Help Is Coming

Help

So I used to have a boss who said something really funny.


He used to go, “Everybody says they want to help us” and then bemoaningly he would seem to repeat that a few times. 


The next part which he didn’t need to explicitly say was that “But no one does!”


It was the words, but also much the tone–yes, the walls could be caving in, the ship could be sinking, everything going up in flames, and of course, everyone is there looking on, shaking their heads pitifully, and seemingly stretching out their hand in an offer of help. 


For this boss though, the help couldn’t come fast enough or with enough resources to help resolve all the issues going on at the time. 


I suppose first and foremost, we have to help ourselves. 


Secondly, there needs to be a core understanding from the beginning of what is really doable and what is simply fantasy fare. 


Third, if help is on the way–great, but it’s got to be timely enough and come with enough raw horsepower to make a genuine difference. 


Finally, sometimes miracles do happen and everything works out great–the day is saved–but even then so much underlying damage has been done that you need to rebuild from the core foundations again. 


And for the next time, you’ll need to ensure capabilities beyond what was ever imagined before.😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Even The Water

Dirty Water

So I was in a meeting yesterday. 


And someone had a bottle of what looked like very dirty water. 


I said to the guy sad-jokingly, “Where’s that from–Flint, Michigan?”


He sadly smiles back and says, “No, I just filled the bottle with iced tea!”


But everyone around the table sighed at the tragic state of affairs with the filthy, contaminated water in Flint. 


The high levels of lead in the water has allegedly resulted in “skin lessons, hair loss, high levels of lead in the blood, vision loss, memory loss, depression and anxiety.”


It’s unbelievable that in an American city with a population around 100,000 that they cannot safely shower or drink their water. 


To make things even worse, now banks are hunkering down and don’t want to give mortgages to people in Flint until they can prove that their water is safe


What’s amazing is that this miserable situation in our cities is not the exception, but the rule. 


As of 2003 already, The American Society for Civil Engineering gives us a hideous grade of D on our infrastructure that is aged and in disrepair.


This includes our:

– Energy

– Transportation

– Ports

– Aviation

– Levees

– Dams

– Schools

– Roads

– Inland Waterways

– Wastewater

– Hazardous Waste

– Parks and Recreation

– Rail

– Bridges

– Solid Waste

– Drinking Water


They estimate we need at least $3.6 trillion of investment for infrastructure renewal just by 2020. 


Interestingly enough, the useless decade-long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan costs us over $4 trillion and the lives of almost 14,000 American military and contractor personnel.


What would you rather have a destabilized Middle East now swarming with ISIS, the Taliban, and a resurgent $100 billion richer and nuclear- and terror-determined Iran or a proper country here for us to live in with an actual strategy-driven national security and good schools and clean drinking water? 


(Source Photo: here with attribution to B1ue5sky)

Plastic Pigs

Garbage

So you’ve probably heard about this mammoth island of plastic garbage in the Pacific Ocean.


It’s between the West Coast and Hawaii. 


And it’s called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. 


Get this…


It’s about twice the size of Texas.


Now researchers are predicting that by 2050, our oceans will hold more plastic than fish!


“More than 8 million tons of plastics end up entering our oceans each year.” 


And we’re dumping the equivalent of one garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.  

Just 5% of plastic waste gets recycled. 


So far there is a 165 million tons of plastic trash in the ocean right now. 


The plastic pieces can survive hundreds of years. 


We are making a darn mess of this planet. 


The 5 cent surcharge for plastic bags is a joke in this respect. 


Maybe ISIS actually won’t be the end of Western civilization, but plastic will be. 


Who’s paying off whom to keep this plastic money wagon going to poison our planet?  ;-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Unsustainable U.S. Economy

Unsustainable EconomyThe U.S. National Debt often touted at an enormous $18 trillion is really more than 3 times that amount and closer to a whopping $65 trillion!


That’s when you actually count all the unfunded liabilities for civilian and military pensions, retiree healthcare, social security, and medicare.


For each of the 318.9 million people of that United States, it mean $203,826 of debt or for a family of four that’s a debt of $815,303.


Put another way, the entire net worth of Americans is $84.9 trillion, but after subtracting the debt of $65 trillion, it drops to just about $20 trillion–coincidentally around the amount of our new debt ceiling.


Moreover, with the richest 1% owning more than 50% of the wealth by 2016 that leave only $10 trillion or $31,675 for each of us–not so hoity toity for 239 years of independence and founding as a nation or all the blood, sweat, and tears we put in every day of our lives.


In terms of our escalating debt, just this last year alone, social security spending went up to $944,143,000,000 or the equivalent of $6,345 for every American with a job. and this is projected to dramatically rise with the retirements of the baby boomers.


Projections are for social security to exhaust its funds by 2035, which could result in across the board 20% or more cuts in benefits of the already meager program where many seniors end up eating cat food.


Additionally, the retirement age already set to go to 67 by 2027 could be forced to go even higher, and social security would likely be curtailed or eliminated entirely above certain income levels.


Is this the financial security and brighter future we are leaving our children and grandchildren?


