Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Five Best Reads of this Fall



Your Life: An Owner’s Guide, by Michael R. Slavit, Ph.D.

This book is just what the doctor ordered!  It’s very readable, and it hits home on major life issues as well as nitty-gritty issues.  It starts with helping you sort out your life in terms of your values and goals.  Then it helps you with issues like motivation and getting out of slumps, or depression.  Then it gets right down to issues like managing your money, keeping up with exercise, avoiding clutter, and entertaining in your home.  This guy is down-to-Earth (like me), and knows what he’s talking about. Available on Amazon.  Get it.

The Survival of the Sickest, by Sharon Moalem, M.D., Ph.D.

Another doc, but this one is on the cutting edge of research into health, evolution and environment.  This book will stand you on your ear about how we human beings have evolved in concert with all the other living things on the planet.  You’ll be amazed at what you learn about how certain inherited diseases once helped out ancestors to survive climate changes and plague.  Mile-deep ice cores from Greenland show that, in the past, climate changes have been much more rapid than scientists had previously guessed.  Great book.  Extremely enlightening.  it’s available on audiotape, too.

How I Killed Pluto, and Why it Deserved it, by Michael Brown. 

You’ve probably heard about how Pluto, which used to be called one of the nine planets, has been “down-graded” to a dwarf planet.  What you may not have heard is that far out beyond the orbit of Neptune, Pluto is joined by 8 or 9 other objects just as big.  The Solar System has gotten bigger, not smaller.   This book is not suspenseful, but it sure gives you a peek at what a dedicated scientist goes through to make discoveries – discoveries that may capture the imagination of the next generation of school kids.

Climate Change: Picturing the Science, by Gavin Schmidt.

When you read about retreating glaciers, sinking villages on the Arctic tundra, and drying lakes, there won’t be any doubt in your mind about climate change.  This book is extremely well illustrated .  You’ll enjoy it.

When the Mississippi Ran Backwards, by Jay Feldman. 

You’ve heard of the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906.  But you probably didn’t know that the most devastating series of earthquakes in American history rocked Missouri for 3 months in 1811-1812.  This book has so much history in it!   It tells of the noble character of the Shawnee leader Tecumseh, the daring and successful steamboat trip to New Orleans by the inventor Nicholas Roosevelt, and lots more.  This book will inform and amaze you.

5 Great Things and 5 Not So Great Things About America

5 Great Things About America:

ONE.  Every 4 to 8 years we have a peaceful transition of government.  People in power leave voluntarily, and new people move in.  Many world historians consider this a miracle.

TWO.  We can travel from state-to-state whenever we want, without having to show a passport or papers of any kind. We can cross the whole country without interference.   We take this for granted, but over the course of history, the freedom we enjoy is unusual, and we should treasure it.

THREE.  Anywhere you go in our country, you can go into a restaurant and be pretty confident that it is safe and sanitary.  Why?  Because every state has a Health Department that sees that restaurants live up to health standards, that’s why.   So, some of our tax money really works, doesn’t it?

FOUR.  We have a great collection of colleges and universities – the best in the world.  Our universities do innovative research in physics, medicine, environmental studies, and technology.  If knowledge eventually saves our world civilization, much of that knowledge will have been gained right here in the USA.

FIVE.  Our civilization does best when there are frontiers.  We have two frontiers left: the ocean depths and outer space.  The USA is the world’s best space-faring nation.  Right now we have a rover named “Curiosity” studying the planet Mars. 


5 Not-So-Great Things About America:

ONE.  We have a democratic system, but it’s broken.  One way it’s broken is that candidates for office spend their time slamming one another.  Or, they’re hurling around catch phrases and generalizations.  They do not do what they are supposed to, which is tell us their vision for America’s future and specifically how and why their proposed policies will get us there.

TWO.  We are much too legalistic.  There are too many lawyers running the show.  We have to sign contracts for everything we do – contracts that are too long to read and too obscure to understand.  Instead of working things out like reasonable people, we’re always in court.

THREE.   We don’t have our eye on the ball.  Most Americans are so busy watching sports, Survivor, Dancing with the Stars or American Idol, or are busy planning weddings or showers, that we don’t know what’s going on socially, economically or politically.  It’s just like during the decline of the Roman Empire.  They called it “Bread and Circuses” then, and it looks like that’s what we’ve got again today. 

FOUR.   The next generation is getting fat and out-of-shape.  The New England Journal of Medicine reports that among today’s 5-10-year-olds, sixty percent of them have at least one risk factor for eventual heart disease (too many video games and too much junk food).

