Ralph Higgins

Ralph Higgins
color pencil sketch by Gayle Higgins

Quotes I Like

"If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools."

– Plato

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Saturday, December 31, 2016

"Happy New Year" - Finally



"Happy New year" may have new meaning to many Americans this time around.  I didn't plan to start writing again, but the disrespect shown for  our new president and the intense hate and hysteria on the left is so ridiculous that I had to blurt out my reaction to it all.  The "Trump Derangement Syndrome" and the pathological detestation for our new president is unprecedented.  

            Stated differently, democrats are going nuts.  They've tried everything from "The Russians ate my homework" to attempts to turn the delegates against the will of the voters at the convention. Nothing has worked.  Now they plan to resist the new president, de-legitimize his presidency, and destroy everything he attempts to do until they can get him out of office. 

            Our man-child president is creating as many obstacles in the next president's path as possible to make Trump's new job more difficult. Obama's latest is the betrayal of our closest ally, Israel, at the United Nations this past week. This will be difficult for Trump to untangle.  Obama and his people are like petulant and disappointed children who didn't get a pony for Christmas.  Obviously the task of prying freedom from liberal fascism is going to be like prying an abalone from a rock.

            The right is always accused of intolerance, but who is really intolerant?  

            Has anyone ever seen conservatives rioting in the streets and threatening to kill those who disagree with them?  Has anyone ever seen tea party conservatives burning businesses, destroying police cars, and beating liberals with protest signs that  say "Support Tolerance or I'll Kill You?"  Have those on the right ever demonstrated the degree of hate and vitriol that we are seeing on the left?  

            American family members have become adversaries and friendships have terminated due to the ideological  chasm that separates them. There were empty chairs at dinner tables all over America this Thanksgiving.

            Even the media has come out of the shadows and tossed off any pretense of objectivity to push the liberal ideology. The media was always on the left, but now in their desperation they don't care who knows it.

            College kids, sometimes known as "snow flakes," are given safe zones where they can cry, vent their terror with primal screams, and hug each other over the pain of losing the chance for a woman president and their fear of a man in the White House or because everyone else is crying.  They'll hug your leg if you get too close to them.  Cornell University even held a "cry in."  Remember - This is the group the polls call "educated" that vote democrat.
  
            Coloring books, modeling clay, and hot chocolate are provided to the college kids and grief counselors are available for consolation. Contrast these wimps with other kids their age who are in the military fighting for their country, many coming home in body bags.  
  
            Even liberal adults are in shock, disbelief and hysteria.  They're crying and hugging too.  Hollywood entertainers are pleading for help.  Some are threatening to leave America.  Money has poured in to pay for their trip.  After living in a dark intellectual vacuum for so long, their eyes can't adjust to the light. 
      
            Now the good news.  Our leaders are currently being chosen based on their qualifications, maturity, and experience rather than on the basis of race and gender. Alpha males are finally taking the reins and it's terrifying to those on the left.  In a feminized culture it is apparently a shock when "daddy" comes home.  

            It's time to realize that there are no "safe zones" left in the world.  Unisex bathrooms and transgender rights are actually less important than dealing with Islamic beheadings and threats from China.  Sadly only half of the country understands this.

            America's new father figure is someone who has been exceptionally successful; someone who  surrounds himself with experts and knows how to lead, how to delegate, and how to build.  Quite a difference from a community organizer who never held a job.

            I once had a home in Scotts Valley in the hills close to Santa Cruz.  Several years ago we had a devastating fire that worked its way up to the summit.  There were sad stories about ranchers opening their barn doors to allow their horses to escape the flames.  Unfortunately the horses were so comfortable in their confinement and afraid of freedom that they returned to the barns where they felt secure and died when the fire took down  the barn.

            My advice to the hysterical  left is to study the issues and our new president's positions on those issues and compare them to Hillary's positions, if you can nail one or two down, and decide intelligently why you want to stay in the barn.
                       

Friday, October 23, 2015

Points to Ponder



My previous blog opened the door to questions about the universe and how it may have begun.  Evidently this topic doesn't interest as many readers as I thought, so I've decided to discontinue my planned series on this subject.  But I do want to hit a few major points before I leave the topic.

            Here is my main point: Many people believe that science and the Bible are mutually exclusive, i.e.you have to believe one or the other.  I believe that science and religion are not enemies, but actually support each other. However it's necessary to consider many of the statements and stories in the Bible metaphorically.  That's not to imply that the Bible is not the inspired word of God.  I just mean that some things are not to be taken literally.  Jesus referred to himself as "the door." Was that a literal description or a metaphor? 

            I pointed out previously that there is no such thing as "settled science."  Science constantly changes as more and more information becomes available.  So if there appears to be a gap between science and the Bible, it could be a misunderstanding of the scripture or perhaps lag time on the part of science to fill the gap.

