Chile water crisis should serve as a warning

In an article called “‘Consequences will be dire’: Chile’s water crisis is reaching breaking point” by John Bartlett as reported in The Guardian, a long-lasting drought and water misuse have led to an alarming problem. The sad truth is the water crisis in Chile is not an isolated event. The following select paragraphs tell an important story. The full article can be linked to below.

Unprecedented drought makes water a national security issue as more than half of Chile’s 19 million population lived in area with ‘severe water scarcity’ by end of 2021.

From the Atacama Desert to Patagonia, a 13-year megadrought is straining Chile’s freshwater resources to breaking point.

By the end of 2021, the fourth driest year on record, more than half of Chile’s 19 million population lived in an area suffering from ‘severe water scarcity’, and in April an unprecedented water rationing plan was announced for the capital, Santiago.

In hundreds of rural communities in the centre and north of the country, Chileans are forced to rely on emergency tankers to deliver drinking water.

Ecuadorian natives clash with the police 30km from Quito in 2010 in protest of a proposed water privatisation measure.

‘Water has become a national security issue – it’s that serious,’ said Pablo García-Chevesich, a Chilean hydrologist working at the University of Arizona. ‘It’s the biggest problem facing the country economically, socially and environmentally. If we don’t solve this, then water will be the cause of the next uprising.’……

‘I used to supply all of the markets and communities in the area,’ said Alfonso Ortíz, 73, a farmer who once employed several workers to grow watermelons, pumpkins, corn and oranges using water from the lagoon.

‘Agriculture here is dead. There’s nothing left,’ he said.

Chile’s economy, South America’s largest by per-capita GDP, is built on water-intensive, extractivist industries principally mining, forestry and agriculture.

But its growth has come at a price.

Supported by the private rights system, about 59% of the country’s water resources are dedicated to forestry, despite it making up just 3% of Chile’s GDP.

Another 37% is destined for the agricultural sector, meaning only 2% of Chile’s water is set aside for human consumption.”

Re-read that last sentence. “2% of Chile’s water is set for human consumption.” While this is an extreme example it is not isolated. Going on for several years now, the number one long term crisis facing us as surveyed by the World Economic Forum is the global water crisis. Climate change impact was second as it actually makes the first problem worse.

For those that think it cannot happen here, farmers in the plains of the US are worried about water. There is a great book called “Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman” by Miriam Horn that shares these concerns. There is one town in Texas that is now dry because of fracking and drought. Other water supplies are getting more dear and fights over river and reservoir access have been going on. The Biscayne aquifer that provides water to Miami is being encroached on by rising sea levels coming through the porous limestone. And, that is before the issue of lead pipes comes into the equation.

What troubles me greatly is the lack of public debate over this concern. Cape Town, South Africa was so bad off it had a countdown to no water. It survived, but just barely. Yet, not a peep was discussed here. We are to busy talking about contrived and exaggerated issues to deal with real crises. One would think not having water to drink or irrigate crops would be a concern. One would think that climate change causing water reservoirs to dry up faster and cause longer droughts and forest fires would be a concern.

Let me leave you with this thought. I heard a spokesperson from one of the largest US utilities speak on climate change impact. This utility had a long-range report that said two very disturbing things. First, they have increased their model for expected evaporation of reservoir water due to climate change by 11%. If the water level is too low, it cannot be converted into steam to turn the turbines to create power. So, they cut the water flow to people to make up for it, as they manage the river.

Second, these long-range projections noted the river will not be able to support the water needs of the metropolitan population in about fifty years unless something is done. This troubling projection has gotten very little coverage in our newspapers or TV news. This is more concerning to me than BS like critical race theory or replacement theory which are the contrived and exaggerated issues of the day.

Steven Solomon, author of “Water” created a term that has been used by at least one utility executive. “Water is the new oil.” If that does not scare you, note oil rich Saudi Arabia said it was OK to pray with sand rather than water. Why? They said Allah gave them a lot of oil, but little water.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jun/01/chiles-water-crisis-megadrought-reaching-breaking-point

Alignment

One thing that impresses me about good writers who have complex series of novels or shows is their ability to keep track of the various histories and relationships of all of their characters and story lines. My guess is the better ones take the time to document the biographies and relationships, so as not to betray the trust of the reader or watcher. I am certain mistakes happen, but it is good to see the effort.

