+' Rolla Peace Newsletter, January 10, 2017

home archives last week feedback

Rolla Peace News

January 10, 2017


Dear Friends:

          In this newsletter is:

3. THE MISFIT MATHEMATICIAN (Tom's column, http://tomsager.org)
          a) From Our Readers
          b) A Desperate And Dying Culture



We vigil for peace in front of the Rolla Post Office THIS THURSDAY, JANUARY 12, 2017, (and all subsequent Thursdays until peace is established) from Noon to 1:00 PM. Please try to join us. The temperature is predicted to be in the 50s. If you do not feel comfortable standing with us in front of the Post Office, please consider driving by and showing your support for our message by honking your horn and flashing a peace sign.


Albert Einstein once said, “We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Jim Tull expands on that concept to point out that we can't solve the problems our global cultural/social systems have created as long as we continue to support and believe in those systems. Our “first world” way of life, which we are still attempting to impose on the rest of the world, only appears to work, and only for those at the top of the heap. That it is not really working at all is evidenced by the accelerated devastation of our planet, more extreme weather events, extinction of species, increasing poverty, famine and war in those places and peoples unlucky enough to be on the bottom.

It should be obvious that the institutions we have created do not work. Getting people to acknowledge it, or even to consider the possibility, is not so easy. Even the most progressive-thinking, ecologically-inclined, spiritually-aware people are invested in these systems in ways that they don't even realize. We've been brainwashed, in a way, to believe that there is no other possible way to live. But we are now faced with the possible extinction of humanity, and we have to find another way if we want our species to survive. As Jim Tull says, “Necessity is the mother of invention — internalize the necessity!”

If we can't fix the world using the tools created by this failing civilization, what can we do? There are some very good ideas in Tull's article, which I hope you will read in full. But I think the most important thing we can do is expressed in a Howard Zinn quote, which I have used before, but bears repeating: “To live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

3. THE MISFIT MATHEMATICIAN (Tom's column, http://tomsager.org)
          a) From Our Readers
          b) A Desperate And Dying Culture


1. Agent Orange: The widow of an agent orange victim writes: Agent orange is still a problem in our family. My son has Aspergers and my girl's hormones are screwed up, another legacy of agent orange!

2. Death Penalty: A reader writes: I don't think it benefits society to execute a criminal. Executing a person ends up costing the state substantially more then a sentence of life in prison. There have been several instances where a death penalty inmate has been proven to be innocent. In my opinion, ALL life is sacred.

3. Free Higher Education: A reader writes:

“There is one thing that worries me about [New York State governor] Cuomo's project: How is it going to be paid for? I don't doubt that there are ways to do it by taking money from other parts of the New York state budget. But I really think that proposals such as this ought to contain information about the financing.

“Liberals have been chastised for years about 'unrealistic, pie-in-the-sky' proposals that sound good but that can't be paid for. There is merit to some of the chastisements. This detracts from the possibility of getting good proposals approved. So I'm in favor of talking about how to fund them at the same time that such proposals are put forth. If that were to happen, I believe the opponents would have a harder time arguing against them.”

My response: I agree, the people have a Right to know how proposals that politicians put forth will be funded. I was unable to find the details on financing Cuomo's proposal to provide free college tuition to low and middle income families in New York State, so let me make two suggestions:

A minuscule cut in the war budget could easily finance free tuition for lower and middle-income students in state-supported institutions of higher learning, not only in New York State; but throughout the nation. I've suggested this before.

How about a tax on all transactions at the New York Stock Exchange? You buy a bar of soap; you pay sales tax. You buy a piece of a corporation, there is no equivalent tax to be paid.

Incidentally, my higher education in state-supported institutions was virtually free. If it was doable 50 years ago, it should be doable now.

Before 1991, when the United States imposed brutal sanctions on Iraq, higher education was free to all Iraqis.

Long ago, I saw a Frank and Ernest cartoon in which the loan officer (Ernest) is telling Frank, “We could loan you money if you wanted to buy Kraft or Nabisco, but not to pay for your groceries.”


As expected the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service has declared 2016 the warmest year on record, beating out 2015 by 0.2C degrees which in turn beat out 2014, the previous warmest year on record . Three years in a row declared the warmest year on record. That is unprecedented!

But, I doubt you will hear much more on climate change from NOAA or NASA. Soon-to-be-anointed Climate-Change-Denier-in-Chief, Donald Trump, has vowed to kill government-funded climate research in the United States; so I guess we are going to have to look to Europe, Asia and elsewhere for this kind of research from now on. That's what's called “Make America Great Again” and truth and science be damned.

Meanwhile, California, coming off a four-year exceptionally severe drought, is experiencing floods of near biblical proportions. Indeed, Nature Bats Last.

Like others, I've been searching for historical parallels to Donald Trump. The best I've come up with is Mr. Kurtz from Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness.

Six weeks ago, I quoted the following passage:
“There was nothing either above or below him, and I knew it. He had kicked himself loose of the earth. Confound the man! he had kicked the very earth to pieces. He was alone, and I before him did not know whether I stood on the ground or floated in the air.”
Now here's a few more lines:
“You should have heard him say, ‘My ivory.’ Oh, yes, I heard him. ‘My Intended, my ivory, my station, my river, my—’ everything belonged to him. It made me hold my breath in expectation of hearing the wilderness burst into a prodigious peal of laughter that would shake the fixed stars in their places. Everything belonged to him—but that was a trifle. The thing was to know what he belonged to, how many powers of darkness claimed him for their own. That was the reflection that made you creepy all over.”
Yes, next time you listen to Donald Trump holding forth, particularly on climate change or fossil fuels, listen to the background noise. See if you can hear Nature “burst into a prodigious peal of laughter.”

And, indeed, why shouldn't she? I suspect she will recover from the depredations of a “desperate and dying culture” quite quickly in geological terms. I used to think recovery time would be measured in millions of years; but that was before I read Bill McGuire's Waking the Giant.

McGuire points out that The Giant is not static. Earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, the movement of tectonic plates — the pot is being stirred constantly, and with global warming it will be stirred all the more vigorously. The artifacts of a “desperate and dying culture” may soon be melted down within the Earth's mantle.

I suspect I was off by a factor of at least ten, maybe an hundred. Recovery may be measured in mere tens of thousands, not millions, of years — a blink of an eye on a geological timescale.

The phrase, “a desperate and dying culture,” comes from Jim Tull's, Positive Thinking in a Dark Age that Helen has written about above. Tull recommends that we, “Practice seeing the world as it is ... Resist writing off absurdities and horrors as normal ... Allow [ourselves] to witness and feel the effects of a desperate and dying culture.” Sage advice!


Rolla Peace News is distributed by email once a week on Tuesday evenings (except on rare occasions) and is posted on the web at http://tomsager.org (click on Grassroots Rolla: top of rightmost column).

If you don't wish to get notices of peace events in the Rolla area, let me know and I'll take you off this list.

If you want to be added to this list, let me know.

Wage peace,

helenm (at) fidnet.com