If I were a groundhog in the US (a reprise seems just as true today)

Note: I wrote this post ten years ago. Just feel how easily it could have been pulled from today’s news.

If I were a groundhog in the US, I would consider going back in my hole. Otherwise, I might get shot. In my newspaper yesterday, the first day of February, there were four stories on gun deaths that were headlined or sub-headlined under the category “Briefly” which notes news nuggets or updates. As these stories were under this category, it shows how routine gun deaths have become in America. Since we lead the civilized world with 80% of the gun deaths of the top 23 wealthiest countries, the comment about routine is on the mark.

So, let’s at least honor the deceased by mentioning these four stories. I will give you the headline then a brief synopsis.

Teen accused of killing his grandmother appears in court – Seventeen year old Clayton Eli Watts and two others are accused of killing Watts’ grandmother Jimmie Diane Paul. The victim was described as a bubbly woman who cared for others. One of Watts’ neighbors said “he was such a good boy.” I add this as it appears often in these stories and goes back to a post I wrote ten days ago – “How do you know who the good guys are?”

Police: Teenager shot by fellow student at GA middle school – A student opened fire at his middle school Thursday afternoon, wounding a 14 year-old in the neck before an armed officer working at the school was able to get the gun away (I know this is not a gun death, but could have been). Access to guns. Access to guns Access to guns. If you have guns at home, lock them up. Responsible gun owners know this and realize its importance.

Phoenix office shooter found dead of apparent suicide – A man who shot and killed a call center CEO and wounded a lawyer where they were meeting to discuss a contract dispute was found dead early Thursday of an apparent suicide. Arthur Douglas Harmon, age 70, died of an apparent self-inflicted gun shot wound ending a 24 hour man-hunt. I will let you draw your own conclusions as we don’t know what went through his head. Yet, I am troubled by the fact a man would bring a weapon to a contract dispute. Again, this goes back to our need for civil discourse. This is not a movie or video game – you should not kill someone who disagrees with you.

County prosecutor killed near North Texas courthouse – An assistant district attorney (DA) was shot and killed near the courthouse where he worked. A masked gunman shot Mark Hasse, the DA, multiple times in the parking lot at 9 am as Hasse was headed into work.The killer is still at large. The police are searching through the DA’s cases for clues as to who may have done this apparent targeted shooting.

These are four stories that appeared yesterday. I would ask you to do a test over a week’s worth of news. Tally the number of gun shootings and deaths that occur in the paper over a week. If these occurred on February 2 – Groundhog’s Day – the critter would have gone back in his hole. This is the bigger context for why our country needs to do something. I said it over the summer after Aurora in “Another day in America: a sixteen year-old kills thirteen year-old friend.” If you do not care about the adult shootings at least care about the kids – per the same study which I cited the 80% statistic above, it is not the worse one for the US. 87% of all children gun deaths of the top 23 wealthiest countries are in the US. And, there have been over 119,000 children and teen gun deaths in America since 1979.

As a parent and citizen, I find these numbers shameful for America. Countries around the globe think the US is the wild, wild west. Guns have always been a part of our fabric, but due to market segmentation and money, gun ownership has become a wedge issue and something that has gone way beyond the intent of the Second Amendment. Since Constitutionalists like to cite the purity of the Second Amendment, then we should use the context of when it was written to say the following:

If the Second Amendment need not be reviewed in the context of today’s time and must be viewed in the context of the time of our founding fathers then it could be argued that women nor African-Americans of any gender have the right to own a gun. The constitution was written for a free white male society, so if we want to be literal about the Second Amendment, then we need to be literal about everything. So, women and African-Americans you are not afforded the same rights as white men and cannot own a gun.

My point is all laws have to be reviewed over time. Slavery was wrong and after a painful war and 100 ensuing years, African-Americans were afforded the same liberties as others. We still have issues, but the Civil Rights Act remedied constitutional shortsightedness. The same could be said about Women’s Suffrage. It took almost 150 years for Congress to remedy the slight to women on voting rights. The Second Amendment served a purpose, but the NRA and its more strident followers seem to believe what they think it intended need not be reviewed and reconsidered. The current context does not preclude the duty to rethink our laws and their applicability.

Last night on “Real Time with Bill Maher,” Sam Harris who has angered both sides of the gun control issue said basically gun ownership should be more like getting a pilot license. You should have to go through a thorough background check and be trained before you get one. There should be no exceptions. I agree. The police want us to register the bullets so crimes can be solved more easily. I agree.