The writers for a TV series called “Young Sheldon” have done their utmost to make sure the show is in alignment with its predecessor, “The Big Bang Theory.” For those who do not watch either show, “The Big Bang Theory” is about four highly intelligent university professors who befriend a beautiful and sarcastic neighbor who lives across the hall from two of them. Other stars are added as the men start getting more serious girlfriends and wives. But, the show is about relationships.

Sheldon, played by Jim Parsons, is the brightest yet most eccentric of an eccentric bunch. Parsons played him so well, he won several Emmy’s for the role. Due to his eccentricities, the show “Young Sheldon” was crafted to tell his story. With Parsons narrating the prequel which stars Iain Armitage as the younger version, we learn how Sheldon developed some of his habits, both endearing and frustrating. Since in the first show, we see guest appearances from the adult siblings and older mother, the prequel is good about remembering each character’s development and what the older Sheldon shared about them.

Sheldon has a twin sister, who is every bit as sarcastic as his future neighbor. He has an older brother who his jealous of the attention Sheldon gets yet is the typical teenage male. And, the scientific genius even as a boy has a mother who not only is a church goer, she works at the church. His father is a football coach, but we know already he will not be around much longer due to a storyline from “The Big Bang Theory” told of Sheldon losing his father as a young teen. The one character we did not hear much about in the first show is his grandma, who came in the second season of “Young Sheldon.”

The small things, though, are what make the alignment live. The older Sheldon loved trains, so we see the young Sheldon out in the garage with his trains. We learn why Sheldon uses terms like “bazinga” when playing a practical joke or why he uses the word “coitus” instead of sex, as it is less offensive. Don’t ask. The older Sheldon loves contractual agreements, so we see how that developed. And, of course, we see his mother singing “Soft Kitty, warm kitty” when Sheldon does not feel well and why he offers a hot beverage to anyone who is down in the dumps.

My wife and I enjoyed the first show immensely. I am a sucker for shows about relationships, especially the quirky ones. No one is more quirky than Sheldon, but what endears him is he has a good heart that is revealed from time to time. And, we adore the prequel as well, with the young Sheldon every bit as funny as the older one. Yet, what makes it live in alignment is the narration by the older Sheldon, with the occasional guest commentary by one of the other actors on the first show.

Do you like the shows? What are some others you care for?

Our friend has passed on – Hugh Curtler, teacher, coach, friend

I learned from our US expat friend in Ecuador, Lisa Brunetti, who writes under “Playamart – Zeebra Designs and Destinations,” that our blogging friend Hugh Curtler had passed away. Our mutual friend Jill Dennison has a wonderful tribute post, including pictures and links to some of his later posts. Lisa has added a terrific tribute as well, including a You Tube link. A link to both tributes are below.

Here is how Hugh defined himself in his “About” page:

Hugh Mercer Curtler is a retired academic who taught philosophy and Humanities (Great Books) for 41 years in three different colleges and universities, his final 37 years being spent at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, Minnesota. In addition to teaching full time, he founded and directed Southwest’s honors program and, for fifteen years, coached their championship women’s tennis team. To this point he has published thirteen books and numerous articles and reviews in professional journals. His successful coaching career led to induction in university and conference Halls of Fame plus the USTA Northern Hall of Fame; in 2006 he became Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Southwest.

Born in Charlottesville, Virginia, Hugh spent his early years on the East Coast before moving to the Midwest where he supplemented his academic work with avid reading and careful observation of the world around him. Hopefully, his blogs will reflect his wide range of interests.”

If I defined Hugh in a few words it would be “teacher, coach, friend.” Here is a note I posted on Jill’s tribute post to add to her words.

“Jill, this is a wonderful tribute to our friend. As you may recall, it was Hugh that sent me your way, saying I think you will like what this person writes about. He was ever the philosopher (but not pretentious), professor and coach. We bloggers did not fully appreciate the tennis coaching side of his persona. Without preaching it, I learned a lot about philosophy and great literature from Hugh.