FIVE.   RAP and Hip-Hop.  I used to think that they’d never come up with a style of popular music that I couldn’t stand.  I was wrong.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

5 Reasons Why Congress Needs To Do Something About Big Time College Sports

Okay, America, I know I’m flying in the face of one of your favorite things: big time college sports. But it’s time for us to take a long, hard look at reality. Big time college sports should be seriously limited. I am convinced the only we are going to curtail this sad blight on our college students is for congress to hold open hearings and draw more attention to the matter. Here’s FIVE GOOD REASONS WHY:

1. Academic dishonesty. College coaches and athletic directors routinely pressure professors to give passing grades to athletes who do not deserve to pass. Why? To keep them eligible to play. We’re having enough trouble in America today with dishonesty. We used to say, “Honesty is the best policy,” and we need to start saying it again.

2. Sports rivalries promote the wrong ideas about colleges and universities. Fans of Penn State hate Syracuse, and fans of Syracuse hate Penn State. Texas hates Texas A+M and Texas A+M hates Texas. Georgia hates Auburn and Auburn hates Georgia. Hey, wake up! Stop! These are institutions of higher learning, where they do teaching, research and public service. The public needs to think of them that way and not as sports factories.

3. Previously honest alumni of colleges and universities take part in surreptitious, underhanded practices to lure athletes to their alma maters. NCAA rules “prohibit” athletes from being paid, but that doesn’t stop wealthy alumni when their alma mater’s football or basketball team’s championship chances are at stake! There are many ways of paying athletes –cars, credit cards, charge accounts – all carefully hidden. Let’s stop encouraging otherwise honest people from becoming crooks.

4. Athletes’ presence on campuses can be disruptive. Athletes know they’re there to play ball, and they know they have protection. Sometimes they are just impulsive and immature. Beatings and rapes are more common than we know, because they are covered up. The Penn State scandal is one recent example, but many other incidents – known and unknown – have cause needless disruption.

5. The athletes themselves are exploited! Yes, they are! Most of the athletes in major football and basketball programs get certificates of attendance, but no degree. Most of them do not get pro contacts. What they get is a handshake, a bad knee, hip or back, and an uncertain future.

What’s the alternative? The National Football League and the National Basketball Association should establish their own minor leagues. Players should be paid an honest, above-board salary, and should get health insurance and disability income insurance. And there should be funds set aside to help those who do not make the majors to get some training in another occupation, so that they are not thrown out into society with a sense of failure and no training. How could such a revolution take place? Only if you pressure your congressional reps to establish a national commission on sports to study the problem!

Class Warfare? Get Real!

There’s been a lot of talk about the "one percent" - meaning the one percent of the wealthiest Americans. That would be 3,000,000 people. The truth is it’s more like "one-fifth-of-one-percent" - more like 600,000 people who control more than 95% of all the wealth in this country...

First of all, I’m not talking about the rare exceptions - people such as Bill gates, Michael Dell or Steve Jobs - people who started their own companies and who, in the best tradition of capitalism, deserve their wealth. No, I’m talking about people who are employees of shareholders, but who have managed to scrape off millions of other people’s money and make it their own. They do it in a variety of ways. There’s a "country club” at the top".   Chief Execs get boards of directors to vote them salaries of $100,000,000, $200,000,000 and more. That money belongs to the company shareholders, but they take it anyway. They have "golden parachutes" that allow them to walk away with countless millions of dollars if their company is bought out. Even if they run their company into the ground, they manage to walk away with millions.

If we call for restraints on the obscene ways the super rich fill their pockets, the republicans have the nerve to accuse us of class warfare! That’s the most hypocritical thing I’ve ever heard anyone say in my whole life. And that is saying something!

The truth is more like this: They have already beaten us in battle. They have taken us prisoner and thrown us in jail. They have hog-tied us and deprived us of food. Then, when we look up and tell them they should free us and give us food, they say, "Oh, so you want to start a class war?"   Or worse....label us LAZY - the 47% who feel "entitled" and want nothing but a handout ripped from the pocket of our neighbors...

This is crazy talk.   The growing divide in our community makes me sick!   Class warfare??????   We need to wake up and realize the war is being waged against the middle class by the super wealthy.

Monday, May 14, 2012

5 Companies that are 'Going Green' and Why You Should Encourage Them

Let’s face it; since the Obama administration invested 500 million of our tax dollars on failed solar power company Solyndra, the white house has been reluctant to discuss anything even faintly resembling the color green.

I won’t beat a dead horse by saying how important it is that we work to ease our dependence on our dwindling resources. I think we all realize the necessity of energy conservation. We may not all agree with the polarized politics surrounding the issue, but I’ll bet I’m not the only one who’s looking for ways to conserve when it comes to the rising cost of gasoline, electricity, and home heating oil. (PS - I never thought a Prius would look so good.)

The laws of supply and demand dictate that if there is less demand and more supply, then it is only natural that prices should fall. Now I’m not saying that we all need to run out and buy a hybrid, or you need to start reading by candle light. Speaking practically, regardless of what side of the issue you are on, it would behoove all of us to encourage every major corporation in the US to adopt a stricter policy of conservation, whenever possible.

