Dune – a remake that surpasses the original movie

“Dune” is a very good, complex movie about Frank Herbert’s complex novel. Yet, unlike the OK first movie, the remake did not take it on as one movie. So, there will be a sequel forthcoming.

Dune is a science fiction story around the politics and power of controlling production of a spice that aids in the navigation through the universe. The spice is found on the desert planet of Arrakis, where only the resilient can survive, primarily a vast tribe of people called the Fremen who value water and survival of the fittest.

The patriarch (the Duke Leto) of the Atreides family has been asked to oversee production on Arrakis by the emperor, but he is being set-up for failure. The story is more around his son Paul and his mother, the Lady Jessica who both have a capability that makes them each a powerful force. Paul is played by Timothee Challamet, Lady Jessica by Rebecca Ferguson, and the Duke by Oscar Isaac. Zendaya plays Chani who Paul dreams of and finally meets on the planet. 

Dune has a great ensemble cast to support the primary characters. Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Stellan Skarsgard, Jason Mamoa, Dave Bautista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Charlotte Rampling, Babs Olusanmokun, et al, all add value to their roles. Skarsgard is quite good as major antagonist Baron Harkonnen, who used to oversee the spice production. Bardem and Zendaya will feature more in the sequel as Paul and the Lady Jessica have shown their worth to the Fremen toward the end of the movie.

The screenplay was written by the director Denis Villeneuve, Jon Spaihts and Eric Roth. They deserve a lot of credit for boiling the plot down from the book. While the movie includes violence, the underlying story of intrigue comes out. Plus, there is an allegiance to the unrelenting desert life in the filming. For example, Lady Jessica appears without make-up throughout which would not serve her well in the sandy heat. The Fremen debate whether an infiltrator is worthy of being kept alive versus the water his or death would result in for their benefit. The mechanical transport and machinery must withstand the deterioration of the sand.

I will leave out more detailed plot description. The movie is quite good, even for those who are not huge science fiction fans. Yet, I don’t want to undersell the plot intrigue and otherworldly context. It helped me to have seen the first movie. One of my sons has read the novel, so he said this version is more closely resembling the book the earlier one. So, he and my other son join me in giving it a thumbs up.

It is all about The Donald

Yesterday, the former president was giving a speech during which he again lambasted thirteen Republican representatives who voted in favor of the infrastructure bill. One of those thirteen, Rep. Nicole Malliotakis of New York was in the audience. According to news reports, she was visibly shaken, as she probably knows what it means for the former president to rile up his base.

I called her for a second time this week, on top of my call to thank her for her vote and political courage. I also wanted to thank her for putting America’s interests ahead of those in her own party or at least those of a vocal and fervent base. The second call was to reiterate her courage and ask her to hang in there. We need more people to vote for what they believe is in her constituents better interests and not fewer.

Here is what I also told her. The former president forgets he campaigned in 2016 to pass an infrastructure bill. This is one of the few things I agreed with him on. So, did Democrats and folks like Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders welcomed discussion on infrastructure. Yet, the former president chose to try and take people’s healthcare access away first and foremost. Over four years, nothing on infrastructure happened after making a campaign promise..

Now that he lost the election because he got fewer votes overall and in key states, he is targeting anyone in his party who, in his mind, is helping the opposition. This in middle school behavior, saying I am not going to like you, because you like him. He is siccing his fervent base on them and some use vile threats against this group. Those targeted know this and still voted like they did. Now, why would they do this?

But, back to the infrastructure bill which will be signed Monday. Most Americans want the bill to happen. In fact, the Senate had nineteen Republican votes on top of the thirteen Republican representatives who voted in favor of the bill. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell voted for it saying this week it is a “godsend” to the people of the state of Kentucky. Mind you, he did not see this is a pretty good bill for his constituents. He said it is a “godsend.” I will take that as an endorsement.

This former president is reacting like he usually does through the lens of an enormous and fragile ego. How does this bill’s passing affect me? Using a line that can be used with any narcissist, but applies here – it is all about the The Donald. America’s and Americans’ interests are always secondary to that of The Donald’s. That is why extorting other countries for gain and “burning it all down” as his niece said he would to overturn the election are so easy for him to consider and do.