He also was a staunch supporter of the environment, even inviting me to co-write an article for a magazine on perceptions of lay people on the environment and renewable energy. My first reaction to his invitation was ‘Hugh I don’t think I am qualified to write this,’ but he insisted for its purpose, I was. I would not have done it without his push and co-authorship.

Finally, his comments on other blogs will be missed. I always looked forward to what the professor might add, taking some pleasure if he agreed with my post or supported my comment. I wish your other readers who do not know Hugh’s work will check these suggested posts out. Thanks, my friend, Keith”

Please check out these wonderful tributes to Hugh. He will be missed, but maybe we can help his words to live on.

Wednesday wanderings – lawns, pollen, owls and Les Miz

These old bones need to finish mowing the grass before heading out on my walk about. Many moons ago, I bought a battery powered lawn mower, where I charge the battery before I mow. Either the grass is getting taller or the battery is getting older (this is electric mower #2) as the battery died before I finished. It is not unlike its owner who tires more easily.

So, today I will tidy up the remainder (usually I get about 75 minutes of mowing per charge). Mowing with an electric mower is healthier for me and better for the environment. I don’t have to breathe in the gas fumes, nor does it drown out my hearing. All of my power tools are battery operated now, as a result.

Speaking of being outside, this is supposed to be a more severe pollen season. My hometown is a city of trees, so we rank in the top ten in pollen in the US. Yippee. It used to not bother me as much, but with the creeping northward heat due to climate change, the warmer seasons are longer, and pollen is more severe. Hence, my daily routine includes a Cetrizine pill (generic Zirtec) and squirt of the generic Flonase up each nostril (I highly recommend).

Pollen brings other challenges as well. Over twenty years ago, we built a pool. It was a great decision, as it is good for relaxation and exercise, and we got to meet our kids’ friends. Yet, EVERYTHING gets into the pool, pollen included. So, cleaning the skimmer baskets is an event during the spring, with that stuff coated on the liner I put on the baskets.

Plus, when the pollen is in there, I cannot see if we have any guests in the pool such as brown snake (not poisonous), frog or deceased vole. There is nothing like pulling out a skimmer basket with a small snake in it to get the heart pumping. Fortunately, copper heads do not care for the water as much.

I think the voles are trying to run away from the hawks and owls we get on occasion. Right now, we have three owls in the neighborhood trees, two together and one separate. It must be a love triangle, with a younger male pining for the committed female. Off the subject, but when we went to see Les Miserables for the first time, a good buddy had read up on the wonderful and multi-part story from the playbill and told us all, “Basically, it is a love triangle.” We still laugh about that today.

So, let’s head out for a walk about after the lawn is taking care of. I will look for the odd-man out owl and see if we can find him a new love interest. As his mother tried to tell him, “there are many owls in the trees.” Maybe he can find him one named Cosette or Eponine.

Endings and next chapters

Have you ever noticed how some movies, series, or books just end without tidying up the conclusion? As my more frequent readers know, I enjoy watching movies, and tend to watch those with a good plot and dialogue.

Yet, I have noticed of late, a non-inconsequential number of more recently made movies about life’s challenges, seem to end without real resolution. Maybe they are emulating life, where we keep on going, often without resolution. We may get back on a better path, but the problems still persist.

The screenwriters and directors are seemingly leaving it up to us to figure out what happens next. It is not uncommon for my wife and I to look at each other and say “is that the end?” when the credits start to run.

To me, a writer can leave it to our imagination and still add needed clarity. In “Casablanca,” the ending had clarity for the two new members of the resistance who walked off to the “beginning of a beautiful friendship,” but we will always speculate what happened to Ilsa, Laslo and Rick in the future. It had closure as well as letting us converse about what’s next?

I was watching a movie where the ending basically was the child of a young mother (who got in her own way) would not leave her even when she tried to bus him to relatives. The woman would still be getting in her own way and had problems she had not remedied, but the movie just ended with them walking down a road in the snow with no money and the clothes on their backs. The only takeaway is they were still together.

