Monday, August 30, 2021

A New Month Looms......

As September looms, I just wanted to share some final thoughts with images from my Personal Collection as I was in Community over the weekend and captured a scene as my City remembered the 13 Fallen Soldiers as they came home to America for the final time yesterday.  It was also a month of active engagement as I had the pleasure to be supportive of the work at the Daily Outsider.   

I captured a beautiful Poem about the art of the possible and an artifact from my Personal collection-an original signature from the lats Shah of Iran and his second wife, Queen Soraya.   I am remaining hopeful in spite of all the challenges as the new month looms.

Onward to September with all its' possibilities.


Monday, August 23, 2021

Out & About With Brief M-End #RandomThoughts


It has been a very difficult few weeks.    I spent Sunday catching up on the latest commentary From Afghanistan and Iran as I decided to headline the predicament in Iran with what has been done to Iran.  It was just hard.    

Earlier tonight, I released two clips I chose on the horror developments in Afghanistan & Iran that is in Farsi about how everything seems to be forgotten.   I nearly broke down as I listened to the Mother of Poya Bakhtiari, one of the victims of the 2019 uprising in Iran as she was having an interview, and thereafter Islamic Republic Agents led them away.      

As I was thinking about our World, all I could take comfort in was this:  #WeShallOvercome.

چشم‌انداز: جامعه جهانی چرا مردم افغانستان را تنها گذاشت؟

Monday, August 16, 2021

Out & About With Some Mid-Month #RandomThoughts

It is "mid-month" and "mid-quarter" as I worked away tending to commitments at the Daily Outsider  and as I geared up for weekly commitments.   I decided to headline my mid-month #RandomThoughts with a personal artifact from my son as I was reflecting upon my own blessings as I was making the rounds last night. 

 As I have been working away, I just caught Iran  International's Analysis of the debacle in Afghanistan which I released to my Facebook Wall and the role Zalmay Khalilzad and his wife played in this unmitigated disaster that continues to unfold in Afghanistan.      It has been a very horrific few days as Afghanistan fell to the Taliban and Mullah Baradar, the Taliban Political Leader, congratulated the Taliban's victory.    Ghani, the now-former President, is now in Tajikistan as I saw a clip of him as he was leaving and I saw a clip of the Taliban at the Arg, The Presidential Palace as the US evacuated its' Embassy.      What I continue to be concerned about is what will happen to Iran afterward.  It is going to be ever so horrific especially as The Taliban take charge in Afghanistan.     I recently finished a book on the Afghanistan Campaign by the Marines on what the Mojahedeen did --and it is clear lessons were never learned in spite of such analysis.   Afghanistan is the graveyard of Empires--I had pushed back on some of the criticism because My view is simple: everyone's responsible including Joe Biden.   

Meanwhile, here in Southern California, One area of profound concern has been the rise of the COVID Delta variant in large measure due to all who have been unvaccinated.    I embraced this message from MoveOn: 

On a personal note, I had the pleasure to continue my journey of service as I have been working at Orange County Social Services.   This is as I am working to wrap up my Graduate Work at Walden, gearing up for the non-profit envisioned.   As part of this, I was able to secure an opportunity to do some work in Machine Learning:  

I have also taken continued comfort in the Daily Stoic especially during the challenging times we are witness to with the foreign policy challenges and the climate crisis we are facing: 

Happy Father’s Day to everyone! Just an FYI, we also send out a daily email (and daily podcast) about parenting over at We’d love to have you join us. Happy Father’s Day!

Where did Marcus learn to be Marcus? Ernest Renan writes that Marcus was very much a product of his training and his tutors. But more than his teachers and even his own parents, “Marcus had a single master whom he revered above them all, and that was Antoninus.”

All his adult life, Marcus strived to be a disciple of his adopted step-father, to whom he say, according to Renan, as the “the most beautiful model of a perfect life.” It’s a beautiful and inspiring example for all to take heart in, because while Antoninus is largely forgotten by history, the lessons and values he passed on to his son, have echoed through eternity. You are here, reading this email, because of time and care that man took as a parent. And that’s something worth thinking about today—on Father’s Day—whether you’re a mom, a dad, a son or a daughter.

We know what Marcus earned from Antoninus because at the end of his life, Marcus sat down and wrote about it. In fact, almost no one is referenced or spoken of more in Meditations than Antoninus, and we’d be foolish not to take that endorsement seriously. Better yet, we should use it as a call to greatness for ourselves, for our own children and for a better future.

