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Archive for May, 2008

I’ve been waiting for this day since warm(er) weather arrived in Minneapolis a few weeks ago.

This morning at dawn the skies were cloudy and the air a bit heavy with humidity. I ran my normal 5.5 mile route and needed a lot of water to replenish my system at the end of the run. The thickness of the air has only gotten heavier throughout the day and the skies finally opened up at 5:15 p.m.

At this moment, the skies a menacing purply dark, tornado sirens are screaming their warning, and sheets of rain are blasting clean the salt-stained driveways, sidewalks and streets throughout the ‘hood. It’s a cleansing rain. It’s overdue.

The storm system is moving fast through the Twin Cities, over the MIssissippi, into Wisconsin and to points east. Weather casters are having a field day prognosticating about the path of the storm, the potential for tornados and hail and high winds.

But before the sun sets this evening, my guess is the skies will be clear and blue again, ushering in a Memorial Day we can all enjoy.

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It’s official. The U.S. Secretary of the Interior has placed the polar bear on the list of threatened species list under the Endangered Species Act. Apparently, global warming (as previously discovered by Al Gore) has created a massive loss of sea ice, which has and will continue to threaten current polar bear habitat.  This loss of habitat puts polar bears at risk of becoming endangered in the foreseeable future. Research shows sea ice has been on a steady decline since 1979 based on satellite imagery. Last year, Arctic sea ice fell to the lowest level ever recorded by satellite, 39 percent below the long-term average from 1979 to 2000.

So what can we do to save polar bear habitat?  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife organization suggests the following:

  • Enact legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. Reduce personal energy use and ask for legislative action on global warming at the federal, state and local levels. Enact policies that reduce U.S. global warming pollution 2% per year, leading to about an 80% reduction by mid-century.
  • Protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on the Arctic coastal plain from becoming an oil field used to satiate America’s demand for oil and gas. The Refuge has a concentration of on-shore denning used by polar bears.
  • Take the Good Neighbor pledge today! Do your part to help reduce global warming and help cool the planet one home at a time.

Alternatively, we could air lift in food to the polar bears, providing them with adequate meals to carry them through their hunting seasons. We do airlifts for all other parts of the world that are starving, why not the Arctic living polar bears?

In related news, Coca Cola has determined it will replace the polar bear with a new mascot, the common house cat, as these mammals are so plentiful they’ll never become threatened or endangered.  Smart move Coke!

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Back in 1965, the year I was born, a computer geek named Gordon Moore predicted a trend that soon became fact. He said then (and remember, this was more than 40 years ago) that the information and processing speed of computer chips would double approximately every two years. This prognosticator and co-founder of Intel was dead on with his forecast.

But Moore’s law wasn’t just a description of what would likely happen. It served more as an edict to Intel’s scientists to go out, do the right thing and make it happen. Not far removed from my Day 4 of 30 Days post about finding a cure for cancer.

In what other ways can Moore’s Law play a role in our day-to-day lives? In about the time it takes to inhale and exhale four times, I can think of several: Relationships. Finances. Career decisions. Personal health.

The principle applies if we just simply take a moment to look at where we’ve been and where we wish to be, then base our own personal development plan on the facts at hand. Granted, we can’t go gonzo based on something like our past earning history and “wish” our salary doubles every two years. We can, however, logically hypothesize that in five years our earning potential will increase by X percent (if we accomplish A, B, and C along the way). That’s initiative and that’s something America and Americans seem to be lacking.

We have become a risk averse people. Instead of the likes of Thomas Edison, who threw all his ideas at the wall and changed the way the world functions, we pay people to tell us why an idea is no good. Instead of choosing to run with scissors, we choose not to fail.

The president of Google, Larry Page, said recently in a Fortune magazine interview that Google never would have happened if professors at Stanford hadn’t told the founders they could always come back and finish their Ph.D.s if they didn’t succeed. Now look at them.

We don’t get many chances to be wildly successful in life – marginally successful – that’s common. The question is, why would anyone be satisfied with being average in a country that epitomizes doing things differently?

Nike’s ad campaign from the ’90s served as a great mantra for many individuals and company’s. What organization didn’t have the words “Just Do It” stuck in a PowerPoint slide deck at some point in its history? And look what happened in the ’90s. Remember all the excitement companies created when they weren’t afraid of risk or failure?

It’s time to rethink our behaviors, both on a personal level and how we’re walking Zombie-like through our work days. Take a stance. Investigate. Patent. Produce. Run with the scissors for a change and make the world a better place.

Hell, there are no rules here – we’re trying to accomplish something.” – Thomas Edison

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Is there any reason why this guy (who, years ago, married a 15-year-old whose parents then had to have the marriage annulled) gets the courtesy of a court trial to resolve a case first brought against him more than five years ago? He allegedly made a video of himself engaging in sex acts with another minor girl. Can you say, “track record” of liking minor girls?

Had this happened to anyone with a “normal” life and limited access to buy freedom through a high-priced celebrity attorney, he/she would have been locked up years ago.

