Saturday, November 07, 2015

Saturday November 7, 2015...IT'S HARD NOT TO BE POLITICAL THESE DAYS

It's hard not to be political these days.

Even though the election isn't until a year from now, we are plagued with politicians flooding our mail and our airwaves with political hubris.  There are hundreds of DEBATES, both federal, state and local trying to winnow down the number that will be presented to us.  The cost of running for any office these days is staggering.  Only the rich or those supported by the rich can afford to run for office - except for Bernie Sanders.  Bernie is only taking contributions for individuals and no corporations and no billionaires.  We'll see how that works out.  The political machines are trying to eliminate the competition so that we will only have their candidate on the left and their candidate on the right to vote for.  Many people have given up on the political situation and refuse to vote, making it easier for organized, supported organizations to control the vote.  I will vote, but with a sigh.

But that's enough for now.  Otherwise, we enjoy the beautiful fall weather and look forward to the holiday season.  Time to think of giving thanks for what's left to celebrate.  And then the one season of the year where we consider those less fortunate than us.  That's when we consider them the victims instead of the perpetrator of their situation.  I enjoy this time of the year more than any other.  I wish we could have Christmas every month of the year.

Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope you have much to be thankful for.
Merry Christmas!  I hope you consider those less fortunate.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sunday July 11, 2015...I REMEMBER WHEN


I could wake up and bound out of bed, without a worry in my head;
I didn‫‬'t have a pain in my body;
I could work all day and party all night;
I could see and hear so well;
I could eat anything and not get an upset stomach;
I didn'‬t have to take any pills;
I didn't know as much as I do now, but I could remember it all;
I didn't have trouble remembering names;
A dollar could buy a hamburger, fries and a shake;
You could fill up the car for three dollars;
Hamburger was 3 pounds for a dollar;
Coffee was 48 cents a pound;
Milk was 3 half gallons for a dollar;
Candy bars were a nickel;
Stamps were 3 cents;
America had the kindest heart and the sincerest wishes for the world;
Hospitals were charitable organizations and nobody had health insurance because healthcare was inexpensive;
Pharmacists mixed up the prescription in their shop and drug companies sold aspirin;
We had the best schools in the world;
Public colleges were cheap and in some places free;

Things have changed. 
Not all the changes are good.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Thursday May 21, 2015...Too Little, Too Late?

Greed has corrupted our Earth and the future of the human race is questionable. A revolution in our thinking and our way of surviving is inevitable, but may still be too late. The Native Americans, who survived for thousands of years, treated the Earth as “the Mother”. They lived “with” the Earth without destroying it. Maybe they had it right and our mantra of “progress” was wrong. We continue to despoil the Earth.

Excerpts from:

Finally! Some climate crisis honesty

Forget About a 2˚C Future; It Will be 4˚-6˚C Degrees, and Soon

Wed, 05/20/2015 - 15:50
 Dave Lindorff

Clearly, the capitalist system, fully corrupted at this point because of the size to which global corporations have grown, and the power they have gained to buy governments, cannot and will not rescue humanity from itself.

The notion that corporations and a capitalist politico-economic system could ever take the necessary steps to halt climate disaster, for example by adopting energy conservation and becoming "green" companies, was always a pipedream. Just "going green," while still producing unneeded junk and continuing to try and grow would never reduce total carbon emissions. It would require massively scaling back the production of useless or polluting goods and services, and shutting down many operations. And while the current US Supreme Court majority may think, or pretend to think, that corporations are people, they actually are institutions that are by their very nature and structure devoid of conscience, devoid of morality, and even devoid of any sense of long-term self-preservation"

A person who made his living trapping sea otters, might, upon learning that the animal was in danger of going extinct, voluntarily stop hunting them, but a corporation, informed that it us overfishing and will wipe out an entire fish species or fishing ground, will not, unless forced to do so, and will predictably fight and bribe politicians and regulators to allow it to keep fishing until there are no more fish.

