MAN’S QUEST FOR IMMORTALITY

Posted: August 12, 2018 in Uncategorized

THIS WILL APPEAR IN THE FARMERVILLE GAZETTE, FARMERVILLE, LOUISIANA,  THE WEEK OF 8/12/2018
Man has long sought immortality. This is not only referring to life after death but immortality of life on earth.
Man’s quest for life after death began as far back as Neanderthal times. Excavations at an ancient cave in La Chapelle-aux-Saints, France discloses a dug grave and other burials show that the deceased Neanderthals had been buried with artifacts. One grave disclosed the use of flowers.
Over the millenniums, burials became more elaborate and the bodies were prepared for an afterlife. One cave burial in Israel discloses a female buried with 71 tortoise shells. An adjacent pit yielded a large number of bones and the remains of at least three wild cattle. This displays mankind progressing to a higher level of burial and connection to a higher level of spiritualism while festivities were held to honor the dead.
By 5,000 BC the Chinese were burying their dead in wood coffins but it was at that period when Egypt began to look at burials in a way to actively seek eternity. In 4,500 BC the Egyptians were placing pots filled with food with the burials. Later more elaborate provisions were placed in the graves with the dead. Stone or pottery vessels, eye makeup palettes, flint tools, and beads were left with the dead to help in the afterlife. By 2,500 BC the Great Egyptian Pyramids began to be built. These massive monuments housed the remains of one king; a king that desired eternal life and an easy transformation to the world of the afterlife. Two thousand years later and the Mayans of Yucatan were burying their kings and high priests on the top of the pyramids under temples that were erected there.
While the intent of the pyramids was to provide a platform to launch a noble leader to the heavens; there was another consequence. This unintended value was immortality on earth. While the leader was dead and gone, the monuments he built lived after him. In essence a certain point of immortality was achieved. Few people have heard of the Egyptian king Khufu but most people have heard of the great pyramids in Egypt; one of which is his tomb.
As time went by, the ability to achieve life after death did not require the earthly material goods that were required in earlier civilizations. World leaders still erected massive monuments that would live after them and thus achieve a certain level of immortality on earth. The Greeks constructed the Acropolis while Ankur Wat rose from the jungles of Cambodia. Today countries vie to construct the tallest building in the world and then have bragging rights to the monument.
There were examples of man actually trying to achieve immortality on earth, not symbolically in what was built but by truly living forever. Legend has it that Ponce De Leon explored Florida while searching for the Fountain of Youth. While this may not have been true, the search for continual youth is with us today. One only needs to watch late night infomercials and witness the new salves and creams that have been developed to help the user defy age.
We, that live in Union Parish, have an opportunity for our own small association with immortality. Recently the Union Museum of History and Art commissioned an artist to sculpt an artistic piece that would represent the water resource of the area. This will be placed on the courthouse squire. For the individual that seeks his or her small part of architectural immortality and would like to financially support the Museum, a brick can be purchased with the name of an individual, family or company permanently etched in it. Anyone wishing to purchase this family legacy can contact Brittany Unkle, Museum Board Chairman, or Jean Jones, Curator, at the museum on main street. Happy immortality.