Trapped in a closet? I think that song title has more than one meaning for R.

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It’s the “c” word: Cancer.

With the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s Mother’s Day Race for the Cure at the Mall of America, coupled with other fine foundations like Lance Armstrong’s LiveStrong organization, visibility and awareness about cancer and the continuing need for ALL kinds of cancer research is at an all-time high. Yet cures seem to be as elusive as grabbing water with bare hands.

Last year, the federal government’s National Cancer Institute spent more than $1.5 billion on cancer research. Universities and other private entities spend tens of millions in an attempt to find a cure as well. The results according to the NIH: The incidence rate for all cancers combined — the number of new cancer cases per 100,000 persons per year — declined on average 1.1 percent per year between 1992 and 1998.

Billions spent and a 1.1 percent decline in cancer deaths. Seems to me room for improvement exists.

When America needed an answer to put an end to WWII, Roosevelt ordered The Manhattan Project, leading to the creation of the world’s first atomic bomb. Success. So to speak.

If the best scientific minds of the world were required to band together, like The Manhattan Project formula, I imagine we would experience much more remarkable and ever-lasting success: A cure putting an end to a disease that robs people of their lives every day.

Now is the time. We need to urge this to happen so good people like Eldon, who writes the popular blog Fat Cyclist, doesn’t have to lay sleepless at night wondering how he and his kids are going to get on with life when his wife Susan is taken from them thanks to breast cancer. We need get on top of this now so our own moms, dads, sisters, brothers, sons, and daughters don’t have to fight this mysterious disease at any point in their lives.

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Somewhere in a small town in Minnesota, recently, three eight-grade nose pickers decided it’s be fun to piss off their teacher by staying seated during the Pledge of Allegiance. You see, even in junior high schools around the country, kids stand once a week and recite the Pledge. They don’t HAVE to say the words, but they do have to drag their asses out of their desk chairs and stand.

But these no-brained brats in smallville thought it funny to dis their teacher, the school rules, the flag, their country, and the men and women fighting for our freedom by thumbing their noses at the Pledge and staying on their fat bums.

Naturally, the nosepickers’ mommies and daddies are now contemplating how they can make a quick buck and sue the principal who suspended the kids as well as sue the school district the principal works for.  You can read the whole diatribe in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

What’s the solution here? Clearly it’s twofold.

FIrst, many parents have forgotten how to teach the basics about respect. Respect for property, people (including authority figures like teachers and police officers), animals, and the freedom that, believe it or not, isn’t so free but comes at the utmost highest of prices everyday in far away countries. Teaching respect is a chore and I personally know parents who gave up on putting forth effort to teach their kids what they need to know to excel in life.

Secondly, we have to get it out of our heads that kids under the age of 18 have any real rights at all. Just like respect, rights are earned they aren’t automatic. When an immature child makes a bad decision, causes someone or something harm and then shouts, “It’s my right!” they should be duly laughed at and punished appropriately.

Respect for right conduct is felt by every body.”  -Jane Austen

Society is moving towards this mentality of Rodney Dangerfield. We have to stop the “no respect” mentality before it’s completely out of control.

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There’s so much crazy going on that I struggled with what to choose to publish on this, Day 2 of my “30 Days of Crazy.” So let’s get after the issue of a certain faith that feels it’s cool to have multiple wives, and in many cases, marry teenagers who then themselves have babies before they’re out of junior high school.

In communities throughout the Southwest United States and Texas, law enforcement officials are planning for capacity crowds as town-hall meetings are organized to deal with a very hot topic:  Polygamy. It’s one of the many not-so-secret practices of members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS).

But apparently the larger and more well-kept secret of these faith-based communities is that the polygamy practices of many male FLDS members include “marrying” and fathering children with teenage girls. In typical communities and states throughout the U.S., that’s better known as rape and it’s a punishable felony. But in the polygamy world, it’s accepted.

At least it was accepted until the spotlight shown down on Eldorado, Texas, last month where more than 400 children were taken into protective custody by the state because of reported abuse as well as under-age brides having babies themselves.

And now courts, local government officials and even our own wizards in D.C. are spending time and money trying to wrap their arms around what to do with this fundamentalist atrocity, where yes, having multiple wives and in some cases 40 or more children is “all that.”

Crazy? Ummmm. Yes. While Mormons disavowed polygamy back in 1890 and now excommunicate polygamists from the Mormon church, the FLDS, whose leader was convicted in Utah for raping a 14-year-old, continues to make a go of marrying frequently and fathering liberally. Laws, even in Texas, that stipulate that girls under 16 can’t marry even with parent permission, seem to be snubbed.

The answer seems pretty clear here. Polygamy and rape are illegal in this country and those who choose to commit these crimes should be behind bars – religious beliefs or no.

I just can’t quite fathom why time, money and effort need to go into government meetings to discuss the matter. In this case, the law is the law. Let’s tell our “officials” to apply it – fast and furiously.

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