Another movie about a husband acting rashly with a young woman (who was staying at his and his wife’s guest house as the two worked together on a film project) just ended without clarity. The movie faded out with the guest riding away in a taxi, leaving us to decipher if the wife would give the husband another chance or kick him out. It afforded my wife and I good what-if conversation, but it would have been interesting to see the writer’s take on it. To me, the question could have been left open-ended, but the wife could have left or said he needed to leave to let her think about next steps.

In one of the more famous movie endings in “Gone with the Wind,” Rhett Butler provided the needed clarity as he walked out the door. But, we are left to discuss what may have happened as Scarlett noted “tomorrow is another day.” If you have not seen the movie, you will need to move past the sugar coated racism and make lots of popcorn due to its length.

Of course, some endings may be too cheesy and cliche. When a movie, series or book ends with a more unexpected or against the grain twist, that can be more intriguing. Too obvious an ending can be less fulfilling, so leaving it somewhat open ended or imperfect can be more entertaining. The famous movie “The way we were” ended in the way it should have, but not in the way a Hallmark movie would have.

What are your thoughts? Do you like endngs that leave a lot to your imagination? Or would you prefer some or a lot of clarity? I would note the answer may depend on whether you are watching the movie with someone. I would love to hear from some of our authors out there.

Saturday in the park – miscellaneous musings on March 12

In deference to the band Chicago, let me metaphorically meander this “Saturday in Park” with a few miscellaneous musings. In no particular order:

-one of the Republican primary opponents for a NC US Senator seat is running a commercial against the positions of the last GOP governor who is also running. The ad focuses on what the governor said in criticism of Donald Trump to show that the governor is not Republican enough. The irony is every word the former governor said in criticism is true about the former president and my wife and I both nodded our heads yes.

-the malevolent and untruthful acting autocratic leader of Russia is accusing the US of plotting with Ukraine a bio-chemical attack against Russia. This is vintage narcissistic behavior – brand others with the accusations being made at you. The aforementioned former president uses this narcissistic defense mechanism often, so we should not be surprised when one of his idols does as well.

-any US president is given too much credit and blame for the economy. The best they can do is provide some headwinds or tailwinds, a phrase I heard about ten years ago and agree with. Usually, presidents provide some of both. But, for those who believe that the last former president created and sustained a great economy, they should realize that his predecessor saw 91 months of economic growth, six years of 2 million per annum job growth and a more than doubled stock market. So, this line of thinking says Obama was better for the economy than Trump. By the way, inflation may be up, but the economy has recovered from the pandemic slump.

-the state of Florida has passed a law which is expected to be signed that limits what teachers and schools can teach and gives parents the right to sue and be recompensed for such lawsuits. It is called the “Don’t say gay bill” but that is just part of what it does. This comes on the tail of other school limiting laws in several states about not teaching critical race theory, a catch all term, to mean a narrative that looks at the maltreatment of black and brown skinned people in our US history. I feel we are building up to a “Fahrenheit 451” movement where books will be burned that do not suit the vanilla teachings of a white washed world, where people who are not viewed as mainstream get denigrated. Or, as the Rush song “Subdivsions” says “conform or be cast out.” One of the thoughts I have is why would any reasonable person still want to be a teacher if they know they are being watched and could be sued for uttering something that someone does not like?

If we do not learn from history, the good and the bad, we will repeat things we should not. I may pull out a few old posts, but in the meantime I want readers to look up the “Lavender Scare” in the US where gays and lesbians were uncovered and fired from government jobs. I want people to look up “McCarthyism” where people were accused of being communists and blackballed from employment in a country where it is not supposed to matter what political persuasion someone is. Or, worse look up “the Greensboro Four” or “Edmund Pettis bridge incident” or “Birmingham church bombings” or “Emmitt Till” and read about how blacks were maltreated and killed.

It frustrates me when we laws cater to a narrow-minded view. It frustrates me when people try to change history or pretend it did not happen, even history we saw first hand. It frustrates me when people make things up, not because it is right, but because it sells.

Failing to teach history

The following is a letter I sent into my newspaper. Let’s see if it will get published. But, please feel free to adapt and use with your newspapers.

It troubles me that so many state legislatures have passed laws to restrict public school teachers from teaching our bad actions in history under the premise it is bothersome. Slavery of African-Americans and its persecuting brother the Jim Crow era did happen. Genocide of Native Americans and stealing their land did happen. Firing gays and lesbians who worked in government jobs under the Lavender Scare did happen. Blackballing so-called Communists under the McCarthy witch hunts did happen. And, we did detain Japanese Americans in camps.