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THIS WILL APPEAR IN THE BERNICE BANNER, BERNICE LOUISIANA THE WEEK OF 8/12/2018
I remember my mother telling me that the best way to stay away from a fight was to not discuss religion or politics. There is now another subject that seems to garner heated discussion; global warming.
The argument about global warming is more an argument pertaining to what is causing it and not if it does exist. The industrialist and the oil and gas participant will declare that it is only natural for global warming to occur and it has been recorded for millennia. On the other side of the argument, the environmentalist feels that this incident of global warming is primarily man made and it is man that must make changes to stop the progression of global warming if it is not too late all ready.
There is also a third group of people that do not believe that global warming exists and global warming is some type of conspiracy that is being told to sensationalize, for some reason, the warm summers we are experiencing. This is the group that needs to pull their heads out of the sand, shake the gravel out of their hair and take a look around them.
Global warming, also known as the politically less sensitive term “climate change”, is the average temperature of the Earth’s climate system and its related effects. This change is viewed over a one hundred year period. Since 1920 the earth has experienced a temperature rise of about 2 degrees Fahrenheit. Not bad but it is a trend that is expected to continue to increase from .5 degrees in low gas emission models to as high as 8.6 degrees in the direst prediction models. Also the rate of temperature rise has been accelerating meaning that the world is getting hotter at a faster pace
Many of the climatic change predictions that were presented in the 1950s and 60s are being observed at this time. Higher temperatures are with us today and are being recorded and used in the global warming models.
The ice caps are melting and the oceans are rising. Glaciers are retreating and what was once ice covered valleys are now dry land. In the South Pacific Solomon Islands, five small islands have disappeared beneath the waves. The islands hosted dense foliage over 300 years old. Another island lost approximately 50% of its size with the loss of 11 houses and the remaining 25 houses are in peril. Five additional islands are in jeopardy of disappearing. The future that climate change poses to sea level increases does not pose a good prospect for cities sitting along the ocean shores. Some projects identify a one foot rise in the sea levels by 2050 and other climatic projects disclose a rise of as much as six feet by 2100. Our Louisiana tidal lands and marshes will be devastated. New Orleans, New York, Boston, London, Tokyo, and any city sitting next to the oceans will be in jeopardy of severe flooding and this possibility will be multiplied with the onset of the increase of severe storms. We need look no further than superstorm Sandy and the mass destruction that took place in New York City and New Jersey. As water rises and storms become more severe, mass expenditures will be spent to attempt to counter the effects of climate change.
A major impact to the world will be the ability to grow crops and thus feed a specific geographic population. The subtropics are predicted to see expanded deserts due to rainfall reduction. In the last one hundred years the Sahara Desert has grown by 10%. This expansion moves it south toward the jungles of darkest Africa and major rivers such as the Nile and the Congo. As food disappears mass migrations will take place. We saw this a thousand years ago when dramatic draught conditions caused the Mayans of Mexico to abandon their beautiful cities and melt into the jungles.
Weather patterns have been predicted to change due to global warming and can be observed at this time. While we may be getting the same average rainfall for a given year, the rain is falling erratically. We see high levels of rain over a short period of time, sometimes leading to flooding, and then we go into draught conditions for a period of time. Not a good scenario for sustaining human life in a geographical area.
Mother Nature has a way to take back what was stripped from her. There is a global warming model that predicts what happens when the arctic ice melts and the glaciers of Greenland pour fresh water into the North Atlantic. The Gulf Stream is disrupted and Northern Europe is no longer warmed by the current. At that point the earth cools and thus global warming could lead to the next ice age. You can’t mess with Mother Nature.

 

THIS WILL APPEAR IN THE BERNICE BANNER THE WEEK OF 7/29/2018
Last week it was announced that a Saudi Arabian flagged tanker carrying two million barrels of crude to Egypt had been attacked and hit by a missile fired by Iranian backed rebels in Yemen. While the damage was not dire, the message was clear, the potential was understood and the consequences were enormous; Saudi Arabia suspended crude transport in the Red Sea.
In the early 1980s Saddam Hussein invaded post-revolution Iran with the hopes of a quick victory and thus securing much of the Iranian oil fields. The invasion failed, Iran counterattacked and for years the world watched the two countries become mired in a World War I style war. Trenches, barbed wire, large human wave attacks and massive causalities ensued and lasted for years. No one won.
Iraq hoped to draw the United States into the war on its’ side by attacking the oil shipping port at Kharg Island. It was hoped that Iran would close the Straights of Hormuz thus stopping all tanker shipments through the Straights and then prompt America to enter the war and reopen the Straights, The majority of Saudi oil and all of Kuwaiti oil went through the straights. The ploy didn’t work and Iran instead attacked Iraqi tankers and Iraq’s ally Kuwaiti which was transporting Iraqi oil. America looked to a primary mandate of the United States Navy, to keep the sea lanes open. The United States began escorting tankers from the loading ports in Kuwait through the Straights of Hormuz. At the same time Iraq attacked the Iranian tankers.
War does have its’ consequences. In 1987 an Iraqi aircraft erroneously fired on a U.S. Warship, the USS Stark. The missile hit the ship and killed 37 American sailors and wounded 21 others. This was not the only incident of friendly fire due to incompetency of Iraqi’s military. ARAMCO had a huge offshore project underway and was building several new offshore Gas Oil Separation Plants (GOSPS). A Korean contractor was installing the platform and had a large workforce and fleet of barges on site. One evening with several hundred construction workers eating supper a tug pulled along side the barge. Just as it began loading water an Iraqi missile slammed into the side of the tug hitting the large engines. Had the tug not been next to the barge the missile would have blown up inside the dining facility.
Saudi Arabia had a pipeline that crossed the country allowing ships to load at the ARAMCO facilities in Yanbu on the Red Sea. This helped to thwart the threat of tankers being stopped at the Straights of Hormuz on the eastern cost of Saudi and instead ship oil from the west coast. It was felt that a larger pipeline was required so we built a larger East/West pipeline and this would then provide an even larger capacity of oil to ship at the Red Sea port. Additionally, Saudi Arabia gave permission for Iraq to build a pump station in Saudi Arabia so that Iraq could use the old pipeline and thus bypass shipping oil through the Straights of Hormuz, remove threats from Iran and provide a greater level of support for Iraq. When Iraq invaded Kuwait one of the first actions Saudi Arabia instituted was closing the pipeline for Iraqi use.
The attack last week on tankers in the Red Sea adds a new dimension to the war of words against Iran. What was once considered a clear and safe passage has now proven to be a possible threat. One thing is certain, whatever the threat and wherever it is, America will continue with its’ mandate to keep the sea lanes open.