We also need more training in schools and by parent(s), teachers, clergy, Sunday school teachers, mentors and other adults, that civil discourse is needed. It is OK to argue, but do not feel you are being treated without respect if someone disagrees with you. We need to openly discuss how to argue and advocate for your position. Gun deaths are occurring more often due to access to guns following heated arguments.

We also need better access to mental health treatment and remove the stigmas. 20% of people will need mental health assistance or medication during their lifetime. 10% of any employer’s health care members are taking medication for a mental health issue. I have noted before my concern over weapons on college campuses where depression has a higher propensity. Kids get away from parents and think the world is their oyster and realize they have to work hard to succeed and not everything is as imagined. All it takes is one impulsive, bad decision married with gun access and a student’s life is over. Not off the subject, but there have been studies that show the presence of a gun heightens suicidal tendencies.

We need to look at the violence of movies and video games. There is a correlation in our society, but is it causal in any way? Is it causal when other factors are present? I do not know, but this something we need to look into. I go back to the late 1970’s when gun deaths started ending crime shows as it tied up the bad guys in a neat fashion. Now, everyone is slaughtered by guns. Yet, as I have pointed out to my kids, have you noticed the good guys always shoot straighter than the bad guys in the movies? It does not work like that in real life. The bad guys can shoot as well.

We need to think about where we want to restrict guns. Guns should not be around bars or restaurants or any venue where alcohol is served. Period, end of story. Guns, testosterone and alcohol do not mix. Someone will get needlessly killed when these three ingredients are mixed. We have already seen an increase in fan violence without guns. It gets back to the civil discourse where arguments ensue over sports teams, usually with drunken patrons. At a NC State University football game two years ago, a drunken man was endangering others by driving fast around a parking lot. After being confronted by two good Samaritans, the drunk driver, went home, got his gun, came back and killed the two good Samaritans. Access to guns. Access to guns. Access to guns.

So, for all of us groundhogs and our groundhog children, please let’s address our runaway gun problem in America. It is shameful to be number one on the list of leaders in gun deaths. Most responsible gun owners agree.

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I encourage you to reach out to your elected officials

This may not do as much good as it needs to or we would hope it would, but we need to let elected officials know we are paying attention. A couple of key themes:

  • we need you to more consistently tell us the truth and value those who do, not those who don’t – sadly, the names of those who don’t are well known;
  • we need you to make more fact-based decisions rather than what funders, spin doctors and opinion hosts may tell you and others – it is hard enough to govern when you use facts, but nigh impossible when you don’t;
  • we need you to recognize both major parties do not have all the good ideas and both have some bad ones – one party has a bag of ideas with too many holes in it and the bad ideas are rushing out, a key reason they are letting more extreme opinions drive the bus;
  • we need you to work toward solving real problems not ones spin doctors said will cause wedge issues and garner votes;
  • we need you to work together in a civil manner using that Jesus message whenever possible that was so important it was called golden;
  • we need you to recognize winning and losing an argument is secondary to getting the best solution; and
  • we need you to recognize you work for us, the citizens of the country, state, county or city – use your time wisely toward that end and be accountable.

As parents, we learned long ago that who your kids play and associate with matter. It is a key reason we always wanted their friends to be welcome at our house. We got to meet them. So, elected officials need to know who they value and spend time with matter. Do you want to be known for hanging around someone who acts like a bully, denigrates people and is untruthful, or do you want to be known for hanging around someone who is a truthteller and seeks to hold people accountable? It is your choice, but we are watching.

I bruise you, you bruise me, we both bruise too easily (an encore post)

The following is an encore of an earlier post that still remains relevant.

After breaking up with Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel sang a beautiful song written by Jimmy Webb, who wrote several of Glen Campbell’s hits (“Galveston,” “Wichita Lineman,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix”), The 5th Dimension’s “Beautiful Balloon,” and “MacArthur Park,” which was a huge hit in the 1970s as sung by the actor Richard Harris (who was the first Dumbledore for Harry Potter fans).

The song is called “All I Know.” The first stanza is as follows:

I bruise you, you bruise me

We both bruise too easily

Too easily to let it show

I love you and that is all I know

This song is intended as a love song between two people who often fight and have hurt feelings as a result. But, I would like to use this stanza as a metaphor for relationships between all of us in civil society that have gone awry.

