Friday, November 21, 2014

THE BRIGHTEST AND BEST

Audrey, my environmentalist/violinist granddaughter, made 3rd chair, 2nd violin, in the Duke Medicine Orchestra. Duke Medicine Orchestra She is at Duke University finishing her Master's Degree. The picture above was taken when she and her mother Carajean went on an adventure to Devil's River this past September. They joined Audrey's former ballet teacher and his wife, and stayed at a beautiful place on the river itself. I thought they would be "camping out", and couldn't feature my daughter Carajean roughing it! 

Carajean wrote the following about her son, who, by the way is consistently on the Honor Roll at school. According to Mom, he and his dad enjoy their time together at the monthly tournaments and on bicycle rides, weather permitting. The photo below was on Tanner's 16th birthday in August. Note sister Ashlyn's gerbil Chips hanging out in his pocket. The hat must be for learning to captain their boat on Lake Austin next summer. He certainly looks the part!

"Tanner is playing in what is called a 'Champs' tournament. There are three level of tournaments (outside of the local tournaments here in Amarillo), ZAT, Champs, and Super Champs. These tournaments take place every month all over the state of Texas. You play within your age group, I think Tanner's is 16-18. Everyone in the Champs tournament has already won the ZAT tournament. If he wins a Champs tournament then he can only play in the Super Champs tournaments thereafter, where everyone else has won as well. So the skill level increases every time he wins a tournament. Private High School tournaments are called TAPPS tournaments. They occur once a year in the spring. He won second place last year, a freshman against a senior. And this past August he won the TriState Area Tennis Tournament with a tie-breaker against an 18-year old. He is good and improving but will never be a professional. The competition is crazy!" (This proud grandmomma said if he kept it up, he might be a professional some day.) 
                                                                                 
My older son, Craig, sent me an update on granddaughter Hannah, who auditioned for and was accepted by the Booker T. Washington Performing Arts High School in Dallas. 

"Booker T. scores out very well on academics. They have to be able to keep their grades up, even with the emphasis on their particular 'major' (Hannah's being theater). Hannah is taking several advanced placement courses - some where she's the only freshman, I think."

My youngest granddaughter, Kelly, has also made the A Honor Roll, and was recently given the Math Assessment test. She scored 100% - the only 100 in her third grade class. Mom Amy sent me the following on her cheer team.


"Her cheer team recently won Showcase at Concordia University. They now go to Regionals the day after Thanksgiving in San Antonio."

Kelly's big brother Travis has been sharing quality time with his dad Matthew (my youngest child), as Tanner does with his dad Branch. Travis has been taking golfing lessons, and playing in frequent PGA Junior Golf tournaments. Last month he won his second one, shooting a 41 on 9-holes. I don't know who was the proudest - Dad or Travis!

He's also on the A & B Honor Roll.. Dad mentioned to me that one of the two Bs was an advanced placement class.

The last I heard from my oldest grandchild Cameron, he was moved into his own apartment in Fort Worth, and his new job at the Unitarian Church is going really well. I just found out why I haven't heard more frequently - he's been a busy, busy guy! Last year he and some friends formed a group of singers who are available for hire during the Christmas season. They have their own website now. Uptown Christmas Carolers  Cameron is the handsome dude on the far right!
Besides his church position as Director of Education, planning the upcoming caroling season, Cameron has also recently recorded backup vocals for a Motown revival album sung by Leon Bridges. The new album hasn't come out yet, but he says he will let me know! Here is a sample of Leon Bridges singing Leon Bridges . From opera to hymns to Simon and Garfunkel, and now some low-down, Motown blues. Cameron, your range is fantastic! 

