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Normal It Ain’t

Gadfly | March 8th, 2021

By Ed Raymond

08 March 2021

Dennis: “Why Did Jesus Turn Water Into Wine When He Could Have Changed It Into Chocolate Milk?”

As I listened to our resident Mara-Loco psychopath Donald Trump address his cult at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) emphasizing his “America First” white supremacist program and ranting about immigrants, I thought of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s poem about America and his second stanza written about a half-century ago:

“The world is a beautiful place to be born into if you don’t mind happiness not always being so much fun.

If you don’t mind a touch of hell now and then just when everything is fine because even in heaven they don’t sing all the time.

The world is a beautiful place to be born into if you don’t mind some people dying all the time or may be only starving some of the time which isn’t half so bad if it isn’t you.”

So here was the great prevaricator talking about immigrants, referring to them as brown “coyotes,” “vicious evil smugglers,” “MS-13 killers,” “rapists,” “pathetic Mexican judges,” and “illegal aliens,” which Democrats would turn into citizens through “mass amnesty” and “chain migration” rules just to get their vote.

On the same day I read an article in The Wall Street Journal about our February 18 landing of a robot rover called Perseverance on Mars 134 million mile away. The chief engineer on the NASA project has been working for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for 14 years and worked on the first rover called Curiosity that landed on Mars in 2007. Vandi Verma is the chief engineer for the latest rover project, and supervised “everything to do with the mobility of the machine.”

This rover has unique driving and navigation equipment on board, has a robotic arm that can dig up and gather rock and ore samples, and store them for another rocket that will pick them up and bring them back to earth ten years from now. Perseverance also has a small drone-helicopter that will fly over the Mars terrain to aid in navigation, mapping, and experiments. This will be the first attempt to have an aircraft fly on another planet.

Verma came from India with a BA in engineering and earned a doctorate in engineering from Carnegie Mellon while interning at NASA. Verma was raised on an Indian airbase where the father flew Russian MIG jet fighters. Verma specialized in robotics for the doctorate and continued to work at JPL where the website proclaims: “Humanity’s leading center for exploring where humans cannot reach.” Verma worked on the Curiosity rover as it was being built and later drove it from earth for five years as it “roved” the planet. She will also be driving Perseverance as long as it functions on Mars. She is the world’s most experienced rover engineer and driver.

Perhaps you have noticed I have finally called Vandi Verma a “she.” Were you surprised? After all, she is a brown Indian from a possible “s---thole” country. In the control room at JPL at the landing with Ms. Verma were other NASA professionals who were immigrants from Greece, Russia, India, Costa Rica, Cambodia, Mexico, Argentina, France, Italy, Great Britain, and Columbia. They all made Perseverance possible.

Is Some Kind of Religion Necessary to Keep Humans on the Path to Morality?

The fact that 80% of white evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump should tell me that almost all of the CPAC crowd giving him standing ovations would consider themselves Christians.

My question is, how many gospels of Jesus Christ are ‘translated” to be the gospels of Donald Trump? Can one remain a Christian and still remain a member of the Trump cult? Some say we can only have morality if we have religion. Some Christians insist that only practicing Christians can go to heaven; that all members of the other six major religions, regardless of their morality, will go to hell. There are many articles that proclaim we “need a moral awakening.” Who will lead it?

A professor of philosophy has constructed a useful philosophy that the top animals have to be responsible to maintain morality on earth. He uses an unusual comparison. Squirrels have been around in their present form for at least 36 million years because fossils have been discovered that old. Homo Sapiens escaped the controls of chimps, gorillas, and bonobos only 300,000 years ago and established ourselves as philosopher-kings controlling everything on the planet.

But the professor says “wait a minute.” Squirrels and humans are quite similar. We both have two arms, two legs, two eyes, two ears, two tails, we scurry around on the ground, climb trees, speak a language, eat and store nuts for the winter, and can even jump from limb to limb if challenged (Me Tarzan, You Jane!). In comparison, squirrels are the best athletes on our planet.

Our lake lot had at least a dozen old oak trees that produced bushels of acorns every other year. Squirrels were a joy to watch, high-jumping from branch to branch and tree to tree, and dashing on the ground to the safety of the trees while being chased by our dogs. Over the years I have watched squirrels escape death thousands of times while seemingly teasing our dogs. One morning I found a dead squirrel on our steps dumped there by our two dogs. It was a bragging act, saying: “We finally did it!” I still think that squirrel died of old age and fell out of a tree.