1: To Love Philosophy

Antoninus “honoured those who were true philosophers, and he did not reproach those who pretended to be philosophers, nor yet was he easily led by them.”

Marcus had a pretty important day job, a job that would have been enough to consume an ordinary person’s entire day—even, possibly, their entire life. After all, millions of lives depended on how well he performed at work and whether he managed his responsibilities properly.

So it’s interesting that Marcus took pains to remind himself that, as important as his job was, philosophy needed to be the priority. We get a good sense of how he thought about his priorities with this line in Book 6 of Meditations:

"Philosophy: Keep returning to it, to rest in its embrace. It’s all that makes the court—and you—endurable."

Treat philosophy like the people who birth you and raised you, he says, keep returning home, like you do to your father or step-father, your mother or step-mother.

Yes, we’re busy. Yes, we (hopefully) love our jobs, and we need what those jobs provide, both in terms of financial security and fulfillment. But it would be a grave mistake to leave philosophy only our scraps, only the leftover time we have when the workday is through. Philosophy is not a frivolous hobby—it’s the key to everything we’re trying to do. It’s a compass, a guiding light, it’s what we owe our ultimate love and devotion.

2: To Read Deeply

Antoninus believed an emperor-in-waiting needed to read widely. Marcus tells us that “he never let things go before he was sure he had examined them thoroughly, understood them perfectly.”

Marcus wrote about how he was one with his weapon—like a boxer, more than a swordsman. A boxer just clenches their fist. A fencer has to pick something up.

Reading isn’t about “getting the gist of it,” as Marcus derided. It’s about making the material a part of your life and your mind. It’s about lingering and digesting until it takes firm hold, never to be dislodged. It’s about, as Marcus learned from his father, examining them thoroughly.

3: To Be Decisive

Antoninus had a remarkable “unwavering adherence to decisions,” Marcus tells us. “Once he’d reach them,” there was no hesitation, only resolute action. A leader, a father, a human being must be able to decide.

4: To Be Humble

On the emperor Hadrian’s deathbed, he summoned Antoninus. It was time to hand over the crown. Antoninus pushed back. With this “indifference to superficial honors,” we’re told, Hadrian was certain he made the right decision in making Antoninus his heir.

Marcus said he revered “His restrictions on acclamations—and all attempts to flatter him.” When the Senate, for instance, proposed to change the month of September to his name and October to his wife’s, Antoninus refused.

We again see Marcus putting this lesson into practice throughout Meditations. He liked to remind himself that his imperial “purple robes are sheep wool dyed with shellfish blood”—they are not special. He said to avoid “becoming Caesarified”...just as his father had avoided it, and never let himself be fooled into thinking he was better or more important than other people.

5: To Keep An Open Mind

Marcus liked Antoninus’ “tolerance of people who openly questioned his views and his delight at seeing his ideas improved on.”

Marcus would later talk about being happy to have been proven wrong. “If anyone can refute me,” he wrote, or “show me I’m making a mistake or looking at things from the wrong perspective—I’ll gladly change. It’s the truth I’m after, and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance.” This was a well-formed lesson from his stepfather.

6: To Work Hard

“Take Antoninus as your model, always,” Marcus wrote. “How hard he worked, how much he put up with...his ability work straight through till dusk—because of his simple diet (he didn’t even need to relieve himself, except at set times).”

Marcus would later talk about rising early, working hard and doing what his nature and job required. That work ethic wasn’t inborn—it was developed. He learned it from example.

7: To Take Care of His Health

Antoninus worked hard, but he also made sure “to take adequate care of himself,” Marcus says. “He hardly ever needed medical attention, or drugs or any sort of salve or ointment.”

While Marcus practiced the art of memento mori—and knew that death was something that could randomly visit anyone, at any time—he still took pains to maintain his health. His doctor was Galen, one of the most famous physicians of antiquity, and presumably Marcus didn’t keep him around to shorten his life. No, he wanted to survive and be as healthy and strong as possible while he was alive.

Health is wealth. Taking care of yourself is important. What good can you do in this world if you feel like shit all the time? Or if you lack the physical and moral strength to be of good to anyone?

We are on this planet for a short amount of time. But if we practice bad habits, if we let our urges run wild, we will surely shorten that time. That’s not Stoic, that’s stupid.