And, for those who believe I am all wet, consider these two things. Why would a person in a leadership position have rallies in February, 2020 when admitting to Bob Woodward on February 7, 2020 that he knew of the dangers of COVID-19. He had several rallies of his most loyal followers, lambasting COVID-19 as a Democratic hoax (that would go on to kill 750,000 Americans), and without letting his most ardent followers know they may be in danger. If that were not enough, he had a big party at the White House later in the year, where about a half-dozen folks caught COVID-19, which may have been where he contracted it.

Why does he do these things? It is an easy answer – the adulation. Full stop. It is all about The Donald. And, Representative Malliotakis and the 31 other Republicans who voted for the infrstructure bill (not just twelve others), thank you for your service to our country.

A short post with long meaning

It should be noted the GOP House leadership wants to remove the thirteen Republicans from committee positions because they voted for the infrastructure bill that most Americans want and will benefit from. Plus, it was passed on a bipartisan basis in the Senate with nineteen Republican votes, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who called it a “godsend” for his state of Kentucky.

Yet, these same “leaders” have been silent on condemning the actions of one of their representatives, Paul Gosar of Arizona, who once again has embarrassed their party and defamed his position. He sent an anime with his avatar beheading the avatar of that of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. That is immoral in my view and certainly well beneath the dignity of the office. But, tell me what does it say the GOP House leadership values by comparing these two stories?

I was just noting to our blogging friend Joy that Democrat Speaker Tip O’Neill and Republican President Ronald Reagan often disagreed, but both loved their country. They also were good friends. At the end of the day, with a drink in hand, one would call the other to toast the end of another day. This excerpt is courtesy of the book “Tip and the Gipper, ” as Reagan played the “Gipper” in a movie.

Voting for something that you feel is right should not be hindered by tribal politics. And, we can all do a better job at civil discourse. Elected officials should lead the way on civil discourse, not be among our worst practitioners. Just because we disagree with someone does not mean we should take his or her head-off, terrible pun meant to show how dangerous Gosar’s actions are regardless of party.

As an independent, I disagree with some positions AOC has taken, but that is OK, as I agree with some as well. What I cannot tolerate is the malicious and untruthful of actions of representatives like Gosar. I cannot not even get around to looking at their positions, as their actions are so dishonorable We Americans deserve better than this. So, do the people of Arizona. Full stop.

Note to public people – followers believe your BS, so get it right

For some odd reason, people latch on to a public person’s coattails and are forever a fan. Even when presented with factual information that the public person lied, the fans have cognitive dissonance and find a way to ignore what they just heard. It seems their worth is falsely attributed to this choice to follow the person, so if anything makes them feel they made a mistake, it bothers them greatly.

What frustrates me is some of these public people do not feel it is necessary to tell the truth, when a good lie will work better. Being caught lying does not harm their reputation as much as it should. Some would say, lying and cheating is just a part of winning. While, that may be true to far too many, it should not be. Too many followers believe these folks’ BS, so the public person needs to get it right and not use their fan’s puppy dog loyalty.

Yesterday, one of those people Representative Paul Gosar routed an anime where his avatar murders the avatar of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, better known as AOC. This is not the first time Gosar has defamed the position he holds, but this is well beneath a sense of decency. We need our elected officials to be a part of our better angels and not among our worse demons. This may be deemed a criminal act, but it is clearly an immoral one. Sadly, his followers are cheering on this dereliction of duty.

Then there is the ever-persistent poor actions and behavior of Senator Ted Cruz. Cruz once labeled the most despised Senator in Congress by members of both parties. He has tended to prefer grandstanding than working with others and single-handedly, brought the United States to within twenty-four hours of defaulting on our debts, until ten female Senators from both parties told him to get out of the pool and solved the problem like adults.

Lately, Cruz has been on a roll, knowing he has a followers believe his BS. But, the thing that bother me most about Cruz or any elected officials is speaking of his state seceding from the Union. Really? Setting aside the seditious nature of that stance, he is really not that stupid to advocate for a secession from the Union. He is just lying because it makes it sound like he is a statesman. To be frank, statesman is not a word that is top of mind to describe the Senator.

People believe your BS, so please do your best to get it right. Whether you are a conspiracy monger like Alex Jones or Tucker Carlson or a politician like the most recent former president or his sycophants, two of which are noted above, we must demand the truth from these folks. Democracy requires an informed public, so when public people purposefully lie to misinform or even disinform, it hurts all of us.

