Guest Blogger: My Late Father, George

 

On this day, 29 years ago, my father died at dawn. For 37 years, he had been the consummate educator… delivering his Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Mathematics lectures to two generations of teenage students residing in Minnesota and Michigan.

As a sophomore and junior I had answered, “Here” during each of Dad’s Monday – Friday morning role calls… as a senior I had been his lab assistant. Of course, I had also benefited from his home schooling, which encompassed life’s lessons.

As most of us know, historically, public school teachers have been underpaid and under-appreciated. So, to supplement his meager income, Dad expanded his lecture circuit… his byline appearing beneath our weekly, local newspaper’s front page column: “The Science Corner”.

Had Dad been born a bit later and lived longer than his 75 years, I’m positive he’d now be an enthusiastic blogger… perhaps even setting up his “lectern” right here @WordPress. I know he’d be thrilled by the prospects of his wisdom and wit spreading outward… at the speed of light… to all four corners of the Earth.

Keeping all the above in mind and with my saved and cherished, time-yellowed, brittle, actual hard copy newspaper propped up before me, I’ve decided to transcribe one of Dad’s lectures. And since 23 of my 46 chromosomes are my father’s… in a sense… 5 of my 10 fingers are his as I… no strike that… as we both… type it out.

I cannot think of a more fitting way to honor my father this day… than to afford him a bit of Internet immortality… resurrect his thoughts… restore his “voice”…  allow him to mind-meld with countless other minds, anew.

 

The Science Corner

DATELINE Thursday, July 2, 1953

 

The age old question – which was first, the chicken or the egg – has been used as a debate-ender, a counter dilemma, and even as a joke. If one discounts the dissertations of the debaters and philosophers and the quips of the comedians and truly strives for a scientific answer, then both the meaning and answer become crystal clear.

All living things, both plants and animals, are made up of tiny bits of protoplasm (living matter which looks very much like raw eggwhite). These bits of protoplasm are called cells. In animals, including the chicken, there are skin cells, muscle cells, bone cells, sperm cells and egg cells – to name just a few. All of the types of cells mentioned above except sperm and egg cells are ordinary body cells and are called somatic cells. The sperm and egg cells (collectively called germ cells) differ from the somatic cells in that the former are used to perpetuate life.

When a sperm cell unites with an egg cell, fertilization takes place. All cells, including new somatic cells and new sperm or egg cells, originate from the fertilized egg cell through processes of division and differentiation. In keeping with these principles, both the new chicken (somatic cells) and all of the eggs (germ cells) that the new chicken will ever lay come from the same egg. To put it still another way, the fertilized egg produces both the body cells which will make up the new chicken and all of the new eggs which the new chicken will lay during its lifetime.

The answer, then, to the original question is: the egg must have been first, because it came necessarily from the previous egg and not from the new chicken.

This concept, first enunciated by the German biologist – August Weismann, is known as the continuity of germplasm theory. According to this concept, the germ cells are immortal if reproduction takes place.

Next Week: Why Does Smoke Rise in a Chimney?

 

 

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Irritants Get Under Humanity’s Skin

 

Three summers ago, upon repeatedly donning the gardener’s equivalent of a Hazmat Suit, I sweltered through the entire season eradicating the poison ivy / sumac / oak, which had been thriving all along my backyard, chain-link fence. FYI, at times, some of these plants had attained the height and trunk width of small trees. I suspect perching birds had been culpable for originally sowing the seeds of my discontent.

My game plan also included the prevention of regrowth and new implantation, respectively, requiring my thoroughly digging up the complex, extensive root systems and carefully containing the (literal) thousands of seeds that were all ready and raring to rain down upon the fertile soil.

Had I not acted when I did, these plants could’ve easily overtaken (overthrown) my entire little corner of the world.

In the years leading up to this reclamation project, I’d have rated myself as a grade-F groundskeeper. I had excessively exploited that old motto, “leaves of three let it be” as my poor excuse for not dealing decisively and expeditiously with the problem at hand. Had I done so, early on, when everything had been at a far more manageable stage, I could’ve quickly nipped the entire problem in the bud.

SIDEBAR: My reluctance stemmed out of fear, as well. You see, decades earlier I had suffered from a (figurative and literal) brush with such plants… resulting in a severe case of contact dermatitis, which required extensive recuperation time.

But, I am happy to report my yard work, report card’s GPA has improved, dramatically, since. Phrases like, “learn from your mistakes” and “live and learn” do sum up the transformation to my new proactive attitude.

So why bring up my true, garden-variety tale?

Because this story serves well as a metaphor.