8: To Serve The Common Good

We learn from the Historia Augusta that one of the reasons Hadrian adopted Antoninus was he had this kind of instinct to serve others. Just after Aelius Verus—Hadrian’s original choice to succeed him—died, a meeting was called at the senate. Antoninus helped his father-in-law, Annius Verus, walk to the senate house. “For this act,” we read in the Historia Augusta, “Hadrian adopted him.”

When he became emperor, when he was given absolute power and unlimited wealth, the first thing he did was set up a res privata—a small team in his court to manage his private financial account and keep it distinctly separate from the imperial treasury. When his wife scolded him for his penny-pinching within the household, Antoninus replied, “now that we have gained an empire, we have lost even what we had before.” Meaning their wealth was no longer there, now it was meant to be shared, particularly with the less fortunate. Accordingly, Antoninus gifted money to the less fortunate, he cancelled debts, he lent his own money at interests below market rates, he paid out-of-pocket to distribute food in times of famine.

And Marcus would learn to do the same. “The fruit of this life is a good character,” he wrote, “and acts for the common good.”

9: To Be Self-reliant

Antoninus showed Marcus that fortune was fickle. We mentioned above that spartan attitude to money. Marcus would have observed Antoninus “taking frugal meals and reducing the pomp on state occasions to republican simplicity.” Frugality and industry was the only way to guarantee financial security. Marcus said, “Self-reliance, always”—what a lesson for a father to teach a son.

10: To Look To Experts

“This, in particular,” Marcus said he learned from Antoninus: the “willingness to yield the floor to experts—in oratory, law, psychology, whatever—and to support them energetically, so that each of them could fulfill his potential.”

When the Antonine plague hit Rome in 165 CE, Marcus knew what to do. He immediately assembled his team of Rome’s most brilliant minds. As McLynn explains, his “shrewd and careful personnel selection” is worthy of study by any person in any position of leadership. He searched for and brought in the best. He broke the mold and filled his staff with talent, not aristocrats or cronies. He actually listened to advice. He empowered people to make decisions. He hired Galen, the most famous physician and polymath of antiquity, to lead medical lectures and anatomy demonstrations, wanting to elevate “the intellectual tone” of his court. It was Galen who he empowered to lead the efforts to combat the plague, the smartest medical mind of his time.

11: To Lead From The Center

Hadrian was known for his globe trotting and a tendency to seek some peace and quiet abroad when Rome was particularly chaotic. Other emperors retreated to pleasure palaces or blamed enemies for issues during their reign.

In pointed disapproval of these other rulers, Marcus praised Antoninus “particularly for staying in Rome and running the empire from the centre.” He marvelled at his “constant devotion to the empire’s needs. His stewardship of the treasury. His willingness to take responsibility—and blame—for both.”

No one would have faulted Marcus if he had fled Rome when the Antonine plague broke out. Most people of means did. Instead, Marcus stayed, at enormous personal cost. He braved the deadliest plague of Rome’s 900-year history, never showing fear, reassuring his people by his very presence. He locked down his citizens, but he did not lock them out. His doors were always open. He summoned priests of every sect and doctors of every specialty and toured the empire in an attempt to purge it of the plague, using every purifying technique yet known. He attended funerals. He gave speeches. He showed up for his people, assuring them that he did not value his safety more than his responsibility.

12: To Not Lose Your Temper

Antoninus had what all truly great leaders have—he was cool under pressure:

“He never exhibited rudeness, lost control of himself, or turned violent. No one ever saw him sweat. Everything was to be approached logically and with due consideration, in a calm and orderly fashion but decisively, with no loose ends.”

It’s what Marcus was constantly reminding himself (and what inspired our Daily Stoic Taming Your Temper course). “When you start to lose your temper,” Marcus wrote, “remember: there’s nothing manly about rage.” He saw Antoninus as a real man...who didn’t need to unload on other people.

13: To Be Self-Controlled

“He knew how to enjoy and abstain from things that most people find it hard to abstain from and all too easy to enjoy. Strength, perseverance, self-control in both areas: the mark of a soul in readiness—indomitable.”


These were all lessons Marcus carried with him his whole life. They guided the most powerful man on the planet through many trying times. So much so that he recounted them in his private journal late in life. And we’re still recounting them close to 2,000 years later.

The things you teach your kids will shape their future. And their children’s future. So make sure you’re setting a good example. If your children were to write down what they learned from you on their deathbed, what would they write? You have the ability to shape that everyday. So start.

