Tag Archives: peace

Autumn Leaves – The Politics at Hand


VoterApathy-610x495

Sept 21 WordPress Daily Prompt: Autumn Leaves

Changing colors, dropping temperatures, pumpkin spice lattes: do these mainstays of Fall fill your heart with warmth — or with dread?

I have mentioned that politics do not dominate my landscape per say. But I have to admit, when I read this prompt, I couldn’t help but think of politics and how the mid-term elections are coming up. I have also heard that mid-term elections typically have poor turnouts, which I understand, as I myself have skipped a few over the years.

I have to tell you, I am now making it my business to know who is running and who I am voting for. We have got to start instilling some change in this country, in the way problems/issues/legislative actions are approached and then dispositioned, in the way those who WE elect into office represent us once they are elected, and in the way we are actually represented overall as a whole – a constituency.

This takes a lot of research and a lot of time, but I am dedicated to it. I can’t afford not to – none of us can! Complacency leads to neglect, which leads to contempt – I can promise you, not because I want it to, but because it does.

Regardless of how you vote, and what your ideologies are – you have to ensure you educate yourself and make your voice heard. The “Old Guard” just doesn’t have their hand on the pulse of America, and they certainly aren’t hearing us.

Just something I was thinking about . . . ☮

biggestloser-didntvotenon-voter

Advertisements

What Will Happen to the International Space Station?


iss imageThis photo of the International Space Station was snapped by an STS-133 crew member on the space shuttle Discovery on March 7, 2011. Image Credit: NASA

It’s started. Not quite three years since the last shuttle flew, the Russian government has threatened to pull support from the International Space Station (ISS) in 2020. NASA has hoped that the ISS could operate through 2024, possibly even as far out as 2028 – which extends its original lifespan, which I believe was 15-20 years.

The Russian government has also decided to block the U.S. from using Russian NK-33 and RD-180 rockets to launch U.S. military satellites due to the growing tensions between the two resulting from U.S. sanctions in response to the upset in Ukraine, as well as U.S. plans to deny export licenses for high-technology items to Russia.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has decided to really spice things up by saying the U.S. could use a trampoline to get our astronauts to the station. He also implied the Russian Space Agency may continue to utilize the station alone, as the U.S. segment cannot function without the Russian segment, though the Russian segment can function without the U.S. segment. The thrusters on the Russian segment keep the ISS in orbit and at the proper attitude.

NASA issued a statement saying they have not received any formal word from the Russian government regarding this proposed change in space exploration cooperation. The $100 billion space station is the result of the work and cooperation of 15 nations, predominantly the United States, Russia, Japan, Canada, and Europe.  I am pretty sure we have covered a pretty huge dent in the costs, in one way or another.

This raises so many questions. Why did President Bush decide to cancel the shuttle program before there was another option in place? Why was this aspect (replacement for the shuttle i.e. human spaceflight) so short-sighted in thought and forward planning? Though the space shuttles were becoming outdated, NASA was in the process of upgrading them. Why does our government continue to cut our space exploration legs out from under us by cutting funding?

Why does our government seem to have a problem with strategic long-term planning support in this area? Often NASA makes plans, gets funding, starts work, and then whichever administration is in power loses patience and interest. I would love to see a complete list of all NASA (and other government) programs that were funded, worked on, and then scrapped, and why they were scrapped.

Asking these questions will not change what has happened, but I think examining some of these disconnects might help going forward. Space and politics aren’t really my thing, but even I am smart enough to understand the implications of the U.S. not having a prominent place and role in manned space exploration.

Well at least the Russians aren’t threatening our seats on the Soyuz just yet. And maybe this is just all bluster on Rogozin’s part. There is still a lot of knowledge to be gained from the space station, not counting the amount of money that has been invested. It only seems right to get as much out of it as possible for all parties involved.

What a way for the greatest engineering achievement ever embarked upon and completed successfully to end. What a way for one of the most auspicious global collaborations in cooperation of shared visions to come to a close.

Just something I was thinking about . . .

Is the Giant Panda Sleeping?


Let me start by saying that I have nothing against China or the Chinese people. What I am fixing to talk about is bigger and far more encompassing and quite frankly it’s not about the Chinese people either. It’s about governments and their desire for control and expansion. It’s about the second-largest economy in the world.  It’s about people in general not paying attention to what’s really going on around them – which is hard to do, as there is a lot of noise coming our way these days. Sometimes it’s hard to get a clear channel on anything.

Mainstream media is good at distracting people from what’s really important and needs our attention or consideration, by providing us lots of other crap to focus on. Right now one of those focuses is North Korea, Iran and Syria, as well it should be. But, we better not lose sight of the sleeping giant panda or fire-breathing dragon – however you choose to look at it. I’d be willing to bet there is a legend somewhere that tells the story of how one became the other . . .

Most of us are aware that we , the United States, owe China an immense amount of money — in the ballpark of $1.3 trillion, if my sources are correct. The U.S. government continues to borrow from them.

The Chinese have also been buying a considerable amount of U.S. assets over the past decade, with projections in U.S. investments of $15-20 billion a year over the next decade. They appear to be focusing on acquisitions in energy, financial services, food production, real estate, and manufacturing, as well as entertainment and technology. The Chinese own One Chase Manhattan Plaza and the General Motors building, in New York – both nice commercial real estate coups for sure. They own all the AMC Theaters.