Last, but far from "least" is Carajean's daughter Ashlyn. I haven't heard much out of Ashlyn since she started her first year of college at OSU in September. I know she was very busy at first getting acclimated to her new surroundings, and rushing the sorority she wanted to join. (She made it.) A while back, the whole family got flu shots. I'm not certain if they've had them before, but Carrie said this time everyone except Tanner came down with the flu! (I think they must have been exposed before their shots!) Ashlyn was coming home on weekends and being medicated. She ended up with a bad infection and cough requiring antibiotics, much to her chagrin. Her mom said she was extremely upset that the cough medicine contained codeine, causing her to oversleep one morning and missing an important biology exam. I hope to hear more when she comes with her mother and big sister for a visit in December. 

This has been so uplifting for me to write about, and to realize how blessed our family is to have such great kids! All healthy, smart, talented, and of course, I think they are all beautiful! 

Love and peace,
Marilyn

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Gettin' It Off Our Chests!


If any of you are as dismayed as I am at the results of this past election.. and are wondering what on earth has happened to the people of the United States to cause them to elect such, in some cases, ungodly candidates, you will understand it better when you read former Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower's article The Rise of the Stealth Ogliarchy. In this article, he spells out what many of us have suspected for quite some time.. at least since the Citizens United verdict issued by the SCOTUS. That being, the elections are more and more frequently being bought with "dark money" donated by special interest groups. Big oil, big Pharma, Koch brothers, etc.

I personally shudder at the election results in the state of Texas. I'm not happy with our newly elected Governor Greg Abbott, but God forbid anything happens to him and we have the likes of the clown Dan Patrick running our state!
Read what some of the recently elected or re-elected politicians have said in the past: One politician states Obama "is possessed by demons"; one states that gays "are out to recruit your children" and "gay people don't deserve civil rights"; another says Hillary Clinton is "the anti-Christ"; another said "Let's go to war with Mexico". Yes, these people were actually elected to represent the "people". You can read about them and other nightmare electees here: Look Who's In Office Now

Congressional Lottery? A suggestion by Michael Schulson in the Daily Beast shortly after the election isn't such a bad idea when you consider the ones we recently elected to office. He starts off  with "If you’re looking for an unrepresentative group of Americans, the House of Representatives isn’t a bad place to start. Its members are disproportionately old and white. More than 80 percent of them are men. They spend around four hours per day on the phone, asking people for money. Unlike most other telemarketers, they have a median net worth of almost $900,000. More than a third of them hold law degrees." He goes on to state that "not much changed" in this past election.
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In the past, I have published things written by my old friend Jack Garner. He gets particularly riled up at Letters to the Editor in his hometown paper. They always publish his response. Here is the latest letter that raised his hackles.

Letters to the Editor, Nov. 14 
Denton Record-Chronicle 
Senior Spending

"America’s senior citizens are in an enviable position. They have an ever-increasing percentage of the country’s wealth.


The federal government spends nearly seven times as much per capita on programs for people 65 and older than it does on programs for children.


Because of an aging population and rising health care costs, government spending on senior citizens will increase greatly during the coming years.


By contrast, young adults and their children are by far the poorest age cohort of Americans. They are suffering from the effects of automation, globalization and soaring student debt.


They will spend their lives paying interest on the government debt that their elders have racked up.


Government spending that will promote their future prosperity (such as infrastructure, education and basic scientific research) continues to fall as a percentage of federal spending.


Unfortunately, a substantial majority of older Americans show by their votes that they support these trends. They want to reduce government spending, including in the three critical areas mentioned, except when it comes to their own benefits.


Let’s hope that they eventually develop an increased concern for the future of those who come after them." .....   B** M*********

And here is Jack's acerbic response:

"Lo the tin woodsman still searches for a heart, and there is no suggestion of such an organ in the letter of B** M********* as he berates American seniors for their slice of the American pie. What do you advocate, Mr. M*********, for the elderly and infirm? Perhaps abandon them with no food on an ice floe as the Eskimos once did?

Personally, I don’t believe young adults and children that you cry crocodile tears for are the real reason for your tirade. I propose it is you and your class that would like to take away benefits from the old in hopes of lowering your taxes.

Your missive brings to mind Scrooge’s admonition to those trying to gather money for food for the poor on Christmas. Does Ebenezer nest some place in your family tree, Sir?

