Oil drilling and seismic activity -just a coincidence?

Posted: September 30th, 2009 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

First and foremost, my thoughts along with millions of others are with the people of Samoa, American Samoa and Indonesia who have been affected by the 2 earthquakes which occurred in the last 12 hours. Hopefully a fast response by international relief agencies will minimize the effects of these tragedies along with the devastation from the recent typhoon in the Philippines.

Current scientific consensus holds that in our solar system, only the Earth is geologically unstable. As far as I know, it is also the only planet where oil is actively being pumped out of the ground in ever increasing quantities from ever increasing depths. Earthquakes occur when opposing plates that make up the Earth’s crust slip as they are squeezed up against each other. The number of seismic incidents is increasing on a year over year basis. Is there an 800 lb gorilla in the room that is being ignored?

I am not a geologist (though I lived with one for 5 years during college) but I have to ask the question; does removing ever increasing amounts of a non-self-replenishing, non-evaporating, non-compressible and viscous fluid located inside, below and between these plates effect the overall tectonic system? I don’t know if the crude oil functions as a lubricant, a shock-absorber or simply a space occupier propping up the Earth’s crust but the engineer inside me has to hypothesize that there must be some systemic consequences to its removal.

It is thoughts like this that can make you nostalgic for a simpler time when all we had to think about were things like melting polar ice caps and a hole in the ozone layer.

An opportunity to be like God.

Posted: September 29th, 2009 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

I have a few thoughts after the culmination of the Jewish New Year and the practice of asking God for forgiveness. In a perfect life, one would be so completely in the moment that all acts and thoughts of ill, greed and other assorted malevolent behaviors would be caught and neutralized before any damage was done. That is certainly something to aspire to, but in the interim honest objective self-reflection and acknowledgment of our thoughts and actions is all that we have. So digging deeply, feeling the empathy and truly asking for forgiveness is a very positive process. But it is only half of our responsibility.

The second part is the absolute necessity for us to forgive. Holding, feeling and reacting to the ills directed at you not only keeps them alive, it nurtures them and allows them to consume you.  One of my favorite Buddhist sayings is “Hatred is like a hot coal, the longer you hold onto it the more intensely you are burned” -I actually want to get that tattooed to the inside of my forearm so I will remember to live it, but that is a post for a different day.

Forgiving is about asking for something, forgiveness is about giving something away. All religions ask of God. Here is an opportunity to be like God, all you have to do is forgive.

Consensual Delusion called "close to profound" on NY Times Blog

Posted: September 25th, 2009 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

Frankly I was amazed to see a post by Tina Kelley on the very excellent NY Times Local blog linking to my August 17 post about my oldest son’s birth and how it changed my perceptions. She gets my vote for the Pulitzer -thanks Tina!!

Should we laugh or cry?

Posted: September 23rd, 2009 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

My sister-in-law (the one from Boston) once called me a right-wing-wacko. The one from Milwaukee just called me a wacko. I have also been called a communist, a fascist as well as a slew of pejoratives that would make George Carlin blush. My point is that no one has ever called me or accused me of being a Move-on fanatic. Regardless, as a self-described fiscal conservative, social progressive and all-around agitator of thought (or thoughtlessness) I felt compelled to pass this video on. Something Terrible is Happening! Will Ferrell & friends

Should we laugh at the surgically shaped satire or cry about the pressing social ills infecting our nation? Perhaps we should try something really radical; rational discourse, unemotional and objective reasoning framed by the goal of leading to the best outcome for the citizens of our nation.

for full disclosure: my wife is a physician as is my brother-in-law, sister-in-law and father-in-law. Numerous other close friends and extended family are also physicians or work in health care related fields. Constructive reform of the system is not going to advance my family or myself economically. But maybe at some point it will help inch our society just a little closer to one of collective compassion. And I can gladly accept that prognosis.

Rethinking winning.

Posted: September 13th, 2009 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

I did not see the Serena Williams / Kim Clijsters match last night but I read about it this morning. While Serena’s behavior seemed inconsistent with her public personae, it served as a catalyst for me to think about competition, not just at the most elite levels but on an everyday basis. And consequently I thought about what it means to win.

Winning today is interpreted as defeating an opponent. It is thought of as a zero sum experience, and in too many cases, winning seems to be all that matters so the ends justifying the means is too readily accepted.

The dictionary definition of winning makes no mention of defeat. It speaks of overcoming adversity, reaching goals and expending great effort. That leads me to believe that winning is internal. The struggle is with ourselves. The real victory is overcoming our deficits, improving as a consequence of our experiences and endeavors and being completely honest with ourselves, not only with regard to our performance but the adherence to our values.  If the effort is sincere, the intention is true and the actions are honorable then you have won. Even if the match goes the other way.

Advice from long ago on a day of remembrance.

Posted: September 11th, 2009 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Many years before September 11, 2001, I was given the most wonderful advice by the most unlikely source. It was simple and to the point: “Do not worry about the evil, just concentrate on doing the good.”  That moment was transformational and still lives with me today.

