Wednesday, October 15, 2014


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?

(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.

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
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

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,

Friday, October 10, 2014


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

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,

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."

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!
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!
(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. 

"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. 
(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
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,