Senior citizens you rebuke are those that have worked their fingers to the bone, and paid tax burdens of a past generation. They include veterans of Korea, Vietnam, and Operation Desert Storm Would you toss the men and women that served into the trash heap now that they are past the age of serving? You, Sir, and your ilk are responsible for the Republican Party being branded as mean-spirited.

In closing, as I suggested in my opening, you are heartless and selfish. May the Grinch leave a chunk of coal in you stocking this Christmas, and may the New Year bring you a sense of generosity that you are now sadly lacking." ...John Nance Garner   (Ornament by Ann Lihl)

That's telling him, Jack!

However, what Jack has failed to note is that it is the corporate welfare in the way of subsidies, and the unfair tax code with all its loopholes that allow corporations to move their headquarters to other countries to avoid paying taxes, as well as the wealthiest 1% of the U.S. citizens not only taking advantage of the loopholes in the code, but also hiding their assets in foreign countries, that have helped to create such disparity in government spending. If they all would carry their share of the tax burden, the things such as "infrastructure, education, and basic scientific research" would have ample funds. And one must remember that the largest creditor of the U.S. government is Social Security! The seniors -- those 65 and older -- have contributed as much or more to the Social Security fund than any of the younger generations have had an opportunity to do.

No more tears for now. We are approaching the best holiday seasons of the year. And it is imperative to focus on the things we are thankful for. Stay tuned.

Peace and love,
Marilyn


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

GOOD NEWS


Even though the tragedy of Ebola magnifies daily there are some good things happening, and we should throw up our hands in praise. Microsoft's Bill Gates has donated $50 million dollars, and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg $25 million towards fighting Ebola.

Stories abound regarding the selfless work being done by volunteers in Africa, and now in the United States, to assist the vulnerable victims of the dread disease. Here is one story of the healthcare workers such as Doctors Without Borders, who have lost at least 7 of their doctors treating Ebola in Africa, the International Medical Corp, and the difficulties they face daily. These and members of other volunteer organizations lay their lives on the line daily to help their fellow man.

How much better a legacy to die like this than on a foreign battlefield -- saving lives rather than killing people?
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(Save the Children)
The Nobel Peace prize was recently awarded to Malala Yousafzai, the young teenager who survived being shot in the head by the Taliban for publicly supporting girls' education in Pakistan. The prize was shared with Indian children's rights activist, Kailash Satyarthi. The plight of children all over the world deserves the attention and benefits brought through the words and works of these two courageous human beings.

Too many of us take for granted the government-funded educational opportunities available in the U.S. Now we need to implement a system for the college-bound students that doesn't leave them or their families burdened with debt.
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Some politicians go too far to protect their own interests by appeasing their corporate contributors and playing to the uneducated beliefs held by many citizens where climate change is concerned. As the above cartoon points out, they are not scientists. Thankfully, there are many scientists in the world -- both young and old -- who don't pay attention to the politics that deny the earth is getting warmer at a faster pace than ever before, and it is we humans and our technology who are causing it. A few continue to research and invent items that will, or in some cases already are doing so, assist in helping delete the pollution of industry as well as to explore new energy sources and the ways to use them.

"The world is so empty if one thinks only of mountains, rivers and cities,
But to know someone who thinks and feels with us,
And who, though distant, is close to us in spirit,
This makes the earth for us, an inhabited garden." Goethe

The numbers are growing -- those "who think and feel with us" -- that it is our duty to make certain the earth will be "an inhabited garden" for the generations to come. We must not give up hope that it can and will be done. Here are some innovative ideas that caught my eye recently...

How about flexible, printable solar panels? They can easily be mounted on the sides of buildings as well as many other uses. The video is only three minutes long. 