The professor was saying we can learn a lot about morality from watching animals “lesser” than us as well as learning morality from other humans—and perhaps even a god or two. Hank Ketcham in his Dennis the Menace comic has Dennis ask his parents the question “Why did Jesus turn water into wine when he could have changed it to chocolate milk?” After listening to the minister’s sermon in church. We can learn a lot about morality from the question. Perhaps the point of human life is to restrain and constrain our desires.

Elephants have been filmed grieving the death of one in the herd, sometimes staying up to five days by the carcass. They form long-lasting relationships over years, demonstrate many learning abilities, display both short-term and long-term memories, and use olfactory capabilities to discover food and water.

Where Did the World’s Billionaires Acquire the Immorality of Hoarding Money?

Forbes has figured the world’s billionaires are now worth $11 trillion, while, at last count, America has 664 billionaires with a combined net worth of $4.2 trillion. American billionaires have made $1.3 trillion since COVID-19 started to decimate the elderly, poor, middle class, and those Trumplicans who refused to wear masks and distance themselves. 520,000 are dead.

While the superrich squirrel away their money in numerous tax havens, family trusts, and expensive real estate, we have 40 million families in danger of eviction or foreclosure, 25 million who don’t have enough food to eat, over 10% real unemployment, tens of millions without health insurance, and 34 million Americans live on or below the poverty line. Meantime, a billionaire pays Fernando Tatis $24.3 million a year to play shortstop for the San Diego Padres!

In the last eleven months Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has added an obscene $76.3 billion to his acorn nest; Tesla’s Elon Musk has added an obscene $158 billion to his. Both seem more interested in Mars than in planet Earth where they live with 6.7 billion other Homo Sapiens.

Musk is spending billions on his side business SpaceX so it can land humans on Mars by 2026. He is charging three other billionaire thrill-seekers $55 million each for a trip to the International Space Station.

Bezos and his company Blue Origin is spending many billions on creating space colonies that will carry over a million humans each out there in space somewhere.

Neither seems to be listening to the gospel of Jesus Christ, who has over 2,000 entries in the Bible about taking care of the poor and indigent first. Are they both listening to the gospel of Donald Trump whose only interest is collecting all the acorns on Earth? Maybe they are listening to the gospel of squirrels that are well-known for their hoggish attitude about acorns.

Squirrels are known as “scatter hoarders.” They “own” dozens of acorn caches within several acres where they have hidden thousands of acorns to eat in the winter. They not only store them in trees, they bury thousands in the earth. They also often crack the acorn so it won’t germinate underground.

They are also known for “faking” the burial. If they think another squirrel is watching, they will pretend to drop the acorn in a hole and then fake covering it up. Observers call this “deceptive caching.” In a good acorn year a squirrel will hide up to three times what they will ever eat. I have often found their hiding places while chain-sawing a downed tree.

It seems many of our billionaires follow the same procedures with their “acorns.”

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, has added $41 billion to his nest of acorns during the pandemic, but it has turned into a stinking cesspool of lies in a short time.

Why Don’t We Try to Find Clean Water on Earth Instead of Mars?

In the last couple of decades we have spent billions trying to find water on Mars. It’s time we spent billions to find clean drinking water on Earth. Every state has problems finding clean water for its citizens at a reasonable cost, but California with 40 million residents, with the largest body of water in the world to the west and snow-covered mountains to the east, is in a water crisis. Over 13 million residents live below the poverty level in one of the richest states in the union in the richest country in the world. One in eight households owe money to water providers. The average water debt of 1.6 million households is $500, but 155,000 households owe an average of $1,000.

Most of these households are in Black and Latin neighborhoods. In 2019 over 500,000 households had their water turned off. The figures for 2020 are not available because there is a moratorium on turnoffs because of COVID-19.

Jonathan Nelson, the policy director for the California Community Water Center, put it bluntly: “These shocking and sobering statistics contain a simple message: if we do not act, California will soon experience a drinking water catastrophe of devastating proportions. The painful truth is the very same communities already hit the hardest by the pandemic will also face the worst of the water shutoffs crisis. Access to safe and dependable water is more than a public health threat. It is a matter of basic racial justice.” The snowpacks are shrinking because of climate change, and more than a million residents are exposed to unsafe drinking water.

Maybe Bezos and Musk should spend a few of their Mars acorns on finding clean water in their own country.



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