You see, the nasty seeds of poison ivy, sumac and oak are akin to the ugly seeds of intolerance… those that grow and branch off into a multitude of deplorable directions… e.g., discrimination based on ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, infirmity, disability, religious beliefs and economic class.

Once planted in society, these deeply rooted, reprehensible, mind-warping ideas grow, and become intertwining vines. Their poisonous effects get under the skin to irritate unfortunate individuals… and, eventually… spread to asphyxiate an entire nation’s sense of equality, freedom and happiness.

Dealing proactively and positively to end discrimination, however it manifests itself, requires an expert groundskeeper… and most assuredly, the current, un-american [sic], so-called prez does not possess such qualities.

Worse yet… while I was able to mend my errant ways… it would appear he cannot. In fact, it’s doubtful that he’s even aware he’s nearly always wrong about nearly everything.

Each time that grade-F groundskeeper hesitates to expeditiously and unequivocally nip societal irritants in the bud… be that out of neglect… be that out of his fear of reprisal (e.g., from mental vegetable Nazis and Klansmen)… be that out of his opportunistic desire to save his own political skin… the result is the same.

The longer such “vegetation” is allowed grow the more it thrives, threatens and proliferates… the more the chances grow that a scum of the earth entity will rise up to overthrow the entire world.

And were such a story to ever hit our world history books, it certainly would be no garden-variety tale!

 

 

Rush’s Hot Air Rushes Don’t Ease Global Warming

 

Just in case there might be one or two of you, out there, who may not have heard (or heard of) that archconservative, broadcasting blowhole, Rush Limbaugh, here’s the skinny…

Limbaugh is a pathetic, stick figure quasi-human being… a deplorable, unconscionable, unprofessional phone-in, talk show host… no strike that… parasite. He’s a professional media whore who shills for / sucks up to each and every one of his kindred spirits… i.e., the ghoulish, gluttonous, Orwellian corporate “johns” who pay him, handsomely, to (figuratively?) drop his soiled, bunched up / loaded up drawers.

These “johns” will stop at nothing to grant that self-aggrandizing, propagandizing warper of public opinion ceaseless, limitless, national level, media exposure… allow him to fully expose himself… i.e., to indecently expose mindboggling levels of his ignorance.

To that end, Limbaugh routinely takes to the airwaves to incessantly bleat out his unintelligible, screeching, grunting, oinking noises. In a nutshell… that nut rails out against common sense… spits, claws and fights, tooth and nail, against mental health… especially his own.

More to the point, as of late, he’s been throwing around his considerable rhetorical and actual weight while… pulling out from his ass… his fiercely biased and uniquely ignorant notions about hurricanes and climate change.

In the wake of hurricane Harvey and while hurricane Irma is presently raging away in the Caribbean… check out how the climate change denying, know nothing, know-it-all Limbaugh recently raged on…

“Here comes a hurricane, local media goes on the air, ‘Big hurricane coming, oh, my God! Make sure you got batteries. Make sure you got water. It could be the worst ever. Have you seen the size of this baby? It’s already a Cat 5. Oh, my God, oh, my God, it’s bigger than the island of Haiti. Oh, my God.’ People run to the stores, they stock up everything, and they hoard. And they end up with vacant stores, nothing there. And it’s a big success. TV stations got eyeballs, the advertising businesses have sold out of business, gotta restock and the cycle repeats.”

“You can accomplish a lot just by creating fear and panic. You don’t need a hurricane to hit anywhere. All you need is to create the fear and panic accompanied by talk that climate change is causing hurricanes to become more frequent and bigger and more dangerous, and you create the panic, and it’s mission accomplished, agenda advanced.”

So there you have it… in one breath… Rush (likely intentionally) further fuels the already existing public panic. He lambastes the media, meteorologists and climate change scientists as if what? Any attempts at protecting the public and saving lives is a bad thing? As if what? He believes such reports muscle in on his absolute blackout of information? OMG, must his monopolization of the media be inclusive of no weather warnings, too?

Would it surprise anyone if… with his very next breath… while airing / airing out his rank sponsor’s commercials… we’d find the off microphone, giddy, greedy, opportunistic Limbaugh placing an on the QT phone call to his Wall Street broker… bleating buy orders for mega-shares of Eveready™, Duracell™, Evian™, Figi™, Perrier™, etc.? You know… for the express purpose of fattening up his already obese portfolio.

Stunningly, Limbaugh actually did make one spot-on comment…

“I wish that not everything that involved news had become corrupted and politicized, but it just has.”

What a pity that, all the while he’s been tirelessly working towards the wholesale detriment / destruction of our global society, Rush Limbaugh has been oblivious to the fact that it’s HE, who has been corrupting and politicizing damned nearly everything!