What can we do? Do not believe a word someone known for lying says. They earned this treatment. So, if you start at the point, the odds are in your favor that you are correct. Check multiple sources of news, where they publish errata when they get it wrong. Do not get your news from social media or verify it if you do. I would encourage folks to check what I wrote above with other sources, eg.

When people knowingly are untruthful, it is frustrating. I recognize all politicians lie, but some lie more than they tell the truth.

The second time you die

There is a Jewish saying that goes something like you die twice – the second time you die is when your name isn’t spoken anymore. In other words, when the last person who knew who you were passes on, your name will die with them.

This saying shows how short a time we are on this earth. So, we better make the best of it. I have long told my children what I learned. Your name is the most important asset you have. When people hear your name, what do you want them to think?

Would it be she was a real a person? He would give the shirt off his back. Or, would it be, I never trusted him. She was selfish and mean-spirited. Knowing we cannot please everyone, we can strive to be the best version of ourselves. We can endeavor to be kind, fair, honest, hardworking, etc. and when we fall short, we can acknowledge that we have and make amends.

Even if we are not effusive or outgoing, we can still represent ourselves well. More often, it is the folks who do not draw attention to themselves that do the heavy lifting and show up everyday on time. As I have been around the block a few times, I have observed that a person’s true value is often uncorrelated with how much they beat on their chests. The louder the false bravado, the more dubious I become about the boasting.

My step-grandfather was the only grandfather I really knew. My mother’s mother divorced her first husband as he was a “rolling stone” as The Temptations used to sing about. Ironically, my blood line grandfather’s brother, was one of the finest of men and he and my step-grandfather would fish together. Neither of these fishermen were boastful. They were hard working men, who spoke little, but when they spoke, you listened.*

I remember my step-grandfather as he was a very generous and genteel man. He was a builder, a master bricklayer which left his hands quite rough. Fishermen and women know that you need to be careful handling catfish, as their fins can slice your hands. My grandfather’s hands were so rough, he could simply grab a catfish, unhook it and throw it into the bin. I also recall a day when five us caught about one hundred fifty fish. My grandfather caught over half of them but he never said a word as he would reel them in.

False bravado is not a term one would use to define my step-grandfather. But, he is remembered well. And, he is remembered in the manner in which I would like to be.

*Note: My bloodline grandfather’s brother married one of my grandmother’s older sisters. So, two brothers married two sisters. Yet, the irony of my grandmother’s second husband being a fishing buddy of the brother of her first husband is interesting. The other less ironic note, is both sisters were gregarious characters, who married and settled down with quiet men.

Two posts on infrastructure worth a look this morning

As I was fumbling around for the subject of my post, I saw a post that intrigued me. To be frank, the subject was less important, but the author was our friend Jill who has been missing from the online blogging world as she recovers. She has been missed.. It is truly a delight to see her words again.

Her post and that of fellow blogger Annie are related to the passing of the infractucture bill. late Friday night. Rather than repeat their blog posts, I will provide links below. Please read their words on their blog and comment accordingly. I am going to put one of my comments here to emphasize how important it is to highlight this accomplishment.

“I thought his (President Biden’s) words yesterday were well done. And, he was ebullient. I did call the thirteen Republican representatives who voted for the infrastructure bill, thanking them for putting our country ahead of party. As an independent and former Republican (and Democrat) voter, this bill is more than three months over due; it is ten years over due. And, contrary to what is being portrayed by some Republicans, this was a bipartisan bill that also passed 69 to 30 in the Senate, including a vote in favor by Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell.

Not to belabor the point, but the US Chamber of Commerce and union leadership for ten years have been pleading for Congress to act. Yet, the only substantive change made was to reload funding for the Highway Trust Fund. How many bills get support of the unions and business leaders?

So, this is good news for America and Americans. We can now fix and improve things that are outdated and in disrepair and build better infrastructure to serve our needs going forward.”

When the well is dry, we learn the worth of water – a revisit to an old post

The following post was written nine years ago. Since that time the global water crisis has annually been noted as the number one or two long term concern by the World Economic Forum. Plus, we have had crises like the one in Cape Town, South Africa where they came perilously close to running out of water and Flint, Michigan where a lead pipe system caused health issues for disenfranchised populations. Caution, this is a little longer than my current posts, which I have tried to shorten.

