Archive | Positive Life Experiences

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Humans are Super-Predators and Anti-Evolution

Posted on 22 September 2015 by Jerry

Predators, other than humans, assist the process of evolution by picking the young, sick, lame or aged as the victims of their predation or the ones they kill. They help the evolution of the strong and healthy by taking victims who are less capable of resisting their attacks. They beneficially cull the bloodlines of all animals. They improve a selection process that favors stronger animals.

Human hunters however, act as an opposing force to evolution. They do not seek to kill the young, sick, lame or aged but rather seek the robust specimens they would be proud to mount on their walls. Using deer as our example, do you see the heads of females or babies on the wall or the adult male ‘five pointers’ or heads with huge antlers? The answer is obvious. These are the successful male deer, those who avoided hunters and represent a strong evolutionary line and influence. These are the deer to preserve not destroy.

Hunters relive old animal instincts. They attack the most able, reliving age-old demonstrations that they are the greatest natural predator. Hunters cloke their behavior in modern rationalizations to confuse the recognition of their true motives.

A new study summarized and published in the August 21, 2015 issue of Science magazine compares the human predator, hunters and fishermen, with the rest of the carnivore predators in the animal kingdom. An article about the results of the study in part states, “We are still the unique super-predator that we evolved to be. Analyzing an extensive database of 2125 exploited wild animal populations, the authors find that humans take up to 14 times as much adult prey biomass as do other predators.”

Many articles defend the need for hunters citing excess animals in a variety of cities across the world. Of course these articles do not list the reasons for too many wild pigs in San Jose, California, too many wild turkeys in Maine or too many deer in Ohio. They also do not address the surplus of Badgers in the U.K., Whitetail deer in Long Island, elephants in South Africa, Red Deer in Scotland or grey wolves in the U.S.

It could be the humans or bureaucrats who control these areas made earlier mistakes that created a surplus of these animals. It could be just a bureaucrat who feels he or she has reached an equilibrium that should allow the raising of more money by selling hunting permits.

These locations and bureaucrats all argue that they permit hunters because the alternative of professional exterminators is too expensive. This does not explain why hunters are unencumbered by limitations on their weapons. Why bow hunting is separately permitted in various jurisdictions? Why heavy weapons with large caliber ammunition is used to give the hunter an inordinate advantage over the defenseless animal.

A professional sharpshooter in explaining how a cull actually works was quoted in an Outdoor Life article published on April 9, 2014. He stated, “It is unfortunate that suppressed firearms aren’t more widely accepted across the country. Luckily, we were able to utilize them during culls, even though New York doesn’t permit their use by the general public. We used .243-caliber rifles built off of Remington and Savage bolt actions…Upon penetration, the rounds quickly broke apart and dumped all of their energy into the animals’ soft tissue…I can’t recall a single instance of pass through, and the devastation the bullets caused was truly amazing, often turning the entire skull to jelly.”

Most of these jurisdictions do not point at the issuance of hunting permits to generate revenue. Many of these jurisdictions seek to hide their motivation in a variety of regulations that are an olive branch to those who would protect these animals. Most areas for example, dictate that if a mature female of a species is taken and would leave a young baby to fend for itself (or die alone) the baby should be killed along with the mother.

Hunting permits issued to human beings are an imbedded feature of most human societies around the world. It probably would take a very long campaign to abolish or put enough peer pressure on the hunting culture of human beings. We should try however. The behavior of these people is archaic and represents one of the worst ongoing offenses of our species. Given the age of the species, we should have outgrown this behavior long ago.

We should once and forever admit that hunting should be abolished except in cultures where it provides necessary sustenance. That everywhere else it is a throwback to behavior that is the worst, most animalistic in our history. We should admit that hunting permits are established all over the world as a revenue-generating tool. We should use all other options even if they are more costly to protect our view of human beings, our behavior, and ourselves. We should make being human a greater calling than just being at the top of the food chain as the world’s greatest predator.

Use the following links to access additional information or see the original documents that generated this article.

