicting upon the Ukrainian people, I think we should include military aircraft in those supplies.
   As much of the world as possible needs to stand up against Vladimir Putin and his brutal tyranny. While we need to be smart about it (so as to avoid a wider, more devastating war), the time is now to support Ukraine and stand up for democracy.

Current Events Reveal How Much We Need To Shift To Renewable, Clean Energy Sources

March 7, 2022
   The rise in petroleum prices that we are seeing these days reinforces the need for the United States and other countries to speed up the shift to renewable, clean energy. Supply chain issues, the COVID Pandemic, and now Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine are all playing roles in the current rise of gas prices (and inflation) which we’re seeing around the world.
   Humanity started to increasingly rely on the use of fossil fuels in the 19th century with the use of coal to warm homes, power factories, and run railroads and steamships. With the invention of the combustion engine, fossil fuel use really exploded in the 20th century as more and more people relied on automobiles powered by petroleum products. Coal firing plants to supply energy to cities grew in size and number as did manufacturing facilities. The result of all this was a precipitous rise in CO2 levels in the atmosphere. According to NASA, during the last Ice Age, CO2 levels were around 185 ppm (parts per million)and rose to about 280 ppm by 1850. In January of 2022, it was up to 418. This dramatic increase since 1850 is clearly due to human activity (particularly from the use of fossil fuels). We know from exhaustive research that rising atmospheric CO2 levels causes average temperatures to go up as well, which in turn has created the Climate Change Crisis that the planet is experiencing today.
   In order to combat Human Caused Climate Change, we need to lower atmospheric CO2 levels, and the best way to do that is to decrease the use of fossil fuels while increasing the use of renewable, clean energy sources. Another added benefit will be less reliance on having to import petroleum from other parts of the world because as we are currently seeing how regional and world events can lead to rising petroleum prices that we have to pay due to our reliance on fossil fuels.
   With everything that is going on (including the likelihood of banning Russian petroleum exports),  in the short term, other parts of the world will need to increase oil production in order to prevent gas prices from getting too exorbitantly high. But in the long run, we need to speed up the process of shifting away from fossil fuels and towards the use of renewable, clean energy because it will be better for the planet and also will likely allow the United States and other countries to become less reliant on the necessity to import such significant amounts of their energy needs.

The US And Allies May Need To Ban Russian Petroleum Exports

March 6, 2022
   The world is finally recognizing how viciously brutal Vladimir Putin is with Russia’s bloody invasion of Ukraine. Things will not be the same, and we all will need to adapt to this new world.
   Nations around the globe must stand as united as possible against Russia, supplying Ukraine with military and financial aid while also isolating and punishing Russia both diplomatically and financially. The sanctions that have been implemented are important and will hurt the Russian economy significantly. The value of the ruble has already dropped precipitously which is certainly a step in the right direction. The current sanctions are stronger than any Russia has ever faced in modern times, but we need to realize that the international community may also need to ban Russia’s petroleum exports as well.
   In 2019, Russia’s top two exports were Crude Petroleum at 123 billion dollars and Refined Petroleum at 66.2 billion dollars. Current sanctions haven’t hit this area very hard thus far because of the world’s thirst for petroleum. The United States obtains about 5% of it’s petroleum products from Russia while for European countries, it’s much higher (about 50% for Germany). This is why nations have been hesitant about banning Russian petroleum exports. The world is already battling inflation, and there is legitimate concern about how much that could worsen if Russian petroleum gets prohibited. But we may need to implement such bans in order to really put the financial squeeze on Putin and his government seeing how horrendously brutal the Russian invasion has become and due to the fact that if we don’t stop Putin in Ukraine, there is a very real chance he will continue similar moves in other countries such as Georgia, Moldova, and perhaps even Finland.
   It’s time for the international community to stand up to Vladimir Putin and keep him in check. In order to accomplish this, we will all likely have to make some sacrifices. For most of the world it will mean higher gas prices and probably worsened inflation for a time. But that is a small price to pay when you consider what the Ukrainian people are suffering through right now and the need to prevent others from having to experience the same fate.