            Let's assume that the Big Bang Theory is basically correct.  In the early 20th century, astronomer Edwin Hubble applying the Doppler effect  noted that light from distant galaxies shifts toward the red end of the spectrum indicating an expanding universe. He calculated that everything in the universe, including matter, energy, space and even time itself, actually had a beginning. Creation or the big bang didn't take place in time.  Time began when there was matter and motion.

            Stephen Hawking, the most famous living scientist, in his book, "Grand Design", says the laws of physics explain the creation of the universe.  "Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself out of nothing."  But Dr. Francis Collins, head of the Genome project, argues that gravity is "something," therefore gravity and the laws of physics nullify Hawking's definition of "nothing."  And how or by whom were the laws of physics established?

            Dr. John Lennox, British scientist and mathematician,  in his book, "God and Stephen Hawking" says, "The laws of physics can explain how the jet engine works, but not how it came to exist in the first place."

            I don't want to sound like a preacher, but it is true that the universe had to either have a creator or it must be explained by science.  I want to consider some options.

            Some scientists believed that our universe  never had a beginning.  They believed that mass, space and energy had always existed in time, but the big bang theory offered another option.  The term "big bang" was used sarcastically by British astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle, who held tenaciously to the idea that the universe had always existed.   But the scientific evidence of a beginning became overwhelming.

            Dr. George Smoot, the Nobel Prize winning scientist who came up with the big bang theory said that a parallel exists between the big bang theory and the Christian notion of creation.  Smoot was an agnostic, so he was comfortable sitting on the fence. (metaphor)

            It's important to realize that science has its limitations and is not the only path to knowledge and truth. Einstein said,  "Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind."  I said previously that science and religion confirm each other but require an adequate understanding of both.

            So here are some options:

Atheism eliminates the possibility of a creator or a supreme intelligence behind the universe.  Stephen Hawking would be in this category.   

Agnosticism is not sure about a Creator, like George Smoot.

Deism  is the belief that God set the universe in motion but does not interfere with how it runs.  This notion began in the 17th and 18th century and is common today.  Thomas Jefferson was a deist. 

Theism is the belief that God created the universe.  The difference from deism is that God didn't stop there. He continues to be involved in his creation and in the lives of human beings.

            There are subcategories to consider.  There is the New Earth position initiated by James Ussher, an Anglican Archbishop, who dated our earth's age at roughly 6,000 years with six literal days of creation. 

            British biologist Philip Goss, back in1857  tried to explain the scientific evidence of an old earth with the idea that God created the earth in six 24 hour days with the appearance of age.  God just made it look old. But this implies that God is a trickster.

            Regarding the old earth belief, many of the problems with the Genesis account can be ameliorated if it is understood that there could be millions of years between the first verse, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth," and the second verse and those describing the days of creation that follow.  There are several theories about the order and sequence of the days described as well.

            Augustine took "morning" and "evening" figuratively, for example. John Lennox says that the Bible ". . . leaves the time of creation open."

            I've tossed out some ideas to think about.  I know that we'll never have all the answers, but, personally I find it impossible to believe in design without a designer.

             

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Who lit the match?



     I've been goaded  to come out of my catatonic stupor and write something.  There are a ton of topics I'd like to address, but I'm trying to stay away from the dismal condition of America and the ominous paradigm shifts we are seeing on the world stage.  If I state what I really think, my house would be destroyed by a drone.

            Sometimes refuge can be found in the contemplation of bigger things. I've always had an insatiable cosmological curiosity, i.e. questions regarding the origin and nature of the universe from a philosophical perspective.

            How did it all begin?  And why?  Do we exist by design or are we here by accident, magic, or the result of an ambitious amoeba in a primordial mud puddle?  I've always thought that if a human being woke up to find himself or herself on a deserted island the first thing that would come to mind would be "Where am I?  How did I get here?  Why am I here?"  Yet people jump in their cars and head off to work, come home, crack open a beer, and turn on the TV considering nothing more consequential than if Kaeperrnick will hold his job with the Niners.

            So how did it all begin?  There seems to be agreement that there was nothing prior to what many believe was the big bang.  The idea is that the original configuration of the universe was a state of infinite density where all mass, space, time and energy were contained in a single mathematical point with no dimensions.  That's easy for me to say, but to completely comprehend it is above my intellectual pay grade.

            Then came the big bang and the universe exploded into time, space, matter, and motion. This means that the universe had a beginning.  If my memory still works, I think Einstein said that without matter and its motion there could be no time and space.  So time didn't exist prior to this explosive event.

            I've learned not to put all my money on scientific consensus,  because science is constantly changing.  New information can change a hypothesis.  For example, we are told that man-made climate change is "settled science," but those words are never spoken by a true scientist for the reasons I just stated.  There is no such thing as  "settled science." I think the "settled science" sometime around the '70s was that the world was headed for another ice age.