The title above is a quote from Benjamin Franklin which speaks volumes. Water is a very dear resource and we truly do not know its ultimate value until it is gone or our access to it is limited. I recently completed one of the best history books I have ever read “Water – the Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power and Civilization” by Steven Solomon. Solomon has written for the New York Times, Business Week, The Economist, Forbes and Esquire among other places and is the author of “The Confidence Game,” so the book has an investigative storytelling bent which makes history come alive. Yet, it is not just a history book as he brings us to today’s times and provides us with cautions to heed as we move forward.

In short, the book shows the ability for great civilizations to rise, thrive and fall based on their ability to control water resources for drinking, farming, manufacturing, sewage and transportation. Through this we learn the vital role that bringing water into an area for use and then using it to sweep away sewage from that same area can have in enhancing or debilitating our lives. To paint an ugly picture, London in the mid-1800’s had a terrible period, as did other major cities, where cholera, dysentery and other diseases were prominent. The period was called “The Big Stink” as sewage was not be adequately washed away and was actually being dumped into the same drinking water sources. After years of postponement (sounds like our debt crisis) of dealing with it, the smell became so grotesque that Parliament had to act within 18 days to set in motion a plan to resolve it.

I use this example rather than others as it shows how basic the needs water fills and our inability to use it wisely can be truly catastrophic. Rome was known for its aqueducts and how it flourished with the baths it created. The baths which improved hygiene became so popular, they were the social meeting places where people of all strata kept themselves clean and healthy. It is not ironic that Rome flourished during this time and fell when many of these aqueducts were destroyed by invaders from the North.

To use a more recent example, Teddy Roosevelt is probably the greatest water president in US history. Before his time, the greatest US water accomplishment was the building of the Erie Canal which reduced the cost of goods transport immensely connecting ports. Roosevelt had three major contributions – the building of the Panama Canal, the development of planned water rights and retrieval in the west to help irrigate dry areas for crops and sustenance, and the protection of water sheds via the vast number of parks he created. His inspiration and force of will also led to the building of the Hoover Dam which occurred later and whose success was copied many times over by his cousin, Franklin when he was in the White House.

It is arguable that these water initiatives by Teddy Roosevelt are key reasons the US is as powerful today. I recognize that downplays the roles of many others, but the US leveraged its access to both coasts through the building of the Panama Canal. Plus, it helped the can-do psyche of Americans after earlier attempts by France to build the canal failed. Successful major construction can be uplifting just as failures can be crushing as China saw with the huge failure of a major dam project completed just four years ago.

I wanted to provide a little varied context from the book, as we look at problems of today and the near and longer term future. I had incorrectly given credit for this quote to Jim Rogers, the CEO of Duke Energy, but a key chapter title in the book is called “Water: The New Oil.” We have growing concerns in the US, especially in drier parts of the country, but even other areas which are not known for being dry. More on these later. While we have these concerns, we are still referenced as being more water rich than other places on the planet. What this book highlights is the insatiable desire for water in water poor countries is causing the misuse or  unplanned use of water at too fast a pace so that it cannot be replenished. What will bring the Middle East to its knees will be the ever worsening shortage of water. As rich a country as Saudi Arabia is through oil, it is water poor and will very soon be using up its water supply. Other countries are even in more dire straits in that region.

If you move into the African continent you can look to Ethiopia to where the Nile begins, but most of the water is used in Egypt. Issues have erupted around the sharing of water and will continue to be of concern. The building of the Aswan Dam was in some respects a success, but in others a failure as it was built in the wrong place. Much of the water created from the dam evaporates before it is used. The book points out to these kinds of issues as we plan ahead and we must. This issue becomes even more critical in water and economically poor countries. So, globally we need concerted planning on we should use our water resources. This problem will only become worse if we grow unfettered increasing the number of people on our planet and the impact of global warming continues to affect our supply.

Bringing the issue back to the US,  we are water rich, but could be better personal, industrial and governmental stewards of our water. Americans use far more water than others on the planet. We are seeing droughts and water fights between Georgia, Alabama and Florida and Texas has numerous places where the water table has dried up, e.g. The global warming impact will continue to hit the driest places on the planet the most and it is one of the factors there has been the onset of forest fires which we are seeing here and in Australia and Russia.

So, we need to act now to plan ahead with better water usage strategies and not wait for the “big stink” to occur using that as a metaphor for all water problems. And, we need to continue to offer and help other countries develop strategies and execute them at the regional and local levels. One of the ironies is in parts of rural India where the British water management back in the early 1900’s did not reach, they still maintain water councils who provide stewardship over water use. India has grown so rapidly in major cities, that the infrastructure needs updating, but these smaller water council areas continue to be judicious users of water because they had to be that way. We all need to be judicious.