 

A Lack of En-LIGHT-en-ment?

As much as I loathe politicizing what, inarguably, is Ma Nature’s most magnificent display (yesterday’s solar eclipse over the North American continent) that astronomical event did present the perfect opportunity for us to armchair psychoanalyze an un-american [sic] so-called prez.

As seen in the above YouTube clip, little Donny stared directly at the sun… a YUGE [sic] NO-NO!

The one word question: WHY?

The three word answer: Ignorance… Arrogance… Defiance

To shed more light on that…

Ignorance: As is the case with too many of #45’s closed-minded, corrupt colleagues and cronies, he’s a know-nothing know-it-all. Such backwardness likely backdates to his salad days… when he was vegging out / sacking out in school classrooms… where… when he did open his eyes… he probably, openly, obstinately confronted each teacher with his Oh Yeah? You cannot possibly teach me anything ‘tude!

These days, there’s ample proof of his empty head. He incessantly screeches and rails out against time honored, basic scientific / medical principles… deems any factual media coverage of these disciplines to be “fake news.” A few examples…

There’s a direct correlation between usage of birth control and reducing the demand for abortion… mental illness and gun ownership make for a dangerous, deadly mix… global warming is manmade and, left unchecked, will eventually devastate Earth / render humankind’s home world uninhabitable. He cannot even grasp the obvious dangers of nuclear WMD. I kid you not… he actually had to ask, “If we have nuclear weapons why can’t we use them?” And, in keeping with my main blog topic… yesterday only confirms he doesn’t believe that staring at a solar eclipse can irreparably damage human eyes.

Arrogance: Stated quite simply, delusional #45 fancies himself as some sort of “god” and, as such, feels there are absolutely NO rules, which could ever, possibly, apply to him. He’ll flip off all theological commandments, economic safeguards and best practices, constitutional checks and balances and natural laws (inclusive of the fact that staring at a solar eclipse can irreparably damage human eyes).

Defiance: Probably the YUGEST [sic] reason #45 stared at yesterday’s eclipse was because SOMEONE HAD THE AUDACITY TO TELL HIM NOT TO… had forewarned him that staring at a solar eclipse can irreparably damage human eyes.

Now, in spite of the disagreements, we, the people of good conscience, have with #45 (and there are many)… despite his misogynistic, xenophobic, homophobic, religiously intolerant and avaricious attitudes, which make it damned near impossible for decent folks to “warm up” to him… believe it or not… we can still be compassionate. We must hope that, yesterday, #45 didn’t do significant damage to his eyes.

After all, long before yesterday’s solar spectacle, he already had considerable trouble seeing humanity and our world clearly. Indeed, his vision for America’s / the world’s future has been myopic. And far worse, his admin has been akin to an autocracy, which by its very nature, severely lacks the level of optimism, decency and transparency, which only sunshine can provide.

No doubt about it… #45 needs to stick his Dark Ages dictatorship where the sun don’t [sic] shine!

 

 

The Hot Tub: A Microcosm Of Planet Earth

 

When it comes down to the new DC régime’s pecking order, Mike Pence is Number 2.

Shortly after his boss had withdrawn America from the Paris Agreement, Mr. P publicly commented on issues of the environment. And one almost felt sorry for the li’l guy because he seemed to be genuinely mystified when he said…

“For some reason or another, this issue of climate change has emerged as a paramount issue for the left in this country and around the world. It’s long been a goal of the liberal left in this country to advance a climate change agenda.”

Now Mr. P, there really is a reason and it is… or should be… nonpartisan. But let’s ease into this slowly. We lefties do realize that righties feel flummoxed by science. Nonetheless, you guys simply need to open up your minds… maybe just a tad? Meet us at least half way? OK?

Perhaps you’d gain a better understanding were this environmental stuff to hit home a bit more? And here’s where being a wallowing in wealth type of guy could actually come in handy. I mean, somewhere within your posh mansion, we would find a family sized hot tub, right?

Now let’s say you’ve worked up a profuse sweat from gutting government of all ethics and laying waste to our economy and ecology. Come the weekend would you not want to kick back and relax… to take a dip into all that warm bubbling water?

Perhaps, from time to time, even your wife Karen and your three kids, Audrey, Charlotte and Michael Jr. all hop in to join you?

Now let’s say on one particular weekend, you suddenly come down with a really nasty case of diarrhea… and by that I mean you’re, literally, unable to contain yourself. Under those circumstances, would you hop into the hot tub anyway? Expect your family to smile, say nothing and even remain soaking in the no longer clean water with you?

Of course not! You’re too refined to expect that, right?