As Tempting As It Is, A No-Fly Zone Isn’t Going To Happen

March 5, 2022
   We’re all watching Russia’s vicious, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in horror and disgust. The images we’re seeing on the news every day are heart-wrenching and devastating. So many innocent lives being torn apart, destroyed, and lost needlessly and tragically because of one person: Vladimir Putin.
   I’m not a religious person and rarely refer to someone as evil, but Putin is a truly horrible, evil human being. He has brutally and viciously attacked Ukraine despite the fact that Ukraine has never been any real threat to Russia. Vladimir Putin is a cold-blooded, cruel authoritarian autocrat who despises true democracy. He thinks the dissolution of the former Soviet Union was a terrible event and that Ukraine does not deserve to be independent from Russia. Think about how utterly twisted a philosophy that is, yet this is how Putin seems to think. He has had political opponents imprisoned and murdered and has established authoritarian type control over Russian media. This is a guy who is doing everything he can to have as much power and control as he can get away with. He despises the fact that Ukraine has become a democracy that over the last few years has grown closer to the rest of Europe and more distant from Russia. Frankly, he can’t seem to stand the fact that Ukraine is independent from Russia in any form or fashion. It’s clear that in the long run, he wants to establish as much control over former Soviet republics as he can get away with.
   And now we are all witnessing the consequences of Putin’s twisted, authoritarian philosophy and quest for more power which has resulted in his viciously brutal attack upon Ukraine. We are seeing news footage every day of innocent Ukrainians’ suffering and senseless deaths. This in turn has led to a number of people clamoring for the United States and the rest of NATO to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine (like was done in the Balkans) in an attempt to ease the senseless slaughter. As tempting is this idea may be, there’s a very good reason why it’s not going to happen.
   When NATO imposed a no-fly zone in the Balkans, the situation was totally different. It was being done against a force that had almost no air power and very limited air defense systems. More importantly, there was virtually no chance that the conflict would spread into a wider war. The current situation is nothing like that. Russia is a major military power with a very large nuclear arsenal whose military doctrine includes the idea of first strike use of nuclear weapons, particularly tactical nukes. If the United States and the rest of NATO started to impose a no-fly zone, in all likelihood, NATO planes would have to shoot down Russian planes. This would likely lead to Russia trying to shoot down NATO planes with anti-aircraft missiles and jet fighters. Then NATO would probably begin trying to take out Russian anti-aircraft missile sites on the ground in addition to Russian planes in the air. In other words, trying to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine would very likely lead to war between NATO and Russia. If that happened, there is a very real chance that it would expand into a much wider war, World World War III. In such a war, four nuclear powers would be involved with the United States, Great Britain, and France being those on one side and Russia on the other. The risk of such a war ending in an exchange of nuclear weapons is just too dangerous.
   This is why NATO is not going to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine. The international community must unite and work together as much as possible to isolate and punish Vladimir Putin for his bloody invasion of Ukraine. We need as many countries as possible to impose severe sanctions upon Russia in order to make Putin and his Oligarch supporters suffer financially. Nations also need to provide as much military and humanitarian aid as possible to the Ukrainian people and military to help Ukraine fight back against Russia’s brutality.
   The invasion of Ukraine is clearly heartbreaking, vicious, brutal, and outright criminal, but as we respond to Russia’s horrendous actions, we must do so with clear heads because while we need to isolate and punish Russia, a wider war that could go nuclear would be even more devastating.