So, what can we do? At the individual level, conservation is key. Three of the greatest water uses are in flushing toilets, washing clothes and washing dishes. If we each can strive for more the more energy-efficient wash cycles and lower water use toilets that could be an enormous savings. There are recycling examples for water where toilets can draw from shower water and rainwater collections can be used for watering plants. We Americans need to cut back on the lawn sprinklers as well as we abuse this privilege. We can do this through use, but also by planting more indigenous grasses and plants. I am also reminded of my Dad’s navy shower restrictions on ship – 25 seconds of water. You used five to wet your body. Then you soaped up and turned back on the spigot for the last twenty seconds of water to rinse off. I am not advocating navy shower limits per se, but we do not need to be like my children either and lounge around in the shower.

Yet, I think we need to be aware and advocate that we should address our problems. There are some very good things going on in our country that can be done elsewhere. Setting aside the Big Stink example, Orange County in CA has successfully reused sewage water as drinking water and for irrigation. As scary as this sounds, they use multiple filtering and cleaning techniques that have proven to work.  There is continued exploration of desalinization techniques with ocean water, but they tend to be very expensive and the issue of what to do with the salt is an issue. Plus, there are some neat things going on in industry to use recycled water for various uses.

On the flip side, we have continued to be poor stewards in other areas and have been slow to act in rectifying these issues. In “Living Downstream,” Dr. Sandra Steingraber has noted we continue to pollute our waters with petro-chemicals which wreak havoc. In Canada, they have outlawed ornamental pesticides for home use due to the air and water poisoning. And, one of the big reasons I am against fracking is, in addition to the toxic issues it causes for air and water, it uses an exorbitant amount of water, 2 – 5 million gallons per fracking well. Fracking did not cause the drought in Texas, but it sure is not helping it now. We need a strong EPA, not a weakened one.

Finally, this is a major issue that affects every resource issue, so it needs to be stated. I am going to ask everyone to set aside their religious beliefs for these next few statements. The earth cannot support the unfettered increase in population.  We are in the neighborhood of 8 million people. If we all consume as Rwandans do, the earth may be able to support 15 million. If we consume the way Americans do, the earth could only support less than 2 million. Please reread these two sentences. So, if we do not have planned birth control, we will run out of food and water. Even if you set aside global warming and its impact which is here and will get worse, we cannot support an unfettered increase in our population. So, when I hear how evil Planned Parenthood and its global partners around the world are by our more evangelical global citizens, my reaction is we desperately need family planning and birth control or we are sentencing ourselves and our children to die or to a much different kind of life. In my bible, God told us to be good stewards of the earth. We all need to step up to the plate now and heed his wishes or we will witness Benjamin Franklin’s caution noted above.

Our children deserve better – a repeated pre-pandemic clarion call

The following post was written a couple of years ago. Although the pandemic has rightfully gotten our attention, this story bears repeating.

Two time Pulitzer Prize winner Nicholas Kristof wrote an editorial earlier this week in The New York Times called “Our children deserve better.” It is a clarion call to our nation showing the plight of kids in America.

Here are a few quotes to frame the issue:

“UNICEF says America ranks No. 37 among countries in well-being of children, and Save the Children puts the United States at No. 36. European countries dominate the top places.

American infants at last count were 76 percent more likely to die in their first year than children in other advanced countries, according to an article last year in the journal Health Affairs. We would save the lives of 20,000 American children each year if we could just achieve the same child mortality rates as the rest of the rich world.”

“Half a million American kids also suffer lead poisoning each year, and the youth suicide rate is at its highest level on record….The Census Bureau reported this week that the number of uninsured children increased by 425,000 last year.”

These are different views and sources of the threats to US children that note we have a problem. Another source I read a couple of years ago noted America has a much higher maternal mortality rate at child birth than other civilized countries, which further endangers children as well as the mothers.

Yet, these issues are not being discussed in the halls of government. We have a poverty problem in our country with too many living in or just above poverty levels. We have not expanded Medicaid in fifteen states* whose numbers are worse than these national numbers per capita. We have not addressed our national water crisis which has a Flint, MI like exposure to lead in too many cities and a volume of available fresh water issue in other places. We have not invested as we should to diminish crime and provide more opportunities for jobs in disenfranchised areas. There are several pockets of success that can be emulated in more cities.