THIS WILL APPEAR IN THE FARMERVILLE GAZETTE THE WEEK OF 7/29/2018.
Our world, our lives and our short period of time on Earth is a journey filled with highs and lows, excitement and boredom, life and death. Every once in a while, if a we are fortunate enough to experience a special moment in time, all the planets align, we look to the heavens in prayer and the majority of the world is locked in unity. This happened to us once that I can remember, and I was fortunate enough to have been stuck in the middle of it. Even though it has been twenty-nine years, the memories are still vivid, and they seem like only yesterday.
I had returned to Saudi Arabia on July 31st 1999 following a stressful trip filled with remorse for leaving the family, a bout of pneumonia and then missing my flight by three minutes in London. On the way to the Shreveport Airport I heard a quick news line on KWKH that Saudi Arabia was hosting negotiations in Jeddah between Iraq and Kuwait. Saudi was nonconfrontational in its international relations and would negotiate whenever possible to prevent conflict. When I arrived in Arabia It was hot, very hot, but that was the norm
On August 1st I spent my typical Wednesday evening at the Abqaiq dining hall having dinner with my three British friends. Wednesday is Friday in the Muslim world and we were able to indulge in a shrimp dinner to celebrate the start of the week end. Following evening chatter I returned to my apartment and listened to the slanted news on television only to hear that the talks in Jeddah had adjourned and both Iraq and Kuwait agreed to meet at some later time. I went to bed and turned on the British Broadcast Corporation (aka BBC) on my radio and heard that the talks in Jeddah had collapsed and Iraq was massing forces on the Kuwaiti border. My first reaction was that Iraq was only “saber rattling” and nothing would come of it. Kuwait had bankrolled Iraq with its’ war against Iran and had even let Iraq use the island of Failaka as a forward observation point to help protect oil tankers. I drifted off to sleep as BBC stopped broadcasting at mid-night.
At 6:00 AM on August 2nd I was awaken by the traditional trumpet blare that signifies that BBC was coming back on the broadcast airways. The first thing heard from the network was that all programming was suspended, and all broadcasting would be focused on the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq. War was upon us.
Sanctions against Iraq immediately went into place. Britain warned that concessions would not work in the Mid-East and would only lead to future war. Prime Minister Maggie Thatcher pushed America for nothing less than total removal of Iraqi forces and told President Bush, “don’t go wobbly knee on me George”.
Thirty-two countries took up the call to join a coalition against Iraq and troops poured into Saudi Arabia. It is said that war makes strange bedfellows and Desert Storm was no exception. Syria even sent in troops and as they landed they were quickly loaded on busses, sent to the north and were never seen in public. Little Senegal sent several hundred elite French Foreign Legion inspired forces to Saudi. I was near them when an Iraqi missile slammed into their compound near Safaniya and later a plane crash claimed 192 lives. For once the world was united and due to the collapse of the Soviet Union there was no opposition in the United Nations to the military campaign. What a difference a week makes.
CNN broadcast from the front lines and for the first time ever live broadcasts were allowed into Saudi Arabia. Female American military drivers drove the streets of Saudi Arabia and inspired internal change. Finally, last month the same right was granted to the female citizens of Saudi. American and British citizens living in Arabia turned out to welcome and support the arriving troops; the only time in the history of the world that a foreign army arrived in a country where their own citizens played such a large effort in providing aid and comfort.
When the war ended, for one brief moment, the world was at peace. Unfortunately, a great opportunity passed us by. Instead of building on the successes of this great coalition that was constructed on brinkmanship and leadership and trust, the world slowly slipped back to where it was prior to Desert Storm. Paradise lost.