Putin’s Brutal Authoritarianism Has Renewed The Cold War

Feb 27, 2022
   I have great admiration for the courage and strength that Ukrainians are showing in fighting against Vladimir Putin’s vicious, brutal aggression. They are inspiring people around the world in the way they are standing up for freedom and democracy against great odds.
   Vladimir Putin is clearly a barbaric, ruthless authoritarian autocrat who for years has had a reputation of being cold blooded and calculating in his quest to enhance and expand his power. He has imprisoned and killed political opponents as well as established significant control over Russian media. It’s also become quite clear how he desperately wants to reestablish as much dominance and control over former Soviet republics as he can because he views the dissolution of the Soviet Union as a catastrophic event. Another factor that is likely playing a role is that Russian power in the world has been decreasing while that of other countries such as China has been rising. But what is more disturbing is how it seems Putin has become increasingly unhinged, desperate, and likely surrounded by individuals who never disagree with him. It’s obvious that he has despised and fumed at seeing an independent Ukraine which has become more democratic and closer to the European Union while growing increasingly distant from Russia. This toxic soup of Putin’s led to his seizure of Crimea in 2014 and his instigation of Russian separatists in the Donbas region. These actions pushed Ukraine even closer to the West and more distant from Russia. And now we have Putin’s brutal, unwarranted Russian invasion, a blatant move of bloody aggression as he attempts to impose even more dominance and control over Ukraine. Furthermore, what’s also dangerously disturbing is that considering Putin’s attitude regarding former Soviet republics (don’t forget that he already seizured part of Georgia), it’s obvious that he doesn’t intend to stop with Ukraine.
   We all need to unite against this senseless, vicious, bloody brutality and rally to Ukraine’s support. I’m glad the United States, NATO, and other countries are imposing serious sanctions to punish Putin’s Russia. The international community must isolate Russia as much as possible and make it the pariah that it has become. And nations need to send as much aid as they can to Ukraine in the form of weapons, ammunition, and humanitarian supplies to help the Ukrainian people as they battle Putin’s tyranny.
   It’s clear that a renewed cold war has now descended upon the world, and it will be vitally important for as much of the international community as possible to work together for as long as it takes to minimize the damage Putin can inflict upon the world.

The “Don’t Say Gay” Bills In Florida Are Dangerous For LGBTQ Youth

Feb 12, 2022
   In the state of Florida, there are two education related bills (Senate Bill 1834 and House Bill 1557) being considered that would be seriously detrimental to LGBTQ youth to the point that if passed into law, their suicide rate would almost certainly increase. You may be wondering how I can make such a bold statement. Well, I can because it’s based on facts that I will explain.
   The Trevor Project is a national organization which provides support for LGBTQ young people in crisis who may be considering suicide. In 2021, they conducted a nationwide survey of close to 35,000 LGBTQ young people (aged 13 to 24), and here are some key numbers that they found. 42% of LGBTQ youth had seriously considered suicide in the past year, and for transgender/nonbinary youth, that number was 52%. 72% of LGBTQ young people reported symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder in the previous two weeks, and only one in three indicated that they lived in an LGBTQ affirming home. In the past year, 48% said that they wanted professional counseling but had not received it, and LGBTQ youth who had been subjected to conversion therapy were more than twice as likely to attempt suicide when compared to those who had not been subjected to the barbaric practice.
   Think about those numbers. I mean really think about them. And here’s another one to consider: of minors who have experienced homelessness, around 40% identify as LGBTQ. These statistics are scary and prove how far society still needs to go in terms of LGBTQ acceptance, understanding, and rights.
   Now, let’s go back to the two bills I mentioned that critics are calling the “Don’t Say Gay” bills. They are dangerous because they place serious limitations on schools’ abilities to discuss and deal with LGBTQ issues. In their current form, they say, “A school district may not encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.” The latter part of this in particular is quite vague and could easily be abused so that older students would likely be affected as well. The result would be teachers being afraid to discuss LGBTQ history and issues which in turn would make LGBTQ students feel even more isolated, marginalized, and confused.
   Another extremely disturbing part of the bills say, “critical decisions affecting a student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being” must be told to the parents. What this essentially means is that unless they can prove doing so would lead to harm (something that would be extremely difficult to do), school faculty would be required to out LGBTQ students to their parents whether the students were ready for this or not. Why is this important you may wonder? Well, go back to the numbers above, in particular the part where only one in three youth say they live in an LGBTQ affirming home. The fact is: many minors have parents who are very prejudiced against the LGBTQ Community, and because of this, many students are more likely to come out to a school counselor or teacher before they are ready to tell their prejudiced parents. If these bills become law, this important outlet for these students will be taken away.
   The cold hard reality is that these bills, if passed into law, would certainly worsen situations for many LGBTQ youth (especially their mental health) as they became more isolated, marginalized, closeted, confused, and frightened. Instead of being able to seek out and receive support when they need it, too many would end up suffering in silence, afraid of anyone discovering their secret. This in turn would worsen quality of life and undoubtedly lead to increased suicide rates.
   So I hope you will join me in spreading the word in opposing these bills as well as other anti-LGBTQ bills being pushed in states around the country because lives are literally at stake