We may not have had a Holocaust in the US where 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis, but Jews did get persecuted here, too. We must know these lessons. If we fail to learn history, we are destined to repeat it. And, that concerns me

And even more movies

Those who follow my blog know I like watching movies. Between HBO, Showtime and Tubi, binge watching two or three movies is not unusual. For those who do not know Tubi, it is a free service since it offers commercials. At my bladder’s age, commercials are not a bad thing.

Here are a few more that we watched recently that I would recommend. I also note a few that I could have turned away from, but I kept pulling for them to get better.

“The Woman in Gold” with Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Katie Holmes, and Daniel Bruehl is one of the best movies I have seen. It is based on a true story about an Austrian Jew who, as a girl, flees the Nazis taking over her country. In the process, her family’s art work is stolen, one of which is a portrait of her aunt called “The Woman in Gold.” It became a national treasure of Austria, so the story is about Mirren, playing the now aged daughter trying to reclaim the art, but mainly looking for a public acknowledgement how the museum got the painting.

“The Perks of being a Wallflower” with Logan Lehman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, Mae Whitman and a host of recognizable adult actors playing teachers, parents and doctors. This surprisingly excellent movie is about three “misfit toys” as Watson’s character tells Lehman when he joins them, as they navigate a more social world as high schoolers as introverted, observational people who each have other challenges that emerge later. Watson and Miller are brother and sister who shepherd Lehman into a friendship he needs so badly.

“Ondine” with Colin Ferrell, Alicja Bachleda, Allison, Barry, Dervla Kirwan and Stephen Rea. This unusually titled movie masks an interesting story about a fisherman (Ferrell), who finds a partially clothed, nearly dead woman in his net as he trawls. His inventive daughter (played by Barry) feels she is a mythical sea creature called an Ondine (played by Bachleda). This implausible story, though, is more about Ferrell needing someone to help him find his way, after his divorce from his wife, and allow him to connect more with his daughter.

“Gone Baby Gone” with Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Morgan Freeman, Amy Madigan and Ed Harris is a crime story about a missing daughter of a drug dependent mother. Affleck and Monaghan are detectives brought in after the police have seemingly given up an intensive search after seventy-two hours, knowing the result is not promising. The movie is produced and directed by big brother Ben Affleck and is well done. Casey seems to appear in a lot of good movies, as much as his brother does.

“American Friends” is a surprisingly good movie written and produced by Michael Pallin of Monty Python fame, but it is not a comedy. It is based on a touching story about his great-grandfather who taught at Oxford and was forbidden from marrying as a result. Pallin stars in the role as the professor who befriends two Americans, an aunt and her niece, while hiking in Switzerland. The women are played by Connie Booth (who happens to be John Cleese’s first wife) and Trini Alvarado, while Alfred Molina plays a rival professor vying for the role as president of the college when the incumbent passes away.

“Marty” is a movie made in 1956 for which Ernest Borgnine won an Oscar playing the title role of the lonely butcher who is ready to give up looking for companionship. Betsy Blair plays a possible love interest, but everyone tells Marty he can do better as she is a plain, but pleasant woman. Marty has a sense of self when he tells them and his mother that he is just not a good catch and is lonely. Borgnine deserves the Oscar for the role as you invest in him and pull for him to find a companion

“Third Person” with Liam Neeson, Mila Kunis, Olivia Wilde, Adrien Brody, Moran Atias, James Franco, Maria Bello and Kim Basinger in a confusing plot is good, but you may need to rewind on occasion as there are multiple stories being told by the author played by Neeson. “Iris” is well done, but hard to watch if you have parents with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Judi Dench plays the older version of acclaimed avant garde author Iris Murdoch, with Kate Winslet playing the younger version. Jim Broadbent plays her devoted husband so well, he won an Oscar, with Hugh Bonneville playing the younger version.