At this point, if we want to try and hold global warming to the 2˚C limit that scientists say is the maximum increase in temperature that would offer any hope of preventing runaway heating and the resulting chaos of mass extinctions, huge human die-offs and the likely collapse of civilization, we will have to halt the production of internal combustion engines, shut down most corporate farming, close down all coal-fired power plants, massively convert to on-site solar and wind power generation, and most importantly, stop pumping and digging carbon-based fuels out of the ground.

We’re talking here in other words about a revolution -- a total shift away from an economic model that elevates “growth” to godlike status to one that focuses on human needs (as opposed to wants), and away from a philosophy that sees humans as destined to conquer and exploit nature to one that sees humans as simply one integral part of nature -- a philosophy that requires us to figure out how to fit in with and preserve the natural world.

In such a new world, there can be no rich, because the rich – even the ones who may pose in their dotage as do-gooders -- are dangerous and self-centered parasites. Neither can there can be poor because where there are poor, there will be inevitable demands for more -- demands that, while understandable, will lead to destruction of the natural world. Only if all humanity shares to ensure a decent secure life for all can there be any hope of long-term human survival on this limited planet.
The enormity of what humanity faces can no longer be avoided. The methane is already boiling or even exploding up out of the Arctic permafrost and, even worse, out of the seafloor of the coastal continental shelf above Siberia and North America, and over the short term, methane is about 180 time as potent a greenhouse gas as is carbon dioxide. All over the perimeter of Antarctica, which we were earlier told was not showing significant warming, we are seeing the ice melting now, while the Arctic Ocean, solidly frozen year round for the last 2.6 million years, will be ice-free in summer, possibly this year, but assuredly in the next couple of years. Greenland, meanwhile, once a huge sheet of white ice a mile thick, should now be called Greyland, as the rapidly melting ice sheet has now exposed so much of the pollution dumped there over several centuries of Industrial-Era snowfalls, that its surface in summer looks like the remnant snow in New York City three days after a snowstorm: more soot than ice.

For now, the best that can be said is that we are leaving behind the period of denial and the false hopes. As with addiction, the first step is acknowledging one’s sickness, and we are now beginning to acknowledge the real sickness of our capitalist world.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Thursday April 16, 2015...Preparing for the future

Most of your life you don'‬t think of the eventual ending. When you are young, you are preparing for the rest of your life. When you are a young adult, you are working to establish a good life. When you are an older working person, you are preparing for retirement. When you retire, you plan on all the things you have put off to do in your retirement. We all face an ending sometime, but we tend to put off thinking about it because we have more immediate things to think about.

I am now 10 years into my retirement and have end stage renal failure. That means that my kidneys quit functioning and without them my whole body would be poisoned and I would die. I am now on dialysis (a way to filter my bodily fluids so they don‬‬‬‬'‬t poison me). I was researching on the internet the life expectancy of someone on dialysis. It‬'s hard to be definitive because so much depends on the general health of each individual, but it appears that I should have between 3 and 10 years with an average of 5 years of life expectancy at this point. It‬'s good to be prepared. So many others have no idea of how much longer they will live and it is hard to budget and prepare when it is so nebulous. In my situation, I now know about how long I have and can no longer put off till some future date those things that I have always wanted to do but would get to later. Later is now.

Actually, it‬'s comforting to have a glimmer of my mortality. It helps me prepare and get said and done what needs to be.

I have had a wonderful life up to and including this point. I can‬'t complain. Looking forward, I want to finish up some projects around the house and leave some notes behind of thoughts I have had and knowledge that I have gained. I‬'m really not sure what lies ahead, after death, but it might be a new adventure in another realm. I will go ahead of many of you and be waiting on the other side. It‬'s hard to think that this persona that I have developed over all these years will cease to exist – it seems to be a form of energy and, as we all know, energy cannot be destroyed – it can only change form. I hope that the I of me will continue to exist in this vast multiverse. If not, I suppose I won'‬t know the difference.