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Feral (or Wild) Bees are Dying

Posted on 09 May 2015 by Jerry

There are an estimated 4,000 species of bees in the U.S. (more than 20,000 worldwide).  Domesticated bees, Apis millifera, are the most familiar and most studied but are only one species of bee.  These are highly social bees that live in human-managed, large farmed hives.  Beekeepers move them from one type of crop to another throughout the year.   This domesticated species appears to have a tolerance to pesticides that feral (wild) bees do not.  It does not face extinction.

Feral bees, or the other 3,999 species in the U.S., are dying.  Feral bees are the large majority of bees.  They are often solitary, stingless and ground nesting.  Estimates place the annual value of all bees in the U.S. Economy at between $14,000,000,000 and $20,000,000,000.

This is because they are a key pollinator of hundreds of plants we depend upon.  These include beans, tomatoes, onions, carrots, oilseeds, sunflowers, fruits and plants such as clover that our livestock are dependent upon.  Another way to estimate the value is to recognize that one out of every three bites of food you take has some dependence on bees.

In a recent study described in the April 22, 2015 issue of Nature magazine a scientific team led by Maj Rundlöf established that bumble bees are harmed by seeds coated in neonicotinoid insecticides (insecticides that are chemically close to nicotine).  Their report states, “Here we show that a commonly used insecticide seed coating in a flowering crop can have serious consequences for wild bees.”

The report states further that, “We found that seed coating with Elado, an insecticide containing a combination of the neonicotinoid clothianidin and the non-systemic pyrethroid β-cyfluthrin, applied to oilseed rape seeds (for canola oil), reduced wild bee density, solitary bee nesting, and bumblebee colony growth and reproduction under field conditions.”

These neoincotinoid-based pesticides have been banned in the European Union.  Pesticide producers and the rest of the world need to stop using them as well.  This study, which is highly respected, is a smoking gun that cannot be ignored.

Unfortunately this is only one smoking gun.  Bees are subject to harm from a number of causes.  These include an array of insecticides, parasites, and pathogens.

As another example, a study this year led by Andrew Barron at Macquarie University in Australia found that bee colonies are collapsing because as bees in a colony die due to any number of causes, younger and younger bees start foraging for pollen earlier.  Unfortunately, younger bees die after fewer foraging trips and they collect a smaller amount of pollen.  This is how bees react to such stressors.

Their study shows, “Bee colonies contain a precise balance of bees specialized in the different roles the society needs. If that balance is upset by young bees starting to forage early, sometimes the colony cannot cope.  There is a breakdown in division of labor, and loss of the adult population, leaving only brood, food and few adults in the hive.”

Our bees however, must be saved for the continued health of the human race.  We do not have any way of accomplishing the fertilization the bees provide us.  We therefore must eliminate each cause of bee death as we identify it.  We know that modern life has created a number of threats to our bees.  We must eliminate these threats.

Use the following links to obtain additional information or access the original documents that were the basis of this article.

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Food Should Be Available to All

Posted on 22 August 2014 by Jerry

I wonder if there was sufficient food in the Garden of Eden?  Why is there so much starvation in the United States?  Do we not have plenty of food for everyone?

We may have taken capitalism too far when our poorest citizens are starving.  This leads to big supermarkets avoiding neighborhoods where poor people live because these neighborhoods don’t represent viable business opportunities.  Something is wrong when an elaborate procedure and bureaucracy is set up to take donated food from retail stores, leading to more spoilage, and cart it to a central distribution facility where it is given out.

Having reviewed most of the various non-profit solutions to get surplus food to people that need it, the methods cover the full gamut.  This leads to a belief that we need an organizing principle to guide our efforts.  The most rational organizing principle was used in getting consumers to shop locally avoiding foods that have been sent from a long distance location somewhere around the world.

We should modify this principle to include the following thoughts:

  • We should work to eliminate the middleman between the food and the recipient.
  • We should focus on fruit or other produce that does not require refrigeration.
  • We should give special focus to nutritious foods rather than processed, high calorie junk food with little value to ongoing health.
  • If we have to transport food from its source we should look for the closest location and nearest distribution channel.
  • We need to look for alternate new distribution channels where necessary.
  • We should make minor changes to the responsibilities of existing resources to accomplish increased food distribution.