The 2013 Science in Action winner for 2013, sponsored by Scientific American as part of the Google Science Fair, was Elif Bilgin, a 16-year old girl from Istanbul, Turkey, who developed a bioplastic from discarded banana peels. Scientific American had this to say about her project: "The ingredients to make Bilgin’s plastic are relatively benign. As she wrote in her entry materials, 'it is possible to say that one could do it at home.' In her research, she learned that starch and cellulose are used elsewhere in the bioplastic industry (such as from the skin of mangoes) and made the leap that banana peels might be suitable feedstock sources as well. She hopes that the use of the bioplastic could replace some of the petroleum-based plastics in use today for such applications as insulation for electric cables and for cosmetic prostheses."

Think of all the banana peels that are going to waste (maybe they are composted?) at our nation's zoos! Read more about Elif Bilgin here: Banana Peels to Plastic
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What drives people more than anything to take risks such as fighting Ebola -- either by hands-on or in the laboratory -- to protest against a repressive government (such as the Hong Kong students have been doing), or to make dramatic lifestyle changes that result in better health? Dr. Dean Ornish has written an excellent article about the recent U.N. Climate Summit where he explores the reasons behind people's actions, and what motivates them. His answer is "Love is more powerful than fear as a sustainable motivator."  (Please read it here: Love Not Fear) He aptly concludes that in order to "fix" climate change it will take love to carry us over the long haul.
It will take many innovators, inventors, and lots of love for our planet and the future of our children to make the strides that are necessary. And every good thing starts with an idea! 

"Ideas are scary..."
(“Green is green,” captures the spirit of GE's aggressive push into clean technology, alternative energy and eco-friendly infrastructure. Daily Reckoning.com)




It goes without saying, we need to support and encourage the innovators in our society. The children of the world should receive the finest of educations and their ideas cultivated. And we need to insist that our politicians pay more attention to the people, the planet, and our future rather than the demands for profits by the large corporations who are guilty of continually despoiling our planet.

Peace and love,
Marilyn

Friday, October 10, 2014

TIMELY GUEST COLUMN

I have reposted one of Beth's columns before. (Guidelines to Help Congress) Beth is a country pastor in the mountains of Virginia who happens to have been an attorney before going into the ministry. I love the richness of her poetry and folksy articles. From time to time she touches on items that have been of real concern to me as well. She always helps me get myself back in touch with personal integrity, and what it means to be a believer. She's very astute when she expresses her feelings on the political scene, both nationally and worldwide. This one hit me hard.

I told Beth that I had just mailed my voter's ballot for the November elections and was feeling pretty smug with myself. Then, this morning I read the following on her blog. The statement "...getting busy is not limited to electing our favorites" pretty much knocked the smugness out of me! I've got to work on "humility", and stop myself when I feel I am becoming a "front porch whiner, complainer, or kvetcher. (Her words.) And you know what, Beth? Not one poll has asked for my opinion!

I Agreed with Rush (and the sun did not fall from the sky)

"The opinion poll as news, Rush Limbaugh pronounced yesterday on his radio program, is nonsensical. I happen to agree.

Of course, that’s probably the point at which Mr. Limbaugh and I part company, being poles apart on most things political.

But his point is an important one, I think: the news media does no one a service by soliciting our opinions and then reporting them back to us as if it were news to tell me what I think.

Of course, this tendency is not limited to media outlets. The, in my view, by-far worse example is governance by opinion poll.

What does it matter, as asked yesterday, whether I think ebola or the enterovirus is the more dangerous. There actually is a way to factually ascertain which is the more dangerous. Asking me is not the way. And my opinion will not change the facts.

This is but one problem in governing by opinion poll: I, the voter, am not the best expert from whom to solicit advice for any topic with the sole exception of one: what I think.

But what I think, as a voter and a citizen, while relevant to political discussion, discourse and decision, is not determinative. It is merely one of many factors and, I would posit, perhaps the least important of all.

For the simple fact is that I might be wrong.

And we are a representative republic, N. O. T. a democracy.

It is an important distinction and we the people seem to have forgotten it.

A representative republic has built into it the recognition that majority rule is not always best.

A representative republic presupposes statesmanship as a craft that is learned, practiced and perfected.