We are too easily bruising each others’ feelings. We are also taking offense too easily, when we should not or should listen to hear rather listen to react. I was highly disappointed with the tenor of the most recently concluded political convention, when hateful remarks were the norm and not the exception. I am hoping that the one next week will be the antithesis.

As an independent voter, I don’t care if someone is conservative on a viewpoint or liberal. What I found is many people have a mixture of opinions. To this point, Ivanka Trump told the GOP audience she is an independent voter. And, she like me joins many unaffiliated Americans.

Yet, what I do not like is the lack of civil discourse and use of information which is not steeped in facts. This is modus operandi for too many politicians and opinion hosts and it is quite obvious to me who they are. The latter is a key reason I religiously check the two fact checking organizations summaries. But, let me set that aside for now and get back to the civil discourse.

I do not agree with everything the politicians or parties support. My disagreement may be material or it may be in emphasis. For example, President Obama has done a commendable job, but I am disappointed that he did not move forward on the Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Committee’s report, he tends to like the use of drones where we need more governance, while he has moved the ball forward on climate change he is too fond of fracking, and he did not collaborate more with a highly uncollaborative and obstinate Congress, e.g.

What I can tell you is neither party has all of the solutions and sometimes are not asking the right questions. Neither party should be smug that their way is the only way or even the right way, especially with funding that fuels their opinions. Again, I don’t mind a conservative or liberal view, but let’s work off the right data and do so civilly, respecting each other’s opinions. And, let’s work with real solutions and not what easily fits on a bumper sticker. Bumper stickers are not policy, they are advertisements.

The debt is a huge problem. Climate change is a huge problem. Water resources are a huge problem. Poor gun governance is a huge problem. Poverty is a huge problem as is the declining middle class. Civil rights for all citizens, especially those most disenfranchised, are lacking in too many places. Infrastructure needs are paramount and fixing them will create jobs. Terrorism is important, but combatting it must be holistic and involve all of us.

Building actual and proverbial walls are not the answers. We must reach out to each other and solve these problems as the diverse Americans we are. No American is more American than the next. And, no less, either. So, let’s civilly discuss the issues in fact-based manner and demand our politicians do the same. If they cannot, then they should step down. I am really tired of those who feel they must name-call and shout opposition down.

Fishing for better news this Friday

Why do Catholics tend to eat a lot of fish on Friday? What is also interesting the grade schools seemed to copycat this serving fish as well even if they are not Catholic schools. Maybe it is due to the famous loaves and fishes story where Jesus fed a huge crowd with the bread and fish in boy’s basket. Using this theme, I am hoping Jesus can pull out some better news this Friday for that proverbial basket.

The future of America may be many things, but one thing is for sure, we will continue to live in a country where daily gun shootings are the norm and the mass shootings become more frequent than weekly. And, while some watered-down gun governance legislation was finally passed this past summer, we still live in a wild-west environment. The sad fact is the significant majority of Americans want some commonsense changes, including gun owners. Let’s start there. If the gun industry does not like, so be it. They truly have had their chance to offer reasonable changes, yet decided fighting any change was the better tactic.

This same example could be used with the fossil-fuel industry. A recent study revealed an old story that needs more airplay. Companies like Exxon have scientific data and reports in their files dating back about forty plus years defining climate change as a major problem. Another study revealed the industry has done more window dressing change than actually make change to address climate change. Like the gun industry, instead of offering reasonable and knowledgeable changes, they hired PR people to naysay climate change. They determined that blocking change was a better tactic than helping make thoughtful change.

We should have remembered the lesson we finally learned after thirty plus years about tobacco. For over thirty years, the industry has known nicotine was addictive which is why they used it in their products. Just before a whistleblower let the cat out of the bag, I watched eight tobacco CEOs sitting at a table facing a Congressional committee. When asked directly if nicotine was addictive, in a row, all eight said “no.” They all lied. And, they all knew. Within a few years, the industry was penalized with huge fine in the neighborhood of a billion dollars for their cover-up, which was not near enough. They deserved the fine.

And, what I find interesting is the PR firm that helped the tobacco industry lie and cover-up was hired by the fossil fuel industry to help them naysay climate change. My guess is they were trying to buy more time to make huge profits.

