Somewhere in this posting is buried a totally irrelevant sentence, having nothing whatsoever to do with the rest of the material it accompanies. See if you can spot it. (This is really a subterfuge on my part to get you to read this entire posting but look for it anyway.)
Putting on My
In the room in my home which I am presumptuous enough to call my “study” (that’s where my desk, computer, library and paintings are), sits an album containing copies of the published letters to newspapers here in Florida which I have written over the past eighteen years.
One early one (an undated copy but probably around 2003 or 2004) suggests “protectionism” as the solution to the nation’s economic ills, particularly in the areas of job creation and preservation which would supposedly kick off economic growth by increasing consumer spending. The credibility of that position goes back, in this country, to Alexander Hamilton, a believer in protective tariffs.
Over the years, my views have changed to a more globally oriented position, recognizing that our economy cannot exist without integration with that of other nations: In a word, globalization! Even though I lack real credentials in the field of economics, I still am ready to pass on my ideas because, as I have often said on this blog, I frequently doubt the believability of recognized economists since there are always highly respected economists advocating diametrically opposed theories. Milton Friedman and John Maynard Keynes are examples. I liken them all to alchemists and astrologists which throughout history have occasionally been taken seriously.
My thoughts in this area have changed and grown. Apparently, Robert Lighthizer, President Trump’s chief trade advisor, is back where I was a decade and a half ago. I hope that his ideas will evolve to a more global approach once his mistaken direction has been proven wrong. I hope it doesn’t take an economic disaster for that to happen. Without change and growth, we’d still be in the Middle Ages. Through the mechanics of feudalism, those years actually saw economic problems dealt with more realistically than they were in the more savage preceding centuries, known as the Dark Ages, but that, and succeeding systems, are not good enough for us today in our undeniably global economy.
Insurance, Kavanaugh and a Youthful Approach
At one time, back in my working days, I headed up a risk selection (some called it “underwriting”) department in a small life insurance company in New York City. Basically, our task was to make sure that we knew the medical, and often the personal, histories of the folks our company were insuring. We had a lot of tools with which to do our job, and we worked closely with the reinsurance companies upon which all small life insurance companies depend to be competitive with the “big” companies. A senior executive of one of our reinsurers, known throughout the industry for his wry sense of humor, frequently described a common attribute of a significant number of people applying for life insurance. They, in addition to possessing hearts, livers, lungs, and the rest of the usual bodily parts, were all endowed with good “forgetters.”
Sometimes, this hitherto unknown organ resulted in their not mentioning on their insurance application the two heart attacks they had experienced a few years back nor the chemotherapy they underwent for that lump that was removed a year before. It wasn’t really their fault; the blame lay on their “forgetter.”
(Those who were in the business, and who might still be around, know about whom I am talking. Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, Charlie ran the stateside branch of the old Cologne Reinsurance company, now part of Berkshire Hathaway’s General Re.)
Which brings us to Brett Kavanaugh. Need I say more?
But I will, anyway. The Democratic strategy, obviously aimed at the upcoming mid-term elections, can be simply explained with four words. “Payback for Merrick Garland.” Mitch McConnell should be blamed for bringing great, if not fatal, problems to his party.
If Judge Kavanaugh is hurt in the process, it is his fault for not anticipating that what the Republicans did to Barack Obama’s 2015 nominee would influence the way the Democrats would react to his nomination. Did he think he would get through just as Neil Gorsuch had? No way, Brett, not with mid-term elections coming up! Chalk that up to naivete. Perhaps he went into the nominating process with his eyes wide closed, awed by the fact that he was nominated.
As for Kavanaugh’s testimony and that of Dr. Christine Ford before the Judiciary Committee last week, she was totally believable. She was truthful and was not confused over details. If she wasn’t absolutely sure of something, she said so. But she could not come up with corroborating witnesses who were at the party.