A representative republic presupposes that our representatives will actually listen to each other.

A representative republic presupposes that our collective wisdom is actually superior to our individual wisdom.

Of course, that presupposes that wisdom is actually something desired by the nation as a whole.

So how about this.

How about WE, THE PEOPLE, who hold the truth that we don’t always or even often know best to be self-evident, IMMEDIATELY STOP – cease, desist, refrain, from answering all these confounded opinion polls.

Let’s stop worrying so much about what we think and about being heard and worry more about doing the hard work of governance – by making informed choices in our voting, by taking the time to learn what the big questions of government actually are, by listening to our opponents, who just might have something to teach us (yes, for me, that includes Rush Limbaugh, even when or perhaps especially when I do not agree with him), by rolling up our sleeves and getting to work.

Make no mistake about it. Good governance requires work. Effort. Commitment.

And the work, commitment and effort are ours.

There is no amorphous ‘they’.

There is only us.

We have the government we’ve worked to have.

So if we do not like it, it is up to us to get busy.

And getting busy is not limited to electing our favorites.

Getting busy includes getting behind those with whom we disagree in common cause for our collective good.

It presupposes that those who disagree with me love their country as much as I do.

It presupposes that the work of being a citizen matters.

It presupposes the basic and fundamental understanding that bitching about something is not doing something about it.

We cannot afford to be front porch whiners, complainers, kvetchers.

And hey, this governing thing also requires, I suspect, stepping back in appreciation for all our many blessings, recognizing them for the gifts they are.

That is the pathway of humility.

A little dose goes a long way."   If Beth had a blog

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Three important men in my life are currently suffering some health challenges. My 96-year old dad fell this morning at 4 am, and the nursing home called me. After a trip to the E.R., x-rays and C-T scan, he's back in his room. A few stitches and monitoring him for a few days was all that was necessary. (He's going to make it to 100!)

My older son, Craig, is still recovering from a ruptured appendix and surgery a few weeks back. They have been giving him large doses of antibiotics to fight off a possible infection that would require more surgery. His next checkup will decide. He's back at work, but still having discomfort and fatigue.

And then there is Matthew, my youngest child. He didn't tell me until this morning when I called to tell him about his grandfather that he was going in for a biopsy on his throat. (I assume his esophagus.) Back in the summer, Matt came down with "walking" pneumonia that required antibiotics for quite awhile. His cough stayed with him, and he developed a serious case of laryngitis which lasted too long as well. On top of that, he was having acid reflux. All must have a big hand in his doctor's decision to conduct the biopsy. His wife Amy just sent me a message that he is in recovery, all went well, and they will have the results in a week. I took that as a good sign. If the tissue looked suspicious, surely they would have done a test on it while he was still there! 

Needless to say, this has not been the best of times for this mom. I am so fortunate to have such wonderful children as these two sons, and a daughter as well. When any of them shows any sign of illness, the fear that washes over me can only be imagined by another loving parent experiencing sickness or injury of their beloved children. No matter how old, big, or distant, they are always our "babies". I can remember each of them as infants like it was yesterday. And wonder what I could have done differently in their upbringing to influence their health as adults. It's easy to feel like you've had a good influence on them when they are flourishing in their lives. It's also easy to take responsibility when things are not going so well. And, I cannot imagine a life without them.

I have lots of prayers going into the Universe for all of these family members. Sometimes, though, it's hard to "let go and let God"..

Peace, love, and good health,
Marilyn



Friday, October 3, 2014

Are Texans Crazy or Weird?

(Dallas News - GOP Lt. Gov. Debate)
From a friend who spends each summer in Europe:
"The last few weeks here, in Berlin, I have been going out around 9 pm to my local Kneipe (tavern) for beer and a late supper (around 10:30 or 11:00), where I am a Stammkunde (regular customer). Usually I wind up talking with other customers from many different European countries.