Individual consumers are only a piece of the complex puzzle of consumption we have created here in America. I’m not giving a lecture, but the future we’ve all envisioned of $5 a gallon gasoline has arrived, ready or not. Have you noticed your grocery bill lately? Or your electric bill? Or your home heating bill? Costs everywhere are on the rise.

Here are 5 companies that we should encourage to continue their efforts:  

Dell
"Our goal at Dell is to deliver the highest quality and most efficient products to our customers with the least environmental impact," said Michael Dell, chairman and CEO, Dell Inc. "Last fiscal year, we diverted more than 150 million pounds of end-of-life electronics globally from landfills, and we are well on our way to meeting our goal of recycling 1 billion pounds by 2014. We encourage everyone in our industry to commit to easier, more responsible recycling as we all work to protect our planet."  

Sprint
To be recognized by the EPA for responsible e-waste recycling is an honor for Sprint and a chance to build on our industry-first Electronics Stewardship Policy,” said Sprint CEO Dan Hesse. “Our current policy and today’s commitment with the EPA highlights our goal to handle electronic waste holistically – from product design to disposal – and is another proof point to our broader commitment to sustainability innovation.

Sony
At Sony, any product we make and put our name on, we will take back and recycle in the most responsible manner,” said Mark Small, Vice President for Corporate Environment, Safety and Health. “‘We Make It, We Take It Back’ has been Sony’s policy since 1995. This partnership – in coordination with the EPA and other stakeholders – will help us reach our “Road to Zero” goal, Sony’s vision of zero waste and zero environmental impact throughout the complete life cycle of all our products and related activities.”

Budweiser
Most people don’t expect much in the way of environmental awareness from their beer company, but that hasn’t stopped Anheuser-Busch from delivering. In his landmark text “Natural Capitalism”, author Paul Hawken shines light on the fact that Busch now saves 21 million pounds of metal per year by trimming an eighth of an inch off the diameter of its beer cans. The best news for beer enthusiasts? “The trimming doesn’t reduce the volume of beer one bit”, says Hawken.  

Campus Crest Communities
Campus Crest is a leading developer, builder, owner and manager of high-quality, purpose-built student housing. CEO Ted Rollins and its Grove Green team recently kicked off a national green initiative to plant ‘urban forests’ at its properties. Over the next year, they will add one plant for every resident. “With 33 properties and 6 underway, with more than 17,000 beds, that means we have a lot of planting to do; it’s part of promoting dynamic ecosystems to help the environment,” said Ted Rollins.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mel Gibson: Plagued by Demons or Healthiest Man on the Planet?

Have you ever gingerly walked across the patio on a warm summers day, stubbed your toe and suddenly let loose with a few choice curse words? We've all done it. And I don't need to tell you about the healing power of cursing, but now there is serious clinical research that suggests the momentary release of cursing helps the mind and body cope with pain. Swearing can actually act as a form of pain relief.

The study, published in America's Journal of Pain,found that those who cursed doubled the time they could withstand the "ice-water challenge" - how long they could hold their hands in a container full of ice-water.

The mechanism, the scientists say, is simple; swearing elicits an emotional response leading to what is termed "stress-induced analgesia", also known as the "fight or flight" response, along with a surge of adrenalin.

Cut to, Mel Gibson. If this serious scientific research is accurate (and we suspect that it is), then I am happy to report that Mr. Mel Gibson's profanity filled tirades are having a curative effect. Based on the volume and severity of his eruptions, the Mel Gibson we  once knew and loved should be returning to us any day now.

Mel is just a few curses away from complete happiness. Feel the healing power of every stinging sewage seeped syllable that spills from Mel's lips. Every outburst is one step closer to closure. Psychiatrists, step aside. Spiritual advisers: pack your bags. All Mel really needs is a couple more rage fueled rants and he'll be kicking all of you bums off of the payroll. The last laugh will be on you!

My advice to Mel Gibson is this: No more holding back!Let it all hang out Mel! Here's a little reminder of the head space that you need to get to:



Will you please stop coddling these people? No more Mr. Nice Guy! 

P.S. - Hey Mel, did you know that the original meaning of the adjective "profane" derives from the Latin meaning "in front of" and "outside the temple". It refers to items not belonging to the church. For example, "The fort is the oldest profane building in the town, but the local monastery is older".

Roy Fisker

Friday, April 20, 2012

Hello and Welcome!

Welcome to my new Blog. My name is Roy and I'm a lifelong Biker and Hell raiser currently residing in Taos, New Mexico. I love Mexican Beer, Chilean Wine and Jack Daniels and my politics are mostly 'blue collar' republican. When I'm not tooling around town on my '48 Panhead, I'm usually helping out a Buddy with his or her bike or sitting on a bar stool somewhere. I haven't donned a tie in fifty years and I've never had what you'd call a "real job" and DAMN proud of it.