If we focus on fruit and produce, obviously the easiest distribution is from the fruit tree in the backyard and the residential owner of the property to the front.  In fact, people used to have gardens and plant multiple fruit trees on their property so they would always have fresh fruit and produce.  This was when people did not mind planting and harvesting, which included clean up.

An immediate suggestion would be that these same private fruit trees be repositioned on the property so any passerby can gain access directly to the fruit.  An alternative is that residents be given crates with which to move harvested fruit and surplus produce to the street in front of their house, much as recycling is done today.  This would make the food available to everyone.  These crates should be marked with a sign that says, “To Be Shared with Neighbors” or something similar.

Each city in America, which includes San Francisco, plants thousands of trees each year and takes care of large parks all over the city.  There is little reason beyond tradition that causes a city to select one tree over others or use supervised land for one purpose over another.

The Parks Department could be tasked with planting a variety of fruit trees in public orchards.  At certain times a year, these trees would bear fruit and notices of locations would be circulated.  Parks department employees would be re-tasked with planning these orchards, harvesting the fruit and putting it out for free distribution much as farmers used to do.

While supermarkets make food available for central distribution and do not want to attract an “undesirable” type of person to their locations, their insistence on central distribution increases deterioration of the foods.  This unnecessarily reduces the value of the contribution.

Supermarkets must realize that their customers sort themselves by type of food, location, times of being open, etc.  At the same time there is no part of major cities that do not have the poor or homeless nearby.  This is certainly true for most of San Francisco.

These supermarkets could make surplus foods available only at a few unpopular hours.  This food could be moved into pickup sites on their parking lots with the sites managed by representatives of the food banks that routinely pick the produce up for transport.  By delaying the pickup by a few hours these employees could be re-tasked with distribution before transport.

Again this would protect the freshness of the agricultural products and distribute the produce more widely.  Only the poor would go to the trouble of staying up to these undesirable hours, standing in line and braving their categorization as the urban poor.  It would provide more nutritious food for their consumption and would reduce other expenses, like medical care for malnutrition.

I am amazed however at how few religious organizations directly distribute food to the poor in their surrounding area.  While they each will tell you about the volunteers they send to food banks to pass out Thanksgiving turkeys or the bins they put out for parishioners to donate food they no longer want, they are really sidestepping the issue.  Where is their direct action?  At what door does the line form for those who want food?

These organizations enjoy their non-profit status granted to them by the citizens who pay taxes.  These are the citizens who allow donations to these non-profits to be tax-free.  If we want more of these organizations to distribute surplus food, we can require it as a condition of their non-profit status. This would represent a simple change in the law but it would be very controversial and require a lot of effort.  The religious lobby is very powerful.

Our society needs to restructure its priorities.  We must determine that redistribution of food to help those who need it is a primary objective of those in the grocery business, officials of our local cities and each citizen in their neighborhoods.

This is not a complete listing of steps that can be taken to reduce the intermediaries and simplify processes.  It should show however that concerted effort should be applied to solving the problem of urban hunger.  This is a shared challenge that joint efforts can surmount.  International hunger is another problem that only giving countries can address. This needs to be dealt with in another post.

I am encouraged by entrepreneurs who approach farmers to save fruit and vegetables they would normally toss.  These misshapen products can be sold on a secondary market at a lower price.  I encourage each of you to spend some time brainstorming solutions and to communicate your solutions to your neighbors, retailers in your community and local government.

Use the following links to obtain more information or access the source documents for this article. .  Go to section on Recreation and Open Space.  This covers parks and recreation, land use, etc. .  Use search box at upper right to find “Cost to raise a fruit tree”.   Select the first entry that is this document.

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Helping Them Go Peacefully Into the Night

Posted on 04 March 2014 by Jerry

As the baby boom generation ages with illnesses and depression overtaking them, we need to reevaluate the laws that restrict how they die. There were an estimated 308 million people in the United States in 2010.  There were also over 38,000 suicides or roughly 0.000123% of the population.