Without my bringing it up, the conversation often turns to the USA, since most of the people I talk to have visited the US at least as tourists, and they are informed about the political and social mess we now have. And most of the time they use Texas as an example of whatever point they want to make about how strange and weird it all is."
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One thing that really makes Texas appear weird, Denny, is Republican State Senator Dan Patrick, who won this year's primary election for Republican candidate for Lt. Governor of Texas. When he was a popular sportscaster in Houston, he was full of stunts that should be spread all over the media. Like the time he let two cheerleaders paint him before a Houston Oilers game. Oh, yes, he also had an on-air vasectomy!
(media.nbcdfw.com)
Funny how Texas voters didn't allow all the crazy antics as well as the mental health issues of Dan Patrick to stop them from electing him to the State Senate. He was elected even though records showed he not only suffered severe depression when he was younger, but even attempted suicide. The "crazy antics" indicated to me that he was still suffering from some kind of mental aberration. As a Texas State Senator, Patrick has racked up a lot of support for anti-abortionists (he sponsored a bill that required women to have a sonogram when seeking an abortion), and showed his bigoted side against Muslims and undocumented Mexicans.

Times sure have changed. George McGovern suffered one of the worst defeats in history in 1972, after naming Thomas Eagleton as his vice-presidential running mate, when it was discovered that Eagleton had been treated for depression. Even though he was replaced after 17-days with Sargent Shriver, the first choice of Eagleton as McGovern's running mate was said to have doomed McGovern's campaign. Much as McCain's choice of Sarah Palin tanked him.

Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson has stated that Patrick—who had consistently used extreme language about Texas’s “illegal invasion” and the wave of violent crime and “third-world diseases” that migrants were bringing to the state—had hired undocumented immigrants himself to work at his chain of sports bars in the 1980s. (Emphasis mine.)  

Surely in the upcoming election he will not be allowed to take over the important role of Lieutenant Governor. Texas Democrats are pinning their hopes of turning Texas "purple" on the Democratic candidate, State Senator Leticia Van de Putte.  Of course, electing State Senator Wendy Davis Governor would put us over the top!
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(Perry's Smug Shot)
We can't leave out Governor Rick Perry when we speak of how others view Texas as "weird". He has been all over the news recently due to the criminal indictment brought against him last month. Most people like to believe this is all about the Travis County DA, who was convicted (and served jail time) for a DWI, and refused Perry's request that she resign. He threatened to defund the Public Integrity Unit, which falls under the Travis County DA's office, if the DA didn't resign. (He defunded the unit.) This Unit "polices corruption in state government. Practically speaking, this anti-corruption unit is one of the few checks on the power and influence Perry has accumulated over 14 years in office." The Texas Observer has an excellent article that explains in detail the criminal charges against Perry. It goes on to say, "Although the indictment doesn't mention it, the Public Integrity Unit is investigating a scandal involving the $3 billion Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, a fund close to the governor’s office that suffered from cronyism and lax oversight."..Forrest Wilder

Perry went on MSNBC earlier this week, and declared he has been preparing to run for President again. It's hard to believe, but his popularity has not waned since his indictment. 
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"He is a comet streaking across the national skies, but comets either burn out or they fall to earth and kill all the dinosaurs. One or the other will happen to Ted Cruz." -- Cal Jillson, Political Science professor, Southern Methodist University

It would take too much time in this post to discuss Senator Ted Cruz. When he comes up for reelection, I'm sure he will have provided even more fodder for our Texas critics. It looks pretty certain that he will try to make a run for the Presidential nomination. There's a good article about his appearance and speech at a Christian conference made up of mostly Arab Christians in D.C. recently In Defense of Christians. His lack of sensitivity to those attending the conference was apparent, as he put making points politically ahead of the needs of Christians in the Middle East. He was booed off the stage. Another blow to Texas credibility.