So, Jesus, you may need a bigger basket of truth and good stories to overcome these folks. There is a lot of money to be made in dangerous habits. We need someone to point that out. Of course, the PR people will paint You in a poor light as a defense tactic, but You are likely used to it.

A cautionary tale of too little water and too much water – a reprise from 2015

The following was written almost eight years ago, but holds even more concern today with fresh water crises in the US west and around the world and our ever heightening sea levels, placing major coastal cities like Miami at risk.

We have two major environmental concerns that are impacting us now and will continue to do so, unless we plan and execute a more dramatic strategy. One gets too little air time, while the other gets talked about, but is under constant attack by hired public relations people who are highlighted in the documentary ‘Merchants of Doubt” and the most recent airing of “Vice” on HBO. First, we have a growing fresh water shortage problem that is predicted to get worse in drought stricken and other areas. Second, we have an increasing intrusion of salt water in low-lying coastal areas that will also get far worse than predicted, likely displacing 300 million people by century’s end.

Fresh water is one of our two most dear resources on the planet, with the other being the air we breathe. Managing a predicted water shortage may be one of the most crucial tasks in front of us, yet we do not give sufficient news coverage to this looming problem. I would encourage you to read one of the best history books I have ever read by Steven Solomon called “Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power and Civilization.”  The book does more than look backwards as it highlights a major concern going forward and uses the term “water is the new oil.” A link is provided below to an article on the book.

Any investment that requires the substantial use of water needs to factor that use in its Return on Investment calculations. I am against fracking for several reasons, but my greatest fear is the significant use of water that we cannot let trickle back into our water supply. When this issue is scoffed at by industry people, it should be noted that in the past couple of years frackers and farmers have been fighting over water in California, Kansas and Oklahoma. It should be noted in some areas of Texas, which is heavily drought prone, about 20% of an area’s water supply goes to fracking.

I use the fracking case as an example. We must be mindful of coal ash supplies near water sources, which is where they almost always are placed. We must be mindful of developers and how run off can occur from houses built on various lakes. We must be mindful of where we have placed dams and where we may have straightened out rivers, which can be harmful. And, we must re-emphasize conservation of water through the use of waterless water heaters, planting more endemic plants to an area, less water sprinkling, gray water plumbing for toilets, and what Orange County has done with sewage water which is treated and filtered many times over and reused as drinking water (yes, it is drinkable).

The other major concern relates to the impact of climate change on coastal locations, especially those below or at sea level. Climate change has many impacts, one of which is to make drought prone areas worse, but the rising sea levels is getting more attention. And, after watching what is happening in Antarctica and Greenland on the documentary “Vice,” the scientists who measure the impact on melting ice masses say it is too late to save Antarctica from severely melting with what we have done thus far.

The “Merchants of Doubt” who are the hired guns of the fossil fuel industry note that Antarctica is growing in ice mass. Yet, this is clearly refuted by the scientists doing the annual measuring noting the PR folks are purposefully confusing sea ice with land ice. The “sea ice” is thawing and refreezing to the tune of a meter thick, while the “land ice” which is kilometers thick is melting away and that is the major problem. The scientists equate it to ice thawing in a glass and refreezing (sea ice) versus adding more melted ice to the glass (land ice) which is causing the glass to run over. I make this distinction as the “Merchants of Doubt” are very good at what they do and are well paid by the industry to cause this doubt. Just remember the overflowing glass as a metaphor for what is actually happening versus the false message put forth by deniers.

The sad truth is people and some leaders believe this messaging and it is actually harming our planet and its inhabitants by delaying what needs to be done. The country of Bangladesh is being consumed by the encroaching waters in a very noticeable way. Impoverished people who farm and fish are required to move to overcrowded cities. The country of Denmark developed a long-range plan that had to survive different parties in power, so it had the buy-in of everyone. Ecuador is fighting a never-ending battle against the relentless sea. The City of Miami’s county (Dade County) has joined with three adjacent counties to invest $200 million into plans to stave off the encroaching sea water which is coming up through the storm drains in the streets more frequently. Below is a link to an article on the renewed efforts.

The rising sea levels will impact every low-lying area on the planet and is already consuming islands like the Cartaret Islands, whose ambassadors had to go to larger islands to ask if they could move there. It is also making the impact of hurricanes worse and will continue to do so. Climate scientists note hurricanes hitting shore with higher sea levels is like dunking a basketball off a raised court. The damage is more severe. Hurricane Sandy is a precursor to what will happen more often. This is where the cost of repair comes into play which totaled in the hundreds of billions, just with Sandy.