Kavanaugh was also sincere and believable. He was obviously emotionally distressed by the fact that regardless of whether or not he is elevated to the Supreme Court, a lifetime of building a fine reputation had been permanently stained. (A highly perceptive friend read his distress as a manifestation of shame on his part, which would lead one to believe more strongly in Dr. Ford’s claim than in Judge Kavanaugh’s denial.) I wonder what personal conclusion the esteemed Arizona sex-crimes prosecutor who did most of the questioning for the Republican members of the Committee made. She had certainly dealt with such contradictory and conflicting testimony many times before. Whatever the truth is, I feel she has a pretty good idea of where it rests. Someday she might write a book.
My take on his testimony is that he was so drunk that evening that he didn’t remember a thing about what had occurred. (See the first two paragraphs of this piece, the “insurance” part.) He did admit to having occasionally “fallen asleep” after drinking. If this were the case that evening, which he denied ever even taking part in, it would have left him unable to remember it happening and to account for anything which might have happened during that period when he was “asleep.” It would not have found a prominent place in his memory bank, so quite correctly, he remembered nothing and replied honestly. The FBI investigation might or might not shed more light on what happened. I doubt it. Hypnosis might do that but I don’t think the Senate nor the FBI will go there.
I drink beer too, but I am no authority on it. A six-pack usually lasts a least a month in my refrigerator. Assuming each beer is the equivalent of a 12 oz. bottle, here is the way it affects me. I think the same might apply to most beer drinkers. I cannot really remember the last time I had more than two beers at a sitting, but I have in the far distant past.
1 beer – No effect.,
2 beers – Little effect, but I am aware that I have been drinking. Feeling good.
And groping back far into my memories:
3 beers – Borderline drunk. Feeling great. I won’t drive.
4 beers - Drunk - If no food consumed, ready to fall asleep, otherwise, just woozy and unsteady on feet.
5 beers - Drunk enough so that I can’t remember what happened.
I wonder what would happen if the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee were replaced by a panel of high school juniors and seniors of both sexes, representing both public and private secondary schools.The kids, on the other hand, are there right now.
My bottom line: Regardless of whether or not Brett Cavanaugh molested Dr. Ford 36 years ago, his demeanor at the Committee hearings, his snapping back at questioning Senators’ questions, his becoming angry in the face of hostility and his general arrogance clearly indicated that despite his recognized legal acumen, he is unfit to serve on the United State Supreme Court, where Justices cannot be allowed to lose their “cool.”
In the big scheme of things, what is the purpose of life? Some scientists say that, just like other forms of living things, the purpose of life for homo sapiens, us, is to reproduce. Our other achievements, scientific, intellectual or practical, may be remarkable but the main thing is that we are born for the purpose of continuing our species’ existence by reproducing. In that way, we are no different from insects, reptiles and other kinds of life.
In order to do that, we are born with sexual drives which are intended to lead to our reproducing. The intellectually based institutions we have established to see that we accomplish this, such as marriage, are incidental to the pleasurable sexual activity which drives us to actually perform the intended task.
Men and women are provided with slightly different sexual drives because their roles are different. Most men are outwardly more aggressive while most women are more subtle in their approach to the acts leading to reproduction. Both, however, consciously or not, direct their behavior at reproducing the most desirable progeny. That is why men chase after what they consider to be pretty women. That is why women take steps to become attractive to men, and select from among the ones they attract, the ones they feel will produce the most desirable offspring. Look at the eyeliner even ancient Egyptian women wore! What was that all about? Why are businesses such as Sephora or Victoria’s Secret so successful?
Whole industries (men’s and women’s apparel, cosmetics, fitness, weight loss, jewelry, fragrances, nail salons, beauticians and barber shops, for starters) are devoted to taking advantage of this drive and making money from it. Women want to attract men and men do not want to be rejected by the women to whom they are attracted. Both want to look good! Even look “sexy.”