U.S. Senator John Cornyn has pretty much kept a low profile lately. Guess he figures he's a shoo-in. I may just skip that item on my ballot, as none of his opposing candidates impress me either. Contender Alameel has been described as a Democrat in name only (DINO), supporting anti-choice legislation, and bankrolling Republican candidates with that agenda. He also unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2012, and at that time he said of himself that he was not a "typical" Democrat, that he was "conservative" in many ways. 
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(The Texas Tribune)
I made my feelings about State Senator Wendy Davis and her run for Governor in my post There's Hope For Texas Yet, but I have yet to say much about her opponent, Attorney General Greg Abbott. That will be forthcoming. I cannot help but think that endorsing David Alameel for the U.S. Senate will be detrimental to Wendy Davis's campaign. The anti-choice issue is a vote-changer for me, but maybe Alameel's extreme wealth is helping her campaign. Maybe? Reportedly, she did well against Abbott in their recent debates. One headline read "Wendy Davis knocks it out of the park in debate with Greg Abbott". Read about it here: Latest Gov. Debate
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Does anyone wonder why Texas is considered "crazy or weird"? If we don't make significant changes in this year's elected officials, we might just get crazier or weirder.

Peace, and get out the vote,
Marilyn


Friday, September 26, 2014

HORRIFIC HEADLINES (And Why We Must Read Them)



From Merriam-Webster.com. To muse: 
  • to think or say (something) in a thoughtful way
  • to become absorbed in thought; especially:  to turn something over in the mind meditatively and often inconclusively

In my header to this blog, I say that these are my "musings". As I have more and more begun to write on subjects of a political or world news nature, my conscience worries me to the point I often dream about it. I have stated before that I am a believer in "what you hold in your thoughts, you create in your world". As thoughts are energy, how do I justify musing about the crises in our own country, as well as around the world? Am I adding to the fear consciousness of the planet when I not only turn these things over and over in my mind, but write about them as well? And as Merriam-Webster states, "often inconclusively", in most cases, I cannot come to conclusions (or solutions) as good as or any better than our politicians or world leaders propose.

I consider myself a pacifist. How then can I justify the elated response I feel at the revelations that the United States has begun bombing in other countries, perhaps even risking killing innocent citizens? The anger I felt at the brutal decapitations carried out by the terrorists, and published in the media for all to see... is that justification for perhaps killing 100s or even thousands of innocents by our own government? But how else are we supposed to stop these merciless terrorists? "Love Thine Enemy" doesn't cut it, does it?

I have been opposed to the death penalty for many years, and feel ashamed that our state of Texas has held more executions in recent years than any other state in the Union. How do I explain my first reaction when I hear of some horrific rape and killing of a child? My immediate thought is this person deserves to die! 

From time to time I have gone on what I call a "news fast" to prevent my dwelling on so many painful events around the globe. That never lasts very long, as it is too hard to ignore the many electronic newscasts now available. When I quit watching cable (for monetary, not moral reasons), I thought it would be easier -- but it's not. 

The following article I read recently provides some salve to my conscience. The entire article is quite moving, as Courtney Martin wrote this after a visit with her parents. Her mother has been on a personal news fast herself. Consequently, Courtney brought her mother to tears as she discussed the current news. I could relate when she said that those of us who cannot tear ourselves away from news have become "scabbed over" in an effort to protect our psyches. That may have worked on my waking self, but as my dreams indicate, deep down in my consciousness I have yet to assimilate any toughness, and my tears flow as well. 
From The Unbearable Weight of World News by Courtney E. Martin
"...shielding oneself from the news is dangerous for everyone. If we, the relatively safe and privileged reader, don’t act as witnesses to the world’s violence, how can we fight against it? Is our mental comfort more important than the motivation that our discomfort might produce?

..As for viewing images of horrific violence perpetrated upon innocent victims around the world, Susan Moeller of the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda wrote '…we the adult audience have the responsibility of looking at it — forewarned of the horrors to be seen perhaps, but not coddled into a comfortable obliviousness.'"