These #RandomThoughts also continue to remind me of how to approach the ongoing challenges I have had to deal with: 

Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well.

Jack London

Life is a question and how we live it is our answer.

Gary Keller

There is also the campaign of No to the Islamic Republic in Iran as Iranians continue to die by the hundreds daily in the aftermath of Khameini, the Leader, banning Vaccines--One estimate is that over 80,000 people have directly died because of it.   The clips and pleas from those who have lost their loved ones has been heartbreaking:  

I also had the following notations I had on the challenges of the past 3 months--it is even worst now in light of over 26,000,000 people in Iran under the official line of poverty --these notations sent shivers down my spin: 

  • Conversation with Reza Khandan (Be Yad Yar) about the imprisonment of Nasrin Soutodeh & the reflections by Shirin Ebadi--the courage of Reza Khandan and the maturity of the children in spite of all the challenges 
  • The Iranian economy is at a StandStill
  • 15 Thousand Miliard Tomans in Digital Currency  (According to Navid Jamshidi at Arya)
  • 40 to 200 percent inflation rate due to the wrong policies
  • Remembering political prisoners ((  Yashar Tabrizi was sentenced for being a civil activist who documented the plight of the grave sleepers; Ali Keradgerai who spoke out against Khameini
  • About 64% of villagers are migrating to cities as Iran dries up 
  • How the Iranian regime swindled people out of billions  
  • Joined a Club House with 8,000 attendees on the realities of Iran as Elections Loom
  • Iran International conducted a survey on the very cold state of Elections from the "GOMAN Organization"
  • A Sense of the realities in Iran Right now:  1) Bread price went up 50%; 2) Cooking Oil went up 35%; 3) 64 Percent of village residents were driven away from their homes due to the lack of water as Iran faces a major drought; 4) Hunger continues along with people under the official line of povertry; 4) People chanted: We're Hungry & Poor--Hamas has missiles in Gaza 
It is an absolutely challenging time right now--it is not easy to be hopeful.   I need to be.   

Monday, August 9, 2021

Sunday, August 1, 2021

#RandomThoughts As August Dawns....

A new month is at hand.  I achieved a major personal milestone--although I still have about a month or so of administrative backends to address--and this major achievement won't hit me until I get the actual degree within the next number of weeks:

It was also a week that saw mask mandates return as the Delta Variant began to wreck havoc yet again due to the pandemic of the unvaccinated--one of the key must reads is this by Marc Cooper which I have the pleasure to support:

By Marc Cooper

July 30, 2021

Our two pandemics – COVID 19 and the massive Trumplican  mis/disinformation campaign-- have now merged into one deadly plague that is ripping through the land.

Some 90 million eligible Americans are still avoiding vaccination a full six months after the jabs have become available, leading to a quintupling of infections over the last three weeks, a resurgent death toll and new rounds of mask impositions, partial shutdowns and a clamor for mandates to be instituted.

Look at one of the myriad infection cluster maps now and find that ALL of the concentrated outbreaks, some of horrific proportions (see Missouri), track absolutely perfectly with areas that voted in 2020 for Donald Trump.

More than 80% of Democratic adults are vaccinated. Only about 50% of Republicans. And that’s an average.

In some southern states, the epicenter of Trump Country, vaccination rates run as low as 30% or less and that’s where the hospitals are once again overflowing with those being mowed down by Delta.  Joe Biden has called this mounting fourth wave “the pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

More precisely, this is a wholly man-made, wholly manufactured, wholly preventable deadly wave that owes directly to the  refusal to vaccinate, aided and abetted by nearly 18 months of propaganda downplaying the virus,  undermining the vaccine, mocking public health measures, equating masks with Nazi yellow stars, calling for the jailing of Dr. Fauci, pushing hare-brained theories that the vax carries microchips or magnets  and that this whole pandemic was somehow staged or capitalized upon so that a hidden elite can better control the masses.

In other words, this is The MAGA Pandemic.  This is where the Big Lie folds neatly into Deadly Anti-Vax Conspiracy Theories and the result are projections that we will soon be up again to a 1000 deaths per day, that national steps backward could go on into the winter, and that in the most backward parts of America, and I use that word deliberately, defined as centers of rural, conservative and evangelical concentration, the pandemic could linger for several more years.

No sane  politician – except maybe the Governor of Alabama whose mental state I cannot attest to-- would ever publicly blame the voters for anything.  That is prima facia politically suicidal.

Well, I am not a politician.