The Pew Research Center reports that in 2010 of the over 38,000 suicides, 19,392 were committed with guns.  A Forbes article published in June of 2013 points out that “Suicide is not painless. The lifelong grief and disruptions it causes in other peoples’ lives are unspeakable.  Far too many of us have seen the traumas that suicide wreaks on individual families and communities”.

A 2009 article that was published in The Economist entitled Going gently, stated in part, “In most of the Western world, suicide is not a crime, but helping another to commit it is.  But not all the incapacitated, or terminally ill, or permanently despairing are willing to wait for a natural death, or to take messy and uncertain measures to kill themselves without medical help.”

Switzerland has arguably the most liberal laws covering assisting suicide.  Switzerland only labels assisting suicide as a crime if it is done for gain.  Other countries – Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands – have also adopted legislation that permits some form of assisted suicide.

Four states in the U.S. (Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Vermont) have assisted suicide laws.  In all cases, physicians can at least issue a prescription for or prepare a fatal drug cocktail for terminally ill patients under a variety of limitations.  Fears that these laws would spur a rash of assisted suicides have not materialized.

In Oregon in 2012 there were only 77 deaths from prescription cocktails.  Of interest is that the number of prescriptions written for the fatal drug cocktails was 115 in 2012.  This means that 38 people who were approved for assisted suicide decided against it.

In Washington State, during the three years after its law became effective in March of 2009, only 255 prescriptions for the lethal cocktail were written.   A study showed that even in patients with terminal cancer only 24 of forty chose to use the prescription to end their life.

Quoting once more from the article in The Economist, “It is perfectly possible to frame a law that allows suffering people who are close to death to die quickly and peacefully, if they wish, without declaring open season on old folk.  The suicide-seeker declares he is not being pressured to kill himself; two doctors agree, and testify he is terminally ill and of sound mind.  A waiting period before lethal drugs are dispensed ensures that the desire for death is a settled one.”

All that is needed is that we remove the requirement for a person to be terminally ill and we could pass legislation that takes most of the pain out of suicide.  Obviously this is very controversial.  It would however, provide a humane death, procedurally involve others in the decision to end one’s life and insert time to allow a person to change their mind.  This is an issue that needs to be brought out of the closet and debated in public forums.

Use the following links to gain more information or read the source documents for this article:

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Are We Wasting an Entire Generation?

Posted on 12 December 2013 by Jerry

While this describes the world financial collapse and what is happening to older and younger generations, it echoes this website’s goal of enhancing life experience.  The problems identified adversely affect the quality of most people’s lives.  While it identifies actions the U.S. must take to turn the economy around, the suggestions could apply to the EU and elsewhere.

We need to increase employment opportunities, reduce the cost of quality education and the related burden of debt our youngest have assumed to pay for it.  Failing this, our society will not turn our economy around and it faces the wasting of an entire generation.  We need to save our children from paying their entire lives for our society’s failings.

We got here through a sequence of mistakes.  We relied too much on real estate to serve as our principal nest egg.  We failed to regulate banking, financial, and real estate industries allowing them to take advantage of our desire to grow the value of our nest eggs.  We financed debt we could not afford to pay back and lenders approved loans they shouldn’t.  These and a host of other failures led to the collapse of our worldwide economic system.  The effect in the U.S. was that middle income Americans lost 39% of their wealth from the housing market boom and bust and the stock market collapse.

We did not stop there however.  Because of the individual loss of money in the 2008 downturn, the baby boom generation decided it could not retire and needed to extend its working life.  This was in addition to many of the world’s employers seeking to survive the downturn and falling demand by reducing expenses largely through job eliminations.  It also prompted them to bank and save the easy money they could earn from the Federal Reserve’s reductions of the cost of money.  They received huge benefits from this cheap public money little of which has trickled down to the average person.

Baby boomers are in the way.  This has led to our present situation where rates of youth unemployment are far higher than those of the generations that were expected to retire.  As an example, unemployment rates amongst people who are 55 years and older are at 5.4%, unemployment within people 45 to 55 years old is at 5.9%.  This is while unemployment of young people between the ages of twenty to twenty-four years is at 12.5%.  Breaking this down by ethnic groups and educational attainment we see pockets of much higher unemployment.