            Prior to Galileo scientists and religious leaders had a geocentric view of the universe.  That's the belief that the earth was the center of our galaxy.  As you know, Galileo paid a price for his heliocentric view that the sun is the center of our solar system. Many more thoughtful scientist  today understand that the sun and other factors control climate more than an SUV or outdoor barbeque.  Climate has been in flux since that big bang or whatever kicked off the program.

            So what caused the big bang?  And why? How did that initial configuration come into existence? Philosopher Bertrand Russell, who was an atheist, took the easy way and stated that the universe was just there and that's all there is to it.  More importantly to many is the idea that science has usurped the biblical account of creation.  Or has it provided a scientific explanation that fits perfectly with the creation account?

            Another thing I've learned is that where it appears that there is a conflict between science and the Bible,  it is due to an incorrect interpretation of the words in the Bible or changes in science. 

            Perhaps the most common error many people make is to take every word in the Bible literally.  The writers use metaphors throughout the Bible in order to communicate to readers at every intellectual and educational level.  For example, is it logical to think that God came to our planet in a physical form, dug around in the mud, made a "mud man" called Adam, blew air in his nose turning him into a living person, then ripped out a rib and turned it into a woman?  (If a man told his wife that she had the value of one of his ribs, the guy would be banned from her "Garden of Eden" and relegated to the couch.)

            We're talking about the Creator of this vast universe.  If He created the universe by His word, why would He need to become human and get muddy? Or is it more accurate to take that story metaphorically?  The conclusion is the same.  The first thing we need to do is to get rid of the notion that science and the Bible are in conflict.  The more we learn, the more they seem to reinforce each other.

            This article was meant to look at theories from science and religion regarding how we got here, but the debate moderator is indicating my time is up and I've barely started.  If there is any interest in this stuff, I'll pick it up next time.  And if you have ideas or questions send a note to me at higgins@digitalpath.net.   













Sunday, September 27, 2015

Olivia

Olivia de Havilland

            Recently Gayle and I watched a documentary on the making of "Gone with the Wind."  Gayle is into old films, especially black and white movies. She likes the old "film  noir" stuff.

            She looks at these films through an artist's eye.  She's interested in scene composition, the use of light, shadows, contrast, and other subtleties found in black and white films.  She  believes that color covers imperfections in films.  In addition, with the absence of graphic sex,  violence,  and profanity, the old films put the emphasis on plot, acting, dialogue, and artistic quality.  I'll admit, I'm beginning to enjoy the old films for the same reasons.    

            What goes on behind the scenes in movie-making always intrigues me, so I found the making of the classic 1939 film, "Gone with the Wind" by producer David O. Selznick very interesting.  (The "O" in his name was only added by Selznick to create a certain rhythm to his full name.)

            More people in the world have seen "Gone with the Wind" than any other movie in history.  The year 1939 was called the "Golden Year" for films. "The Wizard of Oz," "Gone with the Wind,"  and John Wayne's first staring role in "Stage Coach" were just three of many classics that were born in 1939.   
           
           Since a former Los Gatos High School graduate played the role of Melanie Hamilton in "Gone with the Wind", my interest in the film increased significantly.   Olivia de Havilland had only been out of high school five years when she was chosen for her role in "Gone with the Wind."  She and her sister Joan Fontaine both attended Los Gatos High.  Both sisters had moved with their mother to Saratoga, California, after their British parents divorced in 1919. 

            Olivia de Havilland is now 100 years old and has lived in Paris, France, since the mid-fifties. Some interesting facts:  Her sister and she were both nominated for Oscars in the same year. She lost an Oscar to her sister in 1941, which caused problems in their relationship that were never resolved. 

            Olivia had a "thing" for Errol Flynn, which was reciprocated, but neither was aware of their mutual feelings. She had romances with James Stewart, Howard Hughes, and John Huston back in the thirties. Olivia also received the National Medal of Arts award from President Bush in 2008.
           
            Gayle took the photo of Olivia at the Los Gatos centennial celebration, where she was the featured speaker.  She was 72 years old in the photo and still a pretty woman. 
 
            My memories of Olivia go back to when I was in the six or seventh grade.  I was actually in a play. I didn't volunteer. They needed a trumpet player and somehow I was conscripted and I'm sure I went kicking and screaming.  The play was "Macbeth",  directed by Olivia de Havilland and performed in the high school auditorium, if my memory is correct.

            The fact that Olivia would direct a play for the Los Gatos community when she was at the peak of her fame, demonstrates her loyalty and attachment to her Alma Mater and the town of her youth.  I think she had taken a break from acting to raise her children during that particular time.  I can't find any record of that play and am writing what I remember.