Still, I am not going to trash the voters or, more specifically, that portion of the voters who refuse to vaccinate.

But if I did speak up and if I did say what I really think, this is more or less what bubbles up:

Hey! No more Mister Nice Guy.  No more pandering or “listening” to your ignorance, fear, and superstition.  I am sick and tired of your Massive Stupid.  Your selfishness is stunning.  Your disregard for others is deplorable, your unwillingness to face reality produces anger, disbelief, and even a certain level of embarrassment of having to live in the same country as you.

America First! Yes. Thanks to you and your imbecile friends we are, indeed, Number One in the world.  Number one in deaths with 612,000 and rising. And also, Number One percentagewise of countries with the greatest number of hesitant nimrods and refuseniks like yourself.

In your fantasy life, you think you are some type of courageous and heroic freedom fighter when, in fact, you are a repugnant ignoramus, now threatening the health and security of 330 million other Americans, you are endangering your own family and neighbors, you are threatening the well-being of your own children at a time when the Delta variant targets the young, you are threatening the economic revival, and you are threatening the very stability of the United States. YOU, my friend are the problem. Nobody else.

I understand that about 5 million of you are innocent, indeed, you are potential victims. I refer to those who are immuno-compromised and cannot be vaccinated. You more than anybody needs to be protected from these idiots.  I also understand that there are some poor and marginal folks who, it is said, have not been sufficiently included and to that I will say: ok, then fucking include them already. I will also note, that some Black and Brown people are as much in outer space as some Whites are. Skin color is not a vaccination against reason.

As to the other 80 million of you others, I see two broad categories: the “hesitant” and the “dead enders” (pun intended). 

To the hesitant: Oh, poor babies.  You are “concerned” about what exactly?  The long-term effects of the vax? The side effects of the vax? Just what exactly?  As of July 30, some 165 million Americans have been fully vaccinated.  Globally 3.5 billion vaccinations have been performed.  Hey, snowflake, in your ongoing search for answers have you noticed the results after 6 months? 

We have spent the last 18 months locked down in a pandemic during which did you take any time to do any serious reading about it? You know, from like a newspaper?  I mean, did you not bother to do any real research other than talk to your manicurist or bowling teammate?  Were you too busy watching American Voices or your favorite prime time line up to actually properly inform yourself?

Apparently so.  I will now do you the favor of completing your research in the off chance that you might actually go get vaccinated some time before the sun burns out.  The verdict is in: the vaccine allows you to live.  Without it, and with Delta hunting you down, you have good odds of croaking ( Though I will reassure you that the one silver lining of death by COVID or any other source is that it has zero side effects).

For those of you holding out for more “incentives,” as if this were an auction for airline vouchers rather than a life and death imperative, you absolutely nauseate me, almost as much as the offer itself. Millions, nay, billions of people around the world are praying every day for access to the vaccine and you want to be paid for it?  This sort of totally egomaniacal position is really hard to grasp in the midst of a national emergency.  Next time you have a heart attack, do you want the paramedic to offer you a gift before you accept some treatment?

To the Dead-Enders:  I really have no words for you even in private, let alone in public.  I suppose if pressed, I would say, you are disgusting.  There are no arguments left to serve up.  You have decided to join what is now a blatant death cult. It’s unfortunate that your reprehensible behavior affects so many others because when it comes down to the final battle between you and Mr. Delta, I am afraid not too many will be betting on you.  The virus doesn’t give one fuck about how many Gadsden flags you’ve adorned your F-150 with, nor does it care how much of tough guy you think you are, nor how many rounds of .223 you have to fight it off… Delta’s gonna clean your clock, podna. And if it does not, you have earned the permanent scorn of millions of us for the rest of your squalid life.

I want to see a nationwide mandate for vaccination…now. We’ve done it many times before and have eradicated many communicable diseases.  And I want to see a frggin’ iron clad vaccination passport.

I want these intransigent diseased motherfuckers barred from any indoor public space unless they have proof of vaccination thru a national digital data base.

No vaccination? No proof of immuno-suppression? No passport. No passport? Great. No entry in bars, restaurants, cinemas, sporting events, concerts, retail shops, or even markets. You need food? No problem, patriot! Pick up your phone and have Safeway deliver it to you as you sit calmly and safely (for the rest of us) on your couch and watch more of those who David Plouffe calls The Merchants of Death on Fox prime time.  Or… better yet…. try to sneak into the market without a passport, get caught, get busted and get thrown in a special jail for the unvaccinated,

Ok. Remember, this is what I would say only if asked what I really think.

