Stephen Kahn

Slow Extinction #1

In Uncategorized on January 16, 2015 at 3:25 pm

Slow Extinction.

In less than two weeks I will turn 71. As my father died at the age of 43, I am a bit surprised to find myself alive and fairly healthy, though I can feel my body breaking down slowly and I know that I will die. I have tried to prepare for death in a responsible fashion, creating a will and filling out my final medical directives (e.g.. don’t pound on my chest if I go into cardiac arrest, don’t keep me on life support if I am brain dead, etc.).

As there is some dementia in my family, I suspect there is a considerable likelihood that I will loose my mind before my physical body dies.

Just as each individual human dies, species die. We call it going extinct. Perhaps the most glamorous (to us) extinct species are the dinosaurs. We are still arguing about what wiped them out. It might have been an asteroid hitting the earth or some other phenomena. (Check Wikipedia for more information on these scientific arguments).
It is entirely possible that our species, known as homo sapiens, will go extinct in the 21st Century. A book titled THE SIXTH EXTINCTION by Elizabeth Kolbert argues that humanity will destroy itself. The destruction of our species might happen rapidly. It might occur because of a natural event such as an asteroid hitting the earth or a rampant plague such as ebola running through the entire population of the planet. It might happen because of actions we take such as engaging in nuclear warfare, or generating plagues as weapons of war. It might happen slowly by a variety of causes, though at the moment, global warming seems to top the list.

Is there anything we can do about it? Should we do anything about it?


AE Meets RG, scheduled to turn into RD

In Uncategorized on February 4, 2013 at 3:02 am

I’ve told this to David. Perhaps the three or four remaining readers will want to discover this. Millions of years ago, I wrote a blog about a little girl with, real name sort of “AE,” with two mommies and two daddies, chronicling what a brat she was from the ages of two to seven years, for her privacy calling her Random Granddaughter (RG for short). Some of the twenty or thirty or so occasional readers suggested that I present the blog to her some day. As I am getting old, & perhaps near to death (more info after I get the results of my first PSA test next week), I thought to myself it is time to reveal to granddaughter that she has a hidden and secret past and a secret name perhaps revealing she is the lost princess Anastasia, heiress to the Czars.

One year of her secret chronicle was lost forever, perhaps consumed by a wicked troll, but more likely the result of an Internet Server (foolishly not backed up) crashing. I am printing (a slow and laborious process) all the remaining blog posts, which run from 2007 to 2011, covering her misbehavior from the age of 3 to the age of 7. (At which time she learned to read and could no longer be hidden from herself.)

A birthday party for Mrs. Random and for AE was held at the best Danish pastry shop in Seattle and at the small house in the medium-sized city, located near the NE Library. AE is getting her ears pierced for her 9th birthday. The cast is off her arm, broken while learning gymnastics. She will appear in a minor role in Midsummer Night’s Dream. 

I showed her a huge binder. I said, as your crazy grandpa, I have been keeping a secret history of you. As some of it is too adult for a nine year old girl to read, you will get it, if you grandma (who doesn’t much approve) or your two mommies (who just now are learning about it) don’t try to block it when you are 18 years old. 

I am printing it all out and punching all the pages, reversing the usual front to back blog order, and putting it in this huge binder. I asked, “What will happen on your 18th birthday?”

Although she attends a private school for young geniuses, and allegedly has an astronomical IQ, and shows genuine artistic talent (not to mention a definite prima donna artistic temperament, though much improved table manners and willingness to eat a variety of foods, her math skills are mediocre. She had trouble calculating how long until she is 18.

However, when I asked, “What happens when you turn 18?” she was all over it, instantly responding I will be an adult!” (This bodes ill for any mommies who hope to be “control freaks.”)