            Back to the Macbeth - I was asked to play a fanfare on my trumpet and announce the entrance of some king.  I had to be dressed for the period, so I had to wear leotards as part of the costume.   I looked like a court jester and was more concerned with my skinny legs than the play.  I was also in some of the group scenes, but always in the back. That was my one and only experience as a thespian.  Even the word scares me.

            I had no idea who the Director was and thought her to be old, but very kind and encouraging.  She was in her mid-thirties, but to a pre-teen I guess that's old.  I only learned who Olivia de Havilland was when I was much older. This is one of many times I wish I could go back in time.  

            Occasionally while watching TV I'll say to Gayle, "Did I tell you that I was once 'directed' by Olivia de Havilland?"  Sometimes she'll patronize me and say something like, "Oh, really?  Did you get an Oscar for blowing a fanfare?"  

            I think she's heard so many of my stories from the past that while listening to me tell one she's heard, she'll just hold up the appropriate number of fingers for the times she's heard the story.  She says nothing.  She just holds up the fingers.  As the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield would say, "I don't get no respect."

                                                                                                                     

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Perfect Analogy




The following was evidently written by a UAL Captain.  I haven't changed a word.    

Think of this in the context of Obama's statement prior to his first election when he stated that he would dramatically change America.  He is succeeding by going around Congress, the Constitution, and the people.  It's not ineptitude or incompetence, as many believe.  It's something much worse. 

This article is worthy of serious thought no matter where you stand on the political spectrum.  Unfortunately half the country is oblivious to anything beyond a cell phone and social media.   But they vote.
..................................................................

The PERFECT analogy!!!!
LOCKED OUT OF THE COCKPIT

From a former Navy fighter pilot and a retired UAL Captain

"We are all flying on the Germanwings plane, with a twisted pilot at the  
controls.  Will we just wait, and assume the "Crash Position"?

"The 'real' pilot was locked out of the cockpit.

"That set of circumstances finally revealed the full horror of the crash  
of Germanwings flight 9525.  Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz waited for the  
pilot to leave the cockpit, then locked the door to prevent his  
re-entry. Then Lubitz, for reasons unknown and perhaps unknowable,  
deliberately steered the jet into a harrowing 8-minute plunge ending in  
an explosive 434 mph impact with a rocky mountainside.  150 men,women and children met an immediate, unthinkably violent death.

"Lubitz, in his single-minded madness, couldn't be stopped because  
anyone who could change the jet's disastrous course was locked out.

"It's hard to imagine the growing feelings of fear and helplessness that  
the passengers felt as the unforgiving landscape rushed up to meet  
them.

"Hard ... but not impossible.

"Because America is in trouble.  We feel the descent in the pits of our  
stomachs.

"We hear the shake and rattle of structures stressed beyond their  
limits. We don't know where we're going anymore, but do know it isn't  
good. And above all, we feel helpless because Barack Obama has locked us out.

Image result for photos of obama"He locked the American people out of his decision to seize the national  healthcare system.
 
"Locked us out when we wanted to know why the IRS  was attacking conservatives.
 
"He locked us out of having a say in his decision to tear up our immigration laws, and to give over a trillion dollars in benefits to those who broke those laws.

"Obama locked out those who advised against premature troop withdrawals. 

"Locked out the intelligence agencies who issued warnings about the growing threat of ISIS. 

"He locked out anyone who could have interfered with his release of five Taliban terror chiefs in return for one U.S. military deserter.

"And, of course, Barack Obama has now locked out Congress,the American people, and our allies as he strikes a secret deal with Iran to determine the timeline (not prevention) of their acquisition of nuclear weapons.

"Was Andreas Lubitz depressed, insane, or abysmally evil when he decided to lock that cockpit door and listen to no voices other than those in his head?  Did he somehow believe himself to be doing the right thing?

"The voice recordings from the doomed aircraft reveal that as the jet  
began its rapid descent, the passengers were quiet.  There was probably  
some nervous laughter, confusion, a bit of comforting chatter with  
seatmates, followed by a brief period in which anxiety had not yet  
metastasized into terror.

"It was only near the end of the 8-minute plunge that everyone finally  
understood what was really happening. Only near the end when they began to scream.

"Like those passengers, a growing number of Americans feel a helpless  
dread as they come to the inescapable conclusion that our nation's  
decline is an act of choice rather than of chance. The choice of one  
man who is in full control of our 8-year plunge.

"Lubitz was a nutcase.  But now we are on a 'plane' piloted by a  
narcissistic megalomaniac who has locked everyone out of his cockpit.

"It is very sad that our first African American President will be judged  
in history as the most inept, corrupt, wasteful, subversive,  
destructive, and divisive President ever. A man twice elected because  
of the color of his skin rather than the content of his character.

"Electing the former First Lady as president, who also happens to be a narcissistic megalomaniac, because she is a woman will likewise result in the continued practice of semantics over substance and deception over reality."