But, don’t take my word for it, read for yourself. I am not a scientist, but I can read. 97% of scientists note that man-influenced climate change is a happening and is a major concern. Out of 14,000 peer-reviewed scientific papers on climate change, only three were contrarian. Mercer Investment Consulting surveyed the largest pension scheme sponsors on the planet and these sponsors estimate the cost of climate change impact will be in the tens of trillions of dollars. Marsh, the largest risk management firm in the world, is speaking routinely with clients about managing risk of coastal assets. Georgia State University, one of the most well known risk management and actuarial schools in the US, has a curriculum around planning for climate change. Wall Street is factoring in the cost of climate change risk in their pricing. You also have the conclusions of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA, the UN International Panel of Climate Change, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science on man-influenced climate change. And, it goes on.

These two water issues are critical to our future. We are past time on acting and we need to plan and execute accordingly. We do not need well paid BS artists using science out of context to further prevent action from happening. We are at a point where we must question politicians on what we should do about these issues. And, if they say climate change or global warming is hoax, do us all a favor and do not vote for them. If they do not recognize water shortage as the major problem it is has become, do not vote for them. If they say it is a jobs issue more so than an environmental issue, note that the one of the fastest growing industries for jobs is the solar energy industry, which is averaging annual double-digit growth with 174,000 US jobs at year-end. The wind energy industry is growing as well and could also grow at the same clip with even more investment. And, the sun shines and wind blows in every state, some more so than others, so the energy impact and job creation can be spread around.

If anything, please understand the importance of these two issues. Question everything, especially politicians, leaders and so-called news sources. We do not have time to wait on leaders to catch-up. We need to make them catch-up. If they don’t or are not willing, get leaders who will look at real data and listen to unbiased science and help us do something about our problems. Our failure to act has made this even more crucial.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-solomon/water-is-the-new-oil_b_380803.html

http://www.law360.com/articles/613588/miami-dade-officials-accelerate-response-to-sea-level-rise

Monday morning meanderings

It is a quiet morning after all the rain we got yesterday. One thing is for certain, my dog loves being toweled off when he comes back inside after a restroom break and is all wet.

Here a few meanderings this Monday morning.

-Another mass shooting in America. What a surprise. It truly saddens me that our headlines are peppered with daily shooting deaths, with a seemingly weekly mass shooting. If I lived in another country, I might look to other places to visit, as we Americans cannot get our act together. Canada and Australia look nice.

-I saw some headline where the former president lost a bloc of voters. I chose not to read it as his political career ended two years ago and his followers are finally figuring out what kind of person he is, which they should have known all along as he has acted this way over the years. It is all about The Donald, always has been, always will be.

-Lisa Marie Presley was buried this weekend. It saddens me when I remember when people were born and when they passed away. That is not how it should be. I cannot imagine the pain of losing a child no matter how old they are, so my heart goes out to Priscilla Presley. I remember the agony of my grandmother losing her youngest daughter and my aunt at a similar age.

-I would love to have a job where I can be the metaphorical lifeguard of the swimming pool that is the US Congress. When the elected kids are acting up, I can blow my whistle and tell them “Out of the pool!” And, when a group of the elected kids get too rambunctious, I can say “Alright, everyone out. Adult swim only!” Or, “Hey Marjorie, Matt, Paul, Ted, Kevin, go sit in the time-out corner.” This makes me smile.

And, on that note. Enjoy your week. Stay dry, warm and safe.

Tuesday miscellany

Reading Martin Luther King’s views on hate are instructive. The energy it takes to keep up a hatred is debilitating. In essence, it is more destructive to the hater than the intended target of the hate.

Just think about it. There are people who truly despise some politicians, but it does not bother the politicians as much. It is just one more person. However, it bothers the hater more. The only thing that bothers the politician is public humiliation. That, and being voted out of office.

We have entered an age where politicians don’t pay much attention to voters. They pay attention to funders and what PR people tell them to pay attention to. The number of town halls has declined. When you email a concern, you check off on a subject from a list and you get a pre-worded response. I have gotten a number of the identical emails based on the box checked, even though the actual issue may be different.