We can kick the can down the road, but the unsustainability of it all will eventually come back to haunt us.😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Pictures of Money)

The Times and Events Of Gog And Magog

Danger Hot

So I have never ever heard so much talk about doomsday as I am these days. 


Earlier in the year (January 2015) the Doomsday Clock moved up to 3 minutes to midnight–that was a full 2 minute move or 40% advance to the end of times. 


The cited reasons by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists:


– “Unchecked climate change”


– “Nuclear arms race”


Essentially, these “pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity.”


But on a daily level now–


Islamic extremism showing through post 9/11 mounting turmoil and unbelievable terror in the Middle East, including seeming non-ending ISIS brutality, Iran’s march towards nuclear weapons and advanced ballistic missiles, the Sunni vs. Shiite war for dominion centering (lately) in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen but with much larger geopolitcal overtones towards a return of a powerful caliphate to challenge the West, fighting between Muslims and Christians in countries like Nigeria, ongoing terror threats to the democratic State of Israel, and a rising tide death, casualties, and refugees.


Russian aggression in multiple countries and regions including Georgia, Ukraine, and Syria, air and naval military incursions and encroachment towards Turkey, the countries in the Baltic Sea region, the Arctic, and even a Russian military satellite parking itself between 2 U.S. satellites yesterday. 


China’s militarization including greater military spending on advanced weapons, Island/posts building in the South China Sea, and ongoing threatening overtures toward Taiwan and other neighbors, and cyber warfare conducted against the U.S.government and the private sector. 


Frightening new military capabilities are coming online with advances in weapons of mass destruction–nuclear, chemical, biological, and radiological–colonization and militarization of space, laser weapons, satellite killers, swarms of drones, armies of robots, and cyberwar.


The drumbeat of climate change and environmental deterioration (unsustainable practices of deforestation, overfishing, pollution, and the extinction of countless species) is being felt in changing weather patterns, global warming, glacier meltdown, alternating threats of flooding and drought in various part of the world, major storms and lightening patterns, and an uptick in natural disasters (tsunamis, hurricanes, and tornadoes), and an overall trend towards shortage and conflict. 


An ailing global economy after 2 major recessions in the 21st century so far, booming national debts, stalling economies, slowing innovation, and scarcity of stable, good paying, full time jobs in an outsourcing, short-term, freelance, contractor culture, and automaton and robotization advances. 


Dysfunctional political systems that are bogged down with endless indecision, infighting, bickering, finger-pointing, stalemates, shutdowns, pork barrel spending, catering to special interest groups, short-term wins at the expense of long-term goals, corruption, and a lack of strong capable leadership at the helm. 


An article I read recently from Russian Times, I believe, said how the U.S. teeters just steps from potential collapse by just relatively easy societal interruptions (presumably that they could facilitate) and that with farms/food production far from major metropolitan areas, people hooked on drugs that they could not get supplies for, and other severe disruptions in our critical care needs, we would be in big trouble–the message was clearly watch out, you are extremely vulnerable. 


That these tactic threats and overtures are already being made explicit is not a good sign. Just politicians and countries throwing around their weight or jockeying for position on the world stage–who knows?


But people are frail, countries are vulnerable, budgets are limited, and bad things can and do happen if we are not careful in a world ticking closer to very dangerous times and events.


The coming realization of the prophecy of a devastating world war–of Gog and Magog–is what people are saying to me.  


In conversation about deteriorating world events, my wife innocently asked someone this week–“Can we avoid a major world war?” Their unequivocal response, “No, it’s inevitable!” ;-) 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

A Ricksha With A Worthwhile Message

Ricksha

This guy is pedaling this ricksha around town in Maryland, USA. 


And it carries messages of hope and peace. 


Some examples (visible in the photo):


– “Promote the Olympic spirit.”


– “Hope for world peace.”


– “Protecting mother earth.”


It looks like he could be right off the streets of China or something and transported here to deliver and remind us of these important ideas. 


What is interesting to me is that in this day and age of social media and online advertising where messages are often drowned out amidst the daily deluge we get, that here a simple ricksha can grab people’s attention and perhaps have a positive influence on them.


With just some subtle messaging along the vehicle’s canopy and with pictures and flags around the back.


Perhaps it’s not only how much one advertises and promotes, but how thought-provoking and novel it’s done. 


I don’t know how many miles this guy can pedal a day, but I bet he gets more likes than much of the garbage just being throw up online because it’s so easy and available for everyone to do.😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

No More Flooding With Permeable Pavement

Very cool solution to flash flooding called Topmix Permeable by Tarmac (a U.K. sustainable building materials company). 


The concrete literally drinks up hundreds of gallons of water. 


Where the heck does all the water go? 


If you’re walking, no more soggy shoes and pant’s bottoms. 


If your driving, even more important is the potential life-saving element for about 75 people that die in vehicles every year when they try get caught in the vehicles in flash flood conditions. 


Also, many potential accidents, injuries, and deaths could be averted by people whose car’s go hydroplaning on wet road surfaces.


Finally, think how transportation would be faster and more efficient (with less traffic) from better road conditions with innovations like this.


With this new material on our roads and some added heat elements to prevent snow and ice, we got some darn good road-safety going on.😉