So when you remember the events of 8 years ago, please take an additional moment and acknowledge all those that have been touched by violence. No matter how large or how small the acts, whether perpetrated en masse or individually and those that are documented but especially those that have been forgotten, please extend empathy.

Despite the current state of the planet, despite our collective history, I know that our legacy is not cruelty, callousness and brutality. It is concern, compassion and forgiveness. Hate begets hate. Violence begets violence. Vengeance begets vengeance. And love begets love. “Do not worry about the evil, just concentrate on doing the good.”

And he spoke…

Posted: September 8th, 2009 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Well the President, our President, spoke to some school kids today. I have not heard any reports of youngsters, lined up like lemmings, walking over to the edge and doing something unthinkable. Perhaps his hypnotic skills are waning, perhaps his subliminal messages were just a bit too subtle. Or perhaps this whole fuss is the most insulting, ridiculous load of b.s. to be offered up in long time.

The guy is our President. He was was elected. There were no hanging chads, electoral college mishaps or Chicago-style rumors of fraud. He is a good guy that inherited a sinking ship, shouldn’t we be helping him bail out the water, patch it up and right the old lady?

His message was one of personal responsibility and individual achievement. Sounds like the kind of values that the Gipper would endorse. Maybe that’s why I voted for both of them.

Facebook'n with Bob Spehalski

Posted: September 6th, 2009 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

I have not spoken to Bob Spehalski since he graduated from college in 1981. Bob is a few years older than me and back then was one of the most responsible, thoughtful and selfless guys you could ever hope to meet. I, on the other hand, was arrogant, selfish and immature. Recently Bob and I became reconnected on Facebook. We had an interesting exchange with regards to health care that I believe warrants being formally memorialized.

It started when several friends posted this message as their status: No one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick. If you agree, please post this as your status for the rest of the day.

I posted it as my status and this is what transpired.

Bob: I’m glad to hear you don’t support ObamaCare

Dan: The only death tribunals that I see are run by the for profit insurance companies. Medicare seems to work efficiently and effectively. And no dies, suffers or goes broke being humane. Now that is settled, don’t get me started on the cost vs. Value of college!

Dan: IMO, as humans we have a collective and individual responsibility to look after each other. Not that gvt or especially big gvt is correct, efficient or most importantly compassionate, it just happens to be in place and with applied activism can be harnessed to help protect those who are not able to protect themselves. The responsibility of a democracy is to protect the rights of the minority while carrying out the will of the majority.

Bob: The United States is not a democracy Dan. If you want to know how the a government run healthcare system treats its people, check out Oregon. If you have a terminal illness and it is too expensive to keep you alive, they send you a letter denying to pay for care, but are compassionate enough to offer at drug to let you go out painlessly. Like you might do to your dog.

Dan: Bob, I understand that the US operates as republic but our country, culture and society are inextricably tied to the philosophies and principles of democracy.

I can not talk to the Oregon point as I simply don’t have the facts. I do know that no one covered by Medicare has been euthanized. I also know that for profit insurance companies are primarily focused on operating health as opposed to patient health.

What I am intrigued about is your strong emotional reaction. I’d like to better understand where you are coming from as a step toward broadening my perspective and engaging in meaningful dialogue.

Bob: Dan, I agree with your original principles, who wouldn’t. But my reaction is coming from my strong opinion that government run healthcare has the very real potential of severely limiting personal freedoms and choices in all areas of our lives. In addition, I think it will ultimately come down to a choice of either rationing healthcare or bankrupting the country. This is pretty much what has happened whenever and wherever it has been tried or currently exists. Maybe Medicare works for the relatively few that are currently on it, but I don’t feel it would be sustainable for all.

Dan: OK, from an economic perspective the health care system is just broken and consequently it costs all of us too much. The insurance companies exist to maximize profit, pitting providers against subscribers. Take a look at the current and immediate past complaints brought against them by the attorney generals in all 50 states.

re: uncovered citizens, they currently get service via charity care at public hospitals, which you pay for indirectly. By incorporating them into a system, care costs will be reduced purely by the nature of how treatment is delivered. Couple that with well care and an economic impact can be made. Add tort reform and enforcement of pharmaceutical cos with regard to marketing and patent abuse and you have a new game.

Of course the moral obligation is still the primary one but there are sound economic advantages.

re: limiting choice, if you have money, you can choose what, when and where. Reform or reconstruction is not going to change that.

From the above you can tell that Bob is still a thoughtful, selfless and really nice guy. He is just earning more money, paying a mortgage, putting kids through college, saving for retirement and concerned about the state of our economy. Bob is responsible and obviously expects a degree of responsibility from our elected leaders. And that is the real issue. Are our elected officials acting responsibly? Are they putting their own personal and partisan issues aside and working for the citizenry? Are they too invested in what is and as a consequence ignoring what can be? Are we, the people, holding them accountable? Unfortunately at this juncture, I think Bob and I both agree that the answers are all no.