It reminds me from a line from the movie “Hunt for Red October” where a commander said the other submarines were not listening to the response of their sonar “pings” as they were moving too fast. The commander said they could go right over my daughter’s stereo and would not hear it. That is how I feel about the elected officials. They are not listening.

So, we have to make them pay attention. We have to use every means of communication to say to these politicians the truth matters and we are not hearing enough of it from you. We also need to say we need you to work together and stop the tribal BS as that is precisely what it is. Truth be told, we have too many elected officials who may have won, but they exhibit time and again they do not belong there. They consistently make inane and mean-spirited remarks.

There is an old line I like which applies to any group of people. If someone acts like a jerk most of the time, they better be good at what they do, as most people will not tolerate their BS if they are not. Sadly, we have folks who do both. They have made their voices irrelevant and ignorable.

I know we are supposed to pay attention what politicians say, but for too many it is a waste of time. When I see the picture of these folks on an article, I pass it by. My reaction is this person either said one more dumb thing, denigrated one more person or group, or both. I will let you figure out who I am speaking of as they may match up with what you feel.

So, when one of those people use as means of defense, “they just don’t like me,” that trivializes the argument. In truth, I don’t like being lied to, especially when I know the person is lying. And, I certainly don’t like people acting like a jerk when they do. I have little time for such verbiage and action. If politicians want to be taken seriously, they should act in a serious-minded way. Otherwise, just stop talking or tweeting.

Martin Luther King – thoughts against the use of violence still resonates

On this holiday, we should remember the words of its namesake. Martin Luther King once said, “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very things it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, it merely increases the hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

These aspirational words ring true even today. A historian made a comment on the news the other day, saying the only thing man has been very good at since the beginning is killing people. To many people have died when leaders say I want what you have or you are different from us or you worship the wrong way. On this latter point, one of the keys to our founding father’s separation of church and state in the US constitution and bill of rights was a comment made by Thomas Jefferson who noted that Europe had been awash in blood due to religious zeal and he did not want religious zeal doing the same in our country. This runs counter to self-proclaimed constitutionalists who want a national or state religion and don’t realize they are advocating against the constitution.

My blogging friend George Dowdell has written a thought-provoking post about “No More Us and Them.” A link to his post is below.* When religious leaders exclude, they create this kind of divide. Yet, when religious leaders are inclusive, religion is at its finest. Just witness the actions of the people’s Pope Francis to see what one leader can do. We should follow his lead. We must do our best to be bridge builders. We must do our best to condemn intolerant thinking and action. We must do our best to not condone violence. We must do our best to control the proliferation of violent tools to people who should not have them and govern all owners of them well, as these tools are designed to kill. We must do our best to work toward civil discourse when disagreements occur. And, we must not tolerate treating women as second class citizens or even assets, which is even further demeaning.

I recognize we all cannot be like Atticus Finch (see Emily J’s post on “The Perfect Book: To Kill a Mockingbird” with the link below **) and wipe the spit away borne from someone looking for a fight, but he shows us what real courage looks like. It takes more courage not to fight back when it would have been so easy to do so. I recognize we cannot all be like Gandhi whose example was studied, admired and copied by Martin Luther King showing that civil disobedience is far more powerful than violence. I recognize we call cannot be like Mother Teresa who just went around helping people and praying with them not caring how they worshiped. And, I realize we cannot all be like Jesus who uttered the words we should all live by and can be found in other religious texts – treat others like you want to be treated.

We must treat others like we want in return. We must elevate women in a world to equal footing with men. We must challenge our historical texts which were written by imperfect men to diminish women. We must be the ones who lift others up. If we don’t then we will continue to be our own worst enemy and do what we are good at – violence and killing.

*

http://georgedowdell.org/2014/06/10/no-more-us-and-them/

**

http://thebookshelfofemilyj.com/2014/06/09/the-perfect-book-to-kill-a-mockingbird/

New study raises the heat on Exxon’s climate research

In an article from ScientificAmerican by Shannon Hall, called “Exxon Knew about Climate Change almost 40 years ago,” it is clear that Exxon has known about the risks for years and has purposefully obfuscated that truth when they went into the denial phase. Below are just two paragraphs, but please take the time to read the whole piece below or from one of the many other venues where it is published.