We also need to address better gun governance, especially with the number one gun death cause by far being suicide and a non-inconsequential accidental gun death rate. And, we have not dealt with the continuing and rising exposure to technology and artificial intelligence which have taken and will take even more jobs in the future. Finally, there is that climate change thing we need to deal with.

These are real problems. And, they will get worse. Data driven analysis of causes and solutions are needed. They are both multi-faceted. Investing more now, will save huge amounts later. This is not just an urban issue, it is rural one as well. The opioid crisis is rampant in these impoverished rural areas, for example.

None of the solutions will fit on a bumper sticker. And, political attempts to oversimplify issues should be questioned. Here is an easy contradiction to spot – if people believe gun deaths are a mental health issue, then why the effort to eliminate or not expand mental health benefits?

Please make your legislators aware of these issues and ask pointed questions. These questions deserve answers, not bumper sticker slogans. These concerns deserve to be talked about, studied and acted upon.

*Note: The number of states who have not expanded Medicaid is now twelve. Here is a link to a tracking of the states who have and have not. What puzzles me is this change would help people in rural areas, which tend to vote more conservatively. So, not expanding Medicaid hurts health access, but also rural hospitals and economies, with the federal government funding 90% of the cost. As former Republican governor of Ohio and presidential candidate John Kasich said, Medicaid expansion is a “no brainer.”

Thursday Thimblefuls of Thoughts

It is supposed to be a rainy, cold day here. So, it is a good day to wander with my thoughts, since I cannot wander outside. Here a few thimblefuls of thoughts on this Thursday. Please be forewarned, these thoughts and $3.00 will get you a cup of regular coffee.

I sure hope Democrats will learn a lesson from the Virginia election results. They should have seen it coming, but continued to fail to act. The bickering by Democrats in the US Congress led to their still not passing the three month overdue infrastructure bill and a tandem piece of legislation that would actually help Americans. I pleaded with the Speaker and two other representatives to get something done. The Americans expected them to pass something, but they still have not. It is akin to a circular firing squad.

As for the Republicans, while their party is adrift, untethered to truthfulness and lawfulness, their choice not to participate in the governance process in Washington does not seem to hurt them. What concerns me is the members of the party do not seem to care that untruthfulness and unlawfulness are key tenets.

And, it is not just rationalizing the untruthful and seditious actions of the former president. Critical Race Theory has been invented as a name-calling hammer that most people don’t know what it is, but have been told it is bad. As a white suburban mother said, it just teaches kids the truthful history, that bad things have been done by those in power to disenfranchised people – always has. But, the conservative leaders and opinion hosts have been beating a drum about how dare people teach that white people did some bad things in our past. This white washing of history has been a planned effort to woo votes.

It saddens me how ill-informed Americans are on the whole about issues, history, economics, etc. I have written several times that we are “The United States of Entertainment.” Most people spend time focusing on sports and entertainment news. If we do read or watch news, we tend to get it from sources who are telling us what we want to see or hear. Or, worse we will get it from someone on social media, where false stories are routed six times more often than real news per a media analyst. This is why Facebook did not change their model, as they made more money letting falsehoods flow more quickly.

We have serious issues that are not being dealt with or discussed. And, some are at a burning platform stage, pun intended. Climate change is hurting us now, so we must act. This is no longer a future issue. More and intense wildfires, more sunny day flooding in coastal towns, more stalled weather patterns, more damaging hurricanes with higher sea levels are all predicted events (per Climate change scientists) that are happening with greater frequency.

Voting and civil rights are under attack in the US and in other paces. The fear of the other sells. Lies sell. The former president knows this which has been his modus operandi for decades. Voting and civil rights have been under attack for several years, but they have been heightened by the staged and planned Big Lie by the former president that he was cheated out of the election, which he still cannot prove. He lost because he got fewer votes, but is not adult enough to admit it. As his niece Mary said before the election, her uncle will “burn it all down to avoid losing the election.”

Then there is naysaying of COVID vaccines that continues to get promoted that keeps us from moving full steam ahead. And, that debt and deficit will not fix itself, especially when we have to spend to improve and fix our infrastructure. Finally, we must be more civil to one another. We can disagree without being disagreeable. Listen to understand not to respond.