I know that I don‬‬‬‬'‬t want burial – just cremation and ashes scattered in locations where my daughters and family will have pleasant thoughts remembering. I don‬‬‬‬'‬t want a long drawn out end-of-life sequence where they extend, by mechanical means, a miserable life for a short time. I‬'m quite ready to accept a quick and painless death without a lot of fanfare. Many of my friends and loved ones have preceded me and I look forward to spending some time getting reacquainted. I guess the question is: does time exist in eternity? And are there alternate universes where I exist without the dialysis? Many things we don‬‬‬‬'‬t know and may not find out, ever. But I‬'m glad I lived when I lived and how I lived and am glad for all the friends and family who shared this time with me. It has been exceptional.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Friday April 10, 2015...Afterthoughts of Iraq

We're hearing the war hawks speaking again about war - with Iran.

They are once again saying how easy it will be and how necessary it is.

We've heard this all before.

Before we invaded Iraq, all of the Bush administration cronies and war hawks in Congress were saying that the Iraq War would be easy, quick and relatively painless.
In March of 2003, Dick Cheney told Bob Scheiffer on Face The Nation that, "I'm confident that our troops will be successful, and I think it'll go relatively quickly ... Weeks rather than months."
Just a few months later, Condoleezza Rice proclaimed that, "I do not mean that we will need to maintain a military presence in Iraq as was the case in Europe."
And, then-Chairman of the Defense Policy Board and current Senior Fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute Richard Perle said that, "And a year from now, I'll be very surprised if there is not some grand square in Baghdad that is named after President Bush. There is no doubt that, with the exception of a very small number of people close to a vicious regime, the people of Iraq have been liberated and they understand that they've been liberated. And it is getting easier every day for Iraqis to express that sense of liberation."
Well, first of all, there is no "grand square" in Baghdad right now named after George Bush.
But more importantly, every single comment made back then about the Iraq War was wrong.
As we all know, the war that was supposed to last a few months AT MOST has been dragged out for 12 years.
Since the Iraq War began on March 19, 2003, there have been 4,493 US military deaths in Iraq, and at least 32,021 soldiers have been wounded.
And those numbers don't include the tens of thousands of Iraqis - civilian and otherwise - who lost their lives during the war.
Simply put, the Iraq War wasn't easy, it wasn't quick and it certainly wasn't painless.
Instead, it's been one of the longest and deadliest wars in US history.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday March 22, 2015...SPRING SPRUNG - again

Well, Spring has once more come to the Midwest and I really appreciate the 70 degree weather.  It wasn't a harsh Winter here at all - not like it was back East - but it is still nice to anticipate the greening up of the grass and trees.  That's the one thing I miss most in the Winter - the green and lush grass and forests.  Perhaps that's why I love the mountains and their evergreen pine forests?  We've tried to plant some evergreen trees in the backyard, but it is too wet and clayish for them to take root.  Someday, we will have to figure out a way to drain the water out of the hollow back there.  An underground rock formation has a slight rise at the edge of our property and that contains the moisture in the low spots.  

My son-in-law has come back home from working the oil fields of Wyoming and Colorado.  The work out there is diminishing with the advent of cheaper oil.  So Chuck is home and has a night job picking up roll-off containers around the Crown Center and Plaza areas.  It's tough work for truck drivers and their hours are long,  But at least Chuck is home with his family.  We all missed him while he spent those long years in the oil fields.  He wouldn't get to come home except for a few times a year and he had to work 7 days a week from dawn to dusk.  Now he works from dusk to dawn but he gets off a couple of days a week.  It's good to have him home.

Last year was a medical year for most of my family.  I'm really hoping that this year all will be well.  My grandson, Zachary, will be 16 this year.  He is a fine young man with a good head on his shoulders.  And he has tall, broad shoulders.  Zachary is already over 6 feet tall and taller than the rest of us and still growing.  It's fun to watch his personality developing and his interests to expand.  It's an entirely different world for him to approach than the world that I approached when I was his age.  When I was 16 there were ample part time jobs available and many of my friends and I worked at them for spending money.  Now those types of jobs are not available and many kids get into trouble trying to find some way to raise money.