Don’t you get it, Mr. P.? In this make-believe scenario, your hot tub is a microcosm of our climate change, warmed up planet… the fouled water analogous to our contaminated seven seas. You represent all of the world’s polluters who your admin enables… your family is akin to the family of man… all seven plus billion of us.

The obvious difference, here, is your spouse and offspring can easily make their escape.

However… on the grander scale, where in our vast universe would seven+ billion people run to?

Mr. P, are you beginning to see the big picture, now?

Decent, considerate folks… and yes you’re right… we’re mostly on the left… do understand that planet Earth is the only home we have. If we render our world utterly uninhabitable… shoot (oo = i) all over the place, as it were… there’s no other known, nearby, earthlike planet, within our vast universe, where humankind can seek refuge.

 

 

My 2 Cents’ Worth… Does Size Really Matter?

In matters of human anatomy, generalizing about size can be fraught with conundrums. After all… as any open-minded person would concur… it is far, Far, FAR too easy to jump to conclusions… especially when it comes down to the one, particular, peculiar, political organism in question.

Scientific study oft is the best way to corroborate or debunk theoretical postulates… but these days… especially since America’s most recent Inauguration Day… charges against science have been hastily and summarily trumped up.

Indeed, it would appear that the new executive (dis)order would DICTATE that we must all mindlessly fall in line with him to agree, “Science is bad” — NOTE: no punctuation here… please read onward for further explanation and instructions.

I leave this up to you… your three choices are…

“.” – “!” – “?”

If the majority of folks fail to insert the question mark, that’d mean too many of them are mindlessly marching in lockstep with the anti-science movement. And under those strict, undereducated, 6,000-year-old flat Earth at the center of the universe conditions, it’d be high time to hang up my white lab coat and leave my following theory hanging and dangling… i.e., untested / unchallenged.

That’d mean that wild(?) speculation would force us to conclude that re that particular, peculiar political entity…

Small handedness is directly proportional to a small mind.

That’s my two cents’ worth… two pennies for your thoughts?

Super Moon Toons (Super Special Blogcast)

Just in time for the Super Moon (11-14-2016), I’m Blogcasting five Moon Toons, which will help set the proper mood for this amazing astronomical event… one where Earth’s satellite, in it’s full phase, will be at it’s closest perigee since 1948 and appear 15 – 16% larger and far brighter than we’re accustomed to seeing.

Oh, btw… the Moon is looking mighty impressive even as I post this tonight… one night early.

Throughout the ages, gazing at the Moon has inspired a universally experienced air of mystery, awe, romance, passion, and love… these feelings eventually and inevitably becoming interwoven into our world’s music. When a song’s focus turns skyward, our primal, natural yearnings are roused, instinctively drawing each listener’s attention to matters celestial.

And if the moon watcher is also a composer of music, a synergy develops with other watcher-songwriters. Consequently, there’s a vast body of Moon Toons for us to choose from and enjoy. There’s also a diversity of song tempos, instrument arrangements and musical genres, which could almost be compared to the phase like moods set by the Moon… first quarter, full, last quarter, new and earthshine… from the narrowest sliver to the Super Moon… and everything in between.

While these special musical segues, presented below, can be enjoyed at any time of day, for the optimal effect, synchronize the playback with the spectacular Super Moon. At that time, be sure to shut down all artificial lighting and once you’ve clicked the play button on the first video, traipse on over to your window, fling those curtains wide open and watch this cosmic event lazily arcing across the sky.

Once you’ve tracked through all five songs, it’ll be time to head for the great outdoors… and the farther away you get from the hustle and bustle of civilization, the better. If there’s a significant other in your life, invite that person to join you.

Once you’re one with nature, the hush of the night will form its own subtle “music”… perhaps a gentle, steady breeze whooshing through pine needles or rustling whatever leaves may still be on the trees… maybe a nearby babbling brook will add a bit more ambiance, too. At that point, that ol’ devil moon will draw your gaze upward and you’ll feel your terrestrial concerns ebbing as you soar to commune with the vast cosmos.

Who knows, the sparks of new love may be in the air? Or perhaps latent feelings will be rekindled? Might single folks even wind up experiencing an unexpected meeting with their soul mate, while both are wandering about beneath the night sky? Whatever transpires under the Milky Way… under the Super Moon… you’re bound to feel a timeless bond with the rest of humanity… one that has always been there for the taking… for those attuned, caring souls, who know how and where it’s found.

Howling is cool, but not mandatory.

 

Van Morrison ~ Moondance

Sting ~ Moon Over Bourbon Street

Cassandra Wilson ~ Harvest Moon

Norah Jones ~ Shoot The Moon

Bap Kennedy ~ Moonlight Kiss

 

 

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