What frustrates this independent and former member of both major parties, is what I said above is overtly obvious if people would just read or watch multiple news outlets. I have said many times, it is hard enough to govern with facts and the truth, but when we govern off lies, it is nigh impossible. We must get our legislators to focus on doing their jobs, not just keeping their jobs. When they don’t, we are the people who get hurt.

Climate of Hope – an update of a older post

One of the positives of the previous US president pulling out of the Paris Climate Change Accord is it galvanized the many who see the need to act to save our planet. Coupling the US exit with the former president placing climate change deniers and fossil fuel supporters in key cabinet roles, he placed the US government at the kids table, while the adults talk about solving the world’s problem. But, with the current president, this is changing, but even he is not moving fast enough. Getting the US back to the table is a huge plus, though.

Fortunately, even the former president’s actions cannot stop the momentum as a tipping point on renewable energy and other efforts have been reached. As reported in the book “Climate of Hope,” by former New York City Mayor and Governor Michael Bloomberg (he actually did some good before his sexual harassment caught up with him) and former Executive Director of the Sierra Club Carl Pope, cities, businesses and citizens have been leading the way. This is important as cities are significant contributors to climate change and can therefore make a huge dent in ameliorating its effect. And, they are sharing their successes formally and informally

Some of these efforts include:

– Restoring and renovating older buildings into green buildings. Bloomberg touts the renovation of the 1931 built Empire State as a key example.

– Building new structures with an even greener footprint. In India they deploy white rooftops to reflect away the sun to minimize cooling costs, e.g,

– Building more pedestrian areas which provide safer and eco-friendly access to shops, restaurants and businesses. These car free zones actually are part of a solution to reroute traffic to reduce carbon polluting stoppage.

– Building and nurturing buffers to allow nature to do its jobs to absorb the pounding of the ocean, since,  so many large cities are coastal cities with some below sea level. We should use nature to provide defenses that stand the test of time.

– Developing master traffic plans embracing car sharing, ride sharing, bike sharing, pedestrian pathways, electric vehicles from buses to taxis, and the elegant use of mass transit based on capital needs and restrictions. Bloomberg is big on measuring things, so installing GPS in New York taxis allowed them to measure success and make modifications to their plans as executed.

– Planting more carbon saving trees in cities and other areas, as well as using other plants such as mangroves in coastal areas as they suck carbon out of the air.

– Conserving food and reducing wastage. We waste huge amounts of food, both before and after it is cooked. Imperfect fruits and vegetables go straight to the dumps unless concentrated efforts prevent it and guide distribution to other users. Buying local saves on transportation costs and emissions, as well (but we need to buy more of what grows naturally in an area, as a caveat).

– Challenging manufacturers for efficient production and distribution. For example, a significant amount of wood goes to pallets that are tossed after one use. Look to more durable pallets that can be reused. Plus, the US does an excellent job of distributing products by rail and can do even better, as the rest of the world improves their efforts. These transmodal distribution centers that marry the efforts of ships, planes, trains and trucks provide huge efficiences and enhance trade.

– Dissuading the building of new coal plants. Active efforts have reduced coal from over 53% market share in 1990 to 30% market share of energy in 2016. Market forces are reducing this further as natural gas became cheaper and renewable energy cost fell to become more on par with coal. If new coal plants must be built, do it in concert with retiring older, less efficient plants. Fortunately, coal has become more costly to produce (not even factoring in its other costs) than natural gas which has its own set of issues) and is more on par with certain renewables.

– Making investment funds available to pay for upfront costs for renewable energy in countries that have fewer capital funding sources. India could do even more with available funding, especially as they electrify more of the country.

The great news is these things are happening. And, they are being shared. Please read this book. It is brief and optimistic. Also, watch the soon the sequel to Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” and the excellent documentary “Ice on Fire” to learn more. Also, there is a very practical book called “Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman” by Miriam Horn on dealing with climate change. Iowa gets over 40% of its electricity from wind energy with Texas getting about 20% from renewables. And, California is the 4th largest solar energy “country” in the world, by itself. Then spread the news about what is happening.

To be frank, these actions are positive and smart irrespective of one’s stance on climate change. And, a final note from Bloomberg is the millennials are paying attention. They want to work in places that are doing their part to fight climate change. Think about that as you plan. Yet, we still need to move faster than we are. In my view we are at least ten years behind where we should have been.