Len Zwelling

Northern Light

I took a trip to the northeast on December 11. It was my younger sister’s 70th birthday and her husband was having a surprise party for her. I couldn’t miss that even if it meant traveling to Pittsburgh as winter approached.

As soon as I walked out the door of the air terminal toward the car rental area I remembered. I remembered the northeast in winter. The sun hangs low and the sky is grey. Of course, it was cold, but the natives thought the wind-blown forties was actually mild for this time of year. They were right. The following morning it was 32 and there were patches of ice by the side of the road, even though the sky was a painted Carolina blue. Of course, on so many levels, I froze.

Go To Our Website

These have become the four worst words in the English language.

You make a telephone call hoping for service from a real human being, preferably one not sitting in a call center in Mumbai. Instead, you have to go through a series of menus, pressing various keys on your cell phone and finally being placed on a one-hour hold, BUT, “if you would prefer not to wait, you can get excellent service and answers to all of your questions by going to our website” says the recorded message. Personally, I have had enough of this nonsense.

The Silent Majority

At least two blog readers have taken me to task about my piece on December 15 called “A Nation Divided.” In that blog post I discuss the various factions within the Democratic and Republican Parties and how they are at war with one another. The two critics pointed to a group I neglected. They both called it the Silent Majority, a term that harkens back to 1968 and the Nixon campaign for President during the turbulent years of the protests against the Vietnam War and for civil rights. Then, Nixon’s claim was that there was a huge swath of Americans who were middle of the road conservatives who were not protesting anything and thus were being ignored. He appealed to these people who he called the Silent Majority and he won. Twice.

The Lesson Of Pearl Harbor

One of the issues being batted around in the blogosphere and elsewhere is what was the truth about World War II and the American involvement therein. Books like Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation and TV shows like Band of Brothers and movies like Saving Private Ryan glorify and emphasize the righteousness of the American cause and how that patriotism was embodied in the everyday foot soldier of WW II. More revisionist historians paint a far uglier picture of a horrible war and the real sentiment of the American GI to get it over with and get home. The latter must be somewhat true given the deep reluctance Americans had about entering the European war that had begun two years before until Pearl Harbor. Then we were all in.

Cloud

“Both Sides Now” is a famous folk song made popular by Judy Collins in the 1960s. The song was written by Joni Mitchell and its original name was “Clouds.” The singer relates the meaning of clouds, love and life and it kick started the career of both women. But cloud has a whole new meaning now.

In the cloud is where my son Andrew lives. He works in the cloud for Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the attached is the video he just produced for AWS and its customer Rubicon. I find it fascinating and not just because my son produced it. It shows how the cloud is being employed by Rubicon which services the waste management needs of municipalities (in this case Santa Fe, New Mexico) in making the collection of garbage and recycling operationally efficient, cost effective and carbon footprint neutral. As I understand it, it is the computing power of Amazon Web Services that allows such projects to take flight and part of my son’s job (I think) is to convince more end users and middle level providers to utilize the power of the cloud to provide their customers with better service as well as keep the environment as clean as possible.

A Nation Divided

It is both sad and undeniable that the United States and its government are hopelessly divided between two groups. Loosely, these two groups correspond to the two major political parties, but it’s not that simple for it’s really more than two groups.

Trump’s Plan To Win In 2024:Hint-It’s Not By Getting The Most Votes

The United States was not designed to be a democracy. It’s a representative government and an unfair one at that because the electors who actually determine who is to be President do not represent the same number of voters. Usually, the electors from the smaller states represent fewer people than the electors from the larger states because each state, regardless of its size, has at least three electors (one for each senator and representative in Congress) and in Wyoming that translates into far fewer citizens per elector than in California. Nonetheless, that’s the system in the Constitution.

He Made Me Do It: Elizabeth Holmes’ Defense

Readers of this blog know that there are a couple of recurrent themes that I write about. Guns is certainly one. I’m against them except for policemen, soldiers, and hunters. But there are others and a trial going on in California right now illustrates one of my favorites or really two of my favorites: conflict of interest and fraud among the rich and powerful.

As most of you will remember, Elizabeth Holmes was the much praised, black turtlenecked, deep-voiced, blonde bombshell CEO of Theranos, a company that purported to have developed a machine that would allow multiple clinical tests to be done on a single drop of blood

Trying To Make Sense Of The Current Congress

Greg Weiner is a political scientist at Assumption University who wrote a piece in The New York Times on November 29 that goes a long way to explaining why there is such a mess on Capitol Hill at the moment.

To summarize a long op-ed succinctly, passing legislation is supposed to be hard and take a while. The more transformative the legislation, the harder it should be to pass and the longer it should take to do so. Remember please that it took about 14 months to pass the Affordable Care Act in 2010 and that legislation, watered down as it was, passed without a single Republican vote. This was not the case with the equally transformative Medicare and Medicaid legislation of the mid-1960s where some Republican support was gleaned by a very powerful President and a large Democratic majority in the Congress. Is that the case now? It is not.

Abortion: The Question With No Answer

It matters little what your personal beliefs are with regard to the legality of abortion. As of this moment, Roe v. Wade rules in the United States and no state can limit a woman’s right to legal and safe abortion services up to the time of fetal viability, usually set at 24 weeks of gestation.

On December 1, the Supreme Court heard a significant challenge to Roe in its having to determine the constitutionality of Mississippi’s law to limit abortion to pregnancies under 15 weeks in duration. If the Court, decides that the Mississippi law is constitutional, it would substantively overturn Roe.