I said, as the evil, or at least indiscreet and not politically correct grandpa, I task you to demand the Random Granddaughter secret blog print out on your 18th birthday, whether you are studying at Pearson College on Vancouver Island, or at Oberlin College in Ohio, or at the University of Washington in Seattle, or run off to Sydney Australia to study art with Trucie/Woo, or to Taiwan to meet your Chinese cousin, or married to a boy or a girl, or pregnant, or in orbit, or taking over the world. She listened politely and then tossed her reminder note on the floor carelessly and began to bat a birthday balloon around with Grandma and Mama. I read the Martha Stewart Grandma Helps RG Make Chocolate Cupcakes to Mommy who approved of it. The Mommies debated whether to add “RD” to her nicknames. 

Chances that she will get the blog, read it, be interested in it I put at 10%. Chances that she will become a Christian? If she reads what I have to say, and thinks calmly about the matter, I put at about 10%. However, as she is currently mourning and  grieving the death just before Christmas  of her sweet cat Sylvie, who knows. At the moment, she is wearing a bracelet with a small cross. So the matter is a free for all.

Just remember, AE/RG, both Sylvie, the darling little black and white kitty, and Crazy Grandpa, will be pattering around in Heaven keeping an eye on you. And several chickens, and perhaps a dog or two. So decide wisely.

Canada Train Trip and Class System (Part 1 of ?)

In Good news, Humor on January 11, 2013 at 12:54 am

Pete shined the bat signal in the cloudy midday sky. As always, I am confused. About what? Well, at the age of 68, just confused. For example, what should I post about? If I post about my main activity (starting an “atheist church” on Whidbey), I run the risk of irritating my Christian readers). If I post about anything else, I am sure I am irritating/boring all four or five or six of my readers). Well, I was going to write about our train trip across Canada. So I will. I better get an answer from Pete, at least.

As we left Vancouver, we saw wires running on poles alongside the train tracks. I assumed they were power lines. One of the train crew helpfully told us that they were telegraph line wires, from the pre-telephone line days when the train tracks were first laid across Canada. The railroad finds it too expensive to tear them down. If I knew Morse Code, I suppose I could use the lines to send a secret message to . . . whom? The Taliban? Do they know Morse Code to send secret messages the CIA would never spot. Is Morse Code compatible with the Koran?

An interesting thing we discovered as we crossed Canada was that “Via Rail,” the passenger train system crossing Canada is actually three different railroads imperfectly merged into one system. Each section of the railroad has different crews, different cultures, different economies, and different virtues and flaws.

The Western part of Canada has the best economy. The service was the best, at least as far as meals and crew chipperness. My wife and I were traveling “first class,” (something we could not quite grasp or deal with, never having traveled first class on anything before in our lives). Meals were excellent and the crewfolk were cheerful and upbeat. However, every silver lining has a cloud.

The silver lining in Western Canada was that the first class crew assumed that the first class passengers knew the drill. At various points during the trip, we had to switch trains in various train stations. What my wife and I did not understand (not being part of the “landed gentry” or whatever they are called in Canada), is that first class passengers have special semi-hidden “lounges” in the train stations where they first class passengers gather and drink themselves silly. (My wife and I are just naturally silly, without needing that much alcohol to assist the process.) After a while, the lounge crew guide the addled passengers to their first class cars.

My wife and I continually lined ourselves up with the third class (steerage?) passengers and thus finding ourselves at the wrong gate or in the wrong line. The train crew, doing their best imitation of supercilious English butlers would look at our tickets and say, “Oh, no, madam and sir, you are supposed to be at Gate 17.” [instead of Gate 4 or wherever we were standing]. Although I have never been to Europe, as Canada is a combination of English and French people], I presume Canadian train staff have cross-bred to create a kind of impeccable disdain that merges to form a kind of genetically modified SUPER- SUPERCILIOUS monstrosity. So whenever we found ourselves in the incorrect line (every time we made a transfer) the staff would look at us with a polite expression of “I thought everyone in the effete upper class was born knowing what line to stand in as they were being driven to the slaughterhouse. . .”