Lest we feel alone, the New York Times had a November 16, 2013 article that shows unemployment for the same age group in other developed countries is much higher; for young people 24 and younger unemployment in Spain is 56%, 57% in Greece, 40% in Italy, 37% in Portugal and 28% in Ireland.  “For people 25 to 30, the rates are half to two-thirds as high and rising….According to Eurofound, as many as 14 million young Europeans are out of work and disengaged, costing European Union member states an estimated €153 billion (about $206 billion) a year in welfare benefits and lost production.”

Parents and friends fell back on old truths and advised their children to get more education to insure future employment.  After all, it had worked for them and their parents.

We didn’t pay enough attention when taxpayer funding of public educational institutions was systematically reduced.  In reaction, our public universities began to view themselves as profit-making businesses.  They progressively abandoned their traditional role of providing an affordable first class education for the citizens of the state that financed them.  In order to offset rising salaries and expenses universities started raising tuitions and going after non-resident students from other states or countries that paid significantly higher fees.

Higher education tried to insulate itself from the larger society.  In their world, raising tuition and conducting layoffs of lower paid and middle management people were how they protected the faculty, endowments and top administrators.  They divided their personnel into two groups, people who predated the downturns (and most often had tenure) and new people who were hired later, paid less and offered little to no tenure.

Leadership rationalized this as necessary to protect the universities and maintain the quality of education.  It was however, highly self-serving for the existing leadership and entrenched educators in these institutions.

For example, it is not unusual for college professors and college presidents who predate the downturns to make over a million dollars per year in salaries.  This is also true for other positions at these “non-profit” colleges and universities such as chief investment officers, coaches and vice presidents of various departments and schools.

We find this same exorbitant and rising compensation in other non-profit charities and institutions.  With public higher education setting an example of ever-rising compensation, a business bonanza occurred giving birth to a raft of new charities and for-profit educational businesses.

These charities and businesses grew quickly.  Looking just at for-profit education, PBS reported, “Over the past five years, veterans have spent nearly $30 billion on tuition and related higher education costs, most of it at for-profit schools.” Unfortunately the history of these new organizations is one of making promises they cannot keep.  They have inflated descriptions of services rendered, job placement rates and transferability of classes.  It appears rationalization and avarice knows no bounds.

Based upon what is happening now, retirement of the boomers will not happen.  Educational costs will continue to rise and the pursuit of foreign students who have the ability and willingness to pay for an American education will grow, crowding out seats that were previously given to local, American students.

In addition, there will be little reform of our financial, real estate and banking system.   Non-profit and for-profit educational institutions will continue raising tuitions and increasingly profiting from the massive debt younger generations are taking on.  On the course we are following, society’s ship will not right itself.

So the question is how to turn this situation around.  Measures proposed to maintain the status quo include extending unemployment benefits for longer and longer periods of time until the economy turns around. Other proposals have been for large government expenditures for “shovel ready” reconstruction of our infrastructure.  The thought was they would create jobs and do necessary work.

The problem with these proposed solutions is there is no magic bullet or single step that will address our multi-layered problems.  For this reason, we need a series of steps that break the problems into successive layers to be dealt with.  While what is proposed is counter-intuitive, what follows are actions designed to inject increased spending into the economy, get the baby boom generation out of the way, create jobs and reduce outstanding debt.

First we need to get the baby boom generation to retire and make room and jobs for succeeding generations.  As has happened repeatedly in the private sector, the government should offer early retirement plans giving financial incentives to older citizens to increase rates of retirement.

In addition, there should be tax incentives that encourage businesses to offer early retirements to their older employees in jobs for which they will hire replacements.  This will also require that employers have larger training programs.  They should have incentives to pay for these measures from their large caches of on-hand cash.

At the same time we should reduce the mandatory retirement age and eliminate incentives that encourage people to wait until an older age to retire. Retirement and offering early retirement plans should both be re-defined as patriotic duties much as buying government bonds during the world wars.