“Exxon was aware of climate change, as early as 1977, 11 years before it became a public issue, according to a recent investigation from InsideClimate News. This knowledge did not prevent the company (now ExxonMobil and the world’s largest oil and gas company) from spending decades refusing to publicly acknowledge climate change and even promoting climate misinformation—an approach many have likened to the lies spread by the tobacco industry regarding the health risks of smoking. Both industries were conscious that their products wouldn’t stay profitable once the world understood the risks, so much so that they used the same consultants to develop strategies on how to communicate with the public.

Experts, however, aren’t terribly surprised. ‘It’s never been remotely plausible that they did not understand the science,’ says Naomi Oreskes, a history of science professor at Harvard University. But as it turns out, Exxon didn’t just understand the science, the company actively engaged with it. In the 1970s and 1980s it employed top scientists to look into the issue and launched its own ambitious research program that empirically sampled carbon dioxide and built rigorous climate models. Exxon even spent more than $1 million on a tanker project that would tackle how much CO2 is absorbed by the oceans. It was one of the biggest scientific questions of the time, meaning that Exxon was truly conducting unprecedented research.”

As you read the above and the attached, please note this is not news. Exxon scientists used to make speeches and lectures about global warming for years. They were forerunners of the research. Yet, in the late 1990s, the management decided to move into a denial phase engaging a PR campaign to discredit the science. The purpose was to make sure the cash cow of fossil fuels continued for as long as possible. It should be noted is part of this PR campaign was to rebrand global warming as the less threatening sounding climate change.

What I also found interesting is that Shell Oil even did a video back in the early 1990s of the concerns of global warming. So, it was not just Exxon that knew what the future held. Ironically, when Exxon continued to be insufficient in their actions, their shareholders reacted. The day before the Trump White House announced the US was pulling out of the Paris Climate Change Accord in 2017, Exxon’s shareholders voted that management must report to them what they are doing about climate change on a recurring basis.

Again, this story really is not news, but it more clearly defines what Exxon failed to do when they knew better.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/exxon-knew-about-climate-change-almost-40-years-ago/

Gumpish questions – a reprise

The following post was written three years ago in 2019. It still has relevance, in my view.

I have written a few posts on asking more why questions, but let me define a few dumb questions, in the spirit of a fictitious character, Forrest, Forrest Gump. It is amazing how these questions don’t leap off the news pages or out of cyberspace.

In know particular order…

Help me understand how the president can cause a problem, then get kudos (or claim such), when he solves (or lessens) his own problem?

Forrest Gump answered his drill sergeant’s question of his purpose? “To do exactly what you tell me to do, drill sergeant!” The drill sergeant called Gump a “genius” for his answer.

Help me understand how one of the largest US Christian denominations cannot resolve conflict and will be splitting in two? What message does that send?

Forrest Gump’s girl Jenny gave Forrest the best answer to danger. What should he do? “Run, Forrest, run.”

Help me understand how legislators, presidential candidates and current president don’t seem to care that our annual deficit and debt are exploding?

Forrest’s mama answered her son’s question of what is his destiny? “Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you are going to get.”

How can people not see the intense and elongated forest fires in Australia, Brazil and California and not think we have a new paradigm with our heating planet?

Forrest got a Purple Heart. When asked where he was shot, he said “I got shot in the buttocks. They said it was a million dollar wound, but I haven’t seen any of that money.”

How can people feel that putting a face on an opposing argument, then beating on that person can pass for reasoned counter argument (think Al Gore and Greta Thunberg)?

Lieutenant Dan showed up at dockside to honor his promise that he would be Forrest’s first mate if he got a shrimp boat. He told Forrest he wanted to get his “sea legs.” Forrest said, “But, you don’t have no legs.” “Yes, I know this,” Lt. Dan replied.

Help me understand why important people are so cavalier with their reputations by spending time with Jeffrey Epstein and underage girls (think Prince Andrew, Donald Trump, Bill Clinton)?

Forrest answered Bubba’s mother when she asked “if he was crazy or just plain stupid?” Forrest uttered his classic line, “Stupid is as stupid does.” That is a profound statement.

Let me close with another Forrest observation. One of the key parts of the story is his relationship with Bubba, an African-American man he met in Vietnam. There is a metaphor in the middle of the movie, where Bubba asks Forrest to lean his back up against his, so that they both could sleep sitting up and stay out of the mud. Reminds me of a song called “Lean on me.” If we just do more of that, we can both stay out of the mud.