Every country has some level of concern and some conceived point of acceptance as it relates to the way the world views it. For the most part this is achieved by the behavior of the country, the success of the country and the way the country interacts with other countries on the planet earth. Last year while traveling and exploring the Great American West I realized that America has a diplomat that surpasses the humanized actions that leads to a favorable view of our Great Nation. Last week I read a post from my friends, the Thomas’s, that live in California. They had the exact same observation that I witnessed last summer.
While walking around the beautifully designed landscape of Grand Canyon Village and observing the spectacular view of the canyon I noticed that there were numerous conversations being held by tourists to the National Park; in foreign languages. Orientals soaking up all that the park had to offer, German visitors walking along the canyons edge and British tourists with their distinctive accents were all there. There was no political rhetoric and no venomous dialogue being spouted but instead just pure enjoyment of the beauty that nature provided to a fortunate country. There were so many foreign visitors that I was prompted to laughingly ask my wife if anyone speaks English around here.
The throng of foreign visitors was not limited to Grand Canyon. We stayed in a private campground near the park. A small motorhome pulled into the site next to us and I struck up a conversation with the driver. The family was from Germany and they had rented the motorhome and was traveling from Las Angeles to various parks around the West. The driver was exhilarated with the National Parks and had opted to visiting the wonders that our natural beauty has to offer instead of a trip to Disney World. He also commented about how spacious his motorhome was as compared to similar vehicles in Europe. A few days later I had a similar conversation in Utah with a visitor from Holland. Again he opted to rent a motorhome and tour our country. I realized that an American diplomat existed in America’s beauty and the parks systems that are offered at the National and State level. My friends from California were at Mt Ranier National Park in Washington and observed the numerous foreign languages being spoken. Amid the clanking of hikers throwing on back packs and snapping them into place the voices or foreign visitors was prevalent.
We are blessed to have the diverse natural beauty available to us in America and we are fortunate to have had the leadership to see what this means to America and take the steps to protect the beauty for future generations. Our National Parks Service was founded in 1916 under Woodrow Wilson. Visitors to the parks has reached an unprecedented 330 million visitors in 2017 with foreign tourists in many parks accounting for 20% of this number.
What a wonderful way to display everything good about America by having our foreign guests experience the beauty of America’s abundance of natural beauty.