Beth is still fighting a myriad of ailments, many very debilitating and painful, with her Hepatitus C and Fibromyalgia and Kidney Stones and Migraines.  It seems that when one symptom leaves, another develops.  I feel for sorry for her and wish that I had a cure for the pains that she has.  I keep hoping that someone will come up with a way to relieve her symptoms - in time.  

Deborah has a new job in IT in Burlington, Iowa.  She has moved a lot in the last few years, but I'm hoping that this move will let her settle down for a while.  She seems to really like her new place of work and the job itself.  It's nice to hear her happy!  She has had a lot of stress the last few years and deserves a break.  Maybe she can explore the region and rekindle some of her past interests and hobbies.

I'm surviving the nightly peritoneal dialysis with little complications.  I feel that I have some control of my life right now and that this system will give me the bit of freedom that I seem to require.  When I had to go to the clinic for dialysis 3 times a week, it really beat me down.  I basically lost those 3 days of time each week and felt that I couldn't really schedule much activity around those days.  I was also very tired those days and had to rest a lot.  Now I perform dialysis at home, in bed, at night while I sleep and wake up refreshed and ready to go.  What a great change.  It does limit you on travel, because of the equipment and supplies, but it is worth it.

I'm looking forward to a wonderful Spring, green and lush and maybe even a wonderful Summer.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tuesday February 24, 2015...Wheezing and Sputtering?

You know how an old car sputters and backfires? 

Sometimes the radiator lets off steam and sometimes oil leaks from the engine. 

The fuel pump gets clogged and the carburetor wheezes. 

The body gets scratched and dented.

The shocks and struts don’t cushion like they used to.

You keep putting fuel in the tank, but you don’t get the mileage or the performance that you used to get. 

Maybe your windshield gets cracked and you can’t see out as well as you used to. 

There are just so many tuneups in the life of the old car and there comes a point where it starts to fall apart. You try to clean it up and polish it, but it won’t ever be new again. That’s all right – it gave some glorious trips and some dependable transportation along the way and it’s not quite ready for the junk yard.

I’ve been sputtering and wheezing this last week – luckily not to much backfiring, but I can tell that the old jalopy is not new any more. I’ve been taking my medicine and trying to get as much mileage as I can. Sometimes, when you’re sick and tired, you look back on the course you’ve driven and appreciate the wonderful views you’ve enjoyed and the great scenery of your life. It’s been a great trip so far and I’m not ready to detour yet, but I do appreciate all the fine people who have copiloted with me. 

Someday, we will all be gone and a new generation will be taking their excursions. 
I hope they have as good a time as I have had.   

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Sunday February 1, 2015...Core Issues that should be discussed

This from

I would have to agree with their analysis.  We need more discussion of these issues.