And when someone looks in a mirror and asks “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is fairest of them all,” they don’t give a damn what the mirror thinks, it’s what someone of the opposite sex thinks. Even if we do not consciously act this way and sincerely believe we might be merely grooming well to please only ourselves and our families, that behavior is initially conditioned by our built-in sexual drive.
Biology, recognizing that failure to reproduce or producing offspring not surviving long enough to reproduce can cause the demise of a species, provides creatures with an overabundant sexual drive in order to maximize reproduction. Although unnecessary for homo sapiens for a variety of reasons, we still are provided with that overabundant sexual drive. That’s where problems start.
The drive is there long before the social institution of marriage comes into play and it remains long after the reproductive role in marriage is fulfilled. It is there among those who never marry or do not reproduce. Outlets for this excessive drive are found to be acceptable or unacceptable in varying degrees. They run the gamut from the innocence of gay and lesbian relationships and various out-of-wedlock relationships to the harmful evils of pedophilia and bestiality with a middle ground which includes adultery, prostitution, pornography, masturbation, celibacy, polygamy, sexual harassment, rape or combinations of one or more of these outlets. This is nothing new. The Bible refers to them frequently.
Usually these outlets for excess sexual drive are referred to in the context of males, but they apply to women as well, although one hears less about that. Think about this when you hear about business executives and politicians whose careers have been affected by their involvement in some of these outlets for excess sexual drive.
One of the challenges faced by today's engineers and scientists is harnessing this almost universal overabundance of human sexual drive and using it in the development of self-driving automobiles.
Over the past few years there has been a reduction in the number of visits by the beautiful Monarch butterflies which we had been used to frequently seeing. Aware of the migratory habits of the Monarch butterfly, scientists have attributed this to the deforestation of certain areas of Mexico where some Monarchs winter, the change in weather patterns which we have been experiencing and finally, the use of herbicides throughout the country, particularly in Midwestern agriculture, which, along with other undesirable plants, eliminates milkweed from fields and roadsides. Without milkweed, Monarchs will not breed.
I had stripped down most of my butterfly plants due to our Florida community’s recent house painting project. I did leave a few milkweeds which had grown from seeds naturally dropped to the earth from earlier years’ plants. Afterwards, I planted about four new milkweed plants. (Although new milkweed plants will provide leaves as nourishment for Monarch caterpillars and regrow leaves when a plant’s leaves are is devoured, the plant will not produce and drop its own seeds for reproduction until it is about three years old.)
Over the past few weeks, there have been occasional Monarch caterpillars lunching on my milkweed plants. Earlier this week there were at least four. I have even spotted a couple of green chrysalises (cocoons) which these caterpillars turn into, and which give birth to the actual butterflies, but my sightings of Monarch butterflies have been few and far between. I think there is more to their disappearance than the three reasons mentioned above. Could it be the Chinese or the Russians?
Meanwhile, growth on my passion flower vines is progressing. They have already produced a few blossoms. I anticipate seeing some Gulf Fritillary butterflies, which they attract, in a few months. I continue to see Broadwing Zebras, but I really cannot identify where they are breeding. They are very secretive. My dutchman’s pipevine is now fully re-grown and I have seen one or two Goldrimmed Swallowtails, which breed on that plant. Finally, my Wild Lime tree has managed to breed a few magnificent Giant Swallowtails, which I hope will continue.
Although butterflies do not lay eggs on them, I have a profusion of blue blossomed porterweed around the house. These attract bees, moths and butterflies, all of which stop by to taste the nectar of the flowers. Once there, I hope the butterflies choose to lay their eggs on their appropriate host plants, which I hope I have provided for them nearby.
Three years ago, after being provided with a listing of the plants in my butterfly garden, and the butterflies I had spotted there, the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs provided me with a Official Florida Butterfly Sanctuary certificate for my garden. (It is displayed on my patio.) I would hope that within a year or so, my plantings will enable it to once again function on that level.
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