I have written several times about our need for a strong votech program in Union Parish, Louisiana and the Nation. For a generation it was felt that a person needs a full four-year college degree to get ahead. It was also felt that making a living with ones hands was something less than desirable. We have reached a point in our country’s history where we can look back and say that we, the United States, has made a serious miscalculation.
The men and women who used the pick and shovel, who pulled the levers on the heavy construction equipment and who burned the rods to weld a great nation together and who carried the country on their shoulders are now leaving the workforce. When my own son entered the pipeline industry he told me that everyone in management was old out there. He landed on a major point as we are observing an entire generation that was not involved in the trades and is now leaving a void in our great workforce.
To compound the issue of a lack of skilled labor, the American economy is on fire. This growth in the American economy job force as well as a world economic expansion requires men and women to be well trained with a strong work ethic to continue to grow our nation with a viable work force.
The announcement that the old Farmerville High School will be turned into a branch of the North Delta Community College is a wonderful win/win for our community. A school that has been a hallmark of education for many generations will be saved the wrecking ball and will instead become a hone for higher education. When I worked in Arabia, the vice president of exploration for ARAMCO told me that after World War II he fought golden gloves matches in the Farmerville gym, a gym that was at one time the largest in the deep south. A future Miss Louisiana was crowned the Watermelon Queen in the schools auditorium; the same auditorium that saw band concerts, Ma Mitches Kindergarten Pageant and students being led in prayer by the newly formed Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Thousands of good citizens walked these halls; some gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our great nation.
Farmerville High School is not just a collection of brick and mortar. Farmerville High School is a legacy to our community, our state and our nation and through the efforts of local leaders and politicians it will continue to turn our individuals that will continue to build our society.
The “trade school” that once lived in Farmerville turned out a work force that provided a living for many young men and women in Union Parish. It was a very dicey situation when it came to getting a votech school in Farmerville. I talked to the man that introduced the bill into the legislature to have the “trade school” built in Farmerville. Both Union Parish and Lincoln Parish were vying for the school. In the 1950s Union Parish was viewed as a small backwoods parish with many legislatures in South Louisiana not even knowing where Union Parish was. Even though not being well known, Union Parish received the funding for the school and Farmerville built its’ votech.
Farmerville, Union Parish and North Louisiana now has an opportunity to change gears and expand on what the school originally produced. We need good solid citizens that can work at a high level in the construction trades. Medical training programs that support the graduates of medical and nursing programs are in demand. My own daughter graduated from Delta in Farmerville and continued on to become a registered nurse following graduation from Louisiana Tech and the University of Louisiana Monroe on her way to becoming a Nurse Anesthetist following graduation from Texas Christian University. All of this was made possible due to our LPN program at Farmerville. Clerical, accounting, bookkeeping and computer skills are a must for a growing economy and these opportunities must be developed at the votech level.
As the construction and curriculum development transpires, there will be a need for volunteers to help with the school. This institution of higher education will be made much stronger with the support of the community. But for now, lets’ revel in the knowledge that we will be getting a new community college and at the same time saving a major part of our heritage.

THIS WILL APPEAR IN THE BERNICE BANNER THE WEEK OF 7/15/2018.
We look as our world as being static, never changing with norms and customs remaining in place forever. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the early days of civilization, changes in society moved slowly. Egypt took a thousand years to garner major society changes. As time has gone by, changes in a country have evolved at an increasing pace. This is no more apparent than our own country and how we have morphed our political parties over the last one hundred years.
In 1924 the Democratic convention was held in New York City. The Tammany Hall delegates from New York wanted the KuKluxKlan to be a plank item to write the KKK out of the party. Amid jeers and screams William Jennings Bryant tried to have the vote tabled and not brought up. He was not a pro KKK advocate but he did realize that if the vote was taken and the KKK was written out of the Democratic party, the party would be split and any chance of winning the White House would be lost. Eventually the issue was voted on and by a majority of just one vote, the KKK was not written out of the democratic party. At the time the Republican party was the party of color. Today all this has changed, and the Democratic party is seen as the party of the minorities.
Louisiana has on many occasions as being a totally corrupt political machine by many living outside the state. Time magazine once referred to Louisiana as America’s banana republic. When living oversees it was difficult to defend America and there were occasions when it came close to blows as I felt obligated to defend the legacy of our great state.
In fact Louisiana was a leader in American change when liberal values were needed. In the late 20s the Great Depression was in full swing and families were hurting. Louisiana took the lead in public school education as it instituted a free text book policy for all children in schools. This was the first state to have a free textbook policy, I remember my father telling me how children would come to school and would go sit outside for lunch. They would reach into their lunch bags, pull out a cold potato eat it for lunch. Huey Long changed that with free lunches for children; again, the first state to institute such a policy. When Louisiana silently screamed for medical help, the state answered. Massive charity hospitals were built around the state and people that could not afford medical treatment were then treated to good medical service. Louisiana had again take the lead in medical care for the masses.
At this time we are at a juncture where change is required in our great state. It is normal that we institute policies to help with a major social issue or problem. Unfortunately we do not put in a strategy to evolve out of social policies and many times these laws make Americans addicted to government aid and entitlement programs. Louisiana has had a financial crisis and our leaders are having to make hard decisions to continue to move our state forward. Louisiana will be a morphing state that can take care of its’ citizens while at the same time reallocate funds to rebuild its’ infrastructure and education systems. A balancing act that will take extreme measures and great leadership will be observed.
Recently I have been accused of being a Republican conservative while a week later of being a liberal. I see this with amusement as I guess this makes me neither a conservative nor a liberal and instead an American.