Fifteen Core Issues the Country Must Face

  • These are fifteen core issues that are in crisis in the United States. This list was developed during the organizing process for the Occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC. There are solutions to each of these crises and many of them are supported by a majority of the population, but instead of considering these solutions, the government is headed in the opposite direction placing corporate greed before the needs of people and the planet.
  1. Corporatism – Firmly establish that money is not speech, corporations are not people and only people have Constitutional rights. End corporate influence over the political process. End corporate welfare that enriches the few and instead treat government investment as something that all profit from, ensure corporations pay their fair share by ending corporate loopholes and tax subsidies and put in place a global tax so that off-shoring of money does not avoid taxes. Protect people and the environment from damage by corporations and end corporate trade agreements and partnerships that undermine consumer, labor and environmental protections.
  2. Wars and Militarism – End wars and occupations, end private for-profit military contractors and end the weapons export industry. War crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes against peace must be addressed and those responsible held accountable under international law. Reduce the national security state and demilitarize the police.
  3. Human Rights – End exploitation of people in the US and abroad. End discrimination in all forms (race, gender, sexual orientation and ethnicity), guarantee equal civil rights, and the right of people to travel across borders to work and live. Make the Universal Declaration of Human Rights a reality.
  4. Worker Rights and Jobs – Guarantee that all working-age people have the right to safe, just, non-discriminatory and dignified working conditions, a sustainable living wage, paid leave and economic protection. Put in place policies that allow worker owned and managed businesses, e.g. worker-owned cooperatives, so workers can build wealth and have greater control over their economic lives.
  5. Government – Guarantee that all processes of the three branches of government are be accountable to international law, transparent and follow the rule of law. Respect the civil rights of government employees. Create a work environment in government that empowers service to people, participation, honesty and integrity and that protects whistleblowers. Build policies and infrastructure that allow people to participate in decision making.
  6. Elections – Guarantee that all citizens 18 and older have the right to vote without barriers and establish universal voter registration. Guarantee that all candidates have the right to be heard in open debates and to run with low-threshold ballot access laws. Count all votes in a transparent method open to the public. Institute new voting systems so that more than majority views are represented, e.g. proportional representation; and voting systems that avoid voting based on fear of the greater evil, e.g. instant run-off or ranked choice voting. Create a level playing field by funding public elections with public dollars and clean election laws. Require that all donations directly and indirectly to elections should be transparent, i.e. no anonymous funding of elections.
  7. Criminal Justice and Prisons – end stop and frisk and other racial profiling police practices that lead to police harassment,  brutality and even killings of civilians; respect constitutional rights against search and seizure, right to counsel and against self-incrimination. End the drug war and adopt a public health, evidence-based drug policy that respects individual rights and does not rely on law enforcement. End private for-profit prisons, end mandatory sentencing, recognize prisoners have the right to humane and just conditions with a focus on rehabilitation and reintegration into society and abolish the death penalty. Police need to protect the right to peaceably assemble to redress grievances and the right to Freedom of Speech without infiltration or other police practices that undermine those rights.
  8. Healthcare – Create a national, universal and publicly financed comprehensive health system, i.e. improved Medicare for All, which provides full health coverage throughout life with no out-of-pocket costs. Promote wellness in public policy. Recognize that health is a human right not a commodity.
  9. Education – Guarantee that all people have the right to a high quality, publicly-funded and broad education from pre-school through vocational training or university.
  10. Housing – Guarantee that all people have the right to affordable and safe housing. End predatory mortgage and foreclosure practices.
  11. Environment – Adopt policies which effectively create a carbon-free and nuclear free energy economy and that respect the rights of nature. Confront climate change with a rapid and comprehensive transition to an energy efficient, wind, solar and other renewable source-based economy that ends the wasteful use of energy. End the extractive economy and move toward a circular system where there is no waste and everything is re-used. Remake land use planning to support a healthy environment.
  12. Finance and the Economy – Break up the too big to fail banks, develop public banks in every state and major city, encourage community banks and credit unions, create local stock exchanges to allow investment in local communities and create microfinance loans to encourage entrepreneurship and support local businesses. Re-make the Federal Reserve into a transparent, democratic institution that responds to the needs of the economy and not to the needs of big banks. Put limits on the discrepancy between worker and executive pay. End policies which foster a wealth divide and move to a localized and democratic financial system. Guarantee that people’s deposits are protected and that the public does not pay for financial institutions that fail. Reform taxes so that they are progressive and provide goods, monetary gain and services for the people including creating a guaranteed national income.
  13. Media – End the concentration of media by a small number of corporations. Democratize the media by recognizing that the airwaves and the internet are public goods and recognize independent and citizen’s media as legitimate media outlets. Require that media be accurate and accountable to the people and that the internet be accessible to all people, respect people’s privacy and promote the sharing of information.
  14. Food and Water – Create systems that protect the land and water, create local, affordable and sustainable food networks, encourage community supported agriculture and farmer’s markets and diversify local food supplies so that food does not depend on transit over long distances. Encourage organic food production free of chemicals and end genetically modified foods. Guarantee the right to produce and harvest seeds. Stop commodification of water and guarantee access to water as a public good.
  15. Transportation – Provide affordable, clean and convenient public transportation and safe spaces for pedestrian and non-automobile travel. Develop land use planning that creates walkable and bikeable communities, with mass transit so that people do not depend on automobiles. Improve travel by train, rapid transit and commuter rails, so people are not dependent on air travel and automobiles.