Two phrases used in Courtney's article have stuck with me. One is "compassionate fatigue", which is an accurate description of what one feels after so many stories of violence that put one in emotional overload. The other is a practice that so many responsible journalists are now trying to emulate, "solutions journalism". They have their own website, Solutions Journalism, which is all about helping writers and journalists to reframe their coverage "from a more solutions-oriented viewpoint."




I need to study some of the articles on this site in order to feel better about what I put on my blog in the future. I know I've had at least one friend who wrote that she postponed opening the blog for fear of something dreadful on it. In the meantime,  if you need a shot of inspiration and optimism about the state of the world, I urge you to go to the Good News Network. There really are good things happening in our world today.

Peace and love,
Marilyn

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

IN THE NAME OF CLIMATE CHANGE

(Credit: Media Matters.org)

An estimated 310,000 marchers from all over the U.S. - and 150 countries of the world - showed up in NYC on September 21st to protest climate change. None of the major network Sunday news shows mentioned this historic event. I hate to think that the corporations behind these networks are against any efforts to slow down the current destruction of our planet. Not much mention has been given to the U.N.'s Global Climate Summit, also being held in New York City.

The demand for solutions, and indeed, even recognition that the problem exists, is growing. It appears that some major corporations in the U.S. are listening. We need so much more to happen, and more organizations and State and Federal Legislators to jump on the band wagon before it is too late. Do your research, and let your representatives know you want stricter laws protecting our environment. Boycott businesses who support anti-climate change views.

.."When (Diane) Rhem asked why Google was leaving ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), (Google Chairman Eric) Schmidt said, 'Well, the company (Google-founded organization, Forecast the Facts) has a very strong view that we should make decisions in politics based on facts -- what a shock. And the facts of climate change are not in question any more. Everyone understands climate change is occurring and the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a much worse place. And so we should not be aligned with such people -- they're just, they're just literally lying.'"...Daniel Souweine, Huffpost  

I was not familiar with the group, ALEC, when I read the above article. Checking online news and of course, Wikipedia, I see that it is considered a "right-wing", conservative organization made up of state legislators and private sector individuals who draft legislation for members to present to their own state legislatures. Here's a portion of what Wikipedia has to say:

"ALEC's political activities have received considerable scrutiny by both the media and liberal groups. News reports from outlets such as the The New York TimesBloomberg Businessweek, and The Guardian have generally described ALEC as an organization that gives corporate interests outsized influence by enabling them to collaborate with lawmakers secretly but legally.[12][11][9] Critical coverage in recent years has led to a number of major corporations withdrawing their memberships in the organization, including Coca-ColaMicrosoftBank of AmericaGeneral Motors, and Google." ALEC

Hooray for the businesses who have opted out. More publicity should cause many others to withdraw. I wonder how many of the oil/gas conglomerates are members of this organization? (Think Koch Industries.) I can only imagine the influence they must carry with any legislature in regards to climate change or the environment in general. Their financial support must equal or exceed any other industry's lobbying efforts. Their backing of political candidates who will support their ventures is a given. And much of this is conducted in secret!
Frequent result to groundwater caused by fracking .
(New Jersey Sierra Club.org)

The matter of "fracking" that has so many environmentalists concerned is just one example of our destruction of the planet. The money spent by Big Oil on this venture -- and for the PR they put out favoring it, would be better spent on developing the many alternate sources of energy. Energy other than fossil fuels. A friend of mine who lives in a suburb of Oklahoma City told me that in one 24-hour period, they felt 18 minor earthquakes in the OKC area. Most of the local citizens blame these occurrences - which are becoming the norm in areas where fracking is conducted - on the drilling. It is the drilling that causes the earthquakes; and the damage to the layers of the earth drilled through is allowing gas to contaminate the groundwater supplies in many areas. (See photo above.) Of course, the oil  and gas companies deny this.

The recent Climate March and the Global Climate Summit, which drew representatives from all over the world, should shed new light on a subject that has been denied too long by too many. The people and industries of the world are causing the current warming of the earth - the warmest in history. We must act now for our children's and grandchildren's sake.

Peace and love for the planet,
Marilyn