In our misguided approach, we hear our legislators want to cut back on payments and increase the age when people can retire with full social security benefits.  This forces people to continue working.  The actions we are taking are heading in the wrong direction. Cutting expense and stranding people does not work.

There are many benefits to the actions this article proposes.  First they inject significant funds into older generations that will offset some of their financial losses and provide additional cash flow.  Boomers in turn will immediately spend this money and put it back into the economy.  They will reduce future expenditures on other safety-net programs softening the impact of greater expenditures.  Finally they get baby boomers out of the way of younger generations and create a large number of openings in the work force.

In terms of how we pay for these expenditures we may have to reduce social security benefits for earlier generations.  While the simplest calculation is to reduce everyone’s benefits under a certain age, we should use a formula that places the greatest burden on those who benefit the most.

In this sense we should start removing social security benefits from our youngest citizens who will benefit the most and longest from the new opportunities.  Their future benefits should be cut the most, if not eliminated, beginning with the youngest and working our way forward until we have extracted the funds for identified offsets of early retirement funding.

We should aggressively regulate the industries that violated the public’s trust leading to the financial collapse.  They should be changed structurally so they cannot threaten everyone’s financial viability ever again.  Banks should be broken up with clear separation between parts that make speculative bets with corporate money and those that have a fiduciary responsibility of protecting customer deposits.  Implementing a tough Dodd-Frank bill is a start.

In addition, we should prosecute financial institutions that gouged younger generations when they made educational loans.  We should prosecute for-profit educational institutions for making the false claims that have brought them many billions of dollars in past years and left a generation of children with educations that would not produce a living wage.  They should be fined on the same or higher level than those of the financial industry.  Funds from imposed fines should be earmarked and used exclusively to retire educational debt.

To reduce the debt of our younger generations and insure the tuitions charged in the future are affordable, we need to look at the very “businesses” that have created the problem.  First we should look to the endowments of these non-profit institutions.  Over the years these endowments have continued to grow as a result of alumni donations that have been tax deductible.  Their tax deductibility means citizens of the United States are consciously paying for a sizable portion of the donations to schools and universities.

For example, heading the list of large endowments according to a 2013 report from the National Association of College and University Business Officers and Commonfund Institute, is Harvard University with over $30 billion dollars, followed by Yale with almost $20 billion dollars, the University of Texas system with over $18 billion and Stanford with over $17 billion dollars.

While the economic downturn had a short-term negative effect on the size of endowments, they have all had a good year in 2013, growing on average at a rate of 11.7%.  Institutions with endowments between $500 million and $1 billion have seen growth on average of 12.7%.  According to this 2013 report from the Commonfund Institute over 70 institutions have endowments greater than $1 billion dollars.  In fact over twice that number have endowments greater than $500 million dollars.

Presently there is no requirement that these institutions by law spend any portion of their endowments. Only public foundations have a requirement to spend 5% of the value of their endowments each year.  Other non-profits such as universities and charities have no such requirement.  This needs to change.  There are two sources of funds we should focus on, past endowment donations and future donations.

We should pass laws forcing universities to disgorge some portion of existing endowment funds and should institute a lower fixed level of deductibility of future donations.  In other words, donations to non-profits should bear a higher rate of taxation to produce more revenue.

This additional money and money from the fines imposed on the various businesses should be redirected to create dedicated monies expressly for reducing the cost of tuitions for American citizens and directed at progressively retiring student educational debt that presently stands at over $1 trillion.

If you are a baby boomer, a millennial, someone who has outstanding student loans, or have lost a significant portion of your savings in the real estate or stock market busts or just someone who wants to see an end to the economic malaise, you should care deeply about these issues.  We need to ignite the imagination of people who can champion these issues.

These may be select friends, other voters, former presidents and/or existing elected members of Congress.  We should each forward the link for this article to people anywhere in the world who we think could help us make a difference.  We should never underestimate the power of a new thought or new way of looking at something.

Use the following links to obtain more information or see source documentation.

Go to, select search and look for December 2009 “Nonprofit Millionaires”. .  Scroll down and select “Bill Tries, Again, to Curb For-Profit Colleges’ Share of GI Cash.

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