A few other movies we watched worth catching are: “Memories of me” with Billy Crystal, Alan King and JoBeth Willians and directed by Henry Winkler, “The last time I saw Paris” with Elizabeth Taylor, Van Johnson, Donna Reed and Walter Pidgeon, “Above Suspicion,” with Jack Huston, Emilia Clarke and Sophie Lowe and “My old lady” starring Kevin Kline, Kristen Scott Thomas and Maggie Smith.

A few movies I would be wary about are “The Humans” starring Richard Jenkins, Jayne Houdyshell and Amy Schumer which to me is family version of Jean Paul Sarte’s existentialism that hell is other people. It is painful to watch, but that may be its intent. The other is “The Paper Boy” with an amazing cast directed by Lee Daniels – Mathew McConaughey, Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron, John Cusack, David Oyelowo, et al, but is very violent and vulgar at times. Each of these movies we were tempted to turn away, but lasted until the end.

Now, let’s go get some popcorn and see what we can watch today.

Celluloid heroes and a few live ones (a reprise)

The following is a repeat of a post I wrote about ten years ago. Since heroes are hard to come by and the word superstar is over used, here are some movie heroes along with a few real ones.

My daughter is reading “To Kill a Mockingbird” in her high school English class, so we watched the movie the other night. As it is one of my favorites, we actually own the book and movie. Giving credit for part of the title to the old Kinks song, “Celluloid Heroes,” I thought it might be good to take a break from the issues of the day to talk about reel and real heroes.

Atticus Finch is one of the great heroes captured in print and on screen. Gregory Peck plays him so well it is hard to imagine someone else in that role. There are many wonderful parts in the movie, but the two that move me most are when the Reverend makes Scout stand up in the court room because “your father is passing” and when Jem is told by a consoling neighbor that “there are people meant to do our unpleasant tasks in this world… your father is one of them.”

I told my daughter Atticus Finch is my idea of a true hero. He does not have to carry a sword, although he may as noted below, but is courageous in a time when it is far easier to do otherwise. Standing up for what is right when others don’t have the gumption to do so, makes a hero live on in our memories. Some of my other celluloid heroes would include, but not be limited to:

– Robert Roy McGregor of “Rob Roy” also one of my favorite movies. While he carried a sword that was just a tool needed for those times. The key lesson he passed on through words and deed are “honor is a gift you give yourself.”

– Henry Fonda’s character in “Twelve Angry Men” who stood alone against 11 impatient jurors until one gave him a chance to be heard. When we all take our jobs seriously and purposefully like he did, we will be better for it, even if it takes more time.

– Rick in “Casablanca,” another favorite movie. He is a harder one to figure as hero at first, but rallies in the end. I think his imperfections make him more believable, so when he does the right thing, we are behind him.

– Sergeant Wendell White in “LA Confidential.” Like Rick, a man of imperfections, but he stands up for those treated unjustly and is relentless to find the truth.

– Terry Malloy in “On the Waterfront” is another man of imperfections that comes to mind as he stood up against the mob on the loading docks.

There are countless others, especially when the movies are about real people – Erin Brockovich, Norma Rae, Jimmy Braddock, William Wallace, etc.The stories play the best and the heroes stand tallest when they are playing against the odds. These real people lead me to some true heroes of mine, some of whom movies have been made about.

Gandhi and Martin Luther King are two that come readily to mind. My blog friend at “News of the Times” describes herself as a pacifist at heart.  MLK admired Gandhi so much that he adopted his “passive resistance” mantra to shine a spot light on unfairness and bigotry. Rosa Parks became another hero for similar reasons by refusing to give up her seat on the bus when it would have been easier to do so.

Nelson Mandela galvanized a country when it could have been so easy to divide it. I would have mentioned the movie “Invictus” before, but wanted to highlight him more here. His is the best example of inclusion and how he saw South Africa as a greater entity unified rather than separate. I wish our religious leaders would follow his lead on behalf of the LGBT community. The fewer “they” words we use the greater we will be.

John Adams is a true hero as well, but I remember what he did before the American Revolution as even more heroic. He defended in an American court of law British soldiers who had reacted appropriately when accosted by American rioters. His point is we stand for truth and justice and if we did not let these men go free, we would be going against our principles. This was against the strong will of the people led by his cousin Samuel Adams.