Emotion, even informed emotion, is not a good basis for public policy.  I am sure that a whole lot of people in government have the same view I outlined above, but politically, I’m not sure it viable option.

That said, while I think Biden’s speech pleading with people on Thursday morn was a good one he is still being too deferential to these imbeciles.  I understand his panic and his desperation. But asking states to reward these scoffs with $100 per shot is the wrong route. And the wrong moral message.

Positive reinforcement has not worked and will not work going forward.  The $100 will make no difference, especially among the MAGATS.  Even the sudden turn of Republicans like McConnell, Scalise and Sean Hannity now encouraging the vax will fall on deaf ears.  The MAGATS have shown tremendous discipline in breaking with, shouting down and shunning any Republican who departs from the official line of sedition and denialism and the calls to vaccinate will be met with the same defiance – no matter their source.

Biden needs to move more forcefully toward negative incentives.  Hey, Macron did it with one stroke of the pen.  There were protests afterward, but so what?

The MAGATS have been protesting against anti-COVID measures since the initial lockdown. Who gives a damn if they protest any action Biden might now take?  But the president himself, true to character, seems somewhat limited by fear of becoming too ham-handed.

Why such a slow process to get to where we know this is going with the US military?  Just order the mandate today.

The same with final approval of the vaccines by the FDA.  Yeah, yeah, Biden has vowed to not interfere with independent agencies.  Biden, please interfere with the FDA so we can remove from the tab;e the bogus MAGA claim of the vaccines being “experimental.”

Biden must also urge if not mandate that school districts “require” not only masks, but vaccines for those over 12. And a twin mandate for those under 12 when their vaccine will be approved, probably in September or October.

I am rather conflicted as to what sort of mandate, or “vaccine requirement” Biden might be able to impose nationwide.  He’s probably right to leave it to the private sector who is looking to be quite aggressive in imposing vax mandates on both employees and customers. The administration, however, should be readily prepared to act with decrees if the private sector push stalls or fails.

No question the MAGAT refuseniks have triggered quite a negative response in public opinion as the Fourth Wave continues to mount.  You can bet that the reluctant turnaround among elected Republicans now supporting vaccination owes more to alarming private polling than it does to any attack of conscience.  It’s hardly just me that’s sick of this crap. So are a great majority of Americans.

Note to readers:

 I want to once again stress that the big issue here is not the person of Donald Trump.. Trump is as much a construction of his followers as he is their oracle.  Same with the Republican Party. It is following the MAGATS, not leading them. Trump was merely clever enough to take stock of the regrets, complaints, suspicions, superstitions, disorientation and despair that had been building among millions of Americans for decades and spin it to his benefit. If not him, it would have eventually been someone else, as it still might be the case in the near future.

The political ground for Trump was well-tilled and wonderfully prepared long before him by Reagan and Bush who popularized greed and arrogance and was further assisted by a line of Democratic presidents who studiously avoided serving the true the interest of their most fervent voters in order to curry favor with a new powerful technological and global financial network.

What we face today is the culmination of that 50-year process that has produced a massive anti-democratic, non-rational, semi-insurgent movement on our doorstep. Trumpism was a startingly effective accelerant for this movement and if we do not take it seriously, if we let complacency reign, if we do not oppose it with effective counter-politics (which we have not to date), we run the risk of being consumed by it. 

I leave you with these strikingly prescient words from the late Carl Sagan who penned this almost 30 years ago as a reminder of just how endemic this Know-nothing force has become:

“I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time -- when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness... The dumbing down of American is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.”― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

If Sagan only knew how prophetic his words would become. ++

Beyond the safe confines of America, my mind drifted away to Iran as Iranians rose up to say enough is enough.  They have no water, no food and no hope.   As I saw this note (when Iran Air launched its' non stop service), I nearly cried as I also flew on this plane and we remained hopeful that the service would continue to Los Angeles:

I finished off as I caught another "blast from the Past" about Scouting In Iran that underscores the continued social transformation which was derailed during the revolution:

As I finished off my "Virtual Walkabout" and supported work for the Daily Outsider, I ran across this courtesy the great Hadi Heidari that fully captures the legacy of the Islamic Republic --I nominated him for the courage award for Cartoonists:

I remain hopeful as the new month dawns in spite of the profound challenges.