https://www.thetrevorproject.org/survey-2021/?section=Introduction

Much Of The Republican Party Is Heading Down A Dangerous Path

Feb 7, 2022
   A significant amount of the Republican Party is heading down a dangerous, undemocratic, authoritarian style, and potentially violent path that is absolutely threatening American democracy. This may sound like an outrageous statement, but it is still unfortunately true. Quite scary indeed. But we cannot and should not ignore the dangers. Instead, we need to educate ourselves about what is happening and speak out. We should stand up for truth, justice, open-mindedness, kindness, thoughtfulness, fairness, and democracy.
   We have seen over and over how so many Republicans have followed Donald Trump no matter what, even when he is clearly in the wrong. The evidence is overwhelming that the 2020 election was free and fair and that Trump’s claims of widespread fraud are false. Every election will have isolated issues or problems. That is normal in a big election, but there was no widespread fraud here. Ballot counting rooms in every state had Republican, Democrat, and Independent observers monitoring the process and responding to questions that arose. There were also international observers from multiple countries watching things, and every state certified the election, because it was fair. The Trump campaign lost over 60 court cases where it tried to claim widespread fraud, and many of the judges who ruled against it were conservatives. The Trump campaign lost all these cases because it did not have the evidence to back up its outrageous claims. In other words, the 2020 election was free and fair with Biden legitimately winning and Trump legitimately losing. Yet Trump and others have continued spreading their false claims and lies about it, and what is disturbingly frightening is how millions of Americans believe these lies. The spreading of these false claims led to the violent Jan 6 assault on the US Capitol Building by Trump followers. But the danger to American democracy doesn’t end there.
   Donald Trump uses the willingness of millions of Americans to blindly follow him to enhance his power and control over much of the Republican Party in an authoritarian style way. He has many Republicans in elected positions bowing to him, even when a number of them know he is wrong, because they fear he will turn his followers against them and vote them out of office. A scary number of Republicans in elected positions appear willing to undermine democratic values in order to keep their jobs, and another disturbing facet is how some of these officials are true believers. Republicans in numerous states are fighting to pass laws that would make voting much more difficult for millions of Americans. They appear to be doing this to make Trump happy and to increase their chances of defeating Democrats in future elections because it’s no coincidence that these new laws often target people who are more likely to vote for Democrats.
   Recently, we saw how the Republican National Committee (RNC) officially censured Republican Representatives Cheney and Kinzinger just because of their participation in the Congressional Investigation of the violent Jan 6 attack on the Capitol Building. In this censure, they actually referred to the Jan 6 events as “legitimate political discourse.” Think about that for a minute. We all saw the violence of that day as Trump supporters literally assaulted the US Capitol Building. We could see members of Congress fearing for their lives and Capitol police being physically attacked because of lies being spread by Trump and others. The events of that day were not “legitimate political discourse,” yet that is how the RNC referred to it. At the same time, we have seen elected Republicans such as Marjorie Taylor Greene make numerous hateful, false, cruel statements without being censured by the Republican Party.
   Think about this. And these are just a few examples of the dangerous trend many Republicans are going down. 
   This is why we must educate ourselves and speak up. We should stand up for truth, open-mindedness, tolerance, kindness, thoughtfulness, fairness, justice, and democracy. And we have to get out there and vote for individuals who also have the courage to truly stand up and fight for these ideals as well.