Most of these assets are owned by the Chinese government, under various state-owned entities. China needs energy to fuel their rapidly growing industrial development, and have purchased power assets in Portugal, Brazil and the Philippines. They had an unsuccessful attempt to buy the U.S. oil company Unocal in 2005.

The Chinese government also purchased private equity assets that fund GM pensions, if I understood correctly. I want to do some more research on that, & a few other things. I have so many questions. Though these are my opinions, I do try to thoroughly research topics I am interested in, verifying my info with several sources. Most of this information came from sources like Reuters, Market Watch, LA Times, USA Today, Business Week, and Forbes – encompassing a variety of agendas.

There is concern about China’s foothold in technology and possible breaches in our national security. Some analysts think that it’s in China’s best interest to stay friendly with us, as our markets thrive, so do Chinese investments. But what if their overall strategic goal is to control or even own the U.S. in some unknown manifest destiny design. They have quite an established growing assertive military presence, as well. Regardless of what might happen, I would not want to be at the mercy of a Communist country.

A month or so back I happened across CNN doing a piece on The Guardian’s Predictions for the World in 2014. Predictions shared involving China were:

  • China will eventually be the world’s largest economy.
  • Though Western brands will continue to dominate, China will own them.
  • U.S. will soon celebrate Chinese holidays.
  • Western politicians will clamor for Chinese investors.

I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I find all of this a little disconcerting. I am not a political person, nor do I know much about economics. I realize the world is now a global economy, but maybe the U.S. is a little too open for business? And why do we do so much business with China, in particular? The government does not allow any partnering with them involving NASA, spaceflight, or manned exploration – but then again there is considerable technology involved in those endeavors and International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) come into play.

I will be writing about this again, as I have so many questions that are not answered and concerns I wish to address. I also did not want to make this post to awfully long, as I have lots more data to share. I would love to hear what you think about this, too. Is the giant panda a good business partner or a wolf in sheep’s clothing?

Anyway, just something I’ve been thinking about . . .

locator map of China

** I watched a most interesting program quite a few years back about China – I have been keeping an eye on this development for quite a few years now – their growth, increase in consumption, and interdependency with the United States. In all honesty, it was a bit disconcerting. This link no longer shows the ABC News/Bob Woodruff video, but you can read the accompanying story.

 

Sitting in a cabin in the woods . . .


Sitting in a cabin in the woods . . .

This is where I always thought I would write my first best seller – in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the Ozark Mountains.  This has been a bit of a dream of mine for over 20 years. Now, here I sit, in a strange house not three miles from the home I thought I would write my first novel in. But you know how things go – times passes and many want-a-dos don’t get done.

I have missed these mountains. Tears flowed when I reached the hollow of Ponca – I knew the switchback was close . . . bittersweet tears. Tears of joy that I was lucky enough to come through here again for the first time in years, and tears of sadness that our home in these misty mountains now belongs to someone else. This is a place truly like no other I have ever visited or lived. It holds a piece of my heart and that will never change. I had convinced myself I would live in this area for the rest of my life – just didn’t happen that way.

We were reminded just where we were once we arrived and got settled in. We tried to call home on our cell phones and experienced not having service for the first time (we live in the city now) – no network was found. When I tried to use the phone in our rented cabin  to call collect, the phone wasn’t set up for that so I was unable to make a connection. When I called directory assistance, just like when dialing zero – I got the message, “Call cannot be completed as dialed.” WE were really remote 🙂

Not only was this the first time in years we were able to spend the night in a place we considered to be heaven, no one, and I mean no one,  knew where we were or that we made it safely, with the exception of Ruby Ray and Bobbie.  They had been our neighbors (maybe six miles away) that lived off the blacktop and we had stopped in and visited with them when we got here. No one would ever think to call them. I didn’t write down where we’d be staying and only mentioned it in passing. There was no letter or email confirming our reservation.

For some reason, we found it quite amusing that no one knew where we were or could get a hold of us – this was the first time in years we had disappeared off the face of the earth, or so it seemed. It was also just a bit disconcerting in the event there was an emergency back home. Making our daughter a little worried though, we thought that might be good medicine for her – make her think about her own actions at times and how she has made us worry. Yeah, we are kind of ornery like that sometimes. Regardless, that’s not the way we planned it – it’s just the way it happened.

I could tell it’s been awhile since I have experienced this place and its ruggedness – when we made the turn off the blacktop, I was a little nervous about driving my car in the rocky makeshift road. I had to go back to a time in my mind when I knew, when I didn’t get all freaked out, when I just did it as part of my daily experience. I’m kind of a city girl, but I took to life up here like I was born to live here.

That morning we could hear the balls from the sweetgum trees hitting the tin roof, and the birds and squirrels in the trees, with the occasional elk bugle thrown in just to remind us of exactly where we were fortunate enough to be. And the smell – not really sure how to describe it – fresh, green, woody, smoky, wet all at the same time. In October the colors are amazing, a sight to behold – red, green, orange, gold, brown, and purple. It is absolutely beautiful, and one of the things I miss most about living in this part of the country. I could just sit on the porch all day and look at nothing and everything all at once. There’s a lot to see if you pay attention to the little things.

People say they go to the country for peace and quiet. It’s peaceful for sure, but it’s rarely quiet in the mountains. It’s just a different kind of noise, and often times it is loud. Squirrels chirping, birds, crickets and frogs singing, trees dropping things and creaking, wind whistling (if there is any), and animals moving about. Yet you can still hear the silence within all the noise.

God, I miss this place . . . and I still haven’t finished the novel . . .

Just something I was thinking about today . . .