August 24, 2016

100 Words -- You Play, You Must Pay

Donald Trump has accused Hillary Clinton of a “pay-to-play” scheme, alleging rich donors gave money to the Clinton Foundation in return for access and favors from then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. (Access, yes; favors, no evidence yet.) If anyone should understand pay-to-play, it’s Donald Trump. During the first Republican debate he admitted donating to any candidate who might help his business interests, including Hillary Clinton. He has also donated $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation. This is what rich people do: they give money to get in the door. Just ask Trump. I’m sure he can explain it to you.

August 23, 2016

100 Words -- Thinning The Herd

Some folks believe that human population has outpaced Earth’s capacity to sustain mankind. They see a thinning of the herd as inevitable, even desirable. If I was any other animal I would probably agree, and unless we change our thinking the herd thinners will prevail by default. Climate change theory predicts extreme weather and the spread of disease. We now see it every day in the news. Sure, they say you can’t link specific weather events and climate, but over time one inevitably becomes the other. IF this is the new normal, then mankind is in for very stormy weather.

August 19, 2016

100 Words -- Aleppo

I’m reading a Chinese sci-fi story with an interesting analogy at its core. Picture an iceberg floating in water. The iceberg is evil. The water is humanity. Both are the same thing, just in different forms. It does seem like our combined acts of individual goodness are unable to aggregate up into a sea change that will wash away evil. The cancer remains, its tendrils tight around our souls. God offers redemption, not a cure. That’s our problem. Can humankind evolve past evil or have we taken a wrong turn, our chance at the good life missed this time around?

August 15, 2016

100 Words -- The Birth Of Skynet?

In the Terminator movies, the trouble begins when the computing colossus Skynet becomes self-aware. This year may have witnessed the arrival of baby Skynet. IBM researchers announced the creation of the first artificial device that truly mimics the operation of the neurons in our brains -- artificial nanoscale stochastic phase-change neurons. I don’t pretend to know how it works, but it uses materials scalable down to billionths of a meter, consumes almost no energy, and is capable of unsupervised learning at speeds far faster than any computer. Here’s what I do know: there’s no fate but what we make for ourselves.

August 14, 2016

100 Words -- How Trump WON'T Lose This election

Previewing themes for his concession speech, Donald Trump says he can only lose if the election is rigged. Yeah, couldn’t be anything else, right? Look, the folks who work the polls are your neighbors. Some do it for the pay, most out of civic duty, none to “rig” an election. The results are certified by election judges from both parties, who ensure the integrity of voting materials before, during and after the election. The judges and poll workers are committed to having as perfect an election as possible. If Trump loses this election, he will do it the old-fashioned way.

August 13, 2016

100 Words -- Hack Attack

John Schindler, writing in, accuses Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin of “weaponizing stolen information for political effect,” including hints of an “October surprise” release of stolen data timed to hurt Hillary Clinton. The cast of characters in Russia’s effort to influence our election includes Julian Assange, Wikileaks founder and admitted Clinton-hater, Roger Stone, former Trump aide and self-proclaimed dirty trickster, and Trump himself, who instead of denouncing such interference called for more Kremlin hacks. Make no mistake, the Russian government is working hard to disrupt our election with attacks aimed at exclusively at Hillary Clinton thus far. You gotta wonder why.

August 10, 2016

100 Words -- Open Mouth, Insert Foot

I’ll stipulate that Donald Trump was not putting out a contract on Hillary Clinton when he called those “Second Amendment people” to arms. Verbal gaffes have become business as usual for Trump. He lacks that filter that tells the rest of us when to think it but not say it. Clinton speaks in white papers. Trump speaks in bumper sticker quotes. That’s okay for stump speeches, but eventually you begin to wonder if Trump can be spontaneous AND thoughtful at the same time. If someone can’t even talk a good game, what does that say about how they will perform?

August 5, 2016

100 Words -- A Bad Mix

The NIH has issued guidelines proposing the resumption of experiments using human stem cells to create animal embryos that are partly human. The idea is to grow human organs inside animals for use in research into diseases. NIH has crafted restrictions to avoid endowing animals with human consciousness or producing human embryos inside animals. Anyone who watched “Jurassic Park” knows all too well that nature doesn’t always respect our wishes for neat boundaries and tidy outcomes when it comes to living things. “Jurassic Park” was fiction, but does anyone think we are certain to keep life from finding a way?

August 3, 2016

100 Words -- Voter Fraud

Donald Trump is already making excuses for why he will lose this election, never a good sign. That his chosen method is to make a reckless and unfounded charge -- "It's a totally rigged system. The elections are rigged.” -- should come as no surprise. This idea that voter fraud is widespread has taken root in the Republican Party’s alternative reality show. Recent court rulings struck down restrictive voting laws passed by Republican-controlled state legislatures because the facts are that voter fraud is almost nonexistent, undermining the primary rationale for the measures. The biggest voter fraud in this election remains Donald Trump.