Abraham Lincoln is a hero of many and I am included in this mix. To do what he did when he did stands the test of time. Thomas Jefferson also is included in mine and many others list of heroes.  His principles drove much what we hold dear in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

A couple of names you may not know are Elliott Richardson and Archibald Cox. I would encourage you to look them up on Wikipedia.  They were leading the case against Richard Nixon after being appointed by him. When Nixon tried to strong arm them into pursuing a more tolerable path to justice, they resigned. They were there to do their jobs as they owed it to the American people to find out what happened before, during and after Watergate.

I recognize I am picking a select few heroes, but I wanted to get people thinking about the heroes they hold dear to their hearts. Truth be told, we have heroes we interact with day-to-day, be it a teacher, social worker, advocate, nurse, doctor or parent. These are the people I admire most. Heroes may be someone who is doing what he or she has to do to get by and try to help others. So, thank them, help them, applaud them and emulate them. When we see injustice, let’s call it out and try to do right by each other. If we had a few more Atticus Finch’s in this world, we would be in a much better place.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night – a Paul McCartney encore

I wrote the following post about six years ago. Sadly, it is even more relevant today with efforts to hyper-politicize issues to garner votes under the guise of critical race theory, book banning and strategic voter suppression.

The title is from a line of The Beatles song “Blackbird” which is a tribute to the struggle for African-Americans for their civil rights. The song was sung by Paul McCartney with writing credits to both him and John Lennon, although McCartney was the lead.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free

Blackbird fly, blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night

Blackbird fly, blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Here is what McCartney said about the origin of the song in an interview in 2002.

“I’ve got a poetry book out called Blackbird Singing…..I was in Scotland playing on my guitar, and I remembered this whole idea of ‘you were only waiting for this moment to arise’ was about, you know, the black people’s struggle in the southern states, and I was using the symbolism of a blackbird. It’s not really about a blackbird whose wings are broken, you know, it’s a bit more symbolic.”

I added McCartney’s quote as I wanted the clarity around what the song means. African-Americans are still fighting an uphill struggle for their civil rights. What has happened in Ferguson, Cleveland, New Jersey, Charleston, Charlotte and Baltimore is tragic, but evidence of the disenfranchisement of African-Americans. The lack of opportunity, the malaise, the maltreatment, the deterioration of the neighborhood, the lack of respect given to people of color in our country continues.

I have noted before that Warren Buffett has said he was born lucky. He was born a white male in America. All three components of that phrase are important – white, male and America. Yes, he worked hard, but he was afforded opportunities that African-Americans do not get.  Not only do many whites like me have a hard time knowing the challenges of being black, but we also do not fully realize the advantages of being white. As I wrote recently, as a white man, there are not too many places I cannot go no matter how I am dressed. But, there are far too many stories of how a black man can be dressed in his Sunday best, yet still be stopped by the police and think “be careful as this may be the last thing I do on earth.”

I would encourage three things. First, please do not look at those committing violence and rioting as indicative of the African-American community. The community knows this is not the path forward. Second, people who look like me need to do our best to understand the challenges we have in America for people of color, but also for all people in poverty. Third, as always, talk is cheap. These issues are complex and solutions have to address many underlying concerns. There are no sound byte answers as some politicians have espoused.

I mention this last point as we must address the wide disparity in American between the “haves” and “have-nots.” This is not just an African-American issue. It is an American issue, as most people on food stamps are white. Please re-read this previous sentence. Poverty exists in urban areas, in rural areas and even in the suburbs. We have to stop the “war on poor people” and make this a “war on poverty.”

We must invest in our infrastructure and deteriorated assets repurposing them. This will spawn jobs as well in places where it is needed. We must revise our minimum wage to be consistent with a living wage for one person, which varies, but is just over $10 an hour. We must invest in education at all levels. We must embrace the Affordable Care Act as it is helping so many people and fully implement it through Medicaid expansion in the remaining 20 odd states. For some politicians to say we have a poverty problem and be against the ACA is hypocritical and shortsighted, especially when it is working pretty well.

Remember McCartney’s words and lets help these folks with broken wings learn to fly. To do otherwise, goes against what our country is all about and any of the teachings found in religious texts.