Fireflies are back. Each spring I wait for their return because they add just the right touch of charm to beautiful summer evenings. Even though the most brilliant lightning bugs are those of Asia, exhibitions staged by North America's miraculous flashing bugs are sufficiently dazzling to captivate and charm us on summer evenings. In fact, one evening last week I was so enchanted by the lightning bug performance, that I decided to do some research. The technical information that follows comes from the Encyclopedia of Insects and Arachnids, published by Crown
Lightning bugs have transparent abdominal cells under which they store the chemical luciferin. By combining oxygen with this luciferin, fireflies create a chemical reaction which results in light. The light they produce is less than 1/40 of a candle power, but on a dark night it is bright enough to attract firefly mates. From a human perspective, these dazzling little lights simply decorate our summer evenings, but to the firefly their lights are indispensable to courtship.
Every six seconds, the most common North American male firefly, photinus pyralis, flicks on his light for less than a second. Females, most of which are flightless, hide in the grass or weeds and flash their replies so males can eventually locate them. One can almost hear the nearest firefly as he zips by softly chanting, "one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three, one thousand four, one thousand five, one thousand six flash."
Seeing fireflies flashing everywhere puts one in mind of Malibu Beach during spring break. One thousand one, one thousand two flex muscles. One thousand one, one thousand two, smile. With both fireflies and Malibu Beach hopefuls, chemical reaction seems to be at the heart of the matter. The unsuspecting male firefly is sometimes invited to dinner by the flashes of the cannibalistic female, photuris pennysivanica, but when he arrives, he himself becomes dinner.
Artificial lights are also a danger to fireflies which are drawn to headlights and killed by onrushing cars or lured to porch lights where hungry frogs and toads can eat them. Signals that pass between beach goers during spring break may, upon occasion, also have undesirable consequences; but hopefully, mutual attractions at the beach during spring break do not have quite so dire a result as is often experienced by misguided fireflies.
Every legitimate flash of fireflies is an informative beacon bringing them closer to their desired rendezvous. So also, every fragment of information we glean about a given topic brings you or me closer to our eventual opinions. One fragment of information might look as good as another, but just like some sinister flashes by cannibalistic female fireflies may lure unsuspecting suitors toward disaster, so may unverified information lead us toward dangerously skewed opinions. Misinformation plagues our nation politically. Some folks say that Donald Trump is the best president ever; some say the worst. Such contradictions strongly suggest misinformation which leads to bad choices in politics.
Collectively, we are President Trump's employer, so we ought to be well informed about how he is fulfilling his responsibilities. As I understand it, we elect our president to protect our nation and its constitution. A good president understands this, works hard, makes good decisions, and is communicative (transparent) to "we the people." So, let us not be misinformed or uninformed about President Trump's work record. We have a stronger military, more jobs, and higher wages. He is pushing hard for fair trade and border sovereignty. His tweets provide transparency like no other recent president. Understandably, foreign nations get crabby when forced into trade parity or good behavior, but our hard-working president is most severely persecuted, not by foreign nations he confronts, but by pseudo-patriotic Americans in the form of false accusations, attempted political assassination, media misinformation and obstructive courts.
As if his job were not hard enough, add the disastrous plague of illegal immigration nurtured by Mexico, sanctuary cities, unenforced immigration laws, and our nation's thirst for drugs. Any employee, from factory worker to CEO, if abused like our president, would resign. Bloodied and pummeled from all sides, President Trump fights on. If only Congress worked with, instead of against, our president.
DeWitt Clinton is a resident of Dunbar.