Too Many People Get Hurt Because Of Being Seen As Too Different

1-29-22
   People’s fear and/or discomfort of what they don’t understand hurt others far too often. And unfortunately, there are plenty of examples in society today.
   In general, it seems that many people only want to be involved with individuals, organizations, places, ideas, and so on that fit into their comfort zone. This means they tend to just associate with others who are similar to them. It can manifest in many ways, like people only socializing with others who share their views (such as in religion, politics, and interests). Whether they consciously realize it or not, these individuals frequently avoid those whom they see as too different, and this can be detrimental to all concerned in numerous ways.
   For one thing, this tendency can insulate people far too severely so that they often fail to open their minds. As this happens, they don’t adequately consider other ideas and points of view and as a result, usually don’t give such things anywhere close to a fair chance. The consequences of this sort of behavior end up hurting themselves as well as others.
   We can see the effects of this in a plethora of ways. One is in politics. Many people today focus their political discussions and fervor only with others who already agree with them and immediately reject ideas coming from individuals they see as too different. Just because one may disagree with another in numerous ways politically, doesn’t mean the other person doesn’t have some good points or ideas. If both parties would open their minds, they may find some common ground in places and perhaps the potential for compromise. They may also learn from each other and thus broaden their minds even further.
   Another area where the consequences are seen far too often is in the social realm. It is terribly common how so many people only socialize with or date others they see as similar enough (and not too different). The result is that many people get hurt and end up feeling rejected and lonely. This is especially true for individuals whom too much of society don’t understand and end up closing their minds to. For example, many bisexual+ people find dating brutally difficult despite the fact that they can be just as faithful as anyone else. Numerous others (such as individuals who are transgender, genderfluid, genderqueer, nonbinary, asexual, and so on) have terrible challenges in trying to date because of being seen as too different. Most people automatically reject them in a kneejerk type of reaction without even trying to get to know them. The result is that far too many individuals feel isolated and alone. Plus, those who are so quick to reject them may be missing out on what could potentially have been a wonderful relationship.
   These are just a few examples. People in general need to open their minds and cease being so quick to judge. They should stop being so fearful of what they don’t adequately understand and instead, work to educate themselves and broaden their horizons, for doing so would likely make the lives of themselves and others so much better.

Scary Times For American Democracy

Jan 6, 2022
   1 year ago, an angry mob stormed the United States Capitol Building in an effort to stop Congress from performing it’s Constitutional duty of certifying the 2020 election. This was the first time such a terrible event has occurred in the United States history. And what is even more disturbing is how so many people, many of whom are Republicans, are trying to downplay the seriousness of the assault.
   Let’s make one thing perfectly clear: the 2020 presidential election was free and fair. Every single state, including those run by Republicans, certified the election because they found no evidence of widespread fraud. There were Republican, Democrat, and Independent observers in all the ballot counting rooms in all the states during the counting process. There were also international observers from multiple countries monitoring the election. And again, no evidence of widespread fraud was found. There have been numerous recounts and investigations into the election. For example, in Georgia, the official overseeing the election in that state was a Republican. After the Trump campaign made its claims of fraud, Georgia instituted serious investigations which included the Georgia Bureau of Investigation as well as the FBI, and no evidence of widespread fraud was found. The Trump campaign lost over 60 court cases where it was trying to push its claims of fraud, and many of the judges who ruled against Trump were conservatives themselves. The reason they ruled against Trump is because the Trump campaign had no legitimate evidence that would hold up in a court of law.
   Yet despite all this, Trump and many of his associates and followers continue to spread lies about the election claiming widespread fraud which in fact did not exist. There is strong evidence that it was these false claims that instigated the mob of Trump followers to riot and attack the US Capitol Building. And it is beyond disturbing and frankly dangerous the way Trump and many others continue to spread false claims of fraud when no widespread fraud actually occurred. It is undermining American democracy, and that is no exaggeration. Many people are losing faith in the electoral process due to these false claims still being spread. A growing number of Americans are saying they think violence against the government is acceptable. There are also Republicans in numerous states trying to pass laws that would make voting more difficult for millions of Americans, and they seem to be doing this in large part because of the false claims being spread by Trump and their willingness to bow to Trump’s demands. It is also deeply disturbing how many Republicans in Congress are trying to downplay the seriousness of the January 6th events these days. Some are even trying to rewrite what happened.
   This is why it is so vitally important to learn about the details, causes, and ramifications of the Jan 6th Capitol Building attack. We especially need to understand the causes since those are still simmering and festering in society today. Democracy is an amazing thing, but it is also a fragile thing. History has proven this many times.
   So we need to stay vigilant. We must stand for truth (whatever it may be) and democracy.